Friday, September 4, 2015

Turn on Your Heartlight





VINTAGE: We enjoyed a couple of happy hours at one of our favorite Seattle spots, Living Computer Museum, yesterday afternoon.

We rode the bus down (along with a bunch of Seahawks' fans heading to the game at CenturyLink field in the same neighborhood as LCM). We thought it might be crazy busy down in the stadium district, but it wasn't too bad to navigate, after all.

We spent over an hour playing around on the vintage desktop computers, mostly playing old games, including ET on the Atari 400.


Can I just share that I played the (stupid awful) game above for ten minutes and five lives and apparently didn't score a single gol darn point?! No wonder they buried the cartridges in the desert!!!

And look at this pristine Commodore PET.


Introduced the same year as the first "Star Wars" movie, it had a whopping 4kB of memory - w00t!

Annabelle tried to get the game Joust to run on this Exidy Sorcerer, but we were doing something wrong. We'll have to give it another go on a subsequent visit.


There are also some examples of current technology at LCM, and it seemed only fitting that we give the latest AE sports NFL game a go, since the Seahawks were on the field right down the block.

It was first Thursday, so that meant it was also a free movie night there. Specifically, they were screening the second part of "Triumph of the Nerds." Originally aired on PBS, the 1996 documentary explores the development of the personal computer in the United States from WWII to 1995.

We attended LCM's screening of the first part of the show last month, and definitely wanted to see the second part of the documentary.

Here's CJ's review of the show ... 

On September 3rd, 2015, we went to the Living Computer Museum to see "Triumph of the Nerds, Part 2", the second in a classic mini-series from the 1990s about computer history. Episode 2 of Triumph of the Nerds focused on things such as IBM's leap into the PC industry, and Microsoft's purchase of 86-DOS (or QDOS, which stood for Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products, who turned it into MS-DOS.
In the late seventies and early eighties, IBM was still mostly just a company for large business computers. However, at that time, the personal computer market was booming, and IBM needed to act fast if they wanted their chance to make money in the business. One of the people working at IBM literally had some of the parts he wanted to use in the prototype and the plans in IBM's basement. IBM had to make the computer within 1 year, because if IBM didn't do it, somebody else would. When IBM decided to buy their software, they had two options: a 39-year old man named Gary Kildall, who had a computer Ph.D, and a twentysomething Harvard dropout named Bill Gates (Hmm, which one do you pick?). IBM chose Bill Gates.
Although the IBM Personal Computer was a success, there were multiple other "clones" of the machine made by other companies, because most of the parts in the IBM PC could be purchased from elsewhere. In fact, the only part that was solely IBM was the ROM-BIOS, which was protected by IBM's army of lawyers. Compaq, over the course of a year, managed to reverse-engineer it, or figure out how it works and make a copy of it. They eventually did, and made the Compaq PC, a computer that's primary selling point was being more portable than the IBM PC, being able to carry the Compaq like a suitcase. Following Compaq's innovation, several other IBM PC clones appeared on the shelves. Suddenly, it was once again difficult for IBM.
I enjoyed watching Triumph of the Nerds, Part 2, and I learned that this is the #1 rule of the computer industry, as quoted from the movie: "The prize doesn't go to the inventor, but to the exploiter of the invention."
After the movie, one of the LCM staffers busted out a slide trombone and played one of the IBM fight songs for us. 

Gratuitous cool dials and switches shot ... 
And for the first time, I noticed this poster about Moore's Law on one wall. Interesting.
Generally speaking, most sum up Moore's Law to mean the number of transistors on a 1-inch (2.5 centimeter) diameter of silicon doubles every x number of months.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hot off the Plant

PICK A PEPPER:  Regular readers will know that CJ's gardening interests lie in hot peppers. The hotter, the better. Not that he will actually eat any of them (he won't even eat a green bell pepper!), but he is apparently impressed with the 'power' they possess. 

So this year, from seed, we have Trinidad Moruga scorpion peppers growing, along with a number of Carolina reaper plants, and several Ghost chiles. 

The Trinidad MS plants are mainly in pots on our upper deck. Most of the peppers are still green ...
but for whatever reason, one of them, in the middle of one plant, turned bright red, meaning it's ready to pick.

Using tweezers to protect his fingers from potential burns, CJ had the honors. 
It looks harmless enough, but this little beauty (about the size of a quarter), was identified in 2012 by New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute as the hottest chili in the world, with a mean heat of more than 1.2 million Scoville heat units (while some individual plants have a heat of more than 2 million SHUs!). 

STAR WARS READS:  Three years ago, a new, annual event was introduced to the Star Wars universe - "Star Wars Reads Day." Held on the second Saturday in October, participating bookstores, libraries and retailers host events all around the globe. Event partners include Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Marvel, Abrams, Chronicle, Del Rey, DK, Quirk Books, Scholastic, Workman, Egmont, Studio Fun, Phoenix International Publishing, and many more. 
Seattle's Museum of Flight has been in on the action for a couple of years, and this year, they are, once again, holding a "Star Wars Writes" contest in conjunction with their event.

This morning, CJ and Annabelle checked out the contest rules, and started contemplating their potential stories. Annabelle has honed in on some backstory for a certain Wookiee, while CJ is crafting a humorous tale about a peculiar cantina band. ... 




You can check out facebook.com/StarWarsReads for the latest info on special events.

FISHY: One of the fun features on the kids' Nintendo DS units is a program called Flipnote which lets them create animations. Annabelle is especially fond of it. Yesterday she asked me what to draw. I suggested a pelican who was going fishing. 
video

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Geek Feature

GEEKS R US: This afternoon we took a fun field trip to the Fremont neighborhood, just north and a bit east of the Magnolia Preparatory Academy campus. 

Seattle-based GeekWire is national technology news site with a large audience of tech-savvy readers around the globe.

We went to their offices in response to a 'casting call' GeekWire posted a few days ago. I didn't see the post, but friends contacted me about it. Apparently they think I have geeky kids. I suppose some might be offended, but I was flattered. ;)

I responded to the casting call via email, and lo and behold, Annabelle was invited to come into their offices to interview. (I didn't put in for CJ, because he was well outside their age 5 to 10 range in the notice.)

We got to the GeekWire offices a little early, so we strolled around Fremont for a bit. We love that neighborhood - so cool and quirky!

One of the first things we spied was this sign tied to a chain link fence. 
Of course, we had to Google Street Feather Project. We learned it's "Positive messages to change the world. Peace, Love, and Creativity. ✌️❤️�� #artforall Contact: streetfeatherproject@hotmail.com"
We found an urban oasis garden, complete with a hard cider in its natural habitat (ha ha).
Politics are always big in "The People's Republic of Fremont."

About 2:20, we headed to GeekWire for our 2:30 appointment. The child being interviewed ahead of Annabelle was just coming out, so she went right in. Annabelle was in there about 15 minutes, and most of the time CJ was peppering me with questions about what she was doing and asking if we'd ever get to see her whole interview. I told him no and not to worry about it, it was her thing, no big deal.

That said, about three minutes before we left home this afternoon, I told CJ to brush his hair and get on a geeky t-shirt. I had a feeling that he might get a crack at being interviewed, as well and lo and behold, when Annabelle came out of the room, one of the principals spied CJ in his Oregon Trail t-shirt and conscripted him to be interviewed. CJ was happy to oblige. 

CJ didn't hesitate to share his thoughts with GeekWire. Here are some highlights. ...


On September 2nd, 2015, we went to GeekWire Headquarters in the neighborhood of Fremont to be interviewed. According to Wikipedia, GeekWire is a technology news website that covers startups and established technology companies. The reason Annabelle managed to get interviewed is when mom learned that GeekWire was looking for "geeky" kids to interview, and Annabelle made the cut (because of her age). Although only Annabelle was supposed to be interviewed, I was pulled in the room at the last second.
First of all, I was wearing an Oregon Trail t-shirt saying "you have died of dysentery", one of the most common things you'll see in the game, and I was asked where it came from. I explained the t-shirt was inspired by Oregon Trail, and that it was notorious for being a luck-based mission and near impossible without save scumming*.
Afterwards, when I was interviewed, I was asked multiple questions. Some of these questions were the following: "Do you like video games?" I answered yes. "Which occupation would you prefer: astronaut, firefighter, entrepreneur, or scientist?" I responded that I would prefer to be a scientist, as both astronauts and firefighter have to frequently put their lives on the line, and I don't think I'd be a very good entrepreneur.
"Will robots take over the world?" I said that if we continue to make better AI and fail to take action about their ever-growing capabilities, then they may cause disaster.
"Which do you prefer: Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft?" I replied by asking "Is there a fourth option?"** They laughed and asked me if it could be one of the three they listed. I said Nintendo.
"If you could invent anything, what would it be?" I asked if it had to be within the bounds of known science and physics. They said no, and I said I'd make a Portal Gun.***
Lastly, they asked me if I wanted to say anything before I left. I said "Never give up, never surrender", a quote from Galaxy Quest. They proceeded to laugh. Overall, I had a good time being interviewed by GeekWire.
*Definition of save scumming: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SaveScumming **My choice, had it been available, would have been PC. ***Article about the Portal Gun: http://combineoverwiki.net/wiki/Portal_Gun
Here are a few of Annabelle's thoughts about the experience. ...
On September 2, I went to GeekWire to be interviewed. The people at GeekWire interviewed multiple kids to put into a compilation video. They asked me multiple questions about technology and other ‘geeky’ things. The interview was short, but I enjoyed answering the questions. Some of the questions included whether I liked Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Sony more and if I knew what a “Walkman” was. One thing that surprised me was that John Cook, the founder of GeekWire and person interviewing me, did not recognize my Boba Fett dress, nor my brother’s Oregon Trail shirt. GeekWire has been doing interviews for a couple of years now, and they’ve made videos showing some of the questions. I thought it was fun, and I can’t wait to see if I make the video.
MORNING STROLL: This week was supposed to be cold and wet all week long. Imagine our delight when this morning was blue skies and friendly temperatures.

To celebrate, we look a long walk down to Fisherman's Terminal. We were rewarded by some beautiful sights.

UP AND AWAY: Last night, we watched three men rocket off Earth in a Soyuz capsule. On board were Sergey Volkov, a second-generation cosmonaut, along with Andreas Mogensen - Denmark's very first astronaut ever! - and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency.

While Volkov will spend six months on station, Mogensen and Aimbetov are super short timers, there for just eight days. For a few days, the ISS will have nine people on board. That's a pretty full house, so to speak - 50 percent or more than are usually living there. 
https://youtu.be/r2s1ZJjeQGI

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Enter September

JURASSIC REVISITED:  Yesterday evening we finally got around to seeing Jurassic World on the big Boeing IMAX screen at Pacific Science Center.  (The family had attempted to go on opening night, months ago, but the theater had technical difficulties, and we were turned away with some SUPER disappointed kids.)

Anywho, fast forward to the last night of August. Expectations were high. And ... again the kids came away rather disappointed. But this time they actually got to see the movie. I'll let them tell you about it.

Let's let CJ have the first crack at it. ...

On August 31st, 2015, we (finally) got to see Jurassic World at the Pacific Science Center. Jurassic World is the third sequel to the original movie, Jurassic Park, which itself was based on a book written by Michael Critchton in 1990. The movie is set in Jurassic World, a park and zoo on the Caribbean island of Isla Nublar. Jurassic World is a successor park to Jurassic Park.
In the movie, we learn that Jurassic World has started making genetically-modified dinosaurs to attract visitors, including the Indominus Rex*, which, according to the unofficial Jurassic Park Wikia, is made from the DNA of Tyrannosaurus (which is the base creature), Velociraptor, Carnotaurus, Giganotosaurus, Majungasaurus, Rugops, and Therizinosaurus, as well as modern animals like cuttlefish and an unspecified species of tree frog. In my opinion, she seems like more of a biological weapon than an amusement park attraction.
After claw marks were discovered on the wall of her cage, it was determined that she escaped. She eventually heads south and breaks into the park, and proceeds to wreak havoc on the park and its visitors. A while later, Indominus fights a Tyrannosaurus, and the I. Rex nearly kills the T. Rex, but a Velociraptor named Blue comes in and attempts to fight the Indominus. Blue and the Tyrannosaurus proceed to force the Indominus near the Mosasaurus swimming area, and the Mosasaurus proceeds to drown the Indominus.
Although I don't say things like this very often, Jurassic World may not have been worth the wait.
*I think that Indominus Rex would be an unscientific name for her, as it implies she is in an entirely different genus from Tyrannosaurus Rex.

And Annabelle's take ... 
On August 31, I went to see Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park franchise. The movie is about a pair of brothers on a trip to see the Jurassic World theme park. Just as other Jurassic Park movies, this obviously doesn’t blow over well. One thing that was different about this movie, however, is that there was a “hybrid” dinosaur; the Indominus Rex, which was made from the “base” of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with other classified parts added. I don’t want to say any more because many people haven’t seen the movie yet. It was an interesting movie but very predictable. I would only recommend it if you watch Jurassic Park movies for the dinosaurs, not the suspense. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t feel the need to see it again.
In case you're wondering, the ferocious looking plushies in the photo above were in a claw-type vending machine in the lobby of WinCo grocery store this morning when we visited. We left them alone, knowing just how dangerous Jurassic World dinos are. They're best left alone.

PUPPY POWERS:  We listened to a few lectures in our "Dog Emotion and Cognition" course, with today's topic being the ecological approach to evolution and cognition. 

During the lectures, we learned about amazing abilities of lyre birds to master complex mating calls. Check out this video with David Attenborough from the BBC via YouTube ... (it's the same video we watched in class). https://youtu.be/VjE0Kdfos4Y

In other dog-related news, a friend posted a TED-Ed video about canines' amazing noses. 

We've all heard that dogs "see" with their noses, but this video (lesson by Alexandra Horowitz with narration by Provincia Studio) demonstrate a dog's complex, amazing nasal 'architecture.'
https://youtu.be/p7fXa2Occ_U


TED-Ed also has supplementary info available on the topic here: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-do-dogs-see-with-their-noses-alexandra-horowitz

BULK EDUCATION: Today we made our weekly jaunt down to WinCo Foods in Kent, a half hour plus to our south. The prices make it worth the drive. 

While there, we visited the bins, buying split peas, beans, macadamia nuts and more in bulk. We noticed a change in the section - new tags on some of the barrels with factoids about the foods they contained. 
For instance, we learned that quinoa has been identified by NASA as a'an ideal food for long-duration space flights.'

And it looks like rice might be a better choice than pasta or potatoes ...

Monday, August 31, 2015

Scales and Such

SIZING IT UP:  We were fortunate to be gifted an inflatable solar system set (plus Pluto and a couple of planets' moons) last week. Over the weekend, Annabelle blew them all up, and right away, she suspected they were not to scale. 

Turns out they're exponentially out of whack. 

For starters, 1.3 million or so Earths could fit inside the sun. In Exhibit A above, you see the set's Earth and Sun. I'm pretty sure 1.3 million of those Earths couldn't fit in the orange orb. Or our house, for that matter!

One-point-three-million Earths is pretty hard to even contemplate. Fortunately, we found a cool story online that provides a visualization of it. Check it out here:  http://space-facts.com/how-big-is-the-sun-million-earths/

MEANWHILE, NEAR SATURN:  We loved this photo today from NASA 360. Check out moon Dione crossing the face of the planet Saturn, a process also known as a 'transit.'  Per NASA, "Transits play an important role in astronomy and can be used to study the orbits of planets and their atmospheres, both in our solar system and in others."

Read more about the Cassini mission here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html

FREE FREE FREE: Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! A subtle reminder that there's an opportunity to get free museum admission for two to one of hundreds of venues across the U.S. (Seattle friends, this includes EMP, the Museum of Flight and SAM). All you have to do is go to this Web site and register!
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/

A list of participating venues is here:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/venues/

WHAT'S ON THE MENU: Annabelle is often 'doing an art,' to use poor grammar. She takes a sketchbook almost everywhere. When we're at a restaurant, the back of the kid's menu becomes her 'canvas.' Here are three creations of hers from a recent restaurant stop. 

Often, she'll ask me for a topic to draw. For this one, I said, "Fish eating pizza."
I love the little details like the fish wearing a tie and another fish happy to see anchovies.

I also suggested a shark water skiing.
I like how she has the shark explaining he can breathe out of water a bit, just not very well.

And this last one chronicles the struggles CJ and she had with the ketchup bottle.

IN REVIEW: CJ recently purchased a new (old) video game. I'll let him tell you a bit about it. 

The Mega Man Legacy Collection is a collection of the 8-bit Mega Man games, including games 1 through 6, originally released from 1987 to 1993. The Mega Man franchise was created by Keiji Inafune, who, according to Wikipedia, is a Japanese video game producer and illustrator.
In the games, you play as Mega Man, a blue robot whose job is to destroy and get the powers of other robots made by the evil Dr. Wily. Although the games are without a doubt the primary focus of the collection, there are other features included with the game.
These extra features include Challenges, which are challenges presented to you (examples: going through all the bosses from a single game, speedrunning through parts of certain stages, etc.) that must be completed within a time limit. There is also the museum, featuring pictures such as development sketches and advertisements for the games. Then there is the database, featuring information about certain characters and enemies in the games. Lastly, there are the soundtracks for the games that you can listen to.
The Mega Man Legacy Collection costs $14.99 digitally, and it was released on August 25th (or 9:00 P.M. on the 24th if you live on the West Coast).

I think CJ bought his version at 9:01 p.m. on the 24th.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Finds

SOLAR SYSTEM SCORE:  Regular readers know we are active in a "Buy Nothing" neighborhood group, where neighbors post items they are looking to rehome and other neighbors express their desire to pick up said items. Today, this popped up in my feed ...
Why wouldn't want a Giant Inflatable SOLAR SYSTEM? I especially love that the box notes it includes eight planets, Pluto ... in other words, it's not counting poor Pluto as a planet. That would make Neil deGrasse Tyson happy. 

I threw our hat into the ring on the post, letting the gifter know we are space nuts and do outreach on occasion at local schools. Happily, we 'won' the set.  Annabelle drew a cute thank you card, which we left on the person's porch. Nice!
POP SOME TAGS: We visited the big Goodwill store on Dearborn in south Seattle today. There, treasures we found included a cool science book and a fun Star Wars-themed Mad Libs. Not bad for three bucks!

KIRBY'S TURN:  This morning we continued our coursework for our "Dog Emotion and Cognition" class through Yale University via Coursera. 

Like we did with Laika yesterday, today the kids put Kirby through the paces in a Dognition.com test.

In the eye contact game, you hold a treat (the kids used a morsel of Velveeta) next to your eye, and see how long your dog will maintain 'eye conact.' While Laika broke off after about 30 seconds yesterday, Kirby maintained for the entire 90 second test each time. 

Apparently this shows she's entirely bonded to the kids. 
I'm sorry, but I can't help but think it's because she's entirely bonded to Velveeta. 

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: This morning I received an email from a Web designer letting me know some of the photos I've parked/donated to Morgefile.com were going to be used on a pediatric medical practice's Web site. 
Two photos of much younger CJ and Annabelle are in the bottom lefthand corner of the front page of the Web site. 

From the 'it's a small world' file, the practice is just across Puget Sound, on Whidbey Island. How 'bout that?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sun Celebration

CALM BEFORE THE STORM: Today, our first sunflower bloomed. It may be our last of the season, as well. While it's currently 80-plus, blue skies and nary a breeze, by Saturday afternoon, it's supposed to be heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 40 MPH - kinda tough on sunflowers. But we're happy for the rain, in hopes it will help extinguish the devastating wildfires.

Knowing the rains are coming, we made sure not to miss our sunshiny walk this morning, and decided to go to the Ballard Locks, because I'd read their salmon fish count was way up as of late. 

Sure enough, as we walked along the south shore of the estuary, we could see scores of enormous salmon just under the top surface of the water.It's hard to see with the naked eye in this photo, so I put some orange arrows in, each pointing to a big ol' fish. There were more fish than I've 'arrowed,' to be sure.
No surprise, there was also a big, fat seal on site, having a breakfast buffet.

While I stayed up top with the tourists, the kids went down below to the fish ladder viewing windows. Annabelle captured this action shot.
We wandered over to the north side of the locks, and through the flower gardens, which are in full bloom.
Of course we also watched a few boats motoring through the locks, including this huge vessel, Akutan.
We did the Google when we got home,and learned Akutan is a small town in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Its population is just over 1,000.

According to the Web Site Maritime-Connector.com, the ship's gross tonnage is 749, and it was built in 1944. It sure was pumping out some stinky blue smoke today, I can tell you that.

We also watched a really long train cross the railroad bridge before we headed back home.

DOGSPERIMENTS:  We took our first test for our "Dog Emotion and Cognition" class this morning, and afterward, conducted our first experiement using the Dognition Web site. Our test subject this morning was Laika, a three year old Havanese.

We played two test games with her. The first was the "Yawn Game." One person was supposed to yawn every 5 seconds for 30 seconds total, while the other gave the yawner time cues. 

According to the Dognition site, "Yawning in dogs can be an indicator of stress, but we were measuring something different - social yawning." Dogs are purportedly capable of contagion yawning.  

videoCJ was going to be the yawner, but it turns out he is absolutely TERRIBLE about yawning on command. He tried to spontaneously-yet-on-command yawn and made a horrible noise, like a yeti stepping on a LEGO, and made a crazy head gesture.

"You look like a breached whale," Annabelle assessed.

We decided Annabelle would be the yawner.

It might have been a moot point, however, because Test Subject did not yawn in response to Annabelle's yawning. 


The Dognition Web site tried to reassure us, however, noting ... "this is not surprising. Although dogs are one of the few species besides humans that contagiously yawn, there is variation among dogs. Data from several research groups shows differing results, but our preliminary data shows that only 20% of dogs yawn contagiously."

OK, so Laika's in the 80 percent. Go Laika.  

Next up was the "Eye Contact Game." Per the Dognition Web site, "Before babies can hug or speak, they use eye gaze to bond with their mothers. Research with dogs has shown that a similar phenomenon may happen with owners and dogs"

Hmm. OK, interesting. But it gets better. ... "Owners whose dogs stared at them for longer had significant increases in the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin, also known as the "hug hormone," is related to feelings of bonding, pleasure and affection."

At first I read oxytocin as oxycontin. Apparently it's not the same thing. ;)


So, we did the eye contact test, which involved holding a doggie treat next to your eye and seeing how long your dog would stare at you. Yes, really.

I just want to go on the record as saying if someone held a t-bone steak next to their eye, I would stare at it longer than someone who was *not* holding a steak next to their eye. But I digress.

Anyway, the results are in and they say, "Judging by the extraordinary length of time Laika spent gazing soulfully into your eyes, you probably often find her staring at you for no reason. You might wonder if Laika is trying to tell you something, like she is hungry, needs to go to the bathroom or has an opinion on what to do over the weekend. But Laika may not want or need anything - she may be just hugging you with her eyes."

Based on the combined results of the two tests, what are we told? 
"Laika's empathy scores were off the charts. Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. Humans are extremely empathetic; it is one of our best qualities. Empathy is not something we are taught; it is present even in young children, growing and strengthening as we get older.
Researchers have recently suggested that other animals also have empathy, or at least a basic form of empathy. If this is true, dogs are an ideal place to look.
Humans and dogs go back thousands of years - enough time for the bond between us to develop into something special.
This is even more special because initial results suggest that small dogs like Laika tend to be more individualistic than large dogs. By being more on the bonded end of the scale, Laika certainly stands out from the small dog crowd. If most dogs are bonded to their owners, Laika absolutely adores you."
CJ contemplated the results and asked, straight-faced, "Do they mean she's empathetic, or pathetic?"

STAR ROCKS: One science lesson for the day came via a wonderful story on Forbes.com about the geology of Star Trek. They had me at Star Trek, but it's a well-written article, with lots of interesting examples of how crystals, minerals and other geological aspects are essential plot devices in the Star Trek world. In fact, one of the "Trek in the Park" performances we went to see was "Devil in the Dark," about the Enterprise crew visiting a mining colony and finding out that the 'rocks' were, in fact, sentient beings.
GOING UP: What’s the connection between a warming world and rising seas? NASA lets us know in this great Earth Minute video: https://youtu.be/msnOHuPep9I.


"It gets across the message quickly and easily," said CJ.

"I think the illustrations are a great way to show younger kids what he means if they don't have a full vocabulary developed yet," observed Annabelle.

BIG ONE: Today marks the anniversary of the really big and bad eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.

The volcano rumbled to life on May 20, 1883, venting after a 200 year slumber. Over the next three months, there were regular small blasts, and on August 11, ash started spewing, growing progressively stronger until Aug. 26, when the epic disaster began. 

At around 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 27, began a series of four powerful eruptions, the last of which made the loudest-then-recorded on the planet. Krakatoa is in the Dutch East Indies, and the eruption was heard as far away as central Australia.

Of the 36,000 or so souls who were lost, 31,000 of them were actually killed in subsequent tsunamis rather than the devastating eruption.