Blog # 300!!

Another Milestone

Well, here it is – my 300th blog post. To be completely honest, I have a few more than 300, but some were kept private. So this is my 300th “published” blog. Over the past few blogs, I knew this milestone blog was coming, and wondered just how a blogger celebrates this kind of achievement. I found that most look back and reflect on stats.

I don’t know about doing that. Does it matter that the most popular day my blog is viewed is Thursday? Are you impressed that in the first 299 blogs I have written 64,488 words? Does it thrill you to know that each blog averages about 921 words? I highly doubt that means anything to you.

A Short Reflection

300 blogs. It is amazing to actually look back and see the wide variety of content that I covered since beginning this blog:

  • The blog is full of many posts about music – some about specific tunes (Tune Tuesday) and some filled with many songs.
  • There have been many blogs about television – whether it be actual shows or just theme songs.
  • I have also written many blogs about movies – some as part of blogathons hosted by other bloggers and some of my personal favorites.
  • There have been blogs about holidays from throughout the year – some contain specific memories and some are just general thoughts.
  • I have written special blogs to family and friends – my mom, my dad, my grandparents, my godfather, my kids, my wife, and my lifelong friends.
  • There have been no shortage of radio stories about listeners and coworkers.
  • Some blogs were just full of random thoughts and observations.
  • There were blogs about celebrities – some funny, some musical, some just for the hell of it.
  • I shared the love story of my wife and me.
  • I shared with family and friends the news on our miracle baby and blogged about the days that led up to her arrival.
  • Of course, after she was born, there have been many wonderful stories and things to share about her as she continues to grow up.
  • I was honored to have my brother write a guest blog for me (and hope to have more in the future).
  • I opened up about many personal things – my divorce, thoughts on suicide, the changes in my personal life, reflections on life and death, my faith, and so many other topics I kept to myself.
  • There have been some “Question and Answer” blogs that contained things asked of me by friends and family.

Looking back, I am impressed with myself. Who knew I had it in me?

New Connections

If you have a Facebook, you know that they will occasionally give you friend suggestions. They will offer up “People You May Know.” Many of those suggestions stem from mutual friends. There are people that pop up and I have 65 mutual friends with them because we went to the same high school together, or we both have the same radio friends, etc…

With this blog, we don’t have that feature. However, through searching things for things like movies, TV, music, and such, I have found many bloggers that share my interests. I follow quite a few blogs and continue to add more to my “read” list. Some of those bloggers offer up personal stuff like I do on occasion. Some respond with personal stories to my personal blogs. Through that, I feel like I know many of them.

Max is a good example of this. He has blogged about things I remember and vice versa. We also share many of the same musical tastes. He actually helped me set up the index on the side of the blog. Since doing that, more of my older blogs are being read than before. We swapped e-mails and eventually phone numbers. When I called him to talk about the index and creating some pages, it was like talking to someone I had known for years. How cool is that?

Lessons Learned

After 300 blogs, I think it is important to note some of the things I have learned since the beginning. If you are a new blogger, maybe some of my observations can be useful to you.

Even with spellcheck, I make mistakes. I found going back through some older blogs that there are some typos. Some are spelling mistakes, some are grammatical. My one radio buddy, who also works for a newspaper, told me I need an editor. He then proceeded to tell me I couldn’t afford him! I need to be better at proofreading.

There really is no way to know which blogs will be popular. I have written blogs that I think will get a great response, only to see that is not the case. At the same time, I have written blogs that I feel are just “ok” topics, and had a ton of hits on it. You never really know. It hurts your ego a bit when a blog you think is great is barely read, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Keywords matter. I try to include as many “tags” as I can with each blog. I have found that this will ultimately lead to more followers and readers. My most read blog? It is about a scammer. I got an e-mail saying that someone noticed I spelled a word wrong and said I should download some app. With research, I found the app is actually something you want to avoid. The keyword “Scam” or “Scammer” has lead to many reading that blog and some even commenting saying that they got the same type of e-mail.

The personal blogs I wrote about suicide, divorce, staying positive, dealing with a narcissist, and depression led to many new people following this blog. Some went as far as to reach out and share their own stories about those things. You know, sometimes, it helps to know you aren’t the only one dealing with those issues.

Each blog represents a moment in time. It represents what I felt at a certain moment in time. Early on in my therapy, I was angered easily. I didn’t realize how certain things by certain people triggered it. I was not a pleasant person. Over time, I have learned to not let those things trigger anger. I have learned coping skills. I am a different person than who I was.

Think about your favorite TV show. Did you like it immediately? The first time I watched Seinfeld or Cheers, I was not impressed. Over time, I came to enjoy the shows more. At one moment in time, you may feel one way, and over time you can feel another way.

Many of my blogs are memories that I want to preserve for the future. Other blogs are about things I have observed. At the time, I felt a certain way about things – over time, my thoughts or feelings might change. It helps to keep that in perspective.

Write about what you are passionate about! Chances are if you are passionate about it, a reader will find it interesting. This same principle was suggested to me when I worked in radio. Share things that “make you feel!” Some readers love my musical blogs while some prefer my more personal ones. I am passionate about everything I write, however, not all things will appeal to everyone. Anyone who comes to this blog will see my love for all things entertainment, but also see my love for my family and my children!

Another principle from radio that translated to writing a blog is to simply “observe life.” Look around and take notice. A successful stand up comedian is one who observes little things, talks about it, and the audience says “Oh yeah! I have noticed that too!” George Carlin was a master observer! Take those things that you observe and relay them. You know the whole “which way should the toilet paper roll go on” thing was simply something that someone wondered about, right!?

I always loved the above Far Side Cartoon. It points out another lesson I have learned. Be yourself. You don’t have to agree with everything I write. That’s ok. You have a right to disagree with me. However, when I write, I’m going to be myself.

While it can sometimes feel like work, I find blogging to be fun. I enjoy writing. I also enjoy hearing from readers who comment on my blog. That’s as much fun as writing them.

There are some blogs that I just sit and write. Others (most of them), it takes time to plan out. Either way, I try to give myself time to think it through and get the flow. It takes time and sometimes, you have to MAKE time to write.

So there you have it ….

Blog #300. As a follower, I need to say thank you. I am truly glad that you are here. I always welcome your suggestions. How can I make this blog more enjoyable for you? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Please feel free to let me know. What do you like? What don’t you like? Feel free to suggest other blogs I might be interested in. Feel free to share this one with others.

Thank you so much for reading. Here is to the next 300 ….

Questions and Answers #3

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The Facebook “Memories” feed can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Sometimes, I am reminded of times in my life where I was just going through the motions, pretending that all was right in my world, when it wasn’t.  Sometimes I get sad to see picture of my son’s as toddlers and am reminded of how fast they grow up.  Sometimes, I will smile at things from my past radio career and sometimes I smile as I see reminders of the good things that have happened over the past few years.

This blog is just over a year old, and this week I was reminded by Facebook that I asked my Facebook friends to ask me questions they wanted me to answer.  I looked back through my blogs and realized that the last time I did a “Q&A” blog was in October, so I once again asked for Questions…..what follows is the answers to those questions.  (If a non-Facebook friend and follower ever has a question you’d like answered, feel free to ask in the comments.)

Melanie

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Melanie was my next door neighbor in Flint, MI.  Our street was literally behind K-Mart.  Her question, which was probably meant as a joke, is “Do you miss living behind K-Mart in Flint?”  I say she probably meant it as a joke, because the neighborhood, which used to be a very nice one, is a far cry from what it used to be.  The crime level in that part of town is much higher than it was when we were living there.

I have to be honest, I do miss that house.  It was the first home I ever bought.  It is also the home I brought my first son home to.  I remember painting the nursery in tan and putting up all the Noah’s Ark themed borders, building the crib, etc.  I remember watching my dad and son play catch in the backyard.  I remember my mom, who was still in the middle of her cancer treatments, laying on the floor and playing with my son.  I have so many great pictures of her with him in that house.

I remember the old shed in the back and the swing set I built for him.  I remember almost setting the house on fire with the barbecue and ripping out the fence that was between our house and Melanie’s old house.  I also remember pulling my son in his birthday wagon around the neighborhood on summer days.

I also remember the great neighbors we had.  As I said, Melanie and her husband lived next door and were always good neighbors.  On the other side, Jerry lived there with his daughter Terry Sue.  Her kids Jerry and Stephanie would often come over and they’d play with my son.  I would often talk with their Aunt Diane, too, who lived just down the street.  Jerry was a nice man.  He was always willing to loan me a tool if I needed one, or help me with my lawnmower.  He’d often be the guy who cleared my driveway with his snow blower in the winter.  Sadly he passed away shortly after we moved in.

Next to Jerry was Harry and Myrt.  They were an elderly couple who were from down south.  Harry loved to talk politics.  Myrt always made us candy at Christmas time.  You could always find them on the porch drinking sweet tea, and always a pleasure to talk to.  Another elderly couple lived across the street when I first moved in, Ed and Margie.  They were such great people, he was always riding his bike around the neighborhood and always smiling.  We were so sad when he and Margie passed away.

When Melanie moved away, we were blessed with another wonderful couple as neighbors – Jamie and Jason.  Their plan was much like ours, this house was kind of our starter house and we had hoped to move once our son came.  They moved before we did and that was when things started to go bad.  Their old house had a milk chute.  It was next to their side door.  The guy who moved in was probably about 24, and he was up at all hours of the night.  He was renting the house from his aunt and we found out he was using the house to sell drugs.  There were people up and down the driveway all night.  They’d drop their order in the milk chute and come back to get it later.  He never threw anything away and there were bags of trash all over the back yard.  I’m still not sure what exactly happened to the guy, but he suddenly disappeared.  I have heard rumors, but never really found out more.  It wasn’t long after that, we moved away.

James

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Again, probably meant as a joke, but he wants to know my “take on breakdancing”. Here is my take – I can’t do it.  I can do the Curly Shuffle and the Box Step (thanks to high school gym class).  I am amazed that people can do this.  There is talk of it being an Olympic Event, so it must something that interests people.  If I had the chance to take dance lessons, I would opt for ballroom dancing over break dancing.

Marcia

Marcia is a dear friend from elementary school and always loves to ask questions.  Today, she asks “Who was your favorite teacher at Carlson (our school) and why?”

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I moved to the district in 2nd grade.  Any time a kid moves and had to change schools, there is stress involved.  I remember Mrs. Cook being a very sweet lady and made the transition much easier.  I only had her for about half a year, and remember that I liked her very much.  However, if I had to pick a favorite elementary school teacher, (meaning someone who’s class I was in) it would have to pick Mrs. Gallop.

I remember her being very fun.  While I don’t remember many specific things, I remember she made me laugh a lot.  I had a great respect for her and I remember not wanting to ever disappoint her.  Two distinct memories I have of her class both involve reading.  I remember she read many books to us.  It was one of my favorite things about the class.  I remember her reading us “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume.  There was a sequel she read to us to about the main character’s brother Fudge.  She always was very animated when she read them.  I have those books on my shelf, as I bought them for my sons.

I also remember her reading James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.   I remember there was a swear word in it (ass or damn, I think) and she prepped the whole class.  “There is a bad word in this story.  I really don’t want to read it, but if I do, remember that it is not nice to say words like that.”  When she said it, some gasped and some chuckled.  She just kept on reading …

Fourth grade was probably my favorite elementary school year.  Mrs. Gallop was instrumental in that.  She was so much fun and made learning fun.  Years after I graduated, I was working for the district as a custodian part-time.  She had moved up to either principal or assistant principal at the middle school.  She was in her office and I remember walking in and saying hello.  I told her she probably wouldn’t remember me, but when I told her my name, she said “Of course I remember you.  You had just got your glasses over the summer and you told me that you were so glad you could see the board, and your friends, and me!”  How she remembered that, I really don’t know.  I assumed she was just saying she remembered me to shut me up, but I had gotten my glasses over the summer, so she remembered.

I may or may not have looked for her on Facebook, some teachers who have Facebook accounts don’t use it to connect to former students.  At any rate, she is not my friend on there.  I have written about teachers in the past, and I firmly believe that they make a difference each and every day in the lives of their students.  They play such an important role.  She was such a wonderful lady and I was lucky that I was in her class.  If any teachers from the district still keep in touch with her, please let her know that I am forever grateful for the laughs, the learning, and for making me feel like I mattered.

Joseph

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Joe is one of my oldest friends.  We met in band class in junior high.  One of the things we have in common is our love for music.  No surprise that his question is “What was your favorite piece of music to play in band?”  I responded and asked if he meant concert or marching band.  He said it was my choice and that he would “go easy on” me.

Trying to pick one song out of four years worth of music is quite a task.  I thought about it a lot before writing this.  I have narrowed it down, but cannot pick just one.  I also looked at both marching band and concert band separately.  I hope you don’t mind, Joe, but here are the Top 5 for each:

Concert Band

5 – The Seventies Medley

4 – Armed Forces Salute

3 – Hall of Fame March

2 – Tin Pan Alley

1 – Four of a Kind

Marching Band

5 – Washington and Lee Swing (for sentimental reasons)

4 – Artistry in Rhythm

3 – Doggin’ Around

2 – We Got the Beat

1 – Sing, Sing, Sing

It was far from easy to do this, Joe!  I also realize I can probably write an entire blog about this.

Vince

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Vince asks a question that I used to get often when I did Career Day presentations at schools while working in radio.  He says, “Radio call in prizes … Ex: Caller #20 wins tickets …. are they legitimate? If yes, is there a strategy to calling in?”

The quick answer (at least in my experience) is yes.  Before I explain, let me talk a bit about contesting.  When I first started in radio, access to the internet was not really a thing.  We used to have many trivia books and often asked musical questions or questions we found in those trivia books to give away prizes.  When Trivial Pursuit came out, we had the boxes of questions in the studio to ask.  It’s hard to do those kind of things today because so many people can Google the answers and it is just not fun to do any more.  I’m not sure why the “be caller # ___” contests have become so popular, to be honest.  I really dislike those contests.  There is no entertainment value to it at all – and it is not fun for the DJ.  When I was at Kiss-FM, we had 6 requests lines, today, it’s usually 3.  So the DJ has to literally answer the phones, “You’re caller number 1 (click) you’re caller number 2 (click) you’re caller number 3 (click)” and so on….

Many stations use their frequency to pick the caller number – 95.5 looks for the 95th caller, 89X looks for caller 89, etc.  How is this entertaining for the listeners who are not playing?  The answer is – it isn’t.  As far as a strategy, I don’t know of any.  Back in the day, you used “speed dial” to get in and just keep redialing.  Today, with cell phones, there is no speed dial.  It’s the luck of the draw.  There are people who we call “contest pigs” who literally sit and listen for radio contests up and down the dial.  They spend all day dialing to win prizes.  There are two things radio DJ hate about those winners – first, when they tell you “I was caller 1, 7, 18, 33, and ….” we usually edit that out of the call for play back on the air.  We don’t want other listeners to know that they couldn’t get through because you and your family were monopolizing the phone lines.  The other thing we hate is when we finally get a winner for a very cool prize and they act like they could care less.  “Hey, Vince!  You just won $15,000!” and their response is an unemotional “Gee, thanks.  Do you like write me a check or something for that?”  That’s the response you expect from “Congrats!  You just won a free taco and tickets to the flower show.”

I don’t do radio full-time any more, so contesting is a bit different now.  Many stations run company wide contesting now.  They’ll tell you this in their promo mentions.  Basically, a company who owns stations throughout the country, all the stations are giving away the prize and all the listeners from all the stations have a chance to win it.  The odds are just a tad worse than when there is a local contest.

Aaron

Of all the questions asked, Aaron asked the most difficult: “If you had to pick your top 5 or 10 1980’s (your choice) movies for a must see list what would they be?”

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For the record, I literally went year by year from 1980-1989 thinking I could narrow it down to 5 or 10.  Then I thought “I can’t do this!” and thought if I divided it into genre, I could make it easier.  That actually made it more difficult.  If anything, it made me realize how many great movies were made in the 80’s.  It also made me realize that some could easily fall into more than one genre.

So, Aaron, from my list here are some “must see” flicks from each year:

1980 – Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, The Shining, Somewhere in Time, The Empire Strikes Back

1981 – Arthur, Cannonball Run, History of the World Part 1, Night Hawks, Private Lessons, Porky’s, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stripes, Zorro – The Gay Blade

1982 – 48 Hours, Creepshow, ET, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

1983 – A Christmas Story, The Dead Zone, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Trading Places, War Games, Doctor Detroit

1984 – Beverly Hills Cop, Footloose, Ghostbusters, Johnny Dangerously, The Karate Kid, The Natural, Police Academy, Revenge of the Nerds, Terminator

1985 – Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Clue, Fletch, A View to a Kill

1986 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Golden Child, One Crazy Summer, The Three Amigos, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Aliens

1987 – Good Morning Vietnam, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, No Way Out, Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Princess Bride, Robocop, The Untouchables, Adventures in Baby Sitting, Spaceballs

1988 – The Naked Gun, Rain Man, Scrooged, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming to America, Big, Beetlejuice

1989 – Batman, Dead Poet’s Society, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Weekend at Bernie’s, Tango and Cash, UHF, Uncle Buck

After spending way too much time trying to sort them….It was just easier that way.  I had hoped to expand on all of these.  I am sure that I left MANY off.  I even edited the edited list to get to these.  Some of them are on the list because they are personal favorites.  How about you, Aaron (or any other reader)…if you had to pick 5 or 10, could you do it??

Thanks to those who sent questions!  It’s always fun for me to answer them!

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