Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pierce at Laura's Studio

A 360 degree panoramic photo of Pierce at his art lesson in Laura's studio today. Click on the panorama below to enlarge. Alternatively click and drag to move a virtual camera in the panorama viewer below. For the best effect, click on the 'full screen' icon in the bottom right hand corner and then click and drag to move the camera.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Wow! What a couple of weeks we've had. Not to mention everyone else along the New Jersey and New York coast. Hurricane Sandy flooded Hoboken Monday night October 29th and flood waters trapped us in our third floor apartment until Thursday morning November 1st. Our power and heat went out the night of the storm and didn't return until seven days later on Monday night November 5th. Fortunately, we were well provisioned, and we had hot water and gas for cooking. We can't complain though. Many of our friends and neighbors lost property and sustained major damage to their homes and businesses. Almost two weeks later, the clean-up and rebuilding continue.

Here are a number of pictures and a quick video of what I saw around Hoboken before, during and after the storm. Many of the pictures are taken from the perspective of our apartment window looking out onto the street below simply because that was our main view of the world while we were trapped waiting for the flood waters to recede. Click on the pictures below to see all the photos.

From Hurricane Sandy - Pre Storm 2012

From Sandy - The Storm - 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Fear Godzilla! Pierce's latest pastel from his art lessons. (Click to enlarge)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Minecraft at the NY Film Festival

Yesterday, we were alerted to a Minecraft happening today at the NY Film Festival at the Lincoln Center. Two famed Minecraft "builders", Kupo and Ridgedog, spoke about the genesis and evolution of the VoxelBox server project and how story-telling plays an important role in the creation of new Minecraft worlds. The VoxelBox community of designers have created some incredible things with Minecraft. Pierce and his friend Ian and I attended only to discover that two more of his friends had decided to attend too. After the event, Kupo and Ridgedog met with their fans at the Lincoln Center Plaza's fountain.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Pierce!

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

A little overdue but better late than never: here are a selection of pictures from our annual family vacation to Vancouver Island, BC and Alberta. We followed the same time-tested relaxation formula as previous years: some time with the Bond family at Arbutus Ridge on the Island, some time with the immediate family in Tofino on the Island's west coast, some time with the Wall family in Cochrane Alberta, and camping in Alberta's Kananaskis Provincial Park. It was three weeks but it still felt too short!

Click on both pictures to see more pictures.

From Vancouver Island 2012

From Cochrane and Kananaskis 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Intrepid Randy and Pierce

Randy and Pierce visiting the Intrepid on a muggy summer afternoon.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Brookhaven Lab RHIC Tour

On a hot and muggy day, Pierce and I, and two of Pierce's friends and one of their Dads, visited the celebrated Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island. On select summer Sundays the lab opens different lab facilities for public tours. Today, we had the opportunity to tour RHIC, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Essentially, RHIC accelerates ions (atoms stripped of their electrons) to very nearly the speed of light. The ions travel in opposing directions in a 2.4 mile tunnel under the ground, where they collide, head-on, with one another. Massive detectors record these collisions and the showers of sub-atomic particles that are emitted when they collide.

 Click on the picture below for a slide show of our visit.

From Brookhaven Lab RHIC Tour

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot Washington DC

We chose to visit Washington DC during a record breaking heat wave immediately following July 4th. The temperature reached as high as 106 F / 41 C during the day and was as high as 90 F / 32 C first thing in the morning. Nevertheless, we stayed as cool as possible by checking out an assortment of museums, some revisited since our previous visit 6 years ago when Pierce was only 5, and others new.

Day 1 took us to the Smithsonian American Art Museum to check out the Art of Video Games exhibition there. Needless to say, this was a hit with Pierce. The same day, we revisited the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and caught an afternoon lecture entitled "Before the Dawn of Humankind: The Evolution and Extinction of Apes in the Old World" which addressed early ape evolution.

Day 2 took us to the Holocaust Memorial Museum which left an impression on all of us. Pierce had read two Holocaust-related novels this year at school and the exhibit helped to round out his knowledge of the event. The afternoon we spent revisiting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Although the temperature had only dropped a little we decided to brave the heat and revisit the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial and, a favorite of mine, the Korean War Memorial.

On our final day, we rented a Zip car and drove out towards Dulles airport to see the immense Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center. The center is packed with planes and spacecraft  of all sizes including the space shuttle Discovery.

Overall, a great trip and still many things remain to see for our next trip.

Click on the picture below to see a few pictures from the trip.

From Washington DC 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Otter Trio

Pierce's latest pastel, a trio of cute baby otters, standing in stark contrast to his menacing Dunkleosteus, and his sinister War of the Worlds alien. Click to enbiggen!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yeast Experiment Follow-Up

Here is Pierce's science fair presentation describing the failed yeast evolution experiment and the successful yeast contamination experiment. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wallace Field Day 2012

The much anticipated Wallace Field Day (our 6th) may have been the best yet with the addition of a DJ who had everyone bustin' a move including Pierce!  Many thanks to our amazing PTO for a great event. You can click the pix to make them bigger and enjoy the videos which capture the energy of the day as everyone cut loose celebrating the end of another great school year.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quantum Levitation

Brian Greene demonstrating the amazing effects of quantum levitation at his wonderful World Science Festival talk on quantum physics tonight at NYU's Skirball Center. It was capacity crowd of over 900 people. We spotted science-o-phile Alan Alda as he arrived. Here's a much-watched video from last year showing quantum levitation - absolutely amazing!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Space Program: Mars

As usual (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008), we took advantage of the empty city on Memorial Day weekend, this time to take a look at Tom Sach's "Space Program: Mars" installation at the Park Avenue Armory. It ended up being as much a theatrical event as an installation. The staff were fully "indoctrinated" for the voyage, and we were enjoined to join the mission too (we declined). A sly sense of humor pervaded the exhibit but it was very light on the science, drawing its inspiration from forty year old Apollo era Moon-shot technology.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Drats! Contamination!

Well, we had to abort our ambitious science project after we discovered something got into our yeast broth and contaminated it. The broth became cloudy, then bubbles formed on the surface, and finally a white sediment formed on the bottom. Although we had taken care not to get yeast from our culture tubes into the broth, it looked like yeast contamination. We hypothesized that airborne yeast must have found its way into the broth. So this became the topic of the revised experiment. We brewed up some new broth, and left it out for a few days to see if we could reproduce the contamination. And we did! The microscope revealed the sediment contained wee-beasties with the expected shape and size of yeast.

The cloudy, contaminated broth after two days. Notice the sediment on the bottom.
Reproducing the contamination after two days.

A video of the sediment at 400X magnification.
The sediment at 400X magnification.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Whitney Biennial

Today we realized that only one week remains before the Whitney Biennial closes so we hustled over to the East side on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon. But after touring the galleries, we were left feeling a little "blah" about what we saw. We had hoped to see something really pioneering but nothing really grabbed our attention. Nevertheless, the walk along Central Park in such beautiful weather meant that the day hadn't been a total write-off.

Not part of the Biennial, but one of Pierce's favorite pieces when we visit the Whitney.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pierce Preparing a Pipette

Today Pierce and I started working on his science fair project. The goal is ambitious: to replicate a recent experiment that uses natural selection to realize multi-celluarity in yeast. We'll see how far we get. Although the original experiment was relatively simple, the kitchen lab is a far cry from a university lab. Even if we don't succeed, Pierce is enjoying himself. As he worked with the pipette he remarked how scientists get to work with such cool equipment.

Pierce pipetting YPD broth for growing the yeast.
Dry brewer's yeast.

Yeast ready for growing in the culture tubes.
The yeast growing environment is a cardboard box lined with black foam-core and warmed by a light bulb. Our LEGO rocker gently agitates the culture tubes

The box containing the culture tubes. The LEGO Mindstorms controller for the rocker inside and an indoor/outdoor thermometer to monitor the temperature in the box.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

LEGO Mindstorms Test Tube Rocker

Pierce and I built this contraption for periodically agitating test tubes using LEGO Mindstorms NXT. The video shows the two test tubes being rocked every 2 seconds but, for our yeast growing experiment, we're going to use an interval of 30 seconds. According to Pierce, the guy on top thinks he's using a see-saw of doom.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Pierce's latest pastel from his art class: a giant Devonian period armored fish called Dunkleosteus. A nice complement to his earlier alien creation. He's now started work on something decidedly fluffier and cuter. Click to enlarge (if you dare!).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Space Shuttle Enterprise Hoboken Fly Over

I joined an excited crowd on Hoboken's Pier A for the flyover of the Space Shuttle Enterprise and was not disappointed. The Enterprise, a prototype, had been on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.. Following the end of the shuttle program (boo hoo) the Enterprise's new home will be on the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in NYC.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mama-razzi strikes again!

As Pierce will tell you the only thing more annoying than the paparazzi is the mama-razzi a.k.a his mother (me) with a camera ;-)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ghosts in Hoboken

Pierce was happy to discover the PAC-MAN ghost characters Inky and Pinky in Hoboken.  Eric Klein, a local tape artist, created them on the walls of an active warehouse (the former Wonder Bread factory) that we pass everyday on the way to and from school. Klein's online gallery of his wide ranging work as a tape artist is worth a look.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Escape From Alcatraz!

Highlights of our visit to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and its old prison

Easter Haul

Pierce's Easter haul including Killer Bunny and chocolate Zombie Bunny. From the chocolate zombie bunny description: Chocolate Zombie Bunny will destroy you all. The virus has turned his flesh to delicious white chocolate. Save the world; bite his head off!

Spring Break in Monterey and San Francisco

Our family Spring Break vacation to Monterey and San Francisco. In Monterey we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Then we drove the beautiful coast highway to San Francisco. In San Francisco we visited the old prison on Alcatraz Island and the SF Exploratorium. Click on the picture for a slide show of trip highlights.

From Monterey and San Francisco 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another Trip to Tel Aviv

Highlights of my recent two week business trip to Tel Aviv, my second trip in less than a year. I, and two colleagues, Eric and Tom, taught over 40 employees at AT&T Tel Aviv how to work with the software tools we've developed. While the business side of the trip kept me very busy, I was able to to take a quick trip to Jerusalem, where Eric ran in the Jerusalem half marathon in the morning (and I took photos). Fortunately, he had enough energy remaining to accompany me on an afternoon tour of the Christian quarter of Jerusalem's Old City (last year's trip to Jerusalem we visited the Jewish Quarter). Click on the picture for a slide show.

From Tel Aviv and Jerusalem 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Greg the Cable Guy

Cable guy training time again. It feels like mandatory military service. This time around our job description has broadened to include connecting the house to the telephone wires strung from telephone poles. So here I am up on a 22 foot extension ladder learning to strap myself to the ladder, and my ladder to the wire and to the telephone pole.