You know you are in Tucson when

You see people start to wear fleece jackets as soon as the temperature drops below 90F.

No kidding.

The best and the worst of times

Not surprisingly, I find myself at the most exciting (it's a new field with so many challenging questions yet to be asked/answered!) AND the most frustrating (so what the hell am I doing exactly?) stage of a research project one month into my new postdoc position. One minute I thought that I know exactly what I am doing (and how important/innovative my research project is), the next minute one (or several) of the followings happens:

1. Yes, it is a good idea indeed. Unfortunately someone else has written a nice paper about it already.

2. Theoretically it is a good idea. Unfortunately the idea involves too many technical complications and does not appear to be solvable now.

3. Maybe it is doable (and somewhat important). However, the question is just not interesting enough for me to keep working on it.

4. I am an idiot and have not idea what I am doing.

All these feelings are quite familiar actually. After all, I have experienced these several times in all the long years that I spent in the graduate school. One thing the is notably different this time is that I seem to be getting better at the construction and destruction of research ideas. Things just happen at a much faster pace compare to only a year or two ago. Looks like years of training is starting to pay off now.


Bad weathers bring out the worst of drivers

This doesn't happen very often, but when it rains people in Tucson drive like they are ready to become serial killers. Similarly, when it snows in Athens people drive like they are ready to commit a suicide (in Hollywood style with a big bang).

Honestly, these people should have been shipped to Taipei, where the crazy taxi drivers can give them a lesson or two.


OMG, there a 1st grader in my home!

Alyssa and Vivian both started their schools today. And with that, Alyssa becomes a 1st grader!

This is really amazing. Fred happened to email me yesterday and we chatted a bit about our life back in Iowa. It feels like Alyssa was born only last week or so and yet she is such a big girl now and ready to take on the world all by herself. I guess this warrants a big celebration but we are just too tired for anything. Hopefully we can arrange something for the coming weekend.


Olivia got a new house

Olivia (Alyssa came up with this name), the baby finch that Ann brought back about 2 weeks ago, finally learned to fly. While I'm happy about the fact that Ann's rescue effects are working, this does create some headaches for me.

Eventually we want her to be a free bird again but apparently she is not ready yet. I certainly don't want to push her out and see a premature death. That said, having a finch flying around in the house is just beyond my comfort zone. I know the easy solution is to put her in a cage but I worry that will have some negative effects for her future release. Today I finally broke down and bought a cage for her. As sweet as she is, insisting on standing on my mouse/keyboard when I write my blog is just over the line.


2 down, 18 more to go

Alyssa finally lost her second baby tooth today.

We have been waiting for quite some time for this one. The new tooth popped out behind the old one when we were still in Athens. Every week we think the old one will fall out, but somehow it managed to just hang in there. Although the dentist said that there is nothing to worry about, we got pretty anxious after 3 months. Fortunately it came out without an additional trip to the dentist.


My geeky pen

I am running the danger of revealing my geeky side with this one. Ever since I learned that the Sheaffer Snorkels are the most mechanically complex fountain pens ever made I know I have to add one to my collection. However, acquiring a vintage pen is never a straightforward process, even for a model that is as abundant as the Snorkels. There are some many variations in color, nib, condition, and price. It was very hard to know which is "The One".

Finally all the stars lined up last week and I got one from a fellow FPNer. This one, a black Statesman, is distinctly Sheaffer. Even before you touch the pen, the little white dot on the cap is an unmistakable clue that this is a Sheaffer pen. As soon as you uncap the pen, the conical Triumph nib made of the shiny PdAg alloy is the second Seaffer signature. And then, with a little twist of the blind cap, the funny little tube extends out of the feed and identifies itself as the most geeky pen ever.

The filling mechanism of this pen is quite fun to play with. The one I got has been recently restored and can be used as a water gun, which makes it even more fun. I am so happy with this new toy.


My complete Aurora ink collection

I got a bottle of Aurora Black today. Since I already have a bottle of Aurora Blue, this COMPLETES the whole collection! (Try that with Noodler's, I guess it'll be pretty hard just to KNOW what colors have been made)

All jokes aside, I find Aurora inks are really great. The black one is simply a deep/dark black without hint of any other color. The blue is a vibrant and saturated color that is just right (not too bright and not too dark). Moreover, the flow is so good that they make my pens write smoother.


Super productive

It's not even a month yet since I started my post-doc at UofA, and we already submitted a review paper. I feel really good about me and my job. :)


Permission to shake your butt

We picked up a huge watermelon today when we go grocery shopping. After I set it down on the kitchen floor, David proceeded to sit on it and used it as a rocking chair. When he noticed that we are watching him, he gave us one of his silly smiles, and asked "Wiggle 一下可以嗎?" (translation: can I wiggle a bit on it?)


One more mouth to feed

Ann went out to shop for new curtains today, but instead of curtains, she brought back a baby finch!

I wonder what was wrong with the birds in Tucson, they seem to be dropping their babies left and right. This is the 3rd incidents over the last few weeks. The first two were from the dove family that lives in our front porch. Both times the babies stayed inside the house for a couple days and we released them after they learned to fly. This one looks quite young and may take some more time before it is ready to go.

Needless to say, kids are all very excited to have another baby bird in the house.

Getting back in shape

I finally started to get some of my muscles back after two weeks into my bike commute. It feels really good with the wind in my ears when I am able to ride fast. Also the heat seems to be more tolerable, although I probably still need to wait a couple months before it really cools down.

BTW, I still don't buy the "dry heat is not so bad" crap. Dry or not, it is really HOT when the temperature is over 105-degree F. People saying this don't seem to realized that places with high humidity simply don't get this hot.

Anyway, I'm enjoying biking to work more or more. In the morning it's tougher because I have to spend sometime to cool down and dry myself after getting to my office. In the evening it is much more enjoyable because I can use this time to make the work-to-home transition and don't have to worry about being late. I'm going slow enough that I can have time to think about all kinds of things. I don't have to think about my work (well, at least not all the time) and don't have to worry about the three monkeys hanging on me either. Now if I can find a speech-to-text thing to mount on my handle bar, I probably can blog like crazy.