Up North, Part 1

We interrupt the saga of our trip to Wisconsin/Chicago for the saga of our trip up north.

Click on a picture for a larger version.

picture of a pine lakefront cabinFor the 4th of July extended weekend, we travelled a few hours north to a cabin. A friend of ours invited us, and a few other people, to the family lakefront property. It is surrounded by a national forest, so there was no cell phone reception for me, nor was there any internet. And, although it had electricity and plumbing, it did not have air conditioning. No air, and it was in the 90s on the days we were there. And we slept in the upstairs bedrooms – where all the heat went when it rose.

We saw a few things while we were at the cabin:

a bald eagle, drifting through the sky (because he was on vacation too):
picture of a bald eagle flying

a sunset, over the lake (as they are meant to be):
picture of a sunset over a lake

and a squirrel, in the cabin (as they are not meant to be):
picture of a squirrel on the ceiling of a cabin

For those of you concerned for the squirrel’s welfare, considering that he is perched above an operating ceiling fan in this photo: you’re too late. No, the fan didn’t get him – something else did. I don’t know what exactly did him in, but he is taxidermied and that is his permanent pose on the ceiling of the cabin.

There’s also an owl perched on a rafter, several deer on the walls, a wolverine on a platform, and a jackelope on the wall. My main regret about the weekend is that I forgot to get a picture of the jackelope.

Then He cried out to me and spoke to me saying, “See, those who are going to the land of the north have appeased My wrath in the land of the north.”

Zechariah 6:8

5-D Movies

As I mentioned in the post about visiting the Lego store, we saw a 4-D movie.

Needing to attract tourists to visit, the Lego store had to do better than just a 3-D movie. Everyone has those nowadays. To stand above the crowd, you need to have more D than the other places. So the Lego store advertised their 4-D movie.

Being ignorant in the ways of movie technology, I (and the rest of the family) did not know what made the extra D until after we sat through the movie. It was, as you know if you read last week’s post, falling snow.

That got me thinking what the Ds actually are. I know it stands for Dimension, but what are the dimensions?

  • A normal movie is considered 2-D, because the screen has width and height.
  • A 3-D movie adds depth to the visual aspect.

So far all the Ds are limited to the sense of sight.

  • A 4-D movie adds the sense of touch – falling snow, misting water, blowing wind, etc.

But if one of the five senses counts as a dimension, why hasn’t anyone counted sound? Back when movies went from silent to talkies, they should have marketed that as 3-D, right?

And then stereo sound should count as 2-D by itself. Add that 2-D to the visual 2-D and you should get 4-D.

  • So what people today are calling 3-D movies are really 5-D.
  • And the 4-D movies are 6-D.
  • Add in another sense, like smell, and we’re up to 7-D movies.

So we’ve covered sight, hearing, touch, and smell.

  • All that’s left is taste. If someone can figure that out, we get 8-D movies.
  • But we have two nostrils, so in theory we should be able to get stereo smells. And that would take us to 9-D movies.

But wait! Sound isn’t just 2-D. That stereo stuff is old news (AKA olds). Kids these days have 3-D sound, which is best experienced with headphones. Hey, the theater gives you 3-D glasses, why not 3-D headphones?

  • So upping the sound from 2-D to 3-D brings the total to 10-D.
  • And, again in theory, if two eyes can observe 3-D sights and two ears can hear 3-D sounds, why can’t two nostrils smell 3-D scents? Woohoo! 11-D!

I am trying to think what a 3-D smell would smell like, but I am having a brainblock on that one. Maybe it’s the holiday weekend. If anyone figures that out, let me know please.

So, for you advertisers and marketers out there who are trying to promote your tourist attraction: your theoretical maximum for a movie is 11-D. I expect some race between competitors to get there.

Or maybe the razors will reach 11 blades first.

for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.

Luke 10:24

Berry Good Present

This is a little late, but it doesn’t really matter.

picture of some gourmet chocolate-covered strawberriesFor my birthday, my wife bought me a box of chocolate-covered strawberries. Not just any chocolate-covered strawberries, but the gourmet kind.

What makes them gourmet?

The price.

And they were very good.

There were a variety of flavors.
And the berries were wee not-so-wee huge:
picture of the contents of a box of gourmet chocolate-covered strawberries

That metal object on the right is a quarter. A regulation-size US 25-cent piece.

And I liked their packaging. They were humorous without going overboard.

There was one subtle part:
picture of the disclaimer on the shipping box for gourmet strawberries

And one not-as-subtle part:
picture of the instructions on the shipping box for gourmet strawberries


(There seems to be a downside to just about everything)

picture of some gourmet chocolate-covered strawberriesYou have to eat the strawberries by the end of the second day, otherwise they go bad. It’s not like a regular box of chocolates, where you can eat a couple a day and enjoy them all week. By the third day the strawberries were starting to be not so good anymore. They weren’t moldy or rotten (we left them in the fridge). I thought they were starting to ferment. My wife said they tasted “zippy”, which I thought was an accurate description.

My experience is that strawberries need to breathe. If we store strawberries in a sealed container in the fridge, they go bad a lot quicker (such as overnight) than if their container has some air holes. There seems to be a balance, because leaving them completely uncovered lets them dry out too much.

Other people have other ideas about how to store strawberries. They seem to involve not breathing but draining. Either set the strawberries in a strainer/colander so that they aren’t resting in their juices or store them on paper towels so the juices get absorbed.

Either way, I think chocolate is not the optimum coating for preserving strawberries. It neither breathes not drains. So the strawberries don’t last so long.

In conclusion, if the only problem is that you have to eat them fast, that’s not a bad problem to have.

Oh, and the reason my wife bought them is because she had a coupon for $10 off, and she also got free shipping. They were still expensive, but not ridiculously expensive.

Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs.

Numbers 13:23

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