Dear Js,

You two came back from school, asleep, with no pants on. I asked, “What happened to his pants?” Mama said you guys got them soaked in mud. Both of you were so tired, you slept from 5.30pm thru dinner. No bath. J, you cried on the couch and I came to hug you. You fell back asleep, half in my lap and half trying not to slide off the couch. When you started snoring again, I put you back on the couch. You kept sleeping so we carried you to bed.

It was a strange night. We had a quiet dinner with no kids. No screaming, no pleading to eat, no lunging to catch food falling to the floor. We had an awkward conversation and we exchanged awkward glances at each other. We forgot how to behave with each other without any kids.

In the back of our minds, we were nervous you’d wake up. But it stayed quiet. Kimi curled up on the top of the couch. We didn’t kick her off this time. It made us imagine how it could be like this in 2 years — when you’re 6 and 4 — when you’ll sleep through the night and for over 10 hours.

j, I was about to turn off the light after I showered and dressed. But I saw you there on the bed. You surprised me. My little girl. Still asleep. Is this how big you are now? And that girl face, not a baby anymore. You’re always smiling, laughing and talking when you’re awake. And now with your eyes were closed I didn’t recognize you. So I rested my head in my hands next to you. I stared at you to try to remember what you look like. I think of you as a baby but you don’t look like one anymore. It made me remember that one day you’ll be a lady. One day you’ll grow up and we’ll have grown-up conversations.

You’re so happy all the time. It’s not because of me, that’s for sure. I’m afraid to take you for granted, but I already do. I’m afraid one day you won’t be happy and carefree, and it might be because of my dreary moods. Kids find fun everywhere and grownups say you can’t have too much of it.

My writing has been slacking. It’s hard to find the time. Part of it is time, and part of it is getting started. About getting started: with anything worth doing, it’s never easy. There are so many things you’d rather be doing. Why suffer to make something when you can just enjoy something someone else made? That’s what comprises almost all entertainment these days. Most people enjoy sitting back, tuning out and letting someone else entertain them. Games, TV, movies. We’ve stopped playing games, and we moved our TV out to the garage. It’s always in the back of my mind how nice it could be… what if… I just let go? Why force yourself to read and write and work when you can just veg out and sip on mindless entertainment like you used to?

I don’t know. I think part of me is afraid that if I let go I may never be able to come back. Like slipping back to an unhealthy diet. But there’s also the feeling of “yuck” when I imagine myself living like I used to. I was a master of wasting time. Which is interesting because I never had enough time when I was single either. So the trick is what you spend your time on.

I’m still not spending my time wisely enough… still stuck doing low-return work. I juggle between coding and reading. Bleh, I’m behind on my reading too. Shit’s piling up everywhere. Yeah, that’s because I’ve been coding. I guess I might as well show you my progress, before you start thinking I’m just making excuses:

Secret Campfire. I trashed the old one last year. It wasn’t good enough. Too slow, too buggy, too confusing, etc. It was probably the 3rd or 4th version I’ve junked. It’s hard to bite that bullet to restart from scratch. But I’m the most pleased with this latest version. It’s simpler. More focused. I’ve used everything I learned to make it better engineering-wise too — tougher, faster, leaner, easier to maintain, etc. I’m taking more time than I should, fussing over each detail. Surprisingly I’m enjoying the challenge of having to be thoughtful about each design element. Like how to take complicated ideas and present them in a simple way. Or how to show as little information at a time as possible, to not overwhelm. In away, this project is like an investment. It’s for my “portfolio”, which is my insurance. If I end up switching industries, this would be one of my showcase pieces to talk about. That’s why I’m trying to make each piece as good as I can, the best way I know how.

Sometimes sketching is the only way I can get thoughts straight

Sometimes sketching is the only way I can get thoughts straight

Design is hard! If there’s one thing I learned from Apple’s Jony Ive, it’s that design isn’t art. It’s being thoughtful about how hard it is for your fellow human to accomplish things. Then helping them do it easily and have them feel good about it. I’m more proud of this latest thing I’ve made so far. J, you’ve looked over my shoulder a couple of times — you like to tell me which pictures to open, giggle at the titles and read the gibberish stories. This was the first incarnation that I showed it to mama too. She’s intruiged about it. When I’d say it’s an “exercise” for my portfolio, she would say she hopes I consider opening it to people. I don’t know if she’s just being supportive. But you know, Stephen King’s wife saved “Carrie” from the trashcan. I definitely plan to keep my trashcan overflowing; maybe something worth saving will be in there some day. But don’t get your hopes up 🙂

You know, writing is good when you finally get around to it. It’s like dragging your ass to the gym or to do something that’s good for you. You hate getting to it but when you do, you wish you did it more.

“Thank You” button. Last week, I watched a video about Editing that blew my mind. The lesson was, “Therefore, But, Meanwhile… back at the ranch.” The beauty is it doesn’t just apply to Editing, but to storytelling in general. It’s a formula I’ll keep in mind always from now on. That’s when I thought of the “Thank You” button. Every now and then, I get so much out of something that just a “Like” or “Thumb up” isn’t enough. I want to reach out and shake his hand, give him a hug. I want to say thanks for taking the time to explain a difficult concept and boiling it down to a few simple words. Then I thought, if he had a “Thank You” button next to that video, hooked up to my credit card, I would have happily tapped that a couple times. Good lessons are rare, and I think good teachers are not rewarded enough.

Sprinkler stomping. This is our new activity when you come with me to walk Kimi. I originally invented it to keep you two on the sidewalk and off the street. Now you two are crazy about it. J, you’ll lead your sister through bushes and trees and come home with twigs in your hair and clothes.

It’s a good thing no other kids in our street does this. If they did we’d have no sprinklers to stomp. But we always have many sprinklers to stomp.

April spring cleaning time. Every year the houses in our neighborhood dump their trash by the curb. One evening I snooped around for some building materials. I found some nice unpainted wood that was light, easy to cut/drill but solid. It looked like part of a garden fence or a rackof some kind. I also found some particleboard that could make good bases or walls. I’m walking around thinking things like, “This would make a good dinosaur.” I found a bipedal walker design I like. Motor spins axle, axle spins pedals at ends, pedals move legs up/down. I found a bounty of parts to build with, while I hear the disappointed kids across the street say, “Does this still work?”

Strange sunday. Last Sunday I came downstairs to a quiet house. No one was home. The garage was empty. At first I rejoiced inside and I caught up on reading and some coding. Then a few hours passed. I started to have many questions… Why aren’t they back yet? Why didn’t mama leave me a note? Is she mad at me for something? Was she trying to be nice because I gave her the afternoon off yesterday?

(She went to an art class with our neighbor Auntie L.)

Also check out our Smilodon we made while she was gone (bottom right)

Also check out our Smilodon we made while she was gone (bottom right)

Whatever. This chance doesn’t come along often. Easier to ask for forgiveness, right? So I caught up on more reading and more work. It felt good to catch up on all the things I had put off and take a whack at my ever-growing to-do list. I finally finished The Wellness Revolution. It was a terribly dry book that read like a Wikipedia article. But I made it through and got a few good notes. Finally I couldn’t stand it any more and I texted mama, “Where has my family disappeared to?” A few minutes later she replied, “Happy Hollow.” Uh oh. That’s a place we usually go to as a family. It’s a theme park and not easy to go to with 2 kids by yourself. Maybe she went with another family. Did she tell me about this and I forgot? Usually she’d wake me up even if I did, but maybe I said something mean in my sleep again. I guess I’ll find out later. Back to more reading. And then maybe I’ll come back here to catch up on my writing too.

Anyway, I made a note of this interesting economic perspective from the book…

Before:
Manufacturing cost: 50%
Distribution cost: 50%
This was also a time when retail was big. People didn’t have much yet. Each product was a big family purchase. Manufacturers/sellers were the experts in their product. Salespeople knew more than anyone else about what they were selling. They educated the public on why one should own this or that. The way most people found out about new products was through mass media or by walking into a store. Buyers consulted salespeople at retailers for their advice. Then, the big wins came from those who made manufacturing cheaper. Then came China & outsourcing.

Then:
Manufacturing cost: 30%
Distribution cost: 70%
Products became cheap and low-margin. So the next boom came from those who made distribution cheaper. But by now people have become savvy buyers. Soon there was almost-direct distribution from manufacturer to buyer, eliminating the need for retailers. With the internet, buyers became as knowledgeable or more knowledgable than the salespeople. Retailers died to companies like Walmart & Amazon. Walmart’s leverage was in distributed static products at high volumes. Amazon physically distributed long-tail products, and also leveraged intellectual distribution — information, reviews and recommendations.

Now:
Manufacturing cost: 50%
Distribution cost: 50%
But price has gone down. Everything is a commodity. The margins on manufacturing and distribution have gotten razor thin. New innovation: Design / Specialization. Instead of a shoe, people want a running shoe or basketball shoe. Instead of just a car, people want an SUV, minivan, sports car, convertible. Instead of food, people want Paleo, Organic, Atkins, Gluten-free. Money is made by finding “large-enough” underserved markets and creating specialized products. “Riches in niches.”

Future:
Manufacturing cost: 20%
Distribution cost: 20%
R&D / Design / personalization cost: 60%
Pilzer would lump the design/personalization cost into “distribution”, or what he calls intellectual distribution. His point is that market costs flip back and forth as technology advances. But I think there is a clear distinction in where investments are heading in the future. I think products will be hyper-personal. Eveything will be “just for you”. The focus will first shift from hardware to software (because software is where you can personalize the epxerience). But with more advanced materials/processes, hardware will soon be personalizable too. And with products becoming even more commoditized, personalizezd design will be the strongest differentiator. E.g. Apple. Hardware/software can be duplicated, but Apple products sell at 5-10x cost, 2-3x more than competitors. Because of design. This is only a temporary phase, as good design is still scarce. Soon even good design will be a commodity and the next wave will be in hyper-personal design. Like you wouldn’t just want a slick User Interface. You’d want one that fits perfectly with your style and in your life.

Warren Buffet’s ABCs of business decay. I got this from his 2015 Berkshire-Hathaway 50-year anniversary shareholder letter:
Arrogance
Bureaucracy
Complacency

By the way, in my current era of niches, I wondered, “Why are there no luxury minivans?” Minivans are practical and comfortable vehicles (even if they are ugly). They’re popular among middle to upper-middle class families, even though nobody likes how they look. They have luxury SUVs, so why not luxury minivans? Affluent parents can afford luxury vehicles, so it must be because they don’t want it. One reason could be that super-affluent people don’t spend much time with their kids, so they have no need for something practical. They’re only interesting to people who live with their kids. I just thought it was interesting. What the economics of luxury minivans can say about affluent parents and their kids.

Taxes kill. Taxes done, thank god. I didn’t enjoy it one bit. Fun fact from Dan Ariely: “A 2012 paper by Donald Redelmeier and Christopher Yarnell published in the Journal of The American Medical Association found that over the past 30 years, fatal accidents increase by about 6% on April 15 compared to standard days. The authors chalk this up to stress. They also show that this increase doesn’t hold for people at retirement age (who, presumably, aren’t that stressed about taxes), has increased over time (suggesting we’ve been under more stress as U.S. taxes have grown more complex) and is particularly large for those of us on the West Coast (where state taxes are particularly high).”

Being sober sucks. It’s been a few months since I’ve bought any beer, or any kind of alcohol. I am starting to discover how helpful it could be for writing. Drayton Bird says, “I don’t know of any writer who doesn’t drink.” One reason is it helps with routine, as bad as it sounds. Some writers have their favorite writing hat (John Carlton), writing pipe, writing chair or writing instrument (Gary Halbert’s yellow legal pad). Drinking was sort of my reward after a long day. And because I enjoyed its effects when writing (it gives you a “fuck it” mood that’s great for writing), I timed my alcohol intake to coincide with my writing time. A critical piece of the ritual is that one goal is to ride the buzz. Drink too fast, and you get too drunk to be useful and you finish your drink too soon. But drink too slowly, and you never get a buzz.

So the challenge is to drink just enough, at a sweet enough pace to enjoy a nice lingering “fuck it” buzz. But since the buzz eventually disappears, you know the clock is ticking. And if you happen to enjoy the buzz while writing, then you’ll want to write as much as you can before the buzz is gone. Slack off and you waste good buzz.

And so not drinking anymore has turned out to be quite a loss for me. I’m not even sure if I’m healthier because I’m naturally anxious and tense, and these things are supposed to be good for you in moderation. The bigger blow has been to my writing routine and losing my writing-mood-enhancer.

New developments
J is for Jokester. Your teachers tell us that you’ve opened up and become quite the jokester. You show your friends yoga poses, tell jokes at snack time, etc.

The first movie you conned mama into letting you watch was Cars. (The second is Cars 2.) Mama’s usually lets you watch short educational YouTube videos while j naps. Usually it’s about prehistoric animals or our universe. But one day you said you want “The Cars one.” There weren’t many short videos with the Cars animated characters so mama let you watch pieces of the movie at a time. I hadn’t seen it myself. I caught bits of it while you were watching and I admit, it’s a fun movie. You kept asking me, “Daddy.. hahaha… whyyyy are you laughinggggg?”

I haven’t been sleeping well. I stay up to late til 2-3 am, and then you two wake me up at seven. Mama showers in the morning now so she can air-dry her hair, and you guys talk and play and scream in the room. The conversation I hear in my morning haze goes like this:

Mama: *showering*
J: bla bla bla bla bla
j: bla bla bla
Mama: SHHHH you GUYS daddy’s sleeping!
j: bla bla bla
J: SHHHHH daddy’s sleeping!
j: bla bla bla bla
J: SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
Me: Guys, it’s ok I’m awake.

I have to give up and go “I guess five hours of sleep it is.” I then chain-caffeinate all day to stay functional but I feel like shit and I can only sustain that for a few days. After I mentioned that to mama she’s been nicer and taking her showers in the other bathroom so you kids don’t wake me up too early.

These days you two have been running off to play alone, without telling us. You do this by yourself, or with each other. This makes me more worried because you’ll run off so far you can’t hear me. Like while walking Kimi you two will just run off, while I try to keep you off the street (hence, the Sprinkler Stomping game). Good thing is that most of the time you two run in the same direction.

j you’re old enough now that I can start giving mama breaks. I’m going to spend more time alone with you guys on weekends. One Saturday mama went to get her hair done. Another Saturday mana went painting with Auntie L. I suggested it, even though it’s tough to have you two alone. Because I noticed you guys driving her crazy. One night j you spent 3 hours screaming, refusing to sleep. She finally took you into her car so you wouldn’t wake everyone up. That night you woke up ten times and mama got no sleep. Man I’m surprised she didn’t kill anyone the next day.

“I can do whatever I want”. Oh boy. All of a sudden you’re rebelling against everything with “I don’t want to.” and “I can do what I want.” I just want to slap you. So one night I gave up and mama gave up and we said “OK, you want to do what you want? Me too.” And we all did whatever we each wanted. You quickly learned how many things you like us to do for you, like bath, talk, read. Later, I said, “Isn’t it better when we work together?”. You eventually gave in, “Yea…”

J’s idle mind and the devil’s workshop. You don’t idle well. Whenever you’re left on your own, you end up hurting your sister or doing something that leads to something else that hurts your sister. But what I found is that when we engage you mentally, you’re a pleasant and sweet boy. And by engage I mean talk to you through everything. I.e. be the conversation partner of your rambling curious inner voice. Make a game out of things. E.g. I was struggling at dinner alone with you 2. So we pretended to be predators, and you loved imagining what deep sea creatures we were eating in our plates. You ate everything. I then engaged you in a conversation about how mama and I used to be 4 years old. And how my brother came when I was four. But mama’s sister came when she was 1+, almost 2. You thought for a while and said, “Mama had a sister like j’s age.” When your mind is kept busy you stay out of trouble. In a way you’re like Kimi. Leave her alone and she’ll find trouble. This takes a lot of patience and energy. Easier for me to do, but much harder for mama who has to spend all day with you two monsters. Abu once said that there is an unusually high percentage of smart (but misguided or unrecognized) people in prison. Einstein was one of them — they dismissed him as an idiot for a good part of his life because he never said much and spent most of his time daydreaming.

Last night, J fell asleep after school so we had dinner alone with j. You were so happy to have us alone with you. Hugging and talking and goofing around. So sweet and no crying. Then we put you to bed and J woke up. Same thing. No bullying your sister, no tantrums, no crying. Just a sweet boy talking calmly and having wonderful, interesting conversations. You ate everything you needed to without complaining, then said, “I’m ready for my shower.” We read stories and you went to bed.

It’s tough for you two. Tough to have to share love and live with each other.

E.g., this happens:
“I basically reached boiling point while I was picking up the living rooms toys and I heard J asking j to throw her food. Then she threw it at him, he screamed at her, she cried and he threw the food to Kimi. All this within the one minute it took me to empty my hands and walk over there to talk to them. I don’t think this would usually throw me off so much, might be I’m a little hormonal or something…. Days like this make me think I am not cut out for this and it might be better for me to go back to work :(“

I said, “I would have lost it there too so I don’t think it’s hormones. J’s been an asshole lately.”

Later we had a chat. At first your fists were still clenched and your lips were pursed. But finally you opened up and said, “Daddy. It’s… hard to have a sister.”

I gave mama a break and gave Kimi a bath with you two. You loved it but I had to yell at you for trying to pour water in her ears.

These two moments at night sum it up:

J to mama: “When I give you a hug and you give be a hug it’s to tell each other we love each other.”
Mama: “Awww j’s giving me a hug too!”
J: “No j NO!”

J, in bed: “You know sometimes I feel like finding a new house. But I really like you and j and daddy so I don’t want to go to a new house. But sometimes you say something that makes me want to find a new house. I love my family better than anyone else.”
j: “I HAS TO SLEEP!”

Curious Convos

Edward the turtle.
j: “I’m Edward”
Me: “OK.”
j: “I don’t want it”
Me “Open your mouth Edward. Chomp chomp”
j: “Mmmm! Chomp chomp. Me Edward. I saw Edward at the junior musum.”
This trick has been working since J — find out what you’re into and make you pretend to be that.

You’ve made other friends at the Junior Zoo. When Congo the bird sees you he flies over to say hi. Mama says hi. He likes to talk. If you talk to him he goes “PePePePePe” while shaking his head.

j: “I don’t want to sleep WAAAAaaaaaa”
Me: “Go to your spot Edward”
j, smiling and slowly rolling to your spot: “I’m rolling like a pancake”

At Sunol
J: “I want to bring back the river. But using time. I’ll make time go backwards. It’s good that we found this spot with not so much dried up places.”

J at bedtime: “When I go so fast it’s dark like in the dinosaur time. Because I’m faster than the speed of light.”

On the way back after soccer
J: “Mama I just yawned because I’m so tired. I had so much fun today…. zzzzzz”
j, they let you join soccer for free with J because everyone likes you.

At the junior museum
j, you were listening to a Japanese girl talk with her mom. After a while, you said “Konnichiwa!”
Her mom looked at mama.
Mama: “I dunno, I just taught her some words…”
You somehow detected the language and applied your Japanese vocabulary, even though you didn’t know they were speaking was Japanese! And then all the way back to the car, you said, “Konnichiwa! Konnichiwa! Konnichiwa!”

This week in pictures

Fun with cables

This time, we went to the park while mama had group. You led us to a secret trail.

Magic bridge


Kaboom

Last day at Sunol


Park

Mr Fluffy

We played with these frisbees for a while before realizing that they belonged to someone and not the park

New bike

I wanted to take you two to the train station because it's something I did with J almost every evening before j.

When mama was out getting her hair done on Saturday, I wanted to take you two to the train station because it’s something I did with J almost every evening before j.

You two raided the free newspaper/magazine box. You picked the "travel California" one.  "Maybe we can ask Ude to come along on the zipline."

You two raided the free newspaper/magazine box. You picked the “travel California” one. “Maybe we can ask Ude to come along on the zipline.”

You pulled the wagon uphill and fell down and scratched your knuckles.

You pulled the wagon uphill and fell down and scratched your knuckles.

Still learning to smile

Still learning to smile

It's okay, keep practicing

It’s okay, keep practicing

Getting better

Getting better

A girl and her bike

A girl and her bike

This was our last day at Sunol for the summer. The river dried up and the only water left flowed underground. We found a fallen tree and I tried not to fall with you.

This was our last day at Sunol for the summer. The river dried up and most of the water that was left flowed underground. We hiked farther upstream and found a pond. Over it was a fallen tree. I tried not to fall with you.

Let's not fall please.

Let’s not fall please.

My little Newt. Mama discovered how much she likes newts. When she bought you your new puddle jumper it had a newt. J wanted it of course.

My little Newt. Mama discovered how much she likes newts. When she bought you your puddle jumper it had a newt. J wanted it of course.

A cow family visited us

A cow family visited us

Picnic

Picnic

Last picnic at the river

Last picnic at the river

Is it safe? Not sure, send the boy to check

Is it safe? Not sure, send the boy to check

Leaves vs gravity

Leaves vs gravity

j wanted to cross too

j wanted to cross too

We didn't get wet!

We didn’t get wet!

It held 3

It held 3

J said he was swimming

J said he was swimming

Leg hugs

Leg hugs

Reading Ollie the Stomper

Reading Ollie the Stomper

Such a funny bedtime story

Such a funny bedtime story

Library scabbie

Library scabbie

Sliding together (he pushed you)

Sliding together (he pushed you)

That was fun

That was fun

Socks are for hands

Socks are mittens

The  girls

The girls

Posing

Posing

"Can I be lost?"

“Can I be lost?”

Batgirl cereal

Batgirl cereal

How to eat ramen

How to eat ramen

We pretended we were in the land before time

We pretended we were in the land before time

You like to collect rocks

You like to collect rocks

J liked making you pluck dandelions

J liked making you pluck dandelions

J found this hidden trail

J found this hidden trail. He never let me get in front of him. He wanted to show us the way.

You guys are crazy over the Skippy Jon Jones series. You torture us with the audiobooks over and over again.

You guys are crazy over the Skippy Jon Jones series. You torture us with the audiobooks over and over again.

Sung to that classic mariachi tune... CLAP CLAP!

Sung to that classic mariachi(?) tune… CLAP CLAP!

After her bath, we started letting her sleep with you.  She thinks she's a baby bear

After her bath, we started letting her sleep with you. She thinks she’s a baby bear

There's a smile

There’s a smile

To our next adventure

To our next adventure! (See the haircut mama gave you J?)

Interesting things.

Flying through gum nebula.
Me: “Can you imagine, one day some kids will be flying through a nebula in their spaceship, just like how we fly through clouds in an airplane. And they will be too busy on their iGames to look outside?”
Mama: “I think the human race will self-destruct before we’re able to do that. the thing is, if it does happen, the parents will also be too busy connected to who knows what to try and force them to look outside :(“

When they found out women were using them to make dresses, they printed flowers on the flour bags. In 1942, 3 million women/children wore feedbag garments. The Pixel Painter. How World of Warcraft all started. The wealthiest zip codes in USA. The latest research about Social Media, depression & love. Time lapse of the sun. Clyde Stubblefield: “All I do is 1-2-3-4”. Funky Drummer — I don’t think there would be a James Brown without Clyde; this drum sequence is one of the world’s most sampled sound segments. Moomins. The Most Popular Secret in the World: “We all want to find that one person that we don’t have to keep secrets from.”

This Louis C.K. interview.

On why it’s great to have kids:

“If you can be useful – which means to somebody else, not to yourself – if you can be useful, it just makes you feel better. So I live in service for my kids, you know? That’s the first priority. And things like my career, they feed into that. They’re part of that because I’m providing for them. But also, it’s just not that important. If something’s not important, it’s more fun. It’s more of something you can look at from objectively instead of having it be this albatross around you. I’ve got to get this right. If this isn’t perfect, my life is a nightmare.”

I get a kick whenever I hear a stranger arrive at a similar conclusion I have, even though we’ve never met and we come from different places. I’ve written about this to you before here and here. The feeling is like, it feels great that I’m not alone in this world, you know?

On why you shouldn’t tell your kids drug dealers are not cool, because they are:

“The thing that I think is important to know if you have kids, especially teenagers, is that the people they meet that are going to offer them drugs are not bad people. They’re really cool people. If somebody – the fiction that you tell kids – that people that offer you drugs are evil – is not a good fiction to tell them ’cause they’re going to be cool people who like them. And that’s why – that’s why drugs are so easy to fall into as a kid. And right away, you know, well, my parents are liars ’cause this person is cool. This person understands me better than they do. That’s part of why people do drugs is ’cause they’re making a connection with people that they really feel strongly about. And also it’s their first connection that they choose – is their teenage connections.

Confession time. I thought I’d start a new section in these letters for confessions. Or maybe we’ll call it “Honesty Hour”. I’m not sure yet. The idea is that almost everyone you read from these days tries to write like they’re pretending to be someone super. There isn’t enough honesty. Yeah, it’s scary being honest because it gives people yet another way to hurt you. But if your dad isn’t going to be honest with you, who will? So here goes.

Louis C.K. was talking about confession, and how it’s a way for people to accept what they did and wipe the slate clean. That made me remember going to confessions when I was a kid and my parents still took me to church. What I remembered most was how uncomfortable it was. I remember making up sins, or admitting sins that weren’t too embarassing to talk about to Mr Priest — a stranger. But I thought man, this would be a great time to bring up that one sin that’s been bothering you most. Now’s the chance to wipe it clean. But I could never do it. I was a hormone-enraged kid at that age so you can probably guess what it was. Yup, sexual thoughts, sexual urges and, um, self-relief.

But as I think back about it now… it’s twisted how religion makes all boys and girls ashamed of their bodies. And ashamed of something as natural and essential as sex. I mean, really, how can you sweep that under the rug? If you’re alive, no it’s not because Mr Stork brought you. Maybe Shame was the only method of contraception back in the day, but we have more effective techniques now. And research shows that not talking about it or making it taboo just makes people engage in riskier sex. I still don’t know how we’re going to handle this when you two become red with lust, but at least I know that the wrong thing to do is ignore it.

The next confession needs some background. A friend asked me for my “male opinion” on why some guys have a “white knight” Hero Complex. E.g. Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.

I said I don’t know about Hero Complex, but there might be more common reasons behind that behavior.

E.g.
* “Saving” a woman helps a guy feel superior to the woman
* Guy has no clue how to get women, so “saving” one is a way to buy a woman out of his league
* It’s easier to get a woman by “saving” her than earning her affection and interest

But if you’re a sociopath like me, there’s a different reason. This is the secret of mine. When I was single and dating, there was a particular kind of woman I would look for — I preferred complicated women. Girls with some baggage, Girl who were a little broken; either because of past relationships of past experiences.

I preferred them because:
* Simple is boring
* Complicated is more “real” and honest (they’re not delusional that the world exists to worship them)
* I can relate to them better
* Stormy past equals richer life and deeper conversations/connections
* They can be hot but not make a big deal of it
* The challenge is fun and the rewards are nice. It takes time to earn trust, peel away the layers of armor and finally get close enough to be intimate. But to me that’s what makes it more special in the end.

So I found myself looking for girls other guys overlooked or were intimidated by. E.g., I was more attracted to (and had more in common with) people whose parents divorced, had long/serious relationships that failed, or are divorcees themselves — compared to the doe-eyed, life-is-beautiful, god-is-good saints.

Last few words. I now do the “Maxercist” every day. I’m surprised how well it’s fixing my body. (Remember my bad back from my trampoline accident?) I had a feeling it would be good when I noticed that cat/dog poses stretch my core out nicely where it hurt. But the Maxercist really smokes the whole body well. It’s making me stronger, while slowly opening up my frozen hips and back. I can stand up straighter and walk with my weight over my hips with less discomfort.

I guess I have some news. Guest what? I got promoted. I feel depressed. I’ve always planned to quit. But as I’ve developed outside, I’ve re-invested what I learned back into my main work, and the fools keep rewarding me for improving business. It makes it harder to quit. With each year that passes I have a bigger gap to close when I go out on my own. It also sucks because I’m getting closer to the idiots at the top. You know what they say, shit flows downstream. It reeks up here. I’m starting to discover the couple of cancerous tumors at the helm. I have been scheming to replace them. I think it’s just a matter of time. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be happy swimming against the grain up the slow big business ladder. Anyway, for now it’s good enough for me to support you guys as the sole moneymaker, so I should be thankful. Meanwhile, I’ll keep scheming, and I’ll keep busy.

Love,

Dad

P.S. stay busy, be useful, exercise. J: call your sister. j: call your brother.