Rob’s New Office!

Last November Rob called me with some great news. Someone at work had moved, leaving an office open and available for the taking. Rob jumped on the chance and started working in it right away, staking his claim before clearing it with anyone. After a couple of days of camping out in it he got approval and now he has four walls and a closing door. How exciting!

One of the first things that popped in my head when I heard the news was, “Ooh, can we decorate it?!”

Rob initially didn’t think decorating was necessary even though he is working in that box all day, every day. He should feel good and comfortable and confident, right? And how could you possibly feel those things when you’re trapped somewhere that looks like this?

I mean, it’s not Aleppo or anything so I suppose it could be worse…but it could also be a whole lot better.

Ideas swirled. Initially I was thinking of a midcentury engineering office look (slide rules, perpetual desktop calendar, wire basket full of rolled-up plans) as ode to Rob’s grandfather. Max Williams was a water engineer back in the heyday when engineers ruled the world and every mother wanted her son to grow up to be one. He travelled the world getting pipes and damns up and running in places that had never before had them (Iran, Indonesia, etc.). Grandpa Williams inspired Rob to become an engineer himself so Rob keeps grandpa’s name plate, engineering stamps, and his vintage survey level on display as an ode to his legacy.

IMG_3948 (1)

Anyway, as much as Rob loves his grandfather he wasn’t feeling the midcentury vibe. It just isn’t him enough and that’s fair. My next idea was one that he got excited about. SPACE! Since Rob’s a space and sci-fi nut (with a dash of fantasy) we decided to head that route.

Now, only a few of the offices in his building are “decorated” and the ones that are simply have one wall painted and that’s about it. We pushed the envelope and painted two walls. Rob chose the daring color. Since these pics were taken on two different phones on different days, the paint color doesn’t match. In person the color is more mid-dark blue with a hint of gray. Also, the furniture isn’t so glaringly orange. Dumb phone camera pics that are hard to edit properly…


The lamp was left in the office from its last inhabitant and Rob decided he really like its warm, homey glow so it stayed. We both loved the modern, spacey look of his new clock. The globe was mine when I was a kid and works perfectly here. I helped him arrange the stuff on his bookshelf, including the vintage brass train/boat lights and a concrete core and a basalt core among other random things. He keeps drumstick pencils on his desk. Someone shamefully swapped his large tree for a small plant on the floor by the window.


To add his personality into the decor, I suggested we scatter memorabilia from his favorite movies around the place. He’s got:

  • Sirius Black wand
  • R2D2 mug
  • Interstellar poster
  • Quote from Gimli (Lord of the Rings)
  • Star Trek Engineering insignia magnet

He rounded out the casual, “not-too-decorated” wall decor with two of his favorite space pictures. The eclipse as seen from his camp location in Idaho and The Hubble Ultra-Deep Fields photo. The image shows almost 3,000 galaxies in a region 5-10 billion light-years away from us…all in the equivalent area of looking through a straw at one spot in our night sky. Absolutely blows the mind to think about it. He loves that. He says it reminds him that “I’m not the center of the universe.”


Oh! I almost forgot about his fourth wall. There is a white board on it and Rob insisted on hanging a large map of the Mullerthal area we hiked in Luxembourg (even though it doesn’t match the “theme”. I conceded haha).

When it was all finished, he realized how much better it will be to work in his new “space”.  People walk by and give complements and when they enter they always notice something fun to talk about. It’s a warm, comfortable, inviting office that can be a haven from stressful working situations. Congrats on the new orifice (oops, typo…) office, babe!

Our Chemical Romance

DISCLAIMER: I’m not making sweeping claims. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m not patronizing.

Everyone in Utah heard about the sweet family in Layton who had two little daughters killed from pesticides that were improperly applied to their yard. So, so tragic. That family lived just a few blocks from me. 

Almost everyone in the world has had a loved one die from cancer and wondered what caused it.

My son has a rare endocrine disease. Why?

Learning/behavioral disorders, type 1 diabetes, migraines, the list goes on and on.

I have been trying to live and raise my family in a more healthful way for a few years now. We’ve all heard about “going green” when it comes to food and energy, but I haven’t heard very much reported on how toxic the world around us has become.

I picked up this book and decided it would be a good read in order to open my mind and be less ignorant of what is going on.

What's Gotten into Us?: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World

I’m not into scare tactics, which some of this book does use. But if you have a clear head and read it for general knowledge about what’s going on, it’s very informative.


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION: What’s Gotten into Us? is a deep, remarkable, and empowering investigation into the threats—biological and environmental—that chemicals now present in our daily lives.
Do you know what chemicals are in your shampoo? How about your cosmetics? Do you know what’s in the plastic water bottles you drink from, or the weed killer in your garage, or your children’s pajamas? If you’re like most of us, the answer is probably no. But you also probably figured that most of these products were safe, and that someone—the manufacturers, the government—was looking out for you.
The truth might surprise you.
After experiencing a health scare of his own, journalist McKay Jenkins set out to discover the truth about toxic chemicals, our alarming levels of exposure, and our government’s utter failure to regulate them effectively. What’s Gotten into Us? reveals how dangerous, and how common, toxins are in the most ordinary things, and in the most familiar of places:
• Our water: Thanks to suburban sprawl and agricultural runoff, 97 percent of our nation’s rivers and streams are now contaminated with everything from herbicides to pharmaceutical drugs.
• Our bodies: High levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals from cosmetics, flame-retardants from clothing and furniture, even long-banned substances like DDT and lead, are consistently showing up in human blood samples.
• Our homes: Many toxins lurk beneath our sinks and in our basements, of course, but did you know that they’re also found in wall-to-wall carpeting, plywood, and fabric softeners?
• Our yards: Pesticides, fungicides, even common fertilizers—there are enormous, unseen costs to our national obsession with green, weed-free lawns.
What’s Gotten Into Us? is much more than a wake-up call. It offers numerous practical ways for us to regain some control over our lives, to make our own personal worlds a little less toxic. Inside, you’ll find ideas to help you make informed decisions about the products you buy, and to disentangle yourself from unhealthy products you don’t need—so that you and your family can start living healthier lives now, and in the years to come. Because, as this book shows, what you don’t know can hurt you.


We all know these chemicals can be dangerous, but I don’t think we take it very seriously. We always hear “Yes, it can be dangerous, but with the small quantity we are exposed to, it’s not.”  Seriously, how many times have we heard that? The problem is…what about the cumulative effects of ALL the hundreds of “small quantities” we’re exposed to every day, let alone over our entire life???

Obviously, I’m not going to commit all of my energy and savings to implement everything non-toxic, but there have been some small changes we’ve made over the last couple of years to be more “green”. They include:

  • No microwaveable lunch entrees or popcorn
  • Some organic food where money permits.
  • Very limited high fructose corn syrup.
  • I buy very few snacks (I make them instead) and when we eat out, it is VERY rarely fast food. 
  • We try not to use store-bought plastic water bottles too much. We each have an aluminum one.
  • Hypoallergenic toiletries for kids. Their skin is SO sensitive to anything that isn’t 100% natural/hypoallergenic that they break out with eczema patches if they take 1 bath in “fun” bath bubbles.
  • We’ve significantly reduced the amount of cleaning chemicals we use (unless absolutely necessary). We use green products, vinegar, and a steam mop, which I LOVE.

In all honesty, these changes haven’t cost us any extra money. In fact, they SAVE money. Our grocery bill has actually gone down considerably.

The book has a hundred things we can do to limit our exposure to toxins but the top things we hope to implement over the next couple of years are:

  • Organic milk and meat
  • Vegetable garden
  • More native plants and flowers that promote natural habitats for local fauna and require less water.
  • Organic herbicides/pesticides. I hate going to the park and smelling the poison that was sprayed on the grass still lingering from even a couple of weeks earlier. My baby is playing on it! 

I’m really not trying to be a preacher or to put myself out there as an ultra-conservationist freak. I’m not blaming all cancer and other health issues on these toxins. I just want to be informed, not ignorant. I believe that continually implementing small changes can make a difference to my family’s health and wellness of life.


Here are a couple of links I’ve found to be helpful.

Safe Mama
The original One-Stop Child Safety, Product Recall, Health, Well-Being, Non-Toxic, Eco-Conscious Resource, For Parents.

My Recipes

Oompa Toys
We offer our constantly expanding collection of European wooden toys, baby toys, educational toys, lunch bags and modern children’s furniture to urbane and discerning adults who want to expose the young children in their lives to non-character branded, quality toys that are designed to withstand generations of use. We believe baby toys should be natural, safe, eco-friendly, non-violent and from manufacturers who provide safe and nurturing environments for their employees.

Shop Smart
We will always tell you the truth

Rob: The Master


In honor of Rob being gone for the next few days hiking King’s Peak, I’m posting his graduation pictures taken…uh…almost 3 months ago.

He finished the work for his Master of Science in Engineering degree last August, but commencement wasn’t until May. Man, can I just say how BLESSED we are to have him done?! It’s a long, long, road. I remember sitting with him on the floor of his parent’s house before we were married planning this educational road. 5 years? 5 YEARS?! Well, 6 years, 2 kids, and thousands (and thousands) of dollars later, he did it.

Next up, his Professional Engineering Certification next spring.


Rob has been working for URS in Murray for a couple of years now and loves it. He is a staff geotechnical engineer and specializes in seismicity. He loves the work and he loves the people. We’re very grateful for the stability and ethic this company employs.

I’m very proud of Rob for working incredibly hard. He’s a smart cookie and I’m happy that he is able to have a career that fulfills him, stretches him, and makes him happy.

Congrats, Rob! I love you!

You can see a few more pictures of Rob’s big day here.

Rob’s Thesis

I’ve had a few people ask to read my thesis so I thought I would just post it here in case you are one of those people.  The title is…

“Comparison of nonlinear and equivalent-linear site response analysis for soft-soil sites along the Wasatch Front and site-specific response predictions for the Legacy Parkway.” 

I’m not including the 14 MB of data in the appendix but if any of you happen to be interested in that data please let me know and I’ll send you a link to it.  Download the text here.

Spooky action at the Space Station

Nerd Warning – I you don’t care about quantum mechanics and encryption then you probably don’t want to waste your time on this.  Otherwise, this article is freaking awesome!  I’ve only included some excerpts so follow the link for the entire article. Enjoy!

Quantum entanglement is weird. And I mean weird even for quantum mechanics, which sets a whole new level for weird.

Dick York, who was in The Twilight Zone with the coin landing on edge

Why is Dick York’s picture here?
Is it entangled with this post? Spooky.

In the world we live in, the macroscopic world, if you flip a coin, it can either land heads or tails (ignore it landing on its side, the results of which have been thoroughly discussed in The Twilight Zone). That’s it. But in the quantum world, that coin could be both heads and tails, with an equal probability of both. Until you actually examine the coin and see which way it landed, it exists in that weird in-between state.

I’m not making this stuff up. This is very real, as real as atomic bombs, computer chips, and solar cells. In fact, all three of those depend on quantum effects, so we know, which absolute certainty, that quantum mechanics works.

Spooky action at the Space Station
The Bad Astronomer
Tue, 10 Jun 2008 02:53:10 GMT