The Truth About Money

Help your kids get a decent shot at it

These days I escape our musty chamber of white noise only long enough to haul loads of diapers or exchange two-ounce bags of breast milk. Reduced to the servitude of baby-rearing, I retreat quickly to my DDIT (dark dungeon of infant torture). Stumbling out and squinting into the light with a plump sack of brown ones (from the genie), I ran into my seven-year-old for what seemed like the first time in weeks.

He moved downstairs to be near the food in a shanty thrown up under the kitchen table, swaddle blankets held in place by the weight of his action heroes, a defense against the bad things that lurk in the corners of his unsupervised mind. The steel mixing bowl shaking in his dirty hands reveals a hodgepodge of stale Cheetos, fruit-snacks and Chex, scavenged from underneath furniture and between cushions.

After the twins were born even the cat abandoned us, moving across the street. Her watchful green eyes now peer carefully from the window as she licks her paws. I know what she’s planning, but try not to think about it, and can never tell the kids.

I’m caught, exposed as the terrible parent I’ve become to him, now just a slave in chains coddling my little newborn babies constantly (like dating that stripper from Boston with the drinking problem). Racked with guilt I prod about how things are going for him and Mia, assuming she hasn’t followed the cat to greener pastures.

Hey bud…how’s it going?

Ryder:   Good.

Great. See you tomorrow then?

Ryder:   Daddy, where does money come from?


Well son, our money is deposited to our bank account by my employer for the work I do.

Then it pays for baby shit, like the $1,500 your mom just spent on matching Snoos sleepers.

Ryder:   But where does that money come from?

That money comes from customers, who buy products that my employer makes.

Ryder:   Where does their money come from?

This went on to the issuance of new money, so I turned off the baby monitor and poured one bourbon, one scotch, one beer, plus a chocolate-almond-milk (he’s off dairy, and I’m self-medicating). We climbed under the table to share in the dirty Cheetos.

Where money comes from

Here’s the thing, son. New money is issued by an agent of the government called the Federal Reserve Bank, created by Congress a hundred years ago, then lent back to the government through banks who were given ownership of the Federal Reserve.

The government then spends the money, funnelling it to staff and preferred contractors. All of the new money is loaned into existence by the government to the government through the banks, and they even split up the interest with each other.

Ryder: I don’t get it.

Exactly! It’s like a giant game of circle jerk.

Ryder: What’s circle jerk?

Oh shit, umm… Let’s call it Ring Around the Rosie, but only some people are invited.

Ryder:   What happens next?

Once the new money gets out in the world, we compete for it with neighbors and friends. This part sounds bad, but it’s not. We don’t fight each other, but collaborate in voluntary exchanges, building things, solving problems, and servicing each other to earn it. The more we do for each other, the better we all live.

This role for money is called a “medium of exchange”, and almost any amount is enough, because prices adjust. The more money that’s created, the more everything costs.

This buying and selling is called a “market”, and has “an invisible hand”, using millions of decisions by all of the people to find the best use for our resources (time, energy, and savings) to create the most prosperity, including nice places to live and work, cool gadgets and toys, plus an adequate supply of delicious food.

But the people who create the new money – the Federal Reserve – build nothing, sell nothing, do nothing, nor exchange anything for it. They don’t work for the new money. They just push a button on a computer, and the money is credited to their bank account.

This new money doesn’t change the amount of food or toys in the world, but can be used to buy stuff just like the old money. No one can tell the difference between the two. Can you figure out where that value (or “purchasing power”) comes from?

Ryder:   Ironman?

Not exactly. That buying power is skimmed off all the old money held by everyone, including ours, Grandma’s money, and your teacher’s money, from the work we all did for each other. The amount of stuff in the world didn’t change, but the value of that stuff must be evenly distributed across all the money used to measure it.

Ryder:   Huh?

It’s like if we had 15 tacos rolled and spread across three plates on the kitchen table. Each plate has five tacos on it. But if two more plates are introduced to the area, now each has an allocation of only three tacos. The amount of wealth (tacos) in the world didn’t change, but those tacos must be distributed across more plates.

Ryder:   It sounds like mooching.

Son, it’s a sham, there are no two ways about it.

Most people don’t have any clue how it works. By the time you graduate high school, your teachers will have taught you nothing about it. If you go to college and study money (ECON, like me), instead of nothing, they’ll teach you a bunch of gobbledygook.

They prefer no one thinks about this process, but if you do, they introduce complicated models to confuse and justify how it’s done. People in power prefer we talk about other things, like skin color, immigration, Russia, and abortion.

Ryder:   What’s abortion?

Shit. Back to topic, son.

It wasn’t always this way. In ancient and recent history money has been tangible, like seashells, cows, grains, and metals, mostly gold and silver, that cannot be created by pushing a button. But the people who have this power, banks and government, like it, because they get to play Ring Around the Rosie picking pockets full of posies.

Business cycles

This is also the reason for frequent and ever larger booms and busts, because instead of solving problems and serving each other, people often just try to get in on the game. New money is directed into projects closest to the game, and businesses form around them.

These are the booms, which are followed by busts when the new money pauses, slows or changes direction on the whims of the Federal Reserve and Congress.

If you want to be successful and secure in life, you should learn to recognize this. When you see it happening around you, you can find opportunities to take advantage of early, and avoid following the herd into poor decisions later. If you get the “what” and the “why”, you can begin to connect the dots that others don’t see.

Ryder:   Daddy, you should write a story about this gobble gook, with pictures. Pictures make it fun and easier to understand.

Great idea, buddy. Every night we read stories about nothing. They’re cute, and it’s more enjoyable than burping your helpless brothers, but we could use that time to learn more about the world, especially important concepts they don’t teach kids in school.

Ryder:   Yay!

Son, I’ll do it.

And to give me insights that will help me set price and quantity, we’ll give some away for free. The rate that people sign up will send me a signal about the “demand” for high quality, full color children’s books that uncover important messages about money and the world (while keeping dads, moms, stepdads, stepmoms, girlfriends, and strippers from Boston engaged, entertained, and enlightened).

Ryder:   Hooray! You’re the best daddy ever. Sorry I call you Bad Daddy.

That’s right, son. I am the best dad ever, aren’t I? (Pausing, self-importantly). Now wash your hands, you filthy animal.

How it works: One of every four people to join our list below receives a free copy of “Where does money come from?”, a colorful, engaging story to help your children gain an edge in the world, a solid foundation for understanding money and power.

Even the shipping cost is covered (subsidized by our very own money-losing US Postal Service). We’ll email you for an address only after it’s ready, totally free.

You’ll also be on our list (only for as long as you want) to enjoy new columns from BadDaddy, like “The Truth About Babies“, “The College Debt Bubble (and Six Rules for 529 Plans)“, “Stop Telling Your Kids Good Job“, “A Manager’s Guide to Point-System Parenting“, “Toddlers Exposed”, and “The Truth About Debt”.

We won’t send ads or share your email, ever. Just straight-talk for free-thinking parents, every 2-4 weeks, right to your InBox. All ham, and no spam. What’s not to like?

Plus, every fourth email address receives “Where does money come from?”, a geniune classic in its own time, at no cost, with no credit card, and no questions asked.

Join now to help them think independently and see beyond the curtain-


Set your kids up for a lifetime of independent, second-level thinking, to connect the dots others don’t see, find opportunities in obstacles, and solutions among the noise. Moms, dads, and children of all ages will enjoy the thoughtful story and ensuing discussion.

Don’t let this important topic get brushed under the rug in your home any longer.


The Truth About Babies

Plus 5 must-haves for the first 5 months:

We took our twin boys home last week – children #3 and #4 – yet two more helpless, constant reminders what a colossal pain in the ass human babies are. I’ve started wearing condoms around the house to make sure I don’t slip up and have more.

Babies just eat, whine and wet – that’s it, nothing else – every moment of every day, for five months.

When you dare put them down, carefully leaning over the rock ‘n play like a well-trained ninja so you can brush your teeth, splash some water on your face (the Canadian shower), or skip hygiene and use your five minutes to pour a Tequila Sunrise (light on the O.J.), the doorbell rings, the dog barks, and the baby starts fussing.

It starts with a feeble “eh”, like something out of a fetus possum, perhaps an albino suddenly exposed to sunlight.

If you don’t jump right into action – like Batman, in the Batmobile, directly under the Batsignal (I don’t care if you’re naked, the shades are open, and shampoo suds are dripping down your face, you don’t get three minutes to change in the phone booth), it escalates to the most grinding, grating, whaling punishment known or imagined.

Why is it so unsettling? Pour me a stiff one, and I’ll tell you.

Nails, meet chalkboard

I love my kids (the older ones especially), but this is science talking. Humans are altricial, meaning born (if not hatched, like lizards) totally, blindingly helpless.

That feeling we get when they cry – OMG something is dying, make it stop, make it stop!! – is biology telling us to tend to our totally dependent and altogether vulnerable young. So manipulated we are, like ants in a long line of ants bringing sugar cubes to the queen.

Damn instincts…survival of the species over all else. Free will, my ass. Babies, the invalids they are, feeding and clothing them isn’t even enough. Not by a long-shot.

You must (a) hold them close; want a good laugh? You should see me in the skin-to-skin shirt Ashley bought me, which, for the good of the species, opens for nestling up to my hairy warm chest, (b) entertain them constantly; I’m now talking to grown men at the office in baby talk I’ve become so conditioned to it, and (c) six times per day, bounce them around the stove with the fan on (the ultimate white noise machine).

Each night by morning, my once-beautiful master bedroom looks like a homeless drunk climbed through a broken window at Babies R’ Us, knocked everything off the shelves, turned the heat up to 90, vomited, then took a crap on the floor before sneaking out the back. There are space-heaters, baby swings, gliders, breast pumps, breast milk, changing tables, diaper cream, and Goddamn phalanges (for the breast pump) everywhere.

The coddling is constant, so needy they are, like an insecure stripper suddenly revealing a Boston accent she hides after a few drinks (without her redeeming qualities).

And hey, I’m just a dad. Moms have it worse, spending these months as sleep-deprived dairy cows, milked by both man and machine one of every three hours.

The whole thing is a figurative bloodbath, I’m not going to lie.

If you’re not pregnant yet, don’t do it. Take the $10,000 you’d spend on labor and delivery and plan two weeks at the Four Season’s on Wailea Beach. Order up some Mai Tai’s and count your blessings. The species doesn’t need your offspring. Resist the instinct, and save yourself. Relish your freedom (no shame), and we’ll all envy you.

Yes, we have Nordstrom diaper bags and all the latest baby trinkets they’re pushing, but some days we’d trade it all for a good night sleep and a shower, let alone the lost freedom we never knew we had, plus two weeks in the sand and surf on Maui.

And for you expecting parents that have already walked the plank with a baby on the way, here are five things to help get you through it. Try to remember: it gets better. The first five months are brutal, the second five are a little better, and after 10 months, you have your groove. Humans start getting more fun then, I promise.

The Wipe Warmer

I know, bullshit, you’re thinking. We’re not pampered rich people, we take our wipes at room temperature, thank you. But hear me out. You’re changing 10-12 diapers per day, and each time you bring that cold, wet wipe to the babies’ chubby little ass, you’re going to get one of those dreaded “eh” reactions. There’s too much damn mustardy poop everywhere to get the albino-possum changed in time to stop the downward spiral. Heat up the wipes, and you just bought yourself 45 seconds. Now move fast, ant-man.

The Diaper Genie

Again, a dozen diapers per day (two dozen in my case), half filled with baby crap. And trust me, what starts as a urine-soaked, poop-filled diaper becomes something even more foul after a few days of fermentation. A regular trashcan isn’t going to cut it. These bad-boys quarantine the rotting stink-bombs like spent nuclear rods at Los Alamos.

White Noise App and Quality Speaker

You can’t sleep under the stove, and don’t waste your time with the white noise machines or the Sleep Sheep (except in a pinch, and then by all means, fire up the damn sheep). Use your phone, computer, or iPod, with a good speaker dock, and turn up the volume on the Waves, Thunderstorm, or Passing Train. Your babies will sleep better, and so will you. After a night of the Passing Train, everything else is just, well, white noise.

The Mamaroo

Part swing, part bouncer, part crib, this versatile machine replaces all three. It’s your last best chance to put the little sucker down for 10 minutes and take a hot shower. I wish they had one my size. I would gladly strap in right now for 12 hours straight.

Velcro Swaddle Wraps

Swaddling your baby is critical if you want the little bastard to sleep for more than 11 minutes consecutively. What’s better than a good burrito wrap? VELCRO®, man’s miracle. Thank goodness for George de Mestral and his fateful 1940’s hunting trip, when the Swiss engineer noticed tiny hooks on the cockle-burs that caused them to stick to his pants. He put them under a microscope, and the rest is history. These beauties buy you an extra 29 minutes of independent sleep per nap on average.

So, there you have it, folks. If it’s too late for you and yours to grab your shades and pack your adult luggage (sans the diaper cream and phalanges) for 10 days in Tahiti, then you may as well act like a good boy scout, and be prepared. With a few stiff drinks and a ton of patience, these five items will get you through the first five months.

After that, get yourself a Bumbo and Jolly Jumper, and the real fun begins.

PS: Join our email list to get unique, fresh, actionable parenting and provider insights that dispel conventional claptrap. No ads, no spam, and no bull. Just straight-talk with a touch of humor for free-thinking parents, every 2-4 weeks, right to your InBox.

How to Get Better at Life

Starting now (in five minutes).

It’s January 19th, and the gym is empty. The New Year’s resolution crowd has sweated out their last Cinnabon.

You gym-rats know what I mean (you can finally get your machines back). Two weeks ago, every treadmill and LAT pull-down was commandeered by an unfamiliar face, shucking up and down like a giant, deep fried kruller, doughy limbs jutting from every angle, dripping with outbound sugary frosting. This army of bright-eyed busy-bodies shows up every January, fresh off the new year with an old routine.

The place is now desolate, like a gutted bag of Fritos at a weight watcher’s meeting. Did you know that 67% of gym memberships go unused?

How can we keep fooling ourselves into thinking this time is different? Lose weight, save money, be more successful. Check, check and check. They’re on your list every year.

Don’t beat yourself up. Millions make the same resolutions each January. Why is it so hard to make meaningful change? How can we internalize new habits?

Can I be “fixed”?

The answer is yes, the time is now, and it’s not any more difficult than reading the morning newspaper (kruller in hand, if that helps).

Timeless wisdom

There’s a classic business and self-improvement book from the 1930’s called Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. It’s sold over 100 million copies (technically, a “shitload”).

Based on two decades of research, it was an assignment to Hill by Andrew Carnegie, the Bill Gates of his time. Hill impressed Carnegie enough that he trusted him to compile a “philosophy of personal achievement”. He interviewed hundreds of the world’s most successful people, like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and John D. Rockefeller, and then organized the wisdom into a book of key principles.

So compelling it is that so many titans of industry pointed to the same things, including just 13 key principles. Even MORE COMPELLING is that these timeless measures can all be boiled down to one simple little trick that anyone can implement, at no cost.

It’s a concept called “auto-suggestion”. Auto-suggestion means training your mind to reshape the world around you to meet with your desires.

Sounds like a crock of s—, you’re thinking, getting ready to move on.

Go ahead and move on then, to the next flashy article about making a fast buck or shrinking your pant size. Maybe you deserve to be fat and broke? Sorry, too harsh. What I meant was, maybe you’ve never given yourself a chance to be more successful?

This is so simple, you owe it to yourself to try. Trust me; I only write what I know (stuff I picked up on about the world, that I wish I knew 20 years ago). Read on…

Auto-Programming: Not just for DVRs

Here’s the trick-

Just type out what you want to accomplish this year and over the next few. Describe who you want to be, how you want to feel (like a Greek God), and the ways you’d like to get there. Include your ideal weight, and how much money you want to make or save.

Add the personal or relationship goals that are most important to you, like being a better dad, mom, wife or husband, listening to your family more, being present in the moment, enjoying your job, whatever you want most. This is your “Statement of Purpose”.

About a page in length is more than enough. Once you’re satisfied with it (you can fiddle over time), read it aloud to yourself every morning or before bed (both, if you have the time, but once will suffice). As the French say, “Voila”.

The world will begin shaping itself to your desires (more accurately, your brain will accomplish more towards these goals than you ever knew possible, fitting the pieces together in your conscious and subconscious mind).

The human brain is a complex and powerful device, with billions of neurons that convey, analyze, sort and process electrical information. There’s a giant game of Tetris going on up there at all times. Most of what we experience in the world is simply a function of how we perceive it, and how our psyche solves problems, programs itself, and fits pieces together while sleeping or doing monotonous things (like driving).

It starts with the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves. Train your brain for five minutes each day for six weeks, and you will get results.

Once you see how well it works, introduce it to your kids when they have a lofty goal. Imagine what they will accomplish in their lifetime if they start at 14 instead of 40?

A friend tipped me off to Hill’s book in 2014, and the advances I made at work and in my personal life were almost immediate. It’s truly the essence of mind over matter.

Just remember to think about and visualize the words as you read them, and stick to it. Do it over a specialty coffee or add a morning bagel slathered in cream cheese if it helps make the time special enough to remember. Massive improvements in goal-attainment will follow quickly (but once it becomes habit, you must remind yourself to focus, rather than let your mind wander while simply reciting empty words).

Here, take mine

Most won’t bother writing a Statement of Purpose, and even fewer will read it aloud for more than a day or two. Those who do will get better at life almost immediately. Maybe it just self-selects all the losers and quitters out that way.

So, who are you going to be? What will you get better at?

Open a Word document now and type out a sentence. “This year, I will feel gratitude for the love of my family, lose 20 pounds, save $15,000, and learn to kite surf…”

Need help getting started? Click here to download mine, and modify to fit your life. While I also recommend reading the book, that’s not even necessary. You can start with this and see some progress first before diving into Hill’s 13 key principles.

Of 100 million copies, 80 million were sold since 1970. Getting this into your morning routine will put you in the 1% (of 7.4B people on the globe). Finally. And don’t you dare feel like an idiot reading aloud to yourself every morning. Feeling like an idiot is for people who never get out of their comfort-zone (for fear of feeling like an idiot).

At BadDaddy, we’re not afraid of crawling out on a limb in the name of progress.

Hell, I once jumped off a three-story building (onto a limb) at 6:30 in the morning for absolutely no reason at all (ah, the joys of college).

Now write down your dreams, read it aloud, and then smash something over your knee if it gets you going. An era of great progress in your life will follow.

PS: Join our email list to get unique, fresh, actionable parenting and provider insights that dispel conventional claptrap. No ads, no spam, and no bull. Just straight-talk with a touch of humor for free-thinking parents, every 2-4 weeks, right to your InBox.


This is 40

A New Year’s Inventory:

As we ring in another New Year, I’m turning the page on my 30’s and officially joining the ranks of the middle-aged, with the big 4-0.

Sharing a January 8th birthday with Elvis, it’s time to start managing my decline. I’m hoping to follow in the King’s footsteps sporting a bulging leather body suit with a steady supply of barbiturates at the Las Vegas Hilton, replaying my old hits for drunk tourists in a smoky cocktail lounge, two years from dying on a Memphis toilet.

When I look at others my age (lost in my own fantasy) they just seem older. Does everyone feel 5-7 years younger on the inside? I still got it… right honey?

Despite having my circuits clearly crossed, I must come to terms with reality. It’s strange to leave behind a big part of your identity, like no longer being “charming”, “witty”, “great with kids”, or any other adjective you hold dear. And if I’m not “young” anymore, that means I’m old. “Middle-aged” is a soft, limp, flaccid, (shriveled) consolation.

With youth came vigor, health and wellness, and a now-fading naivety around them. I used to think (or often say, chest puffed out), my shit works (nodding, basking), like I won the Powerball of gene lotteries, but some of it just doesn’t anymore. There is no arguing with fading vision, a slowed metabolism, or the extra time required to heal from sprains, strains, bruises and hangovers (ever had one last ‘til Wednesday)?

Still worse is the flesh ballooning in under the jaw-line, not unlike Ursula from Little Mermaid. Fifteen years ago (Marlboro hanging from the side of my mouth, hand on the stick-shift of my old Datsun 280ZX), I wouldn’t have known or cared who the damn witch was. Now, I have (a) read the book, (b) seen the movie, (c) ridden the ride a hundred times at Disney, and (d) many of my friends are starting to look like her (minus the hair).


As men my age know well, the “jerk-wad” (as Ashley calls it) competes hardily with the potbelly and pattern baldness for father time’s biggest tell on aging superstars of yesteryear. For those lucky enough to skate all three, the Clooney’s and Pitt’s of the world, the cover of GQ awaits.

We do have it easier, permitted to go gently and quietly into that good night while the scars of 40 bare down on the fairer sex like an on-coming train.

Biggest Regrets

Four come to mind-

1)  At the midpoint on the wondering road of life, I can’t help but suddenly feel like I’ve wasted too much. All those nights and weekends partying in my 20s… for six years straight, my fridge was merely a holding pen for a rotating sequence of Budweiser 30-packs. No dairy, no protein, not even a lone jar of pickles or bottle of Heinz. By Monday morning, there wasn’t an inch of counter space not zoned for empties.

Good times were had by all, and memories made, but what was I thinking?

I only wish I had half the time back to spend reading, writing, thinking BIG, and figuring out the world. But it was fun, a nice decade to spend in San Diego, sailing the coast in a cheap ’78 Catalina 27′. She turns 40 this year too, in the arms of another man.


2)  I still waste a godawful amount of precious, dwindling time, and not on a sailboat (maybe I had it right before). Days, weeks, months are swallowed by minutia at home or the office because I’m used to doing things one way and haven’t focused more on automation, innovation, or delegation. How can I expect to scale, think strategically, or accomplish great things when I am building mostly with the little Legos?

3)  When I’m home, I’m often not present. I’m working, or thinking about work. What a tragic disservice that is to myself and my family.

4)  I get annoyed by my kids, knowing I will pine over these years when they’re over. Why torture ourselves, complaining our way through it only to miss it when it’s gone?

Biggest Accomplishments

Two come to mind, my job (this is my 18th year with the business, and our most significant), and my family. I’ve devoted more time to the former, which should change, but probably won’t (until the kids are no longer kids, with better things to do than throw footballs and frisbees or build rockets, dollhouses, and treehouses with dad). This momentous year also marks our 10th of marriage, Ashley and I.

The lesson is stark: only from real work comes true reward.

There are no substitutes in life for persistence and passion; no short-cuts to a happy marriage or successful career. Nothing good comes too easily or without sacrifice.

Remember that, each time the will to quit teases by with her soft eyes and easy smile. With the big 4-0 comes life experience, a wisdom that can’t be learned in a textbook, taught in a lecture, scribbled on a bathroom wall, or bottled in a Budweiser.

Vital Signs

Physical Health

Pushing up on 200 pounds, I’m now 30 pounds heavier than freshman year at CU, but my jean size is down (33 versus 34). How did I pull that off?

Turns out, changes in style from being a teenager in the late 90’s to middle-aged today afford some room to grow into one’s pants.


The thrills we had, romping around Boulder in a Jeep without doors, Peter Tosh echoing off the flatirons. The freedom of youth tastes sweet, before the weight of the world descends with the arrival of spouses and babies, but mostly in retrospect. We knew not what we had, without a worry and little frame of reference.

Thirty pounds sounds like a huge jump, but it’s just 14 over my fighting weight in 2001, pasted against the ropes by that beast to your right-

Battling it out during the first round of the Toughman Competition Friday night, July 31st, 2001 at Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, TX (photo by Michelle Christenson)

I got pummeled that night, but landed my share of blows, and never went down. Look at the steely-eyed growl on that little bulldog…almost reminds me of Clubber Lang.


“Dead meat.”

The beatdown I got was also not dissimilar. I lost a unanimous decision, but unlike Clubber, my opponent refused to fight-on (his ear drums filled with blood by morning from my own youthful scrappiness).

Ah, the glory days. Like Rocky, I was all muscle, and keep insisting that’s still the case. Does anyone else suck in their stomach even alone in the bathroom mirror?

Financial Health

We’ve done well enough, and I cannot complain, but it’s true what they say, that well enough is never quite enough. Does that make me vain?

It’s amazing how expenses track income in lockstep, like Newton’s 3rd Law. How did we manage to find and fall in love with coffees twice the cost of Starbucks? Even salt, the cheapest thing at the grocery store, and we are flying it in from the Himalayas, relative costs be damned (in the name of quality and nutrition, so insists my wife).

Ah, the weight and responsibilities of attachment. Amazon may be taking over the world, but thank goodness they bought Whole Foods and brought some damn relief. The cost-of-living is otherwise going up, and I have no interest in just “scraping by”.

What I want for my growing family is not just a nice house with a pool, fast car, and vacations to the beach and mountains (which I also want), but real security.

That means being self-reliant without a big drop in living standards even if disaster strikes, like disability from a car wreck. I’d like to be able to pick up at a moment’s notice and move us out of the country in the case of war with Russia or China, or a dollar collapse after a loss of confidence from all the money-printing.

Shit really does happen (read your history), and mostly to the ill-prepared.

As primates we are not good at anticipating trouble on a massive scale, with a normalcy bias and propensity for shifting baselines (like frogs, slowly coming to a boil).

Plus, we’ve outsourced all the worrying to Washington, no? They’ll take care of global stuff, and we can just focus on local, right? Famous last words.

Sure, I’m looking forward to the NFL playoffs and don’t begrudge anyone for caring about The Bachelor, but I’d also like to be able to take care of my family no matter the scenario, and with all the creature comforts. You don’t hit 40 with mouths to feed and get to play dumb anymore. It’s time to put the doors back on the jeep, and buckle up.

Winter is coming.

It’s simple: Too many promises have been made that cannot all be financed. There is $300 trillion in paper wealth in the world, in part because of the illusion of it’s worth at today’s prices. Two thirds ($200 trillion) is debt (government, corporate, mortgage, student, auto, etc.). Our system pushes credit expansion as a mechanism for economic growth, regardless of project value. We never met a borrower we didn’t like. This debt is carried as assets on balance sheets of lenders and noteholders, whose equity (along with the same debt) is stuffed into 401ks, pensions, ETFs, and mutual funds.

You can basically follow it all back to some schlub named Chip in Poughkeepsie with a 596-credit score and a seven-year 120% loan-to-value on a 2015 Chevy Silverado. And Chip just walked out of Best Buy with a 60-inch Samsung, no money down.

It’s a house of cards, and the wind is stirring. That’s why I want real security, beyond a reliable paycheck.

It’s why I’m building a second home on a small lot in Nicaragua-

20160519_101024 (2017_06_16 21_29_07 UTC)

The quiet, Pacific breezes and the surfing (at Rancho Santana) cannot be beat. A former pawn in the global game of chess between Soviet and US super powers, the country is poor but on the upswing (I hope!), and the people are as warm as the weather.

Why I Created BadDaddy

If I’m like a burger, carefully patted and placed over the coals, then I’ve now puddled with juices, and just been flipped. It’s tough to acknowledge the first half over, but things are much clearer from this angle. I can see why it’s getting so hot and juicy.

I publish BadDaddy to share the things I’ve learned about the world, that I wish I picked up on earlier, bobbing around the Pacific (and getting formed into a patty).

I try to bring a unique perspective, two really. Mine and Ashley’s (the wife), like the yin and yang, delivering unconventional wisdom for free-thinking parents in America. The first thing we do is detach ourselves from the mindless pandering and finger-pointing of right versus left, striving for independent, second-level thinking.

At BadDaddy, we stand apart from the herd.

To the question, do we need a modern democrat or republican in charge, I am more inclined to try a cocker spaniel. But I don’t hate America. I love what America stood for, and want that dream back for my kids, your kids, and their kids.

Forty is the sweet spot – too old to miss the subtleties in what they’re selling, and too young to be stuck in a senior home writing complaint letters to the editor. It’s our time to take the helm from the delusional, cock-eyed baby boomers, and navigate a new path forward. So join me in a tumultuous, thrilling ride into the great abyss of human folly, with history as our guide, and a stiff cocktail for courage.

And Happy New Year, from the newly middle-aged. Here’s to a strong second half!

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A Woman’s (other) Right to Choose

C-Section, VBAC, TOLAC, and Birthing in America Today.

I’m going to step out of my comfort zone (which is mainly football, the economy, family vacations, specialty cocktails, craft beers, my job, and the Rolling Stones) to call out a tragic trend with major physical, mental, and spiritual health implications for women, men and children alike: C-Sections, and the collective campaign to cut.

One in every three babies born in the U.S. is via cesarean, totaling 1.3 million every year, often by coercion and unnecessarily.

Every 24 seconds (i.e. now, and 10 more times before your popcorn is ready), a healthy American woman is sliced open with a scalpel, her newborn baby cut from the womb, yanked through muscle, and dragged from the abdominal wall. Violently pulled away from Mom, her only (and shared) source of rhythm, warmth, life, love, and light, baby is handed off to a towering, foreign, Neanderthal Dad, then shuttered out to a cold, steel, sterilized room, where baby frantically searches for a nipple while Goliath (dad) is equally confused, confounded, and ill-prepared (firsthand experience here).

C-Section is now the #1 inpatient medical procedure. Is this really a problem, or am I just cooking up another reason to complain?

While few may care about this subject, everyone should, and here’s why…

The Health Factor

We (on the fringes) are beginning to understand that whole person (i.e. physical and mental) wellbeing are largely tied to having a healthy, thriving microbiome —the (mostly good) bacteria living inside and all over our bodies. They act as colonizers that shape our lifelong health, a symbiotic relationship between vertebrates and microbes. Chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes have now been linked to differences in the gut’s microbiome, which may be more significant for some than even lifestyle choices.

Babies, effectively sterile or without bacteria on or inside them in the womb, pick up their first batch of this flora in passing through the birth canal during normal delivery.

Sounds bazaar at first, until you think about it. It’s another complex ecosystem, characteristic of life itself, which of course it should be (because it is).

How about that? Nature at work, in her amazing, life-giving intricacy.

As another of mother’s defenses, it ensures a better chance to thrive outside the womb. Not something to play fast and loose with like a found quarter beside a Vegas slot machine, it’s really a time-tested, time-honored, biological mechanism carved into our species through millennia by the river of life, and one that should be respected and remain intact with labor except under emergency circumstances.

The Emotional Factor

Look, I’m about as sensitive as course-grit sandpaper in an old coffee can out in the garage, with the emotional quotient of a giant baboon, but I imagine the C-Section feels like an evolutionary air-ball thrown up at the buzzer. Six million years of instinctual, DNA-level programming, usurped in minutes by men in white coats with needles, knives, monitors and machines. Childbirth is not just a rite of passage, it’s the rite of passage and raison d’etre (from a biological standpoint) for women, and an integral part of the transition between carrying a baby inside (as one) and becoming its mother.

Childbirth is all of these things first, and a medical procedure second (if at all).

The Collision Course

It’s easy to point fingers at the medical industrial complex. The interventions today are lined up like dominos, often leading to the inevitable. At 24 and 31 years old, trusting in our OB/GYN (reading much about caring for a baby and none of delivery itself), we didn’t know what we didn’t know. Our doctor suggested induction a week early for our first (Mia), and we said, “Sure. Why not?” Who wouldn’t want to schedule an event this big and get your ducks in a row during a mutually convenient time?

Inducing labor is done with Pitocin, a prescription medication that causes intense contractions, regardless of the body or baby’s preparedness (let alone the phase of the moon or other of nature’s cycles). This led to failure to progress fast enough, manual breaking of the water (with a plastic hook, if you can believe it), followed by more Pitocin, an epidural anesthesia injection into the spinal cord (to numb the pain from all of the Pitocin-induced contractions), and suddenly fetal distress and emergency surgery.

Who knows, but maybe Mia wasn’t ready?

Next came Ryder, pictured above after being pulled through a gaping wound sliced right into the midsection (which later become infected), before the inevitable hand-off to me (devoid of breast milk or a proper birth canal, thinking mostly of the coming NFL playoffs…). Ryder was cut out by an OB who remained positive on VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) up until the third trimester, then campaigned against it for three months, breaking our will. With twins now expected in January, the VBA2C is proving elusive. Most OBs or midwives won’t touch it. The dominoes have fallen.

Time will tell, then, if as a family we hit a 50%, 75%, or a 100% cesarean rate, in any case bringing up the average from one in three nationally.


Have we not learned to trust the infinite wisdom and rhythm of life itself, hardcoded into our DNA over the sands of time? When did obstetrics become surgery?

Today, they no longer bother to train OBs in breach delivery (baby positioned feet first), but only to cut, early and often. Somewhere, a dove cries (into a coffee can in the garage with a giant, weeping baboon, Wild Horses playing in the background).

I could pound on the healthcare system all day long, or tie this right back to the institution of government (as I often do, another easy target), but maybe it’s more visceral than that. Maybe it’s a reflection of the times we live, and the growing chasm between the modern human experience and the natural world.

Maybe it’s hubris. We’ve done a lot of amazing things as a species, but cannot and should not lose sight of our place in a much larger and complex natural world. An ecosystem doesn’t work without diversity of organisms. We should no more sterilize our bodies or babies than we should sterilize the Earth itself. We should honor, admire, and take cues from the beautiful, awe-inspiring symbiosis all around us in life itself.

So, expectant mothers and fathers of the world, question the wisdom of modern medical interventions that may increase the likelihood of an unnecessary C-Section. Don’t get bullied, bamboozled, or coerced into induction, Pitocin or thinking that cesareans are without long-term health implications for you and your children.

Trust in Mother Nature, and let her ride back into your life on her Spirit Horse, hair flowing down to her waste, mud on her hands, smile on face, and spark in her eye…

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What I’m (Not) Thankful for This Year

Sick as a dog (the flu), with a colossal miscalculation at work (overstepping my bounds in trying to get a deal to go our way), I’ve had better days. But, one foot in front of the other, down but never out, I’m especially thankful this Thanksgiving.

I’m thankful for the beautiful world around me (despite being stuck at a computer longer than any creature should), the opportunity to put my feet on dirt, hold my wife and kids close, and wake up to the sun over the horizon with a bounty on my holiday table.

I’m thankful for the ability to think for myself.

Frankly, we are shoveled shit as a populace, and I am thankful that I don’t lap it up like a slobbering dog. I am thankful that many are not so pliable to believe in the backward myths that permeate from the confused and the indoctrinated, the mind-numbing memes from all angles of media, corporatism, and government droned down upon us from the marketing and money machines in New York, Los Angeles, and DC.

On this Thanksgiving Day, the mood strikes me to call BS on 12 totally random factoids (meaning like a fact, but not really, because it’s total bullshit)-

1. Kids need scheduling and constant oversight (heck no; self-directed, imaginative play is much better for their little minds, bodies, and spirits, right?).

2. War is good for the economy (war may be the health of the state, but for all others it brings death and destruction, which are terrible for all, excepting only the few).

3. We should all lather ourselves and our children with SPF 50 sunscreen anytime we step outside the front door (please, get some vitamin D you cry-babies).

4. Inflation is necessary and we should undercount it, massage the statistics, and then aim for 2%, which is really 5% (hogwash; inflation discourages savings and destroys the social contract, making the rich richer and the rest indentured servants).

5. Homework is good for kids (homework sucks, and you know it).

6. Consumer spending drives prosperity (backwards; it’s savings, or capital formation which drives investment and productivity growth, thereby enabling spending).

7. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (how did the breakfast lobby sneak this in? All meals and snacks, regardless of race or religion, are equally important, although aside from Bullet Coffee, dinner is the only one I observe).

8. Deficits don’t matter (yes they do, Mr. Dick Cheney, you bonehead, and we are mortgaging our future to waste and spend without any prudence at all).

9. Russia (Iran, North Korea, etc.) is our enemy (this is scapegoating for our own political incompetence or to further the agenda of the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in WWII, warned us about).

10. Red meat and bacon are bad for you (total BS; eat nothing but red meat and bacon and you’ll do great, especially if grass-fed/pasture-raised).

11. They hate us for our freedom (they hate us for sticking our proverbial noses everywhere).

12. The rise in mass-shootings is a gun-control issue (whether you support gun rights or not, the rise in mass shootings is not statistically correlated to a liberalization of gun laws, so it must be something else, one or some of many environmental factors that have changed over the last few decades; my sneaking suspicion’s lean towards psychiatric meds with suicidal and homicidal ideations…it’s on the damn bottle, right?).

Factoids are easy targets, but enough for now. Each deserves a column of its own, but it’s time to sit down for a roasted turkey dinner with all of the fixings. The Pilgrims and Wampanoags of 1621 are rolling over in their graves (in between servings of yams, stuffing and cranberry sauce) under the cold ground in Plymouth, Massachusetts tonight at all of the hypocrisy and propaganda shoved down our throats in the year 2017.

It’s a racket everywhere you turn, from healthcare to higher education, right down to the currency system, and a sucker is born every minute.

Today, I’m thankful that you or I, dear reader, are not one of them.

I’m thankful for the wind through the trees, the sunlight on my skin, the way my wife’s eyes turn up and to the right when she smiles, and how my eight-year-old Mia is turning into a young lady right before my very eyes. I’m thankful to live in a country where liberty remains important, if not sacred (like it once was).  I’m thankful to be able to prove myself in the workplace. I’m thankful for our service members and their can-do spirits, despite their unnecessary deployments and overstretched engagements all over the world as the empire begins to buckle under its own weight.

I’m thankful for the chance to share my ideas with you, and to build the BadDaddy community of free-thinking, free-spirited parents that don’t slop at the trough every time the dinner bell rings from the grandmasters pushing paper in the halls of power.

Today, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving, and the start of the Christmas season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year (despite all of the foolishness).

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Business Travel Tips for the Family Man (or Woman)

Romantic as it sounds, business travel can be brutal, especially when leaving a wife, newborn baby, or toddlers behind. Another missed connection, another tiny bag of peanuts, and another Godforsaken Marriott. Kill me already.

I say this with a straight face, even as I sit on the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane, Australia, fingers wrapped comfortably around an ice-cold beer (except when they creep gently over to a warm plate of sausage rolls). It’s Sunday afternoon, the sun is radiant, the food delicious, and the air is crisp. An attractive young woman on a small stage sings the most beautiful version of Hallelujah I have heard or imagined, while her guitar gently weeps along in perfect tune.

I’ll concede “brutal” doesn’t describe this scene. It’s more like a corner of heaven tucked away on the other side of the globe. There was a time (not long ago) when nothing could be more welcome or invigorating. Today, lost in the acoustic melody with a family and young children at home, a balloon-artist tugs at my heart-strings with reminders of my little ones (they love those!), and I miss my wife (she would dig this song…).

With international trips now spanning 10 days or more, the weekends afford me an unwelcome respite from the hustle and bustle. Sitting idle or aimlessly wandering the sights alone for two days between meetings proves difficult. The biggest difference has been the dynamic at home. Strange how things change with more time away, from a family anxiously awaiting your return, to one that gets on without you.

It’s a necessary adjustment, and I’m proud they aren’t pining for daddy. Nonetheless, with it comes a touch of melancholy, floating in like the morning fog. Perhaps it’s hubris, or the fear of missing out. You’re having fajitas and guacamole without me?

Service members will laugh. Two weeks do not a deployment make. But the risk they know well is falling out of rhythm. The show must go on, and it goes on without you.

After weeks on the road, it takes time to get back into the family “swing”. Little things that became routine, endearing even, like my snoring or affinity for getting the kids riled up before bedtime, suddenly become disruptive. It’s like Neanderthal man, loud, towering and ugly, swooping into their delicate lives, knocking over furniture, cackling, drooling and hooting after more than 40,000 years of extinction.

While some of that is inevitable, here are 10 simple ways to keep things running smoothly at home through the strain of business travel-

1. Call daily, except if you’re exhausted after a long day, and then don’t. Text a sweet nothing before bed and save the call for the morning, especially if it involves managing rat-race minutia or conflict resolution. Wait for sunrise, when you’re refreshed. If it seems overwhelming or bicker-worthy, you’re too tired, and it’s the wrong time to do it.

2. Stay positive. Your spouse is not the complaint department. Why must we dump every trivial little injustice on our significant other? No one likes a complainer, nor should they shoulder that burden. Save it for when you need constructive advice, not the opportunity to be the victim. This will improve the relationship you left behind, and your performance on the road. It starts with the stories we tell ourselves and each other… “The plumber’s bill is what?! Don’t worry, I got it. My flight? We got stuck on the Houston runway for six hours with no air-conditioning and toilets that wouldn’t flush, but I got a ton of work done, and the Marriott has never looked so good. The meetings? There were setbacks, but I was ready, and I fully expect to close the business. For now, I’m happy to put my feet up, order takeout, and think about you. What a lucky man, I am.”

3. Before you say all that, ask about her and the kids’ day. A good rule of thumb is to listen twice as much as you spend talking about yourself or your trip.

4. Unless you’re rarely away, skip the souvenirs. No one needs more airport trinkets, nor to be conditioned to receiving them, especially at a young age. Reuniting as a family is the best reward (exception: if you miss a birthday or anniversary, buy something nice).

5. Don’t cheat. What happens in Vegas, usually stays in Vegas, if you brought condoms, but at what cost? Your marriage and family are sacred; the most important things in your life, worth much more than 45 minutes of new sex with the 26-year-old blond sending signals from the booth across from yours at the LV Convention Center. Trust is cultivated in years and lost in minutes, and you cannot keep secrets from yourself.

6. Pick 1-2 destinations each year, and bring the family. In the last 12 months, Ashley and the kids came with me to Anaheim (Disney!) and Seattle in July (the best time to go).

7. Write a letter home, and drop it in the mail. Flip the stamp upside down for a little-known sign of affection from a simpler time. Address each kid and the wife with a tidbit just for them. Everyone is looking for some attention, and letter-writing is a lost art.

8. Thank her for being supportive, and managing everything at home. It’s hard on her too. Be mindful and open to changes in the routine, and don’t be upset when no one takes the bins out to the curb on trash day. After all, you’re irreplaceable, right?

9. Impose a four-drink nightly max (see #5 above). You are not 25 anymore. It may be Sales Rally, but head to your room after the 3rd or 4th cocktail, and catch an episode of SportsCenter or Shark Tank. You’ll thank yourself in the morning when you hop out of bed like you got shot out of a cannon, catch up on email, then head to the gym before nailing your presentation. It beats-the-hell out of struggling through the day as a hung over mess, or untangling yourself from the disheveled, unfitted sheets and pealing Jane from Marketing off your sweaty body so you can pop a Red Bull, rush a shave, and clamor into your meeting 20 minutes late, dehydrated and bloodshot.

10. If it gets too strained at home, you’re not doing everything else right. Reread 1-9, and if you need to scale back on travel, pick your battles, and delegate if you can. Family first, right? This one is hard for me since I consider financial security a family priority, but I am making emergency preparations for the twins’ arrival in January. With the minivan purchased, we are now shopping for an Au Pair. How’s that for commitment? The first year with two new babies won’t be any easier if I don’t hit my numbers.

So, there you have it, my friends, from one road warrior to another.

Earth shattering? No, not really. Common sense, informed by experience, and they go a long way together with faithful execution, like a cranberry old-fashioned and a Cowboy’s game on Thanksgiving Day. I’d say #5, then #8 carry the most weight. Lies and betrayal are toxic; avoid them if you can. And gratitude, sadly, may be the first thing to go with closeness, but should never go another day unacknowledged.

So, grab your wife by the jeans, pull her close, look her in the eye, tell her you love her, and that you’ve got to go hunting for a few days. She’ll understand.

Then hop on your flight, go be the stand-up guy you were born to, and close some deals like a champion. Christmas is coming, and Santa’s got to fill those stockings up tight.

PS: Join our email list to get unique, fresh, actionable parenting and provider insights that dispel conventional claptrap. No ads, no spam, and no bull. Just straight-talk with a touch of humor for free-thinking parents, every 2-4 weeks, right to your InBox.

Youth Football and Head Injuries

To play or not to play?

In 1958, football overtook baseball as America’s past-time, and we haven’t looked back. Today, HALF of the top 10 broadcasts are football-related.

But, trouble is brewing in pigskin-paradise.

High-profile suicides like legionary linebacker Junior Seau and season-ending injuries for marquee players like Aaron Rodgers put a massive spotlight on the risks of football. A recent report examining the brains of former NFL players found of 110 of 111 studied – 99% – had degenerative brain disease called CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

Parents have a tough choice: Should we let our kids suit-up and play this dangerous game we so revere?

It’s a crisis of conscience. The NFL is king in America, but repeated blows to the head are not good for the brain. My college roommate posed the question that many of us parents will soon face: “Would you let your son play tackle football?”

I paused as the question hung in the air, thick like pea soup. I answered yes, then began to qualify, defend, and dance. “I would never push him, but if football becomes his passion, I’ll make sure he knows how to hit, and how to take a hit, and let him play”.

Even as I write the words, my confidence wanes. Ashley calls them “idiotic”, given the information we have. Indulge me though as I piece together yet another case for derangement of duty (idiocy), like I’ve become famous for in our home.

Aside from playing smart (head up!), the keyword for me is “passion”.

A Boy’s Life

My memories of football – like BB guns, campfires, go-carts, capture-the-flag, fireflies, snowball fights, and dirt-bikes – are vivid and cherished.

Five nights per week, as the summer gave way to changing leaves, rustled by a cool wind through the Maples, dozens of us converged on bikes from all directions to Binney Park for practice. We ran, then stretched, and with the formalities behind us, we lined up and hit. Except for the QB (spared for game-day), every play was run at full speed, and full contact. The tackling drills were awesome; two boys, two sizes, firing off the line “on go” for a collision in space, encircled by the team, eyes glued to the action.

One boy – defense or offense, maybe the bigger though often the smaller – got the better of the other with each crack. It was a modern-day duel among boys, one as old as life on earth itself, like young bucks locking antlers in the wilderness.

Form tackles were praised by coaches while the glory from peers came from the hardest hits. Steam from the hoots, hollers and catching-of-breath in the cold air forming a smoke ring above us like an ancient Indian tribe, elbows on shoulder pads, white pants turned brown and green, grass and dirt chunks stuck in facemasks, and smiles wide.

Legends were born in Binney Park, and the lore only grew on game-day.

“Breakdown!” barked Coach Porter for the 100th time, his steely eyes glistening under the glow of a setting sun, passing the baton to the rising Harvest Moon.

As practice ended, pitch black by then in the November chill, we hung our helmets over the right handle bar to ride home unencumbered by safety devices for the head. Rarely did I feel more alive breathing in the fresh air, peddling up the steep hill to Riverside – a spiritual awareness, myself and the world in tune in the church of boyhood.

Football is a brutal, carnal sport, even in 6th grade. The most dangerous thing on the field is the helmet. Wrists often snap by kids “putting a head on the ball” to jar out a fumble. I remember wincing of pain, eyes closed tightly, when they carried TJ Ostruska off the field with a broken bone. Or the head-on collision of Carlos Alvarado in the championship game, our best and fastest player, with a gifted and rival opponent. It was the rare hit with an equal momentum from both sides. They bounced off each other like billiard balls, each landing flat and still for several long minutes on the field, coaches, players, and parents hovering nervously, mouths open, and eyes wide shut.

If any of them have CTE, dementia, or depression today, I don’t know. But at 39, it’s early for my generation, and may depend on how far their football careers went. Is it worth the risk? It’s a tough question for parents, easily put off with self-delusion.

We can start by trying to steer our children into safer sports; kids surely get some of the same benefits from baseball, basketball, soccer, or swimming. Having dabbled in those too though, it’s hard for me to overlook my personal experience and connection to football. It’s intangible, a coming-of-age story about self-awareness, comradery, tribalism, competition, teamwork, and masculinity. I lost more of those drills early than I won, but I watched, I worked, I grew, I dug deeper, and I learned a few things.

Some boys are drawn to the physicality, and love the game of football like no other. They excel at hitting, tackling, throwing, catching, juking, blocking, or running people over.

It’s a primal connection, not easily replicated. A rite of passage, like bighorn rams charging each other at full speed to knock horns deep in the high country.

And it’s healthy, for boys to organize and compete in this way.

To hell with any society so “evolved” — pacified, bland and impotent, severed in its connection to the natural world — to demand of them emasculation. Boys can and should learn to be strong, competitive, and masculine, without disrespect or encroachment. A gentleman warrior knows and cultivates the power he holds inside his heart, between his ears, and in his hands, learning when and how to use it honorably.


So, there you have it, my impassioned plea for a barbaric, violent, and beautiful game. It’s one of emotion, nostalgia, testosterone, and yes, perhaps a little idiocy.

But we’re lucky enough to live in the age of technology, wearable devices, and the Internet of things. A quick search turns up helmet monitors, which have now become a reality, measuring the impact and frequency of collisions to the head. For Ashley and other moms, let’s do some research together, decide how much is too much, set some guidelines, and ask our kids to play smart, or not at all. Take control.

Head up, and lead with your shoulder, son. And keep those feet moving!

Otherwise, let the boys be boys on the football field. They might learn a thing or two about themselves, and the world. “Hut-hike!”

PS: Join our email list to get unique, fresh, actionable parenting and provider insights that dispel conventional claptrap. No ads, no spam, and no bull. Just straight-talk with a touch of humor for free-thinking parents, every 2-4 weeks, right to your InBox.

Eight Kick-Ass Alternatives to Candy for Halloween

At the risk of surrendering whatever I had left of my coolness or youth, embracing the role of crotchety-old-man while still in my 30s (barely), I’ll pose a question: Why are we sending our obese, diabetic, chronically-ill children rolling around the neighborhood to stuff pillow cases with sugary, processed nougats so they can gorge themselves until their glazed eyes pop out of their skulls from the spike in blood sugar?

Are we trying to kill them, and if so, could we not save a few $100k by pushing them out into traffic or drowning them in the tub? Sorry (too dark!), but you get the point.

Halloween kicks ass in many ways. The cold, crisp air, the general spookiness, the leaves changing colors, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, pick-up football games, jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses, scary movies, walking the neighborhood with seasonal beers and specialty cocktails, cute kids in cute costumes and cute moms in sexy ones (the witch, the nurse, the schoolteacher, the cowgirl…best day ever for the NFL’s Charger girls).

And who doesn’t enjoy hunkering down on a Snickers, Reece’s, Kit-Kat, Butterfinger, or Twix? Damn those nougats. So full of chewy, pleasure-releasing nougaty-goodness that more than half of the US population will have a chronic disease by the time your children are 18. One in every three kids alive today will develop diabetes.

The primary culprit is too much refined sugar, a trend kicked into high gear in the 1970s when our all-knowing, well-intentioned government opened the first salvo in the misguided war-on-fat. Misdiagnosing the problem with grand opulence (per usual), manufacturers then took the baton, extracting and replacing healthy fats with refined sugar, jumpstarting industrial food-processing and modern “food science”. Enter stage-left the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, inflammation, and leaky gut, to name a few. Newsflash: refined sugar and processed foods are the root cause of chronic disease.

Don’t even get me started on the damn “Food Pyramid”. The biggest joke in the history of mankind, the cronies in Washington trotted it out in 1992 like gospel, indoctrinating us all with baseless BS. Six to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta as the foundation of a healthy diet? How do we entrust this institution to deliver the mail, let alone manage the money system or military after that monumental display of incompetence?

To hell with the propoganda, and go ahead and smash the pyramid over your knee. As parents, it’s our job to take control of the traditions we hold dear, to shape these for our kids. The power is ours to keep what’s good, and change for the better what’s not. Every day is an opportunity to tackle another challenge. Clear eyes, full heart…

Damn I’m good; I should be on Oprah.

With that in mind, we tackle Halloween. It’s time to wake up and recognize the torment we cause our children with refined sugar and processed junk. Quite simply, cut the cord with candy, and embrace the “trick” component more so than “treat”.

Eight Kick-Ass Alternatives to Halloween Candy

1) Bang-snaps. No friend of mine growing up would ever choose a candy bar over a box of bang snaps.

2) Punching balloons. The Sylvester Stallone of balloons.

3) Random chotskies and party favors from Party City. I really can’t stand this crap – worthless plastic trinkets from China; total garbage. Avoid it if you can, but if you need an easy way out, it’s cheap, kids 4-7 love it, and it’s better for them than candy.

4) Balls. Geometry’s perfect shape. Just get a bucket full of balls, all sizes (bouncy balls, tennis balls, golf balls, ping-pong balls, beach balls and marbles, to name a few).

5) Balsa-wood planes. These are fun, cheap, and full of wonder about the physical world.

6) Glow-sticks. They’re going to want to snap these and have some fun right on the spot.

7) Beef jerky. My wife and kids vote this one down in favor of roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, which are also a great choice. Get the kids hooked on healthy, delicious snacks that don’t destroy your body’s organs and systems.

8) Run a neighborhood raffle. Each visitor pulls a ticket, and the next day pick a number (or numbers) out of a hat. Prizes include $20 (or whatever you would have spent on candy) plus household games and toys your kids have outgrown or are tired of. If you don’t want the hassle of holding a subsequent get-together, display the winning number beside your door, and each kid that picks it gets a buck. If you’re budget is $20, and the winning number is six, just put 20 sixes in your basket (and a bunch of other numbers). Plenty of variation on this one. Your house, your odds!

These are a starting point, but get creative and think of some more, then go ahead and add them as suggestions in the comments field.

What about all the treats your kids bring home? In our house, this is a negotiation. I make a cash offer (or use points), and wind up buying most of their candy (except for a few pieces) at a price point we are both comfortable with.

Between school lunches, not to mention sugary holidays like Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day, plus another inevitable birthday party every week, kids get way too many sweets. The result is often a lifetime of poor health, failing, scrambled body systems, and rotten teeth. When it starts this early, the responsibility lies with us as parents. We can play the victim and blame society, or fix the problem.

At BadDaddy, we fix things (or blame ourselves). This one’s easy, and what better time to start than Halloween. So go ahead and be the change you want to see.

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POTUS, Politics, and Parenting

According to, the American Dream is on life support. Our biggest fear as parents is that our kids won’t get the opportunities to reach their true potential. They will scrape by, crippled with debt, unable to find meaningful, rewarding careers, left behind in flyover America by a cut-throat, globalized economy and an out-of-touch electorate. Broke, destitute and totally unfulfilled, they’ll live in our basement at 40 if we’re lucky, and we’ll share a refrigerator box under a bridge if not.

“Parents are afraid their children won’t have an easy go of it because they aren’t having an easy go of it. Many are struggling to make ends meet”, says author Pamela Paul (Parenting, Inc).

After five centuries of steady progress, ours is the first generation whose standard of living is below that of our parents. Projecting that decline to our children is a major source of parental anxiety.

Is this fear rational? Absolutely.

This trend has been in place in America since the early 1970s, with intermediate peaks and troughs on a downward slope. The reasons are many (I’ve floated a couple about debt and paper money), and while they may debatable, there is no arguing that it’s gotten harder to provide financial security, even with two spouses working.

I remember the childhood homes of many friends in suburban Connecticut; few as parents today offer anything comparable. My neighborhood in Austin, TX was built by young families thirty years ago, but is mostly empty-nesters now, as couples with young children can’t afford to buy in.

What can we do today to prevent this path of decay for our kids? How can we set them up for success? Are doing everything we can?

Take Control of the Narrative

It all starts in our heads, with the stories we tell ourselves, and our children (who will adopt our stories). We can begin by freeing ourselves of the anxiety of victimhood.

Sure, we can log into Facebook and blame Donald Trump, the Clintons, Barrack Obama, or George W. Bush, pointing to the “A Team” that the other side trots out as better suited to save. We can hitch our families’ hopes and dreams to the grand plans of Bernie Sanders, Chris Christie, or Elizabeth Warren. If only “our guy” got the job as POTUS, everything would be okay. Flowers and unicorns, right?

If the last 20 years taught us anything, it’s that your political party will not save us. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and shame on me.

Ridding yourself this fantasy is liberating, like smashing down a door with a sledgehammer, hitting a walk-off grand slam, or chewing a stick of Juicy Fruit in a 1980’s TV commercial.

The presidential race has become a dog-and-pony show, infested with sociopaths and pampered circus clowns who know little other than how to regurgitate cheap soundbites for television cameras. Their reign of mindboggling incompetence is unblemished by success of any kind in decades.

Turn it off, and tune it out. Unless you are truly inspired, don’t even waste your time at the voting booth. Your civic duty as a parent is not to get dragged down into the dirt with the pigs. Not voting when there are no worthy candidates is a vote itself. Starve the beast until it comes up with more thoughtful, prudent arguments, and a vision for the future informed by the examples of history. Everything else is mere pandering.

There is no longer any meaningful distinction between the mainstream republican and democratic parties, just two sides to the same debased coin minted by lobbyists. Don’t give them the satisfaction of “taking sides”, nor let them bait you into fabricated arguments designed to divide and distract while they empty the coffers.

The world is not black and white, nor should it be seen that way in anything other than a caricature. It’s brown, blue, gray and green, with vibrant color, turmoil, and wonder. We live in a great country, on a beautiful planet, relatively speaking (ever been to Mars?), despite not because of the major political parties and their string of blunders.

Remember the black-and-white-cookie episode on Seinfeld? Were we not further along in a post-racial America than one would assume when turning on the TV today? Why? Is it because the powerbase prefers we point fingers at each other rather than understand what’s really going on behind the curtain?

Our Future is Yours and Mine

Social Security and Medicare will not be there for your family, so unshackle yourself the chains of giving a damn. They are massively insolvent (i.e. bankrupt). Spilled milk.

Grandiose government benefit programs like these are giant Ponzi-schemes, the short-term products of favorable demographics, vote-garnering politicians, and a timely bonanza of fossil-fuel extraction (three-hundred million years of life on earth carbonized underground, converted to instant but fleeting economic activity). Sure, we’d love to have these programs forever, but the accounting doesn’t work.

We can means-adjust them and/or phase them out, not because we want to, but have no choice, and we’re adult enough to understand the difference. We’ll have to scale back the global military empire too. There isn’t any arguing with math equations.

Relish the Now

Seize the opportunity afforded by the information-age. Never has knowledge and know-how been so easy for the individual to obtain. Our children can achieve mastery on so many subjects from the comfort of home and at no marginal cost. They can start early, building skillsets in areas they love with total freedom to explore. What sets apart the great ones isn’t their formal education or inheritance, but an unrelenting thirst for knowledge and willingness to work. Politics and presidents be damned.

Yes, much of the world is catching up to America’s living standards. The arbitrage afforded by the first-mover-advantage combined with favorable consequences of WWII (the US dictated monetary terms and had the only manufacturing base not left in a smoking pile of rubble) is closing, but this was inevitable.

Other countries are simply following our early model of liberty (not perfect here, nor anywhere, and I am not suggesting either). But, that means opportunities are opening all over the world for your kids. They need not be chained to the shuttered factory in Detroit. Let Detroit and America reward the risk and ingenuity for entrepreneurs to invest and re-purpose those factories. Let people and capital go where they’re treated best. We can embrace and encourage the inevitable feedback loop called progress, and the more quickly we do, the more quickly the pendulum swings back to our shores.

And let’s be clear: it’s not really a bonehead politician’s fault any more than his populace, always proceeding in the affirmative when presented with the flimsy prospect of getting something for nothing, pushing invoices ever further into the future. Things move in cycles, and it’s time to pay the piper, re-learning some important lessons of history.

Let’s learn quickly, and without war, and tune out the charlatans that know little the laws of prosperity and more the platitudes of snake oil salesman, scapegoating, and empty promises. People go mad in herds and often at the behest of sociopathic storytellers, and only come to their senses one at a time.

So, one at a time, open your eyes, and tune out the propoganda. Put your kid on your shoulders, go to a ball game with your neighbor, then pop a stick of Juicy Fruit on Monday morning and take a bite out of the global (or local) economy. Sell something to somebody, back it with a guarantee, and do it with a smile.

Liberate yourself of the lie that you must identify with a finger-pointing political party. Collaboration is what the country and your children need most right now. So get your ski’s shined up, and grab a stick of Juicy Fruit…(sorry I love that commercial).

PS: Join our email list to get unique, fresh, actionable parenting and provider insights that dispel conventional claptrap. No ads, no spam, and no bull. Just straight-talk with a touch of humor for free-thinking parents, every 2-4 weeks, right to your InBox.