Bits and Pieces

Nov 16, 2007

Cambell and Chase got into an argument the other day regarding who is bigger.  Chase is developing a bit of a complex.  He’s the smaller of the two by about two or three inches.  He’s also two years younger.  This fight will be interesting when they are closer to 10 and 8 than 5 and 3.

The wife’s Star magazine rests upon a shelf directly above the toilet of our master bedroom.  Britney, please get your act together.  You are haunting me while I pee.

As a bit of a planning exercise for my upcoming anniversary, I took a look at the local performing arts centers.  There’s nothing exciting happening this weekend but they are showing Underpants next year.  I qualify that search as a success.

The wife was quite unaware of any recent arguments concerning height.  Still, she made magic mashed potatoes for dinner.  You know, the kind that make you taller as you eat them.  According to the lines she drew on the wall, the potatoes had a dramatic effect.  I, however, can report no noticeable changes to the overall results.

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55 Words

Jul 17, 2007

From what I understand, 55 word stories have become somewhat of a fad. Neat. I don’t want to be left out.

He was sure she was lying.

An embrace is given more to subdue than comfort. Fleeting promises fade as the darkness begins to close in.

How can she leave me? What have I done?

The truth made him quake. Dread gaped from the open doorway.

There is a monster in my closet. I know it!

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Parents Do Matter

Jun 21, 2007

Over at the Freakonomics blog, the authors have again noted their stance on the subject of reading to your children. Notably, they say it doesn’t really help and they use a flashy headline to ask a question. Perhaps surprisingly, I agree with their points, even if I have some trouble with their wording.

Culture cramming may be a foundational belief of modern parenting but, according to the data, it doesn’t improve early childhood test scores.

Amen. The anecdotal evidence I’ve witnessed doesn’t support it. The aggregate test scores of our high schools don’t appear to show the improvements of this group of very intensely focused parents. Do the special schools and flash cards give your kids an important head start? I can’t say. My concern is that that the kid will learn something much worse than arithmetic. They’ll learn to hate learning, a problem that is incredibly difficult to teach away.

I want my kids to love to read. I’m not particularly concerned about the mechanics of reading at such an early age. I don’t have a spreadsheet to track their progress or a checklist where I record their accomplishments. I tend to keep the flash cards hidden within the case of that brightly colored alphabet work set.

I do, however, attempt to foster their interest in books, or magazines, or even the occasional map from an amusement park. I decode the writing below the occasional statue on the fields of Gettysburg just because they ask. I look forward to the days of comic books and secretly thank J.K. Rowling for a future where I can show my kids that reading is more than something that school forces you to do.

So, we’re on the same page, at least until their conclusion, which doesn’t need to be restated more than it needs to be reworded.

Parenting technique is highly overrated. When it comes to early test scores, it’s not so much what you do as a parent, it’s who you are.

Parenting is very much an attempt to pass on the good and acknowledge, and maybe contain, the bad. The most important lessons you teach your kids, you do as an example. In a sense, it’s very much about who I am. I want my kids to be like me — at least the good parts of me. But the X’s and O’s of reading, writing, and arithmetic come up when I play a different but related role, the role of a teacher. When we talk about who I am, and who I want them to be, it’s then that I’m being the parent.

If I’m reading things correctly, it sounds like I’m taking the right tact. I certainly dig propping the kids on my lap for a short story or two or three or four. More importantly, they seem to like it too.

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Jun 14, 2007

I’m really disappointed that I haven’t spent my time this year blogging, something I log as a personal failure more than anything else. I have no audience to please or satisfy. I don’t harbor any fantasies of the importance of this space. I do, however, very much use these pages as an offbeat historical record. I note the updates about the kids. I follow my old thoughts as an active reader. And, occasionally, I remember that the process of simply writing is often an exercise worth doing. I feel a bit sorry I don’t.

My only, and unspoken, New Year’s Resolution this year was that I wanted to create. That might mean many things — the sandbox I hope to build for my two little boys or the paint I’m certain the wife hopes I finally get around to applying to the walls — but, mostly, it meant I wanted write.

I wanted to write more about gaming, a personal hobby and industry in flux. As the major players in the gaming market position their billion dollar investments, there’s commentary to be made there. I’d love to try my hand at it.

I wanted to write a bit about software and programming. An outstanding percentage of software related writing outside of Joel on Software is either boring, lacking style, or both. Some of it makes my eyes bleed. Some of it makes them close. I wonder how I’d do. Is my quirky style interesting to others? Is my quirky style interesting to me?

But mostly, I wanted to get back on track. Shake the dust off.

It’s hard to view your home page as a vacant wasteland. I’ll see if there’s something I can do about that.

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Jan 2, 2007

“There are three stages of man: He believes in Santa Claus; he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus.”

— Bob Philips

I’m looking forward to next Christmas. I really am. I can’t anything away from this past year, which was wonderful and left me feeling about as blessed as a person can be, but next year is going to be fun.

Next November, my little one will turn 3. That’s a magic age, an age where Santa becomes something more than a name you hear a lot and an outfit of strange lap. It’s the age where Christmas becomes something real and tangible. I’ll have to chase him down the steps Christmas morning, much like I did to another little boy just two years ago. It’s going to be great.

While I wait, here’s some of the things I enjoyed this holiday season.

Spending just a little time with my grandmother and now 4 year old son. Watching my grandmother and my son interact at a time where he’s too young to be fearful of the nursery home around us was a treat. He may not remember the time he spent with his great grandmother, who is working her way to age 99. I will.

Watching my son’s first Christmas pageant. The four year old group rocked the very crowded house.

Getting a chance to host my sister’s family during Christmas. I love the chaos of Christmas morning. The more the merrier. I’m incredibly glad that I reconnected with my favorite sister this year.

Listening to my sons sing in the car. Cambell can belt out a great version of Jingle Bell Rock. Chase can’t seem to find the end of Jingle Bells.

Having a great Christmas season. It’s hard not to take things for granted when they are going so well. I look into the stars every once and a while and thank God for the little ones that scurry my floors with brand new bikes and a handful of Matchbox cars, the family that shares our Christmas meals, and the wife I’ve woken up next to the last ten Christmas mornings.

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Emotionally Involved

Dec 7, 2006
The wife and I have been following this story very closely.  Having two very young kids of our own, it somehow hits very close to home.  I have no doubt that my actions would have been much like that of James. Stay with the kids. I’ll be back.

The final result is just awful. It hurts and I had never heard of the guy until this last week.

I’ll take solace in the fact that the wife and kids made it. It’s a tragic end. I’ll try to be thankful that it wasn’t as tragic as it could have been.

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Survival Supplies

Nov 9, 2006

I need a list, preferably a list of survival supplies.  Supplies that you wouldn’t venture into rustic surroundings without.  Necessities only, please.  After all, we are camping here.  Guys camping – no women allowed. 

Camping the manly way means that pity fish could be on the menu.  Pity fish, a rare catch, can only be found on the fishing hooks of the occasional passerby, overcome by grief at a great display of futility.  Camping the manly way means that only one dish is prepared in an location other than the fire.  That dish?  Macoroni and cheese.  We must take pride in our cast iron cookware.  Camping the manly way means beer and videogames.  Lots of videogames.

In any case, we’ll need some stuff.  Let’s get this list started:

  • Beer
  • Beer
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Cast iron pot
  • Sandwich fire cooker
  • Charged battery, in case of dry camping; it might be cold
  • Refilled propane for the camper
  • Charged GBA, DS, and PSP
  • DVDs – Upright Citizen’s Brigade, …
  • Firewood
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A Few Random Things

Oct 17, 2006

This now leads my Household Tools I Most Desire list. I know it sucks. What are its bad points?

Gregg Easterbrook, the writer of what is now ESPN’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, reminded me why I like his writing so much when he addressed the issues of placing blame.

Revisionism addendum: Suppose Clinton had, in 1998, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaida and Taliban forces there, as the docudrama suggested Clinton should have. Surely the president would have been bitterly denounced by Republicans, and since Sept. 11 would never have happened, today the 1998 invasion of Afghanistan would be spoken of as a pointless fiasco of the highest order. Something to chew on when you think about the Iraq war.

Hit this link and search for phrase “Republican, Democrats Accuse Each Other of Partisanship” within the article. Good stuff.

I’ll echo the sentiments of the source, this is impossibly cute.

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Shooting Stars

Sep 27, 2006

I spent some time tonight stargazing, an activity aided by a wonderful moonless night but slightly hindered by the shining lights of my lawn mower. I might not want to mow in the darkness but the light of the ancients were interesting company.

Those same stars weren’t as comforting for my oldest son. Our little chat on the front step of our home met with some apprehension as I turned off the porch lights. I wanted to point out the Milky Way. He wanted to express his sudden fear of shooting stars.

Apparently, they are huge. And they make lots of noise. And go, “shroom across the sky.” The wide eyed child that told me this story, complete with a wide wave with his hand, surely wanted no parts of these world ending objects.

I explained to him what little I know. I spoke of little rocks. I told him that shooting stars are silent and beautiful. I attempted to relate them to one of the things he dearly loves, rollercoasters.

My little man considered these facts but didn’t seem to believe me. My explanation did, however, seem to have an one effect. It created a story.

I learned that “when he was little” a shooting star once fell in front at his feet. He picked up this star and had a little conversation.

“Why are you here little star?”

I was told of its bouncing. I was told it returned to the sky. I learned that his story seemed to both comfort and delight him.

We both enjoyed the sky this evening. He used his imagination to help things along. I used some help from John Deere.

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Email Text

Sep 27, 2006

Does anyone else wait for the text of an email to display even when there isn’t any?  The subject not the message be.

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