Saturday, August 2, 2008

My daughter owns me

I was working on my blog the other day when my daughter materialized.

"You need to take a picture of me and put it on your blog, daddy," she said.

"A picture of you doing what?"

"Holding a box of Crayons, daddy! That would be cool, daddy! You need to take that photo, daddy!"

"I don't think so, Brenda. You see..."

"Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!"

So, here's a photo of my seven-year-old daughter holding a box of Crayons. I hope you're happy now, Brenda.

Yes, there's a point to all of this. My daughter owns me and all of you men out there who will one day raise a daughter are in for the same kind of fun.

Here's the thing about daughters -- they're miniature versions of wives. And wives learn how to manipulate their husbands about a minute after they meet them. That skill is passed on to daughters. Fighting against it does no good.

And I did fight against it, indeed. When we found out my wife was pregnant with a girl, I said we were going to be strict with this one. Yes, we had been too soft on our son and things were going to change with our daughter.

I changed that little girl's first diaper and she had already won the battle against her old man by then. She'd been in the world for less than an hour and I was already beaten. I never stood a chance. That's just the way it goes. So, give up, fathers. You can't win.

I've attached two more pictures to further illustrate my point. In the first one, you'll see my daughter asking me to pick her up and hang her upside down by her ankles. Just look at the expression on my face -- I'm trying to tell her no, but it's obvious I'm going to fail (and that may be why my wife was laughing when she was taking that picture).

The next picture, of course, is one of me holding my daughter upside down.

There's just no winning with that one. My only sibling is a brother, so I was terribly unprepared to raise a daughter.

I'll get a bit of revenge when she's a teenager and starts dating, of course. I have a plan. A masterful plan. A wonderful plan. I figure on buying off some boy with the hot video game console at the time and asking him to spread a story.

I want that kid to tell everyone who will listen that he came over to our house to see my daughter and claim that "her father answered the door. He had a gun and he looked at me ... with crazy eye."

The real kicker there, of course, is the crazy eye. Any person who looks at you with crazy eye may, indeed, be insane and who knows what a man with crazy eye will do?

For the boys that aren't intimidated by tales of my kid's insane father, I do have a shotgun. And I'll make sure to make a big show out of cleaning it whenever one of those little brats shows up in my house. Maybe I should get a more vicious looking shotgun -- is a double-barrel or a pump more intimidating?

Of course, there's always the chance my daughter will talk me out of doing even that. No man will ever be good enough for her, however. I'm sure of that much at least.

Does this count as a mural?

I was reading an entry on the Coastal Commentaries blog earlier today about murals at Cape Canaveral.

I doubt that this photo from the town square of my hometown of scenic Benton, Ark., counts as a mural. I like it anyway.

If you want to buy a fine cigar from Michael, you're out of luck. In fact, you're too late by a few decades.

The building with that nifty ad sprayed on it now houses a barber shop. The "fine cigars" ad was pretty well hidden until about 10 years ago when about half the block in downtown burned to the ground. Once the rubble was cleared away, the fine cigars plug was found on one of the remaining buildings and restored a bit.

It really looks like someone needs to do some restoration work on the sign soon, indeed.

By the way, that's the clock tower of the Saline County Courthouse in the background of the photo. Neat building. I really need to post a good shot of our historic courthouse on here one day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Entrecard sucks!

Well, not really.

I did, however, read something on a blog earlier today in which the author said he only stops to read posts when a headline gets his attention. That particular author is one of my fellow Entrecard members and that statement right there reveals quite a bit about the service.

Besides, this particular scribble is all about convincing people of the wisdom of slowing down and lingering on blogs for awhile, so the headline seems appropriate in that regard.

Before I get into all of that, I'll go ahead and explain what Entrecard is and why everyone wanting to drive traffic to a blog should participate in it.

What Entrecard is and what's good about it

Take a look at the gray bar on the right hand side of my blog and you'll notice the Entrecard widget. You'll also notice a small icon that is, in effect, an advertisement for another blog. When an Entrecard member sees that widget, that individual can hit the "drop" bar and receive a credit. That Entrecard member posts a similar widget and receives a credit for every "drop" on his or her widget. Dropping a card on a widget is like leaving a business card and the recipient of the card will typically respond in kind.

The point of all of this, of course, is to save up enough credits to purchase ads and place them on blogs all over tarnation. Of course, anyone who visits a blog with an Entrecard widget -- whether they are members of the service or not -- can visit the site advertised.

Entrecard is absolutely great at driving traffic to a blog. When I signed up for the service, I was having a lot of trouble getting traffic. As soon as I joined Entrecard, I was averaging 100 or more visitors per day and things have only gotten better since. That's a very good thing.

If you have a blog and you're not a member of Entrecard, you really need to check it out and consider joining. I'll make it easy for you -- click right here and you're off to the site!

So, what's the problem, Hawg?

A bunch of traffic is one thing, but whether people are actually stopping to pay attention to the blogs they visit is quite another. I was thrilled with my increase in traffic until I looked at my Feedburner stats and saw that people were spending an average of about 1 minute on my page. One blasted minute! Drat!

It was pretty clear, then, that people were dropping cards on my widget and then rushing off somewhere else. It could, of course, mean that my blog just sucks, but I prefer to think that people are just in a hurry. Really. It makes me feel better.

I do like people to stick around and read my prattle. People who linger on a blog for awhile do things like Digg posts, click an add or two so The Hawg can have a little beer money or leave comments telling me how great I am, how horrible I am, how stupid/great the post is and generally extend the dialog I started. I suspect that most bloggers want the same thing.

So, it is a little depressing to realize you're getting a lot of traffic but few people are actually looking at your blog. I have read a heck of a lot of posts about Entrecard in which bloggers are promising to reveal magical methods that will help Entrecard members realize their maximum drops per day in just a few minutes. Such practices, of course, don't exactly promote the notion that visiting blogs and interacting with them is enjoyable -- visiting blogs and paying attention to what people have to say is where the true fun in all this social marketing is, isn't it?

And, it's tempting to be a drive-by card dropper, indeed. I noticed I found myself doing the same thing earlier today -- going for the maximum number of credits rather than slowing down and paying attention to some of the excellent blogs I was visiting.

So, I slowed down and made a pledge.

The Hawg's Pledge to Entrecard Members in Three E-Z Steps

Call it the Hawgifesto or something equally dandy, but here it is:

1. The maximum number of drops I can make per day is 300 and I don't give a damn. I don't care about that and say "phooey" to anyone who claims hitting that maximum matters. If I hit 50 to 150 blogs per day, that's fine so long as I'm stopping and paying attention to sites that I visit.

2. If I like what I see when I visit a blog, I'll submit a Digg, enter a comment or maybe even click an ad or two and see what the blog is promoting. I do believe that's why all of us bother to start blogs, right? So, I'll do my part and read what took you so long to post. That only seems fair.

3. If an Entrecard member drops a card on my blog, I'll return the favor. What's more, I'll actually linger around and pay attention to what you've posted and maybe even leave a smart ass comment or two. What a deal!


So, that's the Hawgifesto. Heh. I think I'll call it that maybe post it somewhere where everyone can see it. Yeah!

I've probably cost myself a lot of traffic by backing out of the "drive-by dropper" game, but that's fine with me. I'll probably have a lot more fun sitting back, taking my time and appreciating some of the fine blogs out there.

So, comment and discuss!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

How did Oklahoma get so cool all of the sudden?

When I was a kid, folks here in Arkansas didn't think much of Oklahoma.

It's not that we hated the state. It was more like we were just indifferent. Our attitude toward the place was pretty well summed up in the state motto -- "Oklahoma is OK."

OK? Well, OK just means not bad or fair-to-middling. It's really nothing to brag about, is it?

Generally, we Arkies headed to other border states for short vacations. There's a lot to do in Texas, after all, and Missouri has the St. Louis Cardinals. Memphis has been a destination as long as I can remember and the same is true of New Orleans. Want some War Between the States history? Why not see Vicksburg in Mississippi?

But Oklahoma? Most people who visited did so because they had family there and would complain of hot summers in which there was nothing to do but watch frogs fry on the pavement. Those of us who had fathers who graduated from the University of Arkansas heard tales about college kids making the short trip from Fayetteville to the Oklahoma line to buy Coors (even possessing that beer in Arkansas was considered bootlegging back then).

Over the past decade or so, however, that's all changed and Oklahoma has become a destination. All of the sudden, there's a heck of a lot to do over there. And I'm not talking about those blasted casinos and bingo halls, either (gambling dens are seedy and nasty regardless of whether the Cherokee Nation or the mafia is running them).

Here are just a few attractions that I find noteworthy, but there are a lot more.


Hell yes! a bunch of hair metal bands showing up for several days of fun. Yeah, you go ahead an laugh, but thousands of people flocked to Rocklahoma this year and last to watch their favorite pop/hair/cheese metal acts take the stage. Forget about all the mullets, bad tattoos, women who wear the same Iron Maiden shirts for five days straight and just think about the fact that a major festival has been drawing people from all over the country.

Here are just a few of the acts that appeared this summer -- Ratt, Sebastian Bach, Enuff Z'Nuff, Extreme, Living Colour, Ace Frehley, Kix, Queensryche, Tesla, Axe and etc. Yes, the list goes on and on and it must have been a heck of a great time.

Yes, I missed it for the second year in a row, but I'll be there next year (it kills me that I missed Enuff Z'Nuff, Ace Frehley and Kix this year). Rumor has it some of the bands that might show up are AC/DC and Metallica.


Go ahead. Say it. "An NBA team in Oklahoma?" Say it a couple of times and it still doesn't make much sense because such a thing would have been impossible 10 years ago.

But they pulled it off and the Seattle Supersonics are heading to Oklahoma City. That's impressive right there and one has to wonder when the NFL and MLB will come calling Coincidentally, the team can't be called the Supersonics as that name must stay with the city of Seattle. Some of the names under consideration are the Barons, Bison, Energy, Marshalls, Thunder and Wind.

Frankly, I hope they avoid going with "Wind" as that will only remind people of tornadoes and God knows those things have brought enough bad luck to Oklahoma.

On a somewhat related note, every time I hear on an NBA team moving, I think of what happened back in 2001 when the Grizzlies were leaving Vancouver and were looking for a new home. One of the cities that was lobbying for the franchise was Louisville and the proposal was to emphasize the city's, uh, "Kentuckyness" by dubbing the team the Colonels and building an arena called the KFC Bucket.

Now, that's comedy. The Colonels playing ball in the KFC Bucket. It's almost too bad that Memphis wound up with the team.

Oklahoma Video Game Exhibition

Yes, the OVGE may be a minor event, but I enjoy it. The famed Atari 2600 may be the star of the show, but that event is almost like a working museum of video gaming history. You've got everything from the aforementioned Atari mentioned through more modern machines like the Sega Dreamcast, too.

Jesse Hardesty started that event in Tulsa back in 2004 and it has simply grown every year. Honestly, it's a very unique event in the Southwest and I've spent a lot of money at it over the years. By the way, did you know that there are still people making games for those classic systems? True story, and a lot of those homebrews are available at the OVGE.

The Hawg loves his Atari, Sega Genesis, Nintendo and Sega Dreamcast, and those systems are supported very well at events like the OVGE. Finding new and used games, consoles and equipment at good prices at one place is very appreciated. You might be surprised just how many people still love those old systems.


While some of what's going on in Oklahoma these days may not impress you, I've been simply amazed at the bits and pieces of culture that have been added to the state over the years. All of the sudden, you've got people heading off to Oklahoma to do more than travel on business, visit relatives or play golf on aggravatingly flat courses.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm already sick to death of this election

The sooner the presidential election is over, the better.

Why? Because people are acting like idiots, more than usual this time around. Here's an example -- a friend of mine told me he got an angry e-mail from his cousin not long ago.

"Take me off your e-mail list," angry cousin demanded.

Why? My friend had expressed his support for Barrack Obama. That's right. A family member wants to cut off contact with the man because he's not voting right.

Meanwhile, we John McCain supporters get to hear about being too stupid, greedy and/or unconcerned with our fellow man to grasp the significance of Obama's revolutionary, messianic message.

When you add all of the normal "red state" and "blue state" chatter, the whole process becomes both divisive and obnoxious.

Frankly, I wouldn't give you a dime for either McCain or Obama. They're not worth haggling over, in the long run.

Let's take a look at these two candidates that are causing us to fight:

Barrack Obama

Yes, he's in support of hope! He's in support of dreams! He's in support of change! He fervently hopes that all of the dreamy dreamers' dreams of change are realized. Interestingly enough, howling about hope, dreams and change is enough to net you a shot at the presidency these days.

When you remove Obama from his hope and change rhetoric, however, what do you have? Well, that all depends on what group he's addressing at the time. The man's positions are confusing and subject to change. One has to wonder if we really know what we're getting with this guy.

Let's take the Iraq war, for example. During the primaries, Obama called for firm deadlines by which troops should be brought home, howled against "the surge" (before it proved to be successful, of course) and generally wowed the hard left with his anti-war stance. Now, well he's gone back on all of that quite a bit. Yes, he'll tell the left he was right to oppose the surge, then tell the moderates and the right that he's glad it was successful. Strange.

Need some more examples? During the primaries, Obama was a NAFTA critic, but these days he's claimed its helped the economy. He also dogged on Hillary Clinton about voting to list Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, but now supports that definition. And, about Iran, Obama made a lot of hay about meeting with terrorist leaders with preconditions for the purpose of diplomacy and negotiations. Now, he's mentioned that doesn't necessarily mean that such a meeting would include Iran's Ahmadinejad -- perhaps the most obnoxious anti-American leader out there.

Ah, the list goes on and includes nuclear power, accepting public money for his presidential campaign (great idea until he realized just how much he could raise privately) , etc. The point is this -- no one really knows what he's going to believe and/or promise a week from day, a month from now or a year from now.

By the way, Obama's against offshore drilling right now, but how long will it be before he changes his mind on that, too? Those folks screaming about hope and change could well be in for a lot of change, indeed. It might not be the change they want, however.

He's better off sticking with warm, fuzzy buzzwords such as "hope," "change" and "dreams" as he seems lost and uncertain otherwise. That kind of rhetoric seems to keep his followers happy, at the very least. It distracts them from noticing the odd radicals that seem to slink into Obama's camp at an alarming rate, anyway.

John McCain

Where the hell is that maverick McCain that wowed voters back in 2000? Where is the brawler that fought with his own party prior to running for president this time around? He's nowhere to be found, and that's a shame because he's the guy I would love to see as president.

Instead, McCain is running around sounding a lot like George Bush these days. That's risky business, seeing how Bush is slightly more popular than Osama bin Laden in the United States right now.

Yes, I know Bush still has his supporters and that history will be the ultimate judge of how effective the man has been and bloppity, bloppity, bloppity, blah. Still, the fact remains that Bush has managed to do at least something at some point that has irritated most people in the U.S. who have been paying attention. A president who runs around sounding like Bush is in for a bumpy road. I want my maverick McCain back, but it appears that he may have gotten lost somewhere in the past eight years.

The Republicans, honestly, need another Reagan-like character to help the party recover from the damage Bush has inflicted on it. People hate the guy and don't react well to a candidate who reminds them of the man.

How much has Bush damaged the Republican party? I know a lot of long-time Republicans who have despised Democrats since Bill Clinton was governor here in Arkansas. Some of those folks are voting for Obama simply because McCain sounds too much like Dubya. McCain has an uphill battle on his hands -- getting those disaffected Republicans back on board and appealing to moderates who don't want another four years of Bush is a tough job, indeed. McCain seems to be largely failing in that regard.

The irony of all of that is that, of course, is that Bush's campaign chopped McCain off at the knees back in 2000.


If it is true that people get the leaders they deserve, we're in serious trouble here in the US of A. The only good thing you can say about this election is that we've had the same two families in charge of things for the past 20 years and that situation will change regardless of who wins. Still, you'd think some better choices were available.

Honestly, I've not voted for many candidates on the national level, but I've voted against a hell of a lot of them. The prospect of heading to the polls and voting for the candidate I hate the least is disturbing.

Truth be told, people could learn a lot from the last gubernatorial we had in Arkansas. You had Democrat Mike Beebe running against Republican Asa Hutchinson. I was in the Hutchinson camp, but I didn't feel that bad when Beebe won the election. Why? Both candidates are honorable men that had the best interests of this state at heart. The political process doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing scenario, and even those of us on the losing side didn't come out that badly.

That, folks, is how elections ought to be. The current presidential one is not.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Foxworthy update

As I mentioned last week, I sent the ultimate redneck joke to Jeff Foxworthy.

Yes, indeed. I sent old Jeff a career-extending joke by shipping it by e-mail to his agent and following that with a letter to an address I found. One of those items ought to reach the man, right?

For those who don't want to click the above link and read my original post on the whole thing, here's the joke once again:

"If you lost your virginity to a Waffle House waitress,
you just might be a redneck."

I feel the need to explain yet again that I'm not picking on Waffle House per se. I love the Waffle House, but that joke's just a killer.

At any rate, I've not heard back from Foxworthy yet. Perhaps he's busy and hasn't gotten around to reading my joke yet. Perhaps he's still laughing so hard that he simply can't communicate.

So, I'll just have to sit back and wait...

Big Fat Update!

One reader, Jay W., sent in a revision to my joke that is actually superior to what I submitted. Go look in the "comments" section of this post if you want to read his thoughts.

Here is the revised version:

"If you lost your virginity in a Waffle House,
you might be a redneck."

Yes, that's superior to the original and I'm sending along a copy to the Foxworthy himself.

If ever a blogger needed an argument for being bold enough to have a comment section that was free of moderation, this would be it.

In other news

My wife is a wonderful cook and, as such, likes to watch the Food Network. One of the shows that pops up every now and again is Ace of Cakes.

Why do those people always talk like they're on drugs? Very odd.

Homeless in Little Rock?

While working on a magazine article about the deterioration of University Avenue in Little Rock, Ark., and attempts to restore it, I ran across this depressing scene and pulled out my camera.

It's sad when this type of thing is common in this city.

University Avenue, at one point in time, was the commercial center of Little Rock. That's changed over the past decade, but fortunately the University of Arkansas at Little Rock -- which is located off of the avenue -- is involved in an effort to renovate the area.

I hope UALR, the businesses and citizens' groups involved with the effort are successful.


Well, this here photo just got pulled from the magazine article I was working on. Why? Because it's "too negative," according to the powers that be.


So, you're looking at a The Natural State Hawg exclusive! Hot dog!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Razorbacks picked dead last in SEC West?

I really do need to stop reading preseason predictions for my beloved Arkansas Razorbacks.

Why? I usually get irritated. This year, however, I was irritated more than usual when I read that the Razorbacks have been picked to finish sixth -- dead last -- in the SEC West.

That's the type of thing, folks, that will just rile people in a state that almost worships football.

While it's true the team has lost its great backfield -- Darren McFadden and Felix Jones -- a sixth place finish just seems, well, wrong.

Why? Arkansas has finally gained a head coach in the highly-touted Bobby Petrino. Those familiar with the Natural State know well the talent-squandering ways of the former Razorback coach, Houston "Boxcar" Nutt (nicknamed boxcar by me because he's a bum). The one time Nutt showed a lick of sense in his time at Arkansas was when he fled to another school before he was chased out of the state by angry, torch-wielding fans.

Yes, Nutt will be chewing his nails, doing his scalded chicken dance and generally acting like the unrefined hick he is for Ole Miss -- a Razorback rival in the SEC West. While I do feel sorry for Ole Miss because the poor team has been saddled with a bum for a coach, the fact remains that Ole Miss finished 0-8 in the SEC last year and the team hasn't exactly had a history of rebounding from terrible seasons.

I can't help but think the good people of Mississippi don't know what kind of coach they're getting. Back in 2000, for example, Arkansas had a fair-to-middling year and wound up playing UNLV in the Las Vegas Bowl. The results were catastrophic and we Arkies had to live with the shame of seeing the Razorbacks wrecked in a minor bowl by a team that finished third in the Mountain West. Arkansas was the heavy favorite, of course, but the "Nutt factor" kicked in and the impossible happened that day -- an SEC club got schooled by a team that was widely regarded as inferior.

Back then, Nutt went to the same church in Fayetteville that we did -- University Baptist. Shortly after the Las Vegas Bowl mess, we saw Nutt in church. I told my wife I was going to go over and "talk to that man," but she told me to sit down. I did what I was told and my dear Marci, once again, kept me out of trouble. Ole Miss fans are in for some heartbreak, and that's a true shame.

There's a lot of excitement in Mississippi over quarterback Jevan Snead, but when has Nutt ever utilized a quarterback efficiently? Here's a hint -- one QB that wasn't "good" enough to start for the Razorbacks -- Tarvaris Jackson -- transferred to Alabama State, set some records and is now the starter for the Minnesota Vikings.

Nutt has never developed a quarterback in his life (ironic because he is a former college quarterback) and I rather doubt if moving east of the Mississippi River will magically enable him to figure out a passing game.

No, Nutt has worshiped at the ground game shrine during his career, and Ole Miss has running backs to watch -- Cordera Eason (who struggled last year) and Enrique Davis (a freshman). When Nutt doesn't have an outstanding running game, his offense folds faster than Superman on laundry day.

Will the running backs provide that running game? How good is Snead at scrambling for yardage?

There are a lot of questions, but I'll be one livid Razorbacks fan if Arkansas manages to place behind Ole Miss in the SEC West. Arkansas has its share of problems, to be sure, in that Arkansas is only returning nine starters this year and a lot of the offense rests on the shaky arm of QB Casey Dick.

If Dick benefits from the coaching that Nutt wasn't capable of giving him, perhaps the Hogs will finally have a passing game. There are a lot of questions, to be sure, but Petrino had darn well better find a way to make sure his team finishes ahead of Ole Miss. There's a lot of bad blood between Nutt and this state, and Petrino will catch hell if the Razorbacks actually manage to lose to Ole Miss this year.

We'll just have to see.

In other news, another Razorback was arrested the other day. WR Marques Wade is the fifth Razorback football player to be arrested this year, in fact. That's just pitiful and, even more pitiful, is what Wade told the cops after he was arrested.

It seems Wade almost ran over a police officer with his car and was picked up for driving under the influence. He denied drinking but -- get this -- said he had been smoking dope earlier in the day. Yes, kids, he claims to have refrained from that demon alcohol and, evidently, implied that hitting reefer madness was somehow preferable.

I'm reminded of my days as attorney in Fayetteville (the law sucks as a profession, folks -- avoid it). That was back in the 1990s and football and basketball Razorbacks were getting in trouble with the law regularly back then, and a client of mine dropped by my office with a joke:

Q: How can you tell if a Razorback has had sex recently?
A: He's being arraigned.

Things aren't quite that bad now, but I do hope we're done reading about Razorbacks getting arrested.

Cows keeping cool

Unfortunately, it's hot here in central Arkansas right now.

Too hot in fact. We've entered that miserable part of summer where 100-degree days are common. When you add the ridiculously high humidity to that temperature and very little wind, you end up with days in which the heat index climbs up around 105 degrees or better.

I really wonder how the South was bearable before that great invention, the air conditioner.

One thing great about Saline County, Ark., is that no matter where you go, you're not too far from the country. The population in this county is only around 84,000, and I live in the county seat (Benton) where the population is a mere 27,000.

So, I was able to get this dandy picture of cows cooling off in a pond the other day. Lucky cows. I was sweating like a pig and holding a camera while they were relaxing and comfortable.

Had it not been for a barbwire fence and my fear of bulls, who tend to guard their territory, I would have gotten closer and would have captured a better shot of the relaxing cows. Still, I can envy those relaxing cows even from afar.

Lucky cows.

How much does a house in Arkansas cost?

As the director of media relations for the Arkansas Realtors® Association, I track weekly average/median list prices and inventories from four housing markets throughout the state.

To see the latest report, click right here.

Yes, we've managed to avoid a lot of the struggles in Arkansas that have plagued housing markets throughout the nation. Prices here pretty much remained reasonable throughout the boom years and they've held up pretty well throughout the past couple of years -- quite a feat as declines have been the norm in other states.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

You might think twice about those inline ads

There was a time -- not too long ago -- when some underlined text in an article on the Internet would send the happy reader off to a source that would either enhance the content at hand or at least provide some time-killing fun.

That's starting to change a bit thanks to a bunch of double underlined keywords that are popping up as a means of tricking people into visiting an ad. Some bloggers have found some success with such inline ads, apparently, as those are popping up all over the place.

I've got absolutely no problem with advertising on blogs. Heck, I've got ads here at this blog that are rarely clicked but could, one day, provide a few bucks here and there. The ads I've selected, however, are pretty obvious -- a visitor probably isn't going to click one unless that individual wants to do so.

These inline ads are a bit different in that the primary reason they exist, seemingly, is to fool the reader into clicking on one and looking at an ad. I'm not out to pick on people over this, but I do believe a bit of caution is in order when one is considering using one and, perhaps, some input from an honest-to-goodness visitor might be helpful. Those inline ads annoy me and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Let me explain what I mean. Since the Internet became widespread in the 1990s, a bit of underlined text meant the reader would find something useful if that link was clicked. If the link didn't take the reader somewhere useful, the chances were good you'd at least find something fun. For example, here's a fun waste of time -- here's another one that is dandy and you can find some more wacky goodness right here.

The good old text link, then, is a useful thing. Well, none of the sites I linked to in the above paragraph are useful, but at least they wasted your time in a fun way.

These double-underlined, inline ads tend to be just obnoxious wastes of time. Just a bit ago, I was reading a blog and noticed a patch of inline ads provided by some snarky little bunch called AdBrite. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the underlined word "numbers" to see what would happen.

I got a big block obscuring my text telling me I could find great restaurants in my neighborhood. So I followed the link and wound up the names and addresses of a bunch of restaurants in Indianapolis. I live in Benton, Ark., so I really don't care where the Blueberry Hill Pancake House is located in Indianapolis.

So, that was a complete waste of time. What in God's name have we done to deserve this kind of thing?

Again, what advertising works is totally up to the individual blogger and that's fine. When it comes to inline ads, though, please think carefully about what you're doing. You might wind up aggravating more visitors than you think.

Based on the demo tracks, the new Guns N' Roses album will be fantastic

Everyone's favorite frustrating rock star, Axl Rose, has been running around and promising a new album for the past 14 years.

The fabled new album, Chinese Democracy, has almost risen to the level of the Beach Boys' unfinished masterpiece, Smile, for our generation. Well, it might not have risen to the level of Smile in terms of fans' obsession with it. And, of course, Brian Wilson did eventually complete complete Smile a few years ago.

But you get the idea.

The burning question of course has been whether Chinese Democracy is any good. I certainly think so, based on the demo tracks I've heard and wrote a review about them right here. Whether the record company that eventually releases the disc ever realizes a profit is anyone's guess. Rose and his revolving cast of musicians have, after all, spent over $13 million recording the disc so far and it's no secret that CDs haven't exactly been hot sellers for the past few years.

Yes, it seems that a lot of Internet-savvy types aren't shy about taking a 10-finger discount when it comes to music. Or, a two-finger discount in the case of those hunt-and-peck typists. That phenomenon has cut mightily into CD sales, so Chinese Democracy will certainly fall victim to such theft.

Truth be told, one can argue that the album has already been hurt by downloading. There are no less than 14 demo tracks flying around out there and they're not hard to find through your favorite torrent search site.

Still, I'd suggest we all plunk down our money when Chinese Democracy does eventually get released (and who really knows when that day will come?) That little disc provides the nasty, hard rock fix that has been hard to come by over the past few years.

I know I'll be the first in line when this comes out because I'd like to hear some more from Guns N' Roses. The band was great in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and this new disc reveals that the band is still great even if it's operating as little more than Axl Rose and a bunch of sidemen these days.

This disc, from what I've heard, is genuinely worth buying if you happen to love hard rock from the 1980s. Go find the demo tracks if you must, but pull out that cash when the thing is finally released.

Social marketing and the All Arkie Army

Arkansas bloggers, unite!

Or, well, something like that.

Just the other day, I was conversing with the intrepid FishHawk (see blogs here and here) and it occurred to me that all bloggers want the same thing -- a lot of attention.

What I mean, of course, is that we want people to actually take some time and pay attention to what we have to say. Since everyone and their dog has a blog these days (my rat terrier is picking out a template for his right now, I think) it's hard to attract a whole lot of traffic.

I'm a public relations guy buy trade, and there's one thing I've learned over the years. If you want people to pay attention to what you're doing, you've got to kick up a lot of dust. One person can't kick up that much dust here on the crowded Internet, but 20, 30, 40 or more people certainly could. And, that kind of activity would get all the members of such a dust-kicking lot noticed both individually and collectively.

So, the idea of the All Arkie Army was born. Simply put, that blog exists as a place where bloggers with firm, Arkansas roots can promote their work and keep track of other blogging Arkies. Why single out people from the Natural State and other folks who have strong ties here?

Curiosity, really. I've run across a few people, some of whom just live right up the road, who are bloggers. Getting them involved in a central effort would be a lot of fun, I think, as no one understands the point of view of an Arkie like another Arkie.

Alas, the All Arkansas Army is a strictly volunteer army as conscription is out of the questions. So, if you are either an Arkansan or have strong ties to this small, wonderful state, click on the slickly-designed banner right under my masthead and read all about it. FishHawk has joined up, and we need some more Arkies to follow suit if this little social marketing project is to work.