Yet Another Eclipse Pic

Moon, partially occluded by eclipse
This was a “super moon” (full moon at perigee) eclipse. I took this about 45 minutes after the start, and the moon was mostly occluded. Notice the detail of the shadowed area; this was taken with a cell phone so this much detail is surprising.

A total lunar eclipse isn’t that rare, but one with perfectly clear skies is.  We let the kids stay up until 10:30 (on a school night, no less!) to watch the moon get swallowed.

Star gazing is so much more stylish in a convertible so we drove down to the lake and bundled up under blankets with the top down.

Cold night, was about 50° F when we drove home.

Uncle Peter’s 80th Birthday

Listen Up!Not many words this time, just a photo montage.

My uncle Peter is turning 80, so of course there was a bash thrown in his honour.  We came down from Massachusetts but our trip was minuscule compared to my uncle Curt and aunt Vera, who drove (drove!) all the way from California.  They’re making a road trip of it, though, and taking their time getting back 🙂

In addition to Curt and Vera, the entire Eastern Jones Clan represented – nineteen people in all.  We don’t do this enough, and as Kennon said, “This is the first time we’ve eaten someplace that doesn’t have napkin dispensers on the tables in like five years.”

Happy birthday, Uncle Peter!  I’m sorry that I didn’t include twenty bucks with your birthday card — you know, returning the favor.

Tuck, Peter, Curtis
Three brothers: Tuck, Peter, and Curtis
Curtis and his lobster dinner
Curtis was so impressed with his lobster that he wanted it photographed for posterity
Meghan and Mu
Meghan playing a game with the youngest eastern Jones. I’m still not sure what he said or did but she was shocked, shocked I tell you!
Karen, Peter, and Brian
The birthday man and his kids
Jones Clan
Everybody. Photo credit goes to the nice server at the restaurant who took at least a half dozen photos (each time with a different camera in case the internet dies tonight) because none of us can keep our shit together.

Our excellent dinner was at the Harbor House (Google Maps).

Aspen How-to for Smart People

First: Find the email from the school. You can search your inbox for the name “Aspen Help”

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.34

In that email, there is a username and password. I never change mine, because I am a ditz and will forget it if I do.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.11

Awesome. Keys to the kingdom and all that.

The URL for aspen is: but you can get to it from any of the schools’ websites (

Let the insanity begin.

Log in with the credentials they gave you.

Now we’re in the insanity that is the home page. It is almost as useless as you think. In case they dump you on a weird page other than the Home page, just click the “Home” button.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.33.38

To do the Emergency Info thing, you need to scroll down the page to see the “Tasks” area. Its below the To Do section.

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Click on Initiate. Because this makes so much sense.

At this point a dialog pops up with this totally sensible window. First one we’ve seen, right? Guess how you kick it off. Go ahead. (I gave you an arrow to help.)

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.34.36

At this point, you’re in. There are several windows that need to be filled out. It won’t let you click Finish until they are complete, but it does tell you what still needs doing.

If you need to do more than one kiddo, you go back to the first dialog and click on the Search thingie to get the list of kids.

Hope this helps!

Storrs Adventure Park

Zip lines are fun.

We spent the day with our very good friends Sam and Joanne, and their child who will be identified in this blog as Mu.  The kids all grew up together so they enjoy meeting up too.

Alpha on balance beam
Alpha didn’t even pause before striding out onto the beam. It swayed but she stuck to it like a gecko.

In our absence, something new sprouted up in Storrs that Sam and Joanne wanted to show us: The Adventure Park.  It’s an aerial park – meaning that you spend your time up in the trees.  There are several courses of varying difficulty to choose from.

In order to climb, you’re strapped into a harness similar to a rock climber’s, with a couple of integrated carabiners and a zipline pulley.  The carabiners can be locked-closed, and are linked via cable.  In order to unlock one, you must lock the other, and the mechanism to unlock is built into the safety lines that guide you through the course – so you must always be clipped in.  Once you start the course, you cannot get into a situation where you’re not clipped to a guideline or tether until you reach the end — very safe and difficult to screw up accidentally or intentionally.

Alpha on high wire
Alpha looking down for her photograph. I estimates that she was about 40 feet up.

The courses include a mixture of obstacles, ziplines, and lengths of high-wire dare-devilry.  The staff is watchful and makes sure everyone is conducting themselves appropriately, as some bits can be a bit challenging.  There is one course that, we are told, active-duty Marines have trouble with.

Sadly, I did not bring appropriate footwear.  Flip-flops are verboten so I could not climb.  The girls scrambled up without a second thought, however, and left me to take photos.  I’m very proud of them!  They handled themselves with grace, and without fear — even when they were forty or fifty feet off the ground and traversing a span like a tight-rope walker.

Both kids going over a pair of obstacles
Both girls working their way over back-to-back obstacles

The park itself is remarkable.  The trees are carefully trussed to hold up platforms and guide-wires with minimal damage — nothing is nailed in, instead the cables are wrapped and tied, and the platforms are help up with wedges to provide friction fits.  Their business model works best when people feel comfortable that the space will not be damaged, so nature preserves and landowners will allow them to set up installations confident that the impact will be minimal.

Both girls ran into a bit of trouble right at the very end on some obstacles that were wreaking havoc with everyone else, too — a staff member was already up in the trees, having just helped extract the previous victim, and was on-hand to help.  The obstacles were upright-‘L’ shaped logs that didn’t behave well when stepped on.  The girls made me proud by keeping their heads, trying to extricate themselves before asking for help, and actively assisted in their rescue (rather than some other people, who just glumly hung there while getting pulled to the next platform).

We stayed and let the kids weave through the courses for a couple of hours, until the shadows started getting long and we had to start planning for dinner on the road.  All in all, it was expensive ($70 for the two kids) but well worth it.