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Dad for Beginners

Amateurism at its best

thankful for your children

June 22, 2017
by Creed
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Raising Chickens: A Step-By-Step Guide in Learning How to be Thankful for Your Children

You should be thankful for your children. Children are a gift. If a sufficient amount of time passes in your life as a parent and you still do not feel this way, get yourself some chickens. This isn’t a metaphor. If you really want to experience a new level of thankfulness for your children, raise chickens.

Chickens are the animal equivalent of humans in infancy for their entire lives. Chickens combine all the worst features of human babies with none of the best. A chicken remains a relatively small, helpless, unintelligent, and irritating creature who produces an inordinately high volume of daily fecal matter for their entire lives. Babies only feature these traits for about a year or two.

thankful for your children

Sure it’s cute now. Give it time.

No matter how much care or even love you give to a chicken, it will continually walk right over you in a very literal sense. In much the same way a disobedient toddler exercises his or her will of whimsy at all costs, a chicken will never gain the ability to follow direction, listen, or adjust its behavior to become consistent with your expectation. A child will experience enough developmental growth to accomplish the task of active listening and comprehension by around the age of three or four.

Where the ‘raising chickens’ argument gets vague is in the real-time production of valuable goods. A mature hen produces an egg on average about every other day. This is a tangible commodity—a usable and renewable source of foodstuffs and/or currency should you choose to sell the eggs. A child does not produce material goods. In fact children do very much the opposite. They consume more and more as they age. In this sense, a chicken is more useful, right? Even a well-developed and cognitively advanced four-year-old cannot operate a rototiller. At this point you may be thinking, when exactly do kids become useful?

Yet in the ceaseless quest to be more thankful for your children, the totality of childhood versus the totality of chickenhood is a more suitable lens by which to do this. Chickens are at their absolute cutest when they are their smallest. As they grow they become more and more high maintenance and increasingly ugly. This is basically the inverse of a child.

thankful for your children

Society trains us to believe that the creature on the left is actually the more irritating form of life. Fake news.

A child, by most accounts, leaves the womb resembling something between Winston Churchill and a potato. As children age, they slowly reign in their capricious whimsy as they become cuter, move lovable, and more like real humans. While they will never produce predictable commodities like a chicken, they grow in a way that’s admirable and is something you as the parent can take pride in.

The pride you feel as a parent is your reward for a job well done.

There is no pride in raising chickens. Only the same old frustration you feel with an infant. Day. After. Day.

Be thankful for your children. They are a gift— a gift that never keeps giving. Watching a child grow, develop, and become a tiny human is perhaps the most lucrative commodity we have. If you still don’t agree, buy yourself some chickens and experience what it means to care for a being that never moves beyond the average capability of a three-month-old.

stress relief

June 11, 2017
by Creed
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Rage, Golf, and Functional Alcoholism: Stress Relief in 18 Holes or Fewer

There is no sport that embodies the principles of healthy rage and functional alcoholism quite like golf. A far cry from real sports like martial arts, football, or even speed chess, golf is a leisurely gentleman’s game enjoyed for centuries by some of the finest persons history has ever produced. Golf also serves as a productive outlet for stress relief. Cherish the history of this noble game while enjoying the camaraderie of friends and blowing off some steam.

Despite its murky status as an actual ‘sport,’ golf is a fun and effective way to get some stress relief while embracing that which you do best, drink alcohol. Golf is a sport that not only has virtually no physical prerequisites for participating but permits and even condones the consumption of intoxicants while playing.

Instead of concentrating your down time on running, weight lifting, and healthy eating to better excel at the game like you would with other sports, with golf, you can continue your daily routine of excessive drinking and incessant bitching and feel safe in knowing that your unhealthy and irritating habits will only serve to improve your overall experience on the links.

Even professional golfers—people who actually get paid to strike a tiny ball repeatedly with a crooked stick—are willing to publically enable their own vices during work hours simply because it’s totally accepted.

John Daly made a career out of being a slovenly miscreant who smoked and drank while he played and while his game may have suffered at times due to his sloth, his celebrity never faded—in fact only grew with each professional abomination. Daly now resides on the PGA Champions Tour (the old dudes) where he not only continues to smoke and drink at suicidal levels, but continues to drive an annual salary upwards of seven figures.

For amateur golfers, ingesting intoxicants during a round of golf is virtually mandated. Courses and country clubs operate entire departments whose sole purpose is to drive around and make sure you stay inebriated (in the name of stress relief). Moreover, most country clubs and a good percentage of public courses require golfers to utilize golf carts in order to speed up the pace of play. A golf course is literally the only place where drinking and driving is not only accepted, but promoted.

Golf is a game of patience, diligence, and tolerance. It is an elaborate symphony of self-control coupled with a balanced mental state. In the event that anything goes sideways, however, you always have access to no fewer than twelve metal sticks with heavy, crooked ends to bash into the various things surrounding you at any given time. Swinging narrow sticks into inanimate objects at a high velocity is a proven and undying method of stress relief.

Because golf takes place in open space, away from large crowds, and generally without the oversight of any authority, you can be literally as violent as you want and it’s typically not only accepted, but encouraged. Your fellow golfers will look on with a sly grin as you hurl another pitching wedge into the trunk of a tree. Smiling and joking, you will all continue up to the green to finish out the hole, laughing together about how you left yet another innocent birch mangled beyond repair.

Few amateur golfers have gone an entire round without throwing a club into a lake, ripping the branches off a tree, chucking a fellow player’s golf bag into a sand trap, or intentionally driving a ball over the fence and into oncoming traffic. Rage is king in golf and even infractions that could easily be considered assault with a deadly weapon in the public sphere are fondly admired inside the confines of the course. At a golf course, this is stress relief at it’s finest, even if it would technically be considered criminal activity in any other venue.

An average round of 18-hole golf takes between four and six hours to complete. With consistent alcohol consumption combined with the general frustration created by repeatedly failing to put a little ball in a cup buried atop a well-manicured field of green, there are countless opportunities to spiral into a drunken hail storm of unbridled violence. A state of reckless, alcohol-fueled terrorism that’s wholly condoned at all levels of the game.

Golf is perhaps one of the most effective ways to blow off steam and get some real relaxation. For the reasonable fee of around $50 – $100 for a round, you can get drunk and destroy public property without having to worry about inconveniences like financial reparations or arrest that would certainly befall you if you did these things in, say, Walmart.

Find your center on the links. There is no limit to the amount of tipsy and aggressive stress relief you can obtain at a golf course. Throw back eight or twelve cold ones and send a line drive through a random stranger’s sliding glass door. They deserve it for living right next to a golf course and you’ll feel better. Everyone wins.

why questions of a child

June 5, 2017
by Creed
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But Why, Daddy?: Using the Why Questions of a Child to Unearth Life’s Mysteries

Children like to know why. Why this, why that, why everything…literally everything. This nonstop hailstorm of why questions can be irritating and time-consuming. The why questions of a child, however, are simply inevitable. All young children between the ages of about three and six want to know why. They make that quite evident day after day.

Surely there is a limit to what most parents are capable of answering. None of us are experts in everything and all of us have a limit to what we can tolerate.

But addressing the ‘why’ bombardment willingly and honestly can be of great benefit to both parent and child. Head over to Red Tricycle where I’m spinning my wheels about children and their incessant why questions.

How Answering My Son’s (nonstop) “Why’s” Helped Us Both

why questions of a child

For more featured writing including posts at Red Tricycle and others, visited the Featured Writing heading from the home page. You can follow this post and others from the dadforbeginners.com social media platforms. Links available on the home page.

 

for fuck's sake

June 4, 2017
by Creed
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For Fuck’s Sake

Fuck me!” Mary Ann shouted in a fury of rage.

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” Tom shouted.

She was fucking fed up and frustrated as fuck. Her fucking husband, Tom, couldn’t get it though his thick fucking head that there was simply no street parking left.

“You’ve driven down this block like four fucking times already,” Mary Ann yelled.

“Fuck this,” Tom muttered. “I’ll just pay the fucking valet.”

“It’s already eight fucking thirty,” Mary Ann chided. “We’re fucking late again, you dumb fuck.”

Tom drove their family fucking station wagon around a corner towards the valet.

“Well fuck me running,” Tom smiled with glee, spotting a parking spot off in the distance beside a row of tents occupied by a bunch of fucking homeless guys.

“Don’t you dare park my car next to those vagrant fucks,” Mary Ann warned.

“They’re all fucked up anyway,” Tom argued persuasively, pointing to the abundance of empty liquor bottles strewn about all over the fucking place. “They won’t fuck with the car.”

“Fuck it,” Mary Ann conceded.

Tom parked the car and he and Mary Ann got out.

“Where the fuck are we?” Mary Ann asked.

“The restaurant is just up the hill,” Tom said.

“Are you fucking with me?” Mary Ann asked in shock. “I have to walk up this fucking hill in these fucking heels?”

“Stop fucking around,” Tom retorted. “Let’s go.”

“Fuck you!” Mary Ann shot back, glaring at Tom.

“You talk too fucking much,” Tom replied casually. “Let’s go.”

Mary and Tom walked up a short hill towards the restaurant.

“See? That wasn’t too fucking far,” Tom stated pretentiously as they arrived at the restaurant.

“Ok, you were fucking right,” Mary Ann agreed through a stern gaze.

“Abso-fucking-lutely,” Tom gloated, grinning from ear to ear.

Mary Ann and Tom approached the host podium as they entered the restaurant.

“Greetings,” welcomed the hostess warmly, “do you have reservations?”

“Fuck no,” Tom replied. “Table for two, please.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the hostess replied, “we all fully booked this evening.”

“What the fuck?” Tom replied angrily.

“I’m sorry,” the hostess stated again.

“Fully booked on a weekday?” Tom asked incredulously. “Holy fuck!”

“What a fuck up,” Mary Ann said, turning her head in anger to one side.

“I’m sorry,” apologized the hostess.

“It’s not your fault, dear,” Mary Ann consoled her, “he’s a fucking tool bag.”

“Fuck if I knew,” Tom asserted in an attempt to defend his poor fucking planning.

Mary Ann and Tom walked away from the restaurant, both hungry as fuck and dejected over the lack of available tables.

“Why the fuck didn’t you make a reservation, you fuck stick?” Mary Ann scolded.

“I fucked up,” Tom said sheepishly. “Who the fuck would think they’d be sold out on a fucking Tuesday?”

“For fuck’s sake,” Mary vented. “Total cluster fuck.”

Tom and Mary Ann walked back down the hill towards their car in silence.

“It’s fucking dark already,” Mary Ann groaned. “Let’s just go the fuck home.”

“I fucking got it!” Tom rang out as they approached the car.

“Don’t fuck with me,” Mary Ann said.

Tom and Mary Ann got in the car and Tom began driving.

“Where the fuck are we going?” Mary Ann asked quizzically.

“Calm the fuck down,” Tom replied. “I have a new fucking plan.”

Tom drove inland towards the country, stopping in a small enclave just outside a park overlooking the hills in the distance. There wasn’t a city light in sight and neither of them had seen a fucking car for miles.

“What the fuck is this?” Mary Ann asked.

“I think it’s fucking romantic,” Tom replied, spreading a blanket across the grass.

“We’re in the middle of fucking nowhere,” Mary Ann complained. “Bumfuck Egypt is a romantic place for you?”

“Lie the fuck down,” Tom gestured lovingly towards the blanket.

Mary Ann sat down beside Tom on the blanket and the two of them slowly laid down together, cuddling under the brilliance of the night sky.

“Fuck,” Mary Ann whispered softly.

“What?” Tom asked.

Mary Ann sighed, “this is fucking romantic as fuck. I’m really fucking sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Tom replied under his breath, reaching an arm beneath the small of Mary Ann’s back.

“Let’s fuck,” Mary Ann seductively whispered.

“Fuck yes,” Tom agreed.

Under the moonlit sky, Tom fucked Mary Ann on the blanket. Neither of them gave a fuck about the restaurant debacle. Blissfully, they fucked like bunnies.

“You’re so fucking beautiful,” Tom said sincerely, glancing into Mary Ann’s gorgeous fucking eyes.

“I fucking love you,” Mary Ann gasped through exasperated fuck moans.

“I fucking love you too,” Tom replied.

As if fucked by the fickle finger of fate, Tom and Mary Ann’s anger at the failed date night melted away and their eyes met as their bodies fucked in harmony.

Beneath the vain queen Cassiopeia, Tom and Mary Ann gave no fucks. And gave all the fucks. And all the fucks were theirs and theirs alone.

snapchat

May 28, 2017
by Creed
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Dumpster Fire: Social Media and Adults, pt. 3 – Instagram

In the world of social media and adults, Instagram represents evolutionary regression. Perhaps most unfortunately, this photo-based application and its usage among the adult population is relatively consistent with how adults have received and adapted to print culture and media trends. In a similar way to how social life in the physical world has changed over time, social media in the digital realm has gone much the same direction. Instagram is a perfect example of the shallow and decreasing length of the adult attention span and the willingness to seek, create, and bestow approval in strictly visual and materialistic ways.

Instagram, similarly to Facebook, is purely about self-gratification. Where Instagram differs from Facebook is in the depth of material. While one can forego the vanity of Facebook in search of tangible meaning, that can simply not be achieved on Instagram.

The entirety of the app is superficial. This is the sole agenda of almost every Instagram user. While there are a good many users who legitimately try to propagate things of intrinsic value like photos of the natural world, mind-bending illusions, philosophical or inspiration quotes, poetry, and self-help, the vast majority of users sharing photos and the occasional video are doing it only for their own validation. In sort of a “Facebook photo album on human growth hormone” phenomenon, Instagram has captured our ability to be narcissistic and pole-vaulted it into another stratosphere.

The filter is something that first became popular with Instagram users. By selecting a predetermined color/effect overlay, users could alter the reality of a picture to make it more appealing to a certain context. As an example, black/white, grayscale, and sepia tones can add a mystique of age, wear, or mystery to an image. While this seems like a fun way to project your definition of reality in order to elicit a desired response i.e. somber, rugged, overly emotional, etc., Instagram users overwhelming use these filters to adjust their physical appearance.

By filtering the face, one can quickly and effectively remove age, blemishes, and unwanted physical characteristics and therefore everyone is beautiful all the time. That’s great, right? Magazine and movies have been doing this for years. Television actors, even sports and network news broadcasters have make-up artists that enhance their appearance. So why not? Why not present your best self?

The reason this is objectionable is because virtually everyone filtering themselves is filtering themselves for no other reason than meeting the perceived approval of hundreds of thousands of internet strangers for apparently no reason whatsoever. By filtering oneself into beauty and thus accruing hundreds and hundreds of ‘hearts’ on your picture, you feel validated, you feel beautiful, you feel better. Don’t worry that you accidentally filtered off half your nose and didn’t notice. It’s cool. The rest of you looks great, albeit not at all representative of what you actually look like.

Magazine and television are forced to filter and airbrush their employees to meet the demands of a shallow and superficial subculture which drives sales. Random individuals filtering themselves on Instagram are doing it purely for their own validation by presenting a false image of themselves to feel good about, and then ultimately returning to their normal appearance in everyday life where they are forced to live without their filtered reality where perhaps they don’t receive regular validation from total strangers.

Where Instagram has gone sideways is in the way adults use it. It’s no secret that most adults would probably agree that Instagram is a game. It’s an app designed for the younger demographic to play with photos and have fun in much the same way magazines like Teen Vogue and whatnot used to operate. However what’s peculiar is that the younger segment of society always did and still does use the app in this way. As an accessory.

Adults, however, have morphed it into yet another tool for vainglory and validation. By filtering not only themselves but their family photos and sharing them in a public sphere using hashtags to draw increased viewership, adults seek to market their lifestyles as perfect and desirable to other adults for no other reason than to garner approval. In a similar vein to the feigned nostalgia Facebook timelines offer, Instagram does it in a far more in-your-face and superficial way because there’s no content or context. It’s just pictures. Instagram is essentially akin to carrying around those old, large family photo albums with you while you run errands so you can show complete strangers how your life is better than theirs.

It promotes a sense of personal value based on what random people in the digital world deem worthy of a heart.

Instagram has real functions. While the app generally isn’t considered a business or marketing tool in the ways other social apps are, it does have a capitalist consumer presence which at least makes it viable for some sector of the population. That sector, however, is exponentially small when compared to other social media applications. In a general sense, Instagram is homemade lifestyle porn and adults are just hoping, pleading, for internet strangers to masturbate to them.

Dumpster Fire, pt. 1

Dumpster Fire, pt. 2 

spanking

May 19, 2017
by Creed
0 comments

Why Spanking Ruined My Life

My parents never spanked me as a child. In fact they never hit me at all. I think this is where my dysfunction began. In the absence of spanking.

I was punished, albeit, benignly. Spanking wasn’t in my parent’s handbook of discipline. I was sent to my room or put in the corner or even occasionally prohibited from seeing my friends for a few days—grounded—they called it. But I was never hit. And that is wrong.

As a functional adult, I often struggle with how to manifest my power without violence. In my professional management position, I routinely counsel subordinate employees through discussion and logical understanding supplemented with suggestive coaching or even leading by example. I simply cannot bring a subordinate employee into my office and beat the shit out of them as a display of both my power and disapproval for whatever unacceptable action they just committed. For my inability to physically dominate and humiliate otherwise innocent humans in the workplace, I blame my parents.

When my 4-year-old son misbehaves, I often find myself trying to learn why he has misbehaved instead of spanking him. For perhaps it is my fault—my poor parenting—that caused this. At times I’ll even stoop to unimaginable lows and give him a hug, trying to console him with loving touch instead of physical violence and degradation. For my unwillingness to punish my son with physical aggression, I blame my parents.

Sometimes my wife and I argue. Sometimes we outright fight. But that’s the nature of long-term monogamy, right? Tensions build but ultimately the greater good shines through. I find it pretty simple to argue with my wife. I even get irrationally mad at times, particularly when she is right and I am wrong. But I just can’t bring myself to hit her. I cannot lay hands violently on a woman, especially one whom I love. For my inability to solve my marital conflicts with violence, I blame my parents.

I’ve been known to dabble in the illicit substances. As a young man I was wrapped up pretty deeply in drug use and even to this day as a man I’ll go through periods of excessive alcohol consumption. But my rationale and ultimately, my self-conceived justifications for these less-than-desirable personality traits are on me. If only my parents had beat me for my wrongdoings as a child I would have an eternal set of alibis for my disgusting habits. If only my parents had hit me, I’d never have had to learn about accountability. Because I have to be accountable for my mistakes, no matter how much I might resist it at times, I blame my parents.

I dropped out of college. Once. I picked up the pieces of my shattered education, regrouped, and went on the graduate with honors. Unfortunately, my collegiate failures were due to my addiction and inability to get my priorities together. My teachers, professors, and associated educators never hit me. And that is truly sad. I had to own my failures as truly my own, regroup, and persevere. For the lack of physical abuse I took in school leading to mistakes that were wholly my own, I blame my educators and by proxy, my parents.

I’ve had some marital strife in my life. Who doesn’t? But my wife and I have typically been able to work together through any problems by admitting faults and amending mistakes. In these scenarios, I have to face my failures as a man. I can’t lean on the crutch of childhood abuse as a reason for my shortcomings as a man. For my inability to justify my marital vices by way of a violent childhood, I blame my parents.

This is where the problem lies for me. Spanking. I was never taught that physical violence solves problems. Because of my inability to exact physical violence on others by way of spanking, hitting, swatting, or punching, I am forced to use my mental faculties and love to understand and solve problems.

I have problems at work that I cannot bring myself to solve with violence. I have moments with my son that are perhaps deserving of punishment yet all I can do is love him. I have marital problems that I have to be accountable for and own. I have a personal history of poor health choices, poor life choices, and educational failures. I don’t get to blame any of this on my violent childhood. For all this, I have to be accountable. And for that I blame my parents.

baby clothes

May 7, 2017
by Creed
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How to be Fearless

Fear is a primal emotion. Everyone has been scared. Even in adulthood, everyone is scared of something. People try to couch their fears inside rationality—nest them in a space of solace—so as not to have to realize them. This doesn’t mean they are fearless, it means they are protecting themselves.

There is only one known way to be fearless — be a child.

Children are not inherently fearful. They don’t know how to be. Think about it. Think about what scares you as an adult and why it scares you.

Perhaps you’ve lost something—or someone. Perhaps you’ve been fired, or cheated on, or experienced a near-death event. Perhaps you’ve seen one too many Jason Voorhees movies. Whatever the case, something scares you. It is something you’re aware of—aware of enough to implement protections against it.

But as a child, most haven’t seen fear. Some have. Unfortunately there are always those that have been raised in an environment based on fear, even if unintentionally by the parents or guardians. For most children, however, they don’t know how to be fearful nor should they.

A child will jump off the countertop for fun, not realizing that he or she is risking the bone integrity of their ankles in doing so. A child will call a fat person fat, not understanding that the person may take offense to this, may feel shame, or may react in a retaliatory way. There are countless other examples.

Because most children haven’t experienced true fear, they will try virtually anything—say virtually anything—do virtually anything, until they experience an emotional repercussion.

This is the saddest part of all childhood. When a child becomes fearful.

We should be free to do or say or think whatever we want. We are, politically…but also we’re not. And we all know it. We know what scares us and it isn’t an arbitrary life form from a bad childhood memory based on a movie—like an alien or a murderer or a whale—it’s from a real-life event that manifested in an inherently disappointing way and the emotion, not the event itself is what scares us. It’s not a fear of a thing, it’s a fear of a feel.

It’s shame or remorse or guilt or anger or betrayal or something similar. That is what scares us—our emotional reaction to a stimulus, a reaction which we predict based on our experience.

Children don’t have this, they learn it.

All children will learn it. It is inevitable. Everyone is fearful in their own right in time. Just like children aren’t born as racists or misogynists, fear too is a learned behavior based on environment and emotional experience.

Young children are fearless. Learn from them while you can, because they grow up to be just like us. And that is something to actually fear.

smartphone

April 20, 2017
by Creed
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Using a Smartphone – a 3-year-old versus an 81-year-old

Watching a 3-year-old manipulate a smartphone or a like item such as an iPad is both an amazing and saddening experience. What took people like myself (I’m 31) months and even years to master, a 3-year-old raised with this technology can seemingly master it in a matter of months.

For people older than myself, like my parents, the task of operating an iPhone or iPad effectively took significantly longer. My own father, rapidly closing in on his mid-60s only recently purchased his first iPhone in the last year or so and although his proficiency has progressed nicely given his age, he’s been technologically savvy for most of the internet-era (he was an Al Gore fan, duh) and gained competency on the iPhone relatively fast. My mother, on the other hand, who is now just an eyelash shy of 60, has had a steeper learning curve with her iPhone and although she’s owned one longer than my father, she is just now coming into full-on mastery of the device after probably close to four years of ownership.

Recently my 81-year-old grandma purchased her first ever smartphone. After 81-years on earth, it was finally time to have a means of communication consistent with the century she’s living in. However, the learning curve for an 81-year-old with a new smartphone is approximately in the same range of the competency spectrum as a gorilla learning Cantonese or an inebriated man at open mic night exercising any type of realistic restraint. In short, it’s a steep curve…comparable to the one she probably walked, barefoot, uphill, both ways, during a blizzard.

By comparison, my 3-year-old son operating his iPad and my 81-year-old grandmother operating her new smartphone are not that far apart on the learning spectrum of modern technology. Although the rapidity by which one learns far outpaces the other, the current state of smartphone proficiency between the two is as close as it will ever come to being even, with the advantage tilting more each day in favor of the 3-year-old.

As a fun example of a particular niche of smartphone usage, please refer to the below text messages, one formulated by my 3-year-old while monkeying with the text function on my phone, and the other a legitimate message from my grandmother in response to some pictures I sent her. The resemblance is uncanny.

smartphone

Exhibit A: 3-year-old composes a text

smartphone

Exhibit B: 81-year-old composes a text

While they’ve both strung together some nice words, the 3-year-old actually typed more dictionary-legitimate words while the grandma typed a letter, a word, and a period, perhaps as an indication that the incoherent text message was complete. Autocorrect certainly factors in for the 3-year-old although he managed to slip in a ‘7’ which is lucky and the word ‘skin’ which is not at all creepy. The grandma, on the other hand, still in the infancy of her smartphone pilgrimage, is forgiven for her duo of messages consisting of just a letter, a word, and the punctuation symbol typically used to end a sentence.

There is little doubt that both will improve on this initial performance almost instantly, however it will be the 3-year-old, with his rapidly developing cognitive function, who grasps the finer points of iPhone usage more quickly. At this exact stage, however, their abilities with technology are remarkably similar.

As mentioned at the outset, there is a component of sadness in all this. While certainly a 3-year-old learning to use an iPhone will progress far more rapidly that an 81-year-old, they’ll forever be bound to the crutch of technology for executing even the most rudimentary functions of life. Even I as a 31-year-old can distinctly remember a time before the internet and still I struggle to complete literally any professional assignment without heavily leveraging technology. If the wifi in my office goes out, everyone may as well just go home, because no work will be done…literally none.

My grandma, by comparison, has lived the vast majority of her natural life executing both life and job functions without any such advantage. There is no utility in her learning to use an iPhone in what is likely the final decade of her life. Her incentive for proficiency in such a device is virtually nothing and is entirely based on novelty. For my young son, however, his future ability to communicate and perform meaningful learning or work will be hugely facilitated by his competence in searching, finding, learning, and recalculating data on a screen.

It makes one wonder what sensory experiences we unknowingly sacrifice every day simply due to our reliance on technology. Whatever it is, it’s only worse as each day passes. At least at this point my son still prefers the outdoors and physical interaction to his screen but at times even he, just three years into existence, needs a nudge and a reminder. And that in itself is quite unfortunate.

 

manager

April 12, 2017
by Creed
0 comments

Be Your Own Manager, pt. 2: The Role of Formal Education

The middle management class is enthralled with itself. No other rung of people on the spectrum of professionalism feel as proud and accomplished as the middle management demographic. A manager, however, is an easily replaceable and typically only moderately important position. There has become a strange prestige in being a manager that is attached to neither personal passion nor financial gain. Managers are, on average, abundantly clear about the stress level of their jobs and most are poorly compensated given their average tenure of experience and relative educational levels. So absurd this paradigm has become, that universities are now educating people specifically to become managers, as if being a manager garners any sort of financial gain or intrinsic value usually inherent in the tenets of education. This development runs in opposition to the traditional reasons people attend college, which is usually to follow their bliss or find a calling that benefits them handsomely in their wallets. Being a manager is not congruent to either quality of life or wealth, and yet strikingly so many people truly seem to want to earn managerial positions.

The saddest part in all this is that young people sincerely aspire to become managers. The culture of work relative to education has become so delusional that there are literally entire university programs orbiting the eventual dead-end careers of Human Resources Administration and Hospitality Management, among others.

If you take a step back and think about college, the typical attitude of a young person enrolled in a university takes on one of two mindsets: major in something you love or major in something that yields the largest potential future income. However, these management programs, as hugely popular as they are, don’t seem to meet either criteria. It is tough to believe that young people dream of being managers and truly hold this idea as a passion worth pursuing in college. Additionally, it is remarkable to think that anyone believes managers are handsomely compensated and are using this path as a route to wealth. The desire of young people to become part of the management sector is a paradox because it seemingly has nothing to do with passion or financial success.

Instead of pursuing an actual childhood dream – something like art, dance, or a particular sport – kids shift their focus into these management programs because they’ve been benignly steered away from creative enterprises based on the presumptuous phrase “you’ll never make a living doing that.” Perhaps this is when capitalism is at its most malicious – when it quietly coerces the next wave of young people into believing that management is a fun, exciting, and lucrative career path. In fact nothing can be further from the truth.

Yet somehow, the existing managerial class propagate this mentality through a cultural fascination with bragging about their inane and trivial employment status, using it as a benchmark by which they can silently compete with their colleagues, former coworkers, and friends. The entire concept of LinkedIn is built on this presupposition.

The secret that no one wants to tell these kids who aspire to become managers is that they’ll never be free from the title of manager no matter how high they advance. You’ll always have a boss and a subordinate. Each job you advance to, although distinctly different in some regard, will be eerily similar to each job you’ve held prior. You will take directions from above and pass them down. You will answer for the failures of your subordinates and have your own boss take the credit for any of your success. It’s predictably cyclical at every interval from an entry level salaried supervisor all the way up to the highest levels of a company.

Tragically, most people have also been successfully convinced that being an effective manager requires any education whatsoever. It doesn’t. Being a manager is rooted far more concretely in professional experience than it is in education. There is no intellect in management. There’s no need for it. So long as you can operate a myriad of computer programs, string together a semi-coherent typed sentence, perform the most basic forms of mathematics, and read, you can be a manager. The irony in this is that although university education has taken a turn towards offering a wider range of ‘management-centric’ degree paths, the businesses themselves are looking for experience, not education. In fact, the uneducated yet experienced manager is far more respected, capable, and effective than the freshly minted college grad with a business admin degree.

Very commonly these young kids straight out of college, brimming with positivity and college-certified management skills are quickly crushed beneath the more experienced managerial class around them. Believing that their education laid the foundation for excellent managing, they rapidly learn that the workplace the universities train for is not the workplace of the real world. They get discouraged quickly and quite often, quit.

Optimistic college grads routinely flounder when hired directly into management roles. The reason for this is because a given management culture of any business doesn’t operate on the principles of innovative collaboration in the common good of the company. It operates in a cyclically political nature of blame and cover-ups based on the needs of individual self-preservation. Advancement is less about ability and more about simply surviving longer than the guy sitting next to you. Negotiating the political space in any managerial job is as important, if not more so, than doing the actual work itself. College training does not account for this. In fact, being an immature high school-ish gossip constantly tangled in a web of your own lies prepares you far better for the professional sphere of management than any micro economics course ever will.

Because of this climate, often times the best managers are the ones who worked their way up from hourly positions. They are uneducated in the formal sense but they possess an astute knowledge of the business from the ground up and this gives them sufficient leverage to buy more time in learning how to be a manager. While their skills in turning a blank spreadsheet into a comprehensive pivot table may be nonexistent, their ability to acquire this knowledge is available and only limited by their own desire to learn.

By comparison, the college grad who can expertly rework a particular field of data into a functional spreadsheet is only doing so in the context of the spreadsheet, not in the context of the business and certainly not in the context of the interoffice politics of the business. By this logic, a student proficient in excel could do this work in any capacity if given the information. The difference between these two people is that the student has far less recourse for learning the basic functions of the business than the uneducated manager does in learning the basic functions of excel. Because “education” comes with an expected level of hubris, many educated “new” managers do not believe that learning the most basic functions of the business matters anyway.

Part 1: Be Your Own Manager

emotion

April 1, 2017
by Creed
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The Emotional Continuum of a Small Child

By far one of the most challenging aspects of having a child is adapting to the hail storm of emotions coming at you from every angle. There are tidal waves of emotions from the moment the baby is born and continuing throughout the rest of their life. The emotional reactions of children are often more extreme and intensified than those of adults because children cannot speak and articulate as well and are also experiencing everything for the first time. The level of tolerance and understanding a new parent must possess in emotional situations is the highest it will ever be, as the emotional outbursts of children are like nothing else in existence.

The first and most frequently occurring emotion to be prepared for is rage. The reason this is top on the list is because at any point, literally any other type of emotion can cease abruptly and spiral into rage. For many men who have been married for any length of time, you’re already aware of how rage can manifest from virtually nothing at all. The same applies to kids. Because being a baby or toddler has vocal and physical limitations, frustration of any form can quickly transform into unbridled rage that is seemingly endless. There are limited ways to console rage as often times babies and toddlers become so enveloped in sheer anger that they practically stop breathing. Dealing with a fury of infant or toddler rage does not have an immediate solution. There will be, just like in any angry adult, a break in the fit and a cool down period. There is little the parent can do in these situations.

Another relatively frequent emotion that children experience is frustration. Frustration is different from rage because frustration reveals itself most often when a child cannot accomplish something. For example, small children are wiggly and mobile but lack the ability to walk. Once they gain the bipedalism, they are still awkward and lack the ability to run. Once they master the running, they’re still new to it and fall down a lot. All of these examples are intervals where frustration sets in. Again, similarly to rage there is little that a parent can do to cool down the frustration. The ability to be a calm and collected role model and not a total spaz is perhaps the most effective way to show your child that not only do you support them but that you’re impervious to the ambient effects of their frustration. By remaining so aloof that you’re barely even present you can help your child figure things out on their own which will better help them overcome frustration in the future and prepare them remarkably well for adulthood where no one helps anyone in a positive way ever.

A lesser realized but ever-present emotion children experience is fatigue. Fatigue is commonly interpreted as rage or frustration because the symptoms present as anger and annoyance when really the kid is just tired. Being a baby is exhausting work because coupled with all the brain development, physical growth, and material-based learning is just the daily task of being totally helpless and dependent on another form of life to keep you going. Babies and small children sleep a lot and missing these periods of sleep quickly leads to fatigue which is reinterpreted as something else by the parent due to the environment. For example, a shrill, screaming baby can be any of the aforementioned emotional states at any moment but the vast majority of the time they are just tired. If being an adult has taught you anything, you should be well aware that crying is ok and a nap cures almost anything. The same applies for babies. While later in life adults don’t typically consider fatigue to be an emotion because it’s really more of a physical state of exhaustion, fatigue in children is present so often that it needs to be treated with a proper emotional response. The trick is that children do not recognize how much they need and enjoy sleep and they fight it at every available juncture. The silver lining for parents is that children enjoy sleeping so much that once they’re actually asleep they will stay that way for hours on end and you too can do what you do best anyway, nap.

The final emotion that occurs with predictable frequency in children is joy. Babies and young children get elated extremely quickly much like dogs or inebriated college men at a karaoke. The elation escalates quickly, so quickly in fact, that children are often reduced to a series of voluminous yelps and squeaks that should be interpreted as overwhelming happiness. The attention span of a child lengthens in these instances until the stimulus causing their joy is totally used up and expired. A good example of this is a child’s natural attraction to fire. Young children find fire (i.e. burning candle, campfire) absolutely fascinating and will do nothing but shout joyously while watching the flames for literally hours on end until the fire extinguishes itself, even if that takes multiple days to occur. Pure, unencumbered happiness is probably the only childhood emotion that can veil all other emotions simultaneously. At times parents will be endlessly frustrated at how short a child’s general attention span is but when the stimulus of said attention sparks the joy emotion, a child will be engaged for hours on end.

The emotional experiences of children occur with greater unpredictability and are far more intense. However it is a reminder of how emotion is designed to be experienced because it is raw and unrefined. As children age they slowly learn how to better handle, disguise, and repress their emotions just like adults and while that provides some relief from the intensity of each emotional reaction, it’s actually the saddest change in all of childhood.

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