Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stop Tracking Santa Claus On The News

Not to be a Scrooge, but newscasts shouldn't report where Santa Claus is on Christmas Eve. I've seen newscasts "track" Santa's route around the world. They say NORAD is doing it, which is true.. sort of. I'm probably going to sound like the worst person in the world by saying this, but hear me out.

(Note to kids reading this who hope Santa visits every Christmas: My blog is not for children, so you probably shouldn't be reading it.)

Let's get real for moment. Santa Claus does not exist. Because he doesn't exist, newscasts shouldn't be reporting that he does.

Yes, some stations may only have a throwaway line during a weather report, but some do more Santa Claus reporting. I saw this on a station in Washington, DC:

View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

That's a whole segment devoted to someone that doesn't exist. There are two reasons why this bothers me.

Considering all the important things we need to know more about, like the economic downturn, political corruption and our standing and security in the world, the money and time in a newscast are extremely limited and valuable. News organizations shouldn't be wasting resources to perpetuate a myth to kids. Put the time and resources devoted to St. Nick toward something newsworthy.

More importantly, "reporting" on Santa Claus puts the reputation and integrity of newscasts into question. Those segments might be easy to do, or those light-hearted little comments might seem like a good way to bring out the personality of an newscaster, but they weaken the credibility of a program that's supposed to report facts. Leave the Santa beat to one of the other hundreds of channels out there, or go watch his progress online.

This may not be a popular sentiment. A Chicago newscaster said that Santa doesn't exist, got a lot of negative backlash and made an on-air apology. (The apology was a way over the top, though. You'd think she cursed out kid.) Newscasts shouldn't go that far and ruin Christmas for little kids, but it would be nice if they only gave us facts.

Leave Santa to our kids' imagination.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

English-English In Our House

This was originally posted on my Tumblr.

What's obvious in the picture from a few posts ago is that Holly, Spencer and I are a multi-racial family. What's not obvious from that picture is that Holly emigrated from England almost 20 years ago. Even though she's been here for two decades, she still has much of her accent. You'll notice it almost immediately when she says our son's name. "Spenc-ah" sounds very different compared to my American pronunciation: "Spenc-er.

In addition to having an accent, there are numerous "English-English" expressions, as we like to say, that she still uses. Some of them aren't strange to the American ear, like "mum" for "mom." But one of the great things I love about the English language is that people in different parts of the world use the same words completely differently. Or they might throw in a "foreign" word in the middle of "normal" sounding sentence.

There are some words or phrases that can be picked up, well, straightaway (or quickly):
Rubbish - trash or trashy. "That reality show is rubbish!"
"Quarter-Past" or "Half-Past" The Hour - "We have to leave by quarter-past four."

Holly uses those, but I had heard them on my trips to the UK before we met. So, they weren't strange to me. But there were others that, when Holly first said them them to me, I had to ask, "Huh?"

Nappy - a diaper
Dummy - a baby's pacifier
A Tip - a mess. "This place is a tip."
Mutt and Jeff - hard-of-hearing, as in, "No, I asked you where you put the diapers. Are you mutt and jeff?"
Throwing A Wobbly - having a tantrum. "Spencer got too warm and started throwing a wobbly." (One day, I told Holly that Spencer threw a wobbly and she switched it up on me: "Aww.. did you have bit of a barney?" she sweetly asked him.
Bloody Cheek - describing someone's rude or obnoxious actions. "Well that's a bloody cheek!"

When he's old enough, Spencer will probably use some of these phrases. Holly still has her accent, so he might pick up a bit of that too.

I have a feeling he'll call her "Mum."


This was originally posted on my Tumblr.

Before my son was born, I didn't want to put too much information about him - photos, even his name - in this space, on Twitter or elsewhere on the Internet. (Facebook profiles are a little different. Ideally, content there can be restricted so only certain people see it.)

At some point, my son is going to make his own friends online, try to get into college, look for a job and find a mate. The last thing he would need is an online record of embarrassing stories and pictures that could make those things difficult for him. I felt he should make his own choices about his online presence. Since he's not old enough to make those decisions right now - my thinking went - he shouldn't have any online presence at all. No name, no pictures, nothing.

But after reading some other parenting blogs, I saw there are ways to talk about parenting and life in general without exploiting the child or making them the star of the show. He can be the star of his own show - if he chooses - when he's old enough to make that decision. This space is about me being a father, a husband, a member of this family and other things I find interesting related (or not) to that topic. To tell that story, I need to responsibly tell a little about him. I've already started that.

All of that is long way of introducing my wife Holly and my son Spencer.

Bright Spot In The Blackout

This was originally posted on my Tumblr.

The surprise Halloween weekend snowstorm caught everyone off guard, including me. I tried to make it out of New York that Saturday afternoon, but the snow and fallen treesprevented me from getting out. So, I crashed at a friend's place in the city that night.

Saturday night, the power went out at home in Connecticut. By the time I got home on Sunday, Holly and I already decided to go to my mother's in Maryland. We hadn't planned on taking an overnight trip with the little guy until Thanksgiving, but we knew it would be at least a few days before the power came on. We also knew Grammy would want to see her grandson.

Since this was our first long road trip with Spencer and he sleeps the longest at night, we figured it was best to travel then. Besides, the heat didn't work at home, so the car was warmer anyway.

There we were. Refugees from the blackout, hittin' the road with our two-month old in the middle of the night, not knowing when we'd be back home.

After three stops - two for Spencer to eat, one for us to take a nap - we arrived at my mom's early Monday morning. Later that day, we found out that the power might be out for week! We could've stayed at Mom's as long as we needed, but we had appointments and commitments in New York and Connecticut. We needed to be home by Friday.

It was frustrating. If you've kept up with the power issues in Connecticut, you'll know this happened two months ago. After Hurricane Irene came through, there was no power in our town for week. The first night of that blackout, Holly was in labor with Spencer. That wasn't fun.

So, there we were again, looking at another week without power.

There was a silver lining from this latest power outage: We were able to spend a lot of time with family.

We ended up staying in Maryland from Monday through Friday. Spencer got to spend time with my parents, who hadn't seen him since he was born. From Maryland, we went to New York where Spencer spent time with aunts, cousins and a great-grandmother!

Power came back on Sunday afternoon, which was fortunate for us because we had to go back to Connecticut no matter what (Holly was getting ready to look into hotels). I could be furious at Connecticut Light & Power: Two blackouts in two months, each lasting a week?!?! That's completely unacceptable. I look forward to seeing the results of the inquiry into what happened.

We made the best of it, though, and things turned out great. We found out that Spencer travels well during both day and night. This was great news for Holly and me since we like to travel. But the best news was that Spencer, Holly and me were able to spend a lot of time with family.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Man Up For The 2012 Election

The post was originally published on my other blog, Jazz Guns Apple Pie.

Before Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment, and before the allegation of a 13-year affair came to light, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO gave an interview to GQ magazine. Actually, it was more of a pizza party in which they talked about things like Cain's 9-9-9 Plan over slices. But they talked about pizzas, too. Here's a bit of it:
[GQ Correspondent] Chris Heath: What can you tell about a man by the type of pizza that he likes?

Herman Cain: [repeats the question aloud, then pauses for a long moment] The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.

Chris Heath: Why is that?

Herman Cain: Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. [laughs]

[GQ Senior Editor] Devin Gordon: Is that purely a meat question?

Herman Cain: A manly man don't want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.
Another GOP candidate touted their manliness as a qualification for office on Nov. 16.

From CNN.com:
"If we want to change this country up…I'm your man," [GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele] Bachmann said in Webster City, Iowa, on Wednesday. "When people think of the president, they think of who is that individual. And I'm willing to 'man up,' so to speak, for the job and do what needs to be done… I'm a very strong woman."
So, it's started. The candidates are beginning to man up for the election.

All of this may be moot. Bachmann has been down in the polls for weeks, and Cain may drop out by the end of the week. But these probably won't be the last flexing their manly muscles. What's interesting is that it doesn't matter if the candidate is a man or woman. For some, manliness is a qualification for office.

Which of the pizzas served at the GQ interview did Cain like the most? It shouldn't be a surprise: "The man pizza!" he said. "The manly pizza! That was great."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bill Maher: "When Men Are Just Among Men, They Just Do Stupid Things"

This post was originally published on my other blog, Jazz Guns Apple Pie.

When Bill Maher* appeared on The View Tuesday, everyone talked about his very uncomfortable exchange with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. (His joke may have been bad, but she took it more personally than she admitted. And worse, she was a bad host.)

But what may have gone overlooked was what Maher said before things got awkward with Hasselbeck. Co-host Joy Behar asked Maher about what he thought about the child sex abuse charges against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Maher: Well, you know, I uh.. you'd like this, 'cause I said on my show Friday night, that any institution where there's no women around, like the church, like football, like the Middle East, like fraternities, it just goes to hell. You do need..

Behar: Boys are bad.

Maher: Well, you do need women as a moderating influence. I mean, when men are just among men, they just do stupid things. That's really true.

Is Maher on to something? Are individuals in those institutions and others more likely to do bad things? Does something happen when men get together that cause bad things to happen? And if so, what can we, as a society, do to change that?

Was he right that women have a moderating influence on men?

Watch the video and leave your comments below.

(The exchange begins at about 0:46.)

*Disclosure: I work for HBO who airs his weekly show.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Pizzas Are Delivered"

Holly and I took three great classes at the hospital where our baby will be born: Labor and Delivery, Baby Basics and Lactation. They were very informative and the instructors were great.

The classes were fun, too. One of the funniest things I heard was one of the instructors talking about the delivery of a baby. She started to say when the baby is delivered, but she stopped herself. "Babies aren't delivered," she sighed and said to herself as if the PC nursing police had told her 1000 times. "Pizzas are delivered. Babies are birthed."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Smartest Man In The World

The other day on the street, I heard a man say to his son that because the father is "no where near the smartest man in the world" the son wouldn't be either. He went on to confirm to his son that people are only as smart as their parents or family are.

What struck me the most wasn't that the father was actually saying this - although that was pretty shocking - it was the fact that this boy, who looked about 8 or 9 years old, believed it.

The only reason the son couldn't be the "smartest man in the world" is because the father told him he couldn't.

Since the boy believes he is incapable of being smart, he won't be. And why shouldn't he believe if his father, who the son presumably admires, trusts and believes in, says so? He won't even try, because that that's what he was taught to do.

It was a powerful blow to see how much a parent's words, example and influence can affect their child.

Monday, July 18, 2011

He's Coming Home.. Soon

Big things are coming. Well, one big thing.

My wife and I are expecting our first child at the end of August: about six weeks from now.

For months, we've been planning for his arrival and wrapping our heads around the fact that our lives - together and individually - will change. It's only been in the past couple of weeks, though, that it's really starting to hit home.

Of course, seeing things like sonogram pictures, watching my wife's belly grow and watching him move inside it were weren't ignored. In the last few weeks, though, our home has gone from a place where two adults lives to a place where two adults and baby (will) live. Considering we've haven't had much contact with babies, that's a big change.

His room, which we call the Quiet Room, is completely rearranged. All the boxes that were there as long-term storage have been cleared out. Shelves and wardrobe units have been put in. They will soon have the baby items we've begun to receive: clothes, covers, cushions and all kinds of contraptions for the little guy we can't wait to meet.

All these changes and physical objects in our home - right in our faces that change way we live - make us realize he's coming very soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Year, Another Blog

Here we go again. I'm starting another blog.

This space won't replace my current blog Jazz Guns Apple Pie. These blogs will complement each other.

In this space, I'll talk about more personal things like fatherhood, lighter topics (yes, I know JGAP is heavy sometimes) like moving to the suburbs after living in New York City for 15 years, and other random observations that aren't a good fit for Jazz Guns Apple Pie.

Thanks for reading and coming along for the ride.