Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Puzzle for 2012 - Snowflake Maze

Our annual Christmas puzzle is available now. It's a fun maze in the shape of a snowflake. As in prior years, the reward for solving is a video Christmas card, but you'll need to figure out the password by solving the puzzle.

Note: If you need some help, the full answer is posted here, but try solving it without help first... it's more fun that way.

Feel free to add a comment below to let us know that you successfully figured it out (without giving away the answer to others). We are always looking for new ideas for next year's Christmas puzzle, so submit those too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Costume Theme: The Four Seasons

For our 14th year of dressing up for Halloween, we chose a theme that is ideal for a group of 4: The Four Seasons.

This is now our 14th year of dressing in costumes together. Our theme this year was "The Four Seasons" with Amara dressed as "Spring" (a butterfly), Jason dressed as "Summer" (a surfer), Felicia dressed as "Autumn" (a tree) and Blaine dressed as "Winter" (a snowman).

As always, all our costumers are completely homemade. Felicia sewed Amara's black shirt and leggings. Blaine constructed the butterfly wings using wire which Felicia covered in fabric. Notice how there are actually fore and hind wings (top and bottom). We then decorated the front and back with fabric and paint, constructed a harness from a deconstructed backpack and attached the wings. The wings were attached so that they could actually pivot back and forth like real wings.

Jason's shirt was sewn by Felicia using a shark-pattern fabric and matching fish buttons. Blaine constructed the surfboard using a foam core surrounded by cardboard, and added a tail fin to the bottom. The board was primed, then spray-painted yellow and finally the shades of blue and black were added. After all that dried, a final layer of urethane was applied to give it a nice glossy sheen.

Felicia sewed her vintage dress with a yoke and large scooping sleeves which were lined with a satin fabric. The dress was then decorated with strands of fall leaves. Felicia also constructed a headpiece with several additional leaves to complete the look.

Blaine's snowman costume started as embroidery hoops which were linked by curved wire. Additional wires were added to complete the shape. On top of that, he added felt around any wire ends and added two layers of batting with hot glue. Felicia sewed a couple of cylinders made out of fleece fabric with drawstrings on top and bottom. These were cinched up to cover each of the snowballs. The final details were a set of 3 large black buttons, a nose out of orange posterboard, a hat with added ribbon and winter berries and finally mittens and a scarf sewn by Felicia.

We won several individual prizes and as well as a prize for our group theme. Apart from that, it was just a lot of fun parading around and seeing people react. It was always fun when people finally put the puzzle together and figured out our theme.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Photos of the Transit of Venus, extremely rare event!

To safely view the Transit of Venus, we set up a pair of binoculars and projected the image of the sun onto a flat surface. It was really exciting to see the image of the sun with a tiny black dot which was the planet Venus.

A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. The event is visible for several hours.

Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.

This transit of Venus occurred on June 5 in our location and is the last Venus transit of the 21st century. The prior transit took place on June 8, 2004. The previous pair of transits were in December 1874 and December 1882. The next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125.

Venus transits are historically of great scientific importance as they were used to gain the first realistic estimates of the size of the Solar System. In particular, observations of the 1639 transit, combined with the principle of parallax, provided an estimate of the distance between the Sun and the Earth that was more accurate than any other up to that time.

Click on the picture above to see more pictures from our observation of the Transit of Venus.