Thursday, December 29, 2005

Thank You Notes? Thanks for nuthin'!

I came across this article today about the nearly extinct art of gratitude, and sadly, this couldn't even come closer to my side of the family. Be it Christmas, Wedding, Birthday, Baby Shower or whatever gifts, once you give or send it you pretty much don't get any acknowledgment in return. Maybe at some family get-together a year later I may ask "hey, how'd you like that bottle-opener cowboy belt-buckle.... did you even get it?" with an answer like "yeah, in fact I'm wearing it now-let me crack open a beer for ya'!". That's about all I can expect from them. They're not bad people either and it's not like they were all raised in a barn or Canada. They just don't get around to it. I really wonder sometimes what they think when they get our Thank-you's? Like maybe "those crazy folk do strange stuff, with there 'fancy' indoor plumbing and all".
  • USA Today: Whatever happened to thank- you notes?
  • Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    What to do with Toys the kids don't want?

    Christmas is over and the kids just replaced thier Lego's with an iPod. So what do you do with the toys they don't play with? In the past my wife and I have always held a garage sale with some friends or just donated unwanted stuff to the Salvation Army. Another option is to swap them with kids online. Toyswap charges a $1 transaction fee to exchange with somebody -which isn't too bad. It's a novel idea, sort of an Ebay for kids. I still prefer Craigslist or a simple garage sale, but I like having the option.
  • Toyswap
  • Saturday, December 24, 2005

    The "Art" of the Christmas card

    My wife and I started sending out Christmas cards with letters the first year we were married because 1) her relatives live everywhere, we rarely see them and they do the same 2) we have no idea what we did all year until we write the letter, 3) we can make really weird, sometimes, creative 'photoshopped' pictures for the card. And like the true artist that I am, I always wait until the week before Christmas creating the family portrait for the card. In the past it always seemed like too much of an effort especially when we have a million other things going on. But this year was our baby's first Christmas and it dawned on us while reading letter from years past how much our daughter would enjoy these when she gets older. It also helps me see how crazy we really are.
  • LA TImes: Card tricks for Christmas
  • Thursday, December 22, 2005

    Argh, avast ye baby pirate! Onesie that is.

    We get some pretty cool baby gifts from our creative friends. And 2 of them are lucky enough to live near San Francisco’s only independent pirate supply store selling things pirates need most, like lard, flags, eye patches, pirate perfume (for those seductress wenches), mops, and of course glass eyes. The really cool thing about these pirate sellers is that they're actually part of a tutoring center helping kids out with writing skills. And maybe some pirate training like swabbing the deck.
  • 826 Valencia "Pirate Supply" Store
  • Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    'Educational' baby videos - a scam?

    What do you mean? My 5-month-old can't read at 7 months like the package suggests! Or learn to play the Mozart in the womb?! My wife and I roll our eyes when we see this higher learning videos and merchandise aimed at infants. And these producers are making bank from gullible people -$100 million in annual sales, according to Business Week. Our infant is learning probably the same way the real Einstein learned. By just watching, observing, and grabbing whatever. Be it a cell phone, remote control, wrapper, book, pan, plate, crack pipe (that's a joke), whatever. In fact, even every infant toy we've given her isn't interesting unless we're somehow using it. If you really want your infant to be learning, walk around; give tours of the house/neighborhood and talk to her. Don't sit her in front of a TV watching a video. That's for when they become teenagers (that's another joke. I hope).
  • Chicago Tribune: Are 'educational' baby videos a scam?
  • Monday, December 19, 2005

    Naming Babies After Cars?

    So my wife and I are out doing some Christmas shopping and I hear a woman calling for her toddler "Jetta". Yes, like the Volkswagan. A few days ago engaged in some water cooler talk at work, some co-worker was talking about her niece "Lexus". Just to be sure, I had asked "like the car?" she said yes. I had to look this up and find out if this is common thing. It's not like the old days when people name their kids after relatives, Fruit, Disney Characters and Celebrities. Have people just run out of names, or are they just plain crazy. Imagine growing up with the same name as a car? Especially a girl, when she gets older - some guy saying something like “Check out the trunk/headlights/caboose, etc...". Seriously, did these parents forget what growing up was like? I'm saving your kid from a lifetime of therapy here. If you want to be different, try Sacajawea instead.
  • AJC:Brand babies
  • BBC: US babies get global brand names
  • Simple to Remember: Look Nivea, it's your new little sister, Porsche
  • Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood: Bye Christopher Robin, Hello 6 year old girl.

    Things are "a changin'" in Pooh's world next year with the arrival of a tomboy 6-year-old girl. That's funny when I was a kid; I thought the Robin character was already tomboyish 6-year-old girl until I got older. But to those purist who think Christopher was just voted out of the woods, Nancy Kanter of Disney Channel says "Christopher Robin is still out there in the woods, playing,” I guess he's inside playing Playstation 2 like most boys these days.
  • E! Online: Disney's Pooh Redo
  • Disney's Pooh
  • Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Red Rider Leg Lamp as seen on A Christmas Story

    I remember seeing the movie "A Christmas Story" and thinking how cool it would be to have that lamp proudly displayed in the front room window this time of year. It kind of became an obsession of my roommate and I during college trying to find one, which was nearly impossible before the Internet came along. These days, you can buy nearly anything on the internet-even real pet monkeys! I love the Internet.
  • Red Rider Leg Lamp
  • Pet Monkeys for Sale
  • Saturday, December 10, 2005

    How to be a "GoodFather"

    In the beginning, becoming a new Dad is like waking up in North Korea. Its pretty scary, unknown and all the stories you hear about it make it even worse. If you're like most guys, you really don't know much of anything "baby", probably have never changed a diaper, burped one, or maybe have never even held one. And most "dad" books don't offer much help either. In fact, they just plain suck. Boring books like "The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year", or the ones that try to be funny (and short) without good information like "The New Dad's Survival Guide: Man-to-Man Advice for First-Time Fathers", or books that just poke fun at new dad's like your a tourist (My Boys Can Swim!: The Official Guy's Guide to Pregnancy ). They were all bad! Now comes Dr. Moz's "The GoodFather", a parody of the mafia movies, but in a CD-ROM format with interactive baby lessons and definitions plus a baby card maker (Although, I'm not sure what that's all about). I give Dr. Moz credit for taking a different approach.
  • The GoodFather:CD-Rom
  • Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Build a Snowman, then paint it

    When I was a kid we use to paint snow a different way and snowmen always ended up yellow. Not anymore, these days, you can buy a dignified "snowman paint" spray bottle kit with food coloring to do it. Or you can just continue using nature's way. Maybe challenge yourself while you’re at it, drink lots of water and try spelling your name.
  • Plum Party: snowman paint
  • Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    "Thousands" of Babies having strokes!?!

    As if there isn't enough parents like me have to worry about (flat heads, SIDS, table corners, Hand Foot & Mouth disease, Limited Too!) now they throw in the possibility that my infant daughter could have a stroke at any time. AP came out with a story today called "Thousands of Babies Have Strokes Annually" which of course got picked up on just about every news outlet, and I'm sure it’ll even make the local news tonight. You know with one of those "Tagline" 2 second attention-getter teasers before LOST saying something like "your baby have a stroke..? Experts say YES. Watch tonight at 11 or it could happen to your baby TONIGHT and it'll be all your fault!” OK, so I read the article and it estimates between 1,000 infants, and maybe 3-5,000 1-month to 18 years olds (which is quite a spread). So I did what everybody should do, looked it up to see how accurate this is. So how many babies are born and what are the chances of this happening? A very conservative estimate I found was a ".1%" chance out of 3,915,000 babies alone. The percentage is much smaller for 1-month to 18 year olds ".007%". But that doesn't sound nearly as dramatic.
  • ABC News: Thousands of Babies Have Strokes Annually
  • FactMonster
  • Field Tested Learning Assessment Guide
  • Sunday, December 04, 2005

    Yes, coming soon - Teen Repellent!

    Grumpy old folks complaining about kids hanging out around the lawn rejoice! This handy machine called "the Mosquito" apparently emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. I see something big in the works here. While at the mall yesterday Christmas shopping, to much valuable walking space was taken by weird teenagers just standing around, hanging out talking smack. What better way to clear the path than to take out your handy Teen Repellent? It’s like a new kind of superhero.
  • CNET: What's the buzz? Teens can't stand it
  • Thursday, December 01, 2005

    A "toy" DVD projector for $300

    Kids really have some cool toys coming out these days and Zoombox is one of them. This projector projects a 5 foot image (from the cable box or video game system, onto walls and ceilings up to 8 feet away and even has speakers. Perfect for a kids bedroom home entertainment setup....or a Dad's very cool gadget.
  • Hasbro ZOOMBOX DVD Entertainment Projector