Friday, September 28, 2012

Alex On The Eagle Falls Trail



Song:  Ocean Princess

Artist:  Thomas Bergersen


(the left most posting is a bear warning...
it says they are to be given the right of way.
Has that EVER been a problem? :)

We had but a short drive to Lake Tahoe.

This was to be a short scouting mission to gather the mood of the place...
and to keep it in mind for late Winter or early Spring.

The main attraction is the Upper and Lower Falls...
neither of which flow this late in the season.

Early next year we hope to catch ice and copious amounts of water flowing.










The trail was well marked and had plenty of stone stairways.















Alex resting on a rock with Lake Tahoe in the background
(Emerald Bay).

When we go back there with the waterfalls in full flow...
I hope to get some very nice photos.

This was just a nice little hike in the Sierra Nevadas to have Alex
just relax and enjoy himself since he has been working so hard lately.

We then continued on around Lake Tahoe and to Incline Village...
to eat at a Sushi restaurant.



Alex on his iPad 3.
We buy him plenty of Gigabytes of air time every month 
so he is able to enjoy long car rides.

He asks if we could go on long car drives frequently.
He enjoys the stimulation of viewing new sights at will while playing his favorite apps...
or tracking our location and finding out facts about them.

This way he has the best of both worlds.
The apps...and, merely by looking out the window of the minivan...
he has new sights :)

Alex works so much that he has earned his free time...
many times over.




Alex doesn't like cucumbers in his California rolls.


The Sushi looked good right?

They had novel combinations...
including Shiitake rolls (flavorful mushroom).

They must have been good...right?

Wrong!!!

I couldn't believe it.

Nice location...
nice decor...
fresh ingredients...
efficient use of space in the restaurant.

The rice was HARD!
(besides being un-flavorful)

Take a sandwich as an example.

No matter how fresh the ingredients...
if you put them inside of two pieces of dried out burnt pieces of bread...
it is a terrible sandwich.

This was just too much.

My wife knew what I was going to do when I told her to go to the car without me
after we had finished.

I just had to talk with the owner
(to educate her and to help her improve).

To my great surprise...it simply did not go well at all.

I couldn't believe it...
besides being unreceptive...she was spouting all sorts of basic fallacies.
She had sounded as a child who was caught doing something naughty...
and thinking to merely deny and dismiss was the answer...
no matter if she had contradicted herself or not
(I was being polite and helpful in, both, information given...
and in demeanor).

This owner was failing to identify and correct a problem
because she let her ego override good business sense.

I explained the problem...
gave a plausible reason behind it 
(effect of altitude on the boiling point of the water)...
and possible solutions.


Before anyone thinks I am merely a difficult to please malcontent...
while I often (unsolicited) identify problems and offer solutions
(I know...obnoxious, isn't it? :)
it is because I am a teacher at heart.

On the drive home...
I thought this would be a perfect lesson for Alex.

I explained to him how she was not thinking long term...
her basic lack of reasoning and the most probable reason for it...
the most probable effects of her failure to decide to observe...
take in new evidence (research and test)...
and then to either accept or reject.

As a result of this experience...
I just had to write an online review of this particular restaurant.

Although this was my first review of a restaurant...
I just know it will not be my last
( I will write both positive and negative reviews based on merit...
and on the extreme ends of the spectrum only).

Below is my actual review (Yelp).





This is a perfect writing exercise for Alex to do for some of our 
future restaurant adventures.

Alex will love writing reviews on line.
I should have thought of this sooner  :)



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alex's Roller Coaster Project - Stage II



Song:  Flight Of The Imagination

Group:  Future World Music


Alex's work last night WAS due today!
(late posting...today meaning Tuesday)

He turned the papers in and he got the whole assignment today.

We are going to have to finish this project completely this weekend.

It is due in less than two weeks!

We had to shift priorities today.

Tomorrow, I will have to shop for the materials...
(remember...the whole thing must be made of paper product and tape or glue)
and we will have to begin building starting Friday.

Alex had to come up with a design today (with suggestions from me)...
and do a partial drawing (one side of it) to scale, on graph paper.

He named it: 

 Dragon Flight 

It is is so named because the Dragon (a bright red marble - if I can find one)
will take flight off a 45 degree, or so, left facing ramp (after the initial hill and a loop)
from two thirds down the right side.

It will be caught in a raised funnel (set a full length down on the left side corner)
and travel through more convolutions till the end at the bottom of the initial hill (tower).

------------

 If we have enough time...
we hope to automate the loading of the marble to the top of the initial hill
on the right side (after which there is a loop and directly after is the flight ramp)...
by making a windmill with a drive wheel directly attached to the windmill axel
(located on the disembarkation ramp at the top of the initial hill)...
and connecting it by two parallel drive belts of braided cordage of toilet tissue.

As it stands now...until we test the viability of it...
Scott tissue is one of the best for this
(not only because it lacks the soft puffy nature of others...
it is a strong, smooth, single ply with strong perforation junctures...
and a thousand sheets to the roll :)

The belts will be connected to a tension wheel at the bottom marble loading ramp
with the twin parallel drive belts (about 1" apart) connected with
marble loading buckets and with a trip bar joining the belts just prior to 
the buckets (in line of travel) to tilt the trip lever which will be attached
to a pretensioned paper flap at the bottom opening of a tilted marble holding
tube (empty toilet paper roll).  The flap will hold the returning marble back 
until forced open by the trip lever...allowing the marble to roll out, and into
the, then, arriving bucket.  

We will have to construct an extra large diameter windmill
 (extra long cardboard vanes to provide the torque necessary).
The wind source will come from a portable fan aimed at the vanes from a foot or so away.

The axels will be postal cardboard tubes 
(small diameter on the drive wheel and a large diameter one
on the tension wheel to keep torque high
while simultaneously regulating the speed of the belts).

We will manufacture paper mache ball bearings from small spit wad sized
paper balls, held together with a paste of flour and water
(a paper tube in a paper supporting ring, without bearings, creates too much friction).

We will assure bearing roundness by rolling them in a circular fashion...
under a flat sheet of cardboard while on a hard and flat surface, as they dry....
..........
.......
...

NO...
we won't have time for the automatic loading system I am afraid.

Everything else was true though.
Forgive me...I couldn't resist  :)
(you didn't really believe me did you? :)

(now you know the reason for this particular song)

---------------




This was Alex's homework for today 
(just the first half...the second half will be done in school).

Today was brainstorming of the coaster design...
the naming of it...
and the scaled down drawing of one half of it.


The following are his project instructions.









This shall be this weekend's project.

So long as we don't get hit with another short term project 
before completion of this one...
we should be OK.

Poor Alex...
he was a bit grumpy today due to a lack of sleep.

Tomorrow is going to be an easy day for him...
just regular homework while I go materials shopping.

He has been working so hard.
I promised him a short trip to Lake Tahoe this Thursday
for a day of relaxation (no school this Thursday or Friday).

However...
starting Friday until whenever we finish...
(hopefully by sometime Sunday)
it is Dragon Flight construction...
testing...
data compilation and analysis...
and report completion.


"Coral Academy Of Science is living up to its name."...
a direct quote from Alex after showing me his project instructions.

Remember...
this assignment is from one of his Math classes.

Social Studies incorporates advanced writing assignments in its projects.
Some Math classes incorporate applied math through fundamental physics projects.

Although Alex is starting to feel a little pressured right now due to the 
simultaneous projects he needs to complete soon...
with more on the horizon...
he is also feeling more confident with each experiment 
or writing assignment he completes.

This is good ...
a little tiring...
but very good  :)




Monday, September 24, 2012

Alex's Roller Coaster Project - Stage I



Song:  Hummingbird

Artist:  George Winston


Alex has another project to do...this one is for one of his Math classes
(two of his Math teachers specialize in Physics).

He will have to complete his Historical Comparative Analysis report this weekend.
By next weekend, all of his science project material should be in.
We will get the experiment up and running so he could start his data collection...
and then we will get this project tackled...
hopefully before another project comes our way :)

He must not only research information with cites and a hypothesis
on the predicted forces in play on a roller coaster...
he must build an actual working model of one only from
a paper product and glue or tape...
complete with loops and curves...etc.
(A paper roller coaster?  Well, cardboard is a paper product.
That should provide rigidity....allowing us to build the supporting 
structural posts and struts with far fewer pieces of paper product.
The track will be relatively simple...except whenever it turns or loops :(
and Guerrilla Tape should bond it well :)

A marble will have to complete at least 20 circuits with appropriate data recorded
on transit times and any methods used to speed the transit times...
including increasing height of drops...
tightening curves or loops...etc.
(I don't have all the details on it yet.  I don't know if we will have to make it
self running using a motor or not).

He will then have to compile his data and present it
along with a working demonstration of his marble roller coaster.

Alex just got assigned this project today.
He said he didn't remember if the Hypothesis...
 Research and Cite paper was due tomorrow or on Monday...sheeesh!

So he had to finish his normal homework first and then he completed 
the initial part of his project just a little while ago...just in case.


He ended up missing an hour and a half of sleep time in order to do this.





On this paperwork...
Alex did all of the research and citing...
and he typed up his draft... in a few hours
(he is getting more efficient...in the future it will take him far less time).

He then let me know he was finished.
I did just a little bit of editing...a few corrections...
almost everything was his efforts and wording.

I was surprised.
He has improved so much in his writing skills.
He says he now enjoys essays and reports much more
(of course...he is getting much better at it with all of this practice :)

His reading comprehension is usually pretty good if the material is logical.

He has a more difficult time discerning human affairs...
intent or emotional responses...
but he is also improving in that department.

Alex just now went to bed.

He ended up falling asleep on the sofa while finishing up his daily English 
reading assignment.  I woke him up and tried to usher him off to bed.
He was a little grumpy but he said he wanted 
to finish his reading synopsis before going to bed 
(he always wants to finish what he starts).

After brushing and flossing his teeth...
he came in... in a much better mood...
and gave me a big goodnight hug.

I told him how well he had done today.
He gave me a big smile...
and went to bed
(time 11 P.M.).

I think he will remember to bring back all of the details of his assignment next time  :)



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Alex's Constitutional Day Poster



Song:  Remembrance 

Artist:  George Winston




Alex had an assignment to construct a poster with a U.S. Constitutional theme base.
He had just finished it earlier today.

It had to incorporate portions from the U.S. Constitution...
the Amendments...and/or the Bill Of Rights.



This was Alex's first attempt to draw the statue of liberty.
Neither, Alex, nor I, can draw well...so this task took a little doing.

(crossed flintlock rifles on the shield...I thought it needed to be explained  :)

My wife headed the art portion of this project
(she had Alex trace the We the People and the feather).
She helped him revise his drawings.
I helped him with the themed wording.

I gave him a basic idea...
and I told him to put it into his words...
and to use some of the actual wording in the Presidential Pledge...
and some from the Second Amendment.


It states:

Freedom is assured only behind the shield of arms.
Military strength to protect from enemies foreign.
The right of the people to keep and bear arms to protect from enemies domestic.

--------------

If there is only one thing one must get from history...
the good must be strong...
if peace is to be assured for all.

It is weakness which breeds tyranny.

It is always the people living in peace... 
without the means to protect themselves...
who become the prey.

Always remember...
in order to accomplish ANYTHING...
you must have the will (peace)...
AND the way (arms).

It is not because I deem it so...
it is because human nature and HISTORY deems it so.

I have emphasized this to Alex throughout his history lessons.

Having the will for peace...
and the way of arms to ensure it for all.

That, in a nutshell...
is what America IS.

--------------

P.S.:  Our veterans....especially our front line combat veterans...
live and breathe the way of arms to defend our will for peace.

Respect them...
they have already earned a lifetime of it.

Remember our fallen...
they had risked everything for everyone else...
even those who couldn't OR wouldn't take that same risk.

They are of our warrior class.

Before you even let the word hero escape your lips...
in the all too often casually and misspoken manner in which it is thrown about...
THESE are the ones who should be at the top of that list.



A Note To Young Couples



Song:  Thanksgiving

Artist:  George Winston



This is just a quick article from a middle aged family man.

In the overall scheme of things...
I am very happy
(sure...minor day to day frustrations...nothing major)

I love life so much...yet if I were to die tomorrow...I could do so without regrets.

My greatest happiness in life?

My son Alex.


The timing of my son's birth...
preplanned 
(yes...he was not only planned...but on our first try!)

When I say preplanned...
I mean in our readiness to have a child as the center of our lives...
more important to us than anything else.

We were able to focus our attention on him because we had already lived 
our lives fully (traveled...had our adventures together)...
so we would never feel as if we had missed something in life...
and so, not have our full attention devoted to our child.

I was almost 41 years old when my son was born.
I am not saying this is the optimum age for parents...
it just took me that long to mature enough  :)

We also preplanned his conception through coordinated action to
 timing of ovulation (sorry...I tried to be as nondescript as possible)...
and various other means to favor conception.

To all young couples...
children can wait until you are financially stabilized...
until you have a home for them
(my mother in law says, "Even a bird knows to build a nest before it lays eggs!")
until you, as a couple, have lived a few years of adventure...
of travel, of getting to know each other well...
so you won't feel robbed of life...
so you may fully dedicate your lives to his/hers.


So why did I really wait so long if being a parent is so wonderful?

Because...
having a child was not something to make me happy...
it was being able to have someone whom I could make happy.

In order to do this...
I had to make sure everything was in order in my life.

When I was ready...
I had already taken stock of my life.
I had to make sure I was worthy of being a father...
someone who could provide a safe, stable, and nurturing life for him...
someone with enough life experience and maturity...
to lead a child in life...
 to teach him the ways of the world...
to share life experiences with him...
all without regret.


The questions to ask yourself are NOT...
Do I want a child now?
Will he make me happy?
Will he solidify our marriage?

The questions to ask are...
Am I ready to devote my life to my child?
Can I provide full love and nurturing for him?
Can I provide all the optimum conditions worthy of a child?
Am I now worthy of a child?
Am I willing to make my time...his time?

Finally...
always remember...
we had the choice to have them...
they didn't.

It is we who owe them...
not they who owe us.

Our return on our investment?

Love...
the deepest love one can experience...
the love for your child
(a selfless love which naturally leads to a love of life...of everything around you).


There is this old wise saying...

You know you are living and loving fully when you no longer fear death.
You no longer run from things in life...
you forevermore run towards love and life.

Ok...I just made that one up  :)


Once A Month Math Day Camp



Song:  Woods

Artist:  George Winston



Alex's Math Competition teacher has organized a once a month special "Day Camp".

It takes place at the school and on a Saturday.

The camp focuses on competition math problems 
while interspersing the day with food and fun.


Today's "Day Camp" was a special half day. 
 It was the first "Day Camp" so it was just from 10 AM to 2 PM.

The others are going from 9 AM to 5 PM.

As we hadn't known the number of children in attendance for this first day...
we supplied extra bagels for their lunch
(other parents supplied other food items).


Alex in his school uniform.
We hadn't realized that this is a special informal math day.
In the future, he may just attend in his regular clothes.


Alex had fun at his Math Day Camp.

The teacher structured dedicated problem solving sessions with exercise and fun 
 between each session to keep their energy and interest levels up.

She wants to keep it fun for the children.

They are also preparing for a MathCounts Reel Math Challenge.

The children are to make a video with a math theme and enter it into
a contest.  One of the other parents is going to be in charge of the project.

The winner of last year's competition was well done.
It had shown some children faced with a dilemma which was...
of course...solved through the use of math
(the film demonstrated the problem to solve and how it was solved).

It is a national contest.  
It will be interesting to see what they come up with.


Alex's school has afforded him great opportunities.
He loves his twice a week after school AMC 10 course.






Alex was allowed to attend this after school math club because the instructor 
was the same instructor at Alex's week long Math Camp at Lake Tahoe.

They worked on the AMC 10 problems there
and Alex did well on them...
so he knows Alex's capabilities.

As Alex is just in the beginning stages of his Math competitions...
and he has plenty of time to learn more...
we foresee a great time for him in the future.

He loves taking tests and doing competitions.
He likes getting on stage to perform.

Alex is so brave in these type of situations.

Alex is a true Tiger.

He takes on challenges and works towards his goals.


Although I have much to teach him about life...
he is well on his way to being a much better person than I have ever been...
in all respects.

This is the duty of every parent...
to improve the next generation.

So long as Alex can always view beyond the horizon...
he will be able to find new happiness...
in either adapting to his surroundings...
changing the situation to adapt to him...
or in changing his surroundings...
 so he may never have to suffer
the mind numbing effects of stagnation.

To have Alex reach his true potential...
to have him thoroughly love life...
this is my dream to see to fruition...
one Alex moment at a time.

I will have a message to young couples in my next article
(some may assume me being rather arrogant to put forth such an article.
All I can say is that if you truly knew me...you would not assume such a thing....
you would thoroughly know it  :)




Monday, September 17, 2012

Alex's Acceptance to SET (Study Of Exceptional Talent)



Song:  Autumn

Artist:  George Winston




We just received Alex's formal acceptance letter as a
Johns Hopkins University Study Of Exceptional Talent (SET) new member.

SET accepts applications from around the world...
although it is chiefly known in the U.S.
(to qualify for SET... a child must score at least 700 on the math or verbal 
SAT (College Entrance Exam) before the age of 13...Alex did it at 11 years old).

There were a total of 70 new recruits for this quarter year
(one from Hong Kong...one from South Korea also).

Alex's picture and a small caption describing a little about him is included
in the pictured newsletter (Alex's acceptance letter is the middle paper).


This picture is of Alex in his Coral Academy of Science uniform 
that SET used for this newsletter.


One minor mistake in the caption.
Alex had placed in the top eight for Northern Nevada...
we don't know how he placed over all
(there was a competition for the North and one for the South).

However...
Alex competed as a 6th grader (his first math competition)
against mostly seasoned veterans on a three week notice
(it was an open competition from grades 6 - 8 against one another...
many of the top competitors were 8th graders and in their third competition).




Alex pointing out his picture in the newsletter.



Alex excitedly reading his caption.


Alex reading some of the other captions.


Alex loves learning and doing well.

He always feels honored whenever his efforts are recognized.

He gets filled with true earned pride and this helps motivate him even more.

I must point out once again...
while Alex has done well in his academics...
he, in no way, has an elitist attitude.

He knows there are plenty of smart children in the world...
and that it is his study habits that play a pivotal role in his successes.

He also knows that children who are academically average now...
can easily overtake him in academics, and in life, should he lose his focus and drive.

It is the drive to excel which separates people later in life...
more than any other attribute.

This is what our main focus has always been.

By stimulating his drive to excel through positive reinforcement 
of all of his positive attributes and true accomplishments...
he developed a love of learning...which, in turn, engendered his drive.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Alex's Science Project - Stage II



Song:  The Crystal Ship

Artist:  George Winston


First of all...
by showing Alex's projects, and the steps taken in arriving at his results...
I hope to help other parents help their children.

Just as each of Alex's reports or projects gives him a template from which
he may use in similar future projects...the same may apply to your children.

I hope that by laying out Alex's steps in his projects...
it will make it easier for all those parents who don't have the free time that I do.

By following the same format I will lay out...
it will make it easier for you, the hard working parent...
to guide your child in these areas.


As this is Alex's first science project...
I am walking him through it...
while I am teaching him each area.

I stress the reasons why certain things are done...
and the correct set up of an experiment (a simple one).

When the actual experiment begins...
he will be doing all the hands on work and documentation
(under my supervision).

He will also be doing the data analysis and presentation.

Alex is now in the second stage of his Science Project.

Besides typing up his Materials List and his Hypothesis...
he has typed up his experiment's Variables and Controls.


First is his Hypothesis:
(as explained in a previous article)



Alex typed out his Materials List...
and we are awaiting delivery of each.


Alex typed out his Variables and Controls papers for his experiment today.

Again...
as this is Alex's first science experiment...
I walked him through the necessary steps to take.

I taught him what each area meant and how to incorporate them
into an actual experiment.  I taught him the importance of the controls
and the strict controlling of the variables...just as a Science Teacher would.








As Alex is still not feeling well...
he is going to complete his Research and Bibliography paper next weekend.



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