Parenting for the upcoming zombie wars

As my daughter approaches her teen years, my level of stress and worry increases: drugs, alcohol, guns, driving, high school drama, school shootings, men and boys that may want to hurt her, ineffective antibiotics, the bird flu, and who knows what else my mind can conjure up.

Wait, I do know: the end of the world and the complete breakdown of society as we know it.

I've been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood -

I’ve been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood –

There I said it. Throw me in an underground holding tank with a deck of Uno cards and the rest of the doomsday nuts.

However, before you do, I wonder if I and others haven’t been approaching parenting the wrong way. I mean we’re the protective generation of parents, aren’t we? We do everything we can to keep our children safe, which is a good thing. But I  wonder if we should have been looking at the “big picture” instead of worrying about our kids falling off a swing at the park, or riding a skateboard without knee pads.

Like doing more to make sure they inherit a habitable Earth.

I know other generations of parents have worried about their children and the future. However, are we the first parents to ever have the concern of our planet being so screwed up it won’t be able to sustain life?

And, as life heads to a possible end with food and water shortages, overpopulation, a larger percentage of poor, rising sea levels and global warming, what will those last years of life on the planet be like?

Yes, I worry too much. I know. I just wonder while the majority of us are working our asses off, and paying bills, and putting food on the table, and figuring out how to pay medical bills, and stressing about our jobs, who is keeping the planet safe from harm?

Was that up to us too?

I think it was.

Treadmill Desk: 3-month Update

Three months down, a lifetime to go. Here are my observations:

My fingernails and toenails grow faster. I know that sounds odd, like I’m Howard Hughes holed up in Mexico watching Ice Station Zebra, but I swear I cut them more often, especially my fingernails.

I can put my pants on without falling over. That makes me sound like a drunk or something, but I have incredible stability now. It doesn’t mean I can stand in front a of moving train and stop it, but I can give flamingos a run for their money.

I’ve tripled my weekly distance. I went back and looked at my first blog posts. I started with weekly mileage in the 20s. Not I’m walking between 55 and 70 miles a week. My daily record is 16 miles.

I walk faster. My minimum speed now is 1.3 MPH, but I can type at up to 2.7 MPH, though the more concentration I need, the slower I go.

The detritus of cystic fibrosis pollutes any desk.

The detritus of cystic fibrosis pollutes any desk.

My conditioning has improved. At a work dinner this week in Manhattan Beach, I dreaded walking up the hills to the van after a dinner of raw clams, scallops, french fries, and three scoops of ice cream, including a maple-bacon flavor that made cry it was so good. Surprise, I made it and didn’t feel completely winded. And, I kept talking while I walked. Miracle.

My work pants fit better. I’ve lost about five pounds, and most of it seems to be from around my waist. I still eat too many Mini M&M’s.

Treadmill desks get just as messy as regular desks. I need to move my Denver Broncos trash can closer.

Last thought: I wish I’d started walking while working years ago. I’d be in much better shape today.

The video on stress that helped me a great deal

Based on the number of stress-caused visits I’ve made to the emergency room in my lifetime, I’m the last person to give advice on dealing with stress.

To the rescue:

I share this video in the interest of helping others deal with something I’ve done a really lousy job of overcoming. And, thanks to the the content of this video, I think about stress in a different way now.

Who knew it was so simple?

The Fab ad that made me shake my head and complain (why parenting is hard)

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 10.54.44 PM

Image 1: This is the start of the email. Oh, look, cute toys for kids. How nice. (now go to image 2)

[Adult content included in this post. You’ve been warned.]

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Image 2: Oh, cute stuffed animals and dolls. (go to image 3)

Today’s Fab email showcased cool toys for kids: dolls, bikes, scooters, bubble gum machines, etc. And I thought, I should forward this to my daughter. She’ll think it’s cute.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 10.57.44 PM

Image 3. Bubble gum machine – a staple of childhood. (go to image 4)

And then I looked at the very last box with the headline, “Your Personal Playthings: Bedroom toys for boys and girls.”

Hmm. Bedroom toys for boys and girls? Really? What kind of toys are those? I wonder.

And I looked. Wow, has the world changed that much since I was kid?

Bottom right-hand corner. Oh, man.

Image 4: Oh, look, robots and kids playing. Then, bottom right-hand corner. WTF are those?

So, if I order a doll, scooter and robot for my child, I should get them a vibrator too? How confusing.

I complained. Fab was very nice, as they always are. They’re a good company with outstanding customer service, a model other companies should follow.

But this ad?

I’m wondering how the meeting to put this one together went: “Yo, Charlie, I need to fill one more space in the ad. I’m running low on ideas. What else do kids like to play with?”

[Charlie responds] “Holy crap, you idiot, it’s common knowledge kids like anything that takes batteries.”

I ask you, my good friends, and I’m no prude, but was the placement of adult sexual aids at the end of an ad with kids toys a big deal or not?

As a parent, it bothered me on a lot of different levels, like the fact there are images of kids playing right above it.

Am I over-thinking this, and why did it bother me so much?

There’s just something about it that feels wrong. Or am I just getting old?

This little guy was hiding at the very bottom of the ad. Doll? When did the lines between adult sexual aides blur with children's toys?

This little guy was hiding at the very bottom of the ad. Doll? Not exactly. When did the lines between adult sexual aids blur with children’s toys?

What keeps me up at night

I believe we make our own luck, but that doesn't mean it's not fragile and fleeting.

I believe we make our own luck, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fragile and fleeting.

For a long time it was stress and the fear of not waking up. Now, it’s something else. When I finally figured it out, it surprised me – a lot.

It’s luck.

Yes, luck, and thinking how lucky I am to have everything I have. A great and caring wife, a perfectly imperfect daughter, 1,850 sq. ft of house, with equity, black and yellow labradors, good friends, a job.

Life hasn’t always been this way for me. But it has been lately.

I am grateful for having so much in a world growing hotter every year, filled with too many people living in poverty, and too many people who believe they never have enough, though I can’t exclude myself from that last category many days. I’m surrounded by daily reminders of great wealth in Los Angeles: McMansions, 100K+ cars, and an environment where my daughter counted how many kids in her class brought MacBook Pros to school, making her inexpensive ASUS seem inferior, though I will be speaking to her that it’s not the computer that matters, it’s what you do with it.

But what keeps me up nights is thinking about how lucky I am and how I could have it so much worse than I do. And wondering when I will.

Disney Infinity: Best Video Game Ever?

I built a racetrack in the sky with two double loops and a ton of banked turns, and lots of undulations. I played as one-eyed Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., and my daughter became Violet from The Incredibles.

My big mistake: building it in the air. One slip of the steering wheel and it's a long way down.

My big mistake: building it in the air. One slip of the steering wheel and it’s a long way down.

She rode a horned-pig and I drove Mr. Incredible‘s car. But she was faster with the darn pig, as I kept driving off the track, cursing myself for building the track in the sky and not on land. 

So, I got my own pig.

And she beat me again.

But I was leading the second race when I crossed through the last loop-da-loop and headed for home. Things looked good until she and her cursed pig came out of nowhere and bumped me off the track. 

Falling, falling, falling, my hopes of winning dashed by an 11-year old delivering a blow as low as I’ve ever seen, making me angry and proud at the same time.

I would have done the same.

Deviled-pig racing is just one of the games we’ve created on Disney Infinity. We fought a paintball war royale. We raced cars at high-speed all over an empty island playing a game of car tag, and we’ve had numerous helicopter battles. And we’ve redesigned the different areas with buildings and towers and rope bridges.

In a nutshell: We heart Disney Infinity.

They call it a pig. I call it getting your rear-end kicked by your daughter riding something that loosely resembles a pig.

They call it a pig. I call it getting your rear-end kicked by your daughter riding something that loosely resembles a pig.

Is it the best video game I’ve ever played? I’m not sure yet, but it’s up there because of our ability to use our imaginations and create our own games. The only downside is the potential cost of buying add-ons, like more characters and trading packs that cost 5 bucks a pop and give you more powers.

Can you say, Disney Goldmine?

There is, however, a happy ending to my story.

My daughter and I had another pig race across floating islands we connected with rope bridges, and, just as young Violet was about to cross the finish line and win, I, Mr. Incredible, nailed her in the back with a paintball, causing her to run headfirst into a boulder, and allowing me to pass her and win.

I realize there’s a lot wrong with a sentence like that but it was all in good virtual fun and I won, teaching the young one never to underestimate the power of someone who wasted his youth in arcades playing Frogger and Pac-man, and who hates to lose.