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Death and Pinwheel Cookies

I woke up early this morning to the information that I no longer have any living grandparents.

I am bad at death.

I don't know what it means, so don't know what to do with it.

Currently it lies in a pile with assorted other holidays and life events.

Like Valentines' Day it seems to be layered in unspoken social requirements of many sorts. Cards, dressing up, saying things you normally don't say during the year.

I don't like these types of events. All my moves seem forced, empty.

But of course death is something different from Secretary's Day.

My next attempt to categorize it was lumping it in with other primal forces of life, like the Sun. An omnipresent sink that cannot be directly examined. A force that life cannot exist without.

Grandparents and dogs in my life have served very similar roles. They both taught me about the joy of being loved unconditionally and are our first lessons about the pain of something you love having its existence end abruptly and forever.

So reading what I just wrote, I should act as if a Black Hole Sun ate my dog during July 4th.

Again, I'm really not good at death.

Programing Women

This story about how a promising young high school student got turned away from programming breaks my heart.

It also provided a third data point that crystalized, for me, how real this issue is.

My wife actually took a computer programming class in college, and afterwards she ran far, far away. The other boys in the class were what we'd call "creepers" and she began receving anonymous emails professing love for her.

At a party in college I ran into a student who I found out was in my exact same year and was also a computer science major. I asked her why I hadn't seen her in the primary computer lab (where I worked). She replied that she didn't go there anymore because she always got hit on.

What wounds me so much about this is that I know in my heart that at these same points in my life I may "be that guy".

Had there been a girl in my computer science class in high school whom I liked, I may have teased her because I didn't know how else to interact with her. Mild teasing is an obvious and acceptable way to intereact with a girl, and obnoxious, and when all the akward boys adopt it you have an uncomfortable situation.

Had a female student in a small class had asked my help on debugging her program, I very well may have interpretted it as an invitation to be infatuated and weird with her.

The mother blames the teacher, whereas I tend to blame the boys, because I very well could have been any one of these annoying boys.

So what is the solution to all this? How do you make akward boys stop acting akward around girls?

A co-worker was talking about how his 5th grade daughter was going to start sex ed today, and we all had a good laugh about that, but it got me to thinking, what if Sex Ed was useful for something other than trying to force boys to say "Penis" without laughing?"

I'm ashamed to admit that for much of my youth I assumed girls only existed to walk around, titter at me and be generally unattainable.

There is a reason marriage contracts used to be identical to property transfers, it is because testosterone biases men to look at woman not as a person but as a thing to have.

I'd love to see "Gender Education" at the various levels that doesn't separate girls and boys out to learn the secret lore of their genitalia, but actually have them in the same room and discuss what they think the other gender thinks. Have them discover that each and everyone of them is a complex, fearful and fragile being.

To learn that undue attention can be annoying and stressful.

Will it solve the problem of akward boys driving women out of IT? Probably not, but I think there are large chunks of inflicted pain that might could be averted by even a marginal increase in the ability for young men and woman to communicate and talk about gender.

But teaching about wet dreams is super useful too I guess.

PAX Notes

Got to see Patrick Rothfuss talk at PAX this year. He told this story.

Got to try an Oculus Rift twice at PAX. After I was done the second time I noticed that the guy next to me was staring straight down at his chest, and when I looked at the monitor I saw that he was admiring his virtual elven cleavage.

Favorite game at PAX was one I nearly walked right past. Galak-Z.

I only stopped at the booth to buy a $5 copy of their other game "Skulls of the Shogun", but while waiting for change they asked if I wanted to play the game, and I'm glad I did.

Just looking at the play it looks like a standard shoot-em up that I would have continued walking from.

But playing it, it is using Battlestar Galactica style real-physics space combat. It takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it is a lot of fun, but it isn't just the mechanics I love. The whole game is wrapped up in this sort of Robotec/Voltron type story presentation that I find calmly soothing and exciting, like watching Sunday morning cartoons in your PJs.

Microsoft went big at PAX, presumably because a bunch of PR consultants told them they are running behind. So they decided to make up for that by having a loud, expensive booth right in the middle of the PAX line room with big promotions for Doritos and Mt. Dew. The booth, oddly, had none of those items within. They had some scavenger hunt type game to hand out loot that I didn't bother with, mainly because, I don't really want an Xbox One, don't drink Mt Dew, and really just find the whole thing base and offensive.