Best Toys for Kids

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Jan 202012


Wooden Toys by Garry Knight (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Almost a year ago, I saw this on Wired, and I finally found it.  Kinda poignant considering my last post about toys for Nathan.

Here’s Wired Magazine’s Jonathan Liu’s list of the 5 greatest toys of all time.

  1. Stick
  2. Box
  3. String
  4. Cardboard tube
  5. Dirt

The honor of the 6th best toy of all time is more debatable, and Jonathan offers some helpful suggestions (along with his readers and commenters).

Just too funny not to share.


“Educational” Toys for Babies

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Jan 192012

My wife and I have been on a buying binge lately.  We’ve been buying toys for Nathan.  We are buying stuff that Nathan likes, like his parrot (OK, that one was a gift from friends):


and his elephant:


But we’re also getting him stuff like his donuts:


He’s also got a zillion electronic widgets that blink and beep and sing and do all kinds of things – but funnily enough, he seems to like the simple ones best.

This seems to jive with this article I read on  We are so advanced these days that we think the kid’s toys have to light up and sing a song and dance a jig for him for the baby to be interested in it, but Nathan’s favorite toys (so far) are his colored donuts, his colored blocks, and little plush toys (mostly birds – ducks and parrots are the best!).  I remember when I was growing up that my favorite toy before the age of 5 were a set of paper bricks – literally little cardboard boxes with the outside having graphics of red bricks so that when you stacked them tjhey looked like brick walls.  I think I must’ve spent hours stacking them up then knocking and kicking them down.  Loads of fun, that. 

Before Nathan was born, I read Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina and one of the anecdotes that the author told was how one year, he opened some fancy toy for his two boys for their Christmas gift, and to his surprise, disappointment, then delight, the boys were infinitely more excited about the boxes the toys came in and they had a grand old time converting those boxes into all kinds of other toys as dictated by their imagination.  I was reminded of that story when I saw this on Facebook from a feed of a buddy of mine:


Sorry Alex, but I had to post this – this was too adorable.  My buddy made an Optimus Prime costume for his son out of these boxes – the idea was the boy’s, only the scissoring was by his dad.  This is just too awesome.  I can’t wait until Nathan’s old enough.


L.A. Dad: Archery For The Whole Family

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Jan 192012


A treat for us Dads in the Los Angeles area.  About a year after I moved to Southern California, I discovered a club in the city I lived in, Pasadena, for archery.  It was the Pasadena Roving Archers and I attended their practices for a few weeks before another hobby I was pursuing (my kung fu training) had a schedule conflict and I gave it up.  Now that I live in LA proper (and work in the Valley), and I have a little boy, I am looking to take archery up again.  Probably start myself, but then when Nathan is old enough, bring him out and play Robin Hood with him together.

I’ve discovered a club out in Culver City at the Rancho Park archery range.  Relatively close to where I live, so I’ll try them out and post a review.  I also found a club in the Valley close to where I work.  It’s the Woodley Park Archers and they are at Woodley Park off the 101.  They’re actually close enough to work that I could probably shoot off a few shots after office hours before going home.  I’ll try them out and post a review in the future as well.

So, you’re thinking, why archery?

I do martial arts, have been for almost twenty years, and I’ve learned to handle a lot of ancient weapons.  But I will admit that bow and arrow is the one weapon type that I never became proficient in so I’m interested from that perspective in rounding out my repertoire. 

But there is another reason.  One of the reasons that kyudo, the Japanese art of archery, is considered a gentleman’s martial art, is that it takes a great deal of discipline, control, and steadiness to get good at it.  Archery is one of the few martial arts where you can’t “muscle you way” and all the energy and ferocity in the world will do you no good.  In fact, being calm and steady, being zen in the face of a hurricane, that kind of demeanor is what makes a good archer.  And this kind of attribute is something that I want to impart on Nathan.  I think it’s a good attribute to impart on any child.

In any event, I’ll put up a follow-up post as soon as I try out the Rancho Park and Woodley Park clubs.  I’ll also try out Pasadena again – since it’s been more than 7 years since I was there.  Stay tuned.


Not So Productive

 Random Musings  Comments Off on Not So Productive
Jan 182012

So I had originally planned on going to my Krav Maga class (I have a voucher I have to use up) but ended up staying at work late.  So I came up, with every intention of eating a light dinner, then working out  – either running, or calisthenics, or some of my kung fu exercises, or at least play Kinect Sports.  And then afterwards spending the rest of the evening writing another few posts, set them up to publish at a future date, and then go to sleep early.

But no.  I have ended doing the exact opposite of what I had planned.

I came home, then had dinner, then had some cheetos and watched NCIS, then finished off the said bag of cheetos while watching Law and Order SVU, then had another bag of Pops chips watching Hawaii Five-O, and here I am, almost midnight, still not sleeping, not having worked out, and no writing the post that I had planned on writing (a series of reviews of baby monitors). 

And I can’t even blame the baby, since Nathan’s been awesome and sleeping since 6pm.  Man, my at home routine has become complete mush since Nate as born, but I can no longer use baby duties as an excuse for not working out and not being productive.  This is one of my New Year Resolutions – bust my ass more, hustle more.

OK, tomorrow’s another day.


To Be A Good Dad, Get In Shape

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Jan 182012

OK, I’m probably gonna sound like I’m a broken record, but here’s yet another reason getting in shape, nay, being an active Dad is not only the best thing you can do for yourself, but also for your kids.

I’m going to unabashedly steal this from this great site,



Need I say more?