Monday, December 21, 2015

sleep training


It used to be that to really dislike someone for their absurd views you'd have to actually speak with them for a sustained period of time. Those were the golden years of civil society when it didn't really matter if you had a racist aunt because you'd only have to disavow her every Christmas.

However, now our public forums are bombarded daily with politicized messages seeped in missionary zeal, and what they lack in the ability to convey nuance or background, they make up for with being totally anathema1 to civil discourse. Everything is reduced to a photo with an absurdist caption and a like button. I'm running out of people who post incendiary things to unfollow.

So, my fair reader, and you are just one reader,2 today I grant you an escape from the madness, talking about the only thing I can that is remotely entertaining.

Having a kid is like playing a round of that old classic,3 "Don't wake Daddy", except you don't lose the game if he wakes up, you die a miserable death listening to a rabid monster screaming for your blood in the other room. The great part about raising a family in California is that instead of retreating into your master bath several kilometers away from the nursery, you get to slowly tiptoe into a creaky bathroom inches away from the angeldemon, cursing every time a train passes by as you perform all of your necessary nighttime actions in a very pained complete and total silence.

Of course, if you mention this to anyone who has children they will immediately judge you4 for a) not having enough children,5 or b) mention something about sleep training. I have a bone to pick with sleep training.

"Sleep training" is a term made up by pop psychologists looking to foist guilt on the modern parent. Sure, sleep training sounds cut and dry right? Sort of like toilet training but with sleep. It is a filthy lie. Sleep training is like training for a marathon. It is a constant bleating force in your life for anywhere from one to thirty six months depending on how much you lie and/or drug your children. And it gets better when they learn to talk because they get to scream at you by name.6

Our kid's first word was daddy, which I thought was really sweet until we realized he was talking to his stuffed raccoon (and he still does). His second word was no. Third word is up in the air, but we're a little afraid it's going to have four letters.

I think I'm overstating my case just a little bit here. Getting a kid to sleep is really reasonably easy, as long as they aren't teething, going though a growth spurt, sick, weaning, have a poopy diaper, have lost their stuffed raccoon, have their legs through the crib slots, aren't thirsty, aren't hungry, can't see any light, can't hear any noises, oh and there goes the ^&*$ train again blaring the horn, or in any way deviant from the most pristine situation you can imagine, which is ALL OF THE TIME.

Parenthood is awesome and rewarding when it's 8:30 and he didn't cry this time and it's only another eight and a half hours before you're at it again.

See you on the flip side!

1. This means I like to use big words and be sure to show everyone that too.
2. Hi wifey! Love you!
3. I'm using that term very loosely here.
4. Judging is the currency of parenthood.
5. He's just a first child, you obviously don't know what you're doing.
6. We have to coach every babysitter the same way: he's going to cry, it's going to be terrible, you'll be okay, BUT DO NOT GO IN THERE BECAUSE HE WILL DESCEND INTO MADNESS.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

guns

Guns are awesome and anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously a communist or a European or an Australian or Japanese or a citizen of another country where people don't routinely die in gun-related violence which includes communist countries COINCIDENCE I THINK NOT. Guns are the solution to all of our problems, especially the problem of too much gun violence. Guns protect us from a tyrannical federal authority as the second amendment clearly states: "being necessary to the security of a free State". Come on people, who can argue with eighteenth century logic? I KNOW I CAN'T.

Guns have saved us from a non-free state on multiple occasions. If it weren't for our right to bear arms, governmental authority might overreach its bounds and blanketly surveil the entire population with illegal impunity and use that information in secret ways and then pursue any whistleblowers of a hugely immoral regime to the ends of the earth. If it weren't for guns, we'd be living in that scenario, totally unable to stop the government from reading every single word we write. Thanks guns!

If it weren't for guns, an overarching federal authority might impose ridiculous regulations on our daily life, like, I dunno, a tax code that is thousands of pages long and functionally impossible to comply with without paying blackmail money fees to accountants. Guns saved us from that, but also from that same federal authority targeting specific groups of people it didn't like to subject to audits. Obviously guns have saved us from this and all other sorts of crazy regulations that are totally randomly enforced by authority figures based on who they personally like and dislike.

Imagine all of the elements of a state the founding fathers would abhor: standing armies, ceaseless foreign wars, mass incarceration of the population, the list goes on. And yet guns have saved us from all of those aspects, and there's no other way in which we could maintain a free state, were it not for a public unlimited right to bear arms under any condition. With a track record like this, who can argue with the second amendment's logic?

Aside from saving us from a tyrannical oppressive federal authority that surveils and tortures people with willful abandon, guns also keep us safe. If it weren't for guns, the probability of killing yourself wouldn't increase if you owned a gun. In fact, it wouldn't be more likely that you hurt yourself than inflict harm on someone trying to harm you. If it weren't for guns, the probability of your kid killing him or herself wouldn't increase if you owned a gun. This is because peer-reviewed science doesn't indicate that the majority of suicides are impulse decisions that are preventable, and preventable in a way that means keeping things that can easily kill you away from yourself when you're in a moment of weakness. I'm alive in part because I couldn't find a gun in a dark time in my life, but that and science means nothing, so more guns for everyone.

The best part about guns, however, is that everyone has an answer about guns and that answer is never anything but more guns all the time everywhere because we can put our collective will and energies into figuring out how to reduce deaths by cigarettes which were once used all the time everywhere but once anyone worries about guns you have to get real defensive and act like IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO ANYTHING AND ANYONE WHO SUGGESTS DIFFERENTLY IS A COMMUNIST AND SHOULD NEVER BE TRUSTED AGAIN.

I hope our grandchildren consider us savages.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

five toys that will change the way you play with your children and you won't believe what happened next!

There's one toy and you'll believe everything, but nobody is capable of writing a headline that doesn't make them look like a weenie, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon people, from now on, expect NOTHING BUT LINKBAIT.

That opener sounded a lot funnier in my head, but it's staying on here folks because I am down to business and I reserve every night at 2:00 AM as my special time to lie awake and re-think every single decision of my life and now is not that time.

Legos are the best toy ever invented, hands down. There's not even a comparison with any other toy. Let's list out all of the toys that I have given Jack and compare them to legos:

Sticks: All around solid, but lacking in ability to spark imagination
Cheese picked up off of the ground: Disappears into the abyss too quickly
Old boxes: Also good, but lack color. Watch out for staples.
Empty water bottles: Fun to chew on momentarily, quickly lose entertainment value

We're so bad at getting Jack toys, and so known for being terrible, that our friends gave Jack a toy for his first birthday, along with a card apologizing to him for his stingy parents. It was easily the second best card ever given to our family.1

In keeping with this tradition, a co-worker gave Jack a set of Duplo bricks from her daughter's old collection, which I'm counting as Legos. This co-worker is super nice and also way more organized than any actual human because not one single piece of the full set was missing: like every tiny little thing is in there, including the siren to the police car. I say was missing because we lost five pieces in seconds after opening it, but that's okay because I'm sure they'll show up with the rest of Jack's toy collection2 someday.

Jack loves those Duplos. He plays with them for longer than any of his other moldy socks, and for at least half of the amount of time mommy and daddy play with them. I'm not saying that you should only buy Duplos, but you should only buy Duplos because you know what'll make you stop having children? Reading "Goodnight Moon" one more time with that creepy ghost bunny who magically apparates into a chair and stares at the kid. No wonder he can't freaking sleep, THERE'S A DEAD BUNNY STARING AT HIM.3

Buying your kids Legos will also make up for the magnolia leaves that substitute for a toy collection, and if you randomly decide one year to stop buying them Legos and declare they will never get another Lego for the rest of their life, even though their older brother who is two and a half years older got Legos up until that same Christmas and therefore had WAY more Legos which is a very substantial injustice, they will probably resent it for the next 23 years and write snippy blog posts about why they're the best because they just picked up some second hand Duplos and they will never take the joy out of their son's life as was done to them.

Also, Legos are superior to all other toys because the paint doesn't come off when they're eaten like pretty much every other toy ever made for children which I do not understand because do they not expect that? THE TOYS ARE GOING TO GET EATEN, YOU ROTTEN DESIGNERS. Stop covering them with scrapable paint.4

1. The first best is legendary from Caleb, and for another day.
2. read: a bunch of empty cracker boxes
3. It's really clearly not a live relative because she is referred to as the "quiet old lady whispering hush" which is exactly how I'd describe an unknown ghost who is haunting me with knitting needles.
4. The most egregious example was the freaking teething ring we got: it is made to be eaten, and PAINT CHIPS OFF OF IT WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

dances

I loved going to dances as a teenager. If there are four things I'm good at, it's first impressions, non-toxic breath, interacting with humans, and anything close to functional coordination.

Dances are the best way possible to meet women. They get to see how few friends you have, without the months-long constant interaction required of anyone to understand how funny you are.1 This can obviously only result in things you see in historical dramas like Better Off Dead, where you end up dancing with the cute French girl.

The best thing about going to a dance as a hopelessly forgetful and optimistic teen is that every time you think this is going to be the dance you don't stand in the corner trying to pretend like you're by yourself by choice.

That said, the Perry men were quite legendary in their performance at dances, and we all independently developed and rigorously adhered to the following set of rules:

  1. For the first slow song, go get a drink
  2. For the second slow song, go to the bathroom
  3. REPEAT ALL NIGHT LONG

This is because, like losing WWI generals learned everywhere, the frontal attack is suicidal. Going up and speaking to a woman? If you manage to make it through the machine gun fire of competing men and wade through the mine field that is her friends, the light just isn't dim enough to give you enough time to tell sophisticated jokes before she realizes you're funny looking and you drive a Volkswagen Vanagon.2

No, as they learned in the Brusilov Offensive and at Vimy Ridge, and as you've learned over the years, your only chance is in using infiltration tactics! Write snippy blog posts. Milk all the self-deprecating humor you can. Build up a repertoire in the area you move to over the course of six years. Gradually extend your network of acquaintances so your name is known for miles around. Some poor unsuspecting law student is bound to get caught up in the (over) hype, stumble across the blog, laugh once, maybe twice, meet you briefly at a party where you fein disinterest, and...

Then, four years ago this October, you can approach her at the dance and coolly seduce her with witticisms carefully crafted and honed, trading off of your reputation, and with a smooth collection of her phone number you've broken through the trenches into the great unknown country beyond.3

1. One of my earliest memories in Elementary School was getting assigned to sit next to one of the cutest girls in class, Sadie, and realizing that this was my big break, knowing that it took months of sitting next to me in class for someone to think I was funny. To this day, I mistakenly presume this is the result of an extremely sophisticated sense of humor, and not just overwhelming pity.
2. Which, in the greatest of ironies, would turn out to be the absolute coolest car anyone at high school drove. I don't pray for much, but I pray for them to release a throwback version of that car pretty much every day. I would buy it immediately.
3. But, and I mean this in the strongest way possible, so many many horrific crash and burn failures brought you here. Let us try and forget.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

swimming

Swimming is the world's best recreational sport.

Here are a few things I love about swimming:

Swimming is just like taking a bath, except more fun. Baths are fun because you get to scrub your filth off of yourself, and then wallow in it like swine. Swimming is fun because you get to do the same thing, except add the filth of everyone else you know plus some questionable strangers, and let it sit in one place over an entire summer, sort of like bathing in the middle ages, back when they had chamber pots and outdoor human excrement storage.

Swimming is fun because you get to enjoy the expansiveness of ten by forty feet of human-filled filth water. It's like going for a nice afternoon walk and pacing back and forth in the electronics section of Walmart on Black Friday except the other customers get to pee on you whenever they want.

The fun of swimming is compounded by awkward social interaction. Remember how you spent your entire youth getting dunked by your brothers every time you came within a football field's distance of a puddle? Now you can re-live your past and have people who don't harbor violent repressed rage try to push you under and then sue you for the assault and battery that is guaranteed to follow.

The other great thing about swimming is how good you look while doing it. Everyone else loses ten pounds when they put a swimming suit on their evenly-colored, beautiful and healthy skin covering taught, toned muscles, but you gain thirty pounds and every fat cell in your body makes a panicked dash to your gut, while you grow hair on your back and lose about six shades of color whenever you even consider removing your shirt.

Oh, but Chris Perry, you're talking about swimming in a swimming pool, and swimming in open bodies of water is totally different, you might say. Oh yes, yes it is.

The great thing about swimming in open bodies of water is now instead of maybe swimming in pee, now you're guaranteed to be swimming in fish pee. That's what the ocean is. Did you ever closely inspect the charts depicting the water cycle in your elementary classrooms? Fish pee, that's the ocean.

Of course, there's other great news about swimming in open bodies of water, which I have done on two occasions,1 and on which occasions I had my near-lifeless body drug out of the water by my father.2 CPR wasn't required in either case because I have superhuman powers that do not include propulsion through water, but whatever you get the point.

Swimming in open bodies of water means you get to experience the rush of an elemental force trying constantly to kill you. The ocean wants you dead. Why does it pull at your feet? Because it wants you dead. Those are the pulls of Poseidon as he seeks revenge on land creatures.

Swimming is also the world's best recreational sport because more people die miserable while in water than in any other environment. This statistic is obvious because you only ever die miserable in water, while it's possible to die in peace in other places: like running, for instance. Get a heart attack while running? You died doing what you loved. Drown? You perished in the most incomprehensibly nightmarish way possible and now you're being eaten by a shark.

Summer is over, and I couldn't be happier. Bring on running weather.

1. Okay, not just two, I'm being melodramatic, but THOSE ARE THE ONES YOU REMEMBER.
2. Another lie, he only mostly drug me out the first time, and the second time was his fault and I swam out of the frozen river by myself after our canoe capsized.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

superpowers

I keep thinking I've lost my touch. It used to be so easy to sit down and produce nonstop hilarity in print, slowly weaving a thread of witty thoughtfulness throughout a few paragraphs, and then BLAM, get you with a killer finish.

Of course, I also realize that I'm drastically overstating my case. As I was telling my coworkers the other day, there is only one truism about Chris Perry, and that is Chris Perry of today believes that he is hilarious, witty, and intelligent, and also firmly believes that Chris Perry of the past is unforgivably awkward and impossible to read. Given that this opinion is always fiercely held, I think it's probably true that even when I think I have a gift, I'm never quite as good in real life as I read in my head. If you read that sentence, be surprised, because I'm sure my wife is going to make me strike it.

I've always thought of humor as my superpower. I remember in grade school believing that I was terrible at first or second impressions, but if I could get someone to sit by me in class for some set of the year, I'd win them over with my hilarity. It's an acquired taste.

As superpowers go, it's not a bad one. Britt and I have discussed them at length. She would obviously choose complete control of time, so that, in her words, "I can nap whenever I want".

Flying is probably not one that I would choose because I always get caught up in the logistics of the thing: how many calories does it expend? How fast am I flying? How far up? Because if you go to all the trouble to get the flying superpower, how lame would it be if it required constant training and you could make it a few blocks before collapsing in exhaustion? Obviously you need to think that through better.

Teleportation is the smart choice if you're looking into transportation-related superpowers, as it really avoids a lot of the awkward questions (and bugs-in-mouth scenarios). It also opens you up to amazing lifestyle changes: live in a cabin in Patagonia, work in the bay area, and visit your mom for dinner. Of course, the details are also hairy here: can you take someone with you? Will your spouse look kindly on living sequestered away in some forgotten mountainside while you're off on a guy's night out in Chicago? Or if you can take someone, you're now in a worse situation than being the dude everyone calls for an airport run: you will literally be guilted to taking everyone and their family everywhere. So on second thought, this one too probably lends itself to too much trouble, not only socially, but also with various immigration authorities.

I believe it is, or should be, uncontested that Wolverine is the obvious best superhero, but his superpower is totally worthless to a middle-class office worker. Now every hangnail I pull out during a meeting will heal instantly. I can barely contain my excitement.

And so it goes with the list of superpowers. Control over storms? Meh. Get big and green and destroy aliens? No sign of extraterrestrials, and none forthcoming. Imparting kinetic energy to playing cards? What actual use does that have in normal life? I'm afraid that superpowers are superboring.

But if I had to choose something other than my beloved (if questionable) humor, there is one I think worth getting: the ability to know the one thing that would make any given person happy, so happy, that is, that they cry for joy. And on top of the knowledge, the power to grant it.

It's really two superpowers I guess. Most people don't know what would make them happiest, but if you can know and grant that, you would have the best life of anyone I know.

Unless you already have teleportation, because seriously I am your best friend and it would only be a couple minutes out of your day to take me and Britt to various European capitals every weekend. Pleasepleaseplease.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bay Area Hikes

Brittney has been telling people that I know everything about hikes, and someone finally called her bluff, so I'm putting together a list of my favorites. I make no guarantees that my favorites equate to your favorites: choosing which walk to take involves a number of variables, and if junior high taught me anything, it's that I am not like anyone else.

This will probably be an awkward post because I am socially awkward and never claim special knowledge of any subject, and if people ask if I know something about something I usually mumble and look down and hope they think I'm autistic and run away.

First off, bahiker.com is the best source for bay area hikes. You know it's good because I think the site was first built in 1999. She is the best, and if I could I would funnel all traffic to her. Also, I think she has a book. So once you're done there, you can come back here because I am a poor substitute.

THE BEST OF THE BEST

Mission Peak



This is the best hike in the bay area. It's best done in March while it's super green and preferably during a light rain, because it is basically the same as hiking in the Lake District I promise you I have done 65 miles through it and it is the same. Of course, this is only 2.5 miles ish, but it's basically like climbing stairs the entire way. So, not great for kidlets who are walking.

Pros
  • Everything
Cons
  • A billion people on warm Saturdays.
  • Really steep.
  • Not stroller friendly. I mean, you can mostly do it, but you won't like me.
  • Did I say really steep? It's really steep.
  • Not really kid friendly but IT IS WORTH IT.
  • No really, you are basically on a stair master the whole way up.

Phleger Estate



I believe this point here is the most beautiful stretch of trail on the entire peninsula. I'd put it up against any other section in Northern California. There are a few ways to get there: I've taken a couple paths, and Google maps will lead you well, but it's a couple miles in from any put-in point. You can enter via Huddart park if you like; it's usually pretty crowded, and you have to pay. Though there are a billion other trails, so if you have a baby and she/he freaks out, you have options.

You can also be cheap and park at Runnymeade and Raymundo in Woodside, then hike up the road or the trail (which then goes to the road), then enter the park at the end of Runnymeade (no pay gates!), hang a right on Richards, then hang another right on Miramontes (I don't recall it being labeled well). 2 miles out from that route; the miles are pleasant enough, but when you hit the "Miramontes Trail" sign, you've reached Narnia.

There's a calm peaceful redwood grove. Almost nobody makes it out that way, because that trail goes nowhere, and I can tell you that because I have bushwacked my way out of it after panicking and realizing that. It's just you, a creek, ferms, and redwoods. It is divine.

Pros
  • The prettiest trail in Northern California
Cons
  • Not stroller friendly
  • Not super close to any access point

GOOD ENOUGH, BUT YOU WON'T WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THEM

Water Dog Lake Park



Awesome hike up and around a little lake, and if you're lucky, you see some turtles. It's about a half mile from the trailhead at Lake Road and Lyall Way, reasonably steep. From there you can circle the lake, or go on further, and probably make a route a few miles long without dying of boredom. Wide trail, and you'll probably see some mountain bikers.

Pros:
  • Shady
Cons:
  • Not stroller friendly
  • Steep ish
  • Mountain bikers to avoid

Edgewood Park

All of the suckers park in the main lot for the park, and that is a bad idea. Drive up Edgewood and park at the corner of Edgewood and Canada Road, then take the backdoor trail into the park ("Edgewood Trail" on Google Maps). Find your way to the Ridgeview loop, and keep walking until you see the bay, about 1.2 miles. Super pretty in the winter/spring, and we've seen dear, foxes, owls, you name it. You can extend it as far as you'd like, though most other routes see more elevation gain. We just usually loop back around via the Live oak trail.

Pros:
  • Awesome wildlife
  • Easy distance for babies
  • You can scare your spouse by pretending you see coyotes

Cons:
  • There's definitely poison oak in them hills!
  • You can hear 280
  • Not stroller friendly

Crystal Springs

Everyone knows about it, everyone does it, but it's still worth doing. Super pretty paved road along the reservoir. Walk one mile, ten miles, however you like: though I think it's probably a few miles in before it gets really good. If it's a weekday, you can finish off by heading to Pulgas Water Temple, because that is the prettiest structure on the peninsula.

Pros:
  • Yay strollers
Cons
  • Watch out for bikers
  • Watch out for people who should not be wearing spandex
  • No shade

I AM TOO LAZY TO FINISH THIS BLOG POST SO HERE IS A LIST

Arastradero Preserve

Great trails, great in winter/spring, a little ugly in the summer. Way better than trying to beat out all of the millionaire lulu lemon wives for parking across 280 at the dish. Watch out for snakes!

Bedwell Bayfront Park

DO NOT APPROACH THE NORTHEAST CORNER I REPEAT DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR THERE.  I have never smelled anything worse in my life.

Castle Rock State Park

Easy peasy. Really out of the way, but some good views. There are better hikes further out, but this is about as far as we go these days with a baby.

Eaton Park/Big Canyon Park

Eh, walk around steep hills. Shady!

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

It's a drive, but super pretty, though quite small.

Foothills Park

I'm only putting this on here because I know somebody will tell me I "missed the best park ever", but it's only the best park ever because Palo Alto is embittered that no other city on the peninsula would spring for it back in the 50s, so it is closed to non-residents and former residents who no longer have Palo Alto listed on their license.

Lands End

This really belongs up top in the awesome list, but it's too late, I will never finish this post. Start in Sutro baths, and walk along Lands End. You can make it all the way to the Golden Gate bridge, or you can give up and watch crab fishermen at Baker Beach. Either way, it is a magical hike, and the best one in SF.

Los Gatos Creek Trail

Heaven. We should move there. Start in Vasona park.

Matadero Creek Trail

It's beautiful all year long. Maybe it's called something else? It basically runs along Arastradero above Foothill down to Bol park in Palo Alto (with an alternate branch by a cemetery into Los Altos). Just don't run it in hundred degree weather like I foolishly did back in the day. You might also awkwardly run across a half naked friend and have her pretend she doesn't know you.

Rancho San Antonio

Come for the acres of trails, stay for the hordes of people on them.

Redwood Shores Gravel Path

Park around Mariner Park, or if you're feeling brave, park illegally at TownePlace Suites Redwood City, and then walk along the gravel path along the bay for as long as your baby doesn't scream. It is...not that pretty.

There's also the Feral Cat Highway in Foster City (search for New Park in Foster City) which basically is the same thing, but with more feral cats.

Stanford

Forget lousy trails, go walk around Stanford. Or better yet, find the unofficial disc golf course and take a round...

Stevens Creek Trail

I've probably run this trail hundreds of times. Access from whatever point, go for however you like.

There are a billion other trails everyone knows about for the rest of the baylands, so you have a large choice of options. If you go a little further to the northwest, there's Shoreline Lake with all of the boats and fun things going on.

Stulsaft Park

It's worth a visit. Not much distance in here, but at least it's close to 280 and I think I've only heard of two or three wildfires there during our time here.

Wunderlich County Park

Forgettable trails, but there's an awesome stable and sort of a museum (it's the old Folger estate), so I bet older kids dig it.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

traveling with children

It's easy to travel with children: kids are flexible by nature, and don't require strict routines and constant vigilance to avoid collapsing into a fiery pit of screaming madness. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your travel experiences.

Travel with children

First off, bring the kids along. Why leave them at home taking advantage of grandma's generosity, enjoying good food and sleep while you navigate distant cities with ease and naught but carryon luggage? Instead, you can bring them along and make the whole vacation feel a whole lot longer. Not only will you significantly increase your waking hours, but you'll also slow down your sensation of the passing of time.

Some people miss out on their vacation by not pacing a hotel room at 2AM with a screaming child, trying desperately to not get run out of town on a rail by an angry mob of neighbors. These extra moments give you more time to appreciate the fact that you are on vacation, spending hard-earned time off in a fruitless pursuit of relaxation.

The same applies to your daytime touring. Far from being the leisurely strolls through the hallowed halls of ancient European architecture, walking in the steps of Charlemagne and other greats, you can instead do a panicked run-walk through Seattle's public library as your child issues forth glare-inducing yawps. While your beeline to the elevators may only take one tenth of the time you spent in the presence of Holger the Dane,1 it will feel immeasurably longer, like you have spent an eternity dragging your feet through molasses as your child discusses his love of books with the rays of hatred being spread forth on your path like Cyclopsian laser beams.

Lastly, traveling with children helps you achieve a state of zen: scraping your infant's body weight of poo off of him and his onesie in the middle of a public park, surrounded by tourists who keep walking by and staring at your misfortune helps you retreat inside yourself to achieve the ultimate sense of mindfulness.

Stay in hotels

Sure, you could rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere and find a dark room to place your child and feel infinitely less stress when he peeps at night, OR you could instead get a hotel and try to pretend that you aren't in the room when you put him down so he doesn't feel like he has a right to stay up and party. You're then free to spend the hours from six until midnight desperately trying not to pee because he ended up on your bed anyway and the slightest sound is going to get him back up whereupon both your wife and the other hotel guests will shiv you in the back with a rusty spork.

Staying in hotels ensures that the three of you will get absolutely no sleep whatsoever, so when your child starts eating grass in the morning you won't have enough energy to care, and just figure you'll end up changing grassy diapers later. This is good for the child's immune system, according to various uncited journal articles you lazily slur your way through an explanation to your germaphobe and even more sleep-deprived wife.

Fly to your destination

Having spent thirteen hours in a car on a road trip earlier this year, where approximately twelve hours fifty minutes of that time was accompanied by blood-curdling screams of an infant, you should decide to fly to your destination. This is good for the global economy, because when you wake up on Wednesday morning for the eighth time and throw in the towel, Southwest2 will only charge you a billion dollars for the privilege of flying out a day early on a non-full flight.

Tell your friends about your experiences

People are caring and loving and will be empathetic about all parts of the vacation except the kids part where they will fake sympathy, because every parent is secretly intensely competitive about her or his child being better than yours. For example, "my kid sleeps through the night" is another parent's way of saying, "I'm better than you". We all know Jack is going to make the history books, but for the time being, the only way to handle losing the parenting competition is to reach down inside of yourself for that mindfulness you picked up along with all of that poop.

1. Stults, we need to travel again someday. It was so much fun.
2. Motto: we call our change fees "difference in fare".

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

air-to-air refueling

Back in my day, literally before the internet came to our town,1 we entertained ourselves by playing outdoor games with our neighborhood friends. And by "outdoor games" I mean we played Nintendo at Scott's2 house because he had one and we didn't and his parents weren't strict tyrannical nazis, and by "strict tyrannical nazis" I mean they let him do whatever he wanted3 and our mom made us do our homework when she could remember our names.

This wasn't your grandpa's Nintendo. This was more your great-grandpa's Nintendo. There were approximately four colors and three of them were faded red. Mario and Luigi were more gigantic floating gumballs than they were plumbers in a love triangle. The best game on this machine, however, was Top Gun.

That's because Top Gun was a famous movie with Tom Cruise, and this was back in the day when people were naive enough to think that a cool movie translated into a cool game. Never mind that we had never seen Top Gun,4 just the idea of it in a game made us feel old and wise in the ways of the world, and for a brief few moments we were rough-and-tumble F-14 fighter pilots instead of totally clueless kids from suburban Utah where the most worldly thing within five hundred miles was a Catholic church instead of a Mormon one.

And I literally mean a brief moment because none of us ever passed level two, which was the air-to-air refueling maneuver. This is where you pilot a big black box, and try to line up a target with an unspecified point on another big black box until you crash and then Scott takes back over and you have to go home to re-tape your glasses and practice your seventeen instruments for three hours a piece.

However, not all is lost.

Because not all air-to-air refueling techniques involve fictional black boxes. Some involve a fussy hungry child who doesn't quite understand that eating something equates to satiation. This morning as I made the airplane sounds and brought in the refueler to the entrypoint, there was split second when the turbulence in the two vehicles subsided, the warning alarms died down, and working with a very small moving platform, I deftly deposited the fuel payload, and completed the second mission.

Many years have passed; the Nintendo is long gone, and the chemicals have long since leached out of the dump into our water supply, but for a brief moment this morning, I was the Top Gun.

1. I may have made this up, but I distinctly remember reading a headline in the local paper, "World Wide Web Comes to Utah" as a child.
2. Names have been changed mainly due to memory loss.
3. I'm told he was addicted to marijuana by the age of seventeen, but I wouldn't really trust any information from the pre-internet era.
4. See tyrannical parents.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

getting your baby to sleep


Getting a baby to sleep through the night is simple and straightforward: just ask any first time parents with an easy baby and they'll tell you "the trick", where "the trick" isn't correctly attributed to random chance and/or narcolepsy.

There is no greater motivator to believe in a higher power that can force other humans to sleep than hearing a peep uttered out of the other room at three in the morning. Sure, I've prayed in my life, but I've really only prayed on airplanes, and when bouncing a little howling sweatball in the dark of night. There's a reason religious leaders tell you to have kids, and it's not because they're considering future donations they'll receive.

All is not lost, however, because everyone on the internet can tell you what you're doing wrong and exactly how to fix it in exactly four steps that you've already tried six times.

Feed your baby

But don't feed him too often, or he won't sleep, or too infrequently or he won't sleep, and don't feed him right before he goes to sleep because then he will always require a nipple in his mouth to sleep up until the age of nine and a half, and be sure to feed him the right mixture of foremilk and hindmilk because there was once an article that never made it through peer review that said maybe we need to add another dimension to breastfeeding to freak new mothers out about.

Put your baby down to sleep

But don't put him down too soon when he's awake, and don't put him down too late when he's too drowsy, be sure to put him down at exactly the right time, which is approximately the square root of the hypotenuse of the triangle made between your bed and the crib and Kalamazoo, multiplied by the number of currently-visible stars o'clock.

If your baby is crying, visit him occasionally

We made this statement a conditional because in some magical unicorn land this doesn't happen all the time to you, and you do naught but frolic upon fluffy mattresses with happy flowers and duckies whilst being fanned with palm fronds held by golden centaurs.

But don't visit your baby too often or he won't sleep, and don't visit him too infrequently or he will become a terrorist, but visit him just right, and don't let your visits be "too stimulating" because a baby kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs isn't stimulated and you saying something might just be the thing that really wakes him up.

Help your baby attach to a security object

Like a prayer book, or maybe pseudo-science articles written by people with titles, or maybe a bottle of gin, or maybe a Twitter feed and why is nobody publishing articles right now it's already six AM on the East Cost, or maybe a motivational cat poster oh wait you mean a security object for the INFANT.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

and here we have idaho

For any in-laws who might be reading this, or say, my wife, Idaho is a delightful state full of kind, loving people. That is the end of this post, so you may close the tab.

Idaho, and I realize this expression is overused so I use it very purposefully here, is a frozen wasteland. The best thing about Idaho is the height of summer when the thermometer hits 40 and you can start seeing tundra through the glacial cover. Idahoans love to give you a hard time for being weak if you're from a state which encounters the other three seasons instead of just permafrost and breweries to keep the local populace in check.

I used to think I was a capable winter driver until I arrived in Idaho and discovered that they keep all snow plows out on loan to neighboring states, and they pave their roads with ice. I am not exaggerating this: I have seen the pavement outside my in-laws house on one occasion, and I believe that was on account of the homemade firecracker they were lighting off. As the anti-lock brakes engaged and we slid into yet another intersection, in a non-calm voice I inquired of my wife how she maintained her peaceful demeanor, and she told me to relax, that, "I've slid into every intersection in town", and everyone in Idaho just sort of expected that, sort of like how everyone in Utah thinks they are on a secret mission to drive erratically and protect the left lane AT ALL COSTS.

In states where -20 Fahrenheit means the end of civilization as we know it, you could be excused for believing that putting something in a "garage" implies some protection against freezing. Not so in Idaho. Shampoo froze in our car in the garage. SHAMPOO. WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU IDAHO? When you live in a state in which hanging out in the garage gives you a good chance of death, I think it's time to start following those birds south.

Your first clue that Idaho isn't a sunny paradise should be from the thousands of pioneers who walked through it and just kept on walking. It wasn't until the Mormons, a group famous for getting kicked out of nice places into inhospitable wastelands, went there for the scenery and good quality of life just kidding nobody settled in Idaho for quality of life before the invention of fusion reactors and manmade global warming.

But if dying from exposure doesn't worry you, like I said before, it's a delightful state full of kind, loving people. I'd recommend an August visit.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

family road trips

Family road trips are a good way to involve your children in your own pointless stupidity.

Instead of, say, deciding to participate in the miracle of flight and effortlessly descend upon your destination likeunto what an ancient greek god could only dream of doing while being served delicious orange juice and poison peanutless airplane biscuitfood, you could do some bean counting and decide that you would rather save a fraction of a paycheck by putting your child in a plastic cage and restricting his movements for a mere twelve hours, and expect him to not scream bloody murder for the duration of the trip because you are an idiot.

Flying with a baby is, of course, a bad idea, because maybe your baby will make a tiny peep and someone will give you a dirty look, so trade that probabilistic scenario with the absolute certainty that your child will scream directly in your ear for the last six hours of your drive.

Road trips across thousands of miles of frozen barren tundras are the best kind of road trip, because screaming carries much better in colder temperatures at higher altitudes.

Things you could do to alleviate the pain for your child might include:

  • Flying
  • Staying a night in Reno at the cheapest four-star resort in town, which is also, coincidentally, the smelliest four-star resort in town, with the loudest screaming women in the hall at 2:30 AM in town.
  • Flying
  • Staying home
  • Not staying that night in Reno, because it just means you spend twenty-four hours in transit instead of twelve, and avoiding Reno also dramatically reduces the number of interactions you have in lines and elevators with prostitutes and drunken gamblers.
  • Flying

Or maybe you could consider flying.