Category Archives: Odds and Ends

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



Cartoons are fun…


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

Definition of a Gentleman

Not too far from our house is Oak Ridge Military Academy. This is posted in a building on campus:

Definition of a Gentleman

    A gentleman is a man who is clean inside and outside, who neither looks up to the rich nor down on the poor, who can lose without squealing, who can win without bragging, who is considerate to women, children, and old people, who is too brave to lie and too generous to cheat and too sensible to loaf, who takes his share of the world’s goods and lets other people take theirs.

When is the last time these traits were demonstrated in the media?

We all need a little more wisdom when it comes to the people we elevate to hero status. Most often, the people we should be looking up to receive no media attention at all. Here’s to choosing wisely!


June is National Audiobook Month

If you’ve seen the classic movie A Christmas Story then you probably remember the excitement of little Ralphie when Little Orphan Annie came on the radio. Dramatic radio was a tremendously popular medium before television and in the early years of moving pictures. We’re trying to bring it back, in a way.

Our seven year old daughter recently checked out some audiobooks from the library. She couldn’t stop listening to them. She closed the door to her room so she could give full attention. She gave us updates about the story. In other words, she loved it.

I used to have a looong commute to work so my brother-in-law suggested audiobooks to help pass the time. I didn’t think I’d like them because the idea sounded so old-fashioned. But I was wrong! The books I listened to were fantastic and fascinating. And because of the limited selection at our library, I was forced to pick stuff I wouldn’t have normally read but enjoyed them anyway.

If you haven’t given audiobooks a try, check out or Librivox offers free books that are public domain. Pick the Brain has more places to find audiobooks and podcasts. Check them out, err, download a book today and give it a try.

A Blast from the Past

You can probably tell by the subtle name of this blog that I don’t care too much for television. At first, I found this ad to be hilarious in its rosiness. Then I read the copy under the heading “Will television strengthen family ties?” Through my squinty eyes I read that “parents can select their children’s ‘TV diet’ from a wide variety of wholesome programming.” While a casual flip through the channels today reveals anything but a ‘wide variety of wholesome programming’, parents have the duty to monitor their kids’ viewing choices.

The Parents’ Television Council has a lovely color-coded chart that is limited in that it only covers the old-guard networks. But it does give you an idea about what other shows may contain.

There’s really not much that is wholesome and even beneficial on television today. But if your kids are going to watch something, you’d best be aware of what is in their “TV diet”.


Battle Lines Drawn

Bring it.

Crouching, scheming, my opponent draws up her plan. Wary of the first-timer’s untested ways, I reach back in my mind to similar battles fought years ago. Where would I strike first?

“The Rookie”, a title that has caused many an opponent to go easy on her – until she snatches victory from them, consults with her advisor. She strikes first. An unconventional move, to be sure. But this is not a conventional war. No, my friend.

You're no match for me!

As the battle raged on, an astute observer might have compared it to a tango, rather than the gruesome and difficult ordeal it was. Resolute, I press on, vaulting over the orbs launched in my direction. Intended to throw me off track, I use them to my advantage.

In the end, my experience is too much for The Rookie. I conquer her former territory and take it as my own. Respectfully, as a defeated foe might be expected, she replies, “That was SOOOOO fun, Daddy!”


Blessings and Curses

Nine years ago, my wife and I lived and taught in the beautiful town of Copan Ruinas, Honduras. My first realization that TV stinks came when we rode with a friend to her home for dinner.

As we bounced along the washed-out road, we noticed that a large number of people in the neighborhoods were gathered around a few TV sets scattered in houses here and there.

Our friend told us that before electricity had been brought to their barrio a few years earlier, people would gather in a similar way. The only difference was that friends and neighbors would sit around and talk to each other. TV had changed that. Now, electricity had brought blessings and curses: blessings such as electric appliances for those who could afford them and curses such as TV.

How is your home in comparison? Are your evenings filled with conversation? Or does David Letterman, Bear Grylls, or the SportsCenter guys have the last word of the night?



Television: A medium – so called because it is neither rare nor well done. ~Ernie Kovacs

What’s ironic about this statement is that Kovacs was a television star and is credited with influencing many comedic minds. But then again, I’m a public school teacher whose wife home-schools our children. Contradiction is interesting.

Are there any interesting contradictions in your life? Are you a member of PETA who works at a hog farm? A video producer who doesn’t watch movies? Let us know!