Thanks Dad!

To all the fathers out there, happy day and congratulations!

My family’s adventures at Disneyland continue. Star Tours was pretty impressive; we look forward to riding it again first thing in the morning.

My parents taught me to spend money on two things: food and travel. My mother inspired my love for food and my father my love for travel. In thanks to this, we organized a nice family vacation this weekend.

I cannot advocate enough for taking a vacation. And I cannot advocate enough for spontaneity. Five days ago, I had no idea I would be with my family, let alone be transported to a mental and physical escape. But everything fell into place, and I have had the best weekend in a long time. Everyone needs a break. Take one for yourself, and give one to others. It’s necessary.

Thanks, Dad. You rule.

To celebrate the other biggest, baddest father in the galaxy – and also to commemorate a family trip to Disneyland – please enjoy this:

Little Girl Joins The Dark Side – Watch more Funny Videos

Newton’s Three Laws of Parenting

Isaac Newton

While the rules of physics define the physical relationship between objects, I find them particularly relevant when studying the psychological relationship between human beings. Take Newton in regards to parenting:

Law 1: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Every child on a chosen path with remain on that path unless an external force intervenes. Watching your son or daughter turn to the dark side? Do not trust in time to cure all evils; you may need to step in. Watching your son or daughter struggle to meet their goals? Friends, laws, cash flow, distractions, and many other “external forces” will slow your child down. Be involved and give him or her an extra push when necessary. Obvious, no?

Law 2: Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass of the object being accelerated, the greater the amount of force needed to accelerate the object.

The greater the pressure exerted on a child, the more likely he or she will “accelerate.” Having trouble waking your child for school in the morning? Getting him or her to do homework? Stop playing video games? Avoid hard drugs? Come home before curfew? You can push harder and harder on your child to get the results you expect, but the hounding may have consequences we will explore in Law #3.

How about peer pressure? The more friends goad or tempt your child, the more likely your child will go along with it. Or what about motivation? Some children need a brighter spark to inspire them. Why would some children need a bigger nudge? Physics would tell us it’s because they have greater “mass.” Nothing to do with obesity, I think the “mass” in this equation has a lot to do with your child’s individuality. If he or she is true to him or herself – a defined individual with defined interests and characteristics – then he or she will be much less swayed by you or others. Some children may be stubborn and defiant, others down to earth and cultured. In either case, children with richer individuality are much more difficult to sell.

Law 3: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

My favorite rule of the three, and the one I think baby boomers overlooked the most: if you act on your child, expect a reaction. Discipline is difficult for every parent. Depending on how you do it, you can make things much worse. Without justifying your demands in terms your child can appreciate, be prepared for him or her to fight back or deviate further. The more force you exert on the situation (screaming, violence, etc.), the greater the reaction you should expect. Explicitly forbidding your children from doing things may be a recipe for disaster.

I have seen it a handful of times: alocoholic parents punishing their children for drinking underage. The result? The children lose respect for their parents and drink harder. For punishment to be effective, you need to hold credibility with your child. Personal experiences, stories, and statistics all help your case better than “go to your room” or “give me your car keys.”

Children usually know when they make mistakes and punishment is usually superfluous. Teaching consequence is important, but make sure consequences are related to the infraction. Eating a cookie before dinner has nothing to do with watching television. When children do not believe they did anything wrong, it is senseless to yell and accuse them of it – they will just villainize you for it and refuse to see your point of view. Find a more clever way to make your point. Or expect an equal and opposite reaction. Physics, baby.

Do You Shampoo Your Beard?

Justin Hamilton asked me if I shampoo my beard. It struck me as a peculiar question. Not because it was inappropriate or unnerving, but because it had never come up in conversation before.

Should you shampoo your beard? Facial hair is still hair and warrants the same care as your scalp, right? No one ever taught me one way or the other.

There are many lessons about adulthood we are not taught growing up. Sex education comes early, but we are hardly taught extracurricular adulthood mechanics thereafter – until we suffer hard truths. Categories of insurance. The civil court system. Property ownership. Credit. Taxes! Taxes are a basic American responsibility and we are all accountable. Why do so few people understand them?

Tax education should be mandatory prior to graduating high school. As should many of these other things I mentioned, whether taught in school or the home. Many adulthood chores do not get discussed until it is too late and we are not prepared. Unruly beard hair is not as dramatic as providing proof of death for a life insurance claim, but they both fall into the same batch of conversation topics failing to surface until we have to waste time and energy decoding them on our own.

To answer the question, I shampoo my beard roughly twice a week.

[EDIT for the Ladies:  I soap my beard/face everyday. I don’t shampoo everyday, it seems like overkill.]

Ideation 101: How to Engineer an Idea

I’m not a creative guy. Many are far more expressive, imaginative and original. To those people, ideas come naturally – they just appear out of thin air. Not for me. And not for most. But don’t worry, there’s hope!

My best subject in school was Math. I see the world in variables and treat every problem as an algebra equation. 2x = 4, so x=2, correct? Find the common denominator and you discover the path to your solution. Putting two and two together. Straightforward.

So it is with the birth of new ideas. Bring two concepts together, find the common denominator between them, and discover inspiration for your new idea. Birthing an idea is a lot like birthing a child – it takes (at least) two parents to tango. The gene pool of one merges with the gene pool of the other and a derivative, yet completely unique person is born. Two merged cells evolve into a very complex organism. Two merged concepts can evolve into a very complex idea.

Try this exercise:

Step 1.  Pick your least favorite subject in grade school.

Step 2.  Pick a hobby you enjoy.

Step 3.  Put them together. Be inspired.

I did not enjoy history and enjoy dining out. Together: history dining? Now that’s a fun idea – a timepiece dining experience? Your server as your historical tour guide? A several course meal tracking the evolution of a dish through time? I could go on!

The trick is not finding root inspiration – we all have interests and disinterests, the world around us. The trick is accepting two different ideas can relate to each other – and identifying how they relate. The more dissimilar and specific the parent ideas are, the more difficult the connection becomes – and the more unique the new idea can be! Stick with it, keep analyzing. You will strike gold. With enough practice, the association between two random ideas becomes virtually automatic.  

The practical application of your newborn idea is the hard part. Ideation 201 anybody?

A Skinnier Colorado

Trust for America’s Health ran a report on obesity rates in the United States.  With little surprise, Colorado ranked the lowest in the nation with a 19.1% obesity rate (Mississippi being the highest at 33.8%).  While this average does not hold for the Black and Latino population, it is a pretty strong representation of Colorado’s health values and qualities.

Read:  Colorado Ranks Least Obese State in the Nation

Strict state-wide public nutritional standards and the preservation of recreational open spaces no doubt contribute to a better Colorado.  But I find this ranking even more notable considering that Colorado has not mandated body mass index (BMI) screenings or Complete Streets legislation like many other states trying to cut down on obesity – Colorado predominantly trusts Coloradans to be healthy.  Perhaps a lesson in parenting?

All pride behind me, 19.1% is one out of every five people!  Thankfully not a third of our population like Mississippi, but a huge slice nonetheless!  We still have work to do.