SafeSearch and Roasted Garlic

Last week, my daughter came home from school with this look of indignation, tinged with forbidden excitement. She tripped over her words as her mind raced ahead of her vocal chords.

She: Mumma! Someone typed an unappropriate word into Google and ...
Me (absent-mindedly): It's inappropriate, not unappropriate.
Her bag was wet because 'someone had poured water all over the seat in the bus' and I was busy pulling soggy papers, books, jacket, stones, leaves and other things from the bag, horrified at what my hand touched next.
She: ...inappropriate word and when Maggie and I came back from our reading group, we went to the computer for insect research and there were all these unappropriate pictures...
Me: Inappropriate!
I found the culprit. That someone who poured water all over her seat was her! The cap of her water bottle was loose. Inappropriate pictures?! Whoa! What was she talking about?!
Me: What inappropriate word? What pictures?
She: Mumma, we know it was a boy. He typed in this inappropriate word and did an image search on Google. So there were pictures on the monitor and you know what else? He even sent them to the printer. He printed them, Mumma!
My alarm level was now really high because I didn't know what she had seen.
Me (as calmly as is possible in situations like this): So what was the word, sweetie?
She: It's un...I mean inappropriate. I cannot say it. It's a girl's body part that's why we know it was a boy!

It was b**bs. It could have been worse. Much much worse. All the kids were banned from touching the computers till the person who did this owned up to it. No-one did so the girls developed their own theories about the boy - better still the group of boys - that did this. She was very indignant about it because she couldn't get onto the Internet to do her research because of that unappropriate - I mean inappropriate - thing that those silly boys did. First they break chairs, now they do this. What next?

I wondered what the school IT department was up to. I thought that SafeSearch would be the most basic standard in any school. Obviously not. Before I opened my big mouth and made suggestions, I thought I'd try it out and sure enough, it worked on most sexual slang that a 2nd grader might come across. It didn't work for an interesting male body part though. There were very explicit pictures in the results. Who decides these things at Google and other search engines, I wonder. But then again the word is not sexual slang; it's a proper biological term.

I decided to report it to Google using their 'Dissatisfied? Help us improve' link at the bottom of their seach results. And it showed me: You searched for <male body part> above the textbox where I was going to write a strong complaint. I felt a tinge of embarassment but then I hoped my story would convince Google that I was not some sort of a pervert. That is, if anyone ever reads the feedback.

My general paranoia which had been on the rise, is now at its peak. I have found my daughter on strange web sites because she clicked on an ad for IQ testing while checking weather online. The site itself was fine but the ads displayed were not. Once off the weather web site, there is no guarantee where she will end up and what she will read or see. According to some stats my husband read up on, children end up on not-so-enchanting web sites in less than 6 clicks. She will be 8 next month and usually she is closely monitored when she is on the computer but when I have my hands deep in soapy dishes and she needs to know the weather right away, I let her do it because I don't expect her to click on anything else besides weather. There's no giving guarantees for what she will and will not do as curiosity is but natural and anything IQ or quiz-like is something she cannot resist. And, the big bad world out there is beckoning...

I don't want to install NetNanny or its ilk. I do use the AdBlock plugin for Firefox to block as many ads as possible, but it's not enough. My husband has been talking of setting up a tracking system that will display on his computer, the web sites she is accessing on hers. He lives at his computer so maybe it will work.

With that, let's move on to something more titillating to another type of gland, the salivary gland...

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic

  • 5-6 bunches of garlic
  • 10-12 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
  2. Take off as much of the dry skin around the garlic bulbs, leaving the bulbs intact.
  3. Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of the bulb with a very sharp knife to expose the individual cloves
  4. Place the garlic bulbs, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish
  5. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons olive oil over each bulb, making sure that it gets a good coating
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper
  7. Cover loosely with foil and bake between 30-35 minutes till the cloves feel soft when pressed

The aroma that will pervade your home will drive you nuts and you will want to dig into the garlic right away! But, allow the garlic to cool first as it will be very hot.

This roasted garlic will last at least a couple of weeks in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. That's only if it isn't all gone much before then! I like to:
- eat it as is, use a fork to get the garlic out of its skin and pop it into my mouth. Delicious!
- as a spread on toast, mash it with a fork and spread it
- in spreads and appetizers, when you want the flavor of garlic without the overpowering smell of raw garlic
- on a pizza as an additional topping
- in salads, sliced
- in pastas, and so much more!


Luv2cook said...


I like reading the conversations you have with your daughter.

It just feels like a scary world out there to raise children. Even though, I do not have any, I shudder just thinking about the daunting task that may lie ahead.

Also, one word about google, I was listening to/reading an(do not remember) interview and I remember it saying that google folks do read the comments. May be not right away but at some point. So, you may get a response from them. Do update me on what they say!

Anonymous said...

l2c, it is a scary proposition but it's a lot of fun as well. I learn a lot from her. She's of a cheerful disposition but is a stickler for rules. What the boy(s) did was wrong, wrong and wrong! No-one has owned up yet and while they are allowed to use the computers, they cannot go onto the Internet.

Google claim they read the feedback they get. But there is no doubt that they probably get thousands of reports from whiny SEOs about their site not being in the top 10, so I wonder if my complaint will see the light of the cathode ray (or LCD) :D In general, they do not respond to feedback so I am definitely not holding my breath on that one! But if they do reply, I will let you know!

Anonymous said...

Manisha, I too agree with L2V. Even I am scared to about raising a child. responses are pretty fast. My husband had sent them queries and he got response in one day. But I dont know how they would respond to your feedback.

RP said...

Hmmm....What are these kids up to! I have an 8 yr old. I have Norton’s parental blocking feature running on her system. I also have VNC installed on her computer so I can take a peek from my PC every once in a while. This is neat, I get her active desktop in a window and I can keep it minimized. But still there are unappropriate errr....inappropriate things on the internet that just pop up! Parents need to be extremely cautious -that is the only solution in my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

Shilpa, welcome to IFR! Good to see you here. Google is quick to respond to questions about AdWords and AdSense. I see AdSense on your blog so I am guessing that's what your queries were about.

RP, we are avid VNC fans, too. We prefer Grisoft's AVG anti-virus for virus protection but it lacks parental control. So maybe Norton needs to be revisited. Thanks for that info!

RP said...

Manisha, the parental block feature comes with Norton Internet Security(not with Antivirus).
Here is the link.

Anonymous said...

Manisha, The queries were not about Adsense. They were about something else, not at all related to my blog.

Ashwini said...

I would have thought the school would be the one place where there would be the strictest control possible. Do you think they took all measures possible (I am not keyed into all the software out there)? Are you going to follow up with them?

Anonymous said...

Shilpa, you were very lucky to get a response that was not a canned response. Especially if your question to them was about their results. :D

Ashwini, I thought the same thing. I think we make many assumptions about schools because of what they say about themselves but that is not the case. I love the school my daughter goes to. It has a very warm feel to it and parental involvement is encouraged at every level. We work together rather than against each other in terms of expectations. It's almost too good to be true.

I see a strong positive side to this incident. Without the kids having seen too much, it made it very clear what is acceptable and what is not. The word spread like wildfire to the other 2nd grade classes so they got the message, too. Then I found out that the 5th graders had just had a sex education lecture so they were buzzing, too. A lot of the kids in 2nd grade have siblings in 5th grade. A lot of information gets shared!

The teacher is under tremendous pressure and I wanted to be proactive rather than reactive. She knows about SafeSearch, and I know there was a teachers' meeting so I am assuming this was discussed. She cannot be in charge of technology. The IT guys should have to have known better. However, I wouldn't put it past these kids to have changed the Preferences in order to do the search! My daughter knows about it and therefore I am sure other kids do, too.

Anyway, I was hoping to follow up on it in person today. I volunteer in the Math class where I get to interact with the kids one-on-one - it's a real treat for me! But I've been sick for the last couple of days so it will have to wait till next week. But what a lot of excitement this has generated - at school, at home and in the neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

Manisha, nice post ! was interesting to read....

Anonymous said...

Hi Lera! Welcome to IFR!

Anonymous said...

CT, I'm so glad you liked it! I just ate a few cloves myself! I made more than 12; kept some for myself and distributed the rest to friends and neighbors. My neighbor liked it so much that he ate a whole bulb at one sitting. I am not quite sure if that's the right thing to do but I am also guilty of having eaten at least 6 cloves at one time!

Kay said...

Kids!!! :)

I was going to roast some ginger and garlic (very lightly till they browned) in the oven and make a paste out of them for the freezer..

Your idea of roasting it till it's yummy sounds great to my taste buds. While I'm roasting some for the freezer, I'm going to try it in your way too.. Think I'll put those in the pizza. :)