When Blogs Go Bad

Sometimes blogs go bad and we the humans that run them find ourselves scratching our heads and or kicking and screaming because technology refuses to act as we think it should.

That’s what happened here.

Can’t tell you if the problem started last night or if it was today because way too much has happened.

What I know is that when I updated this joint to the latest edition of WP it gave me the finger and tried to kick my ass.

I don’t take kindly to that sort of treatment from people and even less so from machines.


I raged against the machine but tried to be smart about it.

Tried to stay calm and follow the same advice I give my children about effective problem solving and perseverance.

If you are reading this then I suppose I ought to present this as proof of my success in both resolving the issue and in doing so in a semi-timely manner.

But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tested or frustrated by this blog choosing to go bad.

I am supposed to the rogue. I am supposed to be the maverick.

Not the bleeping blog.

But sometimes things happens.

Sometimes life happens.

Roll With The Tide

I have to remind myself to roll with the tide and to use the power of the waves to push me forward.

Doesn’t make any sense to fight against such a mighty force as the sea because given time it will always win and it always has more time than we do.

Given that the Traveling Jack show is about to roll out another tour it is even more reason to work hard to not fight the elements.

The smart man lets the wind power his sails and saves his arms for when the seas are calm and he truly must row.

Got to be the smart man now, got to save my strength for when I really need it.

So much good stuff going on now, so many amazing things about to happen. Sometimes we fail to recognize how the ordinary can turn into the extraordinary overnight.


Life is going to be very busy the next few weeks so I am not sure how much time I’ll find to be around here.

The goal is always to update daily but there may be some moments where I just can’t get it done.

If you are a new reader the good news is there are almost 10,000 posts floating around here so there is plenty of material to read.

You can find some of it on the About Jack page or alternatively you can point and click your way through some of the links below:

Words Are The Death Of A Blogger
An Uncertain Certainty
Four Generations & A Wedding
The Best Thing My Father Ever Said To Me
1 Foolproof Way To Become a Better Writer
The Story Of A House- The Final Days
He Died A Hero
Twenty-Five Links That Will Make You A Better Writer/Blogger
Of Dads and Daughters
The Greatest Dad Blogger You Never Heard Of
Mean Girls Come From Mean Moms
Two Things That Are Killing Twitter
Reciprocity In Blogging
Save The Last Dance For Me- 75 Years of Marriage

See you soon,


Are You An Illiterate Brand Whore?

A short tour of the parent blogosphere today provided a fresh reminder about how many illiterate brand whores are masquerading as bloggers.

Can’t tell you how many times I came across advertising that was camouflaged as a blog post or all of the times I wondered if the brands spent any time reading the posts they paid for.

It warms my tiny black heart and angry black soul to see the sort of drek people slap upon their pages.

Really, it is good to know that fortune can smile upon you and provide you with products and trips even though you haven’t a clue how to tell a story that includes a beginning, middle or end.

Jack’s A Cranky Jerk

Some of you will label me a cranky jerk and provide a litany of reasons why people shouldn’t take me seriously.

You’ll say I am jealous or suggest I should keep my mouth shut because my prose isn’t perfect and wave your fingers back at me.

That is cool with me because I am not here to get your approval any more than you need to get mine.

I have spent the last 12 years blogging because I love to write and because this world had been one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.

Bloggers come and go and very few last unless they have fun doing this and that includes the people that are going on all of the trips and getting all of the swag.


Why Do I Comment/Complain?

I love writing and I believe it deserves respect. I believe it is a skill and that it is possible for all of us to improve.

I get cranky when bloggers devalue writing and our work by throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks and by working for free.

I believe a rising tide raises all ships and that Illiterate Brand Whores are dropping bombs through the middle of our ranks.

It is hard enough to make a buck this way and to make things work without those hacks blindly lumbering around.

Show some respect for yourself and for others and take a moment to proof your work. Get to know your spellchecker and take some time to ask if your stories have a beginning, middle and an end.


Do with this what you will.

Call me a crank, a saint or something in between.

I am the guy who bleeds at the keyboard or whatever the hell it was Hemingway said.

You may not ever find perfection here but you will find passion and a desire to do better every time.

My words mean something to me even when they suck.

There are many fine writers in the parent blogosphere. Many men and women whose command of the language makes me strive to do more and become better.

I just wish the brand whores didn’t get as much attention as they do. It is a real shame that and a disservice to those who deserve better.

End of rant.

Sometimes Plugins Destroy Your Posts

Don’t mind the clinking and clanking or the dust because it is just a sign of men working.

The 17 of us who occupy this one body are trying to figure out what plugin has decided to stop working because the blog mutiny hasn’t been put down yet.

It is disappointing to find out that our authority is being disrespected and that some of the finest posts located anywhere in the blogosphere aren’t displayed as we wish them to be.

That because posts like Love Between The Lines have pictures or quotes that add depth to the story but the images aren’t showing.

It is a disruption in the force that I cannot ignore.

These words and the posts they live on and in mean something to me.

Some more than others, enough that I can’t rest.

Yet I have other things I must attend to.

What The Cynic Says

The cynic that lives inside my head says it doesn’t matter because so many people skim through posts or use a reader that doesn’t allow the page to render as I wish.

He says it wouldn’t matter if people could hear the clang clang clang of the trolley or the siren song because they would be distracted by the chaos and clutter that surrounds us.

That dude says you wouldn’t notice if a gorilla danced through the room because you’d be too busy updating Facebook, pinning and tweeting so it doesn’t matter.

But there is another part of me that says it is time to ice the bad attitude and ask what happens if a couple of people read the posts on the blog.

Don’t they deserve the best experience I can provide?

And what about the new readers that stumble into this joint for the first time?

Those guys don’t know a thing about me and if they come here during the plugin mutiny what they’ll find are some giant spaces in between paragraphs.

Without pictures it will be vast white spots like they stumbled onto some arctic wasteland.

I took one giant step today towards the future I have been dreaming of.

Did my best to walk with authority and to look like I had been there before and if I am not mistaken my efforts will be rewarded.

It is too soon to say for certain and given a certain amount of paranoia I am not willing to say much more about it for fear of jinxing things.

What I will share is I was more than disappointed with the reception I received at home.

I shared what happened and there was no excitement from any quarter, no well wishes or “thank you for working your ass off to make life better for us.”

Just sullen attitudes and questions about whether I had thought about what I am doing.

I didn’t tear doors off of the hinges or blow the roof off of the joint but I wanted to. I wanted to unload a roar the would make a lion cringe and scream with frustration.

But I thought about the Game Called Fear and asked myself if this was where some of the pushback was coming from.

And so I decided it might be best to keep my thoughts to myself and give the fine folks around me some time to think about the things I had shared.

Won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed but it took some of the edge off of things.

How To Do The Right Thing

Sometimes the answer to the question about how to do the right thing isn’t based upon black and white choices of wrong and right.

Sometimes it is a cloudy pool and the only thing you can do is stare into the murky depths and decide to take a chance.

The blog is slightly broken and the mutiny continues.

I have a couple of ideas for how to fix it but none are particularly satisfying.

Can’t say if it is because during an age of instant gratification I am frustrated at having to work or I am exhausted by other things.

I just know that I’ll keep picking and poking and hoping that the combination in conjunction with my natural tenacity is enough to see me through to the other side.

Your Parent Blog Is My Cure For Insomnia

Morning has broken and I am exhausted.

That is because I just fought off the Canadian 993rd Polar Bear Army and the seven Englishmen who were offended because I disagreed with their opinions.

Told the Angry Canucks that I love our little brother to the North and think the Monopoly money they call currency is cute.

Most of them were too polite to say I offended them but that didn’t stop an angry Habs fan from throwing a handful of Looneys and Tooneys at me for saying PK is overrated.

Last but not least let’s not forget the Man U fan who didn’t think it was funny when I asked him to speak American.

He ranted for a moment damn near lost it when I told him William Wallis should have won the war and burned the nation to the ground.

Guy tried to accuse me of promoting genocide but I eviscerated his remarks with a few comments ab0ut the empire and then for good measure made fun of his football team.

In theory that elevated my troll rating to somewhere above hated but below despised.

I’ll let you decide whether a man who shares the story about a thief who breaks into a home and cooks a pork roast in a Kosher kitchen should be taken seriously.

Or maybe I should say I’ll let you decide how seriously he should be taken because someone who speaks in third person and uses the ‘Royal’ We to describe parent blogs as a cure for insomnia might have some issues.

Then again maybe issues isn’t the right word, maybe problem is a better descriptor.

Because my problem is that I find a ton of your blogs to be devoid of humor, emotion and substance.

Maybe it is because some of you are so desperately trying to be noticed by brands and other blogs you tear the soul out of your writing and publish sterile nonsense that won’t hurt or offend.

You publish posts about the great product you got for free and limit or avoid real criticism.

Not every product is amazing or great.

Some of them suck or have things that suck.

I don’t care if you write sponsored posts provided you are authentic in your writing.

If it is great there is nothing wrong with saying that but then again there is nothing wrong with saying that it needs some work.

Constructive criticism is a good thing. If I read your review I want to know what you think and not feel like you were nice because you hope to get more crap.

Tell me you love the life size teddy bear costume but that because of how it is made you crapped down the side of it in the outhouse at the fair.

Show me the raw and authentic side of your life and I’ll nod my head and cheer you on. I’ll tell you that being the father of teens and preteens is really freaking hard.

I’ll say The End Of Goodnight Kisses was hard and that I wasn’t completely ready for it.

I’ll tell you that the kids have figured out that I don’t have all the answers and come up with really good questions.

Heck, there is a lot I’d like to say and share assuming that people are listening and or reading.

Thing is I am not sure how much of that is really happening any more.

Engagement & Noise

I won’t bore you with a long rant about engagement levels have changed since I began this gig.

Won’t spend a lot of time talking about what was and or offering hypotheses about content shock and or whether people are just tired in general.

I’ll just say that my traffic numbers are down a bit but not so much that I expect engagement to have plummeted the way it has.

And I’ll say the first thing I do is ask myself if my content is simply boring the readers.

Some of that is to be expected but I also know from conversations with others that similar things are going on across the blogosphere.

And I know that as I mentioned I simply stopped showing up at some blogs because the real and authentic content I like is non existent.

You don’t have to write for me, especially when I say that I write first for me and then for you.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention why some places see me less and less.

It is just not that interesting anymore so I am looking for new places and spaces.

I figure people do the same with their evaluation of this joint.

Don’t mistake this for my desire to go back in time because I am not trying to turn back the clock, but it would be nice to see a new beginning where the content and conversation were more interesting.

I don’t know, maybe it is just me.

Got to run now, the Polar Bear army is back at the base of my castle.

Dad Is Still In Charge

Sometimes the words flow freely and you know that whomever reads your posts is likely to understand, follow and appreciate the things you say.

And sometimes you are not sure because you can’t figure out if your muse quit, is out on disability or an extended vacation.

But you did your pen into the inkwell and scratch something on the page and remember that blogging is a funny business and you never know what will be of interest so you ought to just write.

Better to go down swinging than to watch the pitches sail across the plate or if you prefer, you miss every shot you don’t take.

Dad Is Still In Charge

Steiner the minor is in the middle of being a teenager and he seems to do an admirable job of making me feel proud, crazy and confused, sometimes all within the same 15 minute span.

I look at this boy who is quickly approaching my height, a voice that is deep enough to sometimes fool people into thinking they are talking to me and everything else that puberty brings.

We stand there in the middle of his room and he wants to know how I instantly spot every piece of trash and dirty clothing on the floor.

Wants to know how I can tell him “I pay the bills and he’ll follow my rules” when grandpa told him I used to go nuts when he said that to me.

“Dad is still in charge. You may be feeling your oats, may be thinking you are ready to take care of yourself but you’re not there yet. Sure, if you had to do it, you’d figure it out. You’d survive but I am helping you figure out how to do better than just survive.”

He glares at me and the conversation moves to the day his mother’s purse was stolen at Target. He wants to revisit it.

I indulge him because I am curious where he wants to take it. I remember it as a moment in time in which his innocence was stolen,

The little boy he used to be wanted to know why I didn’t kill the thief or at least beat him up. The teenager says he understands why I wouldn’t go that far but still wonders why I didn’t force the issue.

I look at him and ask him if this discussion would be more interesting if we pretended we were druids and celebrated the Summer Solstice but that earns a head shake and a look.


I take a deep breath and remind myself that he truly isn’t as difficult as I was, at least not yet.

Don’t mistake that for me asking for the challenge because even though I don’t back down from them there are many that I don’t need to take on.

Call it the beauty of age and maturity, I have a perfect record of surviving every bad day and I want to keep it that way.

Still, his not having managed to scale the heights of parenting madness haven’t made life that much easier because other things have taken their place.

Most of them are still classified as things that I successfully managed or am in the process of doing but there have been times where it all felt more taxing than necessary.

It is another time when I appreciate reading things like Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control Part 2 because they help offer perspective.

Now is better than before and if I keep my head there is no doubt we’ll Charon will ferry us back across and if not, well I’ll be dad the superhero and kick his ass.

But in the interim, it is time to keep trying to guide and direct these beautiful wild beasts who call me dad.

Time for me to be Max, King of the Wild Things.

Flashes of Memory Intermixed With Future Images

I appreciate the questions and understand why they challenge me. I tell them they are entitled to challenge authority but explain they need to have good questions, purpose and intent.

And I caution them, remind them that good intentions can still go bad.

The days when I would walk in and they would drop everything to come hug daddy grow more distant and though I miss them, I know it is part of growing up.

Steiner the minor is particularly prickly about hugs, he doesn’t want them from anyone. Part of me is concerned because we have always been an affectionate family and it makes me wonder if everything is ok.

My dad assures me I went through a similar phase.


The dark haired beauty is pleased to be different from her brother. She intentionally forgets that for a long while she was his biggest fan and he her biggest hero.

They go through moments where they act like best friends and then they scream at each other. Sibling love.

For Father’s Day she made a card for me that explicitly detailed and listed her as forever my little girl.

Sat on my lap, hugged me and told me multiple times, “I love you daddy.”

Most of that was totally legit, it was only towards evening that she asked if she could go to the mall with her friend.


My little girl isn’t quite 12 and is over five feet tall. She is not the tallest in her class or of her friends but she is not the shortest either.

When she stands next to her brother I look at them and remember little people who ran us ragged.

Little people who would grow faster than I could believe or so their grandparents said.

And then as fast as I could see baby faces and chubby legs they morphed into big kids and I almost felt like I could see the people they’d grow to be.

Dad is still in charge, but only for a little while longer.