Sunday, March 21, 2004

I had Friday off of work, and the kids had a teacher-work-day off from school, so we loaded up our bikes and drove down to Monterey. We spent a while playing at the beach, and then rode along the Monterey coastal bike path for about an hour. It was a great family ride -- very level, well marked, but with lots of variety and an unbeatable location. We biked through the Cannary Row area, where the Aquarium is, and then further south along the open coast.

The next day, I spent most of the day at the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco, getting trained to be a parent volunteer for next week's Age of Sail program for Ellen's 5th grade class. This is a program that's been offered to school kids for over 20 years, and Eri's class participated in it two years ago. It takes place on the Balclutha, an 1890s tall sailing ship, which is now permanently docked in SF. The ship is part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, and the kids get to spend 24 hours on the ship, living the life of the sailors of 100 years ago. The program staff dresses and speaks in ship roles from 100 years ago, and the kids need to learn and perform various ship tasks, such as rigging a Bosun's chair, casting a docking line, and cooking for the ship. Ellen will have the role as student leader for the group working the dory, which weighs over 400 pounds. Their goal will be to lower and raise the dory, with an even keel, with just two 11-year-olds handling each of two ropes. I got to try this yesterday, and it wasn't too hard with 4 adults, but we were pulling pretty hard. It will be a good challange for the kids!

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Today we went to the Christmas Skating show at Dublin Iceland. Ellen was in a big group number, and she also skated in a group of 6 "big girls", although she was a head smaller than the other 5. She and the other skaters had been practicing each week for about 10 weeks for this show, and it was a lot of fun. Ellen's hardest trick for her part was a double Lutz, and she also did a couple of Axels, a sit spin, a layback spin, and many other fun moves.

This picture shows her with her friend Kendall -- they got to pair up for some parts of the group number, and they had a great time. (Ellen's the one in the red for those of you who haven't seen her for a while!) Kendall doesn't normally have that much hair, but she skated in a synchro number where the whole team had extra big hair added on!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

When I was a boy, I remember learning a card trick from my great aunt Sophia. The trick took advantage of the unusual properties of the words ATLAS, BIBLE, GOOSE and THIGH. A few years ago, when internet search engines were becoming popular, I tried a search for these words but it came up empty. With today's richer web, though, this link came to light tonight:

Goose Thighs Rehashed

This is a nice writeup, referencing an original work from 1968 (when I was 8 years old), and expanding greatly on the concept. It also explains how to manage the card trick in its basic form, which I recommend to any budding card sharks in the family!

ATLAS, BIBLE, GOOSE and THIGH I've remembered for 35 years, but I challenge any of you to retain "Jumpoff dogsled, rubbing peccant rhythms jazzily" or some of the others from this writeup!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Eric had another karate tournament today, and this time he won the "super grand champion" trophy! The way this works is this: at each tournament, they divide the kids into groups of 6-10, and have "forms" competitions. The first place winners for the day all compete at the end of the day for the "grand champion" trophy, and Eric won this about a year ago. Winners of that trophy can then compete with each other at subsequent tournaments for the "super grand champion." This was Eric's 3rd or 4th try, and we were all excited that he got to take it home this time. Eric also won his forms competition again in the regular event, but didn't place in his sparring event. (He's gotten pretty good at sparring, but he was paired against a 2nd degree black belt student who was an excellent at sparring, and lost 5-1.)

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Halloween weekend had an extra treat for us at the San Francisco ice skating competition. Ellen competed in the Pre-Juvenile category, and came in 5th place (good enough for a medal at this competition). She skated well, only falling on her double flip jump. She had a difficult program, including a double-lutz/double-toe loop combination jump.

Laura made this skating dress especially for this program, and it's a nice look for Ellen. Almost all the other girls she skated against were in pink, so it was easy to spot her in the warm ups!

I enjoy visiting the SF rink, partly because one wall is windows and offers a low garden view with the SF skyline above and beyond.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

I completed my Wood Badge training last weekend, with a 3-day campout at Rancho Los Mochos in Livermore, CA. I had a great time taking the course, and I enjoyed getting to know my Eagle Patrol scouters.

Although it took more practice than I had guessed, we were able to demonstrate a skill I had envisioned about a year ago: making a Jacob's Ladder figure out of rope, using 4 people in place of the standard two hands. This string figure has 11 moves, and is well suited to a four-person team. I liked the idea of showing how the patrol can work together as the fingers of your own hand.

Eric's middle school gym class has been teaching East Coast swing dance this month, and it culminated in an optional swing dance competition. Eric and his friend Tracie entered together, and went against about 180 other couples. The competition ran about 6 days, and Eric and Tracie made the first cut but were tapped out the second. Eric is very enthusiastic about the swing dancing, and is looking forward to the school dance at the end of the competition. I really like the program they have put together at his school, and I was impressed with what he's learned in gym this month!

Monday, September 22, 2003

I returned home last night from a draining, educational 3-day session at Wood Badge, the Boy Scout leadership training program. I really enjoyed myself, although I carried a cold through the weekend. This photo is a picture of Sir Robert Baden-Powell and the first Wood Badge trainees, September, 1919.

I have another 3-day weekend for the second half of the course, then an 18-month period to "work my ticket", which will involve completing several projects utilizing the skills taught in the course.

I was placed in the Eagle patrol with four other scout leaders, and we've worked very well together. I'm looking forward to our next outing.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Last night was my first night of Wood Badge training for boy scout leaders. The rest of the training will take place over two 3-day weekends, and be a lot more work. Last night was mainly a get acquainted evening, and I was happy to see several scout leaders from other troops I've seen previously at summer camp. There were also several cub scout leaders, and it was nice to talk about the cub scout program that we enjoyed so much a few years ago.

Wood Badge History
Weekend before last, we took a family trip to Point Reyes, on the California coast north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a beautiful, clear day, everywhere except for the point itself. We hiked down the 300 steps to the old lighthouse in total fog, which seemed appropriate. It looked like someone had fallen over the cliff just before we got there, as there were rescue climbers and an ambulance just leaving. We were careful to keep to the path, and we had a great visit.

Afterwards, we drove up the coast a few miles to the South Beach, and enjoyed playing by the surf and flying our Costco super-kite.
Ellen is skating at Skate St. Moritz this weekend, and I've been negligent in sharpening her skates. I finally made time to visit John and use his super sharpener, and fixed up both Ellen's and my skates.

When setting up the grinding stone, you can select the radius of the hollow down the middle of the skate blade. Mine was a deep 3/8", but I decided to change to 7/16", the same as Ellen's, to see if I can sacrifice a little edge to gain a little speed. I'll try them out this afternoon and see if I can still skate or not.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Welcome to the Wilson family weblog. I'm hoping I can use this tool to post more frequent reports on the family activities.

This is our family at Mt. St. Helens a few weeks ago:

Cheers, Rick

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