O Nyan Nyan Nyan

Our Christmas tree is up on deck! It’s our third Christmas on this houseboat. Last night we put the best ornament on top of the tree!

nyan cat treetop

Then we sang a carol to our tree… SEVERAL TIMES.

O Nyan nyan nyan, O nyan nyan nyan! Nyan nyan nyan nyan, nyan nyan nyan!
O Nyan nyan nyan, O nyan nyan nyan! Nyan nyan nyan nyan, nyan nyan nyan!
Nyan nyan nyan nyaaaaaan! Nyan nyan nyan nyan!
Nyan nyan nyan nyaaaaaan! Nyan nyan nyan nyan!
O Nyan nyan nyan, O nyan nyan nyan! Nyan nyan nyan nyan, nyan nyan nyan!

I haven’t wrapped presents yet and I don’t think we’re having much of a big deal for xmas itself since Moomin will be in NYC. But I’m glad we have a festive tree and lots of lights on deck.

Anyway! Enjoy some awesome Original Nyan Cat video…

If you missed that whole thing then here’s the explanation.

Nyan Cat, also known as Pop Tart Cat, is an 8-bit animation depicting a cat with the body of a cherry pop tart flying through outer space. While such absurd themes like flying kittens and pastry cats have been around for some time, the surreal humor behind this particular combination has captivated YouTubers and online art communities, spawning dozens of fan illustrations as well as receiving some mainstream coverage in April 2011.

I love it that my kid understands silly Internet memes and has a great sense of humor… In fact I’ve been using Nyan Cat to remind him to do his homework, so that instead of nagging him I just start playing the Nyan song!

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DNA singalong

Tonight Moomin showed me a bunch of YouTube videos with songs about DNA. His teacher had emailed last week to say that everyone in the class should be studying for a big test and should be able to explain what chromosomes, DNA, genes, traits, amino acids, proteins, nucleotides (sugar, phosphate, 4 bases), and codons are, and how they are related. Moomin drew me a diagram of all of their relationships and explained it very well to me!

Then we watched the DNA replication song, which some teenagers made at 4am to the tune of a song by the Backstreet Boys:

So awesome!!!

And the DNA song, which is very corny but also great:

It turns out there are a TON of silly videos and songs about DNA, mitosis, and all sorts of subjects, mostly made by students sometimes for school projects and sometimes just to make studying more amusing. I love it that Moomin’s teacher shows them this sort of thing in class, especially the videos made by other kids!

dna replication diagram

A while back Moomin had to write a 2000 word short story about organelles. I had a really good time reading it and editing it. It was probably the longest continuous work he’s ever tried to write, and so I helped by typing what he had, printing it out, and then editing it as I would anyone else’s manuscript, picking out places ripe for expansion and suggesting points where whole new scenes could be developed. I noticed that where my impulse would be to describe the scenery and create an emotional atmosphere with landscape, he invariably would create a scene by making characters actually do something and talk to each other to express their capabilities and personality. I wonder what we could have done with an organelle role playing game!

Two of his classmates came over the other night, saw the houseboat, had pizza, and they all discussed their debate topic for 2 hours straight. They have to argue the “pro” side for genetic screening for newborns. They thought of pro and con points, how to argue them, and planned who would do which parts of the debate. I only listened in a little bit but I was impressed with their ability to actually work together.

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Posted in Parenting, Projects, School, Science | Tagged , , , | 56 Comments

Minor acts of heroism

I gave Moomin all the swag I brought him from GeekGirlCon, and after plowing through a big stack of comic books he got very excited at three of them. “Mom! These are the best comic books EVER!!!” They were the three printed issues of Minor Acts of Heroism, which you can read as a webcomic too! He couldn’t quite describe why he liked them, because he was reading them all over again for the third time.

“Three young kids deal with life, love, water monsters, teleportation, super science, and all the other crazy stuff that comes along with being superheroes.”

minor acts of heroism cover issue 1

From the look of them and all the laughing the minor heroes must be a bit sarcastic, Percy Jackson style. Moomin liked the alternate pages and the extra sketches and info in the back and tomorrow morning is probably going to faint when I show him the trivia pages.

We are up to the Beorn chapter of The Hobbit (which I read to him years ago, but it’s ever better now.) He likes the funny bits. (Of course I always liked the horrible bits best.)

In other news, Moomin is writing a short story for scienc class, called The Organelle Adventures, where all the characters are parts of a cell.

It was an average day in Cell City, Animalia. Mike the Plasma Membrane was standing guard. Nicky the Nucleus was reading the book of DNA.

I can’t wait to see how this story goes. It’s not done, but the character descriptions completely rock and remind me of Moomin’s dad’s role-playing game character summaries.

I should have brought Moomin to GeekGirlCon but had no idea it was going to be so awesome. More about the con later! Anyway, the comic books are signed (so cool!) and I showed Moomin the photo of their creators, who were super fun to talk with about comics and feminism.

Minor Acts of Heroism creators!

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Hula hooping lasso trick

This summer Moomin mastered hula hooping with two or three hoops. It looks so cool! I wish I could do it!

getting his arms under the hoop

master of three hoops

Hooping in Dolores Park

milo with two hula hoops

He also learned a cool trick move from his aunt Minnie. You reach around behind your back and grab the hoop, then spiral it up above your head and somehow magically keep it going WHILE ALSO SOMEHOW keeping the other hoop going. Moomin picked up how to do this on his second try and then after a few more tries, could do it fairly smoothly. Impressive!

What can I say. He certainly didn’t get this talent from me!

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Dubstep pop and lock dance video

Moomin loved this video and I did too! The dancer is called Nonstop and is part of the group Remote Kontrol. He is amazingly good at the kind of pop and lock that imitates computer and animated film effects. You can see places where he rewinds, strobes, does slow motion or speeds up, and just plain looks unnatural like an avatar in Second Life or a video game. No special effects though — all dance!

We watched this a few times in a row. I felt a little bit like I was hallucinating, watching him.

three images of the dancer named Nonstop

Moomin is in a pop and lock class at his dance studio and thinks the stuff about isolation is interesting, but it isn’t his style and he prefers hip hop to breakdancing.

While I watched more of Nonstop’s videos I thought of rehab exercises and moving underwater. Though I will never dance like this I think of the motion of walking and gait in the way I imagine a dancer might, concentrating on all the little muscles and how I’m balancing.

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The boring parent

For the past few weeks I’ve been injured and/or ill, and not the most entertaining parent. The most I was able to do was drive Moomin to the library. For a few weekends we just laid around reading. We both read a bunch of Warriors books, the Percy Jackson series, the Five Ancestor series by Jeff Stone, and Moomin read The Golden Compass, The Blue Hawk, some Elfquest and One Piece Shonen Jump comics (which are very good!)

One Piece follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a 17-year-old boy who gains elastic abilities after inadvertently eating a supernatural fruit, and his diverse crew of pirates, named the Straw Hat Pirates. Luffy explores the ocean in search of the world’s ultimate treasure known as the One Piece and to become the next Pirate King. On his journey, Luffy battles a wide variety of villains and makes several friends.

I also read about 12 Georgette Heyer books which were on sale for $1.99 each for the Kindle.

We played this typing game and Moomin spent lots of time reading the Justice League and Warriors web sites. I showed him how to start a Tumblr. (We’ll see!) Most of the time though, honestly I just hid in my bed and tried to make time pass. It was hard to cope. The big highlight of the day was going up onto the roof to sit in the sun on sleeping bags and read up there.

On deck

It was a good highlight as it’s beautiful on the roof of the boat. You can see that being sick and cranky doesn’t make my hair look any less awesome….

On deck

Last weekend I felt well enough to go out. We hung out in Oakland with my friends and their twin 3 year olds which might not have been thrilling for Moomin except that it was a board game party with brownies and pizza. Now my friends have the highest thumbs up ranking despite having tiny incoherent rugrats who talk about pee and stickers all day. He might even have thought the rug rats were kind of cute and creative…

On Sunday we drove to the Musee Mecanique which he hadn’t even been to. Ambitious since it is at Fisherman’s Wharf and I would have to find somewhere to park and use my wheelchair in unknown territory, in a crowd. This plan worked out really well though! There was (expensive) parking right next to the pier with the museum. In fact it was valet parking and with the validation from a nearby restaurant it only cost $12.00 for a few hours — really not bad!

Moomin was amazed at Fisherman’s Wharf and thought it barely even looked like San Francisco. People from out of town might think that’s what San Francisco is but to him SF means the Mission District and Bernal Heights, the Zoo, and downtown. He was struck by the similarity to Jeju Island (I assume the touristy bits of Jeju) right down to the expensive fish sticks and people busking all around the harbor. We looked at the battleship and the submarine (from the outside) and then hit the Musee Mecanique. Moomin was shocked … VERY shocked… that I got $20 in quarters. That is EIGHTY quarters! How can anyone spend 80 quarters!?

We slowly worked our way through the strange mechanical arcade games. We both really liked the baseball game from 1937, which kept score and was fun to play. Moomin and I both also liked the Snake Eats Snake mutascope peep show. I did all the scandalous peep show machines of ladies from 1898 in their underwear. We watched a huge array of very creepy puppets dance around or be executed or rescue people from burning buildings.


Then we hit the back of the building where the 80s arcade and pinball machines were. Hyperball and the Indiana Jones pinball game were both excellent! For the Indiana Jones one, you fire your pinball by pulling the trigger of a fake pistol.

Milo playing Phoenix

I got the high score on Phoenix, losing my cool at one point to yell at Moomin for reaching into my game and putting my forcefield on. Arcade game etiquette, dude!!! Then nearly ruined my entire arm trying to impress him with my PacMan skills.

Moomin explained to me at length in the car about how he has never really liked video games. I told him how when he was little I would try to get him to have fun playing simple games, but it would just stress him amazingly. Anything with a time limit or where you could fail, he would break into an actual sweat and would start to freak out. But then after playing Plants vs. Zombies and a few other things, he realized he likes and hates particular kinds of games. Anything that’s from a first person (limited or omniscient) perspective, he hates, which rules out any sort of shooter game or things like Super Mario Brothers, or anything where you run around and explore with a character. He likes games where you are more like a general controlling lots of different things or characters at once and it’s more about strategy, and if you decide what to do with different resources he likes it even more. Is this kid ripe to play Civilization or what!?

Anyway, our San Francisco adventure was a nice trip. I’m thinking of buying the Kids’ Guide to SF again (the last one got juice spilled on it in the car & grew a coat of mold). Then Moomin could pick exciting stuff to do during the times when I feel up to going out. I’d like to come more to San Francisco and explore it with him as we might explore a strange city while traveling. It balances our inevitable weekends of nothing-but-reading!

arm wrestling robot

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Reading Gilgamesh

Today I picked up Moomin and we went to the community center pool for the afternoon. I got a ton of work done while he messed around in the pool and read one of the Redwall books, then I played Marco Polo for a while and threw diving sticks for him and some other kids to fetch. For a while they were my robot dolphin transformer superhero assassins and it was the perfect game since all I had to do was sit there and throw things.

Marco Polo was better than boring old physical therapy. I like to play it with more elaborate rules, with “fish out of water”, and the rule where if the person who’s It says “Marco Polo” everyone has to freeze until It moves or calls out “Marco” again. Squid‘s daughter Iz taught me another rule where if someone’s out of the water but touching, you can call “mermaid” and they’re caught.

Moomin had his dance practice, and I was able to work from the dance studio too since I can still work offline. But it was handy to still be online through my phone and tethering! It’s seriously awesome to have reliable net access on my laptop wherever I have phone coverage.

Back on the boat I had to do a lot of tidying and moving things, because the boat owner had come earlier in the week to power-wash the deck, and everything from the deck and pilothouse was in the main cabin and bedrooms. Sleeping bags, jackets, toys, boxes of things, bags full of bags, shoes for me and Moomin and A. and Oblomovka, fishing rods, extra blankets, flowerpots… It is still all over the place. I gossiped with our neighbors, who invited us to sail next week and told me about a new kind of powerful longlasting expensive electric outboard engine with a lithium-ion battery. Another neighbor talked about wanting to learn to sew and make canvas and start a business.

Moomin laid on the couch on the deck reading Whales on Stilts for the nth time, giggling. He laughed all the way through it. Dinner for him was a corn dog, some carrots, strawberries, and bread and butter. I didn’t have dinner because I’m having stomach problems from taking too many Advil-like pills for pain and it hurts to eat and lie down. Walking more and trying to be more active and exercise is going well, but still hurts a lot. Anyway, I’m hungry, but would rather sleep and not be in pain than eat! I’m not sleeping (yet) because I resolved to blog more in the next month (inspired by going to the BlogHer conference and realizing I miss simply documenting what we do, how we live, and what I’m reading and thinking.)

Gilgamesh book cover

Tonight we read from Gilgamesh. I had forgotten that every other chapter talks about prostitutes… oops. Before we read it Moomin noticed that the back of the book said it’s 1500 years earlier than Homer and since we had The Odyssey right there we had fun making the books talk to each other. “Aw yeah The Odyssey I OWN YOU… ” Moomin enjoyed telling me everything he remembered about Gilgamesh from Cartoon History of the Universe (the best book ever!). He pictures Gilgamesh as a tyrant oppressing the people, and kind of a warmonger. He also talked about Enlil, the god of wind. So in the book — the Herbert Mason version — Gilgamesh did sound like a spoiled and horrible king. “Actually, so far, Gilgamesh is a total jerk,” Moomin commented as Gilgamesh slept with all the virgins in the Temple, worked the people to death building the walls of Uruk, and whined about how lonely and bored he was to his mother. “Poor, poor, king!” (sarcastic.)

Gilgamesh continued to be a jerk on the way to the battle at the forest of Humbaba. “It probably wasn’t even a monster… it was just like, he wanted to go to war and pillage some tribes, totally at random!” Enkidu doesn’t want to go but Gilgamesh *was* warmongering and totally careless. “War! Totally fun! Let’s go chop down all the cedars for totally NO REASON!” Then he hesitates to go first and then when Enkidu is being attacked, doesn’t step forward properly to save his friend. Let’s not forget too that Humbaba is made out to be sort of the Caliban of the Sumerian gods, their slave who builds their buildings because of his great strength. “Well, he’s kind of like a superhero going to fight evil, I guess, in his mind.” “Yeah sure mom.. a JERK superhero!” I don’t know if anything can really rescue the story at this point! Why didn’t I realize before what a butthead Gilgamesh was? When I was Moomin’s age (and older) I liked tales of kings and warriors!

I liked the part in Mason’s version about Gilgamesh thinking over his mom Ninsun’s interpretations of his dreams and call for the gods to protect him as he and Enkidu are on the way to fight Humbaba.

Her words still filled his mind
as they started their journey,
just as a mother’s voice is heard
sometimes in a man’s mind
long past childhood
calling his name, calling him from sleep
or from some pleasurable moment
on a foreign street
when every trace of origin seems left
and one has almost passed into a land
that promises a vision or the secret
of one’s life, when one feels almost god enough
to be free of voices, her voice
calls out like a voice from childhood,
reminding him he once tossed in dreams.

Good quote to stick on a mom blog, isn’t it?

Anyway, I think Gilgamesh was experiencing daytime parahypnagogia, along with his obvious sleep disorder!

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Manatees and ponies in Se