Sunday, September 17, 2017

eggplant parmesan

When making eggplant parmesan, I expect to be told to slice the eggplant into rounds. This recipe instead told me to slice the eggplant lengthwise, which creates an interesting presentation.

beach day with the fourth grade

Meteor strike?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

droid inventors

Miran got the boys a littleBits Droid Inventor kit. The littleBits system is a collection of magnetically connectable electronics modules. The Droid Inventor kit is a collection of projects using the littleBits system to create an R2D2-like droid that can do some cool things.

There is an app (we loaded it onto Soren's tablet) that guides you through "missions" to make the kit do things. First, we completed several missions to get the droid up and running (and decorated). It's a bit tricky to control the droid the first time you try.

After the first few basic missions, you can try more advanced ones. In one of those, you add a proximity sensor to the front of the droid, which allows it to move around without bumping into things (well, mostly). The droid has a little program that has it move forward until the proximity sensor identifies an obstruction up front. The droid then backs up while turning a bit, and goes forward again until there is another obstruction, and so on. The next mission we tried was "The Force." Soren quickly figured out that we'd be using the proximity sensor again, this time on the back of the droid. As you can see Anders demonstrate below, in this configuration, the droid is programmed to move forward if something approaches from behind.

The droid also has an attachment that lets you rig a marker to the droid, letting it draw. The goal is to keep the drawings on a paper surface. That worked... mostly.

There's another mission that lets you control the rotation of the droid's head. I'm assuming this works by repurposing the servo that usually lets the droid turn, but neither Anders nor Soren has taken me up on the offer of trying this mission yet. (I'll bet one could get the head control and the turning simultaneously by buying another servo bit from littleBits.) I might have to try that mission solo if I can't get one of the boys to partner up with me.

movin' on up

Anders got a hand-me-down 24" bike from a cousin. It had been sitting outside for a while, so needed a new chain, rear brake caliper, one new tube and a general tune-up. Post-shop, it looks great! It's Anders's first bike with gears (grip shifters), and his first bike without coaster brakes. He likes the new bike, but it will take some getting used to.

Soren likes the upgrade to Anders's old 20" bike, which has coaster brakes and a rear caliper brake.

I'm hoping to convince the two of them to give the bikes a try on the street sometime, but it's tricky in our oh-so-hilly neighborhood.

Friday, September 15, 2017

garden tales

I planted some chive seeds along the front and rear edges of our vegetable box. The rear seeds didn't germinate, but the front ones did. It took them a while to amount to anything, but they look ready to go now.

These are the flowers from one of two carrot plants that have flowered this year. The curious thing is that carrots are biennial, so they shouldn't flower until they've been in the ground for two years. I started fresh from seed this year, but I suppose it is possible that there were a couple of carrot roots that I didn't fully harvest last year, and they somehow survived to grow this year. It seems pretty unlikely, but I don't have a better explanation for the flowers.

When our cilantro bolted, I let it flower and go to seed—coriander seed. Today I decided it was dry enough to pick through to find the seeds. Here's the coriander harvest.

beam me up

One of the many houses in our neighborhood that is under construction. This is a down-to-the-studs renovation. It looks like they either are going to go taller than before, or they are going for a more open floor on one of the levels, because today they had a crane to haul I-beams in. (A steel I-beam offers more structural support than a wood main beam can.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

beautiful tomato

We've gotten two or three big, beautiful tomatoes like this, plus some smaller and more mundane looking ones, from what was sold to us as an Early Girl. The big ones look more to me like an heirloom variety.

I had been keeping at eye on this one for the last several days. Here are pics from Saturday through Tuesday.

Here is our current stock of garden tomatoes. The smaller non-cherry tomato, on the right, shows signs of some pesky squirrel or rat having tried to snack on it. That's why I picked the big one this morning, rather than waiting for it to get any riper.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

new look

These first two photos are actually from two weeks ago, but Anders wanted the news kept a secret until he got his glasses, to maximize the surprise when he showed up in school in glasses. He picked the frames himself. I think he did a nice job!

If you look closely at the arms, you can see some cool geometric patterns.

I got new glasses, too—for the first time in 13 years! I picked my frame separately from Anders (I was there a week before him), but it seems we have similar taste!

Instead of cool geometric patterns, the arms of my glasses have this ridiculous Nike swoosh.


Dramatic clouds as a backdrop to Sonic's work installing fiber at the pole at the bottom our block this morning. The tech says the work on our block should be done by the end of today, and in our area by the end of this month. Sonic is still forecasting that they will begin service in November, but this tech seemed to think it might happen sooner. Once everything is up and running, we'll be giving it a try— symmetric gigabit will offer speeds that are more than 20x what we're getting now for downloads, and more than 50x what we're getting now for uploads.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pickled Garlicky Bell Peppers

Made a tasty 4 pepper sized batch of pickled garlicky bell peppers. I like them a lot, though they are more mellow than I expected. (Sigrid's reaction, meanwhile, was, "wow, really intense!")