Archive for December, 2007

Lazy Lego Sunday

Nettie and Peabody working on their projects.

We’re back from St. Louis with runny noses and a stash of new Playmobil and Legos, our favorite toys. Santa brought Nettie the new Playmobil dollhouse which she is using to create a comic about its Victorian residents. Thankfully we had a good collection of Victorian Playmobil characters and furniture before they ended that particular toy line. Peabody and I have been working on a Lego port as a berth for the Firefighting Hovercraft he got from Santa. It’s made up mostly of old parts, including a batch of Lego Tie Fighter wings. A lot of the characters and props came form this year’s Lego Advent Calendar. The Lego calendars are not nearly as awesome as the Playmobil calendars, but St. Nick always brings both. You can see pictures of our Lego projects on Flickr.

Merry Christmas

Santas on Solano Ave in Berkeley.

Merry Christmas from the Derringdos.

Mit’ya and Kirill at Fort Ross

Dancing the Troika at Fort Ross

On Monday, Nettie’s 6th grade class took part in the overnight environmental living program at California’s Fort Ross State Historic Park. Fort Ross is a reconstructed Russian-American Company outpost, originally established in 1812 to hunt sea otters. We spent two days and a stormy night assuming the rolls, wearing the costumes and performing some of the tasks of former colony residents. Nettie was Mit’ya, a local Kashaya Indian, and I was Kirill Timoofeevich Khlebnikov, the colony accountant. Nettie was part of the cooking group while I was an officer in the militia. Watching the kids dance the Troika, prepare their meals, and march on patrol duty (with me carrying an 1812 Charleville musket) brought the fort to life and made the experience deeply personal.

Building a Rabbit Proof Fence

Building a fence

In addition to getting gear and period costumes ready for our overnight at Fort Ross, Nettie has been assembling materials for her upcoming presentation on the Australian rabbit population. It’s going to be a busy week.

Give Me a “K”

Missing a K

Peabody’s class visited David Lance Goines at his printing shop today. The shop is just two blocks down the street from our house. Sometimes we see Mr. Goines working or talking with a colleague at night in his shop full of presses. As a souvenir, the class got an alphabet poster with a missing K (the letter they are studying this week).

Christmas Glyptodon

Glyptodont in the park

The glyptodon has been Nettie’s favorite prehistoric creature since writing an Ice Age report last year. They’re giant cousins of armadillos. that just have the sweetest look about them. Nettie was lucky enough to find a nice plastic model of one at the Natural History Museum in Vienna this summer. In celebration of the identification of the remains of a new species of glyptodont in Chile, Nettie’s toy version joined the merriment at the Playmobil advent calendar park. The Weiner dog doesn’t look surprised.

Street View: Then and Now

Google Street View shot of Montgomery & Washington today.

The San Francisco street scene in the mural below is set at the corner of Washington and Montgomery. We wanted to know what it looked like today so we pulled up the intersection on Street View in Google Maps. (We love using Google Earth and Google Maps to explore the world from home.) Today it’s where you’ll find the Transamerica Pyramid, near Chinatown and North Beach. There are several pre-war buildings in the neighborhood, but none of them are identifiable in the mural. Maybe the neighborhood has changed, or maybe the artist simply added street names to make it feel more real. It’s worth taking a look at the large version of the mural to see some of the details like the car accident, robbery, and the newspaper headline about John Dillinger.

Stairway Walks in San Francisco

Murals at Coit Tower.

Walking anywhere can be an adventure. But having a good walking tour will take you to neighborhoods, streets and alleys you never thought to explore. Our favorites are Andrew Duncan’s London guides.

This weekend we took our first hike from Stairway Walks in San Francisco by Adah Bakalinsky. Just like Duncan’s guidebooks, Stairway Walks provides insights into the sites and stories of the neighborhood in addition to step-by-step directions. The Telegraph Hill & North Beach walk follows the pre-1849 shoreline and then heads up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. It was our first visit there in the 12 years we’ve lived in the Bay Area. The view from Telegraph Hill is nice, but what made the hike worth it were the amazing murals inside the tower. The detailed, colorful paintings of Depression era life in California reminded us of Richard Scarry’s Busytown.

Baking Soda Volcano

Baking soda volcano erupts.

Peabody brought home a clay volcano from school today. It remained dormant for only a couple hours. After assembling his ingredients, he mixed 10 teaspoons of vinegar with a drop of yellow food coloring. Peabody placed one teaspoon of baking soda in the volcano. Then he slowly poured in the yellow vinegar. Soon foamy lava was flowing onto the the pipe cleaner trees below.

Cell-ebrate the Holidays

Cell tags ready for baking.

Inspired by Nettie’s recent biology project and The Cell Project’s clay cell models, we spent the afternoon molding organelles and cytoplasm. The Cell Project uses Crayola’s Model Magic to make round 3-D cells that when dry, are sliced into cross-sections for examination. We made ours from Sculpey so that we could use them as Christmas ornaments. But Annabel thinks they’d make great gift tags with “Cell-ebrate the Holidays” written across in black Sharpie. For some great examples of clay cell models, check out this pool on flickr.