Two weeks ago, Max deleted my save-game data for Shadow of the Colossus. I was making an espresso in the kitchen when I heard Rose gasp.

He’s three-and-a-half, and up until now his ability to navigate the PS2 menu system and control CDs/DVDs has been nothing but cute, if not mildly impressive for someone his age. Wake up call! The kid is suddenly able to do technological damage. Time to password protect the computer to prevent the inevitable "format c:" attempt, which at this rate cannot be more than 6-8 months away...
Seven years ago today Rose and I stood before a judge and several witnesses (accomplices?), where we both took a vow to stick together, for better or for worse. Later we got Chinese take-out, unplugged the phones, and flew to Italy the next day.

So far, so good!
Max (now 3 years, 7 months) wrote 'MARBLE' while writing George Rhodes a thank-you letter!

Max wrote 'marble'!

The rest of the story: Sometime around April 2006, while at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital visiting the newborn daughter of friends, Max discovered the work of George Rhoads. The sculpture on display there, 'Circus of the Spheres' (as we now know it), captivated Max's attention for about 45 minutes. We couldn't get the kid outta there.

About three months later, shortly after Esmé's birth, our DVR grabbed an older Mister Rogers episode featuring George Rhoads. Needless to say, that episode has been marked 'do not erase'. Max had suddenly developed a rapidly growing interest in 'ball machines', marbles, and all things related (probably the earliest manifestation of this interest was Max's fascination with the Animusic video 'Pipe Dream'). Multiple web searches ensued.

Next we discover that George Rhoads lives in Ithaca, our stomping grounds for 3+ years (and we didn't have a clue)! Rose quickly acquires the studio telephone number, makes a call, and presto, Max has a private tour of Mr. George Rhoads' studio scheduled, which serendipitously coincided with my attending the annual Cornell Real Estate Conference. What a wonderful time that was; Max just drank it in.

For Christmas 2006, Santa brought Max a Quercetti marble run (with auto-collecting marble-return elevator, thank-you), and the marble madness continues when he and I play video games like Ballance together.

Are marbles the new trains?

Movin' On Up.

Well, the Carroll-Merendino household is finally due for its regularly-scheduled 5-year computer upgrade. It's fun to look at specs:

    Old     New
Processor Intel Mobile Pentium 4 M 1.8 GHz     Intel Core2 Duo E6600 2.4 GHz Intel Core2 Quad Q6600 2.4 GHz (upgrade 9/13/11; net cost: $99-$45=$54)
Memory 512 MB DDR-266 SDRAM 2 GB 4 GB OCZ Gold DDR2-800 SDRAM (upgrade 1/7/09; cost: $50)
Graphics Mobility Radeon 7500 Radeon X1950XT 256 MB Radeon HD 4830 512 MB (upgrade 12/26/08; net cost: $125-$50=$75)
Hard Disk 60 GB 5,400-RPM 64 GB Samsung Solid State Boot Drive (added 10/5/11; cost $80) + 1 TB: 2x Maxtor 500 GB, 3.0 Gb/s, 7,200-RPM, 16 MB cache 3 TB: 2x Hitachi 1.5 TB, 6.0 Gb/s, 7,200 RPM, 64 MB Cache (upgrade 11/5/11; cost $138)
Optical DVD/CD-RW 20x DVD±RW Dual-Layer, LightScribe, LG 12x Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Burner with LightScribe (upgrade 10/12/11; cost: $80)
Motherboard Unknown Asus P5B-VM
Networking 802.11b & Ethernet 802.11n & Ethernet
Display 15" XGA LCD Dual Sony SDM-S73 17" SXGA (1280x1024) 16 ms TN panel LCDs, 2.6 MP Dual HP LP2465 24" WUXGA (1920x1200) 6 ms S-PVA panel LCDs, 4.6 MP (upgrade 01/13/10; cost: $400)
Case Laptop Thermaltake Lanbox 550W
OS XP Home Vista Home Premium 32-bit Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (upgrade 01/09/10; cost: $25)