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The Art of Tinkering

The Exploratorium in San Francisco recently released a book called The Art of Tinkering. They describe it as

a celebration of a whole new way to learn by thinking with your hands, working with readily available materials, getting your hands dirty, and, yes, sometimes failing and bouncing back from getting stuck.

Sounds like exactly what I enjoy!

I’m excited and proud to be a part of it, with a section on Pumpktris right on page 73, sharing a spread with some creators I really look up to.

You can order a copy at the Exploratorium store or at Amazon.

Posted in Craft.

First Hike of 2014

It might have only been 34 degrees out, but the sun was shining and that’s all we need here in the northwest. We did a short hike at Latourell Falls in the Columbia Gorge. Everett led the way, and only complained once (at the very end) about being tired. Because it was so cold, there were some icy spots on the trail, and the bridges at the base of the upper and lower falls were both covered in a sheet of ice.

Ready to go with his backpack and emergency whistle!

Walking stick acquired!

The bridge at the base of the falls was covered in a solid sheet of ice.

Posted in Family.

A Creepy Halloween

For Halloween this year Everett went as a creeper, a character from his favorite computer game Minecraft. We had a lot of fun, but swore afterward that this was the last year of costumes made from boxes. It’s just too hard to get up and down stairs, and even to keep up with the other kids on the sidewalk.

Posted in Family.

First Grade School Portrait

Posted in Family.

The Science of Buoyancy and Frozen Yogurt

There was some helium left in the tank we got to fill balloons for Everett’s birthday, so we wanted to do some experiments to see just how much weight a balloon could lift.

The first step was to build a cargo container from a paper cup and attach it to the balloon. We slowly added salt to the cup until we found that exact weight where it didn’t sink or rise.

The cup and its cargo came in at 1/8 of an ounce. Everett figured that eight balloons should then be able to lift one ounce. Practical math!

We filled up eight balloons and headed down to the self-serve, pay-by-the-ounce frozen yogurt shop where we could put our one ounce of lift to profitable use.

His mix of yogurt and toppings came in at 5.1 ounces.

We attached the balloons and the scale dropped to 4 ounces. Our estimate was almost perfect! That’s a 43 cent savings! Do you think they’ll notice the balloons?

One thing Everett didn’t count on, though, was what happened when he ate enough to get his treat down to less than an ounce. Catch it!

Posted in Family.

A Few Questions About Star Wars

Because we said he could when he turned six, last week we watched Star Wars (Episode IV–the original one) for the first time with Everett. He had a lot of questions. A lot of questions. I transcribed them all, and you can almost follow the plot of the movie through his questions:

Those are storm troopers. What’s all that smoke?
Why is the escape pod spinning?
Why did R2 fall over?
What’s a moisture farm?
Why is one of the suns white?
How many suns does their solar system have?
What are those? Oh yeah, sand people.
Why are they called sand people?
What are they doing to that landspeeder?
Why is his house burning?
What ship are they on?
What’s a cantina?
Who are those guys?
Why are there different species from different planets?
What are they shooting?
What’s that dead thing?
Who lost that arm?
Why are there stormtroopers?
Did he just die? Why?
Is that the Millennium Falcon?
Why could the lasers not hit the Millennium Falcon?
Why is Princess Leia on the Death Star?
What did they blow up?
Why can it destroy a whole planet?
What’s that door that just opened?
How fast are they going?
What does ‘jettison’ mean?
Why is it as big as a moon?
What does terminated mean?
Who’s going to kill her?
What is the detention wing?
Did an imperial guy fall?
Why did Han Solo take his helmet off?
What’s their operator number?
Is Chewie trying to get out of the garbage?
Is it compacting?
What’s that river?
What is Obi Wan Kenobi doing?
Why are they trying to extend the bridge?
Why did one of the storm troopers fall?
Did he die?
Was it a shaft?
Is that his light saber?
Why are they fighting?
What’s that fire?
Why did R2D2 put it out?
What are those wires?
How fast are they going?
Why is he plugging R2 in?
What is the moon of Yavin called?
What is the rebellion
What’s that green thing they’re holding?
What’s that droid?
Why did Princess Leia give Luke a kiss?
Will the X-Wings get destroyed?
Are they trying to run away?
Did Porkins die?
What’s Biggs’ last name?
Why did he blow up a tie fighter?
Did the guy inside die?
What team is he on?
What is Vader flying?
Why are they called tie fighters?
What is R2 doing?
Who is Wedge?
What just crashed?
Did Biggs die?
What are they pushing?
What happened to R2?
Did it kill C3PO?
Why are their friends hugging?
What is second unit makeup?

Far from being obnoxious, it was a lot of fun. I love his always-inquisitive nature, and we’re looking forward to watching the rest of the series.

Posted in Family.