Friday, August 22, 2014

Sunset Beach Minus The Sunset

I arrived with my family in Cape May for a weekend of fishing, fun and sun. Our first order of business was to head out to Sunset Beach. While the walk along the beach was perfect, and the ceremony honoring a veteran to lower the flag was moving, there wasn't exactly a sunset. Technically, the sun did set, but the overcast sky never gave way to brilliant colors. Oh well, the experience was still a terrific one.

Add to that a wonderful meal at Ugly Mug (good lord those are huge salads!) and the delicious ice cream, and it was a perfect night.

Tomorrow we head out for 4 hours of fishing. Should be an adventure!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Little Guerrilla Inspiration

Yes, it's essentially link bait. And yes, it's probably illegal. But these chalk quotes were just too clever, and dare I admit it, inspiring, to not stop and photograph while out on a run yesterday with David:

When I posted about a local improvised library my cousin, an urban planner, gave me a new term to describe that project: Tactical Urbanism. I've been waiting for an opportunity to use the term, and happily, the above photos just gave me permission to do so.

#inspirearlington #probablyanadcampaign #imokwiththat

More Shots From Above

Here's a couple more aerial photos from a recent flight we took:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Math to the Rescue: Fix a Wobbly Table

Speaking of using simple science to get out of jams, my Brother just sent me this handy (and entertaining) YouTube video: Use math to fix a wobbly table.

OK, it's not disarming a bomb with a paper clip, but it's still awfully impressive. And who knows, maybe it could save (or impress) your date!

Touchdown!

Speaking of photos and airplanes, Google Plus was kind enough to edit one of my recent aerial photos into something that looks halfway decent. Not bad considering the whole process was automatic:

I Can't Give This Book Away

A few months back I picked up a copy of Daniel, The Man and His Visions from the library's freebie cart. A few pages in, I learned that the book is written from a very Christian perspective. After reading an introductory chapter, I put the book aside. It just didn't hold my interest.

So, what to do with it? One day, after a missionary (if that's the term) came knocking on my door, a solution occurred to me: I'd just give it to the next person to stop by my house who wanted to talk Christianity (it doesn't happen often, but one of the joys of working from home, is that it does indeed happen). Today, I finally had my opportunity.

A nice lady and her son knocked on my door and offered me a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet. As she was preparing to walk away, I told her that I actually had something for her.

I explained the conundrum: I had picked up the book, but it wasn't for me. But maybe it would be for her?

She kindly told me she couldn't accept it. Oh, why is that? Is it because you're not allowed to accept gifts?

Nope, it's because she doesn't know the content of the book. She can't just take a random book and start reading it.

The irony was almost too rich: she goes around handing out pamphlets, asking for people to just take a few minutes to read something new, and she herself can't do the same thing.

That, my friends, is chutzpah.

I certainly don't mean any disrespect with the above story. And I've got no problem with nice old ladies knocking on my door to talk about the Bible. If anything, it's a wonderful exercise in Freedom of Religion and Speech.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A MacGyver Training Guide

I was leafing through some books from my Father-in-Law's z"l teaching days, when I came across a fun one: Science Activities With Simple Things by Howard R. Munson. It's a relatively short lab guide offering teachers dozens experiments for their students to try. As the name suggests, each experiment requires only 'simple things' such as paper cups, needles, milk cartons and other easy to find objects. Rather than being organized by subject area the book is organized by the materials themselves.

What does all this have to do with the greatest TV show ever produced? Well, as you know because you've watched MacGyver (wait, what? You haven't watched all the episodes? Stop what you're doing and do so now!), the premise of the show is that the hero saves the day using odds and ends he finds lying around. Exactly the kinds of odds and ends that this book puts to work.

Need to craft a scale? You'll need a rubber band and paper clip. Need a barometer? Collect up a straw, jar and balloon, and you're good to go. Thermometer? That just requires a jar, tube, and colored liquid. How about a steam engine or magnet powered motor? There are recipes for building those. Not to mention one for a record player and various musical instruments. And then there's my favorite: an astrolabe, which is intended by to used by students to share the locations of specific stars in the night sky.

And did you know a column of cups was stronger than a single cup? Or that you can boil water in a paper bag (this I did actually know).

Isn't science awesome?!

If you can master these experiments, you'll be pulling off hacks worthy of MacGyver himself.

And if I ever decided to write MacGyver fan fiction, I can totally see putting some of these experiments to use. Rubber bands and paper clips, here we come!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cows, Pirates and Stickers, Oh My!

Friday was a full day of playing for us and the kiddies. We started the day with a trip to Oxon Hill Farm. Between the animals and all the open space to run, the kids really enjoyed it. As luck would have it, we arrived just in time to help milk the cow. Dovid and Tzipora fearlessly stepped forward to give it a try, and both were successful (I've got an awesome action shot of Tzipora!). Chana petted the cow, but passed on the milking opportunity.

From the farm, we went home, regrouped, and then headed out again. This time, we picked up our friend's 3 kids, and the 8 of us headed to Annapolis. Our first stop was ice cream. Yum! And then on to the main attraction: Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. The 'Adventure' is an hour and 15 minute boat cruise that promised to turn the kids into pirates and the adults into deck loungers. Now we had quite a range of ages, from 3 up to 15, and I've got to say, it really worked!

The whole pirate experience was like an hour and a half of pirate improv. Before the kids even step foot on the boat, the experience begins. They get dressed up, get tattoos and have a talk-like-a-pirate short course. The adults who run the operation are as kid friendly as can be. They keep the script moving along, so nobody gets bored. The kids got to find a map and treasure, use water cannons against Pirate Pete and even found some Pirate Grog. The boat setup is such that the kids just have fun, and don't even know that they are following any safety procedures. There's basically one rule: no climbing. As long as the kids keep their feet on the deck, nothing too bad can happen to them.

I was amazed that the parents really could sit back and watch their kids play. For the right ages, this is definitely an outstanding thing to do.

On Saturday, I took the kids to shul, which they did great at. For Shabbat lunch we had my brother and sister-in-law come over, which let us have a breather while they played with the kids. Earlier in the week, I had produced a bag of spinach and asked if the kids wanted any. The answer was a resounding yes, because they had seen Popeye and knew the strength inducing properties of said green. At lunch, Dovid refused to eat the last two bites of his pasta salad. I asked if he'd eat it as a Popeye Sandwich, that is, wrapped up in spinach? For sure! And thus it was the first and only time in recorded history that spinach was used to get a kid to eat pasta, versus the other way around.

Speaking of meals, the last time we had the kids in town we gave them a sticker if they finished everything on their plate. We figured that they had outgrown this, but after our first meal, they wanted to know where their stickers were. Fine, we'll give them a sticker, but they'd have to do more than just finish their plate. Over time, the routine was enhanced until we had a theme song, yes an actual song, that the kids could recite to remember what they had to do to get their sticker (they had to help set the table, eat all gone, wait for everyone to finish before getting up and help clean up). Man, putting things to a song makes it so much more official, not to mention fun (instead of nudging, we just need to sing). I'm going to have to remember that. I should really record the song, so I can remember how it goes for next year. Chances are, they're going to want to hear it. (Side note: yes, we know making a kid eat everything on his plate can be a bad habit. However, the song didn't allow for "eat a sensible portion size" or "eat until you feel full." So we had to go simple.)

After lunch, we took a walk to the 'spikes' -- that's what the kids call the Air Force Memorial near our house. They watched airplanes, ran around and before we knew it, it was time to go home and get ready for bed.

Arrrrrrr matey, a fun couple of days for all!

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Mission Accomplished




The three kiddies are officially back with their Mommy and Daddy in Boston! The flight home was painless, especially considering we weren't on JetBlue, with their kid friendly TV screens.

Dovid played with Legos, Chana played with her parachute man and Tzipora caught up on her Skymall shopping.

What a week this has been! I've got more photos and stories to post. But for now, I'd like to focus on catching up on a week of lost sleep.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

More Kite Running, than Kite Flying

Yesterday seemed like a windy day, so we busted out the kite and hit the park.

In truth, we spent a lot more time running with the kite than actually flying it.

Not enough wind? Not the right kind of kite? Poor flying skills?

Don't know and doesn't matter. We had fun and the kids were exhausted when we finally called it a day. Still, I'm going to have to step up my kite flying skills.

Suggestions?

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