Friday, September 29, 2017

loco moco ramen burger

I remember reading about the ramen burger—a burger with a bun made out of fried ramen noodles—in 2013, when Keizo Shimamoto came up with the idea in NYC. Today, I was walking by L&L Hawaiian Barbecue on Kearny, and they had a sign out promoting their ramen burger. It was a bit early for lunch, but I had to do it. I got the loco moco version, with a fried egg. Once you start eating, you can't stop, because if you did, the bun would fall apart!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

when I grow up...

The first graders wrote books about themselves. Here's a page from Soren's book.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


We just had a gigabit fiber connection installed. This means that our internet connection theoretically tops out at around a billion bits per second in both directions, compared to about 180 million bits per second down and 12 million bits per second up on our old connection. That's cool—but it's also cheaper! The new connection will replace our old internet service and our old voice-over-IP landline (yes, we still have a landline). Plus, we plan to downgrade our television service by canceling our cable television subscription, since we mostly use Netflix and Amazon Prime video these days anyway. (When I told Anders that we would be canceling our cable subscription, but that we'd still be able to watch videos on Netflix and Amazon, he asked, "What else is there?").

There have been a ton of Sonic trucks in our neighborhood for the past month or so, getting fiber to the poles. That pole box is called a local convergence point, and it serves between 288 and 432 homes. Upstream, it connects to a central office, using a strand of fiber optic cable for every 32 connections, with each fiber connected upstream to an OLT ("optical line terminal"). The local convergence point splits each OLT connection into 32 individual fiber connections.

Last Friday afternoon, I got this text. (Don't bother trying the link. It'll just tell you, "This order has been completed.")

I scheduled the first available installation window, from 8-noon this morning. And Greg from Sonic showed up at 8:01 a.m. I was the first installation on our block.

The previous day, Sonic trucks roamed all over the neighborhood doing "fiber drops." This involves running fiber from the terminals on the utility lines to each of the houses with a Sonic Fiber pre-order. (The pic below is a FlexNap multiport terminal near the pole outside our house.) Our neighbors on both sides of us and three directly across the street all had fiber drops, too. (I'm sure there are many more on our block; those are just the ones I noticed.)

Greg drilled a hole through the side of our house to get the fiber into our basement.

From there, it went into a "fiber optic termination box." (This pic is likely the last one I will take of the inside of this box, as it has a security screw on the outside.)

A short fiber patch cable runs from the termination box to the wall-mounted ONT (Optical Network Terminal), which is a transceiver that converts the fiber connection into an ethernet connection and a telephone connection. (You can see a telephone line splitter connected to the transceiver. One side of the split goes to our telephone, and the other to our printer that we use for faxing.)

The ethernet output from the ONT goes to this residential gateway ("RG"), which has 4-port gigabit switch for wired connections, and a wifi router. For the moment, I'm using both this and our old wifi router as APs, on the theory that I should be able to get better coverage in our house this way.

Here's the bandwidth we're getting, using a wired connection. It's not actually a gigabit, but I'm not sure whether that's the connection or just a limitation of the USB 3.0 ethernet adapter I used for this test. Regardless, this is plenty of bandwidth.

UPDATE: It turns out it was neither the connection nor the ethernet adapter. Using a native (i.e. not web-based) Speedtest client, I get much better results.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


On Saturday night, we went to an Oktoberfest celebration, which was a school auction item last spring.

We relived the magic (complete with 1 liter beer steins) tonight with guests.

the best carrot

Anders informed me it was time to pick the monster carrot. It looked like this in the garden.

And, indeed, it was a beauty. The carrot itself measured almost a foot long and nearly a full pound.

This could all be yours...

...for an offering price of $4.75 million.


The 37th Annual SFS Walkathon, featuring Soren...


...and many more!

The eighth graders held a fundraiser at the walkathon, selling plate lunches. We got chicken teriyaki plates.

The first grade room parents held an impromptu business meeting while the kids walked.

A gaggle of first grade boys.

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!")

Sunday at the Bank

On Sundays at the SF-Marin Food Bank, volunteers can be as young as 4. This was Soren's  first time volunteering at the Food Bank. We bagged 75 pounds of rice.

Saturday, September 09, 2017


After a hiatus of several months, Soren again has a hole in his smile.

This is what the tooth looked like a few hours ago.