20 May



This seems like a good transition time, what with all the graduations and weddings and new jobs and people up and moving across the country that I’m seeing.

Add to that the birthdays and the births, the deaths and the cancers; right now feels like the opposite of those increasingly few times when you go a few days wondering if anything’s happening. Boredom doesn’t really feel like an option anymore if I’m paying attention. It’s just this incoming stream of stuff, stuff, stuff and it’s sometimes tough to allocate the appropriate amount of attention and care and congrats +/- sympathy when it’s so much at once. The extreme emotions can cancel each other out and you’re just left with a feeling where you’re not sure in which direction to aim your being and be present. Sometimes, unfortunately, it ends up being not in any one in particular.

I haven’t had any of those things listed above except a birthday last month. The only real transitions for me have been some relocating at work. We’re all changing desk locations due to a large-scale building renovation, not just me. I posted something about it online when I was moving my stuff into boxes to transport a few dozen feet and someone on Google+ assumed I’d lost my job. Funny thing, Google+ always feels a little disconnected like that.

The desk move wasn’t bad at all. We have new carpet, I purged a bunch of stuff and have a neat desk again (but for how long!?) and my new spot is a lot less isolated than my against-the-wall former work home.

The other move at work was more recent; we’re switching blog software, which was a big dreaded thing many of us were worried about that not seems like much less of a big deal in that it works and it not that difficult to use. The old blog and archives are up and we’re hoping there’ll be a solution to moving them over, but for now, the new blog home looks nicer and solves some of the quirky problems we had before (like not being able to use Chrome to blog with or our links showing up as garbled teases on Facebook) while introducing some new quirky problems that are not as visible to readers.

I wish I had some stories to tell you about the last few weeks, but they have been boring in the most happy way. I’ve been spending more time than usual at home with the kids and as frustrating as that can be in small moments (“No, Carolina, no, put the pen down, no, don’t write on the cabinets, stop, please, no, put down the pen, give me the pen, HERE, THE PEN, HAND ME THE PEN, STOP WRITING, OK, why are you crying, I’m sorry, here’s the pen back, NO STOP WRITING ON THE CABINETS!”) it is also kind of wonderful in hundreds of completely boring ways that amount to me watching my kids do their thing and just charm me and warm my heart.

Sometimes I post videos or photos when they do something particularly visual, but it doesn’t come close to capturing what it’s like when they really turn on the magic. Maybe they’re singing along to a song or making a little gesture I’ve never seen before or saying something random and hilarious (My wife: “Omar, get the stuff out of the car.” Lilly: “Yeah, OMAR, get the stuff out of the car!”).

There’s a trade-off, of course, there always is. I don’t think about moving my family to another city because that’s off the table. That’s something we decided pretty firmly once the kids were born. I don’t travel much away from the kids, maybe only once or twice a year. My going off to do stuff like working on videos or attending conferences (especially on weekends) or taking advantage of attending really cool stuff in Austin just doesn’t happen as much anymore. I miss an awful lot. I turn down a lot of things and beg off a lot on things that are not entirely unreasonable.

When they were much smaller, it was a lot harder to do that. I really did feel like I was exchanging my youth and Good Times for boring, frustrating babysitting. Now it’s really not hard to make those decisions. I think about what it’ll mean not to be able to tell them goodnight myself or how being away for an entire weekend means I can’t take them to the park or the zoo or Schlitterbahn, or the Jumpy Place or even just the Donut Palace on a Saturday morning (their new favorite hangout) and how I would feel if my dad was always gone.

Wanting to be here and having to be here can be two very different things, but sometimes they go together and you feel like you’re spending your time well.

Work and other stuff

I mentioned earlier that I moved to a new blog for Digital Savant. Here’s the link for the new blog and the address for the old blog where the archives are still housed for anything older than last week.


Last week’s column was a big review piece featuring four smart phones, the BlackBerry Z10 (the one without the physical keyboard), the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Nokia Lumia 920.

It was a little crazy having four extra cell phones in the house. If I had them turned on at the same time, one Twitter reply or email would set them all chiming at once, which begins to make you feel like a hamster responding to the ring of a bell.

This week’s column was a roundup of travel apps. I don’t travel a lot, so I relied on the wisdom of my friends and co-workers who do. It turns out they had great suggestions and I plan to use some of these apps when we go on a big family trip this summer.

The Digital Savant Micro for the last two weeks included one about Adobe’s Creative Cloud (their subscription service) and “Rougelike,” a genre of computer role-playing games I’d only heard about recently even though they’ve been around a while. I also did one recently about gesture recognition, like the air swiping you find (but which doesn’t work very well) on the Galaxy S4 phone.

3-D printers discussed by monkey and sloth

The “Space Monkeys!” are still at it on our comic strip site. Meany pumped some iron in this strip and the possibility of self-reproducing 3-D printers were taken to their logical conclusion in this strip.

Lastly, this has nothing to do with me, but my former wonderful bosses who founded Television Without Pity have gotten back together to launch a brand-new TV site, Previously.TV. Just a week after it went live, it’s already got some must-read regular features and if you know what the original TWOP was like, you won’t be surprised by the sharp writing and the gorgeous site design.


This seems to keep happening: I write a blog post (like the one above), sit on it a day to add images and fine tune it, and then something happens that seems to render everything I wrote less important (or beside the point, at least).

Tonight, it’s the horrifying tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, a place where I still have friends and just up the road from where I lived for years in Norman and in Midwest City. I watched the awful dark clouds churn at work on a live video feed and when I saw what it looked like, I knew it was going to be bad.  Even without seeing where it was touching ground and what damage it was doing, it looked like the end of the world. It wasn’t going to be anything but devastating.

This happened before after I’d moved away, in 1999, and for months I heard stories about the devastation and the loss. The 1999 tornado apparently passed less than a half mile from where my family lived when we were there.

Tonight, the death toll in Oklahoma is at 51 and many of those are children. There’s nothing I can say or offer. As with the 1999 storm and even further back to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I feel the same helpless sorrow.  It somehow makes it a little better to know that Oklahomans will respond the way they always have to these horrible events. They will respond with strength and grace and they will rebuild. It’s also a little worse to know that. Why should the people of Oklahoma, some of the finest people I’ve ever met, have to suffer through this again.

If I think about it too much, it just makes me hurt and hurt. Right now, it’s just heartbreak. I’m waiting and hoping they find more of those kids.

Please help if you can.