EppsNet Archive: Parents

How I Married My Mother

15 Mar 2018 /

Oklahoma mom who once married her son will now go to jail for marrying her daughterFort Worth Star-Telegram

Mom is being jailed for felony incest. I think we can all agree that marrying the son was a wrong thing to do, but I thought incest requires sexual intercourse.

The two women are adults, there’s no child abuse, there are no reproductive issues to consider, so if you happen to hit it off with your mom in that way, why not?

Look, they even have matching outfits!

Mother-daughter mug shot

Empowerment and Accountability for 5-Year-Olds

19 Feb 2018 /
Kids with blocks

This is a real thing I just read:

I tasked my 5-year-old with cleaning up the blocks from the floor, after he was done playing. A few times, he did not do it, and I ended up doing it for him. Later on, I realized that when I did it for him I was not empowering him to do the task and be accountable for it. This situation can be easily improved by exhibiting Empowerment and Accountability.

For a 5-year-old? You’re overthinking it.

Even with adults, “empowerment” and “accountability” are overused: I’m empowering you to complete this task. I’m not giving any of the resources you need but I’m empowering you.

And as with the 5-year-old, when he doesn’t pick up the blocks despite being “empowered,” you’ll soon realize there’s no “accountability” without consent.

Some Links on Effective Communication

18 Feb 2018 /

Busting myths on gender differences in the brain (Article)
Nora Caplan-Bricker, “The Idea of a ‘Male Brain’ and a ‘Female Brain’ Is Likely a Myth,” Slate, November 2, 2015.

Challenges and strategies for creating safe communication spaces at work (Article)
James R. Detert and Ethan R. Burris, “Can Your Employees Really Speak Freely?,” Harvard Business Review, vol. 94, no. 1 (January/February 2016): p. 80-87.

Communication comes in all shapes and sizes (Video)
Nancy Lublin, “Texting That Saves Lives,” TEDvideo, 5:24, February 2012.

Do men and women communicate differently? (Article)
Deborah Cameron, “What Language Barrier?,” The Guardian, October 1, 2007.

Find out the meaning behind emojis (Website)

Game-changing communication developments (Article)
Amber Leigh Turner, “5 Trends Disrupting Communication,” TNW News.

How the medium of communications can change what we say (Article)
Tweets From Mobile Devices Are More Likely to Be Egocentric,” International Communications Association press release, October 1, 2015.

Leaders can change their power cues to open up discussions (Article)
James R. Detert and Ethan R. Burris, “Nonverbal Cues Get Employees to Open Up—or Shut Down,” Harvard Business Review, December 11, 2015.

Parent/adult child bond increased with number of communication tools (Article)
Heidi Stevens, “Tech-Savvy Parents Communicate Better with Adult Kids: Study,” Chicago Tribune, November 3, 2014.

Solid teams require people who can talk and organize (Video)
Nike Academy: Communication and Leadership,” YouTube video, 2:47, posted by “Nike Football,” Oct 2, 2014.

Tools to streamline internal work communications (Article)
Catherine Lawson, “Online Chatting at Work Gets the Thumbs Up From Bosses,” BBC News, November 27, 2015.

When language perpetuates discrimination (Article)
Tory Paez, “Goodbye Chatty Kathy,” Catalyzing, January 26, 2016.

This is My Year!

17 Jan 2018 /

My dad is 82 . . . he says he always thought that someday he would get everything organized and under control but it never happened.

That being said, I feel like this is the year I get everything organized and under control . . .

Tags: ,

Teaching Computer Science: Asking for Help

9 Jan 2018 /

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week at a local high school, helping out with computer science classes.

Cell phone

This morning, in AP Computer Science Principles, the teacher went through an explanation of the hexadecimal number system, then gave an in-class assignment for students to convert their cell phone number to hexadecimal. Not in two parts, 3 digits and 4 digits, but as a 7-digit number.

It seemed pretty obvious from the interaction and the body language and the looks on their faces that a lot of students didn’t get it, but in a class of 25 students, only one student asked for help. Until the teacher finished with that student and asked “Does anyone else need help?” and eight more students immediately raised their hand.

I asked the teacher, “Can I address the class for a minute?”


“First off, doing a 7-digit hex conversion is not easy. I know professional programmers who can’t do it. So I’d expect someone trying to do it for the first time to need some help.

“In fact, if you know any professional programmers, ask them to do a hex conversion on their phone number. Let me know what happens. I guarantee you won’t have to ask too many people before you stump someone.

Snap programming

“None of the material in this class is easy. Snap programming? You might look at it and think ‘There’s a cat and a fish and a duck . . . I’m not understanding it but it looks like a program for 5-year-olds. It’s embarrassing as a high school student to have to ask for help with it. Maybe I’m not very smart.’

“No, Snap is a university-level curriculum from Berkeley. Academically rigorous. I worked through the assignments myself and I found them pretty challenging. I’d expect many of you to find them challenging as well. So you should be asking for help.

“If you need help, waiting for someone to ask if you need help is not going to be a winning strategy. In school, in life or in anything. Because if no one asks, then you need help and you don’t get it.

“There’s probably a natural reluctance to ask questions because what if I’m the only person who doesn’t know the answer? Then I ask a question and look foolish.

“It’s going to be unusual in any class that you’re the only person who doesn’t understand something. If you find that happens to you a lot, you may have a problem. But normally it’s going to be pretty unusual.

“I can tell you in this class, there’s definitely more than one person who finds the material pretty challenging. As I said, I find it pretty challenging myself. It’s not so challenging that I need help with it, but it’s definitely challenging enough that I’d expect most people who are not programmers to need help with it.


“I’m also hearing some people today saying to themselves or to the person next to them, ‘Why do we need to know this?'” That’s actually a very good question. Binary of course is the fundamental language of computers, but why would you need to know hexadecimal? Anyone?”

No hands go up.

“OK, we’ll talk about that in a minute. If it’s not clear to you, in this class or any class, why you’re being asked to learn something, put your hand up and insist on understanding the relevance.

“One final anecdote:

“I worked with an AP class a couple of years ago at another school. About this same timeframe, late first semester, I was in class on a Monday and before the class started, one of the students asked me, ‘How was your weekend?’

“I said, ‘It was okay. How was yours?’

“‘It was great! I played like 47 straight hours of [some video game I can’t remember the name of].’

“And he was one of the worst students in the class, maybe the worst.

“I know he and his parents had met with the principal and the teacher to figure out why he was doing so poorly in computer science. It had to be the school’s fault, right?

“So I’m trying to wrap my mind around this. You played 47 hours of video games, you have no idea what’s going on in this class, and it’s the teacher’s fault?!

“No, it’s your fault. You put nothing into it so you get nothing out of it, you don’t ask for help, and that’s why you’re failing.

“Moral of the story: Don’t be that guy.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

To the Daughter I Never Had

17 Oct 2017 /

Take control of your own impulses, conflicts and disappointments. Don’t forfeit your freedom and independence in exchange for intrusion into and adjudication of your private life and penalizing of men who did something you didn’t like.

Also: Dress appropriately. Maintain some mystique and intrigue.

Don’t feel like you have to link up with another person until you’ve got some idea about what you want from life.

Love, Dad

Those They Leave Behind

29 Sep 2017 /
Moving van

My son’s moving this weekend from an overpriced San Francisco apartment to a different overpriced San Francisco apartment.

His roommates in the current apartment are a friend he’s known since high school and a young woman who answered an ad to replace the original roommate, a college friend who moved out six months ago.

The new roommates are the same high school friend plus two college classmates.

My wife was talking to the boy last night on speaker phone . . . she was dismayed that the current female roommate wasn’t included in the move.

“We gave her a lot of notice so she’s already found another spot,” the boy said. “She’s hard to live with. She’s kind of a slob. In six months, she didn’t take the trash out one time.”

I said to my wife, but loud enough for him to hear, “He never took the trash out when he lived with us, but we didn’t kick him out.”

“You did kick me out,” he said. He then recounted how we drove him to a college campus six years ago and left him there.

Nice try . . .

Making it Through High School Alive

10 Sep 2017 /

Baltimore schools spend a staggering $16,000 per student – the fourth-highest rate in the nation – and still an investigation by Fox45’s Project Baltimore revealed that at six city schools, not one student scored proficient on the statewide tests for English and math.

At West Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High, one of five high schools and one middle school where not one student scored a four or a five on the state test, only one out of 185 students who took the test last year scored a three, while 165 students scored a one, the lowest possible score.

Frederick Douglass

The schools are:

  • Booker T. Washington Middle School
  • Frederick Douglass High School
  • Achievement Academy at Harbor City
  • New Era Academy
  • Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood High
  • New Hope Academy

It looks like if you live in Baltimore, you want to avoid sending your child to a school whose name includes the word “Academy” or the name of an eminent black American.

The mother of one Frederick Douglass student is quoted as saying, “That’s absurd to me. That’s your teacher’s report card, ultimately.”

In Irvine, CA, where I live, the school district spent $9,488 per student last year, so I think it’s fair to say that Baltimore parents are not getting good value for their education dollar, but I also think that Irvine parents would be much more likely to say that sub-par educational performance indicates a problem in the home rather than with the teachers.

Accentuating the positive: At Excel Academy, 300 seniors started the school year, 104 graduated and 5 were shot to death. In some towns, just making it through high school alive is an accomplishment.

We’re Dreamers Too

6 Sep 2017 /

There are lots of people who went to school, worked hard, provided for our families, raised our kids, tried to do the right things . . . no one lionizes us but we’re dreamers too . . .

A Real American

Some Things You Never Get Used To

27 Aug 2017 /

Our whole family has been seeing the same doctor for about 15 years.

I had an appointment with her today and she was a nervous wreck. She told me she’s flying to Houston tonight with her son, who’s starting college at Rice University.

I’ve already had a child move away for college so she asked, “How did you handle this? I feel like I have a rock on my chest.”

“Well, it’s a challenge when you love someone so much and they leave. Maybe prescribe yourself some Xanax.”

“What do you do at the end? How do the parents leave? Does everyone just hug and say goodbye?”

“You probably have to follow your heart on that. My goal was not to cry in front of the boy and I did accomplish that. I hugged him, I said ‘I love you, I’m proud of you,’ he walked into the dorm and I got in the car and drove home.”

She started grasping at straws. “I guess you get used to it over time,” she said.

“Not really. It’s been six years and I still haven’t gotten used to it.’

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: X Hours of Homework

23 Aug 2017 /
Boy doing math problems

School is back in session and I’m listening to one of my colleagues say that his son started junior high school this year and had 6 hours of homework last night.

It’s a way of bragging: My kid’s school is more academically oriented than your kid’s school.

Maybe your kid is just slow. Maybe other people’s kids are finishing the homework in an hour.

Or maybe your kid finished his homework 6 hours after he said he was starting his homework because he worked for an hour and spent 5 hours surfing the net for pornography.

It doesn’t make sense to say the school assigned X hours of homework . . .

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

17 Jul 2017 /

Acquisitive yuppies who, instead of holding their infant, wear the child in a harness on their chest, thus keeping their hands free for grabbing more stuff . . .

Great Moments in Socialized Medicine: Charlie Gard

4 Jul 2017 /

If I’m understanding this correctly, socialized medicine really does mean that the government decides if you will live or die, and if your children will be allowed to live or die.

I’m glad to see that the current president of the United States is not on board with the idea of a government being able to decide on the life or death of a baby, and to deny the parents of the baby the ability to counter that decree.

This is a good reminder — since there are people who think that “single payer,” i.e., socialized medicine, i.e., the government runs the healthcare system, would be a good thing to have in the United States — that the government, if you’re very old and/or very sick, is not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years or months or days of your life to keep you going.

It’s too expensive, so they are going to let you die.

Why Are Black Americans Against School Choice?

10 May 2017 /

Most or all of the people booing Betsy DeVos know little or nothing about her except that they’re expected to dislike her for reasons that they may know are related to her views on public schools and school choice.

But why are black Americans against school choice?

I don’t want to overgeneralize — my son went to public schools and got a good education — but it’s all on the kids and their families to make it happen. Without school choice, public schools don’t have the right incentives.

People running public schools aren’t paid by customers who voluntarily send their kids to those schools and who could choose to send their kids to another school if they wanted to.

Public schools are paid for by taxing citizens who may or may not have kids in the schools and regardless of how well the schools actually perform. The funding is independent of customer choice. Each child is assigned to a particular school.

So where is the incentive to provide good education?

Parenting Blunders Ranked

2 Jan 2017 /
American pit bull terrier

In other pit bull news, our neighbors across the street, who have a 5-year-old son, just brought home a 1-year-old pit bull from the animal shelter.

This is a terrible idea because they don’t know the background of the dog, what is its history with people, adults, children, with other dogs, etc.

Of course that’s true of rescue dogs of any breed, but the worst-case scenarios with most breeds don’t include maiming or killing a family member, probably your 5-year-old.

Even the most poorly socialized pug, golden retriever, chihuahua, etc., is not going to kill anyone.

By the way, I think pit bulls are great dogs but they need to be socialized and trained. I wouldn’t get one from an animal shelter because I don’t know the background of the dog.

As parenting blunders go, this is not quite up there with letting your child fall into a gorilla enclosure, but it’s close . . .

Debbie Reynolds, 1932-2016

29 Dec 2016 /
Debbie Reynolds

Did Debbie Reynolds Die of a Broken Heart?The New York Times

Debbie Reynolds died one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Correlation doesn’t imply causation blah blah blah but outliving a child must be an unbearable tragedy . . .

RIP Debbie Reynolds

Carrie Fisher, 1956-2016

27 Dec 2016 /
Carrie Fisher

She died from complications of cardiac arrest. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, is 84 years old and still alive.

If I believed in God, I would pray to him that I do not outlive my child . . . My main, and perhaps only, contribution in life is raising a son who surpasses me on every conceivable metric, so that when I’m gone and he’s still here, the world will be a better place.

RIP Carrie Fisher

Update: Debbie Reynolds died the following day.

How to Tell If You’re Too Busy

17 Sep 2016 /

A colleague shared this on Slack:

Busy Guy

It’s a slide from a presentation given by somebody somewhere . . . it’s hard to read but the gist of it is:

In the past, I’ve worked every holiday, on my birthday, my spouse’s birthday, and even on the day my son was born.

I asked the guy who shared it, “How do the birthdays fit in there? I don’t even remember when my spouse’s birthday is, but I certainly didn’t work on the day my son was born.”

“I think he meant on the nights of the birthdays,” was the reply.

“Was he working on the night his son was conceived? I bet he was. He seems like a very busy guy.”

20-Something Girlfriends

17 Sep 2016 /
Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson expecting NINTH child: Lethal Weapon star, 60, announces his girlfriend, 26, is pregnantDaily Mail Online

Here are the ages of Gibson’s current children: 36, 34 (twins), 31, 28, 26, 17, 6.

OK, Gibson is better looking than I am, he has a lot more money than I do . . . on the other hand, I’m younger and taller (Wikipedia lists him as 5’10”).

It gives one pause . . .

We Did It the Old-Fashioned Way

2 Sep 2016 /

I overheard a couple people discussing IVF today . . . here in Southern California the cost apparently runs $15,000 – $20,000 for a single IVF cycle, which of course includes no guarantee of success.

When my wife and I decided to have a child, I knocked her up on the first try. Just wanted to put that on the record . . .

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