Posted by: Hannah | 07/05/2012

things on my mind

The media is all afire this week about the “God particle”. Which is both hilarious and annoying. Hilarious because listening to journalists – who studied journalism & English & other non-particle-physics things, mostly – are now essentially being forced to a) understand and b) synthesize for a layman audience high-level particle physics and quantum mechanics. And it’s cracking my shit up. However, it’s also annoying, because the thing is not called the God particle by actual scientists. It’s called the “Higgs boson” and is named for the genius who first postulated its existence, University of Edinburgh physicist Peter Higgs.

As an agnostic married to an atheist, this is bothersome. The Higgs boson has nothing to do with proving the existence of God or any other creative force. I honestly feel like calling it the “God particle” does a disservice to the thousands of scientists around the world who spent two generations researching and experimenting this question. It feels very “this will generate page clicks! and ratings! SCIENTISTS IN WEIRD SWISS BUNKER DISCOVER GOD!!” to me.


A hot topic of conversation on the internets lately is whether or not people should take their young children to see “Brave”. Now, I personally really want to see it – but my kids have zero interest. Less than zero, even. The trailers don’t thrill them, none of their friends have seen it… it’s just not part of their particular wee zeitgeist right now. “Madagascar 3”, on the other hand, they are BEGGING for. And I just can’t. I can’t! I’ve seen that stupid clip with the Chris Rock zebra singing “afro circus” over and over again, and heard them singing it approximately 60 squillion times, and I just refuse to endorse any movie that gives young kids a reason to be repetitive and annoying.

I think a lot of the hand-wringing over “Brave” might be a bit misplaced. Pixar doesn’t make kids’ movies, I’d argue. I mean, sometimes they do – I’m looking at you, Lightning MacQueen, you merchandising juggernaut bastard – but “Wall-E”, “Up”, and “The Incredibles” speak more to adults than kids, once you get past the pretty colours. I think it just shows how desperate parents are for enjoyable family entertainment that we’ll all drop $50 to go see a movie with our kids when we don’t know much about it. We learned that lesson when we took the boys to see “Rango” last year; Ron was in hysterics five minutes in, Harry five minutes after that, and we left so early that the movie theatre actually refunded our tickets because we didn’t get to see anything. We actually went back another night, just the two of us, and we loved it – but it is not a children’s movie. It’s a movie that happens to be animated. It’s a valid form of expression although I think studios need to do a better job of choosing their audience and then marketing to it. From everything I’ve heard, “Brave” would be a good one for pre-teen daughters to see with their parents – and that’s a big demographic, too. Let those of us with younger kids see “Ice Age: Continental Drift”.


I’ve mentioned on Twitter a time or two that I’m spending a portion of every day this summer working with Harry, letting him explore topics that interest him at his own pace and reading level while I supervise and ask questions to make sure he is actually comprehending what he reads. We’re also tackling some new skills for him, too. So far he’s requested Greek mythology, human organs, math (especially multiplication), cooking, dinosaurs, and astronomy. This week he’s read the myths of Pandora’s box, Persephone’s capture by Hades, and the story of Hercules’ twelve labours. He also made a crab and mushroom quiche and is teaching Ron to play Junior Monopoly.

I’ve had people ask me how I’m approaching it, and so far I’m just pointing him in the general direction of things he’s interested in and then just getting out of his way. Yesterday I found an interactive quiz on the Percy Jackson series; since he’s read them a bunch of times I thought it would be interesting to see how much he’s retained or understood. He aced the quiz and now we’re planning a trip to the library for more books. :p


Michael’s 20 year high school reunion is in a month’s time, and I’m already horribly nervous about it. Although I think I hide it pretty well, I’m very anxious in social situations, particularly when surrounded by a bunch of high-functioning overachievers who’ve known my husband longer than I have. It manifests itself as laughing too loud, telling inappropriate stories, and eventually hiding in a corner nursing a drink and waiting to go home. So, there’s that.


How about you guys? What’s new with you?




  1. WordPress made me login & lost my comment. Gah. Anyway, again:

    …merchandising juggernaut bastard. Is about my most favourite thing anyone has ever said ever. Love it. And so true. 🙂

    • Yes Emma, with three boys of your own, I’m sure a substantial percentage of your money has gone toward every. single. thing. with that stupid car on them. My personal low point – the Lightning MacQueen potty chair.

      Michael, if that’s true about the god-damned particle, that is AWESOME with a capital everything.

  2. Thought #1 – The Scientist (whose editor decided to call it the God particle) originally wanted to call it the “God-dammed Particle” because it was so God-dammed hard to find.

    Thought #4 – Please don’t be nervous, I like it when you tell inappropriate stories. Keeps me grounded. 🙂
    Oh and PS since I have know many of them since they were also 5 years old, I can assure you that they aren’t all ‘High Functioning’ LOL

  3. I read the same thing about the God(-damned) particle and now everytime I read somethnig that calls in the God particle, a little voice in my head mutters ”damned” right after God. It makes this non-believer chuckle :p

    I think what you’re doing with Harry is awesome. I wish we had been encouraged to do things like that when I was a kid. Curiosity was encouraged and we did a lot of exploring at the cottage, but I think adding a bit of structure to it (checking for comprehension, etc.) would have been a good thing for me.

  4. We are trying to do similar things with our kids over the summer. We didn’t do anything educational over breaks growing up, and it showed!! I have not heard anything about the god particle because all the news here is about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, which is, of course, so much more important…blech. I feel your pain for the 20 year reunion. I try to practice nodding and smiling before these things. At one of my husband’s work parties, I was so nervous I kept throwing back wine, wound up getting shit faced and telling everyone my husband was “great in the sack” so yup, feel your pain…

    • Kate: oh, I just burst into gales of horrified laughter, because that is *so* something that would happen to me!… the Higgs boson story is big on CBC, although right behind it is the latest weirdness about Tom & Katie.

  5. My 20 year reunion is next year! I’m actually looking forward to it, although most of my graduating class is on FB, so really, no surprises there. I have found that, after meeting up with people I lost touch with, that I remembered there was a REASON we lost touch…but FB is nice to keep in “touch” without actually keeping in touch, know what I mean?

    My husband’s THIRTY year reunion is coming up! That should be…fun? I don’t know. The benefit of such an age difference is that I will definitely be the young one in that crowd, so no one will mind if I get staggeringly drunk…

    • Yup, your husband’s classmates will all shake their heads indulgently at your wacky drunken antics and say “these kids today, what has the world come to?” And then they’ll talk about how awesome it is that they qualify for Grey Power Insurance now.

  6. I love the idea of what you’re doing with H, and would like to do something similar with AJ when summer comes around (heck, even over the shorter school breaks) but find myself somewhat boggled at the thought of where to start or how to do it. So, I am super impressed.

  7. I cant think of any reason to not take a kid to see Brave. It’s not violent, or sexist or upsetting. It made me weep in the end, but that’s because the whole mother-child thing is always a tear jerker for me.

    Your boys would probably be bored, though. Although there’s bears.

    It makes me sad that a movie about a scottish princess doesn’t immediately excite the boy community. No wonder Pixar usually has male characters. Only 50% of their audience want to see a chick flick.

    • Carol: A lot of otherwise fearless children are completely overwhelmed by movies on the big screen. Bears are scary. A lot of people I know who’ve seen it reported many crying preschoolers and young ones. It’s not a comment on the themes; it’s simply that Scary Images Are Scary, and if you have kids likely to be terrified by it, you don’t chance the ticket price – wait for the DVD.

      • Fair enough. I remember thinking that the Angler fish in Finding Nemo was downright terrifying. The bears in Brave didn’t strike me as much, by comparison, but who knows what a tot will find scary?

        • We took H. to see “Horton Hears a Who” when he was 20 months old and he climbed Michael like a tree during the opening credits. And that’s about the least threatening movie ever. But then both the boys saw How to Train Your Dragon twice, and R. had just turned two – and I’d have thought that one would be very scary. You really can’t ever tell, which is why I’m pretty sure carrying a sobbing child out of a theatre is a parental right of passage.

  8. “I just refuse to endorse any movie that gives young kids a reason to be repetitive and annoying.” This made me laugh out loud, so Emma wanted to know why, so I read it to her, she laughed, and then texted it to her older sister, who laughed. You’re spreading joy throughout my whole family today, Hannah.

  9. Remember Monstro from Pinoccio? Talk about terrifying.

  10. So true that you never have a clue what will scare them. I was always wrong. Angus had the bejesus scared out of him when the diver in the big helmet popped up and snatched Nemo (we had to leave the theatre), but fairly soon after the whole Spiderman movie, with the Green Goblin vaporizing people into collapsing skeletons? Not an eyelash flicker. I’d see Madagascar 3 though.

  11. The only movie that scares my kids is Nanny MacPhee. And I didn’t even know there was another Madagascar movie!?

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