Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Robbie: Rats+Stairs=Tradition?

Let rats loose on the stairs? It seems like a bad idea, but as long as they are supervised, it is a great way for them to get out their energy and get over their fear of the "basement hawks"* Here are some videos of them (the first is NOT recommended, Scabbers and Link were VERY cooperative.)

Scabbers and Link

Fredrick and Snickers

*Btw the basement hawks are a rare species of invisible hawk that apparantly lives in our basement.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jane: Book mini-Reviews

I haven't written a book review in here for a while, but I've been writing them in my reader's notebook. Just 1-2 sentence reviews, like my mom used to do. Here are a few I read early this fall.
(No, you can't look inside; I got my image from Amazon!)
A young teen girl observes the reactions of her small-town neighbors when a camp for Japanese-Americans is built nearby during WWII.
(This is also our choice for the 2009 Linn Area Reads book.)

When an editor is slain in the newsroom of a New York Times-like newspaper, chaos ensues. Delightfully mordant humor with Dickensian names and characters.

Tell me what you've been reading.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This is my key collection. It has several skeleton keys, 2 jewelry box keys, 1 locker key,1 key that I'm not sure about, and 1 key to city.
Here is the largest key compared to the smallest one. The largest is 7 1/2 inches while the smallest is just under 1 inch.
This one I'm not to sure about. If you know email me (my address is BobMackelson@gmail.com).
This is the largest key. I think it is a key to city or some other type of ceremonial key.
I got all these keys  at an antique store called antique avenue. I would recommend going there.
The store is located on 888 8th avenue in Marion, Iowa.

Jane: Yarn

What a lovely sight--a bag of yarn waiting to be crocheted!

I bought this wool-blend yarn on sale today so I can make myself a sweater. I've always wanted to crochet an aran sweater, so I'm going to do that. I didn't find a pattern I like, so I'm combining a few patterns--one to get the right sizing, another to get the right shape, and another for the basic stitch, a mini-cable. I'm thinking of adding some more fancy stitches, at least on the front panels (it'll be a cardigan).

That sounds kind of crazy and difficult when I write it out. But as for altering and combining patterns--when do I NOT do this??? There are very few items, garments especially, that I make exactly as the pattern says. I'm always altering, combining patterns, etc. etc. I'm pretty good at doing this in sewing, and I'm becoming a better crocheter, so I should be OK.

Let's hope this one works!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jane: Music Video

We've been busy with the Handicam at our house, making videos. Here's one I made for Bruce.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Robbie: Super Mario All Stars

There is a long story of how Eli came to acquire this game but to make it short, he sold a Game boy Advance and bought it from Gamerz, a video game store in Iowa City. The game, Mario All Stars, is not a sports game as the title sounds, but a collection of the Mario games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Famicom Disk System. The games it includes are the Super Mario Bros. series (1,2, and 3) and Mario Bros. 2 Japanese Version. The games have graphics updated to the Super Nintendo's 16-bit color, and new music. One of the drawbacks , however, is the fact that the controls are still the original ones which are not very precise.
The game with the best controls is Super Mario Bros. 3 which is an awesome game. After you have played it, you realize how all of the later Mario games have looked back on this famously awesome game.
One of the games is a pirated game that most people recognize but don't recognize it as a pirated game. Super Mario Bros. 2 was actually not a mario game in the first place. The game even has references in later games but was never mentioned as a pirated game.

Since the Emulator wouldn't let me record an AVI, I will have to record it from a TV...I also need a camera... (movie in later post)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jane: New President for US

Election Day was quite exciting at our house.

Bruce had his usual stint at the local radio station, giving political analysis as the counts were coming in. He enjoys doing that--maybe you know that his original career goal was to be a radio announcer.

I had to teach that evening, so the boys had their favorite babysitter, Courtney, over.

They didn't spend the evening playing retro video games, like they usually do with Courtney--they watched the election returns!

Robbie had a US map and red and blue pens--a project for his social studies class. Eli was just interested in watching. We'd taken both of them to the caucuses in January, so they've been part of this all along.

Caucuses are great interactive theatre, by the way, and a great place to introduce kids to politics. The democrats elect their nominee with their feet, as in "everyone who's caucusing for Hillary, over in that corner. Obama, you guys come on up here." Then we count off how many people are in each group, determine which groups are viable, and reshuffle if necessary. Goofy! And very exciting.

We were all excited to see Obama slowly pull ahead--at first by just 200,000 votes, and then by more and more. I sent the boys to bed just before McCain gave his gracious concession speech.

Now we're looking at a new era, and it's exciting. I can't even imagine wanting to be president at a time like this, but I'm glad it'll be Obama.

I wasn't sure about him at first. I knew I'd go for a democrat because I agree with their policies; I just wasn't sure he was the one. But I was slowly convinced by his thoughtful, rational explanations of his positions (he is a former college professor!); his determination not to use the "us-and-them" approach--"we're not red states and blue states but the United States;" his coolness in stressful situations. And all of us in the Rhetoric department are thrilled--THRILLED--that we now have a president who is an eloquent and knowledgeable speaker!

That's why I voted for him: I think he has the makings of an excellent national leader.

It's odd how much of the news coverage is about the symbolism of this race: a bi-racial person was elected President--that means we are no longer racist in America! Or whatever. I agree that this election has a lot of symbolic weight--probably more for people of color than for me. But we all elected Obama--well I did--because we thought he was the best person for the job, and in a way, it didn't matter whether he was bi-racial or African-American or white. I was shocked to hear the radio reports about how some people found it difficult to support him because he's dark-skinned.

I hope that the symbolism isn't "now a dark-skinned person can be president" but "now the best person, no matter what they look like, can be president."