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Mostly Blowing Things Up

Sometimes I look at the bookshelf and wonder when Scott got into things like Elemental Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems.  I would ask, but he might tell me what differential equations and boundary problems are, and then the little mouse that is on the wheel in my tiny left brain might hyperventilate and die.  So I was happy to learn that Scott started thinking about these issues during the winter of 1986, at the latest.  He would have been 8 years old.

I know this because Scott’s mom sent us a few of his childhood things last week, including an essay he wrote in the fourth grade.  The prompt for the essay was “describe your perfect war person.”

We must leave aside, for a moment, the bewildering revelation that in 1986 our great nation asked the fourth grade to design a new war machine.  It was the Cold War.  We’re just going to let that one go.

I am posting Scott’s essay below because it never got the praise it deserves.  It is downright a propos today, which suggests he was ahead of his time.  And if you want to know more about how it is literally possible to be ahead of your time, we appear to have a book called Gravitation and Space Time that I could lend you.

(Click on these if you have trouble reading them.)

When you turn the page, it says this:

He kind of got a check plus, but it’s not clear because the plus and the check are so far apart.  And despite having infrared eyes, maximum running and jet pack speeds, and specific slimeball, creep and scum-sucker opponents, Rattlesnake was found lacking in detail.

Modern-day Scott looked distressed when he saw this.  After a while, I asked him whether he wanted to expand on any of his good ideas.  I asked him what Rattlesnake would eat, for example, if he ate food.

“Thorium-fission energon batteries,” Scott said.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us that I don’t know how to make those.  So I made Rattlesnake’s second favorite food, which is pumpkin cupcakes.  I made lots of them because if Rattlesnake goes hypoglycemic on us, our democracy is totally screwed.

These mini-cupcakes are adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe.  We decorated them all Halloween-like for our friend Angie’s amazing Halloween party (where I ate delicious spinach-sausage-cheese dip, and club crackers wrapped in parmesean and bacon.  I know– who cares about the cupcakes anymore, right?)  But if you change the sprinkle colors up, these cupcakes will be good party tokens through the winter holidays.

I didn’t change much in the Bon Appetit recipe except to work around some of the things you might not have on hand, like self-rising flour and pumpkin pie spice mix.  And I decreased the sugar in the icing, because cream cheese frosting is better when you can taste the cream cheese through all that powdered sugar.  These cupcakes would also be awesome with the amaretto frosting here.

Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients for cupcakes:

1 c. flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp.+ 1 pinch salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

2/3 c. packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 c. canned pure pumpkin (unsweetened– not prepared pumpkin pie filling)

1/3 c. vegetable oil

1/3 c. sour cream

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:

1 8-oz. package cream cheese

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the 1 c. flour,  2/3 c. packed brown sugar, the 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder, the  1/4 tsp.+ 1 pinch salt, and the spices (the 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger).

In another bowl, whisk together the 1 egg, 1/3 c. oil, 1/3 c. sour cream, 1/2 c. pumpkin and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Pour into mini muffin pans lined with cupcake liners.

Bake 15-16 minutes, or until a toothpick jabbed into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Remove cupcakes from the tin and let cool on a rack (they don’t take long to cool since they are so small–maybe 20 minutes.)

To prepare frosting, beat the 1 package cream cheese and the 1 stick butter in an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in the 1 tsp. vanilla and the 1 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar.  If are going to color the frosting, add the  food coloring now.

Frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles or otherwise.  (Note: I chilled the frosting for an hour or so before spreading it, per Bon Appetit, but found it much easier to work with after it came to room temperature again.  So I might not chill the frosting before applying to the cooled cupcakes next time.)

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19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nikki #

    Obviously I need to send you the story about the atomic scissors as well.

    October 30, 2011
    • Yes PLEASE. Scott claims he can’t remember the details of the atomic scissor, but I don’t believe him because whenever it’s come up in the past day or two, he gets this crazy gleam in his eye.

      October 31, 2011
  2. And please let’s not forget that Scott’s work on war persons was thoroughly appreciated by his mother, if only because she was so grateful that he was doing his homework.

    October 30, 2011
    • Clearly it was indeed much appreciated, as it arrived in mint condition in the best care package ever. I am so glad you saved it!

      October 31, 2011
  3. Courtney #

    I’m a college friend of Scott’s and once owned that same book. I was traumatized by its successor, “Elementary Applied Partial Differential Equations.” I determined that college-level textbooks with “Elementary” in their name are a bad thing.

    I’m a somewhat recent follower of your site and wanted to say “Hi” (really, I want to say, “Hey!” because I was raised in Georgia, but I’m afraid that might scare you so I’ll stick with the geographically neutral “hi”). I feel like I’m eavesdropping to read your site without introducing myself. I’m Courtney and I think I know Scott from being an RA. Hi!

    October 30, 2011
    • Hi/Hey back,Courtney! I am so glad you found the site– thanks for reading it. The book you mention sounds so mathy that it makes me want to go sit in a dark closet for a few hours until my heart rate comes down. I am glad you survived– you are clearly a stronger woman than I. Happy Halloween from me (and Scott, who also says hello!)

      October 31, 2011
  4. Angie #

    The cupcakes are delicious! I just ate two of them! You are so right about the icing not needing to be so sweet. I don’t normally like cream cheese frosting for that reason, but these were yum! Thanks for coming to the party. It was great fun and your costumes were terrific!

    October 30, 2011
    • We had a blast, Angie– I could say it a million times, but I have NEVER been to a party for any holiday that had decorations as cool as your Halloween party did. Thanks for having us!

      October 31, 2011
  5. Oh my goodness, this post had me laughing. “War person”? Wow.

    October 31, 2011
    • “War person,” I know! I love how on the illustration of the “War person,” he drew an arrow and wrote “Jet pack,” just to be explicitly clear about how awesome his War person was.

      October 31, 2011
  6. Miiight have just read this aloud to my husband. The teacher must have been hungover when she graded the essay. I would know because my sister is a 5th grade teacher, and she’s definitely more critical on “those” days.

    November 2, 2011
    • Ahhh your sister must have some good material! And that is a good call on the teacher’s hangover. It was December, after all. Maybe she was angry at herself for letting herself get a little out of hand at the faculty holiday party the night before?

      November 3, 2011
  7. Wait. Isn’t the dog the star of this post? Look. At. That. Face. I bet that dog would totally eat scum-sucking crooks. A war person is one thing. A war person with DOG that could run up to mach 1? Even better.

    November 3, 2011
    • I love that Rattlesnake can run up to mach 1, and he also has this jet pack but it only goes up to mach 1 too. Like Rattlesnake’s own physical abilities have reached the limits of technology as they existed at the time. If Thunder were a War Dog, I totally agree that she would be able to run up to mach 1, but I would also hope that she would have suction feet, so she could run up walls without having to use a jet pack. (Because if the Martha Stewart sweater is any indication, it could be a total pain in the ass getting her to wear the jet pack.)

      November 3, 2011
  8. Also, I enjoy the part about mostly blowing things up. Why blow something up entirely?

    November 3, 2011
    • I am going to start saying this around the house now.

      “What did you do today”
      “Oh, nothing much… I mostly blew things up.”


      November 3, 2011
  9. DramaDoc #

    I’m so glad I found this blog! HILARITY! Also, wicked cool transformer drawing, 8 year old Scott! Props from the future (and 3 year old me).

    November 29, 2011
    • DramaDoc, that drawing still cracks me up. I love how he wrote “JET PACK” with an arrow, like he wanted to be really sure the teacher (who was probably like “what the…?!”) knew what it was. You’re awesome for reading, thank you!

      November 29, 2011
  10. Rattlesnake sounds like a straight up badass. I bet he’d be into “Full Metal Jousting” an amazing-sounding new show that’s about to come on Discovery Channel. Rattlesnake also sounds like he’d help Thunder out with reaching one of those cupcakes.

    January 11, 2012

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