Saturday, November 1, 2008

Top Entrecard droppers for October

Entrecard has been extremely good to me since I joined back in July.

Yes, I saw my traffic jump overnight and it has grown steadily since then. If you want to boost your traffic, head on over to Entrecard and get an account. You won't regret it.

At any rate, here are the 10 most frequent visitors from Entrecard in October. I appreciate all the visits, folks, and hope y'all keep on coming by to visit The Hawg:

1. Picture to People

2. Computer Aid

3. Rambling Stuff

4. Authority Directory

5. Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars

6. Rants, Thoughts and Other Things

7. Kid Tech Guru

8. Stud Kickass -- The Webcomic

9. The Way I See It

10. WTF Do You Blog About

Join the Army!

I routinely recruit people to join another blog, the All Arkie Army. If you are an Arkansan or have ties to this wonderful state, I invite you to take a look at the site and ask to join.

For some idea of what we're up to over there, click right here and read all about it.

In essence, the All Arkie Army exists as a forum through which members can promote the stuff on their blogs and submit some new material, as well. Have a look, join up and get the word out about your blogs.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Hawg helps his kids hunt the big candy

My wife simply doesn't appreciate the beauty and majesty of Halloween.

Sadly, she just doesn't see the appeal of running around collecting scads of free candy. Fortunately for our children, The Hawg well understands the joys of Halloween.

So, I'm the one who takes the little darlings out on Halloween night. I've got a seven-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son and am fully aware of the importance of grabbing all the candy possible on that dandy holiday.

This year was probably my son's last to participate in trick-or-treating, so I do hope we made it special. Both of my kids got enough candy to rot the teeth of at least a dozen children, so I figure I did my job.

We're lucky in that our neighbors are very generous when handing out candy. Yes, in a mere 1.5 hours of wandering through the neighborhood, my daughter's bag was so full that I had to carry the candy that had fallen out of the top of the bag. Don't worry -- my son's bag was close to full. He made out just fine.

Sadly, we live in a part of the world where some people just don't participate in Halloween. Yes, they declare it a "the devil's holiday" and avoid it. That's a true shame -- I don't know how Satan figures into a holiday which is built around the practice of children running around grabbing free candy.

So, my son put on his camouflage, my daughter dressed as the "spider queen" and we had a great time. More houses are dark than when I was a kid as not as many people participate in the holiday, but I was glad to see the folks who did take part were as enthusiastic as ever and dropped liberal amounts of candy in my kids' bags.

I should mention a conversation I had with my little brother this week about Halloween. He came up with the perfect costume for my daughter, see. He said she should dress up as Mother Teresa.

She could run around the neighborhood collecting candy during the first half of the evening and then spend the second half giving it away. Yes, that's certainly in the spirit of Mother Teresa, but I doubt my daughter would have gone for that at all.

Every Halloween I also think of a story about my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. The belonged to one of those churches that hated Halloween. The pastor decided to have a "fall festival" on Halloween one year and encouraged the parents to dress their children up as Biblical characters.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law, smart-asses they are, dressed their two sons up as crusaders. The pastor loved it. That, folks, is funny on at least four or five different levels.

Finally, my poor cat, Itchy, hates Halloween as we make her stay inside. Itchy is a black cat and, unfortunately, those tend to vanish on Halloween. We'll let her out in the morning, however. She'll just have to deal with being angry, staring out the window and yowling at us until then.

I hope everyone had a great Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My plan to keep politicians from bugging me

Don't worry. I'm not about to engage in another "my political party is great and the one you like is full of idiots" rant.

No, I'm just annoyed as hell about the presidential elections and the local ones here in Saline County, Ark. I can't get away from those damned people and it's frustrating.

Here's what I mean. For the past month, we've had the "Obama channel" running on my Dish Network service (channel 73 for those keeping score at home) for the past month. That channel has been home to an infomercial that's just plain lousy.

To make matters worse, the World Series was delayed this evening to make room for Obama's prime time, infomercial extravaganza. Apparently, the lads in the Obama campaign haven't heard of overkill.

And just the other day, I had some local politician beating on my door at about 8 p.m. trying to get my wife and me to vote for him. If I can remember who he is, I sure as hell won't vote for him. I'm bothered by people all day long and I don't need more aggravation when I'm relaxing at home with my family.

Fortunately, Arkansas is small enough to avoid some of the more obnoxious aspects of political campaigns. I haven't had any of the "robo calls" from the Obama or John McCain campaigns and that's a good thing. What's more, I've got a DVR so I can forward through the lie-packed television commercials that both presidential hopefuls are dumping on the air.

The local politicians, however, still go door to door and beg for votes. I have a three-step plan to stop that nonsense and I figure on putting it in place during the next election.

Step 1 -- a big dog who looks mean

See that dog at the top of this post? That's Winston, our boxer/St. Bernard mix who weighs in at around 140 pounds. He's a very friendly pup, but he's a limping, drooling hulk of a dog who likes to bark at things. He looks mean and has scared the meter reader from the city utility company and a few neighborhood children.

My plan, then, is to chain him to a tree in my front yard during campaign season when I'm home. He wouldn't bite anyone, of course, but look at him -- he could do a lot of damage if he decided to attack someone. Hopefully, that bluff will be enough to scare of politicians. The only flaw here, of course, is that any sleazy politician who gets up the nerve to approach Winston will find out that he's a big baby who just wants to be petted.

Ever had a dog put his paws on your shoulders and give you a hug? Winston does that whenever he can. A hugging dog isn't exactly a mean dog, is he?

Ah, but Winston is only my first line of defense.

Step 2 -- more campaign signs than you can shake a stick at

In addition to my mean-looking dog, I intend to ward off those obnoxious politicians with a bunch of campaign signs. Before even the primaries begin, I figure on taking a look at all the contested races, choosing the candidates I support and then sticking their campaign signs in my yard.

Here's my logic. Let's say John Doe is running for King of Benton against Sneaky Pete. I decided to support John Doe so I get one of his signs and put it in my yard.

John Doe won't stop by and pester me because he's already got my vote, whereas Sneaky Pete might decide to pass my house by and bother my neighbors. After all, what's the point of wasting time talking to a voter who is already committed to a candidate?

The flaw here is that my wife might choose to support a candidate I oppose. In that case, there would be no campaign sign supporting any candidate in a particular race. The lack of a sign, then, might be interpreted as an invitation to show up and beg for votes.

Step 3 -- ask candidates to do menial tasks

If a candidate isn't scared off by the big, barking dog or deterred by a yard full of campaign signs, then I'll resort to a trick I used in college to get rid of vote seekers.

Back when I was a freshman, I was ironing a shirt. Some fellow stopped by who was running for student senate. He started to tell me why he was great and his candidate was an egg-sucking fascist when I interrupted him.

"I'll vote for you if you come in and iron my shirt," I said.

"I'm not ironing your shirt!"

"Then I'm not voting for you."

I shut the door in his face, leaving him standing out in the hall of the dorm. He didn't bother me again. Oh, and I made good on my promise not to vote for him.

A similar tactic would work with these people oozing around my neighborhood and begging for votes.


Follow The Hawg's three-step plan and you, too, could avoid getting pestered during campaign seasons. Of course, I'll be glad when election day has come and gone and we can get back to the business of simply hating the government as a whole instead of despising individuals begging for votes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Election Edition!

Yes, just in time for the elections next week. If this doesn't sum it all up, I don't know what does. Crank up that volume so Henry Rollins can yell at you.

And for a bonus, here's Beavis and Butt-Head watching the video!

Some fun, huh? Make sure to visit the other Wordless Wednesday participants by clicking right here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where the hell were these things when my daughter was small?

No, this isn't a paid post -- just a few scribbles about something I wish would have been around when my seven-year-old daughter was a wee baby.

Some products are just so cool that you've got to mention them, see?

Here's the deal. When I married my wife, our son was two-year-old (I've adopted the little stinker). So I was totally unprepared when my daughter came into the world.

Young Brenda drove me up the wall with her constant howling. If there's anything that makes one want to reach for a bottle more than a squalling infant, I'm not sure what it is.

Of course, you can't sit around drinking when you've got a young life that's depending on you for, well, everything. So, what can you do?

Ah, put that kid in a smart-alecky Onesie in hopes of laughing away all those frayed nerves, sleepless nights and all the fun that comes with raising an infant. So I found these things over at Blonde Designs while searching for a gift for a baby that would annoy a parent.

I don't know about you folks, but I would have been thrilled to get one of these to slap on my daughter when she was an infant because it pretty well sums up the joys of having infants around, doesn't it?

Yes, they scream all the time and can't do a thing for themselves. A good number of the early photos I have of my daughter, in fact, feature her wailing about one thing or another. And, of course, she couldn't tell me what was wrong -- that just added to my frustration.

By the way, mothers shouldn't be left out -- you can get a "Mommy Drinks" Onesie and join fathers in saying "God help me!" to the world. Fun, fun!

Indeed, that Onesie might be horrible, but it compliments my odd sense of humor just fine. I should point out that I really do enjoy being a parent -- something I must mention as some of my childless friends tend to look nervous and scared if they're on the verge of parenthood and hear my relate some tales of raising children.

Rookies. There's just no way to understand the mixture of joy and frustration that come with children until you've actually been there, is there.

So, what do y'all think? Are these Onesies great or absolutely monstrous?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Arkansas' severe image problem

Back when I was in law school at the University of Arkansas, I lived next door to three Palestinians.

They were all engineering students and one of them, Sam, was raised in a Catholic, English-speaking part of his country. One of the most popular shows there was The Beverly Hillbillies.

Sam and his family watched the Beverly Hillbillies for years. When he told his parents he had chosen to attend the University of Arkansas, his mother started crying and was afraid her son was heading off to Hicksville, U.S.A.

Yes, she assumed that the people poor Sam would deal with would be like the unrefined rubes on the Beverly Hillbillies and she was afraid for her son. Even among some people in the United States, Arkansas is regarded as an area crawling with gun-wielding hicks who are racist, violent, lacking even in the most rudimentary social skills and dumb as posts.

Now, Sam's mother and father came to Fayetteville to visit their son and see how he was holding up in college. They were pleasantly surprised, as are most people who bother to spend any time here.

I'll put it this way. The very reason I lived next door to three Palestinians is that all of them were engineering students at the University of Arkansas. I met a ton of international students while in Fayetteville and most of them were earning their degrees in engineering.

Why? Because we've got one of the best engineering programs anywhere and it represents a phenomenal value -- reputation and price bring a lot of international students to the UA. That engineering school, see, is something that people not familiar with Arkansas simply wouldn't expect to find here.

They probably wouldn't expect to discover that the University of Arkansas has the top creative writing program in the nation and the only masters in agricultural law in the nation. I earned my bachelor's degree at Hendrix College in Conway, a school that manages to fly under the radar in spite of the fact that it has a great academic reputation (the fact that it's located in the middle of Arkansas causes a lot of people not to give it a second look, sadly).

That's pretty typical, really. There are a lot of great things about Arkansas that can be regarded as well kept secrets. People who have spent some time here know what the state is all about, and the rest of them can keep looking down their noses at us for all I care. I enjoy our low cost of living, an economy that tends to expand even when other parts of the nation are in financial chaos, a relatively sparse population, the citizens' almost universal distrust of the government and the charming habit of people to keep their noses out of others' business.

A little business

Actually, that's commonly pronounced "bidness" here in beautiful Arkansas.

"I started my own bidness last year, so now I am a bidnessman," someone might say.

"School was rough today," you might hear a child say. "Man, the other kids were really giving me the bidness!"

Enough of that. Every now and again, it's important to take care of a little housecleaning here at The Natural State Hawg. So, I'll do that now. Don't worry -- it should be relatively painless and there's even an audience participation part of this post, so stay tuned.

The Super Blogger Award!

Theresa over at A Bumpy Path was handing out awards, and I couldn't resist the urge up one of the little darlings. So, I'm now the proud owner of the Super Blogger award. To be honest, Theresa's instructions on this award are fairly vague -- "If you're a regular visitor, help yourself."

So, I have helped myself to this award and I'm inviting all you regular readers (you know who you are) to do the same. I like that method of giving out awards as there are more than a few of them out there that have a lot of strings attached.

That's fine with me, of course, but I always appreciate a no-hassle award, and that's exactly what The Super Blogger award is. We have approached an award on another blog in which I'm heavily involved, The All Arkie Army, the same way. Handing someone an award and saying "good job" is a wonderful thing -- it's a sincere honor.

By the way, Theresa is one of the nicest bloggers out there. She is a member of the All Arkie Army and is one of those people who gave me a lot of encouragement, advice and technical tips when I started blogging about three months ago. Check out her blogs if you haven't already done so -- she runs A Bumpy Path and Eyebald.

Paid posts?

Now, here's the audience participation part I mentioned earlier. I've been thinking about writing more paid posts, something I haven't done just a whole lot of in the past. Why? I spend a hell of a lot of time writing for and promoting this blog and the aforementioned All Arkie Army. It would be nice to make a little cash here and there.

Initially, I thought some passive advertising was the way to go, but Google AdSense simply isn't getting the job done. I mention Google AdSense because that's the only service that has actually made me any money (the rest of them have been duds).

Here's the breakdown on how rotten that service has been. I started running AdSense three months ago and, during that time, have recorded 40,899 page impressions (those ads have popped up on my blogs that many times), yet have only gotten 207 clicks. To date, then, I have made $79.49 -- I haven't even hit that $100 mark yet and I can't cash out until I do.

And, that's the most lucrative service I've tried. Here's the problem -- no one wants to click on the AdSense ads. I can't say I blame them. I rarely click on them, either, unless I'm dealing with a blogger that I really like and that individual has put up a fantastic post (kind of like a tip, see). Usually, however, I just ignore those ads and I'm sure that is what's happening on my blog.

So, my question to you good people is this -- does it seem cheap and mercenary to get more paid posts? Would that discourage people from visiting my blog? Are there better alternatives to making a little cash here and there than paid posts?

I'd love to hear some honest responses to those questions. I get a lot of traffic over here and I'd like that to continue. People stop in and comment and that makes blogging worthwhile.

A sort of apology to Entrecard visitors

If you want more traffic and don't have an Entrecard account, click right here and get one. Don't ask questions. Just do it. The amount of traffic you'll get will amaze you.

One thing about Entrecard is that you can only drop cards on 300 blogs per day. I've been passing 300 visitors through Entrecard lately, so I've not been able to reciprocate on some blogs. I do apologize for that. I've been a reciprocal dropper since I started at Entrecard, but the site has worked so well for me that I've not been able to return visits as often as I'd like.

If I don't pay your blog a visit, then, it's not because I don't like your blog -- I simply can't keep up with everyone right now.

Digg kind of sucks

I'm going to scale back on my participation in Digg as the site requires a lot of work for very little reward. These days, I get about 100 shouts from people wanting me to Digg their stuff. In return, I get about 20 to 30 Diggs (on a good day!) on my articles.

I'd rather use Entrecard for social marketing. It seems to work much better. If you put in some time on Entrecard, you will be rewarded with a lot of traffic. That's pretty well guaranteed.

I am impressed with Reddit, however. Danny over at the Mortgage and More Blog was kind enough to submit this post of mine to Reddit earlier tonight and I got about 90 visitors in around 3 hours. That's phenomenal and it beats the hell out of anything I've ever gotten through Digg. Maybe I should start spending some time over at Reddit.

Over the past couple of days, I've learned that writing about popular topics will absolutely drive search engine traffic to your blog. Over that All Arkie Army, I submitted this post about the tragic death of Anne Pressly, a morning anchor at KATV in Little Rock (you can read about the whole sordid mess by clicking right here and heading to the CNN story about it).

I should point out that I wrote my little blurb simply because Pressly was a very good person who fell victim to the raging crime problem in Little Rock. I didn't go searching for keywords that would drive traffic to the All Arkie Army -- I figured there were enough things floating around on the Internet about Pressly that my little post would get lost in the shuffle, in fact. However, that post did hit the search engines and the Army received a ton of traffic.

That probably won't happen very often as I ramble on about all kinds of random junk and not much of it is exactly popular. Regardless, I was schooled in what some good key words can do for you.

That's all, folks!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to make soccer popular in the U.S. (Part 2)

A few days ago, I posted a plan -- a brilliant plan that would make soccer popular in the United States.

If you haven't seen it yet, you need to take a look at it by clicking right here. Why do I say it's a brilliant plan? Because I thought of it in conjunction with my little brother (hereafter referred to as The Defector because he left Arkansas to be an optometrist in North Carolina) and he's smarter than your good friend, The Hawg. He graduated first in his class after earning his degree in chemical engineering from the University of Arkansas and graduated second after earning his optometry degree from Chicago. The kid's smart, so any plan in which he participates is automatically brilliant.

Anyway, I was visiting with The Defector just the other day as he was reviewing The Hawg/The Defector plan for making soccer popular in the U.S. The Defector said it all looked good, but he had a few more suggestions. So, we visited and I, The Hawg, have decided that our additions to the original plan are well worth mentioning. Here's what we came up with:


Originally, The Defector and I, The Hawg, had talked about turning our blueprint over to Major League Soccer (MLS), the group that is in charge with pro soccer in the United States. But we realized that MLS was part of the problem -- that group sticks with the brand of soccer that just hasn't gained traction here in America.

No, we need to make soccer popular through a new league. Thus, the concept of the eXtreme Soccer League (XSL) was born. It is very important to have our brilliant plan implemented by a new league for at least a couple of reasons.

Now, the MLS is a league that has stuck to its original game plan in spite of the fact that soccer is now about as popular as the WNBA. That's right. The MLS has been around for 15 years, and soccer is no more popular now than it was back then. The group has failed in its hope to promote soccer and is, therefore, useless. The MLS seems hell bent on sticking with the idea that soccer as it is played in the rest of the world will catch on here.

We don't need the MLS. We don't need a group that would pervert or modify our reforms based on pure stubbornness. And, yes, the MLS is stubborn -- what else would you call a group that hasn't modified its plan in spite of the fact that it is promoting a product that interests almost no one?

Also, there's something to be said for good marketing. This is America, and even no-talent trash like Britney Spears can be successful with good marketing. I, by the way, predicted years ago that Britney's career would hit a wall and she'd be reduced to starring in porn flicks with provocative titles such as Britney Speared to make a living. It turns out I was only half right. That no-talent tart's career has been extended through some great marketing.

Anyway, The Defector and I figured the XSL brand would be an easy thing to market well. For one thing, people just love sports that are "extreme," and we could certainly promote the hell out of that angle. So, we're taking a few cues from the short-lived XFL.

We will approach the XSL differently, although we'll steal some ideas from the XFL. Yes, we'll allow players to put whatever they want on the back of their uniforms. Remember Rod Smart, the running back for Las Vegas? He had "He Hate Me" plastered on the back of his uniform and became an overnight celebrity, as a result. That's pretty cool stuff, and it's exactly the type of thing we'd promote in the XSL.

And you'd better believe we'd have a "He Hate Me" in our new league. There's no doubt about that.

Also, let's not forget that the XFL was competing against a sport that was pretty violent. It simply came up short in the "extreme" department. The XSL, on the other hand, is competing against a sport that's pretty tame, so the extreme nature of the sport will be offered as a clear alternative to the decidedly tame soccer that's available now.

Furthermore, we can demonstrate the differences in our soccer by running marketing campaigns that touch on the idea that the "XS stands for eXceSsive violence." That's a winner, kids.

The two-point line

What's the most exciting development in the NBA over the past couple of decades? The three-point line. That has led to more points and the emphasis on drafting players who can hit a shot from beyond that line. The game, as a result, has become more exciting.

Ah, The Hawg/The Defector improvements call for something almost as exciting -- the two-point line. Yes, just imagine the thrill. Your team is down by 1 point and the end of the game draws near. Suddenly, He Hate Me takes the ball down the field, holds up just beyond the two-point line, kicks the ball and scores a goal, thus securing a win for the Central Arkansas Butt Kickers. The crowd goes wild!

What could be better than that? A two-point line would be invaluable to a game in which scoring is rare. It would add a whole new dimension to the game! Ah, that's an innovation, to be sure.


Give us a chance. We'll change soccer and make it more popular in the United States. We promise!

If you haven't done so already, check out Part 1 of this nonsense by clicking right here.