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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Merry Christmas

It's true that I don't get my Christmas cards out on time. Actually, what's true is that I don't send cards, or at least I almost never send cards. I'm not really a card person. If you are going to hear from me on paper, it will be a letter, and it will be written in my own hand. In fact, I would go so far as to say it will be written in my own fairly attractive handwriting (attractive for a guy especially).

Still, I suppose I could have at least updated the blog before now. Since it isn't yet New Year's, technically I'm not that late, so here's the update.

We stayed home for Christmas. Ellie went to her grandmother's for a couple of days before, but was back by the 24th. In Linda's family, they always opened gifts on Christmas morning, and that's what we do now.

Naturally, the 5-year-old was the recipient of most of the things under the tree. A day or two before, she asked me if I thought Santa would bring me a lot of things. I told her, "No. I yell too much."

She responded, "Yeah." But she assured me that Santa would bring me something anyway.

We did in fact get a lot of movies this year. Ellie also got a few toys she especially desired. It was a lucky thing that one of her friends had a birthday party in November, as Ellie was ever so helpful pointing out especially desirable things at the store. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical that she would actually play with a few of the things that she wanted, but I was pleasantly wrong in that regard. She has played with pretty much everything.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Counting down

Ahh, only 2 days until Christmas. Thankfully, I sent Ellie off to her grandmother's for the day. She'll be back tomorrow. I used the time to wrap presents. I had my shopping essentially done since before Thanksgiving; I was so industrious. But I put off the wrapping until the last moment.

We're trying to enjoy the break. No evening grading, and no test writing, and no lecture preparation. I've taken all of the time I want to read about geeky things on the internet. I've even tackled a small geek project, building a solar stove, something I've wanted to do for several years. Essentially this is a big reflector that focuses a bunch of sunlight in one place. Then you paint a canning jar black and put it there where it proceeds to get hot, along with its contents.

Ellie and I cooked rice in it yesterday to see if it would work. It worked. Not bad for the winter solstice. There's less sun this time of year than any other time of year, so cooking is slower than it will be in the spring, summer, or fall. Now I'm inspired. I'm making plans to build a parabolic cooker next, because they are more efficient. I've got a pretty spartan set of directions, but they aren't anything a mathematician shouldn't be able to decipher.

Other geek projects that I haven't tackled yet include building a bumblebee habitat (Linda's not too keen on that one), and building a circuit that can generate "real" random numbers. I'd also like to make a circuit that can create new ROMs for devices like DVD players. That way I could rewrite the brains of the DVD player and add desirable features like "you may skip the FBI warning if you want, because it is your DVD player and your DVD."

Of course those other geek projects will have to wait for the future.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's over

I turned in my last grade today, so for me the semester is finally over. Now to do some of those things that get neglected when school is in session.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Semester end

It's finally that time. I'm still grading of course. Ellie is watching Batman. Sometime I have to take time to write yet another letter to my insurance company.

Ellie had her Christmas concert on Thursday night. Linda didn't go because the Lutheran church is really hard. They have a gravel parking lot, so it is hard getting in. And they don't have an elevator in the (empty) elevator shaft, so she can't go downstairs. And she's too short to see anyway, so she spends the whole time looking at the back of people's heads anyway.

However, the local TV station records the concert and will record a DVD for you, so I brought a DVD-R in for that. Ellie was really cute this year (as opposed to last year when she was just totally random and had a hard time staying in control).

Linda and I still go to the gym once a week, although this week there was no nurse working so she couldn't exercise. They are very cautious and want to get Linda's blood pressure for the so many visits. It's a little annoying, given that she worked out exactly the same way in exactly the same gym with a therapist for two years now. Supposedly the rule is changing next January. Since we couldn't work out we went to the store instead, and that was nice too.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I'm watching you

Ellie tells her dad to keep hands off the cat: "If I come home and Kate's dead, and you killed her, I'm going to be really mad."

Movie night

I picked up a Steven Spielberg movie on Friday, so we could all watch together. Ever since, Ellie has been running around the house saying, "E.T. phone home," over and over. Sometimes she talks like E.T. which is especially cute because she sounds exactly like him.

Yesterday, Ellie and I went out to play in the snow. Ellie was determined to make snowmen, but the snow wasn't really packable. In the end we had to compromise and make snow E.T.s since they don't have to be so tall. I found a couple of sticks with a single split to make two-fingered hands. They really look pretty cute.

This morning Ellie has the movie on again. I think I'll be glad to take it back to the library myself. I'm starting to wear out on soaring John Williams music.