November 2012 Archives

Shame On You, Odie!


Today Odie chewed up a figure from the family heirloom Nativity Set! Grrr, bad dog, Odie!

200 in One Electronic Project Lab

I don't recall exactly when or where I found this used Radio Shack 200-in-one kit, but I'm pretty sure it moved with us from Colorado, which means its been in storage for seven years. I'm glad I remembered it was there in time for his birthday!


For a few months prior to his birthday, Colin had been playing with a smaller kit with just a few parts and projects. I showed him a few things he could do with switches and LEDs on a breadboard, but this kit is much better.

It took a while to debug some problems, such as the corroded battery tray and burned-out LED. But now we know its quirks. So far we've built a few projects such as the "electric candle," the "electric birthday cake," the "earsplitter," and the "electric human." Four down, 196 to go!



Colin decided that he wanted Minecraft Creeper Cupcakes for his birthday cake this year. The so-called recipe from that site is pretty terse, but it seemed like something I could handle. Bake a cake, cover in frosting, spray some food coloring, cut out some fruit rollups, and that's it!

Of course, it wasn't quite that simple. Compare the pro's in the link above to mine:


Baking was easy, thanks to Mrs. Crocker. Frosting wasn't so bad either. I even learned what a "crumb coat" is.

The first tricky part was making the green pixels on top of the already green frosting. The idea is to print out a template with some square holes cut out of it. Then you get some spray-on food coloring and spray it through the pixels. You have to hold the template close to the frosting, otherwise you get not-so-square pixels. I sprayed mine in the pan, which is probably a mistake. Might've been better to cut out the cake squares first.

The pro advised to cover the template with tin foil so it won't get soaked by the food coloring. That was good advice. Unfortunately I allowed too much coloring to accumulate on the template and it created some big drips when I lifted it up. Oh well, Creepers bleed, don't they?

But the worst part was cutting out the fruit roll-ups. The pro recipe mentioned fruit leather. Perhaps that particular product would've been easier to handle. The best I could find were some sort of rolled-up sheets of fruit gunk. It was unbelievably sticky. Next time I need to super-glue something, I'll use these fruit roll-ups instead. They come stuck to some peel-off paper, and I covered the other side with wax paper before cutting. Unpeeling the papers after cutting was a nightmare. Even worse was trying to place them on the frosting layer, in just the right spot, without touching or scarring the creepers lovely faces.


At least the kiddo new that I spent many hours on his cupcakes and was very appreciative!


Birthday Fortune Teller

Colin received a neat "fortune teller" present from one of his teachers. I remember making these as a kid and you'd write numbers and colors on the sides and then ask your friends to pick a number and a color. Then you flip it back and forth, opened and closed, to finally reveal some important fact about their lives.

But this one tells jokes!


What's the only letter of the alphabet we sing Happy Birthday to?


The letter U!

Duane's Music Writing Book

Mom is cleaning out her boxes of "memories." On a recent visit, a long-forgotten wirebound "Music Writing Book" with my name on it was waiting for me.

I took some piano lessons, but was never very good. I'm sure it had something to do with lack of practice. But I must say, I was quite good at transcribing music!

My writing book contains the following songs. Or at least the beginnings of them: This Land Is Your Land, The Entertainer, Games People Play, Rambling Rose, Spanish Eyes, Snow Bird, and Star Wars Main Title.

The Entertainer is my all time favorite song to try to play on the piano. It's still my go-to song. Some day I hope to be able to play it with both hands.

Star Wars is of course an obvious fascination. The movie came out when I was 10, so its burned into my memory. I never could play the song very well though.

The others--the folk songs--were ones I played on our little electric organ upstairs. That organ was so fun. It had numerous "voices" and drum beats. And it came with this wonderful color-coded song book to teach you how to play all these great songs. I'm surprised that I didn't copy You Are My Sunshine into the writing book. Best of all, the organ had a headphone jack. I'm sure Mom and Dad appreciated that feature.

Table of Contents
This Land Is Your Land
Games People Play; Rambling Rose; Spanish Eyes
Snow Bird
Star Wars (Main Title)

The timing on this disocvery is perfect because Colin is now (again) taking lessons and doing much better than I. He's also learning This Land Is Your Land, possibly for an upcoming performance!

I Before E

Colin celebrated his 8th birthday a little early because he wanted a party at the ice rink and there were scheduling difficulties. About seven friends joined us at the rink and had a great time.

A few weeks prior we were doing spelling homework and I introduced him to the I-before-E rule. Anne found a picture of this shirt on the Internet and he thought it was pretty cool: