Thursday, July 28, 2005

Time Flies

"This thing devours all things: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal: Slays kings, ruins towns, and beats high mountains down." -- Gollum in The Hobbit

Bilbo eventually, quite accidentally, but certainly fortunately, answers "Time".

As Gollum's riddle implies, time flies. As a parent, the truth of this idiom becomes more and more evident every time I look at my 3 year old who just "yesterday" was watching the Colorado Avalanche with me in the hospital room where his mother was recovering from his birth, and every time I look at my 3 month old who just "yesterday" was watching the Denver Pioneers Hockey Team with me in the hospital room where his mother was recovering from his birth.

Its truth also hits me when I realize that my 10th wedding anniversary is coming up this year (in September) or when I realize that I am closer to 40 in age than I am to 20.

I lead a semi-charmed kind of life (thank-you Third Eye Blind for that descriptive phrase) and every day, my life gets better and better. I'm happier with a 3-year old child and 3 month old child than I was at 15, 22, or even 33. I'll be happier tomorrow than I am today. So, time flying away doesn't bother me that much.

So far, I have not reached the birthday that depresses me with the realization that I'm old. I know for some people, it comes at 30 or at 35 (I've passed both these) or 40 or 50 or 60 (I have not reached these yet). I don't think my age ever will depress me. As I said, my life keeps getting better and better and as far as I can tell it always will. I can not look into the future, so someday, my age may hit me hard, but as I said, I don't think so.

But this summer has flown by.... and I don't know how that happened. It is now almost August, and I have more summer weekend things to do than I have weekends. Here are the things I want to accomplish yet this summer:

As I write this, I have 2 August weekends unplanned, and I have 3 unscheduled activities in the list above that I have to do before the summer is over. I guess it is not an absolute necessity that Tyler and I do another "Me and my dad" camping trip this year ... we have already done one this year and we are going camping with Mommy and Connor, which is almost as good. Both my previous "Sheppy Quests" have been in September, so that can get moved to September. So, I am not yet at a panic stage for my summer leisure goals. But, I really have no time to waste.

Where did the time fly away to?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Falling Pennies

I was on the Royal Gorge Bridge a couple weeks ago. I heard a child ask his dad if he could drop a penny off the Bridge. The dad answered (correctly), "No."

I told a co-worker about that, and he said that he thought it was a myth that a penny dropped from up high (like the empire state building or the Royal Gorge Bridge) could kill someone, because it could never get going fast enough. Apparently he was under the impression that gravity will speed an object up to a certain velocity and then the penny would never go faster than that. I tried to explain that Gravity has a universal constant acceleration. Dropped from real high, the penny would accelerate at 9.8 meters/second2 until acted by another force... Like crashing into the head of a rafter. I told him that we could do the calculation to figure it out, but dropping it from high enough would cause the penny to go as fast as a bullet (and I did not know what height it would be).

He had it stuck in his head that there is a maximum speed a falling object can go at. Maybe he was thinking of the "acceleration of gravity". Acceleration and speed are not the same thing, but I am sure for people who don't think about it or never took physics probably could think of them as the same thing.

The fact is, of course, that acceleration is the rate at which velocity (speed) increases over time. So, if an object has a constant acceleration, by definition, it goes faster and faster. In fact, any object with a constant mass (like a penny) acted upon by a constant force (like gravity) will accelerate (go faster and faster).

You see, as Newton told us, Force = Mass * Acceleration , so Acceleration = Force / Mass

It has been calculated based on experimentation that the acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 meters/second2. This is a constant for all objects regardless of mass.

So, simple physics tells us that

Velocity = Acceleration * Time


Distance = Acceleration * Time2 /2

We happen to know the height of the bridge because I was just there and saw a sign that told us it was 1053 feet high. This is 321 meters.

Since we know the distance (321 meters) and the Acceleration (9.8 meters/second) , we can easily calculate the Time it takes for a penny to drop from the Bridge.

Time2 = 2 * Distance /Acceleration

Time = sqrt(2*321 / 9.8) = 8.09 Seconds.

Velocity = 9.8 * 8.09 = 79 meters / second

This is about 177 miles per hour.

incidentally, The average speed of a bullet on is about 950 m/s . It ranges anywhere from 180 to 1500 m/s. So, the penny is not going nearly as fast as a bullet. It would have to dropped from much higher to achieve even the slowest of the bullet speeds listed.

So, how much damage can a penny do at 79 meters / second?

Well, with some more simple physics, we can calculate the potential energy of a penny 321 meters in the air. We need its mass, but I was able to find on the internet that a penny's mass is 2.5 grams ( = .0025 kg

Energy = Force * distance = Mass * Acceleration * distance

Energy = .0025 kg * 321 meters * 9.8 meters/second2 = 7.8645 kg-meters 2 / second2 (kg-meters 2 / second2 is also known as a Joule)

So, at the point in time right before the speeding penny hits the ground, we know it has 7.8645 Joules of energy.

But how does that translate to damage?

Momentum = mass * velocity = .0025 kg * 79 meters / second = .198 kg meters / second

There is a conservation of Momentum, so if a speeding object with x Momentum crashes into an object with 0 momentum, the resulting sums of the objects' momentum after the crash will be x.

So let's assume that the penny's momentum is transferred to someone my size. I am about 108 kg.

.198 kg meters / second = 108 kg * Velocity.

My resulting Velocity could be .0018 meters / second = 1.8 mm / second.

Of course, I would not be pushed down. My head would absorbed part of the Momentum and the rest would end up in the penny bouncing off my head.

I've already spent too much time on this particular blog, so I will leave it at this:

My guess is that the Momentum contained in the falling penny would not be enough to seriously hurt at .198 kg meters / second. I looked at several "ask the physicist" sites and all agree this is not enough to seriously hurt someone.

And, of course, I am ignoring what is probably the most pertinent part of the discussion.
Air resistance on the penny, never allows the penny to get going faster than its terminal velocity. I won't do the calculations here, but if you want to see what they are, check out the site:

According to this is about
11 meters / second.

If everyone agrees that meters / second is not enough to do serious damage, we can certainly say that 11 meters / second would cause even less damage.

So I guess, in a way my co-worker was more correct than I was. Well, I guess you would have to say that he was completely correct and I was basically wrong, although I would have been correct on a planet the size of Earth with no atmosphere.

Maybe the dad should have told his son "Yes, go ahead".

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tyler Cowboy

I got home from work yesterday.

Tyler came up to me and said "Hi, Daddy. I'm going to be a cowboy today because it's Halloween."

I felt shocked because Halloween had really snuck up on me this year. Who knew that it could come up on July 13? I think it was the 90+ degree heat that I had just driven home in that threw me off. The weather is usually pretty cold around Halloween in Denver.

My little boy continued: "And you're Daddy Cowboy and Mommy is Mommy Cowboy and Connor is baby Cowboy."

Unfortunately, I don't own a cowboy hat, so being Daddy Cowboy might be a little hard, but I started to answer "Sweet, Tyler...."

He interrupted "No... my name is 'Cowboy'."

"Oh, ok ... Sweet, Cowboy, where is your hat?"

He ran off to get his cowboy hat before I could add that I did not know where my hat was either. 3 year olds don't walk to get their hats; they run. Or at least when they want to get their hats, they run.

While he was doing that, I climbed into the kitchen and went over to kiss my wife, saying "Hello, Mommy Cowboy."

My fast little boy was already back with his hat and said "No! That's not Mommy Cowboy! That's the Horse. And you're the Cow; And Connor is the Pig." Things change fast in my household.

Living with a 3-year-old has prepared me for such quick life-changing events, so my wife being a horse and my youngest son being a pig did not even phase me. I didn't really want to be a cow, but I've been worse. Besides, chances were pretty strong that I would improve my situation sometime before the day was over.

I leaned down to Connor ("Pig") who was in his pig bouncy chair. If you did not know that pigs could fit in bouncy chairs, you've probably never had a 3 year old and a baby at the same time. Or at least you've never had two boys like mine. "Hello Pig," I said. "Did you have a nice day?"

Pig answered "Grunt grunt grunt". I have such a smart little boy. He is only 3 months old and yet, he didn't lose a beat to play the part his brother had just bestowed upon him only seconds before.

"Daddy," said the little Cowboy, "go upstairs and take off your shoes and change your clothes." That sounded like a good idea to me, so I did that.

Tyler came upstairs with me and I asked if he wanted to go potty on his Cowboy Potty.

"Yes," he said, "because .. because ... Cowboys go PeePee on Cowboy Potties."

He went PeePee on his Cowboy Potty. I changed my clothes, and we both went back downstairs. Apparently, Cowboys are unable to walk down the last 3 steps, because he had to jump them. Cowboys like to jump... they are sort of like Tiggers in that way. He landed, and rolled, looking like a professional stunt man (a stunt man playing a Cowboy). His hat fell off, and he told me "My hat fell off, you silly horse."

I knew my situation would probably improve. I had been promoted to horse. Hurray!

"I'm a horse now?"


"Then I'm going to kiss the Mommy Horse."

"No no no!! She's not a horse, she's a Cow." Poor Mommy had been demoted... oh well ... better her than me. I kissed her anyway. I'm not sure if horses and cows should kiss, but Cowboy didn't seem to mind too much, and he is the expert.

For the rest of the day, Cowboy rode Horse; we all had Cowboy dinner; we played Cowboy trains; we read Cowboy books; the Cow fed the Pig; we went Cowboy potty; we changed into Cowboy jammies; we brushed Cowboy teeth; drank from Sider Man cup(we don't have a Cowboy cup... that was almost a disaster); and did just about every other Cowboy activity you could ever imagine. For the most part, I remained Horse; Mommy remained Cow; and Connor remained Pig.

When it was time for Cowboy bed, I asked Cowboy if he wanted a Cowboy kiss.

"I'm not Cowboy," he told me, "I'm Tyler."

Things change fast in my house.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Is anger a sin?

Jerry's Blog: Is anger a sin?

  1. A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate.
  2. Theology: Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God or A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.
  3. Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.

The famous (infamous) Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. While not biblical, this list is listed in paragraph 1866 of Catechism of the Catholic Church . So, Catholics believe (and how can 1.07 billion Catholics be wrong?) that anger is a sin.

I am not Catholic. I should not pretend to understand Catholic doctrine, so I guess I should say that my understanding is that Catholicism considers anger a sin.

Different translations replace the word "anger" with the word "wrath". Are "wrath" and "anger" the same? I don't know if Jerry's Blog would or would not consider them the same, but for my discussion I am going to say "yes". The dictionary defines wrath as forceful, often vindictive anger. Wrath is a high degree of anger, and still within the scope of our discussion.

So I say again, Catholicism teaches that Anger is a Sin. Not only would a Catholic say that Anger a sin, but that it is a Deadly Sin (Capital Sin... Unforgivable Sin... Mortal Sin). As a non-Catholic, calling anger a Deadly Sin seems pretty harsh to me considering, as Jerry accurately points out, that Jesus demonstrates anger at least twice. Jesus lived a blameless life... a life without sin. If Jesus got angry and Jesus did not sin, clearly anger is not a sin.

However, Jesus, in his sermon on the Mount (blessed are the poor in spirit ... Etc), also tells us "But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire." - Matthew 5:22

"Liable to the hell of fire" sounds pretty Deadly to me. I'm not sure how to reconcile this particular passage ("every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment") with Jesus (our model of morality) violently overturning carts and wrathfully confronting merchants, but I have to say that I agree with Jerry (and disagree with the Catholic assertion that anger is a Deadly Sin).

Clearly anger is not a sin (Jesus got angry).
Some actions that result as manifestations of anger are clearly sins, but I don't see how we can say the anger itself or even justified actions resulting from anger are sins (Jesus justly attacked people to get his point across)

So, why is anger widely considered a Deadly Sin? There are many examples of destructive anger, but it is important to separate the anger from the resulting action. Or is it?

Anger is a choice we make about a given situation. When my little boy dumps water out of the tub, my initial reaction is anger. I want to yell at him. But, if my heart were truly at peace with God's love, I could react to the situation with humor or kindness or understanding. I don't have to be angry. I am angry because I do not like what Tyler did, and I feel superior enough to him that I am able to pass some sort of judgment on his actions. It is my job to patiently steer him along the path of right and wrong, but that does not have to be done in the spirit of anger.

In other words, anger belongs to the righteous. (I stole that sentence from When I choose anger, I am choosing an emotion that presupposes that I am in some way able to judge others. Judging is not my job, it is God's job.

I am not righteous. I sin everyday. Everyone sins. Every Saint sinned. If you are a human being, you are a sinner. If this were not the case, God would not have sent his only Son to die for our sins. Jesus is righteous. He is God. He passes judgment as he sees fit and therefore is entitled to be angry when he finds merchants in his Father's house. To say I am allowed to be angry because Jesus was angry, isn't really a valid argument.

But what about when we see people hurting other people? I am extremely angry (and sad) when I see terrorist attacks on the news. Certainly, patience and understanding are not the proper response to such heinous crimes. What is wrong with being angry at people who murder or rape or hurt other people? Am I righteous enough to pass judgment on these acts but not righteous enough to pass judgment on a guys who cuts me off in traffic?

So, is anger a Sin? I don't know. I really don't. Reading this whole Blog without any kind of conclusion is enough to make you angry, isn't it?

Just a little side note that doesn't really add to the discussion:
Dante places the wrathful in Terrace 3 of Purgatory where they are punished by walking around in "thick acrid smoke that is darker than night". While unable to see with their eyes, they suffer hallucinatory visions in which they witness examples of meekness (the virtue opposite of anger) and then "see" examples of anger.