Pirate2WE SHOULD HAVE SUSPECTED SOMETHING WOULD GO WRONG WHEN THE COMPANY HIRED CAPTAIN SALMONELLASWORD TO BE ITS SPOKESPIRATE

Stop the birthday party! Robert's American Gourmet has issued a massive recall of Veggie Booty, after it was determined that some batches could carry salmonella:

. . . it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. . . . Robert's American Gourmet has been notified by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 51 cases of Salmonella across 17 states, associated or related to the consumption of the Veggie Booty, predominately in children of three years of age or younger. Based on the information provided by the CDC and FDA Robert's American Gourmet has decided to conduct this recall as a precautionary measure, even though there are no confirmed positive results in the finished product yet.

PLEASE JOIN US IN WELCOMING EDUCATION.COM TO THE WORLD WIDE WEB

According to cbsnews.com:

Hey, A new website launched Wednesday – with advertising and a big boost from venture capital - is designed to provide a bit of help and support. Education.com is an editorial site with over 4,000 reference articles about raising kids, along with online communities in which parents can interact with each other, and with education experts.

The article continues:

File_916There is also a magazine section with advice columns from a child psychologist, a physical activities expert, and a "dad with three young kids" who also happens to be a former editor at Teen People and other publications.

Hey, that Dad with three young kids sounds kind of intriguing. And that sure is a nice picture. Why don't we all hop over to the startup, take a look at this new column, and maybe post a comment or two?

THIS JUST IN: “MIFFY AND FRIENDS” FOUND TOO INSIPID FOR COMMERCIAL TV

From a press release received at FD headquarters this afternoon:

MiffyMiffy and Friends, the popular preschool property, will debut on public television stations around the country beginning July 7, led by the series’ distributor, WLIW New York Public Television. The stop-motion animated series featuring the iconic bunny will air on WLIW21 in the New York metropolitan area Saturdays and Sundays at 8 am . . . Based on the children’s classic book series by Dutch author-illustrator Dick Bruna, Miffy and Friends explores the everyday lessons and discoveries of a preschooler. . . The premiere episode. . . will feature: Miffy’s Musical Day – Miffy learns to play the recorder.

AMUSEMENT PARK KILL-AND-MAIM WATCH, 2007

In a stunning upset, the season's first major theme-park maiming did not take place on a Disney-owned property:

A 13-year-old girl whose feet were severed in an accident on an amusement park ride is in stable condition in a Nashville, Tenn., hospital, her family said in a written statement Tuesday. . . . [the girl] was riding the Superman Tower of Power ride Thursday at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville when a cable broke loose on the ride, cutting off the girl's feet above the ankles. Bill Clary, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which inspects amusement park rides, said Tuesday the incident remains under investigation.

BEST. FIELD TRIP. EVER.

LogoThe other day we accompanied Fellow's first-grade pals on a field trip to New York City's Pennsylvania Hotel, where the kids spent the morning painting oversize flower decals that will soon take their place on some of the city's 13,000 taxi cabs, all of which are taking part in the public art project, "Garden in Transit." From Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, the hand-painted flowers will grace the roofs and hoods of every standard-size cab in town.

We had such a great time painting the flowers that we think you should try it, too. Visit the Portraits of Hope site here to find out when you and your kids can come down to the hotel for an "open painting" session. Painting ends July 21.

(Yes, the kids get to sign their paintings, though one wonders if this will lead to a string of taxi accidents this fall as six-year-olds run into the street to try to see their names on cabs. . .)

IT'S A SHAME: YOU NEED A LICENSE TO DRIVE A CAR, BUT ANY MORON CAN NAME A CHILD

The Wall Street Journal's incredible article on the booming baby-naming industry continues to bounce around the Web and invite ridicule on, well, all the parents involved. Here's a sample from the source:

Denise McCombie, 37, a California mother of two who's expecting a daughter this fall, spent $475 to have a numerologist test her favorite name, Leah Marie, to see if it had positive associations. (It did.)      
            * [Ed. note: Was that confirmed before or after the check cleared?]

. . . . "We live in a marketing-oriented society," says Bruce Lansky, a former advertising executive and author of eight books on baby names, including "100,000 + Baby Names." "People who understand branding know that when you pick the right name, you're giving your child a head start."

. . . . Madeline Dziallo, 36, a beautician and mother of two in LaGrange, Ill., turned to a consultant when naming both of her children, Ross, 3, and Natalie, eight months. That consultant . . . charges up to $350 for a package including three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing the name's history, linguistic origins and personality traits. "She was an objective person for me to obsess about it with rather than driving my husband crazy," says Mrs. Dziallo.

. . . . Lisa and Jon Stone of Lynnwood, Wash., turned to a name consultant because they didn't want their son to be "one of five Ashtons in the class," says Mrs. Stone, 36, a graphic designer. For Mr. Stone, 37 . . . the challenge was to find a "cool" name that would help his son stand out. "An unusual name gets people's attention when you're searching for a job or you're one in a field of many," he says.
            * [Ed. note: Our last five presidents: George, Bill, George, Ronald, Jimmy]

As one of the founders of Catchword, a corporate naming firm with offices in New York and Oakland, Calif., Burt Alper says he and his wife, Jennifer, who also works in marketing, felt "tons of pressure" to come up with something grabby. . . . They chose Beckett for their six-month-old son . . . "That C-K sound is very well regarded in corporate circles," Mr. Alper says, giving Kodak and Coca-Cola as examples.
            * [Ed. note: The C-K sound appears in the names of precisely two of the top 50 Fortune 500 American companies.]

Good lord, ridiculing these people is like shooting fish in a barrel for a blogger. Isn't there an eminence gris out there who can really make these people feel bad about themselves?:

Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA . . . . found that more common names elicited positive reactions, while unusual names typically brought negative responses. To him, giving children names that stand out may ultimately be no different than sending them to school with their hair dyed blue. "Yes, you can have someone stand out by being bizarre, but that doesn't mean it's going to be good," he says.

For the sake of full disclosure, we feel obligated at this point to disclose the names of our own children, otherwise referred to on the site as Small Fellow, Tiny Girl, and Little Guy. Their actual names: Batshit, Mussy, and Squirtle. And we didn't give a naming consultant a penny!

WELL, FELLOW WAS REALLY PROUD OF US WHEN WE WROTE THAT BASEBALL BOOK, BUT TO BE HONEST, WE'D HAVE TO CONCEDE THAT THIS GUY HAS PULLED AHEAD OF US IN THE RACE FOR FATHER OF THE YEAR

A 300-pound black bear raided a family's campsite, and the father saved his sons from harm by throwing a log at the beast, killing it with a single blow.

THE FREELANCEDAD.COM MUST-READ ARTICLE OF THE WEEK (ESPECIALLY FOR PARENTS AT TINY GIRL'S SCHOOL)

More kudos from FD to the Wall Street Journal for the harrowing Page One article by the estimable John Hechinger on the downside of "mainstreaming," and the possible reality that except in the most ideal of circumstances, the insertion of special-ed students into mainstream classes may inevitably be doomed to fail, and not only for the students involved (both special-ed and mainstream) but for the teachers, who, if the article is to be believed, race to get out of the field altogether after a year or two fronting mainstreamed classrooms:

In Scranton and elsewhere, the rush to mainstream disabled students is alienating teachers and driving some of the best from the profession. It has become a little-noticed but key factor behind teacher turnover, which experts say largely accounts for a shortage of qualified teachers in the U.S. Each year, about 16% of teachers quit their jobs, either leaving the profession or moving to another school, according to recent U.S. Department of Education surveys. Of those, 35% cite difficulties with mainstreaming special-education students as a main reason for their dissatisfaction, according to an analysis of the data by Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. "It's a red flag," Prof. Ingersoll says. "Mainstreaming is putting pressure on teachers... and the proponents of this reform are going to need to address it sooner or later."

Did we mention that Tiny Girl's school, Big City Elementary, is introducing mainstreaming next year, in up to 40% of its classrooms? Those are tough odds. . .

EXHIBIT REVIEW: "GODS, MYTHS AND MORTALS" AT THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN

TrojanhorseiconHuzzah to CMOM for putting together a show that truly caters to, and challenges, visitors over six. We took Fellow and Tiny to the museum recently to check it out and while some aspects were tough for Tiny to comprehend, the show was perfect for Fellow, who had read a children's version of the Iliad with us earlier this year and loved it, especially the story of the Trojan Horse. Along with several exhibits on life in ancient Greece, the centerpiece of the show is a series of activity centers that take kids through the Iliad and the Odyssey. At each station, kids can interact with a computer and decide what they'd do if they were Odysseus facing the Sirens, or Scylla and Charibdis. Like every other interactive computer exhibit we've ever seen in a children's museum, the stations were flawed, but it's the ambitious thought that counts: At the end of the exhibit, a kid can emerge with a pretty decent understanding of the Odyssey, and that's not nothing.

[PS: Don't think four-year-olds won't get anything from the show. In school the next day, Tiny executed a quite sharp drawing of the Trojan Horse and told the story to her teacher.]

While you're up, we feel obligated to mention that the Children's Museum recently repurposed its second-floor preschool space, now that it's sponsored by Nickelodeon property Dora the Explorer. The space has all of the same engaging, well-thought-out, interactive stations it had before. It's just that now all of them have Dora's picture on them. And while we don't begrudge the museum bringing in revenue as best they can, the change does get a thumbs-down from us.

EXHIBIT REVIEW: "THE GLORY DAYS" AT THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

FD brought Fellow, and his press credentials, to the opening night celebration of the Museum of the City of New York's new exhibit, "The Glory Days," focusing on major-league baseball in the city from 1947-57, when local teams won 9 of 11 World Series, participated in 10 of 11 World Series, and competed against each other in 7 of 11 World Series.

We found the show to be, well, a little small. OK, too small. There are bats, balls, and uniforms from the great players of the period, along with baseball cards, scorecards, and actual seats from the city's old ballparks, and we concede that if the show had been about, say, the Red Sox, we might have found the artifacts to be more magical, but for a show that should be focused on creating intergenerational back-and-forth, we might have liked to have seen more contextual statistics and team records from the period, more comparisons with baseball today, and frankly a more favorable layout than the museum's curators have produced. Still, the show's a ground-rule double for anyone who wants to introduce their little Yankee or Met fan to the city's baseball history, though the experience might be enhanced with a book like this one, or, Hell, even this one.

200x200_570164SADLY, FIRST-CLASS POSTAGE STILL CAN'T TRAVEL IN HYPERSPACE. IT WILL TAKE YOUR LETTER 12 DAYS TO MAKE THE KESSEL RUN

Fellow just got his first sheet of Star Wars postage stamps, and we have to confess, they're quite spiffy. And they're available at your Post Office now.

June 29, 2007 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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