Father-Son Cooking: Fish Calzones

Posted February 5, 2017 by DoctorSullivan
Categories: Uncategorized

Owen’s favorite part was making the olive eyes. The filling was a puttanesca sauce with sardines mixed in.


Method: make pizza dough from 16oz of flour (scale your favorite pizza dough to that flour mass). I mix 16 oz flour with 1.25 cups water, 2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp yeast, and let the bread machine or food processor do the kneading. After the dough has risen, roll it into four 9″ (23cm) disks. Make vertical parallel slits along the top and bottom of each disk up to about 2 inches from the middle. Place filling along the un-slitted middle region of the disk. Criss cross strips over each other to make fish body. Use a fork to flute the tail into a fishy shape. Garnish with an olive slice for an eye. I think we baked these at around 400F for about 20 minutes.

Much of the fun of these was making them super fast while Beth was doing laundry upstairs. Owen then took great delight in making her guess what we had made.

We moved to Connecticut

Posted February 8, 2016 by DoctorSullivan
Categories: Uncategorized

I don’t know how I drifted out of updating my blog, but it just occurred to me to try to get back into updating it. Here is a message I shared with many of my friends this past July.

Dear Friends,

I’m always terrible at making these announcements in a timely fashion. Bethany, Owen, Ilana, and I are moving in August, and I am starting a new job, but still teaching physics, at a private, pre-K through 12, day school in Danbury, CT. Owen will be starting school there in the fall as well, which he is pretty excited about.

For the past four years, I have been teaching physics to some of the smartest, hardest working, young people in the state of Maine, and it has been wonderful. I often enjoyed my previous line of work in full-time-research plasma physics, but teaching here and being a part of this learning community has been the most satisfying work I’ve ever done in my life. During my time here I have had great colleagues and students, I have become a father, doubled the size of my family, learned a lot about myself, and figured out what I want to be, perhaps what I am supposed to be, for the next few decades. I am so grateful for all of these things.

However, for a host of complicated reasons, the time for a change has arrived. Unless we currently live in the same town as you, or you live in Quebec, we will probably live closer to you after the move. (See map for details). I hope that we can see many of you a bit more often than we have while living on the northern frontier.


Old Rotoscope Self Portrait

Posted February 8, 2016 by DoctorSullivan
Categories: Geek, Pictures

brian_rotoscopeFacebook just told me that I posted this picture of myself 9 years ago. I did this when I was a 2nd or 3rd year grad student because I’d heard about rotoscoping, and wondered how it was done. The most striking thing to me about this notification from Facebook was that I’ve had an account for over 9 years!

Jeanbag Juggling Balls

Posted April 24, 2014 by DoctorSullivan
Categories: Uncategorized


Like a Phoenix, old jeans have become new juggling beanbags: now with real beans! I’ve been wanting to make these  for a while. I haven’t been able to find my nice juggling bean bags for a couple weeks, which means I’ve mostly been juggling clubs, and not doing much practice much at home. There’s no good place for indoor club juggling in our house.  So I finally decided it was time to repurpose the holey jeans.

This is the pattern I used: http://scienceofjuggling.com/jeanbags.html. I like that they’re formed all out of one piece, and they’re impressively round given the one-piece design. They were quite easy to sew even though I’ve not done any sewing in years. It probably took me about forty minutes total to layout, cut, sew, and fill the balls. the shape and size are good. I used yellow-eye beans as the filling. Each ball is 2 and 3/8 oz in weight, which I now think is a little light. The best beanbags I use (which Beth found for me right after I finished sewing these) weigh 3 and 7/8 oz. They are spherical, four panel Men’s-Health-Day balls, with an embarrassing message about monthly self-exams for anyone who borrows them. The message would be fine on a sign, but when an unsuspecting would be juggler reads it while holding a few semi-squishy balls, it can be a little off-putting.

These new jeanbags, however, are handier for sticking in a coat pocket or putting in a light bag to take on short walks or  trips around town. They’d be good for numbers, too, if I ever learn to juggle more than three. There’s also no embarrassing “ball message” on them. I think I’ll make five or six sets for use at juggling club. Does anyone have any tips for avoiding hand cramps when hand-sewing small objects?

And by listeners like…my 23 month old son.

Posted July 27, 2013 by DoctorSullivan
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 DoctorSullivan
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: http://zacker.info/pst/food5.html

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 DoctorSullivan
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 DoctorSullivan
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 DoctorSullivan
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 DoctorSullivan
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.

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