Our children should not be political pawns.

Below is a copy of an email I recently received from my son’s school.

A message from MEADOWBROOK MIDDLE SCHOOL

Dear Meadowbrook Parents:

As many of you know, the tragic incident in Parkland Florida on February 14 has begun a student movement that includes a 17-minute National School Walkout on March 14, starting at 10:00 AM.  This day also corresponds with our previously scheduled minimum day which will not change.  Our goal is to provide a safe, neutral environment that honors student voice and action, as we balance our efforts and responsibilities to uphold district attendance policies, school safety and the First Amendment Rights of our students and staff.

I have heard from various student leaders on campus, who wish to participate, listening to their ideas and collective efforts on ensuring their voice with this issue is heard. We realize that not all of our students want to participate and we want to honor each and every student.

At Meadowbrook Middle School, students who would like to assemble at 10:00 a.m. can do so in the Quad or the lower fields of our campus.  Our administrative team will be present to supervise the gathering to ensure we meet our responsibility to keep students safe while they participate in this nationwide event.

Students will not be penalized academically for participating in the gathering. Tests, quizzes, nor presentations will be administered during this time and there will not be any make up work required that results from this 17 minute time period. However, if your student elects to leave campus as part of the “walk out” and does not return, PUSD Board polices regarding absences and/or truancies will be implemented.

As a school, it is important to honor each student by remaining neutral on the issue.  I hope this information equips you with talking points to discus with your student.  Should you have any follow up questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

Thank you,

Dr. Miguel Carrillo

Proud Principal

_____________________________________________________________

Ok… so what is this really about? I’ve seen other parents post similar emails on FaceBook. Why are schools allowing this nonsense? Aren’t they charged with providing an education to students? I could understand this if it were something high school students were doing on their own time, but middle school students? This stinks to high heaven as some social cause promoted by liberal school administrators and complicit teachers.

Most middle school students have no idea who they are politically. They’re nothing more than little cookie cutouts of their parents. Sure, some kids are politically aware but most are not. They’re certainly incapable of organizing such a ‘walk-out’ in time to commemorate the one moth anniversary of the Parkland school shooting. These students are being used as pawns in something they cannot truly understand. It saddens me and lessens the respect that I had for teachers and principals alike. Our children are better than this… and our educators should be ashamed of themselves.

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The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

A lot of hysteria surrounds the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida. Could more have been done to protect the students? Should more laws be passed to control or ban weapons? Why wasn’t this shooter questioned by the FBI after having been reported many times in the preceding months? Why did the armed resource officer refuse to enter the building and confront the active shooter? So many questions!

I really don’t want to dwell over all the ‘if’s, ands, or buts’. I would rather address the 2nd amendment as it relates to this story. People are calling for gun bans because of this shooting event. Most are quick to say it’s ‘for the children’. Really, now??? If they’re so concerned about the children, how come they’re not calling for a ban on abortions? Methinks it’s more about disarming law abiding citizens than about ‘saving the children’.

My personal opinion on this subject is simple… The 2nd amendment is absolute. It cannot be amended, ‘interpreted’, or otherwise watered down. This is because it contains the language ‘shall not be infringed’.

People will tend to argue that the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has the ability to rule on the constitutionality of our laws. I disagree. Nowhere in the Constitution does it grant SCOTUS this right. The SCOTUS took this ability via Marbury v Madison (1803). In essence, the SCOTUS has been acting unconstitutionally since the time of this ruling. Here’s another point that should be mentioned… Congress may grant the SCOTUS additional powers, to include judicial review, but hasn’t up to this point. Why haven’t they done so? Hard to speculate, but it could it could be as simple as all the other SCOTUS rulings coming under review.

Here’s my line in the sand… the 2nd amendment is absolute, period. Is it a good idea to let mentally ill people etc.,  possess weapons? Absolutely not… but that isn’t up to me. The 2nd states ‘shall not be infringed’. That means we don’t have the ability to deny another citizen their constitutional right to bear arms.

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Which is more important… EQ or IQ?

Emotional quotient, also known as emotional intelligence, is the ability of an individual to recognize the feelings and emotions of others. This is important in that it allows people to interact with others more effectively as situations and environments change.

IQ, is pretty much self-explanatory. So, the question is… which is more important? EQ or IQ?

We can all appreciate the idea behind the concept of EQ. Being able to relate to others is paramount to having good working and inter-personal relationships. But, is that more valuable than IQ? I think the notion of EQ has some merit. I also think EQ can be feigned. All it takes is a little disingenuousness.

Am I callous for thinking this? Maybe. But EQ can be learned and applied, given the needs of an individual seeking to relate to others. IQ, on the other hand, is not something one can fake. So why is EQ pushed as being more important than IQ? Maybe because EQ is so hard to calculate and IQ is very definitive? My personal belief is that everyone wants to feel special. EQ being so easily feigned, gives everyone the potential to be a ‘winner’. EQ is sort of like a distant runner up to IQ. EQ is the equivalence of a participation trophy.

 

 

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The question was posed…..

The question was posed in one of my many ‘think’ groups recently. “What’s your opinion of how the world started?” That was somewhat erroneous, especially when the person asking the question was really referring to how the universe was created.

Well, the answer is highly speculative, to be sure. There are several theories concerning the creation of our universe. I won’t go into any depth over the theories. That’s something best left to the individual to discover through their own questions and research.

I’m kinda partial to a cyclical Big Bang. One theory is that the universe expands and contracts, Big Bang/Big Crunch. But then how do we account for the increasing expansion of the universe? Well, maybe… it’s like a spring. The Big Bang is followed up, in time, with the subsequent Big Crunch. Just a thought…

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Life has interesting twists….

 

It’s been a lifetime… I was just a child, about seven years of age, when I left behind the country of my father in 1976. The story of why my family left the United States and moved to Colombia, and then returned to the United States two years later, is a convoluted one. Suffice to say, when we left, there were some hard feelings. I was too young to fully understand the dynamics and the depth at the time.

I had not heard from any of my Colombian relatives after our departure. It wasn’t that I had any choice in the matter, those were much different times and the ability to maintain contact was limited. I spoke almost no Spanish and they spoke very little English. What’s a seven year old to do?

Anyway, out of the blue about two weeks ago, I was contacted by a 2nd cousin through social media. He was intent on finding his ‘American cousins’. He reached out… and after a few questions about common relatives, came to the conclusion that yes, we were related. Forty-one years… how does one make up for the passage of time?

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Science Olympiad Project build – Hovercraft

It’s a new year and the Science Olympiad is starting to ramp up! I’ve noticed a fair amount of traffic on last year’s Science Olympiad posts. I’m assuming that, like me, there’s a lot of unknowns and questions when one first embarks on building the hovercraft, hence the uptick in traffic.

Last year, the hovercraft competition was introduced as a new division. There was a lot for us to learn. We went through trial and error to end up with the hovercrafts we eventually entered into competition. The same can be said of the materials needed to prepare our competitors for the test portion of the competition. That meant we had to be flexible… with our study materials as well as our hovercrafts.

***Please check for updated rules before starting your builds!***

Here are a few pointers to help guide you in the right direction, and hopefully, to a successful build. You must always keep in mind the parameters of the build… the weight, size limits, etc. All of these constraints should be plainly stated in the build guidelines and on the national Science Olympiad website. Here, I’ll add a word of caution, the hovercraft listed for sell on the Science Olympiad website is only useful for demonstration purposes. The craft is not suitable for competition. This is because it lacks several key elements. It does not have a barrier to protect fingers from touching the prop, it is way too light, and not easily adaptable (I’ll explain this in detail later in this post).

Our parameters for the 2016-2017 Science Olympiad stated that our vehicles had to be between 15 cm to 30 cm in length. Height had to be less than 20 cm. The length could could not change during the run and had a weight limit of 2,000 grams. Propellors had to be shielded and not extend beyond the track’s side rails. Other vehicle limits are stated but not important at this stage in the development of your basic craft.

What should your craft look like? Well, we know the minimum and maximum lengths… as well as the width (determined by the track rails)… so, I would suggest that you try to get as close to those maximum dimensions as possible in terms of overall size. This is because if you make it too narrow and/or not long enough, the craft will tend to get cocked sideways as it travels down the course, creating drag and slowing down your runs. You should also keep in mind the skirt of your craft in relation to your hovercraft’s platform. The skirt usually extends beyond your hovercraft platform. If that’s the case and your platform is to the maximum size restriction, you may be disqualified from competing. To be safe, allow about an inch per side for the skirt. Make your hovercraft’s deflated skirt just under your size restriction. This will help keep your craft in compliance.

Another feature of your hovercraft build, and this is key, is the adaptability of your craft. As I stated earlier, we had to learn via trial and error. What we initially did not know during the first trials, was that we would be given a target time to achieve. So, if you’re trying to obtain a target time and your motor is not capable of being regulated, you must be able to add or subtract weight to your craft to reach the target times. By adding weight, you make the craft go slower down the track. Removing weight allows it to travel faster. Keep in mind, the heavier your craft and the closest to the target time, results in the highest scores.

 

Here is a craft that was entered in last year’s competition by one of our teams. It contains features I mentioned. Notice the corners of the craft… it is capable of adding on or removing weight depending upon the time target needing to be achieved. The front weights also overhang the edges of the craft for a reason… they act as bearings, allowing the slightly undersized craft to engage the track walls without creating drag.

The design of the craft also allowed for the regulation of airflow downward as well as rearward. This was accomplished in two ways. One, the shunt that directed air downward was adjustable. Note the small holes on the side walls of the shunt. They’re spaced evenly and the shunt can be locked into place with a pushpin on both sides. Two, the housing containing the motor and propeller is also capable of being adjusted, directing air flow to the shunt or over it as needed.

As you build your craft, keep in mind your weigh restrictions and weigh the craft regularly. Your battery weight is also important. Different brands, sizes, etc., all have differing weights. These should be noted. Once you’ve build your craft, you should do a few test runs on your own track and keep detailed notes on the placement of the weights of each craft and the battery size, weights configuration, etc. as you go. By tracking the weight of your craft and the time it takes to complete a ‘run’ down the track, you can create a chart to quickly dial in your craft once the judges release the target time to the teams at the competition. It will save you valuable time in trying to calculate the optimal weight to reach the desired time. These charts should be specific to each team vehicle.

Here are a few specs of the pictured craft:

The weights used are 33.3 grams each.

The craft weighed 399 grams using a 450 mAh battery.

It was 408 grams using a 800 mAh blue battery.

And 414 grams using a 800 mAh black battery. (6 grams difference!)

The craft using the 800 mAh blue battery with to disc weights = 480 grams.

Craft with 4 disc weights = 547 grams.

Craft with 6 disc weights = 614 grams.

Craft with 8 disc weights = 680 grams.

As you can see, the craft was capable of adding/subtracting weights as needed. Keeping your craft very light gives you more latitude playing with the weigh ratios. The setup of the craft, in conjunction with the propellor and battery pairing, had more than enough power to lift the vehicle and rapidly run down the track. In fact, without any weights on the craft, it would flip itself over as soon as it was turned on.

 

For additional information and questions, I’ve found this site to be useful.

https://scioly.org/forums

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What’s the point?

The conversation had returned to the question that had originally brought us together… “What’s the point?” Meaning, why does any of this matter? In the end, nothing we do really amounts to much.

From the perspective of the individual, we’re connected to one another via three or four generations, at any given point in time. Beyond that, people exist only as names in a grand story in which we may or may not play a  significant part. This human story has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years. So, what’s the point?

It was suggested that perhaps, as a means of creating a purpose… and as a consequence thereof… that volunteering in some fashion may give more meaning to our lives. It was an interesting proposition but not one I hadn’t already contemplated. Sure, helping out by ‘giving back’ to others is a great and admirable thing to do, but it doesn’t do anything that will ultimately make much of a difference. The feelings we have when we help others are only that… feelings… and therefore, self-serving. Perhaps I’m being a bit too cynical? This very question is something I struggle with on a regular basis… finding a point to life.

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What do you think about when you’re by yourself?

What questions come to mind when you’re alone? Are they based upon regrets? Joys? Or, just what’s currently going on in your day?

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Something to contemplate

 

What is the purpose of our existence? Are we just the latest in a long line of organisms to have mastery over the Earth? Do we even matter?

Evolutionary timeline:

The universe, based upon the recession of distant galaxies, is approximately 13.8 billion (13,800,000,000) years old. Our solar system and the Earth, 4.57 billion years old.

Earliest life (single cell) on Earth, 4.25 bya.

Multi-cellular (cyanobacteria-like) life began 3.0 to 3.5 bya.

Ozone layer develops 600 mya.

Earliest known animal footprints on land – 530 mya.

Earliest dinosaurs – 225 mya.

Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, wiping out most dinosaurs – 66 mya. This event gives rise to the dominance of mammals.

First hominins – 4 t0 13 mya. The divergence of the Pan (chimpanzee) and the Homo (human) occurred during this time. The Hominini was the last common ancestor of both the Pan and Homo lines.

Homo Habilis (Africa) – 2.6 mya. Habilis are thought to be the first Homo to use tools (2.3 mya).

Homo antecessor (Spain)- 1.2 mya

Homoheidelbergensis (Europe, Africa, and China) – 600 kya

Neanderthals (Europe and Western Asia) and Denisovans (Russia) – 350 kya to 28 kya

Anatomically modern humans appear in Africa – 250 kya to present.

The genetic ‘bottle-neck’ – 70 to 90 kya. Homo sapiens numbered very few and we almost went extinct.

Modern humans start to migrate out of Africa.

 

Ok, that was quite a lot to digest without losing interest. But, consider this; at what point did we gain a soul, if we do in fact have souls? When did we develop consciousness? When did we ‘leave the safety of trees’ and venture out as ‘land walkers’?

In the evolutionary timeline presented above, modern humans have been walking the Earth 250,000 years or so. We’ve taken many baby steps as a species. In the last 130+ years, we’ve accelerated those steps… going from the invention of the car to a man-made probe entering interstellar space.

Are we alone? Are there other life forms in the universe? Are we unique? With trillions upon trillions of planets out there in billions of galaxies, it’s doubtful we’ll ever know for sure. Even if we were to detect life in a nearby solar system (Alpha Centauri), it’s still 4.3 light years away. The fastest outward-bound spacecraft (Voyager 1), has covered 1/600 of a light year since it’s launch 30 years ago. That means that a trip to Alpha Centauri would last 80,000 years. Would those life forms still exist once we’ve arrived?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2017 American Mensa AG! FireHouse Special!

This year’s American Mensa AG is was held in Hollywood, Florida at the beautiful Diplomat Beach Resort. With nearly a thousand Mensans worldwide registered to attend this event by March, it was certainly shaping up to be a large party!

Within the Mensa organization is a FaceBook group called American Mensa FireHouse (1,575 members strong). Members of the FireHouse are known affectionately as “FireHosers”. Mensans from all over the world are welcome to join the FireHouse. Here are a few of the pics from this year’s annual gathering featuring FireHouse members.

The FireHouse!

 

Angie and Kash

 

Bethany and Erin

 

Cat

 

Diann and Kash

 

Erin and Bjorn

 

Erin and Jacek

 

Erin

 

The Boob Court

 

In memory of Marc Lederman

 

Johnnelle and Erin

 

Kash and LaRae (Mensa Chair… go LaRea!)

 

Lily and Erin

 

Jam session (Chad on the guitar and Seongtaek at the piano)

 

Seongtaek playing

 

Susan and Erin

A gift from the FireHouse

Laura and Taz

 

Therese Erin and 杨冰阳 (Aya)

 

 杨冰阳 (Aya) ready for a swim!

Johnnelle

Laura and Kash

 

Sexy Hottie (Joyce) with another sexy hottie (Laura)

Group pic!

Johnnelle and Bethany

Jason with Penn and Teller (Keynote Speakers)

Jennifer with Penn and Teller

Jimmy, Taz, and Jason

Michael

Penn and Teller

Bjorn

Touchy subject…

 

Carole and Sobeq

 

Gala dinner

 

Erin and Ellen

 

Erin and Ellen

 

Erin and Harriet

 

Erin and Kelli

 

Erin, Michael, and Johnelle

 

Kash and Kurt

 

Laura, 杨冰阳 (Aya), and Bjorn

The Airing of Grievances 2017

 

Andre hard at work

 

FireHosers 2017

 

Laura and Rob

 

Laura and Tony

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Naughty girl!

Thierrion and Bethany

Seongtaek and Bethany

Timmy and Stacey (Who says you can’t pick your friend’s nose???)

 

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