Author Archives: Brian Webb

Our Marriage Didn’t Love Raymond (science proves it)


I’m quickly making my way through Martin Lindstrom‘s book Buyology.  It’s a fascinating read about the psychology behind our buying habits and what is used to influence our decisions.

To write the book, Lindstrom did three years’ worth of brain scan research to find our reactions to brands, logos, advertisements, etc.  He explains that mirror neurons are why we smile when others smile, cry during Hallmark commercials, and jump like a loon when our team scores.  He writes that mirror neurons cause our brains “to react as if we were actually performing these activities ourselves.”  This explains why I was so sad when Iowa lost football games when I was younger.  Now I’m just used to it.  Go Hawks!

Here is where science, Lindstrom’s words, my experience, and Everybody Loves Raymond get together and have a big ‘ol lovefest.

When my wife and I had a TV, one of our favorite shows was Raymond.  It was popular, funny, innocent enough, and seemingly fine.  What I began to not appreciate was the snark and sarcasm written into the script each week.  While funny at the outset, the problem began to rear its head when I noticed myself using the same snark and sarcasm with my wife.

Right now you’re saying something about how I’m crazy to think that a TV show can influence behavior.

Well, this rise in sarcasm was one of the reasons why we ditched our television however many years ago it was.  And I wasn’t crazy about my observed behavior.  Science backs me up.

Lindstrom writes that mirror neurons “are the reason why we often unwittingly imitate other people’s behavior.”  What we were watching was behavior that wasn’t worth imitating.

Sure, it was funny on TV.

But try saying this to your significant other:

Marie: Oh I used to love Valentines Day!… then I met your father.
Frank: I used to love every day.

Or try any of these other “funny” quotes from  Most of those lines have no place in a healthy relationship.

If science says we mimic what we see AND feel like we’re the ones doing the things that we see, why subject ourselves to stuff that isn’t beneficial?

How would you benefit from a change in what you feed your mirror neurons?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Typical – MuteMath

Can I break the spell of the typical?

Tree Climbability Scale

Resident Tree Climbing Expert

My oldest daughter is a monkey.  There’s no visible tail, so maybe she’s an ape.

At any rate, she’s always on the lookout for a good climbing tree.  There’s the cherry tree at my parents’ house and the tree out front at my in-laws’ house where she’ll climb the branches and read for hours if we’d let her.  She knows a good climbing tree when she sees it.

I tell you this to give a sense of  the depth of knowledge my daughter has in this area.  She knows her stuff.

So, without further ado, Ginny presents her Tree Climbability Scale.

A Poor Selection

Me:  On a climbability scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being an awful tree to climb and 10 being the best tree ever, what number would you give this tree?

Ginny:  A zero.  This one wouldn’t be good for climbing because it doesn’t have any branches on the bottom.  Unless you were a monkey.

Me:  I thought you were a monkey, Ginny.

Ginny: I am, a little.

A Better Option

Me:  What do you think about this one?  Scale of 1-10?

Ginny:  Probably a five for that one.  It’s too small but the branches look strong enough to hold you.

Me:  Would you climb it if there weren’t park police driving around?

Ginny:  Yes, I would (teeheehee).

Primo Climbing Tree

Me:  How would you rate this one?

Ginny:  A 100!   Awesome!

Me:  What’s awesome about it?

Ginny:  The branches are closer together and they’re easier to climb.

Me:  Do you think you could climb as high as Mommy?  She’s a monkey, you know.

Ginny:  I did climb as high as her.

Me:  Right.

Ginny’s 5 Tips for Choosing a Climbing Tree

  1. Make sure you can reach the branches.
  2. Look for one where you can go high.
  3. Look for branches that are strong enough to hold you so they won’t break.
  4. Find places to hold onto.
  5. The branches should be close to each other or you might not be able to reach them.

Me:  Do you have any advice for kids who might be afraid to climb a tree?

Ginny:  Do not climb high trees if you’re scared of heights.  Choose a short one so you won’t be scared of falling.

Me:  What about grownups who are afraid to climb?  Hypothetically speaking.  I don’t know anyone like that.

Ginny:  I’d probably say the same thing.

Me:  Let’s go find some short trees!

Fathers Need to Die

I’m a dad and I need to die.  In fact, I think all fathers should die.  We’d all be better off for it.

I don’t mean that we should all literally die, of course.  But in a sense, good fathers kill themselves.

I’m not getting any clearer, am I?

How about this:  My selfishness needs to die.

In any relationship, there is a constant battle of what-I-want VS. what-you-want.  That kid (hopefully not mine) throwing a tantrum in the toy aisle?  Selfishness.  He wants the toy, you want your dignity.

The problem is that while our tantrums (hopefully) decrease as we grow older, the root of the tantrum often hangs around much longer.  To be a great dad, I need to kill this root of selfishness.

Break out the Roundup.

I’m not merely talking about sharing your ice cream with your little one.  That’s easy and mostly inconsequential.  It’s exceedingly more difficult to be selfless with our time.

Is your hobby killing your family?

A tremendous young pastor, Josh Lindstrom, spoke some wise words for dads.  Between his job and his family, he doesn’t have time for hobbies.  Truthfully, I don’t either.  Do you?

Do you have kids at home but play golf every weekend?  Why?  Shouldn’t your family be your hobby?

If I took the time for hobbies, something would suffer.  But it wouldn’t be my work duties.  Family often gets the short end of the stick.

I love to go mountain biking with my friend.  But when I go, half of my Saturday is gone – prime time to chill with the family.

So you’re saying I can’t ever have any fun?

Nope.  But I have three suggestions for dads:

1.  Consider changing your idea of “fun”.  Sure (insert activity) is fun, but find something you can do with your family.  Spending time hiking or just being outside together has been great for my family.  Find what works for yours.

2.  “I’ve earned the right to ____________.”  Get over yourself.  You have a family.  Therefore, you have earned the right to lead them courageously.  One of the greatest ways you can do that is to…

3. …be intentional with your time.  I don’t know about your home, but with my kids, the days are often long but the years are way too short.  Spend time doing things that matter with people that matter.

And who matters more than those little people who buy you ties every June?


Father’s Day Gifts for Dads Who Don’t Dress Fancy, Play Golf, Smoke, or Drink (that much)

I’m a dad.  I like being a dad.  And since I’m a dad who likes being a dad, Father’s Day is for me.  Present ideas galore for me, right?!

Except I don’t dress fancy.

And I don’t play golf.

And I don’t smoke cigars.

And I don’t drink stuff that needs special glassware.

And I certainly don’t want a recliner.  Recliners scream “I give up.  Leave me alone.”

There’s got to be other dudes out there that are somewhat like me, so here is my guide to FDGfDWDDFPGSoD(tm).

For the musician:

What would you say if your dad could make his own ukulele?  I’d say, “When’s the party?”  Imagine the family memories made with this!

For the guy who left his wallet in a taxi in Mexico and has been using a horse wallet for three years:

Who wouldn’t be proud pulling this baby out in public?

Almost anything is a fashionable step forward.

For the reflective type:

This journal says I like to write and I like bikes.

For dads with sons: 

Pretty much any book listed here would be sweet.

For dads with daughters:

Ditto above for this list.

For the audiophile:

This is too cool for school.  I want one and I listen to music from the one tiny speaker on my computer.

For the outdoorsy-type:

I like the stuff made by Horny Toad.  Plus, you get the extra benefit of snickering when you say the company name.

For the dad who lives far away: 

Let him see your face.  He’ll love it.

Whatever you end up doing or getting for dear old Dad this year, put some thought into.  Just don’t buy this:

Bad Idea


National Trails Day – Saturday, June 2nd

One of the reasons I started TV STINKS was to encourage people to get outside more often.  The American Hiking Society is putting on their annual National Trails Day with events across the country.  Check out the link for happenings near you, and if there’s no official event, get outside and enjoy the day anyway.  Image  

Cartoons are fun…


but this is better.  Saturday morning action at our house.

Phone Stack Your Life

Ever notice that in some situations people pay more attention to their phones than to the people around them? (Everyone with a teenager who has a phone is nodding their heads vigorously.)

Brian Perez is trying to change that with a dinner game called phone stacking. In a nutshell, when a group goes out to dinner, everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table. The first one to check their phone pays the bill. You can read the official rules here. It’s a clever way to get people to love the ones their with, so to speak.

I think the phone stacking principle can be applied to other areas of life, especially for those of us who are married or have kids.

What are some things you can put aside to focus your attention on those who desire your attention? While my family doesn’t have a TV to pull me away, too often I’m guilty of hopping on the computer to “just check on one thing.” The problem for me is that I don’t have the discipline to do that. Before I know it, two minutes turn into ten which turn into more.

I need to “phone stack” my distractions until there is a time in my day when those activities won’t take me away from my family. They’re worthy of my attention.

How about you? What can you stack?


America’s Most Romantic Foods (Ladies, DON’T READ!!!)

It’s Valentine’s Day! Gentleman, I’m terribly sorry I didn’t get this posted earlier to let you know about the amazingly romantic foods you can give to your lover on this special day. Let’s get started.

1. Heart-shaped pizza


Papa John’s is lowering the boom again this holiday with a delicious heart-shaped doughy grease bomb. Here, honey! I love you!

2. Heart-shaped donuts


Dunkin Donuts offers lovely gut bombs for your loved one. I (310 calories) LOVE (14 g saturated fat) YOU! Krispy Kreme has ’em too!

3. Bagels


Why not?

But really, if you want to make something for your sweetheart, go for it! She’ll appreciate the effort much more than if you didn’t try (i.e. bought something from the list above).

Good luck!

Second Annual State of OUR Union

My Main Squeeze

Right about now, President Obama is giving his annual State of the Union address. Just like last year (and every year), the President’s address will have some impact on the overall workings of the country. But what he says won’t really have an impact on the daily life of my family. That’s up to my wife and I.

The First Lady and I are still going strong – nearly thirteen years into this marriage thing now. In the past year, we became debt-free (thanks Dave Ramsey!), bought a house (thanks GNND program!), and had some other cool stuff happen.

As far as unions go, ours had been fairly uneventful and void of earth-shattering events.

Until last week.

My eat-mostly-healthy-runner wife had a spinal infarction – fancy talk for a stroke in her spinal cord. Five days in the hospital and continued numbness and tingling in her legs have given us our first major medical problem. Even though she seems to be recovering quite rapidly, we’re still humbled and grateful that she is recovering.

The facts say that there is a good chance of full recovery. Reality says that not all situations follow that prognosis. If in fact this is our new normal, we’ll make the adjustments needed and go with it. As my dear wife has been telling everyone from our two year old to our nurses, “God’s got this.”

This possibly-new-normal isn’t easy. But just as I decided to eat some chocolate ice cream right now, we have to decide to stick it out.

In the hospital, my wife kept saying, “Thank you for being here.”

Where else would I be?

What’s the State of Your Union?