Interesting Stuff: Who Knew?

No Waterfowl Were Harmed in the Writing of this Letter | National Lame Duck Day

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time (by which I mean in England in the 1700s which is before even your grandfather was born) the term “lame duck” referred to stock brokers who couldn’t pay their debts. I don’t know why. Those British, you know.

Then the term carried over to people (in those days, men) who were completely bankrupt but would continue to do business.

You want me to fly with crutches? I think not. Lame duck, my ass. Happy National Lame Duck Day. DearKidLoveMom.comBack in the Old Days (and by “old days” I mean before hashtags were invented) of the United States, there were 13 months (count ‘em—over a year) from the time a congressperson (man, in those days) was elected until the time he took office. Which meant a long time during which he was neither campaigning nor particularly beholden to his constituency. This time was called a lame duck session of congress.

On the plus side, this meant that congressmen could get on with the business of governing. On the downside, it meant that many people (men, mostly) considered that these folks didn’t have any real power since they’d been booted out of their jobs.

An awful lot of people are confused as to just what is meant by a lame duck Congress. It’s like where some fellows worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory and you let ’em out, but after you fired ’em, you let ’em stay long enough so they could burn your house down.  – Will Rogers

So back in the 1930s (also a long time ago), people decided that 13 months was just waaaay too long. And they decided to pass the 20th Amendment to the Constitution to shorten the “lame duck” period from 13 months to 2 months. Which meant the waterfowl didn’t need crutches for nearly as long.

The Amendment was passed by Congress (not during a lame duck session) on March 2, 1932 and ratified on January 23, 1933. So why am I talking about it today? Because it was Proclaimed by the United States Secretary of State on February 6, 1933 and February 6th was therefore chose as National Lame Duck Day.

Which is pretty lame if you ask me.

Love, Mom

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Incredibly Cool Parents Hang at Streetside Brewery

Dear Kid,

Last week, Dad and I went to an event for Ohio River Foundation (shout out) at the Streetside Brewery.

(That’s where I met the insanely cool woman who gets to play with otters. *jealous*)

Streetside Brewery is a nifty little bar out in Columbia-Tusculum (an area founded in 1788, which was a long time ago for those of you that aren’t history majors).

Incredibly Cool Parents Hang at Streetside Brewery

Thanks to the magic of getting-directions-on-cell-phone, I had absolutely no trouble getting there (even though it is not my regular stomping ground). I had even less trouble getting home, because it turns out that if you go the other way you run into Red Bank Road and then boom! you’re home. Or at least I was.

I was there more for the people (thank you everyone) and the conversation than the beer. So I was busy enjoying the beer (and appetizers—the grilled pineapple was a-mahz-ing) when flip! on went a set of really, really bright lights and it turns out that the place was MUCH bigger than I’d thought.

We really were in the brewery and I hadn’t realized it.

So of course I had to investigate.

Incredibly Cool Parents Hang at Streetside Brewery

Streetside hasn’t been open very long (and by not very long I mean they opened sometime last fall). They are busy creating all sorts of interesting beer varieties (you can visit their website here) and being Very Nice People (they put up with me, so that should tell you something right there).

If you find yourself in that part of town, I highly recommend stopping in for a brew or two.

Love, Mom

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Fernald, Raptors, Radiation, and Gender Confusion

Dear Kid,

Sunday, Dad and I headed west. Not far west, just west enough to go to Fernald Preserve (which used to be Fernald Nuclear Weapons and Site Contamination Plant) to see a presentation by Raptor Inc.

Back in the day (and by “day” I mean 1951 to 1989), Fernald was a uranium processing facility. In 1984, the plant came under a wee bit of criticism (and by “wee bit” I mean the proverbial doo doo hit the proverbial fan) because the plant had been busy releasing radioactive uranium dust into the atmosphere. Cue environmental outrage and multi-headed ducks. Fast forward through stuff your father finds fascinating and me not so much, and the entire 1,050 acre area is a Nature Preserve (and Superfund site).

Snoopy, the world's most famous vulture.

Snoopy, the world’s most famous vulture.

Sunday, Raptor Inc held a Standing Room Only event at Fernald. While I met some glorious birds, Dad went through the museum and Learned All the History. We both felt we’d spent our time well.

While I wasn’t personally introduced (because A) there were zillions of people in attendance and B) these are wild birds who prefer to stay on highly formal terms), I got to admire several raptors.

The first was Ollie, the Great Horned Owl. He is perfectly fine as far as physical abilities, but he seems (according to the experts) a few cards shy of a deck.

The second bird they brought out was Storm, a Barn Owl who lost a wing in 2007. Storm is loud, which is to say it sounded like someone was being murdered as he was brought out. This is (apparently) how he greets all audiences. I don’t speak owl (I only speak Puppy), so I can’t say whether he was happily announcing his presence or suggesting we all go home.

After that came Wildwood, a Red Shouldered Hawk, who puffed himself up to show that even though he was held by a human, he’s still a big ‘ol dude who Is To Be Reckoned With. He has an injured wing and can’t be released. That did not at all impact his ability to glare which he did extremely well.

The final raptor of the day wasn’t. Wasn’t a raptor that is. The finale was Earl the Turkey Vulture. Earl was raised (illegally) by humans and is convinced that she (yep, she’s a she) is a person. She imprinted on her humans and has no idea how to be a Turkey Vulture. Originally, Earl was thought to be male (the coloring for TVs is the same for both genders). Then one day she laid an egg. Voila! Gender reassignment. So Earl the Girl is now a show girl, spreading her wings for audiences to appreciate.

All in all a lovely outing.

Love, Mom

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Facts About River Otters & Why They’re Like Congress

Dear Kid,

The first thing to know about river otters is that they require rivers (unlike the Congressional Intelligence Committee which doesn’t require intelligence and only barely requires congressionals).

Also (rather like the Congressional Committee members) they are members of the weasel family and feed on whatever is available.

They need to eat frequently but (again, unlike CongressPeople) they have a high metabolism and rarely have martinis.

Facts About River Otters & Why They're Like Congress DearKidLoveMom.comThey (like CongressMembers) are mostly nocturnal and prefer play over work. They are highly communicative, using whistles, yelps, growls, screams, and grunts, but rarely say anything of value to regular humans. River otters (and possibly CongressHumans) use scent marking to secure their territory.

Because they are sneaky (or as they prefer “playful”) river otters can be trained to do exactly what they want to do (see: Congressional Representative). They can be successful bred in captivity but do not make good pets because very few people have rivers running through the center of their homes.

I will not be getting a river otter.

Or a pet congress person.

Love, Mom

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Hair Today

Dear Kid,

It is Talking About Hair Day. It isn’t really, but (just like every other day) part of getting ready to face the world involves fluffing our folliculars.

As we go about fixing the fur, tending the tresses, managing the mane, I thought some tonsorial factoids might be in order.

Seriously, you know NOTHING about hair. I am an expert. DearKidLoveMom.comPut down your brush, and pay attention.

Hair grows approximately ¼ to ½ an inch a month. Unless it’s growing in an unwanted area in which case it grows approximately ½ foot per day.

A wet strand of healthy hair can stretch to 30% more than its original length.  When it gets to 31%, it will snap like a brittle twig and ruin your ‘do.

Hair can tell a lot of tales. It can tell a forensic scientist where you’ve been, what you’ve eaten, who you murdered, and how you feel about puppies. It can tell a suspicious spouse that someone has been in close contact with your jacket.

The scientific term for split ends is “trichoptilosis.” No one cares.

Hair is 50 percent carbon, 21 percent oxygen, 17 percent nitrogen, 6 percent hydrogen, 5 percent sulphur, and 70% tangles.

A single hair has a lifespan of about 5 years. Unless you’re LL Cool J or Michael Simon.

Hair grows fastest when you’ve gotten a cut you really like. It grows slowest when you’re trying to grow it out. 3 inches. Before your blind date Saturday night.

Love, Mom

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Thinking About French Fries…

Dear Kid,

I’m thinking about French fries.

Which are not French. Nor are they handy.

Just to be clear, apples are not really a good substitute for French fries (in case you weren’t sure).

apples are not really a good substitute for French fries. Damn Diet. DearKidLoveMom.comFrench fries were (possibly) invented by Belgium villagers (who didn’t call them French fries because that would be ridiculous). During WWI, American soldiers in Belgium had French fries and fell in luv. The official language of the Belgian army was French, and the Americans (who were not exactly well versed in geography and geopolitical history) call they called yummy fried-ness French fries. Americans still call them French fries because A) Americans and B) Belgium is for waffles.

You might think pretty much everyone eats FFs with ketchup. You’d be mistaken. When one is in Belgium, one eats FFs with mayonnaise. When one is in Britain or Canada, one eats FFs with vinegar. Malt vinegar, please. If one is me, one eats FFs with mustard, because it’s delicious. When one is in a fast food joint, one eats FFs with a burger.

Several years ago, fries got a bad rap when “Ya’ want fries wid dat?” became short-hand for the most advanced level of work at McDonald’s. In other words, career stoppage. Poor French fries.

Yeah, still want some.

Damn diet.

Love, Mom

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