Sunday, June 21, 2015

Capturing a Day in 15 Seconds

I've been doing more Instagram videos, which require you to express yourself in 15 seconds.

I can't tell if this has contributed to my already-deteriorating attention span, but it's fun to try to compress a day's events into a quarter-minute.

Here's Mother's Day...

A video posted by Nick Turner (@sf_nick) on

...Roosevelt Island Day...

A video posted by Nick Turner (@sf_nick) on

...and most recently, Father's Day...

A video posted by Nick Turner (@sf_nick) on

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Getting in to Hammocks: You're Doing It Wrong

Elliot explained how to get into a hammock.

A video posted by Nick Turner (@sf_nick) on

Pretty impressive life hack, Elliot. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Very Big Day for Roosevelt Island

There was a lot of excitement in the air yesterday, with Hillary Clinton holding a historic rally at the southern end of Roosevelt Island. Even Gristedes, a chain owned by a Republican, got into the spirit.

For the kids, though, Saturday was Roosevelt Island Day — an equally thrilling event. The festivities (including a petting zoo, bouncy castles and balloon animals) occurred in their usual spot near the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, about a mile from where Hillary was giving her speech.

Despite the heat — and the disappearance of the spinning apple ride (where did it go?) — everyone had a great time.

Hillary should have stopped by for some free cotton candy.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Low-Budget Cinderella

The kids put on a performance of their favorite fairy tale.

A magical godmother probably could have helped with the production values.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Has Brooklyn Lost Its Cool? Not as a Baby Name

There's a lot debate over whether Brooklyn has peaked, with other towns and boroughs (possibly even Manhattan) vying to become the next hipster capital.

But one thing seems certain: The baby name "Brooklyn" is still going strong. It's the most popular geography-themed name in America, going to a total of 6,767 newborns last year.

Brooklyn isn't quite at its 2011 high, when it went to 7,155 babies, but it moved up from 28th in 2013 to 26th place last year.

In fact, it's so popular (ranking above Lily, Hannah, Zoe or Sarah) that no hipster would ever use it.

Earlier this month, I did a piece for Nameberry on geography-themed names. As part of my research, I looked at whether any other New York places ranked in the Social Security Administration's database.

The answer is yes, though none has taken off like Brooklyn. Hudson went to 5,199 boys and 111 girls last year. Almost 130 boys were called Bronx, plus five girls. And nearly 200 boys and 70 girls were christened Harlem.

Seven girls were named Manhattan, but Queens and Staten were nowhere to be found. (Staten Island's alias Shaolin also failed to appear in the rankings.)

It's interesting that New York place names (other than Brooklyn) are mostly given to boys. That's less common for geographic names in general, but I guess New York locations have a toughness to them that people perceive as masculine.

Even the name Jersey has attracted parents in recent years.

Now that's just cruel.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Flavor Aid Finally Gets Its Due

Regular readers of BuboBlog know this is a pet peeve of mine: People who say "drinking the Kool-Aid" when they really mean Flavor Aid.

So I was thrilled to see Vox tackle the issue on Saturday:
...all the sources on the [Jonestown] massacre say the powder was the grape variety of another drink brand, Flavor Aid. Made by Jel-Sert, Flavor Aid appeared in one of the first newspaper reports on the massacre. The claim is repeated in the 1982 book Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People. And surviving witnesses said that Flavor Aid was the drink used, not Kool-Aid. With the evidence so clear, why did the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" emerge? Mental Floss suggests Kool-Aid's role as being a genericized name for all flavored drinks, the popularity of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and other factors made it easier to remember "Kool-Aid" than "Flavor Aid."
I hope this helps educate the world that me saying, "Whoa, that guy really drank the Flavor Aid, amirite?" is not weird (though still insensitive).

Up until now, the main source of information on this topic was the Flavor Aid Wikipedia page, which wasn't maintained with the most rigor.

Kudos to Vox.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Release the Crochet...I Mean, the Kraken

On Friday, Elliot's school held its annual Literary Costume Day, when kids get dressed up as their favorite storybook characters.

The rules:
  • must be a children's book character
  • no masks
  • no pretend or real weapons
Mostly it's an excuse for the girls to get out their princess dresses, but Elliot asked if he could be Zeus.

I've been reading Elliot and Alice stories from "D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths" — the same copy I had when I was young — so I guess Zeus counts as a children's book character.

Kelly created the costume by crocheting a beard and turning one of my old T-shirts into a toga. Then she and Elliot made a lightning bolt out of cardboard. This raised a question: Would one of the most fearsome symbols of wrath known to Western Civilization be considered a weapon? (I think the school decided it was OK.)

I also quibbled with the beard. Zeus is immortal, but he has the body of a young man. I accused Kelly of making a Judeo-Christian white beard rather than a Greek god beard. But again, I don't think anyone in Elliot's first-grade class took issue with it.

Elliot has taken to Greek mythology with unexpected zeal. We devoured the D'Aulaires book, and I've overheard him making references to his mystified friends.
"You're bad. I'm throwing you in jail."
"Oh yeah? Well, I'm going to send you to Tartarus!"
The D'Aulaires, a husband and wife team, published the book in 1962. And even though it's written for (relatively) young readers, it doesn't hold back on the more disturbing elements of ancient Greek literature: incest, murder, kidnapping,'s all there.

A recurring theme: Fathers who decide to kill their sons because an oracle tells them their child will overthrow them. Hey, good daddy-son reading!

A typical passage:
His son, Pelops, was his greatest treasure, and, wanting to give the gods his best, Tantalus decided to sacrifice him. He made a stew of him and set the dish before the gods. But the Olympian gods detested human sacrifice. Outraged, they threw Tantalus to the punishing grounds in the underworld and brought Pelops back to life. But one of his shoulder bones was missing, and the gods replaced it with a piece of ivory. They all gave him rich gifts.
The Hercules in D'Aulaires is not the Disney version. He repeatedly goes crazy and kills everyone around him, including his own family.

Why is this appealing to a 6-year-old boy? I guess the material feels intriguingly dangerous.

The stories may be thousands of years old, but they're about as edgy as it gets.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, Frisbee Baseball

Elliot invented a new sport that combines the worst elements of frisbee and baseball.

Still, it's slightly better than snow baseball.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Splashing Puddles in Slow Motion

It's a common conundrum for parents: When your child begins splashing puddles in the wrong shoes (highly porous sneakers), do you stop her...or use it as an opportunity to shoot slow-motion video?

A video posted by Nick Turner (@sf_nick) on

I think we all know what the right answer is.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chasing Bubbles in Slow Motion

I've been told I overuse the slow-motion feature on the iPhone (the person telling me this is Kelly).

But I feel like this video of the kids chasing bubbles turned out quite nicely.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

'Easy Come, Hard Go'

The kids and I were making our way down Main Street when a balloon floated across the sidewalk in front of us.

It must have seemed like a minor miracle to them: The balloon had enough helium to float, but not enough to climb more than about 5 feet above the ground. It was just wandering around Roosevelt Island like a bumblebee.

The chased it down and began fighting over it. Finally, it was agreed that Alice would hold the balloon until we reached the playground. Then Elliot would get a turn with it.

Unfortunately, when we got the playground, Alice let go of the string.

It didn't float into the sky, but it managed to drift up and over enough to settle inside a construction area. The balloon found its new equilibrium within the high walls of the building site — there was no way to get it back.

When Elliot realized he would never get his turn with the balloon, he began bawling. I tried to console him with the old aphorism, "Easy come, easy go."

"No," he wailed. "Easy come, hard go."

Now that I think about it, his version applies to real life a lot more frequently.