It's Meee!!!!


Yes, I'm that egocentric.

I haven't posted for a long time (obviously), and I happened to find these in a random email in a random person's inbox. Maybe it was mine...

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Police were called to a day care where a 3-yr-old was resisting a rest.

The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.

A thief who stole a calendar got 12 months.

A thief fell & broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles , U.C.L.A.

The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

A will is a dead giveaway.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.

Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft & I'll show you a flat miner.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France , resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

A calendar's days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

When you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

Anyway, some humor for those of you who are lexophiles. If you know what that word means, you're probably one of them.

Tomorrow is the national bridge contest. I was excited to get 2nd in the regional back in February, but as usual, I put off building my bridge for the national a little too long.
I have very little faith in my bridge, but I sent it off anyway. What do I have to lose? (except five dollars postage) I think I know exactly where it's going to break. Oh well.

Happy B-Day to Ben!


Um... yeah.

Happy Birthday, Ben!

And yippee that you're coming home...
Just in time to catch the cold.

Maybe you'd better stay and watch a few more stage shows in Vegas first!

Here's a dumb video just for you!

Ski the Moguls!


Ok, not really. I've got to learn how to ski moguls someday...

We went skiing at Copper Mountain today, and this post is dedicated to making Ben see how much he missed. :D (I know, I'm cruel.)

First of all, lunch - the first most-looked-forward-to time of day.

We looked around for a place to eat...

And then we decided to eat in the lodge. (Jack's, no less. Yippee, lots of cool dudes and loud music!)

I'm sure you can see how exciting our lunch was.

Then Jacob saw something.

He said, "A green outfit, just what I've always wanted!"

But then as he was plotting how he was going to take it, the owner came back, snow pants!

Totally cool, dude.

Now here's a picture for Ben who probably hasn't seen anything cooler than cold tap water or anything higher than a casino.
This is looking across the back bowls. (You know, at the top of the Rendezvous.)

And here's my favorite run of the day: Andy's Encore to Rosi's Run.
The snow was pretty good (other than the slush), and it was really fun. I love going fast down those things.
Ben, that little lump in the foreground should bear special significance to you. Fortunately, I remembered about that flattish place that tricks you into thinking you're not going all that fast. Then you hit the bumps...
What was really bad was on our last run of the day. See that shaded place? Yep, you can't see a thing on that snow. Seriously. Especially when you're going fast. All you can do is keep looking ahead and hoping you don't run over any poor, helpless ground squirrels. Or bumps.
How come pictures never do justice to reality? That was a lot steeper in real life.

Then here's me, trying out my self portrait skills while waiting for slowpoke Mark to catch up. :D Ha!
See my nice $10 skis! Of course I had to get those in the picture.

Now you can see how exciting our lunch really was.


Here I sit - fixed -
While worlds around me spin.
Unsupported, hanging - yet
Supported by - nothing.
Vastness, space around me spreads,
No up or down or right or left
All merges into one, whole,

Yet of the air my dreams are made,
Like birds they soar into the sky.
I reach for the clouds, the air, my dreams.
I fall short.
They soar too high.

Model Bridge Building...Made Easy!!!


Now you too can build your very own model bridge!

(As if you'd want to. )

I just thought it might be interesting to show you how I go about building a bridge. Of course, it may not be interesting either. It just seems, in my experience, that most people have no concept for how to... well... build a bridge. Well, I wouldn't either if it hadn't been for Ben and Dad. So thanks, guys.

The very first thing that I start out doing is laminating 3/32 inch square basswood sticks together. To do this, I use the jig Dad so graciously made for me which holds the pieces together while the glue dries.

Basically, the jig is composed of a long board with two boards glued/nailed on top of it with a gap in between. You can see it in the picture.

I put one piece of wood into the gap, put a thin line of super glue down the length of it, and then put the other piece of wood on top.

And, to keep the super glue from sticking to the jig, I actually put waxed paper down in the gap around the basswood pieces.

I then press both basswood pieces down into the gap, clamp another board on top, and wait a couple hours for the glue to dry. That's why I do this step first!
When I come back and take the basswood out of the jig, I have two pieces nicely laminated together.

To actually start to build the bridge, I first cut out the major pieces, referring to my as-accurate-as-I-can-possibly-be, actual-size drawing.

Usually I cut out two pieces at a time, one for each side, so that they're exactly the same. That's why I use the tape - to hold the pieces together while I'm sawing them.

Usually I have pretty good success just freehanding the sawing. I just draw a line at the right angle and length and hope for the best!

Here you can see the main pieces I cut out. Notice that there are two of each piece.

Then I have to figure out how to hold everything in the right place while I glue the pieces together. Right now I'm just making a quick and dirty model, just to see how the real bridge will act. So for this little guy, I just held the pieces on my drawing as I glued them.
There you can see all my pieces drying.

And that's all that's going on right now. I talked to Ben and Dad about my design today, and I think I have a pretty good idea what I'm going to do. Thanks, Steve for all your input too. I like your idea about my trouble joint, and I think I'll incorporate some of that into my design.

Bridging the Gap...


The three hundred millimeter gap, to be precise.
Ok, Ben and Steve, I have some more work for you. :D If you don't feel like exerting your brain, though, don't worry.

I am liking Ben's suggestion about my trouble joint the more I think about it.

First of all, here's a picture of my shorter design.

The members are marked in black, and the joints are marked in red.
Basically with the "problem joints" (joints 1 and 5), I'm thinking I should glue members 1 and 2 on top of member 6. Of course, I will have to put a little block of wood in there to fill in the gap. You might be able to see what I mean from the pictures. The turquoise member is member 1, the yellow member is member 3, the purple/blue member is member 6, and the little red member is the little block of wood to fill in the gap.

I hope you appreciated that picture; it took me a lot of effort to try to get it to look right. The yellow member isn't quite right still...

The next picture is what the joint would look like if you looked down the length of the bridge.

Sorry about the blue and red members; I think I will put the blue member right next to the yellow one, just so the yellow member can have more direct contact with the blue member. I guess that means that my first drawing is wrong.

This afternoon I got out all my old bridges to see what similarities in design I could find. Last year's bridge deals with my joint 1 problem.

As you can see, the long members across the bottom just snapped off the long members going up to the loading point.

This bridge is from two years ago, and it actually won first place! And once again, that trouble joint is what made it fail.

The long members across the bottom snapped off of the long members going up to the loading point. The interesting thing to note about this bridge is that it is asymmetrical. The loading point is offset from the center of the span, like this year's bridge. On this bridge, however, the loading point is offset by 100 mm, and this year's bridge is only offset by 50 mm.
This bridge failed on the shorter side, the side with the greatest angle, and the side with the most load. This will be true of this year's bridge as well.

So, to sum it up, I think putting members 1 and 2 on top of member 6 will definitely help my problem. I'm still thinking about how members 3 and 4 will fit into the picture.... (not literally)

This next bridge is from my first year at the bridge contest. Actually, it's the bridge I sent to the international contest, and yes, the bridge is broken in the picture, and no, you're not seeing what I actually sent in. Some members are missing.
This bridge has something interesting that I think I might be able to apply to joints 2 and 4.

See how the bottom member actually fits into and becomes a part of the upper member? I think I might be able to use that same idea in this year's bridge in joints 2 and 4. I think it would add strength to the joint that I wouldn't get if I just glued members 3 and 4 to the outside of the member under the loading plate. (?)

Another thing to notice about this bridge is how it used vertical members very similar to member 5. The joint connecting that member to the loading point snapped in this bridge, and I'm wondering what I might do to keep that from happening to this year's bridge.

And finally, just a picture of my favorite bridge and the one that won third in the international bridge contest two years ago. This picture is actually a test bridge I built before I built the bridge I sent to the contest. Unfortunately, they didn't send my bridge back after the contest, so I'll never know where it actually broke. I can push on it pretty hard, and it won't even budge! Pretty cool.

Ok, that's all for now. I'll probably talk to Ben sometime tonight to hear what he thinks. (You know Ben, maybe Matt has some good advice for me! I'm sure he knows a lot about bridge design. After all, he's a Mines student!) (Matt, as in Ben's coworker) (Is that a cross between a cow and a penguin? Cows say moo, and penguins say ork, I think. Oh, maybe it's a cow that orks.)
Ok, ok, I guess I'm just going crazy, that's all. But I finished my big long report on Apollo 13! I now have one less thing to do this week. (Now all I have left is to design and build a bridge, and practice and do school. Blah.) It turned out about 1900 words long. I won't tell you how late I stayed up...
I love reading about Apollo 13; I don't know why. That's partly why the report took so long, and although I'm glad to be done with it, I'm kind of sad not to have a good excuse for reading about it on school time. I finished Jim Lovell's book on it, and I just put Gene Kranz's book on hold at the library. Ok, but that has to wait until after the bridge contest.
fred travers sat after a fast read garbage baggage drab bagger badger web best west zest zester qwest awe sad sadder saddest dart rat rate at a fast rate taste tester reader rebecca cards exert exerted farce red brag bragger bread breaded bead beaded axe trade trader grass grade graded rest rested fred travers rested at a tree after exerted as a taste tester at a drab garbage bag at a fast rate aftertaste Fred Travers ate Badger. Badger gave Fred a bad aftertaste.
Oh no, now I'm catching Mom's disease - trying to find all the words you can type with just your left hand.

A Bridge Too Far...


Well, hopefully not. :)

So, here begins my build-a-bridge-in-two-weeks-because-you-didn't-get-around-to-starting-it-sooner marathon. I am such a procrastinator.

Ben, here is what I'm thinking about right now. If you could let me know your thoughts on the design, I would really love it. (I'll even make some more cookies for you when you come home again. :D)

You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

Basically I'm thinking that I'm going to go for a big, heavy (and hopefully strong) bridge this year. Fortunately, the weight limit is 30 grams instead of 25 grams. It'll help, but this is still going to be a scale-full.
I'm thinking of doing members 1, 2, 3, and 4 with fours (four wood pieces laminated together). Member 5, I'm thinking I can get away with using a two (two pieces laminated together), especially since it will only be in tension. That'll give me some good surface area at the top corner joint as well. Member 6 I think will probably be ok just being a single piece of wood (?), but I might want to beef up the corners where the bridge touches the support surfaces. Those two corners are going to be under a lot of stress. First of all, you have the tension from member 6 and then the forces trying to push outward from the big members coming down. So basically, pretty much all the force exerted on the bridge is going into those two corner joints. It makes me scared. Another thing that's scaring me is members 3 and 4; they just seem so likely to snap off where the load is being applied (the red box and arrow). Do you think they'll be ok without any other support from elsewhere? I don't really know a logical place to even support it. I suppose I could put something between members 1 and 3, but I'm really not sure if it's essential.

Anyway, just some of what I've been thinking about. Ben, if you could give me some feedback (unless, of course, you're too busy :D), that would be totally awesome.

Anyone else can comment too. :D Especially if you notice something I didn't!

Comments? Suggestions?

ISS it on Wikipedia?


Ok, I'm not trying to convince you that I was a snake in my previous life. ("In the former life, I was the asp, and you were Cleopatra...." - very complimentary isn't it?)

Yes, it is on Wikipedia. Even in kilograms. It made me very happy. I mean, I know that someone probably knows the mass of the International Space Station - after all, you kind of have to know those kinds of things in order to put it into and keep it in orbit - but I just didn't figure I would get to be one of those privileged people. Yes, Wikipedia puts the mass of the ISS at 227,267 kg. This made me happy until I figured out that I didn't really need the mass of the ISS. It would actually have been a lot more helpful to me if it had given the radius of the ISS's orbit. Then I was sad because Wikipedia did not give me its orbital radius. But, it did give me its average altitude, so I just added that to the average radius of the earth. Then, armed with all my centripetal force and force due to gravity equations, I set out to find the speed at which the ISS travels around the earth. Using all these weird, sort-of-random numbers like the universal gravitational constant and the earth's mass (not so weird or random), I solved my equation and found the speed of the ISS to be 7.70*10^3 meters/second. Unfortunately, meters/second don't mean much to me, and there was no way to check my answer since everything on the Internet gives the ISS speed in miles per hour. But then I found a conversion thingy and converted my answer to 17,224 miles per hour, which is pretty close to the Wikipedia answer of 17,210 miles per hour. Yippee! That makes me very happy. Then using the speed and the distance traveled in one orbit (the orbital circumference), I was able to find how long it took to make one orbit, its orbital period: 5.49*10^3 seconds or 91.5 minutes. That's close to the Wikipedia answer: 91.34 minutes. Since orbital frequency is inversely related (I hope I got that right, basically orbital period=1/frequency) to orbital period, I found out how many times per day the ISS orbits the earth which turned out to be 15.77 times per day, close to Wikipedia's 15.72397664 times per day. Then, I figured that I might as well compute the gravitational force exerted on the ISS which I found to be 2.00*10^6 Newtons which is around 90% of the gravitational force that would be exerted on the ISS at sea level.

So anyway, after that big long paragraph on gravitational force and such stuff, I bet you can guess which chapter in physics I just finished. Yep, uniform circular motion and gravity, and it is my very favorite chapter so far (and so for the test, I promptly missed some stupid stuff; man, there goes my physics grade).

As for the accuracy of all my answers, I figured I was relatively close, especially since I probably worked with a lot of imprecise numbers. So, with all the significant figures and adding the average ISS altitude to the average radius of the earth, I was pretty close. And sorry about all the scientific notation; you get so used to doing it for all the physics problems that you don't really think anything of it.

So, what was that big, long rant for? Well, who knows. I guess I was just excited that I could actually figure some of these things out, especially the ISS because it's a little more real to me than some random satellite orbiting at a random speed or altitude.

So, you'd think maybe there's a chance you might be able to see the ISS as it passes over you. Well, it turns out that you can-very easily, actually. If you go to this website, you can select your state and city, and it will tell you the next time you can see the ISS, which is for us, Thursday.

ISS sightings are actually pretty regular except for the fact that they seem to skip a week here and there. This is because of the conditions that have to exist for you to see the ISS. Basically, the ISS has to be in the sun, and you have to be in the shade. Or, it has to be dark, but not too far before sunrise or after sunset. So, you combine that fact with the frequency of the ISS orbit, and you get some varying times for sightings.

If you go to look for the ISS, it shouldn't be too hard to find. The approach and departure figures on the ISS sightings page basically just tell you where the ISS will appear and where it will disappear. (Divide the dome of the sky roughly into degrees-you know, 90 degrees is straight up, 45 degrees is halfway down from that, and so on-and that should give you a general idea of where to look.) Then all you do is look for a bright, moving star. It's as simple as that.

Ok, I think this qualifies as a long, boring post, and there wasn't even any poetry or even a story or anything! (Come on guys, don't act so relieved!) So, here are some videos that I thought were pretty cool.

The sound's pretty cool on this one.

It's neat how you can see the line on the water under the plane as he goes through his passes in the next video.

And last but not least, a video and sound of a plane going supersonic. Crank up the sound, guys, and revel in the resounding BOOM!

Ok, that's the end of this endless post, and I feel like I just wrote a lab report.

Happy Birthday!!!


I just happened to remember that Steve's birthday was yesterday, or today, or tomorrow. Unfortunately, I can't remember which. So here is a special birthday wish for him. I hope he understands it better than me.

Now that's one cool birthday cake! Or maybe it's a card...

Perhaps Ben should consider getting him a present. Here's an idea, Ben. Maybe in Vegas you could find one with fake jewels all over it.