Happy Birthday Senor da Vinci

EG Inc took a slightly different approach for our Forensic Friday today.

I recently learned today, 15 April, is Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday.


Senor da Vinci was a true Evil Genius. I really wanted to celebrate this day but I was stuck on ideas.

After reading a GeekMom article by My Little Poppies, I was so inspired by the idea of celebrating DEAR this week, I thought: why not celebrate DEAD – Drop Everything And Draw?

And what better way to celebrate DEAD than with a DEAD artist… like Leonardo da Vinci.

For those not familiar with DEAR, it means Drop Everything And Read. Author Beverley Cleary wrote about DEAR in her book Ramona Quimby, Age 8. It was such a hit, the USA hold national DEAR programs on April 12th, Beverly Cleary’s birthday. She is still alive too –  celebrated the big 1-0-0 this week.

At our local school (not US), the spawnlings practice both DEAR and DEAD in the classroom. I thought the timing was perfect for our Forensic Friday.

The thing about da Vinci is that he wasn’t just an artist. He was a polymath; an individual that was brilliant at everything (particularly during or influenced by the Renaissance). We’re talking painter, sculptor, engineer, astronomer, anatomist, biologist, chemist, geologist, physicist, architect, musician, philosopher, and humanist.


But I like a challenge. Today was in celebration of Leonardo da Vinci.


Now remember we ARE on school holidays at the moment, and the two older spawnlings have definitely earned a rest. So I opted for just one of his many interesting inventions, The Flying Machine. I took most of my cues from a book I picked up a year or so ago:  Inventions – Leonardo da Vinci, published in 2014 by Lake Press Pty Ltd.da vinci book

The Flying Machine was completely inspired by da Vinci’s jealous admiration for birds; particularly their ability “escape the Earthly bonds”. Namely, gravity.

This was a great opportunity to kick the spawnlings outside – let’s find some birds or wildlife and draw it! We live next to a park with PLENTY of birds that wake Zaltu up every damn morning.

Do you think we could find a bird today?


All we could find was this bug. I don’t even know WTH it is.

But we were committed to the cause!! (*committed to something…)

After our great exploration, we returned inside to observe and draw our wildlife.

Sinister really enjoyed this part:


Nefarious decided he wanted to paint the adventure, rather than the achievement:


And Zaltu… well, Zaltu…

Rainbow Zaltu
She chose to paint the participants in the adventure. Namely, herself. Literally.
As you can see, she was mighty impressed with me calling an end to the artistic display. Zaltu calls this piece “Rainbow Zaltu”. You can have it as a complete work of art for a mere block of chocolate… but don’t call me when the artwork wakes you at 3am asking why the possums are allowed to play outside her window and she is not.


Seriously though, Zaltu painted a beautiful wrapping paper design for da Vinci’s birthday presents. And was then upset when I had to explain there were no presents to wrap.IMG_9800

At which point, Sinister realised da Vinci gained his deep understanding of bird muscles from observing them inside and out (read: dissecting them) and was a little … concerned. During which time Nefarious read ahead in the book and learnt about the blowy-uppy weapons da Vinci designed and wondered why we weren’t building our own canons instead. Broken wrist remember?

We then had pizza for dinner and I sent them to bed – at 5.30pm. Because they tired me out.

For a bunch of activities to do for a day, it was actually kind of fun. The spawnlings were truly amazed by the concept of a polymath. The sheer amount of study da Vinci undertook to confidently do the work he did. Not so much Zaltu (she is only 2) but definitely the older two.

It was great watching them both realise you did NOT have to limit yourself to one speciality. You CAN be a marine biologist who incorporates art and software development in their work. You CAN be an astrophysicist who includes chemistry and electrical engineering in their project designs.

DEAD was just something to start the discussion. The best ‘birthday present’ today was listening to all three talk about what they wanted to create tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how Zaltu’s Batcave turns out.


One Poison Dart Frog at a Time

This is the point where I cannot believe in the nonsense of Intelligent Design.

Seriously – what super-natural drugs are out there for some all-high deity to think HOT PINK with blue legs is a great colour for a frog?!?

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that not ALL colouring is supposed to be perfectly matched to the environment. And we ARE talking about Poison Dart Frogs here. They have a built in defence mechanism that I am attempting to graft to my current test-subjects minions. At least with evolution, we can theorise that these ‘party-goers’ have survived over the millenium because most of the other smart wildlife has figured out pretty colours = bad mojo.

But otherwise… These are the frogs that Intelligent Design licked.

“Oooh. You taste like Strawberry Sundaes. Let’s make you HOT PINK!!”

Purdy. And poisonous. Highly. Tribes in South America used to dip their arrows and darts into these frogs, and others like them. Apparently, the brighter the colouring, the higher the toxicity. I wonder if that applies to the night-club scene as well…

Unfortunately, all my testing shows the poison is not just from the frogs. In fact, I have to hunt them directly from the wild. Yep – it comes from the food they eat. The ants, the bugs, the plants. All that stuff. Breeding these guys in my lab is simply not going to cut it. The best result I could hope for would be putting EG Dad to sleep – and I’m not so sure if it would be the dart or the movie I made him watch (Of course the Devil Wears Prada – because she can’t get her hands on my Converse Batman sneakers).

Additional problem: damn things are critically endangered. No, not because we keep trying to collect the shiny. More like, we are terrified of the buggers and keep cutting down their jungle. So not only do I have to haul my arse through the Amazon, but I have to keep my eyes peeled for dwindling numbers. At least they are brightly coloured to help me find them – all 2cm of them.

Of course, there is one way to find out how these frogs fit in Intelligent Design. In fact, I would love to see the look on the pastor’s face, when Sinister takes a Poison-Dart Frog to school for (non-)Scripture.

Methinks there might be some frog-lickin’ theories on that one.