Dec 12

Treecam is back

Posted by Matty

The treecam is live for another Christmas Holiday. If you want to get right to it, head over to and get started. You’ll need to type in guest as the user name and password to gain access. It should work on most modern browsers and smartphones.

The setup this year is about the same as last year, with the addition of a ticker that displays the location of the ten most recent visitors. It’s been cool to see people stop in from all over the globe! This was fun to code, and works by looking up the IP address of each visitor after they log in.

This year has been fun. Evie and Kaylee have both spent time playing in front of the camera, interacting with friends and family. Something new this year… I’ve been occasionally activating the microphone, so that family can hear Evie sing holiday classics like “Restless Sloppy Dog” (Feliz Navidad). The microphone only works in IE currently, but I may try to reverse engineer the activex control to bring the same functionality to other browsers.

We decided to use our old artificial tree this year, since Max and Lola both are actively trying to knock it over every night. Every morning, Nanc or I gather the fallen ornaments, and try to piece the tree back together. Hopefully next year we’ll be able to use a live tree again.

Since the resolution of the camera isn’t great, here are some snapshots of the different items that you can interact with.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Apr 30

Oh,… and we had a baby

Posted by Nanc

March 20, nearly six weeks ago, I gave birth to our baby girl Kaylee Sue. She is beautiful and wonderful and a joy in the way that newborns are joyous. (Which is to say, very different from the joy of a 3-year old. Very different.)


My plan (hope, expectation, wish) was to post pictures and the birth story and all that lovely jazz that people more creative/less exhausted than me have done. But that didn’t happen. Instead, you’re getting a post six weeks into it.

During these exciting and sleep-deprived weeks, we’ve been blessed with visits from some of our wonderful families to help welcome Kaylee into our lives. I also give props to their families: spouses gave up their partners, children missed their Mommy or Daddy, and households were single-parented for a week.

I’m certain that Kaylee enjoyed these visits as she was held and loved on near constantly, and who wouldn’t love that? But Evie really got the win with these visits: special games and attention, treats and gifts, and all the stories read to her that she could stand (or could be fit in before nap/bed times)!


Also… each of these guests had their own superpower during their visit. (Is it right to call them guests when they worked so hard while they were here?) I plan to focus on these visits and how they were extra special in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, say hello to Kaylee Sue!


Mar 14

Testing, testing… 123

Posted by Nanc

This blog has been quiet for quite some time, but I think we’re gearing up to use it again. There are some big changes that are coming down the pike, namely a new babe!

I love how a blog can be used to keep family and friends in touch with our lives, even if it’s a little impersonal. (Hey, I can’t call or write everyone about every little fun or fragile detail.) I also love how a blog can become a personal record of our lives: special moments, creative projects, recipes, and silly moments.

There are, of course, social network sites (Facebook), but a blog allows me to stretch out a bit and ramble on if I want. (This post, for example.)

So get ready for some posts and updates here as well as some flashes from the last year. (We might not have been posting updates, but life certainly continued!)


Apr 28

Here’s a couple of pictures from our recent trip with the Eagle family to visit Dinosaur World in Glen Rose, Texas.

All of these pictures are in stereo, so now is the time to dig out those red/blue glasses (or the stereoscopic viewer of your choice!).

3d pix of Dinosaur World

Mar 15

Cookie Science!

Posted by Matty

Our house has been inundated with sugar lately, thanks to the Girl Scouts peddling cookies outside of the grocery store. We all buy boxes of cookies, but how much do we really know about these delicious treats? In this article, we perform some scientific analysis of Girl Scout Cookies and try to determine if there are adequate substitutes available.


My sister recently reminded me of something that I’d forgotten. Namely, that Keebler sells clones of two of the more popular Girl Scout cookies: Thin Mints and Samoas. I wanted to run some comparisons. How close are they? Can people tell the difference? Does one version taste better than the other? Inquiring minds want to know.

Mint Cookies

Mint Cookies

Coconut cookies

Coconut cookies

Testing Methodology

In order to find out the answer, I performed a small blind study. It was easy to find test subjects using the following line, “Hey, do you want to eat some free cookies for science?” In total 12 tests were performed. There is the possibility of a high margin of error with such a small test group. Further testing may be necessary. (Nom nom nom.)

Test subjects were given four cookies labeled A, B, C, and D. While eating each cookie, the subjects completed a small questionnaire which allowed the respondents to rate each cookie on a scale of one to five (where one is least flavorful, and five is most delicious). The matrix included:

  • Coconuttiness/Mintiness
  • Taste/flavor
  • Texture
  • Chocolateness
  • Overall taste

In addition, each test subject was asked to guess whether the cookie was the Girl Scout version or the Keebler version.


Here are the results.

Cost Analysis

Thin Mints cost$3.50 for a box of 32, while Grasshoppers cost $1.99 for a box of 40. At the time of testing, Grasshoppers were on sale at my local store. Your cost may differ. The cost per Thin Mint is approximately 11 cents, while the cost per Grasshopper is approximately 5 cents.

Samoas cost $3.50 for a box of 15, while Coconut Dreams cost 1.99 for a box of 18. At the time of testing, Coconut dreams were on sale at my local store. Your cost may differ. The cost per Samoa is approximately 23 cents, while the cost per Coconut Dream is approximately 11 cents.

Charitable donations

I looked into the proceeds from the sale of the cookies. Approximately 70% of the proceeds of the Girl Scout cookies go to support the Girl Scouts organization at the national and local level. Proceeds from Keebler seem to directly benefit Keebler.


Testing results: Mint

The results of the mint cookie testing showed that more people preferred the taste profile of Grasshopper cookies. In every category tested, Keebler Grasshoppers showed a distinct advantage.


Testing Results: Coconut

The results of the coconut cookie testing showed that more people preferred the taste profile of Samoas. While both cookies tied for coconut flavor, the Samoas rated higher in every other category.


Testing Results: Identification

During testing, each subject was asked to provide their best guess as to which cookie they were eating: either the Girl Scout cookie, or the Keebler variant.

Out of the two choices, subjects responded correctly 50% of the time. In other words, no, people can’t differentiate between the Girl Scout cookies and the Keebler counterparts.


If you are interested in enriching the lives of girls by helping them learn values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence, and citizenship, then the choice is clear: buy Girl Scout cookies. Through your gluttony, you’re helping the world become a better place.

However, if Girl Scout cookies are not available, the Keebler clones are a good substitute.

Test Administrator

Test Administrator

Dec 24

It’s that time of year again. We’ve got the eggnog, Elvis Christmas CD and a yule log ready to go. We’ve also got the semi-annual interactive treecam up and running.

Stop by to say hi, or to control the tree lights and other decorations in our living room. We’ll be around most of the next few days. You might even catch us or Evie playing in the living room! The camera is up 24 hours a day until after Christmas.

New stuff this year includes an iPhone-friendly version and a way to leave comments.

Sep 7

This weekend, we drove up to Northern Missouri for Christina and Jesse’s wedding reception. There are pictures at the bottom of the page.

There’s a little backstory here…

We’ve been friends with both of them for many years. Last year they sat down with us for an important discussion. Christina said that she and Jesse both treasured our friendship. Uh oh. I knew that she was buttering us up for something. They said many flattering things that my Midwestern sense of modesty will not allow me to repeat, but rest assured, we were very flattered. Then, they asked if one of us would be willing to become certified to officiate a wedding ceremony, and marry them.

I said yes immediately. Jesse and Christina are wonderfully matched. They make each other very happy and you can see it in their faces every time they are together.

In March of this year they came down to Texas and I married them in a small private ceremony, according to their wishes.

To celebrate their wedding, Christina’s Dad and Stepmom wanted to throw them a party. Plans were made, cakes were baked, and relatives descended on the small hamlet of Knob Noster, Missouri.

It was about a 1000 mile round trip. I was a little worried as to how Evie would handle such a long trip, but she traveled like a pro. For the most part, we tried to do the driving while she slept. We also made sure to allow time out for playgrounds, parks, and other places for Evie to stretch her wee tiny legs.

We left Texas Friday night, and made it up to Big Cabin, OK and then finished up the driving on Saturday afternoon during Evie’s nap.

Once we got there, we got to meet a number of Christina’s family that we’d heard about for years, including her Dad and siblings. We also got to spend some time with Jesse’s Mom and Stepdad who had flown in from Connecticut!

Evie had a great time at the farm, and has us rethinking our suburban lifestyle. She got to play with puppies, eat cherry tomatoes off the vine, and run around to her heart’s content.

On Sunday morning after a big brunch, we said our goodbyes, and got back into the car for the ride home. Evie napped in the car, and she woke up in Joplin, Missouri.

We’d done some research, and found a tiny amusement park on Route 66. It sort of looked like a traveling carnival that had stopped traveling and put down roots. Due to Evie’s diminutive stature, she was only allowed to ride on three rides, but she had a lot of fun on the train, carousel, and the birds.

After a few hours of activities and a steak dinner, she was tired out. We finished driving home, finally getting home late on Sunday night.

Sep 6

So, we just got back from a 1000 mile roadtrip–Evie’s longest car trip to date. A fee days before the trip, I realized that we would need an E.D.D. (an Evie Distraction Device). I planned to do most of the driving while she was sleeping, but kids have a nasty penchant for being unpredictable.

Recently, she’s taken an interest in Blue’s Clues. Nancy’s mom sent us a few VHS tapes of various kiddie shows, and Evie loved Blue’s Clues!

Yes. I could’ve gone out and bought a DVD player for the car, but I wasn’t confided that I would be able to find DVDs of a 15 year old show.

The day before we left, I came up with a plan. I had a tiny DVR laying around that I picked up a couple of years ago. So I converted the programs and loaded them on the device. I understand that some DVD players have a tough time with the car (bumpy roads causing skips) and I wanted to avoid that. Since the DVR has a hard drive, I figured it would be okay.

The next problem was how to attach it in such a way that wouldn’t damage the car. I wanted it to be very secure, too. I didn’t want Evie to get bonked by flying electronics!

With only a few hours to spare, I hit upon a solution. I took an old laptop sleeve and covered it with industrial strength Velcro. The sleeve was the perfect size to fit snugly on the headrest. Then I put velcro on the back of the DVR and added some additional speakers for good measure. It worked far better than I hoped, and we will definitely use this again in the future. It didn’t get a lot of use, but it was a lifesaver for everyone’s sanity.

As an additional note, I picked up this dual USB charger that plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter at a truck stop. It’s wonderful. We can charge iPhones, eBook readers, DVRs and more while rollin down the road.

Aug 16

Here’s a couple of 3d pictures from our summer. You can view these pictures in a boggling array of formats, so if you’ve got a pair of 3-d glasses laying around, pull ’em out. You can even try to cross your eyes to see them!

Gallery 1: MakerFaire:Detroit

Gallery 2: Splashpad

Gallery 3: New Hampshire

Apr 27


Posted by Matty

Here’s a couple recent pictures of Evie for you.

Evie on the sidewalk in front of our house.

Evie on the sidewalk in front of our house.