Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The adventures of nerd dad

So I've got an Android Evo 4G from Sprint, which has now replaced my crappy old DumbPhone™, my iPod Nano, the GPS that I might have eventually bought otherwise, and the Palm Pilot of which I haven't owned a working model in probably five years or more.

Since the Nano is now obsolete in my eyes, I gifted it to Ben, who is eight. It is loaded up with pretty much Weird Al's entire discography and not much else. We had a conversation which is fairly typical of us, although probably not typical of many other father/son duos, as Ben pointed out.

Dad: "Here's the charger I forgot to give you the last time you visited. You will have to connect it up to a computer."
Son: "How do I do that?"
Dad: "It's easy, see this thing here? Just plug it into a USB slot."
Son: "Oh, okay."
Dad: "...That stands for Universal Serial Bus, you know."
Son: "What does THAT mean?"
Dad: "Well, serial is like..."
Son: "A serial killer?" (Ben's entertainment tastes, like those of many boys, are diverse.)
Dad: "Um... kind of. Let me see... you know your electronics set?"
Son: "Yeah..."
Dad: "You know how you can make a circuit with two different switches?"
Son: "Yeah..."
Dad: "Okay, if you plug one switch straight into the other one, and put those in a line with a wire back to the battery, how will you turn the circuit on?"
Son: "Both switches have to be on."
Dad: "Right. But what if you put the two switches NEXT TO each other, so that the wire splits and goes through each of them separately before coming back to the battery?"
Son: "I dunno."
Dad: "Will it turn on if one is on but not the other?"
Son: "I don't think so."
Dad: "Actually it will. If either switch is closed, then the electricity can get back to the battery, so either one makes a complete circuit."
Son: "Okay, I guess I see."
Dad: "So when the switches are next to each other, that's called being in 'parallel.' And when they are in a row, they are 'serial', which means they come one after the other."
Son: "Okay." (thinks) "So a serial killer kills people in a row?"
Dad: "Yeah, pretty much. If he kills just one person, he's just a killer, not a serial killer."
Son: "Does it have to be one person every day?"
Dad: "Nah. It's like, if the switches in your serial circuit were separated by ten miles of wires, they'd still make a circuit, and they'd still be serial as long as they follow each other. So someone would probably be a serial killer even if he only killed one person a year."
Son: "I get it." (pause) "Um, why are we talking about this again?"
Dad: "Well uh... oh right! Because your iPod charger works with a universal serial bus connection."
Son: "Okay." (pause) "You're not like a normal dad."
Dad: (laughs) "What? Why?"
Son: "I don't know, I don't think other dads talk about science and stuff. They probably like..."
Dad: "Watching sports and drinking beer?"
Son: "Yeah!"
Dad: "Well, do you wish you had a normal dad?"
Son: "No way!"


  1. Dad: "Watching sports and drinking beer?"
    Son: "Yeah!"
    Dad: "Well, do you wish you had a normal dad?"
    Son: "No way!"

    I laughed out loud.

  2. Love it!

    I endeavor every day to be an abnormal dad... It's a lofty goal for which we should all strive.

  3. I guess a parallel murderer would have a built-in alibi: "I can't have committed this murder: I was across town committing a different murder."

    I don't even want to think about what a full-duplex murderer would be like.

  4. So very well crafted!
    Talking about connecting by talking about talking about connections!

  5. So very well crafted!
    Talking about connecting by talking about talking about connections!

  6. NoApologetics4:59 PM

    Have you added the latest to the mix?,,20483491,00.html

  7. Cute story. My son and I have conversations revolving around Mythbusters and math, although because he's sixteen, he probably wishes I would just go sit in a corner with a blanket around my legs and leave him alone.

    Enjoy these times, Russell.

  8. That is awesome. My mom's husband pokes a little fun at me cause of how smart my daughter is. She is that way because I have conversations similar to this one with her.

  9. I'm not a parent, but I work and have worked in schools, and I've got an 8-year-old nephew I sometimes spend time with. Between those two things, I've had a lot of cool conversations like this. One of them was with my nephew after he asked me about where people come from. Funny thing is, he actually meant human beings in general, not babies (phew).

    The best part is when answering long chains of questions like this, I enjoy that it makes me examine things myself mentally as I'm relating it to the kid.

  10. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Love that you have those conversations with your son. There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing a child's eyes light up when they have their curiosity addressed; I love having scientific and philosophical conversations with my 11yo brother. Keep it up!