Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, February 29, 2004 12:13 pm

(Almost) one of a kind

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 12:13 pm

Among the many great things about having an uncommon name, such as “Lex,” instead of having a common name, such as … oh, say, Julia … is that you seldom have to worry about things like this happening.

Farewell, terrible twos?

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 11:38 am

Hooper turned 3 yesterday and celebrated with a large Thomas the Tank Engine party. (Props to Harris-Teeter for a very nice job on the Thomas cake.) In addition to some cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, he was joined by about a dozen of his day-care classmates, plus a few of their sibs. Considering he had had little sleep Friday night and not much of a nap Saturday morning, he was in reasonably good shape — not so much fussy as a bit clingy. He slept with Mommy and Daddy last night and seemed in a much better mood this morning. (Daddy, however, slept barely at all once he came to bed; mad props to Mommy for letting him sleep in.)

What was the coolest gift he got? From his standpoint, it was a police rescue truck. From my standpoint, it was a collapsible clothes hamper shaped like a rocket ship.

He’s a vibrant, vivacious, inquisitive 3-year-old. He talks very well, although he jumps so quickly from subject to subject, with so little context, that if you don’t live with him you’ll often have no idea what he’s talking about. What’s particularly interesting to me, though, is that if you DO have the context, you’ll often grasp subtle connections between what would otherwise appear to be randomly consecutive subjects. His little but growing brain is indeed following logical paths rather than logical leaps. It’s just that some of the paths aren’t especially well marked if you’re not from the neighborhood, so to speak.

Domestic terror

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 11:32 am

I have always been agnostic on the question of whether Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were acting alone in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. But apparently the FBI has decided there’s enough evidence, or at least enough unanswered questions, to reopen the investigation into that aspect of the case. Seems there might have been ties between McVeigh/Nichols and the Aryan Republican Army, a white-supremacist group that financed its efforts by, among other things, robbing banks.

I suspect the timing — Nichols goes on trial this week in Oklahoma on state charges that could bring him the death penalty — is not just coincidental. But I could be wrong.

Points on the map

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 11:03 am

True confession: I’m a map geek. Always have been. When I was a little kid, I would draw up “treasure maps” and I never got disappointed when they invariably failed to lead to treasure; the map itself was the thing. As I got older and learned to read road maps, I wondered at how they imposed a sense of order, and even inevitability, on the long trips we would take to visit relatives scattered from the DC area to northern Florida. In my early teens, when we would frequently visit my grandfather’s cottage in Montreat, I would spend hours staring at the glass-encased papier-mache topographic map of the Montreat area, the product of two years of work by Montreat College geography classes. (I wish I knew what happened to that thing. I pray no one threw it away.) Even today, I gaze with envy on the topographic map of North Carolina that hangs in the reception area of the paper’s editorial office and have told our edit-page editor that if he ever decides to redecorate, I have first dibs on that map.

As fortune would have it, I now live in the era of computer-aided mapping, when geographic-information systems and desktop programs like ArcView make it possible for anyone with a fast computer and a little disposable income to create all manner of data-driven maps. We’ve used some of them at work, particularly to illustrate various stories we wrote based on data from the 2000 Census, but we’re only beginning to tap the potential.

I mention all this as background for why I find this site so cool: It uses mapping to represent not just space (distance), but time: Distances are represented visually according to how long a computer ping takes to travel from one particular point (in this example, Berlin) to other sites around the world, and back. Way cool.

Friday, February 27, 2004 6:00 pm

Tipping point?

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 6:00 pm

Kevin Drum, a/k/a “Calpundit,” has an interesting prediction regarding health care: The more businesses resist providing health-care benefits, the greater will grow pressure upon the government to do it for them.

Conservatives love to extol the virtues of an unregulated free market and castigate unions for interfering with it. But as unions lose influence, the unrestrained free market is slowly but inexorably reducing health benefits for workers beyond what they’ll tolerate. And in the end that’s going to eliminate the free market’s role in healthcare entirely. Ironic, isn’t it?

Yeah, although I’m not sure it’s inevitable, as Kevin seems to think. The scenario he outlines is plausible, granted, but so are others: To avoid “socialized medicine,” government begins setting certain health-care benefit floors for employers above a certain size, say, or other countries begin using free or cheap health care as bait to lure away some of our talent.

Thursday, February 26, 2004 8:59 pm

Government-funded soft porn

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 8:59 pm

As a working journalist and as a believer in open, accountable government, I see no reason not to admit television cameras (or at least one “pool” camera) into courtrooms as long as the trials themselves are open.

But I have to admit that those who predicted that cameras in the courtroom would lead officers of the court to play to the cameras have, at least anecdotally, seen their fears come true. We saw it in the OJ trial, although — say what you will about that legal travesty — at least lawyers weren’t tying one another to beds in front of a jury.

They are now, though, in this Texas case in which a woman is accused of tying her cocaine-intoxicated husband to a bed, promising to have sex with him, and then stabbing him 193 times.

Prosecutors, however, acted out on Wednesday their version of how she stabbed her husband 193 times on her bloodstained bed, which was brought to the courtroom for the demonstration. Wide-eyed jurors watched as an assistant district attorney lay sprawled on the bed with his wrists and ankles tied to bedposts with neckties and terrycloth sashes. Lead prosecutor Kelly Siegler climbed on the bed and straddled her colleague as she continued to question a homicide detective about the crime scene.

There’s even video. (Registration required.)

I have no idea how this bit of theater will help the prosecution’s case, let alone what it will do for Ms. Siegler’s career. But I’m betting her social life just got a ton better.

(Thanks to Trivial Pursuits for the link.)

Professionals take on “The Passion”

Filed under: Religion — Lex @ 8:58 pm

And by professionals, I don’t mean film critics or clergy, I mean religion writers, of which I was one for more than three years. E&P Online carries a roundup which, maddeningly, fails to link to some of the writers’ reviews it mentions even when it could have.

I haven’t seen the movie, so I’m not commenting on it.

“It was 20 years ago today/Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play …”

Filed under: Journalism — Lex @ 6:35 am

In my case, “Sgt. Pepper” was a middle-aged guy with square, black-rimmed glasses, a crewcut and a quasi-gravelly voice. He was the editor of the Statesville (N.C.) Record & Landmark, and he became the first editor of my newspaper career.

I should say right up front, with the benefit of 20 years of hindsight, that this guy, although a very nice guy, was not a particularly good newspaper editor. But on Feb. 26, 1984, I had never set foot in a journalism school. All I knew about being a newspaper reporter was where to report for my first day of work and that I’d be making $180 a week, so damn near everything that came out of the guy’s mouth carried with it the force of revelation — from the fact that there was such a thing as an Associated Press style book to the fact that if you checked and kept track of the numbers on the SPD incident reports we looked at every morning, you could tell whether the cops were holding something back. (In fact, this wasn’t always true. But it made sense to me at the time.)

I could fill in the 20-year gap. But because I still hold out faint hopes of writing (and, more importantly, selling) a memoir some day, and because you don’t have that kind of time, herewith some of The Things I Have Learned While Working for a Newspaper. This list is neither comprehensive nor particularly orderly.

  • I really can subsist for extended stretches on cheap beer and generic macaroni and cheese.
  • But it’s not as romantic as people would have you think.
  • If they know you, small-town cops can, in a weird way, be much more professional than their big-city counterparts.
  • But only if they know you.
  • Feces wash out.
  • Blood does too. Sometimes.
  • A story can be factually accurate and still wildly off the mark.
  • Competence isn’t quite a myth, but it’s a helluva lot less common than most people like to pretend.
  • Early in my career, I called journalism to “rock ‘n’ roll by other means.” I no longer do. Can’t really say why.
  • When there’s a nuclear reactor exploding on the other side of the world, sitting in a hospital ER at 1 a.m. to get stitches in your hand because you caught a bottle of orange juice just as it hit the floor and broke can seem like a pointless exercise.
  • I REALLY hate power outages.
  • Awards are nice and I’m grateful for the ones I’ve got, but they don’t really do it for me.
  • Our so-called free-enterprise system is, in many ways, a rigged game. (Don’t believe me? Fine. But you can believe him.)
  • If you’re going to commit suicide by slashing your wrists, don’t bend them back all the way. If you do, the artery you’re trying to sever gets in behind your arm bone (the ulna, I think) a little bit and you might just nick it, or even miss it entirely.
  • Same deal with your neck. The carotid gets in sort of behind a tendon or something.
  • Some journalists who are generally well thought of by the public actually have significant performance problems.
  • Very few journalists can accurate assess their own performance problems.
  • Never ascribe to conspiracy what can be adequately explained by incompetence.
  • A blood-Wellbutrin level in excess of 4 mg per liter can be fatal.
  • You don’t have to have an ancestor who had to flee England for reporting on corruption in the court of George III to enjoy this line of work.
  • But it helps.
  • It’s hard to make a bad movie about submarines.
  • It’s hard to make a good movie about newspapers.
  • Most of the time you really don’t need anonymous sources in your stories.
  • Most politicians, at least at the local/state level, really do lie pretty shamelessly at times.
  • And they expect you to act like it’s part of the game.
  • True objectivity is rarer than true love. The most you can/should hope for is to be fair and accurate.
  • If you’re any good at your job, you work for the reader. No one else. Despite what your editor might think.
  • Computers are great. When they work.
  • Sharpies work better than anything else for taking notes when it’s raining.
  • Even Sharpies don’t work that well when it’s raining.
  • Explosions tend to be lower-pitched in real life than in the movies.
  • If you become a journalist, you will have your intelligence, patriotism and sexuality questioned by people who could learn from linoleum, would sell nukes to Osama if there were a buck in it and would engage in sexual congress with a snake if they could get someone to hold its head.
  • “Sexual” and “congress” are two words that definitely do not belong in the same sentence.
  • One — perhaps the only — upside to doing this job in an age of media saturation is that people are willing to share their stories in the belief that doing so will help others.
  • Even after 20 years, I remain impressed by the previous point.
  • Even the biggest, most respected news outlets do boneheaded things with remarkable frequency.
  • Even the smallest community deserves journalism good enough for bigger communities.
  • The smallest, most backward daytime-only AM radio station probably knows at least as much about marketing itself as the biggest newspapers.
  • The best government is limited and transparent.
  • A lot of people who ought to know better do not believe either of those things.
  • One of the two biggest battles of the 21st century will be defining the role of the corporation in our society.
  • The other will be liberal democratic values vs. medievalist religion.
  • There’s no profit margin above which good journalism becomes impossible, or below which good journalism becomes inevitable.
  • Our industry’s business model is changing, rapidly and permanently, and too many of our executives continue to behave as if we’re still the only game in town.
  • If there’s going to be a revolution, it won’t be televised, but it’ll definitely be blogged.
  • Strong faith and good journalism are not mutually exclusive.
  • Many people will try to get you to believe they are. Ignore them.
  • The newspaper bidness is a crummy one, dysfunctional even by the standards of American corporate life, and has gotten worse in these past 20 years.
  • Yet it sometimes still attracts far better people than it deserves.
  • I’m not better than the bidness deserves, although I’m pretty good some days.
  • The only reason I stay in this bidness is that I couldn’t bear to leave.
  • The day may come when I have no choice.
  • Wednesday, February 25, 2004 8:52 pm

    Truth and consequences

    Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 8:52 pm

    Did you have fun going bowling, sweetie?

    No, Daddy. I’m a little sad.

    Sad? Why are you sad?

    Because my friend G. was mean to me.

    Really? What did she do?

    We were only supposed to go three times, but she went four, and when I told Mrs. K., she said she wasn’t going to be my friend anymore.

    Oh. I see. Well, that doesn’t feel too good, does it?

    No.

    Well, sometimes when you tattle on someone, that’s what happens. And sometimes you have to decide whether it’s more important to tattle or to stay friendly with someone. Some things aren’t worth tattling about. But some are.

    Was this?

    Yeah, I think it was. Because the school paid for y’all to go bowling, and they probably only paid enough money for everyone to go three times. So if G. went four times, that was kind of like stealing.

    And that’s wrong.

    Yes it is. You did the right thing telling Mrs. K., sweetie, and I am very proud of you.

    But G. was mean to me.

    Yeah. Sometimes that happens. What probably happened was that she was embarrassed, and she was mad at herself, so when she was being mean to you it probably was because she was really mad at herself.

    That makes me sad.

    I know.

    How do you know?

    Because that happened to me sometimes when I was a kid. And because sometimes I did things and people tattled on me and I got in trouble and I got mad at the people who tattled.

    Oh. But I’m also mad. Because Mrs. K. didn’t DO anything.

    Well, you don’t know that, sweetie. She might have sent a note home to G.’s parents or called them. Besides, the point isn’t whether she does anything about it or not. Sometimes, telling is just the right thing to do whether or not anything happens.

    How do you know?

    Because that’s part of my job, sweetie. Sometimes I have to write stories for the newspaper that tell people that something bad is happening, and I have to do that even though some people might get mad at me and nothing might get done about it.

    Oh.

    But you know what? You had a very important choice to make today, and you made the right choice. And I am very, very proud of you. Does that make you feel a little better?

    Yes.

    Good. I’m glad. I love you, sweetie.

    I love you, Daddy.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004 8:30 pm

    “Dad!” “Junior!”

    Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:30 pm

    When the guy who would grow up to become the blogger Tacitus was 13 years old, he went to see “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which created in him an apparently lifelong thirst for knowledge about antiquities.

    So when the grown-up Tacitus travels to the Middle East, he gets to hire a driver to take him to the Treasury, the spot in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon in Jordan where the discovery of the Holy Grail was set in the movie.

    That, in and of itself, is way cool. But the coolest part? The driver’s name: Sallah.

    Monday, February 23, 2004 9:31 pm

    Minefield, or, This might be the end of Blog on the Run

    Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:31 pm

    So I come upstairs tonight to change and find my wife sitting in front of the computer, on the screen of which is a nude woman.

    I don’t think it’d be straying into the Land of Too Much Information to say that this … was different.

    The woman in question is her friend A., and the photo in question was a tasteful — and, I should point out, discrete — nude shot of the very pregnant A., with a caption to the effect of how much she’s enjoying the changes her body has gone through during pregnancy.

    My wife had added a short comment to the site, the first line of which was something along the lines of “Hubba, hubba!” When I came in, she asked me what comment I’d like to leave.

    OK, guys, you know the drill here: No matter how close and loving your relationship, no matter how long you’ve been married, there is nothing, nothing, that you can say here — including saying nothing — that is not going to get you in trouble.

    The bullet is coming. It has your name on it. And there’s nothing you can do.

    So, I told my wife, leave this comment: “There is nothing I can say here that is not going to get me in trouble, so I’m not going to say anything.”

    That’s not funny, she said. If you’re going to say that, you have to say something after that.

    Who said anything about trying to be funny? I said.

    She gave me one of those looks. You know the kind.

    OK, I said, add this: “So I’m just going to go take a cold shower now.”

    And I left the room.

    Quickly.

    Minefield, or, This might be the end of Blog on the Run

    Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:31 pm

    So I come upstairs tonight to change and find my wife sitting in front of the computer, on the screen of which is a nude woman.

    I don’t think it’d be straying into the Land of Too Much Information to say that this … was different.

    The woman in question is her friend A., and the photo in question was a tasteful — and, I should point out, discrete — nude shot of the very pregnant A., with a caption to the effect of how much she’s enjoying the changes her body has gone through during pregnancy.

    My wife had added a short comment to the site, the first line of which was something along the lines of “Hubba, hubba!” When I came in, she asked me what comment I’d like to leave.

    OK, guys, you know the drill here: No matter how close and loving your relationship, no matter how long you’ve been married, there is nothing, nothing, that you can say here — including saying nothing — that is not going to get you in trouble.

    The bullet is coming. It has your name on it. And there’s nothing you can do.

    So, I told my wife, leave this comment: “There is nothing I can say here that is not going to get me in trouble, so I’m not going to say anything.”

    That’s not funny, she said. If you’re going to say that, you have to say something after that.

    Who said anything about trying to be funny? I said.

    She gave me one of those looks. You know the kind.

    OK, I said, add this: “So I’m just going to go take a cold shower now.”

    And I left the room.

    Quickly.

    Sunday, February 22, 2004 9:28 pm

    Things in life

    Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 9:28 pm

    Losing your third tooth: painful.

    Having Mommy accidentally throw the tooth away: even more painful.

    Being able to e-mail the Tooth Fairy to explain the situation: priceless.

    Pretzel Juice-box logic

    Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 5:10 pm

    Daddy, I need you to get me a new car.

    What?

    I need you to get me a new car.

    Why?

    I’m too big for my old one.

    Sweetie. You have a trike, a bike and a scooter. Why should I get you a new car, too?

    Because I’m big now and my knees get in the way when I get in mine.

    Well, that’s a reason why you might want a new car, but it’s not a reason why I should get you one. Why should I get you a new car?

    Because none of the other things I got has a steering wheel.

    Again: that’s a reason why you might want a new car, but it’s not a reason why I should get you one. Why should I get you a new car?

    Mine, mine, mine.

    What’s that got to do with anything?

    Silly Daddy! I’m talking about something different now!

    Friday, February 20, 2004 10:19 pm

    Yay, God!

    Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 10:19 pm

    We have had fabulous weather here the past two days — clear skies, highs up in the 60s. I didn’t clear the office tonight ’til close to 7:30, and it was still shirtsleeve-warm when I walked out to the car.

    The winter-spring nexus is a treacherous line to trace here in North Carolina: I have sunbathed in February, endured 3-day ice storms in mid-March and thrown snowballs in April. But this kind of weather is a reminder that, no, winter only seems like it lasts forever, and, yes, spring really is coming.

    Guess I should get the dolomitic lime down on the lawn this weekend, huh?

    Wax on, wax off

    Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:47 pm


    Don’t get it? You will.

    Free No speech

    Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 8:44 pm

    So the search engine Google is refusing some ads critical of the cruise industry’s impact on the marine environment.

    I’d love to hear Google’s side of this, although it’s not saying anything at the moment, because, unless there’s more to the ads than meets the eye, this is a huge risk for Google to take from a business standpoint. Because if there’s one thing the wired world hates, it’s censorship, whether real or perceived.

    Thursday, February 19, 2004 7:22 pm

    Coping mechanism

    Filed under: Fun,Hooper — Lex @ 7:22 pm

    We all have our little lies we tell ourselves just to get through the day. Like Michael Jackson says, “It really wasn’t about sex.” And Pat Robertson says, “I wasn’t really mining diamonds for personal profit, and if I was, it was because God told me to.”

    Hooper’s little lie is that this terrycloth stuffed cow he so adores is actually a “baby puppy.”

    Hey, whatever gets your butt into the car and on the way to day care in the mornings.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004 1:08 pm

    Hey, ya — don’t shake it, you’ll break it

    Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 1:08 pm

    Rap duo Outkast has had a No. 1 hit with “HeyYa,” whose breakdown urges listeners to “shake it like a Polaroid picture.” But Polaroid is saying that shaking its pictures is actually not such a good idea.

    But at least we now know that the phrase did originate with the practice of shaking the pictures to make them develop faster. I had wondered.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004 6:10 pm

    What four-letter word …

    Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 6:10 pm

    … is the fastest-growing in popularity among teens?

    I’ll give you a hint: It’s not [expletive].

    (Thanks to Calpundit.)

    Monday, February 16, 2004 9:48 pm

    One key link is gone

    Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 9:48 pm

    Kevin Donnalley, the Carolina Panthers’ starting left right offensive guard, is retiring after a 13-year NFL career capped by the Panthers’ recent Super Bowl appearance.

    This isn’t a surprise. He’s been living on borrowed time — albeit living large — since a knee injury in 2001. And the Panthers have been going for youth the past couple of years. But he started every game for the Panthers the past two years and has made a huge difference in both run blocking and pass blocking. Stephen Davis, as well as he played, likely wouldn’t have topped 1,400 rushing yards without Donnalley in that line.

    G’bye, Kevin, and thanks for all you’ve done.

    Blinded by science, or, Why I was an English major

    Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 12:17 pm

    Snow day. Home with the kids this morning.

    I’ve been helping V. write up the report on her science project. That means formatting the Wordpad file and occasionally helping her with spelling. It’s going painfully slowly: She hung in there for an hour and a half this morning — which is approximately forever for a kindergartner — and still got only a few sentences typed.

    Chatted briefly with a friend who also has a kindergartner doing a science project, only his kid hasn’t started yet. “She’s got it down to two choices,” he said. ” ‘What is a rainbow?’ or ‘What is a cavity?’ “

    There’s obviously some room between those two topics for some discussion.

    Sunday, February 15, 2004 5:19 pm

    Hibernation

    Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 5:19 pm

    We got home from church about 11:30, and within an hour it had started raining. Not long after that, sleet got mixed in with the rain.

    Sunday afternoon. Warm house. Crummy weather. What’s a grumpy old bear to do? Sleep, that’s what. A blessed 90-minute nap, which qualifies as a long winter’s nap for me (and which would’ve been even longer if my brother hadn’t called to exult in the fact that Carolina was up by 15 over Maryland).

    Now the precip has changed to snow. They’re calling for 3 to 5 inches by noon tomorrow. No official word yet, but I’m sure the schools will be closed. It’s wet and cold outside, but snug and warm in here. And as I type this, Carolina clings to a 4-point lead with more than 3 minutes remaining.

    Bit o’ housekeeping, or, You have been duly advised

    Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 12:12 pm

    I just edited a comment in response to one of my previous posts.

    I normally don’t mess with the comments, and within certain professional and familial constraints I’m willing to debate anything with anyone, any time.

    But I decided a long time ago that there is some abuse in this world I do not have to eat, and one example is personal abuse on my own blog from someone too chicken to sign his name.

    You know who you are. More to the point, I know who you are. Consider yourself warned.

    Saturday, February 14, 2004 10:19 pm

    Eat. Sleep. Work. Then blog.

    I got interviewed a few days ago by Steve Outing, one of your basic pioneers of the newspaper/Internet nexis, for a column he’s doing for Editor & Publisher magazine (or its Web site, anyway) on working journalists with personal blogs.

    I imagine he needed to talk to a number of others as well, because I didn’t have a whole lot to tell him. I blog almost not at all about work, for a variety of professional and personal reasons. And although I began this blog when I was working in Features and not doing any writing at all, I’m now back in News and, while still an editor, also doing a little writing every now and then. So I’ve got to be even more careful about what I write. I’m not complaining, mind. I’m just sayin’.

    Anyway, I’ll be interested to see who else Outing has talked to and where my approach falls on the bell curve. And then there’s the traffic. I don’t expect it to be anything like an Instalanche, but new visitors are always welcome here.

    Now hear this

    Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 9:52 pm

    For reasons on which I’m not entirely clear, I’ve been invited to speak to the Peden Family Reunion this July. One of my direct but distant forebears, one John Alexander, married into the Peden clan just in time to join close to two dozen of his in-laws in throwing off the yoke of British tyranny. My great-grandfather, the first Hooper Alexander, spoke at the first Peden Reunion, in 1899. My father spoke at the 1999 reunion. I guess they’re going for the trifecta. I’m hardly an authority on family history, so that’s why I’m not clear on why I’ve been invited (speakers tend to talk about various aspects of Peden family history), but it’s a nice get-together nonetheless.

    Friday, February 13, 2004 10:28 pm

    Is this how it begins?

    Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 10:28 pm

    Victoria completed the first science experiment of her life tonight.

    A couple of weeks ago, we observed that some of our bread had gone moldy. (It was one of those weeks when I just did not get home for my usual turkey-sandwich lunch.) This coincided with the beginning of plans for her school’s science fair, so we decided to make mold the subject of her research.

    Which piece of bread, I asked her, would get moldy faster: a dry one or a wet one?

    Neither, she said. Because she had dunked her bread in milk for a long time and it had never gotten moldy.

    So we decided to test that hypothesis, complete with careful notes and close-up photos taken with my Nikon. We got two slices of bread on plates, dampened one, bagged them both and stuck ‘em in the cabinet over the refrigerator (warm and dark, good mold-growin’ conditions) and left ‘em there for about a week.

    Earlier tonight we pulled them out, and there in the middle of the dampened piece of bread was a small but unmistakable circle of mold. I took photos of the two slices side-by-side and photos of V. pointing to the mold and smiling.

    So what have we learned? I asked.

    Mold grows faster on the wet bread, she said.

    Do you know why? Mommy asked.

    This left her puzzled. I figured, hey, she’s only a kindergartner, I’ll give her a little help.

    Would it help you to know, I asked, that mold is a plant?

    Her eyes widened. She hadn’t known this.

    But she still couldn’t figure out why the mold had grown on that slice and not the other. So I gave her one more nudge.

    Remember when we went to the observatory and looked at Mars in the telescope and learned about the robot rovers on Mars? I asked.

    She certainly did.

    Do you remember what the rovers were looking for? I asked.

    She nodded vigorously: “Water.”

    And why was that? I asked.

    Because, she said, if there was water there, then there might have been living things there.

    Yes, I said. So why did the mold grow on the wet bread?

    Because mold needs water to live, she said, as pleased with herself as if she had just driven a soccer ball long and deep into the net. Which, in a way, she had.

    * * *

    Speaking of soccer, her coach called earlier tonight. The Tigers are re-forming, and they’ll play their first game of the spring season March 6.

    V. can’t wait. And you know what? I never thought I’d be saying this about anything related to soccer (sorry, Beau), but I can’t wait, either.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004 10:08 pm

    Courtesy

    Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 10:08 pm

    Scene from dinner in “The Addams Family” (1991):

    Wednesday: Pass the salt.
    Morticia: And what do we say?
    Wednesday: NOW.

    Scene from dinner in my house (a little while ago):

    Hooper (loudly): Daddy, go wash you [sic] hands.
    Daddy: Hooper, what would be the nice way to say that?
    Hooper (even more loudly; pointing): GO! DAT WAY!

    Things I Know About Parenting (another in a continuing series)

    Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 12:36 pm

    The problem with toddler zombies is that they eat the brains of the living just like grown-up zombies do.

    Dooce is a new mom …

    Filed under: Woohoo! — Lex @ 12:35 pm

    ” … and I am full of wisdom!”

    The only way to describe [breastfeeding] to a man is to suggest that he lay out his naked penis on a chopping block, place a manual stapler on the sacred helmet head, and bang in a couple hundred staples. The first two staples REALLY hurt, but after that it just becomes kinda numb, and by the 88th staple you’re like, AREN’T YOU FULL YET?? But then the comparison really fails because a man doesn’t have two penises, and after stapling the first boob the baby moves on to the other boob and the happy stapling begins ALL OVER AGAIN.

    Two words: Ow. Ch.

    Next Page »

    The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 2,359 other followers

    %d bloggers like this: