Friday, July 31, 2015

URGENT! Do Your Back-To-School Supplies Shopping Now!

Be the hero, not the zero.

If you're like me, you wait until the last minute to get your children's supplies for school. Then, you find yourself at a big box store on a Sunday night fighting with some kid's grandmother over a box of pencils.

Save yourself the trouble and, with the help of The Single Father's Guide, order your children's school supplies RIGHT NOW. Here are some of the most popular items which you can just click, place in your shopping cart, and have them delivered right to your front door.

When you've finished your shopping a month before school starts and weeks before all the other kids parents have even started, you can smugly sit back, enjoy a glass of lemonade - or something stronger, by the pool, and just . . . relax. You've got it under control.

You can thank me later.

1) Crayola Crayons - Your child will be the envy of the art class with this "Ultimate Crayon Case," including 152 colors.

2) Herschel Supply Company Backpack - FIVE-STAR RATED, this backpack is one of Herschel Supply's most popular silhouettes, paring classic mountaineering style with modern functionality.

3) Elmer's Washable No-Run Glue - At just 50 cents a bottle, buy a few extra just in case one gets lost.

4) Dixon Ticonderoga Wood Cased #2 Pencils - "Okay, everyone, take out your #2 pencils."

5) Mead Filler Paper, Wide Ruled - Fill up folders and three-ring binders with the best name in wide-ruled composition and note paper.

6) BIC Bright Liner Highlighter - I haven't seen a school supplies list in a long time that did not include highlighters.

7) Acer Chromebook, 11.6-Inch, CB3-111-C670 (Intel Celeron, 2GB, 16GB SSD - At about $140, this is the #1 bestselling laptop and a good choice for college students and high schoolers.

8) Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator - There is not substitute, literally, for the TI-84 for high school and college math and statistics classes.

9) Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens, Dozen Box - "America's #1 selling gel pen."

10) Mead Marble Notebooks, Assorted color 12-pack - Each one of your children, whether in elementary school or high school, will go though four to eight of these every year.

12) Case-it Large Capacity 3-Inch Zipper Binder, Blue, D-146-BLU - Help your student "keep it all together" in a big, durable binder.

13) EZ Care Package (48 Count) With Snack Gifts - Let them know you're thinking about them while they're hitting the books. They'll be the most popular kid in the dorm, fraternity, or sorority.

Friday, July 24, 2015

My First First Date in 15 Years

An excerpt from my yet unpublished ebook, Dating, Relationships, and Sex the Second Time Around: The Single Father's Guide. The passage chronicles my 2005 first first date that I'd had after almost 15 years.

I connected with Anita through one of the most popular dating sites. As a late thirty-something who hadn’t been at least a decade and a half since I’d last been on a first date, I wanted to take time just try to decipher the world of single women.

So, Anita and I communicated for a few days through the dating site and by phone before we agreed to meet. On a warm Saturday evening, I arranged for a sitter and sailed away into uncharted waters.

In spite of the fact that Anita was about ten years younger than me, she was clearly a more accomplished swimmer than I was. Anita called the shots. She suggested that we meet at a Barnes & Noble cafe, which was about twenty miles from my house, have a cup of coffee and talk for a while, and then get some dinner. It all sounded fine to me, but I wouldn’t have really known anything else.

I walked through the front door of the Barnes & Noble and straight back to the café. I looked around for a few moments, but didn’t see Anita anywhere. Thinking that I was early or may have missed her, I started back toward the front of the store. She met me before I reached the door, and we returned to the café where I bought the two of us coffee.

Anita wasn’t shy, but wasn’t really forthcoming either. Our conversation didn’t get personal, or even comfortable. It seemed much more like a business meeting. She told me where she wanted to have dinner, a restaurant which was about a forty-five minute trip, she wanted to take her car, and she wanted me to drive. (Ironically, the restaurant, which specialized in Indian cuisine, had been a client during my previous professional life.) I just went with the flow and agreed.

In spite of my attempts to make conversation during the ride and during dinner, Anita didn’t engage. She wasn’t rude, but she was guarded. Eventually, we arrived to the restaurant.

In truth, I don’t know if it was my nerves, the strong coffee, the curry, the (absence of) conversation, or a combination of everything, but I began to feel a little nauseous about three-quarters through the meal. I told Anita, and I thought I observed a hint of disappointment on her face.

There was even less conversation during the ride back to the Barnes & Noble parking lot than there had been on the outbound trip or during dinner. When we got back, we got out of her car, met at the trunk, and said goodbye with neither physical contact nor the promise of, “I’ll call you.”

My first date wasn’t a disaster, although it could have been considering the tempest in my tummy, but it didn’t bear any resemblance a success, either. It was, however, my first lesson swimming with the sharks. I drove home quite a bit earlier than I expected and surprised the sitter and the kids just before their bed time.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Welcome at MIZZOU

It’s difficult not to be a little nostalgic as I take the plane ride back to New York after a trip with my eldest daughter to Columbia, Missouri after "Summer Welcome." Two months or so from now, she’ll be a freshman my alma mater, the University of Missouri. It’s particularly meaningful for a guy like me who has been her only and full-time parent since she was seven years old.

The trip with my daughter was really nice. She is, obviously, the offspring of her mother and me, which means she’s been blessed with obstinacy from both contributors of her genetic material. Considering she has been and still is a teenager and I have been her primary sparring partner, it should come as no surprise that much of the past few years have been marked with disagreements, misunderstandings, and all variety of argument, quarrel, dispute, row, spat, squabble, barney, and even the occasional donnybrook. Frankly, it was supposed to have been her mother who caught the brunt and I was supposed to have been the knight in shining armor, but things don’t always work out the way we want them to. Alas.  The young woman who I accompanied to Missouri was patient, pleasant, mature, and hopeful. I didn’t add responsible because she’s always been that.

I often joke when something works out well when I’m involved, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn.” Seeing my daughter during the weekend, whether I’m blind or a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind and in spite of my parenting missteps and mistakes, my daughter has become an incredible young woman.

I like Missouri. I think at least part of her interest in becoming a Tiger is her interest in connecting with her extended family, particularly on her mother’s side. While I’ve considered moving several times during the past decade, it hasn’t yet worked out, but she’ll experience and live many of the things her mother and I did as young adults growing up in Missouri. She’ll experience Missourians’ genuine friendliness tempered by a discrete provinciality. No, she didn’t graduate from a St. Louis-area high school, but when she answers, “I went to Warwick Valley High School in Warwick, New York,” the interviewer won’t know how to catalog her. She’ll become used to all of the things to which I always have to re-acclimate, which include not only the heat and humidity, but also the suburban sprawl, the smoking in bars, use of mobile phones while driving, (which I hope she won’t do), the price of apples, the difference between a St. Louis Cardinals fan and a Kansas City Royals fan, and more.

She’ll connect with her mother’s brother’s family and her grown cousins who live 90 miles east of Columbia just a couple of miles from I-70. She’ll spend time with her mother’s sister’s family and her younger cousins who live in central Illinois. She’ll spend time with my parents, who live about 100 miles east of Columbia, just a stone’s throw from I-70 and who will be happy to spoil her. She’s actually already a little spoiled. She’ll hang out maybe with her mother’s and my good friend who is a cardiologist in Columbia and whose wife is an internist and their 6’ 7” eldest son who will play basketball this fall at Truman State. She’ll make her own friends, friends who will last a lifetime, maybe as a Greek and maybe not, as she studies Biology in preparation for a career in medicine or science. She’ll know, even though she’s far from home, she has a lot of people who love her and who have her back right where she is.

She’ll experience life, both the good and the bad. She’ll have success and failure, triumph and disappointment. She’s already experienced some of both and, in her case, some of the unpleasant realities of life that I wished I could have prevented a seven year old from seeing. If life balances, then she’s due for more good in the future. That’s heartening. As she does move through her life, though, she’s proven to be as resilient as she is intelligent and beautiful, so I she’ll do well.

I also know her mother would be very proud of her.

Friday, July 10, 2015

On Commitment

Reasonable Man, Bill Clinton, and White House intern, Monica Lewinski
Have you ever wondered how exactly in the flippin’ world that then President of the United States was able find the cojones to testify under oath, “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinski?” For the love of Mike, he was an attorney.

Well, my guess is that Mr. Clinton applied a legal theory known as the “Reasonable Man,” which denotes “a hypothetical person in society who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct and who services as a comparative standard for determining liability ( “Reasonable person theory (redirected from reasonable man theory).” Accessed 6/21/15.).” In other words, Mr. Clinton used the Reasonable Man theory, also now known as the politically correct Reasonable Person theory, to disavow that oral sex constituted sex because he believed that the majority of Americans similarly did not believe it to be true. He was probably right. “80% of young adults surveyed believe oral genital contact doesn’t count as sex, (“Most young adults: oral sex is not sex.” Kelli Miller. April 10, 2010.)” and I’d guess, in the late 1990’s, there were still folks around who were born during the Roosevelt administration – the Teddy Roosevelt administration, who’d never even conceived of oral sex.

Where am I going with this?

Committing one’s self to another person, like a marriage, is a contract. Simply, a contract is “an agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration ( "Contract." Accessed 6/21/15.).”  If one person promises to love, cherish, and forsake all others until death do us part in exchange for the same promise from the other, that is a contract in which that valuable benefit. A contract can written or verbal and can be as simple as a promise by one person to paint the other’s kitchen while the foyer owner promises to give the painter $350. If the painter finishes the job, but the foyer owner doesn’t give the painter $350, then the contract is breached.

Considering “In the United States, researchers estimate that 40%–50% of all first marriages, and 60% of second marriages, will end in divorce (Should I Keep Trying to Work It Out? A Guidebook for Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce (and Before). Hawkins, Alan J., Fackrell, Tamara A. Utah Commission on Marriage.  October 2009.),” two things are clear. First, there are a lot of people who don’t understand the definition of the marriage contract. Second, and perhaps more significantly, a reasonable person in our society may no longer consider marriage a “until death do us part” contract.

According to Hawkins and Fackrell in Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out?, there are several variables which put couples “at higher risk for divorce: marrying at a very early age, less education and income, living together before marriage, a premarital pregnancy, no religious affiliation, coming from a divorced family, and feelings of insecurity (Should I Keep Trying to Work It Out? A Guidebook for Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce (and Before). Hawkins, Alan J., Fackrell, Tamara A. Utah Commission on Marriage.  October 2009.).”

As an adult single father who has dated and regularly interacts with other single fathers who’ve experienced divorce, I have my own ideas about identifying a partner who has similar views about commitment to mine. While, for a single father, marrying at an early age is no longer relevant and the detriment of premarital pregnancy may be mitigated by maturity and financial security, here are a few things I’ve noticed about others’ views about commitment and proclivity for divorce/breaking a commitment. Of course, this applies to both men and women who are looking for a committed life-partner:

1) If a person is already divorced, there is a good chance, about three out of five according to Hawkins and Fackrell, that person will divorce a second time.
2) If a person’s parents are divorced, that person is more likely to take the easy road (and divorce) rather than do the hard work to fix a relationship.
3) If a person has been unfaithful to other partners, there’s a better chance that person will be unfaithful in a new relationship.
4) Jealousy resulting from insecurity is deadly to committed relationships. If your partner is jealous or insecure, the relationship faces an uphill battle.

Muggsy Bogues guarding Michael Jordan
Of course, it is wrong to judge someone based solely on his or her circumstances, whether physical, socio-economic, or anything else. (That's called prejudice.) Like in the NBA where success and physical height are strongly correlated, 5’3” Muggsy Bogues thrived, every case is different. Perhaps, a divorced woman left the relationship as a result of physical abuse, her partner's substance abuse, or maybe her partner broke his commitment in some other way. Maybe, your potential soul-mate’s parents were divorced, but the experience reinforced her belief in the importance of keeping one’s promises. Each person’s circumstances are unique and dating is the way you discover whether your and your potential partner’s values match.

Still, if you have questions or doubt, these facts about the woman you’re dating will at least give you some clues about where you should be looking and just how reasonable a person she is.

Friday, July 3, 2015

PRODUCT REVIEW: Lawn Aerator Sandals by DBROTH (Crazy. Stupid.)

Like a lot of guys, I want my lawn to look nice. When I bought my house nine years ago, the lawn was great for growing weeds because the soil was extremely acidic because of the copious pine needles. I've applied lime once or twice a year since then, and things have improved.

This year, I decided to make a giant stride, pardon the pun, and I bought Lawn Aerator Sandals by DBROTH on (I'm reminded of Steve Carrell's scene in Crazy Stupid Love when he snuck onto his lawn one night to aerate is yard.) I figured aerating the lawn would help the lime and fertilizer get to the roots and I'd have a golf course quality lawn by mid-summer.

It didn't quite work out that way.

The Lawn Aerator Sandals, including full two inch spikes were extremely difficult to use. Balancing on the sandals before the spikes sunk into the yard was difficult. Frankly, I the sandals were a sprained ankle ready to happen. Worse yet, the straps would not stay tight, so every time I stepped, the sandals loosened. After every two or three steps, I'd have to tighten the straps. Eventually, I just did what any guy would do. I wrapped them with duct tape so they'd stay on my feet.

Displaying WP_20150702_001.jpgI only used the sandals once. I won't use them again. If you have bad soil you're trying to build into better soil, I wouldn't recommend these. Maybe Steve Carrell has a recommendation.