Friday, January 08, 2016

CodeMash 2016

The Evil Genius family got a terrific chance at a basically free vacation, when Mr. BTEG's company arranged to send him to CodeMash, a convention for computer developers, that is held yearly at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, OH. Mr. BTEG got a four-person room, and since that entitled him to up to four waterpark passes, the Musician, the Dancer, and I came along. It was not only a great opportunity for a vacation, but family participation is encouraged with KidzMash, "a free family track for the spouses and families of attendees."

The Good:
Free-to-us getaway, as noted above

The Musician and the Dancer got time to interact with all kinds of adults in technology fields, and take part in activities such as helping Daddy build a NodeBot. Most of the KidzMash activities were designed for much smaller children, but the girls were very welcome in anything that was not an official lecture or class. The Musician's outgoing and vivacious personality really shone through here. Since the Dancer is still thinking of studying STEM in college, it was a fantastic chance for her to get a closer look at technology opportunities, and meet lots of adults in the field. They also got to do some fun things like play Settlers of Catan.

Parts of the waterpark were really fun. The girls enjoyed the wave pool. I got to ride the Zip Coaster, a kind of roller coaster in a water slide tube, which was fun for this roller coaster enthusiast.

The Bad:

I got bored with the water park very quickly. I enjoy the lazy river ride at Great Wolf Lodge, and expected to find a really great lazy river at Kalahari, since it is a much bigger water park. But it wasn't really any longer than the one at GWL, and it was chilly! GWL likes to stress how warm their waterpark is, and I can see why now that I've been in the Kalahari one. Not only was I shivering in the lazy river, but there are several places where water splashes down on you, which does not help with the chill. Another reason I didn't enjoy the water park as much as I would have liked was because:

The air was very dry. After only several hours in the park, my legs were dry and itchy. I would have liked to have gone on the Zip Coaster again, or tried out a few other things, but I didn't want to make my skin irritation worse. I do have sensitive skin, but even though Mr. BTEG hadn't gone in the water park yet, his hands were drying out after a couple of days. I can see that they would not want to have the area outside the water park feel overly humid, but they went too far and dried the air out too much, especially for the winter months.

The food was so-so. One of the fun things about going to an indoor water park like GWL or Kalahari during the winter months, is that everything is self-contained: your lodging, your meals and entertaining activities. It's great fun not to have to venture out into cold or snow for a few days. I'm a picky eater, but even so, with all the different places to eat in Kalahari, there was nothing special for any of us. We quickly discovered that the food options were essentially the same. The food at the cafe by the arcade was the cheapest and lowest quality; the upscale restaurant was the most expensive and best quality, but that was about it. Mr. BTEG found the catered lunches for attendees much more interesting than the restaurant food. Also frustrating was that one of the restaurants, the buffet, was closed for the week, although the park was at or close to maximum capacity for the entire week. This leads us into:

The Ugly

On Wednesday night, Mr. BTEG, the Dancer, and I went to the mid-priced restaurant to grab something to eat. There was a line to be seated, despite the restaurant being half-empty. The hostess mumbled something about everybody from the convention coming in to eat. Well, what did they expect? They had a very good handle of how many people were at the hotel, given that most people got a water park bracelet. This is the 10th year that the convention has been held at Kalahari. The schedule includes lectures during the day, and social activities at night. Many people are going to come for dinner in between those times. There are a few other outside restaurants in that area, but really, shouldn't Kalahari want you to stay and eat at their places? Plus, as I mentioned above, although the weather has been blessedly snow-free, it was rather cold. It was a very appealing option to just stay inside.

After a wait to be seated, we then had to wait for our waitress, who had probably just come on shift. We sat and watched the line to be seated wax and wane, until we noticed the table behind us was getting food. Unfortunately, the people at that table had decided to leave a while ago. At this point we realized that not only had we ordered our food before that table, but it had been forty minutes since we had ordered, and we hadn't even received our appetizer in that time. The manager did give us our entire meal for free, but the whole thing was just a big mess that should have been avoided by having enough staff on hand.

The first night, the Dancer and I grabbed something small in the cafe that was next to the arcade. It was dimly lit, and there was some kind of pipe making noise the entire time we were there, that made it difficult for the Dancer and I to hold a conversation. The cafe didn't look any brighter any of the other times we walked past it, which we did a lot, because:

You have to walk through the arcade to get to the water park. Not only is this over-the-top marketing to try to get you to play games in the arcade, it was unpleasant to have to wend your way through arcade games to get where you were going, every single time. The Dancer and I especially found all the lights, noises and garish colors to be over-stimulating.

The lazy river decor was literally ugly. There were about ten hyena statues placed at intervals around the lazy river. Hyenas are ugly animals, and that was pretty much all there was to look at going around the lazy river. At one point, there were a couple of hyenas that looked ready to take on an alligator, which wasn't really much fun to look at either. I don't know; it was like they got some hyena statues cheap and just decided to throw them there.


So to sum it up, the girls and Mr. BTEG did have a good time at the CodeMash part of the week. I got bored and came home Wednesday night; they will be there until late tonight. I was expecting Kalahari to be so much more, since it is so much bigger than its neighbor down the street, Great Wolf Lodge, but it really wasn't. It probably is at least more fun in the summer, when all the outdoor activities are open too. It was refreshing to get away for a couple of days at least (we got there Monday night) so there's that.



Sunday, January 03, 2016

Christmas Gift Sewing

One of the things I love about sewing is being able to make gifts for others. This Christmas, I decided to make an ice skating dress for my niece, who is taking skating lessons. I used a Jalie pattern, because they offer so many active wear patterns in so many sizes. I had already used one of their patterns to make some dance shorts for the Dancer, too. This time, I ordered directly from the company, and bought some patterns as PDFs. Putting all the pieces of this pattern on 8 1/2" x 11" paper together was a pain, but the pattern did sew up wonderfully. We have a large format printer at home; I would love to be able to get patterns that will work on it.

Anyway, here are two pictures of the outfit. My niece loved it, so I'm happy.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

As I write this, it's just turned December 31st. One more day until the New Year! Don't be fooled by my "new" header. It was taken many years ago, during a winter where we actually had snow. Supposedly we are going to get real winter weather in January and February, but I certainly enjoyed the mild weather of December. I'm looking to blog again regularly in 2016. Hopefully I will have some readers around. :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Great Product Placement

It's not as great as putting chocolate in the aisle with the... women's stuff. But it's great if you like BLTs.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Digging Through the Past

Has it been a rainy late spring/early summer where you live? It certainly has been here. Many of the homes in NE Ohio have basements, which can flood easily in these conditions. My mother's basement, in the house I grew up in, floods very easily, water even coming up through the floor. So my two sisters and I, my daughter the Dancer, and my niece, went through my mom's basement on Saturday, cleaning items out in preparation for some new waterproofing. And to rescue items from the damp and mildew. Yuck! (Not to mention two dead mice in a trap. Fortunately, Mr. BTEG was around by that time to dispose of them.)

There were lots of cool things down there, and some things that should have been disposed of long ago. There were also some things that didn't belong in high humidity, like a picture of a family member from around the turn of the century. Some old newspapers headlining the Allies' victory in Europe, and the first moon landing, were saved by being in a cedar chest. My mother found her high school diploma, graduation tassel, and class picture. We also discovered two pairs of wooden shoes and a white Dutch cap from my mother's visits to Holland, Michigan, where they still promote the Netherlands. Several hats belonging to my grandmother, and a pair of my sister's old character shoes, are going to our local high school drama club. My sisters and I also found a lot of things that were ours when we were girls. There was lots of laughing over old times. I don't want to go through all that work again anytime soon, though, especially not in a humid basement!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

All That I Need, To Support This Body and Life

The above is a quote from Luther's Small Catechism, at least the version that I learned from. I suppose it made sense to update the language, but at the same time it was odd for my daughters to be learning something from different from what I had memorized.

I've mentioned before how one of my medicines can elevate cholesterol. My try to switch to a different medication didn't work out, so my psychiatrist has me get a complete blood panel every year. This time, the results showed that I am very low on Vitamin D, so I have to take high units of Vitamin D pills, and I'm also taking fish oil in an attempt to help the triglycerides. I also have to find a primary doctor, again. During the past few years, every primary doctor I've had has left local practice. I imagine being a specialist might be more rewarding. I also need to get walking again. Summer in northeast Ohio is not exactly conducive to outdoor exercise because of the humidity, but I'm trying to walk later in the evening, when at least the sun is mostly down. Such a delicate dance to maintain health!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What's Been Keeping Me Busy


My daughter The Dancer and Mr. BTEG went to the Origins gamer convention in Columbus, Ohio last week. The Dancer wanted to cosplay as Princess Anna from Frozen, so I put together this costume for her. She and her daddy did the painting on the front of the bodice (as well as the back.)

Oh, and Mr. BTEG also had his gall bladder removed last month. That was a thing that took up a bit of my time as well.