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Jumping Off the Putt Putt
It seems so long ago already, but it was in early August the family was sitting on the Peninsula Putt Putt, anchored over in the small bay at Horseshoe Island in Door County. The weather was perfect for our floating picnic as the skies were a brilliant, crisp blue with just a few cotton-ball like white clouds floating lazily here and there. When we first arrived at the little island in the waters of Green Bay, there was one, maybe two boats anchored, the occupants sitting back in the sun, laying out on the top deck and otherwise just enjoying the marvelous summer day.
We set anchor, watched for any drift to the rocky shore, and when we seemed solid in our location, the few pool toys on board came out, the vintage brass swim ladder was secured on the transom, and the kids embarked on their maiden leaps from the Putt Putt’s stern and into the slightly chilly northern waters of Green Bay. Birdy climbed up onto and across the stern first, her little orange, ruffly bathing suit only slightly visible from the greenish brown life vest strapped to her. Her long, gangly legs bent at the knees and then she sprung a great distance into the water. There was a splash quickly followed by a little shriek from the shock of the cool water and then furious doggy paddling and leg kicking as she tried to recreate all of the techniques she’s learned from swim lessons at Mrs. Leonard’s house.
As Birdy paddled closer to the Putt Putt, Sam, the resident daredevil, the fearless 4-year-old, climbed up onto the stern, stepped down onto the swim ladder and then …. Stood there. His blonde hairs were glowing, fluttering in the tiny little breeze, his suntanned belly and back were covered with lotion and a blue life vest. He was wearing swim trunks – a rather small victory for parents of a kid who loves nakedness – and he gripped the two curved bars of the swim ladder, Birdy stopped her shrieking and furious dog paddling to coax Sam to make the leap, and Sam bent at the knees like was going to, then stood up straight, coiled up again this time only tighter, his knees bent even more. Sam was about to take his hands off the ladder rails and do it, but then stood up, sat his butt down on the ladder’s little platform and proceeding to just flop into the water. Of course he shrieked, flailed, doggy paneled and had the overall look that a school of sharks was chasing him. He reached the ladder, pulled himself up and acted as if he just invented cliff diving in Jamaica.
“What the hell was that, Sam?” I said smartly, “do you slip or something?” Birdy soon piled on with “yeah, Sam, jump next time.” I felt a little bad about it, but the little blonde kid was acting like he just landed on the moon instead of sitting in the lake. Sam promptly got up, we cheered him on, Birdy paddled away from the boat some to give her brother room, and Sam almost jumped. Almost. But again, he plopped down and just kind of slid into the water, flailed shrieked and then climbed the ladder and into the Putt Putt. Birdy came in too.
More boats were anchoring in the relatively small space of Horseshoe Bay, but there was plenty of room for jumping off the boat, and Birdy did just that after eating a couple of crackers and drinking some ice cold water. Sam went to go and cross the stern to the ladder, but he had that “look” on his face. It wasn’t fear, it was something much worse being anchored on a boat with no bathroom, two miles or so away from the nearly potty. Liz saw it immediately. “Sam, you have to go potty?”
Sam shook his head “no.” Liz asked again, and Sam repeated the side-to-side head shake. The third time Liz asked, Sam must have just hit critical mass because he immediately should “YESSSSHHHH!” and proceeded to hop up and down in what just turned into a full-blown bathroom emergency. I looked for on-board solutions, there were none. Liz had the quick thought to tell Sam to jump into the water and he could go potty in the water. “We all do it,” I added, trying to reaffirm that it’s ok to pee your pants as long as your pants are already wet.
Sam raced to the Putt Putt’s stern, climbed up and over to the pool ladder, stood on the platform briefly. We all encouraged him to jump in and then go pee. Everything will be alright then. Sam stood around looking at us, the water and the seven or eight other boats anchored in the little horseshoe-shaped bay, back at us, then down at the water. He was thinking about it. He knew he had to, and he wanted to, it was just a matter of time and he would make his first leap into Lake Michigan off the boat and also reset the alarm on the potty emergency.
Except, that’s not what happened.
Instead, Sam standing there on the small swim ladder platform, the just-past-noon sun brightly shiny down upon him, the adults all uniformly cheering him on to jump in, getting the attention of all the other boaters, Sam stood there, pulled his swim trunks to his ankles and proudly peed, hands-free no less, into Lake Michigan. At first, I was confused pretty much thinking “is he really doing that?” and then started laughing rather hysterically when I hear Birdy’s tiny voice over the potty noises yell “Sam! Sam! You’re peeing too close to me!” It’s not like she was telling him not to go pee into the water, but just do it somewhere else. I lost it. I laughed to the point of tears and nearly not being able to breathe.
With the full-blown bathroom emergency over in a rather public fashion, Sam pulled his swim trunks back up, turned around with a big smile and all was pretty much right and perfect in his little world again. “Nice job, Sam!” I yelled to him as I still wiped away tears. “You feel better now and ready to jump in?” Everyone else was pretty much in shock, I believe.
“EEEEEEYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSHHHH!” he shouted emphatically. My blonde goofball then turned around, stood on the ladder platform and leapt into his remaining pee and the waters of Green Bay. Dammit if I don’t love my Lil Bubba.
Bird and Sam were reunited in the water, they each took turns climbing up the swim ladder, turning around and jumping back in. Some little floaty rings were tossed in to the water to add some fun, and Sam climbed into the boat when he remembered he brought his new swim goggles along. Liz grabbed them from her bag, put them on Sam’s tanned little head, and he stammered to the ladder again. He stood there a moment, Birdy in the water giving him instructions on what to do when he jumps in wearing his goggles, mainly to look at fish swimming nearby and stuff. Sam standing there looking around, looking back at us in the boat, goggles already fogged, leapt like a big ol’ bullfrog into the water towards Birdy. He briefly went under but the life vest popped him right back above the surface like a giant cork.
“Sam! Sam! Did you see any fish? What did you see?” Birdy called to him loudly even though he wasn’t more than a foot away from her.
“Nothing!” Sam answered.
“What? Why not?” Birdy asked.
“I closed my eyes,” Sam said.
And with that, the brother and sister duo swam back to the boat, climbed up and jumped off again, repeatedly. Liz got into the water now and again, while I stayed in the boat up toward the controls, leaning against the starboard gunnel with my legs stretched and feet resting on the port side front passenger seat. It was the perfect vantage point and distance from the stern to quietly watch my beautiful family – the family I could never have dreamed of, the family that taught me what unshakable love and commitment means, the family I never even planned on having but they somehow how found me in this universe – enjoy just another sunny day on just another old boat in Door County. What a beautiful, magical, funny world we live in.
On my personal Facebook page, I've started something, and I want to have it here, too, because in life everything is a blur. Yes, that silly ol' stop and smell the roses thing. Life is stressful. It can be negative, (especially online, my God!), and it can be downright depressing if you’re not careful.
But I read somewhere some time ago, the best thing you can do for yourself every day is smile. Not just smile like you give the cop when he pulls stops you for doing 21 mph over the limit. No, a genuine smile, shared between you and … you.
The writer of this little article said it changed his life, literally in days. Of course, I scowled and thought “what a crock of shit.” Then one morning before getting in the shower, I brushed my teeth, put the brush and paste away in the medicine cabinet behind the mirror, and found myself eyeball to eyeball. I had a stare down with me.
Now, you must know, like everyone here I’m sure, I’ve been focused on all the crap I have to deal with in life, being a dad, being a husband, being the only one who works in the house, the mortgage, credit cards, school and pre-school bills, health bills, keep the cars running and so on. Well, I deal with it all pretty much the same way I have ever since I quit smoking them dang ol’ Camel Lights. I park my ever-widening ass on the couch in front of a baseball game with something always within reach to eat and drink. Well, that leads to more depression along with a lot of family members and friends saying, “hey, lardo, WTF?”
Needless to say, staring myself down in the mirror, was not uplifting. I leaned over and placed both palms on the sink, got a closer look at myself. The brightness of my eyes has waned. The wrinkles are a little deeper. The gray – oh the gray in the beard! – is more prevalent. My nose, is it always this red? Even in the morning? “God, I’m a mess.”
Then, while nose to nose with the mirror, I remembered with that “moron” writer said about giving yourself a smile in the morning and figured “hell, couldn’t hurt.” So I smiled. And yes, the wrinkles got even slightly deeper, my teeth are a little stained from drinking the coffee and age has allowed a few of them to get a little out of place. It was easy to see. What I didn’t see right away was the brightness in my eyes. The friendly wrinkles that said I accept all of your crap that I’m looking at. I own this frightful looking, aging body. And goddamnit, I’m ugly! Goofy lookin’ as hell.
Yet, there I was smiling. And it felt good. I was even happy at work. At first I thought it was because I slept a little longer than usual. However, the next morning, I got up and immediately stared into the mirror, my big ol’ ugly mug and body standing there looking at my reflection. I leaned in and smiled. It was like I just saw an old friend again after so many years. We had a discussion, no words, just hazel eyes to hazel eyes said everything. I smiled, falsely amplified it until I looked like a freak on experimental drugs, and then smiled again. Me and me.
And it felt good. I looked at my face smiling back at me and said “I like this guy.” Then I thought, “holy shit, that’s me!”
I like me. Think about it. It’s hard to hate someone when they smile at you. When you get a genuine smile – even from a stranger – you’re like, that dude is friendly! How nice! Yet, we all have this self-critical thing in our heads that is slowly killing us from the inside out. We only see every negative, every fault. It’s easy to smile at another person, but it’s the hardest thing to smile at yourself, naked to the world, just woke up with crazy hair. But all you have to do is smile.
When I started smiling at myself, the day got easier. My work was more fulfilling. The family was more enjoyable. The stress, well, it’s still kinda there, but with my positive mind I was able to find solutions to my biggest stress makers, so the stress is even reduced considerably. I find the positives in negatives and try to lift co-workers and peers up when they can’t. It’s a different world! All from a smile.
Then, I started wondering, why doesn’t anyone else do this? Why don’t they just smile at themselves in the morning? I mean, this is great! It’s changed me, no joke! So I took to Facebook, and on my personal page, I started asking my friends and followers if they have yet to #smileatyourself today?
A few friends even posted a selfie of them smiling as a reply. And it was fantastic! And it felt great to see just the mere thought of someone smiling at them made them smile.
Of course, a few of my dude friends gave me some crap, but they always do. They get it, I know. And I’m going to keep asking them, I’m going to keep asking me and I’m going to keep asking you, “hey, did you #smileatyourself today?”
Long Live the SEO Algorithm!
First, we all know SEO stands for search engine optimization. Technically, you still have to do this. You still have to have a nicely trimmed sitemap, non-crap-filled urls, and other on page, off page and behind the scenes things you do to get the rankings. It’s a must. You must optimize your junk to be seen by Google and its creepy crawlies.
Some people call it content marketing. We at Sawfish Online call it content marketing. We also call it SEO. Are they the same? Not really, but … kinda. I say that because content now plays an increasing role in search engine optimization. So does having great off page content, such as guest blog posts or another authoritative articles that link BACK to your site. That is a big deal in increasing your SEO rankings.
Our friends at the Content Marketing Institute agree. SEO and content marketing sort of go hand-in-hand, like Batman and Robin, or Fred and Barney, or Superman and Lex Luther. No, wait, that’s a bad analogy, but you get the point.
They work together! But just try and not do any of the technical SEO and see what happens. You’re gonna get skunked! So you see, Fred, SEO is not dead like a head that is red while lying in bed instead of being said that he should be fed some mayonnaise. My daughter loves saying mayonnaise, too. It’s just part of the puzzle now, not the entire paying surface.
Cheerio, you crazy turkeys and long live SEO!
Don't Be A Copy Cat!
Man, I've been saying this for years. Someone for every project always has to ask why we don't do SEO just like our competition and all the others.
Want to know why? We usually have to be nice, so we give a long, drawn out reason that everyone's needs and audience is different, blah, blah, blah.
However, our friends at ConversionXL.com explain it in a Sawfish Online kind of way:
“Stop copying your competitors — they may not know what the f*** they are doing either”- Peep Laja
And if, just by chance, your competitors do know what they are doing, well, they're already doing it, and it will be very hard to beat them at their own game.
One last thing. Why don't I get to swear like that in posts?
March 19th, 2015
Everyone Goes with Sawfish!
Interesting news came across the internet this morning. One of the Wall Street Journal's subsidiary websites, Marketwatch.com, posted a little story about JCPenney coming back with their traditional catalog (read the entire story here: http://bit.ly/JCPenneySFO).
Why would a big 120-page print catalog be successful in today's digital world? Quite frankly we're not giving shoppers everything they want and need to make a solid purchasing decision.
Catalogs offer a customer the chance to pick the book up and shop at anytime, circle favorite items, mark pages that interest them WITHOUT ANY CRAP. It seems today that e-commerce means delivering the biggest, shiniest whistle along with the loudest bell to get noticed -- and yes, getting noticed is important -- but really all shoppers want is every piece of necessary information that is easy to see, read, save and order.
Ordering from a catalog is simple. You call the number, tell the item number you're buying, pay for the item and wait for the item to be delivered. Have you went through any e-commerce check outs lately? It's upsell after upsell, "if you like this, you'll LOVE this," and "you can't have that without getting this, too." Plus, now you can't even tell who you're buying from on a company's website (that's another discussion to have later on). With a catalog, what you see is what you get.
The one thing I love about catalogs is how they tend to tell a story about the item. In 75 words, a good writer can have you picturing in your mind you holding or using the item that you're looking at.
Forget fancy and forget trying to match what every other website does because, well, they might be clueless.
All you have to do is make good content! Be honest. Be straight. Be simple. Sell your items not an experience.
It's Your Turn. Market This!
Most days I love my job, but sometimes you get something and I think "this can't be real." Take this hand bag for instance. If you were me, how would you market this?
Yes, that's a butt. A lumpy ol' butt. The front is the belly with a belly button. What in the world could you ever write to make that a popular item?!
Larry is a content marketing professional, an experienced copywriter, avid fisherman, amateur sailor, teller of kinda funny jokes, pancake connoisseur and an overall OK guy who founded Sawfish Online.