Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Real Beauty in the Bahamas

There is a lot to love about the Bahamas.  The beauty of the locale clearly has God’s handiwork all over it, and I’m not sure how one could take it all in and not be convinced of the existence of a Higher Power.  

But the Bahamas true beauty lies not in her natural resources.  It lies in her citizens.  

The Bahamian people are polite, happy, kind, and a pleasure with which to meet and connect.  The cynic in me would suggest that perhaps their demeanor is because they recognize that a good portion of their economy is based on hospitality.  But I don’t buy it.  The kindness, gentleness, and humorous way (good golly the Bahamian people love a good laugh) the citizens interact with each other and with visitors is something to behold.  

So why are they so kind?  Perhaps this Christian nation is just plain acting like that – being a Christian nation and actually treating each other as we as Christians claim to (despite our efforts otherwise).  

Yes, the pace is slower.  And while that’s a stereotype, I’ll be damned if I claim it to be a negative one.  One conscious thought I had when we were down there – I wonder how many citizens die of heart attacks in the Bahamas.  It can’t be many, as the stress is low, and the happiness high.  What a great combination.  

There’s a phrase back home about folks being “Minnesota Nice;” that Minnesotans are noticeably polite and kind to one another and to strangers.  

Minnesota Nice?  Hogwash.  People who make that claim have never been to the Bahamas.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gophers Are Golden Against #1 Indiana

The 2012-13 version of the Golden Gopher basketball team has been a frustrating one for fans.  The team lacks a leader, and particularly lacks a guard that wants the ball in his hands in the clutch. They can go through stretches where they lack any kind of fire, especially in the offensive zone, and multiple times have been caught guilty of five guys standing around and not moving.  They've turned the ball over way too many times, and in way too many high pressure situations.  

But they're also incredibly talented.  

They're beasts on the boards, especially in the offensive zone where they lead the Big Ten  And they have the weapons, that when they're firing on all cylinders, can allow them to go toe to toe with the best team in the land and beat them.  

And that is exactly what happened last night.  

The Indiana Hoosiers are arguably the best team in the nation.  Their depth, scoring, and three point shooting in particular are awesome, and they've held up very well in a tough Big Ten season.  Unfortunately, they happened to arrive at The Barn on a night when the Maroon and Gold were able to put it all together.  Add a rabid crowd to the mix, and Minnesota was able to beat their first #1 since 1989.  

The Gophers greatly helped their post-season prospects, as their season had begun to free-fall.  In fact, in the last polling, Minnesota received zero votes despite an 18-9 record with the #1 toughest schedule ranking in the NCAAs.  Now with a strong ESPN national win against the legit best team in the nation,  they'll receive some due attention.  

But their job is not over.  They'll need to close hard the rest of the season, and thankfully, their schedule should allow them to run the table: they'll be facing Penn State, Nebraska, and Purdue to finish, and all three teams have losing records.  

Now, that doesn't mean that the Gophers can't find a way to screw it up.  They've recently lost to Iowa in terrible fashion, and have lost to a brutal Northwestern team this season as well.  But if they can play like they did last night, March could be a fun one for Minnesota.  

This kind of fun:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Now the Fun Part Starts

My hunting trip with kin and my vacation are now over.  My New Year's resolution time starts about now.  

While I've made it this far into the year in pretty good shape (better than in most years, and given the recent vacation, I'll take it), I still have a log way to go.  Trust me, all of those disgusted looks shot my way on the beach over the past week can't be wrong.  I know what the score is.

So it is a lot of gym time, a lot less booze, and an eye toward better health.  And the struggle begins again.

How are you doing on your New Year's resolutions?  If you happened to slip, I invite you to join in with me, and let's get through this together. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Last Toast to the Marsh Harbour Crew

We just returned from quite the rejuvenating vacation with friends, and I can’t help but return with a deep sense of humility and gratitude.  

I feel that way as we spent a week well off the beaten path in Marsh Harbour – a place where very few travel.  It is a place currently unspoiled by massive hotels, or chains, or commercialism.  A place, still today in 2013, that is straight out of a Jimmy Buffet song.  The only reason that we vacation down here is because one in our crew has been doing so for years, and knows the secret.  If not for him, we’d likely be on some beach in Jamaica or Mexico or some other place with the rest of the world.  

Instead, we went to paradise, slowed down, and lived life as a vacation should be lived.  

Likewise, another in our party did all of the cooking when we stayed in, and did so in style.  Not only did she cook for six, but was doing so with limited resources around her.  Yet every meal was as good as the first, and rivaled the restaurants we attended.  It was a lot of work, and it was outstanding.  

The bottom line is that not only were Mrs. YDP and I able to get away, but we did so without lifting a finger.  The house, boat, and van were rented without our help, we were chauffeured to and from the airport, the tides (tricky for the uninitiated sailor) were correctly and adequately accounted for, we were sailed to beaches and bars all over Abaco, the meals were all done for us – everything was handled.  All we had to do was show up.  

What loads.

Now, our friends will likely say it wasn't a big deal, but that’s nonsense.  It was a very big deal.  We’re fortunate to be invited to go with them to this incredible place, and more fortunate still that we have to do very little to enjoy it in its entirety.  So to the Marsh Harbour crew – thank you.  You went above and beyond again for us.  We appreciate so much the time we had (even the lost time we had - damn you, Wally), and appreciate so much the laughs, discussions, meals, drinks, adventures, and memory-making with you.  

We hope we’re able to do it again soon.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Last Day Blues

Today marks our last full day of vacation here in the Bahamas.  The weather was not perfect, but given the snowstorms that have plagued back home this past week, they were a hell of a lot better than anything north of the 40th parallel.

Yesterday was downright spectacular.  We spent the day at our favorite island where we hung out, read books, and drank Kalik.  We were also near a wonderful coral reef where we spent a nice time snorkeling and viewing the wildlife.  We got up close to some huge spotted eagle rays and I ran into a nice school of yellowfin tuna.

As for our island, here's of shot of it as we were leaving:

We awoke this morning to a lot of clouds, but things are slowly getting better.  Regardless, it is our last day here, and we'll be sad to leave.  It has been a great trip, and was just what I needed.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dolphin Scares Fish

Our day yesterday was a mixed bag.  Weather was good early and late, but was kind of a bust in the middle.

We headed south to a favorite beach, and had a nice encounter with dolphin and a very scared fish:

Our stay at the beach was a short one as we ended up having to leave due to impending rain.  We hurried over to Hope Town to have lunch and a cocktail.  It is about the most picturesque place down here, and was a great place to kill an afternoon.

We came home for naps and later did a sunset cruise on the ocean to have a last been and but the sun to bed.  Here's the best picture from our run:
We have even better weather on tap for today, so it's another beach, and another bar.  Two days left of vacation.

A Home for Sgt. Dumar

I like Kid Rock.  A lot.  

Now, even more...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bahamas Bingo

After a tough first two days from a weather perspective, we caught a break yesterday and were able to make the run to Great Guana Kay and Nipper's.  We spent the day at the beach and then at the bar, and while the surf was too much for snorkeling, it was a good day.

Then we awoke to today.  No clouds, no wind.  The perfect Bahamian day.  We're planning a run to a favored small island (about an acre in size) followed by lunch in Hope Town.

In the meantime, the wind chill back home is -9. 

This is why we come here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bahamas Bust

In many years of coming down here, we finally ran into the mother of all cold fronts yesterday.  Highs only got into the 60's, and we had sustained winds from the north in the high 20 to low 30 MPH range.  Not good for boating or beaches or anything.

We made the most of the day by loading up on provisions, taking walks, getting in naps, playing some Farkel, drinking tiki-bar drinks, going out to dinner, celebrating a birthday, and watching The Walking Dead.

Actually, for a bust, it turned out to be a really nice day.

Weather is still poor today, but our winds are starting to shift to the south and we'll be looking at highs in the 80's the rest of the week.  We'll acquire a boat for rent tomorrow and will be off and running. 

And regardless of how cold it is here, it still beats the heck out of what folks are experiencing back home.

Social Media Feeds the Narcissistic Beast

In a recent high school hockey game in Minnesota, the goalie from Farmington, getting a rare start on Senior Night, displays his displeasure on how he was treated throughout the season by doing the following:
  • Scoring on his own goal (thus tying the game, which Farmington lost in OT)
  • Flipping off his coaches
  • Skating off the ice and quitting
See video below for the event:

The goalie gave a heads up to some of his friends on his intentions so that it could be filmed and shared.

I get that kids are stupid and do stupid things.  But it seems that social media magnifies stupidity, and gives those that feel self-important more fuel to feed their narcissistic fire.  And that's because they're rewarded.

Be it the positive comments this goalie received in the comments section of YouTube, or an entire legion of people socially cheering on mass-murderer Christopher Dorner, social media justifies the bad behavior of the self important.  Regardless of how repugnant one's actions, there will always be some out there in social media land to cheer them on.

My prediction is that we've only seen just the very beginnings of what ultimately will have a very significant impact on our society.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Trials of Travel

Travel can be restorative, broadening, and a blessing.  Unfortunately, the process itself can itself be so stressful as to make one wonder if the benefits outweigh the costs.  That certainly was the case for me yesterday.

The day actually started out as the night before, where I wanted to leave the office between 3 and 4 so that we could leisurely make our way to Milwaukee where we'd stay ahead of our 6:00 AM flight.  Unfortunately, my work day exploded, and I ended up arriving home at 7:00.  Regardless, we made it to Milwaukee by 9:30 and our accommodations were serviceable.

We awoke at 3:30 AM to make a 4:00 shuttle, but arrived five minutes late and missed it.  Stress.  After ten minutes of waiting for the shuttle to return, I made the decision to grab the car and drive ourselves to the airport.  Stress.  By the time I got back to the lobby, lo and behold, there was the shuttle.  Stress.  Back to the packing spot and a dash back to the shuttle.

We arrived at the airport about 4:30 and found the check in area swamped with people.  Stress.  Fortunately, we'd been upgraded to first class, and there was an empty priority line.  Finally, a break.

We flew into Atlanta for our transfer to Nassau, and it was a tight layover of 40 minutes.  Stress.  In all of the documents received from Delta, they warned that we'd be flying out of the International Terminal.  Here's a screen shot of an example:

The International Terminal is at the end of the train line - Gate F - and we arrived at Gate A; as far away as possible.  Stress.  Hence we hustled hard, and made it go where we thought we needed to go.  Immediately, though, it appeared obvious we were not where we needed to be.  After a quick question from a helpful attendant, we found we were not leaving from the International Terminal at all, and needed to be back at Gate B.  Stress.

We ran, but were able to board on time as boarding was late.  Ah, another break. 

We flew into Nassau through a pretty bad rainstorm, but arrived in good shape.  We got through customs without issue, and started our 5 hour layover.  Unfortunately, we landed in the international terminal, and there was a whole separate terminal for our domestic flight to Marsh Harbour.  Hey, wait.  Wasn't our return layover really tight in Nassau?  How could we make it in time, especially trying to juggle between two terminals.  We'd never make it.  Stress.

Fortunately we found a nice little bar with cold Kalik Light and uneven but serviceable internet and were able to confirm our return offered us plenty of time.  Between the tasty beer, our first meal of the day (a hamburger from Wendy's) and the reassurance of our verified travel plans, I finally started to relax.

The layover lasted forever, but I actually caught a small nap and the people watching was fantastic.  A vast majority of the people of the domestic flights were Bahamians travelling from island to island, and given the lay of the country, I thought it pretty unique to anyplace else in the world. 

We boarded our turboprop right on time and made it to Marsh Harbour without issue.  Unfortunately, our friends who were supposed to pick us up were nowhere to be found.  After 15 minutes, still no friends  Stress.  Leaving the travel planning to Mrs. YDP as I had no time for it myself with work, I asked where we were staying.  She wasn't sure.  How about where the car rental place was?  More unknowns.  Did our friends even make it to the island?  If they didn't, what then?  Here we were at a darkening and quickly becoming abandoned airport with no idea of where to go or what to do.  Stress.

At this point I made the internal decision that this would be our last trip to the Bahamas.  Getting here was just too hard.  Vacation is supposed to be fun.  We had been travelling for nearly 15 hours and were physically and mentally shot.  Frankly, this sucked.

But then a rental minivan appeared in the distance, and upon its arrival exploded to reveal friends sporting wide smiles and more cold Kalik Light.  Finally, everything would be OK.

We spent the evening at Snappa's, where we drank copious rounds of Mind Snappas and had a fantastic meal of fresh mahi-mahi.  We retired to our rental home where we closed the day on the deck with more cold beer and BS stories.

I feel into bed at 9 completely exhausted, and awoke at 7:30.  It was the most amount of consecutive hours of sleep I've had in I don't know how long.  After a leisurly breakfast of lobster omlette (yes, there is such a thing), the first Kalik Light of the day, and the following beauty, it's clear I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

Stressless.  Completely.  Finally.

We'll be back, Marsh Harbour.  Count on it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is Vacation Worth It?

Mrs. YDP and I are now in the Bahamas for a week-long vacation.  It is a beautiful spot, and I hope it rejuvenates and restores me, as getting to the point where I could be out of the office for a full week damn near killed me.

At work, we're in the middle of our biggest project since I joined the company.  And it's an incremental project, which means that no only do to the team and I need to get this massive project complete over the next six months, but we need to do so while doing our full jobs that we were doing previously.  Ten pounds of meat, meet a five pound bag.

Thus, for the last three weeks I've been moving at a dead sprint to try to get to a point where I could leave for a week in good conscience.  I haven't had a day off in that period, and have racked up 70 and 80 hour work weeks.  I've been a lousy husband and friend.  But I got a lot of work done, and I feel I can go on vacation.

Oh, I'll still need to work while I'm there, which will be made more difficult by the juggle of international communications.  But I shouldn't need to work the entire time.  

I want to go on vacation.  I want to spend time with my wife and my friends.  Frankly, I deserve it.  My wife certainly deserves to have her husband back.  So to the islands we go.

But I can't help but think at what cost all of this came.  Was it worth it?  

And the fact that I just typed that last question is very concerning to me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My First Reverse Mentor

Through my career, I've had a number of people that I'd call mentors, even though the relationships we had were not necessarily defined strictly as such.  I have been fortunate to learn from some very smart, successful, and learned people, and it has definitely played a role in my development and my success.

I'm at the point in my career where I'm now mentoring junior people myself, and it is neat for me to see how things have gone full circle.  

Unfortunately, even at my level in my industry and my organization, I still have a lot to learn.  Especially with a career in Ecommerce.  While I'd like to think that I'm on top of things in my space, that's clearly not the case.  It moves too quick, and I get too mired in realms outside of my space to be as up to speed as I want to be.  Hence, for me to be the leader that I want to be and that our company needs, I need to work harder.  In this instance, I think one way to address it means seeking the help of a reverse mentor.

The whole concept of a reverse mentor is best explained in this recent Wall Street Journal. article.

I'm fortunate to know someone that will be a perfect reverse mentor.  He knows more about the frontiers of my space than I can keep up with while still doing my job.  He has a brilliant career ahead of him, and lucky to have him agree to take me on as a mentee.  

I look forward to kicking off this new relationship and getting back to actively learning from a mentor.  Even at this stage in my career.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Christopher Dorner Case: A Gun Confiscation Dress Rehearsal?

As the gun debate rages, there is still a small but loud minority calling for outright bans and/or confiscation as they believe it is the only way to make our society safe.  Regardless of what one thinks of this proposal, in light of the Second Amendment or otherwise, you'd think that recent events would underscore the folly of such a proposal.  Because, in the end, it's simple math.  

Consider the following (and I'm using conservative numbers here): 150 million gun owners in the US, of which 1% will never disarm without at fight.  That leaves 1,500,000 that will not obey the law.  Assume 1% of them as highly trained (e.g. former or active military, former or active police, etc.) and that leaves 15,000 Christopher Dorner types out there, gunning for the authorities.  

When you consider it took a sizable amount of southern California law enforcement to bring just one motivated man to justice, what would the scenario look like if that number increased by 14,999?  

Confiscation fantasies are just that -  fantasies.  If there is going to be a debate on guns in this country, let's keep the debate in the realms of reality.  For as Christopher Dorner just displayed, a motivated, well armed, and well trained man is going to wreak substantial mayhem before he's ultimately disarmed. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

B-52? No, KC-135

Around Green Bay it is very common to see a massive military jet circling the city every couple of weeks or so.  Given the size of the plane, I always operated under the assumption that it was a B-52.  It was big.  It was active military.  It had to be a B-52.

Hence, on a recent trip to the airport, I noticed the plane I had seen previously around town was now performing "touch and go" maneuvers at Green Bay's airport.  Ah, finally the reason why I had seen these things orbiting so often!

I got out of my vehicle and shot the following video:

But where did it come from?  There is no military group stationed at GRB.  I hit the web and found that this was part of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, stationed out of Milwaukee, and that what I thought was a B-52 was a KC-135.

I should have known better.  The number of engines should have been a dead give-away alone.

While the KC-135 is a massive plane, it is still dwarfed by the B-52.  See below:

Regardless, it was still fun to see such a big plane - one of America's finest - blasting off right over my head.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A 23 Year Game of Tag

A couple of weeks ago The Wall Street Journal. had an article about a group of high school friends that had kept up a simple game of tag into their adult lives.

For 23 years.

What an incredible way to stay connected.  

In our high tech, social marketing, electronic engagement world - a world where our connections are as shallow as they are superfluous - a common child's game becomes the conduit to maintain connection.

It makes me miss my own high school buddies.

I encourage you to read the article

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to Start a Career in Ecommerce: Part 3, Web Analytics

So, taking what you learned in the previous chapter you've developed your site - likely a blog - and have started leveraging SEO best practices to attempt to drive traffic to it.  But how will you know if you're successful?  That's where web analytics come in.

According to Wikipedia, "web analytics are the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage."  Or, put more simply, web analytics provide you deep insight on the people that come to your site.  With it, you can see:

  • Where they live
  • The type and details of the technology they used to view your site
  • How they got to your site, and if they came via a search engine, the keyword string they used
  • What they did on your site
  • Where they exited the site
One would think that to obtain all of that detail would take a ton of work, but yet again the free tools of the web make things easy as pie.  Simply go to Google Analytics, follow the simple steps to add tracking to your site, and you're off and running.  

Beyond that, Google has an entire suite of training that can get you a level of expertise in web analytics to rival most already employed in Ecommerce in the business world.  

The tool, the training, and the knowledge and experienced gained are all free.  All it takes to be successful is the desire to learn and some elbow grease.  

Good luck - next step will be email marketing.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Benghazi Apathy

I'm not sure what is more meaningful - the testimony made in this grilling, or the the fact that nobody cares about it.  

What in the world happened to our media?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Basketball Baby Video

Something tells me we've not seen the last of young Titus here...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shinedown, Three Days Grace, and P.O.D. Concert Review for Green Bay

Green Bay rock fans were treated to a fantastic triple bill of rock last night, as P.O.D, Three Days Grace, and Shinedown rocked the Resch Center.  Unfortunately, for a nice bill, Green Bay failed to show their support.  The Resch Center was maybe at 50% capacity.  That's likely why our town gets bypassed for so many tours, and it is a real shame.

However, for those that came out, they were treated to a great night of music:


Unfortunately, the band was beset by some really bad mixing, as the drums in general, and the bass drum in particular, were way too amplified.  It washed out the sound of the rest of the band, and while it felt cool to have the drum physically shake through your body, it was way too much.  Despite that, lead singer Sonny Sandoval worked his butt off to get the crowd warmed up.  He climbed onto the railing in front of the stage to sing "Is that all you got?  I'll take your best shot" on "Boom" - the second song of the set.  The crowd did warm, but it took a lot of hard work from Sandoval.  Other highlights from their set were a very nice "Higher," an equally nice "Southdown," and a great sing along moment with "Alive"

Three Days Grace

Rockers Three Days Grace kicked off the middle of the show with a flash, as flame canisters got everyone's attention.  One could actually feel the heat from them when they were deployed.  New singer Matt Walst did a great job covering front man Adam Gontier as the latter recently retired from the band.  The guys didn't appear to miss a step, and Walst was impressive.

Also impressive was the guitar work of Barry Stock, who made lots of equipment changes, but played all of them extremely well.  Overall the band was tight, appeared to be having fun, and put on a great show.

Highlights include a great sing along with "Just Like You," an in-your-face "Chalk Outline," more audience participation with "Pain," the requisite "I Hate Everything About You," and a rocking closer of "Riot."  

Great show by a very strong band.  Well done.


The band executed the surprise of the night, as their set kicked off with drummer Barry Kerch taking the stage and starting to play.  Unbeknownst to the crowd on the floor, the rest of the band had made their way to the sound area and began "Enemies" from there.  It took about 45 seconds for the crowd on the floor to figure out where the band was - as you can see from my picture, even folks standing right there had no idea that the band was right on top of them.

Lead singer Brent Smith was a great front man, and was well complimented on vocals with Zach Meyers on guitar and an occuponymous Eric Bass on bass.  The band was nice and tight, and gave a very strong performance.  Kudos to Kerch on the drum work which was outstanding through the performance.  

Highlights included "Unity," "If You Only Knew," and a rocking "Bully" to close the night.

Overall, it was great night of rock in Green Bay.  It is too bad there weren't more people out there to enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

North Dakota Oil Fields As Seen from Space

Robert Krulwich has a fascinating blog post on massive amount of oil work currently going on in North Dakota.  So much, in fact, that it is clearly visible from outer space.

It very much is becoming the "Kuwait of the prairie..."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Open Letter to Those Taking Joy in Chris Kyle's Death

This man is Chris Kyle.  He was the most lethal sniper in US military history, with 160 confirmed enemy kills to his credit.  He was so deadly that Iraqi insurgents knew of him, and even named him - The Devil of Ramadi.  He was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

After his return from the war, Kyle started a non-profit to help returning vets assimilate back into civilian life.  In that capacity he took a troubled PTSD vet to a shooting range.  That vet turned the gun on Chris and ended his life.

A story of the killing can be found here.  

Immediately portions of the blogosphere and left-leaning sites erupted with outright glee at this murder.  Posters over at Huffington Post had a field day tying this murder to the gun debate, and trying to out-droll each other.  I won't link to their pages because they're repugnant.  If you wish to see that garbage for yourself, go look, but I'll recap some of the main memes:
  • He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword
  • What irony
  • This is karma
I'd like to respond to each of these.
  • Indeed, those that live by the sword do die by the sword.  And those that live by their blind ideology to the point of celebrating a hero's death to make political point and garner comment room "cred" are pigs.
  • Ironic.  Want to know what is ironic?  Ironic is typing in "LOL" and "#irony" in your Twitter feed, safe in the comfort of the 1st Amendment, about a murdered soldier - a man who was sworn to uphold and protect the constitution.  That is freaking irony, pal.
  • If there is a concept of payback delivered by the universe, one can only hope that it has very special plans for those that laugh at and ridicule a dead hero.  That'd be a cold dish of karma I'd really like to see delivered.
A closing thought: If you're using the horrible murder of a hero to entertain your friends and move your political agenda forward, maybe, just maybe you're on the wrong side.  

We used to respect and honor our fallen soldiers.  Cheering and laughing about their death simply clarifies how absolutely polluted people have become. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 Super Bowl Commercials - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Last night's Super Bowl was an entertaining match, both on the field and in the competitive landscape of advertising.  At nearly $4MM per 30 second spot, the stakes were high.  Here's my recap of who spent that money well, and who didn't:

The Good
Hyundai - Passing: Hyundai spent a ton this Super Bowl, and while their ads were just OK, this one in particular was both entertaining as well as strong on the feature of the product being advertised.  Nice work.

Time Warner Cable - Walking Dead: Likely a regional buy, TWC knocks it out of the park.  The commercial features a popular character from the series, and fans of The Walking Dead had to love it.  Very well done.

Skechers - Man vs. Cheetah: Animals are always a good attention-getter in commercials, and the FX in this ad are done very well.  Entertaining, and on brand.

Volkswagen - Get Happy:  I think this was the best ad of the whole Super Bowl.  Completely aligned with the brand, VW gets their message across wonderfully.  But since I've already discussed this previously...

Audi - Prom: It takes a while to build to the literal punch line, but when it gets there it is totally on brand.  Not a universal ad, but Audi is not a universal brand.  For their target market, this ad will resonate.  Outstanding.

The Bad
M&Ms - Anything for Love: The women eating the M&M just makes it kind of creepy.  This is the best they could do?  Poor execution, and not going to sell any incremental candy.

Blackberry - Zed Ten: My job requires me to be up to speed on the latest technology, and even I didn't get this commercial.  Not at all.  I don't understand who their target market was, nor do I understand their message.  $4MM right down the toilet.

Beck's Sapphire - Fish: Evidently, "black" beer is all the rage right now as Bud launched their offering via a Super Bowl ad as well.  Makes me think about such moves as "dry" and "clear" beer.  Ah, the memories.  Alas, I have no idea what the heck the fish is doing, or what it is supposed to represent.  

Coke - Desert Race: The folks at Coke are usually advertising geniuses.  However, this year's campaign was horrible.  Off brand, not entertaining, and a totally forced social media attempt align to make this 2013's most ineffective campaign ever.

The Ugly
Taco Bell - Old Peoples' Night Out: I didn't find this cute, or funny, or on brand.  It was kind of creepy, and I still miss the point.  This is going to sell more fast food?  I don't think so

Go Daddy - Nerd Kiss: I don't want to see any close ups of open mouth kissing, regardless of who is doing it.  I get that this probably is a home run for their target market, and I appreciate that they've finally graduated from using faux lesbian scenes after relying on them for nearly a decade, but this ad was just really too much.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cris Carter - Best Offensive Player Ever for Vikings?

It was a great day to be a Vikings fan yesterday as Adrian Peterson won the league MVP and Cris Carter was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Both were richly deserved for these incredible players.

While I do not want to overlook AP's stunning season - coming back better than ever from what could have been a career ending injury to fall a couple yards short of the NFL single-season rushing record - I really want to focus on Carter.  His unjustified six-year wait to get to the HOF demands it.

Consider the following records:
  • All time NFL receptions - 4th overall
  • Receiving TDs - 4th overall
  • Total TDs - 8th overall
  • Career receiving yards - 9th overall
  • Most TDs of 7 yards or less (as well as most TDs for 6, 5, 4, 2, and 1 yard), thus proving his incredible value in the red zone.
And he did all of this with the following QB crew over a 12 year career:
  • Wade Wilson
  • Rich Gannon
  • Sean Salisberry
  • Jim McMahon
  • Warren Moon
  • Brad Johnson
  • Randall Cunningham
  • Daunte Culpepper
  • Spergon Wynn
Of these guys, only Moon, who played with the Vikings at the end of his storied career, was of HOF talent.  Hence, it was Carter, not the guy throwing the ball to him, that is responsible for those gaudy career numbers. 

So what does that make him?  For my money, he's the best offensive player the Vikings ever had.  I know great cases can be made for Tarkenton and Peterson, but Tarkington had a much better cast of characters around him (especially the defense), and Peterson is not finished and may very well be one of the best running backs to play the game.  But if there is one guy that I could go back and watch play in his prime, it would be CC.

There are two things I'll always remember about Carter.  The first is how unstoppable he was in the red zone.  He could either make an acrobatic catch on the fade, out-jump the defender in the back of the end zone, or burn the cornerback on an up-and-out after going in motion.  One never knew what he was going to do, only that he'll likely find a way to create separation and  make a spectacular catch.

The second thing that struck me was his humility.  I remember having dinner at a chain steak house that my Dad had recently brought public (Minnesota Steakhouse, later named Timber Lodge Steakhouse) in Eden Prairie and getting seated next to a table where Cris Carter was having dinner with his wife.  This was at the height of Cater's career, and yet here he sat in the middle of a "B" list restaurant, not tucked into some private corner, eating and acting like any other patron.  And while people clearly recognized him, nobody bothered him because he and his wife acted just like anyone else.  It ran counter to nearly every pro-athlete encounter I've had before or since.

I'll close with a video recap of some of his amazing career:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Volkswagen's Racist Super Bowl Ad

The hottest thing on the web right now is a small but vocal minority of people that are claiming that the following ad from Volkswagen, slated for a Super Bowl appearance, is racist:

A couple of thoughts:

  • Racist?  Ummm.  White people are shown as unhappy and a guy that talks with a Jamaican accent is happy.  It might be racist after all.  Against white people.
  • I LOVE the Minnesota part!  "Da Gopha state!"
  • If one takes a look at the comments on YouTube, you'd find that not only do Jamaicans not object to the ad, that they actually enjoy and are proud of it.    
The bottom line is that every legitimate "racist" claim gets done a disservice with over-sensitive claims like this.  Are we really that uptight that we can't enjoy our differences?  I thought we were supposed to celebrate diversity.  Maybe that only applies to non-white people.

I think the uproar proves that Volkswagen was right all along: maybe we should all take our overly uptight butts out for a ride in a fine German engineered vehicle and "turn da frown de utha way aroun."

Ya mon.