Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Browns are going to the Super Bowl


My youngest daughter and I went for a little bike ride this morning while my wife took our older daughter shopping. We rode past a pee wee football game in progress and my daughter commented that it must be the Vikings and the Packers practicing. You can't really blame her since one team was purple and the other green. As a kindergartner, she just doesn't comprehend that at least a few of the Vikings and Packers are bigger than 4th graders.

I was impressed that she identified two NFL teams based on the color of their jerseys though. Then again, maybe I should be surprised. We do live in Minnesota so we see an awful lot of Vikings jerseys throughout football season. We also have a lot of friends and family who live in, or have lived, in Wisconsin so there is also a lot of Packers jerseys around us. She didn't get either from me though.

I realize I may have my man-card temporarily suspended for saying this, but I couldn't care less who wins the next game. It's not because I'm boycotting the NFL for their ridiculous policies. It's because I really don't care. It's not just the NFL either. I'm just not a big fan of watching a game on tv. Get me to a game in person and I'll have a blast. 

I don't have any real team loyalty either. During my 42 years on this planet, I have lived in Texas for about two decades, Wisconsin for a decade and now Minnesota for a decade. Growing up, I loved the Cowboys. They were a great team with outstanding players (morally and by abilities) and they were a winning team. Then I moved to Wisconsin and started rooting for the Packers. They were a good team with a good bunch of guys as well. My loyalty to them ended when I moved back to Texas for another decade. 

By then, the Cowboys were in the news more because of legal troubles and arrests. I figured if the players themselves were that bad off the field, why should I care what they were doing on the field. They were just a bunch of overgrown children - kinda like a number of NFL players lately. 

When I moved to Minnesota, where I've now been for another decade, I just couldn't bring myself to root for the Vikings. I'll support them as the local team, but really don't care if they win or lose. I will admit that I'm a little bit torn whenever they play the Packers because I do still like the Packers....just not enough to be considered an real fan of theirs. 

This year I am going to try something new. I'm going to root for the underdog. I did a quick bit of research...Well, I had to because I don't keep up with football. What I learned was that the Cleveland Browns are on the bottom of pretty much everyone's list in terms of odds of winning anything. That's good enough for me. I am now a Browns fan....at least until they start winning. If that happens, I'll find a different team to cheer for. I'm going to be the ultimate bad weather fan. 

Who knows...having a non-caring fan like me might be all they need to take it all the way to the Super Bowl. Until next time....

A brief apology, after a lengthy annoyance.

Hello, my name is Tim Clark. I write a series of blogs, and am not really sure why. +Jesse Zahrt has been kind enough to let me write a post on his blog, explaining my blogs, and I am not really sure why. But, here goes.

If you know me, you know I like everybody, and if you don't know me, well, I like everybody. And I want everybody to be happy. I just don't want them doing it around me too long. People make me uncomfortable. Small talk is a minefield, and sooner or later one small misstep will create an explosion. And it will land mostly one me. So, I try to avoid it, at all costs.

Last week, for example, some of our co-workers from the New York office were in town for some meetings. I went to get some water in the kitchen and all three of them were standing around a box of bagels, enjoying a small meal before attending their meeting.

I was trapped, there was no hope of escape.  They had seen me, and it would have been rude to turn and run.

"Have a bagel." One of them said.

"Sure, breakfast is the most important meal of the day." I said, trying to sound cheerful, don't show fear, they will recognize the emotion and then all is lost. But, I was stuck. They were all looking at me, expecting more. I had to think fast.

"I think they are all pretty important, though. Discrimination is a mistake. Lunch sets the tone for a productive, happy afternoon..."  And I went on and on about how each meal had its own special place, how each snack was sacred. For fifteen minutes, or more, I lost track of time.

But, by the time I finished, they had left for the meeting. When I was telling my wife this story that same night, she got up and went to bed, before I could even get to the inherent value of yogurt and granola as a late night snack.

That is why I blog, because it is easier than conversing, and pretty much how I blog, at great length, much ado about nothing, so to speak. If you are interested, the links are below, and if you are a little steamed about the time wasted reading this blog, I apologize, And if you are undecided, join the club.

Thank you,

Tim


<<<<<  average jester note  >>>>>

Many thanks to Tim from over at Life Explained for working a guest post in here at average jester. I say this this because he writes for like 142 different blogs. I'm pretty sure he's actually an artificial intelligence mainframe somewhere rather than a living, breathing person. He is also gracious enough to let me write on a few of his blogs from time to time. Check out his page and you'll find links to most of his other pages in his author bio. Thanks again Tim!




Friday, September 23, 2016

Virtual Man in the Real World


I am about to reach the two year anniversary marking my jump into the world of Information Technology. At face value, it looks like I went from selling one type of hardware to another. Then again, that wouldn't really be true of either my old Ace Hardware days or my current position at a manged IT services provider. Both positions are more about the services provided than the actual hardware sold. 

Going into the IT world, I knew enough about technology to get myself in trouble. I guess technically that's still about the same except that now I know how to get myself into bigger trouble. Don't worry though, I'm not a technician. I work more on the customer service side of the Service department. 

One of the biggest things I learned had to do with virtualization. I'm not talking about virtual reality, virtual servers or even a virtual desktop. I am talking about virtual people. Yep. You heard me right. Virtual people now exist. If I had know about them, I might have made the jump into the IT world sooner. 

We have a "guy" called the Virtual Chief Information Officer, or vCIO for short. You wouldn't believe what this guy can do. I haven't read the complete specs on him yet, but I have a general idea of what he's made of. 

I'm pretty sure he has a rather large solid state hard drive in his head because he seems to know everything and is very dependable. I even test him on a daily basis by throwing off-the-wall questions his way and he responds with an answer every time. They're usually even correct answers. 

I'm not sure how much RAM (random access memory) he has, but it's gotta be a lot. He remembers everything...and with incredible detail. My memory is pretty much just random and not all that accessible at times. 

The graphics card in this guy has to be pretty amazing too. His penmanship alone has outstanding resolution. If I hadn't seen him physically write a note myself, I would have assumed he typed it. I'm not sure how good his webcam is these days because he is an older model. I've never seen him walk into a wall or anything, so it must still be operating properly.

He has a decent power cell as well. I've never personally seen him charging, but I think that only happens on the weekends because he seems to be running all week long as far as I can tell. 

All in all, he's everything you could ask for in a virtual person. I think the only upgrade that might be needed at this point is a better network card. It seems like we're pushing a little too much information through him lately and he could benefit from more bandwidth capabilities. The communication is there, but the information is being throttled causing network lag. 

It's one thing to have a single virtual employee, but I'm excited for a larger virtual workforce. Just think of how few password reset requests we'll get once virtual employees become commonplace. Speaking of passwords, here's a free IT tip for you: Use complex passwords and change them often. 

I'll even give you my view on why this tip is so important. It's not because a frequently changing, complex password is hard for others to figure out. The real key is that it's almost impossible for you to remember. If you can't remember your password, then it can't be socially engineered out of you. Because believe it or not, the human being is the biggest threat to network security. That's all the more reason we need more virtual employees. 

If you're still worried about forgetting your password - stop worrying. Google knows all of them and will tell you if you ask real nice. Until next time....



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Grated Cheese


My second grade daughter was reading one of her chapter books to me this evening before she went to bed and a particular phrase jumped out at me - "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I mention this because it gives me an almost plausible excuse for borrowing a play out of a fellow blogger's playbook. (Some would call it plagiarism, but my attorney says I should use a less harsh word to describe it.) Anyway...

A wonderful gal by the name of Diane Lynn writes a blog called The Gratitude Letters. She was kind enough to point out that today is World Gratitude Day. I figured if she could write letters of gratitude on a consistent recurring basis, the least I could do is attempt to do the same on this one special day of the year. Since I am well aware of my lack of ability to remain sincere and heartfelt through an entire post, I titled my post Grated Cheese. I hope to express a little gratitude, but I know it's going to be a little cheesy coming from me. Well here goes....

Dear Friend, 

I am extremely grateful for cheese. I love cheese. My love for cheese is nearly as strong as my love of peanut butter. Truth be told, they are technically equal as far as edible delights go, but I have to rank cheese a little ahead of peanut butter. The only reason for that is because I already admitted that I like to be cheesy and although it's a different type of cheese, I think it still applies and must be counted in the overall weighting of the two. 

Alright, this will get way too long if I single out different food items... Let's just say I love food. If food was able to prepare itself, that would be even better, but alas - it doesn't. Stupid, lazy food...

Maybe I should have listed my wife before food in my gratitude letter?? My wife is an amazing cook. Well, she's a really good cook, but since she cooks for me all the time, I think she's pretty amazing. She even cooks for my two little girls which I always thought was amazing until I realized that meant there was only enough food for me to have two helpings rather than the desired three or four helpings. I guess that's helping my health so I should probably be grateful for that too. Ok. I decided. I am very grateful for that too.

That makes me think of my girls now. I am extremely grateful for them as well. If it wasn't for them, I would have slept through the entire night last night when the thunderstorms rolled through. I hate it when I fall asleep and don't budge until morning. I really love it when I get to wake up in the middle of the night for some reason. (You may think I'm joking, but I actually do like that. It's like an added bonus because I wake up thinking it's almost morning only to find out there are still a number of glorious sleeping hours left in the night.)

Thinking of my wife and daughters reminded me that I am grateful for my family too...my entire extended family. Yes, there are a lot of good cooks in the extended family, but that's only part of the reason I am grateful for them. I am truly grateful that there are at least six or seven of them that read my blog posts on a regular basis. That's not too shabby considering there are only like 1826 people on my wife's side of the family alone. 

I am very grateful to have so many wonderful friends. I have always managed to maintain fewer, but stronger friendships over the years. Part of that is my fault for being a little on the introverted side. Part is also because I would rather have more quality time to spend with a few friends than a little time to spend with a lot of friends. Whatever the reason, I have really matured in that area. I'm already up to nearly 20 friends now in total. 

As you can see, I have a lot to be grateful for. More words would just make this letter longer and eat into my snack making time so I will bid you farewell for now. 

With cheese curds and peanut butter cups, 

Jesse Zahrt



Author's note: I am truly grateful for my loving family, amazing friends, good health and a great life in general. Also, I do in all seriousness completely love cheese and peanut butter...but not together. That would be gross. Until next time....

Monday, September 19, 2016

My heroes have always been good guys


When did the heroes stop being good guys? Or, more accurately, when did society stop recognizing the heroes as the good guys? I have been back and forth on how to write this post without it turning into a huge rant against a large portion of society and where our country has been heading lately. Then it came to me.... I am the average jester. An average guy, leading an average life as the average dad. The dad part got me thinking about how I would explain this concept to my girls. 

Batman vs. Superman
This recent movie is what started the gears going in my head. My gears are so well oiled that I didn't even have to see the movie to get them turning. (That's an admission - I haven't seen the movie.) I did a quick Google search to see how in the world - or universe since Superman is an alien - did Hollyweird come up with the idea to turn a good guy superhero into a bad guy. 

First of all, what little I know about the plot actually kinda-sorta makes since. The background is a fairly legitimate excuse to get them to go at each other, but I still don't like it. Second, I think the idea was fueled by our society and the media's (because I blame them for a lot) twisting of fact and igniting the hatefest that we have going on these days. (Don't get me started on how the media no longer reports on the news, but rather spins the stories to whatever they think the flavor of the day is.)

Basically, if Batman and/or Superman can be turned into villains, what's the point of the "good guy story" if you're going to wreck it anyway?!? Like I said...It aligns pretty closely to what you see on the news. 

To my girls I would say to continue to be the best they can be. Don't judge someone else by what the "group" or media says about them. People will reveal their true colors all by themselves. You will be able to make up your own mind in due time. 

Christianity (Jesus as the ultimate superhero) 
I can tell you without a doubt what my girls would say any time you asked them who they go to when they need help. They would say Jesus will help you. They'll still come running to mom for a more immediate answer, but their heart is in the right place. 

Our society has morphed the true meaning of tolerance into tolerating (and accepting) everything except Christianity...because Christians are supposedly so intolerant. Because of this backwards thinking, it's completely (apparently) justified to attack Christians for their beliefs, sue them for standing by their beliefs and then waste a bunch of time trying to remove the Ten Commandments from court houses and stop saying the pledge of allegiance. All because of words like "In God We Trust" or "Under God." 

This makes a group of people who believe in loving God and loving their neighbors the bad guys. I won't bother getting into all the bad guys that are apparently acceptable to society even though they are hell bent on killing us. 

As far as my girls are concerned, I will continue to raise them as God-fearing, loving people. The fact that they are learning from the ultimate guidebook lets me know they will be able to make the right decisions when I'm not there to help them decide. Nobody's perfect, but a solid base of right and wrong will definitely improve your ability to make the right decision. 

Law Enforcement
I remember local police officers handing out baseball and football cards to neighborhood kids while they were out on patrol. We loved cops. We knew they were (and still are) there to protect us. Heck, most of us wanted to be cops when we grew up. 

Now days though, it's all out war on law enforcement. They are literally being hunted down and assassinated. Our society, once again fueled by the media and a bunch of criminal supporters, stopped taking responsibility for our own actions and found others to blame - no matter how ridiculous the grounds are. We are bashing the real-life superheroes of today and making the criminals (villains) the victims. Apparently it doesn't matter if you bring it on yourself anymore. 

My girls understand the difference between right and wrong. They certainly know how to respect authority. They have known from a very early age that breaking a rule or going against the direction they were given will result in a consequence. It's not a difficult concept. Laws are laws. There is rarely a grey area between right and wrong. You commit the crime - expect to do the time.

Teachers
I love teachers, but I do have issues with the liberal agenda being forced on our children at an alarming rate. I will set that aside because no matter how valid that argument is to me, it's not the point I want to make about teachers. Teachers are being held accountable for the lack of parenting going on in our society today.

Your kid is failing - blame the teacher. Don't worry about the fact that they skip school, don't do their homework, run all over town into the late hours of the night and basically have to consequences for their actions because the parents don't set any expectation...much less enforce them. I realize that's a broad sweeping stroke, but it applies to the type of parents who would blame the teachers for their own poor parenting skills. Once again, a teacher should be a hero for all the work they do, but they are turned into the bad guys because of out of control and undisciplined kids. 

I am very fortunate that my girls absolutely love school. They are fortunate to have the greatest parents ever. Well, maybe not, but we certainly stay very involved in every aspect of their lives. We support the teachers who train them. We ensure they are completing the work they are supposed to do. We have further taught them that teachers are authority figures that are to be listened to and respected just as they would listen to us. 

So who's next?
If I had to put money on it, I would say the Firefighters are the next to be turned into villains. I can just picture the media coverage.... How dare they flood cause all that water damage on this low income family's home? I think they should sue the fire department for that. Never mind the fact the firefighters just saved their kids from a burning house. Or how about the nutcases that open fire on a crowd of people to prove that black lives matter. How dare those firefighters try and save those innocent victims - get 'em. 

I got nothing on this one for my girls. They understand firefighters will save you, but they just can't get past the super loud sirens. Those sirens rolling up on our house during a fire would terrify them far more than the raging inferno. I'll have to work on this one, but hopefully it doesn't become a need. 

Since you made it this far, I will give you the Cliff notes version: Be nice. Be respectful. Do good. Don't do bad. It's really not that hard to understand....or so I thought. Until next time....


A Brief History of Chaos




I am very honored that Jesse asked me to write a guest blog post here on average jester. My name is Scott Hanson, my blog is called Chaotic Kids & Clutter, and you can find it by clicking HERE (please do so often). It turns out that Jesse and I are pretty much the same person. We are both 42 years old. We both live in Minnesota. And we both blog about our lives and our kids and whatever other nonsense we can think of, although I currently have 4 kids, and I believe Jesse only has 2…perhaps that means that I am twice the man that he is, but that is just speculation on my part…

Chaotic Kids & Clutter started about 4.5 years ago, after my pastor encouraged me to start a blog while we were eating breakfast at Denny’s. He thought my incessant facebook posts were funny enough to warrant some longer ramblings. He clearly was delusional.  Not long before that I had read somewhere that the average blog has a readership of one person, which further proved that my pastor was insane for even mentioning it. I continued to think he was crazy until about 12 minutes after I got home from breakfast that day, when I sat down and wrote my first blog post (apparently I can be easily swayed by a man of God…).  Right from the start, I have written about whatever has popped into my head, most of which has revolved around my kids (did I mention that we have four…?), but could include anything and everything. When people ask what kind of blog I have, I sometimes tell them that it’s part humor blog, part parenting blog, and part desperate plea for help. I think that explains things about as succinctly as possible.

I will mention that Chaotic Kids & Clutter was fortunate enough to win the prestigious Best Kept Secret Blog award at the 2014 Bloggie Awards, and it was nominated for the same award in 2015. I am extremely proud of both nominations, and frankly don’t understand how it got nominated either time, but I will gladly accept the accolades.

I will also mention that, if you do happen to read some of my posts on Chaotic Kids & Clutter, you should know the cast of characters I write about. First of all, I am me. Second of all, my wife is known as The Wife. Our kids are, in order of age: The Girl, age 7; The Boy, age 6; The Little One, age 4; and The Baby, age 0. We also have two annoyingly yippy dogs named Toby and Gromit. For some reason I have never deemed it necessary to give them aliases. Or is it alii…?

So, this was a brief history of Chaotic Kids & Clutter. If you check it out, I hope you like what you see. And if you like what you see, I hope you tell all your friends and/or enemies and/or people you kind of know but not really. Oh, and I also have a fly-fishing themed blog called The Riffle. I have been an avid fly fisherman for 32 years, and have worked in and around the fly fishing industry for 15. If you are at all interested in learning a little more about that coolest of outdoor sports, please check out The Riffle. Thanks! And thanks, Jesse! I hope you don't regret having me as a guest blogger!


<<<<<  average jester note  >>>>>

I want to thank Scott from over at Chaotic Kids & Clutter for taking the time to guest post here on average jester. It's fun to open up my writing space to fellow bloggers that I enjoy reading. Scott is actually the first blogger I ever officially followed (not in a creepy stalker way) when I first got the idea bouncing around in my head to start my own blog. I have enjoyed his writing style and humor ever since. If you enjoy what you see here on average jester, I strongly encourage you to check out his work. Thanks again Scott!   ~Jesse

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Tall Tales - The Sequel and Video Evidence


A few days ago, I wrote a post titled "Tall Tales" where I explained my 5 year old's unique manner of telling stories. (Technically she's 5-3/4 years old. She will hold you to that if you say she's only 5.) I mentioned in that post that I was going to try and get video evidence of one of her rambling stories. 

Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that I would accomplish this mission in less than a week. In fact, I got two videos recorded today. One and a half if you consider the fact that I didn't manage to start recording the second story until she was halfway into her story. Without further ado, here are two videos of her storytelling abilities:

#1 - This video was shot with her full consent. On the walk home from church this morning, she rambled on about why she loves Fall. I asked if she would be willing to tell me the story again while I recorded it. She said fine, but had some stipulations. The video shoot had to take place on our front sidewalk, sitting in her favorite blue chair and facing in a specific direction. Here's her explanation of why she loves Fall with an example from last year:




#2 - This 2nd video was shot in semi-stealth mode. She started telling a story about playing in the snow with her sister last year while they were attempting to build a snow fort. After she started her story, my wife handed me my phone (to record the story) and I pretended to be checking my phone while she continued her story, but secretly recording her story. As you will see at the end, my spy abilities need some work. Here it is: 




I hope you enjoyed these short stories from the youngest story teller in our family. I still wish I could get some implants in my eyes to allow the automatic recording of everything I saw throughout the day. If nothing else, video #1 is at least video proof that my sample story in the original "Tall Tales" blog post was pretty dead on in terms of her repeating and clarifying throughout the story telling process. Until next time....

Friday, September 16, 2016

The person behind the data


Big data is a really big deal these days. It's really not all that hard to gather data in the first place, but knowing how to analyze the data and what to do with it is another story. Blogging is no different. There is an abundance of data at your fingertips even with an out of the box analytics platform. In a matter of seconds, you can see who is visiting your blog, what country they're from, what operating system they're using and a whole mess of other metrics. 

Of course to really analyze the data, you have to do a little tweaking and filtering to get data that's of any real value. Don't worry, I'm not going to get into that process today. It's just my long winded way of getting to what I really wanted to talk about today. I want to look at what you may choose to measure and why - rather than how to make sure your numbers are legitimate. [Spoiler Alert] My number is 9, but I'll get to that later.

People start blogging for many different reasons and those reasons may not even be the same reasons they are still blogging today. The reason why you blog also relates to the kind of data you monitor and how you measure "success" in general. Here's a "quick" rundown of why you may choose to start blogging and/or keep blogging. 

Money
Oh, this is a good one. Many folks out there see blogging as a way to make loads of money while getting to work from home. Being able to type away and throw some content up on the web seems like a pretty slick way to grow that bank account. It might even be a jumping pad for a writer hoping to gain an audience for an upcoming book they're working on. 

That's a great reason for some, but not for me. I never had plans to monetize my blog. I'm not saying I wouldn't be thrilled to make a living off writing one day, but it wasn't (and still isn't) a driving force in my desire to write or why I continue to blog. That and I'm too lazy to start using proper grammar and complete sentences...or stop using run-on sentences for that matter. (Or horrible punctuation...the list goes on and on and on...) 

Views
With hundreds of millions of blogs out there, getting someone to actually read yours is a pretty big deal. No matter how much people (myself included) say they write for themselves and don't care about gaining popularity, it's still more enjoyable when you know people are actually reading what you write. 

This is part of why I love writing on a few blogs other than my own these days. It gives me a chance to "borrow" some readers from other bloggers for a while and even add a few readers to my own blog. This still isn't a major motivator for me though...at least not by itself. On a related note, my page views stayed about the same even after expanding the number of blogs I write on. 

Likes
So you actually got them to your site and reading your posts - and it feels pretty good. That's assuming you also look at the time-on-page metrics to know they were actually there long enough to have read at least some of your post. The "likes" you get add a little reassurance that some people are enjoying what you're writing. 

Since I started writing on more sites recently, I have noticed an uptick in likes overall - which is fun. It adds a little motivation...but still not the number I jump up and down about. 

Comments
Ok. Now we're starting to get warm. Views tell you how many people showed up...assuming you're filtering out the bots and ghost hits. Likes tell you people are enjoying what they're reading...at least enough to click a button. Comments though...those take a little bit of actual effort on your reader's part. I know this is going to come as a bit of a shock, but the actual words people use in their comments give you insight into whether or not they actually liked it. It's almost like talking to someone. Wow, right??

I have noticed a significant jump in comments since broadening my tromping grounds. This was a really exciting change of events. It showed me that deep down I was looking for interaction rather than just writing for myself as some means of personal therapy. Comments are high on my list, but really just pointing towards my favorite part - the biggest driving force that has me itching to write again each day. That would be...

People
Making new friends from around the world has been the biggest joy to date. To me it's more about the people behind the data than the numbers the data is providing. I said earlier that my magic number was 9. I came to that number based on the fact that I've developed some pretty fun relationships with 8-10 new people in the last couple of months because of blogging. These "relationships" range from frequent back and forth banter to actually writing on each other's blogs. 

We may not be dropping by each other's houses or meeting up for coffee or a beer, but we're getting a more in depth look into each other's lives through comments and extremely witty banter. Well, sometimes it's witty anyway. 

Shameless Plug (another benefit of appreciating fellow bloggers)
When I was toying with the idea of blogging, I checked out a few blogs to see what was out there. One of the first blogs I stumbled across was Chaotic Kids & Clutter written by Scott. Not only is Scott a bit of a goofball like myself, he is also the same age as me, married with kids (like me) and living in Minnesota (also like me). If you like anything I write, I encourage you to check him out. Chaotic Kids is still on my required reading list. Maybe I should try and get the guy to do a guest post over on average jester?? Until next time friends....

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tall Tales


Spinning a yarn. Twisting the truth. Lying. Fibbing. Telling a tall tale. There are a lot of labels placed on something that's not completely true or is in some way, shape or form a fabrication. So where is the line drawn between a dishonest falsehood and creating a fictional tale?

I think it's fair to say we all stretch the truth from time to time. Sometimes it's done to make a story a little more interesting. Other times it may be to steer the listener's thoughts in the direction you want them to go. Regardless of the many reasons we choose to alter the strictest of facts, there seems to be an unwritten rule or line drawn somewhere outlining those tales that are acceptable and those that are outright lies. (At least I haven't been able to find that rule written anywhere.)

My youngest daughter is quite the little story teller. Any "little" story she tells about her day turns into a 20 minute description of events. I think of them as tall tales from a short girl. Don't get me wrong though - she's a terrible liar. She has no ability to stick to a lie and really sell it. In fact, on the very few occasions she tries, you can tell she's about to tell a fib because it's clear on her face that she is completely uncomfortable about it...which makes me proud. I'm talking more about her actual story telling technique. 

She tells a story like Tom Clancy. I absolutely love the movies made from his books, but I will admit I rarely read the books themselves. It's not that I don't enjoy them, I just get lost. I remember one book of his many years ago where the main character approached a door and was determining the best way to gain entry. He looks at the door and then goes into the most intricate details of the color, texture and material it's made of. He then goes on to describing how the door was manufactured and the specific hardware and lockset used in its construction. There may have even been a flashback to encountering a similar door in years past. All I remember is that after three pages of reading about the door, I couldn't remember where the door was located anymore and had to re-read the last three pages. (That may have been a little exaggerated, but I think you get the idea.) 

Today my daughter was trying to tell us that one of her classmates fell asleep at the lunch table. What could have been, "During lunch I looked over at James and he had fallen asleep during lunch," ended up being: (Note: I will shorten the story dramatically so you don't have to read for 20 minutes.) 

"The other day in school - where I go to Kindergarten..the same school my sister goes to...because we go to the same school now. Well, that day, I was in the lunch room and James was there. We were at the same table...at school - where we go to school... the same school as my sister. James and I were looking at each other - across from each other, but on the same side. We could see each other, but we were next to each other - looking at each other, because we could see each other on the same side - not different sides of the table. Then I saw James was asleep."

I was afraid to clarify any details. Not being able to show you the arm motions she used throughout the story really take something away from the overall enjoyment of the story. I keep telling my wife we need to videotape our supper conversations because this is a nightly occurrence. 

Some of her stories get filled with clearly fabricated "facts" she adds for flare, but it really does add something to her story. I see her imagination as a good thing, but something that needs direction. She has the potential to use her gift for good and become a writer one day or (hopefully not) use it for evil and go into politics. I take this as a great responsibility as I help guide her to make the right choice. Until next time....

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Everything In Moderation



I am toying with the idea of writing for yet another blog and it got me thinking about how much is too much. The blog I'm considering writing for, Get ConnectDAD, is written by a bunch of fathers. It's a great concept based on 52 traits that we like to see in our kids. I think it's right up my ally as long as I have time to stay on top of it.

A number of things in life are best enjoyed in moderation. Some examples would be eating, drinking and paying bills. Eating too much can lead to obesity, heart disease and death. Drinking too much alcohol kills brain cells, causes liver damage and gives you an unwanted reputation at the company Christmas party. Paying too many bills is really boring and has a negative affect on your bank account.

What about blogging though - is there such a thing as too much? As far as I'm concerned, if you have content and time - write. If you have content but no time, get rid of lesser important things like bill paying to free up time to write. If for some crazy reason you have time but no content, open your eyes a little more. Ideas are everywhere you look.

The only downside I would see is trying to crank out too many posts and having your blog quality deteriorate. I know a number of bloggers who write for ten or more blogs - successfully. I only write for about half that number today so I know it's quite possible to add more.

I find having multiple blogs to write for very handy. I never intended to force my own blog into a specific niche, but it still ended up being a general personal blog. I get a number of ideas that don't quite fit my average jester blog and these other blogs I write for come in handy in those instances.

So that brings me back to whether or not to add another blog to my writing arsenal. I am torn because I love the idea of Get ConnectDAD, but the content I would write there matches the heavy "dad with daughters" undertone of average jester. I might just be a little selfish this time and keep those ideas on my own blog. No matter what I end up doing, I encourage you to check out their site because the overall idea is awesome. I know I'm going to be following them.

Of course that means I will now probably start looking for another blog that isn't quite as similar as my own and is also willing to let me add a little average to it. Until next time....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stupid is as stupid does


I had every intention of writing a post about Grammar Nazis today, but that got sidetracked after a little conversation with my eldest daughter this evening. It's a shame because I was really looking forward to analyzing what the grammatically elite must think about the comment feeds on social media. I swear some people must make an intentional effort to butcher their grammar....even worse than some of what I do on my blog.

My second grade daughter was in an "extremely over-tired" mood this evening and started having a bit of a tantrum. Being tired and cranky is one thing, but when she really starts taking it to the extreme I know something else is bothering her as well.

So, in amazing fatherly fashion, I patted her on the back and said, "There, their, there honey. It will be ok." (Sorry. I wanted to use that in my Grammar Nazi post.)

What I actually did was try to ignore her comments and actions because (at first) it appeared she was just looking for attention. Her mood then shifted a little bit and she started going on and on about how I should call her "Stupid" from now on. She went on to explain that she didn't deserve to be called by her real name, Ziva, because it means brilliant - and she doesn't deserve that because she's stupid.

First of all, her name means brilliant, radiant, light of God. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was a different use of the word brilliant. The fact that she understood brilliant to mean really smart was...well....smart of her. Telling her she was misinterpreting the real meaning of her name would just add fuel to her "I'm stupid" rant.

Secondly, and probably more important to point out, she's actually very bright. I am more than willing to be the braggart dad and say I'm extremely proud of how smart she is. She's been reading chapter books since shortly after kindergarten and doing math problems that could have her balancing my checkbook. (The numbers always stay small there anyway.) Basically, she's not stupid.

I know she was just saying this to get my attention and because stupid is a "bad" word in our house. I'm guilty of saying it from time to time and I'm always met with a chorus of "Mommy! Daddy said stupid." She's also just "smart" enough to push the limits while she's already doing something that's going to probably end up with a consequence anyway.

As it turns out, she was upset about her name itself. Apparently there are a number of times throughout the day at school where they line up in alphabetical order. As you can see by my profile, my last name is Zahrt. That means that my daughter gets the end of the line regardless of whether they line up based on first or last name.

She was to upset to entertain the idea that the teacher might choose reverse alphabetical order sometimes. Or, how the kids with the "m" or "n" names feel since they are always in the middle and never get to be first. I am fairly certain teachers have learned how to accommodate for this over the years so I'm not worried, but getting her to understand that though is a little different story.

I then learned she has some classmates that are making fun of her for the "double Z" name as well. Whether or not this is really happening or she's just spinning a yarn like her old man, it's something she needs to learn how to deal with. If it's not this, it will be "four eyes" because of her glasses, "klutz" because she is growing faster than her motor skills can keep up or some other kid-created taunt. It's unfortunate, but that's life.

I have a little sign hanging by my desk at work that says, "Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it." I'm going to work on teaching that to her tomorrow. It would be a lost cause to try tonight in her tired state. Knowing her, she will do a pretty good job of understanding the concept and that letting it get her all worked up is just...well...stupid. Until next time....

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day


Three day weekends are a wonderful opportunity to get together with family and friends. Labor Day has the added bonus of letting many of us get that last excursion completed before the end of summer. But that's not really what Labor Day is about. Just like Memorial Day isn't about having another three day weekend.

Where I get confused is what we're really supposed to be doing for specific holidays. Mother's Day, for example, is a day to celebrate all that Mom does. Most of us try and make that a day that she doesn't have to do all the things she does any other day of the year like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. In reality though, it often just ends up meaning she will do more work the day before and/or the day after to stay caught up.

Labor Day is very similar. Many of us get a three day weekend and don't have to go into work on Labor Day. For many of us though, it just means one less day in the week where you still need to get the same amount of work done.

So what are we supposed to do on Labor Day? Get together with family and friends and avoid any kind of manual labor at all costs? Or is it the opposite and we use the bonus day to do a bunch of labor around the house that has been getting neglected?

I personally have chosen a mix of the two. Believe it or not, I did a little bit of vacuuming and laundry today...a very rare occurrence in our household (for me to be doing it anyway). Although it was a lot less physically demanding than most of the things usually on my to-do list, I wouldn't ever want to trade roles with my wife permanently. I will be grilling this afternoon to enjoy some family time.

There are of course all the moms-to-be out there who take Labor Day to the extreme and are currently in labor about to give birth to a child. Those are the unsung heroes of today if you ask me. Sure, childbirth is hard and all, but the real kicker is they don't let you grill in the delivery room. That has to be terribly frustrating.

Well, however you are spending to day, have fun. Be smart and safe, but have fun. Remember, there's very little today that you can't put off until tomorrow, so try not to work too hard today. It is supposed to be a day to celebrate all the accomplishments of the labor force afterall. Until next time....

Friday, September 2, 2016

Men At Work


There's a meme that floats around on social media that I see every couple of months. It may have a different picture associated with it each time, but the message is always the same. It points out that men always put up construction barriers and "men at work" signs whenever they're working to draw attention to the fact that they're actually doing something.

There is a large number of men and women who have an amazing talent for appearing to be working yet not really doing anything at all. This topic came up recently. I won't say where, when or why it came up, or who mentioned it, because I don't really feel like pointing fingers quite that deliberately. Let's just say, we all know people like this and they can all feign offense even though I'm not pointing out anyone in particular. 

There is an 80/20 rule that seems to apply to many things in life. Even though I know all of you take everything I say as the rock solid truth, I Googled it anyway. It's called the Pareto principle. The idea behind it is that for many things, "roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes." I've heard it used in my years of retail sales where about 20% of our customers provided about 80% of our total income. Or, how 80% of wealth (and the associated taxes) are the responsibility of about 20% of the population.

I believe (so it must be true) that the same applies to the workforce. Roughly 20% of the workers do 80% of the work. Now, you may be thinking that's not possible because there's no way the 80% slacker workforce would keep there jobs. That's just not true because many of them understand the "appear to be working" principle. 

If you have the ability to appear to be working, producing and/or adding value of some sort while actually doing next to nothing, then you fall into the 80%. You probably even think you're pretty smart and "putting one over on the man." In reality though (which I think we're drifting away from a little more each year), you're only fooling yourself. 

Eventually, you are weeded out and you have to learn how to appear productive at a different job. That's the easy part though. The harder part, which I think is hilarious, is that you're probably expending more energy trying to appear busy that if you were to just do your job in the first place. The other kicker is that it has to make your days drag on when you're doing nothing all day. I don't know about you, but for me, my busiest days go by the fastest. 

I think you get the idea. It's about time for me to move onto some other activity. This whole looking busy writing a blog thing only lasts so long. Pretty soon my wife will realize that I'm not really being productive and find something for me to fix or clean. So, off I go to my next work avoidance activity. Until next time....


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Daughter Daylight Savings


How many alarms do you set in the morning? Back before the days of having an alarm clock app on my phone, I used to have two alarm clocks. My primary alarm clock had always been your typical plugin electronic clock. I always had a backup alarm clock that was battery powered as well. I hate being late, so I wasn't gong to take any chances that the power might go out and kill my primary alarm clock.

My favorite alarm clock from over the years had alarm sound settings for birds, babbling brook and ocean waves. You pick which sound you wanted and it would start out mild and gradually get louder and louder. The ocean waves, for example, would start out as a gentle lapping of the waves against the shoreline. If you didn't turn the alarm off, it would eventually sound like a hurricane is about to tear your room apart. 

I don't need any of those clocks anymore. Sure I still have an electronic clock near my bed with big red numbers on it, but that's so I can see what time it is when I happen to wake up in the middle of the night. Being able to glance at that is far less disruptive to my sleep pattern than having to go through all the trouble of swiping my smartphone screen to display the clock. I don't like to interrupt my beauty sleep any more than necessary because I can use all the beauty sleep I can get.

I have added two other alarm clocks to my arsenal in the forms of my two little girls. If you have kids, you know what I'm talking about. There is an apparent flaw with their timing though and I know it's not specific to them.

My girls (wife included since she works at a local school) have had an almost 4 month long summer break this year due to construction at multiple schools in town. They had an early release at the end of the school year and a late start this fall. Today was my wife's first in-service work day which meant the lazy summer schedule has come to an end. That is apparently the opposite of what my two youngest girls had in mind.

Like clockwork (pun totally intended), my two little darlings - without fail - will wake up around 5am every day of the summer and every Saturday throughout the year. That's assuming they don't decide to get up "early" and then it's more like 4am. 

This schedule magically changes if it's a school day or a Sunday and we're trying to get out the door for school, work or church. Today was no different. Today was the first non-Sunday, summer day in 4 months that both girls had to be dragged out of bed at 7am. What is with that? It's like my daughters have their very own version of daylight savings time. 

I don't think there is a cure for this. I have heard that the teen years will eventually shift into a "never want to wake up" mode, but I can deal with than. I would rather have to drag them out of bed as needed if I was assured I would be left alone on the select days when I can actually sleep in. 

Time will tell if that is true or not. Until then, I will just continue to lay in bed and pretend like I can't hear my girls hollering for me in the other room...or right in my ear. My wife eventually gets up and takes care of whatever it is they're wanting or needing anyway. Until next time....