Friday, August 17, 2012

Blender Ice Cream

This week held some unusually hot days.

Well, sort of.  Summer here in Eugene always has a few days in the high 90s.  So the heat is "unusual" as in "fairly rare" rather than "unpredictably surprising".

Anyway, the weather prompted me to buy ice at the grocery store during my morning walk with Gallant around the neighborhood, while my wife and Smiley slept more.

Our freezer has an ice maker but we disconnected it several years ago after the plastic tube that travels between the freezer and pipes under the sink had a leak.  Now we have ice cube trays and more freezer space.  So having a lot of ice at home is unusual.  Time to experiment with recipes!

We have a new blender ice cream recipe online.  We've made it twice today.  Yum!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Red Cane Theatre

Last Saturday was a hot day, and an early and uncomfortable work-day for my wife.

So I spoiled her by driving to Ring of Fire to get some fancy Thai food that is gluten-safe even for her acute sensitivity.

In the same shopping plaza is a new theatre, the Red Cane Theatre.  You can read more about them in a Eugene Weekly article.  Some (all?) of their actors were out front, taking a break and welcoming arriving dinner patrons, while we were two doors down getting our Thai food; they appeared very friendly and professional.

Looking at the upcoming shows, I expect my wife would enjoy Robin Hood and perhaps Grease. I am not sure if any of their productions are appropriate for children Smiley's age, but Robin Hood and the mermaid story might be.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Somewhat Unhappy Week

Last week I suffered from stomach problems.  I do not know if I was sick or had food poisoning.  I was blessed that it did not interfere too much with parenting or math teaching.

I wrote in May about changing my novels from DOC files into HTML.  That is now done.  Yay!

I also got to do some pleasure reading last week, since I was forced to spend extra time sitting alone.  I read some of my favorite fantasy story, The Initiate Brother.  I did not finish, but got to again enjoy the best parts.

My next book to read in the bathroom is an overview of Biblical archeology.  It is one of those books I purchased years ago when I was actively running a religious congregation but never got around to reading.  Fortunately, I am healthier this week and have not gotten very far.

A Busy Weekend

This weekend was a very busy one.  My wife's work required her to do an online training on both weekend days.  Fortunately, this could be done at home.  Unfortunately, it was East Coast time, so she was required to be at her laptop from 6am until 2pm (with a break for lunch).

I had to keep the boys away from the house as much as I could, so they would not interrupt mommy!

On Saturday we hung out on West 11th.  Smiley had his normal gym class at 9:45 am until 10:30 am.  To keep away from home we also went to the open gym at 11:00 am.  But what to do for the half an hour in between?  Drive a few blocks to our favorite pet store, Zany Zoo.

We found out that Zany Zoo now has "petting zoo hours" on Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm.  We were too early for that, but still enjoyed looking at the animals.  We will try to visit their during petting hours next weekend, perhaps as a play date with one of Smiley's friends.

Sunday we went to a friend's fourth birthday party at Camp Putt.  I had never been there before.  It was very nice, and the miniature golf was silly.  I should write more about it later.

A Planetarium Rainforest Adventure

On Friday I enjoyed my first ever movie date with Smiley.

Grandma babysat Gallant while Smiley and I went to a Science Factory planetarium dome showing of Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure.  (It appears that you can watch the normal-screen version on Hulu.)

Lots of bugs were featured.  The two stars of the show, whose complete lifecycles were shown, were a caterpillar named Papilio and a praying mantis named Hierodula.  At the end of the film the mantis eats the butterfly, which seemed a very odd choice for a kid's film but did not bother Smiley at all.  He liked the film a lot.

The movie was beautiful and the filming was amazing.  But there was not much of a story: just the two stars eating and developing, interrupted by lots of other bugs, without any sense of narrative flow.  I'll readily trust this reviewer who claims he knows about better bug films for kids.

I was worried that I had forgotten Smiley's earmuffs, but he got used to the volume.

All the audience was families with at least one young kid (some older siblings too), which meant that no one minded Smiley's frequent quiet questions.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Gallant's at One Year

Somehow I have neglected to write about Gallant since late May.  What has he been up to for a bit over two months?

One Year Check-up

He had his one-year check-up.  That day he was 28.4 inches tall (10th percentile), he weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces (15th percentile), and his head size was 46.5 cm (55th percentile).  Compared to his brother at that age he was an inch shorter, half a pound heavier, and about 1 cm less head circumference.

(For comparison's sake, here is the link to Gallant's nine month measurements.)

Walking and Running

Gallant is very comfortable on his feet.

He walks well, and likes to carry things.  Both hands full is best!  Sometimes he drag things behind him.

Pushing toys can fun, but only now and then.  His big brother really adored pushing things, especially toy wagons.  Gallant just wants his hands full.

The exception is pushing toys down stairs or down the back deck's ramp.  He loves that!  I spend a lot of time bringing toys back up onto the deck for him to push down again: bump, bump, bump.  His favorite pushing game is pushing the little doll stroller down the ramp.

When we go for a morning walk he likes to leave the stroller for the home stretch and walk down the sidewalk from the middle school to the bottom of our hill.  That third of a mile takes him 18 minutes.  He has to stop and look at every crow, dog, and cat.  The sidewalk has a few deep worn-down cracks, which he often will cross and re-cross to make sure he has mastered walking over them.  One neighbor has recently replaced their duplex's water meters: he always takes a little detour to walk on the sand around those and step about upon them.

He also runs a lot, usually in the back yard but also when I am exercising by doing some sprints across the fake-grass field behind the middle school he runs about and shouts.

He only jumps when I hold his hands.  He likes that.

He climbs, but is not at all the super-climber his big brother was.  He loves our plastic slide.

He can climb up stairs very well.  Down stairs is usually okay, but occasionally (almost always on the steps leading down from the gazebo) he tries descend while sitting and might tip over.

He also likes stepping on things.  I am not sure how much this is a balance game and how much it is a manipulating objects games.  Cloths, small toys, bits of rope or chain.  He reaches forward with one foot and wiggles them around.

Smiley likes to use a walking stick when we go on a walk around the neighborhood.  (He has two lengths of broom handle.)  Gallant has picked up on that.  He looks very cute walking around the back yard using one of his big brother's sticks as a walking stick that is slightly taller than he is.

(Ironically, Gallant still refuses to ride that little wood scooter which had been such an important part of Smiley's life at one year of age.)


I wrote about Gallant getting in his sixth tooth.  Now he has ten teeth.  A top and bottom molar on each side have arrived.  (My lack of sleep during that long process is a big reason I have done so little blogging since May.  Now he is sleeping through the night again.  Yay!)


A year ago I wrote about all sorts of roughhousing games that Smiley invented.  Gallant is now old enough to enjoy rough housing, but does not usually care what it involves as long as the movement is fairly gentle and he is receiving lots of attention.


Gallant is allowed to eat just about anything now that he is over one year old.

He enjoys feeding himself.  Using a spoon is still very tricky, but banana and full-fat Greek yogurt stay on pretty well even turned upside-down.  Applesauce is a favorite but much more messy.

We are no longer keeping track of when we introduce foods, but I should mention that today he had chocolate chips for the first time.  (Today has record heat for this summer so far: 97 degrees Fahrenheit.  I took some cookies out of the freezer.  Cool cookies are nice on a hot day, and he loves dried cranberries even though they go right through him.  I bit off the obvious chocolate chips, but he still got some.)

During his molar teething he had some very fussy days when all he really wanted to eat was fruit.  A lack of non-milk fats caused his poops to turn soft and white.  We solved that problem by mixing olive oil into his applesauce and introducing him to Larabars (which taste like fruit but have nuts with their fats).  He still refuses to eat avocado, which once was a favorite--why, oh why that sad change?
We are using our Toddler Nutrition Log to confirm that Gallant eats a balanced diet.

New Toys

Gallant also gets to use the sandbox now.  We move it down from the stand I built to keep it at a good hight for Smiley.

One day he tried crayons with his brother.  They were great for putting into and out of the purple cup.  That is all he did with them.

On warm days his brother plays in the wading pool.  Gallant just watches, and splashes the water (with his hands or a toy) while leaning over the edge.  He likes baths, but for some reason does not like being in the wading pool.

Remember the new big swing?  Gallant can swing too!  We unhook his brother's wooden circle seat and hang up our baby swing seat.  It is nice to have a child who enjoys the swing at a young age.  (Smiley would only swing for a few moments until we made the big swing.  Park swings were too boring for him.)

Gallant's selection of inside toys has not changed much.  He still likes stacking toys and putting objects in boxes.  He shows more interest now in board books and shape sorters.  He has become fond of rolling toy cars down cardboard ramps.  He gets to shake the vacuum cord when I vacuum (which is a treat since he is otherwise prohibited from touching electrical cords).  He yearns to play with dishes in the dishwasher, but I do not let him help with unloading the dishes (as his brother got to help at that age) because he still drops them on the floor so often.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Four Categories of Traps

Steve Winter, author of The Howling Tower, has recently written a Kobold Quarterly article that categorizes traditional role-playing game dungeon traps into four purposes.

Here is my version, which is as much alteration as paraphrase:
  • Puzzle: The story hopes the heroes find this puzzle and spend time or resources to solve or disarm it.  Which colored tiles are safe to walk on to cross the room?  How should the levers be moved to open the exit rather than the monster's cage?
  • Certain Death: The story hopes the heroes notice this trap's placement and also that they cannot nullify it.  The trap must be avoided and exists only to redirect them.  It does so with a satisfyingly suspenseful escape that focuses entirely on the current location.
  • Forward Railroad: The story hopes the heroes do not notice this trap until it forcibly moves the heroes to a new place in the story.  The heroes fall down a chute to a deeper level of the dungeon, are gassed unconscious in the wizard's tower and awake in a cell as toads, etc.
  • Roadblock: The story hopes the heroes do not notice this trap until they trigger it, temporarily stopping the story.  (Sometimes it is triggered yet the effect is not noticed until the heroes return to the location and then discover that an exit is blocked or an item is missing.)  Yet it neither provides hints about what to do nor does it move the heroes along in the story.  Instead the heroes must use the information they have gathered so far to decide how to respond to the halted progress.
(My blog has very few comments.  I expect a better discussion where I copied this as a topic in the Story Game forum.)

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Nice New Tea

I am enjoying a new kind of tea.

At Sunrise Market, the local Asian grocery store, I saw a new type of tea and decided to try it.

It is Hojicha, a Japanese roasted green tea.  Hojicha only contains tea leaves, unlike Genmaicha and other Japanese or Korean roasted teas that contain rice, barley, or corn along with or instead of tea leaves.

(Barley would not be welcome in our gluten-free home!)

I bought one of these packages by Yamamotoyama (but I only purchased one package instead of the six-pack Amazon sells).  I cannot say how similar other brands taste.  But I like it a lot, both plain and with milk.

Last summer I wrote about discovering Yerba Maté.  Will I continue to discover a new type of beverage each year?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Classroom Fair Use versus Copyright Infringement

The LCC Library posts a newsletter named Inklings three times each year with news about the library.  Instructors get a copy in our department mailboxes.

The Spring 2012 newsletter (PDF) had a fascinating list of ten classroom situations that may or may not involve copyright infringement.  You can quiz yourself by following that PDF link.  Is each situation fair use or copyright infringement?

All ten situations and the answers are at this link.