Parental Profanity Policy

Disclaimer: We only have one child.  He is unusually observant and tends to pick up social rules fairly easily and accurately.  What works with him may not work with every child.  We are only two parents, and the two of us share extremely similar values.  What is comfortable for us may not be comfortable for everyone.

Our son Nicholas will be starting kindergarten tomorrow in a large, urban public school.  It’s possible he will observe undesirable habits and try them out himself.  Who knows what we’ll encounter?  But there’s one kind of bad habit we’re not too concerned about: using crude language in situations where it’s inappropriate.  Daniel and I are not easily offended by profanity, but we think it’s important to avoid offending others.  We think that the policy we’ve had about profanity so far is working pretty well! Read more…

Electric Kettle

I love hot drinks.  In addition to my dependence on coffee or caffeinated tea, I drink hot chocolate or herbal tea regularly in cold weather to warm me up–and I sometimes need that even in the hottest weather when my office building’s management chooses absurd air-conditioner settings!  I’m also a big fan of quick oats at home and instant oatmeal as an office snack: It’s quick and easy to make, it’s tasty, a packet has just enough calories to make me feel really full without spoiling my next meal, and Costco recently introduced a Kirkland brand gigantic variety pack of instant oatmeal that’s organic yet very affordable!

I used to make my at-home hot drinks and oatmeal by boiling water in a kettle on the stove burner.  That worked just fine.  But at work, I was heating water in the microwave, which just doesn’t work all that well–it can get too hot without actually boiling, sometimes parts of the cup are different temperatures, and if you screw up (particularly with oatmeal) it can explode and slop all over you!  My new year’s resolution in 2002 was to switch from coffee to tea, but tea made with microwaved water was just not right.  I needed a better boiling method to help me keep my resolution. Read more…

Things Not To Do, Dessert Edition

When I was in college, I belonged to a very silly geek social organization called KGB.  We did a lot of weird things, including some which were worked into the structure of our weekly meetings.  One of these was Things Not To Do: You’d get the floor, say, “Things Not To Do,” and share an experience that hadn’t turned out so well.  I have a collection of TNTD from my time as recording secretary, which I’ve always thought would make a cute little book, kind of the opposite of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  I’ve also mulled the idea of making TNTD a regular feature here in The Earthling’s Handbook . . . and now I am inspired.  This Works-for-Me Wednesday, I’ll tell you about something that spectacularly didn’t work for me! Read more…

Grilled Cheese Worth 14 Years of Gratitude!

First the recipe, then the story.

To make one delightfully delectable grilled-cheese sandwich, you will need: Read more…

Free computer game!! “The Sand Boxes”

Daniel wrote another computer game for another contest!  “The Sand Boxes” is accessed by clicking the icon with a picture of a wooden Inca face (also, the title pops up when you roll your mouse over the icon) on the contest page.

This game has graphics and is shorter than Daniel’s previous game, “Ka”.  It takes about half an hour to play.  In “The Sand Boxes”, you are trying to rescue a trapped archaeologist by finding and opening puzzle boxes with sliding parts, to find the golden keys, one of which will open The Mountain’s Mouth.

I’d say anybody over about 8 years old who has some patience with puzzles would enjoy this game.  Our 5-year-old had some luck with it but not enough logic/persistence to solve some of the puzzles–for example, if he’d already tried moving a piece without success, he wouldn’t try that piece again even after moving another piece and creating a space next to it.

These puzzles move using very realistic physics.  There’s even a combination lock!  It’s annoying to turn with your mouse, but it does work exactly like a real combination lock.  (And I carefully decoded the numbers of the combination from the place where they are encoded, only to realize as I spun the lock that Daniel had used the actual combination from the padlock he photographed, which is mine!  I haven’t used it in a while, but I might have remembered the combination–I certainly recognized it–so that was an odd moment, finding my lock in an archaeologist’s camp in Peru!)