Jots By John

Thank you for visiting by blog. I will be writing about my personal experiences that include weekly field trips, sailing, homeschooling, vacations, books, reviews and Disneyland!

Email me at jotsbyjohn@gmail.com.

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Willy Wonka Bars

For Christmas, our uncle made us Willy Wonka bars and other things from the movie.

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The three bars. No Musketeers, though.

 

We got the Scrumdiddlyumptious, the Fudge Mallow, and a normal one.

 

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Unwrapping one of the candy bars.

 

Inside the Scrumdiddlyumptious, was a Charleston Chew. The Fudge Mallow didn’t have any marshmallow in it because he couldn’t figure out how. It’s not like he makes chocolate for his job, though. Some of the other presents he gave us were a book where we went to the chocolate factory, the contract they had to sign, and a golden ticket inside the normal chocolate bar.

 

wonka collection
The golden ticket is accurate, word for word. I don’t know about the bottom of the contract though.

 

The Ever-Lasting Gobstopper, which was made of wood, was inside so much wrapping, that it seemed big. At one point, there was only a small aluminum foil ball left, so I thought that the whole thing was a trick. I felt something in the ball, so I unrolled it. And there it was! The Ever-Lasting Gobstopper! After that, he brought us our Fizzy Lifting Drinks.

 

fizzy lifting
I had the orange one.

 

They weren’t with the other presents because they were more perishable. The way you opened them was very weird. The lid was hooked onto the bottle. He had hired artists to make the labels. The only thing he didn’t need to make was the Wonka Pop. He just ordered it.

I really liked everything he gave me. The chocolate was quite tasty.

Houston Space Center

For our Christmas vacation, one of the things we did was go to  Space Center Houston.

 

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At the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

 

They had an Angry Birds Space exhibit, but I didn’t find it very interesting.There was also a film. It told about how humans wanted to find out more about the universe. They also had a simulator for the launch sequence of the Apollo Missions.

 

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The film looked like it was on a film reel.

Next, we sent a message that was supposedly to Mars. There was a delay. After our cousins arrived, we had a snack and went on a tram to Historic Mission Control, that was used for the Gemini and Apollo missions. They didn’t even have computers during that time. Next, we went on the other tram to the astronaut training facility. There were a bunch of cool spaceship parts there.

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Finally, we went to the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It was taken through Los Angeles on top of a plane. To make the plane, which was a Boeing 747, lighter they removed all the seats and everything else passengers would use. Even most of the insulation that was used to keep the passengers warm was removed. Somehow, the plane and spaceship were driven through neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Workers even had to chop off some tree branches! We also saw the SkyLab.

 

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The man behind me was rotating.

 

My grandfather worked on it. To hear more about what he did, see my post Interview with My Grandfather about Working on the Apollo Space Missions.

It was very fun there. I want to go again.

 

 

Archaeology Field Trip

For our nature school, we went to a simulated archaeology dig site. We did find more artifacts than was probably normal. Two of my friends and I went early to do some work for the archaeology merit badge. The most fun part was using the precursor to the bow and arrow. You set it on this thing that you hold. You move your arm kind of like a throwing a baseball.

We had to try and match tin cans from the 1800’s to what we have now. We only got about half of them right.

 

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We had to match tin pots.

 

After that, we got to go dig. The excavation was fun. Once you had enough dirt to fill up your bucket 1/3, you were supposed to sift it. That meant putting it on a thing with a netting.

 

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I literally could not explain what the sifting device looks like so this helps.

 

All the small dirt got out, but if there was anything good it would still be on. My team was almost able to pull a vase out, but we didn’t dig deep enough.

Ian, Jayson and I went back for more requirements for the badge.

 

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We did more digging on Friday.

 

We dug in the Iron Age site next to it. The artifacts in it were over 3,000 years old. Once we arrived, we started digging. Some of our friends who were taking the class there came over to talk to us. Since we dug up a firepit, the wind blew the ash everywhere when we sifted it. There were pieces of stone with ridges. There was also a half handstone. A handstone was used to grind things. They were used in pairs. We also found a few pottery shards. When we thought we had been digging for 2 hours, we had only been digging for 80 minutes. About 45 minutes later, Ian suggested sifting a full bucket. It took about 20 minutes to get it full. It was somewhat hard to carry. The effect was amazing, though. We made good progress. I had to leave 1 minute early to go to the Newport Sea Base. It was extremely fun, but it was hot.

Vacation to the Bay Area: Day Five

On the final day of our vacation, we went to Alcatraz.

 

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During the audio tour.

 

The boats departed from Pier 35. There seemed to usually be one boat on the water. When both were on, they were going opposite directions. The first boat we went on was the Striker. It was raining.

 

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The boat we were going to go on.

 

We sat on the top deck because it is better for viewing. The rain kept us from seeing much. When we arrived, there was a film. It wasn’t working though. We went through a couple of exhibits in the first building.

 

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The ads said you could see starving prisoners. Not true.

 

Then we waited in line for our audio tours and went to the actual prison.

Once, when we had to go outside, it was super windy. In Southern California, you do not see that much wind. The thing I remember most is how the kitchen knives had outlines where they were hung up. If one was missing, it was easy to spot. There had been multiple people killed in there. If it got too rowdy, one of the officers cocked his gun and everyone fell silent.

We were allowed to go in the isolation cells. They were barren rooms in the dark. One of the games a guy played was to pop a button off his jumpsuit and try and find it. Once, when someone tried to escape, there was a battle that lasted for a couple hours. Surprisingly, there were only 10 casualties.

We went back to our hotel room and packed up to leave.

Vacation to the Bay Area: Day Four

We went to San Francisco on our fourth day of vacation. We started off by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Golden Gate Family pic
Golden Gate Bridge. Without the fog.

 

We went through two tunnels on the opposite side of the bridge and stopped in Sausalito. They had the boats that my sisters and I sail on the racing team.

We went back across the bridge and drove to Chinatown. They had the best clothing deals you could imagine. I remember seeing four scarves for $10. Near it, they had skyscrapers.

After that, our dad took us to Lombard Street. It is the most crooked street in America. The wait for it was long, and it was also very steep. The curvy part is made of bricks. My mom tried to take a video through the sunroof but it didn’t turn out well. Next, we drove to Union Square. It was kind of dirty and had a lot of homeless people. We then went to the Presidio. My mom loved it. There was a Lucasfilm building. They had a fountain with Yoda and some cardboard cutouts of Star Wars characters.

 

Yoda
Use the force.

 

There were also some statues of Star Wars people. Next, we walked to the Palace of Fine Arts.

 

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It looks somewhat like the dome at MIT.

 

We could see it from the tunnel by the Golden Gate Bridge. It had a giant dome. We didn’t go inside the theater. Next, we walked back to the Presidio and went to the Walt Disney Family Museum. We weren’t there long, though. We drove to our new hotel and after we checked in, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf. For dinner at Boudin Bakery, the line was very long.

 

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Pictures with Santa at Boudin.

 

We walked around and saw where we would depart to Alcatraz the next morning. Ghiradelli Square was awesome. There were three shops. Only one had the milkshake, though. We didn’t go to that one because the line was so long. There was a giant sign that said Ghiradelli.

 

Ghiradelli sign from Alcatraz
The view is from a boat but I also saw it from Alcatraz.

 

 

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It’s kind of hard to tell but the Christmas tree has a G on top.

 

The hot chocolate we got was great. After that, we found the way back to our hotel room and went to sleep.

Vacation to the Bay Area: Day Three

On day three of our vacation to the Silicon Valley, we went to the Tech Museum of Innovation.

It was really fun. Unlike the Computer History Museum, it was targeted towards kids. I think the most fun activity was Social Robots. I gave my robot a hook that it could wave up and down if I turned a knob. I connected two wires to the power source for the lights. There is only supposed to be one wire connected. Instead of the lights staying on, they flickered.

 

social robots sp good pic
The lights do not go well with the picture.

 

That had a really cool effect. They also had an earthquake simulator. There were foam blocks that fell almost immediately.

 

earthquake pose
I made the tallest building. It was no surprise that it would fall first.

 

They also let you design an earthquake. I made the craziest earthquake possible and used the best material for a building. The building survived. There was also a jetpack simulator where you try and get the laser on the dots. I almost got three dots but the timer ran out just before.

 

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I was going to get the third dot here.

 

After that, we went to the bodies exhibit. I didn’t think it was very interesting. There was one good thing where you tried to do a challenge with blocks.

 

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The biggest issue was that there weren’t enough blocks.

 

After that, we went to have lunch at the cafe they had there. We went back to the museum. I built the same robot I made last time. Then I went over to where my sisters were, and we tried to get a ball across a stream without building a bridge. Kate almost built a bridge, but it didn’t reach the other side. Most of the other people made slingshots.

They also had a camera where it took a picture of your face, split it into three parts, and put it with parts of other people’s faces. One time, part of my face got mixed with my sister. We had planned to do other things, but we ended up staying there the whole day. After that, we went back to the Residence Inn for the last night there.

Bay Area Vacation: Day Two

On day two of our vacation, it was Thanksgiving. We hiked Sweeney Ridge. We also visited the headquarters of Facebook and Oracle. Finally, we went to Stanford.

We woke up in our hotel, had breakfast, and drove over to Sweeney Ridge.

Sweeney Ridge sign family pic
The sign.

Strangely enough, the person who discovered it was Gaspar de Portolá. The hike had a lot of uphills even though it is only 4 miles total. The summit was interesting. There was only one small bench and a small bathroom. There was the abandoned Nike Missile Site. It was built during the Cold War. Now it was caved in. There was also a ton of graffiti.

 

sweeney ridge nike missile site
There is a ton of graffiti.

 

Partway down, we stopped to have a snack. We got into our car and drove to the Oracle Headquarters. They had a giant sailboat there. It won the America’s cup.

 

oracle trimaran
The boat.

 

We got back into our car again and drove to the Facebook headquarters. It was at One Hacker Way. Someone took a picture of us in front of the sign.

 

facebook mom and kids
If you like this post please give it a thumbs up.

 

On the back was the sign of Sun Microsystems. The Facebook building was unique. It was painted different colors. There didn’t seem to be a pattern either. We went to the Stanford campus after.

 

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Stanford.

 

It was somewhat fancy. Their chapel was huge.

 

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The chapel.

 

After that, we went back to our hotel room. It had been a long day, and we were all very tired.

Bay Area Vacation: Day One

 

This year, we took another vacation for Thanksgiving. We went up to the Silicon Valley and San Francisco. On the first day, we visited the Computer History Museum, Apple and Google Headquarters.

We woke up at 4 A.M. and we left by 5 A.M. It was a long drive. When we were going through Los Angeles, there was an accident in the other lane and the traffic was backed up a couple miles. After we got out of Los Angeles, there was a lot of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley. One of the plants was on poles, and there were a lot of them so it played some tricks on your eyes. Once out of the farmland, it was just desert for a while. After that, we passed through Gilroy. It is known as the garlic capital of the world. It also smells like garlic.

Next, we passed through the Silicon Valley. We saw the Qualcomm Research Silicon Valley and the regional headquarters of Microsoft. We drove farther into Silicon Valley and went to the Computer History Museum. The best part of it was that they had video games. Even though they were old, they were surprisingly fun. The best was Pong, though.

 

comphistpong
If only they had graphics like this when it was released.

 

There was one video game that took as much power as a washing machine to work. We walked over to a part where they had a Wikipedia game. I was winning against my dad, but he ended up beating me. It also had the history of music players in a different section. There was a doll in Thomas Edison’s time that sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” There was so much background static I could hardly understand it. I had headphones on, too. After that, I went through a history of computers that started with the abacus 6,000 years ago. It wasn’t up to date, though. I didn’t see the modern stuff about smartphones. My dad got a picture with the butler from Ask.

 

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The Butler.

 

We traveled to the Google headquarters. They had Google-colored bikes for their employees to get around.

 

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The yellow bikes! The blue thing on my shirt is from the Computer History Museum.

 

We also went to the Apple headquarters.

 

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Apple HQ.

 

They had a store on the bottom floor. We were tired after that so we checked into our hotel.

If you like this, you may also want to see:

Central California Coast: Day One

Central California Coast: Day Two

Central Calfornia Coast Day 3-4

Co-op Fall 2017

If you have seen my old post about my homeschool co-op, this is an updated version with my new classes. My five classes are:

  • Tinker Time– In Tinker Time, we take things apart to see how they work. Right now, we are taking apart a DVD player with a partner.

    tinker sp
    Taking apart a DVD player in Tinker Time

 

  • NaNoWriMo Junior Writers–In NaNoWriMo, we write novels for the national writing month. We are also writing with a group. In the group story, I am the antagonist.

 

teamb nano
This is my noveling group.

 

We also write one by ourselves in November.

 

group shot with me
A class picture from NaNoWriMo

 

  • Lunch–I don’t have much to say on this subject but we do play Infection after lunch. A couple of our friends use walkie talkies with us when we play Infection to increase our chances of winning.

 

lunch time co op infection
This is at the start of the game when everyone is running from the person who is counting.

 

 

  • Strategy Games–We play board games and card games that use strategy. I usually play Risk.

 

strat asher game
Playing a game in Strategy Games.

 

 

  • Imagine and Play–We have objects that we start out with, and we try and build something with them. We have different objects each week to build with. We learned that you cannot use rope and pool noodles to build a zip line.

 

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What happens when you try and build a giant gun.

 

  • Computer Programing–Most people only take four classes, but I am taking five. My last one is Computer Programing with HTML and CSS. This is what I have made so far:

 

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Co-op is very fun, and I can’t wait for it again!

Kick Conquest Foosball Table Review

This is a review of the Kick Conquest foosball table. It is 48 inches.

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The assembly is easy besides the first part which is getting the sides on the playing field. After that, you have to screw the sides together. Next, you put the legs on with the included tool. Lastly, you put the rods, corners, and scorekeepers on. When you put the rods on, be sure to put the rods in the right places and put everything on the rod before screwing things on. The holes to put the scorekeepers on were not drilled correctly on my table, so I had to use my own nails to get them on. I wasn’t able to get the corners on, either, but I put the end panels on the wrong sides.

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You can see the bolts I used to screw the legs in because the corners are off. When building, be sure the goals are on the left side.

This is a great table besides the fact that the balls this uses are smaller than normal ones.

I would rate the table 3 and 3/4 stars.