Euclid’s Elements

Title page of Sir Henry Billingsley’s first English version of Euclid’s Elements, 1570. Image: Public Domain

Ever want to read about Euclidean geometry from the man himself? Thanks to a Facebook friend, I’ve learned that Euclid’s Elements is free online. Obviously out of copyright and all. Being Euclid. Though it’s had to be translated into English and such. Regardless, it’s available online. For free.

Fun with geometry! One of my favorite maths. Anyone have a favorite theorem or postulate? I’m partial to proofs. They’re like fun logic puzzles with a purpose!

Image: Wikimedia
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Kids Grow.

Height chart for girls. Image: Public Domain

Yeah. It’s official. My daughter is as tall as I am. My son is still several inches shorter, so I don’t feel too bad yet. But my girl, almost age 13, is the same height as me. I am wondering how much she will grow in height, if any. I don’t remember when I reached my full height, but it was probably pretty close to her age. But as I’m the shortest adult in my family, it is likely that she will be taller than me. I’ve come to terms with being the shortest. I’m not short, per se. Just… not tall. Yeah, that’s it.

One advantage of her growth has been being able to share shoes, and being able to pass down certain bits of clothing. She’s even gotten to the point where she’s passing shoes down to me.

I treasure every stage of my kids’ lives, and yes, I even look forward to their teen years. My kids are great kids, and I think they’re going to shine. From a higher vantage point than I did.


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Stephen Fry on Humanism

From his many superb acting roles and books to his hilarity on QI to Molly Lewis’s fantastic “An Open Letter to Stephen Fry,” I’ve been a fan of Stephen Fry for about two decades. Here he is, sort of taking on the subject of how to be happy without religion.

And add to that, as my friend Sarah suggests, be kind. Always be kind. To yourself, to others.

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Knifty Knitters: What to Do With Them?

These are some of their round looms. They also come in oblong, to make bags, sheets of knitted “fabric,” or whatever else your imagination comes up with. Image: Knifty Knitter

Several years ago, I learned about Knifty Knitters. A friend of mine enjoyed making hats and things on them, and so did his mother. It sounded so easy, and since I much prefer to crochet than knit, I thought I’d found a good way to get some knitted projects done. Not to mention my daughter was also very interested in learning how to use them.

I’m usually good at things. I am exceptionally good at following directions. But the whole process felt awkward. Perhaps I looped the yarn on too tightly. Or maybe I wasn’t patient enough. Or maybe I followed the directions wrong. But I just couldn’t get it.

Fast forward to last weekend. Rory ended up with a slouch hat made by a friend on a Knifty Knitter (or a loom like it). He adores it. I made sure he knew we had several of the looms. So last night, he pulled them out and started in on a test project. Since he isn’t a big knitter either (#teamcrochet), maybe he’ll churn out a dozen or two cool hats without resorting to using unwieldy knitting needles. It just goes to show that something that doesn’t work for one person might very easily work for another.

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Public Libraries Are Important

We can’t all have libraries as beautiful as the Melk Benedictine Abbey Library in Austria, but all libraries are awesome. Photo: Public Domain

We are fortunate to live in an area with a very active public library. Our area has a large retired population, and they often like to contribute money to local causes. Our local library system is a significant recipient of money and volunteers. Partly because of this, the library hosts all kinds of community activities, and we have taken great advantage of them since the kids were babies.

From story time to book clubs to puppet shows to science presentations to art classes to social opportunities for teens to Irish step dance performances to chamber music performances, our library system offers a wide variety of opportunities for learning and socializing. Not to mention the books and other materials on the shelves. And we take advantage of it all.

I like to give my kids as many kinds of experiences as possible, and our local library system is a significant component to this greater picture, along with children’s shows at the local community college, and various other activities. The kids really enjoy their time at the library, where we spend some time almost every week, and get a lot out of the classes, shows, and groups, in addition to the books they check out.

What are your favorite activities at your local library?

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Dolls, Dolls, Dolls!

Image: Stewart, Tabori and Chang


They are such a fun craft project. You only need very small scraps of a variety of kinds of fabric, thread, and a bit of stuffing, and you have made a one-of-a-kind toy for someone. Perhaps yourself, perhaps your kids, perhaps a kid at a shelter. They can be simple, or you can make them fancy with embellishments. Regardless, they’re a fun hand sewing project for kids and adults.

You can even host a doll-making party, supplying materials for your guests’ imaginations.

Me, I prefer to follow patterns, at least mostly. Some of my favorite doll patterns come from these places.

Wee Wonderfuls – By far my favorite go-to place for doll patterns and general cute-ness. For crafty inspiration, the blog is a good place to go, and she has a book out for many of her doll and toy patterns.

Martha Stewart (but it’s not her design) – I found this fantastic traditional doll pattern, complete with clothing options, on her show one time. I’ve made the pattern a couple of times, and it’s a winner if you want more realism and less cutesy.

Black Apple Doll – Also featured on Martha’s show, I found this doll long before that. See the blog here, find the pattern here.

What creations have you made?

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My Head Is a Barometer

Barometer, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

About half of the time, when we’re dealing with a low pressure, my head goes all cattywompus. I feel like it’s my own personal barometer. I get woozy, light headed, and sometimes dizzy. I feel it most when I turn my head, usually on two axes at once (like up and to the right).

Yesterday was another one of those days. They make it a challenge to exercise, or bend over at someone’s computer to help them with something, or to look at my shoes as I put them on. It never is a problem when driving, though. It always passes as quickly as it comes, and it’s more nuisance than anything else. But whee! Fun times. Welcome, spring!

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An Unexpected Email From SETI

The Phoenix Lander microscope shot the larger image, and the inset one is my augite photo. Larger photo: Public Domain from NASA. Inset photo: Jenny Williams

Last week, I received an unexpected email from a scientist at SETI. Long ago, my vision of the work SETI did involved little green men and radio signals from the sky. But they are actually working on all kinds of research with more immediate results.

Let’s rewind a year and a half. The kids and I went for a hike about 100 miles from home, near Flagstaff, Arizona, at a place called Red Mountain. We went with a group of people, of whom I only knew a few. An older guy, about 55 or so, was talking about being able to find some augite around the base of the mountain. I’d never heard of it, so I asked him about it, and the kids and I went a-hunting. Once we knew what to look for, we saw it everywhere. We collected a few samples and brought them home. I did a bit more research, and confirmed (as best I could) that what we were seeing was actually augite. A GeekDad post ensued, and that was that.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

Out of the blue, I got an email from Dr. John Marshall, a scientist at SETI. He has a long history of scientific work through SETI, NASA, and various universities. His background is in geology, among other things. So why was this guy writing me? The aforementioned augite.

The microscope in question. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA

Apparently, recent microscope images from the Phoenix Lander on Mars (Mars, guys!) showed some unusual rock shapes that were different from the surrounding ground material. Though the image is grainy, you can see the similarities between it and my photo of augite. My guess is that John was looking online for photos of similar rocks, and my photo came up. I have my Mars-colored orange-y red counter tops to thank for that one. So, in short, he wrote to me to see if he could use my photos in a scientific paper.

A very nice email conversation followed with him sending me the photos here in this post, and he asked (as I was hoping he would) if I would be willing to send him a sample of the rocks, which he could return. I was happy to oblige, and told him that he needn’t return the samples.

I am not sure how well they’ll be able to compare the Earth and Mars rock samples, since the Mars rocks are only grainy photos. But I am extremely happy to be able to contribute, even just a tiny bit, to furthering scientific research.

One thing that this experience has shown me is that you never know which decisions you make, actions you take, or words you use will affect your life later on. Serendipity is amazing. You put yourself out there in the world, and sometimes the world talks back. So I’ll continue to plant my seeds and see which ones bear fruit.

To all other scientists out there, I am at your disposal for any other scientific needs you may have.

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