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Showing posts from December, 2009

A Look Back at 2009

Here is my annual round up of the year. Not sure how it will measure up to the 2008 edition aptly titled: Not Quite a Recap- Let's Talk about Body Parts . But that is part of the joy of blogging, you never really know what can happen. Really, I just sit down and watch my fingers type, they have a mind of their own. If you are a new reader this will serve as a sort of guide, a Phantom Tollbooth through hell or heaven, all depends if you like what you read. ;) Please note that this isn't based upon most popular or most commented on. It is merely a selection of posts that I think provide a little sense of what this place is about. Welcome to the department of redundancy department. January A Special Message To Hamas and Co. True Love Can Last A Lifetime Why My BlackBerry is In The Refrigerator Social Media Can Be Too Social The Slumber Party Kissing We Leave The Toilet Seat Up Instant Messenger My Parents and My Blog The Condom The Private School Dilemma Again A G

Americans Are Terrible At Math

This is more than a little frightening: According to the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Adult Literacy, U.S. adults are terrible at solving real-world math problems, like calculating tips or comparing prices in grocery stores.   Some dismal results: *Only 42 percent were able to pick out two items on a menu, add them, and calculate a tip. *Only 1 in 5 could reliably calculate mortgage interest. *1 in 5 could not calculate weekly salary when told an hourly pay rate. *Only 13 percent were deemed “proficient.”   Worse yet, only 1 in 10 women, 1 in 25 Hispanics and 1 in 50 African Americans made the grade. *Americans are terrified of numbers when it counts most: 20 million Americans pay someone to file their 1040EZ, a one-page tax form with around 10 blanks to fill out. Also, these numbers show up in U.S. student math scores, which are abysmal: *The U.S. ranks 25th among 30 industrialized nations in math scores, down near Serbia and Uruguay. U.S. students though

End Of The Year Round up

I have a bad habit of starting my end of the year round up really late, like right around the end of the year. Really I should be doing this throughout the year. You know, marking posts as being worthy of inclusion, or at least considered. Instead I save it for the end and find myself doing it in a less organized and more herky-jerky type fashion. It is a mistake. Of course if I made millions of dollars from doing this I wouldn't put it off, but since it is a hobby it gets short shrift sometimes. I am working on the round up now and I am less than pleased with it. It doesn't feel right, something is off. It might be that I hate half of the posts that I have written. That too is consistent. Anyway, I will put something together. In the interim if you have any requests or suggestions feel free to include them in the comments.

Nine Years Ago I Became A Father

It is not really appropriate for this post, but I keep playing and replaying This Time by John Legend. First time hearing it and I love it. Or maybe it does, let's see. He was due some time around the second week of January but he showed up on his schedule. I know, I should be able to tell you what his due date was, but I don't remember. Ask his mother, I am sure she'll remember. I remember other things. I remember her waking me up at 1:30 A.M. to tell me that her water broke. I remember calling the hospital and being told to take a shower and then come in. All sorts of other memories are there too, the drive to the hospital and the waiting. Moms don't understand how hard it is for the dads. I know, you're rolling your eyes because you are doing the actual work, but remember for men it is hard. We are not programmed to stand around and do nothing and yet that is all we can do. We can't deliver the baby ourselves, at least most of us can't. Although I

Mistakes & Opportunities

On the eve of a new year it is time to engage in some sharing of Jack's wisdom. It is a practical tool kit of tips and advice garnered over a lifetime of learning. How is that for a boatload of Bullshit. I kind of like it, but why shouldn't I. Bear with me for a moment and I'll tell you what I mean by mistakes and opportunities. Golden Slumbers - The Beatles "Once there was a way to get back homeward Once there was a way to get back home Sleep pretty darling do not cry And I will sing a lullaby" Golden slumbers fill your eyes Smiles awake you when you rise Sleep pretty darling do not cry And I will sing a lullaby" Once there was a way to get back homeward Once there was a way to get back home Sleep pretty darling do not cry And I will sing a lullaby" It has been a brutal year from start to finish. A time of learning and change. A time in which mistakes of the past haunted me. It was a grind and there were more than a few moments in whic

I Seek Balance-

I just wrote a letter that was filled with venom and bile. It was an outstanding letter that eviscerated someone. And had I sent it there is no way that the recipient would have misunderstood me. They would have known that I feel betrayed. They would have known that I am beyond angry, hurt and confused. At least I think that they would have. The person I thought that they were would have known these things. They would have recognized it for what it was. But you can't take the spoken or written word back. And once they escape you haven't any idea what will happen or where they will go. So consider this my moment to catch my breath. I am still hurt. I am still angry and confused. None of this makes sense to me, but then again that describes much of this. Can't be more specific than that, or should I say that I won't. Almost twenty five years ago a dear friend asked me for my advice on when to cut someone off. He wanted to know at what point do you decide that someon

Feeling Sad & Defeated

(originally posted here ) A new entry for Fragments of Fiction "There is no pain you are receding A distant ship's smoke on the horizon. You are only coming through in waves. Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying. When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse Out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone I cannot put my finger on it now The child is grown, The dream is gone. but I have become comfortably numb." Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd "I can't pay my bills. I can't find a job. I can't support my family, can't even support myself," he said. At least I think that is what he said. Slumped against the wall he stared off into space and began mumbling again. "I feel sad and defeated. Whatever I touch crumbles into dust. Relationships, jobs, friends all they do is go away." It wasn't the first time I had heard him speak this way. He was a man who lived and died every day. His ow

Flying The Unfriendly Skies- What Type of Explosive Device & Why

I have flown a lot since 9/11 and I can't remember a flight where I didn't periodically look around at the other passengers and wonder. Very curious to find out what this was about. Could be someone who acting on their own, could be part of a group. Could be a joke, politically motivated or something done by someone who was mentally ill. " (CNN) -- A passenger ignited a small explosive device on a Northwest flight Friday from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, according to a federal government bulletin. The passenger was immediately subdued, according to Susan Elliott, spokeswoman for Delta, Northwest's parent company, Elliott said earlier that the suspect had ignited several small firecrackers. The incident resulted in some minor injuries, she said. A passenger -- identified in the bulletin as a Nigerian national -- was later placed in custody, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement. He is being treated for burns he suffered

Flying The Friendlier Skies

I am happy to read that Boeing   is making an effort to make their planes more comfortable for passengers. Read the whole article and you'll see that they are increasing the size of overhead baggage compartments, working on noise reduction and more. "Boeing wastes no time giving passengers a new experience. As soon as you board the Dreamliner, you're greeted by an open area just inside the door. The ceiling resembles a skylight, complete with blue LED lighting that mimics the sky. "They've designed this kind of lounge area instead of coming in next to a galley," Hamilton says. "It really gives you a welcoming area instead of entering into somebody's kitchen." Of course, it's up to the airlines buying the planes to decide what you see, and some of them way well modify the boarding area and other features of the plane. But even if they muck it up completely, there's still a lot of "wow" in the 787 cabin. The onboard lighti

Women Don't Want Weak Men

This is the follow up post to this one , the latest in the Fragment of Fiction story. Women say that they want men who able to share their emotions. They like the idea of a man who can cry, but that has limits. They want men who emotionally open, but at the same time they don't want weak men. Lord help you if they think you are weak, it is the kiss of death. Or so some people would perceive. Perception may not be the truth, but sometimes it is reality. Relationships are such a funny thing. They can come at you from a million different angles. The great ones are the most unexpected. They come from out of nowhere. The man or woman that turns your life upside down isn't always the one that you expect it to be. In my experience they usually are the last person you expect them to be. I know, that sounds trite and it is. It is a cliche for any number of reasons but it is because it is real. Maybe some of the power is derived from it having been so unexpected, I don't real

A Quick Note

The Jewish kid isn't supposed to be this busy on Erev X-Mas but no one told my family so we're out running around town. I'll try to put up a new post or two later. In the interim there are 7,000 others to check out. Scroll down the side and you'll see a list of recent posts as well as some drop down menus. The drop down menus contain an incomplete list of some of my personal favorites on a variety of topics. See you later.

Recent Posts

I may not have time to update this before tonight. In the interim here is a brief list of some recent posts: Time to Say Goodbye to 2009 All I Want Is You Celebrities Lost in 2009 This Week in Unnecessary Censorship Best of the Decade 140 Characters- Teaching Boys To Be Men Three Tips For Gaining New Readers & Driving Traffic To Your Blog Don't Worry About What You Can't Control Be A Better Blogger- My Favorite Piece of Advice Songs That You Have To Sing Along With 2010 Will Be The Year of Jack   And from the archives: A Little Digestive Distress- Chicken Vindaloo Things That Irritate Me About Bloggers

Time to Say Goodbye to 2009

I want to do a year end roundup of the best posts of 2009 but I am not sure if I am going to get around to it. I am a bit schizophrenic about this in that I have this love/hate thing going on with my writing. I am a competent writer who sometimes produces some excellent content. Sometimes I read a post and a smile breaks across my face because I know that I have created something special that I can be proud of. But it is not uncommon for me to read a post over and cringe. Because some of it is crap, just horrible stuff. I don't know if I am going to get around to doing it. This is one of those moments where being so prolific is problematic. There are more than 1,000 posts to review. Sure some of them are videos, audio posts or recycled material, but they all take time. So I am asking myself how serious do I want to be. Do I want to be thorough about this? Do I want to dig in and find the gold nuggets from every month, or do I want to kind of half-ass my way through it. There

All I Want Is You

This next post is a sequel to this one . Twenty years ago you never would have seen a note like this. I never would have allowed you inside my head or my heart. Twenty years ago you would have screamed at me in frustration and asked why I couldn't tell you what I was thinking, wondered why I wouldn't share my thoughts with you. And then you would have looked at me expecting an answer and received a smile and silence. It would have tested your patience. For a while you would have hung around believing that if you gave me enough time I would learn to trust you enough to let you in. Chances are there would have been a few moments where hints of that which I held back came out. Little glimmers of hope would have made you think that it would happen. But it wouldn't have. Not for lack of effort or desire but because I didn't know how to say those things you wanted to hear. They lay inside locked up in places I had trouble accessing. And truthfully I didn't wa

Celebrities Lost in 2009

2009 was a bad year for me but for many celebrities it was far worse . "Among those who passed: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Natasha Richardson, Bea Arthur, Dom DeLuise, Karl Malden, David Carradine, Patrick Swayze, John Hughes, Ed McMahon, Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt. Authors John Updike, Frank McCourt and Dominick Dunne died, as did blues legend Koko Taylor, Ventures guitarist Bob Bogle, Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary, guitar innovator Les Paul and Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein. In sports, NFL players Steve McNair and Chris Henry died as did veteran basketball coach Chuck Daly.The politcal world mourned the loss of Sen. Edward Kennedy, and former U.S. Housing Secretary Jack Kemp. Even celebrity pitch personalities weren't immune as 2009 also saw the passing of Oxiclean pitchman Billy Mays and Gidget, the chihuahua best known for hawking Taco Bell."

140 Characters- Teaching Boys To Be Men

( Hey Jeff Pulver , if you are ever in need of a character at a 140 Conference I can convert this post into a short presentation. Just saying. ) It is after midnight and the room is dark.  I am wearing an old headset, a sweatshirt and the shiny shorts that shone for the Shmata Queen. Don't ask, it just kind of worked. I am listening to Desperado and imagining that the song was written about me. Hmm..., maybe I should be listening to Carly Simon sing You're So Vain. Anyway, the song catches my eye and my ears because of the combination of lyrics and music. "Now it seems to me, some fine things Have been laid upon your table. But you only want the ones That you can't get." It makes a lot of sense, the idea of being happy with what you have. It is not always easy to do and not because of social or cultural messages. Sure those things have an impact upon our thoughts so it would be foolish not to acknowledge them. But what I think is a bigger issue is the

Three Tips For Gaining New Readers & Driving Traffic To Your Blog

Here are three tips that you can use to make an immediate impact upon your blog and gain new readers. Write lists that provide tips/strategies for gaining new readers/traffic to your blog. Write a best of list, preferably in a category. For example Best News Blog, Best Mommy blog etc. Run giveaways- As in give stuff away for free.  A couple of quick comments. I am very cynical about best of lists. Too tired to explain all the reasons why or debate about what metrics should be used to determine who/what really is the best. But what I can tell you is that they can be a very effective way of making an immediate impact upon traffic to your blog. Here is what you do: Create a catchy title for your list or award and a cool blog badge to go with it. Email bloggers to let them know that they are on the list and request that they help publicize it. As long as your list isn't titled "Biggest Douchebags of the Blogosphere" or "Most likely to be arrested for Ped

Don't Worry About What You Can't Control

About 38 minutes ago I heard my grandfather calling my name. In theory that sounds innocuous, grandpa was a night owl and so am I. But the thing is, he is gone. Grandpa passed away, he died, he left this place 3.5 years ago. And yet I heard him calling my name. It came from somewhere in the dark recesses of the house or perhaps my mind. I suppose that he heard me talking about him last night. Last night I smoked a cigar. I smoked a cigar and drank some scotch. I smoke a cigar, drank some scotch and talked about women. I smoked a cigar, drank some scotch and talked about women while sitting outside. It was on the balcony of my friend's condo. He is single, my friend. Never been married, childless and happy about both conditions. We sat outside and caught up on life. As we talked he handed me the cigar and a lighter.I said no thanks and he suggested that I reconsider. So I smelled that cigar and it took me back decades. I smelled grandpa and for the first time in 11 years I s

Be A Better Blogger- My Favorite Piece of Advice

Have I mentioned that you need to prepare for 2010- The Year of Jack? Just in case I haven't let repeat myself and tell you that in a few weeks you can celebrate 2010- The Year of Jack. That isn't authentic frontier gibberish but it is authentic. And that my friends is my favorite piece of advice for bloggers, be authentic. Write in your own voice and tell stories the way that you would normally tell them. Blogging is a different sort of animal. It doesn't have the same sort of rules and restrictions that we we were taught in school. Be yourself and write as you would speak and you will find that people are attracted to you because you are real, you are authentic. Take a chance and share a piece of yourself with your readers. Step out from behind the curtain and tell an embarrassing story or two. Share your favorite recipe, talk about what you love, what you hate, what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. Reveal and release. It is not always easy to do. But it f

Songs That You Have To Sing Along With

It is no secret that I love music. Every couple of weeks I write another post in which I refer to song lyrics or list the last dozen songs that graced my stereo. Music is passion. Music is feeling. Music is emotion. Music touches you in places that are hard to reach. Music is a snapshot in time. Turn on certain songs and the memory parade makes an immediate appearance. It is a universal experience. One of the most popular posts I have written is: What Are Your Favorite Song Lyrics? Not a day goes by in which it doesn't receive traffic. Music has that kind of power and influence. To me it is not a surprise that there are some songs that you just have to sing along with. Initially when I was writing this post I thought that I would share five or six songs with you and that these would represent the songs that I have to sing along with. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I cannot limit it to so few. There are too many good songs that catch my ear and hold me

A Short Recap of Recent Posts

Jammed for time and hoping to produce some new content. In the interim take a look at these posts from the past week. Friday Morning Music Horror Movies- No Sound Equals No Fear My Love/Hate Relationship With Technology How Do You Become a Father Jericho Pieces of My Heart & Mind- Collection of Fiction Where Were You When The Death Star Blew Up Extreme diets: Life on 800 calories a day Are men smarter than women? Gender Issues They Call Me Dad A Few Things You Might Not Know Just Out Of Reach It Burns

Friday Morning Music

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place  - The Animals Backstreets  - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Houses Of The Holy  - Led Zeppelin Kite  - U2 Everybody Wants To Rule The World  - Tears For Fears Don't Make Me Wait Too Long  - Barry White Atomic Dog  - George Clinton Annie's Song   - John Denver All I Want is You-   U2 History Repeating  - Propellerheads & Miss Shirley Bassey FanFare for The Common Man  - Aaron Copland

Horror Movies- No Sound Equals No Fear

Typically I am ambivalent about watching horror movies. I don’t find them all that exciting or interesting. Oftentimes the acting is poor and many rely upon blood, guts and gore to make them fly. I can take them or leave them. Truth be told the only time I really remember paying attention to them was during my single years. I found them to be a useful tool as they did a good job of encouraging handholding and the like. There, that is my big confession of the evening. Here is one more.  Silence of the Lambs  did wonders for my dating life, I'll save the full story for a different night. And now on to the meat of the post. If you are the kind of person who watches horror movies from between the fingers you use to cover your eyes you might want to consider turning off the sound. Ok, turning off the sound would make it awfully dull, but it would work. There is something else that can be done. Get rid of the soundtrack. Strip it from the movie and leave the dialogue. Ok, I do

How Do You Become a Father

How do you become a father? It sounds like a ridiculous question. Way back in prehistoric times when Jack was a wee lad the question was asked by the older brother of a friend. He answered with a cackle, "stick it in and bounce up and down." I think I was about seven or eight. Can't say that I remember for certain. But I know that I didn't have a clue what to stick where or how you were supposed to bounce while doing that. I didn't ask either. Funny to think of it, but by then I already knew that sometimes you nodded your head and pretended that you understood whatever was being discussed. Flash forward a few decades. I am 30 years old and in the process of trying to get the wife pregnant. For years this has been verboten. Much effort has been expended in trying to practice the bouncing up and down and a few prayers have been uttered in the hope that the miracle of life doesn't happen this time. It is a strange feeling, this trying to get pregnant thing.

Jericho

Originally run here . I met Jericho in a time and place that no longer exist. The people we were are long since gone. Now they drift through time and space in a place that I call memory or perhaps it is just my imagination. If you ask Jericho she'd probably push for imagination. She'd want to say that what I remember has been obscured by my own desire for the future. She'd tell you that it was never as good as I remember it. But if you took her aside and caught her in one of those moments she'd admit that it was exactly the way I remember. She'd admit that as the queen of low expectations it is easier to think of things that way. She'd tell you that to really remember is too painful, too tragic. So old Jericho set up those walls, long and tall, deep and wide. She lies in wait behind those walls waiting for the future to come. She lies behind those walls and watches the days pass in front of her. There are some really happy times, some good moments that mak

Pieces of My Heart & Mind- Collection of Fiction

Here are most if not all of the Fragments of Fiction entries. It may not be in order, but in theory this contains most of the entries Johnny Speaks To June Whether The Storm or Weather The Storm Notes For June- Fragments of Fiction More about Johnny June Johnny and June- A Rough Draft Some Notes for Fragments of Fiction May 2008 Welcome To The Insomniac's Theater- Trying To Connect The Dots Rediscovering What Was Lost- Two Kinds of Pain Revisited How I Deal With Pain The Movies It Made Me Spit Blood The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants Welcome To The Insomniac's Theater Letting Love Go The Day After The Day Joy Left My Life Married To the Wrong Woman Married To the Wrong Woman Part II Jimmy Cox- First try Alone In The Dark Alone In The Dark Part II Sometimes the hardest part of life is just living Fragments of Fiction Blog In The Weeds Johnny's Frustration Johnny's Frustration Continued Bad things Come in Threes He Put a Gun To M