How is Getting a Tattoo Like Facebook?

by admin

Maybe I am still on the delerious side from this recent flu/strep/something or other that took me down like a cowboy in a calf roping competition.

Anchors: not just for sailors anymore!

But consider this: the growing popularity of tattoos.  Why?  Tattoos are external.  Tattoos are often art, though some use them to commemorate people or events.  But even commemorations need to be artistic at worst, creative and beautiful preferably.  It has been striking me more and more as I look around my community and see more and more ink.  I’ll be honest: I am surprised when I don’t see a tattoo on someone now.

I personally don’t know if I’ll ever get a tattoo, for a number of reasons.

  1. I have never seen an image of anything I liked so much I wanted it on permanent display on my body.
  2. The whole trend seems to smack of high school: “I want to demonstrate my uniqueness… by doing what everyone else is doing!”
  3. I am not convinced that tattoos will look good at all as people age.
  4. There is something in the Bible’s Old Testament about not marking up your skin.  Yeah, it’s in the Levitical Law so it not perfectly clear that it would apply to Christians today, but then there is the whole “God gave you the body you have: who are you to try improving on it?” argument too.

But what occurred to me the other day was a wholly new thought for me.  Tattoos represent our culture’s growing emphasis on the external.  External beauty.  Yes, I said growing.  I know for years, probably decades people have tried to change that, telling people they are beautiful just the way they are, beauty is in your heart, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and a million other platitudes, but those that say those things are losing.  External beauty is still getting more and more weight and taking up more and more of people’s lives and money.

Of course, part of the problem is Hollywood the entertainment industry media who are convinced that the news, movies, and TV shows won’t sell unless attractive actors are used – even as extras.  This means that everyone’s entertainment choices continually reinforce our own imperfections to measure up to the normal “beautiful” people.  We continue to see ourselves as ugly and invest more and more money to fix that.  Tattoos are a piece of that.

Tattoos cross gender lines.  Yes, some metrosexuals and the new spornosexuals  may get into some low level makeup, but the vast majority of makeup users are still women.  Women work to achieve fitness and “lose fat” but men generally work to build muscle – women (and may I presume gay men) don’t find ultramarathoners attractive.  Personal attractiveness is key – do everything you can to look perfect.   Tattoos are a part of that – now equally popular on both genders.  They can not only bring attention to your skin, get people looking at you, but they also can tell your story.  And as an added bonus, for some they may be used as a distraction or concealer for something they don’t like about themselves.

But what do tattoos really do?  Youtubers Rhett and Link wrote a song about Facebook… it’s a little dated as Facebook has evolved substantially in the last 3 or 4 years, but think about these lyrics:

“If the internet crashed all across the land, or my Facebook account was deleted by the man I’d carry around a picture of my face and a summary of me typed out on a page…”

When I ask people why they have tattoos, they talk about how the tattoos speak about themselves, their passions, their feelings, their children, their loves, their losses.  their lives.  What are their tattoos then?  A summary of themselves typed out on their skin.

Which leads us to Facebook.  I’ve been on Facebook for a long time.  In the last few years I have been questioning my use of it more and more, and making this last connection may be enough to put me over the edge and take down my profile.  Facebook is completely about the external.  The whole internet is really about the external.  If you really write about something you feel passionate about, you guarantee someone on the internet thinks you are wrong and you are going to get blasted about it.  Which has led to the place where we are at now where you have to “like” or “share” every single thing to prove you’re “good”.

But both of these things, I have contended, are symptoms of the problem of superficiality.  And I don’t know how to stop these trends.  I know I don’t want to fall prey to them.  So add that reason to my list of why I am one of only a handful of people I know who don’t have a tattoo.  And add that to my list of why I am seriously considering stepping back from Facebook.

On Marrying Young

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A friend of mine, a young lady who is just entering into marriage, shared with her friends an article containing 5 reasons why one guy got married before age 23.    The piece is pretty love-oriented, and it’s not wrong, but I don’t know if it deals fully with all the reasons why people put off marriage today.  I do think it nails the biggest one: fear.  Fear of missing out on “single life”.  Fear of making the wrong decision.  So many fears.Scared Kirk

Full disclosure: my parents married young – they were 19 when they married.  They are still married.  My aunts and uncles all married young – I think the oldest to get married was my Dad’s twin brother who won a bet by making it to 30.  The rest all married in their late teens or young twenties.  All are still married.  Of my cousins close in age to me, half married in their early twenties.  No divorces.  So my experience is that there is no relationship between marrying early and marital happiness, or likelihood of divorce.  I think it has much more to do with expectations.

Scared PsychoBut I want to focus on fear in this post.  Do you worry that you might choose wrong if you are young?  That you might not know yourself or what you want?  That you haven’t “lived” yet?  That you are young and broke, won’t have the money for college, won’t be able to provide?

I’ll start with a caveat.  I am a Bible-believing Christian, and I do take seriously the fact that God is clear in His word that a man should be prepared to provide for his family (1 Timothy 5:8).  That said, I am equally convinced that nowhere does the Bible say that everyone needs to start marriage debt free, owning a nice house and car, and with a substantial RRSP in place.  These are ridiculous expectations that people use to disguise their fear as wisdom, and keep themselves from blessing (Proverbs 18:22).

I plan to raise my sons to prepare for marriage young.  Not because I am old fashioned, but for other reasons.  But the biggest one is for them not to fear.  My experience has been that there should be no fear to marrying young.  Caution, yes, but not fear.  Let me tell you my experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Product Review: Skydog Parental Controls

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When I used to work in IT I had the chance to marvel at some state-of-the-art server based monitoring and blocking software for coporations.  I was impressed with the level of control offered and the way the service was constantly updated with classifications relevant to the control of inappropriate content at the office or jobsite.

At the time, family was still in my imagination.  But I thought to myself, “Is there anything like this out there for home use?”  At the time, I was disappointed.

Since then, I have been watching and waiting for a solution to come out that is not PC based.  We have always had multiple computers in our home, from the day we got married.  Those computers have always shared an internet connection through some kind of hub.  But I had never been able to filter internet content upstream of everyone until I finally discovered Skydog.

Image Courtesy of Skydog

Here is the short form of this review: Skydog is nothing less than a must-have for every family which seeks to keep their children from inappropriate and/or dangerous content on any platform from iPads and tablets to PCs to laptops to any other internet-connected device.  It is ridiculously easy to set up, and affords unheard of control to parents over the use of the internet on all devices connected to the network.  FURTHER: it enables you to completely stymie unauthorized connections to your home network unless you SPECIFICALLY approve of them.  This control can even be operated remotely via your smartphone or any internet-connected device, anywhere in the world.  Read the rest of this entry »

6 Kids: You Know What Causes That?

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Since pretty much our 3rd kid, when someone discovers how many children we have, a good chunk of the time the question gets asked, “Why?”  Often it is presented in a more joky fashion – like, “Do you know what causes that?” or “They have solutions for that, you know.”  I haven’t always had the best answer for it.. my answer tends to be on the long-winded side – we both love kids, and we both love each other, and we don’t like watching TV much so…

The biggest and the smallestBut seriously, it never crossed our minds to have an abortion, and hormonal birth control was messing with my wife’s body too much to stick with.  Nerfing sex drives kind of defeats the purpose of birth control doesn’t it?  So, other methods were employed.  Twice those methods failed us – resulting in 3 of our 6.  Three times, we chose to set them aside.  And to be perfectly clear, the two times they didn’t work, we weren’t upset – things just happened sooner than we expected or planned for.  Our last were twins, but we were thinking of having another 2 or 3 years down the road anyway, so it just bumped up our plans.

But you came here for something amusing – and I want to share it!  I ran across a blog with 5 kids, and there was this post about why they have as many as they do.  The Dad had a great perspective – “I don’t have to convince you of my politics or religion.  I just have to outnumber you.”  I love that – it speaks of deliberation, and thinking of the future.  I can’t say we stepped into having 6 with such forethought.

But the comments – oh the comments!  They were rich with pithy one liners to respond with!  If you need an answer to some snide, “You know what causes that?” – here you go!

  • (female response) “Well behaved children and an irresistible husband!”
  • (male response) “Good kids and a HOTT wife!”
  • “We’re pretty sure, but more testing is required.”
  • “We’ve narrowed it down to water or sex, and we aren’t giving up either one!”
  • “I handle my business, and God handles his.”
  • “Yep, and we’ve got the trophies to prove it right here!”

If you’ve got a good response to that question, please add it in the comments!  I’d love to grow the list!

9 Fantasy Films My Kids Need To See

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Where imagination began!

Look at that friggin dragon! Isn’t it awesome?

I have been a nut for stories of swords and sorcery since I was oh, about 8 or 9 and a friend of mind introduced me to the boardgame, “Dungeon!” which quickly transitioned (much like a gateway drug leads to greater flights of fancy… I mean greater highs and addictions) into Dungeons & Dragons.  We’re talking the first edition with Larry Elmore’s magnificent red dragon on the front – the one after the REAL first edition that had such crappy artwork it looked like it was drawn by one of my schoolmates.

It was a beautiful time, the 80’s and 90’s.  Special effects had taken a quantum leap with Star Wars, and things were beginning to evolve with computer effects.  But script and acting were still king, and some really fun movies came out back then.  Some of them I have shown to my kids, some we haven’t gotten to yet.  But here are my top 9 (I couldn’t find a 10th, sorry) Fantasy films my kids MUST see, if not appreciate. (Note, I didn’t include sci-fi in this list, that is a whole nother ball of wax.)

1. The Princess Bride (1987)

"I am not left-handed!"

“I am not left-handed!”

There was never a more perfect mix of fantasy, action, parody, spot on script, self-awareness, quotability, memorability, and classic storytelling than this film.  I cannot imagine parenting without being able to share giggles with my kids by referencing the dozens of moments this story provides, let alone the great messages it conveys.  And yes, I mean messages – there are tons of lessons in this film that don’t get preachy, but nonetheless are important.  This can’t not be #1. Read the rest of this entry »

My View on Fatherhood Part 3: Father of 6

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Here’s more on the unique perspective you will get here at Fathering From Home.  Not only am I a stay-at-home Dad and a father of exclusively boys, but I am the father of 6.

And we took them all to Disney... once.

And we took them all to Disney… once.

Honestly, in North America in 2013, being the father of 6 is practically a scarlet letter.  To the granola crowd I am personally contributing to the overpopulation of the earth.   To the childless-by-choice crowd (which seems to be growing all the time) I am a breeder, lacking the self-control or intelligence to limit my brood to a size that enables me to be self-actualized through 80 hour work weeks or through gobs of travel and expensive experiences.  To those who actually choose to have kids I am clinically insane, because “I can barely handle my 1 (or 2 at the most)”.  I get stared at when I take them all out – shopping or otherwise.  My family’s chariot, a 2005 Chevy Express 15 passenger van got labelled an “Indian van” while we were in Surrey (not by us – sadly there is racism in Canada too), because only the Punjabi population, where extended families all live together and work together use them.  Then we moved to Southern Alberta, where our van was relabelled the “Hutterite Van” because only the communally farming Hutterites used them for personal transport in this area.  To think of such a vehicle as a “family van” is beyond the imaginings of most people in this day and age.

How did we wind up with 6 kids?  By the way, when we had our fourth, the “Are you trying to be the Duggars” comments started, so you can imagine the comments and backhanded compliments we get now.  Firstly, no, we are not Mormon or Catholic.  And no, we don’t have religious reasons for having so many kids… unless you consider it a religious reason that we would NEVER EVER consider an abortion for an unplanned pregnancy.

We love our kids.  From the moment we discovered we were pregnant with each one (or two) we have celebrated.  I LOVE infants.  I LOVE my wife when she is pregnant – she is beautiful and incredibly hot when she is in full bloom.  I don’t know what it is – maybe part of it is how secure it makes me feel in her heart that she is bearing another child for me.  Maybe it is the shot of testosterone that my virility is once more proven.  I don’t know.  But I love everyone’s infants too.  Holding infants is one of the most peaceful experiences in life, and I am glad I have gotten to do it as much as I have.

We never set out to have 6.  In fact, after we got married and began discussing seriously how many kids we would have, she wanted 2 and I wanted 3.  We never thought that we would add them together (and throw in a pair of twins)! Read the rest of this entry »

Parenthood: the Best Road to Maturity

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They say that you don’t really grow up until you have kids.  That may not be true in every case, but so far in this life, the most immature people I have met have been without children, and the most mature people I have met have been parents.

Why is this?  I don’t think it’s a mystery: selfish people are inherently unattractive.  People, in general, don’t like self-absorbed, me-first people.  The definition of maturity is the ability to both think and act in the interests of others, and to look beyond immediate benefits to yourself to the benefits of others as motivation for action.  (It’s not a perfect definition, feel free to correct me, but I think it hits most of what maturity is.)

Little handHow do you get it?  Well, something, sometime, somewhere, needs to intrude on your own me-first orientation to the point where you want something for someone besides yourself.

In short, you need to love someone.

Human beings are capable of having sex, but for obvious reasons, sex can be had for intensely selfish reasons, without any pretense of love.  But something mysterious happens when a child is born from you.  Many men manage to avoid this something mysterious, by denying paternity, or by simply absenting themselves from proximity to the woman who will bear the child.  Few women, however, manage to avoid this strange, unexplainable connection to the live they bring into the world.  It is pure.  It is innocent.  It is undeserved.  This thing has done nothing to deserve love.  In fact, for the next oh, about 12 months after it is born, this creature will be the most selfish, self-absorbed, unfeeling parasite on their parents’ lives ever to exist.  But that inexplicable feeling occurs nonetheless.

And it persists.  Parents will love their children forever, despite this.  At some point, that love gets modelled to their children, and those children in turn will pass it on to their children, and so on.  But for some reason, this love never truly blooms fully until a person becomes a parent.

You can love someone and not be a parent.  But nobody you love outside of parenthood will abuse you, use you, and take over your life to the level that children do.  Nobody will have permission to spend your money, time, youth, and energy for their own sole benefit like your children.  Parenthood taxes you.  It beats you down.  It drains you.  It stretches you to your emotional and physical limits.  But NOTHING else teaches you maturity like it.  Nothing.

A parent must.  They simply MUST love their child.  Or that child will literally die.

They must take joy in their child. Or the parent will abandon the enterprise of parenting.

I was working on my laptop...

I was working on my laptop…

They must find peace in parenthood.  If you can find peace amidst the chaos of screaming, pooping, throwing, barfing, smashing, running, jumping, singing, babbling, whirlwinds of growth, then you can find peace anywhere, anytime.

They must be patient with their child, like they have never been patient before.  Think about it: the longest you do ANYTHING in your life up to about the age of 30 is the 12 years of school you complete to graduate.  But the first few years are really so new and interesting that it takes at least until Grade 4 to really begin to hate it.  By then you only have 8 years left, and that’s not so long to wait.  On the other hand, you have a child, and you WILL be parenting, 24/7 for the next minimum 16 years.  If that doesn’t teach patience, I don’t know what does.

They must be kind.  I fail at this all the time, but my children really do respond to kindness unlike any other form of interaction.  It must be practiced, and practiced.  I actually feel bad for my older kids, because I didn’t have much kindness with them, while I find I am a lot kinder to their younger siblings.

They must be good.  Why does anyone have to be good to anyone?  You can be a noisome prick to the world, but you can’t to your kids.  It is in this area that goodness must be practiced, or you will one day lose your children.  They will either have had enough of you, or they will be taken from you.

They must be faithful.  Science has already demonstrated that one of the biggest contributors to children’s success as adults is stability.  Your choices as a parent to be faithful to them, to always be there, to be faithful to your spouse, demonstrating what it means to stand by promises, to be faithful to your job, your community, these things all contribute.  Not only that but YOU will be much better off for demonstrating faithfulness to all these things.

They must be gentle.  Oh, this one is so hard for fathers, and even harder for fathers to do with boys, because we are by nature rough and tumble.  But young boys need a gentle hand and will flourish when shown that there are other ways than simply brute-forcing your way through life.

They must be self-controlled.  Parents must learn to set aside their needs at times for the good of their children.  Many people I have met put off parenthood for this reason, but I would argue the reverse is true: if you put off parenthood because you don’t want to be self-controlled, then you are building habits that will not break when you do finally “get around” to parenting.  Having children younger means you have had less time to get into ruts, and are more flexible to adjust your life to them and their needs.  And the earlier human beings learn self-control the better – for everyone!  Nobody ever suffered in life for being self-controlled, yet in our society today nothing is more anathema.  It is one of the strangest dichotomies of the 21st Century.

A little slice of heaven...In case you haven’t noticed, I did in fact use Galatians 5 as a template for maturity.  I don’t particularly care if you are a Christian or not: I defy you to point out for me how these 8 descriptors fall short of describing the mature human being.  I dream of living in a world populated by the mature.  That would truly be…

A little slice of heaven…


photo credit: Chemophilic via photopin cc

My Son: Award Winning Artist

by admin

An odd thing happened last winter.

Award winning artwork

Award winning artwork

My 4 year old son, attempting a precocious Kindergarten year, drew a picture.  The teacher asked him to draw a cowboy.  So he did.  It wasn’t spectacular.  Even he didn’t think so.  But he got a lot of detail into it.  In fact, there is quite a lot there on close observation.

For example, the odd tiny head and thin arms accompanied by large hands and legs and feet are a matter of perspective.  If a 5 year old met a cowboy, this is what he would see: large hands, legs and feet because they are close to him, largely hidden arms, and a tiny head way up in the clouds.

He took pains to add in the classic cowboy features of hat and boots, but what you may not notice is the green cord wrapped in loops at his side – that is his lasso.

It’s a neat bit of drawing, and may even be good for his age.  It might have been good enough to be one of the pieces we actually save of his artwork (any other parents out there get absolutely sick to death of schools sending home every single thing our kids glue, cut, rip, paint, or write on?  I mean, how many forests have to die?)

But much to our surprise, it was submitted to the city art gallery for an annual exhibition of art produced by students.

Much to our greater surprise, it was chosen as the gallery centerpiece, and the winner of best student artwork in the city.

Don’t get me wrong: I am proud of the work he did.  But never in a million years would I have thought to submit this work to an art competition.  Never in a million years would I expect him to win.

Maybe I just don’t grasp the fine sensitivities of the art community, who it seems since abstract art came into vogue, seem to revel in objects that at best resemble their subjects superficially, and search for hidden meaning in the artist’s “choice of medium” and “bold decisions” in how to “capture the essence” of the subject.  Maybe this work is brilliant.

We asked him about the piece.  Here’s the “artist’s interview.

Anti-Heroes Don’t Just Have a History…

by admin

I got up at 6am this morning to go for a run with a friend of mine.

Actually I got up at 5am for no apparent reason, tried snuggling up to my sleepy wife (didn’t get anywhere… darn), then got up to get ready for the run.

My friend pulls up in a VW Golf with a sticker on the back – the Autobot symbol.

Not the one I saw.  Pretty stylin' though.

Not the one I saw. Pretty stylin’ though.

First reaction: cool.  Transformers are the awesome.  Then I remembered the last Transformers’ sticker I saw on a car was the Decepticon sticker.  And when I really think about it, I have never seen an Autobot sticker on a car before.  Only Decepticons.

James Dean

The iconic bad boy. Kinda looks like my Dad ca. 1972.

It’s cool to be bad.  I guess it always has been.  Guys in leather jackets, smoking cigarettes behind the school was cool back in the 60’s.  And the 70’s.  And the 80’s.  You get the picture.

But it seems like these days it’s really being taken to another level.  People self-identify as the bad guys.  Or their favourite characters in stories are the bad guys. Read the rest of this entry »

Girls and Gardasil – Not a Good Combo

by admin

It was a few years ago that the vaccine Gardasil came to market and began to receive gardasil-logowidespread publicity as health lobbyists pushed for government agencies to offer it to female schoolchildren.  For those who might not recall, Gardasil is a vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV – a sexually transmitted disease that in untreated cases, has led to cervical cancer in some cases.

At the time, I didn’t know what to think – the central argument against the vaccinations I was hearing centered around (besides the reported side effects seeming to include girls dying occasionally) vaccinating girls as young as 9 against a disease that they can’t catch unless they are sexually active – and how many 9 year olds are sexually active?  It’s an important thought, but it’s weak.  If it protects down the road, and you don’t know when your daughter is going to become sexually active, it still seems kind of prudent.

You may notice, I don’t have daughters, only sons.  So I don’t have any personal interests at play.  But if you have a daughter or daughters, then you should be aware of these facts about Gardasil and its related vaccines.

1.  They only protect against 4 of 40 different strains of HPV.  That’s 10%.  90% of HPV will still get her.

2.  HPV clears up on its own within 1-2 years. It’s not that serious a problem.

3.  Listen to these quotes from Diane Harper, lead researcher in the development of these vaccines (link goes to a Huffington Post interview with her, not some whacko anti-vaccine website):

Gardasil is associated with serious adverse events, including death. If Gardasil is given to 11 year olds, and the vaccine does not last at least fifteen years, then there is no benefit – and only risk – for the young girl. Vaccinating will not reduce the population incidence of cervical cancer if the woman continues to get Pap screening throughout her life. Read the rest of this entry »

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