September Part II

Zwanze day has come and gone. This year, the Slow Boat hosted again. They only sold 80 tickets instead of 100 this year, though, and they sold them all in one day. Last year, they sold 50 on one Saturday and the other 50 on the next Saturday. Last year, on both days, they lines were full to selling capacity by about 7:30 in the morning. So, to get tickets for KrisDi’s one must-have beer event of the year, I arrived at the line roughly 7 hours before ticket sales started. I had learned at this point that “waiting in line for some beer thing” is also a social event amongst those beer-nerdy enough to participate — people bring beer to share with each other, and spend the day BSing, mostly about beer. So, I remembered to bring beer, and anticipated sharing with others.

So, in essence, KrisDi selfishly took the kids out and ran errands while I selflessly read books, drank beer, and socialized with beer freaks — in the name of getting both of us tickets to a beer event both of us were excited about.

The event itself was also nice. We sat next to some people who were familiar from my line-sitting. There were only 80 people there, so lines were short. Mom watched the kids for us, so it was a quiet mom-and-dad event. And, we actually got to talking with the people next to us — a young, recently married couple that recently moved to Seattle area. About a week later, they invited us to their house for a “bottle share” (beer nerds get together and bring bottles of beer to share). There were several other people — and I was one of the less rabid beer people there. This is a little surreal for me.

I did think it was funny…this couple has lived in Seattle for a couple months, and I think they’ve made more friends than we have in ten years.

Some time ago, Chilkoot’s vacuum died. I diagnosed it as a battery pack failure, and was unable to obtain a replacement. So, I disemboweled the vacuum to salvage its motor, in the hopes of using it to make something move. I wanted to turn it into a number of lessons for the kids: Building things is fun; things don’t always work right the first time you try, but you can learn from them and improve based on what you learn; don’t get frustrated, think about what happened and what to do about it.

Anyway, the project was shelved for a while after the initial interest. The previous set of iterations had resulted in a car that could move, but not while carrying its own battery.

Recently, Chilkat saw it on the shelf and decided she was interested in resuming work on it, so we did. This time, I improved the “bearings” by using little eye-screws to hold the axles, which also gave the car a higher clearance and required relocating the motor (from the inside to the outside).

First test run had the belt slide quickly off the driveshaft, which is unsurprising. I coached Chilkat into the idea that we could put something on the end of the driveshaft to make sure the belt couldn’t come off.

So, as the video attests, we got the car moving under its own power, but the wheels come flying off after a little while. Then we had to go somewhere else.

Chilkat also learned what happens when you short a powerful battery with flimsy wires: The insulation melts and/or burns, things smell bad and get hot, and in this case, you leave permanent damage on the table top. This was my own fault for not warning her and for not disconnecting the wires from the battery while working on the car – but it was exciting. She felt really bad about it, and I had to work very hard to keep her focus on what she learned from the ordeal, instead of on the feeling that she ruined something.

KrisDi and I went to see Modest Mouse. Mom came down to watch the kids while we adulted. It was fun. For some reason, this show smelled like Amsterdam.

KrisDi let me go to the Fresh Hop Festival in Yakima with my friend and former co-worker, Mr. JJ. It was pretty fantastic, but also pretty dangerous. Most beer festival “samples” are 5 ounces on the top end — this was 8 ounces on the bottom end, with many places giving them away for “free”. It’s a long drive out there, and I didn’t feel particularly well the next morning, but it was fun. Mr. JJ and I have been out there the preceding two years, but not for the festival itself — just for the pre-festival proliferation of fresh hop beers about town. We also dragged his neighbor along with us for his first visit out there, and hit a couple breweries on the way out there and back.

Posted by snaotheus, 1 comment

September Part I

False Alarm A had a birthday. KrisDi made her a cake using a new icing technique — “mirror glaze”. She also took her to a painting event and a for a pedicure. While she was gone, G False Alarm and I watched the four kids, and invented a new technique for coloring: We taped a un-colored picture on the outside of a window, and let the kids color the inside of the glass with white board markers.

The next day, we went to their house, where we mostly finished up their clusterfucked kitchen sink. When I left, everything was working, but the connections to the sink leaked a little bit.

Chilkat started first grade. She seems to be doing well. She seems to like the teacher, and there was (as far as I know) no crying on her first day.

Chilkat also lost her second tooth; her first permanent tooth has been named “Onesy” and the second one “Twinsy”.

Chilkat reached another pubescent milestone: She put up signs telling people to keep out of her room.

A & V Dubs both had birthdays and shared birthday parties. First was at a Pump It Up, the next weekend was at their house. They are now 4 and 2 respectively.

Not a lot else going on. Just life.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

The Rest of August

A large amount of the pictures from the second half of August taken in the US were taken by Les and D. They took the kids to the zoo. The kids also had their piano recital, which I would have liked to see. Chilkoot does a lot better under pressure from someone besides his mom and dad. There’s really not a lot, overall.

There is also not much food. Aside from the fact that it was a busy month, we were out for a lot of it in Europe.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Food, Photo updates, 1 comment

August Part I

August Part I

We had our company picnic. Clowns, petting zoo, and bouncy house were hired. Children were delighted. Colleagues brought their own kinetic sculptures for test drives and impressive Lego Mindstorm marble machines for demonstrations. Bunnies were disappointingly absent from the company picnic this year due to heat. We didn’t win anything, but other people did. It was a good time, like it usually is. Chilkat remembers it from two years ago, and has been asking about it.

We went to KrisDi’s online friend’s kid’s birthday party. I had an interesting conversation about it with Chilkat when we were leaving. “Did you remember to say thank you to the birthday boy’s mom?”

“Why? We only came because Mom came. We weren’t invited. We don’t know the birthday boy.” Or something to that effect.

“Well, did you get a gift bag? Did the balloon guy make you things? Did you get food, candy, and cake? Weren’t those all nice things that you enjoyed?”

“OK, fine.”

Our washing machine sprung a leak. Googling around, it seemed the door seal was the most likely culprit, and step one was to try cleaning it. In cleaning it, I found a hole big enough to stick my finger through. Putting duct tape on the hole did not slow the leak. I ordered a new seal, but it didn’t arrive until just before we left the country. Luckily, Les can’t help but work on things like that, so it was fixed by the time I got home.

We went camping at Seaquest State Park, out near Mount Saint Helens. For a bit, the kids were freaked out about the volcano, but they quickly forgot about it. This was our first two night camping trip (good idea — one night means 50% of your time is spent setting up or tearing down). The False Alarms also came camping with us.

We brought our telescope, because we specifically wanted to see the Perseid meteor shower. However it was cloudy as hell the whole time (we couldn’t even see the moon). It poured on us as we tried to pack up on Sunday (gee, 50+ day dry streak is broken when I’m trying to put away a tent).

KrisDi prepared much fancier food than the False Alarms did. Toasted ham and cheese croissants versus instant ramen. Breakfast burritos versus microwave egg and sausage breakfast substance boiled in a pot of water.

We hiked, drank, played, ate, burned things, and generally had a very good time. On the way back, we stopped at a couple breweries. No meteors, but a very nice long weekend. It seems like we’re getting better at camping. We still bring a ton of stuff, but the truck seemed less full for this two day trip than previous one day trips, and I don’t think we were missing anything at all.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

July 2017 Part III

July Part III

During Elder Brother’s visit, he tried to make coffee, but left out a key part of the coffee machine, resulting in 12 cups of coffee running down our counter and into the cabinet area where KrisDi keeps recipes, coupons, random stuff, and a lot of her favorite artsy things produced by the kids. We separated all of it and spread it out all over the garage floor and the dinner table to dry, and meticulously re-sorted it and put it back where it belonged. Of course, it’s damaged, but at least it’s still intact.

Mom came down to visit and see two sons and four grandchildren simultaneously. I think she had a good time, although all of us were pretty busy running around at the time.

We took them to the Space Needle. This was an expensive and rushed visit — we needed to leave at a particular time so we could get my brother’s car to the shipping company to get it to Guam. I think we spent 20 minutes on the needle, and 45 waiting in line, and another 45 or so climbing and playing on the park equipment outside.

Chilkoot also had his four year doctor appointment that day. He’s a healthy little boy.

That night, we drank and hung out. I didn’t drink as much, knowing I had to work the next morning. Actually, I didn’t end up working — I took the kids up to day care by work, and then came back down to help get my brother’s family to the airport, then drove back up to work and got a call a mile away from day care saying Chilkoot had a fever of 101 and was acting lethargic. So, I went into the office long enough to announce I was going home and reschedule some meetings, took Chilkoot back home, and spent the rest of the day there. Basically, he was fine, but couldn’t go to day care because of the fever. KrisDi had to stay home the next day. We think it was just a reaction to the vaccines the day before.

When KrisDi stayed home, she took the kids to Build a Bear, basically an unplanned Mommy Kids Day. Chilkoot stepped on the “stuffed animal filling machine”, teaching the operator that yes, he really should turn it completely off when he doesn’t have an empty stuffed animal attached to it.

KrisDi had her work picnic. Nothing particular to say — it was a little chilly, the kids had fun, played at a park, tossed eggs, were suitably adored by those in attendance.

Chilkat figured out how to climb trees. Well…one tree. One close to the facility where they take piano and tumbling lessons. It has a wide branch structure, close together and close to the ground. She really enjoys it, though, which I’m totally happy about.

The Popes’ younger daughter Sharkey was diagnosed by a rheumatologist with “polyarticular idiosynchratic arthritis”, which explained her stiff left leg when walking and lack of running. Poor girl. Hopefully she’ll grow out of it.

The False Alarms’ younger daughter B had her birthday party at Pump It Up — not a lot to say. Kids played and played and jumped and jumped. I had fun playing with the fancy camera’s low light high speed capabilities. I got decent (but not stellar) pictures. During the party, we got updates on the False Alarms’ plumbing issues: They had a friend volunteer to help replace the kitchen sink; they removed the kitchen sink, and then he disappeared. Meanwhile, False Alarms decided to also rip out a bunch of existing piping, resulting in zero water in the house.

After the birthday party, we went to the Family Fun Center, a high end Chuck E Cheese type of place. One of the things they have there is kind of like bumper cars, but boats with squirt guns. Chilkoot and I were in one both with Chilkat in another, so we got to putter around trying to soak each other. But, Chilkat’s tiny, and she can completely duck into the boat and leave nothing to hit. I, on the other hand, am like a tower. I’m hard to miss.

Of course, our help with the False Alarms’ plumbing was requested before we left the Family Fun Center. So, we went back to the house to grab a random selection of tools (not knowing what I might encounter or need, having no idea of the situation and no experience with plumbing), and heading all the way back down to Tacoma to help (would have been more effective to ask for our help at the birthday party, or better yet, beforehand…).

The situation we encountered: They had good reasons for ripping out piping. They have an old house, and the pipes were thoroughly rusted on the inside. The planning involved in it was nonexistent, however. The recommended replacement piping is Pex, but this requires a crimping tool that was not available at the hardware store two miles from their house. So, GFA decided to wing it and use PVC, which is apparently not generally used for house water piping (maybe for sprinklers or pools). No crimping required — but it’s a stiff, thick pipe and all the joints are hard and have to be epoxied together. Another friend, let’s call him Dan (a carpenter, also not a plumber, but closer than me) was along for the ride. He had a sneaking suspicion that PVC was the wrong technique. I just shrugged and played along, not knowing one way or the other.

We did not come to a resolution the first night, although we stayed pretty late.

Eventually, after 437 trips to the hardware store and with the help of a lot of beer and some green materials that are legal in this state, Dan got shitfaced and we got stuff put together to the point where we thought we could turn on the water. We did so, and we had minor leaks for about 30-45 seconds, at which point a cap blew off quite thunderously and yielded a lot of loud yelling that scared the kids and a moderate wet mess in the basement.

Then someone drove the extra 5 miles to another hardware store and bought the Pex crimping tool, I ripped out all the PVC, and by the afternoon of the second day, the False Alarms had water again — although hot and cold were swapped. I think Mrs. False Alarm enjoyed the heated toilet, though.

A few days later, another friend came along to help them switch the hot and the cold back to normal. As far as I know, they still don’t have a kitchen sink. But at least they can bath and flush.

KrisDi got another haircut. Her last haircut most would consider extreme; you might expect that she got a small trim, but instead she got another haircut that most would consider extremely.

In between the plumbing adventures, we went to see a musical production of the Little Mermaid. Both kids loved it.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 2 comments