And by listeners like…my 23 month old son.

Posted July 27, 2013 by bpatricksullivan
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me came on the radio this morning, and Owen said, “EN PEE AHH!!” and started clapping. When Carl Kasell introduced himself, Owen also celebrated: “Kahl Kassell!! Yay!!” We have a young NPR fan.

Liebster Award

Posted April 24, 2013 by bpatricksullivan
Categories: Uncategorized


11 Facts about me:
1. I recently became a Freemason.
2. I love teaching physics.
3. I enjoy wearing bowties. They are safer to wear in a laboratory, harder to spill soup on, and always come out the right length on the first attempt at tying.
4. I learned to knit, and to play the banjo almost entirely using the internet.
5. Since moving to Northern Maine, I’ve gotten more enthused about a few southern foods: cheese grits, and deep fried okra.
6. My blood type is O+, but I can’t give blood anymore because of the part of Africa that I’ve visited.
7. My left thumb pops out of its socket easily.
8. I started playing violin when I was 10, and I know play second violin in the Northern Maine Chamber Society, but I played viola for a year in college.
9. I was on the track team in middle and high school. I ran the quarter mile and the hurdles.
10. I like black licorice. I think many people who remember disliking black licorice as kids might now enjoy it.
11. I’ve been using Ubuntu Linux as my primary operating system for about six months.

Sarah’s Questions:
1.) What is your favorite animal?

That’s a tough one. Narwhals are interesting and have a hilarious name. Honeybadgers are certainly formidable, but sort of trendy. Birds are my favorite animal to photograph.

2.) What is your favorite day of the work week?

I like Tuesday and Friday because I get to play chamber music with my students. Perhaps Friday wins because in addition to chamber music, it features bow-ties. Some of my colleagues and I have agreed to observe “Bow-tie Friday.”

3.) How many pets have you had and what kinds?

I have had five cats in my life, many fish when I was much younger, and a fire-bellied newt when I was between 7 and 10.

4.) What is your favorite blog to read?

I haven’t been blog reading (or blog writing) as much as I did pre-fatherhood, but my favorites have been madtown-mamma-knits.

5.) Have you been to Boulder, CO and, if so, do you think it’s some sort of dream land?

I have been to Boulder. It was alright, but I don’t think it’s some sort of dream land.

6.) What was/is your favorite thing to do on a snow day (if you’ve ever had one)?

Today is a snow day and I went snow shoeing with my family which was pretty great. I think in general I like to play in the snow either with backcountry skis, snowshoes, or a sled. Another favorite though is to watch tv while taking a bath.

7.) Do you own a Snuggie?


8.) What was the last movie you saw in the theater?

The Hobbit.

9.) What is your favorite cookie recipe?

This one, but with orange-flower water and without chocolate:

10.) Did you ever own any NKOTB merchandise?

No. Not even a tape.

11.) Which is your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?


Have Sonic Screwdriver, Will Travel

My 12-string Top 10

Posted March 19, 2013 by bpatricksullivan
Categories: Music

Tags: , , ,

On the way back from Puerto Rico one of my student’s families hosted me and several students overnight. On the drive to the bus station, we listened to a satellite radio station featuring acoustic covers of originally electric songs–a thing I’ve always enjoyed. I was struck by how many of them featured 12-string guitars. I’ve always loved the jingle-jangle sound of a 12 string. So when Owen and I were listening to music one night recently, I decided to compile a top ten list of songs featuring the 12 string guitar. Here they are not *necessarily* in the order of greatness that I’d place them, but close).

We’ll start with one that just cracks me up. Warning: There may be some swearing.
10. Leather and Lace (Dave Grohl and Will Farrel):

Next up, here’s a hit from my youth that I hadn’t heard in ages. You might be most likely to know Extreme because of ‘More than Words’, but this is another good acoustic tune from them:
9. Hole Hearted – Extreme

8. A Horse with No Name – America

This next one I love in all its 12-string incarnations that I’ve heard (Super tramp, the Goo Goo Dolls cover, and Roger Hodgson (the song’s author) singing on his own).

7. Give a little bit – Roger Hodgson

6. Hotel California – The Eagles

5. A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles. Note the iconic 12-string solo by George Harrison at 1:20 into the track

4. Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds. As far as I know, the Byrds pioneered the arpeggiated electric 12-string Rickenbacker sound. I didn’t realize that that sound was a 12 string until I was about 13. Until that realization I thought 12 strings were always acoustic and could only be strummed.

3. Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi.

2. Wish you were here – Pink Floyd. Here David Gilmour covers it acoustically

1. Turn Turn Turn – The Byrds

Centrifugal Ice Cycles

Posted March 19, 2013 by bpatricksullivan
Categories: Geek, Pictures

In addition to being a potentially good name for a geeky band or album, centrifugal ice cycles exist, and I discovered them on our Corolla yesterday! Check em out (click the photo for a closer look):


I rushed to take the picture right after we got home, but the radial ice cycles lasted all day long!

Club Juggling

Posted February 13, 2013 by bpatricksullivan
Categories: Uncategorized

While Beth, Owen, and I were on the road for a couple weeks, I learned to juggle clubs

Juggling really satisfies my desire for progress and clears my mind. I’ve noticed with juggling that if I practice something for, say, two or three weeks, there will be day after day that it just doesn’t work. Suddenly one day, I’m juggling 40 to 60 throws with clubs (not in the video, but many times with the clubs that day on the beach). I don’t know why it works that way. Extreme-feeling breakthroughs punctuate plateaus of seeming incompetence. Physics can be similar to juggling in that way, actually.

Owen uses Chopsticks!

Posted February 12, 2013 by bpatricksullivan
Categories: Uncategorized

Last week I made some ramen, and Owen was very excited about seeing chopsticks applied to noodles. He had to try it out himself. First he took a chopstick and used it to stir his water. Then he dipped it in my noodle broth, which he gave an approving, “mmmm.”
I got him his own pair of sticks from the drawer and rubber banded a wine cork between them to help him out. Here are his first attempts:

I think he did pretty well. I don’t think I tried using chopsticks until I was at least eight years old. I wonder if the average age of utensil mastery varies much between cultures that use different utensils to eat.

Top 10 Signs You’re Seriously Into Indian Cooking

Posted August 14, 2012 by bpatricksullivan
Categories: Cooking

Tags: , ,
  1. You can’t remember the English names for common ingredients
  2. No matter what someone asks you how to cook, 80% of the time your instructions begin with “Heat up a Tbsp of oil and add jeera. When they begin to sizzle…”
  3. You stop measuring ingredients when making roti.
  4. You say belan instead of rolling pin, tava instead of skillet.
  5. You no longer keep your pressure cooker in the back of the cupboard.
  6. You perfect that palm-to-palm flipping motion to knock excess flour off of your roti.
  7. You know what regions your sabzi’s come from, and you start cooking sabzi’s from places other than Punjab.
  8. The only time you say the word curry, it’s followed by “leaves.”
  9. You keep your seven most common spices in a masala dabba.
  10. In your mind, a complete meal consists of daal, a sabzi, and rice or bread.


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