May the Force be Merry

I sold my beloved Chevy Truck more than 2 years ago because we put Fury in private school and needed money to pay for it. It was a painful, but very necessary act of parenting that I'm reminded of every 20th of the month, when his tuition gets pulled out of my bank account. Also, whenever we buy things that come in huge boxes at Ikea.

But last month, it was a little less painful. The subject line on an email from school read: Star Wars Holiday Luncheon - December 9, 2011.  And the email inside? Volunteer to serve lunch for the Rebel Alliance on Dec. 9. Also, dress the part.

I was the first one to put my name in. School tuition ROI, thy name is "I get to wear my Han Solo costume in public."

Today was that day.

When I walked into the assembly hall to check in, I was greeted by Star Wars music blaring, a laser light show on the ceiling and, yes, a Christmas tree made of lightsabers.

Before the kids got there, I flexed a little Star Wars knowledge on some well-intentioned, but less Star Wars enlightened parent volunteers. Someone suggested that I battle the mom dressed as Darth Vader with lightsabers as the kids filed in. I politely pointed out that Han Solo would never stoop down to the level of battling anyone with a lightsaber because the Force to him is just a hokey religion.

"Trust me, the kids will call us out on that one."

While I didn't have to defile Star Wars by making Han Solo pick up a lightsaber, I did have to jump in for the save a few times. One of the kids pointed out that Darth Vader was wielding a blue lightsaber and that was clearly wrong. I quickly jumped in to help the befuddled Vader by pointing out that Vader had just destroyed a hapless Jedi and took his lightsaber. The second grader stared me down for a few seconds, nodded in acceptance and asked me for more juice.

Obi Wan is coming to townI have never waited tables in my life, but can I just put it out there that I would never, ever work at a restaurant that served 8th graders? They don't as much eat, but descend upon a group of tables like locusts. As a parent waiter today, I got in all my cardio for the week. And my brain hurts.

This just made me happier that Fury is a 4th grader. When his group sat down, it was pretty simple. Plus, all his friends kind of know me so they, like, listen to me.

Yes, that's my Boba Fett hoodie he's wearing. When did he get so big?

If I eat one of these, there will be balance in the Force

Intergalactic princesses love scoundrel dad bloggersWhen lunch was over, it was as if a million kids' voices cried "recess" and suddenly disappeared. I walked back to the Millennium Volvo and went back to the office. After heading home to change, of course.

It's the ship that made the daycare run in less than 12 minutes.

It was a tad windy the other day

I got a call from d wife in my hotel room the other night while I was in San Francisco on business.

"It's really windy out right now and I'm scared. Our fence just blew over."

"Oh, a piece of the fence flew off? I'll check it out when I get home."

"No. It blew over."

"Oh. Well, don't worry. It won't get much worse than that."

...

...

...

...

 

A dad's job: reassurance, and occasionally talking out of our ass.

I home business school my kid

We have a persimmon tree in our backyard. My mom loves persimmons like unicorns love bacon, but unfortunately she lives on the other side of the country. If you've never had a persimmon, they taste like an unripe tomato crossed with a papaya. Papaya tastes like corpse. This is why I dislike persimmons. Fury and Lisa also hold them in similar disdain. So every year, I have the same problem: what to do with these persimmons. Sometimes I get some social media traction with them, sometimes I give them away, and sometimes I simply let them rot on the tree (this is how I discovered the abomination of evolution that are yard rats).

This year, I did something different: I incorporated them into the BusyDad curriculum of life skills. Today's class: starting a business.

Lesson 1: Hammer out a supplier arrangement

Fury and I struck a deal. In exchange for providing him with high value product (the street value, i.e. price at Pavilions Supermarket, of a Fuyu Persimmon is $2.49 each), Fury would pay me a commission of 25% of gross sales.

Lesson 2: Philanthropy sells

I told Fury that I would donate my 25% cut to my Movember Team. This way, he could tell customers that part of the proceeds went to charity.

Lesson 3: Don't put anything in permanent writing

Market sentiment and demand fluctuate constantly. Never commit fully to signage that cannot be adjusted accordingly. Dry erase boards are highly recommended.

Lesson 3.5: Slam your competitors a little bit

In case 4th grade penmanship isn't your forte, the bottom reads: don't buy smaller ones for $2.49 each at Pavilions.

Lesson 4: Put the product into your customers' hands

Also, make sure there's always plenty of beer around to keep your supplier happy and willing to cut up fruit samples for you.

Lesson 4: Lift with your legs, not your back

Or, always have your chiropractor on speed dial.

Lesson 5: Tend to your shop

Patience is a virtue, but your iPod touch kills boredom dead (as soon as it's done recharging, which leads me to a bonus lesson: always keep your gadgets charged).

Lesson 6: Provide security

Those dogs will slobber the hell out of anyone who tries to jack Fury for his fruit.

Lesson 7: Woo high dollar customers

You know you've tapped the right market when your first customer rolls up in a pimped out Mercedes.

Lesson 8: Utilize partnerships to leverage resources

Your neighbor has a table, Sour Patch Kids and a box full of Pop Chips? Expand your storefront and diversify your product line!

Lesson 9: Don't get high on your own supply

Your baby sister, however, gets the friends and family discount (turns out she loves persimmons).

Lesson 10: Take advantage of the holiday shopping rush to boost sales

This is one week after the first stand. You can't really pass up the opportunity to have a Black Friday sale, and you might as well also sell your extra Lego set while you're at it.

Lesson 11: Hire professionals, and barter services to help with cashflow

The sign above was created by a professional whiteboard artist. In return, Fury agreed to help that artist make one last push for Movember donations by making him look really badass. Fury actually had an app for that (and his iPod was fully charged).

Side note: Today is the FINAL day of Movember!! My team has raised more than $12,000 dollars for men's cancer awareness, treatment and education. That is frikkin incredible!! Every dollar counts. If you'd like to donate to the cause, click to go to my Movember page.

Lesson 12: Money does grow on trees

You just have to exploit the right ones.

Happy Pop Culture Barometer Day

Halloween rocks. Because it's the one day a year I can indulge my pop culture fantasies without being called a Comicon/Star Wars convention geek. And we at the BD household like to go all out, like here and here, so you can see how much this holiday means to us. Screw the candy! I'm all about the "man, you crazy!"

Like this year, when I transformed my office into Dexter's "Kill Room." For those who don't watch the show, I tried to find a reference pic with no luck, so you'll have to settle for a pic from the video game.

Let's just say people are a lot more patient with me at work now.

This year, Fury really got into a new show called "Adventure Time with Finn and Jake" on Cartoon Network. I could write paragraphs on why this is the funniest cartoon to come around in a long time, but I won't. I'll just say that one of the main characters is a rainbow unicorn. And she only speaks Korean.

Fury dressed up as Finn.

Lessi went with a classic: a Cobra Kai thug.

d Wife went as Lessi's ability to stand up.

What would Halloween be without Jack 'o Lanterns? A day that would finally set gourd-rights activists' minds at ease. But for now, Fury killed and gutted this one (I think it was free-range, though) and created this "three-face" Jack 'o Lantern.

One side was a cyclops:

The other side was a comic book character that he created, named Mazor (reference picture provided):

And for the final side, he decided to go utilitarian by carving a "handy carrying handle":

For mine, I decided to stay consistent with past pumpkins and stay with the Star Wars theme:

Recognize him?

Nope, you're wrong. It is NOT Boba Fett. It's his dad, Jango Fett. Who got decapitated by Jedi Master Mace Windu. Get it?

Below, Fury re-enacts the pivotal scene where young Boba holds his father's head in his arms and vows vengeance on the Jedi.

See? How can any other holiday even hope to compete?

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.

Reconnecting

Last weekend, I flew home to Boston. I didn't gather up the wife and kiddies, didn't call a bunch of friends in town, didn't make plans to hit all my favorite eateries, didn't do much more than pack a black suit and a toothbrush, really. I flew home to pay respects to my grandfather, who had just passed away.

Grandpa savored life. He loved his family, loved a bloody prime rib, loved riding his bikes, and loved a good bargain. A true weekend yardsale marauder, he was. Where do you think he bought all those assorted bikes? As sad as we were that he was no longer with us, we looked upon this as a chance to spend time together as a solid branch of the family tree that he and my grandma nurtured for over a half a century.

Because it was long overdue.

This picture below? Has never happened in our family history. All five of his grandchildren in one place at the same time. We've always been too busy living our respective lives in Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and who knows where else to let our grandma smell-kiss all our heads and take a picture with her.

By the way, it totally messes with your mind when you find out that the cousin you haven't seen since she was 3 is now an architect (top right).

It's also quite awesome to be able to buy your cousins a round of brews in Harvard Square.

And then take them to check out your freshman dorm, regaling them with tales of... well not much actually. College wasn't all it was cracked up to be. But being on campus after not setting foot on its hallowed grounds for 16 years (stop doing math in your head. I'm just old, ok?) really rocked. As I'm trying to pantomime below.

Being home also meant spending quality time with mom. Here's me going to the pub, while mom waits in the car.

Before you all throw internet rocks at me, I did invite her to come with. This was the night she was shuttling everyone from the airport, and we had 20 minutes to kill before we had to get my sister. She knows I need my Guinness. And she just wanted to rest. We both got what we wanted.

It was also quite amusing to see my old room. Since moving out in 1990, my mom has turned my room into her office. But she kept my posters on the wall, like an embarrasing time capsule.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me talking about what a gigantic fish nerd I am. Well, here's proof:

Freshwater Bass of Norh America, yo. Ladies, control yourselves.

This one actually redeems my hip cred a little bit. A flyer I took from a club when I saw Social Distortion in the early 90's.

I had a Facebook page in 1990. This one had staples in it, and it was really hard to change your profile pic. Otherwise, I totally would have.

Whenever I go home to Boston, I have to bring back one thing: a decent cannoli. This means that I dragged my cousins under the guise of sightseeing to the North End, Boston's version of Little Italy. The North End is beautiful. Here's a thousand words to describe it:

But of course, it's also a tourist attraction, so that means lots of restaurants with TVs... playing every iconic "Italian American" movie ever made, on repeat.

These damn tourists also make it as hard to buy a cannoli as it is to ride Space Mountain. This meant there was no way I was going to subject my cousins to it. This decision was followed by the customary "no cannoli for me" version of that scene from Platoon.

Upon picking up on my subtle despair, my cousin Laurinda said "Wait. You were on a food mission? I didn't realize this was a food mission. I never give up on a food mission! We're going to wait in line!"

We are family. All my crazy cousins and me.

Because you have to be, in order to wait in a line like this for a pastry item.

Well, not exactly "a"... make that a whole stinkin' box of 20!!

We ate well that night. On the sidewalk. And people actually tried to buy some from me. I told them they could have my cannoli when they pried it out of my cold sticky hands.

The next morning, I said goodbye to my house...

And my city...

... and returned home.

Come on kids! We've gone over this. The "Children of Asian parents" contract clearly stipulates Ivy League souvenir clothing items in the Terms and Conditions.

Grandpa, thank you for giving us the strong roots to make all this possible.

In memory of Cheng-Hwa Lin 1916 - 2010

Boyz Night Out. Done Right.

There comes a time in every man's life when the call of the wolfpack beckons. When his instinctual urge to belch, fistbump and exchange wasszuuups with the homies drives him to log off Club Penguin in search of opportunities to high five and lose his voice. These are the times when the village elders must step up and offer guidance. And Monster Jam tickets.

Step 1: Round up the Boyz.

Boyz nights outs are best when shared by, well, your boyz. Guys who have had your back since day one. Guys like Jaden and Jack. Jack isn't pictured below because I don't think he was born yet when this was taken.

Once comfortably seated (and in some cases, booster seated), you begin your road trip. Make sure you all pre-emptive pee before you get on the road. You can bitch and moan all you want that you don't have to go right now, but the elder won't stop the car because then you'll all miss the pit party. So go pee. Now. I said go.

Step 2: Talk about girls.

Jaden: [some name this author can't remember] has a crush on me.

Fury: Oh I've seen her before, she is H-O-T (make sure to spell out words that might embarrass you in front of the elder). I saw her in your yearbook.

Jaden: Yeah, she is H-O-T alright.

Jack: Yup. I think she is H-O-T too.

Step 3: Trucks. Big. Ass. Trucks.

And buy program books for the drivers to sign. Just like those autograph books at Disneyland, but without all the over-the-top cartoony animal characters.

I know...

I said I know. But this is different. They crush stuff.

And there is nothing cooler than getting the autograph of those who crush stuff and do jumps. Trust me.

Except for maybe being within 10 feet of the most awesomest, meanest, wicked coolest thing ever in the whole wide world, aka Gravedigger.

Step 4: Be Rowdy

Find a venue that enables you to toss that "inside voice" out the window.

And scream and shout. Or snarl. Whichever best suits your mood.

Step 5: Embrace Excess.

Nothing like a nice good explosion to usher in the evening's festivities.

A little substance abuse never hurt anyone. Permanently.

And there's no such thing as too much horsepower...

or sick air...

or GRAVEDIGGER!!

Step 6: Witness a Bouncer Swarm

So we're exiting the men's room during intermission when I hear the familiar sound of "drunk and disorderly" meets "security staff fed up with your shenanigans." As this was taking place not 10 feet from us, I instinctually grabbed the 3 young 'uns to get them out of melee range. This was immediately met with "aw, I wanna see what's going on!" and "oooh! what's happening!" and "cool, a fight!"

I surveyed the landscape and determined that the bouncer-to-hooligan ratio favored the quick restoration of order, so we watched the scuffle from ringside.

"You see? That's what happens when you get too drunk. You don't follow rules and get dragged out by security."

And that's one to grow on.

Step 7: Wait in long lines and blow cash on random stuff.

Here's a tip. If you ever go to a Monster Truck show, buy your souvenirs first. If you wait until the end of the evening, when 30,000 other people learn that they should have bought their souvenirs first, you'll be standing in line, all wishing you had bought your souvenirs first. But of course, even if you wait forever in line, don't start thinking about what you want to buy until you get to the front of the line. Because pressure is fun. As is agitating the guy at the booth who just wants to go home. Oh, and use your credit card because they love that.

And then stand proud. Because you have done your part to keep the machine chugging along. MOICHENDISING! Where da real money is made!

Step 8: Pee in the parking lot.

Yup.

Step 9: Denny's.

You can't call it a Boyz Night Out until you've at least attempted to eat a Moons Over My Hammy. Right?

Step 10: Pass the #$%@ Out

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

For more Monster Jam / Boyz Night Out pics, check out my Flickr set.

Cyborg. Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time...

That’s what they used to call me. But nowadays, Fury just pats me on the belly and shakes his head whenever I flex my biceps in front of him. Cyborgs aren’t supposed to jiggle, apparently. And cyborgs don’t find an upside-down imprint of their belt buckle on their belly after prolonged stretches of sitting (you have to stop and think about how that happens, but it has something to do with gut overflow).

I ain’t as good as I once was.

Back then, I believed the measure of a man was his ability to vanquish his opponents in hand-to-hand combat. Or at least hold his own, win or lose.

And I loved it. I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had training, punching, kicking, choking, bleeding and sweating alongside them.

And then this guy came along.

And for a while, the father lion instinct kicked in. I have to protect my boy against all the bad people out there who want to physically harm him, and hell if I’m going to let that happen to my Simba, right?

He was my motivation, my inspiration.

And it was the shot of encouragement I needed. For a while, I was better than I ever was – and I was in my mid-thirties. My Muay Thai coach coined the nickname Cyborg and I was damn proud of it. At least it was better than his first choice, “Tony Roma” because of my tender ribs.

Cyborg was relentless. Tearing through endurance drills, running, calisthenics, sparring, competitions, seminars, and even watermelon (2nd place, eating contest, 2007 team picnic, yo).  Cyborg did come in dead last in the 3-legged race, but that’s because the judges didn’t allow him to just sprint and drag his partner along.

But other than that, no one ever questioned his ability to simply power through without hesitation anything thrown at him.

 

 

However...

No roving band of ninjas ever came to kidnap Fury... but he did want to tell me about his day at school.

No crazy escaped convict ever broke into my house... but Fury loved the homemade pesto pizza I would make him for dinner.

No agent approached me to star in the remake of Enter the Dragon, catapulting me to fame, fortune and Fury’s college tuition... but Fury did want me to videotape his latest homemade Hotwheels catapult.

That 2 hours that I could spend being a man in the gym was 2 hours that I couldn’t spend being a dad at home. Something didn’t measure up. So Cyborg picked up a cold beer, sat next to Fury and they laughed and snorted at Spongebob getting his face ripped off.

But old personas die hard. And although I’ve had a great time playing the puffier, jollier, 20 pounds heavier BusyDad who gets winded taking out the trash, I miss Cyborg. And when Fury patted my belly the other day, Cyborg didn’t like that.

“Should I return to Muay Thai?” I thought. No. I cannot possibly go back into Muay Thai. I have an ego problem. It took me years to get to the level I was, and to walk back into my old gym in the decrepit shape I’m in now would kill me inside. Also, I cannot realistically put in the time or effort to fight competitively. And to see the young lions training for fights when all I could realistically do at this point in my life is just train to get in shape? That would kill me a lot. A LOT.

Then just the other day d Wife got back from a shopping trip to her favorite store in the world next to Nordstrom: Lululemon. “Hey I saw a flyer that they opened a Crossfit in Monrovia.”

Crossfit.

Open any thesaurus and you will find this word as the 5th synonym for “Are you frickin insane? Do you actually enjoy collapsing in a pile of sweat and puke at 6 in the morning 5 days a week?”

Yes. Yes I do. But then again, Cyborgs weren’t programmed for logic.

 

Give a boy a cheeseburger and he'll get a Happy Meal toy, teach him how to cook one and you'll get a blog post

"Dad, can I skip the workbook tonight?"

The kid knows how to work this "mom's not here for the week" thing really well. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking given the fact that in the past two weeks Fury and I have adopted a huge disgusting bug as a pet, broken all posted boating speed limits, hung out at Hooters, and peed into tupperware, that I would surely let him get away with an infraction as minor as skipping a few summer-brush-up math problems and writing exercises, right?

WRONG.

Well, kinda. Or not technically. Come on, Home Ec totally counted as a class in school, right? At least as important as reading, writing and arithmetic, I would argue. Why am I even trying to justify this? He's my kid and this is my blog.

We totally skipped the workbook.

But in its place, I told him this: "Fury, I will let you skip the workbook stuff tonight, but you know what I want you to do instead? You are going to cook your own dinner. What do you want to eat?"

"I want a cheeseburger. Do I get a toy?"

"No, but you will have more fun than any Happy Meal toy could provide" (Low bars, I set 'em).

So off to the supermarket we went to pick up a pound and a half of ground beef.

"What do you want in your cheeseburger?"

"I want sauteed mushrooms."

And my foodie side shed a little tear of joy. We got some mushrooms.

"And I don't want a regular bun. I want it on a croissant."

Done. You rock, son.

And thus began Fury's first solo dinner.

LESSON 1: Look the part

Speak softly and carry a big cleaver. A step stool and Dad's chef jacket doesn't hurt either (I'm not a real chef, but I like to play chef games at home).

LESSON 2: Open a beer first

For your teacher, of course. But oh alright, you can lick the bottlecap. You said please.

LESSON 3: Get your hands dirty


Food is love. You're not doing it right if you don't make a mess.

LESSON 4: Out of chaos, comes art

We don't need no stinkin' patty press. Like snowflakes, each patty tells a story. And can be rolled into a ball and hucked.

LESSON 5: Butter

Is your friend.

LESSON 6: Butter browns quickly

I know you love pistachios, but if a snack is going to take you away from melting butter for more than 2 minutes, let's hold off. Or not. It's pistachios, dammit.

LESSON 7: Pose for every pic like it was going to be the inside cover shot of your first cookbook

You're a natural. Pass.

LESSON 8: It's all in the wrist

I know "getting air" is the point of pretty much everything you do, so this is just something I'll just need to work with you on a little bit. But I'll admit, that patty did a pretty good back-flip 360, flying hot grease globules notwithstanding.

LESSON 9: The Waft

Never stick your nose directly above what you're cooking. You need to waft the aroma into your nose. And adopting a Franch ac-scont while you're at it makes it smell better.

LESSON 10: It's the cheese, it's gotta be the cheese

Like butter, if you have a single cooking gene in your body, this instinctual tidbit comes standard.

LESSON 11: Use the right tools

If a Padawan is allowed to use a real lightsaber while training to be a Jedi, my 7-yr-old can use a knife with a sharp blade to cut stuff. He's lucky I didn't make him wear the blast shield helmet.

LESSON 12: Presentation is key

You look maaavelous.

Absolutely maaaavelous.

LESSON 13: If YOU can't enjoy it, then there's no point


While most people prefer their gourmet cheeseburgers hot off the grill, it doesn't mean that you have to agree. If you like yours quick frozen for a few minutes to make it easier on the tongue, no one has the right to stop you.

LESSON 14: Celebrate a job well done

Proud. Proud. Proud. My little Iron Chef.

Also cool? Today is my 2nd blogiversary. I can't believe I've been at it for 2 years. It's been fun. Thank you all for encouraging this madness and laughing with me. Or at me. Whatever. As long as you're laughing.

When Left To My Own Devices...

... I break one of them (digital camera) and I lose another (my Blackberry) to the watery depths of a Southern California reservoir. I say this for two reasons: to apologize for the crappy quality of the photos in this post (as I had to make do with the snapshot function of my video cam) and to apologize to those of you who interact with me outside this blog for not returning any phone calls or text messages lately. With that out of the way, let's rewind to the beginning.

d Wife leaves me twice a year for about 2 weeks at a time to attend tradeshows for her job. For the most part, it goes quite smoothly, for there's not much she can do for this household that I can't, and vice versa. We enjoy what you'd call a very business-trip-friendly family dynamic. However, she's been gone nearly a week now, and let's just say it only takes a few days of solo parenting for your true strengths and weaknesses to show.

Regarding Pets

It's not that I forget to feed them, I just keep forgetting the fact that we're missing the one piece of the puzzle that's usually required to complete such a task.


Dude. We do not run on photosynthesis.

But admit it, I rock at adding cool new pets to the Busy household. Meet Hisser, the hissing cockroach:

If it dies, I'll just call it "good pest control."

Of course we had to first relocate the last critter cage resident before Hisser could move his stuff in.

Meet Mother Bates, the praying mantis who laid her eggs in there and died. THREE years ago. We put a wig on her and placed her by the windowsill.

Regarding Recreational Activities

In general, I'm not very good at not enjoying beverages of the brewed and/or distilled variety. And my "d Wife on business trip" dishwasher load kind of reflects that.

I should really ease up on that creme brulee.

But my buddy Toheed the Contractor was willing to drive.

He had just refurbished this old speed boat. The risk of getting stranded would make anyone giddy.

But first, we had to stop off at his service station to wash the boat.

There's got to be an easier way to earn a Capri Sun.

And it was all good.

We planned to fish, but fishing sucks in SoCal, so rather than set him up for disappointment, we just opted to ride around, really really really fast.

When I look at this picture, two words come to mind: Jan Hammer.

Things were going great until the boat broke down. And I discovered that although we were lucky that it broke down at a dock on which we stopped to buy more beer, the boat ramp was about 100 feet away. This meant tying ropes to the boat, which meant bending over, which always means my gut likes to press the release button on my Blackberry harness, which means I should have seen it coming. But I didn't. And in slow motion it fell (heart attack), and then landed on the dock (relief), and then fell out of its protective case (oh that's fine, that's what it's for), and then bounced (lunge) and went over the edge (noooooooo...). Kerplunk.

And I still had to hand tow that sucker to the boat ramp.

I know, that's Toheed and Fury towing it. Let's just say he knows I need to abandon most things halfway in order to "blog it."While all this was happening, I was totally sucking at something else: remembering birthday parties that we had RSVP'd for. d Wife has a knack for schedules. And like a tailbone or appendix, my ability to remember key dates has rendered itself obselete in my 8 years of marriage because I just rely on her to remind me of things we need to do. I mean, I DID remember it. I just thought it was on Sunday, rather than Saturday (which doesn't work for weddings, flights, court dates and job interviews, either). So this is my apology in writing to Lolita and her son Jaden for showing up 8 hours late to the party.

Regarding Food and Dining

On the few days during the week when I'm actually lucky enough to share a meal with my family, d Wife makes it a point to turn off all electronic devices and enjoy some quality time together at the dinner table. I applaud that and totally agree. But Fury is going to grow up to be a business traveler if watching his old man has any impact on his future career choices. So I might as well get him used to eating at the bar with his laptop.

Lisa, that is not tupperware we are eating out of. It is an atmospheric anomaly, like what happens when people take pictures of "UFOs."

I also feel that in addition to his professional life, I am responsible for teaching my boy how to survive in the wild. And you can be damn sure that no son of mine is ever going to starve in the woods because he couldn't find a serving platter!

On a boat, we go by the "5-hour rule."

But this doesn't mean I won't expose him to the finer things in life, for a man's ability to appreciate classy culinary establishments from an early age is of the utmost importance when forging a true gentleman.

Because the wings are great. And I read Playboy for the articles.Regarding Awesomeness

"Hey dad, what time is it?"

"Um, it's 8:55."

"No, it's not, Dad."

"Well, look at my watch, what time does this look like to you?"

"It's time to get ill."

 Raising my boy.

I'm doing it right.

Happiness

Is...

... FINALLY setting out for the airport after a 12-hour delay and quite the hellish day. And if I have to endure High School Musical to witness this kind unbridled excitement, then so be it. Singing provided by my friend Lolita's kids Jaden and Jack, dancing provided by Fury (I swear I didn't teach him this. It caught me by surprise, hence the grainy Blackberry video footage as the video camera was packed in my carry-on).

... Zonking out on the plane (including dad, who can never fall asleep on flights) so that we can hit the ground running on our Orlando vacation. Even if it's 5:30am.

 

... Finding the first "Florida" thing to pose with. Who cares if it's just the airport gift shop? And it's closed.

... Arriving in your room and totally understanding the "Happiest Place on Earth" concept (Mickey and New Bada are homies!).

... Not only picking your own clothes, but customizing them with a skull and "ARRRRRRRRRR!" (This one-of-a-kind Fury Edition Pirate T made possible by Disney's Design-a-T Store at Downtown Disney).

... A totally sanctioned sugar binge, complete with raver glasses, brought to you by Goofy's Candy Company at Downtown Disney.

... Going to a Disney BBQ party and discovering that they wanted dad to have a great time too - by spiking the lemonade with Jack Daniels!

... Discovering that maybe Dale spilled some of that lemonade on his acorn stash. See, he's signing that autograph book "Chip" right there.

... Gooey sweet stuff.

... Painting your "mean face" in preparation for war.

... Thumb Wars!!!

... Peace deals brokered by The Mouse himself...

... and members of his cabinet.

... More skulls. You can never have enough skulls. Skulls are badass.

... Indulging your inner child.

... Indulging in a beverage while watching your outer child.

... Indulging in more beverages. With good friends!

... And adding one more to the "Beer with Busy" picture collection. I'm making a gallery one day. Big dreams.

... Making up your own Kodak Picture Spot, while trying not to get trampled.

Isn't...

... Sitting in the Spaceship Earth ride at Epcot, not knowing whether or not to believe it when Jim/Dad says "Oh, this ride is totally not scary." Especially when exactly one year ago on this same trip, Jim/Dad told you the same thing about the "It's Tough to be a Bug" ride. And it ended up freaking you out so much that the first thing all three of you begged him this year was "just don't make us ride that bug thing again!!"

... Posing with this Viking when you are tired, hungry and not too impressed overall with the Epcot World Showcases. But your parents are dragging you through them anyway because "hey! we can buy a different booze in each country! And Twitpic it!"

... The tram ride that takes us back to the non-magical real world.

... Missing the entire trip because of another airline problem. Yes, d Wife was supposed to join us Wednesday night after her month-long tradeshow marathon for work. But things just didn't work out and she was too exhausted to deal with United Airlines, after that last fiasco. Instead, she spent the time alone without her spouse and kid, and spent a day at the spa getting a massage and facial... heeeey! Wait a minute!

By the way, if you want to win a vacation like this for 4, be sure to check out Lolita's other website, ModernMom.com. Disney's going to hook up one lucky family and it may as well be yours. 

The Adventures of Agent 00Fury

Hi, this is Secret Agent 00Fury. As my title implies, my work is highly classified. But through a special arrangement with Noggin, I've allowed cameras to follow me around for a day. Let's hope you catch me doing more than just milking every minute of computer time I can get on this typical Saturday. One cannot expect to master LEGO Racers 2 just playing on the weekends, but someone tell that to my commanding officers! What hardasses. They expect me to use my creativity on the weekdays and play with actual toys and crafts and stuff.

Well it looks like even an elite secret agent can't catch a break this Saturday. I've just been informed that I'm needed for a special mission. Duty calls. So much for hanging out in my underwear all day.

At least I like looking sharp. To tell you the truth, I almost became an iron chef, but I enjoy sportin' the tux too much, you know?

Ok, I'm dressed to kill. But since I'm not old enough to drive, agents 00BusyDad (D.A.D for short) and 00dWife (M.O.M) have been assigned to provide vehicular support. D.A.D. needs to stop for coffee first. No, we secret agents don't just have a serum for that. I need to escort him in case the Ninja Assassin Guild catches wind that we're in the vicinity. Plus, I can practice the secret agent signature "walk briskly and look over the shoulder" move. And I think D.A.D. wants to show me off to the barista chicks.

I've got the microfilm and my LEGO Racers 2 disc too. The game will be mastered on the road on D.A.D.'s laptop.

I power the Comlink to interface with headquarters and receive today's mission briefing. Ok, so I'm playing LEGO Racers 2. Don't tell D.A.D.

09:58 Hours. Mission site reached. Scanning for Ninja Assassins. The coast is clear. I can't see over the roof, but looks good to me. A little vexed that I cannot bring the laptop with me, though.


D.A.D. briefs me on my directive for the day. We need to escort precious cargo from one end of this facility to the other. It is a mission fraught with peril and people going "awwww." D.A.D. tells me to sit right. A secret agent needs to be classy and stuff.


Eventually he gives up. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...


"OK, Agent 00Fury, at least look like you're somewhat refined. Let's practice the intellectual library browsing thing."


We're approaching Zero Hour. I'm quickly re-briefed. There's this pillow, you see, and on this pillow are two rings. Two rings that are under my care and protection for the next hour or so. They call these the dual ultra power rings. D.A.D. says something about "yeah, ultra power alright" and walks away grumbling something incomprehensible about "where's that open bar"...


Some last minute preparations. A man can't kick Ninja Assassin ass with a crooked tie...


Nor without a last minute sugar infusion. Chewy Sweet Tarts. I swear by them ...


And there's always enough time to polish up my charm skills.

Lin... Fury Lin

It is time. Get in position, people. Nervous? No. I move only my eyes when I scan for Ninjas. I was ranked first in my class for Stealth.


The actual ceremony footage was filed away by the CIA. The predicted assault by Ninja Assassins did go down. Luckily I was able to kick those Ninjas "in that secret place" and send them all packing. The rings remained safe, and the union between Steven and Sarah (you may know her as D.A.D.'s friend who takes all those professional looking photos of me and also shot a lot of the footage from that China documentary that he keeps trying to shove down your throats because he went and bought new editing software for it and spent 3 days editing it with voiceovers, effects and music...) took place as planned.

So what does a secret agent do after a long day of hand-to-hand combat? Chill out with an appetizer portion of Ceviche of course!

On second thought, maybe not.

Sigh, the work of a secret agent is just SO tough...


Yup, like I said, sooooo difficult.


Just one minor incident to report during the banquet stage of this event. D.A.D. picked up this orb looking thing and said "00Fury! What does this look like!" Why a thermal detonator of course, said I. I don't think I have ever seen him so proud in my short stint as a secret agent. I rid that thermal detonator of all the candy - I mean explosives - inside.


Hey! I thought this one was classified! For the record, I did not inhale.


In the end, isn't this what it all comes down to? Shedding the uniform, unhooking the cufflinks and kicking back with a nice Ice Cream Martini...

Shaken, not stirred. Of course.

Mission Accomplished!

Armed (with boutonnieres) and dangerous.

OK, If You Throw in Beer and Good Company

I would consider myself the typical guy, except for one thing. I just can't get into ball sports. When I was a kid growing up in Boston, I collected baseball cards, played in little league and high school, watched the Red Sox lose that heartbreaker, watched the Patriots get mauled in the Superbowl, reveled in the Celtics vs Lakers rivalry (McHale, DJ, Chief, Bird, Ainge... all my heroes) and loved it all (Lakers still suck by the way -- sorry, you can take the boy out of Boston...).

Then I just lost interest. One's ability to get a ball from point A to point B just did not matter to me anymore.

And that's how I've been ever since. If it weren't for fighting sports, which I have followed and at times participated in obsessively since UFC 1 in 1992, I would really question my manhood. Thank goodness for fists and blood.

Where am I going with this? Oh yes. I have this blogging friend, Miss. She is a Dodgers fanatic. She's the type of person whom I would totally slink away from in a social situation once the topic of baseball came up so I wouldn't feel like a total unmanly sports-ignorant nerd (I avoid ALL sports related small talk). And on top of that, she is a she. Double manly FAIL. 

But I love my son. And because of this, I try to expose him to as much professional sports as I can stand. I do not want him to have to avoid the water cooler at work. I do not ever want him to utter the words "Fantasy Football? What's that?"

The other day he said "I want to go to a baseball game."

Miss to register 5, Miss to register 5 for customer assistance please...

To ease into the baseball experience, we met on comfortable ground: the Star Wars section of our local Borders Books. Fury and I had just found the coolest book ever. It was a 2,500-question Star Wars electronic quiz book! He was like 5 for 6 on the questions (he'll be ready for the conventions in no time) when Miss and her boy SBJ showed up. After lunch at Dave and Buster's where I seriously considered donning black bar glasses, considering our last excursion to D&B, we headed to the ballgame.

Dodger Stadium isn't too far from where we were. Just enough time for the kiddos to get into a tiff about who would play DJ on the car ride (we decided to let them alternate) and just enough time for Miss to discover my affinity for ABBA. Miss was nice on her blog post about this where she mentions that I blushed because my kid loves ABBA. No, I blushed because there must be a reason my kid loves ABBA. Same reason he loves Star Wars. Steeeerike 2, manly man!

Honestly, I thought Fury would be bored within minutes. Baseball isn't the most fast-paced event, you know? I remember he got bored watching his first demolition derby a few years ago. Yeah, a demolition derby! But I think the grandiosity of the experience captured his attention.

"So the white ants are the good guys, and the red ants are the bad guys?"

Miss was smart. She brought along an entire Ziploc filled with random candy. Blow Pops will buy you a good 20 minutes or so in any situation. And bonus smiles too.

If you pinch the foam finger in just the right way, it looks like an entirely different, yet common, gesture. I'm pretty sure they weren't laughing because of that. At least I hope not...

This day was going way more smoothly than I had anticipated. Fury settled nicely into his role as a Dodger fan apprentice. He yelled "CHAARGE!" and "Let's go Dodgers *clapclapclap* Let's go Dodgers!" like an old pro. He even had the wave thing down. But he still has a ways to go. Check out the real pro:

Yes, Miss carries a scorebook, ladies and gents. Just like my coaches used to do. I was having flashbacks of "Lin, go out there and play!" (usually sometime during the 8th inning if we were up by at least 5 runs).

When everybody was settled in, it was beer time. Finally, something I could boast some mastery over. I trekked over to the concession stand and got the big beers in the flashing souvenir cups (if you're gonna do it, do it right). The kids got churros and kettle corn. 

There's no wrong way to eat a churro and a blow pop. Simultaneously works for some.

After a few innings, we were all getting into it. Fury was understanding the game and my beer was kicking in. Every time Manny Ramirez got up to the plate, Fury would shout "GO Red Sox Dodger guy!!" I had explained to him earlier that Manny was one of grandma's favorite players and that he used to play for Boston (yes, my mom is more into baseball than I am. Shut up). Fury must have really gotten into the spirit of the ballgame because at one point he asked me for nachos!

"Dad, I want nachos."
"Fury, you don't eat nachos..."
"But I want some"
"Nachos? You don't even like nachos! Are you sure??"

His excuse? Drunk on Dodger Fever

My excuse? I was already at the concession stand for nachos anyway.

All that beer, rowdiness, junk food and good karma must've did us some good. The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks 5-3. 

It ain't a victory until some kid does the Cabbage Patch. "Oh yeeeah, oh yeeeeah, go Dodgers oh yeeeah..."

After the game we stuck around to take pictures, finish the beer and wait for the mass exodus to die down. But those silly security guards mistook it for loitering so they kicked us out. What do you think of that, kids?

Me and tha SBJ? We used to gettin' stinkeye in public establishments. Cheers, yo!

So yeah, baseball can be a lot of fun. You just gotta remember to take your eye off the ball.

Thanks Miss and SBJ! We had a killer time!

Fun with Camera Phones

Before we get started, I need to take care of some business. Boss Sanders is going to whack me senseless with a yardstick if I don't complete my "10 Things I Like" list for her Blog Swap (it's like secret santa without the decorated cubicles, paper towels from the office bathroom and donut assortment in a pink box).

  1. Beer T-shirts
  2. Random stuff you hang in a bar (vintage tin signs, neon things etc.)
  3. Star Wars toys
  4. LEGO stuff (combining this with number 3? My kid will love you)
  5. Cooking tools/gadgets
  6. Life if Good T-shirts
  7. Traffic to my blog
  8. Cigars
  9. Anything with a blade
  10. Anything that makes fire
And now, for today's post: Fun with Camera Phones

That Top Secret Invisibility Cloak Thing

You've probably read about this invisibility cloak that the US Military is about to unveil. Well, I already figured it out and I'm gonna share the recipe right here:

- 1 fuzzy blanket
- 1 PSP
- 1 Indiana Jones LEGO game

Place items on child. Turn switch to on position. Enjoy.

* * * * *

Abandon All Hope

Ye who stumbles upon this in ye olde neighborhood shoppe. Chores scheduled for the rest of the day will not get done. And when it's "time to go" (for the 40th time), there will be blood.

* * * * *

The Path to Enlightenment

Is bumpy and hard on the knee joints. Let Crocs comfort footwear put the 'ah' in Nirvana. Now in "Monk Robe Orange." Ok, I know I've gone on record as being a Croc hater, but this just fits the ensemble so well, so I will make an exception. Crocs on monks -- awesome.

 

The Closest Thing to Jurassic Park

I've been to the world famous San Diego Wild Animal Park. It bored me to death. When you have to crane your neck staring down a ravine to catch a glimpse of a tiger's tail behind a bush, you immediately start thinking of more intoxicating ways you could have wasted a hundred bucks. So when d Wife suggested that we all go visit Safari West on our recent trip up north to visit relatives, I was a bit skeptical. Safari West is a wild animal park that was founded by some rich guy who fell in love with some wild animals that his movie producer dad used for a movie shoot some years back (I really should have done some better fact gathering before doing a post on it, but oh well). But what started out as a Neverland Ranch kind of deal evolved into one of the best ways to almost get gored by a wild animal. Safari West kicks ass. Here's our picture story (it's been a while since I've done one of these):

T-Rex shirt? Check. Headwear? oops. Parents aren't perfect. Luckily Uncle Dave has one. Pre-emptive pee (it's a 3-hour tour)? Check.  All systems go.

The walking tour is first. They have a bird area with birds from all over the world. Even ones that are extinct in the wild. Very cool. Sad in the grand scheme of things, but cool here. This is Fury with a couple of Mandarin Ducks.


If you know me at all, you know I'm thinking "Peking Duck" (chill. Mandarin Ducks are not endangered).

Next up, the Cheetah cage.

Since Cheetahs aren't climbers, the fence is relatively low. Which means recently one of the spotted hens flew over and into the pen during a 2nd grade field trip. Lucky kids got to see Darwinism in action. I'm beginning to dig this place and I haven't even gotten into the Jeep yet.

Check out the bench on the roof of the Jeep. Cool! This ain't no San Diego Wild Animal Park tram thing. This is a real Korean War era troop transport vehicle modified for the unforgiving terrain and killer climate associated with wine country!

Our guide gives us a quick briefing on the rules. Most important rule: the animals can touch you, but you cannot touch the animals. Oh - strip club rules? That's all you had to say. She gives us a live demonstration of the only weapon available if the animals get out of hand. See below.

Fury (with our cousin Nicole) is doing his version of "Don't tase me, bro!" Except the taser in this case is just a spray bottle filled with water. Our bichon isn't even phased by a spray bottle. I really hope we don't piss off any Rhinos today. Speak of the devil!

That crazy dude talking to the Rhino is the park's resident trainer. When we drove up, it was just him, 2 huge rhinos and a golf cart. I called him crazy dude for a reason. Sure, Rhinos are good natured lumbering giants who are a little slow. But so was Lennie Small (that will be the only reference to real literature you will ever get from me. BD don't read). Crazy. Moving on.

These are some African cattle (forgot the proper name). They have big horns. The park actually loans these guys out to Texas ranchers to breed with Texas Longhorns. The herd has one freak that was born with male (heavy thick horns) and female (long horns) traits. Poor thing can't even hold his/her head up. I didn't get a picture. It was too sad.

Wine country is indeed beautiful. Even a fool like me can snap a decent photo with subject matter like this.

As we make our away into the hills, our guide tenses up as she speaks into the walkie. I keep hearing "Mary Lou (or some name like that) is at the gate. She is at the gate." A few more times, that same conversation occurs. I'm thinking Mary Lou must be some badass lion or something. This is Mary Lou:

What? That's it? An Antelope looking thingy? But then she tells us the story. Mary Lou (or whatever her name is) is a Gembuck with an attitude. She doesn't like being fenced into this enclosure (even though it encloses acres and acres of hilly mountainside), so every time one of the guides opens the gate to drive in, she tries to escape. Not too long ago, Mary Lou rammed one of her horns through a guide's arm! They put her in solitary for a few months and then on the day they let her out, she rammed a horn through another guide's face!! And another time, she jumped into the empty driver's seat when the guide was unlocking the gate and got her horns entangled in the steering wheel, breaking off a piece of it (her horn) in the process. See, this is what makes Safari West so superior. If there's no threat of impalement, seeing animals up close and personal is really no fun. In fact, it's kind of a letdown.

That's not to say cute storybook animals can't be cool. Like this Zebra for example.

Yes, that is the ever-elusive d Wife. Still not wanting to be shown to the world. No problem, all the more attention for me. See how we compliment each other that way?

Halfway through the tour, it is time to rotate seats so that all the people who wanted to sit on the roof can get a turn. I have a bottle of water in one hand and a camera in the other as I make my way out of the vehicle. I fancy myself to be a ninja sometimes so I decide to take a flying leap out of the jeep. My sometime was not now. Since I had the camera, this "did not quite stick the landing" moment was not documented. However, the Busy Family Players produced a reasonable re-creation for your reading enjoyment after the tour was over. And here it is:

After I pick my ass and pride off the ground, I climb (very carefully) up to the roof seat. The view is spectacular!

Oh, by the way, in case you were wondering if d Wife and I ever resolved the shoe dispute from my last post, this is what we eventually settled upon a few days later. Not as cool as the Cole Haan Air Dereks I had to replace (they discontinued them!), but at least we both dig them a little bit.

On this tour, I discovered my new favorite animal: the Cape Buffalo. I'm sure you've seen pictures of them before. I also recall them from many a Far Side comic. They don't look like anything special. Basically a cow with funny looking horns that look almost Farah Fawcett-esque straight on. But don't let their looks fool you. Cape Buffalo are straight gangsta!! As we drove up to the shelter where the alpha bull was chillin with seven (yes, seven!) of his lady friends, our guide told us that Cape Buffalo have been known to roll up to the campsite of a hunter who has killed one of their own earlier in the day and stomp him to death. On this very same tour, one recently charged the jeep inflicting major damage and sudden onset buffalo phobia among its passengers. Putting unarmed tourists (unless you count a spray bottle) in a loud metal box and rolling them within 15 feet of Africa's second deadliest animal is ballsy. And I love it. Kudos to Safari West! By the way, have you seen the "Battle at Kruger" video on YouTube? Cape Buffalo are bad ass pimps.

Our three hours fly by. We're thoroughly entertained, educated and enlightened. What do you do after an experience like that? You smile a big smile and pose for the family shot (Sorry, d wife still doesn't want to be revealed. No, she is not a celebrity... or is she?).

Bonus Pic:

When we left Santa Rosa on Sunday, there happened to be an air show going on at the airport. Fury got to see vintage WWII aircraft doing maneuvers and F-15's pulling G's and breaking the sound barrier. You simply cannot find a better way to top a weekend trip!


That Blogger Convention… No Not THAT One!

BusyDad: So, Mommica, did you pass out those flyers?
Mommica: Flyers? What is this, college? You have speakers to sell?
BusyDad: Well how else were we going to spread the news about our BlogKids Convention!
Mommica: Hello! Evite? You were supposed to Evite everyone.
BusyDad: I Twittered it.
Mommica: Who the hell follows you on Twitter?


And so went the opening ceremonies of the first annual BlogKids Convention. Organizers and attendees were equally excited to get this thing kicked off, mainly because they were the same people. Mommica and Me and the poor kids who will curse having bloggers for parents our wonderfully adorable children. And the fact that this was held the same weekend as BlogHer? An optimist would say that’s the reason only 2 adults and 3 kids showed up. A normal person would say “dumbasses.”

But what the BlogKids Conference lacked in attendance, it made up for in practical tips and insights for today’s budding blog child stars:


Government Regulation of Blog Post CPI (Cuteness per inch): A Roundtable Discussion

Having cute kids gives some bloggers a distinct advantage, even if it’s just a few more “OMG so cute!” or “awwwww adorable” comments per post. They add up. And in the comment exchange marketplace they trade strong against the “LOL.” Do cute kids create unfair competition? Our experts tackled the issue over Roberto’s Tacos (Wolfgang Puck said “who ze vack are you?” his team was committed to another event) as workshop participants Fury, The Prince and E demonstrated how to overclock the CPI on a page with peaceful group play, oversized swimsuits that require cinching with one hand while digging, residual food around the mouth and expressions of concentration disproportionate to the task at hand (moving sand). Time-tested techniques. This session concluded that quotas should be implemented for CPI, with the recommended punishment for exceeding such quotas being the immediate completion of all the memes sitting on one’s backburner.


Creating the Perfect “Mini Me” Moments: Beginner Workshop

Being a talented blog kid requires the ability to channel key aspects of your parent’s personality on cue. Nothing inspires an “awwwww adorable” (currently trading at 2.5641 LOLs) comment like sitting on your dad’s motorcycle with a huge helmet on, posing with sunglasses and a Budweiser or wearing “dad and me” versions of the same Hooter's t-shirt. In this session, Fury demonstrates an intermediate technique called “stand just like dad does.”


Juxtaposition of Agony: Advanced Workshop


Oh how readers love the perfect group shot where everyone’s smiling cooperatively for the camera -- except for the little one. Juxtaposing agony with pleasantries is an advanced technique that few ever master. We were lucky enough to have one of the foremost “writhe of agony” experts in the blogging field with us at BlogKids 08. They didn’t put a “The” in front of his name for nothing. The Prince shows us below in a live demonstration how to apply the Limp-Arm-So-You-Can’t-Stand-Me-Up technique in concert with the No Nap Banshee Scream.

Mommica would like everyone to know that she created that "beach hair" look on purpose to lend authenticity to the venue.


Finding Relevance: Breakaway Session

A day at the zoo recounted in blog format is just a series of pictures of your kid with a bunch of animals. Unless you can find that relevant hook that makes it blog-worthy. Fury and BusyDad parted with Mommica, E and The Prince to field test their skills at the San Diego Zoo. We tried the “cute kid imitating scary animal” thing, but this blog child star is a little past his prime for the technique. Two years ago, he probably could have supported a standalone blog post with something like this.

No, we had to keep searching. Luckily, diligence, a quick camera finger and a very regular Polar Bear were working with us that day:



We really could not top that moment with any sort of keynote speech, so we decided to just call it a year. I’ve got my Kinko’s card all set to go for 2009. Look for the blue flyer with the cute kids and a polar bear defecating.

I Must Really Like You Guys

...because I was planning on taking this recipe to the grave. Or put up a website and start a business around it. Turns out I'm over the 50 lb. weight limit for netherworld luggage and I'm simply too busy to even register a domain name. "Blog about it" was choice #3 (come to think of it, that's choice #3 for pretty much everything that goes on in my life). So, my friends, I present to you the New England Clam Chowder recipe that won me a new family.
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You're Now Like... A Kid Or Something

I drove a little slower that day, 6 years and 8 months ago. Not because I was shell shocked (I was). Not because a cocktail of apprehension, bliss, excitement and confusion was coursing through every vessel in my body (it was).

It was because you needed me. I was no longer inconsequential. No longer a reckless Ronin. I mattered.

True, you were but a peapod in suspended in ... stuff. But soon you would grow fingers that would need someone to stick a Scooby Doo band-aid on (even though I can't see this "cut" that you're screaming about).  You would grow legs that were "too tired" to walk around Disneyland on (meaning my neck and shoulders will continue to keep chiropractors in business for years to come). You would develop a biting sense of humor that needed a comic foil (and would spawn a blog of epic proportions... ahem).

You sprung this fatherhood thing on me with no advanced warning. I wasn't even done playing Summer Fling Guy with your mama. Talk about now, now, now, now, Dad!

And just when I've begun to acclimate myself to the fact that I have a baby, you go and do what? You turn into a 6-year-old kid! Just yesterday, I was scratching my head over what to do with this:

 FuryBDaylittlefury.jpg

But back then, all I knew about survival was "keep your hands up," so I figured you were doing alright.

FuryBDayfistsoffury.jpg 

Once we passed the "seven day guarantee" offered by most pet shops, mom and I were relieved that we were at least following the instructions properly. Then we started to have fun with it. Do you remember hearing me sing "Rocket Man" while cracking up and pointing at you? Here's why:

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When you weren't strapped to imaginary jetpacks, you were my little lion cub. In fact, I wanted to go to the bar where I met your mama and hoist you up Lion King style for all to see.  Instead, I got my Mufasa on by taking naps on the plains with you.

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Of course mom had her fun with you too. Her favorite things were your chubby cheeks and tiny feet. And we have so many pictures to prove it.

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Oh, I also have to thank you for indulging all my whims, as proven here:

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... and here.

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I know, you couldn't even stand up on your own yet and there I was getting you ready for your ring debut. But come on, let's be fair. You put us through a lot too--even when you couldn't "walk"--like that time I totally busted you messing with my office equipment!

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And then one day you actually learned to walk! As I caught it on film I thought "wow, a self-propelled being!" Despite my comparing you to a guided missile, it was a pretty moving moment.

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Now that you could walk, you were a certified bad ass. And training got underway in earnest. First, you had to get that grimace down:

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Then, of course, you had to dress the part:

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But underneath it all, you remained that cute kid that no one could get enough of.

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Considering you had such big shoes to fill, you did a kick ass job!

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... and along the way, you gave me a pretty big job as well: Chief Lego Engineer.

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Lucky for me, you also began picking up other hobbies. Like bike riding. Which to this day has been my most exhilarating moment with you yet. This also happened to be the day it dawned on me that you were no longer "the baby."

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I mean, would a baby have the balls to do this?

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You are becoming a true warrior, my son. And I am damn proud of you!

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But can you do me one favor? You may be a full fledged boy, and at times (like Sunday at Hooters) even one of "d Boys,"...

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... but now can you slow down?

HAPPY 6th BIRTHDAY, FURY! 

- Love, Dad