Archives for May 2014

Should You Care If Ten Million People Hate Your Podcast?

Radio Free Strawberry

A short while ago I received an email that said ten million people hate my podcast and that I should pack my gear up and go home.

Since this is a family blog and I never use colorful language I won’t share my response with you here but I will say that it would be nice to say that ten million people hate my podcast.

Ok, it wouldn’t really be nice to say ten million people hate my podcast but it would be great to know that I had that kind of reach. If I actually had that kind of reach the conversations we had here about monetizing things would be very different.

A Few Comments About Podcasting

I am a writer by trade and my knowledge about podcasting is very limited. I can’t speak about what equipment you should use or give you great technical advice on how to build or do one.

The reason I got into it was because I have a personal and professional interest in becoming a more effective communicator. Verbal communication is very different from written so I thought it would be useful to practice both sets of skills.

My current set up does not allow me to do any editing of the podcast so what you get isn’t as polished as it could be. I don’t want to be too polished because it hurts authenticity. I am not an actor but I would like to improve my skills and the interest level of listeners.

I think editing and being able to add music would help.

Some stories work better when they are told than when they are written.

If you are interested in hearing some of what I have done you can find them here. The one I did about blog cancellation fees is one of my favorites.

About The Blog Cancellation Fees

You can find that particular podcast over here it also includes some funny stories about what happened when my son and nephew started talking about body parts and things our bodies can do.

However you will not find the tale of the battle with Jersey Santa there and let me tell you, that is quite the tale.

 

What If Abraham Lincoln Were A Dad Blogger

Antietam, Md. Allan Pinkerton, President Lincoln, and Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand

Antietam, Md. Allan Pinkerton, President Lincoln, and Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand

If Abraham Lincoln were a dad blogger I might ask him to write a guest post about how to deal with bullying, making hard decisions and how to be a better father.

I might tell him about how some children are messing with my son and how it makes me think of the truck scene from Man of Steel and how I wish that I could tell my son that he just has to hide his abilities from people.

But since he is not Superman I’d probably ask old Honest Abe for his advice because when you mess with my kids I want to turn in Liam Neeson’s character in Taken.

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I dont have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for peope like you. If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.” Taken

Memories Come Back To Visit

I didn’t tell my son how angry I was when he told me about the kids who are messing with him. I didn’t tell him about how the stories made me remember the kids who messed with me and that I know from personal experience Some Wounds Take Longer To Heal.

When he spoke I maintained a poker face but storms had begun to rage inside my head because I remember how it felt.

I made a point to listen and when he asked for my advice I gave him some suggestions. I gave him some real tools for dealing with it and said sometimes people suck.

“If you can ignore it they will find someone else or if you can take control of the name and make it seem like you enjoy it they will stop calling you that.”

“Dad, if I do that they will laugh and try harder to get to me.”

I nodded my head, “yeah, but you have to keep it up one minute longer. If you turn it into a game in your head you can beat them.”

“I am not you. I can’t just laugh it off or pretend I don’t hear. I can’t tell them I’ll kick their ass because I’ll get kicked out of school. I can’t believe they don’t respect me.”

“Mister, you  didn’t know me when I was 13. You didn’t know me at 14 or 15. I wasn’t always like this. I learned how to manage these moments and you are going to figure it out too.”

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

If I told him I want’ed to ask Mr. Lincoln for advice my son would give me a funny look but he doesn’t have the same life experience and doesn’t understand the more things change, the more they stay the same.

My gut feeling is if my son can hang in there for a few more days summer break will come and things will die down. I know him well enough to know he’ll wonder if people will remember over summer but I won’t let him worry about that because it is too far away.

Or at least I’ll do my best to get him to just let go of that concern and deal with it if and when it happens in the Fall.

But in the interim we’ll sit down and I’ll talk to him some more about my experiences and I’ll see if that helps make him feel better. He doesn’t know that I really did smack some of the people who came after me and that is ok because I don’t want him to go there.

Times are different, back then you didn’t get expelled for fighting or sued. It worked out for me but it is not good solution.

I want him to figure out a solution that works for him that doesn’t involve dissolving the Union and I am confident he will. I just hope it happens before the end of the school year.

 

When Did Dad Become Walter Mitty?

2011 April 30 Mitty (43)

Is that dad or is dad day dreaming again.

The first time we went cliff diving I made the mistake of looking down before I jumped so instead of launching myself into space I worried about what might happen if I didn’t develop wings, the water below dried up or if a strong wind suddenly blew me off course.

It frustrated me so the next time I made a point to climb, take two steps and leap. I can assure you all went well and that I have the full use of all of my limbs.

I can also assure you that I have done many other dumb brave things in my life and that when I call myself The Greatest Dad Blogger Of Them All it is a mix of SEO, tongue-in-cheek and narishkeit.

Cliff Diving and Big Decisions

Ask those who know me best and they will tell you that I have a plan for many different situations. They’ll tell you I am confident that I could beat a gorilla, rhino, elephant and great white shark in combat.

Don’t ask when you’d see that sort of combination or how the shark would work with his teammates just submit and accept I have a plan and it will work.

Those aforementioned Steiner experts might tell you that I can tell a tale under any circumstances and any situation but that they often pop up when I am feeling some stress.

My current stress is related to trying to figure out how to find the best school for my children. My thought is to move us back to Texas because I can provide a better life for us there.

I love Los Angeles but the cost of living has made it very challenging to live as I wish and so Texas seems to be a suitable option. I lived there for a good long while and have a feel for things. I like it and I can see us there.

However the area I know best is not where I think I want us to live so the question is what part of town should I focus on and how do I identify the best schools for them?

Once I know that it is easier to look for housing, note I said easier because the truth is I have been looking. I figure there is no harm in starting earlier.

It feels a lot like cliff diving to me. I am standing on the edge of the rock trying to make certain I make a perfect decision and not taking action with the knowledge that I am not operating blindly.


George RR Martin is one of my favorite authors and it was with great pleasure that I started watching Game of Thrones on HBO. I felt relatively confident they would be true to the books and that I wouldn’t be one of those people who went nuts if they adjusted the story.

One of the many reasons I like him is because his stories are complex and he is not afraid to mess with a hero. He is not afraid to go after main characters and do nasty things to them.

Life can be like that. The hero doesn’t always win, unless we are talking about me in one of my Mitty moments.

The Arrogance of Parents

Sometimes I listen to parents talk about how they are sending their kid to the best public/private school and I roll my eyes because it is hard to listen to them talk about how the school is going to ensure that little Johnny becomes successful.

Or alternatively to listen to them tell me how an inferior different school means Johnny will fail because ultimately so much depends upon the child.

We can give them tools and resources but they have to be willing to use them. They have to be willing to take advantage of them.

So I look at my kids and think about how resourceful they can be, especially when pushed and wonder if I am spending too much time standing on that cliff looking down.

Avast maties - The "Black Pearl" is in port.

The Dread Pirate Roberts is about to set sail.

There will be plenty of time to think about these things later. The Dread Pirate Roberts is about to set sail and time for school talk is done. Argggh!

45 Is Not Old…Really It is Not

 

american city diner

Name the the five best things about blogging and the ability to capture a snapshot in time has to be one of them. Nestled in the blockquotes below is a post called Forty Is Not Old- No Really It Is Not.

I wrote it two months or so before I actually turned 40. It came after a meal with some of the fellas where we conducted a quick accounting of our lives. Some of the guys were in the process or had just finished getting divorced.

All of us were in the midst of trying to find steady work and were trying to figure out how college educated men who had gotten jobs straight out of college and always worked were struggling. It was before I was forced to sell my home, before another guy became a widower and before a whole lot of other crap happened.

But it was also before we figured out how to turn things around. Back then we worried about what would happen when we hit bottom because it felt like we were bouncing down the side of a cliff, whereas now we are all looking back and shaking our heads. We always knew it would get better, but man we hit every branch on the way down. It was hard to look up, yet here we are.

It is heading towards mid-morning and outside the ever present blue skies are teasing me with thoughts of non work related activities. I try not to look out the window because I don’t want to be any more distracted than I already am.

Granted I am seated in a coffee shop where I am in the middle of a business meeting. Just across the table a man is trying to sell me on an idea that he says is going to make all of us very wealthy. All he needs is the opportunity to make it happen and it just so happens that he thinks that we can provide it to him.

I frequent these coffee shops on a regular basis but it is usually with one of the boys. We all have non traditional jobs, or should I say jobs that don’t have traditional hours. It is not unusual to find us here during the middle of the day during the work week. We are never alone. These places always have a steady stream of customers. Even during hard times people still need their caffiene fix.

The man is still talking but I am just barely listening. I already know what he has to say and where he is going with it. I came up with the concept. I get distracted again by a pair of legs in a black skirt passing by and I start wondering if it is like this elsewhere.

I am that rare native of L.A. and though I have traveled all over I can’t recall whether other cities had the same feel of people out and about during the middle of the work week. Does it really matter? Probably not, but this is how my brain works.

Two days later I am going to be back in the same seat but this time I’ll be hanging out with Max. Max and I have been friends since we were 13. We went to high school and college together and have spent more than a few hours hanging out. I am less than a month older than he is but with the dreaded fortieth birthday approaching those distinctions aremore important than normal.

We agree that age is just a number and that neither of us feel as old as the number sounds to us. I am not kidding when I say that my mental image of myself is of me at nineteen or twenty. Hard body, stomach carved and muscles rippling. Oh, and I can’t forget the full head of hair.

I wore it in a flat top or as some people called it a brush cut. If I wore the right color green t-shirt and jeans I was sometimes mistaken for being in the service. It happened a lot during the days prior to the first Gulf War.

Now I look at myself in the mirror and I see a different image. Still have a fair amount of hair, but it is a bit thinner in the front. If I flex I can see the cuts in my stomach, but there is no hiding the spare tire that has taken up residence there. The rest of the body more or less passes muster.

Brutal honesty says that physically I am not who I was, but in some ways I am not so far off. Some days I don’t care about it and some days I do. I miss the metabolism that let me eat anything and the ability to watch nicks, bruises and aches fade away ten minutes after they showed up.

But not unlike so many others who came before me I appreciate the wisdom and strength that life experience has brought to me. I know so much more about who I am and what I am capable of than I did then.

That is all part and parcel of why Max and I smile wistfully and agree that we are on the verge of conquering the world or falling off the edge of the cliff into the abyss. It is a bit ridiculous to be so melodramatic about it all but that is how it feels. The biggest difference between now and then is not the physical component but the responsibility.

In those days that we remember so fondly it didn’t matter whether we made a dollar or a million. Didn’t matter about so many other things because all we had to worry about was ourselves. There weren’t any children. No worries about where they were going to go to school. No worries about where we would live because even if we spent a week on a couch here or there it just didn’t matter. Sooner or later we’d have our own place and life would be fine.

But it is not the late eighties or the nineties anymore. Those moments of incredible freedom are gone. They feel like a different lifetime. We hardly remember who we were. Now we have who we are and it is ok. It is ok because we have no choice other than to make it ok.

Old Max and I are in agreement that every transition resembles a roller coaster. There are ups and downs. There are moments where you feel the car pulling you up a steep incline and you know that soon you are going to go hurtling down the other side of the hill you just climbed. Question is whether you’ll scream because you are happy or because you are terrified.

Nah, forty isn’t really that old, but I think that I am ready to get it over with. It is the anticipation that makes me crazy. It is the waiting for things to happen that makes me grind my teeth and furrow my brow. Those lines in my forehead were earned, but I don’t need to help make them any deeper.

A small yelp of pain/surprise comes from across the table. That guy is still talking and in the midst of making a point has managed to spill a cup of coffee on his lap. Something tells me that the meeting is going to be cut short. Maybe I will take advantage of this sunshine and do something active.

If nothing else those endless blue skies tell their own story and I think that it just might be time to try and find out what that story is.

You’ll Never Get These Minutes Back But You’ll Be Glad…