Party Central

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A busy New Year’s Eve on the Calabria home front. Nicolai hosted a party for twenty or so of his close friends. Maya returned after midnight from a party with her friends for a sleep over. Jeanine and I attended a party with our friends but returned at about 10:30 to make sure nothing got out of hand. Jeanine has prepared the makings for a waffle breakfast and only then will we learn how many guests elected to spend the night.

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First Aid


I underwent six hours of First Aid and CPR training at work today. Several employees participated in the class which bodes well for anyone at the company who finds themselves in need of medical attention. In the photo above, I had to immobilize an impaled hand, something I have personal experience with. In my case it was a framing nail through the flesh rather than a magic marker tucked between fingers.

Thailand Bound

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The family plus Karuna celebrated Kyle’s college graduation at the Beehive in Boston where we enjoyed live jazz and brunch. Kyle has accepted a job with Decker & Co., a small financial brokerage startup, that will take him to Thailand for at least three months starting mid-January. He will then have the option to remain in south-east Asia or return to California. We are all very excited for him and proud of his accomplishments.

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Beauty in Black

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Is it just me or do you think that Maya is getting more beautiful all the time? Although I miss my “little girl,” it is a joy watching her turn into such a wonderful young woman. I am planning to spend some time in the workshop fashioning a large wooden club which I suspect I am going to need if this trend continues.

Mount Misery

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Possibly the most inappropriately named place in all of Massachusetts, Mount Misery is anything but. Reaching a height of 284 feet, it would be more accurately described as a hill. Located in the Lincoln Township Conservation Area it was one of our stops on a vigorous walk this afternoon intended to offset some of the caloric damage sustained over the last few days.

Holiday Cheer

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Jeanine makes pop-overs but once a year on Christmas Day.  Amazingly, they seem to get better with every passing year as affirmed by our resident quality control tester/musical entertainer/reindeer.

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When Kyle is in town, even a simple portrait with Aunt Susan can veer towards mayhem.

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Possibly confusing Halloween with Christmas this year, my children really seemed to enjoy seeing me put on some of the gifts I received in my stocking.

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Cougar Nuts

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I always try to get portraits of the kids when they are home for the holidays.  I found Kyle in the dining room working on his computer and Nicolai in the living room grooming his beard.  Oddly, I was unable to locate Maya.

As has been our tradition for 13 years, we dined at Chang An, our local Chinese restaurant. We were joined by the Budris family and for the first time the Franck family.  It is a nice way to give Jeanine a break from cooking and to catch up with our friends. Later we attended church service where Jeanine and Susan were on duty as ushers.

Upon returning home, the kids set about making a favorite holiday treat, Zeppeli balls.  Kyle decided to change things up a little and created the first ever Cougar Gold Sharp Cheddar Cheese filled dough ball.  He named it the Cougar Ball.

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Tree Trimming

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Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even Maya, who was asleep on the couch.  Jeanine’s sister, Susan, will be visiting with us for Christmas and we spent the evening trimming the tree and listening to various obscure bands (Too Many Zooz, Black Violin).

Nozzle Test Fixture

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At work we are trying to identify the best material to use for our printing nozzles. They need to have good thermal conductivity and stand up to constant movement over carbon fiber, an extremely abrasive material.  Last night I made a crude but highly effective accelerated life test fixture from an inexpensive drill, timer and scraps of old counter tops.  Even the short testing I completed to verify the test fixture yielded considerable insight and I will gather more data today.

An even more impressive engineering project was Maya’s audio amplifier circuit which she demonstrated for me this morning in exchange for a 9V battery from my stash of rechargeables.

Open House

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This evening we celebrated a combination holiday party and new facility open house at Markforged. It was a great opportunity to meet the spouses, partners, family, and significant others of our employees while taking stock of how far the company has come from its humble beginnings. I was joined by Nico, Kyle, Johnny and Jeanine. Maya had cross country practice and opted to stay home to tackle a mountain of homework. We had to leave a little early so I could build a nozzle tip abrasion testing fixture that we urgently need. Expect to see it featured here tomorrow.

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Misha (our name for her) is a 6 week old Siberian cat. Her brother, Dmitry (same), is mostly black with white boots, just as cute, and the most athletic kitten I have ever seen. After Jeanine, Maya, Nico and I made the 90 minute drive to New Hampshire to visit the breeder we all fell in love with these siblings. We told the owner that we needed to think our decision over as we left. Five minutes into our drive home we texted her to say we would take both as soon as they got all their shots and medical checks taken care of. The euphoria of the moment began to evaporate as Jeanine started to show signs of an allergic reaction. This breed is one of the most hypoallergenic but regrettably, not enough so for Jeanine to tolerate. As sad as we all were, it was still a wonderful day playing with these amazing felines.

June or December

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Which do you think would be a better month to change the oil in ones backup generator, June or December. This is not a trick question. Only a moron, or the author of this blog, would choose to do this an a bitterly cold and windy day. Still, better to take care of this basic maintenance task than to be left without electricity in an emergency situation. I also ordered a thermostatically controlled battery heater from China which should arrive in a couple of weeks at which time I will pose the question; January or July.

The Graduate

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Kyle called today to say that he had satisfied all the requirements for and has earned a Bachelors degree from Santa Clara University. The additional semester he completed allowed him to major in Finance with a minor in Computer Science, a decision which should enhance his employment options in the future. We will celebrate with him when he returns next week and again in June when he participates in the graduation ceremony on campus. He has two job offers on the table now. Depending on which he choses, he will either be heading back to California in 2 weeks or over to Thailand for an initial period of three months. More details to follow.

Tesla X

Tesla 90D

It has been more than a year since I placed a deposit with Tesla to reserve their just announced Model X electric SUV. This week I received an e-mail informing me that I could now place an order for one. Delivery is quoted as mid-2016 and it would not surprise me if I have to wait another year before receiving the red model 90D which I ordered. I love my BMW i3 but its range is limited to 81 miles compared to the Tesla’s 257 miles and a zero to 60mph time of 7 seconds compared to the neck snapping 4.8 seconds of the all-wheel drive Model X. Talk about an exercise in patience. Some times you have to wait a long time to go fast.

Tesla Rear

Elmo & Nala

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Maya, wearing her Elmo PJs, lavishes Nala with love. Soon there may be a cat in this picture. Jeanine and Maya are working in tandem to wear me down using the one tactic for which I have no defense. They are employing the doe-eyed, baby talk “I wanna kitty” offense. Stay tuned to see if I can resist their charms.

Mighty Mite

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I took a moment this morning to test my most recent tripod design.  If not for the challenge of balancing the dumbbells one atop the other, I am fairly certain this tiny tripod could support 100 pounds.