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!