Thursday, June 28, 2012

Project MCP: Refresh

refresh by Teckelcar
refresh, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The final challenge for this month was "Refresh."

This isn't my favorite picture from our visit over to the rivah, but computationally I think it brings to mind the idea of refresh the most. It was taken early on during our visit, before all the shenanigans with the swim noodles started. Max and Nate are enjoying the refreshing coolness of the pool after our long ride to our friends house on the Rappahannock.

As I said this wasn't my favorite picture from that day, those can be found in my previous post. What I do like are how he cement edging of the pool and the river's surface are almost the same shade of gray. The sparkling blue water of the pool is neatly bracketed by he gray. The flowers, meanwhile, add nice discrete splashes of color.

Amazingly this picture was taken using my new smartphone. I could do a better crop to adhere to the rule of thirds, but I would lose too much of the blue in the sky. Thus the picture stands as is, all I did was lighten the picture just a smidgen. Cell phone picture technology has come a long, long way.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Artist of the Week: Fountain

fountain by Teckelcar
fountain, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week the whole crew is Artist of the week, mostly because I don't know who got the original idea and I don't have the patience to listen to all the arguing if I ask the kids.

But I do know it was either Jake or Nate that started the whole fountain business. There are water jets at either end of the pool and we brought with us our hollow swim noodles. Somebody (or bodies) noticed that the noodles hole fitted very nicely over the jets. With a little bit of effort the water could be forced out through the length of the noodle, as demonstrated here by Jacob.

team work by Teckelcar
team work, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Nate and Max wanted in on the action and they teamed upat first on the other end of the pool. Since it was the deep end it was a bit tricky and required one person to keep the noodle in place and a second to direct the flow. They ultimately moved down to the shallow end where it was much easier. They had a blast working together and spraying their siblings.

At one point they had quite a battle going on with the pool floats (the green floating mats) being used as barriers. The kids even draped a mat over themselves and sprayed out from beneath. I got a few pictures, but the cell phone didn't do a good job in capturing what was going on.

pool fun by Teckelcar
pool fun, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Anyhoo, they all had fun and even Rebecca got to man the hose.

I particularly like this shot since I have all four kids in the picture and the fountain is arcing up and over Nate and Max. It was a pretty neat effect and I'm glad I had at least my cell phone's camera. I had forgotten our "real" camera, but I wasn't too worried being stuck with just a cell phone. It takes surprisingly good pictures, it's main failing is the lack of optical zoom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Surprises

Blur by Teckelcar
Blur, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I am more than happy to share my camera with the kids, as long as they follow the main rule "thou shalt not touch the lens." Ever.

For the most part they ignore the camera or ask me to take pictures for them. Recently Rebecca has started to pick up the camera and as a result there are often quite a few surprises when I download pictures from the camera.

This rather blurred picture of Nate was one such surprise. He was zooming about on his bike and Rebecca decided to take his picture. She was not terribly pleased with the result, but I like it.

Nate is a study of motion, the only time he sits still is when he is lost in a book. He is constantly moving about and this picture perfectly captures the blurred motion that is Nate. The frame barely contains him. I'm glad Rebecca took this picture and I particularly grateful for the fact she hasn't figured out how to delete photos.

Sometimes mistakes can be good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Elvis: The Lonely Hunter Of Circle Beach

This short film was the Tropfest NY 2012 Third Prize winner. I don't want to give anything away, all I can say is that it is an interesting example of a natural history film.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Down By The Rivah

Rappahannock by Teckelcar
Rappahannock, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today we went to visit a friend that has a house on the Rappahannock. It's an idyllic spot with commanding views of the river, or rather rivah, and a swimming pool.

Shortly after we arrived Jake set himself overlooking the water with his book. He soon abandoned reading and joined his siblings in the pool. I can certainly understand his first choice, because it was a wonderful place to read a book on a summer's day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

MCP Project 12: Candid

On the Way to Fun by Teckelcar
On the Way to Fun, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's challenge was to snap a candid photo. I got this one of Max as we did our now daily bike ride down to the pool.

It is full on summer down here in Virginia and is hotter than blazes. The pool hasn't warmed up to bath temp, yet, and is as cool and lovely when we jump in. I grabbed my camera on the way out of the house with the idea of taking a few shots at the pool and then, as we started riding along, I thought about how it would be neat to take some shots on the way.

So I fished out my camera from my backpack as we stopped at the intersection. I was following Max and blindly pointed the camera in his direction. This picture was right before we reached the pool. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. I got the framing just right, no cropping was needed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Portal and Pools

So far summer break has been going pretty smoothly. We have spent a fair amount of time at the pool with the added bonus of biking to and from is now viewed as a good thing. Last year we got our driveway paved which lead to a burst of proficiency in bike riding on the part of the dynamic duo. Previous years it was an ordeal to get them to haul out the bikes, now they sprint ahead in their newly realized freedom.

As for the Portal end of this post, I finally finished off the original game and then whipped through the second. In my opinion, Portal is one of the best games ever. It is very forgiving of my less than stellar gaming skills (skillz- I do not have them) and poses a good mental challenge. I was a bit sad when I came to the end of the game last night (the gaming explains the lack of posting yesterday), but I still have the challenge maps left to futz around. I highly recommend the games and you must do the first one appreciate and understand the second.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baking With Julia- French Strawberry Cake

French Strawberry Cake by Teckelcar
French Strawberry Cake, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The second baking challenge this month was French Strawberry Cake. As always there are two hosts and you can check then out at Sophia's Sweets and Think, Love, Sleep, Dine Recipes For Life to get the full run down on the cake.

Since I was planning to take the cake to a congregational pot luck I increased the batter by another half. I felt that the 8" cake pan specified in the recipe would yield too small a cake. My 9" pan was just right for all the batter and I was able to cut the resultant cake into three layers.

A few of my fellow baking compatriots felt the cake was two dry. I, however, had a lovely cake that was not at all dry. Of course my electing not to drain the strawberries and then drizzling the juices over the two lower layers may have been a factor. My finished cake was absolutely luscious and I found it to be one of the better variations on strawberry shortcake cakes. I was not alone in my opinion, it was a big hit  at the potluck and was the first dessert to disappear.

I will definitely be making this cake again

Monday, June 18, 2012

Awesome HD Slinky Slow-Mo

The first minute and a half are mesmerizing. The rest of the video attempts to explain why the slinky behaves the way it does.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day to the Man

Da Goalie by Teckelcar
Da Goalie, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The man of my heart, who is a great dad and a dang good goalie to boot.

Larry spent the weekend with Nate at a lacrosse tournament that Nate's team had entered. Toting all of Nate's gear and making sure Nate was on time, at the right place with all his equipment. No mean feat considering they were far from home. Then, when is was all over, Larry went directly to his game north of Richmond .

A very busy weekend, but not an usual one, for a such a good dad on his day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Project MCP: Night Time

Sparks! by Teckelcar
Sparks!, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's Project MCP challenge was take a shot at night., which worked out pretty well for me.

The sparklers were the result of Meryl finishing for novel and wanting to celebrate the happy event. I love how this sparkler picture turned out.

By using the flash I got a nice quick shutter speed and the background turned velvety black, a nice trick considering it wasn't full dark. The spirals of smoke add a nice dimension with the bright sparks flying off the end. I did zero processing, this shot is straight out of the camera.

All in all it's a pretty nifty shot.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just One More Day

my little sparkler by Teckelcar
my little sparkler, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Friday is the last day of school and we are so very, very ready. We haven't broken out the sparklers, but are ready to go to the neighborhood pool party. The school bus drops the elementary school age kids off at the entrance and the parents greet them with all sorts of treats and pizza.

It's a great way to kick off the summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Artist of the Week: Novelist

Sparklers by Teckelcar
Sparklers, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is my very good friend Meryl.

Last Saturday, as she publicly announced on her blog, she officially became a novelist. And judging by Max's reaction to her manuscript, a pretty good one at that.

She came by our house on Sunday bearing her 297 page and 85,000 word manuscript. It's a hefty stack of paper and Max ploughed through it all and declared it good. Which is high praise indeed since he is one of the pickiest readers I know. He'll ditch a book with nary a second thought if he finds it boring or just doesn't like some aspect of the subject. Easily half the books I pick out for him from the library get cast aside.

As for the sparklers in the picture, well Meryl felt like celebrating and had a bag full of sparklers in her car. It was a perfect night and we had a ton of fun lighting them up in the driveway.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Train Near Magdeburg

I stumbled upon an article when I was looking at the 40 most powerful photographs ever taken.

I love looking at  classic images and for the most port they were stunning. But one was a bit odd and stood out. Its format was different, clearly lifted out of a type written article. I pursued the link provided and learned of the  fascinating story behind the image.

A Train Near Magdeburg tells part of the story of 743rd Tank Battalion and the 30th Infantry Division's liberation of 2,500 Jews that had been crammed aboard a death train and abandoned on a siding after meandering across Germany. It's a powerful story with additional links at the end that are well worth following. The article is the result of one small high school's teacher's efforts on the importance of studying history. His Web Log is Teaching History Matters.

Go and read.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Yes, I'm addicted to stop motion animation. But you have to admit this one is short and sweet with a bonus stop motion making of the stop motion.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In Praise of the B Movie

Last night I was surfing channels while chatting on the phone with Meryl about her just completed novel (and I must add a big Woot here) and I stumbled upon Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, or as I like to think of it Mega Stupid with Crocawesome.

It is a truly awful movie.

It shamelessly reuses sets from its predecessor Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, has endless stock footage, beyond bad dialogue, and some of the worst CGI I have seen in decades. Heck the earlier Godzillia movies had better production values. It is a classic direct to DVD release.

And yet I loved it.

Meryl and I howled over the wooden acting and bad direction. It is classified as Action/Horror, but it really is a comedy. One person in the comments in the trailer ripped into some of the many inaccuracies and my reaction was simply "Dude it's Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, what did you expect." I love a movie that wallows in its trashiness and this movie is a prime example. Nate was appalled by the hot mess the movie is, but did ultimately see the humor. The earlier movie, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, is a better film, but I love this one too for all its cheesy glory. And even better, it has Urkel all grown up.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Strange Requests

Actual conversation with Max at bedtime tonight

"Mom, could you wake me up at 7 am tomorrow (Saturday)?"


Max is taken aback and asks why.

"Because tomorrow is Saturday and I'm not planning waking myself up a 7 much less you."

"Oh, that's right and very reasonable. Night mom."

"Night sweetie."

Thursday, June 07, 2012

6 Days and Counting

Just 6 days are left in the school year.

6 more days of prodding people awake, organizing lunches, and pushing them out the door.

This also means just 6 more days of quiet and the computer all to myself.

I'm looking forward to the end of school.

Sort of.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Artist of the Week: Perseverance

Oops by Teckelcar
Oops, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Max. It is, however, not about his latest domino block creation. Instead it's about what it takes to make is creation.

Max spends a fair amount of time messing about with the dominoes. We have the jumbo sized ones which are better for building, but not by much. The tiles are still slippery to the touch and all too easily slide about. So it's not too surprising when something collapses. A dog could brush by or a sibling clomps along at the wrong moment. Occasionally Max himself triggers the fall when being a bit too eager to place something on top of his newly created tower.

Amazingly he doesn't get angry.

Perseverance by Teckelcar
Perseverance, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Oh he does get mad. I'm not trying to make him out as a saint. He just blurts out something like a quick "No (fill in the blank with the appropriate name)!", glares at the offender for the briefest of moments, and then moves on.

No drama, no demands for the wrong to be righted, just a calm acceptance.

Then he buckles down and builds something even better. Which is exactly what happened here.

He tried to place a figure on top and the tower collapsed. There was a stunned moment and that was it. Max then gathered up the dominoes and tried again. Half way through the second tower he announced that this one was a much better construction, but he still wasn't going to add the figure. He decided that maybe that wasn't the best idea.

Smart boy.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Baking With Julia- Oasis Naan

Oasis Naan by Teckelcar
Oasis Naan, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's adventure in Baking with Julia was Oasis Naan. For a full run down on this week's recipe check out the hosts at Always Add More Butter (I love that blog's name!) and Of Cabbages and King Cakes.

I love Middle Eastern flat bread so I was very happy to see this Tuesday's recipe. Before making my naan I checked out the P & Q post to see if there were any tips and/or problems and I'm glad I did. Numerous people noted that the dough will puff out quite a bit when baking and you can not over dock (pierce the bread with a fork). I took the advice to heart and really went to town with my fork. And I'm happy to say it worked.

The bread smelled heavenly with the ground cumin. I decided to make my curried chicken as the entree with the idea of having the naan along side. Larry and thought the bread was delicious and used it to mop up the extra curry sauce on our plates. The bread chewy without being hard and was such a nice addition to the meal.

Mm, mm good.

The kids were less than thrilled. Thy did not care for the savory bread. I think next time I'll make little pizzas for them utilizing the recipe for naan sans the green ones and pepper.

Monday, June 04, 2012


A good movie for people who are not larks.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

A Vermont Kind of Day

Today was just the kind of day that made me think of Vermont.

It just barely hit the low 80's with a bit of breeze and not a bit of the dreaded high humidity of the South. In a word it was Perfection.

Yes, it was a bit cool to go to the pool, but it was perfect to spend the day out on the deck reading. The allergens that are my bugaboo where done and the mosquitoes are not quite so prevalent. I love this kind of weather and it is one of the things I miss from Northern New England.

Soon enough the hammer will come down and it will be the normal hot and sticky Virginian summer. But for now I'll savor this blissfully cool weather.

Friday, June 01, 2012

A Wee Bit of Weather

puddle by Teckelcar
puddle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I found out today during my post bus morning walk with fellow stay at home parents that we were due for some weather. Fairly severe weather, along the lines of hail and strong winds. Which was news to me and a bit disconcerting since I had two events for this evening.

The first one was the informal "Becca's beirgarten" in my neighbor's backyard. If they are around and it is nice outside, neighbors are invited to stop by and visit. The second event was a bit of a cookout being held before services at my temple. So as you can see bad weather would pretty much put the kibosh on my whole evening's goal not to cook dinner.

At around 3 the first store blew in and dumped a ton of rain with an incredible clap of thunder. I was out doing errands and had just beat the rain. I was in my van when it all hit. Visibility was nil so I ended up entertaining myself by texting and calling friends until conditions improved. After about 15 minutes the rain stopped and I was able to carry on with my errands. By the time I got home Larry was already there, getting Nate together for his lacrosse tourney. I asked my husband if he had gotten caught in the storm. Not only was his answer a yes, but he went on to tell me he was in his car when it hailed..

Fortunately that seemed to mark the end of the storm. 

The weather did look a bit dicey as the afternoon changed to evening, but nothing much happened. I was able to enjoy both events and, even better in my opinion, I got the night off from cooking dinner.