Pratfalls of Parenting

Pratfalls of ParentingPratfalls of Parenting is a podcast hosted by my friend Levi Weinhagen. It focuses on the creative process and how it is affected by being a parent. As I have newly joined the parental ranks, Levi invited me on the show.

My episode of Pratfalls of Parenting speaks a lot about adoption, race, and creativity. If one or all of those topics interest you, then you’d be a fool to pass up giving the show a listen.

If none of those topics interest you, you’re reading the wrong blog. Get outta here.

Privilege of Indifference

For the majority of my life, I have been a rather timid individual who gets a stomach ache and the feeling of buzzing static in my brain when things get heated. Arguments and even civilized but strong discussions made me want to shut down completely and leave the area. In fact, they still make me want to do that.

It’s a privileged life when you can shy away from conflict and claim disinterest as a defense. My privilege of indifference spanned from bigger items like politics and social issues to smaller things like avoiding the Neighborhood Night Out or ignoring internet conversations where people were passionate about one thing or another.

That being said, in an ironic fashion, willful ignorance is the one item that got me to speak up. Thinking skeptically was a first step, as I was a very gullible child. Knowing where I stood on a topic, and that I had data and research to back it up, helped. But aside from one-sided fun making of items like homeopathy and psychics, I couldn’t hold my own in any sort of debate or argument without feeling that hot fuzz in my brain again and wanting desperately to hide.

I have a very logical mind, but I’m finding more and more that my real strength is in the heart. As sick as yelling makes me feel, others being treated poorly makes me even sicker. People are people, and everyone should be treated equally. Gay marriage should be legal. Women should be able to walk down the street without being treated like a pieces of meat. I felt I could retweet and even make my own pointed broadcasts on these topics. Treating people with the respect and dignity that you’d want yourself felt obvious, and it was maddening that people wanted to repress others.

And then, my entire world opened up further than I knew was possible.

If you don’t know or haven’t guessed by now, I’m a white guy. If I take a walk around my neighborhood or watch TV, I can be assured that most people I see will look like me. This is the way things have always been, and something I’ve never realized before. It’s something you don’t see until it’s pointed out to you. That’s a bubble of ignorance and comfort. That’s benefiting from privilege without knowing you had it. It feels like I woke out of the Matrix. It feels so obvious that I’ve been in a pod all this time. How could I not know I was in a pod? Why did I get so annoyed and introverted when someone tried to shake my pod?

My wife and I have just been through the process of adoption, and we now have the most wonderful baby girl in the world. Adoption is emotionally challenging for everyone involved. Birth parents, adoptive parents, and the children themselves. Our little girl will grow up with a lot of questions, which we will answer, and a lot of emotions surrounding how she came to be our daughter, which we will talk about. I want so much to make everything in the world easy and perfect for her.

And, if you haven’t guessed this by now, my daughter is a different race from my wife and me. Our neighborhood is not filled with faces that look like hers. TV is filled with people who look like her parents. Books. Cartoons. Advertisements. On top of adoption, there will be the emotionally charged topic of race that we will be very open with our daughter about. I want so much to make everything in the world easy and perfect for her.

So here I am, the white guy, thinking I’m doing great with my issues of the heart. Suddenly my daughter comes along and everything changes. I seek out news and issues relating to her culture. I want to be informed. I want to join in. I want to make a difference. I want to learn about and fight against the systematic and deeply ingrained racism of our society.

I want other people to be better than me. I want all the white people out there to realize their discomfort on issues of race is a reason to open their minds, shut their mouths, and listen to those with a different perspective. That static in your brain needs to wake you up instead of shut you down. Be better than me. Learn about white privilege and the current and constant state of racism before it becomes imperative. Learn because it’s the right thing to do, not because you have to.

I had the privilege to be ignorant. I could shy away topics that became too tough or uncomfortable. But for so many, they can never turn the conversation off. They are targeted, followed, profiled, demeaned, slandered, and even murdered. They can’t run and hide. They live with it every day, and they shouldn’t have to.

I am changing my attitude from one of privileged indifference to privileged vigilance. I can’t change the fact that I’m born into a society that treats me one way and others another, and it’s useless to try and feel bad about that. Guilt doesn’t get anyone anywhere. But I can certainly use the way I’m treated to the advantage of others, and try to get others in their bubbles to open their eyes.

I will raise my voice. I will not shy away from the tough discussions on race. I will point out the casual racism that permeates conversations online and in life. I will make the world a more just place for my daughter. As a society, we need a lot of support and understanding to make a huge change. Equality matters.

As linked in Dan Zanes’ wonderful article on being a less racist white dude, take a look at Unpacking the Invisible Backpack. There is a list in that article that will make you really realize what privilege is, if you don’t already know.

Be better than me. Open your eyes before you have to wake up. Let’s get to work.

The Creative Struggle Against Inevitability

Art Appreciation II

Art Appreciation II from Dustin Gaffke

There is art in each creative mind that will never come out of another. A weird mix of genes and chemicals make each mind unique. There are jokes, books, movies, sculptures, paintings, plays, music, comics, architecture, designs, and so much more in each individual. And when an individual is gone, so are all the possibilities locked inside them. There will never be someone who can do the same creative work ever again. The books never written. The laughter never created. The joy never spread.

The important things left in the world are not paperwork from a desk job or the timely fashion in which a lawn is mowed. These tasks can be done by most anybody. There is nothing special about them. And if a lawn mower passes away, then there is an equally good lawn mower that can take their place.

Art is special. That isn’t to say the majority of art will stand the test of time. Leaving a piece of work that will last for generations into the future is an absurd and gargantuan goal. However, that isn’t a reason to sit on ones hands. If anything, it’s a reason to do what you can while you can.

Aww nuts, I’m going to change literary perspectives now. Get out there and leave everything you have out in the world! Fulfill yourself with the amazing things you can do. There great ideas locked in you and there is a limited amount of time to get them out.

That doesn’t mean that you should stress about the end. All things must end. But don’t fool yourself into thinking there will be time later to do the things you want to do now. Keep creating as only you can. While this “unique snowflake” feel good attitude has ruined many a school child, no one else can do what you are capable of. That guy standing over there can’t write the short story about the child that is his own parents. That gal sitting over there isn’t going to make a stranger cry with complex combinations of colors on canvas.

Everything you are is locked in you. It takes the constant work of a lifetime to leave it this world. There will be nothing quite as fulfilling as being who you can be while you can.

Interesting or Amazing

Florentijn Hofman: Rubber Duck: Hong Kong 2013 / Crazyisgood Art Installation / SML.20130508.6D.05448“Interesting” isn’t good enough. An utterance of “huh” doesn’t come close to a “wow.” This is why creation is paralyzing and thrilling at the same time. There are a lot of “good enough” ideas out there that come along fairly easily. The challenge is to push past the desire to settle and waste time on something that is okay and wait for the truly inspirational ideas to hit.

At times it may feel like nothing is happening. Periods of lukewarm ideas can lead to self doubt. Maybe the spark of creation was lost or never existed. That’s the price of being picky and working to make the best. The valleys are low and filled with shadows and stomach acid.

Working on a plain is worse than the valleys. Okay ideas may pass, but the dizzying euphoric highs of an amazing idea crush the mediocrity of time wasted doing projects that don’t matter or inspire. A clear and obstruction free horizon are not a goal to work at. It’s the undiscovered peaks of the mind’s mountains that matter. The ideas that nobody else has discovered. Fresh footprints in the snow of untouched country.

Creative works should inspire and challenge. They shouldn’t settle for “interesting.” “Interesting” is how people describe scalloped potatoes with pinch of cumin added. It’s the “nice” used to describe a wallflower.

Don’t create with the goal of production. Always create with the intention to amaze. Otherwise nobody will care enough to remember. There is no point in making something forgettable. There is every reason to make something to astound.

The Plateau of Laziness

Lazy CatI’ve never been, but I hear that hitting rock bottom is hard to miss. What’s harder to recognize is the plateau of your own effort. It’s hard to recognize because it feels fine, like a warm bath. You’re doing what you have been for the past several months and things aren’t getting worse. But you’re not growing.

If your work were easy, you might recognize something is off and make a correction. But when your work is in that Goldilocks zone of feeling just right, your efforts can stall out. You become a whale enjoying a day on the beach. And if you will remember, whales do not belong on beaches.

There is nothing wrong with taking a step back and enjoying the work you’ve done and continue to do. If you’re not getting enjoyment from what you do, then what’s the point? But feeling content can be a sign of stagnation. I’m not saying contentment means the death of creativity, but it wouldn’t kill you to take a look inside and see why you’re feeling content.

Hopefully, any self exploration will bring you the answer. If you find the words “good enough,” you might be in trouble. If you find the words “extremely happy with where I’m at,” please share your secrets with the rest of the world.

The recognition of this plateau of laziness should be enough to snap you out of your lull. It’ll feel like your eyes have been closed and you’re suddenly awake. Use the energy that comes with this discovery to push you into great work. Be prepared to recognize when you become contented again, and be ready to break into that cycle sooner. Perhaps, with time and effort, you can practically eliminate the plateau. An expert sailor, navigating around the stagnant air pockets in your brain!

The next magic trick is to marry satisfaction with continued progress. I’ll let you know if I figure that one out.

The SGT Peterson’s Signs Have Stopped

EDIT: As of 10/20/2012, the SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp signs have begun to reappear.

After my email exchange with Tim Peterson took a menacing tone, I thought it might be a good idea to get the press involved. You can find the Star Tribune article right here.

With Tim Peterson publicly stating that his company will stop putting up illegal signs (again), it seems like this one particular sign battle is over. And so, as the nice guy I am, I am taking down the below Google review.

SGT Peterson's Review

Assuming he truly has stopped, then my “continues to” statement is inaccurate. Of course, if more illegally placed signs pop up, then the statement becomes true again.

But, really, I hope this is the end of this battle. Feel free to contact SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp and take a class there. I have nothing against the business. I have something against illegal advertising practices. And since those practices have stopped, I don’t have anything else to say.

As the article states, we have the right to pluck illegal advertising out of the ground and off of utility poles. Keep your neighborhoods beautiful. Be proud of where you live. I’ll help out the best I can. You see, I get busy sometimes.

More illegal street spam for SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp

EDIT: As of 10/20/2012, the SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp signs have begun to reappear.

For the time being, it seems like this issue is resolved. Click here to see the current status of this issue. The below content is kept as a record of events.

This Twitter message alerted me to the fact that Lyndale was swamped with more illegal (a website domain owned my Tim ‘SGT’ Peterson of SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp) street spam. I rushed to the scene and performed sign removal surgery on the road. The patient made a full recovery. You can find video and pictures of the procedure below.

Emails with SGT Peterson

EDIT: As of 10/20/2012, the SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp signs have begun to reappear.

For the time being, it seems like this issue is resolved. Click here to see the current status of this issue. The below content is kept as a record of events.

While you have seen a few exchanges with Tim Peterson of SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp on my blog, he has continued to contact me over email. Here, for your reading pleasure, is the extent of our conversation.

And, yes. My first email is full of errors. But I’m presenting these as is. Enjoy.

From: Timothy Peterson
To: Aric McKeown
Date: Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 1:59 PM
Subject: Please STOP!

Please remove all mention of my company from your blog. Thank you in advance.

Please do not post again to any of my company’s, employees or my personal websites including all social media platforms or I will be forced
to take swift action.

We were hoping you had a sense of humor but you have take this way to far with your latest facebook post.

Thank you.

Tim ‘SGT’ Peterson
SGT Peterson’s
1313 Chestnut Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Mobile: 612-399-6080
Toll Free 1-866-877-3110

Please connect with me!

From: Aric McKeown
To: Timothy Peterson
Date: Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 2:07 PM


Everything posted on my blog is from conversations viewable by anyone with access to the internet. Nothing is from hidden or private conversations. It stays up.

Why do say that you will not longer continue to post signs illegally, yet not even a week ago you are post on Facebook that you are looking to illegally hire people to post more illegal signs, which you know is illegal several times over, within Minneapolis? If you stop doing illegal things, then I have nothing to write about. But you have proven, time and time again, that you’ll say one thing and do another.

Sense of humor has nothing to do with it. You and your company continue to break the law. And it’s the public’s right to know about. So either cease your illegal advertising or accept that your illegal actions will be monitored.

I have nothing wrong with your business. Boot camps are a great idea. I do have a problem with illegal activities, and you should too.

Aric McKeown

From: Timothy Peterson
To: Aric McKeown
Date: Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 2:25 PM


You drew the line posting on my company’s facebook page.

If you want to have a blog that is one thing. Anything more is slander, and anything other then a blog post from you on your blog will be viewed as such from this point on.

Maybe that was a test to see what you would do……

You also do not have permission to use my logo or on your website or any were for that matter. That in itself is illegal.

It’s also illegal use the other trademarked company’s logo’s on your site even in a video.

Please stop this nonsense. Thank you.

From: Aric McKeown
To: Timothy Peterson
Date: Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Tim, XXXX, and YYYY,

The photograph on my website is considered commentary and is protected under the terms of Fair Use.

There is no intent to slander you or your company. Facts are being stated and commented on. This is allowed in any public forum.

I am a citizen advocate against illegal advertising, and I have no tolerance for letting this matter go without recourse. You cannot intimidate me into revoking my civil right to complain about this illegal practice. If you continue to press me on the matter I will escalate it. Your best course of action at this time is to cease and desist your illegal advertising campaigns, which I am monitoring.

I don’t harbor any ill will against your business, but I do vehemently oppose your trash littering my city. Cease your illegal activities and we will have nothing further to discuss.


From: YYYY
To: Aric McKeown, Timothy Peterson
Date: Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Tim and Aric,

I do not wish to be a part of these messages. I hope you are able to resolve this issue.


From: Timothy Peterson
To: Aric McKeown
Date: Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 4:01 PM
Subject: I will be forced to my lawyer

Please stop your continued harassment.

Thank you.

“Inspiring the world with more then just a workout”

Tim ‘SGT’ Peterson
SGT Peterson’s
1313 Chestnut Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Direct: 612-399-6080
Toll Free 1-866-877-3110

Please connect with me!

From: Aric McKeown
To: Timothy Peterson
Date: Sun, Jun 26, 2011 at 9:46 AM

As long as you continue to knowingly use illegal means to promote your business, I will continue to use perfectly legal ways to point it out. Please stop doing illegal things.


From: Timothy Peterson
To: Aric McKeown
Date: Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 9:40 PM
Subject: Three Options


#1. We can meet in person and solve this issue like gentleman ASAP, like in the next 48 hours.

#2. You can remove everything you have about us online forever including reviews and never post on anything we are affiliated with again. In exchange I will insure you never see another SGT Peterson sign again.

#3. I will go another route that YOU, and I WILL NOT ENJOY. I see no point in this but your continued assault on my company WILL NOT go on.

First I was trying to have fun with this, now I am doing my best trying to be civil about this.

If you choose two take option 2, you will get your wish and I will get mine.

#2 is simply a win for both of us, and a cooperative effort to simply solve the issue. No more no less.

Please do not make this be a lose for both of us.

Thank you for the time.

P.S. If I do not hear from you within 48 hours I will assume you choose option #3.

Inspiring performance through camaraderie and movement with, “more than just a workout”.

Tim ‘SGT’ Peterson
SGT Peterson’s
1313 Chestnut Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Direct: 612-399-6080
Toll Free 1-866-877-3110

Please connect with me!

From: Aric McKeown
To: Timothy Peterson
Date: Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Dear Tim and XXXX,

Perhaps you have forgotten my original Google review. I took that down as soon as you agreed that your advertising was illegal and you claimed it would stop. I will take down the review if I see evidence that you have stopped your illegal advertising, as you would no longer be continuing to “knowingly practice illegal advertising methods to gain business.” I have proven this before. But I don’t know what evidence you can provide to me that will prove you have stopped. 30 days of streets clear of your signs is a start.

And, of course, Google offers their own options to remove inappropriate reviews. I assume my review has not been removed by Google after your complaints because it is factual and legal.

I intend to write an addendum to my blog posts when you have finally stopped your illegal activities. Again, I have the same reservations about you actually stopping your illegal advertising as stated above.

As for your threats in option three, I am well within my legal rights to say everything I’ve said where I’ve said it. My attorney has assured me of this. So if you are planning on a losing a civil suit in an effort to cost us both money, I think we’d both be better off continuing as is. Of course, your threat was rather vague. If you are planning on some illegal form of retaliation, there isn’t much I can do about that.

Your vague threats are a form of coercion, which is very illegal. Do not think for a moment that I am helpless in this situation.

All I have wanted from day one is for you to stop posting illegal advertising in my state. You have even agreed to stop. You have even agreed that it was illegal. But you have continued.

You can not infringe upon my civil rights. There are institutions set up to guarantee and protect freedom of speech. Especially freedom of speech that contains no lies. If you believe that I have been slanderous, then you are in denial of the very admissions you have made. This entire situation has been well documented.

If you are willing to remove your signs and stop any further illegal activities, I am willing to make edits to my current published materials to make that clear. But what has happened has happened. It is public record. I will not be bullied into submission.

Aric McKeown

From: Timothy Peterson
To: Aric McKeown
Date: Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 1:42 PM


I have nothing to gain unless you remove everything from the internet.
Writing an addendum does not remove any damage that has been done to my company from the past.
It will remain there forever. That is a very long time.

If this info remains on the internet forever what do I have to gain by meeting any of your demands?
The answer is nothing.

This must be a win, win situation. Or it just does not make sense.

What you have purposed is not a win, win situation at all.

Aric your win equals no SGT Peterson’s signs immediately.

My win equals all things off the internet immediately.

Its that simple, there is no bullying or civil rights being infringed on.

If you can agree to that you will get your wish.

If not, then I will be forced into a corner that I do not want to be in and I will be forced to fight my way out.

Just like you I believe in standing up for my beliefs and I will not back down.

I am open to any win, win solution.

From: Aric McKeown
To: Timothy Peterson
Date: Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 2:52 PM


You should stop doing illegal things because it is the right thing to do, not because you’ve made a deal. There is no corner you have backed into; You have done illegal things, you continue to do illegal things. You can stop doing illegal things or not. It is not my choice to make.

I am an observer and an objector in this regard, a citizen exercising free speech. Any proposal you make to silence my voice is coercion, which is also illegal. I have my beliefs. If your beliefs give you entitlement to break the law, your issues aren’t with me, they are with the City of Minneapolis.

If you stop doing illegal things, out of integrity I will write an addendum to my articles. This is not a deal. This is what I would do regardless. I am stating the facts of the situation. If you move to discontinue your illegal advertising, then that is a fact I would write about.

You have made and continue to make demands in regards to my civil rights. You cannot coerce or threaten me, and I owe you nothing. I am well within the law and you are outside of it. Any legal move you make would be frivolous, and my legal counsel is briefed and confident in my actions. If you advance any further on this issue, you may want to read into my rights before you threaten them again. I have.

Aric McKeown

From: Timothy Peterson
To: Aric McKeown
Date: Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 3:02 PM


When everything comes down that you have written about us, you may see action on my end.

This has not violation of your rights.

You have every right to say and type anything you want. I have fought for you to have the right.

I have the right to do the same, if you want me to do something I do not want to do, you will have to do the same.

Until then the issue remains, and I hope that it turns out to be everything that you expect it to be.

P.S. Not all of the communication you have had with my company is from me and many of your facts are inaccurate at best.

Please stop he attack and work on a solution.

I didn’t answer back. At this point, it was completely futile.

It has been 3202 days 10 hours 42 minutes 50 seconds since my 48 hour deadline expired.

New to the blog? Here are the past articles on this topic:

New SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp URL, Same Illegal Advertising

EDIT: As of 10/20/2012, the SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp signs have begun to reappear.

For the time being, it seems like this issue is resolved. Click here to see the current status of this issue. The below content is kept as a record of events.

Because it is the 4th of July weekend, I was let out of work a little early today. I decided to spend that extra time hunting down and removing snipe advertising. If you see less “snow removal” signs on telephone poles in south Minneapolis, that’s all me.

When I hit Lyndale Ave, I came across a boot camp sign I had never seen before! This one was for Was a new boot camp hitting the town and trying to out-spam SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp?

A quick and easy search on showed me that this domain was registered to Timothy Peterson. You probably know him better as SGT Peterson.

New URL. Same illegal advertising.

What’s really funny is the website has no contact information on it, and nothing to tell you who runs it. There is simply a form to fill out for more information.

But the registration information tells all. And it only costs an extra $10 to hide the registrar information when buying a domain name.

So close!

And keep a look out for,, and coming to a snipe sign near you.

Update 07/05/2011
Digging a little deeper, out of curiosity today, I took a quick look around the internet for the pictured testimonials:

Of course, I can’t say if people did or did not say these things. But here is where a few of the images came from:

Jessica’s picture from Getty Images
Jacob’s from France on Flickr
Jackie’s from Taiwan on Flickr

With the photos being fake, I have a feeling that the testimonials might be fake too. You know. Just a hunch.

SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp Knowingly Breaking the Law

EDIT: As of 10/20/2012, the SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp signs have begun to reappear.

For the time being, it seems like this issue is resolved. Click here to see the current status of this issue. The below content is kept as a record of events.

On June 9th I had a lovely conversation with Tim “SGT” Peterson over email. He wanted me to remove anything about his company from my blog. I wanted him to stop doing illegal things.

In the end, neither of us got what we wanted. My blog on SGT Peterson’s illegal advertising stayed up and SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp put up more illegal signs all over Minneapolis.

So, I went out today to capture the illegally placed signs on video. Enjoy and pass it around. Maybe then, SGT Peterson’s will stop littering in our lovely metropolis.

UPDATE 06/29/2011
I almost thought this issue had come to a close today. I saw this on the @SGTPetersons Twitter feed this morning.

SGT Peterson's Sold to Bally Total Fitness

What followed was a really weird press release, saying someone had JUST purchased 51% of SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp and then had sold it right over to Bally Total Fitness. SGT Peterson himself would only receive 10% of the $350,000 purchase price.

They also claimed to have entered into an exclusive agreement with Groupon. Groupon confirmed this in a separate email.

Oh yeah. And then the press release claimed that SGT Peterson’s would be taking over the Bally’s personal training program and kicking out anyone who wasn’t up to their quality and “core value” standards.

If this press release was true, then it would be great news for me! I wouldn’t have to keep cleaning up the SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp sign spam from around Minneapolis anymore! Happy day!

Then this came through on the separate @SGTPeterson Twitter account.

GOT YOU! WE (I) WILL NEVER SELL OUT. Especially to Bally Total Fitness! We just wanted to make sure you were all paying attention.

Aww nuts.