Surgery Day

Posted by TechyDad on April 18, 2014 under JSL, Medical, Parenting

johnny_automatic_gloved_hand_with_scalpel

Today’s the day that we’ve been nervous about for some time: Surgery Day.  Today, JSL is going to go under general anesthesia to have his adenoids cut back, his turbinates cut out, and to have his tongue tie taken care of.  JSL is understandably nervous.  So is NHL for whom surgery is an anxiety trigger.

Truth be told, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t nervous either.  I keep saying it is a routine procedure.  I keep telling myself that it will only last an hour at most.  I keep saying that the doctors do this all the time.  I keep remembering that two of my nephews have had this done with no complications.  Still, I can’t help but be scared over what will happen.  It’s all I can do to hide my nervous feelings from JSL and NHL since I don’t want them getting even more nervous.

Have you ever had a child go in for surgery?  If so, how did you handle the nerves?

Note: The "gloved hand with scalpel" image is by johnny_automatic and is available from OpenClipArt.org.

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Matzah Time Is Here

Posted by TechyDad on April 14, 2014 under Holidays, Judaism

matzahI’ve spent the past few days in deep-cleaning mode.  You see, Passover is coming so this means I need to clean the kitchen up.  The stove and oven needs to be scrubbed.  The fridge and microwave must be cleansed.  Cabinets and countertops need to be washed down.  All non-Passover foods must be put away and the Passover boxes (pots, pans, etc) need to be taken down from the attic.  It’s an involved affair that leaves me exhausted with little time for anything else.

Add in that I’ll be offline for the next few days thanks to the first couple of days of Passover being a holiday, and you’ll see little in the way of posting from me this week.  Rest assured that I’ll be here happily munching matzah.  (For some values of "happily.")

To those that celebrate Passover:  I hope you have a fantastic Pesach.

To those that don’t celebrate Passover:  I hope you have a great week.  And please try not to flaunt any bread you might be eating in front of us that are matzah-bound.

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Extreme Geekery: Jupiter Jump

Posted by TechyDad on April 10, 2014 under Extreme Geekery, Math, Space

JupiterDid you hear the amazing news?  If you jump on the right day, a planetary alignment of Jupiter and Pluto will cause a decrease in gravity and you will be able to float in the air for five minutes!  It’s definitely true because I read it on the Internet.

Ok, you’ve got me.  This isn’t true.  Not in the least.  It’s 100% grade-A hokum.  Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer, has debunked this more thoroughly than I could.  It did make me wonder though:  What would it take to float in the air for five minutes?  How much would we have to alter the Earth’s gravity in order to accomplish this feat?  Or, likely more accurate to the “Zero G Day” myth, how close or massive would Jupiter need to be to accomplish this?  Consider this a cosmic equivalent to the Mythbusters’ replicating the results.

We can think of a jump using this diagram.

jump-diagram

First, our legs push off of the Earth with an initial velocity.  Next, the Earth’s gravity decelerates us bit by bit until we reach the top of our jump where our speed becomes zero.  Finally, gravity’s acceleration pulls us back down to Earth.  (In reality, you might need to calculate other items like air resistance, but we’ll simplify matters and ignore the air for now.)

Since the top of our jump is halfway through it, let’s further simplify matters by not calling this a five minute jump that we are going to attempt.  Instead, we’ll say that it takes gravity two and a half minutes to slow our initial push-off speed to zero.

Let’s start with a normal jump, though. Go ahead and jump. If you are like me, you went up and came back down in about a third of a second.  There’s an easy equation we can use to calculate acceleration (or deceleration) over time:

vf = vi + a*t

In other words, the final speed is equal to the initial speed plus the product of acceleration (in this case, gravity) and time.

We don’t know the initial speed, but we do know the time (half of a third of a second, or about 0.167 seconds), the deceleration (-9.8 meters per second2), and the final speed (zero).  This gives us:

0 = vi – 9.8*(0.167)

or

vi = 1.617

That’s the initial velocity that our legs have provided us.  But what about our “Zero G Day” jump?  How small would gravity need to be to allow us to push off with the same force and decelerate to zero in 2.5 minutes?

Again:

vf = vi + a*t

This time, we know vf (zero again), vi (1.617 from the previous example), and t (2.5 minutes, which is 150 seconds).  This gives us:

0 = 1.617 + 150a

or an acceleration of -0.01078 meters per second2.  Given that normal Earth gravity is 9.8 meters per second2, this would be a mere 0.0011g.

How small is 0.0011g?  Well, according to the Planetary Fact Sheet from NASA, if you were walking on the surface of the Mercury, you’d experience 0.378g.  Maybe we need something smaller like our Moon?  0.166g.  Let’s go to dwarf planets and look at Pluto.  0.059g.  We still haven’t gotten to our “Zero G Day” gravity figure.  Even Pluto has over 53 times the gravity we’re looking for.  We might have luck with one of the smaller asteroids, but it would be a difficult search.

Clearly, were Zero G Day to actually occur, this would be a major disruption.  The effects wouldn’t simply be limited to a cool jump.  But what could cause such a thing?  As Phil Plait pointed out, Jupiter – as massive as it is – doesn’t influence us enough gravitationally.  This is because gravity decreases as objects get more distant.  Specifically:

gravity-equation

G is the universal gravitational constant or 6.673 x 10-11 N m2/kg2.  This isn’t to be confused with “little g” which stands for the gravity on Earth.  Don’t worry if you are a bit confused, though, as you’ll see, G isn’t going to matter much.

When you jump in our hypothetical “Jupiter Has Much More Gravity” situation, Jupiter pulling up almost as much as the Earth is pulling down.

jump-2

In fact, we could say that the force of Jupiter pulling you up is equal to 0.9989 times the force of Earth pulling you down.  (Thus giving us the 0.0011 Earth gravity left over.)

Since we have the force equation from before, we can express this as:

gravity-equation-1

Since G and m1 are both on each side, we can eliminate those:

gravity-equation-2

Plugging in the values for the Earth’s mass (5.98 x1024kg) and distance (6.38 x 106 km) gives us:

gravity-equation-3

or:

gravity-equation-4

Bringing Jupiter’s distance to the other side gives us:

gravity-equation-5

Now we can either solve for distance or mass for Hypothetical Jupiter.  Let’s do one and then the other.  First, we’ll assume that Hypothetical Jupiter is in its current orbit and will calculate how massive it would need to be.  Next, we’ll keep Jupiter as massive as it is right now and just move it as close to the Earth as it would need to be.

Plugging in Jupiter’s minimum distance from the Earth – 588.5 * 106 (source: NASA), we get a mass of 509,108.4 * 1029 kg.  That same website gives the real Jupiter’s mass as being 1,898.3 * 1024 kg.  So Hypothetical Jupiter would need to be 26.8 million times as massive as Real Jupiter.  This is much more massive than the Sun is (1,989,100 * 1024 kg).  Almost 25,600 times as massive, in fact.  This would make our Hypothetical Jupiter, more massive than any star we know of.  Perhaps this would even be massive enough for Hypothetical Jupiter to collapse into a black hole.

On the other hand, we could keep Jupiter the same size and just move it closer to the Earth.  Solving for distance, we get this equation:

gravity-equation-6

With Jupiter’s mass (1,898.3 * 1024), this gives us a distance of a distance of about 113,600 km.  At first glance, this would appear to put Jupiter less than a third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon (384,400 km).  Actually, though, it’s closer than that.  You see, the distance is measured as the distance to the center of Jupiter.  Jupiter has a radius of about 70,000 km so this would actually make Jupiter only 43,600 km from the Earth.  This would be only 11% of the Earth-Moon distance and would be a mere 8,000 km from satellites orbiting in geostationary orbit.

At that distance, our Hypothetical Jupiter would not only let us stay aloft for 5 minutes, but would also pour tons of lethal radiation over the Earth.   Not only that, but the Earth would probably be torn apart and fall into Jupiter.

In short, be glad that you can’t jump and stay aloft for five minutes.  If you ever find yourself able to do this, you might not be around for long to enjoy your air time.

NOTE: The Jupiter image above is from NASA.

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Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Posted by TechyDad on April 8, 2014 under Blogging

Techydad_Doctor_whoLast year, I participated in the Ultimate Blog Party for the first time.  When it came rolling around again this year, I decided to give it a go again.  So, for anyone who is new here, I decided to answer the question: Who is TechyDad?

This might be a long post.  Please make yourselves comfortable.

First, of all, I’m a husband and father.  My wife is B, aka TheAngelForever, my two boys are NHL (age 10) and JSL (age 6).  I’m a web developer by trade which is a good thing since I love making websites.  (I do it as a day job and am also available for freelance work should anyone need some website work done.)  I’ve been blogging and on social media for almost 6 years.

I’m a huge geek.  I love technology (and just wish I could afford more of it).  I’m a big superhero fan, as well.  I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Farscape, and many other geeky science fiction shows.  Most recently, I’ve become a huge Whovian.  So much so that I made my own fez and bowtie so I could "become" the Doctor.  Now if only I could find my TARDIS.

For a long time, I held my geekiness in check, but recently decided to explore my geekier side with an "Extreme Geekery" series.  The first one explored how much paper would be produced if you printed out a hard drive.

I’m a big fan of Disney also.  We all loved Frozen and we’ve been to Disney World many, many, many times.  (Here’s hoping we can go again soon.)

I’ve long written about my history of being bullied.  It took me a long time to fully come to grips with that and I was heartbroken when NHL was bullied in school.

Speaking of NHL, he has been diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome.  Since his diagnosis, not only have we become Autism advocates, but he has as well.  He’s learned to stick up for himself when people expect him to "just act normal" as if Autism is a switch he can flip off should he decide to.

Furthermore, as we read the many, many books and articles about what Asperger’s Syndrome is, something became perfectly clear:  I’m an Aspie as well.  When I was a kid, Asperger’s Syndrome wasn’t diagnosed.  Children were just stamped with a "shy" label and that was it.  Unfortunately, getting a diagnosis would cost money we can’t afford to spend.  As it wouldn’t help NHL at all and as I’ve clearly learned my own coping techniques, I’ll remain an "undiagnosed Aspie" for the time being.

For more reading, I’d suggest my post for World Autism Day/Month which summarized and linked to a year’s worth of Autism posts.

Other things I enjoy doing are playing video games, cooking, and reading books.

You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for stopping by!

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In Defense of Paternity Leave Trumping Baseball

Posted by TechyDad on April 4, 2014 under Fatherhood, Parenting

297px-Daniel_Murphy_on_June_16,_2009While browsing through my Twitter stream yesterday, I noticed a tweet from FiddleDeeAsh about sportscasters Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton lambasting New York Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy for taking paternity leave when his son was born.  Daniel Murphy wound up taking three days off (as allowed by Major League Baseball paternity leave rules) and missed the first two games of the season.

Craig wondered why Daniel couldn’t just hand his wife off to a "good support system" so he could get back to his team and play baseball.  Boomer took it a step further and said he would have had his wife have a c-section so that he wouldn’t miss any games.  He actually said:  "This is what makes our money.  This is how we’re going to live our life.  This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life.  I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player."  Finally, on a different program, radio host Mike Francesa expressed the opinion that "you see the birth and you get back" and "your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple days, you know that."

Wow.

I almost don’t know where to begin so let me start with Craig’s opening remarks.  Yes, a good support system is essential.  New parents with a good support system will tend to fare better than new parents without one.  However, part of a good support system is having both parents helping out.  When NHL was born, I took a whole week off from work.

Lest Boomer and Craig think that new dads sit around watching TV and grumbling to their wives that the baby is screaming again, we don’t.  When NHL was born, I would take my share of turns taking care of him.  I actually tried to do more than my "share" since B had done the hard work of giving birth to our new baby (something I obviously couldn’t do) and needed time to recuperate.

But if Craig had a grain of truth in his otherwise warped statement, Boomer was full-on looney.  First of all, a c-section is surgery.  It is a highly invasive process that puts the mother’s life in jeopardy (even if it is commonly done, it still carries risks) and can result in permanent scarring.  To suggest that Daniel Murphy’s wife should have had surgery just so Daniel could play baseball is beyond insulting.

Then there’s the "this is how I make my money" argument.  Sadly, this argument isn’t limited to professional sports.  Too many people in too many other occupations bring it up as well.  For all of our advances, many still think that a dad’s only role in bringing up a child is earning money with all of the "actual parenting" being the mom’s job.

How many times must we smash this stereotype before it stays smashed?

Earning money is important, but I doubt many kids grow up and think fondly on all of the money their dad made over the years.  What truly makes a father isn’t the size of your paycheck, but how you interact with your children.  Great fathers spend time with their children and bond with them like Daniel Murphy chose to do.

It wasn’t like Daniel Murphy was quitting baseball and somehow dooming his family to poverty with his actions.  He was taking a couple of days off as per league rules and then he went back to work.  The Mets aren’t going to fire him for this.  Honestly, if I worked for a company and they wanted to fire me for daring to take time off to be with my wife after she gave birth, I’d rethink how much I’d want to work for that organization.  (Thankfully, I never needed to do this as my boss at the time let me take off as much time as I felt I needed.)

Finally, we get to Francesa’s comments.  Somehow, I think that "I’ve seen the birth, I’m done here" is missing something.  Like maybe that baby that was just born!

As for "your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple of days, you know that"… Actually, I didn’t know that.  So you mean right after my wife pushed a watermelon out of her, when simply going to the bathroom was a challenge, when she was mentally and physically exhausted because she had essentially run a marathon (child birth isn’t a "I’m going to give birth now – oh, there’s the baby" affair), she didn’t need any help at all?  I beg to differ.  If anything, my wife needed me more than ever at that point.  I couldn’t shoulder the physical burden of childbirth for her, but I could shoulder as much of the baby-handling responsibilities as I could right after child birth so that she could rest and recuperate.  If Mike Francesa’s wife was able to do everything to take care of the baby immediately after childbirth, then more power to her, but most women don’t recover instantly.

In the end, Daniel Murphy missed two small games of baseball – the first two of the season.  While those games might be big on pomp, they really don’t make a big difference on how well the team does throughout the rest of the season.  Plenty of teams have started their season with a few horrible games and then did great.  Many others started with a fantastic winning streak before it all fell apart.  Daniel Murphy’s absence wasn’t going to somehow doom his entire team.  Even if he was going to miss game seven of the World Series, however, being there for the birth of his child was the more important event of the two.  He made the right choice and these commentators are horribly, horribly wrong.  I applaud Mr. Murphy for his choice to be a great husband and father and wish more people would recognize that dads are more than just "backup parents" and "wage earners."

NOTE: The photo of Daniel Murphy above is by Keith Allison.  It comes from the Wikimedia Commons and was posted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

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