Four years and still no niche


It’s been almost four years since I’ve really written anything for this blog. I’m probablyfullsizeoutput_1a7c the only one who knows.

This blog doesn’t have a lot of readers. That’s OK. I don’t do this blog for any particular reason other than to have a writing platform for myself.

Asked an award-winning journalist friend feedback on a blog I wrote about 9/11. He wrote back saying I needed to ask myself a question:

“Do I have a unique enough of a voice for anyone to be interested in what I have to say on a general interest blog?”

“So what is your niche?” he later wrote.

The blogging stopped because there wasn’t a niche or unique voice. His expectations for blogs weren’t in mine, so I stopped.

Never expected my writing to make me the next Ernest Hemingway, Mike Royko, or Ernie Pyle. Not Irvin S. Cobb or Russ Metz, either.

What I should expect to be is Russ Petcoff. If other people read it and like it then great. In the meantime, continue writing my blogs the way they come.

No niche at the moment. Don’t see one emerging either. I blog to be a part of the American conversation because everyone has something to say.

Starting to believe that’s my niche.

Onward and upward.

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Jesus saves the day at St. Arbucks


Blog’s Inspiration: Jennifer Fulwiler posed a question on her show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. She asked what type of coffee would Jesus order? Fulwiler blogs at Conversion Diary.

How are we to approach the Gospels in this current age? Certainly, Jesus’ words are timeless. There is no need to rewrite or “punch up” what the Gospel writers penned. They are beautiful how they are.

Do people really understand the context, the setting? Even if they can understand the setting, does it ring true to them because it’s not something they can easily visualize?

Take, for example, the Wedding at Cana (St. John 2:1-12). Sure, people understand weddings but do they understand wedding feasts that went on for days? Probably not.

At the wedding, the host ran out of wine. Mary, Jesus’s mother, encouraged Him to do something. Jesus ordered the servants to fill jars with water. The Christ then proceeded to turn the vats of water into the best wine anyone had ever tasted.

What if the story took place at a busy Starbucks on a Saturday morning. The store is full of young families with kids in tow, hunters on their way to the woods, youth soccer players in day-glow kits and so forth.

The long line teems with people desperately needing their caffeine fix. The baristas are busy working until one announces—quite shockingly—they’ve run out of coffee. (As improbable as this may seem at a Starbucks, work with me for the sake of this story.)

Mary and Jesus are sitting on comfy chairs with their morning coffee. They are on their way to a local craft festival. Mary plans on selling shawls she knitted, and Jesus is going to sell rocking chairs he made.

Mary hears the commotion and anguished cries. She tells Jesus to do something.

Jesus goes to a barista and tells her to take the customer’s order: soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato.

“Name for the cup?” Jesus asks.

“Jill,” says the impatient texter glued to her smart phone. “Aren’t they out of coffee?” she asks while still texting.

“Jill, thank you,” says Jesus. He writes “Faith” on the cup and hands it to the barista.

Taking the cup, the barista says, “We don’t have any coffee to make this order.”

“Put some hot water in it,” Jesus says, “and complete the rest of the order.”

The barista completes a hot-water version of a soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato. “This is going to be one nasty tasting drink,” the barista mutters. Jesus hears.

“Faith, I have a soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato,” says the barista as she places the drink on the counter and turns to the next order.

“It’s about time,” says Jill with a snarl. Turning to the woman behind her Jill says, “Faith? Starbuck’s is always getting the names wrong.” The woman ignores Jill because she cherishes her relationship with a smart phone.

Jill takes a sip and stops with an astonished look on her face.

“I thought you said you were out of coffee? This is the best coffee I’ve ever had.”

The astonished barista looks bewilderingly at Jesus. He hands her another cup for a double shot, three vanilla pump latte. The name, again, is “Faith.”

“What happened?” the barista asks.

“Another day at St. Arbucks.” He smiles and takes the next order for “Faith.”

Brinkley nearby


Nothing like having a buddy nearby when not feeling well.

Whatever has been going around has been with me for a week. It just makes me feel tired all the time.

Was trying out this new Pressgram app. Brinkley was laying near me and was gracious enough to help pose for this picture. He’s a good buddy. I’ve long considered myself a cat person, but Brinkley has shown me how dogs are a man’s best friend.

Published via Pressgram

Are you really seeing what there is to see?


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“Two of those shirts are for you,” my wife said. She recently came home from a quick stop to our favorite megastore to by herself a couple of blouses.

I noticed the two checked shirts. “Are these mine?” They are, she said.

“They are the same color,” I said. Lisa knows I’m colorblind but is still taken aback when my weakness appears.

“No they’re not,” she said. “One is blue and the other is pink, which are the two colors you have the hardest time seeing.”

I’ve known my whole life that I am colorblind. It doesn’t really bother me. I don’t know anything else. People often ask me what being colorblind is like. They can’t imagine it. I tell them I can see colors but can’t always distinguish them. I say it’s like seeing a sign in Arabic–and you can’t read Arabic. You see the shapes of the letter but can’t understand them.

Another example is I invariable confuse red and brown M&Ms. (I would of had a hard time fulfilling Van Halen’s contractual provision of no brown M&Ms if it came down to me!)

That’s colorblindness.

This got me to thinking about how this was a metaphor for life. We all have weaknesses and limitations that constantly affect our lives. Sometimes we know about them, and sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes our family and friends know about them, and sometimes they don’t.

Is it no wonder disagreements, miscommunications and misunderstandings arise? We assume everyone “sees things” as we see them and is capable of understanding us.

But what if you can’t see pink…or blue?

Or what if your impression of a chair conjures up an overstuffed leather recliner but to someone else it’s a straight back chair?

People think and see things differently. No one is either right or wrong–unless they are violating law, ordinances or mores. They just see something differently from how you see it. Do you think that’s the secret to life?

Blue or pink checked shirts, I don’t care. I appreciate the lesson they taught me.

What have they taught you?

Son of Snowmageddon…maybe


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In the interest of veracity, this isn’t a photo of the impending snow storm for the Washington, D.C., metro area. It’s Brinkley standing on a pile of snow from Snowmageddon. Three blizzards slammed this area in December 2009 and January/February 2010.

However, listening to the news it’s not hard to conjure up an image of this is what Washingtonians are expecting. The meteorologists are calling for 1-3 inches for northern Virginia. They forecast more further south in Virginia and across the Chesapeake Bay into southern Maryland.

However, just the hint of snow in this area tends to cause great consternation. People flock to the grocery stores to stock up on milk, bread and toilet paper.

People race home trying to get ahead of the traffic tsunami…only to get caught up in the commuting chaos.

Oh, the joys of living in Washington.

Not sure if the snow’s coming. I do know the sun will come up tomorrow…and there’ll probably be no snow.

A foggy morning at Mason Neck State Park


Saturday morning I went to Mason Neck State Park. It’s just down the road from me but I’d never been there. The idea to go there came from the Northern Virginia Photographic Society which had arranged a field trip there.

It’s a beautiful park off Belmont Bay on the Potomac River. Thought it would be a good place to take a few photographs. The weather wasn’t great. Mainly foggy. Good opportunity to try and see if I can make a photo rather than taking a photo.

Had hoped to see a few eagles but didn’t. That’s OK. It’s another reason to visit the park. Here’s what I came up with. In the end, I was happy with my pictures. What do you think?

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Mushroom growing from the side of a decaying log. (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)

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Wetlands off Bayview Trail (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)

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Peeling tree bark. (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)

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More tree bark. (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)

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Weathered sign outside the park. Wonder how long it’s been there for the tree to grow around it? (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)