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Thursday
Apr032014

Should I Let My Kids Name Our New Dog?

My wife and I are having a slightly hard time figuring out a name for our new dog. The fawn boxer you see here is coming home to join our clan the day before Easter and we’re haven’t a heck of a time naming him.

One of the problems is that he is indeed a boy. We had already picked a pretty good girl name, Lucy, but when it came to pick out our new canine from the litter it was this guy who won me over.

Now we're stuck picking a name and the kids aren't helping.

The prevailing sentiment from my son is the name Dukey, named after the dog from the horrendous cartoon Johnny Test. My wife really likes the name, spelling it Dookie after the famed Green Day album.

I'm not too pleased with naming the little guy after poop myself.

We named our nine-year-old boxer Roxy which is the most common boxer name on earth. Duke would be the most common name for a boy that’s for sure.

On the drive back from picking him out I thought of Barney because the brown coat and black face remind me of an old cop show where the grizzled detective's only friend is a sad-faced dog. Hence, Barney Miller (not sure if he had a dog on the show but Jim Rockford wasn't going to work).

We also like/d How I Met Your Mother so he'd be a Barney Stinson too.

But my wife just associates the name Barney with the purple dinosaur.

Then she suggested Mookie, as in Mookie Blaylock. Pearl Jam's original name. That I like.

The kids don't get it though and are still split between Dookie and Barney. Which way do we go?

If we disregard the kids’ feelings on this – they're six and soon-to-be five – will it be a mistake since it will be their "childhood" dog?

Tuesday
Feb252014

Dear Time, Stop Flying… My Son Just Turned Six 

Today is Carter's sixth birthday. Another milestone for him, another moment for my mind to slowly acclimate to the idea that we’ve raised a child to this point with little scarring.

The picture on the left above is from when he was sixteen months old. Baby photos to me don't really show the maturation quite as much as this image. The shot on the right is from last month. It's not a portrait but I think shows Carter focusing like in the other photo. He's just focusing on math workbooks now instead of whatever toy we were holding to get him to sit still for the photographer.

Tonight, it is on to California Pizza Kitchen for his favorite mac n' cheese and family celebration and Friday is his big bash with buddies playing Skylanders. Hopefully, he remembers it all fondly. Me, I'm getting sappy just writing this short post.

Thursday
Feb202014

How Social Media Connects 20 Years of My Life

The other night a college friend of mine had a major career milestone. Maybe you saw it when U2 played on the Tonight Show on Monday. My friend books the bands on the show and the Late Show before that. He lined up Pearl Jam week too — our mutual heroes — and many more.

I probably haven't talked to him in person in a dozen years. But how do I know about this huge milestone for him, his job, his career? Twitter, where I follow him and converse from time to time.

Seeing that tweet the other day — teamed to my wife planning her 20-year high school reunion (mine is coming too) — got me thinking about how social networks have kept me in touch with people I would otherwise have let slip away. Do I call any of these people on the phone? No. Do I know about their jobs and families as well as their own families? Yes. And over the past few years these are people I make sure to meet with when I'm on the road in L.A. or NYC or Detroit.

The array of people I've been lucky enough to know is quite remarkable when you look at it with a wide-angle lens.

One high school buddy and I always get together when his engineering job brings him to Chicago. And yes, via Facebook I see his mundane family moments as well as the major challenges like dealing with Hurricane Sandy ravaging his home.

Friends from college I didn't talk to since graduation I only connected with through Facebook in the past few years. Two live in L.A. One works in reality TV and the other makes movie trailers. I'm not making that up.

My best friend from college — he markets some of the most recognizable beverages in the U.S. —  lives the closest to me yet we rarely see each other (three kids between us keep us busy) but we're always communicating via the Facebook.

One of the smartest people I've met in the past twenty years was at my first post-college job at the Palm Beach Post. He led the Internet charge at the time and now teaches to a whole new generation at Syracuse’s Newhouse School. I know all about his own kids and the work he does…but again, haven’t seen him in nearly 12 years.

One of our mutual friends is still in Florida, living the dream of Tiki idolatry and he even got married recently. I never would have known of either if not for his social updates.

He was someone who got me into the music scene in Florida where I met terrifically talented people. One has a new band and music I follow on Twitter and Facebook and when he comes to town the wife and I try to catch the show and chat afterwards before having to head home to the sitter. It's pretty hard to keep up with him other than his public social interactions. But I always know when he's coming to town...

I've met some other interesting musicians over the years forming loose bonds here and there, but no facetime for a very long time. One had some of the biggest hits of the '90s and the other, one of the most underrated of the past 20 years. But from time to time I cross paths with both on Twitter talking about fatherhood or just a good song I heard.

When I moved into covering the automotive industry I met a whole new crop of scoundrels kindred souls. I competed against and worked with some for a brief time during my blog days and they have moved on too, succeeding with online video and sponsored content.

A photographer who once worked with me now travels everywhere, from Iceland (above) to Pebble Beach posting about both work and his two boys with the same delight.

I meet lots of interesting people in PR and they move quite a bit. One of the brightest went from one Detroit heavyweight to another and I read some of the most interesting social media news via his posts. And the last time I was in Detroit we made sure to meet for drinks.

Then there are the other people I’ve met who are dads so similar to me in Chicago. There's a younger auto scribe who moved across the country but I followed his first days of fatherhood on Facebook. The updates are eerily similar to what I went through with Carter.   

Another is a dad who runs the best Mini Cooper blog on the net. He lives nearby with similarly aged kids but we get most of our facetime on drive events or auto shows hundreds of miles from home.

Just a few blocks away lives another car-obsessed dad with kids similar ages to mine but we talk mostly via Twitter and sometimes I give him a ride to work in a test car...after a couple of Twitter messages.

There are others; a local firefighter, a high school friend fighting crime as a D.A., a former autowriter now working on veteran issues. Mostly seen through social filters.

This post isn’t to shout "check out all my amazing friends." This is a catalog of how I've been able to keep track of these intriguing lives I've been lucky enough to cross paths with over the past 20 years. Yes, sometimes the everyday monotony of updates gets tiresome, but there are plenty of milestones I'm glad I don't miss. 

Note: I only added links to public accounts on Twitter or Instagram, so my Facebook friends remain a bit more private. 

Friday
Jan172014

Dad Went To The Detroit Auto Show And All He Got Was This Photo Gallery

My kids were pretty low key about me leaving to cover the Detroit auto show this year. I was gone a good three-plus days, usually an amount of time where they freak out when I leave. But not this time.

Luckily when I got home they were overly clingy and seemed to genuinely be happy to see me. I think the last trip I returned from they didn't look away from the cartoon they were watching when I walked in the door.

Anyway, I was going to do a long post on all the cars I saw there but I am tapped out on words so go check out my photo gallery from the show floor and some other random shots.

2014 Detroit Auto Show Photo Gallery

Sunday
Jan122014

A Tale of Two Ice Skaters

Growing up in Florida I didn't have much exposure to ice skating. There were a few rinks within driving distance but not really close and not a place kids typically went for fun.

Raising my children in the Chicago suburbs means there is a lot more exposure to cold, cold weather, hockey and it seems ice rinks.

One of our friends was nice enough to offer to give Carter and Evie their first ice skating lesson. She took the two as well as two other children onto the ice after some pre-skating tips: they were going to fall, this is how you fall the right way, this is how you get up the right way, this is how you "march" on your skates and this is how you balance.

The kids all understood the instructions but the next 30 or so minutes played out very differently. Both Carter and Evie had the same number of falls and successes but after a good 15 minutes Carter was on a bleacher next to me following a crying fit on the ice. Another 20 minutes later Evie didn't want to leave the ice.

She wants to take lessons and skate, skate, skate. Carter was tight-lipped about his skating future but said later in the day that he would try 10 more lessons. That's compared to "three years" of lessons for Evie but still pretty good to hear after how upset he was just hours before.

I don't blame Carter. The first time I tried to ice skate around the age of 13 I fell and hit my knee and was done. I mean done. He fell a few dozen more times than I did before being overwhelmed and is likely going to try it again. I'm not going back on the ice I tell you.

Also, watching your kids fall and bite it on the ice without being there to help them up is brutal.