Other Hot Kids

My youngest has always been a decisive eater. That is, he makes decisions about what he likes and doesn’t, and he sticks to them – pretty much forever. These decisions seem to have little to do with whether or not he actually enjoys the food. They do seem to be related to what gains him attention or distinction. This is a boy who has spent half his very short life determined to not let a potato cross his lips. And yet he prides himself on the look he gets from just about everyone when he asks for peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches.

Over the last few months, he’s been searching for the penultimate condiment. He started with salt, which he used to apply in quantities previously only used to preserve food for the winter. This used to annoy his mother greatly, but apparently she’s stopped being annoyed as he’s stopped using salt. Now he’s into spicy. This works out well in my house as I have a fair assortment of things to experiment with, and he’s been trying them all.

So last night we had cheeseburgers, and he was lamenting that there was no spicy food for dinner. Of course he stopped to point out for the 150th time that he supposed his older brother was grateful as he can’t handle any food spicier than a Cool Ranch Dorito. Jab, Twist, Pull – Repeat. So I suggested that the great thing about burgers is that you can put anything on them, even spicy sauces. His eyes lit up. I suggested the Wango Tango sauce which he’s been rather fond of. But while foraging in the fridge, he comes out with that as well as the Frank’s Red Hot. I say that he might want to try it on just a little so he doesn’t wind up with a whole burger he won’t eat – and he does. And decides he like the Red Hot. So he proceeds to soak the meat with Red Hot, but complains that the sauce is too thin. I explain that it’s supposed to be that way. However, he apparently thinks it’s just not right. So he flips the sandwich and coats the other side in Wango Tango habanaro pepper sauce. Me, I checked to make sure there was plenty of milk in the fridge. But damned if he didn’t eat the thing. Didn’t even break a sweat or anything.

I’m beginning to wonder if his taste buds even function…

The Hot Chick

Despite my best efforts to get my kids on email, it’s just not much of a draw for them – nor apparently their friends. Occasional notes from Grandma or Dad just don’t cut it. You go where your friends are. And at least for my 12-year old, that’s the world of IM. I suppose the instant messaging world just has that immediate feedback instant gratification thing going for it.

I am surprised by the frequency with which he finds one or more of his handful of “buddies” online. Someone seems to be there at most any hour. And regardless of what else he’s doing online, he seems to take the opportunity to chat with whoever is there. Most of the chats I’ve observed however, are the conversational equivalent of, “Hey…”. They basically convey that I’m here, and I want you to know that and acknowledge me. There is almost no substance. Which maybe shouldn’t be a surprise, but I do hope as he matures that he does learn how to actually communicate.

His “buddies” are all kids from school who he also knows in person, so it’s pretty harmless. And we’ve had all the talks about how to IM safely. He knows he should only chat with people he knows, and frankly, people I know. Which brings me to the topic of screen names. My son’s name is reflective of his passion for Legos. Most of the other boys on his list have similarly benign names, many of which border on silly. They are 12-year old boys. This seems pretty normal.

Then there’s HotChick. (This is not quite her real screen name. The real one has a few digits interspersed for uniqueness, but the name reads basically as “Hot Chick”). I know HotChick. She’s 12. She’s a delightfully nerdy, bespecaled, plump, 12. I know HotChick’s mom. She’s not any warmer, and has always impressed me as a bit over-protective in parenting style. So what are they thinking? I would question the motives of any full-grown woman cruising the internet as HotChick. Who in their right mind would let their 7th grader be known as such. Even if the moniker is intended to be self-deprecating, this is not going to be apparent to the general public, and is not even apparent to my son.

I’m not usually one to question other people’s parenting tactics, but this one really has me scratching my head. And maybe even concerned for the girl’s safety.

Guys – Gotta Love Em’

From Amsterdam (aren’t drugs legal there?), comes the story of a man who built a Viking ship from 15 million ice cream sticks. According to the article, this is the largest sailing ship ever built from ice cream sticks – which clearly implies there have been others. The small birch sticks are apparently held in place by glue, which suggests that there is a shortage of duct tape in the Netherlands. And speaking of guys doing odd things, 25 of them will now get on this mighty ship and actually sail it.

And while you women readers shake your heads in dismay, may I suggest that there is probably a woman behind this whole project. This guy’s wife got him out of the house for two years doing something that didn’t cost squat, while she had reason and encouragement to scarf all the ice cream she could possibly eat. Hmmm…

UnIntelligent Design

I’ve certainly ranted enough already about why teaching Intelligent Design in science class is, well… stupid. Science would be the only class where students would find that as an alternative to learning and exploring really complicated things they could just attribute it all to magic. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Of course it’s no surprise that our science-challenged President supports teaching ID. (But hey, he thinks tax cuts are an economic policy.) However, just in time for the 2008 elections, Republicans are doing some interesting flip-flopping. First Frist flips (say that 10 times fast) on stem cell research. And now Santorum flops on teaching ID. The good news is that these guys are obviously thinking that they can’t be elected by only the religious conservatives. They need to appeal to a broader audience. The bad news is they are not only morons, they’re spineless morons.

In other news, just when you thought it was safe to go to Texas, out comes this little gem. (Sorry, I think you have to register for this site). Texas has evaded the whole ID in science debate by creating an elective public school course on bible study. It’s supposed to be taught from a secular point of view, but that clearly is not how it’s manifesting. The curriculum says,

“The central approach of the class is simply to study the Bible as a foundation document of society, and that approach is altogether appropriate in a comprehensive program of secular education.”

Yet in one unit the course cites supposed NASA findings to suggest that the earth stopped twice in its orbit, in support of the literal truth of the biblical text that the sun stood still in Joshua and II Kings. In another unit, the course asserts that the bible was the blueprint for the American Constitution. I bet Thomas Jefferson and the boys would get a good chuckle out of that one.

It may surprise you to learn that I completely support teaching religions in school. But they (yes, there are many of them) should be taught from a cultural perspective, not a theological one. Understanding the similarities and differences of belief systems, and the influence religions have on culture is a virtual necessity to live in this world. And I think schools are remiss for not teaching it. My fear is that the reality of allowing such courses in schools always seems to turn out more like the Texas debacle. It’s a little like communism. It’s a great theory, it just doesn’t work in practicality.