about that youtube clip with laptop shooter dad.

By now half the Internet has seen the video of the dad shooting his daughter’s laptop for posting disrespectful stuff about her parents on Facebook.

Personally, I don’t think it’s genuine. The dad is an IT professional with a book about to come out, so I think he took a non-working laptop and ginned up a story in order to get YouTube hits. Call me a cynic, but something about the whole thing just reminds me of Balloon Boy a few years back. But there’s a chance it may be a genuine thing. As a father and a gun owner, I have a few opinions about this, and none of them are particularly favorable.

If the whole thing went down as claimed, Laptop Shooter Dad is guilty of quite a few offenses:

Improper use of a firearm.

Guns have their purposes. They’re for defense of self or home, hunting, sporting, or recreation. They’re most certainly not tools for family conflict resolution. I don’t object to shooting a laptop with a pistol (God knows I’ve disposed of annoying computers that way before for fun), but shooting and destroying something to make points in an argument is moronic and immature. It also paints gun owners in a bad light, reinforcing the stereotype of the redneck NRA yokel who goes to his gun first when faced with any sort of interpersonal friction.

Waste of perfectly good property.

Destroying a $500 laptop to teach your kid a lesson? That’s wasteful and stupid. If the object is to deny her the use of the laptop, put it on eBay and donate the money to a charity, or use it to buy some booze for yourself. Riddling it with bullets is like holding a lighter to a stack of hundred-dollar bills. His money, sure, but absolutely the worst use for the cash I can think of. For a few moments of anger therapy, he’s out at least half a grand. (Of course, the revenuepsharing on the advertising on the YouTube clip has probably netted him enough to buy a gold-plated MacBook and a Porsche to drive it around in, so  maybe his strategy has paid off from a fiscal perspective. Still, for someone who can’t just drop money on a new laptop on a whim, it’s a pretty nauseating thing to watch.)

Airing family business in public.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t put any sort of family issues on YouTube, Facebook, or my blog, because it’s nobody’s business. My kids may misbehave on occasion, but I don’t run off and tell the world about it. All you accomplish is to make other people doubt your parenting skills, paint yourself in an unflattering light, and cause resentment in the family for airing your laundry in the middle of the town green.

Looking like an immature petulant dork.

This is the lesson you want your kid to learn? That the proper way to handle an argument is to one-up the other party, break their stuff, humiliate them in public, and ratchet up the stakes? That doesn’t teach her to respect you, it just shows her that her old man can’t win an argument with a teenager without resorting to public preening and whipping out handguns. Well done indeed, Dad. I’m sure she’ll remember that episode ten or twenty years hence and feel nothing but respect and admiration.

So there you have my opinion on Laptop Shooter Dad, and my short list of reasons why I won’t be joining the line congratulating him on his parenting skills. As a dad and a responsible gun owner, I think he’s setting a lousy example for both dads and gun owners.

the aesthetics of bedtime.

Here’s Lyra’s pick for last night’s bedtime story:

Picture 007

What could possess a three-year-old to pick such heady material?

  1. She’s genuinely interested in 500-page treatises on aesthetics.
  2. She finds Plato boring and chose this book to put her to sleep faster.
  3. She thinks that Daddy will take the bait, and read a bedtime story for twelve hours, thereby delaying bedtime.
  4. She likes the rainbow on the cover.

Right now, I’m leaning toward option 4, but knowing my (already clever and devious) girl child, I have a sneaking suspicion that option 3 may also be a contender.

you scream, we leave.

A restaurant in NC has a new “No Screaming Kids” policy.  If kids act up, the staff will ask parents to take their sprogs outside.

As a parent of two preschoolers, I fully support their policy.  When you spring for a restaurant meal, especially in this economy, you don’t want to be subjected to someone else’s kids throwing tantrums or using the restaurant as their personal playground.  If there’s anything at all about the article I find disagreeable, it’s this quote from an offended mom:

“I’ve never seen a restaurant say, don’t bring your screaming kids in here,” said Ashley Heflin, who is a mom of two. “You can’t help it if your kids scream.”

You know what, Ashleykins?  You sure as shit can.  If your kids scream their heads off in a restaurant, you don’t sit there and subject the other paying customers to the serenade.  You have the waiter doggy-bag your chow and get the hell out of there.  (Trust me, if you ask for your food to go when your kid is throwing a tantrum, the staff in most any restaurant will gladly pack up your food while you carry Junior out to the car.)

I don’t want to annoy people by implying that my kids are perfectly behaved angels, but you know how many times I’ve had them throw a tantrum in a restaurant?  If you guessed “zero”, award yourself the prize of your choice.  You know why that is?  Because I didn’t take them to restaurants when they were small enough to be prone to sudden screaming spells.  When they got old enough to communicate, they got to learn how to eat in restaurants with Daddy, but the first time they even started acting up, they were told in no uncertain terms that if they didn’t behave themselves, we’d be leaving the restaurant pronto, and not return for a very long time.  They like eating in restaurants, so–surprise!–they don’t act up.

Lastly, I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy a meal when their own kids are screaming at the very same table.  Why on Earth would you pay $20 a head for food and meals if you have to not only eat your meal to an infernal soundtrack, but also endure the hostile glances of the other guests?  If your kids are unable to control themselves due to age or experimental parenting, you’re not deprived of the ability to eat restaurant food.  There’s always take-out, curbside pickup, or the drive-through.

Good for you, Olde Salty restaurant.  Nobody has the right to have their kid spoil the meals of the sixty-five other paying patrons in the joint.

the migratory writer.

When the painters and drywall guys repaired the water damage in the bck half of the house, we took the opportunity to move the two kids into the smaller of the two back bedrooms.  They were only sleeping in there, since they use the second living room as a playroom, so all the space in their bedroom was unused.  Their former bedroom is now the new office/guest bedroom, and the former office is now the kids’ room.

The new office is more than twice the size of the old one and has twelve-foot ceilings, so it feels substantially more spacious.  We’re splitting it between the two adults for office space, and there’s a queen-sized bed in there as well.  Even having only a third of the new office as my space, I feel like I can spread out just a bit more than before.

Here’s my new office for the scribbling of the words and such:


On occasion, I talk about my writing habits and methods, which have changed over the last few years, regressing from the computer to the typewriter and then to longhand.  One thing that has been constant, however, has been my inability to do my work in just one spot all the time.  I’m a highly migratory writer—in the course of a day, I’ll work at my living room desk, on the couch, lying down in bed, at the office desk in the picture, and occasionally at the local coffee shop.  That’s why I prefer devices and tools that can be hauled around with a minimal amount of fuss.  Even though my favorite writing tools have changed (I’ve been writing longhand now for a year and a half), my least favorite writing tool has always been the immobile desktop computer set up in one specific place. 

With two kids to parent all day long, I basically write in the cracks of the day: in the quiet hours of the morning before the kids wake up, on the couch while they’re watching a movie, on the bench at the playground when we go out, or in the evening when everyone else in the house is asleep.  Because of the stop-and-go, irregular nature of my writing sessions, being able (or having) to write only in one spot with one stationary desktop system is a recipe for not getting much writing done. 

In contrast, the notebook and pen are supremely flexible writing tools.  I can grab them at a moment’s notice and change rooms, or stuff them into a bag to haul to the playground, without having to worry about bringing along power adapters or checking battery status.  I can work indoors or out in the yard in bright sunshine, and when I have to put the writing kit aside to give Lyra a boost on the swings, I don’t have to worry about anyone snatching my expensive stuff and running off with it.  Nobody cares to steal paper notebooks full of handwriting.

Every writer has a different set of tools and methodology, but when you’re a writing full-time parent, inflexible writing setups, firm writing times, and elaborate rituals are not your friend. 

tuesday randomosity.

Stuff I did last weekend:

  • Caulked the new logs on the side of the house.  We had eight logs replaced due to rot, and the cracks needed to be filled.  (Side note: Log home caulk is mighty sticky.)
  • Finished the Alternate History/Fantasy short story I started two weeks ago, and edited it to within an inch of its life.  This one takes place in an alternate 1890s Germany, and I’m toying with the idea of writing a whole novel in that setting.
  • Went out on Dadcation for some caffeine and a few pages of writing.  I’ve been shunning the coffee shop at the bookstore lately, because it’s always crowded.  They have a very large table in the Languages section that can be reserved for book clubs, and it’s always empty when I show up, so I’ve been setting up shop there.  It’s quiet, I have space to spread my stuff out a bit, and few people venture into the Languages corner even on busy days.  Working in public is fine until you have people basically rubbing elbows with you, and parents dragging their entourage of four preschoolers into the cafe for a raucous round of afternoon sugar infusions.  That’s when I grab my stuff and search for quieter pastures.
  • Played a bit of World of Warcraft.  I’ve been spending all my spare time on the Telling of Lies for Fun and Profit, so my WoW characters haven’t seen much action, but my main is finally close to hitting level 80.
  • Watched “Kick-Ass”, which has officially supplanted “Zombieland” as the greatest movie in the history of motion pictures.  Nicolas Cage is pitch-perfect as Big Daddy, and every single one of Hit-Girl’s fight scenes is just one long Crowning Moment of Awesome(Link Warning: tvtropes.org is an acknowledged Internet Black Hole, where you can wander in and lose hours in a blink.)
  • Started reading “Let The Right One In”, the acclaimed Swedish vampire novel they turned into a movie recently.  I saw the movie a few months ago and loved it.  Turns out they’re about to release an American remake, called “Let Me In”.  I dislike the idea of remaking what is essentially a perfect little gem of a movie, but the remake has a pretty stellar cast, so I hope they’re not going to screw it up too much.  (The vampire girl in the remake is played by Chloe Moretz, who plays the aforementioned Hit-Girl in the aforementioned “Kick-Ass”.)
  • Got a new round of agent queries ready, submitted a nonfiction article proposal, and sketched out a few more possible articles to turn into currency.  I do love currency, I really do.

The rest of the week will see me rebuilding that 70% complete pre-WWII Nazi Germany urban fantasy short story to put in more Awesome and trim out the fat.  Then I have to write another chapter for That Damn MilSF Sequel, and think about a few more non-fiction articles to shop around.  Oh, and my little employers will want to do the regular round of playground visits, story readings, and other diversions.  Plus, they want to be fed two or three times a week.

And that’s my exciting life at the moment.  This year has been mostly like wading through a hip-deep lake of half-congealed sticky toffee, and being out of commission for just about a whole month due to ZOMG BACK PAIN didn’t help my creative output.  Now I’ll be playing catch-up for a little while.

a new week, and let’s not squander it.

Hello, world!

I feel like I just rejoined the rest of you after a three-week vacation on Planet Pain.  Today is my second day in a relatively pain-free state.  Putting on my socks still pinches a bit, but I can get around and Do Stuff without having to float on a mental cushion of Oxycodone and Dilaudid.

We have a visitor coming tomorrow (one of my VP pals), and the house is mostly clean, so I just need to do some finishing touches domestically, and take the kids out to the playground.  We haven’t been there in a while, thanks to Daddy being laid up and howling like a depressed timber wolf, so we’ll go out and catch up on the fun-having this morning.  I had a very enlightening dream that was disturbing and motivating at the same time, and it dovetails neatly into one of the novel ideas I’ve been carrying around in my noggin for a while, so I’ll be taking a few notes while the kids try to injure themselves in spectacular ways on the slides and monkey bars.

The weather’s great, I have a friend coming over to stay for two days, and the back pain has subsided.  (Don’t worry, I’ll still be taking it very easy for a while.)  Life is all of a sudden really tolerable again.  Amazing how much your outlook can change in a fortnight.