How neglecting lawn maintenance killed the dinosaurs

I’ve figured out why the dinosaurs disappeared.

The answer lies where the lawn meets the sidewalk.

In a word: edging.

Long after the dinosaurs disappeared, I came along. Being a country kid, I didn’t know much about sidewalks and their struggles with the encroaching Earth. Hence, I believed the dinosaurs were probably killed by an asteroid or something ridiculous like that.

As a suburban adult, I’ve had my eyes opened about how rapidly a hungry lawn can overrun the sidewalk. The Earth is a devourer of all things immobile or complacent.

The dinosaurs grew complacent. This is why their bones are found deep below the Earth’s great lawn.

But why? What made the dinosaurs give up their vigor to the point of allowing the Earth to swallow them up?

Dinosaur children.

The Lesson of the Dinosaurs: become complacent and this world will devour you.

Evidence for my hypothesis:

Over Memorial Day weekend, my family embarked upon an edging project. Day one consisted of a little bit of edging and a great deal of children being in the way. By “being in the way” of course I mean “helping.”  They helped by demanding to be allowed to use tools they were not strong enough to lift; misplacing the tools they could carry; fighting each other for the right to misplace them; bringing their disputes to the edger-pushing parent every minute on the minute; tangling electrical cords; placing themselves exactly in the way of progress; and rendering similar forms of useful assistance.

On the second day, I got smart. I let the boys play video games. The big boys didn’t even notice me go outside. Only Big Man held his interest in helping. This left him no brothers to fight. The only one to argue with was me, and once I got it through his head that he wasn’t running the edger, the pace picked up considerably. We finished the job in no time, freeing the concrete from the amazing amount of sod that had overrun it in just a year or two.

Don’t think it could only happen to dinosaurs. Seen any saber tooths  lately?

It all makes sense:

The Earth will eat up anything that stands still long enough.

The beginning of the end for the dinosaurs came when they abandoned their edging and became complacent homeowners. The Earth covered over their sidewalks and then it overwhelmed the dinosaurs themselves as they waited for the children to grow up and move out so they could straighten up the place.

The dinosaurs gave up on their edging because they had too many dinosaur children helpers frustrating their efforts.

The dinosaur children were always underfoot because there was nothing consistently reliable to distract them from helping.

These facts lead us to:

The core causality of the Great Extinction:

Dinosaur culture crumbled for the lack of compelling video games. That long ago, they couldn’t have had anything more sophisticated than Atari.

Think about that next time you lament your child’s affinity for screens.

A group of non-extinct animals demonstrate the safety of a properly edged walk.



History, trains, dinosaurs, trains, airplanes, and mostly trains

My three-year-old son likes our local historical museum quite a lot, but it is nothing that can prepare a boy for a visit to the various museums of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Nor is it anything that can prepare the dad of a three-year-old boy for the adventure of taking his son to those behemoths.

Archie Bunker’s chair and assorted other cultural artifacts. To a three-year-old, this is one big blah, blah, blah exhibit.

The Smithsonian American History Museum is famous for its many exhibits that hold no appeal to the three-year-old boy. Many of the displays include a panel of text, describing the item and its importance to our culture. I read the first line of several of these descriptions before I was dragged around the corner to see if there were any toys or displays with buttons to push hiding there. I wish the museum would find writers who could explain an exhibit in five words or less. That would be a great boon to every tourist parent.

The saving grace of the American History Museum was the area with the locomotive engines. To a little boy, the world is composed of trains, trucks, and diggers, but mostly trains. While the rest of the museum was a blur of verbose descriptions, fattened with wasteful prepositions, conjunctions, and articles to vex the skidding parent, the train area was a wonderland that needed no words. There were huge hulks with wheels and metal on tracks; who needs a placard to tell them that is the most glorious combination on Earth? Nobody endeavored to drag Daddy away from the trains.

This is the meaning of life.

The Natural History Museum holds dinosaur skeletons. My son enjoyed the dinosaurs, if you only count the first two we saw. After that, they lost their charm. He quickly formed the conclusion that their most prominent characteristics were that they were big and they were dead. Judging by these criteria, the skeletons all turned out to be pretty much the same.

Dinosaur-on-dinosaur violence was an issue that was left unaddressed for too long by the dinosaurs. This display depicts a sad chapter in the demise of dinosaur culture.

It was the human remains that interested him the most. He wanted to know what happened to that guy, whereas the demise of each of the dinosaurs was less intriguing. Based on the many dioramas of various dinosaurs attacking one another, I think he just assumed that they ate each other up until the final tyrannosaurus died of loneliness.

He was also fascinated, and creeped out, by a time-lapse image of a woman posing as a colonial era matron. I might have inadvertently led him to believe that she was a witch, but that wasn’t completely my fault. They buried this colonial lady in a lead coffin; so what did they expect ignorant fathers of future generations would blurt out when they didn’t have time to read the entire description? “I bet she was a witch,” is exactly what our forefathers should have expected me to say. Of course, I meant that she must have been falsely accused of being a witch, but I doubt my boy inferred the distinction. He held my hand as he stared at her changing image, cautioning me not to get too close.

Playing with a nondescript, toy airplane while countless real aircraft sit unappreciated in their quiet, historic nooks.

In the Air and Space Museum, my son went straight for the places where he could push a button or move a lever. He might not have known what the lever did, or why he should take such unbounded pleasure in pulling it, but who cared? It was enough to know that it was a lever, and levers are meant to be pulled with glee by the hands of little bodies. I watched a lot of really fantastic lever-pulling and button-pushing in that museum. Somebody told me there were vintage aircraft in the building as well, but I must have missed that part.

Each day, we rode the metro back to our hotel, and that was the very best part of all. The many museums we visited were a wonderful excuse to ride the train back and forth. But even if they weren’t there, we would have had to ride the train into town every day to watch the grass grow on the mall.