Aug. 20th, 2007 03:49 pm
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So here's this evening's relaxing schedule for the last day of summer...

  • 4:00 pm: Sherilyn drops Kate off for soccer practice at Eureka School.
  • 4:10 pm: Sherilyn, with Robert in tow, arrives at Excelsior School for Class Assignment Night to volunteer (serving pizza to 1000 parents and kids).
  • 5:10 pm: I drop Josh off for his lesson at Tricks Gymnastics.
  • 5:30 pm: I pick up Kate from Eureka. Note this is at another school in the same district, likely also having a Class Assignment Night, so parking will be ... interesting.
  • 5:40 pm: (hopefully!) I arrive with Kate at Excelsior.
    • collect Robert
    • feed pizza to Kate, Robert, and myself
    • visit first, fourth, and sixth grade lists, posted at various places on the school campus, to copy down each kid's teacher names, room numbers, and known classmates
    • Kate and Robert find restrooms and change into their gis
  • 6:15 pm: I drop Robert and Kate off at Granite Bay Karate.
  • 6:40 pm: I pick up Josh at Tricks.
  • 7:00 pm: With Josh, I pick up Robert and Kate at GBK.
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Sometimes I wish I were in the 21st century. Because then I'd have a digital camera and could post pictures to the internet and there'd be a base on Mars.

But anyway, on Monday Kate and Robert both passed their belt tests -- Kate is now a yellow belt and Robert is orange (second and third ranks, respectively -- they have purple, blue, green, brown, then black after this).

Kate had set herself the goal of getting a yellow belt before the summer was over, and now she has... and man is she a joy to watch. A nine-year-old with a cumulative ten years of experience in gymnastics, soccer, and ice skating, she's pretty coordinated and strong, and when you add brains and attention and enthusiasm... well, she's basically the whole package, as far as I can tell...
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My coworker's roommate was stumped by a problem on the MCAT that we'd discussed over lunch a few weeks ago. I had told them I was pretty sure my eleven-year-old could solve it.

So I decided to find out. At dinner on Monday I presented it to Robert.

"Let h(n) be the product of all even numbers less than or equal to n, so h(4) = 2*4, h(6) = 2*4*6, and so on. Is the smallest prime factor of (h(100)+1) ...
(a) less than 10
(b) between 10 and 20
(c) between 20 and 30
(d) between 30 and 40
(e) more than 40?"

Robert took about a minute, while chewing his sandwich.Read more... )
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Belt testing. He's now a yellow belt. He earned it. His movements are very clean, he pays very close attention, he's very smart and uses it here. Instructors are very impressed with him.

Proud dad.
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He's already made his decision, but we want a poll of people who read my journal. (I don't pay for lj, so I can't do a poll directly, so please respond in comments if interested.)

What would you say is the most outstanding geographical feature of the state of Florida? Our candidates are:

(a) the Everglades
(b) the long coastline
(c) Lake Okeechobee
(d) its flatness
(e) the Keys
(f) other...

Comments welcome. He's doing research for the geography portion of his comprehensive Florida paper for 5th grade.
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Robert's homework has this question: 'As air warms, pressure ____ (increases or decreases)?'

How would you answer that?

Edit: The answer they were looking for was 'decreases'. They weren't looking for a causal relationship, they were asking in the context of atmospheric effects. Since warm air rises, its pressure decreases as a result of it rising.
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I have the most excellent friends.

Jason had a GeForce 4 just sitting around with no computer to put it in.

He came over last night and helped me install it.

The game is truly inspired, demented, and hilarious; there were loud hoots of laughter coming from the den as all three kids were clustered around the computer till I had to pry them off and insert them into their beds. He was up again this morning at 7 AM -- changed clothes, ate breakfast, brushed teeth, and started playing, all before either of us woke up. Go Robert!
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So it's not as though I work in the pollution industry, or the cancer industry, or the war industry. And I'm at least a couple of steps removed from the Grand Theft Columbine industry. This isn't remotely comparable to the experience of a tobacco company low-level executive watching his mother die of lung cancer, or a bomb manufacturer having to visit a bombed-out ruin with dying children.

Still. There is a human cost to what I do, and I encountered a bit of it today.Read more... )
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One of our weekly meetings often starts with the officiant asking if anyone's heard a good joke. So yesterday I told Robert's joke about the atom, prefacing it by explaining he'd read it in a physics book.

Everyone laughed. "I'm going to remember that. It's worth repeating," one guy said. All were impressed that a nine-year-old not only understood it and thought it was funny but also could explain it to a seven-year-old.

They just mostly stared, however, when I mentioned that he is insisting that I explain relativity to him (he saw it in a book from the school library, but he needs it more thoroughly explained and needs to know why it works the way it does.)

Time off

Aug. 16th, 2005 07:41 pm
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For the first time in I don't know how long I'm taking several days off from work without a specific plan to go anywhere for most of it.

That said, it's not like we're not actually going anywhere... just that we're still sleeping at home, and doing different things on different days.

I was surprised -- I listed a bunch of places we could go, and the Chabot Center was at the top of both Kate's and Robert's lists. Pleased, though, as I could hang out in planetariums all summer, had I my druthers.

So - this is what we're doing for the rest of the week.

Wednesday - Chabot Center
Thursday - Railroad Museum, then Kate's soccer practice 4-5:30
Friday - K&J to moms group, R with me to buy a bike; bookstore in the afternoon; K&R skating lesson at 5:15
Saturday - Gaea blockade almost certainly happening 12-N where N = { 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 }; if N < 3, perhaps another outing
Sunday - Nothing planned; I'm leaving it open in case (among other possibilities) Joshua decides he wants to go to the zoo

Other stuff, scheduled tentatively:
Kate wants her training wheels taken off (Thursday afternoon)
Robert, board game (Thursday during soccer practice)
Robert needs a bike (Friday morning)
Bookstore run (Friday afternoon)
Viking Hobby run (Friday, with bookstore)
Ladder purchase at Home Depot (Saturday morning)
All three kids and I need our hairs cut (Saturday morning)
Miscellaneous english, math, and science games (evenings and weekend)

Other possible stuff we might alter our schedule to accomodate:
Game with Dave and Carrie / playdate with their kids
Sacramento Aviation Museum
Discovery Museum
Sacramento Zoo

I'm glad to see the kids didn't put the Discovery Museum or the zoo as their top requests -- we've been to them the most, and kids like repetition/reinforcement, but we've done enough of both of those places that I think this week is a good opportunity to do something entirely different.

So. Tomorrow, at the Chabot Center: Read more... )
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(robert at the Easter party, having fun)
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I grew up in a very racially-progressive household. The one time I can remember my father ever contorting his face in anger at me and threatening to throw me out of the house was when I used an innocent nursery rhyme (I was about eight and talking with my mouth full) that in his childhood had included the language's ugliest racial epithet (Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, catch a TIGER by the toe). He apologized profusely when it was explained to him what I'd really said (well, as profusely as a Midwestern Scandinavian can... that is, he apologized).

But I grew up without even a thought that people should ever be treated any differently because of their ancestry... and a severe intolerance for people who propagated (or ignored) the profound injustices of the past and their continued effect in the present. It's instinctive for me. Instinctive in a way that wasn't for my parents: my father had a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus fervor about it that came from being the son of parents who had once given money to the Ku Klux Klan, but he'd learned his tolerance as a teen and adult, outside the home, from his own efforts and experiences.

I bring this up because things that are learned behavior in one generation can become instinctive in the next.

This morning Robert was asking me what can cause a plane to crash. I went through the list of things -- mechanical failure, very bad weather, pilot incapacitation, or pilot error e.g. "if something happens to the pilot that distracts him" -- and he commented on or repeated each item to make sure he understood, getting to "if something happens to the pilot that distracts him or her". He added "Pilots aren't all men. The only thing a man can't be is a mother and the only thing a woman can't be is a father."

What was learned behavior in my generation is automatic response in his. At least in my home.
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I've just seen Revenge of the Sith.

I went for two reasons -- one, to see it, of course; and two, to preview it and decide if it would be too intense for Robert.

Thus, two reviews. The first, which is this post, is my review only from the previewing-for-my-nine-year-old perspective. It shies away from any non-obvious plot spoilers, though I'll describe a few things you see, and what I think his reactions would be.

Capsule: I don't think he should see it until it's on DVD, at home on a small screen, but not for the reasons I thought I would have going in.

Read more... )
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Last night when I got home, I found that the six circular magnets on the whiteboard had been spaced around the board, each one with a circle drawn around it and a label. Yellow was 'Sun', orange was 'Hete', blue was 'Sky', red was 'Fire', green was 'Grass', and purple was 'Monntan's Maguste'.

Off on the side Robert had written 'Mountain' and drawn an arrow to the purple magnet's label.

Love my kids. :)
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I've done more journaling recently than I'd done for a while. Maybe because, with the end of the school year coming, it's a sense of transition, and I feel like documenting it; or maybe it's something else, I dunno.

Weight has satisfactorily dropped 6 pounds in the 6 weeks since the first of May -- which is excellent, and leaves only 34 to go. But it's starting to get serious: much of that 6 pounds dropped simply from when I was sick for a few days, and I managed to not gain it back in the intervening time. The moving average curve is now kissing the required-loss line, and I need to make sure I stay in the green. I also haven't been biking the proper five days out of the week, and it's slowing down and reducing my enjoyment of ST:TOS tremendously.

Upsilon really, really needs a better name. (Suggestions?) But now you can go from the countryside (big map) to a small-scale random 'wilderness' map, which has a down-staircase, to the first level of the goblin caves. I think this is all the styles of connectivity I need for the basic game structure, which means it's only a matter of adding a bunch of lines to switch statements (I know, I know, they should be object hierarchies, but they're simple enough that it's not worth constructing them as such yet) and you'll be able to wander around in all, um, 15 dungeons. (Well, or so. The game should have *some* secrets that people discover in play.) Time for the 100 Days to happen, which I only announced um six months ago. Damn I'm slow sometimes.

Character definition, I think, comes as a consequence of world complexity. The only reason to have a given player stat is when it impacts the world in some way. So when I add -- for example -- the ability to do rough identification of items, the perception stat (or whatever I use for it) and the various skills associated (alchemy?) become relevant, and are added, and there's no reason to add them until then.

I need to take a break from reading blogs. It figuratively raises my blood pressure (makes me cranky, anyway) without actually helping me learn anything. The fact that, for example, most people I talk to don't know about the Downing Street Memo, yet I do, does not really help my existence.

Some puzzles just aren't fair, at least to nine-year-olds. 'These colours should remind you of a fictional hero': the pattern was two rows of three colored circles: the lefthand column is two red circles, the middle column is two orange circles, the righthand column is a blue circle on the top and a yellow circle on the bottom. The critical detail (for me) required to solve this puzzle is in the specific way the challenge is worded. And in my ignorance I would have not thought 'fictional', but I suppose I don't know.

More later. I think I might try to journal the champions adventure before last, because they actually won something. And maybe give a synopsis of some untied threads from previous adventures (the source of the cursed guns, for example, or the crashed interdimensional alien ship).
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The third-grade science docent project this morning was "planets and stars". Dave Groat and I did it; he told me to take the lead, because as he warned me the docent lesson itself was lame, and would need some extemporaneous work. I decided to go off-book just a tad...Read more... )
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Sherilyn can't journal about last weekend because she wasn't home, so I will. Read more... )
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Robert and I discussed the unsatisfactory his teacher rated him for writing assignments. He certainly has a concentration problem (staring off into space instead of writing) but adding to this he has conceptual problems with open-ended assignments: "write about your favorite season" proved an impossible task for him (he dawdled for the entire assignment period before holding up his hand and announcing that he didn't have a favorite season, because he liked them all the same), while doing a whole page of math problems is reasonably easy (though again he's a bit slow, not in figuring the problems out but in transitioning from one problem to the next to the next.)

So I suggested he do a bit more writing -- of whatever he wants -- in any format, either longhand or typed, just to get used to putting thoughts down on paper, and getting used to the idea that there's no "right" or "wrong" answers when writing an essay. ("personal narrative", his teacher calls them.)

He thought about it for a while, then sat down at his mom's computer.

500 words later, he is the proud author of a complete story. If we get his permission, Sherilyn will post it on her lj.

It's fanfic -- that's all I'll say till I have his permission. So is he going to be a writer?

Possibly, but there's another stronger possibility. When he finished, he of course wanted me to read it (he would have had me reread from the beginning each time he finished a sentence, if I'd been willing), and to know what I thought of it. But then, with more concern, he asked if what he'd done was okay: not from the standpoint of quality, but because he'd used characters and phrases from published copyrighted work (he understood already what copyright meant). I gave him an explanation of fair use, and told him that what he wrote was okay under fair use law -- but that he'd have trademark problems if he tried to publish. He understood the problem of trademark confusion immediately, and seemed to get the difference between protecting original work and infringing on market identity.

Related moment: at one point yesterday he'd spun his chair so as to bump the back of mine. "Robert, don't kick my chair." "I didn't kick it." "Don't bump my chair." "I didn't bump it." More irritation: "Robert, don't spin your chair so that it bumps mine." "Okay." "Robert, you knew what I meant." "But you didn't say it."

So, well, writer maybe. Lawyer, much more likely. So long as he can argue from fact and case law, and not have to make stuff up, anyway.


Later today (hopefully) I'll journal about last weekend, when Sherilyn was off at her scrapbooking retreat.
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My son stuns me. But he is, after all, growing up...

Read more... )
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A ball game, a three-year-old chimpanzee, mondo shopping, WD-40, a star party plan, McDonalds, vomit, homework, plans down in flames, all in the same day. Read more... )


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