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June 28, 2003


Our weekend thus far: Shannon was caught in paralyzing traffic on the way home from work Friday. Will would not go to sleep without a fight. Fatigue meant the cancellation of "relationship time" we both needed. Shannon awoke this morning rather sick. I had to miss the morning aikido class (for the fifth straight time!) to watch over Will at the doctor's. We left straight from there for her parents' lake house, whereupon we discovered that she was allergic to the prescribed medicine. We waited hours for a replacement prescription to be filled; in the meantime she took Benadryl to stave off the allergy symptoms, leaving her a drowsy ghost much of the day. On my way back from getting her new prescription, I came a little too close to the edge of the road, and my right rear-view mirror clipped a mailbox way too close to the edge of the road. When we finally left the lake house, my car key snapped. And when we finally got home, a message was waiting for us reminding us of a project for a best friend who's moving that we've missed a deadline on.

(pant pant pant)

Whoever gave us this weekend, we'd like to return it. It's not even Sunday yet, and I'm terrified of what that might bring.

June 25, 2003

Shifting Emphasis

It only happens extraordinarily rarely -- say, once every couple of years or so -- that I happen to notice a member of the opposite sex who is not my wife who is also attractive. Such notices are fleeting indeed, then I lapse back into the reverie that is my meditation on my wife's eternal beauty.

So that rare event happened at Applebee's this afternoon, while my co-workers and I waited for fifteen hours for our orders -- I filled out my customer comment card with bloody runes -- when I noticed across the restaurant a blonde woman wearing one of those summer skirt outfit thingees. "Ah," I said. "She is aesthetically pleasing."

Then I looked at her lunchtime companion. He was dark-haired and about two feet tall. He was holding onto her hand, walking with a slightly inexperienced stumble. He led her to the step between the bar section and the raised dining area, and plopped down to sit just like Will does on the step to the den.

For the next few minutes all I could do was sneak looks -- at the toddler. And think about my son. And about how both these kids are experiencing the rapid-firing of neurons and the first inclinations of "cause and effect."

As I titled my last entry, "I'm a Sucker." I'm surprised how enchanted I've become with childhood and children since Will was born. I've always liked children, but impending-fatherhood panic made me forget it. I relearned it real quick after January 21, 2002.

But for me to miss a prime scoping opportunity because I was too busy appreciating childhood?

Sucker about covers it.

June 24, 2003

I'm a Sucker

Shannon spent two successive nights up until 3:00 AM and finished the book on Sunday.

Last night I stayed up until 3:00 AM -- yes, reading Harry Potter as well.

Rowling has a damnable tendency to use chapter resolutions as jumping-off-points. After 2:00 I was desperate to find a stopping place, but no, she had to keep doing interesting s-word.

Speaking of interesting s-word, the Reduced Shakespeare Company did a hysterical two-minute abridgement of all the Great Books of Human Literature on last week's Weekend Edition Sunday on NPR. (There's no direct link; just scroll down the page.)

June 21, 2003

She's STILL Reading

It's 2 AM, and "just five chapters" of Harry Potter: The New Crack have become seven chapters and counting.

I made a suggestive...well, suggestion...and she said, "Trust me, you'd really rather I be thinking of you if we did that, wouldn't you?"

Thus put in my place, I'm going to sleep.

Big Plastic Glasses, Continued

She actually let me read the first chapter before she started.

Holy cow, does it start with a bang.

June 20, 2003

Big plastic glasses

Just got back from Barnes and Noble, where I picked up Shannon's ticket number so she'll be relatively early in line for her copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Which she's getting tonight. At midnight. In costume. Carrying a stuffed owl.

You may insert your own punch line.

I never saw so many kids of all ages and races wandering around with oversized black plastic "Harry" glasses (they were being handed out at the door). There was a sizable number of adults in pointy hats and scarves as well, and one cuuuute one year-old Asian girl in her mommy's arms, with a lightning bolt drawn on her forehead.

And then there was this really sleek twenty-something in a tank top with a Gryffyndor scarf around her neck -- oh, HI, Shannon! Um, put the paperweight down...



June 19, 2003

Pride and determination

It's been a while since I've had the time to blog. Shannon's taken a temporary summer job (for which part-time options were sadly scarce) so Will's in day care longer than we'd really care for each day for the next few weeks.

As I am inherently more dense than my wife (and she does spend more time with Young Master -- something which I'm working on) she tends to catch more of his developmental milestones. I was there for the first time he crawled (though in retrospect using my glasses as bait to encourage him wasn't terribly bright), and he took his first stumbling almost-steps toward me in Shannon's parents' den. That's about all I remember, while Shannon has everything meticulously catalogued, notarized and filed in her head.

Oh, yeah -- his first word was "kitty" and I was there for that as well.

Anyway, a couple of nights ago I was most definitely, vividly there and in the moment for another developmental milestone. There's a single step down from our kitchen to the den, and Will has always been fairly adept at steadying himself against the wall as he works his way down and back.

Shannon was on her computer, and I was watching Will when he stood in the center of the step, away from the walls on either side, and very cautiously, thoughtfully, stepped slooooowly down...

...and didn't fall. We clapped and cheered, and he ate up the adulation, of course.

That wasn't what stuck in my mind, though. Shannon resumed her computing. And I watched as Will turned around and immediately tried to walk back up the step, with much less trepidation. He couldn't quite pull himself up, and dropped to his knees. As I watched in amazement, he turned around, walked almost casually down the step, turned around again, and tried again. Stumble. Drop. Crawl. Turn. Step Down. Turn. Step Up. Stumble. Drop. Crawl. Turn. Step Down. Turn. Step Up. Stumble...

Over and over he tried, adding a little choreography by running across the kitchen, tagging the refrigerator, then coming back to the step to try again.

This was the first time I saw my son set his mind to something with the clear intention to "get something right." I could see the determination in his face. The gears were turning in his head. He was going to climb that step without using his hands. This was a challenge.

He finally figured it out last night. But I'm in awe of what I saw the night before: the further evolution of Will's personality. It's the kind of awe every parent feels when their child takes a first step, literally or metaphorically. But just because it's universal doesn't mean it's any less special when you see it.

June 3, 2003


Not only did Salam Pax actually exist contrary to speculation, but the Guardian has hired him.

June 1, 2003

Masters of Doom by David Kushner

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
by David Kushner
Random House, 2003

Just about everyone has heard of Doom, id Software's groundbreaking and controversial first-person shoot-'em-up. No one outside of the gaming community is likely to know the names "John Carmack" and "John Romero," id's co-founders.

That pretty much consigns Masters of Doom to the remainder piles in about six months or so. Gamers who keep up with the industry gossip on fan websites might feel like they already know everything in the book, and non-gamers aren't really given a reason to care by Kushner, someone too close to the culture to be an effective tour guide. And Kushner's book is sloppily edited, as well. People and companies such as DWANGO are introduced a couple of pages after having been casually referenced, and at least one paragraph is cut off at page's end.

All that said, Masters of Doom is an interesting historical look at the state of the PC gaming industry from the late '80s to today. You get to see a lot of technology being born, young programmers coping with success with dysfunctional hacker personalities, and a decent philosophical conflict between Art and Work Ethic. The political fallout from the Columbine and Paducah tragedies aren't explored as much as they might have -- as a gamer Kushner's biases are on the table -- but the business conflicts are engrossingly detailed, as are the psychology and sociology of game programmers, hackers, and twentysomethings hunched in computer labs shouting "Suck it down!" to their networked opponents.

Plus, a real-life battle axe is used to great effect.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in today's gamer culture, and especially to anyone already familiar enough to get the inside references.