Friday, June 27, 2014

Don't Tell Mom: A One-Sided Conversation About Dinner

"Dinner's ready!"


"What do you mean, what else? We don't need anything else tonight."

"It's a superfood."

"Uh, in an article."


"I did."

"Just because it was something I wrote in a humor article does not negate the fact that I found an article that said bacon was a superfood."

"Vegetables?! Why would you want vegetables?"

"But Mom's not here, is she?"

"Get some fruit then."

"Does she let you complain about what she makes?"

"Then quit griping about the bacon."

"No making faces either."

"Do you want me to eat yours?"

"Nothing. You'll eat in the morning."

"Fine, I'll make some vegetables. How about this?"

"French fries are too a vegetable."

"They're made from potatoes. Potatoes grow in the ground, just like carrots and Brussels sprouts. Therefore, French fries are vegetables."

"That's my boy. Just don't tell Mom."

"Now what about you two? Are you on Team French Fry?"

"Don't call her!"

"Because she's, uh, busy. On her trip."

"Otherwise she'll remind me about it every time she leaves town again. Or she'll never leave town."

"That's right, Buddy, no more bacon dinners."

"Fine, I'll make one."

"Egg or potato?"

"Those are too salads!"

"And chicken salad. Thanks, dude."

"Alright, with lettuce."

"Tomatoes too."

"You guys want pancakes for breakfast the day after tomorrow?"

"Because it's Saturday. We always have pancakes on Saturday."

"We usually do, but I didn't want to wait until Saturday. I was in the mood for it tonight."

"If you'd like, I can cook a pound tonight and the other pound on Saturday. Might as well, since SOME PEOPLE want to fill up on salad."

"So, how about instead of regular pancakes, I make chocolate pancakes."

"I know, right? Thanks, dude."

"And how about, instead of regular pancakes, I make thick pancakes."

"Really thick."

"About this big."

"In the oven, on 350, for 45 minutes."

"I could even put a special chocolate syrup on it. It's so thick you have to put it on with a knife."

"Well, I suppose some people call it that, but only those who don't know any better."

"Fine, we won't have it for breakfast! Jeez, you girls aren't any fun. Who taught you all this stuff anyway?"

"But she's not even here."

"What do you mean, 'meal plan?' Let me see that."

"Why would anyone list out an entire week's menu?"

"Yeah, after 20 years, you do start to learn each other's habits."

"Well, I already called an audible on the bacon, so that takes care of tonight."

"No, I won't forget the verkakte salad!"

"That's, uh, Yiddish."

"For, uhh, things I. . . probably shouldn't say in front of your guys. Don't tell Mom."


"Because I don't negotiate with blackmailers."

"Go ahead and tell her then. Who's she going to believe, three little kids, or her beloved husband of 20 years?"

"Yeah okay, but only until 12. Then you have to go to bed."

"Because it's a school night."

"Home schoolers need their sleep too."

"What do you want to do tomorrow?"

"No, it's not windy enough."

"I don't even know where it is."

"Ooh, how about we get a falcon instead?! They're just as good as a kite."

"Raw chicken, raw beef. They're also partial to chocolate cake, but apparently we won't have any available."

"No, I'm sure they hate bacon."

"Great. I'll make some calls in the morning. Just don't tell Mom."

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My latest book, The Owned Media Doctrine is now available on

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Friday, June 20, 2014

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide


Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were shouting to each other at a Denny's.

@NotReallyATerrorist: Hey, are we going to plant that bomb soon?

@NotATerroristEither: Sure, what time are you thinking we should plant the bomb?

@NotReallyATerrorist: Let's see, I could plant the bomb with you at 2:00 on Friday. Shall we meet at 2:00 on Friday to plant our bomb?

@NotATerroristEither: That's a good time for bomb planting. We'll meet at 2:00 on Friday at the park so we can plant our bomb. We'll use Steve's red minivan.

@FBI: Hey @NotReallyATerrorist, @NotATerroristEither, are you guys yanking our chain again?

@NotATerroristEither: @FBI, Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Of course we're messing with you. #AreYouNewHere

Still, that doesn't mean the FBI won't keep their eyes open, just in case the terrorists slip up and post a map to their hideout on Instagram.

According to the guide's introduction, "This list has about 2,800 entries you should find useful in your work or for keeping up with your children and/or grandchildren. The DI's Intelligence Research Support Unit (IRSU) has put together an extensive — but far from exhaustive — list of shorthand acronyms used in Twitter and other social media venues such as instant messages, Facebook, and MySpace."

Seriously, MySpace? WTF? (What the, uh, heck?) Is that even a thing anymore? Are you guys checking AOL too? When you take a break from your Space Invaders tournament on your Atari, maybe you can run a check on eWorld and Prodigy.

(If you weren't online back in the '90s, believe me, that joke was hysterical.)

The FBI has scoured their 13 year old daughters' cell phones and chat programs and come up with all the acronyms you would expect: YOLO (you only live once), BRB (be right back), AFC (away from computer), and OMG (oh my God). There's also ZOMG, which the FBI calls "enhanced OMG," but the rest of the world knows as "Zoh my God!"

But there were a few odd ones that I, and every other Twitter user, have never used.

"Would you like a bowl of cream to go with that remark?" (WYLABOCTGWTR) is one that was never seen on Twitter prior to June 17, when the FBIEEPTSD (FBI's 88 Page Twitter Slang Dictionary) came out. Then, it became a popular word, because everyone was L-ing their AOs (laughing their, uh, butts off) at it.

But the FBI is taking it all in stride. "Pardon me, you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a damn" (PMYMHMMFSWGAD) they have said to their scoffers and naysayers. We know this because "PMYMHMMFSWGAD" is on page 54 of the FBIEEPTSD.

The problem is words like this are turning the guide into just another foolish tome of government drivel, and the FBI is looking more than a little overeager and unnecessarily thorough.

Having worked in state government for a time, and getting to know how the law enforcement and military minds work, I'm not surprised that 1) they created a guide for Internet slang, 2) they found/created 2,800 different slang terms., and 3) they would print a guide for electronic communication on paper. Only the law enforcement types would create an alphabetical list of every letter combination known to man, and then use it as part of a strategy that relies on the hope that the bad guys don't have cell phones.

I'm just kidding, you guys. Keep it up. ILWYD. (I love what you do.)

YRW. (Yeah right, whatever.)

I made that one up myself. Now we're up to 2,801.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My latest book, The Owned Media Doctrine is now available on

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Diary of a Reluctant Single Man

I've had the house to myself for a couple of days, as my oldest daughter is at camp, and my wife took the other two kids to Chicago. So I've been hanging out with the dog, and keeping a diary of what has been happening.

7:00 am: Said good-bye to the family. I did a bunch of work earlier this week so I could sleep in, so I'll just stay in bed for a while.

7:05: Poop. Now I can't get back to sleep. Maybe I should just get up and do some work on my—

9:25: That's better. Nice to see my old high school tricks still work.

9:30: Walked around the house, hollering, just to make sure no one is here. Last time I thought I was home alone, I had a less-than-appreciative audience for my Dave Matthews Band retrospective.

9:31: It's finally happened. I have the whole house to myself for two days. That means I can do anything, eat anything, and leave a grand mess, because I don't have to answer to anyone. What should I do first?


9:50: Better feed the dog. Why does she always get so excited about the same thing every day? It's pressed beef sawdust and egg, but she goes bonkers for it three times a day.

9:51: Ooooooh, coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee! I love you so much, coffee!

10:30: Well, Other Erik, do you think you should get some work done? "It's funny you mention that, Erik. I was just thinking I should actually, you know, sit down and answer emails." That sounds like a great plan, Other Erik. You're a genius! "Thank you, sir! Might I compliment you on your staggering intellect as well."

10:31: They say talking to yourself is a sure sign of insanity. "I wouldn't worry about that. You're a high functioning crazy person, I think if you can maintain, they'll never notice."

11:45: The dog seems to be taking a keen interest in everything I do. I've been talking to her, but she doesn't answer.

3:30 pm: Ich habe nicht Deutsch in einem lange Zeit gesprochen. Ich sollte mein Deutsch laut zu üben. (I haven't spoken German in a long time. I should practice my German out loud.)

4:15: Mein Hund nicht Deutsch verstehen. Ich glaube, sie denkt, Ich bin verrückt. (My dog doesn't understand German. I think she thinks I'm crazy.)

4:25: I need to finish this marketing assessment for my client. But it's hard to stay motivated when it's so quiet in here. I need some music. Something with some raw power and high energy.


4:50: Time to feed the dog again. Seriously, dog, settle down. It's just freaking dog food.

5:10: Willst du nach draußen gehen? Willst du nach draußen gehen und machen ein Töpfchen? (Do you want to go outside? Do you want to go outside and make a potty?) See? She doesn't understand a word I'm saying. Either that, or she doesn't have to go.

5:11: I think the dog is being obstinate on purpose. She has taken to watching me while I work, just. . . staring at me. It's maddening. Her big eyes are boring into my soul. She wants something, but refuses to respond to my German-language inquiries.

5:20: I guess she really did have to pee. And I get to clean it up. Yay, me.

7:30: Nearly 12 hours alone, no one but the dog to talk to, and she's still pretending she doesn't understand German. But I see the flicker of recognition in her eyes! I've figured out her little game though. Oh yes, I'm on to you, little dog! You see, she's half poodle, which means she's half French. And she's only pretending she doesn't understand English and German, but in truth, she knows them both! J'accuse, maudit chien! (I accuse you, damn dog!)

7:31: Huh. She doesn't understand French either.

8:00: I need to eat dinner. Let's see, I could make, well, eggs or. . . eggs. Or I could boil some chicken, chop up some salad, and put some nice healthy Italian dressing on it.

8:30: Ah, pizza delivery, mankind's greatest invention.

12:00: Long, long day today. Got a lot of work done, spent time with the dog, and still got to watch some TV. Time for bed. Need to remember to lock the door. The dog is becoming unstable and paranoid. More tomorrow, if I survive the night.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My latest book, The Owned Media Doctrine is now available on

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Friday, June 06, 2014

A Professional Communicator's Confession About Small Talk

As a professional communicator, I'm supposed to be good at all types of communication. I've been a writer since I was 20, I'm completely at ease meeting new people, and I'm one of those weirdos who loves speaking in public. You could stick me in a room full of complete strangers, and within an hour, I'll meet five of them, arrange coffee meetings with three more, and introduce two people who can help each other with a new project.

I'm good at almost any kind of communication, but to my great embarrassment, I have one glaring deficiency, one weakness that keeps me from being an all-around player.

I suck at small talk.

Not the "get to know you" chit-chat between two people who have just met, or the catching up talk between two friends who haven't seen each other for a while. I'm awesome at that. Just ask my kids. "Daddy can't go anywhere without talking to strangers." I've done that since I was three.

No, I'm terrible at the unexpected small talk that happens when someone says something more complicated than Hello.

I mean, I can handle Hello just fine. I kill at Hello, Hi, and Howdy. And I crush it on 
How the Hell Are You? I'm even a pretty dab hand at Good-bye. I know them all: See You Later. Ciao. Spater, Gator. All the classics.

But trying to make idle small talk is about as difficult as spatial geometry. At least with spatial geometry, I've got a slight chance of saying something right if I just holler "SEVEN!"

A couple weeks ago, as I was leaving for work, some of the moms on our street were gathered after seeing their kids off to school. One of their very young children hollered to me, "Hi, good morning!"

I called "Hi" back, because as I said, I'm an expert at Hello.

Then one of the moms said, "you got your own morning welcoming committee."

"Oh crap," shrieked my brain. "She said something that wasn't Hello. What do I do? Say something! What are you doing? They're all looking at you. SAY SOMETHING SO THEY DON'T THINK YOU'RE CREEPY!"

"Yeah!" I said, and waved. As I drove away, I started yelling at myself.

"'Yeah?' 'YEAH?!' What is your problem? Someone says something nice, and you respond with 'yeah'?" Great, now I can talk and it's to myself.

"I didn't see you throwing out any great responses, Captain Brainfart."

"You were stumped by a four-year-old and his mom! You could have shouted 'I like potato' for all the good it did. At least that's a complete sentence."

"Oh yeah? Well. . . you have. . . eyebrows. . . are stupid."

And now my day is complete. I can't even argue with myself without sounding like an idiot. Sheldon Cooper is better at small talk than me.

Where I get into real trouble is when someone hits me with something harder than Hello.

Working Hard or Hardly Working? puts me in a panic. How do I answer that? "Yes?" "The first one?" I struggle to find the funny answer versus what I should say when my boss is nearby.

"Who wants to know?" I once said back. My brain screamed, "I thought you were clever!"

The problem is, I try to avoid clichés when I write or talk, so I never know how to deal with them or what to say. Based on my observations of other people, I believe the correct response to this one is to guffaw as if I've never heard it before, and say, "Boy, they'll let anyone in here these days. How you doin', you old so-and-so?"

At least that's how the old men who gather at McDonald's every morning do it. I'll never be in their league.

Hot Enough For You? is another puzzler. When I'm outside in July, my hair is soaked, and my shirt looks like Mickey Mouse hugged me with a wet head, and I'm asked, "hot enough for you," I stare blankly, wondering if they're really that stupid, or if I'm on a new episode of Punk'd.

All I can muster is "it's not the heat, it's the humidity." Just once, I'd like to say something clever like "it's not the heat, it's the stupidity," but my wife says that's rude, so I keep it to myself.

This has been an ongoing problem, and one that I'm not going to solve anytime soon, if ever. If you meet me, just start slowly, and be patient with me. I'm still learning. Stick with the basics. Hello and How Are You are both good.

Just don't ask me where I've been keeping myself. I haven't worked that out yet.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My latest book, The Owned Media Doctrine is now available on

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