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When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s, I used to ramble thoughts into a cassette recorder - something that by 1992 would lead to me (at age 15) conducting interviews with bands on cable access, all captured by low-res VHS. After seeing my daughters do similar rambling on video, I realized that this is the 2017 version of what I used to do circa 1983 with that tape deck. The raw video embedded below inspired our latest YouTube series, "Finley's Thoughts on Things." She'll be telling you about all kinds of stuff that interests an almost five-year-old, starting with why Daddy (me - "The Rock Father") hates Snapchat, Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories and any other use of vertical video. Seriously, Vertical Video Syndrome (VVS) is a terrible plague that needs to be completely eradicated. Finn is much cuter in how she explains it, though. Take a look...

I never knew the feeling prior to becoming a parent, but once you have children, there is nothing more important - nor terrifying - than the health and well-being of your little ones. My wife and I have been fortunate to have had no major issues thus far, but for so many others, the journey has been much harder. You always hear the saying "the struggle is real," and for one family near Boston, indeed - the struggle is not only very real, but a series of battles that started before the birth of their son, Ari "Danger" Schultz. Their little guy was identified as having heart issues while still in the womb, and he soon became the first person to ever undergo two successful heart surgeries before birth. Now four years old, Ari just received a new heart this month (after 211 days on the waiting list) and is going through some harsh "rejection" as his body works to accept his new organ. As if being entrenched in an ongoing war for their son's life wasn't enough (in addition to raising other children), Ari's family was dealt another blow when they recently found that their home is a "tear-down" thanks to extensive water damage, black mold and fungus. Sadly, their insurance will hardly cover it, and because of that, a GoFundMe account has been established to help them on their way. Check out the video below...

Five years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (indeed, cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). In 2015, I posted again, noting that little bits had changed, like Cracker Barrel restaurants playing into the hands of Big Tobacco (presumably) not knowing it, and the rise of the e-cig and vape crowd, followed in 2016 by an update. Today I am posting once again, as it's the six-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: As I've warned before, with each passing year, the targets on the backs of your companies and leadership continue to grow...

March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.

Presented in collaboration with Life of Dad and The Walt Disney Company.

Not long into the first act of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana, there’s a scene where the young Polynesian princess (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) flat-out disobeys her father. As the leader of the island of Motunui, Chief Tui Waialiki (Temuera Morrison) maintains a firm, yet humble demeanor - looking after the care of his people, though nothing is more important to him than the well-being of his daughter.

Friday, December 30 2016 13:45

2016 Rock Father Greatest Hits: Racing into 2017...

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Last year, at this same time, I sat here in my office at Rock Father HQ, taking stock of the year that was about to be behind us. I don't believe that I'd ever done such a proper year-end wrap-up, but when I posted my "2015 Greatest Hits," I declared that "it's all downhill from here." I don't know if that was really accurate, but from a site standpoint, I can tell you that I ended 2016 with a bang - November and December were the biggest traffic months in the history of THE ROCK FATHER Magazine... and I'm just getting started. 

My wife is not a big fan of my fashion sense (or lack, thereof). In fact, she's long noted the fact that I "dress like I'm 15" (her words), and with few exceptions - such as when I'm attending a red carpet premiere in Los Angeles), her thoughts are very accurate. I've adopted what I often note as my "uniform" - much like late Apple CEO (and nemesis of PC guys like myself) Steve Jobs was once known for wearing the same thing every day (black turtle neck, jeans, tennis shoes), I'm usually wearing a t-shirt, cargo shorts (generally camo), skate shoes and a chain wallet. For the latter item, I've been wearing a Boba Fett edition that I purchased at Spencer's last year, and for the sake of styling, there's actually three chains on it right now - the "stock" chain that came with it, one from a Walmart chain wallet, and a longer one from Hot Topic. Indeed, I do dress like I'm 15 - despite being closer to three times that. "Chain wallets are stupid," scoffs my wife on frequent occasion, and while I do like the way they look - I truly wear them for another, more important reason: to avoid being pickpocketed at all the theme parks and event locations that we constantly visit with The Rock Daughters™. Today I ran into someone else that had a problem with my Boba Fett chain wallet, and that was security at one of our most frequently-visited spots: Six Flags Great America, right here in Lake County, Illinois. What happened at the gate is a prime lesson in why consistency is so important in any job (especially service industries), and an important reminder that sometimes "it's not what you say, but how you say it" that can make all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, June 15 2016 01:03

Rock Father's Day: A Time to Say "Thanks, Baby"

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This #RockFathersDay feature is brought to you in partnership with Life of Dad and Pampers. #ThanksBaby!

Seven years ago this August... and again four years ago this week, babies were born, and so was "The Rock Father." - My wife and I were driving south on I-94 outside of Chicago in November of 2008. We were on our way to a Thanksgiving gathering that was happening pre-Thanksgiving, and she turned to me very quickly and said "I think you knocked me up." That was the moment that I first realized that I'd soon become a Father for the very first time. The weight of things didn't really hit me, but I remember smiling ear-to-ear and just thinking, "OK - let's do this!" She was afraid that I'd be unhappy about the news - especially because just the night before... I'd been on the phone with my Mom, who was shopping at Target with a couple of my step-brother's kids - and as they were acting out and being naughty - I made some quip about "this is why we don't have kids!" Funny thing is, I've always been good with kids - but there's also definitely an "old me" versus the man who I've become. On August 7, 2009 - our 10th Wedding Anniversary - our first daughter, Adalyn, was born. We liked the experience so much that we prepped a sequel, and were back at the hospital four years ago today - June 15, 2012, for the release of our second "Rock Daughter," baby Finley! The personal change that I've experienced as a father is undeniable, and both I and my wife have our girls to thank for it.

I try to keep things fun and lighthearted around here, yet the world won't let me. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to look at the news and think "didn't know them," or "don't care," but the reality is, I care... we all care. I have a bad habit of waking up to horrible news, a habit that I'm well-aware is shared by many, with 9/11 and the disintegration of Space Shuttle Columbia being two examples of where I simply opened my eyes to see the tragedy on television. Social media wasn't full-blown back then, and today I made the mistake of checking my phone first-thing... still in bed, but with my wife at my side and my girls playing. The news that something terrible had happened in Orlando -- just days after another heinous act in that city -- was unavoidable, as were the never-ending "thoughts and prayers" delivered by the tens of thousands via status update and tweet, none more insincere than those delivered by politicians, with tweets by some such as GNC Chair Reince Priebus being called out for essentially being "copied and pasted" from their statements about past tragedies. Sandy Hook, Boston, that jerk in Fox Lake - we're long-past the whole "truth is stranger than fiction" thing, because real life is more twisted and terrifying than any media created for purpose of entertainment or to be fear-provoking.  This country is a mess, and "thoughts and prayers" will do nothing to help anyone... but the proper actions and reactions just might.

Thursday, May 26 2016 23:54

Journal: Lessons from Park Forest...

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Originally Posted as a Status Update on Facebook...

Seeing Park Forest, Illinois as the #1 Trending Topic on my Facebook Feed is interesting -- seeing folks from around the country commenting on a place they've probably never heard of, but one I know all too well. Let me tell you this - there is no town or city on this planet that I DESPISE in the way I do Park Forest. I grew up there - in fact, just .06 miles (about a 10 minute walk) from where the FBI had a shootout yesterday. It was a miserable place to grow up 30-40 years ago (though I have some good memories as well) -- a place that looks and feels to me like "alternate 1985" in BACK TO THE FUTURE II... right down to the houses and streets.

Four years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (indeed, cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). In 2015, I posted again, and since then little bits have changed, like Cracker Barrel restaurants playing into the hands of Big Tobacco (presumably) not knowing it, and the rise of the e-cig and vape crowd. Today I am posting once again, as it's the five-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: The targets on the backs of your companies and leadership continue to grow...

March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.

Note: An Election Day update 11/8/2016 follows this post:

In an election year, it's hard to keep politics away from my virtual pages as I'd like to. It's divisive, and that's not what being "The Rock Father" is all about. If you'd like to be irritated about others' choices for parties and candidates, Facebook is the place for you - the unfriendly confines of uninhibited emotion and tactless behavior. The memes and insults fly fast, their impact accepted with a mix of likes and emoticons, or in some cases the dreaded "hide post," "hide all posts" or at the worst, an unfriending. I approach politics with an interesting view - the child of a former politician, and some of what I dealt with as a kid sorta messed me up to the point where I wouldn't run for office myself, despite a desire to do so*. Last night, I found myself at the Hillary Clinton rally in Vernon Hills, Illinois - not as a Hillary supporter, but as a neutral party and undecided voter in this election (I'm a registered Independent that refuses to align with any Party). Honestly, I think this is the worst field of candidates in a Presidential election that I've ever seen in my adult life - and if I had to choose today, a vote for Batman would inspire more confidence than what I'm seeing take shape for the ballot. The bigger picture is that my wife and I are the parents of two daughters, and for perhaps the first time in history, there is a real chance that a woman could become President of the United States of America, and seeing Hillary in-person was a chance to show the girls that achieving a lofty goal like becoming President doesn't have to be an unattainable dream, but that it could be a real possibility

This year, nearly 16,000 kids and teens in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer. As a parent, the thought of one of our children being affected is absolutely terrifying. No matter who you are or where you are, we all know too many people that have been touched by this disease, and when it's kids... the urge to fight back burns an unstoppable fire. For parents Jeff Castelaz and Jo Ann Thraikill, that fire burns in honor of their son, Pablo Castelaz, who was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms Tumor, a rare form of childhood cancer. After a valiant fight against the disease, Pablo died just six days past his sixth birthday on June 27, 2009. Today, The Pablove Foundation exists to fight cancer on a daily basis, offering support for families, including programs for children living with the disease, and fund-raising efforts to aid in research. Today comes word of some events in several cities that you might want to get involved with...

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