Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
It was also Webb Family Weekend, so most of us spent our time on the gorgeous Webb campus on the LI Sound, with great food, and fun events. A new Model Cutter was dedicated. (I must admit that I thought they were dedicating a model cutter; it was actually a device that cuts models--a model cutter--I kept laughing to myself about the mistake as the machine was demonstrated). And thanks to a couple of seniors, Grannie got to see a demonstration of a propeller in the 90ft model tank! We took a video, but she does not know how to get it off her camera. ;) A fascinating article (with photos) featuring Webb's unique marine engineering facility is here.
But this was the highlight of the weekend (click on the picasa symbol to view the complete slideshow in full screen format)
The main event was the Freshman Wind Powered Design Challenge. The freshmen were divided into 5 teams (there are 19 students) and challenged to build a sailboat that actually sails using plywood, a tarp, duct tape, an aluminum pole, zip ties, and up to 10 tubes of caulk. This was their first design project, and, after only 4 weeks of naval architecture classes, they had one week to design and build their boats, putting what they have learned to practical use.
On Sunday, at 10:30 am, with all our family members present, the boats were launched on the sound. The canon sounded the start of the race, and the boats were off. There was a fine wind, but a strong incoming tide, and several boats were swept away to the west side of the quay, never to recover. One boat sank, but the crew were expertly rescued (there was, of course, little danger in calm seas so close to shore) T's team had the advantage of the windward starting position, and two very good sailors as crew. After 21 minutes of very difficult sailing (and bailing) the good ship Felicia came back to shore, victorious; in fact Felicia was the only ship that finished the course. It was a true Swallows and Amazons day!
An outstanding brunch followed.
L was there for the race, but missed the previous day because she was performing in the season opener of the New Juilliard Ensemble. The NY Times has a review today, and a photo of the ensemble (L is under the bassist's elbow). We were disappointed that we missed the performance, but we figured there would only be one opportunity to participate in Webb Family Weekend while T is a Freshman...but there will be many more concerts. (Many, many more concerts!)
Sunday, September 12, 2010
We were blessed to be invited to Great Vespers at a Russian Orthodox church last evening. We were actually enjoying the good food at the church fair, when Don struck up a conversation with the deacon, and he invited us to stay for the service. It was just beautiful. Of course, the church was decorated with icons in the Orthodox tradition, and there were real lit candles and incense. The music was subtly glorious, with the priest and deacon chanting the prayers, and a small but well-practiced choir singing the responses in polyphony.
Friday, September 10, 2010
The lowly Jerusalem artichoke, neither an artichoke, nor from Jerusalem, is a great native plant to grow in the northeast. It is actuallya cousin of the sunflower, and often grows just as tall, but with several small flowers on each stalk. That might be the beauty of the JA, but the real value of growing them lies underground. Beneath the tall flowering stems lie the tubers, uglier than potatoes, but delicious, with a hint of the flavor of artichokes (thus, the name). Best of all, for those with diabetes, they may be used in lieu of potatoes as the starch breaks down into fructose rather than glucose.
Recipes and more info are here: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/index.php?item=2023
I look forward to harvesting these tasty tubers after the first frost. Right now, I am cutting off their little flower heads. Unfortuantely, they make a poor cut flower, killing themselves off by acidifying thier own water very quickly. Annika, having studied biology and begining chemistry, suggested that we find a way to neutralize the acid. We tried baking soda in the water, and it workd rather well; the flowers kept for several days. This is an easy demonstration for the kids to try--one vase (use a clear bottle or vase for best viewing) with baking soda, and one without. The water without the baking soda turns a nasty, acidic brown very quickly. The one with baking soda remains clear. If you do not stir the water after adding the baking soda, the acid forms a brown layer over the clear water. Make sure the stems are in the clear part for longest lasting blooms. The acidic water, after a few days, begins to small like a marsh--lots of decay going on in there!
We cut the flowers off so that the energy produced by the plant is stored in tubers rather than spent on flower production. We discard most of the flowers, but thanks to Annika's good idea, we now decorate the house with these lovely Jerusalem artichoke flowers!