Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Thankful Me

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family.

The boys

Raising kids can be tasking but also immensely enriching

Justin's passion for music and art expands our entertainment from going to concerts, to going to ballets and most recently going to musicals - West Side Story. I think we will try opera in the new year. Nick's interest in math leads us to take him to metroplex math circle frequently, which helps to expose him to more interesting math problems. It also rekindles my love of math - evident by the posts on math in this blog.

As Lily tries various ways to expose them to science, nature, and history, I learn a lot along the way! from butterflies to ice age, from Neutrinos to Einstein's relativity. I grow with them, I learn with them.

Most of all, the boys are healthy and strong.

I am thankful.

The biggest conflict between she and I, is, in fact about the education and discipline of the boys. In the end she makes decision based on what is the best for them.

We have been exercising together regularly on the mornings of weekends since last year - be it sunny or foggy (like this Thanksgiving morning), warm or cold (like this morning); we started playing tennis regularly this summer. These are all marvelous couple times.

While picking books, videos for kids, she also picks books for me to read, movies for us to watch. Our frequent movie night at home this year also helps both of us to relax.

I am thankful.

I am pleased that over the years we have developed many common interests: going camping is always an excitement in our home; kayaking is almost a must to everyone when we enjoy outdoors; annual family ski trip is expected and enjoyed by all.

Be together, sharing one life - that is my ideal of a family life, and that is how we live.

I am thankful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Autumn

After the record hot summer at North Texas, the autumn feels really good - the crisp air, the cool temperature, the change of colors and occasional rains.

In this autumn, colors are as splendid as ever, but not as wide spread as previous years; the moon in the week of Veteran's day was especially clear, even in the early evening. It is hard to take good picture of the moon at night. Shown below was a setting Moon on Sunday.

I can still hear birds chirping, but I did not as see as many American Robins or Cardinals as before. Is it the consequence of the extreme heat and lasting drought?

I did see many more pairs of ducks in the pond at Russel Creek Park, though. There are 3 pairs of ducks in this picture, can you see them all?

Of course, what most special this autumn is that Cheetahs - our soccer team - reached championship game for the first time last Saturday.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Family Adventures" Blogging Milestones

Last week "Family Adventures" the blog passed a milestone in readership - 10,000 pageviews.


In addition to my circle of friends, readers around the world find out our blog by chance. I could tell by the blogger stats, some of this type of readers returned again and again - and become regular readers of our blog. Here is the list top 10 regions for the past two years

United States
United Kingdom

France, Philippines and Indonesia were in the top 10 for October. Greece and Georgia are in top 10 for this week. I saw casual readers from countries or regions I have not heard of before

Popular Posts

Interestingly the most popular post in our blog is not about travel, and it is not written by me. It is Nick's journal on "Golden Snob Nosed Monkeys" despite the fact it was posted only this March.

The second most popular post is not about travel either, it is about math - "Interesting facts about triangle". Another math related post "Fermat's last theorem - a primer" is in top 10.
Our household hardware related posts - "Tankless Water Heater" and "Hitch and Bike Rack" are very popular as well.

Here is the 10 most popular posts of our blog.

1. Golden Snub Nosed Monkeys
2. Interesting Facts about Triangles
3. Big Bend; River Rafting in Rio Grande at Santa Elena Canyon
4. Sagrada Familia
5. Yellow Stone; Water and Mountains
6. Tankless Water Heater
7. Fermat's Last Theorem; A Primer
8. A Trip to China - random observations
9. A trip to China - atypical snap shots
10. Hitch and Bike Rack

Another milestone of the blog is that Lily started blogging occasionally this summer - two book reviews, and one about gardening - hooray!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to draw a circle - by Nick

Note: last week, the topic at math circle was "geometry construction using ruler and compass". It took some practices for Nick to get used to using compass when he got home from the presentation. The next day he wrote this journal (edited version is posted).

Drawing a circle by hand is usually very hard. Sometimes the drawn circles look like blobs or ovals, but almost never good enough that you are satisfied with. That is why the compass was created. I am not talking about a compass like a device used to determine geographic direction, usually consisting of a magnetic needle or needles horizontally mounted or suspended and free to pivot until aligned with the earth's magnetic field that points north. I am talking about a V-shaped device for drawing circles or circular arcs and for taking measurements, consisting of a pair of rigid, end-hinged legs, one of which is equipped with a pen, pencil, or other writing utensil and the other with a sharp point providing a pivot about which the drawing leg is turned. It is sometimes also called pair of compasses.

To start, you should make the anchor pin come out of the frame the same length as the writing utensil. When draw a circle with a compass you must hold the compass by the top and apply some pressure on the sharp anchor point and twist the top handle of the compass using your thumb, index finger and middle finger, and then gently tilt the compass to turn, you will draw a very neat circle in a second.

Don’t apply too much pressure on the side with the writing utensil or the writing tips may break. When using compass, use one hand to twist the top handle of the compass, no need to twist your body or hand; use the other hand to keep the surface you are drawing on flat and fixed. Make sure not to hold the compass legs to draw otherwise you will change the radius of a circle and make it turn out weird.

Using this instrument you can draw light circles and then go over them in a darker shade. You can easily change the radius of the circles you draw from very small (when the two legs meet) to very large when you push them apart the farthest you can (but make sure you don’t break it). After some practice I can use a compass to draw perfect circles.

In math, you can use straight edge (ruler) and compass only to construct various geometries. Using the compass and ruler you can figure out exactly the midpoint of two points on your own, the tangent to a circle, and etc. A compass is a very useful tool for geometry although some people may not like it and use a computer program to generate circles and geometry, but where’s the fun in that? I really like using a compass and ruler to draw circles and lines and design patterns and I hope you will like it as well. Drawing a circle and making patterns is really fun. If you like math, you can go figure it out on your own or go to GeoGebra and download it on your computer and play around.