Sunday, October 23, 2016

Russian Ridge hike (birthday celebrations, day 4)

For her birthday weekend, Sigrid wanted a family hike. Originally, the plan was to go to Point Reyes, but then she realized this was the perfect weekend for chestnut picking, so we went on a hike after that in the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.

We started off with a quick stroll to Alpine Pond, which took us through a tunnel.

We spent a lot of time at Alpine Pond and the nature center there.

Then we hiked Ipiwa trail.

We went off trail a bit to find a nice place for a picnic lunch.

Shortly after lunch, we switched to Sunny Jim trail and hiked back to Alpine Pond.

At the end of our hike, we found some cattails over by the pond, and discovered that there are a lot of seeds in one of those things.


Today was our sixth trip to Skyline Chestnuts (fifth for Anders, and third for Soren), but the first trip in three years.

We got there on the early side (about 45 minutes after they opened), but the parking was already filling up. It was a beautiful day.

The crowd seemed heavy on people speaking Korean, Chinese and French.

The boys did a great job picking.

For the first time, I noticed the bee hives, but they weren't selling any honey today.

The abandoned car is looking a bit worse for wear versus the last time we saw it.

Seven pounds.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Day 3

Day 3 of Sigrid's increasing questionably named birth"day" celebrations took us to Old Bus Tavern for a lovely dinner with Cari & Jean (plus random guys in the background here who sang along for Happy Birthday).

"don't sit on that big old rock"

Soren has added some surprises to this piece.

(And he's been playing with Halloween make-up that has been brought up from the basement.)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Birthday - Day 2

Sigrid's never believed that a birthday should be limited to a single day. So today we had cake.

That's a brown butter cake (with brown butter frosting), topped with ghosts holding candy corns (the boys' selection) and champagne bottle candles (my choice).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Happy birthday, Sigrid!!

I said, HAPPY...


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I voted!

Monday, October 17, 2016

a fix four years in the making

We have a gas fireplace.

Which means we have one of those keys you shove in a hole to turn the gas on or off. Sometimes those are on the wall, and sometimes they're on the floor. Ours is on the floor—which is a terrible design, because small children can drop marbles and the like down the hole, making it impossible to fit the gas key onto the gas valve. Remarkably, we lived in the house for nearly four years before we ran into this problem. But in August 2012, I couldn't get the gas to go on, and after many tries got an in-focus camera phone shot down the hole revealing this:

I didn't actually know what that was, but I eventually figured out that I could unscrew the valve from the basement and out fell this wooden dowel that Soren had gotten a hold of and dropped down the hole.

At the time, I imagined the perfect solution to stop up the hole, which was a rubber plug with a lever you could close to make it expand in diameter slightly. It didn't occur to me that my solution might actually exist. Four years later, it suddenly occurred to me to search for things like [expanding pipe plug], which quickly led me to a company called Shaw Plugs, with a line of products called Snap-Tite plugs that were pretty much exactly what I was looking for. I measured the hole with calipers and concluded that a plug that was somewhere south of 17mm in its relaxed state would be perfect. The Snap-Tite plug with a nominal width of 11/16" claimed to be 16.66mm in its relaxed state, so seemed perfect (and less than $7 on Amazon).

Alas, it seems there is some variation in the actual diameter of these things, because the one I got was 17mm in its relaxed state, which was a shade too big. But this turned out to be a fine problem to have, because it was easy enough to slice some tiny bits off four sides to make it fit easily, and also to create something more like a square cross section, which is great for a square hole.

Each of the bits I sliced off (with a paring knife) was somewhere under a millimeter thick, like this:

The end result looks like this. With the lever down, it won't slip out. Lift the lever, and it comes out easily.

I think we're mostly past the age of marbles down the hole, but it's nice to have a bit of protection anyway.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ice 3.0

You've probably grown tired of posts about spherical ice, but this one is so good!

I'm sure you're dying to know about my technique. First, I fill the "Funtainer" thermos up to the ridge. There will be a small amount of fair above the ridge but below the silicone mold, which allows the water to expand slightly as it freezes.

Next, I wash the mold thoroughly with soap. Without a good wash, I think air bubbles are more likely to cling to the insides of the mold, and eventually migrate into the ice. After that, I insert the closed, empty mold into the Funtainer until the exactly half of it is inside—meaning the crack of at the equator of the mold is exactly even with the top of the Funtainer. This puts the bottom of the mold just a bit below the water line. I fill the mold through the top-hole, rap it on the counter a few times to dislodge any stubborn air bubbles, and fill again. I repeat the rap/refill routine a couple more times.

I made a new insulator, with several layers at the top with holes carefully cut so that the insulator fits the mold nicely.

I put the rig into the freezer (which is right around 0°F) and then after about an hour I check it and if the water level is low (due to more air bubbles escaping?) and if so I add a milliliter or two with an eye dropper. I do this two or three times.

I let the rig freeze for at least 21 hours, but longer works fine. Today, I forgot about the rig in the morning, so it froze for about 34 hours. It comes out looking something like this.

Prior posts: 1, 2.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Bistro SF Grill

Hahn's Hibachi in our neighborhood has turned into Bistro SF Grill. The boys liked the napkins.

Anders liked his miniburger, too.

Soren started off well, but by the end mostly had just eaten the bun and the bacon.