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Forbidden Jobs

Forbidden Jobs

by Wolf Pascoe on July 23, 2012

So we listened, Nick and I, to the Steve Jobs book. I think it was my idea, but Nick was all for it. It’s one of the things we do, listen to books.

It was a break from Rangers and Warriors and Redwall, all of which are more violent. No four letter words Nick doesn’t know. No sex to speak of, thank God, although one child was born out of wedlock. The only moment that really made me uncomfortable was when Jobs talked about his LSD experience.

“Dad, what’s LSD?” Nick said.

“It’s a medication that makes your mind different. I don’t recommend it.”

I counted to three.

“I think Steve would have been fine without it,” I said.

That seemed to answer the question.

Jobs was adopted, as was Nick. Jobs loved his adoptive parents, but never seemed at rest with his original abandonment. Nick didn’t comment on those passages, nor did I.




Why did I suggest the book? Probably because of something my mother said to me when I was Nick’s age.

“I’d like you to discover a cure for cancer,” she said.

That’s a lousy thing for a parent to lay on a kid. The problem isn’t quite the grandiosity of such a wish. It’s more the lack of specificity.

I would have liked it if my father had suggested a book like Steve Jobs to me when I was Nick’s age, had he been around.

Any biography of a self-made man would have done. Something to show the ambition, the moves, the grunt work, the failures. The specificity.

I would have liked to have known about failure; it was far too scary then. It’s scary now.

“Dada, I don’t think I want to start a company,” Nick said the other day.

“You don’t have to start a company, ” I said.

“I’d rather play video games and eat junk food.”

My son knows me so well.




It’s ridiculous that Jobs is gone now, when he probably would have lived if he hadn’t dithered nine months after his cancer was discovered. Dithering was what he did from my point of view.

Do you want to live or die? God said. I’ll take die, Jobs said.

From his point of view he had a better idea than his doctors about how to beat the thing. When he finally allowed the surgeons to operate it was too late. But then, it took the same arrogance to bring the world around to his point of view about the computer.

A computer, Jobs argued, is like a toaster. Or should be.

That idea was his genius.




A thing I didn’t know about Jobs was what a jerk he was.

“Psychopath,” said a friend at work.

He had great charm and personal power, used people, seems to have allowed himself whatever he wanted, and threw tantrums when he didn’t get his way.

Cry like a baby for what you want, says the Talmud.

Is this what it takes to make a dent in the universe?

I want Nick to grow out of those things and worried that Jobs’ behavior set a bad example. But Nick seemed as disgusted by it as I was and the book gave us a way to talk about frustration.

“He was a big baby,” Nick said.

“I want whatever I want too,” I said. “It makes me mad not to get it. I feel like throwing tantrums sixteen times a day.”

“But you don’t.” said Nick.

“But I feel like it.”

In the movie Forbidden Planet, some Jobs-like genius on a faraway world designed a computer that instantly translated everyone’s desires into reality. Internet to the infinite power. They had thought this was their Singularity, their moment of liberation. What happened was, everyone killed each other, the whole civilization wiped itself out overnight.




Now that we’re done, Nick is listening again on his own.

“Why?” I said. “I thought you said he was a big baby.”

“It’s a good book.”

Maybe we’ll try Teddy Roosevelt next.




Three portraits for Presidents Day



Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. It’s fourteen minutes long, but if you haven’t heard it, it’s worth bookmarking and coming back to:



Got a role model story? Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Thatcher July 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

I read this and all I could think was: Man – Nick is lucky.
I wish I’d had you as a father.


Wolf Pascoe July 24, 2012 at 2:13 am

Shucks, I always wanted a daughter.


Jim Parkevich July 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Ok, Wolf…here I go, hoping not to ramble too much. I have mentioned before, I am 62, and grew up with many men, who I now consider as my heroes. To a man, they were vets of WWll and Korea. Most wore their scars with dignity and respect.
Their respect was for Home,Family, Community and Country. This was earned by their terrible ordeals in lands far from our shores. A few succumbed in later years to the ravages of alcohol, when the horrors of what they endured finally caught up with them..But to a man, they taught us as young men that they deserved and demanded the word “sir” when ever addressing them. They gave freely of their time to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, little league baseball, they chaperoned our teen dances and taught us to be kind and courteous to the young ladies. And if we were disrespectful or mouthy, you can bet they would grab you by your belt and drag you home to your father..AND THEN YOU REALLY GOT IT..The names that fill my head and heart could fill an album. I hold them all in the highest honor…They will always be my heroes.


Wolf Pascoe July 24, 2012 at 2:19 am

Nora’s dad was in the Pacific during the war.

Once in a while as a physician I’ll have a patient who is a veteran of that time. I met a man who flew 50 missions over Germany, another who was at D-Day (+1).


Jim Parkevich July 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Hey Wolf…Jim again,,,promise to keep this quick…thirty (+) years ago,,Bill Moyers, on PBS, did a fantastic series: The Power Of Myth..with the esteemed Joseph Campbell, a college professor. A powerful read that I am sure Nick will understand. I’m done…………..


Wolf Pascoe July 24, 2012 at 2:20 am

Was it that long ago? Sheesh. Campbell was great in person too.


Kyle Bradford July 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I honestly never got what it was with Jobs. The Queen was a Mac user before it was cool, like 20 years ago. He was even a jerk wen Apple wasn’t worth an apple. His has significant personal characteristics that, quite frankly, make me question if I’d loan him my lawn mower.

Marketing genius, arguably. Spearheaded a company whose product made a dent. Absolutely.

Was it all him…never.


Wolf Pascoe July 25, 2012 at 1:48 am

I hear you. Mac users were cool from the get go, which was ’84. But I’d do anything to get rid of my lawn mower.


BigLittleWolf July 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

My take-away?

Quite a kid you have. And quite a father he has.


Wolf Pascoe July 26, 2012 at 12:19 am



Barbara July 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I had heard he was a jerk, but his speech still inspired me. I wish I’d read biographies with/to my kids. Nick’s a smart kid, by the way!


Wolf Pascoe July 31, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I think I’ll show Jobs’ Stanford speech to Nick. Thanks for the idea, Shallue.


Pamela August 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

I love that you listen to books too. Although we are only up to Henry Huggins:) the shadow side of great People is interesting.


Wolf Pascoe August 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm

The bigger the front the bigger the back, say the Chinese.


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