I am Not Returning My Diploma to Liberty University, Nor Did I Vote for Trump

Perhaps the truly most rebellious stance to have these days is to be neutral… about anything. We live in an undeniably polarized culture where being “outraged” by the behavior of other people is all the rage.

Meanwhile, my goal is to remove myself from a predictable system where I am forced to choose one side (and their ethnocentric agenda), then demonize the other side (along with their own ethnocentric agenda). I refuse to maintain a mindset in which I have to constantly have an emotional response ready for the half of the population…. who is perceptually wrong.

In case you are unaware, a growing number of Liberty University graduates are choosing to return their diplomas to Liberty University, on the basis that the current chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr., has been openly supportive of controversial President Trump’s policies and responses.

The “Return Your Diploma to LU” movement, which currently contains more than 700 members, even has its own hashtag; which is #grandstander.

This is a buzzing story.

Journalists from secular publications have been quick to reach out to the members of the group. I know this because I’ve been keeping up with the comments on the closed group.

Meanwhile, I personally am proud to have graduated from Liberty University in 2005 with an English Degree. My attendance at Liberty University helped shape my views, my identity, and my future. I am proud, not ashamed, of my diploma from Liberty University.

Of all ironies though, the fact I did not vote for Donald Trump goes back to Dorm 15 at Liberty University back in 2003. It was during my years at LU that I secretly converted from a Republican to a Libertarian.

My friend Ryan, who lived in the dorm room next to mine, was able to convince me through his emotional intelligence, that America will only continue to be more divided and polarized if we continue to only choose one of two popular political sides (with its own non-negotiable agenda), opposed to the other side.

I do not condemn anyone participating in the “Return Your Diploma to LU”.

Nor did I actively support President Trump being elected; in fact, it was during my attendance at Liberty University that I retired my allegiance to the Republican Party.

But who knows, maybe had I not gone to Liberty University, I would still be a Republican today and would have voted for Trump?

Maybe the ultimately irony, though, is that in my attempt to remain neutral in a polarized society, I could still end up causing someone to be outraged.

 

 

Dear Holly: The Pink Unicorn Your Brother Won for You at the Fair

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend we made our annual visit to the Williamson County Fair. Your brother Jack had entered an amazing picture of a sheep so we enjoyed seeing it on display. But really, his main agenda was to get over to the carnival games. Thanks to Nonna and Papa being in town, his “game allowance” was a little padded.

While Jack definitely enjoyed throwing darts at balloons and picking up “lucky ducks” in the water, he tried out a new game that was just right for a 1st grader boy. He used a cork gun to shoot green Solo cups off of a shelf. Inside some of the cups were special markings, which determined the value of the prize he would win.

After much consideration of the prizes, he ended up choosing a small white tiger stuffed animal. However, he had earned enough points to win a larger prize instead. But he liked the face of the small one better, so he didn’t mind choosing a less valuable prize; because to him, the smaller tiger was more valuable.

Once the man in charge of the game realized Jack’s decision was final, the man looked up to you in Mommy’s arms and said, “Well, since your brother didn’t take the bigger prize he won, I’m going to let that pretty little girl have a prize too!”

Mommy and I checked out on the prizes available. There was an undeniable, obvious choice…

A pink unicorn!

You were so happy to get your prize. And truly, it’s all because of your brother Jack.

So the way I see it, he won you a prize at the fair. I know that made him happy.

What also made him happy was the samurai sword he won from the “lucky ducks” game.

Love,

Daddy

MyHeritage DNA Test Results are Back… But Do You Agree with the Results?

Either my DNA results from MyHeritage are inaccurate, or what my family has believed this whole time about our ethnicity has been inaccurate.

Currently, I am sort of baffled. I am still sorting out the confusion. My Italian grandfather, Alberto Victorio Metallo, whose own father arrived in America a hundred years ago from Italy and could only barely speak English when he died in 1983, was Italian.

However, my results from MyHeritage do not remotely reflect my Italian heritage. Instead, the test shows I am literally 0% Italian. I went through the trouble of looking up exactly what countries of origin my DNA traces back to, according to the regions that MyHeritage provided, and removed the countries in which the test showed I have no DNA connection.

Here’s my DNA:

Nick Shell

100.0%

37.4% Central Western European (Germany, The Netherlands/Holland, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland)

31.8% Iberian (Spain/Portugal)

21.6% Central American (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama)

6.1% Eastern European (Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia)

2.3% Balkan (Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania)

0.8% Middle Eastern (Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan)

0% (England, Finland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Scandinavia, Greece, Italy, Sardinia, EstoniaLatviaLithuania, Ashkenazi Jewish, Yemenite Jewish, Mizrahi Jewish, Native American, South American, Indigenous Amazonian, African, Asian, Oceanic)

My whole life I have had reason to believe I am one quarter Italian, but I was open-minded to the idea my test would reveal instead of being 25% Italian, maybe I would only be 12.5%, as my great-grandfather Joseph Metallo (the one who came here from Italy) married a woman named Maria Vite; who could have possibly been of French descent, based on vite being a French word.

(That’s my Italian grandfather pictured above on the left; opposite me, with my son.)

However, my great-grandmother also emigrated here from Italy and spoke Italian. Maria “Mary” Vite died at age 38 in the year 1938, so there is definitely some mystery as to her family tree. But even if she was 100% French yet born in Italy, my great-grandfather would have had to been mainly of Spanish or Portuguese descent and his family would have had to at some point adopted Italian names, including their last name, Metallo.

Even if the test was a little inaccurate, I would still think I would show up at least a little bit Italian. After all, Middle Eastern DNA showed up in me, along with Eastern European, but not Italian?

If you’re wondering why I show up as nearly a quarter Central American and nearly a third Spanish (or Portuguese), it’s because my grandmother (who my Italian grandfather was married to) was Mexican.

(This is her, pictured below, being able to meet my daughter.)

That actually brings up another surprise. By quadrupling my Central American DNA, which is 21.6%, that indicates my Mexican grandmother was actually 86.4% Central American, only leaving 13.6% (that’s close to one eighth) to be Spanish. Then, once I subtracted that 13.6% from the Spanish part of me (31.8%), it left 18.2%. I then multiplied that percentage times 4 again, to assume how Spanish my Italian grandfather must have been: 72.8%.

According to my theory, my Mexican grandmother was mainly Central American (barely Spanish) and my Italian grandfather was mainly Spanish (not Italian at all); leaving the rest of him to have been 9.2% Balkan (Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania). That brings my Italian grandfathers DNA up to exactly 82%.

Next I added the 3.2% Middle Eastern he must have been; now totaling 85.2%. That implies the rest of him had to have been Central Western European, which includes French.

This also means, by default, my dad has to be of Spanish descent as well, because there’s still Spanish DNA to be accounted for.

Most of my test makes sense. My last name is Shell, which in German, means “loud and noisy.” So that accounts for some of the 37.4% Central Western European.

But is this test accurate? Is it possible that I am truly not Italian at all? What do you think?

In the meantime, my mom is taking the test too. Being half-Mexican, half-Italian her whole life, I’m curious to know what the test says about her. We should know by October…

Dear Jack: Today was Your 1st Day of 1st Grade and You Were More Than Prepared!

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

It was exactly 30 years ago in 1987 that I started 1st grade, with my spikey mullet haircut and my neon shorts and shoes. Meanwhile, you had much better style this morning as Mommy and I sent you off for your first day of 1st grade.

You literally just got back last night after spending 10 days with Nonna and Papa in Alabama. And the very next morning, it was time to start 1st grade. You didn’t even meet your teacher yet, though Mommy and I did earlier this week.

As you and I were in the car this morning, I attempted to help explain where your classroom is in the 1st grade hallway, but you stopped me, “Daddy, I already know where it is.”

And I thought, “But how? How could you know where to go and what to do and what to expect?”

It simply serves as another reminder that you are one confident little boy. I feel like most of my boyhood consisted of me not knowing what to do, no matter where I was or what was going on.

No. Not you.

Even when I dropped you off today, I hugged you and said a little prayer with you, then you smiled and waved. You then immediately joined the other kids in the class.

I sort of walked away backwards to make sure you weren’t looking back for another wave from me.

Nope.

This doesn’t make me sad. This makes me proud.

I love the confidence you have. I have a feeling that years from now when you begin Junior High, it won’t be that awkward for you, the way it definitely was for me.

Here you’ve spent the past 10 days in a different state, then came back only to immediately begin a new school year.

You are one cool kid.

Love,

Daddy

3 Steps for Making over $100 a Month as a YouTuber, Like I Do

You know me as a road tripping father and husband who happens to be the manliest vegan on the Internet and who is trying to meet his doppelganger from the Campbell’s Go soup package.

But to my 1800 YouTube subscribers, I am a hair loss expert.

Are you laughing yet? Because you should be.

I know it seems like a joke. I know it seems like I’m not qualified. But for the past couple of months, I have been receiving checks from YouTube, all of which are a little over a hundred dollars each.

To nearly 2,000 men, most of whom are under the age of 23, I am a mentor. I make 3 videos each day during my breaks at work, or after the kids are asleep at home. These videos help my subscribers psychologically sort out the process of going bald at a young age.

I know. I know. I still have most of my hair.

But that doesn’t get in the way of them listening to what I have to say.

Here’s the good news. You too can become a YouTuber, and make at least as much money as I do. I will now share with you the 3 fundamental steps that got me to this point:

1. Discover your topic of expertise. Do not simply assume that the thing you know the most about or enjoy talking about the most is going to be the thing that people will want to hear you talk about. For 30 days, create 3 videos per day about whatever is going through your head. After the month is over, take a look to see which video surpassed on the others on views. That is now your topic of expertise.

2. Exploit your topic of expertise. Now start making 3 videos per day about that same topic. It’s not about quality, it’s about quantity! People will subconsciously believe you are worth listening to if you invest enough time talking about it that consistently. And of course, you are building a library of videos, which will eventually start bringing in comments of the videos.

3. Respond by making videos that directly and positively respond to the comments you receive on your level of expertise. Just simply give your unrehearsed response, as you begin the video by reading the comment and say the user name of the person who left it. This will help engage your audience. Plus, you will learn more about the topic as well; which helps make you more of an authority on the subject, even if you’re not actually one. As for negative comments, simply thank the person for taking the time to watch the video and to comment on it, even though they did not agree with what you had to say.

As the number of subscribers grows, the number of people who watch each new video grows, and the dollar amount on the monthly checks you get from YouTube grows; as you get a cut of the ads that show before your videos.

It’s true. I make over $100 a month as a YouTuber.

I’m a Millennial dad who not only works a full time job, but who also knows how to side hustle; not only with this blog, but also as a YouTuber.

And somehow, that makes me a hair loss expert? Hey, it’s making me money, that has to make me at least a little bit of a professional. That’s the way I see it.

How Metallica’s Song “Prince Charming” Explores Parenting Gone Wrong

Metallica’s now 20 year-old song “Prince Charming” from their 1997 Reload album, is told from the collection of perspectives of unfortunate people who have ended up in undesirable situations as adults; being deemed disappointments and/or threats in society.

They are self-described as junkies, prostitutes, sufferers of suicidal tendencies, and potentially dangerous loners. In other words, they are the kinds of social outcasts who Jesus seemed to care so much about; which in turn infuriated the religious zealots.

The chorus of song presents an unexpected twist, as the focus is turned to the parent of that social outcast:

“Hey, look, it’s me! What no one wants to see.

See what you brought this world… Hey Ma! Look, it’s me!””

It’s a reminder that even the people who are seen as lowliest in the world, still had parents who to some degree, had a major influence on how that their child would group up; for better or worse.

One of the reasons Metallica has become one of my favorite bands is that they are able to expose our conscious minds to the darker side of morality, especially in songs like “Sad But True,” “Devil’s Dance”, and “Am I Savage?”

I enjoy the challenge of these kinds of songs; as they serve as a subtle yet blunt reminder that life is not simply as “right or wrong” as we would like for it to be. This is evident in popular TV shows like Breaking Bad and Lost, where even the good guys struggle with being bad guys themselves.

The older I get, the more I understand how truly imperfect I am as a human being. So there’s definitely some irony in the fact that I am responsible for morally leading two young children.

Imperfect adults parenting imperfect children. I suppose there’s a learning curve in there for all of us.

Dear Holly: You are Very Serious about Riding the Electric Princess Scooter

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

I honestly don’t even know how it ended up at Nonna and Papa’s house, but what I do know is this, you’re sort of obsessed with the electric princess scooter they now have for when you visit.

Last Saturday while I was filming a video of Nonna explaining how she makes her Italian vegan soup, Mommy was outside with you; pressing the gas handle for you and helping you steer.

(video)

You loved feeling the breeze blowing through your hair. You loved being able to drive down an actual road, as opposed to the living room carpet you’re used to at our house. You loved the freedom.

Once it was time to come inside for lunch, you got very upset. Here you had just made this amazing discovery, and now you had to forsake it!

So later that day, I took you back outside to your glorious new ride. Mommy wasn’t joking when she had warned me how much you loved that electric princess scooter.

It’s funny because the thing is so small and low to the ground, yet moves pretty quickly for what it is, I had trouble keeping up with it, as I awkwardly hunched over while holding on to the gas and helped you steer.

Fortunately, you gave me a break right about the time I really started needing it. You decided you wanted to push your electric princess scooter down Nonna and Papa’s driveway. So let you.

I followed behind you, though you didn’t really need me at that point. You had it all under control.

As I watched you push the scooter, it was like seeing the equivalent of a teenage kid who gets their first car, then proudly spends time washing it, when they could be driving it.

My little girl is serious about riding! Hey, I can dig it.

Love,

Daddy