Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

"I met her in my quantum physics class. Isn't she great? Hold all my calls." - Bud, Married, with Children


Bat Pugsley. On Halloween if you were wondering if Bruce Wayne could have perhaps hit the gym a little harder and hit the Oreos® a bit less hard, then you might have seen the elusive Pugsley. He doesn’t talk much, but it turns out after decoding that melodic grunting of vowel-sounds that passes for his speech that he wanted to be Bat Dog, rather than Batman™. “Woof, woof.”

“What’s the Oort Cloud, Dad?”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting forever for The Boy to ask me that. Technically I wasn’t expecting the question much before he was six, but getting it from him when he’s eight is close enough.

“Well, The Boy, the Oort Cloud is a batch of matter out far beyond the farthest planet (Neptune, if you’re a punk or, if you’re old school, Pluto).” My nerdy-heart pitter-pattered.

“What’s it made of?” Oh, additional nerdy goodness!

“Ice, some rocks, maybe. Long period comets probably originate there.”

After a few more minutes of discussion on things astronomical, the conversation drifted off into more mundane matters, like, “Oww, owww, owww! Pugsley’s pulling my hair!” Although this isn’t really a conversation, I think you get my drift. He’s still eight.

I am willing to admit it. I’m a nerd. The Boy wants to build a radio incorporating homemade capacitors and inductors? I’m in. (Note: I read on the Internet how enterprising prisoners of war built these radios out of speakers from a tank driver’s headset, some wire, and a rusty razor blade and a bit of pencil graphite to create a point-contact diode. Apparently these radios were good enough that they could hear aliens thinking on one of Jupiter’s moons. Obviously they had more than an evening to work on this and no women or beer to distract them.)

Build a second radio because the first one only picked up a very slight noise? Also in. Build a third because the second one only allowed us to hear the a tiny amount of incomprehensible noise and what might have been Mariachi music? Well, not yet. But probably some day.

This isn’t an isolated event: The other night The Mrs. was off in the other room writing (or, perhaps, just hiding from us smelly men), and The Boy was burned out on television. I’m pretty sure that The Mrs. would extract my spinal column if I showed him the Bleu-Wray® version of Predator that I wanted to watch, so we started, ugh, talking. (Side note: I’m pretty sure that the Predator never picked on Moms for a reason. Too scary. Plus a typical Mom would make him feel all guilty before she killed him, and then dusted his skull and put it on the mantle.)

We started having a conversation on astrophysics. I happened to have a textbook on Cosmology in the bookshelf (not the “look pretty” Cosmetology kind, but the “how did the Universe start” Cosmology kind). I drug the thing down, blew the copious amounts of dust off of it, and, after coughing a bit, started to explain some of the topics in the book. Since I had actually gotten the book from a “Science Book of the Month Club” I hadn’t spent a lot of time tearing through it. It was mainly for, er, reference? Heck, I’ve never even opened the darn thing. I’d have to be “lone nut in a cabin in Montana and completely out of trees to cut down” bored before I started to do homework for a class I wasn’t even taking. It was very physics-textbooky, which is to say, there was very little that would interest a physics student, let alone an eight year old. Instead we talked a bit about how a star evolves (first, you’re a waiter, then you get a walk-on part in 90210, then you do a series of hit movies, and then you enter rehab, then, if you’re lucky, you direct) and which stars explode in glorious super-nova fashion (Robert Downey, Jr.).

Actually, we talked about the ultimate fate of the Sun, and how one day, billions of years from now, it would swell up and eventually swallow Earth because in the core of the Sun it would be fusing heavier elements than hydrogen and would create correspondingly greater pressure. He seemed a bit upset that the Earth only had billions of years left in the way that only an eight-year-old can – I could see the gears in his noggin working and attempting to figure out a way to save the planet.

Perhaps he will figure out a way to save Earth, and develop a clean, safe energy source to power our civilization for millennia. Perhaps they will build statues of him.

Perhaps. Or perhaps not. I tend to think he’ll start dating instead.
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