Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween was on a Saturday this year. Mom went out with Katie, Maddox, and Ryder. Sam went out briefly with Ethan and Joseph. He reprised his green morphsuit with the Dodgers hat (see photo, left side). Pete asked Dad if he could borrow an axe and then Dad dropped him off at Hannah’s house. The axe ended up in the same place as the spatula that Pete lent last year to Alexandra – which is some nether world where it may be seen again someday and it may not. (Update – the axe did make it back home about a week later.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bubble Gum Project

Sam decided for his Science project to do “Which Brand of Bubble Gum Yields the Largest Bubbles?”. For each of the 9 trials, Sam chewed each piece 20 times and then blew a bubble that Dad measured. It was not the most precise setup, but good enough. After turning in the project, Sam was seen chewing a lot of Dubble Bubble, Extra, and Trident bubble gum for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Berman Family Motto

Sam had a lot of homework today, including a poster for History class. Dad took this opportunity to remind Sam of the “Berman Family Motto”, which is to the effect of “Pretty good is all right with me!”. It’s a variation on “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. The motto seems to be catching on, which leads to homework getting done a lot faster, and for about the same grade. Maybe Sam can ride this motto someday all the way to CEO of "Pretty Good Enterprises”.

On a related note, Mom got a 10 out of 10 on her essay last week for her after-school continuing education class. So the motto seems to be working for her too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Dinner last night was what mom calls “ziti” but technically it is actually Rotini. On the plus side, she is saving a syllable every time she says it. Dad discovered that Pete is very discerning about his pasta. On the way home from school after band practice, Pete noted that “we need to make sure we use the right kind of noodles because with the proper Rotini noodle shape it is very good but with the wrong shape it is absolutely horrible”. Well, at least he has found some things that he is passionate about.

By the way, here is the box for the proper Rotini:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Melee in the House

Dad and Sam ordered Super Smash Bros Melee on ebay. It is a collector’s item, so it cost $51 for just a CD with some scratches on it! Sam does not seem concerned that this item cost him more than 10 weeks of allowance. He has certainly been getting his money’s worth, as he has played it quite a bit and it is also the game that they use in the tournaments that Sam is going to start going to.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tenderfoot Long View

Sam had fun camping this weekend with the Boy Scouts. His tent-mates were William and Aiden. He drove with William, Mr. Roll, and Kevin. They played lots of pun games in the car. They also saw a black bear while hiking the White Oak Canyon trail, and another crossing the road (a mama bear and two baby bears). Sam did not get any “sign-offs” in his book, but he had a good time anyhow. Perhaps he will become the first scout to graduate from high school before getting his Tenderfoot rank.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Driving Practice

Dad took Pete out for some driving practice. They went over to the parking lot near Ledo Pizza. There were some funny street names, and some tight turns that Pete enjoyed. Pete drove across to Nightwatch and then Zander Way and Anness Alley. He practiced backing in to some spaces at CVS and then drove a bit through the local neighborhood.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Campout Problems

Sam went off to a campout with Troop 761. Mom had to deal with the usual assortment of problems at the last minute, which included issues with shoes, sleep pad, backpack, pants, and several other items in the 10 minutes before it was time to leave. Sam also did not pack a lunch that he needed for the Saturday hike, since he did not want to go to the troop meeting on Monday when they mentioned this requirement. It should be an interesting weekend for him. Meanwhile, Pete marched in the parade and then played at the Homecoming football game vs. Oakton. Dad brought Pete his pants and wallet that he had forgotten over to school.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Under the Chair

Before going to bed, Mom had carefully filled out the three permission slips that needed to be turned in for Pete’s upcoming choir trips. But in the morning they were somehow nowhere to be found. Dad hastily printed out fresh forms from the school website and scribbled out the forms for Pete to bring in. Pete dashed on to the bus, and dad sat down in the chair for a breather. At that moment, the mystery was solved as Dad glanced down and saw the original forms between the chair and couch. Pete must have inadvertently kicked them off of the arm of the couch the previous evening as he was watching The Simpsons before bed. Of course, Dad had looked under the couch about three times and did not see the forms there, about two feet away. At least now they know where to look next time some forms are missing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Last Episodes on Earth

Dad, Pete, and Sam watched two episodes of “Last Man on Earth” this evening, since the DVR is going to get deleted when Dad trades it in this weekend for yet another new one. They have two more episodes to watch on Thursday. Hopefully this is the last time for a while that Dad will be swapping out DVRs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Good To Know

Sam and Dad had this discussion when Sam was getting ready to brush his teeth before bed:

Sam: I have a question about the time travel paradox where you go back in time and kill your own grandfather
Dad: Ok
Sam: Does that paradox have any effect on your going forward in time?
Dad: No, most physicists agree that traveling forward in time seems much more plausible. There is no issue there. In fact, I could kill you right now, with little repercussion.
Sam: Ok, thanks Dad

Monday, October 19, 2015


Dad was standing in the upstairs hallway around 10:30pm. Pete whooshed by and stated the following as he jogged down the stairs: “Dad, I’m going with Marietta to Wal-Mart so she can winterize her car. Will finish my Math homework on the way there in the car. Bye.” This statement raised a number of questions. Dad raised a finger as the front door closed and Pete ran down the front walk. Dad woke up at 2:30am and decided to check to see how Pete was doing. He was at his desk working on AP History homework. It’s no wonder that he had difficulty waking up the next morning.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

More Vaccines

Dad took Pete for his second of three appointments for his Gardasil vaccine. This one went a lot better than the first one. They went a bit earlier and the nurse actually let them leave after a few minutes, realizing that Pete was not going to pass out.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Martian

Pete traveled with his band today to the Parade of Champions competition at James Madison University. He left at 7:30am and returned around 11:30pm, which is typical of these competitions. Mom, Dad, and Sam wrapped up Dad’s birthday celebration from last week by going to see “The Martian” with Brian and Patti in Herndon. This was one of those theaters with really comfortable recliner seats. Sam was amused when Brian predicted that Patti would fall asleep, and further amused when she actually did so about half way through the film.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cheese Steak Night

Pete was away this evening, playing at the “Battle of the Burn” football game between Broad Run and Stone Bridge. After some cheese steaks with Dad and Sam, Mom went to Target to get some gifts for Pete’s secret buddy.

Pete doesn't like cheese steaks, so when he is away is a good time for cheese steak night. Ironically, Sam doesn't really like steak, so when he is away it is often steak night. (When Mom is away, it's Ledo Pizza night.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Choir Concert

Pete had his first choir concert tonight. Mom, Dad, and Sam were in attendance. How did they manage to get Sam to go? Well, Jennifer was going since her sister is also in the choir. She saved three good seats for them in the center of the third row. Pete did a great job in his first choir performance since elementary school. And as you can see, he looked pretty good up there also.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Write Night

Dad and Sam went to “Write Night” at Farmwell. Mom also joined later after her class was over at school. It was pretty similar to the Write Night that they did with Pete four years earlier. They mixed it up a bit by doing some different exercises. Dad also tried to mix in some poetry whenever possible, since he was in the midst of his online Modern Poetry class.

Here are the two poems that Dad wrote during Write Night:

wind-swept, strong-willed, free-spirited, butter-dipped
scion of this great nation-state
who loves sleeping until fully prepared for the confrontation of the bursting day, challenging the status quo, learning new secrets
who is afraid of the pall of mediocrity, the taste of plain blandness, premature decisions
who wants to see the fabric of the universe, proof of any empirical claim, the solemnity of what exists on the other side
resident of that which can be reliably demonstrated



The great glacial climes of January
Absorbed the rays of the February sun
Yielding March droplets descending
Slanted slopes of April
Collecting to a shallow puddle of May
Steaming toward a June bog
Adjacent with the still swamp of July
Which rapidly flowed toward an August river
Forded off as a bitter stream of September
Slowing to the brook of October
Frozen by the calm chill of November

Halted upon a December dam.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


For Dad’s birthday dinner, he selected Benihana. It was a pretty good dinner, but everyone decided that they like Nagoya a lot better. Benihana seemed to nickel and dime you for everything, and the food was not as good. There was also a bit of a wait for the table, despite the reservation. The one nice thing about Benihana was that they took a family photo and provided it on their website (see below).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tread Marks

Sometimes Dad discovers some interesting things at bedtime. Such as that his sneaker leaves a large mark on Sam’s back. Note: this activity was for amusement purposes only. No actors were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hair Cuttery

Sam was ready to start going to a real place to get his hair cut. So Mom put away the clippers and they went to Hair Cuttery. Sam thought Nelly did a good job, so Dad took some pictures of the results that they could show to her when he goes in next time.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Zone

Dad went with Sam to “The Zone” to spend his $25 gift card from Nana. He had the card for quite a while; possibly since last Christmas. They played some air hockey and skeeball until their laser tag game was ready to start. The laser tag was pretty fun, but Sam was really steamed about some adults that were way too serious about it. They were sniping everyone from above. It took the fun out of the game for Sam. He was ready to go straight home, without spending the rest of the money on the card. Dad will have to go back with Pete sometime to spend the remaining $5, which will probably take about 3 minutes at that place.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Marching Spartans

Pete was busy again this fall with marching band. Mom signed up as a chaperone for the day with multiple band competitions, including the evening one at Rock Ridge. Dad joined to watch the Rock Ridge competition also. This year’s theme was some sort of pirate battle. There was a sound board with cool pirate sounds, but someone forgot to charge the iPad after the earlier performance, so it was not available for the Rock Ridge competition.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


Sam: Do you think spiders catch smaller spiders in their webs?

Dad: That seems unlikely. It would be like a dog eating a dog.

Sam: Well, it is a "dog eat dog" world.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Allergy Shot Fun

Something crazy always happens when Pete and Dad go for an allergy shot at ENT & Allergy Associates of VA. One time it was the pen that won’t write on the slick receipt paper on the granite counter. Another time it was the chair with excessive taping and “Do not use” sign. Or the time the doctor ran out to the waiting room for the toy. The list goes on. Of course the classic was the time Dad said he had a credit of $40 on his account. The receptionist (“Krista”) insisted three or four times that he did not have a credit. Finally, Dad gave up. After which Krista said the infamous line “you do have a balance of $40 though”.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

FSBL Evaluations

The FSBL basketball league evaluations were the usual combination of 50% chaos and 50% waiting around. Dad got wise this year and did a drop-off/pickup. These “evaluations” are a bit of kabuki theater. Usually they at least have all of the coaches standing with clipboards and making some type of markings. This year, they only had 1 or 2 people with clipboards and it was questionable whether they were even writing anything. This might explain why Sam's team ended up with a bunch of the shortest kids, while some of the other teams had 2 or more tall players. It makes on wonder why they took the height measurements in the first place. Sam ended up on the team with the coach he didn’t want, but it worked out in the end as the assistant coach ended up taking on most of the coaching duties.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Popcorn 2015

Sam and Dad only went out for just one day this year to sell popcorn. It was a beautiful day. Dad was ready for about 3-4 hours of good sales in their usual perfect spot in Lansdowne. But Sam was done after about an hour. The good news is that Sam had 100% sales for the houses where people came to the door. The bad news is that this only amounted to 4 houses (including the house with the back-flipping dog). With additional sales to Nana and Uncle Victor, Sam still ended up with a respectable $300 in sales – enough to get 2 knives as prizes (in addition to the one he already has). This also made him the top seller in the Troop! Good thing Ethan is not in his Troop this year.