Tuesday 30 November 2010

Is it already too late?

We checked the other day and we now have four feet of Alice. That’s forty eight inches. Where will the madness end?

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Monday 29 November 2010

Chook Sauna

Mom has been having problems with the Chooks’ water freezing. Her solution was to get an old crock pot and use that to keep the water liquid. The chickens think this is wonderful, but primarily because they can use it like a sauna, perching on the rim and warming their butts. This means that they poop in the water but that is apparently a small price to pay for the feel of gentle warmth on their feathery little butts. On the other hand, it means pulling in and cleaning the crock pot every evening (which Mom rationalizes by saying she wouldn’t want to leave it plugged in overnight).

P.S. It turns out the chickens do no like the snow.

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Sunday 28 November 2010

Rock Island Celebration

Charles celebrates the completion of his island project.

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Saturday 27 November 2010

One more long drive

As we were heading out this morning, we stopped for gas and air. For some reason the gas was being very slow, so Mom spent the time searching via her smart phone for the nearest Starbucks, which the application insisted was less than 200 feet away. After a bit of searching Mom found it right next door, we were just in a bad position to see the front of the building. Except for that search app, we would have driven on by and Mom would have been decaffeinated. The horror, the horror …

Otherwise the trip was uneventful. Polynomial was very happy to see us. The guineas, not so noticeably.

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Friday 26 November 2010

The retreat starts

We had a slow start as usual but managed to meet Blaine at a nearby Starbucks. Not the one we had been walking to, but one in the strip mall just across the street from the hotel. We drove there, of course.

We had hoped to make it out to Uncle Craig’s house for Cousin Ashlyn’s 16th birthday but we had a slow morning. We wandered over the Mimi’s house and ended up just hanging out there until it was time to leave for home. Uncle Evil put the kids to work in the side lot clearing out a big pile of limestone rock that had been dumped there. This actually resulted in noticeable progress, which I found astonishing. Perhaps we could improve the kids by having Uncle Evil take them for a summer of hard manual labor. I must keep that in mind.

We went out on the cliff and looked down at the creek. Uncle Evil had us try to throw rocks across the creek and for some reason it was incredibly psychologically difficult to do. I felt like I was about to tumble over the edge every time which prevented me from making a real effort. Uncle Evil thinks it’s because the cliff top slopes downward.

As we were pulling out for the long drive back, Uncle Evil called us to announce that he had found Bill the German Chicken in the driveway. Corwin was upbeat for most of the drive to Texarkana.

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Thursday 25 November 2010


Today was Thanksgiving. We all went to Uncle Craig’s house for a massive (25+ people) dinner. We had planned to go early but Alice had a bit of constipation1 that delayed us for an hour or so but in the end we made it out to Uncle Craig’s house. It was warm when we got there but right around noon a cold front rolled through and the temperature dropped from the low 80’s to the mid 50’s. We started off by putting the kids in an enclosed trampoline and throwing various balls at them. This was fun for a while until one of the adults (not me!) had the idea of making it a contest with the winner being whoever could get all of the balls in one location (inside or outside). Of course, Corwin immediately figured out that if the kids just threw everything as far as possible in different directions it would be impossible for the adults to even pick the balls up before the inside was empty. This rout was ended only by the rain from the incoming front.

The kids had brought swim suits which seemed futile after the cooling, but Craig’s pool has an attached hot tub. That was fired up and the kids (plus Uncle Evil) hung out in it from cool to steaming. Corwin did take a couple of dives in the cold pool but once the hot tub was warm he stayed there. That is, until Uncle Evil and I pushed him over the side back in to the cold. Hahaha. We tried the same thing with Charles but he seemed to like it and stayed in the cold water for 5 or 10 minutes before getting back in the warm. Alice didn’t seem to mind much either when she was sent to retrieve pool items she had thrown. She didn’t linger like Charles but didn’t object to being sent.

Alice had a lot of fun trying on old ballet dresses of Cousin Ashlyn’s. Uncle Craig managed to unload most of them on to Alice for the trip back. Of course, by “old” I mean they were way too small for Ashlyn but, like Alice’s accumulating set, were probably only worn a couple of times.

Dinner was around 12:30, after everyone had dried off. We hung out for a while after that, until it got late and we went back to annoy Mimi for a bit and then collapsed in to our beds at the hotel. Traumatically, though, Corwin lost Bill the German Chicken at Mimi’s house. A long friendship sadly terminated.

1 Content warning! Do not read further if you haven’t dealt with child bodily functions. You may never reproduce.

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Wednesday 24 November 2010

Finally, we see Dad's kin.

Today Mom and I started off with a walk down the highway a bit to a nearby Starbucks for some coffee. We walked by the round rock for which the town is named, and then cut back through a park which goes under the overpasses for the creek in which the round rock sits. Unfortunately the bridge which crosses the river in the park was closed, presumably (based on our inspection) because it was no longer safe. Instead we kept on along the culvert to get our morning fix brew. We walked back a slightly different way, right next to the highway and along a sidewalk that simply ended on the other side. But a quick climb up a hill and we were back in the hotel parking lot, which had not (surprisingly!) been destroyed by our unsupervised children.

Then we made the most important stop of the trip — IKEA! Mimi had a half day of work and the cousins were in school so it was the perfect time. Corwin was bribed in to resigned acceptance by the promise of a lunch with Swedish meatballs (which, I must say, are quite delicious with the gravy). Alice found her dream bed. We picked up a few things, the biggest being a new member of the Sleepy Time Crew — an almost Charles sized shark named, of course, “Big S”. It’s my fault, I must admit. I saw a pile of them and joking suggested to Charles that he bug Mom to get one. Mom just shrugged and said “OK”, presumably to teach me some lesson, but frankly I learned nothing. As if! You’d think Mom had met me just yesterday.

Anyway, that wasn’t really enough because there was also a huge bin of small plush mice. Alice and Charles both got one, Alice first because she needed a small companion for “Ratty” (a life sized plush rat) who was along for the trip.

After IKEA we headed over to Mimi’s house. Alice had a break down as soon as we arrived because she and Charles got in to an argument about what the names of their stuffed mice, which both wanted to call “Mousy”. Eventually we made Charles surrender, so he called his “Brownie” because it’s brown. Another crisis averted by quality parenting.

Uncle Craig dropped by with Cousin Bryson and Cousin Dawson. He had to leave immediately to pick up a table for the big Thanksgiving event at his house the next day. While he was gone we (Mom, Corwin, Charles, Alice, Dawson, Bryson, and Mom). went down the the creek. I had packed water shoes along but of course forgot them so I had to walk around on the rocks in bare feet. It was fun, but it hurt. Parts of the rocks were slippery and I was carrying my new smart phone with me which made it more interesting. At least I got the kids to hurt their feet as well, which made it better.

Charles’ big project was building Rock Island, a brand new island in the creek (after that, Alice built one too). Mom and Alice looked for fossils. Alice found a very nice urchin, which sadly she lost on the way back, leaving her in tears. We threw a bunch of rocks, and waved to Mimi and Uncle Evil up at the house. Uncle Evil and Uncle Craig came down after that to hang out at the creek with us. Eventually we headed back because we were losing the sun.

For dinner we went to the restaurant where Aunt Nong works. For a wonder we got Mimi to go out with us. As an indication of how often she goes out, I had to help her with paying the bill with a credit card because she had never done that before1. The best moment was when Mom noticed Corwin once again holding his fork in a death grip instead of a proper grip.

Mom: Corwin, hold your fork correctly!

Corwin: Awww!.

Mom: It’s impolite to hold your fork that way unless you’re being attacked.

[Corwin looks at Uncle Evil — we all laugh]

Dad: Probably not the best explanation at this time.


Mom: Dang! I forgot to change my shirt after we got back from the creek.

Alice: Why did you want to do that?

Mom: We sweated and it’s a little stinky.

Charles: A little stinky?

Charles, sad to say, survived that conversational gambit.

The most interesting bit was that Uncle Evil made Alice hyperactive, even for Alice. She was bouncy at just the anticipation and encouraged Uncle Evil’s predations on Corwin all evening. He ended up wrestling with her and Charles in the corner, and I presume it was only Nong’s clout that prevented us from being bodily evicted.

1 Mimi paid because that was the only way we could convince her to go along.

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Tuesday 23 November 2010

Big rocks of war

We got up slowly this morning. Mimi was at work and the cousins in school so we decided to head out to Enchanted Rock which we had visited on a previous trip. Mom also wanted to visit the Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War and do a bit of shopping in Fredericksburg.

It was about 90 minutes of driving to get to Enchanted Rock but Mom said we’d been driving so much this would seem like a short trip. We found our way there without much trouble and piled out to start the long hike up to the summit. Mom didn’t make it to the top last time because she was had a young Charles and baby Alice on her back, hiking up a mountain in a drizzle. The day this time was a very nice day, warm but not hot with a partially cloudy sky and a bit of a breeze. We decided to all go up the main rock. It was strenuous enough that even Mom was a bit winded. I kept Corwin moving by pointiong my camera at him any time he sat down. Alice did very well, making it all the way to the top little complaint. Charles thought it was all great fun and zipped around like a little dervish.

We rested for a bit at the top and then went off to see if could find what was labeled as a cave on the far side. We found a small cave that lead to a depression which contained what looked like the entrance to the real cave. Mom, Corwin, and Charles went in to explore, using Mom’s smart phone as a flashlight. I was left behind with Alice, Mom considering her unlikely to enhance the experience. Corwin wimped out shortly after entering so the three of us waited for Mom and Charles to return. After a while Corwin, and then Alice, wanted to try calling Mom on her phone to see if she and Charles were permanently lost and we could just go on back to the hotel. But I made them wait and finally Charles and Mom returned in triumph, having successfully navigated the underground passage. Corwin had his own triumph, which was spotting two lizards (one on the way up, and another on the way down). By then, it was starting to get in to the afternoon so we hiked back to the car and headed over to Fredericksburg for lunch.

Our next stop was the Nimitz Museum which has evolved in to a general museum of the Pacific Theatre of WWII, becoming the de facto national museum. It’s amazingly extensive for being in such a small town. Mom had naturally parked at the other end of Fredericksburg to enable us to have a nice walk there and back.

We spent the entire afternoon there, until it closed at 5PM, and really only went through a single building out of nearly a dozen (although it was the largest of them). They even had the one mini-sub that was captured at Pearl Harbor during the attack on display. It was interesting enough that we didn’t have any complaints from the kids before we left. And best of all, because we stayed until close, we didn’t have time to go to the gift shop. Total win!

P.S. We did hit a shop in Fredericksburg. Charles got a small plastic tank which was named, inevitably, “Tanky”, and Alice got a plush Hello Kitty. I wanted to get Alice a large (3 foot × 3 foot × 2 foot) Hello Kitty pillow but Mom wouldn’t even give it a sliver of consideration. Corwin bought a small plastic rooster he named “Bill, the German Chicken” because he already had (at home) a small plastic rooster named “Bob, the German Chicken” and it’s important to keep things straight.

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Monday 22 November 2010

Long drive

Today was mostly just driving. We left the hotel by 9AM and endured the road. The kids watched a lot of Babylon 5. I was able to turn this in to a teaching moment, despite the glazed zombie state of the kids.

There was a scene with Lt. Corwin and Commander Ivonava where Ivonava is interviewing the leutenant to see if he was suitable for their conspiracy and hustles him out when he gives the wrong answer.

Dad: See, that’s a big mistake. Always ask more questions after the important one. Otherwise you’re just drawing attention to that question. Bury it in other stuff.

Corwin: OK.

Mom: [raised eyebrow look]

Yeah, but I don’t see her helping with these important life lessons.

She didn’t help at all with Alice either.

Alice: When are Uncle Evil and Aunt Nong going to have a baby?

Dad: They haven’t even made their first visit to the Build A Baby Workshop yet. We had to go there a number of times to make youl.

Alice: You’re messing with me. I came out of Mommie’s tummy. All babies come of their mommies’ tummies.

Dad: Not chickens. They come out of eggs.

Alice: I meant human babies. And bunnies, too, I think.

We stopped in West, Texas because we have driven by it many times but never stopped in for the Czech cooking (at places like The Czech Stop). We had a nice dinner at Picha’s Czech-American Restaurant, and then walked over to a local bakery to get some Czech baked goods. We caught them just at closing but they stayed open so we could stock up.

When we got back from the Czech Restaurant we discovered that Alice had wrapped her seat belt around the headrest of the passenger front seat. We had to struggle to get it off so we’re not sure how she got it on there. Alice’s explanation — “It was an accident”.

It was another hour or so of driving until we could drop by Mimi’s house for a short visit and then go crash at the hotel. At the point where Charles fell asleep leaning against a chair we thought it was time to go.

Road Zombies

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Sunday 21 November 2010

Hitting the road

We headed out this morning after trying to get packed up yesterday. We actually pulled out just before 7AM which has to be a record. Part of it was that we packed more lightly than normal as our trip is a bit shorter than normal. As part of that, Mom set out one suitcase / luggage for each child. Alice’s initial response was to fill hers with stuffed animals and then expect put her clothes in Mom’s suitcase. That plan was firmly rejected.

Mom had planned an activity for us at our intermediate destination but we arrived so early that she was at a bit of a loss on what to do. The big excitement was at our hotel, which has ducks that live in a penthouse on the roof but relax in the lobby fountain during the day. At 5PM they march out from the lobby in to the elevator. Mom’s plan was to arrive just in time to check in and watch the ducks but we got there by early afternoon. As a result we spent time walking around Memphis and seeing the historical sites. The children were not as enthused about this educational experience as Mom had hoped. On the other hand, Charles did get to ride on a trolley, adding one more mode of transportation to his collection.

P.S. The duck walk was very exciting. There was a decent crowd there, Mom and I had to let the kids sneak forward by themselves to get through the throng.

P.P.S. Memphis seems to have taken in hard in the current economic downturn. The hotel we stayed in had a shopping mall attached to it which had basically been shut down. There were lots of other empty stores all over downtown.

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Saturday 20 November 2010


I was left at home to prepare for our trip while Corwin went off to his IMEA concert. He had to catch a bus at 6:30AM so they could practice before the concert at 2:30. It turned out that our no longer quite so little Corwin was fist violin for the entire group. Mom was so happy, although she still managed to resist the urge to jump up and shout “that’s my sweet little Corwin boy there!”. Corwin, I suspect, was severely disappointed by that restraint, but hopefully he’ll be able to get over it.

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Friday 19 November 2010

Shoe in

Alice and I were out shopping in a local grocery store for travel supplies when Alice spotted this display of fancy shoes. She picked one out and I think it was her size (when she got some boots we had to get her adult size 1). I wasn’t willing to buy fancy shoes with maternal approval. Alice was very sad. But we made a note of the shoes so that she might be able to get some later.

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Thursday 18 November 2010

Art investment

At dinner a while ago, the subject of Mr. Frappé Latté came up because I asked Charles to draw him in my notebook so I would have a copy. Mom noticed and get one for herself but Charles held firm, thereby preserving the market value of my copy once Charles’ conspiracy manages to take over the world.

P.S. Charles has lately switched to drawing the GOP elephant instead because Charles’ thinks it’s cute.

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Wednesday 17 November 2010

House arrest

Mom encountered the animal control service a couple of days ago. They were tracking something else at the time but had had reports of a “black dog” causing trouble. It wasn’t clear it was in fact Polynomial but it might have been. As a result, Poly has been placed on house arrest and isn’t permitted to run free any more. We may have to get the back yard fenced as a result, not something we’ve wanted to do but with both Poly and Chooks running about, it may be the best option.

As a substitute, we’re walking Poly more often now. Even I have been dragooned in to more walks. I think I should start counting it as “exercise”, because it adds up. To make things more fun, a raccoon has taken up residence in the woods at the pond. Poly has discovered this and either has a sensitive nose, or remembers where the raccoon lives because she has popped over to play with it every time since the first. The raccoon, however, looks old and crotchety and does not like Poly. It heads for a tree as soon as it hears Poly but it’s not particularly fast. I have to drag Poly away who, fortunately, does not have much of an attention span and the raccoon, once of sight, is out of Poly’s little dog fore brain. Till the next walk.

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Tuesday 16 November 2010

Phone smarter, not harder

Mom finally forced me to upgrade a smart phone. I had been doing research so when we went out yesterday we dropped by the store we were the perfect customers — “I’ll take that phone plus these accessories”. I ended up with a Samsung Facinate based on various trivial features. I had to get an Android based phone because that’s what Mom has and it seemed it would be simpler to be compatible on phones and applications. It also means that I can far more easily send text messages to Mom, something I am sure she will come to appreciate. Nothing like getting regular highlights from my day!

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Monday 15 November 2010

Wii family fun

Corwin started playing Wii Fit again. This lead to Charles and Alice also playing. They had much fun making mock of my Mii, which is noticeably pudgy. On the other hand, both Corwin and Charles were marked as “obese” because of their weight. I was amused but Mom ruined it by pointing out that they would get more interesting results if they updated their height. So even though Corwin gained 19 pounds and Charles 14, they also each grew 3 inches which put them back in the “at risk” category. Charles was devastated by this as he certainly does not have the look of a child at risk for being overweight. However, Charles is a deceptively solid chunk of kid who masses quite a bit more then he would seem It’s not fat, as Mom can attest from the sort of aggressive physical contact with Charles with which he frequently impacts interacts with Mom. “Well padded” is not a phrase that comes readily to mind afterwards.

One thing they have been doing is the running activity. It rates you by your “Burn Rate”. A couple of days ago Alice tried it and while it claimed she was doing 4 minute miles (and 2 miles in 7:50) she achieved only a burn rate of 24%. After a couple of tries she got it up to 35%. Looking at the rankings she saw that Mom was #1 with a burn rate of 96%. At Alice’s anguished cry, Mom pointed out that Mom was an expert runner and that maybe with work Alice might improve.

This evening the whole family was in the media area and this came up again while Alice was sitting with Mom on the couch…

Dad: Alice, Mom’s been running longer than you’ve been alive.

Alice: Of course! She’s older. I’m only 6. I don’t know how old Mom is.

Dad: She’s 600 years old.

Mom: [looks pained]

Alice: Why is she still alive then?

Dad: It turns out she’s a vampire. She has babies, raises them up, and then just when they’re fullest of life she sucks out their life energy to keep herself young.

Mom: Alice, what do you think of that?

[Alice ponders a moment, then gets up and goes to sit by Charles on the chase]

Shortly after this, Corwin managed to get 105% on his burn rate, at which point he immediately started ragging on Mom about how he was winning. He ran in to my office to bring me back so I could witness his greatness and crushing of Mom. Worse for Mom, it turns out that somewhere between those two scores it switches from a 3 star rating to a 4 star rating, correspondingly going from “Calorie Torcher” to “Calorie Incinerator”. I must confess, I did end up helping Corwin a bit, giving him a few pointers. I did not, however, provide the encouragement for Charles and Alice to do butt slapping victory dances in front of the TV. That was completely spontaneous.

However, karma happens, as they say. Charles was next and he managed to get up to a 117% burn rate and immediately dumped on Corwin. Corwin whined a bit, but I pointed out just how low the sympathy meter from his parents was reading (given that he’d gone on about his putatively superior skills at Super Mario Galaxy). Corwin eventually resorted to trying to trip Charles as Charles did the run to keep his score down. In the end Mom had to yell at the entire set to keep them from rough housing the TV, Wii, and / or XBox into the repair shop (they did knock over the XBox, hopefully it’s still functional).

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Sunday 14 November 2010

Harry Potter in Space

Charles and Alice spend a lot of time playing together. Charles drives the activity but he is constrained to do things that Alice finds interesting. This generally involves scenes of domesticity in fantastical environments. What seems to dominate that now could best be described as “Harry Potter in space” with a bit of Stars Wars mixed in to get princesses involved. This allows Charles to get his Lego™ spaceships involved and Alice to use the minifigs. The discussions on how turbo-lasers interact with Expelliarmus are always entertaining. The two of them also use the various Lego™ buildings (such as Alice’s princess castle, or Charles’ Hogwarts) to set up scenes which influences the direction of play. A rescue is generally involved, along with discussions on whether various minifigs’ children should be permitted to engage in various fun activities.

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Saturday 13 November 2010

Shop till Corwin drops

Today was a big shopping day. We went out to get somethings taken care of before leaving next week. Mom also had some coupons she wanted to use so we ended up at a department store, the kind of place we rarely go to anymore. Everyone got stuff, even Corwin was forced to try on pants to decrease the “I have no pants!” complaints of the morning. Corwin did like the sweaters though, and picked one up. Alice got mittens and boots and a new coat and other things. Charles got a coat and maybe something else, there were so many bags …

Corwin wore out after the department store and couldn’t even get enthusiastic about going to Best Buy. On the other hand, we went to Steak N Shake on the way home and Corwin got a full sized shake instead of a junior size and declared that made the trip worthwhile.

P.S. I should mention that we went to a farmers’ market to start the trip and everyone (except me) got sweet rolls. The staffer was quite chatty and pointed out their flatware was biodegradable because it was made out of potatoes which Charles thought was fascinating. He adopted his fork as a toy for the rest of the day, although he didn’t come up with a name for it (my suggestion of “forktator” being unreasonably rejected).

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Friday 12 November 2010

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

Corwin’s Python on a D-12

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Thursday 11 November 2010

Wii're Back!

The big news for today is that our Wii returned from the repair shop. I immediately hooked it up so the kids could fight about who got to play it first.

Based on these results, I think maybe I should break the various games consoles and computers on a regular basis because getting the repaired Wii back seemed just as popular as when we got it originally. But cheaper!

Plus, I sent in the Super Mario Galaxy DVD as an example disk because it hasn’t worked for a year or so, and Nintendo sent us back a new one and we are once again challenging Bowers for domination of the Universe.

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Gratuitous Picture of the Day

I thought this was a cross-eyed Alexis, but Alice tells me it’s a flower.

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Wednesday 10 November 2010

Burn, brushy, burn!

Tonight we finally got around to burning the brush pile. It was quite a large pile by then and the stuff on the bottom was actually fairly dry and tindery. We also piled a lot of pine needles on top to help out. Corwin was given the honor of lighting it, which he started to do by just tossing lit matches on top, rather than say half way down where it could work its way up through the pine needles.

Nonetheless, eventually ignition was achieved which resulted quickly in flames about half way up the second floor. The nearby pine trees managed to avoid lighting up, which was probably for the best. The kids thought it was awesome although the chooks did not particularly care for it (they huddles in their coop, having been carefully counted before hand).

After the fire burned down a bit I brought out some old rocket motor parts. Some were motor fuel going bad, but most were just fuel chunks and delay charges that I could no longer identify and I certainly wasn’t going to be flying any rockets on unknown motor parts. I had been saving them for just such an occasion and I let the boys toss them on the fire one at a time. The delay elements generated some interesting flames but not a lot. The motor elements were much better, generating large jets of flame that were eye searingly bright. What was surprising was how long it took them to ignite. One took a couple of minutes of sitting in a bonfire before it went off.

After that we tried toasting hot dogs but the heat was so intense that it was hard to stay close enough to get anything roasted. I resorted to using a fire mitt which helped. Corwin riffed on this and used some of Mom’s pot holder gloves. But even so, once the gloves started steaming I had to move back. Still, I got one for Alice and two for me mostly well roasted. And none of the kids ended up with significant burns! A win all around.

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Tuesday 09 November 2010

Questions every parent dreads

The kids, lead by Corwin, have gotten back to watching Babylon 5. Charles, meanwhile, has been reading the Harry Potter books for a few months. This lead naturally and disastrously to having him ask me, “Why doesn’t Sheridan just hire Dumbledore to take out the Shadows?”.

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Monday 08 November 2010


At dinner, after returning from Chicago, the dinner conversation turned out how much out gassing the children managed while on the trip. Naturally, Alice lead off by doing a demonstration.

Corwin: Alice is the queen of flatulence.

Alice: No I’m not! I just farted the most on the trip.

Mom: I think Corwin was the worst.

Dad: Quite the emission, crew, eh?

Mom: We had to ride around with the windows down most of the time.

Alice: [giggles] I farted a lot!

Mom: Here, everyone have some broccoli. It will make you more gaseous.

The Kids: Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart. The more you eat the more you fart!

Dad: Don’t you know the next two lines to that?

The Kids: No! Sing, Dad, Sing! Sing! Sing! Sing!

[Mom lowers her head. I suspect she’s about to cry at the glory that are her children.]

I did teach the kids the next lines, because it would be a true shame if that ancient knowledge were allowed to pass from our culture.

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Sunday 07 November 2010

I can't say she didn't warn me

A prediction by Alice — “I will clean out the old man […] Yes I will”

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Saturday 06 November 2010

Rocket Farm

Void Hawk on a G75 sparky motor

Today was my big day out launching rockets at the family farm on a truly beautiful day for flying.

We had the usual AE100 students flying their instrument payloads in the morning. That went well, all the rockets landed in the adjacent sections, the only road crossed was the one right next to the launch site. No crops anywhere so the recoveries were quick and easy. In fact, our biggest concern was making sure the students didn’t try to catch any of the rockets.

Around 12:30 or so I was able to start putting my own efforts in the air. I had six rockets that had never flown before ready. I managed to fly 5 of them, one twice, although this left me packing up the last bits in twilight, barely finishing before it was dark.

I had two damaged rockets. Green Rage 3.1 lost a canard fin, but I should be able to fix that. Green Rage 2.2 unfortunately had a fatal accident. I had put the motor thrust ring on to test the fit and then forgot and didn’t glue it down. This let the motor shift forward for a low flight that ended in severe damage on the road. That might have been repairable but the motor tube was heavily burnt by the motor so that will, sadly, be the only flight for that rocket. Other than that I had some very good flights.

Mom dropped Corwin and Charles off on me when they got back from Chicago. Alice had to go off to a violin recital for her group. The boys were mostly OK, although Charles got bored fairly early on, despite having much fun with the large clods of dirt in the field. Charles, however, was better about walking out with me to retrieve my rockets — Corwin tended to go about half way then lose heart, even though all of mine landed in the same section.

Corwin flew several of his rockets. One of those was his Quark, which was once again lost to sight right after ignition but because of the low wind it landed just 15 feet or so from the launch controller table. I even found the motor later, while walking out to retrieve one of my rockets. It was a good day for him, made better when we went with the rocket crew to Dos Reales, a favored Mexican restaurant, and I let the boys have two bowls of cheese for their chips. Charles didn’t even complain after that about having to squeeze him in among all my rocket paraphernalia.

Corwin finds his Quark

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Friday 05 November 2010

Road trip!

Mom is taking the kids up to Chicago for an overnight trip. Charles and Alice are off school today and Corwin has just a half day. She’s been intending to go for a while but just couldn’t fit it in. She still can’t but the situation has become desperate. Mom’s primary goal is a place in the suburbs that can fix a power connector problem specific to Mom’s laptop. This has happened on her old one, that she gave to Corwin and her current one. The effect is that usually when you plug it in, it doesn’t actually get a power connection. This company claims they can fixs it in a couple of hours. Mom’s view is that a trip to Chicago with a couple of other things tossed in beats waiting a couple of weeks plus shipping costs to get them factory repaired.

She coerced Corwin in to going and bribed Alice with a trip to the Disney Store, and Charles with Lego™. Very sadly, I have a rocket launch tomorrow so I will have to stay home. Such is the price I pay for that kind of social work outreach. But I bear it with a stout heart.

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Thursday 04 November 2010

Big time music

Corwin went off to audition for the IMEA orchestra this year a couple of weeks back. I think it’s his first year but Mom finally wore him down. Corwin, however, cleverly managed to injure his pinky a few days beforehand so he couldn’t practice. Charles was very upset about this and I think he was seriously considering his own pinky injury.

Corwin did well, making it in to the orchestra which means he gets to stand up at the next concert for the middle school band, which as it turns out was tonight. Corwin, as you would expect, was thrilled.

Here is one of the songs played at the concert.

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Wednesday 03 November 2010

People vs. varmints

During Charles’ last week of soccer I was duped in to participating in two soccer games of parents vs. kids.

The first was an evening before Charles’ last soccer game when we played parents of the team vs. the team. The kids should have done well as there were 16 of them plus siblings and friends. But, as expected, they bunched up way too much and didn’t take advantage of their ability to outnumber the parents. After watching them for a bit I suggested to Charles that he try sneaking up on people. That is, when kid A is engaged with parent B in a one on on, don’t come in at A’s side — instead go around behind B and then dart in at appropriate moment, blind siding the parent. Charles actually managed this a couple of times but if the kids had adopted as a general strategy it would have made a big difference. In the end the parents won 5-2, after I an another goalie let a couple of shots in. I think we were subtle enough that the kids didn’t realize it.

Then that Saturday Josie’s family had Charles, Josie, and 3 other kids out on a soccer field to just play around. It ended up three adults (Josie Dad, Josie Mom, and me) against 5 or 6 kids. It was terrible — Corwin was playing for the kids and he’s actually pretty good at ball handling these days. Throw ins were hard because with one person as goalie, the throw in could only be thrown to one target who was naturally swarmed. But we played very forward and basically gave up on having a goalie and managed to eek out a 2-2 tie at which point it was clearly to dark to continue.

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Tuesday 02 November 2010

No touching time

For a while we have had to have the rule that no one is allowed physical contact with Mom while we are having dinner, otherwise Mom ends up entangled and nobody finishes eating. Lately, though, we have had to extend it to prohibit all physical contact as the kids started messing with each other when Mom wasn’t accessible. Then they started in on me — Alice in particular started dragging her foot over my leg. So Mom and I felt we had to issue a blanket prohibition. It’s definitely helped, although Corwin and Charles don’t seem to be able to keep their attention on their food. I am also trying to convince Corwin that my chair isn’t an appropriate place to rest his feet while I am sitting in it, and that when we have dinner I generally will be sitting in my chair. It frequently seems to be a surprise to him.

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Monday 01 November 2010

Tales from School


As vomit hits the classroom floor. A student just puked. (Duh.) He pukes 4 more times, not much time in between, Somebody thought he saw blood. But it was just normal vomit. The substitute teacher took everyone in to the hall and explained how puke was cleaned up.

[Dad sez: First, this is apparently what it takes to make Charles want to tell us what happened at school. Second, I think it should have been a hands on demonstration. Charles had been complaining on and off about his stomach hurting for a couple of days before hand, although he would switch from “oh, I can’t stand up it hurts” to laugh and running in the space of a few minutes. By the time he got home from this little incident he was a happy little boy, especially when he was able to describe the whole thing, in detail, during dinner. I tried to make him write it up for me but he accidentally erased a chunk of text and gave up, so the above is all I have. Then later, I found it the child in distress wasn’t Charles, but the kid next to him.]

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