Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Song Share: Ike and Tina Turner - Proud Mary

Another example where the cover is better than the original - Ike and Tina take the CCR hit and make it uniquely their own.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Blessings Bestowed

My period of unemployment has been a roller coaster of highs and lows.  The down periods - when the phone is not ringing, people aren't returning emails, and opportunities few in arriving - can lead to abject depression.  The internal voice starts in and questions accomplishments, potential, and worth.

On the other hand, the high periods - when folks seem interested, opportunities abound, and unsolicited compliments come in from former coworkers - well, they're the thing that keeps emotions from bottoming out.  

Despite the highs, this period of unemployment has been one that has brought a lot of humility down upon me.  I had taken a lot for granted, and when it has been taken away from you, there is a painful recognition of what has been lost.  And just like a divorce or a death, there is a keen feeling of loss.

However, as the days have gone on, something else has been creeping up - the feeling of being blessed.  As I type this, I'm sitting in a wonderful house, with warm heat, a fantastic cup of coffee, a fully belly from breakfast, and listening to some outstanding music.  I want for very little, and as compared to much of humanity, it is ridiculous as to how much I've been blessed, and how good I've had it and how good I've got it.

The recognition of this situation has made me both grateful and ashamed, and deservedly so.  

At our worst set of circumstances, we are still so very blessed.  We just need to raise our eyes and see it.  It is a blessing in and of itself to be cognizant of that.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Molson Beer Fridge Ads

From the good folks at Molson Canadian comes the following ad:

Outstanding!  Could not be any more on-brand, share-worthy, and effective.

Then, in a rare instance where the sequel is better than the original, they dropped this:

Hats off, Molson Canadian, on a job well done, eh?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting Better with the Boys of Summer

The weather here has been brutal.  I'm actually writing this post on 2/19 upon my return from the gym this morning, and the air temp was -13.  I  can't even imagine what the wind chill is.  In looking at the 10 day forecast, the best things get is 25.  In the next ten days...

Fortunately, my mom has some vacation property sitting idle outside of Ft. Meyers at the end of March, and I'll finally be able to see the Twins down at their spring training facility.  In fact, I've already got tickets for two games.

Beyond the respite from the weather provided by the vacation, we'll also launch our house for sale during the same time, affording realtors and prospective buyers full access for a week without impacting us or our critters.  

Bittersweet, yes, but hopefully made better by being able to spend some time with the boys of summer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Our First House

I was in Minnesota doing some due diligence on some potential jobs, and found myself in the Crystal neighborhood.  It so happens that Crystal is where we used to live when I was a tot, and we moved from there just before kindergarten started.

Here it is:
It seems hard to believe, but five of us lived in that little house.  Fortunately the basement was finished, so that pushed the square footage up to 1,500, however all five of us bunked on the first floor.  It had to be a tight squeeze, although as a kid I remember nothing but space.  Likewise, I remember a massive sliding hill in the front yard.  Not sure what they did with that...

The only concern was the proximity of the house to an in-service railroad track.  The track was just around the corner, and while it was absolutely verboten to be near it, my brother and I found our way there one day.  How mom ever found out where we were, I'll never know, but find us she did, and subsequently swatted our behinds all the way back to the house in such a way that neither my brother nor I ever had our feet hit the ground all the way back.  It about as impressive as ambidextrous and simultaneous butt swatting can be executed. 

Here is the back yard, which to me seem a gigantic wonderland.  The gate near the house, which is still the original, would hit me mid-thigh now, yet seemed positively impenetrable back in the day.

I was surprised at how many memories came back via this little visit, and am impressed on how we progressed from those lean, early days. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Walker Derangement Syndrome

Not since Sarah Palin was running for office have we seen the Left so unhinged about a candidate as they are about Scott Walker.  Their fear of him is palpable, and it is well founded - the Left threw everything they had at Walker in his recall election, and in his past election.  They failed miserably, and if Walker can replicate his election performance on a national scale, they'll go down in flames.  Big time.

Thus, a lot of activity has been taken by the media to catch Walker in a "gotcha" moment.  As such, Walker has to answer questions about Rudy Giulaini and whether President Obama is Christian or not.

Those are the pressing questions to which the media demands answers.

Unfortunately, the media didn't get the answers they wanted, so they're trying the salvage the meme of Walker as a know-nothing by gleefully reporting that "Walker doesn't know if Obama is Christian or not!"

In the meantime, Walker got the money quote on the record.  Here it is:  “To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press,” he said. “The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.”

Walker said he does not believe that most Americans care about such matters.“People in the media will [judge], not everyday people,” he said. “I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue.”

Of course, he's right on.  This isn't about the economy, jobs, Obamacare, taxes, national security, Islamic jihad, terrorism, or anything else that people care about.  The only people that care what Walker thinks on mundane issues are Leftists that are looking to land their own Katie Couric moment and prove Walker to be the dummy that they all just know he is.

Thus far, Walker has refused to take the bait, and is actually scoring points with the electorate on his counter-punches.  We'll see if he can continue to do so, especially as the level of goading increases.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What Makes Up Consumer Debt

The New York Federal Reserve has an interesting analysis of the size and nature of consumer household debt for about the past ten years.  It's pretty fascinating:

In the data, you can clearly see the build of the housing bubble, and its subsequent burst.  Now, compare that run to the growth in student loan debt.  The percent growth for that segment of debt for the period is remarkable, and it shows no signs of abating.

Our next bubble?  The data sure makes it look that way.  I have a feeling big education is in for a big correction...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Song Share: Jimi Hendrix - The Wind Cries Mary

Of all of the artists that passed away far too early, I view Jimi as being the one that I would have loved to see grow into old age the most.  I can't begin to imagine what he could have shared with the world over these past nearly 45 years (yes, it's been that long since he died).

At least he gave us music like this:

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Questions that Cut

In two recent episodes, I was presented with common, seemingly benign questions that absolutely cut me to the quick.

The first episode came when we went out to dinner with one of Mrs. YPD's friends before our concert last week.  The friend had provided our concert tickets, and had also invited another couple to join our group as well.  The other couple were lovely people, and our dinner conversation quite pleasant.

Until we talked about work.

Mr. X - "YDP, what do you do?"
Me - "I'm in ecommerce."
Mr. X - "Ecommerce!  My goodness, you'll never be out of a job a day in your life!  Who do you work for?"
Me - "Actually, I am currently out of a job."

And I proceed to offer up the whole sordid story of my departure.  Which was all good and fine, until the bill came.  Ordinarily, I pick up the bill.  Always.  I just do, have forever, and it drives Mrs. YDP nuts.  Anyway, with my new unemployment, Mrs. YDP had arranged that the bill be split - we'd buy the friend dinner as pay-back for the concert tickets, and have the other couple in charge of their bill.  Unfortunately, the other couple would have none of it, and made a huge scene out of paying for everything.  A huge scene.  Ultimately, I deferred, but not without feeling like a massive welfare case.  Future dinners out will now either have me picking up the tab, or us just not going.  I'm never doing that again.

Second episode is when I checked in for my "Welcome to 50!" colonoscopy.   

Nurse - "Do you still have United Health Insurance?"
Me - "Yes"
Nurse - "Are you still employed by evil company X?"
Me - "No"
Nurse - "Who is your new employer?"
Me - "I don't have one"
Nurse - "Oh, you're retired?"
Me - (thinking, do I look that bleeping old?) "No.  I'm between jobs."

The nurse finally figures out that I still have Cobra, and yes, my forthcoming invasive operation will be fully covered.  Lucky me.

So much of our lives has been built around what we do.  Now that I don't do anything, I'm at a loss as to how to handle these episodes without them ruining my whole week.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Obama Administration - "We Cannot Kill Our Way Out of this War"

Hot on the heels of the videotaped beheading of 21 Christians by ISIS, solely because they committed the crime of being Christian, Chris Matthews asks Marie Harf of the Obama Administration what we can do:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Marie Harf is for real.  She's truly not a 9th grader; she's the Deputy Spokesperson for US State Department.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's Chris Matthews as the voice of reason in this clip.

Perhaps ISIS is right.  Maybe it truly is the end of the world.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Lent

Happy Lent?  Really?  Given our call for reverence, reflection, and reconciliation during this period, is there much to be happy about?  

Actually, there is a ton to be happy about.  Lent provides us a true break to take stock of our lives - how we're living, what we deem important, how we help others - and affords us the opportunity to course correct.  Forty days to reflect on our lives, and how they do or do not align with how the Lord asks us to live.

Temperance?  A little suffering?  Sure, but nothing at all compared to the passion of the Savior.  And then, at the end, it's all capped off with the celebration of the Resurrection and all that the event means.

Happy Lent, indeed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pointing Yellow Labs

A couple of weekends ago Fuzzy came out to Green Bay, and we got a little bit of dog training in.  We put out 8 birds, and harvested the same, so overall it was a success.  

Dog work was outstanding.  My 10 year old girl worked hard and did a great job, and Fuzzy's pup was all over the field getting it done.  It was fun to watch them both work so hard at something that they clearly loved.  

The real fun part was to watch them both point.  It is rare to have a pointing Labrador, and we're fortunate to both have one.  It was really fun when they got to an area like this where they were both pointing at the same time:

Overall, we had a great time.  I hope we're able to do it again soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Below Zero Blues

Week five of being out of work has begun, and it is a depressing time.  Potential job activity that had actually started while I was still employed has simmered down, as has the initial flurry of activity that came on the heels of the event itself.  It had to - things were crazy there for a while - and we're now settling into what "normal" is going to look like.

And folks, let me tell you, normal is boring and depressing.

It is a lot of time behind the same desk, doing the same thing over and over again, in attempt to get the career kick-started.  And other than working out, there aren't may excuses to leave the confines of the house.  Besides, it is simply too damned cold.

Oh, how I'd love to leave the house!  Given the time on my hands, I'd love to do the following:

  • Super long bike rides
  • Walking the Yellow Dog
  • Jogging on the golf course
  • Mid-day, mid-week golfing on a lightly used course
  • Massive amounts of yard work which will need to be completed if we are to sell the house
  • Leisurely walks with my wife
  • Job searching from the patio
  • Fishing
The list goes on.  Unfortunately the season and the weather have conspired to keep me locked up.  While I've found some temporary office space here locally that would at least give me a reason to leave every day, the space is currently full.  Hence, I'm resigned to looking forward to upcoming meetings and interviews in the Twin Cities this week, and doing some hunting with a buddy down in Kentucky next week.

Come on, Spring.  I need you now more than ever.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Revelations at the John Mellencamp Concert

Last week I took Mrs. YDP out to see John Mellencamp play here in Green Bay.  First a review of the concert: Mellencamp was outstanding.  His voice has grown more gruff with age (as can clearly be heard on his latest album Plain Spoken), and frankly I was fearful of how he was going to sound.  While it did take a couple of songs for him to warm up, eventually the voice smoothed out and he was in great shape for a number of his usual hits.

Highlights for me were all to be expected - a rousing Small Town, the closing Cherry Bomb, and my sentimental favorite Check it Out.

I last saw Mellencamp in about 1989, and at the time he was absolutely fantastic.  Fast forward (way too fast) 25 years, and he still is an outstanding showman.  He knew how to play the crowd, when to tone things down, and when to crank things up.  It was an outstanding evening of music and memories.

Now the bad part - I was really taken aback by the fact that the concert goers were all old people.  I'm not kidding.  Grey or no hair, paunches, slow gaits, glasses, the whole Mary Ann.  It is the first time in my life in which I was presented with stark evidence of how old my peer group and I are.  And it flat out sucks.

I'm fortunate that in my line of work (digital marketing), it is very much a young person's game.  It is an area that is dominated by millennials and constant technological change, and as such, has enabled me to feel/be a lot more young than my chronological age.  Now that I'm out of work, I miss that engagement, and hope that it doesn't quickly age me.  

I've been to the Mellencamp concert.  I've seen what my age is like.  It ain't pretty. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Song Share: Jimmy Fallon & Neil Young - Old Man

Fallon does some incredible impressions, and this one is frankly beautiful:

Friday, February 13, 2015

American Murdered, Obama Mugs

The great Charles Krauthammer nails it:

Ladies and gentlemen, we don't have a President.  Hell, we don't have a leader.  We have a clown.  A clown to entertain us.  Living in the White House.

Normally, folks would be ticked off at being considered a clown.  Take Joe Pesci for example (R rated):

The dearth of leadership in the White House is positively astonishing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Oil Production Through the Roof

Check out this incredible chart which shows the state of the oil industry, and what the shale extraction process has meant to US total production:

Not since the early 70's (with a blip in the late 80's) have we seen this kind of volume being generated from within out our borders.  In fact, I'd argue that if you removed any kind of offshore drilling from the chart, the results would be even more amazing.

All this despite an administration that has been un-supportive, if not downright hostile, to oil extraction and production activity.  Amazing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Go See American Sniper

I was having a really tough day yesterday, and when my wife arrived home from work at 2:00, I asked if she'd go with me to a matinee.  We chose American Sniper, and the choice could not have been any better.

I am a war movie aficionado, and this is not only the best war movie that I've ever seen, but it is perhaps the best movie I have ever seen.

If you've not done it already, go see American Sniper

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Brian Williams Matters

It has now been well documented that Brian Williams flat out lied about this activities in the Middle East.  No, he did not confuse the facts, and he didn't just exaggerate.  He lied.  Big time.

To make it worse, he lied a lie that could easily be proved - not only by the soldiers with whom he was embedded, but also other NBC crew.  Given Williams' position, the latter could be assumed to keep their mouths shut or else hurt their employment prospects.  But the prior?  How did he think he could get away with it?

And get away with it he did.  For ten years.

Finally, though, the truth came crashing down, and with it so went Williams credibility.  Oh, he offered a lame apology and excuses, but he flat lied, and anyone that has followed the story closely knows he did.

So why should we care?  Because Williams is more than just a talking head.  He's the managing editor of NBC, and as such is responsible for what stories get pushed, and what stories get buried.  It is a massive responsibility.  But when a guy can't be trusted with a story that does nothing but boost his ego, how could he be trusted for accurate reporting on something that he really deems important?  How does he treat stories for politicians that he likes, or stories on companies he might have in his portfolio?    

The guy gambled every ounce of his credibility for basically nothing.  How could we expect him to behave differently once the stakes got higher?

Williams has to go.   

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Friday, February 6, 2015

Muslims and Their "Special Kind of Hate" for the Jews

Pat Condell has been a consistent voice in Europe in raising the alarm of Islamic immigration and the ramifications thereof.  He's well spoken, measured, and about the only one with the balls to tell the truth about what is happening.

And the biggest thing that is happening now (other than Swedish women being raped in massive amounts) is an exodus (pun quite intended) of Jews out of Europe and to Israel.  

Here's Condell's message on what is happening:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lars Andersen - Amazing Archer

This is some of the most incredible archery footage you'll ever see.  This guy is absolutely amazing.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Unpacking My Office

On Monday I was invited into my old office to come and pick up my personal property.  I was able to fit everything in my truck, and was surprised to see that all that I had at the office fit into five boxes.  

I was also fortunate enough to be the recipient of a couple of hugs while I was there.  Since my visit to the office was kept on the down low, sneaking in a couple of hugs from people that saw me pretty much made my day.

The rest of my day was spent going through all of the boxes.  The photo shows all of what I went through during that afternoon, and for the most part it was all pretty much reference material and junk.  However, there were some good things in the form of cards, mostly sent by my team to me for various occasions, and I happened to keep them as they made me feel good.

And I have to tell you, for a dark day in going through all of my work life resigned to a couple of boxes, those cards made me feel very good, indeed. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Congratulations, Mick Tinglehoff - NFL Hall of Famer

After far too long, former Viking great Mick Tinglehoff finally received his due, and has been elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.  

His accomplishments are storied and many.  However, for me and my one meeting with him, I simply found him to be a hell of a guy.

Here's the story, taken from A Dog Named Blitz:

I was running marketing for a major sporting goods company at the time, and was negotiating with the Minnesota Vikings on an advertising package for the coming year.  In addition to the traditional advertising opportunities - stadium signage, program advertising, sponsorships, and the like - the Vikings were able to make alumni players available for store appearances, corporate gatherings, and other events.  In our discussions, it came up that NFL six-time Pro Bowl center Mick Tingelhoff  was an avid bird hunter, and may be interested in being available for a game farm hunt to be used as a sweepstakes. 

For anyone living in Minnesota in the 1970's, Mick Tinglehoff was Vikings royalty.  He was widely considered the best at his position through the late '60's, and he led the offensive line for the their four NFC Championships.  He'd be a perfect incentive to drive folks into our stores under the pretext of possibly getting a chance to hunt with him. 

My worry, though, was about his shape.  Here was a man that played at the highest level of football for sixteen years.  Sixteen years!  Were his knees capable of carrying him along in a day-long hunt?  Would his shoulder and arms be up to the task of hauling a heavy gun and firing?  Through my work and in other capacities I had chances to meet Vikings players from the 60's and 70's, and some of them could barely move due to the years of punishment their bodies sustained.  Just what could I expect?  My contact at the Vikings suggested I not worry, and we worked out the details for the drawing. 

Still, I was nervous. 

The sweepstakes as a promotion was as much of a hit as I had expected, and I was thrilled for how it drove traffic to the stores.  I was also thrilled with our winner - a young man of 12.  Hunting is turning into a old man's game as very few kids hunt anymore.  To get some new blood into the field excited me to no end.  And while our winner didn't know Mick Tingelhoff from Adam, he was darned excited to be selected for such a great trip.  His dad, on the other hand, seemed just as thrilled to meet the famed #53 from the Vikings. 

On the appointed day our winner, his dad and I were to meet Mick for lunch ahead of our afternoon hunt.  At this point I was worried.  What if Mick was indeed in bad shape?  What if he was a raging jerk, as some athletes were?  I was worried for our young winner, as I wanted this day to be a memorable one for him. 

In short order an older gentleman entered the restaurant, strode easily over to our table, removed his cap, and introduced himself as Mick Tingelhoff.  Despite my fears, Mick was in incredible shape.  He moved fine, obviously kept himself in shape, and would have no trouble on this hunt.  Likewise, as we learned over lunch, he was a humble and personable gentleman.  A truly wonderful guy. 

This was punctuated as he was telling stories at lunch.  He happened to mention that at the time of his retirement he held the record for the second most consecutive games played at 240 straight games (teammate Jim Marshall famously held the record for most games played).  240 games!  And these weren't the easy games of a kicker or a punter.  These were games played via the war in the trenches.  Remembering his gait over to the table, and looking at his non-gnarled hands, I finally had to ask how he did it.  Just exactly how did he stay healthy all of those years?  With the deepest sincerity, he looked me dead in the eye and said, "Mike, I don't know.  I honestly don't know.  I do know that I'm very lucky.  Most of the men I played with have significant health issues.  I just don't.  I get out of bed every morning and I feel fine.  I'm just really, really lucky."  It was an amazing story. 

We finished our lunches and headed out to start our hunt.  After a short drive to our appointed field we were joined by a guide from the club, but for this hunt, Blitz would be our sole dog.  I introduced our group to Blitz at the tailgate, and got her ready for the hunt. 

It wasn't long before Blitz got on a hot scent, and I let our band know that her body signals meant she was birdy, and that we needed to get ready.  After dashing head-down about 20 yards ahead and to my left, Blitz made a quick jerk to her left and immediately locked up statue still.  "OK guys," I said, "She's on point.  That means there's a bird somewhere in front of her nose.  Get in behind her and I'll get her to flush it up."  Right away the winner's father suggested that Mick get into position, but Mick immediately deferred.  He wanted to see what kind of a shot our young winner was. 

After getting the boy into position I commanded Blitz to get the bird, and immediately a beautiful rooster burst from the cover directly in front of her.  Our young winner, with all the pressure of being the designated shooter on him, made a single, clean and sporty shot on the hard flying bird.  Blitz marked the bird down, retrieved it, and brought it to hand, with compliments around for her performance.  None of our group had hunted with a pointing lab before, and they were thrilled with Blitz's performance.   

While I carried a gun for the hunt, I served only as a back-up shooter, as I wanted the day to belong to the boy, his dad, and to Mick.  I was forced into a couple of shots, and performed well, but left the gun slung over my shoulder for much of the day.  That was just fine with me, as I was thrilled to watch Blitz work so well.  I was equally thrilled to watch our group have so much fun hunting behind her. 

Our day could not have been any better; our winners were incredibly appreciative, and our celebrity a consummate gentleman.  Throw in some outstanding dog work by Blitz, and the whole experience was a rousing success.  At the end, the father of our winner approached me a conveyed his sincere appreciation for how his son was treated.  He was made to feel really special, and had a day that he'd not forget. And neither of them would forget that incredible pointing yellow lab.  I conveyed my appreciation for the compliment, and stated with all sincerity that anything we could do to get a young kid hooked on hunting was worth the effort.  We shook hands and said our good-byes. 

It was now time to thank Mick, and he came up to me with his hand extended and wearing a huge grin.  "You know," he said, "you never know what you're going to get into when you volunteer for one of these things.  I just want you to know I had a great time.  A great time.  And you've got one heck of a dog.  Thank you."  Coming from a guy that knew a thing or two about athletic performance, that meant the world to me. 

Thanks for a memorable day, #53.  If there was a Hall of Fame for being a gentleman, you'd be in it.    

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl Ads 2015 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This year's crop of advertising did not disappoint, both in terms of entertainment, and head scratching.  Here's who spent their $5 to $10 million wisely, and who just flushed it down the toilet:

The Good

Clash of Clans Revenge - Liam Neesen Revenge
This ad captured an important component of the game, and did so with an icon that epitomizes the concept of revenge.  Very well done: 

Turbo Tax - Boston Tea Party
Great use of humor to get the point across that the software package is free to use.  Spot on message.  Could have done better had it run later in the game, but great ad nonetheless:  

Coke - Server Spill
Nobody did a better job of being on brand than this spot.  Great message, impeccably executed.  Coke wins for the best ad of the day:

The Bad

Nissan - Cats in the Cradle
Horrible song and a completely unclear message as it relates to selling cars make this one a massive miss:

Weight Watchers - Pusher
I will grant you that the message was not bad; in fact, it was pretty effective.  But during the Super Bowl?  It's a party, Weight Watchers.  Nobody wants your sanctimony, even if you are right:

Squarespace - Dreaming with Jeff
Any time you have to spend upwards of $4MM to get people to maybe go take a look at a website, you should immediately fire your head of Marketing.  Horrible waste of advertising:

The Ugly
Jublia - Toenail Fungus
Are you kidding me?  

Nationwide - Dead Kids
This absolutely, positively is the worst Super Bowl ad, ever.  Talk about tone deaf.  And what about parents that were watching the game with their kids?  Holy cow, this is a horrible, horrible ad.  Where was Peyton Manning and his Chicken Parm?  Massive miss, Nationwide.  Just flat out wrong:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Simple Question for the Global Warming Crowd

For nearly a decade now, politicians and their funded scientific backers have claimed that human beings are creating a situation with greenhouse gas emissions that is causing unnatural warming of the globe.  This activity is being touted as catastrophic, and our doom impending.

So, if the science is closed on such a situation, and since literally NOTHING can be done to police polluters in nations that could not care less and/or do not believe in this situation, we're already screwed.

Thus, the question: Why in the world aren't rich liberals (typically the ones screeching the loudest over global warming) buying up massive amounts of land in Canada - land that, given their predictions, would move from agriculturally marginal to outstanding?  If the pundits are so sure, why won't they place the bet, and stand to make billions?