We can do it!

My wife mused about ordering some food for Thanksgiving. Galahad said not to. He has been helping with the cooking.

Having never cooked Thanksgiving, he had no idea this meant more than a meat and two sides. A typical meal might be chicken plus a green vegetable and a starchy one. These are typically an hour or so to prepare.

He objected to the broccoli casserole. So mac and cheese was added to compensate. (But that meant two different ones as some of us have special dietary needs.)

He called this a nine course meal. There were six things. We shared working on the various things, so while my wife took the brunt, we all helped. He felt this was all too much.

No worries. Sounds like he will remember for next year to let us order.

We also invited friends over for pie and hanging out on the patio. Fleur gets quiet around people she doesn’t know. Amazing not to hear her constant conversation for so long. Once she hit her playground, she was good.

Concrete

I operate in a world of abstractness.

  • The hundreds of machines I manage are virtual machines using logical storage volumes and allowed access to CPU & memory on hardware. I can do my job from anywhere because there is not anything physical for me to touch other than my laptop.
  • The fiction I read allows me to craft my own vision of events.
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When Fleur gets to see the things from stories in real life, there is a brightness to her expression of wonder.

My favorite is when she sees a school bus. She breaks out into her favorite song: The wheels on the bus go round-and-round, round-and-round, round-and-round. She does all the verses we know even though the bus is long gone from sight.

Another good one is the horses. They have most been silent and stamping when they want pets. When Molly neighed at her, Fleur was astounded because it was the first time she’d experienced the sound in person.

This process of attaching something concrete to an abstract concept makes me happy for her.

I’m thinking I need to take notes of these things from the books in her collection and brainstorm ways for her to experience them in person.

Impractical Science

Something that irks me is the notion that the only science worthy of being conducted is that which has a direct practical application. I think if humans were omniscient enough to know what is useful, then we really would be past doing science.

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The case which prompted this post: the reconstruction of a mummy larynx. True, it doesn’t directly help a living person. Plenty of people damage theirs in car accidents, falls, etc. By acquiring an 3D image of the person’s and building a replica, we could replace lost ones. And the person could have their same voice. Voice is part of identity given we recognize others by the sound of theirs. Mechanical replacements that sound inhuman are like wheelchairs: approximation, but the user still loses a lot.

Science and technology are collaborative endeavors. Others replicate a finding. They take an idea and do something similar but different to see if there were hidden variables that change the finding. Or, produce a product from the idea.

Too much focus on practical science is what led us to the Replication Crisis in psychology. People needing a useful result, meant not enough people replicating experiments to see if the results held. Mythical results went years without anyone publishing they were bunk.

WFH with a Tyrannical Toddler

Our world…

Developmentally speaking, “2 years old might be one of the roughest ages” for social distancing, says Arthur Lavin, a pediatrician in Cleveland and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. A 6-month-old offered peas for dinner either wants them or not, but a 2-year-old knows something tastier exists. It’s the age of challenging the world, making vague demands and feeling intense emotions at every turn.

Expert advice for sheltering in place with a tyrannical toddler. Washington Post, On Parenting. By Veronica Graham. April 1, 2020.
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The article goes on to advise parallel play…

  • Stay close and present
  • Keep up physical contact
  • Pick toys that encourage exploration and imagination
  • Scale back on toys

I think we have done pretty well. Fleur spends time with me on conference calls. I will turn on the video so she can talk to early bird coworkers before a call starts. She gets bored pretty quick on moves on to something else adjacent to me.

Nerd

My father told me a story that sounds exactly like me.

My parents were called to have a parent teacher conference over my refusal to accept I was wrong. Apparently, the teacher had asked a question and the answer I gave was not the one in the textbook. However, I insisted that I had the right answer because I had read in a science magazine not long before about a new discovery.

Fleur’s science books

My father said he counseled me to not challenge the teacher in front of the other kids. Thinking back, I really never took that lesson to heart.

One of my favorite high school stories is in science bowl answering that Saturn had more moons than Jupiter. The teacher (the superintendent a couple years later) was excited I got it wrong. I argued Jupiter had sixteen. But a few more were discovered for Saturn bringing it up to 18. To this day we are still still finding moons for these planets and who has more flip flops. The question depends on current knowledge.

Thankfully, the student teacher was aware and came to my defense. I got the question right.

Fleur has lots of science books already. I already explain science concepts. We will do many experiments together. And, she will be kept current on the state of knowledge because I get excited when I learn about a new discovery.

Chimes

Last summer we spent a week at the house of my aunt and uncle. They have three chiming clocks. A grandfather clock and two small ones.

We have something similar. Auditory reminders at 9, 10, 3, 4, 5, 6 that announce: Check diaper. This is essentially our chimes. I find I don’t really need a clock during this period.

We don’t need the automated system when we get up from sleeping and prepare for it at naptime and bedtime. It is the in between that we need brought to our attention. In the focused zone, it can be easy to assume the other parent is going to take care of it. The chime brings back to our attention that maybe we should. We have saved on diaper cream since setting these up as we are better at making sure to address the diaper before the acidic defecation causes a rash.

On the plus side, Fleur loves the announcements. She runs around repeating it. If I am in the middle of work, then her running around letting us know keeps it on the brain.

Reminders are my main way of remembering to do things. The strange thing to me is this working from home means I am on my phone less. So, I miss more of the ones through it.

Paternal oxytocin

The one good thing about the shelter-in-place is the opportunity to be more engaged with my daughter. Before, I got her fed, dressed, and transported to daycare. Now, I still generally get her fed then periodically engage her in conversations, reading, and play. I can say that I do feel more connected to her.

Thus, the below makes sense to me:

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Oxytocin increases in mothers, who provide a lot of affectionate contact and in fathers, who have a lot of stimulatory contact. Studies show that fathers highly involved in playing with their children have a higher level of oxytocin, compared with fathers, who show less stimulating activities. Moreover, brains of fathers involved in caregiving activities show an increase in grey matter volume.

Parenting is a choice” on SciComm for everyone

WFH and bosses

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I work in IT, so my work is a mixture of meetings to talk about processes and working tickets. The computer systems I manage are all virtual servers in our private cloud. So, the tools I use to do my job at my desk is the same laptop I use to do my job at home.

Maybe in part because so much of my work is asynchronous, there are expectations of a lag in responses. If I send a message to a person or group, then I expect them to respond when they can. That may be instantly or in a couple days. There are tools at my disposal to get the attention of people faster if so needed. But, if I also need to step away to entertain the bored toddler and it is not a live meeting, then it is not that big of a deal. It is no different than the interruptions I get in the office from people stopping by to ask a question or make an observation.

What I didn’t expect is to have people so supportive of having a toddler present. A number of times, I have forgotten to mute myself in a meeting or the toddler unexpectedly loudly ran into the room. In every case, my coworkers or our clients have been amused about it. It elicits an amused response. When Fleur joins me, I turn on the camera and let her see my coworkers. She loves getting to see them when someone reciprocates.

The coup de grâce was my boss was waving to her with his camera on during a meeting. When the meeting ended, she was upset. So, I “called” him via the system and they got a few more minutes of interaction. I wanted to talk to him about the meeting, so once she got bored and moved on, I talked to my boss. It made me feel appreciative.

Potential vs kinetic energy

As the swing reaches its highest point it has all potential energy. When it reaches the lowest, it is all kinetic energy. As it moves up, the pull of gravity changes the kinetic into potential.

Fleur is full of potential energy. She breaks into converting it into kinetic energy at a whim. Usually it is predictable:

  • To get the cat
  • To go play on the playset
  • To pet a dog
  • To be chased
  • To get into the street

Tonight she caught me by surprise. After bath, she wanted to read the Pout-Pout Fish. And right before the kissy part she leaves the room and tells me to get up. I try to finish, but she is insistent. So, I do and she takes off. It was her favorite route in a circle.

Coefficient of friction

One of the considerations for letting Fleur go slide is the pants she wears. Something I didn’t know before being a parent was different pants have different coefficients of friction.

The force required to move two sliding surfaces over each other, divided by the force holding them together. It is reduced once the motion has started.

theFREEdictionary
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And drag.

Every time I let her go with the slicker pants, I chide myself for not having made the better physics choice. She flies down the slide.

It is one of those designs with a bump in the middle. She can go so fast she gets enough air to land just before careening off the end.

With pants providing enough friction, she doesn’t get too much speed. And I don’t feel the need to be too vigilant.