J. Daniel creator of the WoodChips, trees having fun - saving our planet one chuckle at a time with the wit and wisdom of the forest

About J. Daniel

I was officially recognized by the State of Missouri as a legal human entity in August of 1950.  I was raised in Springfield.  Bart Simpson and I went to grade school together and had gobs of fun.   Bart’s still in grade school.  I graduated.  Bart influenced my bent toward cartooning.

Formative Years

I grew up without television.  I was a very active young man and by contrast also read tons of books, often checking out thirty or more at the local library for the month.  I had special permission to do this.  I would often have to make two trips to the car to carry them all.  Sometimes I was smart and brought paper grocery bags to carry them in.  It was a primitive time – Studebakers roamed the primordial forests – and plastic bags were not invented yet.

Besides reading, I laboriously set rubber type on my small rotary printing press for a newspaper I created.  Cranking it early in the morning drove all my sisters to distraction as they were getting their beauty rest and they remind me of that to this day.  Additionally I wrote detective stories, and I taught my younger twin sisters how to read before they entered grade school, although these two things are not connected.

I also had girlfriends, starting with Donna in the first grade.  I used to rush out at recess and reserve a swing for her.  Trading up, my third grade girlfriend was named Carla and her Father worked for an Ice Cream Company.  It doesn’t get better than this.

Outside of all these “women,” one of my favorite things to do was browse through the encyclopedias at school, just discovering new things.  Today we call this surfing the web.  In 1958 there wasn’t a name for it, so I must not have known what I was doing.  My nickname in the family was the “Walking Encyclopedia.”

While browsing, I saw an article on pole vaulting.  This looked exciting so after school, I grabbed an old, rotten tomato stake from the garden and started teaching myself to pole vault.  My first success was clearing a barbed wire fence, after ripping myself to sheds in numerous prior attempts.  One wonders at the intelligence level at this point, but I stuck at it and ultimately became a pole vaulter at Parkview High School and lettered my sophomore and junior year.  I cleared 12 feet at age 16 when the world record was 17.5.

I did not join the track team my senior year because I had my own apartment, was supporting myself as a cook, was an honorary active in the Phi Beta Epsilon fraternity and most importantly, had discovered computers.  It was 1967.

So I became a geek before the term was invented.  My first computer was an IBM 1620 second generation scientific computer named Maxim M. Confusion.  I stole a computer programming book from school and stayed up all night learning how to program in machine code.  Then I spent all my free time as a seventeen year old at VoTech programming Max while my friends were out drinking beer.  Max and I got along great, although he often lived up to his name.

But I was persistent.  I wrote a language translator to automate my homework and ultimately returned the stolen book to my computer instructor Layton Clay.  He was not disappointed in me.

Lest I sound like a time martyr, I also found plenty of time to join my friends in their barley based activities.

Day Jobs and Professional Level Interests

My activities, mostly paid, in loose order, have been as a …

Computer Operator
M60 Machine Gun Team Leader (United States Marine Corps)
Pocket Cutter in a Garment Factory
Computer Programmer (United States Coast Guard)
Systems Analyst
Financial Consultant
Project Manager
Corporate IT Manager
Computer Consultant (Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity)
Published Author
Life, Health and Variable Annuities Insurance Salesman
Senior Business Analyst

Someday I intend to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

The Name Thing

I also have trouble with my name because I go by Dan, my middle name, but all the forms ask for my first name which is John.  So I am known as John, J. Daniel, Dan, John Daniel, JD, DJ and every other combination and permutation of this imaginable.  I once had to sign a special statement on a mortgage that listed all these different a.k.a’s, attesting that I was all the same person.  I had to ask them how they wanted me to sign it.

Some day maybe I’ll figure out just who I am as well.  But aren’t we all doing this, really.

So what does it take to be a cartoonist?

Join the Marine Corps, read lots of books, hang with Bart Simpson, don’t know what you want to be or who you really are.

And by all means, get a girlfriend named Carla.

6 Responses to “About”

  1. This really is a really terrific post, while I was reading through it I could not help but agree with you. I’m going to add your website to my list of favorites and i look forward to reading your other useful blog posts. Continue the excellent work, this is one of the better blogs on the internet.

  2. Sean says:

    JD, DJ, John, Dan, Whoever you are today and regardless of what you are obviously running from ;) I think this is a great site.


  3. Peter Wright says:

    I found your blog through the ETR insider and thoroughly enjoyed reading some of your posts. I have indexed it in my favourites.

    August 1950 must have had a special quality, it must be astrological not geographical because although we share a birth month and year, I was born on a different continent.

    Our paths diverged further, I moved to yet another continent, and much, much later to yours. I did not have a girlfriend named Carla but did spend time in the military and also sold life assurance.

    My exposure to and interest in, computers started 20 years after yours in the days of MS Dos, but still ahead of the curve for a baby boomer

    Like you, I am still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.

    Thanks for your entertaining writing and best wishes for a Mery Christmas and a Happy New Year.


  4. Ivan says:

    Love your blog,especialy your efforts in trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up,this is realy topic dear to my heart,as I am stil trying to do this even at “young” age of 65.It looks I am getting closer to this search, after I have read old time self help classic “A Touch of Greatness” by Frank Tibolt,which was out of print for a while, and is now available at: http://www.mindstudio.com/greatness.htm
    Thanks for great writing,think this IS your passion,so just keep doing it, even if you don’t get paid,at first,money WILL follow sooner or later.Ivan

  5. Thea says:

    Hey Dan,

    So glad to have “met” you. You’re semi-weird (but in a good way). And I like it! (I’m VERY Weird, so I hope you don’t find that offensive…)

    Please don’t change. And PLEASE don’t EVER grow up – being an adult is overrated :-)


  6. Cyle Tabor says:


    My name is Cyle, and I work for the web promotions team at Camo Trading. I came across thewoodchips.com and wanted to see if you were interested in working with us. We have hundreds of wildlife themed home decor items and we’d like to provide you with a free product from our site in exchange for a product review on thewoodchips.com.

    Please browse our site and pick a product that you like and we will ship it to you. Please let me know if you are interested in this idea or if you have any suggestions for how we can collaborate on something else. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Take care,

    Cyle Tabor
    Marketing Team

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