I was sitting with the girls and Tink (Tink is a wire-haired terrier whose fur is cornsilk blonde, and a bit scruffy in length). The girls were singing some made-up song about our breakfast and how excited they are to be going on a surprise expedition, then their attention turned to Tink.

Petting her, they started to notice similarities in a dog’s biology and their own. When they started talking about front paws versus rear paws, I pointed out the similarity in bone structure between hands and feet (tarsals and carpals, etc) and dropped another seed to pick up at another time (that half of the bones in your body are in your hands and feet), but otherwise left them to make the rest of the inferences themselves.

After noticing the limbs and some muscle groups, they started to mention more surface comparisons, and this one I just had to share:
K: There’s a lot of ways that I’m like Tink!
A: Hey, here’s another way that I’m like her even more. (puts her finger into her blonde hair, which has been darkening quite a bit over the past year).
K: Yeah! You both have a head!
A: (exasperated) NO! Blonde hair!
Me: Well, it’s true. you do each have a head…
A: I was talking about her fur and my hair.
K: Yeah. That too.

The kids, they are…alright(and accidently high as a kite)

We have all been shocked and amazed lately with news stories about harmful substances making their way to our kids, including all those issues with lead paint used on toys imported from China. Then there are strange stories where drugs are ingested unknowingly by kids, hidden in baked goods or Hallowe’en treats.
Today, Mouseclone and I were looking at the story where the ‘treat’ giver openly shared his stash, and go the ‘trick’ of going to jail for his kindness.
Just today also, they are finding issues with the wildly popular Aqua Dots play sets, that I have been watching over the past few weeks, as A wanted one for her birthday. I’m now glad that I had pushed the purchase back another week after seeing the news of the recall:

The Bindees (in Australia) and Aqua Dots are manufactured in Australia, and an unknown number of batches of the actual dots have a different solution on them than what is supposed to be used. If, as children are wont to do, a kid puts them in their mouth, or swallows one/some from these tainted batches of dots, The stuff goes through a chemical reaction in the digestive tract, and becomes a nice whoppin’ dose of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate!

I’m glad to see the companies involved stepping up to the plate, and getting them all off the shelves so quickly. Online retailers have temporarily pulled the product as well, until the bad dots can be rounded up, and safety measures put into place. Good on ya, mates!

Oh. The Gamma Hydroxybutyrate. Yeah. That’s known in pharmacology as GHB, a controlled substance. It is illegally trafficked under the name “fantasy” or “liquid ecstasy”, and is sought after by devious creeps everywhere as an effective date-rape tool. Nice.

So now, the kids are getting lead poison from the toys, getting pot during trick-or-treating outings, and getting hallucinogenic sedatives from creative toys… I would imagine that this generation is going to have similar experiences as college-aged kids did in the early Sixties…. Feelin’ groovy?

I do hope that they get this sorted out soon, though. We are looking forward to (safely) being able to arrange the colored dots and bond them together with water. It looks like fun, mess-free play time with neat-looking craft results.

First Logwatch

Tonight hailed the first subfreezing temperatures of the season, so I thought it would be a cool activity to, once I picked up the girls and got them home, build a fire in the fireplace. They were highly excited about this, and it went swimmingly.

My fireplace a regular wood-burning one. This sounds odd to say, being that it is a fireplace after all, but these days with all the options of gas-log, electric, and any number of flat- and faux- options, it seems that one should always specify.

Opening the flue, I half-expected the remains of an empty bird’s nest or something to fall into the fireplace, but instead got to get right down to the business of building the stack and lighting it up.

I also lit a series of candles along the front of the hearth, and after doing so, gave a simplified overview of both the basic workings of a fireplace (or, “why the hot comes into the room, and the smoke goes out of the chimney”), and another big idea I suppose should be titled, “Fire and fuel”. I think that the primary concepts seated rather well with them, and even if they don’t fully grasp it, they will be good primers for discussions later on when they are ready.

After dinner and some reading by the firelight, we checked homework, and after they were off to bed, I sat petting the dog as she inched her way away from the fireplace, and watching the flames lick flutteringly at the final log, thought over the “fire and fuel” discussion. I’d made a point of mentioning that ‘the flame, once started, needs two things to survive: fuel and air’. The candles bore a highly convenient witness. The flames in the fireplace were consuming oxygen and the logs. The candles were consuming oxygen and the wax (which at that time had gone completely liquid). The big idea was a discussion to remember when it comes up in a science class in the future. But knowing what the flame needs, it was also about safety, about how to put out a fire (take away either one or both of its needs), and also about life and the balance of needs. As the end of Fall impends and the beginning of winter rolls in, it turned into a very useful, seasonal dissertation.

I really did mean Fall. Not Autumn.

I bet some of you geeks saw the title of this one, and thought I was going to talk shop about some Apache logs, didn’t you? Speaking of looking at flatpanel displays for hours, remember to go outside and catch some afternoon sun while it’s still around, that way you will be less likely to be SAD.