Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Copernican Principle Calculator

Have you ever wondered how long humanity will survive? Or how long your neighbor will wait to cut the grass in the front yard? Or how long Kim Kardashian will remain married to Kanye West? Well, there is an app for that. Okay, maybe not an app just yet (maybe coming soon?). But you can navigate over to my new "Copernican Principle Calculator" and find out how long anything will last. I didn't invent the technique. You can read all about the history of the Copernican Principle elsewhere. However, I do create this little calculator, which applies the technique to predict the minimum and maximum time you can expect something -- anything -- to last. All you need to know is how long it has existed so far. Predict how long your current romantic relationship will last! Or how long you'll keep driving that old car! See what you can discover. For a great, detailed discussion of how the Copernican Principle can be used, read this 2018 article by Will Koehrsen.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pinewood Derby 2013

Three cool carsTwo cool carsMy late night project, with Boy Scouts seal"You mean the boys are finally finished racing?"Jude's car is third from left. I think he finished 3rd here.Jude's car is far right. Finished second or third here.
Jude gets a charge out of basketball."Why's everyone looking at my hair?"Original concept art by Jude for 2013 Pinewood Derby carConcept taking shape.Ruby at the racesPit Row at the 2013 Pinewood Derby
Jude's 2013 Pinewood Derby car - named "The End"Skull / Ghost logo on front by JudeJude chose the number 67 for his car"The End" car - side viewThe End - front view

Pinewood Derby 2013, a set on Flickr.

Another year and another fun Pinewood Derby in Pensacola. Jude's car finished in above-average position in each of the six heats (6 cars in each of the 6 races). His car (named "The End") finished 2nd twice and 3rd three times. More importantly, he had a great time making the car with me and playing with his Cub Scout pals at the event.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pinewood Derby 2012

The Finish LineMay the Force be with Jude's landspeederRuby's balloonRuby with "mouse ears"Pre-race line-upBefore the race
Close-up of the landspeeder coming down the trackJude's landspeeder wins!Jude's landspeeder wins again!Landspeeder goes airborneJude's Star Wars landspeeder wins a third race!Racing on the spare track
Most Original Design - Star Wars landspeeder

Pinewood Derby 2012, a set on Flickr.

Photos of Jude and Ruby at the local 2012 Pinewood Derby in Pensacola, Florida, for Pack 608.

Jude's Star Wars landspeeder Pinewood Derby car

Jude and I built a Pinewood Derby race car this week. He decided he wanted a Star Wars design. Then, he decided, specifically, on the Luke Skywalker landspeeder. He helped with sanding, painting, and wheel attachment. He did a great job on the paint color mixing and painting the main parts of the design.

The car finished third overall in his age group (Tiger Cubs) and won the Most Original Design award. He gets to go to the district competition next, since he was in the top three.

We were mostly just aiming to make this car look cool. But, his car was surprisingly fast, getting off to a huge lead in the first run, and finishing first in three of the five runs his car completed, and a close second in the other two. (Someone accidentally removed a shim under the track before one of his heats, creating a bump in the track that sent his car flying through the air, off the track. I don't think they re-ran that heat, but I'm not sure why.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oil slick threatens Gulf coast

PBS Newshour just ran a great story on the status of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster that's unfolding daily.

"Crews in the Gulf of Mexico began to burn parts of an oil slick from last week's rig explosion that is now threatening the coastline. Judy Woodruff talks to two experts about the challenges of stopping the leak and getting rid of the oil spill."

You can also download the MP3 of the report.

CNN has good overall coverage. Latest news: "The oil spill from last week's deadly rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has increased to 5,000 barrels a day -- five times more than the original estimate...."

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Ruby and Me on a snowy day

Have you seen this great photo of Ruby and me?

Ruby and me at the Wyndmoor train station in Chestnut Hill.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

End of winter update 2010

The Barger family had a great time in the record-breaking snowstorms this winter in Philly. This week, as winter is turning to spring, we headed out to Hershey on a family road trip. We had a great time. The kids loved the Chocolate World tour ride (see photo).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall 2009 - another infrequent update

I haven't had much time for blog updates, so here's a quick summary of what's up. My summer job at a mass torts firm provided some great insight into the practice of law and some great practical experience.

Now, I'm in my third year of law school (a.k.a. 3L). I'm taking the following courses: Taxation, Bankruptcy, Criminal Procedure, Cyberspace Law, and a clinical program at SEPTA's Tort Litigation department.

In the SEPTA clinical, I've been representing SEPTA in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, in arbitration proceedings. I won my first case last week. It's a great experience, because they let fill the entire lawyer role at the arbitration, including the opening statement, calling witnesses, questioning, cross-examination, raising and defending objections, and closing arguments.

Charline, Jude, and Ruby are doing fine.

Ruby's getting better and better at communicating. She loves to open books and "read" them aloud, making up cute stories about the pictures. She's also great at making up stories while she's lying in bed, just before falling asleep. One recent story was about a family of dogs who find and befriend a baby dragon. Great stuff.

Jude has developed some strong martial arts skills, especially his roundhouse kick, which he figured out on his own. He and Ruby still like Scooby Doo more than anything else, but Jude is getting more interested in super heros every day. He has some Spiderman and Batman and Superman books. He wants some Flash and Red Tornado (an obscure DC character) comics next. Jude's still going to pre-school at the co-op, which he loves.

Charline has been doing some work as a board member for the Maternal Wellness Center, which she really enjoys. Of course, she always has her hands full at home, with Ruby and Jude. She continues to manage the blog also.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My other blog

Did I mention that I have another blog page at I don't know if it's any better or if I'll use it more. But, it's there.

An Update

Since I haven't posted in a while, here's an update. I'm getting ready for the third and final year of law school (the "3L") year. I'm working at a mass torts law firm in Florida for the summer, with travel to Philadelphia a few times, for cases in federal and state courts there. Charline, the kids, and the dog came to Florida with me. They're having fun at the local beaches and parks. Jude and Ruby are learning to swim.

In my final year of law school, I'm going to earn course credit for working at SEPTA, in the tort claims division, and at the Bucks County District Attorney's office. These clinicals are going to provide some excellent hands-on education, and will help me decide exactly which branch of law I want to practice.

Lately, I've been using twitter ( and facebook ( a bit more. And, I've opened a Google Voice account (you can call me from a button on All very useful tools.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jude explains Muffin Land and a fast shadow

I have some old notes about Jude stuff I need to post, so here it is... (There will be more about Ruby as she continues to learn how to express herself and get around and do Ruby things.)

Jude Notes:

Jude said...

Jude was looking for his "blue green duck dinosaur" and he said...

"Maybe it's in the universe.
Or, maybe it's on the planet Nowhere.
Or, maybe it's in Muffin Land.
Muffin Land is on the bobbdum of the earth. Muffins in Muffin Land can fly, because they have wings. But, the muffins don't have any bones. They just have head bones. They cannot see where they are going."

I said I would like to go to Muffin Land someday. Jude said...

"You can't go to Muffin Land, because it is very far away."

I said maybe I could go there on a big ship. Jude said...

"But a ship would be too slow. If you had a dragon, you could fly to Muffin Land, because dragons can fly very, very far. Dragons can fly for 20 and a half miles."

I said it would be really fun to fly to Muffin Land on a dragon. I think that's what I'll do. Jude said...

"You should bring a coat, because it's very cold down there on the bobbdum of the earth in Antarctica."

MORE Jude Notes:

rat wolf... did a pig sound, then a chicken, then made a crazy sound... "That's a rat wolf," he said.

"Not exactly."
Said he saw his shadow and ran... "Did you get away from it?" I asked.

He paused and said very seriously, "Not exactly."

He went on to explain... "...and it was riding on a little bike and it went (zoom) right past me.
and then it was riding backwards."

He's also talked about something called a "rat plane... waits for all the children to get on...
...then takes off... ...has a big dance room..."

STILL MORE Jude Notes:

"In the aquarium they have little holes that go in the water and i put the crayon in there and I put a toy shark in there... and a beetle car. A REAL ONE."


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ruby's words

Lately, Ruby loves to use her sign language for "monkey." Anytime anyone says "monkey," she smiles and does the sign -- which is sort of like a gorilla, beating its chest -- and makes a little monkey sound.

Jude's quote of the day

"I'm going to kick you out of the universe on Sunday!" -- said with his pseudo-angry, scrunched-up nose expression and while flexing Hulk-style.

Later the same day...

"I'm going to kick you off the planet on Saturday!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ruby's antics

Lately, Ruby has been getting really aggravated anytime someone tells her "no, no" or "no touch." She immediately stops what she's doing, but she also looks right at you and starts to cry. It's really hard to maintain one's resolve in the face of that.

Mostly, though, she's a happy, smiling, little angel. I guess that's why it's sort of funny to Charline and me when she make a fuss over simply being told "no."

She loved swinging at the playground yesterday. And, she ran all over the place, very independently, without worrying at all about how far away she was getting or where she was going.

Did I mention her "chicken dance?" Adorable stuff. Anytime she hears someone say "chicken," even in passing, she starts to do her chicken impersonation. Hilarious.

Jude's quote of the day

This is actually a quote from a while back, which I just remembered...

Jude: "Did you say that, or did I say it?"

Jude's Blue-Eared Crab

While we were talking in the kitchen today, Jude said "I have something to tell you Dada. I love you." And, of course I told him I love him too. Then, he said "And I have something else to tell you. When I was four [note: he's currently only 3 1/2 years old], I ate a blue eared crab."

I asked him about this blue eared crab and he described it.

"It has five legs and it eats sharks and it can eat things that are bigger than it is." [This last part was obviously inspired by something we saw in one of his fish books recently, about a deep-sea creature that eats things larger than itself.]

He then went on to describe the orange-eared crab, which is 20 1/2 feet high, and the gray-eared crab, which has four legs. He had other details about them, which I've already forgotten.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

It's not the moon. It's not the movie. It's just us.

The Barger family went over to the town of Media today, to visit an arboretum, visit a town festival, and see an outdoor showing of the movie "Cars" on a baseball field.

After the arboretum, and after a walk through the town, we were headed back to our van and we saw the half-moon in the sky. The sky was still bright, but the moon was vivid. Charline and I pointed it out to Jude, who always appreciates moon sitings. He and talked about why we only saw half of it.

Then, Charline and I told him we were on our way to see a movie outside. We didn't tell him it was his favorite film, but he was pretty happy about the idea anyway. But, then, after a moment of reflection, as we were getting into the van, he said something profound.

Jude said "It's not the moon. It's not the movie. It's just us."

He was right. Well said, Jude. Well said. It was a wonderful day for the whole family, from start to finish. But, it wasn't about what we saw or did. It was just great being together, the whole family, for the whole day and night.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Jude's quote of the day

"Remember, when you cough into your hand, your hand coughs back at you."

Said when his mother suggested it's a good idea to put one's hand in front of one's mouth when coughing. I think he's been reading Nietzsche:
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee." - from Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche, at Chapter IV: "Apophthegms and Interludes," #146.

Jude says...

"I'm not afraid of monsters, or not even... giant spider webs!"

He says he's "not afraid of anything" when we try to tell him something on TV is too scary for him to watch. Today, he got really specific, with the above quote. He said this with his nose crinkled up in his you-better-watch-out expression.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jude's quote of the day

"When I jump up, my hat jumps up too."
-- Jude, commenting on his "bouncing hat" while sitting in the mini-van

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Jude's quote of the day

"On one day, I did brush my hair with my toothbrush."
-- Jude Barger
-- age 3
-- May 5, 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Shave and a haircut

I finally made myself look presentable for a change. I got a haircut and shaved off the beard. It's been several years since I looked "clean-cut." Of course, I promptly stopped shaving again, and am starting to look a bit scruffy.

Why the change? I'm in law school and on my way to becoming a lawyer. So, I figured it was about time to start looking the part. It has been a refreshing change, actually. Charline's not crazy about the lack of facial hair. And, as I said, I am letting that grow back in a bit. Maybe I'll do a better job of keeping it trimmed this time. Any wagers?

Maybe Charline will snap a photo of my new look, so we can post it. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Ruby's first word and Jude's favorite planet

Ruby is doing a pretty good job of sitting up on her own lately, although we have to sit her in a good, safe spot and watch her. She's also "saying" her first word. Charline's been showing Ruby some sign language words, which worked really well for Jude when he was a baby. Ruby has starting "saying" the sign for "dog," which is done by patting one's leg, as if calling a dog.

Jude has been learning astronomy, with Charline's help. We had a conversation about the planets this morning, during breakfast. Jude's favorite planet is Neptune. He told me the biggest planet is Jupiter and the smallest is Pluto. He knows that Saturn has rings and Mars is red. He also knows that the sun is at the center of the solar system (yes, he even knows "solar system"). It really surprised me when he said Neptune "has two moons." (Maybe not technically correct, but it's likely Charline read something like that to him from an old astronomy book for kids.) In any case, he seems really curious about these things. He even knows a little about gravity. He said on the moon there's no gravity (of course, there is some), so you "bounce." Maybe he'll get to go there someday and try it for himself.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Leaves and Hay: two fun weekends

Last weekend, the Philly Bargers drove out into the hills and mountains to see the fall foliage. said it was peak season for leaf-watching in our area.

When we got out there, driving northwest, with no particular destination, we found the little town of Jim Thorpe -- named after the famous athlete. They had an historic, scenic train ride, which Jude really loved. After the train ride along a river, we played in the leaves in the park at the center of the town. We got some great photos.

This weekend, the Philly Bargers went on a hay ride tonight, with a group of people from our church, at an orchard in the Philly suburb of Media. It was a lot of fun, especially the bonfire afterward, where we toasted marshmallows and cooked hot dogs.

Jude loved the marshmallows and the apple juice. (It was at an apple orchard.) Ruby was really cute in her snug winter outfit. Maybe Charline can describe it on her blog. Jude like playing with the flashlights. He wanted to help cook the hot dogs, but the fire was too hot (or our stick was too short). Once he got some marshmallows and apple juice, he was really happy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More cute stuff Jude does

Some things Jude's been doing or saying lately that I'd like to remember...

  • stomps his little foot once and says "Nowwww!" to emphasize requests, but usually with a smile or laugh... e.g. "Jude play outside... Nowwww!"
  • lists things explicitly, such as "[That's] Mama's car and Dada's car and Jude's car and Maggie's car too." (he likes to use the word "too")
  • likes to use the word "maybe" and almost always uses it correctly, though sometimes in funny ways
  • told Charline yesterday "Maybe Mama looks good" when she put on her white dress with red flowers (one of her maternity dresses, of course)
  • loves picking up one or two rocks whenever he finds some, and gives to people to hold for him
  • has been playing with two clear, plastic "rocks" my mother enclosed with an anniversary card for Charline and me (labeled "Imagine" and "Remember")
  • learned to put those two rocks in the pockets of his shorts and kept doing that for the past two days
  • awoke yesterday and immediately said "Jude no pants. Jude no pockets. Where's Jude's rocks?" (I got his shorts for him and found the rocks and he was thrilled.)
  • sits at the piano and sings songs that always go like this "Happy birthday Mama... Happy birthday Dada... Happy birthday granddaddy... Happy birthday ba-ba... Happy birthday nana... Happy birthday Maggie..." (though not all those together most of time... usually just one or two)
  • learned and likes to sing practically the entire "Old MacDonald" song! (at least the "cow" part with a "moo, moo" and the chorus)

I could go on and on. It's really a joy to watch him growing and learning and exploring. He seems to be a very sweet kid at this age.