Archives for September 2012

An Easy Fast Doesn’t Provide Atonement

This happens to me…Every Year. In the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I become more restless and unsettled.

Every year I write posts about this and share thoughts about religion, casting away sins and self love.

There are levels of intolerance discussed within these pages. As a father I think about what sort of obligation I have towards my children and I ask myself if I am hitting the mark.

The Truck Driver

My son walks into my office today and tells me about how this truck driver intentionally blocked an aisle in the parking lot today and forced cars to drive the wrong way.

“Dad, he told mom and I to use common sense and go the other way.”

I asked him if the man was rude or polite. He says the guy was obnoxious.

“Dad, because he wouldn’t move mom and all these other cars had to drive the wrong way, we almost had an accident.”

His story sets me off and I ask for a description of the man. My son wants to know if he can go along for the ride and I say no. “Dad, I want to see what happens.”

I tell him not to worry and that I am going to take care of this. He looks at me and asks why I look so angry and I tell him that it the driver’s behavior is unacceptable and I am going to fix things.

As I walk out the door I hear multiple voices asking me to remain calm.I turn, smile and say don’t worry.

Five minutes later I reach the shopping center and the truck is still parked there. It is blocking an entire aisle so I am confident all I need to do is find the driver.

The Truck Driver

I see a man pushing a hand truck towards the juice store and I am certain he is the driver. I park my car, take pictures of the truck and head over to the store.

There is a juice store employee standing outside. I ask him if they normally receive deliveries at 4:15 and he says no. This one was supposed to be there at 7 Am.

“Why didn’t you tell him to move his truck to the far side of the lot so that he wouldn’t cause a traffic jam in the lot?” There is silence and then the employee shrugs his shoulders at me.

I explain why I am angry and mention that this store put my family at risk. It doesn’t matter who was driving. He is part of the problem. He says he is sorry and offers me a smoothie. I say no and then the driver reappears in front.”

“Did you tell a woman and a boy to use common sense?”

There is a hard edge in my voice and I feel my hands flexing. He tells me that he said use common sense but claims he was talking to himself.

“So you ignored your own advice, chose to block traffic and then almost created a six or seven car pile up.”

He takes a step backwards and apologizes, but I am not pacified.

“I am not a woman. I am not a 12 year-old boy. Tell me to use common sense. Ignore me. It is what you did before. Pretend your work is more important than the safety of others. Pretend that I am not the very angry father of the family you put at risk!”

I know I am on the verge of shouting. If he doesn’t apologize I am going to make the kind of scene he doesn’t want. But he does apologize again. He tells me the other driver was sick and that he is sorry.

“You should be thankful I wasn’t hear to see you put lives at risk. You should be thankful I am not any more upset than I am, but we aren’t through. I will submit a complaint. That is not me wagging my tongue. That is a promise.  Next time show some consideration for others.

Atonement

Night falls and I think about what happened. I don’t feel badly about what I said or that I filed a complaint. Safety comes first and there is no excuse for his parking his truck that way. I am certain he tried to take advantage of being a man who was faced with some children and angry moms.

Yet I can’t help but think of my own mistakes. I am not perfect. There are lots of things you can rap my knuckles for.

It won’t be long before Yom Kippur officially starts and my fast begins. It won’t be long before I have ample time to focus my attention again inwards and ask all the hard questions.

I read Torah every Yom Kippur for a little more than 25 years, but I haven’t read the last two and I miss it. Can’t decide why I miss it, but I know that I do. Not sure that it is important.

My gut tells me that the past several years have lead to this point and that we are on the verge of something really big. Good things are coming, or so I think. And so I take a moment to listen to the words of the songs below and to think.

Some words continue to remain unread.

You Are The Biggest Liar In Social Media

Did I ever tell you about the time I got arrested at a blogging convention for punching twenty seven different people?

Blame it on my bad temper. I saw a group of people wearing shirts that said “I am A Really Big Deal on The Internet” and went mad with jealousy. Yep, I was struck blind by both their wit and biting sarcasm.

But what really set me off was the person who referred themselves as being the most humble blogger they knew and the smartest. They climbed on top of a trashcan and lectured the rest of us on how to become aterrificblogger like themselves and I just lost it.

It is embarrassing, but I couldn’t take it. They were standing on  trash inside this trashcan and the smell didn’t even make them blink. It was amazing and I just knew that someone that could stand in trash could cover themselves in shit and never be bothered by the stench that came with it.

This is a skill that I longed to master for years. Really, can you imagine how much value there is in mastering the secret message behind the story of the emperor who wore no clothes.

Jack Is Old And Cranky

Jack is old and cranky and tired of the bullshit that some people peddle, but not so tired that I need to speak in the third person about myself. I am tired of continuing to stumble onto posts where some know-it-all tries to convince everyone else they know more about blogging and social media than anyone else.

It is not because those people don’t exist it is because those that do don’t spend their time fertilizing the blogosphere with self righteous garbage about how the blogosphere would be better and people would be more successful if they would only blog like the self proclaimed master does.

This kind of crap irks me because it is not true. There is no single, uniform path to internet success and unless I see your books I am unlike to believe all that you say.

It is not because I am smarter than anyone else but because I have been around long enough to have seen a few things and learn a few tricks. Anyone can say anything online and some of the people that hang out here with us are bald faced liars who claim success they haven’t seen.

I could pepper this blog with ads from companies you have all heard of and many of you would assume that means I am generating quite a bit of income from those ads. But their appearance here doesn’t mean that is true.

What You See and What You Know

You don’t know what arrangements we have or don’t have. You don’t know if our financial arrangements are based upon CPMs, Cost-Per-Lead, Cost-Per-Acquisition, Flat rate sponsorship or some other hybrid model.

Hell, you don’t know if I have arranged to run these ads for free in the hopes that others will be impressed by what they see.

If you don’t check references you don’t know if the testimonials you see on sites are real and even then you probably won’t know many of the details. You can’t accept everything at face value nor should you always assume that people are lying. Not everyone does.

But that doesn’t negate our responsibility to question what we read. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask ourselves if what we are reading makes sense or if something feels hinky.

When you get that funny feeling that something isn’t right you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. You don’t have to phrase it in a way that sounds like you are accusing the writer of stretching the truth. It is almost always better not to start conversations by making people defensive and or by insulting them.

Related Commentary/Links

Yeah, I know, I seem to have a bunch of posts that relate to this, but I have 9,500 others you can choose from if you don’t like these. I even threw in a few others just because…

  1. Bloggers Are Narcissists
  2. Jesus Hates Tim Tebow & 17 Other Reasons Why Your Blog is a Failure
  3. How 3,000 Sycophants Made One Man A Better Blogger
  4. How 3,000 Sycophants Made One Man A Better Blogger Part 2
  5. The Best Way To Blog Is…Your Way
  6. The Biggest Challenge Most Bloggers Face

Or maybe I should just ask Can You Write a Funny Post? I wonder how many people will comment. This could be interesting.

And with that Jack is ready to leave the building. Just remember blogging is about having fun and I am having a ball. How about you?

Words That Are Never Read

Sometimes people write me to ask if I wonder or worry about posts that don’t receive any comments. I usually tell them no and most of the time I mean it.

Post without comments are orphans, but they are still well loved and they serve a purpose. Comments are not my form of currency and I don’t measure my success or lack thereof by them.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t want comments or that sometimes I am disappointed when my work isn’t “appreciated” because it is not true. Humans want to feel valued and I am no different than most.

But I write because I love to do this. I write because I get paid to write and this is my cyber sandbox and it is where I work to keep my skills sharp.

I just stumbled onto this particular version of Eli, Eli and I really enjoy it. It reminds me of a million different times and places, but now I am thinking of Jerusalem.

The memories of people who I once knew and in some cases still know wash over me and I am lost in time. There were days where I was a different man than I am now. Can’t say I was better or worse, but definitely different.

That guy had plans to live 10,000 miles from home and would have had a very different life. I wonder what he would have been like and who he would have become. It is part of why I wish I could live to be 1,000 years old because I could have figured that out. I could have continued to take the road less traveled and explored some other places and times.

Instead I am here and most of the time content, but I would not be true to who I am if I didn’t say I have bouts of wanderlust and a desire to hit the open road and just explore the land that lies over there, wherever that may be.

So I suppose that the words I worry most about reading or being read are those written upon my heart.

What Is The Best Way To Get Attention

Where dad sometimes hides out.

Something I ate hates me and I have spent the morning battling this bug. It has been a bare knuckles brawl in which I have emerged battered, bloodied and bruised, but I am still standing and the bug is becoming a memory.

This bug has bad timing. I had planned on accomplishing far more than I have and now it is clear that I am going to have to adjust my schedule. But if you believe that life is filled with signs and messages that don’t necessarily originate from people or electronic devices you might say someone or something has been trying to get my attention.

So, consider it gotten, my attention that is and now that you have it what are you going to do with it.

“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all”
In My Life- The Beatles

It is around noon on Friday afternoon now and I am listening to Johnny Cash perform a cover of In My Life and gathering my thoughts. I feel torn up right now and the last thing I want to do is work but there are moments in time where we suck it up and do what we have to do.

This post is my warm up for the writing that I have to do. This is where I stretch and loosen up so that I can put together the words that pay the bills because these aren’t them. Someone has been reading a post called The Most Valuable Possession and it makes me smile.

It has been a little more than a year since my last living grandparent died. He was my maternal grandfather and I miss him as I miss all of my grandparents.

Silence Isn’t Always Awkward

I was lucky to be very close with both of my grandfathers. They were very different men and yet quite similar in many ways.

Twenty years ago the three of us might have sat outside together and enjoyed the 100 degree weather. They would have told me about how Chicago was never like this in September and debated where the best place to get a hot dog was in the Chicago of their youth.

In between the commentary we would have shared a comfortable silence and one of them would have asked me to tell them about my life and what I wanted to do with it. They would have listened and asked more questions and peppered the conversation with stories and advice.

They may not be here but I feel their presence and I would like nothing more to update them on my life and to tell them about their great grandchildren. I wonder what they would think about these signs but I think I know.

Sometimes what I miss most is watching their faces while they watched my children. There must be something amazing to see your grandchildren grow up to become parents. But I am also sorry they aren’t here to see what is happening in my life because we are standing on the precipice of something big.

Risk Versus Reward

It would be cool to talk to them about how I figured a few things out and how some of the risks I have taken have slapped me silly but that some have paid off. It has been hard to do some of these things and I have paid for it.

I took the beating because I thought it was the right thing to do. I took the beating and kept standing because I had them in my corner and I knew it even when they weren’t around.

So I am sorry they aren’t around to see some of this. They would have taken such pleasure and it would have been so good to not just share these things but to thank them.

I kid around about being crazy and I have my moments, but my head is screwed on tight in large part because of them. My parents deserve much credit too.

The Wrong Question

When I ask what is the best way to get attention it is not really the right question to ask. The right question is once I have gotten it what should I do with it.  That is something I think about frequently but I am not sure how well it translates in these blog posts some of you read.

And now friends, the floor is open. What will you share in the comments?

Rhythm and Flow

President of the United States Theodore Roosev...

Tonight I am writing with my usual musical accompaniment and the words of Theodore Roosevelt. I could write an entire post around any one of the three quotes below but tonight I am using all of them.

That’s because they tie into my day and into my life. These are words I carry in my heart as a father, friend, man and son.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

Sixth grade is a hard year for many students. There is a big transition with the amount of work and the expectations that come with it and my son is carrying the load.

He amazes me with his composure and his work ethic. He is maturing right in front of us and I am seeing glimpses of the man he will one day become. We have a long road before that day, but I couldn’t be prouder.

The big guy isn’t perfect. He has his flaws and I am sorry to say that some of them come from me. I want nothing more than for him to only take on my good traits and none of my bad, but sometimes the sins of the father are visited upon the son.

Tonight I sent him to bed at 10 which is a solid hour beyond when I want him going to bed. He was up later because he missed school for the Jewish New Year and had work to make up.

Values, Hard Work and Dedication

He wanted to stay up to finish but I told him sleep was more important. He agreed and tomorrow he’ll do a little bit before school and finish the last couple of items during recess.

I want him to be a kid. I want him to enjoy school and am anxious to help him love learning. But there is a balance I am trying to strike of instilling values, hard work and dedication.

We talked about Teddy Roosevelt and how those 100 year old quotes are still relevant today.

I told him why they are important to me and how I thought they could help him. We talked about many other things including how there is a rhythm and flow to life.

Rhythm and Flow In Writing

There is a rhythm and flow to my writing that I rely upon. Rhythm and flow are what I hold onto because they are my support and my guide.

Rhythm and flow are where I find balance and meaning. I don’t know exactly how to describe it other than to say it reminds me of the high I get from exercise. It is the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the clinkety clank of the weights or the swish of a basket.

Sometimes I find my rhythm within the first key stroke and other moments it is harder to come by. But practice and effort bring it out more easily and it makes me smile because it is the writer’s high I feel.

I shared Georgie with you because that bastard is making things happen for me. I have written about him here before but during the past two weeks he has been garnering an awful lot of attention.

It is an odd place to be in to know that guy who tried to microwave his mother’s cat would be the source of that attention. Some people described him as being evil but that is too easy.

Georgie wasn’t bad because he didn’t know better, he was bad because he did and he didn’t care.

People always say that there is someone bigger and stronger and that was true of Georgie, but there wasn’t anyone meaner.

Music and Writing

I mentioned earlier that these words you are reading are being written while I listen to music but I didn’t tell you what has been playing. I figure I ought to share soe of what has my toes tapping so here you go:
  1. The Devil Went Down To Georgia– Charlie Daniel’s Band
  2. A Little Less Conversation– Elvis Presley
  3. Adagio for Strings
  4. Devil Inside-Inxs
  5. I Drove All Night– Roy Orbison
  6. Where the Streets Have No Name– U2
  7. The Fire Rises– The Dark Knight Rises
  8. Hate Me– Blue October
  9. Tin Pan Alley– Stevie Ray Vaughan
  10. No More Tears– Ozzie Osborne

The Best Is Yet To Come

Just before he fell asleep he asked me if high school was the best part of my life and I shook my head no. I had a great time in school, more fun in college and still more after.

I didn’t tell him that the years since have also included some of the hardest moments because that is a conversation for a different time. But I did tell him the best is yet to come because I believe that and that I want that for him too.

Aim higher. That is the goal, a little bit higher and a little bit farther.