Dealing with a cranky child in a public place

The other day I was sitting in a food joint. My smartphone was boring so I started watching people.

Across from me, a young couple with a little girl sat down. Working class people, the food they were eating probably represented a sizable portion of their daily finances. The little girl was NOT having a good day. She was cranky, crying, and giving her mother fits. Her mom tried variations of “Be quiet! What do you want? Be quiet!”

Mom was very impatient, which I can understand. She seemed tired and probably worked way too hard for too little pay, but still, I was thinking, “She’s a little kid. Kids get cranky. Telling her to shut up isn’t going to work.” It was then I started to worry that mom and dad were going to give in to their impatience and take it out on the little girl. Yes, I agree with discipline, but I’ve rarely witnessed physical discipline applied with wise restraint, especially in public places.

At that moment, the young father suddenly reached over, picked up the little girl and walked out. Uh oh, I thought. Here it comes. So I kept an eye out.

But I was wrong. This young father, who in my ignorance I would have assumed didn’t know how to properly raise a child, walked around outside holding the little girl. Talking to her. Always gently. I could see the girl calm down, stop crying, and nod when her dad talked to her. What’s more, when she stopped crying and talked to him, he listened.

Dad brought her back inside and sat her down, and said something to mom. Mom looked over and then picked up her daughter and set her in her lap. Apparently, that was all she wanted. She merely wanted to sit in mommy’s lap while she ate.

I learned something about patience. I honestly don’t know if I was as tired as they seemed to be and dealing with a cranky child if I would have been so patient.

I don’t know why but that young family is still on my mind a couple of days later.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I should have said something to them before they left, bought their lunch for them, something. Gods, I’m an idiot.

Happy birthday, Star Trek!


Star Trek​ premiered on this date 49 years ago.

I didn’t discover it until the early 70s, right at the beginning of its renaissance in syndicated reruns, but it changed a little boy’s life, got him interested in science fiction, got him reading, got him writing, and opened up whole new vistas of imagination. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few of the people involved, and have the great honor of being good friends with one of its seminal writers.

While Star Trek: The Next Generation​ sequel series became my favorite Trek, the original series, or TOS as fans refer to it, will always hold a special place in my heart, and every time I watch an episode, even though I’ve seen every one dozens of times, maybe more, it always reminds me of a childhood when the future was bright, positive, and wide open.

Mr. Robot

It’s okay if you’re late to the party on this, I was too, but Mr. Robot​ is one of the best things I’ve seen on TV. The season finale is airing tonight on USA (after being delayed a week), but the other episodes are available on demand. You should do yourself a favor and witness some truly remarkable storytelling, acting and visuals.

Mr Robot

And this is normal.

Alison-Parker-Adam-WardWe can be shot by a someone we know. We can be shot by someone we don’t know. We can be shot on purpose. We can get shot by accident. We can be shot at random.

We can be shot by someone who’s crazy. We can be shot by someone who’s angry. We can be shot accidentally by a toddler who picks up a gun. We can be shot just because we were standing next to someone.

We can be shot by a bad guy. We can get shot by a police officer. We can be shot by an officer who was aiming at a bad guy. We can be shot by a bad guy who was aiming at a cop.

We can be shot for being gay or for being straight. We can be shot for being a Christian, for being a Muslim, for being an atheist. We can be shot for being black or white. We can be shot for being an immigrant or for being an American. We can be shot for being rich or for being homeless.

We can be shot in churches, in movie theaters, in shopping malls, in grocery stores, in the office, on the street, on the freeways, in our homes… literally anywhere, at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

And this is normal.

Entropy will always kick your ass.

Milky Way

Scientists are now pretty sure that the universe is dying. It is literally becoming darker. It will expand forever, and because there’s a finite amount of mass and matter, eventually everything will spread out until we are mere wisps. Entropy began winning as soon as the Big Bang happened. The universe will continue to grow colder and darker. Everything may have started with a bang but it’s ending not even with a whimper, just a cold, slow, lingering death. As all the molecules in the universe eventually lose their motion and vibration, what’s left you wouldn’t even be able to call mist. In the end, there will be the barest of nothings. It will be so spread out light won’t reach anywhere. There will be infinite darkness.

So yeah, gimme the large fries.

Maybe everything is pointless. And that’s the point.

Photo credit: Rob Archer

Photo credit: Rob Archer

I keep hearing about how important it is to find purpose in life, and that not having a purpose is a terrible thing to be avoided at all costs. The idea that there might not be a point to all this is seen as something too horrific to even consider… But who says there has to be a point? Who says there has to be a purpose? Maybe we’re just here… to be here.

Like the great Rush song says, “Why are we here? Because we’re here. Roll the bones. Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll the bones.”

I’ve thought and thought about this. If it turns out that life is pointless, it really doesn’t make me feel any worse… or any better for that matter. I’m fine with it. The universe is a big place and we’re kind of small. So it’s entirely possible the universe doesn’t give a squat about what some barely evolved primates have decided is oh so important.

In fact, if there IS a point, then we’ve got to worry about figuring out what it is, and then when we think we’ve got it figured out, we’ve got to worry if we’ve missed it or got the wrong one. And if someone else has figured out a different point, then we’ve got to fight and argue and have wars about who’s right.

Maybe it’s better if everything is pointless, because then we can just spend our time enjoying the ride for what it is: a ride.

The preceding was brought to you by the hot steaming cup of coffee I just drank.

The absence of Jon Stewart isn’t all bad.

colbert stweart oliver

Yes, we’ve lost Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and it’s hard facing a world without him.

But it’s really not that bad, in fact it’s great, because not one, but two extremely talented people have already stepped into the void.

John Oliver is doing a show on HBO – Last Week Tonight – that delves deeply into topics we don’t normally think about, and I don’t think Comedy Central would have let him do that show. Certainly not without commercial interruption.

Also, Stephen Colbert is bringing his incredible intelligence and humor – and his Colbert Report writing staff – to a massive mainstream audience on CBS he couldn’t dream of reaching on Comedy Central.

So, Jon, enjoy your rest. Stephen and John have got this.