Saturday, August 28, 2010

OK, but is it art?

It all started because I keep myself well hydrated at work. I drink a LOT of water during the day. We have those standard water coolers that use the five gallon water bottles, and because I drink a lot of water, I end up having to change the bottles fairly often. At the beginning of the year, I started saving the plastic caps from the water bottles - I don't know why; they are orange and kind of nice looking, but still.

In any case, a few weeks ago I realized I had way too many of these caps (over 60) and needed to do something with them. I thought it would be cool to use them as orange "pixels" to "draw" "images" with. A coworker came up with the idea of putting little squares of magnetic tape on each one, and sticking them to a sheet of metal.

I remembered I had an old top to a lizard cage (thanks Lihp - not his real name), so I painted its underside black and spent a couple of hours cutting and sticking bits of magnetic tape to these caps.

Above is my first attempt at creating something (prior to hanging it on the wall). The obvious issue is that this has to be VERY low resolution "art." Which makes creating something recognizable quite a challenge.

This one came out OK (and was the first one hanging on the wall outside my office), but it was before I had any idea what to do with the leftover pixels.

Then I thought of the low resolution icons that computers used to have. I really doubted anyone would work out what this was, but a geek passing the hallway guessed it immediately. (It is Dogcow, an image used in early Apple print dialogs to show print orientation. She (!) makes the sound "Moof" when excited. (Someone later used a few leftover pixels to give her a bone, which made me happy that they were able to recognize what it was, if not exactly who it was.)

This one was pretty easy and nobody had much trouble working it out. (It's the Final Cut Pro logo. Sort of.)

Then we found out that our walls were to be painted. This "art" piece was extremely unofficial and I feared for its safety, so I unscrewed it from the wall and hoped for the best. Fortunately, coworker Yma was still at work when the painters noticed the holes in the wall and started muttering vague threats. Yma showed them the "art" piece and they were impressed (well, at least relieved that they didn't have to patch the holes) and left her with a short lecture about the proper use of mollies.

In honor of them, I did this. Sadly, nobody has been able to work out what it is.

So it's probably not art, but it is kind of fun. (And would be more fun if we'd start getting water bottles with different colored caps.)

That's it - move along...

PS: It's a paint bucket with a paint brush dripping paint next to it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some first grade heat

There has been a fair amount of whining in the Bay Area over how cool it has been this summer. Starting this last Monday though, all the whining was from people that didn't have air conditioning. It got hot.

First, Sunday was Tomato Picking Day. Even with the cool weather, our tomato plants have been producing. Here Riley is sitting in front of the day's bounty. Riley won't eat tomatoes, but loves the thrill of the hunt.

Darci and I went to work making salsa. We made two versions: mild for Darci and not so mild for the rest of us. If Darci looks stressed and harried, it's because she knows what happens on Monday.

Yes, the Giants play the Reds. Oh, and it's the first day of First Grade for her. Here she is at her desk, looking for weaknesses in her teacher. (And I was kidding about being stressed about school - she was so ready for this day.)

And Riley did his "happy dance" on the playground since this meant he was going to get to play with Darci's toys while she was busy memorizing math cards.

After school, it was time to cool off in the "pool." I'm not exactly sure what Darci is doing here - yoga? synchronized swimming? - but I'm pretty sure she should be paying more attention to Riley.

Does that look like the face of someone that can be trusted with a loaded Super Soaker?


Don't believe him if he swears he won't squirt you. Oh, he'll say he was trying to hit a bug and you just got in the way. And then he'll smile at you.

Now here's an honest face. And The Boy's isn't too bad either. The Boy has started back at his automotive classes again, this time focussing on drivetrains. Although there is also a lot of focus on getting used to waking up really early again after a summer of mostly sleeping in.

That's it - move along...

PS: The heat wave lasted three days. We are now back to scraping frost off the windshield in the morning. Figuratively speaking.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

At least they got the "breeze" part right

Today was Brazen Racing's Summer Breeze race. It was at the same place that we ran the Bay Breeze race earlier in the year (click here for my write-up of that event). I'm not going to make the "Summer Freeze" joke, but I will say that the chances of anyone having issues due to heat exhaustion were very minimal. And actually, considering it is August, cool running weather is a good thing. But I doubt anyone would have missed the "breeze."

Mrs Notthat ran the Half Marathon while I worked at the first aid station with Aicirt and her daughter Aras (not their real names).

Working the first aid station had a few challenges:

• You couldn't drive to it. This meant we had to use wheelbarrows and walk the stuff 1.5 miles to the 5K turn-around to set up. This picture shows Mrs Notthat (who, by walking out with us, actually ended up doing a 5K as a warm up to her Half Marathon - she's an animal!), Aicirt, and Aras.

• It had to be set up first since it was the first one the runners would reach. So there was a bit of a hurry to get it up and running.

• It had to stay up the longest since it was also the last aid station the runners would get to.

Aicirt took back one of the wheelbarrows to get the rest of the water. (This means she ended up doing a 10K!) Aras artfully cut up the fruit and set out the other foods, often having to chase them down when a gust would come up.

That cone represents the 5K turn-around. All of the races were out-and-back with turn-arounds at the halfway points. That 5K sign blew over several times. The orange cone, however, stood its ground.

Note: I promised Mr Brazen that I would tackle any 5K runners that ran past this sign. (You could tell who they were by the color of the numbers on their bib.) Sadly, I failed for one runner, a nice woman who thought it was a bit amusing to have missed this sign. I doubt she would have thought it amusing if she had gotten very far, say, to the 10K turn-around. I know I wouldn't have.

The aid station is all set up and ready to go. And "go" that shade did. We ended up collapsing it back down since it was more keen on pretending to be a kite than providing any kind of shelter.

Improvised weights were used to secure the trash boxes.

Aras and The Blog waiting for our first customers. (Another fun thing about the first aid station is that you get to see ALL the runners. Another challenging thing is that they all tend to show up at the same time.)

I got about 270 pictures of runners going past us (which I will post at Brazen's Picassa website - I missed groups of runners though when things got really busy and I had to help fill cups, and then later when my camera battery died).

There were a number of San Jose Fitters in the race, although I missed getting pictures of many of them. I did manage to get Anert though.

And Ahterb and Mrs Notthat (sorry that I caught you making such an odd face - I know I know, I'll make my bed on the deck tonight for posting this). In the background to the left you see the back of Yaj, a park ranger with a golf cart and a soft heart - he helped us immensely by hauling back some heavy/bulky stuff for us, making it easier for us to wheel all of this back out once we were done.

Fitter Anrol, enjoying the race (or just happy to be so close to being done).

A Fitter whose name completely escapes me. (Next time you see me, you have my permission to tie my shoe laces together. Sorry!)

Fitter Eirrac. (Notice the chunks of blue sky making an appearance!)

And then finally the Sweeper came through. This was our signal that the last runner had been through and we could pack up and head back. It maybe took us 30 to 40 seconds to do this.

It was a great day. Mrs Notthat set a personal record with her time (even though she fought a cramp for a lot of the way - this was a common theme since the coolness made it hard for some to get warmed up very well). We had a great time at the aid station - Aras was great at being perky even though she was very cold.

Thanks to Mr and Mrs Brazen for putting on another successful and fun event. I can't wait for Drag-N-Fly in a few weeks.

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grandkids and pooping trees

This post covers a lot of ground since I haven't been covering much ground lately in these posts.

We'll start with last weekend, when Mrs Notthat and Irbua (whose real name means "Wind" in Klingon, requiring this blog to refer to her as The Big Wind from now on) took the grandkids to the Pismo Beach area.

Mrs Notthat is a firm believer in beach safety. Helmets provide an added touch of security when exploring tide pools. Riley is the one that looks like he has an orange horn sticking out of his helmet. The grandkids spent a fair amount of time bonking their heads together - the 49ers would have been proud.

They spent an hour terrorizing the sand dunes in this souped up sand buggy. Mrs Notthat drove it for a bit before turning it over to The Big Wind, who promptly managed to run it into a sand dune.

The next day they took a "Sub Sea" tour in a boat with large glass underwater windows. The highlight of the trip was when the captain (as he had done when we had taken the same tour several years ago) dangled a plastic octopus in front of the windows. Riley said this was the best part of the whole trip, especially since the captain let him dangle it too.

Meanwhile, back home, the neighborhood ash trees are all infested with aphids. Lots of them. This is the top of our car after being parked one night under one of the trees - those sticky white spots are all aphid poop. The streets around these trees is sticky and a bit shiny - very odd. It's a problem throughout the Bay Area with this particular type of tree. Unfortunately parking is so scarce on our street that we are often forced to park here.

On Saturday, Mrs Notthat, Luap, and I went for a challenging 16 mile hike in Big Basin State Park. We talked to a ranger before heading out and asked what would be a good hike to add to the 11.5 mile Berry Creek Falls hike; he looked at us for a bit (probably trying to work out how many helicopters it was going to take to rescue us and mentally making odds on our survival), noticed that we at least looked prepared with Camelbacks and lots of water bottles, then suggested the Buzzard's Roost hike.

The above picture is from the top of Buzzard's Roost - this was a great little hike to warm up on with 1,100 feet of climbing. We then set out on the Beery Creek Falls loop which was very cool, with four waterfalls, a snake, thousands of well hidden tree roots to trip on, and an angry hornet that stung the back of my leg (and another that stung the back of Luap's head). It also had about 2,500 feet of climbing.

Needless to say, we were tired after all this. And the ranger almost looked disappointed when we made it back safe, barely limping, and still well hydrated.

On Sunday, the grandkids showed up for a bit, which was good, because the garden needed some attention, and the grandkids are good at giving attention to it (at least for a bit).

They started by harvesting the carrots that we planted several months ago.

Here Darci is rinsing them off. Both kids love eating these.

Then it was time to pick tomatoes. Our cool summer (which may have something to do with our pooping trees) has not been kind to our tomato plants. A few renegade tomatoes managed to ripen in spite of the lack of sun. We only have one cherry tomato plant this year - the rest are normal tomatoes from plants that were given to us. They are producing lots of green tomatoes, so hopefully if we are patient, we will be eating fresh salsa well into the fall. Unless it starts snowing.

Mrs Notthat and the grandkids showing off their bounty.

Once the garden had taken all the attention it could stand, the grandkids turned their eyes on creating other mayhem. They liked running little cars down these tubes.

And I have no idea what this was about. It reminded me of Dr Dolittle's Push-Me-Pull-You.

And that's about it. This coming weekend is another Brazen race (Summer Breeze) and the grandkids are hoping for more medals.

That's it - move along...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Doing the Bay Area in a day

Actually, three days. And not ALL of the Bay Area. But enough to convince two cousins from Ohio that A) California isn't all evil; B) There really are weirdos in San Francisco; 3) California + Summer ≠ Warm (at least in San Francisco).

Rehtaeh and Nevar (not their real names) flew out from Ohio on Thursday. Even better, Weird Haired Mom made it back to town. Unfortunately, everyone arrived too late and too tired to squeeze in a quick sightseeing trip to Alcatraz or the Trees of Mystery. So the clock started on the fun part of the trip Friday morning.

While I went to work, Mrs Notthat was the tour guide as they headed up to San Francisco for the day. Lombard Street was visited.

Lunch was eaten at the world famous Cliff House. (I'm not sure how much they had to tip to get that window seat, but it was probably worth it.)

In the afternoon, WHM, Needs Cool Name, and the grandkids joined the others at Pier 39. Note that everyone has a jacket on. Note that the flags are all sticking out straight (and that somebody managed to hang them all backwards). Yes - this is a typical summer day in San Francisco - probably thirty degrees cooler than it was in Ohio.

Here the group is eating dinner at a McDonalds.

And that pretty much finished off Friday. Saturday morning was spent doing our best not to get lost on the trails of Lake Chabot while eating as many cookies and ice cream bars as possible. And we all got medals to prove it.

After we cleaned up a bit, we drove the absurdly windy roads to Big Basin State Park and all stood in a tree. Note that all of us are wearing our Bad Bass race t-shirts. People tended to give us a wide berth as we wandered around the redwood trees.

Riley got thirsty.

And then put himself on timeout.

But then cousin Nevar rescued him with a hug.

Rehtaeh and Nevar maturely posing for a very tasteful picture. Ha!

As if we hadn't done enough walking, we all headed out on the Redwood Trail.

We found another tree we could stand in. Not all at once, but still it was pretty cool.

The mothers all stood behind the sign for the Mother of the Forest tree. It was completely unintended that  "Diameter Breast Height" is legible but the rest of that line isn't. Would the Father of the Forest tree sign also have this line?

Once we were satisfied that we had seen a lot of redwood trees, most of the group headed to the Great Mall for some Shopping Opportunities. The lucky ones, which included me, had a nice pasta dinner and headed home.

Sunday was spent at Six Flags Marine World Africa USA. (Not by me, however. This blog is not allowed in most theme parks. I mean, why "Six Flags?" Shouldn't there be at least a dozen of them by now?)

In any case, in this picture you can see Mrs Notthat and Irbua making everyone around them deaf while The Boy ponders what flavor of milk shake would go best with the burger he will be getting later.

Meanwhile, Darci and Riley chose to ride a much more sane ride.

Here the group is waiting for the killer whale show to start. (I'm pretty sure no whales were actually killed. Lots of little fish did not have a good day, however.)

And fittingly we wrap it all up at a restaurant. I believe this is a Denny's. Really.

And that was about it. Three action packed days followed by an absurdly early flight back out to Ohio. It was a blast having a couple cousins out to visit. Even better, they both said that they want to come back and spend more time.

There's still Alcatraz and the Trees of Mystery.

That's it - move along...