A Trip To The Aquarium

Last week the kids had a four-day weekend, so I took a day off from work to take the girls on a special outing.  We went to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT.  They had a bunch of cool stuff there including seals, sharks, sea turtles, lionfish, flounder, crabs, jellyfish, and an octopus.  Also some cool models of sailing ships, and a whole room full of frogs and amphibians, including a tank of rare axolotls.  (My friend Seth once had these cool creatures as pets.)

Lizzy took a ton of pictures and I made them into a gallery.  Also the girls are guest bloggers tonight, telling about it in their own words.

Hello my name is Elizabeth.  Or you can call me Lizzy.  I also like Liz.  Or Eliz.  I love chipmunks.  CHIPMUNKS!  I know they don’t even swim.  But I love them…  Right fish hahaha bing bam bang buuuuurp.  Excuse me. The seals were SOOOOO cute.  The turtles with human heads were also pretty cool.  We got to touch horseshoe crabs, stingrays and starfish.  The sharks were amazing.  Michelle loved them.  They have new African penguins that were SOOOOO cute.  There was a giant sea turtle there.  It was HUUUUUUGE!!!  I told Chippy all about it.  Thank you Daddy for taking a day to take us to the aquarium.  I know how busy you are.    : – )

Hello my name is Michelle.  I hate the sharks.  I love the African Penguins.  The Jellyfish didn’t sting me.  Did you know that I watched the seals and I’ve seen what they eat?  It’s fish.

Photo Galleries Update

One of things I like to do in the wintertime is update my photo galleries.  This year it’s taken a bit longer than usual because of moving into my new computer.  Here are three Family and Friends Foto galleries, going back all the way to last spring and bringing us up to date thru the first half of the summer.  As usual they are password protected, so if you are friends and family and need the password, please contact me.


Painting Project Update

We’ve been busy over here as usual, but it looks like we’ve made it thru the coldest darkest part of winter and spring is within hoping distance.

We just finished repainting out living room, having started last weekend. Since our house has a sort of open plan, this necessarily included the hall to the bedrooms, the kitchen, the stairway and the downstairs hall as well the living room itself. Like the family room last month, we were using the same color paint and the main purpose was to freshen up the heavy traffic areas, so we didn’t move very much furniture or do much cutting in on the edges, just started in with the roller. Last time I painted this area right when we bought the house, and I mind I kept flashing back to that time. Unfortunately when the paint dried the color was different enough to be noticeable, so the next I had do go back and do all the edging and blend enough to make it look proper, which included a high wall on our vaulted ceiling. The one place I couldn’t reach was the high walls above the stairs, so I had to wait a week to finish that.

The main challenge was finding the correct ladder. I have a 6’ ladder and a 12’ telescoping ladder that gets up to 20’ so I can get up on the roof of my house and clean out the gutters once a year and that sort of thing. Unfortunately, the 6’ ladder was way too short, but the big ladder was too big and to heavy to maneuver in the stairway. Luckily I was able to pull it apart and use just one half, which was a good foot shorter and much lighter, so with that I got the job done.

Next up, in a month or so, we’ll start in on the ceilings. The living room and family room both have the original coat of paint from when the house was built and could use a fresh coat. Both are pretty big spaces though, so we’ll see how long it takes. Luckily once that gets done, just the trim remains and the whole house will have gotten a fresh coat of paint this year. Hopefully we won’t have to repeat this job for quite a few more years after this.

View Out the Window

Of all the buildings in New York City the one I work in seems to most resemble Orthanc, the tower of Saruman.  Sometimes I even wonder if we keep Wizards on the roof.  I’ve worked in a number of different offices on different floors with different views, and find the endless changes in seasons, weather and lighting fascinating.  A year ago I moved from the west side of the building to the east, and the view changed from looking down over Hell’s Kitchen across the Hudson and New Jersey all the way to the Poconos, to looking down onto Times Square with the occasional glimpse of Brooklyn and Queens beyond. I put up a gallery of these two views Now I’ve moved again, to the south side where the view is basically the building next door.

Happy Valentines Day

I came up with a new origami model, which I’m calling the Love Bug.  It’s a whimsical insect, a variations on my butterfly where the wings form the shape of a heart.   It was inspired in part by playing cards with Lizzy the other night.  The deck was the kind where every card has a picture, and the ace of hearts had a similar sort of moth or something.  The other inspiration was my ongoing quest to make a satisfying origami ladybug.  I had once made an attempt based on my butterfly and figured out a way to do the color change for the wings and again for the spots.  Unfortunately the basic body plan was too different for it to work, and the legs ended up in the wrong place and the wings were the wrong shape.  But I found I was able to use that approach for this one, and here you go!

Ski Day

Well after all my complaining about the cold, it seems like someone finally listened and we’re now enjoying a nice mild spell.  All the snow has pretty much melted in the last two days.

Last Saturday Jeannie I went on a day trip skiing without the kids, up to the Berkshires.  And we just barely beat the weather.  When we woke up at the break of day it was 12 degrees out, and by the time we made it to the mountain it was 28 or so.  Just perfect.  Conditions were good and our energy level was high, and we both had a fantastic day skiing.  All that Nordic Track has really been paying off.  By early afternoon the temperature had crept above freezing, as evidenced by the snow sticking to our skis and melting on the ride up the lift.  Still it made it pleasant to be out, so we kept on going, and by the time were ready to go home they had turned on the lights for night skiing.  When we got into the car the thermometer said 44 degrees.


This post is inspired by friend Nick who recently started doing is own home-rolled workout.  I’ve been doing something similar for years.  I started doing it in the year 2000 when I was living in Brooklyn, and I had been sick for most of the winter and had lots of problems with my back and shoulders from using the computer too much, and had been gaining weight too.  I also had an injured ankle that needed some kind of rehabilitation.  I’d been in pretty good about getting regular exercise in thru college, but once I got a regular desk job I kind of let it slide for a few years.  When I lived in California I biked and skated alot year round, but when I was back in New York City that became a seasonal thing.

So it was time to get back into a workout groove.  I had a baby and was living in an apartment, so it wasn’t feasible to either go out to a gym or get lots of a equipment.  I started with just pushups and situps and a few stretches and sort of added in new things and changed them around over the course of the first year or two. Alot of the focus is on core trunk strength, the back, abdomen and shoulders. The basic idea is to alternate between strength and flexibility exercises in sets or short sequences.  When I got weights I decided to limit myself to a pair of dumbbells that could be easily stowed.  After I got my house I got a bench, cuz I had to modify some exercises where I lift weights over my head so as not to hit the ceiling.

I got most of my stretching ideas from two books:  Yoga for Health by Richard Hittleman and Body Control (Pilates) by Lynn Robinson and Gordon Thompson. Yoga and Pilates are alot alike, except with Yoga it’s tied in with the holistic philosophy and vegetarianism, and the ultimate goal is to be in good enough shape so you can spend hours sitting in meditation without getting tired or losing concentration. Pilates is more western and non-spiritual but both have the goal of using the body as a lever to work itself out.

My workout goes like this:

warmup: 60 jumping jacks
stretch: chest expansion, rishi’s posture (touch opposite knee), toe touch, abdominal lift
25 pushups
stretch: chest expansion, rishi’s posture, toe touch, abdominal lift
25 more pushups

stretch: triangle, waist twist
weights: shoulder roll, arm curls (10x @100 lbs.)
stretch: neck roll, trunk roll
weights: shoulder roll, arm curls (10x @100 lbs.)
stretch: balance posture (stand on one foot), leg stretches
weights: shoulder press (10x @100 lbs.), bench press (10x @100 lbs.)

stretch: leg lifts, ankle rolls, knee-thigh stretch
weights: upright butterfly, tricep curls, horizontal butterfly, backstroke (10x each @ 70 lbs.)
stretch: shoulder stand, plow
weights: upright butterfly, tricep curls, horizontal butterfly, backstroke (10x each @ 70 lbs.)

10 squats
40 full situps
40 oblique crossovers
80 crunches
80 oblique crunches
80 reverse situps
cool down: headstand (2 minutes)

I can usually do it in an hour and 10 minutes.  If I push myself for speed I can do it in an hour even, but this is only possible if my energy level is really good, and when I’m tired I tend to take the stretching slower.

A funny thing, it used to take more like an hour and a half to do the workout.  Then about a year ago I started listening to music while I worked out.  It’s important to have a good CD to workout to, and after trying a few I fell into a groove with Steely Dan Alive In America, which is a great album, but only half the songs are really uptempo.  A few months ago I switched to Moving Pictures by the great Canadian power trio Rush.  A good high energy record and perhaps their greatest disc.  I had thought the record was 45 minutes long, and really hustled to stay on pace, and when I was done I realized the album was only 40 minutes long and I had shaved 10 minutes off my workout!

Another thing: I never did a headstand in my life until I was over 30. Now I can do it for 10 minutes or more.

Nowadays I usually work out 6 days a week. I do the workout I just described three times a week and on the alternate days I do a cardio thing, which when the weather is good means rollerblading or bike riding, and now in the winter it’s the Nordic Track or sometimes just a walk.  The Nordic Track is new this winter for me and seems to be working pretty good so far.  As evidenced by the recent ski trip…

New Computer: Fun With Photo Booth Movies

I’ve been busy moving into my new computer, and so far it’s not too bad, although it’s dragging on, and Apple is just as bad as Microsoft in their own little ways. It’s amazing the little gaps in my software that I need to replace now. Audio, video and network utilities, not to mention syncing and organizing all my old data. In any event, the new version of PhotoBooth make movies, and Lizzy and Michelle were happy to give it a go.

New Recording: Earthbound

Here is a rough mix of my new song Earthbound. This is a bit more of a standard rock song for me. It doesn’t use any out time signatures or strange jazz chords, and it doesn’t even have a solo section. Instead it relies on an insistent riff and building repetitions of the chorus, contrasted with a more introspective and narrative verse.

The track is basically done except for a few things. One is I want to layer in a track of Lizzy singing on the chorus. The second is I’m considering whether I should change the bass line in the verse. The idea for the current part was inspired by the kind of pseudo-ska figures Sting used to use with the Police. I’m concerned however, that it comes off as too percussive, and maybe I should so something more legato. The third thing is the 2nd synthesizer part, which does a couple of low notes and a big upward portmento swoop in the middle of the song. I used a preset patch on my built-in software synth, but I think it sounds a bit cheesy. So I’m gonna fire up some of my outboard gear and do this one over with a custom-tailored patch.

My friend John Neumann has been giving me some arranging and producing feedback on this one. I thought I was almost done, but he has some good ideas so now I’m thinking again.