Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Alex Completed Intro To Physics - Udacity



Song:  Monday

Artist:  Ludovico Einaudi




About three weeks ago...
Alex started Udacity's on line introductory course on Physics.

It covered 7 chapters of the basics of Physics.

Alex finished it, and received his certificate...
with highest distinction.

Alex was taking this course...
along with a Statistics course (he is halfway through)...
his Calculus II course (he is almost done)...
in conjunction with his other daily studies.

Alex does all of these courses 
(along with all of his other daily studies)
on his own on a daily basis...
after which I engage him with his reading comprehension
and critical reasoning practice...
and we then finish up with his physical training.



Alex just loves learning new things.

He is presently reading one of his Science books:



Alex loves reading on the sofa...
in his "spot"  :)


Below is a few pictures of Alex's actual Physics guide as he had printed it out:





Alex hopes to get extra credit for his 30 page Physics guide...
(from his science class) shortly after school starts in early August.

We will be taking Alex out to eat shortly.
He will get to enjoy Indian food tonight
(he loves Tandoori Chicken and Naan).

It is always such a pleasure to see Alex enjoy himself.

He always works so hard to prepare for his future.
He deserves all of life's simple pleasures...
as he has already earned them.





A Lesson For Alex - Three Incidents Of Inconsideration


Song:  Echoes - Acoustic Version

Group:  Pink Floyd


While I am a very happy person...
one who loves love and life...
one who loves to laugh and share...
I also get quite peeved (for but a few moments)...
on an almost daily basis whenever I mix in with inconsiderate people
(they are EVERYWHERE  :)

As I have said before...
I feel things quickly, deeply and strongly.

Although I have a very quick temper...
my anger truly lasts a few seconds to just a few moments.

I very quickly return to being a very happy individual
after I have, either released my anger verbally...
or I have formulated a plan to leave the offending party behind.

Just like many people...
I experience many of my frustrations on the road.

I will see so many things about to happen...
incidents which could easily be avoided were the other driver 
not so selfish and inconsiderate...and sure enough...
they either do the action...or do not do that which they should have.

I will then usually give out a loud roar (yes...like a tiger :)
(my wife HATES it when I do this...it startles her  :)...
or I will call the person an appropriate name...
and then I am usually happy once again.

However...
last night, there were three incidents of inconsideration...
all within two hours...
the last of which had almost proved to be disastrous.

We were going to one of our favorite Sushi restaurants.
On the way there (in the fast lane)...
there was a car ahead of us which was going 20% slower 
than he should have been.

At light after light...
he would slow down way too soon...
and way too much.

When I finally got to go around him...
I had seen in the rearview mirror that traffic was backed up behind him.

He could have been intoxicated...
as many who are...
try to drive extra cautiously.

I had remarked to Alex that he was either intoxicated...
or that he was very inconsiderate towards others.

By his driving extra slowly...
he may have felt safe...
but he was forcing others into a bottle neck...
which actually makes it more dangerous for all.

Well...ok...
incident over...
lesson told to Alex...
we then arrived at the restaurant.


We ate our meal...
ordered our dessert
(it was still 40 minutes before closing at this time)...
and then a STRONG odor of bleach reached our noses.

My eyes were actually starting to water some.

I was looking around to find out who was cleaning.

Some of the Sushi chefs were moping behind the counter with this noxious solution
(don't get me wrong...it is good that they were using a strong bleach solution
to clean with...just not when the restaurant was still open).

I saw that the owner was not there on this night
(he would not have allowed them to do this.
The employees wanted to get off of work early by cleaning early).

I asked a waitress to get me the manager
(you had to know I was going to do this :).

When the manager came over...
I had first asked him if his eyes were watering.

He looked at me quizzically...
and I then told him that mine were...
and I had told him why.

I had told him that smell greatly affects taste
(as if anyone need be told this)...
 that it was still 40 minutes BEFORE closing time...
 that they shouldn't be deep cleaning while ANY customers were still there...
and that the customer pays for the ambiance as well as for the food.

I was not rude in my delivery.
The manager just apologized and said nothing afterwards.

I then looked at him as if he thought I were stupid...
as if I would somehow accept a mere apology
and pretend that the matter was concluded.

An apology is only the first step.

I then asked him if they intended to do such actions in the future.
It was only at this point that he indicated that they would not
(there you go...it should have been the very first thing out of his mouth).

So, am I just a cantankerous old man?

If you think so...think again.
The customers pay for the ambiance as well as for the food.

By the chefs ruining the ambiance...
and by ruining the smell...the taste of the food...
all for THEIR convenience...
 they were, in essence, stealing from the customers.

They were doing it because no one had said anything to them.

The chefs were taking advantage of people's good nature...
because people in general...
do not wish to be labeled as ill natured by others (uncool).

They knew that most will not say anything...
as most go monkey (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil)...
when in an awkward social situation.

I speak up...
not only because I wish to correct an unjust situation...
not just to make me feel better...
but to teach Alex that he is not to be a monkey...
or one of the sheeple 
(one who does things solely because of societal decree...
not because of that which is right or truly reasonable).

Always remember...
a child learns from not just what you say...
but from what you do...
and if there is any contradiction between the two...
he will learn by what you do...
and he will learn to NOT listen to what you say.


Ok...
now, we were driving home.

I am driving through an intersection...
and there is merging traffic to my right.

I see a car speeding up to merge in front of me...
he gets halfway in the lane...
and then slows and stops!

There is traffic going by to my left...
I can't go forward...I can't go left...
and sure enough...
I see a car rapidly approaching my rear.

At this point, I am honking and yelling "GO"!!!

The guy behind finally sees the situation...
panic brakes and turns to the right...
and his car ends up almost sideways behind our car.

The bonehead in front finally accelerates, and I then continue on.

I am still amazed at how many people don't know how to merge in traffic
(I usually drive in the fast lane because of this).

So many people drive with the attitude that no one else matters.

I, of course, tell Alex of how inconsiderate so many people are...
and that when it manifests itself on the road...
there is great danger of injury or death.


We had but a few miles to go before reaching home...
and I spoke to Alex of how so many people do not realize
that inconsideration closes doors of opportunity...
and how most never realize it.

People must know how to work with others...
how to function as part of a group.

Smart people can read others...
maybe not every time...or at first...
but they eventually tier people as to how 
valuable they are for the future...
as friends...and in the case of employment...
for additional responsibilities.

A smart person not only knows the value of being considerate...
not only to keep from creating unnecessary enemies from potential allies...
but he knows that by default...
someone who is unnecessarily rude or inconsiderate...
is not so smart...
that they lack foresight...
and so, they distance themselves from them...
and if they are in a position to affect the career path of people...
they never open the doors of opportunity for those inconsiderate people.

Willfully stupid people
(not those who cannot...but those who simply CHOOSE NOT)...
usually end up sabotaging their lives because they never realize 
the importance of simple consideration of others...
because they stupidly think that others are stupid...
that others cannot read body language, language inflection and timing...
that others cannot see simple cause and effect...
and especially that others cannot read their actions or inactions over time...
of which these being the most accurate way of telling the true intent of the person.

Simple consideration of others is an essential life skill...
that which will serve your child well throughout life.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alex's Sunday Swim - Daily Makiwara Training



Song:  Knight's March

Artist:  Hans Zimmer




I take Alex swimming twice a week.
There are 4 nearby public pools...
two outdoor pools...
and two indoor pools.

Today, I took Alex to an outdoor pool.


It was a little cool and breezy...
and as a result...
for the whole of Alex's swim...
he was the only one in the pool.

For the first half of his swim...
I had him practice his Breast Stroke across the pool...
and his Survival Stroke on the way back.



Afterwards...
he just had free swim...


although, he just did a lot of floating.

Alex loves the feeling of weightlessness in the water...
the feeling of just floating.


Alex also practiced underwater swimming...
although he still has a problem staying underwater...
he keeps floating to the surface.


We got home and Alex then prepared for his Sunday Weight Training.

I incorporated a daily practice session before his normal workout...
the Makiwara.


 Makiwara literally means "wrapped straw".

A slightly flexible anchored board was originally wrapped in rice straw
at the striking portion to protect the body surface used in striking the board.

It (or some forms of it) was used to train correct body mechanics 
and bone alignment, in many striking martial arts.

This was Alex's first time to use one.
He will be using it on a daily basis from now on.


I will add some greater padding on the striking surface...
as it is only a few pieces of leather at the moment...
or I may have him use gel padded gloves.

You will notice that Alex's fist (striking with just the first two knuckles)...
is at an angle of approximately 45 degrees or so 
(off the vertical fist from the first knuckle).

Besides being the most mechanically sound position to make initial contact...
the fist being turned over (so the palm faces downward - 90 degrees) is only supposed 
to happen at completion of the strike.

The fist makes its final twist immediately after initial contact for the follow through
(punching through the object).

You will see pictures of practitioners of Karate with a 90 degree fist (palm down)...
however, you must realize that the final twist happens very quickly...
and the pictures are showing the completed strike.

As soon as the fist is turned over...
there is no more forward motion of the body.

The idea is to force as much bending of the Makiwara...
as a result of kinetic energy developed through total body momentum.


As the Makiwara is traditionally very rigid...
it forces correct body mechanics and alignment.

As it will not give much...
if the person striking does...
he will know immediately...
not only that his body was out of alignment...
but where (it is this point which will give...
or after many hundreds of strikes...
the incorrectly aligned point will be sore).

When a strike is perceived as effortless...
and it is the board which gives...and not any body part...
everything is aligned, and the body mechanics are sound.


So why have Alex strike a Makiwara when he also hits bags?


The Makiwara teaches the essence of all strikes
(not hitting through muscular force at impact...
muscular force merely imparts body momentum.
 It is all in the proper use of bodily kinetic energy).

It is through balance, correct bone alignment, and a correct fulcrum...
which gives almost effortless transfer of the body's kinetic energy into the target
(Heavy foot...lead foot is the fulcrum).

When the largest muscles of the body operate as whole...
effective initiation of body rotation over the fulcrum happens very quickly.

The limbs are just to transfer the body's kinetic energy through correct timing...
 which will give correct bone alignment at the moment of transfer.



Need a person learn how to strike on the Makiwara?

No.

However...
a person may more easily learn how to punch incorrectly using a bag.

Why?

Because, as a bag has more give...
it is more forgiving of mistakes and body misalignment.


With a Makiwara...
there is direct feedback with each strike.


I am having Alex start out slowly and cautiously.

A hard misaligned punch can easily break a person's wrist...
thumb or fingers...
or can lead to tendon or ligament problems there, or elsewhere.

Even with correct alignment...
the repetitions must be built up slowly (10 reps added per week)...
as micro fractures in the bones of the hand
can add up to an eventual breakage of the affected bones.

The bones, tendons, and ligaments of the body will actually
thicken and toughen, so long as the body is allowed to recover
by not being overwhelmed by either...
acute, or, chronic stressors.


Why teach anyone how to hit fast and hard?

Self defense.

I am not training Alex for competition.

The idea is not to score points with many fast hits...
the idea is to strike only when necessary...
and with the idea that only one strike will be necessary
(although, I am training him for follow ups).
The whole idea is efficient and effective motion
(fast and hard...without unnecessary tension).


There are evil people in the world.

As a young man...
Alex will, one day...
be faced with someone who will threaten him with
great bodily injury or death.

He must be prepared for that day.

For this...
there is only one way to train...
daily...and with deadly seriousness.



Alex then finished up with his Sunday weight training.

Weighted incline situps...




and with Deadlifts.



As Alex is just getting back into regular training
(many interruptions of illness, math competitions...etc)...
we are moving forward slowly and surely...
and with a passion...
 so it will be a life long endeavor.








Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Art Of Problem Solving - A New Competitive Math Game - FTW



Song:  Fly

Artist:  Ludovico Einaudi








Alex began playing a new game from the Art Of Problem Solving...
FTW (For The Win).

Young mathematicians may register and take a pseudonym...
and they may then play others in a game of mathematical
problem solving involving accuracy and quickness.

The players are ranked...
which provides additional motivation.

The word problems involve Combinatorics, Algebra, and/or Geometry...
at least so far as Alex has experienced.

Just today...
Alex has played over 100 games against others.

Alex says he really loves playing because of...
the diversity of the problems...
the rate of game play (quick)...
the ability to chat with other players...
you may review the questions at the end of the round with the provided answers 
so you may learn how the problems are correctly solved.

This great new game from the Art of Problem Solving site
provides learning and competition
for all of the young mathematicians in the world...
 who simply love math.

And...
just as is Alcumus...
FTW is also free.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Alex's Weekly Bike Ride 2 - Boca Reservoir



Song:  Alexandria

Artist:  Ludovico Einaudi


For this week's long bike ride...
we went to Boca Reservoir to ride around part of the shore line.

This was a much more technical ride for Alex.

He had deep loose gravel and dirt...
inclines and declines...
dry rivulets to cross...
and perpendicular declines to contend with.



Alex putting on his bike helmet...


his day pack...


and we are ready to start our ride.


Alex had to walk his bike up this incline as the dirt was loose.



Alex resting... as it had taken extra effort from him to reach this point.



Alex had fallen a few times...
and on one of them...
he had broken the rear reflector on his bike  :)

He had, however...
neither given up, nor had he gotten upset.

He had merely gotten back on and re-attempted the ride...
without complaint (a true warrior's spirit).



We are back at the minivan.

This ride was too short...
 so we decided to load up and drive to another area at Boca Reservoir.






I wanted to take one more picture as we were leaving this section of the reservoir.
I knew we would never be going back to this particular section.
I had almost gotten stuck trying to drive back out from the reservoir.

It had taken me many attempts to get past one particularly steep incline...
which was coupled with loose dirt...
and multiple perpendicular deep furrows on the road.



We arrived at another shoreline dirt trail a couple of miles down the road.


This was a much tamer trail...
and there was a constant cooling breeze off the water.





The deep and loose gravel and dirt in certain areas...
had proven to be the most difficult terrain type for Alex to navigate.


Alex started to learn that previously built momentum without subsequently made
 sharp deviations in direction while under a constant rate of pedaling
would keep him stable and moving forward in most cases.

On some areas where the road was at a perpendicular decline with loose gravel...
his rear tire had started to slide out.

He automatically increased his rate of pedaling... 
and his rear tire drove the bike forward enough for his bike to stabilize.  
He had learned how to effectively recover from what had caused 
many of his falls from earlier in the day.



One last water break for Alex.  
This time, he had not only drunk the water...
he had poured it over the top of his head.

The sudden coolness put a big smile on his face  :)



We had a very fun, and productive day of riding.
Alex is much more comfortable on his mountain bike now.
He has improved so much in knowing how to handle his bike.

Next week, Alex will be participating in a study at Stanford University (in CA).
We will be staying at my elder sister's house for the duration of the study
(she lives but half an hour from Stanford University).

While there...
we plan to visit Santa Cruz...
and San Francisco.

When we get back...
we will find another bike trail to ride
(perhaps the Donner Lake area).

I am always searching for interesting places for Alex to explore on his bike.

I want him to have a great adventure every time we ride...
although...we will also pick out a favorite place for extended riding...
one which is not too technical, so we may put in many miles of riding at a time... 
every so often.


On our way home, Alex had used his iPad to FaceTime his mother.

She was cooking dinner.

When we had arrived home...
Alex took a shower...
and then had a nice dinner.

Earlier today (before our bike ride)...
Alex took his Chapter 18 test in his Calculus II program (of 22 total chapters).

Although he had missed a couple of problems (2 out of 20)...
he found out why he had gotten the two problems incorrect...
and he had then answered them correctly.

Alex is moving along smoothly in his daily studies.
He enjoys his daily routine...
as well as his outings.

Alex, and I, always look forward to our weekend bike rides
(we decided to go today for this once...instead of on Sat.).

Always remember...
closely spaced objectives...
closely spaced rewards.

Keep feeding their drive...
they will then take care of the results.









Thursday, June 20, 2013

Critical Reasoning Practice For Alex - Word Against Word



Song:  Ora

Artist:  Ludovico Einaudi


During Alex's Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning practice today...
we had gone through another portion of his court trial book
(we are presently reviewing the Nuremberg Trials).

Alex had read an affidavit of one of the witnesses...
a former S.S. soldier who was being given immunity in return for his testimony
against the three top people under Hitler before, and during, the war.

(Alex played the part of the defense lawyer)

At first, Alex hadn't thought about the significance of coercion or bribery
on the perceived purity of the testimony
(not that what he was saying was necessarily not true...
just that on the principle of one word against another...it was wrong...
without further corroboration)...
I brought it up for him to think about.

Witness testimony should be used as a pointer toward discovery
of further evidence...not as evidence in of itself...not even in quantity.

To suspect the person...yes.
To convict and sentence purely on witness testimony...no.

Besides coercion and bribery...
there are mistakes...
false memory (many reasons for this)...
innumerable motives of the witness to falsify testimony...etc.


I then moved to witness testimony in the general sense
(not of the Nuremberg Trials or of any trial in particular).

I had explained to him that morally...
and in most cases...
strictly speaking...legally
 (in the U.S. ... ALL are EQUAL under the law...
although this constitutional RIGHT is frequently trodden upon (14th Amendment)...
and yes...it states that all are to be given equal protection under the law...
and for each State...not necessarily Federal.  However, to not have an 
equal voice to defend... is to have prejudicial laws against all accused from the outset...
and so, is to deny equal protection under the law)...
and so, by definition...one person's word is just as valid as another's...
an accuser's word is no better than the accused's word.

I had explained to Alex to just think of it mathematically.

A negative statement is a -1 (accuser)...
and a positive statement is a +1 (accused)...
even if there are multiple statements against...
the accused has multiple statements for...
and they cancel each other out
(absent all other corroborating evidence).

I know many feel that the many should carry more weight...
but each should be considered separately.

Why?

It is not merely a matter of possible conspiracy...
but one of possible complicity...
or mistakes happening for the same reason for the many as for the one...
any number of reasons.


A very practical reason exits to never have one person's word
count for more than another's. 

Whenever you make it easy for one person to defeat another...
one which takes very little effort on their part...
and an immense amount of effort to defend against for the accused...
it then becomes easy for those of evil to triumph.

It becomes a simple war of attrition.

The accuser can make you, either suffer the subsequent penalties of the accusations...
or spend all of your time and resources defending against them.

All they have to do is say a few words...
and force you to spend extraordinary amounts...time and again.  
They could have you chasing your own tail endlessly...
with just a point of their finger and a simple exclamation...
and all with none of their resources spent...
and with the full backing and the endless resources of a much larger ruling entity.


Common sense you say?

How many times have you been subjected to false and damaging rumors?


There are five basic steps upon hearing a testimony 
(not in the legal... but in the everyday sense):

1)  Listening carefully, critically thinking about what was said...
and what was not said 
(that which should have happened or had been said were it true)...
thinking about other possibilities that could explain it...
weighing all the supporting evidence...
questioning the accuser.


2)  Either dismissing it because of inherent contradictions... 
logical fallacies utilized...factually incorrect...
or further investigating based on merit.


3)  Suspect - you have a right to be cautious...
but not to condemn them.

4)  Convict (sure enough to take protective measures) - not necessarily sentence. 

5)  Sentence (only when guilt is undeniable) - take proactive measures.  
Factor in mitigating circumstances.


Steps 1 - 3 are self explanatory.
The separation between 4 and 5 is not so easily distinguishable.


I will use the example I had given Alex earlier today.

I said that he was in his home (as a grown up).
He had two friends over...
one in a blue shirt...
one in a red shirt.

They were in the living room talking.
Alex had then taken off his expensive watch...
placed it in a protective glass dome on the mantle...
and had then gone to use the bathroom.

Upon his return...
all three continued with their conversation...
and a few hours later...his guests had departed.

Alex had not left the room since after his bathroom visit.
After seeing his friends off from his front door (next to the living room)...
he walked over to admire his watch...only to find it missing.

---------

I asked Alex what he would have done under these circumstances.
He said that although he would have to suspect both...
he couldn't yet condemn either.

----------

After pondering the implications...
and deciding that both had to be suspected at the moment...
he called both back to his house.

Upon their arrival...
Alex explained the problem and asked the red shirted friend 
what he knew about it
(both, at this point, were provisionary friends).

The red shirted friend said that he had seen the blue shirted friend take the watch.

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

I then asked Alex what this immediately told him.
He said he wasn't sure.  I told him that he knew that
if he had told the truth...he was, at the very least...
guilty of betraying him for not telling him of the other's betrayal.
If he had not told the truth, he was the guilty party.
The red shirted friend should then be sentenced to oblivion
(further friendship denied).

-----------

I then said that upon questioning the blue shirted friend...
he said that he had no knowledge of the watch having been missing.

Alex then questioned him as to how he could not have seen the other take the watch.
The blue shirted friend said that he had momentarily gone back to his car...
and at this time, the red shirted friend could have taken the watch
 without having been seen.

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

I told Alex that it meant the blue shirted friend was
either guilty of stealing it or completely innocent of it
(barring complicated scenarios).

I then asked Alex what he would do.

Alex said there was not enough evidence to convict him...
but the possibility of him having been the thief still existed.
Alex was unsure as to how to proceed from there.

I said the point was moot...
and that he should be treated as if he were innocent.

I told him that even if he were guilty...
he knew that he could never get away with it again in the future...
and so he would be on his best behavior from that point forward.

If he were innocent...
 to treat him with unfair suspicion would be to 
condemn a possibly innocent man.


This, of course, implies any number of adages:

It is better to free a guilty man...
than to condemn an innocent one.

It is better to be betrayed...
than to be the betrayer
(for good people).

Treat others as you would have them treat you.

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

And for an oldie but goodie
(although it doesn't necessarily apply)....

Treat me well...
I will treat you better.

Treat me poorly...
I will treat you worse  :)


Sorry...
I just love that one  :)
















A Closer Look Into The Art Of Problem Solving Texts



Song:  Indaco

Artist:  Ludovico Einaudi




Alex always gets excited when he gets new books...
especially ones involving math. 


Alex has long loved Alcumus
 (a competitive math online program in The Art Of Problem Solving site).

His mother had recently bought him a set of 4 books from 
The Art Of Problem Solving.

There are many texts available through them.


I recommend looking into The Art Of Problem Solving site.

If you have a child who really likes math...
there are many levels of Alcumus in which he may participate...
and there are many texts of which, for him, would be of great interest.


These books are now a part of his daily studies.

These texts cover:

Combinatorics
Probability
Number Theory
Set Theory
Logic
Algorithms
Graph Theory
Discrete Math











Alex likes going into the backyard on some of his breaks.

He likes looking at the plants in our container garden...
or just building rock pyramids.



As it is Summer...
I will be taking Alex to the swimming pool twice a week.

After his studies today...
he will get to go swimming...
 do his Thursday weight training...
shower...
then we will go out to eat a nice dinner
(we have been craving Sushi).

Alex works so diligently in all of his studies.
It is such a privilege for me to be able to take him places...
to give him new and exciting life experiences...
and well earned rewards.








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