Friday, October 18, 2013

For Christy

That link right there? It's what we like to call, "ambience." Just open it and let it play in the background.

Anyway, it has come to my attention that it has been far, far too long since the last time I embarrassed you with a public display of affection.

You're amazing. You really, really are.

You fill the gaps in my swing so well and with so little complaint that sometimes it probably seems like I don't notice you doing it. I do, and, as I said, it's amazing.

What throws me, what I can never quite get over, is that you don't love me despite my (many, many) flaws, you love me because of them. You aren't in love with the Jim you wish you'd married, the Jim you want to turn me into or anyone other than the Jim you're married to, a quixotic, slightly crazed Manic Pixie No-So-Dream Man. You're not loud about it, not the way I am about these displays of affection, but that it's quiet makes it all the more powerful.

I'm not putting you on a pedestal here - you frustrate me sometimes, as I'm sure I sometimes frustrate you, but the thing is, even when we're in the middle of a disagreement, my first thought is, "How do I fix this, because I really don't want to fight with my best friend?" But just because we're getting along really well - kind of scarily well - right now is no reason to avoid an opportunity to get to know each other still better.

You and I are going on a date. The sitter will be there at 5:30. For dinner we're going to . . . well, here's where the Manic Pixie thing comes in. It's Choose Your Own Adventure. It's "dinner and . . ." where the "and" depends on the restaurant you choose.

We're going to either The Common Man in Concord, the 99 in Hooksett or Five Guys in Manchester. The "and" is affected by your choice because, well, we have a budget for this, and Common Man is pricier than the 99, which is pricier than Five Guys.

Just let me know by 5:30 where you want me to show up and I'll meet you there.

Love you.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Male Gamers Only

As someone with an XY chromosome and a love of tabletop and video RPGs, ad banners can be embarrassing. A lot of these have cheesecake pinup girls on the ads and are advertised as being "dangerous" or for "male gamers only."

Someone took that idea and put it its head. And it's fantastic.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Please, don't follow this link without reading what I have to say first.

This article is long, and it's horrifying. But it should be read, so that we never, ever, ever allow ourselves to become like the townspeople who turned on the Colemans.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Terrible wisdom geek parents give their children

Yeah, I use the Bible to instruct my kids. It's a very useful book for such things (2 Tim 3:16) but, honestly, we're talking about a book that uses athletics, farming, military service, sheepherding and finding change in your couch cushions as teaching examples. I'm raising a couple of geeks; if the best way to make the story of the lost sheep clear is to explain that it's kind of like the relationship between Aang and Appa*, I'm going to explain it that way.

The problem is, there are some genuinely terribly geek phrases to use when raising kids. I want to talk about one of them: "No. Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try."

I used to think this was great advice. I mean, some tasks are pass/fail, right? You either ate everything on your plate, or you didn't. Eat, or eat not. Yeah, turns out that the real answer is a lot more complicated than that.

See, I've learned that I love it when my kids fail.

No, wait, don't tune me out as another psychopathic parent. I don't like the fact that they fail, I like the opportunity that comes from failure.

See, it's something I'd kind of forgotten myself. I'm not saying that I never fail - I do, every day - but that I'd forgotten what it is to learn from new kinds of failure. Failing a test? That's going to happen. You'll learn about study habits, about the limits of your mind, about what it's like to have an expectation of success only to be completely wrong. Art project failure? The difference between what you see in your head and what you can make in the world can be staggering. Sometimes, the dross turns out to be a lot more interesting than the gold. Failed friendship? The people who're standing with you in the end, keep them close. Everything fades. Yes, everything.

I've learned these lessons. Not to perfection, not by a long shot, but these are things that kids, well, they just don't know about until the failure's already happened. It's like learning to walk. They learn to sit up after falling a hundred times. They learn to crawl after faceplanting a hundred times. They cruise, holding onto the end of the couch for support, then one day they get to the end of it, let go and . . . big grin - "Dad! I'm standing!" in a single expression.

And then they fall onto their diapered butt and start again, still not having mastered walking. And you applaud their failure, call your parents and your in-laws to brag loud and proud about what your child just failed to do.

I like this instead: "Do or do not, but at least try. Even if you fail, you'll learn something."

I'm not saying this is a perfect system and that it always applies. There are times - like mealtimes - where something you just have to demand success and nothing less, but you have to choose those battles wisely, geek parents, and even moreso, you have to choose the wisdom you'll use to win those battles.

After all, with great power comes great responsibility.

*, for my non-geek friends.