Thoughts: Pokemon Go

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So, as a 14 year old trapped inside the body of a middle-aged man, I HAD to sign up for Pokemon Go. And yes, putting aside the obvious issues around privacy and security, it’s actually pretty fun.

I’d pre-empted spending today with my kids (10, 13) by installing and learning this thing. It’s quite sophisticated. I’m loving the augmented reality aspect of it.

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Getting out and about with them was hilarious. We found all the things. We captured all the things. We observed packs of teenagers all monitoring their phones and running around looking for Pokemon.

Such fun!

One thing I learned today is that the algorithm that creates PokéStops has selected secure sites that are home to a number of NZ’s infrastructure industries, and kids are breaking in to these sites to collect. Warnings have gone out industry-wise!

Yet another thing for me to obsess with for a while and connect with my kids over. They’re really my best things.

^sd

 

Thoughts: Quality Time With My Daughter

Yesterday I had to take Master 13 to a mates birthday. As it was on the other side of Auckland from home I was not interested in making a couple of trips.

This left me with the task of providing entertainment for Miss 10 who’d tagged along.

Now, I’ve been developing a healthy and wholesome obsession with DIY stores – I love spending time in both Bunnings and Mitre 10 – and tragically my son and other assorted people in my life (I’m looking at KT) don’t seem to properly appreciate the joyous environs provided by these companies.

But Miss 10 appears to.

We went to Bunnings. We went to Mitre 10. We looked at tools. We looked at plants. We looked at wood.

I have learned that Miss 10 is really interested in home decor and design. She loves lights, and has a particular thing for fake display kitchens. She loves them! (I should note here that she is a bit disturbed by display toilets – it’s balance I suppose).

She was a great partner in a crime for me! It was so much fun.

We also spent a few hours looking for geocaches. She took pride and pleasure in locating destinations (giving me directions and instructions) and then finding the caches, logging our finds and then deciding on the next one.

It was a special time. It was unforced and just fun. I’m loving how she’s growing and the person she is becoming. I’m a lucky guy.

Thoughts: Momentous Meetings

This week has been pretty huge for me.

My birth mother has come to stay with me and KT. She arrived in NZ a month ago – I wrote about it here – and has been spending time catching up with her old friends and reconnecting with my birth father.

Last Sunday represented the first time in my entire life that I have been in the same room as my mother and my father. It was a little surreal.

My kids got to meet their biological grandmother for the first time in their lives on Tuesday. After the initial shyness they connected. My mother (76) loves technology and gaming and has a Steam membership, as does Master 13. They’re now friends on Steam and as my son so eloquently put it “When it’s my birthday you can buy me games”. Sigh.

Miss 10 is a little more circumspect. She likes to hold back and observe until she’s considered all things. Then she talks. And talk they did.

As I’d already met Mum and my family over in Somerset and have connected with my Father and half-brother over the last few years, it wasn’t too emotionally challenging for me. Apart from an occasional “wow” moment when people around us observe mannerisms and speech patterns that are clearly genetic rather than learned. For my Mum though it’s been a completion. She’s naturally a tad pessimistic and was worried that my kids would ‘hate her on sight’. This of course was quite silly. She’s mentioned that for the first time in her life she feels directly involved rather than being on the periphery of family goings-on.

An interesting observation is that my mother and father don’t have any real experience of being grandparents so the relationship that will develop between them and my kids is going to be quite different to those my kids have with my adoptive parents and their grandparents on their mothers’ side. It’ll be more adult than anything. It will be interesting to see how that progresses.
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It’s been good showing mum around parts of Auckland. She’s got to meet my ex (the mother of my kids) briefly and has started to get a real sense of my world. She has realised how similar to her I am.

My dad has been staying with my half-brother this week and has joined us on occasion. We visited Kelly Tarlton’s (yes, it’s the one thing my mum wanted to see in Auckland – she loves aquariums) and then yesterday, we all met my adoptive parents for a cuppa and a chat.

Well… by ‘chat’ I mean that the four somewhat deaf senior citizens paired off and started talking. The kids and I were surplus to the occasion so we ended up playing cards. My birth parents and my adoptive parents had a lifetime of catching up to do. They’d never met before.
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So the missing pieces of my life are found. And with this visit, my life has come full circle.

Very interesting times indeed.

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Thoughts: Yet Another Life Changing Event

Over the last year or so there have been a number of events in my life requiring my attention and dedication to get through. Nothing earth-shattering but generally a bit distracting and frustrating.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been reflecting on my existence and considering the things that impact me (both positively and negatively) that I can control and the things that impact me that I can’t control. I’ve also considered the things I don’t actually care about, and the things I shouldn’t care about.

It has been quite the cathartic process.

All that being said, as a result of all this navel-gazing, this coming weekend is my last in my extraordinarily expensive apartment in Grey Lynn. I have mixed feelings as I love apartment dwelling and this one has been fun,  but it’s time. I’m moving in with the significant other. This is a fairly big thing for me as I’ve been stoically independent for the last seven years. I love my space and solitude as much as I love company. *deep breath*

My main concern was the impact this would have on my kids. They’re still being brought up in the ways of the Lord by their mother and their school and their church, and they’ll know that Dad doesn’t subscribe to a lot of the imposed morality of their environment. I am very conscious of making sure they never feel like visitors or that they’ve been replaced.

Of secondary concern is that I’m moving to Belmont. BELMONT. I’m going to have to become a Shore Boy. There are some aspects of the Shore that I like: Tunnels in hills for example. Beaches are OK I guess. I like Takapuna. I am dreading being a regular on Lake Rd – that abomination of tarmac that connects Esmonde Rd to Devonport. But I’ll get used to it I suppose.

I will miss my locals – Freida Margolis, The Gypsy Tea Room et al – but I will make my presence felt on Hurstmere Rd and surrounds I’m sure.

I am looking forward to making use of the Devonport Ferry on a semi-regular basis. A definite bonus.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.

Thoughts: Star Wars – The Force Awakens (No Spoilers!)

Star_Wars_The_Force_AwakensYesterday was Opening Day for the seventh film in the Star Wars saga, and I was fortunate to be able to take my 13 year old son to see it. The Lux style (Hoyt’s version of Gold Class). I wanted to create a memory for him that lasts long.

Let me explain.

I saw the original Star Wars in the Regent Theatre in Palmerston North when it was released. I’m not entirely proud of how I got to see it, but I got to see it.

Oh OK. Here’s the story. If you insist.

I really really really wanted to see it but my parents were quite frugal (Dad was a teacher, Mum was a relief teacher (both at PNBHS) and they were raising four kids) so my going to see it was out of the question according to them. ANYWAY, I learned that my sister had been invited to a friends 7th birthday party – and the horde of girls was going to see Star Wars!!! Girls??? Star Wars??? And NOT me??? I rather suspect I threw my toys. Just a little bit. Long story short, I got to see Star Wars. And that fact transcended the fact I was at a 7 yr old girls birthday party.

I remember it vividly. I remember the Tangy Fruits in plastic pottles. I remember walking out of the theatre on its red carpet feeling like I was walking on air. And the memory of seeing the banner stretched across the hallway with ‘May The Force Be With You’ is seared in my mind.

So yesterday was a re-living. Another generation experiencing Star Wars on release in the cinema!

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We were so excited.

I picked my son up a couple of hours before screening time thinking we’d wander the shops a bit, look for Christmas gifts, yarn, fill in time. Well – THAT idea went out the window pretty quick. Neither of us could concentrate. We were twitchy, fidgety and restless all at the same time.

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My son has been nervous about this movie since it was announced. Years ago. He’s been “I hope Abrams doesn’t stuff it up” since he was 11. (He didn’t actually know who JJ Abrams was at the time). He loves these movies so much and has become the go-to kid at school on all things Star Wars. I’m not sure I should be proud, but at least he gets out in the sun and plays some sports…

Finally, the time came. We were escorted to our seats.

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The coke and popcorn and wine arrived, the 3D glasses were put on, the lights went down and then…

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We were not disappointed. A stupid, silly, happy grin has been on both our faces for the last 24 hours. Do go see this movie. It’s terrific!

 

 

Thoughts: End of the Year, and Prizegivings

It’s that time of year which I’m pretty certain most parents dread.

Not only are the days longer, and the humidity is dialed up to hair-raising levels but the kids are tired. They’re over school. And they have to endure just a few more days…

A few more days. Bookended by an apparently endless list of prizegivings. Every activity, every class, dragging in family and friends to celebrate the success (or not) of the year.

I’ve attended two so far. Happily the minor ones are during school time and I haven’t been able to attend 100%… I don’t really feel bad about that.

My kids attend a church-based school. Their prizegiving was full of wide-eyed optimism, hope and God. Thankfully, it was also highly efficient.

In a church-based school prizegiving there is a lot of singing, always involving the attendees. With hands in the air, and/or bouncing and clapping. The school provided the musicians and again, the optimism came to the fore. Front and centre. It’s not a bad thing I guess. However, I do struggle being completely positive about things when it seems that the concept of learning to tune your instruments before playing has been bypassed. A few sighs. A few winces of aural pain. I survived.

Making it about my kids, they both got prizes. They’ve had a good year. I do worry about this sort of thing as being in a family dynamic that is no longer your traditional ‘mum, dad and the kids’ could be problematic for them. Not many of their peers have divorced parents. Miserable parents, yes, but not divorced.

Then the joy of my daughters gymnastics end-of-year event. What a steaming pile of disorganization that was! 

There was a display. Little people running, jumping, rolling, flipping and posing.

Then my daughter got a prize (yes, I’m somewhat surprised!). Then for the next 1hr 20mins it went something like this:

Display ( running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

Prizes

Display (running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

Prizes

Display (running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

Coaches giving themselves prizes, wine and general back-slapping

Display (running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

In short, it was excruciating.

Still, my girl got a prize. So I’m ok with this!

Hopefully I’ve checked my calendar correctly and I have no more to endure. 

Love my kids, can’t stand bad events.

Thoughts: Public Pools

It has clearly become the ‘Summer’ season and my kids (and I’m sure those of pretty much every parent alive) have decided that there is a compulsive need for me to take them swimming every weekend they’re with me.

My closest pool is Pt Erin in Herne Bay, but for some reason it’s not opened yet. So Mt Albert Aquatic Centre has been the best option.

If you’ve never been there, it’s quite a cool place. Multiple pools, sprays, a wave generator, and a decent water slide.

My kids LOVE IT and charge in all guns a-blazin’, and today I reluctantly decided to join them. I’m not big on swimming but more importantly to me, getting amongst a seething mass of humanity in a bowl filled with a liquid of dubious composition really isn’t my thing.

The children pressed me to pony up the cash to hire tubes for them to play with for an hour. Naturally, they ran out of things to do with said tubes after about 25 minutes and wanted me to hold on to them for them. Yeah… nah.

The people-watching dynamic is always interesting. But you’re not allowed to watch too closely as that may be construed as slightly creepy. It’s interesting listening too – the screeches of happy from kids, the cries of torment from kids, the words of encouragement from parents “suck it up, it’s only a bit of water” etc. etc.

It’s when clients of yours bob past that you realise you’re really not looking your best and suck in your stomach. Talking shop and generally being wary of the amount of eye contact your’re engaging in is a tricky balance. You don’t usually have business meetings with little clothing on.

I also found it disconcerting when my kids deserted me to go down the waterslide. There usually is a bit of a wait so I was left there floating in the main pool having to watch them. So… Mid-40’s male, bobbing, alone, surrounded by hordes of children, trying to act nonchalant… Uh oh…

Happily they swum themselves out and I was released from my overthinking.

And once dried and dressed and walking out of the place, I released my stomach muscles. I am after all, just a little bit vain.

God I hate Public Pools.

Thoughts: Old Age and Coping with People

I had lunch with my aged parents today. They’re in their early-mid 80’s now and pretty much set in their ways. They are active n their church and consequently meet many people. They are very polite and this politeness can create awkward situations.

They related a tale today of a widow, whom I shall call ‘M’. She’s a Singaporean Chinese lady in her 70’s and has lived in New Zealand for over twenty-five years.

Anyway, my parents were complaining that ‘M’ has latched on to them. She keeps wanting to spend time with them and she keeps giving them things.

During this week, M took my parents to a local cafe for morning tea. Firstly, this isn’t a great environment because my Dad is quite deaf, and the ambient noise of a barista and busy room is imposing. “All that bang bang bang and whooshing – I couldn’t hear a thing”!

Mum was therefore left to talk with M, but told me she couldn’t understand a word she was saying. The heavily-accented English (“she’s been here for 25 years and it hasn’t improved”) was just too hard. Dad told me that just sat there trying to look intelligent. He wasn’t sure if he succeeded.

M had ordered a slice of quiche, and when it arrived the first thing she did was transfer it to Dad’s plate. Dad already had a slice of carrot cake there and wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do – so he cut it in half and returned it to her.

Shortly thereafter, M signaled the waiter to collect her plate. Dad thinks she said she’d finished, but noticed that she hadn’t actually eaten anything. More quiche confusion.

Mum chimed in: “We’ve found out she doesn’t cook. We think she eats only meusli bars. And she keeps trying to give us some”.

They then looked at me and said somewhat plaintively “We actually try to avoid her because she’s a bit clingy. We just don’t know what to do.”

I laughed. I’m going to have so much fun as an octogenerian!

Thoughts: Armageddon 2015

I had the opportunity to take my kids to Armageddon at the ASB Showgrounds today.

I’d been before with my son, but never with my daughter. She wanted to come along and see what it was all about. Of course, Master 13 was a bit put out as Armaggedon was a Dad-Son thing, but I managed to get him past that concept.

I was mostly concerned how Miss nearly 10 would cope with the crushing crowds and costumes. It’s hard to find your way around when your view is mostly bottom-height.

For me and Master 13, the Sony PlayStation booth was the primary destination. We were very keen to see the new Star Wars Battlefront game. Master 13 queued for 30 mins for a hands-on experience. Apparently it was totally worth the wait. And apparently I have to buy a PS4 now. 

  
  
If you’ve never been to Armaggedon, one thing it is, is that it’s highly entertaining. There are so many people that make the effort to dress up, and in quite sophisticated costumes.

Anime, Cosplay, Star Trek and Star Wars. DC and Marvel. Modern warfare and Steampunk. All collected in one place. It’s absolutely brilliant. After much observation and consideration, I think my  favorite genre is Steampunk. Those guys looked fantastic.

  
You can purchase pretty much anything in comics, shirts, costumes and masks. Art, posters and books. Games, toys, DVDs and more. 

  
I love that it validates games such as Magic:The Gathering. Of course I had to suppress the irrational desire to yell ‘Nerds’ at the top of my voice. Mainly because it would be acknowledging that fundamentally I am actually a bit of a nerd. Life rule: Never Grow Up.

  
My daughter coped with the crowds really well. In fact she’s decided that next year she wants to go in costume. My son decided that I should go as a somewhat short, plump Warlock from Destiny. So much respect for me, huh?

I can totally recommend Armageddon as a destination to amuse your kids for an afternoon. Just keep an eye on them as there are a lot of people swirling around in random patterns. At 3pm there was an announcement of a lost child, missing since 10:30am. Parents can be distracted.

Thoughts: 13 Yr Old Son and a Random Act Of Kindness

So yesterday, as I collected my kids, my 13 yr old son told me he had to do a blogpost for school. Which had a deadline. Midday today.

And the topic of his post? He had to do a Random Act Of Kindness and write about the experience.

One word: panic.

He had NO idea what he could do. I suggested that we head to the supermarket so he could help a ‘little old lady’ with her shopping. The idea terrified him.

I let him think about it overnight.

This morning he informed me that he had sorted it. Suspicious, I asked him what he’d done?

“I wrote ‘have a good day’ on a piece of paper and put it in one of your neighbours letter box.”

Seriously. So lame.

I have much work to do.