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Showing posts from November, 2007

No More Three-Card Monte for You, Kid!

No More Three-Card Monte for You, Kid!
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

When I became a dad, the last thing I ever dreamed I would worry about was my kids and gambling. Sure, they would gamble whether they made it to the bathroom in time, (they've won more than they lost), or whether they could sneak candy without being caught (they can't).

But I never figured I'd have to explain the basics of wagering to an 11-year-old girl. Or the problem with gambling with a church youth group.

My oldest daughter recently went duckpin bowling with the 5th and 6th grade class of our new church. Before she left, I got to do something that filled me with both pride and a foreboding sense of dread: I reached into my wallet and handed her eleven dollars.

Pride, because we have taught her to be responsible and mature about money, and this was her chance to show it. Dread, because I had just established a dangerous precedent, and I was staring down the barrel at her impending tee…

The Knights of Ni. . . er, Moleskine, Spirit and Ale

I am now a member of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale, an Indiana-based group of people who love, well, Moleskine, spirits, and ale. I am known as Sir Erik of Ritter, and have been granted all the rights and privileges of a Knight, because "Sir Erik embodies all that's noble about being a Knight and a Hoosier."

Wow, sure beats what the Knights Who Say Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing were going to do for me. Big thanks to my fellow knights, and especially Sir Hook of Warrick for admitting me into this august band.

Didn't They Have it in Blue?

Didn't They Have it in Blue?
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Erik is out of the office this week for the holidays, so we're firing up the Wayback Machine, and reprinting this column from 2001.

As I write this, it's the last week of November, and there are only 26 days to finish your Christmas shopping. And if you haven't even started your shopping, then you've wasted the other 100 days the retailers inflicted on us when they started playing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" back in August.

Before you ask, no I'm not starting late. The fact that I'm starting before the end of November is a major accomplishment for me. So here they are, the Laughing Stalk Christmas Shopping Tips.

1) Do your shopping in the middle of the week, during the day. Everyone but you is at work. Even your boss is at work, so you don't run the risk of bumping into him or her while you make your purchases. Tell your coworkers you have meetings all day, and hit…

'Twas the Month Before Christmas

'Twas the Month Before Christmas
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

The holiday season is right around the corner, and the stores have had their Christmas decorations out since late July. So we trot out a Laughing Stalk tradition, the annual reprinting of 'Twas the Month Before Christmas.

'Twas six weeks before Christmas, and all through the town
Halloween decorations were just coming down.
I went to the mall, for a weekend reprieve
And saw such a sight that I could not believe.

The place had gone crazy, the mall was just packed.
With new clothes and new toys and cheap plastic sacks
The store owners were praying and pulling their hair,
Desperately hoping we'd spend money there.

When in one of the stores there arose such a clatter
I thought to myself "Now what's the matter?"
Away toward the noise the crowd flew like a flash
And knocked an old woman right onto her butt.

The cheesy green lights and the canned Christmas music
Made me realize not a darn thing…

Pimp My Blog

If anyone visits my blog, they can see that I don’t like commercialism. I don’t put ads on my blog, I don’t write about anything that’s not a humor column. But when Doug Karr of the Marketing Technology Blog said I could possibly win $1,000 just for blogging about a few companies, well, naked greed wins out over ideals every time. They say every man has his price, and mine is $1,000. If I win, I'm buying a new Macintosh Powerbook to replace my aging and decrepit Mac G3 tower.

Pimp my Blog #1 - Doug Karr's Marketing Technology Blog

The Marketing Technology Blog – Doug blogs about marketing technology. Not the act of marketing technology stuff, but rather using technology for marketing. So if you’re in the online marketing world, add this one to your feeds list. He posts nearly every day. And he’s the one hosting this contest. Doug is also helping me promote the new IndyIndieCoffeeShops.com, an online map of independent coffee shops around Indianapolis. Thanks Doug!

Pimp my Blog #2 - Formspring

Formspring – I’ve tried creating online forms before, and they’re a royal pain in the hinder. You’ve got to label each text box, and then match it up with the html code. And God help you if you don’t know html. FormSpring lets you create forms on their website, and then post it on yours. They have both free and paid service.

Pimp my Blog #3 - PPC Hero

PPC Hero – It’s not about the old PowerMacs, but about Pay-Per-Click. If you want to make money off your website or blog, PPC Hero (sponsored by Hanapin Marketing in Bloomington, IN) is the place to visit. Learn about AdWord optimization, search marketing, and advanced strategies.

Pimp my Blog #4 - Search Engine People

Search Engine People – When my brother-in-law and I put our company’s first website up, we had the “we built it, they’ll come” mentality. I learned quickly that this just wouldn’t cut it. So I quickly taught myself about search engine optimization (SEO). This was back in the days of keywords, meta tags, and all kinds of tricks and techniques that search engines now ignore. If you have the time to do your own SEO, then go to it. It’s actually pretty easy if you have the time. If you don’t, then call Search Engine People. They’ll help you with positioning (getting the right terms), conversion (getting visitors to take the next step), and then tracking (counting the results).

Pimp my Blog #5 - Wrike Project Management

Wrike – Are you still keeping track of your projects with pen and paper?! You probably have so much crap on your desk, you’ve knocked your abacus off twice. Visit Wrike for online project management. It’s a web-based application that lets you do all of your project management on your desktop. No, the other desktop.

Pimp my blog #9 - Vontoo

Vontoo – Ideal for the work-from-home entrepreneur or small business. Vontoo is a Create-Send-Track personal voice messages, You can send permission-based voice messaging to any phone in the U.S. or Canada, specifically tailored to the recipient’s interests. The Memphis Grizzlies used Vontoo to sell tickets for an upcoming game. They made 6,000 calls and increased their Return on Investment by 4,000% (yes, that’s 4 thousand).

Pimp my Blog, #10 - GoCollege.com

GoCollege – “The student’s reference to finding money and getting the most out of college education.” These guys will help you choose between the different colleges and universities, show you how to get into college, help you find money to go to college, and even show you how to survive once you get there.

I Can't Believe It's Not Deadly

I Can't Believe It's Not Deadly
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

What is it about zero tolerance that turns school administrators into zombies who enforce their rules with all the compassion and understanding of a German prison guard?

"Nein, you may not haff two potatoes, only one!"

Whenever a ne'er-do-well student breaks the no drugs/no weapons rules, they are usually -- and rightly so -- suspended or expelled from school. But "zero tolerance" means "absolutely no tolerance whatsoever, even at the risk of our common sense."

Fourteen-year-old Amber Dauge of Moncks Corner, South Carolina fell victim to this kind of clenched-up tunnel vision when she was expelled for bringing a knife to school. You'd think she brought a 12-inch survival knife that would make Rambo squeal with delight. But no, it was a butter knife.

According to the Charleston (South Carolina) Post and Courier, on October 3, Amber made toast for breakfast, and dec…

You're Doing a Heck of a Job, FEMA

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency committed the unpardonable sin of faking a press conference about their performance at the southern California wildfires, by having their own public affairs (public relations) employees pass as reporters and lob softball questions at the FEMA Director, Vice Admiral Harvey Johnson.

Johnson replaced disgraced director Michael "You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie" Brown, the guy President Bush praised on national TV a few days before firing him for blowing the government's Hurricane Katrina response.

Believe it or not, lying is a big no-no in public relations. Unfortunately, it's something the Bush administration has gotten good at -- hiring PR professionals to create news broadcasts and pass them off as real, paying columnists to write good things about them, and now this.

The pretend journalists asked only easy questions to shine FEMA in the best possible light. Bu…