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!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

gonna-be-old-later things

While I have no children (and am not pregnant), I do have a thing with saving stuff (less like hoarding, more like scrapbooking). This morning as I was lying in bed, I thought about a sheet of 37-cent stamps I had, and was wondering whether to use them up or save a couple in the name of When Stamps Were 37-Cents.

Which got me thinking, how old would they have to be for someone to care?

Which got me thinking, who would get those stamps when I died? (likely my currently non-existent posterity)

Which got me thinking, what if those posterity people were to have a packet of their own of stuff from when they were born?

Which got me thinking, what would I put in it?

I think this is not a new idea, but crowdsourcing is fun, so. I made a mental list and would love additional thoughts. What is any and every thing you could possibly put in a packet or book of "Stuff from When I Was Born?"

  • Stamps
  • A postmarked letter
  • A newspaper (probably the most common one, but possibly to get harder in coming years with paper news getting more scarce)
  • Their first rattle (I have this of mine)
  • A picture of the gas pump prices
  • A picture of your car(s)
  • A picture of the building you live in
  • A picture of your cell phone (or even the cell phone itself, when you're done using it)
  • A video of you with your new baby and spouse and friends (it would be interesting to see what my parents' sociality was like when they were 22)
  • A copy of a movie that was made that year or your favorite book
  • A few of your favorite or iconic comic strips from that day, or an iconic comic book printed that year
  • Other era-iconic things, like a Netflix envelope, a Hot-and-Ready Little Caesar's pizza box top (give me a break, I'm brainstorming), the front of a couple cereal boxes (again), a fast food bag with the company logo on it, a piece of iconically fashionable clothing
  • A Wired/Time/Newsweek/People magazine from that month or week
  • A list of your favorite songs from that year
  • A piece of art from/about the city you live in
  • A list of statistics from that year (basic census data, sports teams that are winning, important weather patterns like Hurricane Sandy or the Oklahoma tornadoes)
  • A For the Strength of Youth or Personal Progress booklet (those things get updated relatively frequently, and the old ones are AWESOME... one Personal Progress goal was that you could pour kerosene in all standing water for one square mile to get rid of mosquitoes, and one important youth standard was to not go out in public with curlers in your hair)
  • Your favorite print ads from magazines or direct mail
  • Pictures of your favorite billboards
  • Ticket stubs from a movie or concert or game you went to that year (both for the movie of that year and for the look of what today's ticket stubs look like)
  • Screenshots of your most-used websites or music players or programs or Freecell?
  • If you live in a small town, pictures of the main street (big cities are probably less likely to change as much over a lifetime ... unless you get a picture of Times Square with the ads and everything)
Anything else?

p.s. I think this is also known as a time capsule.