Category Archives: Hobbies

Work–Life Balance: Inside RoadDave


It’s funny looking back over several years of RoadDave, in that we see where we’ve been really busy with other stuff, the usual Life intruding.  Some months there is one mere post, other months, seventeen thoughtful screeds of depth and logic.  The backstory is interesting, at least for me and hopefully for you.

Back in the 20th century, there was no such thing as blogging.  But there were personal websites that you could update as frequently as you wanted.  That was the original genesis of RoadDave.  I worked for a company out of the US that saw me on the road for weeks at a time, doing IT training for a very large company out of Redmond, WA that was owned by that Bill guy. 

We used to travel with 50 laptops in touring cases, as excess baggage in the pre-9-11 days.  We’d fly into a city, set up the night before, do two intense 10 hour days of hands-on training, then pack up, fly out to another city and do it all again.  My personal record was 14 weeks on the road, living out of a suitcase, on Room Service and hotel laundries who never understood “No Starch In Underwear – Starch Shirts Only”  Recreation consisted of falling asleep with the television on, while re-writing lab notes, or improving the demos as part of the training.

Being away that much meant I couldn’t keep up with what friends and family were up to.  Birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, births and the rest of the minutiae of life were missing, as I was in Joplin, King of Prussia, or Phoenix, heading to Charlotte, then St. Louis and on to Salt Lake City after a stop in Downer’s Grove.  So, I created the original RoadDave to post photos and musings for my friends to read and observe.  At its simplest, the original RoadDave was a frequently updated personal website.  After a few years, RoadDave was eventually moved to WordPress, as Microsoft got out of the personal web space business and gave us legit blogging tools.  I stopped the insane travelling in 2009 when I moved back to Ottawa and home. 

I’ve been asked by some readers “How do you come up with that shit all the time?”.  I’ll answer in a roundabout way.  I started writing professionally back in the late 70’s in broadcast radio as on-air talent, in news reporting and commercials.  Both forms of writing are as punishingly strict as writing haiku.  Reporting consists of saying “Lord Jones Dead” to those who never knew Lord Jones was alive.  A radio commercial has to fit 30 seconds, not 29 and not 31 seconds as spoken words, music, sound effects and feelings regarding the product.     

You find out if you persuaded someone to buy or try whatever the advertiser was flogging within a day or two.  When the client calls you up and says that commercial you slaved over every word, comma and pause  “didn’t sell shit, you asshole.  What the hell are you messing around with.  I gotta sell some slacks!  Do it right, fakakta Mister Writer, you putz!” you learn very quickly how to write effective copy.  You also get any delusions of ego or grandeur regarding your prose beaten out of you with a length of rubber hose across the soles of your feet in the elbows-up world of retail radio. 

Compared to writing commercials, reporting was easier, as long as you didn’t stray from Who, What, When, Where, Why and How and committed the Canadian Press Style Guide to memory.  Elements Of Style by Strunk and White was a constant companion.  So was The Law and the Press in Canada by Wilf Kesterton.  With that kind of training in radio, then television, then marketing, then speechwriting, tossing words around became very easy in a recreational setting like a blog. 

As to where I get ideas from?  I read the newspaper, watch the news and generally keep up to date on current events.  The amount of utter madness that comes out of that interweb thingy is remarkable and eminently usable to twist to my needs. 

This implies I have an agenda, which I do and will now share:  Common Sense and the application of same, while laughing at just how silly us humans really are.

If you notice, most of RoadDave can be read out loud by the human voice:  That’s how I write, by ear.  No, not with my ears, as I never learned to touch type with my ears, but by ear, as in spoken out loud and heard.  Ear typing means too many typos and too much editing after the fact, as well as that annoying waxy build-up on the keyboard.  Fingers really do work better than ears for typing as there are at least six more fingers than ears on most humans, unless they have had trouble with power tools and hand-eye coordination issues followed by a hospital visit.

As for anguishing over every last word, comma and carriage return, slaving away in a dusty garret, agonizing over every nuance of my timeless utterances?  Oh hell no, we don’t roll that way. 

Most of it is first-draft, edit-on-the-fly then proofread if something gets underlined in red, or the piece isn’t working.  Also, I tend to bury my lede, (Go look up what a lede is, if you don’t know) so after I write a ‘graph or three I go back.  That means a typical RoadDave might take all of an hour to write.  Some just jump off the fingertips, done and dusted in ten minutes, while others take longer.  This one took about average, forty minutes or so.

And the real reason for removing the cloak from RoadDave, violating the first rule of Theatre:  Never Let Them See The Machinery?

According to WordPress, this is the 601st posting to RoadDave.  I figured some kind of small milestone like that is worthy of recognition in the usual backhand way by explaining some of the backstory and showing you the mechanism that goes into it.

Thank you for listening.  We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

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Bread II


Some folks wanted to see the result of the previous post.  Here they are:

DSC_0049 

 

And they tasted good.