Archive | March, 2016

To Hell With Normal

24 Mar

To Hell With Normal

 

letter OOoh, the adventures we had this past weekend. Not to put too fine a point on it, I took the big kids to the inaugural Silicon Valley Comic Con. On balance, the experience was not a new one for them. Last year I took them to the Star Wars Celebration (and have yet to blog about it. Can you believe it?) where they got a full dose of what it means to do a convention. The only thing that could have been bigger would be the San Diego Comic Con, and that’s still a few years off for them.

Prepare Yourselves

After posting pictures of our shenanigans on Facebook, my old Jr. High English teacher and life-long mentor, Kitty, left the comment: “YOU S#@$$%! How will your kids ever turn out “normal”? That’s right, they won’t. They’ll be extraordinary! Love ya.”

The kids got to meet Kitty earlier this year. "How did you like her, kids?" "She's super cool, but she has a potty mouth." "Yes. Yes she does."

The kids got to meet Kitty earlier this year. “How did you like her, kids?” “She’s super cool, but she has a potty mouth.” “Yes. Yes she does.”

Let’s just say Kitty shares my distain for all things “normal”.

Sharing vodka on the rocks with the woman who, 28 years ago, taught me a healthy disdain for authority.

Sharing vodka on the rocks with the woman who, 28 years ago, taught me a healthy disdain for authority.

I have no intention of giving my kids a “normal” childhood. I want their childhood to be AMAZING. This entire blog is dedicated to chronicling the pursuit of “amazing” while infusing them with a firm grasp of perspective and social-competence which, to my thinking, is the only really valuable component of “normal”.

Meeting The Shat

Meeting The Shat

When I learned that William Shatner was going to be signing autographs at the convention, I knew that it would be an experience my classic Star Trek-loving daughter would appreciate. Add that to the fact that Stan Lee would be making one of his last-ever public appearances (the guy is 94 after all) and I knew I would regret it if I passed up the opportunity.

OMG! Stan Lee!!

OMG! Stan Lee!!

So this past Saturday I loaded Episodes IV and V into the car and drove them to the San Jose Convention Center for a day of geek-tasticness. The show did not disappoint. The cosplayers were in full-force. The kids got to play with some virtual reality rigs, talk to the local R2D2 Builders Club chapter, spend their allowance money on super-nerdy collectables and on and on…

VRIV

R2s

There was even a bonus that we weren’t expecting. For the past few weeks my 7yo Episode V has been working his way through the book “The Martian” (because you can’t watch the movie unless you’ve read the book first). As we were waiting in line to meet The Shat(ner), Episode V was flipping through the convention program. Suddenly he went white and started shaking, pointing to a picture in the program, “Daddy! Daddy! Look! Andy Weir is here. Andy Weir is here!!”

andy

Andy Weir is the author of “The Martain”… the book that my 7yo has proclaimed as his favorite book of all time. So of course we had to make sure that connection was made. I tell you, Episode V was more excited to meet Andy Weir than he was for Captain freakin’ Kirk – and props to him for realizing early that authors are cooler than television/movie actors.

Got it

So here’s to all the parents out there doing everything they can to make their kids’ childhoods amazing. Say it with me now:

 

To hell with “normal”!

 

-Dork Dad

TREBUCHET!!

15 Mar

trebuchet header

 

letter There are times to be subtle and there are times to be awesome. There are times to sit inside and play video games and there are times to get outside and howl at the moon. There are times to be careful and there are times to scare the neighbors just a little bit. For those of you who feel the need to inject a little “awesome” into your life, who think the neighbors have become a bit too complacent, who need to take a step or two closer to the edge, I have the prescription for you:

 

Build a trebuchet.

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I have long been an advocate of getting power tools into the hands of children, and I make no secret of my love for augmenting the science curriculum at my kids’ elementary school. You might ask “How do you cap off a 2nd grade lesson on levers?” Simple. Construct a medieval siege engine/war machine, bring it on campus and fire projectiles at a couple dozen 8 year olds.

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As cool as the science-factor is, the real benefit of a project like this is the time you get to spend with your kids. It’s about learning how to use power tools. It’s about countless trips to Home Depot (and the amazing hotdogs from the cart outside). It’s about researching and planning. It’s about learning from your failures and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

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I will happily admit I’m not cool enough to engineer a trebuchet on my own, from scratch. But I am cool enough to go on the internet, find a well-made tutorial (which you are welcome to use yourself here) and adapt/modify it to meet my needs. Remember, the value here is not in having a functioning war machine in your garage (cool as that may be). The value is in FAILING along the way, and in learning from those failures. As you can see, we had to go back to the drawing board more than once on this little project.


 

 

 

 

You don’t have to have scientific super powers. You don’t have to be world-renowned in your field. You don’t even have to like other people’s kids. In whatever way possible, in whatever capacity you can, help out in your kid’s classroom. Kids spell “love” T.I.M.E. and there is nothing like the pride on your kid’s face when they see you there in front of all their peers. It’s like they’re saying without words “See? That’s my daddy and he’s the most awesome daddy in the universe.”

 

 

…of course it helps if you can bring a trebuchet to class with you.

 

-Dork Dad

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