“You See, I Had This Space Suit”

You see, I had this space suit.

How it happened was like this: “Dad,” I said, “I want to go to the moon.”

“Certainly,” he answered and looked back at his book. It was Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, which he must know by heart.

I said, “Dad, please! I’m serious.”

This time he closed the book on a finger and said gently, “I said it was all right. Go ahead.”

“Yes … but how?

“Eh?” He looked mildly suprised. “Why, that’s your problem, Clifford.”

(Opening lines from Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit—Will Travel)

I remember when I in elementary school, and the short Saturday-morning “In the News” program predicted that, if one were 25 years of age or younger, it would be possible to vacation on the moon in one’s lifetime.

Despite our different focus in our government-sponsored space program, new materials science and technology, the availability of massive amounts of private capital, and the undying dream of human space exploration and even tourism, are working to make those predictions a reality.

See my post Have Space Ship—Will Travel, as well as other Wilcox Family BLOG posts regarding NASA and Space.

Here is just one such example of what is developing, with a view for what wonders the next 20 years may bring:

Wired: The “Moon Could Be Next Tourist Trap.”

Space tourism is already a reality for those wealthy enough to afford it. But just like transcontinental voyages and air travel, space will open up for the common man.

Time to start buying Skyway Soap …

Nashua Commuter Rail

Editor’s note: I moved this post to a this page on Monday, October 24, 2005.

Nashua, N.H., seems too far away from Boston to be a “bedroom community,” but in the quest for affordable housing, crime-free neighborhoods, and other prized essentia of suburbia, Nashua is an excellent choice, especially considering its sales-tax-free shopping and vibrant downtown.

After seeing the huge benefits the commuter rail brought to our former hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts, I am eagerly awaiting the day Nashua becomes a stop on the Purple Line.

I thought I’d start tracking some of the articles that come through Google Alerts about the rail project.

NaNi’s Words – Getting Beyond the R2-D2 Stage

Naomi is now 22 months old. She seems to have gotten remarkably taller in the past month, and also seems ever less the baby.

Photos in this post: top—Naomi the explorer (Rattlesnake Hill, elevation 1,231 feet, next to Squam Lake, Holderness, New Hampshire); middle—Naomi enjoys reading Calvin and Hobbes while on a trip to the Lower Falls, Kancamagus Highway; bottom—Naomi shows off her block-tower-building prowess.

Right now, she is in a fascinating speech development stage, after a fairly long plateau (if anything can be considered long in toddler development) of sounding like R2-D2, where we could figure out what she was saying by the emotion put into the words and sometimes matching syllables, to using new words every day. We repeat what we think she’s said back to her in an interrogative tone, so she can confirm it.

One funny example: We were watching the 2004 movie Thunderbirds, and she was watching it quite intently. I asked her, “Do you like this movie?” She replied, “[Unknown syllables], [unknown syllables], [unknown syllables] cute.” “What!?” I responded, “He’s cute?” (Probably referring to Brady Corbet, who played Alan Tracy in the film.) “Uh-huh,” was her answer.

Also like R2-D2, NaNi can understand just about everything we say to her, and has been able to for the past 9 or 10 months—even complex sentences with multiple commands, like, “Pick up your shoes and put them in your room.” Of course, she’s also at the age where she’s developing a strong will (or perhaps a strong won’t), so she is equally good at ignoring our instructions completely when it suits her purposes.

She’s also doing other cool things. She can identify just about everything in a picture or storybook we can name. She recognizes people in photos. She builds block towers, puts together Duplo, and will sometimes partially assemble Lego people. She can climb the long ladder to our slide, and slide down it without help, now that she’s learned to slow herself down. She will come over to me, lie down, and stick her feet up in the air, which means she wants a “pendulum” ride, where I pick her up by the feet and ankles and swing her back and forth while upside-down.

She recognizes the tunes of many songs, and can even hum along to the “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back. She brushes her teeth by herself. She picks out which pair of shoes she wants to wear, and can put them on. (When we got back from vacation, she insisted on wearing her ruby-red dress shoes to bed, as she apparently missed them while we were away.)

In the past two week, she has started using new words, such as up, and even surprised us with lifejacket.

She has managed to wrap every one of us around her little finger.

So, I’m going to try to enumerate her vocabulary. (I’ll be updating this often in the next couple of days, as I think of new words she is currenlty using):

  • ah-ha
  • all done
  • apple
  • baby
  • backpack (to refer to her baby-carrier backpack that we wear, or to her riding onto my back without the backpack, with her arms around my neck)
  • Bible
  • Blue
  • Blue’s Clues (Her absolute favorite television show, although we limit her to about one hour of TV per day. For the record, Steve was a much better host than Joe is.)
  • bye
  • bye-bye
  • cheese
  • cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene
  • Chapstick (Yes, I know it’s a brand name.)
  • Chaz
  • Daddy
  • hi (She also—just yesterday—started using hi in conjunction with a person’s name, as in “Hi, Daddy.”)
  • ice
  • Isaac
  • keys
  • lifejacket
  • marble
  • me
  • mine (I taught her that one. I tried teaching her gimme, but Nichelle took issue with that.)
  • Mommy
  • no
  • nooooooooooooooooooooooo (used especially when her brothers are bothering her, or trying to take something away from her)
  • okay
  • oooooooooooooooooooooooh (drawn out with a long o sound, as if in realization or final comprehension of something)
  • ow
  • ooooooooooooooooooooooow (used especially if her brothers are touching her in the slightest way)
  • pee
  • Phoebe
  • please
  • plum
  • pool
  • Pop Tart (Another brand name)
  • stuck
  • thank you (more of a syllabic match than a phonetic one)
  • T.V.
  • up
  • uh-huh (for yes)
  • uh-oh (for no)
  • uh-uh (for no)
  • up
  • Yes, sir! (Only when singing “I May Never March in the Infantry …”; she also salutes with her hand, and does all of the other actions correctly.)

NaNi loves to sing. Some of her songs are more phonetic or syllabic than verbal, but here are her favorites:

  • Blind Man (an old chorus I learned at Camp Fireside)
  • The Emperor’s March, from The Empire Strikes Back
  • The Farmer in the Dell (which her See ‘n Say® plays)
  • Happy Birthday (She surprised us by knowing that one today.)
  • I May Never March in the Infantry
  • Jesus Loves Me
  • Old McDonald had a Farm (another See ‘n Say® one)

And she can identify the following body parts:

  • belly button
  • ears
  • eyebrows
  • eyes
  • fingers
  • hair
  • mouth
  • nose
  • spleen (I’m not kidding)
  • toes
  • tongue

Nichelle and NaNi Play Dress Up (At Clark’s Trading Post)

We spent part of the last day of our vacation at Clark’s Trading Post. Nichelle decided that she and NaNi would have one of those old fashioned photos done. (This is exactly the kind of thing my parents would never have done because (1) it might have been fun, and (2) it cost money. According to Nichelle, Naomi had a great time.

Below are the results, with some fun effects. I got tired of just the original and sepia, so I tried Lego (0fficially “Kids Blocks”) and stained glass, which I modified to look more like a mosaic. Click to view the enlarged versions.

A Crocodile Monitor on the Loose …

Today I took Isaac, David, and Naomi to RJ’s Exotics to buy some food for the critters. I too was on the lookout for a new snake. (See Jaeden Has Escaped.) As we checked out all of the cool creatures they carry, I spotted some corn snakes.

I was holding Naomi, when Isaac and David quickly came to the front of the store and I heard that a crocodile monitor had escaped. One of the employees came charging up front looking for his gloves. We were told that the front of the store was safe, but not to enter the back of the store. In the meantime, I had Isaac and David go outside and wait by the door.

Things settled down a little and at that time I had narrowed my choice of snake down to two. The monitor was still on the loose, but I finally decided which snake I wanted to buy. Unfortunately, the containers to transport the new Wilcox addition was in the back of the store with the monitor. I told the employee, not to worry, I’d come back in about half an hour or so to buy the snake then. When I returned, I was informed that the monitor had been captured, and that no one was hurt. They can be quite vicious.

So I now have a new female corn snake, which looks pretty much like this one.

See “Name That Snake” for some pictures.