Friday, November 20, 2015

Grasping and tearing and jumping, oh my!

Let's talk about entomology, shall we?

Today's entomology related topic goes along with my Fundamentals of Entomology class. Recently, I was working on the external workings of an insect. One thing you may be interested to know is that unlike legs, arms, and other things, insect wings are not appendages. This is because they are not solidly attached to the body, allowing them to rotate and move at high speeds, allowing the insect to take flight. The more flaps of the wing per second, the faster the insect goes, as well as the louder the buzz.

There are many (7 to be exact) different kinds of insect legs:

  • Ambulatorial - Commonly known as the walking leg. It is the most common type of leg in the insect world and it is also the least specialized. That means it as not as modifed.

  • Cursorial - Commonly seen in insects adept at running, such as tiger beetles and cockroaches, these legs are longer and more slim that ambulatorial, allowing more distance to be covered with the same muscular effort.

  • Saltatorial - Commonly seen in grasshoppers and other jumping insects. As you may have guessed, to SALTATE means to jump or leap. These legs are usually so long that they have 2 knees and are often curled up. You can see this in a grasshopper. The legs anchor the body firmly via use of claws, spine and big feet (tarsal pads). Along with the positioning of the legs at the metathorax (that is the center of the thorax), this allows for the whole body of the insect to be launched with a single leg effort.

  • Have you ever seen the front legs of a mantis? Have you ever noticed that they are like claws? This is an example of the Raptorial Legs. This is where the front legs are modified to grasp prey, while the head engorges itself on the prey. Sometimes they are even modified to cut the prey open, effectively killing it.

  • Natatorial legs are similar to swimmers' arm movements. They allow certain diving beetles to reach depths that they would not be able to otherwise. On these legs are often so called "swimming hairs" which allow the diving beetle to have as little friction as possible when diving and be able to move almost like a fish in the water.

  • Fossorial legs are often seen on mole crickets and cicada nymphs. These legs have a heavy, well aromored build up of bone (very sturdy). The legs also have large tooth projections which enable the owner of the legs to rake through soil to dislodge soil particles that they can use for food.

  • Clasping legs are very rare and are only seen in certain aquatic beetles as their front legs. These legs often have large claws and suckers to hold the female when, how do I put this? When they are mating.

That is all the types of legs. Next time we discuss bugs, we will talk about the Great Gray Slug, as well as the six different types of insect mouth parts.  I will also be telling you about my History of Rock class through University of Rochester and my UC-Irvine grammar class. See you next time on School Stories With Nick (Where school is ALWAYS in session). Thank you for reading today.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ancient Greece

Hello and welcome to my blog! Today's topic is my Greek course. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this course is about the history of Ancient Greece, not the mythology, although it does have some mythology mixed in with it. As some of you may know, I am a firm believer in the mythology of Ancient Greece.

This course, offered by Wesleyan University, is taught by Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. Homer, a great philosopher, is mentioned very early in the course. I talk a bit about him, as well as other philosophers, here. Next up on the menu is some juicy informal tidbits on the Persian Wars.

Two major events in Greek history are the Persian Wars, which took place from 499 B.C.E to 449 B.C.E., which is about 50 years.The first war was held when Persia attempted  to invade Greece, only to be humiliated at the Battle of Marathon, in which the Persian king was killed. Then, the son of the king, Xerxes I, staged another invasion of Greece to avenge his father. The Greeks lost at Thermopylae thanks to a traitorous Spartan who defected to Persia during the first war. At Salamis, however it was a different story. This was a naval battle, and the Greeks triumphed thanks in no small part to the Athenian navy. This victory was part of what would lead to Athenian tyranny...

After the wars, Athens formed the "Delian League", whose treasury was held at Delos until Peisistratos moved it to Athens (more on him shortly). The League's members paid tribute in the form of either money or ships in order to keep Greece safe from Persia, or so Athens said. The ships patrolled for a year, and then were returned to the country that donated them. The money, however, went to Athens, where it was used to build more ships for the Athenian fleet. Athens slowly began to tyrannize the League over the years, but it peaked when Peisistratos began ruling Athens. He sent League ships to punish disobedient League members, and as I said earlier, turned the League treasury into part of the Athenian treasury. His sons, Hippias and Hipparchus, continued the tyranny until they were killed and Sparta overthrew Athens and dissolved the League.

Thank you for visiting School Stories (Where School Is ALWAYS In Session!)! Please come again and be sure to tell a friend about my blog so we can get 1,000 pageviews! Don't forget that I have a reader request system! You can find out more here. Bye!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Karate Kicks

Hello and welcome to my blog today on this beautiful Tuesday afternoon. Today I will be talking about my karate class that I take at Murray's Martial Arts Centers (MMAC for short).

I started doing karate about 2 years ago. I took a break for about 9 months because of my schedule at private school, but before I took the break, I had gotten up to Advanced Yellow Belt, which is a yellow belt, except through the center, it has a black stripe. In September, I started up again at white belt. I recently tested and promoted to yellow belt, skipping advanced white due to my prior experience.

Now I will be relearning the kata called Wan Su. This is a kata where you first use Nahachi stance, which is basically a ready stance in which your feet are a shoulder's width apart, except your toes are turned inward at a 45 degree angle. It is also where you first start to use sideways punches and open hand jabs.

Recently, we learned about the most powerful kick in martial arts in the world. Sensei Leo showed us a really awesome video about it. It is a kick from Tae Kwon Do, which originated in Brazil.

This kick involves you crouching down, sticking your front foot out and touching the floor with your heel, bringing your foot back in, kicking your front foot up, and using that momentum to bring yourself up and swing your back foot around. This enables you to hit the target with a fair amount of force. A master of Tae Kwon Do used this kick to hit a training bag at a speed of 99 miles an hour (that's how fast his leg was going), which is faster than some Major League fastballs!

The kick also generated a total of 1800 pounds of force per  square inch on the spot where the foot made contact. This would basically be the equivalent of the person dropping a car on wherever he kicked you. He would be able to break bones wherever he kicked you and if he kicked you in the right place, you could sustain massive internal damage and possibly even die - from just ONE KICK.

Another person attempted to match that with a different kick from a different martial arts style and managed to move faster than 99 miles and hour, but generated a lower amount of force - about 1600 pounds per square inch. Make no mistake - that amount of force can still be deadly.

We tried this kick in karate class on Saturday, but it usually involved me falling on my butt. I did get it right once or twice, though, so that is an accomplishment.

Once again, thank you for visiting School Stories...Where school is ALWAYS in session. Tomorrow, I will be talking all about the New Hampshire primary. See you then. :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

I'm back!

Hello and welcome back to my blog! I apologize for the recent lack of posts. I have been working on other projects and have been busy helping my Grandma. In case any of you have been wondering, Grandma is doing great!

Here is the joke and it it is from How to Be the Funniest Kid in the Whole Whole Wide World (Or Just in Your Class) by Jay Leno:

Q: Why is the banana so popular?
A: It has appeal!


Let's talk about my visit with Matilda. Matilda is my cousin. I have not seen her since July and will not see her again until next summer, because she lives down south. She was visiting my Grandma, which is also her Grandma. We saw each other and played on Friday. We did my electric kit- it lights up, does a variety of noises, as well as sends a spinning disk into the air. Aside from that, we also played a two hour game of Scrabble with my Uncle Jeff. We were pretty evenly matched, which is why it took so long.

We also played with K'Nex, which is kind of like Legos, but not. It is a building material, but it uses rods and connectors of various sizes, shapes, and colors. It allows you to build a motorized cargo helicopter complete with open rear hatch and a lowering winch, as well as utilizing something called flexirods to build circular items. Matilda and I worked on building a lighthouse. She made a well-functioning shark that looked like it had a crocodile snout. She didn't even use instructions and I thought it was a really cool thing to do.

Matilda made a killer salad, by the way. Killer just means that it was delicious.

Then we went out to dinner. It was my Grandma's first time out doing something fun in more than ONE MONTH! I ate too fast and got a stomachache. Don't worry, though, as I am fine.

To wrap this little bit up, I had a lot of fun playing with Matilda and the next time I will see her will be at my cousin Alice's wedding.


Now let's talk about Git.

Git is another computer language, similar to JavaScript, Ruby and Python, but also has its own unique things. It is not as similar to English as, for example, Ruby. It is used to create transcripts for plays or even things as everyday as an exam. Let's focus on the exam example - no pun intended.

Git allows multiple users to share information and make their own edits as long as there is one person who is in control who edits the whole thing to make it complete. For example, you can have a biology teacher make a biology quiz, the history teacher make a history quiz and the physics teacher make a physics exam. Then- combining everything together - the principal can put it all together to make a quiz that focuses not only biology, but also history or physics.

Now talking about the transcript. Git is often used to create transcripts of Shakespeare plays digitally. Git makes it easy to do a little bit of work here, a little bit of work there and to save it to your base that you had established earlier. If you make edits and forget to save it and then you try to open it, then Git will say, "You made changes before. Make sure you save those changes before you continue."

Also, you can make something called commits. Commits are basically like comments to establish that you had done something, If you accidentally publish a commit that you did not intend to publish, Git makes it easy by not setting your commits in stone. If you want to delete a commit, you can, however it will also delete all commits made after the one you intended to delete.

Those are just a few examples of the massively useful computer language of Git.

Thank you for visiting School Stories (Where school is ALWAYS in session!) today. I hope you visit again tomorrow.