It started off like most every other day this week, 50 shades of gray, thick quilt of clouds overhead and no promise of the sun. But mercifully today, by noonish, we could see patches of blue, and by the time we got home after the kids' a.m. classes in West Seattle, it was a full on sunfest in our 'hood - and it wasn't freezing out, double bonus.
We needed to take advantage, so we leashed up the dogs and headed up to the park.
There, Annabelle became fast friends with a little boy about half her age. They played rocket ship and other games involving travel and sound effects.
CJ was working on some new personal bests for himself - specifically jumping off the big (pseudo) boulder with no spotter.
It took him a couple of coaxing trial runs, but he managed his solo jump eventually - and immediately wanted to know what the world record is for jumping off something with no parachute. Apparently, he's already thinking about his next jump ...
In the park, we were happy to spy this year's first daisies.
Could spring be far behind? (Wait, don't answer that! ...)
X MARKS THE SPOT: On our way home from the park, the kids and I noticed something in the sidewalk we've never spotted before - a gold-toned medallion with the words U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey Reference Mark on it.
So obviously, it was some sort of survey mark. The smaller print on it instructed us to "WRITE TO THE DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON, D.C. FOR INFORMATION."
Um, no thanks. We'll use the Internet. And so, we found the National Geodetic Survey's home page: http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/
There, we learned the Mission of NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) is "to define, maintain and provide access to the National Spatial Reference System to meet our nation's economic, social, and environmental needs."
We also learned that the NGS "provides the framework for all positioning activities in the Nation." That's a pretty big job, no?
Christian poked around on the NGS Web site and he learned that what we found today is Reference Mark 1, and it's referencing the marker SY4744 in a parking strip east of Bayview Park. which was "monumented" in 1934 by the Washington Geodetic Survey.
NGS data is used to make decisions about everything from mapping and charting, to navigation, flood risk determination, transportation, land use and ecosystem management. No wonder there's a $250 fine or risk of imprisonment for removing the marker!
CAST OFFS: After an hour in the park, the kids still hadn't had enough of the great outdoors, so they rode their scooters in the ally for a few minutes.
At one point, Annabelle came charging in the house to report a scientific discovery of great import. "I think it's an opened insect pupa skin," she proclaimed.
We checked it out and I'm sure she was right.
That, or it was an old Smarties wrapper ... ;)
Curiosity continues to break ground on the Red Planet. The latest "first:" the first nighttime image sent back from Mars.
Below is a Martian rock illuminated by ultraviolet LEDs. Taken on Jan. 22 by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera, at the end of a robotic arm.
The rock, named Sayunei, is in the Yellowknife Bay area of Gale Crater