RW209 - Every Scroungers Dream

This week, Dan and John talk about

The show title refers to John’s friend buying a junk house to renovate and finding a coin collection that was worth as much as they had paid for the house.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

The climate in Austin, scorpions and tarantulas (RW209)

It is finally a little bit warmer today in Austin, maybe 62 degrees and beautiful sunny. It was going into the 30s at night, which no-one there likes. The southern climate has its advantages at this time of year because they are not going to get any problems, but it is 110 degrees in the summer and there are scorpions, John keeps forgetting that. The last summer wasn't horrible and this winter hasn't been bad, but the potential is there always for it to get completely unreasonable.

It would be really cool if there was a site that would show you the scorpion index, but Dan doesn’t want to jinx anything and has only seen one in the almost ten years that he has been there, and he has seen 3-4 tarantulas, which is not a thing that he wants to see. He would rather see a scorpion than a tarantula.

The story of Dan finding tarantulas is very popular with John’s family. One member of his family is a pretty serious arachnophobic. Nobody likes spiders except John, and whenever he regales them with stories of Dan chasing tarantulas out of his garage, he says it off hand, but it clearly made a real impression because it comes up all the time. Dan hasn’t seen one in a long time. There is something very unnerving about it. He knows that they are harmless and he never heard of anyone being bitten by one, you would have to really want to be bitten by one, like you would have to handle it and anger it even then they might not bite. The idea that there is something that looks like that and moves like that can easily enter your house is not good.

They live in the hill country and they live in the woods, in the trees and things like that, and apparently Dan lives in the middle of their migration area and at certain times a year you see them walking across the street out in front of the house on their way, wherever it is that they go, and Dan doesn’t care for that. He doesn’t want to do harm to them, he just does not want to see them ever again.

John has a lot of spiders up there. In the autumn they all go and lay their egg pods and John was looking around the eaves of his house and was thinking he had to come out with the broom and get these egg pods down. It is not going to change the fact there are spiders everywhere for a certain month of the year, but it is going to change the number of spiders that are actively on his house. They have every kind of spider except for the big hairy ones that Dan has. The biggest ones, their whole body and legs is about the size of a half dollar, but the middle bit of the spider is fairly substantial. The proportions aren't like daddy long legs, but the proportions are a big body and then pretty thick legs, not spindly legs, but solid.

Currency, mint sets, half dollars (RW209)

Anyone under the age of 40 probably has no idea what a half dollar looks like. When was the last time someone gave you a half dollar in change? Dan has run into one dollar coins with the Native American on it, the Sacagawea Dollar, and a lot of them are in circulation in Texas for some reason, but a half dollar or a silver dollar? Dan hasn’t seen those in forever! When he was a kid his granddad would get a little sealed plastic container that would have that year’s penny, dime, nickel, quarter, half dollar, and a silver dollar for that year, and there was one from the year Dan was born and at least the first 10 years of his life he would get one every year. That was always really cool! The idea of using a half dollar as valid currency, walking into a store and saying: ”I take a pack of gum!”and handing them a half dollar and getting change back!

John imagines there are just enough $2 bills in circulation that every American who has ever used cash, because there are people listening to the show who very infrequently use cash, has encountered at least one $2 bill in the wild, there are just enough of them out there. There are a lot of listeners in overseas territories who have their own quirky currencies. John never fully understood how the British denominations actually work, he doesn't understand the pound at all because he doesn’t know what a pence is relative to a shilling, it is all very confusing. Dan says that a pence, a shilling, a loonie, are all the same thing.

Dan’s grandfather was getting mint sets, and then there are proof sets, which are those same coins but with a very interesting reflective finish. Proof Sets are more what Dan is describing, this is the kind of thing that his granddad would get him. They were great. He loves these things! You could still get them, but they don't make silver dollars anymore. Kennedy is on the half dollar. When those were in circulation John would get a Benjamin Franklin half dollar every once in a while. They used to go through their coins to pick out the silver ones and at one point John had a huge bank, a giant glass bottle full of pre-1964 American coinage because 1964 was the cut off. Before that American silver coins were made of silver, and after 1964 they started to be an alloy. You would find those silver coins in your change all the time and after about 1980 the silver coins were worth a bundle, their meltdown cost, but then someone broke into their house and stole all of John’s silver coins.

John has a coin collection that will fit in a briefcase, very few of them are coins of any numismatic value, but he loved coins and precious metals when he was a teenager and he would go to the coin shop, he couldn't buy anything that was interesting, but they had Morgan Silver dollars and stuff that you could buy and John bought a bunch of them. None of John’s coins are valuable as coins, but they are just valuable as metal, but then it went through some process and now they are just valuable as sentimental items. Either one day John will get rid of them and sell them or his daughter inherits a bunch of coins that aren't worth very much money, which is something he is trying to avoid.

John heard a story about someone he knows who bought a junk house and cleaned it out, found a coin collection in it that was basically worth what they paid for the house. That type of thing is every scroungers dream, but John had never had a No Country For Old Men moment where he found a briefcase full of money or a truck full of drugs.

Comic books (RW209)

Dan had so many comic books. He started collecting those when he was 10-11 years old and he really got into that. He would read them, put them in a bag, board them, keep them in long boxes, then the long boxes were filling up underneath the bed and then they were stacked up in the closet. Dan kept them for a long time, he had purged them and then started over again maybe 10-15 years ago recollecting them and he purged them all again maybe 5-6 years ago. Now Dan might have a half dozen comic books.

He was asking himself what he was saving them for, but when he went to get rid of them and sell them, there were some that had really gained in value. The most valuable one that he ever sold was the first appearance of Usagi Yojimbo, a samurai rabbit, drawn by a Stan Sakai who is really cool. It was in a weird comic called Albedo Anthropomorphics #2, which at the time it came out was not collected at all and no one knew that one day Usagi Yojimbo would be a celebrated samurai rabbit hero going for decades and there were very few of these ever even printed and there were even fewer in good condition and even fewer CGC rated in the case and everything.

Dan had bought it in an online auction, he held on to it for 5-6 years and sold it for $3000 or something like that. When he bought it he paid $1000 for it and everybody thought he was crazy, but four years later he tripled the money that he invested in it. He never actually physically touched it because it was sealed in case, but that was Dan’s thing. Dan could see John more as a baseball card person than a comic book person.

John never being interested in sports (RW209)

John never owned a baseball card. When he was growing up little boys definitely fell into pretty rigid silos and categories: The superhero little boys, long before there was even the Superman movie in the 1970s, all they had were Spider-Man Comics and The Silver Surfer. The 1960s and early 1970s was a period of high comic book and John was not one of the little boys that really loved Batman and superhero comics, he did not identify with those comics at all and did not really even enjoy reading them. He didn't like the art, something about him didn't like the suggestion of superheroes.

Then there were sports little boys where in most cases their fathers loved sports and from a very young age they were raised to love sports. When John was a 2nd or 3rd grader he knew little boys who knew all these sports statistics and were really into the baseball players on different teams and John just had no comprehension of what they were talking about and no interest in what they were talking about. This was a cult of your family, you couldn't possibly have found this on your own. This is something your dad has.

In a desire to have their kids be cool or know the cool things, some parents are interested in things enough that they know that this is the cool stuff and this is not cool stuff, from the time their kids were very little, they decided these are the shows you got to watch and the bands you got to like, and those kids grow up and love Led Zeppelin, but it feels like your parents are dressing you in a sailor suit.

John has a couple of friends whose teenage kids are really cool, way cooler than John ever was, including now. They are 16 years old and they have impeccable taste in fashion and music, but it also feels like they are paper dolls that were dressed up by their folks until they had it nailed and who knows what is going to happen when they get to be 22. Are they in the cool from now on and they are going to be cool forever? Once you prime the motor of cool, does that motor then run on its own and they will discover what is cool in their world? Maybe listening to Led Zeppelin, having long hair, and wearing pukka shell necklaces and the bell bottoms isn't cool with their friends, but these days everything can be cool if you just own it.

John’s dad was a sports person, but he was not a stats guy. He loved sports, he wanted to watch sports, he wanted to play sports, but he did not get into the math of sports. He didn't wear sports outfits. The idea that you would wear a jersey not only did it not get imparted to John, but the idea never entered their home. If someone with a sports jersey came to the threshold of their house, they did not bring that idea in the house with them when they came. Many years later John realized that adults were wearing sports jerseys and that became a real thing and John was always astonished by it: Why are you dressed like a little boy? You could also be wearing a postal service uniform. That is a uniform, you are dressed like an Army man!

Dan is 100% on board with that. There are two scenarios where you could wear something like an actual jersey: If you are going to a game, or if you are at home that definitely and you are watching a playoff game or Super Bowl and your team is involved, wearing a jersey in that scenario is okay because maybe you wish you could be at the actual game and can't be, but you are trying to pump things up a little bit, that is a perfectly acceptable and appropriate place to wear Jersey. But wearing a jersey as attire when you need to grab a few things at the store and you slip that jersey on, that is where Dan has the disconnect.

John does not understand Basketball shorts, not even when actually playing basketball, because they are so weird. They are made out of a material that he doesn’t ever want to touch, that weird silky material that is pre-sweaty and smells like antiperspirant before you even take it out of the bag. Dan goes further and says that he doesn’t play basketball because he would have to wear the shorts if he did. John believes that you can play basketball and wear the shorts that they wore in the 1970s, the little shorts with the little pinstripes down the side.

John’s dad loved the locker room, it was where he really felt at home. He grew up with sports as the primary way he interacted with other kids, adults, and the universe. He played all sports in high school, he was a successful basketball player, but he played football and to a lesser extent baseball. He taught his little brother, John’s uncle, how to play football and John’s uncle played football for Yale and was an all-American.

John’s dad was also on the Washington crew and he was on the next crew after the Washington crew that went to the Olympics and beat Hitler. In the 1930s the crew team from the University of Washington was the biggest sports franchise that anyone could ever imagine. When the crew team raced on Lake Washington, tens of thousands of people lined up along the shore to watch. They fought Berkeley and Stanford and made their way back East where no one in Boston had ever heard of the state of Washington, but they beat Harvard and Yale and Columbia.

At the time the winner of the college championship went to the Olympics and the crew team went to the Olympics and beat the German crew, which was the world's greatest crew, a Nazi crew, and they were national heroes. John’s dad was a teenager and there was nothing that he cared about more than going down to watch the crew and when he got to college he joined the crew and was in the next generation, which was also a winning crew, just it wasn't an Olympic crew, partly because World War II came.

He loved the locker room and any time he could go to the gym, go to the sauna, go out and play basketball, or go workout, go swim, go do whatever it was that you could do at the gym, he felt at home in a way that John never felt at home in the locker room or in the gym or in the pool or the tennis court or the handball court. Growing up they went to the tennis club and you would walk along the balcony and look down.

A lot of tennis clubs are set up this way: On one side you got the big open courts and on the other side you look down into the handball courts and that whole trading places vibe of lawyers who had come at lunch hour and they suited up and they had eye-protecting glasses like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, they get in there and play racquetball or whatever and just really go all the way at it, just sweat pouring down, playing this thing and then they would go shower off and put their suits back on and go do some more lawyering in the afternoon. John felt so fish out of water in those environments.

If you were a young female lawyer at the time, tennis and racquetball were ways that you could be physical and prove your mettle, compete against the boys because unless you are at a very high level men and women can hold their own on a tennis court. That was also where all the lady lawyers were, kicking ass and playing sports. John’s dad's sister Aunt Julia Lee was tennis from head to toe. They lived in a succession of houses and they were rich people who always had big houses, and everywhere you would find a tennis ball, any drawer you opened, any closet, any time you turned a corner, there would just be a can of tennis balls.

It was back when tennis ball cans were like Pringles cans and you actually had to pop them open. They weren't plastic bottles, but they were they were Coke cans, basically. John played tennis growing up, but he never thrived there. Maybe it was a lack of a sense of competition, a feeling that those are weirdly intimate environments. A locker room is a very intimate place, a jocular place, a way of communing with other people that John just never felt. He played plenty of racquetball, but it is not a thing that he would do during his precious lunch hour from his law firm where he would have a chance to get some quiet meal and read a little bit. Why would he race over to the tennis club to play freaking racquetball?

John never clicked with any of that and his dad didn’t understand it. It was one of the major gulfs between them because they were very close otherwise, but his dad never understood why he didn't embrace not just athleticism, because John was a ski racer and a smooth mover, a good dancer, but that kind of athleticism, the team sport, the rugged square-shouldered jock stuff, it was never for John. Now he lives in a world where that never comes up. He goes to baseball games with his friends, some of them are jockie, he has a couple of friends that can throw an actual fast ball and they go to baseball games.

Jason Finn used to score the games. They would go to baseball games and he would sit and score them, write down the stats as they are happening as a way of enjoying himself. John likes to play Sudoku as much as the next guy, but sitting and watching this game and writing down what happens? Weird!

Nowadays John never has to confront it. He never has to go to the gym, he never has to shower in public, he never has to even address the idea of being in a sports context, but when he was growing up he had to do it all the time. Every day there was going to be some occurrence, some incident, where he was going to be in a sports context, standing there, waiting for it to be over.

During your childhood you don't realize that the world you are in isn't the whole world. It was one of the ways that made John feel alienated: the idea that this was the world and for the whole rest of his life he was going to be living in this same exact world where every day there would be some sports thing he would have to navigate. He doesn’t appreciate as much as he should that once he left childhood behind and could choose his own events and his own adventure he never had to go into a sports context at all unless he wanted to, and that has been wonderful.

Dan not being an athletic guy (RW209)

Dan was competent at basic sports stuff, he knew how to swing a bat, he was never a good hitter, he could catch a ball, but he was never good, he could get by, and then there were some sports he was just absolutely horrible at, such as football and basketball, but growing up in Philly, street hockey was fun and he was all right at soccer because he was so close to the ground anyway, and stickball. You could argue that maybe he is athletic now, but not athletic in a sports concept. He knew kids that you could just throw any ball and they could catch it, they could throw it back to you. They could run, they could dodge, they could do all the stuff, and Dan never like that ever.

Dan really enjoyed watching certain sports, mainly the ones that his grandfather was into, which primarily was NFL, MLB and golf. He did not get into golf until he was in college, he couldn't even stand watching it or anything about golf, but during all the holiday times whenever they would come over there, his grandfather would always sneak into his den and try to watch the game that was on, which became the inspiration for Dan, but he never got into the whole stats thing, although as an observer he was always trying to learn how the game worked.

With basketball it seems pretty basic: Ball in the hoop. Done. But with football there are so many little things and so many penalties and so much stopping and Dan never understood that when he was little until his grandfather would explain it to him. For people who are casual observers of a game like football it seems very disjointed, it seems like there is constantly interruptions and breaks and commercial breaks and replays of downs and why are they doing that? This isn't fun at all!

But if you look at the entire game almost the way you would observe a chess match or a battle, like: ”We are going to move these people here and have them do this thing and that won't work and we know it is not going to work, but that is okay because it is going to just throw off the momentum of the other team and that will disrupt them and the next time we get possession we will do this other thing that will work.” You have to think of it like that, as a strategy with little moves here and little things there that add up to the end result of: ”We won the game!” It is a very different approach.

Football is one of the only games that he knows of that really works that way. There is an aspect of that in baseball, working the way that a pitcher will work the hitters and things like that. It took Dan a long time to get to the point where he really understood what was going on and the subtleties and the nuances., which is what makes football really interesting. Dan’s grandfather and the other people used to really dislike the commentators and the constant calling of the plays, they didn't need, but Dan needed it to understand half of what was going on when he was learning, but once he had been watching long enough he didn’t need to listen to these guys anymore because they would take away from what was happening on the game.

Skiing (RW209)

In the very early 1970s John’s family moved to Alaska. His dad wanted to start a new life after his mother died and get out of Seattle where he had lived until he was 50. His brother was in Alaska and had been up there for almost 20 years by that point. Up there was a tennis club and John’s dad loved playing tennis, but he used to play basketball at the YMCA and then he had a heart attack in 1974 while playing basketball, which was a major event in all of their lives. He was 54 years old and was out there hustling in a pickup game that he played every day, as far as John could tell. He would get off work and suit up and go street fight with these much younger dudes at the Y.

John was there in the stands in his little furry-hooded winter jacket, watching his dad run up and down the court, the sound of the shoes squeaking on the floor, they shouted at each other during the game and the echoing, John remembers it vividly, but then all of a sudden he was on the ground. After that he couldn't play basketball anymore and he switched to skiing, which was obviously a big sport in Alaska and in the choice between cross-country skiing, which is a thing for very lean athletic Nordic thinkers, and downhill skiing, which is expensive, involves a lot of equipment and travel and is very involved and is very fast, of course he picked downhill skiing as the thing and in the mid-1970s he pivoted to skiing as this new thing

In the 1970s their ski resort, Mount Alyeska, was a pretty shabby little built in the 60s local yokel ski resort that had a main lodge and a hotel built in a Bavarian style. The main lodge had a giant mid-century Bavarian restaurant bar called the Sitzmark Lounge and the hotel was just a two story Bavarian motel on the edge of a ski resort. Attached to that building, the other wing of it was a pretty cool set of condos that were built in a jumbled Austrian style. There was a day lodge, which was also a mid-century high-roof, big wall of windows looking up at the mountain. There was another mid-century Bavarian looking four story tall condo building, and a bunch of log cabins.

It had 4 chair lifts, and it is a very rare ski resort in that the base is at sea level. Most of the great ski mountains in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming or Montana, the base of the mountain is already at 10.000 feet or 8000 feet, but at Mount Alaska you could just ski right down to the river and hop in a floaty and you will be in the ocean in a half an hour. From the mountain you can see the ocean, it is right there.

John’s dad wanted skiing to be the thing, and so skiing now was John’s thing. It is what he was going to do, so that is what they all were going to do. In 4th grade he took John to the hockey rink during tryouts and John put on some hockey skates and there was a coach there and there was a whole hockey rink full of other 4th-graders. John got pushed out onto the ice with his skates wobbling, he skated around the ice rink, he did not know how to stop, he didn't really know how to go, and all around him were other Alaskan 4th graders who had been put on hockey skates when they were one and a half, racing around John.

Ice skating is very big in Alaska and hockey players are certain kind of individual, they are bullies. At least in Alaska if you met a bully you could be sure he played hockey and if you met a hockey player there was a good chance he was a bully. John had good friends that were hockey players, it is not true of every hockey player, but the good friends that he had that were hockey players were good enough that they didn't get bullied. John was out on his wobbly skates, skating around this rink, and one after another kid skated past him and flicked his ear or said something like: ”You suck!” as they skated by.

John skated over to the coach and some kid skated by and said: ”Coach, do you remember when I was that bad?” and John stood there, not knowing why he was here. His dad was doing the thing that he did, which was: ”Well, maybe this is it, maybe this will be the thing that will get him to love sports or maybe maybe he will be a hockey player! This is what little boys do.” John just wanted out of there and the coach said he might need some hockey lessons or skating lessons before he tried out for a hockey team. Even the coach was unfriendly and John stepped off that hockey rink and he didn't put on hockey skates again.

When he did go ice skating he wanted male figure skates with a pointy bit at the front and everywhere he went with his figure skates he was resoundingly mocked by all the other boys. His friends used to get a 12 pack, put on their hockey skates, and play hockey with each other and drink beer, and John would go and sit in the stands and drink beer and watch them play hockey, but the prospect of getting out on the ice was a violent thing that he didn’t want any part of. Skiing was his thing and by the end he was a good skier and he is a good skier now.

It wasn't like he was grabbing his dad's jacket and saying: ”Please, please buy me skis! Please, I am desperate to want to be a skier!” it was just that skis were under the Christmas tree and the implication was: ”We are going skiing tomorrow, so get a good night's sleep!” John’s dad's narcissism was the kind that he wanted to do what he wanted to do and he presented it to you as something he was doing for you. ”What are you talking about? I got you these skis! This is something that I made a lot of sacrifices in order for you to have this opportunity!”, but already as a kid John knew that his dad wanted to go skiing and this didn’t have anything to do with John. He bought him skis because it was cheaper than giving him three rolls of quarters to play video games while he was up there, which he would have been just as happy to do. That was his trick all of his life: ”What are you talking about? I took you all the way here to this Rotary Club meeting.” - ”Yeah, it is a Rotary Club meeting! I don't want to be here!”

Dan’s relationship with his dad (RW209)

Dan had mostly a non-relationship with his dad. They have talked about that. Dan told John he hasn't talked to him since he was 18 and John was flabbergasted and couldn't believe it (see bonus content of RW161)

Growing up that was true, too. He wasn't really around that much because he was working, and when he was there they didn't hang out or do anything fun. Dan has modeled his parenting after that. He thinks about what his dad would have done or not done and he will do the opposite, the one exception being that he went to work and made a living. It is not a WWJD (”What would Jesus do?”) type situation, but occasionally he reflects back on that and he tries to be really involved with his kids, hang out with them, do fun things with them, and be available for them and not just be up in the attic doing Morse code not that that wasn't cool. Dan tries to involve his kids in the stuff that he is doing, if he is working on a project he tries and involve them in it or keep them in the loop.

There was never a time when Dan thought his dad was really cool and he wanted to be just like him. They never played or had fun, they never threw a ball around, and Dan got most of that later in life with his grandfather, with his short term stepdad, and at certain points with his uncle who lived in the same town. He didn't grow up having a consistent father figure, so that has been one of the things that he really tried to take to heart with his own kids, trying to give them that, trying to be always be there and always be consistent and always provide them with stability. It is because it was something that he didn't have, as opposed to something he did have to model after.

The way that Dan has learned to view the world and think about the world very much comes from his grandfather, who was a very bright scientist, a metallurgist who worked for the government doing anti-ballistics, he was doing the armor plating for tanks and that type of stuff. He won awards and he has patents and things like that. He applied his view as a scientist to the world.

A lot of the way that Dan thinks was influenced by the way that his grandfather thought, viewing the world as something that could be understood. There is mystery in the world and things that you can't understand, but practical day to day stuff, observe the scientific method, observing and coming up with a theory and testing it. He put that into practice and did that with the stock market, with a crossword puzzle, with deciding which car you should buy, all of that kind of stuff, and that was a very big influence on Dan, although he never became anything like a scientist and he doesn’t think software development is anything like being a scientist.

Dan is always surprised when people call themselves Software Engineers because his grandfather was very much a true scientist and his uncle is an electrical engineer and his cousin is an electrical engineer and Dan has been doing software for a long time and having grown up around people who were hard science engineer type people, he just doesn’t feel like the stuff he does is anything like what they do.

Dan didn't really have that much of a relationship with his dad in the conventional sense. They moved away when Dan was 10 and they were divorced when Dan was around 5, so seeing his dad on a daily basis was done before he even has solid memory. John does have memory from that time. They moved around a lot and he can remember things about all the places they lived before he was 5. Dan could tell you exactly what he was doing every day when he was 11 years old, for sure, but he couldn't tell you what he was doing when he was 4.

During a lot of that period John’s folks got divorced and he was suddenly being shuttled around caregivers, different sort of daycares, babysitters, and a lot of those were traumatic experiences. He does remember it pretty clearly, but only in fragments. He doesn’t remember what he had for breakfast. Surprisingly food is the one thing Dan has memories of when he was little. He remembers what oatmeal he would have for breakfast, a little instant pack of Quaker Oats oatmeal and cinnamon raisin a lot and the maple brown sugar one a lot. They would do one packet with a certain amount of water in it. He vividly remembers daily meals, family meals, the kind of peanut butter he liked and what the bread looked like, all the food he has ever eaten, but he couldn't tell you what his dad was like when he was 5.

Every morning at breakfast his dad would have a little cup of juice, he would have a tea bag and the tea would be sitting there steeping and when it was done steeping he would drink the orange juice in one gulp and the glass was a 1950s style little thin juice glass, and he would take the tea bag out, put it on the spoon, squeeze it, and then put the tea bag into the orange juice glass and then drink the tea.

When Dan was about 8 years old, Q*bert came out for the Atari, one of the worst ports ever made, but Dan wanted it for his birthday, it was going to be amazing. It was $36, which would be $115 now, and his dad told him that it was really expensive, but Dan argued his dad had promised he would get it for him and with great reluctance he got it. That game sucked and Dan sucked at it, but he had to play it all the time because his dad had bought it for him.

By the time that Dan and his mom had moved to Florida he was in his tweens and his grandfather became definitely the main male influence in his life. Not to say he was raised by him, his mom did the raising, but he was there and he was a stronger influence in Dan’s life. He was very far removed from Dan’s generation. Dan’s mom is 26 years older and his dad is 27 years older, but his grandfather of course was significantly older and there was something missing compared to a dad who is only one generation removed. Dan is 35 years older than his son and 39 years older than his daughter, while John’s mom was 34 and his dad was 47 when he was born.

John’s dad was definitely a generation older than John’s friend's parents, he could have been your dad's dad quite easily, and he would remind him all the time that he was so old, but from a jock standpoint, like: ”I can't keep up with you kids anymore!” The benefit of it was that his dad was shown a lot of respect and deference by other parents. When he dad was in a situation dealing with John’s friend's parents, they all deferred to him, which was always a little weird when John’s friend's parents would call John’s dad Dave. He didn't make them feel this way, he wanted them to call him Dave, but there was a feeling of presumptuousness, like: ”Oh, you are going to call my dad, Dave?”, even pretty accomplished people that had every right to call John’s dad Dave, but it still felt a little strange because he had a personal authority and at least back then you called people Mister when they had that kind of tone.

Being a father, deciding not to have kids (RW209)

Dan cannot imagine being a father who took no interest in their kids. It happens a lot. Maybe they didn't want kids. Dan didn't want kids, but now that they are here he is really happy about it. When it came time to talk about it he didn’t really want them, partly because he didn't have a good example and he was pretty sure he wouldn’t do a good job at it. Also he thought he wouldn’t be able to do all his own stuff, all the things that you think before you have a kid, and then the kids show up and you think: ”Wow, what the hell was I doing all this time before? This is what it is about! This is why we are here!”

John will never understand it because it affected his life and it affects so many people's lives, it affects the standard of what people expect from dads. Obviously there are plenty of moms that put both their kids in the car and drive into a lake, they are not all great moms, but just the kind of way that it used to be fine for dads to just fuck off. It is strange. It is gratifying to know that that is much less common now. A lot of John’s friends are creatives who live Rock’n’Roll lives and they reached their 40s and looked around and decided they weren't going to have kids.

Living in this world is very different from if John lived in a slightly more conventional world. If he were working at a business he would probably not have a ton of co-workers that didn't have kids. There are plenty of people having kids and there are worlds and worlds of people where every single person they know has a kid, maybe they have one friend or a gay sibling or something, but for the most part their whole social world is defined by all the people that have kids. Even though John had kids very late, he was 43 when his daughter was born, the lion's share of his friends in Seattle, the people he came up with, the people that he played music with do not have kids and maybe won't. Having kids in his social world makes him an outlier.

Weirdly, the other Rock musicians that have kids either have older kids because they had them when they were in their 20s and they were raising kids the whole time while they were all staying out all night, playing music, and when they were coming home at 3am wasted, they had kids at home. They are all good people, they didn't come up 3am wasted and smack everybody around, but they were living their best life and the burden of that fell on their wives a lot of the time. John doesn’t really socialize as parents with them. It wasn't a thing where they all had kids and then it was like: ”Ha ha, we are all Rock friends and now we are going to raise our kids together!”, but the idea of getting together with them before the pandemic? It didn't really happen! None of John’s friends bring their kids around and he doesn't bring his kid over there.

The other day John had a conversation with a really good Rock star friend who has been married a couple of times, and he was saying: ”Yeah, my wife and I are just deciding that we don't want to have kids!”, although John thought that he really wanted kids, and he did and he does, but it just feels like they got a nice thing going, they have a routine and they get to do what they want, she doesn't like the idea of having a child in her, it gives her anxiety, so they are just deciding that they are not going to have babies, which is heavy.

There are so many billions of people in the world for whom that calculation never… It would be the craziest thing for them to consider that you would make that decision based on those criteria, rather than for most people: ”Oh shit, we are having a baby!” That has to be true globally throughout time and to this present day: Most of the people in the world have a baby because at one point they go: ”Oh shit, we are having a baby!”, compared to the number of people that are like: ”Now we begin to have a baby!” In Dan’s case it was very much planned and researched. Many years after Dan was married he realized that one of the expectations about getting married is that you will have kids. That seems to be a thing that people who get married do, which was surprising.

Making lists (RW209)

Dan is not an obsessive list maker, it is nothing he does for fun, but he makes lists to remember things, if he has to remember to do these 30 things, but after he knocks 3-4 things off of it he will typically never look at the list again. He tried a million to do apps and a million reminder apps and a million things, but he has given up. He makes lists now by having a special email address and usually before he is going to bed he will remember that important thing and will email it to himself. The subject line will be the thing he needs to do.

If he is working on a software development project, then of course he will have lists of the tasks and dependencies and things like that, but for his personal life, he will make a list of crap he got to buy at Home Depot, he will make a list of things he needs to remember to take somewhere, but he doesn’t like doing that.

For John it is extremely rare that he makes a list, but he made a list last night of things he needs to do at his house, and that list is daunting, partly because a lot of the things are things where he has to make a phone call. A list is one thing, but a list of phone calls he has to make? Ugh!


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