Stupid Bugs

Why is it that the nights that Blake sleeps through, I can’t? Knowing I had to drive all day Thursday, I wanted to get a good night’s sleep. Blake went to sleep around 8, I think and slept until 5:30. I went to sleep around 9:30 and woke up at 1:30 to something tapping on the bedroom window. I was annoyed, but not worried. Our house is built on a full basement, on a hill, so the bedrooms are not at ground level. If someone were breaking in, there are many other quicker and easier ways to do it. I opened the blinds, turned on lights, turned off lights (because you can’t actually see outside when it’s dark outside and bright inside), and finally the tapping stopped. That happened twice more in the night. I never did figure out what it was. But it kept me from getting a good night’s sleep.

Kids get hungry on trips. For some reason, telling a baby that the next exit isn’t for another 30 miles doesn’t accomplish much. So I found this cool little thing called a SnackTrap. It’s like a sippy cup, but it has a plastic lid with flaps that baby can put his hand through, but can’t pour the food out. Nice theory. It took my 10-month-old about 3 seconds to figure out he could hold one of the triangle-shaped flaps down and pour the Cheerios out. At least it gives him something to do.

Despite all that, the trip went pretty well. There was no rain, traffic wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t cold. Driving by myself, lacking adult conversation, my mind tends to wander from subject to subject. I know you’re dying to know what kinds of things I think about, so here’s a random sample:

    • Apparently the junk you need on a trip multiplies exponentially with each child you have.
    • “Flea Mall” That’s just wrong.
    • Apparently the number of times you need to stop also multiplies exponentially with each child you have. I’m amazed people with three or more kids ever reach their destination…Actually, I’m surprised they ever leave the house.
    • Stupid bugs.
    • Jack’s such a good big brother.
    • I wonder if anyone ever goes to a Cracker Barrel just to sit in a rocking chair on the porch.
    • I wish we would get a little rain to wash these bugs off.

 

    • Why does Blake only drop his stuff on the side where Jeffrey can’t reach it to pick it up?
    • Whose idea was it to put the baby-changing station at knee level?
    • I’m tired. Can we stop now?

 

  • Wow. I didn’t know a Cheerio could fly that far.
  • Oh, good. There’s some rain. No, wait. That’s just a whole lot of bugs.
  • Jack better grow out of the over-protectiveness before he has kids or he’s going to drive them crazy.
  • WHAT is the DEAL with all the freakin’ bugs?

The King Tut Experience

After months of, “Yes, we’ll go before it ends,” we almost didn’t go before it ended. In my addled mind, I was sure the King Tut exhibit would be in Atlanta until May 25. Fortunately, I found out differently, just in time. I went online Tuesday to look again at ticket prices and noticed that there were no tickets available after the 17th. Did that make an impact? Of course not. I just thought that those days were sold out. The tickets are purchased for a specific day and time-window. So, Wednesday afternoon, I went online to actually purchase the tickets and finally see that it says the exhibit ends on the 17th. So, I guess going on Monday or Tuesday of next week isn’t an option…

Because of other commitments, Thursday was the only day that would work for us. I did get the Matinee tickets for $15 each (for Jack & me, kids under 5 are free), so we didn’t have to skip a car payment to go.

I went to the website of the Atlanta Civic Center to see what they said about parking. I’d never been there and wasn’t sure exactly where it was. The only thing on the website about parking was a statement that they have ample parking. Alrighty, then.

I left early enough to get there at 11:30 so we would have time to park and make our way in. Good thing. When we pulled in, there was a sign that read, “Parking $5.00.” Payed in advance. Guess how much cash I had on me at the time? Not $5. I had stopped for food on the way home from the museum the night before and had $3 and some change.

I asked where the closest ATM was and the attendant said there was one inside. No big deal. It’s not like I have to haul two kids everywhere I go. I pulled around to the front of the building and asked the very helpful security guard where I could park while I used the ATM. I got to park in a No Parking Zone. Cool. So, inside to throw away $5 extra on ATM fees, back out to reload the kids and park so I could unload the kids again.

When you first enter the exhibit area, there’s a short intro film. When the film is over, the doors swing open and you enter “a tomb”. Jack thought it was just so cool that the doors opened on their own. LOL He said he thought “an employee” would open them. Mommy to Jack: Please quit talking like you’re grown.

The exhibit is actually much more than just the King Tut stuff. It was pretty awesome to be right next to things that were thousands of years old. There were statues, jewelry, even furniture. One of the beds from King Tut’s tomb even remained intact, including the woven reeds. We can’t find a mattress that will last more than five years.

Our history lessons on Ancient Egypt had been pretty extensive and we got even more books from the library (Jack’s idea. He has a thing for pyramids), but we still learned things we didn’t know. Jack was disappointed that he didn’t get to see King Tut’s mummy in person, but he enjoyed the exhibit and said he was glad we got to go.

It took us about two hours to walk through the exhibit, looking at everything and reading about just about all of it. Except for the part where I had to carry SuperBaby for about an hour (at least it seemed that long), I really enjoyed it, too.

In the gift shop, we paid $1 each for little sheets of paper with hieroglyphics of the boys’ names on them. I’ve put them in a safe place since I know it will be a while before I remember to get picture frames for them…

If you’re thinking of seeing the exhibit in Atlanta, it’s open until midnight Saturday and 9 PM on Sunday. And bring $5 for parking.

Do What You Love: Time is Too Short to do Anything Else …

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, delivered a truly inspirational commencement address to some 5,000 Stanford University graduates in 2005.

Without further adieu, his message: “I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The First Story is About Connecting the Dots. I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: ‘We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?’ They said: ‘Of course.’ My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college. And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition.

After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting. It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My Second Story is About Love and Loss. I was lucky–I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation–the Macintosh–a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down–that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me–I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

Fired From Apple
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together. I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My Third Story is About Death. When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Diagnosed With Cancer
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes. I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now. This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept: No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue.It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’ It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry.
Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.”

Our Night at the Museum

Thanks to GVA, we got to visit a new museum last night! The Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum opened in January of this year.

I had a pretty peaceful drive since they both slept. It was a drive of about two hours (because we can’t drive anywhere without stopping at least twice), and about halfway there, Blake started getting fussy. Jack was trying to play with him, and I told him to just let him go to sleep. Two minutes later, they were both asleep. Small wonder. Jack has been up until after midnight for the past few nights reading.

So that I didn’t have to haul the diaper bag around, I just grabbed a couple of things, threw them in the bottom of the stroller, piled enough electronics into my purse to stock a BestBuy store (can’t leave all that stuff in the car,ya know) and off we went. Before we left the house, I had uploaded all the pictures and videos off the camera. I managed to get the camera into the car…and that’s as far as it got. Apparently, just getting both of my kids out of the car and in the door is all I can handle at this point. Anything else is a bonus.

As we approached the building, I saw a sign on the lawn that read, “Tellus is a tornado free campus.” What? Oh, “Tellus is a TOBACCO free campus.” That’s much easier to manage.

First we went into the Fossil Gallery where they have a “dig” site set up so the kids can find their own fossils. They help you identify the fossils you find and each child gets to keep one fossil. In the same area, you can pan for minerals. We didn’t because we found a gemstone in the fossil area. Apparently, it had fallen out of someone’s hand or the little bag they give you to carry it. It’s a conglomerate, even though it doesn’t look exactly like the pictures on that page. I can’t show you a picture of ours because it’s itty-bitty and I haven’t figured out the macro feature on my camera yet. I can tell you it’s small, black & shiny. (The gem, not the camera)

Next, we ventured into the planetarium. I haven’t been to a planetarium since I was about Jack’s age, so I was looking forward to it. I wasn’t sure how Blake would handle it, since he equates darkness with bedtime and we all know how much babies enjoy going to sleep. He did really well, though, just jabbered a little while he was climbing on me, but no fussing. Their planetarium is digital and, though it was only about 10 or 15 minutes, it was pretty cool. They do a longer “real show” but they were just giving us a sample. We got to go to Mars. I would recommend that the next time you travel to Mars, bring along your favorite motion-sickness remedy. Those space ships go pretty fast.

We visited the Mineral Gallery, where there were lots of shiny things. Jack’s favorite was the case of polished spheres in all kinds of materials.

My favorite area was the Science in Motion Gallery. Very cool. There is a full-size model of the Wright Brother’s plane, the cockpit of a real airplane, a tire from the space shuttle, a helicopter, and models of various US and Russian spacecraft. Oh, yeah, and the cars. They have the first electric car (1996) and several cars from around 1900, back when it they were pretty much just wheels, a motor and a seat. I tried to take a couple of pictures with my phone, but at that point, I was carrying Blake and camera-phone plus squirming baby does not equal good picture. Maybe next time we go, I’ll actually take the camera inside the building.

I had an interesting experience the Science in Motion Gallery. Jack was waiting in the sort-of line that had formed so the kids could get their pictures taken in the spacesuit. A mom with 4 or 5 kids (it was hard to tell; there was another family standing around, too) was saying all the stuff other moms say about babies when her daughter walked up.

Mom to me: Have you heard of…
Mom to daughter: What’s that website again?
Daughter named the website, which I refuse to name here for reasons that will become clear in moment
Me: No. What is it? (Thinking that since we’re standing in the space area and the website had a name that could be associated with space, that’s what it was about)
Mom: It’s a lady who teaches babies to read. She can start when they’re three months old teaching them the alphabet, blah, blah, blah… (The lady was really nice, but a that point she started sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher)
I just smile and say: Oh. I’m not worried about that.
Then because I obviously don’t know when to shut up: Jack knew his ABC’s and was talking really well by the time he was two. People couldn’t believe he was only two.
Mom: All of my kids were writing cursive when they were four.
Me: Even the boys? (of which she had at least two) Because Jack hates to write. (And in talking to other moms and teachers, that’s pretty typical. Young boys don’t like to write.)
Fortunately, at that point, all her kids were done with their pictures and were ready to move on. I try not offend people if I can help it, but I was thinking of an article I posted on Facebook recently about people pushing young kids too hard. It was NY Time article called Kindergarten Cram and I got this quote from it: “Jean Piaget famously referred to “the American question,” which arose when he lectured in this country: how, his audiences wanted to know, could a child’s development be sped up? The better question may be: Why are we so hellbent on doing so? ” I’m just sayin’.

Back to the museum: They also have the requisite weather/lights/magnet hands-on area that can be found in pretty much any museum that expects kids to walk in the door.

We left when they threw us out… about two minutes before my feet fell off.

Over all, we had a great time, will definitely go back sometime. Maybe next time we can get Daddy to go with us. He can carry the munchkin.

A lesson in Socialism

I did not write this; it landed in my email and I felt the need to share.

Socialism – a simple yet effective learning tool
Those of you who are teachers will appreciate the simplicity of this explanation as a learning tool. Those of you who are not teachers, you can become one by sending this to all of the people you know so that this message ,and understanding of the concept, can be spread to all of those who believe in entitlements, and free government handouts.The greatness of America as can do and self supporting people is at stake. quote by Thomas Jefferson 3rd President, Democrat Term of Office: January 20, 1777 to January 20, 1781 ‘A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.’
Thomas Jefferson
Socialism lesson below
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Subject: Socialism An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had failed very few students, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said, “Ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.”
“All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade meaning, obviously, no one will receive an A.” They all agreed to this. After the first test the grades were averaged, everyone got a C. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.
But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too, so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. To their great dismay the professor failed them all. Then he sent all of them this note: “A socialistic government will also ultimately fail — because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all reward away, no one will try to succeed.