Hello Kitty Takes A Trip

Reading to my daughter, my mind sometimes goes on tangents from the story.  In Hello Kitty Takes A Trip, the titular character goes on a trip to the USA with some friends (and without her parents; based on behavior, she’s quite the mix of very young and very old).  But, within the US, she jumps back and forth to some rather geographically-diverse locations: New York to Nantucket to Florida to Vermont to Hawaii.  My tangent as I read this story: wondering as to whether the authors realize the enormous distances involved in such “quick jaunts”.

Knowing that Hello Kitty is supposedly a girl in England, but is Japanese in origin, I decided to use our old trusty globe to get a sense of the distances involved, and try to transpose it into a European vacation and an Asian vacation.

Getting out a piece of string and a ruler, and enlisting my daughter’s help at recording the information in a notebook (got to teach her good scientific data-gathering procedures, after all), I set to work.  Her data: “1cm 4.5cm 5cm 19cm”.  My additions: 2cm = 500mi, for reference: so about 250mi from NY to Nantucket, 1125mi from Nantucket to Florida (I picked Miami as a likely destination, since she mentioned a beach but not a theme park), 1250mi from Florida to Vermont, and 4750mi from Vermont to Hawaii.  (Google and distance.to confirm my distances to within about 10%.)

So, then I took the string, and those same distances on the globe, and moved to Europe.  I wanted to attempt vaguely similar climates, etc.  So in Europe, I found that her trip could be approximated by starting in Amsterdam, flying to Copenhagen, then to Sicily, then to Lithuania, then to Bermuda or northern Madagascar.  In Asia, she could go from Tokyo to Osaka, to Taiwan, to Beijing, then finally to the Solomon Islands (with stretch miles, she could’ve made it to Hawaii from Beijing).

Or, if she had started in New York, and just wanted the equivalent distance she had traveled through the US, she could have made a direct great-circle flight to Pakistan, or Samoa, or Shanghai.

So, that just puts into perspective how amazing Hello Kitty’s trip was.

(Thanks to http://www.distance.to/ for confirmations on distances and the final explorations to Pakistan, Samoa, and Shanghai from New York.)

about geekydad

I’m a geek, an engineer, and a dad. These pages are some of the things that come about because of one or more of those attributes. 🙂

I changed from “geek dad” to “geeky dad” for these subpages; turns out, there’s already an awesome GeekDad.com blog, which I don’t want name-confusion with. There’s a geekydad.net, but it hasn’t been active for more than a year, so I won’t bother avoiding name-confusion. Especially since I’m not trying for the domain name, just a header for these pages. 🙂

My wife homeschools our children, and she does the teaching. Sometimes she waits for Saturday morning to do the science experiments, so I can participate. And sometimes, because of a kids book they’ve read, or an idea I’ve had, I get to teach them some mathematical or scientific principal, or I come up with an experiment or demonstration (depending on the complexity or danger levels – sometimes, I get a bit too mythbustery for them to safely help).

sometimes, I just think about odd science or technology. My wife has caught me multiple times using my kids’ magna doodle, whiteboard, or chalkboard to work out some physics or stoichiometric equations … and that’s just what she’s noticed. 🙂


“PseuDoKu” = What I’m calling variants of sudoku, whether simplificiation of or extrapolation from the original.

My daughter enjoys playing the “number game” on my phone with me; I tell her where to put the next solved number (“put a 2 between the 5 and the 6 in that grey box”, etc.). I’ve thus started doing simpler grids on the chalkboard — with just a 4×4 grid, and one number missing from each row or column, and haven’t made the logic require one-of-each-per-2×2. The other day, she asked for “1 to 5” instead of “1 to 4”: since I haven’t introduced her to the boxes, the fact that 5×5 cannot have the sub-box regions is irrelevant.

Continue reading PseuDoKu

home electrolysis

I like hydrogen. And I thought it might be interesting to separate some out from water, with the hope that I could fill two balloons (one with oxygen, one with hydrogen), and later ignite them to see which gave the more interesting burn (the potential boom). After some failed setups, I decided against separate collection; besides, putting the H2 and O2 in the same container would provide a ready source of oxygen for the combustion.

Continue reading home electrolysis

duplo® photosynthesis

The kids were reading a book which mentioned photosynthesis, and they asked how it works. I gave them the quick “the plant turns sunlight, water, CO2 into sugar, which it uses for engery.” That wasn’t enough for them. SO I went to the chalkboard and did a quick stoichiometry; then I got out some handy Duplo® bricks, made some water and CO2 molecules, which I put on a Duplo® base, to act as the leaf. Our hands became the sunlight, and we … disassociated … those molecules. 🙂 Then I rebuilt them into sugar* molecules that went deeper into the plant, and O2 molecules back into the air. They seemed to like that explanation.

Continue reading duplo® photosynthesis