Monthly Archives: August 2011

Someone just subscribed to your blog…

Part of the Phone Calls to Julie Series.

Ring, ring…

WP: Hello, WordPress technical support, this is Julie, how can I help you today?

ME: Hi Julie, thank you for taking my call, I’m terribly concerned, Someone just subscribed to my blog.

WP: Ummm, okay…. uhh… congratulations?

ME: Oh… that’s what the e-mail said too, congratulations.

WP: What e-mail would that be?

ME: Well, the one that said that Someone just subscribed to my blog. It addressed me with the word “Howdy”. Do you think Someone thinks I am a cowboy? I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “Howdy” before.

WP: Is this the guy from Brown Road Chronicles?

ME: Yes, yes, you remember me? I’ve called you about my BOOBS. You have been very helpful the last couple of times I have called. Have you read my blog yet?

WP: No sir, I still have not read your blog.

ME: Oh, that’s too bad, it’s really great!

WP: Sir, I am sure your blog is great, but really, is there something important I can help you with? I am very busy today? We are getting a lot of angry callers because we changed the subscription function on all of our member’s blogs without telling anybody. Now everybody is mad and the phones are ringing off the hook.

ME: Oh yes, I did notice that as well. I think that’s okay, I don’t know what everybody is all worked up about.


ME: Oh yes, I’m very sorry, I’m terribly concerned, Someone subscribed to my blog today?

WP: Yes, you mentioned that… uh…and why is that a problem? Most bloggers are happy when Someone subscribes to their blogs.

ME: Oh my, does Someone subscribe to a lot of blogs? Do you know who Someone is?

WP: What does that mean “do I know who Someone is?”

ME: Well, it sounded like you maybe know who they were.

WP: Knew who who is?

ME: Someone.

WP: SIR… I am going to hang up if you don’t tell me how I can help you today.

ME: Oh, I am terribly sorry, please don’t hang up. You see, I got an e-mail today that said “Howdy, Someone just subscribed to your blog, Brown Road Chronicles.”

WP: Uhhh… okay… and what is wrong with that?

ME: Well, it didn’t tell me who Someone is… you know, and tell me what their blog site is. It just said Someone subscribed to my blog today and it had an e-mail address and where they were from. I thought that was kind of creepy. And it said “Howdy”. Do you think Someone thinks I am a cowboy?

WP: Sir, it’s just an automated e-mail when a reader subscribes to a blog. I don’t know why it says Howdy, but no one here thinks you’re a cowboy… and it said Someone because it was a subscriber that doesn’t have a WordPress account. So we don’t know who they are.

ME: Oh my… you don’t know who they are? Does that mean they don’t have an About page that will tell me if they are a stalker or not?

WP: No, there is no About page, but don’t worry, it’s probably just someone that read something you wrote and found it interesting.

ME: Oh yes, yes… the stuff I write is very interesting. It’s very funny too. Have you read my blog?


ME: Oh you’re right, I’m sorry, you did say that. I just got excited when you told me my posts were interesting.

WP: I didn’t say your posts were interesting, I said that maybe this person who subscribed to your blog perhaps thought your posts were interesting.

ME: You mean Someone?

WP: Sir, please stop it with the Someone! Yes, I was referring to this person who subscribed to your blog.

ME: So you don’t think there is anything I need to worry about?

WP: No, I don’t think there is anything to worry about. But remember Sir, blogs are very public spaces. Anybody can subscribe to your blog.

ME: Oh my… who’s Anybody?



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Yeah, you’d be good at that!

The business where I work has been sold.  For those that don’t know, I have spent the last 18 years working for my uncle in a family retail business, a college bookstore that served a major university.  It’s been a good gig, but the textbook business (as well as the book business in general) has been shrinking considerably over the last seven or eight years due to internet competition, rental websites and digital course materials.  We made a mutual decision a couple of years ago that the time was right to get out and ultimately we believe it was a good decision.  He can retire and I can…..

Well, unfortunately I cannot retire… and as much fun as it sounds to sit around and blog all day, I am pretty confident that will not pay my mortgage or allow me to purchase shoes for my kids. I will be employed through the end of October, at which point the business will close down. I have an opportunity to work with a friend of mine, a collegiate apparel sales rep who has called on our store for many years and who I have known almost since day one.  Although any change is scary, it’s a good opportunity and I will be happy to get off a retail floor as it has beat me up over the years.

That’s not really what I’m here to talk about though, but I thought it was important to share that news with all of you.   What I’ve noticed is that when you are in a situation where you are switching jobs, people are of course inquisitive and the conversation inevitably goes like this

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I have this opportunity, blah, blah, blah…

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

That’s great and I’m glad people think I’ll be “good at that”. But I’m starting to wonder if people really believe it or if they would just say that no matter what I said I was going to do. They don’t really ever comment on why they think I’d be “good at that.” It seems to be just a blanket statement of reassurance.

But what if I said this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I have this opportunity with this Rocket Scientist I know. You know, now that the space shuttle program is being shut down, they need people to design the next vehicles that will take us into space. I shot a model rocket once so, you know, I thought it might work out.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

Or what if I said this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I was thinking I’d send my resume to Apple. You know, with Steve Jobs stepping down, they probably need some help over there in California. I don’t use any Apple products, but I do have a couple of Apple trees in my yard so, you know, I thought it might work out.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

Or perhaps this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I have this opportunity with this guy I know, he works for the carnival and they need someone to run the Frog Launch Game. Since my college degree is in Biology and I’ve had to dissect a few frogs in my life, and you know, I’m personable, I thought it might work out.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

Or maybe this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I’m going to be a goat farmer.  Except not for meat, just for milk, ‘cause there’s no freakin’ way I could ever kill a goat.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d DEFINITELY be good at that!


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Prospect Street Tavern

My attempt at a little fictional drama. All names, places, times, events, locations, proper nouns, personality disorders, situations and species, have been changed to protect the guilty… or is it the innocent.

It was 2:00 am when Nehpets Renraw walked out of Prospect Street Tavern having just emptied his wallet of every last penny in his pockets.  He shouldn’t have been blowing any cash in a bar having just twelve hours earlier walked away from an eighteen year stable career that had provided him with a great income, but during the last few years, had provided him with little personal creative satisfaction.  A few drinks though, was his reward for finally having the balls to make a change and try to make a living writing, even though it was a rash decision he had made with little forethought. He was just done wasting time. “I’ve only got one life”, he had said to himself, “and I’m not going to waste it sitting at this fucking desk.”  He had gathered up his personal belongings and walked in and gave his resignation to a shocked boss.

Nehpets had always wanted to be a writer. He knew an unusually weird name like Nehpets Renraw would look great on the front cover of a best selling novel.  But as a young man, life and the need for a stable job with a decent income had quickly gotten in the way of any creative pursuits.  Now, eighteen years later he found himself, walking drunk out of a bar, unemployed and with no plan for the future, other than continuing to write a modestly successful blog that he had been working on for the last six months.  He certainly didn’t have any clue how he would explain this to his wife and kids in the morning.

“Well, here’s to a new start” he mumbled under his booze soaked breath as he stepped onto the cobblestone sidewalks that traversed his neighborhood.  A slight drizzle fell from the sky and he felt it appropriate as if somehow it was cleansing him of the doubts and fearfulness he felt deep down inside. Sure, he was finally free, but he also knew the odds were slim of realistically making a living as a writer.  He had no experience other than this personal blog he wrote, an idea that had started as just a place to keep some thoughts about his life, but had quickly developed into a project that he would focus on throughout each day. He had named it The Prospect Street Chronicles, after the name of the street he lived on, and because he wanted to share with readers what his life in the city was like with his family and his animals, four cats, a miniature poodle and the two Bengal Tigers they had adopted from a local zoo. The response from his readers had been so positive and encouraging with comments such as;

“You always make me laugh and smile buddy.”

“Holy Hell! Hands down, the best post of the day…I think I just wet my pants.”


“I could hardly speak because I was laughing so hard! “

“That’s fucking hysterical!!”

“I hope you get this published.”

“You are very talented.”

It was all very narcissistic and somewhere down deep inside Nehpets’ heart he had begun to feel like he might just have the skills to finally make a go of being a writer.

Prospect Street Tavern was one of those local bars that seemed to attract the hardcore, down and out drunks, the people whose lives had somewhere along the line taken a wrong turn.  It was a place where it was okay to sit alone at the old intricately carved oak bar and not feel like people were judging you for getting smashed by yourself.  Although it had a reputation as a Bowery style bar that attracted some riff-raff and homeless types, Nehpets liked to hang out there because he knew the bartenders by name and somehow the place made him feel at home, comfortable even, as if he had been coming there for years. He talked with Frankie, the bartender on duty in the evenings and told him about the life changing decision he had just made and Frankie served him a couple of shots on the house. As on previous visits, Frankie mostly just stood behind the bar and listened to Nehpets talk about his blog, and the comments people had left.  Comments such as;

“Outrageously funny. Bravo.”

“Dude…you crack me up!!”

“You make the reader think, “I’d like to have a beer with this guy.”

“Man, that was awesome…what a great read! “

“What a fun post!”

“So funny! I cracked some chuckles.”

“I am officially convinced now that you must be smoking weed?!?”

Bartenders have bigger responsibilities than just serving drinks, one of which is to be a good listener and Frankie always performed that part of his job well. “We’ll see you around” Frankie said as Nehpets left for the night.

Nehpets headed down Prospect Street on foot towards the apartment. The neighborhood was always eerily quiet at 2:00 am when state laws required the bars to close.  For a brief moment, as he walked, he felt a pang of nausea and he couldn’t be sure if it was from too much alcohol or from the pit in his stomach that maybe he had made a mistake leaving his job. As he walked past the old brick buildings that hovered over the sidewalk with their front steps jutting out and their iron railings coated in peeling paint, he thought the neighborhood looked old and worn, as if time had somehow passed him by in the short time he had spent at the tavern. Had he made the right decision, he questioned himself over and over again? He recounted the conversation he’d had with his boss, and how his boss had continually questioned him on the merits of his actions. “I know what I’m doing” Nehpets had said, “I know what I am doing” and he wondered if he could write a blog post about this conversation that would generate lots of comments.

Roughly twenty minutes later, Nehpets had managed to stumble his way back to the apartment at 1211 Prospect Street.  The red entry door to the apartment building was always what made him remember.  When he and his family had lived there, the door had been a beautiful shade of dark green that contrasted sharply with the buildings century old brick façade. He didn’t remember when it had changed, but now the door was red, and seeing it every night would temporarily snap him out of his drunken trance.  He wondered how many times he had walked this route after leaving Prospect Street Tavern, recounting that fateful day when he had left his stable job to become a writer, a decision that had failed miserably and never earned him a cent. Had he really lost everything because a few loyal readers had left encouraging comments on a blog? Comments such as;

“Brilliant, just brilliant! Love it… “

“Really funny blog.”

“Feel free to whine, complain and share things that will not cause us to wet our pants and snort coffee out of our noses.”

“This had me rolling in the aisles!”

“Hahaha…. this is the funniest blog I have come across. “


“LOL x 1000″

Had it really been twelve years since his wife had taken the kids, the four cats, the miniature poodle and the two Bengal Tigers and left him drunk, penniless and homeless so they could find a more stable life somewhere else?  Had his mind really deteriorated into a chaotic mass of mental illness and delusional thoughts because of a silly blog and a failed writing career?

Nehpets stared for a moment at the red door to 1211 Prospect Street. As happened every night, he thought about what a funny and entertaining blog post his life would make and how many great comments it would generate. Perhaps comments such as;

“I friggin’ love your dialogues. And I’m painfully sober AND this is hilarious.”

“I can’t stop giggling.”

“What a beautiful post.”

“Dude, you are fucking funny! I’m so glad to have found you.”

“Such an interesting post!”

“I cracked up all through your post. Hysterical!”

“This post made me laugh out loud. . .seriously, not lol, but actually laugh out loud.”

But computers, blackberries and smart phones had long since disappeared from his life. A few tears dripped from his eyes and he wiped them with his dirty, tattered sleeve. He wondered who might live in the old apartment now, and whether they ever noticed the homeless guy that walked by their door every night and if they knew what a great blogger he had been years ago. But he knew he better get on his way, to find a doorway or park bench where he could get some sleep and dream of all the great comments he used to get on his blog.  Tomorrow would be another day, panhandling money on the streets.  He usually could collect twenty to thirty dollars a day from the tourists and working folks that strolled around the neighborhood. Not enough money to purchase the equipment to get his blog started again, but just enough to buy some booze at Prospect Street Tavern and talk to Frankie for another night about all those great comments….


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The Rules of Texting

Here’s a phone, our teenage child.
It’s for your safety, don’t go wild.
With all that texting to your peers.
When the bill comes you will be in tears.

i will b careful ys i will
dnt wnt 2 hv 2 pay that bill
ill only txt a ltl bit
i dnt wnt u to hav a fit

Now let us set a few small rules.
Your parents aren’t a couple fools.
Even though you are an awesome kid.
There’s just some things we must forbid.

wat r these rules u must enforce
u know i wnt go wld of course
ive nvr bn in trouble b4
u shouldnt worry anymre

Just listen up, these rules are easy.
They’re nothing that will make you queasy.
No texting after you’re in bed.
And we can check your texting thread.

ok i promise u can trust
i think ur rules r very just
i wnt b txting after bed
and u can ck my txting thread

For many months you’ve had your phone.
We’ve noticed you’re quite texting prone.
So, so many every day.
Is not that which we want to pay.

bt all my frnds r txting me
i hv 2 reply asap
or else theyll wndr where i am
thats somthng u shld nt condemn

We’ve noticed something else as well.
You told us you would not rebel.
You’re texting after you’re in bed.
We sure don’t like to be misled.

im sorry & im guilty 2
im sorry i disobeyed u
i know i did it now and then
im sorry it wont happen again

We appreciate your true confession.
But you’ve made a serious transgression.
We’re going to take your phone away.
We’re going to take it for a day.

i thnk thats fair i undrstnd
i undrstnd ur reprimand
my phones a privilege nt a rt
i c that in a whole new lite

Thank you child for being you.
Sometimes you’ll break a rule or two.
Your Mom and Dad are here to guide.
The world’s a scary place outside.

i know ur trying 2 do ur best
4 tht i thnk my life is blessed
i luv u so much even tho
it dsnt alwys seem 2 show

O’ child of ours we love you too.
We’ll always love you through and through.
Sometime you’ll look back on these days.
And know you grew in many ways.

*based on a true story!


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