I’ve Moved!

I’m happy to say that I’ve finally migrated over to a hosted domain. I love the simplicity of WordPress.com, but there are some limitations as to what can be done on the platform. With that said, I proudly present… 7son75.com. All future updates will be posted over there. My first review was posted there overnight, PubliciTweet Reviewed. Check it out and leave me some feedback. Any comments on the application itself or how my writing could improved are appreciated. See you on the flipside!


Getting Focused

(cc) Jonathan Dingman - @dingman - http://jonathandingman.com

(cc) Jonathan Dingman - @dingman - http://jonathandingman.com

When I first started this blog, it had no real direction. In fact, I’m not even sure why I started it. Posts were few and far between and pretty random in subject matter. Over time, I started to write with a purpose. I highlighted the triumphs of my life. I drudged through some of my darkest moments in recent history. And I captured it all in a format that has the potential to be available for the rest of my life. And then social media stuck its claws in me and refused to let go.

When I say social media stuck its claws in me, I mean it really stuck it’s claws in me. I’ve been in retail management for fifteen years now. I’ve been wanting to make a career change for about ten years. Throughout that time, I’ve considered multiple options, but never really had the courage to take the first step. I briefly went back to college to pursue a degree in marketing and advertising, but my work schedule and short attention span brought an end to that rather quickly. I did pretty extensive research on different design schools a couple years ago. I was pretty sure I could enjoy the life of a graphic designer. But something held me back. It just wasn’t the right move… for me.

Then along comes Twitter. At one point, I described Twitter as “text messages to nobody with 20 less characters.” At first, that’s all it was. This was one of my first tweets.

Standing in line at Subway, waiting for a $5 footlong steak and cheese sammich.

At the time, I knew very little about Twitter and even less about social media as a whole. The more people I started following, the more I started seeing terms that were completely foreign to me. I started following links to a whole new world that had been transparent to me up to that point. I soaked in as much as I could. If I didn’t know what something meant, I Googled it. Invariably, I’d find an article that described the term in question which linked to another article on a related subject. It became routine for me to have a dozen tabs open as I tried to wrap my head around it all.

The turning point for me was when I started watching videos that Jolie O’Dell had posted to her blog. Now that I consider Jolie to be a good friend, I know that it would be easy to apply a halo effect to the experience and just give her credit for the transformation. But I assure you that this is not revisionist history. I remember being fascinated by the topics she addressed, the subjects she interviewed, and the world in which it all existed. It was then that I knew that social media had evolved from an interest to a passion.

I didn’t start writing about social media right away. I knew that I needed to use the monitor more than the keyboard if I was going to get anywhere. Along with the fact that I had a lot more to learn, I also knew myself. As my wife puts it, I have “little obsessions.” If I convince myself that I want something, it becomes all-consuming. I know that about myself. So I decided to sit tight and be a student for a while longer before I put my opinions out there. But when I did, it was such an amazing release. As an added bonus, I got a good response from people that I respect immensely. Then the RoadTwip gang came through town and I got to see the magic firsthand. That was it for me. I knew that this was what I wanted to do for a living. But I didn’t know where to start.

A little over a week ago, Marshall Kirkpatrick put out the word that ReadWriteWeb was looking for new reporters. I thought about it all afternoon, then finally decided to throw my hat into the ring. For those of you reading who aren’t social media geeks, let me explain something to you. Going from occasionally updating a personal blog with ambiguous direction to writing for ReadWriteWeb is like going from a beer league softball team to Major League Baseball. I believed in my developing writing skills, but the realist in me knew that I was probably the least experienced applicant. A week later, I received an email from Richard MacManus requesting two recent samples of my work, much to my surprise. For the first time, I was nervous and believed that it might… actually… happen.

After a little while, I started getting nervous about an entirely different possibility: was I really ready to write for RWW? A handful of friends made for a wonderful support group. They taught me that it’s possible to be confident and believe in yourself without being arrogant. Last evening, I got word from Richard that they went with a more experienced applicant. I was honestly more relieved than disappointed. I just don’t think the time was right.

Along the way, I discovered that Richard MacManus is a class act. Although brief, he put a very personal touch on that email. I felt inclined to respond to it. I wanted Richard to know that I appreciated his time, was honored to be considered for the position, and that the next time an opportunity presented itself at RWW, I’d be better prepared. Thirteen minutes later, Richard responded again. The founder and editor of a blog with 275,000 subscribers took the time out of his day to give me feedback on a possible future in blogging. But what sealed the deal for me was the fact that he did all of this before he announced the name of the writer who was hired. I don’t know why, but that really stood out as a classy move to me.

After receiving word that I was not selected, I was motivated to do my best to be ready the next time opportunity came knocking. One of Richard’s suggestions was to dive into product reviews and the like. I’d already been thinking about breaking my personal posts away from this blog for a little while anyhow. So, from this point forward, this blog will have a clear focus. Topics that you can expect to find here will be in line with those covered on ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, and other social media and tech-related blogs. All of my prior posts that were personal in nature have been removed and migrated over to my new personal blog, which can be found here. The exception to that statement is the post “Date Night And Beyond” because I don’t want to break a couple of links to it. This blog will also be moving to 7son75.com soon. I said soon, not now. Pay attention

I’m currently working on my review of PubliciTweet, as mentioned in my last post. With any luck, Twitter will have worked out the issues with their rate limit and I’ll be able to reach all of my followers this time. I’d like to post the review later today or tomorrow. When I do, I guess it will be like smashing a bottle of champagne against the hull. On with my voyage. I know this post was ridiculously long, but I don’t care. This is a milestone. And I felt that it should be documented as such. If I’ve managed to secure a position in social media a year or two from now, I’d like to look back on this moment and remember exactly what I was thinking. And for those of you who have stuck with me this far, thanks for reading. The only thing that I ask is that you leave a comment to let me know what you think. And in the future, if you like my articles and reviews, throw me a little retweet love. And with that, I’ll wrap this thing up.

And away we go…

Date Night And Beyond

Yesterday was a day that I had been looking forward to for about a week. If you haven’t figured it out by reading posts to my other various social networking entities, Katy and I have been spending a lot of time together lately. There’s still a mess of epic proportions between us, but we’re taking one day at a time. Having a four-year-old child complicates the ability to spend any kind of “quality time” alone. So last week, I asked my mom if she could watch our little man overnight on Saturday to give us some time alone.

The plan was simple: dinner, some gambling in Detroit, some cocktails afterward, and a good night’s sleep. Katy dropped Noah off at my parents’ house at around 3:30 as I was scheduled off of work at 4:00. Serendipity found us approaching our driveway from opposite directions at the exact same time. That gave me a pretty good vibe for that night that brought a smile to my face. After a brief stopover at the house to let the dog out, we were quickly en route to downtown Toledo.

Our first order of business was to get our tummies good and full for the night. Spaghetti Warehouse filled that need pretty efficiently. We decided to bypass beverages of the alcoholic variety for the moment, opting for coffee and the caffeine to make the night last as long as possible. We scarfed down our tasty Italian dishes, then headed up to my apartment so I could change out of my work clothes. Following a quick detour to the bank for some bettin’ money, we were on the road for The D. Parched and already starting to get tired, we stopped off at the McD’s in Monroe, MI for a couple more coffees.

Let me say one thing before I continue. We knew that there was going to be construction on 75 in Detroit before we left. In fact, I had already plotted my route before we left. Getting there was cake. With the exception of the M-39 portion of the trip, which took us through the pseudo-ghetto of SW Detroit, the route was pretty quick and painless. OK… back to the story. Just remember that I mentioned that the detour to get to the casino was pretty simple.

Anyhow, we brought $100 to throw at the slot machines and hope for the best. We decided to focus on the nickel and quarter slots to make the most of our limited budget. We sat down at neighboring quarter slots and went to town. I inadvertently chose a nine line machine, thinking it was just a single line, three reel machine. After a handful of Max Bets, I quickly realized that my $20 deposit was now somewhere in the neighborhood of eight bucks. A couple more spins and my first Jackson was a memory. Katy didn’t fare much better. Within an hour, we were dead broke. When you budget a set amount of money to gamble with and you run out, there’s only one thing to do as a disciplined gambler: withdraw more money. Katy snagged forty bucks and we were back at it.

We moved back to the nickel slots and had minimal success. To extend our brief stay at the beautiful MGM Grand, we decided to move to the two cent slots. I did pretty well betting two credits on three lines. I at least stayed afloat. Katy seemed to be in a race to zero. I quickly caught her descent when I accidentally opted for Max Bet three times in a row, pissing away 90 credits with each pull. When it was all said and done, we shot another $40 in less than twenty minutes. Katy quickly declared, “Well, let’s go do some drinkin’ somewhere.” This is where things got messy.

As we exited the MGM Grand parking garage, I decided to take the same detour home in the reverse order. Getting back onto M-10N was a breeze. We passed the new Motor City Casino on our left as we made the trek to 94W. As we approached the exit, we saw the orange signs of doom indicating that our desired route was no longer within the realm of possibilities. For God knows what reason, the 94W detour was… ahem… 94E. WTF? For the moment, I was willing to give the state of Michigan the benefit of the doubt. I followed the detour signs blindly until we passed the Motor City Casino for the second time. Not happy.

I decided to follow the Lodge all the way up to 96W, hoping that I could pick up a southbound road to get me to 94 and back on track. Michigan had other ideas. Detour signs for 75S got us pretty far west of town, then stopped altogether. On my own accord, I got us back to 94W by way of a botched detour that took us right through the heart of the ‘hood that earned The D the top spot on the national violent crimes list. We passed a couple dudes hanging out on their front porch. One was sitting down having a drink. The other was standing, talking on his cell with a piece tucked into the waistband of his shorts. Awesome. Once I was back in familiar surroundings, I got us back to M-39S en route to 75S.

This is where the real fun began. As we closed in on the on ramp for 75S, I put on my right turn signal to get the hell out of there. Michigan let me down again by cleverly putting the sign for the on ramp after the ramp itself. Pissed off, I noticed the three lanes of traffic between me and the upcoming Michigan U to come back to said on ramp. Katy’s heart was put to the test as I floored it, slicing across the three lanes of traffic, into the U-turn, and quickly making a 180 degree turn. I’m pretty sure the car was up on only the passenger side wheels for a second or two. The U-turn landed us in the far left lane. Rather than making a left onto the same ramp that we had just missed, as it appeared from the intersection, the on ramp was now all the way to our right. That’s right… another three lanes of traffic to cut across. When the light turned green, we shot across and onto a 25 mph on ramp. Might as well put the driver’s side tires to the test while we’re at it.

All in all, it took us over forty minutes to travel the two miles south from the MGM Grand to where 75 was closed. The remaining 42 miles to Ohio took just over half an hour. Sweet. Thirsty and needing to pee, an ironic combination, we headed back to the house for a restroom/water break. After sending Joey out to do his business, we were back on the road for Fat Jack’s in downtown Perrysburg. We walked into a sausage party of about thirty guys and maybe three girls. Katy’s ridiculously weaksauce Malibu and Coke put an end to our time at Fat Jack’s. We ran across town to Quarter’s and had a couple more drinks with Dan, a gentleman I work with,  and his significant other Vicki. I grabbed my phone and logged into Twitter for a minute. I noticed an @ reply from Becki Thompson saying, “We’re headed out to Fat Jack’s now actually. You guys still there?” We paid our tab and made the reverse trip back to Fat Jack’s.

Our second time at Fat Jack’s was much more enjoyable as we wound up consuming more alcohol than we had originally intended. We had a good time chatting it up with Ken and Becki (they’re @kongslide and @bek1826 on Twitter). It’s rare that we find a couple that we both really enjoy hanging out with. Katy had never met them before and made the comment that she really hoped that they liked her because she really liked them. It was kind of cute. It reminded me of when Katy and I first met and we were both nervous about meeting each others friends. There was a lot of laughter and before we knew it, it was 1:00 am. We were ready to call it a night.

When we got back to the house, exhaustion set in for Katy. I had to put her pajamas on her like I had done for Noah so many times in the past. After a little bit of lovins, we closed our eyes and called it a night. All in all, I’ve gotta say it was a pretty good night. Sure we lost $140 in less than ninety minutes. And yeah, the detour around Detroit was an epic fail. But we spent time together. Once we finally hit 75S, we sang and bobbed around to happy music the rest of the way home. We haven’t done that kind of shit since we were first together. Either way, the night was time very, very well spent.

So what’s next? Inspired by Jolie O’Dell’s RoadTwip, we decided to plan a Great American Roadtrip of our own. Next spring, fueled by our assumed tax return Benjamins, we’re going to take a few days to travel the Midwest. The longest portion of our trip will be seven hours with the rest of the journey averaging four hours at a time. We’re thinking about taking this route. The exact locations could change, but it seems like a pretty fun and efficient little getaway. And honestly, the journey will be as much of a vacation as the destinations themselves. If anybody has been to any of our destination cities, leave me some feedback as to what we should check out while we’re there. Until then, we’ll be scouring the worldwide interwebs for ideas. I’m sure I’ll need to go Pro on Flickr before we depart. Talk to you soon, ya’ll!