Bye Bye, Dada Truck

The Dada Truck came into our lives by accident -- a nice metal crunching, oh-boy-I'm-better-off-donating-this-wreck kind of accident. One minute I was driving a BMW with too many miles and problems to get a click-through on Craigslist, the next minute I was waving good-bye as the flatbed from Cars For Causes hauled its carcass off in exchange for a tax write-off (which does NOT happen - don't believe the hype).

Since I had been driving alone and no one was hurt, I saw the accident as a good thing. As a new dad I simply felt too guilty spending perfectly good diaper money on a new car. But now, a world of possibilities lay ahead of me. Well, let's be honest: one very real, very desirable possibility lay ahead of me: T-R-U-C-K.

That evening, d Wife, our then 7-month old Fury and I set out to kick the tires of my dream ride, the Chevy Silverado. But as quickly as my pulse raced as our sales consultant Brian guided us through the herd of shiny new trucks, my spirits fell as I realized that even the lowest models were priced a tad above what I was willing to spend on transportation to work. I have never used the term crestfallen before, but thinking back to that moment, I can say I was utterly crestfallen. None of us said anything as we made our way back to d wife's car, not even Brian. But then...

"Hey, Jim. What about this one?"

I glanced over to what Brian was pointing at, then chuckled at his well-intentioned joke to lighten my mood.

"Yeah sure. If I could afford it!" (when crestfallen, I lack the skill to produce witty comebacks on the spot).

I had no reason to believe Brian was serious. I had just seen the lowest end Silverados they had on the lot to no avail. The behemoth I was staring at was a Silverado 3500. The biggest meanest truck in Chevy's non-commercial fleet.

"Well maybe you can. It's last year's model. Plus, I've had this bad boy sitting in the lot for two years. No one in this area wants to buy a dually."

(What? You mean you aren't often called upon to tow horse trailers on a moment's notice in Los Angeles? Get out!)

"Well... does it have a roomy back seat?" I asked in a feeble attempt to let practicality steer my purchasing decision.

"See for yourself!" replied Brian, as he opened the suicide doors (it's just a catchy term! ignore, ignore, ignore).

I placed Fury in the surprisingly roomy back seat and a single image flashed through my head: a pea in a Sherman Tank. Nothing on the road could hurt my baby boy as long as he was sitting in this vehicle. So that night I pulled the "it's safer for the baby" card and rationalized my way to 7,000 lbs of rumbling big boy toy. Plus, I actually did get it for less than the Silverado 1500. Can you blame me for passing up a great sale?

I loved that truck. And so did Fury. In fact, "truck" was one of the first words he could say. And soon after that, my truck became "Dada Truck."

Dada Truck gave me purpose...

One day, d wife asked "what are you gonna do with a truck that big anyway?"

"Haul dirt."

"Uh, excuse me?"

"Haul dirt. That's what you do with a truck. I'm gonna find some dirt and haul it."

And so I did.

Along with my future backyard...

And some other cool things like granite countertops, demolition debris, IKEA sale items, Xmas trees, office furniture (for 3 bosses at 3 jobs - never let your boss know you have a truck), spinner bikes, boxes of live fish and ludicrously large fishtanks:

That's a 125-gallon tank we drove 500 miles to give to d Wife's cousin

Dada Truck had personality...

A man wears his heart on his truck. Dada Truck was a billboard of all the things that were important to me. Back then, my passion in life was Muay Thai. Big ass trucks and fight teams go hand-in-hand. Probably because there's a huge window where you can display your team pride (cool, I just checked their website and I'm still on their homepage if you wanna play "Where's BD?"):

For the love of Team, Dog and CountryI also quite liked this bumper sticker I picked up in Nashville, though it was never an effective deterrent:

And my favorite accessory? The antenna ball Fury made me one Father's Day years ago:

 

Dada Truck had a bright future...

Before long, Dada Truck was paid off. Which meant it had pretty much earned tenure in our driveway. True, I've since bought a more practical daily driver and I don't really need it, but do you keep something around solely because you need it? Seven years have gone by since the day I drove off the lot thinking "Jim, you are crazy for buying this," and despite $120 fill-ups during the worst of the gas crisis and inability to park in urban areas, I still sigh when we pull into the driveway in our other cars, turn to d wife and say "if I had all the money in the world and could get any car on the planet, I'd still pick that one." 

This truck was my excuse to ask for a Bass Boat every year for Christmas. This truck was going to take Fury and me into the wilderness on camping adventures involving mud. This truck was going to make me feel better about Fury being on the road as a newly licensed driver at 16. This truck was about good things to come.

Dada Truck is worth $12,000 in the Kelley Blue Book...

But parenthood isn't all about fun and games. It's about giving your child everything in your power to give. And this year, it was about accepting the fact that Fury is not going to blossom in the public school system. Although we missed the application deadline to get him into a local private school for September, we tried anyway. And he got the tour, loved it, took the test, got accepted, got waitlisted for the next available spot, crossed his fingers, got the OK and got very, very ecstatic. What did I get? A bill. For $927. Payable every month. Starting right now.

We never really did think about that part.

And I can't really go to my boss and ask for a $11,124 raise.

I guess in the big picture of Fury's life, the Dada Truck is still about good things to come. But I'm still gonna miss the hell out of it.

 

 

How to Completely Remodel Your Home in 30 days and 12 Easy Steps

As some of you may know, my house recently underwent a total makeover. Whenever people see my house, they always ask "how long did it take?" And then I say "one month," and then they laugh. And then I laugh and we move onto other subjects. It's not worth explaining. But here on my blog, I've got time. So I'm going to explain step-by-step how to remodel your entire house in 30 days.

I'm also going to give away a $100 Home Depot gift card. You know, happy father's day, bribing my readers to leave comments, buying your affections and all that...

Step 1

Move your family to a new city and find the cheapest gas station in town. Fill up twice a week because you have a crazy ass gas guzzling truck that only gets 6 mpg. Bitch constantly to the owner of that gas station about having to fill your tank up twice a week. But since you have a 34 gal. tank and your twice-a-week fillups pretty much cover the rent for his station, he's really cool with you.

Step 2

And because filling up your tank takes about 2 hours at a time, you end up spending lots of quality time at this gas station, just talking about random stuff with this guy. Pretty soon, you find out he's exactly your age, and knows a lot more about lead generation, sales channel management, ROI, Powerpoint and Excel than your average dude who works at a gas station. Turns out, he is a disillusioned corporate refugee who one day just said "Frick this crap. I'm going to open a gas station." And just did it. At around the same time, he finds out you work in the field of online marketing. "Hmm..." he thinks.

Step 3

One day while you are hanging out at the station, Toheed (it's too tiring to type "gas station dude" over and over) casually brings up the online marketing thing, and asks if he can pick your brain about something. But he gets as far as "I wanna sell fish..." before I freak out. "FISH! I LOVE FISH! I am a total fish nerd. Let's DO this!" And we just did it. That was the genesis of OceanPets.com (the site is still up, but the business is defunct - keep reading).

Step 4

Get $800 worth of sales just a couple days after launching the site. Which means you drive your 6 mpg truck to the fish wholesalers near LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) to fulfill orders each day and do it like the big boys -- in special styrofoam containers, pumped oxygen and ice/heat packs (depending on the region to which you're overnighting your tropical fish). Start generating sales of $2,000 per day before long. But then you realize why only the big boys ship live fish: DHL and FedEx often (VERY often) deliver to the wrong address, lose packages and run into storms. All of which does not fare well with Nemo and Dori who are sitting in a plastic bag that only has enough oxygen for a 24 hour trip. And unless you are a big boy with lots of money in reserve, you simply cannot re-fulfill the order, plus pay again to ship it (out of your own pocket) while you wait 6-8 weeks for DHL and FedEx to "review" your loss claim and ask for evidence that the shipment has been damaged. Um, how about "turns out the fish I delivered has ceased to be. It is bereft of life. It is an EX-FISH!" (bonus fish for you if you got that reference).

Step 5

Before calling it quits on the fish business, you insightfully conclude one day that 1) people like to buy live fish 2) it is futile to try to ship fish 3) Toheed has all this empty space inside his gas station 4) you can fit about 23 fish tanks in here with the proper rack set-up 5) you're here all the time anyway 6) the slogan "Fill Your Tank" is the perfect catchy phrase for a gas station/tropical fish store 8) Petroleum products and aquatic life can co-exist, Exxon Valdez notwithstanding.

Step 6

Sell 6 fish in 6 months out of the gas station. Craigslist all the fish tanks. Dust ourselves off and decide with Toheed to sell something less alive through the internet. That was the genesis of Silverguys.com. Let's just say I have a very nice ziploc bag in the closet with all kinds of silver jewelry in it. None of which has been sold. Talk to me, my friend. I give you best price.

Step 7

Go back to your day jobs and stick to what you're good at. Which in me and Toheed's case is being the real-life "Harold and Kumar" wherever we go.

Step 8

Go back to the corporate grind while Toheed buys a smog station in Sacramento. And tries to remodel it. But then is told by the city that he cannot hire any crews to do it unless he goes through a general contractor. So in genuine Toheed style, what does he do? He takes the general contractor's license exam and passes it. Since he now has his license, he throws a couple ads up on Craigslist to see what happens. He lands a ton of jobs and pretty soon he's bringing in more money than selling gas has ever brought. A year later, he brings me in to help him do sales and business development.

Step 9

Not knowing jack about construction, I buy a book and attend a few tradeshows. But Toheed teaches me that that your ability to put a real proposal together, use a spreadsheet and speak English far outweighs any knowledge of construction when you're selling commercial projects. And he is absolutely right.

Step 10

Decide that it's time for another kid, which means the house needs to be bigger. Perhaps a second story? Toheed tells you he can totally do that, so you hire an architect, draft some plans, and send your wife and kid overseas for 2 months so construction can begin. After your wife and kid leave, and you pack all your belongings in boxes and store them in the garage, find out that your zone is the hardest zone in Los Angeles County to get approval for a second story, and it ain't happening without months of jumping through hoops.

Step 11

Make lemonade out of lemons. Rent your house out for two months and go live like a frat boy with your friend Joey the Fireman. That's all I'll say about that.

Step 12

Wait for the economy to slow down and construction projects to dry up along with it. Go back to your day job. Work two more years. Realize you still have construction loan money left and decide it's no longer worth it to try for that second story. Draft new plans (which include your dream kitchen and bar area, which make you feel a lot better about not getting that second story), and then move your family into Toheed's house while he begins construction. Unleash your kid and dogs on this single guy's house and in 30 days? Voila. NEW HOUSE.

* * * * *

I apologize for the length of this post. I really do. We're almost done.

So Toheed succeeded in building us the pimpinest house in only 30 days and I cannot thank him enough for doing this for us (at cost!!). It just proves that in life, there is nothing better than good friends. They stick with you through thick and thin, get into trouble with you, bail you out and laugh with you the whole way through. Really, what more to life is there?

For my good friend, please do me a favor. If you know anyone in the Southern CA area who needs a general contractor, tell them about his company, Complete Construction. He is a great guy and I can vouch for his honesty and committment to service. And if you don't believe me, check out this slideshow I made about our home remodel. It'll blow you away:

 

Awkward segway time (because d Wife and Fury are waiting for me to finish this post so we can get on with Father's Day festivities and can't think of any way to seamlessly weave this giveaway into my post)...

Hey, Happy Father's Day! What goes with remodeling posts and dad? Why, Home Depot of course! And looky. I happen to have $100 Home Depot gift card for you right here! In true BusyDad style, I dropped the ball and failed to put this post up before Father's Day so that the winner would actually have this card in hand to spend on Father's Day. But it actually turned out for the better because now I have a little game to play:

See these really clever gift cards?

 

 

I'll give one to the poor soul got the lousiest Father's Day present this year. If you're a dad, leave a comment on this post describing your lousy present. If you're a mom and you gave a less than ideal gift and would like to make up for it, describe that necktie in detail right here. I'll give you till next Saturday 11:59 pm to get these all in (and pass this post along) and then select a winner.

And if you're really down to the wire and HAVEN'T gotten the father in your life a present yet, here's a link with more info on Home Depot gift cards. I'd want the drill bit one myself. I'm always losing or breaking drill bits, because, you know, I'm only good at doing contruction proposals.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!! 

ADDENDUM:
My first commenter on this post suffered a tragedy that none of us should ever have to face, and in light of that I know some of you felt bad telling me about horrible neckties to win a gift card. Home Depot stepped up (thank you! you rock) and offered her family a $100 Gift Card apart from this contest. So... bring on the bad neckties! The $100 gift card is yours to win - and I've changed the rules, because I can. I will let fate, aka the Randomizer, decide which story gets the card.

ADDENDUM #2:
Geeez how could I forget?? Toheed is getting married this weekend. Please congratulate him (I'll have him check comments)!

Your Momma Don't Dance... But Mine?

Totally does. And much to my surprise, she pretty much tears up the dance floor. Actually, I'm lying. It doesn't surprise me one bit. Take this with a grain of salt because she is my dear old ma, but I have never encountered anyone more driven than she. And never will.

She is also the most humble person I have ever met, so I risk getting a phone call after this post where my mom screams frantically "Jim!! take it down, take it down!" So, while I can, I'm going to tell you about the little woman that could.

My mom came to this country as the wife of a diplomat. She decided she wanted a job. So she got one. Her first job in the US was as a bilingual kindergarten teacher. As much as she loved her students (and they loved her, evidenced by full grown adults stopping her in the street to thank her for being the best teacher they ever had), she needed a bigger challenge. Maybe a Master's degree. So she got one. Working full time, taking care of my sister and me, and hitting the books in the basement "study" after we were in bed, she achieved it. And she moved on to teaching high school. But she needed a bigger challenge. Maybe a Doctorate? So she got one. In the same way as she got her Master's. And she eventually made her way up the ladder. This time into the (major metropolitan city) school department, where she has been runnin' thangs in the foreign languages department for close to a couple decades now.

But the tale is not over. Back in my early martial arts days, I did Shotokan Karate. My mom, who failed at anything athletic she had ever encountered (her high school gym teacher once told her "you couldn't run even if a tiger was chasing you") was intrigued by Shotokan's graceful power and decided to try a class. And maybe eventually earn her black belt. She got one. And along the way, this woman they all called "mom" at the dojo was throwing back Black & Tans with the boys every thursday night after training (when prior to this, half a glass of Lite beer would knock her out).

So a little over a year ago, when my sister gave mom a gift certificate for a few ballroom dance lessons at a local studio, we all should have known. We all should have known that we'd get the phone call that went like this:

"Hi Jim! I'm going to be in Las Vegas in April."

"For a conference, ma?"

"No, to compete in the Ballroom Dance Nationals!"

 And a picture like this:

With mom and her dance partner Chris, Fury (with medal) and sis

Of course, I made you all a video. Because you have to see this. My mom is 60 years old with only a little over one year of experience. And also, I wasn't allowed to film this and it's always more fun when you don't have permission. And last also, Ford had contacted me about 2 weeks prior to our trip and asked if I would like to drive the Ford Flex for a few days and review it. A free tank of gas, a pimpin' ride to Vegas, and a fridge in the middle console (of all things, that is what made me say yes)? Bring it on.

For those of you not interested in cars, my review appears below the video (it's about 6 min long).

 

What I Think of the Ford Flex

Style: Urban, but not too urban cool that you look like a fool driving it at 36 yrs of age. But I have to say I did feel a little bit over my head in hip factor when I was driving the Flex. It didn't help that so many people would turn their heads and look at the car when they drove by. I'm hoping it was because they admired the styling rather than because they were laughing at me.

Mileage and Safety: Excellent. Not that I tested the safety features... but the brochure points out that it has earned a 2009 Five-Star rating and gets 24 mpg highway. That stuff matters now that I have a family and no discretionary income to waste on gassing up a huge 4x4.

Handling: I have read the reviews stating that the Flex has great pickup. I guess if you measure this vehicle against other vehicles in its class (i.e. compare it fairly), it probably does. But to me, it felt sluggish. Then again, my car is turbocharged, and my other car has an 8.1 liter, 6 mpg behemoth of a engine. Not good comparisons. But the ride is smooth. So smooth that you won't even notice going 110 on the highway to Vegas. Theoretically.

Interior Room: Oh lordy! It's like a limo in there. You could probably play raquetball in there too. Room for days. It's the low floor, high ceilings and spacious boxy design. Awesome.

Amenities: This is where the Flex just kicks major ass. Power liftgate is awesome. I hate having to put 10 grocery bags and two 12-packs of soda down just to close the liftgate in my wife's SUV. Being able to press a button is a luxury you don't realize you need until you have it. Also, the Flex's SYNC system, that lets you hook up your phone, MP3 player and whatever other gadgets you have, and then control it all with your voice makes you feel all warm and futuristic. It's also safer, but I'll go with futuristic.

My Favorite Thing: The fridge in the middle console. So you lose a potential seat with the fridge, but I would gladly tie an extra passenger to the roofrack to be able to enjoy a cold beverage whenever I want to. Especially in LA, where traffic and heat are a daily challenge. It even has freeze mode -- perfect for keeping specimens from field trips that didn't make the drive home and are starting to smell.

Overall, I have to say I really like the Ford Flex. I wouldn't give up my current car to have one, but my wife would. And has been asking for one ever since Vegas. Hook it up, Ford.

April is Your Birthday

Not a typo. At least not for this year, right son? How you managed to turn April 15, the day you were born, into a month-long extravaganza is beyond me. You've got skillz, boy. And you've got my old nemesis, fate, on the payroll again, don't you?

Let's see, it all started when we finally got your room set up after our massive renovation.

"Dad, can I get a fishtank?"

As a fish guy (15 fishtanks at home when I was in high school), I lit up when you said that. As a dad who just got rid of a 125-gallon pimped out fishtank over a year ago because you didn't seem invested enough in it to justify taking up 5% of our livable square footage, I smacked my forehead. And got you a smaller one. Mom and I both explained to you that this would be your birthday present. And you were ok with that.

And you totally got down n dirty with it! From washing the gravel to placing the decorations, to setting up the filtration system. As those of us in aquarist circles would say, you're a regular "wet sleeve."

And when you found that piece of gravel floating on the surface and picked it up, you completely validated my conclusion that you are indeed the coolest kid in the world.

Why? Because you said "hey dad, very small rocks DO float!" (dear reader, if you don't know why that makes him the coolest kid on the planet, watch this clip from 2:00 onward).

Now that it's nearly a month later, I look back upon our fishtank adventure and think "money well spent." Having a fishtank is a great way to foster a sense of responsibility in a child. You learn how to take care of a living creature, you understand in a less painful way the realities of life and death...and you learn to develop your own inventory tracking systems to monitor said life and death:

X in the face means you're dead. Ok means you're not dead yet. 1/2 means your fins got chewed off and you're halfway dead.But unlike in nature, we have tupperware. Which means if you're unlucky enough to be designated as 1/2 dead, you win a stay at the floating fish veterinary hospital, where you will enjoy private quarters, have the finest flake food delivered to your door, and most importantly, be protected from the filter intake (where we found you) while you try to grow your fins back.

We boast a 50% success rate with filter suckees. One got his "1/2" removed. The other earned an X.But you want to know the best argument for getting you a fishtank? It does what TV can do, without the TV!

And also, this is quite cool.

Ok, so after your present was taken care of, we had the issue of your birthday party to deal with. Mom did some research. Laser Tag you say? For 35 kids? Pretty much a mortgage payment. Let's keep looking. I hear sticks and leaves are the latest rage in kids parties.

Lucky for us, grandma called us around this time. And extra lucky for us, she is a really awesome ballroom dancer. Who is competing in nationals! In Vegas, baby, Vegas. You were more than happy to forgo your kids party for a weekend at the Luxor. (In this household, Vegas trumps all. Even to my seven-year-old. What... the magic shows are awesome).

"But what about my rowdy friends party!"

Oh yes, there's that. You're a sharp kid. You know that my friends are single guys with discretionary income and no kids. You know that means presents your kid friends would never get you (like that one-hand opening Smith & Wesson deer-gutting jack knife care of Uncle Magnus). And you will totally wear ridiculous tin foil hats and let women in tank tops and orange shorts do the birthday hokey pokey around you ("you put your frontside in, you put your frontside out" -- hmm you ARE smarter than I thought), and tolerate drunken high fives from my rowdy friends in order to get them. Four years running.

But that shirt they gave you. Mind if I borrow it until you grow into it?

And then there's that promise we made you. The one where we swore up and down that we would find that wii in Lolita's garage full of boxes. The extra one that she had packed away ages ago and said you could have. The one that I had to purchase avalanche insurance for before I could set out to find it.

The one I failed to find that day. And we felt terrible about because that was a promise we made to you for Christmas. And now it's your birthday. A promise is a promise...

Then your actual birthday rolled around just two days ago. A birthday where I have never been more thankful for the simple fact that I can put my hand on your little (but growing) shoulders, give you a squeeze, kiss the top of your head and just say "Happy birthday, Fury! I love you." Because life may be beautiful, but sadly, it isn't forever.

Your actual birthday wasn't supposed to be a big deal. Just a small dinner with mom, dad and auntie mei. But sometime around late morning, my phone rang. And the cosmic forces of "life is stranger than fiction" called upon Donald Sutherland, a crazy old lady with teal shoes, and the Los Angeles Federal Building to bring auntie Mr Lady to you, bearing Darth Vader puffy slippers, a Darth Vader watch and a set of metal wire 3D puzzles that would (did) drive a Harvard grad crazy trying to figure them out. And dinner went from a small informal night out with mom and dad to "well damn, it's a party now so let's call Lolita and her boys too."

Auntie Mei, Jaden and some Harry Potter thing that Auntie Mei is trying to indoctrinate you with. Ugh.Wow, kiddo. This month has been quite the party. And you are indeed a force to be reckoned with. Example?

Internet rock stars have coffee with me.

Not a "Beer with Busy" shot, but close enough

But they go ga-ga over you.

Happy birthday, my little buddy, my partner in crime, my mini-me, my better quarter, my half-teenager. Now go do your thing. I got your back and always will.

Love,

Dad

Notes On Being Classy

In my life thus far, becoming a dad has pretty much represented the pinnacle of my existence. And I'm pretty sure there's nothing I can do from this point on to top it. I've carved the beginnings of another generation of person (hopefully people by the time all is said and done) to take what I've brought to the table, improve upon it in their own way and do something grand.

In other words, I deserve a break.

And that's just what I got last weekend (as in more than a week ago, as opposed to yesterday, because I never update this blog anymore. Sorry...), thanks to a most excellent Christmas present from d wife. I got to spend one weekend, by myself, in San Francisco and drink all the fine Scotch I could handle for an entire evening at the Whiskies of the World Expo. Yup, the good stuff. Yup, as much as I wanted. Yup, I'm now inclined to believe that Santa and the Tooth Fairy also exist. For two days I got to shed my dad hat, and swap it out for something a little on the dusty side but still salvageable after almost 7 years in the proverbial garage of all that is me: my classy dude hat.

It's been a long time since I've done something to recharge the guy behind the guy behind the guy, so I was all too excited. So excited that I left my Blackberry on the roof of my car at the airport Park n Ride. Which brings me to my first note on being classy.

Say Thank You

"Sir, is that your Volvo?" said the man.

"Yes..." I replied.

"I think you left some--"

"OH MY GOD! Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!! My phone!!"

[After leaping out of the bus, sprinting to my car, sprinting back and sitting back down...]

"Thankyouthankyouthankyou... I can't live without my phone. I don't know what I would have done. Thank you. Really. Thank you so much."

"You're very welcome!"

"That was so close. Thanks again."

[Turns to his wife and kids] "See? They'll make you crazy. That's why I leave mine OFF on weekends."

Fly Virgin Airlines

After our nightmare on United Airlines, I had pretty much lost all confidence in the flying biz. But wow, nice airlines do still exist. If you want to be classy, you need to feel classy first. And you don't need to shell out for first class to accomplish that. You don't even have to pay more than you would at United Airlines. Just fly an airline where you can buy a ticket and actually get a seat on that plane (I didn't say my standards were high, just realistic).  So the nightclub-style cabin lighting, leather seats (in coach! nice touch), individual touchscreen TVs and flight attendants with British accents helped too. A little wee bit.

Don't Yell. At Your GPS. Like I do.

The GPS on my Blackberry is either really stupid, or likes to amuse itself at my expense. This is the GPS that sends me off an exit to re-route around traffic, then sends me right back onto the freeway. Then off again at the next exit, then back on. Then off. Then on. For five exits. So I was kind of hesitant to use it when I got off the BART (SF's subway system) at Embarcadero station because the hotel I was staying at was only three blocks from the station, according to its website, and I figured simply wandering around would do the trick. As generations of men have discovered and re-discovered, wandering around isn't really an effective navigation strategy, so I eventually I resorted to firing up the ol' GPS.

With luggage in tow, a laptop bag and far too many layers of clothing on for this unusually warm San Francisco Saturday, my journey began. Turn right here, turn left there, go straight 500 feet, turn left here, "recalculating route" (what? why?? I followed your damn directions to the T!) go straight, turn left... for a good 15 minutes, I faithfully followed every instruction my GPS barked at me. And eventually we made it. Right back to the exact spot from which we started. If I wasn't dripping with sweat, chaffed from luggage straps and cursing the waste of taxpayer dollars we call satellites, it would have been quite amusing. But it wasn't like I was going to ask anyone for directions, right? So I punched in the address and started over.

Off to a good start. I actually found the street it told me to find. Go straight? Yes, I can handle that as well.

"You are not on a street."

"What?"

"Recalculating route."

"I'm ON the $%%#^& street!! LOOK!!" (This is where I run into the middle of the street and hold the phone above my head, because without that extra 2 ft., the satellite hundreds of miles above earth's surface simply cannot see me. Waving it also helps to get its attention.)

"Recalculating route."

"I hate youuuu!!!!"

Amidst this conversation I was enjoying with my GPS, I happened to catch a glimpse of a street sign. Not anything that my GPS was asking me to find, but an important one all the same. The street that the hotel was on: Battery St.

"Ok, GPS, I'm giving you one more chance. At least let me know which direction on Battery I need to go."

"Turn left. On Clay St."

"Shut the #$%@ up."

I eventually found it. This picture on the right is the GPS, still recalculating.

Ten minutes later...

"You have arrived at your destination."

"Really? Thank you, I wasn't sure if I was intruding on someone else's hotel shower."

Listen to the Bagpipes

If you do what it takes to take care of what you've got to take care of, then allow yourself to indulge in what makes you happy every once in a while. In my case, it's a fine distilled spirit. Saturday's Whiskies of the World Expo was one of those evenings you just can't forget, unless you sampled over 20 different Scotches, bourbons, rums, vodkas and gins. In which case you're glad that you brought your camera, and can piece together your Twitter updates to figure out what Scotch to buy the next time you hit BevMo.

Some highlights of the evening:

The event was held on the San Francisco Belle, a really big boat. It was docked, but you could still feel it rocking on the water. But I guess after a few drams, who can tell the difference?

All three floors of the boat were reserved for this event. The first floor was the food. I shared a table with two other guys who told me I had to "check out the 31 yr. old" on the top floor. Not totally in Scotch drinking mode yet, I must admit the first thing that popped in my head wasn't a bottle of alcohol.  But it kicked in a second later (before I said something stupid) and off I went.

I went straight to the Tomintoul table on the third floor. The 31 yr. old Reserve is the first drink that touched my lips that night, and the last thing that left my mind. It was one of those rare Scotch moments where you recall it more as breathing it in than drinking it. And when you have these guys marching by you during all of this, well damn, you can almost feel the breeze over the glen, kicking up your kilt.

Then the guy tells you that this bottle retails for $450. And you realize that this is not going to be your daily drinker. In fact, you better have another sample and remember it well. Cause you ain't ever drinking it again. (By the way, the Tomintoul 16 yr. old retails for around $50 and is excellent - my recommendation if you want a nice, sweet-ish, not-too-peaty, smooth Scotch). Since they won my "Best in Show" award, even after a night of sampling the best the world has to offer for getting your buzz on, I returned to their table at the end of the night and said to them "can I take a picture with you for my blog?"

Have a Cigar, Sir

Ok, so they stink up a room, and linger for days. But something that's still made pretty much the same way it was generations ago, and whose individual character reflects the artist who nurtured its leaves and the craftsman who rolled it, is classy. In an old school, guy's guy kind of way. And no one will ever change my mind about that.

Don't Harass Celebrity Crushes

I don't have a great record with this, but I'm trying. So the next morning, as I am strolling along the Embarcadero, I have a random conversation with myself.

"Wouldn't it be funny if I ran into Veronica Belmont here? I mean she does live in San Francisco."

"Yeah, good luck. You know how big this city is?"

"Well I'm just saying, if I did it would be cool."

"Ok, let's say you did. So what would you do, ask for her autograph?"

"No, I'd ask her to follow me back on Twitter."

"How nerdy."

Not an hour after this conversation, as I am walking back to my hotel, guess who I see walking my direction? She is with a male companion and looking like she's enjoying the conversation in which they are immersed. I refrain from my earlier plan of action and just keep walking (after a double take and near-trip). Cause I'm (chicken) classy like that (chicken).

Defer to the Experts

I know, I know. Classy is 90% attitude. But really, who doesn't want to hear "youu loook maaahvelous" every once in a while? That is why when the publishers of Esquire's Handbook of Style contacted me a few months back to review their book, I said "yes. please? please? like right now?"

I love this book. It's one of those books that I will always keep within reach of my closet because it answers ALL the questions that men have about style. And it's done with simple charts, pictures, rules and lists. I don't like to read. I want my information in individual ready-to-eat servings. And this book delivers.

Written for the everyday dude, the Handbook of Style uses profiles of style icons like Fred Astaire, Robert DeNiro, Andre 3000 and even Albert Einstein (rock the V-neck, baby!) to illustrate men's style themes, paradigms and trends, so that you not only know the how, but also the why.

And the book is hilarious to boot. Example? The Denim Flow Chart. Are your jeans blue? No. Are they white? Yes. Are you George Michael? No. --> Take them off. Are they black? Yes. Are you Joey Ramone? No. --> Take them off. 

This is a picture of my copy (which usually lives on my nightstand, unless I'm trying to simultaneously shoot a classy picture of it and come up with an excuse to pour some of the "good stuff").

But if you would like your own copy, I've got one more. And I am giving it away. Just indicate in your comment that you would like to be entered in the drawing and I'll do the rest. Because I am nice. And nice is classy.

Worst American Idol Post. Ever.

Yes, that's me. Yes, I am singing on an "American Idol" stage. No, I have no idea what I am talking about when it comes to that show.

Let's back up a bit, shall we?

Remember that Disney trip from a few weeks ago? I went as part of a media showcase for ModernMom.com. Part of that showcase involved participants shooting short promos highlighting different aspects of a Disney vacation. Someone else was supposed to sing. She ended up not making the trip. I'm a sucker for an audience and I like to sing.

Let's back up a few more hours...

Earlier in the evening, Disney held its offical opening party for a new attraction called The American Idol Experience. Basically, if you've got stage talent, you could actually sing your way to the real American Idol by doing well on the AI Experience stage. To kick things off, Disney threw a star-studded party attended by Idol stars from past seasons.

I don't watch American Idol. I had no idea who half these people were. But I made a video about it. I apologize in advance to any fans of the show who may be reading this. I was so unaware of the greatness in which I was basking.

So what does this video include?

  • Footage of famous people. At least I think they were. I just pointed my camera in the direction of the loudest "SQUEEE"s.
  • Shout outs from Diana DeGarmo, Sanjaya and David Cook.
  • Me on stage being filmed for the promo. The finished promo video is on Modernmom.com.

So what does this video NOT include?

Me creeping up on Carrie Underwood hoping to get a "Beer with Busy" shot. How cool would that have been?? It was after I finished shooting my promo. We were walking to the parking lot and so was she (with her entourage). Please note I was feeling pretty fantabulously star-like and a little buzzed. According to Mike, one of our Disney hosts for the week, I shoved my way through Carrie's entourage, reached out to touch her shoulder and was cockblocked politely turned away by her bodyguard. Kind of like that last scene in Silence of the Lambs, I'd imagine...

Eh, I tried. Anyway, the video is pretty amusing. I think. You tell me...

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. 

Orlando! ...or Bust

What gets a kid out of bed at 6:45am without a fuss? Disneyworld!

What gets a kid to ask "Dad, can I just do all my homework now so I can have free time all week?" Disneyworld!

What gets a kid and his buddies so jazzed that they do nothing but "use the Force" on every automatic door at the airport? Disneyworld!

What possesses you to check in your luggage, despite the fact that the ticket agent tells you that your kid's airline ticket is void? Disneyworld!

What makes you hold onto the hope that this ticket mix-up that voided all of the childrens' plane tickets will be resolved before the plane takes off? Disneyworld!

Where will my luggage be tonight, while I remain stuck in Los Angeles? Disneyworld!

Who had the power to do something about this fiasco but just made things worse? United Airlines!

"We hate United Airlines worse than cauliflower, yo!"

Who mucked around for 2 hours and messed up our entire flight itinerary while trying to book us on the 2:45pm flight after we all missed our 10:45am? United Airlines!

Who do I blame for the kids being so stir crazy at the ticketing terminal that they take turns punching and kicking each other to alleviate extreme boredom? United Airlines!

Not tired, just extremely pissed.

Who finally got our new tickets booked and printed just 30 minutes before the 2:45pm flight? United Airlines!

Who FORGOT to print two of our tickets so we all got turned away at security? United Airlines!

Who got all standoffish when my friend Lolita asked if we could at least use the First Class Lounge so that the kids would at least have a place to sit while we waited for our next flight, a 10:30pm redeye? United Airlines!!

Who gave the reason "it's not our fault, we were rushed" as justification that they owed us nothing despite forgetting to print out those two tickets? United Airlines!!!

Who forced us to pile back in the car and trek back to Lolita's house to get some decent food because the ticket area of the airport has no access to any stores that even sell water? United Airlines!!!!

Quiet reading = total defeat

Who attempted to "make things better" by offering us a whopping $25 (each!!!) in lieu of a first-class upgrade on the redeye? United Airlines!!!

Who takes sucktastic customer service and elevates it to an entirely new art form? United Airlines!!!!!!!

In who's plane am I going to drink 3 too many Jack Daniel's while I try to get some much needed shut-eye after my wonderful first day on vacation? United Airlines!!!!!!!

And with that, we're piling back into the car right now to try this again...

These Internet Friends of Mine

Part I: Weaselmomma Goes to Hollywood

“Are you game?”

That’s how it all started. My friend Weaselmomma was getting tired of running around picking up after 5 kids and a hubby and was ready to throw back a couple of cold ones. Funny, she thought of me. She made sure to iron out every detail via email prior to her visit:

“They do have Coors Light there right? If we go all high end drinking, and this is as high end beer as I go, I am a Stella girl. Or Blue Moon. Or Hoegarden on draft.”

And of course, the obligatory precautions:

“Did you warn your wife so that she doesn't think you have a girlfriend? Or are you going to play it off like you have a fan club now? Complete with freaky stalkers? I can't wait to see CA.”

Awesome. Freaky stalkers. Just how I like ‘em.

I eagerly awaited Weaselmomma’s arrival. When the doorbell rang I swung the door open and greeted her with open arms. But she slipped right through them.

Awkward first moment aside, I introduced her to the family. She was very gracious and volunteered to feed Krypto. Well, truth be told he was eyeing her in a “yummy homework” kind of way so we decided it was best that he put something else in his stomach.

Then I left her and Fury alone to get acquainted while I twittered checked some email. When I came back, Fury had eaten 4 spoonfuls of peanut butter.

“Fury, I said you could have ONE!”
“Weaselmomma said I could.”

[In her defense, this all took place back in September, way before the peanut butter recall. And she did ask me if he had peanut allergies.]

I really didn’t mind, but if Wife Swap has taught me anything, it’s that you have to blow every minor disagreement out of proportion to hold the audience’s interest. And since this post is longer than I expected, here you go:

Whereas I would have been content just hanging at the house and watching TV, d Wife, who is a much better host than I, suggested we take Weaselmomma out for a good time. And in Los Angeles, that means hanging with movie stars, of course!

And through my vast connections (i.e. Southern CA residents with a can of Coke get into Universal Studios for the kid’s price), I made it happen.

First, we met Shaggy:

“Hey, BusyDad, Shaggy isn’t a real celebrity.”
“Weaselmomma, he totally is! You out-of-towners crack me up.”

Then we swashbuckled our way to the front of the VIP line to hang with Zorro and his lady friend.

“Um, BusyDad, you mean the guy who is pretending to be Zorro is a celebrity?”
“Oh you naïve woman. This is the actual Zorro! Antonio Banderas merely played him. I’m doing you one better. Appreciate this!”

“BusyDad, I’m no fool. You said you would take me to see celebrities.”
“Ok, ok, I happen to know Tom Hanks. Wanna meet him? Would that make you happy?”
“YES! Now you’re talking!”

“BusyDad you totally suck. You think that’s funny don’t you? Are you making fun of my thickness?”
“Shhh! You’ll hurt Tom’s feelings. Just smile and say cheese!”

“Oh God. I need a beer.”
“Oh, THAT I can do, Weaselmomma. Let’s go to my favorite joint!”

*Sigh*

Weaselmomma, it was a pleasure hosting you! I hope you come back and visit us soon. I’m tight with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Buzz Lightyear and that whole crew. I can make some calls.

Part II: Welcome to Busyville

Speaking of Mickey’s ‘hood, I was just there a couple weekends ago, chillin’ with another blog pal of mine, pseudonymingly known as Ms Maxwell from Welcome to Schaererville, or as I call her, JMax. Yes, I make up nicknames for my blog friends and adopt them without permission. They’re cool with it. I think.

Jmax is one of those people whom I’ve had to drag kicking and screaming into social media. I really don’t know why I enjoy doing that sort of thing, and I really don’t know why anyone puts up with me doing it.

Maybe it’s because if they do, they get to paddle kayaks with Fury?

And matching kayak uniforms to boot!

Or maybe it’s the LEGO lessons?


Or maybe it’s the “Beer with Busy” photo opp?

Whatever the motivation, I have to say it was a really kick ass time. Although we didn’t get to follow the original plan of actually going to Disneyland (rain) and had to settle for dinner at Downtown Disney, Blog Karma was on our side. We actually found a restaurant that didn’t have a 60 min wait; it had video games; it had Newcastle on tap; and Fury was a true blog kid professional. He was quick with the “only kids of bloggers say this stuff” lines, he wasn't a bit whiny or cranky (which is incredible since we were there till close to midnight), and he even indulged us with a signature Fury video moment.

Before I send you off to JMax’s post to read her account and watch the cool Fury video, I wanted to say thanks to JMax for a really fun time! And I don’t at all regret giving up my free tickets to the Affliction MMA event (Fedor vs Arlovski!) to hang out with you that night. Yes, you are THAT cool.

Oh, before I forget... people, if you’re on Twitter, please go follow JMax. Because kicking and screaming makes me laugh.

Now go watch JMax’s video of Fury pontificating on proper spitball technique.

Headlines from Times Square

Q: What do you get when you send a blogger with a Crackberry on a business trip to New York City for an entire week?

A: Complete abandonment of said blog, a raging addiction to mobile social networking via Twitter and Twitpic and too many random headlines to tie into one coherent post. So you're getting the newspaper version.

Headline.jpg

Weekend Edition

Social "Bubble Boy" Spotted in Times Square Bar

BubbleBoy.jpg

Nov. 3, 2008 - A number of eyewitnesses claimed to have spotted what can only be described as a social "Bubble Boy" roaming aimlessly through Times Square during the late evening and early morning hours of Monday night. Although witness accounts of his physical appearance vary from "so hot he could be in a hot blogger calendar," to "total nerd who's probably into Star Wars," to "a guy who looked like one of those internet marketing pricks at the AdTech Conference," they all confirm that this person had both thumbs glued to a small electronic device. Oblivious to all social stimuli, trash cans and sign posts within a 3 foot radius, this "Bubble Boy" eventually settled into a local watering hole around 2 am and uttered his only reported string of interactive communication for the entire night: "Yo, I didn't miss last call did I? Oh sweet! Newcastle please." Upon receiving his beer, this individual proceeded to laugh out loud and nod in agreement with this device, pausing every once in a while to sip and/or feverishly click buttons with both thumbs, muttering occasionally, "Damn. 3 characters over the limit! I gotta be able to form a contraction here somewhere," a classic sign of Social Media Syndrome, specifically Twitter on the Brain, according to experts.

Editorial: They Don't Make Stalkers Like They Used To

I remember reading about stalkers when I was little pre-blogger. They scared me in a good way and I couldn't wait to get one of my very own someday. So when this person named Carol from NY emailed me a few months ago, and was able to pinpoint and describe my neighborhood based upon my blog posts and videos alone, I knew I'd made it. Turns out what I originally attributed to clever triangulation and use of satellite imagery was actually due to the fact that Carol grew up a mile from my house and only recently moved to New York City. So much for that. But she did have one thing going for her: she is not a blogger. What?? A reader who has no blog? Why would anyone read this blog without any desire for a reciprocal visit? It baffled me. It baffled my friends on Twitter as well, who were all sure that if I met up with her, I'd end up dispersed throughout the Tri-State area in various degrees of chopped-uppedness. The following tweet from Miss was representative of the sentiment that night:

"no blog? Same city? That's a whole new level of stalker. And not the good kind. 3:44 PM Nov 4thfrom TwitterBerry in reply to BusyDad"

Cool. Now I had to meether. How cool would it be to update my Twitter page with something like "Does anybody know where the trunk release on a late model Oldsmobile sedan might be?"

Turns out that Carol was headed to Times Square to watch the election. As was I. Stalk on, stalker! Sometime halfway into election night, I made my way into Times Square. As planned, I dialed her cell so we could meet up. I have to admit that I was a tad disappointed when she answered "I'm near the big Yahoo! sign" instead of "look behind you, BusyDad" when I asked her where she was. And on top of that, I had to wade my way through a quarter-mile-thick wall of people to find her. Wait... I thought stalkers were supposed to find you.

So my scary stalker? A fresh-out-of college "short Asian girl" (her own words) with a penchant for parenting blogs. And instead of 9" Buck Knife, she brought along her 5' 2" friend Jill. Yeah, so instead of getting chopped up, I treated two young ladies to Korean food. But I have to admit that it was cool that any time I referenced something Fury did, she knew exactly what I was talking about. And she noticed there wasn't any Newcastle at the restaurant. I could get used to this.

(And the next day, after properly stalking my Twitter feed about our evening, Carol emailed me that she actually did have a private blog and gave me permission to share with my other stalkers: xanga.com/amariyah. Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo...)

World News: BusyDad Accidentally Steps into History

Nov. 4, 2008 - I knew that the election was going to take place while I was in New York. But being from Los Angeles where there is no such thing as a central point where the entire city converges for major events, I hadn't the slightest notion of the magnitude of what I was about to experience.

My hotel was about a half mile away from Times Square. When I was done with work for the night, it was close to 10:00. I hadn't seen any coverage of the event on TV, nor did I tune into the internet. I just knew from being there earlier that day that people would be gathered to watch it on the jumbotrons.

As I made the trek to the Square, I started snapping pics with my cameraphone, but all I could do was delete them. As quickly as they were snapped. When you take pictures, you capture an experience, but what if 99% of that experience consists of an aura? An aura of true hope and goodwill that is completely foreign to your 36-year-old jaded heart? It throws you off. Add to that a caravan of fire engines roaring down Broadway to an emergency, ushered along the way by thousands of onlookers applauding and yelling "thank you!" Too much to ask of a 1.3 megapixel cameraphone, isn't it?

As my newfound spirit of idealism subsided to tolerable levels, I was able snap a few pictures and post them on my Twitpic site for my friends to see in real-time. Here's one of them. It's only beginning to sink in that the time and place where I was standing will be featured in history books my son will read.

elation.jpg

Oh, and I was on TV, yo. If you squint real hard you can make it out:

barack.jpg

Celebrity Sightings: Smartass Mom

A mom blogging superstar was spotted in New York City this past week, and independent sources have linked her appearance to BusyDad's arrival in the city around the same time. A comedian-whom-you-kind-of-recognize-from-oh-what-was-that-movie-called-again-who-now-commentates-on-VH1's-Best-Week-Ever told the Times "Mmmhmm. Sure BusyDad, you had a [airquotes] conference and they just happened to be [airquotes] in the area. Yeah, like, hellooooo."

BDTraci1.jpg

On Thursday night, BusyDad was seen running around town with New Jersey mom blogger Traci, aka Smart A$$ Mom. Sources say that upon meeting at a random streetcorner, they wasted no time ducking into the first pub they could find to pound some brews. Once the drinking started, Traci was overheard telling BusyDad that he was her first ever blogger meet-up. He was all sorts of proud after that. And when the Smithwick's promo team spotted the two obviously famous internet celebrities, and gave them free keychains, t-shirts and a round of Smithwick's, they were both pretty glowing. That explains BusyDad's lighthouse beacon cheek glare in the picture.

And what goes better after an hour filling your belly up with Irish beer? Duh, sushi, of course! At least SmartA$$ and Busy thought so. Or they thought it a good excuse to drink sake and more beer. And order Black Cod (a cooked fish that tastes better than butter).

After dinner, the pair were spotted meandering towards Penn Station and subsequently missing Traci's train. No problemo. Penn Station has a bar. Nothing like Jaeger shots and more beer to kill a half hour.

So what does Perez Hilton have to say about BusyDad's galavanting around Manhattan with mom bloggers and stalkers and acting way too college boy in one week?

BDTraci2.jpg

Perez is obviously jealous. Because who cares if he makes $40K a day in advertising on his blog, and gets to be on Celebrity Rap Superstar. He's still not the uber cool supafly goofy goober they call BusyDad.

My NYC Trip. Mad Libs Style.

There’s one good thing about being such a busy guy. I have an excuse to let my blog sit here doing nothing for days on end. But there’s a downside too. If event blogging were a Piñata, I’d be the slow kid who’s stuck with a fistful of Now and Laters. By the time I get to it, all the clever angles have been covered. All the cool pics have been shown. All the news is old. So what does one do when all the good words have been taken? Throw in new ones, of course. I now present to you highlights from my trip to New York City, Mad Libs style.


Presented to you by the Random Word Generator

“What?” I thought. “I’ve really been voted to be on the Unpardonable (adjective) Blogger Calendar?  Get the tempura (noun) out of here! You are totally notarizing (verb) me!”

But it was true. Apparently, the internet thinks I am smoking dimply (adjective). Off to New York! What a mind-circularizing (verb) experience it was. Some random notes because I am too ambered (adjective) on weakfish (noun) to write anything seamy (adjective) right now.

  • So this is that it feels like to be a quarterdeck (noun). I was in an actual studio, with two awesome photographers, and in that room were pecans (plural noun) that I could advertise (verb) whenever I wanted. Are you sure this won’t get on TMZ?
  • Thanks to their mad skills, they had me looking pretty vicarious (adjective)! I don’t like to counterbalance (verb) my own horn, so I’ll let Backpacking Dad and Amy intercept (verb) it for me. I stuck around to watch their shoots, as well as ChicShopperChick’s. All three were certifiably blinding (adjective). Like I would totally chronicle (verb) with them, you know? Well, maybe not Backpacking Dad. Ah, who am I kidding, even Backpacking Dad. Oh! Forgot. I also met the infamous NYC Watchdog. He's the galvinization (noun)! He had a Darth Vader hockey jersey on - 'nuff said. Also, as I was leaving, Katia was getting her shoot on. Ski goggles (not mad libbing) are hot.
  • Before this day, I didn’t really know anyone too well, but everyone was so polyhedral (adjective) that I felt totally barbecued (adjective). In fact, I even went glazing (verb) with Backpacking Dad, his totally cute (ok, so that wasn’t mad libbed either) wife Emily, ChicShopperChick, her sister-in-law and my friend Julia. I got so burbled (verb) that I ramified (verb) the cashmere (noun). Seriously, you should have seen me. Actually no, good thing you didn’t!
  • When I wasn’t disaccording (verb), I got to do some New York-y things. After 5 cabs told me to yabber (verb) off, I finally got one to take me to FAO Schwarz. They had a giant Lego Chewbacca. Pretty beating (adjective) tactical (adjective), dude! I was also able to enjoy dinner at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain with my friend Julia. Transfusion (noun), yo… that man can consecrate (verb)!
  • Yeah, so you may have noticed I have no pictures. I was too impregnated (adjective) to take any. But if you go to here you can see all the behind-the-scenes pics other people posted.
  • Of course this would never have been possible if it weren’t for Jane and Sarah, who took a great idea and abdicated (verb) with it. Thank you both for giving me an experience I will never vibrate (verb)! And of course, I would  never have gotten my barometer (noun) over there if it weren’t for all you readers who voted for me! You guys stashin’ (verb) undulate (verb)!
  • I’ll keep you updated as to when the calendar will be available (you’ll be able to purchase it from here). And since my only goal is to get on Queen Latifah’s (famous person) radar so she’ll burl (verb) me, anything I earn from this will go to a worthy charity, which shall be named later.

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!


"If Fury Wants to Hang Out, Dial 9-1-1"

Warning: The following post is a blatant attempt to increase traffic and readership among my primary audience, women aged 24-36 [Editor's note: based on comments, some think that this is my desired demographic. No, this is my actual primary demo, according to my stats. I desire ALL of you! Well not in that way... you know what I mean!]. If you do not fall within this demographic, forgive me this once. A blogger's gotta do what a blogger's gotta do. Why do I feel the need to increase my traffic? I certainly don't make a penny off this blog. Maybe it's an ego thing? Yes. Yes it is. I have an insatiable ego (which I ironically have to put on the backburner to write this post. It'll become apparent in a sec).

My baby god-daddy Joey used to work for the LA County Probation Dept., which meant he ran thangs over at the juvenile detention camp. Fury had a total hook up in case he ever messed up and had to do a stint at juvi. I had it all arranged. He could get a job at the library, do all the officers' taxes, play PS3 in Joey's trailer, ghost write his MySpace page...

Fury now has to behave himself. Joey recently graduated from Fire Academy and currently works for the LA County Fire Department. And as of a month ago, works in the station assigned to our house. Los Angeles County is the largest county in the United States. There are close to 200 stations he could work for. The fact that he was stationed at ours is nothing short of blogworthy. In pure Joey fashion, he informed me of this via a text message, which I used as the title of this post (I keep telling him he needs to start a blog, then I think about it and go "no no no, please do NOT start a blog!").

Fury and I were getting gas the other day when we saw a County Fire Engine in a nearby parking lot. Since his station only has three people, I knew Joey had to be there. I stood Fury on the hood of the car to wave Joey down (Hey, he's his godson. He's allowed to obstruct a rescue operation to say hi).

Luckily for Joey's career, he didn't see him. Fury of course asked if we could eat at the restaurant next to the station and visit Uncle Joey after dinner. 

I didn't have my camera with me, so forgive the picture quality of my camera phone.

Yes, I'm hitting below the belt by showing you a fireman and a cute kid.

So sue me.

The  coolest kid in school.

Fun fact: a Fire Truck has a ladder. A Fire Engine is the one with the hose.
Take care of your hose and your hose will take care of you.

Always Late

By now, you’ve already seen and heard all the highlights, lowlights, gossip and blackmail pictures floating around the internet regarding the hugfest that was Blogher 08. And in true BusyDad fashion, I’m contributing way after the fact by simply saying “yeah, what they said.” Plus this:

This is how I originally was planning on going to Blogher 08:

Courtesy of Maria

And I totally partied it up as a drink stirrer that first night. This is actually the first time I was introduced to Dawn of KaiserAlex.com.

Courtesy of Maria
Dawn and VDog

 

After that first night, I was chatting with d Wife about my adventures as an inanimate object, and she wanted me to shut up already took pity on me.

“Why don’t you just go.”

I’m a good listener.

Not 24 hours later, my plane touched down at Oakland airport. After a quick BART ride, I was in radio contact with some of my best blogging pals whom I had never met!

Chronological re-enactment (to the best of my recollection) of my text messages between checking into my hotel and the 5-block walk to Ruby Skye for the Blogher party:

how far away?
Me: 4 blocks? Not sure
Mr Lady: get your ass over here!
where are u?
Me: 2 blocks
Miss (of the popsicle stick crew): u landed yet?
Me: yup! 1 block away from meeting them.
Miss: you all better drunk dial me
Me: of course!
Miss: I want pics
Me: 1 block!

As I made my way to the front entrance, there they were, behind the glass waving to me from the lobby. It was surreal. I know these people so well. I consider them my dear friends. But having never seen them in real life, it was more like meeting the stars of your favorite TV show or something. Except that they totally know you! And will run up and hug the poop out of you. For those of you who read Jogging in Circles, Whiskey in My Sippy Cup, Immoral Matriarch, Classy Chaos and VDog & Little Man, imagine what it would be like to meet all of them at once for the first time. Nuts I tell you. Nuts.

But the joy and excitement quickly deflated. They were sold out. I couldn’t even charm buy my way in! As I stood there guilty as hell that my dear friends were actually considering leaving this party to hang with me elsewhere (if it were all guys, that would be an “I love you man!” moment). VDog grabs my arm and says “Walk. Just walk. Go, go.” She’s connected, yo. Let the partay begin.

 
I call this one the Axis of Awesomeness. My awesomeness acquired naturally via osmosis.


Mr Lady, OHMommy and me

 

And guess who showed up in the midst of our partying? Soapbox Mom! I think I remarked sometime during the evening that we shouldn’t sit together because we were wearing the same outfit (hanging out with chicks rubs off on you after a while).

Soapbox Mom (who has interviewed me twice on her show Soapbox Radio)

Drunk … with happiness!

Kimmylyn and VDog

As promised we dialed Miss into the festivities and passed the phone around. I snapped this pic with my phone to send her.

 

Great. Now every guy with a computer is going to start a blog.

Shortly after this picture was taken, my memory got fuzzy. I remember JD, pancakes, corned beef hash, and an overwhelming feeling of warmth, friendship and camaraderie that, much like many embarrassing photos of me not published here, will float around for a long time to come.

You Want the Food? You Can't Handle the Food!

Hey you! Put. Down. The. General Gao's Chicken. Lemme lay some real Chinese cuisine on you. My China trip was an eye-opening experience on all levels. Especially the food part. I really thought I knew Chinese food. Sadly, even the authentic restaurants here give you but a watered-down version of what's available in the motherland. You know how after a while all Chinese food tastes the same? Should we go to Golden Jade Dragon Palace, Jade Palace Dragon Garden, Golden Dragon Garden Palace or Garden Palace of Gold Dragons? Well in China it would take a lifetime of eating to reach that point, due to the sheer number of regions, indigenous cultures and ethnic groups you've got there.

I'm posting today to give you a fresh perspective. Chinese food isn't all batter-dipped deep fried hunks of meat covered in day-glo sweet and sour sauce (as much as I admittedly love that). It is complex beyond comprehension. I have never experienced as intense an interplay of flavors and spices as I did when I was eating in China. These pictures and descriptions do not do any of these dishes justice, but it's the best I can do from here.

(I promise, after my next post, which will be a China video of epic proportions, we will resume our regularly-scheduled Fury and fatherhood funnies). 

 

Read More

Do Parent Bloggers Exploit Their Children for Personal Gain? Yoouuu Betcha!!

d Wife suspected it when we watched Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day and I did not complain.

d Wife confirmed it the day she suggested we watch Enchanted on pay-per-view and I said "Sure! ok!" and got off the computer right away without a fuss.

"You totally crush on Amy Adams, don't you!"
"What? No, no, she's pretty, I mean, she does look like a Disney princess and all... but no..."

She totally busted me when the song Amy Adams sings from Enchanted was playing on XM Kids and I couldn't wipe the dumb ass smile off my face. 

OK, fine. I have a new celebrity crush. So what?

So what?

So what do you do when that celebrity crush appears right next to you in line at LAX as you wait to board your plane to Washington, DC? Huh, hot shot?

Amy%20Adams.jpgYes. It happened. There she was. The princess. In the flesh. Going straight to first class as I waited to board my peasant economy class seat. After I regained my equilibrium, I thought, "cool, I can get one more good look at her as I make my way to the back of the plane."

But fate felt bad for all the tricks she has played on me recently. Fate threw me a bone today.

Fate changed my seat at the last moment to row 10. Princess was seated in the last first class row. Row 10 is just two rows behind. Fate also made sure I sat in front of the emergency exit, which meant my laptop bag could not be in front of me during flight. Which meant a flight attendant had to take my bag and find a bin on the plane where they could stow it. A bin that happened to be directly across the aisle from you-know-who.

Well, I had to do work, you know? Which meant I needed to get my laptop once we reached cruising altitude. That gave me a few good minutes to convince myself that such an opportunity should not be squandered.

Should I say something? What the hell can I say to her that won't make me come across as a total dork? Think, dammit!!

Waaait a minute! I got it!

I waited for just the right time. I strolled up to the overhead bin and took out my bag. I put it on the floor and opened it to get my laptop out. There she was, not more than 2 feet away from me. It's now or never, champ.

"Excuse me... " I said, a little less confident than I had intended.
She looked up from reading her magazine. 

"Um, I just had to tell you that my son will totally flip when I tell him that I met you on an airplane" 

She flashed me a big princess smile. "Aww. That's so sweet!"

"Yeah, he's only six, you know?"

"Aww. Thanks!"

"Ok, bye!" *run run run run back to my seat*.

 OH my son. You ROCK. You so totally ROCK!

 FuryAndPrincesses.jpg

Me and my son. We got this thing for princesses.

Removing "Landscaping" From My CareerBuilder.com Search

Check out my new About Me blurb. Notice anything different? Yup. No more 4-hour round-trip commute. No more job. I'd love to take up 4 or 5 paragraphs lamenting about office politics, but I will spare you the details. Instead, I'd like to demonstrate that despite my lack of a job, I am still living up to my online handle. Oh yes, it'll take more than losing my job to take the "Busy" out of this dad. Today I made d Wife very happy. And I've got pics. Yes, it's what you think... if you thought of lawn work.
Read More

Leap of Faith #3: 4 Days, 4 Theme Parks, 3 Kids… Buckle Up.

Ok, so this isn’t really a leap of faith per se. I’ve been wracking my brain to find a leap for this week and I just couldn’t come up with one (I have good ones lined up for the next two weeks though). Taking 3 kids under the age of 6 to 4 theme parks in 4 days is more like a suicidal leap off a cliff. Close enough, right? An easy read for a Friday night, as this is mostly pictures.
Read More

Leap of Faith Friday: Homies on a Train

One of my best blogging pals, Christine at Chicken Fried Therapy came up with a killer idea: Leap of Faith Fridays. Since this February is a leap year, she and a few brave souls are going to bare it all this month. Leap of Faith Fridays are all about removing yourself from your comfort zone and taking that flying leap. Into what, we don’t know. That’s the point. It could be an embarrassing video you’ve kept hidden under your bed, it could be starting a project you never thought possible, or it could be as simple as telling a tale of a time you had to cross your fingers and hope that you wouldn’t get robbed by a roving band of ex-cons. What? How convenient! I’ve got one of those. Well, this first post is going to be easy. But stay tuned. We have potential blackmail material all month long. Every Friday this month. That’s five for those of you playing at home.
Read More