Small steps, big changes around the house

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So we were at the aquarium not too long ago and there was a fascinating exhibit about the floating garbage patch — a mid-ocean swirling vortex of crap we’ve loosed upon the earth.

The best/saddest part was an installation from an artist who works with plastic, showcasing the damage we do to the environment by tossing so much of it into the seas.

It was eye-opening and life changing.

As a family, we try — and fail sometimes — to reduce our plastic bottle buying, opting instead for reusable containers. But man, it’s tough to avoid plastic in day to day life. As the chief shopper, I see it in just about everything I need at the store. It’s omnipresent and the thought of reducing our use of it seems almost overwhelming at times.

Which is why I was overjoyed — I mean, to the point of literally gasping and saying, “Yes!” — when my favorite household cleaning company sent me some free samples of a new product line. (Stay with me, please. It’s a cool, small thing that could do us all good.)

Seventh Generation’s concentrates are something I hope every cleaning product company picks up on and emulates.

Basically, they’re little capsules of cleaning agent that you pour into spray bottles you’ve previously bought. Fill with water and boom! New cleaning spray. It’s cool because your refill bottles are just a fraction of the size of your original spray bottle, and a fraction of the cost as well. Not to mention the ingredients are better and it work greats. (It’d be awesome if these little capsules were made of the thick, recycled and biodegradable paper Seventh Generation uses in other containers, but baby steps.)

I don’t get on product high horses very much, but this is exactly why I partnered with Seventh Generation. Little changes like this are key to reducing our consumption and trash issues. It takes all of 30 seconds to refill a bottle and it costs $2 compared to $5.

I’m sold.

Seventh Generation sent me cash monies and samples to write about their stuff and their pro-environment campaigns. I’ll never, ever like their stupid paper towels or toilet paper, but when they introduce products like this, it’s a no brainer and why I love them. Let’s hope more companies follow their lead. For all of us.

How to make a backyard movie theater

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So you want to have a movie night in the backyard.

Easy.

You need a good screen, a cool projector, and a place to create a theater.

All pretty simple, really.

Here’s what you do.

First, you take your unholy tangle of backyard chaos …

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And you rip everything out …

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You enlist child labor to dig up an old irrigation system that served only to turn your shaded city yard into a mosquito-plagued, malarial swampfest …

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Then the hard part begins: Convincing your 8 year old that all the old, broken, spider-ridden toys she hasn’t played with in years really need to go. A trip to the dump is all at once sad-making and cathartic, but mostly cathartic …

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Then you hire a landscaping company to build a pretty stone facade border because you know your limits in Handyland …

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Next, take a vacation to New York and return to a completed border and half of your new fake grass installed …

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Once the grass is in, play soccer on it all. day. long.

8Then realize that because it’s fake, you can’t actually mow the grass. You have to vacuum it. Enlist child labor again. Listen to her whine about the backyard, “Not being as easy as I thought it would be.”

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Have a whole bunch of fights with your wife about why you don’t really need that fancy ass, expensive outdoor fire pit, and then install one anyway and realize once again how god damn brilliant she is. Also, call doctor about tests for the diabeetus.

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Then you’re ready to DIY up a screen. Run two sets of ratcheting straps from one fence to another and then use heavy clamps to hang a big ass sheet in the middle of it. Buy a projector. Spread out some blankets. Maybe take a moment to realize how cool it is to do all this shit in the middle of November because summer in San Francisco is just winding down.

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Invite over some cool family friends and choose a nature documentary the kids will quickly lose interest in, only to run upstairs and play behind a locked door inside while you think, “It was still worth it.”

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So women play soccer nowadays? Whoodathunk?

Clearly no one likes Alex Morgan.

Clearly no one likes Alex Morgan.

I look in the morning paper today, hoping for a recap of the women’s national team game — a game that was carried on actual TV (Yay!) but on a station our region doesn’t get (boo).

Instead, I find a big inside story on a pissing match between the men’s national team coach and the men’s professional league. Seriously, someone said something another person didn’t like, and it’s a big story. There’s also another story, shorter, on a new coach for our shitty local men’s pro team.

And yet … the women’s team barely squeaks by last night in its first game to qualify for the World Cup — a game that actually means something — and there’s not a mention.

Not a story, not a blurb, not even a tiny little box score.

I get that it was a great day for San Francisco sports. The Giants are one win away from their every other year trip to the World Series.

But still.

Nothing.

So clearly it was an even bigger sports day than I imagined, and the women, second class citizens that they are, had to take the back seat again.

I continue flipping through the paper to find all of these important stories and discover:

The Colts’ owner says something about his DUI … from March.

Steve Nash injures back carrying luggage.

The NFL sends letter to players about Ebola.

There’s a big color piece on a former high school football player now doing well in Oregon. That’s really sweet.

Look, I get that not everyone loves soccer.

But if you’re going to cover the sport, at least fucking mention the only god damn American team with a chance to win the World Cup.

The sexism. It’s subtle. And non stop.

Secrets of Healthy Dads: They dance

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I started running crazy mad distances to A. keep my blood pressure down, and B. keep up with this kid.

She is non stop. And I love it.

As I get older, I admit I’m getting more and more worried about being there for her as she gets older. So to keep my blood pressure in check, I run, lift weights, eat well (mostly), and rarely refuse a game of pickup soccer or baseball in the backyard.

I also, apparently, dance.

This is a new one for me. I didn’t realize I had it in me, but seeing the video, I have to admit: I’ve got a future. The kid may not think so. But I don’t think she knows what she’s talking about.

Head over to my Facebook page to take a look at how we sneak in crazy fun, healthy times around the house.

Thanks to Anthem Blue Cross, who sponsored the campaign, for including dads in this important discussion about family health care. My views are based solely on my experience as a parent, and not as a medical professional.

 

Come on. It’s just a shirt.

sexist bullshit

It’s just a shirt, they tell you.

Lighten up. Have a sense of humor.

Oh geez, they say, it’s just one ad. Or just one pair of pajamas.

It’s no big deal. Everything is so PC nowadays.

Just a shirt, just an ad, just a pair of pajamas, just a different playing field, just a way to keep girls interested in science, just a pay disparity, just a ceaseless, subtle societal messaging system that says A. women are lesser and B. lighten the fuck up about it.

No big deal really.

This is a roundup of all the sexist bullshit I found on Facebook this week alone. It’s meant to simply connect a few dots because my feed was filling up with example after example of messages that subtly, or not so subtly, degrade girls and women — with all the obligatory comments about chilling out about it all.

Viewed in a vacuum, I get it. One shirt isn’t so bad. Ha ha, very funny. I also enjoy easy, tired jokes from time to time myself.

But view them all together — again, just one week’s worth of bullshit — and tell me there’s not an incessant, pervasive messaging system that is so powerful we often overlook it or laugh it off as completely normal.

Exhibit A

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Target (which, for the record, had been doing well at offering T-shirts for girls with the same sporty slogans as boy shirts) decides to sell pajamas in which the boy babies can grow up to be heroes and the girl babies can grow up to … date them. Because girls obviously will never want to be powerful super heroes themselves.

But, you know, it’s just one set of pajamas. Chill out already.

Exhibit B

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Walmart. Here we’ve moved up in age from pajamas for babies who can’t read anyway so just let parents have a little fun in sexualizing infancy to shirts for teens who can, hopefully, read. And yet the message stays the same. Boys can be heroes. Girls can marry them.

Again, I hear you: Lighten up, asshole, it’s just one shirt.

Exhibit C

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This is my favorite. If T-shirts and pajamas don’t tell you something’s wrong with how society treats girls and women, how about this: a sign. A sign that fucking spells it out for you.

It’s from the Carnegie Science Center working with the scouts.

But oh yes, I hear you already: It’s just a way to get girls interested in science by using something they’re interested in! After all, we’ve spent a lifetime telling them their only merit comes from appearance and spousal ability so now we’re stuck with girls who couldn’t give fewer fucks about STEM and this will set them right again!

Exhibit D

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You probably hear this phrase a lot: Even the playing field. As a metaphor, it means treating women and men equally. In this real-life example, it literally means even the playing field. Professional women soccer players had to file a lawsuit just yesterday to be able to play the World Cup on grass next year instead of artificial turf. Hold just about any men’s friendly match to drum up support for the game and FIFA will go to great lengths to cover the field in sod. The next two men’s World Cups will have grass, including the 2022 tournament in Qatar. Grass for men. In a drought-ridden desert.

But hold the premier event for the women’s side, and it’s turf for the first time ever. Of course.

And don’t even get me started on news of women’s soccer. Upload the ESPN FC soccer app and you can get coverage from bumblefuck B leagues in Ecuador and Sweden. You can get news about the Johnston’s Paint Trophy. But no scores or news about the women’s national team. You probably know the team. It’s the one that actually wins. It’s the one that should have loaned Megan Rapinoe to the men’s side this summer in favor of hammer footed Michael Bradley and maybe we would have had a chance.

But I digress. And I’m sure I could keep digressing on example after example.

This is, after all, just one week’s worth of bullshit. And you get the point.

It’s ironic that these examples popped up in my feed just a few days after social media went atwitter at Emma Watson’s amazing speech last week on feminism and equality.

It’s also amazing that these discussions about just one shirt, or just one bad message, continue day after day and year after year. For instance, I wrote about the shitty messages of sexist T-shirts years ago. I offer this only to say it’s nothing new. It’s continuous and plague like.

But it’s just a shirt, they still tell you.

Lighten up, they say.

It’s just a constant, subtle messaging system that is so pervasive, degrading, and normalized that we can’t even tell it’s bullshit anymore.