Changing Everything

Missed me?

Sorry about that.


I usually like to take a week off from writing at the beginning of summer vacation, just to feel like a kid again. That . . . and now that I have a nine-year-old hounding my every move, I have to reconsider my life choices.

Actually, the only real change is that I have to book computer time with his publicist, and the 1:00pm naps are now out of the question.

So that's my usual M.O.

(Which stand for Modus Operandi)

(Which translates into Way of Doing Things)

But this June has been remarkably different. 

See . . . tomorrow afternoon I will be signing a publishing contract for my first novel.

That was a really fun sentence to write.

I'm gonna write it again.

Tomorrow afternoon I will be signing a BOOK CONTRACT!

Let that sink in. Let the joy bubble up. Take a breath. Now consider the possibilities.

So far, the best response, was from my step-son who immediately asked if we were gonna be rich. The answer to the question is a certifiable "No" but only because he was referring to financial richness and not something more esoteric like emotional or life-richness.

If peace/love, friends/family, passion/purpose, were monotizable, I'd already be a member of the 1%.

I'd probably be the 1% of the 1%.

So a book contract is cool, but it's sauteed mushrooms on the filet minion of life.

It does however . . .  change everything.

And by "Everything" I really just mean "Me"

See, up until I got the notice, I had a very different idea of what the next year was going to look like. I had plans within plans, projects to finish, projects to start, projects to do away with.

In fact . . . this blog . . . which I've been writing for three years now . . . was (sadly to say) going to go bye-bye.

I wasn't going to stop my daily writing, but I was planning on focusing it in a different direction and have it serve a different purpose. Still funny and irreverent, but less "Wait . . . Dad?" focused and more pop-culture focused and I was planning on finishing it with my second novel, a father-son adventure, and then see what other parts of the world are ready for my exploration.

I finished that novel, by the way.

It's good.

Or . . . at least my wife read it in two days . . . and is happy with it.

Which . . . let's be honest . . . is the highest praise I'll probably ever need.

So I was planning on heading into the unknown and spent the month of May gearing up in one direction, and now, ooops, hooray . . . I'm heading in a different one all together.

The beauty of it all is that I'll have an entire marketing department peddling my product . . . the sad thing is is that I will not be able to write so many marketing jokes.

That was a deep well to mine.

And now, since there will be people reading my work who I haven't met, I have to reconstruct my voice so that it remains as edgy as ever, but you know, doesn't give away my location or where my children go to school.

Ha ha. You thought I was going to have to be nicer.

Not a chance.

So "Wait . . . Dad?" will indeed be dying out, but will be replaced with something identical that doesn't give you a description of what my son looks like.

Safety first.

And of course your next question will be "When can I go to Barnes and Noble and buy a copy?"

The straight skinny on that . . . I have no idea.

Here's what I do know. Starting this week I will be talking shop with a real life editor, who a few weeks from now will send me a copy of my book that is covered in red ink and filled with comments like "You can't end a sentence a preposition!", "You've spelled this character's name three different ways!" and "I hope you're kidding about this chapter." and "Please tell me you're not trying to invent new ways to use the F-Word."

Which will lower my spirits, but not my resolve.

I also have to have a cover design. Which I will try myself (because I'm infuriating) then I will try to go on the cheap and find a highschool kid with at least a little experience with Photoshop, and then I'll have to suck it up and pay a professional for something that's nice, but that I won't be entirely satisfied with.

On or before September 20th, 2015, I will be contractually obligated to deliver the final proof.

Then, my publisher has up to 18 months in which to publish the book, or cancel the contract.

So at the latest, you can get your own copy in the spring of 2017, right about the same time as Bernie Sanders is giving his innaugural address.

It's gonna be a long 2016.

Headspace Frugality

So my wife was talking to me this morning, which is almost always a bad idea.

I was scraping egg crust from the a cast iron pan and my eyes were open which is just about all I can handle at one time, so I was aware of her speaking, but I was only vaguely aware that she was speaking to me, and there was something going on about clothes. The subject of fashion is a leading indicator that no matter the importance, my personal involvement is going to be near absolute zero.

But her tone adjusted slightly . . . pivoted really . . . to the "I need your input/attention/bigstrongarmstoopenthepicklejar" kind of tone, and I had to immediately recalibrate my focus so as to try and figure out a way not to make her start from the beginning.

". . . your good shorts." she said.

"I um what?" I said back.

"You can wear your good shorts to the party on Sunday."

"Oh, yeah, of course . . . wait . . . what good shorts? I . . . really . . . honestly . . . have no idea that I had those . . . and if I do . . . I have no idea which ones they are."

She . . . because she is magic and impossibly forgiving . . . didn't miss a beat . . . went into the closet and pulled out my good shorts to show me.

She wasn't disappointed in me at all, for it was 7:36am and we were talking about clothes. She just wanted to make sure that I don't wear those particular shorts between now and Sunday.

She knows my strengths and weaknesses and is for some reason okay with them.

We sat down to a nice breakfast of coffee and frittatas while the nine year old made a valiant attempt to spoon three bites of cream of wheat into his mouth.

The 'cream of wheat' thing came upon us suddenly a few weeks ago. For some reason he was really desperate to try it because the kid down the street says it's great (another reason why children shouldn't have friends), and despite my remarks to the contrary (for I loathe the tasteless paste) I gave in and got him a box.

The experiment was what I call a "A Two-Thirds Success"

See . . . for some reason . . . he is absolutely keen on trying things. He's pretty much game for anything and his ratio of things that he likes to things that he doesn't, is actually so high I don't even measure it any longer.

He won't eat stuff with onions.

That's about it.

The second measure of success is whether he'll ask for it again. And that has about a fifty fifty ratio.

For instance, he won't eat fried eggs, but he will gobble down scrambled eggs.

That's not that weird.

But he didn't eat any of the eggs I made him yesterday, so when he asked for scrambled eggs this morning, I told him no and that he can have pancakes and then he asked if he could have cream of wheat instead.

But he wanted to limit the quantity.

Quantity is the final measure of success. Any quantity of 200 or more calories is the goal. Any less and I might as well be feeding a squirrel.

He got close with the hot cereal this morning. Which is a valiant effort as far as I'm concerned, but it was weird watching someone nibble small spoonfuls of the gelatinous goo.

My childhood mornings were spent trying to gobble it so quickly that it never touched my tongue.

Different Strokes.

Anyway, I stopped watching him eat because it was grossing me out, and the subject turned back to to clothing and something something something about a blouse.

The tone pivoted again.

"You know . . . that really nice button up blouse I've got."

"Oh . . . right . . . yeah . . . no . . . no . . . I still have no idea what you're talking about."

"The mint green blouse!"

That one popped my awareness. I actually do know that blouse, because, and this is really funny, because I only know two things about fashion:


And what my wife looks really sexy in.

That sounds so guy-ish, but it's really all I got the headspace for. And I, unfortunately, do not do a very good impression of a gay best friend.

I am, in absolutely no way, interested or excited about new clothes.

I am also very specific about what I think looks good. Form fitting (to show it off), tapered waist (to elongate the torso), spring colors (to brighten everyone's day).

If I'm being asked on my opinion about anything that doesn't meet those three requirements, I have only one question:

Is it comfortable?

Cause if it is, then screw everything else.

I haven't wavered in fifteen years.

Not a jot.

Yet every season the racks are just filled with drab, lazy earth tones, and blouses that flair out from just under the boob line like mini waist high moo-moos.

It's like every girl in the world wants to feel tall and thin, and yet clothes are still designed to make them look short and dumpy.

But not the mint green one that she was asking about. That one's totally sexy.

Which is why it caught my attention, and eventually leads us to the point of this story.

See, there's only a limited amount of brain you have and it unfortunately gets even more limited as you go along. Hopefully, each day you get to add a little more to your repertoire without breaking the bank. So to speak.

Today I learned that it is possible to concentrate on more than just scraping egg crust off a cast iron pan while keeping my eyes open. I learned the exact amount of cream of wheat my son is going to eat and to make sure to include a few slices of bacon or fruit next time. I learned which of my shorts are the good shorts and I learned that my wife is going to be home late because she needs to find a pair of capris pants to go with her sexy mint green blouse. I also learned, after a quick Google search, that the flared blouses that make girls look short and dumpy are called Peasant Blouses and variations.

I did not learn if she needed the capris for dinner with friends on Friday, or for the family gathering on Sunday. I did not learn which shirt I'm supposed to wear with my good shorts. I did not learn why girls buy pleasant blouses.

Cause there's only so much room up there.

And there's always tomorrow.

HTT: How To Solar

During my traditional breakfast with the BBC, two eggs, a cup of coffee, my iPad, and my thumb, I came across this headline:

"Moon shot" call for clean energy"

My first thought was: What exactly is a Moon Shot? followed by my second thought which was: OMG someone's gonna try and put solar cells on the moon.

I hadn't read the article yet and my mind was already racing to understand why some one would want to put solar cells on the moon. Especially when the state of Nevada is so much closer.

Reading further . . . as one should do when posed with such a question . . . I got a better gist of what was being said. Apparently, a group of scientists and deep thinkers out in EuropeLand have decided that the best way to promote and profligate renewable energy his to have a dramatic world-wide call for solar and wind power, similar to John F. Kennedy's call to "put a man on the moon"

As far as I know, no European has reached the Sea of Tranquility, and I'm pretty sure that's an exclusive claim for those who bleed read white and blue. If fact . . . we don't even have that technology anymore. The blue-prints for the Saturn rockets were destroyed when NASA was cleaning out it's garage to make room for the Space Shuttle Program.

No lie.

Anyway, the "Moon Shot" call has it's own name: Global Apollo.

Apollo, for those of you who don't know, is the Greek God of Art and Knowledge and well . . . Plague.

In fact, in order to more successfully incorporate the hedonistic hordes, the Christian Church adopted images of Apollo (The sun of Zeus) and rechristened them as images of Jesus (The son of God).

This is why you've grown up thinking Jesus was a blond haired, blue eyed, white man.

No lie.

Now . . . for those of you who know me as a person . . . you will not be shocked to find out that I am a starch proponent of Solar Energy. I love the stuff.  Can't get enough of it. Every time I see a solar array (even the ugly ones) I get filled with personal glee.

If Greenpeace was standing outside of my Trader Joes trying to get me to sign a petition to promote Solar Energy, not only would I stop and talk, but I might even buy those poor starving kids some pre-packed sushi and toss in some extra packets of wasabi.

Unfortunately for Greenpeace . . . pandas are neither tasty . . . nor can they run my air conditioner in July.

My solar panels can do that.

And it's flat out amaze balls.

The 100 square feet of photovoltaic cells nestled cleanly among my concrete roof tiles give me virtually 3/4's of my energy for free.


No lie.

I will also readily admit that I lucked out. When purchasing a home my wife and I won a lottery for new homes in a solar development. So I never really had to put my money where my mouth is.

The cost of adding a solar array to an existing home is in the neighborhood of $20,000. (Not including all the cool tax ride offs) and even though it would cut a homeowner's energy bill by a sizable portion, it won't quite pay for itself for about ten years.

However . . . the cost of incorporating the exact same array in a newly built structure (home/office/Nordstrom Rack) is less than $5,000.

How can that be?

Well, at that point, all you're paying for is the price of the components (the cells and the converter) and you can even subtract the cost of the roofing tiles that the cells are replacing. Nifty Huh?

Now . . . when you add that $5,000 to the residential or commercial mortgage, plus the tax ride-off . . . you're basically printing money on day one.

Day One.

So if you follow the math . . . and if you can't, go back and read again . . . to update the existing infrastructure is more than four times the cost of building it from the start. But to build new, virtually free, if not cost cutting.

And . . . what is the only thing that holds back innovation?


Reading the "Moon Shot" article it was clear that the group was concerned about cost. How do we reduce the cost of renewable energy to compete with oil and coal?

The answer will not be found at the G8 summit, like they're hoping.

C'mon, Europeans, you're smarter than that.

There are too main problems with the component cost of solar energy. There isn't enough demand, so they are not being mass produced in a way that would lower costs, and two, there's too much cloud cover in London for customers to get the benefit that I do out here in sunny sunny California.

If you can get high demand, supply will catch up, which will reduce cost, and with reduced cost, even greater demand.

But how do you get that initial high demand?

It's simple . . . but you have to swallow some of your fear of big government and heavy handed regulation.

Basically . . . we need to create legislation that requires solar panels for all new buildings out here in the sunny wild west.

You get the state legislatures of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, and yes . . . even Texas, to adopt a solar policy, you will have just created a market for 1.5 million customers per year.

(Not to mention the job creation for a growing industry, which will in turn create higher demand for single family housing . . . etc, etc.)

Again, the Libertarian in me cringes at the thought, so I feel you. But we already regulate the hell out of building permits and inspections, the cost to the consumer will be negative (they'll literally be saving money on day one, remember) and the only really big group that will suffer are the executives of PG&E.

Unless they catch wind of the whole scheme and use their resources to become a leader in manufacturing the solar equipment.

Someone might want to send them a letter.

There is literally not a single loser in the whole ecosystem.

Except maybe the pandas.

Sorry pandas.

You shoulda been tastier.

Silver Bullets

So I just read an article in a weight lifting magazine that says if you plan to add carbohydrates to your diet, you're much better off with white rice than brown rice.


White rice good . . . brown rice bad.

I mean . . . I always knew that from an emotional standpoint but it was nice to see it laid out scientifically.

Now I warn you, never believe 97% of the things you read on the internet, but the guy made a good point. (Of course it was a guy)

See, nutritionists have been touting brown rice both for it's fiber and for it's vegetable protein, not to mention that it must be better for you because it is unprocessed. Which . . . like . . . duh . . . fiber/protein/virginal . . . of course it must be better.

But wait . . . there's less.

Cause if you want fiber, it's much better to get it from dark leafy cruciferous stuff like broccoli spinach and kale. And if you want protein it's much better to get it from animal, unless you're not into that sort of thing, then it's much better to get it from beans which have much higher quantities and are more easily absorbed. As for processing, it's not like brown rice goes through the same process to become white rice, as a potato goes through to become a Pringle. The shell just gets squeezed off. Big whoop.

The biggest difference (the only measurable difference) is that your body doesn't digest the brown rice very well.

In conclusion, white rice is better.

In the Post Script, it's only better if you are needing to add calories to your diet because you're an athlete or a body builder. The rest of us are stuck with kale.

But seriously . . . how hard is it to get real information? Is it even remotely possible to get experts to agree on anything other than the blazingly obvious?

I kid you not, I just read an article the contradicted itself in less than three paragraphs.

The article was on the pancreas and thyroid and how they determine metabolic rate.  Basically the article made a big stink between the two different types of metabolisms, Anabolism (to build and store), and Catabolism (to burn, baby, burn), and then proceeded to put them back together.


Right now, you're probably asking yourself, what the hell is this guy talking about?

Why am I reading this?

And the answer is where I get down to my point.

The point is is that when you get right down to it . . . there are no silver bullets.

Nothing really works.

(On and emotional/physical/work/life balance sorta way . . . my toaster oven works just fine.)

Even the metaphor of the silver bullet is ambiguous. I mean are we talking about killing werewolves or are we talking about the coolness of The Lone Ranger?

Probably the werewolves. But why them? Why not vampires and stinky garlic? Hell . . . why not Theseus and the Minotaur? Life is so much more like a labyrinth than Tonto's wild west.

Anyway . . .

The reason I was reading these articles in the first place is that I wanted to do two simple things this summer.

I wanna knock down that tire I got going around my middle, and I wanna put some meat on my son's bones.

Neither of those should be really difficult. The Blazingly Obvious Experts all agree that it's a simple question of calorie intake.

Less for me.

More for him.

Okay? Isn't that the way to go?

Sure . . . but you also have to remember that a bowl of strawberries isn't the same as a bowl of chocolate cake.

Okay . . . so now we're typecasting calories and you really shouldn't be eating cake in a bowl. But so far so good.

Okay except that your metabolic response to calories might differ.

I eat the strawberries and my body says "Mmmm Good. Let's pump some insulin and see if we can't figure out a way to save that glucose for later." Anabolism.

My son eats the strawberries and it's like pouring gasoline on a grease fire. You could put your hand on his chest after a wholesome meal and be concerned that he literally just swallowed Ginger Baker with a full drum kit and a three pound bag of uncut cocaine. Catabolic.

So . . . conceptually . . . I need to increase my catabolic rate, decrease my anabolic rate, and figure out how to do the exact opposite to my nine year old.

Only, the best way to increase the catabolic rate is to develop muscle mass and the best way to do that is to increase the anabolic rate to help build those muscles.

It gets worse and I'm gonna stop there, because we just hit the point where no one agrees, and we've only just tapped the nipple of the boob of the endocrine system. We haven't even got to the digestive or GOD FORBID, the nervous system.

The minotaur is easy.

It's the labyrinth that's gonna kill you.

I can see why it's perfectly logical to give up.

Let it all just play out with as little interference as possible. Eat, sleep, hustle for money and sex if such things are important to you, binge watch The Wire on HBOGo if they're not.

I'm on Episode 8.

But I'm not happy about it.

But I am shaved, and showered, and spent all morning researching and writing, in a few minutes I'm gonna go for a walk, and after that I'm gonna make myself a salad. In the afternoon I will write rehearse and then cook up a meal that will consist of chicken, broccoli, and kidney beans.

I'm still not convinced about the white rice.

But it's there if I change my mind.