Twilight Zone Marathons!

Twilight Zone Marathons growing up were the definition of holidays when we weren’t around our cousins. Now 138 episodes are available on Netflix, 25 minutes each. I’m not sure why season 4 is missing, though.

57.5 hours, S1:E1 to S5:E36 (minus season 4). No commercials. No prayers, no awkward “How’s school, young man?”, no “I’m just going to check the score -where’s the clicker” interruptions that the holidays would have involved. Just 25 minutes of rapid character development, what-might-it-be-like scenarios and actors I still recognize 60 years after they worked on these episodes.

I’m reading IMDB along with every episode. #dontBotherMeImBinging

Use Your Brain or Your Back

(Tonight’s text to my 14 year old who chose to do next to nothing at school today and was pretty flippant with his mom about it)

“Rylan, apparently you chose not to use your brain and your planner today. That’s your choice and I respect that. Should you continue to choose to not use your brain and planner tomorrow, I’ll have a math problem for you to answer….

This is a square tile. It is 19.5 inches by 19.5 inches. It covers every square foot of our downstairs.

Next is an approximate layout of downstairs. All measurements are in feet.

Finally, this is the box of Magic Erasers you’ll be using to scrub every inch of grout between each tile.

Tomorrow, should you choose to not use your brain and planner at school, you’ll be using your back here. And you’ll still have to calculate how many feet of grout you scrubbed.

Choose accordingly. There are a whole lot of tile here. Love you, son!”

Baby Its Cold… Wait, WHAT?!

“Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” Read the lyrics. It’s creepy. Even outside of the beautiful harmony when it’s sung as a duet. But do not, under any circumstances, confuse the dialogue of this song with the non-consensual violence of the R-word. That’s a reach beyond any sense of reason. Yes, the male is persuading aggressively, so much so that it’s really uncomfortable when you read the lyrics on their own.

There is nothing cheery about this song on the surface. But this song is about consenting adults. Read the lyrics. We did. It’s icky but it is not about rape by any definition. There’s also the whole role-play scenario, which if you’ve never explored likely wouldn’t even occur to you. But the lyrics could be interpreted as that as well. Again, that requires consenting adults.

This song is NOT about the violence and destruction that non-consenting assault is. Mistakenly labeling it as somehow a tribute to “rape culture” belittles the survivors of actual assaults, degrades the definition of the violence rape entails and reaches too far into real horrors of reality that this song does not portray. Any further attention to the song is a distraction from the awareness of actual violence, perpetual mysogeny and relentless blaming of rape vitctims that we’re still witnessing to this day.

(Slaps my two pennies on the counter, chugs the remaining coffee from my mug, exits)

Online Resources for Elementary Schools

Requesting feedback: If you’ve had a child in elementary/middle school in the last year or two, how many online resources were you expected to track as a parent? How did that work out for you and your child?

Caed’s 5th grade class has 20 different websites that we need to log into, using his district-provided account. Those range from Google Drive, Classroom, MS Office, Canvas, Aeries, Clever, Flip, Instructure… the list goes on for seemingly days. I’m not complaining about the wealth of resources, because they’re all extremely useful. But only when you know which location to log into to find the information you need, when you need it.

The problem is that there’s no roadmap, guide or central authoritative hub; no single destination for a parent to log into, find what is due tomorrow (or this week/month) with DIRECT links to all of the necessary worksheets and educational resources. We are left stumbling through blindly.

I’m not blaming the teacher or the district IT department, none of whom are qualified as UX/UI designers. Yet as education continues to dive relentlessly deeper and deeper into technology-dependent instruction, districts need to step up their efforts in making the data consistent, useful and manageable. My company has had to for our clients. That’s what we specialize in. In my opinion, its unfair to expect non-technical parents to bridge that technology vs. user experience gap because it only hinders their child’s ability to utilize the resources we are all technically paying for.

Your experience?

Layaway Santa Conspiracy

Hypothesis: the “Layaway Santa’s” are not anonymous philanthropists walking in and paying off all of a single Walmart or Target store’s layaway purchases in the spirit of Christmas. Instead, it’s the company “paying” for the purchases (at cost) and publishing a press release announcing the anonymous Santa visited here, too.

Rationale: this is lottery marketing thinly disguised: you, too, could have all of your Christmas gifts paid for IF the Layaway Santa visits your store. So, commit now to the gifts you might not be able to afford, just in case you win!

Financials: in doing so, this costs the retailer very little. The total wholesale cost of all of the goods on layaway at a single store are minimal, particularly if you pick a store with a lower-than-average layaway usage compared to other stores in the same demographic. Let’s say $100k. That’s pocket change for marketing spends for advertising for the top 10 retailers, even if you tripled it for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks. The cost of the press release announcing the anonymous Santa? Those are practically free.

Benefit: Limitless media coverage because the media knows that we love these stories and it will get coverage, and it only cost the company $100k. The corporation sees a spike of layaway orders in low-income areas and now they have metrics for what dream products are hot for the season, as an A/B split against what their local consumers can afford. Those dream products now see a pricing supression (instead of typical increase) over the next few weeks after the company has made last minute reorders for inventory due to demand based on analytics. Having inventory is advantage over competitor because it’s a loss-leader: give the impossible away to get the rest of your items ordered here and nowhere else.

This is a numbers game. But I’m smelling what the press release is spreading out on the lawn and it stinks like bait. Extremely inexpensive but alluring bait. Take note of what companies these Layaway Santa’s visit this week. Then wait for Q4 2018 earnings announcements to see if it paid off.

Spicy Peanut Butter Pizza

Spicy peanut butter pizza is an actual thing. It’s exactly as white trash ghetto as you’d expect and exponentially more delicious than you’d imagine.

I’m going to fix the recipe but, jeez, the foundation flavor profile was far more fun than I anticipated.

5 Year-old with a Knife

I was handed a Swiss Army knife for my 5th birthday by my mom’s stepdad. As soon as I opened it I heard her sigh, “No!”

The thought of handing my 5-year old a pocket knife strikes me as absurd as handing one to either my 11 or 13-year old. But that’s because they’ve never handled a knife, never cut themselves, never used it incorrectly so that they could learn otherwise from experience. In turn, they’ve never sharpened a stick to use as a spear, never split twigs to use as tools, never fashioned a fish hook.

I’ve ensured their safety by denying them the opportunity of learning basic survival skills. What a terrible exchange rate.

Bladder, You’re Grounded

“What?! No! You just went 5 minutes ago. You can hold it!”
“Seriously? We just left and all you did was stare at the wall. No way, I’m not stopping the car again.”
“Ohholyshit! Ok buddy I got you! Hang tight we’re gonna hustle and get you there! Hang on hang on hang on!”

Apparently I scold my bladder now as if it was one of my kids.

Getting old sucks. I’d hash tag that but I’m busy.


Best Intended Plans

Dear Midnight Snack,

Mijo, I’m sorry. Sometimes even the best of plans don’t work out. But you know what? We don’t give in and we NEVER give up. We certainly don’t nosedive into a bowl of Sriracha to forget our problems. No, that’s never the answer.

I know how much you desperately wanted to be a taco tonight, mi amor. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. But I’m proud of the pollo-stuffed quesadilla you became! Look at you! You’re going to be the best quesadilla everrrrrr! Muy guapo!

So, chin up! Go put on your freshest Tapatio! Show the world that nothing can get in your way! You’ve got this!

Now get in mah belly!