Skip to main content

A Sleepless Night, A Ghost Story, and A Movie Review

A blood-curdling, heart-wrenching wail pierced the silence of the house.  The scream came from Number 3, our youngest.  She's still co-sleeping, (a fancy attachment parenting term for sleeping with her parents), so I immediately checked her to see what was wrong.  Her eyes were clamped tightly shut.  She was still asleep.

Intense nightmares seem to be hereditary around here.  I had them as a one-year-old, and so far each of the kids have had them in succession at the same age.

I, for one, at least had an interesting excuse.  My parents, both teachers, moved to the Hopi Reservation, (pictured by Ansel Adams below), a few months after I was born.  It's a beautiful, but isolated part of the country.  It's also haunted.

The Hopis, pacifists who live atop three sheer mesas in what is now Northeastern Arizona, had developed a brutal but effective means for dealing with social issues.  When the black plague spread across the Southwest, the Hopis, using this method, suffered less than some other tribes.  Having realized the disease was contagious, they simply pushed those afflicted with it off the edge of a mesa.

The death by mesa technique was also used during the Pueblo Revolt.  The pacifist Hopis served in the revolt only as messengers.  When two of their young messengers returned with their hands cut off by the Spaniards who had captured them, the Hopis pushed every Spanish man, woman, and child who lived among them over the edge.

Over the years, the mesas have become crowded with the ghosts of those who have fallen to their deaths.  The story goes that I, (among others), could see them.  My nightmares were eyes open affairs.  I'm told my parents would find me staring straight-ahead, screaming bloody murder., presumably at the offending ghost.

One, two, and three have no such excuse as far as I'm aware, but this hasn't stopped them from developing the same affliction.  Once we get them awake, we've found that a midnight viewing of "French Music", is the best way to bring everyone back down off the ceiling.

"French Music" is our colloquial title for "A Good Year" starring Russell Crowe.  I introduced the movie pretty early on to our oldest kid, Number 1.  When Number 1 and I watched it, it served as our Saturday morning movie for cuddling till Mom woke up.  I usually get up between 4 and 5 to have the house to myself for a few hours, and Number 1 pops up about 6.  The movie is imminently pleasant, with nary a stressful scene, so we'd lazily cuddle for two hours or so, watching mostly the French countryside, and listening to the pleasantly lilting waltz music that plays softly in almost every scene.

The movie chronicles the pivotal decisions that enter the life of one Maximillian Skinner, (played by Crowe).  He inherits an Estate in the French countryside, shown above, and must decide whether to maintain the luxurious life of a London-based international banker, or retreat to the vagaries of a moneyed life on his Uncle's estate.  There's the teenciest bit of existential angst, (if one could call it that), but the rest of the movie is filled with pleasant people doing pleasant things in a pleasant location.  

Considering the director, it's rather ironic that over time this movie also become our go-to nightmare remedy; seeing as it's the perfect antithesis of the other movies made by Ridley Scott: Alien, Blade Runner, and Hannibal!


Popular posts from this blog

Cool Math Tricks: Deriving the Divergence, (Del or Nabla) into New (Cylindrical) Coordinate Systems

The following is a pretty lengthy procedure, but converting the divergence, (nabla, del) operator between coordinate systems comes up pretty often. While there are tables for converting between common coordinate systems, there seem to be fewer explanations of the procedure for deriving the conversion, so here goes!

What do we actually want?

To convert the Cartesian nabla

to the nabla for another coordinate system, say… cylindrical coordinates.

What we’ll need:

1. The Cartesian Nabla:

2. A set of equations relating the Cartesian coordinates to cylindrical coordinates:

3. A set of equations relating the Cartesian basis vectors to the basis vectors of the new coordinate system:

How to do it:

Use the chain rule for differentiation to convert the derivatives with respect to the Cartesian variables to derivatives with respect to the cylindrical variables.

The chain rule can be used to convert a differential operator in terms of one variable into a series of differential operators in terms of othe…

Lab Book 2014_07_10 More NaI Characterization

Summary: Much more plunking around with the NaI detector and sources today.  A Pb shield was built to eliminate cosmic ray muons as well as potassium 40 radiation from the concreted building.  The spectra are much cleaner, but still don't have the count rates or distinctive peaks that are expected.
New to the experiment?  Scroll to the bottom to see background and get caught up.
Lab Book Threshold for the QVT is currently set at -1.49 volts.  Remember to divide this by 100 to get the actual threshold voltage. A new spectrum recording the lines of all three sources, Cs 137, Co 60, and Sr 90, was started at approximately 10:55. Took data for about an hour.
Started the Cs 137 only spectrum at about 11:55 AM

Here’s the no-source background from yesterday
In comparison, here’s the 3 source spectrum from this morning.

The three source spectrum shows peak structure not exhibited by the background alone. I forgot to take scope pictures of the Cs137 run. I do however, have the printout, and…

Unschooling Math Jams: Squaring Numbers in their own Base

Some of the most fun I have working on math with seven year-old No. 1 is discovering new things about math myself.  Last week, we discovered that square of any number in its own base is 100!  Pretty cool!  As usual we figured it out by talking rather than by writing things down, and as usual it was sheer happenstance that we figured it out at all.  Here’s how it went.

I've really been looking forward to working through multiplication ala binary numbers with seven year-old No. 1.  She kind of beat me to the punch though: in the last few weeks she's been learning her multiplication tables in base 10 on her own.  This became apparent when five year-old No. 2 decided he wanted to do some 'schoolwork' a few days back.

"I can sing that song... about the letters? all by myself now!"  2 meant the alphabet song.  His attitude towards academics is the ultimate in not retaining unnecessary facts, not even the name of the song :)

After 2 had worked his way through the so…