About reading "Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids who Thrive" from The Great Courses

I just finished listening to "Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids who Thrive". This is one of many courses offered by "The Great Courses" and I really enjoyed this one. Basically, a lot of tips is provided to parents to help them provide an environment for kids to reach their full potential in a lot of fields like math, reading, social life, self-confidence, etc, etc. These "tips" are backed by various research and studies. Some of them seem common sense, but some can come as interesting surprises.

Without going into much detail, and I definitely recommend checking the course for that, here are some of the tips that I found most interesting:

  • Talk and read to your child a lot;
  • Have them learn a 2nd language;
  • Lots of tummy time early;
  • Attach sticky velcro mittens to a baby so they can "attach" items to themselves;
  • Let them play with wooden blocks of different shapes;
  • Don't really force a child to eat, but try to encourage them to eat anything. Include lots of vegetables. I remember reading "Bringing Up Bébé", and how the american mother would say there were no kids menu in a french restaurant. Kids were supposed to eat the same food as their parents;
  • No TV for kids before 2 years old.
  • For older kids, when they get to watch TV, make sure they have already engaged in more productive activities before, and they are not exposed to violence. Seek also some education context like Sesame Street or Caillou;
  • Video games are ok, but prefer the non-violent and preferably ones that have an interesting story); 
  • Music lessons;
  • Expose kids to lots of "mathematical" situations like having them estimate how much the supermarket is going to cost based on the items they see being added to the shopping cart, etc;
  • By 10, kids should master fractions (this was really interesting);
  • Model good social behavior by having the kids seeing how you help and share with others. Volunteer at a community service;
  • Praise kids for their effort since there are a lot of things in life we cannot control. "Failure" is ok;
  • Have them practice Yoga or tae-kwon-do. This helps with self control and discipline;
  • Have them participate in team sports, but beware of sports that expose kids at higher risk of head injuries like Football (mainly) and soccer.
  • Have a pet like a dog that they can play with;
  • There is no need to rush a kid development. Let them play a lot!

Searching for Comet Lovejoy

My desire to learn more about astronomy had another excuse to make me go outside and look at the night sky: comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2). My first attempt to see it was on the night of Jan 7th. Looking at the sky map provided by Sky and Telescope, I went outside at around 6:00 PM when the moon would still be below horizon. It was a clear but very cold night (18F). I went outside with a friend and tried to search first with the binoculars. We couldn't see it at all with naked eyes.

Path of Comet Lovejoy, from Sky and Telescope

Path of Comet Lovejoy, from Sky and Telescope

These were the steps I took in order to find the comet based on the sky chart provided, and looking through my binoculars:

  1. Located the 3 starts in the Orion belt in the Orion the Hunter constellation;
  2. Found bright star Rigel at the foot of Orion;
  3. From Rigel, started to aim upwards until I found 3 "dots" formed by starts named "Cursa", "68 Eri", and "66 Eri", on the "Eridanus" constellation;
  4. Continuing traveling on Eridanus, I looked for another 3 dots comprising "Nu Eri", "c Eri", and "DZ Eri". From here, aiming the binoculars to the right of the dots and a bit up, we saw this "smudge". I was not sure if that was the comet but, after re-checking the chart several times, we had no doubt that it was comet Lovejoy. I confess I was a bit disappointed by the sight of it. Perhaps because the comet was at 4th magnitude and we were in a relatively light polluted area. We couldn't find a darker area.

I then tried seeing it through my telescope but I did not think it helped much. The details were not better and aiming at it was harder. Seeing it through the binoculars was just easier

Returning back to the same spot on Jan 9th, I followed the same path up to "Nu Eri", but now, instead of continuing right, I went up until I found yet another 3 dots: "HR 1400", "HR 1413", and "HR 1415". From here I then moved right until I found the comet again. This time tough, I brought my camera to take a picture of it. I had an equivalent of a 520mm f/4 mounted on my camera. I then realized that it was much harder to find the comet looking through the camera's view finder than it was looking at the binoculars. The binoculars was just brighter. It took me several tries to find the comet. I had to retrace my location starting back in "Rigel" several times. Fortunately, it wasn't as cold as the 1st day (30F) so I was not so uncomfortable. I also placed the camera at eye level so I wouldn't have to squat in order to aim the camera up.

Once I found the comet with my camera, I started taking pictures. A long exposure revealed a green ball on the LCD screen and that was the same image I have seen other people have taken. The picture of comet Lovejoy below was a 5.0 sec exposure at 520mm f/4 ISO 2000.

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2)

Still not the epic image of a bright comet, but the whole hunting exercise was really good at learning how to look at the sky and learning how to navigate it. I may try again to take another picture once the comet is closer to the Pleiades.

Running in Cold Weather


Really glad I run yesterday. Temperatures are getting lower and it is snowing. I remember in the past going for a run no matter what. After a lot suffering and bothering throat, I just realized it was not worth it. Better to cross train (indoors), or rest, and save the running for another day. Not only I would be at a greater risk of getting sick, but also the ice on the road can be really dangerous. I think my new rule is if it is below 30F, don't go for a run outside.

Running my Way

Following up an injury back in September/2013, where months of physiotherapy and targeted exercises followed, I am back full speed to running. Actually, I feel that my form has improved due to those exercises I had to do following up this injury. These include a lot of balancing exercises. Time will tell but I am definitely back on a regular running routine with the same weekly mileage as I used to have before.

I am also rethinking the format of this blog to be more general and not just about photography related. Coming to think of photography as another tool to tell different stories and recording life in general. And since I am focusing on running for now, I will start to include more information about it. These should help me when I look back and see how I progress.