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[MARCH 2011.]

J. adds:

Some of you may be wondering why I am taking what seems to be (and is) an introductory physics class. Well, the process of becoming a parent in northern California is very involved: in addition to the usual prenatal courses in immunology, breastfeeding, sociological methods, Lamaze and media literacy, you can opt to get an upper middle-class parent certificate (UMCP) which is considerably more labor-intensive but, we are told, pays for itself pretty fast, especially in Palo Alto. (There is also a standard parent certificate, but it's basically just as much work. Actually, I'll be frank: it's a lot more work.) In addition to what we think of as the standard premed curriculum (bio, physics, chem, ochem, math, biochem), you take a range of electives from Principles of Engineering to Southeast Asian Political Economy to... boy, I don't know, there are about 50. You also need proficiency in three non-native modern languages and one ancient language, but they tell me the Latin test is a cakewalk and one year it had, like, an amazing number of typos. To get the certificate with distinction, you can also write a thesis, but that's really only a viable option for couples who haven't conceived yet and/or are able to work with their agency on the adoption timetable. There's a strong recommendation to take an intro CS class, but I was able to farm that one out to Paul. So why is Paul not doing all this work, you ask? Well, they waive all the coursework requirements if you have a PhD in hand! I think that rule was set up back when PhDs were harder to obtain, but it's still on the books, so good for him. Finally, no later than two weeks before delivery (they check the dates retroactively; it's really annoying) you have to submit your final application to the board along with letters of recommendation from three established scholars and your OB. There's a field distribution requirement for the letter-writers, and I'm a little anxious because I haven't been able to get one from a social scientist. If anyone knows a nice psychologist or sociologist who isn't too busy these days and would be willing to go to bat for an enthusiastic amateur, please let us know.

The certification process for the baby is another kettle of fish. But I can't think about that just yet.

It's never too early to start applying for waivers to get on the waiting list for the waiting lists for preschools!


The age of reason

From j.f. <_@gmail.com>
to P.K. <_@gmail.com>
date Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 5:22 PM
subject "bird defense"
8.28. To protect their young in the nest, peregrine falcons will fly into birds of prey (such as ravens) at high speed. In one such episode, a 600 gram falcon flying at 20.0 m/s ran into a 1.5 kg raven flying at 9.0 m/s. The falcon hit the raven at right angles to its original path and bounced back with a speed of 5.0 m/s. (These figures were estimated by one of the authors (WRA) as he watched this attack occur in northern New Mexico.) By what angle did the falcon change the raven's direction of motion?

from P.K. <_@gmail.com>
to j.f. <_@gmail.com>
date Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 5:32 PM
subject Re: "bird defense"
Wow, your physics homework is playing pool with birds?
I really did go and eat a bunch of French toast for lunch. It has helped.

—They’re having us figure out the center of gravity for objects that are bent in various ways. It’s ridiculous.
—The center of the donut is the hole.
—Yes. The book said that.


—So if there’s an axis of symmetry, you know the center of gravity will lie somewhere along it. The other coordinate is kind of a guess.


—At least crows are symmetrical.
—Ha! Thank you! I cannot think of a situation in which that knowledge would not be helpful!
—When you see half a crow, you can use your reason to infer the other half.
—By definition!
—When you see one eye, you know the crow has two eyes. When you see one tail, you know the crow has two tails.

was that a suicide attack?

i hope your fledgling understands you...this old bird does get the part about the french toast ;-)


Block That Metaphor From All Over


Friday, 6/10/11, Iowa Memorial Union
8:30 am: Breakfast and Registration, Main Lounge
9:00 am: What We Learned from Frank Conroy. (Charles D’Ambrosio, Curtis Sittenfeld, Abraham Verghese.)
9:30 am: What Makes Literature Immortal? (Deborah Eisenberg, James Galvin, Allen Gurganus.)
10:15 am: The Writer as Outsider. (Paul Harding, Edward Hirsch, Francine Prose.)

The Miss as Good as a Mile

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