Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Final Day

The last day of the July 2014 Chicago vacation started in Heath, Ohio.  At breakfast, Dad's phone recommended a trip to Dawes Arboretum.  So they headed there before the drive home.  It did not disappoint.




Once again, the recommendation was spot on for dinner at Da Vinci's Pizza in Cumberland, MD.


They got back into town just in time to go to Broad Run Band spirit night at Sweet Swirls.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Day 7

Monday began with a visit to Navy Pier.  The rain did not dampen anyone's spirits.  They were used to it, as it had rained off and on for most of the time in Chicago.

After getting off the bus, they did a walking tour of the Navy Pier area.


The Funhouse was enjoyed by all, followed by spirited games of Time Freak and Atomic Rush (which could also be called "Button Push Freak" and "Atomic Button Push").


Pete bought a "jumper", and Sam some Chicago pajama pants.  Dad found an indoor geocache.


The car needed to be moved from the miraculous parking space by 4pm, so it was time to leave Chicago and begin the long trip home.  Dinner was Chipotle in Indianapolis, and the evening's lodging was in Heath, Ohio.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Day 6

Today the group headed out to the beach.  Specifically 41.9139092,-87.6238724.  Lake Michigan.  Probably the first beach anyone had been to that was not on the Atlantic Ocean.

The water was frigid.  Sam went out with Uncle Steve to do the "Polar Plunge".  Then he convinced Dad and Pete to do it as well.  It was a sensation they will not soon forget.

After grabbing some lunch at Castaways, the boys played in the sand.  Sam built a castle and helped to bury Pete.  Dad made a ball tunnel roundabout and a beach ball golf hole.

On the way home, they stopped again at Taste of Chicago (after walking through what seemed like half of the city).  Sam played some Madden in the video game booth, while everyone got tickets and ate some tasty Chicago foods.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Day 5

Everyone enjoyed some waffles at a restaurant called "Waffles".  Then they hopped on a series of buses to the Lincoln Park Zoo.  They found a few geocaches at the zoo and then one more in Roosevelt Park on the way home.  The evening included babysitting for Payton and having dinner at the condo, followed by some fireworks on the Navy Pier, visible from Shedd Aquarium.




Mom, Dad, and Pete went to the fireworks.  It was raining pretty hard as they walked to the Shedd aquarium, so they turned back.  Sure enough, the fireworks started so they watched them from the 11th Street bridge.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Day 4

Day 4 was a driving day.  After checking out of the hotel, they made the 5-hour drive to Chicago, with a brief stop in Indiana for lunch and a geocache.

After settling in at Uncle Steve and Sabrina's condo, and securing a parking spot, they took Isabella for a rainy walk and to get some free July 11th Slurpees.  Dad, Pete, and Sam went over with Peyton and Uncle Steve to "Taste of Chicago" while Mom and Sabrina went to get a Reflexology massage.  Pete got a good taste of Chicago, with a Fire Grilled Steak Taco, Windy City Hot Dog, and Rib Tips.  Sam got Connie's deep dish pizza.  Then of course there were enough tickets saved up for Rainbow Cones and Dream Cups.  Topped off by a turkey leg to bring back to the condo.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Day 3

Dad and Pete got up at 7:30am, grabbed the buffet breakfast at Mango Mike's in Castaway Bay, and then Mom dropped them off at the Park at 8:45 for the early entry admission.  Mom stayed back at the hotel with Sam, and ended up going by herself to the buffet.  She was ultimately able to get Sam out of the hotel and into the park to meet Dad and Pete at Dodgem around 10:30.

These were the rides they did on the second day in the park:

  • Millennium Force
  • Magnum XL-200
  • Top Thrill Dragster
  • Dodgem
  • Iron Dragon
  • Mantis
  • Sky Ride
  • Witches Wheel
  • Wave Swinger
  • SkyHawk
  • Mean Streak

(went back to the hotel for a few hours.  Dad deployed a few Munzees and found a geocache.)

  • Maxair
  • Windseeker
  • Sir Rub-a-Dubs Tubs (again, pictured below)
  • Maverick
  • Skyhawk (again)
  • Top Thrill Dragster (again)

When leaving the park, Dad consulted with his app to see where the car was parked.  It thought it was parked at the exit to the Dragster.  That 120 miles per hour ride convinced the app that they had done some more driving.



Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Day 2

Departure time was 9am from Piittsburgh for the drive to Sandusky, Ohio.  After a brief stop at Wendy's, they arrived at the Breakers Express hotel around 1pm, checked in, and went over to the Cedar Point amusement park.

These were the rides they did on the first day in the park:

  • Ocean Motion
  • Raptor
  • Blue Streak
  • Power Tower (pictured below)
  • Gemini
  • Pipe Scream
  • Corkscrew
  • All Wheels Extreme stunt show
  • Giant Wheel (pictured below)
  • Wicked Twister
  • Sir Rub-a-Dubs Tubs
  • Gatekeeper





Sam's cool new sunglasses:

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Chicago Trip 2014 - Day 1

Everyone headed out around 6:30pm for the first leg of the trip.  They stopped at Redbox to pick up "21 Jump Street" and "Non-Stop".  After almost running out of gas, they grabbed a snack at a rest area on the PA turnpike (Famiglia's Pizzeria) and arrived at the Junkers residence around 11:00pm.  This left enough time for a "quick" League of Legends game with Eric and the a few hours of sleep.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Rivah


The family went down again this year for a weekend to the Markowitz's vacation house on the Potomac River in Heathsville, Va.

Activities included the following:
- Hedbanz
- Fishing (In addition to lots of Croakers, Pete caught one of Ethan's old crocs, and Sam caught an eel!)
- Boat ride
- Riding around in Dune Buggy / Go Kart
- Walking the condemned dock in Snail Creek
- Steak dinner
- Second boat ride with adventure rafting
- Swimming in the river
- Kayaking (Mom/Dad/Pete) with a stop at "B" Beach
- Bonfire / S'mores
- Walking around the neighborhood
- Crafts



Everyone said they had a great time.  Can't wait to go back again next time!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Picture People

Nana wanted to get a family portrait for the extended family, but it was impossible to find one date that everyone could get together.  So she asked if we could do some portraits of the local family.  Everyone went over to Picture People at the mall and got some pretty good shots:




You can't see it, but in that last photo, Pete and Sam are actually midair, about a foot above the ground.

The guys all wearing blue actually wasn't planned - it just worked out that way.

About an hour later, the pictures were ready and everyone was ready for dinner so they went to the food court at the mall.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mile Run

Pete came to Dad last week for advice.  He had run the practice race for the mile run at school and had done poorly.  He ended up having to walk and finished in about 12 minutes.  His goal had been to finish in under 8 minutes.  To prepare for the final race, Dad gave the following strategies to Pete:

1. Caring - Before anything else, you must decide if you care about getting a good time.  If you do not care, nothing else will work.  Decide why you care about getting a good time and make sure you are fully committed to it, without any doubts.

2. Ghosting - Find another runner who is running at the pace that you want to run.  You can do this before the race, or find someone just after the race starts.  Shadow this person.  Stay 20 feet behind them.  Never let them get any further ahead of you.

3. Runing Through Pain - During any run you will experience some pain.  In your case, this is likely to be either cramping or pain in your shins and knees.  You must run through the pain.  Your brain will make the pain seem worse than it is.  Ignore the pain and keep running.  It will go away.

4. Rest at the End - As soon as the race is over, you can rest.  Your pain will go away and your breath will come back.  This will come soon if you stick to your other principles.

5. Song Cadence - Use a song to keep your running cadence.  Pick a song before the race.  You don't need to know the words or use headphones.  Play the song in your head as you run.  Adjust the tempo, as needed, to keep up with your ghosting partner.

6. Don't Stop - You may feel compelled at some point to slow to a walk, or stop completely.  Do not stop running.  If you run all the way, you will have a great chance to achieve your goal.

Dad was very happy to hear of the results of Pete's mile run on Monday 5/12/14.  Pete used all of the above strategies and finished in 7:53.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Laser Lab

Sam had a requirement for his Cub Scout Scientist badge that was to visit a Scientist at his lab.  Dad's friend Brian was gracious enough to take Sam and Dad (and Patti) on a fun tour of his lab in Herndon where they make custom lasers for government projects.  It was a Saturday, and there were a lot of people working but the labs were pretty quiet.

Sam and Dad stopped at Taco Bell on the way to the lab, where they saw a sign spinner who had participated in the 2013 Sign Spinning Championships in Las Vegas.



At his office, Brian showed them some of the historical lasers that his company had built.


Then they visited two labs.  The second one was a clean area so they had to scrub their shoes in the shoe machine:


And then wear special clothes into the lab:


Sam got to wear Brian's' goggles, that protected him against any color laser except orange:


Then they experimented a bit with the thermal camera.  Can you see Sam's handprints on the wall?  The camera can:


It was a fun and educational experience.  Thanks Brian!


Dad told Pete that he could get a job as a laser technician in Brian's lab with 0-2 years of college.  He thought this idea would be well-received.  However, Pete said he was not interested since he does not like lasers.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Loudoun Courthouse

Pete and Sam were home from school on Monday 3/31, so Dad decided to take them to the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg.

They grabbed some lunch at Ledo Pizza:


The following cases were scheduled for 1:00pm in courtrooms 1C and 1D:


The Judge was the Honorable Deborah C. Welsh.

They saw 6 cases of inmates with public defenders who were requesting bond.  Results:

  • Jorge Zepeda - Approved $2,500
  • Okoya Dorsey - Denied
  • Clinton Richardson - Approved $25,000
  • Rahkeem Johnson - Denied
  • Taylor Carroll - Approved $2,500
  • Elizabeth Greenwood - Approved, and father permitted to pick up from hospital

During the Carroll case, the Defense Attorney approached the bench and there was a lengthy private discussion.

After the cases had all been tried, the only people left in the courtroom were the Judge, D.A., bailiff, Pete, Sam, and Dad.  They chatted with the Judge a bit.  She asked if they had any questions.

After the proceedings, they chatted with Mr. Greenwood in the hallway outside the courtroom.  They asked him why she was locked up for over a month for a simple trespass charge.  He said that his daughter was schizophrenic and they left her in jail so she would not die on the street during the cold winter.  They were happy that the Judge said they could go pick her up later in the day.  Pete shook his hand and Dad wished them good luck.

Pete found a hubcap on the way back to the car for adding to his collection.

Pete also learned to tie his tie by himself.  It was a day full of some new experiences and some old ones.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Getting Out of Trouble

Pete and Dad have been playing some racquetball recently at the Pavilion.  Pete has gotten a lot better.  Dad has started teaching him some more advanced techniques and strategies.

Today Dad was teaching Pete about the ceiling shot.  "The ceiling shot can be very effective, especially when you catch the opponent by surprise.  Also, it is the best shot to use when you are in trouble.

Pete squeezes his nose and yells out in a nasally voice:

"Pete Berman, will you please report to the Principal's office"

"I need to use my ceiling shot!"

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sam Sick

Sam has been sick for the past few days.  Or as he puts it, "the sleeves of my shirt are a biohazard".

The only major implication of this so far is that his basketball team only managed to score 14 points without him.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wait Til Afternoon

Pete and Sam were home from school one day, which was a concern since Dad had to teach an online training class for work.

Dad: Now remember guys, I have a training class today.  What does that mean?

Sam: We can't fight until 12:30

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Vice Presidential Campaign

Sam ran for class Vice President this year.  Dad helped him take a few pictures to put together his poster.




It seemed like Sam had a great chance to win, since he was running against 3 girls (who would split the girl vote) and since he used the work "ubiquitously" in his campaign speech.

Unfortunately, however, Sam lost the election to Dori.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Cub Scout Campout at Pohick Bay

Sam did not want to go to the Cub Scout Fall Campout, so Dad and Pete headed off to Pohick Bay for a fun day of adventure.  

They went on a hike, did a great version of Calamine Lotion (with Alex) at the bonfire, played some kickball, and had some tasty hot dogs.   Dad was a bit concerned that 90 people showed up for the site that was for 26 people and 4 parking spots, but they worked everything out in the end.

Pete did a great site clearing out the campsite:



Pete also enjoyed the Scavenger Hunt:


Of course Pete and Dad were the last two people to leave, after putting out the fires and taking care of the trash.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Egg Security Capsule

Pete had a Science project to design a capsule that would protect an egg from breaking when dropped from a height of about 6 feet.  He could only use a limited set of materials, including scotch tape, cotton balls, paper, toothpicks, and paper clips.


The first outdoor test was a moment of great sadness captured on the video below.



If you listen carefully, you can hear Pete say "awww" while Mom says "oh yeah".

Dad was pleased that after a while Pete decided to just make something that would qualify him for completing the assignment.  And no, the egg did not survive when it was dropped by Pete's teacher in his capsule.  But Pete got most of the points for the assignment anyhow.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Belvedere Pumpkin Patch

For the first time in many years, the family went down on a Saturday afternoon to the Belvedere Plantation Pumpkin Patch.








It was an unseasonably hot day for October, so no jackets or hot chocolate were needed.

The zip lines were not too good this time, and the rope swings in the barns were pretty crowded.  The pig races were meh.  The corn maze was ok.  The best thing was probably the chicken tenders and root beer.

The family had to leave early before the campfire, since Pete had a previous engagement to meet up with his friends.