Easy Peasy

Jo and I celebrated our back-to-school lunch last week. We probably didn’t start doing these till Vivian went off to kindergarten. But that is still ten solid years of back-to-school day-drinking. We are rapidly getting used to not having the kids around. Earlier this week we went to Jo’s suping place and paddled and swam and hung out with Ouiser. Mansfield dam is half a mile upstream and the water in this portion of the Colorado comes out from the bottom of Lake Travis. It is the coldest water I have encountered in Texas. I can’t swim in it longer than a few seconds but Jo floats and splashes around in shoulder-deep water for a while. Ouiser had the most fun once she got used to the doggie life jacket. Did I mention that we are really enjoying the kids being back in school : – )

It’s not that we saw them much during summer vacation anymore. Evan mostly stayed in his room, reading or playing Minecraft while shit-talking with Niko over Discord, his headphones firmly clamped over his ears. Vivian left her room periodically, forced out by hunger or to watch Hunter X Hunter on Netflix. In her room she read, snaped with friends, listened to music, and sketched.

Vivian’s school published a survey on vaccination rates for each class and the percentages are pretty good. We get emails from Evan’s school every time a kid tests positive. Just one from the middle school so far, but surprisingly many more from the pre-school campus. I worry about teachers. This should have been easy peasy. Get vaccinated, wear masks, outsmart the bug. I heard an interview on the radio this week where this woman in the army is mad because she feels she is being forced to get vaccinated. She is healthy and doesn’t understand why someone healthy needs a vaccine. We are spending taxpayer dollars to teach her to shoot. The army has already vaccinated her probably against 15 different diseases, all while she was healthy. We should perhaps spend some more tax dollars to teach her to think. I can’t imagine how doctors and nurses are dealing with the pandemic of stupidity. When we went to the kids’ dentist last week (which is why Vivian is wearing the shades in the photo), the staff looked a little rough.

On Friday evening I went to a party and cookout at Vivian’s school. Jo was conveniently in Washington D.C., so I wandered around by myself for a few minutes till I ran into Vivian on the sidelines of a field hockey game. I look around and suddenly realize that Vivian is on her way to being an adult. It’s not the first time that thought has crossed Jo and my minds, but it is still a shock. Vivian went to a club on 6th street for a (outdoor) concert with a friend last weekend and got back home after 11pm. As she texted me on her way home, I had a flashback to my teen years, growing up wrapped in privilege in Hyderabad. Even then there were some close calls. I hope Vivian mostly makes good decisions and learns from her bad ones. I drove her to a friend’s birthday party last night. She is trying to find an identity for herself in her new high school. It’s fun and a bit nerve wracking to watch. On the way to her party, I call the host of where I was headed for dinner to tell him I’ll arrive a little late. Vivian realizes that her detour is the cause of my delay.

She mumbles something like “Dad – thanks for agreeing to take me to this party.”

I say, “So what do I get back in return?”

She smiles and says “I’ll be careful, and I’m building trust”

Evan and I spend a few minutes together most days, on our way to his school in the morning and on the return trip in the afternoon. The other morning he hops into the car and says “Do we only think in the languages we know?” Whoa, kid. Philosophers have been debating this for centuries and more recently linguists and psychologists have gotten into it too. We chat about language of thought, Chomsky, and Pinker. A few years ago, when Vivian realized the existence of her inner monologue, Evan was too young to understand. He said he didn’t have an inner monologue. Now, he recognizes it and chats about it. I challenge him to try to think without language. He thinks for a while and says maybe with music, or in visuals. And then we are at his school.

On the drive back from school one afternoon, Evan asked why the order of the alphabet is what it is. We talk about non-Greek languages. He told me something about Mandarin. I told him about the phonetic ordering of the Hindi alphabet. It’s a fun time to be a parent!

The other kids are doing well. Ouiser loves her morning trail walks and swims, and her evening social time with her other doggy friends. She has extracted a large clear plastic ball that was the squeaker in a toy that Jo got him, and it is her favorite toy ever. My work is coming along. It is 5:20am on a Sunday and I am blogging because I am usually up and working by this time. I am enjoying optimizing my time, trying to squeeze in the usual 12 hour workdays in a startup while keeping my mornings with Ouiser and our evenings with the kids from changing too much. If you know anyone who enjoys living at the intersection of AI and video, I’d love to invite them for a beer or a tea or anything in-between, virtually. I’m on zoom a few hours everyday. I had heard and read how it wasn’t the best format to meet, but I’m loving it so far. The rest of the time I’m on Evan’s old Chromebook or working things out in my trusty engineering notebook with a pencil. When I did this 22 years ago, we rented office space, and bought servers and computers and furniture. Now we live in our home offices and kitchen tables and meet and work in the cloud. I think in three time zones from Boston to Palo Alto, and I strangely know the time in Karachi. This little adventure definitely keeps things interesting.

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