Give me fried apple pie or give me dea-- oh, wait!

This week, McDonald's announced the return of the McRib sandwich. What a slap in the face.

For nearly 20 years, I have kept the porch light on for the best thing McDonalds ever threw into an elongated semi-spherical cardboard container with ejection flaps: the fried apple pie. From the "Caution, Filling May be Hot" warning label to the guide holes that enabled you to gingerly slide the pie out of the box with your kid fingers, the fried apple pie was the manifestation of fast food perfection. Its unapologetically crispy bubbly crust served as a fitting complement to the molten oozy apple-y goodness percolating inside. The first bite was heaven, the last bite, sweet, sweet sorrow. When I was a kid, I used to stick my nose in the empty box afterwards to simply savor whatever aroma was left.

Then in 1992, McDonald's used my fried apple pie as a pawn in their public relations game, replacing it with a baked version in an effort to appear more health conscious. They even changed the box. My beloved apple pie went from sweet beckoning siren to something more resembling a homicide victim on an autopsy table. It was bloated, grotesque and oozing out of its wounds. Lifeless.

But I didn't fret. A few months tops, I thought. The public will grow restless, demands will be made, heads will roll and the fried pie will be back. Months turned to years. The internet got invented. And I searched desperately for answers.

Sometime around 1999, I found the Fried Apple Pie Locator. It was like finding an underground reisitance movement. I learned a few things, like the fact that you'll most likely find fried pies at McDonald's locations in Walmart stores because their limited space doesn't accommodate an oven. But more importantly, I had a source for old school apple pies.

Operative word: had. I found out last week that one of the underground resistance Walmarts fell to the hands of the enemy. "Sorry sir, we no longer carry the fried pies." When I got home, I checked the pie locator. That Walmart location is still a "confirmed" fried pie location, but only because the last update to the site was made in 2008. The resistance movement has moved on.

I probably would have just taken the defeat and let it go under normal circumstances, but today's news about the McRib woke up the revoltionary in me. McRib? Serious?? If I asked 50 people on the street if they'd rather bring back the McRib or the fried apple pie, I guarantee you more people would say apple pie. Not just a little more -- a landslide more. Go ahead try that yourself and prove me wrong. I assure you, I am not. Hell, I'd rather have the McDLT back. I actually liked keeping my hot side hot and my cool side cool. It made sense. The McRib makes no sense! Pork molded to look like baby back ribs? No one puts a slab of ribs in between bread!

I was channeling Mao, Che Guevara, and the Contras all at once. In my revolutionary fervor, I even made a petition to bring back the fried apple pie and put it out on Twitter, which nobody signed. But just as I was getting ready to say "Screw you guys. I'll do this myself if I have to!" I got a call from d Wife.

"I read your tweets" she said. "Funny, I got you something before I even read those tweets. You'll see when you get home."

What did she get me? These:

Those are fried apple pies, folks. From Pizza Hut! I guess they just came out with these because I went to the Pizza Hut website and they are not listed. Even though I am on a strict Paleo Diet right now, I had to try one, in the name of science. Ok, five. But I had to make sure these were the real deal. And they are. Look at the joy in my face. You simply can't fake this:

Yes, I committed a fashion faux pas by wearing the same shirt, two posts in a row. No, my dog is not eating my apple pies, as he is very well trained, but can still lay a good guilt trip on you. Yes, I am totally going to eat all 10 pies this weekend. No, I guess I won't go down in history as a famous revolutionary. Yes, the Force is strong with my wife... or I whine way too much about fried apple pies. Either way, I'm gonna be burning my tongue for a long time to come and savoring every minute of it.

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?

Ask a Dad Blogger, Live, Tue 10/26 5pm PST

As a community leader in the "SoCal Family Connect" community on BlogFrog, I'm afforded the opportunity to discuss anything and everything about parenting, family and other related topics with a bunch of cool people from all over. And I get to use more then 140 characters. I also get to think before I post.

Well all that has changed, as the evil geniuses behind Blog Frog have asked me to host a live, real-time chat on Tue 10/26 (today!) at 5pm PST... no, not host, more like submit to. Because this chat is called "Ask the Dad Blogger."

I promise to be open, honest, entertaining and ready to plead the 5th.

Just go here.

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.

The noble-intentioned boob post

For once, I can say I'm working out just for boobs and not get dirty looks.

Hey, I saw that!

Fine, let me explain. You know October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month right? You also might be aware that I kick my own ass 3 times a week at 6 in the morning (which is nuts in its own right) doing Crossfit (yup, that is my Crossfit gym - and I'm divulging personal info, but then again, who would be crazy enough to stalk me at 6 in the friggin morning?). What I love about Crossfit, besides enabling me to purge the contents of my stomach on their driveway every once in a while, is the fact that Crossfitters are always looking to tie workouts to fundraisers. Puking for Philanthropy, in other words (not trademarked - that's my term).

This month, we're helping out Barbells for Boobs, an organization founded by a fellow Crossfitter that funds mammograms for those who can't afford it. The event is called Amazing Grace. Crossfitters across the nation will pay money, collect donations, and then participate in the workout we call "Grace" (all of the standard Crossfit workouts are given female names, because like a hurricane, or a female I guess, they will wreck you).

If you haven't already given to another worthy Breast Cancer cause, and you plan to, I'm asking you to donate to Amazing Grace 2010. Just go here and donate via the sidebar. If you do, please select Crossfit Monrovia in the dropdown menu for Crossfit Affiliate.

This will pretty much kill me. But I've done worse things for boobs.

A Tale of Two Concerts

Prologue

I have the most random taste in music. On a single drive home from work, my soundtrack will cover everything from Mack 10 to Abba to John Coltrane to The Descendents to Luciano Pavarotti to Waylon Jennings to Poison and back again.

Chapter 1: Willie Nelson

Yes, I love Willie Nelson. Don't laugh. In fact, seeing him in concert has always been on my bucket list. And then I got a phone call last week from my buddy Joey the Fireman.

"Jiiiim...What are you doing tonight?"

"The usual." [Joey has learned family-man-speak for "nothing as exciting as what you probably have planned for tonight."]

"Apply for a hall pass -- Willie Nelson is playing the Greek!"

I began to strategize for my night-out visa application.

"Well, I've always wanted to see Willie in concert and Lisa knows that..."

"Dude, the man is 150 years old. We may never get another chance!"

Joey is a smart man. I called Lisa, told her Willie Nelson was 150 years old, and received clearance to abandon the family on a Friday night to watch one of my cowboy heroes (yes, a Boston-born Asian guy can indeed have cowboy heroes).

I rushed home to have dinner with the family and then got me to the Greek. The Greek Theater is a concert venue nestled in the Hollywood Hills, so if you get there late, you go to off-site parking, which is basically a cleared patch of woods. Upon exiting my car, I noticed a family of deer grazing not 50 feet from me. They were hanging out with a coyote. I guess those nature shows are rigged. Some other guy was witnessing all this with me. It wasn't until he walked away that I realized it was Johnny Knoxville from Jackass. If ever there was an "only in L.A." moment, that was probably it.

After risking a coyote mauling to snap the above picture, I made my way over to the theater to meet up with Joey. The first two songs Willie performed were two of my favorites (Whiskey River, Beer for my Horses), and he rocked them, or so I hear. Joey and I were stuck in the booze line trying to get our Jack Daniels on. Priorities.

We were seated separately (long boring story), so I found my seat and got settled in, right in between two nice couples. Very retired couples. The aroma of pot smoke and IcyHot will now forever remind me of "On the Road Again."

The concert was awesome. But Willie pretty much bluesified all of his songs to suit the LA crowd, which I could have done without because I'm hardcore outlaw, you know? Joey and I met up during the encore and as luck would have it, Willie performed one of our favorites: Good Hearted Woman.

"Hey Jim, remember that time we did this at Karaoke together?"

"Huh? We did? I don't remember. When?"

"At your birthday party."

"Oh, no wonder."

That's me and Joey for you... making memories neither of us can ever remember.

Chapter 2: The Pixies

There are only three bands in existence that have been on my "heavy rotation" list consistently since high school, 20+ years ago: Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses and the Pixies. So when I found out that the Pixies were getting the band back together for the 20th anniversary of the Doolittle album, I pulled the birthday card.

"What do you want for your birthday?"

"Pixies tickets."

"Who are you going to go with?"

"No one. I shall go by myself. Pixies tickets, please."

"Where are they playing?"

"San Diego. I want Pixies tickets please"

"That's far..."

"Pixies. Pixies. Pixies. I don't care."

Or something equally childish...

So, on my birthday, my wife got me a card. And inside that card was a gift card. For iTunes. I think d wife likes to see me weep.

But then it was cake time. And on top of the cake was a printout, from Ticketmaster. WOOHOO!!! And another birthday card that said that she booked me a room at the La Jolla Shores hotel so I wouldn't kill myself driving back (I fall asleep on the road when it's dark). Also, a "hint, hint" about making this a family trip.

Since the concert was on a Sunday, I thought it might be fun to head over in the morning, spend all day on the beach and then head back the next morning. Oh no... Fury had this thing called school to attend. You know what's cool about being a parent? You don't have to forge a note from dad to get out of stuff anymore. You are the dad! Membership has its privileges.

Sunday morning, we packed up the car and headed down to San Diego. Fury was playing Rock Band on his iPod Touch and I told him to plug it into the car stereo so we could all enjoy the tunes. Yes, video game soundtracks also function as playlists in our household. When we reached the San Diego County border, Fury had earned himself a mystery song unlock.

"What new song did you unlock, Fury?"

"COOOOOL!! Debaser by the Pixies!!"

These coincidences just happen to me. A bone from the blogging gods or whatever.

And cute baby pictures from the beach also happen to me.

The Pixies played in the basketball arena of UC San Diego. I got totally lost trying to find the place, but I managed to get there in time to catch the end of the opening act: two DJs spinning some trancy electronic music. I guess I would have enjoyed it more if I were younger, or C3PO.

At least I wasn't the only nostalgic ex-youth at the show. I noticed a few roving packs of grey haired folks among the mostly collegiate crowd. But you know what? It was us old timers who got the most satisfaction screaming "then god is seven!" during Monkey Gone to Heaven. Dare I say it was pretty much a religious experience in its own right.

So was swimming with actual sharks the next morning. I tried to get a picture of the waves cresting, with silhouettes of sharks clearly visible within them, but I failed. You'll have to accept my re-created version below.

Yes, real sharks were swimming not 10 feet from us. You just can't get that adrenaline rush sitting in a classroom (disclosure: they were harmless leopard sharks, but Fury's classmates don't need to know that).

Epilogue:

I was humming the opening to Debaser yesterday while playing Bionicles with Fury. Right on cue, he chimed in "Got me a movie, I want you to know! Slicing up eyeballs, I want you to know!" I love that kid.

Random Segue:

So I want to know... how do you influence/monitor your kids' choices when it comes to grownup music? Obviously, my filter is set on low. If you agree or disagree, chime in on my discussion topic in the SoCal Family Connect (you don't have to be a SoCal parent). </shamelessplug>

Watch Jim Eat

This is not a gourmet post. This post contains no recipes. This post is about me eating. In the most visceral way. Why? Because when you decide to haul your family to the LA County Fair, you better be willing to get your grub on.

I've driven to the fair 4 times, and have attended it 3. That's how horrific the traffic getting there is. One year, we spent an hour and a half on the freeway exit ramp. By the time we made it off the ramp, we were over it. I hopped right back on the freeway and went home.

So why did I end up behind this on Labor Day?

Good PR. As a former PR person, I'm a sucker for a relevant pitch. I'm not going to mention her name or Twitter handle in case she prefers to remain behind the scenes, but the PR person for the LA County Fair saw me tweeting about how much my new Verizon Droid was driving me nuts and how short its battery life was. She immediatley emailed me about tickets to the fair (with wine tasting tix), and sent me an iGo Charge Anywhere.

Hey, I don't run advertising on this blog, but if you offer me an opportunity to drink for free and solve a pressing woe at the same time? You're getting a post. Does this suffice for disclosure? Good enough for me.

I'm not really into rides. I actually won't ride anything that completes a circle more than once. I will throw up. I don't do carnival games either. I have no place in the house for a 5 ft Sylvester. That leaves beer and food.

But as bad luck would have it, I was (and still am) on the Paleo Diet, otherwise known as the Caveman Diet. Basically, I can only eat meat, vegetables and fruit, i.e. whatever our hunter-gatherer ancestors could rustle up. No dairy, no sugar, no starch. Alcohol is also a no-no, but I want to lose weight, not my sanity, so, no. Beer is greenlighted in my version of Paleo.

I'm not sure if the Caveman Diet actually requires you to eat like a caveman, but...

Turkey legs are totally Caveman-compliant.

So are porkchops-on-a-stick. I have a personal rule: if it's cooked in a stick, I eat it. You think I'm kidding. I ate coccoons on a business trip to China back in '07 because they were lightly dusted with garlic-chili powder and grilled on a stick.

It's not a County Fair without people trying to sell you a hot tub.

Check.

In my opinion, it's also not a true fair without a fried dough stand. But I think that's a California problem, not an LA County Fair problem. People in CA are SO MISSING OUT because if you haven't had fried dough, you simply haven't experienced all life has to offer. Every carnival or fair on the east coast, no matter how tiny, has at least one fried dough stand. Funnel cakes don't come close. Don't even try to convince me. If anyone can tell me where in this great state I can find a hunk of fried dough, I will owe you for life.

Moving on...

I'm glad these guys bought "Awesome County Fairs for Dummies" and read that no fair is complete without at least one python molurus bivittatus, better known by its 3rd grade name, Freaky Albino Snake.

And it's always fun to get caught on the wrong side of the tracks...

Nearly getting squashed by a train makes you re-think your life. My immediate thought was, "you only go to the LA County Fair once a year. What's a little fried carb really going to do to my diet?"

Friends, when you fall off the wagon you might as well get mangled in its spokes. May I present to you the "Everything Fried" food stand:

Going back a fuller, carbier man.

Friends don't let friends wear thier jeans this low. If my gut relocated itself to my ass, I'd be a hotter man.All in all, it was a killer time. I only have one regret. I came on the wrong weekend:

But you? You can take advantage of the above. I'm giving away two general admission tickets (concerts are extra, but can you really put a pricetag on Hall and Oates? Or Bad Company?). Just leave a comment sharing your favorite fair/carnival junkfood indulgence by midnight Thu Sept 23 and I will do a random drawing on Friday morning.  

Yay for Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SoCal Family Connection Team:

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

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

But In A Totally Manly Way

As dad bloggers, we men are far outnumbered in the parent blogging world. To survive, we rely on our wits, our ability to speak intelligently about breast feeding, and Swiss Army Knife skills. Also, plenty of love, as Backpacking Dad and I demonstrate below:

Our apologies to Scrubs, and parent bloggers everywhere.

(awesome closing photo shot by Secret Agent Mama)

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

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

I convinced 4. I was crushed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tao of Poo

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

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

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

A genuine smile can make someone's day.

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

Dads are great, but never as good as moms.

No boobies. Sorry dad, you lose.

Allow yourself to be mesmerized.

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

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

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

Fall asleep in the car. There is nothing better.

I learned that from my big brother.

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

Case closed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Grisliest: a crime scene investigation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

* * * * * *

What was this all about?

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

Stupid Blogger Tricks... really stupid

Aimee "Greeblemonkey's" mom is in the hospital. Aimee wants to make her mom laugh. So she posted a video of herself putting her toe in her mouth. Then she asked other bloggers to step up and post their stupidist (most stupid?) tricks so that she could show her mom.

Originally, I was going to post a video of me doing impersonations of all the SpongeBob characters (trust me, I rock 80% of them), but then fate stepped in. My family was over at my friend Lolita's house for dinner tonight. We got to talking about her dog Gidget, who has a talent for escaping enclosed areas, like their yard. Lolita  mentioned the invisible electric dog fence that she just had installed. Then she showed me the collar.

If you know me at all, you can figure the rest out. Aimee, I sincerely hope your mom pees her hospital gown once more.

LEGO'ing without a license

There's a lot of Lego worship going on in the Lin household. And we've done some pretty cool things with them here on this blog. We've experienced the thrill of completion and the agony of subsequent gravity. We've used the Lego Minifigure to replicate bloggers and perpetuate cultural stereotypes (flashing my rice paddy pass). We've played bartender and even nightclub mogul with them.

But this past weekend, we achieved the epic. We colored outside the lines. We went rogue. We went to Michael's.

And bought paints. Paints that I hadn't seen in at least 25 years. Remember when you could go to any drugstore and buy model kit Camaros and F-15s? And you had to glue them together and paint them yourself with those cool little bottles of Tester's model paints? They still exist!!

Combine those with a healthy disrespect for merchandise licensing agreements, and you've got yourself a recipe for fun:

Step 1: find two Lego minifigures you're willing to sacrifice for the greater good. In other words, not the Star Wars ones! Give them a good base coat.

Step 2: let them dry overnight, then apply your outlines.

Step 3: use child labor to fill in those outlines.

Step 4: finish the job once child becomes bored.

Step 5: revel in your awesomeness.

The unofficial offical Venom and Iron Man minifiguresStep 6: Introduce your child to the wonders of stop motion animation.

Wipes, Three Ways

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

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

Because dammit, I'm good at this.

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

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

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

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

My quality of life index just jumped 5 points.

What about "Animal Poo free"?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stupid contacts.

Maybe Huggies will fly me to the United Nations someday.

Oops...

In high school, I was tray sledding with a bunch of my buddies on campus, when we spied a group of elementary kids walking toward our hill. One of my friends packed a snowball and hucked it straight up into the air. It was one of those moments where you half-intend a result, but never expect that it will actually happen. We watched with amusement as it sailed straight up, tracked it as the force of gravity overcame its upward velocity, sending it plummeting back to earth, and all stood mouth agape as that snowball accellerated at 9.81 m/s2 until it met the equal and opposite force of the top of some poor 3rd grader's head, 20 yards away.

Now I have two such moments. I have Airsoft guns to thank for this.

A poop video I couldn't refuse

Let me tell you something about paid campaigns and me. If it's something I'd never blog about for free, I'll pass. I like beer money as much as the next guy, but I've got my eyes on the real prize: my nip-slips posted on TMZ. Dragging you through a post that I dragged myself to write solely for the money is not the path to TMZ enlightenment.

In other words, yes, Huggies paid me to make this video (along with 1 other upcoming video and 2 posts). But they had me at "poop." Because I can achieve fame through poop videos.

Along with beer money, Huggies gave me a ton of their Natural Care Baby Wipes and challenged me to live "Poo Free" this summer. As you'll see below, that's a tall order.

The edited-for-time video is on Huggies' Facebook page but I have the exclusive Director's Cut here:

The Density of Man

On Sunday night, we met up with my friend Lolita and her boys and MrLady, who works for me (I know I didn't have to bring that up, but she has a better blog than I do and I'm petty) and is in town for the week. Since we had the kids with us, we thought it might be fun to have dinner at the restaurant adjoining the local bowling alley.

After everyone was fed, we hit the lanes. Shoes were rented and a kid-sized ball acquired. While the grownups sat and talked, Jaden, Jack and Fury bowled. But with one ball between the three of them, the game dragged, as they had to wait for the ball to make its way back after every roll.

Sometime after the 3rd or 4th frame, two kid-sized balls magically rolled up into the ball bullpen of the lane next to us (I have no idea what that's called - you know, the place where the balls rest after they are shot back to you from the pin area??). Being that the lane was empty, I strolled over to grab the balls. But just as I picked them up, I noticed some hip young folks walking over to use the lane. As I scanned the group for little kids who might need the ball, I noticed her:

I usually don't care about celebrity sightings and all that, but Avril Lavigne is one of those pseudo crushes you never admit to, but your wife totally knows about because you linger too long on Proactiv commercials when you channel surf. I'm usually not at a loss for words either, except when I am forced into situations where I have one chance to talk to a celebrity crush or else go through life wondering "what if..."

Realizing the futility of saying something witty and memorable, I resigned to merely inquiring "uh, are you going to be needing these kids' balls?"

"Yes... I totally need those kids balls..." she replied, injecting an artful pause before letting me off the hook with a smile. "Just kidding, you can have them!"

I think I may have said "mmmrrgsnhfthanks" before running off with her balls.

I may have also tried to tell my wife how cool it was that Avril Lavigne talked to me, and she might have said "Jim, good for you. I don't really care..."

With three balls to use, the rest of the game went by quickly, and soon it was time to go. Lessi was tucked back into her stroller and... uh oh, there was one step to climb to leave the lane area!!

"It's one stair," MrLady remarked. "Just lift the stroller."

"No," Lolita pointed out. "He wants to take the ramp."

Sure, it was inconvenient to wheel my adorable, irresistible baby girl up the ramp right past a certain pop punk princess enjoying a night of bowling. But safety first!

As I skillfully maneuvered Lessi up the ramp, Avril caught a glimpse of her and squealed "Oh! she's the cutest baby ever!!"

"mmmrrgsnhfthanks!"

Grinning, I made my way back to the group, fiddling with the stroller handle that had just come loose.

"So what happened?" asked d Wife.

I quickly volunteered "omigod, I walked by her and she said Lessi's the cutest baby ever! and---"

"Not THAT! What's wrong with the handle!" d Wife shot back.

MrLady looked at d Wife, whose hands were full, looked back at me. And smacked me.

The average weight of a human male brain is 3 lbs. Average density? Like kevlar.