What I’ve Learned From Not Checking My Facebook Homepage For 30 Days

What I’ve Learned From Not Checking My Facebook Homepage For 30 Days

I’m not against Facebook. I think it’s a great thing. However, a month ago I had to go 4 days without any Internet (and therefore, Facebook) as we were moving into our new house.

When I finally did check Facebook, I realized that life went out without me… and I didn’t feel like I missed anything.

Prepare for the Hallmark movie cliché, but it showed me that my family right in front of me is all that really matters.

So from there I decided to stop checking my Facebook homepage for the following month; that time period ended today. However, the 30 day self-assigned pledge has inspired me to continue staying off my Facebook homepage.

I no longer am exposed to snarky, annoying, self-serving comments; including being tempted to post my own. My exposure to negativity has decreased by 100%; though I admit there’s probably not a true way to measure the validity of that percentage decrease.

But I feel it. I feel great. My quality of life has improved since nixing my Facebook homepage.

There is something called “FOMO” (fear of missing out) that is apparently increased by social media. Apparently, I have less subconscious anxiety in my life because I have less exposure to the news I’m apparently missing out on.

Can you gossip about yourself? If so, Facebook is the platform. I’d rather not tune in to people gossiping about themselves, about the the news, about groups of people, or whatever else can fall into that category.

I should point out too that I cancelled the ability for my phone to receive any messages based on Facebook activity too.

What I’ve Learned From Not Checking My Facebook Homepage For 30 Days

Another part of my pledge was to only start publishing new posts here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog on Thursdays, which helps me focus on living “real life” with my family and not being distracted by daily focusing on publishing new stuff.

That decision has proven successful for me. I am happier now that I am only posting new material one night per week, all at once. Therefore, that’s really the only time I’m needing to log in to Facebook anywhere.

I don’t feel socially disconnected since locking myself out of my Facebook homepage.

Friday begins the National Day of Unplugging (March 6-7, 2015). Of course, I’m taking the pledge. It’s pretty much my life now anyway.

It’s not right for everybody, but it’s definitely right for me. In the past month I have learned that my personal happiness can truly be measured by my lack of exposure to my Facebook homepage and having to feel pressured to daily post new stuff on my blog.

Dear Jack: 1st Day Of Fall/Mountain Biking Selfie Explanation

3 years, 10 months.

mountain biking selfie

Dear Jack,

You almost got to see your 1st tow truck in action yesterday morning. As I was driving you to school, the radio cut off, I lost power steering, and the fuel gauge dropped to empty.

I warned you that we may have to stop driving.

By a miracle of God, I was able to make it to the parking lot of KinderCare and drop you off. But from there, my 2004 Honda Element wouldn’t start.

So I called a tow truck and ran back inside to get you so you could watch my car get towed.

Fortunately, my car started back again once the tow truck arrived and I was able to drive it around the block to Firestone; it needed a new alternator, for starters…

Car Trouble? Need A Tow? No Problem... I've Got A Mountain Bike!

Also fortuately, I had access to my mountain bike, which fits into the back of my Honda Element along with our jogging stroller, so I was able to bike back to work until my car was ready several hours later.

It was an adventure of a day for us! And that’s how we started the first day of fall.

Autumn is by far my favorite season and it appears it is yours as well. For the past two mornings before walking you into school, you have asked to walk over into the school’s front lawn and pick out a fallen leaf.

Monday morning, you saw two baby deer on the way to school and two more on the way back, explaining to me, “It’s getting colder now so the deers come out for food.”

Well, even though it appears to be the shortest of seasons, I’m glad that the two of us can truly appreciate the subtle yet undeniable beauty of Autumn.

To celebrate it even more, we’re planning a family friendly road trip to Asheville, North Carolina in the next couple of weeks. I have a feeling it’s going to be pretty awesome!

Love,

Daddy

Annie's Halloween Snacks

 

Ironically Driving A Lexus To See A Dinosaur Named Junkasaurus Wrecks

January 1, 2014 at 10:43 pm , by 

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

In the middle of our test drive of the 2014 Lexus LS 460, you spotted a giant metal robot on the side of the road.

We were all pretty curious, so on this past Christmas morning, around 9:00, we pulled the Lexus into the parking lot of a place calledThe Junkyard.

To be honest, the facility might be the equivalent of the Area 51 of northern Alabama. It’s quite mysterious.

From what I could tell, it appears to be a place where people can book party events. And as part of the ambiance, they have a giant robot named named Lirpa-Anad-Nitsud, by Ekim Snaggog.

As I put together these photo collages of our mini-road trip adventure, I figured out the code: “Lirpa-Anad-Nitsud” is backwards for April-Dana-Dustin and “Ekim Snaggog” is Mike Goggans.

I grew up with a girl namedJess Goggans whose mother is Dana Goggans; whose name is part of the encrypted code I just mentioned. Jess is now a chef and owner of a nearby restaurant called The Hardware Cafe which features her band.

So evidently, her family created these magical works of art for the world to enjoy.

Behind the building, in the backyard behind a wooden fence, were several other “junkyard creatures,” one of them being Junkasaurus Wrecks; a huge dinosaur created out of old car parts, like the robot.

After having just visited the off-beat church that was built into a giant rock, this place seemed to be the perfect follow-up, given its dream-like existence.

Yes, it was one of the most random ways to spend a Christmas morning with Daddy, Papa, and Uncle Andrew.

And of course, let me just point out the obvious irony:

We were driving a luxurious (!) 2014 Lexus LS 460 when we stumbled upon the place. I think that brand-new Lexus has already lived a quite interesting life in its 1600 miles so far.

What would have made more sense is if we had been driving a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser J40, the awesome retro predecessor of the modern day FJ Cruiser; which I hear is in its final year of production.

But no, we were driving the nicest car I’ve ever driven (or will drive?) in my life.

Funny story, huh?

That’s the kind of thing you can expect by having a daddy like me. I just seem to find myself in these peculiar and unscripted situations.

Hey, maybe it’s where I’m from? After all, my hometown of Fort Payne, AL is where Junkasaurus Wrecks lives.

He and I grew up on the same stompin’ grounds!

I think there’s something to be said about that. While growing up in a state that is so often parodied in media and is so easily reduced to the stereotypical lyrics of a Country music song, the part of the state I grew up in was actually pretty woodsy and artsy.

Sort of like Oregon and Colorado and Maine all combined.

Plus, it didn’t help that I had a very eccentric Italian grandfather from Kenosha, WI, and a Mexican grandmother from Buffalo, NY; who I will be featuring very soon in an upcoming letter.

Basically, I had no chance of being an average, normal guy. And you are my son. In other words, no matter what we do, life will be interesting for our family.

Because we will make it that way, when it isn’t already.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Lexus, for the purpose of reviewing.

P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota family reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:

2014 Lexus LS 460: 2014 Lexus LS 460 Review, From The Dad’s PerspectiveJourney To Howard’s Chapel (The Church Built Into A Rock)Ironically Driving A Lexus To See A Dinosaur Named Junkasaurus WrecksWhat Parents Do When The Kids Are Asleep With The GrandparentsGrandma Regifts As-Seen-On-TV “Perfect Polly” To Great-GrandsonI’ve Heard Of Sleepwalking, But… Sleep-Eating And Sleep-Playing?

2013 Avalon Hybrid: 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Review, From The Dad’s PerspectiveA Family That Recycles Together Doesn’t Decompose

2013 Toyota Rav4: 2013 Toyota Rav4 Review, From The Dad’s Perspective

2014 Toyota Tundra: Dad Gives 3 Year-Old Son A Monster Truck For Birthday… Sort OfNashville Dad Introduces 3 Year-Old Son To Country Music3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Build-A-Bear3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Little River Falls, AL3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Mountain Driving3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Land Park3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Mouth Park

2013 Toyota Sienna: We’re Ready For A Family Road Trip… Minivan Style!It’s Officially Cool To Drive A Minivan Now

 

Why I Just Googled, “What Does ‘Soaked Up’ Mean?”

November 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm , by 

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Yes, I know what “soaked up” means; it means that something has either physically absorbed a substance or that a person has absorbed new information.

But after the way you used the phrase today, I just wanted to make sure there’s not some underground slang used nearly 3 year-olds that I didn’t know about.

Turns out, there’s not. Google had nothing new to teach me, on this one.

This morning while we were at church, a friend Mommy and I both knowwalked up to us and with a whispered, dead pan performance, and jokingly explained to you that your parents shouldn’t need a nametag to identify their own son.

(Our church’s daycare requires computer-printed nametags for safety reasons.)

You didn’t say a word to him. You just stared at him with a somewhat serious face during his joke.

As soon as we got back to the car, you asked Mommy and me, “Why was that man soaked up?”

For the entire car ride home, we were inquisitive as to what you meant by him being “soaked up.”

“Did you think he was wet, somehow?” Mommy asked you.

“No! He wasn’t wet… he was soaked up,” you explained.

There was nothing about his appearance that should have seemed any bit out of the ordinary. So maybe “soaked up” had something to do with the way he was talking to you?

For the rest of the afternoon, I tried to use context clues to figure out the meaning of this mysterious phrase. But I was unsuccessful in getting you to say it a second time. And when I said “soaked up,” you just adamantly insisted that I was wrong to say it.

I suppose this is one of those mysteries I will take to my grave.

Like, why does the witch in the Wizard of Oz melt away simply by getting water poured on her? Why was it not problematic for there to be so few female Smurfs compared to males?

Most importantly, what does “soaked up” mean when referred to another human being, if it has nothing to do with them being wet in any way.

Only you hold the answer, Son.

The interesting thing is that simply by writing this letter to you today, I’ve helped make “soaked up” more identifiable in a non-traditional sense. In other words, I’m enabling your strange vocabulary.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Counting Random Cell Phone Keyboards, Like A Boss

October 3, 2013 at 8:49 pm , by 

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Some things in life just can’t be explained. For example, why are there over a dozen cell phone keyboards in the parking lot of your school?

Since a couple of weeks ago when we started parking next to your teachers’ Mustangs, we discovered a strange array of cell phone keyboards as we got out of my car.

It’s so strange…

There are no other cell phone parts anywhere else around. Just the keyboards.

Are cell phone keyboards hot on the black market right now?

Did a cell phone keyboard bandit run across your school’s parking lot, carrying hundreds of them over his shoulder in a giant sack, that happened to have a slit in it, causing many of them to fall onto the ground?

That’s the best explanation I can come up with.

Needless to say, you’re pretty fascinated by the mystery (and possible government conspiracy?) of these cell phone keyboards.

Our new daily tradition is that every time we now get out of or into our car in the school parking lot, you like to get down and count them.

Today when I picked you up from school, your teacher Ms. Lauren updated me on the funny thing you said to her this time:

“Ms. Lauren, there’s cell phones in the parking lot. I counted them. There’s 10 of them!”

You’re right. You indeed count 10 of them each time.

It is because of the cell phone keyboards that I now officially know you can count to 10. Because you do it at least once a day now.

Even without meaning to, you found a way to test out what you learn at school.

I think it’s safe to say that cell phone keyboards may be the most peculiar thing you will ever use in the process of learning to count.

As for the mystery of how they got there, I guess we’ll just have to ask God when we get to Heaven one day.

 

Love,

Daddy

Why Nick Shell is a Big Fan of Boost Mobile’s “Is That the Talking Dog?” Commercial (Because It’s a Lot Like “Portlandia” with Fred Armisen)

Weird people who are subtle and seemingly familiar are wonderfully entertaining.

There must be a certain off-beat frequency that both old people and residents of Portland, Oregon are evidently tuned in to.  It apparently causes them to bring up the most bizarre and irrelevant conversation topics.  I believe that specific strangeness is characterized in Boost Mobile’s “Unwronged Pet Carrier” commercial which is simply recognized by most of us as “that weird cell phone commercial with the Dave Grohl wannabe pulling the luggage cart and the sort of half-Venezuelan looking guy that says, ‘Is that the talking dog?'”

I am constantly subconsciously trying to figure out: What talking dog? The guy uses the word “the” instead of “a” as the article referring to the dog.  It’s not just any dog; it’s one particular famous talking dog.  So what famous talking dog is he referring to that I somehow missed on my facebook feed?

Some could say that this mysterious reference to a talking dog would be a cause for me to be annoyed by the commercial.  But no; I recognize this as a clever marketing technique which I feel is a successful effort to relate to people who appreciate subculture-acknowledging commercials.  For people who include Garden State in their top ten list of movies and The Office in their top ten list of TV shows.  And who blocked Farmville within the first two weeks of its existence.

For those of us who appreciate the talking dog commercial (which coincidentally are the same kind of people who found this post and are currently reading it now) I think it’s safe to say that most of us could easily picture one of our grandma’s actually saying “Is that the talking dog?” during dinner.  The talking dog commercial is subtle yet memorable.  Granted, I’ve been with Verizon Wireless for 10 years now and have no intentions on ever switching, but I definitely want to publicly thank the cool people at the whatever marketing agency who gave us the talking dog gem of a commercial.

What is “Portlandia”?  Now’s your chance to find out…

Jesus and Hollywood: What’s the Difference between Acting and Actually Doing, Especially as a Christian? (Pondering Profanity, Sexuality, and Violence)

 

 

Seems like a strange pair, but we born-again Christians love our movies and TV just as much as everyone else.  But where do we draw the line?

One of my favorite TV shows during 4th and 5th grade was surprisingly The Dick Van Dyke Show as it was featured in syndication on Nick at Nite.  It was while watching that show (I was around 9 or 10) that it occurred to me, “Dick Van Dyke is kissing Mary Tyler Moore, but in real life, they may both be married to someone else who has to watch them kiss another person.”  To me, that would just be too weird… and wrong.  As much I fantasize about being an actor in a flash-sideways version of my life in some alternate path I could have chosen for myself a decade ago, I have to acknowledge that as a born-again Christian, there would be an exhaustive list of limitations for me as a legitimate actor.  (Granted, Kirk Cameron got around the “have to kiss another woman” dilemma when he used his own wife as a stand-in at the end of the movie Fireproof.)

That’s not to say that there aren’t born-again Christians who act in mainstream media.  For example, there’s the often-mistaken-as-a-Jew-but-actually-just-Welsh-American actor Zachary Levi, who is the protagonist of the hit show Chuck.  He has been outspoken about his relationship with Jesus Christ.  Click here to see what he said in one of his interviews with Relevant magazine.  I am fascinated by his Hollywood success and his commitment to his faith.  I would love to ask him about this very topic today; specifically this question, “As a Christian, what won’t you do in a role?”  (Zachary Levi, if you’re reading this, feel free to comment and help me out.  Thanks.)

Where does a Christian draw the line when it comes to acting?  I would say kissing another person on stage is harmless except when either or both of them is married.  And what about “love scenes” (scenes that involve sexual activity, with or without nudity)? What about profanity? Are there any words you just shouldn’t say?  Personally, I could easily curse on camera before I could say, “oh my God”; because to use God’s name in vain is breaking one of the Ten Commandments, while cursing is simply a fading taboo of shifting rules set by the expectations of culture.  To me, there are plenty far more destructive ways that words can be used that go against the Kingdom of God, like gossip, malicious sarcasm, and belittling.

Here’s where it gets really tricky.  If you think it’s wrong to curse in a role or play a character who has premarital sex, how is that so different from playing a character who is a murderer?  At least by playing a killer, you’re truly just pretending to play a character who is obviously in the wrong.  But by being filmed semi-nude under covers in a bed, you’re sending a subconscious message that sex between two consenting adults doesn’t necessarily have any spiritual concerns attached to it.

So in theory, in 1983, as a born-again Christian, if given the opportunity to have Al Pacino’s lead role in Scarface, would I, should I, could I?  For it’s time, the movie Scarface contained more profanity than any other film in history.  It was originally rated NC-17 for its violent content.  But in the end, (sorry if you haven’t seen the movie but you’ve had 28 years to see it so I feel okay about giving away the ending) all of Scarface’s sins find him out.  It’s obvious that his life of violent crime led to his own demise and in the end, it wasn’t worth it. Does that mean that this movie teaches its viewers not to waste their lives in a mob, getting  involved with violence and cocaine?  In theory, yes.  In theory, it has positive, redeeming value because in the end, crime doesn’t pay.

That’s something I’ve observed about Christian culture.  It seems most Christians are okay with a character doing obviously un-Christian things if in the end they repent: Unlike the character of Stacy Hamilton, played by Jewish actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, who decides to have an abortion and seemingly goes on to live a completely normal life, never regretting her decision.  I contrast that to the song “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw, whether the 20 year-old protagonist gets his 18 year-old girlfriend pregnant and together they decide to have an abortion.

However, by the end of the song, though it’s not explicitly stated, the melancholy mood and subtle lyrics of the song itself convey the message “we can’t undo what we’ve done or beat ourselves up over it, but we do regret and it’s definitely a sad thing that happened”.  Rightly assuming that Country music fans are mostly Christians (simple demographics), they helped the song rise to the #2 position on the Country charts.

Entertain this thought: Ask yourself privately, as a Christian, whether or not you would play the role of a character in a play, musical, TV show, or movie who would do any of the following things:

-use minor profanity

-use stronger profanity including racial or gender slurs, up to the “f-word”

-use God’s name in vain, whether it’s by saying “oh my God” or “G.D.”

-play a character who has premarital sex and never encounters any real negative consequences

-play a gay character who never actually kisses another actor

-play a gay character who does kiss another person of the same gender

-play a heterosexual character who jokingly kisses a person of the same gender on the lips, which happens quite often on Saturday Night Live

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and who never curses or participates in any pre-material sexual relationship

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and but does participate in some premarital sex and who does some cursing

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and but does participate in some premarital sex and who does some cursing, but at the end accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and from that point on lives a life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus

How is it any more wrong to play a homosexual actor than it is to play heterosexual actor who has premarital sex?  Though both situations are perceived much differently by the general population, when it comes to my understanding of the Bible’s teaching of righteousness, I don’t see how one is any different or worse than the other.  The way I understand it, Jesus died for all sin.  Sin is sin is sin.  No matter what kind it is, it separates us from God and causes every single one of us to need His grace.

Where do you draw the line as a Christian actor? Obviously to be involved in straight-up porno-graphy is out of the question for any sincere Christian.  But there are so many millionths of the scale to get to that extreme.  On the much slighter end of the scale is a man with his shirt off showing off his six-pack while he rides a horse bareback.  Further down the scale is that same man passionately kissing a woman while in a hot tub, both in their swimsuits.  Next is the same man and woman acting out a love scene in bed and though they are actually naked, they aren’t acting having sex underneath the blankets which strategically cover up certain parts of their bodies.

I remind myself that outside the culture of conservative Christianity, in reality the rest of the world behaves its own way regardless of our censorship.  To imagine a real life group of people who in their everyday lives never cursed or had premarital sex (outside of the conservative Christian world) is to me, simply unbelievable.  Taking away the elements of entertainment that are unChristian-like either makes the TV show or movie either A) unrealistic or B) a Christian movie like Facing the Giants.

I also remind myself that the Bible itself is full of violence, premarital sex, rape, and murder. There is homosexuality.  There are concubines.  There are instances were people cursed (like when Peter denied Christ).  The King James Version of the Bible even contains the words “piss” and “ass”.  If the entire Bible were made into an epic movie, could born-again Christians play every role?

But some point, acting is no longer simply just acting.  It’s doing.  So here’s my final thought about all this.  In some technical, annoying way, are we as conservative, born-again Christians actually hypocrites for being spectators of popular entertainment?

Imagine this: Instead of the majority of the cast of Friends and Seinfeld being Jewish, instead they were all born-again Christians.  Because of their faith-based convictions, none of them were willing to use any profanity or be involved in any situations that involved premarital sex.  I know how beloved these two sitcoms are among the majority of Christians I know.  But imagine a world where Ross Geller saying “We were on a break!” meant nothing to us.

Two Questions for You about This Today:

A) As much as we Christians love our sitcoms and movies, would they truly exist if we didn’t support them with our viewership because we ourselves wouldn’t be willing to play those roles the same way?

B) Where would you personally draw the line in regards to what you would or would not do for an acting role, hypothetically speaking, if you were an actor?

I sincerely would love to hear feedback from you, the invisible reader, on either or both of these proposed questions, by leaving a comment below.  You don’t have to leave your name; you can easily remain anonymous if you wish.

If you’re not a conservative, born-again Christian, still free to answer as well… and please know how aware I am that the content of this entire post probably seems a bit… out there.  For all I know, you may find it either laughable or offensive that we believe premarital sex is wrong or that kissing someone’s spouse is both weird and taboo.  But what good is a religion that has no backbone or reasonable standards, despite how counter-culture those limitations may be? Thanks for reading despite the culture shock of it.