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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Had brunch at Mimi's yesterday with Lindsay, Wendy, Parki, and Jeff. Very good blintzes (what a great word that is..."blintzes").

Visited with Sara and Annie in the afternoon. Jeff showed them a science experiment based on one he saw on the Discovery channel, involving a mixture of cornstarch (lots) and water. The resulting goo takes on unusual properties, tending to solidify when pressure is applied, but going back to being runny when you take the pressure away.

You can thus scoop up a handful of the stuff and squeeze it into a solid ball that melts back into liquid when you open up your hand. Or slap down hard on the surface of the liquid and not have any splash out of the container.

Apparently the stuff is called "oobleck", composed of both a solid and a liquid, and containing properties of both. Most scientists classify this mixture as a non-Newtonian liquid. The uncooked cornstarch particles have both crystalline and non-crystalline structures. When you slowly mix them with water, the non-crystalline bits absorb most of the water (hence resulting in runny goo). When you smack it or otherwise apply quick pressure, you increase the temperature and pressure on the mixture, which causes more non-crystalline structures to form. The non-crystalline bits absorb more water and the mixture becomes more solid.

VERY all must try this, if you haven't already. Jeff did this twice yesterday, once for Sara and Annie, and once for one of our other nieces, Brittany.

Later in the afternoon, we went to Brittany's birthday party in Alton. Brittany is -very- much into Barbies as evidenced by her gifts, decorations, and cake. The cake was a Barbie in a party dress. Because Barbie's legs are so long, the pastry chef had to remove the doll's legs and just use the torso and head. It was a little gruesome to see the legless Barbie discarded on a plate after cake-cutting. Even Brittany referred to it as "the dead Barbie" later on.

Jeff and I gave Brittany an ant farm (I love being an aunt), a kite, and two books which it turned out she already had. :-( One of her most intriguing gifts was a Dream Baby, from her mom. This doll was sort of like a highly advanced Tamogatchi (remember those cyber-pets?). It starts out acting like a newborn, crying when it's hungry or needs its diaper change, cooing and gurgling when it's happy, making sucking sounds when you stick a bottle in its mouth. Over time, it apparently "learns" to crawl, talk, respond to its name and other stimuli, and eventually walks. To tell you the truth, it kind of gave me the creeps (reminded me too much of certain horror films I've seen in the past!), but it was pretty impressive from a technological toy point of view.

'Twas highly entertaining to see Jeff bent over the doll and its accompanying instructions, brow furrowed as he tried to figure out how to activate it, while Brittany danced around him asking, "Uncle Jeff, can I change its diaper now? Can I give it a bottle? What are you doing?"

Working on my Writer's Digest article today, and packing for our 3-week cottage stay, which starts tomorrow. I'm taking my laptop with me but may not be online as much as I am right now, especially if the weather's nice. :-)

Today's Blatherpic:

- Barbie torso from Brittany's birthday cake.

- Jeff teaching Annie and Sara about non-Newtonian liquids.

- Jeff studying the instructions for Dream Doll.

- Brittany, at her birthday party yesterday.

Link of the Day:

Techno Personality Test. (Post your results in Blatherchat)


Did you own a home computer before 1981?

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