Archive for June, 2010

May Break – Day 4 B

Continuation of a previous post

Note: Most pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.


We left the Dells just after 11:00 local time, which was noon Chicago time. I started driving, and people started dozing off. Except Alpha. He and I stayed awake. I had a supply of snacks to help keep me awake. I needed it, too. To avoid the toll roads, we took the scenic back roads. Wisconsin was all freeway; the toll roads started just after crossing into Illinois.

From Rockton to Schaumburg, we were on 2-lane highways. We went through a few small towns, some stoplights, and lots of farmland.

My view was mostly this:
picture of the drive through rural Illinois

Or this:
picture of the drive through rural Illinois

I think we took Rockton Rd to Co. Rd 8. Then in Harvard we took US-14 South and stayed on that through Woodstock and Crystal Lake. Then the GPS told us to take the S. Virginia Rd bypass down to 31 and take that to Algonquin. In Algonquin, we turned onto Algonquin Rd (AKA US-62). We took that for a while, going through the Barrington area (right by Willow Creek church). Shortly after that we turned onto N. Roselle Rd and took that south to Schaumburg and to our hotel.

It added about 20-30 minutes of drive time, but we save a few dollars and much exasperation by avoiding the toll booths.


We were staying in Schaumburg instead of downtown Chicago because Chicago is ridiculously expensive. We knew we wanted to stay in a suburb of Chicago, and we knew we wanted to visit a Lego store while we were in Chicago. Which place fits both criteria? Schaumburg does.

We arrived at the hotel and my parents were already there, waiting for us. They had checked in, so we unloaded our van while the boys ran around wildly and tried to tell Nana everything about Wisconsin in about 30 seconds.

After a brief discussion of the day’s plans (summary: go to the Lego store, go to dinner, go to bed) we all piled in our minivan and headed to the Lego store.

Legoland Discovery Center/Centre

picture of the giraffe outside the Schaumburg Legloand Discovery CenterI had thought that the Lego store was a store that sold Legos, so I was surprised when my wife told me how much admission was. It turns out that it is not just a Lego store – it is a Legoland Discovery Center (that happens to have a store too). It think the total was $80-some for the 7 of us, and that was after the coupon and discounts.

picture of the man inside the Schaumburg Legloand Discovery CenterThere was a life-size giraffe outside the front entrance, and then in the foyer area there was a life-size old man sitting on a bench. Then there’s a larger-than-life face of Einstein after the foyer area. Then we started the tour. It’s not a guided tour – you just walk around the place and look at the hundreds of creations made out of Lego. It was fascinating and inspiring, and Alpha and Beta had the biggest grins on their faces so it was worth it.

There was a jungle area:
picture of the monkeys in the Schaumburg Legoland Discovery Center

And a Star Wars area:
picture of R2-D2 in the Schaumburg Legoland Discovery Center

But before all that, as soon as you start the tour, is the scale version of the city of Chicago:
picture of the scale city of Chicago in the Schaumburg Legoland Discovery Center

And if you look very closely at the top of the Sears tower (which stands about 6 feet high), you can see that either Batman got the wrong Gotham City or Darth Vader got the wrong galaxy:
picture of Batman on the Sears Tower in the Schaumburg Legoland Discovery Center

I couldn’t zoom in close enough to see exactly who that masked man was.

picture of the playland inside the Schaumburg Legloand Discovery CenterAfter a while of looking at everything that the official Lego people made, we found the play area. There was a ride, a 4-D movie (falling snow was the extra dimension), and tubs and tubs of Lego bricks. Kids could play and build to their hearts’ content. The place even had a couple of long ramps so that you could test your vehicles (assumed to be racecars).

After finishing that, we continued on the tour. It turns out that the next stop on the tour was the last: the store. Of course, with the kids having been exposed to Lego stuff for the last hour or two, they wanted to buy most everything in the store. Except Gamma – he didn’t want to buy anything. But he did want to take the boxes off the shelves, shake them, then throw them on the floor.

We escaped having bought only two small sets.

Then we went to dinner, back to the hotel, and to bed. Alpha and Beta were going to stay in my parents’ room. Kind of like a sleepover, except we had adjoining rooms so it wasn’t that far.

Then there was evening and morning. And Day 5 will be covered in another blog post, coming soon.

A wise man scales the city of the mightyAnd brings down the stronghold in which they trust.

Proverbs 21:22

Monopoly Campaign

I don’t know how sales of Monopoly are going. But if the Parker Brothers have some excess inventory that they need to move, I have an idea.

Even if they don’t need to sell more games, I still have an idea.

Make some games with real money instead of Monopoly money.

Kind of like the Golden Tickets of Willy Wonka fame. Just advertise that 10 random Monopoly games contain actual currency and see how well they sell.

Last I checked, Monopoly is sold with $15,140 of Monopoly money. I picked the count of 10 games because that would be $151,400 – close enough to the cost of producing and airing a TV commercial so it should fit in an advertising budget.

Better yet, plan the viral route: don’t advertise that those sets are being sold. Just make a few and send them to stores like any other game. Chances are good that some local TV news station will report that someone bought a Monopoly set filled with real money

reporter voice: “Too good to be true? Find out what happened to one lucky family when they went shopping! That story and more on your local news at 10.”

Once the story breaks, wait for it to gain coverage and wait for a news reporter to contact you. Then you can release a statement that you had been planning an advertising campaign with Monopoly games that contained US dollars instead of play currency [insert own joke about the federal reserve, bonus for mentioning gold or silver], but a few of the games got shipped before the ad materials were released.

That should start a buying spree.

Of course, the problem with planning a viral campaign is that some people might see through it – “you mean to tell me that their quality control is so poor that they don’t know what boxes were shipped?“.

And since Monopoly has been producing new games with a credit card instead of piles of cash, this might not work so well anymore (“Some games contain a real debit card” doesn’t have the same ring as “Some games contain a pile of real cash”). But if they have a stash of paper money-based games that they want to clear out, this idea would work well for that.

This could also apply to the game of Life, but that has way too much money. Monopoly has tens of thousands of dollars per game; Life has millions of dollars per game. It wouldn’t be worth it, even if it was only one game. Unless they didn’t mind losing money on an ad campaign…

They were glad and agreed to give him money

Luke 22:5

Corny Beef

The Cheezburger Network combines the best and worst of the internet: it’s amusing and clever but it’s a waste of time. Okay, maybe there are worse things than just wasting time.

The CN sites follow the same formula: take a photo and add a caption to make it funny. It can get old quickly. And the CN can contain material that is inappropriate for children.

Or inappropriate for anyone.

But they do have one site, So Much Pun, that is slightly different from the others. I may or may not submit the following picture to them. You may see it on there eventually, but you will have seen it here first.

image of kerned beef pun

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the technical details of typography and therefore do not quite get the pun, you might want to learn more about kerning.

Kerned beef is beef that had its letter spacing optimized.

And those of you who are not familiar with corned beef might as well just forget you even saw this post.

And he wrote a letter having this form:

Acts 23:25

Random Photos, June 2010

Here are three recent photos of life around here:

Lego Bed

pictures of many Legos on a bad

In our house, the phrase “make your bed” usually means “move the Legos off the bed” rather than “straighten the sheets and pillows”. In fact, that has become part of the bedtime ritual – change into pajamas, brush teeth, put away Legos, read a story, and say prayers. Beta probably likes to have his Legos on his bed because his is the top bunk, so no one bothers anything up there.

Driver’s Ed

pictures of two boys in a toy truck

Beta’s cousins have one of them fancy battery-powered toy trucks. And Beta loves to drive that whenever he’s over there. Now Gamma is old enough to ride in it. They shared a ride last weekend, and I just really like this photo.

Blokus Art

pictures of a pattern made with Blokus

My wife and I like playing games. I want the kids to like games too, so I try to play whatever board games we have that might be appropriate. Blokus is fun, and the kids get the concept, but they don’t have the sense of challenge in playing the game yet. Alpha and Beta will play (against each other or against me), but as soon as it is done, they eagerly take apart the board and proceed to make patterns or pictures with the pieces. Alpha liked this masterpiece; I liked that he made sure all 4 colors were symmetric.

See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.

Exodus 25:40

May Break – Day 4 A

Continuation of a previous post

Note: Most pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.


This was our last day in Wisconsin Dells. Check-out was 11:00, so we had to do everything we wanted by 11.

picture of the sign at Paul Bunyan's Cook ShantyWe started by going out to breakfast. Not just any place, but a touristy place: Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Meals. Paul Bunyan seems to be a popular tourist attraction all over the US.

picture of the statue at Paul Bunyan's Cook ShantyAnd anything with the name Paul Bunyan is required by zoning laws to have a giant statue out front. The blue ox is optional. This restaurant has its blue ox inside the building. If I remember correctly, it was just the head mounted on the wall. Apparently some hunters mistook it for game.

I really liked this place. Why?

  • First of all, you pay ahead of time. The cashier takes your money and then you get seated. They can do that because
  • there are no menus. It’s all-you-can-eat breakfast. They bring out doughnuts, eggs, ham, pancakes, potatoes, and sausage. That’s what you get, and that means
  • there is no waiting. The waiter (I should be calling him a server because, like I said, there was no waiting) just started bringing out food once we were seated. No orders to take, no problems with mixed up plates. It must be a nice place to be a server. And because there were no orders,
  • there is no bill. Since you paid up front, once you’re done you just get up and leave. You don’t have to wait for the guy to come around, bring you your bill, take the bill back, and bring you your change (or credit card back). This is especially helpful for families with children. Okaaaay. We’re all done… where is the bill? We are ready to leeeaaaave. None of that here.
  • And for the engineer in me: The price involves a formula. Kids are charged $0.75 per year of age. I appreciated the fact that Beta did not cost as much as Alpha, since Beta is smaller. I think Gamma was free.

picture of the food at Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty


After breakfast, we had an hour or two to play at the pool. My very organized wife had arranged the packing the night before, so the suitcases were all ready to be loaded in the van. All we had to do this morning was change into swimsuits, go swimming, and then change back into civilians clothes by 11:00.

The slides were fun, then Alpha wanted to ride the Hurricane again before we left.

Okay, I thought, we should have time to do that.

There were a lot more people today than any of the other days. That meant that there were a lot more people who wanted to ride the Hurricane today. We spent a lot of time in line. By the time we got out of the Hurricane the first time, it was 11:05.

Oh boy, we’re late.

Sorry, but we don’t have time to go a second time.” I told Alpha. We hurried over to our table, where I was glad to see that the rest of the family was not still waiting for us. That meant that they went back to the room and handled check-out so that we were not charged another day.

The hotel has a policy of unlocking the room doors and leaving the doors wide open at check-out time. My wife said that she got back to the room right at 11:00 and the door was open and all our stuff was available for the taking.

They don’t mess around there.

Everyone was frustrated for the next 15 minutes as we were trying to get everything out the door but things kept happening like kids’ losing their shoes and forgetting what they were supposed to be doing.

But we eventually made it out to the van and I think we did not leave anything behind. Then we drove to Chicago, but I’ll save that for the next blog post.


We learned a couple of things on this vacation to Wisconsin Dells.

  • picture of legs and a stroller as seen at the eye level of a young childAlways go through the camera after a young child has been handling it. Otherwise you end up with a lot of space occupied by odd photos. Mostly just whatever happens to be at his eye level. Of course, we knew this before, but this gives me a chance to actually use one of the photos, as evidence.
  • Do not let your toddler take anything out on the balcony. We were on the third floor, and I had to go rescue some socks that ended up on the ground, thanks to Gamma.
  • picture of a child with his head caught between railingsThe balcony railings are narrow enough to prevent most heads from squeezing between them. Gamma, on a couple of occasions, felt like demonstrating that he could fit his head between the rails. He could not so easily bring his head back out though. No permanent damage, and I think he learned his lesson.

Then the land will yield its produce, so that you can eat your fill and live securely on it.

Leviticus 25:19

At What Cost Izzo

I heard this morning that Michigan State is going to raise its tuition 5% next school year.

Normally I would have dismissed such an announcement, but I thought the timing was interesting.

Very interesting…

For those of you not near Lansing or Cleveland: Tom Izzo has been the coach of the MSU basketball team for a while, and he has attained success. He was considering jumping from college to NBA to take the job as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he finally decided to stay at MSU.

His announcement was earlier this week.

See the connection?

Izzo stays at MSU -> MSU has to raise tuition

Don’t tell me you don’t believe conspiracy theories…

It seems a little too coincidental to me. Do we know what MSU offered Izzo to stay at MSU? Do they maybe need a little extra cash for a “retention bonus”?

No, we don’t know.

But it is fun to speculate.

My take on the whole choice is this: going pro is for college students, not for college coaches.

Izzo’s probably better off staying at MSU.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know that MSU’s budget, set a year ago, had already proposed this increase. Consider this post tongue-in-cheek.

He who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness and honor.

Proverbs 21:21

Disclaimer Win

Alpha has found a series of books at the library, and he’s gone through a few of them now.

It’s called Heroes A2Z, and I am not really reviewing the books so don’t assume that I’m recommending them here.

But I do really like the disclaimer. All works of fiction are required to have a disclaimer that says they are fictional. It is a fairly standard disclaimer and so it is very familiar. And familiarity breeds apathy, so I’m guessing that most people just skip the disclaimers.

What caught my eye with the first book (Alien Ice Cream) is that it was dedicated to the Captain, Steve Yzerman, and the story is set in Traverse City. Wanting to know more about the book, its author, and its publisher, I read the fine print at the beginning of the book.

I was amused at the disclaimer, which reads somewhat like this: “This book is fiction. The people, places, and events depicted within are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead or to real life places is purely coincidence and, in all honesty, probably a little disturbing.”

I even took pictures of the disclaimers for books 2, 3, and 6. Click on the pictures for larger versions.

picture of the legal notices of the Heroes A2Z book

picture of the legal notices of the Heroes A2Z book

picture of the legal notices of the Heroes A2Z book

After taking the pictures, I noticed that I am forbidden from repeating that disclaimer to you. “No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part …”

Do you like the irony of the previous paragraph?

In theory, that means I couldn’t even post the title of the book. Also in theory, I couldn’t use the number 26. Because there is a page 26 in the Heroes A2Z book, and it has the characters “26” on that page.

So I must turn off the engineer part of my brain and the blogger part of my brain will assume fair use. There must be some reasonable interpretation of the ban on reproducing the contents of the book. Otherwise, I might be afraid to read the book aloud to my kids.

Are the copyright and other legal notices considered part of the copyrighted work?

Then I took the deeds of purchase, both the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions and the open copy;

Jeremiah 32:11