Archives for October 2013

It Might Have Been Worth Getting Arrested

United States Mint Police

Parked the car at about 9:30 and sat in the dark thinking about the events of the very recent past and the evening. Twenty minutes earlier I was back on the basketball court, huffing and puffing my way back into shape, mind pushing muscles to remember how to do their jobs and will fighting physical exhaustion.

Been 10 months since I last played and part of me reveled in the moment, the joy of being back on the court was there and much joy there was.

I love this game and I love playing it. Love this game but I hear the clock ticking more loudly than I ever have and so I am very cognizant that my physical skills are not what they used to be. It is a humbling feeling to have some younger guy beat you when you know that there was a time he never could have done so.

Yet that was then and this is now.

Is It Intuition Or Desire?

The plan had been to walk back into the house, shower, eat dinner and then write about a moment on the court. The plan had been to express my anger and dismay about something and then it got sidetracked by a post called Is It Intuition Or Desire?

Saw in my stats that someone had been reading it and decided to take another look. One paragraph jumps out at me, begs me to pay attention so I do.

I am not really sure what made me think of that moment but I have learned to listen to these thoughts. I have learned to try and sit in the quiet of my mind so that I can try to identify what I am thinking/feeling.

Things are happening now. Good things. Big things. Changes.

I feel a bit like I am in one of those crazy Kung-Fu movies the boys and I used to watch as kids. I am Bruce Lee and there is a circle of men around me. They keep attacking and I keep finding ways to beat them all.

Whirling, turning, jumping, bending and dancing all around I avoid the blows and hand out my own. They can’t stop me. They can’t contain me. All they can do is slow me down.

Those things I felt came about, not all, but many and perhaps the most important. Can’t be more specific than that because there are boundaries in blogging that even an unfiltered man like I maintain.

But I recognize that in the midst of much joy there is some anger and frustration there too. So in my cryptic manner let me continue by saying it felt a bit like I managed to steal fire from the gods and then they tried to steal it back.

So now I am in the second part of my quest.

It Might Have Been Worth Getting Arrested

A man showed up at ball tonight. He is probably ten years older than I am and a half foot shorter.

I bump into him while chasing a rebound and he complains. ‘I have a broken rib, please be careful.”

My initial thought is that he is a fool. It is a contact sport. Even if you don’t bump into anyone the running and jumping can’t feel great on your rib, but it is his choice to be out there.

I promise to be careful and for a while that is ok. Time passes and after he fouls me I say nothing but just play harder. He looks at me again and tells me about his rib but now I am irritated.

So I tell him that he is selfish and delusional. Selfish to think that he can come play and expect everyone there to try to cater to his needs and delusional to think that people will.

He calls me fat.

I laugh and tell him that I feel badly, especially when it comes from an 8,000 year old man who is too stupid to recognize he is hurting himself.

He says something else and I tel to shut the fuck up, because I am done listening. I just want to play.

But part of me wishes I would have slapped him across the face. A slap is among the biggest insults among men. We don’t slap other men.

I Am Glad Nothing Happened

I am glad nothing happened. It would have been a complete waste of time but part of me is still amazed that he could actually suggest that we should cater to his broken rib.

I have this feeling about the future. It is a very strong sense of knowing that certain things are going to happen. There are multiple pieces to it.

Some of these pieces make perfect sense to me and I am certain that they will happen. Some of the details may be adjusted somewhat, but I am confident this is going to be.

But there are other things that I feel quite strongly and they are…confusing.

I want to say that it is intuition, but I wonder if perhaps it is just desire.

I moved heaven and earth to find out whether it was intuition or desire. It was both. Now I have to play out this hand and work through the second part of the quest to see what happens.

Part of me is quite certain because I know things. What happened in 1724 isn’t limited or done. It is just in transition. Time will tell how that all plays out.

The Crazy Times Have Been Unleashed

The times they aren’t a changin’ because they have already changed and it has become clear the crazy times have been unleashed again.

“The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.” ― Albert Einstein

Moments like now are challenging because you feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest, your brain is screaming full stop and the world is saying “fuck you little man, deal or don’t deal.”


Bodhisattvas 

And the funny thing about it all is that just when I think that the screaming I hear is coming from my own throat I realize there is nothing but silence around me because I have pushed aside and away all that is clawing at me so that I can clear my head.

In the momentary absence of chaos I can see exactly what to do, how to do it and why I should. That sort of clarity is invaluable and the kind of thing that people would pay millions for.

And then the moment is gone and my sense of security and knowledge of how to do it is shattered.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ― Albert Einstein

Can’t argue with my buddy Albert because that is what I am doing, what I have always done. Still it has been a very hard few weeks filled with much good but some serious changes that have turned everything in life upside down again.

It is a period of reentry where I am trying to regain my bearings and it has been very hard. I feel like I had to fun at full speed to catch a moving train and that when I caught it I fell and bounced around the inside of the cabin.

My entire body hurts and it is not an exaggeration that the sore muscles in my back have sent word that their muscles are also sore.

It reminds me of that old television show The Greatest American Hero. Guy is given a suit with magic powers but he loses the instructions so even though he can fly and has super strength he keeps bumping into things.

For that one brief moment an angel answered all of my questions and I smiled and felt a perfect sense of calm because I knew how to get it all done.

And then the moment was gone along with the knowledge. Clarity left and took calm with it leaving me angry and frustrated because I can almost remember.

So very close and yet so far.

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” ― Albert Einstein

Social Networks Have Killed Blog Comments & No One Cares

Adagio For Strings is playing and my head is somewhere other than here. Lost in thought about the life I just left behind in Texas and the one I am rejoining here I am trying to sift and sort through it all.

It used to be when I heard this piece my head would go to Platoon because that was what I associated the music with. I remember when the movie came out and how many of the Vietnam Vets talked about it. I was all of 18 and too young to realize that many of those Vets weren’t particularly old and that they were sorting out their lives too.

Now I hear Adagio for Strings and think about the concert after 9/11 and I can’t not see the Towers in my mind or think about all that happened that day and all that has come since. Can’t help remembering what it was like to be a new father and to wonder what it would mean for my children.

Blog Comments Are On Life Support

Life is a series of transitions and choices. That is not an indictment or value judgment, just a comment based upon perception. So is that subhead.

My perception is that blog comments are on life support. There are so many other platforms and places that are taking away from blog comments it is hard to envision a time when they will recover.

Is that a bad thing? Well, it depends on your thoughts and perceptions.

I am not saying that no one comments on blogs any more because it still happens but now it takes more work to make it happen. Unless you are one of the popular bloggers you probably don’t get as many comments as you used to. I know that I don’t and that most bloggers I know feel the same.

Now when I see posts with significant amounts of comments it is usually because there is a community surrounding that blog or because there is some sort of controversy tied into it.

Sometimes I think about what I can do to change that. Sometimes I think about writing about how I hate the holiday season or why there isn’t a War on Christmas to see what kind of comments I can stir up and then I remember that I write about those things every year.

Should We Care/Do People Care?

We are at the 9.5 years of blogging mark. I mention it because I have to take that into consideration. Have to look at my perception and recognize that it impacts what I do and think.

Have to recognize that I don’t care about comments the way I once did and that writing for the sake of writing is far more important. When I don’t get to write it feels like I am choking. You know, it is that thing that happens when you don’t get your air. Sometimes you don’t get it because you are truly cut off and sometimes it a temporary thing, ya know like having a shirt collar that is too tight.

Should we care about the reduced number of comments? I don’t know. I see some outstanding conversations elsewhere. I see and participate in dad blogger groups and marketing/writing professionals where the conversation is stellar.

There is a lot to be said for those.

They help build relationships and provide for some great learning and those are real benefits. That is the kind of thing that makes this blogging business special.

Words Should Move You

I still operate off the same basic premise that words should move you. So I suppose that when I ask whether we should be concerned about whether we receive comments or not the answer is that if I don’t move you to comment I am not getting the job done.

And there you have proof of the contradiction of life. From the writer who writes whether you read or not. Life is still a series of contradictions and choices and it is up to us to make of it what we will.

We can choose to persevere when things are more challenging or we can drop our swords and fall upon them. Just don’t expect me to drop my sword because I never have learned/accepted that I can’t beat the dragon.

Comments aren’t dead, they are just scattered around hither and thither.

“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Ulysses- Tennyson

The Problem With Blogging Conference Speakers- Revisited

Editors Note: The post below originally ran here. A few years later I think we are still facing some of the same challenges as before. Some conferences are populated with large numbers of the same attendees and speakers year after year because of financial concerns.

Not everyone can afford to attend or speak. Finances play their role and in some areas so does the buddy system in which people work together to make sure their friends are part of the club.

This is not meant to be a blanket indictment of all bloggers/speakers/conferences/brands because that would be unfair, wrong and inaccurate.

But it is worth taking a hard look at what is going on and asking who is benefiting, not because we are trying to out/expose anyone but because there is value in trying to figure out how the system works and who benefits.

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The problem with blogging conference speakers is that we expect them to be experts on a particular topic and most of the time they aren’t. We sit in our chairs and hope that at least one member of the panel will be able to shed some insight and distill their words of wisdom and oftentimes it doesn’t happen.

It doesn’t happen because they aren’t experts in the field. They don’t necessarily know more than you do about blogging and how to be successful at it. Sometimes they are far less capable and talented than you are but the difference between them you is that when the call for speakers went out…they answered.

They stood up, raised their hands and said that they would fill a time slot. Bully for them and boo for you.

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You can call this Digital Envy if you wish. Blog Envy is real and every time I write about it I receive a ton of feedback. In part that is because bloggers love to talk about blogging but this isn’t about that. This is about my frustration with conferences that require a substantial registration fee to go hear people who aren’t experts in the field speak about it. I can’t say that I blame the speakers for volunteering their time. If you are trying to build a name for yourself this is one way to do it. You gain good exposure and you obtain a new line for your resume.

My grandfathers would have told me that this is all narishkeit and they are probably right. Narishkeit: (nar-ish-kite) foolishness (a nar is a fool) Why should any of this matter to me and is there a real reason for me to care.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Teddy Roosevelt “Citizenship in a Republic,”Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Old Teddy, he of speak softly and carry a big stick fame is correct and I am duly chastised. It is easy for me to poke holes in the fabric of the conference, to complain, critique and comment upon the shortcomings. It is harder to answer the call for speakers with a 500 word essay on what I want to talk about and why it would be a mistake not to include me in the line up.

And the beauty of hindsight is that it allows me to say that it was a mistake not to solicit a spot forBlogworldLA. I could have done so and I didn’t and I take responsibility for that but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that there is a problem with speakers. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that some people are filling space nor does it mean that I am envious.

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There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Essay on Self Reliance- Ralph Waldo Emerson

And lest you think that I take myself too seriously I would have asked the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain to open up for me. I would have told them to play the theme to Shaft and then walked up, cool as can be and begun speaking.

Or perhaps I would have opted for this one

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And with a little bit of luck and some hard work I would have shared words that would have moved you. There are stories that I could have told and slides that I could have shared but it is not going to happen this time around and the only one to blame for that is me.

But that is the beauty of blogging. The chance to share our triumphs, failures and teaching moments with ourselves and our readers. We only get so many somedays so the best we can do is make tomorrow today.

Transitions Are Exciting

The Venetian

Turned on iTunes and set it to shuffle and nearly fell of my seat when The Boys of Summer started playing because that song hits me now in a way I can’t properly express.

Always has, but now it is particularly…apt.

Read the lyrics, look at the moon and know that I am driving down that empty road. Moving through the desert with nothing but whatever songs are loaded on my phone and my thoughts.

Fifteen hundred miles feels like 15 million and yet it feels like…nothing.

There is an ethereal feel to this all, a surreal sense that I straddling planes and living between the moments. It is the transition and it is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

Transitions Are Exciting

Time to Say Goodbye is playing now and I am thinking about the Fountains at the Bellagio in Vegas. I am thinking about the lyrics in English and how few people know them. Thinking about how I appreciate them.

When you’re far away I dream of the horizon and words fail me.
And of course I know that you’re with me, with me.
You, my moon, you are with me.
My sun, you’re here with me with me, with me, with me.

Time to say goodbye.
Places that I’ve never seen or experienced with you.
Now I shall, I’ll sail with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,

The Las Vegas of my youth doesn’t exist any more. The strip can be crowded and it is harder to find a cheap room but it has become like Disneyland for adults.

Five Star restaurants, Broadway shows and hotels that are simply breathtaking.  How much money did they spend to bring Venice to America.

It is strange to have to go west to reach Vegas and stranger still for it not to be a five hour car ride. This time around it is not the final destination, but it could be a place for lunch.

And as goofy as ever if I do decide to hit I will drive into the city blaring Viva Las Vegas on the car stereo but in my head I am sure I’ll be hearing the theme to Dallas.

Children Are Waiting

Somewhere down the road the children are waiting. Somewhere down the road these kids are pulling at me, pushing and tugging through the air, asking dear old dad to put 18 hours behind the wheel so that I get home faster.

I tell them that I will get home as soon as possible but that I am going to focus on driving safely so they should plan on it taking three days for me to get there. I’ll still spend hours behind the wheel but I won’t be completely spent when I get there.

In the midst of thinking about this an old memory flashes into my head. I am twenty and I drive for countless hours to see my girlfriend. Can’t get their fast enough and the energy of youth and anticipation of things to come in the night pushes me to drive harder and faster.

Flashback to the present and I am thinking about how their tractor beam is pulling me in. Thinking about how my preteen boy has noticed that girls move differently than we do.

He barely managed to get that out and I wonder what else he is noticing and if we are on the verge of a new dawn. Daughter has a list of things she wants to do and makes sure to tell me that no one gives me more hugs and kisses than she does.

Soft giggle follows and I smile because daddy’s girl is trying to set the stage for something. She has something planned and I don’t know what it is.

Don’t really care because she is daddy’s girl.

Can’t wait to see those rug rats of mine.

And You Won’t The Same

I keep hearing this clip from the movie version of The Hobbit:

Bilbo Baggins: …Can you promise that I will come back?

Gandalf: No. And if you do… you will not be the same.

I am coming back, but I am not the same. That is not a value judgment or indictment of my time in Texas, just an acknowledgment that things are different.

You can visit the same river many times but every time you do you know that something is different.