Keeping Your Own Training In Perspective

The next time someone thinks you are crazy for going on a “short” 10 mile run or spending three hours on your bike, let them know about Charlie Wittmack’s World Triathlon.

12,000 miles total, beginning with a 275 mile swim down the River Thames and ending with a climb of Mt. Everest. And sandwiched in between:

The 9,000-mile bike ride might seem relatively easy compared with the swim and the climb up Everest, but even there Wittmack has his work cut out for him.

“I have to get to the border of China and Kyrgystan by the end of October in order to get over the Tibetan plateau to India,” Wittmack said. “I’ll be riding over harsh deserts through areas with political instability.”

So…(talking to myself now)…you probably can squeeze in that workout today you’re not sure you have time for.

Rugby As A Positive For At-Risk Girls

Don’t be surprised if you see more stuff like this as school administrators realize that rugby is not only a very affordable sport to promote in comparison with other sports, but it’s also relatively safe and full of positive life lessons:

“There’s a new attitude in the house,” Del Valle said. “The girls are taking ownership. Rugby promotes character, trust, loyalty and honor. You represent your program on and off the pitch.

HT: ScrumhalfConnection and RugbyBuzz

Super Busy, But Check These Things Out

Check out the beta of Soluto. It’s a pretty cool idea–it monitors your PC at startup to find out what’s being loaded. After your computer starts, Soluto gives you a report of what was loaded, how long it took to load each program, and give you suggestions on which programs could be removed from your startup routine to not only speed up boot time, but also keep your machine running faster. All suggestions are based on the actions other users have taken with the same programs.

Soluto Screenshot

If you are running WordPress, version 3 is out. Some good stuff here like custom post types, which make it pretty much a full fledged CMS, and bulk updates of plugins. Nice.

And finally, here’s a great deal on a 7″ digital photo frame

KFC May Do Chicken Right, But…

Chick-fil-A does marketing right.

Thanks to a heads up from CouponKatie, we were treated to a sneak preview of Chik-Fil-A’s new spicy chicken sandwich for lunch yesterday, a week before they plan to make it available on the menu. Ok, that’s great. But they did a great job of marketing this new product. So despite being delicious (it was), they’ve also created a buzz:

  • The restaurant had special tables set up (with place settings) for those who had made “reservations” to try the new sandwich. There was also a hostess to take you to your seat and bring you your food. We heard at least two other parties ask our hostess what it was all about–a perfect opportunity for her to tell them all about the new spicy chicken sandwich and that it was not available yet. Manufactured scarcity and creation of a group/tribe!
  • Every time an order for a spicy chicken sandwich was ready, someone behind the counter would shout, “Spicy chicken sandwich for (whoever)!” There’s no telling how many people stood in line between the hours of 11:00 and 14:00 yesterday who wished they could also order a spicy chicken sandwich, if only they were special enough.
  • Our sandwiches were “upgraded for free” with cheddar jack cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. I’m sure all of these will not come on the stock sandwich once it’s on the menu, but after you’ve had a “deluxe”, are you really willing to go back? Remember, Elaine had never sat in first class before, but Jerry had. He couldn’t go back to coach, but she could.

So props to Chik-fil-A for creating a good product–it really was good. But what a great marketing job. I hope more companies become savvy to these type tactics. It’s in their best interest, and people with reservations love that kind of treatment. They sometimes even write complimentary blog posts about these experiences–more free marketing!

Clean The Gulf Now!

My friend Jen is a native of the Gulf Coast and was directly involved in mobilizing medical care for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. She’s now spearheading an enormous effort to mobilize individuals to participate in getting the Gulf Coast cleaned up…now!

This is a completely grassroots effort to do something besides waiting on big government bureaucracies or relying on BP to take action by using toxic materials.

There’s a website with more information on possible solutions that can be implemented and information on how you can donate to help purchase non-toxic materials to rapidly devour the oil and turn it into dirt while compensating local fishermen, charter captains, etc. to disperse the cleanup materials.

In addition to donating, please post this on your blog, tweet it, buzz it, Facebook it–whatever it takes to get the word out, especially to those who live on the Gulf Coast and have boots on the ground.

Here’s the email I received from Jen:

Dear Friends,

It’s Friday on Memorial Day Weekend. How hard will the Oil Spill weigh on your mind this weekend? Do something before you leave today!! And share this message with everyone you know, encouraging them to get involved and give – today!

Like the rest of my friends and family on the coast, I’ve never been one to sit and wait for anyone to take care of me. The problem in the wake of the BP oil catastrophe in our Gulf of Mexico, is that no one knows really how to “take care of this”. That stops now. I’m done watching in horror as BP makes a bad situation worse with the toxic dispersant Corexit, destroying and forever altering life as we know, life as the delicate sea creatures in the Gulf know it. And I’m done watching the government, USCG and local officials do their dance around BP, talking a good game but accomplishing very little. I’m done watching images of the marshes and wetlands die, and doing nothing about it.

You can join me. You must join me. This morning my team launched: http://cleanthegulfnow.org/ which is a site dedicated to educating the public with the truth about the oil spill and behind the scenes information BP doesn’t want us to know. We are issuing a call to action to contact your local representative to demand BP stop using Corexit immediately, demand they start buying products we already know work (like the Aabaco product described on the site), and demand that the USCG step aside and allow access for all citizens (including and especially the press) to the damaged site to document and tell us all the truth about the extent of damage.

Finally, and most importantly, we are collecting donations to purchase these nontoxic remedies ourselves and will utilize local, out of work fisherman and charter captains to put the product out along affected coastline. Aabaco can produce product at a daily rate that will cost $150,000 each day to buy all they have. Add shipping and compensation for the fishermen who will be dispersing and my goal is to raise a minimum $500,000/day. Any excess will be used to purchase new products we learn about which are safe and nontoxic as well. Information can be found on the site above. The sooner we start collecting the sooner we can start placing orders and using the product. Our goal is to deploy product JUNE 5.

Please – get involved. We need help on this in multiple ways. The $500,000/day goal is ambitious, but I know we can do it. Call your contacts at gulf coast businesses who are impacted. Call everyone you know. Send this email to everyone you know. If people gave at a rate of $100 each day, we’d only need 5,000 people donating. I know there are FAR more people across our country who would jump at the chance to donate to a cause that went directly to cleaning up the coast.

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cleanthegulfnow

Finally – share your ideas, questions and thoughts with us. We need you all. Together we are better.

Remember the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Thank you all!

Jen

The Shuttle Video You Really Wanted To See

Here’s my buddy Sam on NASA TV talking about the batteries the latest shuttle mission took up to the International Space Station. It’s ok…I zoned out a little when he was giving the dimensions too. I woke up when I heard about the nickel hydrogen cells. But after that it was all “blah blah blah….lasers….blah blah blah….ball bearings”.

Lasers and ball bearings are what basically run the whole shuttle.

Sam’s a super smart guy–the first person I consult whenever I have a battery question or can’t find my charger.

Just kidding you, Sam. As I’ve said before, I’m pretty much in awe of anyone who work in the space program. To me, it’s as if each of them could build a shuttle by hand all by themselves. Hopefully, the fact that both of my readers will now see this video will help propel you to fame!

Throwback Baseball Reminder

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow night is the throwback baseball game at Farragut High School benefiting the National Parkinson Foundation. If you can, go out to support this cause and see some great baseball!

My buddy Pat Dorwin was a member of the 1982 State Championship game at Farragut and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He’s been heavily involved in organizing this game.

Throwback Baseball Game To Benefit Parkinson’s Disease

old_baseball

There’s a throwback high school baseball game coming to Knoxville. In April 2010, Farragut and Karns will play a game to benefit Parkinson’s research. I got the heads up from my one of my rugby buddies, Pat Dorwin. Pat played on the 1982 Farragut State Championship team and later was a fixture for the Knoxville Possums. One word to describe Pat–“wheels”.

Both Pat and his younger brother have both been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and this is a great effort to not only recognize their accomplishments as athletes, but to use it as a platform to raise money for research.

I’ll be posting more on this as the date nears, but it’s cool that they’ve been able to put this game together.

For more information on Parkinson’s disease visit The National Parkinson Foundation.

KTown Cage Fights

flyer_firstProAm

My buddy Doug is the fight director for a local organization with an MMA fight card coming up next Friday. Local MMA fans who would like to see more events in East Tennessee should check it out!

Doug worked really hard to bring legitimate MMA fighting to Tennessee. I’ve seen him in many bouts myself, though none of them sanctioned, and participated along side him in a few Battle Royals.

Why I Give Full Articles in My Feed

With apologies to those who come here only for the ranting…

I have a plan to do a whole series of articles on search engine optimization (SEO) for bloggers. While the topic of full vs. partial feeds may not be directly related to SEO at first glance, I feel that it is in a round about way. After all, the goal of SEO and is to get more visitors to your site, and that is probably one of the goals you’d like to accomplish with your feed as well. I’m by no means saying that partial feeds are bad, and I think they definitely have their place. But for me (and probably most other bloggers) I believe full feeds are a more effective way to drive traffic. While much of what I’m about to say is based on experience, I believe I can back it up with logic and human blogger nature.

So first off, what’s the argument for partial feeds? It’s actually not a bad argument, and I used to subscribe to it myself. When I first set up my feed, I was sure that partial feeds were the way to go. I thought I had to do everything I could to force entice people to visit my site. There was no way I was going to give away all my content through the feed. Only after they loaded up the entire site, ads and all, would I give away my content.

But then it hit me–I’m giving it away no matter what. It didn’t take me long to realize that full posts in my feed were better than partial feeds, not only for my subscribers, but ultimately for me as well.

Good For My Subscribers

Anyone who uses an RSS reader is probably addicted to it. One of the first things we do after we read an article we like on a new site (especially a blog) is to look for the feed subscription button. And as a blogger, one of the first things I check every day is my FeedBurner stats, mostly out of vanity, because I’m truly flattered that people care enough about what I have to say to choose to subscribe to my feed. I feel like the least I can do for the folks who’ve paid me such a big compliment is to say “thanks” by making my site as easy as possible for them to read in the way they choose, and that means no ads in the feed as well.

But that means subscribers aren’t going to see any of the ads on my site in their reader, so they won’t ever click on these ads, right? Well…I don’t believe that’s necessarily true.

Good For Me

Think about it…the people who are subscribed to my feed are people who already may be interested in what I have to say. They are also likely to engage me in conversation by leaving comments on my blog. By giving them full posts in the feed, I increase the chances they will read everything I wrote. That increases the chances that they’ll want to comment on something I wrote, and that means they will visit my site. By contrast, a partial feed means that I have three or four sentences to entice them into visiting the site. Frankly, I don’t have enough faith in myself as a writer to accomplish that with every post.

An even more compelling reason–I think it’s pretty safe to assume that many of the people reading my feed are other bloggers. And while comments are great and encouraged, an even bigger compliment from another blogger is a link back from their blog. In fact, I’d much rather have a single link than ten comments. Again, providing the full feed increases the chances that someone will read something they’d like to write about on their own blog.

How do links back to my blog help me so much? Obviously, exposure to the the other blogger’s readers has a lot of value, but there’s another reason, and this is where the SEO part comes in. Search engines (especially Google) see a link as a “vote” for a site. So a link increases my “clout” with search engines, which means that I can greatly increase search engine rankings, which greatly increases my traffic. And I have to believe that the random visitor from a search engine is less familiar with my site layout and less likely to be wise to blog ad placement in general. This means that they are more likely to click on an ad than a regular subscriber who visits my site every day (because I don’t provide full posts in my feed) would be. More search engine traffic also increases the chances that I’ll get even more subscribers–rinse and repeat.

It’s win, win, win.

Full feeds reward loyal subscribers with the ability to read your site with ease. In my case, this includes keeping the feed ad free.

Full feeds reward you directly by increasing the chances your subscribers will visit your site and leave comments. One way conversations are fine, but I have those in my head all day, and sometimes I get tired of hearing only myself.

Full feeds increase your chances of getting back links, which increase your search engine rankings, and ultimately your traffic. Back links increase your exposure to other bloggers’ readers, and search engines are an excellent source of readers who would never find you otherwise.

I hope this helps those of you are trying to decide whether to use full or partial links, and I really hope I’ve convinced those of you who to whom I subscribe and are currently using partial feeds to give me the whole thing in my reader!