Tales from the Man who would be King

Rex Jaeschke's Personal Blog

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s Off to Blog We Go

© 2009 Rex Jaeschke. All rights reserved.

Dear friends and colleagues, welcome to the first posting on my personal blog.

A World of Publishers and Writers

As A.J. Liebling wrote, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." Of the many millions of people having access to the internet, a significant percentage of them have decided that as they can easily create their own blog they too can be publishers and writers. Unfortunately, having something worth publishing does not appear to be a prerequisite.

I arrived in the US in August 1979. Very soon after, I recognized that for a product, idea, or person to be successful in the US [and maybe in most countries] packaging was paramount with substance being a distant second. If you can't get potential customers to look at your wares—typically via some flashy advertisement, scantily clad woman, or other promotional vehicle—the quality of those wares is unimportant. And, as best as I can tell blogging and social networking provide the masses with tools to promote themselves—and to do so shamelessly.

Without substance, you don't get many repeat customers for your products but with a potential customer base of 300 million one-time customers here in the US [and many more if you can sell to the world] you can still do a lot of business., For example, take the prestigious [and fictitious] legal firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, which has been screwing over its clients since 1902! Of course, with substance as well as attractive packaging you literally can "write your own ticket".

Regarding setting up a blog, it is very easy; once I got the software installed, I had a reasonably decent mockup operational within 30 minutes. But what to do after you have played with all the dazzling features? The blogosphere is littered with "publications" having only a handful of entries, fewer than 5 followers (excluding family members, who are "required" to subscribe and to appear interested), and with very long delays between posts. Once the novelty has worn off, most bloggers simply run out of things to say, assuming that is they had anything to say to begin with.

So, does the world need yet another blog? And if so does it need one from me?

Why I Want to Blog

I enjoy writing [I really do], I like reading good and clever writing—George Bernard Shaw, W.S. Gilbert (of the team Gilbert and Sullivan), and Oscar Wilde come to mind immediately—and I've even been known to take an English grammar book on holiday! [That coupled with the fact that I have a copy of the US Constitution by my bed might make me rather odd but then I never was accused of being normal.]

Instead of writing about work-related topics, I've decided to push myself into other areas. However, that doesn't mean I intend to write about things I'm not familiar with. As many of you know, from about 1990 to 2005, I worked only halftime, and after some four years of working more than fulltime since then, once again I am back in part-time mode. As such, I have a very full life outside of my work and I'll draw topics from that.

With this blog, my goals are to do the following:

  1. About once a month, write and post a substantive essay.
  2. Share my perspectives with friends and colleagues in a manner not possible during phone calls, emails, or short in-person visits.
  3. Stimulate discussion and encourage lively interaction and constructive criticism from my readers. (Yes, dear reader, I mean you specifically.)
  4. Take responsibility for my words and set a reasonable example of writing.
  5. Set a respectful tone and discourage knee-jerk reactions. The world definitely does not need more flaming/ranting on blogs, in emails, or other public forums.
  6. Be informative, educational, and, hopefully, a little entertaining.
  7. Do my bit to improve the quality of the blogosphere. You can't improve the process if you don't participate, right?


I see no reason why any of my postings will need to be published in a hurry. To that end, it is very likely that I will write each one over a period of weeks or months so it can be fully baked before its public debut. I certainly plan to have at least two people—with whom I don't always agree—review each one before it is posted. That way, most—if not all—of my errors, missteps, and faux pas will have been detected and fixed.

A Few Rules

This is a personal project; at this time, I do not plan to announce this blog to the world, just to invited guests like you who might be interested readers and possible respondents. And while I'm open to suggestions for topics, style, and so forth, ultimately it's my blog. If you don't like the rules, you can always invent your own game just as I'm doing with this blog. After all, we can all be writers and publishers now!

  1. Although I encourage you to submit comments, they will be moderated. Specifically, they will only appear on my blog once I have reviewed and accepted them. The reason for this is to eliminate spam and other malicious postings. It is also to guard against knee-jerk and potentially offensive replies. If ever you should disagree so much with someone's writing or speech that you "just have to dash off a rebuttal that very instant", then it is highly likely you will embarrass yourself more than them once everyone reads what you wrote while so overcome with emotion. [Regarding emotion, I am a Vulcan.] In such cases, by all means write the response but sleep on it for at least a night if not two or three. Make sure your brain is in-gear before you press the "send" key.
  2. When you submit a comment, I expect you to be responsible for what you write. Specifically, you must use your real name and email address. I can assure you that the comment, "Rex, thou reeky, flap-mouthed clack-dish!!!", posted by someone calling themselves "Aphrodite" or "JuliusCeasar" will be rejected, whereas the same comment from a reader willing to put their real name behind their words will almost certainly make it through the process.
  3. As you write comments, remember that more than a few of my intended readers have never lived in the US, and that their native language is not English. I say this not to try to confine your or their responses in any way, but to remind you that "normal is relative". Not everyone drives on the right, writes a date "month/day/year", has Christmas in winter, or uses the term college to mean a 4-year university.
  4. In order to help me improve the quality of the blogosphere, if you have an English-language spelling checker please run it over your responses and add grammar checking if you can. It has often been said that, "You are how you dress." or "You are what you eat." I'd add to that, "You are how you write." Try to set a good first impression.
  5. Above all, have some fun and don't be intimidated, especially if English is not your first language. Enthusiasm and a willingness to engage in constructive conversation count for a great deal. And if you learn something in the process that's great.



Several years ago, I came across the following poem by the great American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin. It so impressed me that I memorized it, printed a copy, and taped that to the edge of my computer screen where I can see it every time I write.

"If you would not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
Or do things worth the writing."

According to some readers of my technical materials, I have been writing "things worth reading", and more than a few of the readers of my travel diaries have reported that I've been doing things "worth the writing." As such, I am encouraged to try to bring the same success to this blog. I look forward to hearing from you. And, as the dwarfs sang in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's Off to Write I Go."


[For some background on Rex's introduction to English and writing, see the link "Rex on English and Writing" off to the right, under "Useful Information".

Thanks much to John, Scott, and Tom for their help in getting this project launched.]

Comments (15) -

  • John

    12/26/2009 12:01:51 AM | Reply

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!  A nice debut.  Thanks for the invite.  Looking forward to some stimulating essays and exchanges in 2010.

    Have "A Very Crisp Mouse and a Hoppy New Beer!"

  • Wallace Paul

    12/27/2009 12:42:22 PM | Reply

    "Rex, thou reeky, flap-mouthed clack-dish!!!  This looks like a fine idea.  I follow a few blogs and enjoy it.  I'm adding you to my favorites list here and at work.

    Do you want us to include others in the readership- I'm thinking of people like Phil Healey, and will there be a notice when you post?  Month to month can be long at times.  (Never mind, I just noticed the check off box below.)

    This will be fun.


  • John Such

    12/27/2009 8:41:49 PM | Reply

    Congratulations Rex!! This is an interesting project. Your interest in English expression and the writing of discourses and essays is to be commended in a world where the "shorthand" style of SMS's is having a major impact on written expression as we "oldies" know it. It will be interesting to see the comments that your writing generates.

  • Rex

    12/28/2009 10:55:55 AM | Reply

    John T., thanks for those kind words, and a Happy New Year to you too. As we start the new year, here are 10 things to remember:

    1. No one can ruin your day without your permission.
    2. Most people will be about as happy as they decide to be.
    3. Others can stop you temporarily, but only you can do it permanently.
    4. Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have.
    5. Success stops when you do.
    6. When your ship comes in make sure you are willing to unload it.
    7. You will never "have it all together".
    8. Life is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the trip!
    9. The biggest lie on the planet: "When I get what I want, I will be happy".
    10. The best way to escape your problem is to solve it.

    Hello there Wally, thou gnarling, pale-hearted ratsbane. I expect that in Maine you are up to your armpits in snow, which, of course, is like "money in the bank" when you are operating a hydroelectric plant, right?

    Yes, I'm happy to have you pass along the address of the site as you see fit.

    I think the check-off box alerts you when someone has added a new comment, not when I add a new post, but being new to this game I can't be sure of that. In any event, I have a recurring event scheduled on my electronic calendar to post new pieces on the 25th of each month.

    G'day John S. Thanks for your interest. Regarding "oldies", I once heard that old was halfway between your own age and 100, which means that you never get old yourself unless you actually reach 100.

  • Doug

    12/30/2009 6:20:30 PM | Reply

    Rex, I'd like to try to be the first to spam your blog.  I'll wrap the attack in a seemingly bespoke comment, so that it's not too obvious ...

    Your comment about the word "college" reminded me of a fun little book I read recently, which covered the usage of college/university and many other words, and from which I learned how to correctly use the word "bespoke," among other things.  The book is "The Septic's Companion," and the author is a young Scot you've worked with, most recently in Paris earlier this month: Chris Rae.  You can learn all about his silly book here: http://septicscompanion.com/book_info.php [SPAM ALERT]

    Looking forward to a monthly fix of Rex ramblings!

  • Rex

    1/3/2010 10:31:42 AM | Reply

    Thanks much for that pointer Doug. I just went to Chris' site and had a few laughs. Being an Aussie I was familiar with quite a few of his entries, but there were plenty I had not heard before.

    Regarding "bespoke", a month ago, I was flying to Europe and when the newspapers were handed out I took a copy of the Financial Times from London. A whole page was dedicated to several articles about bespoke products and ads by makers of bespoke shirts and suits. It's a word I've seen occasionally over the years (always in a British context) but had never completely understood. Thanks to Chris' dictionary now I now.

  • Gerard Terwisscha

    1/4/2010 6:17:43 AM | Reply

    Hi Rex,

    I've added your blok to my favorites list and look forward to your future blogs. My own writingproject is in its final stages. I will let you know how it ends, if it ends at all.


  • Shawn Villaron

    1/4/2010 11:47:13 PM | Reply

    King Rex,

    Thanks for including me in your blog debut.  I'm greatly looking forward to reading your articles: a departure from a bunch of geeky tech topics would be greatly invited and appreciated.

    Your humble peasant, Shawn

  • Rex

    1/5/2010 8:39:23 AM | Reply

    Thanks Gerard, good luck with the new book. Gerard is originally from the Dutch province of Friesland (formerly an independent country), and I believe that Friesian is his first language. When he's not working or competing in triathlons, he's writing biographies on interesting people from WWII. He introduced me to the scifi is novel series "Riverworld" by Philip Jose Farmer, which I very much enjoyed. Riverworld is the planet where everyone on earth over 6 years old is "reborn" when they die, and they all live there together.

    Dear Humble Peasant Shawn, For services rendered to my realm, I dub thee Knight. Arise Sir Shawn of California! [Taps shoulder with sword.]

  • Felicity Grosse

    1/7/2010 2:39:37 PM | Reply

    Hi Rex,
    Thanks for the invite to participate in my first ever blog and fingers crossed that this, my second attempt to post a response, actually works! I have had a strong tendency to be somewhat technologically challenged and am sure this will be a learning experience for me.
    Whilst I cannot recall the exact content of what I initially wrote, apart from that it was awfully witty and wise, it did refer to my appreciation of, and delight in, the written word and power of language in general. Whilst I think I understand the importance of grammar I have never indulged in such a text for bedside reading. That may soon change as I am currrently grappling with Spanish and realise that my childhood education perhaps left a 'little' to be desired in this area.
    P.S. I am now one of those 57 people in the world without a mobile phone and highly recommend it.

  • Rex

    1/7/2010 3:22:46 PM | Reply

    Hello Felicity (who is currently traipsing through Latin America and recovering from intensive Spanish lessons). At the risk of embarassing both of us I will share with the world a poem I wrote about you more than 30 years ago. It probably won't help my chances of becoming Poet Laureate any time soon. However, nothing is a complete waste; it can always serve as a bad example! So here goes:

        Felicity Jane, had a terrible pain
        Right in the middle of her belly.
        Some said it was, probably because
        She'd had fourteen helpings of jelly!

    [In Australia, jelly is that colored gelatinous desert Americans call "Jello".] Buena suerta mi amiga y bien viaje.

  • Felicity Grosse

    1/13/2010 11:57:30 AM | Reply

    Would it be impertinent to query who moderates the moderator? Anyways it was only 13 helpings!

  • Rex

    1/15/2010 9:44:17 PM | Reply

    Moi! Needing to be moderated! Sacrebleu!

  • Rex

    1/15/2010 9:49:37 PM | Reply

    Regarding Chris Rae's book, "The Septic's Companion", Chris sent me a copy and I've laughed everytime I've read random pages in it. The book does have very amusing reading that is NOT on the website. For example, I was especially interested in his explanation about how in Britain each hour has only 55 minutes, so they have to add a leap day every 2 months or so, where the months are chosen by a televised royal proclamation.

  • Roger Mukai

    2/12/2010 8:41:15 AM | Reply

    Hey Rex!

    Love your site and blog - nicely done!  Raconteur, LOL!  You are indeed!  One of the many qualities that make you "you".  Hope all goes well your way, please send my best to Jenny and Scott.  I've got new and yummy recipes to share whenever you get the time!