Sunday, November 22, 2015

Geo Bee Prep Project: State Fossils

For our first homeschool group Geo Bee prep meeting, Mikro did a project on state fossils.

Here are some of the cards he made. Can you guess which state's fossil each is? (Answers below...)

Here are a few of the resources Mikro is using to study for the Bee...

Have you guessed the state fossils? Here are the answers, in the same order as the cards above.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

BLAZING IDIOTS: THE GREAT JACK O'LANTERN BLAZE, or Why I Now Detest Historic Hudson Valley

For years, my family enjoyed the local history themed events put on by Historic Hudson Valley, especially the July 4th celebration at Van Cortlandt Manor, River Days, Heritage Crafts, the Eagle Fest tie in event, etc. When the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze started, it ran a couple of weeks, and was mostly attended by locals. It has since expanded into a 6 week or more extravaganza that draws a ridiculous crowd to this Village of 8,000 people. I would bet my property taxes have gone up to cover the police overtime they have necessitated.

In the early years, it wasn't so bad. They used their own entrance road on Riverside Avenue. Now they have their cider and donut tent, complete with cheesy souveniers, and to make as much off the public as possible, they close their entrance and vector all traffic through the local supermarket parking lot and into a field where the concessions are located.

A week or two of heinous traffic, no parking availble when you shop, and people aimlessly wandering about in lanes of traffic causing a road hazard might be something that people could grin and bear, but their greed knows no bounds. It is November 7th. And yet, there are still two more weekends of this nonsense to endure, after four weeks of almost daily inconvenience.

In the past at least 3 years, they have shown ZERO consideration in their handling of the parking situation. I am tired of being endangered by the reckless stupidity of their patrons and unlawfully imprisoned (kept trapped in a parking spot and not free to leave while they make no effort whatsoever to temporarily halt the line of idiots streaming into their parking field in order to let local shoppers leave and go about their business).

Here is the review I left on HHV's facebook page, which I fully expect them to delete.

You are abyssmal neighbors. You have no consideration whatsoever for the people who live near your sites, esp. Van Cortlandt Manor. The crack team of imbeciles you have directing traffic pinned me in my handicapped parking spot and would not stop the flow of traffic, which they had vectored completely around shoprite, creating a nightmare (as usual) for anyone who actually lives and has to shop here. One of your parking idiots stood in front of my car in the exit ramp and refused to move over to let me pass her safely. This is not the first time I have been pinned in my spot and your employees did NOTHING to permit me to leave. Your customers show up hours early and take all the handicapped spots at Shoprite, requiring locals to lug heavy groceries in pain, all because you refuse to use your own entrance and insist on inconveniencing the local community by using Shoprite as your entrance ramp. People who live here have to run our entire October and November schedules around avoiding the ridiculous traffic you generate and fail to control. Halloween was over a week ago, and still you are making my life miserable. And you should drop historic from your name. You cancelled the July 4th reading of the Declaration of Independence, and other small scale HISTORIC events in favor of pirates and pumpkins and the almighty dollar. You will never see another penny from me in support, and I will leave negative reviews everywhere I can. I informed Croton PD verbally of the parking incident, and I will go in and file a formal complaint when I have time. You are lousy neighbors.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween at AMNH

Mikro enjoyed Trick or Treating as New York's state fossil at the American Museum of Natural History. One museum employee saw him and said "Cool eurypterid!" Most people, however, thought he was anything from a bedbug, to a beetle, to a rat. (Huh????) Paleontology Boy had fun educating people about his costume, and wandering the halls of his favorite place as if he belonged on exhibit there...

Kevin and I somehow stayed awake and cheerful, despite pulling an all-nighter to finish his costume. Next year, Mikro gets to take the laboring oar on costume making...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Resurrecting the Extinct for Halloween? Why not!

My paleontology obsessed son wants to be New York's state fossil for Halloween. So out came my sketch pad, and Kev and I are now attempting to assemble a prehistoric sea scorpion out of foam floor tiles and fabric... It is a work in progress, and time is flying. Here is what we have done so far:

We still have to make the patterns for the body and tail, cut foam, assemble the segments, cover all the foam with contrasting fabric, detail it with paracord, and make sure it works for standing and sitting... This would be easier if we hadn't left it to the last minute, but hopefully the ghost of Eurypterus remipes will be haunting us come Saturday..

Saturday, October 10, 2015

National Geographic Bee

Mikro is really excited about the National Geographic Bee, which local homeschoolers are going to be studying for. Team blog here. We've picked up an atlas and some study guides, and are working our way through them. Mikro watched last year's competition and says it looks like fun.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mikro's Going to Mars... Well, His Name Is, Anyway!

Get your name sent to the red planet too by signing up with NASA here.

2015 Not Back To School Interview With Mikro

Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Paleontology, Robotics... Science!

Q: What are you best at?
A: Science.

Q: I need to get better at __________.
A: Handwriting, note taking, typing, writing essays.

Q: What's the best thing about being a homeschooler?
A: That I get to learn what *I* want to learn.

Q: What's the worst thing?
A: No such thing as summer break.

Q: What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up?
A: I want to be a paleontologist, or evolutionary biologist. I also want to do robotics and cartography. I want to be a professor, because I like to lecture, and I would love to work at AMNH someday.

Q: This year I want to learn about ________.
A: Paleontology (of course), cartography, drawing, ships (maritime engineering/architecture), robotics, natural satellites, terraforming, space exploration, science fiction, fractals, geometry, special effects and animation, East Prussia, colonialism.

Q: I want to do more _________.
A: Field trips.

Q: I want to do less _________.
A: Handwriting.

Q:Who is your best friend?
A: Ezra and Koby.

Q:I want to go on a field trip to __________.
A: Philadelphia.

Q: I want to go on vacation to __________.
A. Ireland.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Foraging With Kids: A Review by Mikro

Mikro reviewed Wildman Steve Brill's book, Foraging with Kids for our homeschool group's newsletter:


I really enjoyed “Foraging With Kids” by Wildman Steve Brill. The book was more than just a field guide to edible plants. I especially liked the sections about the folklore, myth and superstitions about plants. I also enjoyed the plant poems. My favorite story was about how people can try to tell time with dandelions, which are nicknamed “the clock flower.” You will have to read the book to find out how a fairy story turned into this strange activity.

The book is organized by seasons so that way you know when to look for certain things. The photos were really clear and make it easy to identify the plants Wildman Steve talks about. We decided to field test the book by going foraging once it got warm enough.

We went foraging in a meadow near the Hudson River and in our own backyard. We took along Wildman Steve’s book and a bunch of baggies to collect plants with. We were able to identify the plants we found easily, except for one that we thought was purslane. We were not one hundred percent sure, so, as Wildman Steve tells us, we did not eat it.

meadow foragingmikro3

meadow2 foragingmikro2

We found wild onion, dandelions, violets, mint and wood sorrel. My mom likes wood sorrel and dandelions. I liked the mint and violets.


violets wildonions

When we got home, we looked at the male and female parts of the flowers under a field microscope. Wildman Steve’s book has lots of suggestions for science lessons, which my mom and I both liked.

dandeliionanthers tipofvioletstamen

violetovaryinside violeteater dandelioneater

Foraging is a fun way to spend time outdoors. We had a really nice day outside and saw lots of birds as well as plants. I want to go foraging again later this spring and in the summer when there is more out there to find.

perchedkestrel redwing1

redwing2 kestrelinflight

I would recommend this book highly for all kids and families.

What an amazing day. It was still very early spring here on the day we foraged, and I was happy that we were able to find a few edible plants. (I promised to give the newsletter first go at publishing this, which is why it's only being posted now...) The walk also brought us some amazing non-botanical sights: an American Kestrel up close, and all sorts of song birds, but the highlight (besides the Kestrel) was a red winged blackbird displaying for a mate. To top it off, there was a spectacular sunset! Our fun day inspired a poem:

A Foraging Poem,
by Chele Coyne

We went to the park,
But not on a lark,
For we had a mission in mind.
With Steve Brill’s tome,
And a meadow to roam,
It’s amazing the food you can find.
Though winter’s barely over,
We found wood sorrel and clover,
Wild onions, mint, violets blue.
As we tramped along,
We heard the birds’ song.
Foraging’s a fun thing to do!


Have you ever gone foraging? What's your favorite wild edible?

Check out a field trip we took with Wildman Steve here.