Archives for July 2014

How Do We Make Invisible People Visible?

Foggy

Editor’s note: technically the post below first ran here. I am really angry right now about a long list of things, may or may not blog about it. I had put together an audio blog but somehow that was lost. Anyway, the invisible people covers some of what I am angry about. Maybe it will wake some people up, I don’t know but better to say something than not.

Friday morning, sunshine fills my room- got a cup of coffee in one hand and my hat is cocked across my head at a jaunty angle. Stevie Wonder’s I Was Made To Love Her is on iTunes and I am wide awake. Here in my home office I am about to tell you a tale of wonder and magic called Invisible People.

Invisibility is something that a lot of people dream about. On a list of prospective superpowers it is probably just a few notches below the ability to fly or super strength. It would be cool to be invisible or so a lot of people think. It certainly catches my eye, I could do a lot with it.

But the funny thing about invisibility is that it already exists or should I say that there are lots of people who have mastered invisibility. You probably have passed a bunch and not even realized it. The thing is that you probably don’t recognize them as being invisible in the superpower sense because they aren’t.

We have lots of different names for them some nice and some not so nice. In this post we’ll just call them homeless. They are all over the place. Some of them live in the bushes off on the side of the road or under a freeway overpass. Others live in their cars or roam from one cheap motel to another.

The ones that don’t have real shelter and spend their days exposed to the weather do the best job of staying invisible. Most of us don’t want to look at them. Some times it is because we blame them for their situation. We think that they most of squandered opportunities to earn a living and live in an apartment or house. We think that they drank or smoked their life away and because they can’t control themselves they ended up on the street. We might even feel badly about it. We might even want to help but fear to because we don’t want to contribute to their habit.

Whatever the reason is it doesn’t matter because they are invisible to us. As a father I look at my children and think about their futures. It is horrifying to think that one day my kids could be that man or woman at the side of the road. I would feel like I had failed them.

But I can’t worry about that now. It is too far down the road. Now I have to be concerned with teaching them many things, not the least of which is to remember that the invisible people are humans and that we have an obligation to try to help. We have a social responsibility to try to find a way to help those who have fallen down.

I can teach the kids all of the reasons why Judaism obligates us to help. I can cite chapter and verse but that is too easy and too simple. I don’t want them to view this under the “G-d wants us to do this” mantle. I don’t want that because it is too easy to externalize the reasons why. I want them to internalize it.

I want them to do it because it is the right thing to do. I want them to do it because when we help others we make the world a better place. I want them to do it because of the lessons it teaches and because of the rewards it offers.

I want them to do it because it helps to reinforce the humanity of people. I am not a pacifist. I believe that sometimes force is necessary and that when it is you unleash hell upon those you go to war with. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t remember that somewhere a mother cries over the bodies of her children.

It is a terrible contradiction but we live in a world full of contradictions. And one of those is that in a country that offers incredible opportunities there are millions of invisible people fighting to be seen. So here is my reminder to myself and whomever else is interested that it is time to help the invisible rejoin the rest of us in the sunlight.

Sex, Lies & Blogging- The Post That Went Viral…Again

Sex Sells..

In the time it took you to read these words 1,983,983 other people pointed, clicked and surfed away from this cyber oasis. They left because they weren’t captivated, compelled or interested in anything they saw here.

The headline failed to hold their attention. They weren’t interested in hearing about being a dad blogger or reading the words I have written about blogging. They don’t care about tales of parenting or stories that may or may not be fiction.

Bam, I just lost another 459,984 potential readers. I guess I better offer something substantial so that those people with short attention spans can stick with it.

Don’t Insult The Readers

Yeah, I know you shouldn’t insult your readers but sometimes I find myself baffled and bewildered by people.  Like the person who demands an immediate solution to conflicts but says he doesn’t care about cause and effect.

That sort of thing works great with children. Sometimes when my kids fight I’ll tell them to end it or they are both in trouble but it is not real effective in geopolitics.  Sometimes you need to understand both sides so that you can find a reasonable solution.

But I digress, let’s ignore substance and focus on fluff or is it ignore fluff and focus on substance. Who can keep track, not me I am too busy using not very clever social media tricks again to generate page views.

So my friends allow me to share some links to some posts I hope you will read. What you have are a mix of posts about writing, parenting and social media.

The first time I ran the whole sex, lies and viral thing I described the first set of links as an incomplete collection of my thoughts about writing and blogging. That is still true. Some of those posts are a few years old now but I still believe they are accurate. I have some newer posts that could be included too.

I made a point to include links to other topics and examples of my writing. I did it because I want some of you to see that I am not a one trick pony and that I can write about different things.

And I did it because some of those posts  are worth reading. I did it because I like to look back at my work and see if I have grown at all or if I am just saying the same old stuff on a different day.

Growth is important. If we don’t grow as people and as writers what are we doing here?

We’re Still Building Connections

We’re still building connections. I like what I said before and I think it is worth repeating:

We are building connections, you and I. We’re taking a journey together down country roads and through mountain passes. Some of you will picture us heading towards Mount Doom to destroy the ring and others will see us rafting down the mighty Mississippi River. I am Huck Finn and you’re Tom Sawyer, or maybe it is reversed.

Doesn’t really matter, not as long as you identify with these words.

I ask you if you know what brings you joy and what makes you happy. I tell you that I feel like the universe is sending me signs and messages and then in the next breath say that I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.

I wonder out loud what happens when you get what you want. If I was completely fulfilled would I be the same writer. Let’s face it, some of my best stuff comes when I am really happy/sad/angry/scared. Damn, that makes me sound unhinged and kind of crazy, doesn’t it.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Of The Blogosphere

I am tempted to copy  and paste the paragraph again because there is truth in it. It is the one where I talk about discovering that not all that glitters is gold in the blogosphere.

Sometimes it is tied into the social media experts who want you to pay them to teach you about how how to be more successful online. Some of them have good intentions and some don’t. But what chaps my hide are the ones who share common sense ideas and ask you to pay for that.

You know it is the person who tells you to write great content and to be consistent. Oh, ok it never occurred to anyone to try to be of value and service to others.

This evening what bothers me are people who cannot stomach disagreement, you know the people who decide because you have a different opinion you must be blocked and unfriended.

I find that very telling about their character and maybe I should pull from past work again.

I wonder about what lines should be drawn and where they should exist. You read the words I share with you and gain some insight into me. If you listen to my audioposts or watch my videos you learn more, but only a little.

That is not necessarily because I am guarded and cautious but because there are limits to what I share. And because sometimes I do a poor job of expressing myself or because you are in a hurry and you misunderstand.

Doesn’t matter what the cause is. What matters is that you pay attention. What matters is that you remember that there are real people mixed in here and that there are lots of good people online.

I am grateful to all who journey with me, the lurkers and the commenters.  Your presence has helped to shape and form posts, thoughts and perspectives.

See you in the comments.

The Crazy Old Man Of Dad Blogging

They said they didn’t understand how he could call himself  The Godfather Of Dad Blogging or how he could pretend to be the Jedi Master of Dad Blogging either.

“He is a kook, a nut and a wild man. Stay away from him, we don’t know if he is contagious.”

He heard their comments and saw the sneers on their faces but he didn’t care. He wasn’t blogging for awards or glory, he was just writing because it is what he was born to do.

And then the legend in his own mind recorded his words for posterity.

 

 

Friends, never take yourself too seriously and never pass up an opportunity to laugh. Stay tuned, I am in the groove now and will probably update several more times today.

If you need something sooner try one of these:

Dancing With Demons

Got a cold bottle of Blue Moon on my right and The Number Of The Beast blowing out my speakers now. Stretching in my seat, working out the kinks in my neck my mind is moving between the Fall of ’82 when I picked up the album and the present.

Doesn’t take any effort to hear weights clinking or to smell the sweat of the gym. Not so long ago this song was part of what I listened to as I did my best to transform my body from that 98 pound weakling into Charles Atlas.

Truth be told, that is an exaggeration because I never was the weakling. Never was the tallest but always was among the broadest and strongest.

People said it was because I am a Taurus, said I took after the bull, especially after they heard me speak.

Dancing With Demons

Can’t decide if I want to tell you about the lead singer of Iron Maiden is a pilot. Can’t decide if now is the time to talk about how images and how I imagine Bruce Dickinson must really be different from what people expect. The man leads a heavy metal band and is a licensed commercial airline pilot.

Or maybe this is the time to share other things. Started wearing my hair differently because I decided I needed to change a few things about me.

Decided that if I wanted certain things to happen I needed to go about it differently yet the more some things change, the more they stay the same.

Been staring at the old man in the mirror thinking about how to do a better job of sticking to my diet and how to increase the amount of time I get to lift.

I remember that high I used to get from lifting. I remember the joy I felt when the adrenaline kicked in and exhaustion was replaced by some sort of natural high octane lift.

The thing is I haven’t ever figured out the right balance between time and lifting. Or more accurately I haven’t figured out how to put two hours in at the gym each day and give my family the time they deserve.

I have tried to balance it, tried to find a way that satisfied it all but haven’t been successful.

Or at least that is the excuse I use for not being in the kind of shape I want to be in.

It is not a horrible excuse but it is not a good one because I don’t really believe it.

abouttime

Kids and Electronics

My kids are spending too much time tied to electronics and not enough outside. Been making a push to change that.

I have been taking them to the pool every day. It is good for all of us. Been making a point to do a few laps and every time I finish I shake my head and wonder how I ever let myself get so out of shape.

What kind of role model am I, certainly not the one I expected to be.

The complex we live in is safe enough for the kids to move among the townhouses but I am not ready for them to ride their bikes outside of here.

It bothers me.

If I want them to spend more time being active I need to provide opportunity for them to do so but this place is problematic. So I tell myself that when we move next year I’ll find a solution.

I feel more confident about that for my son than my daughter. Some of it is age related but they both need to have that opportunity to run.

They’ll stay in the team sports because it is good for them in so many ways but I do wonder about home work. Thus far it has all worked out, but what if we hit a place where it doesn’t.

Education is important, but so is staying in shape.

Ghosts Of The Past

I can see my reflection in the window next to my desk. I see me as I am now but I also see Steiner 1989. Flat top, tan and muscle bound he shakes his head at me.

“You promised this wouldn’t happen to us. You said you would find a way and you failed. Now look what you have done.”

I can’t ignore the rebuke because most of it is health related and not ego. Sure he hates like hell the six pack isn’t what it once was and even though I can show him that it is still around he won’t accept it.

When he shakes his head I tell him he doesn’t understand what it is like to have these responsibilities and that there are mystery aches and pains that appear.

“When I feel that twinge I don’t push because I am concerned I’ll aggravate something.”

He shakes his head again.

“Remember when they threw us through the window onto the concrete? Remember when they threw us through the closet doors? Remember that broomball game when we took two brooms in the head and kept playing?”

I hear what he is saying and the undertone that says I have gotten soft.

Glaring back at him I tell him physically I am not even close to who I was, not a tenth but mentally I am one thousand times tougher.

“You never would have been able to deal with this. You would have folded. You would have closed up shop and run away.”

The sun moves and the reflection is gone. It is not really fair to say he couldn’t have done what I do because Steiner 1989 wasn’t a father. He had no responsibilities and nothing but himself.

There were some advantages in that but that guy didn’t know what it was like to love his kids nor did he know the joy of little arms wrapped around his neck.

Steiner 2014 dances in the fire and dances with demons because it is what he does. But he is convinced that he’ll find that place he has been searching for and that he’ll recognize that moment.

And when he does he’ll grab onto it with those big gorilla mitts and hold because what is meant for you won’t go past you.

One Click Might Change Your Life

Love of My Life

The Shmata Queen and I once had a conversation about whether I needed to be more strategic with my blog posts. The idea was to be more focused on a particular topic and to try to secure a better SEO ranking for certain topics.

We wondered if it might be faster, easier and more effective way to build the readership. Narrow the focus, establish expertise in certain areas and expand outwards from there.

It was and is an idea worth thinking about. There is merit in it and sometimes I think the smart move would be to focus upon it but by gum if I did I would miss out on the opportunity to highlight some fabulous old posts from the past.

“In its native habitat the penis is primarily a nocturnal creature who operates with stealth and guile under the cover of darkness. Sometimes when it is surprised it attempts to hide by trying to blend in with its immediate surroundings. In a bathroom situation that involves immediately cutting of the flow of urine so as not to make any noise or leave a trail that can be followed by hunters or animals employed by hunters such as the penis hound.”  The Germophobe

One Click Might Change Your Life

Some years ago I received an email from someone who quoted the section above and said that I was a sick degenerate. I wrote them back and suggested they speak with my doctor who would assure them I was a very healthy degenerate.

I don’t recall if they responded but I am fairly certain I suggested they read the Germophobe in its entirety because they had taken the quote out of context and twisted it.

At least I think I told them that, memory fades but I think was engaged in a debate elsewhere in which I told them they couldn’t use Zionist or liberal to insult me. It was sort of a funny conversation because  they railed at me for being a proud Zionist and excoriated me for calling myself liberal.

It was the sort of nonsensical argument that you can only have online because this sort of nonsense never gets aired out in person. Or maybe it doesn’t because when you have a grip that makes a gorilla scream in pain people temper their response.

Or maybe it is none of those things. Does any of this matter or should we talk about how one click might change your life.

I’d offer to let you choose. Really we could go discuss  Maybe You Shouldn’t Take Your Best Friend Out In Public but you might think that I have a one track mind about somethings.

So let’s get back to talking about change and leave the narishkeit about godfather of blogging for a different time.

stockyard

One Moment In Time

I took that picture in February of 2013, it was Old Jack’s first trip to the Stockyards in Fort Worth but I took it as a resident of Texas and not as a tourist.

Blame that moment upon one click on a job listing for a position in Texas. One click led to a five state move and another led five states back.

But that first click set things in motion and enabled more changes in my life than most of you probably want to hear about. Ask me to sum it up and I’ll tell you that it is not an exaggeration to say I see it as life changing and that I expect it to lead to great things.

It has already been an amazing journey and the adventure hasn’t ended.

I don’t know about you but I much prefer to view life as an adventure than as some dull, dreadfully boring series of moments to be passed through.

Maybe that is a confession of a different sort. Maybe it is an admission that I am not as low maintenance as I like to consider myself to be.

I seem to do a very fine job of being a storm walker but when you become accustomed to dancing in the fire these things seem to become normal.

But if the goal is to live my dreams and not dream my life than this is the path I have to take and it wouldn’t do to ignore the advice I give my children.

What Role Does Blogging Play In All This?

This joint you are hanging out in is more than just an online barbecue. It may be a place where I am passing out drinks and engaging in conversation but it is also where I chronicle the lives of my children and clear the space between my ears.

When the kids and I talk about their lives and their dreams I always remind them to consider how to build a road map to get from here to there or there to wherever.

It is kind of a funny contradiction because I don’t like making a ton of plans. I like flexibility. I like being able to turn on a dime and yet it is hard to get where you are going without a plan or so the powers that be have said.

So I use the blog as a sounding board, as my laughing place and as my online sandbox. I use the blog to think out loud and to plan.

The funny thing to me about it all is that in many ways blogging is really what changed my life. Ten years ago one click took me to Blogger and then a couple more helped me launch my career.

One click followed another and decades later I can say blogging led to both full time and freelance work. It led to working with various brands and to friendships I never would have had otherwise.

One click on a whim and I began the great adventure of my life but that is a story for a different night.