Archive for September, 2011

What’s Marijuana?

September 22, 2011

The child, Ms. Beasley Korsakov, likes the TeeVee show, SURVIVOR™. That’s OK, she can have her little TeeVee adventures and witness interesting social situations all she wants. Both of her parents are psychologists, so it’s all fine and nearly educational.

One of the contestants this season is a fella named Jim who happens to own a couple of marijuana dispensaries, bless his heart. He also plays competitive poker, but that’s neither here nor there.

The kid cranked up the old DVR after today’s homework, started watching and asked, “What’s marijuana?”

Well the answer came easy (something like this):

“Marijuana is a plant that some people eat or, like tobacco, smoke. Marijuana makes some people feel really good kind of like alcohol and it can make some people feel really loopy or just sleepy. It’s considered a medicine by a lot of people and an illegal drug by others. There are a bunch of states where it’s basically legal to possess. And it IS legal to possess or purchase in some other states if you have a prescription from a doctor for pain or anxiety or cancer or AIDS or anorexia. It’s a big industry now and is basically socially accepted.

Marijuana use–like gay marriage–will more than likely be perfectly legal and accepted when you’re an adult. Some people believe that marijuana is bad, especially for children (which I agree). Like many things that are for legal adults (alcohol, cigarettes, gambling), children shouldn’t consume marijuana. Some people believe marijuana leads to the use of other drugs that are actually harmful. But scientific research suggests that there are other factors exclusive of marijuana consumption that lead people to harmful drug use.

So Jim on SURVIVOR™ runs two shops where people who have prescriptions from doctors can legally buy marijuana to use to help them feel better. It’s just another job of a reality show contestant.”

She goes, “Oh. I’m going to watch now.” [In a perfect world or quality sit-com, her reply would’ve been, “does it make you ramble like you’re giving a college lecture?] I’m relieved we had that talk now.

But I now realize that explaining marijuana to a kid makes it seem like at some point someone really had a whole social and legal over-reaction to marijuana for reasons that seem quaint now.

We have real problems in this existence. Pot, for the most part, is quite insignificant.


September 7, 2011

When I was a kid, we’d catch grasshoppers and put them in a grass-filled shoebox with holes poked in the top. You couldn’t see what was going on in there and the only way to check on your prisoners without letting them escape was to wait until they died. When we graduated to frogs and snakes, letting them die in a box is the stuff baby sister’s tears are made of. Even at that early age we knew being an amphibian was not a capital offence so, we’d catch some frogs, stare at their petrified faces for a while, and let them go. BOOOOORIIIIING.

The kids today get something about 360 times cooler. It’s a natural habitat that perfectly mimics the forest and provides a feeding hole you can stick bugs in. We got ours for $25 at WalMart but Amazon always has these things $5 cheaper.

The frog (or toad or snake or salamander or turtle) can cool off in the pond and later bask on a fake stump. When he starts to get really comfortable, he can feast on all the bugs you caught. Feeding them bread or processed food constipates them to death so you need to make sure they only get bugs. That’s where the second, drastically more awesome part comes in. We bought this laser bug vac with the habitat and you use it to vacuum bugs into a special chamber where the kids can look at them through a built in magnifying glass for as long as they want (which is a long ass time). Then you plug the bug chamber into the habitat and the bugs have no choice but to crawl out into the frog’s lair where they will eventually be consumed. The kids are fascinated by this process and it’s changed the way they feel about being in the country. Nature walks used to be a spectator sport where we’d walk through the forest like we were visiting the aquarium. Now the kids get their knees dirty and scour the forest floor for critters. Frogs and bugs aren’t gross to them anymore. One is cute and the other is food.

My kids were 2 and 3 when I got these toys and I tended to not let them handle the Bug Vac part of the process. It has too many pieces to lose and they would squeeze the vacuum trigger for so long, it would drain the batteries. Besides, it’s too fun to share. After stalking prey for a while, I started to understand why animals are so into hunting. I went from being annoyed by bugs in the house to thinking, “Oh, that looks delicious” and grabbing my weapon. The kids are 3 and 4 now and the Bug Vac is still Daddy’s toy. When it gets dark, we go to the porch light where dozens of confused bugs fly around in circles and I catch at least 20. We attach the canister on to the habitat every half-dozen bugs or so and the kids stare wide-eyed as the insects crawl into the unknown.

By morning, the bugs are gone and all the amphibians in the tank are wearing sweatpants and belching.

Most amphibians get stressed out easily and can even have heart attacks so it gets uncomfortable watching the kids manhandle these poor bastards. Salamanders seem particularly vulnerable but after a few tries, I realized getting the kids to take it easy on the creatures is a big part of the learning process. Today they handle everything so delicately, frogs and salamanders often wiggle free. They’ve also learned to get these cold- blooded vertebrate animals in the tank as soon as possible to minimize the panic.

If you’re particularly soft, you might feel bad about seeing this poor guy locked in a Plexiglas jail. Especially when the kids keep moving it around to get a better look. I felt this way at first but once the prisoners experience a 12-hour buffet, you’ll have trouble getting them to leave. After reaching in and pulling one salamander out after a night of endless feeding, I caught him crawling all over the thing hours later trying to get back in. The recidivism on this thing takes away the guilt of locking them up.

This obviously isn’t a city toy because even if you’re lucky enoughto find a frog, the odds of you finding enough bugs to feed it are low but if you’re spending any time in the country, this is a great way to make hanging out with you way more fun as you make nature way less weird.


September 6, 2011