Finally Friday, Jan. 10th Edition

I’m trying something new, a weekly post. Let’s see how long I can keep up with it!

I am part of a group here at work we call the Marketing Content Team. We focus on making a connection between Work & Life in the spirit of broadening the reach of our brand through various media: blog posts, videos, and audio from our podcast that we share across multiple social media platforms. We were talking yesterday about how the average length of blog posts (in general, based on actual statistics) has grown over the last few years, and about how most successful blogs have a focus. It won’t work if you try to cover everything.

Not sure what it means to be successful at blogging, but I’m guessing it means you have a lot of readers or subscribers, and possibly it helps you make money? I don’t have a lot of either happening here, and perhaps it’s because I don’t have a specific topic I focus on. I think that’s because I’m interested in a lot of different things and have many opinions on them to share. I respect my readers/subscribers and I’m grateful for your input and interaction, but at the end of the day I believe I’m still writing these posts for me. I do wish I’d get more questions, responses, or arguments from readers, but I don’t think it will determine whether I continue doing this or not.

On to continuing to blog about pretty much anything & everything!

In the off chance you’re not following me on Goodreads, here’s what I’m currently reading/trying to finish:

 

Half a War (Shattered Sea, #3)

 

The Massacre of Mankind

 

The Blues won last night

as they should have against a far inferior Buffalo Sabers team. They’ve got a young Captain, center Jack Eichel, who is the kind of player I’d probably root for when he’s not playing the Blues. He scored a goal and really looked like he was getting frustrated his team was getting spanked, probably knowing he was one of only a few good players and couldn’t do everything himself. The Blues won 5-1

The Cardinals made a trade

Yes, I’m still a baseball fan, and while the Cardinals get mentioned in conversations about blockbuster deals and potential trades, their ownership/management seldom seems willing to buck up for the marquee players. Yes, they made a deal last winter for Paul Goldschmidt, a bonafide star, but they’ve been few and far between since Albert Pujols left all those years ago. The club seems content to make money hand over fist, be near the top of the attendance numbers every season, but not, from the fans’ perspectives, do whatever it takes to be a championship team again.

 

 

Image result for JOSE MARTINEZ

Image Credits: Creator: Dilip Vishwanat Credit: MLB Photos via Getty Images Copyright:2019 Major League Baseball Photos

 

That said, they traded Jose Martinez, a fan & clubhouse favorite, and rookie Randy Arozarena, to Tampa Bay for lefthanded pitching prospect Matt Liberatore. He’s a very highly touted/rated prospect, but it’s the offense that failed them in the playoffs last season, so every is still scratching their heads about what the organization might (hopefully) do to improve in that regard. Yes, there’s a blockbuster out there waiting to happen- Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado is likely to be traded this winter, one of the best at the position- and some think this deal could be a precursor to the Cards making a big move, but I doubt it happens.

That’s it for today. I could rant for hours about the dumbest president in our nation’s history, the lies, his sycophantic cabinet (I’m looking at your stupid face, Mike Pompeo) and the most evil person in Washington D.C. (Mitch McConnell for those not keeping score) but I won’t. Have a great weekend!

Missed it by *that* much

It’s a new year, and you know what THAT means, right? Another year where I tell myself I’ll write more, starting by posting to my blog (at least) once every day…

laughs

Now that we’re all done laughing at the idea, I bring your attention to the date, January 2, 2020, so we can chuckle again because I’ve already failed in my quest. So… onward we go, and maybe if I finish the year with 363 days of posting I can look back in anguish at my inability to even log in to WordPress yesterday, but that’s unlikely to happen. I’ll just move ahead. Join me, won’t you?

I always have a lot to say but I usually say it on Twitter, or I say it on the podcast we started at work last year, or simply at home with the (mostly) like minded love of my life, but I’d enjoy more involvement from you readers; more dialogue, more arguments, so I’m going to try and put more of those things here this year. STLB_Logo_twitter

In 2020 I’ll be discussing St. Louis Blues hockey, my kids, food, books I’ve read, music I’ve listened to, blogs, Tweets, politics, the ongoing demise of humanity, all the ways the place I live (St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) is great and/or cool AND the ways in which it’s decidedly NOT. If I offend, it’s probably not my intention, but I will not apologize. You can choose to not read it. OR, maybe comment and let’s talk about it. I can be reasonable in the face of reasonable objection.

The Blues are in 1st place as 2020 begins, coming off their 1st ever Stanley Cup win. I’m still riding the high of that so not much that happens this season will bother me, though I did pick them to repeat, which almost never happens in the NHL. While I’ll remain a loyal Blues fan forever, I struggle with the NHL becoming more and more of a burning pile of garbage in the way the league is run, the rules they make/enforce, and how they handle themselves from an executive standpoint. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, indeed.

file4

We subscribe to Disney+ and for me, The Mandalorian alone is worth the cost. Very excited for Season 2. I grew up on Star Wars, and I’ve passed my love along to my kids, though at times I almost regret it. Our 4yo is in character (and costume!) nearly 24/7 and it’s exhausting. This Christmas was wall to wall Star Wars LEGO and they’re a source of contention between our boys on a daily basis. Neither (4 & 11) have seen all the movies, but we’re slowly getting there. Empire Strikes Back is still my favorite, The Last Jedi was near the bottom of my list, and as of today I’ve not yet seen Rise of Skywalker, so no spoilers, thanks.

I missed my “number of books I plan to read this year” goal for 2019 by a only a few, and currently I’m close to finishing The Massacre of Mankind, by Stephen Baxter, and Half a War, by Joe Abercrombie. The former is a sequel to “The War of the Worlds,” and though it was published in 2017 it’s got the same dry, British voice of the original 19th Century tale. The latter is the finale of a trilogy from one of my favorite all-time authors so you can probably guess which I’m enjoying more. I recommend both. Question: will you finish a book even if you don’t like it? I tend to be unable to leave a book unfinished. Maybe it’s an OCD thing. Follow me on Goodreads!

I’ll leave today on this: I will vote for the Democratic nominee, regardless of who he or she turns out to be. You should too. Whether the election is fair/legal/upheld/etc remains to be seen and is largely out of our hands, but it’s the only recourse we have to have even a remote chance of ending the nightmare that is our current state of government in this country. Have a great 2020!

 

Reblog: Office Essentials St. Louis Technology Spotlight: Kaldi’s Coffee

I do some writing for my company’s (Office Essentials) blog on occasion and this is my most recent piece. You can find the original HERE and feel free to browse, share or comment on past articles, by me or any of the other excellent folk there. 

As part of my ongoing look at how St. Louis companies use technology, I recently had the opportunity to talk with Frank McGinty, Director of Sales and Marketing for Kaldi’s Coffee in St. Louis, Missouri. Kaldi’s is just one well-known, local partner for Office Essentials and I thought it would be interesting to know a bit about how they utilize technology in their business to bring about the product that is known so well.

Kaldi’s is known for their hand-roasted coffees, but make no mistake, they’re a modern company who understands how to integrate their time-tested, manual procedures with the benefits of today’s technological advances.

I asked Frank to describe the different ways Kaldi’s brings tech into their world of hand-crafted products.

“The first one that comes to mind is with roasting specifically. Everything is still- I call it hand-roasted because the guys are still altering dials that control the open flame, right? But they have a piece of technology that kind of tracks, due to two temperature probes and timers, it’ll essentially track the trajectory of the roast.”

You can picture the massive, old bean roasters, with their rotating blades and huge hoppers, adapted and attached by a few wires to these probes which are then attached to a computer screen or a laptop computer that is tracking the rise and fall of the temperature of the beans in this particular roast over time.

“They’ll pre-warm the barrel, add coffee, then the temperature drops, plateaus and then recovers, then starts increasing as the roast progresses, being able to throw that data on a chart they’re able to save for every roast. Then afterward, as they go back and taste the coffee they can say, “Hey, the recipe you did last Tuesday for this house blend is the best I’ve ever tasted, let’s save that as a new trajectory.” We use that equipment quite a bit.”

Kaldi’s uses these recipes as roadmaps to replicate certain roasts, but it’s nothing that you can simply plug into the computer then set on the roaster and walk away.

“We will kind of copy and paste these trajectories making sure we’re all on the same page with how heat and time are applied to the same product across our brands- We’ve got two other brands. One is Honolulu Coffee Company in Hawaii and the other one is called Frothy Monkey Roasting Company- but the roasters are always there manually manipulating the temperature on the beans, following along with the tracking data we’ve been able to log.”

As you might imagine, they didn’t always have these probes and monitors attached to computers that can log everything and store it for quick retrieval. Technology plays a much larger role in Kaldi’s products today than ever before.

“Yeah, literally only maybe five, six years ago, the guys had a clipboard and pencil and they had waypoints when they would check the time and make notes. As I mentioned, the temperature dips then recovers, and they’d have to log it, things like, “after 1:26 recovery happened- four minutes until the first crack,” throughout the entire roast. The first crack is like the audible sound of popcorn, it’s actually the cell structure of the coffee bean rupturing. They would manually write this down for every single roast we did, and we would just have charts and charts and charts”

So, from the days of their roasters carrying a stopwatch, a pad of paper and a pencil, to today when computers log temperature changes and times for their roasts, Kaldi’s compiles their data and stores it in the Cloud making it easier than ever to share data with their entire company and their partners. This includes all the information they use to run their business.

“We have a guy on our team who built a data analytics program through Power BI (a Microsoft application) and he’s essentially able to pull all of our inventory, sales, and customer information. It’s kind of a combination between a CRM and a data analytics tool. That’s helped us a lot from a customer support, customer service standpoint: What does their product mix look like? How often do they order? And everything in between. And again, before, it was just a bunch of Excel spreadsheets with information.”

The last aspect of technology that Kaldi’s utilizes, and very well I might add, is social media. It’s almost a necessity in today’s business world, to stay in front of customers and investors and I asked Frank if Kaldi’s had someone dedicated to that mission.

“Yeah, for sure. She oversees all of that and all of our community events, charities, donations, event activations, that kind of stuff. She’s managing and she and I work together quite a bit. We’re always trying to figure out through like, Instagram Insights, for example, and all the data we get from that is like, what’s working? What’s not to like? Like lately we’ve been doing giveaways. So, you know, Mother’s Day, give away a free coffee class, or a Cardinals ticket giveaway, and it’s been interesting to see the engagement and how the use of hashtags and all other things that are somewhat algorithm driven, affect what we do. Sometimes it’s just luck of the draw if it works or not.”

I appreciate the fact Kaldi’s relies on someone in-house to accomplish this. Frank mentioned it’s easier now to find someone you can hire from outside, but they prefer to handle it themselves.

“You can pay people to come in, a consultant, to tell us what might work or what all the data means, but you know, we’re trying to figure it out internally, it’s kind of almost beta testing, like, hey, if we do this, then this happens. Then if we do it next week, and it didn’t have the same effect- it’s a learning curve all the time.”

I’d say they’re learning a lot and putting their knowledge to good use. Their list of accolades is available on their website https://kaldiscoffee.com and while there you can also see other ways they’ve integrated technology into their business. You can also sign up for coffee classes, get tips for home brewing and a lot more on their site, including what’s next to come from this innovatively traditional St. Louis roaster.

I hate them, since you’re asking

Yes, I hate Mondays. Can’t think of a time when I didn’t. The weekends never seem long enough and then Monday rears its ugly head again, my iPhone blaring its alarm (I use the klaxxon sound effect) to scuttle me from my bed. Even if the night wasn’t restful, staying in bed fitfully sleeping would be preferable to getting up Monday morning and going to work. Mondays are so close to the weekend, but yet so very far away. It doesn’t seem fair, though in the grand scheme of things I am glad to have a full-time job that (mostly) pays the bills.

This one, like most, was full of fun: thunder, rain , and wind waking me a few hours before my alarm, rousing my daughter to get up and ready for school, making her lunch, making breakfast, it’s raining, taking the trash out in the rain. Good times. Driving to work in the rain, having some jerk riding my bumper in the rain, getting cut off by a teenage driver in the rain. You get the picture.

I’ve not written anything here in months, due largely to the (delayed) start of the NHL season back in January. I’ve been writing about the St. Louis Blues over at BleedinBlue.com, and neglecting my personal writing and blogging community of friends. Now that the season is over I’ll still be writing over there, but perhaps not as frequently, and I’ll be spending more time here once more.

This morning I was poked and prodded (in a good way, I’m thankful) by Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom to join in her “I Don’t Like Mondays” blog hop. Make it a point to click through her button and read all of the great posts linked up there.

 

I’ll be back soon with a few words on the 1st Annual NHL Blogger Bet, but for now I’ll leave you with an inspirational quote to start off your work-week:

 “It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.

― Walter Lippmann

I’m Bleedin’ Blue, are you?

I know I’ve not been writing much here, but you can follow me following the St. Louis Blues over at BleedinBlue.com!

I’m not abandoning my personal writing, just struggling a little with time management. End of the month is always busier for me at work, so I’ll have to work things out more evenly moving forward.

If you’re still reading, thanks!

Blues Blogging @ Bleedin’ Blue

Today I started as the newest Staff Writer over at Bleedin’ Blue, an awesome St. Louis Blues Hockey fansite. If you enjoy my writing, follow me over there and keep an eye out for articles and game previews/reviews.

My first article is up, you can see it HERE!

If you’re not a St. Louis Blues Hockey fan, first, shame on you. Second, that’s really not a big deal. To each his or her own, as they say. I will still be writing here, it just wont be about the Blues. No worries.

note

Almost the end…

The end of 2012, that is. I’ve survived the Christmas rush and I’m grudgingly back at work this week. Over the last few days I managed a bit of the Spirit of the season and wasn’t (I hope) a total Scrooge during the long weekend. Now I have a brief moment to reflect on the status of my blog and the NaBloPoMo challenge.

I take my inspiration to write for my blog from numerous sources and I enjoy prompts of all kinds. The wonderful people at BlogHer had posed the challenge of posting once a day, every day for the month of December with the underlying theme of WORK. Today is the 26th and I’ve fallen well off the post-a-day pace at this point, due largely in part to, well, working.

The month of December is often “soft” as we say in Sales, and it takes most of my mental capacity to churn out as much business as I can for the end of the quarter and the year, often meaning that I have little energy left over for doing things I enjoy, like writing. When I’m not working I’m at home with my family and have really been enjoying that time, so my writing has taken a back seat, especially this month.

I’m not complaining, just perhaps explaining to myself and setting the tone for where I am mentally with regards to blogging, writing and my job as we try to finish up, squeezing every last sale and dollar out of 2012 while preparing to start a New Year next week. I have irons in fires now I didn’t have when this year began, all of which are very important to me. I have plans for 2013 I couldn’t have anticipated back in January, and I’m thankful for the opportunities that have and will present themselves.

This isn’t my last post of the year, but I had some writing energy pent-up from the long weekend and needed to get it out. It’s been enjoyable, therapeutic and personal, but I know that at least a handful of people read along with me and I appreciate that too. I hope your yearly goals have been reached and that you’re busy working on your own big finishes.

 

 

WWW Wednesday 12/19/12

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme held over on Should be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

My current read is still Wheat Belly. It’s slow going, dense with chemistry so far, but makes an extremely compelling argument for eliminating wheat gluten from your diet. I’m going to try, we’ll see how it goes.

I never finished Cloud Atlas, came up <100 pages short, but had to return it to the library. Someone else had it reserved and I felt bad about keeping it. It’s definitely worth a read and I’ll finish it before seeing the movie.

I’m SO excited about my next read: Jim Butcher’s Cold Days, the latest Dresden Files installment! If you’re into mysteries, cop stories, fantasy, wizards, or even vampires, you’ll like the Dresden Files novels.

WWW Wednesday 12/12/12

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme held over on Should be Reading. To play along just answer the following questions.

 

WWW_Wednesdays4

 

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Right now I’m trying to finish Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. It started off slowly and I nearly put it down but now I’m thankful I kept at it. It bogged down a bit near the middle but now I’m on the home-stretch and it’s been a wonderful ride. I highly recommend it.

I’m also reading Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD. It’s basically a condemnation of what science and agriculture has done to wheat in the name of convenience and profit. I’m barely into it, but I have to say some of the arguments for eliminating wheat gluten (in nearly everything we eat) from your diet are compelling.

The last book I read was the very funny eBook, 101 Things to do Before the Apocalypse, by Jon Hanson. You should click on the image and go buy it today, it’s only $1.99 and would make a great Christmas gift for yourself or anyone you know who enjoys a good laugh. You can also read my review of it here on my blog.

 

The next thing I’ll read will likely be The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie. It was recommended by a friend (thanks, Jeffery, if you’re reading this) and is a sort of dark-humor, fantasy offering, the first of three in a trilogy. I’m a sucker for trilogies.

National Blog Posting Month!

I was reminded by the awesome Studio30Plus (via their Facebook page) that November, aside from being some other crazy writers event month (more on that in another post,) is also National Blog Posting Month!

 

30 posts in 30 days. Really, what else do I have to do? No excuses. Get it done. Because it’s fun and because I can. No really, I can. What? You don’t believe me? You say there’s no way I can write a novel, work, have a personal life, be a dad, help coordinate the Studio Features, post on my blog every day in November AND have like, three or four Thanksgivings due to friends and a multi-faceted family?

To you doubters I say, “watch me.” Rawr.