Where Have All the Superheroes Gone?

In a word, everywhere (at least the little, plastic ones). If you’ve got a son, nephew, or superhero-loving child of either sex, you’ll find that there are tons of toys to go with movie blockbusters, TV shows, cartoons, and even a few just because.

marvel mashersMarvel Superhero Mashers (Hasbro)
Why is it that so many superheroes seem to have multiple personality disorders? They want to save the world, but they’re distraught and angry, filled with angst, feeling responsible and lonely, pushing people away, clinging to friends, and occasionally going off the rails (yes, we’re talking about you, Spiderman). Well, now you can make your own disjointed (literally) superheroes by mashing them up with other heroes and villains. Take the head of Iron Man, the body of Thor, the legs of Hulk, and the arms of Dr. Doom and you’ve got, well, we’re not sure. Prices range from $10 – $20 on http://www.hasbro.com or at your favorite toy retailer.

power rangers mega zordPower Rangers
Since they first appeared in 1992, Power Rangers have morphed through more incarnations than we can shake a stick at, if we were stick-shaking people. Two decades and nearly 100 Rangers later, the show is still going strong. The Power Rangers are an institution and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They’re still making movies and TV shows, and our children and their friends look forward to the new toys as much as we and our friends did a thousand years ago. So, what’s new in Power Rangers? Well, let’s start with the Legacy Megazord who’s celebrating 20 years of helping the Power Rangers saving the world. This latest Megazord has all the original details from the first toy, but beefs up the durability factor by using die cast metal pieces. The Megazord comes with a Ranger Key that can be used to open its chest. Good for collectors and fans of the current show alike. The Mystic Dragon Zord and Green Ranger set is also inspired by past seasons, and connects to other parts of the Zord Builder collection. Any four-inch figure or Power Ranger Key can work with the Dragon Zord. And the Legacy Megazord and Mystic Dragon Zord can be used together. Roughly $35 and $16, respectively, depending on where you buy them.

pokemon figuresPokemon (TOMY)
While we’re on the subject of toys (and TV shows) that have been around forever, does anyone (or everyone) out there remember Pokemon? Ash and his lovable companion Pikachu have been fascinating kids for a while now on several continents, and the latest versions (inspired by the hit Nintendo video games) are Pokemon X and Y. This generation of Pokemon lets you go head to head with the older Pokemon you have already “caught” as well as the newest ones, like Chespin and Fennekin. Kids (and their adult wranglers) learn at an early age that you’ve “Gotta Catch “em Al.”, And considering that they cost about $8 for a two-pack, that won’t be too hard. Each two pack contains two two-inch figures and two “Attack Tags” for game play. http://tomy.com

captain american winter soldierCaptain America: The Winter Soldier (Hasbro)
With the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie recently coming out, kids want to act out the adventures (or perhaps misadventures) of Steve Rogers and the unfortunate Bucky Barnes at home. Hasbro has a line of 3.75 inch action figures to go along with the movie, complete with weapons, feature motions, and of course the famous shield. These figures are quite articulated and have weapons that fire actual projectiles. Additional accessories are sold separately. There are six figures in this line, $10 each. http://www.hasbro.com

Galileo Innovation Camps: Great Way to Spend the Summer—and Save Money!

galileo summer camp

Sponsored by Galileo, but all opinions are mine alone.

We all love summer vacation. And why not? For kids, it’s a long, long break from projects, homework, and essays. And for parents, it’s an equally long break from having to bug the kids to do all of those things. But there’s a downside to all that time away from school, and it’s sometimes called the “summer brain drain.” On average, kids lose from one to three months of learning between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. And teachers have to spend the first month or two of the new school year getting the kids up to speed on everything they’d learned the year before.

camp galileo4For me—and many other parents—avoiding the brain drain is a top priority. But so is giving the kids (and maybe ourselves) a little down time. The challenge, then, is to find activities that keep the mind active but are so fun that no one realizes that they’re actually learning something. In my family, that often means field trips. Lots of ‘em. Some last only a few hours, some a few weeks.

Over the years, we’ve spend incredible amounts of time at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, Chabot Space and Science Center, the Exploratorium, Zeum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Randall Museum, the DeYoung, MOMA, and many of the dozens of lesser-known museums around the San Francisco Bay Area, featuring collections of Pez, tattoos, banned toys, mummies, pinball machines, modern art, cable cars, and cartoons.

galileo 4Unfortunately, most adults can’t take off the entire summer to hang with the kids. Someone’s got to put food on the table and shoes on everyone’s feet and we don’t want to just leave the kids to fend for themselves. In most cases, that means finding camps that are both fun and educationally engaging. Oh, and is a little convenience for mom and dad too much to ask for? My kids have done day camps and sleep away camps, science camps, sports camps, boating camps, tech camps, and pretty much any other kind of camp you can think of.

One of our favorites has always been the Galileo camps, which have it all: convenience, education, fun, if you visit their website now you can save $30 per camper (sign up for their newsletter and you can win an expense-paid week at the camp of your choice). When my kids went to Galileo camps, they did art, science, and plenty of outdoors activities. I always loved that when I’d pick them up in the afternoon, they were usually filthy, exhausted, smiling, and full of stories about some cool thing they’d learned that day. The experiences they have at Galileo will last a lifetime. My older two kids (now 24 and 21) still remember the words to some of the songs they learned at Galileo—including one that involved a rubber chicken. I’ve never quite understood that one.

If you’re in the greater SF Bay Area, you can—and should!—make Galileo a part of your family’s history. Your children will get engrossed in art projects, science challenges and outdoor activities that will make them laugh, think and express themselves with complete freedom.

For kids pre-K through 4th grade, Galileo has more than 25 camps around the Bay Area (see the full list here). Every year, Galileo introduces rich, riveting new themes to inspire budding innovators. Each theme combines art, science and outdoor activities around a whimsical week-long narrative that’s crafted to keep kids giggling and engaged. This year features four fresh themes, each adapted for three different age groups. The themes are created together with Galileo’s fabulous curriculum partners at Klutz, The de Young Museum, The Tech Museum of Innovation and The Chabot Space & Science Center.
camp galileo2

  • Adventures Down Under: Art & Science of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
  • Galileo Road Trip: Art & Engineering along Route 66
  • The Incredible Human Body: Art & Science of Being Human
  • Leonardo’s Apprentice: Inventions & Art of the Renaissance

And for 5th-8th graders, there are 18 camps, called Summer Quest (see the complete list here). Summer Questers pick from 18 week-long “majors,” including digital filmmaking, video game design, fashion design, inventors workshop, chemistry, and cooking. Call it (as the camp does) “an incubator for emerging innovators.” If that doesn’t make you want to be a kid again, not much will.

camp galile3Concerned about the staff (you’d be crazy not to be)? Here’s what Galileo says about that. And I can add that in my experience, they do exactly what they say they’re going to do: “Our curriculum team spends thousands of hours developing creatively fertile themes, activities and majors. We interview thousands of applicants to find the most talented counselors and instructors. We combine those two essential elements to introduce kids to a third—an innovation process inspired by the one developed at the Stanford d.school.”

If you sign your camper for any of the Galileo camps by May 31, you can save $30 per camper by using the code 2014INNOVATION. And if you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win a free week of summer camp.

Images and video provided by Galileo camps.

Camp Galileo 2014 Locations

galileo promo


Use the code 2014INNOVATION to receive $30 off (limit one per camper, Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest) Expires: May 31, 2014. Enter the code at sign up by clicking on the purple “sign up” button on the right-hand side of the page.

Sign up for the Galileo Newsletter and you could win a f.r.ee week of camp!

PRE-K – 4th GRADE Peninsula Camps

  • Belmont: Central Elementary School
  • Hillsborough Crystal Springs: Crystal Springs Uplands School
  • Hillsborough North: North School
  • Los Altos: Almond Elementary School
  • Menlo Park: Oak Knoll School
  • Palo Alto: Walter Hays Elementary School
  • San Carlos: Arundel Elementary School
  • Woodside: Woodside School

East Bay Camps

  • Alameda: Saint Philip Neri Catholic School
  • Berkeley: Cragmont Elementary School
  • Danville: Green Valley Elementary School
  • Fremont Ardenwood: Ardenwood Elementary School
  • Fremont Mission: Gomes Elementary School
  • Lafayette: Stanley Middle School
  • Oakland: Chabot Elementary School
  • San Ramon: Country Club Elementary School
  • Walnut Creek: Walnut Acres Elementary School

South Bay Camps

  • Cupertino: St. Joseph of Cupertino School
  • San Jose Almaden: Los Alamitos Elementary School
  • San Jose Evergreen: James F. Smith Elementary School
  • Saratoga: Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School
  • Sunnyvale: Catholic Academy of Sunnyvale: St. Martin Location

San Francisco & Marin Camps

  • San Francisco North: Presidio Middle School
  • San Francisco South: Brandeis Hillel Day School
  • Tiburon: Del Mar Middle School

SUMMER QUEST (5th – 8th GRADE)

Peninsula Camps

  • Hillsborough: Crystal Springs Uplands School
  • Los Altos: Santa Rita Elementary School
  • Palo Alto: Palo Alto High School
  • San Carlos: Arundel Elementary School

East Bay Camps

  • Berkeley: Cragmont Elementary School
  • Fremont: Gomes Elementary School
  • Lafayette: Stanley Middle School
  • Oakland: Claremont Middle School

South Bay Camps

  • San Jose Almaden: Los Alamitos Elementary School
  • San Jose Evergreen: James F. Smith Elementary
  • Saratoga: Sacred Heart School
  • Sunnyvale: Resurrection Catholic School

San Francisco & Marin Camps

  • San Francisco: Brandeis Hillel Day School
  • Tiburon: Bel Aire School

Infertility: Not for Women Only

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I have been trying to have a baby for two years. Both of us have undergone lots of testing but the doctors still don’t know what the problem is. Throughout all of this, dozens of people—mostly friends and family, but also doctors, nurses, lab techs, and others—have come up to me and either offered some kind of advice, asked how my wife is doing, or told me what I need to do to support her. This whole process has been extremely stressful, and both my wife and I are emotionally devastated, but not a single person has asked how I’m doing. I’m getting really angry about being ignored and I’m trying to keep from biting someone’s head off. How should I respond?
A: Just a few decades ago, infertility was considered to be the woman’s “fault.” But today, experts know that it’s more evenly split. About 40% of the time, the cause can be traced to the woman; 40% of the time it’s traced to the man; and the remaining 20% is “unexplained.” Still, because the pregnancy would happen inside the woman’s body, society assumes that women are the only ones affected by infertility. The fact that men experience stress or grief or might be “emotionally devastated” by the shattering of their hopes and dreams rarely occurs to anyone.
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Automotive Careers Abound, If You Know Where to Look

automotive careers

Let’s face it, the best career involving four wheels and an engine block is a race car driver or a big shot engineer. But if you don’t have Speed Racer driving skills or a Henry Ford brain, plenty of unique and fun automotive careers are still abound. You just have to know what you’re looking for.

Mechanic

Perhaps the most obvious career path to take if you want to be hands-on with autos is becoming a mechanic. The average salaries for mechanics across the U.S. are trending upward, according to U.S. News. The median salary for a mechanic has steadily risen from just more than $30,000 in 2004 to almost $40,000 in 2012.

Mechanics are in high demand in cities like Detroit, San Francisco and Fairbanks, but a mechanic can go just about anywhere there are vehicles and find a job.

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