Go Ask Your Father: Yogurts, Bats, Parrot Speech, and Light Years

I’m a sucker for those sappy, highly predictable Christmas movies. Lucky for us there’s a channel for that. DW and I started watching one before supper. Christmas In The Air. We didn’t have time to finish it before the boys’ bedtime, though. Thankfully, with today’s technology, we can record TV without a big, clunky VCR. With the heathens are asleep, tucked in their beds with visions of slugs, snails and puppy dog tails dancing in their heads, DW and I made ourselves comfy cozy on the couch. I with my blog and her with her crocheting, a couple glasses of wine and the sappy, highly predictable movie we started earlier. It did snow here, today. It was also freezing cold. Winter is coming and Christmas is just a couple corners away. 44 corners, to be exact.

What’s the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt?

I really don’t care. They’re both gross to me. The boys, however, both enjoy their yogurt for a bedtime snack. Bang loves his plain vanilla stuff while his brother enjoys berries in his. Except, just recently, he discovered a seasonal flavor – pumpkin spice Greek yogurt. This kind of yogurt is strained more than the regular stuff. This takes out the whey – the watery part of yogurt. Taking the whey out also removes the sugar and carbs. Sugar and carbs are the bad guys these day. They’re the assholes of the food world. It used to be fat, but fat got pardoned. Sugar and carbs have become the Bonnie and Clyde. That’s another difference – Greek yogurt is higher in fat and lower in sugar and carbs than regular yogurt. It also has more protein which means it will keep you feeling full longer than that sugary regular stuff.

Why can’t bats stand upright?

It sounds like the opening line of a joke. Like a hockey joke that goes “Why don’t Canadians drink tea? Because the Americans have all the cups”. Bats, however, are no joke. They can’t stand up. Their legs are too short and undeveloped for standing. They’re perfect for hanging, though. This is good because it’s the only way the bats will achieve flight. With legs shorter than the Maple Leafs win streak they can’t achieve enough lift from the ground. They can climb, though. So they climb to gain height then fall into flight. Like me sledding off my neighbor’s garage roof.

If parrots don’t have vocal cords how do they talk?

While some parrots, like our Piper bird, learn just a few words, other can learn nearly 2,000. It is true that parrots do not have vocal cords. I know a few people who shouldn’t have them, either. I won’t name any presidential names. Since they have no vocal cords, they use a syrinx. Located at the base of their trachea, its walls vibrate as air passes through it. By adjusting the tension of the syrinx, they can change the sound. In this manner they mimic everything from the smoke detector, to other animals, and learn speech. Alex, an African Grey parrot, understood categorization like “same and different” and “bigger and smaller”. He could identify objects by their shape (“Three-corner”, “Four-corner”, up to “Six-corner”) and material: when shown a pom-pom or a wooden block, he could answer “Wool” or “Wood” correctly as often as a presidential tweet made no sense. Alex could identify the difference between yellow and green same-sized objects by saying “Color” or identify a larger one by naming its color. If asked what the difference was between two identical blue keys, Alex learned to reply, “none.”

What’s a light year?

It’s to infinity and beyond! It’s not a measurement of time, as the word year might suggest. Instead, it’s a measure of distance. It’s the distance light travels in one year. Since it can travel 186,000 miles in one second, you can just imagine how far it goes in a year. You have to multiply that one second by 60 seconds in a minute. Then multiply that by 60 minutes in an hour. Then multiply that by 24 hours in a day. Then multiply that by 365 days in a year. 186,000 x 60 x 60 x 24 x 365 = about 5 trillion 900 billion miles. For comparison, the sun is only 8 light minutes aways. Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to Earth, is 4.4 light years away. For comparison, if the distance between Earth and sun were shrunk to an inch, Alpha Centauri would be four and half miles away. Our universe is huge. In fact, it’s so huge that light hasn’t had enough time to travel from one side to the other of it. Yet, here we are, on this little, blue marble hurtling through all of it.

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Go Ask Your Father: Universe, Rubberband Balls, Owls, and the Inevitable Travel Question

This is our last sleepover for this trip. Tomorrow we’ll attempt Hope for Wildlife and then make trails for home. The boys are excited to see in real life what they’ve been seeing on TV. There are the animals which they love and the rescuers/vets they’ve met through the show. I’m kind of excited, too. DW’s brother say they have a talking crow. We call him Russel or Sheryl. You know… famous Crows.

1. How big is the Universe?

Freakin’ huge. I can’t even begin to fathom the size. It’s measured in distances that light can travel in years. In one second it can travel 186,000 miles. With every tick of the tick tock clock light can travel around the Earth 7 times. So you can imagine the distance it goes in just one year is pretty far. The known universe is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old. This is 3 times older than Earth. When the light left the stars of the farthest galaxies Earth didn’t even exist yet. However, while looking at light that 13.8 billion years old, the universe has moved to 46 billion light years away. This puts the known universe somewhere around 92 billion light years in diameter. Or about the same as Trump’s Ego.

2. How are rubber band balls made?

These are easy. If you happen to have enough rubber bands on hand and an equal amount of time, you can make these fun things on your own. Start with one and simply twist and fold it into a tiny ball. Continue doing this with other bands, wrapping them around your starter. Eventually, you’ll have a ball of rubber bands. The largest one made weighs 9,032 pounds and is 6 feet 7 inches tall. About the same size my Ego.

3. What’s a screech owl?

There are Eastern and Western screech owls and they are very similar. They average the same small size, 6 inches in height or 9 inches  and 4-8 ounces in weight. Adult plumage is a combination of brown, black, and white. Nesting screeches are grey and fuzzy. It’s their voice that sets them apart. If you hear it you would compare it to a kid screaming. Just looking it up. It’s haunting.

Listen to a screech owl

4. How much farther?

If you’re lucky you won’t hear this question get asked before you even leave the driveway. You hope to never hear it during a three hour trip. But, without a doubt, it will be asked. Even if you’re only driving 10 minutes down the road. We’ve made a few side trips since getting here and without a doubt the youngest always wants to know where we’re going and how long it’s going to take to get there. I do my best to give them my best estimate. But sometimes I tell them, “The Promised Land and we’ll be there in 40 days and 40 nights.”

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Go Ask Your Father: Spring, Smarts, Lent, and Brains…

Is it spring, yet?

Thanks to that pesky groundhog, the boys think spring is supposed to come early. I had to explain to them that it was a) just a myth and b) it depends on which groundhog you believe because there are many and not all predict the same things. We had one day of unusually warm weather. It was warm enough to go without a jacket. Since that happened it’s warm enough to go without a coat every day. Or so the oldest believes. Officially, the first day of spring is March 20th. But this is Canada. Warm weather doesn’t get here until later. Much later. Like July.

Will he get smart now?

I haven’t written about this yet, but Crash has been struggling to focus on tasks. When he loses focus the fidgets set in and getting him back on track becomes near impossible. Last year he was diagnosed with ADHD (though he’s more ADD, it all falls under the same umbrella). As teachers, we know that diagnosis can be given easily and many parents opt to medicate. As we found out from the phamacist, some parents just start with highest dose possible. We are not most parents. We opted to educate ourselves and see if we could use some behavior modifications to help him. A year later and nothing has changed. He’s still struggling to focus. So we looked into medication – the lowest dose possible. Bang, having overheard many of our conversations, knows that his big brother is going to take medicine to help him focus in school. Crash takes his pill on the very first morning and Bang, without missing a beat, asks, “Will he get smart now?” Boy did we laugh.

Why is it called Lent?

Ahh. Good old Lent. What I wouldn’t give for a Coke right now. Or any pop/soda/cola. This is the first full week without and I’ve been craving one all week long. Come on Sunday! I know it’s for the better. I know it’s not good for me. But I want one. Lent originally simply meant spring. It’s origins are Germanic, specifically Old English, lencten; also the Anglo-Saxon name for March – lenct. I just wish it was called over so I can have a Coke!

What happens to your brain when you die?

How’s that for morbid curiosity? Obviously, when we die our brains die with us. The heart no longer pumps the needed blood and oxygen required for it to function. According to LiveScience and Jimo Borjigin, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, a study of rats was conducted as they died from a lack of oxygen. Just prior to heart failure, their brain sent a flurry of signals and chemicals to the heart. This combo caused their hearts to stop. The researchers found that when they blocked those signals and chemicals the heart lastest three times longer. After I die, I know exactly what will happen to my brain. It’ll be put in a jar on a shelf right next to Einstein’s.

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Go Ask Your Father: Air Conditioning, AM vs PM, Getting Ashed, and Getting Bread

This ninth week has proven to provide a small amount of luck (9 is a lucky number in this house). I managed a couple days of subbing and am already booked for a day next week. We received a sympathy card in the mail from my aunt and uncle with some $$ in it. The after school ice skating was free today. Nanny cooked us supper this evening. Crash is off at a sleepover with Nanny and Pop so we’re down a kid. The Nintendo Switch became available today (though I’m not lucky enough to be able afford one, it’s nice to know it’s a possibilty). 

1. How do air conditioners work?

In the year 1902 (I think that’s the same year DW and I got married) a young man by the name of Willis Haviland Carrier needed to control the humidity in a lithographing and publishing company so he created what we now call the air conditioner to cool the air. Cool air carries less humidty, therefore his air conditioner was highly effective. 

Today’s air conditioners use simple physics (if physics can be called simple). According to a law of thermodynamics, when a liquid turns to a gas it absorbs heat from the air, thereby making the air cooler. So inside your AC unit is an evaporator in which refrigerant liquid evaporates. The refrigerant has a low boiling point so it turns from liquid to gas (vapor) simply from the warm air of your house passing over the tubes that contain it. From there the refrigerant, now a gas (like steam, but not steam) passes through a compressor. Naturally, the aptly named compressor compresses the gas thereby raising it’s temperature even higher (like a pressure cooker, but not a pressure cooker). Then the refrigerant passes on to the condenser where, if you haven’t guessed yet, the gas condenses (like warm air on the side of your Coke can) where it cools (releasing heat) and turns back into a liquid. Now cooled off it starts reabsorbing heat from the air again (making the air cold) and the whole process starts over. A fan on the inside of your house blows the cooled air around the evaporator into your house. Another fan near the condenser blows the hot air outside your house.

2. What’s AM and PM?

We have Latin to thank for this one. Carpe diem is Latin for sieze the day. AM is Latin for ante meridiem, or before midday. PM, therefore is Latin for post meridiem or after midday. You can carpe diem if you want. Or for those of you who enjoy your sleep you can just carpe PM. We’ll leave the carpe AMing to the farmers and our children.

3. Why do we get ashes on Ash Wednesday?

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and the first day of giving up happiness that which tempts us. For me (and Bang) that was pop. For Crash, chocolate. DW gave up the can of whoop ass. But the ashes placed on forehead in the shape of a cross symbolize something much larger than that material we chose to forego. The ashes are made from burning the palms of last year’s Palm Sunday and are then blessed. The ashes represent our plea to God for mercy and compassion in the forgiving of our sins. On our forehead they are a public admission of guilt and an expression of sorrow for the wrongs we have committed. They are a promise of reform and a pledge to resist temptation in the future. So we give up something that tempts us so we can better appreciate it. I tried to convince Crash and Bang to give up talking so they could better appreciate silence, but they yelled at me for even suggesting it.

4. Can I get bread?

No, Bang wasn’t asking for prison rations. He didn’t want bread and water. I still had to tell him no, though, because he can’t have bread until he’s 6. Next April he will partake in his first communion. At Jesus’s Last Supper (that supper where everyone sat on the same side of the table) Jesus took bread and wine and told his desciples that the bread was his body and the wine his blood and whenever they ate and drank these in his name he would be with them. Wrapped in the Holy Mystery that is the Catholic church, we too can share in the eating of his bread and the drinking of his wine. Perhaps toasted and buttered with a bit of cheese could make the bread and wine better. However, Jesus was a man of simplicity.

Go Ask Your Father: A Verbal Typo, Acid, Radio, and Pee Pees

Happy Friday everyone. We’ve got friends coming for a sleepover with their two little girls. We can’t to see them! (and their parents, too) So here is this week’s question and answer episode. Let’s get smarter!

1. What’s friction?
Bang was sitting on the couch working diligently at some additions problems I printed for him. He solved them with Lego bricks – make a stack of 7 then make a stack of 5 stick them together, count them up and know that 7+5 = 12. Then he asks his mother this question. She tells him it’s when things rub together. Like when you rub your hands together and they get warm, that because of friction.

“Oh. Well then what is a fraction?”

That’s a verbal typo. He said friction, but meant fraction. The difference a vowel can make! So she then explained that a fraction is piece of something, like when you cut a pizza and eat part of it.

2. What’s acid?

It’s a chemical that can be corrosive and dissolve some metals. It can also refer to fruits like citrus that can be acidic. This is what gives them their sour taste. There are acids everywhere, including in your stomach. Normally, your stomach has ph value of 1-3, or up to 4-5 after a large meal. However, for the most acidic acid, which is fluoroantimonic acid, it lands on the Hammet acidity function (kinda like ph) at -28. To give you an idea of how strong that is, a ph of 1 is acidic enough to burn skin. If it’s that strong, what can an acid that strong be contained it? A can of Coke? Nope, Coke has a ph of 2.53. It’s kept in a container made of the same stuff you fry your eggs on. Teflon.

3. What is FM?

Radio waves, believe it or not (hint: believe it), are a form of light. Like microwaves, ultraviolet rays, x-rays, and gamma rays. Of course, it’s not within the visible light spectrum. Developed in 1895 by Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, radio was born when sent and received his first signal. In AM radio, where all the talk shows are, the AM stands for Amplitude Modification. Amplitude is the hight of the wave. So by changing the hight we can change the sound. FM, where the good stations are, stands for Frequency Modulation. Frequency is the rate at which the wave moves or how often the top (crest) of the waves pass in a second. By changing the frequency we can interpret the electromagnetic frequencies as sound. It’s all over my head, really. Even after reading about it for a half hour I’m still not sure how it works. All I know is that when I turn on the radio and hear Rag-n-Bone Man’s Human, I’m happy.

4. Do girls have pee pees?

Do they ever buddy. In our house, pee pee is a general term and can used for both the male and female genitalia. Yesterday I got to explain the differences, albiet carefully. I told Bang that his pee pee is called a penis. A girl’s pee pee, like his mother’s, is called a vagina. “Oh” he says. All the while I was explaining this I was sitting on the toilet doing my business. 

Go Ask Your Father: Fat Lips, Vision, AEDs, and Undertows

Happy Thursday night or whatever time of the week it happens to be for you when you’re reading this. I’m settling in getting ready for yet another snow storm. School was cancelled Monday because of snow. It was cancelled Wednesday because of ice. It’s likely the kids will be home to drive me nuts again tomorrow because of more snow and ice. I’m putting them work if they’re home tomorrow!

Why do we get fat lips?

chapped-lips2You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their lips. You can tell if they’re wearing lipstick, for instance. You tell how big their labial tubercle (that bump in the middle of the upper lip) is. And women, did you know the bigger your labial tubercle the easier it is for you to achieve orgasm? You can also tell if they’ve been in a fight. When the soft tissue of the lips is damaged it becomes inflamed and swollen. This creates what we all know as a fat lip. Bet you never look at lips the same way again.

Beside getting a taste of a knuckle sandwich, fat lips can also be caused by dehydration, an allergic reaction, from a food allergy, or sunburn.

How do eye glasses work?

DW and I are nearsighted (myopia). She wears her glasses all the time. I have a tendency to lose mine. One pair is at the bottom of a river. Being farsighted simply means that our eyes do not have adequate focusing power. In other words, the focus point falls behind the retina instead of on it. Farsightedness (hyperopia) is exactly opposite – it forms a focus point in front of the retina. So eye glasses and contact lenses redirect the light so that it focuses the image on your retina so you see a clear picture.

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The top image shows how light focuses on the retina.

What’s an AED?

While ice skating yesterday, Bang noticed an odd looking box attached the wall outside of the ice rink. Naturally curious he wanted to know what it was. It was an AED or Automated External Defibrillator. Automated because all a user needs to do is follow audio commands connect adhesive electrodes to the patient and from there the computer takes over to check for a pulse and heart rhythm. It will only deliver a shock if it detects a heart that is in ventricular fibrillation (Vfib), when the heart beats with rapid, erratic electrical impulses. This causes pumping chambers in your heart (the ventricles) to quiver uselessly, instead of pumping blood. The shock momentarily stuns the heart and gives it the chance to resume beating effectively. Essentially, it turns it off and turns it back on it again to restart it.

What’s an undertow?

Not to be confused with rip currents, an undertow occurs in all bodies of water where waves crash on shore. It’s strongest in surf zones where the waves are larger. After the wave rolls onto shore gravity pulls back toward the ocean and the water rushes back out collecting in the next wave. This outward rush of water and the inward rush of a wave creates an undertow. They are only dangerous to those who can’t stand against the backwash (outward rush of water) like children as the undertow only goes out to next incoming wave.

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Go Ask Your Father: Trains, Clouds, Supper, and Stars

How do steam trains work?
Like most little boys, and even some big boys, trains are amazing pieces of machinery. Bang came to me to the other day wanting me to look up videos of coal furnaces on steam trains. He wanted to see the coal burning. There were more than enough of such videos on YouTube to satisfy a five year old. Naturally, while watching the coal burn he wondered how it made the steam train chug.

That’s a busy gify. Upon closer inspection you can follow the chain reaction. We’ll start with that bright orange space in the back. The fire. That’s what Bang was originally fascinated by. The heat from the fire is carried through the boiler – the long, horizontal, yellow section. The heated pipes boil the water which rises into the dome at the top. As more and more steam rises it also rises in pressure. The pressurised steam then travels down to the piston. The piston opens alternating sides of a chamber. This alternation moves a larger piston which is connected to a shaft that turns the wheels. It’s this step that give the steam train its signature chugga chugga chugga. The steam is then released from the chimney.

Why are clouds white?
I didn’t really have an answer for this one, right away. I was stumped and had to admit that I didn’t exactly know. I know fog is white, too. But if water is clear, air is clear, why are clouds white? It turns out it’s because of the size of the droplets of water clouds are made of and how sunlight reacts when it goes through said large drops. Do you know what a micron is? It’s 1,000th of millimeter. A droplet of water in a cloud measure about 10 microns. This is HUGE compared to the rays of light passing through it. Like a hotdog down a hallway huge. The light gets scattered, but because the drop are so huge all the light gets scattered equally. When you mix all the colors you get white. So clouds are white because light is white.

What’s for supper?
Seriously? I don’t know. Unless I’m in the mood to make spaghetti/lasagna sauce, I sometimes don’t know what’s for supper until about hangry o’clock. This morning I ask Crash what he wanted for supper and he said McDonalds. I said, “Nope, I’m cooking.” So he suggested shepherds pie. Unfortunately, we just had something similar last night so I made him pick again. He offered pork roast but I had to shoot that down because we’re cooking for DW’s mom’s birthday on Sunday and we might be having that then. The fourth try was tacos. We had taco Tuesday on Friday. Picky eater Bang doesn’t eat tacos. He requested scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon. I put on my short order cook hat and we all got what we wanted. Yummm…

Where are stars?
In DW’s eyes. There’s some on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, too. There are also billions of them in the sky and this is what Bang was referring to as he gazed out of his bedroom window at bedtime this evening. All of the stars you see are in our very own galaxy, The Milky Way. Looking at the night sky, distant galaxies will be confused for a single star. There’s only one star in our solar system – the sun. The nearest star to our sun is called Alpha Centuri. This is actually a 3 star system even though it looks like a single star in the sky. It takes light travelling at 186,000 miles per second four and half years to get here. If it were to suddenly explode we wouldn’t know it until 2021. For the stars even farther away, we see even older light. To compare, the galaxies photographed in Hubble’s Deep Field photo are roughly 13 billion years old (which is also the shelf life of Twinkies). Earth is only 4.5 billion years old so those distant galaxies are 3 times older than our planet! Incredible!

Quetions My Kids Ask: Bacon, Bears, Brains, and Wiggly Teeth

The winds are howling here tonight. If this keeps up we just may wake up in Munchkinland tomorrow. We’re battening the hatches and holding our hats. Knock on wood we don’t lose power. At least then I wouldn’t have to worry about the kids not turning off the lights!

Why does bacon shrink when you cook it?

God this stuff is good. Meat of the heavens. I’m sure you’ve all noticed that the final product is significantly smaller than the original. There are two factors at play. One is water. As the bacon is fried it loses water content. As it loses water content it shrivels right up. Store bought bacon most often has more water in it due to the way it’s cured (injected with brine – aka salt water). They use more water to make the bacon look better. It is also an abundant source so the processor is able to offer it at a lower price. They saccrifice quality for profit and we get what we pay for.

The second factor is fat and the temperature it’s cooked at. Fat rendering is when the fat turns from solid to liquid while cooking. So some of it will cook off and end up in the drain pan. When buying bacon, look for the package that has more pink than white. Also, cook it at the lowest temperature you can. Baking it best, but who their right mind wants to wait an hour for bacon? 

What do bears eat?

Whatever the hell they want. Then they poop wherever the hell they want. Who’s going to stop him? Surely not me. Most people think bears are meat eaters. With the exception of the polar bear, most bears’ diet consists mostly of vegitation. The black bear, for example, eats plants and berries about 85% of the time. The other 15% consists of insects, stolen meat, and small rodents like mice. In the Pacific Northwest they’ll hunt salmon on occassion. Meanwhile, their cousin the grizzly, eats a bit more meat and will hunt bigger game like deer, elk,  moose, and bison. Sometimes they’ll catch fish like salmon and trout. But when meat isn’t readily available they’ll fatten up on moths and other insects. The panda bear, of course, eats strictly vegitation. So, like I said, they eat whatever they want. Some are carniverous, most are omniverous, and a select few are vegans  herbivores.

What does your brain look like?

Once upon a time Bang thought brains looked like a spring. I don’t know why he thought that. I corrected him during our discussion of him wanting to be a neurosurgeon when grows up. They look like greyish, pinkish, wrinkly, sponges. There also seems to be a corrolation between the “hills” (gyri) and the “valleys” (sulci) and intellegence. It is thought that the more ridges an animal has the more intellegent it is. For example, mice have smooth brains while human and monkey brains are full of ridges. Though with some humans I truly wonder if they really do have ridges like a marble…

Do you have any wiggly teeth?

I do not, thankfully. Though with what the tooth fairy doles out sometimes I’m half tempted to start knocking them out myself. I have all my adult teeth minus the two wisdom teeth I had pulled. Crash and Bang on the other hand don’t have all their adult teeth yet. Crash still has about 6 more teeth to lose! Bang has his first new tooth coming in and it’s causing two teeth to start to wiggle. Sometimes we swear they’re sharks with multiple rows of teeth. Have you ever seen a kids x-ray of their teeth. You can clearly see their adult teeth up inside their head just waiting to move down and shove out their cute little baby teeth. Just Google “x-ray of kids teeth”. Either way, it’s great to have teeth that allow us to eat bacon.

Go Ask Your Father: Overflow, Driveways, Hitchhikers, Puberty

I’ve been having lots of fun with the GoPro. Yesterday I attempted my first time lapse video. It turned out okay. It ended up only lasting 8 seconds. DW’s dad has 16 cords of wood he needs split and stacked so I was going to try and do a time lapse showing how much we got done. When your help has a combined age of 14, you don’t get much done. Today I changed the perspective from the same vantage point. I set the camera in the same spot, but this time I focused on the stacks we were making. I’m still in the editing process so I’m not sure how it’ll turn out yet. Today’s combined age was 79 (DW helped). Nix that. My computer had trouble, or Windows Movie Maker had trouble with the 4,918 photos from the time lapse video. I will have something else for you, though. Also I have some exciting new blog linto share, too. See you tomorrow!

2. What does overflow mean?

This one is a spin off from a question that was asked earlier. That hole in the sink has a purpose and it’s not for getting fingers stuck in. It’s an overflow drain. But was is overflow? Sometimes in order to explain a certain concept, a more basic concept needs to be understood first. For example, to understand that dad is going to eat 1/2 of your chocolate, you need understand what 1/2 means. So while explaining the overflow drain I had to digress and discuss overflow. It’s when you pour too much milk into your cup and it spills on the counter. It’s when you put too much water in the sink and it spills onto the floor. And, yes, even the toilet can overflow when it’s clogged. Since finding this out, Bang now flushes twice. Once when he’s done his business. Then again after he’s wiped.

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4. What’s a hidden driveway?

There is a twisty, turny, make-your-DW-carsick kind of road we travel sometimes on our way to the cottage at the lake. It makes me feel like I’m driving the Monaco Grand Prix.

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via GIPHY (and Formula 1 via YouTube)

Except that on the backroad cars can enter and exit the raceway road at any given time. Around any given blind turn. Over any given blind hill. So I try not to do 104 kmh. I do more like 60. Our RAV4 isn’t quite the high performance, low center of gravity that the F1 cars are. And I am not Mario Andretti. My mother-in-law thought she was one day, though.

6. What’s a hitchhiker?

Typically, a hitchhiker is someone on the side of a road with their hand making a fist with their thumb sticking out and pointing skyward. As far as I know it’s the international sign for “pick my ass up”. I’ve never hitchhiked. I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker either. Mostly due to a story (the way I remember it) I heard about my dad’s sister being forced to drive from Maryland to Pennsylvania. Where we live now, it’s almost an acceptable means of travel. We see the thumbers frequently. Have no car? Start walking. Eventually someone might pick you up. The hitchhiker in question here is a much different kind. This one is of the insect variety and therefore has no thumbs. Be it a butterfly or a dragonfly or a horsefly or even a spider (all except the horsefly are welcome riders) land on our kayaks for a brief rest. If it’s a dragonfly, I say, “Hi, Grandma.”

8. Why do you have hair on your pee pee?

It was just a matter of time before this one was asked. This one was easy, a level one, beginner parent kind of question. 99.99% households with kids know the bathroom is the ideal location for a family gathering. One never goes alone. The shower included. It saves time and water, though, to shower with the little imps. You get clean. They get clean. The bathroom doesn’t flood like Louisanna from a toddler pretending to be Shamu. So when I was asked this I simply told him it was because I went through puberty and that he will too when he is 12 or so. I was seriously prepared for the “What’s puberty?” question, but it never came. I guess the answer I provided was sufficient. Surprisingly, there was no overflow of questions.

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Go Ask Your Father: Vibrate, Thieves, Asphalt, and Decency

We survived our double header ball games last Sunday. My ass cheeks beg to differ, though. I just gained a new level of respect for my parents. With the amount of sports I played growing up, they must have spent a total of a gajillion years sitting in the bleachers watching and cheering. Soccer in the fall, wrestling in the winter, baseball all spring and summer. Now it’s come back to bite my arse. Literally.

Anyway, Crash didn’t get a hit. Notta one. Didn’t even make contact. Well, he did once. One pitch hit him on the head. Thanks to his helmet he didn’t even feel it and off to first base he went. He was walked a few times (I say they were afraid to pitch to him) and struck out once. We have another double header tomorrow. My ass is dreading it.

How does the roller vibrate?

Lots of things vibrate. And they vibrate for very different reasons. However, it is an asphalt compactor, affectionately known as a “roller”. The vibration adds a dynamic load (aka a load in motion like a car or a roller) to the asphalt. The vibration moves the asphalt particles into a position that allows for more friction. Friction is good. Ooohhh soooo good. The asphalt roller vibrates the same way a pager does (remember those ancient things?)… with a rotating eccentric weight. Think of it as a wheel with the axle near the edge instead of in the center. Then speed it up to million miles per hour and you’ve got a machine that’ll rattle the dishes in the cupboard from a mile away.

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What’s a thief?

I consider their mother a thief. She stole my heart. That’s way up there on the cheese factor. This question arose from our most usual source, a book. As usual it was about trucks. This one was about the armored bank truck. In this case, a thief is someone who steals or takes something that doesn’t belong to them. Stealing from an armored truck is difficult (but not impossible). The Black Liberation Army did it back in ’81. They were later caught and sentenced to three consecutive twenty-five year-to-life sentences, making them eligible for parole in the year 2058. Proving it’s better to steal warm hearts than cold cash.

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How hot is the asphalt?

As I’m sure you remember, we had some big machines in our driveway: excavators, dump trucks, rollers, a grader and a paver. I think there was one Friday that consisted of nothing but machine questions while they were here. A little boy was in his glory. One of the questions I missed was this one. How hot is it? When it arrives at the site via dump truck it is roughly 275 – 300 degrees (F). Basically hot enough to cook your turkey. It will lose a few degrees in transport from plant to site so the paver reheats it to the required temperature. Then the roller will take over and pound the shit out of it and shake the shit out of your house.

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What is decent?

Hopefully this post. I KNOW this one is decent. I was apparently decent enough to marry, eh babe? We tell the boys dress decent because they LOVE what we call scruff clothes. Ratty, torn, worn out clothes. I can’t blame them. Those are bestest, mostest comfortablest clothes to wear. They got that way by being worn every god damn day. It took work to get those clothes that comfortable. But they’re not decent any more. Decent means good or acceptable. It can be used as a compliment or an insult.

Exhibit A:
We got a decent deal on that new car!

Exhibit B:
Was it good for you?
It was decent.

It’s good enough. It’s certainly less than breathtaking, awe-inspiring, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning, staggering, or mind blowing. But certainly more than boring, awful, disgusting, boring, or unimpressive. Well, was it good for you?

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