February 5, 2014 | Volume 8, Issue 2

Smartphone apps, social networking sites can be dangerous for kids; parents need to know the dangers, including bullying

Dear Readers: This column is one I wrote 5 years ago. Recently, I was asked to re-release it. Enjoy.

My husband is part genius, and part closet redneck. He’s a cross between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Larry the Cable Guy. Sometimes it’s difficult for him to keep the two sides going in the same direction at the same time. Life is never boring around our house.

He’s always got a project going, too. Like any redneck worth his salt, he’d like to buy an old car and “trick it out”. But his Bill Nye side kicks in at the oddest moments. His idea of tricking out a car means putting solar panels on the roof and figuring out how to make it fly.

Last weekend, while I was away, he decided that the kids should have a tire swing in the back yard. It was apparently also a good day to use his chainsaw. The redneck in him took out his chainsaw, found a branch about a hundred feet in the air, and gleefully cut down every tree that stood under that branch. One of them was the only flowering tree on our lot, which, of course, I will never forgive him for.

Only after he had cut down those trees did the Bill Nye side kick in and he realized that he had no way to get a rope up that high and tie it to the tree. He was envisioning a Tarzan vine, I guess. The Bill Nye side was saying, “The longer the rope, the farther the kids can swing.” But the redneck side just wanted to cut down some trees.

When I arrived home and saw the carnage, I was… less than pleased. I understood that he was doing a kindness for his children, but I also recognized his need for an excuse to use his chainsaw.

Before we even had a chance to buy the rope, he showed me another project he’d been working on in his shop. It was, of course, part genius, part redneck. Made of 5 feet of PVC drainage pipe, a door handle, and an electronic switch, he had made a potato cannon.

Being neither a genius nor a redneck, I looked at him blankly and asked, “What’s it for?”

“Well, it’s for shooting potatoes, of course.”

Now, I wasn’t so dense that I didn’t realize that a potato cannon would, in all likelihood, turn a potato into a projectile. My question was meant to determine what need we would have for a flying potato.

As I watched, he held the giant drainage pipe on his shoulder like a bazooka, sprayed hair spray into the cylinder, closed it, and pushed the switch. It made a boom like you’d hear in a Fourth of July fireworks display, only louder since we were standing right next to it.

I saw the potato come flying out of the end followed by a two foot column of flames. It raced over the tops of the trees and was gone from sight.

Somewhere in the next county, it was raining potatoes…clearly an unusual event.

My husband stood there with his mouth open and slowly lowered his ballistic potato gizmo. I stared at him, dumbfounded.

Bill Nye said, “Whoa! I didn’t think it would work that well.” I just stood there, too stunned to speak.

“But”, the redneck exclaimed brightly, “I think I may have found a way to get a rope up that tree after all!”

Reader Comments