Raising a nerd

“Dad, there’s a mistake in Stranger Things. It’s supposed to be set in 1984, but that periodic table in the background shows an element that wasn’t discovered until a decade later.” (Turned out to be Oganesson 118). Kid has a memory like a steel trap – makes me so jealous sometimes.

DIY Dehydrator

It is done! The homemade dehydrator project got put on hold for a while, but finally finished it yesterday, marinated thin-cut flank steak overnight (Alton Brown recipe) and just put them in for a 6-hour cook at 120 deg. Settled on a 200W halogen bulb (halogen is not very efficient and turns a lot of energy into heat rather than light, which is what we want for this). The build was… wonky in lots of ways – couldn’t get a friend’s words out of my head: “You know you can buy a dehydrator on amazon for like $36, right?” “But then it wouldn’t be homemade!” No idea what to expect – hoping for the best.

Update: First round of jerky was amazing. It’s going to be tough to keep it in stock.

Round 2, a month later: Cinnamon apples and banana slices. This one will be a 10-hour cook.







Earthquake Preparedness Kit

in the Bay Area, we live under the constant threat of a devastating earthquake happening at any time. There is no way to know exactly what to prepare for, but we wanted to create a “rolling survival kit” – something we could pack into a trash can on wheels, to be towed to some nearby location if our house were to be leveled. There’s no way to cover every possible contingency, but this is our shot at three days worth of survival gear for a family of three.

Earthquake Kit - 1

  • Twelve gallons of clean, sealed water
  • Four days worth of Coast Guard/Homeland Security-approved emergency rations
  • Canned beans and soup
  • Leatherman multi-tool (pliers, knife, screwdriver, wire cutter, can/bottle openers)
  • First-aid kit
  • Mylar emergency blankets (10-pack)
  • Hand-crank/solar-powered radio/flashlight
  • Mini camp stove with extra fuel
  • Water filtration system
  • Lightweight cooking pot
  • Plastic cups, bowls, utensils
  • Dust masks
  • Solar-powered USB charger for phones
  • Fint-and-steel fire starter
  • Drinkable vitamin C
  • Toilet paper, maxi pads, toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Moist baby wipes
  • Cotton swabs (for fire starters, in place of tampons)
  • Prescription medication
  • Misc plastic trash bags
  • Towel
  • Duct tape

There’s always more that can be added, but this covers most of the bases, fits into the rolling trash can pictured below, and gives us a lot of peace of mind should a worst-case scenario ever come to pass.

Earthquake Kit - 2

Ping Pong Zither

My son and I playing ping-pong against the woefully out-of-tune strings of my grandmother’s 1920s zither.

Tomales Bay Kayaking, Father’s Day 2014

Best father’s day a guy could ask for – kayaking and oysters at Tomales Bay, near Point Reyes, CA. Unfortunately I blew most of the kayaking shots due to not wiping crusted saltwater off the lens regularly (live and learn). Check out the note my wife left for me in the sand.

Flickr set

Pale Blue Dot

This three-minute speech – Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” – was the finale to the original Cosmos series, and stands in my mind as one of the most moving short speeches I’ve ever heard. Voyager 2’s last glimpse back at the earth as it became the first human craft to exit our solar system provided the backdrop and the inspiration for Sagan’s soliloquy. Seeing it in 1980 marked a dawning of cosmic awareness for me as a young teen.


Tonight we watched the finale of Neil de Grasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” reboot. Tastefully, the series finished with Sagan’s original Pale Blue Dot audio, set to new (and far more gorgeous) visuals.

Every week for 13 weeks we’ve gotten together with another family and hung on every word, absorbed as much as we could, and tried to help our children appreciate as much as possible of these incredible perspectives on life, the universe and everything.

It is impossible to summarize the hugeness of the undertaking in producing the new Cosmos, or of the impact it has had on us. It has truly been the TV event of the decade for us, and I hope the seeds it has planted will continue to grow in Miles’ heart for the rest of his life.

Knoll Organic Farm

Took the day off work to chaperone school trip to Knoll Organic Farm with sixth graders. All about biodiversity. First image shows apricots, figs, rosemary, barley and 20 others all growing in the same space – they get more than 3x more yield per acre than conventional farms by growing like nature does, where everything is entangled with everything else. Second image shows biodynamic soup – rainwater, molasses, figs, whatever else, left to stew until almost kombucha, then trickled into the irrigation system like homeopathy for soil. Third image: half-walnut as pig-nose.

Amazing: “When we have snails, someone from Chez Panisse drives out here to pick them up.”

Glorious afternoon!