Monday, March 12, 2012

The Physics of a Four-Year-Old

"When people spin, does it remind this planet we live on that it needs to spin?"

Monday, February 27, 2012


This is my baby girl.

She's not so big on the talking thing. She will occasionally parrot words like "mama" and "dada" back to us but she doesn't use them. Lately, though, she has learned a word that she knows how to use. It's "ow!" I'm not really sure what that says about my family but it isn't flattering. How did I discover this word? I hit her in the head with a sock. This wasn't a malicious attack, it's a game we play when she happens to be around while I'm putting my socks on. In the past, when I'd whap her with a sock, she'd laugh at me. She had since learned, however, that the correct response to being hit was to say "ow!"

This leaves me in a bit of a quandary. The general response to a child learning a new word is positive reinforcement. We get them to repeat it over and over to anyone who will listen. We make a video and post it on youtube. I can't imagine, though, that a video of me smacking my baby repeatedly with a sock while she says, "ow!" will get very positive reviews. Even if it is pretty cute.

I guess I'll just have to teach her another word.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happle Pie

I love me some apple pie. The tart and sweet apples, the flaky crust, the warmth melting a scoop of vanilla ice cream... it's just so happy! I usually express my enthusiasm by lovingly inscribing the pie with a fancy steam vent. The problem with apple pie is that it takes so long to make - at least a couple hours - though I'm not really known for my speed in the kitchen.

I decided one night that I really wanted some apple pie but I didn't want to spend hours making it. The most time consuming part of the pie is the crust but I thought that maybe I could whip up some apple filling really quick in a pyrex dish, slap a quick crust on the top and be done in 15 minutes. It actually took closer to 30 but it was still impressively easy and it was the perfect amount for two people.

And, of course, it has a happy steam vent.

(I'm not so good at quantities in my recipes so this is kinda vague. If that means you have to make five or six until you get it just right, remember that there are worse things in life than having five or six apple pies... like horseradish sauce.)

2 medium sized apples peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4" thick (this will look like a lot but it cooks down)
1/8 - 1/4 c sugar
2-3 t flour
a squeeze of lemon juice if you've got it
a dash or two of cinnamon
a smaller dash or two of salt

Mix all that up in the pyrex dish, and let it sit while you make the crust. Mix it up again when you're ready to put the crust on and then dot it with a tablespoon or less of butter cut into small pieces. Cover with the crust.

(I was more careful with these measurements because crust is easier to mess up and you don't want to mess up the crust.)

Mix together:
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 t powdered sugar
dash of salt

Cut in 1 mounded tablespoon of shortening with a pastry blender, stirring up the flour mixture until most of the mixture looks like coarse crumbs with some larger pea sized pieces.

Drizzle 2 teaspoons of ice water over the mixture and cut with the blade of a rubber spatula until the dough is evenly moistened and begins to stick together. There should still be some crumbs that look dry.

Gather the dough up with your hands and put it on one half of a piece of parchment paper. I usually smash it down with my hand and sprinkle some flour over the top to keep it from sticking (too much). Fold the other half of the parchment paper over the top and roll it out until it's the same size as your pyrex dish (I used a round dish ~7" at the mouth). The dough won't roll out in a perfect circle so cut off the bits that stick out and use them like puzzle pieces to fill in the circle. When the dough is the right size, peel off the top layer of paper and use the bottom layer to position it over the apple filling, peel the bottom layer off, cut your steam vent and stick it in a 425 degree oven. After 15 minutes or so, decrease the temperature to 350 degrees and let it bake for 30 more minutes until thick juices are bubbling out of the steam vents and around the edges and the apples feel tender when you poke them with a knife.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Cards

I have a friend who does photography and other artistic sundries. Among his many talents is illustration. We made some Valentine's Day cards.

Card the first:


Card the second:


Thursday, February 2, 2012

The King of Strange Injuries

I am profoundly skilled at injuring myself in strange ways. There is a running joke in my family that I will always injure myself playing football on Thanksgiving, leaving my wife to do all the cooking work. In an attempt to end that curse a few years ago, I didn't make any plans to play football. Instead, I managed to stab a sliver of metal from my belt buckle through my thumb nail. The end then broke off leaving it complete unremovable. I still have no idea how that happened but it left my thumb sore for the next month.

In the sprirt of that freak occurence, I jammed my pinkie two nights ago. I jammed it against my own leg while I was trying to catch a falling bunch of asparagus.

I deserve an award or something. Or maybe my wife does.

Friday, January 27, 2012

They Pay You For That!?

I am an electrical engineer. We come in many different flavors but my particular specialty is electronic circuit design. Lately, at work, I have been designing a new circuit and have been working on the schematics. At dinner last night, I was telling my wife that I have a review coming up next week and I was a little frustrated that at work that day, a change had been made to the requirements meaning that I had to update the schematics.

My six year old daughter looked at me and asked, "What's a meschatic?"

I explained, "A schematic is a drawing of an electrical circuit. It tells people how to make it so that electricity goes the way we want and does what we want it to do."

I pointed at the light above us. "This light is an electric circuit. So is the computer. Some circuits are simple like this light and some are complex like the computer. I make complex ones that go in missiles."

She looked at me with wonder in her eyes. "You draw all day at work!?"

Yes. Yes I do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This One's For You, Mrawmins

Found in a candy shop at the end of pier 39 in San Francisco. Let the gathering of Israel commence... in my belly.