Struggling to fly casual

I didn’t read the fine print.

I was so excited that a friend had provided me a ticket for two to an advance screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story on Monday night that I didn’t pay proper attention to the warning that it was a “bag and tag” event. One condition of showing the movie in Durham early was for Disney representatives to confiscate all smartphones from the crowd so we couldn’t take photos or record.

And there’s nothing wrong with this. It makes perfect sense. And, as I understand it, this is common practice for advance screenings.

But for nearly 10 years, it’s been uncommon for me to be separated from my smartphone. It’s especially critical to me at a time like this, when I’m with my wife and we’ve left both our children with a babysitter so we can spend (gasp!) three hours escaping into the world of young Han Solo and Lando Calrissian.

We’d both be cut off from communication with the outside world in the event of an emergency.

I was ready to cut and run as my anxiety ratcheted upward, wrestling with the tug between responsibility for my kids and the feeling that, y’know, it’s just a few hours – they’ll be fine. Strangers in line assured me that our babysitter could just call the movie theater if something went wrong. They’d page us. And, although I appreciated what they were trying to do, it just set my imagination spinning into further anxiety about something so bad happening that they’d have to stop the movie, bring up the lights, call our names over a loudspeaker.

Which is when my wife Catherine took charge and told our babysitter to demand exactly that: make the biggest ruckus possible to spread the stress around, if it came to that.

So I stashed the phones in our car and returned to the theater. For a little while, we cut the cord and journeyed far, far away, and got a faint reminder of what life must’ve been like for my parents when they tried to escape from the kids and have a little fun.

Enjoyed the movie. The kids? Just fine.

I really need to calm down more.

Do androids dream of safe spaces and trigger warnings?

My home security system needs a safe space.

The other night while watching The Expanse (an excellent show that should be saved from cancellation, FYI), struggling with my usual seasonal allergies, I cut loose with a mighty sneeze that the Fellowship might’ve mistaken for a cave troll.

The alarm, which I’d set a few minutes earlier, was suddenly triggered!

View post on

It’s the first time that it happened while my wife Catherine and I sat peacefully in the house, minding our own business. However, it’s just the latest incident with our security system. Our dog, Calliope, is a puggle with a panicked bark that apparently sounds like breaking glass – the sort of thing our high-strung alarm waits to hear, it seems. She too can trigger the alarm. In fact, her outbursts once drew a visit from a couple of Durham Police Department officers after the alarm went off and the security company couldn’t reach me.

I sure hope our coming AI masters aren’t so easily triggered!