Friday, July 31, 2015

New Planned Parenthood Video

At the risk of staying too long on one topic, you need to see the latest video published by The Center for Medical Progress.

It is tough to watch, but I beseech you to know what is happening:

Media outlets everywhere are ignoring this story and trying to protect this gruesome practice.  Arm yourself with the truth, then put pressure on our politicians to put a stop to this.

"Another boy!..."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Stuff that Makes Us Outraged

For the past three days, the interwebs have been aflame with outrage over the killing of a lion in Africa by a Minnesota hunter.  Comment sections and web pages have been replete with calls for the hunter's business to be destroyed, and for him to be murdered.


And these calls are not just one or two.  They're thousands of posts, seeking this man's death for the killing of a lion.

I don't give the hunter a pass - what he did in trusting his guides, and perhaps even in the hunt itself, was stupid.  As hunters, we know that things can go wrong, and when they do, they can alter lives. That is clearly happening in this case.

But thousands of calls for this guy's death?  Really?

This story broke on the same day as the third undercover video was released of Planned Parenthood selling body parts of aborted babies.  In the gruesome video, the viewer gets to witness Planned Parenthood personnel picking through aborted babies in what appears to be a pie tin.  It's beyond disturbing.  It's the stuff of nightmares.  

Despite this, the media and the internet yawns, and more cries go up to track down the lion hunter and kill him.

This is the current state of our moral compass.

Parting shot - it makes me wonder how the interwebs would have reacted had the lion hunter been a transexual, or had been on safari with his gay partner as part of their recent honeymoon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Obama's Third Term?

Here's Obama and his thoughts on his presidency:

The law is the law?  You mean like immigration?  You mean like those can be dealt with via "a phone and a pen?"

If so, can a third term for this self-proclaimed "pretty good president" come as any surprise?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Dearth of Optimism

It used to be easy for me to believe in my country.  Now, I just don't know.  Consider the following that most of our citizens just can't be troubled to be concerned about:

  • The leading candidate for president hiding, improperly using, and destroying emails
  • Planned Parenthood selling body parts of aborted babies
  • ISIS growing in stature and effectiveness on a daily basis
  • A deal with Iran (a country that has consistently and enthusiastically sought our deaths) so fraught with holes that it's a farce
Where is the outrage?  Why won't people hold our politicians accountable anymore?  At what point do we stop averting our eyes, and stop justifying the dangerous, immoral, and criminal?

What in the world have we become?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blog Analytics Recap

It has been a tough year for yours truly as writer here at Yellow Dog Patrol.  I've dealt with my wife's breast cancer, my loss of a job, and other personal garbage which has prevented me from keeping things as updated and fresh as I would have liked. This lack of content has manifested itself in the metrics, as you'll see below:

  • In the past year, the audience to the site is down 21% to the previous year
  • The biggest loss in traffic has been in loyal, returning visitors.  That being said, new visitors to the site are up
  • Visitors continue to appear from around the globe, with folks stopping by from places like Reunion, Senegal, Mauritius, Fiji, Ivory Coast, and Sint Maarten
  • While desktop and tablet traffic is down, mobile traffic is up 190%
  • Over 50% of the site's traffic is coming from organic search, which is up over last year
  • Of all of the top posts generating traffic, none have been published in the past year.  All are oldies but goodies
As proprietor here at YDP, there is a lot to take away from this.  The biggest lesson is that my audience is shrinking, and my recent content is not resonating.  I'll be working on all of that in the coming year.

In the meantime, thanks for your support and readership, especially those of you that stop by often. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday Song Share: Postmodern Jukebox - Criminal

The Fiona Apple song was always strong, but this throwback treatment is off the charts.  Smoky, sexy, and solid.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Black Lives Matter? Not in NYC

The New York City Department of Health recently published a study which showed the outcomes of pregnancies, by racial groups, in 2013.  What it showed was that more black babies are being aborted than born.


You really care about #blacklivesmatter?  If so, you may want to start breaking down those institutions (and let's be clear, they truly are institutions) that are killing off more black babies than are being allowed to be born.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chattanooga and Cowardice

Our country could have reacted in a lot of different ways in the aftermath of a jihad attack on a military recruiting station last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Our reactions could have been virtuous, vengeful, and/or vigilant.  

Instead, we got cowardice from our "leaders."

Marine recruiters are now being told to not wear their uniforms in public.  I wish I was making this up, but you can find a good article on the subject here.

Last week, I reported on my trip to the Marine Corps Museum, where archived and displayed were example after example of selfless service and valor.  And now Marines are being told to take off their uniforms?  In our own country?

This absolutely makes me sick to my stomach.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lessons from the Ashley Madison Hack

Ashley Madison, the website devoted to brokering affairs for married folks, was recently hacked and their database of 37 million users laid bare to some nefarious group.  Now those 37 million are hanging out to dry, and waiting for what is next.  Will it be blackmail, embarrassment, divorce?  Who knows?  But it's coming.

Unfortunately, two big lessons were delivered in this hack.  The first of these fell on the cheaters, and that is that nothing and I mean NOTHING that you do online is safe.  Data on what you've done while connected exists somewhere, and it would actually take very little to bring it to the light of day.  Thus, if you want to leverage an online platform to ease your life of infidelity, so be it, but don't be surprised when the excrement hits the fan, as it is now.

The second lesson was to Ashley Madison themselves.  They failed to understand what they were selling.  On the surface, what they were selling was sex.  But when you dug deeper, what they were really selling was privacy and discretion.  As such, their processes and infrastructure had to be as state-of-the-art as possible, which they most certainly were not.  Now, would such a configuration been foolproof?  Hardly - anything can be hacked.  But they needed to make it as hard as possible.

They didn't.  They failed.  They've been hacked, and the "promise" they deliver to their "customers" has just been washed away.  

In the end, the company, and their customers, are all going to reap what they have sown.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What to Do about the Donald

Among presidential hopefuls for 2016, nobody has better buzz right now than Donald Trump.  His brash outspokenness, especially on immigration, have resonated with those who share his opinion and have rankled those who oppose it.  He has been a polarizing lightening rod for sure.

However, Trump is what he is, and that is an arrogant, bombastic blowhard.  It would only be a matter of time before he stepped in it, and that has come in his recent disrespect of John McCain.

I'm no McCain fan - his politics are lightweight, he ran a horrible presidential election, and has failed more than he's produced for the Republican party.  However, one simply cannot question his heroism or love of his country.

Unless you're the Donald, in which case you can't help yourself.

I know Trump's more qualified to be president than Obama was/is - by a long margin.  Regardless, he's still not qualified for the job.  Oh, he'll be around for a while (the media will ensure of that), but for the good of the election and the good of the country, he needs to go.

But if he left behind his checkbook, that'd be alright.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday Song Share: Chris Squire - Lucky Seven

Chris Squire, bassist extraordinaire and one of the few constants in the multiple iterations of prog-rock super group Yes passed away recently.  He was a too young 67.

Here's some of his finest solo effort work:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Marine Corps Museum

I was fortunate to spend yesterday at the Marine Corps Museum.  Unbeknownst to me, I was doing so at the same time as 4 Marines were being murdered for being Marines.

My time at the Museum was quite emotional.  It was equal parts feelings of awe and inadequacy.  So much accomplishment and so much bravery.  Even just getting through basic training is a massive accomplishment, and when stacked against my resume, makes me wonder.

I was moved to tears a number of time during my visit there.  A couple of things that got me:

  • Four Navy sailors that were camped out in front of the display of Marine Medal of Honor recipients.  Their quiet reverence was special to see.
  • A Norman Rockwell painting of a Marine hero.  Is there anything or anybody like Rockwell anymore - someone who unabashedly loves this country?  How sad.
  • A display of a Marine dog that served with distinction and decoration in Iraq, and who was killed in action.  Arguably that dog did more in his couple of years than I have in 50.
  • A display of an I-beam from the World Trade Center
  • The famous flag that was raised on Iow Jima:

I was there for four hours, and could have been there a lot longer.  If in the DC area, go see the Marine Corps Museum.  You'll not be disappointed.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Defines You?

For a good chunk of my life, my work has been the definition that I've used for myself.  What I'm doing, who I'm doing it with, and who I'm doing it for have all been the yardstick by which I'd measure my worth.

What a mistake.

Work?  With so very much which is out of one's control?  With so much wasted activity that, twenty years from now (let alone two hundred), won't amount to anything?  That's my worth?

The more experience I've had, the more I've found that work is a lot of things outside of my control.  And what's in my control?

  • How I treat others
  • Making things better, not worse (or the same)
  • Who I spend my time with, and how I spend it
I refuse to let crappy work circumstances define how I perceive myself.  And if others use them to define me, they're going to miss a lot.

And that's their loss.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Infiniti Revisits the Holiday Road

Infiniti has recently released the following:

While I don't disagree it is cute, I don't understand why they went with the Lindsay Buckingham cover instead of the original.  

Good songs, like good movies, are timeless.  Swing and a miss, Infiniti.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

2015 Duck Hunting Forecast

The breeding population counts are in, and it reflects another banner year for duck numbers in North America:

We dodged yet another bullet.  The breeding areas are still holding good amounts of water, and there should be ample birds in the air this fall.  However, it is only a matter of time before we incur a drought, and that episode, combined with the massive continued reduction in overall habitat, will be a nightmare.

At least, for now, 2015 looks like another dream come true.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday Song Share: Dirty Projectors - I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine

My favorite cover of one of my favorite Dylan songs of all time.

Not much for video here, but just enjoy the music:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How's the Boss? Look for the Tell

When evaluating a new opportunity, not only are the people of your potential new employer evaluating you, but you, at the same time, are evaluating them.  Beyond the specifics of the role, interviewees often seek to understand corporate culture, style, and softer elements of a potential future engagement.  One such thing to understand is what kind of person the boss is - are they the good person they appear to be, or are they secretly hiding skeletons in their closet?

In a lot of ways, interviewing is a lot like poker - both sides seek to present the strongest picture possible, and are extremely careful in the type and amount of information that they choose to share.  When information is shared, many times it is done with an objective in mind.  Thus, as a candidate, it can sometimes be difficult to discern a clear understanding of exactly what a potential new boss might be like.

So how does one better gain this understanding?  For me, I've personally found a "tell" which has provided me great insight to my bosses (both potential and actual).  But before we get to that, we need to better define the whole concept of the "tell."  In poker, a "tell" allows players to gain an advantage based upon an observation they have made on an opponent.  Wikipedia defines it perfectly:

A tell in poker is a change in a player's behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player's assessment of their hand. A player gains an advantage if they observe and understand the meaning of another player's tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable.

For me, the greatest tell is to be able to go to a restaurant with a potential new boss and see how they interact with the wait staff.  Are the rude?  Overly demanding?  Have unjust expectations of performance, regardless of situation?  Talk ill of the wait staff after they have left the table?  Fail to acknowledge the staff, or talk over them?  Tip poorly?  All of these offer insight to how they treat people, and ultimately, how they are going to treat you.

This rule applies to other service and hospitality folks as well - how does this person treat hotel staff, flight attendants, retail clerks, and other service providers?  Ultimately, that treatment will be akin to how their teams are treated.

My greatest example of this involved one of my first bosses ever.  Immediately after being hired, we traveled together to a trade show.  While waiting on our departing flight, my new boss rang her flight attendant button three times before we left the gate.  Three times.  Guess who turned out to be overly demanding, micro-managing, and irrational?  

Note that the tell doesn't always mean a bad thing.  Did the potential new boss call the waiter by his name, and show genuine interest in him?  Was there solid, human interaction?  Was the reaction appropriate even when things were not exactly perfect?  If so, you likely have a decent person who will potentially be guiding your career for the next couple of years.  

This career insight, just like in poker, can be incredibly valuable information.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Al Jazeera's 4th of July Birthday Card to America

From a network backed by a country that often uses its bare hands to clean itself after defecating comes this little kiss to put us in our place:

I hope those actors were paid handsomely.   

Or maybe they were just threatened with beheading.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

America the Beautiful - Still Applicable?

Last week, we closed our church services singing America the Beautiful.  In singing the song, I became very, very sad, as the lyrics no longer seemed applicable for our country.  Consider:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

Do we still resemble the country reflected in the song?  With all of the references of "God," would our country still want this song as a reflection of it?

In both instances, I think not.  And that, on this July 4th, makes me a very sad American indeed.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Calsberg Beer Movie Prank

This is pretty good.  

Not sure I'd have the guts that those folks did.  But, if I knew it involved free beer...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Swingline and the Empty Stapler

Recently I started my new job, and as part of those early first days, I was involved in the usual activities - orientation, HR forms, understanding where the coffee machines and bathrooms were located, obtaining all of my access information, and the like.  It is a whirlwind, and while it feels so non-productive, it is necessary.

Part of the process is arming oneself with the appropriate office supplies.  Toward this end, folks in my office did me the favor of providing me with a brand-spanking new Swingline model stapler.   Via its prominent feature in the movie Office Space, we all know the Swingline brand.  In fact, in terms of product placement, one would be hard pressed to find a brand that had been better served by such a vehicle:

Ultimately, as part of my work, the need to staple something arose, and I gleefully set about opening up my very own, brand new Swingline stapler.  What a great "Milton" moment!  This was going to be awesome.

Unfortunately, it wasn't awesome.  Not all all.  Swingline made the decision to sell the stapler without any staples.  I was left with a stapler as completely useless to me as if Lumbergh himself had absconded with it.

Why would Swingline do that?  Of course, the answer is that they want to sell more staples - I get it.  But why put their customer into a lousy situation (basically, the only reason one would open a new stapler is because one has the need to use it)?  Even just providing a token amount of staples to start would have been nice balance between taking care of the customer and selling staples.

Beyond that, what if they did actually provide the staples, and also provided a coupon for the order of a quirky Swingline t-shirt.  Would I have bought one?  Depending on the snark factor of the shirt, in all probability I would have.

While I get that this rant is about something as mundane as a stapler, it serves as a great metaphor to what we are delivering to our customers every day.  Are we providing them with everything they need, or do we hold things back because it's "good for us?"  Do we recognize that our touch points are finite, and do we take as much advantage of them as we can to cement our brand with our customers?  Likewise, do we look for opportunities outside of the traditional that allow our customers to actually celebrate doing business with us?

You blew it, Swingline.  Yeah, you won.  I'll ultimately buy the staples and will use your stapler, but I would have appreciated avoiding the hassle of doing so. In the meantime, your product will sit on my desk; useless to me as little more than a paperweight.

And I really, really would have loved the t-shirt.