Recently in Anecdote Category

Lost Boy

We lost the Doodle yesterday.  So.  That was new.

He likes to push things.  His changing station, shopping carts, his stroller-- pretty much anything he sees us pushing.  He loves going to Trader Joe's because he gets to push one of their mini-carts, which is sized perfectly for him.  When we're at other places like Costco, he pushes the cart while I steer and make sure he doesn't rack up a giant bill in shattered LCD screens and personal injury lawsuits.

The Issaquah Salmon Days festival is enormous and packed with awesome, especially for kids.  There's a big area full of free stuff for kids to do-- a train ride, pony rides, dog show, lots of arts and crafts, inflatable slides and bouncy houses, etc-- the best kids' area I've seen at any local event.  We made the cardinal error of going directly to the festival from our morning errands, skipping the Doodle's nap.  That's roughly equivalent to cashing in our savings and betting it all on a hard six.  Bad idea.  It wasn't long before our adorable baby Jekyll turned into toddler Hyde.  Once the Doodle rams into that cranky iceberg, the ship's going down no matter how fast we try to bail water.

As we strolled through the kid's area, he got cranky and wanted to get out of the stroller and push.  Okay, we thought, that's an easy fix.  Out he came, and he was walking right in front of me, "pushing" the stroller while I steered.  At that distance he was out of my direct sight unless I looked down, but he was right in front of me and if he stopped I was moving slowly enough that I wouldn't trample him.  So we walked for a bit, looking at all the craft booths and vendors and attractions.  We got to the end of a row and stopped to decide which way to go.  We decided to go left, and then I looked down and the Doodle was gone.  "Where's the Doodle?" I asked, looking around.  My wife didn't see him either.  He was gone.  He was walking between my legs and the stroller a minute ago, and now he was just... gone.

My wife immediately went into the headspace of "He's been taken."  I'm not sure there was a rational thought process-- adrenaline and hormones and fear kicked in and sent her emotions into overdrive.  She didn't know where her boy was, and that sudden loss pressed in on her from all sides.  In that moment she couldn't even remember what the Doodle was wearing.  Loss.  Fear.  Find my child!

I went somewhere different.  I knew he had just wandered off.  He had been right in front of me a minute before.  Logically he couldn't have gotten very far, and it was just a matter of figuring out what could have drawn him away.  I didn't see him in any of the nearby booths, and if he was in one of them he'd be found quickly enough.  So I looked farther afield.  I didn't see him by the playground in a quick scan, and I didn't think he had enough time to actually get to any of the play structures there.  So not that way, then.  There was a big field back the way we had come, so I turned that way, thinking maybe he went to look at the ponies.  Nope.  Where else?

And that's when I saw him, eagerly running oward the zorbs, chasing after them as they rolled downfield.  I caught up to him as he stood in their path, oblivious to their weight and momentum.  All he saw were giant balls that he wanted to play with.  As I snatched him up into my arms, he wriggled and cried that he wanted to roll the balls.  I couldn't blame him.  Zorbs are cool.

By the time I brought him back to my wife, a sympathetic woman had seen her distress and dragooned the Issaquah football team into searching  for our son.  I didn't have the chance to thank her, or the team, for rallying on our behalf.  Later that night, my wife was still a little shellshocked and haunted by visions of becoming a shell of a woman, never getting over the loss of her child.

I hope never to go through an experience like that again, but given the Doodle's strong-willed and inquisitive nature I rather expect this is just the first scare of many.  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was gratified by how I reacted, keeping my cool and attacking the problem swiftly and methodically, while my heart machine-gunned in my chest.  I feel like I've been tested, that life has taken my measure and did not find me wanting.

Level up!  You are now a level 2 dad.  Next time, keep your damn eye on the kid.
Comments (6) | last by Phil, Oct 8, 4:54 PM

Surviving

Right about now is when you'd usually come to Static Zombie and find a witty, insightful post about the new season of Survivor.  Something about the new twist this season and Mark Burnett's ongoing deal with the Devil.

Sorry to disappoint.

The new season's begun, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet.  Worse, I'm not really sure when I'll get there.  That's because I'm engaged in an entirely different season of Survivor.  No immunities, but plenty of challenges.  Meals are made up of whatever can be scrounged up.  Sleep is difficult, interrupted by the hungry wailing of local fauna.  It's Survivor: Parenthood.  And here's the most adorable immunity idol you'll ever see:

baby2.pngThis season will run much longer than 39 days, but it's already the best season ever. 

 

Comments (10) | last by wholesale nfl jerseys, May 10, 10:10 PM

PAX Boredomica

Despite living mere minutes away, I'd never been moved to attend PAX in the past.  The bullet points rattled off by enthusiastic friends ricocheted harmlessly off my armored exterior.  When a pass was offered to me this year, I took the opportunity to find out what all the fuss was about.

I'm still not sure.

The exhibit hall was like a mini E3, and yet held very little sway over me.  The items of greatest immediate interest-- Duke Nukem Forever, Portal 2, Dead Space 2-- commanded absurd lines, distinguishing them from other booths mainly in the level of absurdity.  I saw nothing at the show that made me feel I had to try it, now.  The Epic Mickey booth convinced me that I'll be dusting off the Wii when that game hits the shelves, but I didn't need to play it at the show-- watching on the monitors was enough.  For most products being shown, there will be ample opportunity (reviews, videos, demos) to make purchase decisions at my leisure when they're closer to release.  Waiting in a line for a brief taste of them today held no appeal.

Attending a panel required two hours of committment-- one for the panel itself, and one for the line to get into the panel.  I missed one panel because the room filled.  I waited in line for the next panel, and was disappointed by both the content of the panel and the presentation.  When everyone is in the room to see and hear four people talk, organizers should make sure people can actually see and hear them.  Would it really be so hard to raise the panelists' table on a dais so they're visible to more than the front row of spectators?  Seems like Conference 101, and this is, what, the 5th PAX?  I left the panel early.

The free-play console room was impressive-- a vast hall of PS3s, 360s, Wiis, and other older systems, plus an extensive library of titles available for the asking.  But I couldn't think of anything I wanted to play that I wouldn't prefer to play on my own 360 at home, or that wouldn't take more time than I wanted to devote in that venue (Shadow of the Colossus).

As for tabletop gaming, I have enough opportunities to do that with friends that I didn't need to play with strangers.  The one event I considered, the Puerto Rico tournament, only had 7 people signed up-- hardly enough for a tournament.  I suspect noon on Friday was too early in the show to schedule a board gaming event-- people were still busy browsing the expo hall.

I didn't attend any of the concerts, which hold no attraction for me.  Sitting/standing in a crowd of people is not how I like to listen to music anymore.  Music for me is a supplement to other activities, not something I want to focus my attention or schedule around.  I also missed the keynote and other big-ticket "events" like the Omegathon (an elimination tournament of different games, culminating this year with an arcade claw machine).  Too much waiting.

As I wandered the convention center I saw lots of people enjoying themselves, but in ways that held little appeal to me.  I love Plants vs. Zombies, but had no desire to (wait in line to) get an orange traffic cone hat and get made up as a zombie.  I like nestling into a comfy chair, but as I waded across the sea of humanity beached on beanbag chairs, each person focused on their handheld device of choice, there was no sense of community, only isolation.

I went to plenty of these kinds of events when I was younger, like WorldCon and local Star Trek and comic book conventions.  I get it.  The desire to share your passion with others who understand, to immerse yourself in it for a weekend, to feel part of a community where what you do is normal and not something to hide away when the popular kids come around.  The chance to revel in geekiness among geeks, to be over the top without fear or shame, to meet the people who make the things that bring you joy.  I've been there, done that.  And it's just not important to me anymore.

The events aren't the draw for me now.  If I go to something like BoardGameGeek.Con, it's not to be at the event-- it's to reconnect with friends.  Maybe some people are having that experience at PAX.  Maybe there are people who only knew each other as gamertags, and meet up at PAX for the first time and forge deeper friendships.  Maybe there are college buddies who fly in to Seattle for a PAX fragfest in the LAN lounge, reliving old times and keeping bonds alive.  Maybe there are people who met at the very first PAX, and come together year after year to see each other again and bring even more people into their widening circle.

I really hope so.

Comments (3) | last by Nathan, Sep 6, 11:12 PM

25 Things About Me, Dammit

I'm determined not to get sucked into Facebook, but I have to admit that whenever a friend posts their 25 Things, I zip over to read it. This meme jumped the shark last week by appearing on the front page of USA Today's Life section, but that's never stopped me before. I'll post it on my blog, however, thereby asserting my Facebook independence.

1. I don't think anything coming out of a kitchen can possibly be more satisfying to the senses and the soul than a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie (Alton Brown's Chewy recipe, naturally). That something so simple can make me so happy is a recurring delight. And if I actually have some milk in the fridge? Nirvana.

2. I know that if instead of watching television I used that time to be productive, I could achieve more of my life's goals. I get that. But here's the thing-- I like watching television. I'm genuinely interested in the stuff I watch. And you book snobs can get your noses back parallel to the ground, because much of what I watch gets me thinking every bit as much as, and sometimes more than, a good novel.

3. I've loved game shows all my life, and always wanted to be on one. Now that I've done it, the experience was so much fun that I can't wait to do it again. I'd quit my job to go on the professional game show circuit in a heartbeat, if only some Google gazillionaire would put up the cash to make such a thing happen. I'd also accept a very modest salary to simply appear as a permanent partner for contestants on a new version of Password or Pyramid, in a mythical world where producers realize that it's more fun to watch people you don't know play the game really well than to watch marginal celebrities play the game poorly.

4. My jaw sometimes clicks when I eat. Most of the time it's quiet and normal. But sometimes, every time I chew there's a sharp click and my jaw seems to snap in and out of place, over and over again. This happens most often with bagels. Until I got married, I never realized it was audible to others, but my wife hears it every time.

5. I lied about something once, when I was a kid. It was a stupid lie, a futile denial in the face of a friend's admission of my guilt. But I was supposed to be the good kid. I didn't do stupid, careless things that damaged neighbor's property. So I stuck with it. I made up a bigger lie to provide an alternate explanation. Nobody bought it. The guilt has stayed with me ever since. The neighbor-- the sweetest man you could imagine-- died recently, and I never came clean with him. After that incident, I never played with that friend again.

6. When I was very young, before I was old enough for kindergarden, whenever I went out with my family I kept a deathgrip on a penny. Always. Because I knew that sooner or later, I'd see a gumball machine. And when I did, come hell or high water, the handle on that machine would turn. Oh yes, it would turn. I'd put that penny in the slot and, in a Henningesque feat of legerdemain, I'd turn that handle, reach my hand into the slot, and pull out something bright and shiny and sweet. But it wasn't about the gumball, or the candy, or the prize. It was all about turning the handle. And pushing buttons.

7. I once won a radio call-in contest by knowing the full name of Bullwinkle's enemy (Boris Badanov). My prize? A sack of family board games. I now own over 500 games. Most people think that's a lot. I know many people with more.

8. I don't understand how rational, educated people in the 21st century can believe in God. Want to believe? Sure. I get the appeal. But actually believe, in the face of no evidence but a book of questionable provenance? I don't think I will ever understand that.

9. I believe in life on other planets. In the face of no evidence.

10. For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed about flying. Poorly. Not William Katt, flail-my-arms-around-in-midair bad, mind you-- that would be an improvement. No, in my flying dreams, I fly slowly and often can't get more than a couple of feet off the ground. Turning doesn't always work so well, either. WTF? In my dreams I could be anything, and my subconscious casts me as a fifth-rate Mystery Men reject? That is so messed up.

11. I like to sing in the shower, but I generally sing the same song every time-- an a capella version of Styx's Crystal Ball I heard Tommy Shaw sing on a radio concert a long time ago that eliminates the chorus and has great, extended harmonized notes at the finish. So much fun to sing with the shower reverb. Every now and then I throw in The Ballad of Billy the Kid.

12. I'm very good at listening to critical feedback and acting on it. I value honesty. If I do something that annoys you, I'd rather be told about it so I can address it rather than have you fume silently or kvetch behind my back. I won't resent you for saying something-- in fact, you'll rise in my esteem for having the courage to broach the topic.

13. I cried when Spock died.

14. I wrote the install program for Sierra Online's Windows games. I recorded my own voice as a placeholder for the sound test, expecting it would get replaced before it shipped. It didn't. For a few years in the nineties, my voice was on millions of PC computers, saying in my best Worfian voice, "Your system is correctly configured for playing wave files."

15. I've played cribbage in most of the major parks of Europe.

16. The first 45's I ever bought? Coward of the County (Kenny Rogers), Escape / The Pina Colada Song (Rupert Holmes), and King Tut (Steve Martin). My taste hasn't improved since then.

17. I believe the existence of career politicians is one of the worst things ever to happen to our democracy. All senators and congressmen should have a limit of one term, so they can focus on making the right decisions instead of making the decisions that will get them reelected.

18. I've gained over 30 pounds since graduating from college. Worse, my body is starting to react differently to some foods than it used to. Tomato sauce now frequently gives me heartburn. This is a betrayal of the highest order, and if I ever get my hands on my stomach, I intend to draw and quarter it in the public square as an example to keep my other internal organs in line. I'm talking to you, arteries!

19. A couple of times a year, I dress like a pirate and ride around in a van with 3-5 other similarly-dressed friends for 32 hours and solve puzzles. My wife married me anyway.

20. I have Restless Legs Syndrome.

21. I have no patience for shopping for clothes, and even less for trying things on. I can happily browse all day in a book store, however, and I can while away hours in the kitchen section at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

22. Fashion be damned-- I like tucking my shirt in. It looks tidier, keeps drafts from blowing up my shirt in cold weather, and helps keep my pants from falling down. Who decides what's fashionable, anyway? I refuse to give power over my personal clothing decisions to some nebulous snootier-than-thou zeitgeist. When summer comes around, you can bet I'll sometimes wear socks with my sandals, because it's convenient and practical. Take that, fashionistas!

23. I hate wrapping paper. It's a waste of money and resources. Reusable gift bags are fine, though. And can we please, as a planet, just agree to a moratorium on styrofoam packing peanuts?

24. Milk chocolate? No thanks. Dark chocolate? Yes please. Caramel? Gimme gimme gimme. Black licorice? Hell no.

25. I believe spelling, punctuation, and grammar matter.

Comments (6) | last by Greg Aleknevicus, Feb 10, 2:37 AM

Caving to Peer Pressure

Alright already. I'm tired of you social network drones widening your eyes in shock and telling me I have to get on Facebook. It is the will of Landru. I have been assimilated into the collective and am now "on Facebook."

The heavens have yet to part and reveal to me, in a shining beam of light or talking animal figurine, why this is a Good Thing. The comments are open-- teach me to love Facebook.

Comments (4) | last by Travis Eberle, Oct 18, 11:08 AM

Real Simple... NOT

Impassioned rant from my wife this evening:

"Real Simple magazine is not real simple! They say, 'When you go apple-picking with your family, take a blanket with you and pack a picnic with cucumber and goat cheese sandwiches, and make three dipping sauces to take along for your apples.' That's not simple! Simple is 'Get in your car and go.'"

Wife: 1, Real Simple: 0.

Comments (2) | last by Sarah, Sep 27, 7:54 PM

"You Saw Wall*E?"

I have two nieces. One is 11, the other just turned 13. This weekend I had occasion to mention to each of them, individually, that my wife and I had seen and enjoyed Wall*E. Their reactions were nearly identical: shock and horror. "You saw Wall*E? It's a kids' movie!"

No. No, it isn't.

I patiently explained that Pixar films are brilliant movies for everyone, not just kids. Just because a movie is animated doesn't mean it's for children. Wall*E, we elaborated, was even romantic.

"Wall*E and Eve. Romantic?" My niece-- 11 going on 40-- angled her head down and her eyes up, in the universal body language for "You've got to be kidding," her voice dripping with scorn.

I hold out hope that someday they'll get it, and wonder how they let so many fantastic movies pass them by.

Comments (2) | last by Peter's niece, Nov 8, 2:40 PM

Status Report

About a month in, and the ring still feels strange.

Comments (5) | last by antkam, Aug 8, 11:28 AM

I Thee Wed

Today, I get married. The F becomes The W.

I'm exhausted from all the activity leading up to today, but I'm not at all nervous. It all comes down to a very simple question: is my life better with her than it was without her? The answer is obvious, and so there's nothing to be nervous about.

Except the first dance. After that, it's all downhill.

For the past few months we've been swamped-- planning for the wedding, buying and moving into a new house, unpacking, refurbishing the old house to get it ready to sell, and selling the old house. Now all of that is done, and after today we can move on to furnishing, decorating, and building a family.

Static Zombie has been a casualty of all this upheaval. I trust that those of you who are still here understand. When we return from our Hawaiian honeymoon (Kauai and Oahu), I hope to get back to a more frequent posting schedule.

Until then... aloha.

Comments (13) | last by Howard Sarrett, Jul 23, 5:05 AM

Rock and Roll Doctors

Ways Foreigner Misrepresented Having a Fever of 103

  • With all the can't-stop-feels-like-my-chest-muscles-are-going-to-burst coughing, no rendezvous could possibly be secret. And come on, with all that hacking, who'd have you?
  • "Check it and see" may involve anal [thermometer] probing.
  • The only sign you're going to get are a pair of crossed fingers warding you away as if you were a disease-spreading vampire.
  • Ain't nobody saving their love for you tonight. You're lucky if someone's saving your side of the bed for you.
  • No mention of chills, insomnia, lack of appetite, queasiness, or the inability to enjoy spending an entire day on the couch playing with the 360.

  • Comments (4) | last by Dave Arnott, Feb 21, 8:05 PM

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