Posts Tagged "bicycles"

Squirrel Tails | Pondering Life on College Campuses

Squirrel Tails, Pondering Life on College Campuses DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

We have found a new solution to the age old problem of How to Stop Squirrels from Eating at the Bird Feeder. Our answer? Forget to fill them. Then no one goes near the bird feeders. Sigh.

Since you are now living in a place with college town Kamikaze squirrels, I think it is time to address a question that has bothered me for years: why do some squirrels have bushy tails and others look like they are candidates for squirrel tail toupees?

I turned to my best source of squirrel information: Booker. He gave me A Look that said “haven’t you noticed I’ve given up worrying about squirrels?” It’s true. Whether he’s decided they are ok to have around or whether he’s learned that they climb trees and are therefore not good potential friends, I don’t know. He proceeded to wag his tail, lick his paw, and generally ignore the question.

I turned to my next best source of information, my friend the internet. While there are lots of reasonably reliable sites talking about why squirrels have bushy tails (balance, warmth, and communication device) there are only a few sites that talk about skinny tails and those are clearly opinion or possibly fairy tale based. At best.

Answers I found included heredity (duh), mange (ew), shedding (the Booker syndrome), and eating sunflower seeds. None of which are particularly interesting (except perhaps the sunflower one. Except that there are no sunflowers in the neighborhood.).

I thought about making up writing a story discovering a long lost epic tail called Why Some Squirrels Have Skinny Tales and Other Tails of the Squirrel World. Then I decided a cup of tea sounded like a better idea.

Bottom line: Some squirrels have skinny tails and some squirrels have bushy tails. Sometimes bushy tail squirrels have tails that get skinny and sometimes skinny tail squirrels fluff up. And sometimes they don’t.

Squirrel tail toupees are probably a bad idea unless you want to get paid with an IOU for nuts–if the squirrel can remember where they are buried.

Watch out for squirrels, my Tired One.

Love, Mom

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Bicycles: The Semi-Unofficial History of Two Wheel Fun

What do you call a cyclist who doesn't wear a helmet?  An organ donor.  ~David PerryDear Kid,

Way back in 1817, Baron von Drais invented a walking machine that was basically a two wheel bike without pedals and made entirely of wood. If one wanted to meander the royal gardens more quickly than a walk, one hopped on this device (known as a hobby horse) and rolled oneself along like a baby on a scooter only with better clothes. In modern times, inventors proved that a walking machine needs tennis balls to work properly.walker tennis balls

Fast forward to 1865 (when fast forward still hadn’t been invented) and some smarty pants decided to add pedals to the front wheel. However, this same smarty (being a nerd of the day) spent too much time indoors staring at the spot where his Nintendo wasn’t and didn’t taken into account the small problem of the streets still being made of cobblestones. Since the velocipede (as it was officially called) was not built with decent shock absorbers, it was popularly called a bone shaker and was suitable primarily for small boys who weren’t rich enough to own them anyway.

Later in the 19th century, solid rubber tires and HUGE front wheels were invented. According to (where much of the factual information included here came from) the point of the big wheel was not only to get an early trademark on a children’s toy, but also because people figured out that the larger the wheel the farther the rider would travel on one rotation of the pedals. Other scholars (unnamed) think that the young men who purchased and rode these things may have been compensating. For something. Like not being given the keys to the horse and carriage.

old fashion bike Here are the really cool tidbits about the high wheeled bikes:

  1. It was the first time such a contraption had been called a bicycle.
  2. Because the rider was perched high and the center of gravity of the bike clung to a spot closer to the ground, if the front wheel stopped suddenly (“Hello, it’s a rock!”) the rider went head-first into the cobblestones. This is where the term “taking a header” comes from. It may also be the origin of pet rocks.

You, my darling, learned to ride a tricycle (made of white plastic with teal foot pedals as I recall) when you were 1 ½ or so in the hall outside our apartment in NYC. You would ride as fast as you could to the end of the hall where you would stop by smashing into the wall. Then you would get off your bike, turn it around, rinse and repeat. You thought this was fabulous. Eventually you learned the concept of turning when you reached the ripe old age of 1 ¾ or thereabouts.

Enjoy your new bike. Pedal far and prosper.

Love, Mom

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