Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bowling for Jono's Birthday

Just like golf, the boys have a new interest in bowling that has surely been brought about by playing Wii Sports. So when we asked Jono if he wanted to go bowling for his birthday, the answer was an enthusiastic YES!

Gamma, Grandmommy, and the four of us loaded up the minivan and went to the bowling alley. We played two games and ate cheeseburgers. Gotta love that bowling alley food!

David was pretty good. He won the first game, but his mom, The M, beat us all on the second game. She is impressive. During the second game, she scored 5 strikes and 4 spares. Her score was 183. She said she wants to have her 40th birthday party at the bowling alley now. (That's not until next June.)

Jono had fun too and made good use of the pop-up rails available on some lanes. I shot some video and put them together in a little clip below. I added some great bowling music. Let me know what you think.

Golfing Birthday Cake: Jono Turns Eight

The family tradition around Orangehouse is that I bake the boys' birthday cakes based on the theme they suggest. In the past, I have made cakes in the shape of a volcano, a brontosaurus, Yoda, and a map of Central America, but haven't we all? Based on a new Wii-inspired interest in golf, I suggested that Jono's 8-year-old birthday cake be about golfing. He agreed. No, he did not grow a mustache at age 8. He is merely licking the bowl. You can see that while the cake was cooking, he got a haircut. Compare the pictures above and below.

Here we see the birthday boy and the golf cake! It has a fairway, a rough, a hole, a flag, and a ball. I got a ball out of my golf bag, washed it, and put a little antibacterial goo on it before plopping it in the green icing.

I cut the hole with a little round gizmo made for cooking eggs into little sandwich-ready hockey pucks. The rough is shredded coconut with green food coloring.

What other number golf ball can you have on your eighth birthday?

The M made me pose with my artwork.

After the "Happy Birthday" was sung and the candles were extinguished by a rapid and sudden increase in the oxygen-to-fuel mixture at their points of combustion, Jono either had a momentary migraine headache or an excitement-induced need to squeeze his head. In either case, it soon passed and we all ate delicious cake! Fore!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

We have been getting ready for Christmas since Saturday. We got a bit of a late start on account of life getting in the way.

I took this picture from the front yard of The M decorating the tree. The condensation on the windows made it look cool.

Jono has been so excited that he has slept by the Christmas tree for the last few nights. He is playing a video game which illuminates his face.

I left the lights on all night for him.

Their stockings were hung by the chimney with care, a triangular caution sign, and road-side flare.

This one isn't really Christmasy but I like it. David is reading a lot over the Christmas break, and he just got a new stack of library books (on the table).

The Brain/Computer Interface

This is a fascinating 60 Minutes story about research being done to give paralytics more freedom, mobility, and independence. It's borderline science fiction. You won't be disappointed.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Favorite Commercial

This is one of my all-time favorite commercials. It makes me laugh every time. I recently found it on YouTube. The dancers are so completely different, yet both are absurd. And the timing of the music, the dialog, and the closing of the flip phone - it's just hilarious. Tell me your favorite commercial and link to it on YouTube in your response!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hannah and her sister Ryan

Yesterday was commencement at Baylor and several of my student friends began a new chapter in their lives. Anna, Brittany, Chris, Elisa, and Ryan, all of whom you will find stories about on this blog, received their degrees yesterday. Among the five of them, they got two undergraduate degrees, and five Masters degrees. Slackers.

I also got to meet Brittany's family for the first time, and also Ryan's. They were delightful, all. Hannah, Ryan's sister, was also there. She is a "follower" of this blog and one of only a handful that I had not yet met in person. Being a follower means you pay an exorbitant fee to get little notifications when I post something new. It also means, and this is the best part, that you get to display a little icon image to represent yourself - right on my blog! I love the followers feature, and every so often some new sucker - I mean connoisseur of blogospheric literature - will become a follower, much to the delight of my virtual ego.

Hannah's icon is just a gray silhouette like some anonymous turncoat in the federal witness protection program. Until yesterday, I figured that either she: A) had a secret identity that required her continual anonymity, like a super hero or an under cover narc, or B) she really was just a gray silhouette. Turns out it's neither.

At this point you might expect me to explain WHY she hasn’t posted a photo, or an avatar, or a little piece of clip art, or something. That would be the natural progression of the preceding paragraphs, the climax of the story, the big belch after guzzling a soda, the shinny new bicycle brought out of the back room on Christmas morning after all the other lesser presents had been opened, etc. etc..

But then you might not check the blog tomorrow to find out...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wind Turbine Project Part 12 (blades are finished)

Why would you carve wooden blades by hand from a 2 x 6? That's just crazy. If you are building a wind turbine, can't you purchase blades, or mold them from fiberglass, or make them out of some high-tech carbon fiber?

The wind turbine Engineers with a Mission is building for the World Hunger Relief farm, however, is meant to be a demonstration of so-called "appropriate technology". What I mean by that is technology that doesn't fart in public. No, wait... I mean technology that is appropriate for the culture in which it is to be used. Since our long-term goal is to deploy small wind turbines in developing countries, we need to keep in mind the types of tools and materials that are available in these places. To be "appropriate", people must be able to repair, replace, and afford them in places like, Uganda, for instance, which makes carbon fibers "inappropriate" and likely to remain single indefinitely.

Here is where the students tell me that you need more than three blades and wind to make electricity. What ev.

Eduardo, Greg, David, and I are truly men out standing in their field. Get it?

The blades were Greg's project. He did an excellent job. I tried not to drop them! We had to pose like this for some photographers that were doing a PR piece. It felt really corny to stand there like this, but I think the picture came out pretty good.

This is the World Hunger Relief's "Nicaragua House". It is built in the style of Habitat for Humanity houses in rural parts of Central America. Right now, some unlucky WHR interns live there under many blankets and near the wood-burning stove. They have no electricity there, so we intend to use the power from the wind turbine to make the interns' lives a little better. If it blows hard enough, he may even be able to use an electric blanket!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wii Member

The boys saved up there money and bought a Wii over the Thanksgiving holiday. I was resistant. I know what happens. I had heard the interviews of the successful children of immigrants and how they attributed their perfect SAT scores to not playing video games like their slacker peers. I don't want my kids to numb their minds on interminable hours of graphic violence and thinly veiled sexual innuendo. I had already made up my mind regarding video games and was firmly convinced that they are a plot to rot the minds of American children by Japanese executives bent on world domination.

But then I tried it.

It's kinda fun! The Wii system came with "Wii Sports" which has bowling, golf, tennis, boxing, and baseball games. The boys loved it, and I too took pleasure from the crack of the bat; the vibrating, noise-making remote; and the blood thirsty pounding of armless boxing matches. What have I become? Sore, that's what. And a Wii bit less judgemental.

All this Wii tennis and Wii boxing and Wii baseball has left me Wii-ly wiped. I think I pulled a Wii hamey. I got Wii tennis elbow. I am pathetic.