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The Uncanny Monument Valley

I’m not the first person this week to tackle the amazing game Monument Valley, but it’s deserving of the hype and worth the purchase price.

For the unaware, Monument Valley is a mobile game from ustwo that follows a protagonist, Ida, through a 3d/2d geometric wonderland which draws heavily from the works of M. C. Escher. It’s also got the 8-bit flavor of classic NES games and a glorious soundtrack & sound effects that recall those same games (think Legend of Zelda).

When I posted a shot of the final screen of the expanded levels on twitter, a friend name-checked Marble Madness and that feels right too. It’s simply a stunning game.

I won’t spoil all of the wonder for you, but I will include a gallery of my final screens. Even as digital art they’re beautiful artifacts.

Support this kind of Indie game by getting the game and the expansion on iTunes, Google Play or Kindle. It’s a treat!

Pumpkin Spice M&M's

Two Great Tastes?

Like Doritos & Mountain Dew (Dewitos), your’e in luck!

Enjoy Frito Pie so much you’d put it on a pie, there’s a pizza for that!

Maybe it’s the adjacency to Thanksgiving, but I can’t help but be reminded of Jones’ Soda’s Holiday Packs from the early-to-mid 2000’s, featuring all-time flavor greats such as Gravy or Brussels Sprout.

Also related: some of the recent M&M varietals are pretty wacky too.

Give Thanks, everyone, that we’re not forced to indulge in any of these earthly delights.

Stan Lee Excelsior
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iBrave

I’m not very precious about my iPhone but maybe I’m the outlier.

Despite the negative coverage around “bendgate”, including another article published just today, I happily tote my 6 Plus in my back pocket (I just don’t sit down with it still there).

My previous iPhones – a 4 that went to a watery grave at the local pool & a 4S that I shattered in a moment of extreme anger – both went caseless. Sure they had some nicks but no screen scratches or cracks, just normal wear & tear from average usage.

My main phone use case, the one that really defines me, is running with my phone strapped to my arm so I can log all kinds of data via iSmoothRun. Part of my excitement over the new iPhones was their dedicated M8 processors for tracking motion. It’s definitely a boon for battery life as I’ve never drained more than a percentage point or two during my average jog (5-7k).

But new hardware means new accessories, new routines and new challenges. Case in point: there’s not yet a running armband on the market for the 6 Plus. What that means functionally may shock some of you: I’ve been holding my phone in my left hand during all my runs over the past month.

Before you call a mental health professional on my behalf, I am using the silicone RED case from Apple. I’m brave but I’m not completely stupid. The combination of “bendgate” and a lack of any armband options (though I hope to buy one soon) made me just a bit more overprotective of the current phone than the last two. Also, despite feeling emotionally satisfying, smashing a phone like I did makes you realize just how fragile they are. I was just really lucky before.

No other phone has left me feeling like it’s about to jump out of my hand quite like this one, so a case is about function (peace of mind) as much as fashion. I’m thinking maybe a leather case might be more my aesthetic but the current case screams “Go Dawgs” and I’m ok with that.

Ideally I’d use something that was either malleable and slim enough to fit in an armband without me removing it, or I’d go completely in the opposite direction and get a Twelve South case for maximum ostentatiousness. I’ve always liked the exposed Apple logo as my hipness signifier but I could change my mind.

Whatever my choice, I’m committed to using the new phone as my primary computing device. I even typed this post using iA Writer and the suggested text feature in iOS 8. I still wish the 6 Plus had the iPad-style split keyboard in landscape orientation, but maybe I’ll find another solution.

For now I’m just excited to be using my phone more often. Where before my 4S had started to feel like the participation ribbon in my daily technology race, I really feel like I’ve won first prize now.

Until next time, I’ll be the one bravely toting my phone like a red relay baton.

Fatherhood v4.0

Fatherhood isn’t Motherhood mostly because Dad isn’t Mom, despite the fact that our two younger girls still call me “Mom” from time to time.

On Tuesday, with Election Day in full swing and the older kids home from school as their schools were polling places, I had a moment of parental clarity in dealing with our son.

He ran inside from playing with his friend.
He raced upstairs to his bedroom slamming the door to the Jack & Jill bathroom.
He hollered downstairs to me with explicit instructions that his friend not come in & not come upstairs.

Now I’m no genius but even I could tell something was up.

Despite repeated efforts by myself & his older sister to talk to him, he shouted us both down and we relented. She went back outside to play & I went back to working from our home office. 7-year-old boys will be 7-year-old boys, after all, and I didn’t feel the need to get up in his bathroom business.

Turns out I should have been more proactive in my fathering.

30 minutes later, having gone back outside with his friend, he careened through the front door and made a screaming beeline for the downstairs bathroom.

As I rushed to meet him there I heard the twin yawps of a son claiming his big sister wouldn’t let him come in despite the fact that he NEEDED to “go” and a sister alerting me to the fact that her younger brother was currently defecating all over the floor.

Fatherhood, man.

I’ll spare you the more graphic details of the rest of my evening but suffice it to say that parenting – Fatherhood – of a child is (apparently) a lifelong lesson taught to fools by the insane.

Much disgusting cleanup in BOTH bathrooms, physical & emotional, ensued.

At the end of the day I wasn’t angry or upset – the poor kid had a tummy ache and needed my nurturing fathering – but I was more than a little surprised he hadn’t sought out my assistance. I’m there to help, after all. I’m his dad not a babysitter or a teacher. He shouldn’t feel emberrassed or ashamed or scared when he’s around me.

But he thought I’d yell at him and so he hid his discomfort and then both of us were literally in deep shit.

How do you console a sick kid who doesn’t enlist your help for fear of retribution? Let me tell you that trying to answer that question will make your head and your heart hurt.

Most of all I just wanted to hug him (after washing my hands & he washed his).
I wanted to tell him it would all be all right, being sick & being apprehensive of me.
I needed to hold him & comfort him in all the ways he needed my comfort during his discomfort.

I don’t know that I’m always the best dad in the world, but I know that my kids always challenge me to rise to the occasion. They constantly surprise & delight me, sometimes in terrifying & frustrating ways.

At the end of the day we’re intertwined on this journey together and I can only hope their memories & expectations of me aren’t of yelling & screaming threats to pull the car over, but of all the times I cleaned up their messes.

I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and I think that’s the part I hope they learn about parenthood: that Mom & Dad will be there for them, always.