Call me the laminate floor guy

Our friends Chuck and Nicole have been wanting to put a new laminate floor in their kitchen for a while. There was a great price on flooring at Lowes this week, so yesterday I spent the afternoon over at their place helping them lay a new floor.



The interlocking system on this material was a little different from what I’ve used before, so when I started out, I looked like I didn’t know what I was doing. That didn’t engender any confidence in my friends. However, by the end of the evening we had the job done:


I guess I can start moonlighting as a laminate floor installer. I’ll need to get a bigger bottle of Advil before the next job!

Touchscreen Family Calendar

I’m still in the process of doing a full write-up on this project, but for now here’s a look at our fancy new computerized family calendar:


It keeps appointments for everyone in the household:


It’s in a convenient spot in the foyer, right where we hang up our coats:


I’ll post an update on the blog when I have the full write-up, for those who are interested in the technical details.

Camera magic

Over the weekend, I made some upgrades to our household technology. The big one is a computerized family calendar, which I’ll write about over the next few days. There was a smaller upgrade, though, which is a big deal for this Web site: I got an Eye-Fi memory card for my camera.

What does that mean? Well, this nifty little device is just about magical. When I take pictures on my camera, the Eye-Fi card sends those pictures wirelessly through the Internet to my photo collection. It also sends a copy to one of our home computers. That means I can just take pictures whenever and wherever I like, and as long as the camera can connect to the Internet, those pictures will show up instantly in my photo collection, making it much easier to post them here.

These are the first pictures that the Eye-Fi put on the Internet for me:



This is all a bunch of technical mumbo-jumbo, but trust me when I tell you that this is a really neat trick.

Never too old to play with trains

Over the long holiday weekend, Anna and I got a chance to play trains together. We got out the wooden toy train set we still keep in the basement, and set it up in our living room. It’s hard to know whether this is more fun for me or for Anna. I would probably have my own electric train platform set up somewhere in the house if we had room for it.


We used the vertical ramp pieces to make a roller coaster style track that started out on the coffee table and ran down to the floor, but the cars kept jumping the tracks. This seemed like a bad feature in a roller coaster!

Date night with Anna

A couple nights ago this week, Anna and I were the last ones standing after everyone else went off to afterschool and evening activities. So we decided to go out for dinner together.


Miss Anna is a delightful dining companion.

Happy weekend!

Valentines’ Day

Chelsea and I had some fun plans for V-Day. A singer/songwriter she likes, Joshua Radin, was playing in town that night, and I had given Chelsea tickets to the show as a Christmas gift. My folks volunteered to keep the kids (thanks, Mom and Dad!), so we headed into town for dinner and the concert.

The show was taking place at the Trocadero, a concert venue in Chinatown, so we wandered around there for a bit to find a place for dinner:


It’s always fun to see the big gate there:


The Trocadero has no seating on the main level – you just crowd around in front of the stage, standing the whole time. We were about six feet (2m) away from the front of the stage, which was just about perfect positioning.


My sister had a ticket to the show, too, so we hung out together:


It was a fun night and a great, great concert.

Vegetables: Watson and Jeopardy!

Those of you in the US have probably been watching the game show Jeopardy! this week because of an unusual set of games – a two-game contest between top contestants Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, and a computer named Watson, created by IBM’s research labs. The contest has generated a ton of publicity for both Jeopardy! and for IBM, and there’s not much new I can add to the volume of information about the match. However, IBM has had its researchers posting online about the matches, and some of those posts are downright fascinating (emphasis mine):

“Watson has been programmed with a library of known [Final Jeopardy] strategy rules, such as Two-Thirds Betting and Shore’s Conjecture. The research team also added novel rules for some special situations which we discovered.”

I was thinking about this very point while watching Monday’s show – Jeopardy! has probably never before received so much focused attention from a crowd of scientists. Not only are we getting an amazing demonstration of computer technology from IBM, we’re also learning some new things about a game many of us have been enjoying for decades.

Non-US visitors, try YouTube to see what you’re able to view from the shows and the related features. It’s hard to tell from inside the US what makes it through the DRM wall to other nations.

Family laser tag

Over the weekend we took a family trip to Ultrazone, a “laser tag” arena about 30 minutes away from us. Laser tag is a game in which you wear an electronic sensor vest and carry an electronic gun. Players shoot each other for points, playing in a dark, maze-like arena. The kids always enjoy it, and so does their dad.


Chelsea came along with us this time, and I think it was her first time playing. Nick’s friend Ben came along with us too. After Ultrazone, we hit up our favorite outpost of Southern cuisine, Cracker Barrel.

Tomorrow: Valentine’s night on the town.

Our flapper girl

Maria did up her hair over the weekend to make it super curly – perhaps a desire to emulate her mother? – and the results were beautiful:


With her hair like this and her dress, she looked ready to attend a 1920s-themed party:


Fall Fashion Week has been going on up in New York, but with Maria, Fashion Week is an event that never ends in our house.

Finishing touch in the foyer

I mentioned the other day that Chelsea had done a neat arrangement of our family photos on the wall in our foyer. Here’s a picture of her work:


I just love how she arranged the frames so that they form a collective boundary around themselves. For somebody like me who likes things to be orderly, this is a soothing way to hang a bunch of pictures.

Bis Montag, meine Freunde!