Three Dinosaur Giraffe Butts, and a shovel

Phrase for 2017-2018 school year is “Three Dinosaur Giraffe Butts”.

The mantra is “Shovel” from grovel from gravel from gratitude.

The shovel head is the size of a spoon, and the handle is 35 feet long, and at a sharp angle. It is designed to move a piece of gravel weighing 18 tons, and about 2cm in diameter.

This is the result of lunch with Khai and Erica.


What is a friend?

One of my buddies just got riffed from his company. I know he’ll be fine. He’s one of those kind of people that just make things work. He’s good with people, and knows how all the parts fit together within a big company. More importantly, he’s good people. You can tell he’s got a big heart.

It got me to thinking about the layers and components of friendship. I might have passed 100k people, met 10k, have 1k as friendly acquaintances. How many people are your active friends, vs inactive friends? What level of friendship and trust do you have with them? Some people just shine, or we feel an attachment towards. Where do celebrities fit in here?

Then you get into the obligation factors. Some, you know want or need help all the time. There’s a distance there, because it’s a hassle. Others, you would help out any time because you know it’s just simple, convenient stuff, or the scales will always balance out. Others, you know would never ask for anything, so if they actually needed something, it would be major, and you’d step right up and help.

Then the time factor. This varies by people, both sides, but sometimes, you want to spend time with people, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, it’s to *do* something, and sometimes, it’s to do nothing. Maybe a movie, or video games, or sports, or drinks and cards. Or maybe it’s just being in proximity of someone who’s easy to hang around. One person reads, another person works, another person naps.

And then, Family comes into play. Blood relation is one type of family, but then there’s “non-people”, or chosen family, as well.

Anyway, I’m not going anywhere with this. Just, caffeine, plus recent events got me thinking. By will alone I set my mind in motion.


Kids, Family, Life rambles

The question I ask myself pretty often, obviously not as much in the heat of the moment, but in post-reflection, is “What is best for my kids.” This does not mean “What is best for my wishes for my kids.”

There are all sorts of things I want for my kids, and things I want them to do, or want them to want to do. But that does not really matter.

What do my kids want? How will this affect them in 20 years? Does this have any effect on their future ability to be self sufficient and happy? Did I do anything like this as a kid that I can compare? If they are making a mistake, will it harm them? If I make a mistake in judgement, will it hinder them?

Sometimes, I have to be a little more on alert. Maybe some activity seems risky, yet I cannot properly justify preventing that action. Sometimes, the prevention is unenforceable, or enforcement would take huge resources. In those situations, there are frequent discussions of my concerns, their decision factors, and how they’re doing.

Sometimes, it’s just nothing. They were curious, but after discussion, they realize it’s not worth the effort or risk. Other times, they have to continue forward until they tire of the experience. As long as it’s not something that is unrecoverable (risk of death or incarceration), I feel it still needs to be their decision.

How can they learn to make good decisions if they are not allowed to make them? Seeing decisions taken apart and discussed, and making decisions, are how people learn. If I decide for them, and tell them how it will be, they learn no thinking skills – only memorization.

This ramble came about because I have several sets of friends with kids who have divorced. Some of them have maintained a child-focused mentality. They have been polite, and respectful, even to the point of being friendly. Maybe they don’t hang out all the time like when they were together, but they discuss life beyond “here is the school schedule”, and are willing to help each-other be happy because that helps their kids see happiness as an example.

However, some of the couples are constantly at odds. There is distrust, lack of communication (I plan to do this because I am concerned about this), and lack of coordination and agreement in what needs to happen. Maybe kids are excluded from activity with one parent. Maybe discussions occur with the kids that push their judgement of the other parent onto the kids. Some parents have rights with their kids curtailed because of health or income disparity when it really does not matter. These too teach the kids how to behave. They learn to be manipulative, exclusive, and not how to have a partner in life.

It’s not sad to me the sheer number of divorced parents I know, but it is disappointing in how many are so self-important that they do not even see how their actions are affecting their kids.

It takes a village to rear a child, and that village, when at all possible, should include both biological parents as long as they both love the kid. All parts of the family should be on speaking terms, and step-parents or equivalents have to understand that while they have input, and duties, the bio-parents get to set the rules. Persuade them with logic, but not force/guilt/manipulation.

Everyone must be prepared to compromise their own goals as much as possible. If the gap is still just too great, then someone is not putting their child first, most likely all of the parents.

This is especially important as kids get into their mid-teens, because they will be smarter, more driven, and more manipulative to get what they want. It is very easy for a parent to fall into this trap, or even to use the child’s mindset to self-reinforce. “I want this, and the kid wants it, so it must be right.” is not a valid statement.

Anyway, super rambly. This is about an amalgamation of a whole bunch of people who are having both good and bad times with this whole family thing.

I have no solution. Emotions, both surface and deep-seated ones, are what control us. We rationalize, and explain it all, but our animal brains are what control us most of the time. Sometimes, fixing issues means having a discussion with the part of our minds which feels. Maybe we strike up an agreement. Maybe we don’t.

It’s really difficult, as evidenced by people who stay overweight for decades (MEEEE!), or people who struggle with substance abuse for years, or people who struggle with depression for years. Emotions, affect, feelings, etc rule. You cannot command them in words and rational thought. You can only speak to them in feelings. You can re-train them in what you want to feel.

Maybe if we lived for 200 years, we could sort out all of our internal demons. Until then, whether you are having a good time, or a bad time, I hope all things improve. Keep trying to be better. Review what seems important, and whether you’re on the right track. Be compassionate. When you mess up, and it will happen a whole bunch, do not punish yourself or others. Just try to be better. What can you do to trick yourself into being better. How can you set yourself up so that when you fail, you still succeed?

ramble ramble ramble.

If you got to this part, and read everything in the middle, I’m impressed. This was just stream of thought. Actually, I might be worried for your sanity. Take a break. You’ve earned it.


Kidstuff

Max and Khai decided an XBox-360 was in order. Lots of cheap games. A new 360E was the best option, so Max went that route. He put in $155 (vs $94+SH + Accessories for used, or $156 for refurb). Khai put in $20. I put in $5, plus bought a 320GB drive ($45). No Kinect. Halo 3 was bought for $6 by Max. Our DVD player has gone stale since we set up a media PC, so the XB360 will take over that HDMI port.


Checkpoint / Summary

This was an email to a friend and coworker I haven’t seen in a while, and it seemed like a good overall current-life summary. I’m posting it here so I can find it again in the future.

The kids are a wrapped up in more elaborate game design stuff. Max gets out of the house to visit friends, and Khai does Karate 2x/week. Both still growing, but Max is formally a teen now.

Erica got a job at the Lewisville library. Part time, but it’s sort of a ramp-up to her having regular paychecks (a self-validation thing for her), and getting the kids used to being a little more self sufficient (unpossible). She still does her graphic design stuff about 25 hours per month. She wrote a book called “Secrets in the Ink”. It’s “done”, but she has a final formatting verify before activating the listing on Amazon.

Haven’t lost any weight in a while. Stuck between 260 and 265. Not super worried. Dropping more makes me VERY hungry, which slows me down on the bike. Definitely have continued to improve on riding. It’s been mostly mental, and stats help me with that. Also, it’s a good group socially.

Work-wise, I long for the days of one project at a time consisting only of new-system deployments with 100% access and few complications.

Mentally, I *feel* middle aged this year. I’m so ready to have retirement funded, but that’s so far away. At least it’s on track so far, but I see the next couple decades more as a grind than anything else. You know, that part of a game where everything looks just like the last 10 levels, but with different sparkles and all of the items are renamed.

Biking is the thing that’s different right now. I haven’t figure out “the next thing” yet, but I’ve toyed with the idea of jogging/running *gasp*. Cheaper than getting back in the cockpit.

I think it’s time we work out a company paintball or laser-tag or get-drunk-and-eat-food gathering. You know, for Thanks-July-mas.


Valentine’s Day

I’m not much of a holiday person at all, especially the ones that seem to exist for the sole purpose of keeping retail sales from slumping between the “big” holidays.

But, Erica made me a bunch of neat cards all week. Some are little squares, some are cross-stitched folded-cards, and one is a watercolor BMO valentine from Etsy.

So, the best I could do was make a simple card with a beautiful but web-stolen graphic of hearts in a tree of life on the front, and a few simple words inside:

Dearest Erica,
You are so good to me.
I appreciate all of the daily things.
I appreciate your love, tolerance, and friendship.
I don't want you to be just my valentine.
Please get old with me.
We can count wrinkles and ailments together.

Love Always,
Josh Posh Squash

Also, I offered to pay for a Groupon for house cleaning.
Her life-long goal is to have a housekeepr.
I don’t really have the $$ to pay a full time keeper,
but from time to time, as a gift — I can do that.

But not me. I’m personally lazy.
I’ll work on other things for money, and
trade that money to pay someone else to clean.


Nuclear Dream

I was at a school in south Arlington. So many little details about the school snd people. It was probably the 1950s but not really. Something happened politically and a small atomic bomb went off to the east.

My mom and I knew it first because we already saw it happen and came back in time to stop it. Unortunately, we could not do anything about it.

My mom had time cloned herself and her clone was going to sacrifice herself. She was calling herself Penny. I was sad, because a already knew that both of them would die.

The school was directly in the wind path, and we could not get anyone to leave. After the blast, it was about sheltering in place.

The VIP room was having breakfast for people who arrived that day. Mom and I had breakfast yesterday, but the selection was better today. McCaffrey’s family was there, and a grandmother who was social, but would reach over and stir someone’s food with her finger, then splash the food, when they were not looking.

I was sad, because I was stuck here, in a second iteration of this horrid day.

I left to go help people, but it was too close. Everyone was doing the same things as last time. A gathering to talk about the conflict, then the boom in the distance.

I walked. I knew my mom was dead, and I figured I could teleport or jaunt home. I couldn’t. I was outside and saw the mushroom cloud on the near horizon, drifting slowly towards us. Maybe it was my upset, or the people around me, but I realized I could not teleport anymore because my mom was dead. Both of them.

I walked home. I had not veen tgere in a long time. I saw transit bussed all along, but they were too slow. Soo many stops. No one knew about the blast but a few people called out that it sort of looked like a mushroom cloud. It was.

I walked into a house that looked like my mom’s, but expanded, rearranged, and renovated very nicely. A nice, big, friendly dog was there. A lady wa on the phone and I mouthed “sorry” to her as I left. No problem. The dog followed me out the screen door.

I was sad, but would be okay.

So I woke up, and it sucked. I was going to call my mom and tell her about it.

Then I remembered she is really dead in real life as of 2005-12-26. It was like a nuclear bomb went off. I don’t think I’ll ever “get over” the death of my mom. I don’t think anyone ever really does. She is the anchor, until she’s not.

But you learn to move on. By now, most days are fine, but once in a while, I’ll indulge the sadness and the memories for a minute. This dream had all of the emotions.

Mom would have loved to see the kids growing up.


Why yesterday was awesome

Yesterday was great. Know why?
“Yah, my dad’s pretty awesome.” – Max
“I like how awesome dad is. He helps me understand things.” – Khai


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Birthday

Presents:
Dad seems to be getting more lucid in hospital after a horrible start to the day
Hug from frazzled sister
Kisses from wifey erica
Day off and way cool instant understanding from boss.

Material presents:
1 plush ZIM doll
1 plush GIR-dog doll
1 set of Zim shoelaces
1 french press
1 espresso machine
3 4.5g scsi drives from Rachel/Mike
1 CD full of wierd al yankovich stuff from Justin/Bonnie
$100 from mom