machines

from the wonderful quotes from kids file….

Both of my sons have long been into building kinetic sculptures, marble toys, dominos and anything that causes crazy actions over a distance…intersecting with this is lately we have been watching a lot of Start Trek: The Next Generation and they are very intrigued by the character of Guinan…tonight my younger son was overheard by my wife saying:

"Lets not make a Rube Golberg machine, lets make a Whoopi Golderberg machine!"

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life

It has been a while since I posted…sometimes life gets in the way of all of those things that you really want to do. Thankfully my immediate family is very healthy and the boys are having a good school year. B has his first middle-school dance this Friday night so maybe I am a little worried. Most of our family emotional energy, especially S, has been focused on my father-in-law who has been in the hospital in PA for the last month suffering from the ill effects of what appears to be Guillain-Barré syndrome. She has been going down there for a week at a time every other week and I have been doing the single dad routine. Thank you to all in our network who have helped out. To add to the fun, yesterday my mother fell and broke her shoulder down in FL. Fortunately she did not have to be hospitalized and she has a good network of friends down there to help out. The long road of recovery is tough when you are past 80. They say bad things always come in threes… I am hoping the Patriots performance in the Super Bowl counts.

get a clue

 

holbert20071205.jpg

thanks to brother Bill for sending this one to me! 

 

 

 

the revolution

My nephew Dylan is a senior in high school in Corvllis, Oregon. He recently had a poem published in Teen Ink which is a very cool magazine and website dedicated youth art and writing. I’ve reprinted his poem here with permission but you should go check out more of the great work at Teen Ink as well.

The Revolution

By Dylan G., Corvallis, OR

The Revolution will, indeed, be broadcast
displayed in high definition on every wall
for children looking up from their games
and fat middle-aged men digging for another handful of chips
as faceless bodies in tattered clothing run past on screen
and a head is blown off to scattered but polite applause
Mom and Dad comment on the clarity and detail of the image
while little Junior stares in blank apathy
and fiery flashes are reflected in his jaded grey eyes

5 x 7 =

my eight-year-old son is studying his multiplication tables in school. This morning he said he had to study up to the fives table so I quickly asked him what seven times five equeals…he thought for a few moments longer than rote memorization would have allowed…he then correctly replied "thirty-five". I asked him if took him so long because he was counting in his head "five, ten, fifteen…"…his reply was "no…I was counting seven, fourteen, twenty-one…" πŸ™‚

topology

51ATVPgT4sL._AA240_.jpgI’ve been meaning to post about this before but just haven’t got around to it. My older brother Bob has a new book out and it is very cool. His previous entry into literature was as an editor of a book that compiled a number of different folk-tales around the theme of  "the grateful dead", not the band but the folklore theme. While that was very cool, his new book is even cooler…and is actually in his professional field. Introduction to Topology: Pure and Applied covers the field of topology with a slant towards applications in the real world. If you know anything about topology then you know it can stray pretty far from the real world! I am actually credited in the book as I provided some information on applications in circuit design and printed circuit board layout. I’m pretty proud of him and his book especially knowing the many, many hours he put into it. If you are looking to get a good introduction to topology, this is a great book for you…I’m not biased at all.

Tasha

DSCN2816.JPGWe had to put our cat Tasha to sleep today. In the fall of 1990 Stephanie and I had been married and living in our house for a year and we felt it was time to add another presence. Since we are both cat people and as it turned out we were a good six years away from wanting children, we decided that a kitten would be the best choice. We went to the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem and picked up beautiful, almost perfect Tortise-shell kitten. Having been grieving over the demise of one of our favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation characters the previous season, we decided that Tasha was a good name (better than Worf anyway). Tasha was best described by my friend Bruce as a “roving knick-knack”. She never got in your way, she was always just part of the things in the room. I can’t help imagining that just like her namesake, there is some parallel universe somewhere where Paul and Stephanie only had Tasha for a very short period before some “skin of evil” takes her life…fortunately for us we live in the universe where Tasha lived a good long time.

bradley

Reality can be refreshing sometimes. Today I met Bradley Whitford of (West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip fame…neither of which have I watched) at the Unitarian Church I attend. I am a friendly with his brother, David, who is a  writer, Arlington resident, and a member of First Parish UU of Arlington where I go with my family. David’s wife and I taught the Coming of Age class together two years ago and I am a youth advisor for both of their teenage daughters. Bradley was in town for a big family gathering they have every year…. So there I was chatting with him when he introduced me to his three children. He then noticed that his 8 year-old had cake all over his face. “Go get a napkin and wipe of your face” he said sternly, echoing the same thing I said moments earlier to my almost 8-year-old. I guess it doesn’t matter what we do for a living, we always have to keep our kid’s faces clean.

blinky

FVH742AF0R12VQR.MEDIUM.jpgAlexander and I did a great MAKE project this weekend. We made one of these BlinkyBugs. It is a wonderfully simple project that can be made with about $5 worth of stuff. The battery was the most expensive component. RadioShack had most of the supplies, with the exception of the copper tubing which we bought at a local hardware store (of course I had some spare guitar strings on hand!).  It took less than a half hour to do the whole thing. It demonstrates some very simple electronics,  shows how you can make someting that has dual-purpose elements (structural and active electronic)  and makes a fun interecative toy too! This could easily be a good classroom or camp/scout project. my%20blinky.jpgblinky%20supplies.jpg

mystic

dscn3038.jpgI finally uploaded some photos from our trip to Mystic back in April. It was a fun adventure even though Billy had laryngitis the whole time…lunch at Mystic Pizza, dinner at a nice seafood restaurant…crash at the hotel and watch more Doctor Who on the computer (Sox beat the Yankess that night with the 4 consecutive home runs…woo hoo!)…MysticSeaport in the morning and the aquarium in the afteroon…a fun local destination for a weekend out with the family.

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