Outlines Kill Blogs, People & Aliens

Into The Future
The biggest challenge with using a pseudonym online is the difficulty presented in showing your work to prospective employers.

When they tell you they don’t think you are qualified to help them build their online widget factory because you haven’t shown them a portfolio that proves you have the skills and experience necessary to help www.ourwidgetsdontsuck.com.

Sometimes I want to snap a photo of the wry grin that resides upon my face and send it to them with a note saying “If you only knew what you were missing.”

It is the sort of passive-aggressive response that is unlikely to lead anywhere I really want to go so I haven’t ever done it. However when the email comes from a human I have been known to send a polite response that suggests they didn’t read my resume and that if they’ll give me five minutes I’ll demonstrate it is worth their time.

That doesn’t always work but it provides me with a sense of satisfaction that I have done what I could to try to facilitate things.

Outlines Kills Blogs, People & Aliens

Several of you have asked me to provide more details about how I write these posts and have asked for specifics information about how I come up with topics.

The high level answer is I almost never use an outline or come up with the topic before I start writing.

That loud gasp you just heard probably came from one or more of my English teachers who said we need an outline to keep our writing tight and focused.

Maybe that is true but it also true that chalk outlines are always used to mark dead bodies or at least we think they are.

Have you ever seen a dead body that wasn’t outlined in chalk? How do we know that poor devil wasn’t just some guy taking a nap. You know they decided to lie upon the ground and catch a few winks and were caught unaware by the chalk outline murderer.

A friend of mine said that is a ridiculous hypothesis but I asked him to tell me the last time he saw a chalk outline of a person and no police presence. Apparently the police agree with my ridiculous hypothesis.

Furthermore you don’t see chalkboards in most schools anymore and you don’t see peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in most any more either. The lack of the PB&J sandwich isn’t because the Duke of sandwiches isn’t still tasty, filling and nutritious. It is because many children have developed allergies to nuts.

So it is possible that they have also developed severe allergies to chalk dust which could lead us to the conclusion that chalk might cause a fatal reaction in some, hence the chalk outline killer is someone to be feared.

When I think back to my school days I remember getting into trouble more than once for clapping chalkboard erasers together or on the walls. That memory includes people choking and coughing on the dust which leads my twisted little mind to wonder if maybe I am immune to the chalk dust which could make me the perfect person to catch the chalk outline killer.


The primary reason I am not a huge fan of outlines for blog posts is that sometimes the writer loses their voice among all that structure.

Storytellers Unite

I miss all of my grandparents and I will for the rest of my life but the hole my grandfathers filled is one that may never be filled.

For 42 years I was among the luckiest people around because I always had at least one of them in my life and now that generation is gone.

I miss them for a thousand reasons not the least of which is they were both better storytellers than I am. I miss listening to and learning from them.

In many ways my professional life has more similarities to what they went through than my father.  That is not a knock against my dad by any means but sometimes it is easier to have a conversation with people who have walked in your shoes because they understand things in a way that others can’t.

And now I have reached a moment in time where my gut says they wouldn’t just get it they would know what to say. It might not be anything more profound than the only way to the other side is go through but that would work because I listened to them.

Yeah, I just acknowledged I am not always good at listening to comments or advice from lots of other people. I often tune it out because I don’t think they really understand what is happening or recognize that you can’t always apply what was to what is.

Sometimes I hear their voices talking to me, encouraging me to take one more step, to hold on a moment longer and sometimes I hear them yelling at me not to act like an idiot.

I never question whether it is my imagination or if they are talking to me from the other side because it doesn’t matter. What matter is the echoes of the past reach into the present in a positive way so why should I care what the reality is or not.

One Last Thing

Played two hours of ball last night, came home and walked up and down stairs that felt like jelly.

My son asked me to sit and talk so I listened to his stories about school and answered questions about this and that. When he was almost asleep he told me again that he is not sure where he fits in and said he doesn’t know what to make of the people at school.

I told him I felt that way more than once when I was in school and said it has happened as an adult too.

Told him life is a series of experiences and evolutions but I didn’t tell him sometimes revolutions come with those moments too. But I told him to keep taking it one day at a time and to remember I’ll always be there to help push him along and prop him up.

And somewhere in the back of my head this image of my grandfathers materialized and I could see them smiling. I could feel them standing close and I remembered introducing them to their great grandson.

Later on as I drifted off to sleep I remembered my maternal grandfather and I watching my son get fitted for a tuxedo for my sister’s wedding and I remembered his taking my hand and telling me how proud he was of both of us.

It is too bad he won’t see me catch that chalk outline killer, he’d really be proud then too.

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  1. Brian Sorrell December 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Outlines are the work of the devil and I never use them. There. I said it.

  2. Larry December 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I love pb&j. When I realized I might not be allowed to bring it to school, I panicked. Thankfully, I was.
    Is your son at a new school? If not, is this a new problem? I wonder why now.
    Are you telling me the scenario you described in the first bit ever worked? Come on now. No way!!

    • The JackB December 10, 2014 at 9:17 am

      @Lardavbern:disqus I never have sent them the photo but when I have received a letter from a real person I have responded. Haven’t done it every time, but every now and then it works.

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