Dear Jack: Your Dormant Volcano Finally Exploded!

8 years.

Dear Jack,

Two Christmases ago, one of the things Mommy and I got for  you was an exploding volcano set.

When you decided to pull it out of the closet this past weekend, I did not realize you’ve had it that long.

But you just never got around to taking it out of the box and using it.

So at last, you took some time to paint it and then mix the exploding powder from the packets.

You asked me to make a video of it exploding, as you and your sister touched the “hot” lava.

After two years of remaining dormant, the volcano finally exploded. And it was pretty cool!




Dear Jack: 2nd Grade is a Good Year for a Venus Fly Trap

7 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

I remember how exactly 30 years ago when I was in 2nd grade, I wanted and received a Venus Fly Trap. It’s the perfect science project/pet for a boy approaching his 8th birthday.

And the plant only cost us $5 at Kroger!

All last weekend, you enjoyed catching flies and small spiders to toss into the hungriest mouths of the Venus Fly Trap.

Something you taught me is that if any of the “heads” sets sick and turns brown, we can just got it off, and then a new one will grow back in its place!

That’s so fascinating. I had no idea.

I have my doubts about how long we’ll be able to keep the Venus Fly Trap alive, but for just 5 bucks, and with so much entertainment so far, I’d say this is been a great investment for a smart 2nd grade boy like yourself.



My Dad’s “Rat Burger” Story: A Rat Refused to Eat His McDonald’s Cheeseburger

Yesterday morning my dad, Jack Shell, posted an interesting little story on his Facebook page. I thought it was worth sharing here on my blog:

rat burger

“This is a McDonald’s cheeseburger I bought in November 2014. It has been in the original wrapper on a shelf in my office. The bread is hard and brittle but there is no mold, no smell, no deterioration. Rats and insects haven’t even touched it. I just killed a big rat in my office last week, too. I guess the rat didn’t recognize it to be food. Why should you? Remember this next time you are eating at McDonald’s.”

I suppose that my dad’s testimonial is not too shocking, considering most of us have already since Supersize Me at least once by now.

Apparently my dad decided to do a science experiment of his own. Even aside from the fact the rat didn’t find the cheeseburger and try to eat it, is the fact that nothing else in time between November 2014 and January 2016 tried to eat it either.

If nothing else, the meat itself should have attracted some kind of critter by the end of the week.

Plus, my dad mentioned nothing about a horrible smell that he, nor any other person that walked into his office, ever smelled for over a year. Because evidently, there was no horrible smell even though there should have been.

I think it’s impressive that McDonald’s is able to make a food product that A) is delicious to humans but B) is not attractive to insects or animals in the food chain whose job it is to take care of food lying around on the planet; while C) at the same time this same cheeseburger contains both meat and cheese but still does not smell horrible when left out for days, weeks, months, or even a year in just a room temperature building.

Should you have any doubt of the validity of my dad’s testimonial, it would be pretty easy to debunk. Just simply leave a McDonald’s cheeseburger in your office for over a year and then find out the results.

Granted, the fact that you could even make it more than just a few weeks would already prove my dad’s point.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

Dear Jack,

Being the daddy blogger who denounces artificial food dyes in food, I must admit it is quite convenient that my almost 5 year-old son has willingly chosen to use his Halloween candy for science experiments, as opposed to actually eating it.

This was completely your idea. It was the convenient timing of you rediscovering your Magic Science kit that Mommy and I got you’re a year ago for your 4th birthday.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

Saturday morning, which was Halloween, you and I took a walk at the park and you found a green acorn; which you referred to as a coconut.

You announced to me: “Daddy, when we get home, I’m going to put this coconut in the water with peanut butter!” 

That’s exactly what we did. (Featured in the collage below.)

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

I supervised as you randomly mixed the ingredients included in the kit, with the “coconut” as well as some peanut butter. Needless to say, you weren’t following the instructions included in the kit at all. Fortunately, no explosions occurred…

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

Even during dinner, as you ate the pizza Mommy made, you were constantly checking on the progress of your science experiments. (Not to mention, you had previously dunked some of the uncooked pizza dough into some chemicals as well; as part of its own experiment; as seen below.)

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

We then took about a 90 minute break to actually, you know… go trick-or-treating.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

It meant so much to me to finally go trick-or-treating in our own neighborhood; since we moved in our new home back in January. When we lived in the townhouse community before, it just wasn’t the ideal environment like our neighborhood is now, for something like this.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

Needless to say, after we got home from church on Sunday, you spent all of your time testing all types of the candy you earned the night before.

I think you favorite to dissolve were the Nerds. You explained to me:

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

“Daddy, the Nerds turn in to crystals!” You scooped them out from the bottom of the cup, using a plastic spoon; revealing the now colorless pieces of sugar.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

It was also interesting to see Runts without their coloring as well. And the Laffy Taffy looked like a brain.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

A dentist in our neighborhood is buying back Halloween candy; paying $1 per pound, then sending the candy overseas the U.S. troops.

Dear Jack: Using Halloween Candy for Science Experiments Instead of Eating It

You were planning on selling most of your candy so you could use the money to buy a toy.

Instead, it looks like you’d rather use the candy for scientist experiments; as opposed to selling it, or even crazier… actually eating it.



Dear Jack: My Son’s 1st Science Project

3 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

Dear Jack,

This week at school as the theme has been “The Future,” you and your friends were given an assignment: to create a future-themed science project.

I don’t ever see myself as the kind of dad who simply will do the work for you, attempting to lead fellow parents and teachers to believe that you actually did the work instead of me.

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

Instead, I want it to be your ideas and your handiwork; simply with my input as you ask for it.

However, I will admit, I did build the basic frame of your “tow truck,” but only for you to break it apart then rebuild it with festive lights and what constitutes as “a tow on the back.”

Each day this week when we came home from school, you ran straight over to your Legos and my job was to help you find “all the weird Legos” for your tow truck.

Your project was entitled “Parking Lot Of The Future.”

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

Apparently, in the future a robotic snake, an old man in a gown riding a robotic bird, and a low-rider fire truck will park next to a well-lit tow truck.

I just wanted you to have fun. The thought of winning never crossed my mind; though it definitely crossed yours. I’m not sure there was a winner, but I do know you came home with a Ninja Turtles activity pack and a “well done” award.

In fact, this week set a record for you: “Least Number Of Snacks Eaten In The Car.”

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

That’s because you were busy in the back seat modifying your tow truck, having me remove trick Lego pieces that you decided you didn’t like after all… in between us sitting at red lights.

So yeah, you were very proud this morning to see your work on display, alongside your friends’ projects.

It was never about winning. It was about the experience and the passion of creating something enjoyable.

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

I have really enjoyed being a part of your first science project.

Now that it’s over, though- you are very relieved: You finally got to take your Legos back home now.



Which Animals Don’t Have Tails? (I Had To Google It)

January 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm , by 

3 years, 2 months.

Disclaimer/incentive to read this: May contain unintentional potty humor of a 3 year-old.

Dear Jack,

On the way to school Friday morning, you broke about 5 minutes worth of silence to announce:

“Tigers have tails, so they don’t poop. And pandas, too. They have tails but they don’t really like to poop. But pandas are not bears.”

I should point out here that you weren’t trying to be funny… you were completely serious, not smiling at all. Your tone was very informative.

As I listened to you teach me about the bathroom preferences of animals, I began (privately) processing your logic.

I began thinking about how if pandas specifically don’t like to poop, does that mean other animals enjoy it?

Also, I tried to make a connection between having a tail and not pooping. Why would having a tail affect that?

I began wondering about the alternative- where would the food go that animals eat?

Does the tail serve as a bit of a trap door to keep it all in?

This thought process occurred during an intensive 8 second period, before I decided to ask you a follow-up question:

What about fish?

“Fish have tails in the water, so they don’t poop,” you quickly answered.

For the first couple of hours of the day after I dropped you off at school, I was trying to think of animals that don’t have tails. No luck.

Finally, I Googled “animals that don’t have tails,” to find out the few exceptions to the rule.

Here’s the list of animals I found, according to the Internet, that don’t have tails:

Frogs (though they do when they are young), gorillas, apes, chimpanzees, orangutans, octopuses, clams, and starfish. Plus, certain spiders and insects; depending on a person’s definition of “animal.”

So if you rule out marine life, too, it’s pretty much certain primates that don’t have tails. I never realized so few animals, mammals in particular, have no tail.

Basically, your logic says that because humans don’t have tails, that’s why they poop.

In my 32 years on this planet, I’ve never thought how few animals have tails. I must thank you, Son, for bringing this to my attention.

Of course, you’re using the “tail concept” to say that’s why most animals don’t poop.

If only you had a tail, potty training would be a lot easier… according to your logic, at least!



Love, Daddy


Note: This is an opinion piece of the author (and his son) and does not reflect the scientific community. For example, panda bears really are bears; it’s red pandas that are not.


Photo Sources-

Young Sumatran Tiger Walking.

Giant Panda Bear In Tree.

Old Silverback Chimpanzee.

(Memes created by Nick Shell.)

Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s “Abortions” of Live Babies