Cutthroat Chopped!

The boys have been watching a lot of Food Network lately, such that #3 named himself Ted Brown and decided to host a combo of Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped for dinner tonight.

Ted Brown got 62 dollars of play money out of his Allowance board game, and divided it equally between the contestants.

The theme was “Elevated Sandwich”. The contestants both faced a basket containing blueberry bagels, cream cheese, turkey lunchmeat, and leftover cous cous (full of dried fruits and nuts).

Mom got quickly to work on mixing cream cheese into the cous cous and forming patties that she started frying in the nonstick pan (which she was quick to grab before Dad had a chance!), and popped a bagel in toaster oven.

Dad assembled turkey, cream cheese, and jelly sandwiches on inside out bagels (except for one bagel half was not inside out), cracked an egg, dipped the sandwiches in and started frying his inside-out french-toasted Monte Cristo.

Auction one was to have to incorporate bagged iceberg salad. Dad figured he had no clue what to do with the cous cous and could make a combined salad with the lettuce so he didn’t bid it up too high.

Auction two was to do no cooking at all for 5 minutes. Dad let himself lose this one too because he was able to flip his sandwiches and put the pan on low, so they could survive for 5 minutes.

During the 5 minutes, Mom added some turkey to her pan to heat up, and then added turkey and cheese to her bagel halves in the toaster oven.

After the timeout was over, Dad made a bed of lettuce, and topped it with cous cous mixed with the fresh-chopped apple and balsamic vinaigrette; also he made a small bowl of dipping sauce with strawberry jelly and a touch of Log Cabin (to play off the French Toast theme). Unfortunately, due to cooking, the bagels were tough, and the cream cheese was slippery, so quartering the Monte Cristos was a massacre.

Mom plated her bagels as open-faced turkey melts with the cous-cous patties on top.

Since #3 was the host, #1 and #2 were the judges. As all the food was delicious, it was a tough decision. The sweet blueberry bagel was not the best for pairing with its savory toppings, but otherwise the patty was very good. The butchered Monte Cristo was seriously docked for presentation, and some judges found the whole thing too sweet. Also, the cous-cous salad was overdressed. It was for those reasons that Dad was Chopped, and Mom walked away with a $21 prize!

H&S: Paedocommunion

All right, Hoagers & Stogers, the Paedocommunion debate is now in the can. I’ve got a lot of requests already for the audio, and I appreciate that there’s a lot of interest in this topic, and I also appreciate all the hard work our speakers Glen Gundert and Josh Brisby put into their presentations.

So here are the links to the audio:

Note that with our special afternoon time slot, we were feeling especially loose with the timing of each speakers’ sections; I hope you enjoy all the extra discussion that resulted! (And I apologize for all the chatter between segments; I had an audio editing failure, and decided to just post these as-is rather than spend time trying again)

Mark your calendars now for the next H&S; Sat Apr 14, we are very privileged to host prominent Reformed author T. David Gordon, who will be speaking to us about his book Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal. (Also, if you’re interested, you can hear him on Friday night Apr 13, at this venue.)

And as always, please help our gratitude to Hess Brewing for continuing to provide excellent beer. As I always say, you can’t spell H&S without Hess! (Or is it the other way around, I forget…) In addition to regular tasting room hours (watch and their Facebook page), the next F.A.C. is Feb 17.

June Recital

Here are 2 pieces played by #2: Promenade, Spanish Caballero.

Here is 1 piece played by #1: Bach C Minor Prelude BWV 999.

#1 on top plus #2 on the bottom = an adorable 4-handed duet!

Mario Kart Wii Choosinator!

Hey there, race fans! As you all know (or at least should know), Mario Kart Wii is the most awesomest video game ever made. One of the difficulties, however, of trying to shave a few thousandths of a second off of your time trial, or of trying to beat your 10-year-old son, is knowing what is the best kart (or bike) to use (for your particular driving style, and the peculiarities of the course you want to run)? Indeed, which character to drive it, as each gives a subtle boost to some of the vehicle’s innate characteristics, in their own character-specific way.

To try to take some of the black magic out of the kart/character-choosing process, I created a spreadsheet. For the raw data, I am indebted to some other Nintendophile who goes by the handle of ‘ark42’, and who painstakingly gathered these tables. (I can only imagine that he grabbed screenshots like this one of all possible character/vehicle combinations, and measured the pixels in every yellow bar!)

As great as that resource is, I wanted more. So I perled up a spreadsheet that computes the character-boosted stats for each character/vehicle combination, and put some weighting in there to compute a single final SCORE. This way, a player can enter weights that reflect how relatively important he thinks various characteristics are, the SCOREs will recompute, and all of the data can be re-sorted to find out what are the recommended options.

I made a version of the spreadsheet available as a public Google Doc. Click on this link to view it, go to menu item File/Make a copy… and you can have your own copy of the spreadsheet that you can type weightings into. The Google Doc is set up to automatically re-sort whenever the weights are changed. It’s a nice idea, but VERY slow. (Also, there seems to be a bug with Google Spreadsheet at the moment, that when you click on a cell, it actually selects the adjacent cell. You should be able to navigate correctly with arrow keys though)

Another option (and probably preferable given the slowness of the Google doc autosorting), is you could File/Download As… Excel (or OpenOffice), and tweak it for yourself.

So the first lesson is, it takes a LOT of weight on Speed to get the Quacker out of the top spot (I leave the spreadsheet in its “neutral”, equally-weighted state). You should play around with the weights until you start to see vehicles you know to be good come near the top. Maybe for fun, you could try to figure out what weights are necessary to get your favorite combination at the actual top of the list. But when you figure out how hard that is, maybe you can take a look at some of the other options that keep turning up ahead of your preferred combination, and give it a try.

Paul McCartney, Watch Your Back!

I present, for your enjoyment, a brand new song composed by #3. Not only are the music and the lyrics original, so is the spelling!

This is what it sounds like, and this is what it looks like:

#2 is #1!

Well, SoCal Pinewood Derby has come and gone. #2’s car took 1st place in Group A (1st/2nd grade)!

As promised, here is a picture of all of our cars (click to enlarge).

#2’s car is there again in the middle. #1’s car — the gold bullion on the right — which took 1st in our club derby, wasn’t up to the stiffer competition in Group C (5th/6th). He was one of the last cars that got eliminated on the way down to the final 4, so he was probably 8th or so, out of probably more than 50 in this largest group. My car is the oiled-wood one on the left. Although I was fastest overall in our club meet, I placed only 3rd in the counselor class, behind a winner from another club, and one of my own junior counselors (the #1 son of Blogorrhea’s good friend Kazooless — but I taught him everything he knows, so that’s OK!)

Speaking of, these amazing photos were taken by Kazooless with this technique — any serious photographer will want to try it out! You can reach two slideshows of Kazooless’ pictures from the derby, as well as links for downloading full-res originals, from the Council webpage.

#1 is #1!

High drama at Pinewood Derby last night!

First off, in the Turkey finals, we had to have a race-off between two cadets who had always won (slowest) in each of their heats, except heats in which they were together, which they split 1-1. So we put those two down the middle two tracks, and one car was clearly slower (Turkier). Then we swapped lanes, and the other car was clearly slower (not all lanes of our track drive the same) — BUT, so much slower that this time he didn’t make it to the finish line, thus making that run a DQ and deciding the winner.

Even better though were the speed finals. We winnowed down from our sweet-16 directly to a final-4. There was a clear points-leader (1st place in all his sweet-16 heats), and a tie for 2nd (including our #1), and a 4th. The final-4 consisted of four heats, rotating the cadets through the four lanes of our track (note lane differences above!), and here’s the heat-by-heat:

Heat 1, points-leader first, #1 second.

Heat 2, points-leader first, #1 second. It looks like the points-totals from earlier rounds are bearing out, and #1 is headed for a 2nd place trophy, until…

Heat 3, #1 first, points-leader second!

Coming into the final heat, if points-leader gets first again, he wins. If points-leader gets second again, it’s a 2-way race-off. But what actually happened was:

Heat 4, points-leader derails for fourth! #1 gets first and snatches the trophy!

(#1’s victory was not much tarnished by his decisive loss in the exhibition race-off between fastest cadet car and fastest counselor car)

#2 made a pretty fast car too, he was just out of the finals, tied for 5th in the sweet-16. We’re hoping for a trophy in the all-council derby, where he will be competing only against 1st/2nd graders. That’s coming up Sat Mar 26, 12-4, hosted at our church. If you’re in San Diego, come on out, have lunch at our snack bar, and enjoy the races — it’ll be a blast!

(I’ll post pictures of our awesome cars after the 26th…)

It’s Like the Gospel

Last Friday, I lost my wedding ring (as well as a watch I’ve been very fond of since T-bird gave it to me before we were married), at the park where I play ultimate (frisbee). Instead of showering and changing afterwards, I worked sweaty for a little bit before picking up the boys from school, and heading home. Through the weekend, as I couldn’t find my ring in any of the usual or potential places, I began to worry. On Monday, I called the security office at work, and nobody had turned it in.The community center at the park was closed (President’s Day), but I went to the park, searched my path, and posted some signs. Tuesday, the community center was open, but the office was empty.  I saw a bulletin board in the office with other Lost&Found notices, but nothing about my ring.

By Wednesday, I had given up hope. I had used Google Maps Street View to find the jeweler who had made the ring (based on my memory of its proximity to Edinburgh Castle, from T’s & my vacation Easter 2000), gotten from there to the jeweler’s website, and resigned myself to paying around £500-1000 for a perfect replacement. Wednesday I didn’t even try to call the park, because I was busy, and I had given up.

Continue reading

Dare to be a Nathan

Last Sunday, I came into possession of a note with the distinctively good penmanship of my #1. Upon opening it, I found a clever little poem that ended with a sentiment something like “…you are sick in bed/the world would be better without your big fat head”.

Turns out he had written that note for a girl in his Sunday School class (actually, one of Pooka‘s daughters). Strangely, this was a mere hour after an excellent sermon from visiting preacher John Fesko on Psalm 41, in particular verse 5:

My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”

So when we are home for lunch on Sunday afternoons, we try to remember to take some time to go over the boys’ copywork or notes. #3 read his verse, #2 read his verses, and then it was #1’s turn to review his notes. He demonstrated a solid understanding of the sermon, especially when I asked him at the end, “What about this verse 5, where he is on his sickbed and his enemies are wishing he would just die?” He responded, “if those were my enemies and they were wishing I was dead, I would probably just despair and die.”

And so the timing is perfect to spring the trap, 2 Sam 12-style. “Why don’t you tell us about this note?” I pulled it out of my shirt pocket and handed it over. With just a glance at it, he turned ashen, “Where did you get this?”

And so we dealt with it, including reinforcing Fesko’s great point that we tend to want to read ourselves into passages like Psalm 41 as the beleaguered victims, those who deserve to be upheld because of our integrity (Ps 41:12), but it is more appropriate to cast ourselves as the enemies, those who betray Christ like Judas (see John 13:18 for the fulfillment of Ps 41:9).

Light the Night

So the event we’ve been training for all fall has finally come and gone. All of our bodies traveled a distance of 5k (3.12 miles); can you guess who was not transported under his own power?