Archive for April, 2013

Writing is a Process

3

The boy’s writing assignment for this week was to write a description of a sunken ship. The Wife did the heavy lifting with him, having him think about words that could be used to describe a ship, think about what it might look like down there in the ship. She even had him look up shipwreck pictures on the web.

Today, it yielded a first draft:

Catherine couldn’t believe she was next to a sunken ship. It was very rusty. Also very dirty. If you touched it hard enough it would brake. She found out the ship was hit by a cannon and smashed all the air tight chamber. She saw a lot of fish and squid swiming inside the sunken ship. She could just barely see what the color of the ship was. It was red, black and white. It also had multicolored coral on it. The ship looked like it was almost snaped in half. It was laying on its side. Every on aboard was safe. Catherine could tell because there were no bodies.

The usual melange of typos, sentence fragments and problems with changing tense at inopportune times. It’s also a good start.

The Wife worked through it with him for a bit and turned into this:

Catherine couldn’t believe she was next to a sunken ship. It was very rusty and dirty. If you touched it hard enough it would break into pieces. She noticed that the ship looked like it was hit by a cannon, it was almost snapped in half and laying on its side. Whatever hit it ruined all all the air tight chambers. She saw a lot of fish and squid swimming in the ship. Catherine could just barely see the color of the ship. It had been red, black and white. Multicolored coral was growing on it. Catherine did not see any skeletons so she assumed no one perished. When she gets back she will tell her friends and family what she found.

So the typos are fixed and the fragments are gone and most of the tense problems are gone. Without question a better version than the original. He added the bit about what Catherine will do when she gets back, which reads kind of like an after thought. Something like “She couldn’t wait to tell her friends about her experience” would be better. Although it might have been better to leave it out altogether- he switched abruptly from a nice description to dealing with what Catherine was doing. Strictly speaking, I’m not even sure the first sentence is necessary for the paragraph. Certainly, it works as part of a story, but for just a descriptive paragraph, it’s unnecessary.

That being said, that’s what he’ll be turning in. As I said last week, it’s his work and his threshold for reworking a paragraph is pretty low. He’ll read more and that alone will improve his writing. It doesn’t have to all happen right now.

The Wife’s approach resulted in little drama for this assignment. While I’m hopeful that these results can be duplicated, there’s a part of me that figures he’ll be in tears and screaming about the next one. That’s usually what happens just about the time we think we’ve got thing figured out.

The Next Project

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The site of our next big DIY project. I’ve begun breaking ground today. First I had to clean some of that mess up though.

Details to follow at some point later when I deem it appropriate to start doling them out. Suffice it to say for now, this area won’t look like this for much longer.

Pictures on a Spring Morning

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As of roughly 10AM this morning, it was 60 degrees out. That’s after a night where it dipped into the 30’s again. The Sun is out, not a cloud in the sky.

Our Dwarf Weeping Cherry is in all it’s glory:

As is the forsythia:

Even though I grow less fond of our pines each year, they look downright majestic this morning:

Welcome to Spring, 2013.

Saturday Vocab

1

“Hey! Come on over here and pick some of this stuff up. There’s no shortage of it to clean up,” I called over to the boy.

“What does that even mean?” he replied as he started walking over.

He came over and scooped up a handful of the amalgam of twigs, leaves, dead grass, moss and whatever other seasonings might be present. He then tossed it into the wheelbarrow. He obviously understood enough.

We were working in the yard, finally getting to the thorough cleaning it needed after the past Fall and Winter seasons. There were shards of pine trees, pieces of branches and lots of other evidence of the toll the past couple of seasons had taken. Over on the side, there was an upper half to a pine big pine tree. The piece that had snapped off was one side of a fork that split the main tree, about 20 feet up. The fork itself was about 50 feet long or so and probably 20 inches around at it’s thickest.

When it landed, it pretty much crushed all the smaller brush and trees in it’s way. The part of the fork that would have been the top of the tree landed partially in our yard and was the messiest part. There were shattered limbs strewn about in a radius around where the broken tree had landed.

The boy was helping me clean all those pieces up. I use “help” in a somewhat loose sense of the term. Right now, for boring jobs like yard cleanup that can’t possible hope to hold a child’s attention, I get about 5 minutes worth of effort before he wanders off to do something else.

A year ago, I would have let him go. This year, I’ve resolved to hound him to keep helping. He’s more than old enough to start learning to finish a job once it’s started. Even the boring ones.

Especially the boring ones.

I don’t know how many times he’d wandered off prior to this last time, but I’d maintained my patience well enough. We were nearing the end of the job, but there was still plenty to pick up.

I considered his question for a moment. My request was simple enough, what was there to confuse him? The only thing I could think of was the word “shortage.”

“Do you know what shortage means?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s when you run out of electricity,” he answered.

Interesting. He was wrong, but somewhere along the way, he’d obviously picked up on the term “short” as it refers to electricity. It was doubtful he knew exactly what a “short” was, but he knew its result.

“Oh wait,” he blurted, “That’s like, a short circuit. No, I don’t know what shortage means.”

Well, at least he’d figured that much out on his own. “A shortage is when there is not a lot of something,” I explained. “So when I say there is no shortage of something, what does that mean?”

He paused to consider for a moment, then said “It means, like, there’s no not a lot of something.” Then he just kind of stared at me. The double negative seemed to have tripped him up.

“Annnnnnnnnnnnd…” I prompted.

“Annnnnnnnnd… that … means … there is a lot of something?” His voice rose and trailed off as he completed his question, like he had a tenuous grasp on the meaning but wasn’t totally sure of himself.

“Exactly,” I confirmed for him.

We continued picking things up. He asked if “shortage” could be used to refer to a “short circuit.” I told him no, they were 2 different things.

I raked things into a pile, he’d scoop them up and deposit the scoop in the wheelbarrow. When we got down to the final bits, the boy observed “Looks like there’s a shortage now, huh Dad?”

Less Than Stellar Moments in Parenting

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A couple of nights ago, we had turkey burgers for dinner. If you’ve never had turkey burgers, first of all- shame one you. Second of all, make sure you add a little seasoning to the meat. The Grill Mates stuff is pretty good- Molasses and Bacon, Molasses and Hickory, Montreal Chicken, Steakhouse OnionBurger. Any of them will do. I also like to throw an egg in there because it helps to hold the patties together. Plus- extra protein! Win! Win! Finally, when forming the patties, put a little oil on your hands because the turkey meat tends to stick to hands.

Alright, now you have no more excuses.

I like to grill the patties. I find that meat in general comes out better when an open flame is involved. The problem with cooking turkey burgers on a grill, though, is that the meat tends to sag between the grates until it firms up from cooking. Between the sagging and the sticking, bunch of meat gets lost to the grill. This makes me sad.

So I do something about it by putting a sheet of aluminum foil down on the grill and then placing the turkey burgers on that. I also spray the foil with a non-stick spray, for what should be the obvious reasons.

Unfortunately, this night, the non-stick spray was… let us say “less than effective.”

So now, I’m trying to flip the burgers and I’m tearing the foil and it’s sticking to the burgers and it’s generally making a big mess. Worst of all, I’m losing gobs of meat to the foil because apparently the stupid “non-stick” spray was actually heat-activated glue, or something.

In a final moment of desperation brought on by the panic of ruining a meal-full of turkey burgers, I opted for Plan Z– flip the burgers by flipping the foil. In my head, this worked out beautifully- like pulling the table cloth out from under a table full of plates, silverware and glasses. I would simply grab the corners of the foil and leverage the fact that the patties were stuck and I’d flip everything in one fell swoop. Then, I could set to slowly peeling the foil off the patties. Sure, my fingers would get burned a bit; but, I wouldn’t lose nearly as much meat to the grill. It was a perfect plan, hatched on a moments notice.

So naturally, it failed spectacularly.

The foil tore as I lifted it. Some of the burgers fell off the foil (of course!) The foil didn’t entirely flip and I ended up with a mess of folded foil, entombed patties and other patties that were now more like blobs of meat on the grill. It was like a turkey slasher flick, right there on my grill. All my careful planning, and I might as well have had the kids engage in a food fight flinging the meat at the grill.

Off to my right, there was the boy, standing, watching Dad do battle with his dinner and the forces of chaos. Instinct told him to remain silent, I’m sure.

I stood there, with the grill spatula in my right hand, taking in the devastation before me. My last fleeting thought before the insanity took over was “He’s watching, don’t…”

Then I slammed the spatula on the grill.

I was rewarded with a satisfying “DOINK” noise as the spatula bounced off the grill. The force of the blow had folded the flat part into a ‘L’ shape.

Great. Now, I’d ruined the spatula.

Oh well, nothing to lose now…

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

On the second WHAM, I knocked out the fire in the grill.

On the third WHAM, a chunk of the wood from the grill came up.

On the fourth WHAM, the spatula broke.

I stood there staring at the now broken handle in my hand. Stupidly. The other half of the spatula had sailed over my head and landed behind me on the deck.

There was a moment of silence. My insanity had passed.

The boy broke the silence with a simple question: “How are you going to flip the burgers now, Dad?”

Working on Writing

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When I was the boy’s age and came home with writing assignments, my Mom would look over my work. I always handed it to her thinking what I had written made total sense. I was sure they were nothing short of a masterpiece.

The problem was, most of the time they only made sense to me. In addition to the grammar and spelling errors, Mom would hammer home the point that writing is meant to be read; thus, the writer needs to draw the reader into the writer’s world. This point seems obvious now, but when there are adventures to be had, games to be played, and mischief to be made, it’s not the sort of lesson that takes.

With that, I present the boy’s latest creative writing product:

Frank is a very interesting creature. He was not born with a nose but he has special gills. So he can breathe in any condition. He had one big, huge, raging eye. The other was lost in a fight. The creature had a blue body. He was thin like a human. He had a red head and green arms and legs. His wavy arms and a pair of stick figured arms. His arms would fly everywhere when the wind blew. He would also swing on branches that held his weight. Frank’s wobbly green legs had spiky points to help him stand. Frank smelled like hamburgers. The creature sounded like a T-rex when he roared. He moved faster than lightening. When Robbie saw him, he screamed “AHHHHHHHHHHH” all the way home.

Raise your hand if you laughed at the “hamburger” line. The boy is always thinking with his stomach, even when he isn’t.

The assignment was to write a description of an alien. I think there’s lots of good stuff in there. It’s also exactly the sort of thing Mom would have had me hammer away at for awhile. Obviously, there’s some sentence problems. Overall, it doesn’t flow well and it’s a little unbalanced- there’s a lot of stuff about Frank’s arms, but only a brief mentions of his eyes and the gills- arguably much more interesting features.

Given all that, here’s the rub. If I have him work on all that, is it still 3rd grade writing? If I don’t have him work on that, does he still learn to write better? Where’s the happy medium between the two?

The Shotgun Wars: The Well

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When last we wrote about The Shotgun Wars, the lass and the boy were locked in strategic gamesmanship, trying new tactics and countermeasures. Sadly, there have been no new tactics deployed of late and we’ve settled into some uneasy steady-state conditions.

I say “uneasy steady-state” because even though nothing new has developed, the prized passenger seat in the car is still hotly contested. Take this morning as an example. The boy was easily the first out the door. The lass was already in a bad mood and, realizing she’d be relegated to 3rd-world status sitting in the back, she tried to get me to referee. She wanted to know what car we were taking to school.

I simply replied it didn’t matter. I’m judging by the sound of her footsteps and the way the door opened and closed, my answer didn’t suit her. I called after her to just get in whichever car her brother was in, but I’m fairly certain she never heard me. It’s also quite probable she was just ignoring me.

Yes folks, even at the tender age of 7 she’s doing it. She’ll be a master by sometime this Summer, I predict.

So when I came outside, there was the boy in one car and the lass in the other. Nothing new there. I trudged around to the driver’s side of the car the boy was in. One more thing to irritate the lass this morning. Clearly, if she had me on her s**t-list, I wasn’t going to be off it anytime soon. (Even though she doesn’t know what it’s called, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have one. Her brother’s name is written in permanent ink.)

Once in the car, we had barely begun to move when the lass declared to her brother “This means I get to sit in the passenger’s seat on the way home.”

The boy voiced his opinion succinctly: “Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’m not listening to you.”

In a nasally, squeaky voice the lass snapped back “Nyeah nyeah nyeah ny-om not listening blah blah blah”. I can picture her head tilting back and forth which each syllable.

And so it goes.

A Cold First Game

1

I didn’t get to stay for the entire game, but today was the lass’ first. They played against a neighboring town’s coach-pitch softball team. The game time temp was a balmy 42 degrees Fahrenheit. The lass and all her teammates were wearing multiple layers. The Wife and other parents were wearing winter coats and hats and shivering in the stands.

I was there for the top of the 1st inning. I hadn’t intended to stay that long, but found it wasn’t the sort of thing I could step away from in the middle, so I finished it off. Luckily, there are other parents willing to step up and contribute.

I had an insight today of sorts, while warming up with the girls. We were doing some throwing drills to warm up and, naturally, there are some that throw better than others. Having coached boys as well at a similar age, I saw the same phenomena. Then it occurred to me, there really is no such thing as “throwing like a girl.”

Rather, it’s like the old saying “There are 2 kinds of people in this world…” In this case, we get “Those that can throw a ball properly and those that can’t.”

Not that it matters much at this age.

Today’s game was called after 2 innings. I’m not sure if the parents revolted because of the cold, or if it was the prudent choice because interest was waning. According to the Wife it was a bit of both. Still, the girls out shined some of their male counterparts. A number of boys’ games were cancelled today because of the cold and damp.

Perhaps we’ll finally start getting warmer in May.

What Are They Thinking?

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The Wife made a purchase this weekend. She bought some new deck furniture. Nothing super fancy, mind you: a few Adirondack chairs (plastic) and a couple of little deck tables for setting drinks on. The Adirondacks are nice because they have a built-in lumbar support, so they are more comfortable than their straight-backed counterparts.

They weren’t on the deck 24-hours before the kids got together and graffiti’d them.

The only saving grace here is… well… there is no saving grace. I mean, the boy wrote names on the chairs in an attempt at assigning seating so it’s not like we have gang-banger Adirondack chairs on the deck, or even something with a nice landscape. Rather, we have chairs with names on them because, apparently in the boy’s Universe, it made sense.

The Wife was none too pleased with the gesture. Nor was I, though I wasn’t as upset as the Wife. When I heard, my first question was “Where did you write the names?” hoping he’d labeled the underside.

No such luck- he put it prominently on the front of the backrest.

My next question was “With what did you write it?” hoping it could be washed off.

No such luck- he wrote it with a Sharpie.

They tried to scrub it off, but their efforts were in vain.

I never really got a satisfactory explanation for why he did it. He claims it was because there was one for each of us- a very literal translation. It didn’t occur to him that “one for each of us” might just mean there was the same number of chairs as family members and we could use whichever one we sat our derriere’s into.

The boy too, seemed perplexed. To him, it was the most obvious thing in the world. He was doing us a favor. That we were a bit upset with his lack of judgment was his own mystery to contemplate. Assigned seating! No fighting over chairs! What’s not to like?

But why those chairs? He hasn’t done that with other chairs in the house. He hasn’t even mentioned it. There’s no assigned seating anywhere else in the house, though we all have our go-to spots. Was this part of a larger plan? If it had gone over well, would he be Sharpie-ing up the house? Who gets what toilet? Would we have assigned walking paths?

Perhaps it’s best to not think about it. He did it. It was a mistake. Won’t happen again. Maybe we can laugh about it later.

Maybe.

Cool Again

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It’s late April and we’re about to sink below freezing for the second night in a row. I’ve been running the fireplace in the evenings to keep the house from getting too cold. Checking the local forecast, looks like we’re gonna stay this way for another day or so.

The temptation to make a snarky “climate change” reference…

Ah hell- it’d be nice if we could just get some seasonal warming at the moment.

And Now for Some Levity

1

Well, after a week that saw a bombing in Boston, a fertilizer plant blow-up, a ridiculous assassination attempt on the President, an earthquake in China and I’m sure I’ve missed something… how about something completely mindless.

Well, almost.

I received all of these via email and they were amusing enough that I figured why not put them here.

First up, here’s a link to a video of some pendulums. They are setup with a so that the frequency of each successive pendulum is 1 greater than the previous. Some very cool patterns result.

If that doesn’t tickle your wick, then try reading the following paragraph:

Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Taht prgaarpah jsut aubot csaherd my selpl cehcekr.

Enough of that. Finally, another reading assignment:

7H15 M3554G3
53RV35 7O PR0V3
H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N
D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
Y0UR M1ND 1S
R34D1NG 17
4U70M471C4LLY
W17H 0U7 3V3N
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,
B3 PROUD! 0NLY
C3R741N P30PL3 C4N
R3AD 7H15.
PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F
U C4N R34D 7H15.

No hints- I’ll only say it can be deciphered and read.

Enjoy.

Incredible

2

Consider that 4 days ago, a bomb went off at the 4 hour, 9 minute mark of the Boston Marathon and everything was chaos. A second bomb went off seconds later, there were reports of other bombs found; reports that other devices had been detonated in a controlled explosion; reports that another device went off in the JFK Library in another town. There were no reports about suspects or motives.

Police and investigators had nothing.

Three days after that, we got our first pictures of some suspects. Think about that- three days! They went from nothing to suspect pictures from surveillance cameras in three days. It’s like something out of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

One day later, one of those suspects is dead and the other in custody.

It’s breathtaking to think how fast authorities were able to go from knowing nothing to closing the case. Seriously, did anyone really think it would be resolved in under a week?

I monitored Twitter most of the day- it was hard not to as the realtime reporting of events was very compelling. I stopped for awhile towards the late afternoon and early evening. It seemed like things were stuck. After being out and about, I arrived home and decided to turn the news on, and promptly saw that things had taken a dramatic turn for the better. The suspect was basically pinned down: the police knew where he was and he had no leverage for escape. In short, it was all over but the waiting and the only real question was whether the suspect would be killed or not.

So we sat down with the kids and let them watch the news as things unfolded. They both knew about the bombing from earlier in the week. We figured this was a chance to let them see something simple and poignant: the good guys catching the bad guy. They asked lots of questions (surprise!) about what was going on as we waited. They were even concerned about our safety, wondering if “that place was close to where we live” (I guess some more geography lessons are needed.) The main point I kept telling them was that it would all be over tonight, it was just a matter of when.

When the moment arrived, they noticeably relaxed. They understood the ramifications of the moment: the bad guy was caught and it was over.

When I tucked the boy into bed a little while later, he said “It’s good that the good guys won, because they [the bad guys…] hurt all those people.” Even at that age, they understand that it isn’t a total victory. I agreed with him, and almost added something. But I decided not to.

I decided I’d let him realize on his own that there is always another bad guy.

BSA Ban on Gays Coming to an End

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I got the heads up on this via Twitter:

Here’s the article:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Boy Scouts of America called to end a long-standing ban on openly gay members, a spokesman said on Friday, but the organization’s board must still vote in May on whether to ratify the resolution.

If the vote is approved, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” Deron Smith, the organization’s spokesman, told Reuters.

Smith noted that the decision drew from three months of research, surveys and discussions and was “among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.”

The deliberations over whether to admit openly gay and lesbian members to the Boy Scouts has divided organizers, polarized its corporate and religious sponsors, and placed the group at the center of a nationwide debate over gay rights over the past two years.

I don’t agree with the “most complex” bit, at least as it pertains to the BSA. Still, I can understand why they would say that from their perspective. Either way, good on the BSA.

Who Loves Ya’ Baby!?!

1

The contents of that picture did not last long, I can assure you.

Nor did 4 of the other 5 half-racks I cooked up today. They were so good, neither child complained about them. The boy even said “This is the only thing I like barbecue sauce on,” which was amusing because they don’t have any sauce on them, just a rub.

Speaking of which:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/8 cup chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon orange peel(dried and crushed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili

Combine all of the above to create the rub. I know, complicated stuff.

I had 3 racks of ribs, which I rinsed last night and then salted with kosher salt. I can’t give you an amount there, lets just say it was enough to salt both sides of all 3 racks. In this case, I cut all 3 racks in half to make it easier to place them in the WSM.

Then, I placed a rack on a sheet of aluminum foil and liberally spread the rub over the meaty side of the ribs. I actually, uh, rub it in; but I didn’t give them the deep muscle massage treatment. I also coated the underside of the ribs with a lighter layer rub. Once coated, I wrapped the foil around the rack and set it on a cookie sheet.

Once all 3 racks were treated, I placed them in the fridge so they could get happy over night.

This morning, I fired up the WSM. I got some coals going in the middle and then packed around that with fresh charcoal, filling the bottom with charcoal. I just used Kingsford. I also filled the bowl up with water right off the bat (being able to use the garden hose made this so much easier). Then, I let it come up to temp, slowly choking it down as it approached 200F.

The ribs went on at about 180F- I figured they could heat up along with the WSM. When it finally came up to temp, I cut two pieces of hard maple and tossed them on top of the coals.

That was it, except for that brief interval about 4 hours in where I topped off the water bowl. Otherwise, I just monitored the temp.

6 hours later, they were done.

10 minutes after that, they were mostly bone.

Some Observations

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Keep in mind I’m making these observations based on small sample sizes. Obviously, I have one daughter. The lass’ coach pitch softball team has 11 girls on it. I have one son, who played coach pitch baseball for 1 year. His teams had 10 or so players on them.

All of that, clearly, adds up to me being an expert.

For one, the girls seem to have slightly better attention spans than the boys did at a similar age. I make this observation based on how well the kids paid attention during drills and how long we tried to keep practices. I remember trying to keep practices to 45 minutes or so with the boys. The girls have gone through 2 1-hour practice sessions so far, and haven’t been any the worse for wear.

I generally only have to ask once with girls. With boys, sometimes it seemed like I needed a tape recorder set on an infinite loop to serve as my voice.

Physically, the boys have a wider spread in abilities. There were some very talented kids who could throw, catch and hit well. The girls all seem to be bunched in a tighter band ability wise- the standouts are not that much better than the average. Also, with boys the ones that could do one thing well tended to do everything well. By which I’m referring to throwing, catching and hitting. With girls, the same pattern doesn’t seem to exist. There are a few who throw well, but they won’t necessarily hit the ball as well as they throw.

For now, the girls don’t have as many questions about how to play the game. When we started explaining the games to the boys, they started asking questions with wild scenarios. We basically had to shut them down. The girls are, for now, content to take the info we give them and work with that.

Finally, overall ability wise, I’d say the average girl is about equal to the average boy. I was somewhat surprised by this because I figured throwing and hitting would both tilt towards the boys. But at the ages we’re talking about, the average strength and muscle coordination isn’t so much greater for boys that they are clearly superior. There were no infield outs from third base with the boys (unless they happened to tag 3rd with a force out), and I’m guessing it will be the same for the girls.

As far as catching goes, it appears to be a dead heat. Apparently, at the ages of 6 and 7, the average kid cannot catch a fly ball to save their life.

Booby Traps

1

The house looks like we have a mysterious, insanely large spider crawling about starting to spin a web and then abandoning it, only to retry again in some other spot. This “spider” seems to have a preference for doorways and other portals for passing from one room into another. Typically, the web is attached to a piece of furniture on one side of the opening and then runs across the opening. Where possible, the web is wrapped around something as a form of attachment. Otherwise, a piece of tape is used to attach it.

The boy and the lass have been fascinated with the notion of “booby traps.” I think it’s because of all the Scooby Doo episodes they’ve taken in recently. It’s a newer version and the Fred character is obsessed with setting traps to an extreme.

Unfortunately, most of the boy’s traps are, well, anything but. Since they’re usually strung across the middle of the doorways, they aren’t even trip lines. Which, actually, is a good thing for him. How long would he survive if I and the Wife were tripping our way through the house?

The best one they’ve set so far is what I’ll call an “ankle trap” they set outside. It’s a shallow hole that the boy dug and then covered over with leaves to hide. It’s perfect for breaking some poor sap’s ankle. Fortunately, he dug it in an out-of-the-way area of the yard; otherwise, someone likely would have broken their ankle. I told the boy to fill it in before that actually happened.

Innocent as it all is, this whole episode isn’t without its casualties. The Wife’s supply of cooking twine has taken a pretty severe hit. So too has my supply of duct tape.

I have gained some insight from this whole thing. Originally, I assumed the “booby” in “booby trap” referred to the people the trap was sprung on. Now, I know differently.

Another Memory

1

I’ve noted it before, though not necessarily here, that my parents generation had the JFK assassination as a permanent memory. They could still remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news.

My own first experience with the sort of phenomena was, to no one’s surprise, September 11, 2001. I still remember being at work, browsing news sites on my computer when I came across NBC’s site and saw a picture of the Twin Towers with smoke billowing out of it. The headline was simply “Plane crashes into World Trade Center”, or something similarly alarming but unremarkable. I also remember thinking “Great, some yahoo…” The rest, as they say, is history.

I realized at that time that I would have been fine if I never had another memory like that.

Yesterday, I was watching the boy and the lass struggle with the fine art of roller skating when I happened to glance at my Twitter feed. I saw a tweet from our local news stations that “Two powerful explosions occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.” I had early hopes that it was some kind of gas main accident or some such, but it quickly became apparent that the cause was nefarious.

The history of this event is still unfolding. But it’s already another day I won’t ever forget.

FIQUE and QAID and QADI

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Hopefully I don’t regret sharing this too quickly.

I just finished a game of Words with Friends with a rather unusual play that allowed me to win pretty comfortably. The letter pile was exhausted and I only had 5 letters left in my rack: Q, I, F, U, and E. The game score was close enough and the layout was such that I a ended up putting a bit more effort into figuring out how to play my last letters.

After puttering around, I managed to form the word FIQUE, which I thought unusual because it’s rare that the Q gets played in the middle of a word. To make the play even more unusual, I hooked onto the word AID with the Q! I’m pretty sure outside of hooking to make the word QI, I don’t think I’ve ever hooked with a Q quite like that.

Naturally, I decided to look them up. Seemed the least I could do, seeing as they allowed me to win the game.

The word fique can refer to two things: the plant or the fiber that the plant yields. The fique plant is a member of the pineapple family with long, spiky leaves. It grows in South America, where it is used to create fique fibre. The fibre is very strong and used for weaving. Here’s an article with some pictures of the plant as well as the fiber and some photo-documentation of how the fiber is harvested from the plant. Interesting.

The word qaid is more straight forward- it’s a Muslim leader and can also be spelled caid (another word that could come in handy). There’s an anagram for QAIDQADI. It’s also a Muslim word and refers to a Muslim judge.

Considering the word SUQ is also a word of Muslim origin, it seems the Muslim language is the place to go to find unusual Q words.

Grandparents

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Good at making Rice Krispie treats, good at making quilts
Really fun to be with
Awesome at building chairs, awesome at electronics
Neat at making the bed
Doesn’t ever lose love
Playing a lot with me
And entertaining at football playing catch
Really good at playing chess
Excellent at knitting
Never mad at us
Talented at turning children into pretzels
Super Awesome grandparents

By: the boy

Custom More Text for WordPress Posts

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A note to the less programming savvy readers out there, this one is full of programming jargon and can likely be safely ignored. In fact, unless you’re writing a blog client, you’re likely to find this one pretty uninteresting.

For those who are interested, the rest is after the link with the custom text…

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