Sunday, January 6, 2013

Right in the 'ol bucket

Ohhh, my poor children.  I saw this commercial at the restaurant at lunch today... and unfortunately thought of myself.  And I won't even be passing them down a Volkswagen, so they really are getting hosed.  But hey, at least I don't wander around the house in my briefs...

Friday, January 4, 2013

This was my childhood.

Ohhhhh, I laughed at this.  This happened all the time at our house growing up.  I am sure my good buddy Jonathan can testify, having had many a sleepover at my house.   Sorry about that man...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

PADT Pumpkin Launch 2012

The last few years at work we've had a tradition of destroying more pumpkins than we carve for Halloween.  I think I've somehow been designated the unofficial master of ceremonies (not sure how that happened.)  And after the disappointment of last year's attempt, I was determined to put a little more thought into it this year.  So as has also become tradition, I didn't start preparing until the weekend before.

A trip to Davis Salvage, some last minute welding by Campbell Enterprises (check out what they normally build!), a paint job, and I had a new pumpkin mortar.  New on the left, old on the right.

After a few back parking lot tests, we had a new and fairly reliable detonation system.  Still used 2 liter bottles, but instead of the traditional try ice, we came up with a nitrogen system.  Fitting in the cap, and a nitrogen bottle from the lab capable of several hundred psi does the trick.  Turns out that a 2 liter can withstand about 150 psi before failing.  It also means we can preload everything, bottle and projectile, and then add pressure, so no more worries about losing appendages for some fun at work.
I also came up with a few non-traditional projectiles.  Carving down pumpkins to fit nicely in the barrel has always been annoying, imperfect, and time consuming.  So this year I found some inflatable balls that fit perfectly in the barrel.  I filled several with varying masses of water.  A few were filled completely and frozen solid.  I attempted to build a few acorn squash with expanding foam sabot (not very successful.)  I also built up a giant foam bullet to carry a camera.  After we completely destroyed one of my kid's digital cameras in it, we opted not to put the more expenisve GoPro in there.
Set up in the parking lot at work.

Melting one of the ice balls to get it to drop into the barrel.

Video of the launches.


Sitting by our little fire chiminea the other night, I got the brilliant idea that it would be so much better with some forced air feeding the fire.  So a few nights later...

Drilled a few holes.

Attach a section of flexible ventilation tubing.

Hook up the old blower from the now defunct water slide.

And presto... instant roaring fire!

The downside appears to be that it shoots flaming coals 10 feet from the fire.  The addition of a throttling valve a few nights later solved that problem.  It worked fantastic over Christmas.  I went from pile of wood to coals for roasting dogs and marshmallows in approximately 5 minutes.

We also performed another fire first over Christmas, at least for our house.  Grandpa has had a sort of tradition of cooking a turkey in a trash can.  And since they came to our house for Christmas, we had to pull it off here.

Making preparations to the can and building a turkey stand.

Inserting the bird, stuffed with fresh herbs from the garden.

Levi doing the honors.

Burned down to a nice glowing heap of coals.

Checking the temp on the bird.  Just right, and the legs were falling off.

I'm not sure a cell phone picture really makes the turkey look all that delicious... but it was!

They get their sports ability from their mother

We signed our older three up for baseball class from the City of Gilbert.  Nothing fancy, no games, just a class to work on basic skills.  The kids seemed to have fun, and the class must have done some good, because my Walcott cousins were impressed with Ella's catching skills at Christmas.

I told them she gets her athletic prowess from me.

They laughed.  In my face.  And at me, not with me.

Because we all know it is true.  When their "coach" was quizzing them on the infield fly rule, or where the forced out was, they knew the answers faster than I did.  Thus the reason some college kid is teaching them to throw a baseball instead of me.  But when they eventually need calculus help, I'm their man (if I am still able to remember it.)


Meanwhile, Luke and his partner in crime were up to no good...

Notice the awesome outfit on Sophie. While they may get their sports ability from Paige, she clearly gets her fashion sense from me.

Which probably isn't a compliment.

I'm not sure where she gets the diva attitude from, but it is clearly a core part of her personality. After each move, she would run back to me and demand that I show her the picture of her fancy moves.

Warms you right down to the cockles of your heart

Probably also would give Dianne Feinstein the vapors.

Levi, Noah, and Ella were invited to a birthday party for a friend from school.  The party was a laser tag party.  But these were some fancy laser tag guns.  What appeared to be AR-15 lowers (soon to be banned, I am sure) with red dot sights.  I wanted to play too!

Warning... the following photos are not for the faint of heart or liberals.


Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Prior to Halloween we headed up to north Scottsdale to some fake farm to pick out pumpkins.  It's kind of set up as an old west "town" with hayrides and a pumpkin patch nestled between the cacti.

Of course, like any good ol' west town from the olden days, they've got signs posted at the entrance to town prohibiting anything even mildly enjoyable from entering there...

There were sack races.

Fake cow roping.

A hay maze.

A wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch (Gina and her kids on the left.)

And finally the glorious pumpkin patch, just like they grow in nature.  We attempted to get the kids to sit nicely and smile for a picture.  This, sadly, is as close as we got to success.  A lovely time was had by all.