Archive for July, 2010

Blueberry Picking

picture of a child picking blueberriesWe went blueberry picking last weekend. Blueberries are early this year because of the heat. So we took advantage of the one nice thing about all this heat and picked a bunch of blueberries.

We had 3 buckets for the 5 of us. Yes, even Gamma picked berries. Some off the bushes, some off the ground…

picture of two children picking blueberries in the rainIt was raining when we started, but it tapered off before we were halfway through. The nice part about that was that the blueberries were then already rinsed when we picked them. But my wife rinsed them in the sink once we got home anyway. No, not actually in the sink…in the colander which was in the sink.

picture of a big container of blueberriesWe wound up with 9.5 lbs. of blueberries. And the total came to $14.06. It was really more like 10 lbs. of blueberries, because there was at least half a pound in the boys’ tummies by the time we checked out.

Let’s see… $14.06 / 9.5 = $1.48 per pound. That seems to be on the better side of the average U-pick price for blueberries.

picture of a blueberry bushThe only downside is that’s too many blueberries to eat at once. Well, we could try that, but the baby’s still in diapers and I do not want to deal with that. So we froze a few pounds of blueberries and we’ll enjoy them in the fall and winter.

Next up: raspberries! Should be ready for picking in a week or so.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.

Matthew 12:1

Devil’s Lake Photo

I know that yesterday’s entry promised to be the last about our trip to Wisconsin Dells and Chicago. Don’t worry, this one is about photography. The subject of the photograph just happens to be a lake from our travels.

Some of you may recall that we took a trip to Devil’s Lake while we were in the Wisconsin Dells area.

My little point-and-shoot camera didn’t have a wide enough lens to capture the whole lake, so I took a few photos from different angles to get the whole scene.

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

Here are the individual photos:
picture of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin
picture of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin
picture of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin
picture of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin
picture of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin

And is how they look all together:

panorama photo of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin

But I didn’t take the photos from precisely the same location. So for the panoramic photo, I had to manually align them:

panorama photo of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin

It seems that the panoramic result is a bit skewed. The treeline looks correct but the shoreline wasn’t that curved. So I arranged the photos to match the actual view:

panorama photo of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin

That panorama now distorts the background (treeline) and foreground (shoreline) equally. So maybe that’s the best compromise for now. Here is the final result, with spiffy finishing touches:

panorama photo of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin

Then, after I did all that work, I learned about AutoStitch. AutoStitch is a program that will create a panorama for you.

Many photos -> Autostitch -> one big photo.

Here is the output of AutoStitch:

panorama photo of Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin

AutoStitch doesn’t do much, but it does it well, quickly, easily, and cheaply (it’s free). And my favorite part is that it doesn’t need to install anything. You download the .zip file which contains an .exe. Run the .exe, select the few input files, and it generates an output file and soon as you click ‘Open’ on your input files.

From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim).

Joshua 15:9

May Break – Day 6

Continuation of a previous post

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

Day 6 was the last day of our vacation. Because of the awful drive between Schaumberg and Chicago, I was glad that Chicago was on the way home from Schaumberg. That way, we could check out of the hotel, drive to Chicago, and not have to drive back.


picture of the outside of Shedd Aquarium next to Lake MichiganThe only item on our agenda for day 6 was the Shedd Aquarium. Last time, a couple years ago, we arrived at the aquarium via the train (South Shore Line). This time, driving, I noticed that it is a lot more scenic. We parked in a somewhat close lot and walked along Lake Michigan to get to the aquarium. It was scenic but very hot. It was the hottest day of the vacation, and we were glad to be spending it inside. I voted that we stay at the penguin exhibit, but we didn’t get there until later.

picture of children looking at a tank in Shedd Aquariumpicture of children looking at a tank in Shedd Aquarium

The kids enjoyed the aquarium, although Gamma never got to see exactly what he wanted to see.

We brought a lunch/snack and ate that at the main round tank in the center of building. We were going to see one of the shows, but the early ones were sold out and we didn’t want to be there too late. So we skipped the show.

After the aquarium, we enjoyed the scenic views once more:

photo of Shedd Aquarium in the foreground and the Chicago skyline in the background

photo of the Chicago skyline

Then we put the kids in my parents’ van and drove an hour or two to a restaurant for dinner. We always seem to stop at Bob Evans after vacations. We did that after coming home from Boise and we did that now after Chicago too. But they do have great prices on their kid’s meals. After dinner, we took the kids back into our van and we drove home.


Don’t pay full price for anything in a touristy area.

Except for Shedd Aquarium – they didn’t offer any discounts. Everything else did: Lego store (some % off with coupon), Museum of Science and Industry (buy adult pass get kid pass free), Wisconsin Duck Tour (kids free also), etc. But you must get the tourist pamphlets/maps and find the coupons.

It’s kind of like higher education – the prices are so inflated because there are so many subsidies. Everyone gets some sort of grant or scholarship, so the listed price is not indicative of the actual cost. If you find yourself in a touristy area and are wondering why the prices are so high: that should be your clue to look around for a coupon or some discount.

I give Wisconsin Dells 5 stars and Chicago 4 stars. Hey Chicago – if you want to improve your ratings, then get rid of your traffic jams and reduce your prices.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind;

Matthew 13:47

More Internet Browsing

I left out a number of web browsers in yesterday’s post.

To make up for that, I am displaying some of their logos here. Your job for today’s post is to find the best web bowser logo.

various internet browser logos, including Bowser

No, I did not misspell “browser”. If you don’t know who Bowser is, then you probably didn’t appreciate today’s post.

Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?Or press down his tongue with a cord?

Job 41:1

Internet Browsing

In my hobby of conjugating non-verbs, I came across the word “browser”. I thought it would be a fun example because I could use various internet browser logos.

So here is my submission for the various forms of the word “browse”: browse, browser, and browsest.

chart of internet browsers going from browse to browser to browsest

I know, “browsest” isn’t a word, and that’s not how words are conjugated anyway. And there was no ranking criteria either. I would have liked to use the Safari logo, but there were only three forms of the word, so I had to limit it to three browsers. For the internetally-challenged: the logos are Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

Should he argue with useless talk,Or with words which are not profitable?

Job 15:3

May Break – Day 5

Continuation of a previous post

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


Day 5 began with breakfast in the hotel lobby. My parents took the kids down to breakfast so that my wife and I could sleep longer, which was very nice. Beta stayed in my parents’ room overnight, but Alpha was in our room. Since the rooms were adjoining and since we had to get the baby up and give him to them, we couldn’t really sleep. So we joined them all in the breakfast room.

After breakfast, we were trying to finalize the day’s plans. I showed Alpha and Beta the tourist-brochure stand, with about a hundred different pamphlets about things to do in the area. They both wanted almost all of them, so I had to set a limit on how many they could take. But that kept them occupied in the car.


picture of the airplanes inside the Chicago Museum of Science and IndustryOur first, and main, stop for the day was the Museum of Science and Industry. The drive into Chicago from Schaumburg took a bit, maybe an hour or so. Construction was bad in some spots, but it was alright. We drove right to the museum and parked in their underground lot.

The museum is large. I was impressed by the size of the areas, since they have whole airplanes suspended from their ceiling. That was in the industry section.

picture of the airplanes inside the Chicago Museum of Science and IndustryThe science section was equally large. They had a tornado generator that took up most of the height of the room. And they had a Van de Graaf generator to produce huge sparks of lightning. That was suspended way up high, probably so that no one gets electrocuted. It was very noisy, to the point of hurting my ears (which isn’t too hard to do, despite my children’s attempts to deafen me).

picture of the U-505 inside the Chicago Museum of Science and IndustryAnd just when I thought the industry and science rooms were large, we visited the U-505 exhibit. A whole submarine was in that room. They had the sub and a bunch of exhibits about WW-II in general, the US effort to capture a German sub, and various aspects about submarine life. The U-505 alone was worth the price of admission. I think the museum knows that, because they charge extra for it.

One of the interesting exhibits was the life-size model of the sub’s kitchen. At first, I thought it was a scale model of the kitchen. But no, it was really that small.


After paying for the parking at the museum and leaving, we drove to the park a couple miles away and parked in the underground garage. Paying for parking seems to be one of the necessary evils of being in Chicago.

It was a hot and foggy day:
picture of the fog above the river walk park in downtown Chicago

picture of the mirrored jellybean sculpture in downtown ChicagoWe wandered around for a little while, going along a nice little riverwalk/scenic gardens. We went past the amphitheater thingy and found the silver/mirrored giant jellybean. The kids liked looking at that for about two minutes, then they wandered aimlessly while we adults took pictures and stuff. We headed over to the picture fountains, which the kids liked much more than the jellybean, probably because it changed and it involved water. But we were not prepared to let the kids get wet, so we moved on to try to find Buckingham Fountain because it was supposed to be scenic.

We never did make it to the fountain. We went a block or so, then decided that it was too hot and too late in the day and we should just go to dinner. So we payed for parking and left Chicago to go to dinner in Schaumburg.

It took slightly over two hours to drive the 38 miles. Thankfully, most everyone (except for me and Alpha) took a nap on the drive. I say thankfully because that meant the kids weren’t fussing because it took so long. I was not thankful that I didn’t get to take a nap. It wouldn’t have been too bad except for construction on I-290.

Dinner at Rainforest Cafe was a relaxing way to end the day because there were plenty of things to occupy the kids while we waited for our food. Then we had a short drive back to the hotel for bed.

Stay tuned for Day 6, the dramatic finale of our May Break trip recap.

Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters;

Psalm 107:23

Family Conversations, Part 11

Here are some things said in conversation with Beta recently:

Compound Words

Beta: Toothbrushes make good scratchbackers!

It is fun when kids transpose the parts of compound words. The other one that I have heard is “rollersteam“.

And if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I have to go hide my toothbrush.

Half a Conversation

And now we’ve come to the part of the show where I write only one side of the conversation and you must imagine the other side of the conversation as well as the circumstances:

Me: He’s done. Let him go, please.
Me: No, we are NOT going to play baby tug-of-war. Just let go!

Beta likes to hug Gamma more than Gamma likes to be hugged. I sensed that Gamma was getting frustrated and I tried to rescue him. I forget exactly what Beta said, but he did use the phrase “baby tug-of-war“.

TV Shows

Beta: “Why did God make kids’ shows only during the day and not at night?”

Don’t you just love Beta’s child-like faith? God is in control of everything.

My wife answered that people chose the shows’ times – a little appetizer for the youngster on the free-will/sovereignty discussion perhaps. How much freedom does God give man? Does man really get to choose things in this life? Maybe these people just think that they picked the show times. What about unbelievers who disobey God – does that mean they are thwarting God’s plans? Such heavy topics for a 4-year-old…

My answer would have been “Because God knows that kids should be in bed at night and should not be watching TV.” But that’s with the luxury of hindsight – I don’t know that I would have come up with that one on the spot.

The king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.”

1 Kings 3:25