Friday, March 27, 2015

Life's little annoyances

Why must getting a simple little prescription refilled require that I get impatient and cross with the doctor's office whose duty it is to get it done?

I needed a refill on eye drops.  The local pharmacy called the doctor's office to arrange this.  A day went by and nothing was done.  I then called the office to follow up.  No one knew what I was talking about. 

I can understand this happening once.  Sometimes these things fall through the cracks. Fine. Fix it and move on.  But in this particular case this is at least the third time it has happened.

As is often the case, the doctor's medical skills are fine.  It's the office that is consistently unreliable and it's not just this particular doctor.  I've found it to be the case in a variety of situations.   Very frustrating. 

Thus endth my rant for the day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Top o' the mornin' to you.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair

On March 4th I posted a blog the purpose of which was partly to lament the pathetic level of scientific knowledge in the halls of congress not to mention society in general.

I went on to recommend science education be stepped up in our schools.

This morning I saw in the local paper a report about the Connecticut science and engineering fair.  The names of local participants by school and town were listed.  Imagine my disappointment to see not a single student from a Newtown Public school participated.  The public schools from area towns were also under represented if at all.  Students from parochial schools however were well represented-including St. Rose in Newtown. 

I'm glad someone somewhere is taking the issue seriously.  Too bad it isn't our public schools. 

Oh, and don't blame the Core Curriculum.  That's not the problem. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Book Recommendations

Do you know or have a child who loves science?  If so, here are two books they might like.  One of them is my grandson's. The other is mine.  They're both very interesting.

The first is "Ask A Science Teacher" by Larry Scheckel.  It consists of 250 common questions & answers that many curious kids have.   For example the first question is How Many Cells Are in Your Body?  The questions then range over the entire spectrum of science with the last question being Why Do People Say 'our fate is in the stars'?

This book can certainly be enjoyed by adults too.

The second book is a little different in that the questions are submitted by viewers of the author's website.  The viewers pose questions of hypothetical situations that would probably never happen.  The name of this book is "What If?" by Randall Munroe.

Here are some examples of questions:
What would happen if the earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning but the atmosphere retained its velocity?

What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?

How fast can you hit a speed bump and live?

How high can a human throw something?

You see what I mean about these questions?  Kind of absurd but it's the answer to each that contains the interesting science so therein lies its value.

Both books are great fun (if you're a science geek). Give them a try.  They're both on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Contradiction, Denial, Ignorance

The other day I saw a post on Facebook that showed a U.S. senator giving a speech to his fellow senators.  He was holding a snowball in his hand and the topic of the speech was a general denial of global warming since there he was, holding something that resulted from cold weather.

At just about the same time I received two magazines-National Geographic and the monthly Audubon issue.  The lead article in the National Geographic was "The War on Science".  The Audubon lead article was "Climate Change Hits Home".

First, let's note a slight shift on how scientists are talking about the issue these days.  The use of the term 'Global Warming' is no longer in vogue.  Rather, the preferred term is now 'Climate Change'.

Why the switch?  Because the public in general and politicians in particular misunderstand and therefore use for the wrong purposes the term global warming.

The fact is the globe is warming.  There's no question about it.  So why the especially cold winter in the northeast?  Simply because the warming trend has caused the jet stream to change direction thereby ushering in cold air from Siberia to the northeast U.S.

The National Geographic was especially interesting because the focus included other misunderstandings, i.e. evolution, the moon landing (yes, some still think it was faked), vaccinations and genetically modified food.  Conservative politicians in particular have ranged from doubtful to downright hostile.  Whatever the case, their pronouncements are shrouded in complete ignorance.  Especially troubling are those conservative republicans who serve on the House Science and Technology Committee.  Shouldn't they be better informed than their colleagues or even the public?  One would think so. 

So what's the solution?  Education-pure and simple-starting in kindergarten where I'm headed this afternoon to do my part and then continuing throughout a student's public school career-every day, every year.

Am I hopeful?  What do you think?  With all this emphasis on Common Core these days, not a whole lot of attention is being paid to science.

Sad.  Very sad...but what's worse, it's dangerous.