Archive for April 2011

Sunrise Banjo Mitts

April 27, 2011

I’ve maybe never mentioned on the blog that Beth’s parents are both ministers—well, her father’s a retired minister, and her mother is retiring this month. They are both ordained, and met in seminary. For the past couple of years we and they have all played guitar and banjo for the Easter sunrise service at her mom’s church in Connecticut. The sunrise service takes place out at the end of an inevitably mist covered peninsula on the coast.  In theory, the sun would rise behind us during the service. In practice the mist persisted all the way through. I think the same thing happened last year actually…

Let me tell you, when you wake up at 5 in the morning in April, trod out to the end of an Ocean-misty peninsula, and then clamp your fingers down on five or six steel strings, your hands will get numb. On top of that, my glasses always fog up. It’s kind of amazing that we can play at all. Last Wednesday evening I remembered hand-numbing discomfort from last year. I didn’t have any stashed yarn and I wanted to knit up some fingerless mitts for Sunday morning. So I sat down at the wheel, and carded, spun, and plied about three ounces of wool. I think it’s Romney, but I don’t know. It’s a big random looking sack o’ wool. Then on Saturday I knit these hand-warming accoutrements:

Saturday evening Beth was all, “I can’t believe your’re putting cables on those. You need them tomorrow morning, and we have to get up at FIVE!”

“You gotta go cabled, or go home,” I replied. (Note: I’m making Beth sound more naggy than in reality, just for comic effect; she kindly knit the last three rows and did the bind-off for me while I was taking a shower).

My fingers still got stiff and numb while playing, but I was much more comfortable than I’d have been without these. I knit them two-at-a-time on a 36″ circular US5. The yarn is slightly thinner than worsted, but heavier than what I’d call sportweight. Fleece to bound-off in under 72 hours; they still have a slight sheep-in-the-field aroma. Manly. Total mass for the pair: 1.5 oz.

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Happy Birthday Audubon

April 27, 2011

Yesterday was the 226th anniversary of the birth of French-American bird lover, John James Audubon. One website noted that the painter of birds “would have turned 226 today,” as if an accident or suicide prevented him from doing so.

I thought the Google doodle on the Google main search page in honor of Audubon was pretty cool:

I like the way the shapes of the Google letters almost disappear, but they become clearer if I squint a bit. I wonder how many birders identified all the species in the logo. I think the fourth bird from the left, the black one with a yellow breast and blue throat looks kind of like a Bananaquit. The owl perched on the “l” is a Long Eared Owl. The others I can’t really even guess. I haven’t found a nice high-res version of the logo anywhere.

In honor of old Audbon, here are a few bird photos from my travels around North America over the last four months or so. First, a male mallard we saw in Fort Collins, Colorado while visiting Beth’s cousin’s family two weeks ago. Nice beading action on his head:

Her cousin’s family are also raising a few chickens for eggs:

I helped install the final panel on the roof of the coop, which was fun. Three chickens seems like a pretty good way to get a dozen or so cage-free eggs per week. I bet we’d save money if we raised hens, too. Here Peggy is engaging in a more Audubon-worthy pose–perhaps the chicken equivalent of Blue Steel:

Finally a few mundane species striking nice poses. A questioning seagull in San Francisco:

and an un-shy female house sparrow a few blocks away from the seagull:

We’re having a Klingon.

April 18, 2011

I first became aware of online “What will our baby look like?” services when I was in college, about a decade ago. I played with them once or twice, usually using a something like picture of myself and a tiger, or two unlikely celebrities, e.g., Kelsey Grammar, and Dennis Rodman. Most of those turn-of-the-century online services were really pretty crude. If I took two face photos, and layered them in Photoshop or Gimp with 50% opacity in the top layer, I’d get pretty similar results to what most baby-morphers were offering circa 2001. Well, they’ve made some improvements. There are fewer distracting artifacts, like extra ghost ears, blurry eye borders, or baby goatees.

I was, however, quite surprised at how badly a modern baby-morphing service performed this evening when I used two iSight photos of Beth and myself to generate a composite baby image. It turns out we’re having a Klingon:

I’m guessing the auto-skin-tone-detect feature was confused because Beth was back lit in the photo above. I can’t explain how makemebabies.com decided to include a saggital crest on our digital baby’s skull, nor why the baby has sharpened teeth…

With a little finagling the baby image maker managed to yield some more reasonable results as well. Here’s an animated tour of the reasonable and unreasonable Sullivan baby faces:

ETA: As per Beth’s recommendation below, I wanted to let everyone know that other than the Klingon baby, all the non-Caucasian looking babies were the result of my checking the “very dark” or “Asian” box on the final page of the baby generator. The Klingon, however, resulted from the “auto-detect skin tone” option. Also, my recommended mental soundtrack for the baby morph video collage is the theme song from Growing Pains.

Yes Sir, That’s my Baby

April 4, 2011

Some news is so big, it’s hard to figure how it best fits into a blog post, which is basically the only reason I haven’t blogged about it sooner. We’re having our first baby in August. I am excited to meet him. We had our first ultrasound this Thursday.  Above you can see our first view of the little guy with his little, revolutionary fist raised. He’s got a pretty beefy looking little bicep for a banana-sized person, don’t you think?

The ultrasound technology really amazed me. I hadn’t really researched what the ultrasound would look like before we went (which in retrospect kind of surprises me. I always research things!) Here is a movie of the 3D rendering. In this one he rubs his eye and touches his nose and cheek:

He weighs in at about 12 oz (0.34 kg). In this one I think it looks kind of like he’s laughing:

In the more traditional 2D ultra sound view, you can see his heart beating, and his spine. He kicks and wiggles around a bit:


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