As raw as I wanna be: pork is good.

When I was three, my mom was in the kitchen one night slicing pork for a stir fry. Due to a recent bout with diarrhea, I hadn't eaten any real food for a while, so I sat there watching, wanting, yearning. If you know three-year olds, you know that they're never simply watching. They're casing the joint. When my mom turned her back, I seized the opportunity. In one coordinated attack, I grabbed a handful of slippery, raw, pink pork off the chopping board, stuffed it into my mouth and experienced bliss.

I dig me some pork.

Lucky for me, the pork people dig me back. And they want me to impart some pork knowledge on you in the form of an original recipe for rack of pork. Rack of PorkWhat's a rack of pork, you ask? It's a hunk of pork chops, stuck together. Given that fact, "take a rack of pork, add fire" would suffice as a delicious recipe. But then they would probably cancel the check they sent me (that is called a disclosure statement creatively crafted into a conditional musing), so instead I've been using that money to experiment with lots of pork, cooking implements, indulgent ingredients and spices. In fact, there's some pork roasting in my oven right now. Did you know that pork lovers prefer the scent of pork over Glade for their homes 10 to 1?

Once I perfect the recipe next week, I will have a video for you.

In the meantime, pick up your very own rack of pork at Costco in honor of Pork Month and get $2.50 off for the rest of October. It's this week's featured cut. This past weekend, I was too lazy to brave the lines at Costco to get my experimental rack of pork, so I went to every other supermarket to find it. No luck. That's why I am roasting a loin roast right now. Don't be a pork dolt like me. Just go to Costco. While you're at it, pick up a 3-pack of guitar amps, just because you can.

One more thing before I go. The three-year-old me wasn't too far off. Did you know that the USDA recently revised its recommendations regarding safe pork temperatures? Turns out you don't have to cook your pork into a smoldering brick in order for it to be considered safe for consumption anymore. In fact, a little pink is actually ok. Just cook your pork to 145 F, let it rest 3 minutes, and you're good to go.

Hey, piggy. Does it feel hot in here? Like perhaps 145 degrees?

Vapo Rub Loves Dads

At least they love me, and by association, other dads, I'm assuming. And I really love breaking up sentences with commas. How did I come to this conclusion? I use a lot of commas. As for the other thing, they are actually paying me to tell you about my experiences, advice and thoughts related to getting sick and feeling better. They aren't putting me in the spotlight to mock the infamous "man cold," or to poke fun at a man's inability to wipe kid snot. Man colds are a serious affliction, and that would be a foolhardy PR move.

What they are doing is making me a member of the Vicks Blogger Brigade. Last year, it was all moms. This year, they needed some dad representation. Not only because today's dad knows a little something about taking care of sick kids, but their ad campaign will feature their first ever "VapoDad." He's a celebrity who also happens to be a great dad (well that narrows it down quite a bit, actually). If famous dads taking care of their little ones does it for you, you might want to check out Vick's Facebook page on October 25 when they reveal who it is.

If unfamous dads taking care of their little ones is more your thing, stay tuned here for the next 6 months, as I chronicle the snot, sweats and tears of cold and flu season, armed with a laptop and a tub of Vapo Rub.

Believe me, I have the street cred for this gig. Did you know I once quit a job over Fury getting sick? A few years ago, I took a sick day from work so that I could stay home with Fury when he had the flu. The next day, my boss called me into his office and reamed me for it. How could I take a sick day when I wasn't even sick? If the other employees found out that they could take sick days for their sick kids, then no one would ever come to work! Then he said he would let it go this time, but I had to make alternate arrangements the next time. My alternate arrangement was to walk out and never come back.

I apply sideways

Don't tell me I'm not gangsta when it comes to taking care of my sick kids.

VapoRub. Represent.

Peace.

They called me "Food Media": The LA County Fair food post

Last year, the LA County Fair invited my family to partake in the sights, sounds and festivities that make this annual celebration one of the most popular events in Los Angeles. I ate food. And blogged about it.

This year, they recognized my forte and invited Fury and me to a preview night. For Food Media.

Free beer. Who said blogging would get me nowhere?

Fury started his own blog recently and has already internalized the first rule: always have a camera at the ready.

As we sauntered up to the sign-in table (VIPs saunter, FYI), I was handed my badge and Fury got his. His said "Guest" on it.

Here's the disclosure part: the people on the Rogers Ruder Finn PR team are the nicest people around. That's all I really need to say. I already mentioned the free beer.

Let's eat!

This is a Korean-Inspired Taco from the Calbi Truck.

You kind of have to get around the ravenous kid to see the actual taco. So here's a picture of the truck, instead:

The whole Korean-BBQ-meets-Mexican-fare thing has been wildly popular in Los Angeles, because it is a culinary combination that works. Also, Koreans and Mexicans. While the Calbi truck isn't the first on the block to do this, I'm happy that there are alternatives to waiting in line for 90 minutes to get your Korean shortrib taco on. Because when you invest an hour and a half of your life in a food truck, it leads to this (yes, I ate that ALL in one sitting. Then hibernated for the winter).

Next, Cheesecake-on-a-stick. I have a personal rule: never pass up any food on a stick.

I wish I remembered the name of the vendor, or took a picture of the stand. I tried Googling it and still couldn't find the name. My bad, but I tried.

This was Fury's favorite: the Nutella Crepe from the Crepes Bonaparte Truck.

While it is healthy to indulge, I also feel that it is very important to eat some vegetables at every meal. I think the Chimichurri sauce on that pulled pork slider from the Piaggio Argentinian Food Truck has green in it.

This is Piaggio himself. Thanks for the veggies!

And now, the reason why so many people go to the LA County Fair: Chicken Charlie's! He's the guy that has never met a food he couldn't deep fry. I kind of worship this man. This year, Fury and I sampled his Fried Kool-Aid and Fried Ribs.

The Fried Kool-Aid is featured in the video below. As for the fried ribs, I really was kind of wary at first. I love ribs because they are fatty. Fatty is delicious. But even I would be afraid to dip that madness in batter and fry it without a large side of Pepto Bismol dipping sauce. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Chicken Charlie merely dusts the ribs with his own blend of spices, flour and cornstarch, rather than thick batter. That way, when you fry it, the ribs get tender inside and crisp on the outside, with no batter to weigh it down. Then, he slathers it with his own recipe tangy, spicy BBQ sauce to cut through the oil and fat. It's really heaven. And this here was my personal moment of zen:

Chicken Charlie approves.

How did we end this night of sanctioned gluttony? By riding the mechanical bull, of course. It's all in the video below. 

With tummies full of food and beverage, properly shaken, not stirred, Fury and I ambled (VIPs who have overindulged amble, FYI) back to the car. As we removed our badges, Fury made sure to point out "next year, my badge will say my name on it!" Aim high, blog boy!

Do you want to saunter in and amble out of the LA County Fair like a true Food Media Pro? Then just let me know in the comments below that you want to enter my drawing for a 4-pack of tickets (including a parking pass). The LA County Fair runs from now through Oct. 2, so even though I'm totally late on this post, there's still time to enjoy it.

I will be in China for the next few days on business, and will try to figure out time differences and pick a winner this Friday night. My blog is banned in China (wouldn't you do the same if you could?), but my comments are emailed to me, so it should be no problem. Unless they figure out I am BusyDad and give me work detail fixing up the Three Gorges Dam. In which case, it was nice knowing you. At least it'll allow me to work off those ribs.

Until I can pimp my tie...

You know what? I'm really excellent at making pre-vacation to-do lists. Before we embarked on our family trip to visit my in-laws in the Philippines, I planned to tie up all my loose ends at work, and also complete my blogging obligations. That way, after the 16 hour flight, all I had to worry about was where my first cocktail was coming from.

You know what else? Turns out I'm really bad at following my excellent vacation to-do lists. As a result, a bunch of people at work still don't know I'm halfway around the world right now. Also... hello from the Philippines!

Why the sudden dedication to posting in a timely manner? Because the store I'm writing about really kicks ass, and they have a Father's Day promo, and I know it's too late to realistically promote anything in time for Father's Day, but I hope they forgive me because I'm posting from a foreign land while on vacation, and that should score some points.

A few weeks ago, Ridemakerz invited the family to spend a morning at their store. This involved picking out any toy car we wanted, and then going nuts customizing every aspect of it with rims, tires, aftermarket add-ons and stickers. Kid. Candy store. Badass candy store.

Looking the part is half the battle. Getting ready to pimp our RIDEZ.And that's pretty much the entire concept right there. But really, do you need more than that? Fury picked a Dodge Viper body, while I went with a Corvette. As did Lessi.

She's a Chevy gal. I did good.What I really wanted was the Camaro body because that's the car I drove throughout high school, but it wasn't yet available to the public at the time of the event. They just teased us with a preview model, which I shot a picture of (it IS available now, along with cars from the Cars 2 movie).

Not exactly my '84 Camaro, but almost as coolAfter that, we got to pick 'chassiz' for our vehicles, which we bolted on ourselves at one of Ridemakerz' workstations, which are all equipped with timers for that pit crew experience. Fury picked a standard radio controlled chassis, and I went with the monster truck radio controlled chassis for my Corvette because I also wanted to make a truck, but they only had Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram bodies and the Chevy loyalist in me wouldn't allow me to do that. At least Angry Julie high fived me for that.

Fury asked Larry all of the hard questions, which he answered without skipping a beat. Larry is ready for the big time!After a little building advice from none other than the "ZEO" of Ridemakerz himself, Larry Andreini, Fury went to work.

The pit crew experience totally makes it worth the tripLook at how fast and furious he isI've met and worked for a lot of CEOs in my day, and they all act enthusiastic about their company and the people they work with. But what makes Larry stand out is that he actually IS enthusiastic. And he loves what he does. Larry isn't afraid to get his hands dirty and swap out a toy rim with his bare hands, or encourage a kid to throw a hood scoop on the hood, and an extra one on the roof, for that matter. If it looks good, it can't be wrong. Fury is really good at internalizing advice, which is probably how his Dodge Viper ended up with a winch.

You never know when you have to pull another streetrod out of the mud.Of course, some streetrods were built to never get stuck in the mud.But that's the point of Ridemakerz. You can pimp your Ride in a million different ways, and you can totally indulge the kid in you.

Pic courtesy of Angry Julie, who always manages to capture me when I'm happily doing immature things, which is awesome.

Although Ridemakerz isn't yet a household name (because they're currently only open in a few cities), if you happen to be close to one on Father's Day, I highly recommend that you take advantage of their Father's Day 2 for 1 special: build one Ride and build another for free. I love ties as much as the next guy, but there's a certain satisfaction you get from applying a flame decal that you can't get from anything else.

While I'm at it, here are a couple of other random Father's Day honorable mentions:

McCormick & Schmick's

There are a few reasons why I have a thing for McCormick & Schmick's. First, my mom brings us there to eat every time she's in town, so I always associate it with good things. Second, my buddy used to be the bar manager there and he brought me along with him whenever he did his alcohol run at the local wholesaler, which meant I got to buy jugs of booze for cheap on his permit, like when you borrow your friend's Costco card to buy diapers. Third, last year McCormick and Schmick's invited me to a blogger appreciation dinner, where I met the executive chef and enjoyed an evening of fantastic eats... and I never got around to writing about it. Guilt. The greatest motivator of all.

Anyway, they invited me to submit a paragraph on why I should win their Deserving Dad contest. If I win, I get 12 dinners for two on them. Only thing is, I hate pimping myself for contests so I never promoted it. Also, I'm not on Facebook and it's a Facebook based contest. I think there's one day left. I'm probably in last place. If you click over, I'd just like you to read my entry on why I love being a dad. No need to vote, just read it.

Also, if you find yourself at a McCormick & Schmicks this weekend, you should enter yourself in their Father's Day Ultimate Golf Experience contest. You have until 11:59 pm EST June 19 to enter to win a 3-day golf trip to one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Courses.

Oh, they also are giving away a $50 gift certificate to one of my lucky readers. I know you won't get it in time for Father's Day, but personally, I think anytime is a good time for raw oysters. Just mention in the comments below that you'd like to be entered into my drawing and I'll throw your name in for it.

Wendy's is doing good for foster kids

Did you know that my day job involves helping government agencies track the treatment of child abuse and neglect among Los Angeles County's child welfare/foster care system? True story. So when Wendy's contacted me about Wendy's Father's Day Frosty Weekend, I felt it was kind of my duty to pass it along.

On Father's Day Weekend (June 18, 19), Wendy's will donate 50 cents of every Frosty sold to support Wendy's Wonderful Kids, which finds permanent homes for foster children. In addition, they will donate another 50 cents if you Treat it Forward (http://www.facebook.com/Frosty) by doing the following:

  • Tweet using the hashtag #TreatItFwd
  • Give a “virtual” Frosty as a gift
  • “Virtually toast” your dad by snapping a photo of you raising your Frosty cup, tagging it with the words “Wendy’s Father’s Day Frosty Weekend”
  • Tell friends about Father's Day Frosty Weekend through the application
  • ‘Check-in’ to a Wendy’s during Father’s Day Weekend using Foursquare and a 50¢ donation will be made.

Taking the guilt out of eating ice cream and tweeting? Sign me up!

And a very happy Father's Day to you all! Now can I get my cocktail?

Why I'm OK being called a Mommy Blogger (aka Tony Hawk's "Stand Up for Skateparks" rocked)

"Name?"

"Jim Lin"

The volunteer at the check-in table flipped through her clipboard a couple times before giving me the "are you sure?" look.

"Oh right, I must be listed at the celebrity tabl--"

That thought bubble of mine abruptly popped as she followed up with "are you on a list?"

"Oh, yeah. The blogger one."

"Oh, the mom blogger list." she concluded.

*mumble mumble* "yeah... that one."

So, I didn't enter Tony Hawk's "Stand Up for Skateparks" fundraiser like a rock star. But at least Fury and I partied like a couple of 'em.

Stand Up for Skateparks is an annual event that benefits the Tony Hawk Foundation, whose mission it is to build skate parks in underprivileged neighborhoods. To me, there is no single initiative out there that is more suited to keep at-risk kids off the streets than this. Skateboarding is cool. This isn't macaroni art at the community center. Skateboarding makes you sweat. Kids today need to learn to move more than just their thumbs. Skateboarding can make you famous and stinkin' rich. Let's be realistic. That's motivation.

Skateboarding is also badass. Which is why you'll run into guys like UFC star Chuck Liddell.

Besides the fact that Chuck Liddell has been one of my favorite UFC guys since his debut in 99, this picture is all the more awesome because Fury finally got to meet the guy he used to imitate when he was 3. This is Fury getting his "rally-hawk" on when Liddell avenged his loss against Jeremy Horn in 2005.

New heroes, old heroes, they were all there. I'll buy you a beer if you know who this guy is:

Give up? That's Lance Mountain! He was one of the original Bones Brigade guys, along with Tony Hawk. When I was in high school, a bunch of us chipped in for a Bones Brigade skate video called Future Primitive, which we mail-ordered out of Thrasher magazine. We passed that video among us and watched it till the heads on our VCRs wore off. Now that's file sharing at its best.

We also enjoyed free booze, free t-shirts, free booze, free hats, free booze, free granola bars, free booze, free stickers, free booze, free pizza, free booze, and got to try out Tony Hawk's newest video game: Tony Hawk Shred.

Shred is similar in game play to Tony Hawk's groundbreaking Ride game, released last year, but the graphics are more comic-booky and the tricks are way more fantasy-superhumanish, and you can snowboard (There aren't many sure things in life, but I do know that last sentence I just wrote will never make it into the testimonial list on the Tony Hawk Shred commercial).

There was also an old fashioned photo booth. It was pretty rad. And I wouldn't have written about that, except for the fact that I really love this set I took with Fury and I wanted to show you.

But the BEST part about the event? The part that I didn't know until after I accepted the invitation? FREAKIN' JANE'S ADDICTION performed. Arguably my favorite band in college. I was actually at the very first Lollapalooza concert ever (at Great Woods, in MA) when Jane's Addiction headlined. But this time, I could actually see the band without binoculars.

Also different this time? I noticed whenever Perry Farrell dropped the F-bomb. And I cringed juuust a little bit. But after a while, the vigilant parent act wore off, and all of us parents just accepted this as one of those cool bad parenting moments you laugh (or blog) about later.

Perry himself put it best when he reassured the audience. "Don't be like us when you grow up, kids. Grow up to be like Tony Hawk. Tony's a good guy. We're his weird uncle. This next song's about whores."

 

Because in the end, when you and your son can rock out to the same band, it's a bonding moment that will never be forgotten. Also, the neck pain.

Also, pictures with weird Uncle Perry...

WAIT.

That's not the coolest thing that happened. This was:

As Fury and I perused the silent auction, we noticed a gift basket for the show "The Office" which included a DVD set, T-shirts, caps, mugs and water bottles. I would have walked right by it, had it not been for the golden opportunity presenting itself. I had to do it.

You see, now I can say the following and it will be 100% verifiably true:

"I used to train in mixed martial arts. I beat Chuck Liddell."

I have the receipt to prove it.

As the event came to a close, we gathered our stuff, paid for an auction item I didn't think I'd actually win, and walked towards the exit. We managed to catch one more celebrity making his way out as well.

Thanks, Tony Hawk! You are indeed a good man. Fury has your book to read, your tricks to learn and your example to follow.

As for me? I've got my spoils of war. Sorry, Chuck. Better luck next year.

Yay for Community

In my younger days, discussion forums were like the Thunderdome. They were a place where keyboard warriors like me could go and pwn other members, put them down with witty insults, and vie for the title of last man standing atop a pile of vanquished LOLcat, Oh Snap, You're Doing it Wrong, Pwned and other clever Photoshopped masterpieces created in mom's basements across the world.

In my old(er) age, I've come to realize that the internet is more than that. Discussion forums can actually be useful. And perusing Pwned pics for this post still offers hours of entertainment. I also never get to the point until the middle of the second paragraph...

Or the beginning of the third. What I'm trying to say is that I've been selected to be a community leader in BlogFrog's SoCal Family Connection online community. First, what is BlogFrog? Let me explain in my own words (I never use provided text, and I never learn my lesson...):

BlogFrog is a site where members can sign up and start or participate in forum-style discussions within "communities" that members start. But at the same time, it helps build a following for your other projects because your profile page provides more than just "OnlineStudBoy72" and an avatar. It provides a feed of your blog posts, tweets and other activities too.

Recently, BlogFrog kicked off its own house-community, called SoCalFamily Connection, sponsored by Screamin' Daily Deals. Why did I agree to do this?

  • My work blocked Twitter and I need a place I can go be mundane.
  • I haven't yet mastered the #$%# Swype function on my droid so I avoid tweeting from my phone.
  • When people call me leader, well, let's just say I like it. A lot.
  • As much as I call myself a Bostonian, I live in SoCal and should take steps to embrace it.
  • Peer pressure. I'm a sucka.
  • Screamin' Daily Deals is a great partner. They are NOT influencing the discussions in any way. But they collect awesome discounts and donate part of the proceeds to schools. Of your choice. Win.

Also, I just got a new HD video camera and I like doing videos. And the other leaders asked me to do a video. Again, peer pressure, sucka, cherish admiration, the whole deal... Here's a silent movie I put together that asks: What would parenting look like if we had no communities to turn to?

So, whether you're from SoCal or not (the topics encompass many general parenting discussions too), join me, along with my fellow community leaders, for some insightful, useful and entertaining grown-up discussions. I promise to only post pwned pics once a week...

SoCal Family Connection Team:

  1. Heather from The Spohrs Are Multiplying
  2. Kelly from Just Spotted and According to Kelly
  3. Sugar Jones from Sugar in the Raw
  4. Angry Julie from Angry Julie Monday
  5. Maegan from ... love Maegan
  6. Megan from Screamin' Daily Deals

Disclosure: legalese... blah blah... I was compensated for being a community leader... blah blah... I think they were all virgins...blah blah... do not operate heavy machinery while using BlogFrog... blah blah... may experience loss of appetite... blah blah... always consult your doctor before posting a LOLCat... blah blah... except Hawaii and Alaska...blah blah... member FDIC.

Leo Burnett will regret (or heartily applaud) not hiring me

When I was a fresh college grad, I interviewed with Leo Burnett, one of the world's top 10 ad agencies. I made it through the college recruiting process and was flown to their Chicago headquarters for a day of second round interviews. I was 9 gatekeepers away from achieving my lifelong dream of being a hotshot ad executive. All I had to do was convince 5 of them that I was the right man for the job.

I convinced 4. I was crushed.

That day, I doused my dream with lighter fluid, lit it on fire and stomped on its charred remains. I'm not good at dealing with failure.

Keep the above backstory in mind. Let me move onto the topic of the day: wipes. I'm thinking by now you've clued into the fact that I'm doing this campaign for Huggies. Before all this, I honestly thought "pfft. wipes are wipes." In fact, right after the wipes Huggies sent me ran out, we went and bought some el cheapo ones. They ripped on me. Multiple times. Right as I was grabbing them out of our dispenser. Right when Lessi was pooping mid-change. I wish someone were there to take a picture of me every time I stood dumbfounded, one hand hoisting my baby's legs, the other hand weilding a torn-off corner of a bargain baby wipe. FAILblog gold.

And the other day, out of the blue, d wife texted me wistfully about the days when we had the "good wipes." The pain is real, ladies and gentlemen.

Huggies, you inspired me. Not only to wipe with confidence, but also to tell the world through advertising how good your wipes are. Today, my dream rises up from the ashes. Leo Burnett executive number 5, eat your heart out.

By the way, I'm giving away 5 tubs of the good stuff. If you have a baby or anything else you'd like wiped, leave a comment with a good poop story of your own. Or tell me how awesome I am at commercials. I'll randomly draw a winner next week.

The Tao of Poo

Hi everyone, I'm Alessia. But you can call me Lessi. My dad made me guest post today because he's busy blogging on Huggies' new blog HighChairCritics.com. Sure dad, work the paid gig and leave the "keepin it real" stuff to your infant daughter. Hey, I wasn't born yesterday, you know. In fact, it's been at least like 90 days. Those free diapers benefit you more than me. I'm just as happy going au naturel on the couch knowwhutimean? If you know what's good for you, you better start saving up for that pony. By the way, what kind of a nickname is Lessi? My big brother gets a badass nickname with a compelling backstory, and what do I get? A measly vowel removed from each end of my name.

Uninspired nicknames aside, I like being a part of this family, and I do understand that with it, comes certain duties. The main one being working the family blog with my brother. Well, at least it's not planting rice. All hail the digital age!

So, readers of the Lin Family blog, I'd like to drop some wisdom on you today. You may be smart grown-ups and stuff, but I know a thing or two about good living, because I don't have a boss, a lienholder or kids. Also, I haven't learned how to do a proper topical segway, so here goes.

A genuine smile can make someone's day.

It can also cause a chain reaction. Especially if you tweet it.

Dads are great, but never as good as moms.

No boobies. Sorry dad, you lose.

Allow yourself to be mesmerized.

This dragonfly is awesome. It moves back and forth. It is colorful. And when it stops, all I have to do is cry and someone will make it move again. The basic principles of physics and social manipulation rolled into one. Fascinating. Which brings me to my next tidbit (oh, I'm starting to get this segway thing)...

To get what you want, sometimes you've got to make some noise.

You might get passed around a lot, but eventually someone will break down and carry/bounce you in endless laps around the living room at 4am. At least he got to watch 3 episodes of Dexter while doing it.

Fall asleep in the car. There is nothing better.

I learned that from my big brother.

No wait -- a burp and a nap. That pretty much rules the world.

Case closed.

Poop (in a well-shaped diaper, no less) is love.

Ok, well, creation is love, but until I can churn out drawings that you can adoringly stick on the fridge, poop is all I got in that department.

p-p-p-pooper face p-p-pooper faceIn fact, just the other day, when dad had to fly to Boston, I showed him just how much I loved him by making a good-bye poop. I even timed it perfectly to when we had to rush out the door. He laughed, put down his bags and changed me while mom and Fury waited in the car. After he gave me a fresh new diaper I thought since he would be gone for a few days, another expression of love was in order. He looked at his watch, smiled once more and opened my second present and began to change me. This time I thought "how about one for the road?" I didn't even bother to wait for the new diaper.

I've never heard the phrase "oh my #$%@ no %^$# way!" but I think it means "that's the best going away present ever! You're the best!"

Well, that's all I got for now. I've only been around a few months. I'll think up some more later. But first, I'm going to shop these gems of knowledge to a fortune cookie company. They may pay better than dad. 

[BusyDad covering his butt: I have partnered with the Huggies® brand to help promote Huggies® Little Movers Diapers. They paid me in cash and diapers, (which just sounds more like a ransom arrangement than a business one) in exchange for neglecting my wife to write about my experiences from my daughter’s point of view here and on HighChairCritics.com. Which, come to think of it, is who I should use that cash on, if I know what's good for me. My opinions and absurdity are entirely my own, because I'm sure Huggies isn't some crazy Asian guy punch drunk on parenting and lack of sleep.]

The Grisliest: a crime scene investigation

The following is a guest post written by Dextero Morgane, Poo Spatter Analyst, Miami Metro Police Dept.

It isn't pretty. It never is. Mostly because the worst offenders are always so cute. They fully distract you with their angelic cooing, full-cheeked smiles and tiny feet. Oh, the feet! And by the time most victims realize what's happening, they're a full arm's reach and at least 4 seconds of unfolding time away from a fresh, tightly secured diaper.

Mid-Change Pooing. The grisliest of baby-on-parent crimes.

I was recently called in to investigate a code #2, and I want to give you a glimpse what goes on behind the scenes. Not because I want to shock you, but because this is a crime that the public needs to be aware of. We can't just Purell our collective hands and pretend it doesn't happen. In fact, listen out your window right now. You might hear the characteristic "eeeeeeewwwwwww. ew. ew. EWW. Honey? omigodomigodomigod!" that victims of this crime invariably proclaim as it is being perpetrated upon them. These were probably this victim's final words -- before he stripped off every item of clothing and bolted into the shower.

The surveillance footage we obtained from nearby closed circuit cameras was quite lousy. Luckily, the Google Street Maps Van exists. It never misses a beat:

Judging from the placement of the stains, I would estimate the origin of the poo to be roughly 6 or 7 feet to the left of this crib. However, there is a noticeable break in the pattern, indicating some sort of obstacle interrupting the poo flow mid-flight.

The above picture indicates that the crib got hit with an unhindered poo stream, almost mocking the diaper pail directly beneath it.

Too little too late. With his arm covered in poo, the victim is seen here trying to stem the flow. More out of reflex than any real hope.

I had seen this pattern before. And I had a hunch who the suspect might be. But I had to model the poo spatter to really break down what happened that day:

The spatter pattern on the side of the crib was forceful and unhindered, spraying in a downward trajectory. This tells me the perpetrator was diaperless the moment she struck. The continuous unbroken stream also indicates that the victim was unaware of any problems when this happened, or else he would have reflexively stuck out a hand or arm in a futile effort to "catch" the poo. He was most likely looking the other direction to grab a new diaper.

This spot is about 3 feet further from the original impact point shown above. I'm hypothesizing that upon realizing that a poo stream had begun, the victim tried desperately to lift the baby's legs up to tuck one side of the new diaper under her. In doing so, he altered the angle and trajectory of the poo stream, thus sending it over the top of the rail and producing a perfect quadruple rainbow of poo.

 

Realizing the gravity of the new situation, as well as the baby's gastro-pneumatic potential, the victim then valiantly attempted to redirect as much of the poo stream to the new, albeit hastily laid out diaper underneath the baby. The poo stream hit his arm at full velocity, sending a good amount of poo into the diaper, and a small but strip-worthy amount onto his PJs.

This baby had power. This baby was capable of recharging and reloading. This baby utilized impeccable timing. I have seen this baby's handiwork before. Her name is Hannibal Lessi and she is on a mission to crush the Huggies Poo Free movement.

I don't know where she's headed next. All I can do is follow the trail and clean up after her. Good citizens, be vigilant. And carry plenty of wipes.

* * * * * *

What was this all about?

I'm one of the Huggies Wipes Ambassadors, aka Poo Free Parent Squad. To celebrate the fact that Huggies Wipes are the thickEST wipes (vs National Brands) they’ve dedicated an entire week to celebrate this essential superlative (at least when it comes to wiping poo). Throughout the past week, the entire Poo Free Parent Squad has shared posts that highlight the silliEST, funniEST, poopiEST, craziEST, cutEST aspects of parenthood and poop tales. Check out the rest of the ‘EST’ party on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Wipes, Three Ways

I knelt there hunched over the bathtub, warm water cascading through my fingers as they rhythmically squeezed a saturated onesie in hopes of dislodging as many bits of hummus colored infant poo as possible, the aftermath of a diaper malfunction 5 minutes prior. When a man is on his knees, in the trenches with poo, he ponders things.

"I have been entrusted with a responsibility," I thought. "Huggies has made me a Wipes Ambassador." Ambassadorism is in my blood. My father was an ambassador. OK, so he represented a country with a GDP of $383.3 billion, and I'm reppin' butt wipes, but still. There's got to be a spectrum that exists somewhere that we would both fall under.

Because dammit, I'm good at this.

Look at my track record. I tell everyone who will listen that Huggies wipes are the best wipes I have ever used. They are strong. They wipe. What more could you want from a ... wipe? Don't ever underestimate the power of "strong" when it comes to cleaning up in aisle number 2. Ever have toilet paper rip on you? I rest my case. Huggies wipes are also the best "first pass" wipe I've used. Poop wiping isn't like driving a zamboni. Going over the same spot twice doesn't make it smoother. It just "spreads the peanut butter," so to speak.

Technically my job here is done. As part of my ambassadorship, I was required to give you about 250 words of my honest opinion. But like I said. This ambassador stuff is in my blood. My dad never punched the clock at 5pm. He represented 24/7. He went above and beyond. And I owe you, and the butt wipe industry, a little more.

So, this campaign I'm involved in is basically a challenge for me to live "Poo Free" this summer. Huggies sent me a ton of wipes to help me achieve that. I determined pretty early on that this was futile. You cannot use wipes to curtail the "mudflap" upspray you get from a gaseous infant and loose diapers. That's what blowout preventors are for. In theory. You cannot use wipes to curb a baby's instinct to go free range fertilizer on you in that 5 second window between balling up the old diaper and sliding the new one underneath. In all fairness, living "Poo-mishap-reduced" was still a great improvement on my quality of life. And as every good ambassador should do, I began to think of other arenas in which these wipes might make a positive difference.

I had to start with the greatest need of all. Could I live "Lindsay Lohan free"?

My quality of life index just jumped 5 points.

What about "Animal Poo free"?

I may eat dogfood for your blog entertainment, but even I have a line.

Perhaps "Vegetable Free" because I hate them even though I'm a parent and should set a good example.

Mom will kill me when she sees this. But I have to say, success!

It's always important to find substitutes for TV, so I owed it to myself to look into living "Television Free"

That's supposed to be an origami crane. Ok, how about an origami cabbage? Asteroid?

Most of my day is spent at the office, so maybe if I could live "deliverables free" it would make life easier.

If only I had known it was this easy...

I'm trying to be a better eco-citizen. Perhaps if I tried to edge toward "Carbon Footprint free"...

Well, the car didn't start. But I think that saved a tree.

I couldn't make it to the Blogher conference this year. So while my blog friends were partying it up in NYC, I was home drinking coffee and writing this blog post. I needed to find a way to live "Not-going-to-blogher-tears free"

Stupid contacts.

Maybe Huggies will fly me to the United Nations someday.

Control Freakz

My first remote control car had one button. You'd turn the car on and it would go straight. When you wanted to turn, you'd press the button on the controller and the car would go backwards in a circle. When the nose pointed in the direction you wanted, you'd let go of the button and the car would go straight again. Nothing was cooler.

When Fury was born, it meant the revival of two things: Star Wars and remote control cars.

When he was 3, I took Fury to Radio Shack and bought him this beauty:

Of course, he preferred to just push it around the house. Or have me drive it. I was ok with that. And for the next 4 years, as he amassed an impressive collection of RC toys, I'd put them on a shelf in the garage and test drive them every once in a while. For him, of course. I guess Fury never quite appreciated the fact that he could control something from afar. Well, unless you count completing a game level, building a Star Wars Lego set or conjuring up a cold glass of milk with "Daaaaaaad! can you help meeeee?"

Anyway...

Earlier this year, something clicked. He dusted off one of his RC cars, scrounged for some batteries and found himself in toy heaven. Since January, he's put his roster of vehicles through demolition derbies, all terrain endurance tests, dog attacking missions, snuff films and various forms of "customization." And I wish I'd bought stock in Duracell.

Did you know that an RC tarantula achieves better aerodynamics with its legs pulled off?

And a dragonfly doesn't if it has a gaping head wound?

And those helicopters that were so popular this past Christmas season do an excellent job at imitating an injured moth? Skittering across the floor after achieving 2 seconds of flight never looked so natural.

And also, if you and your kid watch a Mad Max marathon on a Saturday morning, your kid will outfit his RC car to withstand roving bandits looking to steal your gasoline.

And... if you get invited to "The Greatest RC Show on Earth" you WILL say "Oh HELLZ YEAH!" even if you have to put up a post the next day to run a contest for your readers.

YES, this is a contest. And I'm giving away 2 tickets to the RC Expo at the Fairplex in Pomona, March 20-21 (this weekend!). This will be an insane show. RC cars, boats, planes and tanks. Yes, tanks. And a rock crawler test "dirtpile." See below. I can't wait.

To enter, just leave a comment. I'll draw a winner at noon on Friday and contact you by email if you've won. Oh, also you have to endure this 1-minute video of Fury and me having random fun with RC vehicles. Because I've had these clips forever and have never had a reason to post them until now. So you might as well indulge me. Since I might give you tickets.

Blog Posts a la King

I found these blog post snippets from the past week just sitting on the kitchen counter. But they were near a window and I don't think they're spoiled yet. So in the spirit of the season, I'm dousing them with cream of mushroom soup and ringing the dinner bell.

* * * *

I Guess It IS Genetic

"Is that Captain Underpants?"

"No dad, it's a Captain Underpantey. It's a poster for my new movie."

"Isn't it called Captain Underpants?"

"Captain Underpants is already trademarked so I can't use it. So mine is called Capt. Underpantey."

Just because the boy has never set foot in China doesn't mean he can't finesse the fine line of intellectual property law just like his forefathers.

And even kick it up another level:

Why do I hear Biggie Smalls singing "Federal agents mad cuz I'm flagrant" over and over in my head?

* * * *

57 Channels and Nothing On

So Thanksgiving was quite nice. We travelled up north to d Wife's relatives' house to spend the holiday, and after a crazy Thanksgiving night that saw no less than 58 relatives descend upon the house, we were all too happy to just chill for most of the next day with the TV providing a soothing backdrop for our activities or lack thereof.

The remote was passed around with no real captain at the helm throughout the day. At times, it stopped on a football game; or perhaps the news. Or a DVD. Or a Mel Gibson flick. And when dinnertime rolled around on Friday, it could have been set on any of those channels, and no one would notice nor care.

As we sat in the dining room, I glanced a few times at the TV in the den. And I didn't notice nor care that there was a man with a really bad mustache on the screen. And d wife's cousin probably didn't notice nor care that there was a really twangy bass soundtrack going on when he glanced over. In fact, nobody noticed a thing until...

OH MY GOD!

It took me a few seconds to register what was going on because dinner with the relatives and a girl-on-girl scene are two things that one's brain simply has no pre-programmed contingency for. But within 10 seconds or so, d Wife's uncle was frantically pressing buttons on the remote, her cousin was standing in front of Fury waving her arms to block his line of sight, and the rest of us were shouting "Fury, don't look at the TV!"

With the TV off and everyone back in their places at the table, we sighed in relief at a crisis averted. And Fury of course did his best to make us all feel better.

"Don't worry. I didn't see anything."

And as we all began to chuckle at this close call, he reassured us again.

"Yeah, I was looking down at my food. I didn't even notice the naked girls on the TV."

* * * *

The LA Auto Show - Wanna Go?

When I was 3, my grandfather took me for a walk in Coolidge Corner, where the neighborhood Saab dealer was located. I don't remember much from when I was 3, but I remember that day. I loved cars (my mom tells me that by 3, I could recognize most car models and makes by their hubcaps) and I remember my grandfather walking me into the dealership and annoucing to all the salesmen that his grandson could identify any car. Of course they all played along and pointed to each car and asked me what kind it was. And of course, the answer was Saab every time. These men were so "impressed" that they gave me this:

It was the scale model display Saab from the dealership. I remember thinking "why are they so impressed?? This is a Saab dealer. Of course all the cars are Saabs!" I don't know, maybe I was just a jaded, cynical 3 year old, but I loved this model Saab all the same. And it's the only toy I still have from my childhood.

What does this have to do with the LA Auto Show? Not much, actually. But I'm not the type to just dump info on you without some attempt at a relevant tie-in. I do love cars, though, and so does Fury. And since I moved to California in 1995, I have always wanted to check out the LA Auto Show. And this year we're going, FINALLY.

The 2009 LA Auto Show runs from Dec. 4-13 and I'm personally there to see concept cars for Volvo (what I drive), Audi (what I'd like to drive next) and the Fisker Karma electric car (what I want Santa to leave under my tree).

And you can too! If you want to win tickets, just leave in the comments that you would like to be in the drawing. I'll be picking a random winner to recieve an LA Auto Show Gift Pack valued at over $50 (4 general admission passes to the show, 4 shirts, a messenger bag, and other goodies).

Other highlights at this year's show include 40 new "green vehicles," the Youthmobile 2030 design challenge and a Kids Fun Zone featuring driving simulators.

I better brush up on my hubcaps.

Getting Busy

Heh. Oh, will you look at that! I didn’t realize what time it was. Is that clock right? It says One-Month-Since-You-Posted-You-Slacker o’clock. Pacific time. I wonder if I can just get away with a meme or something? Or a Kanye “Ima Let You Finish” picture? Maybe I can--

Damn you, Momo! Always calling me out. Fine. Here’s a post about funny stuff that Fury says:

Whole Grain Cereal is not Ur BFF

 At the breakfast table the other day…

“Hey, dad? I thought this cereal was supposed to be good for me.”

“It is, Fury.”

“It has no trans fat, no saturated fat, but oh my God! Cholesterol!”

“Wha? There’s cholesterol?”

“Yeah, oh my God, cholesterol!”

“Gimme that.”

Can't argue with that. It's in writing.

Ok, I admit that was a sub-par coming-out-of-sabbatical post. Definitely not worth a month’s wait. How about I sweeten the pot with a “like father, like son” post?

Look Smart

During college, I wanted to look smart -- mainly because a football player muscle-bound physique just wasn’t in the cards for me. I figured the whole nerdy chic thing might be a wee bit more attainable for someone like me (ya think?? Skinny, Asian, Ivy Leaguer). 

But I was missing one essential accessory: glasses. I had perfect vision, and it was cramping my style. That style being specifically that exquisite pair of tortoise shell Armani frames. So I faked it. Zero prescription lenses raise your IQ by 5 points and your GQ by 10.

Fast forward 15 years. Harry Potter has made smart kids with glasses cool again. So at his request (and two straight demerit-free weeks) we went and raised Fury’s IQ and GQ at Target’s optical dept. They’re technically for his Halloween costume, but yeah, he totally wore them to school today.

 

Obviously, I need to up the ante. Momo, you are ruthless. You’ve left me no choice. I’m busting out the giveaway post.

Relieving Guilt with a Postage Stamp

I like reviewing cool products, and I love giving stuff away. But I don’t enjoy doing straight giveaways or reviews without some sort of relevant context. Now I have a huge pile of random things that I need to write about and give away. I guess that means I’m consistently irrelevant?

No matter, I’m giving stuff away. FREE is relevant in any language. The following cool things have been sitting on my desk, guilt tripping me for almost a year. If you want to enter my drawing to win any one of these, just tell me which in the comments section:

Toon Books: When Fury was 2, I started adding comic books into his bedtime story rotation. He loved them. And let me tell you, when you can start the sentence “ogliotronic fuel cells built upon a...” and your toddler can complete it with “haptic interface,” it’s pretty damn freaking cool. So when these Toon Books people sent me some of their children’s books done up like comic books, Fury ate them up. I actually had some pictures of him running away from taking a shower because he wanted to finish reading first. But I cannot find them in my computer!! So you’ll just have to trust me that 9 out of 10 kids agree that Toon Books are better than a shower.

Poingo: See that pen in the box? That pen has 256 mb of memory and will store 50 books, which you can download from the Poingo website. Sure, it’s no kindle, but can you run your pen along pictures and hear sound effects from Finding Nemo and Cars and Lion King? Can your kindle read to you? I thought not. 9 out of 10 kids agree that Poingo is cooler than Kindle.

Pocket Doodles for Kids: You know when you go on a long car ride and you forget to bring the car charger and then the PSP dies and then you get “but daaaaaad! I told you to bring it for me!” for the remainder of the trip? This little distraction has fewer moving parts and requires better hand-eye coordination. This nifty book of half completed pictures and other doodling games is a simple idea. And totally brilliant. 9 out of 10 kids choose a new PSP over this book, but you’re the parent and know better.

Oh, you are strong. Time to pull out the triple-threat. A post about a blog trip, hanging out with blog peeps and announcing a new project.

Bloggers: the Next Generation

I have to thank Electronic Arts (EA). For totally ruining my kid for every Christmas and birthday to come. They really just could have sent him a few games to review and end it at that. But no, they had to invite him to spend 3 days in San Francisco. Playing video games. NEW ones. That haven’t come out yet. Games like MySims Agents, Nerf II “N-Strike Elite” and SimAnimals Africa. And he got to preview Spore Hero for Wii. He played lots and lots and lots of Spore. And they fed him ice cream sundaes. Bastards. And on top of that? Guess who also came along? Mr Lady and her kids. Which meant Fury, 1 of 3, and 2 of 3 finally got to meet. In REAL LIFE!

Exceeds the recommended daily allowance of Epic.(See more EA pics on MrLady’s Flickr page )

And 3 of 3 had me at her beck and call for 3 days.

Because I’m a sucker for illegally high doses of cute. And I spent the weekend thinking “I so gotta make me one of these. Or steal this one.”

The boys, however, entertained more constructive thoughts. And took lots and lots of video. And paid very close attention to release dates, product attributes and playability. The boys knew there was a higher purpose to this trip. The boys knew their parents co-write a blog that hasn’t been updated in 6 months. The boys knew that little corner on the internet could be better served “under new management.” The boys are planning on ruling the world. And they’ve got a header made.

Look out, world. It’s happening soon.

I’m about to give up. How about one of those tearjerker video snippets? You know, the kind that makes all guys shed an empathy tear?

Good Ride, Dada Truck, Good Ride

Sadly (but to my great relief), a few weeks after I put the beloved dada truck up on Autotrader, I was able to find it a nice home. Here is our last moment together, saying bye as the new owner drove off into the sunset.

As heartbreaking as it was, I now have one year’s private school tuition in the bank. And Fury, after being dragged out of the house to participate in this video “can now go back to playing Spore.” Kids. Sigh.

What? You can’t be serious. This is like a year’s worth of posts, Momo! You know what? I’m sick of this. I’m going to go write on somebody else’s blog. How’s that? On top of that, I will make it a lighthearted yet useful post about kids and eating. So there.

Going Green: How to get your kid to eat veggies

Ok you leave me no choice. Here:

I was feeling a little bit queasy today. So I went to the drugstore and got me one of these test thingies.

Oh well, probably just some bad fish.

d Wife also felt a bit off. And since I had an extra one, she tried it. Twice. With two different brands. Turns out, that myth about BusyDad taking his blog post titles really seriously?

 

In Other News, Vol. 5

As usual, just a round-up of random cool things that don't fit in any other way with my blog, but might be of use or interest to you (or can get me cool free stuff). Stick around to the end. There's a video of Fury doing a DVD review.

The Force of Random.org is Strong With These Folks

I'm gonna make 4 people the envy of Star Wars geeks everywhere in 20 years (it's not derogatory when you're one yourself. Whut up mah 'wars geek!) -- unless they defile open these and give them to the kiddos, in which case they will just create more crap to pick up when playtime's over. Not my problem. I offered you the red pill.

Will the following please step forward and accept your prize of a FULL SET of 18 Star Wars Happy Meal Bobbleheads so I can finally get rid of this big ass box sitting in my home office:

Phil @ A Family Runs Through It

Cinthia (*GASP* she doesn't have a blog. I actually have a civilian reader!)

LoveyH @ Manuscripts and Sippy Cups

Carie @ Our Crooked Tree

* * * * *

I Like A Company With Balls

I hate the whole diet supplement industry. Yeah, so this metabolism-boosting fat blocker pill will totally work if you also happen to run 6 miles a day and eat sensible meals (for a dwarf hamster). Stop insulting my intelligence (not saying I have a lot of it, just that it's insultable). So when the people at Sensa emailed me, I was ready to lay it on them. But they didn't come at me with claims. They came with balls.

"Try it on us for 6 months and chart your progress, good or bad." (paraphrasing). Simple as that. Hmm. A throwdown of sorts.

Since d Wife is perpetually looking to lose 15 pounds (she said it, not me!), I asked her if she wanted to try it out. She agreed. And here we are.

A little bit about Sensa (it's the least I could do to reward a smart PR strategy). This product was invented by Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist who has spent his career researching smell and taste. In one of his research studies he noticed that many patients who had lost their sense of taste due to head injuries tended to gain weight. Long story short, there's a portion of the brain called the "satiety center" that controls our urge to eat. The more it's stimulated (or satiated, I guess), the less you feel like eating.

Sensa is simply a non-caloric "tastant" - or magic crystals as I like to call them - that you sprinkle on your food that triggers the part of your brain that suppresses your urge to eat. No need to change your diet or get off the couch. You simply eat less and therefore lose weight.

d Wife has been sprinkling it in her food for a few days now and for the next few months, I'll be checking in and letting you all know how she's faring. Funny, I tried it on my spaghetti the other day and it made me eat more. I'm such a party pooper.

d Wife's starting weight:
145
d Wife's current weight (after a few days on the crystals): 143

Starting off strong in the opening round there, Dr. Hirsch. You are a worthy opponent. By the way, if any of you want to try it, they hooked us up with a discount code to get 15% off your order and free ground shipping. Just go to TrySensa.com and use the code ROCKETXL when you checkout.

* * * * *

Ink Your Children Well

I love a good tattoo. And that's why a good portion of my upper body is inked. But in all my years of submitting to the needle, I can't say that my tattoos have been very useful. Sure, they're badass and all, but if I were to get lost one day and a nice old lady found me, how would they help get me back home? I totally need SafetyTats. The guys at SafetyTats took a biker tradition and turned it into a useful child-safety aid. Only in America, folks.

Check out the site. I love admiring cool ideas that I didn't think of.

Seething jealousy aside, I have to admit, these are pretty useful. You can put your cell phone number on them, so if you happen to get separated at Disney World or trick-or-treating, people will know how to get in touch with you (just tell your kid not to go with telemarketers, even if they were just "in your area" at the time). Or if they have special medical needs or food allergies ("this kid will spit on you if you feed him tomatoes"), you can slap one of these on as a warning label of sorts. And you know your kid won't fight you on it. It's a freakin' tattoo, dude!

* * * * *

Schoolhouse Rock, Well... Rocks


Remember when you could ONLY catch cool cartoons on Saturday morning? Like literally, all that was on TV on Sunday morning was Barbapapa, Captain Bob (boy he could draw a mean swordfish!) and Davey and Goliath? I'm not going anywhere with this. I was just asking if you remembered. Because if you do, you remember that catchy Schoolhouse Rock tune "I'm Just a Bill." I don't remember too much else about Schoolhouse Rock - just that I liked it, and it was way better than that boring "In the News" segment they played between CBS cartoons.

Well it all came back to me a few days ago because I now have the DVD . And nearly 30 years later, it STILL rocks. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, you MUST get this DVD. Watching it with Fury made me want to pee, because back then, they always stuck the videos between cartoons, thus preventing me from taking my pee breaks. But more amazing than that (way to set that amazement bar, BD) is the fact that despite its hand-drawn, old school cartoon style, Fury also loved it.

This special edition DVD compiles a bunch of election and history-themed songs, fitting for this election season. After watching "No More Kings," "Shot Heard 'Round the World," and "Three-Ring Government" I reaffirmed my belief that old school is simply better.

And you can really learn stuff too! Here's Fury's video review:

In Other News, Vol. 4

Virtual Pet Bling Winners

My only excuse is "this is my blog, I am my own cheap ass boss who doesn't pay me a penny to write this thing." It has indeed taken me forever to log onto the random number generator and pick 4 winners. Sorry about that. Lack of staff...

Will the following please step forward to claim your Tamagotchi Virtual Pet fun pack:

  1. Daddy Joe @ Dribbly Castles
  2. Miss @ Just Miss
  3. Kori @ See Kori Rant
  4. Kelly @ Don Mills Diva

Miss and Kori have both won prizes on the BDB before, but I forgot to post "previous winners must wait 6 months to be eligible for another drawing" so they lucked out. Plus, quality legalese costs money, and I'd rather just buy cool stuff like Volvos with it (suburban PTA daddymobiles rock. I have come to accept that).

* * * * *

Clone Wars and McDonalds. A Match Made in Coruscant.

Or more likely, China. Semantics...

First, if you're into Star Wars you have to see The Clone Wars. Trust me. You have to. And take me with you. If you have kids, I know you love to hate, and hate to love the all-powerful Happy Meal. I've talked about my ability to eat McDonald's food in the past (5 Big Macs, 10 Egg McMuffins on separate occasions documented with witnesses), so granted, I'm a wee bit biased, but I think it's pretty cool that the current Happy Meal toy is a Star Wars bobblehead.  As usual, I'm totally late with posting "current news" and this is the final week of the promotion, but...

I have a butt-load of Happy Meal Star Wars bobbleheads to give out! I received this box of kid crack recently (child added to show scale and euphoria):

There are 18 different Star Wars bobbleheads in this set, including characters from the live action Star Wars movies and the new animated Clone Wars movie. I'm totally taking Boba Fett and sticking him to my dashboard. He's my favorite Star Wars character of all time. I want to be him for Halloween.

If you want to see your kids smile real big and don't feel like eating 18 bags of Apple Dippers (you know you do it out of guilt). Then just leave me a comment and I'll enter you to win a complete set. I think this box has a few complete sets and I'm giving them all away (Ebay them in 15 years. You're welcome).

* * * * *

Be Part of the In(side) Crowd

You've probably noticed the discussion forum thing on my sidebar (with some really mundane topics on it - we were only testing!). True, it looks a little bland right now, but this is the beta version of a blogging application that I think has a ton of potential. 

This cool new thing is called Inside Crowd and it's basically a discussion forum for your blog -- which in itself is nothing new and exciting. The element that does make it really cool is the fact that you can share this forum with your friends' blogs. So basically, if one of my readers posts a question to my board, that question will also appear on the boards of all my Inside Crowd friends. And all their readers can also post answers to my reader's question. It's kind of like cross-pollinating  blog readers.

If you are a blogger, I highly encourage you to try it (and link your forum to mine by adding BusyDad as a friend) and if you are a reader, I urge you to post questions to it (so no one has to look at my "What's Your Favorite Candy" test question). 

As I mentioned, this is still in Beta (test) mode, so the "add friend" functions may not work at this point. But if you need help with anything at all, just email Ross Rosen directly. This is his baby, so he's been really helpful in getting this to work well for us early adopters. You can bother him at ross_rosen@insidecrowd.net

If you're still confused, perhaps their animated tutorial explains it better.

In Other News, Vol. 3

Do you want to win a Tamagotchi Virtual Pet? Skip down to the bottom of this post. First some business to take care of…

Education.com Giveaway Winners
I totally suck at running contests. Months ago, I posted a giveaway for some toys that the good folks at Education.com offered to give to 3 of my readers. Remember that? No? Well my archives say I did, so I drew some winners today:

Mimi from The Things We Do won Blue Orange Toys' "Zimbbos" stacking game.
April from It's All About Balance won Magnetic Poetry's "Story Maker" kit
Sunshine from ...And The Pursuit of Happiness won Alex Toys’ “Happily Ever Crafter” kit.


“Don’t Touch That!” Winners

I also held contest to give away two autographed copies of “Don’t Touch That!” by my friend and BusyDad Tales author Jeff Day. And the winners are:

(Although the winners were chosen at random, I thought I’d post their creepy crawly story entries anyway because they were both highly entertaining.)

Sue from Beggar’s Shot Glass:

You've heard of Huntsman spiders, right? They're HUGE (but scared of people, I'm told). I was in a 'pit toilet' in Australia, at a park in the rain forest. Drawers dropped, I look up into the corner and see one looking down on me. It was the size of my hand if he spread his legs out, but I didn't take the time to compare. I would have peed my pants if I wasn't where I was. I screamed and pulled up my pants and when I looked back it was gone. That is the fastest exit from a bathroom I've ever made! And Pit Toilets were thoroughly inspected from there on out before I sat down. Eeps!

MommyTime from Mommy’s Martini:

When I was in my early 20s, I spent 10 days camping and hiking in Scotland with my then-boyfriend. We had "wellies" (those knee-high rubber boots the British use for stomping about in damp places) that we used for much of our exploring, since we were crossing damp moor land, covered with ferns, heather, and so on. (Side note: my hair has never been lovelier nor my skin more dewy and lovelier than on that trip.) Anyhoo, we used to leave the damp and muddy wellies outside the tent at night, so as not to mud up the sleeping bags. One morning, I put mine on, and they felt a bit odd, but I didn't really think anything of it. I walked around for a few hours before I finally couldn't stand the wadded-up-sock under my instep feeling anymore and pulled off the wellie. Sock was just fine. Confused, I reached into the boot, and pulled out a FOUR INCH LONG, incredibly fat, very slimy, slick, black, and mercifully now dead SLUG. So charming. That night, we had fresh farm eggs cooked on our camping burner and luscious strawberries for dinner, and the world was all right again. But I'll never really forget the long trails of slime. Oh, the slime...

They’re probably on V7 by now but…
Months and months and months ago, the folks at Bandai America FedEx’d me a huge box full of Tamagotchi stuff to give away. In retrospect, they could have strapped it on one of MommyTime’s slugs and saved the shipping charges. Better late than never is what I always say (because it’s usually my last line of defense).

You remember Virtual Pets, right? Virtual pets are a great idea. Everyone loves real pets, but they are a pain to carry around on your neck.

Pet Bling

With Virtual Pets, you can enjoy all of the fun, excitement and responsibility of raising a pet in the convenience of a colorful, fun gadget worn like a necklace. Back in the day, you could only raise one virtual pet at a time. With Tamagotchi’s latest V5, kids can raise an entire family of virtual pets at one time. And depending on how you raise that family, it develops its own personality (intellectual, artistic, laid back, etc.). And like a good social networking concept, you can link up to your friends’ pets and hook up and make kids. Who would have thought that infrared technology could be so naughty? Ok, so they get “married,” but still. [Removed this part of my post because it referenced a promotion that has long ended. Procrastination rocks...]


Unfortunately, it also means you can kill an entire family of pets at one time.

I have a few of these sets you see below to give away. Just leave a comment and you’re entered. It’s ok if you don’t have kids. By the time I get around to drawing these, you’ll probably have a couple of em.


Harder than raising kids. You think I'm kidding.

In Other News, Vol. 1

Apparently, blogging about your crazy life as a dad gets you on some radars. This is a good thing. Or will at least lead to good things. Someday. While my pimp-ass yacht isn’t sitting at the marina just yet, I do have a pimpin’ Tamagotchi virtual pet sitting on my kitchen table right now (tune in next week to win one). To accommodate the many interesting pitches from PR firms that I get these days, I have decided to launch a new column called “In Other News.” Basically, this is all the news that I deem interesting or somewhat relevant to parents, that I’m not creative enough to weave into a post about Legos, brulee torches or general strikes against dad. Or they give me cool free stuff…
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