Omi [Bix & Zara’s paternal grandmother, ie my mum]** has just stepped onto a plane bound for Adelaide after we shared three glorious weeks with her in Berkeley. Christmas was a delight & the girls were truly spoiled to have their grandmother with them at home for the special family event.

During her brief visit Omi managed to dodge the rain & spend literally dozens of hours outside working miracles on our half-completed garden while juggling play sessions with Zara & Beatrix.

A rented truck sufficed to haul 3 cubic yards of mulch, groundcover & soil. The prius carried the final half yard of bark and the seedlings for the new terraces. Where possible, ours is a recycled garden using “found” materials. The giant eucalyptus stump we had removed for landscaping was ground on-site last year & Omi distributed the last of the shredded eucalyptus mulch. We’ve also been accumulating used cardboard to act as a weed barrier - it breaks down naturally after a season or two but stunts otherwise established weeds on-site. Omi also terraced the south side of the garden for some ornamentals (diosma, native grasses, californian poppies etc.), invigorated our clay-like soil with nutrients & drainage for the blueberries & guavas (very exciting), transplanted the bonus Pixar apple tree (gravenstein) and carved a brilliant path around the oak tree which Zara will enjoy for years to come.

The north side of the new garden also received some love with a thorough weeding of the edibles patch, mulching the remnant corpses of the summer/fall crops and laying more fir bark on the steps & path around the rock terraces.

The whole garden looks incredible & we’re buzzing with excitement about the coming spring, fine weather & a new season of edibles to be planted in short order.

With the new years fireworks booming across the bay, we’re missing Omi already but looking forward to her next visit. It can’t come soon enough Happy

Safe travels & happy new year 2011!

**(distinct from Oma, the girls’ paternal-paternal great-grandmother)

Christmas 2010 with Omi

Omi is in Berkeley! Zara & Beatrix (& we of course) are overjoyed & can’t wait for Christmas.

Zara & I adopted a modest noble fir after a fun game of hide & seek through the nursery then transported it home in the prius quite comfortably.

The tree is decorated, the house smells of pine, presents are haphazardly arrayed around the trunk and we’re all excitedly looking forward to a quiet family meal & a special evening of gift giving. Some presents even arrived express-post from Australia & we’re hoping to share our Christmas eve with the family in Melbourne & Sydney via video chat.

The past couple of weeks have been heavenly with Omi in Berkeley. I’ve been on paternal leave for a couple of weeks (broken only by a quick trip to Los Angeles yesterday) and won’t be back at work until the new year.

My days have been filled with lego, cooking, running, jumping, play dough, tumbling, gardening (or more accurately, garden oversight in the wake of Omi’s phenomenal overhaul of our front yard), eating, reading and the occasional train/bus adventure into San Francisco (to fetch tacos from the mission) with Zara.

Despite the presence of two small & very consuming people in our household this is the most relaxing holiday I’ve had in years!

We’re missing you all dearly & hope you have a wonderful Christmas & New Year.


Daddy why does ...

..."Please daddy, may I have...... [confused pause] ..... fyoss?”
“Yes bubby, here you go.”
“Sankyuuuu!”...

Thanks Ah Kong

...Halloween is upon us & so we’ve been enjoying the local festivities. Pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie....Read More...

Thanks Ah Mah

...Beatrix is now one month old & growing fast! At 11lbs 1 oz, she has already eclipsed Zara’s weight of two and a half months. Chubby baby!...Read More...


...There’s even something about the simple exercise of piling into the car as a family of 4 that feels wholly legitimate & totally different than it did as a couple with a single child. Something greater than the conquering of complex logistic hurdles....Read More...

Beatrix Allegra

...The OB returned & exclaimed that she was present for the most important part (presumably the “not ordering a cesarean” part) & the attending nurse (who caught Beatrix) rolled her eyes appropriately Happy...


Zara turns two

...It stands to reason that a line can be drawn between the complex language & social skills of an adult and the comparatively mute capabilities of an infant yet each step Zara makes along that line of progress toward adept speech and nuanced conversation leaves me awestruck....Read More...

counting down the days

...I’m playing fun hillbilly covers at the office on Wednesdays & heady challenging jazz on Thursdays with various colleagues (in anticipation of Pixar’s annual music festival)....Read More...

a quick visit to Oz

This trip was a surprise anniversary present for Zoe, one last "hurrah" before baby #2 arrives in August ...

sweet mornings

Since Zara started sleeping through the night, I've had the privilege of greeting her each morning as she wakes Happy

Very infrequently I miss her morning wakeup, though usually only if my work commitments require me out of the house before 9:30am.

If I'm not on my way to the airport or due at work for an early screening then I’m asleep with Zoe when Zara starts calling from her room.


I've got a couple of minutes to get to Zara & plonk her on the potty.
She's the sweetest thing, always so happy to see me when I slide open the door & poke my head around the corner as she sits up in her crib.

I took the camera with me this morning, so I could share the sweet morning girl.

Her first words are usually (in this order)


“Supersuit dry?“
(her one-piece pajamas)


“read a book”

Usually an hour after she wakes we’ll see mummy emerge from the bedroom Happy

Recently we’ve been trying to discern whether Zara remembers her dreams. Though her language is still limited, if she exclaims something completely “out of context” first thing in the morning (& doesn’t follow-through with a cheeky grin) we presume it might be a dream memory.

We’ve also been trying to explain the concept of dreaming.


a "typical" week

We’re almost two months away from the release of our latest movie (Toy Story 3). I particularly love this stage of the production cycle because the final audio is being mixed!!
Why does that influence my work? I’m a mathematician / color scientist for Pixar ... how can the score, sound effects & dialogue make a difference to what I do?

Well, we’re also exposing the final 35mm (& 65mm) negatives that will parent the release film prints in cinemas in a few short weeks. That means we’re running the end game in our schedule & the final touches of color are being imbued so I go wherever the director goes and during the final audio mix, the director goes “to the ranch”.

My best friend & I recently compared our current work week. He’s in Japan, designing aluminum fittings for fashion conscious businesses. I’m in California doing math, research & colour science for animated movies.

Monday ... wake up ~8:30am, chill/relax with Zoe until Zara starts to call out from her bedroom then go grab Zara from her crib, sit her on the potty, crank the central heating, grab a banana, prime the espresso machine, deliver banana to Zara (still sitting on the potty ... she stays there for about 15 minutes or so in the mornings while she wakes up, eating her banana) return to espresso machine & pull a ristretto, grab a bowl of cereal for me, dress Zara ... grab a bowl of organic unsweetened fortified cereal & fruit for Zara, wait for Zoe to emerge from bedroom, jump on my awesome bike & ride to work (6 miles ~20mins) ...
...rush into a screening with the director & calm him, advise technically on fixes, expectations, options ... grab another bowl of (sugar laden) cereal, brew a cocoa-nib/pu-erh/cinnamon/orange-peel tea ... do some math, maybe watch some film if an image problem is stumping the team (checking our negatives for quality control), attend about 6 hours of meetings with various technical feature & post production people, lunch is arranged in there somewhere (maybe Zoe & Zara will join at Pixar on their way to the library or mothers group) ... bail around 6pm & ride up the hill, usually home by 7 in time to play with Zara, give her a bath, read her a story & put her to bed by about 8pm.
Cleanup house carnage, wash dishes. Cook something basic for dinner.

Midnight ...call London, talk to TV station for 3 minutes about emergent 3D broadcast specs to determine tomorrow's delivery details. Immediately fall into deep sleep.

Tuesday ... wake early (7:15am is early for me) & slip into clothes I prepared by the bedside the evening prior (always jeans ... probably some promotional / free / vendor T-shirt & a Pixar sweater ... I rarely wear clothes that aren't free these days .... shocking I know!) ... grab malaysian powdered sweet coffee & an ACME raisin rye bun on my way down the stairs, creep out of the house without waking anyone then drive to oakland airport (~35minutes). Breeze through business express lane, jump on my plane & fly for ~1hr to LosAngeles ... jump in a cab ... by 11 I'm at the IMAX test facility, staring at our movie on the giant screen with the DP.

Rush from the screening back to the airport, arrive at my desk by 4pm, relay London 3D broadcast specs to post production folks then chaperone the deliverable over the wire ... solve various show-stopper problems with content ... drive home by 6pm (pickup philly cheese-steak sandwiches for dinner). Cook asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, egg, congee for Zara. Feed Zara, bathe Zara, sleep Zara ...
Cleanup house carnage, wash dishes. Cook & pack Zara's lunch for Wednesday (she goes to her friend's house for ~5 hours).

Wednesday ... Wake with Zara ... service Zara .... attach awesome bike seat to awesome bike & ride down the hill with Zara strapped in, bright purple helmet, ear-to-ear grin gleefully cheering behind me. Deposit Zara (& lunch) at her friend’s house, ride onward to work .... math, meetings, interview prospective new engineers for my team, watch movies (I've seen them all before however today is kinda special, a new reel is due for approval. The first time I watch the "finished" version it's fairly exciting) ..... play jazz (electric violin) with colleagues in the afternoon: software architect (sax), shading lead (double bass), patent lawyer (guitar), animator (drums) ... ride home, Zara's already in bed. .... Zoe's writing iPhone apps.

Thursday ... wake ~7:45 ... slip out of the house silently as before (this time pocketing a cocoa/pu-erh tea sachet & an apple), drive up to skywalker ranch where they're mixing the sound for the movie (waaay up in the beautiful green hills ~45 minutes) to meet the director & screen another reel of the movie with the DP. Stay for lunch at the ranch (amazing food) then drive back down to Pixar for the afternoon ... variations on the same theme (maybe video conference with Disney to solve some of their problems or prep them for a special trailer we'll be sending later in the week) .... random image artifacts to debug, vendors to school, creatives to placate, infrastructure to plan, engineers to hire ... it's great.
Home in time for Zara's bed routine ... awesome.

Z & I have been refining a favourite Singaporean dish of ours, Char Kway Teow. We attempt another iteration tonight: rice noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, chinese sausage, prawns, garlic, chilli sambal, dark soy, brown sugar, oil and an extremely hot wok.

Friday ... more ranch, more movies ... not as much math as I'd like .... back at the office for the afternoon, record some violin (acoustic/classical fiddle: scratch score/audio for the movie that’s releasing end of next year) ....then relax with the team. Couple of bottles of wine & some munchies (happens most Fridays around 4:30) while we tie up the loose ends from the week's work. Ride awesome bike home (& swap rigid carrying bag for baby bike seat again ... see Sat/Sun)
Home in time for Zara's bed routine ... awesome.

Saturday ... ride awesome bike up the steep hill to the model steam trains with Zara (_heavy_) in her new bike seat. Ride the steam trains, hang out in the redwood forrest, ride back down the hill to our home ... Zoe's made good progress coding iPhone apps .... Zara is my full time job on the weekends. Maybe cut some wood in the front yard with the chainsaw then play with Zara / pack wood into compost bin.

Sunday ... ride awesome bike down the hill to the park with Zara ... play on swings, slides etc. ... eat a packed lunch ... ride back up the hill with Zara on the bike (_heavy_) more play at home, more garden work/play ... lots of cooking/eating/singing ... wash clothes, wash dishes.

repeat (& permute in all dimensions simultaneously)....


Mr Squiggle

Zoe & I grew up with a children’s TV show called “Mr Squiggle” featuring a marionette with a giant pencil nose who would complete pictures from large “squiggles” sent in by viewers.

it's a girl!

...We love technology....

all aboard

We had another wonderful weekend trip to our local national park. An easy 10 minute drive from our house & we’re surrounded by old-growth redwood forests & the charming open-carriage steam trains of the Redwood Valley Railway Co.

The weather was beautiful & Zara (& Mum & Dad) enjoyed yet another ride on the steam train, over bridges, through tunnels & past sweeping panoramic views of the San Francisco bay. The golden gate steamers club shares the grounds on the national park and as we rattle & clack along behind the gorgeous scale steam engine (18 inch gauge) we see other tracks of varying gauge winding their way through appropriately scaled tunnels & bridges, tiny carriage houses & water towers of their own.

Occasionally during our journey we glimpse ever smaller & smaller steam trains weaving between the great redwood trunks. Some carry only a single passenger, often in his 60’s, riding atop the engine, gloves covered in grease, engineer’s cap donned proudly ... always quick with a wave & a piercing toot of a tiny steam whistle.

Other trains, smaller still, with the ageing engineer loping awkwardly alongside. A look of feverish excitement on his face, adjusting valves & trimming the running gear, often flanked by an entourage of pre-teen assistants carrying toolboxes & oil cans, each wearing his own tiny engineer’s cap.

Kids (under 2) travel free & a ticket for the adults only costs $2 ... I could do this all day.



...I suspect there’s a higher-plane of specificity (within such a short travel period, the adrenaline keeps you acutely focused on the task at hand) ...Read More...


...It’s official. In early August, Zara will be welcoming a sibling...Read More...

how to adopt a rock

... many with good nooks & crannies for sitting, discovering bugs, hiding treasure or placing summer drinks ...Read More...

soggy & occasionally foggy

...gutters have been paid special attention, new debris guards & ground drainage. Three of the low retaining walls have been replaced...Read More...