Pi Day!

Whew! That was a close one. One of my favorite holidays of the year almost slipped right by me without me knowing. I guess that is what happens when the calendar industry is involved in a conspiracy against it.

March 14 or 3/14. Get it? 3.14. Like the ratio between the diameter and circumference of a circle. Totally awesome.

What is the best way to celebrate Pi Day? Well, first, you gotta eat some pie. Yes, I know it is spelled differently, but I don't questions the traditions that are passed down through the ages. Secondly, you should add one digit to your personal knowledge of pi. If 3.14 is all you know, annex a 15 to the end. For everyone else, here's a helpful start: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510 (that was from memory, thank you very much, except for the bold 71 that I missed. I guess I am slipping in my old age.)
Wednesday March 14 2007File under: holidays

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Poopy Duck

"Uncle Wren, can I have a poopy?"

"Not until after you finish your supper."

We all have our holiday traditions. Some are holdovers from when we were kids. Some we start when we start our own families. Some holiday traditions just sort of happen. I'm glad to see that the Poopy Duck tradition has made its way to a third generation of the Studer/Schultz clan.

Of all the holiday traditions I've known, Poopy Duck is far and away my favorite. Poopy is a crocheted duck who poops jelly beans. He makes his appearance about this time every year, a month or so before Easter. Visitors, both child and adult, are a bit apprehensive about the concept of eating candy coming out the back end of a duck, but they quickly overcome it. If you think you can handle it, stop by Chez du Wren and give ole Poopy a try.
Monday March 12 2007File under: holidays

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Another Word Game

What happens when you leave a computer programmer to his own devices? Well, first he watches a lot of movies. Then he recodes his blog. But soon, he feels the call of those sweet sweet algorithms, with their object orientated logic and structured syntax, and he can't handle it. He must write something.

Well, this is my something: Another Word Game. Inspired by boggle, Word Racer, and Wordy, the premise of this game struck me while lying in bed one morning. The object is to use up all the initial letters once while reusing letters as infrequently as possible. Points are awarded on length of word and number of reused squares.

To play, you need to have java installed. If you don't have it installed already, it is kind of a pain. Sorry about that. Also, it might not work on some Macs (I don't have a Mac to test it on.) Thanks to Andrew, gretch, marg, Saxtor, rus, Sara, Amanda, and Deanna for help with the testing. If you come up with any bugs, let me know. Enjoy!
Saturday March 10 2007File under: games, coding

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Post Number 100!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Blog du Wren has reached a milestone. This is the 100th post. It warms my heart to see how far it has come since it's humble beginnings. Together, we've shared announcements, travels, food, and double comments out the wazoo. In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought it might be fun to have a look at some of the statistics behind BdW.
Number of posts100
Days of BdW existence201
Average days per post2 (!)
Number of comments (including double comments)585
Average comments per post, excluding double comments and test comments5.6
Most prolific commmenter, excluding anonymous or otherwise misattributed commentsSaxtor
Number of comments by said commenter73
Other major commenters with number of commentsJule, 56; Mom, 45; Trista, 42; Andrew, 40; Horge 31
Approximate number of images posted (excluding externally hosted images)190

Thanks to everyone (readers, comments, beta-testers) who has helped make this the success that it is.
Thursday March 8 2007File under: blog, stats

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Scoot scoot scoot!

I bought a scooter. I've been toying with the idea ever since I got back from Asia (and well before (*cough* Honda Spree (twice))). After spending a lot of time looking through craigslist and the classified, I wasn't finding what I wanted. Through persistence, however, I found a place in Bellingham that had what I wanted: low(ish) size and power, non-automatic transmission but no clutch, decent gas mileage, and decent top speed. All of these came together in the Yumbo C110.

As the dealer tells it, this an replica of the old Honda Cub now made by some Chinese company. The speedometer and odometer are both in kilometers and the owner's manual is obvious translated, but both are no hill for a stepper. Now all that's left is for me to get a motorcycle endorsement on my license and I'll be good to go.

(Oh, and don't worry. I got a good helmet too.) For those gearheads out there, here are the specs:
Tuesday March 6 2007File under: transportation

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What a Weekend

As a non-member of the working world, the concept of a weekend is almost lost on me. Tuesday is Friday is Sunday. About the only differences between a Wednesday and a Saturday are the hours the stores are open and who is around to hang out with (oh, and Jeopardy is alway a rerun on Saturdays.) This weekend, however, felt different. Activities abounded. I'm aware of the fact that tomorrow in Monday. I almost even have a schedule to fall back into. But I digress.

Saturday was the Great Rubber Ducky Escapade, a geocaching event with an elaborate premise, treasure hunt, and pot luck. While the event required more driving and less hiking than I like in my geocaching adventures, it was neat to see so many other geocachers. Oh, and the free cookies didn't hurt either.

Sunday morning presented the opportunity to visit the Summit Park Grange for a fund raising pancake breakfast. The food was pretty alright, but the experience was top notch. Nothing makes you feel more appreciative of being young than spending a couple hours surrounded by people 40 years your elder.

To wind up the weekend, I ended up at a place I've driven by a hundred times and always wanted to visit, but never have; the Old Edison Inn. Talk of the epic table shuffle boards have almost made me pull off the road on many passes. Tonight, those shuffle board tables were conquered! Along with shuffling, there was live music, great friends, and good pub food.

I think I could really get used to this weekend thing.
Sunday March 4 2007File under: geocaching

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Guest Post du Mom

Since I have just returned to BdW headquarters from a month in New Zealand I have been invited to do a guest post to share my travels. See, I leave my children for a month and they suddenly get interested in me. I could wax poetic (if I could wax or be poetic) about the breathtaking beauty of New Zealand and the kindness of her people but I'll save the sappiness for the uncut version and try to hit some highlights. Flying into NZ gave me a sense of its awesome geology, eons of continental bumps and shakes are condensed into this small country-spiny-ridged mountain ranges; vast, lush, glacial valleys; lunarscape volcanic craters and plateaus with picture-perfect farms nestled in here and there. I hooked up with Kiwi native and good buddy Judith and we became far more intimate with this terrain on our 4-day tramp in the Marlborough Sound region of the South Island. We tramped the Cape Campbell Walkway following a goat track through grassy hills and sheep farms out to the eastern most point of the South Island. Lunch huts along the track were setup for proper tea and a chilled bottle of the local Sauvignon Blanc awaited us at each day-end farmstead. It was a challenging hike but fun and rewarding too.
Read more...
Thursday March 1 2007File under: travel, New Zealand

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BdW 2.0

I'm proud to announce the release of BdW 2.0. Upgraded features are:
*New(ish) look!
*New domain name (www.blogduwren.com)
*Quicker load times and no lagging comment loads
*Recent comments tracking
*Pagination for easy access to archives
*Better browser compatibility (yes, even for Macs)
*IP logging on comments (for all those anonymous commenters)
*New comment logging code (now with a 60% less chance for double posting!)
*Perma-link (because one of these posts is bound to make it to digg)

Because I coded everything myself (woot!), there might be some glitches in the switchover process. If you come across any bugs, please let me know (via the contact page). Otherwise, please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds as the nwlink address will no longer be current. I hope you enjoy!
Monday February 26 2007File under: blog

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Taste of Anacortes


Does any body remember the good old days in high school when we used to go to Mt. Vernon/Burlington on eating excursions where we'd visit 3 or 4 different restaurants and just indulge ourselves? Okay, for a lot of you, you prolly don't. And anyway, it's not important.

Last night, however, I was reminded of just such good old times while I was hopping from restaurant to restaurant during the Taste of Anacortes. Granted, the food and establishments were much nicer than the Taco Bell, McDonald's, etc. of those old, uninformed days. I caught myself somewhat hyperbolicly[sic] commenting, "This is the best night ever."

The deal was we cruised to 5 different restaurants (out of a possible 15) and had a little nosh at each. Listed below are the ones we chose and what each served.
Flounder Bay Cafe Choice of shrimp or chicken caesar salad or clam chowder
Aloha Bar and GrillSampler plate of BBQed pork(?), chicken, pasta salad, rice, pineapple, and passion-orange-guava juice
El JineteChili con carne with onions, cheese, and chips
AdriftTaco with sweet potato and lots of other goodness
Penguin Coffee12oz. drink of choice and cookie

The verdict: what a great way to spend a mid-week evening. I can't wait until next month to sample what other restaurants in the area have to offer.
Thursday February 22 2007File under: food, Anacortes

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Any Excuse for Potstickers

Chinese New Year was this past weekend, in case you missed it. From my sources still over in that part of the world, I hear it was a wicked good time. But just because I can't join in the authentic festivities over there doesn't mean I can't have a celebration of my own.

For my own little celebration of the Chinese New Year, I decided to make potsickers. Potstickers have been my favorite food ever since I was a wee lad, but it wasn't until lately that the family secret of how to make them was passed down to me. While over in China, I [extensively] studied how they were made and served (remember?). I didn't incorporate any of the eastern techniques this attempt, but I tried a few new approaches.

For the innards, I used a shrimp filling and a faux-sausage filling. (This year is the year of the pig, so I thought I might give those porkers a break.) Along with a somewhat non-traditional filling, I tried a varied of folding methods. The grocery bag, which the family recipe calls for, seemed to work best, although the triangle fold led to a crispier dumpling. Having the multiple fillings and multiple folds made for a great finished product. I was also able to freeze a bunch uncooked for next time. Yum!
Tuesday February 20 2007File under: food

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