Thursday, September 16, 2021

Other Minnesota Parks

On our trip to Minnesota, we had some fun playing soccer at Granny and Grandpa's house. By sheer coincidence, my boys were wearing the same color shirt, as if they had matching jerseys on!

A hard goal to score on

"Wait, are we on the same team?"

We went to one of the many awesome outdoor playgrounds and the only picture I took was the three of them on a tire swing. In my defense, we were hanging out with an adult friend while the kids played.

Smile, er, turn for the camera!

Looks like the same day as soccer, huh?

At Baker Park Reserve, we celebrated a family reunion and Granny and Grandpa's 50th anniversary, though I was too busy having fun to take many pictures. My youngest worked on his bicycling skills.


Adults and kids played an impromptu football game. There seemed to be no sidelines--if someone ran toward the edge they might outrun their opponent and score as long as they reached the dirt road. 


The ladder bolo game was fun but difficult. 

What's the right throwing technique?

Independence Lake (inside the park) had swimming and other water sports available. My oldest children tried out paddleboarding.

First achievement--standing

Second achievement: rowing

Third achievement: outrunning a power boat

Ready to stand

Another achievement: standing and rowing

Going to the edge



The party on Saturday was fun, with singing and dancing and other activities.

Grandpa and most of the grandkids

Dancing or fighting?

We had a great time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Book Review: My Angel Will Go Before You by Georges Huber

My Angel Will Go Before You by Georges Huber with an introduction by Cardinal Journet

Angels have a hard time in modern culture. Either they are considered pals who get kids out of trouble or their existence is denied completely (often because the whole concept is embarrassing and/or unnecessary). This book rectifies misconceptions on both sides and presents an interesting and well-researched investigation into angels.

Being Catholic, Georges Huber cites the authority of recent popes (being written in 1983, his references go up to John Paul II). Those popes did not just write theological treatises or exhortations about the angels. They actually asked the angels for assistance in concrete ways. Pius XI often asked his guardian angel for help and recommended that others, especially diplomats, invoke their own angels to influence other diplomats through angel-to-angel persuasion. The popes often give credit to their angels for inspiring ideas and giving them energy to continue their difficult work, similar to the way Jesus was comforted in the desert by an angel after the temptations of the devil and He was strengthened by an angel in the Garden of Gethsemane. The author also refers to the many other biblical stories of angels intervening, like in the book of Tobit or the three young men in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). Church authority and Scriptures agree, angels exist and have a role in history, though often that role is in personal histories and as emissaries from God.

Huber also provides arguments about the existence and activities of angels, using Thomas Aquinas and C. S. Lewis, among others. Humans by nature are able to know and do the good, but their nature is damaged by Original Sin and often they make the wrong choices. It's only natural for God to assign guardians, not just to individuals but even countries and authority roles (like government offices). The good angels offset the work of the bad angels in tempting modern people to do the wrong thing (though we do a good job tempting ourselves). An individual's openness to angelic influence is naturally hard to pin down.

The conclusion of the book is enlightening: "We could have spoken about 'the death of the angels', in the same language as 'the death of God'. In that connections Paul VI said that it is not that the sun has been put out, but that men's eyes have been darkened. God has not died in the way a great figure might die: he has died in the thoughts and in the hearts of many men an women." [p.113] So also angels are denied by those who refuse to look for them. Why not make use of such a fabulous resource?


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

French Regional Park Playground, Plymouth, Minnesota

We visited French Regional Park because we were told about a fabulous playground in the park (it also has hiking trails, sledding hills, and fishing/boating/swimming lakes). Imagine our surprise when we discovered this:

A+ for creativity! Maybe not so much for durability...

We did not find any official story online or posted near the cardboard playground. We assumed it was some sort of day camp project at first, though the structures are much larger than they look in the picture and have lots of scaffolding to hold it up and let people walk around inside.

Up high

It even has a slide

The slide is even functional

A lot of detail went into the work, including a spinning wheel to determine your fate after going through the "Ghost Door." 

Facing his doom

After checking our cell phones, we realized this was not the fabulous playground that everyone brags about. That was further in to the park. The over-two-story climbing and sliding playground looked awesome even from the parking lot.

So big, it does not fit in one picture

The tallest part

The kids had a lot of fun climbing ladders and cargo nets as they went all over the structure. Their cousins showed up and added to the merriment.

Sneaking through

The far end

While I was there, I snuck off and found a bunch of geocaches which are part of the August 2021 geocaching post.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Book Review: The Avengers Vol. 1 by B. M. Bendis et al.

The Avengers Volume 1 written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by John Romita, Jr.

Steve Rogers re-assembles a team of Avengers in the aftermath of the Civil War and Secret Invasion storylines. He's passed the Captain America shield on to Bucky Barnes, so Tony Stark as Iron Man has an easier time joining the team (considering the bad blood between Tony and Steve after Civil War). Thor is on board, as is Spider-man, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, and Hawkeye. They aren't together for long before time traveler Kang the Conqueror comes with a dire threat--the children of the Avengers have teamed up with a future iteration of Ultron and turned the Earth into a wasteland. If that wasn't bad enough, the space-time continuum has been disrupted and different villains from different periods keep showing up for short periods of intense battle with the current day Avengers. A small group of the Avengers travel to the future to set things right.

As with most time travel stories, the plot is a little more convoluted and unbelievable than it needs to be. The frequent random battles are a nice distraction as is Bendis's knack for good dialogue. Romita's art has a nice, classical feel that doesn't look dated and captures the action well. I'm not entirely sold on the series but will try another volume.

Mildly recommended.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Brownie-filled Cookie Experiment Part IV: The Final Solution?

To find out about the first parts of this project, check out Part IPart II, and Part III!

For the second attempt at combining cookie dough and brownie mix, we used recipe #2 from the cookies and recipe #1 from the brownies. After having lots of extra brownie mix on the first attempt to create a brownie-filled cookie, we halved the brownie recipe (which called for two eggs, so that was easy).

The mixes in appropriate-sized bowls

Since the sandwich method did not work well last time, we opted for the brownie-mix-filled-cookie-dough-ball method.


We also made smaller balls, hoping that the cookies would not spread out and become one gigantic, pan-shaped cookie. We still had some brownie mix left over but only enough to fill a small loaf pan.

We also put fewer cookies on each tray

The oven didn't get overfilled either with our new method.

Cookie-brownies with a side of brownies!

The results were a lot more satisfying as they came out of the oven.

Looks great

After they cooled, the cookies were sampled. They came out very delicious and very satisfying. They looked great too. The brownie mix was drier than last time, so that probably stopped the cookie spread. 

Looking good

In the interests of scientific accuracy, we will try this again to make sure the results are repeatable and consistent. We may have to do several batches.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Movie Review: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) directed by Adam Wingard

Kong is kept safely contained on Skull Island while Godzilla, who turned out to be a hero in the last film of the franchise, is left to roam free as humanity's defender against other titanic monsters. That trust in Godzilla is broken when he attacks a high tech facility in Pensacola, Florida. The company is Apex Cybernetics. Weirdly enough, the company has been working on a failsafe in case Godzilla turns bad. Maybe their work turned Godzilla bad? To find a power source great enough to counter the giant, Apex needs Kong to travel to the center of the Earth. The legends of the Hollow Earth give the scientists hope that they can harness the power in the middle of the planet, if only they can get there. The only entrance they know is in the Antarctic and as they take Kong there, Godzilla shows up to fight against the other alpha titan, a rivalry that goes back to prehistoric times.

The movie has enough plot to string together the various massive fight scenes. Many elements in the story are a bit ridiculous, but the tale is about a giant ape fighting an oversized dinosaur with atomic breath, so viewers need to be generous with their suspension of disbelief. The movie is a lot of fun and does not take itself too serious (a problem with said last film of the franchise). Big monsters tear up the town and each other in entertaining and epic ways.

Recommended--I hope they continue the monster movies in this tone.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Geocaching August 2021

The continuing effort to make it to 500 caches found over the summer...

On another trip to donate blood, I found another geocache near the Mall in Columbia. Happy Canada Day! is a cache that was placed on July 1, the day celebrated in Canada as Independence Day. It's a fun, sort of hidden spot. Even though it is by the mall, the muggle traffic is very minimal, thanks to its peripheral location.

Somewhere in the wall, of course

On a trip to Minnesota, I found four caches in one park that put us over the 500 mark.

The first find was Accessible 4 All #1 in a very easy to find location. The container had no log, so I didn't get to sign it. There's other easy caches in other county parks nearby. We stuck with this park.

Somewhere in here

The other three caches had more traditional settings--out in the woods. Chunky Monkey had nothing to do with the ice cream, other than it was easy to find.

Can't leave ice cream out here

Following some trails up the hill, I found our 500th cache, Awful Waffle (which also didn't have anything to do with food). On the way, I spotted some deer but they were too well camouflaged for photographing.

The deer were on the right, I swear!

500th cache location

The pencil for signing the log was quite congratulatory!


Not much further was Hilltopper Surprise which was surprisingly out in the open. I managed to give it a better hide for the next geocachers.


I came back down the hilltop to find the trail entrance that I guess I would have used if I had reversed the order of cache finds. The trail head isn't that obvious, though.

A bit of pathway

Yay success!

I made one bonus find at the end of the month when I went to visit our local Scout Shop. Powered Present is just where you'd think it would be from the picture below.

Industrial hide

Our count is now at 502!