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Showing posts from July, 2015

Surprise birthday visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway

My original thought had been to take my son to a race. Maybe in Indianapolis, maybe locally here in Chicago. But the more I thought about it, the more uncertain I was. Having attended one of the early Brickyard 400 races myself as a kid, it struck me as a big first leap. It's loud. Very loud. One of the loudest experiences in my memory. For a child with sensory issues, that was problem #1 in my mind...even with ear protection. But I also remember it raining. Or it could be hot. And it's a lot of sitting. Which isn't to say that the thrill of watching the cars go around doesn't make up for it. The engine vibration live is not like anything you've seen on tv. No, instead we decided to make more of a historical pilgrimage instead to get the "race car" fun. We were not disappointed either. We left with the kids (and maybe dad a little bit, too) excited to see a live race sometime soon. 
Really, there were several surprises in one for this trip. The trip itsel…

A checklist of good farm practices

The recent news of Whole Foods getting some push back from organic farmers was food for thought, pardon the pun. You can Google it to read more, but the basic idea is this...organic farmers didn't like the idea that the grocery chain was evaluating farm practices on a holistic rubric that would mean some conventional farms with especially well-rounded conservation practices may be able to get a boost in sustainability ratings.

Personally, I understand both sides. Organic farmers put extra work, certification, and care into meeting standards and they'd like to see those recognized in the marketplace. But for those of us who chat in ag-geek circles, the point has already been well-discussed that far too often the "battle" over sustainability has come down to arguments between organic growers and conventional producers. Which is a false duality because there are conventional growers who have excellent farm ethics just as there are huge organic farms that are actually le…

What happened to Pete's Dragon?!

Confession: I was born in the 1970's.

So my rose-colored glasses for the era's entertainment are firmly in place. I have these beautiful, fun memories of things that, sadly, just don't hold up. Like almost anything from the 1970's or 1980's, a few decades of intervening time hasn't been kind. My children, for instance, cannot wrap their minds around The Smurfs. I'm really lucky, I suppose, that a few things have either made comebacks or had unique staying power.

Yesterday afternoon, when we got back from the splash park, we sat down and tried to watch the 1977 Disney film Pete's Dragon. Reality check, I probably didn't even catch this movie the first time around since I wasn't born yet. My guess is I'm remembering the (shortened) 1984 release. Well, really I'm mostly remembering the Read Along book and cassette tape followed probably by VHS. But that's neither here nor there. It's awful.

Ok, maybe not "awful." It was no…

Schaumburg Boomers baseball report

As I've written about before, I've been "off" baseball (and major spectator sports) for awhile. I'm only coming back slowly to be half-interested again. But we've been considering a family trip to a sporting event for some time. Even if we're still somewhat skeptical about the ability of the children to be well behaved.

This weekend, the Cubs and White Sox played each other so we wanted to avoid that rivalry madness in the city with a sold out crowd. Fortunately, a suburban minor league team was in town so we gave that a try yesterday afternoon. They play in a fairly convenient location just off the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway with free parking...note that there is ongoing construction on the interchange with I-290 (The Eisenhower) so use caution if you're coming from the east. The team plays in a fairly nice little stadium and holds frequent promotions, fireworks, and more. Despite turning in a lousy performance for us, the team has apparently been g…

Did you know there's a vet shortage?

I consider myself less a fan of farming, food, or even system reform per se. And more a proponent of thinking about interconnected issues. Everyone should care--assuming you eat. But that's a difficult point to get across sometimes because people fail to understand the big picture when it comes to water use and farm runoff, the importance of saving bees, etc.. People stand in the grocery and think a little bit about food system ethics and purchase based on a combination of factors. My guess, however, is that very few people are thinking through the entire chain from picker to animal to owner on down the line. That's what I really enjoy.

Yesterday I read an amazing article about the veterinary shortage though. It was interesting on several levels.

More than 1500 counties in the United States do not have a vet. That's 44 states with at least one area...in South Dakota alone there are more than 25,000 food animals without a vet. That's not just an economic and safety prob…

A helpful guide to flying the Confederate flag

Thinking about flying the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag or other flags of the Confederate States of America? Here's a handy checklist to decide!

1) Are you racist? No? Great! Unfortunately, many racists use imagery and symbols from the former Confederacy. If you're not racist, people will assume you are. Sorry, but it's tough to turn something into a positive after it's been used for evil. (Did you know the swastika was used in ancient Egypt, India, England, and others long before it appeared in Germany? Oh, you only knew about the Nazi version?)

2. You're not a racist, which is fantastic. Do you have lots of friends who aren't white? Have you asked them how they would feel about you using Confederate symbols?

3) Can you name the approximate number of slaves who were imported to the American colonies prior to the end of the Civil War? Can you name the approximate number of lynchings in the American South between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Era? …

The good guys usually win

When Netflix recently asked me to take a customer service survey about what suggested material I felt was too mature for my 5 year old son, I felt a little guilty clicking on many of the boxes. I'm sure they're data sampling and will adjust for outliers to a happy medium. And it's not that I'm in favor of censorship or ruling content is "inappropriate for children." In fact, my personal beliefs are very much the opposite. I think we dumb down childhood trying to artificially preserve perceived innocence. But this is something else. You see, my son is a scaredy cat.

Oh, he'll talk a big game of robots and loud, roaring rockets. My daughter, in contrast, loves a good fright. She always wants to keep going when he has long since asked to turn off a movie. It's always my son who will tap out first at something being too scary. But it's brought up some interesting conversations and philosophical issues lately.

I've gotten everything from pointed qu…

For hire

As I've written about previously, I keep one toe in the job market waters. It's not that the idea of going to work every day isn't appealing--it's that I need a specific job to go to that is appealing. It's a luxury of being the at-home parent who doesn't have to work. We have a breadwinner who gives us an option that, sadly, many families can't afford. Even many of the Stay At Home Dads I know have side gigs or part-time work for various reasons. Some are financial. Some are psychological. Too many families need both parents' income, however, and while we sometimes have to scrape by a little more than we would if I was in the workforce, the benefits of being around to raise the children outweigh this to us.

It really makes me a great test case. When you see the employment numbers about people dropping out of the job search, wages being stagnant, or job growth, my situation is probably not what the analysts have in mind. But, nevertheless, it's inst…