Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Yesterday, we had a picnic at the National Carillon, listening to a two hour long recital.

So for those of you who don't know yet, we are in Canberra, Australia for three months - one month so far. It's great!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pittsburgh has more urban sprawl than Los Angeles, new maps show

Pittsburgh has more urban sprawl than Los Angeles, new maps show

This is an interesting link about a new study from the U of Toronto using GIS and satellite images to compare urban sprawl. The conclusion was "Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles were the most compact major cities, while Pittsburgh and Atlanta were the most scattered. " Citing from the press release, they report "their findings in the May issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics, in a paper entitled Causes of Sprawl: A Portrait from Space. Heavily illustrated with Geographic Information System images, the paper challenges conventional wisdom about urban sprawl and presents a vivid and detailed picture of land consumption in America's cities."

I find it especially interesting since I have lived in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and an now living in the Los Angeles metro area.

Friday, July 21, 2006


originally uploaded by Your Teacher.
I wonder if Smarties would work as well as M&Ms for the artist in my previous post.

Behind Bars, He Turns M&M’s Into an Art Form

A fascinating article about a prisoner who paints with M&M colors on postcards:
Behind Bars, He Turns M&M’s Into an Art Form

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mercy and Justice - Homelessness

Please have a look at my homeless blog and consider contributing a postcard there. The project is just starting, so there's not much to see there yet.

Your postcards are most welcome for this project. We are for mercy and justice for everyone. Postcards will be scanned and posted as time allows. By sending your postcard to Swan (Mercy and Justice), you are giving your permission for your artwork or writing to be used both in the blog, and in any other projects put together by Swan about care for the homeless. If your name is included on your postcard, you will be credited by that name. If no name appears, the work will appear anonymous.

Please send your card to:
Mercy and Justice
P.O. Box 61215
Pasadena, CA 91116

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Huntington Botanical Gardens

After living in Pasadena for almost three years, we finally made it to the Huntington today. Because they close so early - 4:30 - we had just one and a half hours to have a look around. It's very nice there. I wonder why we didn't go earlier. (The Arboretum in Arrcadia is very nice too, though, but not as close to home)

I really liked the desert garden. I think I've always liked cacti. Even as a child, I had a collection of little cacti and succulents on my window sill.
And I had a chance to observe the butterflies - if I find a picture, I'll know what they are.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Review: The Thinking Toolbox

The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans BLuedorn is a book about reasoning skills aimed at children 13 years and up.
While in general, the author make a good effort at keeping the lessons clear and the examples fun while educational, there are some shortcomings. Therefore, I cannot recommend the book wholeheartedly. Some of the shortcomings can easily be addressed and I hope they will disappear in the next edition of the book.

In the following, I'm going to point out some of the issues that will need to be addressed.
1. It would have been better to point out that the author's definition is just one possible definition of "argument". Or they could have called it a "logical argument" instead. (See Lesson 2)
2. When the authors mention emotional involvement as being something negative, they leave out things like compassion and love which would constitute positive emotional involvement. It should just be pointed out that one needs to keep a clear head for a discussion or argument. (See Lesson 2)
3. The list of categories of conversation seems to be incomplete. What category does smalltalk belong to? (See Lesson 2) In lesson 3, exercise 5, the guys are not having an argument, but they are playing a game; possibly this could be called a fake argument.
4. In the exercises for lesson 5, too many of the arguments are dumb arguments. The issue of distinguishing good from bad arguments or real evidence from fake evidence etc is kind of addressed later-on, but not specifically enough. It should have been addressed earlier and in a separate chapter. Lesson 6 about beliefs would be more useful with this issue already clearified.
5. The authors create a false dichonomy between creation and evolution (Lesson 7).
At the end of the lesson, the authors say: "The act of seriously trying to defeat our own arguments and anticipating arguments for the other side is very useful because it humbles us. We begin to realize that the reasons why we believe things might not be entirely on good reasons." They should heed their own advice more often!
6. In lesson 10, I'm wondering why the authors are using sthe stupid example about a dinosaur. No scientist would ever make a claim even close to what the museum tour guide claims. A real-world example should have been used instead.
** The authors follow up with an important and worthwhile observation, though, that just because we read something in a book, that doesn't mean it's true. And "Don't assume that the viewpoint you are reading about is the only one."

In the answer key for the exercises, the authors should distinguish between the cases where they state the one right answer and where they are giving just one example of a possible right answer.

Despite these shortcomings, the book is quite helpful for improving your reasoning skills.

*disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers through Mind and Media (now called Active Christian Media) in exchange for my services as a reviewer.

Good Stuff? - Local Food

At a time when food travels farther than ever before, eating local is one of the most encouraging and significant changes we can make in our diet today: Healthy Food, Healthy Communities.

I'm going to pay more attention to where the food is coming from that I buy. It should be easier here in California than in many other places to get great local food all year round, because a lot of things are grown here. I would love to go to the farmer's market more often, but my work schedule doesn't allow me to do so. I'm going to check out where the local supermarkets get their produce and other food from, though.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

You Should Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the perfect place for you to get in touch with your inner beach bum.
Relax on the beach, go for a bit of surfing, or try to communicate with the monkeys in the jungle!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Laptop Virtuosos

I have been quiet for a while.
Let's start out again with a cool story about computers and music: Laptop Virtuosos. I'd like to be part of that orchestra!

I also have a new book review coming up and some news about a new project. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born 250 years ago today. Read more about this great composer at Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Altered Dictionary

First, I wish everyone still reading my blog a happy new year!

Second, here's a link for a project I find fascinating:
Altered Dictionary