We took a little trip to Palm Springs last weekend for Bruce’s step-sister Michelle’s wedding. We flew out of SFO for the first time. I’m always taken aback by the boys’ enthusiasm for airports: “Mommy, look! There are planes here!”
They also had this very cool Japanese toy exhibit. My favorite was the robots.
We had a great time swimming and playing with all the cousins. I was too busy chatting and watching the kids in the pool to take pictures unfortunately. But I have some from the wedding. Here’s the bride and groom.
Bruce usually comes home from work in a good mood. He’s enjoying his new job — the team, the work itself and the whimsical Google environment are all a good fit. But one day a couple of weeks ago he came home a little embarrassed. He’d accidentally printed out a 1,000-page document when he intended to just print part of the table of contents. Because he had left the building when he started the print job, he didn’t realize what had happened until he got back much later.
He quickly owned up to the accident and suggested his penance should be to have to actually read the document: IEEE Broadband Wireless Access Standards, which sounds riveting. Another colleague proposed that he make a paper mache balloon piñata for Cinco de Mayo like the ones his group plans to fly to provide internet access to remote areas.
So in other words, the gauntlet was thrown and the Moisions sprang into action. I found a local party store that sells giant balloons and Bruce printed out some pictures of the balloons to figure out proper dimensions. Saturday morning he started the paper mache.
Here’s the offending paper.
This project really is an engineering problem, so it’s right up his alley. He was worried that the balloon would pop before the paper mache was dry, so he set up a little stand for it.
After the first couple of layers, he decided that he wanted it to get some sun since it wasn’t particularly warm out. So we very carefully moved it out of the garage. It was windy, so in addition to it needing a cushiony place to sit, he tied it down so it wouldn’t blow off the box.
After a few hours in the sun, we moved it back into the garage and tackled the next engineering issue: how to get it to drape down so it’s not ball-shaped. This is where I think most people would have a good laugh and give up. But not my nutty husband.
His original thought was to use string to get the shape and do the paper mache around the string.
But that didn’t work because the paper would just rip when he tried to stretch it between the strings. Luckily, we still have a lot of cardboard left over from the move, so out came the box cutters and the hot glue gun and we shaped a stronger base. (And I say “we” because I was tasked with holding things in place while he did all the work, but I’m taking some credit anyway.)
After tying it to a beam in the garage so it would stand upright (and take a little weight off the balloon), he started in on the first layer on Sunday morning.
Later that evening he added more layers and got a little help from Ezra.
They’re a good team.
By the next morning, it was looking pretty good!
He still had to add some layers to the part that wasn’t showing when it was hanging up.
And we had lengthy discussions about how to attach a way to hang it when it was all done. More glue gun, cardboard and zip ties.
A couple of days later it got an attachment.
And hanging proved successful.
Of course, in order to be authentic it needs a payload.
More zip ties, glue, cardboard and black spray paint.
While all this was happening, we were also trying to figure out what we should put inside. Our first thought was, of course, candy, but that seemed too obvious. I suggested bouncy balls which I thought would have a nice effect but could be problematic with little control of how far they would go. They would also add a lot of weight to an already heavy contraption.
Then Bruce had a great idea: origami cranes (or loons!) in the tradition of making 1,000 cranes for good luck. After some searching, we found people on Etsy who make them, in Google colors no less. We figured we’d buy some and make some ourselves, knowing it was unlikely we’d be able to make as many of them as we needed to fill the ball.
We initially bought 500 3″ cranes from a woman in North Carolina which came folded and needed to be pulled out into shape. We put the kids to work.
We then set out to make more (which included a late night trip to Michael’s for origami paper). We found that we had an easier time making them from 6″ paper, so we hunted through the packs of paper for the primary colors, put the kids to bed and got to work. It didn’t take long for us to realize we needed provisions.
We kept at it and our small pile got bigger as we managed to get a little faster at making each crane.
On Saturday, though, we brought in reinforcements: Baris and Alexandra.
Alexandra is a pro and cranked out lots of cranes. Baris joined the rest of us newbies, and together we made about 200 cranes in a few hours. Of course, we had some delays, namely dinner and my own stopping to cheer for the Kings who beat the Ducks in Round 2, Game 1 that night.
On Sunday, Bruce put some finishing touches on the payload: a mocked-up comm system complete with solar panel.
We took a break for lunch with our neighbors and then headed out on our two hour drive to Elk Grove to pick up the other 500 cranes we’d ordered on Etsy. The best part of that little excursion was that we arranged to meet Mike, Carla, Emily and Kendra for dinner in Sacramento. So great to see the “girl cousins” as the boys call them!
On the way home, Bruce unfolded all the cranes, threw them to the boys who threw them in the back of the car. So what started out in this box …
… ended up to be this giant pile.
When we got home, I put the kids to bed while Bruce started getting the balloon ready for transport to Google the next morning. After attaching another, smaller balloon in the hole to keep the cranes from pooling in the bottom, he filled the big ball.
Then, while trying to figure out what to use for the beating stick, we decided to contact our neighbor Chris who has his own [much crazier] project going on in his backyard — Tsunamiball — and therefore has lots of tools and scrap wood. He brought over a perfect stick and then had a look at the balloon. He proved to be the voice of reason, convincing Bruce that the ball was just too strong and no one was going to be able to bust it open. So … out came the drill.
And eventually the saw.
It ended up looking like this.
Just to take this to a whole new level of kookiness, Bruce was worried that the cranes would a) be dusty from all the drilling and sawing, and b) get wet when he put the last layer of paper mache on (he couldn’t possibly leave it full of holes), so he had taken them all out.
Trust me, there was a lot of mocking. Undaunted, he continued cutting, in part because after he did the initial cuts he tried hitting the ball and it didn’t budge.
Here’s a shot of all the holes from the inside.
Next there was sanding …
And the last layer of paper mache.
After it had mostly dried, he blew up another balloon for inside (he’d popped the first one with the saw) and refilled the cranes. He marked a tiny black spot where he thought the weakest point was in case they ran into trouble breaking it.
And we loaded it in the van.
He sent me this picture of its final home between a couple of Google buildings.
The festivities started earlier than I thought they would so I didn’t get to see the beginning; apparently Bruce got to take the first swings. When I rode up I could hear the smacking sound already so I rushed over to grab a few photos.
And here’s the guy who finally did it in.
I love this shot of the aftermath. The cranes worked out great!
You can see more of my photos here. Some of Bruce’s colleagues also posted photos. I’ll add links as I get them. For now, here and here.
Google’s Take Your Child to Work Day was April 23rd and the boys were thrilled to have a day off from school and get to spend a [half] day with Bruce at work. I was going on a bike ride with a friend that day, and the boys wanted to commute by bike to Google, so we started the day together. It’s a short 2-3 mile ride from our house to Googleplex.
Since I wasn’t there, I don’t have any pictures of the activities they did, but I snapped one when I picked them up.
Naturally, they got some souvenirs and wanted to wear them immediately.
Nothing like a little handball with “Super Android.”
Easter was, not surprisingly, a quiet affair for us. The boys were excited to see that they had baskets in the morning. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even remember it was Easter.
After checking out what kinds of candy they got, they immediately jumped into building their new small Legos.
Pretty soon they were out in the back yard trying to find all the eggs the bunny had left.
That bunny was pretty clever.
In the evening we had dinner with our new neighbors and watched the first period of Game 2 of the Kings-Sharks series. The Kings were ahead when we left but ended up getting throttled 7-2. (Side note not at all related to Easter: The Kings went down 3 games to 0 but came back to win the series by winning the last four games in a row. Woohoo, on to round 2 now!)