Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Historical Perspective

The Koalid was born in 2014, which means that she will have a very different perspective of history than I do. I was thinking a bit about what will seem like ancient history to her.

So, to make you and me both feel old, lets consider some relative historical perspective.

I was 11 when the Gulf War was fought.
The Gulf War was 23 years before she was born.
27 years before I was born, the Korean War ended.

Reagan was sworn in the year I was born, 34 years before she was born.
That means that to her, Reagan will be like Truman was to me.

The Vietnam War ended 39 years before she was born.
World War II ended 35 years before I was born.
Vietnam will be as distant to her as WWII was to me.

To her, both the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations will be events that happened in previous centuries before her parents were born.

The rotary phone and the phone booth will be to her like the telegraph is to me.

She will grow up in a world where legal gay marriage is as well established as interracial marriage was when I grew up.

The last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired 20 years before she was born, meaning that to her, shows like Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Buffy will be like The Twilight Zone and Batman were to me.

My first car was from 1986, 18 years before she was born. 18 years before I was born, cars looked like this:

You may now feel old.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Early Connections

As I was approaching becoming a father, I was told that it would change my life, that I would know love as I had never known, that my daughter would be the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. What I saw was a noisy, demanding, smelly thing that interfered with all aspects of life. While I loved the concept of my daughter, in the event, I wasn't a huge fan of the actual baby.

Then, she started to smile, and I started to see that there was the beginnings of a person in there. In the last few weeks, the Koalid has begun to engage. Not in dramatic ways. She still mostly just flails, but now she smiles when she sees someone she recognizes. She makes cooing and adorable gurgling sounds. She makes happy sounds when she gets attention and is clearly experimenting with communication.

You see, I have no experience with children. I have seen them now and then, but I have never watched a child grow up, so when I look at a squalling baby, I just see a squalling baby. Of course, it also did not help that at the same time as I was dealing with said squalling baby, I faced some of the worst financial stress of my life.

But, now, the finances are coming together, the baby is starting to become more of a person, and I'm starting to see a bit of what all the fuss is about.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Words Are Delicious - Changing the Plan

In previous posts, I have alluded to the fact that I was well aware that I was making some presumptions and that I knew I would have to eat some of those words when the rubber hit the road.

I do not understand work. I understand attention.
Pay attention to me. Do it now!
One of the my assertions was that it was a good idea to work from home and take care of the Koalid. This makes sense in an idealized world where a baby needs stuff, then goes back to sleep and a prolonged state of not needing stuff.

This is not how babies are in the real world. First, sometimes they need stuff more often than one might expect. Second, as they age, they discover more stuff that they need. At first, they just need to be fed and changed, but as the Koalid is coming up on three months, she is discovering the desire to be held, looked at, and to otherwise have my attention. Of course, I do not mind giving her my attention, but when that attention comes at the cost of being able to do the work I need to do, she will soon have my attention in a tent in which we live in the woods because we cannot afford to pay rent.

We are also finding that, surprisingly, Amy is more maternal than I. I love the Koalid, but I don't feel the sense of longing when I am away from her that Amy does. I also find that I am highly deficient in the discipline of breast feeding. My man boobs produce no milk. So, a plan that involves me staying home with the Koalid and trying (and mostly failing) to do consulting work while Amy works full time makes less and less sense.

You thought it would be a good idea to watch me and work?
I can't differentiate my hands from my feet, and I can tell
that's a sketchy proposition.
So, we are changing course in our plans to take care of the Koalid. It is not as important to avoid
being wrong as to recognize when one is wrong and to take all immediate steps to correct it. Through a combination of good luck and talent, I have been recruited for a new job which I expect will work out quite well for me. Of course, the Koalid will be in day care, as both Amy and I work, but if all goes well, Amy might be able to go to part time in the future and spend more time with the Koalid.

This all goes into action on Monday, and everyone is quite excited about it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


A friend of mine shared this link in which Alfie Kohn discusses the idea that verbal praise replaces the satisfaction of task completed for a child. While interesting, it does not ring true for me as a parent. It does, however get me thinking about the concept of praise.

There are a few different ways to praise. One way is to praise only for success. The downside to this is that the child may come to believe that she is only loved when she is successful and that her parent's love is conditional.

In a game in which no one can
win, everyone loses.
Another concept is to praise effort, but that the idea of "good job trying really hard" smacks of "you're not good enough to succeed, but you gave it your best, and that's good," so that doesn't seem like a great strategy either.

Let's go back to what the goal is. There are two goals as I see it here: one goal is that the Koalid will grow up happy. The other is the that the Koalid will grow up to be successful in her chosen field of endeavor.

Knowing that she is loved unconditionally and that we, her parents, will always be here for her as long as we draw breath is very important to being happy. But love and esteem are different concepts. If the Koalid turns out to be a failure at everything she tries and becomes a lazy bum, I will still love her, but I will not respect her. I want her never to doubt my love and support, but I feel that there is nothing wrong with her feeling that she needs to earn my esteem.

Not necessary for love, but would
earn esteem.
This does not mean that I expect her to win a Nobel Prize before she is old enough to drink. I will be proud at every achievement. When she learns to walk, she will earn my esteem. When she learns to multiply, she will earn my esteem. When she scores the winning touchdown before heading home to work on her award winning science fair project in which she reveals the cure for cancer, she will earn my esteem.

There will be times when I may say to her "You know I love you, I will always love you, and I will always be here for you, but you really blew it this time." And this brings me to the strategy I believe I will employ: explicitly telling her often that I love her and will be there for her so long as I can, but also letting her know that while my love is unconditional, my praise is not.

This may seem a bit harsh, but one thing I have seen has a theme in biographies is that many successful people have done so seeking the esteem of a parent, usually a father. I have no intention of being a harsh or distant figure, but I also do not want to lead her to believe that life is so simple that all she has to do is show up.

Life is hard, success takes work, and teaching her anything different is doing a great disservice.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Late Night Koalid

Every night between midnight and 1 AM or so, I get up. Newborns don't sleep more than 3 hours or so, and when they wake up they need to be changed and fed. When I first envisioned this, I assumed this meant getting up, taking care of things, then going back to sleep.

The Koalid being cute and awake,
which she has been doing much
of tonight.
In fact, the Koalid is never done with her ablutions in less than an hour, and two hours is not unreasonable. So, I quickly gave up the idea of trying to feed her and get back to bed. Instead, I now go to bed earlier so that when it is time to take the night shift, I get up, take the Koalid in the other room, put something on Netflix (for a while it was Voyager, but I'm quite enjoying The West Wing lately) and maybe get some work done on the computer. The trick is that Amy goes to work for 9 AM, so if the Koalid gets back to sleep early enough, then she'll wake up before Amy leaves for work and Amy can take care of her. If I miss that window, which I likely will tonight, then she'll wake up too late for Amy to take care of her, and I'll get the three hours that she sleeps before I have to get up.

As I was looking at her adorable, fussy face tonight it got me thinking. Within the next few months, she'll start sleeping through the night, but I'm sure this won't be the last time she needs me at 4 AM. Maybe she'll have a bad dream and I'll have to reassure her that there are no monsters in her closet. Maybe some night we'll be up late discussing the mysteries of life... or maybe just some topic of geeky interest. And, I'm sure there will be late night talks about boys (or girls) and why they are so stupid.

Perhaps she will need me in other ways in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe one day I'll get a call at 4 AM saying she needs me to pick her up. Maybe she's at a party she doesn't want to be at, or her ride is drunk. Then, as now, Dad will be on duty and will rush to the aid of my Koalid, because no matter how big she gets, her father will always be ready to get up in the wee hours to help her... just hopefully less often as time goes on.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Can't Wait to Meet Her

During the last few weeks of pregnancy, Amy would say that she could not wait to meet the Koalid. She looked forward to seeing what she looked like and getting to hold her. Naturally, I felt this same excitement.

The Koalid next to our smallest cat.
However, as we have gone through our first month of parenthood, I feel that I am still saying "I can't wait to meet her." What do I mean by this? Of course, I have met her. She's right here, all the time. But I do not feel I have met my daughter. I have met the newborn which will grow to become my daughter. The first month of life of a newborn could be thought of as the 10th month of gestation. She does not respond to external stimuli. She does not interact. She simply gives cues of hunger and other needs so that we may fulfill them in order for her to continue her growth and development. It is like incubating a particularly demanding egg.

Of course, most people would never say such a thing. First, to say anything about ones child other than "she's perfect" and the like is considered uncouth. Additionally, most people are quite taken with the cuteness of the baby and don't notice the complete lack of interaction. Since the part of my brain that is overcome by baby cuteness appear not to function properly, I notice that this process is like getting a computer loaded with installation files but no functioning software... if the computer required a few months to get everything loaded... and occasionally pooped on you.

I know that she will be an amazing, beautiful, funny, kind, lovely girl and woman. She's not there yet, but she will be soon, and I can't wait to meet her.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Seige

As I prepared for the arrival of the Koalid, I was ready for many things. I learned the basics of diapering, feeding, burping, and as individual challenges I was quite up to them. However, like many things we do in life, the difficulty is not in the individual elements once or twice. Running a marathon is just putting one foot in front of another. What makes it hard is doing so 34,000 times.

Being up all night once, watching Star Trek: Voyager, and periodically feeding and changing a baby is exciting and not overly taxing. But then there is the second night, the third, the tenth. After two weeks of sleeping no more than 4 hours at a time, being awakened by screaming baby, it starts to wear.
This is what the Koalid looked like
for about 12 seconds last night.

Eventually, one gets to learn the rhythm of the baby. She is sleeping less and less each night, but sleeps quite a bit in the morning. The challenge is not that it's difficult to figure out the rhythm, it's that it's difficult to solve simple problems when running on little sleep, with a baby crying, and all the rest. It gets to be like juggling while tightrope walking in a windstorm.

I am also learning a bit about sleep and the lack thereof. Staying up all night is not nearly as hard as trying to sleep four times and being woken within 15 minutes each time. Each time you start to sleep and are awoken, you wake up a little groggier until simple tasks become complicated and difficult. So, the solution appears to be not to try to sleep until the baby is securely asleep and will be sleeping for a while. It's a very challenging game of endurance and fortitude.

As I write this, I have gotten a good chunk of sleep in the morning and the Koalid is asleep, so I'm feeling pretty solid, which is good because there are other things I have to do besides watch a baby, like create a non-profit book store.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Lesson From A Baby: Pause to Look Around

There is something that I noticed the Koalid doing which I realized many people could take a lesson from. As you know, babies tend to overreact to everything. A little hungry? Scream. A little cold? Scream. Wet diaper? Scream.

This baby is clearly up to no good.
However, babies are also distractable. In the middle of a great barrage of crying and screaming, the baby may suddenly notice something: a sound, a sight, being moved. For a moment, the baby will stop crying and investigate, as much as her baby senses allow. Of course, she will determine that the new thing is not as interesting as whatever is distracting her, and return to crying.

This is an effective thing to know with a baby. When mom is getting the bottle ready, I can do some things to distract her for a moment. I think she does this because, if for example she is hungry, she needs to stop crying to eat.

There is also a valuable lesson for adults. How often have you seen someone be so busy complaining about what upsets them that they do not notice something good happening? Even worse, sometimes a person will be so busy complaining about a problem that they don't notice that the solution to that very problem is being presented to them.

The next time that you find yourself focused on a problem and how bad it is, take a lesson from a newborn. Pause to be distracted by what is around you. You never know when the solution might be there if you stop focusing on the problem long enough to notice it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Two Parents, One Baby: Sharing Work With Love

My wife is amazing. If I let her, she would do everything herself: feeding and caring for the baby, cleaning the
house, cooking, working, and probably fighting crime in her spare time. Her outsized sense of duty would likely make her run herself to exhaustion, then to feel bad in her hospital bed because she couldn't do more. This is why it is my job to make sure that she doesn't do as much as she thinks she should.

This post was typed one handed because the Koalid would
only sleep while in my arms.
I am writing this around 6 AM, which is not a time that I get up when left to my own devices. However, around 1:30, a certain Koalid woke up hungry. I handed the hungry baby to the parent with the functioning, milk-producing breasts and returned to sleep. At 5:30, I woke up again to find that Amy had been running a marathon of feeding and changing for the past four hours. The Koalid was crying and wailing. I did not know when I woke up that Amy had been at it for four hours, but I could tell she was fatigued, so I took the Koalid and had Amy get me a bottle so I could feed her. She took the bottle and calmed down somewhat.

Now, here is the amazing part. Amy, who went to sleep at 12:30 and got up at 1:30 when the Koalid started crying, felt bad that she had, in her words, "dumped the baby" on me at 5:30 because I, who also went to sleep at 12:30, hadn't gotten much sleep either.

At its core, taking care of a baby as not terribly difficult. You feed. You burp. You change. You make sure she doesn't fall into couch cushions. The complexity is that you must do this 24 hours a day with no break longer than 135 minutes. This is why parenting is ideally a two or more person job.

There are two basic ways that you can share duties. You can do it by each person worrying about themselves and their own needs or you can do it by each person worrying about the other's needs. In both cases, the work ends up being split somewhat equally, but in the latter, it is much less contentious and more loving.

Looking for a good cute baby image to indicate you
approve? Why not this adorable thumbs up baby?
If we were each worrying about ourselves this morning, Amy would have woken me up saying "it's your turn." And I might have grudgingly taken her, objecting that I had already done thus and such. In time bitterness develops, both towards the partner who may or may not be pulling their weight and towards the baby who causes all this work.

The much more pleasant alternative which Amy and I have chosen, is to each worry about the other. I woke up because I heard the Koalid's cries, and, once awake, I sensed Amy's frustration. I forced blood into my brain and offered to take the baby, not because it was my turn or because Amy expected me to, but because I knew Amy was out of steam and needed to be relieved. I can do this because I know that she feels a similar duty to take over for me when I am spent. Further, taking on her burdens feels like an act of love rather than an act of duty or capitulation.

Our division of labor is equitable, but we do not waste energy on resentment at doing work which is not "our job". Instead, we feel love for each other and the Koalid as we work together, growing closer and doing what must be done as a family.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Everything Will Be Different?

One of the things that I have heard again and again is that everything will be different now that I have a daughter. The long version is something like "You won't be able to do what you like to do, you won't be able to sleep, you won't get to eat well, you will not get good time with your wife. Oh, and it's worth it or something for some reason."

The great advantage of having a first child at an older age such as mine is that I have done more. When one has a child at 22, they still have all manner of things they wish to do in life. Perhaps education is still in progress. They are trying to develop a career. They want to hang out with friends and go out.
People claim to read the Koalid Blog for the articles, but I
know that in reality, they do it for the pictures of babes.

At 34, I've been there and done that. My degree is well and completed. I've owned a business. I've done many things to be proud of and plenty of things not to be proud of. When the Koalid was announced, I realized that I had already done most of the things I really wanted to do. Having a child was the next great adventure. It wasn't a distraction from what I wanted to do. It was what I wanted to do.

In December, I parted ways with the Volkswagen dealership I was working for, and after a brief stint in January with another company, I realized that any job I might be qualified for would be the kind of job with long, night and weekend hours. If the Koalid was truly to be my priority, then I could not be working nights and weekends. I considered my resources and decided to make a go at building my own business that I could work from home so I could take care of the baby and work at the same time.

I've been working from home since February, so, in some ways, the transition was not dramatic except for the fact that rather than being at home alone most of the time, I am now home with my daughter and recovering wife. Indeed, for the past few days, I have gotten a lot less done than before the Koalid was here, but, since the business exists to accommodate the Koalid, one cannot really be upset about that.

Those yellow trucks in the background are tree trimmers with
chainsaws. LOUD chainsaws. In the foreground, is the
Koalid blissfully sleeping next to the chainsaws.

I have enjoyed life more since we have come home from the Hospital than the previous few months. This is not because of some vague fatherly euphoria. (As I mentioned in my last post, I don't really have that sense of fatherly awe.) It is because these last few days have just been nice. The baby has given me a focus for my activity and attention. Far from having less time with Amy, she has been much more attentive, and the time we have spent together these last few days has been wonderful. We are really bonding as a family in a way that was very difficult while she was still pregnant, grumpy, exhausted, working and uncomfortable all the time.

We have had time to sit on the couch, she and I and the baby often sleep on one of us. We have talked. We have worked side by side, teaming up and watching out for each other. Both Amy and I are making sure that the other is sleeping and eating enough, as much as possible. I'm keeping an eye on her to make sure that she doesn't overexert herself as she recovers from her C-section, and she wants to make sure that I am adjusting well to my new daddy role.

As for social life? I haven't gone out much in quite a while. Much of that changed when I moved to Connecticut. I am, however, a very social person. Thanks to the Koalid, everyone wants to hear about her, see pictures of her, talk about her. As someone who loves to talk to people, I'm more than happy to field that attention.

Are things dramatically different than they were two weeks ago? Yes and no, but all the differences are better.

Besides, I was ready for this. I practiced with cats.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So It Begins

New dad and new Koalid
The Koalid was born last Thursday, and now it is time to find out if all that stuff I've been chattering about for the past 9 months has any bearing to reality.

It has taken almost a week to get this post up because...well...I have this new baby keeping me very busy.

Pride and Joy
First, let me talk a moment about the expectations I was led to by others. If you read the writings of fathers, they will say that having a baby changed their life and their outlook on the world. They will tell you that as soon as they looked upon the faces of their beautiful, perfect children, nothing would ever be the same. They saw that baby as the most beautiful thing in the world and felt a swell of pride.

Yeah. Didn't get that.

Let me be clear before I go on that I love my daughter and will do anything to raise her as a happy, healthy person. She is my greatest priority.

I'm not a baby person. I don't generally think pictures of babies are cute. I get more of a rise out of holding a cat than someone else's baby. However, I was thinking perhaps that the fact that she is mine would make be respond differently. When she came out, I looked at her and observed that she was a funny looking, red, squirmy thing. I knew that she was my funny looking, red, squirmy thing, and that I would do anything for her, but there was no great swell of pride, no angels sang, no lights shone down from heaven.

Many men speak of a feeling of pride and virility. "I made this beautiful thing!" they proclaim. Maybe I'm less sentimental or just more rational, but I feel no great sense of accomplishment at having made a baby. Maybe it's that I spend the previous 18 years very diligently not making a baby that made it unexciting. I simply stopped doing the things I'd been doing to not make a baby, and made a baby.

Meet Amy, my amazing and beautiful wife who is really the
one who should feel proud of this amazing child.
I am proud of Amy for doing everything for 9 months to make a healthy, beautiful, perfect, 9/10 on the APGAR baby. She did all the hard work. She took care of herself to take care of the Koalid, and she is the one who can really be credited for the Koalid's perfection.

Reading the Baby
As we approached having a baby, I was doing research and also plumbing the depths of my personal experience and instincts. All these things told me that, while the baby fundamentally has very few indicators, I should be able to determine what that limited data stream is telling me. My theory was that I should rarely have a situation of an upset baby and the frustration of not knowing what the baby wants as long as I am open minded and engaged with the Koalid.

When the baby came out, and after all the weights and measures, she was swaddled and handed to me. Once she calmed down from the shock of birth, she began to give rooting signs, the signs that a baby wishes to feed. I was very proud that I was able to recognize them, and I immediately knew: this baby wants to nurse! I'm a genius!

Baby's first hockey stick.
I was also powerless to do anything about it because she was delivered C-section, and it took about 90 minutes for the nurses to deal with some routine complications and get Amy to the point where she was able to nurse the baby.

Over the following week, I have continued to feel fairly confident that I could read the Koalid's cues.

Feeding the Baby
I expected that I might have many challenges. I was concerned about being able to change diapers (not a problem, as it turns out, see below). I was worried that we would never be able to sleep.

One thing I was not worried about was feeding the baby. That seemed pretty simple. Put nipple (breast or bottle) into mouth, wait, burp. Then, we discovered certain things: mom's milk does not come in as soon as baby does. (That's why babies are born pudgy, do hold them over until mom can feed them.) Also, when baby first breast feeds, it hurts quite considerably. So, I'm sure that once Amy gets used to feeding, it will be as simple as put breast in mouth, but in the meantime it has been a logistical challenge of breast feeding, breast pumping, and supplementary formula.

I am a diaper ninja. I had only ever put two diapers on prior to the Koalid being born: one on a friend's baby (hi, Abby) and one on a doll at the Baby Care Class. However, when it came time to diaper the Koalid, all became clear. I joked that I was ready for a baby because I practiced with cats, being about the same size. I thought it was a total joke, but, as it turns out, dealing with a wriggling cat is very similar to dealing with a wriggling baby. You have to be able to anticipate their movements based on awareness of their anatomy and the pre-movements of their body.

I can now anticipate her kicks and have the new diaper on her in seconds. She does not like the process, but she loves the cuddle she gets afterwards, and that is one of the best experiences so far. I pick her up, still crying, and place her against my shoulder. The crying tapers off, and she snuggles in... moments before rooting around trying to figure out why I don't have a breast for her to feed on.

Getting the Koalid started early in the family business.
Being Ready
Everyone said "You're never ready for a baby. It changes everything!" Maybe it's because when I started this process, I decided that I had already done what I set out to do, and now my next great adventure was this child. I adjusted my career plan to work with a child. Last week, I declared that I was ready. Now that she is here, still feel ready. Sure, there are some details to work out: financial details, logistics of who sleeps when and where, things like that. But as for as the Koalid goes, still feeling ready.

As I mentioned before, I didn't get the whole googly eyed reaction. However, as the first week has passed, I have found growing love for this adorable thing. I still think she's a little funny looking now and then, but so are all babies. She does, however, make the most adorable faces...especially when she's pooping.

I love this little Koalid, and I intend to do everything I can do to do right by her.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Now and then, I see a flurry of posts on Facebook about "We're going to the hospital to deliver." "The baby was born." "Yay baby!" Of course, because this is Facebook, the posts come in out of order and over a few days after the event. So, I decided that I'd take a different approach to Facebooking the process: posting as though I were at a convention BabyCon!

Here is the assembled archive of posts for #BabyCon

The comments on this one were very meta, so I felt I should include them in the archive

No, she's not giving the shocker. That is the ring finger down. This is something else.

What is that awesome game that the Koalid is displaying? That's ConCardia. You should check it out. It's awesome!

And there were some rave reviews from out there in Facebook land for BabyCon...

We now return to our regularly scheduled serious and introspective posts... or more cute baby pictures, depending on how the Koalid decides it should go.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Impending Birth: Thinking Back to When I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know

Amy is going to be induced on Thursday because they are concerned about her blood pressure. The baby appears healthy, and we have been given no reason to worry. However, it does mean that the Koalid is coming imminently. Prior to induction, they give a treatment once a day for three days, and, in many women, this treatment itlself jumpstarts labor. The first treatment is tonight, so sometime between tomorrow and Friday it is highly likely I will be a father.

There is a great scene in the 1996 movie Independence Day when David Levinson, played by Jeff Goldblum, is on his way to the alien spacecraft to implant the virus and save the world. The plan is set, everything is committed, and it's the moment of waiting to see if it will all come together. Goldblum starts saying, in his uniquely Goldblum way, "Oh, boy. Oh, boy. What was I thinking?"

This scene has resonated for me a number of times in my life, and especially now. Over the past 9 months, I have researched, read, experienced, and prepared for the arrival of the Koalid. I have thought about how I will raise her, teach her, prepare and protect her. Now she is almost here. I try to recall what I have read, and sometimes my mind comes back to me with "we read something?" I know it's just the jitters that come right before the big moment, but there it is.

When I was 22, I graduated college and opened a game store. I got a little advice here and there, but I really didn't know my ass from my elbow. I didn't know what I didn't know. Most importantly, I didn't know what I couldn't do. In fact, I believed that my lack of knowledge of what wasn't possible was one of my greatest assets, and perhaps I was right. I set out to create a center of community, a resource for geeks. I thought I was setting out to build a successful business, but that's really just what I told myself to justify what I was really trying to do. Ultimately, through the successor organization to that original store, that goal has been realized, going strong, 12 years after its original inception.

However, I have also faced painful, harsh lessons in what I cannot do. I could not make a living running Phoenix Games. In 2010, I arrogantly stepped into the role of breadwinner for two without any background to support the believe I could do this, and I failed. In 2007, I discovered the limits of my powers of visualization as in one year, I closed Phoenix Games, was removed from leadership of the RHPS cast I founded, was ousted from staff of Pi-Con which I created, and ended a 5 year relationship.

I have heard it said that life runs in 7 year cycles, each stage of life approximately 7 years long. Although those stages are different for everyone, the breakdown for me into such increments has been quite robust. 20-26 was a time of unbridled optimism, telling people not to make me look down because as long as I didn't know the cliff wasn't there, I would never fall.

27-33 was the period of rebuilding and learning after I looked down. I did not know where I was going or what I would do for a long time. I tried a few things and learned many things. Much of it was epistemological in itself: learning that many things I thought I knew were mere conceits on my part, as well as learning that during my travels I had managed to, almost without realizing it, amass experience and connections and relationships that could build my life going forward.

This past January, I had the good fortune to work briefly for a man name Howard Greenspan. He built a small online Pokemon store in 1998 into a business doing more than $50 million in revenues last year. At one point, I called him a genius, and he rejected it. He refuses to think of himself as a genius or in any way gifted. He believes that to think of oneself in such terms is to cease to strive and struggle. If you think you are good, you don't work as hard. If you think you are passable, you work harder, and, in so doing, will surpass the one who thinks he is "great" every time.

In 2002, I thought of myself as a genius, and I believed that I would win. As such, I did not fight as hard as I could. I was not focused on what I needed to focus on. In 2007, I thought I was a genius, and I was baffled as to why things fell apart. In 2008, I began to learn that being a genius is good for getting Mensa membership and solving Sudoku puzzles. In 2014, I finally put it together that genius is a tool, like charisma or physical strength or artistic ability, which can be employed by a motivated and properly directed individual to achieve success. However, like a power tool lying on a bench, if genius is not put to use with effort and strategy, it is good for little.

Today, I hope I understand how little I know. I understand that this Koalid will count on me, and that I do not have the luxury of indulging in conceit. Very soon, I will be called upon to us everything I have learned and done to raise her to give her the best life I possibly can. This means using everything at my disposal to build my business so as to support and educate her as well as using everything I have to care for her, teach her, love her, and raise her right.

She's coming, and I'm ready.

Monday, July 7, 2014

To Those Who Would Try to Hook Up With My Daughter

This morning, I saw a link to an article on the pick up artist web site Return Of Kings. The article was about picking up women at an anime convention. It was, as most things on that site are, disgusting and offensive. It was also just plain bad advice, more effective for being banned from an event than for achieving an objective.

It got me thinking, as such things do, of the Koalid. Sometime around 2032 or so, she'll be coming into the world of relationships. Some of these might be more serious and others might be more... ephemeral. Most men, of course, thinking of their little girl with those beasts who call themselves men grit their teeth in rage. Many explain this reaction by saying "I used to be a young man, and I know what they do and what they want."

However, the world of 2030 will not be like the world of 1930. Our society is open, permissive. People explore their sexuality, find what they like, and engage in it. I have no doubt that she will explore in the same way I did, the same way her mother did, the same way most of my readers did. All I want is that this exploration be safe and that those with whom she engages in it are respectful.

So, to the men who might like to hook up with my daughter (in the future, she's a bit young now, that's creepy)...

So, you are interested in my daughter for prurient reasons. That is entirely understandable. I know that she is beautiful, because she is the offspring of myself and her mother. I know she carries herself well, is funny, intelligent, and dresses well (that's her mother's doing). But, being a young man, perhaps there is only one thing you are interested in out of the panoply of wonderful traits that comprise her. Well, then I ask you, are you honest with her or are you manipulating her emotions? Are you respectful? Do you see her as a person with needs, wants, and desires or do you see her as a thing to satisfy your wants? Do you respect her boundaries?

If you are honest, if you are respectful, if you are gentile and gentlemanly, and she chooses to engage in activities with you, then you have nothing to fear from me. I am her to teach her, to love her, to support her, and to guide her, but not to interfere or judge. I do not want her to have to hide what she does from me, because if she does, how can I be there to advise and guide her? She makes her choices, and you are a very lucky man if she chooses you, even for a casual engagement.

However, if you are a pick up artist, if you see women as objects to satisfy your lust, if you manipulate her, trick her, or otherwise disrespect her, then, son, you and I are in conflict. You will come to understand what the stereotypical angry father. I do not make her hide things from me, so I will find out about you. I would not lay a hand on you. That is not my way. However, you would come to know that actions have consequences in ways that only a creative mind can devise.

Let us take one brief step to consider the unthinkable. If you force yourself on her, then you need only consider two questions: how fast can you run and how deep a hole can you find to hide in?

But, enough of this tough talk. You're not going have to worry about running and hiding in holes because you will treat her right. Whether you are angling for a lifetime together or a night together, you will be honest, respectful, and gentlemanly, won't you? Good, glad to hear it.

Be safe. Have fun. If you hurt her, I'll kill you.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Father's Love

I read this article this morning about a man who died protecting his daughter during a tornado, and it got me thinking. When I read stories in the media that involve young women, my perspective has changed from that of peer to father. When I read a story of a girl who is hurt, such as the story of the teen who stabbed a girl in Milford, previously, my natural perspective would have been that of a fellow student, but now I identify with the father of the girl.

You want to get to her, tornado? You've got to get through
me first!
When I read the article about the man who protected his daughter from the tornado, I think, "I would do that without a second thought because I love my daughter." But I've never met my daughter, which brings an interesting perspective.

I am no stranger to love in the romantic sense, but that is a conditional form of love, based on personality, behavior, appearance, etc. A father's love, I am finding, is an unconditional love. I don't know what the Koalid looks like (or will look like), what her personality is like or anything about her, other than the fact that she seems to have a heart and at least most of the bones she is supposed to have. Yet, I am already willing to put myself between a tornado and her to keep her safe if it came to that.

Obviously, this is an adaptive trait. We are hardwired to love and protect our children. They are our genetic and memetic legacy. This makes it all the more mind blowing when I think of men who abuse, neglect, or abandon their children. How damaged must someone be to overcome the natural love that a child invokes.

There is definitely an ethos is our current culture which, while encouraging people to get in touch with every weakness and sadness within them, teaches us to deny our instincts and the joy that the natural world brings us. In fact, many non-parents reading this, if they have gotten this far, will grumble about this over sentimentality that I am expressing here.

This article from the Huffpost blog captures it well. It is called 100 Reasons Not to Have Kids (That I Discovered After I Had One). Of course, many of her reasons would be obviated by being a better parent. For example: 29-31 are: "You prefer your iPhone screen to be smudge-free. You prefer your iPhone screen to be free of any kind of stickiness. You care about your iPhone or iPad at all." Touch screen devices, especially games, are inherently addictive by design. Why would you allow a small child to use them?

96 and 97 are "You feel negotiations should only occur between adults." and "You think bribery is unethical and has led to the downfall of many societies." Bribery is unethical, and I will not engage in it. It teaches improper lessons and sets bad habits. I will negotiate, but only on those topics which are negotiable.

If Ms. Joshi's list rings true for you, don't have children. You are not ready for the incredible joy which for which I am preparing. Don't worry. You'll understand when you're older.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Raising a Child in a Declining America

America is a great and mighty nation, and it stands for wonderful things like liberty and opportunity. America today is not as great as it was in the past and it is greater than it will be in the future. That's decline.

This is not to say that we should all dig bomb shelters and stock canned goods. We aren't on the way to some lawless social collapse. Great Britain declined in the 1800s and went from an empire on which the sun never set in 1770 to America's much loved, goofy cousin in 1990 (and is on their way to surpassing us once again today). England is certainly not a bad place to be, but their time on top of the world has well passed.

An article in today's New York Times explains that the American middle class is no longer the most affluent in the world. The Europeans and the Canadians are surpassing us. We can no longer take it for granted that our economy will grow for everyone and that each generation will do better than the one before.

Such decline is natural in the way of nations. The things that make a nation great also lay the groundwork for decline. Accumulation of wealth and power creates an environment in which the ambitious seek to accumulate more and more for themselves. The stability of the society removes the existential need to put the national interest above your own. 100 years ago, although there were still greedy, shady people in America, there was the need to keep the big picture in mind. The world was a scary place full of potential enemies who could do far more than destroy a building or two. Today, no two other countries together could challenge us militarily and this perception of security allows certain people to put themselves ahead of the national interest.

This is simple a fact and one that should be considered. The Koalid will be born in three months That is also a fact.

A lot of people facing those two facts might despair. Woe are we, the Koalid will not have the opportunities I had. Boo hoo.

Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: 'In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college.' - Joseph Sobran.In the poorest places, there are people at the top doing well. In the richest places, there are people at the bottom doing poorly. There is opportunity everywhere, especially in America, and even in declining America.

In America, education is getting worse and worse as a certain e-card I recently saw online laments. Some parents would despair that their children will be ill-prepared. I see this situation and determine to make sure that the Koalid is educated in all ways, with academic as well as social and business skills.

Real wages for American working people have declined. No longer can a young person just go to the local factory and get a good job that will support their family to retirement. Well, I guess that means the Koalid will not be working at a factory. She will, however, due to her education and preparation be ready to face whatever is in front of a young person in 2032, to identify the opportunities which exist and to seize them.

A nation in which we have lost the spirit of exploration and innovation is not ideal, but for a young person who has been raised to preserve the entrepreneurial instinct, it is a land full of opportunity. The next 100 years in America will be rough on the average person. Thus, it is all the more important that the Koalid is above average. She become so by divine providence (although faith in God will hopefully help her), but by planning and preparation: the same recipe that has lead to success since the dawn of time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I have always been the kind of person who likes to have an overriding purpose. When I ran Phoenix Games, all efforts were directed towards that project. When I worked for American Income Life, that was my primary purpose. So, when the release date for the Koalid was announced, it was clear what my new driving purpose would be.

Phoenix Games, my first offspring:
900 square feet of
amazing community.
Everyone says that everything changes when you have kids, and that you have new priorities, but I see so many parents who can't seem to find time to give the kids the attention they need. While they are a priority, they have to make room around other priorities.

Everything I have focused on previously has had some aspect of improving things for someone. Phoenix Games was built around creating a community that benefited all those associated with it. An incremental benefit for many people.

Now I have the opportunity to make a fantastic, tremendous, total difference for one person. The choices I make, the resources I dedicate, the lessons I teach will mold and create a whole person. Of course, this would now be my near total focus. What other priority could possibly have such potential.

Given this, why doesn't every parent give total dedication to their children? I believe that there are two answers: the first answer is that they still have goals they have not reached and the child must compete with those. I am fortunate to be at a place in life where I have already done many amazing things, and there is nothing that I feel is incomplete. I am ready for the next great priority.

The second answer is that they don't know what to do. They do not know exactly what the goal is in raising a child, and even if they do, they don't know how to get there. Give them too much attention, they could become spoiled or dependent. Drive them for success too much and they could become burnt out and rebel. And the instant feedback is of no use because children often rebel at doing what is best for them.

Beautiful, but not my source of faith in God.
I have a deep faith in God because I see evidence of His work in my life. I don't mean the beauty of the trees and the flowers. I mean coming to a place in life and realizing that entirely without my knowledge or effort, I have been prepared with the tools I would need to meet this challenge for years in advance.

This is one of those cases. Over the past few years, the road of life has pushed me in a way that gave me the skills for my current professional endeavor, providing me knowledge of persuasion, training, and motivation. Fantastic skills for a business consultant. In my work, I help business people to identify and achieve their goals, not mine. Understanding their needs and what they are trying to do, I select my skills that can help them to be successful.

Sound like anything else I'm preparing to do?

I don't know what the Koalid will want to do with her life, but I intend to develop my skills to help her exploit whichever talents she chooses to pursue. What other project could possibly be as engaging as this?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Oh! That'll Be Trouble: Daughters and Sexuality

We now know that the Koalid is a girl, and, while I am trying to avoid people buying her lots of pink frilly things and dollies, I do tell people that she is a girl when they ask. Some of them give an answer along the lines of: "Oh! That'll be trouble!"

Obviously, they do not mean that little girls are harder to raise than boys. The conventional wisdom is that girls are better behaved that boys. What they mean is that someday, my little girl will discover boys and hormones, and then I'll be in trouble! I'll be up against those sneaky, nasty, conniving boys who are scheming to defile my daughter and steal her virtue.

I generally hold my tongue because my extensive knowledge of sales strategy teaches me that telling people that their thinking is idiotic and outdated is a poor way to keep friends.

The Koalid will be born in 2014, not 1814. I had my first sexual experience just shy of 16, which is fairly common. Unfortunately, also fairly common (although fortunately not my experience), too many of these young lovers, especially girls, are exploring this new realm in isolation from their families. They have been given cursory sexual education and generally are forbidden to do it. Of course, whether their parents want them to or not, the teens will find ways to explore their sexuality.

As a parent, there are two choices: force the teen to explore their sexuality without the benefit of parental experience and guidance, or be there to educate, support, and protect them as they explore. The third choice of preventing it from happening is a fools paradise. Even if a parent does manage to keep the teen from ever engaging in sexual activity while in high school, they are simply pushing the behavior to college years, with a few years of extra built up anticipation to put a bit of urgency to the exploration.

I am not afraid of this part of the Koalid's development as I am not afraid of any other part of her development. She will be taught to be confident and strong. She will not only be taught the basics of safer sex, but she will be taught the significance of sex. Not just some Disney version of perfect romance leading to perfect physical love, but the fact that it is an intense and intimate experience between two people, and that everyone experiences it differently and has different desires. She will be taught that no desire is improper as long as the expression of that desire is done in consideration of the needs and wants of all involved, as well as safety. She will be taught to express herself and her desires (or lack of desires) with confidence and without fear. She will be taught that she has the right to say no and that her lover has the obligation to abide by that. She will also be taught that she has the right to know what she wants and to ask for it.

I will not be the father who meets the date at the door and warns him to keep his hands to himself. I will be the father who raises a daughter who is strong enough to know whose hands she wants where and be able to deal with hands that go where they should not.

That said, I should make clear that for any boy who would choose to hurt by daughter for his own desires: the range, depth, and breadth of ways to bring Hell on Earth to an individual without significantly running afoul of the law are limited only by the dedication and creativity of the father of the girl you wronged. When motivated, I am very dedicated and creative.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Teenage Years as a Beta Test Period

In the last post, I discussed the idea of strategically educating a child to prepare for success. Let us now explore how this educational strategy can survive the challenges of adolescence. My mother referred to that the teenage years as the "alien period". When I was 14, she says, I was replaced with an angry, practically unintelligible alien, to be returned at 19 with a pleasant, well mannered young man.

That is a valid point, adolescence is a time of pulling away, exploration, and independence, but not necessarily a time of alienation. I believe, based on some research and considerable anecdotal experience, that the most severe adolescent conflicts are caused by the unexpected transition from obedient and respectful child to adventurous, curious, and independent teenager. Most of the conflicts center around the teen's attempts to assert her independence versus the parent's desire to keep the child close and safe.

This next paragraph is one of those that I may read years hence and either pat myself on the back for my prescience or laugh at my naivete...

My theory is that if the teen years are looked at a different way it can increase their educational value, prepare the teen for adulthood and preserve the parental bond better. Rather than seeing the teen years as a difficult extended childhood, view them as a beta test for adulthood. Increase independence and responsibility progressively. Like any other training process, allow the teen just slightly more responsibility than she is ready to handle, then provide support as she grows into the challenge.

Rather than use arbitrary punishments to teach lessons, use natural consequences. Grounding is an artificial construct which has no parallel in the adult world. It shifts the lesson from understanding what she might have done wrong in the real situation to a lesson in how to win against mom and dad. A grounded child does not sit in her room and contemplate what she did wrong; she sits in her room and contemplates her anger at the punishment and how she can avoid it in the future: an absolutely useless learning process.

I cannot protect her from this, but
I can provide the mental resources
for her to protect herself.
If the teen does not live under the immediate fear of parental punishment, it allows her to open her awareness the more distant, but much more real, set of real threats and dangers in the world. Traditionally, a teen who goes to a party and stays out too late is most worried about the most proximate danger: mom and dad finding out. In reality, the real dangers are much more serious: alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, drug complications, personal injury, rape, etc. How many teens have died in drunk driving accidents because they did not want mom and dad to know where they were? How safe did that discipline structure keep that child?

Alternately, what if a teen of 16 is given the autonomy to make her own choices, under the condition that parents must be kept informed of where she is and what she is doing, not because they do not trust her but because adolescence is a form of training mode where the parents are available as referees, lifeguards, and coaches on call to assist when she gets in over her head but allowing her to have the experiences that will prepare her for the rest of her life.

Barney Stinson approves
of a restrictive parenting
style. I believe my point is made.
To those who think that I suggesting too permissive of a parenting style, I will give one more piece of evidence to support my theory. Ask a typical college boy how he feels when he meets a college girl who tells him that her parents were very restrictive and kept her safe at home, not letting her go out much. The word "JACKPOT" comes to mind, because he knows that she is ready to make up for all that she thinks that she missed out on, and mom and dad are no where in sight.

If the Koalid decides to party hard in college, I want it to be because she knows the risks and has weighed them against the rewards, not because she is trying to make up for lost time, and I want to be sure that she knows and understands that if she gets in over her head, even in college, her old dad and mom are still there for her.