Why Being a Dad in America is so Great

Most recently Phil Robertson of +Duck Dynasty fame has been blasted for answering a question. Not only answering but giving his personal opinion to another media source when specifically asked about it. HOW DARE HE! (that's sarcasm, folks) He has since been restored to the show and life goes on however, why the backlash?

Prior to that was the "gay-debate" among the +Boy Scouts of America which caused the BSA to change
their position on permitting openly-gay SCOUTS (not leaders) to continue participating. This was to the tune of over $50 Million dollars in lost revenue and support from private organizations that allow the BSA to continue operating. Unfortunately, that loss has been passed-on to the rest of us Scouting Parents who are still going strong while millions of fellow participants dropped their associations. All over being "gay".

Before that, and recently "resolved", was the gay-in-the-military debacle. I'm only commenting on this because I get asked about it often once people find out I'm in the military. "How do I feel about it?" That's a good question... how DO I feel about it? Professionally, I don't care. I don't believe that being gay, specifically, makes you any more or less mission-capable. I don't believe that every homosexual male wants to attack me in the shower. But, I can tell you that I don't care to serve with an alcoholic,either, but no one asked me about that. So how does being gay in the military affect the mission? To be honest, I still don't know. It's been who-knows-how-long since the vote passed and people are getting married, etc, etc, but I don't see it.

Maybe it's because the "gay" constituent makes up 3-5% of the American population and the military is less than 1%; thereby making the probability of "gay" military members effectively less than a percentage of a percent. However, you wouldn't think that given all the press attention. Before this gets too deep I'll clarify by saying the quotation marks around gay are to simplify the long list of everyone included; lesbian, bi, gay, and trans-gender. 

Here's the big picture though... What we teach our children is undoubtedly what we've been taught. Even if it's wrong, we tend to perpetuate our belief systems, knowledge base, and behaviors. If we believe that homosexuality is wrong then make sure to back that up with whatever facts or figures you have researched and studied when you share this knowledge with your children. If you agree with what's going on around you, don't limit your "oh, so wise" open-minded-free-spirit teach hate and bigotry to your children. For example and as we have seen many times lately, the Christian constituents will blast the internet and social spaces with "it's wrong" and "because the Bible says so" or "it's not natural" and even the rare "God hates fags" comments. These overshadow the supporting "gay" comments who are shut down before they even get to retort by such hate-spewing so-called "Lovers of Christ". 

As a military father of four, upstanding civic member, and out-spoken "do the right thing or don't do it at all" type of person I'll share with you what I taught my children... my personal beliefs with historical background and data to support them. I reinforced my belief system with even more supporting evidence which buoyed my statements leaving no shadow of doubt about "how Dad felt". 

I'll tell you this though, Jesus wasn't hung on a cross as a sacrifice for our sins for us to spend  our lives prosecuting and condemning others for theirs. Jesus dined with thieves, gave relief to harlots, healed the sick, and spent more time giving than receiving. I suppose the difference between tolerance and acceptance is whether it's up to us to condemn it or not. I will not tolerate sub-standard behavior from my subordinates when it comes to mission completion, but I will accept their lifestyle so long as it does not affect performance negatively.

I guess when people ask me "how I feel about it" I can answer, "I wish I could love them more"; it's not God putting hate in my heart, that's MY fault. God is love. More people know what Christians are against than what we are for.

#gay #lgbt #PhilRobertson #DuckDynasty #DDAE

The Holidays are a stressful time for 99% of all American families... it's just a fact. To military families they can be a more stressful time with deployed spouses, divorced parents trading children off, single parents struggling to get by, and even things as simple as the new "hottest toy" costing an arm and a leg. While financial constraints aren't new to any American family military families are further restricted by the inability to use "payday loans" (which should be avoided at all costs by everyone) and at the same time, equally liberated by knowing how much they're getting paid in the next two weeks!

This Christmas was good to us but was abnormally stressful. My father-in-law passed only three months ago so his absence left a void in all of us; we closed on our newly built home and moved-in right before the Holidays (literally the 24th of December), and finding money to buy presents for everyone that was within our budget was practically impossible. What we DID do right though was budget our debt. Yes, that sounds backwards, because it is, but learning how to adapt and overcome as well as shoot, move, and communicate, enables us "military folks" to stay ahead of the game, as long as our head is in the game.

Throughout the year we utilize a budgeting system from Financial Peace University by +Dave Ramsey. It has an amazing spreadsheet that you can enter all your debts into, track savings, monitor spending profiles, etc. Needless to say, it's an endless resource. But... despite all the planning and budgeting, LIFE still happens and by Murphy's Law alone it will happen right before you "need" all that money for gifts or vacations! So what do we do then? Well, I can tell you like most Military Families we take out a loan.

As of yet, there are no figures out on how many millions of dollars Americans borrowed for the Holidays but it's just plain old debt. I really liked the tips from +CreditDonkey and I think you will , too. This is an interesting graphic that I would encourage you to visit also. ------------>------------->--------------->
Regardless, a Google search on Holiday debt will rend you plenty of resources. The question still remains, "Now that we're in this mess, how do we get out of it?"

Well, Dave Ramsey is my go-to source for that answer. This isn't a shameless plug for his God-given talents but if it works... Like I said earlier, the benefit of being a military member in-debt is knowing how much we're going to get paid every two weeks and that we can count on that budget for the remaining term of our enlistment. The trick is not incurring any new debt until it's paid up. Well, the Dave Ramsey plan will help. If you're not able to find a seminar in your local area, you can shortcut the plan and download his spreadsheets.

If you came here looking for specific, step-by-step answers, I'm sorry. I'm not a magic 8-ball. I CAN help you find resources to minimize your debt and tell you what my family and I are going to do. I can also tell you that 2014 is our year to give debt a real punch to the jaw! I'm speakin' it and we're standing by it. Why don't you join us?

#DaveRamsey #debt #holiday #christmas #military #budget
I stumbled across this article on +Military Spouse called Dreading the Friendship-Dating Scene, Again. Here's what I know and is painfully obvious to everyone in the Homo erectus family (that's humans); girls are different from boys! Whoa! Who'd have guessed?! I know, right? Ph.D. material right here. But seriously, girls relate to one another differently therefore we can't expect our spouses to run out and make new "best-ies" at the playground while we're at work. I'm writing this, of course, on the premise that "dad" is the working type and in my case Military, and "mom" is the spouse who takes care of the home. When we move/PCS we go to our new squadron, hopefully met by a sponsor, and begin in-processing, meetings, briefings, etc., and meet, LITERALLY, hundreds of new people almost daily. For us, and usually in all cases, men don't have a problem meeting new people.

A general rule of thumb I like to try and practice is let others introduce themselves to me. I am a VERY outgoing person so when I meet new people I am similar to a small dog... minus the inappropriate leg maneuvers. I'm excited to meet new people! I like people! So, making new "friends" isn't difficult. However, for my introvert wife that isn't exactly a fan of crowds or people, how does PCSing/moving help or hurt relationships? It's devastating! In a word.

For women, specifically, so much of introductions are based on perceptions where men base it on logic. Without another collegiate dissertation I can tell you this... Pace yourself! When you move from one place to another, even in-town, don't feel so distraught about "not knowing anyone". Besides, you won't even like your neighbor if you met them now anyway! With the advent of the telephone loved ones have since been only a dial-tone away. Now with internet you can +Skype family members when you really miss them. Bottom line, take your time. Let the "newness" soak in. Observe your surroundings and relax. You'll meet plenty of people in due time and hate most of them soon enough.

#smithsonian #besties #PCS #introvert
This holiday season represents another year of memories, and another opportunity to celebrate with friends and family. As we gather around the Christmas tree to unwrap presents, sip some 'nog, and depending on where you live, have a snow-ball fight or two, I wanted to share another safety tip with you. If you have a natural tree you can appreciate this. While the video is a little slow to start (about 5 seconds) notice the timer in the lower left corner as the tree ignites. This could be a candle or short in an electric wire. Have pets? If they like to chew things then this may be you after they nibble through the protective rubber housing of the light strands. Again, reviewing your family's emergency action plans in never a bad idea and remembering to "test" your smoke alarms never hurts either.

While I'm writing this I am watching +Discovery Channel's TLC show called Crazy Christmas Lights. They said that 30% of Holiday injuries are people falling from heights or putting up lights, in general. Make sure that your ladder is secure to the ground and don't stand on a ladder on another ladder... Not without videotaping it and posting it here anyway.

For those living in base-housing, double check with your privatized housing office before stringing lights up your third story windows or roof-line. Most offices do NOT allow lights above the second story; just check before-hand and save yourself the trouble. And, if you're like me, hit up +The Home Depot or +Lowe's Home Improvement the day after Christmas to snatch up all their LED's! You can never have too many!

Finally, you can zip over to the National Fire Protection Association's page for more helpful information, more specifically on tree-fire advice and avoidance. Last but not least, remember our deployed military members who are not able to enjoy the holidays with their friend's and families. You can make donations to the +USO or check with the +American Red Cross and their Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

#christmas #tree #uso #americanredcross #fireprevention

In a previous article I had asked "if the internet was making our kids dumber?" I intended to simply ask if anyone else thought that the endless barrage of tablets, cell phones, and portable media devices had somehow shortened our kids' grasp on reality; moreover, had it any effect on their creativity. Several other ideas popped into my head and I continue with this:

It's hard to find opportunities to expand our children's mind. Many of us "old" people reminisce about being "forced" to play outside, carry around Walkman's and trading tapes, and most of all, using our imaginations. I'm not saying that this is common but here's what I notice:

Let's make two groups. One will be a "control group" of children that are raised with appropriate "boundaries" who are allowed to play a video game or two AFTER their work is done and has one working parent. Another group will be children of families in which both parents work full-time and their "spare" time is filled without an internal or external locus of control (Google it), we'll call them the "moderns". Finally, a group of children raised by wolves, for conversations sake. These will be the "Tarzan and Jane"s.

In regards to environmental adaptability who do you think has the advantage?

  • The control group has a "healthy" dose of reality sprinkled with "fun" and may recognize the abnormality of a stranger in a mall carrying a gun. At the least he/she may recognize that it is out of place. These are the kind of kids that may "tattle" a lot. Their version of adapting to a "change" in their environment (mommy said guns are bad) is to alert the parent to the change.
  • The "moderns" spend most of their time in an augmented reality where people aren't injured in car crashes and they are in control of the majority of the environments in which they interact. To these children there may be a common belief that a gun makes a fantastic sound when fired and the bullet always hits its target and stops. These kids are typically the ones that show your kids their daddy's gun that he thought was hidden in the closet and winds up shooting your kid in the chest because he/she "didn't know it was loaded." True story. Ultimately, they failed to adapt to the change in environment because they believe that they are in control of it.
  • Finally, the children raised by wolves. The children in this group live in an ever-changing environment whose only reliability comes in the form of possessions. "What is mine IS mine unless someone tries to take it in which case I will respond with like violence." These are the children raised with no comprehension of socially acceptable standards or moral order. They typically steal because they don't believe it's wrong or hurt others if they want something because they believe it's "what you do to survive". This group's adaptability is limited by how they've been raised.

Within each group the behavior exhibited is "acceptable" because they're all the same. If put in their own bubbles the first group would most likely moderate their own lives against the standards that eventually emerge among them. The "moderns" would take longer to adapt to their environments because they would continue to live in disbelief that the events that unfold as a repercussion to the actions against them are "real", i.e. everything is a simulator to them. Don't we get to re-spawn? This group would most likely kill one-another off first since the third group would establish a hierarchy similar to that of a canine or animal kingdom. This final group also accepts the changes occurring within their environments and believes that they can control them hence, "I will fire this gun and it will kill my target". Again, the locus of control here is skewed but not missing completely.

The problem is that our children operate across all three versions of realities and interact on multiple levels with their peers. This means that we must make certain efforts to teach our children about some things we take for granted as "common knowledge". Playing with guns, one of my favorite examples, is a PRIME example of things that take a little more than common sense, especially when it comes to educating children whose cognitive thought process aren't completely developed before the age of thirteen! (give or take a few years based on sex and environment) Re-read the examples above and think if you know or knew anyone that could have fit into them when YOU were growing up. Do you think that with all of the new distractions from technology that it is any easier to learn them? Or teach them? We need to make sure that, as parents, we pay particular attention to the behavior that we are modeling, the attitudes we display when we are presented with situations, and especially careful with the tone and content of the words that come out of our mouths. Trust me, I'm a huge "carry a gun, shoot a bear, eat the bones" promoter BUT, that kind of attitude will produce ineffective and mal-adaptive young adults which produces idiots in adulthood.

If you are a military member, think of how much time you have to "teach" your children. Now, subtract the time you spend in training, deployments, long work days, and ask yourself if you have enough time NOW? Check back tomorrow for part 2 where I'll connect the question "is the internet making our kids dumber" to "being a GREAT dad"!

"A day that will live in infamy..." Seven of the most famous words in American history. Today I decided to play this sound clip for my four children who have a rich heritage of documented military service spanning several hundred years (if not thousands).

Then I showed them this video. The only color video, not restored, of the Pearl Harbor attack. Long may it be remembered, and never again questioned, America's resolve to seek out and subdue terror on any soil.

Remember to take the time and share America's history, as well as your own, with your children on this day. Our history is left to them and the stories we tell. Don't expect anyone else to tell your story for you. I remember my grandfather's stories of his time in Guadalcanal and into the "nuclear age" as the eight-grade dropout graduated from the +University of Arkansas on the Dean's List and went on to build rockets for our Space program and Cold War defense.

Here I stand with 17 years of Active Duty service, re-telling his stories to my children, and sharing America's rich heritage together with you. Never Forget...

#PearlHarbor #PearlHarborDay #ADayThatWillLiveInInfamy #WW2

My wife and I had a question, and our daughter told us to "Google it"! So we asked Google! There it was, the answer in all of its glory, and none of the drama. That got me thinking about something... Is the internet making our kids dumber? At 35-years young I remember spending hours in the basement with my cousin huddled around a 13-inch black and white TV playing asteroids on an "old" Atari, emerging only for restroom breaks. Even then I got yelled at for not "getting enough sunlight"! At the same time I remembered spending hours in a library because I had a book report to do. I had to find accurate and reliable information relating to the topic; I had to cross-reference authors, titles, and topics; I had to use... a +Card Catalog! Mother of God! I used +Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc. which is still a good read, just not in print anymore (I don't thing). And, I mastered the #DeweyDecimalSystem. Kind of like Algebra, a pointless chore.

In less than 10 seconds I accomplished more than a day in a library used to get me. I searched "dog" and got literally millions of hits to websites 
that told me everything I could ever want to know, and wish I could forget, about dogs. I remember driving the extra 10 minutes to a bigger library because they had more books, hence, larger catalog. Maybe that one would even have a topical reference and not just alphabetical author or titles. What I DID find in the library that takes longer on the internet is a reliable source. Agreeably, +Wikipedia is not an suitable source, even though there are several citations at the bottom of most subjects. In a library I would have the "truth", or at least a reliable version of it, in my hand. No ads, no spam. The internet is fraught with hazards from spam to pop-up ads to very inappropriate pop-up ads all in the quest of "dog".

Honestly, I just wanted to know if my #Weimaraner was shedding too much? A direct Google search didn't reveal anything worthwhile but a library allowed me to search without someone asking for my personal data and I even learned stuff along the way. Have you ever found a book on the way to the book you were looking for? I happens to me quite often, especially in book stores. Did you know book stores had more than magazines? It took a while but I found them amid all the shiny covers and LED lights. So how does a Google search stimulate my child's creative thinking? If Google doesn't have it then it must not be real, right?

Look for Part 2 coming soon!

#Google #encyclopedia #Brittanica #library

That's not a direct quote but... After watching +I am Second's video on +A&E's #DuckDynasty Phil Robertson I am convinced that they would rather see you do something for Jesus than spend $20 on their latest DVD. I honestly believe that they would rather you take that $25 you were going to spend on a Ms. Kay Bobble-head and go buy someone a Bible, or lunch, or both.

Their boy, Reed, I believe, said "...the folks at A&E wanted [them] to make a fuss and fight, etc. but that's not how [they] are." No, I'd say not. I can tell you that I'm not a "reality show" kind of guy. For the longest time I scoffed at the guys at work and generally avoided conversations about the show but, after hearing about the Robertsons' staunch faith and the "stink" that arose after they WEREN'T fighters and so dramatic on-air I caught the next show. Since then, I've skipped everything but +Alabama Crimson Tide football to catch an episode. I think I'm finally caught up and since I've got a little extra coin in my pocket I went ahead and got my wife the Ms. Kay bobble-head to stick on her dashboard. You can never have too many Ms. Kays.

Now, go buy a DVD or T-Shirt. If you've got some coin, buy a duck-call or something. Anything to support the Kingdom of God because I believe that these people are doing it. Also, take time to check out IamSecond.com and see what they're about. Believe it or don't, you're not the only Christian on the planet even though it may feel like it sometimes.

#Phil #Robertson #AETV #DuckCommander #IamSecond
Waffle House on UrbanspoonWhile my wife and I were out for a post-Thanksgiving feast at the local +Waffle House something caught my eye. If we didn't like it so much, we would've run out the door! Yes, that black speck in the photo to the right ------------------> is a palmetto bug. Also known as A FRIGGIN' COCKROACH By the time I'd spotted him it was too late. He was quick, too! The amusing part is that while I was trying to get a photo the waitresses kept walking by so they thought I was getting a shot of them. They are sooo not photo worthy.

As far as the food, delicious as always! I'm always down for some breakfast food but I'd rather not eat WITH the roaches.

#WaffleHouse #Breakfast
The folks over at Empower Fitness were kind enough to believe in our idea that our opinion matters, along with about a million others. I let my wife take this one since it turned out to be a little small for my style, perfect for the ladies, though. My wife is an experienced "gym-rat" having been drug to just about everywhere I go and knows her way around a kettlebell or two.

After receiving the 3-n-1 adjustable weight kettlebell I quickly realized that for $40 you can't beat what you get in the box, even for scrap-weight. After a quick rummage I found the complete and thorough instructions, a video (which was a pleasant surprise), and a fairly well-made kettlebell which has since been subject to much more than the video could entail.
If you're new to fitness then I would strongly recommend starting with something more "manage-able" like the 3-n-1 kettlebell. Give your body some time to adjust to the movements and the new aches and pains you WILL feel with any new regimen. It's also nice to be able to utilize ONE implement for so many workouts. Even a quick Google search for "kettlebell workouts" will render you some above and beyond circuits.
For the experienced gym-goer you can appreciate the simplicity of the kettlebell and the variety this instrument offers. From a simple stretching or warm-up tool to an addition to your routine, this kettlebell finds a place anywhere for any-person at all levels.
That may sound like a lot of fluff but listen to me... after four children, four natural child-births, and three babies over 10-lbs I know what our bodies go through and I can appreciate the value of anything that is well-made and practical. I've been 150 lbs, I've been 230 lbs, and everywhere in between on more than one occasion. There are no "miracle" diets, workouts, gyms, or surgeries to keep you in shape but this ancient piece of iron is simply my "go-to" for a quick workout or detailed routine.
The included video is excellent for beginners and gym-veterans alike and for $40 you can't beat the value. Slide it under a coffee table, in a drawer, or hide it behind a chair, its easy-access-workout can't be beat! Thank you so much to Empower Fitness for entrusting me with this opportunity and I'll close with this... Ladies, even if money is no object and you had to purchase one piece of "workout" equipment, this would be it. Not a treadmill or ab-lounger, the kettlebell. It's compact, diverse, functional, and practical! Be Empowered!!!
So there you have it, my wife's honest opinion. To tell you the truth I was expecting something much more scathing, especially since we're so hell-bent on breaking things to get our point across. Try as we might, this product stood the test. Well done Empower!

#kettlebellfitness #kettlebell #Empower #EmpowerFitness

+Military Spouse magazine ran an article a little while back titled My husband cheated, and our marriage is better than ever! I'm not sure what the service member/subject of this article "does" but I can assure you that as often as he deploys he doesn't seem to have enough to do; also known as "too much time on his hands". I know that MY deployments were 14-16 hour work-days that I had to fit sleep, PT, and eating into the remaining 8-10 hours. Not enough time to find four separate opportunities to cheat on my spouse!

The article starts out with a statement about the anonymous author being "...very brave to share this story and believes it can help others." As much as I wish these things didn't happen, they do, to a nearly un-reportable rate. I say "un-reportable" because not enough people would admit to such an act reliably enough to make it "fact", anonymously or otherwise. That being said, let's just talk about the act and not the author or why things like this happen.

One thing that keeps our family "Fireproof" during deployments is adequate scheduling. Some people thrive on them and others don't know that they need one. Once I arrive in country, I sleep as soon as possible and set my alarm for the schedule I'm given. I go from there... 6-7 hours of sleep, at least an hour for gym, 30 minutes to shower and change for my job, grab food on the way to my post, done! I contact my wife as soon as feasibly possible and we set up a schedule that works to chat, video or otherwise. Let's be honest, technology is so advanced that you can at least email often enough to keep your interest.

In the case of the anonymous author there was more going on than just infidelity. There are indicators, triggers, identifiers that should have been spotted long before the first act of indiscretion! It is never okay to "cheat" on your spouse, period. The fact that this spouse tolerated it and still accepts the behavior is astronomical! The husband doesn't love you! It's clear to everyone but you! If he says "I love you" and punches you in the face, how does that demonstrate love? "I made a mistake, I'm sorry", and you forgive him. He does it again, pulls back and cold-cocks you right in the face, BOOM! But he still loves you, right? Your reaction is to start finding reasons to excuse his behavior because you love him but it's not being reciprocated. According to the article this "punch in the face" happens two more times and the marriage is "better than ever"??!?

I use getting punched in the face as an example because it is a willful act. It involves the person cognitively triggering the motor-neurons to ball their hand into a fist and project it at an accelerated rate towards the other person's body... As intentional as infidelity. Sure, kids run around the back yard and play-fight and hurt one-another but we're talking about adults making clear choices based on "feelings"; bad ones at that. Let me repeatedly punch you in the face and after the first one see if you still stand there and take the next one so willingly just because "I'm sorry"; much less the next three.

I hope that this couple has sought counseling and this is an old story. Otherwise, it is my professional opinion that you take your family, your dignity, and whatever's left of your pride and leave. I can tell you from experience, not mine but co-workers, that more often than not it is the spouse at home, male OR female, that finds time to cheat. I recently saw a Google+ post about someone ranting that military marriages were no different from civilian ones. I countered that they absolutely were because they require a commitment on both parties to the military member's duty to Country. A spouse that says "I do" is saying that they will stand beside and support them in the worst possible scenarios. Infidelity, however, is very different from losing limbs to an IED attack. It can be counseled but should never be accepted, much less tolerated.

Deployments are hot-beds of opportunity for infidelity. As a fledgling (that means I don't have my Ph.D. yet) Psychologist and Marriage & Family Counselor, as well as an often deployed enlisted-military member, I believe I can speak some truth to this issue. First of all, deployments are a part of life in the military. I'm not talking about going out of town for a few days or a weekend; this is leaving the country to perform your war-time duty in another country entirely. This takes preparation across four "pillars": emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual and are the responsibility of both parties.

  • Emotional preparation means being as prepared as possible to endure the hardships of mental and physical separation caused by the deployment. The military, in general, has made spectacular efforts in re-vamping and implementing programs to include dependent care, specifically for deployed spouses and those left at home.
  • Being ready physically means sufficiently preparing yourself for the absence of the other. For example, if you have four children, like my family does, maybe you shouldn't schedule a knee surgery a week after the deployment. With no-one to help you carry groceries and children up stairs, this would be a perfect example of poor decision making. It also means that if you're not used to carrying two babies on your hip, perhaps you should hit the gym?
  • Mental preparation is the hardest because it takes a belief in a system that is not tangible. It is the belief that you ARE prepared emotionally and this deployment is like the rest: uneventful and stress-free. When that perceived reality breaks down because of injuries or learning of an infidelity while deployed, on either person's behalf, then the dominoes start to fall. Mental health dictates emotional health which is stabilized by physical health.
  • Finally, spiritual health requires a belief in something. Whether Christian or not, it requires a belief in something greater than yourself that you can either turn to or blame. Mark Twain once said that religion is the greatest pacifier of society. The spiritual pillar is the strongest one and usually the last one left standing after the emotional, physical, and mental pillars fall.
If you adequately prepare, and it is completely possible to do so (my family's done it several times), then your house should be firmly standing on the four pillars after a deployment. It may be shaken a little by things but standing nonetheless. That being said, let's look at some data.

Among military members, in fiscal year (FY) 2005, 52.9% of our military force is married. As of the Pentagon's 2013 release, 3.5% of military members divorced in 2012. Civilian marriage rates per thousand are 6.8% and divorce is 3.6%. Again, these numbers are per 1,000, and only 44 states tracking/reporting data. We can say that the military's divorce rate is comparable to their civilian counterparts. It's arguably agreeable then that with these number being so close, the cause for dissolution among military members isn't necessarily influenced solely by deployments or service commitments. Now that we've eliminated military commitments what about civilian factors like "plain old infidelity"? Or just dissolution, a.k.a. "I don't love you anymore"? Well, that's for another time...

As far as this article is concerned, I've heard better ideas from Lieutenants fresh out of school than to tolerate such unacceptable behavior in a marriage. There are so many positive things that could have come from this article; how she developed personally or spiritually from the events, how she overcame her insecurity that fueled his infidelity, the paths she took to convince him to seek counseling, or how becoming a single-mother isn't a dredge on society. Instead the magazine went with this article, disappointing to be sure.

#milspouse #militaryspouse #cheating #infidelity #militarymarriage
Tropical Smoothie Cafe on UrbanspoonThis was my first time at #TropicalSmoothieCafe but I had two meals and almost got a brain-freeze on the smoothies! The flat breads were amazing and the rest of the guys had wraps. The only complaint was that they weren't "big" enough. Then again, I typically eat like a horse and everyone at the table consumes at least 3-thousand calories a day (we're 'meat-heads').

The cafe was clean, they bring the warm food to your table, and still offer a military discount without having to ask. The only thing I don't like, and I've noticed a few businesses have taken to it, is being called by my first name for my order. Especially if the kids working there are hardly 18. I'm not your friend and you're not here to help. Take my order, shut your face, make my sandwich. Let's not lead each other on like we "really care" about one another.

Other than my own opinions though, this place was delicious, a little pricey, but in comparison to +Moe's Southwest Grill next door it's much cheaper. Stop by, eat up, get out!!

I was fortunate enough to be one of many recipients to see a special pre-screening of the movie +Lone Survivor starring #MarkWahlberg recently and wanted to share this with you... First of all, a huge thanks to +Universal Studios Entertainment and Film 44 for sponsoring the military community for this screening. It was very generous of them and one of the most sincere gestures I've been witness to as of late. The producer was on-hand to explain why this event was so important to him after six-years of production. If you're not familiar with OPERATION Red Wings then you may recognize the name Michael Murphy. He was a +U.S. Navy SEAL and +CrossFit® followers may be more familiar with the workout "Murph". In either case you can see his Medal of Honor Citation here.

After reading those you'll already know how it "ends", and obviously, the title of the movie gives it away. However, it is important to remember that for a Medal of Honor to be awarded there must be at least one eye-witness that initiates the award; hence, the #LoneSurvivor. I love a good movie and I appreciate true stories even more! This movie was a welcome change to the films currently in theaters. The producer stated that the film took so long to produce (6 years) because "[they] wanted to make sure they got everything right and honored those that died" as well as "show[ing] the proper respects to the men that still operate" in these environments. Without having been there I would say that they nailed it.

Prior to seeing this movie the only "war-scene" that came close to demonstrating the chaos and turmoil of direct contact was Saving Private Ryan and the opening D-Day landing scene. I was so immersed in the footage that I actually ducked and jerked as I watched the events unfold. There is plenty you can review before seeing the film and afterwards conclude that they got practically every detail right. The terrain, the events, the actions of the SEAL team, everything... There's also a book by Michael Murphy's father, Seal of Honor and is available from Amazon. Of course, my copy is autographed "3-2-1, Go!!" by his dad... kind of a big deal, but anyway.

This movie paints as accurate a portrayal of courage under fire that has ever been depicted. So often the word "hero" is used to describe anyone, and sometimes anything, from a boy saving a cat in a tree to a bystander that broke a car window to save a dog. While these are nice gestures, the real heroes are the men and women that wake up everyday and defend freedom wherever it is threatened. If it weren't for Marcus Luttrell's tenacity and dedication to these basics tenants of freedom then America would cease to exist, terror would run wild, and we wouldn't enjoy the freedoms we have today. 

Unfortunately for YOU this movie doesn't come out until December 27 but I'll be standing in line for this one. Set your +Fandango Fan-Alert for this one and while you wait, go read the book or watch this interview with Marcus about a million times. See www.lonesurvivorfoundation.org 

#LoneSurvivor #MarkWahlberg #SEAL
I needed to purchase more uniform items and found myself in the individual T-shirt section of my clothing sales. This, of course, is opposed to the six-pack of sand-tees for $10 that litter the shelves. I found myself among the
<------- Duke-brand Dri-Fit shirts for $12 and the +Under Armour heat gear tactical short sleeve shirt for $22... ---------->
What's a boy to do?

I can tell you this, I don't regret spending the money. Typically I'm a tightwad and will buy a dozen of the cheap shirts and replace them every month as opposed to buying the more expensive "better" product once in a blue-moon. In this case, #UnderArmour was the clear winner.

Below is a copy of the review I sent to UA:
In the past 17 years of service I've had many jobs, most recently an Aircraft Mechanic (dirty, just plain dirty). There have been many days that I leave work after 12-16 hour-long days covered in sweat, grease, hydraulic fluid, sealant, and engine oil. It is convenient that our standard uniform items, specifically our t-shirts, come in a 6-pack for less than $10. After a few weeks of the kind of abuse I briefly shared above they meet the garbage can. If nothing else, they hold sweat and odor, the color bleaches out, and they stretch and fade. While this is typical of most cotton products my co-workers and I are a little harder than most on our clothes.
Over the past three weeks I've put your Tactical Shirt through my own set of testing. Unfortunately, I represent only a small constituent of maintainers that also include Hydraulic, Engine shop, Electrical, and Environmental specialists. However, each of us "wear" our clothing differently. In the little time I had I did the following:
- Wore my shirt for 3 days without washing (I live in Florida and it is 86 deg today)- Hung various items or clipped them to the shirt (we always have to wear our credentials on the flightline)- Performed routine maintenance (the difference between 'routine' and 'heavy' is the amount of time it takes to complete a task)
In each of these "tests" the shirt performed remarkably and recovered with no signs of wear. During the "wear test" I sweat profusely (I know, it's gross, but necessary in the name of science!), rolled the shirt up with my gym clothes at the end of the day, and wore it again the next day. This was the most revealing test to me as the T-Shirt dried with no salt-stains and didn't have a horrible odor afterwards. It was a bit musty but no one around me could tell.. believe me, I asked. During the "hanging test" I had my credentials clipped to my shirt with a gator-clip that typically pulls the fabric and even leaves rust stains. I carried my glasses by the collar which also stretches the fabric. In both cases the shirt re-shaped the next day and any stains from the clip washed out like magic! The collar also held its shape day after day prior to washing. Finally, I inspected jets, crawled around landing gear, and lubricated flight controls and got what I would call "moderately-dirty". I didn't have grease stains on me but I did have brake dust, light hydraulic fluid stains, and some evidence of sealant on me. Trust me, I've worked harder but the past few weeks didn't present that opportunity. In the end everything washed out of the shirt and you couldn't tell it was dirty. Again, this was after three days of wear so some of the stains were older than others. Ultimately I am overjoyed with this product! I also got regular "What kind of shirt is that? That's nice!" comments from several co-workers throughout the weeks.
Yup, that's real, folks. Maybe a bit disgusting but real. It was all in the name of science. I recently received several discount coupons to purchase more UA gear and there is a banner on this site for 10% to all military personnel 24/7. Overall I am very satisfied with this product and look forward to purchasing more. If nothing else I'll look nice!

#UA #duke #tshirt #HonestReviews
So I was thinking that a "Dad Olympics" might be fun. The events could include:
  • Tying a tie
    • Or a bowtie, yikes!
  • Fixing a broken toy
    • Not just a +LEGO item, but their favorite toy.
  • Finding +ESPN on ANY cable provider
    • +NCAA Football and +NFL games run on different networks. Can you beat the kickoff whistle or will you be watching replays?
  • How much concrete/lumber/or nails do you need for a project?
    • Math... grrr. Well, this playground ain't gonna build itself. Thanks a lot +Home Depot.
  • Selecting the best lure/bait for a particular fish given atmospheric conditions and water temperature.
    • If you read +Bassmaster magazine this should be no problem.
  • Selecting the best golf club for a given hole provided yardage and green-speed... Then make the putt.
    • This is the most difficult and could be a gold-medal event.
  • First-Aid. You don't have to be the +American Red Cross but, come on, you're the dad!
    • Removing a bee's stinger and finding where you, or mommy, put the cleaning wipes and band-aids.
    • An alternate event for this could be finding a straw and "sucking it up!".
    • Yet another event could be first-aid for your daughter. How to keep from sobbing yourself when your little girl is hurt and crying uncontrollably.

It sounds kind of silly, maybe even fun, but what are you passing on to your children? "Typically" dads are the masculine, grass-cutting, oil-changers of the family. Are you teaching your children? Even if you don't have any boys and a house-full of four daughters (I know a guy like that) do they know how they should be cared for or to care for themselves? It may sound a bit chauvinistic but it's my opinion and I'm entitled to it. I know of driving-age girls that don't know what to do when their car dies on the interstate. It's a scary experience so what are you teaching them? Boys, too, but typically girls are a bit more sensitive about being stranded.

My sons wear zip-up ties for now and often see me tying a bow-tie on with ease. I shave with a straight razor and sometimes I share the soapy-froth of my badger-haired applicator brush and "shave" my boys' face (sans razor). I regularly include, or exclude for safety reasons, every member of the family when it's time to build something. If nothing else, the children stand a safe distance away from the table saw while I cut a new bird house; each child wearing his and her-own safety glasses and ear protection. My oldest two love golf and are so much better than me at it that I don't take but one of them with me at a time. At least it gives me a chance. With four children we've had plenty of experience to treat a myriad of injuries from a broken leg on a trampoline (pretty incredible), to splitting heads open because she wanted to see if she could see with her eyes closed (it made more sense to her), and plenty of bumps and bruises that they give one another. Side note... one of my favorite sites, from which the image at right came from, is +Art of Manliness. I encourage you to check it out.

I'm not saying that I'm gold-medal material but I'd certainly be making a run for the podium! Unfortunately, our children are always learning which means that all the times we make snide comments about a neighbor, speak poorly about our spouse under our breath or to their face, and exhibit generally "bad" behavior, our children soak up every moment of it. Remember, their ears haven't been damaged by loud music and industrial noise yet and they hear every word we say... sometimes what we think, too. 

Oh! That reminded me of something funny my wife said last night. 
"Andy Warhol poops on a canvas and we call it art."
"If you poop in your pants it's called a fart."
I corrected her and reminded her it's called a "shart". After a quick Wiki... well, do your own fact-checking.

Fortunately the kids were already in bed asleep so we enjoyed that moment almost to tears in laughter. But there again, it was a "safe zone" in which we could talk to one another like adults and share a crude moment without the chastisement of our children's eyes. Even they have gotten to the point where they are beginning to correct one another and us when they see or hear something inappropriate. Good on them!

This should all be Fatherhood-101 stuff but how do other dynamics affect it? What about single-parent families that don't have a feminine counterpart to provide the protagonist/antagonist? What about military families that may act as single-parent units for many months out of the year? How does death or long-term illness affect the sender-receiver relationship? I'll tell you, only because it's a shorter topic, that military life is a very tumultuous experience for a child and the younger they are the worse it is. The physical and emotional attachments are harder to solidify and nearly impossible depending on the sex of the child and emotional state of the returning member. The long-term effects can be explained like this: Look at any imaginable outcome and take a magnifying glass to it. It doesn't "fix itself" and you can't ignore the problem. This is where organizations, like the +National Fatherhood Initiative that has a host of resources for first-time and veteran dads, are a god-send.

I know it's not +FATHERS DAY but enjoy the free advice. There's plenty more where that came from! You don't get a second chance at this folks. Do it right and Never Quit!

#fatherhood #manliness #fatherhood101 #dad #beingadad #dadolympics
While the result or act of war is not always "good", there are some good things that come out of it:

 Some of my favorite "art", for example.
(Courtesy of YANK magazine)

The feeling of Patriotism and it seemed that "everyone" pitched in. (This is Audie Murphy, for those of you that don't know)

Did I mention art? And some pretty swanky hairdos.

Nose Art attached to some pretty amazing aircraft.

Women in the workforce.

Actually, this might not have worked as well as we had planned. I can only imagine that the first sexual harassment incident came shortly after this.

And finally, a legacy of honor.

While war is not always avoidable, +Sun Tzu Said....."war is of the utmost importance to the state." It stimulates patriotism, revitalizes industry, and inculcates the people with the importance of "winning"; not the Charlie Sheen version though. On this +Veterans Day we remember all of our brave men and women, past and present, who stand between the innocent and the oppressed and stand up for the global right of those who are not able to defend themselves.

Buy someone lunch, shake someone's hand, and buy a poppy from your local +Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

#vfw #noseart #pinup #yank
You would have thought I hung the moon! And if you didn't know... I did! On a trip to +Best Buy today I got to see all the new +Samsung USA Televisions and boy-howdy was that tough! Like letting a girl choose chocolate; you'll be there all day! Anyway, As I was extracted from the TV department much like an American POW we skirted the perimeter of the store where I found the Clearance Section. Come on, guys, help me out here... this is the full-price-for-the-poor-man Mecca!

Naturally, after spending at least 30 minutes talking about the new +Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with the Samsung folks and almost an hour looking at TVs, no one on my 6-man firing team wanted to watch daddy wander another section of ANY store. Honestly, I wish I had a picture of it.
Kids - "Where's Daddy going?"
Mom - UGH! "Come on, daddy's lost in the clearance section, again."
Me - "I'm not lost. Look! Bargains!"

I can tell you that I was disappointed that it was nothing like +Bed Bath & Beyond's "Beyond" section but I came out the winner here. I picked up the +Oreck Corporation's newest bagless upright for $157 out the door. You can see here that it retails for almost $400 but since it didn't have a box, well, poor me. This review is kind of a big deal since we've gone through countless vacuums and haven't found one that DOES suck! (as opposed to doesn't, see what I did there?) And I know that mom's aren't the only ones doing the floors so I hope there are some men out there that can appreciate a product that is worth what you pay for it, even at full-price.

We got home and after a quick operational check this thing sailed around the living room and went from carpet to tile with ease. Here's the neat part; when transitioning from carpet to tile (and vice-versa) you typically have to stop, turn a dial or make other height-adjustments, resume vacuuming, and then chase all the little pieces around that the spinning brush sends under the stove or fridge. And let's be honest, you only REALLY get those dropped cheerios after they land on the transition piece to the carpet. Well, how about this little gem has a thumb button for the on/off AND the roller-brush. That's right, once you roll from carpet to tile, or anytime for that matter, you can thumb the little "roller" button and vacuum your carpet without beating it up if you like or roll straight into the kitchen without stopping. Yes, I am impressed.

We haven't gotten into the $600 +Dyson world yet because we're not millionaires! Come on! Seriously?! I wouldn't have bought this one if it wasn't $157 but I CAN tell you that it's worth the $400 retail price tag on it. I don't have $400 either but, hey, who's judging here? Another nice thing about this vac that is often duplicated by many other companies is the dirt release part of the bagless models. On other models we've purchased you had to reach down with your hand and un-latch the trap door on the bottom to empty it and get "yuck" on your hands in the mean time; or even when you close and latch it. This one, like it's Dyson counterpart, has a top-mounted handle and rear-mounted trap-door lever that also closes the door so you never have to bend down except to grab the handle to empty it. Another nice thing is the insane amount of cord! Holy mackerel! I've had to move to no less than three different outlets just to do the down stairs before but not with this baby!

Ergonomically this was an alright unit as well. I'm right at 6 foot 3 and I didn't have to stoop over to push this around. Speaking of its weight, it's noticeably lighter but not by much. But, since it is considerably easier to maneuver it feels lighter and won't have you cussing the architect that put your furniture in the wrong spot. Oh wait, that was you that wanted to get a three-piece couch with three-hundred cushions... never mind.

So what do we have:
  • I practically stole it from Best Buy.
    • Check those hidden corners of the store, look for ads
  • Seamless and literally non-stop transitioning from carpet to tile to carpet
    • Thumb button on/off for roller AND unit power
  • Emptying the container
    • Quick release handle opens and closes trap door for a "clean getaway"
  • Power Cord length
    • Covered the entire down-stairs without re-plugging
  • Attachments
    • Hose-handle is ergonomic and releases for quick cleaning and easy re-attaching
  • Weight and Use
    • Comparable weight but considerably easier to use
    • Reportedly MUCH lighter than the Dyson
So the BAD news... If you check the reviews on the bottom of the Oreck site they have a common theme:

  • People with high-shedding pets complained about the cyclone "clogging" after multiple uses and having to manually empty.
    • To be fair, there are no follow up reviews of these people that purchased another vacuum to compare it to. 
  • Some complaints about the attachments not staying on.
    • I haven't had this problem and the "turn-and-click" attachments work fine for me
So there you have it. The good, the bad, and the honest. I hope you can purchase with confidence knowing that this product had been "TESTED".

#oreck #vacuum #dyson #bestbuy
A few months ago I had posted the last time someone in this house had lost a tooth and guess what, she lost another one! Last time her older sister was giving her a hard time about the tooth fairy not being real. If "last time's" letter wasn't enough check this one out...

Yes, I... er, the tooth fairy had a great time in fairy land and the only way that "she" could exist is if little people believe in "her." Unfortunately, I was laughing so hard that my wife had to field this one. If she wasn't such a wonderful artist she wouldn't have been able to squeeze out a poorly-scrawled image of something. However, even this simple task wouldn't have been possible if Ava hadn't have left four different colored crayons in the bag with the tooth and the note. Fortunately she didn't ask anymore questions like she did last time. +What Does the Tooth Fairy Do With Our Teeth?, etc...

She got away with $2 this time so she's up to $21 now. I think she's planning on buying a house by the time her molars come in.
Burger King on UrbanspoonI know that many people don't +Urbanspoon their +BURGER KING visit however, this one needed it. I walked in and needed to wash up since I had just left the gym and didn't want to handle what was expected to be a wonderful dinner, with nasty "gym-hands." After entering the restroom and treading across the shredded and strewn paper towels I
navigated my way to the sink. A few pumps of the soap dispenser revealed one of two things: either everyone is a hand-washing freak and used all the soap or no one is washing their hands and I'd better be VERY hungry.

Well, hungry I was and to the cashier I went. The order went well and the wait wasn't terrible but I should've left when there was as much food on the floor as their was on my tray. The neat trick they do now using the narrow fry "tray" is pretty neat, too. Instead of filling it up they take what looks like a medium and dump it on its side so the fries take up the tray. Well played BK.

Tell you what though, how 'bout if I never visit your store again. I figured my
nearly year-long absence was enough but, no... So long Fatty-King!

As Veteran's Day 2013 approaches I am most certainly grateful for the service of our fore-fathers as well as my own ancestors. Don't forget to get your poppies from your local +Veterans of Foreign Wars and listen to the stories of your remaining WW2 vets. As I was attending a function this weekend I was sitting next to an older man and we started to talk about our occupations.

He is a shorter man, but most people are shorter than me anyway, and he had a hobble to him supported by a cane that he had found in the park; it was a contractors wooden flag post since he had forgotten his at home. I asked him what the park we were at was used for during Florida's "winter" and he said they were expecting almost 200 rigs next week. "Rigs" are apparently the term for RV's and their occupants are "snow-birds"... silly me. Anyway, we began talking about how he and his wife of 45-years traveled the country after he retired until her passing and their vast RV-ing experience and his recommendations. By the way, he recommends a motor-home based on the fact that if it's raining outside you can simply back into your spot and setup later. Trailers would require you to get soaked just to setup. Again, a wealth of knowledge! After her passing he moved into the park and began work as a maintenance man there. Interesting story, but what did he retire from, you ask?

Yes, what DID he retire from? So, I asked! He was a "flyer". What did he fly? He was a gunner on the TBM Grumman. Taking into consideration his appearance, guess-timated age, flying status, and reluctance to discuss his prior occupation, I could tell this guy had something pretty-stinkin'-awesome about him. I accessed my brain's vast aviation knowledge and recalled the Grumman name and asked him when he flew. He said he was a gunner in the TBM, not TBF, Grumman during WW2. He participated in the D-Day invasion and after they liberated France his group was sent to the Pacific. He was at Iwo Jima when they bombed and shelled the island to soften it for the ensuing invasion force of Marines. Shortly after that his group got orders that they would be "heading up North" but they couldn't tell them where. Turns out he was on Okinawa shortly after we dropped "the bomb"s on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. That was all... He didn't provide much more detail than that and as a budding psychologist I could tell the recollection of events was beginning to "shake" him. I asked him if his group was aware of the horrors of the Pacific or if they were so concerned with their own war that they had no idea of the atrocities. He said the DID know and many of them were immediately "affected". I could only imagine.

Stories like this and many more are passing at a rate of 600 per day. Make sure to shake a vet's hand whether you support "war" or not and remember that freedom is not a "right". It is fought for and defended by less than 1% of the population. You can show your respect for these warriors, past and present, by supporting the various organizations that represent them when they no longer can; especially our latest generation of Wounded Warriors that suffer long-lasting and even hidden wounds. Organizations such as  +Carry TheLoad, the +Veterans of Foreign Wars, The +American Legion, +USO+American Red Cross, and #WoundedWarriorProject, just to name a few, are outstanding supporters of our Veterans. When considering a list of charitable organizations to donate to you can check them out at +Charity Navigator who rates each organization and evaluates their actual donor status.

This Veteran's Day there are several local businesses that will be demonstrating their unparalleled support by giving free meals and/or discounted services. A thorough list of these businesses can be found by clicking here. Other businesses that are supporting specific charities, such as +On The Border, have flyers that you will need to print out to receive credit.

#veteransday, #veteransday2013, #CarryTheLoad, #VFW, #RV, #snowbirds, #DDay, #IwoJima, #Marines, #USMC, #veterans, #USO, #AmericanRedCross
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