The Dad Gene

I’m not going to suggest there are no downsides to traveling on 45 minutes’ sleep. There are plenty. In fact, the only two advantages are that nobody will try to take the Amtrak seat next to you if you’re sloppily collapsed with your face pressed against the window and drooling heavily, and when you reach your destination and are expected to act in a rational and professional manner, you can wipe aside all responsibility with the phrase “Sorry, I had an early train; I forgot that you’re not allowed to pee on an escalator.”

I’m using a ridiculous example for comedic effect. This is New York. You can pee on just about anything here and people definitely do.

Well, I don’t know why I can never get a good night’s sleep before an early travel day. All I can say is that I normally work well into the single digits of the AM, and further, there’s an endless list of petty annoyances that I have to address before I can close my office. So 7:15 AM isn’t a departure time that favors great success.

I left the house 45 minutes later than I’d planned. Which meant that I was waiting on the platform just 15 minutes before the train.

“Wow! It was a little close!” you say. No, you don’t understand: this is Amtrak. In airline terms, it was as if I’d shown up at my gate an hour before boarding time. So why was I dressing myself down?

The Dad Gene.

I’m sometimes reminded that I have all of the tools necessary to be a good father. For example, there’s that head-clampy device that’s used to keep the kid at the kitchen table until he finishes all of his green beans. I picked that one up at a yard sale. A good oak one; it even had all of the straps.

But here I speak of the genetic drive to get the kids out of bed way too early and arrive at the airport way too soon for a flight. “Oh, you’re bored?” Dad says, during Hour Two of the airport sit-in. “I suppose you’d rather be excited because I had to fix a flat tire and there was a wreck on the highway and we couldn’t find a place to park at the airport shuttle and the shuttle driver got lost on the way and we got held up at the security screening and there was a problem with our tickets. You’re telling me that you’s like the excitement of hurling ourselves through a closing jetway door at the last second and hoping that we’d still get to go to Disneyworld? Read your Archie comic and keep quiet.”

I would have gotten to the Amtrak station a lot earlier if I hadn’t taken a childish detour. I like to pass by the airport shuttle, stop where there are a couple of dozen people waiting, and be a total dick. “I’m carrying a Swiss Army knife and many ounces of liquids I don’t even necessarily need! Enjoy the TSA strip search, losers!”

And then I laugh and peel out. It’s part of the joy of rail travel.

Why the early departure? A breakfast that got cancelled while I was en route. Well, the good news was that I had a little bit of work to do, anyway. I’d been keeping an eye on an announcement from Logitech on the pricing of the first Google TV set-top box. I’d held on to a review of the Apple TV and the new Roky set-top boxes for hours, waiting, but finally I had to release it to my editor.

The news came late on the West Coast: $300. Holy jumping iguanas. If it were close to the $99 prices of the other network-enabled TV thingies, we’d have had a real horse race. Even if they got it in under $200, it’d have been an interesting development.

But $300? That’s true Whiskey Tango Foxtrot pricing. I wrote and submitted an amendment to the column I’d filed, adding one of the bitchiest few paragraphs I’ve published in quite a while.

It was actually a damned lovely morning. I’ve spent enough time in New York that when I arrived at Penn Station and needed to fine a nice place to set up and work, I could do no better than Bryant Park, just four or five blocks away. The weather was gorgeous, I had a source of phosphoric acid at my elbow, and tapped away on my iPad quite happily before my lunch engagement.

Another busy day lies ahead. Breakfast with someone, then off to the New York Comic-Con floor for a briefing or two, then I engage my military-style plans to try to get on the list for a sketch from one of my favorite artists. Then off to Fox News to be on their Web-only tech show at 2 PM.

I’ll look pretty foolish in my Darth Maul makeup, but it really can’t be helped.

14 thoughts on “The Dad Gene”

  1. Excellent writing as always, good sir. I happen to be going to New York this weekend and will remember well that part about the escalator.

  2. I don’t know. Yes $300 is expensive, but Google TV provides orders of magnitude more value than Apple’s crippled box, which is good only for streaming Netflix and overpriced rentals from iTunes. The Roku comparison is a tougher one, but there’s probably a market for being able to access any video content on the Internet on the HDTV. Roku has way more content than Apple, but it doesn’t have everything.

  3. My grandfather felt he was wasting his time if he got to the train station before the train did. Since home was Ann Arbor, where the station dwell time was 2 or 3 minutes, he caught many trains on the rear platform as the train was leaving. (He didn’t have traffic or parking issues–for most trips he walked to the station from home.)

    As to Logitech/Google TV, I’m trying to disengage from Google, not plunge into their pool. I think my high end current generation Roku will cover me for quite a while.

  4. Yeah, I was all excited about GoogleTV once they launched the new web site…up until the moment where they announced the price. (I think the “smoking crater” line in your column sums it up pretty well.)

    Now, when I’m ready to buy a new TV, I’d certainly consider dropping a little extra cash to get GoogleTV already baked in. But that’s probably at least a couple years away. So for now, Roku is edging out the AppleTV, but I’m not completely swayed in one direction or the other yet.

  5. I know exactly how you feel about early morning travel. It was a real jolter when I earned FourSquare “School Night” badge because I was catching an early flight to TO.

    And the $300 price for the GoogleTV set top box with Full Keyboard was a real eye opener too. I’m afraid is set off a bit of a rant.

  6. I would love to have seen the Boxee Box in the list of set-top devices being reviewed. I have been on the fence between the Boxee Box and the Apple TV. I have always valued Andy’s advice and thoughts on these things. I’m not interested in the Roku though. I have a lot of home movies and pictures which I want to make available but the potential of an Apple TV app store is too big to ignore.

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