Sunday, March 30, 2008

Go Fly a Kite

Hikaru was looking forward to his usual walk to the park this afternoon, but he said, "No swing." His usual first destination is the swing, but he would much rather see the kite fly. There was a change in the weather today, so there was wind.

Our kite looks like a butterfly. Kites made out of silk were flown as early as 2800 years ago in China, but this "modern" one is made out of nylon. There was some anticipation while the kite string was being reeled out by Daddy...

And with Mommy holding the kite ready to launch... a slight tug of the string sent the kite flying high into the sky with the wind!

Hikaru was pretty excited -- running back and forth -- squealing with joy!

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Going To Market

Every other Sunday or so, we like going to the Alhambra Farmer's Market for our weekly groceries. It's a Certified Farmers' Market -- eliminate the middle man and support the small farmers. Hikaru likes to check out some of the farm-fresh produce.

Boy, look at the size of these melons! Hikaru was pretty impressed.

These daikon looked pretty good, and he's making sure that it's 100% organic and free of pesticides.

Hikaru likes the free samples. Strawberries are in season too -- yummy, yummy!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Listening to the Mountains

Sometimes the adult mind can get a little boring -- numb and asleep. We don't spend enough time watching the sky and listening to the mountains. I can't explain it, but if you close your eyes and listen very carefully, one can hear a very low humming sound.

The mountains become a part of your being -- resonating, and you can hear it. It's easy to forget, though. It's almost like forgetting your heartbeat or your breathing. But it's good to remember, or else one might not totally be alive.

Today Hikaru and I were plucking grass in the backyard. The springtime grass stands about four feet tall now, and the grass undulates with every touch of the wind. We tossed the grass grain heads up -- high into the sky, and the wind carries them away. Hikaru's smile was so huge that you wonder why adults are missing out on such great joy and fun.

We also followed a hairy caterpillar climbing up the wall of the house. We tried to get it to climb onto a blade of grass, but instead it dropped down, curled up, and acted like it was dead. Hikaru said, "Caterpillar sleeping." So we left it alone on the ground.

In many ways, we've all been acting like the "sleeping" caterpillar -- sleeping and craving sleep at every moment -- trying to catch up from the deprivation. But then it's also hard to go somewhere new by being curled up and pretending to be dead.

This evening, during Hikaru's nap, I spent some time sitting outside and watching the sky. I sat right next to the caterpillar. Glints of sunlight danced around me with every gust of wind. I tracked airplanes across the sky. I heard dogs barking, the blare of a car horn, and voices in the distance. I saw the shadows lengthen, and the sun set. As a window to the universe opened up with the darkness, the light of the first star appeared. And again I heard the mountains.

Suddenly, I looked on the ground around me, and noticed that the caterpillar was gone! It must have woken up.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Was It Good Friday?

Earlier this week, in the semi-dark silence of 5 am, I was walking down an apartment hallway. I was inside one of LTSC's affordable housing projects. A thought was emerging (or rambling) in my mind, but it was difficult to define... Life goes with the flow.

Making my way up to the building's rooftop, I was troubleshooting a wireless network problem. People have been complaining that the Internet was "slug-like" and slow. The early morning is the best time to track down network issues -- with few users online and low data traffic. It's like envisioning the world with a quiet and clear mind.

The view from the roof is always beautiful. One can feel that it's almost possible to visualize the data packets of electromagnetic energy emerging from the 2.4 GHz microwave antennas -- like the glittering city lights in the far distance. I was just checking again that the antennas were aligned OK.

[Excuse the geek talk.]

I reviewed the 802.11b bridge statistics to ensure that the wireless link was the source of the problem. CRC errors were taking place in the transmitted and received packets -- probably due to an interference source on the same channel. So I modified the configuration to an alternate channel, rebooted the wireless bridge, and things were fine again. Sometimes you wish that everything in life was that simple.

Back at home, Hikaru still had a low-grade fever, but feeling better. On Monday, his body temperature shot up to 105 degrees F, and we were worried. He had a fever and a bad cough since the previous Thursday. Our normally active baby was moody, cranky, and mostly wanting to sleep. So we took him in to see the doctor, and he was diagnosed with a form of pneumonia (or bronchitis).

Our doctor prescribed antibiotics for Hikaru, and that seemed to do the trick. The stuff really works. Sometimes you wish that things in life were that simple, but we're thankful for modern medical technology and the body's ability to heal itself.

Yesterday afternoon, I passed a red-faced middle-aged White man with a blue button-down shirt. I said "hello" with a smile, but he didn't reply. Suddenly, he shouted, "F*ck!" I heard loud repeated outbursts of the "f-word". Not wanting to find out the source of his anger, I kept walking. I heard him say, "This is most g*d d*mn f*cked up day!" Being Good Friday, Jesus could have thought similar things (even for a brief second), but with a better choice of words...

In downtown Los Angeles, it's not uncommon to see an urban drama being played out. In every human mind, there's a diversity of thoughts, beliefs, and stories being told. The sun is bright; the weather is warm, and the cherry trees along the streets of Little Tokyo are blooming with pink flowers. We celebrate the first day of spring!


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Going to School

In this photo Hikaru shows how the Universe began with the "Big Bang" about 14 billion years ago -- and it's been expanding ever since...

Hikaru's been spending some time here at the California Institute of Technology contemplating the future. Like predicting the path of a moving particle, the principle of quantum mechanics introduces some uncertainty.

Where will we be in the next twenty years? Who knows? In the meantime, Caltech is fun place to hang out...


Monday, March 03, 2008

Pu'u Loa

We still haven't posted many of the photos from our trip to Hawaii (back in November), so here are more to share. This set of photos represents a very mysterious element from ancient Hawaii. The Big Island has one the largest concentrations in the Pacific of symbolic petroglyphs etched onto the rocks of the lava beds.

What do they say? They seem speak to us from the centuries, but in a language that's not easily understood. These are from Pu'u Loa (Hill of Long Life). Archaeologists say this site dates back to 1450 AD. It is a barren and windy place, and filled with much respectful silence and solitude.

Pu'u Loa was an ancient pilgrimage site for Hawaiian families. It held much spiritual power (mana). The families went there to deposit the umbilical cord (piko) of their children into the volcanic rock.

Like a child is connected to their mother through the umbilical cord, they would therefore be connected to the land and the power of this place -- giving them long life and health.

We didn't bring Hikaru's piko, but this petroglyph below could look like that of a "star child" flying through the blackness of space among the stars.

There was much to explore here in the short time of our visit. But before we left we saw a rainbow that we took to be a "sign", and we paused for a blessing of good luck and health.

View Larger Map

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hikaru's First Snow

As you might guess, it never snows in LA, so "snow" isn't an experience common to Angelenos, except maybe for shaved ice...

My childhood winters in Ohio consisted of shoveling 150 feet of driveway after every snowfall, building snow forts and snow monsters, skiing and sledding. Hikaru won't see quite the same amount of "winter fun", but maybe he can get a little...

Right now, Hikaru's favorite book is the Three Snow Bears, so we thought we should show him what "real" snow is like. Looking up at the San Gabriel Mountains, it seemed like there was still some snow left, so we took a drive along the Angeles Crest Highway. And "yup", there was snow! A little icy and crusty now, but still snow...

Emerging from the car, Hikaru took a few careful steps on the slippery surface, and touched the snow with a finger -- "cold!" A stick is a useful tool to probe the icy surface.

In this photo, Mommy poses with Hikaru on this historic moment when snow is discovered!

Daddy shows Hikaru how to make a snowball.

Hikaru also tries to make his own snowball, and can throw it!

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