Of Bounce Houses and Ballpits...

On my way into work the other day I noticed that one of my neighbors has a Christmas bounce house in their front yard. I have to admit a part of me wants to stick it with a pin.

I know, kinda Scroogish, eh? Grinchish if you prefer even. At least that's what folks on Facebook & Twitter said when I asked about it.

Really though, there is a reason I have issues with bounce houses, and ball pits, trampolines, and even Christmas & New Years. (What? I had to stick to all inanimate objects?) It's pretty simple really.

I think they're all over-hyped things that end up, (with few exceptions) being HUGE disappointments. Dreams unrequited. Bitter tear-stained lists never completed. Injury upon injury. Crushing blow upon crushing blow...

Okay, maybe that's a little too dramatic. Let's break this down...

The first time I went into a bounce house I got stuck in a corner, couldn't get out and eventually had to actually be rescued feet first. The second time - an overcrowded mess. Nobody could jump.

But the third time... I had the bounce house all to myself. I could bounce to my heart's content. It was mine, all mine. Mwahahahahahaha!

Wait a minute:

Who wants to go in a bounce house alone?


Pretty similar experience with the ballpit. Only if you dive head first into the ballpit, and it's not really "full" enough as it were... Did you know that you could hit your head and maybe cause permanent brain damage?!!???!! Okay, maybe not permanent. (Would explain a lot though, eh? ;-)

Trampolines? Well, I ask you - How could anyone who has seen the movie Big ever think any ordinary trampoline could ever be worth their while?!? (And, oh by the way, why can't I find that scene on YouTube?) If you don't know the scene I'm talking about - go out and rent the movie.


You still here?

Moving on - Christmas? New Years? No, no. I don't have any detailed lists or stories. I've talked before about my issues with Christmas and New Years, and I think it's pretty clear that while I do have issues with certain areas of these two holidays, I also have come to terms with finding my own way to deal with them.


Here's what I'm getting at.

If my 40th year was my year of inventory, then my 41st year has been my year of recognition. And the thing I've recognized the most is this:

Life is what you make of it.

You may have noticed I've been away from the blog and only found intermittently in the usual spots online in the past month or so. There's a few reasons for that, a few I'd rather not discuss, and a few I'm sure I'll discuss in the coming year. We're just gonna leave it at that for now.

As I review 2009, I'm recognizing that my life is a bit cyclical. Parts of that cycle are good. Parts of that cycle need to be changed. I need to make more of an effort to do that. So, that's where I'm going from here.

I need to find a way to adjust, to accept, to enjoy the bounce house and the ballpit, very much like I've come to terms with Christmas and New Years, and I cannot do it alone.

Wanna come with me?

What are you up to Jimmer?

Last week, very late Wednesday night I did something I have never done before. I asked specific people to go comment on my blog. Today, I want to thank everyone and explain my thought process a little bit.

Last Monday, I met with my friend Nate Riggs to talk about his affiliation with TeamBuilder Search. I am considering different career directions and I was intrigued by the possibilities there might be for me to work with Nate as part of his new endeavor. I also really wanted to talk to Nate because I think he's super smart, and has great ideas about taking advantage of our individual strengths.

During our discussion Nate and I started talking about Internet presence and I mentioned that I posted my girls' blogs to my network and community whenever they wrote something new. Nate gave me big props for that (Thanks, Nate!), and then an idea was born. (Thank you Nate for that too!)

I'm beginning work on building a base of information, outlines, something like that to use to present as a curriculum of sorts for kids' responsible use of the social web in particular. As this evolves I hope to find a way to share this information with kids and help them safely find their way through the maze of tools available. I love kids. I love to coach. I love to use social media. Why not coach kids in the best, and more importantly, the safest ways to use social media? Right?

On Monday, I put up a post talking about this new idea, and the feedback both public and private (from parents who didn't want to embarrass their kids or post too much about them in a public forum), was nothing but positive.

As the next step, I thought it would be a good idea to share this project with my family. I asked Netter and the girls to work on guest posts to talk about their thoughts on the subject. The girls are still working on their posts, but Netter finished hers, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. It was a perfect piece to kick off my project. Much better than anything I could have written, and exactly where I wanted to start things. I couldn't help but think: "More people have got to read this. This is really an important topic. I need to start a little buzz."

So, as Chris Brogan might say, I decided to spend a little social media capital and ask some folks to take a look. Thank you to everyone who took the time.

Now just to clear up a few questions folks may have:
  • No, if this had been my post about my project I would not have done this.
  • No, my blog will not become all about this one topic. There will still be plenty of stories about families, and IGs, and all the other things my brain rambles around all the time.
  • No, I did not just ask the heavy hitters / rock stars of the Social Media community to take a look. I didn't even ask them all. I asked folks that I had interacted with in the last week or two using the tools I am discussing, and Netter was addressing.
  • No, I will not be soliciting comments for every post on this topic. I put it out there and let folks know what I am talking about here from time to time. If they are interested, I trust that they'll come back. If they're not, that's okay too. I'm not really good at blowing my own horn so I don't anticipate I'll be beating my chest here or anywhere else anytime soon.
  • Yes, I like the word "folks."
  • Yes, I think you should check out Nate Riggs' work and follow his blog.
  • Yes, I think NetterB is an awesome writer who should write more often.
  • Yes, I am grateful I have such a great network and community of friends.
You're all rock stars! Thanks for stopping by.

Right Tool for the Job - A Guest Post from NetterB

Netter graciously shares her thoughts on Internet Responsibility with us today as a part of my new project. Give her a visit sometime at Practically Netter. In the interim we're lucky to have her here today.

Welcome Honey!

How many dangers do our kids face each day? The world is constantly evolving and is pretty scary when you think about it.

For example, something as simple as a paring knife can be used as a weapon or a tool – it all depends. A knife is sharp and has the potential to harm. It depends on the intent on how it is used. It could be used for bad purposes - to deface something or to harm someone. But it also depends on training. As parents, we train our kids in knife skills so they don’t cut themselves.

The same can be said for the internet and social media. It is a powerful tool, but danger lurks everywhere online. Any online interaction with the wrong intent poses a threat to our kids. Training and parental supervision are of the utmost importance.

My kids are digital natives. They are comfortable in this electronic world. They’ve grown up in the midst of it, using computers is second-nature and their cell phones have almost become another appendage.

I, on the other hand, am not a native. I’ll admit it, electronic gadgets and gizmos can be frustrating, confusing and intimidating. But I’d like to think I have become a digital immigrant. Some people may choose not to actively participate in online communities, but I feel as a parent of teenage daughters, it isn’t a choice for me. I am active in various social media communities and keep a close eye on what my girls are up to.

There are some who would say to just not let your children have access to the internet, or limit it through filters. Sort of like not letting them use a paring knife because they might cut themselves. I think this is unreasonable and more of a disservice to the youngsters. It’s more important to teach them the right and wrong than to try to shield them from it completely.

We can’t protect our kids from the dangers they will encounter in the world, online or virtual. We can only try to give them the tools they’ll need to be successful and prepare them for what they might face to help them make good decisions and choices.

Internet Responsibility - A new project ?

I have a few inspirations for today's post. A conversation I had this morning with my friend Nate Riggs who also posted on the subject earlier this year. An article in Today's Detroit Free Press, and last but not least a note I got from a friend via Facebook last week.

So, Jim, how does one block one's child from Facebook? If I go in and change her password, will that take care of it? Or could she request the password and they will send her the new one on her email? I'll keep looking at the FB site....

Short story, My daughter was going to send a letter to a someone she met through Facebook somehow. Gosh the address of the person was a P.O. Box. What a shocker. And should we alert police that this might be a potential stalker/creeper? Or am I overreacting?

I really want to strangle my daughter.

Okay, obviously my friend is not going to strangle her daughter, but this does raise a very real, and ongoing question about Internet safety, particularly for our children.

So what's the answer? Well, the simple answer is to turn everything off right? If we ignore it, the problem goes away...

Or does it?

Personally, I don't think the Internet is going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, I think the Internet is going to continue to become more and more a part of our daily lives, particularly with the continued growth of the social web.

So, what are some other answers?

I think the answer is to involve our children in the Internet, direct their involvement, or as Nate put it this morning - channel that water that is already running downhill.

Rather than elaborate right now though, I'd like to ask for your input. What do you think the answer is? How would you solve my friend's problem with her daughter?

A bigger question to tackle in the process of course is how do we direct our child's involvement in the social web? Do you think there should be rules? What do you think those rules should be?

As the discussion continues, I hope to post more about this by talking about the various tools that are available, and how our kids can make the best use of them.

But as we kick this off, I'm giving my readers the floor. I'm really interested in your input here. What say you?

Ever Wonder?

This is my second post in a row that wasn't what I had planned on writing about. Today, I had planned to share recipes and stories about the food that Netter has been talking about in her updates to folks letting them know how her recovery has been going. I'm going to put that one off for now and talk about something that happened last night.

The world lost a great champion when Stefanie Spielman passed away yesterday. As often happens when such things occur, I became consumed in the task of finding more and more information about Stefanie. I've always been a big Chris Spielman fan so I knew about Stefanie's fight against breast cancer, but I didn't know all the details, all the stories behind the stories that I found in my research last night. One quote keeps coming back to me today.

In the diary she kept during her first bout with cancer in 1998 Stefanie wrote:

"I do not feel sorry for myself. I do not wish this would have happened to anyone else, I pray I grow stronger with each passing day."

I cannot imagine a greater faith, a greater courage, a greater moment of selflessness. Really, that's what Stefanie's life was about.

God took her anyway.

I'm not afraid to say that I looked up last night and said: "Why?"

I know, nobody can explain why bad things happen to good people. Nobody can explain a lot about what happens in this world, and really a lot of it doesn't make any sense at all.

Ever wonder who makes these rules?

Yeah, me too.

RAGE - Whatever... Shut up Jimmer

A week ago today my lovely wife had outpatient surgery to repair an incisional hernia. She scheduled the surgery ahead of time. Her doctor told her she would be up and about, ready to return to work in 5-7 days. Netter went back to work yesterday. Her recovery is going well. She has an appointment with her doc for a follow-up exam tomorrow afternoon. It seems rather routine from a rational perspective, but the last week has been anything but routine, and in many ways I have been anything but rational.

I have to be honest here and share that today's post was on its way to being a rant about all the things that I think are wrong about Hospitals, and Doctors, and Nurses, and outpatient surgery, and projected recovery times, and boy I was ready to just let loose...

And then - My pocket (Blackberry) buzzed. I had a message. I had received an email update about our friend Harrison.

Suddenly I felt very small. Suddenly all the things that seemed like a big deal to me, just weren't anymore.

Harrison is one of the kids Netter took care of when she did daycare. He is D's age. He's a great kid, and he has Leukemia. You can read about him here.

Yeah, my wife had surgery. At most, her recovery will take about six weeks. For the most part - our lives will return to normal.

Harrison has been battling Leukemia for the last year. He has been in and out of the hospital. He has had a stroke. He has endured spinal taps, and treatments that have made him physically ill. He is in the hospital right now with an ear infection. The hope is that he'll be able to go home tomorrow.

All of what I think my family and I are going through, all the trials and tribulations that are really just inconveniences all seem rather trivial.

In the past week I've had moments where I just felt this rage welling up inside of me, and now I just feel well, silly. Beyond the things that are necessary for my wife to feel better, to heal, to not have to push that hernia back into her belly, the rest just seems superfluous.

So, I'll spare you the details of our (really just) different week. I'll set aside my rant. I'll take the perspective gained from a buzzing pocket, and be happy with what I've got. A wife on the mend, and a happy healthy family.

For that, I am grateful.

Wherever you are, whatever you do please do me a favor and throw up a prayer, or a thought, or a wish, whatever you got for our friend Harrison.

He's good people.

How Are You?

Have you ever considered this phrase? Or maybe you say "What's up? or How's it going? What's going on? Any one will do. Here's the question I have today. When you ask this question, do you really care?

I once asked a friend how he was. His reply: "Do you care, or are you just asking to be polite?"

It was a fair question at the time, we weren't really close friends, didn't see each other very often, just passing by from time to time. In such an instance this question could reasonably evoke such a response.

How do you answer this question when you're asked? Do you ever catch yourself answering the wrong question? Someone asks you "what's going on," and you respond "fine." Or they say "how are you?" and you respond "nothing."

This has been rattling around in my head for awhile. I've posted before about being a better listener. I think really hearing folks when they respond or ask this question is a great first step.

What do you think?

Where I Learn Things - (from) Erica

We all have people who make a difference in our lives. Spouses, coaches, mentors, friends, family members. They can be anybody really. Sometimes they can even be folks who are a lot younger than us... Really, anybody can teach us anything if we let them.

Today, I want to share one of my mentors with you. Why? Well, she is leaving our library division this week. It's not because she wants to go. There's a budget crunch. We need librarians at other locations. She is, in terms of service time - the "low person on the totem pole."

My friends I will miss Erica.

The upside is that Erica is headed to my "home branch," the Hilltop Library. I started there almost 24 years ago, made a pit stop or two at other locations and returned (home) in the mid nineties for a few years before coming to Main Library in 1998. They have a great group of people on their staff. I am friends and play hockey with the branch manager. The assistant manager is a good friend. Their Circulation manager was in my wedding, and is in fact another mentor in my life. Many of the staff members I was fortunate enough to work with are still at the branch. I know they'll take good care of Erica. She'll fit right in. It will all be fine.

The downside of course is that we are losing Erica here in our division.

I am devastated. I've been walking around all week in a state of denial, pretending it isn't really happening. Today is her going away party, (with Diana, another of our librarians who we will also miss) and the reality is hard to avoid any longer. Erica starts at Hilltop on Monday.

Life will be different from now on...

I've talked before about how, and why my outlook has changed in the past year or two, what things put me back on the positive track. I haven't talked about Erica.

She's been with us in the division for a little less than 2 years if memory serves. In the summer of 2008 we seemed to be scheduled together on the desk quite often.


Quite often Erica was talking about a project she was excited about, a techie thing that had caught her eye, or a weekend event she planned to attend.

Always talking - but always about something interesting. Erica's youthful exuberance was infectious. Her attitude made a difference to me and to the entire division. She made us all Glad.

I could go on and on...

Instead, I'll share an email I sent to Erica a couple months ago, when the library was considering the initial steps to handle our budget crisis, steps that all of us thought might include layoffs. Remember, she is the "low person on the totem pole."

That means a whole lot more when layoffs are a possibility, so I sent this the day before the "Big meeting to decide everything."

(*note - ultimately no layoffs were involved, and other cuts were made instead)

I've been meaning to say something to you for a long time, but I get kinda misty eyed thinking about it and so I'm embarrassed to say it in person, cause you know I don't publicly get like that.
I want you to know that you are a HUGE part of why I got enthusiastic about my work, about technology, about - well hell about caring what happens here, and with the library.
Your enthusiasm, your resolve, your zest for life were all there for me when I needed that kick in the ass. You're a difference maker, and no matter what you do, no matter what happens - you always will be!
I thought today might be a good day to spit all that out.
So there!
I can't thank you enough,

And I still can't.

Of course, we'll survive here in our division. We have a great group of folks.
But today, I just want to say out loud - so everybody knows...

Thank you Erica, for helping me find Jimmer again...

What Do You Want To Do?

Every year Netter asks me this question as my birthday approaches, and every year I have absolutely no idea how to answer.

While I think birthdays are special and people should take one day to celebrate themselves, I think we can all agree that as the years advance the thrill wears off. The magic of the birthday subsides.

While 13 makes one a teenager, 16 means you can drive, 18 brings adulthood and 21 means you can consume alcohol (responsibly of course), and then 30 or 40 mark milestones of sorts, what really is the difference between 40 and 41? Right?

Still there was the question last Thursday night. We had a 3-day weekend with a few commitments to work around, my birthday was on Monday - "What did I want to do?"

So, I tried to come up with something... "Let's go down to the Short North," I said. "We've been meaning to go walk around and discover a little bit. Let's do something different, go to lunch, and then just explore."

This was the plan for Friday -

And then it rained.

So, I punted. Let's go to lunch at that TGIFriday's in the mall where they have the California Club I like so much, I'll get my glasses adjusted, we'll walk around, it will be different. Shopping at the mall is different. We're usually shopping at Walmart. We walked around Easton last year, let's walk around Tuttle today.

Friday's was closed with facilities issues. Undeterred we headed for another restaurant in the mall, had a nice lunch, and continued on our way.

Malls are quite different than what I remember from my younger days. For example, what exactly is this guy selling? Seriously, I didn't even have to go into the store (I won't say which one.) to see this. It screamed at me as I walked by.

To be fair, this isn't a phenomenon unique to malls I guess. We did see this gem among others when we visited Walmart last week. Apparently Halloween costumes are now required to bare as much skin as possible, at least for the ladies. We saw a similar costume for Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, sexy witches, you name it. This one of Cinderella made me remember a quote from the movie Pretty Woman. Unfortunately, I cannot find a good clip, and while I can find the text at IMDB quotes to paste it here, it just looks awkward. It was toward the end of the movie and came from Kit.

But I digress.

Shopping these days is different, and this is how I want things in my life to be right now - different.

Nonetheless, on Saturday, we took a break from different and did the same thing we do almost every Saturday during the fall. We watched college football with our friends in the "nayvorhood," (another post, another day). We love driving to the hood and hanging out. That will never change.

Sunday we returned to "different" and finally made the trip to the Short North. First, we attended "How I Became a Pirate," (K is a member of the stage crew), at The Columbus Children's Theatre. We followed that with a trip to the North Market, and a walking tour of the rest of the Short North, as well as parts of Columbus' downtown and Arena District.

That's right - we walked. We walked a lot. My feet were tingling when we were finished that's how much we walked.

For many, many reasons, I loved every minute of it. I love downtowns. I love eclectic. I love seeing things we don't ordinarily see, and I love discovering things for the very first time.

I've driven up and down High Street in Columbus hundreds of times in the 26 years I've lived in the area. Never once, had I seen this. Right there, on the side of the road, through the guardrail.

Who knows where it leads?

When I stopped to take this picture, Netter and I started talking about the railways in Columbus. She told me about the train station, that used to be here and which tracks went where. She reminded me that an arch from the train station is on display in a park near Nationwide Arena.

I've always wanted to ride on a train. A real train, not that goofy thing at Kings' Island or Cedar Point. I know that passenger trains have mostly gone the way of the Dodo, but a fella can dream can't he? I want to take new journeys and blaze new trails.

I know there's a way. I just have to find it. That's what I really want to do.

Thank You Very Much

I've taken some time away from the blog lately, putting some ducks in a row, working on some plans for changes I hope to be making. It's just time for some things. I'm sure many would understand.

I hope to be in this space a little more regularly from this point, in part because I am looking forward to talking about some of those changes as they happen. This is where we break things down after all.

But, well, today is my birthday. Netter and I are headed out for the evening to take some time to pause and just be as it were.

One thing that has been incredibly overwhelming today is the number of well wishes I have received - text messages, phone calls, Twitter, Facebook. My Blackberry battery is almost drained and as I think about it - well, I am one lucky man to have so many wonderful friends and family.

I am working on finding a way to personally thank each and everyone of you, but in the interim - so Netter doesn't have to wait to go out with her husband...

I am going to borrow this from Kailey and the All Ohio State Fair Youth Choir.

Thank you very much!

Where I Learn Things - Cinque

I want to begin by saying how happy I was with the way my Listening post was received last week. That was very nice of all of you. I promise a follow-up post sometime in the near future to answer questions, and talk more about being a good listener.

Today I'd like to make a belated return to my series about Where I Learn Things. I've been weeding through my RSS feeds (down to 61 as of today), adding and subtracting, discovering and rediscovering some great content and I am excited to be able to share that with you today.

Right out of the gate I want to introduce you to Perry Maughmer's blog - A Wider Lens. Perry blogs about leadership, life, being human, looking in the mirror, business, strategy, and emerging trends. In other words he makes me think, (without over-thinking) and that is always a good thing. Too often we get stuck in our day-to-day, and forget to look at the bigger picture. If you read Perry's blog, chances are that's not gonna happen.

(I've only recently discovered Perry's blog. I followed a link from my friend Nate Rigg's, and my friend Christa pointed me that way as well so a big thanks to those two great folks.)

Of course the day-to-day is still a big part of who we are, and a big part of who I am is being a Dad (although happily my girls still call me Daddy). For great stories from Dads I check out a number of contributing authors over at Dad-O-Matic. From their "About" section:

Dad-o-Matic was founded in 2008 by Chris Brogan who was inspired by the work of Doriano Carta (now Editor-in-Chief) on his personal blog where he shared interesting experiences about being a dad.

The concept was simple: build a place for dads to share thoughts and ideas about parenting. This can be views, news, reviews, and advice. You don’t have to be a dad to participate. It’s just a blog from the Dad’s perspective.

For more day-to-day, keeping it real content I check in with my friend Oneita who blogs for the Detroit Free Press at her blog O Street. While it's true that a lot of Oneita's content is about Detroit, it's not just about Detroit. It's about growing up, and parenting, and being a good citizen, and even controversial topics like racism, and politics.

Oneita fosters a discussion in her forums that is both respectful, and insightful. I've had the opportunity to talk to Oneita a couple of times. She caught me off guard one day by calling me. I was at work when my phone rang. I recognized the area code as being from Michigan, thought it was one of my relatives, and picked up.

Me: Hello

Oneita: Hey, what are you doing?

Me: (Not recognizing the voice.) Um, I'm okay. How are you?

Oneita: Oh, hey sorry it's Oneita.

Me: (Thinking in my head: Holy Crap, Oneita Jackson just called me.)

At this point I remembered that I had emailed Oneita requesting a copy of her free blog tips, and my phone number is in the signature line of my email. As Oneita and I discussed, why would I put it there if I didn't expect to be called?

We chatted for a few minutes, she said she would check out my blog too, I requested an RSS feed to her blog specifically (instead of all of the Free Press blogs collectively), and we hung up.

A few days later Oneita called back. She needed to explain to her IT folk exactly what I wanted re: the RSS feed.

She emailed it to me a little later that day. It was pretty cool to be honest. How about that for listening to your readers?

The last blog I want to share with you today is from my colleague at the library Helene Blowers. Helene blogs about libraries, and social media, and changing trends in user experience on the Internet among other things. In other words all the stuff that occupies my attention just about every day. Needless to say, reading Helene's blog, well... I learn a lot.

What occupies your attention on a daily basis? Where do you learn things?

It Doesn't Mean I Don't Love My Library

Over the weekend a friend posted this on their Facebook page.

I've watched it about 100 times.

Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, - maybe...

What strikes me about the folks in this video is how much fun they seem to be having - at work. I used to have that much fun at work. But, the sad truth is that I have been doing the same thing for the last 11+ years, and well you know, that math is easy...

That's about average for me. When I moved from Circulation Services at the library I had been doing that for about 12 years.

There's nothing wrong with my job. I just need a new challenge. Is that a bad thing to say? I hope not. If it is, well I'm sorry because I really do still love my library. I just need a new challenge.

Is there another job for me at the library, another step? Well now, that would be perfect wouldn't it? I understand that there are budget constraints and such, but yeah, the selfish part of me would love for that to be true.

I wonder where the road goes from here?

I Am Listening

It seems I talk a lot about making changes, changes in fitness habits, changes in church-going habits, in diet and exercise, in career, etc... and so on.

Sometimes I'm good at making those changes. Sometimes I get derailed in my efforts. Always, I'm trying. It may not seem like it, but I am. It's that good Catholic guilt. What can I say?

This week, I'm working on a change that should be easy, but has honestly proven to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I'm trying to spend as much time as possible just listening.

Yep. Just listening.

About 7:00 Sunday night I popped out my Blackberry and put up my first update of the day. For me.., well it's no secret that's a touch out of the ordinary. I'm usually plugged in and interacting all day every day and sometimes well into the night. The keyword there being interacting. I'm trying to be involved in the conversation and building relationships both old and new.

Only lately, especially on the weekends, I don't feel like I'm interactive at all. In fact I'm kind of a broadcaster - and my friends, I am not fond of the broadcasters.

Now it's true, I'm usually posting updates from football parties where I'm connecting on a face to face level, and I post about the Buckeye games and other similar topics, and sometimes big conversations get started from some innocuous comment about the kicking game, or a freshman running back. There are times when I'm involved in those conversations. More often I'm revisiting them on Sunday or even Monday morning - catching up as it were. Ultimately, I appreciate that folks are involved, and commenting, but I want to give something back.

So, this week the goal is listening. Everybody talks about two ears, one mouth and such right... I wonder how many keep that in mind on a day to day basis.

I'd like to think I'm not a bad listener, but I want to be a really great listener. I know some great listeners. I want to be like them.

I want to hear the things folks want me to hear.

What do you want me to hear?

And just for kicks - riffing off a series of Q&A posts my friend Cammie is currently working on, I am wondering if there are things you'd like to know or topics you'd like to discuss?

Ask away...

I'm listening.

The Kids Said What... Second Edition

Never thought I'd see a second edition here, but I've been collecting quotes from the girls and lo and behold the material is just there, so once again I am playing along with my friend Cammie for The Kids Said What.

Here we go.

We like to try a lot of different foods for dinners and such. While discussing the different tastes of things one night at dinner D popped up with this nugget:

"If you have tastebuds on your tongue so you can taste things, do you have smell-buds in your nose so you can smell things?"

Yes, she is 13. No, I have no idea where it came from. It was worth a big laugh at our house though.

K provides a couple of teenagery quotes for our next two.

You know that boy (or girl) you really like, but he doesn't like you, or he toys with you and takes advantage of you emotionally, until one day you are just over him (or her) and you've had enough?

Yeah, K's got one of those for herself. Here's what she has to say about him these days...

"It's like they hooked a leafblower up to an ego-machine and stuffed it down his throat."

Yes, I am a proud Daddy!

Of course she followed that one with: "The ego is like seeping out of him."

That's my girl!

Thank goodness she figured him out - that LOSER!

I don't know if it's cool for Daddies to add that kind of editorial content, but I am!

A few days went by until D chimed in with our next prize. She had been given a homework assignment to describe her "writer's voice." (Yeah, I know. I think it's an archaic term too. So does Wikipedia, but of course not everybody trusts Wikipedia yet. That must include D's English teacher.)

D struggled with finding an answer to this question until I got home from work on Tuesday at which point her eyes lit up, she smiled a big smile, looked at me, and said: "Hello Man-with-an- English-degree."

Yes, I helped her, but not without a bit of grumbling about the obscurity of the term and a Google search to be sure I was thinking of the right thing. Hey, I graduated 8 years ago, and I've yet to use that degree for anything other than creative writing. Give a guy some slack.

For the record, D's is an "active and building" writer's voice, i.e. she builds her story to engage the reader. It's a good solid way to write, and I hope she continues with this creative outlet.

K completes our quotes for the week with a comment on cooking, or rather cookery.

As many of you know, Netter's Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan was broken on Tuesday. It wasn't her fault really. I distracted her while she was cooking by calling on my way home. Consequently she turned on the wrong burner on the stove (i.e. the one that was under the pan) and scared the entire neighborhood when the pan popped and broke. When it says "don't apply to direct heat," it means don't apply to direct heat. See for yourself.

I used Twitpic to post the picture on Twitter and Facebook, and I wasn't surprised that most of the talk was not about the cost of replacing the pan (not all that expensive really) but instead was about the lost years (15) of "seasoning."

K was watching the conversations and asked what seasoning meant.

When Netter explained... well, K gave us this.

"That's disgusting! It's time for a new pan anyway!"

Ah teenagers. Gotta love 'em.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

When I met my wife, she had this really cool car, an Acura Integra LS. Flip up headlights, sunroof. The whole nine yards.

I had a beat up Chevy Nova that we actually sold before she even got to ride in it.

For years we only had one car. It was okay. We worked at the same place and did most everything together. Occasionally we would borrow a friend's vehicle if we really needed to go somewhere without the other. When Netter went to work at another library location I had friends drive me home from work when necessary.

After we had the twins we decided we needed a second car, a bigger car, a family car, but I did not want a minivan. No Way. No How. No minivan.

It was the first of a number of changes we would make in our life after the loss of Meghan Joy. We weren't waiting for anything anymore (another post for another day). Much to my surprise, my wife told me she wanted an SUV, and not just any SUV, but a sporty SUV to boot.

I thought that was sexy! (and certainly not a minivan) So the shopping started...

After a few weeks of looking at new and used SUVs of every type and model we determined that we wanted to buy the new Honda Passport. That was almost 15 years ago.

This week we're saying goodbye to our old friend, that treasured vehicle. Netter long ago dubbed this incredibly reliable car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In 1995, I told the dealer I wasn't interested in a lease because we were going to drive that car until the wheels came off, and it fell down around us. We almost made it that far.Final mileage was 234,790.

In February, after determining that the cost of repair for belts and hoses was a good chunk of change towards a newer replacement vehicle we had been considering purchasing, we parked the Passport in front of the house until further review. K was almost 16, she would be driving soon, a repaired Passport might be a good option for her.

We purchased the newer vehicle - a minivan, go figure...

K just finally got her temps a few weeks ago and we have decided to go another route with the Passport. The tags are going to expire on Saturday. It seems silly to continue to pay for registration and insurance for a vehicle that likely won't be used until at least March 2010. It's time to say goodbye.

We posted the car on Craig'sList on Monday. I'm pretty sure it will be sold within the next few days.

When I think about all of the things we have done and the places that car has taken us, I can't help but smile. She was my first, (and only) new vehicle - ever.

The summer of 1995 saw us take the first of two trips to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A trip with great friends, time on the beach, four grand golf courses. It was so, so much fun.

In 1996 we used the Passport to move into our new home, (more of that not waiting stuff) and 5 days later welcomed our baby D into the world. Of course the Passport brought her home from the hospital. Mommy got to bring her baby home with her this time. Monitors be damned.

We used the Passport to haul all the material to finish our basement in 2000 when Netter started doing home daycare. That same year a friend drove the Passport to Pittsburgh to buy the first bed he would share with his wife. We were in their wedding the very next summer.

Of course with my family in Michigan, and my roots in the D(etroit) we also made several trips to Michigan. We made the last of two journeys to Tiger Stadium for the 3rd to last game to be played at that historic venue, in September 1999. We saw the Lions play in 2002, the first year that Ford Field was open. Yes, they lost.

Earlier in 2002 we made our last journey to North Myrtle Beach. Different friends, more great times, lots of seafood (crab for me every day in fact), more beautiful golf courses. Throw in some Bloody Mary's and too many good stories to share in one space and the trip was just as awesome as our first.

Our first trip to Greenville, South Carolina to visit my fave cousin Butch, and all the Brochowski family for Thanksgiving in 2003, (I think) might have been the last of the long trips we would take in our Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car. I remember my Dad telling me the steel belts were showing on my tires and that it was time to replace them, and my cousin Christy's husband Yousef marveling at the 148,000 miles on the odometer at the time.

Of course, not all of our trips were joyous, but the memories will live on. Our trusted friend took us to say goodbye to my Babcia, and to my Uncle Jerry - probably the man I admire most in the whole world. I have the greatest golf story ever from the trip for Uncle Jerry's funeral. I'll spare you the details and just share that teaching Yousef how to say Titleist - was one of the funniest things ever.

Happy or sad, good times or bad, great stories, good friends, great times - the Passport just kept going.

Goodbye old friend.



FYI - Today's post is a little Monday rant. I'll understand if you don't want to hang around today. If you do, maybe you can relate or commiserate?

I'm writing this as a way of building toward a to-do list of sorts so maybe you can relate to that too?

I haven't blogged in a while. I feel like I've blown a great opportunity to grab some new readers and connect with new folks. Maybe not. I hope not. As usual I may be thinking too much. (A big thank you to Nate Riggs for that by the way. I feel very fortunate to have had that opportunity.)

More upside? After today's rant post - I promise a blog post on every topic I bring up today as part of my rant. Well, at least the ones I think might make a good story.

You see, once again here it is Monday morning and I find myself behind. Behind on replying to messages, behind on replying to emails, behind on - well still behind on things from before Golf for Joy, and many, many more...

Sometimes it seems like I spend my entire life catching up, and the cycle continues on and on.

If I do get time to focus on something, it seems something ALWAYS takes my attention elsewhere. Granted, that's not always a bad thing, like when I became obsessed with the television show Bones and wanted to see all the re-runs I could before the season premiere. More often, however it's because I have to tend to something silly.

Like the Blackberry fiasco. (That might even be two blog posts.)

It will especially turn into two posts if I talk about being tired of poor customer service, but that might be a post all by itself.

Or a broken T.V.

Or any number of things that just seem to pop up out of nowhere, and turn into hours and hours of time suckers.

Like Vista and connectivity issues - no Mom it's not just your computer...

Like tires for my truck.

Paying bills and juggling cash. I'm tired of playing by the rules they, (i.e. banks and mortgage companies and such) put in place and then having them change the rules, seemingly on a whim. (I know it's the economy, but this is a rant remember...)

So, I have to find a turning point, a positive if you will.

One positive is that part of the reason I am behind is the presentation I was fortunate enough to be able to give at Job Help Day at the Library last week.

Another is that I got to spend the day Saturday playing golf with my friends and enjoying college football for the balance of the evening.

Okay, we do watch college football every week, but the golf was a nice bonus. Though I actually played very poorly, and we started the round in the rain, I was still happy to get out.

There's just something about being on the course with your friends, watching one of them shoot his best round ever, obviously happy as heck about it - and you can see the joy in his face.

Good job Dave!

I've got to get back to the to do list now...

What are you all working on?

Or - if you want - tell me what you're tired of...


I've got several projects with quickly approaching deadlines going on right now so the blog is a bit thin on material recently. I'm sorry about that. (I know, you're not supposed to apologize like that. I just did. Sue me.)

I do want to take a minute to highlight something, especially for my Columbus audience that I think is very important, and really one of the best ideas I've ever seen.

If you haven't already, head over to Shiny Door and check out the details OneWebDay.

I've talked before about the importance of technology, not just that it's become such a integral part of our society, but that so many lack access, lack knowledge, and don't have anyone to teach them how as it were.

Every day at the library I talk to at least one person who has to accomplish some task, whether searching for housing, signing up for an email account, applying for a job, creating a resume, or even applying for unemployment or other government assistance. All of these things are made that much more difficult when "you just don't know how."

Now, a lot of times when you just don't know how, you can just not do it. (Like my math homework in high school, but that's another story.) But you just can't "not do," things like those listed above because things like housing and jobs are pretty darned important aren't they?

To even take this to the next level - What if these folks could create a network for themselves using Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter - how much better would quality of life be for them. How much more included and most especially valued would they feel if they just knew how?

Take a big breath there and think about that for a second. What would your life be like without technology? Or how about without the Internet?

Yeah, I feel that way too. Very, very fortunate indeed.

Many folks are not so fortunate, Too many are just plain getting left behind, and frankly Scarlett that just stinks.

Well, I give a damn. I know you do too, and as fate would have it, we are not alone.

From the Wiki:

year, OneWebDay focuses on the importance of access to fast, affordable, open Internet for all people, otherwise known as digital inclusion. OneWebDay Columbus has planned an array of activities around the idea of digital inclusion, including classes and seminars, technology refurbishment and more. At OneWebDay Columbus participants will have a variety of opportunities to both volunteer (example - refurbish computers) and learn (example - Legalities of Open Source Software workshop). If you cannot spend time at our event but still want to be a part of this worldwide day of web celebration, please consider donating computer components no longer in use. We will be using them to teach the refurbishing and recycling. Our experts can take old slow computers and turn them into useful tools again.
For more information on Columbus OneWebDay join us at http://my.onewebday.org/group/cbusowd and help make it One Web. For All.

In the end, it's all about access. We have it. Too many others don't.

OneWebDay brings us together so that everybody is included, so that everyone has access, so that everyone has an opportunity to learn how.

I am trying to clear my schedule to participate. I will definitely be donating some computer components.

Maybe you can help out too?

We're all in this together after all.

Too Transparent? Not enough? Overthinking? Hmmm...

I get a lot of comments from folks that my blog, (and pretty much all the information I put out for public consumption) is very open, deep, revealing, and sometimes - too revealing, too open, too deep - Man Jim why do you put all that out in the open like that?

My reply is pretty simple:

Why not?

As I've talked about before, my aim in using social media, in being part of the community is to make sure people know the real me, to know the things I value. I've talked about how I had let myself, and the way folks perceived me to become someone, something I was not, or at the very least somebody I didn't like to be. I want to be sure I don't go there again, and I want to be held accountable.

Now, I don't put "everything" out there, and there have been times when I wonder if I've been putting too much... I don't want to risk holding back to a point where it feels like I'm being dishonest. I would hope you would let me know if things weren't comfortable.

We all share the same concerns. We all have similar experiences. I think it's okay to talk about them, to be open, to share, to help each other.

Not everybody does and I get that. That's okay.

Recently, I was quizzed by one of my co-workers about some of my social media use. My co-worker, let's call them, CW uses Facebook, and is starting to blog a bit, but isn't sure just yet about "putting oneself" out there as it were. (Yes, I kept all references to CW very non-gender specific and I understand that the grammar police might come after me. I'm okay with that.)

Today, I thought I might share our exchange and get your take. What do you think?

CW's first question: If you have a certain "online persona" how does that overlap/interact with your real life persona?

My reply: I try really hard not to have an online persona, but instead to just be me as much as possible. I censor myself a little bit, but that's also a part of my process of trying to lose the "curmudgeon in the corner" image. My life had become about everything negative and I
was miserable, and miserable to be around I would imagine. In the spring of 2008 I ran into an online chat room watching hockey games. It was easy to just be myself, open up, and try as much as possible to keep it positive. As the summer progressed and we, (CML) moved into "Learn and Play," it was easy for me to transition that positive using the new
(to me) tools, and let people know that the curmudgeon wasn't really me, but just someone I had allowed myself to become over time, and that I wasn't happy with it. I wrote a blog post about it if you want to check it out.

CW's second question: How do you relate the "curmudgeon in the corner" with the "600 followers, (on Twitter)" guy?

My reply: "The 600 followers guy was unintentional, but who doesn't like to be popular right? :-) Just kidding. (Point of fact, I'm not concerned about numbers. That really was a joke.) Twitter is the tool I use to keep in touch with people I don't see everyday, and to meet new people who share similar interests. Think of it this way, Even with your best friend you probably didn't dive in as soon as you met them and start having heart to heart conversations. You took some time to get to know each other, sharing small parts of your life,
until a trust was built, molded, hardened and such and you felt you could open up. Twitter is pretty much the same thing, but it takes it a step further, or could because with these new tools people are collaborating, doing business, and still in some cases just making new friends. But - it is a small incremental process just like real life.

Most people who dive onto Twitter and bombard folks with way too much detail, and try to pitch their business deals or advertise their blogs right away are shunned almost immediately. (Just like we run away from the salespeople who attack as soon as we walk into the store.)
Those who get into Twitter for the reasons I mentioned above are far more likely to be valued so that when they do post a new blog or have something to share, or even have a business proposition people will listen. (Just like the sales person we know was watching and paying attention to what we are looking at, approaching us with answers when we have questions, but waiting for us to ask.)"

CW's final, and probably most important question: Who is more important, your twitter audience, or the people you interact with face to face every day? :)

This one was easy if I used my wife and my kids as my only example, but the answer didn't come out quite like I had intended. Tell me what you think?

"As far as my audience - I don't generally separate the two, but if I need to I always choose face to face first. The Social Media tools are just that, tools. While I hope to build valued relationships that will be face to face eventually - Ultimately the existing, (face to face) relationships are what is most important to me, and the people in front of me bring a more valued relationship. Just like customers in the building come before customers on the phone."

I was trying to emphasize the value of face to face, but I feel like I left a part of this unanswered, or something is missing in my reply. In many cases, my online relationships are also face to face relationships. Perhaps that means I'm using the tools effectively, the right way?

But not all of these relationships are face to face, at least not yet. Does that mean I'm not placing enough value, investing enough time? I know that not "all" of them will reach the next level, but what about 1/2? 1/3?

Perhaps I'm guilty (again) of over thinking. (You saw the smoke right?)

Above all else I want to be sure that I am doing things right, that my positive remains positive, and that my emphasis remains on building honest, open, relationships whether that be in the cyber community or the face to face world.

What's your take on this? What do you think?

My Man Card?

Let's just get it out there...

Yes - I watch Project Runway, and yes I follow the blog Project RunGay.

Yes - I do think Christian Siriano is a fascinating, fascinating young man and I have propped him in my "About Me" since the day this blog went live.

Betcha didn't notice, didja?

For the record - I also used to watch American Chopper which featured Orange County Choppers before it got moved from the Discovery Channel to goodness knows where, on who knows what night.

Oh yeah - Yes - Purple is my favorite color. (No, I don't like pink. I don't think it's the right color for me ;-)


Yes - I'm prone to cry when...

I read a touching article, or blog post. When I hear certain songs. When I watch some Hallmark commercials even.

When we used to watch Extreme Home Makeover my kids would watch me to see my reaction instead of the end of the show when the homes were revealed to the family.

Yes - I once embarrassed my youngest daughter by sobbing at the end of Marley & Me. I cried even harder when I read the book. Today, this dog post about Shaka got me - maybe even harder.

Yes - I walked around for the 18 days my oldest daughter was at the fair on the verge of tears.

I'm just a big fan of creativity, and a very emotional person. Oh yeah, and a proud Daddy.

You can call it my I.G. if you want to. I am who I am, and I'm comfortable with me.

Personally, - I think that's a good thing.

Psst... Fellas - I also think Chicks dig that. No really - just ask them.


Where I Learn Things Catorce...

Do you think Bono did that on purpose? There's a lot of theories, and it's one of those things that drives some fans crazy... But it's just a little thing right?

Sometimes little things linger don't they?

As I lay in bed this morning after all the ladies had left, with Mr. Mulligan sound asleep by my side I could hear only the soft hum of the ceiling fan above my head, nothing more. This peaceful moment made me pause and think about all the angst I've been feeling lately. I've considered blogging about some of it, but really at least for now - I think it's best to keep some things to myself and not air my dirty laundry in public as it were.

Suffice to say that as I shared with my community yesterday - I'm feeling a lot like Mr. I'm Gonna, and that's definitely not the person I want to be.

To gain some forward momentum, today I'd like to share some of the folks I learn from who help motivate me.

Not long after I started getting more and more involved with social media, Seth Simonds followed me on Twitter. I checked out his Tweet stream, saw that he was very much into the conversation and followed him back. Seth has a tendency to say all the right things at the perfect times, like this comment on Monday when I had had a very bad day of dealing with the foot. I needed to hear, (read) something like that right then. So I replied to Seth and tried really hard to find a way to move forward.

Seth sent me a private message the next day to motivate me a little more. Seth motivates a lot of folks with his Primal Stride blog which is very appropriately subtitled simple steps for complex lives.

He can also be found at The Dating Papers, a very entertaining blog that sometimes makes me laugh, sometimes makes me reflect, very often makes me think, and ALWAYS reminds me how happy, and lucky I am to have found the love of my life at a very young age.

Finally, I think, or at least I haven't found him anywhere else (grin) - Seth blogs at the Design Pepper blog a great blog about creativity and web design.

I follow all of Seth's blogs because they make me think, they help me relate, and they help me keep things in perspective.

Which reminds me...

There are two other great sources of perspective I'd like to share with you today. One is by well known columnist Craig Wilson of USA Today. Craig's column's have kept me grinning, and laughing, and thinking for the better part of the last 4-5 years. I also like that Craig is very generous with his time, answers email from readers with personal responses, accepts almost all friend requests on Facebook, and even held a weekly chat for years, until USA shut it down.
I am grateful to Craig for his perspective as well.

Finally today - I want to share a Photoblog I follow. My friend, and fellow Red Wings fan Scott has the most interesting images, and accompanying messages about, well about everything at his photoblog StrayMatter. If you're looking for beautiful images that make you say Hmmm... that's the place to go.

What blogs, articles, sites do you visit regularly to help you keep perspective? Where do you go for inspiration?

Where I Learn Things - Tres

Update - 8/26 - On Monday of this week I won a copy of Trust Agents from Eye View. My (already ordered) copy of Trust Agents arrived yesterday, (Tuesday). Hmmm...2 copies, What to do...?

Well why not spread the love - Because I think this book has that much value - I'm doing my very first giveaway. Leave a comment and tell me what value you find in Chris' work, (you can find my take below) and why you think you should win - i.e. how do you spread the love as it were?

The best comment wins a copy of Trust Agents and yes - shipping is included. It's that simple.

Contest ends at midnight 9/6.

Oh, and feel free to take a look around while you're here, but only if you want to.

Continuing my list of Where I Learn Things I'm going to focus today on one well known blogger. He doesn't need me to prop his work. He is already very popular, especially in the realm of social media. What's really cool about this fella, and the reason I want to share how I learn from him is though many would call him one, he doesn't act like a superstar. He's just a nice down to earth guy. Let me tell you a little bit about him.

If you follow this blog at all you know that I am a big, big, Okay HUGE fan of Chris Brogan. But you may not know how big - no really - wait.

There's a good reason for that admiration.

Chris is genuine. He's transparent. He's friendly, and he is really good at what he does i.e. maximizing methods of communication, and showing others how to do the same.

In early June of this year, while attending The Ohio Growth Summit I
had the opportunity to meet Chris and spend some time talking with him.
I then had the privilege of hearing him speak. Folks - this guy has the
goods. It may seem over the top to say it this way, but Chris is a
master of human interaction.

It's hard to write this without sounding like a gushing school girl, but I really think Chris is an awesome communicator who can, and does teach us all the way it "should be done."

To make it even better, Chris does this without asking for anything in return. Well, okay he did ask me for one thing. Chris posted a request earlier this week asking his readers to consider buying his book, Trust Agents co-authored with Julien Smith. It was the most unassuming, nicest sales pitch I think I've ever seen. Take a look. Don't have time for the whole post? Just read the introduction...

"This will probably be the most self-promoting post I’ve ever written. Skip it, if you want. I’d understand."

How could you not be impressed by a guy who gives and gives and gives, and then says "You know I need a favor, but you don't have to even listen if you don't want to?"

Thankfully, I had been meaning to buy the book for sometime. I even contacted our Collection Development division to make sure it was on their radar. I hope they buy several copies.

I just know that the book will be money well spent.

I cannot wait for my copy to get here.

Maybe you'd like to buy a copy of Trust Agents too.

Age Is Just a Number - Right?

They say that age is just a number, but I'm having serious doubts today.

I like to say I'm forever a teenager... Today I feel about 160.

Let me share the story. You know there has to be a story.

For some 40-odd years I have been trying to successfully do a front flip off the diving board, and for some 40-odd years I have failed to get past "maybe" landing on my knees and usually on my back.

I almost made it when I was in South Carolina earlier last month visiting my cousin. Look how close I came...

Yeah, no it wasn't even close.

As I said, the best I could do was land on my knees - sorta.

I could never seem to get all the way around. A silly thing I know, but something I've just always wanted to be able to do. You gotta have goals right?

So, I have continued to try and try again...

No matter the pool, no matter the season, if I had the opportunity to try to do a flip I usually would at least give it a try.

When I was in South Carolina it began to dawn on me after all these years that I needed a board with a lot more spring than is ordinarily found at public pools. After all, I was making it around to my knees there, and there had to be a reason (i.e. their board had more spring than usual), so that had to be it. (Hey, what can I say, I've never claimed to be the sharpest tack on the bulletin board.)

Fast forward to last Sunday - we were swimming with some friends from the "nayvorhood," (aka friends who live in the same neighborhood in Powell), and there was a diving board.

It didn't look to have much spring from across the pool, but I knew I would have to check it out at some point - you know, just a dive to see for sure.

"Do your flip. Jim will do a flip."

Netter caught me looking at the board. She knew exactly what I was thinking.

"Nah. I don't need to do that," I said laughing. "I'm gettin' too old for that kinda stuff."

Yeah right Jim.

The board stared at me all day, beckoning. After some time had passed and most of our friends had left I ventured down to you know just take a dive. Bravely I approached the board. One, two steps and...


Not only did this thing have spring, I had missed the center point and was now hurtling head first towards the right side of the pool. I quickly corrected, and tucked the dive in just as I felt my feet flipping over my head, thankfully as I was entering the water.

No spring my eye...

Still, I did not immediately attempt the flip. Truthfully, I kinda freaked out a little bit inside. It had been a long time since I felt out of control in the water. I wasn't sure what to make of it.

After a while though I ventured forth. After all, while a tad frightening, the spring in this board held great promise and I did have this lifelong goal to consider.

Carefully, I again mounted the ladder and positioned myself in the center of the board.

One, two...

Tuck... now turning and...

Holy Crap! I made it. I actually made it arou... SPLAT!!!!

I did make it around. I made it so far around that I started turning again - until my head and my right shoulder slammed into the water. (Apparently I always jump a little to the right.)

Slowly I swam to the ladder and got out of the pool. Netter was waiting for me, and even though it was ugly, it was a success. I wanted to know if she saw it.

"A lot springier than you thought huh?!" She said.

"That is hard water!" I exclaimed

We laughed and laughed. One of my friends was watching the dive. He laughed too. I shared the tale with my friends who had left when we met them later for dinner. We all thought it was just hilarious.

Two days later - Man I feel old. My face is okay. My shoulder... Well, I'm having a hard time reaching for my coffee cup, or raising my arm to get things out of the cupboard. I know what a shoulder separation feels like, and folks I think we've got money in the bank. I'm feeling pretty beat up indeed.

But - I accomplished that goal - and it was worth it, worth every ache, worth every one of my "160 years old." Shoulders heal after all.

Now, I just need to work on that landing.

Do you have a lifelong goal?

Tell me your story.

Where I Learn Things - Dos

Last week I started what I hope will be a regular Wednesday thing for awhile, sharing the "whys and whatnots" of the list of blogs I follow (see the sidebar of my blog).

I call this list "Where I Learn Things," because each has some influence on my life and most teach me something when I read them. None of them are "how to" blogs, but they are all thought provoking and "teach me" things along the way.

For example, I learn a great deal about social media by reading Cheryl Harrison's blog BeingCheryl Cheryl is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She's genuine and she's smart as heck. If you want to know about social media or marketing Cheryl's blog is the place to find it. Cheryl's post on LinkedIn was one of the best explanations for setting up a profile I have ever read.

(*Note - Cheryl was nice enough today to recommend me to her follower's on Twitter. So I am extra happy that I set up the end of my last "Where I Learn Things" post to lead off with Cheryl today.)

My friend Erica provides all kinds of thought provoking content on her blog Ridiculology. Check out this fun contemplation on social media and this post on the mysterious Gueek Bkead Fay. Erica provides content on a myriad number of things and you never know what you're gonna get when you visit Ridiculology. But, you do know you're going to be entertained and something is going to make you say Hmmm...? (Kinda like the Arsenio Hall show right?)

Netter found Dr. Lori's blog Loripalooza last winter using Twitter search I think. For laugh out loud funny stories and reminiscence there are few better places to read. Dr. Lori doesn't post very often, but when she does it is always entertaining. Check out this post about Gumdrops to get a feel for Dr. Lori's great story telling abilities. I also follow Dr. Lori on Twitter because she brings the same style and humor to that platform as well.

Dr. Lori's isn't the only blog I follow for great stories about family. My friends Christa and Kelly have some great stories about their kids that make me reflect on parenting and think about my relationships with my girls. It's good for a parent to consider different perspectives from time to time. Of course I find that with Netter's blog too. She often surprises me with her stories about the girls. For example, I had no idea this post about a conversation I had with D would have such an impact, but I refer back to it every time I need some inspiration to keep the glass half full, and remind myself that I'm an okay Daddy too.

I want to close today by telling about a blog that is both entertaining and inspiring. My friend Cat has had a tough year health wise, but from the stories and poems she shares on her blog you would never know it. Cat is upbeat and full of life. She's as genuine as they come, and I really admire her for that.

Cat is currently on medical leave. Do me a favor. Stop by Caterwaulling, look around for a minute, and say hello. Not only will you find interesting and compelling content, you'll find one of the greatest personalities on the planet. What more could you want?

So that's our list for this week. A list of brilliant women I learn from all the time.

Where do you learn things?

What's in a Degree?

Today, I'm thinking a lot about my degree. BA English 20th Century Narrative, (That means I'm good at bulls.. um, storytelling.)

I was a non-traditional student, graduating in 2001. I was proud of my accomplishment. Being a Dad, working full time, and going to school all at the same time was challenging to say the least.

I am more proud of my wife. Netter was pretty much a single parent, ran a household, and worked full time for the better part of 6 years. THAT was an accomplishment.

No, we can't do it alone. That's for sure...

Today though I'm not thinking about the accomplishment as much as I'm wondering why in the heck I ever got that degree in the first place.

It seemed like the thing to do at the time. Encouraged by several relatives, and my branch manager, (the legendary EP whom I dearly love) I enrolled at The Ohio State University in 1995 with great plans for the future. There were riches to be garnered. The greatest of these, of course was the degree.

Fast forward 14 years. (Dayum, that seems like a long time.) I've had my degree, and the accomplishment, (and the debt) for 8 years. I have the same job I had when I graduated. I have many riches, but of course none of them are monetary.

This is okay. I don't have any regrets.

I stayed in this job because it allowed me the luxury of being a Dad, and a coach. Watching one's children grow up is a treasure you can't measure in dollar amounts and I'm glad I had that opportunity.

My kids are older now so I'm at a turning point of sorts...

I often wonder what I want to be when I grow up, and if I'll ever use this degree. Usually when I think I have an answer something changes or life takes some turn I hadn't anticipated and I get derailed.

I'm working on being more focused. I'm good at this if I have a deadline. Not so much if I don't.

I know I'm not alone in not "using" my degree. A lot of people don't use their degree. It's not at all out of the ordinary. And...

I think that's odd...

From the time we entered school our parents told us how important it was to go to college. Is that really true?

More and more it seems I look around and find successful people who either don't have a degree or don't use their degree at all. And...

I wonder how they got to that point, how they got there, how they found success?

How do I get there? Maybe I'm there already and I just don't know it.

How did you get there? Or, are you wondering like me?


I was grouchy when I woke up this morning. I was grouchy when I got to work. I was grouchy pretty much all morning.

I didn't really tell anybody. Nope - pasted on that customer service smile and dove into the day.

Just kept telling myself -"Nobody wants to hear about your problems Jim. Just suck it up."

I'm so happy I did. It has been a really good day.

I've had encouragement from friends, props from co-workers, and smiles and compliments from customers.

The back story is not what's important. What's important is that you all helped me and I am grateful.

You made keeping it positive all worthwhile.

Thank you!

See, it really is about all of us.

The Kids Said What?

Today, I'm playing along with my friend Cammie and her Thursday theme "The Kids Said What."

It's a cool way of remembering and sharing all of the cute things kids say when they are little that I won't get to play very often because I have teenagers who said all those cute things before there were blogs to record them in, and now only say things like: "Daddy, can I have some money?"

Recently however, we've had a couple of cute moments.

I'll start with D.

Two Sundays ago I slept until about 4:30 + or - (jealous Cammie?) in the afternoon. When I woke up, Annette and Delaney wanted to go to breakfast/lunch/dinner at Crackerbarrel. I think we called it "brlunner."

Anyway, I needed a shirt to wear, knew I wasn't going anyplace else that day and thought it would be a good idea to wear something different, something I hadn't worn in a while.

I reached way in the back of my closet and pulled out an OSHA orange Tommy Hilfiger shirt with a blue collar, blue sleeve cuffs, (what do you call those on a short sleeved shirt), and a piece of green material under the buttons.

Yeah this was a pretty old shirt, but it was one of my favs way back when so I put it on to go to brlunner.

"What's with the shirt?" D said when I went downstairs.

In retrospect I should have known. Like most Dads my girls alternate between wanting to steal my clothes and wishing I would wear something, anything else than what I have on. D usually falls in the latter camp.

She didn't say much else, but just kept looking at me with eyes that were almost chanting:

"What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt"

About halfway through brlunner I looked down and thought to myself:

What's with the shirt?

I washed it and put it in the goodwill bag when I got home.

Thanks D!

Last week Thursday we visited K at the fair. She couldn't wait to take us to one vendor who was selling CD's where cartoon characters sing your child's name a number of times within the context of their regular songs. Veggie Tales and Sesame Street are the popular choices.

K's favorite is Elmo. Yes, she is 16.

Yes her younger sister was laughing at her the whole time.

No, I cannot adequately explain the sheer joy you could hear as K jumped up and down listening to Elmo sing her name.

I was taken back in time as I heard my little girl say: "Elmo said my name Daddy. Elmo said my name," all the while jumping up and down ecstatically.

The Kids said what?

Where I Learn Things

I subscribe to a weekly email newsletter from Chris Brogan that provides a more personal perspective on social media. Monday, Chris had a great idea about sharing. In the sidebar of my blog there's a whole list of blogs I read and follow that I call "Where I Learn Things." You may have noticed this list. You might have even followed a link or two. Today, I'd like to share more about few of the blogs on my list, and how they influence me - you know "the whys and whatnots."

Each week I'll try and share more of my list. Perhaps you could share your list with me too, and then we can share our lists with everybody, and then they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on. (70's flashback commercial moment there - sorry.)

Oh, and before I forget Go subscribe to Chris' newsletter. If you're interested in effective use of social media Chris should be one of your primary resources. He's also a heckuva nice guy who cares about his audience. He even makes this old geek feel important, and relevant in a land I've only been a part of for about a year.

More about my list - For flat out grins and laughter, with a touch of what life is like for all of us sometimes, I read Cammie's blog at The House of No Sleep. A warning to the fellas, Cammie talks about some girly stuff from time to time, but after reading this post - I couldn't not tune in everyday to follow the goings on in The House of No Sleep.

I started following the thoughtLEADERS blog after I saw Mike Figliuolo speak at the 2009 Ohio Growth Summit. I was really impressed with his talk about leadership and I could tell he would be someone I could learn from. Netter had kind of an "I told you so" moment here as she had been following Mike for quite some time on Twitter, and knew before I did how impressed I would be. Yep. You got me Honey.

Another blog I've been following pretty closely lately belongs to Ms. Single Mama. Though I am not single, and I am not a Mama I have been really touched by this blog. It is just a well written, positive commentary about life and the things we can accomplish if we believe in ourselves and don't give up. I haven't yet met the author of this incredible story, but I sure would like to someday.

I have been fortunate enough to meet and have coffee with the authors of two other blogs I've added to my list since the Ohio Growth Summit. I'm working on another post about those meetings, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go read their blogs in the interim.

Nate Riggs is a master at communicating and connecting, especially for business marketing. Everytime I read one of Nate's posts I come away thinking - Wow! That's a great idea. How can I do something like that myself, or how can I improve what I'm doing from what Nate just taught me?

Angela Siefer founder of The Shiny Door is a social media genius who is jazzed about making the power of the online world accessible to everybody. Need an inspiring story - Check out Angela's.

See, I told you.

I want to close today by telling you about somebody who keeps falling in and out of my list because he only blogs intermittently. I wish he would blog more, and more consistently. (Maybe he'll get the hint if I call him out here? ;-) Gregor is not only a fellow geek, he is also a mentor and friend, who is very focused on finding ways to get things done more efficiently, and more importantly seeing that they are done with positive outcomes.

Greg and I were talking a few weeks ago and discussing the importance of relationships in social media, about building positive outcomes, and keeping things balanced. We talked about how much we love the conversations we find ourselves in on Facebook, or Twitter, or even here in blog land, sharing thoughts, and ideas, and...

Hmmm... Sharing - just like Mom taught us. It really is a good idea.

What do you want to share today? Tell me about the list of folks you follow.