Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 192 - Wedding

Thought of the day: It was a perfect day in Estes Park.  In the morning, we drove to Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked on a short trail to Bear Lake, which was still completely frozen and covered by snow at this time of the year.  And then we hiked on Lumpy Ridge trail in town. The first trail was surrounded by a forest and it was covered by snow and slippery.  It was even snowing when we did the hike.  The second trail was snow-free and dry and ran through some pretty interesting rock formations.  It was nice and sunny when we did that hike.   The two hikes couldn't be more different even though they were just within a short drive from each other.  We literally drove from one climate zone to another in a matter of minutes.  Jasmine and Lila were very excited by the adventure and they both enjoyed climbing up and down the rocks along the Lumpy Ridge Trail.  In the evening, we checked out Rock Inn Restaurant which is a steak house and a popular music venue in Estes Park.  The girls danced an evening away to the merry tunes played by a local musician.

Photo of the day:

A wedding party in Stanley Hotel where we are staying at.  Today must be an auspicious day to get married as we spotted at least 3 wedding parties in the hotel.  Other than weddings, we also counted a lot of elks in RMNP and in town, including a dozen or so munching on the grass right outside of our hotel room.  However, I took a lot more photos of wedding parties  than elks, so the elks would have to wait until our next trip to get on the blog!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 191 - Happy Music

Thought of the day: We're staying in Estes Park for the weekend.  It's much chillier here than in Boulder but it's good to do something different.  Jasmine loved the coziness of the hotel room and declared that she would not mind staying here forever.  I think that might be a little exaggerated and a spur of the moment declaration, but she is always the happiest when she gets to spend time with us.  It's yet another proof that kids, at least the young ones, crave for the quality time with parents more than anything else.  Watching movies or playing with new toys may provide them with temporary excitements, but there's nothing like the parents' unconditional love and undivided attention to make them genuinely happy.

Photo of the day:

Students of Kutandara Center performing African music on the Pearl St.  Today was the Colorado Children's Day in Boulder where there were fun activities for the kids and all events were free (even the balloon man refused to accept tips).  Looking at this photo reminded me just how warm it was a couple of hours ago!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 190 - Tackle

Thought of the day: Our neighborhood has now a photo club!  It's nice to be able to hop on the bike or walk to a photo club meeting in a neighbor's home.  In the meeting tonight, we showed some of our recent photos to each other and then spent the rest of the evening talking about some random things.  For those of us who do photography as a hobby, or maybe even as a profession, you know that it's a labor of love.  But unlike a "normal" group activity where you get constant feedback from each other,  it can be a lonesome pursuit.  You can be taking photos for years without knowing whether you are really making progress or not.  You can be sending albums to friends and family for years and getting little feedback other than an occasional "This is great!" which, unfortunately, doesn't tell you much or help you much.  I wonder if the feeling of loneliness is shared by individuals laboring in different areas of arts, for example, painting, writing, composing.  Other than the occasional recognitions you may receive when you are really good or get really lucky, you mostly labor in the dark driven by nothing more than the love of doing what you're doing.  In fact, it's probably true in any field that requires you to work on your own for a long stretch of time - astronomy, biology, basic science research, you name it.  The feeling of loneliness is pretty much inevitable and it may even be a necessity for us to develop into who we are.  However, we are primarily social beings and we need support from each other to break the monotony, and that's when something like a photo club comes into play.

Photo of the day:
Little kids tackling a soccer ball.  It's certainly more fun for kids to play with others than playing a ball on their own!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 189 - Tree and Bike

Thought of the day: Today I went out and shot some of my favorite flowering trees.  They didn't come out exactly the way I'd like, but at least it was a fun experience.  After all, what's a better way to spend a sunny day then spending it outdoors?

Photo of the day:

This is one of the flowering trees that I shot this morning along the Broadway bike path.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 188 - Girls

Thought of the day: I just watched the documentary "The Business of Being Born".  The movie explored the birthing process and how a natural process had been turned into a business and treated routinely as an ailment and emergency by medical professionals.  When I was still pregnant with Lila, I read the excellent book "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" which delivered similar messages.  The information provided by doctors and by nurses who taught childbirth classes in a hospital setting was often one-sided and incomplete and only helped perpetuate the myth and disinformation of the birthing process.  The other side of the story is told by Ina May's book, this documentary, midwives, doulas and women who have had the natural, or alternative as regarded by some, birth experiences.  Sadly and inexplicably, not every pregnant woman has access to all the information that she is entitled to when she needs to make the important decision of how and where to give birth.  As a result, it's more likely for her to end up in a hospital and for the doctors and nurses to impose their wills on her and take control of the birthing process to make it more lucrative, convenient, and lawsuit-free for them.  That would help explain the rise of cesarean rate, which is currently at an astounding rate of 1 out of every 3 births in this country.  This has reached the level of an epidemic.  Right around Lila's birth, I distributed Ina May's book through a bookstore and other entities to pregnant women because I felt compelled to share the information.  Apparently that activity had not created enough impact as the cesarean rate kept on rising!  And it's rising in many other countries too, especially in China, where the cesarean rate is at a whopping 46%.  As a civilization, we are getting too technologically advanced to respect our body and too incentive driven to remember our soul.  We see the consequence of that in every area of our lives and the unnatural birthing process is just one of them.  Will we reach a turning point and reverse course?  I hope we will, and will soon.

Photo of the day:

My girls lying on the floor exhausted after some fun play in the house.  I love them more than what can be expressed in words.  I hope they will grow up in a world that's healthier in many ways than the one we reside in right now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 187 - Lamp

Thought of the day: It was a fun day for play dates and spending time on the Pearl St.  Lila played "baby and mommy" games with me using some branches and small stones on a path.  Of course, I was the baby and Lila was the mommy.  Otherwise it would not have been nearly as much fun!

Photo of the day:
Glass lamps near Pearl st.  There surely are some fascinating objects in downtown and I seem to discover something new every time.  I was probably as excited finding these lamps as Lila discovering the "baby and mommy" game.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 186 - Girls

Thought of the day:  PBS Newshour is broadcasting a 6-part series called Autism Now reported by Robert MacNeil.  Robert came out of retirement to do the series because his grandson had autism so he had seen the ailment and the impact of it on the family first hand.  The story of his grandson was told in part-1 of the series and it was deeply touching. Autism is definitely on the rise.  It's now affecting 1 in every 110 children in America - that's a large number of kids every year - and it has been declared a national health emergency.  One part of the series explored the plausible causes of the rise of autism.  Only a small part of could be explained by a better detection and reporting of this disorder.  The main plausible cause for the rise lied in the toxicity of the environment - the 70,000 commonly used chemicals, some of which used directly on our bodies, could have an accumulative, unexpected effects on our health starting from the moment we were conceived, and in some cases long before that.  The long term effect of Agent Orange on Vietnamese kids is one dramatic example, but there could be many other not-so-obvious interactions between the environment and our body that we're not aware of.  One expert attributed autism to a genetic predisposition triggered by chemicals in our environment that broke down or overwhelmed our immune system.  The same thing could likely explain the rise of allergies, asthma, food sensitivities, multiple chemical sensitivities, infertility, cancer, and other ailments that we hear more and more of every day.  Our individual genetic make-up is playing a Russian roulette with the chemicals we are exposed to every day - it's scary to think about it this way but I don't see any positive way of describing the situation.  We can try our best to protect ourselves and our families and push through environmental regulations.  However, there's a lot that we don't have control of at this point in time, and the consequence is a human cost of development that is just impossible to bear.

Photo of the day:
Girls on the bike on Greenbriar.  Lila was napping on the bike seat.  The concern for our children can turn each one of us into an environmentalist like nothing else can.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 185 - Smiling Boy

Thought of the day: Mike's Camera hosted an event in Denver Zoo today with Canon and Nikon.  They provided many different cameras and lenses for people to try out for free.  I spent a couple of hours there trying out different lenses.  The event was really fun as you got to try out some exotic and not-so-exotic lenses on animals and visitors. 

Photo of the day:
I knew that it was going to be my favorite photo of the day right after I shot it.  I used a mid-range telephoto prime lens for this picture - this lens was absolutely amazing and I don't think I will be able to get a photo like this with my current lens(es).  Time for an upgrade?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 184 - Alfafa's

Thought of the day: Alfafa's is back in Boulder!  Alfafa's started in 1983 as the trendsetter for natural food supermarkets at that time.  In 1996, it was acquired by Boulder's Wild Oats which was subsequently acquired by Wholefoods in 2007.  Luckily, FTC required Wholefoods to sell some of its stores for monopoly concerns and Alfafa's former location was on the chopping board.  One of the founders of Alfafa's bought it to bring back the original store.  Today was the Earth Day and Alfafa's official opening day and what an opening day it was!  The store was crowded throughout the day.  We spent an entire morning there with a couple of friends and had lunch in its cafe.  Thankfully, the new, and also the original, owner of Alfafa's seems to really care about healthy food and environment instead of just paying lip service to both and looking at the natural food market as a cash cow.  The store really lives up to his vision.  A lot of the food comes from Colorado, there are no individually wrapped fruits (how silly that is but many stores do it), the salad bar offers all organic vegetables, and 75% of the bulk food section is organic according to the store.  On top of that, the price is pretty reasonable.  I have had gripes about Wholefoods for a long time but still had to cave in once in a while because Wholefoods offered a lot more products than others.  Well, not any more!  I am glad that Boulder finally has a natural food supermarket that's both well-stocked and well-priced, and more importantly, one that seems to genuinely care about healthy food and the environment.  I hope Boulder shoppers are sophisticated enough to recognize that and will allow Alfafa to succeed and become the trendsetter again and put conscience back into the natural grocery market.

Photo of the day:
Life music entertainment in Alfafa's cafe in its opening day.  Izzy danced to the music with her mom.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 183 - Spring

Thought of the day:  It was a beautiful day to enjoy the spring with two of my dearest friends.  It was rainy in the early morning and windy at night, but the weather during the day was just perfect.  Because of the rain, the Flatirons were misty in the morning, and the air was clear, the grass was green and the spring flowers were in vivid display everywhere.  But my friend put it well: a beautiful landscape without people or other living creatures in it would be lacking a soul.  In the same way, a life without friends would be lacking and incomplete as well.  If we make each other's lives more fulfilled and interesting, we would have accomplished an important part of our mission on earth.

Photo of the day :
A empty path waiting for people to step on.  I think the expectation itself is giving the scenery a soul.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 182 - Lila

Thought of the day: This morning I read a political column by Paul Krugman recently published on NY Times.  It's titled "Let's Not Be Civil" in which he wrote about the ideological differences between the two parties as manifested by their different proposals for deficit reduction.  He asserted that the differences were so stark that it's hopeless to try to reconcile the proposals through civil discussions and the only hope of reconciliation lied in the upcoming election in 2012.  He made an interesting observation that "...the two parties don’t just live in different moral universes, they also live in different intellectual universes".  How true!  In the past few years, I have found myself to be in agreement with almost everything one party represents and in disagreement (sometimes in disgust) with almost everything the other party represents.  That includes everything from the role of the government, universal health care, the distribution of wealth, gun control to environmental policies, abortion and gay rights.  I think this is not a healthy situation.  It can be partly attributed to the fact that the US Congress is getting increasingly polarized.  Moderates have been gradually replaced by those closer to their ideological homes and that's especially true for the republican party.  Perhaps I am also, alas, getting more narrow-minded.  It's easy to happen as, over time, you tend to gravitate towards like-minded friends, read books and articles by like-minded authors and watch programs narrated by like-minded reporters.  Perhaps I should try to expand my horizon and reach deeper into "the other side" with more sincerity and open-mindedness.  However, as long as my moral values and the facts don't change, I doubt I will change many of my opinions as a result.  But perhaps I will gain a better understanding of where the other opinions come from and why some genuine and intelligent people would embrace a world view that is so completely different from mine.

Photo of the day:
Lila standing outside of the Med (nick name for Mediterranean Restaurant) in downtown Boulder. This place has been voted  as the best restaurant for tapas year after year and it's easy to see why. Food unites people like nothing else. All the political differences dissipates in the air after a good glass of margarita!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 181 - Dessert

Thought of the day: Beautiful day for meeting people, having lunch in downtown and then taking a stroll on Pearl st.  I'm feeling lucky!

Photo of the day:

Dessert at Q's - it tasted as good as it looked.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 180 - Jayden

Thought of the day: It has been difficult to put Lila down for an afternoon nap lately.  On some days she didn't need a nap, but on the days when she really needed one she often refused to nap anyway and ended up with a dinner time meltdown.  Today I found a solution which may not be recommended by a pediatrician but it worked out well, at least for one day.  I took her on a bike ride around nap time and she fell into sleep on the way.  I parked the bike securely and made her more comfortable by lowering the bike seat.  She continued napping on the bike for another hour or so before waking up happy.  So this might just be the solution: take her on a bike ride and let her decide whether to fall into sleep or not.  That way I will get in some exercise and she will get some outdoor air, do a little sightseeing, and maybe even get in some sleep once in a while.  Difficult time calls for desperate measures and this is one that I am willing, or maybe even happy, to try.

Photo of the day:
Little boy Jayden in Zhou Mama's restaurant.  He was not tall enough for the table and his chin barely rose above it.  I don't know if he was amused by the sitting situation but it was really cute to watch. Lucky for his mom, he is still too little to let go of the precious daily nap.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 179 - Peking Acrobats

Thought of the day: This afternoon we attended the Peking Acrobats show.  Jasmine had just participated in a circus show in her school and was very excited to see the stunts performed by the acrobats.  Lila was so thrilled with all the music and actions on stage that she could hardly stay on her seat.  How did these acrobats manage to reach this level of skills and artistry?  Talent, for sure, and lots and lots and lots of practice.  When I watch a show like this or listen to a performance by an orchestra, I am always amazed by the depth of the human possibility and inspired by the people who have mastered the unthinkable.  With all the ugliness and darkness in this world, we are nevertheless a very unique and soulful specie that can do beautiful things and create immortal art and we can all be proud of that.

Photo of the day:
A Peking Acrobat stacking up more and more chairs in a breathtaking performance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 178 - Baby Zoe

Thought of the day: We attended a kid's birthday party in a park today.  It was a beautiful day to have an outdoor party.  Adults talked while the kids played and everybody had a blast.  The only problem was that the wind made it challenging to light the birthday candles!  A birthday party provides a nice opportunity for the parents to socialize, especially since the same group of parents tend to meet in several birthday parties in a year and sometimes year after year.  Unfortunately as the kids get older, these parties  turn more and more into kids only parties and most parents would just drop off the kids and come back when the party is almost over.  It's a pity when a party morphs from a social event into a free day care.  If you have been to a packaged birthday party, you'll find that the hosting facility doesn't usually try very hard to accommodate the adults - oftentimes the parents are just expected to stand around when the kids sit down to have cake and such.  It often feels awkward to be there as an adult and maybe that's why most parents decide not to stay.  I wonder if this is a common way of doing things in all cultures or if it's just another symptom of our kid-centric society.

Photo of the day:

Meet baby Zoe - this birthday party gave us the opportunity to finally meet her.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 177 - Izzy

Thought of the day:  Borders Bookstore on 29th St. Mall is closing.  It's one of the 200 stores that are closing after Borders' bankruptcy filing.  We went in the store today to take a last look and it was a sad scene - only very few books were left on the shelves as most of them had been liquidated or perhaps shipped away during the past two months.  We visited the store many times in the past and I always made a point of buying something before I left.  A bookstore is a bookstore, whether it's in a chain or not, and it's worthy of our support.  However, I must admit that I am a lot less attached to it as I am to my local bookstore.  It would be a really sad day if something would happen to the local bookstore.  In the era of Amazon and e-books, it's challenging for any bookstore to stay in business.  A bookstore has to be creative, embrace the local population and somehow keep them coming back often.  I think a local, independent store is much better positioned for doing that than a national/international chain.  Our local store is doing pretty well and hopefully it will remain so in the foreseeable future and continue to contribute to the cultural vibrance of Boulder.

Photo of the day:
Lila had a play date with Izzy before heading to Borders with me and saying good-bye to a store that she had visited so many times in the past.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 176 - Photo Exhibition

Thought of the day: Tonight I attended an interesting talk by Scott Carlin about his night time photography.  He used a tripod for a long exposure and while the shutter was open, he walked around and "painted" selected surfaces and objects with a flash light so they would be illuminated in the image in a way that he envisioned.  The result was some pretty striking images that I had never seen before.  At the talk, I met a woman who took self-portraits with her built-in laptop camera and then manipulated them with various cartoon like effects.  She came up with some pretty surreal images - some of them might be a little disturbing but they were in general pretty unusual and interesting.  People can be so incredibly creative.  A million people can have a million different ways of perceiving the world and a million different ways of expressing themselves.  It's constantly manifested in photography, arts, technology, and daily living.  I think each one of us is blessed with a unique vision and voice that can be nurtured when we're young; and when we are older and more capable, as long as we have the courage and conviction to stick to them, we may leave a unique footprint on the earth and enrich the lives of many others.  Indeed, much in the same way that the diversity of genes is essential to the survival of species, our individuality is essential to our collective survival. 

Photo of the day:
Today I went to Mia's 39+ photo exhibit at CU's UMC Gallery.  Her 39+ blog inspired my blog.  Mia's photos have a sense of daily progression - every day's image relates to previous day's image either conceptually or visually.  I'm  more focused within the context of a day as I try to inject a daily thought  that can be connected to the  image one way or the other.  I think we both found a way that worked for us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 175 - Books

Thought of the day: It's hard to shake off that caffeine addiction.  I felt dull and sluggish all day until taking in two cups of Chai at dinner time in the Indian restaurant.  The generously caffeinated Chai had the effect of instantly bringing me back to life.  And that's exactly why I want to stay away from caffeine.  I don't like the fact that my energy and mood depend on a substance and take a mandatory roller coaster ride every day, even if the substance is socially acceptable and perhaps even encouraged.  But it's been proven a difficult habit to get rid off, especially during cold and overcast days like this.  I'm missing the sunlight and the exercise, both of which can serve as an energy booster and mood modulator for me when my body is screaming for caffeine.  Perhaps I should get back in the gym in a day like this to set me on the right course again.

Photo of the day:

Our local library branch just put out some books for the upcoming Earth Day.  I grabbed a pile so everybody would have something interesting to read.  Getting books is another harmless way to boost my energy level. We're lucky to have a few libraries and bookstores to get books from, in addition to Amazon, and receive an instant gratification much like receiving an instant shot of espresso, but in a much more healthy way.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 174 - Colorful Beads

Thought of the day: Tonight Jasmine played hide-and-seek with me.  She has always enjoyed this game from as far as I can remember.  I wonder what makes kids enjoy this simple game so much.  Perhaps it feels good to be searched for and to be at the center of attention.  Perhaps the excitement of being found is greater than the excitement of being able to stay out of sight.  Or perhaps it's just fun because it's a game, no other reasons needed.

Photo of the day:

Beads hanging inside a window.  Someone must have had fun making those!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 173 - Tea and Sandbox

Thought of the day: It was a sunny and beautiful day.  I was out and about with Lila on the bike for much of the day and felt incredibly lucky to be able to do just that.  On the way I had been thinking why biking made people happy as I saw a lot of smiling bikers but not too many smiling drivers.  The hormonal impact of sunlight and physical exercise on our mood can definitely be a factor.  Also, being out in the open air gives you a feeling of connectedness to the universe and to other creatures that you will not otherwise experience boxed inside a car.  In addition, biking gives you more freedom and flexibility - you can "park" pretty much anywhere and don't need to worry about feeding the meters - and as a result I often end up stopping by more places than I have originally planned.  All of these contribute to a good mood that can be positively reinforced through interactions with other people as you will inevitably carry your good mood into the interactions and thus affect a more positive and happier outcome.  Yes, I do believe that happiness begets happiness and it's easy to get it all started by simply getting on a bike.

Photo of the day:
We stopped by Trident Cafe where Lila played with a few other kids in the sandbox, while I got to relax and did a bit of reading in the company of a pot of green tea.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 172 - Hair Dressing

Thought of the day: My todo list is getting longer, books are piling up...  I need more time in a day than a day gives.  On one hand, I am already looking forward to my birthday so I will be done with my project and get on with life.  On the other hand, I know I will look back at this period of life and be glad that I have done it.  Throughout my life, I have had a few intense stretches of time, some short, some long, when I focused on one special thing.  Those were the days when I felt a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement and personal growth.  Those were unforgettable days.  I hope it will be the same for this year.  At the end, it will all be worth it.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine dressing up Lila's hair.  Today she dressed Lila up in the same clothes, same hairpin, and now the same ponytails as herself.  Lila is her fun "project", at least for a day!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 171 - Daisy

Thought of the day: Our neighborhood has an annual progressive dinner event which we have joined for a few times.  Tonight we just had this year's progressive dinner.  The appetizer course was hosted in our home, just like last year, where everybody met for the appetizer before heading off to different homes for the next courses.  After having soup, salad and main entree in three different homes, everybody met again for dessert in another neighbor's home and concluded the evening.  It is a fun tradition which we always enjoy when we are able to participate.  It's a good opportunity to meet people, some of whom we will otherwise not have a chance to meet even though we all live in the same neighborhood.  One thing I observed tonight was that I was the only non-white person in the party - a situation that I had grown so used to in Boulder that I only realized it after the party was over.  There were a few other immigrant families present but they were all from Europe.  Come to think of it, I have only met a single non-white person in the past years of progressive dinners.  It was an Asian woman who became a friend of mine but she moved away two years ago.  Boulder is not a very diverse city, to say the least.  It was so ten years ago and, according to the latest census, it was still so today, despite of the national and state-wide trend of getting more diverse.  Another thing I observed tonight was that there were quite a few overachievers in the neighborhood, and some were more pleasant to talk to than others.  I think what makes a difference is the degree of humility.  A humble overachiever can be really interesting to talk to as you can have a two-way conversation where you get to hear some interesting stories and you get to share some of your own lowly thoughts too.  A not-so-humble overachiever can be self-centered, overbearing and difficult to communicate with.  I suppose this can happen no matter you overachieve or not, but it does demonstrate that being successful doesn't make you a wise person.  It takes a wise person to remain humble and it takes a humble person to be compassionate.  I wonder if this contributes to the curious statistics that while average Boulder residents make more money than average Colorado residents, we are less generous in giving.  I suspect this phenomenon will get worse before it gets better because the housing is Boulder is not getting more affordable comparing to the rest of the state and we may end up attracting even more overachievers to the city in the foreseeable future.

Photo of the day:
One of the daisies we used to decorate the tables for the progressive dinner.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 170 - Lila

Thought of the day: This morning I visited Jasmine's old preschool with Lila.  Jasmine was not much older than Lila when she started there and people said that Lila looked just like her at that age.  I got pretty emotional seeing the once familiar classrooms, talking to some of the old teachers and watching Lila doing the same activity at the same spot as Jasmine did a couple of years ago.  I didn't expect to get emotional as I drove past the school every day, but the link between memory and emotion could be surprisingly strong and sometimes even small things could have an overpowering effect on you when you were least expecting it.

Photo of the day:
Lila having fun playing on Pearl St.  Fallen rails can sometimes turn into a fun playing platform.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 169 - CWA

Thought of the day: This morning I took a nice hike in the mountains.  Good conversation, nice weather, and the beautiful view of a misty Flatirons made it a memorable morning.  I was reminded once again of the beauty of the nature all around us and our duty to pass it on, undiminished, to the future generations.

Photo of the day:
Larry Schweiger of National Wildlife Federation in a CWA discussion titled "Climate Change: Past the Point of No Return".  The catchy and alarming title was a play on words and the discussion was not meant to discourage concerned citizens from making a difference.  In fact, quite to the contrary, speakers on the panel encouraged people to do more but do it with more urgency as we are running against time and it's a race that we can not lose.  I didn't learn many new things from this discussion but I was very encouraged by the large crowd it drew - it was standing room only with a line waiting outside the door.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 168 - Lights

Thought of the day: The annual Conference on World Affairs is taking place at CU this week.  CWA started in 1948 and had attracted a wide variety of experts in different fields to talk freely about pretty much anything under the sun.  This morning I attended a discussion called "Artists and Scientists in Pursuit of Light" with two artist friends.  The panel included Danielle Feinberg who is a director of photography at Pixar and did the light-up of Wall-E.  She talked about the lighting for a few Pixar movies which made me want to watch them all over again as her talk gave me a new perspective in animations and a new appreciation for the making of them.  Another panelist was Jeff Lieberman who is the host of Time Warp on Discovery Channel.  His talk began with the origin of the universe and ended with the future of human consciousness.  So as you can imagine, his talk jumped all over the place from science to human emotions to mythology.  It was unusual and yet he made it all seem coherent.  I could tell that the audience was quite captivated by him and his topics as most of the followup questions were directed to him.  The third panelist was a physicist and science writer. He made some interesting observations on how science eventually brought many sci-fi dreams into reality.  And the fourth panelist was a storyteller.  Her sense of humor and keen observations of human nature added a nice touch to an otherwise quite serious discussion.  All in all, I found the whole session to be scintillating and mind-opening.  To say the least, any discussion that would make me go online afterwards and research for a dozen of new books to read is definitely not a waste of time.

Photo of the day:
Lights on Pearl St.  Danielle said that one of the joys of photography is to make the most mundane objects look special.  How true! Similarly, I think one of the joys of life is to make the most routine days feel special.  To make an object special, the key is in the light.  And to make a day special, the key is in the mind.  Stimulating thoughts can enlighten a day just like dancing lights can bring an object to life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 167 - Zhou Mama

Thought of the day: If it's hard to find a food place that serves healthy or authentic Chinese food, it's nearly impossible to find one that serves healthy and authentic Chinese food.  Luckily, I think I have just found one right here in downtown Boulder, thanks to the recommendation of a friend.  The menu is very small and you order from the counter, but who cares if everything tastes soooo good.  It's yet another proof that freshly prepared natural food tastes naturally good, without the assistance of dubious flavor enhancers.  I know that it makes a world of difference in taste when it comes to something as simple as a hot oatmeal.  But, to my surprise, only a handful of restaurants in Boulder offer organic oatmeals for breakfast.  How long will it take for restaurants to offer it as a standard?  How long will it take for people to demand for healthy food instead of just putting up with whatever is being used in the restaurant kitchens?  Hopefully it won't take very long.  As far as I can see, the tide is going in the right direction.  Perhaps one day I will not need to be so excited when I find a place like Zhou Mama, as a healthy food place will be the norm rather than an exception.

Photo of the day:
Zhou Mama talking to a guest.  Another reason I liked this place was that it had one of my favorite poems on the wall (it's to her right).  I will have lunch here pretty much all week this week.  My goal is to try out all the dishes by the end of the week - not a lofty goal, but it's a yummy one for sure!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 166 - Waiting

Thought of the day:  Today I had a cute conversation with Lila on the way to meet her little friend.  The conversation was carried out in a mixture of Mandarin and English in the car:

  "Where is Izzy's dad?"
  "He is out working."
  "Why is my dad not out working?"
  "Because he works from home."
  "I like my dad to go out working too."
  "But why?"
  "So that I can wait for him to come home every day!"

It would be priceless to see all the things that are going on in her mind.  Sometimes I can't help but feel that she is only letting out the tiniest bit of it, and that's already enough to surprise me and make me smile.

Photo of the day:

Waiting for daddy to come home.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 165 - Loveland

Thought of the day: We spent the day skiing at Loveland with a visiting friend.  It was windy and snowy most of the time but there was also some fresh powder to be found with very few skiers to share with.  Lila put on real skis and boots and had a few good runs down a tiny slope.  She didn't seem to mind the blizzard condition a bit until later in the afternoon when she had a melt-down of sorts.  So I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the warm and cozy cafeteria with her napping in my arms and watching the skiers racing down the slopes.  I was envious of them and yet, at the same time, I felt quite at peace.

Photo of the day:
Blizzard at Loveland Ski area. Cell phone photo (my hands were freezing for taking this photo!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 164 - Wild Hair

Thought of the day: Today I took pictures inside a school building for a show.  Many of the pictures didn't come out well.  I always find it challenging to take pictures of a group of moving people inside a building.  Either the colors aren't quite right - which is no longer a big issue as I take raw photos, or the photos aren't quite sharp as I have to expose for too long to let in enough light.  There are things that can be done in such situations, but not without compromises.  Perhaps a better camera, lens and flash will also help, but that will force me to carry more weight which I am not looking forward to.  If I were a professional doing this for a living, I would probably put up with the extra burdens.  But right now, I am trying to keep the weight on my back as light as possible.  The consequence of my simple setup is that now I have a lot more confidence taking outdoor pictures, where there's an abundance of light to play with, than taking poorly-lit indoor pictures.

Photo of the day:
The wind made Lila's hair dance - yes, it was going to be another wild hair day!  This photo was taken outdoors where the light was abundant.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 163 - Hammock

Thought of the day: Tonight I found more evidence that Jasmine had a pretty good taste in arts and music.  I don't think my taste was nearly as sophisticated as hers at this age.  Of course, she is exposed to a lot more arts.  It's an important part of her daily life.  She loves making arts at home and her school is also putting a lot of emphasis on it.  Come to think of it, my kindergarten and elementary school education was vastly different from hers.  It was all about academics - in a way, it was geared towards making engineers and scientists, but it limited the development of kids who were more artistically inspired.  My sister, brother, and I had very different interests but we all went on to major in science and engineering in college.  If the education system were different, the paths of our lives could have been very different from the ones we are on right now, for better or worse.  I am glad that Jasmine would not have to face similar artificial barriers so that she can develop her potential in whatever field that suits her the best.

Photo of the day:
It was sunny and warm in the afternoon - time to take out the hammock and enjoy some fun time in the sun!