6 years, and how many more?


Six years ago, I had a story to tell.

Actually, I had already told the story, just as I had a hundred times before, by sitting down in front of a computer and typing away. Most of the stories I had told before never saw the light of day. I had either abandoned them halfway through, or maybe saved them onto a disk, but that was about it.

But this story was different. It hit on some of my favorite writing muses: childhood, the Chicago Cubs, and finding something new. When I finished typing it up, I decided that this story had to live on. So I started a blog and named it after the object of my story. And six years later, I’m still writing it. I daresay that many blogs have come and gone since then, but mine has somehow endured.

None of the posts that I’ve created here (there’s at least 1,500 of them, but I stopped keeping track a long time ago) would ever win any writing awards. In fact, most of them don’t mean anything to anyone other than me. But maybe that’s the beauty of creating a series of words and ideas and images over the past six years of my life. For all of recorded human history, it was not possible–until the early years of this century–to create an enduring testament of one’s own life. Somebody could have written a diary, of course, but the ability to share that diary with anyone–much less the entire world–didn’t exist. What would Hemingway’s blog have looked like? Or Thoreau’s? We’ll never know. But those of us with internet access and the inclination to share a few thoughts with anyone who cares to read them have an opportunity that is really pretty amazing.

My Facebook profile lists this blog as my place of employment. And that’s ironic, because I’ve never made a dime off of any of this. Monetizing a blog is possible, and some have been very successful with it. But as for me, sharing a thought or two with people I’ll never meet is reason enough to keep on doing this.

I’ve never stayed in the same place professionally for six years, and I’m not sure that I ever will, either. But I could keep doing this for as long as I’m able to sit in front of a computer and type. However long that will be is still an open question, but I’m looking forward to telling more stories in the days and months (and hopefully even years) ahead.

A year in the blog

For best results, start the video first and then scroll down to the slideshow beneath. Thanks!

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I’m going to write out a few things about the posts on this site in 2012 soon, but for now the slide show will have to do. If I was really tech-savvy, I’d make it so that a click on a picture would take you to the post itself. But for now, this works if the Motley Crue video is off the screen, and the slideshow plays onscreen while the music is still going. It’s the best that I know how to do at the moment.

I wrote almost 500 pieces for this blog in 2012, and these images don’t even represent a quarter of what I’ve done this year. But I’m proud of everything that’s on here. Blogging is not for everyone, but it suits me very well. It’s a window into my world, or at least those parts of it that I care enough to write about. It’s my home, at least in a virtual, online sense, and that’s why Motley Crue gets to come along for the ride. And I’m hoping for an even better year in 2013.

Here are links to all of the stories, if you’re interested in any of them:

January 7: The future of books and Going to Rosehill

January 15: A baseball tradition that you’ve never heard about

January 17: A disaster at sea

February 10: With thanks and love to my father

February 14: The Love curd

February 25: A jewel of a sculpture

March 3: Sandra Fluke and the kill for/die for thing

March 22: In appreciation of my Mom

March 24: America must be better than this

March 25: Working on my serve

March 27: They won’t look like this for long

April 3: All I’ve got is a photograph

April 14: Can’t go there anymore and What we’re losing

April 15: To be young forever

April 29: Paris, not horrible at all

May 2: Titanic’s final victim

May 12: When the music’s over, turn out the lights

May 16: Looking ahead already

May 19: Triple shot

May 21: Game ready

May 23: I can’t explain this

May 25: The movie that changed everything

May 28: Honoring Soldiers, Schuylers, and the guy who made our piano

May 30: I’m feeling good to play a little music

June 2: Forget about the goat

June 6: The ugly blue-green truck

June 8: And then I’ll sit and think some more

June 12: It was a big year for me

June 18: Finding some magic in the kitchen

June 21: Meeting the wave

June 22: My favorite founder, and a place that shares his name

July 1: Presenting a young poet’s first work

July 2: Quarterly Report #4

July 8: Passing the quarter-pole

July 11: 47% Obama, 47% Romney, 100% Worthless and Remembering the places we’ve been

July 14: The years flashed by

July 18: Only want to see you in the Purple Rain

July 23: America, as it always has been

July 26: All we are is dust in the wind

July 27: The old and the new

July 28: I couldn’t believe what I was seeing

July 30: A different reaction this time

August 3: The summer of my discontent

August 4: It’s all changed but the love

August 6: An attack on America

August 14: The past and the future, in one place

August 19: A double play of art and baseball

August 30: Listening to the golf pencils

August 31: It’s better than Tebowing and One week to go

September 2: What is “Government Help” anyway?

September 3: Crossing the digital bridge

September 5: Link to another ThroughTheFenceBaseball piece

September 11: Patriotic, to a fault and Wrigley, Ronny and the Boss

September 12: Putting it on the line and Somebody tell me

September 18: In the Midnight hour

September 19: At the end of the day

September 22: Write on

September 25: Going to the dogs

September 27: With fresh curiosity

September 29: 99 Cubsballoons go by

October 5: Thinking of my Grandpa

October 6: Hey yo, Apollo

October 7: Far away and left behind

October 9: A year that stood out

October 12: What Margarita?

October 13: So long, Champ

October 14: Breaking the Wave

October 15: The American Way?

October 16: Pizza and the presidential debates and Call me Mr. Worldwide

October 18: Blue: It’s a color so cruel

October 19: The Romney Files, Part II

October 21: Swinging at Sunrise

October 22: Still Worthless

October 28: Ballpark in Winter

November 2: Laugh about the old days

November 4: What I want for her

November 6: It was 20 years ago

November 7: Got to have a celebration

November 8: Finding Lincoln, again

November 10: My high school lifelines

November 13: Loved the movie, but hated the green screens

November 17: An allegiance to the heart

November 18: The Holder Of All Stuff and The social media president

November 23: And as we wind on down the road

November 25: A story for post number 715

November 27: Link to a Piece on ChicagoSideSports

November 30: Sorry, Pappy!

December 1: All you create

December 7: A Yuletide haiku

December 9: Ah, the unfettered thrill of outdated linguistic expression

December 10: Vegas matchbooks, Part 2

December 13: What if I told you…

December 14: Our candles were lit for the victims tonight

December 18: A couple of interesting Lincoln views

December 25: A Christmas miracle

Thanks for reading!

Thoughts at the end of the quarter

I once worked for a large corporation, and the big honcho came to address the troops one day. He had a “photographer” with him, but it appeared that this was actually a euphemism for “bodyguard.”  But besides that little bit of verbal misdirection, something he said that day stuck with me in a strange way.

It was during the initial stages of this Great Recession or whatever name is being given to the past three years or so. He said something to the effect of “things will be rough through the second or third quarter of next year, but by the fourth quarter things should be improving.” It occurred to me that this must be the way in which some people view the world, in annual quarters.

As a sports fan, the first quarter of a game is easy enough to understand. And the fourth quarter is typically where things are decided. But when it comes to life, I don’t take that sort of a long view of things. Today is Friday, and the last day of September, and an early day in the fall, but it’s not the end of a quarter, in my view.

The world view that divides time into annual quarters is doubtlessly driven by stocks, and the need to report to shareholders and the government what the quarterly sales figures look like. That news indicates the general health of a company, and can either drive the price up or down, depending on what the numbers say.

I don’t like that approach with life, because I’m more of a live-in-the-moment kind of guy. But I think I’ll try that approach with this blog. I started doing this in June, at the end of the second quarter of the year. The third quarter wraps up today, and I feel like it’s been a good one. I’m past the existential questions of “Why am I doing this?” or “Is it worth my time?” Those questions are answered now, and the survival of this space has been secured.

So as I look toward the future, I want to keep on writing things that are interesting to me and/or fun to read about. And if you come by and read it, that’s just gravy on top of the mashed potatoes for me.

The stats you can get for a blog are quite interesting. In the second quarter–it’s not so hard to think in these terms, after all–I didn’t know they existed. In the third quarter, I found out about them and learned that at least some other folks read this. If the numbers go up, and they have been heading that way, that’s great, but the numbers aren’t really so very important. It’s not why I do this, and probably never will be, either.

So that’s my first quarterly report for BlueBattingHelmet. I’m already thinking about what the next quarter’s report will say. Other than “Happy New Year,” of course.