Thursday, May 29, 2014

Phoenixville Blobfest tickets go on sale May 30, 10am

If you weren't one of the few lucky ones who were able to score a ticket for last year's showing of "The Blob", then this is your chance: the tickets for the 15th annual Blobfest in Phoenixville, PA go on sale this Friday at 10am. Get your trigger finger into shape because tickets sell out within minutes.

Wait - you never heard of the Blobfest before and wonder what all the fuss is about? Then read on (also on

The Blob - a 1958 version of scary. We have come a long way.

The Blobfest celebrates the filming of a 1958 horror movie classic with Steve McQueen in his debut leading role. The outdoor scenes were shot in Phoenixville, featuring Bridge Street and Phoenixville’s Colonial Theater. A key scene had town folks run out of the movie theater into the street.

The Blobfest (July 11-13 this year) kicks off with a viewing of "The Blob" (read here for a movie review) at that very same Colonial Theater, at the end of which the audience re-enacts the run out scene by, well, running out screaming.

On the weekend, instead of a run out, you get a double-feature treat by having "The Blob" paired up with other horror classics. This year the Saturday matinee feature will be the 1961 movie "Mothra", and in the evening "The Blob" will be followed by the 1962 "King Kong vs Godzilla". On Sunday the creep-factor will be turned up a notch with "The Giant Spider". Christopher R. Mihm, the
writer and director of "The Giant Spider", will be present for an audience Q&A after the movies.

As is tradition by now, the Blobfest also features an annual amateur trailer contest. The deadline to enter in Monday, June 23, 9am.

And even if you don't get tickets (or are just really not that eager to be scared in a family-friendly way) you can still enjoy a nice day out on Saturday, July 12 at the street fair in downtown Phoenixville, admission is free. If you are interested to participate as a vendor (must fit the spirit and theme of The Blobfest - Sci-Fi, horror, and 50’s-inspired arts & crafts), click here for a vendor application form
Once more, for tickets go to

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

There's 104 days of summer vacation ...

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There's 104 days of summer vacation ... and if you have as "many" vacation days as the average American, this means that for 99 of these days you will need child care. But as my 7-year old just informed me, spending the summer in his former preschool with his siblings is no longer sufficient. "Summers are not just for fun, you need to make time to learn something, too!" Before you marvel at the enthusiasm for learning that schools are able to instill nowadays, let me say that his one and only intention was to get signed up for 4 weeks of soccer camp. Out on a field from 9am-2pm in what with 96.7% likelihood will be 130 degree weather. Sorry buddy, but I don't think so.

However, I realized that there could be more to summer camp than someone supervising my child, so I set out to find some summer programs worthy of geek approval. Here is what I found, roughly sorted by geography. If you know of other hidden gems, please leave a link in the comments section!

Giant Heart at The Franklin Institute


The Franklin Institute
Geek Credentials: It's The Franklin Institute!

Penn Museum
Geek Credentials: Anthropology, behind-the-scenes museum visits, scavenger hunts

Geek Squad Summer Academy
Geek Credentials: PC Build and programming

Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University
Geek Credentials: Dinosaurs, Bigfoot, behind the scenes at the museum, live animals
Read a short review on

Drexel University:
Geek Credentials: Robotics, film-making and special effects, programming, photography and graphic design and more

Western Philly suburbs

Villanova University
Location: Villanova
Geek Credentials: programming and video game design

Locations: Devon, Spring City, Phoenixville, Oaks, King of Prussia, Eagleville
Geek Credentials: Lego camp with topics such as "Angry Birdies/Bad Piglets", "Animated movie-making" and "Robotics"

Valley Forge National Historic Park and Franklin Institute
Location: Valley Forge / King of Prussia
Geek Credentials: the science behind historical battles, ecosystems and natural resources

Chesterbrook Academy
Locations: West Chester and Oaks
Geek Credentials: Half day or full day Technology Camp with activities in mechanical engineering, video game design and animation work-shop

Great Valley Nature Center
Location: Devault, PA 19432
Geek Credentials: Geocaching, compass reading, paintball and learning about the animals at the Nature Center

Location: Rosemont
Geek Credentials: Genetics and DNA, Time & Space, Engineering

New Jersey

Katz JCC
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ
Geek Credentials: Anatomy or the heart and brain, science of movement

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Geeky dads deserve a geeky gift

The good thing about Mother's Day being in May is that it posts a reminder about Father's Day being just around the corner, too. So here are a few ideas that might be just perfect for your geeky Dad.

1) The undisputed #1 Geek Dad - Darth Vader, superbly penned by Jeffrey Brown. Read my quick summary here: Darth Vader - the unappreciated Geek Dad

"Darth Vader and son" and "Vader's little princess" By Jeffrey Brown

2) Get dad the best chair in the house - one that hovers! You will need plywood, a lawn chair, a shower curtain and a leaf blower, and follow these assembly instructions for your very own hover chair. This is on my bucket list, and in a few year once I don't have to worry anymore that The Queen might staple her own foot to the floor, we will try this.

3) If your geeky Dad rather wants to do the constructing himself, but you don't have a Ferb creating blueprints for you, then here a book with plenty of ideas for all ages (of the little helpers). From electronic origami and building a binary calendar to making your own custom-molded ice cube tray there are plenty of ideas, including time and budget estimates.

"Geek Dad" by Chris Anderson

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Geeky Athlete - why playing Angry Birds makes you better at Baseball

Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that geeks and athletes are like water and oil - mutually exclusive and not meant to mix. Just google "geeky athlete" or "athletic geek" (the latter one apparently a geek who plays Wii Fit ...) and you'll know what I mean. However, while natural talent is certainly needed to excel in sports, it seems to me that understanding the science behind it is just as important. Yet the coaching my kids have so far received for various sports is surprisingly (to me) void of diagrams and illustrations.

After watching Evel countless times outrun the defense but then miss the goal because he shot from a most unfortunate angle - and no coach ever mentioning it! - I took it on myself to explain the geometry of soccer to him. He thought that distance was what matters, but of course had no idea that angles play a role, too. So we started off with some drawings on paper, where I had him measure the width of the goal when shooting at different angles. Then we took this outside for an experiment and he tried 10 shots each from 3 different angles, from directly in front of the goal to from somewhere on the sidelines. We kept track on a score board. His eyes went wide with understanding. In the next games he'd make just a couple more step toward the center of the field before shooting. The results were dramatic. Math had saved the day.

Baseball is like Angry Birds: the Physics of fielding the Ball

Then this spring, I watched again in agony, this time baseball. Evel wants to be a catcher, but he could not cover the distance to the pitching mound, let alone first or third base. His balls flew slow and high, and plopped down half-way to the intended target with a pathetic thud. Despite his coaches practicing all the required body movements with him, there was not much improvement. Until I wondered if the problem is not his arm, but his head. Maybe he did not understand the physics of baseball? So another piece of recycling paper and a pencil stickman later, he had another epiphany. "Baseball is like Angry Birds!" Correct, angle and force determine where your ball will fly and how fast. Turns out he thought the higher he threw the ball, the further it would fly. He is only in first grade, so gravity, acceleration and force calculations are still a few years off, but the angry birds analogy made the concept of the 45 degree angle producing maximum distance crystal clear. And then he went out and threw a practice ball over the fence into the neighbors yard, about twice as far as he had ever before. Science is awesome!

Bottom line, even if you are a geek that grew up in a watershed world where you could only be a geek or an athlete, or if you have never (successfully) played any sports yourself, you can still coach your kids - with pencil, clipboard and protractor. And help your child to become a geeky athlete.

Geek Factor: 5 out of 5

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