Bathroom Tile Project — Victory!

Some time in the winter we managed to finish redoing our other bathroom, the one in the hall. We did the actual tiling in one marathon session back in February, and then grouting the following weekend, and then sealing and painting and installing new fixtures here and there after that. Along the way my old power drill died and I had to get a new one. Always something. We put the finishing touches on last Saturday, meeting our goal of completing the project by Easter. Or close enough anyway; we are declaring victory. All that remains is to get a new pair of handles on the cabinet door to go with the new towel bars.

You might think it looks just like the other bathroom, and indeed it’s meant to be stylistically consistent, but this one is blue and that on is green. Nice, huh? Well the photos don’t really do it justice, with the artificial lighting, but take my word for it, it’s nice. In any event, now that we’ve gotten good at tiling, it’s a job we may never have to do again.

Werk: MyNick NickPages

So what, you ask, is this fabulous project that has taken over the great part of my time and mind lo these long winter months? At last it can be revealed in all it’s great big grand fabulousness and fabulousity, as it went live a couple weeks ago and the kinks have pretty much been ironed out. It’s the new NickPages on MyNick. Kids can come and make their own customized, personalized home pages at and load them up with their favorite characters and widgets with things like buddies and favorite shows. At some point in the future I’ll write a post about the enormous learning curve that is the Flex API (a huge portion of the project was in developing frameworks, something the kids won’t ever see or grok), but for now suffice it to say we got there, and we’re gonna be adding a bunch more modules and features soon. A shout out to Moshe, Laura, Dhimiter, Dave, Alex and everyone else on the team. Here’s a sampling of same pages the first wave of kids have created. Check out some of these pages:

And while you’re at it, why not go join the fun and make your own?


One of the few things I really love about winter is skiing, so I was really happy that we finally had a chance to go this year. Technically, we went skiing way back in December at a local hill near my parent’s house, but that barely counts cuz the main purpose of that trip was to introduce the girls to skiing, and mostly they took a lesson and I took a few slushy runs down a very short slope. I don’t think Jeannie ever even put her skis on. Still, it accomplished it’s primary goal, and Lizzy took to it, and Michelle liked the idea although did not do so well on the rope tow.

Then January and February flew by in a blur as I worked alot weekends and I had an injured foot anyway, so, like, whatever. Finally, with my project gone live and back to a normal schedule I was determined to have a real day skiing before winter’s end. Lizzy was thrilled, but Michelle decided she didn’t want to come, so we spilt the kids up, which turned out to be the perfect move. It’s something we rarely do, but they’re really at different levels, and Michelle had a great time with Nana and Poppy.

Of course the other wild card was the weather. The day before was pouring rain and stormy, to the point where my friend Nick had major flooding issues with his new basement, and my next door neighbor lost a chunk of his garage roof, and we had a rather heavy fallout of tree branches in our yard. But then it turned freezing overnight, so we went to bed hoping for the best. We got up way early, a problem made worse by the fact our government, in keeping with its recent trend of terrible policy making, decreed that this was the night we’d move our clocks ahead instead of a more sensible date in April. So off we went.

It turned out to be great day for skiing. The weather was in the upper 20’s and amazingly they had groomed large amounts of the mountain to decent conditions. The place we picked to go was Catamount, in the Berkshires in Massachusetts , about 100 miles from our house. They’re not a huge mountain, but big enough to be fun. Another nice thing about it is you can park close to the lodge. We started with Lizzy on the bunny hill, and discovered they had a conveyer belt instead of a tow rope. Michelle will be thrilled to hear about this. Lizzy took a lesson, and by the time she was done she’d been up the chair lift and down a real slope. Meanwhile Jeannie and I got in a bunch of good runs. One of the nice thing about Catamount is alot of the trails wind thru the trees, and my last run was very peaceful (and high-speed), as I was the only one on the trail. Perfect moment of ski Zen.

After lunch we spent our time with Lizzy and she was doing great zigzagging down the hill. She really wanted to make it the whole way down with out falling, and was well on her way, but toward the bottom she picked up some speed and the wind came up, and she almost lost her hat, and in saving her hat she lost her balance. I told her if that happened again just let the hat go; I was right behind and would grab it. Shaw’nuff next run the same happened, and she let her hat go, and made it to the bottom, quite triumphantly!

So that was it, now I’m ready for spring. As luck would have it, the weather is getting milder, and our government, going against its recent trend of deplorable policymaking, rolled back the clocks a month earlier than usual, so even though I’m getting up before it’s light out again, today I got to go out for a bike ride after work in the daylight.

Origami Sunday: Origami From Space

It’s that time of year again. Sunday I taught one of origami models at Special Folding Sessions at the American Museum of Natural History. The girls were all excited about it and spent a good part of Saturday making a bunch of origami as a warm up. I was crunched for prep time but was able to fold my chosen model from memory Friday night and print out some CP’s Saturday.

This year we did the whole thing pretty well as far as the timing goes. We were up late the night before grouting or newly tiled bathroom (more on that in another post) so we weren’t in a hurry to get to the Museum early. We did have time to hit some of the highlights, including the awesome dinosaur hall, the elephant hall, the whale room and the space center. The kids really dug it. Lizzy brought her camera and everything. Michelle says she wants to have her birthday there.

It occurred to me that the museum is also a meta-museum of sorts, a museum about the idea of what it is to be a museum. It was very state-of-the art 100 some odd years ago, with it’s halls of skeletons and taxidermy and broad marble staircases, all of an age preceding television and multimedia nature documentaries and elevators and even electricity. And an age of different values, too: it certainly would cause an outrage if someone were to go out and shoot all those animals nowadays. It remains the archetype for every other Science and Natural History museum I’ve ever been to (I still remember vividly my first trip to the Buffalo Museum of Science as a child), and yet the format, rather than being some quaint anachronism, is strangely enduring and compelling. I guess that’s what I means to be an institution.

It also occurs to me that as a home for the origami society is strangely fitting, in that exotic animals, modern and extinct are enduring subjects for origami, and in fact a great exercise would be to spend a day walking around the museum folding pretty much anything you see.

Which brings me to my class. The model I chose to teach was my UFO. This is part of my Origami From Space series, along with my Rocket Ship. The model is based on polar coordinates, and has a few tricks which have not seen anywhere else, including the method for creating the central dome. IMHO it is a very elegant model; the final form is just right to my eyes, and it is efficient in both it’s use of paper and the folding sequence. I consistently get compliments on it. However, it turns out to be very difficult to fold because so much of it is in 3-D and you have to be able to visualize it in 3-D even in the prefolding. This is the second time I’ve taught my UFO, and folders of a certain level seem to get it , and arriving at the finished model seems rewarding. So congratulations for seeing thru to the end, and nice work!