Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

He is risen - hallelujah

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Planned Parenthood Not Sure What to do With a Live Baby

Regardless of what you think about the issue of abortion, there should be some things in which  we as human beings can agree.

This testimony by Planned Parenthood is simply shocking.  The lights just came on, and this video is the chance to see all of the roaches before they scurry away and are provided air cover by spin-masters, talking heads, and a sympathetic political/media complex.  

Fortunately, we have this record.  This organization and what they believe, via their testimony, is where your tax dollars are going.

No time for the full 6:00 video?  Go to 5:15 where it is argued that a child born alive after a botched abortion should not obligate a trip to the nearest hospital due to "logistical issues."

When your political ideology is to ensure women are unencumbered with the inconvenience of a child, even if that child is born alive, you end the debate.  At that point, you no longer advocate choice, heath, or whatever label you want to use.  No, at that point you truly are what your opponents accuse you - you are peddlers of death, pure and simple. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Beauty of Knowing How to Code

True words here, folks.

Makes me pine for the days at USB where I spent a good chunk of my time writing SAS code and rocking out to heavy metal CDs.  

That knowledge still serves me to this day - both in terms of coding and heavy metal.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cancer Bonds MSU Player and Little Girl

Get ready to meet about the cutest little girl you've ever met in your life.  Oh, yeah, you may want to have some Kleenex ready as well:

Isn't it amazing how two people can be so substantively different, yet share such a bond?  Each of us has the capacity to be something so important to someone else; even someone with which we have little in common.  

What an example for all of us. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 Disaster Averted

I just received word from that my missing files have been recovered.  They've now been summarily saved to my personal hard drive, so hopefully there won't be any repeats.

I now move on toward cover development.  


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bye, Tubby

The University of Minnesota actually showed some fortitude and fired Tubby Smith yesterday, thus ending a coaching tenure full of promise, but short on delivery.

Smith is a good man.  He appears to have run a clean program.  He was respected in the community.  But his winning percentage in the Big Ten was well below .500.  His most recent team - arguably his most talented - lost 12 of its final 18 games.  Their half-court offense was among some of the ugliest seen in Division 1 basketball.

With the firing, Tubby Smith, the man, will be just fine.  He has a $2.5 million buy-out, and will never need to work another day in his life.

Which is a good thing, because, based on his past performance, Tubby Smith the coach won't be working at all anytime soon, if ever.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hunting at Dr. Bill's - 2013 Edition

I just returned from a weekend at the annual Dr. Bill Pheasant Open for St. John's Grads and Wayward Others.  Actually, it was less than a weekend for me, as I got the flu while down there. I drove down on Thursday night, hunted all day on Friday, but after the hunt, while sitting on the truck tailgate having a beer, I developed a bad chill.  I went inside and sat on the couch to warm up and catch up on the NCAA tourney, but my chill only got worse.  I decided to take a hot shower, but by then the trembling and shaking had started, and despite the hottest water temp, I could not get warm.

I ended up throwing on a bunch of clothes and getting into bed to try and warm up.  As the designated camp cook, I was not up to my duties and needed to make a call to the bullpen (thank you, Dave).  

I eventually made it down for dinner, where we had an excellent fish fry with Dr. Bill's dad stopping over.  I managed two whiskeys, but continued to feel terrible.  I went to bed early in the hopes that some sleep would make things better, but had a very fitful night and awoke feeling even worse.  I had breakfast with the boys (again, thanks to Dave) and did not go out for the Saturday hunt.  Instead I went back to bed, and slept another three hours straight.  

I awoke, and realized that I wouldn't be hunting the rest of the day, so instead of sitting inside and feeling miserable, I'd make the four hour dash home after lunch and be able to sleep in my own bed.  And, cutting my stay a day short, that's exactly what I did.

I felt lousy doing it.  Some of these guys I only see on this trip.  Some I see even less.  And I felt it so unfair that I wasn't able to enjoy our typical time together.

However, somewhere south of Sheboygan it hit me - at dinner on Friday night we talked about two SJU classmates that had recently died.  While I was cheated out of part of my weekend, in the grand scheme of things, it was hardly being truly cheated.

Despite my limited time there, I did get some good documentation of our Friday hunting.

Here's Fuzzy:

And Joe:

Here's the newest member of the YDP with two veterans:

Post-field recap:

Another recap:

Enjoying the 40 degree day at hunt's end with a cold beer and even colder stories

I also captured some video.  Adult content warning: the language here is not suitable for kiddos.  You've been warned:

Thanks, Dr. Bill.  I can't wait to do it again next year.  Hopefully I'll be there the whole time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Obama as Satan on History Channel's The Bible

I know it is not without its critics, but I'm thoroughly enjoying The History Channel's The Bible.  The Old Testament stories they chose to cover were interesting, as were the stories they chose to ignore.  Likewise, now that we're into the New Testament, it has kind of gone up to a new level for me.  I loved the scene of Christ being a bit of a smart aleck with Simon Peter, and the scene of the Lord's baptism with John the Baptist was completely well done.

While I was aware of the hue and cry about Satan looking like Obama in the scene in the desert, I was still struck by look itself when the devil popped up.  He doesn't look a little like Obama, he looks A LOT like Obama.

Coincidence, as the producers claim?  Um, nah.  The make-up, shooting, editing, and review process is far too stringent that NOBODY called this out.  This was a political poke, and a good one at that.

Cheap shot?  Maybe.  But my prediction is that their massive viewership will only go up due to the stunt.  First, it will attract those non-viewer to which the poke resonates, second it will attract some of the President's defenders seeking new material to which they can be offended.  Either way, viewership goes up.

We'll see tonight.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How to Start a Career in Ecommerce Part 4, Email Marketing

You've learned the basics by getting started with a site, and you've learned how to use web analytics.  Now it's time for some basic marketing, and nothing is more basic in the world of ecommerce like email marketing.

But before you start, you're going to need a population to email.  You likely don't have access to such a group, but I'm betting that there is a local non-profit in your area that has an email list that would love to be the recipient of your volunteer work.  A church, conservation group, or any other non-profit will do.  They'll have access to names, and will be giddy to receive the help.  As one who's done this before, trust me - you'll be a hero.

Armed with a cause and some names, you now need a means to send them.  Sending them in a massive batch through a traditional email pipe will look a lot like spam to the inbound ISPs, hence your efforts will get killed by their spam filters before they're ever delivered.  Likewise, you won't be able to track performance to see critical things like how many folks opened the email, how many clicked, what they did when the clicked, etc.

Thankfully, there are some email marketing platforms that will help you get the mail to your audience and will also track your performance.  A great place to start is with Constant Contact, which offers a free 60 day trial.  Beyond the training period, should you want to continue to support your non-profit with email services (they'll LOVE you if you do), you'll find that Constant Contact offers substantially reduced rates for non-profits.

Armed with the list, it is now time to craft a message.  Determine the goal of the message you'll be sending (donations, attendance, volunteers, etc.) and build content to support the "conversion" you are looking to drive.  And while you'll be new to all of this, Constant Contact has testing mechanisms to allow you, in real time, to deploy different versions of your message to determine which ones perform better than others.  Armed with this insight, you can modify your message, test it against new ideas, and ultimately optimize the performance.

Hypothesize, test, optimize: It is the key to all ecommerce marketing work, and email is a great place to start to see it in action.

There's a group out there that needs your help.  Likewise, you've got access to some very powerful learning tools that are available to you for free.  Hence, if you're really looking to learn about ecommerce, the only thing that is stopping you is you.

Good luck! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Go Pro Array Video

As a reader of this space, you know that I've shot some video with a Go Pro camera.  I've found it to be a robust filming option, and the things I've been able to capture I would not have been able to record without significantly more expensive equipment.

The following is a film from some film-makers that use an array of the cameras to some impressive effect.  Get ready to get your Matrix on:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Miserable Winter Continues

Here in Green Bay, our average temperature for the month of March is 40.  Unfortunately, that's a number we've not even hit once this month.

In fact, we won't see a temp number that starts with a "4" until over a week from today.

It has been a long, miserable winter here in the upper Midwest.  People are crabby, and deservedly so.  It has been far too long since we've been able to enjoy being outside.  Our patios and decks are still buried in snow.  Our dogs long to take a long walk.  Our golf clubs sit idle in a dusty corner of the garage.  Our shorts remain relegated to the "summer clothes drawer."

We live in a white, miserable wasteland.  But other than that, living up here is just great...

Where is that global warming?       

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Singing Like You Mean It

The following is a video of a church service, taken by a friend of my cousin.

How many times at mass do we just go through the motions?  Can you imagine what mass would be like if the congregation put their whole heart into it, as is done here?  This is a small church, but their voices are anything but.

Makes you think. 

Hat tip to Murph.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When Life is Bigger than a Game

Here's a great example of how we should be treating each other.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

An Open Letter to Mother Nature

Hi Mom,

I know you're busy, so I hope this isn't an interruption.  I just wanted to see if I could talk you into mixing it up a little bit.  Yesterday's snowstorm - what does that make it this season, 83? - well, it's just a little much, don't you think?

It is just that this time last year I was getting the clubs polished up and getting the cart ready.  You remember the golf cart?  Yeah, I haven't used it in a while.  It holds generic garage junk now.

Like I said, ma, I know you're busy.  But some sunshine and some 40 degree days might do us all some good.  Whadda say?  At least consider it, huh?



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Disaster at

The book project for A Dog Named Blitz has been put on hold as I was waiting for the designer I was working with to provide something.  In the meantime, I had contacted and was assured that I had 180 days to conclude my project from my final edit.

Since it has been nearly four months, I decided I would leverage's design services - I can't wait anymore.  I accessed my account to employ their service and found that my edited file and my correction document were gone.

All gone.

I made the massive mistake of not saving the documents to my hard drive from their space on the cloud.  I'm a web guy.  I know better.  But I blew it, and now I have absolutely nothing.

Oh, I still have a final edit, but I don't have a format that can fit in a book.  It needs formatting, for the pleasant cost of $350 (or at least that's what it was last time).

I have an inquiry into them for help, but of course they will take two business days to get back to me.  

I have worked so hard on this project.  It is now to the point where I just want it over.  Unfortunately, for it to be over, it looks like I have a lot more hard work and big expense in front of me.

I'm just sick.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fire Tubby Smith

After salvaging their season with a win over #1 Indiana, the Minnesota Gophers went out and did the following:
  • Crushed a weak Penn State team
  • Lost at Nebraska against a Cornhusker team they should have beaten soundly
  • Were crushed at Purdue; giving up 89 points to a horrible team
  • Lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament to a NCAA bubble team in Illinois.
Overall, this team is 5-9 over their past 16 games.  Their half court offense is embarrassing - 5 guys not moving every time down the court as the shot clock ticks down, and then the ball is either turned over or shot-put in a feeble attempt to hit the rim before the buzzer goes off.

Due to a strong RPI, this team will likely make the NCAA tournament.  But they're likely looking at being a 10 or 11 seed, and they will be destroyed on Thursday or Friday in front of a national audience.

This team has the raw talent to play with and beat the best teams in the nation.  They have the confidence, execution, and attention to basics of the worst teams in the nation.  And, unfortunately, raw talent could not carry them, and Tubby Smith could not correct their errors.

Why was Smith such a failure with this team?  Did they not respect him?  Does he watch film after games and assume his half-court offense is OK?  Does he not care about losing?  I'm not sure exactly what the issue is, but rest assured, there is definitely an issue.

Tubby has the body language of a loser, and the record to go along with it.  His accomplishments are to be respected, but resume bullets do nothing for the present.  And in the present, he's a loser.

A change is needed.  While it likely won't occur before Minnesota's "one and done" in the tourney, it needs to happen.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

HGTV & Paste Magazine SXSW Sampler

There are a lot of music samplers out there that are lousy, but this one does not fall into that category.  18 of the 30 tracks found their way on my hard drive, and two of the tracks I already owned.  Excellent stuff, across multiple styles.

In particular, check out the tracks by Virginmarys, Easter Island, and City and Color.

This sure makes me want to be at SXSW.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kansas City Road Trip

Mrs. YDP and I headed south last weekend as my southern kin had a need for a new yellow dog, and my buddy Fuzzy just happened to have access to a pup.  So we all departed - Fuzzy and Joe from Minneapolis, my cousins from Louisiana, and us from Green Bay - to meet in the middle and do a dog deal.

The trip was a good one.  For me, it was the first time travelling through northeast Iowa, and I was struck by the beauty of the country.  We stayed in Cedar Rapids, which was a sweet little town, and as we passed through picturesque Dubuque, I swore we'd someday return to explore.

We then headed to Boyt Harness Company, but found them closed on Saturday.  Too bad, as we had cash burning a hole in our pockets.  Their loss was Rogers Sporting Goods' gain, as I picked up all sorts of gear, and Fuzzy ended up being a pack of gum shy of spending four-digits.  

We all ended up arriving at our hotel in Kansas City within minutes of each other, and immediately got introduced to the newest members of the Yellow Dog Patrol:   

Here's Cuz with his new dog, Honey:

Fuzzy took one out of the litter as well, and here is Mrs. YDP getting introduced:

Seeing as you can't just love up one puppy when there are two available:

Since we were in KC, home of the finest BBQ in the world, it seemed only fitting that we should go to one of Kansas City's best BBQ restaurants, the great Jack Stack's.  And since KC is home to my buddy Pauly and his wife, and my Aunt Ms. C, we invited them all to join us.  Great BBQ and great people make for a great evening, and even though some of us had never even met before, we had a grand time:

Since we didn't want to take two rigs to the restaurant, I drove, but made Fuzzy and Joe "kennel up" in the back.  At first Joe didn't want to go.  It is amazing the positive reinforcement properties that beer has:

While it was a long haul - it took us over ten hours to get home on Sunday as we had to drive through rain the entire way - it was an awesome trip.  Individually, it is always good to see all of those people.  Altogether, it was a blast.  Throw in a couple of Yellow Dogs, and you couldn't have beat it with a stick.

Thanks, everyone, for an awesome road trip.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Conclave Begins

A brief video which explains the conclave process very well.

We await our new Pope.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Taco Bell Redeems Itself

After a horrible Super Bowl ad - remember this?:

Taco Bell has redeemed themselves with a teaser ad for the launch of the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos.  Check out below:

Now that's more like it, Taco Bell.  The second ad is on brand, attention-getting, and will drive incremental sales.  The first ad?  All that is going to get is some marketing executive fired.

Way to bounce back.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bob Seger Green Bay Concert Review and Setlist

Green Bay's Resch Center was rocked tonight by the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bob Seger, and the latest iteration of the Silver Bullet Band.  There are few big names that bother to stop in our little town, and with the Detroit rocker, we were visited by one of the very biggest names around.

In all of my concerts, I had never seen Seger before.  That's quite amazing, since he's one of a handful of artists in which I've owned one album (Night Moves) in four different music formats (8-Track, cassette, CD, digital). 

The concert opened with JD McPherson, whose rockabilly playing started the crowd off.  In fact, their final number got many in the sold out crowd to their feet, and set the stage well for the headliner.

Bob Seger stormed onto the stage, and for a 67 year old man, rocked like he was half his age.  While his voice could no longer hit some of the high notes, it was incredibly strong -surprisingly so - and he sounded and looked wonderful.  If I happen to look like him at a similar age, I'll be a very happy man.

Here's the set list to the best of my recollection:

Detroit Made
Tryin' to Live My Life Without You
Fire Down Below
Old Time Rock & Roll
All the Roads
Ramblin' Gamblin Man
Nutbush City Limits
Like a Rock
Travelin' Man / Beautiful Loser
Roll Me Away
Come to Poppa
Her Strut
California Stars
We've Got Tonight
Turn the Page
Sunspot Baby
Against the Wind
Hollywood Nights
Night Moves
Rock and Roll Never Forgets

Some notes:
  • I loved he included Fire Down Below, but it was way more horn heavy than the studio version.  Not a bad offering, but since it is my favorite Seger song, I was wishing for something more true to the original.  Regardless, I'm way happy he played it.
  • Mainstreet literally had people standing and smiling.  It was nostalgia galore, and was really sweet to see the audience reaction
  • OTRR was sung an octave lower.  While Seger did opt out of many high notes in the evening, this was one song that really sounded altered.  Regardless, the crowd could not have cared less.  It also was helped along with some incredible sax work by longtime Silver Bullet band member Alto Reed
  • Like a Rock was the surprise of the night for me.  It was never one of my favorite songs, but the lyrics rang so true tonight that it was chilling.  It was easily one of my top 25 concert moments of all time.  Seriously.  It was stirring.
  • I was surprised with Her Strut - not a classic by  any means.  I still remember the 8-track for Against the Wind where the track changed in the dead middle of Her Strut.  It was at that moment that I knew 8-track as a format was dead.  I could not have been more right. 
  • The good news?  Green Bay finally came out and supported a concert.  Resch Center was sold out and loud.  It was a great crowd, and we did our town proud.  Way to go, Green Bay!
  • The bad news is that there were at least a dozen people that I ran into that were fall-down drunk.  Really, Green Bay?  If you're over 40 and can't stand up at a concert, you have a serious drinking problem.  It's not cute, it's not healthy, and it's a filthy true stereotype for  our community.  Have a beer.  Heck, have a couple.  But when you have 17 and need your friends to hold you up and you're old enough to have grand kids, fun time is over.  You need help.   It's pathetic.  You're an adult.  Sober up a little and act like one.
Despite the idiots, it was a great night of music in Green Bay.  I'm glad I was able to check an amazing artist off of my bucket list, and to do so right in my home town.

Thanks, Bob and band.  We hope you hop across Lake Michigan again sometime soon and come see us again.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

University of Wisconsin Green Bay - A Basketball Bargain

A bunch of us attended the game last weekend between UWGB and Valparaiso.  For a seat in the 2nd row of an NCAA Men's Division 1 game, it cost $24.

That's right - $24.

And since it was in Green Bay, that means beer is available, even though it is a college event.  

Good hoops, great seats, and access to a frosty one.  If there's a better sports bargain out there, I'd be hard pressed to find it.

We will definitely do this again.   

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Think Your Day is Hard?

Check out what this dad does for his son.

If I ever complain about my workload again, I'm an idiot

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Groupon Good-bye

While it is a touch dated, the CEO of Groupon was fired last week, and penned a very atypical message to his former employees:

People of Groupon,

After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we've shared over the last few months, and I've never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it's time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.

For those who are concerned about me, please don't be - I love Groupon, and I'm terribly proud of what we've created. I'm OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I'll now take some time to decompress (FYI I'm looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I'll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there's one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what's best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don't waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.


One thing one doesn't see very often is humility at the CEO level.  Let's hope this is the start of something.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Running Hen Pheasant

As stated earlier, I took the Yellow Dog out Saturday to get her some work.

With all of the snow, there was scant cover for the birds.  As such, we had our share of runners. The more wily of pheasants will use their legs as their method of escape; saving their wings as an absolute last resort.  When the cover is thick it is nearly impossible to see them artfully dashing and dodging, but with the massive snow here in Green Bay, this is one example where one really gets a good look at a bird on the move.

Note as well on how confounded the dog was on the scent.  If it were not for my visual, we likely would not have bagged that bird.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Message from God or a Coincidence?

Yesterday was a very interesting day.

My day started with a 45 minute trip to my local hunt club to get the Yellow Dog out and get her some work.  With our recent vacation, I felt guilty of her lack of activity of late, and thought the time afield, even through our deep snow, would be valuable for both of us.

As I drove up, I listened to the Catholic Channel on my satellite radio.  With Lent here, I've tried to make listening to that station more of a habit, and the programming yesterday morning was very good.  The first show was about St. John Bosco, and all he was able to achieve.  I was deeply struck by the stories of the miraculous dog Grigio who saved and protected Bosco in numerous occasions.  I thought how incredible it would be to have such a tangible and unmistakable intercession by God in one's life.  It was awe-inspiring.

The next show to come on was a weekly talk with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whom I love.  The joy with which His Eminence goes about his business is palpable, and I just love listening to him speak.  The fact that he's considered by some to be a candidate for Pope is thrilling to me.  We'll see where the Holy Spirit takes him.

During the show, Cardinal Dolan was being updated by the show's host on a recent successful youth event, and began to utter "hallelujah," but caught himself mid-word and reminded us that during Lent, we don't say that.  He changed to a "praise God," and they went about their conversation.

I'm embarrassed that I wasn't aware that we didn't use the word "hallelujah" during Lent.  And I thought, that must mean that my favorite hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King, is never played during Lent, which saddened me.  I've always loved that hymn.  It has raised my spirits in my highest highs, and has comforted me at my lowest points.  It was the one and only thing that I demanded be included in my Dad's funeral mass.  

When I sing the refrain:

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  

I somehow feel a part of the heavenly host - the angels, saints, and those gone before us - praising God in a reverent and sincere manner.  The song always removes me from the physical and takes me to the spiritual.  

The Yellow Dog and I made our way to the hunt club and had a grand time (more on that in a future post), and as we made our way back home, we passed through the town of Pulaski, Wisconsin which is just north of our house.  In Pulaski there is a huge Franciscan church, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and while I had driven past it at least a dozen times, I had never stopped.  On this day, though, that would change, and pulled over to go inside and pray.

In my prayer, I went through my usual litany -  praying for those who are sick, praying for the church, offering thanks for my wealth of blessings, praying for strength against sin - but on this day I did two "deep dives."  The first was around a prayer for guidance and asking God to put me where He wants me.  I thought so much about St. John Bosco and how he was a tool for God's work.  I feel like I need to be pointed in the right direction to do what God wants me to do, and even fervently asked God to "hit me over the head with His guidance."  

The second part of my deep dive was around my sin.  I am a sinful man.  I do not live a holy life, and that pains me.  My heart seems constantly heavy in sin.  How I've treated others and how I've lived my life are replayed in my head over and over and over.  I cannot shake the chains my sin has wrapped around my soul, and I asked God for His mercy and His help.  I thought and prayed a long time on my need to go to Reconciliation; something I have not done in nearly twenty years.  

I wrapped up my prayers and returned home without incident, although the Catholic channel had now switched to some more "lighter" programming (which I don't like), so I switched to music over to my iPhone.  Once I got home, I cleaned up and met some friends from work at a local bar, as we'd be attending the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay men's basketball game against Valparaiso University (more on this one, too, in a future post).

We stopped at a bar after the game, as one in our group had won a $450 cash giveaway at the game and wanted to celebrate.  After a few drinks and watching the Gophers whoop Penn State, we said our good-byes and headed home.

I pulled out of my parking spot, drove down Oneida Street, and was at the corner waiting to turn left onto Lombardi in front of Lambeau Field on my way home when the current song on my iPhone ended and new song started.

It was All Creatures of Our God and King

I have only one version of that song in my iTunes library, from the City on the Hill album.  Of the 4,120 songs that were eligible for play, randomly, from my phone, that is the one that came up.  A chance of play of 1/4120, or 0.02%.

I immediately burst into tears and sobbed.  I struck my steering column and shouted aloud through my sobs, "What does this mean?"  It was a very emotional short drive home.

Throughout the night, I thought long and hard about it.  I developed three theories:

1) Coincidence.  Yes, the odds on this were incredibly long, but they were greater than zero.  With math, anything can happen, even the improbable (as witnessed by my friend winning the sweepstakes earlier in the day).  This was just such an event and nothing more.

2) God spoke to me.  He had a message, but it is one I still don't understand and I need to continue concentrate on and pray about in order to understand.  

3) God spoke to me, and the message was "Here's your hit over the head.  Now await further instructions."

Over and over again I thought this through.  Was this real?  What was being told to me?  What was the message?  Was God answering my prayer for guidance?  

And then it struck me: Maybe I was looking at it wrong.  My interpretation of the event had me concentrating on my prayer earlier in the day around having God show me where He wanted me to be and do what He wanted me to do.  I totally forgot about the other part of my prayer; the one that asked for cleansing of my soul of sin.  That's when I developed my fourth theory:

4) God spoke to me, and the message was "You know those sins you carry?  I've got them now.  We're good.  You're good.  Be at peace."

In the end, I don't know what any of it means.  I do know that I will continue to pray over it, and that my heart is now more open to try and hear God's message than it has ever been before.  But in my heart I do believe that this was a message from God, and this is now the third time in my life where I have felt His direct intercession in an event (again, more to come on that in future posts).   

I don't know what to say about any of it.  I know I shouldn't say "hallelujah," so maybe I just need to leave it at "praise God."

I welcome your theories and interpretations as well.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Men are Idiots in Commercials

We have an agency that we're working with to help us on a re-branding initiative.  They're a highly respected agency, and work with some world renown brands.  They've been very good and capable partners.

Yesterday, they presented out their full vision for our new brand.  They laid out their thought process, rationale, and quantitative justification for their recommendation.  And from my perspective, they knocked it out of the park.  What they developed was brilliant, and will be a great path forward for us.

They then took things to a next step, and showed us some creative concepts for TV commercial story boards, billboards, direct mail covers, and newspaper inserts.  And at that point, they completely blew the presentation, as none of what they presented from a creative perspective matched up the branding promise that they had just presented.

The disconnect was downright shocking, and it was interesting to see their body language when they were presented with that feedback.  The look of "Holy crap, he's right.  What were we thinking?" was palpable.

Ordinarily that would have been enough to tick me off, but the real thing that got me were the storyboards, as all of them centered around the tired cliche of the "idiot dad/man."  

When one looks at commercials, if there is a joke in need of a butt, dad/man is the butt of the joke 98% of the time.  Dad is routinely shown as out of touch, bumbling, helpless, ignorant, and clueless.  

I've written on it before, here.

And as a marketer and a man, I'm tired of it.  Damn tired of it.

If I have any say on it, our brand will not perpetuate that stereotype.  It might be safe advertising.  Hell, it might even be effective.  But it's not going to happen on my watch.  


Friday, March 1, 2013

Will We Ever Reach Dr. King's Dream?

I was working out this morning at my gym, and a TV was turned on to ESPN.  I kept an eye on the set in between reps on the lookout for an awesome highlight or some relevant news on favored players or teams.

During one of my glances up, ESPN was in the middle of broadcasting a commercial.  This commercial consisted of brief video snippets, and images of athletes like Muhammad Ali,  Robert Griffin III, Jim Brown, and Adrian Peterson flashed across the screen.  "Cool," I thought, "Nike must have launched a new campaign."  

Then the commercial ended to the tagline of ESPN celebrating Black History Month.

In watching the brief montages, it never once occurred to me that, "Hey!  You know what?  Everyone in this commercial is black!"  In fact, if you asked me in the middle of the commercial what all of these athletes all had in common, I honestly think the color of their skin would have never popped into my head.

But then ESPN made it the issue and brought race into the mix. 

So how do we get past this?  How do we celebrate the sacrifices made by Jackie Robinson, Ali, Arthur Ashe and other pioneers without the figurative tap on the shoulder and whisper, "Psst...RG3 is black?"

I know racism still exists, and I'm sorry about that.  As for what we do about it, I don't have any good answers.  I'm just a simple guy with a simple blog.  But for me, a 48 year old white male, born, raised, and living in lily white environs, when I see AP or RG3, I see the man.  I see AP and RG3.  I don't see a black guy.  I just don't.

Dr. King famously longed for the day when his "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  

Today, in the health club, watching the first part of that commercial, I was already there.  

I was.  I was truly already there.

But then ESPN changed that.