Advice list for my teens

  1. Having good friends is a blessing. Being a good friend is obligatory.
  2. Females have a better sense of smell, need I say more?
  3. Covering your tracks uncovers a faulty character. Real men own up to their mistakes, apologize and try to put things right.
  4. Do not photograph your private parts. The picture will end up in your grandmother’s Facebook feed and I promise you, you do not want to go there.
  5. You are not what you eat, or what you drive or where you live. You are you. And if that is not working out for you, changing your diet or car or home will not fix the problem.
  6. Clean is sexy. Thoughtful is sexy. Being blindingly drunk is pathetic.
  7. Video games may not make you violent, but they certainly do not make you a better son, student or friend.
  8. Sleep will not solve all of your problems, but not sleeping will create new ones.
  9. Make the home page on all your devices. You will be smarter for it.
  10. Junk food is for teenagers, by the time you are twenty you will find your body wants real food. Give it what it needs.
  11. Playing sports will make you happy and healthy. Keep games in your life.
  12. Choosing a spouse is the most important decision you will ever make, do not let your heart ignore your head, nor vice versa.
  13. If you are shopping for clothes and wondering if you are the kind of guy who can get away with a certain trendy style, then you most certainly are not.
  14. Saving a few dollars on a bad haircut is something you will regret instantly.
  15. Your girlfriends, the women who befriend you, love you, and will never sleep with you, will be some of the most important people in your life. Treat them beautifully.
  16. Never let your siblings down, they are irreplaceable. They will be your longest friendship in life and, one day, will be the only people who remember your childhood.
  17. When you have the nagging feeling that your parents would disapprove of what you are about to do, pause, make sure you are completely sure you have answered for yourself all the questions they would ask. Then proceed, using your own judgment.
  18. Your 20s are the time to discover your tolerance for risk, don’t pass up the opportunity.
  19. Spend the extra few dollars to buy decent shampoo. And deodorant.
  20. Own two perfectly pressed white shirts. You never know when a job interview or a girlfriend’s parents will arrive.
  21. Own lots of underwear, it will ultimately determine your laundry schedule.
  22. If you sleep with a girl, contact her the next morning, even if it is just an emoticon. And if you even think of pretending you don’t know her, envision my face.
  23. Buy gifts for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and any other special occasion that arises. Little nothings, bought with care and thought, go a long way to making a woman feel like she is on your mind. However, if she shows a hint of disappointment that you did not spend more money, drop her.
  24. When you get the chance, be the kind of boss, teacher, father and friend that you had, or wish you had.
  25. Finish what you start. That goes for tubes of toothpaste, expensive entrees, and commitments you have made to others and yourself.
  26. You are only as good as your word, anyone who says otherwise has proved my point.
  27. Technology will not make you happy. The people it connects you with will. Do not confuse the two.
  28. When a woman sets out to change you, head for the hills, unless it is on matters of hygiene, exercise or diet, then hear her out.
  29. Your manners will say everything about you and will reflect on your parents every day. Don’t make us look bad.
  30. Life will disappoint you. People will disappoint you. You will disappoint yourself. That’s why you have parents, to help you deal with those disappointments.
  31. Tattoos will go out of style, if they haven’t already. Don’t be fooled into believing otherwise.
  32. Aspirin, water and black coffee solve a multitude of problems. Either together or apart.
  33. When clothes shopping with a woman do not tell her that she looks great in everything, it destroys your credibility. Do not tell her that she looks terrible in something, it destroys your relationship. Tell her what makes her look great, it is a message that few women tire of hearing.
  34. If your friends are jerks, you will not be far behind. Choose wisely.
  35. Be nice to your parents, it will be a long time before you can afford your own ski vacation.
  36. Answer your mother’s texts promptly, or as long as you want her to keep paying your cell phone bill.
  37. With shoes, quality always wins over quantity. Ditto suits.
  38. Toothbrushes do not last forever.
  39. Learn to swing a golf club, shoot a pool cue and cast a fishing rod, it will come in handy.
  40. Do not ever use your physical size to intimidate anyone, male or female, unless it is in an organized game of sport. If you do, I will send you back to the cave where you belong.
  41. Drugs will make you stupid, waste your money, introduce you to people you do not want to know, get you in trouble with the law, and become a habit you might find hard to break. Am I clear?
  42. Smile in all photos and show your good side, you never know where the picture will end up.
  43. If you get a rash or a cut or a burn, photograph it and text it. Moms diagnose, even digitally.
  44. When you come back for a home cooked meal, your old bed and laundry service, remember to bring a good attitude. These things are not your birthright.
  45. Calling your parents for no special reason is always, always a good idea.
  46. If you only share the good and never reveal the bad, no one will really know you.
  47. Never assume anything about another person’s wealth, health or happiness, all too often we are mistaken.
  48. Put the seat down, don’t argue, just do it.
  49. Your girlfriend or wife may be your best friend, and I sincerely hope she is. But living with her will not be like living with your other best friends, behave accordingly.
  50. The Social Network was right, the Internet is written in ink. Remind yourself of that every time you touch a keyboard.
  51. If you think you are ready for children but are not sure, get a dog.
  52. No one is ever completely ready to be a parent, it is always a bit of a leap.
  53. It is best to have children within 50 miles of at least one grandparent. In parenthood, emergencies are the rule rather than the exception.
  54. House gifts will always be remembered and appreciated so never accept a dinner invitation or weekend’s stay without a small token of gratitude.
  55. Soon enough you will be in a position to help those younger than you. Offer a hand up quickly and generously.
  56. Remember that you are a product of your upbringing and schools. Show gratitude and loyalty for the teachers and institutions from which you graduated.
  57. Check your mail! As old-fashioned as it may seem, there are some letters that must be opened. Letting things pile up only creates nasty past due surprises. Grappling with paperwork is one of adulthood’s biggest but unavoidable headaches.
  58. Be the kind of person others turn to with their troubles. People in pain seek out those with good hearts.

Our survivor Rachel

Our friend Rachel has given it a tireless go against cancer. May the force continue to be with her. Here are her musings, and her art, thru the battle. Lots to learn in here.

Mzungus, “Only In America”

We had the pleasure of hosting Patrick and Joanita Mulondo at our home here in Rancho. Patrick is the artist we met in Jinga, Uganda who makes amazing sculptures welded from scrap metal collected by local street kids. Scrap metal he pays 4-10 USD per kilo because Patrick pays 2x normal street price, which he overpays because he is fortunate. He used to be one of them.

Parick grew up orphaned, after losing both his parents from AIDS at 4 years of age. He was found on the streets by a family friend, had his art talent discovered by a Christian organization who put him thru art school. Today, he is 30, and a successful sculptor.

While Patrick has been to the US 3 times, his new wife Joanita had never left Uganda. What made our friendship and interaction on their visit so special was seeing Americs through the eyes of a person who had only ever seen our country through whatever bits are shown on Ugandan television, be it news or select TV shows. And what an innocent, and eye opening lens she has. The number of times I heard, “only in America”, and for what reasons, was fascinating. It was a lesson in humility, appreciation, and discovery of things we cannot fully understand. In no particular order, here are the anecdotes from our day about.

The notable differences between California and Uganda range from how clean the streets are, to how good a life the Mzungu dogs have! Huh? (Reminder, Mzungu is the East African generic name for “white guy”)

Yup. How good Mzungu dogs have it. As they entered our house Joanita recoiled at our little Shiba Inu dog. I asked if she was afraid of dogs? “No, not Mzungu dogs.” Whaaat?!?!

Mzungu dogs apparently “sure have it good.” That they “would never make it in Africa where they must live digging thru garbage and hunt for food in the streets.”

I casually asked Joanita why she married Patrick. “Because he is not like other African men…he’s more like a Mzungu. Kind, helps with cooking and cleaning. Not running around.” We laughed at that one.

One of my favorites was when I took them to visit the school the boys attend in LaJolla and we passed thru security. Get this…”Why is there security…at a SCHOOL?”, came the ask, with puzzled faces. “We don’t have that in Uganda.” I have often quipped that many of the supposedly scary places we’ve traveled in the world are far less spooky and dangerous than in the US. Exclamation point on that.

One really great moment was taking our Ugandan friends to the beach in LaJolla. Get this. At 29 years old, Joani has never set foot in sand, or the ocean! It was like being with a young child; the discovery, the joy, the smiles. “Way past our view, across the Pacific, is Mozambique.”

Another big difference was that “in Uganda, your nose fills with dust and dirt, and after one day you could never wear the same clothes again. But here, everything is so clean. What you wear today, you can wear again on Thursday.”

Prior to arrival in San Diego, they had been at a benefit in Sacramento where Patrick’s art was sold at auction. While there, they were in a 4 car pile up (with no one injured), they were in the first car. They marveled at the way everyone got out and shared their information with the police and other drivers. When Stacia asked why that was so amazing? They howled, “In Uganda, everyone involved would get out and run away to disappear!”

Getting into the Tesla, after unplugging the power cable. All the goodies: no gasoline, large GPS screen enabled, great acceleration…”WHAT is this thing?!?! Only in America cars like this. You could never have a car like this in Africa. Would get destroyed by the roads!”

Final anecdote. They told me the performer SHAGGY was big in Africa. All Jamaican/Reggae base music is in fact. I just happened to have on my playlist the album by Sting and Shaggy. 44/876. I put it on and it was very popular with my guests. They had not heard it. But the confusing part to them? WHO is this Sting?!?! Shaggy is known all over Africa but they had never heard of Sting! Even after I played Roxanne and Message in a Bottle, I got completely blank stares.

It’s a small world indeed, punctuated by little differences that make one smile, and again appreciate how lucky we all are…