Oh John Carroll

Tag: meta

This blog is now one year old. Here’s my first post, in which I explain the origin of the blog’s name.

Poetry, by Google Voice

I started a new Tumblr blog today, and I wanted to share it with you in the hopes that you’ll participate.  It is linked above, and here.

I’ve always been amused by Google Voice translations.  Considering how poor they are, it’s hard not to be.  But it’s always fascinated me how these translations have come to be known as “Google Voice Poetry.”  It certainly reflects the larger public’s view of poetry: that it’s messy, obtuse and essentially broken English.

I thought it might be fun to turn that idea on its head by reading poems to Google Voice, then posting the “translations” to the new blog.  Will they be beautiful?  Broken?  Something else entirely?

There’s only one way to find out.  Pick a poem, then leave me a voicemail at this number: (215) 821-7461.  I look forward to hearing from you.


While I am forever an RSS devotee, I know that plenty of people have no idea what it is or how to use it, and thus follow web sites through Twitter.  Rather than clutter my personal feed with links, I thought I’d establish a new account for anyone who wants to see a tweet when I put up a new post here.  You can follow that account @ohjohncarroll.

UPDATE (11/14/12): This feed is now working again

Why I Left Squarespace

As you know, dear reader, this site was down recently as I switched web hosts.  And since I spent a decent amount of time on Squarespace, my previous host, I thought I’d write a bit about the experience and why I decided to leave, in case any of you are considering it as a potential destination for your blog.

There’s a lot to love about Squarespace.  The sites look great, for example.  While moving back to a self-hosted WordPress site was the best choice available to me, it certainly pained me to wade through hundreds of inferior site templates considering how sharp this site looked a few weeks ago.

I knew there were trade-offs when I joined: I was giving up easy access to my host space, and general hackability, for an easier experience.  This was fine for me, and not the source of my leaving Squarespace.  Ultimately, I didn’t use that stuff as much as I thought.

The truly great part about joining Squarespace is the support team.  They are quick with their responses, and if they’re unable to help, the staff doesn’t hesitate to elevate the issue to someone who might be able to assist.  It’s a testament to them that their behavior toward me didn’t change in the past two weeks, when all of my queries concerned moving my data off of their servers and processing my cancellation and refund.  It almost made me feel guilty about leaving.

Almost.  What ultimately undid my relationship with Squarespace was a basic lack of functionality.  On some days, I’d log-in only to find myself staring at the Squarespace watermark.  My admin area was nowhere to be found.  Squarespace ultimately figured it out, and I was back in business, but these niggling problems continued to arise.  The worst were content-related: my link data was wiped out, or a random string of text was added to a public page.

The problem wasn’t that errors occurred, but that Squarespace had no proper explanation for them, nor a way to restore content in its correct and prior state.  When my post links were erased, the fix was entirely on my shoulders: I had to go through these posts and add back data that once existed there.

These random, annoying and vague problems stood in stark contrast to their amazing efforts to keep sites online during Hurricane Sandy.  But these efforts put things in perspective for me: there was a significant problem if Squarespace could keep my site online during a historic hurricane, but couldn’t prevent their software from bugging out and altering my content without explanation, or just provide a fix when understandable errors occurred.  I decided I’d trade a few days of down time for a platform that preserved my work.

I left Squarespace because it’s a frustratingly young platform.  There’s so much to admire about it, particularly those who want to do as little backend work on their blogs as possible.  I’d like to be one of those people.  I didn’t exactly have a romantic reunion with WordPress, but I feel much more comfortable that I will wake up tomorrow and see this post in the same state it’s in today.

Don’t be surprised if you see this site back at Squarespace some day.  Their team seems too smart and dedicated to struggle for too long.  But in the mean time, I have work to do, and I simply knew there were other platforms where I felt more comfortable creating and posting my content. 

We’re Back

The site is once again live.  It still lives at ohjohncarroll.com.  If you previously followed via RSS, you’ll have to update the feed.  Here’s the fresh link.

The archive is largely preserved.  I also went through and corrected all of the bad links, so everything should work as once it did.  If it doesn’t, I hope you’ll e-mail me.


Due to some behind-the-scenes issues, I need to move my blog over the next few days.  I hope you’ll continue to watch this address:


For my new site.  I apologize in advance to my RSS followers, as I’m unfortunately not savvy enough to figure out how to re-direct my current feed.  I hope you’ll continue to follow me at my new home!

The Name

Since I decided to start my blog from scratch, I figured I need a new name, and thus a new domain.  “Banana Grabbers” seems odd to anyone not on my old Quizo team (and even they probably find it weird), while my name alone bored me.  I needed to find something else.  And I needed to find something that translated to an available name.

So I dug deep into memory.  What meaningful story would produce a name?  Rather than going to a happy place, I went to a bad one.  I was bullied as a kid.  I don’t think I identified it as such at the time, as the bullied never want to name their peer as a bully, but I’m not breaking any new psychological ground here.  I was tormented in various ways.  The ones that my friends and family likely remember is the gum in my hair.  It happened more than once.  There was never any ice or peanut butter involved in removing it.  I had an ugly enough haircut that no one seemed to notice when I had a missing chunk of hair.

But what bothered me more than anything was the way that my tormentor — who I won’t name, because I hope he’s normal and adjusted and would hate that anyone ever remembers anything he ever did to me — developed a sing-song phrase to taunt.  He would call out “Oh John Carroll.”  How hateful, right?  It was only collar-burning in the sense that anything he could have said at that point would have gnawed at me.

Since my brain went there, I decided to take it back.  Oh John Carroll.  Of course that’s what I’ll call the site.  I haven’t thought of it, or him, in years.  But I did, and so I’m reclaiming it.

Oh, and then I tacked on “Yo John Carroll” because it wouldn’t be my site if I wasn’t immediately riffing on the idea of my having a site.

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