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The Unapologetic Geek

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12 Things I Learned in 2012 - Page 3

Has it been another year already? Damn, I'm getting old. Alright, I guess it's time to assess the last year and account for the things I've learned.

The Tablet Computer is an Essential Parenting Tool of the 21st Century

child with iPad
Coloring without the risk of crayon marks on the ceiling? Sign me up!

I can imagine a world in a few years where people shake their heads and say, "I would never let my kid be raised by the iPad 12. Why, when I was young, my parents wouldn't let me touch their PC--I had to make do with television--and I turned out just fine." In a perfect world, a parent could raise a child with full 24-hour attention, daily trips to the playground, museum, and park, and nothing but interaction and education. However, parents are human beings--not robots--and it is also essential that children spend some time alone in their own worlds. You shouldn't let your child watch television from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep, but you also shouldn't feel like a failure as a parent if, for the sake of your own sanity, you park your kid in front of the idiot box now and then.

However, my son, Tommy, has little patience for television. He would rather play with the iPad. (I would call it "my" iPad, but I'm not going to lie to you.) He has quickly mastered the thing, and gotten frighteningly good at Bad Piggies and disturbingly sadistic with Pocket God, not to mention his frequent visits to Netflix Instant Viewing to catch the occasional episode of Phineas and Ferb or Super Why. Sure, it's not as educational as one-on-one time with Daddy, but it's still teaching the kid valuable skills for the modern world (and helping to mold him into a future gamer so that his father can feel immense pride when Tommy finally beats him at Mario Kart). Besides, it's nice to have the occasional break to reassemble your broken parental mind. As such, I encourage all parents to put down the money for a decent tablet computer; it's well worth the investment.

I Miss Hockey

empty hockey rink
Just think of that zamboni driver's family!

It's amazing that the NHL still hasn't learned its lesson from the repeated strikes of the last decade, one of which cost them an entire season. In 2012, they had yet another labor dispute, leading to a lockout that was only resolved yesterday, meaning the 2012-2013 season has been cut so much that it might as well be refered to as just the 2013 season. I'm not a sports guy--I freely admit that--but early in 2012, I got a new HD TV and a new digital cable service and was able to watch almost all of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was awesome, and I was really looking forward to being able to watch plenty of hockey when the game resumed for the following season.

I don't know the ins and outs of the labor dispute that has kept that season from resuming, nor do I particularly care. As I see it, everybody loses, especially the fans, when the game is put on hold for this long. Think of all that lost revenue and good will, not just for each and every hockey game that would have been played, but for merchandising, advertising, the hopes of NBC Sports taking on ESPN, the way hockey was just on the cusp of being as mainstream as basketball, baseball, and football, and much more. I can think of no deal good enough for the players or owners that would even begin to make up for all that, which means that regardless of the outcome, everybody comes out of this lockout in a worse place than when they went into it. But most of all, I just miss the game and can't wait for it to come back.

Kids are the Ultimate Test of Your Immune System

There are more viruses and bacteria on that toy than there are in the entire CDC database

Once you send your child off to interact with other children, at daycare or pre-school or toddler gymnastics or whatever, your child will suddenly be exposed to a wide variety of exotic germs. I know I rolled my eyes at parents going crazy with the hand sanitizer in 2011, but last year, I had a greater appreciation for it. Perhaps the parents weren't trying to spare the children so much as they were trying to spare themselves.

You see, your child's budding immune system is incredibly powerful and adaptive, but he or she will still get sick pretty regularly once exposed to the snot, spit, and other bodily fluids of other kids. Thankfully, he or she will not stay sick long, because a child's capacity for bouncing back is astonishing, almost miraculous. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of a parent. I swear I spent more time sick in 2012 than I did healthy. I got sick every single time Tommy came home with a new disease, and while he was only symptomatic for a day or two, I was usually laid up for a week. Case in point: I'm sick right now, as I write this, and Tommy's running around the coffee table with no pants on, squealing happily.

Twitter Isn't for Me

My point

I've tried. I've really, really tried. It came to my attention in 2012 that having a Twitter account and regularly posting tweets is a good tool for building an online presence and a platform upon which to build publicity. Therefore, I have started my own Twitter feed and have begun following other people. I have learned two things in the process: (1) all my idols are jerks and morons; and (2) I am not pithy.

At its absolute best, Twitter can be a repository of funny one-liners and inspiration, but most of the time, it's just a repository for random mental flotsam, angry politics, unfunny one-liners, shameless self-promotion, and stupid insults. I'm okay with the shameless self-promotion--as that is what I'm trying to use Twitter for (and it's not like the people who follow you aren't asking for it)--but the rest of it is just aggravating and asinine. Seriously, for every minute I spend on Twitter, I feel a point in my IQ drop and my cynicism rise. I will try to keep at it, but really, Twitter is a terrible, terrible place. So, hey, if you're not doing anything, follow me at @e_magill!

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-e. magill 1/8/2013

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