We went to the company picnic today. Even though I have worked at this place for 11 years now (well… in August), this is the first picnic I have attended. It is also the first time they’ve ever held it on a Sunday. They moved it from Saturday to Sunday so that I could attend, which I did not ask them to do, but I did certainly appreciate it.

I brought a few things for the entertainment. Wayne had suggested that we have a solar-oven cookie bake-off. I did the research and found some plans for the ovens. I also bought the supplies for them and transported them here (except for the boxes). Supplies included aluminum foil, aluminum tape, oven/roaster bags, plexiglass, carton knives, cardboard boxes, and wire. Here are two of the resulting ovens:

Solar ovens, but no sun!

Solar ovens, but no sun!


The one Jonathan and I worked on is shown in the upper part of the photo above. Too bad the sun didn’t cooperate! Almost as soon as the ovens were finished and stoked with cookie dough, the clouds got pretty thick. It sprinkled a bit too. In spite of that, the ovens did reach temperatures of 110°F. I had brought an IR laser thermometer (we use them in our labs all the time). Soon the clouds got even thicker and the “oven” temperatures dropped to around 85°F. The grass also clocked in at… 85°F. We baked zero cookies.

Another item I brought was a pilot ladder I had made earlier this month. They have these at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, the difference being that you have to pay a buck to try climbing theirs. This one was free. In spite of the unlimited number of attempts, I was still not able to climb this contraption. David gave it a try too:

David on the pilot ladder

David on the pilot ladder


With the expected results:
David lying on the sand after falling off the pilor ladder

...but not for long

Some of the younger girls (about Beth’s age) finally did manage to reach the top without being thrown off. I awarded the first one to do this with a $10 gift card from Target. She was pleased.

There was also a swimming pool there which is where Beth spent most of her time. The whole family had a great time.