Babies in the 21st century


So we’ve had a few listener rumblings about what a good guy to know should know about babies – and we are starting to have some first-hand experience. My first kid is 2 months old now – Chad’s is almost one month – and Perek’s got one on the way.  So I would by no means call us experts, but we’ll struggle through it.

So as I was trying to think of how to structure the content for this pillar. Especially because one of the things I’ve found with both pregnancy and kids, is that there is a mountain of information. We got no less than 10 baby books while Val was pregnant, and when we have a problem now, googling also give you WAY too much information. So I’ve decided on a few topics that interested me about child-rearing that weren’t really in any of the books I read, and by extension, are things that I never really thought about until they were upon us. This is stuff that our parents maybe didn’t have to think about when they were raising us 3 decades ago.  So I found two of these that we’ll see how they go, and then with the remaining time, I’ve got some random tips/observations too that I can rattle off rapid-fire.

So – one of the first things that I suppose I kind of saw coming, but is also kind of a rabbit-hole when it comes to child-rearing is screen time. Here’s a good story from NPR on the topic. I want us to think back to when we were kids. We certainly had TV back then, but we probably had 1 screen our house so it wasn’t really a ‘tool’ that our parents had at their disposal. Eventually by the time I graduated high school, we were up to 3 TVs, and a computer. I just counted the screens in my house right now and came up with 2 TVs, 4 computers, 2 smart phones, and 2 Ipads.

This is something that hasn’t really been heavily studied because it’s so new, so I honestly couldn’t find any great definitive studies on what this much exposure does to kids/babies – but I would direct you to  great article from a guy called Ben Popper of “The Verge” entitled “Is Technology Scrambling my Baby’s Brain?” It gives a pretty balanced approach and does link to some studies. A few great points that the makes:

  • Every new technology has been demonized and said that it’s going to harm our children. For instance, in 1835 – an educational society said that “The perpetual reading” of novels “inevitably operates to exclude thought, and in the youthful mind to stint the opening mental faculties, by favoring unequal development. No one can have time for reflection, who reads at this rapid rate”
  • There is a huge difference between Passive and Active consumption of all of our new ‘screen’ technology. Again, the studies are few and small, but there was one where a professor taught two groups of children new words. One just watched a video, and the other had to touch a screen to produce an outcome. The interactive kids did better.
    • As a side bar to this, I feel like this is how we (the good guys to know) used to watch TV when we lived together. We were constantly critiquing commercials, calling out bad writing in sit-coms, and trying to crack jokes. I would call this active TV watching, and it was probably not as bad as just sitting  and vegging out.

So Popper lands on the fact that we need a balanced approach. I think a lot of people (myself included) feel a little queasy when we hear stories about kids that cant talk but can open candy crush on their mom’s ipad – but I think that goes in the active category that common sense says we shouldn’t worry too much about as long as we are “sharing” the experience with the kid. But plopping them in front of the TV for a sponge-bob marathon is probably not the greatest idea.


The second thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is social media. Namely facebook – and how much, if any, and who, should be posting pictures on facebook of babies/kids. This gets really touchy and as you can imagine, there are two really entrenched camps.  So before we get into it, let’s do some statistics. So in a study by Microsoft Research, found that 62% of mom’s with kids under the age of 3 use facebook. Of those, 96% have posted pictures of their children online! So it’s ubiquitous. And Chad will back me up – that it’s easy to see why – babies are fricken cute, we are proud of our progeny and want to share it with our friends.

So nothing really seems inherently wrong with this. And we were proceeding just fine. We knew we didn’t want to bombard facebook with constant photos, but didn’t really think twice about the few that we have posted. That all changed the moment that one of my wife’s friends posted something of him. Something just felt weird and wrong about it as I saw other people who weren’t friends with me commenting on it. So this sent me down another rabbit hole of “should I post pictures of my kids on facebook” articles. I found this one that I think does a good job of talking through the three most commonly cited ‘risks’ to posting pictures of your children online, and I’d love to get your guys thoughts on these:

  • Creep-os find pictures of your kid and download them and do bad things. This one they pretty much dismiss as being pretty alarmist. Crime against children research center told the new York times that predators don’t usually find their victims online (sadly).
  • Someone steals your kid’s identity. I didn’t even realize this, but one of the first things you do when you “announce” your kid on facebook is to give people their full name, and date of birth. So there’s a slight chance that identity thieves might use all of this to figure out their social security number, or open a credit card in their name or something. While that’s rare, the more insidious one here I think, is that your child may get passed off as someone else’s.
    • Mitch’s addendum to this – I don’t want someone seeing some super cute or funny picture of my kid and turning it into a meme or a video turning into a GIF. What if this was your kid? Or one of these.
    • Do some privacy settings help with this? Maybe if they are yours, but maybe not others.
  • The most thought provoking one – When your kid grows up, he’s going to inherit an entire digital history that he never made or wanted. Should I be creating a permanent identity for my kid online? Who knows what is going to be searchable editable by then? This is something that wasn’t even close to being the case 15 years ago.

My 2 cents is that there are way better ways to share photos with your friends and family. We use google+ and photostream ourselves, but there are a million other ones. Sure you could also cull your facebook friends to ONLY the people you want to share with, but I don’t think that a lot of us really want to do this. The voyeur in me still wants to be able to check up on ex-girlfriends, see who from high school is doing well/poorly, etc. So why even mess with doing anything on facebook, especially when you are creating an identity for someone who doesn’t have a say. What do you guys think?

Finally – some rapid-fire advice on my first 2 months of fatherhood and technology:

  • When you are researching a topic online, like sleep strategies – read all the articles you want, but NEVER read the comments. Kind of like the real world, people LOVE giving advice and telling everyone else how they are wrong. Case and point, just google “Cry it out” and read the comments on the first few articles. It will make you feel horrible.
  • Breast-feeding app. My wife is breast-feeding, and even though it’s more automatic now, the first few weeks there is kind of an obsession with how many times they get fed, how long they fed for, how many diapers they had etc. This is a perfect thing to use an app for. There is an added bonus here in that you as the dad can feel like you’re doing something by entering the data.
  • White noise app + Bluetooth speaker – I’ll fully admit, we are having trouble getting our dude to sleep in his crib. My wife suggested we buy a white noise machine – but we already have everything we need with a phone and wireless speaker. I think theoretically this is going to work very well.
  • You’re not going to need nearly as many clothes as you think. Not sure if this is really a tip or not, but our kid has a rotation of about 4 onesies. And we received approximately 400 of them at various showers etc.
  • Buy a decent camera and spend a bit o ftime learning to use it. Get familiar with the rapid-fire setting because volume is your friend. I’d say that about 95% of the pictures I take of my kid he either looks unhappy, or inhuman. But that other 5% he looks like a baby model. Those are the ones that make it to google+.




Did you participate in our last challenge to be conscious of how often and boldly you lie in your day to day life? I imagine a lot of listeners are wonderful people and never lie, but I still think it’s a fascinating topic. I recently read Lying by Sam Harris. It was a fast and interesting read, I recommend checking it out. This episode I’ll go over some of the main points from the book. Thanks for listening!



Why do we think that listeners want to hear about coffee? Well, to start with, just about everybody in the world drinks coffee, and a lot of it! Coffee is so heavily consumed that it’s total consumption in Europe and the U.S. is about 1/3 the consumption of WATER! Futhermore, around 7 million metric tons of coffee are produced each year and the average America spends just over $1000 dollars on coffee every year. So yeah, chances are you have tried and continue to drink it on a regular basis. At the same time, it’s hard to drum up a scintillating conversation about coffee. So have a listen to our latest podcast and learn some fun facts about the world’s favorite beverage. Plus, we interview a local coffee enthusiast and former barista about how to handle yourself at your local coffee house. Thanks for listening!coffee_guy_nw

How To Be More Memorable


memorableSo I’m going to blatantly rip off a post from a great website called Art of Manliness. It’s a guest post from John Corcoran and is about how to be more memorable. As I read it, I realized it was a great follow up to my pillar several months ago on ‘how to win friends and influence people.’ If you remember that podcast, it focused very much on remembering other people and treating them with respect and attention. This is the other side of that coin, on how you can help others remember you.

John has written a series of guest posts for Art of Manliness and also has a free e-book that you can download about networking.

Here are some strategies for approaching common questions differently – We’ll start with what’s your name:

  1. Repeat your answer: This works great for ‘what’s your name.’ This is the exact parallel strategy that we talked about in the How to Win Friends and Influence people post – but from the other side. Throughout the conversation, make it easy for that person to remember your name by repeating it subtly. “I was really nervous about getting here on time, but I said to myself, ‘Mitch – you are early everywhere you go – don’t worry about it”
  2. If you have an unusual name, explain the origin as an excuse to repeat it. Don’t just explain it, but SAY it again. This one is just pure science that repetition will help the person burn it into their brains.
  3. Tell a story about how you got your name: The example Corcoran uses is if your name is Steve, (boring) but you were named after Steve McQueen the actor, you might say: “My dad was a huge fan of Steve McQueen’s movies back when I was born. My mom was dead set against it, but they made a deal where he got to name me Steve, and she got to name my sister Anne, after the character in her favorite book, Anne of Green Gables.”
  4. Create a personal association: You hear this one a lot – where you’ll introduce yourself and they’ll say “Oh, I have an uncle named Chad.” (I never quite believe them when I hear this) but nonetheless, they are trying to remember you, so you can help them by asking them some questions about their uncle. Also gives you an excuse to say the name again? “Oh, and where does your uncle Chad live?” Whether or not they’re bullshitting you, they’ll have to answer and remember that your name is Chad.


Let’s tackle the question of ‘What do you do?’

  1. This one is genius – ask a question back. So a lot of people, myself included ask this question, and then no matter what the person tells them, it’s gone in one ear and out the other and I’ve already stopped listening/remembering. Asking a question back is a way to snap them out of this cycle. So someone ask me what I do for a living.

“So you remember back in 2007 when the stock market totally tanked, and hedge funds got blamed for all of the shady investments that people like Bernie Madoff were making? So hedge funds still exists, but now these super rich people that invest in them want a company like mine to handle certain parts of their business, so that they don’t get into that same trouble again. I work on technology projects in that space.”

This is better than saying “I’m an IT consultant for a Hedge Fund Administrator”

  1. Be clear and avoid trying to be overly clever: This basically boils down to knowing – or taking your best guess at your audience. So the answer I gave above would work on most of my peers, but when I used to talk with my grandparents about my job, I told them I work on a computers for a bank. Cater your level of specificity to your audience so they are more likely to remember.


Finally, the question: ‘Where are you from’

  1. Be a black sheep in a sea of white sheep. Rather than just saying – “I’m from the Minneapolis area” – I might say something like “I’m from Minnepolis – And I just found out that we have more golfers per capita than any other city in the US – which is wild because we are in pretty much a deep freeze 4 months out of the year”


Thanks for listening – send along any other great tips you may know about how to be more memorable!



Car Sharing


images-2I recently spent some time in Portland for a friend’s wedding.  A big group of us went and we needed to rent a couple of cars.  After talking about how expensive the car was to rent, it was suggested by a listener that we should do a podcast about car sharing.  Well – here is that podcast.

Car sharing is all over the place in Minneapolis, but I’ve never gotten close enough to using a car share to actually look into how they work or what they cost.  I decided to take a quick peek into 3 local options in Minneapolis:  Car2Go, ZipCar, and HourCar.  ZipCar and Car2Go are likely available in your area too if you live in a metropolitan area – check out their websites to see full availability.

All 3 companies do things a little differently, but the basic premise is the same.  You don’t have a car, but you need one, sometimes with zero notice.  Car2Go allows you to check your phone to see if any cars are available near you.  If you are lucky enough to be close to one, just walk up to it, swipe your Car2GoPass, and you are off.  ZipCar and HourCar have convenient fixed pick-up locations around town.  Reserve one, and pick it up from one of those locations.

When you are finished, leave your Car2Go in a valid parking spot (no need to return it to where you got it!), or return your ZipCar/HourCar back to the location you picked it up from.  Pretty simple stuff.

The Main factor that differentiates these 3 companies is the pricing structure.  ZipCar and HourCar have monthly/annual subscription models, and then charge around 8 bucks an hour or so while you are driving their vehicles.  Car2Go has a 38 cents per minute price that makes it really attractive for shorter trips, but also has hourly and daily rates if you need it longer.  2 plans cost money to join – 35 bucks for Car2Go and 25 bucks for ZipCar.  I couldn’t find an initiation fee for HourCar, so I can’t confirm if it is free or not (I doubt it).

Comparing the per minute/hour/mile/day pricing can be a bit of a hassle, I go into all the details in this episode.  Zach Shaner from the Seattle Transit Blog also did some similar research last summer and published a cool chart to help visualize some of the comparisons between Car2Go and ZipCar.  As you can see, with a cheap per minute rate but a more expensive per hour rate – Car2Go is a great deal for very short trips (< 25 minutes).  If you are using one quite often and use it for more than 25 minutes or so, you may want to look into one of the monthly plans from ZipCar or HourCar.


Check out the detailed pricing structures at their websites!

The Zipper Merge


What is The Zipper Merge?

The Zipper Merge, also called the late merge is a method for merging traffic into a reduced number of lanes. It is most effectively used in situations where there is a large amount of traffic.


What does the zipper merge accomplish?

Interesting, the zipper merge has not been found to increase the number of vehicles that pass a point over a given time period. But it does significantly reduce the length of the backup line (by up to 40%) and most importantly reduces the difference in speed between the two lanes, which improves safety.

One problem with the zipper merge is that it goes against what most people think is the polite way to merge into a single lane. In an effort to ease the concerns of your average driver, many states have campaigns to promote the zipper merge and in Belgium drivers are required by law to use the zipper merge! Two U.S. states that have published statements on the zipper merge are Washington and Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation actually has a statement regarding the zipper merge. Sue Groth, MnDOT traffic safety and technology director was recently quoted saying “raising awareness for motorists to use the zipper merge in construction zones will help reduce crashes, speeds and congestion.” The zipper merge is even mentioned in the MN state drivers license manual.


The zipper merge code of conduct:

  1. Continue as long as possible on the merging lane;
  2. At about 300 meters before the bottleneck (marked with a traffic sign), adjust to the speed of the vehicles driving on the adjacent lane;
  3. Vehicles driving on the adjacent lane deliberately make room for the merging vehicle;
  4. At about 50 meters before the bottleneck, without braking or disturbance of the created space, the vehicle merges. Thus the merging vehicle and the vehicle behind it can continue their ride.


Where’s the data you ask? Check out this report from Wayne State University which was submitted to the Michigan DOT in 2007.

Their findings are summarized as follows: normal work zones with lane closures, drivers do not merge at any one definite point, thus causing sudden interruption in traffic flow and sometimes higher delay. The dynamic late lane merge system (DLLMS) was used to identify a definite merge point, improve the flow of the congested freeway work zones and reduce queue lengths in the freeway travel lanes. During the 2006 construction season, the DLLMS was implemented on three freeway segments in southern Michigan. Each work zone segment involved a lane closure from two to one lane. Based on the travel time characteristics, queue, merge locations, and throughput, the effectiveness of the DLLMS was evaluated by the Wayne State University Transportation Research Group. Before period data was not available, so a conventional work zone merge system located on EB I-94 was used as a control site for the WB I-94 test site. Since the two I-69 test sites are approximately 150 miles away from the EB I-94 control site, the I-94 control site could not be used as a control for the I-69 sites. When comparing the I-94 control and test sites, the presence of the DLLMS improved the flow of traffic and increased the percentage of merging vehicles that merge.

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Reality Rush


This episode we welcome Justin Walter of Reality Rush to GGTK. We chat about his company that puts on competitive events based on reality TV game shows, geek out about survivor, and spend some time recapping the ‘Outlast’ challenge he put on for Mitch’s birthday a few weeks ago. Follow him on facebook/twitter/instagram – and if you haven’t watched Survivor since the first season – GET BACK IN THE GAME!

Recognize any Good Guys in this pic? **SPOILER ALERT IN THE CAPTION OF THIS PICTURE**

Mitch is about to get voted out of his own birthday party at this Tribal council…

Happy 4th of July!


I’ve been celebrating the 4th of July forever. Going to the lake and lighting off some fireworks was always a fun time growing up, and still is today. I’d like to talk about some of the basic history of the 4th of July.

The 4th of July is obviously our Independence Day. Independence of course from Great Britain, duh, but what happened on July 4th that made it a federal holiday. The answer has some interesting history. The declaration of independence, written (mostly by Thomas Jefferson) in 1776. On July 2nd 1776, the continental congress actually voted in favor of independence from Great Britain. Prominent figures from that time actually cited July 2nd as our day of independence.

John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest. Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826–the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

He (John Adams) once wrote his wife, “July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

The continental Congress formally adopted the declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776.

Early celebrations were actually similar to how we do things today, with concerts, bonfires, artillery fire and PUBLIC READINGS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. George Washington even gave double rations of rum to the soldiers on July 4th on 2 separate occasions (1778 and 1781).

Congress didn’t make July 4th a national holiday until 1870. It was made a federal paid holiday for government employees in 1941.