Sunday, August 31, 2008

Future Farmer?

Carter has already expressed an interest in several careers: geographer, teacher, and baker. Actually, he plans to combine all three. While we were in San Diego, his description of an Asian pear impressed Erik's colleague (who has an additional vocation as an organic fruit grower) enough to suggest another future profession: fruit taster. Carter may have an interest in fruit growing, as the photos demonstrate. Erik's friend and colleague Paul invited us to pick pears from his trees and Carter reveled in the opportunity to climb the ladder (with appropriate supervision), and hand-select 59 pears. Carter is eating one of Paul's pears right now as he oversees the composition of this blog entry. After hard work in the mini-orchard, Carter took a well-earned, short nap in Paul's hammock.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Commotion in the Ocean

Erik's research agenda has quickly shifted gears. After completing his book on elections in the former Soviet states, he has begun work on a multi-year collaborative research project supported by the National Science Foundation. The project kicked off at the University of California, San Diego, where all of the researchers met to coordinate data collection and refine the theoretical framework.

Since the workshop did not start until Monday, we decided to travel a couple of days early to San Diego to have a brief family vacation as well. We arrived on Saturday, after a very early start to the day, and spent time on the beach and in the hotel pool. Upon our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, Carter asked "where is Taiwan?" When we finally arrived on the beach, Carter shrieked with excitement as the waves rushed over his feet - and occasionally over his knees - soaking his shorts. We returned to the beach and pool almost every day.

San Diego has many fantastic activities for children, and we were only able to sample a few. The Birch Aquarium at UCSD was a big hit, especially the fish feeding show at the 70,000 gallon tank. Carter laughed hysterically when the leopard shark "kissed" the diver and proceeded to raid the food pail designated for all the fish, stealing most of the delicious victuals (various fish and squid parts). He also enjoyed "petting" starfish, anemones, and a sea cucumber in the outdoor tidal pools. The San Diego Zoo was a bit less of a thrill for Carter. He was more interested in identifying the animals' countries of origin than seeing the animals themselves. While he was able to see his favorites - koalas and hippopotami - he tired out in the early afternoon, taking a nap on Erik's lap. He awoke for the sea lion show, but missed the opening act. A California condor flew over our heads from the stage to the back of the theater, and then returned to the stage. We were probably more enthused about the zoo than Carter.

During Erik's workshop, Lea and Carter spent most of their time on the beach and at the hotel's "circle pool" (as Carter labeled it). Carter loved the vacation, and wants to know when we are having our next one!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Nut Spas!

Last year at this time, we posted a couple of entries about the Spas holidays (Honey/Poppy Seed, Apple, and Nut). Today we noticed a spike in visits to the blog. For reasons unclear to us, we have become the #1 source for Nut Spas information on Google (go ahead - google "nut spas" and see what comes up!). Since today is Nut Spas, we received some traffic seeking out information. I suspect that it did not take visitors long to realize that we are not the leading source on Spas holidays. Incidentally, aside from searches related to our names, the top terms leading to our site are "Nut Spas" and "oviparous animals."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some Light Reading

Erik's book, Elections and Democracy after Communism?, is off to the publisher for final processing. In the coming weeks, he will review the proofs, finalize the index, and wait for the end product to emerge sometime in spring 2009. Of course, you may pre-order it at several online booksellers (with the best price currently here). For those who can't wait until it is published, or the much larger group who cannot imagine ever reading it, you can get a sense of what it is all about through the Wordle Erik created from the introduction and conclusion. For the uninitiated, Wordle graphically displays words in any text based on their frequency (the larger the word, the more often it is used). It is the flavor of the moment on the web, but is a clever and attractive way to distill text to its essential elements.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

(Pre) School Days

Today was a major milestone for Carter - his first day of school. While it was just pre-school, going off on his own was a big transition for him (as well as Lea and Erik). Carter had a great day, from loading and carrying his bee backpack, to meeting all of his classmates, playing in the yard, making pretend popcorn, eating real fruit, and finally getting to tell his parents all about his adventures at his favorite restaurant over lunch. Below you can see some additional photos of Carter on his way out of the house, as well as a recent family picture that is displayed at his school.