Archives for October 2012

The Halloween Tax & Posting Frequency

August Memories

Field of Dreams

Photo by Lynn Cummings

The worst part about D’s funeral wasn’t being asked to be a pallbearer or shoveling dirt onto his casket.

Those weren’t great but they pale in comparison to the moment I looked up from the grave and made eye contact with his mother. I can’t describe the look of horror upon her face or tell you what it felt like to be holding the shovel in my hand when our eyes met.

Some people go out for a Sunday drive but we weren’t some people. We were 29 back then, kings of the world and all that we surveyed was part of our realm.

‘D’ was a scientist and a pilot. Some days we would head out to Santa Monica Airport and take his father’s plane out for a spin.

Thousands of miles above the ground we would talk about life and our dreams or just sit quietly and look out at the wild blue yonder the poets speak about.

Fourteen years later the memories are still vivid and it doesn’t take much to bring back some of those moments. Maybe it is because I am a father now and I understand things differently than I once did.

Once I didn’t believe things like this could happen to me or those I cared most about. I didn’t see it as being naïve or arrogant. Terminal illness wasn’t on my radar. I knew people who had died, young people, but they all died from accidents.

Drunk driving, wet weather and dumb luck took them. It hurt but it was different because I knew if they hadn’t been driving or riding they would still be here.

Thomas The Tank Engine Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

The first time my son asked me who ‘D’ was caught me off guard. He was looking at wedding pictures, naming the people in the photo one by one and then he found someone he didn’t recognize.

I looked at the photo and saw ‘D’ smiling back at me. There he was garbed in the traditional monkey suit, two years removed from his first fight with tumor number one and two years removed from the battle with tumor number three.

It was hard to reconcile the two moments. If you would have seen him back then you wouldn’t have had a clue he had ever been sick. He was making plans for the future and petitioning for the return of his license.

We talked about going flying again. He teased me gently about telling my wife about the past, double dates and plane rides.

“His name was ‘D’ and he was a very good friend.

My son smiled and went back to playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains.

‘D’ is gone now and my son doesn’t play with Thomas anymore. Time keeps moving.

August Memories

Three of us are asked to speak about ‘D.’ Technically they call it a eulogy but I hate the term so I think it as a moment to try and share stories that show who he was.

It feels surreal. ‘D’ is lying in a box somewhere behind us. We half expect him to interrupt our talk with one of the practical jokes he was famous for.

Any moment now there will be a loud explosion and when the smoke clears the old man will be standing there laughing and we’ll laugh with him. Story time ends and there is no explosion, no smoke and no ‘D’.

Instead there are tears and grown men are crying on the shoulders of their mothers and wives.

Make Like John Henry

My mother and wife encourage me to let it out and to let go, but that is not how it will go. There is only one thing left to do, one last way to say goodbye and show our love.

Jackets come off, skirts and dresses are adjusted and the shovels are passed between us. This task won’t be left to those who didn’t know or care for him. This is for us.

We got this. The once proud kings of the world have lost this round.

The August heat shows no mercy and sweat pours off of our brows. We don’t care and we keep working. I refuse to stop and won’t let go of the shovel. The work is what is keeping me together, the time to really let go will come later.

Later on I’ll hear that ‘D’s little brother told their mother it was time to go and that we would make sure things were taken care of. When I think about her eyes I remind myself of that and hope in some small way it helped.

Do You Miss Your Friend

Sometimes we forget how observant children can be. A chunk of moments have passed since my son asked about ‘D’ and we have taken Thomas on more than a few adventures.

“Daddy, do you miss your friend?”

I nod my head and say “One day I hope you have a friend as good as ‘D.”

And then I add a silent prayer that he never has to experience his own August day.

Walking Where Men Fear To Tread

Contradictions- The ocean is both beauty and beast.

Contradictions- The ocean is both beauty and beast.

Midnight approaches and I am accompanied by the dog and Ray Charles singing “Come Back Baby.”

Tomorrow morning I will check back in with family and friends who are being pounded by Sandy and hope they remain safe and dry.

It is surreal to be here in LA where the temperatures are in pushing towards ranges most often associated with Summer while elsewhere people are bundled up in winter clothing.

Women Rule Social Media

One of the guys I play ball with just found out I am a blogger. He thinks it is funny to ask if I am a mommy blogger and wonders if I know that women rule social media.

I smile and tell him that I am not the guy who got a vasectomy. His grin disappears and he walks away.

It is common knowledge that his wife forced him to get clipped and I am tired of his antics. I don’t need to engage in pissing contests and have little to no interest in the silly verbal sparring he wants to engage in.

Not to mention I am well aware of my cranky state and know trouble is coming. Most of the time I am a happy curmudgeon, but not tonight.

My knees and back hurt and I am concerned that the miles of wear and tear are catching up with me.

I Am Not Old

The comment about mileage isn’t a euphemism for a hard life of drugs and drinking. It is an acknowledgement of how I played sports.

I have spent decades playing hard. Haven’t had the talent to keep up with some of the guys but I made up for it in will and desire. I did the dirty work and spent time doing stuff that many didn’t want to do.

That is why some of the guys let me play with them. They were far more talented and normally wouldn’t pick me, but I made them want to because I played hard.

I keep repeating that because it is how I cope with not being able to play as I once did. It is not easy to accept and that is why I bring it up often, but sooner or later I’ll let go of the part that fights and adjust.

Rolling With The Changes

I am still rolling with the changes because it is how things go and there are no other options.

The blog is having issues. I noticed last night that when I tried to create a new post I couldn’t add pictures and the HTML editor was gone. It appears Jetpack is having issues. When I deactivate it the problems seem to disappear.

That irks me. It is one of my favorite plugins. Have to do more checking.

Ray Charles and Dad Bloggers

Ray has moved on to “You Don’t Know Me”, “It Should Have Been Me” and a dozen other songs I never tire of listening to.

Been a fan of Ray’s for more than 25 years but some of my most prominent memories come from my first apartment, a turntable and a bottle of Scotch.

I’d come home from work, turn on Ray and grab a drink. It was me, Ray and Johnny Walker standing on the balcony watching the sunset. Most nights I wouldn’t have more than that one drink, but every now and then there were…more.

Occasionally I’d wake up in the big stuffed chair I inherited from my grandparents and wonder why hangovers hurt so damn much.

Somewhere in the midst of all this came a girl who listened to Ray with me and would lie in bed listening to me talk about dreams for the future.

I remember listening to her talk about the future she wanted felt like this very wise, very old man.

Now I look back and laugh at the very young, very naive man I was.

Who I Was, Who I Am, Who I Will Become

Ray was there back in the days I refer to as who I was and he is here now in the time I call who I am. It is safe to say he’ll still be hanging out with me when I who I will become show up.

I feel like I have lived a thousand lives. Don’t know if everyone feels this way or if it is the province of writers, just that I feel this way.

Maybe it is because people have told me that if we had met at a different time or different place we might have done things together. Maybe it is because I see stories in my head and hear their whispers in my mind.

There is much joy in this journey and confidence that I am on my way to where I am going. Can’t ask for more than that and a request for health and wealth for my family and friends.

And that my friends is Just Write.

How Some People Are Using Triberr To Kill Blogging

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Don’t make the monkey mad.

 

Some my fellow tribesmen are using Triberr to kill blogging and it is not because your content is horrible, even though some of it truly is.

Stop using hashtags in your headlines.

What makes you think that sending out headlines populated by hashtags is a good idea, because it is not.

This is me shouting INCONCEIVABLE!

Those headlines look like hell and read worse.. It is alphabet soup and simply horrid. If you are going to pump out gibberish you might as well have fun.

Why not try one of these:

  • Flying Butt Monkeys Attack Squirrels
  • Spicy Food Hairy Nuts
  • #^$@^$^Y#%%^^
  • 123 Uses for Viagra and Female Alligators
  • Your Words Make Flames Shoot Out of My Derrierre

I’ll lay odds that one of those five will be as effective as sending out “Toms, Drums and Mud #music, #drums.”

It is time to return to regular headlines and to stop the madness. Don’t make the monkey mad because believe me you wouldn’t like to fight with the mad monkey. You’ll lose.

And if by some chance you defeat the monkey in single combat you’ll feel badly that you beat up a monkey and even worse because the crazy people in PETA will sue you on behalf of the monkey.

What will your children say about this. How will you explain that you lost your house because you went bankrupt trying to prove you had the legal right to defend yourself against the mad monkey.

Besides the monkey has friends. You don’t want to face the monkey’s friends.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Change your ways or risk the wrath of the mean monkey and the scary clown.

P.S. If I share your post I am probably going to strip the hashtags out anyway because they really do look like hell.

How I Used Bad Headlines and Jedi Mind Tricks To Make A Billion From Blogging

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Every now and then I like to write posts that poke fun at other bloggers who try to fill our heads full of rules and regulations about how we should blog and what doesn’t work.

Rules and I don’t always get along very well and not just because I am insouciant and given to whims of fancy where I dream about defenenstrating those who irritate me.

It is because here in the magical world of social media there aren’t many rules at all other than “be nice to others” and “sustain your effort.” Ok, that is not entirely true nor does that provide a good explanation for how to make a buck while blogging.

But unlike other bloggers I don’t lie to you and claim to be making tons of cash doing this. Yeah, I am calling out all sorts of people with this post and suggesting they put their money where their mouths arr- open the books and prove you are making real money because I don’t believe it.

My Old Kitchen

The picture up above is of the new kitchen we put in my old house. I loved that kitchen and when we moved I was disappointed to say goodbye.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and that one was special. The funds that I used to pay for the remodeling came from my pocket and were not from blogging.

Ad sales paid for most of it, online ad sales. Yep, once upon a time I sold online advertising for a living so I know a thing or two about this business.

Some of you are trying to fool the good people of the blogosphere into buying your special blend of BS but more than a few of us recognize it. Some of you won’t last much longer because your cash flow is about gone.

Sadly that doesn’t describe all of you because you have alternate sources, like your spouse/savings or daytime job to pay for your snake oil sales.

I Am Just Writing

I haven’t given out names because I don’t want a flame war and it is possible I am wrong about some people. But that is ok because I really am just writing because I find in joy in it.

Not just joy in the journey but joy in the moments and minutes where I figure out which letters go where and what words work best. That joy is why you keep seeing these posts show up in your feed/reader/inbox.

It is part of why I don’t always feel the need to spend lots of time writing headlines. Jayme blogged about bad headlines and shared how sometimes I use sexual innuendo to drive traffic to my posts.

I suppose that is true, but what is also true is that if headlines are foreplay I rush through it.

Don’t get me wrong, headlines can be fun to write and not just the innuendo kind. I rather enjoy trying to come up with something more clever.

But time constraints dictate how I work and I never have all day to just sit around and play here so I have to get to the writing. I have to get to the words on the page bit so I push through the headlines.

People Don’t Read

I also know that many people don’t read. They skim the headline and make a split second decision about whether they are going to click their way into the blog to read that amazing post we just wrote.

The benefit of writing good headlines is that you have a better chance to generate traffic that way than by just throwing mud at the wall.

My method isn’t based on traffic. It is based on getting to write so that I can experience the joy of the journey. These words speak to me and I can’t get enough of their soft caress.

And after all these years I have learned/proven that people will read my posts. It may take longer to generate the larger traffic numbers but the community we are building is really solid and that is worth a lot.

Billion Dollar Blogger

Maybe one day I will be the first billion dollar blogger and maybe I won’t, doesn’t much matter to me as long as I am still having fun.

Ok, that is not entirely true either, a billion dollars would be nice but the joy this job generates is substantial.

What about you?