Wednesday, October 31, 2012

That Time David Saved Halloween

Shira and I thought we had Halloween under control for our 7 year old. We had a costume he loved, the Black Ninja, and was comfortable to wear (minus the silly scarf covering the mouth - yeah, not practical). I used my experience growing up in frigid Rochester, NY to make sure he was wearing plenty of layers *under* his costume so he wouldn't have to cover it up with a bulky jacket.

We used Hurricane Sandy as the perfect excuse to do pumpkin carving, and along with my Dad's (or was it David's?) and Maryn's handy work, we had 4 most excellent pumpkins:

(A few key points to brag about: our 7 year old colored in the perfect mustache on my pumpkin, and it was his idea to add the bow tie to his. Maryn's pumpkin, is an amazing match for Elmo, which she did freehand. My Dad's pumpkin was expertly executed from a pattern)

David insisted that I pick up an absurd amount of candy from Cost Co so we would be ready for any number of kids, and could be especially generous with them.

All that was left do was go out and do the Trick-or-Treating.

My assumption was that at 6pm (it was just about dark), David, our 7 year old and I would hit our neighborhood and that would be that. After all, growing up, our neighborhood was a hotbed of Halloween activity, with hundreds of kids running from house to house. Surely that's how all neighborhoods are, right?

Wrong. As we started off, we quickly found that there just weren't that many houses that looked alive and interested in accepting Trick-or-Treaters. Sure, we were collecting some candy, but the mood was hardly the rambunctious one that David and I recall growing up. In fact, given the number of dark houses and lack of fellow Trick-or-Treaters, it was actually kinda creepy strolling through the neighborhood.

David had a solution, though. We just needed to jump in the the car, find a hopping neighborhood and tackle that one. I just couldn't see that working. Luckily, I ignored my instincts, and we made our way back to the house and into the car.

We set off for a somewhat random'ish neighborhood in South Arlington, and before we knew it, we found a street that had some life. There two houses that had extensive decorations, and a Dad along with his kids making the rounds. What the heck, we thought, let's give it a try.

After about 15 minutes, the street was crawling with kids, and that Halloween excitement was back! David's suggestion turned out to be just what we needed.

When we returned, Shira was in charge of sorting and accounting for candy. It's a difficult job, but someone has to do it.

All in all, we had a most successful night. And best of all, we know the neighborhood to start in next year.

Here's the Black Ninja himself, getting his Trick-r-Treat on...

Useful Object of the Day: Olive Oil

I was making my way through New Uses for Old Things, and was surprised to read such high praise of Olive Oil as a multi purpose tool.

I guess this makes some sense, as Olive Oil is edible so it can be used on and near your skin, and yet is an oil so it can be used as an improvised WD-40.

Some of my favorite uses:

  • To shave with, rather than shaving cream. A bottle of olive oil should be much more compact than shaving cream. Perfect for travel.
  • To unstick zippers and basically act as a lubricant
  • As a shoe polish alternative
  • As an improvised moisturizer
  • As lamp fuel. If you've got an orange lying around, you can use it and some olive oil to quickly make a lamp.

There are, of course, lots more uses (including curing ear infections and getting rid of lice!).

I couldn't resist taking a few minutes and fashioning a quick olive oil lamp. It was surprisingly easy. I used the bottom of a soda can to hold the fuel, tiny binder slips to hold the wick in place and a tightly wound bit of paper towel as wick. See:

I placed the setup in a Pyrex measuring cup and had a functional and portable lantern. A little splash of olive oil lasted about 40 minutes.

Definitely an impressive tool. I'm going to have to add a few ounces to my Dopp Kit, and see how I can put this all to use on the road.

Some Kindle Fire HD Observations

This last weekend my parents were in visiting, and my Mom brought her brand new Kind Fire HD. While I didn't get to play with it a lot, I did manage to make a few observations:

  • As a programmer, I can see the setup process was relatively streamlined. Yet, I'm glad I was there to help my Mom make it through the whole process. Had she been doing it solo, I'm not sure how easy it would have been.
  • Quality wise, the device is excellent. It looks and feels quite polished.
  • The naming is awfully confusing. Amazon has successfully educated my Mom (and I assume others) that a Kindle is for reading books. I surprised her when I explained she could Skype and run other apps from it. It was certainly a pleasant surprise, but a surprise none the less.
  • Overdrive was easy to setup, and my Mom quickly figured out how to rent and read books from her local library. Free books from authors she wants to read -- this was perfect. This is definitely her first killer app on the device. It also made me especially happy to know that she could make good use of the device without being forced to purchase stuff (be it books or other content).
  • Skype works well on the device. The lack of a forward facing camera was the reason we held off on getting her the first edition of the Kindle Fire. I'm glad we waited.
  • I thought the Fire would be an especially useful device for my Mom because she doesn't have an Android Smart Phone. Now she has a platform to run Android apps from, and she doesn't need to give up her well-understood text'ing friendly cell phone.
  • I didn't play with the device long enough to see any negatives. Especially when you consider the relatively low cost of the device, there's an awful lot to like.

Any observations you'd like to share?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Favorite Piece of Hurricane Sandy Gear

I'm pleased to say we made it through Hurricane Sandy unscathed. There was a whole lot of wind and rain, but for us personally, not a whole lot of impact. The extent of our storm cleanup consisted of me picking up our trash cans that had gotten blown over.

We did, however, lose power last night as were heading off to bed. When I awoke, the power was back on and the wind had died down.

The power outage was short, but it did enlighten me to my favorite piece of gear for this storm: glow sticks. Specifically the 8" rope kind that's meant to be worn by kids as a bracelet or combined to form a necklace.

Whenever the power goes out at night, even if I have a flashlight at the ready (which I did last night), I'm always amazed at just how dark the house is. Between nightlights and lots of devices with glowing LED's, there's a fair bit of ambient light that's always present. When the power goes, so does ever last bit of light.

By snapping 8 different lights to life, I was able to drop them strategically around the up stairs - be it in near the toilet, sink or just a few in the hallway to light the way for our 7 year old. The result was a nice glow that made getting around much easier.

This morning I considered ordering some real chem lights, but I'm actually thinking the toy ones worked better. First off, having a large quantity (*100* for $9.00) means that it's a no brainer to bust out a handful, and the low light production means they work as night lights.

How about yourself - any gear make getting through the storm less painful?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for Hurricane Sandy

We're just hanging out, waiting for Sandy to show up. It's been raining steadily since last night and the wind seems to be picking up. A few minutes ago, we received this surprisingly frank e-mail from Arlington Alert:

Hurricane Sandy is about to get worse.

Think of the derecho storm with high winds in June that lasted 24 minutes. The winds we’re about to experience beginning this afternoon are like the derecho, but they will last for 24 hours.

To paraphrase: Instead of 24 minutes of dangerous winds, it will be 24 hours of dangerous conditions.

This is about to get real.

Some photos from our morning as we waited...

Our little guy (with some help from me) put together a house castle for his latest stuffed pet, Rex (thanks Mom!). Shira baked bread. David made a chollent. And I went from the back of the house to the front of the house snapping photos. Hopefully these will be uneventful "before" photos.

Everything is closed, yet mail showed up in our mailbox today. Well done US Post Office, well done.


From design to full execution:


What are the odds that the power stays on long enough for the chollent to cook all the way through? At least we'll have fresh bread throughout this event.


Apparently, you can add "hurricane" to the list of things that won't slow down the post office:

Stay safe. Stay dry.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Arlington meeting Sandy - Not as freaked out as I'd expect

I'm actually a little surprised how calm the folks in the region seem to be. I usually use the bread isle at Giant as a measure of how scared folks are, and there was still an impressive selection at 4pm today.

Earlier today at Cost Co nobody was hoarding batteries or flashlights (not to mention 40lb bags of rice) -- people just seemed to be doing their normal Sunday thing.

So folks are either prepared for Sandy and ready to take her in stride, or they are completely ignorant. Seriously, I've seen more tension from a few inches of snow than I have for this massive and unprecedented storm.

Right now, my biggest stressor is that school and work is closed tomorrow, and I've got code I was hoping to work on. With folks around the house that probably won't happen. Ahhh, the joy of

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dental Floss Hacks, Prison Edition

Knowing my appreciation of Dental Floss Shira passed me this article: Jailers worry about dental floss as a weapon:

Experts say floss, or the plastic holder it sometimes comes in, has been used to strangle enemies, to escape, to saw through bars, to pick handcuffs, to make a hand grip on a shank and to hoist contraband from one level of cells to another.

"These inmates can make a weapon out of a chewing gum wrapper," said Steven Kayser, whose company sells a floss product advertised as prison-safe. "Floss is right up there on the danger list."

I remember the first time I saw someone list dental floss in their EDC and thinking it was some kind of joke. Given enough time and floss, even an 18 foot wall can't stand in your way:

In 1994, Robert Shepard used a floss rope braided as a telephone cord to scale an 18-foot wall at the South Central Regional Jail in West Virginia. He was on the lam for about five weeks. He was already being disciplined for scraping away the mortar between bricks in his cell.

One practical tip from the article: apparently the waxed stuff is the stronger variety. Good to know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Kum Long Point Pencil Sharpener

I never really gave much thought to pencil sharpeners. That is until we had a 7 year old come to live with us. At that point, #2 pencils became an essential home work imlement (oh, the joy of being able to erase!), and quickly there after we needed a way to keep them sharp.

I naively assumed that any old sharpener would do. Oh how wrong I was. The random sharpeners around, and even the one that came in the Boy's School Supply kit, were all unimpressive. I'd find myself grinding away with some random sharpener, and before I knew it, the pencil was half the size it had started, and still no closer to being usable.

Shira apparently picked up on this, and unbeknownst to me, purchased a Kum Long Point pencil sharpener from Amazon. While it looks sort of new age, it didn't really perform any better than any other sharpeners we had lying around.

Then one day it hit me -- the "1" and "2" next to the sharpening holes weren't for two different size pencils. They were for two different stages of sharpening!.

I fed a pencil into stage one, careful to stop when the lead hit the "stop" label.

Then I cranked it through stage two. It didn't appear to be doing much, but I played along.

To my shock, I pulled out the pencil and found a razor sharp point. And to my joy, I found that I could repeat the process with any old pencil we had lying around. And not only that, but the setup is quite efficient, requiring just a few turns in each spot to get the desired shape.

So there you have it, a pencil sharpener so impressive it can prompt me to write a review and includes words like "joy" and "efficient." That means it has to be good.

So if you find yourself dwelling on dull pencils, have a got a solution for you! Bonus: it's compact, non-electric and relatively inexpensive.

I can't resist sharing at least one picture...

Caption Me - Walking to the Bus Stop Edition

I love that we're now catching the tail end of sunrise on our way to the bus stop. Sure, it's getting chillier in the morning, but the light show makes it worth it.

I'm tempted to to start bringing my DSLR to capture what I'm seeing, but for today my Android myTouch 4G had to do:

So, nu - what's the caption for this guy?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Making A $2.00 Write Anywhere Nano-Sized Pen

This weekend I picked up a Listo Pencil for $2.00 at my favorite variety store. The Listo is a marking pencil, sort of like a grease pencil. Like a crayon, it'll write on nearly anything - paper, plastic, metal, wood, etc. It's not particularly permanent, but that can be a good thing too.

Naturally, I couldn't resist taking the pencil apart to see the guts, and realized that the "lead" is relatively small. That got me thinking, could I turn this guy into super compact writing implement?

Here's what I did:

  1. Popped out the pencil lead
  2. Cut a piece of plastic straw the same length of the lead
  3. Sliced the plastic straw lengthwise
  4. Slid the lead into the straw
  5. Wrapped the straw tightly around the lead
  6. Every so gently, took a lit lighter to the straw, melting and sealing snipped seam of the straw (my gosh that melts quickly!)

Here's a few snapshots of the process:

The whole process took less than 8 minutes to do, and the result is amazingly usable.

To finish off the project, I grabbed a few index cards and cut them to fit my Urban Survival Kit. The cards and pencil effortlessly fit in the kit:

As hacks go, I'm especially pleased with this one. Now I've got this handy write-anywhere pen on me whenever I grab my Altoids Tin (which is whenever I've got pocket space for it). And $2.00 is actually the high end for this project, apparently I can buy a box of 72 Listo refills for $9.00, which means that these can be made for about $0.13 each.

A Halloween Idea - Braincandy!

I do love a lightweight crowd sourced art project, and last night it hit me that we could do an easy one for Halloween. Here's how it would work:

  • Pick up a whole bunch of tiny Playdoh containers (ideally from the dollar store, but Amazon would do too)
  • Print out a series of small labels that say something like:
    How about some candy for your brain? Make something great using this Playdoh and other supplies you can find around the house. and have your parents send a picture of it to: braincandy2012@gmail.com. See what others have created and learn more at braincandy2012.tumblr.com. Share your creation, and view what others have made at braincandy2012 tasty-braincandy.tumblr.com.
    -Ben (Contact.Ben.Simon@gmail.com)
  • Apply a label to each small container of Playdoh
  • Come Halloween night, hand out candy and a Playdoh container to teach kid
  • Sit back and watch the creativity burst forth!

Simple enough, right?

I probably won't go through with it, though. There's just something creepy about the whole thing - right?

Still, I do feel like I'm missing out on an opportunity to think outside the box here...

Update: Reworded the label text, taking out the e-mail request. That seems to tone down the creepiness a bit. I believe Tumblr allows for user submitted content easily enough, so the project would still be easy enough to put together.

Update: No need to include 2012 in the URL. And while I'm at it, why not reserve space in case I want to actually go through with this idea.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike

Everything you think you know about riding your bike is wrong. Everything. At least that's what the thesis of Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike by Grant Petersen appears to be.

The ultralight bike isn't better. You don't need special bike shorts or shoes. You have too many gears. Forget being predictable, you want safety? Ride like a wobbly newbie. Petersen even makes a case for leaving your bike helmet at home.

The theme of the book is that the biking industry encourages people to emulate a Tour De France rider, which for most people is a costly and uncomfortable mistake. You should ride for comfort and utility, not to eek out miles and save seconds. And this book can help you do it.

I found the whole perspective to be quite refreshing and I think the advice will help make the kind of riding I actually do more pleasant. If you're getting back into riding, or feel like you've gotten off course, this is the book to read. If you get a thrill from playing weekend racer, you should probably skip it -- you'll probably just find yourself yelling at the text.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Xmarks: The Cause Of, And Solution To, All My Bookmarking Woes

Last Friday afternoon I noticed that the bookmark toolbar on one of my browsers was empty. It's usually filled with essential links. No problem I think, I must have just hidden it or something.

By Sunday, I notice I now have two problems: (a) the bookmarks aren't hidden, they are *gone* and (b) thanks to the magical power of Xmarks, they are gone on every browser instance and laptop I own.

This is seriously not good news.

I have no idea how I managed to delete all my bookmarks without noticing. And usually Xmarks complains when a big change (like hundreds of bookmarks disappearing) occurs.

Apparently the synchronization system worked too well, and I managed to replicate my goof all over the place.

It was at this point that Shira offered me the classic advice one receives in a computer crash scenario: "you know, you really should back up your bookmarks so this doesn't happen." Yeah, thanks babe. Solid advice.

All hope wasn't lost though. An account of mine on Shira's laptop hadn't been accessed in a while, so it didn't auto-sync itself to destruction. I disabled wifi from the laptop (so it wouldn't perform a sync without me knowing it) and instructed Xmarks to re-launch the wizard. While doing this I had the option to drop my server bookmarks and load the ones I'd saved locally.

Disaster averted.

I then logged into Xmarks to see how I could perform a backup. Turns out, you can't.

Not because they the system isn't full featured, but because you don't need to. By accessing: My Bookmarks > Tools > Explore & Restore Old Bookmarks..., I was able to see nearly every change to my bookmarks since 6/11/2010 and trivially restore any of those versions.

Well what do you know, Xmarks totally amazes me again. Not only do they provide a seamless bookmark solution, but they make recovering from a massive mixup almost trivial to do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not Exactly a Kodak Moment

I was peeking at Mitt Romney's flickr stream and came across this photo:

Am I missing something, or is this a photo he probably doesn't want in his stream? Seriously, shouldn't the person who posts these photos, read them too?

For more Romney goofiness, check out these sites. The second one is especially clever.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Date Night, Georgetown Edition

Shira and I had Date Night tonight - we went all out and arranged for a sitter and made our way to D.C.

After take a pleasant stroll through Georgetown (which was surprisingly quiet), we hit upon Harmony Cafe. I suffered a massive case of menu analysis-paralysis, as nearly everything they offer can be made in a vegetarian form, and it all looked great. What a hidden gem, and so close to Arlington.

After dinner, I gorged myself on Pinkberry and it was time to call it an evening.

Date-wise, I think I did OK. I lost points for slurping my soup, but surely I had witty banter to make up for it? Yeah, probably not.

Here's a tip: pull into Georgetown at 6:29pm on a weeknight. At 6:30pm, the on street parking is available and plentiful. I assume by 6:34pm it's all gone.

I grabbed a few photos as we stepped out of our car. What a wonderful night. I'm definitely calling this chick back, I've got a feeling about this one.

Great Country Farms - Fantastic Fun on the Farm

This last Sunday we hit Great County Farms for pumpkin picking and general all around play time with our friends Lauren, Nick and Aurora. The kids (and adults) got to climb on various structures ranging from playground equipment to retired tractors, watch pig races, run through mazes, gape at various farm animals, and generally goof off - it was great fun.

The donuts and massive bag of kettle corn didn't hurt the experience any, either.

The entry fee was a bit steeper than I might have guessed (costing around $10 each for myself, Shira and our 7 year old). But there was quite a bit to do, and it felt right supporting a local farm, rather than some multinational conglomerate. Definitely worth it.

If you're looking for a way to get outside and have your kids burn some energy, this is an excellent way to do it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gotcha of the Day: Finding sane logcat settings for PhoneGap on Android

I'm loving PhoneGap on Android. I'm also loving that I can peek into the logs and catch errors by using adb.exe's logcat option.

What I wasn't loving was that just kicking off adb.exe logcat resulted in a tidal wave r of information, most of which I couldn't care less about.

One solution I've found is to use the following logcat filter specification:

 adb.exe logcat Cordova:* DroidGap:* CordovaLog:* *:S

Seems to show me just the relevant information.

I wouldn't be surprised if I was missing additional tags to monitor - if you know of any, I'd love to add them in. Otherwise, I'll update this as I gain more experience with PhoneGap.

Tastes Even Better Than They Look

Two nights ago, Shira had a craving to do some baking, and before I know it I had a few trays of Mini Peanut Butter Brownies in front of me:

Mmmmm....chocolate and peanut butter goodness!

Not that there was really any doubt, but I'm glad to report: this recipe is a winner, and is highly recommended.

Friday, October 12, 2012

6 Clever Hacks from BikeHacks.com

As long as I'm on the theme of biking, I might as well continue to run with it, no?

Today I tripped over BikeHacks.com and found a number of clever suggestions. Here were my favorites:

The last item may not exactly be a DIY project you plan to attempt yourself, but a good hack is a good hack.

It really is amazing to consider what you can do with a few zip ties and some duct tape. I'm really going to have to think twice before I toss an interestingly shaped container.

Now, if only there was a hack that could buy me more riding time....

Bike Overnight (S24O) Ideas From DC

Last week, Shira and I did a nice long bike ride from our house to the Anacostia River Trail. While riding along, I couldn't help but wonder what trip I could drag Shira along if we had time for an overnight?

Here are some ideas Googling turned up...

Between the weather, our schedule and other factors, we're almost certainly not taking one of these adventures any time soon. Still, I'm always a fan of having plans at the ready so I can nudge Shira into taking them at a moment's notice.

Or as I like to say, I never want to miss an opportunity to over do it.

Have any S240O ideas for the DC region? I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yet Another Drawing Resource

In my ongoing quest to learn to draw, I found this instructional video helpful:

I love how the drawing is built up and corrected as the artist goes, rather than attempting to "get it right the first time." As a programmer, I often write software this way, so I can relate.

Not sure you can "draw anything" after watching this video, but I'd say it's inspired me to go out and get a charcoal pencil and play with the technique.

Review: What The Robin Knows

What the Robin Knows by Jon Young is built on two interesting premises:

  1. Birds are excellent observers. A lazy or non-observant bird is a dead bird. After all, their principle defense is flight.
  2. Birds are relatively easy to observe. Unlike most animals in the wilderness, birds are often easy to detect - if only by their songs.

The book then puts these ideas together and suggests: if you can learn to observe birds, then you'll be able to leverage their extraordinary observation skills to gain insights into the rest of nature.

Between Boy Scouts and my general love of the outdoors I've never considered this. Yet it's a delightful concept.

Young gives practical ideas for learning bird language and behavior and suggests how it can be used. And best of all, you can do it nearly any place, be it a secluded part of the woods or your back deck. Ideally you'd return to the same location day after day to translate what appears to be random behavior into anything but.

For me, this book is less about becoming a bird language aficionado, and more about reconsidering a walk in the woods. Instead of traipsing through without a care in the world (or worse yet, solely focused on covering miles), Young gives an alternative approach one based on taking your time and listening for clues as you go.

If you're looking for a fresh perspective on the outdoors, this book definitely offers it.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games

A few nights back, I finish some hacking at 2am and for the life of me, can't get to sleep. I decide that listening to an audio book might be just the thing to relax me and get me to drift off to dreamland. I bring up OverDrive and start browsing my local library's collection. I notice The Hunger Games, and having seen the trailer for the movie, decide to give it a try.

The effort is a flop. At 3am, I'm still wide awake, more or less riveted to the story.

Part of me wishes I could scoff at this book and criticize it for being popular trash. Alas, I can't. I have to admit (though the anit-mainstream hipster wanna be in me doesn't), it was a very good read.

I like how the characters surprised me with their unexpected strengths. I like the action. I liked the problem solving. I liked the Boy Scout / Wilderness Survival skills on display I liked the mental games that a dystopia causes you to play (how would I survive? How can a society treat it's population so terribly, yet continue to exist?). I could have done without some of the 14 year old girl emotional schmaltz, but given all the other pleasant parts of this book, I can forgive the author (and oh yeah, it's written for teenagers).

In some ways (and I'm sure this is heretical to say), I found myself enjoying this book much like I did Dune. The characters are likable, the adventures solid, and the action non-stop.

I can see how some might be concerned about letting kids read this book. Topics and issues covered are quite adult. I certainly wouldn't want our 7 year old to have anything to do with this. When he's deep into his teens, I'm all for having him read it, and then we can have a spirited discussion about how dystopias can manage to continue and what his strategy may have been in The Games.

All in all, a great read.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Power Of Low-Fi Media

Earlier this week, Shira brought home a CD filled with recordings she had extracted from her work voice mail (the folks at her office were kind enough to do this). The voice mails are pretty ridiculous. Here's an example:

What you just listened to was me coaching our one year old foster son through the process of leaving a voice mail for Shira. He was still new to this whole speaking thing, so while he gives it his best try not much comes out. Add to that that I'm talking at my usual super-fast clip, so how did I imagine he was going to keep up.

To most folks, this will be annoying chatter. But to me and Shira, it brings back a flood of memories from those days.

I hadn't even remembered leaving those messages.

The lesson I took away: never underestimate the power of low-fi media. Be it camera phone snapshots, voice mails, YouTube videos, or any other casual recording. Capture them often, you'll be glad you did.

The Brilliance of Mini Photo Sessions

Our friend and go-to photographer, Erin passed us information about a promotion she's highlighting for the holidays: mini sessions. And what's a mini session?

A mini-session is photo shoot that is usually 20 minutes in length and has a theme (such as my holiday mini-session on November 10-12). The photo shoots are conducted at locations, dates, and times of the photographer's choice. The shoot usually includes fewer proof options than a full shoot, but a few products are included and it is typically offfered at a discounted rate because the photographer does not have to drive to multiple locations in that given time period. The picture quality and professional editing and printing are exactly the same as a full customized shoot.

Now, perhaps this is an industry standard offering, but I've got to say, it's a brilliant and innovative idea. You get high quality photos, shot on location, and she gets to optimize the whole process so it's less expensive for all. Seems exactly like the kind of move an entrepreneur can do and that a bigger operation wouldn't be agile enough to pull off.

With a business like photography (or, say, writing custom software), I think it's easy to fall into the trap of doing what everyone has done and always will do. But I think it's exactly these innovations where smaller businesses can shine.

In other words, ionnovate, or die.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tiny Space Design - Boat Edition

I love examples of small space design. So naturally, I appreciate this make over of a house boat:

There's just something powerful about taking what you have and making it work, rather than pining after something bigger and (seemingly) better.

Via: ImprovisedLife.com

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Boston Adventure - 2 Adults, 4 Kids, Total Exhaustion

What an adventure we had this last weekend! Sukkot arrived before I could blog it, but now that I'm back online I can share.

This last weekend, Shira, our 7 year old, I flew up to Boston to spend a weekend with Chana, Dovid and Tzipora (aka, the Twinners+1). Rather than stay with my sister-in-law, we thought we'd give our little guy a taste of Downtown Boston for the weekend. So, the 6 of us stayed in a junior suite in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Friday afternoon we toured the USS Constitution, Saturday we visited the Science Museum and North Point Park, and Sunday we basically packed up and got on a plane.

Shira and I are seriously out of practice with the toddler mindset. Our 7 year old has truly spoiled us, what with his attention span and ability to follow instructions (like, "Hey, don't go under that rope!"). Man, did we get some serious running in as we chased the kids around both the ship and museum. Luckily, the playground at North Point was mostly fenced in (of course, the kids found a way out), so we got a bit of a respite there.

Our little guy did great, doing everything from leading them in imaginary adventures on the playground (they spent quite some time chasing pirate treasure) to tying shoes in the hotel room. And perhaps most amazingly, we managed to get everyone to sleep (including us!) by about 8pm both nights.

It really was a fantastic time, and I continue to be impressed by all that Boston has to offer. The Museum of Science was top notch (though there butterfly area was on the smaller side), and I'm quite certain myself and our 7 year old could have gotten lost in there for hours. North Point park doesn't get much of a mention on the web, but was beautiful, had excellent playground facilities and was an easy walk from the museum.

Here are some photos from the weekend:

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