Geek World Problems – Spray Ground Solutions

whovian-in-trainingFor the past week, JSL has been a bit grumpy.  It all started on my birthday.  As part of my birthday gifts, B and the boys got me a sonic screwdriver.  JSL decided that he loved it so much that he wanted one of his own.  Only, he wanted the tenth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.  Not the eleventh like I had.

At every opportunity, he’d remind us about his desire for his own sonic.  Every store we went to, he would inquire whether or not they carried Doctor Who merchandise.  If they did, he would complain loudly about how he wanted a sonic screwdriver SO MUCH!

I really felt for my little Whovian.  The geek in me wanted to buy him a sonic screwdriver – or at least let him use some of his saved up gift card money to buy one.  The parent in me, however, knew how this would proceed.  He would play with the sonic screwdriver for a few days – a week tops – and then it would get dropped in the heap of toys that he ignores when he complains about how bored he is.

(As a side note: This is the second Doctor Who-related obsession.  Before my birthday, he wanted bow ties to give to his stuffed animals… and he wanted REAL bow ties from the men’s department.  Whovian or not, I wasn’t going to spend $35 each on stuffed animal bow ties!  Thankfully, this demand seems to have died down.)

Yesterday was particularly bad.  I took JSL out to look for some presents for his brother’s upcoming birthday.  We were hunting some blind bag Doctor Who figures that NHL had expressed a desire for.  Unfortunately, they were sold out as is every other place in the area.  (We’d order them online, but for items like this the shipping can cost as much as the item itself.  Besides, he’s getting something else Doctor Who for his birthday – shhhhhh!)

JSL did not take this shopping trip well.  Here we were standing in a store with loads of Doctor Who items and I was steadfastly refusing to buy him anything.  What’s more, I was adding insult to injury by implying that we might buy multiple things for NHL.  What a horrible dad I am!

JSL was in such a horrid mood that we went home immediately and he got sent to his room to calm down.  After awhile, we thought that perhaps an outdoor activity was warranted.  After all, it was sunny and warm out.  Summer doesn’t last forever and we need to take advantage of these warm days while we can.  So we went to a local spray grounds.

A magical transformation occurred as we headed out.  Gone was Grumpy JSL and in his place was Happy JSL.  The boys splashed, ran, and had a massive amount of fun.  I only found myself wishing that they would be so enthusiastic about water pouring over their heads when they were in the shower as when they were at the spray grounds.


Sadly, spray ground fun can’t last forever and we did head home.  Even more sadly, the spray ground high didn’t last.  Soon enough, Grumpy Whovian JSL was back bemoaning his lack of a sonic screwdriver.

At this point, I’m thinking that I need to look through Pinterest for make-your-own sonic screwdriver ideas.  Perhaps modeling clay with sparkles (for the "light") or something similar.  Sure, it won’t look exactly like the show’s, it won’t light up, and it won’t make sounds.  However, it also won’t need batteries and will be something they make themselves.  This might make it even more special to them.  We might wind up gathering around the TV for the next episode of Doctor Who with all of our sonic screwdrivers in hand.

A Doctor Who/Dole Whip-seeking/Mini-Golfing/Chocolate-Cakey Birthday

Saturday was my birthday.  I awoke a 38 year old thinking about how far I’ve come.  Ten years ago, I was a father to be.  Six years ago, I had just become a father for the second time a few months prior.  In that time, I’ve done my part to raise my boys to be just as geeky as I am.  Sure enough, the presents that B and the boys got me were definitely geeky.


That’s a sonic screwdriver, mini-TARDIS, and a Dalek bookmark.  I wasted no time putting the batteries in my new sonic screwdriver and trying it out.  A few seconds after that, the kids were trying it out as I desperately tried to get it back.  JSL has now declared that HE wants a sonic screwdriver.  Though we probably won’t buy him one (he’s got enough toys right now), B might try knitting or crocheting one for him.  There are a lot of patterns online for sonic screwdrivers.

After the gifts, we ate a quick breakfast at home and went to the local mall.  I had heard the previous day that Menchie’s frozen yogurt was offering Dole pineapple flavor.  Disney fans know this as Dole Whip: A frozen creation that no trip to Disney World or Disney Land is complete without.  In fact, the only place you can get Dole Whips were the two Disney parks and the Dole factory.  And now Menchie’s.

We stopped by and – after eating lunch to give the lines for the grand opening time to die down a bit – looked inside.  It looked amazing, but there was no Dole Whip.  Luckily, the manager was there and mentioned that he did have the Dole pineapple mix in the back – it just wasn’t one of their weekly flavors.  He also had no clue what a big deal Dole Whips were.  We gave him our card and he said he’d definitely update his Facebook page to let us know when the pineapple goodness is available.  (Check the Menchie’s by you.  If they have Dole Pineapple… GET IT!!!!  You’re welcome.)  We’ll be headed back there another day.

After that, we headed to FunPlex Fun Park in East Greenbush.  Here, we mini-golfed 18 pirate themed holes.  The boys had a blast avoiding sharks and hitting their balls through wrecked ships.

golfing1 golfing2

When we were done golfing, we picked up a cake for me, went out to dinner, and then went to B’s parents house to have dessert.  I picked out a "7th Heaven" cake from Price Chopper.


Price Chopper describes this as:

Four chocolate layers filled with whipped ganache and Hershey’s icing. Melted ganache is drizzled over Hershey’s whipped topping. Garnished with chocolate spaghetti and rosettes for a real slice of heaven.

And this WAS a slice of heaven.  By all rights, this much chocolate should be overly sugary and too much chocolate.  But it works.  Even non-chocoholic B loved it.  It was a little bit more than the basic cakes, but it was well worth it.

Oh, and my in-laws got me a wonderful Doctor Who shirt.


It was a wonderful way to start the day.  I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Doctor Who Geeklings Are Born

TARDIS_SmallFor quite awhile now, I’ve been watching Doctor Who.  I’ve been amazed by the tales of the Time Lord from Gallifrey with two hearts who travelled through time and space in a blue box that’s bigger on the inside.  After some time watching, B decided to watch as well.  I rewatched the "new Who" series with her (from Doctor #9 on) until we only had 4 episodes to go.  (She now wants to save them so she doesn’t go into Who draught until November.)

I went back and forth over whether Doctor Who would be appropriate for my kids.  On one hand, they’d love the adventure and time travelling and weird aliens.  On the other hand, some episodes can be a bit intense.  (I’m looking at you, "Blink.")  There’s nothing horribly scary, mind you.  Monsters/aliens are threatening but not nightmare inducing.  (Some – Adipose – are even cute.)  Still, with NHL’s anxiety issues, I thought a few episodes might be too much for him.

Over time, though, I changed my mind and began to think that both boys could not actually handle it, but love it.  Unfortunately, NHL had it set in his mind that Doctor Who was a scary show that was NOT for him.

Cue, B’s devious plan.

whens_the_doctorFor Father’s Day, B got me "When’s The Doctor."  This "Where’s Waldo" style book sees the eleventh Doctor, Amy, Rory, and the TARDIS lost amid the chaos of many different scenes on many different worlds in many different time periods.  Scattered throughout are not only natives of those times, but some familiar aliens as well.  In addition to spotting the Doctor, the TARDIS and his companions, you can find K-9, Daleks, Weeping Angels, and more.

B meant for me to read the book with the boys, thinking that they would get so wrapped up in finding these characters that they’d want to see the show.  It didn’t look like it was working until NHL greeted me Monday morning with "Dad, I want to watch Doctor Who with you tonight."

So that night we watched "Rose" and two new Doctor addicts were born.  The boys held their breath as creepy plastic mannequins-come-to-life stalked Rose.  They gasped in awe as Rose first entered the TARDIS and was overcome with how it’s bigger on the inside.  The cheered when the Autons were destroyed.  NHL wanted to watch the next episode right then and there, but it was past their bedtime.

Of course, NHL – the consummate geek-in-training that he is – wanted to know all the facts about Doctor Who.  Who are the Daleks?  Who is Davros?  What episode do the Weeping Angels come in?  Is the Pandorica good or evil?  When will we see Cassandra and the Face of Boe?  I answered as many questions as I could (trying to strike a balance of giving enough information to feed his curiosity while steering clear of spoilers).

The next night they didn’t even wait for me. They began watching "The End Of The World" while I made dinner.  NHL got excited as he finally saw Cassandra and the Face of Boe.  He got nervous as Rose was put in danger and excited when the Doctor triumphed in the end.  Part of me felt left out, but a bigger part felt like a proud geek dad. After all, he loved Doctor Who so much that he couldn’t wait an hour to watch it.

Yes, we’ve got two new Whovians on our hands and I’m going to enjoy introducing them to every single episode.  Talk about a fun and geeky family activity.

NOTE: The TARDIS image above is by Tim Hoggarth and is shared via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

The Playground Dalek

Since the weather’s been nice and warm, I took the boys to the playground.  It’s the same place we’ve gone countless times before.  There was nothing new there this year and yet, something seemed different.

Maybe it was just my newfound Doctor Who fan status, but this climbing tower seemed different to me.


It looked a little menacing.  Like it might EXTERMINATE me.


Thankfully, my boys were undaunted and conquered the playground Dalek.  They celebrated as brothers do.


I’m looking forward to many more warm days to take them back to the playground.  I’m sure that playground Dalek will be there for them to conquer time and time again.

Aloha Friday: Build or Buy – The Sonic Screwdriver Conundrum

Aloha Friday: Build or Buy - The Sonic Screwdriver ConundrumRecently, I’ve gotten interested in Doctor Who.  I’ve been watching the episodes back to back to back on Netflix.  It’s become a bit of an addiction for me.  I’ll be sitting on the couch trying to get some work done and the Roku remote will start calling "Dooooctor Whoooo! Doooctor Whooo! Watch another episode of Doctor Who!"  (I should probably call it a night when my electronics start talking to me.)

Since I love the show so much, and since I’m such a geek, I wanted to get some Doctor Who merchandise.  Luckily, ThinkGeek has plenty of Doctor Who items to choose from.  My favorite are the sonic screwdrivers.

For those who don’t watch Doctor Who, the Doctor isn’t one to brandish a gun and blast his enemies away.  He’s more likely to outthink them.  His tool of choice is a very special screwdriver that’s totally sonic.  It can open nearly any door and can override computer systems.  It’s the Swiss army knife of the Time Lords.

Of course, the sonic screwdrivers you can buy don’t really work like the Doctor’s.  Most of them are flashlights (a logical leap as the Doctor’s lights up when he uses it), but a couple are pens or even TV remotes.  As I was looking through them, I began to wonder which one to get.  Then a thought occurred to me: Why don’t I try making one myself?

I’ve long admired and envied geeks who build things.  I always think I don’t have the knack for it, but honestly I’ve never really tried that hard.  I’m not going to fool myself and think that my creation will fool people into thinking it’s the real thing, but maybe I could make my own passable sonic screwdriver.

I’m thinking I’d start with a pen, put some kind of metal tubing around it and add some embellishments around that to make it look less like like a tube-with-a-pen and more like a sonic screwdriver.  If I’m really feeling ambitious, maybe I’ll figure out how to wire up an LED light so that my sonic screwdriver pen can light up.

Yes, buying it would be faster and easier (maybe cheaper as well) and yes, it would probably look nicer, but a handmade sonic screwdriver could be fun and even educational (for both me and my boys).

My Aloha Friday question for today is: Do you usually "build" your own items or buy them?  If you usually build, any advice you can give for where to go or how to approach this project would be appreciated.

P.S. If you haven’t already, try out my Twitter applications: FollowerHQ and Rout.

Disclaimer: The "build vs buy" image above was composed of "Tools, Hammer, Spanner" by Andy and "Money – banknotes and coin" by n_kamil.  Both images are available through

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #156

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