Appreciating the Boomerang

I hope you liked the boomerang you received in your box this month.  I found a few YouTube videos that tell you how to throw one.  I liked this one.  I hope you can get your boomerang to come back to you.


What makes a boomerang work?  I found an interesting article by Popular Science that addresses the physics of this.  Are you interesting in making one?  Here is a link to a video by Science Samurai showing how to make your own. Elias, I know you love science so I challenge you on this one.  Let me know if you make your own.  I would be mighty impressed.

I always like to find some fun facts about topics and here are a few:

**The oldest boomerang was found in Poland and is believed to be over 30,000 years old.  It was made from a Mammoth Tusk.

**The longest boomerang flight known was over 2 minutes.

**The largest returning boomerang is over 9 feet tip to tip.

The Boomerang, able to fly much farther than a spear, was originally used to bring down game while hunting. The Aborigines (original people) of Australia used them thousands of years ago.   Not all boomerangs are meant to return and they can be a variety of shapes and sizes. The early ones were made from roots, limbs, or bones. They were multipurpose, not just used for hunting.  I found one type that has a special hook on it meant to catch on the shield of the person you were fighting. After hooking onto the shield the fighter could swing behind the shield to attack.

Not all hunting techniques involved hitting the animal.  One technique involved throwing the boomerang over a flock of birds.  The birds, mistaking it for a bird-of-prey, would drop down into nets or toward waiting hunters.

Other uses include starting a fire by rubbing the boomerangs together. Some were used as clappers in music and dance. I read that they are Sonorus when struck together.  (I had to look that up:  –Definition of sonorous: having a sound that is deep, loud, and pleasant)

Today there are competitions built around the art/ sport of throwing.  The Boomerang Association of Australia has a great online newsletter.  Check it out. 

There are some boomerangs that are just too beautiful to throw.  You can find them for sale or in art museums.   Symbols are often included in the decoration and have meaning.  Here is an example of symbols used.




I would like to decorate my own tool and make up symbols that are relevant to me.  Here is one I designed just for our trip.


Landing in Australia

Watch this landing at Sydney’s Charles Kingsford- Smith Airport.  Seeing it from the air would build so much excitement for me.  Look at the way the land and water intertwine.  As you get closer you can see the beautiful beaches and boats off the coast.  I bet you couldn’t get your bathing suit on fast enough after getting off that 15 hour long flight!



It is Australia!

How could we not go to Australia!  We have been to several countries now that have been below the equator but this is the largest by far.  I hope you have located the country on your world map and have an appreciation for its SIZE.  Most of the population live near the coast as the inner part of this big country is primarily desert, a land often referred to as “The Outback”.  Of course it isn’t all beaches and desert; there are mountains and rain forests as well.

Aboriginal people in Australia come from the population that arrived nearly 50,000 years ago. Today the Aboriginal people make up less than 3% of the population of Australia. That is 3% of approximately the 20 million who live in Australia.

If you look at Australia compared to the USA you will see that they are nearly the same size. Yet, Australia’s entire population is about the number of people who live in Florida.

One of the really awesome things about Australia is that there are animals there that are unique to the country.  Nearly 80% of the animal types found there are only naturally found  in Australia.  We will have to get to know a few of those!

Please join me back here regularly to learn more!



Spanish – a Multi-colored Language

In Chile, the primary language you will hear is Spanish. But not all Spanish sounds the same.  I love this video giving a description of many of the Spanish accents we can hear in the world.  She doesn’t even try to speak Spanish as the Chileans do, I think because it is just too hard.  My daughter-in-law is from Chile and I remember the first time I listened to her speak with her cousin.  The words came FAST, like a river rapid pouring over a waterfall.


Side note:   I went to Chile once and was amazed at how relaxing it is to move in a country where I couldn’t understand the signs or the conversations around me.  I would have thought it would have made me anxious and perhaps it would have if I hadn’t been someone who could guide me.  We don’t realize how hard our brains are working to take in the information around us all day.  When I couldn’t understand the language my brain tuned out the signs, the advertisements, and the conversations.  It allowed me to focus on the colors, the expressions, and the architecture and geography of the world around me instead.


Next Country Boxes went out today!

Hey guys!  I dropped in to see UPS today and had them box your items and send them out.  I ran out of ink for my printer this morning and couldn’t print your photos from ………X.  I sent those by email to you so you will have them to look at.  I will send the printed photos for your photo album soon.  This will probably be a short month with this country as we are a little behind in our travels.  I will have to be faithful in getting up early to post information so I can get the next box out quickly.  Thank goodness it is still summer and the light is with us longer.  That makes it all the easier.  I think of you all as I look up information.  I want the posts to be interesting and different from what you would get elsewhere.  Lots of love to you all!  Nanna.

Chile – Along the Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe shaped area of our planet in the Pacific Basin where 90% of earthquakes occur and over 80% of the world’s volcanoes are located.  Chile has over 500 potentially active volcanoes in an area 1/13 the size of the USA which has less than two hundred.  Most of our volcanoes are located in Alaska but one of the most active volcanoes on earth is in Hawaii.

Volcanoes occur when hot magma, melted mantle from inside our planet, and gases  work their way up to the earth’s surface. When the magma spews onto the surface it is called lava. Volcanoes usually occur where earthquakes occur.  Earthquakes occur when sections (plates) of the earth move against other sections or plates. Imagine two decks of playing cards pushed together and as they meet some cards are pushed up and some are pushed down.  The plates of the earth meet and effect one another. This effect result in earthquakes. The Ring of Fire is named for the high level of effects created by the meeting of these tectonic plates.

I found this video of an eruption caught by people visiting a nearby volcano.  I liked this video because you get a chance to see the lovely area around the eruptions prior to the event.  It made me see what visiting this part of Chile would be like.


Hydrothermal fields are areas where sea water that has entered the fissures or cracks of the earth becomes heated and then spews from the earth.  This can occur on land and in the bottom of the ocean, just as volcanoes can (watch this video of a volcano erupting at the bottom of the sea).  Chile has a major hydrothermal field high in the Andes mountains called the El Tatio.  This is a major tourist attraction. If we were sitting there at sunrise we would see the plumes of steam rising from the earth toward the sky forming smoky columns. This happens on a regular basis due to the accumulation of pressure followed by a release. Take a look at this video to get a look at this area of the Atacama Desert.

Volcanoes and earthquakes are examples of how our earth is always changing. The land is always moving. Mountains are forming. Some of the newest mountains are the tallest. Some of the older ones look much smaller than they were at one time. Hot Springs Mountain is part of the Ouachita Mountain Range, a very old mountain range.. Erosion over the years has made them much less commanding than they once were when they looked more like the Rocky Mountains. The Andes Mountains in Chile are HUGE and are fairly young, only 10 to 6 million years old. In comparison, the Ouachita mountains are 500 to 290 million years old.

Chile’s Window to the Heavens

Imagine lying back and looking up to a night-sky filled with more stars than you have ever seen before. You can do this in Chile.  The mountains blocking a significant amount of cloud coverage, the expanse of the Pacific ocean to the west, and the absence of light pollution make the Atacama Desert the perfect location for the study of our universe.

There are many observatories in Chile including the European Southern Observatory  (ESO).  Most of these are off limits to tourist but some do have hours of access.  Additional telescopes are added as the technology improves.  In fact, the ESO just began the construction of an Extremely Large Telescope, referred to in articles as E-ELT.  It will take at least 10 years to finish the construction and will house a telescope as big as a football field and will weight 5,000 tonnes.**  This telescope will produce pictures 15 times sharper than those sent from the Hubble Telescope (in space).

There is an organization representing an amateur and professional astronomers that is available to you on the internet called Slooh.  Their mission is to make the wonders of the Universe available to everyone. Some of the “shows” of astronomy events are free but a subscription is required for admittance to many more resources.  One of those options is the ability to remotely control a telescope.  You get the chance to reserve time on a telescope five times a month for just slightly less than five dollars a month.  I have a subscription but I have not yet taken advantage of the remote control.  I did note though that none of the available telescopes for my membership level are in Chile.  Take a look at this site and watch for upcoming events.  I have watched events on this before at the free level. I believe I watched the most recent Blood Moon.  There are different telescopes that provide views of the occurrence and professionals are on-line discussing the happenings and related material.

Some places on earth are just better for watching the skies.  Cities have too many lights to allow a good view of the sky.  This is called Light Pollution. Go to this site called DarkSiteFinder to see a map that shows the areas of the earth that have light pollution and those that have less.  How far would you have to travel to get to a place with low light pollution?

**(Interesting side note – The USA and Canada use 2,000 pounds as net weight for a ton and is called a “short ton”.  The Long Ton is used in the Imperial system (UK and other English speaking countries) and is equal to 2,240 pounds or 1016 kilograms.  Since the article I referenced for this fact was from the UK, I am to assume the 5,000 tonnes is equal to 11,200,000 (11 million and 200 thousand pounds).