Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wrapping up the summer

Last summer, we went on several road trips to try to visit all of the National Parks, Monuments and Historical Sites in Arizona.  There are 20 and we only got to 14 of them plus some other places of beauty and interest along the way.  This summer, Lesa is up to her eyeballs in college classes so we didn't leave home too much but we still tried to do some fun stuff.  Lesa and Shaw are going to Utah next week for a few days to visit cousins and then school starts the week after that... where did it go?

Summer Festival in downtown Mesa.  The local police department flew in a helicopter for the kids to climb in.  
Several bouncy jumps on hand.   
As we were leaving, the officers fired up the aforementioned helicopter and flew off into the night to fight crime.  Shaw was completely buzzed about it and frankly, the 11-yr old boy in me geeked out too.
Finished off the night with some In-N-Out burgers. 
The last Gilbert Temple posting noted that we had just missed the installation of the traditional Moroni Statue on the top of the steeple- they did it the day after we visited.  We checked it out on this visit and it meets our approval.  The temple is visible on the skyline from all directions now and it is the beacon architecturally that is is spiritually. 
There is a missionary couple there during the week and on 2nd and 4th Sundays after church but we missed them and Shaw had to peer through the view obstructing fence. 
Lesa's brothers in Utah turned her on to s'mores with peeps instead of marshmallows. 
We have a little table top grill for grilling kabobs and well.. .and s'mores. 
I actually kinda like it.  The sugar on the outside of the peeps caramelizes and it seems to get hotter and melty without catching fire like marshmallows do.  It really melts the chocolate nicely.
Here's Lesa taking a turn.  I liked it.  I think I'm converted.
Shaw has been learning how to cook and getting comfortable in the kitchen.  He made some greasy tacos for dinner and they were deeeeeee-LISH!
Took a trip into the big city, the 5th largest city in the nation, Phoenix.  We rode the light rail from the 3rd biggest city in Arizona and the 37th largest in the nation, Mesa.  Notice Shaw doing what other commuters do- hunkering down with an ipod so he doesn't have to talk to any crazies.
We went to the Phoenix Police Museum.  Shaw donned a police uniform and hopped up on a 3-wheeled police motorcycle.
This was Phoenix's first law-enforcement helicopter back in the 1970's.  The museum docent that led us around was a retired police officer and had also served in the Viet Nam war flying one of these "mosquitoes".  He said they were quick and small and were used to create subterfuge and draw fire away from slower aircraft.  These were so small they were hard to hit with rocket-propelled grenades and even anti-aircraft machine guns.  Phoenix got a few after the Viet Nam war ended. 
An early 1980s police cruiser.
The docent was nice enough to take a pic of our family. Shaw's eyes are so fast, when he sees the light coming from the flash, he closes his eyes that quick! He's amazing... 
This was the first "jail" in the Arizona Territory in about 1870 if I remember right.  It was just a big rock with a spike drilled into it and some shackles.  A blacksmith would actually hammer a rivet into the wrist rings to secure the prisoner until a Marshall could arrive sometimes several days later.  I hope it was under a tree at least.  I have every reason to believe the museum- this is not a replica, this is actually the original "jail rock" for Phoenix.  
Arizona was the last state on the continent to join the union.  Alaska and Hawaii were the only other two that joined later.  For several decades, criminals would try to hide out in the Arizona Territory from their crimes committed in other states.  Tid-bit-o-trivia... Fort Whipple was the territorial capitol at the time.  Lawmen were recruited to come here and were offered $55 per month and they were required to rent a gun from the Territory for $25 per month.  They had to have their own horse, knife, and a pistol. 
I'm a lover of architecture and tall buildings and the pulse of big cities. 
Lunch at Burger King downtown.  New haircut for me.  I've had medium to long hair ever since I was 13 or so. 
More buildings on the way back to the train stop.
Some modern art.  Looks like an unfinished roller coaster to me. 
The PHART- the PHoenix Area Rapid Transit...
I know they have rules about amplified music but this was technically not amplified- it was no worse than somebody holding a conversation.  This was some great blues!  I went back and sat down and listened to 3 or 4 songs and gave him a fiver as a tip and thanked him for the music.   
There have been some movies at home and at the theater, video games, swimming expeditions, laps around the mall to cool off and a room remodel previously shared.  Shaw starts 6th grade in a couple of weeks...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Room remodel

Shaw is getting all growed up ril gud and it was time to remodel his room from a boys room to a young man's room. Baby blue is gone. Shaw picked out the candy apple red with black accents. 
When he was born, we bought a pretty nice crib that could be reconfigured to a toddler day-bed with one of the sides taken off and then with some added bed rails , the sides become a headboard and a footboard for a full size youth bed.  We finally got rid of that and we'll build a new frame and headboard to go with the full size mattress and box spring.  For now, it's just on the floor under the new shelves.  The crib is on the back porch.  I'm gonna build it in each of the three ways and take a pic and sell it on Craigslist.    
I insisted on keeping the white boards and chair rail below in an effort to keep the room from getting too dark.  I had suggested, and Shaw liked, the idea of a black/red checkerboard pattern but once the red was in, I feared that a straight-up checker board pattern with alternating red and black would be way too much.  This still gives the feel of a racing garage or something but without getting too dark.  An old chair was cleaned up and re-purposed and painted black and it seems to fit right in. 
Notice that the closet is now a desk.  We removed the doors and added a desk top and some more practical shelves for the new purpose.  We also made a consious decision to forego a traditional hanging rod for clothes.  We live in Arizona and most people only need one coat and a couple of hoodie sweatshirts.  Since he's coming up on his teenage years, I figured a suit or two and 3 or 4 button down shirts would be just fine.  Notice he has a foot and a half of rod on the right of his new shelving.  The shelving is removable so that if there is anything that is taller than 8 inches that needs to be stored or displayed, he can remove a shelf or two. 
We moved to this house almost 6 years ago and Shaw lived in baby blue in this room. It should last him another 6 years in red and black to get him through his teenage years.  Enjoy the new room, Shaw.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Follow me boys!

It's almost like a Fred MacMurray movie. Shaw went off on his first Boy Scout overnighter last week. He seems to have survived. We bought him the smallest Cub Scout shirt available and he wore it for 3 years and never really grew into it. His Boy Scout shirt fits him pretty well. He looks like he's becoming a man.

Here he is, all ready to go, posing by the "door" door that I painted. 
Loading up the vehicles to hit the road.  I couldn't get a serious shot of him owing to the goofiness of a half dozen 11 year old boys getting ready to do something exciting. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A couple more photos of the eclipse...

If  you haven't read the next post, read that one first and then come back to this one.  Here are a couple of professional photos of the eclipse last week.  This one was taken right here at the Phoenix Zoo in Papago Park.  The photographer got the image of some fellow eclipse viewers up on a rock.  He sold this one to the local paper. 
This one is just so fun and inventive.  I know there was some photoshop post-production on this one to put the blue sky back in, but I love the creativity!

Solar eclipse- May 20, 2012

I've loved astronomy and NASA since I was a kid.  I learned about the Space Shuttle when I was in 3rd grade in 1973 and was hooked.  Our school in Winslow Arizona- amazingly- had a really cool model of the solar system with arms holding and rotating the planets and moons and there were pulleys and chains and a high wattage light bulb in the middle of the sun to cast shadows and such.  I learned how seasons worked and what an eclipse was.  You would flip a switch and it would go through an entire years worth of orbit in a couple of minutes. 

I couldn't resist partaking in the viewing of a solar eclipse in my area.  We had intended to jet out after church and drive up to the Navajo Nation to get exactly under the eclipse but upon studying the nature of an annular eclipse, decided to stay home.  The moon was further from the earth at this time than usual and would at best would only create about 87% coverage.  Places like Albuquerque NM and Page AZ would have a perfect "ring of fire" but no additional coverage than other places within 200 miles or so.  Viewed from Mesa AZ, we got as full a viewing as we could but the outer edge of the moon touched the outer edge of the sun leaving a crescent shape but not a ring of fire.
We are all laughing in this shot because I had tickled Shaw to get a smile out of him and he elbowed me in the nubbins! 

The local community college science department invited the public down for some planetarium shows and they had a few telescopes set up with filters for viewing the eclipse.  They also provided these cool viewing shades for the public.  
 They anticipated about 100 people and nearly 500 showed up. 
These telescopes allowed us to see sunspots and flares and the shape of the moon as it passed.  It was really brilliant. 
The science geeks (students and teachers) from the astronomy department at Mesa Community College were most gracious and helpful and friendly and informative and they were sooooo buzzed about the general public paying them some attention.  They made sure to invite us all back on June 5th when Venus will pass directly in front of the sun.  That will be just a tiny speck but they promised they would get out the telescopes for us if we come down. 
A citizen astronomy enthusiast brought this device.  It's a series of lenses and mirrors that project the image of the eclipse on a screen for safe viewing. 
 This is just snapped from my camera with the viewer you saw earlier. 
This is something that everybody should have learned in elementary school... poke a pinhole in a piece of tin foil.  You can adjust the distance between the foil and a paper plate or piece of white paper to see the image of the eclipse projected on the white surface. 
You can see the little thumbnail on the plate in the center of the tin foils shadow.   Lesa was amazed and commented that when she was in 4th grade, there was a partial eclipse and her teacher had the students poke pin holes in paper plates and look directly at the sun through the hole...  She didn't "get it" and had a bunch of 4th graders looking directly at the sun through a pin hole in a paper plate!  Sheesh!
I'm a huge lover of people watching.  There was a woman there who just couldn't get her brain around what was happening.  Couldn't grasp orbits and where we are relative to the sun and the moon etc.  I fought back thinking she was an idiot because it was crazy-awesome that she was trying to understand as a few people attempted to explain what she was seeing.   In reality, eclipses happen all they time with various planets and moons and stars blocking certain views from certain viewers.  It's just extra interesting when they happen where WE can see them. 
Here's the coverage at about its peak.  Viewed on the mirror image above and straight in to my camera below. 
There will be a total solar eclipse in 2017 that will go directly across the center of the U.S. in mid-day and it will completely black out the sun.  ROAD TRIP!  Who's in?