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Opinion
Palm Coast Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 4 months ago

How can the solar system compete with Beanie Baby catalogs?

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Stopping by libraries on sunny afternoons
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

What looks like the brightest star in the evening sky at this time of year is actually a planet, Venus. What’s even more amazing is that Venus doesn’t actually produce any light. Although this number varies widely because of Venus’ orbit, light travels an average of about 67 million miles from the sun to Venus, and it’s so bright that the light bounces off Venus and travels another 25 million miles to my eyes, as I stand in my driveway after work. By the time the light hits me, it’s been traveling for about eight minutes.

I tried to explain the wonder of the solar system to my 5-year-old daughter, Kennedy, on a recent evening, but she had just gotten home from her dance class, and she was focused on her ballet costume.

“It’s not a costume, it’s a leotard,” she said. “Don’t you know that?”

It seems that my children aren’t interested in everything I want to teach them when I want to teach them. And sometimes they want to learn me something instead.

At the library, I always let Kennedy pick out whatever books she wants in the children’s section, and I usually pick out something that I think she might like, to try to expose her to something new. On our most recent trip, I found a book with paintings that illustrated a Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” I was debating how deep to get into the various interpretations, but I shouldn’t have bothered. She was intently turning pages in a book she had picked, which, from what I could tell, was a catalog of Beanie Babies. Painful. 

Kennedy does seem to be influenced by her teenage siblings. I recently found her spinning slowly in an office chair, singing “Old Town Road” in a bored voice: “Ain’t nobody tell me nothing,” she droned. Then she turned to me and said, “That song is stuck in my head.”

Well, there’s always the next child. I pulled my 1-year-old son, Luke, onto my lap before bedtime the other night and started reading: “Whose woods these are I think I know.” He giggled. He wiggled. He listened to the whole thing twice. And, of course, Kennedy eventually joined us. 

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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