Super Tojosan!

Super Tojosan!

Originally uploaded by Nanna J

Yep, that’s me!


Self-Hosted and all in one piece

Last night The Broad Brush moved to self-hosting mode.  It is now hosted at Dreamhost and running WordPress 2.5.1.  There were minimal issues moving to the new platform but all of the posts, pages and comments made it.

I’m looking forward to enjoying the site more as the blog publisher and hopefully you’ll enjoy it more too.  The feed has been shifted here, no need to change a thing if you subscribe via Feedburner.   For everyone else, the blog is now at

Let the party begin!

What I learned about blogging while shopping at American Greetings

     It’s Mother’s Day weekend, so of course that finds me buying a card on the busiest day for it.  My wife was off to buy some clothes while I shopped for her card.  At her suggestion, I chose the American Greetings store.

     Right away I spotted the perfect extra to go with the card, long stemmed crafted flowers.  Picking those up, I also quickly found the perfect card.  One of my best shopping experiences at a card store. This particular store, though small, is well used by us, so I wasn’t surprised at this. What surprised me was the counter experience.

     The young lady behind the counter took the flowers and the card and began ringing them up.  Still things are fine at this point, but then a 2nd counter person takes her place, and she ran off to the back of the store for something urgent.  I’m still good though, as the new clerk finishes ringing me up, and mentions a discount.

     I told her thank you and then went to use the credit card machine. It was hung up. It showed a total but not the one matching what she’d just said, and the credit/debit click spots weren’t working.  We agreed I’d just let her scan the card behind the counter, and I handed it over.  She decided to check the total first.  That’s when it suddenly went down hill.

     The manager showed and um, how should I say this, ‘took over.’  She took my credit card from the other lady and chastised her, and rudely took over at the register.  The manager proclaimed she’d have to re-ring the whole thing and in a loud voice, declared to the clerk, “..if he’s going to argue about it, let’s do it over.”

     Talk about an oh my gosh experience. To watch her treat this other employee rudely was embarrassing for me and the employee, but to be spoken of in the third person and have it stated I was arguing, was almost too much.  Had they not had my intended purchase behind the counter, I’d have walked out immediately.

     I then mentioned to the manager that things were fine and that I had not argued with the clerk.  She uttered something about having re-ring and had the clerk help her ring the items.  The manager then explained to me how she was going ring the flowers and proceeded to do so.  To wrap up the effort, she grabs a stray sticker off the counter, and was about to ring it up for me too.  She then asked if it was mine. It took me a moment to realize what she’d done and was asking, and to add to the confusion, she asked me a few times repeatedly if this was mine.

     Once I realized what it was, I told her no. She completed ringing it out and read me the total.  It was the same as the previous total.  Again the card reader was hung. I showed her the reader.  Her response? A quick lecture about how they couldn’t reboot the reader until there were no more customers, and appeared to shrug and sigh at that, before asking me for my card again.

     I took my receipt from her, signed the slip and left.  And so here we are.  To the lessons learned during my visit to American Greetings.

  • Don’t treat us impersonally or talk about us, we will remember it
  • Don’t treat others rudely, we are empathetic and will feel like you did it to us
  • Your image isn’t what you sell, it’s how you sell it
  • If things don’t work right, it isn’t our fault, and don’t make us feel like it is
  • Overall the experience we have should be one that welcomes us back again

     Though not profound, these are key to how you run a blog or a business.  I find I forget about the overall experience at times.  If I want readers back, they need to feel welcome to be here.

     What have your shopping experiences taught you about blogging or running your own business? How would this experience have affected you? Would you shop there again with other choices?  Share with us.

((* the image is by merfam, and is licensed through Creative Commons))

Bloggers Assemble!

Bloggers Assembled

     It was a rainy Chicago afternoon and evening, on a Spring day in May.  They’d come from all over the United States and the World.  Views and opinions as diverse as their points of origin.  Powers of observation and writing never before brought together were no in one place, on one busy block.

     Who were they?  Superheroes? Power brokers? Yes! They were Bloggers! And they came to take Chicago!  Well, not actually that last part, but it sounds better yes?

     SOBCon08 had drawn bloggers of all types.  Bloggers of politics mixed with technology bloggers as well as mommy bloggers.  Each brought with them not just a desire to learn and be engaged for the weekend, but they came to share, to support, and to blog.  They came to take blogging up a notch.

     Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker assembled a crew of presenters for a human scale event and it was powerful.  Chris Brogan, Anita Bruzzese,  Chris Garret, David Bullock, Terry Starbucker, Brian Clark, Lorelle VanFossen, and Wendy Piersall talked and presented on blogging and business throughout the weekend.  More than that, they shared deeply about blogging and themselves.  Each poured out tips, tricks and heart during their presentations and off-stage as well.

     The SOBCon08 weekend was jam packed with business and blogging information, but also with fun and friends making.  Shashi Bellamkonda and I have been online friends for most of year but had never met.  Leave it to a blogging conference to us together.  Rick Mahn and I had also been online only contacts for quite a while, this weekend allowed us to share a great experience and become real friends. There was the boat ride, where I took this skyline shot, and enjoyed the music of Christine Kane, and the wonderful dinners with my blogger friends.

     Did I take anything away beyond that? More than I can absorb.  On the mental and supportive side, I realized I’m not alone out there, and these other bloggers, even the most successful ones, are only an email away.  I realized others, yes those big name ones too, struggle at times with their blogs and their businesses.  The support and encouragement doesn’t end with the weekend.  Becky McCray has organized some of us into a biz and blog support and mentoring circle.

     As part of the take away from the SOBCon08 conference, I’ll be changing up things on the blog.  It’ll be slow at first, but hopefully the improvements will be noticeable both to readers and to me.  Also, I’ll be formulating some business plans, goals and more.  Don’t think either that I’ll try to work in solitude.  You, the readers, and you, my fellow bloggers and biz folks, will be on the spot.  I’ll be asking you for guidance, reassurance, and support because of the respect and appreciation I have for you all.

     In summary, the weekend brought me more than I expected, and I can’t express enough in blog posts even how much so. While I make some attempts here though, I’d love to hear from you.

     How did SOBCon08 impact you, your blogging and your business? What will you change?  Or have you been to another conference recently that made a significant impact on your life?  Tell me about it!  I want you to share here, on your blog, or drop me a line.  Don’t blog? I’ll be happy to post your story here.

     Come, tell us about your experience.

Social Networking Postcards

What did I get?

Mobile post sent by tojosan using Utterz Replies.
Courtesy of Jeff Hibbard.

Vong’s Thai Kitchen – SOBCon08 Dining Experience

Panang Chicken Curry

     Several of us from SOBCon08 went in search of a restaurant on Saturday evening. What we got was an experience.

     Wow! That’s the first word that comes to mind about Vong’s. To the left you’ll see my dinner, Panang Chicken.  But that’s not where it starts, nor ends. Let me tell you more.

     After a short wait, we were lead back to a table with plenty of room for the eight of us, and Dawud is no small guy. Menus were handed out and water served but then we all kind of sat there.

     Oh, we were doing the normal pre-dinner chatter you’d expect of bloggers, but none of us could really decide what to get.  Thai food has differing tastes at each restaurant, and no one was quite sure what to order.  That’s when the real experience began.

     Then he showed up, Jose, the best waiter in Chicago. Jose began with a simple introduction and a hearty welcome to Vong’s. He then told us with obvious pride of the unique food style of the restaurant, and even some history.  While doing that, Jose began describing some of the food choices, starting with the seafood curry.  As he continued, he not only told us that they had seafood, but what type of crabs, and how wonderfully fresh and tasty they were.  That was when it got better.

     Jose gave us a tour of items on the menu from appetizers to main dishes, and house speciality.  With each dish, he had us more rapt.  Our eyes followed along in our menus as he went through them, and our mouths began to water.  He talked of curries and spices, of dinners and drinks, and we sat in silence, our whole attention focused on him.

     Soon enough he was done and we were all ready to chow, even Dawud and Adam, both of whom weren’t really hungry when we came in.  Jose finished up by not walking off and letting us stew but visited with some of us one on one to help us choose something just right for us each.

     As if my mouth wasn’t watering already, the Jose told me about the Panang Chicken. He described in earnest the peanut curry, it’s taste, texture, and spice. It is the house curry, and he was obviously quite proud of that. I was sold in a minute.

     Jose didn’t leave us too long at any point during the dinner, which came very quickly.  Each meal was hot and they were all served together.  Our drinks were never empty and the conversation over dining flowed wonderfully.  It was already one of my best dining experiences in ages.  And then it was over.

     Not quite really.  Only one of us, Tom, had ordered dessert.  So we sat back and relaxed, chatting.  But then it came.  Oh, not just Tom’s dessert but four more.  Jose had arranged to comp us one of each of four desserts for the table. Talk about wow factor!

     There were beignets, fried bananas, creme brulee trio, and warm Valrhona chocolate cake.  At this point, all I could mumble were ‘wow’, ‘oh my’, and lots of ‘ah’s.  My mouth is watering just imagining those again. Each dessert was rich and flavorful.  Even with 8 of us, there was plenty to go around to sample.  It made the meal perfect.

     The food was fantastic, the waiter the best, and even the manager stopped by.  She welcomed us with a smile, and graciously accepted our compliments of Jose and the whole experience.

     Too soon it was time to rise and head out, but our stomachs were full as well as our minds with the heady experience.  Needless to say, Jose got an incredible tip.  Cheers Jose!!

     If you visit Vong’s Thai Kitchen in Chicago, may you find Jose waiting your table.

Did you have any memorable food experiences in Chicago, especially at SOBCon08?

ToJoSan @ SOBCon08


Originally uploaded by bjmccray

That’s me, there, with the camera. Yeah, I know. It’s so unusual. Ha.
Thank you BJ!

SOBCon08 – Where I found more than a blogger

Shashi - geek, blogger, friend
Let me tell you about one of my favorite takeaways from SOBCon08. Shashi and I started out as on the edges of common technologies, now I feel like I’ve gained a friend for life.

It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with him this weekend. What better way to know a man than to share things together.

We shared – learning, laughter, fresh air, excitement, joy, a hug, the skyline of Chicago, we broke bread together, and shared a beer. What better ways to know a man.

What did you share at SOBCon08? What did you take away?

St. Louis Bloggers Guild meeting Saturday, May 10th

     The Guild’s first open meeting will be held on Saturday, May 10th at 1 p.m. at Benton Park Cafe, who is generously hosting our meetings. They have fantastic coffees and I’ve eaten and loved everything on their menu.
     All members of the Guild are highly encouraged to attend this first meeting – please RSVP within either the comments or on the appropriate thread in the forums. The Guild will discuss its first big project slated for this fall, among other issues.
     The meeting is open to non-members for a $5 admission fee. If you’re considering joining, this would be a perfect opportunity to see what we’re all about. We’ll also be accepting and registering new members before and after the meeting.

     See the original post on St. Louis Bloggers Guild to confirm your attendance.