Squishies – The Latest Craze Sweeping Middle Schools and Beyond

Kids are natural born collectors. They also love fads. Enter: the Squishy. These Japanese imports are the newest craze and are causing quite a stir. Not only are they hard to find, as they are not sold in your average store, most adults have never heard of them.

Today we will answer all of the common questions we receive about squishies. What are they? Squishies are soft “bread like” mascots, shaped as either a type of baked good, a character, or a combination of the two. They are the newest version of the stress ball, yet softer and more “kawaii” (the Japanese word for “cute”). Squishies are usually scented, cake or bread being the most common choice. Typically, squishies are attached to a cell phone strap or a lanyard.

Why do kids love them? Well, of course they are cute. Squishies are tactile and fun for kids to “squish” over and over, hence the name. Add in the sweet scent and you have a multiple sensory toy that can be quite irresistible.

Where did this fad come from? Like many great fads, this is another one of those fun and wacky imports from Japan. Japanese teens (and adults!) love to decorate their cell phones with fake treats, fruits and gems. This is called deco-den. You have probably seen someone with a Hello Kitty cell phone “blinged out” in this manner. In addition to making their cell phone covers as kawaii as can be, they also love to hang cute or funny straps from them. Cell phone straps are a huge trend in Japan, and have been for several years.

In trying to pin down how kids in the US have become obsessed with squishies, we seem to have narrowed it down one powerful source: YouTube. Search the word “squishies” in YouTube and you will find hundreds upon hundreds of videos all about them. On YouTube, kids, and even adults, trade squishies, show off their squishy collection and even attempt to make home made squishies. Two things are quite clear in watching these videos. A. these kids are absolutely obsessed with squishies. B. they want a lot of them, and the more “rare” the better.

Where can you find rare squishies, or even squishies in general? You will find the best variety in Japan. Of course, most parents are not willing to travel around the world for a five dollar trinket. Another place they seem to show up from time to time is in Japan Towns and even China Towns that exist in a handful of cities across the country. The easiest place to find them is right at your finger tips.

Electricity – Ground Fault or Arc Fault

If you were asked, "Who discovered electricity?" What would be your answer? I'm almost positive (a little electric humor) that Benjamin Franklin and his kite flying tale comes to your mind. It was not electricity that Ben discovered in 1752. It was the lightning rod. In 1800, Alessandro Volta manufactured the first battery capable to deliver a constant electric current. It was Volta, not Franklin, to discover electricity.

Many of the ways we use and deliver electricity today are still the same as in the days of Franklin and Volta. Differences in electrical potential between materials cause current to flow between them. Charges can be produced by rubbing fur or cloth over a non metallic surface. Metal wires are used to transmit electrons over long distances; but one property stands out the most. Electricity can kill!

Today, we have developed many ways to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of exposure to electric current. We use circuit breakers, surge protectors, arch fault, ground fault, and equipment grounding to safely control the flow of electrons from one place to another. Two of these safely systems generate a lot of questions. What is the difference between ground fault and arc fault?

Ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection has been around for a few decades. It is most commonly seen in areas where water is present. For instance, in modern homes, you will find GFCI protection in the kitchen near the sink, in the bathroom near the water sources, in garages, and any receptacles outside of your home. This type of protection guards against injury by monitoring how much current is flowing through it. If the GFCI detects a difference between the amounts of current leaving as opposed to returning, it shuts off. The missing current has to be going somewhere other than its intended destination. It's going to ground. A horrible place if you happened to be in the middle of the current as it's headed to ground.

Arc fault circuit interrupt (AFCI) protection has only been available to consumers for a few years. Like its parent GFCI, AFCI is designed to detect when electricity is not traveling to its intended destination. Unlike GFCI, AFCI is not protecting against the loss of current to ground. It is guarding against a broken conductor. These broken conductors are the primary cause of home fires in America today.

Primarily, AFCI is required in bedrooms. Bedrooms are notorious for having corded appliances, such as computers, alarm clocks, and desk or floor lamps in them. Many times the cords of these appliances are routed under beds, dressers, or carpets. This is not as safe as it looks. Cords are often cut by the items placed on them. Once severed, the broken conductor will arc. This arcing will continue until the metal is burned through or a circuit breaker trips. Often, the time between the initial cutting of the conductor and the tripping of the breaker is not quick enough and a fire breaks out. AFCI was designed to detect the initial arc caused by the severed conductor and immediately turn the power off.

In conclusion, electricity is the flow of electrons between items with differenting potential. If not properly controlled, this difference can have horrible repercussions, when people or property is in the way. Modern industry has taken great measures to protect us while using one of the most fundamental properties of nature – electricity.

Helping Your ADD/HD Child

A number of factors need to be considered when you are told that your child is ADD/HD. The first thing you want to do is to understand all you can about ADD/HD. You also want to sit down and list what it means for your child, as a unique individual being, to be ADD/HD. Remember that this diagnosis is observational in nature.

If your child is ADD/HD, then your child was born ADD/HD. What has happened that has made it need to be labeled now? What were the stops along way that led from high energy, curious, creative and bright to disabled? Start a journal about your child, ask for observations, especially from the people who are around your child when you are not.

Ask yourself and other key people in your child’s life questions like: Are there times of day, days of the weeks, or certain situations which seem to trigger the child? Keep a food log and keep track as much as possible of what your child is eating. Are their certain foods that cause spikes and crashes? Or certain foods that lead to acting out or melting down? How about certain situations or people? Did the child have a year at school, or experience at camp where their behavior seemed to go to unmanageable? Were there major shifts in your child’s world such as living situations, acquiring or loss of a close friend or family member?

Talk with your child and have them tell you as much about their days as possible and compare it with what other people experienced of them that day. See where they may be making incorrect assumptions or did not understand the larger picture of what was going on in a certain situation.

Keep in mind that all very bright children have a great deal going on in their head and are impatient to learn, to understand, and will disconnect when bored.

If teachers or other people are strongly pushing the idea that your child is ADD/HD, ask them to be as specific as possible as to why. In order to gain a better understanding of what is going on, enlist them in getting the answers to the questions you are keeping track of. Also, ask what they think the solutions are if your child is ADD/HD. If they want to move to a drug based solution, make sure you are clear if there are benefits for them to have your child drugged and easier to manage.

Maybe your child is gifted with ADD/HD, so what you want to stay clear on is: When did that gift become an unmanageable problem, and will medication solve problems or mask them? First, remember that many factors are going on in your child’s life which could lead to a request for an official diagnosis and a recommendation of medication, and that in medicating, those factors will easily get lost because the medication seems to solve all the problems.

As you draw the picture of your child and your child’s relationship with an ADD/HD diagnosis, start shifting things and see how they shift the issues. Begin with diet, then look at what shifts can be made in the environment. Would smaller classrooms, more interactive educational methods and more challenging curriculum keep your child more focused and moving at a faster, more engaged pace that would both better serve your child’s learning, growth, and development, as well as, eliminate request for labeling or medication?

Keep the following things in mind if a diagnosis of ADD/HD is in the air:

Issues may be caused or exacerbated by diet, environmental, emotional, mental, even undetected physiological factors.

Second, if medicating, what are the short and long term side effects to the mental, emotional and physical well being of your child? Will this label serve them or hold them back?

Third, is the child being held responsible for situations where the failure is not theirs? Is their “failure” on account of an educational system that doesn’t know how to work with these children? Are teachers or other education or care providers ill equipped to provide what your child needs to fly and to flourish? I want to make it clear when I say “ill equipped,” it could be that the primary adults involved are ill suited, or that the situation which they are forced to function is incapable of providing the needed environment. But what I also want to make very clear here is that if we are medicating your child, or any child, because of the failure to properly provide the teachers, the classrooms, the resources needed, and that if they were all in place that a child would not have to be medicated, then medicating is morally reprehensible and we must examine our priorities in this country.

Or is the need to medicate them because we do not offer the support, education and resources to the family unit? Are we medicating them because the family can not or does not know what a bad diet is, or how to give these children the support they need? Or because the information is controlled by groups, institutions, and business who do not have the best interest of your child at hand? Do parents make the choice to medicate their child because of the one sided information that they are given, or are they coerced or manipulated into feeling that this is the only course of acting when in fact it is not? Is it made too easy in this chaotic, sped up, crazy world to convince yourself (to be convinced) that the quick fix is the right one. In other words, that a happy meal and pill is good parenting,

Lastly, dig past the top layer of information if you really want to know. Plenty of information is available on the internet. What you will often come across first is the controlled information. There are number of studies and evidence that on the surface support ADD/HD as a disability diagnosis and say that medication is the primary option. Large non-profit groups who serve this issue that are underwritten by the drug companies that manufacture it. But when you dig deeper, the evidence is not so clear or conclusive. The parts of the studies that question medicating as a viable option are often left out. We hear about the brain scans, but we only hear half a story. We don’t hear at all about the studies that have discovered alarming concerns about medicating these children because they are buried by the information provided by supporters of the pharmaceutical companies, and you have to dig deeper to find them.

Along the way you will also find any number of all natural one stop shopping wonders that claim to cure ADD/HD, and you should be just as wary of them. You need to have a whole child understanding, create whole child solutions and make sure that they represent the unique child that is yours. No quick fixes, no one size fits all approaches. And if everything I’ve said so far hasn’t made your head spin fast enough, I don’t see AD/HD as a disability, something one needs to get cured from or outgrow. It is part of an evolutionary process. These children and adults have a diff-ability, not a disability, they learn and process differently, they are not less able. In fact, they are often more able when they are set up to succeed, and not fail.

The question is: how do you want to best support your child? To fit in – or to be who they are, and be all they can be?

Flat Motorcycle Tires – Roll Hard!

Motorcycles with flat tires. . . roll hard! If your motorcycle is cruising along at 55 mph and your rear motorcycle tire suddenly deflates [has a blow out!] You now have a tremendously dangerous challenge ahead of you. Aviding other vehicles, controlling the steering, a swaying rear-end making everything unstable makes for a sizable victory when you roll off the side of the road and come to a stop. Congratulations, job well done! More riders than not end in an accident or something worse. All because of their motorcycle tires. Who knows your thoughts if it is the front tire to blow? You better be prayed up.

We all want a sharp looking bike. Once you select your make and model, your interest is on chrome, color, accessories, personal appearance, dress etc. but let us not forget about the importance of the rubber motorcycle tires that get us around. Frame, structure and engine all work together and hopefully are worry free for years. Motorcycle tires keep moving and we need to often watch for wear and safety.

There are two critical places that motorcycles need to be checked before each ride or at least once a month. Both are easy to do and both are many times overlooked. One area is brake fluid. If the pedal is mushy, bleed the lines or have someone else do it. Two, motorcycle tires need to be inspected. Why do we forget these?

Our safety depends on it. We trust our life to the two motorcycle tires under us that have at best two patches of rubber in contact with the ground the size of our two hands at any given moment. Move that along at 55 mph or even at 15 mph and each of the motorcycle tires is taking on a serious responsibility. The attention and care we offer towards our motorcycle tires can help us tremendously with our safety and enjoyment of biking.

Here are some areas where things can go wrong with your motorcycle tires:

– Tire Pressure: Under-inflation may cause uneven wear, loss of control [stability], wears the motorcycle tires out faster and increases the chances of the motorcycle tires failure. Over-inflation allows motorcycle tires to heat up, limit traction [although a slight 10% over-inflation may actually increase traction in wet conditions] and affects the wear. To correct these, use a good tire gauge and check the motorcycle tires when it is cool. Keep the motorcycle tires pressure at the recommended PSI.

– Fluids: Brake fluid, gas and lube spills need to be cleaned immediately. It deteriorates the rubber. Many of the cleaner protectors used on motorcycle tires harm the finish rubber. The best way to clean is to use old-fashioned soap and water.

– Bumps: Potholes, curbs and stones may slash or crack the tire. Look for any problem.

– Accelerated wear: Everyday use may be a potential hazard. Spinning motorcycle tires on take off or holding the brake on emergency stops need to be checked.

– Nails, screws etc .: It is better to find them before you ride than to discover these nuisances 20 minutes down the road. Motorcycle tires that use a tube may "pop" from a nail / screw or sharp object, where a tubeless tire may have the nail / screw actually plug the hole they created which gives you a little more time for repairs.

– Valve stems: Make sure the cap is on. It helps to protect the valve stem from leaking air and protects the stem valve from opening by centrifugal force and leaking air at higher speeds. When you use motorcycle tires with tubes, the valve stem should be straight out. If it is on a slant, the tire has been under-inflated and the tube has moved around the rim. Often this damages the tube and creates a leak.

– Tire weights: Weights need to be firmly fixed to the rim. If they fall off it will throw the tire out of balance and cause uneven wear.

– Rim: Cracked or deferred rims are potential problems. You may want to replace wire fired wheels when they became damaged with a cast or billet wheel that uses tubeless tires. Check with your dealer on this.

– Worn / torn: Thin tread is easier to detect. Flat wear is due to leaning very little and driving mostly in a straight line, resulting in a ridge at the edge of the flattened middle of the tire. This causes motorcycle tires to become unstable in a leaning turn. It wants to warble. The tire may have more wear but it should be replaced. [It is good to replace both front tire and rear tire at the same time.] Sidewall punctures, cracking, cord separation are an alert.

– Tread: Check the grooves called "sipes" making sure that the tread is still sufficient. The lack of having tread affects the cooling of the tire when in use, wear, stability, traction and can cause hydroplaning on wet roads.

When doing your inspection of motorcycle tires get a friend to roll the bike while you check the tread and sidewalls. You may need to get a work stand if alone. Obstacles to having a good inspection are long pipes, saddlebags, fenders etc. making it hard to see the rear tire. Front motorcycle tires are a bit easier to examine. This sounds like a lot but it goes quickly and is easy to do. Make it a habit to check your motorcycle tires frequently.

Some miscellaneous information you need to know. You will have better handling and get more out your motorcycles tires when you keep the rear tire aligned and balanced. Consider having this looked at approximately every1000 miles. Be careful when you have new motorcycle tires it takes the first couple of rides to get traction working well.

So! Happy riding and remembering to check your motorcycle tires often.