5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Sirius matters, eyelid physics and la Republica Dominica

Welcome to an international edition of Go Ask Daddy, live from the tropically breezy Bocelo Bavaro resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I’m here with my new job at Red Ventures, on my first international trip – unless you count an afternoon in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure that trip was illegal.

This one, though, is on the up-and-up, and I had a passport and everything. I’m even speaking Spanish to the natives. And broken, verb-tense-butchering Spanish to Russian women who don’t speak English and want to know who I work for.

(Russian broken Spanish by an Eastern bloc girl, it turns out, is way more endearing than English broken Spanish by a brown dude who should know how to speak the language.)

But that’s food for another blog.

Here’s your answers, kids – dad loves and misses you, and will spend mad Dominican pesos on your gifts. Like, a million of them.

1. What’s the brightest star?

So, sometimes, pop gets it wrong, it turns out.

I hope you didn’t tell anyone at school that your dad said Betelgeuse is the sky’s brightest. I’ve always pointed to that star, on Orion’s shoulder, and you know, it never looked, like, super bright. But it was science, or so I thought, and science is never wrong.

Sometimes your dad is, though. As far as brightness, Betelgeuse ranks a respectable tenth, but that’s like giving a No. 1 vote in college football to South Carolina. Love them Gamecocks, but they’re no Fighting Irish.

The consensus No. 1 in the sky is Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. Know what Sirius means in Greek? Scorching. Seriously. It’s an A1VM spectral type star, as opposed to Betelgeuse, who weighs in at a meager M1-2Ia-Iab.

Psh. I know!

2. Who’s the strongest man in the world?

Kinda what I used to look like. In college.

Well, it used to be me. All three of you thought this. Remember, Marie, when you thought I picked up the van all by myself? Well, I technically did, with the help of a jack. When you learned the physics behind it, you seemed so much less impressed.

Maybe even a little bit bitter. Sorry!

There’s a competition each December called “World’s Strongest Man,” in which competitors advance through a strong man series of events, almost like an NCAA tournament (wonder if President Obama fills out that bracket.) Contestants earn points for squatting cars (yes, cars!), fridge carry (two fridges, thank you very much) and truck/airplane pull (which needs no explanation).

A Lithuanian dude named Zydrunas Savickas won this year, and in 2011, American Brian Shaw won. They had the competition in Wingate, N.C.

If I had known, I’d have entered, girls. I’d have kicked muscle-man butt in the van jack.

Check out this cat:

3. Do your eyelids have blood in them?

I hope I never lose the inclination to ask the questions you do, Grace. I’ll think of you next time I cover a ballgame. I never want to let a good question go unasked! (Even some bad questions, for that matter.)

Isn’t it cool when you look at the sun with your eyes closed? I mean, face the sun. It’s all red. I always thought that was cool, as a kid. (Still do. But I also once thought I was a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Blog for another day, my dear.)

Turns out your eyelids are very blood-rich. They’re also paper thin, so the light passes right through. Your eyelids are also able to transmit red wavelengths well, but not blue ones. This is why you don’t see blue when you look at the sun (actually, please don’t look at the sun), and have to ask about that.

4. Why do ants carry dead ants?

“Son, did you know we’re the only insect to observe Memorial Day?”

Maybe they’re training for the World’s Strongest Ant competition.

Ants carry away their dead not because of some vow of honor like in a war movie. They carry the carcasses away from the colony, just in case they died of disease. I suppose ants learned a lesson watching humans during the Bubonic plague.

Leaf cutter ants have graveyards for the dead, too. Legend has it they have an Elvis ant that others keep seeing at picnics and ant buffets.

5. How far away is Dominican Republic?

It’s 1,362 miles, as the crow flies (assuming the crow won’t drop dead in the Caribbean waters and become a shark snack).

The flight was just long enough for me to see the disappointing ending to the final installment of the Bourne Identity trilogy. And eat a croissant with jelly (the flight attendant forgot to bring my pancakes).

You know, roughly the time it takes for me to make crepes. Or for your teenage sister to fix her hair.

I wish I could have filmed the plane’s ascent into the sky. You would have loved it, and I’m sure I was like an 8-year-old watching it, too. You could have helped me find familiar landmarks. I saw Charlotte Motor Speedway just seconds before the plane lifted into the clouds.

I’m three buffets at the Caribbean restaurant here from you. Probably no more than one or two rum-and-Cokes. Maybe a thunderstorm and a merengue beat away. Hopefully, no more ambling cockroach footsteps away when I turn out the light in my room. (The resort said they’d take care of that.)

I’ll be home soon. And then it won’t matter how far away it is.

Bet you miss my singing, don’t you?

Hasta Luego, mi corazon.