Archive for January, 2009

Making a model Earth

Peabody’s class made tiny Earths with Crayola’s Model Magic. First they rolled a small red ball to be the inner core. Then they wrapped additional layers in different colors: yellow for the outer core, orange for the mantle and brown for the crust. He let it dry overnight and this morning we sliced it in half to reveal its cross section. Model Magic is also perfect for creating model cell’s like these. Although Nettie prefers Jello for her cells.

Firecracker Cake

We celebrated Chinese New Year this week with pastries from Masse’s in Berkeley. They made firecracker cakes, bull head chocolate bombes and a green tea opera cakes. In all of our travels we’ve never found a better pâtisserie than in our own neighborhood. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop here.

Making a minature world

We love miniatures: Legos, Playmobil, Plan City. Recently I ran across a web tool that manipulates real-life scenes to look like photographs of models. You can look at some more here or play with the tool yourself here.

The Inauguration from Barcelona

Being in Spain this week meant having to watch the Inauguration from my hotel room. It was a little sad being out of the country for the big day. The President gave his acceptance speech a couple hours after my own presentation which was somewhat less historic, but did include a game demonstration. That green-faced Wii in the bottom left of the picture is a developer’s system.

The Europeans I’ve met over the last couple months have been so happy for me as an American. Last month when going through security at Moscow’s airport, the border guard looked at my passport, greeting me with a harsh “Ahh…American.” When I said “Yes, American.” he replied with a hearty “Obama!” I said “Yes, Obama.” He looked at me suspiciously and asked “You vote for Obama?” The guard was ecstatic when I said “yes.” I only wish I had brought some campaign buttons to hand out.

Happy Inauguration!

This was Peabody’s first Inauguration and the first one that I could remember, and we made pins to celebrate. Peabody had the idea to use the Obama logo as the background, and Mother let us use her glitter and gel pen to make outlines and write. Then, after seeing a lego Obama logo, we decided to build one ourselves. Finally, I made one little pin the perfect size for Mandy. Yes We Can!

Victorian ice cream molds

I’m back at SFO this afternoon, heading off to Barcelona for a bit of work. Right before you head into the security check in the international terminal, there is a Victorian kitchen exhibit. Mostly pots and pans, but I knew Annabel would love the display of ice cream molds. The pickle and nut molds shown here would have been used to assemble a larger cornucopia desert presentation. You can see some great examples at

Planning at Plan City

While Peabody likes nothing better than playing with his Lego City sets, sometimes it’s just too much work to get them ready for play and then cleaned up. His Plan City toys are perfect for getting a little town up and running quickly. The toys are simple, colorful and wooden. The best part is laying out the road pieces which connect like Brio train tracks. Best of all, they snap into the Brio train system so you can have roads cross tracks! Peabody highly recommends Plan City.

Out of this World

I almost missed a flight this morning because I stopped too long at an exhibit of space-themed toys from the 1930s to 1980s showing in SFO’s Terminal 3. There are dozens of robots, rockets, laser pistols and astronauts. It’s on view through March 14.

Uncovering Old Games

On a visit to my mom’s over Christmas, I found some of my old games hidden under a blanket in the basement. I thought she had thrown out these books for the classic version of Traveller, a sci-fi RPG. We also found a copy of The Farming Game, an agricultural hybrid of Life and Monopoly, and played a round. Its a lot of fun and is still in print. Read about it here.

S Novym Godom 2009!

Happy New Year from the Derringdos! This photo is from the ice rink put up by Gum (pronounced goom) on Red Square. When Annabel visited Mosow in 1985, Gum had empty shelves made of wooden crates. Today it’s packed with designer fashions and a huge gelato stand. Here are a few pictures of Red Square from my short visit in December.