A new job, a debut ranking, and a scurvy dog of a son

IMG_3385Things have been quiet here lately due to a tryout I’ve been doing with the Boston Globe to write the paper’s “Brainiac” ideas blog. For the last two weeks I’ve been contributing posts over there on everything from a 90-year-old mathematician who has toiled at a proof for 50 years, to a pair of headphones that makes you sit still while you listen, to the use of unarmed drones to fight rhino poachers.

I’ve enjoyed the writing and on Friday I was offered the job!  I’ll be contributing twice daily posts to the Brainiac blog, with the best of those posts running as a column in the Sunday Ideas section. Currently I’m stuffing my RSS reader with websites to mine for story ideas, and I’ll repeat here a call I expect to be making nonstop in the coming weeks: Please send me names of any blogs or websites you enjoy (anything trafficking in news, ideas, interesting stories, in the arts, sciences, humanities) and keep me in mind next time you come across a good story (or are a part of one!).

Getting the Brainiac job made for a great weekend and then this morning, more good news: Growing Sideways has debuted on Babble’s annual list of the Top-50 Dad Blogs. We come in at #49 which I actually think is ideal: lots of room to move up, plus motivation to write well and not get dropped from the list next year.  And I really like their description of the blog: “On his Growing Sideways blog, the freelance writer, who lives with his wife and two young sons in Ann Arbor, Michigan, excels at taking a typical moment from family life and coaxing many possible meanings from it, chewing it over and viewing it from different perspectives.”

I don’t expect the Brainiac job to get in the way of posting on Growing Sideways, especially once I get my feet under me.  And in that spirit, a few words about Jay.

He has been obsessed with pirates going back at least a month. It stems from a video rented from the library and watched nearly daily (until we traced that video to Jay’s newfound fear of the dark and swapped it out for more Blues Clues).

The first thing Jay learned about pirates is that they’re bad.  For a week straight in mid-November he asked me, over and over again, usually while I was trying to get his toothbrush into his mouth, “What else is mean about pirates?” I always answered with things like, “Pirates don’t brush their teeth” and “Pirates aren’t very nice to their brothers” and “Pirates never say please.”

Of course, that backfired when two weeks later Jay announced, “I am a pirate.”  I’ve tried to walk back some of the things I’ve told him- “Actually, pirates love putting their pajamas on”- but he’s not having it. The best we’ve been able to do is form a pirate family that includes Jay, Wally, and Caroline.  Among this group of pirate kin, Caroline has managed to convince Jay that traits like loyalty and following directions are important.

I, however, have been cast alternately as “the police,” “a bandit,” or part of “another pirate family” which means I get challenged with a wooden-block-cum-sword and chased away every time I try to approach the playroom.  All told, I don’t mind it so much.

11 thoughts on “A new job, a debut ranking, and a scurvy dog of a son

  1. First of all, as you know, I am THRILLED for you about the Brainiac job. Woohoo! Congratulations!

    Second of all, another WOOHOO on the Babble listing! That’s awesome!!

    And finally, have you and Jay read the book “Tough Boris” by Mem Fox? It’s a really wonderful picture book (gorgeous watercolor illustrations, with simple text) about a tough pirate, with a fantastic subplot (told entirely through the pictures) that shows an unexpected tenderness. I would HIGHLY recommend it.

  2. Yes! A very large congrats to the Boston Globe for recognizing talent.
    I found myself laughing out loud as I read how adroitly Jay out foxed you by declaring himself “a pirate”. ARRRRRRRRG, Matey, a fine pirate he’d be too. Should he ever find himself asail in the azure waters of the Pacific let him know me mates and I’d be happy to have him join us for a bit o’fun sailing the Santa Barbara channel. Until then keep your cutlass sharp and your eye out for them federalies.
    A very Merrrrry Christmas to you all! <(;-}

  3. Hey, congratulations on the new job! I just hope you can keep up here because a lot of us count on your sideways words. And you can tell Jay that if he mutinies, you’ll sell him off to a pirate den in Singapore (which he can see as a filthy bathtub ruled by Chow Yun Fat in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) and we’ll take him.

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