Sled Physics

The following public service message is directed to nine-year olds in any area where snow, sleds and hills can be found in close proximity to one another.
Sled-riding is a popular winter-time activity, it’s therefore important to understand a few basic rules:

  1. If there is a patch of bare grass on the slope, you should launch your sled from a location where you won’t travel across the grass.
  2. If you do aim your sled so it crosses the grass, the odds are quite good that the sled will suddenly stop moving.
  3. Even though your sled may suddenly stop moving, it’s quite likely that you will continue moving. If you’re wearing a vinyl snow suit, you probably won’t stop moving until you reach the bottom of the slope.

They don’t generally demonstrate it quite that way in school, but this “momentum” stuff will eventually be discussed in science class.

Christmas Cards

Once you start sending out Christmas letters, you feel obligated to send one every year. I didn’t realize that when I sent out my first letter back in 1997, but I’m not sure I can stop now.
When I was preparing my 2002 letter, I had an encounter with writer’s block and struggled to put it together in time. Finally, on December 23, I realized the letters just weren’t going to go out on time. So I decided to send them on April Fools Day. It was a good plan, but the way it worked out was that my letters went out in mid-August. It wasn’t until 2006 that I managed to have my Christmas cards (the 2005 edition) arrive on April 1.
Of course, by then, people were expecting my Christmas cards to arrive off-season, so there was only one thing to do: My 2006 Christmas cards arrived just in time for Christmas.
Changing the dates around gets kind of predictable after a while. Folks know the cards going to be off-season, they just don’t know exactly when. So this year I decided to send them out at Christmas for the second year in a row.
But have you ever thought about the fact that the term “Christmas Card” is ambiguous? (Likewise for “Holiday Card.”) Aside from Hallmark, who says it has to be a greeting card?
Christmas and Holiday cards

Where's Abe?

A couple days ago I noticed that I had a $5 bill with stamped around the Federal reserve seal. If you’ve never seen the site before, the general ideais that you can participate in tracking the migratory habits of money. I’ve run across similarly marked currency a time or two and was honestly a little surprised to learn the site was still around.
I went ahead and entered my bill’s information and learned that so far I’m only the second person to log its travels. So far, it’s still in my possession, it could be mildly amusing to see where Abe winds up next.
More bills to watch:

Holiday Decorations

We had a door decorating contest as part of our office holiday festivities. Among the others, there was a category for “Best Use of Office Supplies.” One team reportedly cleaned out the office’s entire supply of green and red paper and others were equally lavish.
At the last minute on the morning of the voting, MC and I entered the contest with an impromptu decoration made with nothing but office supplies.

Best use of Office Supplies
The fellow responsible for facilities management declared it to be either the “Best Use of Office Supplies” or at the very least, “Least Abuse of Office Supplies” and brought a string of people by to see it.
In the end, we got four votes. Not enough to win, but that wasn’t the point. Everyone got a good chuckle from it.


It was rainy this morning, but sure enough, the first squirrel has found the bird feeders.
The first squirrel of winter.
Spotting the first robin of the spring is supposedly a big deal, if nothing else, I guess that somehow means it’s officially spring. I wonder if there’s any significance to “the first squirrel of winter”?


The bird have found the feeders. So far it looks like it’s all finches, but in the past I’ve also seen cardinals and blue jays. In the original squirrel photo, the tube shaped feeder on the left is filled with generic bird seed which appears to be mainly small seeds. The larger, hour-glass shaped feeder on right is filled with sun-flower seeds and that seems to be the one that the birds are most interested in. (The size of the openings in the mesh make it impractical to fill it with most other kinds of seed.)
Birds on the feeder
As of this morning, the squirrels haven’t found the feeder yet, but one came exploring while I was watching. My guess is that it was drawn to my yard by the sound of the birds.
An exploratory squirrel
For all I know, the squirrels actually discovered the feeders while I was at work. But it was dark by the time I got home, so it’s hard to say. My guess is that I’ll see squirrels on the feeder tomorrow.


Looking out the window this morning, I saw a squirrel running through the tree and across the yard. It may have found the seed that spilled when I was getting the feeder set up, but so far the actual feeder doesn’t seem to have been discovered yet.
So far, the birds haven’t found the feeder either.