Spring 2014

With the return of spring and the long up-side of Berkeley weather we are again spending copious hours in the garden, particularly on weekends when the whole family is at home together.

Willow is walking confidently, navigating stairs cautiously & loves the garden slide.

willowDomFirstSteps

We built a few additional rock walls in the garden & leveled the “meadow” resulting in a truly useful patch of soft grass in our steep front yard. This enables lazy weekend picnics, lying on a rug staring at the clouds or fun races & games.

Though still predominantly incomprehensible, Willow continues to increase the sophistication of her vocalizations. Talking would be a generous description, but there are plenty of words attempted in her lengthening sentences & she conveys her intentions with relative ease using a mix of sign language, squealing & throwing of food. She’s napping ~1-2hrs after lunch but otherwise sleeps 7-7 like her two big sisters.


Easter was a wonderful occasion this year. All three girls were foraging for hidden treasures in the garden, and Zara was particularly stoked the easter bunny left a special treat in return for the thank-you note carefully placed amongst the oregano the night prior.

easter2014DomWillowZaraBeatrix

A month ago Zoe started a new job with Apple. This involves a regular commute ~ 90 minutes to Cupertino. It’s a contract position & the hours are variable but the work isn’t taxing & she’s enjoying a low-stakes intro to the organization. I’ve assumed the balance of color-science duties at Pixar, am representing the studio amongst international standards bodies & finding myself traveling to LA about once each month. I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks in Europe during September (Berlin/Amsterdam), perhaps a week in Boston & another in Vancouver if the timing works out with family.

We also have a pair of newcomers to the household. Yet-to-be-named he-cat & she-cat adopted from the local shelter last weekend.

pequenaGrandeResting

They’re settling into their new home comfortably and enjoying each other’s company.
Video evidence here.

-D

happy new year

Happy new year! I wish I had something insightful, poignant or cathartic to scribe but this missive will revolve around little more than our consuming, domestic routine.

As we conclude Winter break & look back on 2013 I feel so thankful for another wonderful year in Berkeley. We welcomed our little miracle Willow. Zara transitioned boldly into Kindergarten and Beatrix nailed her first trip to Australia with mum & baby sister.

willowPoundingPegsChristmas2013

All three girls continue to humble me daily. My parental naiveté is ever so slightly reduced as our youngest, Willow approaches her first birthday. I remember well my novice pre-parent days when the questions of nature vs nurture promised years of fascinating discovery. Now I submit readily to each of the girls’ respective personalities, recognizing how powerful those innate forces are from birth & my relative impotence to reshape same.

I’m still bicycling the two elder girls to their respective schools, detouring a luxurious hour each morning before arriving at the office. Next week Willow will join Beatrix at Pixar’s daycare when Zoe returns to full-time work in San Francisco and I’ll forego my commute exercise/excuse.

Though I’m hoping to ride all three girls on the bike eventually, in the short term I’ll likely drive them to school each morning in order to return home swiftly in the evening to wrangle the dinner/bath/bed routine while Zoe is in transit back across the bay.

christmasTree2013

Christmas was simple, quiet & homely. Zara & Beatrix decorated our live tree, brought ornaments they’d created at school and eagerly counted down the days until presents were opened on Christmas day.

zaraWillowZoeBeatrixChristmas2013

A happy & fulfilling 2014 to you & your family from ours.
Dom, Zoe, Zara, Beatrix & Willow

reunited

Now that Zara has settled into Kindergarten I spent a week in Beijing supervising remastering efforts for Pixar’s latest film Monsters University. I’ve long wished to spend time in China and this first glimpse didn’t disappoint. My work was a huge success & I enjoyed ample time beyond formal commitments to explore the city & surrounds. Can’t wait to go back. Maybe I’ll visit Shanghai one day too!

domGreatWallChina

Shortly after this China trip I spent 10 days in Amsterdam attending a conference while navigating the bureaucracy of my work visa, satisfying our immigration status here in the USA. The day after my return Zoe, Willow & Beatrix traveled to Australia with Ah Kong for 4 weeks & have just returned to Berkeley with Ah Mah who will stay with us for 3 weeks.

zaraDirndl

While the house was quiet, Zara & I had a thoroughly nourishing & relaxed month together. My work schedule was sedate & Zara’s kindergarten has been wonderful. We represented the family at a local wedding, took weekend trips to science museums, hung out with friends and relaxed into a luxurious, domestic steady-state without the need to compete for each other’s company.

ZaraBeatrixWillowTotoroHalloweenCostumes

Halloween 2013 was a blast. Zoe sewed amazing costumes for all 3 girls paying homage to the movie “My Neighbour Totoro” which Zara (Satsuki) & Beatrix (Mei) had recently seen on the big screen in Berkeley. Willow completely nailed the role of Totoro - tubby profile, absent speaking lines.

willowTotoroHalloween2013

Trick or treating with friends was also adorable. In contrast to last year, the kids actually appear desirous of the candy they collected ….

totoro01

Now that we’re all back together again I’m really looking forward to the festive year-end & the simple, cosy excess of family & friends in hearty celebration of each other. We are together. I’m humbled & blessed.

-D

the final countdown

nickSleepingFace

This past week, our our brave soldier (17 year old bengal kitty Nick) shared his final days with us before passing into the next world. After losing quite a bit of weight this year, in the wee hours one morning his breathing became shallow and he rapidly lost his balance so we rushed him to the emergency vet but by 3am his time had come & we said our last goodbyes.

zaraNickStethoscope

We shared a family’s quota of kleenex with the girls when they awoke later that morning. Zara remembered the positive turning point (pictured here) when Nick finally trusted her sufficiently to fall asleep & purr as she patted him.

nickSleepingZara2011

We’re privileged to have shared his final years. On his last night, Nick made his rounds of the neighborhood (was very eager to get outside) then returned to the house & jumped onto Zoe & my laps for a cuddle. We’ll miss you kitty cat, it’s not the same without you.

nickBeatrtixWillow

After strutting home with 4 band-aids adorning her puny shoulders, Sulky McWeeperson [Zara] posed a question over the dinner table this evening;

"Daddy why did I get 4 injections today?"

Bub, I'm very proud of you …. you didn't even cry! These last 4 injections contain medicine for your body to help it stay healthy, so you & all the other children at school don't get sick.

"I was sick last week."

Yeah, but this medicine stops you getting really bad sicknesses like measles & mumps.

“ha haa! [snort]….Mumps! …. [snort] …. Mumps isn't a real word daddy!"

Sure it is bub, mumps is the name of a disease.

[solemn]“What happens when you get mumps?”

Well, you feel really awful, your cheeks swell up like a chipmunk, and your body hurts

“Daddy, I had 4 injections this morning … my body hurts already"

zaraSchoolMorningBackpack

The school year in Berkeley commenced this week and Zara’s first day of kindergarten was Wednesday.

Her first three days were spent sampling amongst the three kindergarten classes at her school while the teachers determine the ideal mix of students for each classroom, ensuring a balance of capabilities & personalities in each room.

Zara’s school is a 1 mile walk downhill from our house which eases the logistic burden, despite the 7:50am drop off. We’ve been spending 20 minutes with the class each morning reading before the teachers shoo misty-eyed parents from the room.

3girlsSchoolMorning

A new backpack (matching her lunch bag) eased the first morning’s trepidation (which was brought about mostly by the early wakeup) and despite a little nervousness upon arrival each morning, Zara is handling the transition to “real school” wonderfully.

One of Zara's imagined creations (a car carier) from her tegu blocks


She’s socially & academically advanced for her age and will hopefully make many new friends amongst her peers.

willowGymPlay

Ah Kong is again with us in Berkeley, easing the logistic load of the household & spending precious time with his granddaughters.

willowAhKongTable

He’ll travel with Zoe, Willow & Beatrix back to Australia for a month after I return to Berkeley from Amsterdam.

-D

B3

Beatrix celebrated her third birthday today, chocolate cake & presents with the family close @ home together.

beatrixThirdBirthdayCake
She has a trip to Australia planned in about a month with Zoe & Willow. We’ve been slowly introducing the idea to Zara (it’s Beatrix’s third birthday trip ….) who will remain behind with me during her first weeks of Kindergarten.

beatrixGardenSquashHallway

Bix is a happy, robust, bold, easygoing kid. Exploring her “terrible threes”, she’s hardly adept at getting anyone offside for more than a couple of seconds before her cheeky grin melts all frustration around her. She loves her sisters, and is a proficient nap-ninja.

beatrixEatingThirdBirthdayCake

Love you Bix.

beatrixBalloonsZarasBirthday

-D

celebrations

2013 has been a year of celebrations for our humble family.

January set the stage with the arrival of our third daughter Willow. She’s an easy child; healthy, alert & communicative. Adored by her sisters and everyone around her.

willowDinnerTable55months

Though teeth are only recently emerging, she loves joining us at the dinner table and eating cheerios and sucking the juices from meats. In the garden she’s a voracious consumer of our most tender strawberries.

willowPreCrawling5point5Months

In April, Zoe & I marked the 10th anniversary of our wedding. I organized a surprise pickup for the girls from Pixar’s daycare center, and a 9am sitter for little Willow (thanks Amy!) then took a day off work to whisk Zoe away to the Napa Valley for a special meal & a relaxing day free of kiddos. The restaurant only takes reservations 3 months (to the day) in advance so planning was crucial …. with my calendar reminder set & after depositing the (then only 2) girls at daycare I set to acquiring one of the coveted reservations. 308 redials later we were (secretly) booked!
It’s also one of the 2 occasions I’ve had this year to dress up. The restaurant’s website notes “Jackets are required for lunch & dinner service”. The menu is unique every day & we certainly weren’t disappointed.

beatrixHallway

Recently both Fathers’ and Mothers’ day were also celebrated with beautiful hand-made gifts from the girls & some chocolate surprises! All hail Chocolatier Blue.

fathersDayChocolatierBlue

At Pixar daycare Zara is in the graduating class (affectionately named “Colette’s Room” - each of the age-grouped class rooms are given a name of a character from one of Pixar’s movies). In early June Zara and 7 cohorts participated in a pre-K graduation ceremony, mortar boards and all.

zaraPreparingGraduationCeremony

Though I readily admit snickering incredulously whenever I’d previously heard of 5 year olds undertaking a graduation ceremony, it turned out to be a touching celebration into which the children, teachers & staff at the center poured their hearts.

zaraSignLanguagePracticeDaycare

There was a sign-language performance (alphabet song) by the entire class which the children had obviously practiced enthusiastically. Each of the graduates signed their names when accepting their certificates and much food, singing & merriment was shared by the families on a wonderful afternoon.

zaraSigningLetterAGraduationCeremony

Pixar’s latest film Monsters University released in theaters last month. It has been generally well received by the critics & continues to perform favorably at the box office. The wrap party which Zoe & I attended was amazing and marks my second occasion to dress up in 2013.

zaraYellowBalloonYellowDress

Zara’s 5th birthday party was a blast. We nailed the logistics, occupying tables early morning at a local park (& bringing a spare table for good measure), hanging decorations and two piñata from the trees while supplying the necessary Sunday morning caffeine & bagels for the adult crowd.

domZaraHangingBirthdayPomPoms

The ~50 guests had a rad time. Friends from our “mother’s group”, friends from school, and ex-nanny Sara.

domZaraCupcakingIcing

Leading up to the event, Zara contributed to (with dad) baking 144 mini cupcakes (chocolate & raspberry) & (with mum) her piñata collection (1x caterpillar, 1x butterfly).

zaraPinata

Filled with all manner of “exotic” edible & playable spoils from the Chinese supermarket, the throng of children rushed the outpouring of goodies after Zara decapitated the caterpillar & the contained treats subsequently spilled onto the ground.

zaraDomBalloonInflatingParty

A mail-order helium tank complete with balloons & ribbon brought ultimate happiness to children throughout the park.

birthdayPresentZara

Happy birthday beautiful girl.

-Dom

time flies

Willow is now 4 months old and growing rapidly. The whole family is happy & healthy here in Berkeley though we parents are inevitably tired.

willow4weeksPostBathSunSheepskin

Zara’s school has been assigned and though we weren’t lucky enough to be granted any of our first 3 selections, she’ll be attending a local public school with one of her friends since birth. With luck, they’ll end up in the same class!
The 8am bell will take some getting used to for our late-rising family, but at least the campus is almost en-route to pixar and Beatrix’s daycare.

zaraCatCostume

Omi came to visit us all in Berkeley shortly after Willow was born. It was a real treat to have her close & to share time with the 3 girls.

omiWillow3point5weeks

The garden continues to reward, with daily harvests & bug-hunts!

beatrixZaraZoeWillowBeetsBerkeley

At present (4.5 months old) Willow rarely poops a diaper (we’re using cloth, and moving her to the tiny potty when appropriate) and on rare occasions manages a day completely dry. She generally sleeps for up to 12 hours commencing 6:15pm, allowing us to dedicate ourselves to the evening/bed routine of the elder two.

zaraBeatrixZoeWillowCouchReading

Beatrix has particularly been enjoying Willow’s “company”. The moment she wakes, Beatrix rushes to Willow’s bed, never misses an opportunity to hug & squeeze Willow when she’s brought into a room and loves to interact & make her new baby sister smile by jumping, pulling faces or inventing silly sounds.

Until Willow has her own locomotion sorted, it seems she’s a captive audience for Beatrix.

willowBouncerPlushAudience


willowBeatrixBouncerSmiles

We’re gearing up for a small party in a local park to celebrate Zara’s 5th birthday this coming Sunday with her friends. Zoe & Zara have been hard at work on a pair of piñata. One caterpillar, and a matching butterfly, to be hung from a tree for the violent amusement of small people.

zoeZaraPinataConstruction


A recent delivery of frozen goods included a substantial block of dry ice, which presented ample opportunity for the girls & I to experiment over the course of 2 days.

domBeatrixZaraDryIce

Summer fun approaches….

beatrixCocktail


zaraCocktail


-D

Willow

I'm sitting on the rocking chair in our bedroom as the sun peeks over the horizon, a snoring newborn dozing against my chest while outside, a young family of deer crunch through the blanket of dried eucalyptus leaves in our back yard. In the distance, turkeys call to each other and the owls & doves trade coos & hoots.

newbornWillow2daysOld

Willow Fae Glynn came into our lives last Friday. She's a happy, tiny person who brings contentedness to everyone around her. Her hair & eyes are brown, her face peaceful, her fingers long (cello much?).

Parents are smitten. Elder sisters are infatuated. Everyone’s healthy & we couldn’t be happier!

-D

school selection

For the past two months we’ve been visiting elementary schools with a view to enrolling Zara in Kindergarten (in our local jurisdiction the first six years of schooling starting from Kindergarten are considered elementary school, what we’d call primary-school in Australia). She’ll be at the younger end of the spectrum for her class, with five-year-olds (as of October 1) accepted for the academic year commencing August 2013.

Education is a heavily state-biased institution with curriculum defined at federal, state & district level. The public schools in Berkeley are, put simply, amazing and the mornings we’ve spent observing the teachers & children, combined with the exhaustive information nights for parents of prospective students have not only put our minds at ease, but humbled & inspired us. I’m so excited for Zara to be entering such a diverse, curated and stimulating environment.

Rather than automatically assigning “guaranteed” enrollment at one’s closest school, Berkeley divides the district by categories of parent education, income & race then mixes the pot to approach common diversity at all schools. One artifact of this paradigm is that we may (after expressing 3 preferences in a public lottery system) be assigned a school some distance away (in our case, up to ~5km). Buses are provided (yes even for Kindergartners) outside the 1.5 mile radius.

There’s a two-way-immersion (Spanish) language program at one school, gardening & cooking programs, dance, art, drama, music and a host of extra-curricular activities at most. Class sizes are small and a play-based learning approach is frequently promoted.

All of that wonderfulness aside, our first priority is a local charter school featuring a two-way-immersion Mandarin language program. Unlike the Berkeley Unified School District, this charter school also requires uniforms, a 198 day school year & a longer teaching day. There’s a 14:1 application ratio though so our expectations are tempered accordingly.

Now that Zara’s applications are submitted, all that’s left to do is await the results of the lotteries! Exciting Happy

-D

day to day

We are incredibly fortunate. I think of our modest familial, domestic existence & repeatedly come to the conclusion it’s anything but modest. Though our desires & ambitions are comfortable, we are so truly fortunate in our station. Our children & parents are in great health, as are we both.
My beautiful wife, stoic & resourceful is bearing our third child like a pro while studying entrance exams for an MBA at a top-tier US university.
We’re free of financial stresses and our house & garden deliver constant pleasure.

popcornHarvest2012

Beatrix is rapidly expanding her vocabulary. She’s naturally curious and exhibits a keen and constant interest in naming every new thing, place, action, food, or animal she encounters.
She has a great (albeit strict) teacher in Zara & despite constant scolding, still idolizes her big sister, mimicking both noble & less-desirable behaviors.

Beatrix: “Zara, I bent your car!”

Zara:
“It’s not a car, it’s steps.”

Beatrix:
“Zara, I bent your steps!”

Zara:
“You don’t say bent, you say broke.”

Beatrix:
“Zara, I broke your steps!”

Zara:
“Ohhhhhh, Beatrix, naughty!”

teguHouseBuilding

As Beatrix vaults to new conversational heights, we’ll miss her distinctive pronunciation faux-pas’, she’s leaving the cutest behind; “Jamamas” (pajamas) and “Nynosnore” (dinosaur) are my personal favorites.

Her temperament (since birth) continues to reinforce that she’s self-reliant, happy, robust, empathetic and loving.

beatrixYankSingEating

Duck & Goose are her ever-faithful, bed-time companions. Beatrix naps daily for more than an hour and sleeps solidly for up to 11 hours overnight. She’s a voracious diner and gobbles every type of food presented, providing a disobliging role-model for Zara who remains a “string bean” and though of broad palate, left to her own devices eats only tiny nibbles without constant oversight.

christmasTreeOrnamentsOpening

The girls have been sleeping in the same room since Beatrix sleep trained at nine months of age. Three months ago we acquired matching “big-girl” beds and ever since, have enjoyed auto-ablution wake ups, followed by daily, giggly snuggles in our bed as the central heating warms the house.

Somewhat remarkably, it took Beatrix’s self-motivated autonomy after graduating from the crib, to persuade Zara to actually leave her bed instead of calling for a parent to join her in the bathroom each morning. I’m still hoping for a bunk solution for the elder two after kid #3 is old enough to share the room.

friendsGiving2

2012 concluded as a stream of guests and dinner parties (including 3 iterations of ThanksGiving feasts - practice makes perfect) with our closest friends & family. Zoe’s dad stayed with us for 8 weeks through Christmas which was wholly divine & indulgent.

Kim really eased the load around the house, cooking wonderful meals, procuring groceries & playing with the girls who adored having their “Ah Kong” at call for such an extended period. We’re very eagerly anticipating his return, it can’t come soon enough!

family portrait with Ah Kong, December 2012

-D

and then there were five

2012 has nearly passed us by. Phones have gained an impressively accurate dictation capability, work has been kind - for months I successfully trialled a 32-hour (4-day) week. My mornings have afforded me the luxury of leisurely riding both Zara (5 days) & Beatrix (3 days) to “pixar school” ~9am on my way to the office. I’ve traveled to both Australia & The Netherlands yet somehow nearly a year has lapsed between updates of this journal & given the above, I’ve really no excuse for my delinquency.

Zara is four years old, Beatrix is two and baby #3 (girl) is due at the end of January 2013. Everyone is in the finest of health & we’re excitedly anticipating the expansion of our growing family in the coming year.



The garden continues to reward, with daily harvests of herbs, berries (blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries), figs, apples, cucumbers, five varieties of tomatoes & now cantaloupes & watermelons!



Sweet, juicy, single-serve cantaloupe, approximately the size of a small grapefruit. Perfect!
I’m particularly looking forward to the impending harvest of popcorn & passionfruit.

Get in touch when you think of it, we’d love to catch up!



-D

bike rides

Twice weekly Zara attends Pixar’s exclusive school in Berkeley and I have the honor of shepherding her there & back. As I ride my bicycle to work every day it feels only natural to include Zara in the routine and she loves our commute to & from school, asking each night before bed “Is tomorrow a school day? Can we ride the bicycle?”



The morning starts with a quick weather forecast then I pack her snacks & dinner, spare clothes, hat & a drink bottle in the pannier. My bike has a modular rack which allows me to (tool-free) swap my regular cargo crate for her deluxe bicycle seat in just a few seconds.



Applying shoes, helmet, jacket & a second-breakfast of chestnuts or blueberries we’re finally on our way around 9am, bouncing down the bumpy streets of the Berkeley hills past deer, turkeys & squirrels. Second-breakfast is usually consumed by the time we round the university campus a couple of miles from home. From that point onward we’ve only our voices to amuse us & the myriad of games we play spotting lightning bugs (VW beetles), garbage-trucks, concrete mixers and drivers who fail to indicate before turning.



We pick a route that’s friendly to bicycles, sometimes we ride past the ACME bakery for a fresh croissant, sometimes we detour past an ATM to deposit a cheque or a post-box to mail a letter. Although the school detour is only an extra couple of miles compared to my regular weekday commute the journey each way is extended by 35 minutes & I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve ridden almost 4000kms together already and it’s a beautiful, nourishing ritual we share. Arriving at school Zara’s chariot is always the center of attention. Her teachers & classmates are duly impressed by our ride.



The journey home is equally sacred and typically consumes an hour. I usually collect Zara shortly after 5pm and she eats dinner while I pedal through the streets of Berkeley. We spot halloween pumpkins, eccentric houses, planes and of course more lightning bugs. Dinner in-transit tonight included quail eggs, grapes, apple slices, a cucumber, pita bread, milk, carrots, homegrown-popcorn and a sachet of fruit & sweet potato. The various courses are issued in ziploc bags to “her highness” & returned empty to my waiting hand as we commence the steep climb at the 8 kilometer mark & head for the home stretch and the final ~750ft elevation.

Around this time, when I’m shortest of breath Zara usually requests a series of her favourite songs. Puffing & sweating between verses I haul the bike inside after we check the mailbox at the bottom of our steep driveway, then it’s time for some final nibbles, a bath & the bed-time routine.

Before Zara outgrows her seat, I’d love to extend my bike to carry both girls simultaneously. This past weekend I wrangled an offspring handover with Zoe, depositing Bix & collecting Zara from a friend’s house in Berkeley.



Beatrix absolutely loved her first bike ride!

-D

zara-isms

Despite some modest foliage burn (notably the precious sungold tomato seedlings) our garden has bounced back from Berkeley’s uncharacteristic snow and we’re reaping the bountiful rewards of the growing season.



Zara is harvesting ripe, juicy strawberries daily, radishes, carrots, plus a few blackberries & blueberries. We’re making great meals of rainbow chard, bok choi, mixed lettuce and greens with similar frequency.
Plenty of zucchini, squash, herbs, kale, beans etc. Corn (sweet & strawberry) is thriving again this year & hopefully we’ll have gooseberries in abundance any day now.

Zara absolutely adores her garden and rarely misses a day foraging amongst the plants, flowers and bugs.



She loves engaging in pretend play, directing encounters between her various toys, often resulting in them being tucked into “bed” in various configurations, spread throughout the living areas of the house.
She loves drawing, cutting, sticking, glueing and of course reading books. She’s eager to identify the letters in words she hears and can string letters together to discern a written word if we assist atomizing phonemes.



She also loves directing Beatrix & pushing the boundaries of what might be considered “gentle” play. Hugs are given & accepted freely as are kisses on the nose. She’s fascinated with her body & its ability to heal (bruises, scrapes & splinters are ever-present on her knees due to her reckless physical abandon).

Daddy my graze is healed .... good job blood!

She loves making herself dizzy, running, galloping, sliding, tumbling, bouncing and swinging. She’s light as a feather but can deliver a solid knee to your kidney like a pro streetfighter if you’re lying (or sleeping for that matter) at ground level.

Zara eats everything, though rarely in abundance. She prefers discrete ingredients (tomatoes, onions, garlic, beef, carrots, pasta) rather than complex dishes (eg. bolognese). Her favourite foods are fish eyes and octopus heads though quail eggs, cheese, kidney and olives more readily top the favourites list.



She loves replicating the various parenting mechanics she undergoes on her plush toys. Putting them to bed, bathing, reading them stories. She’s a proud & protective big sister, looking out for Beatrix & ensuring she doesn’t eat or tumble-over things-forbidden. Zara is astute and perceptive, able to predict & deduce outcomes from theory & observation alone.

Daddy I have butt-knees!
(her deduced label for buttocks)

She loves inventing languages & “speaking in tongues”, often carrying on lyrical conversations with her toys in fabricated lexicons. She also loves inventing songs, either complete with music or just substituting lyrics with familiar melodies.



At story time, every player receives a name ..... “Phhmnk” is a valid (& popular) choice.

Zara has the most infectious giggle & finds every possible reason to spread it around.



I love you so much bubby.

-D

Zara turns three

Happy Birthday Three You!



“Daddy is Beatrix part of my family?”

Yes bubby.

“Daddy, is she the side part or the bottom part?”



Happy birthday beautiful girl.

milestones

Beatrix started talking today. Some time this afternoon, around 4pm ... something just snapped & she began determinedly shaking her head to decline verbal offers. About 30 mins later she was saying “Up”, “Cat” & a few other words. She’s been working on “mum” & “dad” for a couple of weeks now & while she’s been able to associate & mimic our non-verbal calling of the cat with a clicking of the tongue “tsk tsk tsk”, today was the first time she repeated the word “cat”.

She’s (naturally) super-stoked that we can finally understand her most efficient communications & she spent the rest of the evening practicing on us & experimenting with new permutations.



Of course, her vocabulary is probably incomprehensible to a stranger (Zara’s comprehension has been ahead of ours for a few days I suspect) ... but it’s phenomenal to witness (or rather, comprehend) Beatrix vocalizing new associations/observations at such an accelerated rate. She gets thoroughly excited when the feedback loop is closed & her experiments are validated.



It’s evident to me that in her mind, we are the ones to have recently mastered a new skill - to finally comprehend the lucid & coherent statements she’s been delivering for these past nine months! It’s also evident that she’s very proud of us.

Fun times....

snow in Berkeley

While riding home tonight a curious phenomenon greeted me as I rounded the University campus on my way up the hill. It has been raining fairly heavily all day & in the darkness it took me a while to realize that each of the parked cars I passed had wet slush surrounding it... pedaling further up the hill the slush became more pronounced until I reached the 4 mile mark (behind UC Berkeley campus).



Although the temperature was extremely comfortable (well above zero) through the still foggy air, lit by my super bright bike headlights it became apparent that the road was covered in soft, white snow. With hardly any traffic on our quiet streets the snow remained pristine all the way up to our house (& well beyond I'm sure).



When I carried my bike inside the house Zara was in the shower & hadn't realized it had been snowing outside. After wrapping her in her fuzzy pajamas we donned boots & a snow jacket/mitts & headed out into our very own private snow field (deck) before hurrying back inside for warm milk, a couple of books & a bed-time story.



magic!

seasons change

We’re through the worst of the drizzly, soggy season and headed straight for the beautiful, comfortable sunny days that persist for most of the year here in Berkeley. Seeds have been sown, slugs & weeds are making their presence known but Zara is on their case & we’re again spending copious time in the garden as the weather permits.



Our gravenstein apple trees are unfurling their buds (the pink lady hasn’t caught up yet) and the large plum tree on the corner of our property is showering passers-by (and the resident humming birds) with beautiful petals.



Rather than spray herbicides & other poisons around the garden to manage some of the more aggressive weeds, I acquired a “flame weeder” .... it’s basically a modest propane flamethrower which singes, steams & burns weeds & their seeds on contact without harming the surrounding foliage. More reports on its success will be forthcoming, presuming I don’t incinerate the property this weekend.



Our favourite sungold tomatoes are getting established & we’ve sown a handful of watermelon seeds, radishes, carrots & lettuce. Lemon-cucumbers will be germinated indoors and I’m keen to repeat our successes of last year with small plantings of zucchini & corn for Zara. Garlic chives (augmenting a scrumptious mee siam last week), parsley, rosemary & thyme are always handy year-round, but we’ll have to replant a few basil varieties to keep the kitchen stocked. Every couple of weeks we’ve been harvesting arm-fulls of fresh kale to crisp in the oven with olive oil and cumin. Zara still loves kale chips!



Uncle Jeffrey (Zoe’s elder brother) was in San Francisco for a conference & came to visit us on the weekends which was really lovely. Zara was completely glued to Jeff throughout his visit & we’ve all been spoiled by abundance of food treats from Singapore, spicy prawn rolls, pineapple tarts (Zara’s favourite after-dinner treat), chilli-crab & laksa premixes.



At 7 months Beatrix is adept at grasping, holding & biting all manner of yummy morsels with her 4 teeth. The commando crawl is still her favoured (only) mode of transport, she’s sitting & playing for extended periods, exploring her surrounds and for the last couple of weeks she’s been sleeping in Zara’s room overnight. Warm fuzzy feelings abound.



Work is busy & exciting for both of us. Pixar is ramping into the heavyweight image finessing that concludes the production process on each of our films (this time it’s Cars2). I’m traveling to LA every couple of weeks for a day at a time, sometimes to review as little as 90 seconds of film. Next month I’ll be in New York to speak at a film festival & visit the Kodak facilities in Rochester. Zoe is about to start a new job here in San Francisco, working with some really inspiring folks including our favourite author. More on that soon!



We’re really looking forward to a visit from Alex later this month as he makes his way to New York from Japan albeit a brief rendezvous, and there’s a chance we’ll see some other familiar faces from around the world here in Berkeley before too long.

Stay tuned for updates on all the little things that we grow.
-D

snow

We’ve just returned from a short snow vacation with the girls at lake tahoe. A four hour drive plus a stop in Sacramento for yummy sustenance & we found ourselves in a beautiful modern house with eight bedrooms to share amongst the families of Zoe’s mothers group who have been together since Zara was only a few months old.



The house is fronted by a golf course and backs onto a private beach overlooking the lake & the snow capped peaks beyond. This time of year the golf course is blanketed in soft fluffy snow and was just perfect for sledding, snowballs, snowmen and chasing wild geese.



Absolutely perfect T-shirt weather meant we spent nearly every daylight moment on the shore of the lake, blowing bubbles on the deck or frolicking in the snow.



After exhausting the girls & setting them down to bed each night we even managed some hours of vacation ourselves with good friends, food & conversation in front of the cozy fireplace.



Zara’s first snow was a blast.



With any luck we’ll return next year and hit the slopes with the girls Happy


miracles

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.



-D

Daddy why does ...

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

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...

sisters

...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...

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...

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.

"Dadeeeeeeeee?"

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)

“Dadeeeee!”

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

“banana!”

“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.

Fascinating....
-D

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)....

-D

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.
Read More...

it's a girl!

...We love technology....Read More...

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.

-D

Moscow

...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...

preg-a-sau-rus

...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...

christmas cat

Tonight as Zara slept, we strung the festive lights in spirals around the canopy - she’ll get a real treat tomorrow when the sun sets.Read More...

Zoe's Birthday

...Despite best laid plans Zara’s costume actually helped her blend into the crowd...Read More...

sugar & spice

...No Zara, you can’t have ninjas for breakfast, that’s silly....Read More...

sign up

...It felt kind of strange ... as if we were somehow cheating...Read More...

it's my birthday

...For my birthday Zara surprised me in the morning by...


Read More...

future memories

... first words & steps, graduating from college, first nobel
prize, grandkids etc ....Read More...

supermum

...it’s heartening to reflect upon the independence we’ve cultured, the confidence in our ability to provide for our family & just a little taste of the trials our own parents overcame...Read More...

impostor

...a perfect match for the original iPhone in both size & shape and it saves our real phones from...Read More...

project:LASERSHIELD

....Eighty dollars lighter, we returned from Home Depot with 40 feet of ½” PVC pipe, various joiners, end pieces, grommets, threaded galvanized hooks, cable ties &...Read More...

Chateau Buena Vista

...we learned of the concept of gut-loading bugs.
Basically you feed vitamins to your bugs, then feed your bugs to your lizard...Read More...

don't touch the grass!

...hanging out & playing on large expanses of green grass is becoming ever more desirable (for all involved) and the weather has turned for the better of lateRead More...

morning musings

...Broccoli, yoghurt & apple are solid favourites this week. Bananas, chicken, carrots, beef, pears ... you name it, Zara eats pretty much everything we do, and loves it....Read More...

grasshopper

...this past weekend I swapped out the old valve (3 hoses, 4 clamps, a few wires & the solenoid), installed the new valve, re-wired the solenoid & now our machine is as good as new...Read More...

Leaving on a jet plane

...wonderful friends will stay at our house & keep Nick company. Aside from the cat-love, their obligations are small. To complement Nick’s auto-poop-disposal robot, we bought him an auto-food-dispensing robot...Read More...

Happy birthday to mum

... it was feedin’ time so Zoe ducked out to the car to satisfy the little munchkin while I perused the dessert menu inside.
Peppermint tea, espresso, warm persimmon cake with caramel sauce and a creamy pomegranate buttermilk panna cotta ...Read More...

International woman of mystery

...Pickles (aka: Nick the truant bengal) has turned to a delinquent life of drugs....

Read More...

Hallowe'en approacheth

...new stimulus would be greeted with a six-second delay as her sensory & cognitive systems processed the information, formulated a response and finally acted through muted motor skills...Read More...

Anathem

...Not only does this make my ride seem to zoom by quickly, but I often end up thinking deep thoughts & learning numerous significant concepts in the process...Read More...

sweet things

...The deck was one of the “big ticket” items we’d budgeted for major renovations when we decided to purchase the house last year....Read More...

Angel Island is on fire

...the view tonight from our house...


Read More...

sociable baby @ 3 months

...Zara celebrated her third-month birthday yesterday. I was keen to get her a cake, but instead we ended up at a Sichuan restaurant in the city for some tasty hot-pot with our new neighbours...Read More...

tree huggers

...We are lucky enough to have access to Berkeley’s tool lending library, and the sabre saw certainly made light work of the 65mm thick roof...Read More...

toes @ 2 months

...She’ll stare at & twiddle her toes for long stretches of time, often appearing perplexed that these newly discovered, mildly-distant objects can be moved by mere thought alone...Read More...

what to do with a fallen tree?

...They smiled at the large pile of greenery lying prone on the hillside, and commented how wonderful it was to locate fresh acacia trunks, especially with the bushy green foliage attached, and in significant lengths that would keep their picky clients happy....Read More...

2 months old

...We’ve taken to strapping Milly to the overhead handle of Zara’s car capsule when we venture out of the house...Read More...

perambulatin'

...Nick will be thankful for the company too, but there’ll be an abundance in short order with holidaying cousins from both Sydney & Stuttgart due to bunk with us in Berkeley in the weeks that follow....Read More...

3 weeks old

...cherish every sleepless night, every bout of spit up, every wail & scream, every nappy change, every moment holding & rocking Zara to sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning...Read More...

the cutest things

...Uber friends from Oakland (Paulana) executed an impressive “pie drive-by” last weekend, briefly dropping in just long enough to throw a scrumptious apple & blackberry pie through the door & gawk at our new arrival...Read More...

hot summer days

... piglet is now 10 days old & I’ve had a glorious week at home with the girls. I’m heading back to work tomorrow ... which seems like an impossible challenge right now ...Read More...

coming home

...she was conscious but strapped down & whimpering quietly, her abdomen was shielded from view by a small curtain on a frame attached to the operating table ...

Read More...

she's here

...Zara Eloise Glynn was welcomed into the world this morning after 26hrs labour...

Read More...

waiting for the call

...I keep my phone close to me at work. I’m waiting for the call from Zoe, the call which means I’ll sprint out of my office, jump on my bike & pedal hard, really hard ...
Read More...

anticipation

...the nurse deposited a giant bucket-o'-babies out front of the classroom & everyone was asked to pick one to play with one all day, lots of origami (swaddling) & various football poses/holds. Party packs of nappies, thermometers, beanies, cloth nappy covers & fake boobs were distributed amongst the rows of diligent students...Read More...

getting schooled

...we’ve entered an age when we can not only transmit tomes of knowledge between continents in mere fractions of a second, manipulate the very genetic codes that embody our individuality and transport people into space & back with some semblance of control, but perhaps even more importantly it’s now feasible to design & manufacture rechargeable, battery powered chainsaws...Read More...

keys, wallet, phone, tickets....

...It’s a rare occasion of late when we have an excuse to dress up & hit the town, however exclusive invitations to a Pixar “wrap party” make for compelling inspiration...Read More...

the home "stretch"

...the Eucalypts & Acacias seem to get on well, collectively killing almost any other species that attempts to set down roots in the vicinity...Read More...

Summer is coming (Z@34wks)

...all manner of cutsie clothing for newborns ... and a fab alphabet book, some wash cloths, flannel blankies & even a pair of chopsticks for tiny people...Read More...

good friends, good food, good times.

...The last couple of weeks have been consumed with the comparing of BTU output, the clanging of metal doors, the twisting of shiny knobs and the repeated opening & closing, opening & closing, opening & closing of rotisserie hoods...Read More...

bulletproof

...originally convinced myself I'd be capable of performing the deed solo, looking forward to an opportunity to crank my shiny new chainsaw (which had been sitting idle in our garden shed since Kim's visit in February) but sanity soon reigned...Read More...

robo-poop: It's the future!

...buildings so varied in scale & architecture as to immediately convey the complexity, magnitude & significance of the ambitious work NASA has accomplished during its short history. The facility was a perfect venue for the thousands of "space hippies" that decend on Silicon Valley for this annual event....Read More...

the everyday

...Now we have somewhere to hide our shoes, a place for guests to sit while de-shoeing and munchie (the robot vacuum cleaner) can easily scoot underneath to clean while we're out of the house....Read More...

super-commuter

...& uber-coder Drew who, with the aid of a digital micrometer, a metal lathe & a reasonable supply of raw aluminium has built me some custom bike components...Read More...

cook with me ... eat with me ....

...a salty dark think paste which looks like molasses but is made from ... well ... there's no easy way to say this .... rotten shrimp. When mixed with kumquats and fresh chillies, it forms the basis of one of our favourite fresh salads called rojak. I first tasted this dish in Singapore...Read More...

this ol' house

...we're stocked with rechargeable drills, rivet guns, hacksaws and a powerful gas chainsaw .... when the zombie invasion starts, know that you can safely camp-out at our place ... and always remember zombie survival lesson #4 "blades don't need reloading"...Read More...

sometimes beautiful things fall from the sky

...It goes without saying that I heartily endorse Nick's play, interaction, paw-eye coordination development & exercise afforded by small radio controlled flying devices & will endeavour to meet _his_ very necessary requirement by undertaking further research & acquisition of said devices...Read More...

Christmas in our new home

...we're particularly looking forward to having our (Berkeley residential code-compliant) spark arrester installed on the chimney cap in the coming days so we can crank up the imposing fireplace that dominates the living room. Yippee, my pyro desires will be fulfilled...Read More...

introducing ... Zom v2 alpha

... Pictured here at 10.5wks is the newest member of our family, a whopping 3.7cm from head to bum...Read More...

culinaire

... a delicious sour cream dutch cocoa cake served with creme fraiche, morello cherries, strawberries and kiwifruit.
I then proceeded to eat said chocolate cake, though Z did get a slice ...Read More...

meet Nick the cat....

... No doubt he fancies himself as a big cat, though he's really quite a sook, hungry for warmth and attention ... but more often ... just hungry Happy...Read More...

dark energy...

... a couple of outsiders including Arno Penzias ... who received his nobel prize for detecting the "big bang". Suddenly I find myself in a conversation with the professor of physics at UC Davis, who's designing a new telescope ... Read More...

Hello 1960's

... We received the keys to our very own house three weeks ago and spent a couple of busy days moving in between furious stints of mopping, scrubbing & vacuuming both the new abode & our previous apartment ....Read More...

Bye bye 1920's ....

... We'll ( temporarily) miss the bikini-clad freshmen hawking their dorm's decrepit parking spaces @ $30 each, to the throngs of city-siders who venture across to the East Bay for a Beastie Boys concert ....Read More...

30 years and counting....

...Wonderful well-wishes flowing over the wire from all corners of the globe .... warm fuzzy feelings abound.
It's also great to hear that Ratatouille (the most recently exhibited of the Pixar films I've worked on) has just opened in Oz....Read More...

Zion UT, Vegas NV, San Diego CA

... man, this town is C.R.A.Z.Y .... they've built entire networks of canals indoors (elevated on the 2nd floor of a hotel) with gondolas & fake sky to mimic the city of Venice ... & lets not forget Vegas is smack in the middle of an inhospitable desert ... C.R.A.Z.Y!Read More...

Some kind of (coffee) geek

.... however unlike a Lamborghini he has a working clock, a very tiny radar signature and he makes gorgeous, velvety, aromatic espresso...Read More...

Pets!!

....Zoe is now the proud (giggling, excited, awestruck) parent of [wait for it!] ; 4 pet shrimp, a tumble-weed of algae & some bacteria. Sounds fun I know.... Read More...

Bay Rendezvous in Spring

...We're often complemented on our violin playing by the residents in the building ... evidently the solo bach permeates through the ninety year old superstructure .... I wonder what they think of the intermittent blippy chip music cranked out as Mario bounces along through the levels of this classic console game circa 1991....Read More...

Big people with little brains

...grown men & women hurtling down the cobbled incline at breakneck (& break-ankle) speeds, crashing into eachother (& the spectators) ... whilst wearing wacky costumes and riding toddler's plastic bikes & trikes (rated up to a meager 30kgs), only to dissipate just as randomly back into the city-scape and leave the street once again non-descript, save for the incredible view over San Francisco...Read More...

USA: A day in the life of...

Dom: How's Pockets?
Z: (looks up from her laptop screen)....Cheeky.
Dom: Did you kick him in the guts?
Z: Yeah.Read More...

I love(d) being 8 years old....

...I'm sure if I'd had the courage to attempt to spell "helicopter" (& the written evidence suggests I wouldn't have been successful) I likely would have upgraded the request...Read More...

Party time

...For some reason I pulled-up fine the following morning and took the opportunity for a relaxing stroll through Pacific Heights & around the Presidio but poor Zoe & Bryan weren't as fortunate with their recovery so heavy heads were carefully nursed to the taqueria where all was made well with the world...Read More...

Arizona with a hint of Barossa

...with the company's expense account in tow we did manage to rent a grunty bright-yellow mustang coupe, experience the surreal cactus covered desert landscapes, sip cool beers by the pool & partake of some of the finest sushi ever served!...Read More...

Of robots & memories


...I have seen the future and it sucks!
It also sweeps, dusts and eats dirt, hair and biscuits ... I like to call it "Munchie"....Read More...

Grand Canyon:Arizona, Yosemite:California


...we even "rescued" a couple of ex-military guys who, huddled in the darkness had armed themselves with rocks a pocket-knife in anticipation of fending off the bear they'd passed just minutes earlier ... they'd even choreographed the methods by which one chap would provide distraction & hurl rocks while the other jumped on the bear's back to stab it in the neck with the tiny 2-inch blade. Ahhh bless'em ...Read More...

Wine Country, Boston, Siggraph, WWDC

...much pizza & wine powered goodness ensued, overlooking the vast & beautiful bay from atop Indian Rock in the hills of North Berkeley. With subtly clinking goodies stashed in Zoe's backpack, we sauntered past rock-climbers consumed by their intense bouldering practice, staked our claim in the sun, unsheathed the garlic-laden, simple cheeseboard pizzas and very slowly soaked up the afternoon with Andre, Andrew & a couple of bottles of wine....Read More...

Squirrels, Fireworks, Hiking, Redwoods

... the roman candles & rockets continued to be launched well past 3am, each new "boom ... whine/squeal/whistle ........ bang!" followed invariably by a loud drunken cheer & perplexing repetitions of genuinely surprised exclamations (& accompanying expletives)... still, it was good fun to watch from our elevated living room window ...........Read More...

Harvest time, Destructo V.4alpha & NorCal

... numerous meals of fresh nutty lettuce, aromatically seasoned lamb with lots of rosemary and yukon potato mash with both flat and curly parsley. Zoe also baked a magnificent loaf of bread impregnated with french emmenthal, torn prosciutto and a good dose of oregano from our"garden"...........Read More...

Berkeley Life & Destructo V.3

... bike transit affords a welcome boost to my heart-rate covering ~80km/week which is a significant step up from the sedentary waddle we undertook daily in Toronto where the "office-to-fridge" distance was detrimentally minute. Instead I feign resistance to the gourmet goodies Zoe smuggles back from the Ranch..........Read More...

Hello San Francisco

... At times I have to pinch myself, it's almost surreal to trade conversations with the idols whose mathematical theorems I first learned during school with (at the time) nary a thought that the names behind the equations belonged first to real people, who I'm now so privileged to call colleagues..........Read More...