Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What the frak?

What the frak? That pretty sums up how I felt about the end of the Battlestar Galactica series. At least at the end of the show. I've had a couple of days to think over the finale and decided that it makes some sense and takes a bold stab at certain perceptions here on Earth. So this is my review of the finale.

First the main character resolution was well done. It was real life in that people who deserved to die lived and people who deserved to live died. That said the one that blew me away was Kara Thrace (Starbuck). For the last few episodes she had been trying to figure out what/who she was. I have to admit I didn't catch the reference to Kara in Baltar's monologue about Angels. It didn't click until She up and disappeared when talking to Lee Adama. Then it clicked. She was the only "Angel" that was able to be seen and touched by everyone involved. The other two "Angels" (Baltar and Caprica 6 only seen by the real Baltar and Caprica 6) did not have that "privilege".

Now for the part that left my head scratching until I thought about it. At the end of the show it flash forwards to our time on the planet where the human and Cylon alliance members land and start without technology. This was a bold maneuver because it gave a theory of human advancement that I have not heard. It is basically this:

  1. Humans were created on Earth by a being who doesn't like to be called God
  2. In order to help their evolution "God" led the Humans and Cylons to this Earth in order to "breed" with them
  3. Humans are therefore a mix of evolution and "alien" DNA

Now whether or not this is correct is up to the Ronald Moore and David Eick, but this is my understanding.

There was one more theme that was put into this season that is a message to all of us. "This has all happened before and will all happen again." Basically stating that if we aren't careful we will destroy ourselves. The cycle has happened before (even in our own history, Rome, Mayans, etc). The point of the Human and Cylon alliance was to give a chance to the humans on Earth the opportunity to break the cycle.

Lastly it was interesting to see the take on God. That there is someone in charge of things, yet he only does enough to show that he is there and watching. That sometimes he guides man's destiny in order to ensure that mankind survives.

All in all I thought it was a good ending to a great show and that it will be one people look to as a benchmark in Sci-fi TV.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Value of Hard Work

Saturday I had to get some yard work done. I was mowing the yard when my 8 year came up and asked if he could do it. I had two choices: 1. Tell him it was too dangerous and have him go play or 2. Take the time to teach him and show confidence in his abilities to learn new things. I went with option number two.

The first thing we did was empty the current bag so that he had an empty bag to start with. I then showed him how to start the mower (it's a push mower). Now starting a mower with a pull rope is not easy, especially when you also have to hold down a bar. He tried a couple of times with no luck. I asked him if he wanted me to help him. He said no and so I let him continue. He was able to start the mower in two more pulls.

I then showed him how to engage the drive with another bar to make the mower move easier. I then showed him the line I was cutting to and had him begin. Now being 8 and not having any experience he didn't exactly follow the line. No big deal! When he got to the end of the line I showed him how to turn the mower and continue on. He ended up finishing the rest of the yard with a few missed spots. Once done I asked him to show me what he missed and we went back over those areas to finish up.

I have to admit that a part of me didn't want to take this time to show him as I knew it would take longer. But the other part of me remembered that it is important for children to learn how to work and that there is tremendous value in being able to perform some tasks.

I remember growing up in Western New York on 8 1/2 acres. I remember my Dad showing me how to work our lawn mower and being responsible for the lawn from an early age. I learned other things as well from my Dad including how to split and stack wood, how to start the fire in the furnace and keep it going, and myriad other "chores". This instilled in me the need to be able to perform tasks that would benefit me later in life when I had my own family.

Now I get the chance to do what my Dad did. Teach my children the value of hard work and the value in learning various tasks. I told my son that when we go to visit my Dad this fall that we might be able to split wood and stack it together. It would give me the opportunity to teach him as I was taught.

I truly think that in today's environment there are a lot of people who don't get to learn some of the tasks that teach the value of hard work. Too often the tasks that are asked of children are too easy and then they are allowed to go and watch TV or play video games. I look forward to helping my children understand the value of hard work and hope they would take the time to teach their children as well.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Three Ring Circus

So Levi has been learning about migrations and as part of that he has learned about the migration west in the USA. He learned the Schoolhouse Rock song "Elbow Room". As a reward for learning this and performing it at school we bought the two DVD set of Schoolhouse Rock. It was something I'd been wanting to get as I was addicted to Schoolhouse Rock every Saturday morning. There is one song about the government that seems to ring loudly today. It's called Three Ring Government. Here are the lyrics:

Gonna have a three-ring circus someday,
People will say it's a fine one, son.
Gonna have a three-ring circus someday,
People will come from miles around.
Lions, tigers, acrobats, and jugglers and clowns galore,
Tightrope walkers, pony riders, elephants, and so much more...

Guess I got the idea right here at school.
Felt like a fool when they called my name,
Talkin' about the government and how it's arranged,
Divided in three like a circus.
Ring one, Executive,
Two is Legislative, that's Congress.
Ring three, Judiciary.
See it's kind of like my circus, circus.

Step right up and visit ring number one.
The show's just begun. Meet the President.
I am here to see that the laws get done.
The ringmaster of the government.

On with the show!

Hurry, hurry, hurry to ring number two.
See what they do in the Congress.
Passin' laws and juggling bills,
Oh, it's quite a thrill in the Congress.
Focus your attention on ring number three.
The Judiciary's in the spotlight.
The courts take the law and they tame the crimes
Balancing the wrongs with your rights.

No one part can be
more powerful than any other is.
Each controls the other you see,
and that's what we call checks and balances.

Well, everybody's act is part of the show.
And no one's job is more important.
The audience is kinda like the country you know,
Keeping an eye on their performance.

Ring one, Executive,
Two is Legislative, that's Congress.
Ring three, Judiciary.
See it's kind of like my circus, circus.

Gonna have a three-ring circus someday.
People will say it's a fine one son,
But until I get it, I'll do my thing
With government. It's got three rings.

Watching what's going on in Washington today seems like a three-ring circus to me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Racing Day

Levi participated in his first Pinewood Derby this past Saturday. For those who don't know this is an activity participated in by Cub Scouts. Now the rules state that the Cub Scout is to do as much of the work as possible. So this provided a great opportunity for Levi to learn a couple of things. The first was to design the car.

As you can see he went for a modern looking police car. He drew the design himself and so the next step was to carve the design out of the block of wood. I drew the design on the car and using a handsaw carved out the design. Now you are asking yourself how is it that Levi didn't carve out the car? Well I figured an 8 year old carving a desing with a handsaw was a bad idea. So instead I taught him how to cut wood with a saw without ruining his car. He thought it was cool to be able to cut wood with a saw.

The next step was to sand the car smooth so it could be painted. Levi did 95% of the sanding on the car. I did the remaining 5%. He learned that by smoothing the car it would run better on the track and be more aerodynamic.

Levi wanted to paint the car himself and do the painting design himself. This he did. Now was it a perfect paint job? No, but it was a good job for the first time an 8 year old was painting. After the first coat had dried, Levi went to sanding off again to get the drips and rough spots. A second coat was added and the car was ready to go.

The big day came and we went to the racing site where the car had to be checked in and weighed. The car could weigh up to 5 ounces. When we got there the car weighed about 3 ounces. So we added weights to get the car up to 4.9 ounces. As you can see it wasn't and elegant job so next time we will work on the weights better.

The above picture shows the start of Levi's first race with his car. He had four races total coming in 2nd, 4th, 4th, and 1st. He was very happy with his performance. Levi got the award for "Excellent Performance" as part of the activity.

Overall his first Pinewood Derby was a huge success. I can't wait to see what he thinks up for next year's car and how much more he will do to work on it. I left the activity feeling very proud of Levi as well as knowing that he learned several life lessons that will serve him well.