July 26, 2014

  • Shoichi and the Zoo

    Today we took a little ride to the Woodland Park Zoo.
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    Steve, Veronica, Judy, Étienne, Carlton, and our Japanese student Shoichi.

    I am still working on how to embed my Strava postings here. Until then, follow the link. We rode as a group of 6! It took me half an hour to gather enough bike shoes and swap pedals for all of us. Étienne rode his single while Carlton stoked the tandem with me.

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    Asian Small-clawed Otter (Veronica’s favorite), Sleeping Meerkats, and Étienne riding a lion.
    The otters were a big hit. They ran about, played tag, and found little pieces of fish to chomp on.

    We get Shoichi for another week! What adventures will we take next weekend?

July 19, 2014

  • The Comedy of Errors

    Veronica took a one week class on Shakespeare from the Taproot Theater. In 5 days they auditioned, read, blocked, costumed, and performed William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. The class started on Monday and they practiced script free by Wednesday. The cast ranged in age from 9 to 16 from the local community.

    The best part for me was the independence Veronica showed. After escorting her the first day, Veronica took charge of her own commute, using the city bus. She never missed the start time. Our Veronica is maturing!

    If you are not familiar with the works of Bill, Wikipedia has a great review of the play. Through the mistaken identity of two sets of identical twins, a series of wild mishaps, slapstick, and comedy occur. Veronica teacher put it best when she told the actors not to think about the plot too much because then you will realize it doesn’t make any sense. Oh, the setting is 1950!

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    Here is the program with the cast listing.

    Veronica played two characters. She played the merchant of a business, and Courtezan. Listining to her practicing the verse made me very proud. She kept up her piano practice, crocheting, and cross country conditioning for the fall.

    Here, as the merchant, she warns Antipholus of Syracuse he should not be seen around Ephesus under penalty of death.

    Mom’s favorite line: “My present business calls me from you now.” We are actively looking for the perfect opportunity to use it so Watch Out!

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    We have to show the girl with the Bling Ring. I missed the money shot when Veronica gave the audience a big wink upon getting the ring.

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    The Cast. They really had a great time and accomplished a whole lot of fun in five days. Veronica already wants a two week camp. Perhaps next year.

July 18, 2014

  • BattleBots

    Carl is attending the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at UW. Introduction to Robots uses the LEGO NXT kit and a laptop for programming. They study the purpose and types of robots. Carl met more than one student that will also be attending Hamilton Middle School this fall.

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    The Robot Secret Laboratory, located on the campus of UW, is this incredible building of glass and steel. I ride by on the bicycle each day when I come to pick him up.

    One day he and another boy were sitting alone at one end of the room. They were back to back in some kind of time-out. I rode on to the pick-up point and waited for his class to conclude and walk up the hill. While waiting I talked to the vice principal and asked if my Carl ever got called into her office for behavior issues. She assured me not. All of her students were here as a privilege and very well behaved. When Carl arrived I learned that he and his lab partner were conducting a programming exercise where one person holds and describes a Lego structure and the other has to build it without seeing the original. Most partners used the main classroom area but Carl and his wanted a quieter space.
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    Here is Carl’s work station with his partner. They had a tub of lego parts, sensors, motors, and the programmable brain. Using the laptop they built the program before downloading it to the bot.

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    Battle Rules

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    Proud fathers of the Dodo Bot. When the battles were announced, all we knew was the bots name, not the builders. As soon as I heard the name, I knew that was Carl’s.

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    The Dodo Bot

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    The Dodo Brain. The students use this interface to build decision loops, timers, delays, and outputs. I looked around the room and all the programs appeared a little different.

    After starting their bots, the program must have a two second delay allowing creators to get out of the way. A light sensor detects the black tape on the border of the arena and the bot must remain inside. Some sensors were not programmed very well or the sensor was damaged in battle and the bot would exit the field.

    Here is an example of the Dodo not having the correct calibration and loosing because it left the field.

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    Other battles were not without attrition. As long as the bot continued to move, the game was on. A few teams utilized an ultrasonic sensor to detect and attack an opponent.

June 17, 2014

  • WMS 8th Grade Promotion

    Today, Veronica and 331 classmates passed the 8th Grade and becomes a High School student.
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    Here she is looking very nice in her promotion dress. Typical of Seattle weather, we enjoyed 72 degrees, blue skies and calm winds. Parents and friends sat on the grassy ball field while the school put on a beautiful ceremony. Several special awards went out to the students.

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    Veronica received the prestigious President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence. She also was one of seven students to receive the Wildcat Award for participation in music, sports, and maintaining a high GPA.

    As the ceremony commenced, Emma got to sing the National Anthem.
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    Emma practiced all month and did a terrific job. I videoed the whole song for her parents.

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    Veronica’s name is read and she proceeds across the stage…Not without a smile.

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    Just for the record, Veronica has been promoted.

June 15, 2014

  • My Fathers Day

    Today I asked the family for a leisurely bike ride to Gasworks Park on Lake Union. I spent Saturday getting five bicycles ready with brakes that don’t squeak, chains that don’t rattle, seats adjusted, tires aired, and proper shoe/pedal combinations for each member of the family. We were blessed with the company of our friends the Phelps. Gareth (1st grade) just started riding Étienne’s 20 inch bike. Malcolm (2 years old) rode in a trailer pulled by Mrs. Phelps. We all headed out for the park.

    A few raindrops fell along the way but not enough to wet the pavement. Our descent on 8th street kept the parents on our toes but the kids did terrific avoiding car doors, turning traffic, and “front tire grabbing” ruts in the pavement.

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    We all enjoyed a picnic of sandwiches, scotch eggs, pasta, fruit salad, and even a box of GS cookies from 2012. The sun came out a few times to light up Lake Union.

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    Our views included paddle boarders, a steam boat from the Center for Wooden Boats, and of course the VaVa II (look at the helicopter on the rear deck!) eclipsing the Boeing yacht Daedalus seen on the far right.

    We enjoyed the circling Ducks and at the end you can see a kite just taking a dive. Later it dove into the lake.

    The kite did make it out of the lake with the help of some local kayakers. Just so you know, it did fly again before we left for home.

    Where the ride to the park included 46 feet of climbing, the ride home would have 310 feet. Fortunate for Mrs Phelps, Mr. Phelps showed up in the car and took the trailer with Malcolm home for us! Thank you dad!

June 14, 2014

  • 5th Grade Promotion

    Friday was the Loyal Heights 5th Grade Promotion ceremony. Before you ask, the last day of school will be next Thursday.

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    Parents joined the 5th grade teachers, principal, and of course their 5th graders in the lunchroom for a wonderful hour long ceremony.

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    Mrs Saltsman gave a heart warming send off to the students. We felt a real connection between all three 5th grade teachers and the students of Loyal Heights. I was standing on the wrong side to get the Shake & Take picture but Carl honored my request and shot me that million dollar smile before leaving the stage. His excitement did not diminish after sitting back down.

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    After recieving the certificate, a parent put together pictures and videos following the students during their 6 years at Loyal Heights. Can you find Carl?

    The ceremony ended with: The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. – William Shakespeare

June 8, 2014

  • Étienne’s Eight Birthday Party

    Étienne turned eight on Wednesday! Here is the traditional mother-child birthday photo:
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    Saturday was the birthday party. In a fit of insanity, we agreed to let him invite his entire second-grade class. Luckily, only 15 said they would come, and only 13 showed up, but that still meant 14 eight-year-olds running around our backyard.

    Our friends Kyle & Richard visited from Denver, and Kyle helped set up a tie-dye station for the big activity. Here the kids are ready to dye, and Kyle demonstrates how to tie up a tshirt.
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    The kids squirted dye on the tied shirts. Here are all the finished shirts curing in the sun.
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    Veronica invited two of her friends to help wrangle eight-year-olds, telling them they could dye shirts as well. Dye hands!
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    After tie-dying, the kids played in the backyard. Duck-duck-goose, and bubble machine!
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    Carl enjoyed being on the girls team…
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    Finished t-shirts!
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    Étienne opening presents.
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    Birthday cake, with very loud singing.
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    Eight candles blown out!
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    All the kids got to take home their dyed shirts. We’ll see how many wear them to school tomorrow!
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June 5, 2014

  • Center for Wooden Boats

    Last Sunday, Cousin Jane went down to South Lake Union and reserved a spot on a sailboat at the Center for Wooden Boats. It’s free, you just have to go down in the morning and reserve a spot! Veronica was returning home from her orchestra festival and Steve went to pick her up, but Jane, Carl, Étienne and I went down to get a sailboat ride. It was a beautiful sunny day.

    This was the boat we were on! It’s a real sailboat, no motor, so we were totally dependent on the wind to sail around Lake Union. Me, Étienne and Carl on the boat.
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    Sailing out, the center is right next to MOHAI.
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    Gasworks Park.
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    Houseboats.
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    Super-yacht towering over houseboats.
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    Bill Gates’ helicopter boat, and a seaplane.
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    This was a great day, thanks Jane! While the sailboat rides are taken quickly, they also have Umiaqs and I believe you could walk up and sign up for a ride on one of those. Next time!

June 4, 2014

  • Orcas Island Bound

    Today, the Loyal Heights 5th graders are off to Camp Orkila on Orcas Island for three days. Several parents put out the word of a happy hour tonight at a local pub celebrating the trip! I dropped Carl off two hours early at school.

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    Étienne is happy to send off his big brother because that will mean more birthday lasagna for himself tonight. Carl is excited to get on the luxury bus for the ride to the Anacortes Ferry. He brought a deck of Magic: The Gathering cards to play with his friends.

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    After some reflection, Étienne tries to stowaway. He will get his chance at Orkila later this summer.

June 2, 2014

  • Clipless Bicycle Pedals

    Just for the record Étienne, my youngest, is two days away from his 8th birthday. Today he is officially riding clipless pedals.

    Last Thursday, Carl took a spill riding home from downtown. His foot slipped off the pedal as he was mashing hard to climb the hill. The bike spun, he hit the street, and has a nice pedal tattoo on the back of his leg. We talked about clipless and he switched over the next day.

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    Today, Étienne had the same crash on the way home from school. These pictures show the new pedal system and yes, he can clip in and out with ease. Now the whole family is off of the rat traps and running clips or clipless.