Indian Summer

It’s a beautiful fall day in Ktown. Unseasonably warm. Isn’t that called an Indian Summer?

Unfortunately, I have bronchitis and feel like shiz. So I’m in bed. But don’t feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for Lovie. She’s knee deep in kiddos right now and she’s not happy about it. I don’t blame her.

Anyway, since there’s an Indian Summer going down today, it seemed like the perfect time to create a photo album of summertime pics. These were taken by a woman named Beth whom we met in Hilton Head. I’ve also got some great shots of all four of our kids from the fall. I’ll try to get those up soon…In the meanwhile, check these out.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The Audacity of Amazon: The Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure

It's flat-out deplorable.

Dear Amazon,

I’m not sure where to being. After all, I’m a big freedom of speech guy. By and large, I find any sort of censorship to be a bad idea. But not as bad of an idea as the one you made to allow Phillip R. Greaves 2nd to distribute his reprehensible book, The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure, electronically via Kindle on your website.

But what about my passion for allowing freedom of speech, you ask? Good question. You see, the world seldom offers you just one viewpoint. When I argue for freedom of speech, I’m arguing as a citizen for a citizen. But I’m not always acting in the capacity of a citizen. Let me explain.

[Read more...]

Stability is Overrated

If you flap long and hard enough, your wings will eventually take you to where you were always meant to be.

When I was 32, I took a flight to LaGuardia, caught a car service up to Connecticut, waltzed into my boss’ office, and told him I was quitting. Just over a year removed from winning the coveted Reach the Peak award — the highest honor my company gave out for “sales excellence” — I was the victim of an early midlife crisis. My boss, who I’ve remained in contact with to this day, was taken aback.

He assumed that I was going to a competitor, with the help of a slick-talking recruiter, of course. They made a living off of guys like me, essentially stealing us from one company before offering us to another, from which, of course, they’d hope to again snatch us as soon as enough time had passed.

I used to get calls from those clowns all the time. And, sure, I went on a few interviews — even got a couple of offers — one of them from Fidelity Investments. It was a hard gig to pass up, but when push came to shove, I did just that. It seemed so…pointless. Calling on the exact same people, wearing the exact same tailored suits, but hawking a different family of investments.

Part of the reason for my early midlife crisis was wrapped up in all of that — the notion that my white-collared compadres and I were little more than interchangeable parts. To me, there was no soul to what I was doing. I wanted more and I was aware of that for a long time. And I had finally gotten up enough courage to do something about it. Sure, prudence suggested that I find another gig before moving on, but I had saved up enough money to live off of for a year — maybe two. Plus, I’ve never really been all that into being prudent.

“What are you going to do?” my boss asked with a confused look on his face.

“Go to Jazz Fest and run the San Diego marathon,” I answered with a shrug. Beyond that, I hadn’t a clue.

Luckily, things worked out for me. I eventually landed in my hometown and wound up joining my sister-in-law in starting a blue-collar business that fabricates and installs granite countertops. But this June, after over seven years of being co-owner of that business, I found myself in a similar spot to where I’d been nearly a decade before.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the countertop company. And I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. It’s an outstanding little shop. Conservatively run, with very low debt and profitable to boot. But like before, suddenly I wanted more. So in June, I told my business partner that I wanted out. Throughout the months that followed, we worked hard to reach a solution agreeable to us both. And now, it’s finally official.

Yesterday, I went to say goodbye to the fellas. And it was tough. Especially when I said goodbye to our shop foreman who’s been working for us for over six years. He looked me in the eye and thanked me for being what he described as the single biggest influence in his life over the past several years. He told me that he doubted if I even realized how much I had taught him. About life. And that he’d never forget it. Or me. We shared a long embrace before I finally pulled back, dried my tears with the back of my hand, and drove away from the company I helped build for the very last time.

But as hard as yesterday was, the most difficult part of the transition was the actual decision, itself. Primarily because of the eerie peace it brought me from the moment I made it. Paradoxical? Perhaps. But the utter ease with which I made such a big decision initially made me wonder if I could really trust it. The last go round? Getting the courage to quit had been an arduous process. And back then, as a single buffoon who was be-bopping his way through life, I had far fewer things about which to fret than I do now. So why, I wondered, was a similar decision actually easier this time? I pondered that question for 48 straight hours until I finally accepted that there was no answer.

Except faith.

So what, exactly, will I do? Well, I can’t go to Jazz Fest or run a marathon because of those damn triplets. And Pookie, too. Besides, I’m way too content with my family to leave them for any significant period of time. (note to Lovie — except when I go on my annual backpacking trips.) So, instead, I guess I’ll do what it is I wanna do most.

I’ll write.

Thankfully, I’ve got a lot going on. I’m working on a novel (fiction this time) and have even made a little leeway in trying to fool an agent into representing me. I’m also staying busy with the great opportunity that Babble was nice enough to give me. (Come visit me.) And soon, I’ll be regularly contributing to two other fantastic sites. Between the (modest) income from my writing and the little cash pop I received from selling my half of the company, I should be just fine for at least a year.

I’ll be the first to admit that my career path hasn’t exactly been a conventional one. I think it’s because I haven’t fit well in the spots I’ve landed. Strangely, in each of those spots, it looked to everyone around as if I fit just fine. But I’m less into the way things look and more into the way they feel. Not to mention the fact that I understand that not everything can be neatly tucked away inside tidy little boxes. And I’ve come to accept that I’m one of those things.

And that’s okay. Because there’s a spot for those things, too. It’s just harder to find. But if you try your best, the search rewards you with growth. Besides, I’d rather be looking wishing I had already found it, than stuck wishing I were brave enough to still be looking. And one of these days, I’m certain I’ll find my the perfect spot for me. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure I can see it from where I’m currently standing. It’s right over there.

I’m headed that way now.

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Dad Defends Wife: Video of Encounter With Pro-Lifers Goes Viral

Women who walk into this clinic know this guy's story. But does he know theirs?

One of my friends has a video that’s gone viral — over 600,000 hits. His name is Aaron Gouveia, and the first time I ever read his blog, I knew he was the kinda guy I’d be down with. Over the past several months, we’ve built a friendship. Most recently, we’ve become teammates of sorts, as we are both part of a group of dads who will be regularly contributing to the site GoodMenProject.

Anyway, back in July, he shared a series of unspeakably difficult experience with his readers on his personal blog. It culminated with the experience he captured with his video. As I read the series of posts, I was overcome with equal amounts of sadness for my friend who was going through such tough times, as I was admiration for my friend who was navigating them the only way he knew how — without a single ounce of bullshit. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

Most recently, he again shared his story on the aforementioned GoodMenProject site. It got picked up by a bunch of other prominent sites — Salon and Slate among them. And for the second time, his video blew up — only this time to an even greater extent than before.

Simply put, Aaron’s a hero. And I’m not one to throw out such a term lightly. But there’s no other word to describe him. Once you learn his backstory and see the video for yourself, you’ll think he’s a hero, too. I promise.

I blogged about it over at Babble yesterday. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out.

And, Aaron — you’re a good man, my friend. The world needs more like you.

Celine Dion Names Twins — Also Has Celebrity Doppelganger

Days after Celine Dion‘s fraternal twins were born, they finally have a name. One will go by Eddy, after the producer of Dion’s first five albums, Eddy Marnay. The other will be called Neslon, for Nelson Mandela, with whom the singer once spent a whopping three minutes.

Said her rep: “In just the few minutes [Celine and her husband] were able to spend with [Mandela], they were impressed by the human being he is.” (If sanctimony and skewed perceptions of one’s significance make you sick, feel free to hurl. I just did.)

The news really devastated me. Why? Because I had heard that Celine was having a hard time naming the boys, and I wanted to help. I thought she should name them after her celebrity doppelganger. She could have called one Dustin and the other Diamond. Because let’s face it, the homely crooner, even when basked in the soft light her photo shoots undoubtedly require, bears an uncanny resemblance to Screech of Saved by the Bell fame.

Take away her razor for three days and the diva's Screech, y'all.

Here’s a fun fact about Celine. Did you know that she met her husband when she was 12 and he was 38? That’s not creepy. Hey, come to think of it, Celine’s husband, Rene Angelil, has a doppelganger also! James Avery, from Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

I wonder if Carlton knows that Screech married Uncle Phil?

Well, one things for certain. It’ll sure be interesting to find out who Screech and Uncle Phil’s Celine and Rene’s twins end up looking like. It’s bound to be someone famous. Because not only do their mom and dad BOTH have celebrity doppelgangers, so does their older brother. The little guy’s a spitting image of a miniature Ozzy Osbourn.

Screech, Uncle Phil, and mini-Ozzy. Cray Train, indeed.

Photos courtesy of Visopsys.org, Canada.com, LightStalkers, TVonline, and People.

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The Trail to Fatherhood

It's good to get your bearings.

Pssst — please google connect with me. Surely there are more than 8 of you out here. I’m gonna have to take that damn thing down unless a few more of your help a brother out.

Just because I spent the first weekend of October away from my family doesn’t mean that they weren’t on my mind. For I was on my annual Appalachian Trail trip. And whenever I’m backpacking, my thoughts are frequently with them.

In many ways, my time on “the Trail” serves as an excellent parenting metaphor. After all, it’s difficult. It takes lots of preparation. There are many ups and downs. It can often be thankless. Yet it’s also impossibly rewarding. And, at times, it seems never-ending.

On Sunday, as we inched closer to our awaiting car, I finally acknowledged what I hadn’t dared to in the previous two days — our trip was an utter success. Never before had one gone so smoothly. I think it had to do with our preparation. We were more organized than ever.

Take, for example, my “bag” system. There were five of them. The green one was my “utility” bag — rope, batteries, GPS, Flip video, fire-starters, lighter, duct tape, cell phone, and head lamp. The blue one was my “water bag” — water purification tablets, toothpaste, toothbrush, camping soap, aspirin, wipes, hand sanitizer, vaseline, aspirin, and first aid kit. I stuffed both of those bags inside a larger gray bag which also contained a towel, a backpack cover, and an ankle brace (just in case).

This important gray bag was at the very top of my pack which allowed me to access it in an instant’s notice. Beneath it lay my two other bags. Well, one of them was not a bag at all, but rather all of my clothing which was bundled up neatly by my light-weight Arcteryx wind/water shell. The other bag contained my food as well as my camping stove and fuel. Aside from my 20 degree Mountain Hardware sleeping bag (housed in the lower compartment of my backpack) and tent (strapped to the outside of my backpack), those highly compartmentalized bags were all I needed.

A mile or so from the car, it dawned on me. If only I could organize the tools I need as a parent as well as I had organized my backpacking tools, surely parenting would go smoother than ever before, too. This thought filled me with great hope, if not pride, as I imagined a day in the not-so-distant future when temper tantrums would cease to exist.

Why? Because I’d simply take off my backpack of fatherhood and pull out the gray bag. Inside it, my blue bag would be readily available. And inside it would lay reason, empathy and compassion. I’d pull out equal amounts of all three and intercept the would-be tantrum by communicating with my child like never before. He or she would look at me with a perfect mixture of awe and love before happily skipping off toward a pocket of unparalleled and serene happiness made possible only by my sage-like wisdom. Well, that and my sick-ass parent-tool organization, I suppose.

On the drive back home, I smiled from ear to ear as I envisioned the reception I was sure to receive. Lovie, Pookie, and the triplets would welcome home their virile Viking — the one who had summoned up the preposterous amounts of fortitude needed to brave the elements and conquer the wild — the one who had returned home not only in tact, but also armed with indispensable parenting knowledge he was astute enough to glean along the rugged way.

Honestly? I was half expecting a trophy.

And I got one. For as soon as I broke the threshold Lovie handed me a vertical figurine.

My trophy.

“What the hell is this?” I asked loudly to compete with the meltdown my arrival had interrupted

“A plunger,” answered Lovie equally as loud. “The triplets’ toilet is clogged. I need you to unclog it.”

None too pleased, I made my way up yet another incline — the stairs — my right hand ahold of the trophy. (If only it were my hiking stick.) Hey, not a problem, I thought. I’ll just open the gray bag, and then pull out the green one. For in it, I’m sure to find the patience I’ll need to get through this.

As ripe as I was from having been in the woods for three days, I was no match for the deplorable situation that awaited. The water in the bowl of the toilet was littered with an epic amount of toilet paper and was, for lack of a better description, a light shade of soupy brown. I would later find out that it had been, um, incubating for two days.

After 30 seconds of what can best be described as extreme plunging, I.. dry heaved (literally). But that was all I had accomplished. The clog remained. By this time, Monster had scurried up and was overseeing my plunging efforts. Unbeknownst to me, he must have engaged in one of his favorite pastimes — flushing. Or so I gathered when he ran out of the bathroom giggling just as the soupy brown mess began to rise.

Lucky for me, I pulled out some quick thinking (I keep it in the blue bag — which, after all, is my water bag) and immediately reached down to turn off the toilet’s water source so it wouldn’t overflow.

The handle broke off in my hand.

Undeterred, I lifted up the porcelain lid to the back of the commode and jimmied the ball upright so as to trick the tank into thinking it was full, thus stopping the flow of water. (See? Quick thinking.) But it was too late. For by then, the bathroom was covered in a quarter inch of the foulest of water that not even a year’s supply of my purification tablets could remedy.

It was at this time when Monster decided to come check on me again, heading my way via his signature hobbly, bouncy-hop, running deal, his eyes wide with excitement, his mouth slightly agape. “Monster, No!” I yelled as he drew closer, but it was to no avail. Into the bathroom he came, and as he did, he lost his footing on the slimy sludge and quickly resembled a cartoon character after a banana-peel-encounter — his body slipping out from under him, at one point a full twelve inches above the ground, perfectly parallel, mind you, before descending and ultimately landing with a splat on his back in the murky fecal water.

Sadly, my friends, I have nothing inside any of my parenting bags for such a scenario. And what’s more, no amount of organization could ever change that.

The next day, the plumber found the original cause of the problem. The triplets had flushed a pair of Peanut’s shorts down the toilet. They were pink.

We think.

Updates and Important Info

Right now, I'm in transition.

You wanna know the story of my life? Spending a ton of time revamping a site that I suddenly stop using. Well, stop using may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s definitely safe to say that I’ve not been posting very often of late. There are several reasons why, the biggest of which being that I recently accepted a writing gig with Babble, a prominent parenting website. I’ll be contributing five days a week. (Today’s offering? A 10 step list to get rid of head lice. Not that we’ve ever had them or anything. Okay, that’s bullshit. We’ve had ‘em. Stop judging me.)

While the Babble thing is great news, it’s also thrown me a bit of a curveball as far as time management. What’s more, I just got invited (along with six other “dad-bloggers”) to regularly contribute to another fantastic site — again, a good development, but also another curveball. So this batter is making some adjustments at the plate. Long story short, I’m in the process of reshuffling my deck and soon, many things in my life will look much different than they do now.

But one of those things will not be my blog. I love writing here. And I plan to eventually return to business as usual at jco.com. Which means I’ll continue to regularly post random-ass stuff with super-long, borderline-run-on sentences, which, of course, if not inevitably, will contain a shit-tons of commas.

Please come back tomorrow, for I will definitely have a “real” post for you. But before I leave you today, I want to pass along something extremely important. As many of you already know, my good friend Katie Allison Granju is enduring every parent’s nightmare. She dealing with the death of her oldest son, Henry, from a combination of a drug overdose and complications stemming from an assault. Through it all, Katie has bravely chronicled her agonizing story in hopes that by doing so, she might save lives.

I believe she will.

WBIR is running a special on Henry’s story tomorrow night, Wednesday, October 27 at 7:00 Eastern. If you’re in Knoxville, please, please, please watch this. And consider having your children watch it, too. And if you’re not in Knoxville, you can still watch as WBIR will be streaming it live here. And regardless of where you are, if you cannot watch tomorrow at 7:00, it will be archived on WBIR’s website so you can watch it at a more convenient time.

Here’s is the trailer for the special.

Ad Campaign Sells Dads on Fatherhood

Do dads need a commercial to remind them to do this?

The New York Times reported a new series of ads introduced by the Advertising Council yesterday. The target demographic? Dads. The hard sell? Fatherhood…The message — “take time to be a dad today” — is a good one. But is it a necessary one?

That’s the question I pose over at Babble today. If you are interested, just click here to read more,

The Camera

It adds ten pounds, you know. And apparently bags under the eyes as well. Still, the piece that aired last Wednesday night on WVLT here in Knoxville turned out pretty good. Some folks asked me to post it here, so I’ve embedded it below. Click play to see the carnage as well as to hear about the contest I’m trying to win for charity.

Even if you’ve already voted for me, I hope you’ll click on the World’s Greatest Dad icon which appears below the video and do so again. (You’re allowed to vote once every twenty-four hours.) I’m dropping like a stone, so I could really use your help.

Again, if I win, I’ll donate the entire $2,000 first prize to ChildHelp, a fantastic organization which benefits the victims of child abuse and neglect. If you’re so inclined, you can help ChildHelp win that two grand by sharing this post with your network via one of the social media icon buttons which appear directly below the contest icon.

Thanks!

Breaking News: Brett Favre to Retire

What’s this I’m hearing about Brett Favre texting pictures of his, um, helmet to former playboy pinup Jenn Sterger? If she’s to be believed, then Favre makes the sexting DA look like a pimple-faced amateur breathing heavily into the receiver of a rotary-dial telephone. So you mean to tell me that in addition to zipping footballs to his wide receivers, the future Hall of Famer has also been throwing cell-phone pics of his johnson to (buxom brunettes with) tight ends?

And all these years, I thought he was a pocket passer. Boy was I wrong. He’s obviously more of a spread option kinda guy.

Well, on the bright side, it appears as if the object of John Madden’s countless bro-mantic overtures has seen the error of his ways. Because I just heard that Favre is retiring from the ranks of creepy old dudes who text photos of their ding dongs.

That’s right. About an hour ago, Brett Favre officially announced the he’ll never again engage in the act of sexting vapid hotties. He believes. Though it’s hard to say definitively. You know. Never being such a long time and all.

But he’s pretty damn sure he won’t. He thinks. Word has it that he’ll regroup this offseason and talk it over with his family before doing what feels right.

I’ll keep you posted.

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