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 #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,


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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

Episode #40 – Sleep Extravaganza!!!

Have you had trouble getting your child to sleep?  Have you ever had trouble KEEPING you child asleep?  Have you ever had trouble waking your child up?  These answers and more!  Just tune in.

Getting them to sleep:

  • Some children (John’s) needed background noise such as running water.
  • Letting the kids into your bed can be fun (and snuggly) as a treat, but we don’t recommend ever letting it happen two nights in a row.  Then the habit sets in and you will have to fight to change it back.
  • Please include bedtime reading for just SO many reasons.
  • Don’t listen to websites/magazines full of obvious advice.  Do you really need someone to tell you not to give you kid caffeine before bedtime?
  • The Ferber Method is a good compromise between you and your wife if simply letting them ‘cry it out’ seems to harsh.  With this method you are still letting them cry it out but you are doing it with science!

Keeping them asleep:

  • No super ideas here other than ‘be firm’.
  • John likened this to weight loss – you know what you need to do but that doesn’t make it easy.
  • Matt emphasized that it is really hard to make good decisions when sleep deprived!

Waking them up:

  • Try being nice first – if that doesn’t work steal the blankets and turn on the light.
  • As early as they can take it, make it the KIDS responsibility to get up on time.  If they are late for school, they will have to go to the office – not you!

In other news, after all my complaining, Luke slept right through the night in his own bed last night.  Apparently the solution to getting him to sleep is to talk about it on a podcast!

Amazon – You saw the banner.  Most of our purchases have been marked as ‘ineligible’.  Oh well.  You can listen to my rant, but the bottom line is that Amazon still rocks.  However I am not happy about their policy of using a ‘proprietary model’ to determine eligibility.  C’mon Amazon it is 2013!  Secret algorithms are soooo 2007 (financial crisis).

No rants this episode and I think we kept it to under an hour!  See you next episode!!!!


Engineering Fatherhood Episode 40

Episode #39 – Christmas Round Up and Kids Birthday Parties

Welcome to 2013!   Hear about the best toys of Christmas by age.   Did you know that power wheels (battery powered kids vehicles – Jeeps in our cases) are actually motorized vehicles in the eyes of the law?  That means they must obey the speed limit of course.  And as the safety nerd points out, they are insurance nightmares.  Should we put a jeep on a trampoline and really blow his mind?  Skylanders are another big hit with both dads and children.  Musical gifts such as drums and guitars are also big hits.

Then we covered birthday parties.  Matt is going to have a house party!  This is an awesome way to go.  All families should do this at least once.  It will probably be a real pain, but they will always have the fun memories.  Mark had some of these in the past and said they were fun, but they were worth it in their way.  So… Go Matt!  I hope the Jackster has a great time!  We decided that gift bags were ‘too much’.  When they are young and the classes are small, it is appropriate to invite the whole class, but when they get older (elementary school) it is probably too much.  Mark does ‘sleepover parties’ with the older kids and that seems to make the kids happy while still keeping within budget/hassle limits.

That is all.  We are working to make some improvements in 2013.  Mark vows to get more guests and to find better music.  Matt will round up the listeners.

So there you go.  Another fine episode of Engineering Fatherhood.  Have a great week!


Engineering Fatherhood Episode 39