Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Budding musical talent?

Of course. She's a genius.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trek Fest 2009

This weekend was the 25th annual "Trek Fest" community event in Riverside, Iowa, the birthplace of Captain James Kirk. Katie and I went to the parade and festivities this morning and it was awesome. Quite possibly one of the coolest things we've done in Iowa since moving here almost three years ago.

The parade was great. It was fun to watch Abigail watch everything. She enthralled with all the trucks and noises and people walking by. Check out some of these costumes:

Note the Orien slave girl and "Pon Farr" Spock (above). They also had the U.S.S. Riverside:

Quick trivia, Star Trek fans: which movie was the following float modeling a scene from?

Star Trek IV, of course, The Voyage Home. The parade theme was "The Voyage Home" so I thought this was pretty clever. Note the whaling ship at the bottom right and the humpback whale fin at the bottom left.

They even had a "horta-mobile". Only the die-hards will probably appreciate this:

Unfortunately, a few storm troopers didn't get the memo that they never appeared in Star Trek, and certainly never wore Starfleet insignia:

One of the highlights was having some of the original Star Trek actors there for the festivities. At the front of this float was George Takei (Sulu), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), and Walter Koenig (Chekov):

There were people there from all over the country (and rightly so). Check out this license plate from Ohio. You can bet they're hard-core Trekkers:

After the parade there was a costume contest. Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov (or, at least, their actors) were the judges. This guy in a horta outfit won first place in the "supporting cast" category:
Check out these Klingons:

We entered Abigail into the "children's" category at the costume competition. We dressed her up in a Starfleet uniform costume that my mom sent us (it was originally purchased for my sister Denali in 2001). Abigail received an "honorable mention" from the three Star Trek actors (her grandpa would have been very proud of her). She lost to a boy in a "fencing Sulu" outfit - black pants, no shirt, and a fencing sword. I think that George Takei was somewhat biased... ;-)

Overall we had a great time. Definitely one of the best community events I've been to in a long time. And Katie was nice enough to tag along and indulge her geeky husband in some Trekkiness. We especially liked how much attention Abigail got. Everyone commented on what a cute baby she is and several people asked to take a picture of her.

UPDATE (8:00 PM): As you can see from Abby's picture above, Katie did her hair up in two pig-tails on the top of her (Abigail's) head today. On our way out to the car this morning, Katie asked something about whether or not that would be appropriate for the costume contest because she wouldn't look like any particular Star Trek character. The rest of the conversation went something like this:

BEN: She looks like a Martian, she'll be just fine.
KATIE: Yes, but there aren't any Martian Star Trek people.
BEN: Okay fine, she can be an Andorian.
KATIE: Yes, but she's not blue.

This conversation is significant for the following reasons:

A) Katie knew that in the Star Trek universe, there weren't any native Martians.
B) Katie also knew that Andorians have antannae and she understood what I was getting at without me having to explain it to her.
C) Finally, Katie also knew that Andorians have blue skin.

Folks, I think this marriage will last.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We survived. . .

four years of wedded bliss.

Happy Anniversary, Benjamin!

I love you!

So Much To Write, So Little Time

First, I survived my week alone (barely) while Benjamin was at his conference in Michigan. I ate cold cereal for almost every meal except for when I found a few microwave dinners in the freezer (thanks Jessica). I joked to my family that I was going to have to call the RS for help with meals since Ben is the cook at our place. It's not that I can't cook, it's that I am too lazy to make a meal just for myself. Oh well. Abigail was a lot of fun. She was well behaved and even was good for the babysitters who watched her while I was student teaching in Cedar Rapids every morning. More info about student teaching to come. Thanks Stokers for watching her, even when she had a cold. They even took her to the zoo, lucky girl, where she apparently was fascinated by the parrots.

Abigail's new tricks:
She loves bananas

I caught her new laugh on video and it is hilarious. I came from behind in order to not distract her with the camera. She's hasn't stopped laughing since she learned (except when it's naptime and she is screaming).
She rolls over in the crib and keeps herself awake. She gets stuck on her tummy and then just screams.

She loves to look out the window.

She enjoys her swimming lessons.

She raises her arms when she wants someone to pick her up. She loves to play with the toys in the bouncer even though she doesn't bounce. I've seen kids go crazy bouncing in these things. She is content to just play.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New JibJab...

There's a new JibJab animation about Pres. Obama. It's worth a watch:


Thursday, June 18, 2009

What I Learned on My Trip

I just got back from a week-long workshop on the quantitative measurement and analysis of religion and American politics. We basically learned how to best analyze public opinion surveys that deal with the subject. It was held at the Henry Institute at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I went there because Iowa doesn't offer a graduate seminar in religion and politics and none of the professors really know anything about it. So I figured I could attend this and claim to be "qualified" to teach the topic should an opening appear in that area. And I know no one cares, but nonetheless, here's a non-comprehensive sampling of things that I learned this last week:

I learned some basic differences between Mainline and Evangelical Protestant denominations. I also learned what it means to be "charismatic" or "Pentecostal."

I learned that there's a difference between being a black Protestant and a Black Protestant.

I learned what a Cronbach's alpha statistic is and how to calculate it.

I learned that if I can't get a job at a university when I graduate, I could probably have a long and satisfying career working for a national survey organization like Pew or the U.S. Census Bureau.

Speaking of Pew, I learned that I owe my academic career so far to the Pew Research Center and their wonderful surveys that they make available on the internet for free. If you're looking for a worthy charitable cause - I highly recommend them, as you'll indirectly be supporting my livelihood as well.

I learned that when it comes to political attitudes, the major religious differences in contemporary America are now between "traditionalists" and "modernists" instead of between individual denominations (like Catholics vs. Protestants).

I learned that western Michigan is a nice place! I really like living in the Midwest. It's politically liberal but culturally religious, so I feel right at home.

Perhaps best of all, I learned that President Ford took his wife to a football game for their honeymoon. (Pres. Ford was from Grand Rapids and we went to his Presidential museum while we were there.)

It's nice to be back with my family now. Katie did a fabulous job holding down the fort while I was gone, as she always does. I would never be able to get along without her.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pictures for Daddy.

Dad is in Michigan at a week-long seminar about religion and politics. He misses us and asked us to post pictures. Here are a few.

Here she is helping with with the laundry.
Here she is mad that I won't let her have the camera.
Here she is after swimming lessons.Here she is all wrapped up and ready for a nap.
My mom suggested that I let Abigail finger paint with pudding. This is supposed to be a sensory exercise that helps her interact with new textures. It sounded fun so I decided to try it. I mixed breast milk with the pudding and it never set. I took a video is of Abigail playing with liquid pudding. She made a mess! She even got it all over me. Oh, and if you listen close to it, you can hear her saying da da da da.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm so proud.

My baby is growing up. She's six months old today and is as cute as ever. Her hair is barely long enough to put up in ponytails. This is a very fun age and we are really enjoying it.

My husband is FAMOUS. I am so proud of him for not only have several single authored publications as a grad student, but also for receiving so much media attention for these publications.

Just in case you’re all interested, there were some articles about one of his papers in the news today:




And he was on the radio in Delaware this morning, too. He sounds so knowledgable and impressive. Wow!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Life is Sublime

She's tried rice cereal, oatmeal, carrots, peas, squash. . .and her least favorite thus far: PRUNES.
Here she is at the temple. Did we mention that she loves to sit in the grass.
Here she is at the stake handcart activity. I made her a bonnet. She wore it for a second.
Here is dad spending a lazy summer afternoon (after a hard day's work) playing out in the yard with his little girl. And here's a quick family picture using the timer on the camera. What an idyllic afternoon. I spent most of the time in the hammock while they played out in the grass.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fun with Wordle

I thought you all might enjoy a few random Wordles. They're graphical representations of blocks of text with larger words corresponding to higher frequencies of appearance. You can make your own here: http://www.wordle.net/. Enjoy!

The entirety of the Book of Mormon: President Obama's Inaugural Address:
John Locke's Second Treatise on Government:

Federalist Papers #1 (Hamilton), #10 (Madison), #51 (Madison):
The entire draft text of my dissertation so far:

Thanks, Katie!

I just wanted to publicly thank my wife for her outstanding efforts this week. She single-handedly managed to take full-time care of a baby who is teething and has a minor ear infection, complete five arduous homework assignments for her summer class, and tend to yardwork, including lawn-mowing and hosta-planting. Her efforts enabled me to be able to put 8-10 hours a day on my dissertation and assorted school projects, for which I owe her a lot. As I told my sister earlier today, Katie must be super-human to be able to handle all that she does in a given day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another Man's Trash. . .

I've had a great month with freecycle and garage sales. I got this high chair for free and it has been awesome for feeding Abigail.

Several weeks ago I headed to the city wide garge sale (the city provided a map to all of the various sales). I wanted a jogging stroller, a play kitchen, baby toys, an aerobic step, and a working CD player. I hoped I would find at least one of these things. The first sale I went to had: A JOGGING STROLLER for *$10, a play kitchen with food for $10, and cute baby toys. How awesome is that? I ended up only going to four sales before my car was too full. I found an ottoman for my glider, magnetic letters and numbers, cute summer hats and swimwear for Abs, a small couch for Abigail that folds out into a bed (it only weighs three or four pounds). I never found the aerobic step or the CD player, but I guess I can't be too picky. :)

*Kim, I'm not a haggler or I probably could have gotten these items cheaper. Next time you'll have to come from CA to help me out. :)