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The Good, The Dad, & The Ugly

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About this blog

Being a Dad is rough and tough, but having to overcome obstacles allows dad to gain experience in many aspects of life. So gather round everyone, and let us share the wisdom some of the Dad's Hideout Members have accumulated over the years, here, at 'The Good, The Dad, and The Ugly.'

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Hapa_Fodder
When the ex and I talked about getting married, we discussed the military, military life and how things might go. This is hard to explain in words that are understood. And harder for someone that wasn’t in the military to truly understand. So when I deployed in 2010 and came home to find out things weren’t exactly going well in our relationship (and I assure you that is an understatement) I took it in stride. Was I too nice? Definitely, should I have been a complete poopchute? Totally. But in the end, I had somewhere to sleep, and eat (the ship)... We had children to think about. And I was always gone already, so this would be normal to them. I agreed too much, I gave too much, I didn’t fight nearly enough.
 
I apologize if this is long winded and I won’t go into the details over the next 5 years, but let’s just say they were less than ideal for me. In the first week of January of 2015 I was completely and utterly destroyed, mentally, emotionally and monetarily and it was all beginning to show physically. I had chronic tension, chronic insomnia, anxiety, depression all exacerbated by military life and all of it came to a head. My professional career (the only part of my life I seemed to be able to succeed in) was beginning to falter. I had a break down, I had been asking for pictures of MY children for, well, years... and her remark was that she did not have time to take pictures for me. So my mother, did what an amazing mother would. She started pulling pictures of the children off of Facebook, because evidently she had time to plaster pictures all over FB but not for their father. I had just gotten over a bout of serious depression after finally getting a picture the last week of December 2014 after begging for pictures of the children seeing them play with the toys that I bought them for Christmas. How did the ex respond? She sent a picture of my daughter on the ground playing with the toy I got her for Christmas, in the background was the man she was dating (now her new husband), he was, for all intents and purposes naked on the couch. All he was wearing was basketball shorts. When I responded to her, letting her know how inappropriate it was that she sent that to me, she of course acted like she did not know what she did wrong. At this point I questioned all my own actions and my own thoughts when it came to her and the children. So when I posted the picture to FB and asked the question whether I was incorrect in my thinking, of course the resounding answer was that I was NOT incorrect.
 
So in that week in January, walking my dog, utterly a broken man. I came to a realization. I had still, been living for a woman and children that were not a part of my life anymore. The woman that I had fallen in love with had replaced me, completely, as a husband and father. Phone calls would always go unanswered, texts were being ignored. When I made it apparent that I wanted a set time and day to talk to the children on the regular it became my fault that my son was acting out at school and that his reasoning was because “mom was making me talk to dad on the phone.” Of course upon hearing this, I didn’t want my time to be a negative thing and I caved and stopped it. Everything welled up. Everything built up to a breaking point. And I snapped. But not necessarily in the way that I think some would. I made a decision. I was not going to live for the family that had moved away and moved forward from me. It was time for me to focus on ME. It was time for me to focus on MY life. There was at this time only one person I could rely on. ME. I had talked to a few people about my decision, for the most part it was met with positive responses. Some said, “if someone had done that to me, NO ONE would be able to keep me away from my children,” but as I have always said, you don’t get to judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.
 
So I focused on me! 2015 was an amazing year for me, I was in the gym every single day, I am arguably not a runner, okay not arguably, I am NOT a runner. I was already walking the dog 5-7 miles a day. And by late spring, early summer I was RUNNING 5 miles a day! My career skyrocketed, that year I became my commands Senior Sailor of the Year, I went up for regional Sailor of the Year, I became the Surface Navy Association Sailor of the Year for New England, I received a top evaluation and then it happened the epitome of a Navy man’s career. I was selected to be a Chief Petty Officer. A milestone that I had all but written off as I was nearing the end of my career. All this time I was working 10-16 hour days, focusing on my career, my new “kids” (Sailors) and ME. Not thinking about what I left behind. This I know was especially hard on my parents and family/friends back home in Oregon. I still to this day feel as though I have completely let them down, though they may say this is not the case, it will FOREVER be in the back of my mind. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that this is partially the reason why I seclude myself so often.
 
So last year I retired from the Navy. I said “Good Bye,” to a career that spanned over 20 years, 5 ships, almost 15 years at sea, 1 shore duty, 10 deployments, countless moves up and down the west coast and coast to coast and to the Sailors that had become my children. I went through all the anxiety and depression that one does when separating from the military. But a new realization came to pass, I had the time and the money to right how I was wronged. Not necessarily to try to have a relationship with my actual children as I am a complete stranger to them today. But correct the deficiencies in the divorce decree and actually sever the siphon that that woman had directly connected to my bank account. I had after all been paying over DOUBLE what the state of Missouri would have required me to pay in child support for almost a decade.
 
It took me almost a decade to have the time and the money to pay a lawyer and pursue what was FAIR with the ex-wife. All the while she has been acting like a selfish, childish, money grubbing gold digger. More shady stuff was attempted to by the ex, which all came out when she suspiciously was nice and agreeable to my terms as well as apologetic for years of childish, selfish behavior and I questioned it all.
 
So when she agreed to the stipulations of changing things in our agreement of course I was skeptical. And of course she had ulterior motives. So when I got a lawyer, informed her that I was doing so, it was no surprise that she got upset. I did as I always have, told the truth, told her exactly step by step what was going to happen. And she again agreed, "so long as it wasn't going to be different than what we agreed to." My response to that has always been the same, "I am not the one trying to pull anything, or do anything underhanded. Never have I ever done anything that would negatively impact the other." So it doesn't surprise me when my lawyer informs me that he has been attempting to contact her so that she can sign her side of the paper work and has had no response from her. So, my lawyer, which BTW is ranked in the top 10 for family law in the state of Missouri did what any expensive lawyer would. He documented all his attempts and has served her with papers to appear in court. Furthermore, he has filed a motion since I am a veteran and do not live in the state to be represented in person by him so I don't have to go.
 
There are still days where the memory of her and my lost family takes the wind from my sails, however, moral of the story, what is FAIR is FAIR. You get what you put in, treat people you "care" about like crap, it WILL come back to bite you. Being honest, open, upfront and truthful is always the best way to handle people.
Will I ever really recover from all of this? I doubt it. Will I ever marry again? I doubt it. But at this point in my life, I find sitting on the patio watching the dog chase dragon flies and enjoying a glass of whiskey to be far more relaxing that worrying about those things.
 
*That is all*
thedakar

Looking for work sucks. The part that sucks the most; applying.  The thing that sucks the most in applying? 

THE RESUME!

Resumes suck.  You have to write about yourself which; unless you have lots of training, are blessed with the skill, or are a narcissist... , feels awkward at best and impossible at worst. You have to condense YEARS of experiences to a single page... and precious space is wasted with just your name and contact information!  If you learned how to do a resume 5 years ago (or more!) the things you learned are outdated!  Advice varies from source to source - do this, not that; make it colorful, stick to black and white; fancy vs plain; AHHHHHHH!

No worries, I am here to muddy the waters even more! (#sarcastic I kid, I kid!)

Resume Writing (Part 1)

I am going to share the advice I give my clients when I do career mentoring and consulting.  Why should you care? I have 5 years of experience mentoring people transitioning between careers, handling a few thousand clients in that time.  So far, no one ever called and told me I was wrong... so that should be good enough! In all seriousness, I am just one person - you should take anything I write with a grain of salt.  Do your research, consult other resources, and find what feels right for you.  In the end, that is what this is about.  Getting YOU to show up on paper so that a COMPANY wants YOU.  

Resume vs CV

Quick clarification: What is the difference between a Resume and a CV?

In the United States your resume is a single page document that highlights what you believe are your most pertinent and meaningful skills or experiences in relation to the job you are applying for. 

A CV (short for Curriculum Vitae; latin phrase meaning "course of my life) is a document that outlines damn near EVERY skill and experience relevant to any job or career.  My shortest CV is 5 pages long. 

I like to explain it as the Resume is the thing you use to get the organization interested in you solving their problems; the CV is the thing that shows them the toolbox you have to solve their problems. The organization (company) is looking for the right person who is going to solve their problems. If they are asking for resumes and you want to work for them, you gotta be ready to play the game!

What about the Interview?

We are not going to talk about the interview in this blog - all you need to know is that anything you put down on paper you should be ready to talk about. So don't lie, it will just bite you in the bum later.  

Resume Basics:

  • One Page - recruiters spend an average of six seconds looking at a resume. No novels!
  • GRAMMAR and SPELLING - get it right, 
  • Highlight the MOST impactful items - cut the fluff
  • Quantify as much as possible
    • ex. "Supervisor of Accounts Receivable" should be "Supervisor of 15 member Accounts Receivable Team"
  • "third person" - no "I," "me," or "my"
    • ex: "I directed XX projects" should be "Directed xx projects or "I was supervisor for my office of 10 employees" should be "Supervisor for 10 person office." 
  • Context of the experience - city, states, country (if not same as job), and for how long
  • No Jargon  - even within the same career field, jargon can can cover up your skill or make you look unprofessional.  
  • Name Drop and Title Drop like you are on Instagram - You WANT to brag on a Resume.  You WANT to catch their eye.
  • The Resume and the Job should Match - if it doesn't match, why would the company be interested?
  • Google your Name - Recruiters (80% of them) will do an internet search on the names of the potential candidates. What will they find when they do?

One Page - The resume is a brief (aka, short, concise, quick) look at your relevant skills and experiences. You have 6 seconds to create enough interest that the recruiter wants to find out more. Depending on the job post, there might be HUNDREDS of applicants. You have one quick look, so make it count and don't send anything more than one page. I would also suggest that you send the document as a PDF.  Everyone using a computer can open a PDF, and the PDF locks in the formatting / look of your resume.  This prevents your sharp looking modern layout from becoming an indecipherable scramble. Oh, and name the thing FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME_RESUME or similar so it's easy to find and easy for the receiver to identify.

Grammar and Spelling - Nothing undermines your resume claiming you have "attentionn to dettail" and "Strived four excellencents" by using poor grammar and misspellings... Take the time to get it right.  If you are not sure, use some of the free online tools to check (e.g. the Hemingway App or Grammarly). Then ask a human to read it. Then read it again, just to be sure. 

Demonstrate Impact / Quantify as much as Possible - What did you do, how did you do it, how well did it work? You are trying to show that you can handle the job and the challenges it presents.  Businesses run on metrics (basically measurable goals) so if you talk in metrics, this can help them see your worth in a language they understand.  It also makes your claims verifiable. They can ask you questions about it, they could check if they really wanted to.  Most importantly, it separates you from the 400 other candidates that said "Supervised Swing Shift." 

What can you quantify? Just about anything. Imagine you figured out a way to save 15 minutes on a daily task at your last job. 15 minutes a day, 260 working days a year (on average for office workers) is 65 HOURS a year saved.  That is a week and a half of work time saved.  That is a big impact.  "Redesigned daily workflow process to save 65 man hours per year." 'Shaved 2 days from employee onboarding process, decreased new employee training time by 25% while maintaining required skill levels of new recruits." Maybe even "Employee of the Month 4 times in the last 2 years." It doesn't have to be HUGE if you can quantify it.  

Third Person - You have limited space, so cutting out pronouns frees up those precious characters. It can also help declutter your resume. It ties back into "One Page" and 6 second look; the impact needs to pop out. Also, recruiters know you are talking about you... if you were talking about others, why would it be on YOUR resume? It time for you to focus on YOU - you want them to hire YOU, right? So focus on your impact and drop the pronouns. 

Context - Where did you do these things? When did you learn the skill? How long have you been a member of that organization? If I am reading a resume and I can't answer these questions with what's in front of me, the resume fails to do its job. This is the crib notes of your work history. Everything is laid out in a way that makes it easy to digest. It should be self contained - no extra research required to understand whats in it and why I should care. 

No Jargon - Jargon means both shorthand for certain items or processes AND acronyms.  You might think "worked swing shift" is universal, but do you want to bet your job on it? It is really easy to fall into the trap of using "industry standard" phrases - its industry STANDARD, right? Well, no. If you are trying to move outside of the industry, you have to generalize.  Assume the person knows nothing about your industry or job. If a 10 year old couldn't figure it out, it's too much jargon. One exception to this rule; if the job posting SPECIFICALLY notes desired technical skills or processes (Information Technology is heavy on this, as is health care) and you have those skills, LIST THEM! Does it say "Skills in AJAX, SQL, C++ highly desirable"? Yah, you should list those highly desirable skills exactly as mentioned.  

Name, Title and Award Drop - I find the hardest part of resume writing is trying to make myself the focus. This is especially difficult when you consider that very rarely do you accomplish anything without a team of some sort supporting you. Yet, you have to remember that the company isn't hiring the team, its hiring YOU. If you can't tell them why you where a strong part of the team, then maybe the team is better off without you?

If you worked regularly with the CEO or the Senior Executive, say so. It can help show you know how to interact with higher ups and or valuable clients. Where you recognized for outstanding customer service? Did you receive incentive awards? Win best sales person of the month? Did you climb from back room stocking associate to shift supervisor in a year? TELL THEM! You WANT to brag on a Resume.  You WANT to catch their eye. 

The Resume and the Job should Match - This is basically the Custom vs Generic Resumes debate. You should have a generic resume at the ready at all times. When ever you have the time (even if it is only a few minutes) you should ALWAYS customize your resume to the particular job you are applying for. Why should anyone care about your resume if the information isn't relevant? How do you look on paper if you are spending most of the page highlighting things that are not relevant to the position in question? I have spent HOURS on single resumes for a single job posting.  Why? I want that call for the interview, don't you?

Google your Name - I guarantee you that if your resume makes it past the first round and gets a second look, your name is going into Google (because who uses Bing?) and they will click on a few links. 80% of recruiters admit they do.  The other 20% are lying... So Google your name and see what pops up. I had a client where he had the same name as a man that was arrested for child abuse from the SAME STATE. We figured this out and actually addressed this issue on his cover letter. "If you were to conduct an internet search on my name, please be aware that there is another individual having the same name as I who is far more likely to be on the top of your search results. Please visit my linked in page (hyperlink) where I have links to verified articles and background information for your consideration." Suddenly, he started getting interviews... (I wonder why!)

Step Up Your Game!

Resumes are hard. I work on them professional, so I have a bucket of tricks to make it easier, but in the end, there are not shortcuts for a quality product. You have to make the time to make it work. if you can't find the time to make YOUR resume right, why should an employer think you are going to give it your all at work? Even when it's a "sure thing," or you "know the hiring manager," do you really want to have your first impression with a new company be a half-assed project?

These are just the basics, so use the power of the internet and look for other resources to guide you.  There are blogs for specific industries, tips for specific positions, and more. Leverage articles on Monster.com, Forbes, Linked In, etc. Look at resume templates (dozens of them) and pick the right one for your situation.

Be proud of your resume. If you are proud of it, you did it right.

thedakar
Quote

“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.” 
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

A year ago @xJediDadx and myself took on the challenge of being the caretakers of DHO. You can read more about that whole process in this blog post. A year has passed; what has changed if anything? Well, that's what we are gonna look at!

(and before you freak out - DHO isn't closing 🙂 )

Bring out Your Dead!

DHO was a force to be reckoned with in 2015. Registrations were reaching dozens per week, posts by the hundreds. Our WoT clans were growing and expanding; the website provided a hub for those clans to swap tips and share stories.  Things were clicking, the place was a buzz of activity! DHO was a fantastic hub for all things dad and it stayed that way for years.  Over time, the activity slowed down. No worries. Registrations slowed, but the site was still alive. Slowly but surely, change was happening. DHO was in trouble. We knew it, but we didn't know how bad it was.

Then I had to go and look at all the metrics! Like an doctor showing you an x-ray, there it was in picture form. The degeneration was too easily seen. All the signs pointed to the fact that DHO would be dead in a year. Its been a good run, dads, but at some point you gotta put the animal out of it misery....

 

I'm Not Dead Yet! 

It was a sobering time, let me tell you. All the metrics said we would be dead by now, but since you are reading this you know DHO didn't die! It transformed like a phoenix from the ashes and returned to its former glory!  

Okay, that's not true either. Rather we resisted complete collapse; we stabilized. For those that like pictures, here are the comparisons:

Member Activity - Our member activity was on a significant downward slide.  

historicactivity.png

How did we do? You see that hump over the "2019"? That's a jump in activity! That's growth baby! You see how it then starts to slide back down? That's "not growth."  

MemberActivityAllTime.PNG

New Posts - You see that hump over the "2019"? That's a jump in activity! That's growth baby! You see how it then starts to slide back down? That's "not growth."  

historicposts.png

 

NewPostsAllTime.PNG

How did we do? You see that hump over the "2019"? That's a jump in activity! That's growth baby! You see how it then starts to slide back down? That's "not growth."  

Yes, I repeated myself.

And I could repeat it twice more for sent messages and for registrations.... So basically, all we did was delay the inevitable, right?

 

I am Feeling Much Better!

Actually, we did more than just delay the inevitable.  Our reach and influence actually grew... just not directly on dadshideout.com. What am I talking about?

analytics active users.PNG

The image above is from Google Analytics. In March I took some time to go through many of DHO's web pages and redo some of the code; I gave Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a shot.  Now, I only had youtube videos and blog posts to guide me, but the return was worth the investment. With the changes done in by April (and I was now fully engaged in a new job) DHO started popping up in more searches online.  This drove more traffic our way. Most importantly, we picked up a dozen or so new dads that are now "long term users."

In the last 6 months we have seen over 5000 different visitors! From that a few dads discovered us and decided we were the place for them - mission accomplished!

google analytics look back.PNG

 

I think I'll Go for a Walk. I Feel Happy!

Here's perhaps the most interesting bit - more dads access dadshideout.com from their phones than from the laptops/desktops! The access has shifted to mobile devices; and it shifted FAST:

In the last year, dads looked at dadshideout.com on their computers 2/3s of the time (and the longer you go back, the more regular computers were used)

analytics devices.PNG

 

In the last 7 days, less than half of dads visited using their laptop/desktop.... Tablets and phones are the majority now:

analytics last 7.PNG

Today (the day I post this) Phones where actual 51.2% of devices used to access DHO!

So, if we are getting more hits, more visitors, and lots of mobile usage, where's the beef? That for the next post (hint - discord.PNG )

 

The Man in the Mirror

Let us consider the quote at the beginning of this post:

“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.” 
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

DHO is always gonna be DHO. DHO is also always changing. So stay tuned as we take a look at what some of those changes are and what the means for the future of DHO!

 

 

 

thedakar

Life - It's a Killer!

It has been an interesting half year, let me tell you! New job, new activities, new classes, change, change, change! It started to rain in January and it just kept pouring until June! I am sure you know the feeling - as Dads I think we all struggle with it.  I am talking about:

Work & Life BalanceWORK & LIFE BALANCE!

It can be hard to balance work and life. Many factors to weigh and many pressures to resist while being distracted by dozens of tasks.... How are we to try and even consider balance? Well, in light of my (tentative, LOL) return after a nearly 6 month hiatus I figured what better topic to talk about than work & life balance!

Now, work can be many things. For some Dads "work" might be "chores" or "hobbies," rather than traditional employment. It could be homeschooling your children. It could be caring for a relative. Work is generally a task that needs to happen in order to ensure sufficient resources for a pleasant life. 

"Life" is the ability to enjoy the fruits coming from "work." Life is relaxing with friends, good meals, vacations, hobbies, gaming, engaging with our children and other family. Its the stuff we look back on and say, "That's what it's all about."

The trick, which I am sure you know, is figuring out how much work you need and how much life you can afford! If we could, I am pretty sure most of us would choose to just live all the time. But sadly, my wealth doesn't support such goals. At least, not yet 😉. So if I can't live all day, I guess that means I got to work some. 

Luckily, I rather enjoy my work.  So it makes going to work no nearly as painful as some jobs in my past. Maybe that's you right now; work sucks. I feel for you. I hope to write up a few blogs on ways to help find opportunities to find better work. But today, we just need to find balance. 

So how do we do that?

By setting BOUNDARIES and RULES!

You know, those things you set for your children and tell them they can't do certain things? Yah, they work on adults, too! The trick to finding balance is setting boundaries and rules. Of course, setting these ain't easy. Boundaries are often discarded because of discomfort or guilt. Rules get tossed because you break it a few times and it seems too much work to make it stick. But you are a Dad! This isn't the first time where a rule was ignored and then re-established (looking at you "no electronics on the weekend until your chores are done." Don't think I forgot about you!).

Dakar's Boundaries and Rules for Dad:

Plot Personal Time - This is actually a bunch of things rolled into one; but let's focus on family and self. Each member of your family needs three to four events per week with you. Some of those can be group events, but at least one even each week needs to be one on one if possible. Events could be dinner, game night, or walking to the park. Maybe it's sitting on the couch and watching a movie with popcorn together. During these events, put the phone and tablets away. Focus on being present. 

Make three to four events per week for events with yourself... you need time too. Some of the is direct self care; physical, mentel, or spiritual. The rest is just decompression and relaxation; gaming, sports (watching or playing), reading, or whatever other hobbies you enjoy. Of course, nothing says you can't mix it up and do self time with others - poker night, clan battles, etc.

Set Work Hours - Depending on your particular field, this can be tough. Still, you need to do it. The least you need to do is find a way to make family time disconnected from work time. Find three to four times a week per person where you can turn off the phone and pay attention to them. If you can't do that, finding balance is still possible, but you need to make sure that you are taking advantage of every opportunity when work leaves you alone to focus on family and self. 

I could write more, but in the end I think it comes down to priorities and long term goals. I never met an old man who wished he add earned more overtime. I have met the man who wished for just one extra minute with his family.  

Make exercise a MUST DO - This is my worst offender right now. When things pile up exercise time becomes "time to get things done." Which means there are still things to do (cause there is never enough time!) and I am not exercising.

Unless you work a job that keeps you moving all day, you NEED exercise. Especially if you work 40 hours or more at a desk... Otherwise you may not live long enough to enjoy life after the desk! Harsh, but true! So make sure you are getting in your exercise. Some cheats to this are making SOME exercise part of your family and self time. Even a simple walk around the park is better than not. Walking with family is even better - help instil positive exercise ethics in them and yourself! Just make sure that you don't make all family time exercise time...each deserves some time on its own.

Be Realistic - Know thy self. Don't go through this list and try and do everything perfectly today. Its gonna take time. Set small achievable goals. Haven't been exercising? Do some push-ups and sit-ups/crunches. Right now. Good. Now, when will you do that again? Why not when you wake up while the coffee is being made? Small steps. This week, if you don't normally do it, have a family dinner once week. Even if its take out. Just sit down in one place. For ten minutes. Say hi. That's enough. Once you get those ten minutes, got for eleven! The key is to try, fail and try again. 

Ask for Help - This ties into "Be realistic." Help comes from all different sources; friends, family, co-workers, DHO. Ask for help in setting boundaries. Ask friends and coworkers not to call during family dinner or family game night. Work with supervisors to set up exercise time before, during or after work - sell them on how healthy workers cost less in injuries, insurance and down time! Ask that friend who does all the stuff how they do it and try out some of their suggestions. Google "how do I find work life balance" and give some of those tips a try. Whatever it is, get the help you need to make this work.

Manage Your Mind - Things are never going to be perfectly smooth all the time. You need to be resilient to change. Self-help books on building a resilient mindset can do wonders.  THere are some great podcasts and youtube video series out there for inspiration, mindfulness and self care. WHen fear or self doubt happen, you need to take time to address it. Your emotions can get in your way if they aren't kept in check; both good and bad! 

Set Long Term Goals - What does 5 years from now look like? What does 10 or 20 years look like? Does that plan allow for work life balance? If not, is the plan worth it? If so, how will you manage until then?

Re-evaluate regularly - Life is what happens to you while you are making plans. Not sure who said it first, but I find it far too accurate. Unexpected child, new job (or lost job), natural disaster, new friends and family; all of this will mean that a new balance needs to be established. This isn't a one size fits all thing. Your balance is going to be unbalanced at some point. Make sure you make time to check!

Set Time for Finances - I put this last, but don't let that fool you. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to build balance. If you don't know what you can afford in terms of balance, how can you ever hope to achieve it? Make sure you are looking at your income, bills, charges, and expenditures at least once a month. Check to make sure you didn't sign up for a free trial and it turned into a monthly bill. Do you go overboard last week on movie tickets? Or maybe its time to consider preparing for and asking for a raise or maybe look for a new job opportunity. 

If you can't control your finances, they WILL control you. Make sure to keep on top of your finances as best you can and this will have a huge influence on your ability to balance work and life. 

Start Small - 80/20 Rule - 80% of the effect comes for 20% of the events. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle Just a few small changes can make huge rewards. Make a few small boundaries and rules and see what happens. You might be surprised how much impact it can have on your work life balance!

thedakar

Gillette & Toxic Masculinity

A Positive Message or an Attack on Men?

If you read the news or participate in social media, you have no doubt seen the phrase "toxic masculinity." If you haven't, the concept is simple on the face of it: behaviors and expectations of what a "real man" is that cause or increase likelihood of harm for self and/or others.  The is an ad produced by Gillette that has taken the internet and news media by storm in the last two days that attempts to highlight "toxic masculinity." Here's the rub: what the hell does that mean? Why do we even care?

Why Dads Should Care

Boys or girls, biological, step or adopted, uncle, grandpa or just mentorship-related; we influence children and adults through our interactions and through our value systems. These value systems are held in close connection to our self identification. We define ourselves through our values, and our values should influence our actions. As we hold these values so closely, we tend to try and pass them on to others. If the values have served us well (or more accurately, when we perceive that the values have a positive influence on our lives) we want share our beliefs so others can have our success. What if our values are actually holding us back or causing other harm? That is the reason why we should care about this "toxic masculinity" discussion.  

It is far too complicated cover all of this in a single post, but lets take a quick look at what is going on in this ad and what we can do; perhaps more importantly - should we do anything?

Gillette - The "Mens" Company that Jumped into the Discussion

In the last two days, my news feed has been swamped by reports and discussion on this advertisement by Gillette (a company that makes razors and other personal care products for both men and women) which "calls out" the "toxic" behaviors of men. I suggest you watch it for context for the rest of this post.

Gillette "Toxic Masculinity" Advertisement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPmuEyP3a0

Welcome back. How are you feeling? Happy? Sad? Confused? Angry? I felt all these things. It is a complicated and emotional topic. Look at the stats on the video (again this is just the last 2 days):

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The comments on the video are quite "enlightening" as well.  Wade into the comments with care - they are not known for their "depth" but they give a good reading on a commentators emotional state at the time.  
The initial gut reactions are telling. Large numbers of men feel attacked and respond negatively. Why wouldn't they? The question is: Are the feelings justified?

What is masculinity?

Hell of a question, isn't it? I will take a stab at, though.

Think of belief and action systems that are often held up as "good and virtuous" or as the highest forms of "masculinity": a "classic/old school gentleman," the "chivalrous knight," or the "hardworking father." All of these share common threads - responsibility & bravery among them. Think of the actions and believes these archetypes, the typical example of a thing, tend to have: kindness and consideration to others, forgiveness, mentorship/leadership, resoluteness, protectiveness, and strength in the face of adversity. (Disagree? Feel free to say so in the comments!) Each of these requires one to have both a sense of responsibility to act and bravery in order to live up to these concepts.

With this idea of "masculinity" in mind, does the commercial attack those things? Spoiler alert: no. The ad doesn't attack any of these concepts; rather it highlights and encourages these concepts. I am thinking of breaking it down scene by scene but that a bit long for today - let me know if you would be interested in more commentary on this ad.

So if the ad was mostly positive, why so much backlash? 

Where it went Wrong (for me)

I can identify nearly every scene, but the one that stood out the most for me was the scene with the two boys 30 seconds into the ad. The narrator says "making the same old excuses" and the video cuts to two young boys "fighting" (more on that in a moment), then the dads standing idly by the grill repeating "boys will be boys" over and over again.  The narrator continues, "but something finally changed," and a news caster talks about accusations of sexual assault. It was at this point that I had my negative emotions.

The preceding scenes made me sad - bullying, sexual harassment, party culture, the "sitcom dad" attacking the maid, the board room guy using power and authority to silence the woman and "assume" her thoughts - these are situations that I believe represent harmful beliefs and actions. I was on board and supporting the message thus far; there are elements in our culture (and specifically in the culture of men) that are wrong and need to be confronted. 

Then the "fight scene." I became confused. I fell attacked and my mind went into defensive thoughts. I have two young boys and they do this all the time. Am I a bad parent? The narrator set it up - "making the same old excuses." What excuse am I making for my two sons when they fight? "Boys will be boys." I believe that boys DO have certain tenancies, and whats wrong with that. "Finally something changed," "sexual assault," "sexual harassment," berated me, the vision of my two sons wresting on the ground still in my mind. I became angry, and it clouded my view of the ad completely. Here's why:

Attack on a Core Belief

The scene, unlike the rest, lacked clarity.  We see the two boys, of similar size and age, start to tussle.  No context. Just a yell and down they go. From my perspective, I see two "boys being boys." To me, that is a thing - my sons like to wrestle with each other. They love to wrestle with their dad! This sort of play is not negative or "toxic," not any more than baby chimps or lion cubs tussling in nature. It gives an opportunity for my children to play and discover things, learn lessons, and connect with each other. Such play fighting or sport cannot be the entirety of a persons existence, as that would have a negative effect for sure, but in measured amounts, it serves to be a teaching tool; teaching about self, others and the world. 

A child has a toolbox of skills they can use solve conflict. The younger one is, the far fewer the available tools. One of the earliest tools is physical action. That physical action can take many forms: one could walk away, one could sit still, or one could attack another. The youngest attacks his brother on a regular basis, as the oldest is quite astute in driving the little one to "madness." And generally, I let them fight. Why?

It teaches them something. I am not completely laissez faire a la "Lord of the Flies" - I am monitoring my children. I am not stepping in right away though. If I step in EVERY TIME they have a physical confrontation my sons learn one thing: if we fight a parent will stop us. While this seems like a good lesson, but is it? To stop every fight at the earliest sign of conflict prevents them from exploring conflict resolution in a most critical situation - after violence has started. What happens when we apply this to the larger world, where there are no parents to step in at all times? My sons do NOT learn to avoid physical confrontation, the learn to avoid getting caught. They do NOT learn that physical solutions often extract more in cost than in reward, only that violence will make parents become involved. They do NOT learn how to de-escalate violence or violent action, they learn others will de-escalate the situation for them. They might never learn there ARE times when violence is necessary, and that even in those cases, there is a cost. 

By allowing them to fight (supervised) they are actually developing their ability to make judgments and to reach agreements.  They learn (the eldest already knows, as he does it on purpose) that you CAN push someone to violence through non-violence. There is a level of teasing, harassment, or just plain "button pushing" that will make violence justified in the mind of another. That is not the same thing as saying the justice is justified - only that it becomes justified to the other person. That is a VERY important lesson. It re-enforces civility and respect. They also learn that violence has consequences. Not just physically, though physical consequences have occurred; bruises, scrapes, bumps and cuts have all happened.

More often than not the consequence is social, not physical. It could be a consequence within their relationship; they are far less likely to participate with one another after a significant fight. Less likely to share both physical possessions and knowledge. They are less likely to be trusted. It causes all sorts of problems. I notice the fight and I remember for the next time they ask me for something and then I remind them that those that fight do not get rewards. All of this helps teach that violence has long term consequences. 

Justified vs Unjustified Violence

I have heard people say " no violence is justified," and I completely disagree. There are times when extreme violence is justified: self defense and the defense of others being the central pillar of that belief. More importantly, there is "unjustified" violence, and I think that was what Gillette was trying to highlight in their advertisement. They just did it poorly - there are time of justified violence and without context it is impossible to determine if this either of the cases.  

Indiscriminate violence is bad, we can all agree. Some violence might be justifiable - but how do we learn that? Through conflict as a child TEMPERED by the guidance and wisdom of adults. Interaction is key - to never intervene is tantamount to abuse, but some risk must be taken in order to allow experiences to happen. Once those experiences happen, it is our responsibility to provide context beyond the immediate situation so that they can learn to apply the experience to the larger world. 

Where else can we see justified violence? In sports. In many ways sports are the way in which  modern societies find a way to allow physical action to manifest itself in a positive manner. Extreme examples are the martial arts (MMA, Boxing, Karate), less extreme is football, wrestling or rugby, but these are violence, make no mistake about it. What makes these justified vs unjustified violence? Agree upon rules and consent to engage in the activity. That is the lessons we need to teach, and by having "zero tolerance" for all physical violence we take away the ability to have learning experiences. Without these experiences (and the guidance from our role models) we cannot understand the world and how we should interact in it.

Gillette Actually Gets it Right - They just did it Wrong.

A minute later we see the resolution of the fight - the dad steps in and says "that's not how we treat each other, okay?" Small problem, i can hear the kids giggling. Maybe that's my subconscious hearing what I want to hear, but I don't hear complaints, screams or protest.  I hear two kids having fun in a physical way. Two boys being boys. That's what touched the nerve. I won't lie, it took some introspection to fully understand the "simple" feeling of anger at this scene. It takes introspection and self reflection to unpack all of that.  Going though the exercise is good and has allowed me to better grasp concepts I am teaching to my children.

If Gillette wanted the ad to be a conversation piece, they have succeeded. Overall, the message is positive and one that dads can support.  Kindness and consideration to others, forgiveness, mentorship/leadership, resoluteness, protectiveness, and strength in the face of adversity. Each scene in the ad highlights at least one of these concepts as being positive (or conversely, a scene shows that lacking these virtues leads to negative results) and that is a huge takeaway.

Finally Thought

Is that the only takeaway? The idea that some ways of acting are bad? Hardly. To me there is a much larger message that is getting ignored in this discussion of outrage - positive male role models are critical to the development of strong men.  That's for a different post though.  

Let me know in the comments below what virtues you are teaching your children or mentorees; or let me know if you think the commercial was actually an attack and where it went wrong. 

Airbornebob

Homeschooling - The Stay at Home Dad Solution

    When you hear someone say, "We're Homeschooling our child," what images go through your head?  For me it was kids running around in homespun clothes, eating organic oatmeal out of hand-carved bowls.  But upon further inspection, I realized homeschooling is an option that fit our situation perfectly for our family, and we didn’t have to learn how to operate a loom or anything!  

    A little background on me first. I was 56 when I left the workforce consisting of 3 different careers (Military, Restaurant Management, and Radio Production) and my wife became a Nurse Practitioner.  Our daughter was entering the 2nd Grade in a school system that was below average on many levels. Good friends of ours were homeschooling their 4 kids and showed us how simple it is to get started. I have the temperament and patience to be a teacher (I had often thought of becoming one) and now I had the time to do it!  

Requirements to Legally Homeschool

    In many states there are just a few rules or guidelines, this site is a good source to learn about your state. : https://hslda.org/content/laws/  In my state, Tennessee,  the main requirements are 4 hours a day for 180 days a year. More on that in a minute. Most states require that you become a member of some sort of umbrella organization that reports attendance and grades to your local school board.  These can vary from stand-alone organizations to church groups and the like. For a nominal fee, membership allows you to obtain the next step: Curriculum. Sounds daunting, but really simple, "curriculum" is what your child will be studying.

     There is a plethora of curriculums available from Kindergarten to High School provided by your umbrella organization, or from numerous agencies and companies.  A quick Google search will give you a good start. I chose Veritas Press  for most of the subjects I teach; Math, English, and Spelling.   

How does it Work?

   Now that on itself is simple to follow, but the real joy, and source of so much flexibility, is the 4 hours a day/180 days a year requirement.  It can be any four hours, consecutively, broken up, at any time. Is your child into sports? Practice and games count towards those four hours. Shopping with the kiddos at Walmart?  Have them add up the total, guess what, that counts! Go to Sunday school?...that counts too! There is soo much we do that can count towards the school day.

    It's the flexibility that has proven to be the so gratifying as a parent.  You don't need school uniforms, I call our school PJ Academy because that's our school uniform, there are no In-Service days, you can pick your vacations and time off.  No need for Doctors notes and there are no fundraising candy, wrapping paper or lawn chairs to sell!!

    And the very best part of it all?  Spending quality time with your kids!  There is nothing so rewarding than to see an alien concept (Math or Adjectives) being understood by your child!!  You can decide what and how your child is taught. You are in control. Is that to say you can skip math altogether, teach Zorastic Fundamentalism instead of science… No.  Keep in mind that as long as you stay at or above the minimum requirements for the state, you good to go.  Working with your umbrella organization will get you started in the right direction.

Details, Details, Details

In future articles, I will discuss the issues brought up by the naysayers...OOhhh your child will never be socialized....What about standardized tests?....  What about team sports?

I will happily cover those topics soon! All in good time, all in good time.

thedakar

Addresses. When is the last time you thought about your address? How about all you addresses for the last 3 years? Five years? TEN YEARS? I have. Especially in the last few hours... the background check I am filling out wants every address I have lived at for the last 10 years AND someone who can verify that I lived there.  Luckily, I have a folder. A very special folder. A folder that contains all the little tidbits of my pasts lives that I don't keep i my head any more.  It's my "Occasionally Super High Important Tidbits" Folder.

Yep, the "OSHIT" Folder. Aptly named as I have regularly face-palmed myself and said this aloud when trying to recall the information form memory.

So why talk about this? Here I sit - 3 hours into filling out a background check for a potential "government" job - and I realize, "Damn, I'm lucky to have my OSHIT Folder." Without it I would be calling my mom and family, looking through old emails, or find old post to remember every address of the last ten years. And then I remember that my dad never taught me this - I learned this on my own...

Professionally, I do occasional client work as a Life and Career Coach as a part time "side hustle." I used to teach transitioning skills professionally, but that opportunity has moved on, and so have I. The information and skills a received in that area are really valuable, and you see just how little people know about "looking for work." Its not their fault - looking for work is usually not something we think about as needing to have a skill in as we (hopefully) don't need to look to often. And when we do look for work, we go with "age old, tried and true wisdom" so we are all set, right? What could go wrong? Well, lots, and not being told to have an OSHIT folder is one of the many things I now coach clients on regularly.

Things I wish I Knew

This information (addresses over the last ten, or even twenty, years) is the sort of thing you don't know you need! One of best things about being a dad is passing on lessons you have learned to the next generation. In that simple act, you give a jump start to that person, helping get them to the next level. No amount of "now, listen your old man" can replace going out and doing things on your own and learning the lessons for yourself, there are many ways to reduce time wasted and stress encountered if you only listed. 

The folder is useful for more than just work applications. If you want to rent, take out a mortgage, or any number of other "big" life events, the information in the folder can be invaluable and save you lots of time and stress. Not to mention awkward phone calls asking your sister when her wedding date was - the one I missed because I was overseas and couldn't attend that she still holds against me... just a little... (Yah, I needed that info for my background check and I cringed! It asked for her name(s) and when she changed her name I needed the date.  FML )

What's in the Box, er, Folder?

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"Life is a crappy teacher. It gives the test first, then you learn the answers."

So what's in the folder? Tidbits; little bits of knowledge that i have learned might be important to have in the future but are generally hard to remember and/or will be hard to find later. A perfect example is "previous home & mailing addresses." What can/should go in YOUR folder?

  • Address going back to Age 18
    • bonus points if you have landlord contact info or someone NOT a family member that can verify you lived there.
  • Employers/Companies
    • Physical Company Address
    • Phone Number & Email
  • Positions Held
    • Title & Dates
    • bonus points for a description of what you did
  • Supervisors of each Position
    • Name
    • Phone number & Email
  • References - Keep these up to date!
    • Friends/Coworkers going back at least 10 years
    • Addresses, Phone numbers & Emails
  • Car Registrations
    • Type/Model, VIN & License Plate #s
  • Credit Card Accounts / Loans
    • Account #
    • When you Opened it & Closed Accounts 
  • Personal Phone Numbers
    • bonus points for when you had them
  • Family Information
    • Mom, Dad, Siblings, Children
    • Dates of Birth, Places of Birth, and contact info

This is not a huge amount in terms of words, maybe a few pages, but the wealth of the information is huge. I also realize that the information may go out of date - specifically contact information, phone numbers and emails. In short, don't stress too much. Write down what it was at  the time and update it if you know it changes. In most cases people like to see you have the information to put in the spots, and if it is a background check, they will use what is accurate to do the check. Its not your fault things change. Just make sure your references are people you still talk to...

Because the size of this stuff is rather small my folder is actually a digital, not a physical, document.  I email my self a copy each time I add something and I save a copy on my computers and back up drive (when I remember to do so...) so worse case is I might lose the most recent information (the easiest information to recollect, thankfully) so not a big deal.

Start Now - Keep it Up to Date

I use Microsoft OneNote to organize my OSHIT Folder, along with many other bits of information. It syncs between my computers, tablets, and phone. You can password protect sensitive information on OneNote, so that's a huge plus. If you aren't sure, just keep a paper copy in you safe and in an actual folder. 

Okay, now it's your turn! Do you have an OSHIT Folder? Do you thin its a good idea? What advice would you give that I missed? Comment below! 

thedakar
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"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."
The Red Queen to Alice,Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll. 

2

    Have you ever heard of "The Red Queen Hypothesis"? It states that organisms must constantly adapt and evolve in order to simply survive. This theory has been applied to areas beyond biology - business, exercise, education to name a few. It also applies to dadshideout.com and other online communities. Remember "MySpace"? When you fail to adapt to the changing conditions, you don't just stop expanding, you actually shrink until you die. It seems no one can avoid the Red Queen - DHO is no different. Unless DHO adapts to changing conditions and evolves to be a better organization, DHO will follow in the steps of Myspace. 

Changing of the Guard
    In July of this year (2018), there was a huge change here at dadshideout.com. You may not have noticed it, but the custodianship of the website changed hands. With the changing of the guard came new views and new ideas. It also came with a realization. If dadshideout.com continued on its current course, the site would be dead in a year. So come along with “The Good, The Dad, and The Ugly” as we take a look at the past, the present and the future of DHO.

    The current custodians are @thedakar and  @xJediDadx . They are the current Head Administrators for dadshideout.com and the DHO Discord Server. Previously, @Aftrthought051 and  @MagmaFlow were the lead administrators with @joey791 and @Pinmonkey001 being invaluable supporters of DHO with other administrative duties such as TeamSpeak. This team has been in place since the inception of DHO and had done a fantastic job of keeping DHO and open and welcome place for dads. Yet, 8 years after the doors of the current forum opened to its first members, the original admin team was feeling the pressure.  The passion was there, but the time to devote to DHO was, understandably, waning. Action was needed.

    The call for volunteers went out in June of 2018. Who was willing to take the responsibility of keeping the "lights on"  and be the new Admins of DHO? The responsibility is a big one. Since October of 2010, there have been over 2300 dads that have joined the ranks of DHO. Tens of thousands of posts have been written in the forums. Dozens of clans have been created with “dadshideout” or “DHO” in their titles. DHO is more than a website - it is an entire online ecosystem. It goes far beyond a gaming clan; it is a place for dads to find advice, receive mentorship, and commiserate with other dads about being a dad. 

    With the bat signal lit, xjedidadx and thedakar threw their hats into the ring. The council of admin dads conferred - who would be the chosen ones? After much deliberation, it was decided that thedakar and xJediDadX were to be given the honor and privilege of being the new administrators. Shortly thereafter, the accounts were transferred, the passwords given, and the keys handed over. With that, DHO had two new Dads at the helm. 

    So there you go. All done, right?

    Hardly.

Something Rotten in The State of Denmark
    One of the first things thedakar did was play around with all the options on the forum and found the holy grail of number nerds - analytics software. Analytics is the computational analysis of data or statistics aka: math that tells you things. The good news is that the math came as pictures (graphs). The bad news is that the math pictures were not saying good things:

DHO Member Activity is Down:

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The volume of posts is down:

historicposts.png

Messages between Members is down:

historicmessages.png

New Membership is down:

historicregistrations.png

    In short, DHO was dying.  DHO, by all metrics, has been shrinking from its peak in 2015, but the current trend was sobering. If the rate of decline continued, the site would be a ghost town within a year.  With no one around, there would be no reason to spend the money keeping the site open and the legacy of DHO would disappear. So the new admins declared that something had to be done and change was coming!

    The old admins wished them luck and hoped for the best. The old admin team had tried to reverse the decline, so let's be clear that they are in no way to blame. Some of the long time DHO members shrugged their internet shoulders and said, “it has been tried before - good luck.” The reactions were rather lackluster - measured at best. The admins were volunteers, the decline had been happening for a long time, and what could be done on a non-existent budget, anyway? The odds seemed stacked against success. 

The Council of Elrond
    In August, thedakar put out the call to form a team of DHO members. Armed with his graphs showing the declining metrics, thedakar sought to get the experience and diversity needed to look at the problem, present solutions and debate the way ahead. The team would be made of long time DHO members, more recent dads, gamer dads, non-gamer dads, and dads of all ages. A dozen of dads raised their hands and offered to take part. The team was formed to tackle the problem. The idea was simple - figure out how to revitalize DHO. The answers were far more complicated. 

    This will be a multi-part series where we walk you through the DHO Revitalization discussion, the lessons learned AND ( most importantly ) look for your feedback on the way ahead!

    Stay tuned to “The Good, The Dad, and The Ugly,” to learn more about DHO and its way ahead.

thedakar

    Hey, you! With the shirt that's all wrinkled up and billowing out like a sail in a strong wind! Want a tip on how to look good? Shirt stays, my man.

    Wanna look sharp? Use shirt stays. Tired of your shirt coming untucked when you sit down? Use shirt stays. Got an interview? Wearing a suit? Wanna look like a million buck? You got it - use shirt stays! 

    Shirt stays are something I take for granted. I learned about them from the retired Marine instructor of my Junior Reserve Officer Training Course (JROTC) in high school and have used them ever since. I joined the military (shirt stays practically a must use) a short while after high school and it wasn't until I was in college at age 25 that I realized - most men don't know what a shirt stay is!

    These “kids” wear wearing their slacks and button shirts, but looked like they slept in what they were wearing! At first, I chalked it up to young kids not giving a “care” and moved on. It wasn’t until I was doing a panel discussion one day when a fellow male student asked me, "How do you get your shirt to stay ironed even after you sit down?" 

    At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about. My mind digested his inquiry as literal: Silly kid, you can’t iron a shirt you are wearing… Ohhh!  The light bulb went off and I realized that because of my shirt stays, every time I stood up, my shirt was instantly pulled down, removing any sign of wrinkles. 

    “Shirt stays,” I say.

    “Shirt whats?” he replies. I tilt my head slightly to the side the way a dog does when it hears a strange noise. How can he not know what a shirt stay is? I pull up the cloth on the right pant leg to reveal my shirt stay.

    “This thing,” snapping it to emphasize the device. He shook his head left and right - he had never seen one! And thus began the teaching of the young mind on the gloriousness that is the shirt stay.

Why Use Shirt Stays
    In a word: Professionalism.

    Looking sharp is universally associated with competence and professionalism. Studies even show that dressing well changes the way you think - you think more abstractly and increases perspective! (https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/when-clothing-style-influences-cognitive-style.html#.WTmBucaZNBw) That old adage, “You only have one chance to make a first impression,” is true - and it is becoming more and more important as our lives become faster and faster paced. 

    Shirt stays can also make clothing more comfortable as it helps keep your shirt (and sometimes your socks) in the right place, rather than bunching up and being a nuisance. You don’t have to starch a shirt as much with a shirt stay if you have a reasonable amount on tension, it helps “pull” creases away. Shirt stays also help you with posture and core engagement. No, seriously. If you have your shirt stay balanced, you can tell when you are slouching when standing or when you relax your core and let your stomach “hang out.” 

Which Type to Purchase
    There are different styles of stays - single stays, stirrup stays, clasp stays, garter stays, two lead and three lead, cross lead…. Take my advice, if you are going to get only one type of stay, get these:


    I wore these in the military and I wear them in the office. The stirrup style means I can wear them with any sock, pant or shoe style. If your shirt doesn’t need to be laundered, just slip the stirrup off and hang the shirt. Next time you wear it, slip the stirrup on and button up!  The plastic grips on the clasps prevent damage to your shirts and you can adjust the strength of the grip by bending (ever so gently) the clasp piece with a set of plyers.  

    If you are worried about the shirt stay showing when you pant leg rises, you could instead go with these:


    These will also act as sock garters to keep your socks pulled up snuggly, preventing saggy socks and raw heels. 

How to Use Shirt Stays
    To attach the stays, take one shirt stay and set the clasps on the shirt first. On the shirt, clip one clasp about a hands’ width forward of the shirt’s side seam and the other about a hands’ width behind the side seam. The side seam runs from your armpit to the bottom edge of the shirt. Using the ones I recommend above, you should now have a “Y” shape when you let the shirt stay hang down, the tail of the “Y” hanging along the outside edge of your thigh. Repeat attaching the remaining stay on the other side of the shirt. Once attached, pull firmly (not a jerk, but a tug) down on the clasps to make sure they are holding the shirt correctly.  If they slip off, you can increase the grip by gently bending the arm as shown above.  

    Now attach the bottom of the stay. With the stirrups, you slip them on your feet like a sock with the band resting in the arch of your foot. If using clasps, attach the clasp to the outside of the sock. Give those a firm tug. If they come off, adjust as needed to get a solid grip. Stand up. The stays should be pulling the shirt down, gathering any excess material toward the outside of your hips while making the front and back look smooth. If you don’t have any of that, maybe you don't have any tension!  

    To set the tension (how hard it tugs the shirt) of the stay you need to for the buckle. On my recommended stays, there is a little metal buckle that grips the stay when flat and releases the stay when you lift it up. Some fancy styles have buttons, others have snap fittings. Move the stay tension buckle up or down until you find the stays are tugging comfortably on the shirt. I wear mine with enough tension that I can feel it lightly in my shoulders - you find what works for you through trial and error. The higher the tension, the “crisper” the shirt will look, but the more “unnatural” the shirt will feel. Also, if you go too high with the tension you risk having the clasps work loose no matter how much you bend the clasp for gripping strength. Too little and you might as well not wear the shirt stays….

    Finally, put on your pants! Stand up and check that the stays are working. Bend to your left at the waist, then straighten up.  Did the shirt go flat or did it just bunch up?  If it bunched up, you need more tension. Sit down, stand up.  Did the back of the shirt “retuck” itself? Good, you have it set right.

Dad's Secret Fashion Tip
    So there you have it. The “secret” of sharply dressed professionals everywhere! You can use these on any tucked shirt and I promise you the difference is night and day. 

    Oh, one last thing - if you wear an undershirt (which I highly suggest) tuck the undershirt into your underwear, then your dress shirt over your underwear inside your pants.  

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thedakar

    I love writing.  Writing is a definite passion of mine.  I have a few publications I am quite proud of, ranging from “Letters to the Editor” in my college newspaper to a full e-book. My niche is generally in the realm of military veterans and their transition into civilian life; resumes, work, life, benefits, and so on.  I am also a career, benefits, and life coach which leads me to do a lot of research and writing for my clients.  I am now proud to be a writer on dadshideout.com’s new blog, “The Good, The Dad, and The Ugly,” so all my experience is finally being put to good use!  With having typed hundreds of thousands of words (Have I typed a million words?) for business and pleasure, I have a pretty well established writing technique. I figured I would run through some of the things I do and use so you might be able to pick up and integrate something to make your writing easier!

    This first post will be about equipment - the physical stuff I hold or use when writing. I will explore software, environment, and other aspects in later posts.  I want to stress that this is MY stuff that I like. You should not go and buy anything because I say so! You might not like my style or techniques.  Still, it can be useful, as you can see if I have good ideas and then you can try them out to see what works best for you! So, on to writing equipment!

The Old School
    When you want to talk equipment, any craftsman or artist worth their salt is gonna tell you - start with the basics, start with the foundations, start with the time-proven! In this case, we are talking good old fashioned “pen and paper.”

Old School Paper Notebooks

I have two types of notebooks - the “carry with you anywhere” pocket version and the “writing at a table” size version. You also need a pen (or pencil). The trick with these is you need to train yourself to carry the pocket version like your wallet, keys, and cell phone. You need to have it with you when an idea strikes. I am certain that I will not remember my random “good ideas” and by writing them down I have a chance of developing them later. The table size version is for those time when I get tired of digital work or if using a digital device is not an option.  Watching a show with the wife, going to one of my kids' friends birthday parties… It should be large enough for some serious writing or to make thought webs, sketches, and so on.  

    For a writing implement, I prefer a pen. They are more durable in my pocket and less likely to be “useless” when I need them.  I could spend an hour or more walking up and down the pen aisles at the local craft store, admiring and testing pens, looking for the perfect fell on paper, the perfect fit in my hand. Sometimes, though, you go with your tried and true. From my time as a combat civil engineer, I became partial to “write anywhere” pens, specifically Fisher Brand; pocket version and normal size.  They write at any angle, and back when I was doing field work they are paired beautifully with the “Rite in the Rain” brand Notebooks I used. Honestly, I have considered having a “Rite in the Rain” Notebook and Fisher Pen in my shower! What, I get the best ideas in the shower, don’t you? I also use Bic pens (cheap, plentiful, easy to write with, no worries if they get lost of “borrowed”), so I am not a total pen snob!  My buddy likes the thick lead mechanical pencils  - whatever floats your boat!

    Notebooks are like pens, there are hundreds of types and you need to find what feels best to you. For the pocket version, I find that quality matters. With it being in a pocket and getting shuffled about day after day a cheap notebook is gonna disintegrate on you. Then again, when I started I used the bargain bin small spiral bound notebook with 30-50 pages.  I happen to like “Moleskine” brand 3.5 x 5.5 Inch Ruled notebooks. There are plenty of other similar styles too. I have used these super thin notebooks by TWONE  - they only have 30 sheets, but don’t take up any room at all. That makes them easy to carry around all the time. I have a tall single fold wallet and these will fit almost completely inside.

    For my “table size” version I go simple - 8x10.5 spiral bound notebook.  These take far less of a beating, so I don’t spend much time or thought on these. I went with the tried and true once again. I go with a spiral bound 100-page notebook.  It got me through high school, it got me through college, and I did all my research papers with these things, so why change what works? I like the larger size when I am bringing a backpack, a case or when working at home.  I prefer the spiral style so I can fold it completely if I need the space, or if I am writing on my lap while on the couch!

The New School
    I love my Microsoft Surface 3. It is my primary tool for whenever I am working on a writing project, to include “The Good, the Dad, and The Ugly.” While the keyboard on my desktop is a little more comfortable for long sessions of writing, the Surface 3 holds the role as the “inspiration” and “first draft” tool.  Once I tap out those first few hundred (or thousand) words, I take the data to my desktop for edits and polishing. 

My Surface 3

    Why start on the Surface? I love the portability of it, I can run the same software between the Surface and my desktop, and most importantly, the keyboard cover. The keyboard cover? Yes, the keyboard cover.  The feel of the keys as you depress them and the staccato clicks as you type are delightful. The damn thing is 5mm thick but it more enjoyable to type on them most laptops I have owned! It is enjoyable to work on, and that is important. If it isn’t enjoyable, you won’t do it or long if you have a choice… 

    The software interchangeability is nice, allowing me to work on the same software that I use on the desktop. This makes the workflow more streamlined; I don't have to spend time copy and pasting between systems and such. I transfer data between Surface and Desktop with a 64gb thumb-drive. I tried to use Microsoft OneDrive, but I found that taking the thumb-drive between computers worked better for me than making sure everything was synced up. If I am in a rush, I grab the thumb-drive; no need to turn on a computer, log on to the internet, and then sync.  I use the thumb drive as a removable hard drive - save and load from it.  If you are going to do work between multiple digital platforms, as I do, getting a system in place for transferring and tracking files is critical.

    Finally, the portability of the Surface makes the interchangeability useful. It is about the same size as a tablet. I have a case on mine to increase its durability - still comes in about half an inch thick.  Battery life is great - way better than my laptop. I get 4-6 hours of full video playback off a full charge, and I can type for 8 plus hours on reasonable brightness. The Surface 3 charges using a micro USB, so I can use the same charger as my phone if I need to. I can boot it up really fast - sub 20 seconds - which means I can turn it off completely to save battery. All this adds up to a relatively powerful, very portable, enjoyable to use writing tool. 

    You could also use a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard or a regular laptop. I used my laptop previously, but I have found being able to bring the Surface with me to more places is more useful than being able to do more varied tasks on the laptop. When the workflow progresses beyond words and basic editing, I step up my game to something more robust.

The Workhorse
    When all is said and done, I have way more equipment than I need. You could do everything on the Surface 3 and call it a day - I have and do from time to time. Still, when I am handling multiple projects, research, or online learning/teaching I need my dual monitor desktop.

Desktop with Dual Monitors

I became spoiled by multiple monitor setups during my time in the Air Force working as a Geo-spacial Engineer. The ability to put the main program on one screen and source material on the second was a godsend. No more alt-tabbing or manually clicking between views. When writing, I find the same is true - dual monitors allow more information to be up at the same time and reduce time spent flipping through windows.  

    The desktop also has the power to do full editing of audio, video, and much more. It has sufficient storage to keep everything centralized, but I have a backup drive… just in case! The best seat in my house (other than my recliner!) is my office desk chair which makes long sessions far more comfortable. I also have a keyboard I love and a speaker setup that allows me to play background music to keep my mind from getting too distracted by outside noise.

Always Evolving
    I have been using this equipment setup for about the last year and a half. Before I purchased the Surface 3 (second hand, I might add. Save your money where you can, right, dads?) I used a laptop from college. It was a 2013 model but it did everything I needed for writing, and it could even run a second monitor! When I used the laptop my setup was two things; paper notebooks and the laptop. Now that I have a more workspace, the current setup rewards me with better overall results by splitting the laptop into two different machines better suited for particular purposes. The Surface fills the portability and “drafting” niche while the desktop fills the editing and finishing niche. 

    I am sure over time my equipment will change again.  I know that I need to add in a camera to my equipment, as taking my own high-quality images for use on the blogs is something I would like to do.  Right now I get by using my cell phone, but that will only go so far.  Still, why spend money on perfect, when good enough will do?

    So there you have it. The equipment I use to get the words from my head to your eyes. I will be following this up with the software I use and then the process I use to bring it all together. If you have equipment that you use when writing and would like to chime in, comment below! I would love to hear what you use to get those words on the page; I might even borrow some of your good ideas!

thedakar

Dad's Hideout is proud to announce our new Blog's Name - Selected by a vote on dadshideout.com, the membership was faced with the incredibly hard decision of choosing the name they felt would best convey DHO style and inform readers about what they could find inside. So, after much thought and wringing of hands the vote was tallied and then recounted to ensure accuracy. Any last appeals were handled and the Gods smiled as the DHO Blog was christened:

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The Good, The Dad, and The Ugly 

What are you going to find on the blog? Anything and everything that dads overcome, think about, or struggle with. Dad's hobbies, passions, and fears.  No topic is off limits as dads deal with everything life throws their way - and as a dad, we deal with OTHERS lives as well! The lives of our children, our significant others, our parents and our friends all influence a dad’s life, so we plan to explore all of these areas. We will touch on home improvement, career improvement, and life improvement! We will talk about leisure and work, success and failures, and everything in between.

Also, please give @Airbornebob a round of applause for the name suggestion - he has won an Amazon Gift Certificate, the adoration and respect of his fellow dads (no guarantees on that) and, if he is willing, he will be the first dad interviewed for our "Get to Know DHO" feature as well! Thank you, Airbornebob for the suggestion, as your fellow dads thought it was the best out of twenty possible options.

Stay tuned, as I have a bunch of articles in the pipeline and we are prepping other dads to contribute! If you would like to become a writer for 'The Good, The Dad, and The Ugly' or would like to do you own blog series here at DHO fill out an application here.

thedakar

Save Hundreds - Go LED!

    Dad, when was the last time you had to yell, “turn off the lights - your wasting electricity!” I am sure even the non-dads remember having this told to them! You don't hear this as often in my house as it's not entirely true anymore! You see, I upgraded to LED lights throughout the house, and I use 1/5 the energy I did before. My math says I will save between $70-100 in lighting costs each year - and the electricity meter is agreeing with me!

    The switch wasn’t cheap, let me tell you! Retail, all the LED “bulbs” were about $100. Luckily, I had a coupon and bought bulk so I spent only $50ish out of pocket.  Still, the switch will save me money, even if I paid full retail. How? LED bulbs are so much more efficient than incandescent, halogen, or even fluorescent lighting. Remember those complaints about LED lighting being so “bright and cold”? How you can only get that “warm” color from incandescent or halogen? That is no longer the case at all… in fact you can choose different light warm depending on your needs. 

Should You Switch to LED?
    Short answer, yes. As in all things, the devil is in the details though! When should you switch, how much should you replace, and is it a cost-effective choice? Let's dive into these using my house as an example.

An LED Analysis:
    I recently moved into a new rental property.  The house had a mix of incandescent and halogen bulbs - no LED lamps at all. My kitchen and bathrooms had twelve 34 watt halogen spotlight fixtures alone! The two hallways had a 60w incandescent each, the living room has six 40w halogen dimmables , the dining room is two 60w dimmable incandescents, four bedrooms with a 40w halogen in each, and a 100w incandescent in the garage! If by some unholy event every light in the house was on at once - if we hosted a party, for example - that's
a 1.1 kilowatts:


houselights.JPG

What is 1.1 kilowatts?
    Let's go over some electrical terms - a kilowatt is a way of measuring the amount of electricity used.  Each electrical device you own has a wattage rating -
your cellphone charger, your computer, every light in your home.  A 100 watt light bulb uses 100 watts of electricity to work. Your cell phone charger is likely 5 watts. A common laptop might be 35-60 watts while a full gaming computer with multiple screens and sound system could run 400-600 watts or more! 

    Your electrical company charges you by the kilowatt-hour - kWh. A kilowatt-hour means using 1000 watts for one our of time. If you have 1000 watts of electrical devices running for 1 hour, you use 1 kWh of energy. You can also use 1 kWh by using a100 watt device for 10 hours. Take a 100 watt incandescent light bulb; if you left one on in the garage overnight (let's say 10 hours) that light would use 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity! 

How expensive if a kilowatt hour?
    The cost of electricity is dependent on where you live.  The average in the United States is about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. Where I live it is 17 cents per hour.  Hawaii is the most expensive at 26 cents per kWh and Louisiana is the cheapest at 8 cents per kWh. Check your local costs when you decide if LED makes sense for you! For this post, we will go with 17 cents an hour for my house.

    In the case of leaving a 100 watt light on overnight, it would cost me 17 cents on my electricity bill. 17 cents doesn’t seem like much, but what if it is a front entrance light? That could run every night for 10 hours - $5.10 out of my pocket to keep that lamp running for a month, or $62 bucks for the year.  The question is - should I replace the light bulb?

Costs of LED Replacement
    LED lamps are not cheap - at least not compared to buying an incandescent light bulb. You can purchase a 100w incandescent light bulb for a dollar. An equivalent LED can be between $3 - $10! We need to consider lifespan, though! The dollar store bulb might last +/- 2000 hours. If the outdoor lamp we mentioned lasts for 3000 hours, it will need replacing once a year. LED Bulbs are often rated at 35,000 to 50,000 hours!

Capture.JPG

To be fair, LED is a newer technology, but reports so far are indicating that even the early LED bulbs sold a few years ago would reach 20 thousand hours of life. Based on this, it is reasonable to say an LED will last 10 times as long as the incandescent lamp. If we look at the replacement costs alone, the LED is at least as cost-effective compared to the incandescent - $1 a year for incandescent and $1 a year for the LED!

    The real savings (aka: the place where you will notice it the most) is potential electrical savings. Let's look at that!

“Watts” up with Lumens?
    Incandescent light bulbs became so universal that many people refer to “brightness” or “amount of light” by the wattage rating of an incandescent light bulb.  If I ask you to imagine a room lit by a 100 w bulb and them imagine that same room lit by a 40 watt bulb, you probably can do that easily.  What if I asked you to imagine a room lit by 1100 lumens? That would be like a 75w incandescent light bulb - and suddenly you can see that room, can’t you? 

    Lumens is a rating for the amount of illumination a device provides allowing comparison between different technologies.  Compact fluorescents, halogens, incandescents, and LEDs all have different wattages to create 1000 lumens of illumination. It is helpful to know what “lumen” you have in a room if you want to replace the bulbs and keep the same illumination. When shopping for an LED bulb, they often put the “wattage replacement” on the box, but all should have a lumens rating. Here is a chart to help you choose the right LED replacement for an incandescent bulb:

lumens.JPG

    How many watts does a similar lumen LED use? That's the question - and the answer is 1/6 to 1/5 of the incandescent. 

    Back to that entrance light - Remember how it runs for 10 hours a day, for 17 cents a day, for $62 a year? If I switch to an LED of similar illumination the electricity would cost me just $9.30.

(warning - math!)

Spoiler

(15w light * 10 hours a day * 365 days a year = 54.75 kWh * 17 cents per kWh = $9.3075)

Even if the bulb cost me $10 to replace, I would save nearly $43! I would save $54 the next year (as the LED would still be working and I didn’t have to buy a new incandescent bulb). If the LED only last 5 years (and it seems likely the bulb should last 10 years!) that one LED replacement would save approximately $250 in electricity.  

Math in Real Life
    For those who hate math, use this map - find your state and assume your lighting requirements are the ones listed here.

Capture2.JPG

    For those who like math (or can at least stomach it), we need to do an energy inventory! In short, you need to estimate how many hours a day the light in your house are on.  For a better estimate, you need to figure it out for each room. The basic equation is this: wattage of the lamps turned on * number of hours the light are on = kilowatt hours used. We need to know how many kilowatt hours we use in each room. We can then add them together for the whole house or whatever we need to do.  For these estimates, I am going to guess that the lights are on a shorter time that may actually occur.  Why? If I guess low and the math says switch lamps, I know I will see savings.  If I guess high, the math may say “buy” but I will see no savings… 

    As an example: In my house, the kitchen is used for making breakfast and dinner at least 5 days a week (approx 260 days a year). Breakfast takes about 30 minutes and dinner takes about an hour and then another 30 minutes for washing dishes or whatever. So each day the kitchen has its lights on for 2 hours. It has six 34 watt halogen spotlights. That room will use 0.4 kilowatts (~7 cents a day) each day based on my estimate. If I switch to LEDs, each lamp will be 6watts - 0.07 kilowatts (~1 cent a day). I could save about $15 a year by switching the kitchen to LED spotlights.  Beware! Math!

Spoiler

.4 kWh * 260 days = 104 kWh * 17 cents per kWh = $17.68 vs. $3.10 = .07 * 260 *.17.  $14.58 savings per year.

    If I can find replacement bulbs for about $15 (which I was able to do!) I will see the money back in a year then save $30 over the next two years. If we use the kitchen lights more than 2 hours a day (and I suspect we do… turn the light off, kids!)then the savings are even more. 

    Repeat the math for each room to get a handle on your energy usage. 

How much can you save?
    Easy - take the number of kilowatt hours you use on lighting and divide by 5 - that is what you would use if you had all LED lamps.  Multiply your kilowatt-hour usage buy you cost per kilowatt to see your cost - compare the two to see your savings!

All at once or once for all?
    Should you replace all your lights for LEDs today? The long-term answer is yes! Switching now will reap the biggest rewards over time. Yet, the long answer is most likely not, as replace every bulb in your house today will cost a significant chunk of cash up front. If you are not convinced to replace EVERY bulb, I would suggest identifying the most used and highest wattage lamps and replacing those first.  Also, consider replacing in batches - replace all the 100W incandescents first and buy a pack of those LED replacements. The bulk purchase will help save you money, and getting rid of the 100w energy suckers will reap the largest rewards. Then find the lights used most often - in my home it is the living room, the office, the kitchen, the kids' room, and the main bathroom.  Replace those as you can when you can. Finally, replace the less used places when (and if) the bulbs burn out.  This would allow you to find savings early and spread out the cost over time.  

When should I replace my bulbs?
    Good news, everyone! The cost for LED bulbs is continuing to decrease, so for many of you, just wait until the bulb you have dies - then replace it with an LED equivalent - and the price of the LED replacement will most likely have dropped a little bit more.  When you do buy, I would recommend you buy in bulk - you can get significant savings buying a pack of LEDs vs. buying each replacement separately.  I save 50% buying in bulk and that is why I did the whole house in one fell swoop. Also, consider that electrical prices tend to rise over time. As the price of electricity goes up the cost savings for LEDs does too. So watch your bill and that might tell you when to switch!

But wait, there's more!
    A few quick considerations: When you buy LED bulbs consider the “warmth” of light.  Incandescent and halogen lights are known for their “warm” light - it has a lot of red and orange hues. Florescent light is often called “cold” - it has a lot of “blue” and appears very “white.” Early LED bulbs were VERY “white” and this could make a room feel “wrong.” I purchased “warm” LED lamps and they emit a light that matches an incandescent bulb. You cannot tell that I switched the bulbs when I used the “warm” LEDs. 

    If you are replacing lights that are attached to a dimmer, you will need dimmable LEDs, which are generally a little more expensive than a non-dimmable version; an extra dollar or two per bulb. By dimming a light, you use less energy. If you are using a dimmer to keep the lights low, you may consider delaying replacing those with LEDs as dimmed lights are costing you less making the cost vs benefit less favorable for the replacement.  

    Finally, test out an LED bulb in a reading lamp for a few days before you go and replace everything in the house. Some LED designs can flicker. This flicker is “imperceptible” to most people, but through one of my lines of work, we discovered that certain brands of LED and most types of fluorescent lamps induced headaches or migraines in military veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Other people may be susceptible as well.  So try out a bulb first to see if it works for you, and then you can buy with confidence!

 

Lights on? No worries!
    How did it work out in my house? Well, I switched everything out! I was able to find bulk packs for each of the types I needed - two six packs for the halogen spotlights, two five packs for the 40 halogens, and a five pack for the 60w bulbs.  I took the 5th bulb from that last pack and used it in place of the 100w in my garage. If my kids decided to turn on every lamp in the house I no longer use 1.1 kilowatts - now my whole house lighting system draws only ~ 200w! In the end, I should see between $70 and $100 dollars less in electricity over a year.  It’s not huge - but it will pay for the bulbs in one year, and then save me money the next two; plus I have a little insurance in case the electrical rates go up, as well!

    All in all, I feel good about moving from the old way to the new way. I know that I am saving money, I was able to teach my kids about energy usage and a little science while I was at it, and the idea of not changing another light bulb for 3-5 years (maybe 10 years!) is quite nice!

thedakar

We have been teasing about new things coming to DHO - and here is one!  DHO now has an official blog!

However, every good blog needs a name, so, to make it fun we will be accepting all reasonable names ("Bloggy McBlogger Blog" has already been submitted...and will not be the name, sorry dads!) and putting them on the forum for a vote.  The winning title will become the new name of the DHO Blog AND the person suggesting the name will be featured as our first "Get to Know DHO" blog feature AND will win an Amazon Gift certificate AND will be adored and congratulated by all dads everywhere for all time (no guarantees on the last item!) Submit your Name Ideas here!

We are also accepting applications for authors to add to the blog!  Please go here (click here!) and follow the forum post to submit to be a DHO blogger.  Don't wanna commit to anything but have a good idea for a post? If you just want to do a single article, that's awesome! We will be happy to host you for a one-off article! Have an idea, but don't wanna write it?  Feel free to suggest the idea and our writing dads will add it to our ideas list!

Thanks again to all our Patreon Supporters - it is through their donations that we are able to add this element to the DHO website.  We hope that you find it enjoyable and informative (plus a little fun!) and another reason that you are proud to be DHO!

v/r,

@thedakar

 

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