desertification in the midwest




This is what my yard looks like — completely brown (likely dead) grass covered with leaves from damaged, dying and dead trees — predominantly post oaks (Quercus stellata), one of the toughest trees on the planet. It makes me really sad to see these trees I grew up playing under dying before my eyes. I know, of course, that they aren’t immortal, but I sure expected them to be around a lot longer than me.

best food (on the big road trip)



A summary of my family’s culinary adventures on our vacation out west.


Sensory overload and confusion trying to choose among the incredible Portland Food Carts — here’s what we tried (and loved):
Grilled cheese from The Grilled Cheese Grill
Pad Thai from E-San
Fishy Chips from Euro Trash

The real deal — clam chowder from the Chowder Bowl (Nye Beach (Newport))

The ultimate in down-home comfort food (German potatoes–Holy Cow!) from the Otis Cafe (Otis, OR)

Marino’s Pizza and Ravioli (Ukiah, CA). Live-saving goodness and hospitality after a really long day on the road.

Pahgre’s (Montrose, CO). Sofie and Emery declared it to be one of the best restaurants in the world.

Huckleberry ice cream at Tillamook Cheese. Sure it’s kind of weird that a cheese factory is a tourist destination, but the ice cream is amazing.

Smoked salmon at Fresh Seafood NW (across from Tillamook Cheese Factory). Potential for addiction were we closer.

La Providensia Taqueria in Tillamook. Oh yeah, that’s cooking. Get a carnitas burrito, it’ll make you happy.

chemistry experiments


Low-pressure extraction of alkaloids from oxidized Coffea arabica seeds with an emulsified colloid of liquid butterfat globules dispersed within a water-based solution. Very successful experiment. I hope I can replicate this.



First trial of an experiment for Honors Biology. Students develop a standard curve of changes in mass of uncooked potato slices in response to various concentrations of solute (either salt or sugar). A little surprising that the change leveled off so much on the upper end of the salt concentration series. Any thoughts out there?

All in all a fun and easy experiment.

Portland (from the big road trip)

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We really enjoyed our time in Portland. Aimee had been there before but it was the first time for Emery, Sofia and me. The Japanese Garden is wonderful. I was amused when looking for a picture of the “deer chaser” in the garden (I had somehow not taken a picture even though I enjoyed it so much) that a blogger had taken photos of almost identical vignettes (although his, I have to admit, were better). I’ve concluded that that is a tribute to the talented garden designer(s) who understand almost better than anyone how our eyes and mind work together to compose pictures. I’d bet there are a million nearly identical photographs of the beautiful crane sculptures.

We also just enjoyed the feeling of Portland. It’s cool without trying too hard and the scale is still human despite its standing as a world-class city. I think I could happily live there.