Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Post Vacation Bad News, Good News

The Bad News:

  • Gophers lost their bowl game
  • Weather was less than optimal in the Carolinas
  • I took a digger skiing
  • I already miss my family
  • I gained a couple of pounds back
  • I gotta go back to work
  • Weather here is horribly cold

    The Good News:
    • Irish won their bowl game
    • Weather in Carolinas was significantly warmer than it is here
    • Despite nearly a 10 year hiatus, I skied really, really well
    • I had enough hugs and laughs from my family to last me for a couple of months
    • Weight is still very under control
    • I have a Double Bubble card

    Saturday, December 28, 2013

    20 Things We Should Say More Often, Plus Ten Bonus Ones

    Here are the bonus ones:

    1. You mean a lot to me
    2. How can I help you?
    3. Another beer?  Hell yes
    4. I admire that in you
    5. You look awesome
    6. This one is on me
    7. I am blessed and grateful
    8. Here, let me get that for you
    9. That sunrise/sunset is absolutely beautiful
    10. Thank you, Lord
    Which ones are still missing?

    Friday, December 27, 2013

    Beyonce Makes a Dying Girl's Wish Come True

    I admit I'm not a fan of Beyonce's, but after watching this, you can't help but have a lot of admiration:

    It takes so little to mean so much, doesn't it?

    Thursday, December 26, 2013

    Phil Robertson vs. A&E, or Bigger than That?

    Answer?  It's bigger than that.

    What is happening is that "political correctness" is attempting to drown our what is perceived to be an offensive opinion.  Never mind that Phil's religious orthodoxy holds an equally offensive opinion in the other direction.  And in this day and age, political correctness trumps religion.  Every time.

    Who's right?  Me personally, I always come down on the side of openness and dialog, and against bullying and censorship.  And that is exactly what GLAAD is espousing.

    I have dear friends and family that are gay.  It is my belief that they were that way their whole lives, and that they cannot change who or what they are.  It is not their choice, anymore than my heterosexuality is my choice.  That's just how I see the world.

    Some people see the world differently, and that's fine.  We're better as a society when we talk to each other and communicate.  But when there is a demand that all talk cease, and when bully tactics are applied to promote a position, we all lose.

    If anything, the gay community should know what it is like to be forced to comply by powerful forces.  By doing the exact same thing to those of a religious persuasion, they ultimately become what it is that they abhor.  And that's the irony of the entire situation.  Tolerance demanded but not given gets nothing.  Only hate.

    And religious, gay, both or neither, haven't we had enough of that?

    Monday, December 23, 2013

    WestJet Scores Social Media Home Run

    It borrows a lot from Coke's Happiness Machine campaign (too much, perhaps?), but still the campaign caught viral fire, and the benefits for WestJet's brand are solid.

    Pretty good stuff:

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

    Amazing Mountain Biking Video

    I cannot image these guys' strength, vision, and balance.  I just about fall over in my chair watching it...

    Friday, December 20, 2013

    The Power of "I Don't" Over "I Can't"

    A number of months ago, I learned of a study via Lifehacker that was conducted by The Journal of Consumer Research.  In the study, they split subjects into two groups, then presented those subjects with a temptation.  The group that used the internal mantra "I can't x..." actually broke down on their promise at twice the rate that the group that used "I don't x..."

    Not only that, but the "I don't x..." group persisted in their fortitude more successfully in the long term as well.

    At the start of the year, unbeknownst to the benefits of the use of the phrase "I don't x..." I started saying "I don't eat sweets," when offered them.  And for about a full calendar year, I haven't broke down once.

    However, after having read the report, I started incorporating the mantra as it pertains to my trips to the gym.  Dozens of times I have said to myself that "I don't miss workouts," while lying there dead tired in bed.  And every time my big butt has hauled itself out of bed and headed off to the gym.

    It may not work for everybody, but more me it has been a very powerful tool. 

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

    The Latest From Our Marketing Government

    The propaganda machine that is the Obama administration is something to behold.  They are tireless, ceaseless, and completely shameless.

    Folks, this is downright creepy.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    Kiss Finally Makes Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    As they did with the inclusion of Rush last year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally righted an incredible injustice by entering Kiss into their ranks.  As I have written about previously, Kiss absolutely deserved to be in the Hall, and it is about time they received recognition on what they've accomplished, and how they've influenced both music and entertainment.

    Back in October, when the ballots were released, I made predictions on who would and would not get into the Hall.  Lets's see how I did:

    • The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - 1000:1 - Will need to be content with his memories of Woodstock.  CORRECT
    • Chic - 10,000:1  Le Freak continues to be French for "I don't think so..." CORRECT
    • Deep Purple - 10:1 Odds go up after not making it last year.  Can that one guitar riff carry them? CORRECT
    • Peter Gabriel - 20:1 Did Rush break down the door for additional prog rock acts to make the cut?  Here is my full case for Gabriel to make the Hall  INCORRECT - I did not see this one coming,  I truly felt the Hall would overlook Gabriel, and am glad they did not.  He clearly deserves to be there.
    • Hall & Oates - 7:1 Personal disclosure: I like Hall & Oates, and I'm man enough to admit it.  I have ever since Sara Smile was released in the mid-70's.  I've always been a sucker for blue-eyed soul, and these guys do it as good as anyone.  I think the Hall with think so as well.  CORRECT
    • Kiss - 100:1.  Finally.  Of the acts that should be in the Hall, Kiss now takes top position (after Rush went in last year)  Here is my full case for Kiss to make the Hall.  Despite them deserving to go in, the Hall won't do it.  INCORRECT - See above
    • Link Wray - 10,000:1  Who?  Exactly  CORRECT
    • LL Cool J  - 1:5  Slam dunk.  There is nothing about this guy the Hall doesn't love.  INCORRECT - I have no idea why he's not in.  There has to be more on this story than what's on my radar screen.
    • Nirvana - 1:2  Another slam dunk.  Their influence cannot be argued.  I still remember the first time I saw the Smells Like Teen Spirit video and thinking "What the hell is this and why do I love it so much?"  CORRECT
    • The Meters 100:1 The funk founders are back again, and still won't make it  CORRECT
    • NWA 5:1 I had them at even money last year.  Glad I was wrong.  Odds go up, but they still remain a favorite  INCORRECT - It turns out that 2013 was a bad year for rap acts to make the Hall
    • The Replacements 50:1 With the nomination, they get the recognition they deserve, but they won't get the ultimate respect they deserve by getting in.  Here is my full case for The Replacements to make the Hall  CORRECT
    • Linda Rondstadt 4:1  Her recently announced diagnosis of Parkinson's disease will make her the feel-good entry of the year.  I project she'll go in, although it won't entirely be based on her merits  CORRECT
    • Cat Stevens 10:1 Now calling himself Yusuf Islam, he's got all those intangibles that the Hall will love.  No way he deserves to be in the Hall.  He might make it anyway not because of what he's done, but based solely on who he is.  Hey, where have we heard that before?  INCORRECT - I really didn't think he'd make it.  He absolutely does not deserve to make it.  Ah, but don't let talent (or lack thereof) get in the way of making a political statement.  What a complete joke.
    • Yes 50:1  If a prog rock act is going to go, it will be Gabriel.  There won't be two, even though they deserve it.  Here is my full case for Yes to make the Hall CORRECT
    • The Zombies 1000:1  too short of a library for inclusion in the Hall.  Not going to happen CORRECT

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

    Our Post-Christian Society

    I don't do this very often, but John O'Sullivan recently gave an address at the Transatlantic Christian Council, and I think it so valuable, that I encourage you to read it all.

    You can find the transcript to his address here.

    His insight is learned, and his conclusions and recommendations interesting.

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    Simple Crime Reporting Now Not Politically Correct

    From the StarTribune this past Saturday, The Black Faculty and Staff at the University of Minnesota wrote the University president, alarmed that so many crime alerts featured black males as suspects.

    The cause for their alarm?  Well, it had to be about safety of the kids and staff on campus, right?  Nah.  Their concern is that black males would now be "profiled" - a term that serves as a dog whistle to liberals that a minority group is being oppressed.

    Never mind that the people that are committing the crimes are black males.  That fact just isn't important if it hurts feelings.  Hence, in order to be fair - not protect the public, but be fair - I'd suggest that all future crime not be reported as being committed by a person, as we all know that "person" is code for a racist to assume "minority."  No, instead, let all crime be reported as being conducted by straight white males.

    Because, well all know, although they might not be guilty of the crime being reported, they are indeed guilty.

    Whitewashing crime reports.  Literally.  Somewhere George Orwell is laughing himself silly. 

    Sunday, December 15, 2013

    Minnesota Wild's Charlie Coyle Makes a Fan for Life

    It took him about five seconds to establish a relationship that could last a lifetime.

    It's the little things - the human things - that make the difference.  And often the cost for doing them is basically nil.

    While I've  never been particularly impressed with Coyle as a player, I can say that I'm extremely impressed on him as a man.  And, like that little kid, I'll be cheering a little harder for #3 going forward.

    Atta boy, Charlie.

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

    Winter Digs In

    Winter started early this year - well before Thanksgiving Day.  Since then, we here in the upper Midwest have had nary a reprieve.  Either we're in the single digits, or it warms up enough to generate an unwelcome snow.

    And the 10 day forecast?  More of the same:

    We get a little break at the end of the week where we get close to breaking freezing, but then plunge back into it in the following days.

    And it's not just here.  Most of the US, hell, most of the world for that matter is having unseasonably cold weather.  Good thing that Global Warming thing is settled science, otherwise folks might start to think the "scientists" pushing that meme might have some ulterior motive.

    At least the snow's pretty...

    Friday, December 13, 2013

    A Written-Off Christmas

    It has been a tough Christmas season at the YDP household.  Issues at work have created stress galore, which has tainted the season ever since Thanksgiving.  Hell, ever since last New Year's for that matter.

    Then the health issue struck.  The debilitating pain, lost hours, and mental and physical trauma cost us nearly a week out of our lives.  It consumed everything.

    So Mrs. YDP and I were sitting on the couch last night, looking at our barely decorated house with one eye and the calendar with the other, and wondering if any of it made sense.  And that's when we struck the deal - we'd be writing off Christmas 2013.  No more decorating the house (inside or out), no decorating the tree, no cooking, no more Christmas cards, none of it.  We'll complete our shopping and that will be it.

    Sad, really.  Christmas is such an important holiday to both of us.  But with where we are in the season, and what we've faced, neither of us are in the mood for the additional stress that accompanies "celebration."

    A week from Saturday, we fly out to meet family for a week-long vacation.  Our eyes focus there.  I personally look forward to the hugs, smiles, and laughs provided by my nieces and nephews.  I hope to find a small Catholic church to attend midnight mass.  I'll watch Pope Francis' say his first Christmas mass from St. Peter's with a fire in the fireplace, and a great glass of my brother's wine in my hand.  And from there, I'll fall asleep.

    And perhaps, then, some return will be received on a Christmas that had been previously written off. 

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Kidney Stone Stent

    Despite having kidney stone surgery on Monday, which removed the stone and should have provided relief, I still felt lousy.  I was subjected to multiple kidney spasms, which mimic in intensity the pain of the original stone.  I also was stuck with this stent inside of me, and despite that pain, I also had the pain of the retrieval chords sticking out from my, ahem, guy.  Any undo brushing against those chords instantly caught my attention.

    Well, I finally got the stent out today.  What a relief it was to get out, but until it was removed, I had no idea its size:

    It was about a foot long, and the nurse pulled it out of me like she was pulling the rip cord on a lawn mower.  The  only thing that was missing was the "VROOM" noise, although my screaming may have compensated.

    It's hard to describe the pain associate with this event.  I've broken bones, tore up a knee, and had multiple concussions.  All of that, dear friends, is child's play.   

    The only bigger surprise to all of this is how many people have suffered from these.  It is far more common than I thought.  But perhaps in a way I'm lucky it is so common as the emergency room knew exactly what was going on the minute I came in, and they were extremely forthcoming with the morphine.  So much so that the ER Doctor said to me, "I know you're still in pain.  But I can't give you any more and be able to guarantee that you'll be able to continue breathing."

    I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    The Massive Impact of Fleeting Health

    With this latest health episode, I was struck by the massive upheaval the event made in my life.  My hospital stay and additional time away from work impacted my professional life and progress, the events have made me call into question where and how I live, and there have been other ramifications as it pertains to my family and my health.

    And three days ago, everything was "fine."

    I'm not trying to be too dramatic here.  My event was hardly life-threatening, nor was it a unique experience.  Despite this, the upset that has been wrought to my life is astounding.

    There's a lesson in there, somewhere.  I don't know what it is yet, but I'm working on it.

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Nobody to Call

    I've been suffering from a kidney stone episode these past two days.  It has been incredibly painful and uncomfortable, both from a physical standpoint, and in other ways as well.

    My surgery to remove the stone occurred last night.  By the time I got settled into my room and adequately doped up, it was around 10 at night.  My wife left for home, and I tried to get as comfortable as I could for the long evening of recovery.

    On the hour, nurses would come in to get my vitals - take my BP, listen to my heart, review my oxygen levels, and take my temperature.  Occasionally I'd get up to urinate, and dealt with the pain and blood associated with that act.

    At midnight, I started running a temp, and this had me quite worried.  I had just had major trauma to my urinary tract - to the point of substantive bleeding - and my fear of infection was high.

    At 1:00, the temp had increased to just under 101.  I was punchy due to the fever and the drugs, and I was flat out scared.  I was pressing the nurse on what we were going to do about the fever, and she seemed non-concerned.  Unfortunately I was not in my right mind to advocate for this to be taken more seriously.  I tried to call my wife, but her cell phone had died and she couldn't hear the main phone.

    And that was the only person I could think to call.

    In Minnesota, I can think of two dozen people that I could call in the middle of the night and have them come into the hospital and help me.  But here in Green Bay, I have zero.

    Thankfully, the fever did subside.  But had it not, I wonder what my night would have been like.  

    And more than that, should something like this occur again, I have no idea who I'd call or what I'd do.  And that's the saddest thing of all.

    Sunday, December 8, 2013

    Play by Play of Four Old Ladies Beating a Man

    I just encountered this recording last week.  It sounds like it has been out there a while, and while it appears too good to be true, Snopes seems to think it is legit.

    Regardless, see if you can listen to this and not laugh.

    What a great way to start a Monday:

    Saturday, December 7, 2013

    LEGO Blues Brothers Shopping Mall Chase Scene

    When I was in college in the late 1980's, the house I shared with four other room mates had a brand new VCR (expensive technology for the time, especially for a college kid), and a narrow assortment of nine movies.  And you could bet, on any given night, someone would come stumbling home from the local bar and would put one of them in (and then pass out on the couch watching it, but that's another post).

    Since our movie library was limited, these moves ultimately were seen dozens and dozens of times.  They were burned into memories, and in many instances, far greater than our studies were.

    One of the movies we had was The Blues Brothers.  I think it safe to say I've seen the movie - either in full or in parts - well over 100 times.  As such, I can vouch with supreme confidence that this replication of the movie's most famous scene is absolutely spot-on:

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    Keeping Updated

    I have prided myself on trying to have something new on this site, every day.  I do have quite a few daily readers, and even if it is the latest meme or distraction, I do aim to have new content for them on their daily visit.  Unfortunately, career has conspired to keep me from doing this of late.

    And it's a shame.  I feel I'm at my best when I'm inspired, and writing about things that stir emotion in me.  But my world is out of balance right now.  Hence the muse goes back into its cage, and the blog grows stale.

    I ask for your patience, as I will try and get better.  Until then, as always, I appreciate you checking in here at Yellow Dog Patrol.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    A Football Play with Three Incredible Blocks

    The art of blocking, and it is an art, is under-appreciated in football.  Truly great blocks, ones that not only free up the runner but actually bring the pain to the opposition are a rare feat.  On any given great play, you might find one.  

    But three?  In one play?  Prepare thyself, football fan:

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    "Private Sector Velocity and Effectiveness"

    In a report made by the Department of Health and Human Services last week, claims were made that the health care registry websites were fixed; on time, and just as promised.

    Among their boasts was that the team enlisted to fix things were working with "private sector velocity and effectiveness," to get the job done right.

    How absolutely Orwellian!  They flat out admit that government is a bloated, ineffective, slovenly entity, but the private sector is more nimble.  Yet they're trying to move the entire health care industry out of the hands of private enterprise and into the wasteful morass that is the government.

    You cannot make this stuff up.  

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    My Love/Hate with Retail

    I've worked in retail my whole career.  Hell, counting my work in high school and college summer jobs, I've worked in retail for most of what I've ever been paid to do.

    And I love it.  I love the hustle, figuring out the game, the competition, and the wins.

    But the older I get, the more a hate side has crept up.  I hate always having to be on, regardless of the time or day.  I regret how much time has been spent away from people that I love.  I suffer from the lack of sleep, the stress, and the physical and mental toll it takes.  I hate that I'm starting to hate holidays.

    I'd write more about this love/hate with retail, but I need to get back to work...

    Friday, November 29, 2013

    Our Marketing Government

    Have you seen this ad yet this holiday season?

    Of course you have.  It is on nearly every other television break for major shows, including NFL football.  There are also other TV ads, plus radio ads as well.

    Why?  Why in the world does the postal service need to not only advertise, but do so with a campaign flight that is the envy of major consumer package brands (after doing some digging, I found that the USPS spent roughly $150 million on advertising in 2011, along with some dubious line items)?  Do people who need to ship something actually not think of the Postal Service without a massive barrage of advertising?

    This is only the beginning of our government marketing itself.   Be it ads to encourage sign up for food stamps, ads for signing up for social security, or this ad to encourage frat boys to sign up for Obamacare:

    The bottom line is that our government feels the need to market to its people.  To the tune of likely over a billion dollars every year.  For advertising.  Given simple supply and demand, imagine what that does to costs for brands, retailers, and others that choose to advertise.

    Like the carrier in the ad above with the giant snowman, it all kind of freaks me out.

    Thursday, November 28, 2013

    Happy Thanksgiving

    With so much going on in the world, it's easy to be jaded and to think only the worst.  And at times like these, Thanksgiving steps up, smacks you right in the mug, and forces you to see the blessings that have been laid at our feet.

    A warm home.  Clean water, clothes, and sheets.  More food than I could eat.  Incredible wine.  And more than all of these, time with people that I love.

    In the grand scheme of things, all is right in the world.  It is, indeed.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Blaming Fox News

    Fox News replies to the Obama administration, which has continually pointed to them as a scapegoat for the nation's ills:

    Saturday, November 23, 2013

    How to Create a Killer LinkedIn Profile

    My sister recently reached out to me about improving her LinkeIn profile, as she's starting to reengage her professional life.  I put together some thoughts to help her, and thought that what I developed  may help others as well.

    Here's the email I sent her:

    Hi Foof,

    Welcome to social media - my world! 

    From my perspective, there is NOTHING more important than LinkedIn from a personal branding perspective. You don't need pro help, you have me, and I'd argue that I'm in the 99th percentile when it comes to LI and effectiveness. My profile is not perfect, but it is pretty damn good.

    The objectives of a LinkedIn profile are twofold.  The first is obvious - this is the new extension of the resume.  It is able to tell a lot more about you than that piece of paper ever could.  The second is far more subtle, but imminently more valuable; it helps you get found.  And that's a key way of how senior executives to managers are found in 2013.  It is how business is done.

    Let's start at the top:

    • Picture is critical.  Always have one, and always have a good one.  Mine is out of date and bad, and my 2014 resolution is to update it.  It does not have to be professional, but it does have to be very good. Yours needs an update.  The fact that you're a good looking woman will strongly benefit you in this area.  That's not being sexist; that's reality and the way the world works.
    • The number and type of connections are critical, as who you know is often times as important as what you know.  You need to be constantly growing this, and your goal should be to fill that area with people that are at or higher than your level.  Certainly they'll not all be that, but when people go through your contacts, they need to be impressed by the crowd with which you run.  That means being strategic about reaching out to folks.
    • Along those lines, there is a courtesy in asking for a connection.  Never, and I mean never just send out the LinkedIn template request.  If you can't spend 10 seconds personalizing it to the relationship to make it meaningful for the recipient, you're just spamming them.  These people are getting multiple requests per week, and they're certainly not accepting all of them (I accept about 10% of what I get).  Give them a reason to want to connect with you by letting them know how connecting with you can be valuable for them or by reminding them of what you once worked on together.  
    • You've got a personal URL in LinkedIn - great job!  That's missed by a lot of folks, and it makes it a lot easier for you to be found outside of LI on traditional search engines.  Nothing to change there.
    • Contact info is critical as it will be the mechanism by which many will reach you, and it also says things about you.  You're missing your phone number, and this needs to be included (then we've got to work on your phone skills - keeping your inbox clear for incoming messages, firing off "busy" texts on inbound calls, etc.).  Also, your email address says a lot about you.  Since you're on an AOL domain, my assumption would be that you're not technically savvy.  I'd suggest getting a gmail account, and branding it appropriately (just your name, and nothing crazy like "SChrexpert@gmail.com" - people hate that.)
    • Your activity stream is important.  You need to be on LI for 15 minutes every work day, developing this.  People need to see what you are doing, and you need to be sharing your professional perspective so that people can see a deeper picture of you and what you thinking.  I'm not as developed here as I'd like to be, and that's because work is just too crazy now.  In a more normal period, I'm pushing out a thought a day, and looking to get engagement from my network.  Also, your posts can automatically be published to Twitter, and I suggest you establish a professional account there.  I'd make all of your tweets on LI and would save Twitter for only professional tweets.  Never tweet any personal information.  Politics is a definite third-rail.
    • Your background and experience needs to be filled in, and needs to be filled with the specific keywords that people would use to find someone with a skill set like yours.  Think about the search terms they'd use, and then use those terms in your content.  This needs to be very strategic.  LI provides you insight to how many times you've shown up in searches, and you need to be focused on that metric with the goal of growing it on a week by week basis.
    • Recommendations are important - they're references.  You need to cultivate these as much as possible, with the goal of having a couple per your last three gigs.  Your boss or client should be one of them if possible; direct reports hold a lot less value, but they're not worthless - they give your prospective employer direct insight on the kind of leader you are from your team's perspective, and that is valuable insight indeed.
    • The best way to get a recommendation is to first write one for the person you intend to ask.  Likewise, if you ever get asked to write a recommendation, always ask for one in return.  You might not like what you get back (not that it is negative, just that it is poorly written), and you have the right to accept the recommendation and publish it or not.  I have a number of recommendations that I have not published as I felt it did not align with the brand I am trying to cultivate, and that is OK.
    • Working on any projects?  Load them in that area.  Look for things like any community projects or pro bono charity work you might be doing.  Be creative here.
    • Remove your high school from your education.  You wouldn't put it on your resume, and it doesn't belong on LI.
    • Skills and expertise endorsements are pretty much a joke.  By all means, develop a list for yourself, and if people endorse you for them, outstanding.  But by no means does this take the place of the recommendation.  I personally view these as pretty worthless as I have people endorsing me for skill sets that they've never seen me execute in the hopes that I reciprocate.  I refuse to give that away, and in the past year I've not endorsed anyone for anything.
    • Your professional groups and the companies you follow say a lot about your professional curiosity and engagement, and both of those areas need to be a strong reflection of your personal brand.  Spend a lot of time there, and make the appropriate engagements.

    That's it to start.  That won't be the end - there is fine tuning to do - but if you do all of these things you'll easily have a top tier LinkedIn profile.  It will take a lot of work - LI is NOT set and forget - but if you do put in the work, it will pay dividends for you.  It won't happen immediately, but the goal is to incrementally get better every week. 

    Personally, I judge my effectiveness based on the about of recruiters that are on my page, and by the amount of recruiter calls I receive,  Right now I'm averaging about 3 to the page and about a call per week.  If I was in the job market, I'd love that kind of attention.  Define your own success metrics, and head after them. 

    We can talk more on this when we get together, or feel free to call me at any time.  I enjoy this stuff very much (hence my career choice), and I'm happy to help.

    Love you.


    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Social Media - You're Shouting to the World. What if the World is Listening?

    A lot (perhaps most?) people think that what they do on social media is private; shared only with their friends and connections.  As has been stated here earlier, nothing could be farther from the truth.  What you do online, in just about every realm, can be found, traced, and tracked.

    Everything.  And sometimes, without too much difficulty.

    As graphic evidence, note this little social media experiment:

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    "Knockout" Videos the Next Urban Big Thing

    Hear about the "game" Knockout?  

    Urban youth have:

    A simple search for "knockout game videos" provides lots more examples.  Common denominators:

    • Targets are defenseless
    • Targets are usually not black
    • Every perpetrator is black
    But it's not a hate crime.  It's just a "game."  Just a macho thing.


    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Dog Rube Goldberg Machine

    I have no idea how many takes it took to make this work, but the results are incredible:

    Hat tip to Cuz

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Oppose Obama? Oprah Says You're Racist

    Oprah Winfrey, the woman made obscenely rich by white America, says that the reason why people oppose Obama is because they're racist, and everybody knows it:

    Never mind that the only reason he got elected in the first place was because a bunch of white people voted for him.  The first play in the liberal playbook is to never let facts get in the way when the race card is being played.

    Obama is a horrible executive, leader, and president.  He's woefully over his head, has surrounded himself with sycophants, has overtly lied to the American people time and again, and has yet to convey any semblance of responsibility, humility, or resolve.  His tenure, especially in the second term, has been a nightmare.

    But I guess to Oprah, that only means I'm a racist.

    When do we get to the point in our culture where a man can be criticized based on his actions, and have that criticism stick without apologists invoking the color of the man's skin?

    Obama was elected by many to right the wrongs done to African Americans throughout our history.  However, instead of making things better, Obama has only made things worse and made the division wider.  

    Could his administration be any more of a failure? 

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    Cabela's Haul

    In social media, there's a concept called "haul videos," where the subject of the video, usually a teenage girl, shows of the "haul" she made shopping.

    A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I went out to an early dinner.  After our meal, I let her know that I needed to stop by Cabela's for a case of ammo for an upcoming hunting trip.  She agreed to meet me at home, and we went our separate ways.

    Maybe it was the couple of drinks that I had with dinner, or maybe it was just the majesty of the new store, but my quick trip for a flat of ammo went on for over an hour, and ended up with me filling the cart with two cases of shotgun ammunition, rifle and handgun ammo, a new hunting shirt, a sweatshirt, and a couple of really nice Christmas gifts.  See below:

    I sheepishly approached the check-out with my now full cart, and the check out person started her work.  The net result?  $650 (ammunition is damned expensive).

    I gulped hard.  This was supposed to be just one quick trip.  How would I explain to my better half this kind of indulgence?  Thankfully, I was about to be saved, as my checker said, "You have $773 in Cabela's points.  Would you like to use them?"

    "Yes," I said with a relieved sigh, "Yes I would."

    I basically use only one credit card, and use it for everything.  That would be Cabela's card, and as such, I rack up a good amount of points for my spending.  Over time, it builds to a tidy little sum.  Fortunately for me, it was big enough that I was able to fill the back of my rig with new gear, and without incurring any sticker shock on the monthly credit card bill.

    And incurring the wrath of surprised spouse.

    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    Battle of the Bulge, Part 4: The Tide Turns

    A couple of months ago I saw my buddy Fuzzy, and he was fresh off of dropping a good chunk of weight.  I asked him how he did it, and he showed me this:

    This little device is a Fitbit Flex.  It monitors your motion, via a very sensitive (and surprisingly accurate) tracking mechanism.  It tracks things like how much you've moved, how far you've gone, and even how soundly you slept.

    Armed with this motivation to move, it also supplies a web interface which allows you to track things like calories consumed, heavier workouts, water consumed, and your weight.  Taking a spot on the wrist, it provides a constant reminder of your activities (or lack thereof), and to think about what you're doing.

    I started using it, and have been religious about my use.  I log everything, and know exactly how many calories I've consumed, and how many additional ones I've earned via activity.  I know when I'm in a deficit, and when I'm over.  And more than that, for the first time in my life I know with great confidence the amount of calories contained in what is going into my pie hole.

    And the result?  Since I started using it in September, I'm down about 25 pounds.  I've lost about 4 inches around my waist.  I now weigh an amount that I haven't weighed since I was in college.

    And I'm no longer freaking obese:

    Oh, it isn't over.  A war that has lasted since my childhood can't ever be over.  But for this portion of the battle, I'm winning.

    And the war rages...

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Obamacare in Flames

    The roll out of Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster.  From myriad technical failures, to minuscule registrations; from "You can keep your plan," to "no, you can't," to "your old plan was bad," we've been shown time and again that this administration hasn't the faintest idea of what it is doing.

    They see their panacea.  The only trouble is that they're so inept that they cannot find a way to execute so that the bloated pig that is the federal government can take over 1/6 of the US economy once and for all.

    And now, finally faced with push back from a formerly-fawning media, Obama just flat out says the law he asked to have pass just won't be honored.  And those policies that were cancelled?  Well, we didn't really mean that in the law.  Those companies can offer those policies up again, OK?

    The biggest problem in all of this is the reputation of the Obama administration.  What they've done to their enemies via the IRS (and what they've likely done to their enemies via the NSA, just ask David Petraeus, but just don't ask him electronically - Hi NSA!), this group has zero credibility.  The guy once said "You can keep your plan.  Period," but then we found he lied.  Now he's saying just ignore the law?  

    Yeah, right.

    Two things are going to happen.  1) Those cancelled policies come back on line, leaving those opting in for Obamacare to be the sick and the old, which will then, in turn, have rates skyrocket.  2) A jaundiced public and insurance industry just flat out ain't gonna trust Obama to keep his word, and the USS Obamacare keeps on the same course and continues to sink from its own bloated weight.

    Either way, the law as it is currently configured, is doomed.

    And since it deals with a massive amount of our economy, so, too, may be our economic prospects.

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    China Crisis Concert Review and Set List: Shank Hall Milwaukee

    One of my all-time favorite bands is China Crisis.  Their Walter Becker produced album Flaunt the Imperfection is easily within my top 25 albums of all time, and their follow up What Price Paradise, while more hit or miss, was still strong.

    Unfortunately, the band never gained a significant following, hence their touring, especially in the US, was limited.  Because of this, and because I'm such a fan, I just about hopped a jet to see them play in Liverpool a couple of years ago.  The economics of the whole deal finally made me come to my senses, but I truly came close to doing so.

    So imagine my surprise to find out they were coming to Milwaukee; just two hours to the south of me.  And not only that, but they were playing the intimate Shank Hall, with room for just a couple of hundred.

    No, it wasn't a full band effort.  Lead singer Gary Daly was there, and in incredible voice too I might add.  As was guitarist/vocalist Eddie Lundon, who like Daly, looked to be in very good shape.  Armed with another member (I failed to capture his name - I apologize) playing keyboards and digital tracks, and the little band wanted for nothing.

    And neither did the audience.

    Here is the set list, to the best of my recollection:

    The Soul Awakening
    Temptation's Big Blue Eyes
    Seven Sports for All
    Wall of God
    You Did Cut Me
    The Bigger the Punch I'm Feeling
    Black Man Ray
    Wishful Thinking
    King in a Catholic Style
    Working with Fire and Steel
    African and White
    Here Comes a Rain Cloud
    Thank You
    Diary of a Hollow Horse

    Yeah, I missed Arizona Sky, but damn, that is still one great set list.

    I went with my buddy Mac, and there's a whole other post about our mutual love for China Crisis, and each other, that I'll get into later.  Needless to say, he was as thrilled as I was to attend.  We were even more thrilled with our front row seats, and to meet both Gary and Eddie after the show:

    Overall, it was a night of great music, a great band, and great friends.  

    For the stop in the States, especially the one in Milwaukee, it seems only appropriate to quote one of the latter songs in their set:

    And so I thank you
    I do

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Invisible Bike Helmet

    As one that bikes, albeit not as frequently as I want or should, I find this a pretty impressive technology.

    Check it out:

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Battle of the Bulge. Part Three: Motivation

    The whole weight loss thing has been a struggle, and one that has raged throughout my entire life.  Yet, with my cessation of eating sweets in 2013, I have found a method that finally maintains my weight.  Things have finally been in flat line for most of the year, for the first time in my life.

    Now, what to do about that excess baggage?  If I could just peel off 30 pounds or so, I feel like I finally have the ability to maintain it.

    But how?  Great question, and the key to the whole mess.

    In the past five years, I've had five good buddies that took a pretty drastic step and lost 20+ pounds.  And this was in their middle ages - tough duty indeed.  Some did it for medical reasons, some because they just wanted to, but all because they were tired of carrying around the excess baggage.

    It was possible.  Now I just needed to understand how it was done.

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Happy Veteran's Day

    Good Lord, I miss Ronald Reagan...

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    Pre-Flight Hail Mary

    About 25 years ago, I was involved in a flight that sustained severe turbulence.  The ride was like a rodeo bull, the cabin turned into a vomitorium, and the flight attendant, seated with her face toward us, was as scared as any flight professional that I've ever seen.

    Obviously, things ended just fine.  But for about an eight year period thereafter, I had some serious issues with a fear of flying.  Ultimately, some hypnosis tapes, breathing exercises, and a hell of a lot of flying have got me over my fear.  Severe turbulence still bothers me, but nothing at all like it used to.  And now, instead of dreading flying, I actually look forward to my trips.

    During this heavy fear period I developed a habit of saying a Hail Mary as the plane is taxiing for departure, and I still do it to this day.

    On one of my more recent flights, I got seated early, and immediately started working on some pressing work issues.  I was banging out emails, sending texts, reading documents, making calls, and basically whipping myself into a froth of work for as long as I could with the door still open.  

    After about 20 minutes, the door closed, and I had to power down and put away all of my stuff.  As I cleaned my space, I finally sat back and relaxed.  Noticing the plane was moving, I buried my head and said a sincere Hail Mary.  Upon completion, I looked up and noticed the cabin.  I had been so buried in my work that I didn't even notice the person that sat down next to me, others in the plane, or even what the flight attendant looked like.  I was so absorbed.  So "productive."

    And as I thought about that Hail Mary, I wondered what if our flight would not be a safe one?  What if those moments of work, where I completely tuned out the entire world around me, would be the last that I lived?   Is that really how I want to meet my Maker, as one that worked so hard that he ignored his neighbor?

    The older I get, the clearer it is to me that our time here is not guaranteed.  It is a gift not to be squandered with the choices we make.  And while I'm guilty of squandering it, I try to do better.

    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    Battle of the Bulge, Part Two: Maintaing

    I was attending my family's gathering at my sister's home in Charleston last Christmastime.  It was a grand time with lots of interaction with the family; both close and extended.  

    As we ate dinner for New Year's Eve, the talk around the table was of the coming year, what we'd be doing with it, and our resolutions.  When my turn to share came up, I made a fairly generic comment about wanting to be more healthy in my approach to eating and exercise.

    Dinner finished and dessert arrived, and I noted that the brother of my brother-in-law, a guy older than me but in very good shape, turned down my sister's homemade dessert.  "I don't eat sweets," he claimed, "I just don't."

    Ah, sweets.  My love/hate relationship.  When in the mode of eating them, I found them to be absolutely addictive.  Every night I'd need to have some kind of sweet.  And I truly mean NEED.  However, over the past 20 years or so, I usually gave up sweets for lent.  And I found after a week or so after I gave them up, I did not crave them.  After another week or so, I didn't miss them at all.

    I thought back to the comment of my dinner partner: "I don't eat sweets."  And then I thought about myself, forever struggling with my weight, and losing the battle.  I should be the last guy in the world to accept any kind of dessert.  How stupid am I?

    So I made up my mind then and there that I'd be that guy that said, "I don't eat sweets."  I had no set goal other than that - no expectations, no time horizon, just doing it day to day.  And I've eaten no sweets since my sister's dessert that night.

    No cake, doughnuts, candy, jam, pies, dessert.  And basically no fruit, honey, or sweeteners.  Not one damn bite.

    And what have I found?  Three things: 1) I don't miss it.  I just don't.  People can eat the stuff in front of me, and I couldn't care less.  I don't crave it, don't want it, and don't miss it.  2) I like saying "I don't eat sweets," and being that guy. 3) My weight maintained.  I mean, constant.  For most of the year, I was in about a 5 pound range.  No more yo-yo; just steady Eddie.  Finally.

    I know I can maintain.  It is powerful knowledge.  Now, what to do with it?

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    The Biggest Football Play Ever?

    Likely not.  But given the stakes and the ripple effect, it is far from insignificant.

    Grab the Kleenex...

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    Must Read Blog Post!

    While working out this morning, I spied a commercial for the movie Last Vegas which came on the TV, and a headline taken from a recent review for the movie screamed, "MUST SEE!"

    Really? A move for and about aging baby boomers is a MUST SEE?  

    I don't think so.  Actually it sounds boring as hell.

    And that brings me to the subject of this post.  It quickly appears that the use of MUST in any kind of headline is out of control.  Blogs, articles, and even social media posts are way too liberal in their consideration of what is a MUST do, own, see, experience, etc.

    Personally, I think it is insulting.  The older I get the more outside of the mainstream I find myself; hence whatever is the most popular meme of the day tends not to intrigue me, it tends instead to just irk me.  Plus, and more insulting, defining something as "MUST SEE" has the implied subject of "you" - "You MUST SEE."  Such a sentence is rude, authoritarian, presumptuous, and ignorant.  

    Personally, I "MUST" not do anything, really, even though others leveraging a rude, overused headline technique demand it.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    Tommy's Trials

    Check out the attached news article, featuring a buddy of mine from college and his son:

    Pretty amazing all that they've been through.  As we approach the Thanksgiving period, this sure provides lots to think about.

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    The Vikings Just Plain Suck

    I have tried to stay positive, but the record is the record.  And the record indicates the following: the Vikings suck.

    Count me in the wrong on Ponder.  I felt with another season under his belt that he'd mature, and with the new weapons of Patterson and Jennings, we'd be able to move away from being a one dimensional offense.  Alas, that was not the case, as Ponder has consistently been the laughingstock of the coaches' clicker set, as he continues to miss wide open receiver after wide open receiver.

    As such, the offense has stalled.  And those guys have to be seeing the same things in their own internal film sessions.  How long would you be willing to bust your tail and risk your body for someone that simply cannot execute what is required of his position?  

    And on the defensive side of the ball, the losses in the secondary have stung, with the loss of leader Harrison Smith looming largest.  Couple that with the fact that the defense is on the field for a majority of the game, every game, and is just damned exhausted, and you can expect bad things to happen.

    Is all lost?  Hell, no.  This team was a playoff team last year, with worse talent.  They lost three games on the final drive; two on the final plays.  It still has the reigning MVP, who showed sparks of his award-winning season in yesterday's game.  It will land a great draft pick.  And say what you want about Ziggy Wilf, but the guy is willing to spend on players.  Stadiums?  Not so much, but absolutely Ziggy will spend on players.

    But in order to get back to being a playoff team the Vikings absolutely, positively must get a quarterback.  Not a retread like Matt Cassel, but a legitimate player.  Those guys are tough to find, even tougher to draft, and they don't make immediate impacts, but in this case they are absolutely imperative to this team's future. 

    In the meantime, as loathe as I am to say it, the Vikings suck.