Monday, June 30, 2014 - Usability Testing, and Great Way to Make a Few Bucks

There's a service on the web called which provides usability testing for businesses and other entities at a very affordable rate.  Say you're a business looking to make changes to your website, but how exactly will you know what your visitors might think?  Making a mistake in front of tens of thousands of daily visitors can cost a business dearly.

Fortunately, by tapping this user testing service, these entities can float new sites and designs in front of real users, in pretty much real time, and get back instantaneous feedback.  

Here's a dated, but accurate, reflection of their service:

As one that does web marketing, I'm definitely a consumer of their services.  And I'm also a tester.

Thus far, I've conducted about 16 tests in the past month or so, and have earned $200 in hard, cold cash.  Beyond the financial considerations, it has been a lot of fun to see what brands are considering as their next iterations of their web businesses.  It gets my juices flowing not only from a usability perspective, but also from a strategic one as well.

Signing up to be a tester is easy and free.  Simply head to the website, and go through the process.  The only thing you'll need to be sure that you have are microphone capabilities and a PayPal account. is a great service; both for their clients and their testers.  I highly endorse them for both.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Walmart's Reply to the New York Times

Recently, the New York Times wrote a snarky editorial which was highly critical of Wal-Mart.  The retail giant is an easy target - it has been highly aggressive in its growth, predatory in its pricing, ruthless with its competition, and masterful in its logistics.  They have changed the retail landscape unlike any other company in history, save Amazon.  They're big, and they're easy to hate.

Unless, of course, you want to save some money.  In which case people love Wal-Mart.  Oh, they may not like the brand, per se, but they do indeed like the savings.

Hence, when the Old Grey Lady went after the Arkansas-based retailer, one expected society to "harrumph" along with the paper.  They know best, right?

Well, maybe not to the editing team at Wal-Mart, which passed along some suggestions (click for a full image):

I'm no fan of Wal-Mart.  As a competitor, they're a beast.  But I'm less of a fan of pompous, rich, white, old media, especially when they're looking down their noses at the rest of the world.  

Go try bullying someone else, New York Times.  You just got your ass kicked. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Brand Loyalty: Ford

I've noticed that there are a few brands with whom I do business to the exclusion of all other brands.  This exclusive engagement is a marketer's panacea. and as a marketer myself, I wanted to do a deeper examination of why I held these loyalties to see what could potentially gleaned from them.  Hence, brand loyalty will be the subject of this and future posts. 

We'll start with my automotive loyalty - Ford.  Since 1990, every vehicle I've ever purchased, be it for myself or for my wife, has been a Ford product.  Their are myriad reasons for this behavior:

  • I began my career with Ford, and worked there about 5 years.  Having access to their employee discount plan (called the "A" Plan at the time) made it affordable for even one just out of college to afford a lower-tier new vehicle
  • Since that time, I've owned 10 Fords, and of the 10, only one had significant issues; for this case, it was a transmission issue.  And even though a service issue occurred, Ford covered it and made good on my situation with a generous warranty.  All other of my vehicles have remained issue-free
  • In fact, my vehicles have lasted an incredibly long time.  My Mercury Mountaineer lasted nearly 200,000 miles of very hard driving, and my current Explorer is nearly at 100,000 with nary a hiccup
  • Ford has been on the forefront of technology.  One example: Ford's partnership with Microsoft on the Sync product was among the start of hands-free engagements for vehicles.  It integrates seamlessly with mobile devices via bluetooth technology, and makes things incredibly convenient for the driver.  I can't imaging driving any significant distance without it.
  • Ford is an American company.  Yeah, I know that's a dated reason for customer loyalty, and while I know it shouldn't, it still matters to me.
Good products, good service, and good experience leads to happy customers.  Happy customers lead to additional business.  Additional business leads to brand loyalty.

That's exactly why you'll always find me driving a Ford.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thoughts from the Shelf

A week before my 10k, I blew out my calf.  Since that time, I've tried to stay off my leg and recover.  I've done a number of light work outs, done a couple of very short runs, and have found that the leg isn't getting much better.  I've watched my weight creep up, and my cardio evaporate over a two week period.

I've become a lot more attentive to stretching, and am trying to listen to my body as much as possible.  But I struggle with the following:

  • I worked my butt off (damn near literally) to get here.  Now it feels like I'm just sitting on said butt watching it all evaporate
  • Summer finally came to Wisconsin, and instead of being out there enjoying a run, I'm looking at others doing it instead.  And it makes me jealous, angry, and envious.
  • I now worry about my body.  Before this point, I never gave injury a thought.  Now it is all I can think about, even when I'm doing light work.  
  • A month ago I felt half my age.  Now I feel half again my age
I'm trying to go slow, but damn it is hard.  And now that the days are already starting to get shorter, it feels like time is slipping away.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

No Fly List Unconstitutional

A Federal district court in Oregon ruled the no-fly list incorporated after 9-11 to deny access to flights to nefarious characters as unconstitutional.  You can read their ruling here.

A couple of thoughts here:

  • Where in the constitution is the right of travel by the convenience of flight listed as a right?
  • How can the court issue this ruling, yet not address true issues of unconstitutionality like illegal search (Hi, NSA!) and IRS abuse?
Obama's liberal America is changing the country before our very eyes, and nobody seems to care.  We now have a proactive government that seems solely driven on the following: those that hate our citizenry are protected, and those that protect our citizenry are hated.  

What is happening to us?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Trey Gowdy Takes on the IRS

Here is the primary evidence that Trey Gowdy is a rising star in Republican ranks:

And on the other side of the aisle, you have Democrats defending the IRS.

Think about that for a minute: The IRS is accused of purposefully going after individual citizens.  Common people.  And the Democrats are defending not the lowly and powerless citizens, but the ruthless IRS.  The IRS that assumes you're guilty until you're able to prove otherwise.  The IRS that can take your money, destroy your credit, and ruin your life, even when they're flat wrong.

The Democrats are defending the IRS.  Remember that come this November.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Paul Ryan Blasts the IRS

Why isn't the media doing this?  Ryan and fellow Republicans are the only ones questioning these lines of BS, spewed forth by this smug, sanctimonious jerk.

Get a good look, YDP readers: This is how the IRS views citizens, undiluted. and on display in all of its naked glory.  Hostile.  Vengeful.  Ruthless.  And unapologetic.

And the biggest joke of all?  We pay their salaries!  We pay them for ruining citizens' lives.

We live in astonishing times. indeed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Yo! The App that, Well, Sends a "Yo!"

There's a new app out there for mobile phones that will send a friend of a loved one a message for you via push notification.  The message is not configurable; it is a simple push of one word - "Yo."

Simple?  They don't get more simple.  So how is it that developers of this simple app just got rewarded with $1,000,000 of private equity funding?

Either there is a long development pipeline of potential augmentation of this technology, or somebody really likes saying "yo." 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Song Share: The Sonics - Have Love, Will Travel

Despite it being released in 1965, I had never heard this song before.  When I first heard it, I thought, "Who are these guys that sound like the Black Keys?"  This sound is nearly exactly like some of the things that are being produced today.  While there may not have been a big market for this is the '60's, let's hope these guys get their due.

With a song and a sound like this, they've earned it:

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Yellow Dog Meets Phil Robertson

One of the best parts about working in retail is the merchandise, and fortunately for me, one piece of merchandise we're carrying is camo.

I love camo.  Just ask my wife.

Our head of apparel also knows my appreciation for camo, as well as my penchant for duck hunting, hence, as he was cleaning his office he gave me a display that he thought I'd appreciate.  And appreciate it I did!

Unfortunately, the Yellow Dog didn't appreciate it.  Not at all...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Latest Video from OK Go

What these guys do with their music videos is incredible:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What's Behind the Quest to Legalize Pot?

Now that gay marriage is out of the way, the left is making the pivot to a legalization of marijuana as the next cause celebre they intend to push.  And massive inroads are being made: multiple states are putting forth "medical marijuana" initiatives, and Colorado in particular is looking to "Amsterdam" their whole state.

I don't want to argue the medical benefits of marijuana - I know there are some folks that can be helped by it, and I'm in full support of that use.  I also don't want to get into the stale arguments of the virtues of pot over alcohol.  Those arguments are all over the web, and the debate is tired.  

Instead, I want to understand why there is this push.  Why, of all the things politicians could focus on, why this?

I've had and have friends that smoke a lot of dope.  Still - into their 50's.  And based on that unscientific observation, here's what I've found:

  • They never achieved the promise of their intellectual gifts.  They were slowly robbed of their wit, humor, acuity,  and ultimately their ceiling of possible success
  • Instead, they became duller, less motivated, and in some instances, paranoid
  • And don't tell me marijuana isn't addictive.  It sure as hell is
Twenty years ago government kicked the living crap out of "big tobacco" due to health implications.  But now marijuana is OK?  What about the recent studies on the health risks associated with pot smoking?  What's really at play here?

Could it be that there are those in the government that don't want a voting populace firing on all cylinders?  That they're better served by constituents that have lost their ability to care too much?  That by providing distractions like pot, that folks won't notice or care about things like war, or the economy, or having a job, or the national debt, etc. etc.?

Maybe I'm the paranoid one. but I don't get this.  Not at all.    

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Hard is Turkey Hunting?

Two months ago I couldn't get a big Tom to come into the call.  He was as scared and as wary as they come.

So imagine my surprise in driving home from the golf course last Sunday night and running into this guy, right on the #3 tee:

It's this kind of stuff that just makes you scratch your head...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Atheists Great, Until Your Kid Wants to Marry One

Society is changing its perspective on atheists.  What used to be a stigma is now considered a learned and enlightened position.

Unfortunately, all of that flies out the window once one of them wants to marry your kid.

A recent Pew survey shows just what folks think about adding an atheist as the parent of your grandchildren:

But the really funny point?  For those of a 'consistently liberal' political persuasion, they'd be more unhappy if a family member married a born again Christian rather than marrying an atheist.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lois Lerner Emails Gone? Bull!

Facing a Congressional investigation, the IRS is claiming that they can't turn over emails from accused executive Lois Learner because the hard drive on her PC crashed.  Two years of emails, just gone.  Pesky things, those hard drives.

This is, of course, a bald faced lie.  This is the bleeping government for Pete's sake.  They keep and maintain everything.  There are layers and layers of back up and records.  

The Blaze has a great article on how this all works, and how those at the IRS are lying.

We've now reached the point where those in the government feel that they can act with total immunity.  They feel their actions. illegal or not, are justified as long as they match their appointed political goals and mindsets.  Hence, the law doesn't matter; at least not to them.

So now we live in an age were massive portions of sweeping healthcare law are summarily ignored, where illegal aliens flood our southern border with zero ramifications, and where the IRS attempts some stupid Jedi mind-trick to fool a mindless populace.

The day where the government has nothing to fear from its constituents is exactly the day that they should fear their constituents the most.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Song Share - Real Estate, Crime

Here's a fairly entertaining music video from Real Estate.  Their airy music is on heavy rotation with me, this is the latest single of their most recent release.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bars Versus Grocery Stores? Wisconsin Wants Bars

There was an interesting analysis conducted recently which lines up the amount of bars in a given community relative to the amount of grocery stores.  The results are pretty interesting:

There is no doubt about it - Wisconsin loves its bars.  Even way more than they love their groceries.  

Must be that whole "pork chop in a can" deal

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Upcoming Green Bay Area Concerts

After a significant dry spell, YDP will finally be back into the concert scene, as there are multiple shows coming up in the Green Bay area.  Here's what's on the docket this summer:

  • 6/21 - Johnny Lang is playing a free concert in Egg Harbor.  The last time I saw him play, he was just a kid (and used that as a handle).  He's obviously matured a lot since then, both physically and musically.  It will be fun to see how far he's come
  • 7/8 - Bruce Cockburn is playing the Door County Community Auditorium.  This is the first concert ever where I have a truly front row seat, with with a virtuoso guitarist like Cockburn, it should be a hell of a seat.
  • 7/12 - Cheap Trick is playing the Greenville Lions concert.  I've never seen them play (a miss on my part), and I'm looking forward to crossing that off of my list
  • 7/17 - Susan Enan is playing a local house concert.  This will be my first ever house concert, and I can't wait to see what it is like.  She seems like a perfect artist for this type of venue.
  • 9/21 - The Head and the Heart are playing the Meyer Theater.  Green Bay is typically too far off the beaten path for artists like these guys, and we're lucky to land them.  Hopefully the town will come out and support them.
Not a bad list for the summer!  Expect reviews and set list upon completion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How Will Obama Govern in His Final Two Years?

With the impending midterm elections poised to be a sound repudiation of his administration, President Obama will have a tough future.  He'll be faced with a buttressed and more hostile House, and will likely also lose the Senate, thus giving Republicans congressional control.  But as he's shown in many, many past actions, Obama won't work through congress when he has something that he wants to get done (e.g. multiple changes to the Obamacare law, failing to inform congress on the Bergdahl swap for the Taliban Five, and now failing to enforce immigration laws on our southern borders, among others).

Given this, there are a couple of possible paths forward:

  • Obama becomes more overtly antagonistic, moving forward with his desires to abandon Afghanistan, open our borders, legalize pot, get to single payer, and to close Gitmo.   He acts independent of congress, and eventually sparks a power crisis as the Republicans feel that they finally have the numbers to put a stop to Obama's nation-changing.  Given his stated desires, and his current failed legacy, I believe this is the path he'll take
  • Obama will become what he's already rumored to be - bored with the presidency.  He'll play more golf (is that even possible?), appear on more TV shows, take more vacations, and travel to more countries.  Which is all fine and good, unless and until...
  • The world judges Obama for what he is - an global weakling with no nationalistic pride (in fact, just the opposite - he holds nationalistic shame), and one disinclined to apply America's might.  Myriad global threats continue to move against our interests, and are summarily discounted or flatly ignored by the President and his sycophantic media lap dogs .  And the world changes.  Appreciably.
Obama has two and a half years left.  A whole lot can happen in that time, even if the Republicans do take the congress.  What our media and citizenry allow him to get away with will ultimately determine how much damage will be done.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Running Injury

Last Friday, I was out for a morning run; looking to do about 5 miles to keep my cardio up ahead of the Bellin 10k this weekend.

Then, it happened.  Two miles into my run and feeling good, I felt a sudden, sharp shot in my right calf.  It felt like somebody shot me, or a really bad bee sting.  I immediately pulled up and started walking, albeit with a discernible limp.

I started walking back home, wondering what the hell just happened.  About half way home the leg felt better, so I decided to try a little running.

The result was instantaneous, horrible pain.

I was able to get into the doctor the same day, and he described it as a "classic muscle pull, with likely muscle tearing."

I have been running for seven months, and have be so, so careful to avoid injury.  Yet here we are, just a week away from my goal of my first 10k, and I'm injured.  The doctor says that typically these injuries will last 4-6 weeks, and the only way to heal them is to stay off the leg.  He also prescribed ice, elevation, stretching, physical therapy, and some heavy duty anti-inflammatory drugs.   

I have my first PT session today.  I'm also taking glutamine in attempts to make a Adrian Peterson like come-back and heal in a week.  In the meantime, all of that great cardio I built up is going to waste, as I cannot use my leg.  

I have worked so hard to get here, and it seems so unfair to be dealing with this right now.  

I'm going to try to run on Saturday.  But given the state of my calf and my cardio, it might be a mess.  Still, I have to try.  I couldn't live with myself if I didn't.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday Song Share - Lana Del Rey, West Coast

I'm introducing a feature to Yellow Dog Patrol.  Dubbed "Saturday Song Share," I'll be highlighting some music that currently has my attention.  It might be old, new, Indy, blues, whatever, but I promise it will always be great music.

We start with the lead single from Lana Del Rey's much anticipated Ultarviolence.  

I believe there is no other artist out there right now that is doing what Del Rey is doing.  Her style is uniquely her own, and while it has been fairly consistent across all of her releases, it is not getting old.  She has a haunting voice, and haunting persona, and is already one of my all-time favorite artists.

Her new album is out on 6/17/14, and I can't wait.  Until then, here's West Coast

Friday, June 6, 2014

From Mom-Jeans to Mom-Dumbbells

Somewhere, Vladimir Putin is watching this and is peeing his pants.

Check that - Putin is probably having someone pee their pants for him:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Media's New To-Do List Since the Bergdahl Scandal

With the latest Obama scandal - perhaps the largest, and that's saying a lot because he's already put through some whoppers - the media now has a new set of tasks:

  1. Understand if the administration knew Bergdahl's background around his AWOL episode or not.  If they did, it their actions should be treasonous.  If they did not, their actions are impeachable due to incompetence
  2. Understand who knew what when.  We specifically need to know what Hillary Clinton knew, and what Joe Biden knew
  3. Understand who ordered Bergdahl's unit to be silent, and to sign non-disclosure agreements.  Where, exactly, did this order originate?
  4. Understand why Bergdahl's reason for leaving his unit was not included in a massive background file that was presented to congress.  Again, was it incompetence, or nefarious editing by someone else (and if so, who)
  5. Never, under any circumstances, invite Susan Rice for an interview.  Her lies on Benghazi were one thing (blaming the sacking of our consulate and death of our ambassador on a video), but calling Bergdahl's service as one of "honor and distinction," just goes to show she'll say anything the administration puts her up to, regardless if it is even close to true.  She's lied, egregiously, in two different episodes now.  Fool me once, media...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

St. Thomas Bans Camel on Campus as Racist

An old story but one that has not been covered here.

The University of St. Thomas (otherwise known as the university that Minnesota Catholic kids attend when they can't get into St. John's or St. Ben's) recently wanted to bring a camel on campus to lighten things up at the stressful end of the year.  They had done so previously with a reindeer at Christmas time, and students enjoyed getting their picture taken with the animal and blowing off some steam.

But then some Tommie students felt the camel would be racially insensitive to Middle Eastern kids (who absolutely attend the Catholic St. Thomas in droves).

The next thing you know, the camel is cancelled, and the PC do-gooders chalked up another victory in their march toward a hive-mind police state.

Which leaves only two thoughts:

1) Thank God I'm a Johnnie

2) The Tommies must really, really hate Geico

Happy hump day, everyone

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

With Bergdahl Excahnge, Obama Hits Bottom, Digs

The downward spiral of the Obama administration continued its death-glide with the negotiation for Bowe Bergdahl. 

This "deal" was a failure on so many levels that it is almost comical:
  • Bergdahl is at best AWOL, and at worst a traitor. 
  • Despite his questionable actions, we dealt five - count 'em - five hardened terrorists for him
  • If you think that it is impossible that at least one of those five ultimately kills at least one American citizen sometime in the future, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.  And if that murder (or murders) does happen, Obama just traded Bergdahl's life for some other Americans
  • We've now shown we'll negotiate with terrorists.  Not only will we negotiate with them, we're giddy to be fleeced by them.  This change in approach will not be lost on our enemies, and we can now expect abductions galore.  But since Obama has been looking for a way to close Gitmo since his inauguration, this might be part of the master plan
So now we cut to the only three non-terrorist people that are happy right now:

Congratulations, Mr. President.  The blood of future murdered Americans is now on your hands.

Monday, June 2, 2014

What is Wrong with Joe Mauer?

Joe Mauer has been terrible this season, both from an anecdotal and a statistical perspective. The anecdotes are many - he's taking way, way too many strikes, is finding himself behind in the count in most at-bats, and does not look aggressive at the plate, and his sweet swing no longer looks nearly so pretty.

From a statistical standpoint, consider:

  • His current average of .267 is the worst of his ten-year career
  • His current slugging is an anemic .340 - again, a career worst
  • He's batting .171 with runners in scoring position
  • He's already stuck out more than he did in the entire 2011 season, and is on pace for his worst season ever, by a long shot
Things have gotten so bad that Manager Gardenhire asked Mauer if he needed to sit out a game for a mental break. 

The move from catcher to everyday first baseman was supposed to be a boon to Mauer's offensive production.  Thus far, it looks more like a boondoggle.  

Something is wrong with Mauer.  It is now up to the team and the player to figure out what it is, and fix it.  Quickly.