Inside 'Three Gems, 2005' by James Turrell @ the DeYoung Museum

Inside 'Three Gems, 2005' by James Turrell @ the DeYoung Museum

Two Dots -- I am completely addicted to this puzzle game on my iPhone. I honestly don't know whether to tell you to clear your schedule and start playing, or run screaming for the hills. The game is free, but there are in-app purchases that can help you through frustrating levels...thus, I have spent more money on this game than I care to admit to anyone. The sound and graphics are great, too.

Humans of New York -- A collection of real stories from real people seen on the streets of New York. If you've never looked at HONY, as it's known, you'll end up binging on it for a couple of hours. The stories can be funny, heartbreaking, and unbelievable. I very highly recommend scrolling through the archives to August/September when the photographer went on a trip with the United Nations.

Making Wax Food (via Colossal) -- I appreciate restaurant's fake window food a lot more now. What a strange and specialized craft. Fast forward the video to 3:31 for the magic cabbage. 



Book Report: Recent Reads

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. A page-turning, he said/she said tale of a wife gone missing. I might be the last person to have read this book...but just in case someone else out there hasn't read it, I'm not going to say much more. I enjoyed the page-turning quality of it, but I might have known too much about the plot to have been dazzled. I'll probably watch the movie when it is online, though. Ben Affleck is  perfect casting.

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is a story of a dystopian future, one that could be even more relevant today than when it was published in the conservative 1980s. It's a chilling story of religious extremism and the oppression and exploitation of women.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. This is a very good book which novelizes the lives of two female fossil hunters living on the coast of England in the 1800s when paleontology was really just beginning. The story is enriched by talk of gender, science, and religion without getting too heavy and only a tiny bit soap-opera-y.

National Geographic. I got hooked on the @natgeo Instagram feed and had to get a full issue after seeing great photos and sneak peeks at articles. I read the issue cover to cover and got another the next month. And again today. When is the last time you looked at one?

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. After nearly 9 years in "The City" I though it was time to read this book, especially since it is the 2014 choice for the San Francisco Public Library One City One Book program. It originally appeared as a serial in the newspaper in the late 70's, so the chapters are short and the story feels a little choppy, but you definitely want to know what happens next. It's kind of amazing how much San Francisco hasn't changed at it's core. I'll eventually read the sequel.

I'm currently reading a non-fiction selection: "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" What have you read lately? 

I link to Green Apple Books because they are my fave local bookstore...the only kickbacks I get from them are when they give me store credit for used books!

Outdoor Women...and girls!

Last fall I read a post on Not Martha about her participation in the Washington Outdoor Women annual Weekend Workshop and immediately signed up for the WOW mailing list. Awesome outdoorsy classes in a beautiful place with a group of interesting ladies...in my head, I was already planning my trip there for 2014. Last week I got a note in my inbox that registration for this year's weekend workshop was open...with a twist. To attend the WOW workshop this year you must bring along a young girl! If my daughter or any kid I knew was the right age (9-12 years old) we'd be there in a heartbeat, signed up for classes about navigation, rope-making, or using wild plants. Oh well...I think it sounds like a lot of fun so I wanted to pass the word along...check out the Washington Outdoor Women website and the weekend workshop brochure. I'm pretty sure anyone from anywhere can attend...although space is limited. Anyone know of similar programs offered elsewhere? 

Diatoms Floating in the Interwebs

Rarely I mention that I work in the geology department of the California Academy of Sciences. In most museums these days there's a push to digitize the collections...photograph and database all the specimens for modern record keeping and to provide global access to holdings (among other reasons). One of my main tasks at my day job is to photograph specimens within the Geology Collections (Thanks, Scott Mansfield, for mentoring my photographic efforts). Awhile back I photographed some interesting microscope slides. These slides contain arrangements of microscopic algae called diatoms. The arrangements are generally meant more for beauty & novelty than for research (though arrangements sometimes show all the species found in one location, which could potentially be useful). I posted the pictures on Flickr as usual and they've...well, they've gone viral. This week I was surprised to open up my feedly reader and see the pictures posted on one of my favorite blogs, Colossal. Woah. I've had inquiries about prints...we're looking into logistic and copyright issues...stay tuned!

UPDATE: Prints can now be ordered. Send me your email and I'll send you an order form.

photo 101

This post was originally published on Photogwife in July 2011


After being around photographers for almost 10 years and having a photo-heavy job myself for almost 3 years the technical details of taking a photograph are finally starting to sink in...but you can bet that I'll still be consulting this beautiful cheat sheet created by Miguel Gantioqui.  Do you have someone in your life whose eyes glaze over when you start talking f-stops and depth of field? Show them this!

book report [Packing for Mars]


Packing for Mars, the 2011 San Francisco Public Library One City One Book choice.


It was funny and interesting and quick to read.  It discussed all the details to consider if you send humans into space...not so much the technical details, but the little details related to psychology, physiology, gravity, food, waste, and hygiene. Mary Roach interviews people & takes experiences from NASA and other space programs around the world.  Mars seems to be the next far off destination. If people do go to Mars, then we'll have to take what we've learned in the past 50 years of the 'Space Race' and multiply it b a thousand.  The logistics of life in space are mind-boggling and not always great for publicity.  This book is great for anyone who's casually wondered about being in outer space...for people like my husband who have all the Gemini and Apollo Space missions memorized, this book kind of takes the 'right' out of The Right Stuff.  The biggest lesson here? Having no gravity is kind of a big deal (duh!). Gravity helps your bones stay strong, makes fuses work properly, and helps a certain bodily function more than you realize.  Fun read! Go check it out...

[FYI, I link to Green Apple Books in San Francisco and/or Powell's in Portland because they are my favorite bookstores...local, independent, and awesome. They have no idea who I am, nor do they  give me anything for linking to them. Where you buy your books is your business. I also advocate the public library [and the library didn't waive any fines or give me anything to say that]

museum love [computer history museum]

MUSEUM:Computer History Museum
WHERE:Mountain View, California
EXHIBITS:The main exhibit hall is called Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.  The artifacts and information are more or less laid out chronologically, starting with the abacus and slide rule.
ALSO SAW:Steve Wozniak's Apple I and a WWII Enigma Machine. We also played Pong.
CAFE:yes (but we got a sandwich nearby before we went in)
SHOP:t-shirts, books, gadgety things, baskets made of telephone wire
NOTES:Holy shmoly...a lot of information to process, but so fascinating...I admit I felt a little really mentally overwhelmed, but maybe it was a mistake to try to cram it all into one afternoon. I really, really liked all the things I saw and tried to learn. There's a lot of cool stuff from a design standpoint, too. See more HERE.

museum love [high desert museum]

MUSEUM: High Desert Museum
WHERE:just outside Bend, Oregon
SPECIAL EXHIBIT: The Art of Exploration
ALSO SEEN: incredibly detailed dioramas, beautiful embroidery, desert tortoises, birds of prey
CAFE: yes (but we just grabbed a juice out of a vending machine)
SHOP: lots of knick-knacks, not enough books
NOTES: a lot of information, artifacts, and creatures are presented, but in a way that is accessible to all different attention spans and interests; the special exhibit was a really lovely surprise



On the last night of our roadtrip we camped at Lava Beds National Monument.  The sunrise over the desert was lovely and Scott and I went for a walk (he did a little photog-ing) and I decided to do an informal survey of the plant life.  Juniper, pine, two kinds of sage, paintbrush, misteltoe...I haven't identified all of them, but I'm fascinated at the diversity casually found in just one little area. The desert is magical.

mission blue butterfly

Last week Scott and I did a quick hunt in the Marin Headlands for the rare (endangered!) Mission Blue Butterfly. He had gotten the scoop on this little insect a few days earlier on a ranger led walk and I wanted to see one, too! 

The Mission Blue Butterfly only lives in a few places in the Bay Area, and was one of the first insects included on the Endangered Species List, largely due to loss of habitat.  While the adult butterflies munch on nectar from many flowers, this butterfly species relies on lupine plants & flowers as food for the caterpillars and a place to lay eggs...no lupine, no Mission Blue Butterfly.

It was pretty windy the day we went out.  We saw a few other species of butterflies, lots of wildflowers, and even some bluebirds, but had just about given up on the Mission Blue when we had a possible sighting on the side of the trail...You must be careful though, because the Mission Blue Butterfly has a few look-a-likes.  To be sure you've spotted a Mission Blue Butterfly you must check the underside of the wings...if you see TWO rows of black spots, and the black spots have a white ring around them, THAT is a Mission Blue Butterfly.


To learn more about the Mission Blue Butterfly start HERE!


We rarely venture across the Bay, but we felt like an outing on Saturday so we headed for the hills above Oakland to explore a hidden gem for the curious...the Chabot Space & Science Center


Space is fascinating, don't you think? Chabot has two planetariums, three telescopes, and lots of space & science exhibits. We were worried it was going to be geared too much toward kids, but we really enojoyed our afternoon there. We were able to look at Venus through 'Leah,' Chabot's oldest and first telescope:


We also saw the sun through a special telescope whose filters allowed you to see the 'processes'...the shooting jets of plasma visible at the edge of the sun.  AWESOME! Plus Scott, who is enamored of the early space programs got to play in a replica of a Mercury capsule...


...and dress up as an Apollo astronaut...


After visiting the Chabot center we munched on astronaut ice cream and took a stroll in the redwoods surrounding the building. We had an awesome Saturday...if you want something fun and different to do in the Bay Area I highly recommend it! We want to go back sometime to see the telescopes in action at night.  Wouldn't that be a fun date?


Uh, I guess if you are sensitive to situations where 'nature takes it's course' you might skip to the bottom video portion of this post :) 

Fish aren't the first thing you think of when you think of a snake's dinner...but it happens. Here's some pics I snapped at the aquarium of a Burmese Vine Snake (Ahaetulla fronticincta) munching on a fishy lunch.

Pardon the blurriness...some bite readjustment was happening.  So cool.  I watched a few of these snakes catch lunch, and then of course had to wait and watch them get the fish into their bodies...so awkward...and lumpy. 

Speaking of animals, you must watch this short film. It's hilarious and you'll probably watch it 50 times and you'll probably sing it and quote it for at least a week.  You have been warned. Huge thanks to Diane and her sweetie for sharing this delight.