Friday, June 24, 2016

Toward Summer

BUSY WEEK: I'm behind on the blog because we've had a super busy week. 

The kids' last official day of classes for spring/summer of 2016 was Thursday. That meant party time. And that meant food. 

Watermelon's a good intro-to-summer food. ...
But that's too boring. So how about watermelon pizza?

We topped watermelon slices with coconut 'cheese,' cherry fruit leather pepperoni, and raisin 'olives.' 
We took five to the party today. They were about 8 inches across. We had enough toppings left over to make a couple more pizzas tonight, so we offered them up on our Buy Nothing neighborhood group and got to play pizza delivery people. Fun! 

We delivered one pizza last night, and two this morning at 7:40 a.m. This morning's delivery went to a preschool, where the children got a big kick out of them, it's reported.

BREWERS:  In other news, our first kombucha/science project was finally ready for debut. For the past 10 days, the growlers holding the brewing kombucha were topped with coffee filters. Ironically, the SCOBY, a mix of cultures of bacteria and yeast, inside each vessel also looked like a coffee filter, in a way. 
I love everything about kombucha, but I'm kind of afraid of it in a way. I sure wouldn't drink a 'normal' glass of water sitting on my countertop for 10 days. Dare we drink this stuff?
Hope so! CJ and Annabelle each enjoyed a rootbeer flavored home brewed kombucha last night and lived to tell about it, and I drank some this morning and don't feel any worse for the wear, so I guess it's OK!

BEADY EYED: This week, Annabelle finished a special bead project for a special person. It depicts a scene from one of the recipient's favorite video games, which includes a cat named Conductor Whiskers driving a train. Atop the train, Annabelle added the recipient's real life cat.
Overall, the project used about 6200 tiny beads, each which had to be hand-placed.

COOL:  Wednesday afternoon, the kids attended a special science-themed presentation by a gentleman from SubZero Ice Cream, a chain that uses nitrogen to freeze their creations. 
There was lots of 'smoke' and even an explosion (a big balloon).  
The kids learrned lots about nitrogen, and enjoyed some tasty ice cream. 

THE WAIT IS OVER: Way back in June of 2015, CJ pre-ordered a video game, "Mighty No.  9," from the creator of the Mega Man series. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like it was worth the wait. I'll let CJ tell you more about it ...
On June 21st, Mighty No. 9, the highly anticipated spiritual successor to the Mega Man series, finally came out. Both series are the brainchild of Keiji Inafune, a Japanese video game developer. Keiji, after working at Capcom for almost 25 years, left the company in 2010. However, Capcom kept the rights to the Mega Man franchise, and used their IP poorly. Keiji decided to make his own company, Comcept, and work on a spiritual successor to the Mega Man series. After $4,000,000 spent on the project, 3 development teams (Comcept, Inti Creates, Deep Silver), 3 years in the making, and loads of hype... It's not all that great.
MN9's unfortunately slow-paced plot sounds like this: There are 9 androids created by a man named Dr. White. They are known as the "Mighty Numbers". In order, they are Pyrogen, Cryosphere, Dynatron, Seismic, Battalion, Aviator, Brandish, Countershade, and Beck. However, all of them except Beck are infected with a mysterious virus (read: Maverick Virus), and Beck has to stop them. Mighty No. 9 suffers from poor graphics reminiscent of the PS2 and an unappealing aesthetic. Mighty No. 9 also suffers from a choppy framerate, which can make it seem as though characters are teleporting (not as nice as it sounds). As I mentioned earlier, MN9's story takes longer than it should to unfold. This is particularly troublesome in the intro stage, where you will likely spend more time listening to characters providing exposition than you will actually playing the game.
I haven't watched much of the game play, but I can honestly say the trailer is one of the worst things EVAR in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Computers, Cannabis and Classes

WAYBACK MACHINES: Saturday afternoon, we took at trip to one of our favorite spots in Seattle, the Living Computer Museum. 

We were attending a members only open house, which gave us a sneak preview to major renovations on their first floor, along with special access to complimentary snacks. ;) 

CJ enjoyed playing Donkey Kong on a couple of throwback platforms.

 Annabelle tried to coax Ghostbusters to load on the Amstrad CPC-464, but after waiting way beyond the 5 minutes (!) loading time, she abandoned ship.
 As cool as the computers are at LCM, CJ always makes it a point to visit their on-site library.
He's been hankering after the book he's holding for a couple of years now. We finally bought him a copy in the gift shop upon leaving.

Loved this vintage Peanuts poster on display near the library.
 I played a game or two during the visit, including a super old, text-only based Star Trek game.
The Klingons got the best of me, unfortunately. I was just happy I kinda sorta figured out how to play the entirely text-based game with hardly any instructions and zero experience.

GREEN WAY: This afternoon we took a stroll, weaving our way through nearby alleys. Before too long, we found ourselves in a hemp forest ... 
This neighbor has had hemp growing in their backyard for a few years. This year's garden is a bit more ambitious, though, and they've certainly upgraded their signage!

Interesting to learn that the laws for 'farming' hemp are changing a week from today. Our neighbors are ahead of their time!

FINALES: This morning, CJ's drama class had their year-end presentation. It consisted of a series of improv skits by pairs of students. Each and every one was entertaining.

The kids also had their last social issues class of the year. The students each shared a sweet sentiment or image on a page, which we bound into a keepsake book. Christian made the wood cover for covering the pages out of wood paneling we had.

The kids and I found the neat metal sentiment we glued to the cover at a local craft store. It fit the journey the class took together this year, for sure.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Growing Along

BY THE YARD : This weekend, we worked in the yard a bit, weeding the vegetable garden, and planting a couple more flowering lovelies in the rockery.

Just stark rocks a couple of summers ago, after we installed it (all 18 tons or so, using just our bodies, brains, some ropes and pulleys), now it's HQ for birds, bees and butterflies by the dozens, on a daily basis.

Apparently, they aren't scared off by the carnage the T-Rex has caused among the garden gnome population. 
 We've seen many a bumblebee this year. They love the "Yellow Submarine" plants we have.
 Our crocosmia is in full bloom.
 It's such a bright red, it almost looks illuminated.
 We checked our big potato pot and found spuds popping up all over!
 They are all descendants of this very special potato Annabelle got in the mail last October!
 She was quite pleased with her plentiful harvest!

MEANWHILE, IN WEST TEXAS:  On Sunday morning, Kent, WA, based Blue Origin conducted an impressive rocket test.  Their New Shepard flew again, reaching an apogee of 331,504 feet (101.042 kilometers). This test was the fourth flight for that same booster, and the sixth trip for the capsule atop it.
The team intentionally did not deploy one of three parachutes on the capsule in order to prove they could softly land with only two chutes open. In order to ensure future crews' safety, the Blue Origin's capsule has been designed to have one or two levels of redundancy in every system. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016


WINGING IT: We've been SUPER busy this week. Imagine our delight this morning upon upping not absolutely having to rush off to a specific place at a specific time. Delightful!

Add to that the fact it was gorgeous outside. We decided to go a walking. Our original plan was to head up to the bluff along Queen Anne, but on autopilot, I headed toward the kids' learning center. Oops. 

Realizing my mistake, I started wending our way toward the bluff, and along the windy route, I looked to the right and spied a park bench at one point.

"Is that a park?"! I wondered aloud.

Indeed, it was. 
In fact, it was a park I'd first heard about when CJ was a kindergartner, seven-plus years ago. I knew there was a park on Queen Anne dedicated to neighborhood families lost on a flight headed back to Seattle from Mexico in 2000.

Rachel's Playground at Soundview Terrace.
 The tiles speak to remembrances of classmates lost.
Every single one of the passengers and crew on board perished aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261. Eighty eight lives gone due to a damn 'jackscrew' and inadequate maintenance led to excessive wear and eventual failure of a critical flight control system during flight" per the official report. Sixteen years removed, it's heartbreaking and nauseating reading about the account and cause of the crash. I can't image how it is for the families for those involved.
Fortunately, CJ, Annabelle, and the dogs had none of the awful details as they were enjoying the park. They jwere able to enjoy the beauty and fun of the place. 

There were a number of tropical plants in the park. I noticed the hummingbirds approved and told the kids to sit on a bench and hold still.

 Within a minute or so, a hummer arrived!

This afternoon I received a direct message via Twitter. In my experience, usually those are instant-delete type garbage, but this one was different. It was a direct message from the Jane Goodall Institute, inviting me (and countless, others, I'm sure) to enroll in a free course for educators.

Here's the post the link led to ...  Of course I signed up. 

Empowering Youth Through Service in Education
Join us for an action-oriented online professional development course! This course will teach participants how to identify and implement a local service-learning campaign using the Roots & Shoots program model. 

At Roots & Shoots, our goal is to develop compassionate leaders to make the world a better place for people, other animals and the environment. Help us achieve that goal! Complete the course and mentor young people to lead change in their communities by mapping needs, collaborating with stakeholders, and designing practical solutions in the form of campaigns. Connect young people to Dr. Goodall’s message of hope while facilitating a sense of empowerment that comes from helping others!
This course is designed for K-12 formal and informal educators in the United States, but we welcome all professions from all over the world to participate because truly the materials and model is easily and often used by other audiences. If you are located outside the US, we encourage you to check in with the Jane Goodall Institute office closest to you; as they may offer resources and materials specific to your country or region. You can find a list of offices here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Busy Bees

WORLD CUP: To say today was a crafty day would be an understatement. We had so many projects going on, every horizontal surface in the house was covered. 

First up was transforming some plain blue paper cups into little Earth-themed cuties.
We also made some globe-like Jell-O Jigglers. First, we made the green Jell-O, and once that was set, we cut that up into little pieces, put it back in the pan, and poured the blue Jell-O over it. Once it all set up, we used a round cookie cutter to make the Earth shapes (and yes, I know the Earth isn't a perfect circle/orb).
Of course, there had to be some cookies in the mix. We dyed regular sugar cookie dough blue and green ... 
then we pieced together some of each color and rolled it into little balls.
 We smooshed the dough balls and baked them for a few minutes.
 Pretty little things!
Christian carved a watermelon globe. Here's an in progress shot. You're going to have to wait until tomorrow for the finished product.
We got a little work done on Chester, the fund-raising mascot. He has arms now! Isn't he cute?
And because we didn't have enough else going on, Annabelle wanted to show me how to make a bookmark. 

You start with a 6x6-inch sheet of paper.
That gets folded in half, and then folded again.
 And folded some more. ... 
 Eventually it's a little page corner cap!
 Naturally, Annabelle had to decorate hers.
We took about a 15 minute break this afternoon to go check out the Seafair pirates, who visited a Starbucks by our house.
Fortunately, these pirates were friendly. Rather than pillaging the Village, they were throwing collectible coins to the kids! CJ and Annabelle each got one.

MEANWHILE, IN HOUSTON: Here's something you don't see going down the freeway 
every day!
This NASA photo shows their crew capsule Orion cruising down the highway toward Houston over the weekend. Pretty cool!