Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Knowledge: It's A Dangerous Thing. Especially If You Knowledge Like Newton Did.

So, it's another week of summer school for both (BOTH!!) girls, and, while I contemplated all the wild and crazy suggestions you all threw out last month (going to the bathroom by myself, reading, running, sleeping, skydiving, showering...) which were all stellar suggestions, and ones I should probably do (especially that shower one) buuuuuut...I'm not.  Because my need to sit in a noisy coffee shop, slightly (1) unshaven legs tucked discreetly under the table, typing letters onto a screen, swilling coffee, and basically avoiding all sorts of responsibility (which no one here will notice, as long as I keep my elbows below shoulder level, because I actually DID do that run thing, but only before I had to drag the kids out of bed this morning) is overwhelmingly attractive.  And I'm totally talking eating-an-almond-croissant-while-swilling-back-my-plain-latte-attractive.  So, you know, obviously, something I'm completely powerless to resist.

However, now that I'm here, and you're here, and we're both sitting, reading all the letters as they form words by jumping from my keyboard and gluing themselves directly onto the actual Internet, I realized that I should probably have a topic for this blog post.  Preferably one that is world changing.  But then, I realized, this lady already did that, and so, technically, now I'm free to rant about the quote I saw on the marquee of the auto mechanic shop this morning. SCORE!! (Add awkward sitting by myself in a coffee shop doing an actual fist pump here.  Don't worry it matches the crazy mumbling to myself that I'm also doing.)

"All great discoveries were made by accident"

Really? All? No hard work? No thought? No planning? No scientific process when into any of them, Auto Mechanic Shop?

Now, before you all start yelling out things like:

"Dude! What about Frank Epperson? He was only 11 when he accidentally left a cup with powdered soda and water with a stir stick in it outside when he went to bed. The next morning? He woke up as the inventor of the Popsicle!"


"Chocolate chip cookies, Martha.  Mrs. Wakefield totally thought they'd melt and make her cookies all chocolaty. But! They! Didn't!"


"What about Percy LeBaron Spencer, the inventor of the microwave who worked for the Raytheon Company, when he walked past that radar tube the chocolate bar he had in his pocket melted. No one, Martha. No. One. Melts a perfectly good chocolate bar in their pants pocket when they could just eat it instead! Duh."

Geesh! Settle down people. I mean, if it was just me, I'd totally agree with you, especially on a cool fall day, sitting on the porch swing, cup of tea in one hand, warm gooey chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven in the other.  However, Sir Isaac Newton disagrees with you. Vehemently.  Seriously, just ask Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Or Robert Hooke for that matter.  Oh wait.  You can't. Because they're both dead. Yeah. That's right. Dead. Now, I'm not saying Newton had anything to do with that, but what I am saying is that historical facts do not lie and the facts clearly state that Hooke died in 1703, Liebniz in 1716 and Newton? In 1727.  Plenty of time to cover up a few... indiscretions....

You see, lately, I've been making Katie check out one biography from the library each week (in an attempt to assuage the deluge of fairy/Geronimo Stilton/Animal Ark books that make their way into her library bag) and recently she chose Giants Of Science: Issac Newton by Kathleen Krull. And we read it.  (Related note: a few pages in I realized some of the subject matter may be a bit too much for Katie, and it turned into a read aloud so we could discuss his, um, how to say this nicely? (I can't) his craziness. But, it did prompt me to preview the first chapter of Krull's biography of Marie Curie, which we also had checked out, and, yeah... pogroms. Soooo that one definitely moved to "Mommy's Reading Shelf".) But I thought the book on Newton was fascinating!

I found out all sorts of stuff about Newton! How he hated sharing with other scientists (I mean, like a lot, a really really huge a lot), but kept meticulous notebooks describing absolutely everything he researched and discovered. How his invention of the reflecting telescope started with poking sharp sticks into his own eyes to see how his vision changed, and yet he somehow never went blind.  How more work was put into that whole apple/gravity thing than most cartoons illustrate. And, not one of his discoveries, not calculus, not the laws of motion, nor universal gravitation, anything, came about by accident. Not. One.

And, it's not just Newton, my misinformed Auto Mechanic Shop. Mr. J. Edwards agrees with me too:
"Discoveries are not made by accident, as it is often assumed, for, unless a man's mind be provided with precise and suitable conceptions, by which facts may be analysed and connected, they can never become the materials of exact knowledge; therefore I wish to impress upon you the importance of giving men a special education to enable them to become successful investigators."(2) 

So, may I suggest this quote for your marquee instead, Auto Mechanic Shop?

Don't poke sticks in your eyes, I already scientificated that.
Go discover your own stuff.
Sincerely, Sir Isaac Newton.

It's much more historically accurate.

 (1) Not slightly.
(2) Edwards, J. "On Research in Relation to Medicine." The Student's Journal and Hospital Gazette, January 27, 1883.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Messing With Your Sister When She's Tired And Stressed Out Is Tons Of Fun! But Only If She's At Least 300 Miles Away

There I was, halfway through a post that included this:

Oh my gosh, Becky,  I look, like, fifteen years younger. Totally.
And, obviously, this:

It's a chihuahua driving a truck. But I have no idea how he reaches the pedals.

 And, of course, this little culinary delight that I made for dinner:

In which I substituted a warm bed of kale for the salad greens. Then served at our family vacation that included everyone from my 10 year old real cow hamburger eating nephew to my 93 year old grandmother.  Also, it may be the last time my sister puts me in charge of any family reunion meals. In my defense, it wasn't vegetarian haggis. This time.
And a rant about how disappointing these turned out to be:
Because they totally lost the taste test SMACKDOWN with the Lays Dill Pickle chips. By, and I'm just ball parking figures here, at least a thousand quatabazillion times infinity points. Also, I didn't have to eat any dill pickle chips to come up with that score.

But then my sister, on the road home, cozily tucked into a caravan that included our parents, grandmother and her 10 year old son, texted me this:
I'm ready to be home.
Which, no matter how happily and lovingly you tell me you get along with your family, eventually, after a certain number of miles and one too many Harry Belafonte CDs*, is just plain true.  However, it did prompt this textversation. But, mostly because I'm weird. (At least that's what my nephew George says.)

Sister:  We made it to Beaver. Stopping for the night.
Me:  Hey! Didn't we stay in Beaver once on our way home from Colorado? We ate at that Denny's the next morning? Or was it the trip with Jon and Zorra?
Sister: I don't remember.  I don't see a Denny's @ the exit we got off on. Exit 112.
Me: Dude! I remember that exit! It had a huge buffalo in a purple tutu revolving on a replica of a Victrola, right?
Sister: Ummm, no?
Me: Huh. Totally thought that was the exit.  Maybe it was 114? 116?
Sister: Are u being serious?
Me: Obviously.  Hey! Ask the people at the restaurant about the buffalo.  It must be around there somewhere!
Sister:  I'm not asking the people @ the restaurant.  When we leave tmrrw i will look around.  You're crazy.
Me: Mom would do it.
Sister:  You just made me embarrass myself because I guffawed really loud.
Me: Ask about the buffalo.  It'll totally cover that embarrassment up.

Then later that evening:

Sister:  Mom asked about the purple buffalo & they gave her a very weird look & said you must be thinking of another town.
Me:  Maybe it was Cedar City? Or St. George? Can you ask for me?
Sister: No way :), look it up on your "smart phone" :)

And, then for the next two days she refused to ask about the giant rainbow trout wearing roller skates in Jacob's Lake, or the giant lumberjack wearing a purple tutu in Flagstaff, or even take a picture of the pink javelina wearing a purple tutu in Sedona that I KNOW is there. Probably. Kinda. Ok, fine, theoretically, if were're being all technically mathematically scientific.

Then, hours before she made it home, and just after I texted her like twelve times in a row without a response then told her to quit texting me because I was in church, my phone lit up with this text:

Sister: We stopped in Cordes Junction for lunch.  No, we did not see anything w/ a purple tutu.
Me: Are you preempting me?
Sister: Involuntary telepathy.

Touche' awesome sister. Touche'.

*This was a wild guess, based on many family road trips as a kid.