Friday, April 30, 2010

Family History and homeschooling

My sister is quite into genealogical research. I tagged along with her at a recent presentation on Family History expecting to be mildly bored. It ending up being one of the most amazing events I've ever attended. The music brought me to tears. The keynote speaker, author David McCullough who wrote the biography of John Adams, was fabulous.

Because of security issues, we were not allowed to bring bags into the conference center. The whole time I was thinking, "I wish I had a notebook to write this down, I hope they are taping this, I want my kids to see this."

Here's some quotes by David McCullough in the local newspaper.

"I've never known much about the subjects I've written about when I started. Each book was a journey, a hunt, a detective story. That has been the joy of it, the compulsion of it," he said, noting that everyone can share in that joy.

"Curiosity is a wonderful thing. It is accelerative. The more you know, the more you want to know. It's what separates us from the cabbages."

McCullough talked of phrases that should be excised from our vocabulary, such as "self-made man" — "we are all shaped by other people," he said; "foreseeable future" — "there's no such thing. People back then had no more idea how things would turn out than we do." And, "living in the past" — no one lived in the past; they lived in their present and to understand them we have to understand their times."

And, he added, "we should never say 'gone, but not forgotten.' If they are not forgotten, they are not gone. They created the society, the values, the experiences we all live by. We must not lose sight of them."

McCullough talked of visiting Normandy with a Jewish couple, who placed pebbles on the grave of a Jewish soldier. "They said it was their way of staying in touch. That's what we all should be doing. History — whether you call it history or local history or family history — transcends time, transcends nationality, transcends geography. It reminds us that we are all part of the human family. We must stay in touch."

McCullough spoke at length about the "inadequate job of educating our children and grandchildren on the history of this country." He added that, "students are not being prepared for college, let alone for citizenship."

This presentation has got me thinking about how we study history in our homeschool. We are doing a lot of things right, like personally visiting historical places. But, there is more we could do to make it personal for our children.

For example, Henry was born in Alaska in 1961. I'm thinking about doing a unit study on Alaska history and then on what it was like in the years 1961-1964 (the years Henry lived in Alaska.)

Henry's parents and grandparents homesteaded in Alaska and our family could focus on that time frame too.

We could work our way down the family tree, state by state and year by year, country by country. We could put a name and even sometimes a face with our studies. [My mother's family has quite an extensive collection of family portraits going back to the 1850's.]

I'm excited to get home and get to work.


Here's a link to the opening segment of the event I attened.

Tags : homeschool , home education , public school , family history , parenting , education , David McCullough

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What next?

I just had to roll my eyes and groan when I saw this headline.

It’s a sad day for Happy Meals in Santa Clara County

Happy Meal toys and other promotions that come with high-calorie children's meals will soon be banned in parts of Santa Clara County unless the restaurants meet nutritional guidelines approved Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors.

"This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's' love of toys" to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. "This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes."

This is another example of how parents are being marginalized. Big Brother will take care of everything, so parents don't have to be bothered to say "no" to a whiny kid.

I sent an email off to Ken Yeager*, who by the way is single and childless, to let him know what an idiot I think he is. Actually, I was very good. I didn't use the word idiot even once.

(* I've included the link to his web page, in case you want to call or send an email).

Here's what I sent:

What next? Let's ban Twinkies in the grocery store?

That's sarcasm if you can't tell.

Your disdain for parents is evident.

I personally don't care for Happy Meals and don't buy them for my children. But, that is my choice to make, not yours. What my children eat is not your business nor the business of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

It is evident by this "Happy Meal" ordinance that you have no concept of good government policy or the role of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

This may be a insignificant little ordinance, but it sets a dangerous precedent.

Your opponent in the next election will be receiving a large donations from me.

Have a nice day.

Janine Cate
Mother of 4.

It's won't make any difference. "Vision of the Anointed" types are so sure that they know best, there is no reasoning with them.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Wrinkly Superhero Edition

Mama Squirrel is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Dewey's Treehouse. She starts with:

"When I recently expressed to an acquaintance that I was struggling with balancing everything, she asked me what had happened to my Wonder Woman costume. I promptly told her it was a wrinkled mess under my bed, along with everything else I can’t find."-- "Confessions of a Not-So-Super Homeschool Mom," posted at Hearthside Homeschool Reviews...and More!

For those of you struggling to even find your superhero costume, much less iron it or fit into it, this week's Carnival of Homeschooling is for you.

Hop on over and enjoy this week's carnival.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

The power of example

Baby Bop did the cutest thing yesterday.

He noticed that I had a small flag on a shelf near my desk. He asked to play with it and since I was working on the computer and hoped that he would leave me alone for a few minutes, I let him have it.

A few minutes later, I happened to glance up and saw him in the next room holding the flag in one hand with his other hand over his heart, pretending to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I use the word pretend, since Baby Bop has a profound speech delay and doesn't yet talk intelligibly.

Baby Bop was imitating the flag ceremony that takes place every week at our homeschool co-op group. Our co-op includes many boy scouts who have been trained in the proper handling and formal presentation of our country's flag.

This incident got me thinking about a conversation I had with Baby Bop's speech therapist that same morning. She urged me (very politely and earnestly) to consider sending Baby Bop to kindergarten instead of homeschooling because the interaction with 30 peers could help his speech delay.

I understand her point of view. Baby Bop's language skills improved more rapidly during the five weeks we cared for two foster children the same age as Baby Bop.

However, what she doesn't understand is how dependent Baby Bop is upon the example of those around him. He imitates literally everything he sees which is typical of young children, let alone those with his type of neurological challenges.

Our goal is to keep good examples around him while we train his developing brain to sift what he sees. That kind of brain development, even in "normal" children, generally doesn't emerge until the age of 8 or older.

All day kindergarten with 30 children in a classroom with one teacher and a teacher's aide will not provide the kind of examples we can provide with homeschooling.

The families with whom we associate train their children well and do not allow inappropriate behavior to continue unchecked. (No, the children are not perfect, but the parents are vigilant.) We have the benefit of mature older children modeling behavior for the younger children to follow. We have the benefit of a good parent/child ratio.

So, we plan to give kindergarten a pass.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The 149th edition of the Carnival of Space is up

It is great to see that the Carnival of Space is still going. (I started it about three years ago.)

The 149th edition of the Carnival of Space is up at Starry Critters.

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Another good reason to homeschool

Articles like this remind me why my children have never gone to public school.

The whole article and its links are worth looking at. The author's style makes it a little messy to excerpt with so many cross references. I tried to pull out some of the main points.

The Hijacking of Art Education

Parents and others who think that children are mainly learning about painting and drawing in today's art classrooms should consider this: a movement has for some time been afoot to hijack art education for purposes of often radical political indoctrination.....

"Art Education and Social Justice": The 2010 NAEA Convention

(National Art Education Association)

One of the chief sources cited in the 2010 NAEA program coordinator's notes is a White House Briefing on Art, Community, Social Justice, [and] National Recovery held in May 2009. According to a published report, the purpose of the briefing was, in part, to determine "how the remarkable mobilizing power of community arts can be used by the Obama administration as a tool and a pathway for national recovery" and "to identify existing efforts within the cultural and social justice movements that are in alignment with the national agenda . . . on such issues as green jobs, health care and economic justice."

...Greene Grants [Maxine Greene Foundation for Social Imagination, the Arts, and Education] of up to $10,000 are awarded to teachers who "go beyond the standardized and the ordinary"; artists "whose works embody fresh social visions"; and individuals "who radically challenge or alter the public's imagination about social policy issues." The 2008 grantees included the Education for Liberation Network--whose 2007 conference, entitled "Free Minds, Free People: A Conference on Education for Liberation," bore the following slogan on its program cover: "If education is not given to the people, they will have to take it."

The source of that quote is Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Latin American [communist] revolutionary.

Oh, but it gets better. William Ayers is on the board of directors for the Greene Foundation.

Quinn [Theresa Quinn] is the author of "Out of Cite [sic], Out of Mind: Social Justice and Art Education," one of the sources cited by the NAEA regarding its 2010 convention theme. (Quinn also co-authored another of those sources with Ayers, and will co-present the aforementioned Freedom School session with him.) Quinn's article could well be regarded as sounding the keynote for the conference. Tellingly, she spends most of her 20-page paper discussing the concept of social justice and almost none of it discussing art.

In Quinn's view, social justice encompasses both "recognition and redistribution" (a phrase borrowed from feminist theorist Nancy Fraser). The concept of redistribution, Quinn explains, refers to "the equitable allocation of resources"--a goal implying that government should intervene to ensure equality of results.

....A National Education Taskforce (NET) headed by Dennis Fehr--an associate professor of "visual studies" at Texas Tech University--has proposed inserting new language into the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), requiring both the study of "visual culture" and the "examination of social justice and ethical questions posed by artworks."

The good news is that with all the budget cuts in school, hopefully these types of art programs will get cut.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trying something new

Our homeschool is always evolving and changing. Lately, I've struggled to meet the needs of my youngest daughter (age 9) because Baby Bop (age 3) takes so much of my time. My older two are pretty self-sufficient.

If I do something with Baby Bop so he is not bothering my youngest daughter, she feels left out and doesn't work well alone. If Baby Bop is around distracting her, she doesn't work well either.

Henry is picking up the slack on a few things, but I'm still not happy with her structured school work. I should add that my youngest daughter does a lot of very good unstructured things on her own. I not an unschooler at heart, so it is too unstructured for me to feel comfortable (though a little unschooling is an important part of homeschooling.)

Normally, at Baby Bop's nap time, I read a few story books to him and then he gets in to his bed. I then read out loud from my book until he falls asleep. Sometimes it is the scriptures or a murder mystery, whatever I'm in the mood for.

This is my new strategy. After I read the story books, I invite my youngest daughter (age 9) to lay on the other bed in Baby Bop's room. I then read out loud from a history/science book called the Out Line of History. We discuss it quietly and I keep reading until Baby Bop falls asleep. My youngest daughter really enjoys it even if the book is a bit over her head. I also hope a little of the information will end up in Baby Bop's head too.

Today, I couldn't find the Out Line of History, so we read from Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling, not Disney). Baby Bop stayed awake for almost the whole story. I'm enjoying this time with my youngest daughter and figure it is a good way to get my little terrorist to sleep.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Cartoonist's Desk

This week's is up at Carnival of Homeschooling at Home Spun Juggling. She often posts fun comics of family life and homeschooling. She built the carnival around how she creates her comics. She starts with:

For this carnival, I thought I would let everyone take a peek over my shoulder as I draw my comic strips for this week. This is a long one, so grab your tea or coffee and make yourself comfortable!

Where do I get my ideas? Life! My comics start with the day to day adventures I experience. I often remember anecdotes that happened several years ago. Although some may not have been funny when they happened, I've learned to see the humor in these old crises. As Carol Burnett said, "Comedy is tragedy plus time."

To learn more about how she creates comics, hop over and check out the carnival.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Monday, April 19, 2010

More reasons to homeschool, from the archives

Long ago, before Janine and I started blogging, I used to browse around the internet looking for reasons to homeschool. Two months ago I've been working through some old email and came across some of the links I had saved, so I started posting some of the reasons to homeschool.

Here are some more from 2004:

Reason to homeschool: Because the politicians realize the public schools are bad. Here's an account where the politicians frankly discuss how they educate their children.

Reason to homeschool: Because private data may be made public. Closed schools left to vandals; books, equipment, and student records abandoned. Reread the last part: "student records abandoned!"

Reason to homeschool: Because students can graduate from high school and not know how to write. This account is from 2004, I'm sure it is worse now.

Reason to homeschool: Because the NEA doesn't want teachers to educate the students. This is a 32 page report on how the NEA disrubts the learning process.

Reason to homeschool: Because the schools are overlawyered. UK schools won't take children on field trips if there is an increase exposure to sun burns.

Reason to homeschool: Because the schools are a crazy environment. A UK boy was banned from taking sun cream to school. (Maybe he really wanted to go on a field trip.)

Reason to homeschool: Because teachers only teach the parts of history they want to teach. Fox News has made billions of dollars advertising themselves as Fair and Balanced. Unfortunately public schools haven't been able to make that claim for years.

Reason to homeschool: To protect your children. Rather than deal with difficult children many teachers want to just drug them.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

You have about ten hours to get in your entry for the next carnival, which will be held at Home Spun Juggling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More on our trip

The last week was fun. We picked up a C-9 class RV on Monday. It sleeps ten. We loaded up and drove to the beach on Monday evening. The children had a great time. We drove back yesterday and I returned the RV this morning.

Probably the most stressful part of the trip for me was doing a U-turn to get to a gas station, and then pulling out of the gas station.

The guy at the RV place said most accidents happen at the gas stations just before people return the RVs.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

About our trip

Here's a few tidbits about our trip:

1) Raccoons really like chocolate and graham crackers. They don't really care for marshmallows though. (We mistakenly left a bag with the ingredients to make smores outside.)

2. Wetsuit type swimsuits are great.

3. Big RVs are fun, but roll over and it feels like an earthquake.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Space Access 2010 - Frontier Astronautics / Tim Bendel, Michael Carden

Frontier Astronautics has been around for five years. Orbital made him an offer and distracted him. He is now back on Frontier Astronautics full time. They are the guys with a missile silo.

They did a design for SpeedUp. He showed the design, and the where they did the test firing. They worked on the attitude control.

They have 16 patent on a 7000 pound thrust engine, the Viper Engine. Now that the patents were accepted they’ll be releasing information on it. It is a viable thrust engine.

They have a crane for moving stuff. You can drive right into the missile silo. All the walls are two feet of concrete, so pretty safe.

XL Space is in the area and produces hydrogen peroxide. They have recently increased their production capacity.

Tim says you can fly out of his site.

Wyoming currently has a $2 billion budget surplus. They are very business friendly. The state is paying for Tim to come down to the space conference.

They are twelve miles from Chugwater, WY. In the 2000 census they had 244 people, they are now down to 185. The town is very supportive of Frontier Astronautics.

Kristof Richmond is Tim’s brother-in-law. He was reporting on what a mission to Europa. To check out Europa will need to drill through ice. Kristof went down to the Antarctic to check out a lake that was frozen over. He talked about the robotic probe and flying down to the base. He showed some pictures and a video.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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The value of memorization

Ben Johnson writes about When Rote Learning Makes Sense. He starts with:

As a youth, I remember feeling cheated out of rich content in my education when I listened to my mother in times of sorrow or tenderness, lovingly recite entire poems and passages from books she studied in high school.

We all know that practice makes perfect, but for some reason perfection is not one of the goals of learning in most schools. In today's classrooms, students practice plenty, but are not required to retain knowledge perfectly.

The M Word

Somewhere along the way, rote learning got a bad rap. Memorization (there, I said the M word) became anathema to learning. How this came to be, I am uncertain, but what I am certain is that this shift away from memorization has undermined the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process altering whole generations. Perhaps the misplaced angst against memorization has come from the notion that memorization is reserved for teachers as a teaching methodology.

The true nature of memorization, however, is not for the teachers at all, really. It is for the students. And it is the responsibility of teachers to teach students how to use it to help them in their educational career.

He makes some good points. Go read the full post and consider having your children spend a little time doing some memorization.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, public school, public education, education

Space Access 2010 - Copenhagen Suborbitals/Frank Smith

Frank is a software engineer. There are two guys in Europe trying to build stuff. They have twenty or so volunteers. They got a lot of support from private donations. Denmark doesn’t have a space program, so there is some national pride in pushing this forward. They want to put people into space.

Frank showed a video of a rocket test firing.

The rocket they are working on is fairly small. It isn’t much wider that a person, and only 600 cm tall. The space for a person is barely big enough for a person. They have plans for a launch in August.

The craft is suppose to float, so if it lands in the water they should be able to recover it.

Here is his report last year.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Unreasonable Rocket / Paul Breed

Lessons learned from competing in the Lunar Landing Challenge:

Don’t overreach.
Simple is better
Don’t volunteer for paid projects


Successfully built four and “flew” three VTVL vechicles
A few other things

Showed several videos

Plans for the future: going to keep building rockets. His embedded computer business do poor in 2009, seems to be picking up now. Needs to pay off debt. Believes he can continue to self fund his business.

He will build composite fuel tanks. He will work on small motors. He should one that was about three inches high. He talked about a vehicle he plans to build.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Michael Laine

Michael Laine worked with NASA for nine years, been doing Space Elevator stuff.

Today he will talk about a new project. He signed contracts Tuesday. He is now with Apollo Capital. They are looking at funding new space ventures. Michael's role is to scout out new potential businesses to fund. They are looking at civilization shifting technologies.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Stratofox / Ian Kluft, Bob Verish

Ian Kluft is part of the Stratofox Aerospace Tracking and Recovery Team. He gave a similar presentation last year.

This year Bob is going to give the presentation.

They are 55 members, mostly in California. They will help recover lost rockets. They have had several successes. Ian talked about one at Blackrock.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Flometrics / Steve Harrington

Flometrics does a lot of stuff, flow dynamics. They work in several industries. Steve Harrington was here two years ago.

They are working on a fuel pump. He had a chance to run an experiment in zero-g. They are real focused on finding paying customers. The government is not a good customer. They are fickle and will turn off the money at any time.

Steve had advice on the financial issues with doing rocket startups. He stressed the importance of developing good management teams. Venture capitalists like teams.

He showed some videos. One of the videos from a television show.

This is one of the fun things about Space Access, during Q&A the audience asked a whole bunch of technical questions.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Interesting quote about the source of economic progress in the US

This quote really focuses on the difference between NASA and New Space:

The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-union-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system. And losses were at least as important in weeding out failures as profits in fostering successes. Let government succor failures, and we shall be headed for stagnation and decline.
-Milton Friedman

Sitting here in the middle of Space Access 2010 it is a stark contrast. These small companies with often less than a dozen people are making progress and will be soon putting average people into space, in large numbers. On the other hand NASA has spent billions of dollars and only sent a few people into space.

(Hat tip Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list)

Technorati tags: economic, progress, Dan Galvin

Space Access 2010 - Masten Space / Dave Masten

Ben Brockert started off talking about their experience in winning the Lunar Launch prize. He showed a picture of their two rockets. Here is a video of the flight:

Here are some of the principles they run by:

1) He says one of their strategies is to plan to fail. Most people plan to win, and doesn’t work out, especially with hard things. They normally land with in 20cm of where they want to, part of the problem is the rocket bounces when it lands.

Showed a timeline. They signed up for more than one window, but it worked out. Robust makes reusable.

2) They also fail to be normal. They are open with anyone who is interested. They give full access with little supervision to whatever seems right on a million dollar rocket. Welcome people to watch testgs.

They had a leaking fuel tank, they scrambled

3) Fail to be original. They learned from others. They used a lot of off the shelf stuff.

4) Fail early, fail often. Trying to have a rapid learning cycle. He had a long list of ways not to make landing gear tubes.

Dave Masten took over. They are concentrating on small payloads. They have a second generation engine. It has about 150 to 1000 pound thrust. Won the Lunar Lander first level, second place, and the Lunar Lander second level, first place.

They showed a bunch of videos. They had their first flight last year. There were several short videos.

They use a GPS system. They showed a video of a rocket hovering in 30 knot winds, with gusts to 45. The rocket just stayed there. The rocket flies via a script markup language that Ian created.

The electrical system is powered by batteries.

Currently working on creating Brutus, It looks like a rocket, with a shell on the outside, tanks and stuff on the inside. Plans for 2010:
1) Want to fly Brutus to 100,000 feet
2) Working on a 3000 pound thrust engine
3) Hoping that by the end of the year hoping to fly to 100 km.

Dave says they are growing the company. He is working on some deals, he can’t talk about anything right now. They may grow an operation unit.

They are willing to sell the engines they have developed.

They are looking at doing the nano satellite business. Don’t expect to be in orbit in two years, or taking people into space in two years.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Henry Spencer, on Realities Of Nanosat Launch: What Nanosats Are And What They Want From Launchers

Henry Spencer has done real work on real nanosats, small satellites.

Currently nanosats fly as secondary payloads.

Nanosats, what are they? One definition is a satellite from one to ten kilograms. But there is a lot of fuzzyness.

There are two classes. The first one might be called the student nanosats. There is a standard structure of a cube by 10 cm, weighing one kilogram. There is a goal to develop and launch in one semester. Henry says this is really too small to do much. About all you can do is create a solar powered radio. Great for students, not much else.

The second class is bigger sets of cubes. The standard box carries two rows of the cubes. Now people might try something the size of two cubes, three cubes, or even six. They are awkward form factors.

Henry worked on a cube of 20 cm. They have one paying customer with satellite in orbit. They went from contract signing to launch in seven months.

One problem is the box holding the nanosats are heavier than the nanosats. Commercial launchers want to protect their more expensive cargo from pieces of the nanosats.

The nanosats are not allowed to have appendages when being deployed. Deploying can be a problem.

Some issues: What orbit? Student just want something in orbit. As a practical matter they want the satellite to pass over their home so they can communicate with it. Students generally want low orbits.

Nonasats are a hazard to other satellites, big enough to hurt. There is a push to keep the nanostats low so they’ll decay in the next couple decades and clear out.

Launchers won’t sell small amounts. You have to buy large bunch and sub divide.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Do you like to travel? But want to avoid hotels and motels?

My mother sent me a link to VRBO. The site is a clearing house for people who are willing to rent their homes to people on vacation. They claim to have 130,000 homes listed.

A couple times we have several weeks or a month in another city. It was a real hassle to locate and arrange our extended vacations. This might be an easier way to do, though it does look a little expensive.

Anyone tried this service?

Technorati tags: vacation, homes

Space Access 2010 - Leik Myrabo, on The RPI Laser Propulsion Laboratory/International Collaboration On Hypersonic BEP With Brazil/LTI Work With Umea I

Leik Myrabo is working on a variety of projects. He’ll talk about naonsat program. He is working with some issues. He talked about beam powered space flight also in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

First Visionary future

What has changed recently is the price of lasers has dropped dramatically. Leik will share his vision of how to move people and good around the world in an environmentally friendly way.

He uses the term “light craft” to refer to something that doesn’t carry a power source. “LightPort” provides the power. His model is using lasers to power the crafts to move people to pretty much any where in the world in about 45 minutes. He has written a book about some of this proposal. The book is “Lightcraft Flight Handbook LTI-20: Hypersonic Flight Transport for an Era Beyond Oil” He warns that it isn’t light reading.

He beliefs this might come together starting around 2025. It would slowly edge out airplanes. He is working with a group of students in Sweden. They had a project to look at how a business traveler might use such a transportation system. Leik showed pictures from the project. The students put short movies. Here is one of them:

Aurora Spacelines | Laser Powered business-trips from niklas palm on Vimeo.

He showed a few more videos.

Leik has also been working on a Brazilian project. Chemical rockets needs to carry their fuel. Laser launched systems don't need to carry fuel. He covered some of the technical issues. The experiments he has been running have used crafts about 12 inches across.

He has also been working with the Air Force to launch Nano Satellites, any where, on demand.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Christine will be hosting the carnival at Our Curious Home.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Friday, April 09, 2010

Space Access 2010 - Space Diver / Rick Tumlinson

Rick Tumlinson encouraged us to read a book, it might have been O'Neil's book "The High Frontier."

Rick formed a company and they developed the only commercially available space suit.

They have a second company and developed a concept of "Space Diver." The diver Rick was working with recently died. Two other top divers have stepped in to help.

Rick now has a third company: "In Space." They are looking at producing a television series, the name of the show is "Space Race."

Rick showed us a video of various things that may be happening in space. The video ended with someone starting a sky dive from space.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Misuzu Onuki, on Japanese Space Venture Developments

She reported on the progress of space development in Japan. There are two Japaness Astronauts in ISS. They have a program to look at asteroids. There were several other programs.

Misuzu has a program to improve the quality of life in space. She is thinking about things like the colors and smells.

Japan has more than 30 commercial customers.

Japan is about the same size as California, but they have 98 airports. They are looking as using some airports into spaceports.

There is a suborbital training program.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Panel: World Space Programs & Projects - Clark Lindsey, Doug Messier, Dave Salt, Henry Spencer

Clark Lindsey started off talking about commercial space projects around the world.

It is an update from a similar panel discussion last year. You can get Clark's slides for this year's presentation here.

Kazakhstan has recently announced that they have invested in a land launch company.

Doug reported that Russia is building a new space port in the far east. Should be finished by 2015. Russia is building a family of rockets from two tons to forty tons. Russia is trying to be self contained, they are moving out of Kazakhstan. Henry said we have heard much of this before, so be careful.

Doug talked about some launches planned in the Ukraine.

Clark listed some activity in Europe. Spaceport Sweden is waiting for SpaceShipTwo to show up. The panel talked about Odessy Moon a bit.

Some UK activity: Virgin Galactic seems to be making progress. Clark mentioned Starchaser, they seem to have a hybrid rocket project. Dave said they seem to focus on expandables, rather than reusables. Dave also talked about Reaction Engines. Dave has a relationship with them, going back to the 1980s. They have an air breathing rocket. A few other companies were discussed.

There is a Project Enterprise in Germany. Two guys from there came to Space Access last year. They seem to be making some progress.

Two companies were listed for Canada. Henry said that the Canadian space agency makes noise about supporting new space efforts, but never provides money.

There is a group in Japan which has a DC-X like rocket. They got up to 40 km.

There is some agreement between XCor and some place in Asia, I think it was China.

A RocketLab in New Zealand had a launch, but they couldn't recover the second stage.

There is a project in India.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Dynetics/Tim Pickens

Tim Perkins founded Orion Propulsion, Inc. which was recently sold to Dynetics.

Tim talked about what Dynetics does. He explained the services they provide and the products they produce.

He said it is good to always visit your vendors. The internet can mislead.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Gary Hudson, on The Past Forty Years In The Commercial Space Business And A View Of Its Future

Gary Hudson started off with a quote of something like “There is no history, only biography.” He thanked various people.

Gary says he got started in this business because of Walt Disney’s “Man in Space” series. Gary figured that would be something worth devoting his life to. He referenced a Mark Twain quote:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Gary was convinced that reusable space vehicles were the way to go. Gary says he has been lucky to be mentored over the years by various individuals. He reviewed various ideas developed over the years.

Winston Churchill said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no lost of enthusiasm.” This was the lead in to the Percheron around the year of 1981. Gary feels that the government regulatory agencies have a bad sense of risk.

In 1982 Gary came back to largely reusable vehicles. He looked again at the Phoenix.

I missed a few things Gary said while I was checking out some web sites on Gary.

In 1990 Gary got together with Tom Clancy to work on an improved Phoenix. This was before email, they used to fax messages back and forth. This was the last Phoenix design Gary worked on.

Around this time Gary got involved with Burt Rotan. In 1992 Gary worked on the Skyrocket. It was the first winged vehicle he had worked on.

In 1994-1995 Gary decided he needed to make some money, so built K0 for Kistler.

In 1994 to1996 Gary worked on a peroxide propulsion issues.

In 1995 he worked on the Roton X rocket. They flew the Roton X three times. He says the Roton X was a bridge too far. He says it took two years off his life.

He decided to just work with paying customers.

He worked on a project to launch a rocket from a plane.

Gary is worried about the world economy. He had a couple comics from Delbert. Gary gave some advice about how to help new space to succeed.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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A milestone!

I just noticed that according to blogger we've passed the 3500 post milestone. This is our 3502 post!

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Space Access 2010 - Tethers Unlimited/Gerald Nordley

Gerry Nordley gave a summary of what Tethers Unlimited has been doing recently.

They have been working on some projects for the navy.

They have been working on using tethers to deorbit a satellite.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - SpaceWorks Commercial/A.C. Charania

A.C. Charania said that SpaceWorks Commercial provides services.

Some of his presentation is found in these slides.

He listed a bunch of projects they have worked on and are working on.

He talked about the kind of services they can provide. For example they have in house artists and some additional artists on contract.

The second half of his presentation is on what they call FastForward, going point to point with high speed transportation across the earth.

They have a number of white papers.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - FAA AST/Michelle Murray

Michelle Murray works with the FAA, Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Much of what she said was similar to her presentations in 2009, 2008 and 2007.

She showed a map of U.S. Spaceports. Some of them were Kodiak in Alaska, two in
California, one in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma, and one in Virginia.

She gave a summary of the Augustine Committee Findings.

Experimental rocket flights can’t carry paying cargo, but it might be OK to carry cargo for free. Michelle said to send in proposals.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Lasermotive/Jordin Kare

Jordin Kare gave a brief history of the contest for climbing a ribbon using beamed power. He showed a picture of how they cooked hot dogs with their 4000 watt laser. It took four minutes.

He talked about some of the technical issues involved.

He showed a video of the winning run. I think the prize was $900,000!

He walked through a proposal of a 100 Megawatt launch system. The cost per launch would be very cheap. Jordin expect it would be about ten years before a first launch and maybe fifteen years before regular service.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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One nice thing about gong to a conference

My normal days are pretty hectic. It seems like I'm often on the go. Between work, trying to raise children, getting a little more involved in politics, church, blogging, and so on, I've not kept up with everything I wanted to do. I've not been reading other blogs as much as I want to.

During a break today I look through a dozen or so favorite blogs. Spunky has a fun version of "The Miranda Rights for Public School Parents." It is the second half of a painful story about Abortion during school hours?!?

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Space Access 2010 - Panel: Propellant Depots: "Impedance Matching" Between LEO Launch And Deep-Space Missions - Dallas Bienhoff, Jon Goff, Bernard Kut

The panelists introduced themselves. They were: Dallas Bienhoff, Bernard Kutter, Jonathon Goff, and Rand Samberg.

Rand said someone suggested that the earth is a LEO harbor. Rand says it is a bad analogy, we don’t use tugboats to get ships from earth to low orbit. A better analogy is the small boats that take people from shore out to a cruise ship. There is a problem when you have two sets of requirements into one vehicle. Better to have one rocket to take people up to LEO, and another rocket to take people from LEO to places farther in space.

Jonathon suggested that fuel depots (a gas station) might be an important early RLV markets. It might make sense to have small depots. He pointed out that when refueling aircraft in flight we don’t ram the two together, you reach out a boom. Maybe the right thing is to also have a boom for rockets. If we start going with fuel depots, then in the first 12 months we might end up having more docking that in the whole previous history of docking.

Bernard said that United Launch Alliance launches about 150 tons to LEO. He said he didn’t know what the correct size was for building up the fuel depots. Was it a 1000 pounds? Was it 20,000 pounds? Bernard says we don’t need new technology, we know enough now. He suggests we first launch a large empty tank, get it into space. Could get a 20,000 or 50,000 gallon tank. If build fuel depots in LEO and one of the Lagrange points, then can put large amounts of material on the moon or Mars.

Here are some similar slides from Bernard.

Dallas started off should a video of a proposal of taking fuel up to a fuel depot. He showed various options for putting fuel into various places in space. There are several economic issues that still need to be resolved.


Bernard said he thought they could have fuel depots in four years.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - CRuSR (Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research)/Douglas Maclise, NASA

Douglas Maclise started off with the question: "Why CRuSR?"

The goal is to develop a commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry to provide much cheaper access to space. They want to create a tipping point, be a big customer until the industry can survive on their own.

If NASA has access to more frequent, reliable flights, then there will be a lot more experiments that they will be able to run. They are looking at having a standard framework for experiments. They want to have lots of experiments done by students.

Douglas talked about some issues about launching a rocket and having it return in stages. Do you keep the airspace clear until they are both back? They are working with the FAA to resolve.

Safety is an issue.

They are trying to promote space awareness, for example they come to conferences like Space Access. They have a web site. They are trying to use Facebook and Twitter. They especially want to reach out to students.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Are you looking for popular blogs on particular topics?

While doing the research for the Minuteman Lobbyist I came across Wikio's list of top political blogs. The sites has a number of categories of top blogs.

There doesn't appear to be a category for top homeschooling blogs, or even top education blogs.

If you are interested you might add your blog to their datebase by going here.

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Space Access 2010 - Space Frontier Foundation/Ryan McLinko

Ryan McLinko talked about the Space Frontier Foundation. It was founded in 1988. They want to open up space to everyone.

They are hopeful that the new administration’s change in direction for NASA will be a benefit.

They are helping with the New Space Conference in July, at NASA Ames.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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Space Access 2010 - Paragon Space Development/Jane Poynter

Jana Poynter is the co-founder of Paragon Space Development

Paragon is focused on keeping people comfortable in space. She lives in Tuscon, the company is scattered around. The company was started with people have never met each other, across the internet.

They designed biospheres. They had the first commercial ISS experiment. They have moved on to other programs. They are working with Bigelow. They have worked on space suits. They have a suit which allows divers to go into contaminated areas. They have worked on inflatable products. They have a product to pull oxygen out of moon rocks, and also take care of the contaminates in the rocks.

They are working on a air revitalization system for NASA. The design is fairly simple and they hope it will be able to fly in any LEO system.

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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It may pay to give to charity

'Pay it forward' pays off reports that a study found we benefit when we help others. Here are some interesting paragraphs:

For all those dismayed by scenes of looting in disaster-struck zones, whether Haiti or Chile or elsewhere, take heart: Good acts - acts of kindness, generosity and cooperation - spread just as easily as bad. And it takes only a handful of individuals to really make a difference.

In a study published in the March 8 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Harvard provide the first laboratory evidence that cooperative behavior is contagious and that it spreads from person to person to person. When people benefit from kindness they "pay it forward" by helping others who were not originally involved, and this creates a cascade of cooperation that influences dozens more in a social network.

When you have a chance to help someone remember that you may spark many more acts of kindness.

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Space Access 2010 - XCOR Aerospace / Jeff Greason

Jeff Greason reflected a bit about his last twelve years. It has been rough, but he is glad he took the plunge.

Jeff worries that the dinosaurs (NASA) are dying faster than the new space industries are ready to step up. He encourages us to get along with the other players.

Jeff wants the United States to have a successful, profitable space transportation industry. Need to have markets. We are getting closer to moving people into space.

Ten years ago Jeff thought the best approach was to go with a two stage rocket. He wanted to move a pound into orbit for less than $100 a pound. The first stage needs to return and so they decided to add wings.

Jeff showed a video of a rocket they built for Rocket Racer. XCor built it for Rocket Racer. They no longer have a business relationship with Rocket Racer, but would be happy to build more rockets for Rocket Racer. The video showed the turn around time, in eight and a half minutes. They did seven flights in one day. Jeff said the rocket racer rocket was a the kiddie car compared to the Lynx.

I counted about 130 people in the room.

He showed a video, it was similar to this one:

Jeff says that it takes time to design a rocket. You can’t speed up the process by throwing lots of people at the problem. There are design issues that are solved better when a small group of people are working on the overall design. Things are a lot cheaper when you catch issues in the design. They have changed the design again and again and again. They have changed the configuration of the nose.

It is looking like they are getting there.

Business wise it has been rough the last two years. They are not self funded. They use to get more money from the federal government. Things are looking better now. They are getting more phone calls. NASA’s plans to put $75 million into the industry reassures investors.

Jeff says that in a rational universe companies would be willing to buy things like engines from “competitors.”

The full agenda for Space Access 2010, with links

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