Top Dad Ads from Super Bowl Sunday 2013

I have not seen all of the Super Bowl ads yet, but did it seem as if car makers and others were pitching directly to parents last night? Maybe it’s just our middle-aged bias clouding our judgment. Here, through a father’s eyes, are the Top Dad Ads from Super Bowl Sunday 2013:

1. The Flaming Lips appearing in and providing the soundtrack for Hyundai’s “Epic Playdate” ad was cool, but the clincher was after the montage of extreme activities showing a day filled with frivolity the youngest child asks, “Dad, what are we going to do tomorrow?” Moms, dads and kids everywhere bobbed their heads to the music and nodded their heads in agreement throughout this commercial.

2. All parents will likely agree that Hyundai knocked it out of the park for our demographic this year. Another favorite ad was “Team”, in which a mom provides car service for a team that will stand up to the bullies that hogged a football.

3. Speaking of car service, parents of teenagers were simultaneously rooting for the underdog who gets a kiss from the queen of the dance while cringing at the thought of their teenager taking Dad’s Audi for an adrenaline-fueled spin afterwards. The marketing side of me also loved that Audi added a link to the song, “Can’t Win Em All” by Hanni El Khatib.

4. Kia’s modern-day take on a virtual, space-age stork delivering babies around the world was a little over the top. Our favorite part was the kid activating the B.S. meter at the end, and the parents instructing the car to quickly change the subject.

Slight aside… another Kia favorite from before the Super Bowl:

5. I don’t have daughters, but I can see how a dad can reach this point, Doritos or no Doritos:

6. I made a very similar milk run on Saturday morning:

7. Toyota taught us to be careful what you wish for, but that does not stop me from wishing Toyota had linked to “I Wish” by Skee Lo that plays near the end of this ad (Was that song really from 1995? That seems like just yesterday). The good news for you is that Commuter Daddy is a full-service operation. “I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller….”

8. This Volkswagen favorite is more from our professional than our parental side. “Respect Boss Mahn!”

9. A glimpse of Super Bowl Sundays of our future from Taco Bell:

Commuter Daddy 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards

Photo courtesy of Cory Schmitz

Welcome, readers and fans, to the third annual post dedicated to you. It’s the Commuter Daddy 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards! It’s like Christmas all over again, isn’t it?

Should you wish to revisit your 2009 favorites and 2008 choices, please do so. If for this year’s list I were to include posts made in previous years, Jelly Belly cycling jerseys (still on my wish list!), cooking in the cubicle, and germs trumping the environment all remain popular topics.

But this post is dedicated to the new content. The only eligibility requirement of the Commuter Daddy Readers’ Choice awards is the post had to have been published in the current year. So without further fanfare, here are the top 10 items we wrote and you read in 2010.

  1. Google adds biking directions — but cycle cautiously
    I’m happy to report that Google’s biking directions no longer guide the would-be Sandwich-to-Woods Hole cyclist through the Massachusetts Military Reservation. It recommends much more law-abiding primary and secondary routes. Your welcome for pointing out the original folly.
     
  2. Will blog for coffee
    Thank you, fellow New England Bloggers, for helping this reach number 2 on the hit parade. I still blog for coffee. Beer too, in case you were wondering.
     
  3. Commuter Daddy… mommy blogger?
    I’m still listed, and boston.com drove 13.5 percent of my page views this year. Thanks and welcome, boston.com readers!
     
  4. More on Acela Wi-Fi via the iPad and No streaming media while riding the rails
    I’ve already linked to these items from yesterday’s New Year’s resolution report card and last week’s wish for Wi-Fi zones of silence in our busy lives. Linking to items about Acela and Wi-Fi three times in eight days ought to keep these popular for next year, too.
     
  5. No passing on the right
    Ms. SBT is still not allowed to be my chauffeur. She understands.
     
  6. Age is all about perception
    Speaking of age, Benjamin, our youngest, was surprise to learn at lunch yesterday that I am younger than his mom. “I thought you were older,” he said. “Because you’re bigger.” A double stab at my ego and appearance! Later he told his mom he thought I was going to be turning 50 when my birthday rolls around. Sorry to disappoint, kid. I’ll only be 40, though he is rapidly making me feel as if I am 50.
     
  7. Crazy airports
    After the frigid weather we have had over the past week, I am ready to risk a Culebra landing again.
     
  8. Breakfast variety does not spice our children’s lives
    This might be true of lunch now, too. When I asked Mason and Benjamin where they wanted to go for lunch yesterday after we had finished touring the Prudential Skywalk Observatory, they and Mason’s friend who was with us unanimously voted for Dunkin’ Donuts. Not that there is anything wrong with donuts for lunch, but for the record I had a flatbread sandwich. No one followed my example, though Benjamin came close with his sausage croissant — hold the egg and cheese and hand off the croissant to Dad.
     
  9. Dear, Chrysler: Give me gadgets with my Man Van. Hold the stitching.
    I would like to add another feature proposal for my ideal Man Van: Perpetual new-car smell. I got my Volkswagen serviced and cleaned yesterday while we were in Boston, and apparently the cleaning included a deodorizing spritz that makes the car smell new again. I like it, and would like to put that deodorant on a timer. Let’s also make it sensitive to whenever Mason pulls off his soccer cleats in my car. Two doses should be immediately applied in that case.
     
  10. And you think your commute is bad
    I still shudder at the thought of weekly West Coast trips. May I never require that much travel.

All the news that fits — and the blogger too

Spied via Mediabistro’s Facebook feed, who found it on Engadget: The ultimate bloggermobile. My VW is worried.

The “bufalino” contains bedding, refrigerator, cooktop, basin, water tank, and storage bins. The back doors can even function as a clothesline — especially handy for beverage mishaps.

A commode is apparently not an option, but road warriors are used to having to pull over for nature’s call, so I don’t see that as a deal breaker. Plus pulling over and moving around helps stave off thrombosis.

There was no such thing as blogging when I drove cross-country from California to Massachusetts after college, but I still could have used a vehicle like this. I didn’t have enough money for a hotel room at every stopping point, so there was at least one night somewhere near Flagstaff that I slept in the front seat while parked at a Denny’s. My Isuzu Trooper was so tightly packed that I could not recline the seat. The bufalino bed looks quite comfortable in contrast to that memory.

Still, the VW is safe. With the rear seat folded down, I can fit my bike and my golf clubs in the back. Not sure that would be the case in the bufalino. A bike rack might make that thing pop wheelies.

Dear, Chrysler: Give me gadgets with my Man Van. Hold the stitching.

You would think that with a self-appointed brand like Commuter Daddy, I’d be a car guy. I’m afraid you’d be disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate fine automobiles. During my last round of car shopping, I was in the market for Mini Coopers and Audi A4s before settling into my more practical Volkswagen Passat.

I also have a long-held wish to head to Santa Cruz for Woodies on the Wharf. Earlier this year I took our youngest two boys and a one of their friends to check out a Tesla Roadster that was visiting The Brown Jug. We also attend at least a couple of classic car shows per year at Heritage Museum and Gardens and at Upper Cape Tech.

I don’t pay much attention to the actual mechanics of our vehicles, though. Yes, I buy new tires every 50,000 miles and I get an oil change every 3 months or so, but that’s the extent of my acknowledgment of a car’s needs. I changed the oil myself once. Have you tried to crawl under a car on a shell driveway? I’m sure there’s a few ways to properly and comfortably do it. My better way is to take the car to Sandwich Service Center up the street and walk home while I let the neighbors handle it.

Some deeper insight into my automotive naivete via word association. When you say torque, I think of the French chef’s hat. When you say gear ratio, I think I should shift up while cycling on a descent or with the wind at my back. When you say high octane gas, I think about our boys after dinner.

Nevertheless, when I read last week that Chrysler was ready to unleash a man van upon us, I was intrigued. It reportedly has a sportier look, inside and out, but the details were otherwise relatively thin.

Fancy stitching? No, thanks. Leather seat belts? Kinky, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Sure, extra horsepower and some fancy cosmetic features are nice, but what I really want is the ultimate road warrior vehicle. I need gadgets, and I’m not just talking some Bluetooth connectivity — although there is no doubt that should be a standard feature.

Here’s what should be included in my Man Van:

  • Wood panels. See my desire expressed earlier regarding Woodies on the Wharf? Men always want to be sporting some wood.
  • Shock absorbing coolers in the armrest. As I can personally attest, no man wants to arrive at his destination with a giant wet spot on his trousers.
  • In-car wi-fi. When I first read about some in-car wi-fi devices that were coming out, I wondered how useful they would be. Never mind issues with texting and driving. Can you imagine the mayhem on the roadways if businesspeople could fire up their laptops while on their commute? Then, I started traveling a couple of times a month, while working from the home office much of the rest of the time. I suddenly appreciated the value of having an alternate wi-fi source. The picture at the top of this post shows a recent example when in-car wi-fi would have been immensely beneficial. My Verizon-powered Blackberry modem needed more power, Scotty. There was not enough bandwidth for me to run the Web conference portion of a conference call I was hosting. Luckily, one of my colleagues was on the call, so I handed off my host password, while driving like hell a little over the speed limit to find the nearest library with wi-fi. Chrysler, if you want me to consider buying a Man Van, give me wi-fi. The kids will thank you too, especially if they can be entertained via my wi-fi-enabled iPad on long road trips.
  • Coffee maker. One less pitstop would make this extreme commuter much more efficient with his time. I’d suggest some sort of bathroom-like capabilities, too, but I assume I would still have to stop the car to utilize them. No real time to be gained by adding a toilet.
  • Autopilot. Speaking of efficient use of time, when I get sleepy on the road, why rely on coffee at all? Make it for highway use only, and integrate the autopilot with the GPS navigation system. Set the course for your next exit, and when you get there an alarm will sound, waking you from your catnap. Cruise control is so old-school. It’s time for an upgrade.
  • Incinerator. If you want to offer a Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor to power deluxe models only, fantastic, but I absolutely need a standard device that rids the vehicle of spent snack wrappers, straws and napkins. My door pockets are forever getting crammed with trash, and much as I try to keep up by utilizing the garbage bins at gas stations, it always seems to be a needless cycle of messiness.
  • iPod/iPhone dock. Charge it, play my podcasts and music, and give me control through the steering wheel. No more auxiliary cables, FM broadcast accessories or tape-deck adapters, please. An option to modify for the iPad would be a nice future enhancement, too.
  • Interior bike rack. How about a Renniks Bicycle Tote? A dry bike makes for a happy cyclist, and a healthier commuter.
  • Crock pot and/or breadmaker. If you’re going to cook in the car, why make it difficult with all the aluminum foil and trial and error with finding the right spot in the engine block to cook the meal? Let’s be more deliberate and provide a device for commuters who would like to eat less fast food and more home cooking. Give the road warriors back their time with the proper in-car device that would allow us to put dinner on the table as soon as we reach home while also being more efficient with the energy our cars are generating. There’s got to be a carbon-neutral justification somewhere in this idea.

I can’t have cornered the market on good Man Van ideas, especially given that all of these cater to my interests, hobbies and lifestyle. How would you equip your Man Van?

Cooking in the car

The amount of time I spent in my car this week wasn’t significantly more than usual, but the compressed schedule made it seem so.

Was up-and-at-’em early Monday, hitting the road at 5 a.m. on the dot for the drive to headquarters in Middletown, N.Y. Drove into New York City at a more reasonable hour on Tuesday. Parked on Eighth Street, only to learn the person I was meeting with had meant to direct me to Eighth Avenue. So I hopped back into the car to relocate it and make the meeting for which I was already tardy.

Then drove to Waltham on Tuesday afternoon for the Detours and Onramps conference at which I was speaking the following morning. Returned home to the Cape Wednesday afternoon after the speaking gig and lunch.

I felt as if I needed a shoehorn to extract myself from the car.

Along the way — and I’m not certain which leg of the trip this was — I was catching up on some podcast listening, and I heard a Splendid Table interview with Bill Scheller, author of Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!.

(When you’re truly the one and only, you can put exclamations in your title. That’s in Strunk and White, isn’t it? I’ve misplaced my copy. Surely the book’s publisher followed the guidelines.)

I haven’t read Manifold Destiny yet, but if ever there were a book that was perfect for a Commuter Daddy, this would have to be it. It has been added to the Wish List/reading queue. I hunted for a companion blog, but haven’t come across one. If you know of one, put a link in the comments.

During the interview, Scheller did say that American cars are generally the best for cooking while driving. My recently acquired VW may not make the cut (see item#18). Looks like I picked the wrong period of my commuting life to go with an imported car.

My biweekly, 4.5-hour trips to Middletown, though, have got to be ready-made for some slow roasting if I can find the right place in the engine compartment to park some vittles. It would be the ultimate multitasking feat. Maybe Prius Pork can be transformed into Passat Pork?

Porsches are apparently right out. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m in the market for one.

25 Things about CommuterDaddy

The spreading “25 Things” meme on Facebook has been a fascinating read, both for the things I’ve learned about close friends and for the insights I’ve gained about people to whom I’ve more recently become connected. So after getting tagged myself by Noelle, I feel compelled to reciprocate.

Such memes are an old blogging practice, so I am staying “old school” and posting my list on my blog first. It will make its way to Facebook thanks to my geeky news feed integrations, but it also means I’m bypassing the Facebook tagging. If in some way reading this compels you to participate, please link back to my CommuterDaddy blog. I can always use a few friendly back links.

Here’s the premise: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.

So here goes:

1. I’ve tried growing my hair out. It actually got halfway down my neck in length when I was in college, but was about double that in volume. I’ve been shaving my head ever since. Pictures of the long-hair experiment exist somewhere in the archives, but I’ll not be posting them here.

2. I was the only short-haired member (see # 1) of the Hollywood-based hard rock band Dionysus during the early ’90s. We played the Whisky and Roxy, and spent a summer touring clubs from Portland, OR, to Phoenix. I was lead singer, part-time guitarist and band booking agent.

3. One last hair fact: My hair has been graying since I was in college. It was noticable enough back then that for my 21st birthday my bandmates bought me Grecian Formula. They’re funny guys.

4. Los Angeles was a great place to go to college, but overall I much prefer Cape Cod. There’s truthfully an average of only two weeks per year when I wish we lived somewhere warmer.

5. My other band experience was with a Cape Cod-based acoustic ensemble that played what we coined as “heavy wooden music.” That band was originally named Man Bites Dog, but when a blues band from Beverly by the same name threatened to sue us (the drummer’s wife was a lawyer, allegedly), we changed it to Mahogany Ridge.

6. During that time, I also was among the first organizers — along with Cynthia Cole and Annie Hart Cool — of the Citizens Bank Concerts in the Park series for the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod. Back then, we were just booking Hyannis and Falmouth. My, how it has grown!

7. Brandy and I met when her mother brought her to the former Prodigal Son in Hyannis to introduce her to another musician, and we, Mahogany Ridge, happened to be playing. Brandy and I had an instant connection, but it still took Brandy asking me out a couple of weeks later to lead to our first date. We have been together ever since.

8. Mason is named after our house, in a manner of speaking. There are parts of the house — fireplace, mudroom and BBQ pit — that were built by a mason that lived here. Now a Mason lives here. He was born a little more than 9 months after we moved in, so it all tied together.

9. My first guitar was bestowed upon me when I was 7 years old. Mason, now 7, has been asking for a guitar recently. Ah, the circle of life….

10. Sam, our oldest, has been playing the saxophone for the last couple of years. Benjamin, our youngest, has shown a propensity to be a drummer since he was a baby. If I switch to bass, we’ll have ourselves a band.

11. Being a husband and a dad are my two favorite pursuits. I think our family rocks.

12. When we bought our circa 1850s abode in 2000, I had no direct experience with home improvements. Three refinished bedroom wood floors (two out of three here), two hand-built closet doors (door on the left in this photo), a hand-built front door, a dishwasher installation, two faucet replacements, a few demolitions, construction of two container gardens and a container for a clam-shell patio, and numerous other patch, paint and putty jobs later, I’m ready for my old-house merit badge.

(Update 2.21.2009: R.I.P. front door. It was a victim of the demolition required for the new addition.)

13. That said, I have put off installing a sump pump in the basement for far too long. The annual 12-Shop-Vac-bucket march up the basement stairs after a significant snow-melting rain is getting old.

14. Once the basement drainage project is done, I intend to transform the space into a functioning workshop and man cave, although there is not enough ceiling height to accomodate any over 6-foot friends. I’ll have to meet them at the golf course or the pub.

15. I have yet to break 100 on the golf course. I’m close, but playing barely once a month isn’t helping much.

16. I miss playing pickup tennis, football, softball and volleyball regularly. Where did all of that free time go?

17. Last year, I spent approximately 600 hours in my car, most of it commuting to New York or Waltham. That’s the equivalent of 25 full days. That answers the previous question.

18. The VW Passat we bought in November is the first non-Saturn that’s been my primary commuting car in 10 years.

19. Mike Barnicle‘s writing inspired me to pursue a journalism career. The allure of being a newspaper columnist has lost some shine — as has Mike Barnicle. That dream now, however, loosely translates to being a full-time, reasonably compensated blogger. Someday….

20. As a kid, I loved spending hours completing jigsaw puzzles. I still do love tackling them with our boys. I see a lot of parallels in that pursuit and being a reporter, which is a big reason why I loved the latter so much.

21. If I weren’t already trying to blaze trails in transforming newspapers into new media enterprises, I’d harbor stronger desires to be a farmer or restaurateur — or maybe both.

22. I’d likely not be very good at the latter. I rarely cook a recipe the same way twice. I’m sure I could, but most of the joy I derive from cooking is in the improvisation.

23. Which is odd, because when it came to performing, I was a stickler for being on the mark. My bandmates would occasionally get frustrated by my perfectionism. The same could be said for my current colleagues, I’m sure.

24. I’d like to visit all 50 states. So far, I’ve been to 29, plus Puerto Rico. Luckily, almost all have been for business and pleasure. Only my Pennsylvania trips have been solely for work, so far.

25. I eat ice cream in the middle of the night too frequently. So much so that when I wake up in the middle of the night while traveling, I am instantly disappointed that no ice cream is nearby.

Commuterdaddy’s 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards

Chalk this up to me being in a New Year’s Eve, 2008 wrap-up frame of mind.

So give me a drum roll, please. Introducing the inaugural Commuterdaddy 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards. We’ll spare you the droll acceptance speeches. No shiny statuettes either, but the votes are in and the readers have spoken. Here’s the most popular Commuterdaddy posts in 2008:

  1. Commuter rail linking Scranton, Poconos with NYC receives fed money
    This was a lazy item, part of a temporary experiment with linking to commuter-related stories at various Ottaway newspapers. The post still gets some search-engine referrals — nearly all of it from Google. Go figure. Guess the issue of commuter rail in the Poconos still has legs. And Commuterdaddy ranks number 4 for that exact seach term. WooHoo!
  2. Check Engine Haiku
    I should have been more explicit that I had hoped other commuters would join in the haiku frivolity. Not a single comment was left on this post, despite its popularity. Perhaps my commuter haiku skills are too intimidating? Incidentally, I rank number 5 in Google for the term “haiku checker.” Not a term I ordinarily would have associated with Commuterdaddy, but I’ll take it.
  3. In-flight wifi? You’ll likely have to pay to play
    Not a bad ranking for this one, considering it was posted on Dec. 17. Of course, it also speaks to the fact that this blog is not generating a lot of traffic and clearly is not my day job, for which I remain very grateful given the state of the media industry these days. In case you were wondering, this blog was originally conceived as a potential contributor to a blog network that would feed content into the shared automotive verticals of Ottaway. A variety of circumstances put that plan on hold, though the idea to focus on commuter-oriented content as a niche that could serve many of our markets is still very much alive. Meanwhile, I use this and my personal blog as equal parts amusement — for me and for you — and laboratory. Can’t very well ask people to be stretching themselves online if I don’t do so myself, right?
  4. Side effects may include gray hair, heart palpitations, fainting and ulcers
    19 percent of the referrals came from Facebook. I’ll infer from the high ranking of this post that I am connected to lots of like-minded fathers. Most of the rest of the traffic came from Google. The keywords that drove the most traffic? “Side effects of commuting,” for which Commuterdaddy ranks number 2, behind a Washington Post article on the wear and tear commuting places on the body. While my headline was not intended to describe the side effects of commuting, it does that double duty quite nicely as a description of the impact a lengthy round trip can have on working humans — though I am going to start praying a little more each night that I never experience the fainting while driving.
  5. Working from Logan International Airport
    As commuter travelogues go, this was a good one. It also was one of the most commented entries of 2008, thanks to a comment conversation I had with Joe Michaud, who at first I confused with Joe Alba, based on the initial beer observations.
  6. The Blogfathers: Sexism in baby daddy land
    This is the lone 2007 post that persisted in the top 10 for 2008. It rings as true today as it did when I wrote it. Brandy and I were just discussing this topic earlier tonight. She’s reading Dinner with Dad, which I recently finished, and there’s a theme throughout about the husband and wife coping with their previously well delineated roles becoming hybrid thanks to Dad being around the house more. It fascinates us that couples would struggle with this. Sure, after returning from a road trip I may from time to time undo an instruction that Brandy had given in my absence. I also have been guilty of needless redundancy in reaction to something Brandy has already handled while I was away. In the end, though, my more frequent presence around the home office is more beneficial to the well-being and equilibrium of the household. In the brief period this summer when I was commuting daily to Waltham, my consistent and lengthier absences were not a positive element in our family dynamic. While I may have been home every night — as opposed to the every other week travel schedule I’ve been maintaining lately — I was not present for the most important events. Had I still been on that everyday commuting schedule, it would not have been possible to recently attend Benjamin’s first Christmas concert, or to help with Mason’s gingerbread house construction project. Presence and participation is far preferable.
  7. 70 mph speed limit voted against in N.H.
    This was easily my shortest post, being even shorter than the haiku. Perhaps I should have done a speed limit haiku? I’ll work on it.
  8. Setting the right example with bike helmets
    I’m happy to report that I’ve not forgotten to wear my bike helmet since writing this entry. For what it is worth, I’ve made 63 rides totaling nearly 548 miles since then. Not as much as I would have liked, but certainly more than the year before. The 2008 total was 615 miles. I’ll take this opportunity to publicly declare that my 2009 resolution will be 1,000 miles for the year. My usual ride is a paltry 8 miles round trip, primarily because that’s what I can accomplish in a half hour of exercise. So sticking to that goal, I’d need to average a little more than 10 rides a month to achieve 1,000 miles. That should be doable, even if I have to do some small percentage on a stationary bike at the gym or in a hotel. I’ll further pledge to provide monthly progress reports on this blog, if only as a means of further self motivation.
  9. RSS powers product evangelism
    During the brief period that I left Ottaway earlier this year, I let the Ottaway Online Editors blog go dormant. Had I still been with the company, this would have been much more apropos for my RSS collection there. So please, consider it as part of that set.
  10. Contents under pressure
    I’ve been remiss in reporting that I got a new car at the end of November. Long live the tricked-out Saturn! And please welcome a 2006 Volkswagen Passat to the Commuterdaddy transportation stable. It really deserves its own blog post, so I’ll try to catch up on that soon.

Happy New Year, friends and fellow commuters!