Sunday, December 19, 2010

Written in the stars....

Lately it has felt as though we went from Summer right into Winter around here.  Temperatures the last couple of weeks have had highs in the 30's.  It has meant that we have had crystal clear skies except for when it is raining or snowing.

I often pickup our youngest son, almost 11 years old, from his after school care program.  One day this past week the sky was remarkably clear and there were no clouds at all.  When I picked him up it was about 5pm.  As I was commenting to him about the sky I couldn't believe I could already see a star and I pointed it out to him.  It wasn't quite sunset yet.  I told him it had to be a planet, but I didn't know which one other than I knew it wasn't Venus (not bright enough) or Mars (not red enough and too bright).  When we got to the car I whipped out my Droid X phone, pulled up Google Skymap, and saw right away that it wasn't one planet, but two.  Jupiter and Uranus were actually very closely aligned at that spot.

Christmas cards have gone out, but we may need to make some more.  The picture above is what we used on them.  It is one of the few (maybe only) that we have were everyone is smiling (mostly) and none of the clowns (boys) is goofing off.  Those with children, and especially boys, might understand the difficulty of that task.  My friend Liz says she only asks that they get one picture a year where everyone is smiling.

We got together with my dad, mom, and my brothers last week.  It was a good time.  We set up a wireless router/firewall for my dad.  Evidently there were legends being formed about how slow their internet access was.  My brother said he thought it might be the firewall, and they were trying to convince my dad to get our mom a laptop with wireless she could use throughout the house anyway.  When we got the router working, we looked at the computer.  It was really slow.  I probably could have driven to California and back to get printouts of the Ebay web page faster than it was loading on the computer.  After running through a few things I normally look at to help speed things up, I found the problem.   He only had 384MB of RAM in his computer.  I explained the concept of electrical information storage in RAM versus mechanical storage on the hard drive, and how electrons move near the speed of light, while a hard drive spins at something far less than that.  I told him was using more than twice the amount of RAM that he had and that everything was having to go to and come from the disk.  I said that most computers out there today come with 4GB of RAM as a standard, 10 times what he had.  I used an analogy that if the average car in the US has 150HP, he had 15HP and was equivalent to cruising the information superhighway on a riding lawnmower.

Last night we got together with my aunts and uncles from SC.  Beth and Joe live here in VA, but Larry and Jerri came up for a surprise visit this week.  It was the first time that SGG had met Larry and Jerri.  I didn't warn her first either.  If the boys had come, I would have warned them.  Lots of stories were told about them, about me (which SGG soaked up), and there was some drinking and karaoke.  It was a lot of fun and always too short.  When they start telling stories about me though, I quickly realize that my son is just like me in many ways, so there may be hope for him yet.  :-)

I pulled the middle and tallest child out of bed yesterday morning and dragged him down to the gym.  He is starting to play basketball and I figured it would be good to get down there and practice some.  We were there for an hour and a half and he worked hard the whole time.  He has some talent, and he has the height of a big guy, so if he practices he will do very well.  Once you get him practicing, he doesn't want to stop.  Of course, I am the one that is really sore for some reason.  :-)

We are ready for Christmas.  I think.  SGG still wanders out and comes back with last minute items almost every day.  We got the boys 15oz mugs with their pictures and names on them.  The idea is that it becomes 'their' mug.  The only thing they are allowed to drink out of.  If it is dirty, they wash it.  My friend Jeff in Richmond took his girls to a pottery place and they painted and glazed their own plates and bowls too.  I love that idea and it is next on the list.  :-)

I hope everyone has a great holiday, Christmas, Chanuka (Hanukka), Kwanzaa, Winter Celebration, Vacation, Snow Days, Boxing Day, Solstice Days, School and Work off days, , and a great new year!

edited to add:
Technology often can bring more problems than it solves, but in the hands of the right person it can do amazing things.  My brother is an avid adventurist and dabbles in videography (cinematography?).  The GoPro video cameras are tiny HD cameras meant to be mounted on helmet cams and other things to capture some of what many extremists do.  Many people are now using improvised booms and other tricks to get awesome points of view on many day to day things, not just the outrageously adventurous.  Below is just such a video of our time over at my parents place last is truly magical when it can capture the spirit and the views of a child at Christmas...

(Actually, I need to see if he can give me a different link.... )



  1. Great picture - Everyone is nearly enough smiling that it totally counts.

    The only picture I got of both the boys smiling this year is on in which they are wearing pajamas. Oh well.

    Y'all have a Merry Christmas!!!

  2. I love that photo! So much happiness. And I also love that you refer to all of the boys now as your own... so sweet.


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