As I recall Lucy Van Pelt offered neighborhood psychological help for only five cents. This was quite a bargain; however, her credentials were not exactly sterling. As I read the various advice columns out there, I realize that most of them have the same credentials I have, which is to say none other than human being. You might think to hang out your shingles in the advice business you might need a degree in marriage and family therapy, or social work, or something people related. But apparently not. No professional license is required.
Cary Tennis, Salon.com’s advice columnist candidly explains he has no professional qualifications. Amy Dickinson, the advice columnist we get in The Washington Post, wrote columns for Time Magazine and provided commentary on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. Dear Abby, currently Jeanne Philips, has the sterling qualifications of being the daughter of Pauline Philips (the original Abby) who also had no real qualifications. Not to be outdone, the daughter of Ann Landers, after dithering a few years, recently started her own advice column on Yahoo News called Dear Margo. She is a bit late out the gate, because the two women who did most of the work for her mother, Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, are apparently making money channeling the Ann’s spirit with their Annie’s Mailbox advice column. Neither of these women has much in the way of relevant professional experience. However, Marcy Sugar has a degree in Mass Communications.
Come to think about it, so do I. Therefore, my qualifications as advice columnist are at least as good as hers. Consequently, I am offering my services as a blog advice columnist, in addition to my regular blog fare. As you might expect, as an opinionated man, I often disagree with the advice I see in these columns. Occasionally a disagreement becomes the subject of a blog entry. Unlike any of these columnists though, I have a blog. This of course means nothing at all, except it distinguishes me from the rest of them.
So I figure why not join them? You see, like many bloggers I have a small problem: coming up with topics. I do my best but it is getting more challenging as the years go by. Unlike many blogs though, I get a potpourri of people reading my blog. This is not a “friends list” blog, although I have a few friends and family who read my blog regularly. Most people arrive here serendipitously. At least some of the people who show up seem to like what they read, and a number of them are kind enough to shower me with praise in the comments. Sitemeter says Occam’s Razor averages around 150-200 page views a day. My site’s Awstats program begs to differ, and reports about 600 page views a day.
Aside from a bachelor’s degree in the mass communications field, I have other qualifications. You can decide if they are meaningful. I have successfully navigated through twenty years of marriage and sixteen years of parenting. I have also survived 49 years of life. While I do not consider income a sign of success, you might. If that impresses you, I qualify (barely) as a member of the six-figure club. I have two degrees, including a master’s degree in software systems engineering. I come from a large Catholic family and am a practicing Unitarian Universalism. I am politically liberal and generally tolerant, though frequently opinionated. I am both a democrat and a Democrat. I do not live on credit; I pay off my credit card balance every month. I have been a foster parent, worked with charities and supervised employees. I have known what it feels like to be among the working poor and crawl my way out of it. In addition, I make time every week to blog. Now thanks to the Internet, instead of just expounding on the topic that catches my fancy on a given day, I can turn some of my attention on your problems.
I do not know if random strangers will take me up on my peculiar offer or not. Considering the cost (free) there is nothing for you to lose except a bit of your time. If you want my take on something, send me an email to m...@occams-razor.info. Please put “Occam’s Razor Advice” in the subject line, otherwise my spam filter may not bring it to my attention. I do not guarantee that I will respond to your concern either privately or publicly. If I respond to your issue in my blog, rest assured neither your name nor your email address shall be published. All names shall be changed prior to publication. If you want additional confidentiality, simply create a new mailbox on one of the many free services out there to send me the email. Rest assured I shall never divulge any personal information about you. If you are the least bit worried, feel free to use aliases and fake email addresses.
Like any advice columnist, I do not guarantee that my advice will happily resolve your situation. I may edit your email, not to change its intent, but simply to make it suitable for publication. However, if I respond to your problem in a blog entry, I will email you the link to the blog entry. Your concern and my reply will also appear in my new Advice Category as an archived entry.
According to Awstats, last year my main page received 20,000 page views. In addition, my RSS and Atom news feeds were fetched about 50,000 times. While some of these hits are doubtless automated processes, my guess is that at least 100 people will read every entry I publish. In addition to my advice, you may find that other readers will be contributing their thoughts as comments. Likely people with a similar problem will chime in, since your problem will be noted in search engines.
My shingle is out. If you feel the urge, write me.