If you’ve noticed that things have been quiet lately here in my little corner of the blogosphere, it’s because I’ve just been so busy. So what have I’ve been up to?
- The kids go to schools of the SF Unified School District, and there have been several field trips, and one graduation — although they call it a “promotion” (5th to 6th grade), and so being a participant in those activities is #1.
- Planned, prepared, shopped for and executed a birthday party for the older child. After the party, I certainly have a new appreciation for my son’s teacher. She has to deal with 4x the kids, for a whole school year. Whew!
- Read Orson Scott Cards’ Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide , and Jim Butcher’s Grave Peril and Summer Knight, and Tom De Haven’s It’s Superman!: A Novel
- Planned for a (much needed) vacation
- Worked “in the field” almost every weekend
- Work on post production when I’m “off the field”
I’ve cut down on commenting on others blog, reserving the right to speak only when I truly have something valuable to add. Of course, I still have the blogs in my Google reader, so that I can keep tabs on things.
But I’m beginning to realize that this blog will probably be “seasonal”, with more posts most likely in the Winter and Spring, and less in the Summer and Fall.
Hopefully, you’ll still come by.
Thanks for reading!
A few months ago I wrote about the Simple Pleasures in my life. Here’s a follow up post with 5 more:
- Sleeping in late – this is especially high on my list, as being self-employed and with two kids, my days are often long, and I work on weekends, too. So the occasional morning of sleeping in is really welcomed. After a couple of intense days, there’s nothing like stretching out early in the morning, look lovingly at one’s partner still in deep slumber, and deciding to catch a few more winks. Next thing you know, it’s 10:30 AM.
- An afternoon nap – almost a corollary to #1: I’m often up late working, or I have to wake up early to get in yet more work. Sometimes, before I pick up the kids, or perhaps during the time they do their after school homework, I sneak in a nap. Oh, so delicious! The bedroom faces towards the west, so we usually get the warm sunshine streaming in, and a short 15-20 minute nap really does wonders.
- Beach revisited – we’re having terrific weather, and yesterday we took the kids out to the beach as a reward for having a great week at school. Being there reminded me of my earlier post, and now I could expand on it. Lying down on the warm sand, with the light ocean breezes sweeping over you is quite nice. Also nice, ironically, is rolling up your pants and getting into the freezing cold water. We were playing “tag” with the ocean, and got totally caught up in it — not to also mention the older kid got totally soaked from falling into the water!
- Riding a bike – I’m not a runner or jogger because my knees complain afterwards, and to me it seems like it’s a lot of work to not get very far very fast. However, riding a bike is different. It can be more leisurely when you want, but also an intense work-out when you want. Plus, you cover more ground. The clickety-click of the gear system, scenery rolling by (Golden Gate Park, especially), all makes for an experience to relax the mind.
- Listening to the kids – Their mom and I often enjoy listening to their conversations, which are often humorous and “cute” because kids say the funniest things (without meaning to be funny, usually). When that happens we just look at each other and smile — much more preferable to scolding them for something bad that they did.
Have a great weekend!
When I spoke of the 7 things I’m teaching my kids, one was keeping a positive attitude.
I thought I’d expand on that a bit.
- All things equal, positive attitude wins out – if you had to choose between two job candidates, both with the same credentials, same skillset, and such, but one has the cheery, genuine I-want-to-know-you kind of smile, whom would you select?
- All things UNequal, positive attitude wins out – or how about if one candidate is quite a bit more qualified than the other candidate, but the other is more personable, and you can tell she would work well within the team, whom would you choose? Along those lines, I tell my son that we may not be the tallest, fastest, strongest, best-looking, smartest, wittiest person — although we can certainly strive towards excellence — but how far we can get in life can depend a lot on a positive attitude.
- Positive Attitudes Helps You Overcome Setbacks – one of the most upsetting things the older brother does is to have fits over minor setbacks, such as forgetting to write a word in an alphabetizing exercise and needing to start over. I tell him with a bad attitude that puts you in a sulky mood, unwilling to go further, how will the work get done.0
- Positive Attitude invites compassion – I tell my son that if he has a good attitude, when he is stuck at something, I am more than happy to help, even if it’s an “easy” question (up to a point). However, I tell him, a bad attitude from him puts me in a bad mood also, and then I’m just not that open to helping.
- Positive Attitude is Charisma – I touched on this in my D&D post, but we’ve heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”, really refers to our charisma. Of course, we need to know something, have some skill or expertise, but charisma is what gains another person’s trust — meaning a customer or client, or employment, or cutting through some red tape, etc. Having a positive attitude is really an important component to having a strong charisma.
It’s not easy raising two rambunctious little boys, and I must admit, I sometimes lose patience with them — that’s when I take my own time-out and go read in my bedroom while their mom takes over.
But I’m hoping that constant drilling and reminders now will help them tremendously when they’re older.
Even before I started this blog, I’ve been gleaning the various tips and tricks that abound in the Blogosphere, so much like a baleen whale, taking them in huge volumes, trying to filter out the best ones. Here’s what I have thus far — I’m calling it the ABC’s of Blogging. Enjoy.
- Attract readers with compelling headlines
- Books – read them to help improve your writing
- Creative, insightful, or timely Content is what will keep your readers Coming back — Crappy Content will torpedo Clever titles
- Dedicate time researching for and thinking about your posts, Do spend more than ten minutes writing
- Edit, Edit, Edit — good writing comes from rewriting
- Find your niche, if you want
- Get into a habit of writing regularly
- Have a conversational tone in your posts and comments to build a welcome Haven for your readers
- Inspiration and Ideas for posts comes from everywhere — news, conversations, comments, so pay attention
- Jot down ideas in a little notebook that you keep close by
- Keep a regular schedule of posting to train your audience — consider an editorial calendar
- Leverage the power of a blog in your business
- Monetize your blog if you’d like, but Moderation is key — no one likes to be bombarded by ads
- Never spam — follow the golden rule
- Offer true value in your posts, Offer an e-book, Offer an RSS feed and Offer full feeds
- Profanity should checked at the door — your blog is Public and little People will find it
- Queen. Content can be Queen, too — blogging is equal opportunity, and many of my favorite bloggers are women
- Reassess your blog Regularly to see if you’re on the Right track, or if you need to Re-adjust your direction
- Stumbleupon and other Social networking tools can help people find you, but may not be necessary if you have good, clear content and some SEO
- Try to keep your stat-gazing to a minimum — Too much attention means you’re wasting Time
- Use humor if you’ve got the skillz
- Visit other blogs you like and comment meaningfully on posts when you have something to say
- WordPress is your friend
- “X-it” the online world on a regular basis — go out, take a walk, talk to real live people, have a life
- Zee truth once again is that Content is King!
- Yes, um…I deliberately left “Y” out to see if people actually read the entire thing, Yeah, that’s it, that’s my storY and I’m sticking with it!
It Starts at Home
When I hear about crimes — white collar, blue collar, whatever-color-collar — this first thing that comes to mind is how were these perpetrators raised? How were they as kids? What was life like at home then?
Certainly, they may have made mistakes as an adult/young adult that really set them on a wrong path — failure to foresee consequences of an action (see my post on alternate time-lines).
However, I bet a majority had detrimental habits that were instilled during childhood.
In fact, sometimes we do get those back-stories, and often we hear that the parents had no clue that their children were troubled.
To me, that’s shocking.
I hope I have SOME clue to how my kids emotional growth is developing.
A Disconnect Between Parents and Children
I know times are so much different than say the stereotypical nuclear family of the 1950′s. Today, because often both parents work and the media (cable/satellite TV, internet) and technology (computer, cellphones) are so pervasive, it is so easy to have a disconnect between parents and their kids. Parents are too tired when they come home, and kids are too busy in their little own world of video games, mySpace, etc. Interactions between them boil down to simple yes-no questions and answers.
One the the things I think is important is to talk to the kids and understand how they’re growing, especially emotionally and intellectually.
I try to find out as much as possible without being too nosy, and use regular utilize a topic to explain a appropriate principle. Thus far, these are the ones that have come up fairly often:
7 Principles I’m Trying to Instill in My Kids
- Respectful Communication – Kids have motormouths that run a mile a minute, and when they talk, the speech is frequently filled with um’s and an’then’s. When that happens I always ask them to slow down. I also require them to stop talking when their mother or I am talking to them — sometimes I will ask them, “What did I just say?” to see if they were listening. I explain that they should wait to talk until they have understood what was told to them, and I want them to look me in the eye when they talk, not stare off somewhere.
- Attitude is Everything – I will get more upset over a bad, whiny attitude than I will over something “bad” that they did.
- Saying “I’m Sorry” – I do not want to hear excuses for everything. If you did something wrong, take responsibility for it. Know that everyone makes mistakes, and if you made a one, apologize, fix the problem if needed, and move on.
- Keeping Promises – The reason to keep promises now is to become trustworthy. A few years from now, you’ll want to do things like go out on your own, stay out late, learn to drive, etc. If you’re not trustworthy by then, I will not let you do those things.
- Anything worthwhile comes from hard work and effort – All the things that you want right now (toys, video games) require money. Money requires hard work. Right now, the older one is earning “stars” each week, a minimum of five, to get a Nintendo DS if he earns five or more stars for six straight weeks.
- Learn to See the Bigger Picture – We use examples to see if the kids will see the bigger picture, in order for them to learn the concept of long-term gains. For instance, we normally ask that they read 60 minutes, and then they get to play video games for 60 minutes. Sometimes we’ll offer them 30 extra minutes of playing time if they read for just 15 minutes more.
- What the Opposite of Love Is – As a kid what the antonym of love is, and he’ll probably say hate. However, I explain that the opposite of love is selfishness, thinking and caring only about yourself, not being sensitive to other people’s feelings, not sharing toys, not saying hi or thank you. Basically, you can squeeze a lot of negative qualities into that definition, in order to show how good love is. That way, we avoid the abstract concept of hate and demonstrate what love is.
I don’t know how successful my strategy will be, but I’m hoping some of these will eventually rub off on them and serve them well throughout their lives.
At the least, down the road, I want to be able to look back and be able to say, I was involved in my children’s upbringing, that I did my best, and I did have SOME clue to what they were doing.
If you have kids, or are around kids a lot, let me know what other principles I may have missed.
Or, if the kids are all grown up, how did they turn out?
There are thousands (or millions) of sites devoted to finances, financial responsibility, getting/staying out of debt. Visit any self-help section at your local bookstore and you’ll also find hundreds of books devoted to the same topic.
I thought I’d sum up what I’ve seen, read, and (for the most part) practice – the number one rule to financial responsibility. However, to write only one sentence seemed almost like…cheating. So, in the interest of verbosity, I did some more thinking on the subject. Here’s what I came up with:
- Earn More Than You Spend – the optimist version
- Spend Less Than What You Earn – the pessimist version
- Savings = Revenue – Expenses, where Expenses < Revenue – the mathematician’s version
- Net Income = Gross Income minus Total Expenses and Deductions (you did save those receipts, right?) - the accountant’s version
- Buy 1 less Cup of Coffee a week to save $20 a month – the conscientious Starbuck goer’s version
- Every month, pay into your retirement, then your bills, then whatever’s left is extra – the Financial Guru’s version
- Every month, pay into your retirement, then your bills, then half of what’s left can go into the “games” – the Reformed Gambler’s version
- Every month, pay into your retirement, bills, and then buy ONLY one pair of shoes (that costs less than what you have remaining) – the compulsive shoe buyer’s version
- Every day, save a dollar, spend the rest – the homeless person’s version
- When you see a 10 dollar bill on the ground, DON’T pick it up – the Bill Gate’s version