Saturday, January 31, 2009

More Obama Comics

I was excited to see that Obama has made it onto the cover of yet another comic book--this time one of my faves, The Amazing Spider-Man. He shows up on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #583, and the plot allegedly involves Spidey busting up an inaguration day plot by one of his long-time foes, The Chameleon (below)--a master of disguise who tries to masquerade as President Obama during the festivities.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sophie's New Vocab

A few new tricks from Sophie, caught on tape. First, she can recite the names of the Hellman family (though sometimes she needs a little reminder).

Second, she is acquiring some basic geography skills--she can say that her Grandma (Mamie) lives in France!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sprouting Sophie

Sophie's quite the climber, and I've been surprised recently as to how tall she has gotten!

Sophie and Max hanging out.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Smilin' Max

The many facial expressions of Maxime Hellman...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Last Weekend's Boston Children's Museum Visit

Let the weekend begin....I kicked things off right by finishing the first draft of my grant application, and tomorrow I get to "celebrate" by working a dialysis shift in the morning and an internal medicine shift overnight...

Here are some pics of last Sunday's visit to the Boston Children's Museum, which was pretty darn snowy. For some reason there is a building shaped like a milk bottle outside the museum.
Sophie wears her safety glasses in the "tools" section.
Looking for plastic food to eat in the play kitchen.
Maxime is starting to let loose some impressive smiles these days, when the mood is right.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LOST, Found Again

A few thoughts on the recent 2-hour Lost Premier I just saw--my only real break from designing figures for the grant I am writing.

1. Although I in general enjoy the "time travel" aspect of the series, I kind of hope they don't continue the present story-telling technique, in which the time reference is always changing and it's hard to figure out if you're watching a scene from the past, present, or future. It's getting a little jarring, so perhaps they can tone it down a bit.

2. Loved the scene where Hurley tried to explain to his mom all the crazy events which went down on the island. Also it looks to me as if Hurley has gained even more weight since leaving the island.

3. It's still hard to figure out if Ben is good or evil. Part of me wants to believe that his desire to reunite "The Oceanic Six" and get them back to the island is benevolent, but it's hard to say since he's still so manipulative. We need a new clear-cut villain if Ben turns out to be a good guy--maybe Charles Widmore?

4. Who the hell were those guys shooting flaming arrows at the Losties? I don't think there will be too many complaints about the uber-annoying Neil taking a flaming arrow to the chest.

Monday, January 19, 2009

U.S. Grant

I'm not actually referring to Ulysses S. Grant (pictured)...I'm referring to a different type of U.S. grant; namely, a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant I am in the process of writing.  The main reason for my relative lack of blog posts recently has been the fact that I have been busting my ass frantically preparing this scientific grant.  It's due on Feb. 12th, which is approaching all too fast!  In a way however it's good that it's so soon--I'm anxious to finish writing and get back to experimenting.  

Happy MLK Day.  Like most people in the U.S., I'm really excited for tomorrow's Obama Inauguration.  It's about time!  I still can vividly recall the night that Bush "defeated" Gore in the 2000 election when I was a graduate student; it seems like such a long time ago now.

Friday, January 16, 2009


My college roommate Doug visited us yesterday for dinner!  I think we bored my wife reminiscing about the ribald tales of our Bright College Years, many of which are not suitable for re-telling in such a public forum, but at least Sophie enjoyed a good laugh.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good Way To Start The Day

This morning, as I was getting dressed I made a wonderful discovery: my ipod nano which had been missing, presumed gone forever, was in fact residing in my plaid vest pocket!

The last time I recall using the ipod was on the evening of the big snow storm: I vividly recall listening to my ipod as I took the elevator downstairs, and I remember stashing it in my pocket as I walked outside to foolishly ride my bike home in the blizzard. I made some slow but steady progress on the roads, but about 5 blocks before getting home, I encountered a group of teenage boys clearly looking for trouble. Having been a teenage boy myself, I could easily predict what would happen next: as I passed them on my bike, one of them let loose a snowball which nailed me in the back of the head! Being the mature adult that I am, I naturally threw down my bike and ran after the boys, pelting them with snowballs and thoroughly enjoying the excuse to engage in a good, old-fashioned snowball fight. After proving that I could defend myself, I hopped back aboard my bike and made it home.

The next morning, I realized that I couldn't find my ipod. I looked everywhere, but to no avail. I was reasonably certain that my previous night's exploits had jostled the ipod out of my jacket pocket, and my ipod was currently either buried beneath the snow, or being enjoyed by one of the teenage snowball-wielding miscreants.

Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised this morning when I so unexpectedly discovered that my ipod--chock full of "Sports Guy" and "This American Life" podcasts I haven't yet listened to-- had been in my vest pocket the entire time! That's a great way to start the day.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Last Few Trip Photos

Last few trip photos, then it's time to start blogging about present-time events. We are all gradually overcoming the jet lag phenomenon, some more successfully than others, and at least one of our two pieces of baggage has made it to our home thus far.

These next two pics were taken during our "day at the mall" out in the suburbs of Paris. A deal was struck: Nate would take care of Sophie while Claire & Laure went clothes shopping; in return, Nate got to see a movie--2.5 hours of pure, kid-free bliss in the form of a cheesy but watchable "Australia" movie starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman--while Claire took the kids.

We found some cotton candy--in French called "barbe a papa" (literally: "Dad's beard")--on sale for only one euro, which was impossible to pass up.

Sophie learns to use the force from this Yoda-inspired carousal car at the mall.

This weekend: the forecast calls for MORE SNOW.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

We're back

We're back.

A special thanks to Air France, first for losing our infant car seat on the initial leg of our trip; then, for returning home to Boston about 5 hours after scheduled, minus both of our pieces of luggage. Hopefully they will show up sometime today.

And a real thank you to our two kids who actually behaved themselves reasonably well on the flight back.

Check out Max's earliest efforts at smiling!
Sophie points out various metabolic pathways during a visit to Claire's lab in Paris.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Musee de la Histoire Naturelle

Since our flight back home is delayed :( I might as well post some blog pics while waiting and hoping that the delays do not escalate...

A google search for Parisian museums that we haven't yet been to, and which were open on Mondays, yielded a surprisingly limited list of options. We eed up going to the Musee de la Histoire Naturelle. It's actually a collection of museums; we had seen the Grande Galerie d'Evolution on our last trip, so this time we went to see the Galleries of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy. Very cool: here are some pictures.

The building is an old and impressive one right next door to the Jardin des Plantes, a large outdoor garden.
It snowed quite a bit (by Parisian standards) while we there, as attested to by this outdoor wooly mammoth sculpture.
You are greeted at the entrance to the museum by this bizarre yet captivating sculpture of an orangutang strangling a human.

Lots of skeletons.
The ultimate trophy collection.
Juvenile gorilla skeleton.
Impressively large whale skeletons.

Fish-heads, fish-heads, roly-poly fish-heads.
Wish us luck on our trip back home! This vacation has been sufficiently long that I'm anxious to get back to our normal, non-vacation lives if that makes any sense.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Friends of Sophie

Our last day of vacation is today...tomorrow we head back to Boston. Here are some photos of the friends Sophie made during our Paris visit.

Sophie and Anais eating brunch together at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter.
Enjoying an apertif with Uncle Thierry and Aunt Pascale.
Sophie & Leilie in Pere Noel gear.
Sophie chasing a random French kid around the playground at Eglise St. Germain-de-Pres.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

At The Beach

Here are some pictures at the beach at La Baule from last week--today was a Paris day, with pics to come later.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Beating Up Pere Noel

All kids love Santa Claus, right? Here is a video of Sophie beating up an inflatable Pere Noel (the French version of Santa) which suggests otherwise.

Also, for those of you who didn't get enough of my tanless body frolicking in the cold ocean, here and here are some French TV sites that caught it on film. The first one is better because it's right at the top of the broadcast.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A Few Pics for the Road

We are traveling back to Paris today to kick-off the tail-end of our French-Fried Vacation.

We're crossing our fingers for happy kids on the TGV (train) this morning.

Here's a few pics for the road:

Thursday, January 01, 2009

les Canards Givres

Following my long tradition of going swimming in weather that's altogether too cold (for example, click here), I couldn't pass up the chance to take a New Year's dip in the Atlantic Ocean with a group of individuals from La Baule, organized as part of this year's holiday activities. The water was a mere 5.5 degrees Centigrade, and the outside temperature just a tad over freezing. There were about 40 or so people who braved the frozen waters with myself. If my parents-in-law weren't already convinced of my insanity, they are now. Here are some pictures of this event.

The New Year's swim is sponsored by a group known as "Les Canards Givres"--literally "the Frosty Ducks".

Here's the "Before" picture--with Laure & Benedicte. You can see that many spectators turn out for the event, and in fact I even gave a brief interview with a local French radio station!

At 3:30pm there was a mad dash to the ocean.
Proof that I indeed participated. I lasted about 5 minutes only; the main issue for me was my toes getting so cold they started to hurt, then turn numb.
Claire was there with a towel to help dry me off upon my exit from the ocean--which was less traumatic than anticipated. My toes begin to regain feeling.
Here I am taking a victory lap through the downtown streets of La Baule.