Go Ask Your Father: Iron, Hemoglobin, Quarks, and Far Out Man

Happy Ground Hog Day! Our groundhog saw his shadow so it’s 6 more weeks of winter for us.

I love the snow. I love the cold. For now, anyway. When winter is over I’ll be done with it, but for now, I’m enjoying it. However, Mother Nature is playing roulette with the weather. Tuesday we had 6 inches of snow that cancelled school. Wednesday we had a half inch of ice that cancelled school. Today it’s raining and 4 C. Tonight the temperature will drop to -15. Sunday it goes back up to 3. Maybe she’s not playing roulette. Maybe she’s on a trampoline. Up. Down. Up. Down….

Bang was read a book about rockets and he came to the word sub-orbital. He sounded it out perfectly. Sub. Orbital. However, when he put it all together it because suh borbital. No matter how much I tried to correct him, he just couldn’t get it right. We ended up in fits of laughter and I gave up the battle.

1. Why is your hemoglobin low?

I went to give blood back in January. It’s something I love doing it because provides me a chance to save someone’s life and it costs my nothing but little prick in my arm. Plus, I get juice and cookies afterwards, too. My university had blood drives twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall and I would give both times. Here, there is a drive 5 times a year and I try to give 4 of those times. The boys have been coming with me for a year now. Of course, they both fear needles like normal people fear falling out of airplanes, but they come for the cookies. Bang loves to watch them put the needle in and is full of questions for the nurses. However, this time, when they tested my hemoglobin, it was too low. For the first time ever, I was unable to give blood. My only guess as to why it was low is because I gave blood three times last year, two of which were in August and November. Having done that and being over 40 (aka not as young as I used to be) my iron hadn’t had time to replenish. Though, Google tells me it could be dehydration, lead poisoning, or kidney failure. Tip: don’t use Google to diagnose your body.

2. Why do we have iron in our blood?

It would take the iron from 450 people to make a sword. In our bodies, only 1 part in 10,000 is iron. Iron is a major component of hemoglobin. If my hemoglobin count is low, so is my iron. Hemoglobin and iron are important component in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. It also maintains healthy cells, skin, hair (just not my hair), and nails. Males have about 4 grams of iron while females have 3.5 grams. So never mind the gym, your blood is pumping iron 24/7.

3. What’s a quark?

It’s what a subatomic duck says! If you get it, welcome to nerd club. The name was chosen in 1964 from the novel “Finnigan’s Wake”.

Three quarks for Muster Mark.

If you think atoms are the smallest things on Earth, you’re wrong. Atoms’ nuclei are consist of protons and neutrons. Those protons and neutrons are made of quarks. There are 6 kinds of quarks (and antiquarks): up, down, top, bottom, strange, and charm. Particles made of quarks are called hadrons. You may have heard that really big hadron smasher aptly named The Large Hadron Collider. It is the facility that is large (26.7 km circumference) and not the hadrons (about the size of a certain president’s common sense). Fun fact: When two quarks are pulled apart, their bond gets stronger until they are separated. Once separated they form two sets of quarks. I could go into more detail and explain their baryon and lepton numbers but I’d just be copying and pasting because the rest of it is so far over my head it’s suh borbital.

4. What’s the farthest people have been from Earth?

I, myself, have a tendency to drift away from Earth from time to time often enough. Lalaland is most definitely not a place on Earth. DW radios me back in; “Hello, Earth to Eric”. However, some people seem to be so far Earth they can’t return. Those people withstanding, the farthest humans have been from Earth were in orbit around the moon. That put them 248,655 miles away. This was accomplished by the Apollo 13 crew; Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert while passing over the far side of the moon 158 miles from the lunar surface. However, the farthest spacecraft from Earth is 119 times farther. Launched September 5, 1977 Voyager 1 is now 13,158,907,100 miles away. It was officially outside our solar system an in interstellar space in 2013. To see the 115 images and hear the music, sounds, and greetings on it’s Golden Disk, visit this NASA site.



Go Ask Your Father: Purples, Depths, A Weight, and TVs

You don’t need a calendar to know that Christmas is approaching. There are Christmas decorations and Christmas baking. There are Christmas concerts, Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, Christmas songs, Christmas sweaters and Christmas socks. There are also kids (and dads) around the world bouncing off the walls, quite literally, with excitement. There are also Christmas questions…

1. Why is everything purple?

Once upon a time purple was Bang favorite color. He had purple shorts and purple shoes. He loved to color with the purple crayon. We could have named him Harold (bonus points if you know Harold and his purple crayon). The answer to everything being purple isn’t because of a crayon, though. Thank God. Purple is color of everything churchy these days. It is the color of advent (and lent). In the Catholic church purple is the sign of penance, sacrifice and preparation. Purple is also the color of royalty and wealth as it was once very expensive to produce. In the story of Jesus a purple cloak was draped over his bleeding shoulders to mock him as a king.

2. How do ships know how deep the water is?

Did you hear about the paddle sale at the boat store? I heard it was quite an oar deal! Boats know the depth using sound waves (a lot like ocean waves except smaller, invisible and made of sound). Since we know the speed of sound through water (roughly the same speed Christmas morning will be over), we can determine how far it travelled before being bounced back. There’s a lot of science involved, but all you need to know is the material’s density, compressibility and temperature. We know all this about the ocean, so a ship’s sonar bounces sound waves off the bottom of the ocean and measures how long it took the echo to return and presto bango, you know the depth.

3. How much does the Earth weigh?

Nevermind the Earth for a minute. A butcher is 6 feet tall with blue eyes. What does he weigh? Meat. He weighs meat! Now imagine if you had a scale big enough to set the Earth on, how much would the Earth weigh? Nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch. It’s weightless in the near vacuum of space. However, using math, science, the laws of gravity, fancy formulas and figuring the densities of the various materials we know the Earth weighs 1.31668×1025 lbs. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what that means, its 13,166,800,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds. Say it with me: 13 septillion 166 sextillion 800 quintillion pounds. It also happens to be the same weight of all the junk food I plan on eating over the next two weeks…

4. You had TV when you were a kid?

First, the backstory. The boys are into this cartoon called “Teen Titans, Go!”. Apparently it’s based on a 2003 show that is based on an ’80’s comic book. In this show, Robin, Raven, Starfire, Beastboy, and Cyborg battle numerous “bad guys”. In one of the episodes they revisited the old ’80’s Robin cartoon and children we’re witness to watch TV animation used to be. This question arose when I informed the boys that that was what my cartoons looked like when I was their age. Yes, heathen, I had TV in the 80’s. TV was actually available in crude, experimental form in the late 1920. It became widely popular after improved black and white broadcasting became available after WWII and during the 1950’s. The first televised sitcom (according to Wikipedia) was Mary Kay and Johnny in 1948. The first televised football game occurred 9 years prior in 1939 by NBC. It was a college game Waynesburg vs. Fordham and it’s estimated that it reach about a thousand television sets (scientifically that’s 1×10^3). That’s how many M&M’s I can fit in my belly. In case you were wondering, the Fordham Rams won 34-7.

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I get to hold the remote. DW says what show to put on.

Go Ask Your Father: Straws, Pink Stuff, Christmas Trees, and A Fly In The Truck


dad's work

I’m loving the questions this week. Very science oriented. Physics to be exact. There are a couple of science YouTubers I already follow (VSauce and Veritasium). However, thanks to this week’s questions I found Physics Girl. She made a really neat, easy to make, electric “train” using a coil of copper wire, an AA battery and some neodymium magnets. I’ve always been science oriented. I enjoyed physics class in high school, though I wasn’t nearly at the top of my class. I was lucky if I was in the lower middle average kid in class. So to have kids who are as equally interested in science makes me happier than a astrophysicist with a super nova.

1. How does milk come up the straw when I suck on it?

I’ll forego all the sucking jokes, for the moment. Believe it or not, you are not pulling the liquid up the straw when you suck. It is getting pushed up from the bottom. When you suck on a straw you pull the air out of the upper part. This creates a low pressure area. The relatively high pressure (I say it’s relative because the pressure in the bottom of your milk cup changed only in relation to the space inside the straw) in the bottom of your milk cup pushes up. It’s the opposite of blowing into a straw to shoot a piece of corn. If you blow air into it, air pressure build up until the corn flies out and hits another kid in the head and you make a trip to the principal’s office. With a low pressure above the liquid in the straw, the liquid on the bottom rises to fill the space. The longest straw you could theoretically use is 10.3 meters. However, I’m not sure you suck enough to create a perfect vacuum required to use such a big straw. Speaking of vacuums… A straw will not work in outer space because you couldn’t change the air pressure because there is no air pressure. It will work inside a space ship, aka the Space Station.

2. What’s that pink stuff in the humidifier?

It could be my loofah, but it’s not. This stuff grows on the ledges in the tub, on the shower curtain, and in the humidifier. It’s pink. It easily washes off with cleaner. Then it comes right back in a week or less. It’s not mold. It’s an airborne bacteria. Don’t get all freaked out and panic, though. The science world calls it serratia marcescens. The rest of us call it a harmless nuisance. No matter what you use to clean it, it will return as it is airborne. It thrives in damp places (hence the growth in humidifiers and showers). The best you can do is clean to manage, not clean to rid. Make sure you ventilate the bathroom sufficiently during and after your daily scrub. If your like most normal households with young kids, the bathroom door is always open, anyway. No place is sacred.

3. Why do we set up Christmas trees?

Why exactly do we bring the outdoors inside? It’s so Santa knows where to leave all the presents, of course. I can only imagine how confused he might be in a house without a tree. Where do the presents go? According to History.com we have 16th century Germans to thank for the tradition of decorating the tree. Ancient peoples believed the evergreens would ward of witches and evil spirits during the months of little day light. They would decorate their rooms with boughs of holly along with pine and spruce branches. Christian Americans of the 1600’s thought it an odd tradition. Some even went as far as creating laws against it’s observance. Until Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert appeared as a drawing in the Illustrated London News in 1846. Much like today, if it was good enough for the royals, it was good enough for the people. It only took a few hundred years for it catch on.

4. If a fly were flying in the truck and stopped flying would he hit the back window?

I was grinning from ear to ear when Bang, the 6 year old, asked this question as we pulled into the driveway one afternoon. What a question! Imagine holding a baseball while riding down the road (someone else is driving). Toss the baseball up and catch it and to you it appears to have gone straight up and straight down. To the hitchhiker on the side of the highway that ball flew in an arc, a rainbow, a parabola. What about a fly, though? Thanks to YouTube, I discovered an answer. A dude flew a drone in the back of his van while his wife drove. As his wife slowly accelerated the drone stayed with the van. It didn’t drift to the back like I expected it to. However, with all the doors and the hatch open the van drove off and the done stayed put, effectively exiting the van without moving. It turns out that the drone provides sufficient downward force to keep it stationary inside the van when all it’s doors are shut. However, with the doors open, it has nothing to push against so it can’t remain inside. Would a fly, which doesn’t have nearly the same force as a drone, have the same effect? Or if it stopped flying would it smash into the back windshield? Like trying to drink through a 10 meter straw, that would really suck (for the fly).

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Go Ask Your Father: Images, Uvulas, PostMortem, and Amusement Parks

We made it to Friday, y’all. Some of you are finished school for the summer. Others are nearly finished. We still have the rest of the month. The kids are pretty much on autopilot now. They’re just cruising through to the end the year.

1. Why am I upside down in the spoon?

Perhaps it’s not you that is upside down. Perhaps it is the spoon. Or better yet, perhaps there is no you or spoon and this is just some computer simulated universe. The real reason is because the spoon is concave- or indented (like a cave). The back of the spoon is convex, and therefore you look mostly normal, whatever your normal is. However, on the concave side, light is not reflected at straight angles as if you were looking at yourself in the knife. Instead, because of its concaveness, light at the bottom of the spoon is reflected upward while light at the top is reflected downward. This effectively flips your image.

2. What’s that dangly thing in my throat?

This is the kind of question you get when your child is inspecting their sore throat in a mirror and notices a little punching bag (speed bag) shaped piece of skin way in the back. Called a uvula [you-view-lah] (not to be confused with a vulva, that’s something completely different). Once upon a time it was believed to help guide food and water as humans were the only mammals to not bend over to eat and drink. Then it was thought to induce the gag reflex. It was also believed to cause chronic coughing which could easily be cured with a simple clipping. These people would undergo uvulopalatopharyngoplasty to have it removed. It was also suspected of causing cardiovascular problems like SIDS. Today, scientists think that it helps with speech as humans are the only animals who have a uvula.

3. What happens to bodies after they die?

I’m not sure if he was looking for a scientific answer or not. I’m hoping not, because I’m not NCIS or a mortician. So instead I opted with what people would like to have done with their bodies after their time here on Earth comes to an end. Some opt to be cremated. This turns their body to ash to be stored in urns and pendants or taken to a location of significance and scattered. Neil DeGrasse Tyson doesn’t want this as the heat from his body is released into space and is of no assistance to Earth. Whereas if he were buried he could “feed” the Earth as the Earth fed him through his life. So some choose to be buried. Some chose to donate their bodies to science. There are now new and creative ways to be memorialized. For example, you can be turned into a tree. Or more specifically, you are cremated then your ashes are used to grow a tree and you are buried so your tree can flourish. You have your cremains pressed into a vinyl record, or put into fireworks, or even into tattoo ink.

4. Can we go to an Amusement park?

Bang has very few fears when it comes to amusement park rides. A fair (think traveling carnival) comes to town at the beginning of every summer and Bang loves to ride the rides. Just last summer he was finally tall enough to ride some of the adult rides. There were a couple he still wasn’t tall enough for and he made his disappointment plainly obvious. This is not how I was at his age. I hated roller coasters. At one park, my parents would tell me every ride that I did get on went upside down. Including the log flume. Fortunately, I wasn’t quite gullible enough to believe them. Now he wants to go to a “real” amusement park to ride “real” roller coasters. Including the ones that go upside down.

U is for Universe: #atozchallenge

Infinitesimally tiny we are. It would take 59,520 people stacked standing upright to reach outer space. If you stacked that many ants atop each other it wouldn’t be the size of a human. It would be 200 feet tall. We are closer in mass to that of a single atom than we are to the size of the Earth. The entire human population can fit comfortably inside Texas.   As we expand outward we get even smaller.

1,300 Earths would fit in our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter.
1,300,000 Earths would fit inside our sun.
Arcturus, the largest known star, is 26 times bigger than the sun.

Continue expanding outward and we see the solar system. Zoom out further we can see our Milky Way galaxy. Continue outward and our galaxy turns to a smudge as we see millions of other galaxies each with their own population of billions of stars. Continue still further and we see our known universe. There is no comparison between you and the Universe. 

10 to the power of 21. That is 10 to the 21st. 1021.  That is 10 with 21 zeros after it.

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 10 septillion. That’s the estimate on how many stars there are in the Universe. If you’re not familiar with Hubble’s “Deep Field” photograph, NASA pointed that famous telescope at a completely empty piece of sky. Over 10 days it collected this image that represents just 1/24 millionth of the night sky:

Two of those points of light are stars within our Milky Way. All the rest are galaxies. Yes, galaxies comprised of millions and millions of their own stars. 

How amazing is this? How amazing is it knowing that there is something so much larger than ourselves. Something so large we can’t possible begin to imagine the size and scope of it. Yet, being what seems to us, infinitely huge, it’s all made of the same stuff.

The five most populus elements in the universe are hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. Ironically, those are the same five most abundant elements here on Earth. We are not here and the rest of the universe out there. We are the Universe. We are made of stars.


Go Ask Your Father: Trains, Clouds, Supper, and Stars

How do steam trains work?
Like most little boys, and even some big boys, trains are amazing pieces of machinery. Bang came to me to the other day wanting me to look up videos of coal furnaces on steam trains. He wanted to see the coal burning. There were more than enough of such videos on YouTube to satisfy a five year old. Naturally, while watching the coal burn he wondered how it made the steam train chug.

That’s a busy gify. Upon closer inspection you can follow the chain reaction. We’ll start with that bright orange space in the back. The fire. That’s what Bang was originally fascinated by. The heat from the fire is carried through the boiler – the long, horizontal, yellow section. The heated pipes boil the water which rises into the dome at the top. As more and more steam rises it also rises in pressure. The pressurised steam then travels down to the piston. The piston opens alternating sides of a chamber. This alternation moves a larger piston which is connected to a shaft that turns the wheels. It’s this step that give the steam train its signature chugga chugga chugga. The steam is then released from the chimney.

Why are clouds white?
I didn’t really have an answer for this one, right away. I was stumped and had to admit that I didn’t exactly know. I know fog is white, too. But if water is clear, air is clear, why are clouds white? It turns out it’s because of the size of the droplets of water clouds are made of and how sunlight reacts when it goes through said large drops. Do you know what a micron is? It’s 1,000th of millimeter. A droplet of water in a cloud measure about 10 microns. This is HUGE compared to the rays of light passing through it. Like a hotdog down a hallway huge. The light gets scattered, but because the drop are so huge all the light gets scattered equally. When you mix all the colors you get white. So clouds are white because light is white.

What’s for supper?
Seriously? I don’t know. Unless I’m in the mood to make spaghetti/lasagna sauce, I sometimes don’t know what’s for supper until about hangry o’clock. This morning I ask Crash what he wanted for supper and he said McDonalds. I said, “Nope, I’m cooking.” So he suggested shepherds pie. Unfortunately, we just had something similar last night so I made him pick again. He offered pork roast but I had to shoot that down because we’re cooking for DW’s mom’s birthday on Sunday and we might be having that then. The fourth try was tacos. We had taco Tuesday on Friday. Picky eater Bang doesn’t eat tacos. He requested scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon. I put on my short order cook hat and we all got what we wanted. Yummm…

Where are stars?
In DW’s eyes. There’s some on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, too. There are also billions of them in the sky and this is what Bang was referring to as he gazed out of his bedroom window at bedtime this evening. All of the stars you see are in our very own galaxy, The Milky Way. Looking at the night sky, distant galaxies will be confused for a single star. There’s only one star in our solar system – the sun. The nearest star to our sun is called Alpha Centuri. This is actually a 3 star system even though it looks like a single star in the sky. It takes light travelling at 186,000 miles per second four and half years to get here. If it were to suddenly explode we wouldn’t know it until 2021. For the stars even farther away, we see even older light. To compare, the galaxies photographed in Hubble’s Deep Field photo are roughly 13 billion years old (which is also the shelf life of Twinkies). Earth is only 4.5 billion years old so those distant galaxies are 3 times older than our planet! Incredible!

Go Ask Your Father: Life, Babies, Charities, Adult Shows

In case you missed yesterday’s awesome post, check it out here. Normally on Thursdays I ask my kids questions and they give us answers we can laugh at. Yesterday, I didn’t do that. Instead I asked my parents the questions. They were eager to participate and they didn’t let me down. Perhaps they’ll become a regular feature, too?

But today, my kids asked me some questions. Damn, they’re good at that. It’s like it’s their job or something!

1. Where did life come from?

When Bang first asked, I thought he meant babies. Then he clarified by saying, “No. Before people and animals and stuff.” Geez. From a 5 year old! I had to start off by telling him no one really knows. Once upon a time Earth was just a rocky, volcanic, hot mess. Perhaps it was waking with wicked hangover. I used to think that the water came from comets. But have just learned that scientists found glass crystals in the Earth’s mantle (the layer below its crust) that have trapped small droplets of water that are the same composition as the water on Earth now. Those water drops would not have been delivered by comets because comet water is “heavier”. Don’t worry, I thought water was water, too.

2. Are babies inside where the blood is? How do they get out?

sebastiankaulitzkiThis came as a two part question. Are babies inside where the blood is? We just had 2 very pregnant neighbors deliver their babies a couple weeks apart. So naturally Bang was curious to know this answer. The simple answer, yes. More specifically, they grow inside a uterus. While it’s in there with all the blood and stuff, it has a placenta to keep it alive. Oxygen, nutrients and hormones are delivered to the baby though it. So now that he knows they’re inside he wants to know how they get out. I wanted to tell him like the Chestburster from Aliens (Google it if you dare) but it was bedtime and I didn’t want to give cause for him needing serious therapy. So I just told him that sometimes a doctor will cut open a mommy’s belly to get the baby called a “c-section” or sometimes they come out of their pee pee. (This dad chickened out on the word vagina)

His response? “Oh. Well, I’m never having a baby.”

3. What’s a charity?

It could be a girl’s name. I’ve known a couple Charitys.

Or it could be an organization that collect money and/or items for those in need. There are thousands of different charities ranging from cancer to homeless, to animals, to environment, to pretty much everything. According to one article, the number of world wide charities and foundations surpassed 1.5 million.

4. Is that an adult show?

No. He’s not referring to how babies got in mommy’s bellies.

He’s talking about Blindspot. He heard DW and I talking about what shows we had recorded to watch. This is an FBI thriller kind of series. A woman is found in a duffle bag (alive and naked) covered in tattoos and with any memory of who she is. The tattoos are all clues leading to various crimes and crime syndicates. This is it’s second season and we’ve been enjoying it even if it does have a few “gee, that was convenient” moments. We also watch Grey’s Anatomy (what in Sam Hell is Karev getting himself into?) . We’ve been watching that one since season 1. It’s now in season 13! We also watch The Voice. While I don’t agree with allowing some of the contestants they do (ones already in the music business or ones who already have connections) it’s a good show. That one is not an adult show. It just comes on during adult time.

What shows do you enjoy watching sans kids?


Go Ask Your Father: Earth, LED Bulbs, Antibiotics, and Graffiti

Fall’s first day has come and gone. The leaves haven’t started changing quite yet. They are, however, starting to fall off. On the road, piled against the curb are all the leaves that make autumn lovable. Light and crispy on top, moist underneath. Just like I like my brownies.

Speaking about brownies, I found this recipe for some that look and sound amazing. They’re called Peanut Butter Cup Crack Brownies. You can find the recipe at CookiesAndCups.com. I checked the recipe. Crack isn’t an ingredient. With all that yumminess crack isn’t necessary.


photo courtesy: Cookies and Cups

Now that you’re done drooling all over your keyboard, lets answer some questions.

How does the earth move?

In simple terms, gravity. Gravity makes everything fall, though it’s not responsible for people falling in love (thanks, Einstein). The sun is huge, mammoth, massive, gargantuan. The easiest way to imagine it is that it creates a bowl in space fabric around it. The planets then roll around the rim in their orbits.


I once read a book on antigravity. I couldn’t put it down!

You have to remember that while the Earth is orbiting around the sun, the sun is also moving through space as our galaxy travels. So we’re not going in circles so much as a downward spiral. It’ll be more a plummet than spiral should Trump get elected.



How does an LED light work?

We just replaced our poisonous, mercury ridden, twisty light bulbs with LED light bulbs. I explained TIE fighters and ion engines the other day. In my “research” (does Googling it count as research?) on how LEDs work I discovered that it’s over my head. Way over. Like, it’s up there where the overseas jumbo sail in the jet stream. Here’s how I have come to understand it. LEDs are completely different from incandescent bulbs in that they use a different technology. An LED uses a semiconductor (a solid material that conducuts electricity like rush hour on a Friday – slowly). It’s usually made with aluminum-gallium-arsenide (aka metals, I just wanted to say arsenide). This semiconductor has a positive side and a negative side. The positive side has “holes” while the negative side has electrons. When electricity passes through, the electrons on the negative side rush over and fill in the “holes” on the positive side (like that idiot on the motorcycle squeezing in between you and that truck your tailing). When the “hole” gets filled energy is released (road rage, probably) as photons. Photons = light. There’s more to than that, but that’s as much as I can understand it. My monkey brain can’t comprehend it beyond that.

What is an antibiotic?

Our bodies are in constant warfare. Fortunately, they’re equipped with a military that is armed and ready for the battle. Gorilla warfare. Black Ops style. These white blood cells attack bacteria without mercy. But sometimes the bacteria attack in such force that the white blood cells become overwhelmed. That’s when we get sick. Our white blood cells need reinforcements. Antibiotics. Bactericidals, like penicillin, kills the bacteria by interfering with the bacterium’s cell wall formation or its cell contents. Bacteriostatics stop the bacterium’s growth. There is no debate that they cause autism or if they really work. However, there is serious debate about too much antibiotic causing bacterium to become immune to it. Once that happens the antibiotic is no longer effective. Like listening to Let It Go too many times, we don’t even hear it. Also, antibiotics are as useless as screen doors on a submarine against viruses – colds, sore throats, the flu, chicken pox and measles.

What is graffiti?

There’s American Graffiti – George Lucas’s 1973 film about some high school grads cruising town before they leave for college. We’re not talking about that Graffiti, though. We’re talking about the art work. In general, graffiti can be described as writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place. This is what some local graffiti looks like (I left out the foul language and drug references)

However, some graffiti is much more elaborate. Some work on public surfaces like Picasso worked in blues.


Graffiti artist Odeith “Welcome to Baton Rouge”

This is yesterday’s post. Yesterday’s Taboo word was “of”. To read more posts without the Taboo Word (of) or to join the challenge just click the blue frog…

To add the blue frog to your post get the InLinkz code.



Better Than Star Wars

Sometimes when you write one post it inspires ideas for your next. That’s what happened when I wrote last week’s episode of “Go Ask Your Father“.

Crash asked what TIE stands for. A T.I.E. fighter is, of course, a Star Wars vehicle. It’s what Vader and his Empire gang fly. T.I.E stands for Twin Ion Engine.


While I was researching that answer I discovered how a twin ion engine works, I found a real life NASA story about ion engines. To put it as simply as I can, an ion engine takes a gas, like xenon, smashes them off each other so they lose electrons and then shove it through an electric field. When the ion is shot from the engine the rocket/spaceship/probe/whatever it’s attached to, it’s propelled forward. Thanks to Newton and his third law; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Hence, when the ion goes backwards, the rocket goes forward. If you’ve ever inflated a balloon just to let it go and watch it zoom around the room then you understand Newton’s third law. There’s your physics lesson for the day. There will be a test later.


A long time ago, the year of 2007, NASA developed and successfully tested an ion engine (NSTAR). While the force generated was equal to the force needed to hold up a sheet of paper it could generate that force for incredibly long periods of time, think years, with incredibly little fuel. The DAWN mission, a mission to send an orbiter to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter to study Ceres and Vesta, uses this engine. It reached speeds over 41,000 kmh (25,500 mph).

“If you remember the TIE fighters that Darth Vader and the Evil Empire used to fight the rebel alliance, TIE stood for ‘twin ion engines’,” he said. “Well, Dawn does the Star Wars TIE fighters one better because we use three ion engines.”

However, NASA has improved upon that engine from 9 years ago. The NEXT (NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster) produces up to 3 times the amount of force as its predecessor and was tested continuously for 51,000 hours (6 years). Imagine having to fill up once every 6 years!

It doesn’t stop there, though. There is yet another ion engine being developed that will far exceed the performance capabilities of NEXT. The first engine (NSTAR) would be the equivalent of a ’92 Toyota Carolla. The NEXT would be a Corvette. The NSTAR a Lamborghini. Perhaps one day these engines will power our own vehicles and finally end our dependency on fossil fuels. Gas stations will look extremely different by then!


Research gathered from:
New Scientist

This Taboo Word Challenge wasn’t too tough today! Today’s word was “in”.
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Questions I Asked My Kids

Note: This is now complete.

Crash got a hit last night! Well, he hit the ball anyway. He has been so nervous about getting hit by a pitch, the infamous bean ball. We have been practicing and practicing (and practicing!) in the backyard. He has no trouble swinging. On the way home from a game last week, where he never swung, I asked him if the pitchers throw differently than I do at home (meaning speed). He says “Yes. They’re not as good.” Granted, I spent many years pitching when I was growing up so I am better than most 9 and 10 year olds. So I started pitching left handed to him.

In last night’s game I took over one of the coaching spots because one of his regular coaches was unable to attend. I was over being first base coach doing my coaching thing. I Reminded him get into his batting stance and to plant his back foot so it don’t move and to get his elbow up. He watched pitch after pitch go by. He struck out. Twice. His third time up I reminded him that I didn’t care if he swung and missed, I just wanted him to swing. He did! It went foul. Then he swung at the next pitch and the ringing that sounded from ball meeting bat was like . He ran like the wind hooked to a train. The second baseman fielded the grounder and threw him out at first. But he swung and he hit the ball!

It all begins with a swing. Or a question. Or a post. Or a hello.

1. Did you have any dreams last night?

Crash: I probably did but I don’t remember them.
Bang: I was in jail. I didn’t do anything but the police just came in picked me up! (he woke up crying from this one)

2. Why do balloons get bigger when you blow into them?

Crash: Because you’re putting air into and when you put air into it blows up. Or you could use a pump.
Bang: Because air stays in them and air makes them bigger.

3. Why do yellow bananas turn brown?

Crash: Bananas are one the fruits that goes rotten. When they turn brown they’re telling you to put them into a bag and put them in the freezer so you can banana bread.
Bang: They get left in a bowl and the fruit flies make them rotten.

4. How does the refrigerator stay cold?

Crash: It uses electricity to keep cold. Our fridge has a control to control how cold it is.
Bang: If you leave the fridge open the cold air gets out because the cold air has invisible feet and it walks out of the fridge.

5. Why is cold in the winter and hot in the summer?

Crash: The earth is always rotating while it’s orbiting the sun. This means in the winter it is cold because the Earth is facing into space and in the summer where you live is facing the sun.
Bang: In the summer the sun comes out and the sun is really hot. In the winter air gets into the snow and makes it cold.

6. What causes the wind to blow?

Crash: Neptune. It has massive winds so it blows down to Earth.
Bang: The wind just makes the waves and the waves make the wind.

7. Where does the electricity in our house come from?

Crash: Nova Scotia Power puts into the wires. The wires are connected to our houses so we can have electricity to brush our teeth, play video games and so on.
Bang: From the power lines.

8. Where do the bubbles in pop come from?

Crash: They come the middle of nowhere. I have no idea.
Bang: Because it’s hot.

9. Why is better to eat veggies than junk food?

Crash: Veggies are a lot more healthier. Actually veggies are healthy and junk isn’t.
Bang: Junk doesn’t help your belly. Veggies help your belly.

10. Where do clouds come from?

Crash: They come from vaporization which is when puddle dry up because water vaporates (goes up in the air) to make clouds.
Bang: Clouds come from the power lines because they’re invisible clouds until they get way up in the air.


p.s. Are you curious about the upcoming challenge in September? Join us!