As the kids get older, it’s been fun to take them to various events to “expand their cultural horizons”.
I remember when I was a kid, my parents taking me to things like plays, musicals, orchestral concerts. True “high culture” stuff.
Me? I went with Daughter to see Orange Goblin and Holy Grail. Oh sure, we’ll do some of the “high culture” stuff too, but I’m still going to do the things I enjoy, and that tends to be a little rough around the edges.
So, speaking of “high culture”….
I’ve wanted to see Gov’t Mule for some time. I’d call myself a casual fan overall, but I really love the passion and soul Warren Haynes puts into his singing, playing, and songwriting. I know they’re a band that you have to see live to truly appreciate, and finally I got the chance.
As a side note, I had never heard of opening act Vintage Trouble before buying tickets for this show. When I saw the bill, checked VT out, and Daughter and I became instant fans. Really good stuff. And their live show? Huge energy. Singer Ty Taylor knows how to command the stage and the audience. Do yourself a favor and check these guys out. Here are 3 tracks to check out: “Nobody Told Me” (the first song I heard, and it sold me), “Blues Hand Me Down“, and “Pelvis Pusher” (if this song doesn’t make you want to get up and boogie, I don’t know how to help you).
We figured it would be fun to take the whole family to see Gov’t Mule. I wanted to go, Daughter did, Wife did, and the boys… well, let’s just say they were good sports.
We piled in the car, went downtown, had a great dinner, then into the show. Vintage Trouble tore it up, and being a live show in Austin… everyone around us was sparking up.
Then Gov’t Mule took the stage, and suddenly I found myself transported to Amsterdam.
I swear I’ve not seen and smelled so much pot smoke in my life. I think even the trees were toking.
It was evident this wasn’t sitting well with the family. They’re just not around smoke at all (neither Wife nor I smoke, and with Austin’s indoor smoking ban, you just don’t get exposed much to any smoke). Plus, marijuana smoke is a lot more harsh than tobacco smoke, so young lungs just couldn’t take it. It was even a little much for me, but I deal with it because I’m wanting to see the show.
After a little bit, the kids were feeling bad, so we tried moving back to a more open spot. It was better (and tho further from the stage, it was elevated so you could see better), but still not great. I mean, we were near the entrance so no one was going to smoke pot there, but enough cigarettes against already irritated child airways and well….
Sometimes you gotta be Dad.
We left the show about half-way through.
Yeah I was disappointed, but the kids are of course more important. I’ll check the rest of the show out on muletracks later.
But there was some fun and good that came out of it.
The kids are now well-aware of what marijuana smells like. “Mom? I smell skunk…” Yes, Youngest; that’s marijuana.
And I think they’ve all been cured of any desire to smoke pot. It’s good when you don’t have to struggle later to pull up the weeds (pun intended), when the seeds don’t get sown in the first place.
I forgot a couple other things I found.
Stencyl. This looks neat. It I haven’t used it, but from what I read it looks like it follows the same sort of drag and drop “block” programming structure and logic that Scratch does. But it can be used to actually make iOS and Android products that you can actually ship and sell. So maybe after Scratch, this would be something to try. It would take the knowledge they had before, but now they have to actually make something polished and ship. A good “bridge” between the two worlds, so to speak.
There’s also GameSalad, which is made right here in Austin.
Youngest walks up to me about a month ago and asks how you program (write software for computers).
Now I’ve talked about learning to program before and even a second time. I always come back to Karel the Robot as a great way to learn how to program. Why? Because you get to learn the constructs of programming without being burden by the constructs of programming. You can learn about loops and conditionals and variables and logic and flow, but you don’t have to spend 3 hours debugging a problem to find out it was because you misplaced a comma. And it doesn’t matter if you really do anything useful or not at this stage, in terms of gaining some employable skill (no job listings for Karel knowledge); once you learn how to program, then languages are just languages and toolsets are just toolsets.
Back when I looked at the LEGO Heavy Weapons book, No Starch Press offered other books to me to review. I asked about the Python for Kids book because it looked like it might be a great way to start the kids into programming. They sent me a copy, but I have yet to go through it. Mostly inertia on my part. Daughter asked me about it, but just a passing interest. And I must admit, while I think the book is well done for what it is, I still think it’s not a perfect start because there’s issues of language that get in the way. You have to get bogged down by syntax of Python. It’s not horrible of course, but I know things can be simpler. I think this book would make a good “phase 2″.
When Youngest asked me again, I went looking around. I found Scratch from MIT.
I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for.
Youngest and I played around with this for a bit, doing the tutorial. I saw how Scratch gave you all the language, all the logic, even some advanced things like variables, lists, and inter-object messaging. It’s actually pretty cool. I liked the way you just drag and drop to make logic go. It also is able to give you direct feedback, which I think is good for capturing a child’s interest in the topic. I encouraged Youngest to “just try it”. What would happen if? Just try it and see! The environment is very forgiving, but even still, you can make mistakes and have to learn to debug.
I also really dig that all Scratch projects are “open source”. You can look at what others have done, and then you can look at the “source code” to see how they did it. I was able to find a simple game on the site, then show everyone how they made it happen and how neat that was.
So I’m working on this with Youngest. I told him a simple project he could start with would be reinventing comics. We all love Pearls Before Swine and I told him he could start by taking a simple Pearls comic (maybe just Pig and Rat talking to each other) and recreating it in Scratch. It’s a simple project, simple goals, but challenging enough to get your feet wet with.
And we joke… with Youngest programming… Daughter creating artwork and music… Oldest creating artwork, music, and overall design work… they all like to make movies, do voice work. Oh geez… I’ve got an in-house dev shop now!
Man, I wonder how far this ball will roll.
I do not live my life in a typical way. Of course, what is “typical”, but here it tends to mean that those around me whose lives intersect with mine in some meaningful way… my life doesn’t follow their same patterns.
I get a lot of grief and backlash because of it.
Overall I don’t mind because I am generally fine with the choices I make for myself and my family. But I cannot deny that it gets old constantly dealing with it.
People cannot accept me as I am (and disagree), they must agree with me (meaning what I do must intersect with their choices, outlook, morals, ethics, etc.)… else somehow I’m the one that’s fucked up.
I do understand this mentality and approach, it’s very human. It’s how we tend to deal with that which is “different”.
I guess what gets really old is where people focus their attention: they focus on what they see as wrong, instead of what they could see is right.
For example, our choice to homeschool our kids. People focus on the “S” word… socialization. Won’t your kids miss out? Won’t they have friends? What about as they get older, prom? Oh, I feel so bad for all the things your kids won’t get to do.
And that’s what so many people focus on, and the only thing they see: what they won’t do. Or rather, what they perceive they won’t do.
They don’t see the wonderful education. They don’t see the options in teachers and curriculum. They don’t see our kids are actually learning, not just learning how to take a test. They are developing, not just trying to pad their achievement list to compete for college entry. They don’t see the lessons they learn in how to interact with people of all ages. They don’t see the leadership taken on by the older children as they help the younger children. They don’t see how instead of spending all day locked in a classroom, eyes front, stop being creative, conform, do as you are told… that they can have freedom, they can efficiently complete their work then spend the remainder of their day exploring other avenues (how else did Daughter get to be such a great artist?). The list can go on.
So many people are concerned about what we miss out on, they don’t realize themselves what they are missing out on in their perceptions. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do in life, you cannot have it all. You will not experience everything, and there’s going to be far more things you will miss out on than you will experience. Instead of focusing on what you miss out on, why not focus on what you are gaining?
We don’t make the choices in our life because we want to miss out on things. No, we make choices because we see an overall gain. Oh sure, there may be some downsides to the choice, but we only choose to do things if in the end it’s a net gain. Why is this constantly overlooked? Why are we looked at for what we’re losing, instead of what we’re gaining?
We should not overlook loss, negatives, downsides, etc.; these are important aspects of the evaluation process. What needs to be remembered is they are not the only things to look at; you must look at the gains and upsides too. You must remember that if someone makes a choice, they likely did it because they see the most benefit from that choice over all other possible choices. Seek to understand and see their (potential) gains, instead of merely dwelling on your own cognitive dissonance.
We take a break from the typical topics of guns and weight lifting to talk about something else.
I’m not perfect.
I’m happy to admit it.
I don’t expect you to be perfect either.
And, I’ve worked to make that clear to my children.
I read this article and thought to share it. (h/t Cass and El).
I’m talking about kids who are well adjusted, high functioning, easy to talk to and seem to have nothing to prove.
Secretly (until now), I’ve noticed a common theme amongst well-adjusted kids. The theme seems to be this: Great kids come from families in which parents are real about their shortcomings. They come from families who live and believe in grace.
I’ve also noticed the opposite. Many of my friends who’ve confessed to me they’ve had problems in life come from families in which parents (and mostly the Dad, honestly) have a hard time admitting they’re wrong. Often they come from religious families in which the parents felt they had to play a role model of perfection.
I’m sure I’m not the best Dad in the world. My kids think to seem I’m OK, but I know my shortcomings. I know what I’m failing at, and I admit it to my kids. They forgive me, and we work on it together. I think about the things my own Dad did and didn’t do, and how I swore I’d be different. In fact, I was thinking about this very thing the other day, and then that Harry Chapin song came into my head. It was both me as the son, growing up to be just like the Dad I swore I wouldn’t be like, and me as the Dad both not wanting my sons to be like me but fearing they might. And if that’s going to be the case, what do I need to change about myself so that if in fact they will be like me, hopefully they’ll not have my same failings.
And so, sometimes that requires admitting my mistakes, my failings, my weaknesses to my kids.
Sorry to admit this Mom & Dad, but I don’t really recall them ever being so frank with me. Admitting when they made a mistake. Apologizing when they were wrong. I do remember having feelings of resentment because when it was quite evident they were in the wrong, they didn’t admit it, they didn’t own and fess up to it, they didn’t apologize for it. No, it’s not time for a pity party for me, but I guess that is something I swore I’d do differently, and have succeeded at.
I don’t like bullshit, I’m not one for bullshit, I won’t bullshit other people, and I don’t like people who bullshit me. That holds especially true for my kids. If I made a mistake and didn’t own it, that’d be bullshit; thus, I own it.
Trust is so important with kids. When they’re young you can rule them with an iron fist. But as they get older, they can and will make their own decisions. I know that eventually trust is the only thing we’ll have, and I have to trust they will obey and they have to trust that my judgment and guidance is right and best. And in part of that, I know that showing I’m not perfect and that yes sometimes I will make a mistake, that sometimes I might steer them wrong… well, that’s helpful for them to know. Because they can know I’m working truly in their best interest, and that I will make best effort for them. It allows them to have stronger faith in me. I too must also accept they will make mistakes, more likely than not since they are kids and learning. And that I must allow them to make mistakes, to learn from them, and to grow and move on.
I’ve also found telling stories of my own mistakes, my own failures, it’s helped the kids. It’s helped them realize that mistakes aren’t the end of the world. This was especially true for Oldest, who never took failure very well and sometimes it would keep him from wanting to ever try because he didn’t want to risk failing. To see successful and happy Dad, and that he made it here despite that… that Dad learned, what Dad learned, and how Dad overcame and did better? Who else should be that good role model in life, but Dad, right?
No, I’m not perfect.
But I try to be better every day.
And sharing my failings with my kids, hopefully helps make them better every day too.
…about running a small business, what would it be?
I know other small-business-owners and entrepreneurs read my blog. So if there is one thing you can share with me from your experience, please do.
A lesson learned.
A mistake made (and how to not repeat it).
A wise principle.
A guiding concept.
Whatever it might be, towards helping one achieve success.
For example, Michael Lazerow says the #1 mistake entrepreneurs make?
…FOCUSING ON THE WRONG THINGS.
Successful entrepreneurs focus exclusively on efforts that matter and are able to tune out the rest. People who focus succeed. It’s that simple.
So, what can you teach me? I’m ready to listen. Please add a comment.
I saw the above image posted to the DangerouslyHardcore Facebook page. In case the image goes away it says:
Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.
I’ve had a bunch of things rolling in my head for a while, and seeing the above image/text along with something that happened in Wife’s life a few days ago… it changed my priorities regarding my commitments.
I had committed to being more involved in shooting competitions, like IDPA. That’s going down the priority ladder.
I had committed to working on a new iPhone app. This commitment was made some time ago, work started, but has been treading water for too many months. This is going up the priority ladder.
I only have so much time and energy. The app went down the ladder because after staring at the computer all day and busting my ass all week for the day job, I just didn’t have the desire to look at the computer any more. I was (am) drained. Other things went up the priority ladder because they were not-computer things. They gave me something else to do, something else to occupy my mind and energy. Plus they were things that needed attention.
Well… the lack of app commitment also strikes a little closer because this particular app project is very personal. It’s something I’m doing with Wife, and it means a lot to her. That I haven’t been able to give it the attention it’s due is not right, and I feel horrible. It’d be one thing to not honor the commitment to myself, or to anyone else. But to not honor this commitment to my wife? That’s not right, and that hurts me deeply. It wasn’t not honored out of malice or anything bad, just exhaustion. I need to do something about it.
And in some regard, the mood for the app has left me. It’s mostly because I’ve been away, had too many false restarts, and it’s just hard to get motivated yet yet yet again. But I know once I truly get back into it, I’ll roll along alright. I need to rediscover my commitment, and see it through.
So, since much of my “free time” is on the weekends, that means I need to spend it working on this app.
That means shooting matches is out, for now. I don’t expect the app will take me all year to do, so I reckon later this year I should be able to make it out to matches. As well, so long as I keep dry firing at home and regularly shooting, like when I go out to KRT to teach, that’s alright. I mean, if I can run through a few magazines, run a few drills, assess state of things, then go home and dry fire to bring up the skill, then go back and shoot to measure progress, really, that’s OK. That will hold me for now. That I’m just shooting live at least once a month is well, about what shooting competition would be. Granted, there isn’t any of the pressure or environment, but this is the trade-off for now while I live up to my more important commitment. I just have to keep up with dry fire and ensuring I put at least a mag or two through the gun (for myself, with purpose) when I go out to teach.
I’m not abandoning my commitment to shooting competition, just changing course a bit. I have to, because Wife is more important. And hopefully it brings other commitments back, like more regular dry fire and practice.
I can only look at this as a good thing, as long as I remain committed.
If you look down on “rednecks”, both the people and the things they do, then you should stop reading now because this post will probably offend you.
Had a wonderful day with the family today. Originally we were to do this during my Christmas vacation, but since I was down with the flu it didn’t happen. Fortunately the heavens saw fit to give us today, so the opportunity was taken.
The main thing? Going to the gun range and shooting. Some work, some recreation. Thank you, Karl, for letting us use the range.
It started off with me doing some live fire pistol skills work, because of my desire to start shooting IDPA. Details on this elsewhere. Meanwhile, Wife and Kiddos were inside the range house doing schoolwork (the joys of homeschooling).
When I finished my work, I took Wife out for a little work with the shotgun. She wants to improve her proficiency with the shotgun, so we did some work there. Alas, a 12 gauge, even with low-recoil rounds, just isn’t in the cards for her (Karl, if you find her shoulder, please let me know). She’s just fine with the 20 gauge. I just wish … oh wait! It looks like Federal now has a 20 gauge buckshot with FLITECONTROL wad (PD256). Holy crap! This is awesome. Of course, as I look around right now, everyone’s out of stock. But wow, this is great. I’m there and it’s pretty much removed my reserves about the 20 gauge. Sure it’d be nice to standardize on 12 gauge, but oh well. At least now I don’t have to put up with sub-optimal 20 gauge buckshot.
After that, Wife was done for the day. With the wet weather and the temps in the 40′s, it was just too cold for her to keep going. But the Kiddos were ready.
I recently purchased a new shotgun and needed to break it in and ensure function. I ran a bunch of 12 gauge target loads through it, then some full-power buckshot (of course, the Federal FLITECONTROL), and some slugs (Brenneke low-recoil slugs). The slugs didn’t want to go into the mag tube easily for some reason, looks like the brass was hanging up on the retainer clips, but no big deal really. Everything functioned great. I did put a 12″ Hogue Short Shot stock on it (shorter LOP makes for easier shouldering) and while 12″ LOP is a little too short for me, it worked out alright and I didn’t smack my thumb into my face as much as I expected I would. I consider the shotgun functional and able to be pressed into service.
Oldest has never shot a 12 gauge before — he’s always been a bit recoil shy. But today he stepped right up to the plate and fired it like a champ. We’ll work on speeding up his shot recovery, but he really did a great job with it.
Youngest has never fired a “big gun” before, just .22′s. But he wanted to try the shotgun. 12 gauge was too much tho, so I pulled out the 20 gauge (a Mossberg 500 Bantam youth model) and let him try it with some light target loads (which are still kinda stout). He handled it well, tho was taken aback a bit because it was a big boom — again, it’s the most gun he’s ever fired. But he did come back for a second shot, but that was enough.
We put the shotguns away and took out an AR-15. I originally didn’t plan on bringing out an AR, but when packing up this morning, Oldest expressed interest in shooting it and I wasn’t going to say no. Again, he’s been very recoil shy in the past, only wanting to shoot .22′s. So for him to want to step up is great in my book. I mean, I know he can handle it, after having shot that 255# feral hog a couple years ago with a .308 bolt-action. Oldest got to learn what “giggle factor” is. He was having WAY too much fun with that rifle — I should have brought more ammo. Daughter shot it for a bit, but she tweaked something in one of her arms the other day and so it was kinda painful to hold up the rifle. Youngest tried the AR as well, and was quite pleased that the recoil was far less than the shotgun — tho it was a heavier gun to hold up.
We put the long-guns away, and pulled out everyone’s favorite: the Buck Mark Camper. All 3 kiddos shot at the steel targets with this, and it’s just fun to plink with such a low-recoil gun — tho Youngest did get bit by the slide. Daughter showed some good improvement on trigger control. She asked how you get to shoot faster, so I explained a bit and I guess something clicked because she was shooting a little faster by the time we wrapped up.
While a lot of today was about having fun, it also was with purpose. I want my kids to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves. Yes, that means being able to shoot a gun proficiently. You may not understand why that’s the case, and if you don’t understand I’d be happy to discuss it with you; even if you don’t agree with it, I hope you are willing to have an open mind and come to listen and understand. The guns shot, the things we did, all done with purpose, even if I was the only one that knew what the purpose was.
Alas, we had to wrap it up before everyone was tired of it, but that’s ok — always leave them wanting more.
We headed to the Elm Creek Cafe for a delicious lunch (everyone loves that place), then back home.
Oh… and the Buc-ee’s in Bastrop is finally open. Yes, we stopped in. Finally my family came to understand why I adore Buc-ee’s.
We had a great day. Smiles all around. Happy family. I can’t wait to do it again.
I gave Wife a unique gift for Christmas – a custom-made kitchen knife.
(click the picture to embiggen)
It has been dubbed Anthophila. Click here to see more pictures and specs on the knife.
Wife had no idea, hadn’t asked for anything like this, but over the years I’ve seen what’s been needed in the kitchen and thought this could be a welcome thing. Fortunately, my buddy Shawn Hatcher is a knife-maker, Hatcher Knives, so I asked if he could make this for me. We sat down together, I gave Shawn some goals, and let him do his thing. We liked the santoku concept, but I wanted a “taller flat” (I’m probably not using the right terms) to give more surface for the fingers to ride against when chopping, plus it allows the knife to be used as a “scoop” for taking chopped food off the board. I still wanted some sort of “tip” to make it useful for getting into tight spots, carving out, and so on.
I think Shawn did a great job.
Wife’s been using the knife for about a week now and is enjoying it. But you can tell there’s some reserve about using it. Exactly what? We don’t know. We’ve had a nice set of J.A. Henckels knives since our wedding, so I reckon part of her reserve is just that it’s different and she needs some time to get used to a different feel in the hand. Plus, I had to design the knife blind, taking her into consideration but never letting her in on the process. Daughter did help out, but that could only go so far (e.g. their hands aren’t quite the same dimensions). Still, we’re chalking this up to acceptable, and if after using it for some time Wife figures out what she likes and doesn’t like, how she might want to refine the design, or even start with a whole new design… well… we can do that, thank you Hatcher Knives.
Check out Shawn’s work. He’s developing a style and quickly maturing as a knife-maker. I’ve enjoyed reading his shop updates and watching not just the knife-making process but also his evolution as a maker. It’s always cool to watch an artist over time.
Yesterday afternoon the family went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This is our fourth time seeing them in concert, and it’s always an enjoyable experience.
But this time was a lot more enjoyable — especially for Youngest.
Like all TSO shows, it’s a giant rock concert with loads of class, music blending classical and rock (hey, all the guys behind TSO are heavy metal guys), lights, lasers, smoke, pyrotechnics… just a great time. This year was different from years past in that their 3rd album, The Lost Christmas Eve, was the focus of the first half of the show. It was a great choice and welcome change. Still, the storytelling was awesome, and overall production top-notch, as always.
We did notice some differences, like the show was tighter. A little less banter and talk, a little less improv, and the second half “rock concert” didn’t have any noticeable covers or jams. But that’s all good because again, it made for a nice change in the show. We stopped going to see them for a little bit because it was “the same thing” over and over, which was OK but you know… you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it again, and why spend all that money again? So we really liked the change. We do hope as they put out more non-Christmas albums to try to catch them on one of their non-winter tours.
I am a member of the TSO Fan Club, and because of that I’m able to get early tickets and good seats at the shows. This was no exception, and I chose some nice floor seats. Not too close, not too far back, but close enough to really see everything yet far enough back to be able to take in the whole of the show. Well… I think because we had such good placement, we got a treat.
Before the show started, while we were just sitting and waiting, a member of the road crew came up to us and pointed at Youngest and asked if he’d like to come on stage at the end of the show and receive a present from the band. Whoa! Of course we said yes. He asked a few questions (e.g. first time seeing the band? no, fourth), we discussed the logistics, and that was settled. He would come over to us during the last song to get us, then walk us over to the end/side of the stage where there are steps, and then Youngest would go on stage with the band and receive a gift.
And so it happened.
He came up on stage, they gave him a guitar, autographed by the band. They gave him a chance to say something, but he didn’t — he told us later he was just in shock and giddy from it all, had no idea what to say being up there with them in front of 5000 people.
But he really enjoyed it and it was such a cool moment for him and our family. I know it’s a moment we’ll never forget.
If you’ve never seen TSO live, you’re missing out on a great experience. Go see them if you get the chance.