The secret to brand-blogger relations? Learn the difference between these two words:

(Disclaimer: This is not a post about parenting. I put on my professional hat for this one. I did however, do a recap of all the recaps that my fellow dad bloggers published regarding the recent Dad 2.0 Summit, which was the inspiration for this post. So if you want dad content, scroll all the way down!)

The two words: About and Behalf.

Now that I gave you what you came for, let's slow down to uncover why these words are so crucial.

Most of you know that I am a dad blogger (well, you do now). Some of you know that I also work in the PR industry as a digital strategist. This dual citizenship on both sides of the influencer marketing equation has served me quite well in my career. I can provide clients with the "real deal" on how to work with bloggers, and the blogging community knows that they have an advocate on the inside. Kind of like insider trading without the orange jumpsuit. 

But with great access comes great responsibility. I'm privy to the frustrations that my industry peers have toward bloggers, but I am just as attuned to the pet peeves that bloggers have against agency and brand folks. I cringe a lot in my day to day, is what I'm saying. 

I was recently afforded the opportunity to do something to alleviate this cringing when the organizers of the Dad 2.0 Summit approved my panel idea: The Secrets of PR...Revealed! I wanted to bring this panel together to help bloggers and brands better understand the inner workings of both sides. To help me with the proverbial mile in each others' shoes were my co-panelists Barbara Jones, founder of the One2One network, Justin Aclin from Hunter PR, and Beau Coffron of Lunchbox Dad.

I want to share with you one of the main takeaways that I hoped everyone in the room walked away with, because I have seen the lightbulbs of sudden understanding go off whenever I have explained this to PR peers and blogger brethren alike. Opposing sides have laid down their arms and extinguished torches, replacing the acrid scent of strife with lavender cucumber seaside breezes. Yes, this has happened and you cannot prove that it hasn't.

To do this, I'm going to kick it dad-style. I'm going to sit you agency and brand folks on one side of me, and you blogger influencer types on the other. And I'm going to be doing a lot of finger wagging. I understand that both sides may get their feelings hurt a little bit as I do this, but believe me it is for your own good. For our own good. And I wish I could say this hurts me more than it hurts you, but it doesn't. I actually take much pleasure in doing this because it's been a long time coming. 

BLOGGERS: I know you feel like you are the center of the world, but you aren't. You are a small piece of the marketing equation. But more important than that, you exist in an ecosystem we call media. You may not like that, and it may not be fair nor accurate, but that's the reality in which you exist. I know that as a blogger, you aren't the same thing as a news outlet, because you are a storyteller, you are driven by passion and your job is not to cover the news. You don't even have to be objective. You are allowed and even expected to have opinions and passions and biases. The "media" does not have this luxury. I know this. I feel you. But to a brand, you are an outlet that creates content and has an audience, just like People magazine or USA Today or Yahoo Food. Before I get to my main point, I'm going to turn now to the other side.

BRANDS/AGENCIES: Bloggers are not just waiting in the wings for content inspiration from you. They are not seeking breaking news like your traditional media contacts might be. Bloggers don't "need" news to thrive. They are not reporting on anything. It is not in fact their job at all. They are regular folks who have somehow managed to parlay their talent for storytelling or content creation to attract an audience that is highly valuable to you, and they owe you nothing. They put a lot of work into developing compelling content and cultivating an audience that trusts and likes them. Everything you value about them is something they have invested time, energy and money in. Whenever they work with you, in other words, they are doing you a favor. It is your privilege, not theirs. 

BLOGGERS: When you get pitched a product or a story, relax. This is not some conspiracy to exploit you to work for free. In the marketing/PR world there are multiple activities going on simultaneously when we are promoting something. One of them is pitching. This began way before the internet and will be a part of the equation pretty much for infinity. This is what we call earned coverage and it's earned because the PR person is essentially selling an idea that they hope is newsworthy enough for a media outlet to cover. Because you are considered media, you may also get pitched. PR folks are offering Bon Appetit magazine the same thing they are offering you when they pitch: $0. But wait, what about bloggers who get paid? I'm going to explain this after I turn to the brands and agencies to say something.

BRANDS/AGENCIES: Do not, do not, do not ever get pitching something about your brand confused with proposing content on behalf of your brand. I just made a lot of progress on the other side explaining what pitching is all about. I know it's real tempting to turn everything into a "pitch" but there is nothing that will shred your credibility more than abusing that privilege. When you pitch, you are offering up information or news and it stops there. If you want to offer product where applicable, that's ok too. The important thing is you are providing fodder in hopes of triggering interest from the blogger. You are not dictating or suggesting how, when, where or what they do with it. You are hoping they will somehow create content about your brand. The second you add any stipulations about anything - ANYTHING AT ALL - you have crossed into the territory of content on behalf of your brand. At this point, you are entering into a partnership with a specific output in mind. This is when you are leveraging the blogger's creative talent, audience and ability to weave a positive story for your product to benefit you. This must come with compensation. You are making them work on your behalf. Be a sensible adult about it, you know what that entails ($$$). And no, sorry, "exposure" isn't compensation. Don't you ever let me catch you saying that. 

BLOGGERS: For the love of all things digital, please stop trying to "educate" PR people about respecting your worth when you are being pitched something to write about. Nothing makes me facepalm worse than when I see a blogger huff up his chest, go on social media and say how he "schooled" a PR person who tried to pitch a story about their product. You aren't schooling anyone. Most of the time that person you all-caps-rage-replied to isn't even related to the person who is in charge of the paid "on behalf of" content campaign that you are now blacklisted from. Also, please stop charging for reviews. Charge all you want to create content on behalf of a brand, but a review is impartial by nature and if you take compensation, you aren't being impartial. If you have a problem with that, don't review things. Conversely, if you do take money for a project on behalf of a brand, that is NO LONGER a review, and you forfeit your right to trash that brand, even if you hate the product. It is now your job to create something positive for the brand (or bow out of the project). That's the partnership thing. They are respecting your creative talent by paying you, you should reciprocate that respect by doing the job you were paid to do. Clarification: you have the legal right to trash them, but it makes you the guy everybody hates, and rightfully so. On the flipside, the moment a brand or PR person asks you to do anything uncompensated on behalf of the brand by dictating ANY GUIDELINES AT ALL (what medium to post on, what to say, how to say it, what hashtag to use ... anything) you have my complete permission to trash them all you want. I might even RT that ish for you. 

BRANDS/AGENCIES: Even when you are paying for content to be made on behalf of your brand, keep your hands off the creative! Make sure you cover all the things that the blogger can and cannot do on the project brief or statement of work, but after that, let them do their thing. You chose them for a reason. If you aren't going to let them do it their way, then you should just buy an ad. That way you can control every detail. The beauty of third party voices is that they understand what makes their followers tick, and they can weave your brand into their story in a way that will resonate best with this audience. The blogger wants this to succeed as much as you do. If their content sucks, they lose their audience. They have as much to lose as you do. And this is where that partnership thing comes in. When they do well, you do well. That's the beauty of the influencer/brand universe - it is a self regulating system. 

That felt really good to say. In case you couldn't tell from this post, I love both communities that I am part of. I consider myself so lucky to be a trusted core member of both sides and I take that status dead seriously. I may raise my voice and wag my finger too hard sometimes, but this is out of passion. It is out of the strong belief that this is a game that both sides can win. And if it takes a little tough love every once in a while, well, that's what dads are best at.

# # # # 


This post is done. 

I added the section below to give my fellow dad bloggers some well deserved visibility.These are some of their recaps from the recent Dad 2.0 Summit. Give these guys a read, send them some traffic and, hell, pitch 'em while you're at it.

Recaps from Dad 2.0

  1. City Dads Group compiled thoughts and reflections from members representing their various chapters. The common denominator: a community that is as close as any, even though we interact 95% of the time online. You can now tell all the people who doubted your AOL chat room friends: TOLD YOU! The internet people are real!
  2. The founding chapter of City Dads Group, the NYC Dads Group, shared some reflections from their group and it was all about the feeling of inclusion no matter where you fall in the parenting spectrum, as well as a nice opportunity for some “me” time with friends. For me, that involves a tab of some kind.
  3. Logtar’s Blog talks about his reflections as a first timer at Dad 2.0. As someone who knew these folks before the first one, it is interesting to get the perspective of someone who is brand new to the community I take for granted. Plus: it’s not all about shoving product down your throat like most conferences. Minus: it’s still difficult to integrate into a group when you are a newcomer. Find me next year, Logtar. I have the magic potion: beer.
  4. Over at Amateur Idiot / Professional Dad, Dave talks about this magical land we call the dad blogger community, and even though the rest of the world furrows their brow when they find out there is a parenting conference devoted dads, we are energized, inspired and motivated by it every single day. He also pays homage to one of our patron saints, Oren Miller, who lost his fight with cancer last year.
  5. Carter Gaddis is a former journalist, and his job was to write stories. But at Dad 2.0, these stories wrote themselves, as he so eloquently recounts on this post. He also remembers a lot of hugs. He’s not wrong about that.
  6. Rob Ainbinder - Digital Dad writes from the perspective of a first time attendee, but a longtime member of the dad blogger community. This is a great breakdown of everything that made up this conference, from individuals that he met, to his favorite panels and events. I myself missed the Thu night bourbon party. I wish he wrote about that, because bourbon.
  7. Ruddy Bits is a dad who saw the dad blogger community as the friends he never had, once he became a parent and couldn’t do happy hour on a moment’s notice with his brick and mortar friends. Finally meeting these “internet people” in real life felt "surreal… and very real.” Couldn’t agree more. Very real has kept me coming back since the first Dad 2.0 5 years ago.
  8. Instafather reflects upon what football great and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan said in his interview on the Dad 2.0 stage and turns them into takeaways for new dads. I’m really bad at making plot connections in movies, so this was a good post for me. Sometimes I need it handed to me on a plate. Lessons served here.
  9. Inked Up Dad sums up his Dad 2.0 experience with words that usually are not associated with conferences: honesty, emotion, legacy. And he nails the reason why. We aren’t creating a network, we are are creating friendships. Sorry for the spoiler. It was too good not to say.
  10. Dig It, Daddy-O went all artistic and wrote a poem. It doesn’t rhyme, which means it was deep. And yup, it was. Nice one!
  11. Father Nerds Best talks about something I think a lot of dads who blog have experienced: that journey that begins with “none of my friends can relate to my experience as a dad,” then goes to discovering that others who write stuff on the internet are experiencing the same thing, and then realizing that there is a conference for these guys, then drinking bourbon, which leads to the epiphany that we’re all in it to better ourselves and the role of fatherhood.
  12. Dadapalooza has been to all five Dad 2.0 Summits and sums up the reason: the community. He also manages to weave Oren Miller’s poignant letter to himself that his widow read in front of us, his hello kitty diary and a Shakespeare sonnet into it. Transition master!
  13. On the recap by Dads Who Change Diapers, that common theme is again echoed: being totally apprehensive at first because who flies to attend a gathering of hundreds of people you only know by their avatars? But like the others, this soon gives way to realizing when you connect with hearts and minds, the “real life” part is just a formality. He also talks about being inspired by keynote speaker Derreck Kayongo to start his own social good campaign for next year’s conference. But he isn’t saying what it is yet, so I can’t spoil it. Foiled!
  14. And I’m The Dad explains the key takeaways from Dad 2.0 with equations. Never thought that was possible, but leave it to dads to get pythagorean with it!
  15. Papa Brownie isn’t afraid to admit that Dad 2.0 made him shed a few tears, on more than one, or two, or three occasions. But that’s the community that dad bloggers have. We’ve lost our leaders (the late great Oren Miller), we thrive on inspiration, and we’ll share a virtual or actual beer like old friends anytime.
  16. A Dad Influence talks about his second Dad 2.0 and took the keynote themes of leaving a legacy and embarking on second act to heart. He’s now going to reinvent himself. Some conferences leave you with cool keychains. Dad 2.0 leaves you with missions.

They wanted lifestyle shots...

Before we begin this post, I want to say I was not paid for this. I was given a watch. But I really needed one at the time, and this watch is unlike any other watch I have ever had. Also, I want to thank Jord Watches for being good sports about this post. You'll see...

I haven't posted in more than six months. I was wondering what would get me back on this horse. The last thing I expected it to be was a watch. And a wooden watch at that. Mostly because I never knew wooden watches existed. You can't expect what you don't know exists. Wow, I leave for 6 months and I become Socrates. I should abandon this blog more often. 

Back to the wooden watch...

A few months ago, I got an email from a watch company called Jord. They wanted to give me a watch made out of wood. I ignored that email because I didn't catch that part about giving me a watch. Then they emailed me again. And again. This time, I caught that part about wanting to give me a watch. Wow, I leave for 6 months and I forget the fundamentals of reading. Apparently all three emails mentioned the fact that they wanted to give me a watch. 

This was the coolest watch ever. A watch made out of wood! I had been wearing the Pebble that I reviewed last year, but it had just conked out, so now was a good a time as ever to make a fashion statement. "I will gladly accept a watch... what would you like from me?"

"Lifestyle shots."

They showed me some samples from other bloggers. They were all fashion bloggers. There was good lighting, manicures, pearls, handbags and playful smiling going on. 

"Are you sure you want me to do lifestyle shots? I'm a dad."

They sent me the Ebony and Rosewood Dover watch and said go for it. So I did.

This one is called "Poop Patrol" and it explores a father's mad rush to pick up all the dog poop in the yard before the lawn guys come. Of course, we are in a drought, so there's no lawn. But what are we going to do? Fire the guy over something he can't control? Dads are benevolent.

Every week is an opportunity to grow, learn and prosper. But the best lessons are ones that recycle learnings from past experiences. What a great metaphor for this one that I call "Blue Can" -- like Blue Steel, but sustainable.


A dad just powers through whatever needs to get done. Come on, life, give me your best shot. A dad can take whatever the world can "Dish Out."

"Between the Seats" captures every dad's superpower: to be able to reach down into any dark corner, crevice or pocket and just pull out whatever's been festering there for the past few months. Luckily, 8 times out of 10, it's just gummy bears or goldfish.

A dad's responsibility is to keep those under his care healthy and safe. So even if it's a ton of fun to burn last year's homework, somebody's got to rain on the parade. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it. May I present "Aww! Come on!!"

Like a sea captain, a dad needs to steer his ship through the proverbial ocean, no matter how rough it gets. "Hurricane 5 year old" has felled lesser men. Luckily if you know what time it is, you can count your way down to calmer seas. 

Finally, we have "Plating" -- because we all know that the difference between winning and losing is simply presentation. Also, finally a better view of the watch! 


Ok, so what's in it for you? Possibly a watch. That's way better than what you usually get from here. The people at Jord were nice enough to let me give away one $120 gift certificate for a Jord watch (you can buy a whole watch with that, plus it's always free shipping worldwide with them... yes, my friendly Canadians, that means you!). Usually when I do this, I make you leave a comment and then a few weeks later I remember that I was doing a giveaway, and then I randomly choose a winner and I contact them and they have no idea what I am talking about. 

Jord is helping me do this right. They gave me a Raffle Copter code. I have no idea how to integrate that so, it's sitting at the bottom of this post somewhere. If you can find the link to Raffle Copter, click it! It will take you to a contest page. Fill it out and on Nov. 5 someone will win. I think they will contact you, or I will. Either way, if you win, you will be contacted. Lastly, they gave me a widget to track visits to their site but I don't know how to integrate it into the body of my post, so if you see a random "Mens Watch" floating around somewhere, click it to go to their site. Help them out. Visits = love. Everybody who gives me a cool watch deserves some love. Hope you enjoyed the post. I've had too much bourbon tonight to end this post in any logical way. The end. 

Amazing! Kale! Recipes! Wow!

I got my hands on some kale. So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do: I fancied myself a food expert and created THE MOST AMAZING KALE RECIPES THAT WILL NOM YOUR MOTHERNOMMING MIND! I better see these on Pinterest sometime. That's all I'm saying. Enjoy:


What do you get when you combine Kale with the two most popular food ingredients of our time? The unholy trinity of the culinary world. The perfect storm. The opposite of stock art. 

Start with some beautiful kale. I actually have no idea what constitutes beautiful kale, since it all just looks like a used cold cut platter to me.

Add your pop culture cred multiplier.

Some "foodie juice"...

Blend artisanally.

Ponder the life choices you made up until this moment.

If you think that's crazy, let's talk about something really crazy: texting and driving. Did you know it causes 200,000 vehicle crashes a year? Suddenly, that "LOL" doesn't seem that important to transmit right this second now, does it? Don't you wish there were an easy way to help you resist the urge to search for a 3mm x 2mm key while barreling down the road strapped to a 3,000 lb metal object, aside from the fact that you are barreling down the road strapped to a 3,000 lb metal object? Before we answer that, I have more culinary inspiration to drop. 


I will pretty much eat anything on a stick. Even kale, theoretically. So LET'S IMPALE SOME KALE!


To ensure even cooking, liberally brush some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs onto the leaves. Actually, any household accelerant will do. 

Place on the grill and make sure to get a good sear. 

When the Shish Kalebob reaches a nice ash consistency, throw some burgers on the grill and pat yourself on the back. You rid the world of that much more kale. 

While you're ridding the world of kale, why not rid yourself of texting and driving? Remember that I said there was an easy way to resist the urge to text and drive? I wasn't kidding. It's called DriveMode by AT&T, and now it's available on both Droid and iOS for free. What does it do? First, it takes the temptation to respond out of the equation, by silencing text message alerts and even auto-replying for you. The app even turns on and off depending on if your vehicle is moving. The best part is that DriveMode can track your kids' usage of it (assuming they drive. If they don't, then I guess you can use it to prevent running really fast and texting). In other words, you'll be alerted if they turn it off. If only they had a similar app for bike helmets. If you do happen to catch your kids turning DriveMode off, I'm all about the consequences. And that comes in the form of my next recipe.


The "Choc" merely stands for chock full o' fibery goodness. There's no chocolate in this. In fact, there is no joy in this cookie at all. Because it starts and ends with kale.

Make or buy some cookie dough. It really doesn't matter because here comes the kale. POW!

Form into little balls and place them about two inches apart on a baking sheet.

Bake per whatever feels right. The important part is that you garnish this culinary delight with kale, because it actually is a great garnish. Step back and savor the meta of it all. 

Wait for the children to do something wrong, and punish accordingly.

Just like the mad rush to shove kale into every conceivable dish possible, that text you have to send while in the car -- IT CAN WAIT. I wish there were a website that allowed you to take a pledge to not use kale ridiculously, but we're simply not that lucky. There is, however, a site where you can pledge not to text and drive. I encourage you all to take the pledge

And just for the record, I was not paid for this post. I was, however, given an iPhone to not text and drive with (complete with the DriveMode app). I've used it a few months, and I admit, it has been difficult. I am a red light texter. But I also believe that there are other things one can occupy himself with while driving. 

The Dad 2.0 Thrival Guide

Are you going to the Dad 2.0 Summit? If so, this might be useful. If you’re not, but you like cigars, scroll to the bottom of this post because I am giving away a humidor and a mess of cigars. If you’re into both, then jackpot. I wrote this just for you. Since this is going to be the fourth year that I will be attending Dad 2.0 (actually, I might have skipped one of the middle ones, so let’s say third, lest I be Brian Williamsed and cast from blogging for six months, which really wouldn’t impact my current cadence in the least come to think of it), I figured I probably have something useful to share about it. At first, I thought about doing a survival guide, but it would be an awfully short post consisting of “don’t get arrested” and “don’t tweet past 11pm or four bourbons,” so I decided to go for less doomsday, more thrive. After all, fatherhood is all about kicking ass rather than simply not getting your ass kicked, right?

I’m about to take a red eye for work, spending too much on airport booze to help me sleep, and don’t have time for crafty transitions. Let’s just do this:

1) Make one new friend
Every conference I go to, whether it’s this, Blogher, Mom2.0 or BondageCon, I give myself a one-friend quota. Try to find one new person who really clicks with you. It’s not tough to do, but it makes all the difference in the world. Buying people beer offers you the best conversion rate. That said, I will be your friend.

2) Everyone Cares About Your Blog
You know when you go out into the real world and people just look at you funny when you talk about your blog? For three days, everyone around you will be speaking your language. They will get you. They’ll cringe with you about search terms bringing you traffic, stress out about the Facebook algorithm, and high five you because Melissa Joan Hart followed you on Twitter. Nerd out about your blog. You are among friends. 

3) But Not That Much
However, we all know you blog. So talk about other stuff too. Turns out, dad bloggers have a lot in common aside from our blogs. Stray from that comfort zone and you’ll discover other topics. Like kids. And blogging about them. Wow, this is harder than I thought.

4) Don’t Stress About Business Cards
You’ve probably seen a lot of conversation around getting business cards ordered. Screw that. You don’t need them. If you have them, great. If you don’t, you’ll be fine. If you meet a cool blogger just follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page. If you meet a brand person you click with, get their business card. Then take the initiative to engage with them later. Little good ever came out of giving someone your business card. Think about it. I’m right. I find that people put too much false hope on them when they have them. 

5) Be Nice to the Sponsors
I get it… you may not ever want to work with brands. But many of your fellow bloggers do. It’s actually a big deal that dads are making an impact in how things are marketed these days, and whether they’ve got it right yet or not, at least we are in that conversation. As someone on the other side, I know how hard it is to get a client to take a risk with dads. Help them feel like it paid off, because it will lead to better opportunities and more influence for us as a whole. Stop at their booths, chat with them, tweet with them, use their hashtags, show them some love. They are taking a leap of faith with us. 

6) Go To One Totally Irrelevant Panel
We tend to choose panels to attend that are familiar to us, whether that means a topic we dabble in, or panelists we know. Try attending one that you think you have absolutely nothing to do with. Those tend to be the most memorable because they offer you new perspectives on things. Plus, knitting baby bottle koozies might be the big Etsy break you’ve been waiting for. 

7) Enjoy Not Being a Dad
I don’t mean in the metaphysical sense, but in the “I have to pack school lunch for tomorrow” sense. Ironic as it is, Dad 2.0 is one of the few times during the year that you don’t have to be “on” in your role as dad (unless you brought your kids, for which I say kudos to you, and thanks for making the rest of us look bad, and skip this one). Have fun, be a guy, and hang out with other guys who are also taking full advantage of their temporarily reduced responsibilities for the weekend. Drink more, worry less. 

8) Call Your Kids/Spouse/Significant Other
Before you dive head first into the above piece of advice, do this. This would have been in the survival guide as well. 

9) Bring Aspirin
See above.

10) Hydrate
See above above.

11) Make Opportunities For Yourself
Remember that thing I said about brands taking a chance on dads? This is good not only for the dad collective, but also good for you as an individual. The brands are there to have conversations with you, and part of that is sharing ideas. Maybe there’s something you do that would be a great fit for a brand. This is your time to get in front of them and share it. 

In the spirit of making opportunities, I went and did that in a small way for this post. I’m sharing this because:

  • Opportunities don’t have to involve gobs of money on either end
  • They can be fun and aligned with your personality
  • I love cigars
  • I know a lot of you do, too
  • They don’t take a ton of work
  • It’s all about relevance and fit

A few months ago, the folks at contacted me to review some cigars. While I love cigars and they’ve been an integral part of the happy times of my life, I don’t have much cigar content in my head to do a good “cigar post." But I do have pictures of me enjoying some. This one is on my desk:

Times I'll never remember with friends I'll never forget.

Times I'll never remember with friends I'll never forget.

Here's one I took with work buddies just last month:

I did, however, need a new humidor. And yes, even though I do get paid for most of my brand posts, I also know that in order for a brand to pay me, they need to get something out of it as well. Like I said, I don’t think an amateurish post about cigars would really move enough cigars, or change the conversation about cigars in a way that would warrant their $[classified] expenditure on me. However, it might be worth the cost of a humidor and a couple handfuls of cigars. And while I might not be someone who can move the needle in the cigar consumer space, I do have an in with dads. And dads (at least the ones I know) are a strong cigar demographic. So I asked them to send me a humidor, and let me give one away (along with a couple handfuls of cigars picked just for you) on my blog.

Booze Not Included. 

Booze Not Included. 

If you’re curious, here is what I do know about cigars:

  • They are best lit with a wooden match and you aren’t supposed to draw the flame in when you light it. Just hold the cigar over the flame and turn slowly. Actually, that’s not true. The best way to light a cigar is via the smoldering remains of your would-be assassin’s car after you thwarted his attempt and made him pay dearly.
  • If you’ve never smoked a Cuban cigar, allow yourself the entire next day to recover from the nausea. After that first one, it doesn’t hit you half as hard. Not sure why. 
  • To get rid of cigar breath, no amount of brushing or mouthwashing will help. The only thing that really helps is eating Denny’s. Not sure if this is backed by independent peer-reviewed research, but neither is anti-vaccination and people seem to buy that just fine. 
  • Nothing smells worse than cigar ashes, the morning after. Trust me on this one. Do not dump it in the trash. Bury it, or something. 
  • Use a cutter or punch to cut the end of a cigar. You might think it looks cool to use your teeth, but it’s not. You look like the kid ordering a Strawberry Daiquiri the first time his fake ID works.

Ok, I’ve kept you from better things for long enough. I would love it if you could leave any conference tips of your own in the comments section, since nobody comments on blogs anymore and I want to feel nostalgic. Also, if you would like to win a humidor like mine (with cigars!), please let me know in the comments and I will add you to the drawing. If you would like to give CigarsCity an idea of the type of cigar you would like to try, visit their site and add that to your comment. They will then custom choose an assortment that fits your liking. How’s that for relevance?

I will draw the winner on Feb 28 at 9pm PST, so you have time to unwind from the conference and make some school lunches. If you'd like to purchase something in the meantime, use the promo code BUSYDAD with any order over $50 to get 10% off until the end of April. 

I look forward to seeing you at Dad2.0. I am going to be moderating the "Everything is Negotiable... Until it Isn't" panel, (which is coincidentally very related to this post) so please check it out. If you can’t make it, follow all the activity as it happens by following the #dad2summit hashtag. 

My procrastination means that Mini Hornit is the entire BusyDad Gift Guide

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 9.29.57 PM.png

A few months ago, I got a pitch for a cool kids' gadget. It's called the Mini Hornit, and it's a bicycle horn/light that makes a bunch of different sounds and lights. I usually would have passed on it, but all the kids had coincidentally acquired new bikes this year, so I sent an email back that said something along the lines of "this is really cool, but unless you can send me five, there will be bickering." That usually thwarts my having to open this blog and put words in it. But not this time. They sent me five. Man! Foiled by generosity.

So here I am, months later. I've procrastinated long enough, but in fairness to me, this is so much better than a random October post. Nobody buys reasonably priced gadgets that fit in stockings in October. And although you'd like to think that you've done that by mid December, I'll just wink at you and tell you about the discount code "busydad" that will get you 10% off your order. No, I don't make any money off these (or this post, for that matter). I'm just a nice guy, with kids who have bikes, who happens to write slow. 

You can say that by default, this Mini Hornit post is my holiday gift guide. Who needs choices at this time of year? We simply want to be done. Just watch this video, because I came up with a ton more uses for this than simply putting it on your kid's bike. However, I take no responsibility for the usefulness of these hacks, or if you get sued by the Dukes Of Hazzard. Don't even try to understand that last sentence, per usual.

So Merry Christmas, etc. Happy New Year and good luck! Remember, use the discount code busydad for 10% off your order. This is a fun gift, even if you don't use it to snack shame your kids. 

The OneDay App is really a diabolical time machine disguised as an easy movie maker

Tracking Pixel

Don’t be fooled! There’s an app out there called the OneDay App. It’s this free app that supposedly helps you create really cool “interview” movies of your loved ones answering questions without requiring any editing skills whatsoever. In fact, you do it all via your smartphone. They asked me to try it out and even compensated me for it (for those of you more comfortable with legalese, “the following post is a sponsored piece of content” and for those more comfortable with Jim-ese “I played with a wicked cool app and will now entertain you with content I made with it while I enjoy this beer that I didn’t have to pay for and I think that’s a win-win, don’t you?”).  After I said ok, I discovered too late that this app is actually an ultra powerful time machine and you should use it at your own risk! Since I was committed to writing something, consider the following post my expose on this perilous time traveling piece of techno-wizardry!

It started out just fine. I downloaded the app to see what it was all about. As they promised, it was pretty easy. You can choose from a number of question sets (divided into seasonal, and then life stages such as baby/toddlers and kids, all the way to older folks).  Since Lessi was within arm’s reach, I sat her down and began to interview her, using the “Personality” question set under the Babies/Toddlers section. I hit the record button as each question flashed across the screen. When I was done recording her answers, the app strung the questions, answers and even background music together into a coherent video that I could now share on social media or email. 

Related aside: I have Super8 camcorder videotapes of Fury from age 3-6 that are still sitting in a box waiting to be edited and sent around to relatives. He’s 12 now. 

Lessi, however, won the technology game and now has this to show for it:

One good video deserved another. Here’s Lilz, showing us her comedic acting chops:

Wicked awesome right? Well, I got bold and started perusing some other question sets. Being over 40, I decided to check out the interview “About Your 40’s and 50’s” under the adult section. However, instead of turning the camera on myself, I decided to experiment on Fury and TXU. This is when things took an unexpected turn. All of a sudden, lightning bolts hit the clocktower, a phone booth with George Carlin appeared, and these two guys emerged. Since I had the app open, I decided “why the hell not?” and let the camera roll.

Who knew that jumping to age forty gave you a southern accent?

Since their answers at 40 were definitely more entertaining than any stories I could regale you with, I decided to move on. If asking the boys questions for 40 year olds jumped them forward in time, that meant that asking myself questions meant for a baby would…

If you watched the above video, you are more starved for entertainment than I thought. Also, I am sorry.

Crazy can’t-unseeable time travel moments aside, one thing’s for sure. The OneDay App is simple to use, and when kids (and grown-ups too, I guess) grow as fast as they do, catching all that in a fun, scrapbooky format is the best way to make sure that you don’t have to resort to time machines to remember days and memories gone by. Right now OneDay just published its Christmas questions set. I know you haven’t gotten around to sending your cards out yet. Don’t fret – make a video instead and send it around. You’re welcome. Will someone now please soak my binky in JD?

The FTC would like me to remind you that this indeed was a sponsored post, to which you just undoubtedly said to yourself “they PAID for that?” and went and downloaded it because you felt so bad for OneDay, but then kept using it because wow SO EASY and SO COOL.

Fried Chicken Fried Rice. Y'all.

This is going to be one of those dishes that everyone takes for granted at every county fair in the year 2029, and someone will decide to wikipedia its origins and they will find this blog post. It's so humbling to be a part of culinary history that hasn't yet happened. Reckless fusion leads to wonderful things, sometimes.

There's no story behind this - only circumstances.

  • Circumstance #1: four pieces of leftover fried chicken, and no creative way left to coax anyone into eating them.
  • Circumstance #2: cheap dad who refuses to throw food away simply for the sake of maintaining variety on the menu.
  • Circumstance #3: a mess of rice that was a tad undercooked but not ruined enough to throw away. 
  • Circumstance #4: fried rice master in tha house.

Step 1: Tear the meat off the fried chicken and don't leave any of the crispy chunks of breading behind. Who cares if they are not attached to any meat. You want this. Then chop it all up.

Step 2: Chop up some pre-cooked bacon (10-150 slices, depending). Because.

photo 2.JPG.jpeg

Step 3: In a wok or deep pan, scramble up some eggs (4-5) in more oil than you are comfortable with. Also, add salt to the egg. Again, more than you are comfortable with. The egg is what pops you with that surprise flavor in fried rice, so you want it turnt up with salt. You're cooking up a recipe with the word "fried" in it twice. Do yourself a favor and stop worrying. Then remove from wok.

Step 4: Add a generous glug more oil. I told you shut your mouth about it. Dump the chopped up fried chicken and bacon into that wok. Heat it all up and get some sear going. Fat on fat violence makes for wonderful aromas wafting through your kitchen. 

Step 5: Make a hole in the middle of all that and pour in a splash of oil. Add in about one bunch-worth of chopped scallion. Let that scallion swim in the oil pool, touching the metal so it too sears. There's your green. Balance has been achieved. 

Step 6: Dump the rice in and move it in a chopping/scooping motion with a solid spatula. Relentlessly. Most plastic spatulas won't cut it. You need backbone, so use wood or metal. You want as much air getting into this mess as possible. Clumps of rice = failure. 

Step 7: Add the cooked egg and keep chopping/scooping until the eggs are in little tiny pieces.


Step 8: Step back, wipe the sweat from your brow (if your heartbeat isn't going at 80% by the time you're done, you're not doing it right), admire your creation, and serve.


Step 9: Satiate the peoples' appetite.


Let the record show that 3 out of 5 kids asked for seconds. This also garnered one enthusiastic high five. 

Shannon and I are not pictured in the above because we are trying not to eat starches. We had not yet decided what to cook for our dinner. To make sure this dish was as epic as I had imagined it would be, I tried one bite out of stash in the wok as the kids dined. Then Shannon tried a bite. Then in the spirit of the scientific method, I took another sample bite. 

"I figured out what we're going to do for dinner," she said. 


"We're going to stand here in front of the stove and not eat this fried rice."

And that we did.


Run, Dad, Run; or Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse; or Men's Wearhouse should sponsor my marathon bid

I couldn't decide on a title for this post. Mostly because I am dehydrated and sore. Also, the blisters. So many blisters. They mock my near-fail of a promise I made to myself when I became a dad. That promise was that in the event of a catastrophic civilization-altering event, I would be able to protect my loved ones and ensure that we at least would outlive our neighbors. This is the reason I did Muay Thai into my 40's. This is why I endured Crossfit. This is why I have always held myself to the standard of "I need to be able to vanquish anyone within a 100-foot radius of me at any given time." Don't believe me? Watch my eyes if you are ever in a room with me. Those are the eyes of someone plotting the quickest way to neutralize every human being around me, should the necessity ever arise.

That said, I almost let myself down today.

It started with a simple decision I made this morning. I elected to forgo the kick scooter I usually take with me to work in favor of walking the mile from the train station to my office. I was dressed in wingtips, a nice blazer and I even tucked the shirt in. Definitely not scootin' attire. This was important client meeting attire. 

The meeting went well, and my choice in clothing was duly complimented by several parties, further validating my decisions of the day. I got back on the train to pick Lessi up from preschool, just like always. Except today was not like always. 

One stop away from the train station where I parked my car, the conductor made the announcement that they were kicking everyone off. Structural problems, she said. They made no special bus arrangements, she said. You're all on your own. 

I was one of the lucky ones, as I was only two miles from where I was supposed to get off the train anyway. Any other day, this would be a nice opportunity to go on a brisk walk and enjoy a serendipitous walking tour of suburban California. But today, not really. Thirty minutes and counting until the pick-up cut-off at Lessi's school. 

No worries, I could just Ubercab it to the next train stop. Whoops. No Ubercab service in suburban California. And the few minutes it took me to reach that conclusion pretty much killed my chances of catching a regular cab. It also killed 10 minutes off that clock. Why did I leave the scooter at home again?

"Twenty minutes. Two miles to the garage. Car parked on the 6th floor. Daughter waiting at pre-school. It's not the apocalypse, but it looks like you're gonna have to put your back into this one." It's been a while since I've done any running, but I thought muscle memory would serve me well. Turns out it did. My form was great. However lungs are not a muscle, and they actually have really below-average memory. Also, my decision to keep my blazer on to keep it from wrinkling wasn't the best idea either. And backpacks with laptops in them are hard to run with. Or maybe it's the lack of sport foam in wing tip dress shoes. Whatever the reason, none of that was working with me on this otherwise beautiful 80-degree day. 

At around the 3/4 mile mark (precision courtesy of Google Maps after the fact), my aversion to wrinkled blazers gave way to my aversion to death by heatstroke. The blazer went into the backpack. Quarter mile later, the dress shirt, so exquisitely tucked not more than 20 minutes prior, flapped free in the wind, unbuttoned, even the cuffs. If you're going to look like the mild-mannered protagonist in a spy thriller who just unwittingly discovered a government conspiracy and is now running from the secret police with the incriminating floppy disc in your backpack (movie fantasies can take place in the eighties, you know), I say own it!

Time was running out, things were hurting, and my spirits were low. This was the Presidential Fitness Test version of succumbing to zombies before my neighbors. I decided to capture my farewell on Vine. 

But fate works in funny ways. As I was resigning myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it, I spied a lone figure jogging toward me from the opposite direction. He was a tall man with a short beard. His gait was effortless, his face reassuring. As we approached one another, he raised his hand, and I raised mine. As we high-fived mid-stride, he said "you got this, man!" 

That was all it took. My rhythm came back, my limbs enjoyed a shot of adrenaline and my burning lungs powered through and delivered. I made it to the parking garage with five minutes left. Three minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot of Lessi's school. 

"You look really yucky, dada!" was the first thing Lessi said. But her smile, and the fact that there were other kids still there left stranded by the train mishap, made me realize that at least for today, I rescued her from the zombies. 


BlackBerry Z30 vs. My iPhone: The Grudge Match

A few years ago, I completed part I of a BlackBerry review. I really liked it at first, but then as time wore on, I invoked the mercy rule and skipped part II. Let's just say that until "Let It Go" came along, there was nothing I associated more with the word Frozen than the BlackBerry Bold 9900.

I went from a BB Army loyalist to a hater. And that's when the iPhone that I got through work filled that void perfectly. Life went on, BlackBerry was behind me. Then this happened:


Disclosure: this BlackBerry Z30 didn't just show up at my door with a challenge match in mind. It was sent to me by one of my favorite PR people whom I haven't heard from in forever, and it seemed like a fitting way to end the BlackBerry saga once and for all, so I took the challenge (i.e. hey, free phone for my kid after i'm done with it!). There was much catching up involved, but no payment, and no promises. Just a fair shot at redemption. I'm all about a good fight. 

As you know, if you've read my blog, I am not a reviewer. I'm not a tech writer. If you landed here because I skillfully SEO'd BlackBerry Z30, click the back button and refine your search to "CNET BlackBerry Z30" for a more educational result.

This is a down and dirty review based upon things that are important to ME. I like to eat bugs and wear shock collars from time to time. Just managing expectations here.


No! No it doesn't!! I dragged this post out more than two months, which gave me ample time to catch it freezing up on me. It never even froze once. My iPhone also doesn't freeze, so we'll call this a draw. It is a very satisfying, redeeming, meaningful draw, however, given my history with BlackBerry.


The reason I have always liked the BlackBerry was because of the real keyboard. I still prefer this over any touch system. That's why I was really sad when I saw that the new line dropped the real keyboard. However, BlackBerry has incorporated a very impressive predictive text system that I think has massive potential. As you type, the keyboard displays words that it thinks you might be trying to type. In addition, these words are displayed above the next letter that you are likely to type, so you don't have to look for them. When you see the right word, you swipe it upward to accept. Here's an example. 

I wanted to see if this innovation would translate into actual time savings on the keyboard so I typed a blurb from a Baken-Ets pork rind bag because that was sitting next to my computer, and I just injured my back yesterday so I cannot move to go find something else to transcribe, and no, your name doesn't have to be Bubba to love pork rinds, and aren't you glad I'm not eating bugs?

So... given all that, I timed myself typing out a paragraph from the back of the bag, using my iPhone and my Z30 predictive text. As it turns out, my time with the iPhone was 1 min, 30 seconds in trial #1 and 1:28 in trial #2. With the Z30, the times were 2:38 and 2:02 respectively.

While this might seem like clear victory for the iPhone, there are a couple factors involved: 

  • I'm very used to my iPhone keyboard.
  • Z30 has autocorrect like iPhone does and during these two months I've been largely ignoring the predictive text and typing iPhone style because I am a creature of habit, so this was my first attempt at consciously relying on predictive text.
  • There was more than an immediate 30-second improvement from trial #1 to trial #2, which says to me getting used to predictive text isn't that hard. 

So the jury is still out on which system is in fact, better. Too many outside considerations that are not the Z30's fault. I can say, however, that they are both better than the Droid swype system. Man, I hated that when I had a Droid. In fact, I hated everything about the Droid. 


Z30 wins hands-down on this one. Some of my favorite features of the Z30 include the following things that my iPhone cannot do:

  • Message hub: while the iPhone can display your emails from various accounts together in one stream, the Z30 can display that plus your texts, call notifications, BBM messenger messages (I miss BBM - and it's sad I had no one to test BBM with during these two months), social media notifications (which you can set on or off) in one place. I think the Droid platform can also do this, but I hate Droids, so who cares.
  • Priority hub: this is a brilliant feature. This is a view that shows only your most important messages, as deemed by an algorithm at first (people with your last name, people you reply to, etc) but over time can be configured by you (you can manually designate any sender as priority, or un-prioritize them, when you are reading their email/text). 
  • Attachment view: you can hit a button and view a list of all attachments that have been sent to you. No need to find that email, open it, and download the attachment. 


The BlackBerry Z30 wins here too, simply because you don't have to use iTunes. iTunes is the devil. A really confusing, temperamental, arbitrary devil. iTunes is a necessary evil that you have to put up with to use Apple products. They design such good products at Apple, so why does iTunes have to suck so bad? Z30 wins by virtue of the fact that it's not iTunes. 

There's some really cool features that make it intuitive to synch files and share media over a wireless network, but honestly, all that is overshadowed by the feature I affectionately call "not #$*^%$ iTunes." 


As a parent, this function is of utmost importance to me. I want to be able to take good pictures with my phone. So how does the BlackBerry Z30 fare here? Let me break it down:

Quality: when your subject holds still, the pictures come out great. Here's a picture of Lessi that I took:

That looks as good as any iPhone pic. However, I did have to take more pictures with the BlackBerry than I usually do with the iPhone to get this picture because the BlackBerry doesn't do well with motion. Pictures came out blurry a lot of the time. It also doesn't do well with low light conditions, something I know the iPhone is really great at. 

However, the BlackBerry Z30 comes with something that can help alleviate the need to take multiple pictures to get just the right one, and this is my number one WOW feature of the BlackBerry: Time Shift mode. Time shift mode is a function where the camera takes a bunch of consecutive pictures rather than just one when you press the shutter. You can then toggle each person's face separately along that timeline to find the right moment you want to immortalize on the picture. 

Wait. What? That made no sense. I know, I didn't get it either when I first read about it, so I filmed the process to better illustrate what I mean. This is worth watching because it's some sick innovation.

Right? Essentially, it lets you change history and create pictures that technically never existed. When your phone can violate the space time continuum so flippantly, you're got something quite powerful at your disposal. 

Another notable feature is the sound quality on the Z30. The speakers are way better than those of the iPhone. I say if you're going to annoy your family with your favorite Hall & Oates chart toppers, you might as well provide them with the highest quality audio for their suffering pleasure.


This has always been the weakness of BlackBerry, in my opinion. Even if the iPhone is technically inferior, and Droids are the saddest excuse for technology, they still have way more apps than the BlackBerry. While I am lucky in that the apps I use are either available for BlackBerry (Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, Ubercab) or have 3rd party versions (iGrann for Instagram), I recognize that the average smartphone user might feel constrained when using a BlackBerry. 

What I can tell you though is that BlackBerry recently partnered with the Amazon App Store to bring 200,000+ apps to BlackBerry, including Netflix, Pinterest and Minecraft. That may even out the playing field a little more. Amazon is kind of a big deal.

For now, I have to give iPhone the edge on this, but the gap is closing. 


I really missed a few things when I switched to the iPhone. One of them was the red blinking LED light whenever I got an email or notification on my BlackBerry. I have to say it was nice having that back. I also REALLY missed the back button. Things seemed to operate in a more linear fashion with BlackBerry because of the back button. You simply hit 'back' to go back to where you just were. With the iPhone, you have to hit home first, then open the app you were just on. It's annoying. The iPhone doesn't have any equivalent comfort features that other phones lack, except maybe the free Apple sticker. Status is comfort, right?


The Z30 never dies! It's incredible, the endurance that it has. I can't say the same for my iPhone. Z30 is the clear winner in this department. I carry an external battery with me all day and it just looks like an iColostomy bag when my iPhone is attached to it. 


While I do love my iPhone and will continue to use it because it was issued to me from my work, I have to say that I am totally impressed with the BlackBerry Z30. Aside from its inability to take pictures of subjects in motion, I really had no gripes with it, and when going head-to-head against my iPhone, it actually came out on top for pretty much everything else. 

So the question remains, did BlackBerry win back my affections? I have to say YES, in a big way. 

And with that a new question arises. You think it can win YOU over? One of you lucky folks is going to find that out, actually. I am giving one BlackBerry Z30 away (or you can choose the Q10 if you are a hardcore keyboard loyalist). For a chance to win, all I ask you to do is tell me what phone you have now and what about it irks you. I'll give you one week to submit your comments and choose a winner randomly Sunday, August 17 at 9pm PST.

Hitting below the sash

The above picture represents a typical car ride on my days with the kids. I pick them up from school, and we crawl through rush hour traffic for an hour to my house. Fury is out cold. Growth spurts and tween malaise, they knock you out. Lessi usually spends the hour singing "Let It Go" in the back seat and/or asking me questions that make less sense as the hour wears on. Or, she does like the above and gets cranky about something. 

The other day, it was her sock. It was a little too big. So she took it off and dropped it on the floor. She asked me to pick it up, so I fished my hand behind the seat to do so, and promptly handed it back to her, at which point she dropped it again, so I fished my hand behind the seat again, and promptly handed it to her, at which point she dropped it ag---- hey!! 

I refused to give in to her demands. Cue tantrum. Not sure if you know this about me, but I am tantrum proof. I can smile through any little person's crying and yelling. Cue plan B: dada button pushing.

"I don't like the freeway!"

I chuckle.

"I don't like being four! I want to be three again!" 

I admire her for really thinking these through.

"I don't like Krispy Kreme!"

Smart - rebuking our special treat. Cute.


I think this counts as her first TKO victory.

Parent Developmental Milestones (with apologies to

Want to know if your baby is going to achieve better than a 3.25 GPA during his junior year in college? You can extrapolate that by calculating how many days plus or minus 3.25 months old he was able to roll to his tummy from his back. The internet has it all figured out, don’t you fret. But knowing where your kid stands is only half the picture. What about your own milestones? Have development experts figured out when exactly you overcome the aversion to licking your thumb to wipe that crusty toothpaste from the corner of your son's mouth as you drop him off at school? Science has left us parents to benchmark these milestones on our own, apparently. So with graph paper in hand, here goes.

Babycenter, take notice. I'm going to get the ball rolling. Take over whenever you'd like. 

Age 0-1:

What a time of discovery! As your child begins to make sense of his world, his own senses will become more acute. He will even begin to hear his own crying. That's fascinating for him! It drives everyone else crazy - except for you because nature equipped you with the Bose effect. A parent's ability to tune out the frequency of their own child's prolonged wailing in the car or at Target is an evolutionary wonder. Or maybe it's a symptom of waking up at 3:30 a.m. Research still pending... 

Dexterity is another wondrous new skill that marks this stage of your life. Your new parent fingers can now confidently cradle all sorts of things, namely squishy, runny, warm ones to the nearest trash can, or out the car window. In rudimentary stages of development, you may bring your fingers up to your nose in curiosity afterwards, but you soon learn that some things are better left conveniently smeared on your jeans and forgotten. Don’t think this is a skill? A Crossfit guy can roll a monster truck tire 50 yards without puking. Have him try this with a travel-sized Kleenex filled with four ounces of chunky fresh spit-up. Paleo lunch cleanup in aisle four.

In her first year, as your child begins to develop an understanding of words and language, reading to her helps her understand the complexities of this essential life skill. What she doesn't yet understand are the complexities of the Dexter plot that’s starting in 3 minutes, so your parental brain develops the amazing workaround of making up shorter sentences, or changing the story entirely as you flip through the pages really fast. 

Age 1-3:

Your little one is becoming so mobile! As he starts exploring his world, he will step in, pick up and smear everything. It’s about this time that you’ll notice yourself digging deeper into that Starbucks napkin dispenser to grab a fat stack of paper. You will use one and jam the rest of that pile into your glove box. Daily. You will also find yourself strategically placing wipes containers where you live, work and play. Squirrels do this with acorns. 

Just as spawning salmon are able to navigate winding tributaries using some kind of magnetic magic or whatever to get to their spawning grounds, you will also develop an innate skill that will enable you to navigate through your environment. The collective knowledge of every public restroom with a decent changing table will somehow be imprinted in your brain like a Borg Thomas Guide and your travels will hopscotch with the efficiency that only nature could have masterminded. Also, changing a baby on your lap once is like getting grazed by a grizzly claw. You never forget that. 

Fairies, scary bears, firefighters or superheroes. Your toddler is starting to understand the concept of pretend. You’ll notice that you will also naturally transition into pretend mode as you play dress up, cars, or whatever the fantasy of the day might be. Your newfound ability to pretend really shines when it comes to music. “YAY! Let’s listen to the Frozen song, AGAIN! YAY!” you’ll say with nary a tinge of disingenuity. You will be tested, however. His name is Calliou. You will want to erase him with the cheap eraser that rips the paper he’s drawn on. Let it go. Let it go…

Age 4-8:

Your child is growing bigger and stronger! She can run, jump and frolic. It seems like every time you turn around, she grows another inch. Well, did you know that you too are growing stronger? It may not manifest itself on a growth chart, but your strength is in your footing, literally. You’ve been stepping on errant Legos and plastic jewelry for quite some time now and you’ve developed a pain tolerance that Amazonian shamans envy. When one of your younger parent friends steps on a Lego and shrieks in pain, you will enjoy stomping on it, bringing your foot up, plucking the brick out of the deep indent in your foot, and placing it gently into your friend’s palm. 

A child’s developing palate is a thing of wonder. Too bad most kids won’t acquire a taste for nuclear hot wings for a couple more life stages. That’s ok. By this stage in your own development, your palate has adapted to accommodate your body’s need to efficiently turn leftover kids’ meals into fuel for the body. The half eaten chicken nuggets, cold mac and cheese, oatmeal with two bites taken out of it, and PBJ sandwich crusts that would turn a young man’s stomach are now simply your way of cleaning up, fueling up and saving for college tuition. 

It’s amazing to watch your child’s social skills come into full bloom at this stage. She learns to make friends, share toys, take turns and hone all the skills that will be essential for success later in life. Essential for everything except birthday parties, that is. There’s nothing that prepares you for the social agony that is a birthday party you have to attend with your kid. Luckily, your ability to numb the pain kicks in naturally around the time you attend your first one. With the instinct of a predator, you will locate the one lame gazelle in the pack. He is usually wearing a fanny pack. You will randomly glance at him and think “at least I’m not that guy” throughout the party to make yourself feel better. Your brain will also hyper-focus on your child to make every goldfish cracker eaten, every piñata whiff, and every facepaint whisker a thing of amazement and wonder. You will take pictures. You will say “that IS a frosting flower on that cupcake! That’s so awesome!” When you see parents hovering alongside their kids at a birthday party, it’s not for safety. They’re just trying not to go insane with boredom, or worse, engage in forced kid-party socialization with other miserable parents. And they never serve beer. 

Age 9-12:

As children enter this stage in their development, they are making the transition from childhood to adolescence. Many psychological and physiological changes are occurring at this time, which may make it difficult to make certain choices. Clothing and music, being the two of them. This is a hotly contested theory because the other school of developmental thought postulates that it is the parents who lose their ability to recognize, buy or understand what good clothes and music are. Whichever one holds true, our advice is if you avoid Hot Topic, most crises arising out of this life stage can be averted. 

And that brings us to puberty and teenagers. We’re going to need a lot more graph paper and Febreeze for this. Science can wait.

Works like magic, but the goodness is real: #7billionliters campaign

First, I would like to acknowledge that Fury turned 12 a couple days ago. Happy birthday, son! I started this blog when he was five. I have been blogging for an entire dog year, and Fury has been a very patient video sidekick. To celebrate, I am working on a highlight reel of his best video moments, but that won't be done until the weekend. You're getting this important post instead, for now.

As you may know, I keep a separation of church and state on my blog. I seldom cover my clients' stuff on this blog. But I also know that 9 out of 10 churches and states agree that clean water for children in third world countries is a good thing. So Mr. Presipope, do the honors...

Proctor & Gamble has been providing clean water to kids for some time now. This year, they hit the milestone of delivering their 7 billionth liter. To celebrate, they are donating an additional liter from now until April 22 every time someone uses the hashtag #7billionliters on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. 

How did they do this? With the help of a simple magic packet -- one that I coerced them into giving me so I could spend the afternoon drinking dirty creek water and getting away with it. Of course I made a video of it. I drank dirty creek water and I'm alive and hydrated!

So check this out, be amazed at science, and help get more liters of clean water to kids by using the hashtag #7billionliters as MUCH AS YOU WANT from now until April 22 to donate additional liters of water.

Do it for Fury's birthday! 

I didn't need a Pebble, just like I didn't need a cell phone

Remember when cell phones first came out and you were like "I'll only use this in an emergency, so it'll go in the glove compartment." You know you said that. When smartphones first came out, you also said "who needs email so bad that you have to check it on your phone, Mr. I'm-So-Important." That's just the way things go. When scary new technology comes out, our reaction is to say we've lived this long without it, so it's probably not necessary. Then we pop a Starbucks K-cup in our Keurig and binge watch House of Cards on Netflix.

A few months ago, Fury asked me for a Pebble for his upcoming birthday. That's the only reason it rang a bell when I was offered one, courtesy of AT&T.


Disclosure: I wasn't paid any money to wear this thing on my wrist for the past two months. Having this scary technology to play with for the rest of its (or my) life was the only compensation I got. I need to stop signing my life away like this, or at the very least negotiate some beer into the deal. 

What's done is done.  

Since actually using a Pebble seemed to be the best way to vet this gadget as a potential birthday present, I saw this as serendipitous. And my son saw this as "aw come on, dad! For real?" when I proudly showed him the Pebble on my wrist, just a short time after learning of its existence -- from him. Come to think of it, he also had the same reaction when he visited my office the other day and saw the Boba Fett and frozen Han Solo Squinkies displayed on my filing cabinet. He got Star Wars Squinkies in his stocking, but dad snagged the really good ones from of the assortment pack. Dad gets the big piece of chicken

But I digress. This is about my life with the Pebble smartwatch, a device that has taken an accessory that has remained essentially unchanged -- aside from a few years of glory in the 80's when someone threw a calculator on them as a way to tag people whose lunch money was easiest to steal -- and fundamentally changed the way we interact with it.

Like the first smartphone detractor, I too thought "I can't really think of a reason why I'd need something on my wrist that tells me what's coming through my cell phone, which sits less than a foot away in my pocket."  Now that I've been using this thing since February, I can tell you why (to the great relief of the PR rep who sent me the watch, who is probably now thinking "took you long enough - this better be good, Mr Busy Guy"). Aside from the fact that it's actually pretty cool to read your texts and emails on your watch, here are some other reasons I never saw coming.

Rejecting Calls

I usually carry my phone in my pocket, so when someone calls me, I actually need to reach in my pocket, take out my phone, see who it is, and then decide whether or not answer it. By that time, I've invested so much movement into the endeavor that I may as well answer it. With the Pebble, the scenario goes like this: you feel the Pebble vibrate, you look at your watch like you're checking the time, see who it is, then press a button on the Pebble to reject it. Phone stays in your pocket. The rejection power-to-effort ROI on this thing is incredible!

Cooking in Peace

I'm sure they'll cover it in a Cosmos episode one day, but there's this universal law that states that the number of calls and texts you get is inversely proportional to the difficulty level of the food you are trying to prepare at the moment. I always get calls, texts or pings when I'm cutting meat, handling flour or doing something equally messy. Being the kind of person I am, if I ignore that missive, I will drive myself crazy, thinking "I really should check that voicemail/text/@reply/comment/email right NOW!" So instead, I drop what I'm doing, wash my hands, dry them, reach into my pocket and look at my phone. Most of the time, I realize it was a waste of time and paper towels. But of course, the one call I miss will be the one time George Lucas decides to dial a random person and offer him the part of Boba Fett in the next Star Wars movie, because that's what he does! I know it! With the Pebble, I can just look at my watch and know exactly what I'm missing while my hands are covered in cow blood. And if it happens to be George, I won't recognize the number and I will miss his call anyway because I never pick up random inbound calls. And that's probably why I'll never be Boba Fett. But let's say it's someone I would wash cow blood off my hands for, and they also happen to be in my contacts, like Shannon. Not a waste of paper towels. 


You know when you're expecting a call, but it doesn't come in, so you go take a shower, and then the moment you start shampooing, you hear the phone ring, so you rush out of the shower all sudsy and drippy, and look at the phone and it's someone else, and now your phone is wet, the floor is flooded and you hate the world? That won't happen with the Pebble. You'd know it wasn't that call because you'd see the caller ID on your watch. Keep enjoying your shower, my friend. Also, how can you hate the world when you can play Tetris in the shower?

Being Covert

There are lots of times when you can't really take your phone out and check it. The Pebble lets you do this. The game changing use case for me is the movie theater. You can check your texts and see who's calling you without taking out your phone. This way, if you feel that it's worth stepping out to reply, you can do so. This is great for playing hooky from work. KIDDING! I am glued to my work... by passion! But speaking of work, meetings are a great place for Pebble. No matter what it's for, taking your cell phone out during a meeting is kind of a dickish move. Looking at your watch (well, unless you are looking at it every 3 min, and look very bored) isn't that conspicuous. Pro-Tip: no matter how funny the text, laughing while looking at your watch might be construed as suspect. Make sure to point at some random person in the room while you do it. 


Did you know that you can control the music on your phone with the Pebble? I know it, and use it to my advantage. The other day, leaned in to give Shannon a kiss. With the click of a button, the phone on my nightstand played "Kiss On My List." Note: Pebble merely provides the technology. Mad wooing skills are up to you. 

Messing with Kids

There are tons of cool apps you can download onto your Pebble. One of them is a remote control for LG TVs. I happen to have an LG TV, and some victims. Here's the set-up for the video below: TXU and Brendan are watching TV and they have no idea I can control the volume with my watch. I have too much fun pitting them against one another:

Boba Fett

You can download tons of cool watch faces onto your Pebble and you can switch them on the fly. But I ask you this: if you have this one, why would you ever need to?

The verdict on Fury getting a Pebble? Maybe not this year. With great power comes great distraction, and if this thing can distract me in such wonderful ways at 41, I cannot imagine what it can do to a soon-to-be 12-year-old. One day, perhaps grasshopper will be able to snatch this Pebble from my wrist. Then he will be ready.

(If you know me at all, you know that the whole reason I agreed to do this experiment was to be able to weave that last line into my blog.)

On Standing Ovations and Hairstyling

If you want to be at the center of controversy these days, here how you do it: become a dad, have a daughter, style her hair, then sit back and watch the fireworks. You might get hearty applause because you're bustin' stereotypes and representing the new generation of involved dads. On the other hand, you could get internet rocks thrown at you because why should you get credit for something that moms do thanklessly each and every day? 

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's one story. And here's the other

Idiotic racist comments from the first story aside, I understand the conflict. I get it that moms do these things each day without applause, and if a man does it, isn't it just as much his job? Yes, yes it is. I completely agree, and so do you -- if you subscribe to that premise. The reality, however, is that we're far from internalizing that premise as a society. Applauding such acts, as mundane and everyday as they are, is our collective way of telling the world that more of this should happen. Not in the moralistic sense, but in the "why the hell don't we see more of this" sense. Sure, one guy ends up getting a frustratingly disproportionate amount credit for one small everyday thing, but I don't care about him. I care that the applause sends a signal to the greater world that we should encourage more of this, because there certainly is a shortage. We should applaud now, so that dads doing their daughters' hair, or moms throwing a football with their sons, or dads taking over the kitchen is no big deal, as it should be. So no, I don't think that dad deserved a standing ovation for making a perfect bun. But I think society needed that applause to push us all in the direction that we should be barreling toward.

Actually, change that. He does deserve a standing ovation, from me at least. Because seriously:


I can have poop cleanup down to a science. I can slay fools in the kitchen. I can even perform doll surgery. This hair stuff? 


It's a cry for help. 


The Easy Button couldn't even help me with that last one. #binderclip


I'm getting there though, I promise. 


... with a little help.

Propaganda! Is! Revolutionary! And! Effective!

Welcome to the new epoch of The Busy Dad Blog! I would like to avail myself of this auspicious occasion to provide a state of our union to you, the people's voice of parenting. 

There is a new look and feel to the site. Some may call it a rebranding. I would call it a reinvigorated purpose. A new glorious pathway. One that required diligent effort and much Photoshop. Please give Ashley Mattocks your credit (which she can exchange for chocolate and VCRs) for her dedicated guidance.

You may have also noticed a new central committee. This consists of my new Minister of the Interior, Exterior and everything in between, Shannon and those who will henceforth be referred to as "The Gang of Five." Their dossiers have been vetted, approved and available in this website's About section. 

As with any transitional administration, forging a smooth path to compliance is wrought with bends in the road, if "bends in the road" means the Great Wall of Laundry or enough dirty dishes to line the Marxist-Leninist pathway. While any self-respecting benevolent, great leader always has labor camp at his disposal, there's not much demand in my neighborhood for freshly smelted iron. To my dismay. So instead, I decided to rely on best practices established by luminaries before me to inform, invigorate, and comply: colorful and inspiring posters!

We have a glass problem here, in that children have short memory spans when it comes to cups. When liquid enters their bodies to refresh and replenish, cups get abandoned and forgotten. An average citizen should consume eight cups of liquid per day to remain communally viable. But nowhere in the doctrine does it state eight different cups. They must therefore be corrected.


A full pantry is a sign of prosperity. However, it must be clarified that "full" is defined as full of edible staples. An empty Oreo package, as expertly resealed as it is, cannot be used to fuel our movement. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step toward the trash can, and maybe five more to complete the assignment. Our trash can even opens on its own. I treat the people right. 


When you spend your time toiling to advance the cause, or build that five-story underground fortress on Minecraft, you will need to wash the bourgeoisie spatter off your body. The agenda cannot progress on Axe alone. 


While any leader would be more than proud of accomplishments that challenge the infrastructure that the short-sighted elite have set in stone and porcelain, it is unbecoming of visionaries like me to jam a toilet snake into said infrastructure. 


Every revolution is a struggle for power. However, I would rather exert our collective effort in wresting it from the ruling class than writing a big check to the electric company. 


We thank you for your support and compliance. Or else.

You might be suffering from this fake disease, so watch my fake ad

Cell Displacia is no laughing matter. In fact, with 80 million victims each year in the US alone, you or someone you love may be suffering from it right now. So consider the ad below more of a PSA than an advertisement. Actually, the FTC requires that you consider it sponsored content for Asurion (the folks who have found a way to alleviate the symptoms of Cell Displacia by replacing your mobile device) . May I suggest that you just consider it another opportunity for me to do things like juggle flaming cell phones, wear duct tape underwear, jump off cars on a skateboard and generally put myself in harm's way for your amusement? Because that one makes the most sense. 

How to make fried rice without messing it up

I rarely send you elsewhere. However, since I rarely write now, due to my life being even busier than when I first coined my blog name, I'm going to send you to the place that made me this way. I'm in no way bitter about it, however. Ketchum PR has made me happier than I have ever been. I've found a job that lets me be me (and, bonus, they like that!), challenges my skills, and lets me have fun. They also push a drink cart through the corridor every once in a while. Ketchum, you get me. They also just launched a food blog. There's a lot of us at Ketchum who love food, so it was only a matter of time. This weekend, I contributed a post that teaches the proper technique for flawless fried rice. 

For longtime readers of this blog, you may remember that I wrote a Manifesto about fried rice a couple years ago. I've since mellowed out a bit, and that has evolved into a Tao. But the knowledge is still worth dropping, and my opinions are still bullheaded. And I still make fried rice better than your mama. So click over and read. 

The Tao of Fried Rice, on Ketchum PR's food blog, @ppetite.

The bleak reality of a lost cell phone

Disclosure: I found overly sad music for the video, so it's not as armageddony as the soundtrack might lead you to believe. But it is a major pain to lose or break your phone. Also, no children were (permanently) hurt during the filming of this video. And yes that was a real machete, but it was really dull. Also, I almost didn't do this sponsored post because I thought "is cell phone insurance that relevant to me?" and then I remembered that this is Shannon's phone:

And while I was trying to think up an idea for this video, I removed the cover on my phone to wipe some grit off. Turns out it wasn't grit, it was phone shards.

Since I could not take a picture of my own phone, I asked Brendan to snap the above picture for me, at which point I noticed his phone:

In case cracked phones are getting a little old for you, here's our latest exhibit of relevance from the other day:

We are well qualified to represent that sample of the cell phone using population for whom cell phone insurance provided by Asurion would be a smart decision for us, and nothing but regret for Asurion. But that's not what I'm here for. I'm here to show you a video that we made to illustrate what a drag it is to lose your cell phone

The following is optional, but interesting. Here's some surprising facts I learned about this topic while working with Asurion on this project:

  • $5 billion worth of cell phones are lost or stolen every year. $400 of that is sitting at the bottom of a reservoir in Southern CA. Yeah, that was me. And yes, Asurion replaced it way before they approached me for this.
  • If you have one of the popular cell phones, just know that your chances of it being stolen or lost is 35% higher. Lost probably should be in quotes here.
  • Cell phone theft makes up more than 30% of robberies in major cities. I'm going to add that cell phones likely prevented robberies in the old days. I had a girlfriend whose brother came home one day in 1995 with his 20 lb cell phone (and most of his clothing) bloodied. He used it to knock a rival gang member out. No, there's no app for that.
  • 40% of Americans would rather get in a fight with their best friend than lose their cell phone. What if your best friend steals your phone? That's Jesse Pinkman level messed up for life, yo.

Until next time, keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your cell phone insured. 

This post was sponsored by Asurion, and I hope not at all to their chagrin. 

If to-buy lists could talk

This is part 2 of my last post about eBay. All disclosures and A+'s from that one apply. My punctuation keys need a break. 

Shopping is functional, and I usually find it to be a chore because of that fact. I need socks, so I go buy them. There's nothing exciting in that transaction. As proof, I offer up last weekend: I bought socks. I passed up one set because it had two good colors, and then a random striped pair. Who wears striped socks? And why do the other colors have to wallow in unworn limbo because the third pair was so lame? It's a shame, really. So I bought a less offensive set. That was the extent of the excitement there. I had to choose 3 pairs that I was meh about because the two pairs I really liked came with a striped pair I would never wear. The human machine's ability to process disparate data points on the fly is amazing! This human machine, however, lost the socks he bought right after he brought them indoors. For a week, I've been randomly yelling "where are my new socks!?" in hopes that someone will come forward with any new information that will lead to the recovery of my new socks. 

While shopping when you have to spend money is boring, shopping when you don't have to spend money can be a bit more interesting, and I argue, revealing. When you put a wish list or to-buy-someday list together, that's when your practical side that enters stuff into Quicken can just chill for a minute. This is what my eBay collections are all about. Stuff that I would like to buy, theoretically. Not only are the choices a better representation of the unfettered me, there's a story behind them if you look hard enough. 

Since I'm all about chillin for a bit, you actually don't have to look hard at all. I literally wrote each story down for you on my eBay collections. 

Take my Aquatic Therapy collection, for example. The story behind this is that I am a huge fish nerd. Tanis has a thriving tropical ecosystem in the middle of the badlands of Canada because of the fish advice I gave her on Twitter, and Beta Dad's eyes are now open to the conspiracy behind fish food feeding instructions. You can read more about my journey into this world in my eBay collection (click the image to jump over):

And then there's my Playing With Fire collection. Seeing as I told the boys the other day to "go in the backyard and burn something" when they complained that they were bored, it's not surprising that I'd have a collection dedicated to cool things that have to do with heat (click the image, baby):

At the end of it all, I am a parent. And nothing says parenting quite like improvisation. These are some things that prove that Home Depot is actually more useful than Babies R Us when it comes to getting you through the day with your kids (image, click it).

All in all, I have 24 of these collections and accompanying stories on my eBay page, each one a perfectly good reason I could fill out on my insurance form to cover therapy. If you have an eBay account, follow me. I promise I'm more interesting than that Felix Cookie Jar on your watch list.

Great eBay Curator!! ~~~AAAAAA++++++~~+++++~~~+!!!!!!!11

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by eBay. Pleasure 2 work with! AAAAAAA+++ they can sponsor this post again anytime!! AAAAAAA+++++++++++++!!!!!!! 4 stars!!! 

I didn't realize it until I sat down to write this, but my eBay account is the oldest internet related membership that I have. When I made my first eBay purchase, I still had an AOL account, and the only dub step I ever heard was the sound of my modem connecting. I've bought some really cool stuff over the years, and I even started an online store on it years ago, but I only sold one item. I guess I'm really good at knowing what I want, but horrible at knowing what other people want. 

But that's cool because I've collaborated with eBay to create a whole slew of collections of stuff that I want. Wait - eBay collections?? Oh yes. Want to see the coolest Boba Fett stuff that I found on eBay? Of course you do (click on the picture to access the collection):

Also, did you know that my true goal is life is to outlive you? Yes YOU. All of you. Here's some stuff I think I would need in order to accomplish this (clicking on the picture shall transport you into my world):

If you follow me on social media, you know I'm constantly grumbling about the 4 hours a day I spend getting to and from work. In addition to a sherpa, here are some things that would make that more tolerable (click on the picture to leave this god forsaken blog post):

I could go on, but I have 24 of these, each with its own story as to why I created it. It's like 24 individual blog posts! And seeing as I have only posted like 12 times this year, it's like I'm giving you two years of posts on my eBay account.

So peruse my eBay collections, follow them, or build your own. If you want to see what fellow curators have gathered up, just check #FindItFollowIt on Twitter.

Disclosure #2: eBay is a GREAT sponsor!!!!!! Prompt payer!! AAAAAAA+++++++++++++++~~~~~