Friday, February 24, 2012

Animal Interspecies Dating: Sin or Civil Right?

Animal Interspecies Dating: Sin or Civil Right?

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2004 in keeping with the whiny finger-pointing divisive screech-fest known as the presidential election.

Just when we thought we would get a much-needed rest from moral politics, a new emotion-charged controversy has reached a fevered pitch in Provo, Utah.

According to a recent story in the Associated Press, it started when Utah resident Susan Sewell tried to adopt a kitten from the Utah County Animal Shelter. That's when they learned that Provo law prohibits a dog and a cat from living in the same house. It's possible for two dogs or two cats to share a residence, but that's as far as the law will go. And it's raised the hackles of some Provo residents.

"This really has my back up! It's an invasion of our privacy, pure and simple," said pro-interspecies supporter Mabel Hutchinson. "Since when can the government start legislating morality for its citizens?"

Hutchinson, who has secretly owned a cat and dog for four years, shares the sentiments of many Provosians: that the city government needs to stay out of the sleeping rooms and dog houses of its citizens.

But there are two sides to every controversy, and this one is no exception.

"We're not going to let the actions of a few activist animal control officers dictate the acceptability of a such a heinous practice. The Bible is very clear on this," said Reverend Horton Jacobs, a vocal opponent of interspecies cohabitation. He has been an outspoken supporter for the city law, and has given countless sermons against the "evils of interspecies intimacy."

Gregory Polenska, president of Provosians for Animal Values (PAV), echoed Jacobs' philosophy: "We don't see why dogs and cats should be given special treatment or treated differently. And allowing this vile cohabitation is just one more item on the anti-values agenda, along with shared benefits, like shared veterinary insurance. Pretty soon they'll begin promoting this kind of behavior in the pet stores, recruiting puppies and kittens to their perverted ways."

Jacobs and Polenska joined hundreds of other pro-separation protestors outside Provo City Hall this past week. For six hours, they marched, carried signs, and chanted "God made Snowball and Fluffy, not Snowball and Scruffy."

But the pro-interspecies activists have not been silent. They held a counter-protest just a mile away, at the Provo Animal Shelter.

"It's specie-phobia!" said Irene Morris, president of DCBT (Dog, Cats, Birds, Turtles). "Those anti-rights zealots need to quit sniffing around our private business. If two consenting grown animals want to live in the same house, it's no concern of theirs."

Morris and 300 other protestors then marched to City Hall, walking mixed species couples on leashes, and chanting: "We're fixed! We're mixed! Get used to it!"

"This isn't just a question of whether two animals from different species can live together. It's much deeper than that," said Mabel Hutchinson, holding her dog, Sebastian, and cat, Clover, on a shared leash. "It's a matter of whether an animal can choose who he or she is going to share its life with. And no government should make that decision for them."

The Provo City Council has agreed to vote on the law, but neither side shows any signs of quitting when it's over.

PAV has already retained a local law firm, Alonzo, Macavity & Gus and have begun taking the necessary steps to file an injunction and an appeal to the Utah State Supreme Court if the vote does not go their way.

"I know this isn't a popular point of view among many Provosians," said Polenska. "But we're fighting for our moral values. And we'll use any means we can to make sure our way of life is protected from those who would seek to corrupt it."

The pro-interspecies supporters won't be caught by surprise either. Not only have they recruited their own law firm, Turpin, Lovett, & Todd, but plans are already underway for a Million Paw March in Salt Lake City next month.

Organizers originally had some difficulty obtaining a permit to have that many dogs and cats in a single location, but after contracting with a street cleaning crew and a promise to "bag any accidents," Salt Lake City officials finally agreed.

"When we explained that it was a million paw march, which meant we were going to have a slightly more 250,000 animals — a lot of people out here own three-legged dogs — the officials were a little more agreeable," said March organizer Paul Zielinski. "They were originally worried we were talking about a million animals."

"We'll either be celebrating or protesting, depending on how the vote goes," said Irene Morris.



My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.


My NEW book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or get it for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Six Things Every New Parent Should Know

Six Things Every New Parent Should Know

My brother and his wife had a baby recently, which makes me an uncle again. It also makes me nostalgic for the days when I was a young parent of a baby girl. I'm now a father of 15, 11, and 9 year old children, and I've been through just about everything a parent could go through. I've learned a few lessons in those years, some the hard way, and some by watching other parents and promising myself I would never, ever do that.

So for a "welcome to parenthood" letter to my brother and his wife, as well as to new parents everywhere, here are six things I wish someone would have explained to me when I became a parent.

1) Don't worry when your child gets sick. Every kid gets sick. Colds, fevers, whatever. It's the same thing parents get, only the kids aren't such babies about it. When your kid gets a cold or flu, alternate infant's ibuprofen and acetaminophen every four hours. That will help keep the fever down, and they'll feel fine. If your kid wants to play while he's sick, let him. It means he feels okay.

While going to the doctor is going to give you peace of mind, keep in mind that when she gives you medicine for your child, it's really for you, to get you to calm the heck down.

2) You don't need a big honking diaper bag. If the diaper bag weighs more than the baby, you've got too much stuff. You don't need five outfits, 15 diapers, a box of wipes, and three bottles. You're going to the grocery store, not a three-week tour of Italy. The general rule of thumb is if you need a sherpa to carry your diaper bag, you're overpacking. You'll figure it out by the third child, when you stick a single diaper and a thin handful of baby wipes in a Ziploc bag in your back pocket and go.

Also, if the diaper bag is too girly and cutesy, you won't get your husband to carry it. There are diaper bags disguised as backpacks, but do you know what else makes a good diaper bag backpack? A backpack. Don't make your husband carry anything pink or with flowers on it, unless it's his own daughter.

3) Helmets are unnecessary until the kid is six and riding a real, big-boy bike. When they're three, and are scooting around on those little scooty bikes and tricycles, they don't need helmets. Basically, if your child is taller standing up than he is on the bike, he doesn't need a helmet. Either that, or you need to make them wear a helmet at all times, in which case, make sure you start saving up for a good therapist when he's 15.

4) Not everyone is as interested in everything your child does as you are. Especially other parents. It doesn't matter how cute, adorable, or "really, really smart" you think your kid is, that insufferable twit from Mommy and Me thinks her kid is cuter, more adorable, and way smarter than any kid in the room — because apparently, smart kids drink from the dog's bowl. She prattles on and on about how her Bradley is nearly potty trained, and he's getting straight Smiley Faces in second grade. But we know your kid is smarter, better, and certainly doesn't think the toilet is a swimming pool.

5) Still, no one else is interested in everything your child does either. First steps are great, first teeth are worth a glance at a photo on your phone. But no one wants to hear about their potty training, their feeding habits, or the cute thing your son did when he "discovered himself" in the bathtub. And if your discussions include the words "diarrhea" and "explosive," please save them for someone who truly cares about your child's bodily functions, like, well, not me.

6) Be sure to pay attention to all the firsts with your last kid the way you do with your first kid. Nothing will give your child a bigger complex to see thousands of pictures pasted to hundreds of pages of his older sister's baby book — first crawl, first tooth, first step, first bite of big kid food, first big girl bed, first day at school — compared to the three photos you put in his — first step, first driver's license, first college graduation.

Of course, like any parent, I violated more than a couple of these rules when my kids were younger. (Speaking of explosive diarrhea, you should have seen — uh, never mind). But as a veteran parent of three children, hundreds of bottles, and thousands of diapers — and thankfully, no helmets for the plastic Big Wheel — I can tell you, it's not that complicated. Just relax and have fun.

You should be worried more about the fun new words I'll be teaching your children when they're finally old enough to talk.


My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My NEW book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or get it for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

What Men Should Carry: Real, Useful Fashion Advice for Men

What Men Should Carry

In the 1950s, men's fashion was pretty straightforward. There were certain things men wore or carried without question. They carried a handkerchief or pocket square, wore a hat, and dressed up for work.

These days, many of us wear jeans and t-shirts, and if we wear a button-down shirt, we're lucky if we can be bothered to tuck it in. (Ah, the joys of owning your own business and being old enough to dress yourself). And the only hat I wear is a baseball cap on special occasions.

However, I would never carry a handkerchief, since the last thing I want to put back in my pocket is my own snot.

But I think as men, we've sunk a little low in our accessories and what we "must" carry, when people write articles like the one I found on the Beauty & Style blog entitled, "5 Accessories Every Man Should Carry."

(For the record, I do not read blogs about beauty and style. This one was forwarded to me.)

The article lists the five accessories every man over the age of 18 should carry. Most of these "things a man should wear" articles are written with the same seriousness and gravitas that our fathers had when they shared with us their own List of Important Things Every Man Should Do: Shave every day. Always wear a belt. Remove your hat when you enter a building, especially a church.

Not this article. It had about as much seriousness and gravitas as a senior prom. The advice given was either insulting to men everywhere, or today's young men have as much common sense as an empty hat.

Item number one on the list is the wallet. Your wallet is important, says the author. Your wallet is crucial, we're told.

"If you have forgotten your wallet, then you are missing a crucial possession," the author had the temerity to put into print.

This is about as profound as Brooke Shields' famous quote, "If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."

Men know not to forget their wallets. We'll leave home without our pants before we leave without our wallet.

That's not all. Item number three on the cavalcade of useless advice: the pen. You should carry one, says the article, because pens perform some pretty important, life-changing functions, like. . .

"(Pens) are convenient for noting a phone number or signing a receipt."

Really? Noting a phone number? You're trying to give sage advice on some of the basic necessities of manliness, and the best you've got is pens are convenient for noting a phone number?

You know what else is great for noting a phone number?

A phone.

And since that's number five on the list of men's must haves, and considering that 95% of the people in this country carry mobile phones, you don't need a pen. (Never mind that the "carry a phone" advice is about as useful as "if you have forgotten your wallet, then you are missing a crucial possession.")

With my phone, I can tap your phone number into my contacts list, call your number so it's in my call history, or even snap a photo of your business card, because every phone in this country has a freaking camera in it.

Noting phone numbers is one of the dumbest reasons to tell men to carry a pen. Especially since our wives no longer allow us to get phone numbers from strange women. That's what email is for.

Instead of something shallow and pedantic like phone number notery, tell us they're great for signing contracts, recording important thoughts, or sketching business ideas on cocktail napkins.

A pen should be a source of pride. It needs to be a serious pen that has some heft to it. It needs to cost more than a dollar. And it needs to be used for loftier, more noble things than scribbling down random phone numbers.

Phones and wallets notwithstanding, there are certain things every man should carry or know how to do: Know how to tie a tie, even if it's a four-in-hand knot. Never wear a tie tack. Always own two or more belts. Keep your shoes polished and shined. Own at least one $30 pen in your life. Know how to iron your own shirts and sew your own buttons. Never wear a baseball cap backward and then shield your eyes with your hand.

And never, under any circumstances, carry a man purse. You may carry a backpack, a briefcase, a messenger bag, or a satchel.

But if you carry a man purse, then you are missing a crucial possession.


My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My NEW book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or get it for the Kindle or Nook.


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Friday, February 03, 2012

A Sports Writers' Slumber Party

A Sports Writers' Slumber Party

The players: Five sports writers, Sam, Chip, Tim, Len, and Max. The subject: Whether Peyton Manning will play for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, or if he'll even play at all. The scene: Chip's basement, for a sports writers' slumber party.

SAM: O! M! G! you guys! I just heard that Peyton and Jim are breaking up!

OTHERS: What?! Where did you hear that?

SAM: It was on Jim's Facebook page. He changed his relationship status to "It's complicated."

TIM: Oh nooooooo! They were the perfect couple! They did everything for each other. Peyton gave Jim a ring, and Jim gave Peyton a whole stadium! This is going to be such a downer for the entire league!

CHIP: Don't read too much into that. Jim's always doing crazy stuff like that. Knowing him it just means he want to see other quarterbacks. Peyton's his one true love.

MAX: What, an open relationship like Newt Gingrich wanted with his second wife?

ALL: EWWWWW!!!!!

LEN: Personally, I think they've needed to break up all along. I've been telling everyone it's time for them to move on.

CHIP: Len, you're always such a downer.

MAX: Hey you guys, does this Jeff Saturday jersey make me look fat?

SAM: You are fat, Max. You weigh, like, 300 pounds.

MAX: Jerk! Your hair is falling out!

LEN: No, it's true. I had a chance to talk to Peyton a couple weeks ago—

TIM: Name dropper.

LEN: Shut up, Tim! You never even played football!

SAM: Actually, none of us did.

LEN: Can I please finish? Like I was saying, I was talking to Peyton a couple weeks ago, and he said it was hard to be around the facility, because all his friends were leaving. He said he didn't feeling like he was getting better.

TIM: I was talking to Jim a couple days ago—

LEN: Now who's the name dropper?

TIM: Now who's interrupting? Anyway, I was talking to Jim and he said he wasn't going to talk about it to anyone. Not even me, and I've known him longer than anyone here.

LEN: No you haven't. Me and Max have known him for almost 30 years.

TIM: Nuh-uh. I met Jim a couple years after he came to Indianapolis.

MAX: So? We met him when he got here with his dad in 1984.

TIM: Oh, uh. I meant I met him when he was still in Baltimore.

MAX: We're getting really tired of your crap, Tim! Stop trying to be bigger than you are! You're such a dweeb!

TIM: Oh yeah? Big talk from someone who got cut as the water boy from the girls' basketball team.

SAM: Cut it out, you guys!

CHIP: Yeah, come on. This isn't the time for us to be fighting. We need to be united on this.

MAX: You know, I was watching Eli at Media Day on Tuesday, and I think he knows what's really going on. He slipped and referred to Peyton's career in Indy in the past tense.

SAM: No way! What'd he say?!

MAX: You can see the video on NFL.com. He said, and I quote, "(w)e'll look back on the fact that we played in a Super Bowl in Peyton’s, in the town he played his NFL, uh, you know, plays for the Colts and we’ll look on that later."

ALL: Ooooooooooh!

SAM: But it doesn't make sense. Everyone keeps asking them about it, and they keep saying that everything is fine, and they're happy, and they're only working through some personal issues.

LEN: You mean, like Demi and Ashton?

SAM: *gasp*

LEN: Or Heidi Klum and Seal?

SAM: *GASP!*

LEN: Or like—

SAM: Stop it! Stop it! I don't want to talk about this anymore.

CHIP Cut it out, you guys! We have to stay strong. For Peyton and Jim! For the whole NFL. If they break up, I don't know what I'll do!

MAX: I heard Jim do the same thing yesterday on the NFL Network. He said, "we've HAD a great relationship." Then he said "no one knows what exactly is going to happen."

ALL: O! M! G!

MAX: You guys! What are we going to do?!

TIM: What can we do?

CHIP: Can't we talk to them? Tell them how it important it is for the whole league that they stay together?

LEN: I know them both pretty well. I could—

MAX: Yeah, right. You know neither of them like you, right?

SAM: I think we just have to let them figure this out on their own. We should just let them have their space, talk about their feelings on their own, and figure out if they truly want to be with each other.

TIM: No way!

MAX: Yeah, no way!

LEN: Yeah, it's a lot more fun trying to figure out what they're doing and gossiping about it every day.

Shouts of "you bet" and "awesome!" fill the basement as the five sports writers make plans for the summer and then have a pillow fight.


My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My NEW book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or get it for the Kindle or Nook.


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