Bacteria are small.
Your average bacterium is a few micrometers long. That's between five and six orders of magnitude smaller than you. So, if humans were the size of bacteria, the planet Earth would be about the size of a large house or a small apartment building. It would orbit a couple of hundred kilometers away from the Sun, which would be the size of a small mountain.
If the Earth were the size of a bacterium... okay, have to think here, let's see. About twelve orders of magnitude? So the Sun would be a tiny glowing speck about the size of a grain of dust. The Solar System, out to the orbit of Neptune or so, would be about the size of a small room. The Milky Way Galaxy would be um, um, about 10 to the ninth power meters is about a million kilometers across -- about the size of the Sun.
Bringing it back a little: to a bacterium, you are a world. A small one, like a moon or something, but three-dimensionally full of holes and tunnels and such.
* * * * *
But while the boys liked the set, they were nonplussed a little, because they already had a P. Squiddy. Daddy, is he twins?
Well, he can't be twins because we already have the Skull Twins. So there has to be a backstory.
"The Squiddies are the result of illegal genetic experimentation, combining the DNA of humans, houseflies, and squids. They can change color like squids, and also squeeze through very small holes, because they don't have real skeletons. But they have bug eyes like flies --"
"Can they fly?"
"...no. But they can stick to things, like flies to. Also, if they're cornered and desperate --"
"They shoot ink! Like an octopus!"
"Hmm. [mentally runs through possible scenarios of small boys trying to simulate ink-shooting with their Lego figures.] No. But they do have acid vomit, like flies."
"And while they don't have great powers, they make up for it by being really smart and really sneaky. Now, they were all grown in vats. And the vats had letters -- A, B, C, D. So to tell them apart, each one took the letter of his vat. So, the first one, the one who's been flying around with the Skull twins, is P. Squiddy. And the one who is running the Pit Stop is D. Squiddy."
"D like... David!"
"Sure. And because the Squiddies are kind of gross and yucky, nobody likes them. So they turn to crime."
And balance is restored.
* * * * *
Claudia wasn't sure her baking soda was still good. (Apparently, given enough time -- a year or two -- baking soda can lose its zip.) You test this by mixing it with vinegar and checking for fizz.
Super simple science trick: teaspoon of baking soda in a glass, dollop of vinegar. Fizz, sure. But now try this: light a match and lower it into the glass. Partway down it will snuff out. The reaction produces carbon dioxide, which is denser than air, and takes a while to mix with air.
This is pretty simple, but apparently if you're seven years old and not expecting it it's cool as hell.
* * * * *
For some reason I'm reading some histories of the American West this week. Blood and Thunder is about Kit Carson and the Navajo, and it's several sorts of good -- the "learn something new" good, the "turn the pages" good, and the "now I want to know more" good. Recommended.
Also been dipping into some Texas history, where I ran across the interesting character of James W. Throckmorton. I sometimes call myself a Burkean conservative, which is as much an expression of aesthetics (or, some would say, an affectation) than anything like a political philosophy. But Throckmorton was, I would say, a Burkean through and through. He was a well-to-do Texas Whig who:
- opposed radicalism and secession in the years leading up to the Civil War (yay!)
- was one of a handful to vote against secession at the state convention in 1861 (double yay!)
- advised Sam Houston against armed resistance to secession, since it would start a war within the state that outnumbered Unionists would surely lose (well... okay)
- then joined the Confederate Army and fought through the first half of the war (boo)
- then became Confederate Commissioner to the Indians, where he dealt with the Indians honestly and, by the standards of the time, decently and fairly (okay)
- then, after the war, counseled reconciliation and opposed the diehards (yay!)
- became Governor of Texas, where he tried to re-establish peace and good credit and get the state on its feet again (yay!)
- but fiercely opposed civil rights for blacks (boo, hiss!)
- because he thought neither blacks nor whites were ready for it (no, still boo)
- and so got fired from being Governor
- and then after Reconstruction ended up in Congress, where he was a strong supporter of education (yay) and federal money for railroads (um... yay?) because he was a railroad attorney himself (boo).
Throckmorton's checkered career makes perfect sense to me; he was a little-c conservative living through revolutionary times. There's much to mock there. On the other hand, being one of eight delegates to vote "no" to secession was something to be proud of, as was the sensible, low-key but firm dedication to peace and progress. He hated all sorts of radicalism: secessionists, fire-eaters, abolitionists, Radical Republicans. The problem, of course, was that on some issues -- slavery, civil rights -- the radicals were right. And even when he was right himself, as on secession, it was not because of strong moral beliefs, nor loyalty to the Union either. It was because he correctly saw that secession was a damn stupid idea that would probably lead to disaster.
Throckmorton interests me, and makes me uneasy, because I feel a pang of familiarity.
* * * * *
Went sledding today. Leah's first time. She was neither afraid nor particularly interested.
Afterwards we went to the grandparents'. Leah took her afternoon nap there, in the crib in the upstairs playroom. I lay down on the couch beside her and dozed for perhaps an hour. Then woke up and just lay there for maybe half an hour, listening to her breathe. Claudia finds the breathing of a sleeping child a little distracting. For me it's really, really peaceful.
As often happens, Jacob demanded to stay behind and sleep overnight. Jacob loves staying with Oma. Loves it! Instead of being the neglected third child, he's the only kid in the house. And this, too, is familiar.
And so to bed.