Cat + Blanket = Cuteness

We’re in a global pandemic, without competent national leadership, and American society is tearing itself apart. However, at least you get to see this cute picture my wife took of Hexagon the Cat hiding in a blanket, right?

hexagon

A Compound of the Rhombic Triacontahedron and a Truncation of the Icosahedron

Stellated Dual Morph 50.0%

In the compound above, the yellow hexagons are not quite regular, which is why I’m calling the yellow-and-orange polyhedron a truncation of the icosahedron, rather than simply the truncated icosahedron. I stumbled upon it while playing with Stella 4d, which you may try for free at http://www.software3d.com/Stella.php.

Microsoft, the Misfit

Fact One: Microsoft’s trading symbol is “MSFT.”
Fact Two: If you try to pronounce “MSFT,” it sounds like “misfit.”
Conclusion: We must never call this company “Microsoft,” ever again. “Misfit” is its name, from now on.

On Leaving the Brick-and-Mortar Classroom

I’ve been a high school teacher for the last 25 years. I’m also leaving the classroom — but I’m not leaving teaching. Next year will be my 26th year teaching, and I’ve been told that I’ll be teaching on-line, from an office.

screensharing

This is how we all taught during the fourth quarter of the last school year, except we did it from home, since brick-and-mortar schools shut down, all over the world, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We used screensharing in Google Hangouts (shown above), Google Classroom, e-mail, and lots of other things to finish the school year . . . and we did finish it, successfully. This year, teachers won’t be at home (unless things change, due to the coronavirus), but many of our students will be staying home.

After I’d finished everything up for the 2019-2020 year, I went to school to turn in my keys. At that point, it was obvious that we were likely to have some sort of dual-track system for 2020-2021, with some students receiving instruction at school, and others at home, remotely, using their district-issued Chromebooks. I told my principal that if we did end up doing such a system, that I wanted to be on the “home team.” I don’t want to have to go to school and risk COVID-19 infection, which could then be spread to my family, some of whom are in high-risk groups for this disease. I’ve now received confirmation that I will be a remote-learning instructor next year, presumably working with students from all over the district.

I’m going to miss my old school, both the Sylvan Hills High North Campus and the Sylvan Hills High Main Campus. Sylvan Hills taught me a lot about being a better teacher. As a result, I’m leaving with an improved ability to help students, compared to six years ago, when coming to Sylvan Hills from other schools. My principals at these two campuses deserve a lot of the credit for this. I’ve worked with many administrators over the years, and these two are the ones who have helped me the most in my efforts to become a better teacher.

The coming year will present many challenges. To teach effectively, you have to get to know your students. We’ll be doing instruction and discussions with computers, webcams, microphones, and speakers, so I’m going to have to make a lot of adjustments to get to know my students as real people, while teaching remotely for a full year. The end of the last school year gave me a lot of experience I can build on.

This next year should be interesting, and I am looking forward to it.

My Predicted 2020 Presidential Electoral Map

I’m predicting that Joe Biden will win a slim electoral majority, as well as a large popular-vote advantage, over Donald Trump.

election 2020

In this particular scenario, the swing states all go for Trump, except for Arizona and Florida, which Biden wins. Both Arizona and Florida have large elderly populations, and I don’t think they’re much caring for the way Trump is treating them as disposable people when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you would like to make your own prediction-map, the website to visit to do so is www.270towin.com.

Cubes Made of Lux Blox

What is a cube? That’s a simple question, and I thought it had a simple answer . . . until I took on the project of building cubes with Lux Blox. Lux can be bought at this website, but one thing you won’t find there, or in shipments of Lux, are directions. This was a little frustrating at first, but I understand it now: the makers of Lux don’t want directions getting in the way of customers’ creativity.

A cube has six square faces. This is the six-piece Lux model based on that statement.

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This first cube model is interesting, but it is also severely limited. Lux Blox connect at their edges, and all edges in this model are already used, joining one face to another. The model has no openings where more can be attached, and added to it.

Next, I made a cube out of Lux Blox which is open, in the sense that more Lux Blox can be attached to it. It also has an edge length of two.

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Besides the openness of this model to new attachments, it also has another characteristic the smaller cube did not have: it can be stretched. If you take two opposite corners of this model and gently pull them away from each other, here’s what you get:

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Stretching a cube in this manner creates a six-faced rhombic polyhedron known as a parallelopiped.

The third cube model I’ve built of Lux Blox uses Lux Trigons in addition to the normal square-based Lux Blox.

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In this model, the black pieces in the center are the Lux Trigons — twelve of them, occupying the positions of twelve of the twenty faces of an icosahedron. The other eight faces are where the orange triangles (or triangular prisms, if you prefer) are attached. The orange triangles mark the eight corners of a cube. This model has pyritohedral symmetry — the symmetry of a volleyball — as I hope this last picture, a close-up of this third type of cube, helps to illustrate.

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