Archive | April, 2016

Science For Giggles

7 Apr

for giggles header

Letter Knowledge. Understanding. Reason. Critical thinking. Problem solving. These are inextricable parts of my DNA as much as any gene sequence. I am a scientist (amongst other things) at the very core of my soul. I taught science to middle schoolers, and indeed at every chance I get today. I’m a practitioner of science in my professional life. I’m an advocate for science in the lives of my children.

I wince at the idea of “science” as a religion. Instead I think of the scientific method as the best way to approach problem solving. It doesn’t require brute-logic. Quite the contrary. It requires creative, outside-the-box thinking. It’s a methodology that is applicable to every problem life can throw at you, and when properly applied, can never fail.

My daughter with her heroes... and her dorky dad.

My daughter with her heroes… and her dorky dad.

On the social side of things, the Socratic Method, which dovetails nicely into the scientific method, is a way of relating to other people of different backgrounds and understandings. It eschews adherence to dogmatic thinking and values back and forth dialogue to eventually, rationally, resolve a difference of opinion.

Showing "The Hyneman" her Mythbusters-inspired science fair project.

Showing “The Hyneman” her Mythbusters-inspired science fair project.

Lace all of that with a hearty distaste for self-righteousness, add a steady diet of silliness with a generous helping of the dork-factor, and these are the values I am passing along to my children.

Distil those ingredients down to its purest essence, infuse it into pop-culture, let it marinate for 14 years and out of the oven comes a piping-hot helping of “Mythbusters” – my enthusiasm for which has been well documented in this blog. Yes, the show reached its finale’ some time ago but its host Adam Savage continues to be the standard bearer for fun-loving advocacy of scientific thought, creative thinking, and all things dorky.

Episode V got to go to the show the next year.

Episode V got to go to the show the next year.

In the post-Mythbusters world Adam has shifted his professional attentions to the website where all the above-mentioned values are on full display. The site regularly produces content aimed directly at people like me. In their regular podcasts Adam has even talked (among other things) about his perspective on parenting and fatherhood which is, frankly, profound, insightful and eloquent. (In fact I have been trying like hell for the past year and a half to get an interview with him on just that topic… to no avail.)

A very gracious Adam taking time for a very tired boy after a event.

A very gracious Adam taking time for a very tired boy after a event.

In any case, today offered up a delightful video that embodies everything I’ve outlined above, so much so that I felt compelled to share it. It’s as much a video about DIY problem solving as it is utterly ridiculous silliness. Scientific thought doesn’t always have to be applied to world-changing problems. Sometimes it can just be about making yourself giggle. If I was still teaching middle school this video would be my lesson for the day.

Watch it. Watch it with your kids. When they’re done watching, if they’re anything like my kids I bet any money they’re going to head straight to the toolbox and start building…

…I hope you let them.



Promise Delivered

4 Apr

Promise Header

letter A few weeks ago the people behind the marketing efforts for STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS contacted me. They said they’d like to send me a package of Star Wars goodies, including a copy of the Blu-Ray, in exchange for me hosting and blogging about a viewing party. HAH! The joke was on them – as if I needed to be bribed to host a Star Wars viewing party. The plan was for the goodies to arrive the Thursday before the digital download release of the movie (Friday, April 1st), host the party and write a blog post about it before the hardcopy release (today).

What my house would look like if I was single.

What my house would look like if I was single.

So naturally I tapped into the local dorky-dad network, inviting a few friends and their kids over for a Saturday afternoon viewing party. The date was cleared with UnDorkMommy. The invitations were sent. RSVP’s were received. The only thing left was the receipt of the magic package from the Star Wars people themselves.

Parties need pillows

Parties need pillows

As these things go, when bloggers are part of a big promotional campaign like this one, the typical pattern is that the east coast dads get the packages before the west coast dads do. It’s sort of fun to watch in real time over social media the packages work their way west as they arrive on the doorsteps of my colleagues. out of Chicago and out of Pensylvania respectively posted these pictures early on the 2nd, letting the rest of us know what we could expect when the box arrived.

Rumored treasure

Rumored treasure

So it was with great anticipation that I rushed home from work on Thursday, the expected day of delivery, to find waiting for me on my front porch…

…absolutely nothing.

Some light reading material

Some light reading material

That’s OK. I’m on the west coast and it takes a little longer for these things to get out here. The party wasn’t until Saturday. Plenty of time. Friday came and went exactly the same, and after the mail lady sadly shook her head at me on Saturday morning “Nope. Sorry, still no package for you” it was clear that Star Wars Santa wasn’t going to visit before the appointed party time.

Choose your weapon at the door

Choose your weapon at the door, also from California, reported that the Star Wars goodie box he was expecting never materialized either, and it looked like his viewing party was off.

Everyone's here!

Everyone’s here!

But I am DorkDaddy after all. I have a reputation to uphold. I couldn’t let a little thing like no Blu-Ray get between me, my fellow dorks, our kids and Star Wars viewing amazingness!! So up in the attic I went to pull down all the stuff UnDorkMommy typically won’t allow in the house otherwise. The boys had a ball helping me decorate the living room into what it would probably look like if I was a swinging bachelor. A veggie platter from the store and a pizza delivery took care of the snacks. All we needed was the movie itself. One digital download later and BAM! It was party time.

Where's Ray? There she is.

Where’s Ray? There she is.

Needless to say, as you can see from the pictures, the party was amazing!

The Force is indeed strong in my family.

The Force is indeed strong in my family.

An Email from my contact at the marketing group came through later on Sunday. She apologized, confirming that there was a problem with the shipping to us west coast dads. But I’m not mad. I’m just grateful that they even thought of me in the first place. Because after all, this was the weekend STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS was released on Blu-Ray and digital download…

…and that makes us all winners.


-Dork Dad

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