Winter Carnival 2012

Spent the morning at the winter carnival in downtown Saint Paul. It was a good day for it: chilly, but sunny with little wind. In addition to a lot of amazing ice sculptures (and the chance to watch the artists at work), there was a high-tech angle too: a robotic snowplow race! Fresh donuts and hot chocolate were welcome too.

Forgot to bring the good camera, so these are from the iPhone.

Griffin on the Ice Throne
Ice bar
Ice sculpture
Andrew's highlight: the robotic snowplow competition!

The Princesses and the Potty

The Pink Potty Hook

It looks fairly innocent, but this bit of pink plastic had us stumped for a week. For those of you who don’t immediately recognize it, it is a potty hook: a place to hang the kid-sized potty seat when it’s not in use. As usual with most kids’ stuff, they only come in insanely gendered versions—I can’t remember if Griffin chose this because of the hot pink, one of his favorite colors, or if the boy stuff was out of stock that day.

Last week, in the interest of science, Griffin and his good friend Zoe sent these princesses on a nautical expedition to explore the ever-fascinating sewers beneath the toilet. Alas, like Shackleton in Antarctica, the Pink Potty Hook did not make it very far. It is the perfect size for vanishing down the mysterious potty hole, but not nimble enough to traverse the narrow, treacherous bends beyond. At this point the stymied (but gleeful) young scientists turned the experiment over to their elders.

How to rescue the princesses and, hopefully, return the potty to functionality? It was a surprisingly daunting challenge. Unlike an average blockage, this shipwreck resisted the plunger and was beyond the reach of simple grasping gadgets (or even fingers… yes, we tried). More advanced tools, such as wire clothes hangers, were equally impotent.

After a week of failed attempts, we determined that nothing less than a radical solution would succeed. We shut the water off, drained the tank and bowl, and removed the entire commode. Even then we could neither see nor reach the wreck from either direction. Grandpa Jeff, our toiletless houseguest, suggested the winning strategy: a length of plastic hose. From beneath it was flexible enough to snake up the passage but stiff enough to push the Pink Potty Hook back out.

The treacherous narrows where the Pink Potty Hook was shipwrecked for more than a week.

In total, this adventure cost us a mere $11 (replacement wax seal and floor bolts), far less than a plumber’s fee. Moreover, we learned that toilets have more bark than bite—they are not nearly as intimidating as they seem. As an added bonus, the usually dubious territories behind and beneath the toilet are immaculately clean.

The three princesses (captain, first mate, and bosun?) happily survived the soggy ordeal, necks still coyly bent and coiffures unsullied.

Three Princesses

Best message of the New Year

Griffin called and left me this voicemail message on Thursday. It’s just a simple message about going to the park, but shows how much his language has developed recently. I’ve been listening to it over and over, so I decided to figure out how to transfer it from my phone to a permanent audio file to share. Click on the MP3 link below to hear it.

Griffin Voicemail.mp3


Hi! Hi Daddy, I’m riding my bike to Mattocks park and then ride back home and then all the way over there. See you later. Bye bye.

Geek details: Weirdly difficult to transfer a voicemail message to your computer from an iPhone. I just assumed there would be a “forward” button where I could email it to myself, but no. You can access the file directly if you jailbreak your phone, but otherwise you have to use an audio cable and record it into your computer. I used Audacity to record the file, clipped dead air off the ends and then exported as an MP3.