Archives for December 2015

Another New Year’s Eve Post No One Reads

Welcome to Another New Year’s Eve Post No One Reads.

Consider this an exercise in free writing or a journey with no particular destination in mind.  Ask me why I said it is another Another New Year’s Eve Post No One Reads and I’ll tell you it is because I expect very few people to show up here, not on this particular day.

Of course you never really know how much truth there is or isn’t in proclamations about blogging and readers.

You never can tell for certain what posts will resonate and generate tons of pageviews/comments and what will lead to a deep and extended silence.

Twenty-five years ago I would have been at a party I hosted with friends, looking for a woman to spend the night with, assuming I didn’t have a girlfriend.

And even if I found a woman I was truly interested in there was no certainty that she would be interested in me or that I would actually act upon any desires because some times it was just more fun to hang out with friends.

All That Pressure

Ah yes, the good old days when there was all that pressure to try and have a date for New Year’s Eve or at least someone to kiss at midnight.

I can remember a few years when there were none and your good female friend would give you a big hug and sometimes a kiss on the lips along with a greeting of “Happy New Year.”

Those were the days before kids when we were new to the world and the workforce.

We didn’t think about retirement as being something close enough to see or wonder if it was worth staying up to midnight because the kids would be up really early the next day.

And then we blinked a couple of times and the kids were excited about staying up to midnight and or asking for rides to parties.

“Dad, can I celebrate with Mike? His parents will be home and I’ll sleep over there.”

And part of me smiles while another part wonders how long it will be before girls/boys and alcohol/drugs will be a real issue.

Not to say we haven’t had those conversations because we have but we’re pretty certain that it is not an issue now, might be later, but not today.

And now a musical intermission.

Aretha can still sing, there is a whole song/movie/story tied up in that thing. Layers upon layers.

And now a message, er thought for the new year.


abelincoln

I went to a funeral today and listened to stories about a dear friend’s father and was impressed by the list of accomplishments.

A doctor who saved and changed lives, a man who it sounded like did all that he could do with what he had.

I knew him, but not well.

And it made me think again about the goals I have for my life and the ideas I have for the kind of future I want.

But it also made me think that it might be fun to create another dozen or so identifies for me so that when people talk about me at my funeral there will be far too much say so they’ll have to go for the default, “he was a nice guy who made the world a better place and saved mankind.

More About New Years

I went looking for posts I wrote about New Years and somehow came upon this piece about cleveland which will probably surprise the Shmata Queen ‘cuz she thinks I hate that burning river land.

Of course it wouldn’t surprise her as much as kissing me on New Years’ Eve, but that is the sort of electrical connection not spoken about here.

Anyhoo as I searched for the old posts I came across Your Way, My Way and The Hard Way and Cheaper Than A $5 Whore With Less Risk of Infection.

Not to mention The Fifty Posts You Didn’t Read On New Year’s Eve, which is one I wrote last year and a piece of fiction called New Year’s Eve that received a huge amount of traffic a few years back.

Sometimes Life Is A Lewis Black Moment

Ever notice how sometimes life is like one giant Lewis Black moment. I tend to think about his horse and college bit, which you can listen to now if you’d like.

Or alternatively you can read the words below and wonder if they are funnier, more interesting or more profound when heard/read in their entirety.

But every so often, somethin’ like that happens: ‘If it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.’ So your brain goes, ‘LET’S FIGURE IT OUT! Son of a bitch!

And that my friends brings me to the final point of the evening, sometimes no matter how hard we try we never get as much information or insight about the hard questions in our lives.

There is almost always a piece of the puzzle that you cannot answer or identify without taking that step into the great unknown.

You take a risk for a reward or you accept that what you have now is all you’ll have later.

That is not always a bad thing, but sometimes it is not enough either.

The choice is yours, always has been.

Happy New Year, here is to a 2016 that is better than the past because it exceeds our expectations and our dreams.

Time to for this old man to go have some pizza and watch a movie.

Family Is The Best & The Worst

I never thought I would like The White Stripes, don’t know why I didn’t or if it was just one of those arbitrary decisions we make about people, places, food and things.

Wouldn’t surprise me if that is how it happened, ‘cuz I am a person like you and as much as I want to say all of my decisions are based upon logical thought and rational ideas they just aren’t.

I have eaten foods and done things that I shouldn’t have for reasons that weren’t based upon anything other than whatever was taking place at that moment in time.

Not going to list or detail them or even try to suss out the reasons why because it is silly. What would you learn if I told you in college I fooled around with some women because I was drunk and horny and not because I was interested in their minds.

What would you learn if I told you in college I fooled around with some women because I was drunk and horny and not because I was interested in their minds.

Would it help if I told you that I am lactose intolerant and I ate some ice cream and pizza because I love those foods even though I knew they would wreak havoc upon my system.

Probably not.

What Made You Change Your Mind?

You didn’t ask me what made me change my mind about The White Stripes but I am going to tell you what happened anyway.

Summer of 2013, I am standing on the balcony of my apartment, drinking a bottle of Shiner Bock and waiting for the sun to leave me and the rest of Fort Worth bathed in darkness.

Stars start to wink across the sky and I decide to head back inside, set myself down on the couch and I turn on HBO.

There is a special about Led Zeppelin and there are famous people talking about Jimmy Page. Jack White is talking about Jimmy and sharing thoughts about music and I decide he is likeable.

He is relatable and that makes me decide to listen to the few White Stripe songs I happen to have downloaded from Google Music.

I downloaded them because they were free and I figured it was an easy way to decide if I like them or not, but for whatever reason I haven’t really listened to them yet.

Icky Thump starts playing and I smile, it is kind of catchy, a couple of lines grab my ear and I finalize my decision, they aren’t bad.

I don’t buy any of their albums, but I might, the door is open.

Later on I’ll head back to the balcony, another beer in hand and headphones on my ear, time to stare at the stars and think about the future, think about topics to write about and just enjoy the moment.

People told me Texas would be far too hot for me, I am laughing because I grew up in the San Fernando Valley where we played on blacktop and metal playground equipment during days where it was past 90 and sometimes beyond the 100s.

It was way back in the ’70s when it didn’t matter if your parents smoked or not because every other adult did anyways.

Family Is The Best & The Worst

Ma and Pa Steiner are happy because their entire brood is here and I have spent all sorts of time showing my kids what dear old dad is/was like as a brother.

Niece and nephews have encouraged me to tease their mom so that they can see how a real master pisses off a little sister.

I tell them it is not the best idea, “I don’t live with her and she’ll know you are behind this.”

“But Uncle Jack, it is really funny.”

Good old Uncle Jack agrees it is really funny but not all of the time and not every day, of course they haven’t asked for it to be that way.

Nor have they coordinated things so multiple children have approached me upon multiple occasions to ask for it, all because they once saw their uncle and mother go at it over something neither one of us remembers because it was years ago.

Still there have been a time or two where I entertained  them all with comments that escaped from between my lips not because they asked me to but because I was pissed off.

It is the same love/hate relationship I see with my own kids.

The majority of the time all is fine but there are moments and we remember that family is the best and the worst.

The Mostly True Confessions Of A Festivus Miracle Man

Shared some of the confessions of a Festivus Miracle Man with the family and realized the source of some disappointment is we weren’t all together for the airing of grievances.

It would have been good to have a set time for that but we didn’t and now I have to decide if I am going to pull a couple of them aside to let them know they have irked me and why.

I probably won’t not because I fear to do so but because I don’t see an upside to it. If it won’t create change and I don’t have to deal with the stupidity on a regular basis it is probably easier to let it pass.

That is logic and rational thought speaking and in concept that is how it will go but people don’t always act based upon logic and rational thought.

Press the right button and set up the right circumstance and who knows what can happen. That is part of the joy of the journey, now isn’t it. 🙂

The Mostly True Confessions Of A Festivus Miracle Man

Been listening to ELO and The Moody Blues with a smattering of Ray Charles and Johnny Cash throughout the day.

Middle sister is in town along with her entire brood and I have taken immense pleasure in watching my children play with their cousins not to mention the joy of getting to speak with nieces and nephews I don’t see often enough.

Good Old Uncle Jack listened to the high school boys talk about their lives and smiled as the middle school kids known as niece and daughter compared notes about their schools.

The kids get bigger, parents get older and time moves faster.

Musical Intermission

  • Telephone Line– Electric Light Orchestra
  • 6th Avenue Heartbreak– The Wallflowers
  • Thank You– Led Zeppelin
  • Adagio For Strings– New Zealand Symphony
  • Against The Wind– Bob Seger

whenopportunitycomes


In a chunk of hours morning will arrive and the four-day break from my normal work routine will end and almost normal life will resume.

Almost normal being the operative term because those of us who have to report for duty are doing so during the odd limbo like time of the final week of the year.

It is a time when many people have checked out and even though they man their stations the reality is their minds are far away and the desire to work is farther yet.

This  particular time of year has been pretty good to me because historically speaking it is when I have found ways to tap into the magic of the moment and created some pretty big success stories.

But it is also a time where I find it harder to focus and maybe that is why I find myself staring at my stats, trying to decide if there is a particular theme I should focus upon, pointing and clicking at old posts to see if maybe they hold the answers.

  1. All I Want Is You
  2. It Burns
  3. I Had a Dream
  4.  Just a Kiss-You are My Air 
  5. Mean Girls Come From Mean Moms
  6. Plenty Of Time
  7. Why Your Post Sucks and Everyone Hates Your Blog

The Mostly True Confessions Of A Festivus Miracle Man

Steiner the minor once asked me if I could point to a single trait or characteristic that has served me well and I said it was my ability to grind things out.

“I go the distance and sometimes even a bit farther.”

“Dad, what does that mean?”

“It means that I don’t rely solely upon talent or solely upon effort. I do what is required and when I need to be relentless, well I am relentless.”

And then I told him that it hadn’t always led to victory and that sometimes heroes fall…but not always.

Not always visited me last week and presented me with a Festivus miracle.

I pulled a rabbit out of my hat and did something that I had thought was damn near impossible.

When I got the word I made a point to tell my son, not to brag but because I wanted to use it as a teaching moment and show him the benefit of being ready to jump on opportunity.

I wanted him to see that hard work helps us make our own luck and create opportunity.

And I wanted to point out that even if I had failed I would have gone to sleep that night knowing that I did everything I could do to make it work.

When he asked if that made failure better I said it didn’t take away the frustration or pain but it did ease the sting.

What Comes Next?

Got that “I am running with the moon” feeling now that I once wrote about floating through my head.

It is different from what I described there but similar in the sense that I feel like bolts of energy are shooting from my fingertips.

This feeling that if I focused hard enough I could fabricate lightning bolts out of the electricity flowing through my fingertips and that I could fling them from atop my own Mount Olympus.

And even though I know it sounds ridiculous and somewhat foolish to say such things I do because this blog is where we sometimes share the silly and sublime material that lies just below the surface.

It is where we sometimes write from the perspective of the Phantom of the Opera or from the role of the hero.

It is where we do our best to just write and not worry about whether it will be well received or scoffed at.

And on the verge of a new year it is impossible not to ask what comes next, especially when it  feels like something massive is looming in the distance.

I am ready for it even though I am not quite sure what it is not because I am a master of the feats of strength but because the last 10 years or so have prepared me.

All of the crazy changes and upheaval have made it easier for me to shift to the right or sidestep to the left without fear of what might happen if I stumble.

Don’t misunderstand this to mean that your old insouciant friend doesn’t care if he stumbles because it never feels good to step on a Lego with your barefoot or stub your toe on the curb.

But if you do as Teddy suggests and put yourself in a position to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves you can also be prepared to roll with the unexpected difficulties that sometimes visit.

“Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.”
― Theodore Roosevelt, The Man In The Arena: Speeches and Essays by Theodore Roosevelt

You Should Go Where The Readers Are

There are days where I have to actively remind myself to be mindful of the impact of my words and the reality that most people think without speaking.

Don’t take that to mean that I am better or think I am better than others because that is not what I am saying or thinking.

If I am more mindful it is not because I am better but because when you get paid to write and your words serve as currency you pay attention to how they impact people.

That is a big part of why I go through periods of time where I update my Facebook status multiple times, I am testing out my words to see what sort of response they generate.

Today I am more aware of my words because I am in dire need of a vacation and family crap is wearing me out a bit.

It happens when various members of the clan catch this vomiting disease and you do what you can to avoid joining the Ralph Brigade.

Add the normal holiday ridiculousness and stress and you have good blog fodder and material that might make for a good story…just not one that you want to live through right now.

Impactofourwords

You Should Go Where The Readers Are

I stumbled across an old post today and was irritated again by a comment someone made.

It made me feel a bit stupid to realize that it had irked me a second time because it is not that big a deal, it is a simple disagreement.

Most days a simple disagreement doesn’t make me want to punch the person in their smug mouth, but today it did.

Is it because I haven’t had the vacation I want and I am frustrated about having to deal with some family stuff that I shouldn’t?

Yeah, and it is not the Ralph Brigade nor am I going to discuss it in detail here, there are boundaries in blogging and this is not something that is important enough to memorialize.

It is just a momentary irritation and to give it specifics would give it more free rent time in my head so I am acknowledging it and sending it on its way.

If it wasn’t family I’d say not my monkeys, not my circus but this time it is both and so it goes.

Anyhoo, we really should talk about the subhead about going where the readers are because that is a topic that has been discussed in person but not in print lately.

Or at least not here.

Where Are The Readers?

2016 marks my 12th year of blogging and you would think I wouldn’t pose a question like where are the readers but you would be wrong.

It is not so much that I don’t know how to find readers but when you are in a continuous state of transition and a process of evolution you don’t always know exactly what you want to write about.

If I focused solely upon being a dad blogger I could focus upon gathering and promoting the blog to the people that want to read that sort of content.

Or if I wanted to do nothing but focus upon writing fiction the Story blog would provide a home for that.

But the answer is I want to do both of those things and more.

It is part of why I created multiple blogs because I figured it might be useful to have specific areas that I could focus types of content in and upon while using this place as the central hub.

Organization and & Over Extension

The big trick is staying organized and trying to avoid becoming over extended and I don’t know how I well I have managed that.

It really depends on how you define success and that is a whole ball of wax I am not going to get into right now ‘cuz I just don’t have time nor patience for it.

What I can tell you is I spend lots of time reminding my children about the importance of defining goals and building road maps to achieve those so if I don’t define success for this particular venture I might not be able to answer the question.

Yet I can provide myself as a role model for how not to approach some things and a contradiction.

What that means is that even though I may not have a standard answer for success devised, the lack of metrics hasn’t prevented me from having fun.

And having fun is the primary metric I use for success in blogging.

After almost 12 years at this I am still having fun…most of the time.

One Day

There are still moments where I think about my promise to A Whispering Soul and how one day I would walk away from the keyboard and leave my favorite monkey and zoo to ponder why.

Not because I want drama but because when it comes to this particular medium, I don’t know that I will ever truly be done.

Writing and breathing are the same to me.

I wouldn’t want to say it was over until I knew I had taken my last breath.

But I might choose to hit full stop and start over somewhere else, you never know. It might serve me better and I might do better if I was focused only upon one thing.

All things are possible, but some aren’t as likely as others.

That is part of the joy of life and the journey.

I Burned Your Elf On The Shelf

“I’m rolling thunder pouring rain
I’m coming on like a hurricane
My lightning’s flashing across the sky
You’re only young but you’re gonna die
I won’t take no prisoners won’t spare no lives
Nobody’s putting up a fight
I got my bell I’m gonna take you to hell
I’m gonna get ya satan get ya

Hells bells
Hells bells, you got me ringing
Hells bells, my temperature’s high
Hells bells”
Hells Bells- AC/DC

The guy who wrote The Radical Honesty of a Life I Don’t Love Revisited forgot that sometimes you can pull the Joker out of the deck more than once.

That dude figured that after he had spent years dancing in the fire and survived he had come out the other side.

You’d think I would have held my tongue and not called down the thunder, that I would have remembered what my grandfathers said.

“דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט/Der mentsh trakht un got lakht.”Man plans and God laughs.

But clearly even though I referenced it the other day it is clear I didn’t remember then.

Maybe I got lost in the silliness of life and spent too much time writing posts like My Goal Is to Wreck Christmas and Are You The World’s Greatest Dad Blogger Or Content Marketer?

Or maybe it is as simple as saying that one of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of being human is how quickly we forget the hard moments.

I Burned Your Elf On The Shelf

Hate is too strong a word to describe how I feel about the spawn of Satan you place upon your shelves but immense dislike isn’t.

Don’t worry, I feel the same way about the Mensch on the Bench…idiotic toys.

No judgement there, right.

Not going to apologize for that, not during the age of sanctimony when people update their statuses on Facebook to say things like “If you don’t hate Brussels Sprouts and lesbian Chinese Peppers unfriend me now, because you are no friend of mine.”

If you are unsure about whether your old pal Jack the insouciant dad blogger is serious about these things let me clarify it for you.

I would defenestrate your elf of your mensch without a second thought and I find the sanctimonious status updates to be distasteful.

I’m coming On like A Hurricane

Every now and then I have taken part in some wonderful discussions about destiny and free will. We have tackled soul mates, what is besheret and whether life is nothing but a series of odd events and circumstances.

And my answers/feelings about it all haven’t always been the same, not because I am wishy-washy but because as we grow and experience life our perspective changes.

I am not who I was at 18, 25, 33 or 42.

All of the things I have experienced have made me into who I am or is it all that I have done and the choices I have made have made me into who I am…today.

I am an agnostic about some of it and a believer in others, a dreamer who chooses to focus on trying to follow an unmarked trail to a place I can’t see but can picture.

Remember, I am not limited by who or what I am today because I choose to be the conductor of my life.

But there are moments, yeah there are moments where I feel change coming and sometimes I think that drives me to take action sooner than I might have.

Sometimes I think of those moments and see myself coming on like a hurricane and sometimes I remember how instead of channeling that energy the way I could have I let it explode and things went…awry.

Do You Worry About Share Counts?

All around the blogosphere there is an ongoing discussion about what to do about share counts, or more specifically what happened now that Twitter removed them.

There are people who are gnashing their teeth because they believe that social proof validates their writing and their words except they don’t know how many of the 983,893 shares they received led to someone reading their words or taking action because of them.

Not everyone agrees with me, more than a few have told me that share counts are of paramount importance because they help people determine what is worth reading and what is not.

That troubles me.

I like thinking and asking the people around me to think. Share counts strike me as making it easy for people not to think and that is something that happens with too much frequency already.

Makes me think about online reviews and how I am often skeptical about them, not because I am worried that the owner of a restaurant or friends of an author have paid for book reviews but because your taste may not be mine.

Your interests and beliefs in what is important may not be mine.

Maybe this is part of why I sometimes feel like an outsider, I put myself in situations where I don’t run the same direction as the group.

Sometimes that is good and sometimes you’d be better off being a Sneetch with a star than without.

Still doesn’t convince me share counts are really meaningful, there is a lack of important data.

Usewhatyouknow

Bread is singing Make It With You and I am remembering being a kid at family camp in Santa Barbara.

I hear the adults talking about their being tar on the beach and someone asking one of the fathers to throw him a beer.

They are talking about things I find boring and I am wondering if they are going to argue about Nixon and Vietnam or if this conversation will talk about whether Ford will beat Carter.

We talked about some of this in school and some of the kids told stories about their fathers, neighbors or friends fighting in the war.

Some of them were in Vietnam, some in Korea and some in World War II.

Back in the present it strikes me that my walk back into the early and mid seventies will make me sound old to some and young to others.

Somewhere, someone is reading this trying and shaking their head because they think my chronology is off but I am not worried about it.

It doesn’t have to be that specific, these moments happened and the fragments are flooding my head with other parts and pieces, like telling my grandparents that it is 1974 and I am in kindergarten.

It is A Question Of Dignity

In a few minutes I’ll remind my son of the garage sale we had when we still had our house and how I sold the homeless guy an old pair of my shoes.

Every year I bring this up because it is important to me that he hear the story and understand why I sold a man with no house a pair of shoes.

He pulled out his wallet and asked me how much they cost and I told him to give me a dollar.

He did and I gave him the shoes.

This time of year we focus on possessions and forget about the people. That man could buy shoes, but he couldn’t buy dignity and I wasn’t going to rob him of it.

You can take your elves on shelves and share counts and do what you will with them. I am immersed in the mystery and majesty of this moment in time.

Dreaming about love, life and liberty to do more than think, but to take action and do.

I’m coming on like a hurricane.