bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
The Pack Pinewood Derby race is tomorrow. Sebastian and I hadn't been able to go to the cutting event, so we emailed a design to one of the dads and he cut it for us. But it came out rather flatter than we'd intended. It's considerably flatter than last year's car, and that was the thinnest car in our whole pack (and the fastest, probably not by coincidence).

But this time I was worried...very worried. We'd picked up another metal stud plate at Lowes to weight it, but unlike last year we didn't get a second smaller plate to put under it; there simply wasn't enough thickness for me to fit another plate under the first. In fact, I had serious doubts that I'd be able to hammer in even one plate without destroying the car. There just wasn't enough wood left to work with. It didn't help that I didn't have the leftover wood that the car had been cut from to use as a support when hammering in the stud plate, as I did last year.

So after some thought I decided to skip the stud plate entirely. Instead, I used as many car-weights as possible. I hollowed out the car, carefully; it made a mess. shavings everywhere, but this year I didn't cut myself and the process went more quickly and smoothly than I'd expected. The weights fit well into the hollow, almost flush with the underside, and were fastened in with little screws. We're still light, so one more large weight will be fastened on top, towards the back. It should look pretty cool. It may produce a bit of drag, but the rest of the car is very smooth and flat, and the top weight doesn't stick out too much I think. Besides, we're not going to beat the cars made by professionals anyway!

Sebastian and I sanded it out back - there were a few flakes of snow falling, go figure - and the car ended up very smooth indeed. Then I used a pencil to put a heavy layer of graphite over the points where the tire hubs may touch the car body. Teri and Sebastian laid down the first paint job. They'll finish things off tomorrow, and I'll screw the top weight into place. Then we'll race. A lot depends on how well I fit the wheels in, of course, but all in all this car seems to have a smaller body than last year's, and it's so close to five ounces that the paint job just might take it over the limit! I'll bring a piece of sandpaper just in case.

I think we'll do well, barring accidents.
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
I wasn't really ready for the Pinewood Derby, and we had less time to work on the car than I expected. We went shopping at Lowes for materials on Saturday; the first set races, for our troop, would be Tuesday. That gave us only three days, really, to work on the car.

The block had already been cut at the previous Tuesday's meeting. I'd managed to persuade Sebastian to go with the absolute slimmest design possible; I'm no handyman, but I couldn't help noticing last year that the winners were always the slimmest designs. The design we used was flat on the bottom, and a shallow even arc on the top. I'd guess that 70% of the original block was cut away. The father who was doing the cutting on ours seemed kind of surprised and dubious about it.

The design indicated that we should drill four large holes through the side of the car and fill them with lead (or some other heavy metal). That would require very precise drilling, since there wasn't much wood left to spare. I'd guess those holes were nearly a 1/2 inch across, each! And with nothing but a cheap electric hand-held drill, I was feeling less than confident. I'm really NOT very handy at all (I'd already called my Dad and hinted that we could use his help. He told me it was a father and son type of event. ).
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Any thoughts?
bobquasit: (Default)
It was an eventful three days.


On Saturday, we'd been asked to be designated drivers to King Richard's Faire for Teri's brother and his wife and friends. We did that last year, too.
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bobquasit: (Default)
Stayed up late last night. On Sunday I made a pan of chocolate-chip cookie bars for Sebastian's Cub Scout open house on Tuesday (tonight), but on reflection it seemed likely that it wouldn't be enough. So I made another pan tonight. He asked me to make them chocolate with white chocolate chips.

The white chocolate chips were pretty old, though, and to tell you the truth they're not very good-tasting. So I used the new bag of chocolate chips instead. It wasn't hard to make the cookie dough chocolate; I just added 2/3 of a cup of powdered baking cocoa. They smell delicious. It should be a pretty intense chocolate experience!

Too damned tired.


Jun. 3rd, 2009 09:37 am
bobquasit: (Default)
We had the last Cub Scout meeting of the season last night. Thank goodness! It will be good to get a chance to rest on Tuesday nights. Although I also want to work out something for Sebastian and me to do on those nights, since Teri will still be at a meeting then.

Maybe we'll take a stroll.


May. 18th, 2009 09:49 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Sebastian and I survived the Cub Scout Chuckwagon event on Saturday.

We got up at around 5:30 AM, and hit the road at around 6:30. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the Feinstein camp where the event was being held. The directions were clear, but we were taking several twisty small roads in a relatively rural part of RI. We didn't have any problem until the very last turn; the sign for that road was blank!
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I was really hoping to sleep late the next day; it was a cool, cloudy but not-too-humid late-spring morning, and with the window and ceiling fans going, the sheets felt unbelievably good against my skin. But Teri had to go to work, and Sebastian needed to be looked after, so I got myself up and on my feet. All in all, Sunday was relatively quiet and peaceful. Not a bad way to end the weekend.
bobquasit: (Default)
It was a busy weekend.


Sebastian and I were participating in the district Pinewood Derby race on Saturday. We'd been told it started at 8:30 AM, so that's when Teri dropped us off (it was being held at the local high school). Teri was volunteering at the animal shelter that day, so she couldn't come.

Moments after she drove away we discovered that 8:30 was when the people who were RUNNING it were supposed to be there. Registration for his group didn't start until 10 AM, and the races themselves didn't start until noon! Teri picked us up and we went home for an hour.

The races...well, let me say this: EVERYONE CHEATS AT THE PINEWOOD DERBY. Except us, that us. You should see the glittering, polished, utterly perfect cars that kids bring in; cars which were obviously made either by their fathers (assuming that their fathers are master carpenters) or by professional racing-car design firms. It's obscene. The kids are supposed to do all the work themselves, and instead I think most of those kids - particularly the winners - not only never did any work on their cars themselves, they never even got to touch them. Some, I think, never even SAW "their" cars before the meet!
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We also read a lot of Doctor Dolittle In The Moon this weekend. Not only did I read it at bedtime, but I read it in the car for several hours (cumulatively, not several hours in one session; our longest session was probably an hour, on the ride up to Boston). He's enjoying it very much.


Feb. 1st, 2009 10:27 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Saturday morning Sebastian and I joined his Cub Scout troop on a visit to the WPRI, channel 12 FOX Providence. We met Pete Mangione, one of the weatherman there. He gave the kids a talk about being a weatherman, answered a lot of questions (not all of which really made a lot of sense), and let the kids play on the blue screen a bit. I even got on the blue screen myself, since I was wearing a plaid blue shirt that made me look as if I were riddled with holes. The kids loved it.

I took some video and photos before my batteries ran out (damn it, that happens too often). Several of us sent photos to the troop Yahoo group, and the Cubmaster sent one of mine to WPRI. To my amazement and delight, they showed the picture on the broadcast! Pete even circled Sebastian and one of his friends, football-diagram-style, because they were the only two who had actually been looking at my camera instead of the one to my left.

I have the broadcast on tape, and I'll convert it to some computer format soon. I wonder if it's already online somewhere?


Jan. 11th, 2009 10:19 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
It was an interesting one.

On Saturday we had to get up on the early side, because there was a Cub Scout event at the local high school: a Belt Loop Bonanza, in which each kid took four one-hour classes and will receive a belt loop award for each one. It wasn't just Sebastian's troop, either; there were hundreds of Cub Scouts there with their parents, from lots of Massachusetts and Rhode Island troops.

It felt weird to be in a high school. I haven't been in one in must have been twenty-six years! It was also strange because we had to bring our lunches and eat in the school cafeteria. I don't know...the whole experience was odd, but fun.

Sebastian took a great Wildlife Conservation course that was taught by a women who works at Roger Williams Zoo, an introduction to chess (we played a game together, since he didn't have another kid to play against - he did surprisingly well), and then had lunch. After that he took a course in marbles, and finally a course in Geology that was taught by a guy who really knew his stuff - he seemed like the kind of teacher you really wouldn't want to piss off, but he was very authoritative.

Sebastian was quite good throughout all of the classes. I noticed that some kids, though, were just awful. They wouldn't stop talking, wouldn't pay attention, or constantly interrupted the teachers with pointless statements ("I like jello!") or long comments about the topic which were usually completely wrong. In some cases their parents tried to shush them, but hardly ever effectively. Those kids had real issues, I would say.

Sebastian did get a bit rambunctious at the end, after the classes were over; there was a closing ceremony where he basically ran around and didn't listen to me, but it was over quickly. Then Teri picked us up and we all went up to my parents' place in Brookline to celebrate a belated Christmas. I should explain: we alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas between my family and Teri's each year, and this year we spent Christmas with Teri's family. So we spend a belated Christmas with my family later. We were worried, though, because the weather report said that we'd be getting a bad storm that night. As always, no two reports agreed on when the storm would start or how much snow would fall. It could be anywhere from 4 PM to midnight, and the volume could be anywhere from six to ten inches.

I brought up a yellow bundt cake that I'd baked late the night before, not thinking of the get-together but just for the hell of it. We had roast beef, twice-baked potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding...I have to tell you, I love Yorkshire pudding with gravy. I only get it about once a year, when my mother makes it, and I really need to learn how to make it myself.

We left at about 8 PM. The snow was starting to come down. It was pretty mild in Brookline, but as we approached the I95/Route 1 crossover, it was getting pretty thick and scary. So Teri decided to stick to Route 1. It's a slower route, less dangerous but big enough to get good coverage from snowplows. It was a long, slow, somewhat scary ride home, because when we left Route 1 we were on some relatively unplowed and quiet back roads. But we made it home safely, woke Sebastian up, and put him to bed. It took a lot of reading to put him to sleep again; at least three chapters of The Black Stallion.

Sunday Teri woke me up and asked me to show her how to start the new snowblower. I got up (slowly), got dressed, and went out to get it. Our shed doors were frozen shut, but with some hard work I managed to get them open. The snowblower started up right away with no trouble, and I used it to clear the five or six inches of snow from our back walk, driveway, and front sidewalk. It only took about ten minutes or so. What a wonderful convenience!

Sunday was a relatively quiet day for us. We did some grocery shopping. Sebastian had been scheduled for a birthday party for a girl in his class, but it was postponed due to the weather. Teri and Sebastian played their DS's quite a bit, and I played them when they took breaks. I also spent a lot of time reading Larry Niven's Footfall, a good large SF invasion book of the massive disaster variety. Not top-notch Niven, but very good.

In the evening, Sebastian took a shower. A little later, we discovered that he'd shut the bathroom door behind him...and somehow, the bolt had engaged. This was a real problem, not least because I discovered this when I needed to use the bathroom.

It was also a mystery. How on earth had the bolt been thrown? It's an old door and a very simple mechanism. There's a latch for the door, and a light bolt that you can throw. Unfortunately, this meant that we were in trouble. There was no key and no keyhole. The hinges were on the other side of the door. The lone bathroom window couldn't be opened from outside, and breaking it would be both dangerous and expensive. Even if I unscrewed and dismounted the door handle, there would be no hole large enough to allow us to do anything at all. I tried using magnets to jiggle the bolt, but didn't have a magnet strong enough to do anything through the thickness of the door. I was able to slide a piece of cardboard between the door and the frame, but all I could do was locate the bolt; I couldn't open it, because there was no way to apply left-to-right pressure of any sort. The doorframe pretty much blocked me from any action. I tried lots of jiggling, but that didn't help at all.

So I threw my body against the bathroom door a couple of times, and on the second time I bashed the door open. We were lucky; the damage was relatively slight. The bolt and latch were badly bent (I neglected to fasten the latch open while bashing the door - to be honest, I was pretty pissed off by that point - I really needed to get in there). A very small splinter of wood was knocked off part of the door. But I was able to bend the latch and bolt back enough to make them work smoothly again, and the door itself doesn't look all that much worse.

Still, Sebastian has been strictly instructed never to close the bathroom door behind him again. I still can't figure out how the bolt got thrown - it's completely inaccessible from outside the bathroom!
bobquasit: (Default)
On Sunday we went to see the Providence Bruins play the Springfield Flyers at the Dunkin Donuts Center (in Providence). It was a Cub Scout event. Teri couldn't come, because she was at the Christmas party for her work.

It was actually pretty fun. Sebastian didn't pay that much attention to the game, but he enjoyed screaming his lungs out for the Bruins. Here's a photo; unfortunately it's the only one I have, because I forgot the regular camera at home.

There was a fight that shocked him a bit, I think. And every time there was a goal and that horn blared, he covered his ears; he shouted "I'm going deaf!".

The Bruins won, 5-1.


bobquasit: (Default)

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