A brilliant app idea that I'm giving away for free. Take it. Make it. I'll be your first customer.

Here's my vision:

I'm driving down Starr Boulevard in some tiny town in Somewhereville, USA. I come to a traffic light and stop. I remove my phone, click on the app, and instantly, I am transmitted information about the name of this street.

  • Why Starr?
  • Why the double R?
  • Is the street named after a person, and if so, who was it and what did he or she do to deserve the honor of a street name?

I've considered writing a book that explains all of the street names for a random town in the United States. My hometown, perhaps. 

Here's the one problem about my app (and probably my book idea):

I may be the only person in the world who is intensely curious about this topic and desperately wants this information. 

So it might not be quite as profitable as you were hoping.



Brace yourselves for the greatest app recommendation that you may ever receive:

Wakie, the world's first social alarm clock. 

The new app, available on iPhone and Android, replaces the generic alarm clock with a friendly wake-up call from a stranger somewhere around the globe.

Simply sign up, submit your phone number and register as either a “Sleepy” or a “Wakie” – depending on whether you want to do the waking or be woken up. Then set an alarm for the time you want to get out of bed, and within five minutes either side of the time requested, a stranger – who may be on the other side of the world  – will call with a morning message.

Since I began using this app last month, I have been awakened by a child in Germany, a woman in Essex, England, an Australian farmer, an Irish mother, and others in the US and abroad. Sometimes it's a five second call and sometimes it's a five minute conversation.

Either way, it's amazing. 

Admittedly, it's a little challenging to use if you have a spouse in bed who is intent on sleeping past 4:30 AM. When the Wakie alarm fires off, I must launch myself from the bed and flee to the bathroom in order to conduct my conversation, so I don't use it everyday. 

But those morning that I do are joyous.

Sometimes it's a person reading an early morning greeting.

Other times it's a person intent on knowing where I live and what I do for a living. 

The other day, a man from the United States ask, "So? You awake?" When I told him I was, he said, "Then get moving! You'll be dead before you know it!"

That man understood my soul.

I've had conversations with people in England, Italy, Germany, Australia, and all over the United States. It's been amazing. 

A couple weeks ago I ended up in a conversation with a woman in Oregon who learned that I am an author and pre-ordered my upcoming novel (which you should all do, too).

Forget your alarm clock. Mindless beeps and buzzes are for losers. Give Wakie a try. Make your first interaction of the day a mysterious, interesting, unexpected, and perhaps even profitable one.  

Changes to this website and blog are coming. Thoughts?

Sometime next week, this blog and my entire website will be migrating over to a new platform. I have built a new website and spent the last month duplicating content on the new site in addition to adding new material as well.


The look will be different, and the interface will hopefully be better, but the actual content will remain the same. The entire blog, for example, including all comments and images posted over the last six years, have already been embedded on the new site. Nothing will be lost. 

This change will also make it possible to launch our first podcast, as well as reach out to readers, writers, and storytellers for a variety of other reasons.

We’re excited.

If you would like to take a peek at the changes about to happen, I would love your feedback. You can take an early look at the nearly complete website - including the blog - by clicking here.

Why do I blog? Because it’s nearly led to national television, and it still might. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve been blogging for over ten years now. Every single day for more than a decade, I have sat down and written something for a blog. Before this blog, there was another, and before that one, there was my first, born in a blogging class at Trinity College.

I am often asked why I continue to write a blog. Is it worth the time? Doesn’t it ever become a burden? Wouldn’t the time spent writing it be better spent working on my books?

I’m often asked if I generate income from my blog, and while there was once a time when I did – and maybe someday I will profit from my blog posts again – I don’t do it for the money.

There are many reasons why I write a blog. Too many to list in just one blog post. But this past week was a clear indication of just one of the reasons:

Back in 2011, I wrote a post proposing that brides and grooms hire me as their professional best man. While I was serious about my skill set and the need for this position, I never thought that anyone would actually take me up on it. Last Saturday – with an hour of each other – two prospective clients (one bride and one groom) contacted me via email, inquiring  about my professional best man services, and it looks like I will actually be hired by at least one of them for their wedding. They aren’t the first to reach out to me. In the past two years, six other potential clients have contacted me, and in all instances, geography and scheduling were barriers to employment.

Still, just to be contacted was amazing.

In addition, three different reality show producers and a documentarian from the UK have contacted me over the past two years, asking if I would like to be a part of a potential television show about a professional best man.

Six months ago, actor and comedian Kevin Hart also contacted me to give me credit fro coming up with the professional best man idea before he did for his most recent film.

All because of a simple blog post.


On Sunday, I spent about an hour on the phone talking to a booker at Fox & Friends about appearing on their national morning show to discuss a post I wrote in 2014 about my failed attempt at becoming a member of the social network BeautifulPeople.com. This past week, Beautiful People kicked off about 3,000 members for no longer being beautiful enough, and for a moment, I was going to appear on their show to discuss my experiences. Ultimately, they found someone who had been actually kicked off the site and went with her instead, but none of it would’ve ever happened had I not written that blog post.


And although this opportunity didn’t work out, the booker liked me and plans to use me on their weekend parenting panels, so I may still have my shot at national television.

There are many, many reasons why I have been writing a blog post every day for more than a decade, but one of them is this:

The unexpected, unpredictable, unbelievable doors that blogging sometimes opens.

Curt Shilling is wrong about evolution, but his response to Internet trolls was commendable and enough to make this Yankees fan cheer.

As a New York Yankees fan – as well as someone who supports science and knows that evolution is real – I’ve never been a fan of Curt Shilling.


But when Shilling took to Twitter last week to congratulate his daughter on her invitation to pitch for the Salve Regina University baseball team, Internet trolls emerged from under their bridges in numbers that Shilling never expected.

“I expected the trolls. The one kid kind of came at me and said, ‘I can’t wait to take your daughter out.’ Kind of borderline stuff, which again, I expected. I’ve been on the Internet since, I started playing on computers in 1980, so I understand how it works and I knew there would be stuff. The stuff that they did, that is not bad or vile, it’s illegal. It’s against the law.”

“When that started -- again, I thought it might be a one-off, but then it started to steamroll. And then [my daughter] started to get private correspondence and then I said 'OK, this needs to get fixed.’ This generation of kids doesn’t understand, and adults too, doesn’t understand that the Internet is not even remotely anonymous.”

Shilling went on the offensive, attacking the trolls on his blog and identifying a handful of the offenders.

One of the offenders – a part-time ticket-seller for the Yankees – has been fired, the team’s director of communications confirmed to NJ.com. Another, a student at a community college in New Jersey, was reportedly suspended from school.

As the victim of an large scale, anonymous attack on my professional credibility several years ago, I understand the power that a person has when they hide behind the curtain of anonymity and hurl false accusations and libelous statements at people who are unable to confront their accusers. I also understand how anonymity can embolden a person to say terrible things that they would never dare say in public.

Shilling refers to his not-so-anonymous offenders as “garbage” on his blog. I have often called them cowards, but I like garbage a lot, too.


Unlike Shilling, I was never able to positively identify the persons responsible in my case, mostly because the cowards (or pieces of garbage) used old fashioned paper and ink, thereby eliminating any digital trail (though the search for their identities remains active). As a staunch  advocate of free speech, I believe in the power of using that freedom to publicly identify people who make threats and spout hatred and vulgarity online.

It’s time to pull back that curtain of electrons and force people to own their words.  

Shilling may be wrong when it comes to evolution, and that stupid bloody sock may have been completely overblown, but when it comes to his response to Internet trolls, Shilling has my full support.  

The sooner we let these cretins know that they cannot hide behind their computer screens, the sooner they will crawl back under their bridges and leave the rest of us alone.

Nine rules for making you more efficient with email and less of a jerk face

1. Email is often a means of informal communication. As such, you can dramatically decrease the amount of time spent with email with short, efficient replies like, ‘Thanks” and “Understood” and “Agreed.” Dispense with formalities whenever possible and increase efficiency. image

2. Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) is often the tool of the passive aggressive coward. Before including an email address in this field, always ask yourself why you are using it. If you’re trying to hurt or embarrass someone or conceal something, knock it off, jerk face.

3. Never send an email written to express your anger or disappointment with someone. Those emotions are better conveyed over the phone or in person, where unnecessary aggression and excessive vitriol cannot be shielded by the passive aggressive nature of email. In other words, don’t be a coward. If you’re upset, pick up the phone.

4. “I sent that angry email because I express myself better in the written form and was too anger to speak” is never an excuse for violating rule #3.

5. If you receive an angry email, pick up the phone and respond immediately. The faster, the better. The best way to handle a passive-aggressive person is in an aggressively direct manner. Angry email senders tend to be people who do not handle conflict well and therefore hide behind technology. Pulling back the technological curtain will be uncomfortable for them and will often knock them off their position.

6. Inbox zero should be your goal, if only for productivity and efficiency purposes. Leaving email in your inbox forces you to look at that email every time you access your mail application, which takes time and energy. It’s akin to sifting through the same growing pile of mail every day to find a specific letter or bill. Inbox zero will eliminate the time required to take action on incoming emails by not adding them to an already enormous pile.


7. Use a mail application that allows you to schedule a time when you want an email to hit your inbox. Turn email into something that you receive when you want to receive it. For me, this is Mailbox, though many other applications offer similar functionality. I often reschedule incoming email for a designated time during the day when I plan to read and respond, thereby keeping my inbox empty and enjoying the benefits of rule #6.

If I receive an email pertaining to taxes, I reschedule it to hit my inbox on April 1.

If my team receives an email requesting action on our part, I reschedule it to hit my inbox in 24 hours in the hopes that one of my colleagues will handle the request before I need to.

I also use the “Someday” time frame in Mailbox to randomly reschedule emails that make me smile or feel good about myself, allowing me to experience the joy of receiving that email all over again.


8. Respond to emails that require action as quickly as possible, and always within 24 hours. Failing to respond to an email – even if your response is “I’ll get back to you tomorrow” – projects the image of a person who is overwhelmed, disorganized, and inefficient.

9. Choose subjects for your emails that will allow your readers to identify the general purpose of the email without actually opening it and help you search for that email in the future.

Wanted: Photographs of sofas and slippers and well appointed thermostats. Please?

My Facebook feed has been full of wine over the past couple days.

Wine glasses set before roaring fires. Wine glasses being clinked in celebration. Wine glasses standing beside the spines of books and sleeping dogs and flickering candles.

It’s a funny thing. I spent last night drinking cold water from a steel water bottle. It was refreshing. Delightful, really. But I’d never think to post a photograph of it on social media.

Yet alcohol, and especially wine, seems to be the drink de jour. The universal symbol of relaxation. Celebration. There are moments when it seems as if half of the status updates in my Facebook feed include alcohol of some kind. Photos from bars and restaurants. References to wine and beer and spirits. Lamentations about the need for more alcohol. Boasts about the amount of alcohol already consumed.

I don’t drink. I belong to the tiny fraction of the population that doesn’t have a drinking problem but simply opts to not drink. I’ll have a glass of champagne when celebrating with friends or rare glass of wine at dinner, but otherwise, a soda or a water does me just fine. Makes me quite happy, in fact.

But water and soda don’t possess the inexplicable prestige that alcohol does. Water and soda – in some high school kind of way – aren’t cool. Posting a photograph of my bottle of water on Facebook would be ridiculous.

Settling in for a night of reading, writing, and maybe a little TV with my beautiful wife and some cold water. #perfection


Strange, Right?

But of all the things we could photograph to symbolize our relaxation, so many of us choose alcohol. I think it’s just as strange as my water bottle.

I sometimes wonder if all of this attention that alcohol receives isn’t the residue of a time when we couldn’t drink alcohol legally. When you’re 16 years-old and you start drinking, you feel mature. Sophisticated. Cool. Ahead of the game. Maybe those positive associations permanently attach themselves to alcohol in a way that causes people to view a glass of wine or bourbon as a powerful symbol of their adulthood. Their own prestige.

I didn’t start drinking until after graduating high school. Maybe I lack that residue.  

I’m spit balling here, I’ll admit. I guess what I really want to say is this:

What the hell is with all the photos of wine and references to spirits on Facebook, people? How about a photograph of our couch instead? Or the book that you’re reading? Or your slippers? Or the quilt that you have wrapped around your body? Aren’t all of these things just as relaxing as that glass of wine, strategically framed by the light of your fireplace?

How about an occasional sofa? Or a pillow? Or a thermostat set to a toasty 72 degrees?

If nothing else, for the sake of a little diversity. 

Hack a friend’s Facebook profile. Have fun and do some good all at the same time.

I have a friend who does not passcode protect her phone. I don’t passcode protect mine, either. I feel like anyone who needs a passcode on their phone is hiding something, and I simply don’t have time for it. So I don’t blame my friend for her lack of security.

In fact, I love it.

Whenever she leaves her phone behind, in a meeting, in her classroom, or even at the table for a minute or two, I grab it and begin to change her Facebook settings.

I change her relationship status from Engaged to It’s Complicated.


I change her birthday so she receives the barrage of birthday messages on the wrong day.

Your Facebook profile has a spot for your favorite quote. I once posted a quote about myself in her profile, and it took her more than a year to notice it.

It’s annoying as hell for her.

It’s funny as hell for me.

She’s not the only person I have done this to. I have hacked the Facebook profiles of two others, but they don’t know that I have done it yet. I have buried odd and embarrassing information in their Facebook profiles that they have yet to see.

It makes me so happy.

I mentioned this prank on Twitter over the weekend in a response to a comment about Facebook relationship statuses and received an enormous response from admiring and appreciative followers who never thought of pulling off a prank like this.

I was happy to help.

So go forth. Add a favorite quote to your friend’s Facebook profile. Change a religious affiliation. Assign a friend a February 29 birthday. Add a prison to the places where your friend once lived. Change a relationship status.

In the most recent case, changing my my friend’s relationship status from Engaged to It’s Complicated worked out well. When she reverted her status back to Engaged, it appeared in her friends’ feed again, and many, who failed to notice the change before, suddenly became aware of her pending nuptials. She received a barrage of congratulatory messages as a result. 

I was actually doing her a favor. And having fun in the process.

I bet that she’s secretly happy that I did it.

The best use of cell phone jamming technology is not being utilized, and I don’t understand why.

In an attempt to ensure safe driving conditions during his commute to work, a Florida man used a cell phone jammer in his car to keep nearby motorists off their phones. 

After two years, Metro PCS reported to the FCC that every day for two years their cell towers had experienced unexplained interference near a stretch of I-4 between Seffner and Tampa during the morning and evening commutes.

The FCC investigated and detected wideband emissions coming from a blue Toyota Highlander SUV belonging to cellphone vigilante Jason R. Humphreys. Humphreys admitted that he was using the jammer, and this week the feds slapped him with a $48,000 fine.

I understand why motorists should not be allowed to use a cell phone jammers. Not only can these jammers interfere with 911 and law enforcement communications, but passengers are free to use cell phones in automobile, and some motorists use their cell phones as GPS devices.

What I don’t understand is why we aren’t deploying jamming technology in movie theaters. Why can’t each individual theater include a cell phone jammer to keep the idiots off their phones during the film? I know many people who no longer go to the movies because of the idiots who text and sometimes even place phone calls during movies. Eliminating the ability to use these devices inside the theater seems like the best use of a cell phone jammer ever.

If you need the phone, go to the lobby. Go to the restroom. There was a time, not so long ago, when going to the movies meant disconnecting from our friends, family and babysitters completely during the duration of the film.

Is it unreasonable to ask that we maintain this same level of disconnection within the actual theater?

Would any rationale person object to the jamming of cell phones inside the theater?

Can someone please make this happen? Or at least create an app that identifies movie theaters where cell service is spotty or nonexistent?

Starting early

To think that I didn’t begin using a computer until I was eighteen years old, and I was an early adopter.  

I have students who have great difficulty using a mouse pad.

One of my friends still routinely connects a large, bulky mouse to his laptop. 

For better or worse, my children’s generation (and my son in particular) are exceptionally adept at using technology. I sometimes think that it’s locked in their DNA.

image image image image

This level of maturity is unacceptable.

Author Salman Rushdie tweeted the following on Sunday:

I'm signing off Twitter for a while. Book to finish, etc. See you when it's done in a year or so. It has been fun, even when it hasn't. Bye.

Talk about a humble brag.

Take an extended vacation from Twitter if you must, but don’t make the rest of us feel pathetic for not having the discipline and mental fortitude to do the same. 


Microsoft can even ruin the bra.

When it comes to my computer, I’m not an Apple guy.

I don’t like to engage in long, heartfelt conversations about my laptop, which seems necessary if I were to purchase a Mac.

I lack the required smugness.

And despite all attempts, I have yet to achieve an orgasm over a reduction in buttons and the sleek design of brushed, anodized aluminum.


Bu Microsoft’s smart bra, which alerts women to their stress levels, so that they might avoid “emotional overeating” might finally force me to purchase a Mac.

Sometimes a company is so stupid and so offensive that I am incapable of supporting them any longer.

Siri on the NFL and MLB

I was on my way home from a sports bar after watching the New England Patriots beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

My wife was in the kitchen, making dinner, and wanted to know who had won the game. She turned to her iPhone and asked Siri for the score.

I loved Siri’s responses:

image image

I also loved Siri’s report on the Giants versus Panthers game, as well as her answer to the question, “What is your favorite NFL team?”

image image

When I asked her if she liked the New York Yankees, her answer was just about perfect:


I applied for BeautifulPeople.com, a social network for only the most beautiful of people. Here are the results of the voting.

I read about the social network BeautifulPeople.com in a piece in TIME magazine.

BeautifulPeople was originally launched as a dating site that billed itself as “an exclusively beautiful community.” It recently added an employment feature on the website intended for employers who want to hire “good-looking staff.”

To be granted entry to BeautifulPeople, individuals must submit a headshot that is voted upon by existing members of the opposite sex. If one is deemed beautiful enough to gain entry – a process the company claims is “fair and democratic” – not only will you “have access to the most attractive people locally and from around the globe,” but job seekers will also be able to look through the site’s job listings, apply directly to companies and network with other presumably “beautiful” people.

How could I not try to become a member of BeautifulPeople?

After uploading my headshot, I began the 48 hour process in which women who are already members of the social network voted on my level of  attractiveness.   

The voting is fairly transparent. At any time, you can see how you are faring on the attractiveness scale, as well as your current IN/OUT standing.

Right out of the gate, it was looking good. Solidly IN but not so much that I could brag. Just the right amount of IN, I thought.


About fifteen hours later, I was still IN, though my margin of error has diminished considerably.

Sunday 6AM

I also noted that there were not a lot of “Beautiful” votes, but a bunch of women had rated me as “Hmmmm OK.”

I could live with that. Even if this was my wife’s assessment of my physical  appearance, I could live with it. But I won’t lie. The substantial number of “No” and “Absolutely Not” votes hurt a little.

It was at this point (perhaps as a defense mechanism) that I began to feel like acceptance to this social network was not something I really wanted. Anonymous strangers were evaluating my level of attractiveness for the sole purpose of determining if I could be a member of their group. This struck me as worse than high school. I felt a little dirty. I thought I might be embarrassed about my acceptance into this exclusive group.

What kind of people would engage in this kind of image obsessed behavior?

Suddenly my IN/OUT status didn’t seem so important.

Five hours later, my status had decreased slightly. Almost imperceptibly. 

6-9 11AM

Just like that, my IN/OUT status mattered a lot. I was still considered beautiful enough to be permitted access to the group, but only by the slightest of margins. And that margin appeared to be closing fast.

What the hell was wrong with these people? I may not be legitimately beautiful, but I’m at least two clicks above average, damn it.

I was angry. I wanted in. I deserved to be in. 

Six hours later, the margin of error had increased a bit.

6-9 5PM

Still almost no “Beautiful” votes but enough “Hmmmm OK” votes to apparently make up for the growing pile of “No” and “Absolutely Not” ratings.

I was feeling a little better. A majority of women thought I was cute. At least the algorithm said so.

Just three hours later, all hell broke loose.

Not really, but I dropped from IN to OUT for the first time. It appeared that my overall rating was exactly in the middle of the continuum, and yet I was OUT. Apparently average doesn’t pass muster on BeautifulPeople.com.

Stupid algorithm. 

6-9 9PM

I took solace in the small uptick of “Beautiful” votes.

Not really.

When I was IN, I didn’t care about BeautifulPeople.com. In fact, I almost wanted to be OUT.

Now that I was OUT, I wanted nothing more than to be IN. I would’ve given my right arm to be IN.

I’m left handed. 

I stayed away from the website for 9 hours before checking again. I couldn't bare the heartache and disappointment. But when I returned, my feelings of rejection were washed away with good news. I was IN again, and by one of the widest margin thus far!

6-10 5AM

Not only was I IN, but my “Beautiful” votes had soared. Women who I would never see or speak to considered me beautiful.

What more could a man want?

Then I got cocky. I assumed that this wide margin would only continue to grow over time. I began planning ways of telling my friends and family about my verified attractiveness. I would bring it up casually in conversation, I decided, perhaps at the mention of another social network like Facebook or Twitter. I wouldn’t brag. Beautiful people don’t need to brag, I would simply be informative.

With about an hour to go before voting closed, I checked back in again, this time on my phone. I was dumbstruck. 


This had to be a mistake. I refreshed the screen, hoping for a glitch that I knew didn’t exist. Even worse, because I was on my phone now, the screen size caused the ratings to seem to change. I looked as if some of the women who had originally voted me “Beautiful” had changed their votes to “No” or “Absolutely Not.” 

I was crushed. What were the chances that things would change again within the hour?

Not good, I thought.

When the voting closed a little more than an hour later, I received an email from BeautifulPeople.com. It read:

Dear MatthewDicks,

Unfortunately, your application to BeautifulPeople was not successful.
Please note, only one in five applicants are currently accepted into BeautifulPeople.com

Even though your application was not successful, there are several things that can affect the outcome which you should be aware of:

      • Wearing Sunglasses on the application photo
      • More than one person on the photo
      • Bad quality photo
      • Lack of profile description

BeautifulPeople encourages you to try again.

Please make sure you take the time to check all your details before applying, as this will dramatically increase your chances of being accepted in by our members.

We wish you all the best success.


I tried to find a silver living in the email.

Only one in five applicants were currently being accepted. In other words, “You are not in the top twenty percent in terms of attractiveness, loser.”

I looked at the list of factors that might have contributed to my failure. None applied to me. I was not wearing sunglasses. I was alone in my photo. The headshot had been taken by a professional photographer, and my profile description had been written by a publicist.

It couldn’t get much better.

Perhaps a fifth bullet should have read:

    • Sadly, you provided an actual photograph of yourself. This was the cause of your downfall.

Yet there was a glimmer of hope. BeautifulPeople.com was encouraging me to apply again, and I will. Same photograph. Same bio. The one thing I will change will be my timing.

When I was dating, I learned that timing is everything.

A girl who would ordinarily never date you could be convinced to give you a chance if you caught her on the rebound.

A girl who showed no interest in you could be convinced of your charm and wit with a couple glasses of wine and the right atmosphere.

A girl who never noticed you might suddenly find you intriguing if another girl was showing interest.

Timing matters. My plan is to apply for BeautifulPeople.com again at a time when people are feeling especially happy and possibly generous.

I’m thinking Labor Day weekend.

Everyone loves a three day weekend, and though Labor Day often signals an end to the summer to many, it is a weekend filled with barbeques and good times. Perhaps if the members of BeautifulPeople.com are spending the weekend at the beach or at parties, they will be feeling slightly more generous than usual.   

The good news is I don’t need much to gain access to this loathsome and highly appealing social network. I was on the cusp on entry for the entire 48 hour period. All I need to do is catch a few more female members on the right day, at the right time, and I’m IN.

Labor Day weekend. That is my plan. That is when I will be beautiful, I hope.

I’ll let you know how it goes.   

What is your most outdated device?

Yahoo News recently asked some of the best technology writers in the world spill the beans on the most outdated gadgets they still own.

Our most outdated gadget is our television, a 42-inch Toshiba projection television from 2002. It’s a behemoth. Tall, deep and wide, it takes up an enormous chunk of real estate in our back room.

Even worse, it’s standard definition (keeping my friends from ever coming over the house to watch sports) and isn’t equipment to  connect to the Internet for streaming purposes. Instead, we continue to receive our Netflix subscription by mail in the form of DVDs.


The only other television in the house is in our bedroom. It’s a 27-inch tube television that is at least 15 years old.

I’d like to purchase a new television that’s equipped for this century, but my problem is twofold:

1. My old television works just fine, and my wife and I watch less than an hour of television a day on average. It’s difficult to justify the purchase of something we use so infrequently.

2. We are always thinking about moving to a slightly bigger home, and I’m afraid that the television we purchase will be too large or too small for the room that it might someday occupy. 

So we wait.

We will either move to a new house and leave this monstrosity of a television behind, or it will finally stop working, forcing me to finally purchase a new one.

For now, my television remains a relic of a time when the only means of bringing a television signal into your home was through a cable box, and flat screen TVs could only be found in science fiction movies.

My son is not a USB device

I do a lot of writing with my infant son on my lap.

Yesterday he was chewing on the cord that connects my phone to the laptop. Unbeknownst to me, he eventually worked his way up to the end of the cord and placed the connecter in his mouth.

I immediately received a warning message on the bottom right of my screen.


Here is a closer view of the warning.

While my son is not a USB device, I give my laptop credit for realizing that whatever was interacting with the cord was not normal.


Why do I use Twitter? Because I am a reader first.

Many authors have little use for the pretension of hermetic distance and never accepted a historically specific idea of what it means to be a writer.

This was a quote from a New York Times piece on why authors use Twitter.

I like it a lot.

The piece attempts to explain why authors use Twitter by quoting a handful of well known authors and positing several reasons for the desire to reach out via social media.

For me, the easy answer is that Twitter allows me to easily connect and communicate with readers, critics, editors, book bloggers, writers, agents and other people in the publishing industry.

A quick analysis at the people I communicated with through Twitter in the last seven days reveals six new readers, four book bloggers, the book critic for a national newspaper, two New York Times bestselling authors, one publicist, four authors who have yet to hit the bestselling list (but are no less impressive), three editors, two social media experts, three podcasters, three books reps and a number of friends and unidentifiable followers.

These are people from around the world. Norway, Belgium, Canada, Shanghai, the UK, and at least six US states.

They are people who have taught me a great deal, directed me to invaluable resources, made me laugh and supported my work.

Without Twitter, there is little chance that I would have ever connected with any of these people.

But that is the easy answer.

The real reason that I use Twitter is because I am also a reader, and as such, Twitter allows me to connect with other readers in order to learn about books that might appeal to me.

Best of all, it allows me to communicate with the authors of some of my favorite books.

Just last week I tweeted as part of the FridayReads hash tag that THE POUT POUT FISH had recently become my daughter’s favorite book.

A few hours later, the author, Debbie Diesen (a New York Times bestselling author) tweeted back, thanking me for the mention of her book. We've exchanged a few tweets since that initial communication, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to hear from the author of a book that I have read to my daughter at least twenty times.

Imagine how exciting it would have been had my three-year old been a little older and could appreciate the fact that the author of her favorite book was so easily accessible.

This is why I use Twitter.  Even though I am an author myself, the star power of the author has not eroded for me in any way.

And 2012 was a banner year in terms of star power. Throughout the course of the year, I was fortunate enough to exchange tweets with dozens of authors including such household names as Chris Bohjalian, Jennifer Weiner, Jasper Fford, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.

Some of these were exceedingly brief exchanges, but others have resulted in ongoing conversations and near friendships (as much as you can become someone’s friend through Twitter).

Every exchange, regardless of length, thrilled me, and I try to remember this in my capacity as an author. While I find it preposterous to think that a reader might find it thrilling to be able to reach out to me, I’ve learned as a teacher that it’s difficult to imagine the impact that you can have on someone’s life.

I nearly leapt out of my chair when I saw Margaret Atwood’s tweet directed to me last year.

While I don’t think anyone will be jumping out of any chair for me, I like to think that I might be able to bring a sliver of excitement to a reader who has taken the time to reach out to me.

The power and ubiquity of the Twitter

My wife and I are listening to Jeffrey Toobin’s THE OATH: THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE AND THE SUPREME COURT. In learning about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views on gender equality, I found myself wanting to ask her about her position on the military draft.

A moment later, I was annoyed, realizing that it was unlikely that she was on Twitter.

It’s remarkable how the lines of communication have shrunken in today’s world. Thanks to Twitter, I now expect to be able to reach out to almost anyone in the world without any trouble, and oftentimes I have.

I’ve chatted via Twitter with authors like Margaret Atwood and Jennifer Weiner, celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Sarah Siilverman, television broadcasters like John Dickerson and a number of political figures, just to name a few. Twitter is a great melting pot, where the known and the unknown can rub shoulders and exchange ideas with relative ease.

As a result, I’ve come to expect that I can reach just about anyone I want via the medium, even though the great majority of my real life friends and colleagues do not use Twitter. And for the most part, this has been true. Even though the people to whom I am closest are unreachable via Twitter, most of the newsmakers of the world are, and I’ve been able to reach out to them repeatedly throughout the past two years. 

But a 79-year old Supreme Court Justice?

I thought the odds were extremely low.

But when I checked, I found an account for Ginsburg under @RuthBGinsburg. It’s not a verified account, so I have no way of knowing if it’s actually her, but the tweets seem to suggest that they might be coming from the Supreme Court Justice. They are tempered, reasoned and express ideas that you might expect from her. 

Still, with Twitter, you never know.

I posed my question anyway and await a reply.