Conversation at the Hernandez dinner table

Remember the PBS show called “Connections”?  The host starts out with something like salt, talks about 10 different things and ends up on a totally different topic.  That’s what happened at dinner the other night.

Monday was my last night in Michigan for this trip, and we all went out to dinner.  I started telling them about the case study I did on A123 batteries, because I thought the boys would remember the nanotechnology battery from when we did nanotechnology research for
FIRST Lego League.  Here’s where the conversation went:

what happens in  batteries
how are lithium ion batteries different from others
A123 made a more stable form of lithium, so less chance of fire
why you can’t use water to put out really hot fires – it disassociates
what is disassociation (separates into hydrogen and oxygen)

I start to explain about energy and chemical reactions.  There are endothermic reactions, which take in energy, and … “Allergic reactions!” Arianna exclaims.  (She’s listening to all this.)  We all laugh.  I was going to say “exothermic” reactions, but Arianna’s answer is funnier.

heavy vs. light elements
the periodic table
fusion in the sun
theories on the origin of the universe

Strange, how many conversations involve the origin of the universe.  Especially when Aaron and Eddie are involved.

I love my family. 

Art In Motion: Tears of Joy in Hawaii

While in Hawaii, I witness an amazing artist. His name is Wayne Gabaylo, and much about him can be found here.

I visited Wayne in his gallery because I never seemed to catch him during his show on the street corner until it was way too crowded to see what he was doing. He was very nice, and explained to me what he does that attracts the crowds. Briefly, he uses normal spray paint cans and improvised masks, newspaper, cans, bottle tops and coins to mask his work at various stages, and uses spatulas and forks to carve it up. It looks like chaos while he’s doing it, he said, but at the end, he removes all these masks and, even though you’ve been watching him, most people tend to be surprised at the results. I bought one of his paintings for Aaron(his birthday would pass while I was away) and a DVD of him doing his act.

The next night, I managed to catch him before his show, sat down on the front row and watched the whole thing. At the end, he was right, I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I sat there and stared and tried to replay what I had just witnessed over and over. I almost cried, it was so beautiful. And so I continued to sit there and stare and think and contemplate this work of art that was just created moments ago and tried to soak it in.

The cell phone picture above is one of his works, “Tears of Joy,” finished and purchased(see “I’ve got a home in Japan”) moments before. Again, spray cans, cardboard, bottle tops and spatulas…

This is a video of him doing his thing, but it is sped up quite a bit. It gives you an good idea of what he does, but someday you’ll have to go to Hawaii and see it for yourself. Oh, yeah, and take me with you.

Wrapping up things here in Hawaii

Ok, I was lying on the beach AGAIN the other day, and admiring the view(no, not THAT view) and thought I would share it with you guys, this time with nary a cloud in the sky, as Hawaii was meant to be:

And then we visited Diamond Head. For those homies in Texas, I just realized that a lot of the street names in my ‘hood are named after things in Hawaii, like Diamond Head. Well, cousins(as they say here in Hawaii), THIS is Diamond Head. It is a tuff cone, formed from the cemented ash from an ancient volcano. This time, you can really make out the circular rim that is the caldera. In the center was once a hopping place of magma, but alas, now it is now dormant and filled in. The tuff cone has worn down all around, but not evenly, the windward side having worn down more than the leeward side. This view is made possible thanks to the military installing a fire control station that was never used, because the enemy planes came from behind, not from the east. The view is beautiful nonetheless. 

This is me and Adam(remember him?) standing way in front of Diamond Head, where you can see the leeweard side standing much taller than the rest of it of to the left behind the trees. And yes, Debbie, this is the tank top you sold to me some 20 years ago…

And I will leave you with the classic Hawaiian sunset, taken at the Luau. Yes, it really is this beautiful, even better than this cell phone picture, and the postcards are not touched up. I will miss this, but I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to see it first hand. From your fearless reporter live-at-the-scene, enduring all manner of sacrifices to bring you this story…PS: Cyndi, I love you

Leonardo De Vinci turns 13 today!

So today is Aaron’s birthday. Wow, a teenager! But for those of you who know him, he’s been perfecting the teenager act for quite some time, and he’s got it down pat.

Cyndi and I brag to our friends that he’s our Leonardo Da Vinci. Leo is my favorite historical figure because he was good at many things, namely art and science, and he was far ahead of his time. I like to think when I was a kid that I was good at a similar combination of art and science, having made many drawings(mostly of cars) and having excelled in math & science. But it really pleases me to see Aaron blossom along these lines.
If you’ve seen the art we’ve posted here and on our web page, you’ll no doubt agree that Aaron has the artistic gene. His art teacher in school says that he has the gift of communicating what’s in his imagination directly to canvas. She also says he has a unique image in his head of what it is he wishes to communicate. He might be looking at a set of white vases on the table, but in his head, they are purple vases, so that’s what he paints. And for those of us watching, he does it effortlessly. He also has a unique imagination  and skill when it comes to computer art and graphics. Any look at his web pages will confirm that.
Musically, he’s supremely talented. He was playing recorder by ear long ago, and when transitioning to clarinet, he played the same songs by ear, having of course mastered reading sheet music. Now on bass, he is creating new things. His bass teacher says he’s got a fantastic ear, and I’ve enjoyed that first hand playing with him in church. I particularly enjoyed listening to him, Adam and cousin Trevor jamming in Texas this past Christmas, with Trevor just playing a line and Aaron picking it up and adding decorations to it.
Aaron also makes my laugh by remembering key movie lines and dialogue from the more warped movies we enjoy watching together. I won’t go into detail here because you really have to be there. He would have fit in perfectly with my high school and college friends.
Academically, Aaron is a whiz. He really knows his stuff in many subjects, and you can imagine the discussions he and Adam have over the specifics of grammar or math or scientific facts. He finds the subtleties in many areas and raises good points that often elicit from me a “Oh…I haven’t thought of that”
So, Happy Birthday, Aaron “Leo” Matthew Hernandez! I’m so glad you were brought into this world for all of us to share.

Hawaii State Flower

Is NOT this hibiscus, but is the Yellow Hibiscus. We visited the Dole Plantation yesterday along the Circle Island Tour. 18 square miles of pinapples, but I chose to take a self-guided tour of their garden. There are LOTS of hibusci here, so I took tons of photos for Cyndi. Here is one beautiful example. Sorry it is not totally in focus, but that is the best I can do with my cell phone camera. Imagine being surrounded by these things, of many different colors. It was really beautiful.

PS: Arianna, I got a picture of a lizard for you on my camera. I’ll show you when I get home.

Oahu: The North Shore

Yesterday, we took a Circle Island Tour, which starts in Waikiki and goes around most of the island counterclockwise. Along the way, we drove through the caldera I mentioned in my last post. Here, we have stopped on the North Shore, which is know for its waves and surfing. The record wave height is around 40 feet, but today it was relatively calm, with waves around 2-3 feet. But I took a picture anyway, just to prove we were there, with the requisite sand, water, waves and palm tree. In the distance, you can spot surfers trying to make the best of the conditions. You are looking straight out into the Pacific. Ah, to be on an island!

Sunset and Volcanoes

I mentioned that I caught a nice sunset the other night. Here it is, the sun just having gone down a few moments before. This is the far northeastern tip of Oahu, and the mountain on the left is the end of the range on the eastern side of the island. Imagine enjoying this all to yourself, with the sound of the surf and nothing else and no lights or light pollution or other people. In fact, the only hint of civilization are the telephone poles reaching up to the tiny weather station at the top of the mountain(not seen here, only part of the telephone pole). This is what a vacation means to me.

Several miles east of that sunset location is a caldera, which is the remains of the volcanic crater that formed this part of the island. Eons ago, there was a volcano, and at its summit surrounding the point of eruption is a rim, which is the caldera. Eons since, part of that caldera eroded away. On the right side of this picture is this eroded edge, eroded all the way down into the bay, but the rest of the caldera is intact, and reaches around to the left of the picture, behind me, and all the way to my right, where it erodes again into the sea. This means the caldera is now a horseshoe shape today, miles across, and there is no way to fit it all into a picture without a shot from the sky. I like to imagine geologic processes and geologic time, something usually very difficult for humans and our short lifespan. This was a LOT work, forming the island, the caldera and then eroding part of it. Wow.

Another Father with His Own Rhythm Section!!!

Tonight, I heard one of the most amazing bass players I’ve ever heard in my life. #1: the bass player is a woman #2 the woman is 14 years old!

The group is called The Delima Ohana, and you can find information on their latest CD here. I was just walking back from dinner, and I heard some nice music with a nice beat. In my hotel area was a band playing and a couple of Hula dancers. But as I got closer, what caught my ear and my eye was the bass player, clearly a young girl playing a beautiful 5-string bass. Like most really professional musicians, she has no music in front of her, and she NEVER looks at her fingers. She plays very complex lines, but all of it relevant to the music and the beat. It is not overbearing, and it’s always musical. Her father plays the guitar, and her sister plays rhythm guitar. He starts the next tune without saying anything, and the three of them just go at it. I cannot describe it fairly in words because you really have to see her play in person.

This is one of the highlights of my vacation. My family knows how important music is to me, and especially good, live music. During the break, I gave her plenty of compliments, and congratulated her father on her talent, and of course, asked for and purchased a CD. This kind of talent merits such feedback and support, and I hope he is as proud of his girls as I am of my boys when we play together.

PS: Arianna, her name is Lilo!

Easter pictures

We had another great Easter at Trinity. It was nice to have Debbie here. We actually managed to get everyone in the family (who was here at least) to wear their Easter “bonnet”! It’s a tradition at our church.

  It’s hard to eat a chocolate bunny with no teeth!

Snorkling in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

Today, Adam and I snorkled(is that a word?) in Hanauma Bay. Neither of us was graceful until we hit the water. Someone please tell me WHY IS HAWAII WATER COLD?! Argh, it took me a while to get all the way in the water(falling down with the flippers on helped), but after a few minutes, I was okay.

There was a lot of fish to be seen, and I can’t recall what their names were. I think one was a butterfly fish, one was some kind of pipe fish, one was something my folks would call striped bass, but you can’t it this one, a puffer fish, and a really cool black, white and orange fish, plus one I think is called a parrot fish. Oh, and I saw A SEA TURTLE! I honestly never thought I’d see one of these in my lifetime, so that was the highlight of the dive, er, snorkel.

Here is the bay, near the beach, where you can see peoples snorkling and sunbathing.

And here’s a shot aimed a bit offshore, where you can see the bay’s mouth out into the Pacific. Yeah, the Pacific, that’s where we be!