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Showing posts from October, 2014

Ebola fears & better American science education

Whenever my kids want to play doctor with their doctor kit, I find it's a useful time to talk about the human body since we Americans have not only an ignorance but sometimes-fear of it. We cover why we get vaccines. They know about blood tests and listening to hearts and looking in ears. My daughter loved her 3-year-old checkup the other day. Not that I think either one of them will become a doctor. Unlikely. But nothing wrong with improving basic scientific knowledge as a worst-case.

And, yes, my 3 and 4 year olds know that mommies have a special organ that allows them to carry babies inside them. That probably seems wildly inappropriate to someone out there...but it's not. Why do we allow ourselves (or our kids) to be so stupid about basic biology? It has political ramifications. But, mostly, I just cringe and wish that we had a better science education system whenever I see someone ranting online about the Ebola panic.

First, a little medical...Ebola is a nasty, deadly dis…

Bonkers for books

A roundup of what my 3-4 year olds are currently reading that is worth recommending...

It's Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf. Illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Written in memory of a beloved Holstein on a Minnesota dairy farm, this book is about a little girl helping her father with the daily chore of milking the family cows. The soft tones of the pictures and gentle poetry mostly catalog events inside the barn in detail...down to manure and washing and putting down fresh straw bales. An important lesson about hard work, where food comes from, and the animal-human bond.

Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band by Kwame Alexander. Illustrations by Tim Bowers
This book delights me in ways my children cannot yet understand. If your kids are older, they can get even more out of this music-centered book with plenty of historical nods. The rooster wants to start a jazz band and knows some famous jazz legends like Mules Davis, Duck Ellington, and Thelonious Monkey. Who will win t…

Columbus Marathon race report

These last few days have flown by and it feels like I somehow lost a week. We picked my son up from school on Thursday afternoon and drove the 7 hours to Ohio arriving after dark. Then yesterday we drove home most of the day. So that kills 2 days right there.

On Friday, we drove downtown to the convention center to pick up my packet at the expo. Ran into a high school classmate towards the very end and chatted briefly...though we'd see him again at dinner. Your pretty typical expo. The balcony around the main ballroom is for race bib, t-shirt, goodie bag, etc.. The main floor below is the booths with the shoes, foam rollers, race ads, the like. I found the workers at the information booth unhelpful about where to be dropped off on race morning. Nothing really in the packet either...plenty of parking instructions, but no single/convenient point. That would be helpful.

The theme for the event, really, is that Columbus occupies a strange place in the middle...it's either a very s…

Babywearing dads, birthday, Race Week

Thought I'd get in a quick blog post in the middle of the chaos. It's been a busy few days of babywearing, birthday, and we're now in Race Week. So I'm guessing the next thing you see will be a marathon race report when I arrive home after travel.

Last Thursday was our outing for Chicago Dads Group for International Babywearing Week where we met up on Michigan Ave in downtown Chicago and walked from the Tribune building to the Water Tower with our kids strapped to us. Definitely got some surprised comments from the people out during lunch. Lots of "Superdads" and "awwww." Once we got to our destination we took the elevator up to the new Chicago Sports Museum...which is part memorabilia and part interactive gaming. It's all very sleekly done and attached to a Harry Caray's on the 7th floor of Water Tower Place. Game-worn jerseys, championship rings, practice with hockey, baseball, football skills, etc.. The kids loved the museum even if it wa…

Mites, fall feeding, and my first beekeeping sting

We met unofficially once more at the bee yard before our class yesterday. The topic for the evening would eventually be bee health and diseases. (Predators, pests, foul brood, etc.) So the pre-class demonstration and hands-on would be giving the bees a little outside food and doing some mite control.

In IL we're currently not in a honey flow since there are few flowers out. So this is one of the (several) times a year when the bees could use a little help with feeding. Especially with winter coming up, you want nice, healthy, fat bees for the colder weather. The better they make it through winter...and the more you feed them early spring...the more ready they will be to go find early blossoms and start making you that precious honey.

Feeding bees can be done several ways. The queenless hive from last week finally has a queen and is thriving. But it has nowhere near the honey supply built up to last through winter. Which means the beekeeper will be doing a lot of feeding. There are…

Who is Muslim? Who is Christian?

As someone who has studied religion in an academic setting, I couldn't care less about Bill Maher and Ben Affleck dueling over Islamophobia on late night tv. If you follow religion news at all, it'd be hard for you to escape that still-bubbling controversy though. I'm not a huge fan of either one so I don't know that I'd go to them for intellectual analysis of religious matters. But I have been taking an interest in the rise of a more...academic?...I hesitate to use that word...discussion about religious matters lately. Across the spectrum, too.

Let's put it this way, as I wrote earlier in my 9/11 anniversary post, the atmosphere regarding Islam has definitely changed over the years. And, to some extent, even conversations about Christianity have changed with the rise of the internet, social media, and multiple faith-specific content providers. I'd argue that the conversation is now more robust about religion in the US with more voices. I'm not sure if …

Enough with the screen time worrying!

Every time a new article on kids and screen time comes out, I'm hunting through it for the typical signs of bias against technology we've come to expect from modern parenting culture. It feels like not a day goes by when somebody isn't complaining about kids and computer/cellphone/tablet/tv/gaming use. Either the kids are too young or it's too much or they don't spend enough time building tree forts anymore, the like. Remember back in the day when everybody thought violent video games were ruining our kids? Or rap lyrics? We all lived through that and, thankfully, hardly anybody thinks a first-person shooter is going to turn your son or daughter into a killer anymore. If anything, gaming culture got bigger and more diverse despite the ratings and ban on underage sales, etc.. Rap music is now celebrated as classic music we'd like to pass on to our children as respecting multiple genres and tastes.

Please, if you want to keep your kids from owning technology or g…

Has it really been 3 years?

I woke up yesterday morning to see the coverage of the Twin Cities Marathon on my social media feeds and couldn't believe it had been 3 years since I ran it. It wasn't a PR, was a cold-then-hot miserable day, and oh that uphill to the finish line in St. Paul! But it still sticks in my head as one of my favorite races for a variety of reasons. Happy memories of being at the start line with a very pregnant Mama and her custom-made race shirt. Using the Metrodome bathrooms and trying to stay warm. The beautiful run through downtown, the various parks, across the Mississippi River, and seeing the giant American flag hung across the last few meters near the state capitol. (And walking uphill to where the car was parked!)

A week later, I'd be up at an ungodly hour to volunteer at the Chicago Marathon start line. After my shift was over, I walked up Michigan Ave. to one of the final course markers and watched the elites. Then I hopped on the L home and we casually decided to go f…

How NOT to ask a blogger to do something...

I won't name names because I'm not that kind of guy. But one of my biggest pet peeves in my inbox these days is people--usually someone from a business--who write me and would like my help with something they're doing. Then they fail to grasp that it would need to be a partnership. Two way street. They love my blog and we may even have intersecting interests...so, "hey could you write something up for us and maybe we'll use it on social media." Umm, ok. What's in it for me? 
Anybody who comes to my blog from the triathlon or running community knows that the first rule of getting sponsored is to not ask "hey could you give me some money or free stuff?" Not without offering something in return. Sponsorship...and I'm proud to say I am partly sponsored with discounts to several companies I love...is about mutually beneficial relationships where you only get the discounts and freebies if you provide them a good payoff in return. Good word of mout…

Get Out and Get Fit

It's a rainy, stormy, floody day here in Chicago. And it looks like we may get some showers and about 40 degrees tomorrow morning, too. Will have to break out the running gloves for our Chicago Dads Group event!

The makers of BOB jogging strollers (Britax) have set up a win-win-win situation that I can't say enough how much I support. They've provided about a dozen members of our group a free BOB Revolution stroller in exchange for coming out to a family fun run on a crisp fall Saturday morning. Now this is the kind of marketing campaign I can get behind.

A company paying attention to dads and encouraging dads to spend time with their kids. Families getting a chance to engage with a product that, let's be honest here, is out of the price range for many because jogging strollers are not cheap. And--most importantly--encouraging fathers to get active. And it's that last one that I hope I partly encourage by posting the adventures of a back-of-the-pack runner and tria…

Queenless

When I arrived at the bee yard before class yesterday, our instructor was in the middle of searching the frames for a queen we would never actually find. Though we would see evidence she was there. Young, eggs, the hive was fairly healthy, he was confident we were simply missing her.

The other hive would be different. We got to see something he hadn't seen in 40 years of beekeeping. It was a swarm he'd captured about 3 weeks ago and he saw the queen...he put her in. But when we opened the top if the hive, we found numerous, large queen cells including one queen who had already hatched. But no queen? This hive was currently queenless and making new queens like maniacs. Late into the fall!

It is a mystery what will happen. He mentioned "swarm again" in the back of his mind...but it's too late in the year for a new hive to make enough honey to survive the winter. So he's really hoping he ends up with a healthy, functioning beehive with a new queen in a few days.