Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Leo making cookies at the neighbors'

Yes, we are dirt sick. But our awesome neighbors had us over for Christmas Eve cookie-making anyway! I feel better already!

Leo's song of skiing at Christmas

If you can't see this, go to

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Leo in Chinese class

Leo's final speech for his Chinese class. If you can't see this, go to:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Leo learns how to program

Leo learned some simpler modular programming today in school. He came home to show me on the very cool site

Then he asked what Java was. Somehow he got on Khan Academy's site and started taking java lessons. Here the boys are, making pictures in Java. 

I just hope he can support the rest of us soon. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sneezing physics

Leo: I asked my teacher what use is an extended 1D object with no mass if it doesn't give us quark plasma.

Me: What'd she say?

Leo: Bless you.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flooding video

Here's a video of Table Mesa Drive, which is the main road connecting us to the rest of Boulder:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Burning Man 2013

We finally got back to Burning Man after being away for five years. It's a huge deal for us, because it takes so much prep time, so much clean-up time, and is so crazy and uncomfortable. Hot and dusty and living with a camp of 50 some other people and using portapotties that sick, drunk people have just used can make one pretty cranky after a few days. Shooting flamethrowers and falling 15 feet into a pit of foam, or exercise balls, is pretty crazy.

We spend a lot of time making costumes. This is one version of Leo's Lunch Lady of Death:

We got a hand with these giant hands:

The coyote, which was also a steel drum, was great fun. We were lucky to climb it and luckier to not get hurt, as many burners packed onto its head, not knowing that it rotates, and got knocked to the ground when the coyote's ears hit them.

 The Cradle of Mir was a space station made of wood (of course). Leo wrote a postcard to the aliens, asking for a nuclear bomb to destroy his homework.

And then there was the Flamethrower Shooting Gallery. Pressurized gasoline makes 20-25 foot flames that you shoot at a metal man target. Leo won. This was a big highlight for us. I've always wanted to do this, but never wanted to wait in the line. We waited about 45 minutes. Also had to convince the gatefolk to allow us in as they are very selective. Rules are that you need to be sober, smart, and not wearing any flammable clothing. One guy said, "I will take off whatever I need to take off to get in there." Apparently you only need to be as smart as an 8-year-old because they let Leo in (to our surprise). Charcade, who runs this, runs a lot of fun games including some kind of flaming skee ball and Dance Dance Immolation. I still remember in 2006, one of our campmates told me he had put on a flame retardant suit and played the Dance Dance Revolution game. Every time he messed up, they shot flames at him. Apparently this was DDI's last year. They said they were going to drop a couch on this game after this year.

Best art car was Duane's Octopus, El Pulpo Mecanico. Shoots fire very creatively and fiercely. I was bummed we never asked to see the switchboard.

Across the street from our camp was this cute little row of houses with mailboxes and colorful doors. You can get real mail in Burning Man. In fact, one of the CORE project builders told me about the care packages that his mom sent him. I recall going to the Burning Man Post Office a decade ago, trying to mail a postcard, and being offered a stamp which I accepted. It turned out to be a stamp of the word SOUP on my belly.

Paul and Leo and their antics on the baseball bat pyramid. We climbed this in 2008.

Our Zander Lander with colorful umbrellas. Paul keeps changing the colors. He's trying to see if my wardrobe can keep up. Temple is behind us. That was burned last Sunday night.

Everyone loved this sculpture. Artist did a similar installation previously which is now on Treasure Island. We got to peek into their studio a couple years ago. 55' tall.

Our Contraptionist Theme Camp makes snow cones every afternoon. Kids get to cut to the front of the line which can get really long. We didn't get a lot of kids unfortunately. This is Karl, our Ambassador, cutting ice to go into the ice shaver.

Our campmate Marc converted a shaved ice machine into a pedal-powered contraption.

There's a trampoline practically on every corner of the city. Leo loves this.

This is one of Leo's handmade shirts. He has another that says, in a mirror image, "If you can read this, you're too close"

Ah, yes, what you've always wanted, a mobile couch in the sky. This is a perfect vehicle for watching burns.

Paul built this Impossible Cargo Box for the festival. I think most people did not know what it was or what to do with it. I think we need a big sign next to the viewing window that says, "Don't look into this window!"

Zander Lander in white.

Leo was lucky to get to ride this zip line. It starts at some 3 stories high and goes to the ground fast. They only started him partway but it was still pretty thrilling.

There's the man on his flying saucer, and our Zander Lander with the flower umbrellas.

The 2:30 rave camp end of the city with the Duckie art car and a nice desert boat.

They had a roller skating rink, which we skated several times. I'll have to post videos of that. And this bowling alley that Leo enjoyed.

One of my favorite flame contraptions. It's actually being fixed in this picture (there's a guy on that sphere). Lots of independently controlled flame madness.

The Man at night in his eerie green glow.

Everyone was compelled for some odd reason to leave their footprint inside the Man.

Leo talking to one of the robots inside the Man. There was a playa phone booth to talk to God this year but we didn't wait in line. Lots of lines! I do recall calling Root  from a working playa phone booth many years ago.

Why there is a fire extinguisher inside the Man is beyond me? I thought this was all about burning him?

Zander Lander rainbow umbrella. Cute little spaceship behind us that we tried to climb into.

Leo in full Lunch Lady of Death regalia.

Another crazy contraption that involved spinning and trying not to puke.

I really liked their sign. Plus they were on the Black Rock Subway! I got a token for the subway but never got to ride it. Our camp was also a subway stop. Somehow, we never got a sign.

Camp next to us was Chainsaw Margarita Guys. They converted a chainsaw into a blender. Here's Leo making a non-alcoholic margarita. There's a lot of rules now at Burning Man, including alcohol rules. They were careful not to let Leo touch any alcohol. In fact, I got carded on the playa.

I love this art car. What a weird sight out in the dust.

Leo and I were on this giant cat-scratching-post structure when a color-coded theme camp descended on us for a camp photo. So we took a picture of them.

This is one of the best flame art projects ever. I need to post a video of this. It looks like a guy on fire riding a bicycle across the playa.

The Cradle of Mir going up in flames. Beautifully choreographed burn. Each pyramid side fell gracefully, in order.

Our campmate Boris made this simple propane puffer. It's the basic building block of most of the flame art on the playa. It had a pilot flame and then a pressure tank that could be released by pressing a button, thus making a big flame poof. Leo had a great time playing with this.

Fireworks before the Man burns. This all is preceded by fire spinning. The whole city (68,000) turns out for this event. I was bummed because so many of the people seemed more interested in a rave club scene than in the eclectic artsy craziness that Burning Man used to be. Lots of folks wearing street clothes and a glow stick for their nighttime costume.