Christian Ross

An open letter to my son

Dear Cohen,

I yelled at you today and of course, I shouldn’t have. You didn’t deserve it. 6-year-olds surely don’t. I’ll admit, I was frustrated with you but you were only the straw; I’m not exactly sure where the build up began but sadly the pressure released on you.

I love you. I have high expectations of you. And to be honest, they’re unrealistically high expectations. You’re advanced in so many areas that I often fail to remember that you only have six years or so under your belt. Wisdom doesn’t come overnight yet I often lay that burden on you like it should.

One of the most important things to me is that you turn out to be a better man than I am. That you make better decisions, that you relate better to people, that you set better examples. When I watch you stumble, I see patterns of my life which could potentially be where some of the unleashing stems from. I potentially get upset because I see you only mimicking my bad behavior.

Without turning this on you, here’s a few of areas that I’d love to get better about teaching you but for you to learn them, I know I have to model them.

I realize it takes a lot of nerve to ask for your patience with me as I get better with these things on a day where I potentially made you feel lower than low. I’m a work in progress.


Be others-centered.
I’m sure by now, you’ve seen me in action – I’m a classic one-upper. Many of my interactions with people in life go on while a good majority of my brain is working through what to say next. I’m a weak listener and I dish advice like a street-prophet. Even if I haven’t been there or seen that, I’ve got a story to match it. I’m prideful, vengeful, inwardly focused, and outwardly cynical. I’m like a mixed cocktail of the characteristics that most people avoid all stirred up into one.

Help me and join me in working each day to become less self-centered. Winning is fun but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. You know what matters? Building your brother up instead of tearing him down or repeatedly putting him in second place. Likewise, your mother has constantly traversed the waters of a husband that has all too often put his own interests first for almost 15 years. They both deserve better of us.

When I – and hopefully you by watching my modeled behavior – quit worrying about how we’re perceived, most of the following areas we need to work on should automatically resolve themselves…

How’s your lawn doing?

I’ve made it no secret that I’m allergic to yard work. I enjoy having a decently manicured lawn and I’m most definitely quick to judge when my neighbors get a little lax with theirs, but when it comes time for me to gas up my Troy-Built, I’m apt to find any excuse to avoid my fate. It’s not that mowing is all that hard, but my lawn has a number of strikes against it before I ever pull a cord:

First, it’s St. Augustine, which by look and feel, is awesome. It’s thick, it grows fast, it heals itself, and it’s hearty. On the contrary, all of those great positives quickly become negatives when you have to cut it.

Second, I live in the southern US. My mowing season typically runs from March until late October and I can recall a few times where a February and/or November cut was necessary as well. The only ‘season’ I can safely assume longer than my lawn maintenance routine is the never-ending one known as NASCAR.

Finally, from late May until late September, it’s just plain hot where I live. Last year we set a record for most days over 100F in the history of our area – a record worth bragging very little about to say the least. This year has been slightly better but walking behind a gas propelled engine in anything over 90F is uncalled for.

First world problems, I realize. (more…)

Quality vs Quantity

I had the pleasure of once again publishing a piece for the Read & Trust Newsletter this morning – of which you might be interested in signing up for – which triggered my thinking that it’s probably OK if I actually share some of my previous work I’ve submitted for it. Maybe the statute of limitations has run out on one or two of them and you can get a taste of what you just might be missing out on. Hope it doesn’t get me a seat on the bench.

Here is a piece I did late last Spring on the topic Quality vs Quantity. Instead of doing a straight written piece on the subject, I chose to go a different route and describe my thoughts on quality vs quantity in sketch form. As you can tell, I work with a mouse and a keyboard for a living, not a pencil and paper. I also followed Shawn Blanc by a week on the same subject and by my rough calculations, he was most definitely the winner.

If you’re on the fence about subscribing, I’d encourage you to give it a go. I’m definitely the weakest link in the chain.

Excerpt from Quality vs Quantity

The Movie Test

Nothing says, “I’m ready to settle in for a viewing of The Devil Wears Prada or 29 Dresses,” like a bag of popcorn. My arteries know that quality should win out here but if you think I’m settling for some weak, butter-free, half-bag of kernals, you are sorely mistaken. I’ll take the jumbo-mega-super-large bag with extra butter. It’s the only one that comes with free refills.

Winner: Quantity

Care to read the rest? Quality vs Quantity

The Oxford Comma

Like you, I’ve been contemplating the use of Oxford commas quite a bit recently.

Some of it is due to my 2011 summer obsession of Vampire Weekend and their homage to it (NSFW: language) and some of it has just been due to how I feel when I actually write something out.

For those who aren’t hip to the comma-scene these days, the Oxford comma – aka the Serial comma – is that tricky little guy that comes last in your list just before the AND or the OR in a sentence.

The AP Stylebook treats the Oxford comma as you would a hideous beast and vows to never allow it to see the light of day. Think “Sloth” Fratelli, the monster from Goonies. Alternatively, the Chicago Manual of Style preaches it from the mountain top as if it were a double rainbow.

I remember being taught as a kid that the last comma in a list wasn’t necessary except for when it was — clear as mud. So for the most part of my life I have subscribed to the fact that I don’t really need it which would make me an AP-man for my beliefs. Recently however, the non-implementation of the Oxford comma has started to bother me more and more and I think I am ready to switch it up for a while.

I suppose the best way to explain my flip-flopping is by example, read this bad boy and make sense of it:

My breakfast of choice consists of milk, bacon and eggs and hash browns.

If we break it down, my list could either be read as:
1. milk
2. bacon
3. eggs and hash browns

1. milk
2. bacon and eggs
3. hash browns

I’d prefer to take the uncertainty out of it and I believe that single little character might just do the trick.

My breakfast of choice consists of milk, bacon and eggs, and hash browns.

I realize that I could also reorder my list but what if I eat my foods in a certain order? Then I would just be a liar.

Oxford comma, friend or foe? Comment here or take it to the streets.

Social Media – A Vested Interest

The timing of Ben’s thoughts and Chris’ response have me wondering how many others are dealing with a similar issue of how to control – and express publicly – their social media consumption. I have been contemplating both my usage and the perception of my usage in this arena for some time now.

Where I Network

I make no bones about not being on Facebook. I’ve spouted a number of reasons over the years but most of it boils down to about three things:

  1. 1. I don’t trust them – the shady nature of their data-practices is too hard for me to overlook.
  2. 2. I don’t dig the forced, two-way communication it is formed around.
  3. 3. If we didn’t get along in high school, what makes you think we should buddy up at this point in life?

I’ve heard everything from “you just don’t get it,” to “you’re failing your clients by not being a part of it,” and a few other things in between. None of which I’ve bought into yet.

The concept I understand, and the draw of connecting with others, I empathize, but they’ve hardly done enough to get me to open up my personal digital-trail for the long haul. (You do realize once you’ve signed up you can’t ever actually delete your profile/info, right? It’s in the Terms of Service you didn’t read.) (more…)