Your Weekly Update

Well, folks, this is about the going rate I suspect we’ll see here on the blog going forward. In April, I have posted four times to the blog, an average of once per week. That is a record low in the almost ten years I’ve been doing this. That’s what happens when your commuting time is taken up by, um, actually commuting. I did try the Dragon Diction app on my IPhone that someone recommended (thanks Chris), but it’s of limited use because when the phone does its auto shut-off thing to save the battery, the app shuts down as well (or stops recording). As mentioned before, it seems small bursts are about all I can do right now given how busy the new job is. Find me on Twitter and Facebook if you really care that much about keeping up with me more often. I’m not that exciting, though, really.

The job is going quite swell. It’s so different than my tenure at Ask, but it’s very good for me to get out of the comfort zone I was in for nine years. In some respects, I have to use my brain in ways I haven’t used it for years, so that has been a real awakening and an adjustment as well. There are most definitely times when I’m kicking myself and saying “five years ago you would have KNOWN that, dude!” But I know this – I’m doing more creative stuff via the marketing and it’s a blast to see something I’ve done be successful, even if it’s little victories. For example, I started little micro-blogs for each one of the stores we’re opening soon – and they actually get traffic! In the big picture, these don’t drive huge sales of course. I mean, I can’t see any direct correlation between two little blogs and the ring of a cash register, and I know a blog isn’t necessarily intended as a revenue driver. But the good thing about online is that numbers don’t lie – people are engaging with us more because of stuff I’m doing, and well, that feels good. Have a look at Pure Hockey Facebook activity since I started in early March:

This is, of course, a small part of a much larger intiative to completely re-launch the face and voice of two brands, but it shows that some of the stuff we’re doing online is working. The stripping down and bombing of two websites inevitably will affect any business in the short term, but I’m really excited, challenged and so ready to tackle the much bigger obstacles that lay in front of us. There is so much opportunity in the big picture and long run. It is a really exciting thing to be thinking about constantly.

So while it’s fun to riff on Facebook and Twitter about hockey and our business, the real work – and what I am judged and compensated on – is still to come. Re-launching two new sites and creating a voice in a noisy market is no easy task. We have two huge competitors, for example (Hmmm…..sounds a lot like working at Ask, doesn’t it) in a market that is arguably and relatively finite. There is so much to think about. So much to do. And I’m so jazzed to do it. To put up my best against their best. With some of the ideas we have, I think our best will be something to see. It’s all coming soon.

But enough about work for now. I just got my New Pornographers tickets. I know I can listen to the stream of the new album on NPR right now, but I’m holding off. Same goes for Band of Horses. I’m going old-school on these two album releases. I’ve heard bits and pieces here and there, but I’m doing this ’80s and ’90s style and waiting for the album release date. I won’t get to hold a CD and unwrap it with tremendous anticipation like I used to because I don’t buy CD’s anymore, but I will still get the thrill of buying and hearing a new set of  music from bands I love. There is almost nothing better.

I also got my Bruins tickets for the upcoming second round. The buzz around here is deafening – and eerily similar to last year. I’m kind of glad the Bruins got challenged in that first round vs. Buffalo, because last year when they swept Montreal in the first round I think they might have subconsciously thought they were the bees knees. Today, they must know that they are actually less of a threat than they were last season. I truly believe this team only will succeed if they are challenged, i.e., by being an underdog, or falling behind or whatnot. Look no further than the egg they laid in Game 5 of the Buffalo series. Hell, look no further than the entire regular season, where they played so uninspired. They’ve clearly woken up. Very exciting! So while I do want as easy a road as possible (I’ll happily take a series with Philadelphia), part of me kind of wants to see Pittsburgh. You want a challenge? That is a challenge.

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Check Mate

The oddest things sometimes light the match that flame a memory. Tonight I’m driving down Route 2 west, headed to Fitchburg and I’m about halfway there, in Lancaster. Now, I know I’ve mentioned here at some point that whenever I drive by the old Orchard Hills Skating Rink (which is now a roller skating rink), it brings me back to my childhood. A few miles before that, though, there’s a large tank, up on a hill in the distance, which you can see from Route 2 there as you roll through Lancaster. It’s the way we sometimes drove to the rink when I was a kid.

Today, the tank is painted a solid, pea green. But as I drove tonight, I looked in the distance at the tank and remembered the many times I sat in the back seat of the family car, with the bottom half of my hockey equipment on, staring out the window as the miles went by. Back then, the tank wasn’t pea green, it was red and white checkerboard. I can still easily picture it. Funny how much detail you can rememeber about certain things that are from 30 years ago, but sometimes you can’t remember last week.

Anyway, when I was a kid, I always associated that red and white checkerboard tank with Purina Puppy Chow. Because that’s what we gave our dog back then and the bag had the red and white checkerboard on it. It is, then, perfectly logical that when I was a kid, I thought the big tank held dog food, since both had the red/white thing going. As a logical adult, it sounds ludicrous, of course. But as a kid, it just made sense.

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I Don’t Know Why You Say Hello, I Say Goodbye

For those of you who aren’t aware, one aspect of my previous job involved trying to get other websites to use Ask search or technologies.  For example, go to this page. If you look on the left hand side of the page, you will see some Ask-powered technology. That is a deal I did. Anyway, for years and years I was trying to get this one company to use our stuff. I probably first contacted them back in 2002. I’d check in every six months or so until about 2008, when I finally gave up. You wouldn’t know who they are, but it would have been a good money deal for us. Each time, I’d get the same, cold, unfeeling response. A “talk to the hand” like experience. Made me feel like a gnat in old Cleveland Stadium. Whatever, right? You win some, you lose some. I won my fair share, so it didn’t bug me all too much. But I guess it was enough to cause me to write this post, wasn’t it?

So imagine my surprise when I actually got an email into my GMail box this week from the guy. He’s all friendly, personable, everything. Telling me about his son who plays lacrosse, how he’s a fan, la la la. Then he wants me to call him “to check in and see how things are going.” Are you even kidding me? My response was this:

Dude, nobody in business ever calls just to catch up! Especially people I haven’t talked to years!

Turns out he’s now very interested in working with Ask and he’s totally poking around about what I might be able to divulge! Bah! I just gave him the contact of the person there and closed out the email exchange. Glad I didn’t have to talk to the guy. See? He didn’t want to “just catch up” and I knew it because he never gave me the time of day beforehand. Annoying.

The IPad. Right now, I don’t want one. I don’t NEED one. The IPhone is a different story – it gave me a seamless way to ditch having to carry two devices. The IPad doesn’t have that utility. At least not yet. I’m not saying I’ll never get one, but right now it’s not gonna do the trick for me. I do love the idea of getting ALL my magazines via an IPad though. That might be one hook, but they need to show me more stuff that will make my life easier, NOT something that requires me to carry more STUFF with me.

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Spin the Wheel

  • Most of my online activity is going on at Facebook and Twitter these days. I knew it was bound to happen given the new job. The time I used to spend blogging is now spent driving to and fro. I was thinking it might be fun to find some kind of technology that would allow me to dictate my blog during the drive to work! But that would be insane.
  • I may sound like I am 80 years old, but what the hell is going on with the Red Sox? Why did they feel the need to turn opening day into a gross, slicked-up Las Vegas sideshow? What happened to just putting up the bunting, introducing the players and playing the game? Now the game IS the sidenote? The Red Sox don’t need to do that. This isn’t opening day in Houston! The people are going to show up without whoever that little kid is. Or Neil Diamond. Or Steven Tyler. The people are coming no matter what! They want to watch baseball! Or maybe they don’t. Is that what Red Sox Nation© has turned into? If so, I am sad. That was totally ridiculous. Speaking of baseball, I still laugh to myself every time I walk by Dustin Pedroia’s book. As if he’s been in the league 20 years. Is it that easy to get a book deal now?
  • Band of Horses mania is starting to ramp up in my house. You can hear their new song here and get their new album on May 18th. May is going to be a hell of a month! The New Pornographers unleash their undoubtedly sugary sweet new album on my birthday AND Band of Horses spit their new one out on May 18th!? I’m in heaven!
  • If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now – become a fan of Pure Hockey on Facebook, won’t you? Go here. You’ll be helping my children eat. How’s that for guilt trip! Hah!
  • Another thing that was sacrificed upon my taking a new job was a fantasy baseball league. I usually do three leagues a season. Two of them are free, fun, casual leagues. I’m still in those. The third one was a paid league and rather expensive. And very competitive. I may join back next season, but this year the investment wouldn’t have been worth it. I did win money last year! I think I won $500, in fact, so that was cool!
  • I’m torn about the Bruins. I’m a hopeless, pathetic junkie when it comes to playoff hockey, so I want to see them in there. But do I? I think everyone knows the end result this season and it’s probably not going to end well. I had a chance to grab some pretty sweet tickets to game one today and I didn’t pull the trigger – I just don’t know that it will be worth it this time around.
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