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.


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.


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.


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?



Go Ask Your Father: Pavers, Returning, Fortunes, and Sleeps

Today is a happy sad day. I just returned from dropping Bang off at his last day of kindergarten (aka preschool). He starts “big kid school” in September! WTF? It wasn’t that long ago he was a funny little infant. Now he gets to school and doesn’t need/want mom or dad to help and explicitly says so.

I said to one of his teachers this morning, “This is the last time I’ll be dropping him off” with a frown. She said, “I know! I told him the other day ‘I’m going to miss you when you go to big kid school’ and he told me, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Shannon. I’ll come up to see you and give you a hug and tell you I love you.” I told her that he will and she said that’s exactly what the other teacher said. He’s a lovey little boy for sure.

1. How do pavers work?

I’m sure you saw this question coming. I could make today entirely about the machines that occupied our driveway in the past two weeks. The most interesting to the boys though was the paver. This beast takes a pre-heated load of asphalt into its hopper from a dump truck. From there an auger (screw) moves the asphalt to rollers which are heated to 300+ (F). This heat further softens the asphalt making it like oatmeal. The paver then spreads the oatmeal over the surface being laid simultaneously flattening and compacting it. After it cools a bit, a roller will finish the job. When the roller vibrates it will literally rattle the dishes in the cupboard.

2. Are you coming back, Dad?

Backstory: I was called in to substitute after school had already started because a teacher wasn’t feeling well. This question got asked as I was walking out the door at 9:30.

In short, yes, buddy, I’m coming back. In long, I won’t be right back. I’m not sure if he meant right back or back later, but he was curious to know if I was coming back. This is where I keep my food and my new mower so I’ll definitely be back.

new mower

I considered doing an “unboxing” video but decided against it

3. What’s a fortune?

There are big fortunes and there are small fortunes. Birthdays are good for bringing the latter. Fortunes are like infinities, they come in all kinds of sizes. There are an infinite number of numbers counting upward as there is indeterminate number of dollars one can have. There is also an infinite number of numbers between 0 and 1. This would be equivalent to a small fortune. It’s all relative to the one holding the cash and anyone eyeballing it wondering if they’re going to share their fortune big or small.

4. How many more sleeps until I’m six?

He had just turned 5. Literally 3 days had passed when this one was asked. 362 sleeps since it’s not a leap year. 362 sleeps until you turn six. He found a candle in the cupboard, “Hey! I found a 6 candle!” (it was in the shape of a six) No, we’re not planning that far ahead. Flip it over dude. It’s your brother’s 9 candle. However, there are only 9 more sleeps until your brother turns 9 and 44 more sleeps until your dad’s birthday.


Go Ask Your Father: Teapots, Puddles, Holes, and Big Numbers

What a week it’s been. Nothing big happened, but we sure were busy. Or at least it felt like it. FitBit says I have walked the length of the Great Barrier Reef, 1,600 miles, since last June. In the last seven days I have averaged 17,052 steps. Crash is still ahead of me, little bugger. Maybe that’s why I’m tired. It has nothing to do with staying up until 11:30 reading a book only two other people in the whole world have read.

Have you ever received an email from your kid’s teacher and the subject line simply says “this morning”. There’s always a brief hesitation where you hope it’s good but think “Oh God. What did he do?” Turns out Crash had a great day at school yesterday. His teacher sent him to write by hand on lined paper to a table at the back of the room. This was to eliminate the distractions around him. It worked like a genie in a bottle. She said he wrote a play for two and half hours. The ‘by hand on lined’ paper is important because sometimes his handwriting can be atrocious. She said it was neat and on the lines! Ahhh… the little things in life…

1. Why’s he holding a golden teapot?

all_hearts___genie_by_lynxgriffin-d52g7ljHe’s holding a golden tea pot because a long time ago the Gods punished the Jinn civilization by scattering to the wind. The evil ones were imprisoned. The golden teapot referenced here, though belongs not to my grandmother but to a Genie. More specifically, Aladin’s Genie. And the teapot isn’t a teapot. It’s an oil lamp.  According to legend, Genies, or Jinn, date back to about 2400 BC, over 4,000 years ago. Ironically, that’s around the same time my parents met and fell in love. According to the Qur’an, God created jinn out of the “fire of a scorching wind”. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that Europe’s Antoine Galland, the translator of the original Arabian Nights, added a few self authored tales to the collection. His best sellers included Ali Ababa and the Forty Theives and Aladdin. Aladdin’s genie was stuffed in a bottle and has been there for the past 300 years. Or at least until NBC dreamed up a genie in ’65 Disney made him blue and sing about friendships in ’92.

2. Why do the puddles instantly disappear?

It was a warm, summerish day as we were driving down the highway when Crash pipes up with this question. There were puddles on the road up ahead that seemed to be moving faster than us. But, generally speaking, puddles don’t move. This is called a mirage. Or more specifically, an inferior mirage (not a superior mirage). It’s only inferior because the mirage is  located under the real object. A heat haze, such as the one Crash experienced, is a type of inferior mirage. Heat hazes are about as unstable as a Kardashian. Pretty much for the same reasons, too. Hot air. Light bends differently in different temperatures of air. This mixing of temperatures causes images to distort when looked at.


3. What’s that hole for?

He nearly got his finger stuck in the hole in question. I was brushing the toast crumbs (and the rest of the day’s food) from his teeth when this one popped up. This is simply the overflow drain. If your sink (or your tub, because it has one, too) fills up too high, this overflow drain reroutes the water back down the pipes rather than onto your floor.


ignore the math here

This is a good thing because during one storm (hurricane) we started filling our bathtub in case we lost power. Naturally, we lost power while the tub was filling. We were on a well at the time so we lost water at the same time we lost electricity. We went out that evening after the storm but before the power was restored. When we came home the power was on and the faucet in the tub was running on full blast. Had it not been for that overflow drain we would have effectively flooded our own house (but not quite as effectively as kids in the tub can do it). Also, many damns have overflow drains to prevent their reservoir from flooding. It works in much the same way except it reroutes the water past the damn. It also looks creepy.


4. What’s a big number?

I used to think infinity was pretty big. Doesn’t infinity last forever and have no end? Howblast-off-buzz-lightyear can anything be bigger than that? Apparently you can count past infinity. This means Buzz Lightyear had it right all along, “To infinity and beyond!” Michael of Vsauce describes how to count past infinity in this video. Be careful, though, it’s mind blowing. But the “big number” in question isn’t a number at all. It’s an expression. We use it describe damages, injuries, amounts eaten, etc… “Wow, he did get quite a number on his knee!” in reference to when Crash fell down while play outside at school. The number he did earned him an early dismissal. It was (and still is) gross. Or “She did a big number to your finger when she bit you!” in reference to when TimBit bit Bang’s finger. That was gross, too. If you eat many pizza slices you have done a number to it. If you smash your car you’ve done number to it also. If you give yourself a haircut and it looks like a toddler did, you have done a number. In any of the numbers (except maybe pizza) you’ll wish you had some genie wishes to take back your number.



G is for… Sun, Jacob, Erosion and Skin #atozchallenge

GGo is a versatile word. It can encouraging. Go for it! It can be discouraging. Go away.

On your mark. Get set. Go! It signifies the beginning of something. In this case, a race. It could be a journey, an adventure, or just a simple task.

It can be used negatively. Go! I don’t care where you go! Just go!

It can be used to give direction. Go left. Go Google it. Go to the store. Go get me chocolate.

Today is Friday so Go Ask Your Father.

1. How high is the sun?

Not as high as Snoop Dogg.

sun-clipart-transparent-sun-with-shades-clipart-picture-5Looking up, it appears the sun and the moon are in the sky. No wonder our ancestors believed they revolved around the Earth. We know they’re not really in the sky like the clouds and birds and planes. That would be disastrous. Since Earth’s orbit is elliptical (fancy word for oval) our distance changes. In early January, winter for those of in the northern hemisphere, Earth closest to the sun at roughly 91 million miles, or the distance a typical run on the treadmill feels like. However, come the beginning of July Earth has moved away from sun to about 94 and a half million miles or the distance of any car trip with at least two kids fighting in the back seat. This averages to 93,000,000 miles. The Goldilocks Zone- or the zone astronomers look at in other star systems to find habitable planets. Any closer and water boils. Any father away and not even an electric blanket will save you.

2. Who is Jacob?

If you remember this time last week, A was for Ask. How convenient. That day, the boys and I climbed Jacob’s Ladder in Victoria Park – an incredibly long flight of stairs on a hiking path. It was on the way back, Crash wondered aloud at exactly who Jacob was. Jacob is a biblical character, the younger twin of Esau. One day, Jacob made stew and Esau wanted some. Jacob said sure, but only if you give me your first born rights (double inheritance). Esau, being hungry, said sure. When the time came for dad to bestow blessings, he gave his blessing to Jacob, the second born. Esau was pissed and threatened to kill his brother. Jacob ran away. It was during his running away when he had dream of a ladder that reached clear to Heaven.

Not this Jacob’s Ladder…


3. What’s erosion?

This one, too, came about while hiking in Victoria Park. This is why I like getting them out. New questions. Questions I don’t need Google’s help with. Erosion is the wearing down of the land by wind and water and ice. The erosion of my last nerve is completely different. Over millions of years erosion can have a huge impact. Just look at what the Colorado River did to create the Grand Canyon. That’s some crazy erosion. On a smaller scale, just look at sand dunes. They’re constantly moving with the wind. Rivers meander. There is also chemical erosion (think of that rust on a ’92 jalopy). It all has to do with wearing down. And when you erode my last nerve, you get a time out and sent to your room.

4. Why is he black skinned?

I knew it was only a matter of time before this question was asked. But, as I explained to Crash during that soccer game we were watching on TV, skin comes in all kinds of colors. It’s caused by a pigment called melanin. Two forms of melanin are produced-pheomelanin which is red to yellow in color, and eumelanin , which is dark brown to black. [confession: I Googled the two types] I don’t know what kind of melanin gives avatars blue skin. Different areas of the world have developed different pigments of skin. As my brother once stated, “We’re not white, we’re peach.” In the summer our skin darkens as a way of protecting itself from the sun. Even with SPF 60 all day every day, your skin will darken. We just don’t want it to turn red. Here’s my PSA… where sunscreen. No matter what mix of melanin you have.



Go Ask Your Father: Willis, Wedgies, A Second, and Tentacles

Welcome to Friday. Or as our local radio morning show host loves to holler, it’s FFFFRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!

I don’t know how many of you watch Grey’s Anatomy but last night’s episode was great. No spoilers from me, I promise. I’m just glad to start hearing more about this beef between Hunt and Riggs.

orioles211In even bigger news, my Orioles pitchers and catchers have reported to Sarasota for spring training. Today they begin training! This means there are only 45 more days until their home opener. Bring on baseball! Unfortunately, here in Canadaland, hockey lasts until the beginning of June. June? There’s no ice in June!

Yesterday, the kids answered my questions. They were as comical as expected. According to Bang he’s going to be 80 when he gets married and he’s going to have 66 kids. Meanwhile his brother will be 18 or 19 and have one good kid. You can read the rest of their answers here if you missed them.

Now to answer theirs…

1. Who’s Willis?

Exactly who is this Willis we’re talking about when we say “Whatchoo talkin’ about Willis”. It’s our friend from the 70’s/80’s! Do you remember that show Diff’rent Strokes? It ran 8 seasons from ’76 to ’86 and starred Gary Coleman as Arnold and Todd Bridges as Willis. Arnold’s famous line when he was confused about what his brother was talking about was, “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout Willis?”

We brought it back. Bang watched an episode of it after seeing a similar clip. He thought it was hilarious. Now conversations go something like this:
Bang: I love you, Mom
Mom: I love you, too.
Bang: Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout Willis?

2. What’s a wedgie?

We’re not referring to that great big slice of pizza that barely fits on the unstable paper plate at the local pizza shop. Nor is that that triangular block of wood we use to keep the door open. This wedgie is caused by a hungry bum. So hungry in fact that it starts eating your underwear. There’s no discrete way of getting out of there either. You just gotta pinch, pull, and wiggle and hope for the best. Unless you’re four. Then you can just stick a hand down there and fix it. There’s no shame when you’re four. Of course, there’s an atomic wedgie, too. You know… when you’re underwear gets pulled up over your head. It’s the ultimate immaturity prank.

3. What does one second mean?

In parent speak, it’s about 10 minutes. In teacher speak, it’s about 2 minutes. In actuality, one second is just 1/60th of a minute. It’s 1/3,600th of an hour. It’s 1/86,400th of a day. But that’s not really exact because the rotation of the Earth on it’s axis doesn’t match the orbit of the Earth around the sun. It’s off by a few seconds which adds up to about 6 hours per year and 24 hours per four years. Hence the leap year. We’ve accumulated a day because the rotation and orbit are not synced. So keep one second accurate it’s defined as

The time that elapses during 9,192,631,770 (9.192631770 x 10 9 ) cycles of the radiation produced by the transition between two levels of the cesium 133 atom.

That makes about as much sense to me as putting broccoli and pineapple on pizza. In this amount of time, light travels just over 186,000 miles or almost 8 times around the earth’s equator. There are even smaller increments of time. A millisecond, a microsecond, a nanosecond, and a  picosecond. A picosecond is 1/1,000,000,000,000 of a second. That’s one trillionth of a second.  Or about the length of time it takes the kids to mess up what I just cleaned.

4. How long can a jellyfish’s tentacles get?

This title belongs to the Lion’s Mane jellyfish. It has a maximum diameter of seven and a half feet. The longest recorded tentacle of this beast is 120 feet. To give a comparison, the longest blue whale was only 108 feet long. They can contain up to 1,200 tentacles. Not something you want to get tangled up in, certainly. But don’t worry, they’re not as deadly as they sound. They’re no more poisonous as your normal jellyfish. It’ll sting for a bit and soak it in vinegar for a half hour. Which means they are not predator free. Anemones and leatherback sea turtles both enjoy dining on them. Fun fact: they eat and expel waste through the same orifice. They are fascinating, brainless creatures. And I won’t make any brainless human jokes here.