Friday, January 06, 2017

I keep getting spam comments on my last published entry, which was from about four and a half years ago. I have not clicked on any of the posted links, but they appear to be advertising various products. If they make it past the filter Blogger has in place, then I delete them anyway. In either case, it's clear not very effective marketing.

I suppose it's likely that they are likely from some sort of automated spam-bot commenter. But I don't really know about such things, so it could just as likely be actual people doing it. Either way, the comments on being left on a post from July 2012, and I thought I might as well give them something more current to sell their wares on.

So, here it is. You're welcome, spammers. (But I am still deleting your comments.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

'Chicken on the Moon'

Kids are constant source of unintended humor. I don't mean when they run around in circles until they either fall down or run straight into the wall (as I've never been much a fan of slapstick). But if you spend even a few minutes with a youngster you're bound to hear some quality gems of true comedy. Maybe it's just that jaded adult perception looking condescendingly down on childhood innocence to laugh at the odd, off-the-wall things children often say out of the blue.

Typically, my four-year-old daughter is the queen of straight-faced, matter-of-fact, plainly stated oddities that you can't help but snicker at. But lately she is trying her hand at telling jokes, the kind that actually intended to be amusing, rather than the inadvertent sort preschoolers are famous for.

Witness the following recreated conversation from earlier today:
Kara:  Daddy, do you want to hear my joke?
Me:  OK. How does it go?
Kara:  Chicken on the moon!
Me:  I'm sorry, sweetheart. I don't get it.
Kara:  Oh, Daddy. You're silly.
She then plopped down on the floor, threw herself onto her back, kicked her feet up in the air, and yelled, "Chicken on the moon! Chicken on the moon!" several times before completely breaking down in a fit of hysterics.

While the whole ordeal itself is comedic gold, I have to admit that I still can't figure out if she was trying to tell a joke she heard from someone else or if she just finds the concept of lunar fowl humorous. Maybe you just have to be four years old to get it. My three-year-old son didn't get it either and stared at her blankly when she told it to him, too. But I have a strong suspicion it is one of those things that you just had to be there. And by "there" I mean there inside my daughter's head, where I am sure that the joke made sense. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

'No More Wire Hangers Ever'

Sometimes you have to pull out the ol' MacGyver skills when you've got young children, especially boys. Kids (especially boys) will do things with their toys an adult wouldn't think of doing, and it isn't necessarily because the adult just knows better.

I'm sure it is at least partly due to children's natural curiosity and drive to explore the world, to try something and see what may happen. Of course, that is actually a good thing, but it also means parents have to stay on their toes 25/8. You can teach them not to stick keys in the outlet and things that you know a kid might do, but there are other things kids do that it can be hard to predict.

In such instances, it helps to be at least part engineer. Like say, your three-year-old son decides to drop his favorite Hot Wheels down a pipe with no discernible way of retrieving it easily. Like say, when you're trying to get the kids all packed up for a trip to the grocery store and can only get one child strapped in at a time, so one of them wanders from the spot next to the car to elsewhere in the garage.

I have been letting the two older offspring each pick out a toy to bring in the car when we run errands, but from now on we may have certain items that just live in the family vehicle rather than bringing ones from the house. Also, in the future, I am going to be sure to buckle in the older two first. Every single time we go anywhere. Still, it could have been much worse.—he could've stuck his car in a slot in the furnace and tried to get it out himself.

Fortunately, we still had some old wire hangers, which go largely unused due to their tendency to leave shirts with odd shoulder points. (Coincidentally, Frema and I had very recently discussed cleaning them all out of our closets, but we had not done so.) With a little twisting, turning, and straightening of the wire, a toy-car-rescue apparatus was devised. I did take a whole semester of engineering classes back at my alma mater, after all. It was a simple problem that could be solved with just a little ingenuity, and I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with a viable strategy so quickly (as we still had errands to run and leaving with one of the kids already in poor spirits would not make anything easier).

My first attempt was unsuccessful despite a great deal of effort. The plan was to get the hooking instrument around the car in the right way and hold it steady against the inside of the pipe as I pulled the lost toy to safety. It took some doing to just get it to a point that I could start pulling it up, but I kept getting it part of the way up and losing it. No matter how hard I tried, the car would just end up right back down at the bottom. As such, my son was getting less and less patient in waiting to get his car back. Clearly, my plan was not working, so it was time to come up with a new one.

A way to ensure the car would stick to the wire was needed. I remembered recently fighting with a tangled roll of super-sticky packing tape in the junk drawer the day before. Thus, a new brilliant plan was born! I stuck one end of a longish strip of the tape to the hook, twisted it around to be sticky-side-out, and wrapped it around several times. I was now ready to try again, this time sure that it was going to work and be much easier.

After a few attempts at getting the car to adhere to my ingenious device, I felt it catch and carefully pulled it out. Just I was about to announce my triumph to my son, I discovered that my plan had actually failed. The tape slipped off the hoook and up the wire, so I accidentally hooked the toy by the wheel well—a feat I don't think I could have accomplished if I tried.


Still, the car was freed from its narrow-pipe prison and reunited with its rightful owner, who was mighty happy to hold it in his hand again (after it had been scrubbed down a bit). The moral? Perseverance and pure luck are sometimes greater allies than ingenuity. Unless, that is, if you actually are part MacGyver. I am obviously not, but my son was just glad to have his favorite Hot Wheels back. That's all that really matters anyway.