Dyson’s hair was getting a little long. Tracy thinks he looks cute with a big afro but it tangles and he really doesn’t like getting his hair combed when it’s tangled so … chop, chop, chop!
It made me think of the last time I cut his hair and how much he’s grown since then. Now, he’s actually talking in sentence-like structures, sort of riding a bicycle, climbing play structures, and kinda writing his name. That’s pretty impressive for a human that didn’t even exist just a few short years ago.
A while back, I heard a story on NPR about StoryCorps, a group dedicated to preserving the stories of Americans of many different backgrounds. The past year was focused on the stories of veterans and their families, which made me think of my great-uncle Mas and great-aunt Lily. We didn’t do the official StoryCorps interviews, but I did informally chat with them when I got a chance to see them at our extended family’s New Years Day gathering.
My great-aunt’s story was quite different. She happened to be visiting Japan with her sisters when the war broke out. After that, she was unable to return to the US until it was over. So, because of timing, she spent several years trapped away from the rest of her family.
Anyways, if you’d like to hear me chatting with my relatives, you can hear them here.
I made a silly video with Dyson to commemorate the whole Mayan calendar turnover thing because hey, the end of the world is a once in a lifetime event, right?
One thing I’ve learned when making videos with a baby is that you can’t really “direct” a baby. You just kinda have to play with them and hope that you end up with something useable. Then it’s a matter of coming up with appropriate responses to work with it.
Dyson didn’t know why I came home a little earlier today. He had no idea about what happened in Connecticut or why I was holding him so tightly. I didn’t want to explain it to him.
I want so much to protect him from the bad, from the things that would hurt him. But the events of today show that sometimes, you just can’t. I want to think that if we passed the right laws, had better mental health support, listened to the right experts … I want to think that somehow we could guarantee that this would never happen again. And I want to think that as a society, we can work towards making this a better place. But in the end, you can’t make it perfect.
In the end, you can’t do anything about the basic fragility of life. Maybe that just makes it that much more precious. We are already so very lucky to even be alive, to have this chance to experience life. Maybe the best we can hope for is to appreciate the brief moment we have in it.
This picture was from a few weeks ago, when I took Dyson into San Francisco. We had lunch on the top floor of the mall. We bought some toys for his cousins. We saw the lights on the domed roof. He fell asleep on the train ride home. It was a good day.
A couple months ago, I released Selector, a simple iPhone app that helps you select between multiple people. In the first week, I garnered an encouraging 12 sales before doing any promotion. So in the second week, I made a demo video, posted on some forums, and handed out free promo codes. But I only got 5 sales the first day and nothing for the rest of the week.
I was feeling pretty discouraged but I figured that if I wasn’t making any money, I might as well try an experiment. So I decided to make it free for a week. Suddenly, my downloads jumped up, a couple web sites mentioned it, and I started getting reviews and ratings on iTunes. And at the end of the week, a total of 13,920 people had downloaded it!
Of course, I didn’t make any money off those 13,920 people, but the nice thing is that people kept on downloading it even after I started charging $0.99. Sure, it was only a few downloads a day instead of hundreds, but it was certainly more than the 0 per day I was getting before.
I’m not exactly sure what made the difference. It might have been word-of-mouth from those people who got it for free. Or it might have been that the increased number of reviews and downloads bumped up the app’s ranking in the iTunes store. In any case, for an indie developer like me, obscurity is a much greater problem than the potential lost revenue. So it was definitely worth making it free for a week.
This year has been a tough one. But even (or perhaps especially) in tough times, it’s important to be thankful.
And I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a good job, a loving family, and even a productive hobby that I get to work on in my ever dwindling free time (yay, Photo Dice and Selector!). But most of all, I’m thankful for my son.
Dyson is now 2, which is a challenging age. He’s started talking more and forming concepts about the world, which has been incredible to behold. Of course, he gets very upset when those concepts (like, I believe I will flood the bathroom sink now) get thwarted. But it’s also been amazing to watch him starting to actually get things, now. It makes me look at the world a little differently.
Part of it is that I want to protect him from the bad. The world can be very harsh; it’s easy to become cynical or dejected and I want to keep him from that. But the other part is that I want him to know that there is always hope and beauty to be found, like a rainbow sprinkle cupcake.
Dyson is now 2 years old, which is a tricky age for costumes. But at the last minute, I happened to find a teddy bear costume for only $20 that was super cute. Even better, he was totally willing to try it on when we got home. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t wear it on the actual day of Halloween.
So costume idea #2 was to put a hat on him, give him a broom, and say he was the kid from La Luna. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t keep the hat on.
So costume idea #3 was to put his jacket on, tie on an ascot, and say he was Charlton Heston. You don’t go take your kid trick or treating with the costume you want them to wear, you go with the costume they’re willing to keep on.
I recently saw a disheartening article about sexism in the skeptic community. It’s especially disheartening that it happened even in a community of intelligent and progressive thinking people. It shouldn’t be surprising, though, because sexism isn’t rooted in lack of intelligence so much as a lack of empathy. And empathy is directly related to representation.
In this case, it’s also related to the perception of criticism. Hearing criticism is hard. Trust me, I know. My job is primarily to produce work that is criticized over and over, on a daily basis, until someone says it’s good enough to go into a film. But that’s the nature of my industry. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going, but I do it because I want the work to be the best that it can be.
And I think that’s what a lot of these men are missing. They only hear the criticism as an attack on what’s wrong with them and they don’t have the motivation or desire to become better. And I can understand that, too. As much as I try, I haven’t always reacted well to criticism. Sometimes I just need a break. In fact, that’s why I rarely read the iTunes reviews on my apps. It’s just a little too discouraging to get slammed in a review on something that I spend what little free time I have to create. But I digress.
The point is that where women are absent, sexism often fosters. And then it’s a vicious cycle. This is why diversity and representation, especially in media, is so important.
Speaking of representation, I quite enjoyed seeing the movie, Cloud Atlas. But a friend pointed out that even though it boasts an incredibly diverse cast, there were no Asian male actors. But, hey, at least there were Asian-ish male characters. So that’s progress. =)