Absurdist Parenting

Three-year-olds are sometimes called “three-nagers.” They can go from excited and playful to moody and recalcitrant with seemingly no explanation.

In those moments, I sometimes get upset too. I like playing with Grace, even to the point of spoiling. But when I take the time and effort to put her fun first, that three-nager attitude doesn’t just go away, so at my worst I feel like she’s intentionally being ungrateful. And that’s not fun for either of us.

When I’m at the top of my parenting game though, I notice that she actually has plenty of opportunity for fun but she’s hitting a mood. A great tool for these moments is to find something completely absurd to make her mind reset.

“Did you know the sky is pink when you’re not looking?” has worked – she instantly switched from grumpy to playful, trying look down then back up at the sky.

One day she would respond to everything I said with “NO!” so I timed out a click of our car’s panic button with her response and by the time she was done yelling, she was smiling at the distraction. That was a better game than ‘yell at daddy.’

If you just need something to change, a bit of craziness can be effective.

Still Reading Recently

The Art of Procrastination by John Perry

What some may think is tongue in cheek is actually brutally honest in this short, funny book. My wife and I are both procrastinators, so we had a good evening me reading this book instead of working and her listening to the best laugh lines every ten minutes or so. A good read for anyone feeling a bout of shame about their own procrastinating nature.

Locke & Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

The scariest Locke & Key volume yet. I really wish I could go back in time and read these books as they were released. Every page is well done. It hurts to see the Locke family going through such horrific things, but it’s the very best sort of horror… perhaps the best sort of fiction… that makes us thankful to have a less interesting problem to tackle.

Ghost Tree by Curnow, Gane, and Herring

The final book of this four-issue miniseries from IDW came out and holy cow the ending was jarring. The whole story is ethereal and strange, but I loved it, but suddenly I wasn’t sure how to handle it. They certainly accomplished the goal of making me thinking about this story for days after finishing it.

Another note about comics

I started collecting comic books in May. I love it. I’ve had phases where I’d get a trade paperback on a friend’s suggestion or if I saw something interesting at the used bookstore. But a new comic shop opened up near us and I wanted to check it out and support it… and now I look forward to every Wednesday. My favorite book is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which happens to be ending in December. If you’d like to read the last storyline of Squirrel Girl along with me, look for #47 on August 14th.

That said, I may not always mention all the comic books… but rest assured I’m reading them.

Even More Recent Reading

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I got so much out of this book, I read it twice in two days. I made some immediate changes to my business and schedule right afterwards. I wish I’d read this a year ago.

An interview with Greg McKeown that gives an enticing introduction as to why the idea of Essentialism has merit.

The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

I wish I’d read this ten years ago. I heard about it when it first came out, and I always feel some kind of connection to Josh Waitzkin because of my childhood in scholastic chess scene. Part memoir, part self-help, Josh is a great educator and it he brings a lot of clarity to learning difficult skills at the highest levels.

If anyone knows of a “Josh Waitzkin, but a programmer,” I’d really want to learn about them. Matt Mullenweg is the closest person that comes to mind for me?

More Recent Reading

You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham

The creator of the You Need a Budget (YNAB) software, which I began using recently, wrote this book to publish his philosophy of modern budgeting. Both the software and this book do a good job of not making assumptions about what the user/reader want to do with their money, something very different from other personal finance systems. You could even stay in debt and get value from the YNAB way of things.

Playing with FIRE by Scott Rieckens

Read this in one evening. A passionate report on high-earning family starting their financial independence journey. Companion to a new a documentary that’s currently in limited theaters. I loved the book, and while I’m not sure it’ll be my go-to thing to get someone intrigued with FIRE (MMM’s blog is still that for me) it’s definitely good enough for anyone interested to read it. I bet the documentary is great:

Locke & Key, Vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

The world-building and art in Locke & Key are exemplary. I think I preferred Vol 1’s story, but their both so enjoyable it’s not even worth ranking. Looking forward to finding a copy of Vol. 3.


168 hours a week.

Sleep for 56 and you still have 112 remaining.

Work 40, commute 10, and you still have 62 hours under your command.

You Need a Mustache

Our household recently switched to You Need a Budget (YNAB) after many years of using Mint.

YNAB is missing a report I’d find useful: Savings Rate. That metric is the most important consideration in Mr. Money Mustache’s “Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement”. YNAB has a well-documented API so I was thinking of making a tool, You Need a Mustache (YNAM), where one can oAuth into their YNAB account and get that calculation from all that transaction data.

Another YNABer started a project similar to this called Budget Reports, so I know I’m not the first person to get this joke. But there seems room here for other 3rd party reporting tools.

If you’re also a Mustachian and YNABer, leave a comment if you’d find any use in a tool like this or if there’s anything else you think is missing from YNAB.