Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pockets Rock

Especially for school demos. Today's pocket check:
-wallet, cellphone, keys, USB stick
-3 screwdrivers (see DS, Ipod...)
-2 transformers
-1 Nintendo DS (broken, demo unit)
- Ipod (broken, demo unit)

After a certain point I might have confused the children as to whether I was talking about electricity or doing magic tricks.

Can't wait to get on the plane to foreign overseas country for the summer. If I get good enough cargo pants the security check alone could take days.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Woo, I am officially armed with two bird guides and three types of bird food. My mission is to learn how to tell sparrows apart. They all look the same to me, brown and tiny. Thanks to my biologist roomie, I can tell them apart by sound. But now it's time to squint closely at their tiny little heads and learn how to tell the little feather balls apart. Also - greater variety of birdseed = greater variety of birds? We shall see.

I think I just aged myself several decades buying a bird guide, bird seed, and gardening gloves at the supermarket. With coupons.

Monday, May 17, 2010

D'aww, my little electronic baby :D

I've been having a great time lately working on some electronics projects. It's too bad I can't double-major here or anything or else I'd get an electrical engineering degree too. Fun stuff. Then again, maybe I just like it because I haven't had to take too many courses about circuits and programming and all that, just the basics. In any case, I'm glad that I have the resources and people around to help me turn my crazy ideas into real projects.

This week, I made my very own circuitboard for my clock project so that I can finally move it off the breadboard. I've never made a board before so I was really excited. I used EAGLE, which is a pretty neat program. It has libraries full of parts in their actual size so you can play around with their position on the board and be relatively certain that they'll fit. Plus it mirrors everything so that when you transfer the image to the board everything is in the right place. It also makes sure that lines aren't too close or touching where they shouldn't be. After printing the design with a laser printer, it was out of printer and into the laminator! Then I spent the better part of an hour swishing it around with glee in ammonium etching fluid before it was ready. And ta-dah! My very own special board.

Monday, May 10, 2010

One Step Forward, Eighteen Thousand Steps Backwards

It was wonderful and somewhat surprising to see so many examples of girls and boys doing science together in this book. There are an equal amount of pictures and examples for both genders. I would have expected more genderized photographs and projects. I'm glad to have been wrong on that!

Right off the bat, we have this lovely picture of a Grade 9 class and their science projects, built from the instructions contained in the book. This includes a lens camera, an electric motor, a barometer, a sonometer, a convection current somethingorother, home-lighting, circuits, and an optical disk. How nice that (presumably) all of the students in that class got to learn from building something.

See? Everyone will go blind as they get older!

The progressive and inclusive attitude towards women that I found in this book made it all the more shocking when I found this doozy of a problem. It was stunning and horrifying to see this in a textbook, and a science textbook at that, of all things.

The caption reads, "A Fijian mother with her two children in front of their thatched cottage. What evidence can you find in this picture to suggest that life in a hot climate is very simple and that the people are unprogressive?"


The supporting block of text in the book that students can use to "help" solve this example is:

"In regions lying near the equator, the life of the native is equally simple. There, clothing is scanty and of light material; homes are simple and poorly constructed. Natives in these regions incline to be indolent and unprogressive. Why? In the very cold regions, the conditions are too hard and the resources too meagre to permit of progress, while in the tropics, living is too easy to stimulate activity."

Way to miss the real problem completely, authors. I hope that we've come a long, long way since then.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

SCIENCE (3) - Imma fail this unit

Err. Uhhh. Umm... No clue. That there is a pig.

Ooh! Combine, swatter, tractor, thingie, other thingie, and that thingamajig on the farm that they let me drive. Yeah.

Marquis! It's the Canadian miracle wheat that opened up the prairies! I wonder what we grow now.

Yikes this is hard.

SCIENCE (2) - Everyday Examples

Like any good science book, this one has lots of everyday applications that the students can relate to. Can you guess the mechanical principle from the examples given?


1. "[...] common examples are the oar of a rowboat and the potato-ricer."

2. " When we use a wringer, turn a door-knob, or draw water from a well with a windlass, we are doing work with the help of a _________________ ."

3. "The propellers that pull flying boats and aeroplanes through the air are ____________. Even the snowmobile, which travels swiftly over the deep snow that blocks other motor traffic, is propelled by an ___________."

4. " [...] the binder, the fanning-mill, the sheaf-loader, and the grain-separator."

Give up yet?

1. The lever
2. Wheel and axle
3. Air screws
4. Inclined plane

Aside from noticing how common, everyday examples have changed so much, it's also interesting to notice the change in language over the past 70 or so years, most noticeably the de-hyphenization of words such as door-knob.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I have a particular fondness for old looking books. The biggest secondhand store here has an entire shelf devoted to (sort of) old books, which is always fun to browse. Interestingly enough I've found several science books from the early and mid-1900s, which counts as old in Canada. It's really neat to look at how our views of the world have grown and changed over the years. The most recent book I picked up was an educational book for Grade 9 students published in 1938 simply titled SCIENCE, by T.W. Hunt, L.H.G. Clark, and J.R. Davidson. I love the visual style of the cover, I'm thinking this would make an awesome poster.

Another fun thing about old schoolbooks is the assortment of graffiti and ephemera that comes with them. This one includes a newspaper clipping about Queen Elizabeth, a page of handwriting practice (ugggh) and someone's daily schedule:
Mondays - AM: Geometry PM: Art
Tuesdays - AM: History PM: Languages
Wednesdays - AM: Health PM: Literature
Thursdays - AM: Algebra PM: French
Fridays- AM: Science PM: Arithmetic

Woo Fridays! I can't imagine having that schedule during high school. Even with my best efforts I still have trouble staying focused (ie, awake) for three hour lectures.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Now that I'm done exams, that leaves time for the finer things in life, like potlucks! We had a great one last week. For some reason, though, we spent an entire day cleaning the house before the party. Duhhh. Parties should be held at messy houses, not at clean ones, so that the cleaning afterwards is less redundant.

I had this brilliant plan to make a turkey, salad, casserole, and scalloped potatoes. It turns out that I own fewer pans than I thought. Thank goodness for my addiction to cake pans! I think my mom would call this a disaster. I call it awesome! New recipe - dinosaur potatoes. RrraaWWWWrrrrr!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dirty Pool

I'm used to finding religious pamphlets at work, at school, and flailed in my face as I walk down the street. But in my own bathroom? What the heck? I guess our newish roomie is really religious. Seriously though, the bathroom? Is nothing sacred?

This lackadaisical commercial attitude towards conversion really irks me. Buying little books to argue for you and leaving them around is just so lazy. Want to tell me what to believe? Want to tell me how to live my life? Either wait for me to ask your opinion, or at least have the decency to engage with me face-to-face. If you can't make a compelling argument for something on your own, maybe you should reconsider what you believe.

Time for new friends

I can't believe I had this conversation with one of my friends :(

Friend: "You're lucky, you don't have to worry about getting a job. You're a woman in a field with like no girls, so all the employers will be like yay!"
Me: "Seriously? Did you just say that?"
Friend: "Uhh, I think you're misinterpreting what I said! What I mean is that you're a smart woman and most women in engineering are dumb, like L."
Me: "...what? WHAT? We're probably just as dumb as guys in engineering. Speaking of which, your buddy R. is pretty thick and he has a nice engineering job."
Friend: "Yeah, but people expect guys to be dumb. When they see a smart girl they're all like WOAH and they hire you right away."
Me: "No... just.... no. We will have this conversation again when you are sober, and then I will hit you."

I tend to veer off on tangents. Pick your tangent from the menu on the right.