People as Apps

My daughter’s speaking vocabulary is still limited to toddler-ese, but one thing she can definitely say is Call Gramma.

She usually does this while pointing at my iPad or my phone. She doesn’t actually mean to make a phone call — she wants to FaceTime, but while she understands the word FaceTime, she can’t say it. Hence, call Gramma.

She says the same to my wife for her other grandmother. She’s enjoyed FaceTiming them both since very early in her life, and now she has the ability to demand it. Once presented with the iGadget in question, she can even navigate to FaceTime and tap on the right contact in the list.

But I realized something the other day that made this adorable tendency a little…odd.

I think my kid thinks her grandmothers are apps.

No, really!

She says “call Gramma” and we do, and then after a few seconds, she wanders off, occasionally stopping by to peer at the screen and giggle. And then, after I’ve signed off, she’ll stroll back over, look at me, and say, “Call Gramma.”

Unlike a couple of months ago, she doesn’t summon forth her grandmothers so that she can interact with them. She just conjures them to the screen, giggles at them, and then goes about her business. And that conjuring part can happen over and over!

She doesn’t understand wi-fi, video calling, networking, or even distance. All she knows is this: When she wants to see Elmo, she taps on an icon and he’s there. When she wants to drop shapes into holes in her favorite game, she taps on an icon and it’s there.

And when she wants to see a grandmother…

She taps on an icon…

There’s no need to engage, then. No need to “stay on the line”1 because there’s always another tap. “Call Gramma,” run around and play, “call Gramma” again, run around some more, “call Gramma…” Lather, rinse, repeat.

Don’t worry — this isn’t a post in which I rail against the demons of technology. My daughter will realize soon enough that her grandmothers don’t live inside the iPad, always waiting, always ready to heed the call of her persistent, tiny finger taps. In the meantime, it’s sort of hilarious to watch, as she invokes the holy tap-tap-tap and delights herself with her grandmothers, over and over and over again.

  1. Oh, man, how old does that make me sound?

How it Happened: I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers mass market paperback

This one’s easy. I’ve already written about it!

Check out this piece I wrote for Mulholland Drive a few years back. It’s basically got the story down pat, though in looking at it now, a couple of details (mostly about timing) are off. No big deal, though.


Words are not enough, but words are all I have, and I hate that.

I didn’t want to drop my daughter off at daycare this morning. I wanted to keep her home and hold her all day, but she’s too young, she doesn’t know, and the disruption to her routine and the moroseness of her father wouldn’t have helped her or me, so I let her go.

Haven’t slept save for handfuls of minutes, stolen bits of panic-streaked dreams in darkness. I want to believe — desperately — that this is just another gone-bad election, that I survived Reagan and Bush and W., that it’s no different, but of course it is, it is.

For years, we’ve mocked the right for living in the Fox News/right-wing bubble, but — as Bill Maher has pointed out repeatedly — there’s a left-wing bubble, too. Social media allows us to communicate with anyone, but more often than not, we choose only to communicate with people who agree with us, who reinforce our beliefs, our wishes, our desires. When Nate Silver had the temerity to suggest that Hillary wasn’t a lock on election, for example, the left went crazy and bent over backwards to “prove” him wrong. It sure felt good at the time.

How’s it feel now?

I’ll tell you how I feel: I am absolutely petrified for my friends who do not have the luxury, as I have, of having been born white, male, cisgender, and straight. If this is a nightmare for me, I literally cannot imagine what hell they’ve already conceived, with the knowledge that reality very well could be worse. I yearn to be a comfort to them, yet I know that nothing I do or say will ever — could ever — compensate for what our fellow Americans have unleashed.

We’re living in a dystopian novel, but there’s no plucky hero who can rise up to save us all.

So, we’ll have to do it ourselves.

Don’t think of 2020. That’s too far away. The midterms are in 730 days. It’s time to purify Congress and the statehouses, and start to build a new future. Let’s do it. It’s the only thing we can do — the only thing — that will both make us feel better and actually make things better.

WiRL: “A blur in his crotch”

A very cool episode

Barry has a book challenged; guess which one! After reading Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, Barry has an epiphany. Leia requests her favorite musician. Morgan plans and executes a toddler’s birthday party without any help.


Today would have been my maternal grandfather’s 100th birthday.

I have his birthday in my calendar and when he passed nine years ago at the age of ninety-one, I didn’t delete it. So every year, I get a reminder, and last night it told me “Tomorrow: David Kipnes 100th Birthday.”

One hundred.

He almost made it, too.

When I told my wife I was going to write about my grandfather, she said, “You’re getting sentimental in your old age.” Which struck me as funny ’cause, man, I’ve been sentimental my whole life. I still own the baby blanket my parents put in my crib, for God’s sake! (It’s even older than I am. The blanket was probably manufactured in the late sixties; I was manufactured in 1971.)

This is my mother’s father, my Zadie, in 1991 at the spry age of 75, with my Bubie:

Bubie and Zadie

She predeceased him by a little over six years. In those six years, I watched him go from inconsolable and incoherent with grief, a man who wanted to die, to laughing with his first great-grandchild (my niece) and claiming that he’d told God he wanted to live to be a hundred.

“And then I told God,” he went on with a twinkle in his eye, “that if He wouldn’t let me get to one hundred, that would be all right — I’ll take a hundred and ten.” [Read more…]