Thursday, January 31, 2013

Moon Landing Hoax Debunked

For decades now, there has been a fringe but vocal minority that believed that the US accomplishment of sending men to the moon was just all one big hoax perpetrated on the world.  And with the advent of the internet and the ability to easily share information, this small group has been gaining a louder voice.

This video provides a great retort to the hoax community.  While you might take umbrage at a couple of his remarks, his delivery is quite spectacular.

It's long, but worth it:



Hat tip to my brother.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hunting with Kin 2013 in Pictures

I just returned from the Northern Invasion version of the annual Hunting With Kin that the Yellow Dog Patrol executes.  While the ducks didn't cooperate that much, a good time was still had by all.  

Here are some visual highlights:

One of the best things about being a duck hunter are the incredible things we see while we're out in the swamp.  This beautiful bayou sunrise is just one example.

Here's cousin Chris on the outlook for some inbound ducks.  There weren't any.

Our Friday morning tradition is breakfast at the truck stop. Cholesterol levels definitely maxed out. 

This is what happens when a couple of Yankees have too much time on their hands and the weather is warm.  

Trust me, you do not want to drink this.  Under any circumstances.  Nasty...

This year's trip involved a visit to the Duck Commander headquarters in Monroe.  Just like the ducks, no Robertsons were sighted.  

The best part of the trip was our newest member of the Yellow Dog Patrol.  Meet Brandy, Cousin Terry's 1 year old pup.  She proved to be a heck of a dog, even in her rookie campaign.  It was really fun to see her experience all these new things and figure out the game.  She's already made a fine addition to the YDP.

The second best part of the trip is eating like kings.  Here's a big bowl of Suzie's homemade crawfish etouffee.  Now, if we could only convince her to come up and cook for us up at Lake Ben... 

While the ducks were few, the laughs, good times, and memories were not.  I already can't wait for our next adventure.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crazy Green Bay Weather

Just how crazy is it here on the Frozen Tundra?  Well, today's high is projected to be 53.  

That's right.  53.  In January.

But lest we think that we're now living in some balmy clime, we just need to wait a day when we'll get 4" to 6" of snow.

And then it's not over, because we need to wait just one more day and the high will be 5.

That's right, the high will be 5.

I will start to believe in global warming when it starts becoming permanent...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rory and Tiger on the Practice Range

With Rory McIlroy recently landing a huge deal to endorse Nike, the brand deftly created the following ad to lay the ground work for a passing of the baton.

The team at Nike do a very good job at marketing.  Now Rory just needs to do a good job golfing with Nike gear.

It will be fun to see this relationship mature over the years.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Most Creative Hockey Penalty Shot Ever

The "how's she goin'?" move is a hockey staple, but I've not seen it executed on a penalty shot before, especially so effectively.

I love this

Friday, January 25, 2013

How to start a career in Ecommerce : Part 2, Getting Started


So you want a career in ecommerce?  Good for you!  There are very few career tracks that change as much, move as fast, and are as fun.  It is a great place for a career.

But how to get started?  Especially with no experience?  The simple answer is to get some.  And there are multiple ways to do so.

The first place to start is to develop a website to allow you to practice your new craft.  While that can sound daunting, especially if you have no coding background, don’t worry.  We’re going to start with the most basic stuff first, and it couldn’t be any easier or more affordable. 

Let’s start that site!  And the best way to begin is to build out a blog using any one of the multiple blog software packages that are out there.  I’d suggest starting with www.blogger.com (which is what you are reading this information on right now), or www.Wordpress.com.  For a list of other blog options, check out this article , but note that some of the options require payment. 

Wade through your options, and select the technology that appears to be the best fit for you.  Once selected, go about building out the look and feel of your blog.  There will be easy tools that you can employ that will drastically change the appearance of the site, and there will be tools and widgets that can be added to improve the functionality of the site.  Determine which ones will be meaningful for you as a student and your audience and deploy them.  Get your sea legs, play around with the configuration of the site, and try to build something that is appealing to you.

Once built, it will be necessary to develop content.  And while any content will do, you’ll want to develop, acquire, and curate content that will attract an audience.  And this is where the power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will drive people to your site.   

What exactly is SEO?  Wikipedia says it best:


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.  In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search,[1] news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic..


SEO is a constant pursuit.  The major search engines don’t publish exactly how their search algorithms work, so it is a constant game of changing things, seeing how it impacts rankings, then changing them again.  Likewise, just because one variable is good, does not mean more of it is good.  For example, say we’re trying to optimize a page to show up for searches on the keyword “jeans.”  Utilizing that keyword in the title of your article is a good thing.  Likewise, using the keyword in the body of the copy is good as well.  Unfortunately, one can overdo it.  The copy “These jeans are the best jeans to buy if you are looking to buy jeans and want a great deal on jeans,” will likely be viewed as “keyword stuffing” by Google.  That means instead of going up in rankings for the search of “jeans,” you’ll be penalized and will go down. 

Finally, the major search engines change their algorithms on a fairly constant basis.  Hence, if you ever get really good at SEO and believe that you found a way to construct a site that cracks the search engines’ code, they’ll change that code sooner or later and you can find yourself starting over again. 

SEOMOZ.org has a great program for beginners to SEO, and understanding the concepts there will give you a fantastic head start to your career in ecommerce.

But how do you know if you have been successful in driving traffic to your site?  That’s where web analytics comes in, which will be covered in the next chapter.

 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Perhaps the Coolest Robot Video of All Time

I love technology.  I love music.  And that's why this could be the coolest video of all time.

Check it out as this robot band rages through Motorhead's classic "Ace of Spades":




And for those YDP readers not into metal (the music genre, not the robots), here's the comparison to the human band - take it away, Lemmy:




And don't forget the Joker!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Man of the House

One of my earliest memories of my childhood - and I mean early, my sister was not even born yet - was one where my Dad was packing for a business trip.  He kneeled down to me, looked me in the eye, and told me that he would be gone a couple of days.  As such, it was my job to be "the man of the house" until he got home.

I remember when he said it how it struck me.  What a daunting yet important responsibility for me.  Even at the age of 4 or 5, I desperately wanted to be up for the task, and to be counted upon to take care of things for the family.

Now I know Dad had no intention of putting a little kid in charge of things.  His only intention was to put something into my head which might make me behave for a couple of hours and provide my Mom with some much needed relief.  But that fleeting little conversation has stuck with me for over 40 years now.  I still think about it more than I'd like to admit.

Perhaps that's the reason that for my entire life, everything I've ever truly cared about I ended up leading.  Perhaps that's the kernel that eats at me to do a little more or work a little harder.  Perhaps that's the thing that has yoked me to always being "responsible." 

Maybe, ever since my Dad tasked me with it, I'm just always trying to be "the man of the house."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bad Lip Reading - The NFL Version

The guys that make these are absolute geniuses.

"Orange peanut!"

   

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Minnesota Wild on Fox Sports Wisconsin

The last two years, Fox Sports Wisconsin has picked up some Minnesota Wild NHL games.  Between the nationally televised games in which the Wild played, plus the handful that FSW picked up, I was able to see about a third of the team's total games.

With the Wild's significant upgrade in talent for this season, I was not going to be content to just a third of the games.  Hence, I stated to look at the NHL Game Center Live; a way to watch out of market games through the NHL.  It is the same type of service that I use to follow the Twins through the MLB service.

But then the team published it's media schedule, and I was able to see how many games FSW would pick up.  Yahtzee!


This is a big year, as with a short schedule, anything can happen.  And with the new talent the team has acquired, along with a return to health of some important players, the Wild has a chance to do some good things.

And the beauty of it all is that I'll be watching most of it from the comfort of my basement recliner here in Green Bay.

Go Wild!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wrong About Gopher Basketball

Eight days ago I wrote about how this year's Gopher basketball team was different.

Boy, was I wrong.

Since then, the team has suffered two humiliating losses to ranked teams; one at Indiana and one last night in the Barn against Michigan.  In both games the Gophers were out-disciplined, out-shot, out-hustled, and out-classed.

This team, while deep, does not have the talent level to take on top 10 programs while coasting.  It can't take nights off.  But that is exactly what they've done the last two games.

Coach Tubby Smith has a big task ahead of him in terms of getting this team's attention and stopping its sloppy, uninspired play.  Those last two losses were brutal, and the guys likely need to feel how brutal via some heavy doses of cardio via running baselines ala Herb Brooks.

This program is a hot mess right now.  Smith needs to fix it immediately, because his NCAA seed number is falling by the day.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful

I personally know four people right now that are battling cancer - two friends, a buddy's son, and another buddy's daughter.  One of those buddies just about died two months ago after heart surgery.  Another childhood buddy took his own life two weeks ago.

All of this makes the crosses I bear trivial in comparison.  I pray for those above, as well as all others that have a much more difficult road than I.  

And I also offer a prayer of thanksgiving that my lot is the way that it is, and that I maintain my perspective and do what I can to help.

Mills Fleet Farm's Gun Video

A pretty darned effective open letter to legislators.

This one is long, but worth it:


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Insincerity of the Gun Argument

With Vice President Joe Biden set to deliver his recommendation on what to do about guns, it is time to call out a couple of things about the complete lack of sincerity many have when espousing their gun control talking points:

  • The "if it saves even one life" argument - What utter hogwash.  You want to save "even one life?"  Drop the speed limit to 20 MPH for every road everywhere.  You'll save tens of thousands of them.  But at the end of the day, it is not about saving lives, is it?
  • The "we need to protect our children" argument - If it were about protecting the kids, why would there not be guards at schools already?  But no.  Here we stand, nearly a month after Sandy Hook, and nothing has been done to make schools significantly more safe.  Instead, we get a lot of political platitudes, and we wait for the next massacre to occur.
  • The "high capacity magazines and assault rifle control" argument - What folly.  Exactly what kind of guns are killing a majority of the people in the US?  Handguns.  Now, the tough question: exactly who is it that is using those guns?  The bottom line is that the vast majority of our gun deaths are inner-city killings done by gangs and criminals.  New York did something about it (albeit to the detriment of the 4th Amendment, but that is a separate rant) and their murder rates have fallen appreciably.  Chicago has done nothing but pass gun legislation after gun legislation, and they have become the murder capital of the nation.  
Hunters and common citizens are not killing people in this country.  Hardened criminals are.

Let's get real here: the outcome of additional gun laws will only make it harder for law abiding citizens to take lawful action.  It will do nothing to curb the criminal element.  Gun violence will continue, and additional calls for more "control" will continue as well, and the cycle will continue.   

But that's by design.  The anti-gun argument isn't about saving lives, or the children, or controlling just one segment of firearms.  It is about disassembling the 2nd Amendment, brick by brick.  Not wanting to waste a good crisis, that is exactly what some folks intend to do.  

And they're more than happy to leave our kids exposed to ensure that it happens.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Getting Back My Yellow Dog

The Yellow Dog had a pretty tough fall season.  She gained weight and lacked drive and energy. Since she's approaching her 8th birthday, I was chalking it up to old age setting in.  And it wasn't limited to her performance in the field, either.  On walks with Mrs. YDP, the dog just didn't have the same spring.

While I attempted to treat it via pain medicine, my wife felt it was something more, and a couple of months ago took the dog in for a check up.  My wife, a sufferer of thyroid trouble herself, felt the dog showed a lot of the same symptoms as one who did not have the right level of thyroid flowing through their system.

Sure enough, she was right.  The tests came back and showed that the dog was indeed hypo-thyroid.  

An "I told you so" was also summarily delivered.

We started the dog on synthetic thyroid, and within 10 days she showed immediate results.  The excess weight fell off quickly, the energy level came back, and the spring returned to her gait.  It was remarkable.

Between the timing of her diagnosis, the busy retail season, and the hustle of the holidays, I did not have the chance to get the Yellow Dog back out into the field since she started on the treatment.  Yesterday I leveraged the opportunity of warm Green Bay weather to hit my hunt club and work up a couple of birds.  While the weather wasn't perfect - there was a strong 30 MPH wind which would make scenting and shooting difficult - at a minimum it would be a good excuse for a long walk.  And it would also be a test to see how the dog was doing.

What a difference!  My dog was back!  The dog hunted hard all day, and showed an energy level she hadn't shown in nearly two years.  It was like someone had turned back the clock.  Here is some video:





We had put out 6 roosters, and ended up bagging all of them, although I might have had to do a lot of shooting to accomplish it.  It made for a good photo:

When we got home, the dog leveraged some hard earned couch time, although it wasn't as nice for Mrs. YDP:

It was great to have my dog back.  I mean all the way back.  Thanks, honey, for taking matters into your own hands.  I owe you one.  Again.  


Friday, January 11, 2013

Dolphin Stampede Video

One of the best parts of our bi-annual trip to the Bahamas is that rare occasion where we're able to encounter a dolphin while on our boat.  We've been able to see multiple, in singles and pairs, through the years, with some being very close encounters.

However, we've never encountered anything like this:




This video was taken off the coast of California by a whale-watching junket.  

I'd say that folks on that trip go their money's worth.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This is Not Your Typical Gopher Basketball Team

With the recent Vikings and Irish losses, I was starting to get the feeling that my being a fan of a specific team was the kiss of death.  Thus, when the #8 Gopher men went into face the #12 Illini in Champaign, I was worried.  And immediately after tip off those worries were warranted.  The Illini were the biggest, quickest, and most athletic team the Gophers had played since the Duke game, and the game started in shaky fashion.

But no worries - this Gopher team plays fantastic defense, and between the contested shots and cold shooting by Illinois, the Gophers pulled away in the second half for an easy win against a top 15 team.  

Beyond their defense, which is really outstanding, this really is an impressive team on multiple fronts.  They run 10 deep - literally, as the first substitution that was made by Coach Tubby Smith last night had all five starters replaced.  And these 10 players are not just bodies either.  All can play and have specific  sets of strengths that compliment the rest of the team.  As evidence, all one needs to do is to look back at the box scores of recent games to see that on any given night one or two different guys are going to step up and carry the team.

Last night it was Trevor Mbakwe's double-double, and Hopkins native Joe Coleman going off for 29 points.  Against Northwestern last weekend, it was Austin Hollins' 5 three-pointers and Rodney Williams 27 points.  Against Michigan State, it was Andre Hollins' 7 free throws and 31 points that were among the leaders.

I've been a Gopher basketball fan since my folks had season tickets back in the 1980's.  I have seen some amazing players and amazing programs.  But in all that time, I have never seen a Gopher team this deep and multi-dimensional.  This is just the kind of team that can make a big run in the NCAAs, and it will be fun to see what they can do.

However, they're going to need to get through the Big Ten first, and that is only going to be made more difficult with their next game on the road against #5 Indiana this Saturday.  That will be a great indicator of exactly what this team is capable of producing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to Start a Career in Ecommerce - Part 1: It is Easier than You Think

I was interviewed recently for a book on careers in ecommerce, and the question was raised on what one should do if they wanted to start off a career in the industry.  It is a great question, and I'm surprised that it hasn't been covered more extensively.

Hence, I will be creating a blog series to address the question.  While I know that it will have very little appeal to the regular traffic of Yellow Dog Patrol (and for that I apologize to the loyal readers and contributors), I expect it will get traffic from the search engines, and hopefully the advise helps.

As someone that hires folks in ecommerce, you might also say I have an ulterior motive.

So we begin the lesson:

So you want to get a career in ecommerce?  Congratulations!  It is a competitive, fun, dynamic, rewarding, and ever-changing career.  And I mean ever-changing:  
  • 15 years ago it basically didn't exist  
  • 13 years ago email marketing was just gaining hold and Google was just being born 
  • 8 years ago Web 2.0 and a new level of interactivity was born
  • 6 years ago Apple launched the iPhone, and set m-commerce on its way
  • 5 years ago Facebook explodes, and creates a whole new arm of electronic marketing
  • 3 years ago Apple launched the iPad, and tablets take off as new access points to websites
Whew, what a list!  Each and every one of these points (and many others that have not been listed) have been incredibly disruptive, and have required ecommerce marketers to adapt and change.  Hence, if you're looking for a nice, stable job where your days are are the same day to day, year to year, this is definitely not the career for you.

With so much at flux, how could anyone enter into the industry?  From the outside, it looks like trying to board a train that is speeding by the depot.  While I admit that the speed is daunting, there are tons of tools.  Tons.  And the even better news is that many of the best ones are free.  Hence, if you're up for some work and some self-study, the door to a job in ecommerce will open wider and quicker than in just about any other industry.  And as someone that hires for this industry, I can certify that is not an exaggeration.  

Stay tuned for the first step on getting started.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Irish Without the Fighting - Notre Dame Rolled in National Championship

The storybook season had a nightmare ending, as the #1 ranked and unbeaten Notre Dame Fighting Irish were destroyed last night by the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 42-14.  The Irish, dominated in all aspects of the game, were not able to cap off an incredible season which began with them being unranked and found them at season's end with the best record and highest ranking in the nation.

The Irish needed to play a perfect game, and what they executed was far from it.  Penalties, blown assignments, and more missed tackles than they've had all season doomed them from the start, and the execution of 'Bama's line, both on offense and defense, gave Notre Dame no chance of getting back into the game.

While the Irish nation is likely feeling pretty sore this morning, there are lots of reasons to provide optimism for next year:

  • The team will have a seasoned core of players that have "been there, done that."  That experience will be important.
  • Freshman QB Golsen will only get better next season, and will be an even  more dangerous weapon
  • The recruiting class for next year is simply outstanding, and there will likely be players that will be able to contribute right away.
  • We're Notre Dame.  As Lou Holtz says, "We play for the University of the Mother of God!" There's always optimism in that.
Thank you, Irish, for a season of some really great football.  I can't wait for next year.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Holidays in Photos

It has been a crazy couple of weeks, full of work, play, travel, and family.  There's a lot to recap, and the best way to do that is likely through the photos of everything:


Work had a "Holiday Sweater" day, and what could be a better solution than a hockey sweater, especially from my beloved Wild.  Bonus points the the red and green as well.

My admin gave me the nice Vikings stocking that got hung on my door.  Very nice.  Unfortunately, she filled it with coal.  I can't wait for performance review time.  Meanwhile, some other person hung the Packers banner directly outside of my office.  If that isn't a hostile work environment, I don't know what is.

The day of our travel back to Minnesota, my team and I hosted one of our company's customers (and 13 of her family and friends) in our company's sky box at Lambeau as part of a sweepstakes win.  Here are some of the best ecommerce talent in the world getting ready for the game in typical Lambeau tailgate fashion

It wouldn't be a visit to Minnesota without seeing some friends.  And having a beer.  Oh, who am I kidding?  The beer was the only "given" of the deal - the buddies just happened to be there...

We made it down to South Carolina to see my side of the family, and immediately headed to the beach.  While it was a little chilly (nice earmuffs, Mom) it beat the heck out of the snow at home.

My brother-in-law had the great idea for a "polar plunge" into the frigid ocean to kick off the new year.  Here is the "before" shot.

Here's the "after"

My wife often complains of me taking all of the covers.  I finally got smart and captured some photographic evidence of reality.  Yes, that lump under all of the blankets on the left is my wife.

We went for lots of walks and saw a lot of the local critters.  Check this dude out (you'll need to click on the picture to enlarge).  It has the body of a grey squirrel but the face of a skunk.  It is a Southern Fox Squirrel.  Big son of a gun, too.

Here we are fishing on New Year's day.  Not a bad way to ring in the New Year.  

We did a lot of other things - dinners, watching a lot of football, and just hanging out.  My wife and I also took a beautiful drive to Pinehurst to meet my uncle and his wife, although I failed to snap any photos.  Not sure what the hell I was thinking.  Both the country, clubhouse, and course were beautiful.

Overall, it was a great trip and a wonderful way to spend the holidays.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 Vikings Improbable Season Over

The Vikings' season ended last night on the Frozen Tundra as Joe Webb was unable to muster any kind of quarterback play to take pressure off of the running game.  With an offense that was rendered to one dimension, the Packers won in easy fashion.

But what a season it was!  After winning only 3 games in 2011, the Minnesota Vikings leveraged a fantastic draft, a more seasoned quarterback, and a completely astonishing resurgence of their star running back (one that should garner him the NFL MVP), to make the playoffs.  Even the most biased of Vikings fans could not have predicted the improvement this team made this past year.

While there is still work to do, with the advent of another draft, more work by Ponder, restored health to Percy Harvin, and the acquisition of a potent wide receiver (think Ziggy got a good look at Greg Jennings last night?) this team can no longer be considered the worst of the NFC North.  There is a lot for which Vikings fans can be optimistic.

So congratulations, Vikings.  You did us fans proud.  Especially those of us that reside in the belly of the beast.

We did attend the game last night with friends.  While we arrived at Lambeau late, we did get in a quick tailgate.  Here's the lovely Mrs. YDP and our spread, taken just minutes before she got too close to the heater and burned her coat.  

We're already looking forward to next season.  Skol.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Apollo Robbins - World's Greatest Pickpocket

In the past week I've bumped into this guy's story twice, and wanted to share with the readers here.  

I'll let you review his story via a great write up in The New Yorker and via the video below.

The guy is amazing.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Glen Campbell Covers Foo Fighters' Times Like These

One of my top 10 bands of all times are the Foo Fighters.  I think band leader Dave Grohl is a rare musical talent, and he never ceases surprising with his continuing evolution as a musician.  

One of the hallmarks of a great band is 1) the extent that their material get covered and 2) who covers it.

With that as a backdrop, here's Glen Campbell putting a fine country spin on the Foo's Times Like These

Enjoy


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fiscal Cliff and Lack of Leadership

Events over the past two months have shown just one thing: how completely broken our political process is. In all of the "work" conducted, nothing has changed. We still spend way more than we take in. We still lack any long term solutions to stabilize the economy. And our politicians still care for nothing other than their prospects for getting re-elected.

I wish there were easy answers. There are not. The only thing that will fix this mess will be leadership. And in an environment of 24/7 partisan news cycles, we can't be expecting any true leadership anytime soon.

This is an ugly mess that we continue to propagate upon ourselves...

yeldogpat-20