Solar Eclipse April 2024

April 14, 2024 7:21 pm

As Jess' parents happen to live directly in the path of totality, the girls' Spring Break was the week prior, and the eclipse was on a Monday we decided the conditions were just about perfect for us to head out and hope to enjoy the show.

I booked flights on Southwest months ago as soon as the booking window opened. So on Wednesday April 3 we headed off to San Jose and flew through Denver to Little Rock. Despite seeming to have plenty of time we ended up barely making our flight and they closed the jetway door after letting Jess on as the last passenger. But we made it.

We picked up our rental car and headed off to the house, stopping at Chick-fil-A for dinner along the way.

On Thursday, Corinne and I did a little exploring of the property and found what I presume are cow skulls scattered around the edge of the neighbor's land for....some reason....

Corinne had had a fever and cough for the 3 days before our trip, but was surprisingly fine for the plane rides. Then her cough became pretty much constant. We had told the girls we'd go bowling on the trip and figured we better do that on Thursday before the area got busy with other umbraphiles. So, we went into town for bowling, just as we started the 10th frame Jess' phone appointment with a doctor for Corinne called, so she went off to somewhere quiet to take that call. I bowled her 10th frame for her: I bowled 4 strikes out of 6 throws! 2 almost-Turkeys in a row!

Well, the doctor diagnosed Corinne's cough as croup and prescribed a steroid. This timing was convenient since we were in town already. Heather and Corinne went back to the house with Papa and Bubbie while Jess and I went to the pharmacy for the prescription and a humidifier. Conveniently the prescription was filled in about 5 minutes and we were on our way.

And that was the last time we left the house until it was time to come home. Our plan had to be hunker down on the assumption that everything was going to be crazy busy. We have no idea if that happened though since we never ventured out into it.

On Friday, Cameron & Nichole and kids (+ dog) came up to visit for the weekend too. The girls were enamored of their little kids.

Along with using a humidifier, and taking the steroid Corinne was advised to get some cool night air to soothe her lungs. So on Friday night I bundled her up in layers of blankets and we went and sat on the porch. She was cozy.

On Saturday there was hanging about the house. Corinne did a lot of sleeping as she recovered. Heather played a lot of Stardew Valley. We had s'mores out on the porch that evening.

Sunday was Cal's 2nd birthday, so there was cake and presents. The dog was nonplussed about the whole thing. Heather played more Stardew Valley.

Monday was finally Eclipse Day, but nothing to see until the afternoon. The girls continued to be enamored of the little ones (I'm realizing the infant isn't in any of these pictures so far, but there was also an infant).

And then, finally, it was time! Sunday had been overcast all day and a storm front was forecast to move in Monday evening, but luckily Monday afternoon was just some wispy clouds. They could have been anywhere else in the sky, but we weren't that lucky.

I set up the camcorder to record us figuring future us might care about seeing the people there rather than the sun, but I really do wish I had grabbed it and swung it around the area and shown the sky. Oh well. Next time. In 2045. Here's how the five minutes around totality went for us:

And after 3 minutes and 25 seconds of totality--it was over. It was pretty cool. We could see what was presumably Venus and at least one star. Looking up at the sun was like someone had taken a hole punch and just punched a hole through the sky where the sun was supposed to be. Just a jet black "hole" surrounded by a ring of fire.

We brought some games with us and over the course of the visit played a
couple games of Wyrmspan, a game of Kodama, and a game of Ex Libris. I
also played some Exploding Kittens and Cobra Paw with the girls. And Corinne and I completed the Minecraft puzzle she got for her birthday.

Cameron and Nichole headed home that evening and the next morning we were off to the airport.

Which was not without its own adventure though. About 45 minutes into the drive Corinne threw up all over herself (she had also thrown up Monday night at dinner time, but after getting cleaned up felt fine and ate dinner). She also felt nauseated Thursday morning and stayed home from school, was okay during the day, and was nauseated again that evening (she's been okay the last couple days). No idea what that was all about.

We were on the highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic heading into Little Rock with no resources beyond our luggage, so we got off the highway and found the closest gas station (which was not exactly nearby). I bought a roll of paper towels and filled up a water bottle and cleaned up the car as best I could while Jess worked with Corinne to get her out of her clothes (to the dumpster they went) and get clean clothes out of the luggage.

I figured we'd be paying a cleaning fee, but when I dropped off the car and told them what had happened the response was "Yah, that happens sometimes. We have a guy who details them, thanks for cleaning up as much as you did." So I said, "Okay, just make sure they clean down in the seat-belt buckle well or come summer someone's going to leave the car in the sun for a few hours and then they will not be happy." And that was that (maybe we'll get a cleaning fee later, who knows).

With Corinne Dramamined for the flights home we proceeded back across the country via Las Vegas and then we were home that evening.

Games March 2024

8:25 pm

Games I played in March 2024. Like books, I didn't get nearly as much game playing done this month compared to February.

Wyrmspan - Expand your cave system and attract new dragons to live in it. This game just came out last month. It's an adaptation of the game Wingspan--changing some mechanics and swapping dragons for birds. This games falls under "group solitaire" in that what each player does has very little impact on the other players.

It's a game of resource constraints requiring careful analysis to maximize your actions for gaining points. If you want to score well, that is. You can just enjoy the artwork and collecting dragons and not worry too much about points.

We played once at the very beginning of the month and once more today. I lost both times (Jess won both times).

Escape the Crate - Sled Race - One of the "escape room in a box" companies for which Jess' parents gave us a subscription for Christmas.

This is the second box for us. The story set ups and narration are a bit campy, but the puzzles have been pleasantly reasonable and we've been enjoying them as a family. I think I enjoy them more than the "Exit" series.In this one we've time traveled to 1925 when a mustache-twirling-type nefarious time traveler had swapped the diphtheria antitoxin out before the dogsled relay rushed it off to Nome, Alaska. We have to work together to catch up and put the correct medicine back in place.

We completed the first half successfully at _just_ below expert speed--still have to play the second half.

Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall - Jess and I continued our adventure as Feyn and Roland and played Quest 16 (you don't necessarily complete them in numerical order).

We had a very successful little adventure and handily defeated the ursaur in battle and rescued the elven pilgrim. I'm still very much enjoying it and looking forward to continuing our story.

Books March 2024

7:41 pm

Books I finished reading in March 2024.

With prepping Corinne's birthday adventure and being sick I didn't get nearly as much reading done in March as I did in February.

The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker

I bought this way back in 2016, but only just got around to reading it.

It describes the 14 principles that embody the "Toyota Way" of doing manufacturing--much of which has come to be known, in part, as "lean."

I think perhaps the most distinct aspect from traditional American approaches is the requirement that systems be viewed holistically. Demanding that each individual process get faster/cheaper/better may get you worse results than are otherwise possible.

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Griffin

I'm not really sure how this ended up on my list as its description didn't pique my interest, but it was and it was on sale for $2 so I grabbed it. It's kind of a modern adaptation of the Frankenstein theme.

Some interesting ideas, probably could have used another 100 pages to give it more depth.

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

This was my most recent pick for the tech-books book group I meet with at work.

Bell Labs was a ridiculously influential organization of the 20th century: the transistor, undersea telephone cables, microwave data relays, satellite telecommunications, cell phones, fiber optics, Unix, the C programming language--just to name a few. All that, so much more, and the foundation of Information Theory.

It's kind of crazy how much of the modern world was influenced by that organization.

Corinne's Egg Drop

March 28, 2024 7:35 pm

Every year Rancho has the 3rd grade students build projects to protect a raw egg which are then thrown off the top of the multi-purpose room (probably about 25 feet up).

Corinne designed her project with a friend. I assisted with construction (handling the hot-glue gun and cutting cardboard), but the design is all their own.

A cardboard box, bottom covered in cotton balls, filled with layers of cotton balls, tissues, paper towels, and an uninflated balloon. Then a parachute made from a small garbage bag.

Watch it fly!