The Puddin’ Pop Man is baaaaack.

I’ve been away for a while, but rather than give a lengthy reason why, I’d rather just make a smooth and quick transition into a topic, and just move forward from there.

You know who else has been gone for a while? Bill Cosby. Smooth enough?

Jury selection started yesterday, Monday May 22, in the trial that will soon place the final dagger into the hearts of an entire generation who grew up admiring and respecting the comedian.

With Donald Trump in the White House and Bill Cosby on trial for serial sexual assault, it feels like the 80’s turned into an internet troll hell-bent on destroying all of our pleasant memories from that time long ago.

One of those pleasant memories from the 80’s.

 

Remember, there were only a few media options in the 80’s, and Cosby DOMINATED the most popular medium, television. He owned Thursday night. Kids that grew-up in the 80’s pictured Cosby as the ultimate father figure and all-around “good” man. Not just the character Bill played on the show, but actual Cosby himself took on these admirable qualities.

It was easy to confuse real-life Cosby from fictional Cosby. Many of the shows’ plots were taken directly from his stand-up routines, or from his book. Blurring the lines further, the fictional Cosby even wore a pin on the fictional show, honoring real-life Cosby’s friend, Sammy Davis Jr., who died in real life.

Fast forward two decades, directly after the birth of my first son, the nights were often filled with more feeding than sleeping. When breast feeding, there aren’t many other activities one can engage in, except consume electronic media. During this time period, my lovely wife worked her way through several Netflix shows in the wee hours of the night. But one of her favorite watching destinations was Cosby Show reruns.

I often watched them with her and we would talk about how great it will be when our son can watch the show with us. I even imagined when my children get older and become too cocky about their ability to live on their own, replaying the famous scene where the family makes Theo live off of a strict budget of Monopoly money.

Unfortunately, between breastfeeding age and the time my son would be old enough to watch TV, the Cosby scandal broke. I imagine millions of other 80’s children had the same cosby-feuled aspirations that I once had. Unfortunately, those images have now been torn to shreds, lit on fire, buried 15 feet underground, and then had an atomic bomb dropped on them.

Cosby himself is back to remove even the slightest hint of innocence or self-respect he may have left. In a recent Sirius Radio interview with Michael Smerconish, the comedian was asked why he didn’t want to testify. Cosby replied, “I just don’t want to sit there and have to figure out what I believe is a truthful answer, as to whether or not I’m opening up a can of something that makes my lawyers scramble.” In other words, I can’t keep all of my lies straight, so I’m not going to say anything.

As if his statements even carry any weight at all anymore. This is one of the biggest He said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said , she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said competition ever.

At trial, the vileness of this monster will come out, and hopefully his victims will finally know justice and a bit of peace.

Death by 1,000 Meetings

Limiting screen time is a current concern for a large percentage of parents. When I was a kid, my screen time was also regulated. Not by my parental units, but by the fact that we only had access to three channels, and except for Saturday morning, the programming was completely geared toward adults. It’s tough to get a seven year old to appreciate the humor of “All in the Family” long enough to sit through 30 minutes with commercials.

In contrast, my four year old has an unlimited supply of fun or educational cartoons available, sans commercials, 24/7.

But my screen time was also limited by the communication I received from society at large, which essentially boiled down to “Don’t watch TV, it will rot your brain.” The message was clear, time spent watching Voltron, Saved by the Bell, and wrastlin’ were all monumental wastes of time, even for children.

While I accepted the rhetoric, I still logged PLENTY of hours on the couch during my teen and early Twenties—mostly nursing hangovers. While I enjoyed the leisure of wasting entire afternoons watching Real World marathons, society’s message often nagged at me, even to the point of diminishing my enjoyment. “You’re wasting your time” was always present in the back of my conscious.

Then I became an adult.

And as an adult, I have watched millions of wasted man hours in the trivial pursuit of Corporate America’s favorite pastime… meetings.

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Any human who has spent any amount of time behind cubicle walls knows the story of wasted hours. Although every meeting has different variables, so many of them have the same unpleasant and unproductive qualities: topic is too vague, no agenda, boring, tedious, doesn’t accomplish anything, and most effective meetings achieve the same results as a well-crafted two paragraph email.

Worker bees have also perfected a plethora of strategies to occupy themselves during meetings from hell. There’s the doodler, the note taker, the phone checker, the talker, and then there’s the silent type that are daydreaming of the beach, the mountains, or maybe even thinking about a past episode of Saved by the Bell. Myself, I’m a pincher. I pinch myself to stay awake, and to avoid screaming “You’re wasting my time!” as I turn over a table, and storm out of a bad meeting.

SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mario Lopez as Alabert Clifford 'A.C.' Slater, Dennis Haskins as Mr. Richard Belding, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zachary 'Zach' Morris, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL Pictured: (l-r) Mario Lopez as Alabert Clifford ‘A.C.’ Slater, Dennis Haskins as Mr. Richard Belding, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zachary ‘Zach’ Morris, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers — Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

There are a plethora of blog posts and books with fantastic strategies for harnessing the power of meetings. But I have found the most effective way is to simply avoid them—at all costs.

While this may prove trickier to accomplish given your specific employment status, reduction and even elimination of meetings should be the goal. The marketing master, Seth Godin, provides some excellent strategies on meeting improvement and elimination here and here.

As an entrepreneur, I’m involved in different segments of the economy, and it’s interesting to see what role meetings play in various industries. For example, the manufacturing companies I monitor all have essential operational meetings to start and conclude every week. These gatherings are necessarily repetitive, but efficient. In essence, manufacturing processes constantly need tweaked and the line needs monitored, these factors reduce needless meetings.

Typically service industries have less meetings due to the fact that their employees are usually actively serving their customers. Finally, there are the governmental meetings I’m sometimes forced to attend. While I believe the role of a modern day government should be active and effective, in reality, government is only an accumulation of other human beings trapped inside of one non-stop meeting. If you have to attend governmental meetings, my only advice is to bring plenty of reading material. Sorry.

Some meetings are essential in moving the ball forward, but most are not. The ones that are time wasters need to be treated as such, and removed. Not tweaked, streamlined, or revamped, but eliminated.

At the end of the day, you can take control of your own time. For example, I’m skipping a meeting right now, and watching old episodes of Voltron on YouTube.

The Olympics and Steroid Mania

Once again the Summer Olympics are almost upon us, which means two weeks of nonstop action along with two weeks of nonstop reporting about steroid related rules infractions. This follows the slew of disqualifications at UFC 200—if a few more fighters would have been ruled out, Dana White would have needed to enter the Octagon himself.

I have a completely illogical and indefensible view of how steroids should be used in sports.

I think they should be outlawed in baseball, basketball, hockey, boxing, mma, and let the NFL keep sneaking whatever they currently do.

But for the Olympics, bring them on. Stop the record books where they are, and let’s truly test the limits of human ability.

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I want to see some Russian dude push two tons over his head. I want to see some woman run the 100 meters in 7 seconds. I want to see someone put the shot out of the infield.

From everything we’ve learned from Lance Armstrong and the Russian weight program, an extremely high % of athletes are using them anyway (gasp!)  (The key is not getting caught), then why not make their use ubiquitous?

Besides, steroids don’t make you bigger, faster, and stronger, they mainly help you recover. You can take all the ‘roids you can find, not work out, and still be an out-of-shape piece-of-shit.

I’m old, and like many old men these days, my doctor will start prescribing hgh to me in a few years. And yet, no one will care.  So why not load up Usain Bolt, and let the man do something the entire world will gasp at?

I’m 100% certain most people disagree (what about the children?). But, I’d still like to see it. Why not?

Lessons From The Salad Bowl

Salinas Valley is the part of California tucked in between Monterey and Carmel, commonly referred to as “The Salad Bowl”. It’s named that because of the high volume of food it produces for all Americans. It’s a beautiful place that I’ve visited several times.

This week, I spent a lot of time driving through the fields while the workers were harvesting, giving me an eye opening front row seat to their process.

Wow, they sure did have a lot of short workers. I’m sure they weren’t children, just short adults. Right?

They were also covered head to toe. Every worker tries to protect as much skin as possible. Temperatures can be breezy and cold, or reach the high 90’s, it doesn’t matter. The safety from the chemicals is what matters. Even still, the average lifespan of these workers is only 49 years.

But, I’m sure those chemicals have nothing to do with it, right?

I’m sure those same chemicals are “good” for you and your family to eat?

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While I was watching these workers give their life for the food on our table, social media (both here and England) filled up with enough hate speech to make a person lose their appetite. What troubles me most about certain populist movements and the intensely nationalistic rhetoric that flourishes is how the conversation of “us versus them” ALWAYS focuses on the weakest among us.

You’re mad that “illegals” have taken a mythical job that you weren’t offered, and that you wouldn’t do, and that you would die from doing before turning 50? And you want to be mad about it, fine. But, why be mad at the person who’s barely surviving? Why blame the person who travels to work packed into a 40 year old school bus pulling port-a-potties that will later remove their own feces.

 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” – Matthew 25:45

Be angry at the actual root of the problem. Who’s REALLY responsible for illegal employment in this country? The 16 year old working the field for a slave’s wage or the multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporation with a fleet of attorneys and lobbyists?

Between the amount of produce being grown with nasty fracked water and this trip through The Salad Bowl, I have further committed to buying from my local farmers and to growing even more of our own produce.

The Importance of Family Traditions

Preparing for the family’s annual summer vacation focuses my mind on the importance of having family traditions.

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Traditions can be daily, weekly, yearly, or longer. We all have daily traditions that we take for granted. Do you wake your kids up the same way every day? Do you put them to sleep in the same manner? Is there a special game you play on the car ride to school? These routines help define our relationship to our children and to the world itself.

One of our family’s weekly traditions is letting both kids eat Friday night dinner in front of the television. Yes, for all of you Screen Time Police Officers out there, you read that correctly, in front of the television. Even further, there’s very little communication that happens besides delivering and replenishing food and drinks. The adults sit off to the side and have “adult” conversation while the toddlers take in the newest Paw Patrol while shoveling a week’s worth of leftovers into their mouths. Judge away.

Traditions can help teach children and others about religious practices as well as pass down behaviors specific to one’s culture. They can also help mark seasonality, which becomes super helpful when living in a place where the weather stays the same throughout the year. Or, traditions can just be a time when mom and dad recover from a long week, and the kids get to ease into their weekend doing something they desperately want to do.

“Hank, why do you drink? Hank, why do you roll smoke? Why must you live out the songs that you wrote? Over and over, everybody met my prediction. So if I get stoned, I’m just carryin’ on an old family tradition.”– Hank Williams Jr.

What traditions do you and your family practice? Are they positive or negative? Are you mindful of them and their impact?

Traditions can also be the suck-o-licious kind, like, packing for a family of four to be away from home for a week, which is what I need to get back to doing.

The Off-Season Of Discontent

At this point in the NFL off-season, diehard fans are checking reports from mini-camp, monitoring the relevant free-agent news (where will Adrian Foster end up?), debating the potential impact of draft choices, and dissecting other roster moves heading into training camp.

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As preseason approaches, most fans are getting excited—but not Chargers and Raiders fans. It’s difficult for Chargers fans to feel sympathy for Raiders fans, and vice-versa. But in today’s NFL, where franchise movement has become a reality, that’s what has happened. Both fan bases have been so jerked around by their owners and the league that these bitter rivals can actually feel sympathy for each other.

Growing up just a short drive from Pittsburgh during the seventies and early eighties when the Steelers were dominating the NFL, everyone I encountered was a Steeler fan. But not me, instead, I became a San Diego Chargers fan. Some of that decision was due to an inherent rebellious nature. But mainly it was because of Kellen Winslow’s superhuman performance versus the Miami Dolphins in a divisional playoff game—January 2, 1982.

I was a kid, I didn’t care about defensive schemes and blitz patterns, I wanted to see long passes and touchdowns. At the time, a typical AFC Central showdown was a 6 to 3 defensive struggle. In contrast, the AFC West games were shootouts. Soon, Air Coryell won me over.

When I moved to Southern California, I drove around with a perma-grin for the first few months. The weather was always beautiful, and everywhere I looked, there were lightning bolt stickers on the backs of cars. And when I tuned in the local AM sports talk station, I almost cried when they dedicated an entire hour show to the Chargers. I was home.

But that was then. Now, it’s another off-season of discontent for San Diego fans.

Eric Weddle after last home game as a Charger
Eric Weddle after last home game as a Charger

Chargers devotees have to not only deal with losing, we also get to spend another season in franchise limbo. Our pertinent off-season updates contain information about how fast the Chargers received 111,000 signatures for their new stadium proposal. We spend our time reading about Mission Valley developments versus downtown developments. We analyze interviews with Mayor Faulconer and study statements from City Council members in hopes of deciphering future support and votes. We even concern ourselves with the current location of bus yards.

At one point, we had to endure the thought of sharing a stadium with the Raiders. Can you imagine any other divisional rivals sharing a stadium?  “No problem Philadelphia Eagle fans, you can keep your franchise, you just need to share a stadium with the Cowboys.”

With the Chargers proposal moving forward, this off-season has brought dread and the occasional spot of promise. Knowing it could be San Diego’s last year with the Chargers leaves a bad taste in every fan’s mouth. But, once camp and the preseason starts, we’re hoping to get back to actual football news.

How is Melvin Gordon recovering from micro-fracture foot surgery?

How is Gordon’s reunion with former badger FB Derek Watt shaping up?

How is Adrian Phillips developing, and will he be able to fill the extra-large shoes of Eric Weddle?

Is the rookie, Hunter Henry, going to be another Hall of Fame Tight End for San Diego? No pressure.

Is Keenan Allen’s lacerated kidney completely healed, and how does he plan to spend his new four year, $45 million contract?

All of these questions, plus other football related ones, will take center stage as we get closer to kickoff. But, for San Diego loyalists, the real question of whether there will even be anything left to be a fan of is what occupies our off-season thoughts.

The Farmers Market Jerk of the Week

I’ve always had a deep affection for local farmers markets. For the past seven years, I’ve spent nearly every Saturday morning perusing mine. As an entrepreneur, I also view the experience as a refresher course on point of purchase marketing and consumer etiquette. Fortunately, I live in one of the sunniest places on the planet (Southern California), making it possible to people and produce watch 51 weeks a year (off Christmas week).

While the long growing seasons provide ample fruits and vegetables, our market also offers plenty of crafts and activities to keep every generation in the family happy. There’s a miniature train ride, popsicles, kettle corn, and balloon animals for the kids. Handmade aprons, jewelry, tamales, and a plethora of artisanal culinary delights for the adults.

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Over the years, I’ve gotten to know every farmer that my family purchases from and many of the customers as well. We’ve developed a level of familiarity that when we skip a week, our absence is often asked about.  To have a mutually beneficial shopping relationship with pleasant people is a breath of fresh air in today’s retail environment where customer service has been forgotten.

But just like produce, a few bad apples can spoil an entire shopping experience. Today, I saw the ultimate farmers market bad apple.

No, I’m not referring to the crowd of foodies taking up half a stall debating which type of radish tastes the most tart, or the young lady who scarfed down an entire plate of samples, only to scurry away when the farmer turned around to help another customer, or the woman pushing a cart that took up 99% of the aisle. We all encounter these types of behaviors on a regular basis. Most only deserve a shrug and a nod to human idiosyncrasies.

I’m writing about the gentleman who didn’t correct the arithmetic mistake made on his purchase of: one bag of green beans, two heads of kale, three avocados, and two bunches of carrots. The twinkle in his eye, his body language, and the single dollar he put back into his pocket told me he definitely knew his total was seventeen, not the sixteen dollars he was charged.

One dollar.

These particular farmers (husband, wife, and daughter) wake up at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday so they can finish harvesting and load their truck. They drive over an hour to our neighborhood, where they will spend the next five hours baking in the sun. They deliver some of the least expensive organic food to their customers before driving home and repackaging their unsold produce. Their fifteen hour day is repeated six days a week, as they attend markets throughout Orange and LA counties.

Not wanting to cause a scene, but wanting to keep my farmers market karma intact, I paid for my veggies, and handed Maria an extra two dollars. “I’ll pick up another head of lettuce on my way out,” I said.

Oops, I forgot the lettuce.

Mary and her family see close to a thousand customers a day. Yes, they’re only performing basic math, but even simple subtraction gets difficult when you’re tired and have several customers simultaneously pulling at you.

farmers3

I try to be a good customer; I don’t molest each piece of fruit before putting it back. I’m efficient and courteous while filling my bags. But, I often rely on their arithmetic. I tell them what I bought, and they tell me how much I owe them. It’s simple laziness on my part. Next week, I’ll give them the purchase total right after telling them what I bought. It’s a small change that will probably go unnoticed. But, if it takes just a small burden off of people who do so much for me and my family, then bring on the addition and subtraction.

Human contact has been removed from many of our economic transactions these days. But it’s the personal relationship element, the sense of doing what’s right for your customer and fellow man, that allows lifestyle businesses to remain successful, and for growth companies to scale while remaining true to their core. It’s also what keeps people from being jerks at your local farmers market.

Size Matters in The Sauna and The Voting Booth

I’ve become enamored with saunas thanks to Dr. Rhonda Patrick and her message of how consistent use can produce significant health benefits, including a significant reduction in the rates of cancer. In fact, my family is set to begin remodeling our house in stages, and I hope to have some of the additional square footage earmarked for a home sauna. But, until then, I travel to my local gym’s hotbox almost every day. It’s a smaller industrial unit, but it’s well-lit and clean. Minus the occasional visitor, I have plenty of space to read while increasing my heat shock proteins.

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This morning, I was joined by two other heat seekers. The first, an older gentleman, probably in his early seventies, was the first to arrive. He stood directly in front of the sign displaying the rules of the sauna, removed the towel from around his waist, and climbed to the second tier of benches. He then used his towel for a pillow. As he reclined, he exposed his seventy year old ass-crack to every member in the locker room who would walk past the glass door or enter the sauna.

Moments later, a younger gentleman, in his mid to late twenties entered the sauna wearing his complete basketball uniform—high-tops and all. He walked over to the lava rocks, splashed an entire cup of water over them, passing the sign twice before sitting down. To his credit, he did manage to stay over twenty minutes, even though he remained fully dressed the entire time.

The sign only has six rules— number three is all sauna goers must wear a towel at all times, number five is do not pour water on the lava rocks.

I tried to focus on my novel, but the heat made my mind wander to my upcoming plans for the day. After the gym, I was headed to vote in the California primary for the final day of this cycle’s primary season. (Is there anyone in America who isn’t already sick of this Presidential election cycle?) Then, because of my fellow sauna goers, my mind shifted to how demographics determine our societal structure and our political landscape. If you want to significantly shift societal norms, like the Boomers did in the 60’s, size matters.

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I belong to Generation X, a title so cool that we should have been given X-Men superpowers instead of a latchkey. We have a population range between 70 and 83 million depending on when the generation is counted.

The Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) currently total just above 75 million people.

Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) now number over 83 million people, dwarfing even the Boomers.

Gen X’s size, compared to those around us, means we’re destined for a life of political partnership. While we have views that are uniquely ours, we aren’t numerous enough to impose our collective will without partnering with large segments of our fellow citizens— which is good. Perhaps my generation can lead the nation’s political discussion back to a time when we worked with our neighbors instead of throwing partisan mud at them.

As for me, after voting, I negotiated my family’s discussion until the sauna reached the top of our remodeling to do list.

The Other “G” Word

William Klug Ph.D., an Engineering Professor at UCLA, was murdered on Wednesday June 1, 2016. There are several apparent motives, including a poor grade received by the shooter. Professor Klug’s death was one of only 27 gun fatalities on that day; however, his death hit home in a particularly personal way. We had several mutual friends who were impacted. Also, my wife is a professor, and meeting with disgruntled students is a common occurrence in her job. This is also true for most of our closest friends and neighbors.

Given how often my loved ones find themselves in similar situations as Professor Klug, one might expect another post about the state of guns in America. But, this will be about the other “g” word that Americans have become obsessed with— grades.

In this era of Common Core, it’s worth noting that standardized schooling is a relatively new concept in human history. Horace Mann has long been lauded as the person who implemented a consistent learning experience throughout the United States in the early 1800’s. But, it was Henry Ford’s miraculous assembly line and the industrial revolution that followed that necessitated training millions of workers who could stand in line, follow directions, and perform mind-numbing work for eight to twelve hours a day.

The groundwork was laid. Standardized factories meant standardized schools. The playbook for success was passed down from generation to generation, “Get good grades in school and you’ll get into a good college. Get good grades in college and you’ll get a good job. Get a good job and you’ll be happy.” The lesson was simple, good grades unlocked the Industrial Era’s playbook.

While this scenario worked well during the 1800’s and 1900’s, it fails to produce the desired results in today’s economic climate. In case you haven’t noticed, the internet has ushered in the Information Era where manufacturing jobs are done by the lowest bidder (usually an impoverished person from another country), and a person’s economic worth is largely based on their intellectual output.

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The traits, or “soft skills” (creativity, autonomy, teamwork, and project management) needed to navigate this new landscape often can’t be found in our archaic standardized school system. We see the evidence of this all around us, yet many parents only shrug because they feel helpless against the behemoth that is the American educational system.

While the problems and potential solutions to a nationwide educational system are above my paygrade, I know that parents can have an immediate impact on this situation by stressing learning over grades. Instilling a pliable mindset where lifelong learning is the goal, and not good grades at all costs, will help your child to be a high-functioning member of today’s economy, but also in an ever changing one.

Even though he doesn’t start formal school for two more years, the pressure for good grades has already started for my oldest child, and I take daily action to stop this negative mental encroachment. The last interaction I have with him before tucking him in at night, is asking him two questions. What did you do today that was the most fun? And, what was one thing you learned or one skill you improved?

The answers to the questions aren’t important, my repetition is. The nightly subliminal message that he receives before going to sleep is to focus on something fun, and that learning and improving are the true goals.

We live in a hyper competitive school district where the good grade rivalries started in my child’s preschool room for one year olds. Throughout preschool events, when parents talked to me about their child’s milestones, I would see the stress in their facial muscles. They were already convinced that their two year old (Da Da want wa-wa.) was doomed to a life of failure, while some other toddler (Daddy can I have some water?) is obviously destined to be the next CEO of JP Morgan Chase.

The first few times parents cornered me and asked about our parenting techniques caught me by complete surprise. My common retort of “You know he still poops in his pants? Right?” always seemed to leave their thirst for knowledge unquenched.

Whoever’s child eventually gets that dream job of the future, they’ll get there without any talk of their grades. Oh, there will be talks, many that they won’t enjoy. There will be lessons about responsibility, hard work, commitment, planning, executing, failing, marketing, finance, logistics, and how to be a good teammate, coworker, and manager, and thousands of other topics. But, no one will quiz them about their grades.

I find a deep sadness in the loss of a life over something as insignificant as grades. Put simply, at a certain point in one’s life, grades don’t matter—at all.

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How can I be so certain of this with only anecdotal evidence?

I’m in my early 40’s, and for the past two decades I’ve had millions of conversations with friends, family, employers, and colleagues on topics ranging from happiness to death. Further, with the advent of the internet, I’ve witnessed millions of social interactions by friends and complete strangers.  In that time, I’ve seen countless arguments, memes, political debates, pictures of Halloween costumes, and cat videos. But, I haven’t seen one post about someone’s grades (who wasn’t actively in school). Not one.

So, as parents, if we want to instill a new playbook that will help our children thrive and maximize their happiness, focus your message on learning, not grades.

The nation’s thoughts, prayers, and well wishes are with the family of Professor Klug, as are mine.

Watching “The ‘Burbs” in The Burbs is sooooo Meta

My wife and I have a standing agreement that if one of us enjoyed a movie from the 80’s, and the other spouse hasn’t seen it yet, we watch the movie together to share in the other person’s childhood memories, and to add to our own level of 80’s nostalgia.

Yesterday’s dinner conversation morphed from an actual volcano, to an episode of Miles from Tomorrowland about a volcano, to “Joe Versus the Volcano”, to another Tom Hanks film— “The ‘Burbs.”

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I was “The ‘Burbs” veteran, and she was the rookie, but I could barely remember the plot, which is the preferable way to go into a three decade old movie. I gave adequate warnings about the possibility of the film sucking, which is always a risk with media from the 80’s. So, once the kids were tucked in for the night, we hustled to our media room.

For those of you not familiar with the movie, Tom Hanks stars as the ringleader of a group of neighbors with too much time on their hands. These suburbanites take it upon themselves to investigate the “mysterious” neighbors who recently moved in to their cul-de-sac. The movie costars: Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, and Corey Feldman.

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Does this movie stand the test of time? That is the question I ask about any movie I revisit from the Reagan decade.

There were plenty of things to like about The ‘Burbs.

Even though the movie has a noir feel to it, the story telling was refreshingly simplistic, as are most movies from the 80’s. Apparently, screenwriter’s hadn’t yet got the message to “make every movie as convoluted as possible”.

The visual elements were authentically 80’s.

The hair was big. No surprise there. But, Corey Feldman’s hair was exceptionally glorious.

The limited amount of technology used by the characters was primitive, even by early 90’s standards.

The movie contained the required 80’s elements of a dream sequence and a music montage.

It’s easy to forget that Tom Hanks was/is a remarkable physical comedian. This movie was a decent vehicle for him to express that talent, and it was nice to see that aspect of his acting again.

While the movie had a few other positive moments, that was about it for the good elements. I didn’t know if my disappointment stemmed from already knowing the answer to the mystery or from the film’s overall quality. I asked “The ‘Burbs” rookie, and she was also disappointed.

Did “The ‘Burbs” stand the test of time?

It was a close call, but unfortunately, this movie is best left in the 80’s.