Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reminiscent Reminder

Going back through my old blog posts has shown me a few things. First, how bad a writer I can be. Second, how nice it is to see the kids' schedules.

Being in the thick of it for so long, it's easy to forget what JD ate when he was a year old (or two or three.) Reading about how Bunny used to push herself around the floor when she was a baby and then would cruise around on furniture when she as seven or eight months old.

Even more than that, what time they would wake up, what they would eat for breakfast, and all of the routine, dare I say, "The mundane."

I don't know if I ever talked about my walks to and from school with LL or Cricket and how that formed lasting friendships.

Did I ever write about the things that the kids would bring home after school or how they behaved at drop off and pickup?

There is no way to capture everything, but as I look back, I get a reminder of how much things have changed. So often, the days feel so melted into one another, it feels as if there is no transition. In the meantime, major things happen at regular intervals that pushes our evolution. From the end of a day, week or month to school, camp, and interactions with various babysitters and extracurricular activities, there is a great of change in our lives.

Can I capture everything? No.

But maybe if I simply make small comments about life, they will pay big dividends later. For instance, instead of waiting for great inspiration to write an entry, just list some current events. The book we read every night or the night time routine.

Oh, the other thing I meant to mention is how embarrassed I am at how I left reader comments without reply nearly 100% of the time. That is awful. I plan to remedy that in the future. Thank you all who have left feedback. It always makes me smile and grateful that people appreciate my perspective and feel compelled to add to my discussion.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Road Trip 2013

Grand Marais, MI; Baltimore Maryland. All in two weeks.

I have been going to Grand Marais, MI since I was eight months old. In fact, I went there every summer from eight months until I was around 26 and every other year since. When I come around the bend that leads me down the hill that feeds into downtown, something inside me feels like I've come home.

I am taking the kids there for a week. The drive from Chicago is around 430 miles.

When I get back, it will be about 24 hours before I turn around and drive to Baltimore, MD. There, we are staying a couple of days with our friends, the Crickets. Over the weekend, we'll meet up with Wife's family for a cousin's wedding reception.

That drive is a little over 700 miles.

No holding back: I'm getting a little worried about all of that driving. When I planned it, I thought, No big deal! Now that it's upon me, the butterflies are fluttering.

Actually, I'm not entirely sure what I'm worried about. Perhaps it's the unknown. In many ways, it will be great. The kids will get to read and watch DVDs while I am planning on downloading some music and audiobooks. I love NPR and hope to get a few episodes of A Prairie Home Companion, The Moth, and some David Sedaris. Perhaps I will get some Louis C.K. comedy, but only when the kids are sleeping or watching a movie.

That makes me feel better. There is also the fatigue factor. I have driven long distances, but it has been a while. My body is not conditioned for driving as it once was. My driving has been reduced to around 8- or 9,000 miles per year. That's not nothing, but ask a car commuter and he or she will scoff at those numbers. There are at least one or two days per week when the key to the ignition does not get turned. And those are weekdays.

(As I am writing this, I feel myself slouching in my chair and force myself to straighten up, strengthening my core which will serve me well on the road.)

More on my road trips as they get closer. Right now, I have to get ready to go golfing!


Spreadsheets have become my new friend. From organizing themes to help write a book to making lists for my upcoming road trips, they have become a go-to medium.

I used to word process everything. So inefficient!

And, I use Google Drive. That way, I can access any of these lists at any time with my phone. Fun!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Using Search Engine Optimization for PR

I find it very interesting that the last few times I have typed a recipe into Google search, it has returned one of Paula Deen's recipes in the top five results.

Someone is doing a very good job making sure that her name appears often and in a good light.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spreadsheet Discovery!

I love when I figure out alarmingly simple and intuitive procedures on my technological devices.

Recently, I mentioned that I am working on writing my Downtown Dad book. My cousin had a great idea for a spreadsheet to match blog entries with themes.

My problem began when I began creating columns that ran off the screen, then rows that made it impossible to see the column headings. Drat! There must be a way I can make the column headings remain visible as I scroll down the spreadsheet!

None of the drop-down menus helped me. Curses! I thought and continues my research.

At some point, I had the spreadsheet at the very top. Bordering A1 was a shaded line. Hmmm, I wondered. What is that for? So I moused the arrow over that area when the arrow turned into a hand!

First, I moved the horizontal line down. Then the moment of truth: I used the wheel on the mouse to scroll down the page. The headings remain! I repeat, the headings remain!

Later, I realized that it would be helpful to keep the entry names visible when scrolling horizontally through the columns. Success again!

Two things to consider:
If you think you've had an original thought, you haven't read enough. (Citation needed.)
How that statement applies to this setting: if you want the technology to do something for you, it probably does because people a lot smarter than you developed the stuff.

Second, if you don't try to make things happen, then nothing will happen. Don't be afraid of mistakes. If I had been afraid of making a mistake, I may not have discovered my new friend, the ability to keep various columns and rows visible while scrolling to other parts of the spreadsheet.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I've started my Downtown Dad book. However, I'm kind of blocked. Here are some reasons I think I'm having a hard time getting going.

First, I'm not sure how the book is going to move. I guess I've decided that it will move thematically, not chronologically. How do I choose the themes? Should I find one of the themes and just start writing about it and let the other themes just come to me?

Actually, that makes a lot of sense. I could start with the basics of being a parent and move from there.

Some of the themes I'm considering include marriage, being a guy in a traditionally female role, keeping the house, friendship dynamics, and child development.

I guess that's a start. Start writing about whatever. Keep separate files for each section, then put it all together later.

That's one of my problems - trying to attack a project all at once instead of a manageable amount at a time. For instance, I have a couple of projects pending: repainting the iron patio furniture and the side iron gates, washing the outside windows, and organizing and building shelving in the garage.

So far, I started the patio furniture. Bought the supplies. Scraped the chairs and table, then wiped them down. Then primed them. Wow, that took a lot longer than I thought! Painting each chair takes a long time! Ugh, the guy at the hardware store was way off how much paint I would need - need two more buckets! Oh, shit, it's going to rain tonight? And tomorrow? Then friends are coming from out-of-town? So now, there are chairs and a table upside-down on the back deck that have been sitting there for a week-and-a-half.

Hindsight tells me that I should have just started with one or two chairs at a time. It is a project that I've never done before, so I didn't really realize what the time frame would be. I suppose the two hours that I set aside for it was not nearly enough. C'est la vie. Actually, such is MY life.

And, going back to my project list, the longer it takes me to finish the patio furniture, the longer it will be until I get to the windows and the garage. Yikes! And it's not like that will be the end.

Back to writing. So I am going to start by opening a new page and just start writing about it. Who cares if it's a piece of shit. It's a start. I can always fix it or start fresh later. Running a marathon begins with the first step.