Kyle Marksteiner is Editorial Director of Focus on Carlsbad.
He can be reached at

May 6 Panic!

I inadvertently caused a state of panic among the other men at the grocery store this morning. My mother is in town, so I went to the store and bought a card and cake.
“Oh crap, is it Mother’s Day this week?” asked the large oilfield worker behind me.
Another guy walking down the aisle behind us overheard our conversation and diverted his course in the direction of the greeting card aisle.
I informed the guy behind me that I was buying the card early, since my mom was only in town today.
“Oh good!” he declared. “I would have been in a lot trouble with my mom and my wife.”
Moments later, the teenage sacker, who had presumably been daydreaming up to this point, looked down at my purchases and frowned in concern.

“Oh shoot, this week is Mother’s Day?” he asked.



A Sense of Wonder

This year, I was honored with an invitation to attend Carlsbad High School’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) banquet. (BPA is, incidentally, a great program). It was a two-hour affair, featuring three (3!) separate inspirational PowerPoint presentations, a touching candlelight ceremony and a highly-detailed, emotional recounting of every single shared memory that took place over the past 18 months or so.

Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” blasted as our upcoming generation of business professionals shared their hopes, dreams and memories.

Emotions ran high. There was pageantry galore, and keep in mind that this particular event was just two days after the prom, two weeks before graduation, and smack in the middle of a dozen or so other end-of-year galas and banquets.

On the flip side, I’ve also recently attended a few goodbye parties for folks who are retiring after putting in 20 or 30 years of service. Such affairs have typically been on the opposite end of the pageantry spectrum. The traditional workplace event involves standing awkwardly around a cake in the breakroom for 15 minutes or so, and then one manager stammers out a few lines thanking the employee for their multiple decades of service and thousands of hours of work. The party is held at the same time as the monthly safety meeting, because we might as well get that done, too. So, there are five minutes of discussion of eyeglass safety and then that’s a wrap. No candles. No PowerPoints. Not even that much nostalgia.

It would be easy to make fun of teenage proclivity toward emotional extravagance (we will now recount our favorite moments of the first half of this banquet!), but I’m presently inclined to take the opposite view. Somewhere between senior year’s month-long festival and a greatly subdued 30-year retirement, I respectfully submit that we ignored Lee Ann Womack’s advice. I think lost our sense of wonder. Adults are boring.

Only that’s not totally fair. The same stoic, retiring employee is likely busy thinking about her grandkid’s upcoming baseball tournament or his daughter’s dance recital or a graduating senior’s BPA banquet. One of the reasons we put up with spilled juice, abandoned chicken strips and eyerolls is that our young people (by which I mean both teenagers and children) bring a sense of wonder to the equation. They have energy and dreams that we, the tired adults of the world, sort of plug into.

But is it totally healthy to rely exclusively upon our children to act as our surrogates for any sense of wonder and enthusiasm? Or should we strive just a little bit to bring a bit more pageantry and emotion into our own affairs?

I mean, some measure of reservation is age appropriate. Nobody wants to see a bunch of 50- and 60-year-olds in an office breakroom holding candles up into the air and issuing bold proclamations about the light of the future. On the other hand, maybe we can liven it up just a bit. I can’t help but think of my teacher friend Karen Orgain, who celebrated her retirement by dancing the night away in sparkling four-inch heels. Let’s all be a little more like Karen. Sooner or later, you will have another grown-up event that could either involve awkward standing around, or it could involve a little more pizzazz. And when you get that choice?

Well, I hope you dance.


The People Who Write Instructions For Appliances Are Awful

If you will indulge me for a moment- here are the instructions for the “Lid Lock Kit” for our new washing machine. New washing machines all come with this stupid new auto lock feature where you are not trusted to open your own darn washing machine. Ours got stuck and was yanked open, and here we are. Basically, now the washer refuses to go into cycle mode because the stupid lid lock thing is out of place.

I’m not a fix-it guy, so I have to rely on instructions for projects. But the instructions above are completely worthless. Basically, if the person who wrote these instructions were telling you how to bake a cake the instructions would be  1.Bake Cake.

Let’s look at them in a little more depth:

Step 1 is  a reasonable safety feature. Step 6 is the opposite of the safety feature. Fair enough.

Step 4. Is an awful lot of detail about installing the “bezel” – basically, your bezel needs to be in the right place.

This leaves us with Steps 2,3 and 5 as the meat and potatoes of the instructions. Only there is no meat, or potatoes.

Step 2: “Replace Lid Lock as Normal” literally tells me that the instructions for replacing the lid lock is to replace the lid lock. No detail is provided. How do I get to the lid lock? What part of the washer opens? What does “as normal” mean? I’m not a washer-repair person, so these details are important.

Step 3: “Replace the old bezel with the new bezel” – Again, this is a complete instruction, not a detail. I am provided with no information about how to do this or where to do this or even really what the heck a bezel is.

Step 5: “Replace all parts and panels” – what? Wasn’t this covered by Steps 2 and 3? How do you manage to provide no information about how to do something and still manage to be redundant?

Dear moronic instructing-writing fools. Assume that the person reading your instructions is doing so the first time. Where are these parts located? How do I get to them? What tools do I use? What needs to be done to take them out? I’d like to conclude by offering instructions for building the space shuttle, as written by this jerkface.

1.       Step One- Get parts for Space Shuttle

2.       Step Two- Build Space Shuttle

3.       Step Three- Plug in Space Shuttle


Krista Marrs Update: repelling one robot at a time

It has been a long, long time since I’ve posted a blog on this site, but we are overdue!  I’m going to pass things on to Krista Marrs, Tour Manager for the Dallas-area band “repel the robot,” and a 2011 graduate of Carlsbad High School. Enjoy catching up with Krista!

~ Kyle


What activities were you involved in during your time in Carlsbad?

Extracurricular activities included MESA, Key Club, Band, National Honor Society, and Natural Helpers. I also did a lot of volunteering and kept busy with all the different clubs and AP classes. I held office in all of those organizations at one point or another through high school. 

How did you get involved in the band? Tell me how the band started?

The band is made up of 2 guys, Sean Trauth and Jarrett Shaffer from Albuquerque. It’s kind of random but funny story; I actually didn’t know these guys at all until I got a cool job booking entertainment at UNM. Sean was actually my boss and we became friends. He left because he graduated and moved to Texas to start the band full time with Jarrett leaving me behind to take over the organization we worked at.

Around this time (February/March) last year the guys called me up and asked my plans after graduation. Of course, I had no real plans so they asked if I wanted to join the team as their manager. I immediately agreed because I knew this could be an opportunity of a lifetime. 

So I graduated May of 2015 and moved to Dallas, TX in September. 

What type of music? Where do they play?

They have the perfect music to listen to during the robot invasion.

They have a very unique sound because they don't like to limit themselves to just one or two genres. They like electronic music, but they're also rooted in rock and roll. They mix in blues, alternative, indie, and everything in between. It's always hard to describe their sound and easier to just go listen! 

We have been selected to open up for Robert DeLong at Trees in Dallas on 2/19 which is a huge show for us. The guys have definitely played their fair share of bars around Dallas, but also bigger festivals such as SXSW in Austin, TX - Center of the Universe in Tulsa, Oklahoma - Backwoods in Stroud, Oklahoma - KXT Summer Cut in Dallas, TX and they're scheduled to play some more large festivals internationally, which are currently un-announced. 

What’s your job as manager like? Is this a full time thing? 

Managing the band is definitely an interesting experience, and nothing like I thought it would be. I do everything from being their point of contact for venues, to carrying gear, setting up their equipment before a show, making sure they eat and have water on stage, and watching to make sure they don't fall or get hurt when they jump off stage. 

I am there to deal with all the extra stuff that comes up so that they can focus on their music. Sometimes I'll sell merchandise, other times I take videos/photos for their snapchat or extra footage on the go pro. There are other times I have to work with the sound or lighting tech to make sure they look good on stage.

It's a blast and I enjoy every moment of the show. I usually try to make it to all their meetings and practices so I’m always in the know with what’s going on. We are a solid team and we make sure that we stay on the page as far as anything we decide to do to promote the band or play shows.

As of right now it's not full time because we don't have a lot of shows, but with more shows and more promotion we are working to make it so!

What is something about the band that really makes them stand out?

They have a sound that you don't hear from every band. They try to make unique music with influences all over the spectrum of genres. They work really hard and they don't follow the norm. The guys are into doing whatever makes sense for them rather than what they think they should or what is popular…they pretty much do what they want…and they manage to make everything themselves rather than consulting a producer or a PR firm, or otherwise.

What’s your day to day life like when you are on tour?

We have yet to organize a full tour; since I’ve only been in Dallas with the guys as of September 2015 we have only had one-off shows via airplane trips and other closer show destinations. We want to make sure that when we do go out it makes sense financially and promotionally. We know that being in a band is like being in business. We’ve got to make smart decisions because we want to see this last. I am working on putting some shows together, so stay posted for show date announcements via the repel the robot Facebook page!

Explain the name “repel the robot” Is it lowercase?

Why not?

What else are you up to?

They have their EP "[ AKA ]" releasing February 19 on the same day they’re opening for Robert DeLong. They release a video every other Tuesday on YouTube and Facebook so check out all of their mashups, acoustic covers, and crazy things. We’ll be announcing some other shows very soon.




About repel the robot

The band is following up the premiere of “Feels Damn Good” with the official music video for the first track on [ AKA ], “Rebirth.” As the intro track to [ AKA ], the “Rebirth” music video visualizes the band’s growth and transition into a new chapter, while also giving you a glimpse into the bands’ unique live performance. The official music video for “Rebirth” drops on February 9th. You can get an early preview of the video on their YouTube channel here:

Having won JanSport’s 6th Annual Battle of the Bands to perform at SXSW 2015, running through the major festival circuit in 2015, as well as national/international radio play, repel the robot are continuing to make a big mark in the music scene. They have already played alongside bands Panic! At The Disco, American Authors, ODESZA, Belle & Sebastian and Slow Magic.

 [ AKA ] releases February 19th on all major digital distribution channels, including iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.

Follow repel the robot on Social Media:


Twitter: @repeltherobot

Instagram: @repeltherobot


Music available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and more.






Calling a Truce in the "Mommy Wars"

Is it best to be a stay at home mom? A working mom? A “work at home” mom who tries to juggle both?

That’s one of the ongoing debates circulating the blogosphere and various message boards right now. I know I’m an outsider here (cue: why are you even reading mommy blogs?) but I submit that it has become the second most annoying discussion on the internet. (The most annoying, by far, is the young militant atheist types versus anyone stupid enough to respond to them).

 Here’s an example of the mommy debate:

Here’s a summary: “I stay home because you (my child) are the most important thing in the world. I don’t care what the feminists say.”

 The obvious issue there is the strawman. Or straw woman. I’m certainly not involved in upper level feminist discussions, but I’m fairly certain that is not what feminists are saying. Feminists, at least based upon my very limited understanding, support your right to make a choice on whether you want to work or not work. They are not taking a stand on which option is better. I think feminists, in a previous phase of the movement, encouraged women to enter the workplace, but that is not presently the case.

 But this column is not atypical. There are hundreds more where Stay At Home Moms, Work At Home Moms or Working Moms feel a need to defend themselves from the perceived opposition. Only the defense itself includes a counterstrike that itself is viewed as judgmental. Cue defensive rebuttal from the opposition. Rinse. Repeat.

 So Mom A might write “Took Billy to the park today. It’s so important that we focus on them during their formative years!” and Mom B, who worked on a grant proposal while Emily played with her toys, might perceive that second sentence as being just a bit judgmental. And thus launches a 10,000 post debate about whether there is more nobility to being a Stay At Home Mom or a Work At Home Mom. The debate itself may even eclipse grant proposal writing time or cognitive playground development time.

 First of all, please realize that this is a good problem to have. I’d imagine that 99 percent of the moms in the world don’t have the luxury of being able to browse through life’s expected roles and hand pick a combination that optimizes their life.

 At many households, including most in this country and my own, women work because two incomes are needed to get by.  Or, for that matter, women work because one income is needed to get by. There are many other households across the world where women are not allowed to work due to cultural, religious, social and even financial reasons.

 I am so very (and sincerely) glad that you have this choice. We need to all keep fighting to get a world where more women are able to make this choice, but please be aware of the fact that this “debate” is often perceived as an Uptown Girl issue by women who don’t have the luxury of being able to make this choice.

Unlike most other debates, the nice thing is that this one is very easily resolved. Here: You can be a good mother and person and contributing citizen and be a stay at home mom. You can be a good mother and person and contributing citizen and be a working mom. You can be a good mother and person and contributing citizen and be a work at home mom. We cool?

 That sounds trite, and I know everyone involved in this debate would largely agree with the paragraph above. Only we are doing most of our communication these days via the written word on the internet, which means we’ve abandoned thousands of years of developed non-verbal cues we relied upon to help us sift through the meaning of what the person we are communicating with is actually trying to say. So there’s a higher proclivity for miscommunication and misunderstanding, which leads to defensiveness.

 So everyone knows that the above paragraph is true, but then they read something by the other side that seems a bit judgmental. Had the conversation taken place in person, the comments may have correctly and compassionately been perceived as the other person’s own insecurities.  Instead, with just a few lines of words, they counter with a few lines of their own. Rinse and Repeat.

 What I think a feminist might say about this whole thing is point out that women feel an incredible amount of pressure to do it all. They are expected to be Super Mom and expected to be Super Worker. So the world’s best stay at home mom still feels pressure that she isn’t doing enough with her career. The world’s business and political female leaders get asked questions about why they are not spending more time with the kids. Women who try to perfectly balance both career and family still feel pressure that they’re somehow just not doing enough. That pressure, whether it is self or socially inflicted, needs to be reduced.

But I’ve really got nothing else to offer in terms of solutions, so I’m going to double down on the trite. Every single one of those options is absolutely fine. Most importantly, the choice you made is a good choice. The fact that there are always sacrifices is unavoidable and not a terrible problem.

 There is no "best."