Author Archives: Brian Webb

National Trails Day

Salem Lake Trail

I used to think there wasn’t a difference between dirt trails and paved trails. Actually, I preferred paved trails because my shoes stayed clean. Over time, though, I’ve grown to love the sound of rocks and leaves under foot. Or under tire, as it was today.

It’s National Trails Day so I thought I’d celebrate by heading to a local trail that loops around a lake. Seven miles later, I’m sore but feel great. I hope you can get out this weekend and hear the crunch of loose rock as you hit the trail.

You can find great hikes near you at


Can’t Stop It


“The days are long but the years are short.” said an older man whose kids had grown and left the house. “Yeah, that’s what I hear.” was my I’ll-take-your-word-for-it reply. My baby was just a few months old at the time. Now? She’s seven. Seven?

Life has a nice habit of reminding you of important stuff now and then. The only catch is that you have to pay attention. My not-so-baby girl and I were walking the other day when she put her hand in mine. That little act was like a punch in the gut. Why? Her hand wasn’t so little anymore. I don’t have bear paw hands like my dad but her hand took up a good amount of real estate in mine.

I honestly don’t know how that happened. I know she’s grown these past 7 years – I’ve seen her pretty much every day of her life. But I swear she wasn’t this big yesterday.

She (and her sister and brother) is the reason why we don’t have TV. If she’s grown up this quickly, how much faster would it have gone with my attention given to television?

We can’t stop our kids from growing up. But we can make our time with them purposeful.


TV STiNKS in any language

My brother picked up this su-weet mug for me in Valparaiso, Chile when he went a few months ago. I think I’d like to meet the person who made this splendid design! Turn off the TV – Live Your Life.

And you can check out Valparaiso’s sanctioned graffiti here.


Screen-Free Week 2011

You can do it!

Screen-Free Week starts TOMORROW and I think we’re ready. Are you up to the challenge? You’ll find you have so much more time to do the stuff and hang out with the people you say you don’t have time for.

Let us know how things are going as you move through your own Screen-Free Week. Best wishes!


My Feet Taught a Lesson

One Day Without Shoes

As a teacher, I like to find ways to make my students think I’m weird. I shave my head to raise money for St.Baldrick’s And today, I went barefoot. My feet hurt. That’s the point.

Today was TOMS shoes annual One Day Without Shoes. If you haven’t heard, TOMS has successfully combined business and giving by providing a new pair of shoes to kids without footwear when someone buys a pair.

It was a great chance to get the students at my school to look at me like I was crazy. It was even better to have them realize how fortunate they are to have their basic needs met. I teach in a high-poverty school. But none of the students there face the level of poverty much of the world deals with.

Hopefully by being crazy and a little weird, I can get my charges to think about ways they can solve a problem they see in their communities.

Lamborghini Kids

I won’t be buying a Lamborghini. Ever. They’re (obviously) expensive. But why?

It takes 150 hours to build a Lamborghini. I once read that it takes 24 man hours just to stitch the leather on the seats. In contrast, somewhere between 50-75 lesser cars can be built in an hour on an assembly line. Why are Lamborghinis so expensive? Because of the work and quality of materials put into them.

I want my kids to be the Lamborghinis of the world. Kias are probably nice cars and can get you from here to there but they’re not renowned for their quality. I don’t want Kia kids.

If you want highly-valued, high-character children, you have to put in the man hours. Put the stupid remote down and get involved in the day-to-day lives of the little people that matter.


Could your bedroom TV make you fat?

An article published in the July 2010 issue of Behavior Modification found that people with a bedroom TV watched “significantly more TV (5.4 hours per day) than those without a bedroom TV (3.6 hours per day).”

Although the researchers from the University of Vermont found no direct link between hours of TV watched in the bedroom and Body Mass Index (BMI) rating, the people they studied were already overweight or obese.

Television watching is clearly not the only factor in determining our health. However, the cause and effect of TV watching and health does seem to exist. Studies have shown time and again that children with bedroom televisions have a greater chance of being overweight. I’m willing to bet that a larger study would find a correlation between adult BMI and hours of television watched in the bedroom.

Sitting (or reclining) in front of the television is not part of my doctor’s orders for a healthy lifestyle. How about yours?


Do we need more male teachers?

I’m a rare bird – a male elementary school teacher. At trainings and education conferences I’ve been to, men are outnumbered at least 10:1. So it comes as no surprise when some well-meaning woman comes up to me and says, “Bless your heart. You know, we need more male teachers.” I always agreed with them.

Until recently.

The underlying reason for their statement is the fact that so few children have male role models in their daily lives. A male teacher would provide that model for at least 180 days. While I relish being a role model for my students, I’ve realized something.

It’s not my job.

David Popenoe wrote in his book Life Without Father:

But the decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague American society: crime; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock births to teenagers; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse and alienation among adolescents; and the growing number of women and children in poverty.

I’m supposed to make up for that?!?

Listen, there is no way that I can fill the father-sized hole in my students in 180 days. In my current class of 15, six students have their fathers in their homes. This is the highest total in my eight years teaching at my present school. I can almost always tell if Dad is around after being around my students for a few days.

More male teachers certainly wouldn’t hurt anything, but it’s not the solution.

The solution is stronger families. Stronger men. Stronger leaders. We need men who will step up and do the difficult job of raising a family. I know it’s not easy. It would be so much easier for me to check out on my three children. But that’s not what they need.

Kids don’t need more male teachers. They need their daddy to be Daddy.


Vehicular (checkbook) Homicide

My car history is not that impressive.
-1981 Mercury Cougar with every piece of fabric torn or ripped on the interior.
-1988 Ford Tempo that served me well unitl the trunk got smashed in.
-1988 Honda Accord with no-power power windows and no AC
-1992 Honda Accord that was about to be auctioned for parts but lasted me 7 years
-1999 Toyota Camry that I still drive

The cool thing: Three of those cars were either free or paid for with cash. The cooler thing: I don’t have a desire to test drive the all new 2011 something or other. My Camry has 182,000 miles and no payment.

I like having no car payment. Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey has something to say if you’re in the market for a new car.

Here’s the deal. Recent statistics show that one-third of car buyers sign up for a six-year loan at an average interest rate of 9.6%. Among these buyers, the average price of the car is just over $26,000. This means that one-third of the cars you see on the road are dragging a $475 payment behind them.

No TV means limited exposure to advertising which leads to increased satisfaction with the stuff I’ve got. I hope and pray that my financial decisions do not lead us into making $475 a month for a car.

How about you? Has the slick advertising of the latest and greatest car duped you into thinking you need it? Before going car shopping, you’d best ask Mr. Checkbook’s opinion on the matter and count the costs before signing on the line.


The State of OUR Union

President Obama will soon give his State of the Union address to cheers or consternation (depending on which side of the aisle you’re on). And while the President’s address has some impact on the overall workings of the country, what he says won’t really have an impact on the daily life of my family. I’d like to offer a much more meaningful and impactful dissertation on the state of OUR union.

My wife and I have been married for nearly twelve years. We have three awesome kids who bring joy to us each day (no lie). I’d like to offer some updates on domestic issues that I feel should be highlighted:

*LABOR The number of workers in our domestic workforce will increase twenty percent. How is this possible in the days of high unemployment? Our son will turn two soon and has been doing more and more things around the house like putting away his toys, books, and sippie cup. His workload will increase throughout the year, therefore the increase in labor.

*THE ENVIRONMENT The First Lady and I have made a concerted effort to destroy the invasive species colorus televisius and its cousin flatus screenus. I am happy to report that all specimens have been removed from the domestic environment which has resulted in unprecedented tranquility, reduced spending, and greater communication across all departments.

*POPULATION Population totals are expected to remain stable. However, we are not completely opposed to welcoming new members and if they should arrive, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that they are welcomed and their needs met until they can effectively contribute.

*DOMESTIC SECURITY A great indicator of the level of domestic security is the level of debt that has been taken on. I am pleased to report that debt has been attacked and is retreating as we speak. Within half a year, all debt is expected to be driven from our home, creating a safe and secure financial environment. The enemies of student loans, credit cards, and hospital bills will not be welcomed back.

*HEALTH The premiums are too durn high. Some things are out of my control.

If you’re married, consider the state of YOUR union and make the necessary changes to make it better.