Friday, May 29, 2009

Too Late

I just saw a video of this dice rolling machine:

It's 7 feet tall and can roll 1.3 million dice per day. It has a computer that takes images of the dice to figure out what was rolled. 

My birthday was last Sunday. I'm a little sad because if I had seen the video sooner, I could've asked for one. But now it's too late...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Birthday

My birthday was last Sunday, so we had a nice long birthday weekend. Here are the highlights:

  • Took the whole family out for a round of frisbee golf. There's this elementary school not too far away that has its own frisbee golf course on it. It ended up being perfect because the holes weren't too far away from each other, so the kids had an easier time with it. And the whole place is fenced in, so we didn't have to worry about PrincessKat running away somewhere.

  • Mrs. BigKat took LilKat1 shopping, so I was able to have some time with LilKat2 playing boardgames. I showed him a couple that he'd never played before: DVONN and Carcassonne: The Castle. I thought he might be a little young for them, but he caught on to the rules for both of them quite easily. He actually thumped me pretty good on Carcassonne. I think the final score was 101-38. Sure, I helped him a bit on his turns, but he really did quite well for himself.
  • I taught Sunday School. It was my last regular class of the year! Next week, we're having an in-class celebration. And the following week, we're having awards and games. After that, it's summer. I'm a little sad to see all of my 2nd graders 'graduating' out of my class!

  • After lunch, I got to open my presents. I got a bunch of cool stuff! First, I got a whole bunch of boardgames:
Yspahan - I've been wanting this for a long time. A fairly quick, family oriented boardgame that uses dice in an interesting way. The rules are pretty simple, but there are a few different ways to score points, which I like.

Powerboats - A fast paced boat racing game with a modular board. Mrs. BigKat and I tried it out right away. It's quite fun. The interesting blue 3 sided dice that it comes with are quite cool. I'm looking forward to showing it to the boys.

Jamaica - Another racing game, but this time it's pirate ships. I still have to read the rules, but it looks like something that will be fun for grownups and kids to play together.

Stratego - Did you know that there's a revised version of Stratego? I showed LilKat1 how to play the original version a while ago, and we had fun with it. He bought me the revised version. In this one, all of the pieces have their own special abilities. Can't wait to try it out!
  • I also got a big pile of candy. Did you know that they made chewy lemonheads? They're really good! And they come with apple, grape, orange, and cherry too. They're called something like Sour Chewy Lemonheads AND FRIENDS. The only problem was the PrincessKat got ahold of them, put a whole bunch in her mouth, decided they were too sour, and spit them on the carpet, leaving a kind of rainbow colored shotgun blast of candy stains on the carpet.
  • In the afternoon, I got to cook. I made paella! I was going to make it with chicken and linguica. But I don't know how to get the chicken to be done at the same time as the rice. So I cheated and made the chicken separately on the grill (using my new favorite chicken grilling technique that I saw in last month's Cook's Illustrated). The paella turned out pretty good, but not perfect. The flavor was great, but some of the rice was undercooked. But I still got to spend the whole afternoon cooking and grilling, which is fun for me.

  • I did take one break from cooking. The ice cream man came by and LilKat1 bought himself a missile pop with is own money. LilKat2 felt left out, so I grabbed my wallet and chased the ice cream man down the street. Just like when I was a kid!
  • That evening my mom and My-Friend-Who-Lies (MFWL) and his wife (MFWLW) came over. After the kids went to bed, we all played a couple of games of Cash 'n Guns. It's an absolutely silly game where you're a bunch of gangsters trying to split up the money that you got from robbing a bank by threatening each other with orange foam pistols. I lost pretty bad at this game. And it's quite possible that I will never win at this game. It turns out that everyone likes to shoot me with orange foam pistols. I don't know why. But even though I lost, it was still a lot of fun.

  • I think the best part, though was when Mrs. BigKat said that she would never let the kids see this game. After all it uses real foam pistols!

Ok...I should probably stop making fun of my wife now...

But REAL FOAM PISTOLS! It just makes me smile everytime I think about it.
  • Oh yeah, MFWL also got me the expansion for Galaxy Trucker, bringing my birthday boardgame total up to FIVE!
The next day was good too. Got to beat MFWL in a round of 18 holes of frisbee golf (although he did lose Mrs. BigKat's frisbee by throwing it over a barbed wire fence...that wasn't so good). I also got to spend some fun time with LilKat1 shopping for Star Wars legos. And I bought myself a small game: Hula Hippos! I'm definitely going to have to make a video for that one.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I haven't been able to watch many of the NBA playoff games this year because we don't get ESPN or TNT. But I was able to 'see' the game on the computer last night (and by 'see', I mean taking a break from cleaning the bathroom, going to the computer, and clicking refresh on the Yahoo Sports page).

After the game, I went to tell Mrs. BigKat that the Nuggets beat the Lakers. Her response?
'That's good, right?'
I wasn't sure what to say. It was a bit startling. I immediately tried to think of some other situations where something similar might have happened...

Luke: Hey C3PO! It worked! We blew up the Death Star!
C3PO: That's good, right?

or maybe...

Penny: Uncle Gadget! We finally captured Dr. Claw!
Inspector Gadget: That's good, right?

or possibly...

Aquaman: Superman! It worked! We got him to say kltpzyxm!
Superman: That's good, right?
Well, the only thing I could come up with was...'s KOBE!

Which apparently was good enough for her.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I rarely wear pants. Working from home, I can wear whatever I want, so it's always shorts for me. In fact, I can't actually remember the last time I wore pants somewhere. My guess is that it was a wedding or something.
Anyhow, I have to go on a business trip tomorrow for a boring conference. Which means I have to wear pants. I went into my closet to look for some and I only had 2 pair. And guess what! They didn't even come close to fitting! Hard for me to believe that I was once that skinny.
I went to Costco today and picked up a pair of new pants. It was the first time I've bought a new pair of pants in...ok, I really can't remember that one. If I had to take a guess, I would say it's been at least 10 years. I can't think of a time when I've purchased pants since I've been married.
I must say though that I think these pants were a great purchase. I put them on and not only did they fit...but they have an elastic thing that stretches out if you get too fat! I figure I can put on an extra 20 pounds and still be able to fit in these pants!

I'm never going to have to buy another pair of pants for the rest of my life!

Friday, May 15, 2009


I found my old TracBall set in a closet the other day. LilKat2 immediately asked me what 'that tennis thing' was. I told him that it was a game that I used to play when I was little and that we could go to the park and try it out sometime when the weather was nice.

Well, today was the first sunny day in a while, so at lunch, LilKat2 asked if I could take him to the park to play the tennis game (I couldn't remember what he was talking about at first, but Mrs. BigKat reminded me).

It was a lot of fun! Turns out TracBall is great for playing catch with small kids! It took LilKat2 a little while to figure it out (most of his first few throws went backwards. Many went straight sideways.), but once he got it, he could throw the ball quite far. He could also catch the ball pretty well too.

Compare this to when we throw the football around. The TracBall rackets allow him to fling the ball much farther than he can throw a football. And because they impart a backspin, the TracBall floats a bit, making it easier for me to chase his throws down when they're off to the side. He can also catch the TracBall easier than he can catch a football. All he has to do is reach his racket out and get the ball to hit it somewhere. And since the racket is so big, he can catch balls that go over his head (something he can't do with a football).  I can even whip the ball at him with a pretty good pace. He just sticks his racket out and watches the ball slide down into the pocket (the only thing I have to worry about is keeping it away from his face. I imagine getting popped with one of those hard plastic balls would sting).

I think LilKat2 really liked that he could throw the ball far and that he could catch the ball when I threw it normally (I could zip it in there from far away, instead of having to get close and throw it soft at him). I think it made him feel a little bit bigger.

So if you're clearing out your garage and find an old set, try them out with your kids! You might be surprised at how much fun you guys have!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overcoming Evil with Good

The boys are doing Spring Soccer right now. It's basically a soccer clinic that the boys go to every Monday. They do games and drills and learn new soccer skills.

At the last practice, LilKat1 had an interesting incident. During the middle of a drill, another boy came up to him and took his ball. Obviously this didn't make LilKat1 very happy. I was wondering what he would do. First, he asked the boy for his ball back. The boy said no. I was wondering if he would try to forcefully take the ball back from the other kid (it's what I would've done when I was little). But instead, he started looking around the field. It took him a few seconds, but he spotted whatever it was he was looking for and quickly made a beeline for it. He had found 2 soccer balls sitting together. He ran over, picked them up, and raced back to the boy that took his ball. He told the boy that he would give him both balls in exchange for his own ball. The other boy, being greedy, enthusiastically took the deal. LilKat1 was happy that he had his ball, and the other boy was happy that he had 2 balls instead of one.

Immediately, a Bible verse popped into my head:

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21

The funny part was that the other boy didn't even get to keep his extra balls (he had actually ended up with 3 because he grabbed another one as well). The coach took all of the extra balls from the kids who had more than one and gave them to kids that didn't have any.

Ok, so maybe it's not like burning coals on his head. And maybe what LilKat1 did was more outsmarting the kid, rather than an act of kindness. but I still thought it was funny.

I was also proud of my son for making a good choice. Like I said, if that was me as a boy, I definitely would've grabbed the ball away from the kid and probably got into an argument or fight. I told LilKat1 that I was proud of him for not making a bad choice like I would've made. That little boy continues to amaze me with the stuff his wonderful brain comes up with.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Science Fair

Way back before Spring Break, we found out that LilKat1’s school was having a Science Fair and that students from K-5 were welcome to submit projects. I have always looked forward to helping my kids with Science Fair projects. I remember learning how to make electric motors for my project when I was young and having a great time. But I was in 7th grade! I had no idea that people had Science Fairs for 1st grade and younger.

Well, I thought that it would be a fun thing for me and LilKat1 to do together, so I encouraged him to sign up for it. The first thing we needed was a good age-appropriate project. We tried to think of something that he could do himself. We got an idea from an episode of Curious George. We decided to use our Science Fair project to find out what worms liked. LilKat1 named the project ‘Fascinating Worms’.

Here’s how we did it:

First, we needed some worms. So we went to the worm store and got some:

Next, we gathered up a bunch of materials that we thought worms might like. We had soil, mud, hay, cedar chips, pine bits, coffee grounds, styrofoam packing peanuts, cereal, and easter grass.

Then LilKat1 picked out 4 of the materials and put them into a container like this:

Next, we put a bunch of worms in the middle of the materials like this:


Then we waited while the worms figured out where they wanted to go. When the worms were happy in their new spots, we pulled them out of each section and counted them. LilKat1 used a notebook to record how many worms we found in each material.


We did a total of 4 experiments. Here are pictures of the others:


After our experimenting was done, we had to make our display. I think this part actually took longer than the experimenting! We spent a good 3 evenings of cutting and gluing. I thought LilKat1 might start to get tired of working on his project. But he really liked seeing his experiments come to life on the display that we were creating. We actually had a lot of fun making it.

Here’s the display at the Science Fair:


Here is the raw data that he recorded from the experiments:

Here is a table showing how he interpreted the data:

Each of the Science Fair projects was scored by a group of judges. Projects that scored high enough received a Science Star award. We must’ve done a pretty good job because we got one!


It was a little difficult thinking of a good age appropriate project, but I think we picked a pretty good one. One cool thing was that we (me included) actually found out things that we didn’t know before. Did you know that worms liked styrofoam more than coffee grounds? I didn’t! But most of all, it was a very fun thing to do with my son.  In fact, on the Scientist Question and Answer section, I asked LilKat1 what his favorite thing about the project was, and his answer was ‘Being with Dad’.