Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

Tom has taken to walking out of rooms backwards. He'll be standing there, watching Joanne and I in the kitchen, and it will occur to him that he should be in the next room. "Bye bye!" he'll say, and completely fail to turn around before leaving. Every once in a while, he'll keep offering "Bye byes!" as he heads out. I mean, he's still facing us, so why not?

I am constantly astonished at how often he tries something new, just to see what it feels like, just to gain a different perspective on this world thing we've got going. The boy's got no inertia, no reason not to experiment. Life is a block box to him, to be toyed with and poked at until it does something interesting. Why not walk out of a room backwards? Why not run in circles until you fall down? Why not touch this or jump on that or scream for no reason or just babble to yourself, to see what sounds you can make? Why not do something new every day? Why not?

For the life of me, I can't think of a reason.

And so, thank you. Thank for visiting and for writing and for linking. Thank you for making this not-a-weblog an enormous amount of fun to do. I never would have dreamt that I could have enjoyed it as much as I have.

But a year is a long time, and I can't help but think that I should be doing something new. I don't know what it is yet, but it should be something new.

I hear walking out of the room backwards is a good place to start.

It's about nine thirty in the morning and I'm foraging through the fridge at work, pulling out little cardboard boxes from yesterday's lunch. I spoon some fried rice onto the slippery shrimp and drop a wad of cashew chicken on top. I mash the whole mess together, poke some chopsticks in and turn around to find a female co-worker standing behind me with a sort of Dian Fossey-ish look on her face.

"You're not going to eat that, are you?"

"Um... Yeah."

"Cold?"

"Yeah."

"Now?"

"Yeah."

A shudder runs through her body.

"Who in the world has Chinese food for breakfast?"

"The Chinese?"

She doesn't know what to say to that.

"Plus," I add, "I'm going to have scrambled eggs for dinner."

When I walk in the front door, Joanne, my loving wife, rushes to greet me after a hard day at work.

"Here," she says, handing Mikey to me. "Just in time."

Mike looks up at me and blows bubbles with his spit. He stinks to high heaven. The boy needs a change.

So I head upstairs and lay him out on the changing table and unbutton his pants and yank off his diaper and suddenly can't stop laughing.

"What?" Joanne yells from the bottom of the stairs. "What's funny?"

"I just remembered," I say. "Mike had raisin bread for breakfast."

There's a pause.

"Ew," she says. And then: "Dinner is going to be about half-an-hour late while I try to get that image out of my head."

Finally crossed off my to-do list:

Get new Day Planner pages for 2001

The greeting card industry has apparently latched onto the belief that the American male is totally emotionally inert. I spent half an hour looking through Mother's Day cards for Joanne, desperately trying to find one that didn't apologize for not saying "I love you" enough. "The words don't always come easy..." "I know I don't tell you this enough..." "Sweetheart, I should say it more often..."

I mean, come on.

Now, if there were cards that apologized for not buying them until the last second, that would be a different story...

Tom has entered a demonstrative phase and will happily point out the blindingly obvious to anybody who happens to be standing around. Chairs, windows, his brother -- if it's sitting there, it will get attention. This is especially amusing when I'm giving him a bath.

"Daddy!"

"That's your belly-button, Tom. It's where the umbilical cord attached when you were in Mommy's womb."

"Daddy!"

"That's your penis, Tom. It will, um, play a more significant role later on."

"Daddy!"

"That's your nipple, Tom. It's... I... I have no idea what it's for."

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I walked outside to get something from the van this morning, and across the street was a neighbor, out for a walk with his toddler. I smiled and waved and noticed that they were dressed the same, his boy and him -- they were wearing shorts and t-shirts and both had baseball caps on.

And I thought about how we influence our children, how they're tiny mirrors of everything we are, conciously or not. How we dress them and teach them and show them the world will influence how they live the rest of their lives.

And I turned around to head back inside and Tom was standing in the doorway, wearing a ski cap, waving my lightsaber TV clicker and without his pants.

Which pretty much confirmed my theory.

Closet Spelunking: First in a Series

In college, I put out a pamphlet of short stories called the Erratically. This story -- in all its awkward, clunky glory -- is from Volume III, Number 5, published on March 19, 1990.

Good Lord, I could have used an editor. And a better ear for dialogue. And a disinclination to use the word "cowed." And a thesaurus. And a clue about what living with a non-dorm roommate would be like. And...

The Grief of Brand Kintella

Brad Kintella was about to be unhappy, and he was about to be unhappy with his roommate.

He had just returned from work, tired and glad to be home. He was looking forward to dinner -- which Bob, his roommate, always had ready by six -- and going to bed early. He closed the apartment door behind him and shouted hello.

"Hi," Bob said from the kitchen.

Brad trudged down the hall and into the kitchen. Pork chops were laid out on the table, and a salad was set at both places at the table.

"Hey, Bob," he said. "This looks great! What's the occasion?"

"Nothing special. I just felt like cooking. Took a bit of doing, but everything turned out pretty well."

"I'll say," Brad said as he sat down at his place. "Could you pass the Italian?"

"Yeah, sure. Here."

Brad shook the bottle vigorously and opened it. He poured some dressing over his salad and speared several leaves of lettuce and a slice of radish with his fork. He raise the fork to his mouth and was about to eat when he stopped and blinked.

He blinked again, focusing on the radish on his fork. He drew in a sudden breath and his eyes slowly wandered from the fork, across the table and to a small jar of water on the kitchen counter, behind the sink, next to the window.

The jar was empty.

Brad dropped his fork and screamed.

He leapt from his chair, reached across the small table and grabbed Bob by his shirt. "Where," he hissed, "is Fred?"

Bob stammered. "Fred? Who the hell is Fred? What's wrong?"

Brad dropped Bob back into his chair and staggered to the sink, his hands tearing at his hair. "Fred... Oh, God, Fred." He was mumbling, near tears.

"You mean the radish?" Bob asked, disbelief crawling all over his face.

"Yes, of course I mean the radish!" Bob screamed. "What else would I mean?"

Bob had risen and was warily approaching Brad. "You named a radish Fred?"

Brad was hunched over the sink, his hands wrapped around the jar. The fading sunlight filtered through the slightly murky water and tears began to stream down his face. His body shook with grief.

"You named a radish Fred?" Bob repeated. He touched Brad gently on the shoulder.

Brad whirled, clutching the jar to his chest, spilling water on his shirt and the floor. "Don't touch me!" he shouted. "You killed Fred!"

"Killed Fred?" Bob said, hopelessly confused. "God, I didn't know you cared about the stupid radish!"

"Fred was my brother!" Brad wailed. "I swore to my mother the day she died that I would protect him! Oh, God, Fred... Fred..."

Bob's arms dropped to his sides and then slowly rose to his hips, where they planted themselves in indignation and irritation. His brow knit. "Brad, you're insane. 'Fred' was a radish, for Christ's sake! A vegetable! It belonged to an entirely different physical kingdom than you. It could not have been your brother. You are completely mad. It was a radish. Nothing more. Salad fodder! Now stop acting silly and eat your damned dinner!" He pointed to the table.

Brad had collapsed into quiet sobs during Bob's tirade and, sufficiently cowed, he returned to his seat and sat down, still clutching the jar of water.

Bob stomped across the room and sat down hard in his seat. He stared angrily at Brad, finally raising a plate at him and saying, "Potato?"

Brand dropped the jar and it shattered on the linoleum floor.

"Gretta!" he screamed.

I wrote a letter once -- or, rather, nodded enthusiastically when my mom offered to write a letter -- when they took my favorite show off the air.

Of course, the show was Emergency! and I was nine years old.

Addressing the Symptoms: First in a Series

We were missing our favorite TV programs, so we got a TiVo.

The TiVo was filling up, so I added another hard drive.

We now have over 25 hours of TV to catch up on.

"Well, at least now things can't get any worse" is the most dangerous sentence in the English language.

Because Life loves a challenge.

Joanne asks, "Has Tom eaten breakfast?"

"Yeah."

"What did you give him?"

"Let's see. Cheese."

"Good."

"And some bread."

"Good."

"And sausage."

"Where did you get sausage?"

"And some pineapple."

There's a pause.

"You gave him cold pizza, didn't you?"

I got a call at 5:30 this morning, from New York. Our sales guys had noticed that the Data Center wasn't responding to requests, was down, was costing us untold thousands of dollars an hour.

Bad thing.

So I leapt up, threw on whatever clothes happened to by scattered around the bed -- most of them were mine, thankfully -- and raced off to work, without showering, without shaving, without even brushing my teeth.

Twenty minutes later, I careened into the computer room, and started banging away on the problem. I got the system running, but did a lot of clean up, too, and by the time I emerged a couple of hours later, the office was crowded with people. I wandered out of the computer room, dressed in yesterday's clothes, my hair pointed at odd angles, a little drool tried on my chin, still unshowered, unshaven, unbrushed.

And nobody seemed to notice.

> su

Password: ********

su: incorrect password

Darn.

> su

Password: ********

su: incorrect password

Shoot.

> su

Password: ********

su: incorrect password

Dammit!

> su

Password: ********

su: incorrect password

Aaaargh!

If you're too tired to type the password right, you shouldn't be on as root anyway.

The World and the Way It Should Be: First in a Series

People should be assigned a certain amount of work when they're born, and no more. If you finish early -- like, say, in your fifties -- you're excused and get to go outside and play.

This Means Something: First in a Series

In the mall near where I work, the Store of Knowledge is having a going-out-of-business sale.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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