Category Archives: Q’s Musings

Truthiness in Parenting

There are hundreds, even thousands of things those parenting books don’t bother to tell you about. Enough to fill a few books with, to be sure. The books all cover the basics, the things you would expect to need to expect. Few of them have broken ground to cover that which is unspoken truth, those things that parents hear at playgrounds or parties, and knowingly nod their heads as if to say, “Yep, happens to us too, and no-one ever bothered to tell us about it.”

Driving at 75 mph on a one lane road in the middle of Idaho with lots of oncoming traffic trying to make your flight on time is a bad time to learn yet another unspoken truth: your child will throw his bottle in the car. When you least expect it. Do not swerve.

Some other truths include: don’t waste money on toys; a steel bowl, wooden spoon and a box will last any toddler months. And, if it is going to break, it will break while your child is touching it. Or, your child’s behavior will be inversely proportional to your vested interest in the gathering. I could go on, but I wouldn’t want to ruin my book deal.

No shit, Sherlock

Without doubt, I am no uber-geek, but I know enough to get by at most San Francisco cocktail parties. I do about 95% of my own IT, and run a pretty tight ship when it comes to security on our home network. So when my Internet connection simply disappeared last week, I assumed it was Comcast.

I quickly established that it wasn’t our connection, but my desktop machine had lost all connectivity. In fact, something had hijacked my TCP/IP settings, had an open connection constantly flowing data, and was actively keeping me from logging on to the Internet. Looked like a virus, smelled like a virus, acted like a virus, must be a virus.

I ran through all of the steps that MajorGeeks recommend for sniffing out malware, a process that required over five hours of active scanning with four different programs, and came up empty-handed. I have a friend who used to work for ZoneAlarm, and he ran me through a barrage of tests to sniff the thing out. Nada.

I gave up and took my machine to Cosmic Computer in SF. Good guys, and all they could figure out was that something was burrowed deep in the registry, and had taken over the TCP/IP. They couldn’t ferret it out, so they were going to simply save all my data and re-install Windows. Ouch. This meant I’d be spending a few days re-installing the rest of my programs, resetting passwords, reconfiguring user profiles, etc. Yuck.

But I’d have all my data.

And then my buddy who used to work at ZoneAlarm calls me to tell me that a recent Microsoft Windows update completely disabled ZoneAlarm, and cut off access to the Internet. To top it off, it was a bug he had pointed out to them while he worked there, and they’d left unchecked.

Armed with this knowledge, David at Cosmic simply forcibly re-set my TCP/IP registry, and I was back in business. As soon as I got home and ran ZoneAlarm, this idiotic window popped up:

No shit, Sherlock. It’s the perfect Catch 22: If I really need this notice I’ll never be able to see it. If their firewall wasn’t free I’d want my money back.

Letting Go of Star Wars

Originally published August 23rd, 2012

Long before my son was born I had a plan for sharing Star Wars with him. Before I had met his mother (aka The Love of My Life), I had a vision of how I would share the journey through that universe far, far away.

I pictured how much fun it would be to see my child marvel at the size of the Death Star. How shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, he would be when they found out that Darth Vader is really Luke’s father. I was looking forward to the apprehension in his eyes during the first bass-heavy footfalls of the approaching AT-AT walkers.

In short, I wanted him to experience Star Wars the way I had.  Maybe even to grow to resent George Lucas the way that I do.

This whole plan was ruined in pre-school, when some other parents deemed the Star Wars universe appropriate for their then-four-year old son. He inevitably came to school and told my son all about the amazing story he’d been turned-on to. So much for my plan.

In one short afternoon my son went from 0 – 60, learning everything about the Death Star, the death of Obi Wan, Luke’s lineage and more. It would be easy to blame all of this on the other boy, or his parents; or the baby sitter who eventually told him the whole trilogy, shot-by-shot. But the truth is unless I was willing to show my son Star Wars at age 3 (I was not), or lock him away in a cave until age 7 (an inviting but unrealistic plan) he was going to learn all about it.

I wrestled with that long and hard, trying to come to grips with the fact that my Star Wars is not my son’s Star Wars. That out there, somewhere in the future, is a sci-fi or fantasy epic that will resonate so deeply with him he will want to share it with his kids. Provided he still wants kids after seeing what a snot-nosed punk Luke turns out to be.