DinkyScope

One of Katie’s very first words was “Moon.”  She’s been fascinated with the moon, and now Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars, since she could point up at the sky and point out that there were holes up there through which light passes.  We figured she was old enough to understand basic instructions, so we were bad and bought her a present.

We bought Katie her very first piece of serious scientific equipment, the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian telescope. It’s an interesting scope because Orion advertises it as their starter/kids pack to get kids started.  It costs just as much as a crappy refractor from the Mall but it’s a real scope that can do real scope-like things. And sure, she’s only 4, but one cannot be too little to have a telescope!

Here’s what we have learned in the whole 6 hours from owning this scope:

– It is an awesome scope for the price.  The scope is only $200.  Because a Dob is just a light bucket, Dobs are cheap.  They have high mirrors – cost ratios.  The one doesn’t have any electronics, but it is exceptionally well built, sturdy, and all the gears work like they have been greased with butter.

– It was easy to lift, easy to set up, and took about 5 minutes to get going and shooting things.

– Even without the mirrors properly aligned, I took it out, put it on the driveway, got it pointed at the Moon (in daylight!) and let Katie see the Moon through the eyepiece.  This was a moment of extreme excitement.  It wasn’t even a full Moon, or in the dark, or with one of our high-quality eyepieces.

– If I had this Dob, even without electronics, when I was a kid I would still be in the backyard.

– This is seriously making me consider one of the big Dobs with all the electronics and gears. We have a Mak-Cass and it is awesome but it is mostly for planetary viewing.  The big Dobs will get you the best Hercules Globular Cluster you’ve ever seen where you can make out about 10,000 stars.

If you have a little kid and you want to get out and look at the planets and the Moon and some real easy to find deep field objects, this is a hell of a piece of starter equipment.  It’s a ton of telescope for the price, and it’s good for Mom and Dad, too.

Bloody Revolution in Pixie Hollow

For Katie’s birthday, I bought her the first set of four collected junior novels, each one depicting some adventure of one of the fairies of Pixie Hollow, the imaginary Disney universe for Tinkerbell.  The general plan was to get her into the whole concept of reading books with chapters and stories too long to be resolved in a single evening yet be interesting enough to hold a four year old’s interest for multiple nights.  This turned out to be highly succesful if Katie was allowed to pick the fairy — which she is.

Since I am now reading about this universe every night, a bit at a time, I have plenty of time to ponder Pixie Hollow.  I realized, with the stories of baking fairies and serving fairies and laundry fairies and even entryway cleaning fairies, that Pixie Hollow is a very Victorian England Upstairs/Downstairs culture with rigidly set out life paths depending on where one is born with no hope for advancement.  Only the true Upper Classes may go to the Mainland and interact with humans.  The rest of the fairies must stay behind and serve.

The Tinkerbell movie revolves entirely around this theme: poor Tinkerbell discovers to her utter horror that she is forced forever to be working class as a pots and pans fairy, and no matter how hard she tries she cannot flee her caste.  Sure, she is promoted to Upper Class when she makes for herself a role as a master engineer over a mere tinkering fairy, but it is not without great effort and recognition from the Queen.

This is utterly unlike the plight of two other fairies of the Pixie Hollow cosmos: the fairy Prilla and the fairy Vidia.  Vidia is set up to be the “evil” fairy of the world, but Vidia is not actually evil.  She rejects the rigid despotic monarchy of Queen “Ree” Clarion of Pixie Hollow and shows her disdain for the caste system that holds them all enslaved.  And Prilla, well, Prilla has a unique talent which draws her automatically to the human world to keep children believing in fairies.  Her friends keep giving her mundane fairy-like tasks to do but her heart is not in it.

While I sat on the bed reading Katie her stories, I began to put together the bloody and horrible revolution, hatched by Vidia and Prilla in Vidia’s sour plum tree where no one ever goes.  From there, they explode with Prilla as the Charismatic face of the Revolution, explaining on the stumps and toadstools around Pixie Hollow how no fairy is lesser than any other and how they can all be free of their castes if they clap their hands and believe.  Meanwhile, Vidia plans, and executes a horrible Night of the Long Knives where she does away with the Ministers of the Four Seasons in a bloody coup and unleashes the anger of the animal talent fairies and their beast army upon the unsuspecting High Nobility light fairies.

Then, as the war reaches its zenith and Pixie Hollow is torn by war and death, a proud Vidia and a woebegone Prilla watch as Queen Clarion, broken and dashed against the revolution, is forced to sign the peace treaty with harsh terms in her own blood.  Then the monarchy is done away with, crowns are forgotten, Clarion drifts off to spend her days tending to Mother Dove, fairies are freed from their bonds of talents by birth! (to appear and become a laundry fairy — the horrors!) and Prilla takes the reins of government…

We are undecided if Over the Edge or FATE would make a better system for playing out the Bloody Fairy Revolution in Pixie Hollow.