The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘kids’

The 1 Billionth Person to Discover Fire

‘Discoverer’: OH. MY. GOD! THIS IS AMAZING! Guys … GUYS!

Person 1: Hey, what’s up?

Person 2: Ohhhhhh. I see. He discovered fire.

‘Discoverer’: Can you believe this?! This is amazing!!!

Person 1: Aw. Yes, it is amazing, kid.

Person 2: Yep.

‘Discoverer’: Ok. Fine. Sure. Whatever. You guys have also discovered fire but like … COME ON! Look at this PARTICULAR fire. It is …

Person 1: No, no, sweetheart.

Person 2: Love your fire. It’s what you should do. But your fire is not objectively more special than anyone else’s fire is to them.

‘Discoverer’: (Uh … yeah huh.)

Person 2: Child. I have discovered fire FOUR times. You think I don’t know when someone is talking under their breath at me?

‘Discoverer’: (Kicks sand sheepishly) It’s just …

Person 1: I get it. Your fire is incredible. As it should be.

‘Discoverer’: Yeah, I mean I can’t prove it but I feel like there is an intensity to my fire that –

Person 2: Child.

‘Discoverer’: Ok ok, fine. Whatever. Every fire is great. But you know what, I still think mine is a more magical fire than the fires you discovered.

Person 1: As you should.

Person 2: And it’s such a cute fire.

‘Discoverer’: (Yeah, way cuter than your fires …)

Person 1 and 2, in unison: Child.


Kids These Days

Edna herself!

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
– Second Fig, by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I was thinking about this poem today, a favorite of mine, and it occurred to me. One might argue the project I am working on is an ugly house built upon the sand. Of course, that’s a pessimistic view, so I’ll just gleefully stick my head in the sand and not walk further down that road.

But what else could this beautiful two line poem convey?

Kids. Kids are in desperate need of a solid foundation and sometimes life throws other things their way and they find their youth spent upon the sand (and not the actual sand, like those lucky southern California kids, with their unchanging perfect weather and what nots).

Stability is key for youth, it allows the youth in question to be the unbalanced object in a world of constants. If instead the kid is growing up surrounded by change – parents, house, schools, friends, whatever – then something stable will hopefully jump up. And most likely that stable item or person won’t be recognized, and almost certainly it won’t be appreciated, but perhaps one day it will be.

But if there is no stability, that kid could end up the stable item and miss that topsy turvy lifestyle (in later years, when money is available and responsibilities are relatively few, that topsy turvy lifestyle could be found and be quite detrimental – I’m looking at you, child stars). Or perhaps the kid will be the unstablest of unstables, and shock the comparatively stable adults who can’t help but get angry at this child. Maybe instead of anger as the chief emotion, patience should instead be the one to try to go to first. Another beautiful line:

Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.

George, the party animal.

This gem is from the tongue-tying-ly named George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon.

I figure any kid who represents a shining palace is certainly representing such a thing on sand. Because one wrong comment can show the lack of foundation that shining palace is built upon.

And, as a person who thinks of himself as living in a pretty lovely house on solid rock, I’ll remind you that when you live in the ugliest house on the block, you don’t have to look at it … you get to look out at all the shining palaces built around you. (A judgmental paradise.)

What’s my point? What is the purpose of this Andy Rooney Jr. kind of rant? I guess I’m just suggesting that people remember that we are all built upon a foundation that is part sand, part concrete, and that all of us should try to serve as concrete rather than sand in the lives of those around us, and even those who may be far away but who we value.

That Old Sentimental So-and-So

Attn: Ellen (10/2/13)



Back (apologies for my handwriting!)


The text of the postcard is

Dear Ellen,

Ah yes, the delightful tradition of learning how to cop a feel by practicing on a snow woman. Belgian kids, huh? Those little tikes.


Why am I doing this?

Kids Write the Darndest Things, Part 2

Thank you letter from a kid

“I learned about Human Resources which is the items Human uses.”
If that doesn’t make this child sound like an alien conqueror, I don’t know what would.

Thank you letter from a kid

“I learned, first, how to make and run a company.”
Woah. This other guy and I are apparently AMAZING teachers.

Thank you letter from a kid

“income means you will like 200:00 dollars and expense means you loss like 50:00 dollars.”
What? Oh I get it … This is one advanced child. He/she already grasped the next lesson: time is money. What time is it!? It’s 50:00 dollars O’Clock.



Thank you letter from a kid

“Like a lawyer gets lots of money. Next, income and expense, income is getting money. I get an income in taking out the trash. It was my moms expense to give me the money for taking out the trash.”
Telling it like it is. “P.S. Colts rock!” – how great is that?

Thank you letter from a kid

“I learned that business need no themselves but also other businesses.”
Poetry. And also, the guts on this guy … refreshing MY memory? Pft.
“and to refresh your memorie capital resources means building, machines, and tools.”

Kids Write the Darndest Things

I am writing this from my bedroom in my parent’s house (it’s not really “my” bedroom so much as anyone’s bedroom now … but the closets are still full of my junk. Don’t worry folks, I’ll empty those one day when I have a house that can hold all that stuff that should probably just be thrown away).

Anyhow, I stumbled on just one of those items that I am keeping for no reason. It is an envelope full of letters that were sent to another guy and I after we volunteered in their classroom. The teacher was a nice woman who forced them to write these letters.

There are some gems among those letters which I will show tomorrow. For now, a few items about that day.

The event was working with a classroom for a day, for my partner and I it was 4th grade. You spent the whole day with them, going through a workbook, and teaching them various things (depending on what grade you had). For us the lesson plan was about how businesses work. Or local economies. Or something like that.

I volunteered for this because I enjoy working with kids, but also because I wanted friends. This happened not long after I moved to California. I signed up and was paired with another person who did not have a partner. The other guy, let’s call him Doug, turned out to be maybe 5’5 or so? It made me feel awkwardly tall. But, Doug was a nice guy and I was excited about working with the kids.

The classroom day had three awkward highlights:

One very honest and blunt kid (who knew exactly what he was doing, the little twerp), asked sweetly, “how come you’re so tall and you’re so short?”

After recess a little girl came up to me:

“Where were you at recess?”
“Where was I? I was at kickball!” (I said this sarcastically, because that’s my tendency.)
The little girl, sadly: “Oh, because I looked for you to play a game.”

Doug, later (jokingly because he knew I felt bad): “Way to lie to a little girl and hurt her feelings.”

And part three … One of the thank you letters was addressed to Mrs. Doug! How great, and insulting, is that!

Stereotypes and A-Holes (And How I Relate to Them So Well)

Through work I found out about a great volunteer opportunity where people from work went to a school and did all of the lessons in one day. Hanging out with kids all day? Sounds good. (That’s not sarcasm, but you’d think it would be.)

I worked with another guy and we were going to teach a fourth grade class. I was randomly assigned to work with him, but he was a very nice guy.

At the time I lived in the Silicon Valley. Which meant the school had a pretty wide array of people. The class had your standard white-bread Americana kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, middle Eastern kids, Asian kids, one kid from Russia and if I recall correctly one kid from Egypt.

How cool is that!

I remember my fourth grade class had, I think, one Asian kid, one black kid, and the rest white. I was living in Leavenworth, Kansas – so those demographics seem about right.


I thought it was great for the kids to see so much diversity at a young age, when you’re less likely (I hope) to have negative pre-conceived notions about any particular nationality, skin color, or whatever.

I was worried though. What if the one Russian kid was a jerk? Then these kids might think of all Russians as jerks. I know that’s pretty silly to have such strong associations with a whole country from one person, but I realized I just did something similar.

I was watching the news about some research PhD’s at Stanford were doing, and one of the researchers was a New Zealander. I’ve never been to New Zealand. As far as I know, I’ve never met a New Zealander. But I am a big fan of  The Flight of the Conchords.

My thoughts when this genius PhD was talking? I bet he’s hilarious. I didn’t pay attention to his intelligent thoughts at all, I just waited for the punch line. It never came. (But in my head I think he was just SO DRY that I didn’t get it. Genius New Zealanders and they’re hyper-intelligent humor, it’s just too smart for me.)


I’ll add two things that I thought were funny from that day teaching those kids.

My co-teacher for the day was quite a bit shorter than me, so one of the students walked up to us and said, “hey, why are you so much shorter than him?” That kid is bound to be a scientist. The slighting of my co-teacher continued when we received thank you notes from all of the students (the teacher made them write these) and one of the students addressed my co-teacher, a male, as “Miss.” Awesome.

The other funny thing was an example of how I need to learn when to be sarcastic. Well, I don’t need to learn that, I need to actually do what I know I should.

A little girl came up to my co-teacher and I, “did you guys go out to recess?”
Me: “Yeah, we were at the four-square tearing it up.”
The little girl, very sadly, “oh, I looked for you guys and didn’t see you.”
I am an a-hole.


What’s the point of this scatter-shot Weekly Wacko? Self-made stereotypes make PhDs much more personable. And, I’m an a-hole.

De Jour of the Week (12/20/10)

It’s Christmas. I’m allowed to be sappy. I couldn’t think of a name for this so I decided the mocking myself title. Thanks also to Hendrik who has called me that.

Oh You Old Sentimental So-and-So

Summer’s smiling her sweet sunshine down on me,
And she,
And he,
Now we’ve got ourselves a merry little gang called we

We’re going outside now because it smells so fresh the day must’ve just come out of the bakers
And I’d ask if there were any takers
But on a day like this when a gang of we forms we already know everywhere the world is made up of all-the-sudden movers and shakers

Grab your shoes and take them off
Grab your cares and throw them off
(And if someone dares mention responsibility just scoff)

Suddenly we find ourselves in a game of I-forgot-the-name
The fun thing about playing some game with no name is it’s the same as any other no-name game
The rules are voluntary
But if you like order and rules and find voluntary rules scary
Then fine, the rules are in-voluntary
Just don’t bother explaining them because we don’t want to tarry

Lazy smiles
On tiny faces somehow go for miles

Laughter competes with birds’ chirps competes with the leaves
In the breeze
For your ear buds attention
And did I forget to mention?
There’s some princess needs rescuing, and dragon needs slaying, and magic spell practicing to be done with the gang of we’s imagination

A moment hits and the day freezes
And if it so pleases,
I’ll repeat the thought that just ran through your smart, smiling, sun-freckled mind
Across this park right now a prince was just knighted, a touchdown scored, the laws of physics ignored as you blast off into outer space – and all things of this kind
You take it all in
Knowing there’s no place you’d rather be than this particular when

And he,
And she,
And me,
(Remember our little gang of we?)
Couldn’t be more happy

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