Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Celebrity Death Match: Mathematician Edition

I'd have paid good money to see one between Kurt Godel and Bertrand Russell, but I'll have to settle for watching David Berlinski and John Derbyshire duke it out over atheism.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Analemmatic Sundial v1.0

For science today, the kids and I drew a giant analemmatic sundial in the road with chalk. We used the calculations I made and laid it out according to these plans. I even made sure to adjust it for daylight savings time.

Does it work?

Well, it would work, if I hadn't very stupidly tried to draw a five-foot-long north-south line using a five-inch long compass. I really should have known better. And I forgot to correct for true north vs. magnetic north. As a result of my errors, my sundial is about half an hour off. (And it would have worked, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!)

So here are my tips for v1.1:
  • Use a board much lighter than a 2x6 for your giant ruler.
  • Get a large try-square.
  • Make sure your "helpers" do not have access to distracting Legos during the time when you are drawing the sundial.
Sundial v2.0 will be permanently drawn on a tarp, which can be laid out and staked down. As long as it's properly aligned to north, it will work anywhere on your latitude, provided the sun is shining.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fruits Have Rights, Too

Longtime readers of this blog know I'm a diehard vegetable rights activist. The name "vegetable rights", though, clouds the fact that those of us who support it include fruits and other products of the plant in the category. So I was pleased to discover that my favorite band, They Might Be Giants, has made a music video that shows some of the atrocities that are committed on one of our favorite fruits, the orange.

Fight the power, people! Help save our vegetable (and fruit!) brothers and sisters!

Metal Detectors Gone Wild

Anyone who likes Monty Python and the Holy Grail will get a kick out of this.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My favorite quote

"And so, it's absolutely true that if nobody did anything there wouldn't be enough lighthouses. Wouldn't it be amazing if nobody did anything?"
--Mike Munger on the Coase Theorem

Advice for Kids

Always know where your butt is. (Hint: if you're wearing a diaper, it's inside the diaper.) Be able to locate your butt at all times, so that when your mom tells you to "get your butt over here," you can do it right away.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


When Knuckles wakes up in the middle of the night, he often wanders into our room and climbs into bed with us. When I wake up I almost always giggle. He and FH are usually asleep in the exact same position. If FH has an arm up, Knuckles has an arm up. If FH has kicked off his covers, Knuckles has too. Knuckles is a daddy's boy; he's named after FH, and it shows.

I enjoy having Knuckles to snuggle. Bagel doesn't like snuggles. He does, however, like to jump into my lap and say "I'm a tomato, eat me!!!" (whereupon I tickle his tummy). Sometimes he's corn or an apple instead of a tomato, and sometimes he tests me to see if I'll eat him if he's an inedible object.

Sonshine is required every day to give me Patented Sonshine Hugs. He likes snuggling and comes into our bed every morning, whether we're still in it or not, for a little snuggle.

Princess is getting too big for snuggles, but she does love it when I play with her glossy, waist-length hair. I wish I had more time to spend on brushing it and braiding it. I'll have to make do with sewing her costume for her dance solo. It is her first solo this year, and I have all the materials to make her a beautiful tutu, one of those kind that stick out like a platter.

Speed Demon

Sonshine is a week away from finishing his second Singapore Math booklet. Each booklet is supposed to represent half a year's work. We started in January and in four months he's finished an entire year of math.

He never ceases to amaze me when it comes to math. One time he was trying to work out what 8 times 6 was. He vocalized to himself, "8 times 6, let's see, that's 16 times 3..." and he DID it that way, and got the right answer too. What an amazing mind, to think that 16 times 3 was an easier problem than 8 times 6! And the kind of understanding he has of multiplication, to realize that 8 times 6 would be the same thing as 16 times 3... I don't know where he learned that, except maybe he was listening more than I thought he was when I was teaching it to Princess. He's very into multiplication. Mention the word and watch his ears perk up.

We knew Sonshine was smart (they did an IQ test when we were having him tested for Asperger's) but it's just been wonderful to see it in action as he burns through these math books.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sonshine Got Wet

Last Saturday we had Sonshine's baptism up in Logan. We kept it a small, short, quiet family affair, which turned out to be the best thing for him. He was nervous enough as it was. I was glad we decided to do it this way instead of taking him to the ginormous stake baptism, where they herd six or seven kids and all their guests through the baptismal font room in batches, while everyone waits their turn in the chapel endlessly singing children's religious songs. God help you if you have a kid with Asperger's and you end up having to go last!

Sonshine did his "Aspie walk" (hunched over shoulders, dreadful face) and refused to pose for pictures, and Bagel talked at the top of his lungs alternately about firing me and wanting to eat me, and Knuckles shoved over chairs after we ran out of cookies, so having a shortened family gathering was definitely the best way we could do it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

God Says Clean Your Room

Last weekend was our church's General Conference, broadcast worldwide. In the Sunday afternoon session, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a great talk on mothers, their responsibilities and our responsibilities to them. He said (emphasis mine):
Now, you children, please listen to me because there are some simple things you can do to help your mother.

You can pick up your toys when you are finished playing with them, and when you get a little older, you can make your bed, help with the dishes, and do other chores—without being asked.

You can say thank you more often when you finish a nice meal, when a story is read to you at bedtime, or when clean clothes are put in your drawers.

Most of all, you can put your arms around your mother often and tell her you love her.

Now Elder Ballard is sustained twice a year as a prophet, seer, and revelator, and in conference he speaks with that authority, which is the authority to address the church in the name of God. So this means that kids should treat it as if God said to clean your room! As soon as I heard this I said to the kids: "See, kids! What have I been telling you? Even a prophet says clean your room!"

To learn more about how you can join the religion in which God commands children to clean their rooms, go here. ;)