I’ve been approached by a friend who has asked if I would mentor her teenage son in tech, development, hardware, etc. I really like the idea but I’m not sure yet where to start.
I put it to a group of friends to see where they’d recommend beginning. At first I struggled with tasks as if he was an intern, but that’s not what a “mentor” means to me. I had a mentor when I was in my 20’s, and he’s been a life long friend, but that relationship began when I became his employee.
When I began in tech, I had already grown up around computers throughout elementary school. That was unusual in the early 80’s and definitely gave me an advantage over time. Starting with Apple Basic in 4th grade helped me to understand coded logic, the difference between files and folders, the internals of computers. That all worked to my advantage shortly after I graduated high school and started building desktops and servers for myself. Then my second bench tech job introduced me to the industry in greater detail, in sales, customer service, margins, more complex systems and the consequences and vulnerabilities of our data over time.
For this fine young man, whom I met for the first time last weekend, I’m recommending that he start off in two areas: installing Linux on his desktop, and Arduino projects for remote data collection (sensors, mostly). Since desktop and server hardware are a thing of the past, the ability to collect and aggregate data in the cloud is where I see the next series of trends continuing. He’ll never have to swap out a video card or exchange a SCSI drive (yeah, I’m that old) unless he choses to tear apart his laptop… even their days as user-configurable systems are numbered.
Looking forward, I’m excited. This could be a new direction for myself, my kids and our future.
“Something tasty from behind the counter?” The hottest woman working the coffee shop asked me. It’s the first time in the months that I’ve been coming here that she apparently noticed me. Rarely has a week gone by that I didn’t notice she was wearing a different black sweater, a different knitted bracelet, a new pair of her earrings.
We smiled at each other for a few moments, before it became uncomfortable, appreciating the innuendo.
I know we’ve never met in person but I’ve been really distracted by you lately. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been in the middle of work, dealing with clients, and thought, “Wow, I could really go for a juicy plate of Ossobucco right now, but who has the time?” Then I think of you and my mind goes numb. Your stainless steel, your non-stick easy clean liner… The thought of your Power Chopper, included free, just sends me over the edge.
You want to grab a bite sometime? You bring the heat and I’ll bring the meat (and vegetables and sauce). Let’s chill. Or chili or stew. Whatever. HMU. But keep it discreet. My NuWave thinks she’s my BAE.
This probably makes me the worst dad ever, but when the boys are horsing around and someone inevitably gets hurt….I’m usually unsympathetic. After assessing that it isn’t a serious injury, I ask 3 basic questions:
1. Are you bleeding?
2. Is it broken?
3. Do I need to cut it off?
If the coast is clear, as insult to injury, “You going to do that again?”
Can we all please dispose of the word “fundamentalist” when we’re talking about sociopathic behavior in the name of some archaic mysticism, and start calling it what it really is: criminality (e.g. criminal Christianity, criminal Islam, criminal Hinduism)?
This is not to be confused with the incorrect practice of a given faith, but the justification of criminal activity in the name of a religion.
Killing someone in the name of an imaginary deity doesn’t make you a fundamentalist, it just means you’re a fucking murderer.
Tonight’s custody exchange was the first time Jude was out of his car seat where he could watch the entire process. Rylan and Caed gave hugs goodbye to Jaimi, Jude and me; then stepped into their mother’s car and drove away.
After a long weekend of playing nonstop with his brothers from sun rise to sunset, I could see Jude’s confusion as his big brothers drove off. Jaimi strapped him into the car seat. Jude began to cry.
Jude cried for nearly ten minutes. He was so upset that Jaimi climbed into the back seat so that he wasn’t alone. He was inconsolable.
I stared ahead, listening to Jude’s frustration while choking back my own emotions, and thought about my first custody exchange. Rylan was four then, Caed hadn’t yet turned two. I hadn’t been allowed to see them for over a month and even then had to file for an emergency hearing with the courts. Rylan didn’t understand why he had to leave after his weekend with me. There weren’t adequate words to explain it then, just like there weren’t words to explain to Jude tonight that his brothers would be home soon, but they were going to sleep somewhere else this evening. Saying goodbye just didn’t make sense to anyone in either events.
We’ve suspected that saying goodbye to his brothers would eventually become difficult for Jude. Returning home to the deafening silence of a house sitting lifeless in its own disarray has always been difficult for us. But now there’s a toddler whose big brothers are just… gone. We didn’t expect it to affect him so soon.
We returned home and Jude settled. He ate and was happy. He spent lots of time in our arms. He was fine as the alternate reality set in and the house temporarily became a home for three – instead of five – again. We tucked him in and said goodnight, then curled up together in the glow of an old, forgettable movie.
I peek in on all of my sons sleeping and I find myself calmed in their snores and deep rest. I wonder when I last slept so peacefully. Perhaps their age?
All I can hope for is that they dodge the miserable bullets in their lives that I caught in mine. While I want to prepare them for the world that awaits them, I want to do so without making them bitter and cynical, without tarnishing the magnificent humans they are.
Before they lose the chance of comfort of a purely trusted embrace, the flavor of a delicious meal or their lost breath due to an awe inspiring sunrise, I hope they will find the sanctity in each before the world clouds their ability to appreciate the wonders it possesses.
Experience will wage that war upon them soon enough, but perhaps they’ll miss that train and find themselves sleeping soundly as their own children dream.
That’s probably my greatest wish for my sons, a sound nights sleep while their children dream of sunrises, delicious meals and the images of their fathers held in warm trusted embraces.
Wait a minute! The King of Pretend City is warning about the limits of provocation with speech? That sounds a lot like justifying the murder of people who don’t agree with your opinion.
Hmmm, where have we seen that before? Seems so familiar….
Allow me to make this clear: you are not entitled to harm, maim or kill someone who offends you. Your life will be full of being offended by people who think you are an asshole and you deserve to hear it. What determines your character is how you listen to such criticism. What might make you a violent criminal is how your physically react to that criticism.
The only acceptable response would have been, “the murder of people simply because of the utterance of their words or the stroke of their pen or the belief in their opinion is an abomination, one we – as humans – must not tolerate.”
Tom Ashbrook on NPR’S On Point is one of my favorite interviewers. His show is on now and he’s discussing grief and losing his wife in November. Partners in love and life since the age of 16. Its not live so I can’t call, though I wish I could.
There’s so much that strikes deep and familiar that I find myself parked, just listening and remembering what it was like to be widowed and consumed at the age if 27.
In those early days grief was not “more”, just less familiar. When smiles and laughter were a betrayal and the idea of finding peace was unattainable. There just aren’t words, ever, to put that type of loss into consoling perspective.
Time is the most vicious antidote to grief. Not because it cures but because it eventually renders one familiar with their heart forever changed. If we choose, we tap back into the world that kept moving while we withdrew and hopefully provide some help and insight to those freshly minted in loss. Somewhere along the line we might be startled by the sound of our own laughter and allow it to continue. But we have to allow it and that is a horribly difficult embrace.