Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Shoes, Tired Feet

I was reading an article by a foot doctor in a walking magazine the other day. He asserted that modern day shoes are designed to support our feet so well, that they make them weak. The raised heels and inflexible soles keep the feet from working and adsorbing shock they way they should.

I've been told by a physical therapist that I had the "floppiest" ankles they'd ever seen. Ankle trouble kept me from running as much as I would have liked to. I was told there was nothing I could do except get shoes with more support. I was also told they would get worse over time.

Anyway, I bought these Converse One-Stars the other day on a whim. I had something like them when I was a kid (white Converse All-Star high tops, IIRC). These were only $8, and met the doctors description of good shoes in that they have a flat, thin, flexible sole with no support. I didn't realize at the time, that they are similar to what the new Doctor Who wears (see the video). The stars and stitching were white, but I took colored Sharpies to them. CUSTOM!

After wearing them all day, my feet are tired. That is good, I think. Maybe they'll whip my floppy ankles into shape.

Can you picture me running a race in these? I might start a trend!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Sister Missionaries, Scene 4

Scene 4 – Write it Down (Puzzled person - Eliana)
Parking lot of appartment complex. Missionaries meet puzzled person.

M1 – Hello, can we help you?

Person – I just moved in and I cant remember which apartment is mine. I just cant seem to remember anything.

M2 – You remember your name, don’t you?

Person – Oh yes, my name is Linda.

M1 – You just moved in? Do you have it written down somewhere?

Person – Silly me, I’ve got it written down right her in my purse. Fumbles through purse.

M2 – We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.

Person – Don’t bother with names, I can never remember them.

M1 – We all have a hard time remember things. That is why we have the scriptures. Heavenly father knows we forget, so he had the prophets record important messages for us.

Person –Yes, the Bible. I’ve read the Bible. I can’t remember when, but I remember I read it.

M2 – There are more scriptures that just the bible. Have you heard of the book of Mormon? It is a record of a group of people who leave Jersusalem, come to North America, and are visited by Jesus after his resusurection.

Person – Jesus came to America? Why would he do that?

M1 – Jesus told his deciples, “other sheep have I which are not of this fold, . . . and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” He was speaking about those people in America.

Person – Wow, that sounds interesting. Where can I learn more about this.

M2 – Well, it just so happens we have a copy of the the Book of Mormon with us. Can we leave it with you and come back latter to answer any questions you might have?

Person – Sure. If you can remember where I live.

Both missionaries pull out note books and start to write.

M1 – Oh, don’t worry about that. We’ll remember..

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sweet days and domino love . . .

Robin makes me a sandwich in the morning most work days. A couple of weeks ago I found this note in the sack at lunchtime!

She also made me a domino message for me to see one morning. Pretty thoughtful!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Sister Missionaries, Scene 3

Scene 3 - Polygamists – (Person - Grandpa)
Missionaries are at another door.

M1 – Hello, we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. We'd like to tell you about . . . .

Person – The who? I don't think I've ever heard of them.

M2 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.

M1 – Have you heard of the Mormons?

Person – Oh, the Mormons. You're the ones who have more than one wife. Are you both married to the same man?

M1 – No. We don't practice polygamy. It is against the law. We are missionaries for our church.

Person – I though only boys were missionaries. I always see those two guys riding around on the bikes.

M2 – No, women can be missionaries too. In fact, . . .

Person – Would you like to come in and have a cup of coffee?

M1 – We would like to come in, but we don't drink coffee. The Lord has revieled to our prophets that coffee is bad for us.

Person – A prophet? Like that guy who found the golden book. Where is that thing kept, anyway?

M2 – We call them the Golden Plates. The prophet Josheph Smith translated them, and then they were taken back.

Person - That's too bad. With the price of gold these days, they would be worth a fortune.

M1 – We believe the message it contains is more priceless than gold. It can help us return to our Heavenly Father to live with him forever.

Person – Speaking of forever, I don't much time tonight. Can you come back latter?

M1 – Well, we're from the Church of Latterday Saints. I guess we can come back “latter”.

M2 – Thanks. We’ll try back latter.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Project Buggy goes live!

One of my goals after doing the electronic bugs for the reunion was to publish the instructions on how to do it. Doing that was as fun and challenging as doing the bug in the first place!

Here is the result:


Give it a look and let me know what you think. Let me know if you catch any glaring spellin or grammer errors. Be sure to check out the video. I'm especially proud of that, although the resolution leaves a bit to be desired (I'll blame that on Youtube).

There is a contest to get it published in a book. so vote for me at the instructables page. There is a "vote" button near the top of the page.

Now I can move on to my next project, which is . . .

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lets be movie friends . . .

The recent news story about the lawnchair-ballon guy got me thinking about a movie I watched a while ago that I would recommend to all. It is called The Astronaut Farmer.

I don't know exactly how it works, but if you want to share notes at Netflix, hit this link and be my friend:


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Truck Pool

With the heat waves we’ve been experiencing lately, we tried something novel. I backed the truck up into the yard and put a tarp in the back. We then filled it up with water.

What was amazing was that water critters started showing up as if there had been invitations sent out ahead of time! We had water boatmen and several large water bugs join the party. The girls learned last year that they can bite, or as the book says, “have piercing mouth parts”, so they were quickly rounded up as specimens. Ann Marie learned that if you put a boatmen in with a water bug, the smaller guy disappears after a while, leaving only parts of his wings!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to a Teenager!

Rachel has attained the venerable title of "teenager".

Of course, if we went by my proposed numbering system, she would have been a teenager two years ago, when she was oneteen. She would now be threeteen. Next year she would be fourteen. Get it?

Among other presents were a nice comforter (http://thepleasantlandofcounterpane.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-sheets.html) and a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver.

She is maturing into a beautiful young woman, and we are proud of her!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Game of Life Project

I posted a video of our combined Game of Life board from the reunion on the website of the lady that helped design the kit. I am proud to say she was impressed enough to put it on her blog as an example of teamwork:


As of 7/15, it has 1400 views on Youtube! Amazing for such poor photography.

Here is a good wikipedia entry on the game of life:

Assembly In Progress

Here is an interesting pattern we found. It is an example of an oscillating pattern with three positions. We let it run until the batteries died. I doubt well see it again!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Sister Missionaries, Scene 2

Scene 2 - "Hard of Hearing" – (Grandma)
Missionaries are tracting door to door.

M2 – O.K., you take this one? (She immediately knocks and then steps behind M1).

M1 – Um, I'm not sure I'm . . . . (door opens)

Woman (or man) – What, what do you want?

M1 – Hi, were from the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latterday Saints.

Woman – What? You came for ladders and paints? I don't have any of those.

M1 – (Holding up Book of Mormon) No, I'm sorry. We have a message about the Book of Mormon.

Woman – No, no one here named Norman. You might try next door.

M1 (to M2) – Remember doing I'm a Child of God in sign language for Primary? I'm going to try that.

M1 starts to try and sign a message . . .

Woman – Don't start flappin you hands at me young lady. Here, let me adjust my hearing aide. (she smacks the side of her head with her hand). There, thats better. Now, what is it you want?

M1 – We're from the Church of ...

Woman – Oh, dear, there it goes again. (she smacks her head several times). Why don't you girls come back latter.

M1 – (Very loud) O.K, we will. Thank you!
M2 (as they walk away) – What a crazy of lady.

Woman (from off stage) – What was that?

M1 – We were just admiring your daisies.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Scoop Schovle

(from a recording made of Niels Fugal in the 1950s, Listen Here)

I ust want to tell you bout dis Oxle Londstrem. He was the bigest fool I ever kno. He all the time gettin me into troubles. I think the most troubles he got me into was vhen ve both come to des contry. We hav been working at yumber lak at yumber camp up in Oregon. Ve have been working there for some sex week and one day day boss he come to me and he say "Lars, I think it best that you and Oxle take the gun and go up on the moutain and shoot the deer so we can have fresk meet for the camp." Well here been the river, and here on the bank of dem viver been dem camp, and bak of de camp been a great big high mountain. Oh, she be about em mile high! And she been cover all over vith rock and tree and stump and ting like yat you see.

Well, we ust got started climb up the mountain and I say to Oxle, "Look Oxle, there go a deer, shoot em quivk!" An Oxle, he say em, "No Lars, da boss say, 'we skall shoot the deer on top of da moutain'. Vell, vhile I'm telling em what I tink of em, da deer gets avay, so we have to climb clear up to the top of dat moutain. Dat vas the voorse climb I ever have. I tink we valk for seven miles for we come to da top. And then ve have to valk for some moor to hunt da deer. But, avter a vile I say to Oxle again, "look Oxle, right over there, bak on dat tree, been another deer. Now you shoot him or by son lingen heck I skall shoot you!" So he take good aim, and bang, he shoot da deer. Dats been a great big fella, so we take and tie his legs together and put him on a pole and carry him back to where we climb up on da mountain.

And I am looking down to camp, by heck I'm a tellin you that she ben twice so high down as she be far up, and I say to Oxle, "er, how are we goin to get way down dar to camp with this here dear?" He say, "I don't know, I's so tired I tink we better roll down". I say, "Oh, no. I got use for my neck yet!" He say, "vell, um we stay up here we freeze to death". I say "ya, and we roll down there and we break our kneck, and I think I'm feeling better with my freeze to death than with my neck broke." Well, we looking around through da trees and pretty soon I see somting. Wat you tink it vas? Well, it was one of dem der things ...a ...what you call on enlish a um, a um, well, anyhow, it one of dem things that you start from way up top of dem mountain and comes down and, um, well anyhow, it is a place where we shoot lumber shoot, it is the place where we shoot lumber. Now you know what a lumber shoot it is. So I say to Oxle, "look Oxle, der been am old lumber shoot."

He say, "by heck I got a good idea. We skall find a log, and we skall put the log in the lumber shoot and then we shall put the deer on the log, and we skall get on the log with the deer, and then we'll shoot the shoot!" I say, "you bet you life, if we goin to shoot down there, we have to have something to set on, elsk there been too many slivers". Vell a, I'm looking down to camp again, and I'm getting cold feet, so I say to Oxle, "this been your idea, you can go first, and den I see how you do it." But I guess Oxle, he been getting chill blanes too, and he says, "no, I mores tired than yous, yous better go first, and den when you come down to camp, you can bring the log back up to me". Vell, I'm valking around in the leaves to keep warm and pretty soon my feet him something. What do you tink it vas? It was one of dem things um, a, that you call on englis, a um, a ah, a shoop schovle. That is what it was, it was a shoop schovle.

I say to Oxle, "I got a good idea. One of us will take the log, and I'll take the shoop schovle." "Alright," he say, "lets go. I'm pretty near freezed to death." I say "allright, you can go first, and den you get there quicker." So, we pack the log. We could only find one log big enough for one fella to sit on, and we take dat log and put em in the lumber shoot, and den, a, we put da deer on da log. And den Olxe, he get on da log with the deer. And den I get on my shoop schovle back of de log. An he say,"now be shorn, dont forget to roll off when you come down to camp." I say, "maybe so I roll off before I come to camp". "Are you ready?" I say, "alright, let er go". He say "I cant, she stuck, give er a push." So I put my foot on der log, and I count "one, tow, tree . . ." Ha, ha, ha, ha! I never seen a fellow go so fast in all my life. Why I only got one good look at Oxle, and den I couldn't see him any more for the dust he vas makin. I say, "com bak Oxle, com bak," but he didn't come back. He ust kept on goin.

Den, when I thow my hands up, then I went. And I went ust like the wind. I don't have gone but 50 feet when I wush I was back where I had started frum, but when I com out over da first loop, den I can see Oxle. He vas clear down to camp, and ust as I look at him, the big fool, he roll off. Ya, he roll off alright, but he didn't stop. He ust kept on goin. First Oxle was on top of the log and der deer, and den the deer was on top of Oxle. And I say to my self, there's another fellow goin break his neck. You bet your life I'm goin to stick to my shoop schovle. And I stick to it, and I went ust like the vind, downd past da camp, and 50 feet out into the river. By heck, I'm a tellin you, I didn't get there any too quick ether, because my shoop schovle was red hot! Well, den I swim out to the bank of da river and climb out, and you know, I have to climb clear up to the top of dat moutain again to get my cap dat blowed off when I started.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Origins of Project Buggy

Someone asked me how I came up with the LED bug project we did for the reunion. There is quite a bit of "Buggy" that is original, as in idea wise, but there were a number of projects that inspired me to do it.

If you remember the soda bottle water rocket project from an earlier reunion, the plans came from Make Magazine. That magazine also had an article in about “LED Throwies”. They involve using a single LED, a coin cell battery, and a magnet to make something glowing that you can stick to something metal. I did up a couple for my girls without the magnets, and they seemed fascinated by it. They are beautiful in their simplicity, but don't last long or interact with the kids at all

What really got me thinking was Alex Weber who added a small programmable microcontroller chip and a photocell so that it interacted with light. I was already working with an Arduino microcontroller development system (Make Magazine again), so it sounded like something I could do. The shaped copper wire has a wonderful techno-sculpture quality, but doesn’t seem too practical for kids to play with.

The final piece of the puzzle came when I saw Blinky Bugs. Using a simple wire loop as a switch, the bug’s antenna act as a touch sensor. An insect with LED eyes! I was interested in the sensor part, but the loop system sounded a bit delicate to work reliably with kids playing with it.

So, I started out with the goal of creating a platform for a “craft-type” bug project for the children that would interact with them in as many ways as possible. My hope was to come up with something original enough that other people might want to build it and improve upon it! It was marvelous to see the original ideas the kids came up with.

Now I just need to take the final step in the project and publish the design to the web. This is a start!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Sister Missionaries, Scene 1

The Sister Missionaries - A short play by the Olsen Family.

Scene 1 – Baltimore. Early morning, outside on a side walk or inside their appartment, two sister missionaries are trying to decide how to start their day. . .

*Missionary #1. Sister Gungho. This is her first area and she is excited and ready to start teaching.
*Missionary #2. Sister Shorthawl. Late in her mission. She has been in Baltimore too long and has yet to have a baptism.

M1 – So where are going today. Can we do some tracting?

M2 – Oh, I was thinking we could stop by the McBride’s house for a bit. The're are nice members of the church and they always have some freshly baked brownies for us.

M1 – Do they have any non-member friends we could teach?

M2 – Um, I don’t know. We’ve never asked.

M1 – It’s a bit early in the morning for brownies. How about we do some tracting?

M2 – Well, the only area we haven’t tried lately is Dreary Hill. We’ve been avoiding that area. The last set of missionaries that went tracting there got mugged.

M1 – Mugged? Well, remember, Elder Oaks said that missionaries are eight times safer than their friends at home.

M2 – I don’t think Elder Oaks has ever been to Dreary Hill.

M1 - If it is as bad as that, there must be someone who needs to hear the message of the gospel. Let’s go find someone to teach.

M1 grabs M2’s hand and pulls her along in a determined manner.

M2 – (Grumbling under her breath) It is going to be a long day . . .