Sunday, February 24, 2008

Launch Party

Yesterday was Miles' birthday party. Bonnie of Children's Technology Workshop did a great job leading a squirmy crew of boys through the process and the physics of building catapults. It's amazing what chaos a small band of 8-9 year old boys can generate! They quickly jumped into modifying their new creations with thicker rubberbands...or more of them to get more power. As you can imagine, they wanted to launch wet sponges, grapes, stuffed animals, etc.

Everyone got mustaches in their goody bags and looked great in them, but somehow we didn't manage to get many good shots. Here's one of Miles in a rather distinguished looking one.

Oh and here's a snap of Miles' teacher leading the class in singing Happy Birthday when we brought in cupcakes. It happened to be Pajama Day.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Birthday Boy

Today we celebrated Miles' birthday with a low-key family celebration. Next weekend is his party with his friends -- catapults will be involved. Should prove exciting!

This picture was taken with his new camera courtesy of Nana. He loved all his gifts from Grandma and Grandpa, too, and is itching to put them to use.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Meet our guitar teacher Sam

Miles and I just started taking guitar lessons with Sam, in his wild apartment featured in the video. When we bought Miles' guitar before our first lesson and mentioned our teacher's name in the shop, everyone smiled and said, "Moooo". Now we understand. His apartment has even more features now and HGTV did a little piece on it.

I knew we had found the right guy when during the lesson Miles was trying to be a bit too clever...and Sam looked at me and said, "Don't worry, I can 'out-Miles' Miles."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Snapped these Jim Dine hearts at the DeCordova Museum last weekend. Hope your day is sweet!

Monday, February 11, 2008

DeCordova Museum

On Saturday we traced, for a little while, the route of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Amazing to see the actual routes and sites. We spent much more time though at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln. Just as we started to step outside to view the sculture garden, the snow clouds started unloading. Here are some pics from our snowy visit.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Costa Rican memories

One of the secret perks of this fellowship is a “field-trip” to Costa Rica. Such hardship! It’s frequently described as a working trip, and indeed, it was heavily scheduled. But this is the kind of work anyone could get used to. We spent a full-day learning about Costa Rica’s national health-care system, which, as they say, allows a 3rd-world economy to achieve 1st-world health standards. It’s not perfect, and not directly applicable to the U.S. But it was pretty interesting to see what a strict public-health focus can achieve. They still have lots of grumbling about the taxes, and those who are healthy feel they shouldn’t have to pay so much.

The more glamorous part of the trip took us first to an active volcano, called Arenal. It's one of the most active in the world, erupting pretty steadily since the late 1960's. We hiked in as far as you are allowed to go, and with binoculars, you can watch boulders tumbling down the flanks, in little bursts all day, every day. At night, if the cloud lifts, it looks like little campfire ashes floating in the blackness. And at any hour, you can hear the crashing thuds.

In the rain forest, highlights included the amazing leaf-cutter ants (yes, bugs – but they have an incredible ecological niche. They fan out, cut off swatches of leaves, and carry them home, where, like farmers, they are harvesting a giant underground fungus, which is the sustenance for the colony. True symbiosis: The fungus only grows when the ants care for it; the ants depend on the fungus. Okay, I’ll stop now.) We went out with a researcher who captures bats at night (we saw four fruit bats and one vampire). They were pretty traumatized by our flashlights, as she held them for us.

And we got a few hours at the beach, the last day, where I rode a surf-board for the first time. Managed to stand up for about two seconds. The rest of the time was spent on marathon bus rides, along the winding mountain highways of Central America.