Planking: My Infant Son Joins the Internet Fad

June 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm , by 

Six months.

baby planking fad

As Jack is building his arm strength as he learns to crawl, I’m seeing him do this peculiar new move with his body.  When he begins wearing himself out from crawling around on the rug and shows signs of needing a nap, he “buries” his head down into the ground and lays as flat as he can.  It’s Jack’s pre-sleep position.

baby TV remote control

Coincidentally, this is happening along side a world wide Internet fad called “planking.”  I just learned about it two weeks ago from Weekend Update with Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live.  Planking is a most extraordinary way to do something completely ordinary.  All it involves is laying down completely flat and still, while face-down.  But the most important part is that the “planker” is photographed so that their “planking proof” is evident to the Internet world; via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

If you need a proper visual of the official thing, just go to Google Images and type in “planking fad.”  I do realize that Jack isn’t planking perfectly, because of the fact he can’t/won’t really lay his arms next to his side.  But I’m okay with that, because after all, he is just a baby.

So along with Jack’s crawling comes Jack’s exploring.  His biggest motivators are laptops and TV remote controllers.  He just goes cuckoo for them.

Again, this is completely in line with planking, as Jack is not content to see the same scenery day after day.  Just as planking requires the person to show up in new places, so does parenting Jack.  Even when he was much younger, my wife and I would take him hiking.  We’ve recently gotten into this tradition of rocking Jack on our two-seater rocking chair after dinner on the front porch.

As much as Jack can appreciate being over-stimulated with all the crazy antics my family introduces him to, he also loves to just chill out- but only outside.  The wind has to be softly blowing on his face and he has to feel some of the heat of the sun.  In that situation, Jack doesn’t make a peep.  He just chills out.

baby planking fad

And again, isn’t that a major part of planking?  I’m seeing unavoidable parallels between Jack’s recent developments and the fad of planking.

If it were up to Jack, I wonder where all in the world (and space and time) he would plank…

1969 Moon Landing Planking!

baby planking moon landing 1969

Conan’s Desk Planking!

baby planking Conan O'Brien's desk

Old School Nintendo Planking!

(On an actual plank! Double score!)

baby planking fad Super Mario Nintendo

Special effects appear courtesy of Walter “Wally” Wellborn.

My Favorite Facebook Trend of 2010: Getting People to “Like” Your Fan Page

Getting “liked” on facebook is always authentic, right?  I guess I should just ask all 800 of my authentic facebook “friends”.

One of the popular online trends of 2010 has been to try to convince/bribe people on facebook to “like” your fan page.  I hope it’s okay to think that concept is hilarious, because it cracks me up every time.  Sure, having thousands of people “like” Conan O’Brien’s fan page on facebook had to have helped him, but the difference with him was that he nor his crew had anything to do with it.  True fans began and empowered the Coco movement on their own.  But I know that all entertainment and business entrepreneurs are being told by the experts to get people to “like” them on facebook and think up clever sayings for Twitter because this is the age of networking and doing those things helps ensure prosperity or at least survival.  And they’re probably right.

But still, it reminds me of being in the 1st grade and some kid you barely know asks for your slice of pizza during lunch and attaches this promise to his request: “I’ll be your best friend…”  As a young child, even then I always knew there was no authenticity there.  But then again, we are all well aware that at least a quarter of our facebook friends are not actually our friends- in fact, I have no clue who a quarter of them even are, and I bet they would say the same thing about me.

I’m currently (and slowly) reading a book called Microtrends, which explains the power of 1 percent of the population liking anything.  In the introduction of the book, author Mark J. Penn explains, “By the time a trend hits 1 percent, it is ready to spawn a hit movie, best-selling book, or new political movement.” According to the book, that 1 percent of the American population he is referring to literally means 300,000 people; not even a third of a million people.  In essence, the idea behind being “liked” on facebook is an effort to show the marketing executives that one’s cause has a following close to or reaching 300,000 people.

I’m all about other people being successful and even helping them to get there in big meaningful ways, but being asked to be “like” anything ultimately just reminds me of the fact that if everyone was rich, that no one would actually be rich- in the same way, only a limited amount of people can be famous.  And if you try to manipulate the true Invisible Hand of Coolness and Popularity in a room full of thousands of other people also metaphorically yelling to each other, “Hey, look at me!”, the noise just cancels out most of the room, while the actual trend leaders are in a different room down the hall.

I would rather know that a person authentically “likes” me, not by creating my own fan page and asking people to publicly acknowledge my awesomeness in a predictable facebook gesture.  But then again, I’m not cool enough to think up clever Twitter posts either.  I’m so out of touch- I’m such a bitter, old, stubborn man.  Now get off my property!

dad from day one: The Due Date

Forty weeks.

Don’t ask me how, but all week my wife and I have had the theme song to the ‘80’s sitcom Mr. Belvedere stuck in our heads.  In the mindset of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, we downloaded the song as our ringtones for when we call each other.  That has caused me to revisit some of my most favorite theme songs from these sitcoms that served as the backdrop of my childhood.  A very interesting trait that many of these TV shows had in common with each other (and accordingly, the lyrics to their theme songs) is that premise was that an outsider moved into the household, therefore throwing normalcy out of whack.  Which totally relates to what’s going through my head right now about our upcoming new addition, a baby boy. (In order to qualify, the sitcom had to actually start in the 1980’s; Diff’rent Strokes, Mork and Mindy, and The Facts of Life don’t qualify since since they premiered in the ’70’s.)

For example, here’s a sitcom that had it all, yet could have only existed in the 1980’s: An all-American family, laugh tracks, and an Alien puppet. Of course, I’m referring to Alf. While the song had no words (instead it sounded like what would happen if you pressed the “demo” button on a $200 Casio keyboard in 1988), the thought of a little creature running around the floor chasing cats loosely translates having a baby boy. For Family Matters, the intended outsider was Estelle Winslow who moved in with her son Carl’s family, though unexpectedly the true outsider instead became Steve Urkle (intended only as a guest star) instead a few episodes into the first season.

In Mr. Belvedere, a British butler moves in with an American family living in Philadelphia: “Sometimes things get turned around and no one’s spared… There’s a change in the status quo.  Preparing for our new arrival.  We might just live the good life yet…”


Another prime example is from one of my favorite sitcoms ever, which happens to have my favorite TV show theme song ever.  In Perfect Strangers, city slicker Larry Appleton is thrown for a curve when his distant cousin Balki moves from his mysterious Mediterranean village to live with Larry in Chicago: “Sometimes the world looks perfect- nothing to rearrange.  Sometimes you just get a feeling that you need some kind of change…”


In Full House, it was  Joey and Uncle Jesse who mixed things up by moving in with the Tanner family: “What ever happened to predictability?”

There was CBS’s version of Diff’rent Strokes: Webster.  As a kid, I actually liked Webster more than Arnold: “Til there was you…”


The next two sitcoms both premiered in 1984 and featured an Italian-American who moved into the household as a “manny”. Who’s the Boss? contains my 2nd favorite theme song ever and often caused me to believe that Tony Danza was my uncle: “You might awaken to a brand new life around the bend…”


Even though I never watched it, I know it was a big deal to a lot of people- Charles in Charge: “New boy in the neighborhood…”


You’re welcome… for being led into a world of nostalgia.  It’s pretty much a fact that you’ll be struggling to get one of those songs out of your head for the rest of the day.  So being such a sentimental guy as I am, I’ve been thinking about the current events that are going on right now.  That way I can tell Jack what was going on around the time he was born:

Interestingly, on November 5th, the movie Due Date hit theatres.  Daylight Savings was two days later; meaning that when it’s that time again to set back the clocks every year, it will almost be time for Jack’s birthday.  Conan O’Brien’s new show premiered this week (November 8th) and sure enough on last night’s episode during the monologue Conan pointed out that it was exactly nine months ago that his gig at The Tonight Show ended; so if because two people felt sad for Conan losing his job they decided to “get frisky” to be happy again, their child would be born this week.  Good call.

It will also be pretty neat that I will be able to show Jack the November 2010 issue of American Baby, in which in his birth was anticipated.  He is not making his debut unannounced; that’s for sure.  Today, November 11th, is not only Jack’s due date but it’s also my dad’s birthday, whose name is also Jack.  So even though he won’t have the same exact birthday as my dad, their birthdays will always be close.

Of all the pregnancy advice I’ve been given, the one thing no one warned me about is this: For first time moms, it’s normal and expected to not delivery until a full week after the due date.  So if you or your wife are approaching your due date, don’t do like I did and get all psyched, thinking the water is going to break at any moment.  Because then everyone is constantly asking for and expecting baby news, but sure enough, the baby is unaware of his due date.  He’s coming out when he’s good and ready.

I have to remind myself that my baby is not a Hot Pocket, with an exact predetermined time of two minutes in the microwave.  In fact, that would be pretty weird if he truly was born right near the due date.  We went to the doctor today.  Thank God, Baby Jack has still got a strong heartbeat and is in a good position.  He’s turned the correct way and everything.  But as far as when he gets here, I’m sure it will be the moment that I (and everyone else) least expects it.  He’s a sneaky little guy.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com




Self-Depreciation and Self-Denial are Forms of Self-Help

Help yourself to telling the world how inadequate you are.  Evidently, it’s good for you.

When I see a person make a habit of letting all their friends and acquaintances know (in general terms) how unpopular, unappreciated, and unloved they are, I look at it as a subconscious method of helping themselves feel popular, appreciated, and loved because they are unable to feel those ways otherwise. 

Facebook is currently the most fertile ground for this to take place.  Like people using their status as a way to tell everyone how “Yet again, another date gone wrong.  I guess I’ll just be single forever…”  (I’m assuming the guy or girl they went on the date with is a facebook friend and will pretty much immediately read the comment.)

And “Tell me this.  How could someone actually say that to another human being?”  (This vague sort of comment opens the door for people to ask, “Hey, what happened?” and “What did someone say to you?” and “Who’s doing this to you?”)

Both of those status updates of course are soon followed by 13 comments.  And jackpot, the plan worked.

While I’m generally an upbeat and positive person, I definitely get into ruts just like everybody else.  And I don’t fake being happy when I do.  If someone asks me how I’m doing, I tell them the truth.  But what keeps me from broadcasting my gloom to others, publicly?

I learned the hard way a few years ago (2005) on Myspace and I hated the way it made me feel: I admitted in a “blog” that I was feeling “depressed by all the winter weather”.  It didn’t take long for Myspace friends to come “rescue” me by leaving positive comments.  So even though it was just an off-hand thing I wrote, I realized it could be perceived as “help me feel good about myself”.  Like I was fishing for compliments. 

Not that I wasn’t grateful that those people cared enough about me to show their concern.  It just felt weird and unnatural for me.

In public, I have to feel like (and know) I’m helping myself get out of the funk.  I do ask for help, advice, and encouragement- but I do it all in private.

So now when I write, I am always reluctant to present a personal problem without finishing the post by providing the solution or how I will help myself get through it.  And most likely, to get that solution, behind the scenes I’ve already asked for advice from a trusted friend or family member.

I don’t assume that the way I deal with feelings of inadequacy (privately) is the superior way- it’s just the best way for me.  All I can assume is that people who publicly deny themselves are doing what’s best for them, and that’s why they continue to do it.

On a different token, however, self-depreciation has made Conan O’Brien’s career.  In every monologue, he makes fun of his pasty, lanky, 6’ 4” body and his own off-beat style of humor.  His confidence is shown in his ability poke fun of himself.  But when this comes from a place of confidence, a person can totally put themselves down and have it work for them.

So self-depreciation and self-denial definitely work for certain kinds of people.  Those who gain their confidence from a public array of encouragement and those who already have confidence yet ironically bring attention to the very things about themselves that others may find cause for low self-esteem.

Mr. Daydream’s Personality Pyramid: Humorous, Philosophical, Analytical, Dramatic

It’s always funny to joke about other people having split personalities.  But the truth is, we have all split personalities.  It’d be kinda weird if we didn’t.

I’ve said before that I tend to “pull an Andy Bernard” in that I mirror personalities in order to better relate to people, which is found in the fundamental teachings of Dale Carnegie, the author of the famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People.  But that’s different than the idea of having split personalities because mimicking another person’s manner of speech and body movement doesn’t reflect my own true split personalities.

We all have at least a few different “default mode” personalities we fall back on, which direct and guide our choices of words and actions.  After a little bit of self-analysis, I have narrowed my own collection of personalities down to four main selections:

Humorous

Philosophical

Analytical

Dramatic

Humorous: I am starting with the one at the bottom of my “personality pyramid”, the one the general public sees the most.  The most unguarded.  It’s my surface personality that is appropriate for most situations which is found in everything I do, even serious tasks.  But not “Jim Carrey/get hit in the head with a frying pan” kind of humor, though.

A more subtle type usually delivered in “dead pan” style, where I don’t laugh at my own attempts at humor.  I don’t tell jokes; I translate real life situations into jokes by sliding in sarcastic commentary about them, adding in nostalgic and pop culture references whenever I can.

Right now one of my major comedic icons is actually Alec Baldwin, a man who used to specialize in drama.  To me, that’s the funniest kind of humor out there.  Like the stand-up styles of Conan O’Brien, Joe Rogan, Zach Galifianakis, and Doug Benson.  But not so dry to the point of David Letterman.

Philosophical: For a guy who has never smoked pot, the conversation topics I come up with would reflect otherwise.  There’s a theory out there that whenever a person is exposed to the psychoactive elements found in marijuana, their “third eye” opens up, causing them to see the world in a different perspective.  But I think I was born with my third eye open.  That would explain a lot, actually.

When a person asks me, “What’s up?” or “What’s new?” or “What’s going on?” or “Whatch ya think?”, they will most definitely get an answer.  Not, “oh, not much” or “same ole, same ole”.  Instead, they will hear that I am currently debating whether or not I would be able to carry out capital punishment myself or whether Batman or Superman is the better superhero.  My third eye absolutely effects what I say, therefore coming across as my “philosophical personality”.

Analytical: Despite seeing the world through an abstract lens, I actually see everything in terms of black and white, cut and dry, “either it is or it isn’t”.  There is a formula for everything.   There is definite right and wrong.  That’s the teacher side of me.  I like explaining things to people.

My analytical personality is the one that will spend countless hours searching which celebrities are Jewish or learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.  It’s my necessary inner dork.  It’s the part of me that has an elaborate system for keeping shoes looking new, despite being 8 years old, but I’ll have to get into that in a different post.

Dramatic: At the top of my personality pyramid is the one I reserve mainly just for close family and friends, because it is my personality that is engrained into my emotions.  This is not a personality that needs to be seen by the general public.  Its function is to manage the aspects of my life which are the most important to me.

My dramatic personality allows me to display necessary emotions where love is involved.  I do my best to confine my emotions to just the people I am closest to.  Otherwise, I could end up an emotional guy who wears my heart on my sleeve.  I am not afraid to be vulnerable enough to show my emotions, but I think it’s important to save them for the right situations and the right people.

So that’s how it works.  We are wired with different personalities equipped to suite the right situations and the right people.  The main four personalities that I named most likely do not correspond to hardly anyone else.  Everyone else in the world has their own combination of split personalities which they must decipher in order to better understand who they are.

We’re not crazy.  We just have split personalities.  Isn’t that crazy?