Archives for March 2012

Dad’s Field of Dreams Doesn’t Recognize Failure

There were different words here. Just a few moments prior to the entrance of those that you read these spaces were occupied by others and then they weren’t.

That is because the cyber field of dreams they wandered among was not populated by great big splashes of yellow sun flowers set against a bright blue sky.

Nope, they were black and white dips and dots that were swallowed by the technical failure that took place. One moment they were here and the next they were gone.

Sometimes words are like people- expendable, replaceable and temporary and sometimes they aren’t.

Dad, I Can’t Sleep

These children of mine sometimes ask me if I ever have trouble sleeping and I say no. They burst out into gales of laughter and say that no one can sleep around me because I snore.

I assure them they are mistaken and laugh. I laugh because their laughter spreads joy and is infectious.

But my claim to sleep is not false nor exaggeration. It is rare that I find myself challenged by the trip into the land of nod. I can sleep anywhere and at any time.

Some have said that this must because of time in the service but that would be false. I hold no rank or MOS other than “civilian.

These restless moments that the children refer to are predicated upon fear and insecurity. It is a fear of the unknown and or a fear of failure.

I understand it because I have my own share of fears and concerns. I believe myself to be my own biggest critic and my greatest adversary. Some of the most challenging situations I encounter are created because of the mental boundaries and blocks that I erect.

Not because I am not capable because the reality is that I have proven that there are relatively few things that I can’t do. It is as I have shared elsewhere in the blog, I stand in my own sunshine.

Ok, I borrowed that quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson but it is still true.

Small Victories

I often remind my children that the name we call ourselves is the one that is most important. It doesn’t matter if someone calls you fat, dumb or stupid unless you believe it to be true.

What you believe about yourself comes out in your interactions with others. That doesn’t mean that I advocate teaching our children to be arrogant, pompous asses who move about based upon illusions of grandeur.

Balance.

Balance is what I work towards with them and myself. That balance is based upon small victories. It is based upon being able to look at what we have done and know that we always pass our math tests and that social studies has never been a problem.

It is based upon knowing that a good work ethic and our ability to get up when we get knocked down are critical.

Failure is not to be feared.

Failure Sucks

Let’s not play games, failure sucks. I hate it. I don’t like losing. I don’t like falling short of the mark and I don’t ever want to grow accustomed to failing.

But there is a difference between not fearing to fail and accepting it as your reality.

Some of my former employers are categorized as former because they fired me. That was their mistake and I will argue from now until the dawn of time that it wasn’t always based upon logic and or performance.

The world isn’t fair and it doesn’t operate based upon a system that resembles that. We have tried to change that and in some areas we have done a good job, but it doesn’t change the underlying reality that the world isn’t fair.

My children and I have talked about this. I shared these experiences because I wanted them to see that these experiences don’t define me. I didn’t like them and won’t say that I am proud that they happened but I am not ashamed either.

That is because I can point to a record of small victories. That is because dear old dad knows that his life story involves far more tales of success than failure.

Dad’s Field of Dreams

Some of the seeds are still being planted in my field of dreams. I am still out working on the back forty trying to produce that bumper crop that pushes me over the top. I see progress, not as much as I would like but it is coming along.

Forward motion is forward motion. The new design of the blog is solid and I am very pleased with it.  My community continues to grow and my book continues to develop. These are all small victories that will lead to bigger ones. They make me happy because they tickle the personal side in a good way and dear old dad looks like a good role model.

What do you think? Are you willing to take a risk or does the fear of failure prevent you from taking a chance?

Tear Down The Blog

Dad is in the middle of the storm

Photo by Sebastian Danon

You can’t see me in this photo but I am lying flat on my back, the victim of a stray coconut. Can’t say who threw it at me, just that it happened.

Out of respect to new readers I need to let you know that you won’t find me in that photo. Hell you’d be hard pressed to find a shot of me anywhere in this joint. I tend to be the shy and retiring sort of fellow who prefers to operate from behind a mask. That is because I have secret fantasies of becoming a really cool superhero.

However before I do that I need to get my butt into better shape because that superhero spandex is pretty damn unforgiving. There is nothing more embarrassing than being the chunky guy in the spandex and though I can combat that by stuffing a salami into my pants I prefer not to.

And that my friends is why in just a few moments I am going to hit the treadmill. Not to mention that I am exhausted from lack of sleep and wrestling with the renovations that are going on around here. I am a writer, not a designer. I can see what I want to do. I can write about it and describe it but I can’t translate that vision into action with the same precision.

If I didn’t have my own set of rug rats enrolled in private school I would gladly pay someone to do this for me, but I can’t swing it now. And since I can’t swing it you get to enjoy watching me swing the sledge hammer. Funny thing is that in person I am relatively handy so it is not like I can’t do anything with my hands.

Yep, that is my leg and arm in the photo. Really, it is me.

Next time someone takes a picture of me from behind I’ll flex and show you the mighty muscles I have developed over years of massive amounts of exercise. Woohoo. Can’t you feel the burn. Aren’t you jealous.

Don’t be because you are a better you than you are me. Really, you couldn’t be me if you tried and you wouldn’t want to be. I am a storm walker and you really don’t want to be.

I am also feeling a bit crazed, confused and frustrated. Blame that on a million different things, but not fifth grade math because last night I made it my bitch. Really, those fractions cried and begged for mercy.

Anyhoo, I am clearly a bit slappy but I like to think that makes me a better father and certainly a better dad blogger. Part of the way that we learn how to do things is by doing. Let me repeat, learn by doing and not by watching.

OTOH, (which stands for on the other hand) there is something to be said for reading the manual before you jump in. Unless you are like me and confident in your ability to learn how to fly, build a parachute or develop the ability to levitate before hitting the ground.

Actually if you are me you are built out of concrete so when you hit the ground both of you crack. Just remember that when you get to be my age you start to notice that the nick, scrape and bruises don’t disappear as quickly as they used to. It is kind of frustrating because I don’t feel like I am forty something. Ask my kids how old I am and they’ll tell you that dad still runs with the children.

It is true. Some people run the bulls but I scoff at them. Damn bulls aren’t nearly as crazy or as nasty as an overtired child. I should know, I am a Taurus and we know all about being a bull.

More Changes

Brothers and sisters, social media is about people. It is about developing relationships with people. It is about walking out among the people because you are one of them, no better and no worse. Ok, I am lying, I am better than some of you. Certainly more obnoxious, but that is me.

Really, this blog is a decent representation of me. If you read it cover to cover you will learn things that some of the people in my life don’t know and might not ever. Some of that is because they don’t ask and they don’t listen. And some of it is because I don’t volunteer.

This blog is like me and you- a work in progress. It is filled with changes and is constantly evolving. If it works the way I want we’ll see growth here and within or so I hope.

If you are reading this and not part of the community here I want to stick out my hand and invite you to join. In the near future we are going to revisit the About Me page and I’ll share again with you what I am trying to do and what I am about.

But for now let’s do this. I am Jack. I am a writer and a father. I am a dad blogger, but I write about more than just blogging. My goal is to become a published author and to play center field for the Dodgers. Somewhere in between I expect to be the shortest power forward to ever play for the Lakers.

Welcome to the blog. Hope you decide to subscribe, fan my page and hang out with us. Say hi in the comments. Got to run for now as work beckons.

P.S. Here are the last five songs to shuffle through my iPod.

  1. I Was Wrong– Social Distortion
  2. I am on Fire– Bruce Springsteen
  3. Sympathy For the Devil– The Rolling Stones (still one of my favorite versions)
  4. The Prisoner– Iron Maiden
  5. Sunday Morning Coming Down- Kris Kristofferson

 

How To Use Video Games To Build Quality Time With The Kids

The best thing about a home office is the worst thing- you work from home. You might not have a long commute or wear a suit a tie but you also find yourself working around the clock.

It is not always because you have to, but because there is always one more thing to do. Even when you take advantage of the flexibility to go to an early morning activity at the kids’ school you find that you are checking your email. You can’t hide it because the children know that when your eyes float downwards you aren’t checking out your shoes.

I try hard to make a point to disconnect from my electronic devices so that I can give my full attention to the kids. It would be false to say that I turn everything off or that I never find this to be challenging, but I have come up with a few tricks that help.

Video Games & The Silent Phone

One of the smartest things I ever did was turn off the sound on my telephone. When it is on I have this crazy Pavlovian response to the beeps, bells and whistles. If I hear it I find myself compelled to look and see who it is, or that is how it used to be.

After many months of using it the majority of the time without the sound turned on I have found that the compulsion to always check it just isn’t there anymore. During business hours I still check it frequently but now I rely upon the flashing green light.

I don’t know if the children have noticed the difference but I feel like it has made a positive change.

So what do video games have to do with quality time? Well the answer is that I play them with my children. It is not the only thing we do by a long shot.  One of the reasons I like coaching soccer and basketball is because it provides a built in excuse to stop working and go play with them.

But video games are also part of the mix. The children and I have had a lot of fun playing on our 3DS and the Wii.

#MarioParty9

This week we were among a group of Nintendo Brand Ambassadors who were greeted with some cool Nintendo blankets and Mario Party 9.  Look, I am not going to give you a long review of why I like the game because that isn’t what this post is about.

Per FTC requirements I will disclose that I received it as compensation but like I said I am not really writing this solely to promote Nintendo either. I am of an age where I grew up playing Pong, Space Invader, Asteroids and Atari.

I begged my parents to get one of those cool Intellivision units so we could have the baseball game that talked, but we never did get it.

The point of all that is that I still enjoy playing video games but without the kids I probably wouldn’t spend a ton of time playing them. But it would be false to say that I don’t enjoy it because it is fun and it is pretty damn cool to listen to my son talk about my Nintendo connection. Kid makes me sound like a video game dealer.

Anyhoo, this week we have spent a chunk of time checking out Mario Party 9 and had a lot of fun doing it. One of the related benefits is that my son tends to be more willing to provide more specific details about what he is doing in school while he is playing then when he isn’t.

I don’t know if it is because he is distracted but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I appreciate him giving me the skinny.

Reggie, Help a Brother Out

English: Reggie Fils-Aime at the Game Develope...

English: Reggie Fils-Aime at the Game Developers Conference in 2011 (third day), during the session “Video Games Turn 25: A Historical Perspective and Vision for the Future”. Français : Reggie Fils-Aime à la Game Developers Conference en 2011 (troisième jour). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you not wearing your reading glasses, that caption says Reggie Fils-Aime. Reggie is the big dog at Nintendo America. I have met him twice now, once at the Brand Ambassador trip to Nintendo Corporate in 2011 and once at the LA Auto Show.

That is where that picture was taken. He is sitting in one of the real life models of the cars used in Mario Kart 7. I was there and I can tell you that those cars are pretty damn cool. I can also tell you that my son is dying for me to get one of those cars.

So on the off chance that Reggie reads this I’ll say that if you could hook me up with one of those I would be the coolest dad at the school. I like to think that I am cool without it, but hell that would definitely raise my coolness factor a notch wouldn’t it.

What do you think?

What Happens When Your Blog Blows Up

The Challenge That Every Blogger Faces

Dad says the sun never stops shining.

Picture by Matthew Bowden

You are reading these words for one of three reasons:

  1. You are a blogger and you can’t help but click on a post about the challenge that every blogger faces.
  2. You are a blogger and you hope that I am going to provide you with the solution to that aforementioned challenge.
  3. You are originally from cleveland and can’t help but come listen to me bash your hometown.

Or alternatively you love my writing and can’t wait to tell me that you are going to do everything in your power to see that I am given the notoriety you know that I am due. In any case it doesn’t matter to me because I am grateful that you are here and am going to ask you to stick around because things are about to get even more interesting.

There is a writer named Chuck who should be a friend of mine, but isn’t. Not because he doesn’t like me but because he doesn’t know me. Ah hell, if he knew me he still might not be my friend in which case I’d have to accuse him of having no taste. Or is that because he has taste. Hell if I know.

So Chuck wrote a great post called Twenty five Lies Writers Tell (And Start To Believe) that is worth reading more than once. But for the purposes of this post we are going to focus in line item number 9 in which he says that we don’t write for ourselves, we write for others.

He is write, I mean right.  Many if not most of us hope to grow our blogs and turn them into something more than they are. Quite a few of us hope to use them to become published authors of books, public speakers and or find other ways to monetize them.

When Opportunity knocks I'll see it.

Self Promotion- The Challenge That Every Blogger Faces

That means that Self Promotion is The Challenge That Every Blogger Faces. Yep, we all have to figure out how to let the people know that we are out here because if they only knew that our blog would be the solution to their problem they would pay real money to read it. If only three million people were willing to pay a dollar a month for this material I’d be a very happy man.

But they don’t know I am here. Oh sure, the 17 long time readers do. They have been hanging with me for 8 years and I have been damn lucky to meet/pickup a bunch of others along the way-but you are not enough.

Or are you.

Hell, I want you to feel valued and appreciated. You could be enough. One of you lurkers could be the person who has the ability and or connection to make my blogging dreams come true, or maybe not.

Since we haven’t connected I have to believe that I need to continue to work on growing my blog. There are lots of ways of doing that, some of which I hate. In theory I could  write, beg, plead and or command you to do what you can to make Babble crown me one of the world’s best Dad bloggers.

In conjunction with that I could try to become a speaker at one or more of the blogging conferences. Dad 2.0, Mom 2.0, BlogHer, BlogWorld, Jack’s World- damn I could be the keynote at any or all of them. Damn, I hope that I would be a part of the problem with blogging conference speakers.

Enough About Me What About You

Someone tell the guy in the back row to stop heckling me or I am going to defenestrate him myself. The reason I can write about me is that these words also apply to you. When I look at my efforts to promote my blog I see myself walking a fine line between being cool and a douchebag. I try not to make every comment about me or to always include a link to my blog.

I try to balance the output of links and broadcast messages on Twitter, G+ and Facebook. Ideally everyone should feel like there is a two way conversation going on and not just some father screaming “LOOK AT ME.”

But it is not easy.

Sometimes I think that I have made a mistake by not building a newsletter list or doing more to get people to subscribe to the blog.  Instead I have tried to rely upon a more organic process of building this joint. It is not an exaggeration to say that I am building a more dedicated and devoted readership this way, but I would be lying if I said that I haven’t wanted to make it go faster.

So let’s turn the floor over to you. What do you have to say about all this? Would you like to see things change here?  If you are a blogger what do you do to promote your blog? What do you think about all this?