Category Archives: Parenting

Measure the Universe

All Units and Constants, Organized

I created this consolidated sheet to catch up with the Belgians. I remain impressed with the academics in Belgium even though I was only there for a couple months. Normally I try to post directly to the page for readability but this requires special formatting to make the units / superscripts / subscripts look good so I am posting in PDF:

Measure the Universe PDF

Truly, this is the best consolidated “how-to” science document I know of. In 11 pages, it covers pretty much all science. The difficulty that prevents most people from succeeding in science is units. Step 1 for any successful science student is to consistently use the same unit for each type of measurement. If you are given inches, you convert to meters. If you are given miles, you convert to meters. If you are given light-years, you convert to meters. Even kilometers, convert to meters. You get the point. The unit helps understand the concept and the concept yields the unit if you are thinking of it correctly.

Curriculum for the 21st Century

Life basics

  • Money
    • personal finance: fundamental. Of course necessary.
    • Basic accounting principles. Basic accounting principles are important because it is the language used to practically communicate the exchange of money in real life. If you understand everything except the accounting principles, good. It’s better than nothing. However, accounting principles empower an individual to track many automatic transfers of money that are too tedious to track day-to-day and month-to-month without accounting tools.
  • Literacy. I believe all of the following should be included in the idea of modern-day literacy. The narrower definition of “literate” meaning “to be able to read” excludes the wider necessity of being able to successfully communicate in the real world.
    • Reading, of course. Still fundamental.
    • Writing. With electronic communication, ideas and all media can be infinitely copied. This trend of over a century has reduced the perceived value of a individual amateur content production to near zero. Being able to produce content of all kinds is valuable.
    • Typing. Typing is realistically the dominant text communication method of our time. Certainly penmanship still matters, but it has been practically replaced and it is probably more important to be able to type than write.
    • Blogging. I have written about blogging extensively. In fact, I have blogged about blogging extensively.
    • Video Editing. This seems advanced and to do it properly currently requires a paid software subscription (free video editing software stinks). Learning to video-edit is absolutely worth it to better understand the deluge of video content we are all exposed to. Participating in video editing will certainly ruin the enjoyment of some content – especially most of Netflix – but learning video editing develops an appreciation for other content and a more actively fulfilling experience.
      • ***On screens*** I am about as anti-television / smartphone / social media as a person can be. However, I am not completely anti-screen. Screens are a reality. Screens are objectively better than paper in many ways. Screens display all types of content. Television is a passive one-way conversation that conditions the viewer to not think. Screens can be – and often are – two-way and allow user production even more than paper! Screens should not be demonized for the fact that the majority of content on screens is negative. Producing content on screens can be meaningful and fulfilling. There is a lot of great content on screens and we should be learning to find and make the good content rather than avoiding content altogether by avoiding screens.

History, Math, Science

Learn context to understand why different concepts are important, what they are.
  • History Etc.
    • Geography, countries, yes, but also non-country-centric. Geographic feature-centric first.
    • Geography > political boundaries > history: geography gives context for political boundaries. Together geography and political boundaries give context for history. History gives context for many of the concepts in other subjects. Understand how humans came to learn the world.
    • Understand the calendar. Remember dates not relative periods of time. (Like Rick Reeder)
    • Family History
    • Local history
    • World history / human history
    • History of the funding of science, art, and schools. Learn the fundamental support system for the environment that enables students to learn. Learn that higher learning and the production of art is a uniquely human endeavor that is fundamentally collective.
  • Math
    • Roman numerals for basic counting.
    • Place value, zero, Arabic numerals.
    • Number systems, base 10, hexadecimal and binary for other examples etc.
    • Fractions, factoring, least common multiple
    • Algebra
    • Trigonometry is more than just triangles, it’s the building block to calculating all shapes.
    • Calculus: derivatives, integrals, position, velocity, acceleration.
    • Infinite series, frequency domain, e^(i*pi) +1 = 0. (This seems crazy but the concepts are simple if they are taught in normal life not complex math class).
  • Science, particularly physics.
    • The scientific process, reduction.
    • Energy.
    • Thermodynamics basic concepts.
    • Relativity
    • Navier-Stokes equations

All units in one place for reference, especially for understanding concepts, simplify with a unified system of units (SI system).

Religion and Philosophy

  • Bible
  • Sand Talk
  • Antifragile, tipping point, etc.

Sports and Art

  • Literature, Art, Music, Sports: learn to enjoy them the way they are. Art is inherently valuable. In a world where technology advancement obsoletes jobs and entire careers within a generation, being able to produce valuable art is something inherently outside the scope of what machines can do and replace. ***Be sure not to fall into the trap of imagining that one has to make money for art production to be valuable.*** If a person can enjoy producing his own art, he is filling a void “normally” filled by the output of entire entertainment industries. The fact that it is difficult to make money producing art is partly what makes producing art so valuable. It is also very difficult to buy truly meaningful art. Producing one’s own art is an inherently non-taxable transaction. Governments will never really promote individuals’ production of their own content. Producing art could single-handedly do more to reduce energy consumption than any fancy modern technology possibly could. Yet art does not support governments so art is never really the solution according to governments. Producing one’s own art is the most efficient expenditure of human energy. Producing art is inherently fulfilling. Art is fulfillment and independence during times of plenty.
    • Absolute pitch training. I think when you and he are screaming together, he is matching your pitch. You said this. I think you are right. I think it’s good for him.
    • Ball. Play ball.
    • Painting? I know little about painting, but when we think of art, painting is the first thing that typically comes to mind.
  • Sailing: a classic means of transportation.
  • Knots:
    • “Make a loop in the end of a rope.” Bowline
    • “Tie to that object for a heavy load.” round turn and two half hitches
    • “Tie to that object quickly for a light load.” clove hitch
    • “Tie a fat knot in that rope.” figure-8
    • “Attach these two ropes together.” Square knot / man’s knot
    • “In an emergency, attach those two ropes together.” rolling hitch / double-clove hitch
    • “Tie down that gear on that trailer.” Delaware Rental knot
    • Aaron’s “double-figure-8”
    • “Tie to that cleat.” Cleat Hitch
    • “Tie these two ropes of different sizes together.” Sheet Bend

Test Taking and Chess

When I took tests in high school and college, the general format was, “Complete this test content as correctly as you can. It should take about 2 hours. You have 2.5 hours to complete it. Go.”

When I took the GMAT in 2020, there was a stark difference. The GMAT format is more like, “You will complete content as correctly as you can for 2 hours and your score is based on how well you complete the content and how difficult the content was that you completed in 2 hours.” This format is called an “adaptive test.” Computers enable adaptive testing where the difficulty of the questions is based on your performance on previous questions. Even top test-takers use all the time allotted because their content is more difficult than those who get lower scores. I go into detail on my GMAT prep post here.

Timed chess is a similar challenge where your brain has to operate correctly and efficiently.

I believe these types of mental challenges highlight mental fitness well and understanding how to get one’s brain to work well for a specific period of time is a specific life skill. If I have to complete a 2-hour task and I have 2.5 hours, I can make up for fatigue or hunger with the extra half-hour. If the goal is to output as much correct information as possible in 2 hours, I will absolutely do better on a day where I am well-rested and ate well.

Modern standardized tests are mental challenges like timed chess and I think important life skills.