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How Do You Talk To Kids About Hard Things?

Posted on October 2, 2015 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

You may see this picture of the squadron patch on Facebook to honor those who lost their lives today.  To those we lost, a toast...

This is a picture of the patch from the squadron that lost 6 of their own today with the black stripe in memorial.

I really do mean that as a question because I don’t know the answer.

In case you were wondering what brought on this somber topic, let me tell you.  I have no idea how much coverage it is getting in the states right now, but a C-130J crashed in Afghanistan this morning near the city of Jalalabad.  Many of the details are unclear at this time but it seems pretty clear from the reports that the entire crew of 6 lost their lives in the crash.

Now this would make me pause no matter what as every life that is lost in the defense of our country is special to me, but this one really strikes a lot closer to home for a number of reasons.  The most obvious reason is that I fly on the C-130, though an older model, and it is likely that I either know some of the crew, or at least have close friends that do.  The second reason is that I have been to the place where this happened multiple times while I was deployed.

Maybe the biggest reason this is striking me so hard is that this was the first time I have had to explain something like this to my kids, and I have no idea how to do it.  My wife actually told them about it before I got home, and who really knows how much they understand, but it is just something that I am finding challenging to think about, let alone explain to my kids.  They know that I fly airplanes and even that it is the C-130, which makes me super proud that they know what it is, and they even understand that it can be dangerous if I’m not careful.

When I deployed we were very clear with them about how daddy need to go away from home for a little while to try and help people who needed it.  It was hard on them but they were pretty tough most of the time.  Even with all of that, how do you explain to them that some other kids will never see their daddy again because of an accident doing the same job that you do every day?

Just to be clear I think it is important to talk about things like this because it is reality.  The nature of my work is a dangerous one, and there are inherent risks.  We do an amazing job mitigating those risks, but tragedies like this still happen.  If we allow our kids to live in a bubble where they think everything is flowers and fairies then I don’t think they will be able to deal with the tragedies that ultimately do happen.  On the other hand, we also don’t want to scare them to the point that they never want to take risks or make mistakes because then we are only selling them short of their full potential.

The more I think about this I don’t think there really is a good answer because every kid and every situation is different.  But what I do think is important is to talk to our kids when tragedies happen so that they aren’t just left to wonder.  It is not easy to deal with tragedy, but learning to cope is an essential life skill that can easily get overlooked if we don’t do our jobs as parents.

In closing I would ask you to take a moment to think about those who lost their lives today in defense of our freedoms.  If you are a religious person I am sure their families can use all of the prayers you can spare.  If you aren’t, take an extra moment to hug your family today because your ability to do so is exactly why so many of us do what we do.

To those we lost, a toast…

Happy 4th of July!

Posted on July 3, 2015 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

This rendition of Amazing Grace by Condoleezza Rice & Jenny Oaks Baker was a perfect way for me to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend. I hope it will be a great way for you to celebrate it too.

As I side note, I have many fond memories of Jenny Oaks Baker playing at church and stories from my best friend doing a semester in Jerusalem with her. It’s amazing to see how she’s been able to go so far.

Note: This was scheduled to appear on the 3rd, but it looks like I accidentally added a 1 and it posted the 13th. Oh well, the video is still amazing a week after the 4th of July.

The Value of Living Modestly

Posted on December 28, 2014 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

When I started Crash Dad, I knew that one of the posts I wanted to do was talking about the value of living modestly. Today I saw a thread on this Dad Blogger Facebook group I recently joined that felt like the perfect prompt to write about this subject.

During college, I took an accounting class with the incomparable Norm Nemrow (more on his story in future posts). The class was almost all video recordings except for 8 in person classes. In just a few of those classes, Norm had more impact on me and my future life (financial and otherwise) than pretty much any other professor ever.

One of the principles he taught me in these few in person classes was the value of living modestly. Since we were college students, he framed it in a really interesting way. He told us that as college students we had something incredibly valuable: we could live on nothing! He then suggested that when we graduated from college and got our first job with a real paycheck that we not go crazy and grow our spending to meet what we were making. Sure, we didn’t have to keep eating Ramen noodles every day, but we shouldn’t change our lifestyle to meet our new salary.

The key concept he was teaching us was to live modestly!

The concept of living modestly has literally transformed my life in so many good ways. The value of living modestly is great in at least two key ways. First, when you live modestly, you are able to save your excess earnings. There’s an amazing security that comes with having a chunk of change in the bank. At first, those savings will be there for you when emergencies arise (car breaks down, A/C breaks, water heater dies, visits to the doctor, etc). Those unexpected expenses come, but over time you can build up a savings that handles those emergencies while still saving for the future.

The second benefit to living modestly is you don’t need as much money to live. I would have never been able to quit my job if our lifestyle had grown to match our salary. We would have had no savings, and my blogs would not have been making enough income for me to quit my day job without a drastic reduction in how we lived. Instead, because we lived modestly, my blogs covered 75% of what we needed to live. Our savings covered the other 25% we needed to live which meant we had ~15 months for me to grow the blogs to cover 100% of what we needed to live. I’ll do a future post that dives into these numbers more, but I would not be a full time blogger if we didn’t choose to live modestly. At least not without drastically changing our lifestyle. Instead, we were able to quit my day job and become a full time blogger with really no change to our lifestyle.

The freedom of job flexibility is something that can’t be understated. I’m not saying you have to quit your job and become an entrepreneur like me. However, living modestly might mean that you could change from a job that pays well but sucks to one that pays enough but is great. Options like this make life so much better.

Unfortunately, the opposite is far too common. Instead of living modestly, most people are living beyond their means. The impact of living beyond your means is the exact opposite of living modestly. Don’t get sucked into the trap. I know it’s tempting, but it’s a choice you can make that will change your life for good or bad.

If you can’t tell, I’m really passionate about this topic. You can be sure I’ll be writing about the benefits of living modestly a lot more in the future. I have a lot more examples of how it’s changed our lives.

What do you think of the concept of living modestly?

The Interview and Some of What the Sony Hack Means

Posted on December 19, 2014 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been keeping up with all the details of Sony being hacked, the terrorist threats around the release of The Interview and all the other scandal that’s occurred because of the hack. You’d think I would since it’s a hacking thing and I’m a tech guy. I just haven’t had time lately. Plus, it seems like a new hack of a large company is coming out every week or so. It’s hard to keep up.

However, I did get the chance to read this fascinating interview with George Clooney about the broader implications of pulling The Interview from theaters. In his first answer he really sums up well his viewpoint:

A good portion of the press abdicated its real duty. They played the fiddle while Rome burned. There was a real story going on. With just a little bit of work, you could have found out that it wasn’t just probably North Korea; it was North Korea. The Guardians of Peace is a phrase that Nixon used when he visited China. When asked why he was helping South Korea, he said it was because we are the Guardians of Peace. Here, we’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have. This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That’s the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down. Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.

We have a new paradigm, a new reality, and we’re going to have to come to real terms with it all the way down the line. This was a dumb comedy that was about to come out. With the First Amendment, you’re never protecting Jefferson; it’s usually protecting some guy who’s burning a flag or doing something stupid. This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this. That’s not just Sony, but all of us, including my good friends in the press who have the responsibility to be asking themselves: What was important? What was the important story to be covering here? The hacking is terrible because of the damage they did to all those people. Their medical records, that is a horrible thing, their Social Security numbers. Then, to turn around and threaten to blow people up and kill people, and just by that threat alone we change what we do for a living, that’s the actual definition of terrorism.

While I don’t think one movie being pulled is going to result in the dire outcomes that Clooney describes in the interview, I think it is an important discussion to have. In fact, it reminds me of the discussion we had after 9/11. Do you go back to work or do you hide? The strong sentiment after 9/11 was that we had to go back to work to show the terrorists that they didn’t win. I think it’s a similar thing with this movie.

Honestly, I really don’t know anything about the movie. I’d probably not have seen it anyway. However, the concept of being forced to do something because someone threatens something is a slippery slope that we need to avoid.

I expect that Sony will eventually release the film in some form or another (online, Netflix, something). While I don’t care about the movie personally, I think freedom of speech is important and threats like this try to hinder it. At least it seems that way from what I’ve read.

We also shouldn’t be blaming Sony for pulling the movie. They had no choice since all the theaters pulled the movie. Now they have the harder choice of releasing the movie on the internet and losing tens of millions of dollars.

I love how the interview of Clooney ends:

DEADLINE: You said everyone acts based on self interest. What’s yours?
CLOONEY: I wanted to have the conversation because I’m worried about content. Frankly, I’m at an age where I’m not doing action films or romantic comedies. The movies we make are the ones with challenging content, and I don’t want to see it all just be superhero movies. Nothing wrong with them, but it’s nice for people to have other films out there.