Sunday, November 10, 2013

Halloween 2013

Let me begin this post by saying that Brooke likes Halloween.  A lot.  As in, one of her goals in life is to be able to build and run her own haunted house.  We had plans to make some really awesome Halloween costumes this year.  However, with getting a new job, moving and all of the associated craziness there, we didn't really have time to work on them.  I won't say what they were going to be in case we end up making them for next year.

Instead we went with an old standby, one which we used the first Halloween we were together:
 Abe Lincoln and Cinderella!

These costumes stem from the fact that Brooke really does look like Cinderella (and happens to have a Cinderella-style dress from her cliff diving days), and the fact that I can pull off a relatively convincing Lincoln.  I grew out my beard for about 6 weeks for this.

I know I did the same costume last year, so I promise this will be the last time I'm Lincoln.  However, this was the first time anyone at my new job had seen it, so I feel justified.  I didn't win the costume contest, but I think that's because they didn't have a dead historical figures category.  I couldn't quite compete with the guy who wore an actual pumpkin on his head.

Our ward had their trunk-or-treat on Halloween, so after getting all decked out, we went over to the church to hand out candy.  Brooke grew up with this interesting tradition (they do things differently in Iowa), where you had to tell a joke at each house you went to before you could get any candy.  She made the kids at the trunk or treat tell jokes for their candy.  Many of the kids seemed pretty confused when she asked them if they had a joke, but eventually she got jokes out of most of them.

She also won all the hearts of the girls in her primary class by dressing up as a Disney princess.

After the trunk or treat we went back home and handed out more candy while we watched movies.  We bought way more candy than we needed.  We had heard that this neighborhood gets a lot of trick-or-treaters, but either other people's definition of "a lot" is different than ours, or we missed the biggest crowds when we went to the trunk or treat.  Also, Brooke got a bunch more candy the day after Halloween for 75% off.  Her mom would be proud (about the deal, not the amount of junk food).

It's been a good week.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I am grateful for finding lost things

Halloween is over! That means a lot of people are doing thankful lists on Facebook now. I saw them this morning and thought, "That's nice." and then I moved on.

Specifically, I moved on to trying to find my driver's license. I tried to use my credit card on Monday and my DL was magically not in my purse. I could have said I lost it on Monday and then tried to retrace my steps from there, but really I have no idea when I used it before that and had pretty much no time frame to go on. I was supposed to meet someone at 10am today, and the clock was slowly (quickly) moving past that. Still, I was feeling fairly chill about things, but I definitely put in a few prayers. After 45 minutes of searching, I called my friend and she came to pick me up instead.

When I arrived back at home, I resumed my search. As I ruled out more and more places, I felt more and more frantic, and of course my prayers took on a more frantic note, too. I have specific reasons to need my license soon, and I didn't really want to spend a whole day at the DMV trying to replace it. However, I kept feeling like if I would just clean up the floor right around my bed, I would find it. My panic mode search system went like this:

1. Hang up a sweatshirt from off the floor by the bed.
2. Eat Halloween candy.
3. Look in a stack of papers in the living room that came out of a box of things from two years ago.
4. Eat yogurt.
5. Let the dog outside.
6. Recheck some coat pockets.
7. Check which local DMV offices have available appointments within the week (none of them).
8. Hang up another sweatshirt from the floor by the bed. (It gets cold, okay?)

Clearly, this was going well. After more of this productive cycle, I finally buckled down to really finish hanging up that sweatshirt collection, and as soon as I did, lo and behold! My driver's license! Luckily, I was already kneeling because I was going through things on the floor, and my thank-you prayer was just about as giddy as I had been frantic before. I wanted to tell everybody how blessed I was. So I pulled up my Facebook page and thought about how sometimes God likes to trick me into doing important-for-me things that he knows I'm not paying enough attention to do on my own.

I am probably not going to post a thankful thing every day, but Extra Gratitude Month definitely has my attention now. Thanks to my lost driver's license, I'm focused now on counting my blessings. The re-centering was needed, and that deserves another thank you prayer.

Friday, September 6, 2013

we're cooking what?

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Krista introduced me to a cooking blog called The Bitten Word. They were doing this thing they call the Cover-to-Cover Challenge, which she told me about with a blithe "Link. You should enter." She and our friend Chase were both participating, so Jon and I decided to do it, too. The deal is that they choose an issue of a cooking magazine and farm out all the recipes (you know ... cover to cover) to their readers in a special game of "recipe roulette." Everybody makes their assigned thing and then reports back. Jon and I specified a couple of dietary restrictions and chose "challenging" for the recipe difficulty, and then sat back and waited while they loaded the chamber.

A week or two later, we received our assignment and were preetttyyyy sure we lost that particular roulette when we saw what we were cooking: beef tartare, which translates to "raw beef." (See also: Mr. Bean.) From the challenge site: "...the September issue of Bon App├ętit. It’s their restaurant issue, and it includes a ton of dishes we were eager to try ourselves. Some of them are straightforward fare. Others are completely bonkers." Clearly we ended up on the "completely bonkers" side of the scale.

"I thought this was a cooking challenge," I said. "There's no cooking at all in this recipe! I call foul!"

"We asked for a challenging thing to cook, not a challenging thing to EAT," Jon concurred.

I know what you're thinking: "Guys, this is no time to flake! Wait, this is exactly the time to flake!"

Alas, in the spirit of being good sports, we began collecting ingredients. Step #1 was to, you know, pickle our own Asian pears (nbd). That turned out to be pretty easy, and disgusting. The night before, we heated up the rice vinegar with the mustard seeds, stirred in some sugar, and let it sit for just long enough to exceed the hood fan's capacity to get rid of the smell. Then we submerged the chopped pears in the vinegar and popped it in the fridge. So far, yum! We saved one pear out so that we could eat it and feel less sad about soaking the other one in vinegar.

That done, we began collecting the rest of the ingredients. We went to the spice shop for gochugaru (turned out to be kimchi chile, and all they had was a mild one - whew), swapped out the Chinese hot mustard for regular mustard powder (I do not do spicy), failed in our search for brown mustard seeds, and chatted up the grocery store butcher about the beef eye round.

"It needs to have no connective tissue," I said. "It's for tartare. I don't want to die."

"That package there should be good," he replied. "...You're eating it raw? I'm not sure that cut will be tender enough. It's really for roasting."

"Don't worry," I assured him. "We're probably only going to eat like one bite. Um, what would be better, though?"

"You could get a filet mignon. From ... not here."

I bought the beef. When Jon got home from work, we set to work. The aioli was the most fun - I drizzled vegetable oil into an egg/vinegar/gochugaru mixture Jon made, while he whisked and whisked and whisked, until it magically became a pretty tasty homemade mayonnaise. I toasted pine nuts and picked watercress leaves off the stalks, one by one, which took forever.

Jon cut the beef up into little cubes. "Do you think that's a quarter inch?" he asked me.

"Cut it a little smaller so we don't have to chew as much," I said.

Finally, it looked like we had everything ready to go. We had baked a pan of brownies so we could get rid of the taste in our mouths if it was really terrible, so we pulled that out to an accessible spot. We had some adventurous friends come over to help us taste it, so we'd have some sickbed company if we got food poisoning. We assembled everything and passed out the forks.

We were informed we had to try it first, so we bravely brought our forks to our lips. And guess what! It was awesome! We were totally shocked. Even the pears were good - they were still crunchy, which added a super great texture. Jon said he was surprised by how not-meaty it tasted (probably because of the texture of the meat, which reminded us of more of gummy bears than beef). Also, props to him, because I did most of the organization of the experience, so he didn't really know how it was all supposed to come together. I just said, "We need these ingredients," and he figured it out as we made it. (For example, he said, "When I made the soy ginger dressing, I thought it was supposed to be a vinaigrette, but there was no oil and only a little bit of vinegar. That made me a little nervous.") He did most of the heavy lifting, and did a great job of it.

SUCCESS!! Here's us with our dish:

Then we passed it on to our friends, who also liked it. After we tried it raw, we stir fried a little of it, too. (Don't worry, the pregnant girl in the picture below is eating the cooked version.) Surprisingly, the flavor TOTALLY changed. It was still good, but it was completely different. Jon liked the cooked flavor better, and I liked the raw flavor better. The marinade was really stellar, and we're going to keep that in the rotation. Thanks to The Bitten Word, for making us jump so far out of our comfort zones. And go us!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pond Scum Soup

So, I needed a place to post this online and - guess what! I had this blog. Anyway, for anyone who ever wanted to know, here is Pond Scum Soup. Adapted from Danielle Koberstein.

Pond Scum Soup

*Note: The flavor comes from the items above the dotted line. Everything below can be adjusted or substituted to taste.

2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, sliced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
7-8 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz canned diced tomatoes

1-2 cans of chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 c barley
1/3 c quinoa
1 head of any greens
Some cabbage, cut up
Some eggplant, chunks
Some yellow squash, sliced
A couple handfuls of chopped almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp onion powder
1 dash cayenne pepper

1.       Heat oil and butter in a pan. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook on low until celery and carrots are coated and have absorbed some onion flavor.
2.       Add 1/2 the garlic, cook until garlic flavor is into the vegetables a little, too.
3.       Pour everything into a crock pot; add everything else. (Add the almonds maybe 20 minutes before serving so they stay crunchy.)


1.       Heat oil and butter in a large stock pot. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook on low for 15 minutes (until tender).
2.       Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pot and cook another 5 minutes.
3.       Add the rest of vegetables, grains and, if you are adding beans, those.
4.       Add greens UNLESS you are using spinach. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes.
5.       IF USING SPINACH: After that 40-minute simmer time, add spinach. Heat until spinach has wilted to appropriately scum-like conditions.
6.       Add almonds toward the end, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat throughout.

*Danielle adds 3/4 c dried lentils, 3/4 c dried split peas, 14-oz can of kidney beans and a 14-oz can of garbanzo beans. that is a lot of beans. I leave them out in favor of the cabbage, eggplant, and squash, and sometimes fresh green beans. If you include the beans AND these vegetables, you might want to increase the liquid and spices in the soup - a fair amount of liquid is important for the grains and greens. Use more if you want it more soupy and less like a stew.

*The most important thing in this recipe is to simmer it/leave it in the crock pot. I made this once in a rush and it wasn't that good. The whole flavor depends on the garlic, onions, and spices being able to sink into the vegetables and tougher-than-spinach greens.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

dedicated to Oakland

Last week, we moved from Oakland, California, to a more suburban town farther south, closer to Jon's new job. We know Oakland gets a lot of bad press, but as we really enjoyed living there, we thought we'd do a good-bye post about things we loved about living in Oakland. (And let's be honest, we're still close enough that we'll be up there often enough.) When we tell people we just moved from Oakland, we often get negative reactions, which makes us think to ourselves, "Have they ever even spent any time there?" We recognize that Oakland has work to do in certain areas, but you likely already know the negative stories. We want to familiarize people with some of the positive ones, of which there are many.

For those familiar with the area, you'll notice that some of these are actually in Berkeley - but living in Oakland, we were close to Berkeley, so it was part of our experience. To be fair, later on we'll do a post about things we are excited about for our new area. (Neither of these posts will include things about people we miss or are excited about being nearby - just rest assured that we have great friends in both areas.)

The view from our bedroom window at sunset, 2nd Oakland apartment
Very first ... we will miss the feel of Oakland. That feeling of knowing the neighborhoods, knowing which ones you prefer and why, and knowing someone in every one of those neighborhoods. The intimate acquaintance with Adams' Point that comes with having five friends managing apartment buildings there. That slight grittiness with the flourishing culture within it - it's true that you have to be a little more alert, a little more careful in Oakland, but we think it's worth it. Plus, then you learn to be savvy - one trick is to slash through the registration stickers on your car with an Exacto knife, so that if someone tries to steal it they can never get the whole thing. Brilliant, right??

We have so many Oakland stories. Coming home from something one night, cutting through downtown and realizing that it's Oakland's birthday - stopping to participate in the party. Getting free Oakland Birthday party hats and eating from food trucks and stepping out of the way for the handful of guys who brought their tubas and are brass-banding it down the sidewalk. Driving down International Blvd at night and passing someone with giant lights and equipment, shooting a movie. Having friends who know where to get pretty much any kind of food. Walking home one night from a $5 classic movie at the Paramount, and passing the classic car gathering that always happens at the 1/4-Lb Giant Burger parking lot at the corner of W Grand and Telegraph. Our favorite area is west Oakland, with its wide streets, industrial areas and artists' lofts and quirks and crime-that-makes-for-good-stories-but -usually-doesn't-affect-the-bystanders. Listening to that one guy who always rides by on his bike, carrying his extraordinarily loud boom box on his shoulder. Having a view that includes either the temple or the beautiful downtown lights. And speaking of downtown lights, sometime you should check out the view of the city as you come around the 980 stretch from 580 westbound toward downtown. I'll never get tired of that one.

Here are some of our favorite Oakland things:
  • We had a ridiculously short commute to the Oakland LDS Temple. And we went to church in the building next to it, which was fun.
  • Berkeley Bowl, a grocery store built in I think what used to be a bowling alley ... they have a pretty good bulk section and the most incredible array of fresh, inexpensive produce I have ever seen ... plus some other fun things, like calamari steaks, Dang! coconut chips, and squid ink.
  • Paramount Theater - monthly, they show old movies for $5. We LOVE going to those - it's not just a movie. First of all, you need to get there when the doors open at 7pm, because sometimes they sell out. And also because you need to be able to just sit and take in the environment. The inside of the theater is incredibly ornate, restored from the 1920's. The staff are dressed in tuxes and welcome you to the theater. The bathrooms are also restored, and include a giant powder room with stools and mirrors and lights, and the soap by the sink is a powder. Then, at 7:30 before the movie starts, they have an organist who plays for awhile, and then they do a Dec-O-Win raffle for prizes donated by local vendors. Then they show an old newsreel. And THEN they show the movie, usually by 8:30pm.
  • Homeroom, a restaurant dedicated to macaroni and cheese. need I say more?

Oaktown Spice Shop, a tiny shop filled with tons of spices I've never heard of and a few that I have ... including a rainbow of colored and flavored salts. The owner knows everything - all you have to do is say, "I'm trying to make this. what spice should I use?" and he can point you toward several good choices, and explain them all. We go all the time and get the little sample packets for a dollar or two.
Dimond Park Lions Pool, where I learned correct swimming kicking, and where that one lady who has giant, flaming red hair, never shuts up and always has something vaguely inappropriately close to say that implies we are much better friends than we are.
  • Kwik Way, a drive-in/outdoor diner sort of place. They have some of the most incredible burgers. I took a vegetarian there a couple weeks ago and she had their veggie burger, and said it was the closest thing she'd had to an actual meat burger ever.
  • Merritt Bakery - They have chicken and waffles, and very tasty pastries. This is where I got the tiny cake top to surprise Jon on our first anniversary. (Edit: This place burned down a few months after this blogpost.)
  • The whole Lake Merritt area. They have a lot of neat little places, most of which I only recently discovered. There is a small branch of the library right there next to the farmers' market and the spice shop - it makes for a pretty perfect little Oakland Saturday morning.
  • The Mountain View Cemetery (in Oakland, not Mountain View). It's a gorgeous, 226-acre cemetery with peaceful, elegant mausoleums, incredible views, and towering crypts. You can visit Samuel Merritt's grave there, among many other big Oakland names. There's also a whole Jewish cemetery within it. The picture to the right is Jon in front of one of the mausoleums on the 4th of July.
  • Bittersweet - it's a chocolate cafe, yo. It has excellent salted caramel hot chocolate, and slightly bizarre but also kind of good white chocolate cardamom hot chocolate.
  • Oaklandish - The classic Oakland store. There are actually several little Oakland-y shops (including Loakal and Urban Indigo) but this one is kind of the flagship. Oaklanders are proud of their city, and this is one of the ways it shows.
  • The Fuse Fitness - I've already blogged about this, but it's a gym in the quaint little "unincorporated community of 2200 homes" of Kensington. The street it's on feels like some sort of dream community, with adorable little houses and businesses and tons of people out walking their dogs or going for a run. And the gym is a tiny community of its own. It's a great place.
  • East Bay Restaurant Supply - where to go for all your giant pizza peel needs. or your giant whisk needs, or your tiny whisk needs, or your barstool needs, or your other-stuff-you-never-realized-people-who-don't-run-a-restaurant-could-actually-buy needs.
  • Monkey Forest Road - a coffee bar and Indonesian art gallery on Grand Ave. seriously. They're going to have a show coming up called the Grand Avenue Retrospective (tentative opening date 10/19/13) ... they are looking for submissions of old photos and memories from people who have lived in the Grand Ave area. It's going to be so awesome.
  • Grand Lake Farmers Market - where we know exactly who sells what of what we like, but there are still sometimes surprises ... red russian kale, lemon almonds, apricot lavender balsamic vinegar, and the best cantaloupe I've ever had. This is listed as one of the best farmer's markets in the Bay Area (specifically in the East Bay.)
  • The White Elephant Sale, where I got a box of books and a couple of great vases, and the cash was donated to the Oakland Museum. And where the line, an HOUR before it opened, was LITERALLY, probably half a mile long (those at the front had blankets and camp chairs). Where an actual person dressed in a white elephant costume to provide photo ops. I kinda want to volunteer there next year. Oh, a note: This is a once-a-year event, generally held in March.
  • Sparky's Giant Burgers - they're just really good, ok? This is a great place to go after the temple, because it's closer than Fenton's and has way better food. (Not better ice cream though.)
  • Urban Ore - This is a THREE-ACRE thrift store. It's so intense that they give tours. At any given time they have about 3500 DOORS for sale. Doors. And lumber, and books, and file cabinets, and sinks, and counters, and clothes, and art supplies, and SO MUCH MORE.
  • The random small bookstores. It's possible they're not as prevalent as I think, but I feel like they're always cropping up where I least expect.
  • Off the Grid - this is a SF-based thing that does a stop in Oakland every Friday. Tons of food trucks congregate so you can get a huge variety all at once.
  • "The cannons" aka the cranes. We think they look like cannons. And also I can't look at them without thinking of Star Wars.
  • The so many BART stations! There are a bunch in Oakland. And so many buses to get to them. 
  • This sort of goes without saying, but Oakland is super close to San Francisco, so it's comparatively easy and quick to get there.
  • Also super close to the Oakland airport. Hard to get more convenient.
  • For the 4th of July, there are lots of places to see fireworks. This area is at a perfect crossroads that allows you to see fireworks in SF, Berkeley, Marin, and some farther-south but not-sure-exacly-where areas, all from one comfy hill! And also, as you drive home from that hill, you pass tons of other people lighting their own commercial-grade fireworks. Awesome.
  • The beautiful Oakland Hills! There are also a ton of gorgeous parks up in there. It's always cool and shady and feels like you're in the forest.
  • The Chabot Space and Science Center. We like going to their adults-only nighttime events. They are relaxed and it's like a giant space playhouse.
  • The American Steel Studios - we've already blogged about this here, and it remains a super great place to visit. It's sort of hidden among lots of warehouses. it's like a secret awesome place.
  • The East Bay Bike Party. It's on the second Friday of every month. You'd think that we love this because we just really love biking. Not so. We are awful Californians in the sense that we don't actually own bikes. (Hopefully that will change at some point, but I am still scared to ride on the street, because the one time I did it - in Provo - was terrifying. Jon has promised to teach me.) Anyway, the reason this is so awesome is because this traveling bike party has on occasion passed our apartment window, and it is the coolest sight (and sound). Floods of bikers, streaming down the street at night, often with glow-in-the-dark things and crazy music.
  • The views. We loved our first apartment in Oakland, and it had a stunning view of downtown Oakland that I think I never took a picture of. We liked our second apartment pretty well (it couldn't quite compare to our beautiful yet inexpensive loft, but it was still a good space), but it had a great view of the Oakland temple (especially at night).
  • The protests. Many people would see this as a drawback, but to us it's exciting to be in a place where things are happening, where people respond in vocal ways to national issues. We don't always agree with the sentiments, but it's still a crazy, adrenaline-ish experience to hear the news helicopters and pass the blocked-off areas and know that in Oakland, people are talking. 
  • The running route we used to take, from our apartment, through downtown, to Jack London Square and back. It's awesome to see all the people and stores and buildings and cars and sights when you're trying not to think about your lungs.
  • **Edit: Right after publishing this post, we tried the Cheeseboard Collective for the first time. This is some of the best pizza we've ever had. They serve only one kind of spectacular and unique pizza every day and they always have a line out the door and down the block.
  • Finally, the diversity. In our ward, on the street, everywhere we went, there were a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds surrounding us. Our ward had a rich history and was a beautiful patchwork of cultures and levels of experience in the Church. We met people with incredible stories. Sometimes it could be a struggle, since many people had very different approaches to different situations, but overall it was a great example of how individuals of different backgrounds can strengthen the group.
So, there's our guide. Visit soon :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Superhuman Spouse

By Jon

This is a quick blog post.  I just had to mention something to the world before the amazing-ness of it wore off.  I came home tonight to find something surprising:

This is our dresser.  Not all that amazing, except for the fact that it is now in our front hall.  We're getting ready to move soon, and Brooke not only emptied it out, but she moved the thing from our bedroom into the hall by the living room.  By herself.  Without removing any of the drawers!

I just wanted to brag a little bit about how amazing she is.  I was actually wondering if we would be able to get the thing out with both of us working together, and she went and did it by herself.

Kimber, I'm not sure what that gym class that you've been teaching does, but whatever it is, it's helped Brooke realize her dream of being Wonder Woman.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Neon Run

Brooke has been busy with other projects and she's been encouraging me to contribute to the blog, so hopefully she won't mind if I post about one of the really awesome events we participated in recently.

A few months ago we saw a deal online for tickets to participate in the Neon Run.  For those of you who don't know what the Neon Run is (and I'm assuming that's pretty much everyone, including us before we saw this deal), I like to describe it as halfway between a 5k and a rave (minus the illegal drugs and pacifiers).  It's held at night, and everyone dresses in either neon colors or glow in the dark stuff.  Every so often they have these tents where they've set up a bunch of black lights.  As you run through they spray blacklight paint on everyone so you glow in the black lights.

We have been planning to do a race together for quite some time, so when we saw this deal we thought it might be a fun way to get started.  Our original plan was to come up with really awesome costumes for this race, but between starting the new job and looking for places to live (we're moving soon, but that's another post), I didn't get much farther than ordering a bunch of LED strips from ebay.

The week of the race came and I decided to throw something together that would still be cool, but not quite as incredible as we'd originally planned (we're saving that for Halloween).  We got some glow in the dark fabric paint and decorated some cheapo shirts.  We also used some black light body paint (provided in our race packet).  Here are the results:

Brooke would have you know that  the B on her shirt
stands for Brooke and not for the Red
Sox since she is a Yankee's fan
It was Brooke's idea to trace my
veins in blacklight paint.

The things I'm most proud of, however, were the LEDs.  I first put a couple rows of LED's behind my race number and hooked them to a battery and a switch so I could light up my number.  Then I put a strip of blue LED's around each of our shoes and hooked them to a 9V battery that I taped to the back of each shoe.  This is what they looked like at the beginning of the race:

But as it got darker, they stood out more and more.  I have never in my life gotten so many (or any) compliments about my shoes.  We literally could not go more than 100 yards without hearing someone say "look at those shoes!"  or "your shoes are awesome!"  It was a nice boost to my ego.  This picture should give you a better idea of what they looked like in the dark.

The run itself was pretty fun.  It was definitely not a race where everyone was super competitive.  I'm pretty sure some people walked the whole thing.  That was good for us, since neither of us is that fast.  We jogged most of the way.  Most of the time when we stopped, it was to adjust or fix our LED shoes.  I think we were both a little surprised at how easy it was*.

*Brooke's Note: I had heard of "fun runs," but I always just thought "fun run" meant "it's short, which is more fun and less hard/serious than more miles would be." Maybe I was right, but I felt that the Neon Run was probably the most literal definition of "fun run" I will ever see. The starting area was totally filled and refilled over and over with the thousands and thousands of runners, and it was actually nearly impossible to run at the beginning. From there on, it was more of a "go through the cool blacklight course and, if you want, you can run!" OK, most of the people ran at least some of the time, but loootttsss of the people defaulted to walking except during the exciting parts or after the first half mile. So, this is the perfect run for people who want to do a 5k where you actually are just at a giant party that moves.

Here are some more pictures and videos of us during/at the run.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Brooke's high school advice to teachers

I was going through some old papers today and found this list I made in high school. I don't know if I was feeling especially great about classes I loved or especially frustrated with classes I didn't, but it's still an interesting list. There are one or two I don't completely agree with anymore, but most I think I could still get behind. (Photo credit - the Washington Post.)



1. Never try to make someone write a satire on something they don't care about.
2. Fun and creativity are good. People remember the things they enjoyed learning. Keep the fun focused on the subject and it will make the subject fun, not just the experience.
3. Ethos, pathos, logos! It works in persuasive argument, why not in teaching?
4. Remember that your students do not have your experience, and just because you think YOU can get a good "why the author wrote the book" from an R.L. Stine doesn't mean that they can (or that you're right).
5. Be fair.
6. Encourage people to write what they know, and to expand what they know so they can write more (and more effectively).
7. Invest yourself in your students. People respond well to sincerity.
8. Yours is not your students' only class, and school is not their only activity. Give efficient homework whenever possible.
9. Hold debates. In any class. Over anything, from whether or not Napoleon was a child of the Enlightenment to why this particular mathematical method is better than that one in a given situation. People like to argue.
10. Hold to your due dates enough of the time that your students believe you when you give them, but don't be afraid to give extensions.
11. Don't be so serious!
12. Convince yourself first.
13. Hands on, hands on, hands on.
14. Make kids think. Don't just present the material. Make them ask questions.
15. Some kids will never respond. Try to reach them anyway. Don't treat them like a lost cause.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Maker Faire 2013

For those who weren't around for last year's report, the Maker Faire is a huge DIY festival that takes place every year in San Mateo. (They have others around the country, too.) It's put on by Make Magazine. It's a great community of people, and really fun to see the things everyone comes up with. Also, I don't know why this is showing up as all-caps, because it looks like boring, lower-case Times New Roman to me. So, sorry about that.

Anyway, for my birthday, Jonny got me a Wondermark comic book and a really excellent Wondermark print, of a comic that I might as well have written. He got them for me specifically because we had tickets to the Maker Faire, and David Malki (who does the Wondermark comic) had just announced that he would be there with a booth. So Jon got me things to have signed!

(That says "bibliophibians" up there.) We went to the Wondermark booth as pretty much our first activity of the day. He does this thing called a Roll-a-Sketch, where you pay five bucks and roll some dice that correspond with different pictures. He will then draw you a comic of your very own, combining those pictures in crazy ways. So I did this! I was the first one of the day.

The "roll" part of "Roll-a-Sketch":

The "sketch" part:

The outcome:

After that, we explored the rest of the place. Here is "The Imperial March" being played on Tesla coils (this was Jon's favorite part):

And here is art made from piano parts:

And here is a thing where a guy took a piano out to Half Moon Bay and played on it every night for a few weeks, letting it deteriorate in the weather before setting it on fire for the last concert (more). Yay for the Maker Faire!