Monthly Archives: March 2010

Locating the Center of the Rod – by JV

JV has become increasingly interesting in machining.  His godmother’s neighbor is a retired machinist and JV visited with him yesterday.  He was lent a high school shop manual.  He has begun reading it.

The first way to locate the center of the square.

  1. put the work rod in the vise
  2. lay the center square against the side of the rod near the end
  3. put a ruler under the center square across the top of the rod
  4. scribe lines along the ruler
  5. move the ruler to the other side of the square and scribe lines
  6. rotate the rod 90* in the center square
  7. repeat steps two and three

The second way to locate the center of the rod is the hermaphrodite caliper.

  1. put work in vice
  2. adjust the caliper to half of the diameter of the work.
  3. place the curved “leg” of the caliper on the side of the end of the rod and rotate.
  4. scribe a quarter of a turn creating a semi-circle.
  5. do this three more times rotating the piece 90* each time this creates a concave square.

I did not understand the third way.


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Experience with Animals – by AV

AV has applied to be chosen to be an intern at the SC Aquarium.  AV knows so much, but he doesn’t often see his knowledge and experience for what it is and doesn’t present in an interview process confidently.  His favorite teacher from last year visited us on Sunday and spoke with him about her experiences interviewing volunteer candidates at the Bronx Zoo.  He is choosing to pre-think several possible questions.  Here are his thoughts on his experience with animals.

We have a 14 gallon salt water aquarium that is primarily invertebrates. We bought an example of each phylum we studied. We have one true vertebrate, a scooter bleny.  I feed him brine shrimp every Wednesday.  I feed on Wednesday not only because I do not want to over feed the fish, but if I put too much rotting material in the water, it will raise the nitrate levels in the water and throw off the tank’s balance. I feed the corals a solution of carbohydrates, vitamins, fatty acids and amino acids – like rubidum, tin, zinc, vitamin B and C on Mondays. Every two weeks, a major water change is done to keep down the calcium and water hardness levels. The maintenance of the tank includes cleaning the glass inside and out and changing the filter.  If a coral is knocked over, I reposition it in the proper light and water flow area. When we purchase our invertebrates and fish, we buy them at a store which has a knowledgeable staff. In addition we use our knowledge of the food web, so we make sure that our animals will not eat each other and are reef compatible.

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Part I Synopsis and Characters of College of Charleston’s Production of Gianni Schicchi – By BR

Last night we went to the College of Charleston to see Gianni Schicchi, Puccini’s one act comic opera. The idea that children can not enjoy opera is beyond me now.  We did not have prep time for this event, yet the children found the story easy to follow and discussed the merits of the composer and the acting as well as contrasting it with Samson and Delilah, which we saw about a month ago.

The cast of Gianni Schicchi, one of Pucchini’s last operas, is large.  Zita is played by Valerie Osborn (her understudy is Janelle Lentz); Simone’s part is rendered by Nathan Matticks; Rinuccio is acted by Jonathan White; Ciesca is performed by Kathleen Perry (her understudy is Kori Miller); Marco is played by Jordan Boyd (understudy is Eric Dempsey); Nella is impersonated by Lewis Carraway (his understudy is Andrea Horath); Gherado is preformed by Paul Runyan; Betto is acted by Yun Hao Jiang (his understudy is Joseph Ford); Gherardino is played by Scott Templeton.  These characters are all members of the dead man, Buoso Donati’s family.  Gianni Schicchi is portrayed by Daniel Lentz; Gianni’s daughter, Lauretta is impersonated by Carina Gerscovich (her understudy is Elise Darrow). The doctor, Spinelloccio is preformed by Garrett Wilson.  The last three characters are the Notary played by Jared Jones, and the two wittnesses: Pinellino portrayed by Garrett Wilson and Guccio acted by Anthony Massarotto.

Buoso, the wealthiest member of the Donati family, has died and everyone is fake crying. One of the family members, Gherardo, enters and says that the rumor around town is that all the wealth has gone to the monks. The family begins trumbling through the house looking for the will.  They get excited when they think they find it; but no.  Then finally Rinuccio finds it. He refuses to hand it over until he is assured that he can marry the poor Loretta, his love. The family finally relents, but only if the family gets the money. Zita opens the will. Simone shuffles over and light funerary candles hopefully for Buoso’s honor. But it does no good.  They find out the rumor is true and the monk will be wealthy. (My opinion Buoso knew his family well and he chose not to give his wealth to the selfish part of the family.)  Now Rinuccio can not marry his love. He is devastated.

Rinuccio insists that Loretta’s father Gianni can help them come up with a scam to get the money.  The family is not in favor of the idea. He convinces them finally and Gianni and Loretta come to the house.  The family is fake crying again, but Gianni sees that they are just acting.  The family admits their true sorrow and asks him to help come up with a scam.  Gianni initially refuses, but Loretta sings a beautiful Aria begging her father to do this so she can marry her love.  He looks at the will and announces that it can’t be done. His daughter and Rinuccio begin to sing sadly.  Gianni tries to figure out a scam again. But again he can’t break the will.  The family begins to argue.  Gianni has an idea.  He begins by asking if anyone outside of the family knows of the death of Buoso.

Tomorrow BR will finish this tale.

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JV’s Book

We moved JV’s hermitage and all this work popped out. (We are opening up the house again after the two roomed existence of winter.)  Here is the final post of JV’s hidden treasures.  This is his book.  I published photos here of it as a work in progress. Here is the completed book.  Now he is beginning to fill it.

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Neural Tube and Saint-Saens – By JV

More squirreled away work from our discussion of tunicates.

The beginnings of the nervous system and somites

Neural Tube

The neural tube is the beginning of the nervous system.  The neural tube forms from the ectoderm and the somites come from the mesoderm.  Somites move their cells around so they can form different systems of the body.  This is what makes them bilaterally symmetrical.


Saint-Saens was born in France in 1835 and died in 1921.  He composed over 150 works and was a pianist, organist, a conductor and writer of poetry.  “Samson et Dalila” was his second opera of the twelve he made.  While working on this piece, he received little encouragement from his friends. The French public was split about turning a Bible story into an opera.

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Creatures in the Fish Tank – by JV

JV finished this last project week, but being the great parent that I am, I forgot to photograph it or type it for him here.  He is all about monochromatic, tiny, and not thinking through the word he is trying to write.  Usually on project week projects we craft until perfection, however because JV really had to research and love this one to completion, I didn’t make him work on his spelling.  Here is the parent spell checked version:

Lettuce Sea Slug

The lettuce sea slug comes in an array of colors – from green with tan spots to blue and white.  It slowly changes color depending on what color algae it eats. It has two wave membranes that run the length of its body; these store some of the algae it eats for photosynthesis.  It has two eye spots which can only see light and dark.  It has two antenna and like a snail it has one foot that leaves behind a slime trail.

Sand-sifting snail

Tongan Nassurius Snail

This snail burrows under the sand and sticks its sifter out of the sand to filter the water.  The snail is tan with a long “foot”.  Its shell is tan with purple on the top.

Peppermint Shrimp

Peppermint Shrimp

The peppermint shrimp is an inch to two inches long.  It is clear with red lines outlined with white.  It sucks food out of the water and cleans off fish.  It sways back and forth when relaxed.  When there is food floating around it, it almost stands on its tail.  With two small tubes it snatches food out of the water.  When threatened it spreads its two sucking tubes apart.

Pipe Organ Coral

Pipe organ coral grows in stalks starting at the bottom.  It is a coral commonly mistaken for a hard coral, but it is a soft coral. The polyps of the coral usually have eight feeding tentacles. They have a symbiotic relationship with an algae whose photosynthesis gives it most of its food.

Candy Coral (Caulestrea frcata)

Candy coral comes in a lot of shapes and colors.  At first glance they appear to have no tentacles, but look more closely, you will see tiny tentacles.  There is a longer stinging tentacle to feed and ward off predators.

Clove polyps (Clavulaira)

These small polyps have a symbiotic relationship like the pipe organ coral and the candy corals.  They come in a lot of colors and spread quickly.

Yellow ball sponge (Tedaria igins)

The yellow ball sponge is a fairly common sponge.  It gets about the size of a fist.  Its pores open up when it is feeding.  It gives a slight sting and will fight to the death with an animal trying to eat it.

Hawaiian Feather Duster

Hawaiian Feather Duster (Sabellastarte spp)

This peaceful tube worm has a dark red body and tan gills with brown stripes. It is about two to three inches long and its gills are about an inch long.

Flourescent Green Feather Duster

Hence its name, the Fluorescent Green Feather Duster is green.  It is about as long as the Hawaiian Feather Duster. It makes a flaked brown tube.

Red Legged Hermit Crab

This hermit crab is common. It has red gills, legs, and claws.  The legs are black tipped and so are the claws.  it is a scavenger.

Blue Legged Hermit Crab (calcinus tricobr)

This hermit crab has blue legs that are black tipped.  Its claws are black and white dotted.

The Black and White Stripped Hermit Crab

This hermit crab has black and white stripped legs and claws.

Crith Snail

This snail’s shell is black with faint white dots.  It is small and eats algae.

Bumble Bee Snail (Pusiostoma mondicaria)

This snail’s shell is black with vertical yellow or white stripes.  This is a great climbing snail that also eats algae.

Sea Squirt

The sea squirt is a vertebrate.  In its larval stage it has a notochord, but while an adult it does not.  They can be lots of different shapes, sizes and colors.  This one is tall and red.  They are called sea squirts because when you pull them out of the water they will squirt at you.

Sand Sifting Sea Star (Pusiostoma mondicaria)

This sea star is tan with brown markings.  It burrows under the sand and eats the algae.

Pink and Green Sea Cucumber (Pentaca Tricolor)

This sea cumber stays in one spot for a long time. It is about two to three inches long and eats waste in the water with its modified tuber feet that look like pink and green trees.

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Seahorses – by AV

The seahorse is an astounding animal of camouflage. Its habitat includes shallow coral reefs with sea grasses or kelp beds in the tropical waters where it feeds on plankton. It’s in the family of pipe fish because it has a fused jaw.  So it slurps up its food.  Its prehensile tail allows it to hold onto algae. It bobs and sways naturally as if it is part of the algae. Although it is unable to change its color, it is able to dampen it. This helps it hide from the crabs, angler fish, and even penguins. This incredibly diverse group of animals ranges in size from 1 inch to 1 foot. Hippocampus, the scientific name for seahorse, is derived from the Greek for horse and sea monster.

Image from wikipedia.

The hippocampus is also part of your brain and is so named because it looks like a seahorse. Something I found interesting is their use in Chinese medicine.  In 1578, Bencao Gangmu – a book compiling most herb and animal uses in medicine – was produced. In this book, the seahorse has over 2000 uses including circulation problems, kidney failure, and impotence.  They are still used in traditional Chinese medicine today. Millions of pounds of these tiny creatures are freeze dried and put into capsules for sale.

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