Friday, September 05, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

Because I get a lot of e-mails asking the same questions, I thought I'd try to answer some of them in one big FAQ post. If you've e-mailed me about something not in here and I never responded, I'm sorry. It's not that I think I'm too good to answer your e-mail. It's that I'm really, really lazy about e-mail and I get about 250 annoying pitches from marketers every day and they are hard to wade through.

Anyway, here are some of the more common questions I get:

How do you manage to take care of two kids and keep the house clean and still write and take pictures and go to museums and all kinds of dangerous places every day. . .

I don't. This blog is not reality. It presents a warped, carefully filtered sliver of my reality that makes some people think my life is something that it's not.

My daughter is in preschool nine hours a week. My son still naps. I do not have any help, other than a wife committed to being the best partner and parent she can be. Sometimes it is terribly hard. I don't complain here because I don't feel like the world needs another asshole on the internet complaining. I am trying to share the things I find interesting about day-to-day life. I have no interest in sharing everything.

Are you a liar then?

To steal from James Agee, this website "is simply an effort to use words in such a way that they will tell as much as I want to and can make them tell of a thing which happened and which, of course, you have no other way of knowing. It is in some degree worth your knowing what you can of not because you have any interest in me but simply as the small part it is of human experience in general. It is one way of telling the truth: the only possible way of telling the kind of truth I am here most interested to tell."

What kind of camera do you use?

I use a
Nikon D50
Nikon D300 with a standard 18-55 lens Sigma 17-35mm 2.8 wide angle
Nikkor 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6G.
I have a $15 $70 tripod.

I do edit in Photoshop CS5.

Who did the illustration for your masthead?

The talented Rachel Fannin, who blogs at Hi Happy Panda.

Why do you let companies like ____________ advertise on your site when it's fairly clear from your writing you wouldn't support them yourself or agree with their policies?

I allow advertising on my site so that I can help support my family. I don't see it as any different from the ads that appear in magazines and newspapers that pay the salaries of the writers whose words appear next to them.

I don't have anything to do with who signs up for ads on Sweet Juniper. Sure, I occasionally express attitudes on the site that may seem to be in conflict with some of the advertisers, but I don't assume everyone reading the sites shares all those attitudes. To the contrary, I assume many people read my site to laugh at what an uptight pretentious idiot I can be. The advertisers want to reach my readers. I have a policy of not caring who wants to sponsor the blog, and that way it will never affect what I write about.

Why do you write so much about Detroit? Who cares?

I moved here because I wanted to live somewhere that interested me. Yeah, most people think it's a shithole. That means I don't have to interact with most people on a daily basis, which has done wonders for my raging case of misanthropy. I recently saw this quote by Vaughn Taormina and loved it so much I wish I'd said it myself: "So if you think Detroit is a shit hole, fair enough, but we think your city feels like the mall."

Detroit is the first place I lived after quitting my day job to stay home and take care of my kids. This  landscape---whatever you think of it---will forever be the backdrop to the most wonderful time of my life. I can't help but think that general state of mind has improved my impression of the city. I don't write about Detroit because I expect everyone out there to care, but I do hope anyone reading this site will feel how important the idea of "place" is in all our lives.

I'm a journalist from __________, would you be willing to talk to me?

I am happy to talk to journalists. But I'm not interested in being your "fixer" for a story about Detroit.

I'm a journalist from __________. When I come to Detroit, will you show me around all day without any compensation for your time?


I'm a fine art photographer from ___________. Will you show/tell me where you take your photos?

Hell no.

I'm not a journalist or a photographer with a $20,000 Hasselblad but I like your site and I am coming to Detroit and I'm wondering if you could suggest some things to see and do.

Sure! I think it's great you're coming to Detroit! Start here (I worked hard on that). If that's not enough, feel free to e-mail me any further questions.

I'm an editor for ________. Would you like to write a story about ___________?

Yes! The more freelance work I can get, the longer I can stall looking for another day job.

Why don't you go by "Dutch" anymore?

My wife was asleep on the couch and I was flipping channels and Predator was on Spike and I was all, "Sweet!" because I loved that movie when I was ten. And then I realized that the Arnold Schwarzenegger character's name was Dutch and I saw how dumb a movie about an invisible alien hunter facing off against a crack squad of wisecracking future-governor commandos actually was and decided that having a nom de blog was kind of stupid.

Why don’t you post as many pictures of your kid(s) as you once did?

In September 2007, an online parenting magazine that had been treating flickr like a stock photography site screen-grabbed a photo of my daughter and incorporated it into the header of a story on the dangers of lead-based paint. It was an eye-opening situation that not only made me rethink how I wanted to present my family on this site in photographs, but how much of their lives I wanted to expose in general. I don’t really buy into all the blogging-is-exploiting-your-kids crap, but I did want to reevaluate the role my kids play in the story that gets told (and shown) on this website and balance it with their right to what I felt was an appropriate degree of privacy.

Why do you sometimes close comments?

"I hate to be defended in a newspaper. As long as all that is said is said against me, I feel a certain assurance of success. But as soon as honeyed words of praise are spoken for me, I feel as one that lies unprotected before his enemies." ---Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s not that I’m afraid of criticism. Honestly, sometimes I write a post, read it over, and just want it to stand by itself. That is all.

Why do you only publish partial feeds of your posts for RSS readers?

We’ve gone back and forth on this. I know it's lame. I do believe that by publishing full feeds we would attract more subscribers and ultimately more readers. But here’s why I don’t:
I am overly protective of all the content I generate for the site. When we published a full feed, I noticed that way more of our content was showing up on random, unsavory sites because of RSS scraping. I know by putting any content on the internet I am always taking a risk of it being plagiarized or stolen, but it’s very important to me to protect it to whatever degree I actually can.

Your blog doesn't look right in Internet Explorer v.4.xx15. What can I do?

Download Firefox.

Why don't you have a twitter account?

Fuck that shit.

Why doesn’t Wood write as much anymore? Why do you sometimes go so long without posting?

We are very fortunate to have a few thousand strangers who are actually interested in our daily lives. As the number of people who visit this site grew, so did the pressure to produce something decent. More importantly, the pressure to write something inspired or interesting has started to feel enormous. Sometimes it’s just hard to come up with something in the face of that pressure. Neither of us wants to write just for the sake of updating the blog.

Wood still has a real job and some concerns that things written on this site could hurt her career. So she doesn't write as much as the guy without a job who committed career suicide years ago. Wood will be posting once a week to share here craft projects on a sub-page of the blog (Sweet Juniper WoodCraft).

Dear jdg and Wood, I work for a marketing company whose client ________ thinks that ____________, would be a great fit for SWEET JUNIPER and your readers. We would like to send you a sample of _________ _______ or ____________.

Okay, seriously, the fact that you’re even bothering to e-mail me about this tells me that you don’t read our site. Have we EVER done any kind of product review? What is it about anything I’ve ever written that makes you think I am just dying to write a long post about how delicious your new snack crackers are?

This is my place for writing tidy little stories and commentary. We have advertising on this site that is completely separate from my tidy little stories and commentary. The advertising is available for companies to try to reach the many smart, wonderful and fabulously-wealthy people who like the stories. But I am not writing about your product.

Want to advertise? Great! Contact our advertising partner, Federated Media Publishing.