Why do they say ‘Heads Up’ when I say ‘Duck!’?

I’m often amazed at how people can see the same thing very differently.  Consider for a minute the difference in perspective between parent and child.

Just the other day I said to my boys, “You guys don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.”

Not your average band of kale eaters

“Yeah we do. We had french fries for lunch AND dinner,” was their response.

I jabbed back that I meant like leafy green vegetables while they counterpunched with a reminder that their Big Macs had shredded lettuce on it. These point counterpoints usually go the full fifteen rounds with no winner declared.

As you can see, their skills of persuasion while not great are offset by the perseverance of sticking to a point of view.  Hopefully that trait will serve them well in life even if it means having to purchase two seats on a plane because they each weigh 500 pounds.

And so it’s with this theme of perspective that we planned our latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List crew to attend a minor league hockey game on a night that a portion of ticket sales would go towards funding cancer research.

As we lined up who was going, it was interesting to get perspectives on who was excited about what:

‘Will there be fights?’, ‘How cold will the beer be?’ and ‘You think we’ll see a fight?’ were the common questions from the dads.

‘Can we drive the Zamboni?’, ‘Can I order a Coke every time the ref blows his whistle?’ and ‘Does cotton candy count as a vegetable?’ were common questions from the kids.

Connor McMahon, one tough hombre

As for me, while I was interested in catching up with friends and enjoying the action, I was really looking forward to supporting a young hockey player who was being honored at the game.

Connor McMahon is a 15-year-old goalie who has already been diagnosed and beaten cancer three times.  I know hockey players are tough, but that’s next level stuff.

My wife met Connor and his family several years back and she has chronicled his battle through several stories on TV, one of which was shown at the game.  I’ve also met Connor’s dad, Don, and even did a little coaching with him when our youngest sons played at the same rink a few years back.

As a result, I’ve been taken with Connor’s story.  Maybe it’s because he’s a hockey goalie like I was as a kid.  Maybe it’s how well he’s played a tough hand.  And maybe it’s that he’s somebody’s son and the realization that any family is vulnerable.

Heneghan’s new hairdo. Good look or bad? Depends on your perspective…

I’m glad he’s winning the fight and was happy we were able to marshal a solid group of nearly 40 people to join us to hear his story, support the cause and enjoy the action on the ice.

On the way home with my youngest sound asleep in the back seat, I considered some of the stuff that’s been on my plate along with Connor’s journey and I was reminded of the title of  Richard Carlson’s book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all Small Stuff.”

Even the leafy green vegetables.

Go. See. Be. Do.

Posted in Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What’s Our Vector, Victor?”

Like any imaginative kid, my boys picture themselves as movie characters.  My youngest with his glasses and guile thinks he can channel the wizardry of Harry Potter.  And when his other side kicks in I could swear he’s Mr. Hyde.

Crew ready for takeoff! "We have clearance, Clarence."

Crew ready for takeoff! “We have clearance, Clarence.”

My oldest summons his inner Avenger and imagines he can shoot arrows like Hawkeye.

Similarly when I was around their ages, Robin Hood was my favorite archer and do-gooder, even if he was an animated fox.

As I grew older, on-screen character portrayals were replaced by an ability to memorize great movie lines.  This skill lives on today with movies I haven’t seen in close to 40 years.  Can you imagine how useful this memorization ability would have been if I’d extended it to something useful, like say, the periodic table?

You see, I may not be able to remember how many proteins are in Boron, but I could tell you the nickname Bill Murray gave Rudy in the 1979 comedy Meatballs.

And so it is that our latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List crew would rekindle memories  and quotes from the 1980 classic – Airplane.  “Surely you can’t be serious?  I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.”

Harry Potter at the controls.

Harry Potter at the controls.

Our experience was hosted by Special K, who set up an opportunity for our posse to see what it’s like to pilot a plane.  He planned a day for the kids to get behind the controls of a real flight simulator at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport.

The sim lessons were conducted by ExpressJet pilot Dave Lin, who graciously showed up in full effect early on a Sunday wearing his pilot’s suit.

Each child was able to sit in the copilot’s chair as Dave let him or her take off and land from the airport of their choosing.  The kids flew from locales like Atlanta, Zurich and many places in between.

Despite different personalities and high energy levels, Dave was the steady teacher throughout. As one dad rightly pointed out, “the man has the patience of Job.”  He was incredible and made sure every kid’s experience was uniquely personal.

As I watched one of my boys at the controls, I caught myself thinking, “is this something he could actually do for a career one day?”.  It’s the kind of thought I expect to encounter more and more in the coming years.

Dave Lin and the crew, "the man has the patience of Job"

Dave Lin and the crew, “the man has the patience of Job”

Maybe one of them will become a pilot.  Then again, maybe he’ll settle for being a wizard.

Whatever career they end up choosing, I’ll be sure to grab some popcorn and tune in for their premieres.  Because, who knows, maybe they’ll offer a couple great lines along the way.  And if so, I’m gonna do my best to remember them.

Go. See. Be. Do.

Be sure to keep up with Dads’ Bucket List by “liking” our Facebook page.

Posted in Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“I Double Dog Dare You”

Peer pressure is one of those behavioral concepts that never seems to have any positives associated with it.

I mean when was the last time a parent encouraged a child to give into the urges of his friends when it was against his better judgment?  “That’s right, Billy, that curfew your mother and I set is only meant as a guideline.  Heck, if you and your friends plan to steal cars tonight, then by all means, don’t bother being home on time.”

Our Crew of Gearheads

Our Crew of Gearheads

But on the other hand, if you’re a glass is half full type, peer pressure is actually a really great way to lead a life that others are sure to talk about.

“Mom, what’s it like to spend eight years in a Turkish prison?”

“I don’t know dear, but that boy Billy who moved back in with his parents down the street just got out of one so maybe you should go ask him.”

There’s no two ways about it, peer pressure can never be good can it?

While you ponder that question, I’m going to give you a little recap of the latest outing of our Dads’ Bucket List crew where we took part in a great American pastime that was born out of bad judgment – Friday night drag racing.

"Oh come on, Dad. Live a little!"

“Oh come on, Dad. Live a little!”

That’s right, we decided to let our kids see the flame of an overheated engine block on the family sedan with 23 months of payments still left on it.

From the moment we arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway, we could smell that familiar race exhaust and feel the energy of the evening’s activity as cars lined up on the infield to get in their practice runs.  We were all buzzing about what we were going to witness.

But, in order to make this a truly worthy Dads’ Bucket List outing, we needed one of our own to heed the call, get on the starting line and actually race.

He's Going the Distance

He’s Going the Distance

And so, here’s where we come back to this concept of peer pressure.  You see, that afternoon our only driving hopeful, Andrew Ziffer (a.k.a. The Ziff), left a voice message with a bunch of vagaries about being tired, having a headache, feeling bloated and being woefully shy of funds to cover the entry fee.

Without getting into every detail, let’s just say that over the next several hours I beat him down with peer pressure.

And guess what?

At approximately 9:13pm on a warm, breezy night south of Atlanta he put on a helmet, drove his Corvette out onto the track, spun his tires to heat them up, then revved his engine to the red line.  And then?

The Ziff and his #1 Fan!

The Ziff and his #1 Fan!

Then he RACED!

And we high-fived.  We jumped up and down.  We looked at each other and shook our heads with perplexity. “Did he actually do that? Yes! You bet he did.”

So, I ask yet again, peer pressure can never be good can it?

Well, let’s just say The Ziff, his daughter Rachel and all of us there to witness it will not soon forget the night he went drag racing on behalf of our Dads’ Bucket List crew.

Go. See. Be. Do.


Posted in Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whaddya Mean You’ve Never Tried Sushi?

I’m often amazed at what becomes popular.

The music of Beck, flat bill ball caps, Bill Maher and texting instead of talking are just a few that come to mind.

For whatever reason, it’s tough to nail down what’s going to strike a chord with people.  All you have to do is look at the graveyard of “the next big thing” (think Zima, Ishtar, and the XFL) to see it’s not so easy to predict.

Mission Control Ready for Launch

Mission Control Ready for Launch

And that’s pretty much the case when planning what’s next for the Dads’ Bucket List crew.  Although, I’ll admit sometimes what gets dads off the sofa really surprises me.

And so it was the case with our latest outing where we intended to get the kiddos outfitted with sunburns and heatstroke as we blasted model rockets way up into the atmosphere on a hot summer day.

We got lots of takers immediately and given that I never did it when I was a kid, I was up for something new.

That's some fine craftsmanship blasting up there!

Good grief that’s some fine craftsmanship blasting up there!

The first order of business after ordering the rockets was to actually build them.  How hard could it be putting together a couple of tubes topped with a rocket cone? Um, let’s just say that on my scale of 1 to 10, it graded out a 12!

The instructions were a hybrid of images inspired by a cubist Picasso and instructions dictated by Yoda. My kids got a lot of earmuff moments over several days of building, disassembly and re-assembly.

On launch day we gathered at the hottest spot we could find on planet earth so we could deliver on our heatstroke agenda item.  Once there, it became launch central as dads and kids set up rockets on pads and began countdowns to launch.

Dads or kids had more fun? Your call

Dads or kids had more fun? You make the call.

It was cool to see how excited everybody got each time one went up.  The kids loved to chase them down as the parachutes deployed and the dads loved seeing their labor wasn’t in vain.

The only problems we encountered were when winds blew some of the rockets into the treetops.  Several dads fought back tears as they saw hours of time drift into the high branches. One dad even drove all the way home only to return with a mishmash recovery tool of two duct taped mop shafts mounted to a golf ball retriever.

Oy vay!  Lucky for the astronauts of Apollo 13 he wasn’t at mission control during their little episode.

We had several people join us at the last minute and lots of onloookers who stopped to check out the action.  Testaments to how popular the idea of spaceflight was with everybody.

We have liftoff!

We have liftoff!

I still contend the simplicity of packing a cooler with your favorite cold beverages on a hot day was the primary selling point.

Whatever it was, we hit a moonshot with this outing.  Even if none of us can explain exactly why.

Go. See. Be. Do.


Posted in Experiences | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Oh Come On, Admit It. You Use Facebook Too!”

It’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, but I’ll admit I use Bragbook. I mean Facebook.

It’s a gas to stay connected with “friends” from different phases of life. Even those I never actually met.


It’s not my salad, but it’ll have to do

The site always delivers essential information.  Who wouldn’t be interested to see a photo of the salad my 4th grade hockey teammate just ate?

Without Facebook how would I have seen that video of a dog in Japan chase its tail for 3 minutes if not for my old dental hygienist sharing it on her timeline?

Seriously though, I think what I enjoy most are the pictures with friends of my youth posing with their kids. So many times, I find myself shaking my head incredulously muttering, “that guy is responsible for raising another human being?” And the reality is every time I’m in a similar photo somebody in cyberspace shakes his or her head and mutters the same.

It’s likely I’ll be posting some Facebook photos soon because my oldest son and I are off on a little travel adventure.

It came about when I borrowed an idea from my buddy, Phil Cecil, who told me when each of his five kids turned ten he took them on a father-son/daughter trip.  I loved the idea immediately and my wife encouraged me to do the same when my kids turned that age.

Just like an Aussie the little man got right into the mix of some rugby union action

Just like an Aussie the little man got right into the mix of some rugby union action

And so that’s what led me to typing this entry at exactly 2:39AM local time on our first night in Sydney, Australia where I’ve been wide awake for over an hour.

In addition, to experiencing the beautiful city, its people and their culture the trip provides an opportunity to have conversations with my son about topics like decision-making, being authentic and finding your passions. I hope they’ll be talks he’ll remember and maybe even serve him well in life.

The important thing is that I want them to be conversations. Not lectures. We both get more out of them that way.

And so far, our trip to Sydney is off to a great start.  I connected with a college buddy, Mark Cashion, who lives here with his Australian wife, two sons the same ages as mine and their dishlicker (Aussie slang for dog) named Storm.

The Cashions and us. You can always spot the Aussies in a crowd, no?

The Cashions and us. You can always spot the Aussies in a crowd, no?

We’re staying with them our first night.  They’ve got a great thing going, which is awesome to see.  It’s also provided a window into how parenting is done Down Under.  My initial take? It’s the same art no matter where you live – you just do the best you can and regardless you love them unconditionally.

So during our Sydney stay we’ll be experiencing lots of sites, sampling the fare and interacting with the locals. And who knows, if the mood strikes I may get on Facebook to post a picture of my salad or maybe even a short video of an Aussie dishlicker chasing its tail for a minute or two.

Go. See. Be. Do.

Posted in Experiences | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

“You Know, You’ll Die Going Over that Cliff”

I guess he answered the question whether he has the stones to take the leap

I guess he answered the question whether he has the stones to take the leap

It’s ski season and having grown up in Colorado, this time of year brings back a lot of mountainside memories.

One that comes to mind is riding one of the chairlifts at Copper Mountain that goes above a lot of expert terrain. One section has a cliff where you can watch adrenaline junkies ski right off.

In addition to those that go over,  I have memories of the guy that stops right at the edge, looks down and contemplates everything in his life.  Meanwhile people on the lift with no skin in the game shout down, “Do it!” and “Just jump!”.

Whether yelling or not we’re all thinking the same thing – does he really have the stones to take the leap?

Somehow that guy contemplating going off the cliff is a bit like I feel about our latest experience with the Dads’ Bucket List crew.

We’re going to do something terrifying for a lot of folks.  It’s something none of the dads and all but one of our kids has ever done before, so it could be a complete disaster.

First practice had a few more questions than answers

First practice had a few more questions than answers

And here’s the big reveal, we’re going to perform before a live audience as a ROCK BAND!  Just typing that made me break out in a cold sweat.  And to add to the degree of difficulty we’re going to do this by having exactly two practice sessions – an hour each of the prior Saturdays leading up to an open mic event on Feb. 27.

The idea to be in a rock band always sounded like a blast.  While I was channel surfing over the holidays I came across the movie ‘School of Rock’ and the seed was planted.

I reached out to Mark Gallegos who runs a local music teaching studio  and told him my idea.  There was a long silence over the phone followed by, “Mark, Mark are you still there?” He was and had a few questions:

Mark was up to his neck in it with our DBL crew

Mark was up to his neck in it with our DBL crew

Mark: “Musical experience?”

Me: “One kid plays the guitar, the rest of us sing in the shower.”

Mark: “How many months until you want to actually perform?”

Me: “Practice and perform in front of a live audience by the end of the month.”

He gave a nervous chuckle and then said, “we can give it a shot”.  Bingo, we were in business! From there we scheduled our practice sessions.  But before we hung up, Mark had to ask me just one more thing.

Mark:  “Are you on drugs?”

Me:  “No. But I figure if you’re going to ski all the way to the cliff you may as well go over.”

Be sure to come rock with us at 5pm on Feb. 27

Be sure to come rock with us at 5pm on Feb. 27

Go. See. Be. Do.

Want to see the show?  Send us a note through our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter






Posted in Blog, Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“I’d Pay You Not to Make that Sound Again”

Why lie, at times I sing while I’m driving. I’m convinced I’m able to hit the high notes with Steve Perry and am pitch perfect on the squeals of Axl Rose.

"Practice is overrated"

“Practice is overrated”

However, the cold, hard truth is that I’m not much of a singer. This became abundantly clear to me when I was 12.   One Sunday sitting in church with my mom, I made a conscious effort to give my best effort singing a hymn.

As I sang like a bird, my mom gave me a solid nudge and with a serious leer said verbatim, “Shut up and sing right!” Game. Set. Match!

Here’s another little secret.  I haven’t sung in church since. I lip sync. Exclusively.  That’s right, I am the Milli Vanilli of the United Methodist Church.

So with that kind of musical pedigree, I figured it was time for the Dads’ Bucket List crew to debut our singing talents in front of a live audience.  That’s right, this month’s experience was to regale the masses with some Christmas caroling.

The plan was simple, we’d meet at my house at 4:00 one evening where we’d labor for 2 hours of practice before hitting the public with the high notes.

We had everyone on hand by 5:55, which left us exactly 5 minutes to perfect our craft. We did this by gathering in the garage with the doors closed for a 5 minute harmony session. I’m not gonna pull any punches, we were simply melodic.  So off we went.

We're a band!

We’re a band!

Low hanging fruit was the order of the evening. A neighbor with a 1-year-old that wouldn’t be able to verbalize whether or not we sounded good or bad was our first stop.  We killed it with some “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.

From there, we hopped in cars to hit another neighborhood and knocked out some “Joy to the World”.  Now, we were humming and decided to up the degree of difficulty by adding instruments.

We grabbed a snare drum, xylophone, clarinet and even a trumpet.  We weren’t mere carolers anymore.  We were a band!  And we knew it!

With confidence pouring through our veins, all we needed to see were Christmas lights on for us to knock and start singing.  We added “Little Drummer Boy” and a trumpet solo of “Jingle Bells” to the play list. We were on point.

We got smiles, we got high fives. Even a couple of hugs. One thing we didn’t get, you ask?  A record contract.

That’s okay though because just like the way I think I sound good singing in my car, we walked away with the memory of sounding angelic as we caroled to the masses.

I’ll admit, this wasn’t our best planned outing.  But it was something that none of us had ever done before so it fit the Bucket List criteria.  Most importantly though, it was memorable.

"Dad, you rock"...and so do you, Little Man

“Dad, you rock”…and so do you, Little Man

My youngest son, Bo, confirmed this later that night when he told me “that was the best Dads’ Bucket List outing ever.”  Good to know that simplicity still sells.

Also, good to know that through the years, Dads’ Bucket List is still cranking out the hits.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Blog, Experiences | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment