Wordless Wednesday: The World’s Second Largest Dragonfly

At Grandma and Grandpa Summer Camp this year, The Ten-Year-Old netted a giant dragonfly.

Photo: Shala Howell

I mean, just look at the size of that thing. It’s nearly as big as the dragonflies here in Chicago.

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Wordless Wednesday: Chicago

(Photo: Shala Howell)

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What’s The Ten-Year-Old reading this week?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Average man Arthur Dent is plucked off the face of the Earth seconds before its demolition by his friend Ford Prefect. Ford, who originally introduced himself to Arthur as an out-of-work actor, turns out to be an alien doing research for the essential galactic tome, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Don’t panic. The newly (and absolutely) homeless Arthur is in good hands as he travels through the galaxy with Ford. And by good hands, I mean mostly harmless ones, of course.  

Why The Ten-Year-Old thinks you’ll like it: “Totally hilarious. The two funniest space aliens, except for maybe Chewbacca, that I’ve ever heard of are Zaphod Beeblebrox and Ford Prefect. If I’d understood the Vogon poetry, I’m sure I would have found it majorly offensive, but I didn’t so who knows.”

Who would like this book, according to The Ten-Year-Old: 

“Anyone who likes sci-fi would like this book. It’s a series of very weird coincidences.”

Ten (The Winnie Years) by Lauren Myracle

The Ten-Year-Old first met Lauren Myracle through her Upside-Down Magic series. Ten didn’t feature adorable cats on the cover, but it did have a protagonist exactly The Ten-Year-Old’s age, so she agreed to give it a try. 

What The Ten-Year-Old thinks about it: 

“It’s about a girl who lives in Atlanta and her life. Very good storytelling. The whole thing about the crack in the wall and her storing stuff in it was cool. It’s more realistic than you’d think given the first couple of lines about unicorns.”

“It doesn’t exactly capture my experience of being ten, but Winnie had problems with her friendships that I could totally understand. One friend was really kind of mean. I think those friendship problems are something anyone–even a seven-year-old–can relate to. Well, maybe not babies.”

Who would like this book, according to The Ten-Year-Old: 

“Anybody looking for something good to read that won’t make you laugh out loud super hard and freak your parents out while they’re driving. It is funny in parts, though.”

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Wordless Wednesday: Man Enters the Cosmos at the Adler Planetarium

Man Enters the Cosmos (c)1980 Henry Moore. (Photo: Shala Howell)

This sundial sculpture outside the Adler Planetarium, titled Man Enters the Cosmos, celebrates the nation’s space program. At the time the sculpture was commissioned by the Trustees of the B. F. Ferguson Fund and created by Henry Moore in 1980, that program had already sent men to the moon and probes to Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

NASA, The Ten-Year-Old and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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Happy Fourth of July!

A wee bit of public art from the newly revitalized Chicago Riverwalk. (Photo: Michael Howell)

Hope you spot something interesting while you’re out and about today.

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What’s The Ten-Year-Old reading this week?

Elvis: Collector’s Edition by Closer Weekly Magazine
The Ten-Year-Old is away at Grandma & Grandpa Summer Camp this week, doing secret Grandma & Grandpa Summer Camp things.

I obviously don’t have first hand knowledge of the books she is reading there, but I have it on good authority (Grandma’s) that when The Ten-Year-Old found Grandpa’s copy of Closer Magazine’s Elvis: 2017 Collector’s Edition, she spirited it off to an undisclosed location and it hasn’t been seen since.

Apparently, we need to review some basic rules of book sharing when The Ten-Year-Old gets home.

In the meantime, The Ten-Year-Old wants you to know that reading this book is nearly as much fun as catching lizards. When I asked her to bring the magazine back to some public spot so that Grandpa could read it too, she protested. “But Mommyo, it’s got all the facts about Elvis in one place. Do you know how long I’ve been looking for something like this?”

Fortunately for Grandpa, there’s a limited number of these books still available on eBay.

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Wordless Wednesday: The Ten-Year-Old tours Jurassic World at the Field Museum

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

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“Did a cow invent the doughnut?”

One afternoon, while we were watching old episodes of Murdoch Mysteries, The Ten-Year-Old had her mind blown by a stray comment from Constable George Crabtree. “Did you know that a cow invented the doughnut?” Crabtree asks Detective Murdoch during a pause in the investigation.

The Ten-Year-Old, who retains control of the remote during Murdoch Mysteries just in case the episodes become too scary, immediately hit pause. “Mommyo, is that true?”

Curiosity trumps TV, even in the summer, especially if that TV is streamed and can be stopped at will. The Ten-Year-Old absolutely refused to hit play until she knew exactly how a cow was involved in creating the doughnut. Her working theory was that the cow invented the hole in the middle, either by stepping into a pile of dough or spearing it with its horns. If I ever wanted to know whether Cecil Fox deserved the hanging he so cleverly survived, I was going to have to get to the bottom of this cow issue.

First things first: Does anyone really think a cow invented the doughnut?

Fortunately for the rest of us, cow feet (and horns) are not now and (hopefully) never were used to stamp doughnut holes. But the story that a cow invented the doughnut is apparently a real tale, and not just something the writers of the Murdoch Mysteries made up.

According to the Geva Journal, the story goes that at some point in early American colonial history, a cow knocked over a pail of burning oil onto pastry mix, accidentally creating fried cake. The fried cake was so good, the colonials kept the recipe for themselves and refused to share it with the folks back home.

The legend sounds a lot like the one about how Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started the Great Chicago Fire, and is probably just as false.

Doughnuts have been around nearly as long as there have been people available to fry them

According to Smithsonian Magazine, humans have eaten some form of the doughnut since prehistoric times. Doughnuts were pretty popular back then too, based on the number of fossilized doughnut bits that pop up in prehistoric Native American trash heaps.

“Middens, Mommyo. Not trash heaps.”

Who actually invented the doughnut is a bit of a mystery. Probably wasn’t a cow, though.

Lots of cultures appear to have had some version of the doughnut. Ancient Romans and Greeks ate fried dough coated in honey. Medieval Arab cooks drenched their fried dough in syrup. In Medieval Europe, German diners feasted on fritters stuffed with mushrooms and meat, while their Polish neighbors preferred paczki filled with jelly.

In a final blow to the Tale of the Colonial Cow Chef, the Dutch are actually credited with bringing the modern doughnut to New Amsterdam (present-day Manhattan) in the form of olykoeks (oily cakes). Olykoeks were basically deep fried balls of dough. Because the center of the dough didn’t always cook properly, the Dutch often replaced it with raisins or dried citrus soaked in brandy or simply cut the center out entirely.

In American literature, the olykoek, or more accurately, its descendant the doughty doughnut, has been immortalized in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which takes place in the 1790 Dutch settlement, Tarry Town, New York. Those who wish to taste Washington Irving’s famed doughty doughnuts for themselves can find a recipe for them at the blog In Literature.

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What’s The Ten-Year-Old reading this week?

Framed! by James Ponti

What the book’s about: Twelve-year-old Florian Bates has developed a system for using small things to solve life’s little problems. His Theory of All Small Things is extremely effective for figuring out where to get the best egg rolls and finding the best seat on the first day of school, but can Florian also use it to bring a ring of notorious art thieves to justice?

What The Ten-Year-Old learned from reading this book: “It’s really funny and a little crazy. It’s about a 12-year-old FBI cop who uses TOAST to solve crimes. TOAST is a Theory of All Small Things. Small things tie in to form a big picture and you can use the details to solve the big picture. I’ve started using TOAST myself. I figured out the lady at the dry cleaning place was married and I didn’t even ask her. Everyone can use TOAST to get a deeper understanding of the place that they are in.”

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The Ten-Year-Old Presents: The Best Books of Her Fourth Grade Year

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka

What the book’s about: Newly minted fifth-grader Michael K. has made a strange crop of friends. Bob and Jennifer speak almost entirely in advertising slogans. To make matters worse, they tell Michael that their mission in life is to convert exactly 3,140,001 kids to BE SPHDZ. If they don’t, Earth itself will be taken offline, taking all of our tasty TV and radio waves with it. What’s a kid to do?

Why The Ten-Year-Old picked it: “It’s really hilarious. There’s this kid who’s trying to deal with an alien invasion led by a hamster. They think he speaks hamsterese. The aliens are really confused and believe everything they see on ads. They can hoot like the Nickelodeon audience, say ‘I’m lovin’ it’ like McDonald’s, and imitate a pro wrestler.”

Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan

What the book’s about: Marley, a rambunctious little fluff of a Labrador retriever, is nearly as curious as a cat. His nose leads him into so much trouble he gets kicked out of obedience school. He eats too fast, chews too much, and howls during thunderstorms. Marley never really does learn how to behave properly, but his family loves him nonetheless.

This book is a trimmed down version of John Grogan’s Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog. It leaves out much of the detail about the family’s own life and focuses on Marley’s kid-friendly antics.

Why The Ten-Year-Old picked it: “It’s not like Spaceheadz. It’s non-fiction. But it kept my interest and I read it three times back-to-back. I liked that this dog survived several experiences that should have made him die, but he was still curious and inquisitive and tried to do everything. So now I want to be curious and inquisitive and try to do everything too. Also, the dog’s really cute. Did you know they made a movie about Marley, Mommyo?”

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