Archive for September, 2007

And Now Young Skywalker, You Will Pop-Up

The Cantina from the Star Wars Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy

At Gadgetoff I got a sneak peek at what is perhaps the coolest Star Wars book ever. Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy, is an amazing 3D journey through the original series. Coming out in October, it’s the latest creation from Matthew Reinhart, the paper engineer behind the Encyclopedia Prehistorica series of pop-ups. The Star Wars pop-ups, from a huge AT-AT to the Millenium Falcon are complex and detailed. One of my favorite scenes was the Cantina (pictured above). This will be a great addition to our library.

Crows Working for Peanuts

Crow Vending Machine at Gadgetoff

Yesterday I was at Gadgetoff. It’s an annual event in NY that brings inventors, academics and artists together to give demos of their latest projects. One of my favorites was Joshua Klein’s Crow Vending Machine. It’s a device that trains crows to insert found coins in exchange for peanuts. You can read about it here. Maybe this is a way to put Nettie’s backyard birds to work?

Von 0 auf 100

Taking a turn on Von 0 auf 100.

With head colds keeping us indoors this weekend, we broke out a new game from our secret Haba stockpile. Von 0 auf 100 (From 0 to 100) is a car racing game for 2-5 players ages 6 and up. This is one of those rare games that is suitable for young kids but fun for adults. There is little luck, physical skill or memorization involved. It’s pure, simple strategy. A track laid out with random tiles keeps the game replayable. Each round is a fast-paced 20 to 30 minutes.

Lego B-wing Takes Flight

Peabody with our new B-wing.

The B-wing is by far the most elegant fighter from the Star Wars movies. Peabody and I completed our Lego version this afternoon. We used set 6208, the more recent of the two B-wing models created by Lego. It’s much larger and more detailed than the original, model 7180, released in 2000. But the original has some extras not featured in the new set: a red R2 unit, a rebel maintenance man, and a small rebel base with a situation map showing the location of the second Death Star. This new model will take its place with the Millennium Falcon, X-wing, and Imperial At-At at my desk.

Blow me Down! The Black Pirate!

Peabody sets sail.

In addition to our sea dog themed dinner, for Talk Like a Pirate Day we played a session of The Black Pirate (Der schwarze Pirat) from Haba. Players propel their ships around the board using a small bellows. A roll of the die determines how many puffs you get to fill your sails. It’s a game of skill and requires a degree of patience. Squeeze too lightly and your ship won’t move; squeeze too hard and you’ll overshoot your port and its treasure. With the right crew, it makes for a hilarious half hour of plunderin’.

Pirate Cake or Pirate Clog?

Cake sets sail on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Our cake for Talk Like a Pirate Day was a good first effort. Nettie made the sails and Peabody cut out the little pirate captain. It looks a little bare though. Our next pirate cake will be shorter and include edible props: rolled wafer cookie cannons and root beer barrels.

Aeronautical Origami


There are dozens of paper airplane books but The Great International Paper Airplane Book is the classic. The first half of the book is the story behind Scientific American’s paper airplane contest held in 1967. The contest was created by San Francisco ad-men Howard Gossage and Jerry Mander as a PR stunt for the magazine. The stunt drew almost 12,000 entries from around the world. The second half of the book includes the winning designs reprinted on perforated paper. It’s a mystery how our library’s 40 year old 1st edition has survived in one piece.

Birthday Books

Merriweather’s birthday books.

For my birthday, Annabel gave me some great books, each a perfect addition to the Derringdo library. I’m really looking forward to trying the tours in Historic Walks of San Francisco and some of the projects in the Boy Mechanic series.

Yo ho, yo ho, the Pirate Life!

TLAPD founders Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket

Avast! Talk Like a Pirate Day, founded by Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket (above), be September 19. Me crew be plannin’ a feast to celebrate. I’d be for havin’ hardtack and grog but me scurvy lot skuttled that. So we be feastin’ on Corzetti, a pasta that look like pieces ‘o eight, and for dessert, a pirate ship cake. Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen!!!

Rockets and Reptiles

Right after this picture was taken, the iguana tried to make a run for it by climbing up the house.

One of Peabody’s friends had a birthday party this weekend. In addition to pin-the-tale-on-the-donkey and the ritual piñata beating, an uncle-herpetologist brought a tortoise and a collection of large snakes and lizards. Completely unrelated to the reptiles, the uncle-herpetologist launched a couple vinegar and baking soda powered rocket. The Derringdos must do this soon, possibly activated by the timer project from Dangerous Boys. Annabel doesn’t like snakes so I’ve posted some pictures here.