Friday, October 29, 2010

Despereaux is Saved...

and we have another pet.  At least until the snake is big enough to eat full size mice, or Despereaux  dies of old age (which will be sooner than a mouse bred to be a pet, as opposed to a mouse bred to be et).  No one in town has hoppers (live) and the snake is a snooty food critic and won't eat frozen, so he will have to settle for a pinkie until next week.  That's what happens here when you are picky.  Mama says, "Eat what I put on the table, or go hungry."   (Actually, I just tell anyone unhappy with dinner to make themselves a PB&J and hush).  How did I come to this?  I think I'll blame my parents  for not letting me have furry beasts when I was little...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

At what point should I rescue Despereaux?

Last night we tossed a runt feeder mouse, supposedly (according to the pet store) smaller than the hopper mice the snake is used to, in with Tooth.  Tooth slithered out of his bowl, followed the mouse around once, slithered back into his bowl, and remains there, chillin'.  The mouse figured out how to climb onto the shelves at the back, and proceeded to chew a burrow into one (they are made of cork).  This "burrow" only covers his(?) head.  He was still there this morning.  I fed him a carrot, which he ate, and sprayed water on his perch, since I didn't think he'd come down to drink from the bowl Tooth was in.  I wonder how long this will go on...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whooee!  I just won a quilt kit from Hancock's of Paducah.  And last week I won two tickets to Cirque de la Symphonie from the credit union (which we gave away, since we already had tickets, and it was a great show).  I NEVER win drawings.   I mean if there are a hundred names, and ninety-nine prizes, my name will be the one left in the hat at the end.  It's one of the reasons I don't play the lottery.  But I'm wondering if I shouldn't go out and buy a Powerball ticket today... or find the nearest Friends of the NRA Dinner or something...

Xa Lynn

Friday, October 22, 2010

Princess' Reaction to the Sight of Snake

"Maybe having a snake isn't so bad after all."

She thinks Tooth is kind of pretty.  He is a 3 foot long, 14 month old, captive bred Nelson Pueblo Milk Snake, which means he is striped red, black, white, black, repeat.  He likes to hang out in his water dish, which seems weird to me.  He is living on the counter between the dining room and the kitchen, which is NOT where I wanted him, but it will do until I can find a table long enough to support the larger aquarium he will need next year.  The Pirate is enchanted, having already drawn Tooth's picture and written a label she put on his cage that includes everything she knows about him - this from a child that generally hates to write, so I'm happy about that if nothing else.  So... this blog is now the Adventures of el Jefe, the Princess, the Pirate, the Samurai-who-smells-of-Sunflowers, Tooth the Snake, and... me, Xa Lynn. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Princess' Reaction to the Concept of Snake

The Princess, in discussion with the receptionist at the dentist's office..

"If she (the Pirate) gets a snake, I will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN."

The receptionist, ever helpful, says, "Neither would I."

Laugh or cry, that IS the question for the day...

Bribe vs. Reward

Something is a bribe if it is given PRIOR to the desired action... basically, if I gave the Princess a piece of candy to get her to be quiet, that would be a bribe.  Something is a reward if it is given AFTER the desired behavior.  Therefore, telling the Pirate that she could have a snake for a pet if she would let the nice dentist give her two MORE novocaine  shots without kicking him and then let him extract two of her remaining baby teeth, that is a REWARD.  Somehow I don't think I am going to get the Mommy of the Year Award for this...  I think I am going to call the snake "Toothless," no matter what she names it.

On the other hand, she will now have to do her chores, in order to earn the money to buy the crickets and pinks for the snake to eat.  There is a cool economics lesson in there... somewhere.   I'm going to go beat my head against a wall now.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Child's Concept of Time

Yesterday, we asked the Princess, "When did Columbus discover America?"
She replied, "Tomorrow."
My brother drove me nuts when he used to ask (constantly) "Is it tomorrow yet?"
Yes, folks, it is tomorrow.  Happy Columbus Day!
I'll save the discussion about the Fall of Constantinople and the Reconquest of Spain making possible Columbus' voyages for later...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Christmas, or the Great Secular Shopping Day...

Is there anyone else who remembers the Sears' and Penney's Christmas catalogs arriving between Halloween and Thanksgiving?  That always signaled the start of the holiday season for me.  Nowadays, the kids start asking as soon as they see Christmas displays in stores.  (Oh, wait, many of the stores have chucked Christmas in favor of generic "holidays" - which is baloney, because we all know they aren't selling that junk for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever the closest Muslim holiday is).   ANYWAY, the Princess & the Pirate have started asking me 'how many more weeks 'til Christmas', and telling me everything they would like to add to their "list."

Aside: I have used the birthday and Christmas "lists" for years as a way to head off the whiny want-its in stores - or anywhere else .  If I'm not buying it at that moment I just tell the kids, "Add it to your list," and they know if they whine about it after that, they have ZERO chance of getting it, 'cause Santa doesn't like whiners, and neither does their Mama.   

This year's lists seem to be comprised of American Girl dolls...long lists of American Girl dolls in order of preference/acquisition.  The Princess wants Molly first, then Felicity.  The Pirate wants Felicity, then Kaya (because they both have horses; the Pirate could not care less what the dolls look like).  The problem is that Felicity is being "retired" at the end of this year.  So, we must get Felicity this year, or not at all.  Has anyone else choked at the price for these toys?  $95 per doll + shipping (which is still cheaper than my driving to Chicago - home of the nearest American Girl store).  And that's just the doll & paperback book, no accessories.  Add $20 for "accessories."  I'm thinking the doll is ALL, and I'll be sewing some 18" doll clothes between now and then, with scraps from my stash.  And if any of their relatives ask what the girls would like for Christmas, we'll tell them AG accessories and 18" doll clothes.  (At least that's clear and fairly easy to find.  Getting clothes the right size in styles the girls like is always problematic when they are bought by people who don't see them that often).   The only redeeming factor in all of this consumerism is the historical education some marketing wizard added to the whole doll concept when designing the American Girl dolls.  I can design (or otherwise obtain) an entire unit study on the American Revolution based on Felicity, and one for WW2 written around Molly's experiences growing up in the 1940's.

Now I'm wondering if they have a Victorian era doll I can turn into Little Miss Steampunk.  And maybe I should just stop there... all I want for Christmas is a good pressure canner, in case anyone is wondering.   

In reality, I'd prefer the whole concept of exchanging gifts at Christmas to just go away.  It takes away from the actual holy-day.  It was never about what we gave/give/will give to each other, much less what we got/get/will get.  It's about what God gave for us.  I wish we could have a secular gift-giving "holiday" at some other time of year.  Then the hypocrisy of atheists exchanging Christmas gifts wouldn't exist.  (I don't know why I care, but that does bug me).  And we wouldn't have marketing nuts trying to warp other religions' holidays to fit the current consumptive* Christmas mold.  I'd resent that, if I followed one of those religious traditions.  And we wouldn't have people all a-twitter that some store told its employees they could not wish anyone a Merry Christmas, but had to tell all shoppers "Happy Holidays!" instead.  They could say "Merry Christmas!" on Dec 24/5, and "Happy shopping!" or some other inanity on the Great Secular Shopping Day.  Yes, I'm thinking I have a great idea here.  We could remove all the consumerism from the Christian holy day, and instead have a ginormous secular consumerist frenzy during a different week.   We could ALL wish each other "Happy Shopping!" or "Good Giving!" or "Rake it in!" whenever it is.  I'm thinking April 16.  Or maybe two weeks later - so the government has time to print the money it has to give back in tax refunds. 

*Yes, I know, but the computer failed "consumeristic" and I liked the diseased flavor of consumptive.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I've Read Lately and Why I Am Here

I just finished Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky, who also wrote Here Comes Everybody, which I will now have to find and read as well... yes, my taste in reading material took a sharp turn into non-fiction a few years back when I began to feel like I'd read every story ever written and all possible variations thereof... I'm back to reading a bit of fiction, mostly steampunk novels, but the vast majority of my current word candy is real, rather than imaginary.  Anyway...

Shirky writes about the current abundance of intellect, energy, and time that he calls "cognitive surplus," and he gets into our means, motive and opportunity to use it in ways I have never considered, from silliness like LOLcats, to (how should I describe is?) Wikipedia, to more efficient charity (see the chapter on the Grobanites) to lifesaving uses like, which allows Kenyans to sidestep gov't censorship and to report acts of violence in real time.  He is more optimistic that I, predicting a reduction in creative quality on average but increased innovation, greater transparency throughout society, and a dramatic rise in productivity and generosity (that I sincerely hope is an accurate prognostication).

I enjoyed it - or I wouldn't have finished it, since anything that can't grab and keep my attention in the first 50 pages goes back to the library immediately, because life is too short to slog through anything I could have written better myself - and I found it motivating me to get off my duff and take advantage of what this lovely Mac will do.  And what my camera will do.  And maybe even my iPod.  But not my cell phone.  I still hate that thing.

Mr. Shirky doesn't seem to have a particularly good opinion of bloggers, or the uses of blogs, however.  They rank only slightly above LOLcats.  I can understand that - blogs are a temptation to bloviation.  Shoot, I've indulged my tendency toward verbosity enough to recognize that.  But that isn't really why I'm here.  I'm blogging along for several reasons that have nothing to do with the Joy of S- -peaking in Print.  (You thought I couldn't fit that in, didn't you?)

I'm here because this is the quickest, easiest way to record the silly things my children do, and to share them with their relatives (so we can all blackmail the kiddies later), because I forget that sort of thing so easily and so often.  I'm here because every once in awhile I find it necessary to say something without reducing it to the comprehension level of those same children, or without censoring it out of existence for their benefit.  I'm here because writing forces me to clarify my thinking, rather than mindlessly going with my emotion of the moment (It irritates me greatly when others do that, so I refuse to allow myself to do it, out of either fairness or arrogance - you can choose!).  And I'm here because eventually, I'd like to hear from my family and friends and anyone else who reads it, exactly what they think about whatever topic has caught my interest enough to bother blogging on it.

The next book will be What Women Want: The Global Market Turns Female Friendly by Paco Underhill, which indirectly explains why el Jefe and I both enjoy anything STEAMPUNK.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Flies, ick

Miss Pirate, annoyed by the flies that have gotten into the house, asks, "When will I swat a fly?  I've never swatted a fly.  I'm going to swat a fly.  It will be fun."

Two minutes and several smacking noises later, "I swatted a fly!  I swatted a fly!  I GOT one!  I will get another!"  I hope she gets the last two, too.

Tales from the Firing Line

The girls had their air rifle class this morning.  Miss Princess proned out next to her friend G, and the two of them proceeded to ding the tiny steel animal targets with gleeful abandon - with commentary -
"I hit the pig!" 
"You have bacon for breakfast!" 
"I hit the chicken!" 
"Drumsticks for dinner!" 

Meanwhile Miss Pirate was getting frustrated due to her lack of bullseyes and "DIIIINNNNG!" noises.  Her wonderful instructor, Keith, suggested she explain to her friend Little Bear (the stuffed animal Gramu loaned her, which she takes everywhere, even the range) each step to firing the shot... "First you build your position, Little Bear... slowly squeeeeeze the trigger..."  I find it hysterically funny that her shooting improved immensely at that point, she continued to talk Little Bear through each shot, and she shot well enough to please herself for the last hour of class.  Perhaps I should have brought my bear to the Appleseed this past weekend and improved my shooting, too...