April 2007


I’ve been able to indulge my urge to build lately.  I subscribed to “Make” magazine which I enjoyed so much that I bought the entire first year boxed set and enjoyed that too.  So much so that I got off my duff and began a couple of projects that had been trickling through my brain for a couple of years.

The first was a kaleidoscope.  I always enjoyed these as a kid but was always annoyed that they were made of cheap materials; not even a real mirror – they always had shiny aluminum foil type stuff.  I recently observed that a full-length mirror at Home Depot costs less than six dollars.  So I bought this huge mirror and cut myself several pieces to make a huge kaleidoscope.  I figured “why bother with some tiny thing that I have to squint with one eye to look through?”  I made it huge so that I could look with both eyes.  I read something on the internet once that it would be cool to make it taper outward so that the reflected images look even stranger so I did that.  Very cool stuff.  I should post some photos.

Then, with acres of mirror left over, I embarked on a stereoscopic viewer.  By taking a left photo and a right photo with my digicam (separated a bit of course), I should be able to make a gizmo (like the old stereopticons)  to assemble the photos into a 3D image.  Most viewers do that with simple lenses but I didn’t have lenses; I had mirrors.  No problem!  After minimal effort with some plywood and my table saw, I had a frame for holding the mirrors and it works!  I have yet to glue the mirrors down so that using the thing is a bit of a problem but that’s nothing, it works and that’s what makes it exciting.  I also noted that you can just hold it up and look through it at the world around you and our normal binocular vision is sort of enhanced; presumably because the mirrors are farther apart than my eyes are which is the same as if my eyes were about a foot apart.  Kind of a cool side effect.

I had to take a weekend off from this voyage of exploration to go help one of the kids in the scout troop do his Eagle project.  He’s making many, many bat boxes for a local conservation area and so the whole troop, Evan, and I went over to his garage to do some woodworking last Saturday.  It was fun for me of course.  I got to run the drill press and make the holes for the bats to crawl through.

So, life is good.  I wish I didn’t have to stop and mow grass, clean gutters, and all that.  I still haven’t pulled the gutters off the house to fix that rotted fascia but I guess I’ll have to get on that after Evan’s court of honor is over.  No more science projects until the “real” work is done.   But with things like “Make” magazine and instructables.com, there is no shortage of ideas.

We attended the spring band concert the other night (Tuesday).  Three traditional bands (sort of their “good, better, best” bands) played as well as the jazz ensemble which is always a favorite.  The music was very good; even from the merely “good” band; officially called the “concert” band.  With three categories like that, someone is bound to refer to the first one as the “crap” band but they were all good.  Some were just better.  Evan is in the “wind ensemble”, i.e., the “best” one.  Just thought I’d throw that in.

The contrast between the traditional bands and the jazz band is striking.  The traditional band of course tunes up all together under the direction of a conductor; much like when performing.  The jazz band just all tunes individually which makes for a brief cacophony and then they’re ready.  The traditional band works under a conductor; the jazz band is started off by the conductor who then walks away for much of the performance, occasionally strolling back in and punctuating a particularly tricky section.  No baton for him, just arms.

It was great though.  I wish there were more of these musical performances.

Then last night was Erin’s middle school “spring spectacular” where all the arts departments put on their shows.  We walked to the gym (pressed into service as an auditorium) past the drama theater and many art galleries of various media.  Erin and three other girls sang the national anthem to kick the thing off and then we went home for a couple of hours to have dinner and relax.  It was only five minutes away so it seemed logical.  We then returned for the choir performance.  This year, the choir director decided to play to his audience rather than the usual “sing what we rehearsed for competition” thing.  So he had them singing songs from the ’50s.  The last number called for the choir to add in some choreography for crowd-pleasing purposes.  Erin approached this with much trepidation; calling it “retarded” on many occasions around the dinner table.  Fortunately, it was nothing of the kind and was indeed a crowd-pleaser.  She still thinks that it looked vaguely retarded but agreed that the crowd seemed to love it which is a real departure.  Up until this year, the choir has been pretty much of a yawner but they have a new teacher this year who is more detail oriented than the last teacher and there have been lots of changes.  Changes for the better of course.

And all along have been the final preparations for the Eagle Court of Honor on Sunday.  After that, coming on the heels of this busy week, I think we all need a week off.

The final performance of “Anne Frank and Me” went off without a hitch last night followed by a trip by the cast to Braum’s for ice cream.  This last bit was ‘improv’; no planning done in advance.  They have a no-camcorder rule; at least on paper it is to avoid distractions to the cast but it could also have something to do with the fact that there is a professional crew there videotaping it for later sale.  Perhaps the school gets nothing from this; at any rate, it’s way easier on me the parent not to have to do it myself.  We get a DVD in the mail and that’s it.

Mel was at the scout meeting working with the boys who will be doing part of Evan’s Eagle thing on Sunday.  Apparently that performance went pretty well too (if your standards aren’t too high).

Now, on to the next thing:  a band performance tonight.  Let’s see… Wednesday I think we stay at home, Thursday night:  a choir performance, Friday night: drop Erin off for an all-night thing at the church, Saturday:  not sure, and Sunday:  the Eagle court of honor.  Whew!

I’ve been remiss in my updates.  Who knows what I’ve overlooked at this point?

Erin’s drama class is in the production run of “Anne Frank and Me”, this springs drama performance.  It is indeed dramatic as opposed to funny.  In the next to last scene, they’re all in a “shower” and nobody comes out.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

This is supposed to be an ensemble and so unlike last fall’s comedy, Erin is not one of the leads this spring.  This is not without some disappointment but that’s the way these things go. Nevertheless, she and all the cast are still pretty happy about it in general.

I love these performances – we attended the opening last Thursday night and as usual, saw tons of people we knew.  Friday night was the cast party even though their closing performance is not until Monday night.  Friday night was the only weekend opportunity.  Except for one of the girls stealing the boyfriend of one of the other girls, apparently a good time was had by all.

I’m in the kitchen writing up Evan’s Eagle Scout ceremony script which talks a lot about high-minded things.

From the living room is blaring a song called “Teenaged Dirtbag”.  Some sort of soundtrack to a video they’re making.

Here it is April and Thursday night, the Tulsa Driller baseball game got called because of…

SNOW.

And yesterday (Friday), it snowed on me during my lunchtime drivearound.  Not much but it was snowing nevertheless and that’s just crazy.  And today it’s freezing.

Just this afternoon, I mowed the grass while wearing jeans and a polar fleece pullover to keep warm.  That’s definitely a first for my life.

Much is percolating around our house but nothing is quite done yet. We are actively in the process of planning Evan’s Eagle court of honor which is about as involved as a wedding reception. A Baptist wedding reception that is since we’ll not be having a band or any alcohol. Other than that, it’s the same right down to the issue of trying to book the auditorium in the student center of the church. We haven’t heard on this issue yet but I’m hopeful; we’ve already told everybody: April 29, so if the church won’t let us have that facility then, we’re in for some serious replanning.

I’m getting spring fever. I have an office with a window and they are doing some pretty interesting road work down on 81st street. For years there has been a very steep hill near the intersection with Delaware which is so steep at the peak that nobody who is stopped at the light can see anyone else. Apparently it was finally decided to scrape off about 20 feet of that peakiness and flatten the whole thing so there has been much moving of dirt. Heavy equipment is always fascinating to a guy with spring fever and who is not even a little bit interested in his job at the moment. This will pass though and in the meantime, I’m able to keep enough focus to get on with the job.

The pollen count is about four times its usual average so I guess my observation of all the extra tree mess in my gutters was not amiss. I keep noticing that every time we let the dog in, about four insects fly in with her so there’s a bumper crop of all life forms out there and that implies a lot of pollen to make me sneeze. Most people are feeling like they have a cold due to the extra burden in the air.

It’s so nice this time of year that I’d like to just go out and do something (not yard work). Lord knows that it will soon be too hot to be outside for long so it would be nice to take advantage of this weather that always comes in spring but we never seem to. This is also a busy time of year in the schools so we just kind of miss it. Except for when I go out and mow the grass (now up to about 12 inches in tufts and it’s only Wednesday).

And finally, the weight loss seems to have hit high center.  The scale has stayed resolutely at 196 for some weeks not and I can only assume that I’m eating too much even though it often seems like too little.  I guess a decrease in my daily point count is in order.  Nothing is ever easy.

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