Episode #47 – The lost art of play!

Have you ever wondered what happened to ‘cowboys and indians’, cap guns, stamp collecting, kick the can, etc.?  In this episode we discuss the things WE played as kids, what was different, what we should bring back to todays children and what we should leave back in the ’70s.  Here is the quick summary:

  • Cowboys and Indians is no longer politically correct.  We frown on kids playing with toy guns.  Seen a cap gun lately?  We decided that kids will play this sort of violence no matter what.  Today it takes the form of nerf dart guns and super soakers and that is just fine with us.
  • Collecting stamps, coins, baseball cards, etc.  We agreed that these activities were pretty boring.  We understand why kids don’t do them any more.
  • Backyard Sports.  Kids are in so many activities now.  These activities are all structured with adults (referees) telling them what to do.  What happened to kick the can, kickball, touch football and the like?  This is one we would like to bring back.  Not only is it exercise, but kids learn to work things out amongst themselves.
  • Frisbee – John’s family loves this.  We need to do more of this.
  • Pen Pals – We had a short discussion on the demise of snail mail in a world of texting, instagram and facebook.
  • Boxes – we all swear by them.  Matt’s facebook pics are full of fantastic box fort creations (couch cushions, blankets and air mattresses too).  This art is alive an well in all the Owens’ homes. Is it alive in yours?

It was good to get back in the swing of things and catch up with my bros.  Thanks for listening! Mark


Episode #46 – Date Night

We all know how important it is to spend time with our special ladies (you know who you are).  This is one of those things that we all agree is important, but that is still difficult to do.  Here are some of the ideas we had:

  • It is great to set a consistent time (hopefully weekly).  This is hard, but if you can pull it off (John does) it is great!
  • Babysitters are key – cultivate good ones.  Ask neighbors, etc.
  • Matt is young and has a social life so he and Mary also do stuff with friends.  This is good, but not as good as a date night.
  • If you are desperate, you can have date night at home.  Just feed the kids early and whack them on the head with a rubber mallet at bedtime.  Then you and your wife can have a nice dinner and talk or watch a movie.
  • John suggested going out to ‘watch the stars’.  You can bring your food and just sit out in the car somewhere and talk and munch.

All this and more.  Mark even added a live song at the end that just might make you cry.


Episode #45 – Independance

When is your child old enough to stay home alone?  When is your child old enough to babysit?  We discuss these and other issues relating to children and independence.  Sort of a fourth or July special… This is Mark’s topic.  Alex (age 12) stays alone after school sometimes and now that the summer has started up, he can go to the pool on his own with his friends.  We know all this depends on the maturity of your child, but we discussed it in depth anyway.  Here was the breakdown by ‘milestone’ –

  • Going to a public bathroom on their own – I suppose this depends on where the bathroom is.  A bathroom at the airport – no way!  At you favorite restaurant with you standing outside?  Maybe.  I suppose this is in the age of 6-10 yrs
  • Staying home alone – They need to know your cell number and be able to use the phone certainly.  Also, there is a difference between leaving them for an hour in the afternoon and leaving them alone at night.  I think we pegged this one at 10-12 yrs.
  • Babysitting – It is easier if they are simply watching a younger sibling.  They are in their own house and they know the routine.  Watching another person’s child is a whole different ball game.  We found references to children as young as 11 babysitting.  The Red Cross class is open to kids starting at age 12.  I think age 12 is too young.  Maybe 13-14 is a good age to start under favorable circumstances.
  • Staying in the car while you run into a store – This is tough one.  Matt had a situation with a sleeping baby.  We all know you are never supposed to wake a sleeping baby.  We had differing views on this one, but we all decided that society definitely frowns on young children left in a car.  We all agreed that it should be locked and the keys should not be in it.  The controversy came up when mark read some guidelines on the internet that said it was illegal to leave children under the age of 16 in a motor vehicle.  This seemed ridiculous to all of us.  If a child is old enough to babysit another human being, they should be able to sit in a car safely.

So there you go.  Three real life dads giving another wise opinion on something they know very little about.  Independence is good for a child.  If you shelter them too much they will have no idea how to act when they leave the nest.  This is why kids have so much trouble going off to college if they have never had any independence before.  No one wants to take risks, but at some point you need to trust your child. Moments are include but no rants.  We will bring them back soon though. Enjoy! Mark

Engineering Fatherhood Episode 45

Episode #44 – Healthy Kids!

Obesity is a real problem with kids today.  We go through and give our ‘guys opinion’ on how to keep kids healthy and happy.

As dads it all seems simple.  Make them go outside and dont let them eat too much much.  It all comes down to this – ‘Be the Parent!’

We are oversimplifying of course.  Families are busier today than ever and both parents work in a lot of families.  It takes effort to make a real meal every night and even more effort to get kids away from video games or the Disney Channel.

Here are our big points to ponder.  Most of these seem obvious:

  • Make them go outside
  • Minimize eating out
  • Dont let them drink huge sodas
  • Be reasonable about the food you keep in the house
  • Fruits and vegetables – make them eat at least some
  • Excercise doesnt have to mean a routine at the gym – get them involved in sports, go on walks, play kickball!

In other news

  • Mark is in St Louis – The arch is cool!
  • Matt wants the new xbox
  • We are all jealous of John’s basement
  • We are going to bring rants back – repeats welcome

Thanks for listening!


Episode #43 – Household Chores – Division of Labor

Barefoot and pregnant – That’s how we like em!

Have I got your attention now?  Who does the dishes in your house?  How about the laundry?  Who cleans the toilets?  Do men do as much of the dirty work as the wee womenfolk do?  All this and more in our Household Chores episode.

Some interesting facts from the lives of three brothers

  • Linda does an extra fine job of taking care of her cats.  She doesn’t want to give John an excuse to kill them.
  • Matt and Mary just ‘synergize’ the chores.  Its like they are both part of the ‘Borg’.  Have Jack, Emily and Andrew been assimilated?
  • Mark just does as he is told.  Is that so wrong!
  • In each of our houses, the man is the ‘IT’ department

We agreed that the traditionally male chores (fixing things, breaking things, lawn) probably take up less time than the traditionally female chores (cook, clean, laundry, dishes, etc.).  This was a fine division of labor many years back when the man was the sole breadwinner (think of the Cleavers), but in todays age it is not a fair division.  However, in all of our cases, we (the O Bros) have kept the traditionally male chores, but also jumped in on some of the traditionally female ones.  In others words, it is all working out pretty fair.  Our wives still probably do more than we do, but that the women probably still do more than men, but the difference is far less than it was a generation ago.

Here’s to hoping that all of your listeners have reached ‘synergy’ in your families.  Please don’t forget the Amazon Banner on the right side of the screen.  Also, dont be afraid to comment!  We would love a guest rant.

Mark Out


Episode #42 – Politics ‘OFF THE LEASH’ Part 1

The big political episode.  Can you handle it!  Actually it wasnt all that crazy.  We went ‘lightning round’ and tore through topics in ‘town hall’ style.  Here were the hot topics we covered:

  • Gun Control – Matt and John are pro gun and therefore anti gun control.  Mark hates guns, but realizes that the laws are pretty dumb and will never achieve anything
  • Death Penalty – John and Mark are pro.  Matt wasnt sure.
  • Family/Child Support/Adoption – Matt started us off by saying our adoption rules cause potential couples to adopt children from other countries rather than here.  Mark agreed – Parental rights are important, but we go too far.  The child has rights too.  John took it more as a child support therefore a govt support issue and you KNOW how he feels about that…
  • Immigration – We all agreed that we should just let more people in.  As for amnesty, we were all against.  Let more people in but only legal immigration.
  • Gay Marriage – Why does anyone care?  Two people love each other and pay their taxes, their gender shouldnt matter.  John says marriage can be defined as a union of a man and a woman but only by religion, not by the government.
  • Foreign Policy – Why do we give money to so many other countries.  We all agreed that this did not achieve much.  Matt did not want military bases around the globe but Mark and John disagreed.  We all felt that the recent wars in the middle east are/were unwinnable.
  • Abortion – We are all against in our hearts of course.  Mark felt it was murder.  We all agreed however that any law forbidding abortion would cause more trouble than good.  John did not feel that the government should pay for it.
  • Marijuana – No brainer.  It is no worse than alcohol – make it legal.  So much effort goes into enforcement, so many people arrested and so much potential tax revenue wasted.

We actually agreed for almost everything.  Go figure.  It was a great time.  Also moments and a great opening parody song.

Thanks for listening,


Engineering Fatherhood Episode 42


Episode #41 – Women in Science w/ Special Guest – Dr. Bob Cook!

We finally brought in an expert!  Dr. Bob Cook, professor of Computer Science at Georgia Southern University.  Dr. Bob has been teaching college students about technology for over 35 years!  In addition to GSU, Dr. Bob has taught at Ole Miss, UVa and the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Cook’s take on the issue of women in science and engineering was an eye opener.  He started by reminding us that in the later part of the 20th century, we (the USA) were building GREAT things like nuclear power plants, interstate highways, and bridges.  There was also the space race.  These were inspiring projects that drove a lot of people into technical fields.  He suggested a few inspiring projects that might reignite the spark and drive new engineers of both genders back to school.  He best idea (I thought) was an underwater city.  Sort of like a moon colony, but somewhere in (under?) the Pacific.  Dr. Cook also suggested that the way we teach science pre college might be a factor.  He suggested more ‘hands on’ learning in the technical fields such as experiments and field trips.

We also talked a lot about ‘Nature vs. Nurture.’  This is an age old question.  Bob was more on the side of nurture, suggesting that part of the problem was that we hand our daughters dolls right away and dress them in pink.  Certainly this is a factor, but Mark and Matt felt that mother nature’s influence was stronger.  We have both seen boy children gravitate to cars and hammers while girls will gravitate towards dolls and kitchens.  This is simply based on observation of my own children and their friends.  Certainly these are not hard and fast rules, just gender statistical tendencies.  To be on the safe side though, you might want to give your daughter a calculator to go along with that ‘polly pocket’.

Then Mark went to nsf.gov (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/2013/digest/theme4.cfm) and read off some statistics.  Women made up a huge percentage nurses, dietitions and teachers and an incredibly small percentage of engineers.  This is the heart of the issue.  How do we fix this?  Is it really a problem or just indicative of gender differences?  Matt felt that any sort of strong manipulation (read – affirmative action) was simply social engineering.  Mark agreed.  John was smart and stayed silent.  I think we could all agree that:

  • There certainly should not be any barriers to women in technical fields. We need to make SURE of that
  • We as a country (and a race) need to get our act together and start building some cool, inspiring stuff!
  • Pre college teaching methods for math and science could use some help.

Regardless, it was a GREAT episode and fun was had by all.  Thanks to Dr. Cook for joining us.  Thanks to YOU for downloading.  Thanks for subscribing. Thanks for giving us 5 stars on iTunes, but MOST OF ALL – Thanks for spending an hour with us!



Engineering Fatherhood Episode 41


Dr. Bob with the grandkids – Alex, Molly and Luke