Go Ask Your Father: Mail, Pool Vacuums, Microscopes, and Supernovas

DW started her day at the park planting trees. She planted tree trees. That’s Cape Bretonese meaning “three trees”. Afterward, we went to finish splitting some firewood for my step-mom-in-law. We just call her Nanny Sharon. It only took about an hour and half to finish it as we already put in 4 hours splitting last week. Little Bang loved running the splitter and helping to throw the split wood onto the pile. Big Crash helped with that part, too.

After lunch we started stacking it in her basement. Her basement will hold a half a winter’s worth, or more, of wood. Our little work horse continued helping for another couple of hours. His big brother sat inside entertaining the cats.

Two kids with the same parents yet they have polar opposite work ethics.

1. How does a letter know where to go?

The owls just know. It’s magic.

It starts at the post office where you drop your letter off. Usually, the letters we mail are the ones the boys wrote to their cousins. A week or so later they get a reply. It’s like magic. Anyway, the post office sorts the mail by postal code (zip code for you Americans, except here in Canadaland we have letters and numbers). Once they’re sorted they’re sent to a processing plant that is nearest to that postal code. The processing plant has special cameras that can read the printed address and will sort the letters based on the postal code. This sorting enables the letters to be sent to the post office that handles that particular code. The post office receives the letter, and will either place the letter in the correct mail slot if it’s a post office box or send it on it’s way with the mail carrier who will deliver it to the correct mailbox. I’d send post by owl if I could just catch one.

2. How does the pool vacuum work?

This came to us over the summer where Bang learned to swim without a life jacket. Their pool vacuum looked like a giant ladybug. I won’t lie, it was pretty cute. Naturally, Bang was curious about it. Oddly, it works in much the same way as a household vacuum. A pump inside the unit creates suction. The water, dirt, and debris are sent by hose to the pool skimmer (where to look when you lose anything that floats, ie my wife). The pool skimmer will filter out the dirt, debris, and wife and send the cleaned water back into the pool. The little robot wanders around the bottom of the pool sucking up water and dirt like it’s their job.

3. Is this microscope powerful enough to see blood cells?

First off, you need to know there are two kinds of microscopes, compound and stereo. A compound microscope is good for magnifying the tiny details of the material being observed. It has one eyepiece. A stereo microscope generally has a lowered powered magnification for bettert view of whole materials – pollen, rock crystals, etc… – in 3D. It has 2 eyepieces.

Our little compound microscope that DW brought home from her classroom with a highest magnification of 200x? Nope, no blood cells will be seen with this. It would be the equivalent of SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) using binoculars. It’s just not strong enough. We can look at onion skin, salt, sugar, lettuce veins, fly’s wings, and a freezie wrapper. The printing on the wrapper reveals it’s printed with dots. You need a magnification of no less than 400x to see blood cells. You’ll need the same magnification to see sperm.

4. How big are supernovas?

In the night sky, they’re tiny. They look like stars, if you’re lucky enough to spot one. I have Googled the shit out of this one and the best I can come up with for an answer is “They are the largest explosions in space”. Thanks NASA for that generalization. We have no worries about our sun going supernova on us. It doesn’t have enough mass. However, once it runs out of fuel it will swell to a red giant and vaporize Earth before it shrivels into a white dwarf (Sleepy or Tyrion?). There are two types of supernova. In type one, a star collects matter from a nearby star until a runaway nuclear reaction ignites the explosion. In type two, a star runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity. They eject matter up to 25,000 miles per second. That’s around the Earth’s equator in one second. It’s also how fast I come running when someone hollers, “I’ve got chocolate!”

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I haven’t gone supernova yet, so you can still find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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One Year with A GoPro

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Lights. Camera. Action!

I finally got another video uploaded. Since you’re here to read instead of watch a YouTube I’ll tell you about it.

Last August I received a GoPro for my birthday from my brother and his family and our parents. They went splitsies on it and surprised me. Over the past year I have, of course, been using it. I wasn’t content to simply use it to video action shots and underwater, though. I know that’s GoPro’s main attraction and it does it well.

I wanted more.

I learned that birds aren’t camera shy. I set the camera on the bird feeder stand and got great shots of the finches feeding. I set the camera on a tripod just a few feet from the bird bath that we converted to a bird feeder. Though it was for bigger birds – blue jays, crows, stupid pigeons, and the occasional grackle. We put peanuts in it.  They loved the peanuts and we loved watching them pick the nuts from the shell. The camera got them loud and clear while we were inside not scaring the birds.

I learned that I can use it to spy on my kids. I set the camera up, slightly hidden, in the bathroom. I would then wi-fi connect to it on my phone and DW and I could easily watch the boys “get ready for bed”. Here “get ready for bed” means wrestle, play in the water in the sink, scare the shit out of each other, and generally not “get ready for bed”. They never did figure out how we knew what they were doing without being up there.

I learned that it’s good for all 4 seasons. In the summer we take it pools and the beach and bike riding and roller blading and kayaking. In the fall it’s good for all that except the pool and beach, but it’s good for hiking then. Come winter it’s good for sledding and ice skating. In the spring we’re back to biking and blading and trampolining.

It’s also good if you just want to talk to your camera viewers. I still find it a bit weird to do, but if you see the video you’ll see that I do talk to it sometimes.

Anyway, the show goes from 40th birthday party to my 41st birthday party. I had to take a break after the clip of my birthday last year. DW’s dad is there and his arms are just a waving, conducting our severely out of tune, yet strongly heartfelt tune of Happy Birthday. I had to leave the video editing until the next day.

I’m still toying with the idea of a “sister sight” on YouTube to accompany my blog. Essentially, I would just be covering the same material only I would do it for others to watch instead of read. But really… where would I find the time to both blog and YouTube? Not like I have anything else to do…

How A Cookie Saved My Life

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I was walking home from school today and as I passed the grocery store I thought to myself (though I really said it aloud) “I should pick something up for dessert.” So I picked up monster cookies. These cookies are store made, the size of a man’s hand, and loaded with tiny M&M’s. Soft. Chewy. 8 cookies per pack.

So I buy the cookies and continue walking home. At the corner of McDonald’s and the gas station I push the pedestrian crossing button. Now, you might not believe me, but it’s true, I swear. I pushed that button and hole opened in the sidewalk. I peered in and there was a man down there. He looked exactly like me! I hollered down to him, “Do you need help?” He just looked up at me. So I offered him one of my monster cookies. “Mon up and have a cookie” I told him. I knew he could smell it because his nose twitched. I took a step back holding out the cookie. Lo and behold, out of the hole he climbed. So I gave him a monster cookie just like I promised. I think he smiled, then he simply walked away.

Being a curious guy, I looked into the hole again. It was empty now, but it was only about 4 or 5 feet deep so I climbed in. It was a tunnel, not a hole! I crawled in a short way and I suddenly felt myself sliding down. The tube was smooth and I couldn’t stop myself. I must have slide for at least 27 minutes.

Once I stopped moving I thought I was deep under ground, but I was wrong. I was under water! Technically, I was inside a huge bubble under water. It was a city inhabited by frog people. Two of them wrapped me up with their long sticky tongues and led me away. They took me to who I believed to be their queen. I thought of kissing her to see if she’d turn into a princess, but I kept my lips to myself. Turns out she wanted to send me to the slave pits to smash clams. Then I remembered the cookies so I offered her one for my freedom. I knew she could smell them because she licked her green frog lips.

They kick me out of their city on a green submarine that was piloted by a pirate. I don’t know where the pirate came from or why he had a submarine. I forgot to ask. Now, I know pirates are known thieves and this one seemed as slippery as squid snot. He looked at me with his one good eye and said, “Aye matey. You’ll make a fine deck hand on my pirate ship.” I always thought it would be fun to go sailing and work on those big, tall ships. Argh, the pirate life is not for me. So I offer him a monster cookie to drop me off somewhere safe. Preferably home.

Apparently pirates don’t negotiate, but they do eat cookies. That pirate left me on a deserted island. I walked around the island to find a way off. No luck. Then I walk through the woods and what do I find there? A giant, silver, flying saucer. Well it wasn’t flying, it was landed. Once the aliens saw me, though, they took me aboard. I thought for sure I was going to be probed in parts that aren’t for probing. They buckled me into a seat instead. Then it became a flying saucer. They said we were going to their planet, Xorgon and I would be put in the human zoo. I told their leader that I had cookies and he (she? I couldn’t tell) could have one if they’d take me back to Earth.

Now we’re on our way back to Earth, so I was told, when we suddenly stop. Lights of all colors were bouncing off the walls. Turns out we were stopped by intergalactic police! I told the leader alien the best way to get out of getting a ticket is to flash some boob, before I realized she didn’t have any boobs. Anyway, they arrest me for smuggling humans, even though I was the human. I’m riding in the back to the police rocket and I say, “Excuse me, Officer, I have this delicious cookie you can have if you don’t put me in jail. Police are easy to bribe. They’ll do anything for a cookie.

I’m sitting in the police station of some far off planet when Chief tells me a taxi is coming. You should have seen the size of this rocket ship taxi!  I climb in the co-pilot’s seat and we take off for Earth. We were going so fast that if I had had hair it would have caught fire. This taxi driver was a maniac! “Slow down!” I shout. He laughs, his fat belly jiggles, and a button popped off his shirt. Fortunately, he slows down. “Give me a cookie,” he says, “Or we’ll go even faster.” I had no choice but to give him one.

The taxi drops me off on Earth. I could tell something was different but couldn’t quite place it until I heard a thunderous sound and felt the ground shake. I could only stand in awe as a 40 foot T-Rex approached. It roared a monstrous roar. I threw a monster cookie at it and took off running. Then I saw a shimmery blue oval hovering in front of me, like a wall. With a terrible lizard wanting the rest of my cookies I had no choice but to jump in.

I found myself in a dark room. It smelled of dirt, felt like rock and was too short for me to stand up in. So I sat in my dark room and ate the last monster cookie. I must have sat there for at least 27 minutes when suddenly a bright light shone down on me. I squinted and looked up. “Do you need help?” I heard someone ask. I couldn’t see him because of the bright sunlight in my eyes. “Mon up and have a cookie,” I heard him say. The cookie smelled so good it made my nose twitchy. So I carefully climbed up out of the hole, took the cookie, smiled and walked home.

And this, kids, is why there is only one cookie left.

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Questions I Asked My Kids: ep 43

1. If you were to make a new flavor of potato chip, what flavor would you make?

Crash: Strawberry
Bang: Strawberry apple
Mom: Asiago something

2. If you create a new baseball team to play the Orioles, what would their name be and what colors is their uniform?

Crash: The Benchwarmers and they’d be light brown and white
Bang: Their uniform would be yellow and black and white. Their name would be The Jeffy Bronze
Mom: [stares blankly]

3. If you had to change your name to something in this room, what would you be called?

Crash: Janigle (one of his stuffies)
Bang: Wall
Mom: George (as in Curious George)

4. If Canada were to make a new coin, who’s face should they put on it?

Crash: My own
Bang: Pop Pop’s
Mom: Mine

5. Would you rather have 4 eyes or 4 arms. Why?

Crash: 4 arms so I could do the dishes faster (he doesn’t do dishes)
Bang: 4 arms so I can floss my teeth faster
Mom: 4 arms so I can get more done

6. What would be the coolest why to go to school?

Crash: Bugatti
Bang: Airplane
Mom: Hovercraft

7. What would be the grossest jelly bean flavor?

Crash: Snot
Bang: Hippopotamus
Mom: Poop

8. If you had to describe yourself with one word, what would you NOT use?

Crash: Stupids
Bang: Boring
Mom: Skinny

9. What song do you want to listen to in the truck?

Crash: That song on Google Play music that made us laugh (it was on Ini Kamoze station, but I have no idea which song or who sings it)
Bang: Here Comes the Hotstepper
Mom: Play that Song

10. What animal would be funny to bring into our house?

Crash: Elephant because when he sits on the couch he’ll break it
Bang: Another Piper (quaker parrot)
Mom: Monkeys who fling poo at Hubband

Questions I Asked My Kids and My Parents: Episode 42

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Here’s how it played out this evening…

Me: Where is your bowl of salsa that you didn’t finish?
The Boys: Spilled on the basement stairs
Me: (deep sigh) So it’s all over the carpet?
The Boys: And the wall.

Just another day cleaning up messes! As you can read in the title I included my parents in the festivities this week. They, like the boys, they didn’t fail to entertain… Happy Reading!

1. If part of your body became robotic, which part would you want it to be?

Crash: My heart
Bang: My ribs, they would explode then grow again
Nana: My brain. Hopefully a robot brain would work better than mine.
Pop Pop: My head

2. What will you miss about being a kid when you grow up?

Crash: I’m going to miss not having to go to jail
Bang: Playing Mario Kart Wii because I’ll have to go to places and stuff like that
Nana: Being so naive to the problems of the world.
Pop Pop: No schedules

3. Pretend you’re a deep sea diver and you find a treasure chest. How did it get there?

Crash: There were two pirate ships with laser cannons and one shot lasers at the other ship that had 10 treasure chests with 350,000,000 dollars. The laser sunk the ship and scattered the treasure chests across the ocean.
Bang: Somebody exploded a crystal and there was a treasure chest in it and they threw it in the water
Nana: Pirates
Pop Pop: I put it there because I have too many

4. If you were to start a new collection, what would you like to collect?

Crash: Funko Pops
Bang: Pillows
Nana: Money
Pop Pop: Cars

5. If your skin were to turn into the skin of an animal, which animal would you choose?

Crash: Chameleon
Bang: Turtle skin
Nana: Otter, their pelt is gorgeous and waterproof
Pop Pop: Jaguar

6. If your voice turned into an animal sound, which animal would you want to sound like?

Crash: A lion so I could be a roaring chameleon
Bang: A cow MOOOOO!
Nana: Hyena, they laugh all the time.
Pop Pop: Grizzly Bear

7. If you got to put any three things from the grocery store in the cart, what would you put in?

Crash: Bear Paws, Milk, and Cookies
Bang: Ice cream, cookies, and lemons
Nana: Famous Amos cookies, Moose Tracks ice cream, and the store’s safe!
Pop Pop: Butter pecan ice cream , red meat and the lottery ticket dispenser

8. What do you love to learn about?

Crash: Video games
Bang: God
Nana: US History
Pop Pop: UFO’s and Aliens

9. If your picture was in the dictionary, what word would it be next to?

Crash: Amazing
Bang: Eye
Nana: D’oh
Pop Pop: Immortal

10. What does Mom want for Mother’s Day?

Crash: Tickets to a spa, no doubt.
Bang: To get squished! Or a canvass to paint on
Nana: Good question
Pop Pop: Amazon Gift Card

Are you questioning where to find me? I have an answer: Facebook and Twitter!

Lucy At Home

The Daily Elf: The Finale

This day tugs at my heartstrings, y’all. Christmas Eve and the kids are wired for sound. Perpetual motion. A blur of constant motion like a toddler hyped up on a double double*.

Their excitement is contagious. In a year I suspected one would start questioning Santa, we got lucky. He brought it up once. I denied it. He let it go. I’ve got another post coming about that.

Through all this excitement comes bedtime. The boys know they aren’t allowed to touch the elves on account they’ll lose their magic ability to fly back to the North Pole. However, tonight is special. Tonight’s the night magic happens. They are allowed to hug the elves good bye and tell them, “See you next December.” Tonight Santa will arrive with his bag full of goodies. Woody and Elfis will have their magic restored by Santa and will join him on his flight. After seeing the elves for 24 days, they become a normal part of our house. It makes me sad to see them go. I think I need help…

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*A double double is a coffee with 2 cream and 2 sugar for those of you were curious but too shy to ask.

The Daily Elf

It’s after midnight. I didn’t turn into a pumpkin. Or a fruitcake.

DW and I just spent the last 4 hours wrapping presents. It was going okay until one of the elves became ever so slightly inebriated. You can tell by his wrapping.

And DW’s snorting laughter at him. Good times. We’re not done yet, but the rest will have to wait.

As for our elves… they had a little fun behind the Christmas tree. And no, they weren’t inebriated.

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The Daily Elf

The boys were super excited to see Woody and Elfis in our hotel room yesterday and today. They really wanted us to, without touching them of course, put them in our suitcase so they could come home with us.

I said, “No. If they found their way to us 3 hours from home and even knew which room of the 16 floor hotel we were in, they could get home just as easy.”

Crash was worried. He did NOT want to leave them behind. But we did. You can now imagine how excited he was to hear his little brother shout, “I found them!” from atop the stairs when we got home. There they were, perched comfortably in the stockings hanging on the boys bedroom doors.

The Daily Elf

Folks, I don’t know how they did it. 

Magic. 

That’s the only explanation.

We checked into our hotel and met DW’s cousin for supper.

Mmmm Boston Pizza…

Upon our return who do we see hanging from the TV in our hotel room? 

Woody and Elfis! They followed us here! How amazing! The boys were beside themselves. Sorry for the poor photo quality. I had to take the pic with my tablet and no flash. Here they are 3 hours from home with us…

The Daily Elf

Elves after my own heart…

Of course they LOVE to read! So do we. Crash already has his book picked out for our road trip tomorrow. He doesn’t have clothes picked yet, but by God he knows what he’s going to read. And Bang wants to write more stories. I love these kids!

Ask me again tomorrow after being in the truck for three hours with them.

Anyway, here are our elves “hiding”.

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