Saturday, October 7, 2006

Andrew McAllister, Ph.D. (To Love, Honor and Dismay)

Usually, on Sunday's, we have an interview with a female blogger. But not today. It is, however, with a blogger that has a huge female audience. Way to go, dude!

Seriously, it's Andrew McAllister, Ph.D. (To Love, Honor and Dismay) ...

The panel is ready with their questions...

Now, let's have the first question...

Do you have an imaginary line that gets crossed that permits you to be judgmental? In other words, do you reach a point with some who query you where you want to tell them they are flat-out wrong?

This hasn't happened yet, but certainly that line exists. Here is a fictitious example:

Dear Andrew, My neighbor is of a different race so I've told him to keep his children out of my yard and away from my kids. Am I wrong to do this?

Racism is flat-out wrong in my view of the world so this would be way over that imaginary line. I try to stick to "what makes people tick" on the site, though, rather than "Andrew's views on moral and ethical issues." I would respond to a question like this with a private email.

Can you please insert the beloved serial comma after "Honor" in the title of your blog?

This is certainly an idea worth considering. In The Elements of Style, Strunk and White suggest the serial comma should be used in phrases like "the flag is red, white, and blue" but not in the names of business entities like "Little, Brown and Company." My website is the closest thing I have to a business entity, so I guess I'll keep the name the way it is.

Do you agree with your wife's assessment of Ph.d?

Her assessment is of one particular Ph.D. only, that being me. When I think about what it means to be a "propeller head," I get an image of those beanies that first-year university students wear, only with a plastic propeller stuck on top. I think the message is, "You still have to take out the garbage." Since I take the trash out every day, I guess that means I agree.

How do you feel running inot the goalpost has affected your life the most? Would you do it again?

Mostly it has given my wife a fun story to tell when we're out with friends. If I had it to do all over again ... are you kidding? It hurt.

Having now read some of your posts, I must admit I am impressed with your responses to the Dismaying Stories. Do you use any of your advice within your own life or do you find that your life is void of the problems expressed within the stories?

Thank you for the compliment.

Everybody has to work at their relationships so I try to apply the same principles in my own life as I do when giving advice to others. I succeed some days better than others.

Considered from the opposite direction, I believe hanging around the planet for a few decades and facing life's speed bumps is a great way to gain insight into life. No textbook teaches you common sense; maturity and life experience count for a great deal. I doubt I would be able to offer much of value to others if I had not wandered through my share of thorny relationship issues.

How do you know when you're rushing into a commitment too soon?

There is no way to know for certain. You have to make a judgment call and hope you get it right. You can increase the odds of that by listening to your gut. Does it feel absolutely right? Ask people you trust, and make sure they know you want the truth. Do they think it's right for you? If you're not sure, sometimes it's better to err on the side of caution. The right commitment will usually wait for you, but it can get truly messy to back away from the wrong one. Good luck!

What's your best advice for building and maintaining a strong solid relationship?

Put your partner's interests on a par with your own, and choose a partner who will do the same for you. The really solid relationships seem to be those where both people truly want their partner to be happy and are willing to expend effort and make sacrifices to make that come true.

What pitfalls should couples with children from previous relationships be wary of?

That sounds like a good candidate for an "Ask the Faithful Readers" question. The folks who have been there, done that would certainly be able to provide plenty of valuable advice based on experience. Here are a couple of ideas that come to mind:

1) Beware of trying to become an "instant parent" to your partner's children. It takes time to gain their trust and respect.

2) A step-parent will not always achieve exactly the same role in a child's life as the natural parent. For example, some children are older when their parent re-marries. It often works best if kids in this situation are disciplined by the natural parent. On the other hand, plenty of folks consider their step-parents simply as "Mom" or "Dad." It depends on the circumstances.

I would like to ask the doctor what his stance is on medication and ADD/ADHD. Does he side with Tom Cruise or Matt Lauer?

I side with the people who must consider their own treatment alternatives. Parents, care givers, and patients are in the best position to assess how a particular treatment regimen is going and whether it should be continued or modified. If a medication helps a given person significantly, then that's good thing.

What is your favourite book?

How could I pick just one? Favorite thrill ride: The Firm by John Grisham. Favorite tale of good versus evil: The Stand by Stephen King. Favorite relationship story: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Favorite testosterone injection: Anything by Robert B. Parker or Lee Child.

What is the greatest mystery?

How did life begin? Whether you believe in creation or evolution or something in between, understanding more about how it happened would be pretty cool.

What is your favorite song?

Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips. I can't resist singing along whenever I hear it and I always want to pull the imaginary handle when the Pips sing the train whistle sound: "Whoo whoo." Coolest air band contest song of all time.

Who is the greatest leader in the world today?

I'll interpret "today" to mean "the modern era" and pick two leaders: Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev. Both men refused to accept the status quo that existed when they began their careers. They had a vision for a better world and left things significantly changed as a result of their efforts.

What question have you received that everyone should read the answer to?

A woman wrote to me about her desire to become a published writer. Her husband claimed that her efforts were simply a waste of time. She wanted my advice about getting him to be more supportive.

To me the issue is the same regardless of your personal quest. As I wrote in Can't Dream Without Him, "I'm a huge believer in having big, bold, beautiful life dreams. They add spice to our lives, give us yet another great reason to get up in the morning and give us a balance that helps us deal with all the other more mundane stuff we have to slog through each day."

Want a more supportive spouse? Then buy a big roll of duct tape. The article explains why.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A millionaire.

Why did you change your mind?

I didn't, although my current (lack of a) fee structure for providing advice might indicate otherwise. Maybe I'll buy a lottery ticket.

Which is a worse influence on America: South Park or Star Trek? And why?

I have never seen an episode of South Park, so I'm the wrong one to ask. I have watched Star Trek plenty of times, but maybe that throws us back to the "propeller head" question again...

Thanks to the good doctor for taking the time to answer our questions today. We appreciate it.

Next week, we'll have interviews with Chris Carlisle (The Platypus Society and Dimmer Switch) and with Judith (Kesher Talk).


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview, and now I have a new favorite blog to visit! Thanks.

  2. Thanks Basil! The interview looks awesome. I really appreciate the opportunity to do this.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Wonderful interview with Dr. Andrew! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you, Basil, for featuring him!

  4. GREAT interview! Thoroughly enjoyed it! You AND Dr. Andrew both did a fine job!

  5. I love to read Dr. Andrew, so I was more than intriqued to read this interview. He is so powerful to me, that I don't even blog when I'm feeling really low. I know he can sense it. Doesn't he rock?!

  6. I've only been reading Dr. Andrew's site for a couple of months. I find his writing informative, thought-provoking, and contemporary.

    Reading the interview let me know he's a human being; just as fallible as the rest of us! (that's a good thing)


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