Friday, December 21, 2012

Apocalypse Averted. Probably.

As you may have heard, the world was meant to end today.

Or sometime back in June. Or possibly next week. At this point it's all a little fuzzy.

As I'm sure you've all heard, the Mayan calendar ran out of gas today. Most have dismissed these claims. None of those people, however, saw the destruction rained down on my property last night.
Damage montage.
For those of you counting at home, I lost some siding (or fascia, or soffit, or whatever - I'm not a doctor), some Christmas lights, and the table on my deck absolutely exploded (an hour of Shop-Vacing barely made a dent in the mess).

In memory of my losses, and as a means to put off cleaning them up until after the world was safe, the family and I decided to hold a Mayan Apocalypse party. We ate Doritos  made tacos, invented the first ever Kiddie-Mayan-Rita and had hot cocoa for desert. It was practically pre-colonial Mexico at my house.

Or at least it seemed like it after the missus and I had a few Corona Lights.
Not pictured: Authentic Mayan Doritos (tm).
See you all tomorrow. Hopefully.

Friday, December 14, 2012


We'll be praying tonight for the families of the Connecticut victims.

I had obviously been horrified by the news as it trickled in all day. I thought about my kids. I thought about their little friends. It was a long day, and I was very happy to pick them all up safely after school, and we quickly got lost in discussions about their days and what we had planned for the weekend. They still haven't been talked to at all about today's tragic events.

On the way home we talked about dinner. I offered eggs, and my 6 year old asked for bacon. I said that we didn't have any at home, and he asked if we had the ingredients at home. We then had a very brief discussion about the food chain, including slaughterhouses, from which I tried to quickly change the subject.

I thought that I had done pretty well, when, a minute later, he thoughtfully said " I wouldn't want to know if I was gonna die. I'd rather be surprised and not have to think about before it happened." He was talking about the pigs. I turned up the radio and bawled anyway.

Tonight we all just need to pray to whomever we each are comfortable.

And tomorrow we need to start preventing the next time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crime and brother-ment

My rules for punishment are generally pretty simple.

  • The punishment should fit the crime.
  • The Constitution only forbids sentences which are both cruel and unusual, and I don't find that much unusual. 
  • I don't like to spank my kids, but if they push me to the point where I have to, they aren't gonna like it either. 
  • If you act up in front of people, you can expect to get reprimanded in front of people. Once you've embarrassed me, I've got no issue embarrassing both of us.
  • Don't think for a minute that I won't discipline your kids if they interfere with my day (and you are welcome to return the favor). 

I bring this all up because my oldest got in trouble tonight. Nothing bad enough to stain his permanent record, but a perfect opportunity for a life lesson. As such, he got one of his worst punishments ever, and he didn't deal with it well.

None of that was particularly adorable. The next thing to happen, however, was.

His little brother asked for a blank piece of paper and a pen. About 2 minutes later my wife got this note.

Prisoner's dilemma my ass.
Didn't spare anyone any jail time, but I'll be sure to bring this up the next time Michael and Lucas feel they need to feud over the last Pop Tart.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You could have a worse meme maker

I like Facebook as much as the next guy, don't get me wrong, but all of these Some E Cards knockoffs are killing me. Tonight, after seeing approximately my 14,000th Victorian woman playing racquetball with a quote about how much she likes wine but not your whining I was getting pretty tired of that particular hilarious statement vehicle. 

And this is exactly why I love the internet. Within 2 hours a buddy of mine (and yes, he was an internet friend to start although we have hugged it out in person since we've met) had given me exactly what I needed.

He then gave you all the power you need to put a little Oswald in your internet. He shared his template and his secret sauce on Facebook

So now you can feel free to go out and make your own Oswald meme. 

And apparently you can even go out and do it on the go with your iPhone. If you do anything really fun with it, please share in the comments.

P.S. - Big thanks to my pal Greg for taking this meme in the German direction.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blowing the Dust Off

It has been quite some time since we have blessed the blogosphere with some of our original, grammatically incorrect musings. We know. You've missed us.

So why are we writing this? Its easy. We want to get to 10,000 clicks on this little blog of ours by the end of 2012. We are pretty close but need some help for you. However, we won't just post an article saying we need help, we'll put some thought behind it and some substance. Here goes.

The Suburban Father Alliance was started 2 years ago by my partner in crime and me to share some fatherly musings with friends and family. We have pumped out about 145 articles over that span which is more than 1 a week. It was fun. We got free beef jerky. Life was good.

Then I think life kind of hit us. Between the two of us we have 2 wives &7 kids. I also started up a home business selling Running Shoes and Apparel and Jamie was busy coaching, travelling for work, and other life stuff. It became less of a priority (for me at least, I won't speak for Jamie). Either way I don't think either one of us was getting the satisfaction out of it that we once got. In other words, the beef jerky had dried up.

Here's where we need your help. READ. THE. BLOG. We have made a concerted effort between the two of us to pump some good stuff out before the end of the year. Around the New Year we'll re-evaluate and go from there.

So, in the meantime: Read early. Share Often. And get ready for the best blog about fathering you've ever seen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Giving Back

Been a pretty charitable couple of weeks here at HQ.

First, I was tagged in a work-related blog series that required I discuss what sort of charitable activities I typically support. My answer?
I'll support pretty much anything that means something to me and mine (and for charity, I typically cast my net pretty large for who counts as "mine"). My two big pushes this month (from people in our larger community) are the charity which gave their data to Developer Wars at SBOUC and SBOUC organizer Nicole's Diabetes Ride. Never to early to save money on your taxes by making a donation.
As an extension of that, I got pulled into a couple of different charity events this last weekend.

On Saturday morning I dragged the family out of bed to participate in a walk to support a friend of the family who is diabetic.Due to some procrastination on our part we only started gathering donations about a week before but were still able to help raise some money for the JDRF (some from as far away as England). In fact the larger team we were part of ended up raising over $2,500. Best part, aside, obviously, from the altruism? The event was collocated with an Oktoberfest so after the event we got to take in a parade and a couple of beers with some of our teammates.
You can't see it in the picture, but we're standing on a mountain of candy.
Leftover from the parade.
From right after the Diabetes Walk.
That evening the wife and I went to a Trivia Party to support some Micro-financing work going on in Africa. We didn't win the Trivia Contest, but I won the raffle for a tailgating kit which is probably better because I'd have no doubt gotten jobbed out of my fair share of any cash winnings from the team.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Trivia Party fundraiser, they are really common in St. Louis and typically involve buying a table for 8-10 people (usually around $200/table) and competing with other tables to get the best score out of 100 trivia questions. The beer is usually free because they have other cash-gobbling opportunities throughout the night for 50/50 drawings, raffles, heads-or-tails or dead-or-alive type games, and "just throw whatever money you've got left into a bucket at the end of the night" contests. Always a good time, especially when someone who has provided stupid answer after stupid answer all night get painfully upset that you didn't trust them the one time they knew the answer (didn't happen this night, but it isn't uncommon).

In the end it was a fun (albeit exhausting) day and one that really will help to make a difference in some people's lives. Even if that's because we don't have any money left to feed our kids.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jaws of Amazingness

Children are, generally speaking, pretty amazing. Sometimes they do something that shows wisdom beyond their years. Sometimes they do something athletically that you would never have thought possible. Sometimes they show kindness and compassion that no adult would ever be capable of.

And sometimes they manage to get their teeth in places you'd never thought possible. Like the most depressed part of their brother's face.
Seriously, how did he get his teeth in there?

After interviewing all involved parties I still have no idea what happened, and, at this point, I'm not so sure I care. I feel like Ron Burgundy after Baxter pooped in the fridge and ate a whole wheel of cheese. I'm not even mad at him. I'm just amazed.

Fortunately, band-aids can even fix roughish brother relationships.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Service from my Pants

I am going to tell you a tale of Service. Customer Service. Service so great, you will want to punch the person next to you and tell them that in all of your days on this earth, you have never heard of Customer Service such as this. I am talking Replacement Pants. Oh yes. It is fabled lore of yesteryear when a company stood behind its products so much that they would replace them should anything happen. However, these days that kind of chivalry is unheard of. 

If you read this blog with any kind of regularity (meaning frequency not the other "regularity"), you will know that I am kind of obsessed with Bonobos pants. They have a shapely fit that makes my backside look like that of a man with an entirely nicer backside than mine. They step up my game even though I don't have any. If you are into brevity, I really like their pants.

Now that you are up to speed on my brand addiction, here's how the rest of this goes down. It was Thursday, 6/14. I woke up and started to get dressed for work as I would any other day. However, realizing it was Thursday, I figured I should wear my Bonobos "Thursday Browns". Before I put them on, i decided to let the good folks at Bonobos know that I'd be wearing them:

They replied back with something witty as usual and my day went on. Around 10:30am I was picking up a bike that a co-worker was letting me borrow for the next couple months (long story). So,I went to the guys car and gave the bike a spin in the parking lot and to my car. On the way, my Thursday Browns caught in the spokes of the bike and ripped. Shock, devastation,& anger all crossed my mind. Followed by this tweet:

What happened next completely threw me for a loop. I was told by a Ninja that they would email me immediately (almost if to console me) and to talk about the pants.
I received an email shortly after in which they were were going to ship out another pair of pants immediately but they wanted to verify which pants in fact I ripped. I couldn't believe I was going to get Replacement pants for something I did on my own free will and accord to F up. Even a 20% discount on my next pair would warrant a blog post, but a brand new pair? Incredible.

So, guys, please, go buy some stuff from Bonobos. They are a truly incredible company with unbelievable customer service.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What we got

Turns out my 11 year old, Michael, missed the memo on getting me iDevices and high fives and landed squarely in the middle. In a moment of "this doesn't sound like a gift, but it's actually an awesome gift," he offered to let me teach him to mow the lawn for Father's Day. Recognizing that this was super-thoughtful and not the norm, I immediately assumed the worst.

Of course by assumed the worst, I don't mean that questioned the motives of my little man. I questioned his butt. As in, I thought "just how stinking far is his 8 pound, 6 ounce caboose gonna be able to push a lawn-mower in 95 degree heat with his spindly arms and his get-that-kid-a-sandwich frame?" as I pictured myself mowing the other 98% of my lawn after his stamina gave out. As they almost always are, my instincts were total crap.

The whole thing was a much sweatier affair than this picture makes it appear.
I spent about ten minutes talking him through the setup (I did pour the gas in myself) and safety ("your siblings appendages won't grow back") and we started mowing. I did the first couple stripes to get him a decent corner to turn in and let the mower stop. Much to my surprise, he was able to start it himself before he started moving. Then he mowed. And mowed. And mowed. And then he mowed the front yard, too. Did he miss a patch here and then? Sure. Did he finish the job with his scrawny little build? Definitely.

So I guess, in the end, the gift wasn't so much the lesson. Or the lawn. Or all of the future lawns (which is AWESOME!). I think the real gift was watching my oldest just impress the living bejeezus out of me by doing way more than I expected he would be able to as a gift to me.

Happy Father's Day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What we want

Father's Day is approaching and you are more than likely asking yourself "What do I want the family I love so dearly to give me for this semi-made up holiday?" I am going to spare you the obligatory description about how what really matters is Family and how spending time with our kids is a real treasure. We all know that and you can go watch Oprah and cry about it. Not here. Sorry. Lets be honest, since our families think we are awesome, we are going to get something regardless. So it may as well be something we really want.

So here goes. In no particular order:

And there's no better place to get them from than Bonobos (with the link provided you can get $50 off your first purchase). They make pants that don't make your butt look dumb. Nay, in fact their pants will make that arse look full and promising. Seriously if they don't hire me on their Marketing team after that plug, I might go back to Dockers.

Ladies... Seriously they are making it easy for you.
Thick. Cut. Bacon. They guy above just opened a package of Bacon. See how happy that makes us.

No I'm not talking booze here. We can get that on our own... under our desk at work. If you want a dad that is alert an attentive to your needs, by the man some Coffee. Trader Joe's has a wide array of delicious caffeinated gold.
Make Dad's desk look like this.
While I am a huge Android fan, everyone has heard of an iPhone. And with Today's unveiling of iOS6 (see how on top of stuff we are here at the SFA?) you should look into to getting Dad an iPhone. They are great "tools" and will really make him seem way more important.

All the stuff up there costs money. I know. Times are tough right now and families can't be spending all their hard earned dollars on frivolous things. So, if you can't give Dad a gift, give him a high-five, tell him he's awesome, and then ask to borrow $20 so you can go buy him some bacon.

Told you we wouldn't get sappy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Morbid Post

Well, not really that morbid but I am going to skate really close to the issue of "what if one of your kids were to die before you?"

I know its not a fun topic. It ranks up there with making out your Will and having the discussion with your wife on if you should pull the plug should you wind up in a vegetative state. This topic is probably worse though. Both my parents and my wife's have had the unfortunate circumstance of living beyond one of their children. My wife's brother passed away many years ago due to a bicycle accident and my sister collapsed out of the blue playing recreational volleyball.

Now I'm not here to have a pity party on behalf of my wife and I's losses. We have coped with them and have moved passed. What I want to talk about today is what happens if one of your kids passes. Are you going to be prepared? Mentally, I don't think anyone could be prepared, but what I am talking about is Life Insurance. Trust me I'm not starting an insurance agency or anything and will totally delete anyone's comments on this post that try to sell it.

Why I am bringing this up today is that something recently happened with my middle daughter's policy and after talking to my wife, we were really glad we signed her up for Life Insurance when she was about a month old. As I have mentioned on her before, my middle daughter has recently been diagnosed with McCune-Albright Syndrome. Hardly a life threatening disease but something we will need to monitor throughout her life.

About the same time we were going through all the diagnosis stuff and other fun, we met with our Financial Adviser (same person who gets us our life insurance) to get our youngest set up for a Savings account he can't touch and life insurance. We've done this exercise with our other kids shortly after their births. When we sat down with our Adviser she thought that it might be a good idea to bump up our girls policies also. We agreed and filed the paperwork.

Our Life Insurance provider sent us a letter back stating that Lucy (our middle) was denied any more coverage due to her diagnosis of McCune-Albright. Of course my wife and I were kind of taken back with this news, but also looking at the big picture, we thought, if we wouldn't have signed her up right after she was born, she wouldn't be able to get any life insurance. I do want to make a small disclaimer that we aren't talking about a large sum of money, just enough to cover some funeral costs.
Anyway, that's my story and while we don't really give much solid advice on this site, I really think you should sit down with your significant other and consider life insurance for your kid if they don't already have some.

**I will say this again, if anyone leaves a comment on here trying to sell Life Insurance, it will get deleted. This is meant to be an informative post for parents, not a free for all for Insurance agents.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Need a snappy Rap Title.

I had some downtime recently. By downtime I mean I was driving either to or from work and there was no fight going on about who had the Barbie first. As I was driving , a song came on the local radio station and it got me thinking. Thinking deeper than I have in quite some time, I asked myself "Who is the Greatest Rapper of All Time?" If I were tweeting this on the Twitter I would immediately tag this as #whitepeopleproblems. It is a bit a a dilemma for me to ask this you see. Being a white dude that lives in suburbia I have absolutely no street cred to voice my opinion on this subject. Well, being that I own this blog (half of it at least) I feel that I can go through my top 5 with the 17 of you that will read this and not face much scrutiny for voicing my opinion on this edgy topic. Oh and in case you were wondering how this deals with Parenting and/or Fatherhood, its because I can't really listen to rap anymore now that I am a father.

I could use this time to build you up on how much of an authority figure I am on this subject by going through my Catholic grade school and Rural Missouri Public High School background. However, I will jump right into this pantheon of lyrical bad-arses*. Also I am just going to keep this to solo rappers and not groups because I think we all would agree WU-Tang is/was the greatest group of all time shortly followed by RUN D.M.C. The only reason for this is volume. If RUN DMC was 7 members deep, they win. Also, I think the list of solo rappers will cause a bit more dialect from our commentators.

*Please note the use of "arse" instead of the more commonly used word in order to keep the "Safe for Work" code of ethics we strive daily to achieve.

5) Rakim - With this selection I have either solidified myself as an idiot or a guy who knows what he is talking about. I will continue as if I know what I am talking about. Rakim, yes, was part of the "group" of Eric B & Rakim, but Rakim was the front man for the group and his delivery was amazing. What's funny is that Rakim's lyrics were/are probably some of the most quoted & sampled in hip-hop history yet not many may know who he is.

4) 2Pac - I will be the first to admit that I was not a huge 2Pac fan until more recently. When his albums were released, I just wasn't into the whole Thug Life movement. I was (and still am) into more of the light-hearted rap. However, looking back at his collection of work, its pretty remarkable what he was able to accomplish. He was also part of the "light-hearted" Digital Underground. So that bumps him up in my book.

3) Snoop - Going completely in the opposite direction of Rakim, is Snoop. He's about the most commercial rapper out there. When he got his start with Dre back in the 90's he brought something new to the table. I don't know what to call it, but I'll just label it "the dizzle." He single-handedly introduced a new way of rapping & talking. His lyrics span a wide variety of comical to serious, and he seems to be the most laid back person in the world.

2) Jay-Z - While I can't stand people that retire and then come out of retirement, I think this coming out was well worth it. I also think he needs to be up here for the simple fact that he put out something like 8 albums in the span of 8 years making him one of the most successful Rappers of the 2000's. **Note that I was going to put NAS in this count down, but admittedly, I haven't had much time to listen to his stuff and didn't think I could accurately place him on my lack of knowledge.

And finally Number One:

Notorious B.I.G - I really don't think there has been anyone better. He could do it all. I can see how this No. 1 ranking could be debated as he only released 1 album while he was living, but from just the small sampling of what he has done I think he can be placed here.

So, what do you think? Am I completely off my rocker?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Road Trip

Those of you who follow the blog know that I've grappling with teaching my kids how to be fans of both the Cavs and Heat. This last weekend I added the Memphis Grizzlies into the fray. Why you ask? My boys are sports nuts, and my recently-turned 6 year old son is really big on basketball right now. I wanted to take him to a game for his birthday, and Memphis is the most attractive city/team within driving distance. (Indianapolis isn't much fun, Milwaukee has too much beer for me to be the designated driver and I still remember Chicago doing this). Memphis also allowed us some great seats at great prices, and I knew they'd still have something to play for at that point in the season.

We decided early on this was gonna just be a great "man" road trip. When we got hungry, we ate. When we were thirsty, we drank. When we wanted to switch from watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Disney's Dinosaur we did it. Living on the edge ain't easy, but somebody had to do it.

We made it to Memphis in time to walk up Beale and grab some dinner before heading into the game. I was really proud watching Michael play the mentor role to his little brother on topics ranging from holding his hand while crossing the street all the way to why it was really important to eat his shrimp even though it was a little spicy and had some potato salad on it and it had chicken breading on it.

I was also pretty impressed by Lucas who noted -- about 2 minutes into his first live NBA game -- that it was cool how the announcer was said the scorer's name a lot louder when the home team made a basket.
After the game we were all pretty pumped (the game was actually really exciting, we got to eat snacks TWICE during the game, and we brought home a winner), but I was able to talk the boys out of putting me to bed and heading back out on Beale. Amazingly, we didn't get security called on us.
It was a long ride home, but we'd all do again. Who knows, maybe next time we'll even bring Cooper along. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sports Loyalty

Let me begin by apologizing to any St. Louis readers: I know that most of you aren't even sure that they still play professional basketball in this country, but they do, and I really like it. This post is gonna be about that.

I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I grew up in Canton, Ohio, an hour down the road from Cleveland. I was raised to like the Cavs and Browns (fortunately we weren't a big baseball family). The Cavs are the team that used to employ LeBron James. I am also a fan of the Miami Heat. They are the team that currently employs LeBron James (you may remember some of the brouhaha surrounding his changing jobs a few summers ago). I'm not actually a big Heat fan per se, but I am a big LeBron fan, so I root for the Heat by proxy.

That's right. I'm a Cavs fan who still likes LeBron James. Did I like his decision? No. I would have much rather he had stayed in Cleveland, winning championships by the handful and seeding Northeast Ohio with his unquestionable genetic advantages. But he didn't. And I'm not burning his jerseys in the street. In fact, all of my boys still regularly wear them. When the Cavs are on, that is. When the Heat are on, they wear number 6 (of course if I didn't have League Pass, they'd never be able to watch my hometown team).

I'm OK with that. My wife actually bought us tickets to Game 5 in Dallas last year (which didn't exactly go according to plan). My 6 year old (basketball crazed currently) just had a birthday and got (from Grandma, per his wishes) a LeBron jersey in every color (so he could match whatever they were wearing on the TV), two LeBron books, a LeBron backpack, LeBron pajamas, and a personalized binder coordinating and collating all things LeBron. I was, to be honest, amazed that they sell that much stuff with one man's face on it.

There are those who would call me a sports bigamist. To them I say... well, pretty much nothing. I'm old enough I don't need to give a crap what most folks think about me. But I am open to share my rationalization for it. I generally deal with getting static about this by half-heartedly blowing it off by saying "hey, I left Cleveland, too, and I haven't won a championship yet, either," but the fact of the matter is that I spent 7 years (9, if you count his last two in high school) rooting for LeBron. He was King James. He was the Chosen One. He's a nice guy, a funny guy, a really good kid -- you know, like one of your friend's little brothers who everyone knew was gonna make good, only we was the little brother to the buddy of everyone in Northeast Ohio. He was the first guy from the neighborhood to go college, then he not only went to college, but he went to  med school, and not only did he go to med school, but then he became one of the greatest brain surgeons EVER. And now, just because he's decided to go move to a better hospital with a better staff (and where he can work with his buddies and make more money) I'm supposed to hate him? That doesn't make any sense.

Could LeBron have handled leaving Cleveland better? Absolutely. We've all been young, and stupid, and we've all made mistakes. I'm actually more embarrassed by the way Cleveland handled the whole thing. I have a hard time imagining anyone thinks LeBron handled leaving Cleveland right, but being classless throughout the fallout doesn't exactly make the case that he should have stuck around. If a girl breaks up with a guy, and that guy loses it and starts yelling at her in public and making everyone else uncomfortable, everyone knows she made the right choice leaving him. If he accepts his fate and holds it together while she struggles, then everyone knows she should have stuck around. Lot of parallels there. Just sayin'.

That said, I still love the Cavs. They're family. They've always been there, and they always will be. I'd rather have them win, but if they can't, I'd like for it to be LeBron. In the meantime, my boys can root for everybody -- I'm sure they'll get it right when it matters.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

This is what we are reduced to?

The wife and I have been busy lately. You know, with kid stuff, putting our house on the market, working, etc. It happens. Life gets to be so full of urine and stuffed animals that you almost forget that the chick you sleep with every night isn't just a roommate, but someone who at some point you actually could talk to and bounce ideas off of.

Its not always this easy.
We get so caught up in our kids lives that we don't really take the time necessary to hang out with the person that you actually made babies with. It sucks and if you don't do anything about it, its a slippery slope to having a sucky go at things.

So as the wife and I saw that we were potentially headed down the tunnel of suckiness, we decided to have a date night. In most parts of the world date nights are usually held on Friday or Saturday nights. This way you can stay out later, hang out longer, and pay your babysitter more. Well we decided to buck that trend and head out on a Monday. We pretty much had the pick of the litter when it comes to restaurants since Mondays aren't known for their going-out-ability. We hit up a nice local Italian place and had a nice dinner.

At one point during the meal, I looked my bride and said, "Is this what we have been reduced to in order to just hang out? A Monday date night..." She smiled ever so lovingly and said, "Yes, and if we have time, we are going to stop by Target to get some Easter clothes for the kids." Well, thankfully we had a lot of stuff to talk about and we didn't get to swing by Target. Damn. We then went home, washed our children, and were passed out by 9:30pm. Don't hate the player.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Camping Commandments

Went on a "hike" the other day with my kids. This walk was less than a mile and included passing all of ten feet of actual "nature". On this walk, my 4 year-old picked up a pine cone and said "Look guys! Squirrel nuts!"

This. Can. Not. Stand.
Not looking for my kids to be the next Bear Grylls (although I do love accents), but they do at least need to know how to live roughly. I camped with the kids in the backyard that night, but am planning a more robust trip for my boys this summer (the girl is only left out because she's still young enough to eat poison ivy if left to her own devices).

As such, here are the ten commandments for camping with kids. At least once.
  1. Thou shalt not plug anything in while you are camping. at all.
  2. Thou shalt not eat anything that requires more cooking utensils than a piece of aluminium foil and/or a stick.
  3. Thou shalt not bring that stick with you. The woods have plenty of sticks.
  4. Thou shalt not shower. If you're dirty, live with it. If you absolutely can't live with it, jump in the lake.
  5. Thou shalt not freak out when you child gets too close to the fire. We don't want anyone immolated, but nothing gives a child a healthy fear of fire like a little first degree burn.
  6. Thou shalt be ready for a month of steroids if that's what it takes to get your kids off of the beaten path.
  7. Thou shalt not scream like a horror movie bimbo if a spider ends up in your tent. It's a bad example to set.
  8. Thou shalt respect the environment. I'm not saying you have to go native here, but if you mess it up, clean it up. 
  9. Thou shalt make your kids bait their own hooks.
  10. Thou shalt not bring a checklist of activities into the woods. Thou ist out here to teach your kids that camping is fun. 
Happy camping everyone. Make the time to do it, have some fun, and be (largely) safe.

That's no pool, people.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Catch a tiger by the meat

Not like that, you perv.

I went to Donuts with Dads (basically Dad's are invited in to spend the morning with their kindergartners) a few weeks ago with my 5 year old who quite obviously got some of his old man's humor.

One of our assignments that morning was putting together a book of some of the
stuff that worms eat.

Among the pages of the book that had egg shells and
bananas they also had "no-meat". Lucas decided that the picture that the
page for "no-meat" should be a worm looking at a tiger (obviously tigers
are made out of meat) and saying "yuk" (sic).

I'm just so damned proud.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bracket Busted

Well I am not sure about you but my bracket is the ugliest thing I have seen since I got this really nasty blood blister on my foot. The dreaded 15/2 matchup this year has been the death of it, and mostly because I had one of those teams winning the whole thing. IDIOT. Let this be a lesson not to let your home team allegiance blind you from reality.
Yes I am waaaay too optimistic
Not only does it suck when your champ is out early because you are more than likely out of the running for any type of monetary reward or pants credit. But it sucks from a viewing perspective also. I am past the days of watching sports just to watch sports. I just can't. With the addition of kids, there are practices, games, dance classes, & other stuff to do on the weekend. Oh and my wife gets super ticked off. So when I get to sit down and actually watch a sporting event, I need to have some sort of stake in there. The stake is emotional only because gambling is illegal at Bushwood.

Don't get me wrong I really like watching the tournament and think its great to see the lesser known schools "over-achieve," but right now I am at the point of saying F it. Really the only thing that may keep me going is the interest in watching Kansas lose to whoever plays them, but the longer they make it in the tournament, the more I fall down into a sports depression.

So, I guess good luck to those of you that are still emotionally invested in this Tournament. Except if you are a Kansas fan.

Baseball needs to start soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Life is all about choices. The biggest choice is with whom you are going to spend that choice-filled life. That particular choice isn't easy, but hopefully you get it right.

Often you'll have other choices to make. Sometimes your mate will, too. Like when she is picking up beer, and she can't decide what kind to get you. She thinks you'd like the Hemp Hop Rye, so she puts that in the cart.

Then she remembers that she also likes it, and decides to pick up the 5 Day IPA to make sure there is enough for the both of you.

Then she's not sure you like the IPA, so she picks up some Gold just to make sure she's covered.

Then she gets home to show you what she's done, and you realize that you both made the right choice.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Basketball Tournament

I am pretty sure if I use the term "March Madness" I need to put one of those circle r's or "tm"s by it. So I will just use the most generic description possible for the title of this article.

So all the fun starts tomorrow with 64 or so teams playing basketball against each other. While some more foresight would have been good on this (and if my work didn't block "gambling" websites) we would have got a SFA Bracket put together where we would have showered the winner with copious amounts of praise and at least 3 mentions on Facebook & Twitter. Since that fell through though, you get nothing.

Then we thought more some. And since we can't offer you the most mediocre-at-best tournament experience, we would send over a link to a great one. Here's why its great:

  1. It is put on by my favorite retailer of all-time... Bonobos. If you have followed us for any amount of time, you will know that I cannot get enough of their pants, customer service, and overall coolness. I want to be them.
  2. The winners get free stuff. I am not going to explain this any further.
  3. The more people they get to sign up, the more money they will donate to the Deron Williams Point of Hope Foundation
Sign up at
So its really a win/win for everyone. Just pick good teams.

Here is a link to the Bonobos Bracket Challenge. Sign up and tell them the Suburban Father Alliance sent you.

Oh and while I still barely have your attention. GO MIZZOU!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Amighetti's Winghaven Review

I finally lured my wife out to lunch at Amighetti's (the Winghaven location). It's actually really close to her work but isn't really her sort of place. I maintained, however, that it had been life-changing for me when I first moved to St. Louis (it occupies the top two spots on our largely unused Sandwich Scale), and that I hadn't really had an opportunity to eat there in years.

I'm not going to get to pick a lunch spot again anytime soon.

I ordered a small Italian Classic Salad and a half of a Little Bit of Italy sandwich. The sandwich wasn't nearly as good as I had remembered it. I'm not a cheese lover, but I can make due with most Italian cheeses, but this sandwich was like all cheese and no meat. It was all gooey and gross. I think that if I ordered it sans cheese it would be OK, but I'm thinking its bread/stuff in the middle ratio would still be WAY too high.

Not enough in the middle.
My salad wasn't much better. I largely ordered the Classic instead of the house because I wanted the Parmesan cheese on it. It came out with no cheese on it. The artichokes weren't marinated, the olives were OK, but the only thing I really enjoyed on it were the tomatoes (and not the fancy marinated tomatoes that apparently cost me an extra $2, either).

Not worth the extra $2.
On the bright side, my small salad was enormous.

On the less bright side, my wife's full sized spinach salad was the same size. It also came smothered in onions, which I had specifically requested it to come without. She did like the walnuts on it (candied just enough to be crunchy but not overly sweet), but that's a pretty hollow victory.

In sum, we were very disappointed by the stuff that didn't come the way we ordered it as well as by the stuff that did come the way we ordered it, although to be fair I think that even if we ordered the thing that came the right way the way we actually wanted it it still wouldn't have been very good.

There are those that say "don't order salads at a sandwich shop" and also those that will say "don't go to the version of the restaurant out in the suburbs," but to those people I say "If they can't make something good don't put it on the menu -- excepting of course chicken fingers which should suck -- and if they can't make a location not suck don't open it."

In any event, I think we're gonna have to re-rate the Sandwich Scale.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snowboarding is for the young and the stupid

As many of you now know, I go on a ski trip every year with my wife.

Unfortunately the older I get, the more I hate ski boots. They're skinny and hard and they put your ankles at angles that are really only useful while you are, you know, skiing. Typically, however, I spend a lot more time getting into position to ski than I do actually skiing. This year, I thought I'd be clever and try snowboarding.

Just because the boots look more comfortable.

Which totally sounds like a recipe for success.

And it was. I was walking pain-free circles around my wife. Even managed to strap one foot in, scoot around and get on the ski lift without any trouble. "How hard can it be?" I thought. Heck, even a Kardashian could probably do it.

Let's just say that I snowboarded with all of the suave and grace you could reasonably expect from a man of my size and age who had never snowboarded before and who was never all that great at skiing in the first place.

I fell for the first time after getting about 6 feet off of the ski lift (for those of you scoring at home, that's 2 inches of snowboarding and 5'10" of me falling forward). Twenty-five feet down the mountain I had fallen approximately 50 more times. Little people (the child kind) and old people (the old people kind) zipped all around me. There were actually a few times where I stayed on my feet for a minute, then I'd have to attempt something crazy like "turn" or "slow down" and the whole "fall, curse, flip around awkwardly, stand, slide, and fall" routine would start all over.

It was around this point that I became perfectly aware that if I was going to stay on that board for one more second that someone (and probably not me) was going to die.

It was a long walk down the hill. I care too much about the little people (of all kinds).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

STL Ski Trip

Every year some old friends of my wife (and more recent friends of mine) organize a ski trip that always starts in St. Louis and usually ends up in someplace like Wisconsin. The trip (branded as "a beer trip with skiing included") never fails at being a good time. The basic schedule usually goes something like this:
  1. Meet at noon at a local car drop off point. Board bus.
  2. Drink beer for 5 hours nonstop. 
  3. Visit rest stop, which you only need if you smoke because you've been peeing every twenty minutes on the back of the bus.
  4. Drink on bus for three more hours.
  5. Arrive at resort, eat twice your weight in pizza, drink hot tub while sitting in beer.
  6. Heave snorily.
  7. Wake up early, go skiing, knock back a few at lunch, leave slopes early, drink until dinner.
  8. Eat dinner, race back to resort rooms and commence formal drinking games.
  9. Wake up the next morning and "prepare to leave" (an Algonquin word for packing super fast then drinking Bloody Mary's while watching people who actually care to ski).
  10. Drive back on the bus, be surprised how drunk you get on the ride back, be thankful your wife chose to just watch the movie and not be like [waves at all of you] you, then sweet-talk her into White Castle on the drive to your house.
Do I enjoy skiing? Sort of, but I generally only ski enough to justify going on the trip (riding to Wisconsin for the skiing would be a little like riding to Wisconsin for the wine). I mostly go on this trip because A) kids aren't allowed, and B) the trip provides the perfect mix of "romantic get away for two" with "party like a freshman blowing his student loans on spring break."

Details aren't available for next year, but if you are interested in going (and if you suck or are in any way a party pooper, please don't be interested) feel free to "Like" the very much in-progress Facebook page.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The "Rise" of the mini-bar.

Been doing a fair bit of traveling lately, and I've pretty much run the gamut of hotels. I've stayed in nice places (they kind where they organize your toiletries when they clean your room) and some not-so-nice (literally had two physical keys I had to use to get into my room). The not-so-nice hotels are often scary, but occasionally you'll find something in a nice hotel that is also frightening.

When I first checked into the MGM Grand in Vegas, my buddy Dallas gave me the hot tip that I should be sure to check out the price list on my mini bar, specifically the $30 item towards the end of the list.

Yep, intimacy kit. I assumed it had to be hot, since it was located (tastefully) in the fridge.

Looking at the contents, though (just the ones listed on the outside of the box -- I'm strictly anti-mini-bar) provided a whole new set of issues.

  • Tickling feather - When I get down to tickling, I can't imagine being able to work with anything that would have fit into that box. Does the feather fold up? Does it extend, is it just 4 inches long? Doesn't seem to have enough.
  • Desire dice - Dice? In Vegas? Sounds risky. Fortunately that will be mitigated by...
  • Condoms - Probably a great addition, but it being in the fridge makes me think of two potential problems. One, I'm assuming that heating and cooling and reheating latex would hurt its structural integrity. Two, shrinkage.
  • Intimate Oils - I find it a little odd that they branded the whole box based on the last of the ingredients, but that tells me these oils are REALLY intimate. Probably not intimate enough to get me a fifth kid, but intimate nonetheless.
Being alone in Vegas, I obviously didn't buck up for this little marvel, but even with mate in tow I doubt I'd have bucked up. The $30 probably would have lasted me longer at the penny slots.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What is up with the blog this year?

2011 was a monumental year for our little blog. By monumental, I mean it was the first full year we were in existence and dare I say "business". I think we published over 100 articles and we were the envy of all of our friends (we always were but had to validate it somehow).
So as I write this blurb without the approval of my partner in crime. I get to thinking, where is this blog taking us/me? I think when we set out to do this we had some visions of grandeur that we would own our own Segways and would have already have our kid's college paid for. Not so much as it turns out. I am still working at my normal job, trying to find some time during the day to get some words down on virtual paper. Unfortunately, that is about the only time my day allows to do this kind of stuff. I can't tell you what Jamie's schedule is, but he has one more kid than I do so I am sure his writing time is even more cramped than well as his checkbook. ZING!
I was told there would be Segways.
What's great about this post I'm doing now is that I know Jamie is probably thinking the same thing. We are always on the same page and you can't fake this kind of Bloggerhoodery. He's also probably thinking "Man I am carrying this dude." Which he is and has been doing for some time. Well, we will need to sit down and have a State of the Blog Address and start looking at some kind of road-map for the future, but we'll probably have some beers and end up talking gibberish to each other. But before that happens, we also want to hear from you. Yes you the person reading this. I don't care if you aren't a Dad or don't have kids, you have an opinion that we care about. What stuff do you like? what stuff is crap? Can you tell that this sentence is kind of just filler until something better pops into my head? So, WTF do we do now? How do we monetize this sucker (other than having you click all the banner ads on the page cough... cough...)? and how do I get a Segway dammit?

Anyway, tweet us or leave a comment somewhere, but tell us your thoughts. But seriously... Segways.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My favorite excuse

My kids have a ton of excuses.

"It was like that when I got here." 

"I didn't know I wasn't supposed to wipe my <insert noun> on the <insert noun>." 

"The unicorn did it."

My absolute favorite, however, has to be "But he told me to!" And this has to be my absolute favorite because it has never ever once been a legitimate answer.

"But he told me to!"
I find it hard to believe that he asked you to do something that would lead to his crying and bleeding.

"But he told me to!"
Does he have compromising photos of you or something?

"But he told me to!"
But you haven't listened to anything I've said in weeks.

"But he told me to!"
Too bad he didn't tell you to clean your room.

"But he told me to!"
Maybe after this one he'll tell you that excuse never works, has never worked, and will never work.

So long as kids refuse to learn things as simple as trying out some original excuses, we as adults don't need to worry about them taking over the world.

Now if we could only defend ourselves from the unicorns.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ok fine... We'll post about Valentine's Day

Ok today is Valentine's Day. So out of spite and out of cash I wasn't going to publish anything, but then I got to thinking.... (dream sequence).......

1) I haven't been blogging much lately so it will make me (& blogging partner) feel good. So happy Valentine's Day to my ego & Jamie.
2) It really isn't that bad if expectations are set properly.

What I have found is that most people out there are Male OR Female. Pretty observant, I know. but they fall into 2 categories:

1) I hate Valentine's Day (Probably 97% of Males and 15% of Women) and
2) I like Valentine's Day (Do the math).

I get that V-Day, while some may find it terrible, is much needed in a relationship where things are pretty new or you don't have kids and don't need a baby sitter on a Tuesday. But why can't couples just do random crap for each other on the 15th or any other day for that matter?

My wife and I really like each other. In fact you could say we love each other also. What's great about where we are in our relationship is that we know what the other one likes, dislikes, and how much money we have cumulatively. We also know that the 3 kids we have are more fun than a dinner at a restaurant that will be closed in 6 months. We are comfortable where we are with our family and in life in general. So with this level of comfort we've decided to do something cool for V-Day. Something... or Nothing. Doesn't matter. Its not earth shattering I know, but if one of us thinks about getting the other something and has time to get it, great. If not, no biggie.

What sucks for my wife is I don't think I fall into the 2 categories above due to the children in the mix and the fact that I don't give good gifts or plan surprises well. So instead of my wife hating me for it, she accepts it and we go about our merry way on Valentine's Day. Its great. Stress free and wonderful.

So I think I will go home tonight. My wife will go to a meeting after I get home and eventually we'll settle down and say Hi to each other. After all it is Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Diagnosis

Well I am writing this to kind of clear my head of a bunch of crap that has been swimming around. Life as an internet blogger is not all Keg Parties and free beef jerky. No, there are times when we must put down life's proverbial bong and actually take a hit of reality (that last sentence needs to be on a t-shirt somewhere). My reality has been slowing hitting for the last 2 weeks. I haven't been much in the blogging mood, and until this post comes out, my partner (in blogging ONLY) on this site doesn't even know whats up.

My attempt here is to not go on a diatribe about how you should feel sorry for us or whatever. It's not going to be a scientific masterpiece in which doctors will study my writings for years to come. No this is going to be pretty much a brain dump of thoughts and questions I have about what's going on.

So you have some reference, here's a brief background. My middle daughter Lucy (almost 4 yo) is hell on wheels. She pretty much has the energy of a small locomotive and it takes her about 45 minutes to fall asleep in bed every night. However, she's also the sweetest thing on Earth. Back when she was 3 weeks old she developed a large birthmark that spanned from her belly all the way around her side and ended up stopping in the middle of her back. We were kind of taken back by it, but my wife and I both have large, oddly placed birthmarks (my wife's leg, my face). So we didn't worry too much. We visited our doctor for a check up and it raised a small red flag with him and sent us off to get some tests run with her. The wife and I were a bit confused but whatever. First we had to get a skin graft of it to see what kind of birthmark it was. It is what is called a Cafe Ole Macule. Essentially, a pretty standard birthmark. However the location of it was a bit worrisome to the doctor. We then were lined up for some testing around her 6 month birthday at a local childrens hospital to test for 2 things in particular: Neurofibromatosis & McCune-Albright Syndrome. She came back with a clean bill of health but it was something that we have been getting tested for on a yearly basis ever since. Much like my PSA tests, I have to get them since my Prostate scare, but its just something that needs to be monitored.

Fast forward to November 2011 and our suspicions started to grow.... Things were occurring that shouldn't be in a 3yo. We noticed that my daughter was changing a bit and when compared to my 5 year old's they just didn't look the same. Since the 2 of them are so different we just didn't think too much of it. After the New Year, we knew we should see a doctor about it because it was obvious the changes weren't due to her just being different than the 5yo. We made an appointment with the Children's Hospital we've been going to since she was 3 weeks old. They glad were able to fit us in the March 2012 time frame. Two days after we made the appointment, however, other symptoms started showing that needed to be addressed more immediately. We were bumped up to see the Doctor the next day (on her day off) to goo over some things.

We went to the hospital the next day and went through some tests, x-rays, MRI's, etc. Kind of a hectic day to see your kid getting poked and prodded for so long. Well within a few days after our visit, our suspicions were confirmed that our daughter has McCune Albright Syndrome and some cysts on her ovaries. She's 3. Anyway, I am not going to go through the symptoms or complications of it here because you can do that yourself and I don't want to think about it more than possible.

What I am looking for in this post is if any of the 10 readers out there have any experience with this diagnosis and honestly I am looking for some sanity. Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 30, 2012

3 more reasons to hate Monday

Much to my immense pleasure and fleeting chagrin, three of my kids are enrolled in five different sessions of two different sports at present. Fortunately, only three of those sports, at the moment, have any sort of practice, and of those three, I am only helping to coach two. And all three of those practices are scheduled for Monday nights, every Monday night, for at least the next 6 weeks.

This poses a much bigger problem for my wife, logistically, since all I really have to do is get to the ones that I'm coaching, which are back to back and in the same location (karma's gonna make me pay for that someday), but it will be problematic for her since she'll have to leave work early to my three little ones picked up and get my 5 year old to basketball practice at the Y by 5:30*. Once that is over she'll get those three fed, then bring my 4 year old to meet me at 7:30 for soccer practice (which starts right as 5th grade basketball practice for my 11 year old, which started at 6, is ending), then take the three kids that aren't my 4 year old home (and sometimes to their dad's house), feed the ones that haven't eaten yet, make sure that they've all got any leftover homework done, and put them to bed. When soccer practice is over, I'll bring the last one home, and she'll probably put him to bed while I eat.

And you thought coaching little kids was tough. If you bump into my wife on any Tuesdays in the next month and a half or so, I'd probably be nice to her if I were you.

* And who schedules practice at 5:30? I'd guess even stay-at-home moms would have a hard time getting kids anywhere at that time, but when you work 45 minutes away from a school that is another 20 minutes away from practice, you just can't work until 5 like Dolly Parton requests.

Monday, January 23, 2012

When it freezing rains, it pours.

My grandpa passed away last week (RIP Grandpa Graham). He had been in the hospital and/or hospice for a couple of weeks, which is actually just about the perfect amount of time (you get to say your goodbyes and come to grips but it doesn't really drag on). He was comfortable and at peace when he passed. Since then, things have gone a little wonky for me.

As a bid-ness man, I already had travel plans set for the weekend (to San Antonio for a user group summit), as well as separate plans for this week (a work trip to Utah), capped off by even more plans for next weekend (skiing in Wisconsin). As Grandpa's funeral was scheduled for Saturday back in Canton, Ohio, I immediately cancelled my trip to San Antonio (the second year in a row I cancelled said trip at the last minute) so I could pack up the family truckster after school Friday and head home for the funeral.

We knew there was some bad weather, and that it would be slow-going, so we pricelined a hotel in Columbus and set out. After it took us 3 hours to get an hour outside of town, we decided to pull back. The ice was so bad I literally had to keep moving because if I came to a complete stop on the exit ramp I would start sliding. I've never seen that.

In any event we turned back and, with the kids done driving and having already been promised a night in a hotel we ended up paying for a second room not terrifically far from our house. The bright side? Hotel KFC.
Lucas was still not feeling great from the car.

So, at the end of the weekend, I've lost my Grandpa, I've missed the funeral AND a work trip, I've paid for two hotel rooms on the same night, and I've been hugely stressed about all of it.

On the bright side? Got to go swimming with my kids at the hotel and made it back just in time to see my oldest's last Pinewood Derby race ever.

That's an award winner.

Back on the not-bright side? Missed my flight to Utah this morning*. Luckily I got on a later one, but I made my travelling companions take the early flight because it made more sense (sorry Matt and Sanjay) so I feel awful (really, really sorry).

Rest in peace, Grandpa.

* No, I didn't sleep through my alarm. My phone was off**. My phone had just died when I went to bed so I plugged it in. I have done this one hundred times before, and every time my iPhone turns itself back on once it has enough juice, and I was so tired I literally fell asleep before the little thing started spinning. Not this morning. Woke up just in time to realize my flight was taking off.

** Others (including Matt) had warned me off of trusting the iPhone alarm. In my own defense, it had never let me down before, and I have a hard time learning from the misfortune of others.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Keeping Tabs on my life

I have no idea when we will ever run out of snappy post titles, but on with the show. Around Christmas I determined that I needed a Tablet-like device to make my life more simple and happy (and my inner nerd was feeling a bit depressed). So with that I went on a journey to find the perfect tablet for me and my family should I die.

As I geared up for the quest I knew 1 thing: I didn't wan't an iPad. Its not that I have anything against Apple, I just don't really like to support companies whose products don't ever go on sale. Its kind of like going to a bar from 4pm-7pm that doesn't have a happy hour. I mean if can get the same functionality (or lack thereof in the Happy Hour scenario) with a similar user experience for less cost, its a no-brainer. So with the new less expensive tablets that were hitting the market in this time-frame, I was stoked. So I went to my local Best Buy to try some out.

At first I was convinced that it would be a race between the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet. I mean they have been getting a ton of good press and they are a fraction of the cost of an iPad or Xoom. The both ruun on Android (kind of). So, after much debate on the 2, I decided for the Nook Tablet. My thought was that I liked the interface on it a little better than the Fire, the keyboard was easier to use, and if I ever started reading books on it, my mother-in-law works for B&N. So I brought it home to play with. (Oh and really quick, big props to Best Buy for having a good return policy. I was able to return the thing by January 26th if I didn't like it. It would have been like 2 months of playing and I could have returned it.)

Why can't you cut and paste?

When I brought it home I really liked how small & light it was. It switched between apps really quickly all that good stuff. However, to get an app on the thing is a bit difficult. What I mean by that is this. The app store has a limited amount of apps, but the ones you would want to use all cost money. It really boasted a good app store but in actuality it sucked and everything had a price tag attached to it. That was annoying but the browser was nice and fast so I could accommodate on that. That was until I tried to cut and paste a link to share on Twitter. There was no damn Cut/Paste functionality on the thing. I even Googled it to make sure I wasn't an idiot. I was not an idiot. No. Cut. No. Paste. Its like a the Happy Hour mentioned above not having beer. Its basic functionality. Dumb.

I can cut AND paste.
The next day, I went back to Best Buy and checked out a couple more Tablets. There were enough things about the Fire I didn't like that I knew I didn't want that. So, after even more debate, I ended up with the Toshiba Thrive. It was running a newer version of Android (which 5 days later I was able to upgrade to the most recent 3.2 Honeycomb). The App Store is waaay better because its actually Google's. You can just do more with the device... LIKE CUT & PASTE.

After about a week with both devices at home, I decided to bite the $150 Cut & Paste Bullet and I kept the Thrive. Since I have been using it for the past couple months I have been really putting it to the test and it along with its Apps are doing quite well.

One of the biggest pros of the device is the presence of a USB, Firewire, & HDMI out. It also boasts being the only tablet (that I am aware of) that the end user can actually swap out the battery. Pretty crazy when you think about it that none of these Tablet devices actually have these features.

Not everything is a shiny bag of bacon with this Tablet though. Mostly it is how a few apps perform on it (like Google+). I am not sure it is the OS or the App itself though. Maybe I will research that instead of work... hmm.

OK so speaking of work, I have to get back and do my job that pays me money. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions about the devices seen here or life in general.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Y can't everyone get customer service right?

After a relatively frustrating experience signing my two younger boys for basketball at the local YMCA, I was forced to send in the following email.

I just signed two of my boys up for basketball at your Shady Springs, St. Peters Y. The staff was extremely helpful, but I was really caught off guard when they told me how much it would be. 
 I am not a member of your Y (the RecPlex is literally at the end of my street), but I love your basketball programs. I was going to sign my 5 year old, but on your website ( it said, in effect, that the Rookies program, that my 4 year old could do, would basically be an extra $25. I asked him if he wanted to play, he said yes, so I told him I would. 
When I called in to register, I was told that I would be charged the full $99 for my second child. for 6 hours of basketball clinics which I wouldn't have paid for except I already told him that it I would because your website told me it would only be $25. 
I'm very displeased.
Honestly, I didn't expect much of a response. And if got one at all I wouldn't expect that I'd be very satisfied by it. This is, after all, an enormous non-profit organization, which means it will be pretty bureaucratic, which usually means no one is really enabled to help. Also, I didn't have a problem with their pricing (hey, it's their business) but the website was completely unclear. 

I am very pleased to report that I was wrong.

Less than 24 hours after sending in that email, I received a call from someone that sounded genuinely sorry about the mix-up. He said that the website had already been updated to be far more clear about this policy (and I checked the site while on the phone with him -- it was definitely now clear that the $25 second kid was only for members) and he went ahead and changed my total payment to be $124, which is what the website had previously led me to believe (this was, in my opinion, really above and beyond). 

In the end, the YMCA was really able to turn this situation around for me, and I wanted to make sure to broadcast that as message as far as I could. Don't forget that your local YMCA is a great place to get started on belated resolutions and to help make your community a stronger place

Friday, January 6, 2012

We hereby resolve

Seems like this is the time of year where everyone makes fun of people who make New Year's Resolutions. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but New Year's resolutions make a heck of a lot of sense.

Why? Because they happen during the post-holiday lull. I can barely remember to dress myself during the holidays. And I'm not the only one. You think these were planned?
OK, maybe this was not the best example.
In any event, it makes sense to try to make life changes during a lull. You don't want to try a new diet during Thanksgiving and Christmas, when as a parent you basically run on the neighbor's rum cake, the cookie crumbs  your kids leave behind, and whatever popcorn tin a vendor drops off at your office water cooler. Your best chance of success is during a period relatively unencumbered with other demands, when you can change your normal behaviors, not your egg-nog inspired abnormal behaviors. 

One thing I don't agree with is starting them on January 1st. Trying to start working out at 5 am and eating nothing but bran while you are nursing the biggest hangover of the year just doesn't make good sense. Top yourself off with biscuits and gravy, slide on into a soul food stupor, and try to change your life on the 2nd. 

Next year, anyway. I'm sure you've already blown this year.