I Still Wish Some Of You Would Just Shut Up

facepalm the earlier years paris louvre facepalm I Still Wish Some Of You Would Just Shut Up

Editor’s Note: We first ran this 2.5 years ago but much if not most is still applicable. I spent a large part of Saturday night trying not to throttle some people. I listened to idiots with money talk about Ebola and tried not to slap them for spreading ignorance. I listened to them talk about politics and asked them to tell me why anything they said was significant and or important.

When they asked why I looked at one of them and told them they were good at regurgitating what they read but wanted to know if they thought about it or if they questioned anything they heard. That led to the usual party rhetoric and I just walked away because they reminded me of the walking dead. I haven’t any patience to listen to people complain about things they don’t understand and less for those who won’t lift a finger to try to change it.

In my world the shit is bad right now, most days life isn’t much fun because there is too much stress and too much rough crap for fun. Every day is a freaking struggle to keep the Titanic from sinking a second time. The aristocrats can while away their time fighting over which party is better but not me.

I have a bucket I am using to bail water, a hose to put out fires and my freaking fists to beat off the hordes that are trying to take my life boat away because they don’t recognize if we worked together there would be room for all.

But they aren’t listening because they are the kind of people who say ‘how are you” because it is routine and not because they want to know. They aren’t listening because their minds are closed and they think they know what I am going to say before I say it.

And they aren’t listening because they have been lucky enough not to face real adversity so when they talk about spending less it means they won’t take a second vacation not that they are giving up their health insurance so their kids still have it or they won’t buy new clothes so there is food on the table.

So the hell with them. If they won’t help find a solution they are part of the problem.

I wish that some of you would just shut up. I am not kidding because I really do wish you would just stop blogging. No, I am not being nice and yes I know what your mother said about not speaking if you don’t have anything nice to say.

You can tell mom to just shut up too. Do me a favor tell her twice and say that Jack sends his love. Tell her that I use two spaces after periods because I don’t give a fuck if some typographers get upset about it.

They mean well but I have too many other things that are chafing my hide. I am too busy trying to figure out why our public school system is broken and wondering if I can afford to go see the dentist.

I have health insurance but I don’t have dental insurance. I gave it up so that I could pay for private school for my kids. I couldn’t afford to pay for everyone in the family anyway but I make sure that the kids see the dentist for their regular teeth cleaning.

When mom asks you why I am being rude tell her that I am not really being rude. Tell her that it is rude not to be angry about the homeless guys who are sleeping on the street because they have no other place to go. Tell her that people who are unemployed aren’t all lazy and that lots of them want jobs.

Tell her to be thankful that she has a roof over her head and food on the table. Let her know that there are educated people on the street because shit happens. Let her know that some of them got hit my medical bills that overwhelmed them and that when their companies laid them off they didn’t get severance and that no one wants to hire middle management because they have too much experience.

Let her know that it is time to stop blaming god for why things are good or bad. Tell her that we waste copious amounts of money fighting to stop gay marriage because we need to fight the moral decline here and that the decline of infrastructure isn’t important.

We don’t need to retrofit bridges, repair broken water mains or worry about keeping public libraries open. Tell mom that her dear friend Jack can’t be pigeonholed as a Republican or a Democrat because he has learned to hate both parties.

That is because it has become more important to make the other side look bad than to fix common problems. Tell mom that I will continue to tell people to shut up because they haven’t bothered to learn enough about the issues to explain why supporting or fighting them are important.

Tell mom that I can’t be bothered to listen to another tale about how Bush stole the election or how Obama isn’t really a citizen. Tell her that I can’t listen to Democrats blame every bad thing on Republicans and that I can take listening to Republicans blame the Democrats either.

Just Shut up

Tell mom that in the blogosphere I am sick and tired of blogs where the authors consistently take the easy road because their readers don’t hold them accountable. Not every post is great. Not everyone is a winner. Some posts suck. Sometimes we fall down and we fail.

I say ‘we’ because I include myself in that group. And when mom asks if I have an ego and think I am better than some bloggers you can tell her that I do and I am. Tell her that I don’t claim to have all the answers but that I am trying.

Let her know that the primary reason I am so damn angry is because I don’t see changes. I don’t hear coherent plans for improving things for all of us. Tell her that when I suggest that it is better to have an educated and healthy populace it doesn’t make me a socialist and that if you are going to call me names you need to understand what you are saying and why.

And then tell mom that this isn’t a rah rah speech. It is not me trying to be inspirational. It is just me venting because sometimes people really suck.

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Sometimes You Need More Than Just Words

joshuatree Sometimes You Need More Than Just Words
Joshua Tree National Park
Elmer Tree (Yucca brevifolia); Desert Queen Valley
NPS Photo by Robb Hannawacker.

Noon approaches on Sunday morning and I am back at the computer listening to Abbey Road.

Kids are downstairs fighting about who should be doing homework and who should be watching televisions but for the moment I am ignoring them, giving them time to work it out because no one will be happy if I am forced to insert myself.

HBO has been showing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It is like a handful of other movies like Walk The Line, Casablanca and The Godfather that stop me in my tracks.

The select few are movies that touched pieces and parts of me, each for different reasons but all remind me of the need to do my best to live my dreams and not dream my life.

I sit here trying to think of the right words to use while George Harrison sings Something and I smile because this song tells a story and that is what I am meant to do with my life.

Tell stories.

But you can’t tell the kind of stories I want to tell without really living and that is a big part of what I love about Mitty. It is a huge tale and even if you hate the actor or think the movie is awful you can get lost in the scenery.

Sometimes You Need More Than Just Words

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what words you use because they aren’t enough. I don’t know if I can really tell you what I see inside my head or what I am feeling inside my heart now so I have some clips to share with you because sometimes you need more than just words.

0 Sometimes You Need More Than Just Words 0 Sometimes You Need More Than Just Words

Every time and I see these clips I think about they are constructed and think about the stories I want to tell. I ask what is holding things up and wonder how much is fear and how much is inertia.

No one wants to be the fool but storytelling requires a suspension of fear.

Life Is Where You Make It

The kids have worked things out and quiet has been restored to the house. It is hard not to smile because as I listened to them negotiate their terms I could tell some of what we have taught them has sunk in.

Small victories lead to bigger ones.

Last night the family went to a Bar Mitzvah.

It was a beautiful house and a beautiful party thrown by some dear friends but not everyone who attended was a fan of Old Jack Steiner. One man could barely contain his contempt for my thoughts and ideas.

For a moment I considered telling him I think he is a pompous windbag who defines shallow but decided it might be more fun to make up some silly stories.

Mostly it was because he didn’t have the decency to hide his feelings or to try and excuse himself from the conversation he inserted himself into.

Perhaps it was a good thing he couldn’t see the film playing inside my head. I suspect he would have been shocked to find out what I really thought, but none of that really matters.

That is just another moment I’ll try to use to become a better storyteller.

I am too busy planning a trip to Iceland and thinking about all of the other places I intend to visit. Might be a while before I get to them but I will because those experiences are part of living life and not dreaming it.

I don’t listen to the critics because there will always be people who splash cold water on our dreams. Better to be the person who blazes the trail than the one who fears to step off of it because they don’t know how to think for themselves.

Life is where you make it and not just where people tell you to live.

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Best Bloggers Are Storytellers- 2014 Edition

roosevelt yosemite The Best Bloggers Are Storytellers  2014 Edition
President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir riding horses along a road in Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in the distance, accompanied by Park Rangers Archie Leonard and Charles Leidig, followed by unidentified man on foot; left to right, Leonard, Muir, Roosevelt, Leidig. Courtesy of NPS.

Some of you may be familiar with The Best Bloggers Are StorytellersThe Best Bloggers Are Storytellers Part 2 and The Best Bloggers Are Storytellers- 2013 Edition.

You don’t need to read or have read any of those posts to appreciate this one but if you are unfamiliar with them I wouldn’t complain if you checked them out or if you decided to become a fan of my Facebook page, thus ends the overt self promotion part of this post.

Blogs Are The Whole, Posts Are The Part

My children often hear me tell them not to sweat the small stuff. I am always sincere when I say it and I should take my own advice because telling people they shouldn’t say they wrote a new blog when they wrote a new post is the small stuff but sometimes a father focuses on do as I say and not as I do.

If it were possible I would take Teddy Roosevelt out to dinner or grab a beer and have a long conversation with him. I’d start by thanking him for saying “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” because of late it has been one of my mantras.

That is in large part because I am in between positions now and I am starting to feel a little pressure. Been interviewing like crazy but no one has pulled the trigger yet.

Several have thanked me for my time and sent me on  way. In some cases I have been grateful because after meeting with them it was clear they would have been a poor fit but not all.

Some of them have left me wondering if I did a poor job of telling my story. Wondering if perhaps I failed to make clear to them how well I met the requirements and needs of the position as listed or if alternatively they just didn’t read my resume.

Could be one or the other or could be something entirely different.

But it seems to me that Teddy would have understood my desire, my frustration and appreciated my willingness to take on new challenges.

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” Teddy Roosevelt

iTunes is playing and I am looking at the list of the last five songs I listened to and smiling.

  1. Domino- Genesis
  2. Highwayman- The Highwaymen
  3. Out Among the Stars- Johnny Cash
  4. All I Ask Of You- Phantom Of The Opera
  5. Someone Saved My Life Tonight- Elton John

It is not easy to relax now. Part of me wonders how I have managed not to lose my mind with the roller-coaster I have been riding on and then I remember that I smile because there is no reason to let the hard moments have their way.

Perspective is a wonderful thing and when I remember to take a deep breath I am reminded that I have multiple irons in the fire and that the list of major accomplishments I made for 2013 is filled with check marks.

That is a history of success. That is a history of accomplishment. Add to the list that I have survived every bad day I have ever had and you see a man you can rely upon, a winner and someone who knows how to dance in the rain and swim with the rip tides of life.

I wonder if Teddy Roosevelt would be a blogger if he were to be alive now. I tend to think he would or so it seems to me.

Would he appreciate my telling him that when I was little I wondered if the people in Black and White photos had black and white memories.

I would be happy to ride a horse through Yosemite with Teddy. I wonder how many similarities between the Yosemite of his day and ours exist. Certain things are obvious. Some of the biggest and most famous landmarks would undoubtedly make him feel at home but there are other things that have changed.

Change doesn’t mean bad nor should it have a negative connotation but my guess is some people like to look back at Teddy’s time and think of it as being a better and purer time for nature.

I suppose in some ways that might be true but some of the medical advances since then would blow his mind.

go speed racer go The Best Bloggers Are Storytellers  2014 Edition
Yeah, I put another shot of the Mach 5 in this post, it is the second time this week it has been featured. Want to bet that Teddy and the Rough Riders might have loved to have been riding in this instead of on horseback.

Man oh man if I had the Mach 5 my kids might have to ask why is daddy crying.

Tears of joy, kids, tears of joy.

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Surrounded By Spiritual Clutter

chagall love a hat and a song Surrounded By Spiritual Clutter
Yom Kippur is supposed to be about atonement. It is supposed to be about introspection, looking inside, asking for forgiveness and doing your best to try to become a better person than you were before but I didn’t do a very good job of it this year.

Some people enter the holiday as if they have taken a gentle stroll around a placid lake. That is usually how I try to start. I do my best to clear my head and begin from a place of calm but that didn’t happen this year.

It would be an exaggeration to say I flew into the day like a man running through hell while covered in gasoline but fair to say I was like guy who missed the drawbridge at the castle and instead of being able to march in I had to fight my way around the walls to find the secret entrance.

I’d like to say I was disappointed to enter covered in blood, adrenaline pumping and anxious to go back to battle but it would be a lie. The truth is I hit the day pissed off and frustrated about a variety of things that were outside of my control and when some of the fine folks online decided to take a poke at me I welcomed it because I had an excuse to just unload upon them.

After a time I grew tired of it and walked away to think about what had happened. I wanted to clear my head of the noise and the spiritual clutter but it didn’t work the way I wanted it to so here I am, writing so that I empty my mind.

“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

While sitting here thinking about what to write about I decide to check my stats and come across some posts others were reading tonight and find myself intrigued by what I read because the words seem appropriate for the evening.

“Old Jack is a sentimental fellow who roams where he will and walks where he might. Sometimes those forays into the darkness and the light lead me places that bring me joy and sometimes they bring me sadness. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder if I had any sense or if I was just an expert at ignoring it. I suppose that depends on which side of the fence you stand upon. Some will call me a prophet and others a fool. But the real question lies in what I call myself.

That is part of why I blog. I write these words here in an effort to gain a better understanding of who I am and what I want. I write these words so that I can leave a legacy for others. I write these words to remind my children that I don’t blog about the times we volunteer at soup kitchens or the moments we spend trying to help those who  are less fortunate because I want kudos or thanks.  I mention it so that in the years to come those who follow me remember that we have an obligation to help.”-  Are You Trying To Live Your Dreams?

It is hard not to look at those words and wonder why I stumbled across them this evening. Hard not to smile because they are a comfort. Part of me laughs because I see a consistent question and message in my words and I want to ask the guy who wrote them if he believed it would take as long as it had to get to this place.

Don’t really need to speculate on what he would have said because he never would have written these words. Things were just coincidence and nothing more for him.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~ William Wordsworth

I am doing that now, maybe not as well as I would like to but I am beating on the doors that stand in my way and pounding on the walls that prevent me from getting to where I wish to go.

“I keep finding remnants and relics of a past that no longer exists. There are pictures, videos and memories of people who are no longer part of my life. Some of them are gone because they or I chose to go a different direction and some are enjoying the aptly named dirt nap. “-Trust Me

Part of what frustrates me are the people who don’t recognize that some things are gone and will never come back. The people who let fear wash away the bridges to the future because they can’t see through the fog of the past.

I look up and around the room feeling a bit crazed because I have checked out of this place. It was home but it isn’t any longer. It is just some place that holds my stuff and many good memories but it is a place and that is how I choose to view it. Ok, that is not entirely true because it is more than just a place but it is not mine any longer.

Yeah, I checked out and part of the crazy feeling in my head comes from feeling like I am treading water and not moving into the future.

The funny thing about it all is the contradictions I hear and see.

“There are no coincidences because what you see, hear and do are part of something greater than us. It is tied into something larger that can be described as both mystical and magical.

Don’t ask me to explain this because I can’t tell you how or why. All I can say is that I know because I have experienced it. I have seen it. I have lived it. I have been there and that is all the proof that I can provide.

It won’t be enough for some of you. It won’t be the kind of thing that you can accept because you can’t buy, touch or taste it.

++++

There are no coincidences. You can live your dream. You can find a way back. All you need to do is let go, submit to the reality of the possibility and accept that there will be opportunity.”- There Are No Coincidences

As I said above, don’t ask me to explain because if you don’t get it I am not sure I can put it in terms that will make sense to you. Most of the time not being able to describe or explain something to others frustrates me.

I usually see it as an indication that I don’t understand the topic well enough.  I usually share this quote by Einstein and let it go, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

Except in this case I think a six year-old might understand better than an adult because six year-olds still believe in magic and things that aren’t based solely upon logic and science.

++++

Midnight approaches and I shouldn’t be on the computer.

Not because I fear a lightning bolt from the sky but because I don’t always do a good job of disconnecting and just being. The frustration and and anger are real and tied into things outside my control but the spiritual clutter is mostly me.

It is me not taking enough time to wander under a moonlit night or under a sunny blue sky. It is time to focus on just tuning out the noise and reconnecting with the inner peace.

My hand is reaching for it…

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The iOS 8 Teaching Moment

field of dreams The iOS 8 Teaching Moment
Field of Dreams

The iOS 8 Teaching Moment starts the moment your almost 14 year-old son hands you his iPhone 5c and tells you there is a problem.

“Dad, can you help me. My phone isn’t working?”

I nod my head, take the phone and silently call upon the ghost of Steve Jobs to visit me again. He doesn’t answer and I am not sure why the phone has chosen to imitate a brick.

“Did you try to download the iOS 8 update?”

He nods his head and when I ask him if he backed up his phone before he shakes his head at me and asks me not to restore it.

“I know you don’t want to lose your data but this thing is a great phone and a lousy brick. If you can’t access your data it won’t matter if it is on there or not because it is inaccessible anyway.”

I tell him it’s too late for him to stay up and watch me work and he makes one last plea to save his data. I nod my head but I don’t tell him I am unwilling to wait until I can take him to the Apple store to check it out.

 iOS 8 Internet News Gathering

As he walks out of the room I throw on my headset, turn on iTunes and run a quick search online to see if there is something I can do to fix it without wiping the data and starting over.

Blue Ocean is singing Into The Ocean and for a moment I stop what I am doing because the lyrics have caught my ear.

“Where is the coastguard
I keep looking each direction
For a spotlight, give me something
I need something for protection
Maybe flotsam junk will do just fine
the jetsam sunk, I’m left behind
I’m treading for my life believe me”

Something about this moment reminds me of the things I wrote about in Is Life A Series Of Coincidences Or Do Things Happen For A Reason and I feel irritated.

Irritated because my son should have backed the phone up. I have had this conversation with him before and yet here I am spending time trying to fix something that shouldn’t be broken.

Even though it is a good teaching moment and a worthwhile lesson part of me is irritated I can’t find a solution. I like helping the children and he comes to me for help with less frequency than before.

Some of that is good. He needs to focus on figuring out who he is. He needs to learn how to be his own man and how to look out for himself. He needs to learn to take care of these things in advance and to work on problem solving so that he can be self sufficient.

But he is barely into his teens so I have to give him a break.

I can’t say I would have been any different at his age.

For a moment I get lost in thought and something I hear makes me think about Field of Dreams.

moonlight quote The iOS 8 Teaching Moment

I have very few regrets in life but those I do are massive beasts that sometimes break free of their chains long enough to torment me. It is part of why the quote above has become so meaningful to me.

It is a mantra I sometimes repeat to myself, “this might be the only day so go after it hard.”

It motivates me to spend more time searching for a solution to transform the brick back into a phone but I can’t find anything that looks promising and so I decide to restore the phone.

That kid of mine will be frustrated but I’ll tell him I did the best I could and remind him about the importance of backing things up. It fits with what I have tried to teach him and personal philosophies about life and work.

I can’t publish posts like Do The Work- The Write Way To Write unless I am willing to live it.

Speaking of which the reason that post and this one have the same picture is the one that used to top the page of the other post was lost during the hosting move last January and I didn’t want to leave a big red x where it was supposed to be.

Something about that Field of Dreams cornfield seemed to ask me to put it in both places and so I did.

Maybe it is the sense that if you could wander into the corn you might find the answers to important questions. Can’t say if those are things youa are ready to see/learn about now or if the universe requires you to wait a bit longer before you can find out what and why.

That is not so very different from searching for a solution to transform the brick.

And now that midnight has come and gone I need to wrap this up and find my way to my bed. But when I do pull the covers across my body and shut my eyes I’ll slip in dreamland knowing I did my best and that will be enough to send me off with a smile.

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