Friday, September 28, 2012

How Not to Talk to Your Kids About Sex


Parenting experts (i.e. parents. Also, your younger sibling who has never had children) will tell you that, when it comes to explaining sex to your kids, there are two basic rules. First, ask clarifying questions, so you can understand what it is your child already knows, and what they're really asking. Second, always answer the question your kid asks.

For example, if your 6-year-old asks you where babies come from, this is not the time to explain the whole birds and bees thing to them. Instead, ask "do you mean, from the hospital?" or "where do you think they come from?" And they'll just want to know how they came home, so your answer "from the mommy's tummy" will be more than sufficient

Of course, it's going to be tougher when they come back a year or two later and ask, "how do they get inside the mommy's tummy?"

That's still not the time to explain the whole birds and bees thing to them.

Oh, I know, some forward-thinking parents want their children to know everything about sex, and to not feel ashamed, and yada yada yada. But for those of us from Indiana, we still spell out S-E-X, and it's still something you do in the dark, so we don't like talking about it.

My wife and I decided a long time ago that when it came time to talk to our kids about sex, she was going to talk to any girls we had, and I was going to talk to any boys. At least that way, we would each have a common point of view that we could share with our children.

Besides, nothing freaks out a young boy worse than getting the sex talk from his mom. This is an issue for boys everywhere, which I know from personal experience.

To be fair, my "sex talk" was nothing more than my mom handing me a copy of Where Did I Come From? and saying "here," which, as I think back on it, was uncomfortable for both of us. That single syllable was more than either of us wanted to ever talk about.

Earlier this year, I violated rule #2 of only answering the question that was asked.

My youngest daughter, who is 11 and a huge fan of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network, asked me a very uncomfortable question as the five of us were eating dinner several months ago.

"Daddy, what's a gut sack?"

Since we home school our kids, I had no idea where she would have picked up this term. Probably church, I thought. My wife cracked up at the look on my face as it dawned on me what she was asking.

"I think you mean a different word, sweetie," I said, explaining the word she was looking for rhymed with "gut sack," but was something different.

"Okay!" I said in my best this-is-serious voice. "Mommy and I agreed that she would answer girl questions, and I would answer boy questions, but that's not an option. So I'll just explain this once to everyone, you'll all know what it means, and we'll never speak of it again."

My wife continued to laugh at my discomfort and tomato-red face.

I then launched into an explanation of how boys are built, and some of the different labels that are used when referring to our anatomy. I explained several terms they were likely to hear over the next few years, what they meant, and finally concluded with "so when you said 'gut sack,' what you meant to say was (that thing that rhymes with 'gut sack')."

My daughter stared at me, thinking for a moment, and said, "Oh, okay. Because General Grievous on Clone Wars is a cyborg, and all that's left of him are his internal organs, which are stored behind a metal shield in a gut sack."

I don't know who was going to die first, my wife from laughing so hard, or me from the aneurysm I was about to have.

I had smashed rules #1 and 2: Always ask clarifying questions and always answer the question you're asked.

Had I just said, "what do you mean?" or "where did you hear that?" she would have said something about General Grievous and internal organs, and that would have been that.

Instead, my children all know what the thing that rhymes with "gut sack" is, which as I reflect on it, is not a terrible thing to know. At the same time, I just didn't want to be the one to tell them.

Maybe we should just send them to public school so they can learn about sex the same way everyone else did: from the other kids at recess.


The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Apple, pumpkin pie bakers sought; contest to include media celebrity judge

I'm going to be a judge in a pie contest at Switzerland County's Sleepy Hollow event. Normally, I wouldn't publish articles about me, but I liked this one. And it's from my friend, Kendal, and she asked her media friends to promote it through their outlets, so. . . .

Switzerland County Tourism invites budding bakers to enter apple and pumpkin pies into their annual fall pie contest. The competition coincides with the Sat., Oct. 6, 2012 Sleepy Hollow event in downtown Vevay, IN. Cooked pies should be hand-delivered to the Switzerland County Visitors Center, located at 128 West Main Street in Vevay, no later than 11:00am. Pies will be judged by a panel of judges beginning at noon.

Erik Deckers, an author, Laughing Stalk humor columnist, and blogger for the Indiana state tourism office, will be a media celebrity pie judge. Deckers quipped in a recent Indiana Insider post—the official blog of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development—that he wasn’t invited to judge the Sleepy Hollow apple and pumpkin pie contest during Vevay’s upcoming event. The Switzerland County Tourism staff quickly realized their “oversight” and invited Deckers—who hails from Indianapolis—to be a judge for this year’s contest.

Pies will be judged on appearance, taste, and texture of the crust, with bakers of the winning pies receiving awards. With participants’ approval, all pies will be cut and served to the public after judging by a panel of connoisseurs including notable locals.

Sleepy Hollow will also feature live entertainment by Toni Deckers, arts and crafts around the courthouse square, an antique tractor show, roaming Headless Horseman, and a pet parade. The event will take place from 9am-4pm, with Toni Deckers performing from noon until 3:00pm.

For more information on the Sleepy Hollow event, local lodging and county businesses, contact the Switzerland County Visitors Center at 812-427-3237, log on to switzcotourism.com or join their Facebook fan page at Switzerland County Tourism-Vevay, IN.



The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

A One-Sided Conversation With My Son About Music

"Hey Buddy, can you turn down your amp?"

"I SAID, CAN YOU TURN DOWN—oh. Uh, your amp."

"I know you're practicing."

"But you're practicing, not the opening act at Bankers Life Fieldhouse."

"Fine, Klipsch Music Center. But you don't need to crank up your amp so loud for practice."

"Of course I'd come see you play."

"Yes, even at Klipsch."

"Yes, in the summer too."

"Of course I like outdoor venues. Who told you I didn't?"

"Oh, she did, did she? Well, Mommy doesn't like the summer either."

"There's nothing wrong with sitting inside. It's nice and cool."

"That was not heat stroke! I just got a little overheated is all."

"That's because you kids need to be outside to build up a tolerance to the heat. It makes you appreciate the air conditioning when you're older."

"What were you playing, AC/DC?"

"Of course I know who AC/DC is. Who do you think told you about them?"

"No he did not. I played AC/DC for you way before your guitar teacher ever did."

"So let me hear you play it."

"Come on, play."

"Now is not the time to be embarrassed."

"Buddy, you just had your amped cranked up to 11 and you were rocking "'T.N.T.'"

"Yes, I heard the "Oi. Oi. Oi." too."

"No, it doesn't really go up to 11."

"That's just an expression."

"From a movie."

"'This is Spinal Tap.' It's a mockumentary about a rock band that goes from being famous to being a failure."

"A fake documentary."

"A movie that tells a story about something real."

"Like the news."

"No, you don't have to watch the news. I'm just saying it's just like the news."

"No, you can't."

"Because it's not suitable for 9-year-olds."

"Because they have things like where their drummers keep dying from spontaneous combustion or a freak gardening accident."

"Where someone bursts into flames for no reason at all."

"That's not sad. It's funny."

"Because it's so rare it almost never happens. And yet it keeps happening to their drummers."

"And what about the freak gardening accident? Who ever heard of that?"

"Or the time — I loved this — when David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel had cold sores and — oh, um, never mind. You just can't watch it until you're older."

"Because when you're nine, you don't need to know about stuff like that."

"So are you going to play this song for me or not?"

"That's not an option."

"I was asking to be polite. Play the song."

"Oi! Oi! O—"

"Sorry. I won't do that again."

"No, seriously, Buddy. Play it again. I won't do that."

"Good job! That was really good. Maybe your sister would play with you on her drum set."

"Because I've heard her play it too."

"Yeah, she does the Oi thing too."

"But you have to learn to play in front of people. How many rock stars do you know who are afraid to play in front of people?"

"Besides she's just as afraid of playing in front of you as you are playing in front of her."

"Same thing I told Mommy about mice."

"Come on. It'll be the first Deckers family jam session."

"You bring your guitar and I'll get your amp."

"No, not just like a roadie. I'm not the roadie."

"The manager."

"Mommy will not be your manager."

"No, I won't be the driver either."

"Sweetie, I want you and your brother to play "T.N.T." together."

"Yes, you have to play in front of him. That's what musicians do. They play in front of each other, and other people."

"Don't worry, he's just afraid of playing in front of you—"

"Yes, like the mouse. If you knew it, why did you make me repeat it?"

"Just play together. If you want, I can stick around and watch to see how it's going."

"But I like doing the Oi, Oi, Oi."

"Then I'll be downstairs."

"No, I'm not bringing you a glass of water."

"Manager! I'm not the roadie, I'm the manager!"

"Fine. Do you want ice?"


The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Indiana Fever Fall to Minnesota Lynx, 66 - 64

It's one of our last two home games, as the Indiana Fever face off against the Minnesota Lynx in the first of two games in a row.

The game got off to another slow start, and we didn't see a point scored until Briann January scored after 2:07, but the Lynx had no such troubles. With 6:00 to go in the first quarter, it was Minnesota Lynx 10, January 2. By the time we reached 5:00, she had scored all 6.

At one point, the Fever had 11 points — January with 9, and Tammy Sutton-Brown (or as everyone calls her TammySuttonBrown) had the other 2.

Becky Hardy, the 3-point stair runner, was missing again today. Was that a factor?

The Fever finally got a spark lit under them, and they began to mount a comeback, thanks to two fast breaks by Katie Douglas, and it was 25 - 20, Lynx, after the first quarter. They also played some hard defense, holding the Lynx to four shot clock violations this game.

All told, the Fever did not look like they were playing at their best tonight. January had a chance to shine, which is usually hard to do when Douglas and Tamika Catchings are playing hard. But January really shone through tonight. But there was a lot of hesitation on everyone's part. By the end of the first half, January had 11 points, and Catchings had 10.

Everyone played tentatively tonight. Minnesota isn't that good, and the Fever should have been walking all over them. They were playing like they know they're in the playoffs. I've seen then play way harder than this, so I don't know what's up tonight.

Were the replacement refs officiating this game too? They were just as tentative. They couldn't agree whether the Lynx had a shot clock violation, so they had a jump ball. What's next, do over with no backsies?

(Toni and the kids got on the screen for Jump On It jump cam. So did my friend Michael Mendes.)

Fever began making a comeback in the 2nd minute of the 4th quarter, and fans came alive. The Jump Cam really helped, and got people amped up.

The Fever lost 66-64. Erlana Larkin flubbed a pass from Douglas at the last second, but we can't blame her for "losing" the game. If just one Fever player had hit one 3 more pointer, it wouldn't have mattered. It wasn't their best game, but they did come alive in the last quarter.

Now, the Fever just have to figure out how to beat the Lynx in their next game in Minnesota.




The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Is Twitter Making Us Dumber? No More Than Usual

If you've been hearing about Twitter in the news this week, you probably think people are just getting dumber and dumber.

They are, but Twitter is not to blame.

One year after Anthony Weiner retired from the U.S. Congress after tweeting photos of his namesake to different women who were not his wife, two more celebrities are making the news because of Twitter.

Rapper Ervin McKinness, better known as "Inkyy" to his fans, died in a car accident just moments after tweeting "Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #F***It. YOLO."

His final tweet was one minute later, reading: "Driving tweeting sipping the cup f*** yolo I'm turning it up."

YOLO means "You Only Live Once," which McKinness did, after the driver — not McKinness — lost control of the car and hit a wall before flipping the car and landing in the back yard of a home. McKinness and three other passengers all died at the scene. A fifth passenger died later at the hospital.

While many people have blamed McKinness for the accident, police believe he is most likely not the driver. But it's a tragic ending to a promising life and career.

While Twitter may have been the way McKinness communicated what was probably the cause of his death, Twitter is not to blame for it any more than it's to blame for Allison Pill's "tech issues."

Pill, one of the stars of HBO's "Newsroom," inadvertently tweeted a topless photo of herself to her 16,000 Twitter followers, when she meant it to go only to her fiancé, Jay Baruchel, the voice of Hiccup in "How to Train Your Dragon." She deleted the photo immediately, but it was still saved and quickly shared online, going viral in a matter of minutes.

But rather than blaming hackers, like Weiner did, Pill took it all in stride. She then tweeted, "Yep. That picture happened. Ugh. My tech issues have now reached new heights, apparently. How a deletion turned into a tweet... Apologies."

I've never admitted to being a technical wizard, but I do know the difference between the "delete" button and the "tweet" button. I also know better than to take naked photos of myself.

Instead, I do like Paris Hilton and hire a professional.

Baruchel wasn't upset by the incident though. He tweeted, "My fiancée is an hilarious dork. Smartphones will get ya."

I won't quibble about Baruchel's erroneous use of "an" in front of "hilarious," because he didn't freak out about the slip-up. Neither did Pill. There may have been some private wailing and gnashing of teeth, but her acceptance of blame and willingness to laugh at herself means this story will die quickly, rather than leading to a major scandal.

As a social media professional, I often meet people who refuse to use it because they don't want to inadvertently make terrible mistakes like this. They're worried they'll tweet a private message to their entire network. Or they'll post inappropriate photos on Facebook.

There's a simple solution to it all: don't take naked photos of yourself or your anatomy in the first place.

And if you're stupid enough to do that, don't send it to anyone over the phone.

And if you're stupid enough to do that, please oh PLEASE learn the difference between Twitter and everything else on your phone.

I don't see what's so hard about it. It takes half a second of concentration. Look at the button you're about to press to make sure it's the right one. Then, before you press send, make sure the message is going to the right person.

People make mistakes. I have inadvertently sent emails to the wrong person, or put a person's name into a Facebook status update instead of the search box. But I have also made sure that if I'm sending important information, I take a couple of seconds to see that I'm not sending it to the wrong person.

Just remember, Twitter is not the problem. It hasn't made people stupid or caused them to do inappropriate things. Twitter did not make McKinness and his friends drink and drive. It didn't make Pill tweet a naked photo of herself to her fiancé. And Twitter certainly did not make Anthony Weiner take photos of his junk and send them to other women.

That's just the type of people they already were. The technology only made it possible for them to tell other people about their poor decision making skills. And show the world their privates.

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The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Indiana Fever Beat Phoenix Mercury, 89 - 83

It was an exciting night for the Indiana Fever on Sunday against the Phoenix Mercury, despite a slow, worrisome start from our team. There's a tradition at every game that you don't sit for the tipoff, and fans won't sit until the Fever scores their first basket. In this game, that first basket came after 2:03, when Tamika Catchings finally hit the first bucket of the night.

It didn't go well after that, because the Fever struggled to keep up with the Mercury for the first few minutes, and I worried that this was going to be a blowout, the likes of which we hadn't seen since the USA-Lichtenstein Olympic game.

(There was no USA-Lichtenstein Olympic game.)

I was also worried, because Becky, the woman who runs up and down the stairs after every 3-pointer, was not there either. She finally showed up during the second quarter, and the Fever seemed to find their groove around the same time.

Coincidence? Maybe.

Even though the Mercury are out of playoff contention — something I'm glad to hear, since I still remember them from the 2009 WNBA playoffs — Diana Taurasi and her teammates did not give up. Hoping to play the spoiler once again, Taurasi announced her presence with enough authority that Nuke Laloosh give a little chill. But the crowd did not like Diana Taurasi, mostly because I think they still remember 2009 with more than a little bitterness.

It was also a special night for the Fever, because Katie Douglas became the 10th player in all WNBA history with 5000 points. She needed 14, and she hit it around the 3rd quarter. In fact, it was an über-productive night for Douglas, because she ended up with 13.

In the second half, the Fever really woke up — Coach Lin Dunn must have really laid into them at halftime — played some hard D, had a few key interceptions, and scored some great baskets. One of the highlights of the 3rd quarter was forward Erlana Larkin's interception and basket.

A couple of other notable players I hope the Fever hang on to for their future are Jeanette Pohlen and Briann January. They only had 6 and 8 points accordingly — mostly because Douglas and Catchings are ball hogs, what with 49 points between them — but they are putting up some solid effort, being in the right place at the right time, and just playing smart. I enjoy watching these two, even if they don't put up the big numbers that Douglas and Catchings are. I think that in a couple of years, we're going to hear a lot more from these two.

The Fever ended up wining the game, despite a last minute surge by the Mercury, 89 – 83. This keeps the Fever in second place, 1.5 games behind the Connecticut Sun. Their next game is at home on Wednesday, September 12 against the Seattle Storm. The Storm are 13 - 14, compared to the Fever's 19 - 9, so look for this to be another win.

In the meantime, Connecticut faces the Mercury on Wednesday night. If Phoenix can play the role of spoiler, and the Fever can pull off a win, that puts Indianapolis ahead in the division going into the last two games of the season, both against Minnesota.



The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Deep-Fried Candy Geniuses Raise Mars' Ire

My mom would never buy sugared cereal for us when we were kids.

"It's bad for you," she told us over and over.

"But it's an important part of a complete and balanced breakfast," I said. "That means it's healthy!"

Back then, a complete "balanced" cereal breakfast on TV included half a loaf of toast, a quart of orange juice, half a pound of fruit, six scrambled eggs, 12 pieces of bacon, enough hash browns to land a plane on, and a cereal bowl you could swim in.

If you want to understand why America is so fat, look at what we were told was healthy when we were kids. With that much food, eventually you will hit upon a combination of foods to equal a complete breakfast. Statistically, sugared cereal has a fair chance of being in the mix.

Lately, the cereal commercials have backed off some of their language and portion sizes. Bowls have gotten smaller, and there's plenty of fruit on the table. But smart parents aren't fooled and won't buy it, now matter how much healthy stuff the commercial has.

Smart parents will, however, hide a couple of boxes from the kids so they can have a bowl or two when everyone else is in bed. Like Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch.

But don't let the cereal people fool you. There is nothing healthy about this stuff. It's pressed corn and sugar that has been shellacked with a high fructose corn syrup to keep it from getting soggy. If you want to be healthy, don't eat this stuff.

Candy bars are another food not associated with healthy living. In fact, if there is one symbol that is the complete opposite of healthy living — aside from a mountain of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch — it's a candy bar.

We're so used to the "fun" size candy bars that normal candy bars are obscene and gluttonous, and are eaten by people who want to commit diabetic suicide. So we eat 12 of the little ones so we don't feel guilty.

But it gets worse. The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven, Scotland, is celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the Deep-Fried Mars Bar, a Mars candy bar, dipped in batter, and then fried in hot oil, invented by owners Lorraine and Charlie Watson.

Some people would say this is a deadly combination. After all, they say, candy bars are a negative health item, and deep-fried food is a negative health item.

But as I learned in high school algebra, a negative times a negative equals a positive, which makes the Deep-Fried Mars Bar one of the healthiest foods on the planet. (Update: Thanks to Jerome Kostelecky for reminding me that it's a negative TIMES a negative, not PLUS, that makes it a positive).

But while the Carron Fish Bar is celebrating what has become an international food craze — there are deep-fried candy bars at every state fair — the Mars candy company have expressed their displeasure at being associated with something this unhealthy.

The Watsons received a letter from Mars Incorporated condemning the treat, which said the candy bar company's marketing code "promote(s) a healthy active lifestyle to consumers and treats in moderation."

In all my years, I have never, ever heard a single word from a candy company about leading a healthy active lifestyle.

At least the liquor companies tell us to "enjoy responsibly," the lottery and casinos tell us never to bet more than we can afford to lose, and even Cookie Monster, much to the annoyance of anyone over the age of 10, now thinks cookies are a "sometime food."

But not once has a candy company said, "Hey tubby, drop the candy bar and go for a run." Mars Inc. may sponsor the World Cup and other sporting events, but all their sponsorship does is make me want to watch the game on TV and eat a sackful of candy bars. Moderation be damned!

Mars says they want to "avoid any consumer confusion," so they're asking the Watsons to "insert a small disclaimer at the bottom of any menus" that just because the restaurant uses Mars bars does not mean that the candy giant authorizes or endorses their use.

Frankly, I don't think consumers are so dense they think Mars Inc. has endorsed anything of the sort. Still, people don't seem to realize that this is a food that may kill you before you finish it, so you can't put anything past anyone.

Of course, I live in a country where we eat deep fried candy bars, deep fried bacon, and even deep fried butter, so it's not like I can be all haughty about it or anything.

I wonder what they could do with Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch.



The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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