Sinister Gives Life

Last week, Sinister did all the prep work for his terrarium: Cleaning; and Foundation Layers.

Now it is time to bring life to his project!

  
Not all of these plants are going in – and especially not all of the Maidenhair Fern! Sinister is also doing a smaller ‘back-up terrarium’ in a 3L OJ bottle with one or two of these plants. 

The plants that made the cut-off for the demijohn are:

  • Maidenhair Fern
  • Peperomia Peppermill
  • Ficus Benjamina Var

The Parlour Palm almost made it but he was concerned about space.

This is important – you do not want to crowd your terrarium. You need to create a balance of life-cycle with moisture, light, and air-flow. Too many plants and you start to lose light and moisture while creating the wrong balance in air-flow.

If you’re observant (and all aspiring Evil Genius should be), you have noticed the Maidenhair Fern … And how big it is. 

Good news is: ferns are fairly easy to break up. Sinister found a “how-to” video on Martha Stewart’s website. Seriously. Despite her jail time, she is pretty close to EG-material.

Divide and Conquer:

Any plant you put in has to fit through the opening. 

Maidenhair Fern can be divided fairly easily with a knife. Find the nodes on the plant (cluster points for the roots) and cut around them.

  
Once you have loosened up the roots drop it in to the terrarium on the end of a stick, if you can balance it. 

When putting the foundation layers in, Sinister used a tube to direct the flow. That probably would have worked here too. 
 
  Once in the vessel, move the plant gently with a long stick. When you have it in place, gently push the plant into the soil with the stick.

Each plant needs to have space away from the others (just like any sibling relationship). Sinister used some long-ish tweezers to “direct” his drop. His aim was pretty good. 

  
The last step was to add a little top up soil for the plants, and a few table-spoons of water.  Enough to moisten the soil but don’t saturate it. The condensation cycle should start within a day or two, and that should start producing enough moisture for your plants.

  
And that, my dear minions, is Sinister’s Self-Sustained Terrarium.

He is now in ‘Observation/Maintenance Mode’; Checking it every day and noting down any changes or maintenance required. This project is due for submission at the end of March so we’ll keep you updated then.
UPDATE: Sinister received 94% for the entire project, with special mention and a Merit Award for his terrarium. The teacher was most impressed with his detailed report on all of the steps preparing and building the mini-ecosystem. There’s the secret, minions: write EVERYTHING down. 

UPDATE: 12 months later – and the terrarium is still going strong. One of the plants has brown leaves but is not dead. Condensation is still cycling inside and it looks strong and healthy. Man, he really knows how to do a science project! 

 

Open Letter to the Self-Entitled Mum at the Pool

Dear Swimming Mum,

You self-entitled git.

Usually, I care not about other parents at the pool. You brought your little spawnling to the pool. You are essentially teaching them to swim AND spending time with them** so I don’t usually complain about that front.

But when you interfere with others trying to achieve the same thing, then I become irate.

Our swim centre / pool is like many other pools around the country. We have a lap pool; we have a ‘leisure pool’ with a big section used for swimming lessons (3yo and up); and we have a hydrotherapy pool for baby and toddler lessons, as well as therapy for rehab patients in the area. A nice heated bonus really.

Now, swimming lessons are offered and we pay for them. They are available to everyone who pays for enrolment.

That means, Self-Entitled Mum if you are not enrolled then you are not allowed in the class.

You are welcome to go to the front desk and enrol. But until that point, get out of the class.

That’s right – the teacher has asked you to leave the clearly signed class area.

And then, the pool lifeguard has asked you to leave the class area.

And one of the parents has asked you to leave the class area because you are interfering with the kids who HAVE paid and enroled.

But you think you are entitled to be there. You even think you are entitled to take toys from the swimming lesson area. Once again, you are invited to enrol in the lesson. Until then, stop interfering with those who have enroled.

I am so sick of parents who think the rules don’t apply to their special and unique snowflakes. If you need a special consideration then apply for one. You are not automatically entitled to help yourself to whatever the hell you want because you don’t want to wait.  Especially when it’s a want, not a need.

It’s not just swimming pools:

  • No – you’re child can’t jump the line because they want a pink balloon before they run out;
  • No – you’re child cannot be excused from the homework because you don’t want to read the book with them at night;
  • No – your child cannot have the clarinet instead of the flute in the school band; not only did your child complain about the reed in the try-outs but we do not have enough clarinets to go around. No, you are not entitled to jump the queue ahead of other students because he is a boy. WTH is wrong with a boy playing the flute?!?

So – Self-Entitled Mum. We all know you want something. You want the best for your spawnling. We all want the best for all spawnlings; well maybe not my spawnlings who will rule yours. But generally, we all want the same thing.

Here is your opportunity to teach them about working towards goals. If you want something, you most likely have to do something yourself first; in this case, enrol in the class first. Then wait for your pretty little turn.

Sincerely,

Evil Genius Mum

 

** PS> Bonus Note for the Mum Who Abandoned Their Child With Me

You’re not entitled to anything either. Just because Zaltu started a conversation with your 5yo does not mean you can walk away and assume I will take care of him for you. This is not communal living where the ‘village’ does your job for you. I am not Your Village.

And when he follows us 5m to the slide to continue the conversation, sure I will keep an eye on him so he doesn’t drown but I am not responsible for him. Which means you are not entitled to come back and yell at me for moving away from our original spot. You are not entitled to dump your responsibility on any adult-looking person in your vicinity. At least, introduce yourself and ask first!!
Minions: here are two examples of what is NOT Evil Genius Parenting.

Preparing Your Own EG World

If you really want to create your own world to conquer and command, you need to do some prep work.

For those tuning in for the first time (slackers): Sinister has chosen to build his own self-sustaining terrarium for a science project. He has already researched what he needs and the environment he needs to create; we bought a demijohn (glass jar) and he has cleaned it up.

Today, he is preparing the foundation for the plants.

The first thing he realised was how narrow the opening was. No matter what he puts in there, he needs to be careful putting it in. 

Sinister came up with the idea of a funnel and a conical style tube – like a long straw. By using the long tube, he could control how much of each substance would disperse at the bottom, limiting the mess at the bottom. 

It’s not just a matter of dumping some soil in the jar and hoping for the best. There are a number of elements to consider:

First layer: Gravel
  

Gravel allows drainage, preventing water from pooling in your soil and rotting the roots.

Second layer: Charcoal

Charcoal is great for cleaning out toxins, in the soil and the air. This helps prevent too many micro-organisms in your set-up. 

Third layer: Sand

  

Sand is, again, about drainage but it also gives some stability to the plants’ roots.

Fourth layer: Soil

The final and crucial layer, but don’t lay it on too thick. Keep it a little moist but not heavy in the plants.

There is a magical ratio for the layers, providing a good foundation while allowing plenty of air-flow with the condensation cycle.

One third of your terrarium should be made of materials which are not air.

 Sinister explained the importance of ‘air-space’: the air-flow ensures the plants have fresh nutrients both above and below the surface. It allows sunlight to come through, which is a nutrient, and encourages the condensation cycle to distribute evenly through the terrarium. Stagnant air chokes the plants and that is bad for everything. 

 
Ignore the ruler propaganda – it was the closest ruler he could find. The point here is to measure your environment and plan your layers accordingly. 

So now the foundation is in, Sinister just needs to figure out how to put the plants in. 

  
I reckon he is up for the challenge. 

One Marriage Right at a Time

Why, Mr Turnbull. You Valentine Troll. 😜

  
Isn’t love grand? Especially on St Valentine’s Day, when the heathens finally bring together the two great elements of the Goddess Aphrodite: Superficial Love and Spending Stupid Amounts of Money.

Of course, the Australian Prime Minister Mr Malcolm Turnbull is an old-fashioned romantic himself. He sweetly proclaimed his love for his wife on this most auspicious day for all love.

Because we all know how St Valentine, the patron saint for today, was for ALL love right?

You know the legend: St Val ignored the Roman Senate’s decree and married any couple who asked him to do the ceremony. He believed (and of course, I’m quoting verbatim because I have a TARDIS with DeLorean cloaking abilities):

Who the hell do they think they are telling someone who to love?!? 

Wait… What?

St Val wasn’t meant to be about gay marriage?

Oh yeah. My mistake – because the decree at the time was about Emperor Claudius not wanting young soldiers to marry as it was distracting in battle.

And this led to a drop in sales for celebrants, and also stopped the conversion of Christians away from the debauchery that attracted their coin instead.

So St Val WAS about using marriage for money and political interest!! See, that makes sense! That’s how the Aust PM was trolling everyone.

Because why the hell should he approve Equal Rights in Marriage if there isn’t some money or political gain first?

Like, you know, a huge extended market in weddings for ANY couple … Or how about the legal right to marry whoever the hell you want so long as it is consenting by both?!? I don’t care what you do in your home, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. I’m too busy trying to build up the energy to get busy myself.

Mr Turnbull, you really shouldn’t tease the Aust Public like that. Very happy for you and your wife; but if it’s not supposed to be a big deal for all relationships, why make it such a big deal for yours?

Sinister Cleans Up – DIY Terrarium

Sinister is starting off his school year by creating his own world to command and conquer.

I like this teacher already.

Sinister is in Year 5 OC (Opportunity Class – like a Gifted program in the public school system). In Science they are studying Space – Significant astronomers; Creation of the Golden Record; How to Survive in Alien Environments (biospheres).

As part of his assignment, Sinister has chosen to develop his own terrarium, focussing on the creation of a self-sustaining environment.

It’s a huge project but he is already noticing how to break it up into smaller scientific components.

For example: we bought a demijohn glass jar on eBay for $20 to house his terrarium (with cork plug). However, it needed a clean.

After a bit of research, Sinister came up with the following:

Hypothesis: That we can clean the demijohn with vinegar and uncooked rice; that the vinegar would wash and disinfect the jar without leaving a heavy chemical residue; that the rice would lightly scrub the jar without scratching.

Method:

  1. Pour about a litre of plain white vinegar into the large demijohn.  
  2. Add about a cup of uncooked rice  
  3. Put in the cork and shake it like a Polaroid picture… Well, make sure you use two hands; it’s heavy!!
  4. Empty out the vinegar and rice
  5. Rinse out with copious amounts of water.

Results:

  

Damn thing pretty much glistens. This mini-experiment produced the exact results he was looking for.
Next week: Sinister figures out how to fill and build the soil layers for his terrarium. That’s a tight neck there on the demijohn … But he has a plan!

Forensic Fridays: The Spawnlings Are Taking Over

I know, I know.

Forensic Fridays took a weeeeeee holiday of late.

However, they are starting up again. And mostly because of Sinister (now 9yo).

We have returned to school (in fact, we are Week 3, I think), and already the EG-spawnling has received a rather hefty assignment (more on his education at a later date).

A lot of his assignments have experiments or ‘project’ elements to them. For example, the first one he will share is to build his own terrarium based on the concept of a biosphere.

Sinister is not the only one in full-on project mode. Nefarious has his own obsession happening: He wants to build a Lego Empire State Building. We’re not talking some little bunch of bricks in the shape of the Empire State Building either.

We’re talking research the dimensions of the Empire State Building; calculate the ratio to a workable size with Lego; calculate the number of Lego pieces required; understand the structural support required with the size; etc, etc.

And yes. We will share that one too.

So Forensic Fridays are about to start up again, in a full intensive manner – as becoming of EG Inc.

I love my little spawnlings, but they keep me on my toes.

There are going to be some new sub-headings with the Forensic Fridays for the spawnlings to share. Starting with Sinister tomorrow.