Archive for the ‘Naomi’ Category

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The Scale of the Solar System (or, the Solar System to Scale)

October 11, 2014

“Space,” [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen …

Inspired by this NASA Web page, and Miss Sarah’s work-related interest in space science (too bad she spent all those years not reading science fiction), we decided to lay out our solar system in a manageable scale, complete with to-scale outlines of each planet.

Naomi plants herself just outside the orbit of Mars.
(Naomi plants herself just outside the orbit of Mars.)

Here are the scale sizes and distances, along with the real distances.

Body Diameter (mm) Avg. Distance
(yards)
Distance (in) Avg. Distance
in AUs
km miles
Sun 17.00 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0
Mercury 0.06 0.8 28.8 0.4 58,000,000 35,000,000
Venus 0.15 1.4 50.4 0.7 108,000,000 67,000,000
Earth 0.16 2.0 72.0 1.0 150,000,000 93,000,000
Mars 0.08 3.0 108.0 1.5 228,000,000 142,000,000
(Asteroids) 0.00 4.0 to 8.0 144.0 to 288.0 2.0 to 4.0 450,000,000 279,000,000
Jupiter 1.75 10.5 378.0 5.2 778,000,000 484,000,000
Saturn 1.47 19.0 684.0 9.5 1,427,000,000 887,000,000
Uranus 0.62 38.0 1,368.0 19.0 2,871,000,000 1,784,000,000
Neptune 0.60 60.0 2,160.0 30.0 4,498,000,000 2,795,000,000
Pluto (avg) 0.03 79.0 2,844.0 39.5 5,906,000,000 3,670,000,000
Voyager 1* See http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/ 138.4 20,707,634,708 12,867,127,667
Voyager 2* for current locations of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. 114.2 17,089,103,421 10,618,676,567

*Distances of Voyager 1 and 2 are as of May 2, 2017.

Isaac and Naomi lay out the inner planets.
Isaac and Naomi lay out the inner planets.

I’ve made a Google Sheets spreadsheet with this data publicly available, here.

You can also grab and print this Acrobat/PDF file which has the sun and planets to the same scale as the planetary distances: planets_to_scale.pdf. At this scale, the sun is only 17 mm in diameter, Jupiter is tiny, and the inner planets are nearly invisible.

tiny_planets

DSCN3009
(“It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere, I’m all alone, more or less …”)

Now, are you ready to have your mind blown?

Our nearest neighboring star is a binary star, Alpha Centauri. It would be, if we could see it from the northern hemisphere. It’s about 4.3 light years (271,930.8 AUs; 25,277,549,200,000 miles; 40,680,272,100,000 km) away.

At the scales we’re dealing with, how far away do you think Alpha Centauri would be?

Think carefully. When you’re sure, follow this link for the answer.

Space … is … big.

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Diligence

April 4, 2014

I want to brag a little bit about Naomi.

Naomi's Five-Pocket Poster for her project on Annalee Thorndike

Naomi’s Five-Pocket Poster for her project on Annalee Thorndike

This is the finished result of a multi-week school project. It’s called a “Five Pocket Project,” and has a number of interesting features, but that’s not what this is about.

On Tuesday, after a full day of school and two hours of dance classes, NaNi got out her zipped organizer binder to work on her project, and was distressed to discover that all the work from her project was missing. She looked everywhere, and made phone calls, and thought carefully, but was resigned to the fact that she wouldn’t find the work: The questions she had to answer for the biographical part of the project, and all the research she’d already done were gone. I expected she’d find it the next day in school, but she never did.

That evening she started rebuilding her research, getting the questions-to-be-answered from a classmate by phone, and digging in to the unpleasant task of redoing the significant research she’d already completed.

She continued this Wednesday evening.

Thursday was a long day. She had a full day of school, then an after-school dress rehearsal for the school Variety Show, then 2 1/2 hours of dance. Getting home at 8:30 last night, she dug right into the work, as the project was due this morning.

And work she did. There weren’t enough hours to make up everything she’d lost in a reasonable manner, but that didn’t stop her. She took small breaks to eat, but stayed at the task, finishing the research questions and biographical data first, and then moving on to the already-mostly-complete artistic portion of the project.

She did all this without a single complaint or whine, or even the loss of a smile.

When I gave up and went to bed at 12:30 am, she was still at it. I think she finished around 1:00. She set her alarm for a little later than usual, but still early enough to get up, make some last minute adjustments to the poster, get dressed, and get out to the bus on time.

I am very proud of her.

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Beaten by Children

February 23, 2012

Each Friday evening I take a class in Mandarin at the Chelmsford Chinese Language School. After that class, I go to chess club, while Naomi studies Chinese Folk Dance. I wrote this at the end of last year.

Carissa is quietly contemplative. She keeps her body movements still, with a level of concentration that seems incongruous with her age. She looks disarming. Yet she plays chess with such aggression that I find myself doing nothing more than react to her constant attacks the entire game, with no chance to implement a winning strategy of my own.

Jeffrey is “all boy.” Every time he makes a good move, his whole body shakes with elation. He laughs with glee every time he puts forth another reveal, or forces me to choose which of two pieces I am going to have eaten by his.

I am 42. They are both just seven years old. In addition to their age, they have one other thing in common: They absolutely destroy me at chess.

But the children weren’t the only ones who learn and improve. I go back every week, and I get better.

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My Little April Fool

April 2, 2011

When I got home yesterday, I discovered that NaNi had put her snow day time to very good use.

R2 looks a little different. But he does have a huge smile.

"Dad, please lifted up the helmit."

Under the helmet ...

NaNi did some redecorating.

"Hay, you. Kiss me, please."

"No. Well, just one. I love this!!! Happy April Fool's Day. I love you, Dad. "Thank you for the kiss, you kind Jedi."

I love the details. Lipstick attached to the phaser.

... and matching shoes.

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Dance Macadam

March 1, 2011

Naomi had been very, very sick for almost 10 days—double ear and ear canal infections, that we finally got under control. Even though she stayed home from school, she hadn’t had a fever all day, and I let her go to ballet. (Isaac took care of her while I was at work—my first day back in the office in a while. I am very grateful that Transparent Language has such excellent work-from-home infrastructure.) So I went home, got her ready for ballet (tights need help), and off we went. Gate City Ballet is pretty much on the same street as my job, so I normally drop her off, go back to work, and pick her up at the end.
Naomi with her artwork.

On the way to ballet, we stopped at the school department offices, where one of her pieces of artwork is being displayed. Naomi was thrilled to see it.

Naomi's Art on Display at the Nashua School System Offices.

Naomi's Art on Display at the Nashua School System Offices.

We got to ballet (on time, even—everything in Nashua is close and convenient), and she exclaimed, “My ballet bag!”

I said, “No problem, you can see if they will let you start in your stockings,” and I went home to get the bag. I picked it up, and realized there were no tap shoes in it. So, I hunted around her room to find tap shoes, and put them in the bag, and delivered them to ballet.

“Dad, these are my old tap shoes. They hurt my feet if I wear them.”

I laughed. “Okay, I’ll be back in a bit.” Back to the house … play the “find the real tap shoes” game—not as easy as finding the wrong pair. Back to the ballet studio. Along with a sweater she forgot to pack.

I hold up the correct shoes and the sweaters. Naomi beams and blows me a kiss.

I am in Heaven.

It's two years old, but this is still one of my favorite ballet photos of NaNi.

It's two years old, but this is still one of my favorite ballet photos of NaNi.

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LARP or Party Game: How to Play “Zombies”

April 25, 2010

There’s something fascinating about zombies, and a current cultural meme seems to have made them even more popular than the silly idea that the world will end in 2012. (One of the most popular video games around now is the second installment of Left 4 Dead, called Left 4 Dead 2, which is a teamwork-based game pitting humans against hordes of “infected.”) I’ll remind readers that I was a fan before the current massive popularly, generally ever since reading Max Brooks’ brilliantly-written survival-guide parody The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, and his captivating World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War novel.

Zombies seem to be everywhere. There’s even a Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me parody centering on a zombie apocalypse.

LARPing—live action role playing—is detailed in Little Brother, which can be downloaded for free at Corey Doctorow’s site, or, of course, purchased in hardcover.

Somewhere between reading Little Brother and being inundated with zombies, it occurred to me that a zombie hunt LARP would make a great party game for David and his friends on his 11th birthday. Here’s what we did:

  • One person is elected to be the starting zombie.
  • The zombie “infects” others by giving them a gentle Indian sunburn.” (I didn’t want the kids biting each other.)
  • Once infected, a human has wait 30 seconds and then become an active zombie, hunting any human he can find.
  • The only way to stop a zombie is to shoot the zombie in the head with a Nerf gun. Such a shot removes the zombie from the remainder of the round.
  • Zombies move slowly and relentlessly, generally while moaning loudly.
  • The round ends when all human have been infected, or when all zombies have been killed.

Overall, this went very well. Next time, I’ll include a couple of minor improvements:

  • The kids kept barricading themselves in bathrooms. This sort of interior door will absolutely not stop a zombie, but will slow one down for a moment or two. I think to account for this, I’ll have the zombies go back to a central location, and get a paper sign that, when slid under the door, requires those within to open the door.
  • I need to figure out a way to allow for simulation of decapitation by sword. I think a Nerf or toy sword to the neck should work. Water-based magic markers would be fine, too.

There were a couple of really great moments. One was when my sweet daughter Naomi came up to me and gave me the “Indian sunburn.” This was perfectly reflective of the psychological difficulty of fighting zombies who were formerly loved ones. I should have shot her on sight!

Lego_Left_4_Dead_by_XenoPrime

Lego Left 4 Dead: Coming Soon (image thanks to XenoPrime).

(Sadly, you probably won’t see this anytime soon, but you never know. I remember when Lego wouldn’t manufacture Lego weapons for their minifigs.)

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Our Artist, Naomi

March 24, 2010

Naomi has become quite the artist; much like Isaac, she loves to draw.

Naomi drew this during our small group Bible study a week or so ago. She copied the illustration from the front of the drawing pad, and embellished it a bit.

Naomi drew this during our small group Bible study a week or so ago. She copied the illustration from the front of the drawing pad, and embellished it a bit.

Our 6-year-old artist at work. Media: Marker on markerboard.

Our 6-year-old artist at work. Media: Marker on markerboard.

A birdhouse NaNi sketched a number of months ago on a visit to Pat Metrano. Note the recreation of perspective.

A birdhouse NaNi sketched a number of months ago on a visit to Pat Metrano. Note the recreation of perspective.

B Butterfly - a School Art Project

B Butterfly - a School Art Project

Naomi used an illustration in the book to draw Junpei from Megatokyo.

Naomi used an illustration in the book to draw Junpei from Megatokyo.

A better shot of NaNi's Junpei drawing, including his weapons.

A better shot of NaNi's Junpei drawing, including his weapons.

Naomi's completed drawing of Junpei from Megatokyo.

Naomi's completed drawing of Junpei from Megatokyo.

Naomi drew this freehand this week, with only her imagination as her guide.

Naomi drew this freehand this week, with only her imagination as her guide.

This is a style Naomi learned from Isaac's girlfriend, Lucia.

This is a style Naomi learned from Isaac's girlfriend, Lucia.

This freehand drawing is another during-small-group creation. I love that she always gets the color orders in the rainbow correct.

This freehand drawing is another during-small-group creation. I love that she always gets the color orders in the rainbow correct.

External references: Junpei; Megatokyo.

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Kid Conversations this Morning

March 12, 2010

NaNi:

While I was getting ready to go to work this morning, Naomi stood in front of the refrigerator, and said, “Dad, watch what I have learned.” She opened the refrigerator, and demonstrated how she could press the switch in the front to turn the refrigerator light off. She proudly announced, “I figured out how this works. See,” she closed the refrigerator door slowly, “when you close the door, it presses this switch, and the light goes off.”

“Good investigation, Naomi,” I praised. “My little engineer.”

“Just like her daddy,” she responded, with her usual smile.

David:

David was watching an online episode of “Bleach” anime at the computer. “So, watching some Shōjo manga?” I asked, sneakily.

Unusually, I fooled him. “Yes,” he replied, “Wait! NOOOOOO!”

(Laughter)

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Halo Warthog Cake

January 16, 2010

Nichelle has been experimenting with making custom cakes for the kid’s birthdays. Like most things she attempts, she’s done great right out of the box. She invented some cool new techniques this time, and I was able to lend some engineering expertise.

Halo "Warthog" Cake, made by Nichelle
Halo “Warthog” Cake, made by Nichelle.


Halo “Warthog” Cake, made by Nichelle, with model for comparison.

Here's a ballerina cake Nichelle made for Naomi.

Here's a ballerina cake Nichelle made for Naomi.

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My Little Personal Trainer

June 18, 2009

NaNi often makes sure that I stick to my diet, “No cheating, Dad,” and helps encourage me when exercising. (Nichelle sets the diet and the overall schedule; you should consider using her if you need a very reasonably priced personal fitness trainer.)

Last night NaNi rode her bike with me while I ran two miles, as she often does.

NaNi - My Little Personal Trainer

NaNi - My Little Personal Trainer

Everyone really enjoyed seeing her out riding, with me running along right behind her. I got comments like, “She’ll make sure you keep your speed up,” and everyone we passed greeted us with big grins.

On the final block of the two miles, I sprinted ahead of her. As I passed her, she called out, “Now, that’s what I like to see!”

What a kid.