A page from history, originally uploaded by dfb.

My son’s copy of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever is pretty much destroyed (my fault – long story). In an attempt to make it up to him I bought a used copy. My son’s original copy was printed in the last few years. The new-used copy is from a 1979 printing (the original copyright for both say 1963).
It seemed like a good idea until we noticed that the editors had removed certain pages and images — for good reason — from more recent editions. For example, this is one such page that was not included in my son’s copy. The small text says: “Indian is coming to town to buy a horse for his squaw to ride. Why do you think it would be nice for her to have a horse to ride?”
I’m glad the editors made the choice to remove this page and certain other pictures from more recent editions – this book is intended for babies and preschoolers after all.

Introducing Giant Hippo

My wife has a new web site. In her own words:

Gluten-free? Dairy-free? Egg-free? Some-kinda-other-allergen-free? Presenting my new blog dedicated to cooking and eating authentically and well while allergen-free: . I cook for my son, who has multiple food allergies and an adventurous palate. Most of the recipes are my own. The photos are hardly professional and yes, there are going to be more kids’ melamine dinnerware and even Legos in the pictures with every weekly update, but hey, that’s just how this mama rolls.

What are you waiting for? Visit:

This is important stuff. Share with anyone you may know who has food allergies, has celiac disease, incurable eczema (generally due to a food allergy), or who just happens to need a recipe without those ingredients.

Now in Saipan

We moved to the island of Saipan a few weeks ago. I now work as a law clerk clerk for the territorial Supreme Court of the Northern Mariana Islands. More specifically, I am the law clerk to the Honorable Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice.

Politically, the Northern Mariana Islands, or CNMI, is a U.S. territory similar to Puerto Rico. It was part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific that was set up after World War II by the United Nations and administered by the U.S. In the 1970?s, CNMI chose to become part of the United States while other parts of the Trust Territory of the Pacific decided on independence. Saipan is the capital island of CNMI.

Geographically, Saipan and the rest of the islands that make up CNMI are part of the same archipelago as Guam (about 125 miles from Saipan) and classified as part of Micronesia. The archipelago is located 2/3?s of the way between Hawai’i and Manila, Philippines. Less than 100 miles east of Saipan is the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest known portion of the Pacific Ocean.

Wrangling high speed trains

This summer, the California High Speed Rail Authority proposed putting its high speed trains through Alhambra, the suburb close to downtown L.A. where my family and I temporarily landed. The I-10 freeway runs through the city with 12 lanes (6 lanes each way) and a commuter train line down the center of the freeway. Despite such a wide transportation corridor, the Rail Authority had the gall to propose a route along but outside the footprint of the freeway. Such a route would require homes to be seized and people evicted. Unlike other areas near freeways, Alhambra and its neighboring cities are not blighted nor ghettos. Moreover, a route down the center of the freeway on the commuter tracks would force the Rail Authority to build on an elevated platform from 35-50 feet high. Worse yet, the Rail Authority is rushing its environmental study process through despite having plenty of time on its side. It currently intends to finish its environmental reviews in 2014 but not begin construction until 2020, the earliest. By rushing, it is predetermining the I-10 freeway as the route selected.

I am showing my opposition the only way I know how. I created a web site where I am tracking the project and providing analysis about the route, focusing on the things the Rail Authority is leaving out of its presentations. I am also organizing my community so that it is informed, can learn more about the project, and voice concerns now before it is too late.

The upside to Google Books

Knowledge sharing is a foundation to a strong society and economy. For that reason, I think it is very impressive and wonderful that libraries and companies have teamed up to share books digitally.* For example, while researching the philosophical underpinnings of public trust in our democracy, I stumbled across Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Volume 2, hosted by Google Books. His Democracy in America series is a classic work and important for its early study of American democracy and society.

The book is also available in ebook format and other digital formats at a number of different web sites.

All digital formats have their pluses and minuses. Including book scans is wonderful because it is generally more readable than plain text formatting and does not require a specialized machine that costs $100 or more. Of course, I prefer paper to digital books but the downside to paper is the inability to quickly and easily search. 🙂

* Note, I am talking specifically about books in the public domain, and to some extent orphaned works. Despite the obvious flaws to our copyright system, copyrights are valuable to society to encourage and reward creativity.


After a long hiatus, I’m back to updating this blog and doing the social network thing (although still a tad less frequent than before).

Sweet Dreams

Me: Good night, sweet dreams. What will you dream of tonight?
Casimir: Lay see

Lay see are the red envelopes given as gifts by Chinese folks. Other words are hong bao (literally red envelope). Cas prefers the envelope to its contents (for now;-).