February 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
my our balance board on Christmas Day. Apparently the half inch wood couldn’t hold his 6 ft 4 frame. So I cajoled him into heading to the hardware store the next day to buy replacement parts and build a new, sturdier machine. This time he had me do all the sanding, so on Day Two Hundred Ninety-Three I used a belt sander for the first time.
It’s a pretty powerful machine. He made sure to let me know to turn it on before I joined it to the wood and after I began I could see why. It shot across the slab of wood clamped down to the table.
After I had finished sanding with the roughest grit, I switched to the smaller handheld sander and followed the process I had seen my brother adhere to on the creation of our first balance board. Eight different sanding pads later and my new board was as smooth as silk.
Hopefully this one won’t snap in half.
February 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
My Christmastime at home with the family was turning into a bonding weekend with my little brother. First he had taught me to longboard, then he built a balance board with me. On Day Two Hundred Ninety-Two Brad pulled out his paintball gun and for the first time, I fired it.
The recoil was nothing compared to my time at the shooting range. I shot off several balls of orange paint-filled balls in a row, aiming at the center of a wooden slab leaned against a tree in the backyard.
After my brother and I had a go, my parents each took a turn. My mom seemed a little too into it. Her face scrunched up in intent and her lips formed a solid line of concentration. By the time we had exhausted ourselves with paint balling, the wooden board and much of the flower bed around it was scattered with orange blobs.
I’ve never had a desire to play paintball on an actual course, but the ease of firing the gun sure did pique my interest. Add another new activity to my to-do list.
February 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
At the circus fitness class I attended many months ago I played on a wooden balance board. I had so much fun with it that I decided I should make one of my own. I found a basic how-to on wikihow and figured I would ask my dad, a man whose carpentry skills and equipment rival a cabinet maker, to help me. Instead, my brother stepped in and together on Day Two Hundred Ninety-One we built our own version of the machine.
While I had been out shopping with my father earlier in the day I picked up a four inch piece of PVC pipe from the hardware store. Brad had a leftover slab of half inch birch from a skateboard he had fashioned. Together with a jigsaw to round out the edges and a few wood screws, we were set.
Brad used the saw first to create a curved corner on the board. I followed afterwards with a hand-held vacuum, sucking up the sawdust. He allowed me to cut two of the corners and frankly, mine looked more symmetrical. Not that I’m competitive or anything.
Then we got to work with the sander, running the handheld device across the top and sides of the wood in succession from roughest to finest grit. It was kind of a single person job, so I left my brother to it while I headed inside to wrap my mother’s Christmas gifts.
After Brad had completed the tedious activity of sanding he called me back out to screw on a length of wood underneath the board. There were two skinny pieces of wood to act as stoppers at either end of the board, preventing an over zealous rider from rolling right off the edge of the cylinder.
Once the balance board was completed (and it looked beautiful), we headed inside to test it out on the living room carpet. I went first and was grateful for the extremely secure stoppers. Many times I nearly toppled off my perch.
Eventually I got the hang of it and over the weekend I spent much time rolling back and forth across the floor. I was almost an expert, although Brad was always slightly better than me. He has had a lot of practice being a longboarder and all.
February 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
My brother is really into longboarding. It’s like skateboarding, but the vehicle is elongated and riding it is more akin to snowboarding. The journey of a longboard is about sailing down winding hills rather than performing fancy tricks or flips (although you can do that as well). Brad had offered to let me test out his hobby several times over the past year, but knowing my tendency to fall, trip, bump, or injure myself, I’ve always declined. Until Day Two Hundred Ninety.
Brad outfitted me with his girlfriend’s borrowed safety equipment and board. Helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads. It did make me feel a little safer, but I still worried about falling on my ass. I asked if he had butt pads, but he didn’t think I was funny.
My brother quickly went through the “how to” portion instructing me to begin with my left foot pointed forward at the head of the board and then scraping the ground with my right, keeping my weight on the front leg to propel myself forward. I managed that easily enough, but questioned how I should rotate my left foot a ninety degree angle once I was finished scooting. Your feet are supposed to be parallel, right? I imagined all these pigeon-toed skaters who walk with their feet pointed inward.
After I had mastered the “take off” well enough, Brad told me to pull my right foot on the board, bend my knees, and continue to keep my weight on the front foot. I would steer with my ankles, shifting my body weight to veer left or right. That was the easy part, and quite frankly the most fun. I went up and down the gently sloped road leading to our parents’ house four or five times. I was a speed demon at five miles an hour. Exhilarated, I suggested we try a slightly steeper hill around the corner, but Brad turned me down, not believing I was the brilliant longboarder I knew in my heart I was. See for yourself:
September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
I was playing on my computer, going through the pictures on my iPhoto database for any blog-worthy images when I noticed the “Faces” folder in the top left-hand corner of the window. I had heard about this ability for the software to recognize people in your photographs by facial cues and decided to try it out as my new activity on Day One Hundred Fifty-Four.
Basically, the process goes like this: you tag subjects’ faces in various selected photographs and then the program searches the library for features that match. High-end technology there. Except that sometimes it got it wrong.
Not every man in my photo library looks like the preacher who married Shelley and Kenley. Seriously, Patrick, my dad, my brother, and generally any other white guy…the minister’s photo came up each time I tried to find the men in pictures.
And as for my own face, while the program managed to get it right most of the time, any other white girl who I happened to have a picture of would also be questioned. My friend Erin (who people have said I look like), the random girl at her wedding, Shelley, and even…and this was kind of funny…my brother. Maybe the facial recognition works considering we are siblings!
It really is quite unique to be able to find people in my thousands of pictures. However, I did find one important flaw in the program: it doesn’t recognize animals. I know, why should it, but I thought it was pretty funny tagging Murphy in all the photos I have of the pup and then seeing if maybe the program would get the idea. It didn’t.
August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
My brother turned 22 on the first of July. Because he lives in Charlotte (and I in Atlanta), we never really celebrated his momentous 21st birthday together. So in honor of us getting to spend a few days together during his visit on Day One Twenty-Seven I managed to find a new activity for both of: doing shots together.
I asked Brad what shot he would like, but he didn’t have enough bar life experience to choose anything except for a Jager Bomb. I didn’t fancy any red bull that late in the evening (post softball win, pre-sleep), so I suggested an Irish Car Bomb. He had never tried one and surprisingly agreed.
Both Brad and Rebecca seemed a bit uncertain once the half pint of Guinness and shot glass filled with Bailey’s and Jameson arrived. They asked how this was going to go and cringed when told that if they didn’t drink the concoction fast enough, the mixture would curdle. What a nasty word, that curdle.
We posed with the Bailey’s and Jameson filled shot glass and half pint of Guinness. Trepidation was etched across the young ones’ faces. We counted down together and dropped the milky liquid into the dark chocolate slush of Guinness. And drank.
Of course, I had done the car bomb before, so I knew what to expect. Drink fast before the dreaded curdle. Surprisingly, both Brad and Rebecca sucked down the juice just as quickly. They seemed to find the concoction tasty as far as I could tell; the response was, “Yeah, that was good” (in a slightly apathetic sounded early-twenties voice). We’ll see if he ever asks for another.
August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
For some reason, my little brother loves the Varsity. The times I’ve eaten at the iconic dinner include school trips and quick hunger fixes when I lived at the Georgia State dorms across the street. But for him, it’s a weird symbol of Atlanta and his childhood. Because my parents moved him to Charlotte NC before his first day of high school, he really knows nothing about living in Atlanta. I guess having lived pretty much downtown for the last ten years has made me more immune to the touristy venues my brother feels drawn to. Snobby much?
But what he loves most about the Varsity is the frosted orange frozen beverage. Never having tried the drink myself, I agreed to go along with him and his girlfriend Rebecca for dinner on their second evening in town.
We waited at the counter until a cashier hollered, “What’d ya have? What’d ya have?” I chose a hot dog, onion rings, and a small frosted orange delight. Rebecca got her food and a medium orange, Brad a large. We grabbed some Varsity hats to don for pictures.
Once we were settled, I stuck my straw into the strange swirl of pale orange and tasted the famous frozen drink. It tasted like the push-ups from my elementary school afternoon ice cream days. Orangey, but strangely creamy as well. Brad mentioned a creamsicle, and that was also a bang-on description. A liquid creamsicle.
I was only able to finish half of my small dessert beverage, but Brad was more than happy to take the rest. I could also see why Brad liked the place so much. It had a definite wave of nostalgia and childhood running through it.