minutia press.
Halloween, come and gone

We took down our halloween decorations today, raked leaves, and then jumped in them (the leaves, not the decorations). I wore shorts today, partly in denial of winter's approach, partly because they were handy and I couldn't readily find my jeans. Jacob is now 4 and so he will probably remember things that he is doing these days. Kids up to that age experience things like Halloween anew each year, not remembering much about what he was up to a year ago.

We go kind of nuts around here for Halloween. It started small when we first moved in: a jack-o-lantern here and there, some tacky ghosts stuck to the window. But then the next year I added spooky music blasting out of the house, the next year "talking pumpkin guy", and this year, I tied things to the ceiling fan of our play room so you could see ghosts and things flying around from outside.

One of my favorites is the simulated lightening device I built. Radio Shack had a strobe light on sale some 7 years ago for about $5. I bought the thing thinking about Halloween, but when I first tried using it, I was disappointed at its regularity. The device was proud of that, but for my purposes it didn't look nearly random enough. It was obviously a strobe light. So then I rummaged around the house and found an old go-fish toy my kids used to use. It has this battery-powered turntable, plastic fish that every now and then pop up, and some fishing lines you try to catch fish with. The important part here is the turntable. I bought a press-to-turn-on rocker switch and attached it to the toy near the turntable. I then stuffed leftover plastric cover, rolled up, into some of the fish holes on the toy. When energized, the toy's turntable rotates and every now and then made contact with the rocker switch. I then ran one leg of a standard two-wire 120V cord through the switch using an extension cord. When the strobe light is plugged in, it gets energized when the rocker switch is on. Presto! With this pseudo-random front-end, the strobe light does indeed make it look like lightening is coming from the dark room.

It's fun to be a geek (sometimes).


I have (or should say, had) that fishing game....It was always one of my favorites. However, I'd occasionally get too enthusiastic about yanking a fish out of the contraption, and catapault it across the room. Luckily, there's no penalty to how violently you remove the fish, if I remember correctly.

Posted by: Lucas at November 2, 2002 9:48 PM

I was a 'real' man and didn't have to resort to using the fishing pole. I would grab them out with my hands, or try to spear them with a screwdriver. Then I would take my mom's nice kitchen knives and gut and clean the plastic fish. She would get quite upset at this, and often wouldn't buy me new toys because I would either destroy them or take them apart.

Posted by: Brodie at November 4, 2002 5:10 PM

Ah, now I know that instead of chocolate I can keep plastic fish around in bowls for snacks. Maybe they'll make a plastic version of the famous cheddar goldfish?

Posted by: rkc at November 7, 2002 12:49 AM