Thursday, June 30, 2016

Photoshop Tutorial

Mom was tutoring today for Katie and Michael, so Dad went with Sam to the Summer in the Arts “Explosion”. After picking up Sam’s flip book in the cafeteria from Animation class, they went to the piano room. Sam was up first and played “Tiger Chase” (see video). 

Then Maggie (formerly known as Meggy) played "Spring Time" and finally Helen played “The Caisson Song”. 

There wasn’t much going on in the room for Sam’s Photoshopped and Digital Sketchbook classes, so after listening to a little bit of a poorly made “Melee” podcast (picture above) Sam and Dad went down to Room 406 and Sam spent about an hour teaching Dad how to use Photoshop. They took a picture of Ashe, and replaced her bow with one from a picture of Varus. It came out pretty nice. They called it “Varushe”. 

They skipped the stage performances and headed home after grabbing some lunch. Sam played his song a second time at home in the afternoon so Dad could get the hand positioning on the video, from a better angle.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Guessing Games

Dad and Sam were having lunch at Deli Italiano. First  they looked at a map to learn some of the local counties around Fairfax and Loudoun -  Prince William, Fauquier, Clarke, Stafford, etc. They were playing a few games. Dad asked Sam to guess whether a word was a county in Virginia, a football player, or both. Then Sam said he would name either a medical condition or a League or Legends character, and Dad had to guess. The first one Sam asked was: “Rheumatoid Arthritis”.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Shovel

Pete was waiting to make a u-turn somewhere in Tyson’s Corner after lunch, when Dad noticed this rather sad looking shovel on the truck next to them at the light. They began wondering how long it might take to fill up the dump truck with that rather shallow shovel. Also, what force of nature is preventing it from sliding out into traffic?

Monday, June 27, 2016


Pete got some practice driving in Tyson’s Corner today when he went with Dad to Smashburger for lunch. They got an Oreo shake that was 860 calories. Of course, the name of the place reminded them of Sam. There was also a cool Walmart with parking and a cart return on the second level. There was an escalator with a track in the center that brings your cart up to the top. They will need to go back there sometime just to try that out.

Pete returned to SmashBurger a few weeks later with Mom.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Driving School

Pete is going to be taking 14 mandatory hours of driving school. Dad gave him a pep talk to help prepare him. “They’re going to tell you a bunch of garbage about stopping for yellow lights and waiting until it is completely clear to merge. Just do whatever they tell you, and then after you get your license you can resume driving like the rest of us maniacs.”

It turns out that Pete's driving instructor actually told him some pretty good stuff.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Accidental Convergence

Dad and Pete accidentally ended up at the same place yesterday without knowing it. They were both at the “Leesburg Acoustic on the Green” concert. Dad arrived at 6:45 and got a nice spot right in the middle. Pete swung by the concert with Jennifer around 8:00 for about 20-30 minutes. This was only discovered when Dad and Pete were discussing it the next day at lunch. (Sam was at the mall that evening, seeing a movie and having dinner with his friends.)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Falling Slowly

Pete has been playing a lot of piano these past few weeks. Some of it has been from his new book “The Giant Pop & Rock Piano Sheet Music Collection: Piano/Vocal/Guitar”. He is getting pretty good. Tonight he was briefly heard playing “Falling Slowly”, which was humorous to Dad and Sam, due to its appearance on some recent episodes of “Last Man on Earth”.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mental Preparation

Sam took a shower this morning before camp. After the shower, he sits in the pictured position for about 5 minutes before he is ready to get dressed and take on the day. Pretty soon he will outgrow his custom hoodie towel that mom made for him. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Driving Practice

Pete is getting a lot of good driving practice this week, driving back and forth with Mom or Dad to Manassas for his job at the Freedom Center. Here is an action shot of Pete driving on Route 28 in the rain:

Dad is also enjoying having a human to eat lunch with, after picking Pete up. Then on the way home they stop off at Dominion Trail to pick up Sam from the bus home from Summer in the Arts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

45 Percent

Dad asked the boys to play a new game called “guess the battery level”. Sam’s phone was surprisingly at 100%, even though not plugged in, Dad’s was 93% and Pete’s was 85%. Now it was time to guess Mom’s. Dad guessed 44%, followed by Sam guessing 45%. After hearing this, Pete guessed 46% which had Sam very annoyed, having essentially lost the game at that point. He tried to get Dad to change his guess to 47%, but Dad did not feel very honorable about doing that to Pete. Finally, the moment of truth arrived and they asked Mom to check her phone. She called out “forty five percent”. Sam and Dad went berserk. Sam had miraculously won after all. Mom must have been wondering what all the fuss was about.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Work / Camp Begins

Sam had fun at his first day of Summer in the Arts camp, once he realize the issue with the incorrect schedule card that was provided to him. He knew a few people on his bus, including Moksh, Sarah, and Aubrey. As per tradition, he came home and complained about not having the proper version of Photoshop. 

Pete also had a good first day of work in Manassas.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"Family" Bike Ride

For Father’s Day, Dad wanted to take a family bike ride on the W&OD trail to Andolini’s for lunch. Pete and Sam did not care to participate in this, so it was just Mom and Dad. Later Dad selected Arby’s for his birthday dinner. Everyone agreed to join him for this. It was not very crowded there at 8:30pm on a Sunday evening. Dad handed out a matrix where everyone could vote on what they want to do during the family week off in late July. The winner was pretty close between “Ropes Course” and “Do Nothing / Stay at Home”. Sam and Dad ended up doing a Ropes Course with Boy Scouts, so the winning activity was changed to Escape Room (on the way home from the Philly trip). More details on this later.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Crawfish Ukelele

Today was the big Crawfish Boil on the street. Sam emerged in the late afternoon, and was hanging out with the growing crew of kids in the evening. At one point, he brought out his ukulele. He was in the middle of a circle of about 20 people near Mason’s driveway. (Sorry, no picture.)

Fortunately, Sam did not feel the need to keep any of the crawfish as pets this year.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Sam decided not to go to the pool today; perhaps to give his sunburn a chance to heal. Also maybe he is recovering from last night’s end-of-school party at Taylor’s house. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

No Pizza?

Dad and Sam have been eating leftover pizza for lunch all week, from the pizza that Pete somehow brought home from the last-day-of-school bonfire. (Pete has been going out with his friends every day for lunch.) So goes the first week of summer. Today Dad asked Sam if he wanted a slice of leftover pizza for lunch and Sam said “not really”. So mark it down – the day that Sam turned down pizza for a meal.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


The first family game night in quite some time featured two card games. The first was called Kabul. Pete explained the various rules and then everyone played a few practice games. Mom did really well in the practice games, but then Dad won the regular game. Sam would have won if Dad hadn’t received one especially timely bit of help from Pete. This was the first of many Kabul games over the next few weeks.

The second game was called “BS”. This game was a lot simpler, and pretty fun too. Dad did not like it as much, since it involved some “bluffing” when you didn’t have the necessary card. Dad is not a fan of bluffing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Yearbook Candids

Sam and Pete received their school yearbooks last week. Sam’s official picture was in the 6th grade section of the book. They also have the candid shots of various people in and about school. Among the amusing things was that this section of the book featured more pictures of Dad (1) than Sam (0). The picture of Dad was in the background of a shot at the “Donuts with Dad” event.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hole in the Wall

Dad went to Sam’s Troop meeting tonight, now that he is officially an Assistant Scoutmaster. He noticed that Sam was rough-housing with a few other scouts just prior to Kevin notifying Scoutmaster Roll (his Dad) that there was a hole in the wall. Apparently, Kevin’s elbow had made contact with an un-reinforced section of the wall. Stuart said to Dad, “I always knew the day would come when we damaged this place, I just didn’t think it would be my own son.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Zero Pilots

Today was the day that Sam was supposed to go to the 21 Pilots concert with Sarah. But Sarah went silent about 1-2 weeks ago, so nobody knows what happened. It seems most likely that she decided to go to the concert with one of her boyfriends instead. Sam made the best of it by going to the pool with Colin. Pete worked on his original song about Lord of the Flies that he wrote for his final project. After returning home from the Broad Run graduation at George Mason, he was heard playing the guitar late into the night.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Creeped Out

After Pete’s haircut, Dad rode along with him to his American Inline training class. After class, Pete drove with Mom and Dad through some back roads up to a party at Jennifer’s new house in Waterford. Mom and Dad went to an outdoor concert in Leesburg and then went to Windy City Red Hots and brought home Wendy’s for Sam around 9:30pm. Sam had been reading some creepy original fiction on Reddit, so he texted Mom and Dad a few times asking how soon they would be home.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Just Hanging Around

Pete did not need to go to Math class today, since they were taking a test that he could skip due to having an A already for the semester. And he didn’t particularly want to go to Theater class either. So Dad wrote him a tardy note that he would be arriving at school at 12:10. Pete was at school, but not at school at the same time. He spent some time with Christopher in Study Hall and then sat out in the courtyard for a while. He took advantage of the time – finishing his English paper, as well as the first Economics / Personal Finance module for his summer class.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Tick Check

Sometimes Pete disappears for a while with Jennifer. Above is a video that Dad found that could explain some of it. Hopefully Pete did a good tick check when he got home.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Song Pop 2

Dad came to the realization yesterday that, despite only being 15, Pete is already beating him about half the time in Song Pop 2. This includes regularly beating Dad in categories such as 80s and 90s music. Soon Dad may have to resort to choosing 50s and 60s music to get an advantage. (Or Amy Winehouse.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Sax Progress

Today Sam showed Dad that he had learned to play The Pink Panther on the saxophone. Dad called grandpa and asked him to guess the song. Grandpa was at the checkout line at WalMart (wiring some money) and had to go, but he emailed Dad later that he heard Sam play it and knew that it was The Pink Panther.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Musical Chairs

As you can see in the picture, Sam made a big change today. He replaced his chair at the kitchen computer with one of the stools from the bar. Dad asked him about it, and it seemed to be primarily an ergonometric decision. This is a pretty significant move, since it is where he spends most of his time. More on this in a future post.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

An Hour

Sam asked Mom if he could go to the pool “for an hour” with Colin before his Scout meeting. Mom thought this meant “I will go to the pool and after exactly an hour I will text Mom that I am ready to be picked up and then wait outside for her to pull up so I can quickly get in the car and be home in plenty of time to eat dinner before my Troop meeting.” As you may have gathered by now, that is not exactly what Sam means when he asks if he can go to the pool for about an hour.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Graduation Parties

Today Sam enjoyed a quiet day at home, since Pete was off at another graduation party (for Marietta) and Dad was downtown at his crossword puzzle tournament.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Kia Spectra

Pictured is Grandma’s Kia that she is not driving anymore. She was going to give it to her neighbor, but Dad convinced her to sell it to Pete instead. Soon it will be time for a family road trip up to Philly, driving up in one car and returning in two. There should be plenty of opportunities coming up, as Grandpa is continuing his cancer treatments, which are starting to get more aggressive.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Items Du Jour

It’s interesting how trends come and go. They usually involve a small investment, a frenzy of activity, and then are not seen much again. Pete bought 3 NES controllers during the "Kaizo Super Mario" craze, but now two of them sit unopened in their container by the chair in the family room. Pete bought a special Rubiks cube that he used a lot for a week or two. The most recent purchase was a $20 book of rock songs for the piano. Pete has been playing a lot of piano over the last 2-3 weeks. It is nice to have music heard throughout the house. This too will pass. Sam goes through his phases too. At the moment, he wants a $100 Gamecube controller for playing Super Smash Bros. Meanwhile, a cache of Tech Decks and Flick Trix gathers dust in a case in the playroom, near the nerf guns and spy gear.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Secret Word

Sam and Dad have a deal that if someone kills Dad and tries to impersonate him, Sam will ask the "Dad" what his favorite word is. If he does not come up with the word, then Sam will know it is an imposter. By the way, the word comes from a French word.