Life in Rural America is about to Change
Yvonne Gets Nostalgic with That Girl!

Smart Couple Online: Jack and Charmaine Yoest

Today's interview was a long time coming. This Smart Couple Online is busy, busy, busy - with their many professional projects, but most importantly, with the pentaposse (read on, you'll see what that means). I met them...gee...via blogging!Since I'm such a recluse and never get out of the house - NOT! - I meet loads of great folks online.

My first introduction was to Jack Yoest. Don't remember exactly where, but I do remember visiting his blog and being so impressed. What impressed me was his ability to write about things I care about. Not always with the same focus I would take, but... with passion that told me he was a man of his word. Through Jack, I met Charmaine and I was immediately jealous - of her beautiful name. Now, Yvonne is nothing to sneeze at, it's poetic in its own way, but...if I had a dollar for every piece of mail I get addressed to "Evan"...I'd be...well, I'd be able to eat out more often.

Charmaine's blog, Reasoned Audacity, is much like Jack's from a woman's perspective. I connect with her - even though she, too, sometimes makes me heave great sighs. I truly think that's what blogging is all about. Hence...I couldn't resist asking Jack for an interview. Jack, being the good man he is, said, "Why not do a double-interview with me and Charmaine?" To which I said, "Whoohoo!" and did a cartwheel. (not really, I couldn't do a cartwheel if your life depended on it - I could if MY life depended on it, but not yours, sorry).

Read on for an enjoyable chat that just might get you saying, "Hmmm..."

Yvonne: Let's get the introductions out of the way: tell us who you are, and why you blog. I'm especially interested in the similarities between your blogs - if you think there are any. From my perspective, they seem connected, and yet, separate. I like the way you both support each other's writing, but you write from the heart - your heart. That's so key to blogging. Tell us how you decide what to write, on a daily basis, if you can.

Jack:  I am a consultant in management training with international clients. Blog writing for me is the perfect intersection of hobby and work where ideas and presentations can be written, stored and critiqued on line in real time. If you write it; you own it. (Within the boundaries of intellectual property, I suppose.)

My goal is to write and post everyday. I like topical themes on Business Sense, Military Precision and Timeless Truth – then attempt to tie the topic to theme with a personal vignette. Blogs provide, well, demand a point of view. And to give value added content to advance the “scholarship” of the discussion.  And this must be funny. Hence our family motto, from our coat of arms (crossed M-16’s, Abrams tank in background): delectare et docere. To please and to instruct. Humor is hard work. And painful…to (both of) my readers. [I feel their pain; I mean, I feel YOUR pain.]

Charmaine: Thanks – I really like the fact that our blogs reflect our differences, but also the ideas and passions that connect us. Honestly, reading our blogs is almost literally joining in our daily conversations together. Whenever we talk about something it almost always ends up on one of our blogs. That’s really how Jack’s blog got started. We’d have these conversations about issues that just didn’t work for my blog, and I finally told Jack he’d just have to start blogging himself. Jack really makes me laugh and I love to see his humor translated on the blog. 

How do I decide what to write?  Good question. I use the blog to reflect things that interest me; it’s fairly idiosyncratic that way. Someone once told me it was “random.” Maybe true to a certain extent. But I like to think of it more as syncopation. I do try to mix things up to surprise people a little. I don’t want to be too predictable.

Yvonne: Now, Jack...a short explanation of Jotzel...(I voted for you! It was a hard choice - between you and Evelyn!)

Thank you for your vote! I owe you payment as promised. Jotzel has the best in business stories.  Submitted by writers and voted on by writers and readers. This is an outstanding forum, much like the carnivals – that have some editing/editor somewhere. Glenn Reynolds reminds us in his new book An Army of Davids that “90% of all blogs are crap.” But then goes on to cite that “90% of everything is crap.” Glenn could have used a pretentious Latin phrase for this, but noooooo, he’s a blogger of the people, the Common Man! Common Language!  And a big, wide readership.)  (I don’t think Latin works for blogs.)  Anyway, all articles should be reviewed by someone before set loose in the blogosphere. Charmaine usually reads mine before published. Errors are still mine.

Yvonne: Charmaine, you have such a beautiful name. I'm very fond of names. They say so much about a person. Your name is quite musical. And, I find your blog somewhat musical - in a strange sort of visual way. Has anyone ever mentioned that to you?

Charmaine: Wow!  I never thought about it quite that way, but that really does express what I’m trying to do with Reasoned Audacity. I love that description.  (Watch for it to show up on my blog blurbs directly!)  And ironically, I am actually named from the song “Charmaine” by Montavani. 

Yvonne: So, Jack, tell us about 'the Dude'...your pics on the blog make one hungry for beer and hot dogs! (and I'm not even a big baseball fan!)

Jack: You are so right! We didn’t care for baseball at all. But kids change, well, everything. The Dude just turned 11 and does all the sports -- our eldest son. Baby Boo at two is the younger: Our sons of thunder! I do all the chauffeuring. And check writing for fees and equipment. Our emphasis on kid raising was to give them “roots and wings.”  To make them feel secure, with boundaries and appropriate risk.  Or the best manager/socialpath in Your Nation’s Capital.  I’ve never been able to relate to the rage against the patriarchy because my own father has always been my biggest supporter and encourager and I feel incredibly blessed. I would never be where I am today without the sacrifices he has made for me.

And we treat the girls different from the boys: Our males are ‘tough guys.’  Our females are ‘beautiful creatures.’  The daughters will have different rules[okay, but, where are the rules for the males? surely they must be taught to treat others' daughters as you expect yours to be treated, yes?]

Our goal was to demonstrate to the kids that life is not perfect and has rough edges. I once wanted to string barbed wire along the top of The Dreamer’s baby crib to teach her about dangers in life.  Charmaine didn’t think this wasn’t funny. Odd, since I wasn’t joking. So then I suggested sandpaper for the baby to get the feel of life’s texture. We compromised and settled on snow skiing. And later, public schools.

So now we send the kids to private schools. Because the public schools had – you know this is coming – barbed wire around them.

(See Charmaine rolling her eyes in the background. . . )

Yvonne: This question is for both of you - or just one of you - one thing I've noticed about both of your blogs is your attention to politics, but not the West Wing kind of politics. You really seem to catch the human side of things. I don't always agree with you, but you get me thinking. I like that. Does your focus on this side of the 'human condition' ever cause problems for you?

Jack: Peter Drucker once said that the purpose of not-for-profits was “to improve the human condition.”  We treat our family unit as a non-profit attempting to make a difference. And everything in life is political on some level. We certainly expect disagreement and debate.

Problems come from unexpected sources. Charmaine appeared on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher a dozen times and they got along fabulously, even with very different world views.  The real challenges of public debate come from some others in the blogosphere.

Charmaine: Once again, I feel like you “get” our blogs – I subtitled Reasoned Audacity “politics in real life” because I wanted it to express the down-to-earth relevance of public policy to everyday life.  I do what I do in politics because I believe it really matters to everyday people, every day.

Yvonne: Okay...Jack, Ipso Facto...what fun! Personal friend? Alter ego? Anything you care to say The_penta_posse about him - her- them? Charmaine - any words about the Pentaposse? I know people who think posting pics of kids on the net is a really big no-no. Obviously, you don't feel this way. Why or why not?

Jack: Ipso Facto is the intellectual property of Mike Wallace, the nicest guy in the hemisphere. 

And you are right about kid pics Interesting about the blogosphere:  Friday is cat or dog day, but kids are verboten. So we decided early to break rules. 

Charmaine: We got to “know” Mike when he sent an illustration for a blog post I had written about “Camo-Ade.”  It was very cool and we just got to be cyber-friends. I love his caricatures – he did Hillary specially for me because I’m planning to use it a lot in my own Stop Hillary ’08 Campaign. 

Posting about the kids – Jack is being a bit flip, but we did give it a lot of thought. As he mentioned above, we try to integrate our kids into our work as much as possible – we want them to understand the issues that motivate us. And, they are themselves a large part of what motivates us.So it made sense for them to be a part of the blog project. We did decide to give them the cutesy posse nicknames in order to give them a certain level of privacy. The older ones do read our blogs. We also stripped our direct real-life contact info off the web once the kids’ pics went up. So we do understand the dangers and we have discussed the issue very directly with the children. That’s generally our approach to most issues: we believe transparency brings accountability.

Yvonne: Jack: describe Charmaine in one sentence. Charmaine: tell us the best part of living with Jack. Now, reverse the questions....

Jack: Best friend and mother of my children making the world a better place.  Good kisser too. (I was going to say World’s best looking Straussian.

Charmaine: (Again, rolling her eyes at You-Know-Who.) Jack in one sentence – Jack is faithful and true; maddening and irresistible. Best part of living with him: He is quick to forgive and seek forgiveness. The older I get, the more I understand how critical this characteristic of his is to our relationship. [wise words - I hope others write them down.]

Yvonne: Reasoned Audacity compared to Jack Yoest - really now, Jack, couldn't you think of a better blog title? (she said with a mischevious grin - she who used to be 'Jane'.) Actually, I'm kidding. I think you have a rather prestigious name. So, with that thought in mind...tell us about your Dad. We don't hear enough about Dads.

Jack: Dad was a Navy man who taught me to always attempt to be the best. I did dead-tree article on this a few years ago. Submarines and dead sailors and dad. And how I’m the luckiest guy on the planet – and now my boys to follow.

Yvonne: Charmaine, as one woman to another, and someone who believes in strong women - what are your thoughts on the Dad issue? Aren't Dads just as important to the family as Moms? Do you think great Dads get enough credit? How can we ladies do more to show those great dads how much we appreciate them?

Charmaine: I did a piece for TownHall last year on Father’s Day – about the lost concept of Dad’s as Princes .

Yvonne: To both of you: what was the last item you bought online on impulse and what convinced you to click the buy button?Jack_yoest

Jack: I bought a software solution from an ad on a blog sidebar! (Not counting iPod music) Impulse only. $29.99 From Business Pundit or China Venture News, I forget which. Connects my Outlook Calendar to my cell. I trust these guys; I trust Lipsticking – I don’t trust mainstream print ads. [ :-) ]Charmaine

Charmaine:  A Calvin Klein suit from Ebay. . . I clicked the buy button because I love a suit with a  long skirt and they are really hard to find. Saw it, grabbed it fast, loved it. In fact, come to think of it, I need to take a stroll over to eBay right now...

Thanks for the fun questions, Yvonne!! Jack and Charmaine

This was a real pleasure. Thanks to you, Jack and Charmaine. You're a great addition to my Interviews. I think this interview touched me because of the great answers...and the reparte between the two of you. I feel as if the world is a better place since we met. [lest anyone feel slighted, I feel the world is a better place after all of my interviews...but I have a special attraction for Couples.]


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