Building a PC

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Spencer has been wanting a gaming PC for probably close to a year now. He has been saving up his allowance and birthday and Christmas money. Clare and I decided to also chip in some, and that it would be fun to build a PC instead of buying one pre-made. We also decided to do it while we were visiting the USA, since electronics are generally cheaper there. Spencer and I both did a bunch of research, and ended up putting together a decent PC. We put it together with his uncle Drew, who has quite a bit of experience building PCs.

RGB is all the rage these days, so there is as much RGB as possible! – 3 fans in the front of the case, the RAM, the CPU cooler, and even the power supply. We did get a bit unlucky with the graphics card. The first card we ordered on Amazon.com got cancelled. Then we decided to order one on Newegg.com instead. We ordered it on July 3rd. It said that customers typically receive it in 5-17 days. A label was created on July 9th, but no other status updates yet. If we don’t get it by the time we leave for Germany, we will have to cancel and order one in Germany I think. Luckily uncle Drew let us borrow one from his gaming rig, which he doesn’t spend too much time using these days, since he is busy wrangling his three young children. We made a few mistakes along the way, like installing the m.2 SSD into the wrong location on the motherboard, and not ordering a Wifi/bluetooth module. Drew fixed the first issue, and we are still waiting on an order for the second issue.

Specs:

Case Corsair airflow
CPU Intel Core i3 10100f LGA 1200
CPU CoolerVetroo V5 White CPU Air Cooler w/ 5 Heat Pipes 120mm
Graphics card MSI Nvidia GTX 1650 dual
Motherboard –ASUS Prime Z590-P LGA 1200
RAM Corsair vengeance rgb pro 16GB (2x8GB)
SSD Western digital blue 1tb m.2
Power supply Corsair CX650F RGB

So far Spencer was able to get about 85 or 90 FPS on Fortnite, which is a big improvement over the 30 FPS playing on the Nintendo Switch. We decided to spend more on the motherboard and less on the CPU, so that it would be easier to upgrade in the future. Hopefully it will last for a number of years. Spencer was very excited to show his friends his new PC.

Meg’s 4th grade graduation

Meg-and-Frau-Gehrmann

July 2nd was Meg’s last day of elementary school. In August, she will be heading off to the Gymnasium for 9 years, and then likely off to university (perhaps in Paris) where she will prepare to be a programmer for space ships (unless she changes her mind along the way). Several of her classmates will be joining her at the gymnasium, while some will be going to different schools.

This is my second elementary school graduation ceremony so far. Spencer had his two years ago. That was before Corona, so it was quite different. In spite of Corona, the school was able to put together a very nice ceremony for the kids. The class performed a cup song, which was very cool.

In addition, Meg got a certificate for a Math competition she entered. She made it to the third round (along with 1000 other kids out of 23,000 who entered from North Rhine Westphalia). We are very proud of her. (Spencer also did really well in the math competition he entered (49 out of 50 points).

Meg’s 4th grade art

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I think that Meg’s art teacher in elementary school has been really great. She has introduced them to a bunch of different artists and techniques. My only complaint is that we never see most of the art until the end of the school year. Meg brought home all her creations this week, and I decided to digitize them as well as hang them up on our walls. Meg’s favorites are the one of the moon and the earth, and the waterlilies in the style of Clause Monet. My favorite is their school building in the style of Hundertwasser.

If you click on the individual images there is some more information about each creation.

Father son weekend

Prost

Last weekend I spent some extra time with Meg. This weekend she was on a camping trip with the scouts, and I got to spend some extra time with Spencer. We had beautiful weather! We slept in a bit on Saturday, and then had breakfast on the balcony. Our friends Thomas and Ulli are plant sitting for us while we are in the USA, so we brought the rest of our house plants to them at their garden plot and had lunch. We brought our new table tennis paddles with us and played for quite awhile in the nearby park. We also enjoyed the zip line there, which is one of the best around.

The European cup soccer matches are going on right now, so in the evening we watched Denmark against Wales, and then Austria against Italy.

Spencer and Rob say cheers
Prost

On Sunday we had more great weather. We had breakfast on the balcony again, and then went to the park to play a little bit of soccer. I fell at some point and seemed to injure my toe a bit. Getting old is tough. Spencer then had a soccer game with this team, the first in about 10 months. It was just a friendly game against the 2008 team from his club, VfR Würselen. Unfortunately I ended up missing a bunch of the game because I had to pick up Meg from her scout trip, but I did get to see him play for about 30 minutes. It was the first time they played a game with 11 versus 11 on the full field. Some of the older boys were a good head taller than the younger boys. Nevertheless, they played very well. Spencer’s coach commented to me personally afterward that Spencer did very well. He has grown so tall in the last year. In another year, he might be taller than me!

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Meg’s future

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Meg recently had an assignment at school to make a drawing of how she saw herself in the future, as if looking through a keyhole. She plans to be a programmer for NASA. She drew herself watching a rocket launch.

Looking into Meg’s future as a NASA programmer

Her class also made drawings to represent them leaving elementary school to go off to secondary school in the fall. Their class mascot is the penguin. They voted to make the best picture the official one. The voting turned out to be a tie, with Meg and Felix winning. They then worked together to incorporate the different elements of their pictures together. Meg was not excited to have to work together with Felix, but she handled it well. The end result was actually better than I thought it would be. I had imagined that having 2 people work on the same painting would end up looking like a painting drawn by two different people, but they did a pretty good job of matching styles to make it look coherent. Here you can compare for yourself (drag the arrows in the middle to switch between Meg’s original on the left and the final result on the right).

Meg’s drawing vs. the final image after collaborating with Felix

I think Meg’s penguin is much cuter, but I do like some of the elements from the final result, like swapping the subject names for the names of the kids in the class. Subject names as stickers on a suitcase makes a little bit more sense in my opinion, but having the kids names is nice as a memento. I think Meg is going to miss Mrs. Gehrmann. She was really a great teacher. It is amazing to see how much Meg has grown in 3 years.

Happy Birthday Meg

Galaxy Cake

Similar to Spencer’s birthday, we celebrated Meg’s birthday first at home, and then with friends. For her birthday dinner, she decided on French toast and fruit salad. To celebrate with friends, she picked a place in the Netherlands called Clip n Climb, which was the location for one of her friends’ parties last fall. This year she requested a galaxy cake. Two of her friends asked for the recipe, so it was definitely a hit. That’s another notch on Clare’s cake-making belt. Even though she claims to not be good at it, she has a track record of some pretty incredible cakes.

One of the climbing adventures was a timed one – Meg did it about 10 times in a row, getting faster each time. I think her first one was over 40 seconds, and she eventually got done to about 15 seconds!

Happy birthday Spencer

Ice cream cake for an 11 year old

This year we didn’t really celebrate Spencer’s birthday directly on his birthday, because his birthday was over Carnival weekend, and we instead went to Berlin for a long weekend. Instead we adjusted the schedule a bit, but kept some of the traditions. We had Spencer’s family birthday dinner of Schnitzel, Käsespätzle, Broccoli and ice cream cake with Dave and Ellen on the 18th. Then on Friday the 28th Spencer and most of his soccer team, plus his best friend from school Andre celebrated at the local laser tag place. It was legen — wait for it — dary!

Back to Germany, back to work, back to school


After a great 3 week vacation in the USA, it was time to come back to Germany. We spent most of Sunday morning packing, then enjoyed lunch with Drew, Haewon, Grandma, and Grandpa, and then Drew drove us to the airport. We said our farewells, got on the jumbo jet, and had a mostly uneventful flight. We all got a little bit of sleep even. We sat near the end of the plane where it curves down a bit, which meant we had 2 rows of 2 seats per row instead of 3, so we had a little extra room to stretch out, which was really nice. We caught our train at the airport with 20 minutes to spare, and were back in Aachen before we knew it. We managed to stay awake the whole day, to unpack, go grocery shopping and such, and watch an episode of Modern Family before heading off to bed.

Tuesday Rob went back to work, while Clare bravely took care of the tired and cranky kids, getting them prepared for the first day of school on Wednesday. Meg started 3rd grade at a normal time, but since Spencer is starting a new school for 5th grade (Gymnasium), he started at 15:00 with a special celebration put on by the older kids. It is a tradition in Germany to get kids a Schuletüte on their first day of 1st grade. It is a big paper cone which you fill with candy and other goodies. Since both of them did their first day of 1st grade in the USA, they missed out on this, so Clare decided to get them some mini ones this year. They liked them.

Another interesting occurrence on Tuesday was that our next door neighbors moved out. The moving company built a mini-elevator / electric ladder up to the balcony to move a bunch of their stuff. Much easier than the way we did it – trudging everything up 51 stairs of the winding staircase.

School awards

Friday both Meg and Spencer received an award at school. Meg got an award for outstanding citizen, and Spencer got an award for academic excellence. We are very proud of both of them for their hard work.