Its Official: I'm Raising a Geek

From the moment I first saw my son, approximately 30 seconds after being surgically separated from his mom in a very traumatic 'Welcome To The World' filled with beeping machines, bright lights, hoses, wires, needles, masks, Betadine and Baroque Classics playing on a CD player in the background, I wondered as I sat surrounded by modern medical technology, in a dazed, deer-in-the-headlights sort of way, what the future would hold for him in the 21st Century.  I snapped photos on a newfangled digital camera and uploaded them to my weblog, with snippets of HTML running through my sleep-deprived synapses.  My dad has Kodachrome slides of my first moments in a carousel in the closet, rendered useless without the clicker.  I hoped that my beloved CompuServe would not be so prone to obsolescence.

That was in the summer of the new century, the year 2000, the year of the reluctant father and his new charge.  Through his first night as an independent being, he endured test after test, MRI scans, C-T scans, ultra-violet lights wrapped around his abdomen like he was a tiny pink-orange piggy in an eerie blue glowing blanket.  He had just experienced some of the most advanced medical technology available, his still-developing innards mathematically dissected slice by slice, for physicians to review and evaluate.  He wasn't 24 hours old and there were already digital images of him inside and out.

But I'm especially fond of the shots I took when he peed on the nurse for giving him a low APGAR score.

Meanwhile in my dazed bewilderment I learned about Bilirubin, making infant formula and changing diapers.  I discovered that you really DO squirt your wrist with the baby bottle, just like in the cartoons.  I learned that the discharge paperwork took more time than the whole lesson I got on taking care of this little infant put into my solitary care.  You see, his mom would stay in Intensive Care for another week, but the baby had to leave with me.  She still had to regain consciousness from her Morphine-induced coma before she would gaze at our new son for the first time.

As I walked to the car, holding this new little person in a battery-operated glowing blue blanket, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd never held a baby before this.  Ever.

I strapped him in the car seat, routed the cables powering his ultraviolet personal tanning blanket and secured his tiny goggles to protect him from the 'Bili-light'.  I replayed the prior 20 hours again in my head, started the car and popped the 'Return to Pooh Corner' CD in the dash.  I cried.  I told myself it was just an allergic reaction to baby powder and shook it off.  I hadn't planned for this.  I hadn't planned on being a father for that matter.  I was too old for kids, and I didn't really like being around them.  I really needed my life partner with me right now.

I forced my thoughts back to my earlier quandry about the new millennium and what was in store for this 5 pound 14 ounce sleepy, glowing purple blob in the back seat, facing rearwards to avoid any projectile vomiting hitting the driver.  I needed to think about HIS future, a mental exercise to divert my remaining energies away from the thought of arriving home with no freaking idea of what to do next.

I knew he would grow up in a world that had already moved on from 8-track, 45 RPM, cassette 'mix tapes', VHS and Space Invaders.  He would not know life without a cell phone, a laptop computer, 300 channels of commercial-skipping TV, digital everything, cars that know where they are, how to get there and how far to the destination.  He won't chant "are we there yet" from the back seat - he'll simply glance at the monitor in center of the dashboard.

Technologically, his world would be far more advanced than mine was at his age, which upon reflection I realized is probably true for any child born at any time in history.  So - really his future and my postulating about it wasn't about what new gadgets the new century would bring, but rather what would my son find compelling, what would pique his interest.  What would be his 'wow' and his 'meh' - and would we find common ground?

I was terrified.  After all, he's a total stranger, and I'm quite shy by nature.  Would we get along?  Would we find the same activities entertaining, amusing?  Would he be 'mini-me' or 'mini-mom'?

Today, a decade plus two laps around the sun later, I know he'll be himself, with a bit of mom, and a bit of me, and a bit of his own spin on things.  But I have learned that I relish those times when I'm with him as he discovers an activity that I once enjoyed at his age, an endeavor that has him in its geeky grasp; playing with electrons, molten metal, dielectric constants and breakdown voltages, building something with knowledge and his hands that actually works!

All the memories of my confusion, apprehension and outright fear of fatherhood and its future came back to assault me as if triggered by a familiar but unpleasant odor, but yet dissipated in an instant, like smoke from a soldering iron.


Mom Arrested for Kids Playing, Sues Neighbor

In La Porte, Texas, it appears that a false claim of child endangerment is strong enough to trump obvious facts and has landed a suburban mom in jail for 'Felony Child Endangerment' and 'Felony Child Abandonment'.

A neighbor claimed to responding police that she had hit one of Tammy Cooper's 2 kids in the suburban cul-de-sac where they were playing on their scooters.  Despite no injuries reported or seen by the 'unnamed' police officer, and despite the fact that Mrs. Cooper was present and clearly supervising her children at play, 'unnamed officer' took Mrs. Cooper into custody and then the kids REALLY were abandoned, as she was locked up for 18 hours, and wound up paying over $7,000.00 in legal fees to get out.  She also had her children interrogated by Child Protective Services in Houston.  Charges were dropped, since there was no shred of truth that any endangerment or abandonment happened.  There is no word on any charges being brought against the neighbor for filing a false police report.

Mrs. Cooper is suing the La Porte, TX Police Department and her obnoxious neighbor, Shelley Fuller.  She also claims that the handcuffs aggravated previous injuries and she will now require back surgery.

The father was in Austin, TX on military duty.  I wouldn't want to be 'unnamed officer' when dad gets home!  Read the full article HERE.


Pomp and Circumstance and Junior High

Use #101 - Wiping Away The Tears of Joy and Pride

There were no caps or gowns.

There were some smiles, a few frowns.

There were lots of people staring.

The sun was hot, and glaring.

It was the last day of school, promotion.

From Sixth Grade to Seventh, The notion

of which had you scared, confused,

Bewildered, bemused.

You don't know what to do now.

Its summer, time to play now.

For in the fall you start

On a new adventure far apart

from the one that led you more than halfway there.

Dad is very proud of you, Evan.

You're more than halfway to being an adult.  You have a mind of your own that loves to learn, a passion for building things, and a heart that would give away everything he had if someone else would benefit.  Your mom and I are blessed that you are our son.

There are no more baby wipes left in the hall closet.  There are no more left in the cabinet under the sink.  You haven't needed them in years.  This blog was started to share stories of raising you, and now you're old enough to read them and understand their true meaning.  My work here is finished.


Is Gas Really That Valuable?

I realize times are tough and gas is expensive.  Where I live its around $4.30 per gallon for the cheap stuff.  But c'mon mom!

A woman was busted in Aurora, Colorado for three seat belt violations; hers, her 14-yr-old son, and the little one in the back seat.  The gas canister was not cited.

The Colorado Dept. of Transportation posted this picture on their Facebook page.


Facebook Junior: Evil Scheme To Hook Your Kids

From LATimes.com: The evil overlords at Facebook are considering new ways to data mine the populace.  Now they're cooking up a way to circumvent privacy laws regarding children and hook our kids on the same brain crack that many adults find themselves hooked on.

Introducing Facebook Junior - aka Facebook for kids that should be outside playing instead of sitting in front of a computer interacting with total strangers and racking up hours on inane games, all for the sake of generating marketing data.

Facebook is evil.  Its marketing intentions have never been clearly articulated by its CEO because if they were, no one would join voluntarily.  Remember the Zuckerberg interview at the 'D' Conference and the waterfall of sweat from Mr. Z as he tried to explain what Facebook was up to?  Facebook's stock price is currently the butt of jokes on Wall St. because there is no real value to the company (remember MySpace?).  No one trusts Facebook to keep their data safe or secure, their privacy settings have been laughable and their 'errors' in releasing private data have always been to Facebook's benefit and not the users.

And yet like lemmings, adults keep logging in and using it.  Up until now, the younger generations have been uninterested in Facebook, preferring to walk into lamp posts, sending TXT messages to people they actually know IRL - in real life - see, I'm plugged in, kids.  Truth is, the kids have more common sense about new tech than the adults do, and that's why they're not interested in Facebook.

This new ploy by Zuck & Co is like the cigarette ads back in the '60s, designed to get kids hooked on smoking, knowing full well they'd stay hooked until they died of lung cancer.  Sorry, but I see a strong similarity.

Remember: Facebook's product is YOU - the user.  Do you want your kids to be a product?


Stoned Mom Loses 5 Month Old Baby Off Car Roof

From FOXnews / AP and The Mail Online- To all the folks who wish to legalize Marijuana, and rationalize it as a 'victimless' crime, I offer this story as justification why this substance should remain controlled - and why it is definitely NOT victimless.

It seems a distraught 19-year-old mom was so upset that her stoned boyfriend had been arrested - hold on - for 'aggravated driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle' - she went out and got really stoned with her friends afterwards and forgot her baby was on the roof of her car, strapped into his car seat.

The infant was found in the middle of an intersection in the Phoenix area, and is now in the hands of Arizona Child Protective Services.  The irresponsible mom, Catalina Clouser, has now also been arrested on charges of aggravated DUI and child abuse.  Evidence submitted by the prosecution consists of a thankfully unhurt 5 month old baby boy and a badly damaged car seat, with paint from the roof of mom's 2000 Ford Focus.

Ironic car model - Focus - something both mom and the boyfriend lacked as they put an infant in danger twice in one evening as a result of indulging in an illegal substance.


Dad Uses Audio Bug To Uncover Abuse At Kid's School

From KHOU.com - A concerned Dad couldn't understand why his autistic son was being accused of 'acting out' in school.  Using tech from the Watergate era, he 'wired' his 10-year-old son with a recording device and uncovered abusive TEACHERS, who were doing the 'acting out'.

As a result of his sleuthing, concerned Dad Stuart Chaifetz got one teacher reassigned and another is seeking employment opportunities elsewhere.

The school district took the 5th and had 'no comment'.


Student Tweets the F-word, Gets Expelled

From The Register Online:
"An Indiana student has been expelled from school after sending a profane – if rather witty – tweet from his personal account."
It seems that in fly-over country, they haven't heard that its 'cool' to use the F-word.  Anybody remember Veep Joe Biden during the President's announcement of 'Obamacare'?  Or what about the recent fundraiser for the aforementioned President Obama, where the infamous Cee-Lo Green dropped the F-bomb to a hall full of campaign donors in Atlanta?

Many are arguing that a suspension would be more appropriate.  Even the boy's mom says suspension is fine but expulsion is harsh.  Personally, I don't think young Austin Carroll should be punished AT ALL.  School administrators have more to do than enforce non-laws by someone who was exercising his 1st Amendment right of free speech, in a forum where such expression is encouraged, and in many cases beneficial for social discourse.

And the precedent, and example for the country at large has been set by our esteemed administration, in public, and has been deemed acceptable and a form of free speech.

Personally I don't like the use of the F-word, and I'm sure that foul mouths are uttering such on the boy's high school campus right in front of the school administrators without any repercussions.

I find it interesting that its the foreign press picking this story up and syndicating it.  Looks like it broke on HuffPo on the 25th, which had this little nugget of information;
A bill that would allow schools to punish students for off-campus activities has advanced in the Indiana legislature, permitting schools to suspend or expel students for engaging in activities away from school and after hours that "may reasonably be considered to be an interference with school purposes or an educational function."
Where are you, ACLU?


The Old Episodes Of Time

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It appears that Mevio (aka Podshow, which is how I will always remember it) has dropped the 'audio-only' folks, without warning or even the courtesy of an e-mail notice that they were planning to do so.

In light of this development, some of you (I'm not sure how many of you there are anymore) may not have access to the older podcast episodes of '101 Uses For Baby Wipes' and 'The Daddy Panel'.

 If you have interest in downloading any of the old episodes, please use the contact info above and send me an e-mail.  I'll reply with a link to the archives where the original files are stored.


The Future of Parenting: Call The Cops When Suzy Won't Attend School

While driving my son to school (no bus service due to budget cuts, yet the same number of buses and drivers are employed) I overheard a dispatch from the local PD on the police scanner, asking for officer assistance because a woman's 15-year-old daughter had locked herself in the bathroom, refusing to go to school.

I was briefly amused by that notion, and then I thought about it and drew a conclusion - that this was clearly a waste of police resources.  The officers charged with preserving the public safety surely have better things to do than retrieve distraught girls from the bathroom and take them off to high school.

The scenario kept playing out in the the theatre of my mind as I drove...
  • I'm sure that when the girl heard mom call the police, she thought mom was bluffing.
  • In a way, the high school is like county lock-up, but with more books.
  • How is this any different from any house in the USA where there are teenage girls?
  • Is there someone at school with a grudge and a Facebook account?
  • I hope mom doesn't get arrested for her daughter being truant...
THAT WAS IT!!  Mom was protecting herself legally by notifying police when little Suzy wouldn't go to school.  I refer back to my own post in May 2011 when the OC Register reported that SWAT-style tactics were being used to round up moms and dads whose children didn't attend school.


If we as parents don't make sure the local school districts meet their attendance numbers (and keep their federal income to the district in doing so) the cops will be knocking on our doors!  This isn't about keeping kids in school for their benefit, this is about keeping the education establishment in the revenue stream!

I think I need to get rid of the police scanner.  Or start home-schooling my son.


FTC: Apps for Kids aka Digital Wild West (WashPost)

Fess up Apple and Google!  And you too, Facebook!

Lets face it - kids these days are just as plugged in to the social networks and app ecosystems as their moms and dads are.  And in this article from Cecilia Kang, she explains that the FTC is looking into privacy leaks where apps DESIGNED FOR KIDS are concerned.  Doesn't seem like all that scrutiny apps get before making it into Apple's app store is having any impact on privacy.


Wake up, moms and dads!  These apps are NOT the product being sold - YOU and YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION are the product being sold!  Why do you think Facebook is FREE?  Why do you think apps on the app stores only cost a buck, but the shrink-wrapped versions cost $49?

You're being SOLD!  Your identity, your personal preferences, your daily schedule, ANYTHING that can be tracked and might benefit a marketer or advertiser is being collected at YOUR expense and SOLD!


Sleep And Your Kids: Researchers Disagree and get Testy (NPR)

On NPR's Shots Blog, Nancy Shute commented on a study from the University of South Australia, which in a nutshell stated that there was no foundation for the amount of sleep pediatricians have been recommending to parents for their kids.  Then she followed up with a Q&A with Dr. Judith Owens, a sleep specialist and pediatrician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC.  Dr. Owens had a 'Not-So-Fast' exchange with Shute, and explained that recommendations for sleep have been well researched.  Perhaps the U of South Australia researchers have been pickin' and choosin' their data sets, possibly with an agenda in mind...?

Kudos, Nancy Shute, for doing your background and giving us the straight scoop on what kids really need in amounts of sleep, and steering us in the right direction for sleep info parents can really use.

Links to both of her blog entries are HERE and HERE.  Excellent read if you're concerned about your over-scheduled, tech-overloaded kids - like I am.