Why Being a Dad in America is so Great
How to fish for salmon in Alaska... Even THAT'S not a fitting title! So, I'll stick with The "Alaskan Salmon" Experience. As an avid fisherman, I pride myself on "knowing a little about a lot", specifically fishing. However, I quickly learned this was not the case when I recently went to Alaska to hit the infamous salmon run. Basically, I didn't know sugar-honey-iced-tea about "fishing" for salmon. Large-mouth bass? Lookout! Salmon, you're safe.

Here's what I learned about fishing in Alaska that can make your trip MUCH more memorable than mine. At least more "profitable". For some context, during the salmon run the fish don't eat. They're there to die. It's alright, they're supposed to. They swim up-river, spawn, die, and feed everything else around them in the process. That being said, they're not looking to snag your lure based on size, shape, color, action, etc. Fishing the salmon run is literally snagging. Yup, snagging them. Just like in the image above, they swim in pods of lots-of-thousands (that's a prime number, if you're wondering)! In pods of a few hundred at a time they head up river. THAT'S when you get them! But, before you go dipping your rod in a stream, here are some pointers:

1. BUY A LICENSE! Seems like a no-brainer, but us Lower-48 folks need to remember that Alaska doesn't have much in the way of exports. Tourism is it's numero-uno! You can get a license just about anywhere in Alaska or you can buy one online and print it out through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game online. This will run you $25 for a one-day non-resident license up to $105 for a 14-day license. OR, spend the extra $40 ($145) and get the annual non-res license and give yourself a reason to come back next year!

2. CHECK THE RULE BOOK! I'm used to perusing fishing/wildlife regulations when they come out. It gives me something to do while I'm... relaxing. But When I got my hands on the Alaskan fishing info, I was lost. You can check out the regulations for sport fishing here. On the right-hand side you'll see an image of the state. Just click where you're headed and enjoy the read! OR, you can ask a guide when you arrive, or even a local. Don't be shy! You're not the first person to ask a question. To me, Alaska is the "Disneyworld" of the outdoors; Nice place to visit but you'll go broke and get tired quick if you don't plan properly and adequately. This is what the guide for Southwest Alaska looks like. You can find them everywhere! There's really no excuse not to know the rules when they're in more places than sand at the beach!

3. GET THE RIGHT GEAR! You'll definitely need some waders and wading boots. If you were fly fishing Colorado I'd tell you that you're fine in some neoprene and sneakers... NOT in Alaska! That being said, I'm not one to buy something just because it has SIMMS on it. Quite the contrary! I found a fantastic pair of waders at Bass Pro that survived some pretty tough abuse. The $70 Redhead Finley will get you where you need to go without breaking the bank. Don't forget the boots for them either! You can't wear plain ol' sneakers! Alaska's rivers have been formed by eons of glacial flow... cold friggin' water with big rocks left over. IF you want to splurge, do it here. Waders can keep you dry, which equals warm, which means alive.

For fishing gear I stopped at the Fred Meyer in Soldotna on our way out of Homer and picked up a fishing rod-combo that had a few salmon flies in it. PRO TIP: Buy some 15-20lb test line and re-spool your reel! You're going to catch 6-12lb fish with some serious propulsion behind them in a swift current. I snapped line after line of lures (more on that later) because I neglected to pay attention to what I was buying.

Now that you've got the license, the gear, armed yourself with knowledge, and now have the capability and intent... (if this were a crime, you'd be going to jail and bail-money would almost be cheaper) it's time to fish!
By this point in my trip I'd spent the $145 on a license, $30 on the fishing pole, another $20 on extra flies and weights, and at least $150 on waders and boots and I hadn't even stepped in the water yet! So, if salmon costs roughly $14/pound at Walmart, how much do you need to catch to make it worth your trip? I used this rough-estimate from Coal Point Seafood and found it on-par with the processors you'll find all over the Kenai peninsula, where the majority of fishing is done. If I had caught 50lbs of salmon and had it filleted, vacuum packed, and frozen @ $1.50/lb I'd be at $75. Storage runs (I think) 60-90 cents per pound BUT, since I didn't use this service, I won't include it in my estimate. Kenai Cache as well as Gwin's Lodge have fish processing and storage for competitive prices. Anyway, to process, pack, freeze, package for overnight shipping home with FedEx, tax and insurance would run me a total of $358 for 50lbs of fresh-caught Alaskan salmon! That'd be around $7/lb! HALF of market price! BUT REMEMBER that's doesn't include your equipment, license, how much your time is worth, hiking around to find a good spot, etc. If you add all of that into the cost of your fresh-caught salmon, the price-per-pound is actually $14.06/lb. Yup, everything I said above, totaled up and divided by 50 is the market rate of salmon. Don't get "starry-eyed" thinking you're going to head up there and slay fish by the dozens and save a ton of cash by catching it yourself. Quite the opposite. Remember that you're visiting Alaska to bask in the greatest outdoors left on earth and NOT get eaten by a bear. Now, back to the tips...

4. SET UP YOUR RIG RIGHT! Setting up your rig is always important when you fish. Snagging is no less important! You want to set up your fly so that it floats freely in the current while the weight bounces along the bottom and hopefully runs your fly right in the midst of the resting salmon before you rip it out of the water. The weight you use is partially determined by the current. I didn't have any "bad luck" using 3/4 to 1 oz of weight. You could feel it bounce along the bottom beautifully. When I DID hook some reds, this was how I did it. The distance between your weight (bouncing along the bottom) and the fly (waiting to hook itself in a salmon's face) was at least 24 inches. Craig Walcott explains it best in his video...

5. WATCH SOMEONE ELSE DO IT! This was my most costly lesson and it took several weeks for me to learn that I had no idea what I was doing. The technique is called the "Kenai flip" and is literally a cross between "flipping for bass in thick cover" and "roll casting" your fly rod. The best way I learn is by observation...

Speaking of observation... When many of us think of fishing for salmon in Alaska, I'm willing to bet that the words "combat" never come to mind. For me, combat never has involved a fishing pole and quite the opposite! Fishing is what I do to relax! The peace and quiet of nature, occasional mosquito slap, impending splash of a large-mouth bass gulping my top-water lure from underneath... Not in Alaska! This is combat fishing on the Kenai! In the words of Big John McCarthy, "Let's get it on!"

"Combat fishing on the Kenai" is what it's called. "How can this be sportsman-like?" you may ask. "Why the heck are people doing this and thinking it's any fun?" is a thought that ran through my mind. Well, it's an experience. Here's the REAL kicker... there's a limit per day on how many salmon you can catch so don't expect to hit 50lbs of beautiful salmon in the first week! That'll take at least two weeks to amass if you catch your limit every-day.

6. WATCH SOMEONE ELSE DO IT, AGAIN! Pay attention to where everyone is standing in the water. The salmon that come up stream in pods hold to structure just like other fish. The only structure is the shelf that's about 10-feet in front of you as you venture off into the icy cold water, perhaps completely unaware of. Your "flip" is only about 20-yds in front of you, upstream about your 10 o'clock position (or 1 o'clock depending) and let if float down to the 1 o'clock (or 10) feeling the weight bounce along the bottom as you go. As you approach the 1 o'clock (or 10) apply a firm "rip"
to the pole. This action will cause the fly that's been floating along carelessly among the pod of unaware salmon (approximately 24-inches from the weight) to immediately snatch the fishy-flesh nearby. Congratulations! You've "caught" an Alaskan salmon! Hopefully it's snagged somewhere in the lip or else you won't be able to keep it. You'll see fish that have holes in their fins or along their sides from "foul hooks" from other fisherman that had to toss them back.

7. RE-EVALUATE WHY YOU'RE DOING IT! If you're heading to Alaska anyway and already have the gear, do some fishing! If you're thinking that you'd like to spend a "reasonable" ton-of-money on just a fishing trip, this is for you! But, if you're like me and you're not sure if you'd like to spend that much money just to fish or lose a bunch of lures in the rocks while balancing yourself precariously above the swift, cold current, while being on constant guard for bears, then we should hang out.

Don't get me wrong, it was an awesome time! I spent two-weeks camping in some of the most beautiful back-country I've ever seen with some great friends; truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I DID eat fresh-caught trout over a fire and my cousin, who DID limit-out everyday, shared one of his 6lb filets that was delicious. Would I do it again? Absolutely! BUT, if I was armed with THIS info, I would probably have fish to mail home. Good luck to all of you anglers and adventure-seekers out there!

While Alaska IS my ultimate destination, I think I'll enjoy it more as a resident who doesn't have to sell a kidney and a part of their lower-intestine just to try it out for two-weeks. It wasn't "all-bad" though. Don't read that! It was an epic experience filled with bear-encounters, hikes into forest-service cabins that people wait for years to get into, late-night hang-outs with "just the guys", and sitting up until 1 am discussing bush-flying. The fishing would've been better if I caught something but, I'll take my memories "fresh", not "frozen".

Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to be a Boy Scout. When our first son was born in 2004 I was super excited because I would finally get to do Scouting! My wife was quite upset when I drew a mustache on him and tried to pass him off as a first-grader with an over-active pituitary gland when he was only three. So, I waited until he started first grade… My wife teared up as he trotted off to his first day of school and I sobbed like a baby when he got his Tiger rank. Judge me all you like, I’m amazing. Regardless of your judgement, I was none too happy when the BSA decided to change their position on gay leaders.

I don’t think homosexual folks are bad people, I just disagree with their life choices on a fundamental level. Additionally, I would have a problem with letting an alcoholic work at a liquor store… but that’s not saying that I believe all gay people want to molest children. I also wouldn’t let a fat kid work in a candy store, and I wouldn’t let Casey Anthony babysit. I use the former analogy to state the obvious fact that the more access and power you give to people, the greater opportunity there is to do the wrong thing with that access and power. I’m sure no one goes into teaching thinking “hey, I can’t wait to score with an underage student of mine.” That’s ludicrous! And as the American public we’re still genuinely appalled when it happens and we see it on TV. Access and power, it’ll corrupt the best of us, and no one can argue that.

Even with all of my flaws and imperfections, I still want to raise my son with open views on everything, but not being flagrantly and ignorantly accepting of everything! I want him to be aware that people have different lifestyles, religious beliefs, hair styles, what they think is cool, etc., and be strong enough to be confident in who HE is without caving to the societal pressures of what “they” want him to be. Lots going on here but keep up, it’s worth it…

The +Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have recently amended their policy previously banning girls from Boy Scout Troops. An official from the BSA said that in 2018, “Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, which are larger and include a number of dens, will have the option to welcome both genders if they choose.” In 2019, a program to allow “older girls” is expected to start and will enable girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America defends this position by stating, "This decision is true to the BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women." This is a true statement and I totally agree, and while this isn’t an “atrocity” on the surface, the problem goes much deeper.
I’ve talked about how excited I was to finally have a boy and get to participate in Scouts, I’ve “gay-bashed” and related access-to-power with the abuse-of-power, I’ve commented on what I want my son to BE, and wrapped up with the BSAs most recent decision to say this…

Why not leave the girls to the Girl Scouts?

You might answer that by saying to me, “why be so intolerant of homosexuals and women?” To which I’d reply, “I’m NOT intolerant but I DO have my own opinions which I am entitled to, and what’s wrong with maintaining a healthy balance of power and access in an institution littered too much of both, and leaving the girls to an institution that was founded in 1912 for the purpose of developing girls into young women and improving THAT program without making it a cookie factory for pointless crafts and actually develop girls into young women that young men of character would look to as help-mates and someone to complement their character rather than compete with it!” Yes, I’m well aware that it was a run-on sentence. Thank you for noticing. But really, what does this sudden shift of girls into Boy Scouts really signify?
If one institution is “better”, what does that make the other? “Not better”? In this case I’d overwhelmingly agree. I can’t tell you the multi-page drama that is my “Norman Rockwell” life, but I can tell you that I’ve always believed in the BSA and Girl Scouts of America (GSA) as “American institutions.” Maybe it was a “postcard mentality” where I envisioned polite young ladies in pressed uniforms with tired, but ever attentive, mothers standing by them while they sold cookies in their booth. Quite contrarily, I’ve witnessed nightmares running in front of elderly-person’s carts abruptly stopping them to ask if the wanted to buy cookies. When they didn’t, you’d think a Cartel was
unleashed! Further, every GSA unit my daughters have been part of was always in constant need of markers and construction paper. What the deuce for? We sold $12Billion in cookies! Buy your own construction paper! Besides all that, what else do you do?!! Oh, that’s right, from the top-down it’s an institution run by a bunch of women who make too much money who do absolutely nothing to support their community or neighborhood. Don’t believe me? Just Google “Girl Scouts of America salary” and tell me what you find that isn’t contrary to this. Conversely, yes, the BSA lost 75% of its funding and had to push that cost off onto the members. But that’s because several businesses withdrew their funding support because they wouldn’t allow a gay scout to earn his Eagle award. Not now, we’re talking about something else… The BSA has never had a bake sale to fund a summer camp, then again, my daughters have never sold less than $1.3Million in cookies and I paid less than full price for camp. Of course the numbers are a little skewed, but the point is there. Bottom line: the GSA is a grossly, if not criminally, mismanaged organization that operates to the detriment of young ladies everywhere. To me it’s clear why girls would want to join the BSA. It makes perfect sense! The twist is that the Girl Scouts still won't allow boys unless they "feel" like a girl, as is the case in a 7-year old boy in Colorado. So as long as there's a double-standard every can look the other way. If you recall, this is exactly how the spiral started... Gay scout in California not awarded Eagle, corporate funding withdrawn, BSA financially stranded until they caved, BSA still not recovering but, hey, you can be an openly-gay member/leader now. AND you can be a girl, medically, not just "identify as a girl", but literally a girl, thanks to a young lady already involved in BSA's Venturing program who wasn't satisfied with thatNBC news reported that "...57 percent disagree with the move to allow girls to join the Boy Scouts, with 37 percent voicing strong opposition."
So where is all this "support" coming from?

I was recently sent a survey by from the BSA which asked, “If there was one thing that I would suggest to improve my Scouting experience, it would be..." I thought about it for a minute and replied…
Leave Boy Scouts to the Boys. Pressure other organizations to improve their programs. Quit "caving" to the 1% and societal expectations. Maintain the system that has worked for over 100 years to develop young men into moral guideposts for their communities and not banners for individuality that tear the fabric of American culture apart.

           But this is precisely the mentality that some people are known for; the mentality that “if you don’t like it, go somewhere else and make them conform.”

When President Trump was running there were several people who swore they’d leave. None of them did but their message was clear, “If I don’t agree then you’re wrong!” Likewise, if I didn’t vote for Obama, I suddenly felt like a racist! My point is that as a group we have to agree on 51% of things. As individuals we can disagree on 100% of things, but as a group we have to agree on at least 51% of things for the organization to succeed. For over 107 years the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have been making “boys” into “young men”, in my opinion, and not folded to the societal expectation of the approximately 1% of homosexuals in America who pressed the issue of membership, nor to the various women’s organizations. They stood strong for values that 51% of the group supported and agreed upon instead of allowing a media-sensationalized event take control and dig-up the very roots of everything 107 years have provided.

I may be “old-fashioned” but I’m okay with that, I’ve been called worse. But if old-fashioned means that I should be integral to the upbringing of my son, I’m definitely okay with it. I also believe that my wife has a job taking care of our children and her home. Yeah, maybe I am old-fashioned, but my children will be raised by both parents in the same home who respect their positions in society and respect the opinions of those around them without having to cater to them.

One of my wife’s professors said “acceptance isn’t accolades.” She meant that we have gone from “accepting” things to “celebrating” them. You can’t just be a homosexual, and that’s okay; you have to be a homosexual, and we all have to stop and celebrate your lifestyle and accommodate you in every form and fashion. You can’t just be a strong woman, which is great; you have to be a feminist and stand up for years of oppression under the tyranny of men (Girl Scouts are definitely a beacon of success there). OR, you have to be some psychotic fitness freak that takes well-being to a ridiculous level of unhealthy and unsustainable. You’ll be a great mother (as long as you don’t gain weight and have your baby early so you don’t get stretch marks), and we have to celebrate how skinny you are instead of praising the countless women throughout history who have made contributions to science, medicine, and their countries!

We’ve gone from “you’re black, Cool.” to “you’re black, OMG I’m so sorry! Please take (blank)!” Accepting differences and diversity is integral to who we are as Americans. Celebrating differences that run contradictory to the institution’s intent is not okay. Bottom line: it’s okay to be different; it’s not okay to make everyone else change the way they operate or co-exist to singularly accommodate you.

The BSA’s goal is “to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations.” Does that include girls? Damn right it does, but not in the Boy Scouts.

Girl Scouts, fix your own broken ride and quit mooching off our successful program. Homosexuals, can’t you play nicely without everyone having to know that you’re gay? No one gives a crap! Especially in an organization that exists to “train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations.”

To any other individual or organization looking to infiltrate and fundamentally change the BSA, don’t. You DO have a place in the BSA as long as 1)you’re a boy, and 2)you want to join because you want to “train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations.” If you don’t “identify” as a boy, answer me this; were you born with a penis or do you ascribe to the dominant physical profile of ‘male’ as described medically (meaning you have, or should have, a penis)? If you answered ‘yes’, you’re in! If you’re not sure, go see a doctor. Otherwise, enjoy Venturing or Girl Scouting.
A friend of mine had asked about making a giant shoebox. At first I thought he was mocking the idea, then realized that he was willing to pay in American-Currency, not Monopoly money.

After watching the video from +Glass Impressions I started Googling the plans. There, of course, were plenty of plans and all for around $25. I found these plans from +Mario Cappellano at www.TheWoodFather.com. I wound up modifying them as I went, tweaking here and there and came up with this....

This is the single-drawer option from his plans. It's 40x28x19, closed. I used a dark ebony stain and 2 coats of urethane.

When opened, the slide-out drawer leaves room for at least 6 pairs of shoes on the bottom and 6 more on the deck.

As I said, I used the PDF plans from TheWoodFather and made minor corrections. All the cuts are the correct dimensions and I used 3/8 plywood, 2 whole sheets. The plans called for a sheet and one-half of plywood,

The plywood was $15 per sheet, $8 for drawer sliders, $10 for a 48" piano hinge, and about $10 for a small jar of indoor urethane. It took me all Labor Day Weekend, minus the occasional Florida-rain, to finish it. All in all, I was into it for around $60 plus minor hardware. I used a 1" staple gun and the occasional screw on the corners to suck the joints together nice and tight.

#MegaShoeBox #GiantShoeBox #ShoeBox #Plans
Of course I want another sandwich for lunch... for the ump-teenth day in a row, to include weekends. Why shouldn't I love the taste of bread, processed meat, assorted vegetables, left to sog in a refrigerator several yards from where I'm going to eat it... 4-6 hours later.

The paragraph above was called 'sarcasm' and was introduced to early settlers by Conquistadors from Madagascar, Spain. It's a small suburb just north of Philly. Not Philadelphia, just Philly.

The paragraph above, while not sarcasm, was in-fact bull(expletive). It was introduced to you by me, just now. Let us continue...

So my wife thought an article on "what men really want... in their lunches" would be a popular blog post. Since she's really good at it (she makes no less than 5 every morning) I am still convinced that this is a trick to get me to bust myself. The REAL trick is, how does one go about writing such an expose without "outing" himself in the process? Let's find out...

To be honest, my lunches are 98% (+/-2% margin of error) of the time delicious. I'm not just saying that because my wife's within arm's reach, they really are good! Then again, it's 98% of the time, sandwiches. The sandwich has a long history, too. Unfortunately, I don't care. The point is, how many different ways can you make it? How many times do I have to eat it?! How many times do I have to eat by myself staring at my computer screen before I "saved enough money" to eat with my
co-workers at Carabbas?!??!! When, God, WHEN?! Since I'm on it, wanna know something else?! I don't give two-putts to a birdie about bread either! My wife will eat it by the loaf and talk about how delicious this bread is or how we need to buy a new bread maker because she loves bread! If she loves it so much she should marry it! To be fair, I smoke cigars and can tell you about every little odor, taste, or vintage. So I'll stop there. The point is, how many ways can you make a sandwich appealing before you want to throw your lunchbox at your coworker, or your coworker at your lunchbox.

I searched Google high and low... I searched for "ultimate brown bag lunch" and came up with a +Cooking Light article on a bunch of sandwiches that wouldn't make it through the first 4 hours of the day before becoming soggy messes. Then I searched for "how to make a man's sandwich" thinking that I'd get a lot of really awesome ideas! Wrong... I found +Food Network's "Sandwich King" Jeff Mauro who also makes some pretty amazing sandwiches... that you can't eat outside of a restaurant. So then I searched for "ultimate brown bag lunch" and came up with lots of articles about adding dips and sauces and garnishing your soups. Holy crap! Do people really "live" for that?

"Oh, buddy! Wait'll you see what the little lady packed for me today!"
"Yeah? Cat poop would beat what she made you yesterday!"
"Well I gave her 'the what for' last night and she's singing a new tune. Check this out!"

And you didn't kill yourself last night because today was going to be better? Yup, your tomato soup with garnish saved the world. How about this; I'll tell you what my wife does and you can tell me how to make it better. Then, I'll pass that along with the preface "this guy on the internet said..." and then I'll show you the pictures of what happened next. I think that'll work!

The first thing out is bread. It has to be fresh bread, obviously, but not the almost-expired-and-left-on-the-counter-so-it's-still-good,-right? bread. Next is the condiments, single-side only. If your lunch is gonna be damp then put it on one side so it doesn't ruin your entire lunch. You can still eat a one loafed sandwich and be legit. Next is some fresh veggies; not lettuce, we've gotta create a barrier for it to breathe! Were talking about onions, maybe some bell peppers, something for the meat to sit on like a throne! We're talking about the nerve center of your lunch here! Finally, throw down some meat. Whatever you want, just throw it on there! If you lay it on then it's not tender enough. Toss that meat right on there like you own it, but don't displace the veggies underneath. What you'll learn is that the soggy-ness comes from the bun-condiment-meat contact. Inevitably you placed your sandwich on the only side that could've ensured it's timely demise. Now, being properly educated though, you've created a barrier between the meat which will allow her to breathe and open up to you like a young flower on a warm day. You'll finish that bad-boy off with a slice o' lettuce (if you like) and the other loaf of bread. When you place it in your lunch make sure it's condiment-side-down, for that soggy-loaf-issue we talked about.

Everything else in your lunch is a compliment to your sandwich. Be honest, you've opened your lunch and saw the bag of smash you called a sandwich and even the Oreos didn't sound appetizing after that, right? It's all about presentation. Take pride in your preparation and the delivery will be flawless.

Armed with this basic and somewhat flawed knowledge, I'm curious to hear your side? What are some of YOUR lunch tips to make that brown bag look more appealing and less like a projectile? What are some good snack tips for the on-the-go lunch? What about the 'nibbler' who doesn't eat an entire meal in one sitting?
I remember sitting on my couch waiting for my Uncle to come over because my mom, the big-bad-ER-Nurse, couldn't pull a simple tooth! It blew my mind! I'd seen her dress wounds in the hospital that made ordinary men squirm but when it came to pulling her own son's first loose tooth you could forget it. In fact, I don't recall her pulling any of my teeth.

Last night my youngest son lost his first tooth... and I didn't have a single dollar bill. There are few horrors in the world such as this and fortunately for me there is a gas station just a few blocks away.

What spawned this article was not the recollection of loosing my first tooth but pulling my first tooth. Just as my mother was a nervous wreck to pull my first tooth, I, too, was "less than stable" when it came to pulling our daughter's first loose tooth. I put together a few tips for all those other "first-timers" to make your event go as well as mine.

- Dental Floss (to tie to the tooth)
                                                      - Pre-folded tissue (for bleeding)
                                                      - Willing child (unwilling ones aren't worth arguing with)
                                                      - A little bit o' salt-water rinse (after you pull the tooth your child                                                              should rinse their mouth out)

A few important facts:

1) Pull straight up, not out. The New Kids-Center gives a few tips on how to extract those wiggly teeth but more importantly, pulling up on the tooth prevents further damage to the gum.

2) Control the situation. I place my thumb on the inside of my child's mouth and on top of, their adjoining teeth. This makes sure that I am pulling the tooth away and not allowing my child to jerk their head back when they see my hand start to move. Since I'm an avid fisherman this technique is common to me. The trick isn't to jam your thumb down his/her throat but to gently control the jaw bone via the neighboring teeth. Literally just pinching the jaw-bone between your thumb and forefinger.

3) Don't lose it! Literally, not emotionally. These little teeth fly and then get lost in the carpet. Try explaining that one to the tooth fairy. A good knot will keep the tooth within reach, a.k.a. tied to the dental floss. The +Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a great site that shows you how to tie various knots. Ultimately, a simple knot will do. Just make sure you tie it on tight, and below the widest part of the tooth which is typically the gum line.

4) Pay the kid! Nothing worse than losing teeth and not having any coin. Of course, this is the tooth fairy's problem but you can help a fairy out at least! Another cool idea is from +Lainie Wicks at Maker*Land and they printed up miniature letters from the tooth-fairy. Pretty clever!

I've shared this video before from +Make: called the Tooth Fairy Transport System.

I hope this eases your tooth-pulling woes and puts you in a better position to yank those teeth out! Finally, let's all be honest and acknowledge the fact that +Pinterest is a real thing and check these certificates out...

#ToothFairy #FirstTooth #KidsDental
I was able to see a special sneak preview of +American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper but failed to post this review, for which I must apologize to you. But on with the news.... Without stating the obvious, "this movie's great! A must see! Great acting! Etc..." I want to give this movie an honest review with sincere content. I'll preface it with what I hope is an original statement; I don't like to read the book because it'll ruin the movie. 

I think the first great "war/military movie" of our generation was Saving Private Ryan. THAT movie set the bar for excellence and truly left everyone expecting Saving-Private-Ryan-esque results. You know the type; when you saw that movie you left the theater feeling a small twinge of PTSD and an intense feeling of patriotism. There hadn't been a whole lot of movies since then that addressed the subject of "war" until recently.

Lone Survivor and the story of Marcus Luttrell was, as far as I can remember, the first movie to broach the topic of the War in Afghanistan. You could tell that producers were waiting to see how it was going to be received by the general public before proceeding, too. But, thanks to movie directors who are willing to tell the story of these modern-day-Heroes, we have come upon an age of story-telling that broaches the delicate and numerous topics that war produces.

American Sniper is the true-story of +Chris Kyle, a normal rodeo-riding-guy from Texas who joined the +US Navy Seals after seeing the embassy bombing on TV. Naturally he's a good shot. What I most enjoyed of about the movie were the "effects of war". Clint Eastwood did a superior job demonstrating the biggest killer of Veteran's, PTSD. NIH medicine posted an article on PTSD that says "... hundreds of thousands of service men and women and recent military veterans have seen combat. Many have been shot at, seen their buddies killed, or witnessed death up close. These are types of events that can lead to PTSD.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts:
  • Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans
  • As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
  • 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
  • 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans"
American Sniper, obviously, is a "must see", and while it's intense action and true-story plot line will keep you on the edge of your seat, it will also make you keenly aware of the hidden killer of today's veterans. Not a whole lot needs to be said about this movie, nor CAN it be said without ruining it, just make sure you see it and "Never Forget". Hopefully this will push you over the edge to see it if you were teetering on the fence of uncertainty

#AmericanSniper #ChrisKyle #Hero
There was yet ANOTHER article on +Military Spouse about cheating spouses. This time the wife had become friends with the victim and their husbands worked together. Go check out the article and come back... First of all, I can respect Life Coaches but I don't consider them any more value-added to a problem than a Kleenex to a runny nose. Their education and training consists of "helpful opinion" to "guide" the counseled towards a solution they find, eventually, on their own. Let's stay specific... if you're having relationship issues, seek emotional counseling which may reveal deeper issues either clinical or symptomatic of a greater issue. At any rate...

This spouse was writing in to ask "what should [she] do" because she "feels like every time [she] see[s] her, [she's] hiding a secret." Guess what, you are! Without addressing the husband/co-worker role in this I'll dive into the meat and potatoes... TELL HER!

If you see someone robbing a bank you don't have the option to withhold that information from the police, even if they don't ask you! If you see someone jumping the fence to your duty station are you going to keep quiet about that, too? I would hope not! But why do we feel so empowered to tattle on someone when the outcome won't affect you, or so you think. Do the right thing and report that bank robbery you witnessed and you'll be called into court as an eye-witness. Report the base-jumper to the Security Forces and you'll be asked to make a statement. The bottom line is that righteousness demands conflict. If you see someone or something wrong you must confront it or it will get worse!

In this person's case, she should have thought of creative scenarios that would have required her husband to be around when he had to "be at work" or come up with cunning questions that would have made her "friend" question herself and her husband's actions without being dramatic. Let's be honest, females can be cunning when they want to be and this specific scenario just looks like a chicken-crap friend.

Another blogger posted a similar response with video. Check it out here... Apparently this is a pretty ongoing dilemma since divorce in the military exceeds 60% with infidelity being a leading cause.

Men, we MUST live in righteousness and in such a way that the thought of infidelity would never
cross our spouses minds. We must hold one another accountable and I'm not talking about tattling here. If you see something, say something! We work together every day and spend more time together than we do with our wives. If something seems "off" with your battle buddy, ask them! Encourage one another's relationships because we all know that there are SOME times we'd like to push one another off a cliff; it happens. What we HAVE to do is remember that she is the one we chose, the one we said we'd put on a pedestal and worship. If something within your relationships have changed then that needs addressed and not brushed under another skirt.

Do the right thing, talk about the right things, treat one another right and it'll be alright.
In September of 2013, +Forbes had published an article that ...Welfare Pays More Than Minimum-Wage Work in 35 States. This was based on a study performed by +The Cato Institute and subsequent results published by Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes in a document entitled The Work Versus Welfare Tradeoff: 2013 (link provided). Basically the government has made it more prosperous to be poor than employed.

"The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work." And that's straight from the horse's mouth! It reminds me of a line from Office Space; "Why
should I work any harder? So Initech ships a few thousand more units? What's in it for me?" Why work harder than you have to when you're getting paid MORE to do LESS, in 35 states at least.

Then there ARE some people who try to compare apples-to-apples which is where I like to dwell... Let's talk about the "average" worker who earns minimum wage. And I'm going to stick to fast-food establishments to make it easy. I realize that there are tons of secretaries and delivery people on the same boat but, let's keep it simple. The +NCSLorg (National Council of State Legislatures) lists minimum wage by state and includes all future amendments in a table. In Florida, for example, Federal minimum wage will go from $7.93 to $8.05 in 2015. But back to the average guy... This is the person who shows up on-time, does their job, leaves on the dot, and doesn't incur foolish workman's comp fees. Sure, minimum wage for that guy! He did "the minimum" required for his job to KEEP his job. What about the "above-average" worker? The one who's early, preparing for the challenges of their day, always polite and professional, finds busy-work to do, and generally the epitome for others to follow? I say give that person a $2/hr raise! And why not?! They've earned it!

My point is that if you keep everyone on the same pay-level/scale then you're going to have a workforce of mediocre operators. If everyone in the military got paid the same, no one would be motivated enough to accept the challenges of leadership! Yes, military members are ALSO monetarily stimulated. Think about it though; what if you hired a complete shift of workers at +McDonald's and paid everyone in 50-cent to $1 per hour increments, from the bottom up? Your manager makes the most and your register-person makes the least. Of course I understand that this wouldn't work in a perfect world since all team members are capable of filling in any position at any time, but think about it like this for me and tell me your thoughts. What IF you had a system established on rewarding achievements by rewarding pay?

<------------  I love this image. It illustrates my point exactly. Let's say that they've all received a boost. No one is making minimum wage in this example, illustrated by all boys standing on a box. The tall boy is enjoying the game and might catch a foul ball. The middle boy thinks it's a good game to watch and enjoys his view while the shorter boy can't see the game. He sees how much the other two are enjoying the game and is motivated by their perception of their individual success (seeing the game). He is motivated to work harder and goes out finding another box. The boxes equal hourly wage and the height of the children represents their potential/desire to succeed. In the left picture, the wages are the same (box height) and the taller boy is thinking "why should I work any harder, I'm getting paid the same and have a better view!" While the shorter boy might also think, "no matter how hard I work, this is the view I'll always have!" Certainly you can expect the quality of their work to differ but what's the motivation?

The picture on the right illustrates the effect of differing wages. Now, all workers have the same view. The shorter boy (harder working/better quality of work) is reaping the reward of his work. The taller boy who is performing to "minimum" standard now receives minimum wage and the others are being paid according to their performance level. Why don't we do this?

Well, business is business. If you pay someone more then the money has to come from somewhere and that's the shareholders. They certainly don't like missing money but at the end of the day it's the worker that suffers so how can we affect that change? BE the change! Perform to our best! Do our jobs with a smile knowing that everything you do affects everyone around you. If you mop the floor and you're too lazy to put out the 'wet floor' sign and someone slips it's going to be your fault! What YOU do affects everyone, everyday! When it comes to setting those wages though, businesses have to look at your "value". What are you bringing to the table that will enhance their business? How is paying you more going to make them more money? +Entrepreneur published an article called How to Set Salaries. While you may not own the business you can certainly arm yourself with the knowledge that other business-owners will judge you by.

My final position is not that minimum wage should be $15, but certainly raised to cut tax benefits that continue to empower people to NOT work whereby making it more lucrative to remain on government assistance than staying employed. For your situational awareness there's a website at ConvertUnits.com that will tell you roughly how much you would make based on an hourly wage. It's pretty eye-opening and I encourage you to check it out.

This handy chart tells you how many hours you need to work to afford a one bedroom apartment. Pretty amazing when you consider the "reality" of the above graphic and compare it to the graphic at left.

Ultimately I feel that this attitude of what I call "owe-er ship" stems from our establishment of childhood values. I've spoken with several parents who give their children money as an allowance but they don't do any chores. I've also spoken with parents who have practically "slave labor" for no allowance! I prefer to meet somewhere in the middle... Our 4 children make their beds, brush their teeth and hair, and put their clothes in the dirty hamper; these are their mandatory duties. While two of them are too young to understand value, and not just in the mathematical sense, of money they can still earn "points" towards rewards such as a movie date with my wife or I, sleep-overs, junk-food Fridays, or other rewards. Their points come from extra duties we assign them. Google has tons of chore charts and ideas for this but my input is that it MUST be visible! Put it somewhere the kids can see it and directly correlate how their behavior affects change.


#minimumwage #hourlyrights
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