I Hate In-Text Advertisements

Words can’t describe how much I hate in-text advertisements. We have come to a point in time where the creation of content has more to do with how many ads can be wedged in and very little to do with the quality of the content itself. The abundance of websites spewing out content on an hourly basis is astounding and it grows larger with each passing day. The fact that this number is growing is not a sign of progress. On the contrary, a lot of these websites are dispensing the digital equivalent of mold, crowding the landscape and distorting the conversation in the process.

I don’t mind the in-text advertisements that are automatically placed and unobtrusive. I hate the ones that lead to all sorts of menus and sidebars that I don’t want. These disruptions have a way of rearing their ugly head when I’m trying to go from the top of the content to the bottom. This journey is not conducted for any reason other than the read the piece of content I clicked on. Maybe the people who create this nonsense don’t want you to read their content at all. Instead, they churn out whatever they think you will click on in the hopes you will stumble on their advertisements.

I realize that, in writing this content, I am creating a moment similar to the one Newt Gingrich had when he created a video to marvel over a fantastic device we all know as a smartphone. In this video, he holds up a smartphone and tells the audience everything it can do. He wonders aloud what this device could be called. I am not the same way about clickbait content. I know what it is and I will tell you that it’s cancerous and a tremendous misuse of the internet.

Quality content still exists. You just have to look for it. The problem is nobody wants to invest in its creation. Anyone who needs content claims that they can create it on their own. If they farm out their content to another source, it’s almost always someone who will do it for pennies on the dollar. What’s the point? I hate seeing words so blatantly misused. They have the potential to tell stories that have yet to be told. It’s a shame that they’re being wasted on articles whose entire meaning can fit into a tweet with characters to spare.

Can We Get Rid of Ladder Climbers?

I will never understand why we have to tear each other down. I have worked with people in the past that can best be described as ladder climbers. These individuals will do whatever they can to climb the latter without caring about whose toes they step on along the way. The people in charge are often oblivious to the charms of the ladder climbers because they have been convinced that they can trust them. Ladder climbers are skilled at persuading their supervisors that they’re qualified when really the only skill they have is sabotage.

I am not saying that everyone who has made their way to the top doesn’t deserve it. On the contrary, there are so many great people whose current position in life is based on nothing but their merits. I applaud them. This article is not about them. This article is about the people who act like they’re going to work with you and be your friend when really they would be the first person to put a hose in your mouth if they came across you drowning. Someone needs to come along and flush all these people out of working life.

The worst part about ladder climbers is they’re given practical autonomy over whoever they’re assigned to supervise. It doesn’t matter how often they prove that they’re incompetent. Their bosses will still stand behind them and tell them about the wonderful work they’re doing. We have to come to the realization that everyone is paying the exact same amount of attention, which is absolutely none at all. Each of us works as hard as possible to make it so we can do as little work as possible. Our lives are a breakneck trek towards a reality where we don’t have to do work at all.

Perhaps we need to stop acting as if we’re retired now and resign ourselves to the potentially lengthy working life we have in front of us. Being a boss should not be the start of an effort to delegate every possible duty to anyone other than yourself. It should be an opportunity to impart your wisdom and expertise on people who have less experience than you. Power is quite the drug. Once you start getting steady doses, it’s tempting to let it go to your head. Avoid this temptation and become someone that people will tell their friends about. Become a person that people will want to work for.

Bosses Need to be Able to Relate to Their Employees

Why is it that the people who are put in charge of another group of people have no experience doing the tasks they’re supervising? I’ll give you an example. Say that there’s a person who has a lot of business experience, but has accomplished nothing in the creative realm. The people who are in charge of a creative company look at this person, see that they have considerable management experience, and decide that it would be a good idea to put them in charge of their creative team. This manager runs their new team exactly like they did their old team and never attempts to understand the creative process.

A new rule needs to be established where the only people who can be in charge of creative individuals are people with experience in creative pursuits. This rule should be a no brainer, yet it’s something that seems to evade just about every creative company. I understand that it’s sometimes difficult to find someone who has leadership skills; however, it’s not impossible to find someone from the ranks of creative people who is capable of leading the pack. You have to be willing to trust your workers, not pigeonhole them into their respective duties.

I have no idea why it’s so difficult for people to see creative individuals as leaders. There’s no law against someone creating new material and leading a team of workers at the same time. That’s another thing that seems to go by the wayside in these situations. Managers of creative people should continue to create themselves. Naturally, their workload would decrease as their management duties become more demanding. They should never be in a position where they’re creating nothing at all. Everyone should do their part to contribute to the overall vision of the company.

I wish bosses could realize the impact they would have if they worked with their employees once in a while doing the same thing they do on a daily basis. Again, I’m not saying all bosses are this way. There are some bosses out there that are the envy of everyone in their industry. They’re not afraid to get their hands dirty and they remain well liked by their employees. Every industry needs to have more of these bosses. Workers deserve the joy of knowing their boss can relate to them because there was a time when they were doing what they are doing.

 

 

The Frustrations of Content Creation

There are times when I hate the words I’m putting on the page. I get stuck in such a rut that I ponder putting up my pen and walking away from writing for good. I don’t know why I wind up in these positions, but I do occasionally. I take my writing very seriously and want nothing more than for it to be as good as possible. I look at producing content and producing content I’m happy with as two different things. I am fully capable of delivering material on a daily basis; however, the quality of said material might be questionable every so often.

In my career, I have heard the “quality, not quantity” nonsense more times than I can count. I get it. The fact I understand it should not be seen as permission for you to ram it down my throat yet again. I disagree with the notion that a person who releases a lot of content is jeopardizing quality in the process. On the contrary, prolific content creators deserve just as much as those who release new productions every so often. Taking more time to create something is a state of reality, not a sign that said production is somehow higher in quality.

I like to keep everything in perspective. I want to cover as many topics as possible in my career, so waiting around for a piece to coalesce is not a realistic proposition. Plus, as more editing is performed, the piece in question begins to lose its original uniqueness. I prefer to release a piece as its originally written with any editing being performed along the way. I write like I talk, so every word is precisely chosen and the thoughts are flushed out organically. I will never understand why writers need to edit their stuff for days or create mountains of useless material to cut down later.

If you’re checking in on my progress, please know that I’m not ignoring the topics at hand. I am sitting back trying to come up with creations I’m satisfied with.  I won’t publish something just because it needs to be published. I will only publish pieces that are worth publishing. I read so much material that leaves me wondering if the person who created was proud of what they have done. Creators have the tendency of aligning themselves with people or entities that do not understand the creative process. These alliances lead to forced, haphazard material coming out long before it should.

We have to stop trying to turn creators into something they’re not. The idea of a corporate voice is as absurd of a notion as any that have ever been generated. Why would you hire different creators if you wanted all your creators to sound the same? That idea makes no sense. You should create a website that’s filled with content from unique voices, not another stop where people pull up to read the same cookie cutter garbage everyone is peddling. Clickbait content has turned the internet into a landfill where everything is on fire. The diamonds are hiding under the stacks of burning, filthy debris, but the fact that they’re there does not mean you’re doing anything other than digging through stuff other people threw away.

Stok (Coffee Shots and Cold Brew) Review

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Stok needs to take itself more seriously. It wasn’t until very recently that they offered their cold brew products at local grocery stores. Their cold brew shots are still evasive. So far I have only been able to find them online or at gas stations in my area. I would fall all over myself to buy these shots if they were available at Costco or Sam’s Club. Alas, they are not available anywhere other than the places I mentioned. This is a shame because I would love to stock my cupboard with these products.

I have been sitting on this review for a while because I wanted it to be just right. I had some constructive criticism for Stok, but I didn’t want it to come off like I disliked the product. I received some great communication from them and I’m hoping that can start up again. I recommend their products stronger than I’ve recommended anything I’ve come across in the coffee world. When it comes to their larger cold brew products, I like them, but I feel like they don’t give you the best bang for your buck. The products themselves are large; however, their price point gives you very little return on your investment.

Excessively priced cold brew products at the grocery store are nothing new. That doesn’t make them alright though. The average consumer is left with nothing but the iced coffee products from International Delight, which, funny enough, is the same company that makes Stok. I don’t mind the International Delight products. They’re more coffee flavored chocolate milk products than anything else. If you’re looking for a cold brew product that gives you that solid coffee flavor, you’re not going to get it in those products. While there are other cold brew products you can find here and there, I’m not going to go into them because it would detract from the point of this post.

Lay’s potato chips used to have the tagline “You can’t have just one.” I think that phrasing would be better used on Stok shots. There’s a warning clearly displayed on each individual shot that tells you that you should only have two each day. While I do not recommend defying this warning, I will tell you that I personally exceed this total. Stok shots go well with everything. Their taste on their own is rather abrasive. I like to put them with milk and a flavored creamer. The resulting beverage is a slightly sweet, highly potent concoction that will keep you coming back for more.

Lately I have been working graveyard shifts at a new job. I find myself stopping at the gas station that’s closest to my work and filling up with a coffee drink that’s loaded with Stok. Getting through those long shifts would be harder if I didn’t have my Stok potion helping me out. Don’t get me wrong. Coffee is great on its own; however, there’s nothing wrong with bringing friends in to make it even better. Putting Stok shots in your coffee is like having a team of cheerleaders on the sideline. You might have done awesome without the cheerleaders, but the fact that they are there gives you the motivation needed to reach and achieve even more.

I am a person who’s fine with taking no for an answer. I don’t see someone telling me “no” as a sign that I’ve struck out. I see it as a signal that I need to find different ways to ask the question. I attempted to get the hook up from Stok to start receiving shots on a regular basis. They were not receptive. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that they sent me coupons that allowed me to get my hands on a few bottles of their cold brew. I appreciate this generosity. I would like to take this opportunity to re-establish my request for those shots.

If Stok told me tomorrow that they were about to back the truck up to my house, I would spend all day cleaning and eagerly cheer as their product filled up my living room. I wouldn’t mind it if that truck were followed up by another truck carrying International Delight creamer. I would welcome some of their bigger cold brew products as long as I could ensure that I would get them in massive amounts. That’s something you will find out quickly if you make the wise decision to try out anything from Stok. It cannot be enjoyed in small doses. You will find yourself consuming more and more until it becomes a regular part of your life.

Antidote Review

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Antidote is the skilled purveyor of chocolate bars of many varieties. I tried three of them and each was very unique and bold tasting. I enjoy trying chocolate bars because they open me up to so many things I might not have previously thought were possible in this genre of treats. I also like chocolate bars because they showcase the considerable amount of effort the companies who made them put in to set their bars apart from the rest.

Another way of thinking of the bars from Antidote would be like thinking of a high intensity thriller movie. One of those movies that really makes you think about every possible aspect of what’s going on. You watch them so closely that you feel like you can practically see through them. You feel like you know what happened before your eyes until you pop it in again and find a laundry list of stuff you meet. You might not think that chocolate could produce the same experience, but that’s probably because you haven’t tried stuff like what’s coming from Antidote.

Perhaps I am speaking in terms that are too grandiose for the usual conversation about chocolate. I don’t know why that has to be the case though. We should be able to talk about chocolate in whatever terms we like, even if those terms seem like they’re dissimilar to the ones that other people are using. We are all individuals and the experiences we share are interpreted within the lenses each of us deploy to see the world. We might feel like we’re unique because we have felt certain things and that’s okay; however, the reality of our current existence makes this impossible. All that matters is that we express the way we’re feeling in the best way that works for us.

I know that I am going to enjoy the remainder of the Antidote bars I have in my possession. I plan to break them into all their different pieces and then sample each piece individually. I am well aware that this process will be time consuming; however, I have a feeling it will lead to a lot of inspiration. Perhaps I will be able to turn this inspiration into something. Perhaps there will be another post about Antidote coming down the pipeline. I don’t know what’s coming. I can tell you that it will be interesting.

Diana’s Review

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Diana’s out of Sandy, Utah makes high quality chocolate eggs and other kinds of chocolatey treats. I was particularly pleased when I opened one of the little packages they sent me and it had my name in white icing. These little touches are indicative of a business that’s willing to go the extra mile to give their customers the best possible experience. I like that. This is one of the many reasons why I decided to start writing about chocolate. I wanted to profile the companies that approached things the same way someone would if they were making chocolate at home.

I appreciate the contribution of Diana’s to my upcoming holiday. Prior to receiving their package, I had become despondent at the low quality of the merchandise I was finding at the store. I thought that I would have to go through another year of cookie cutter stuff. Why does every holiday have to be the same? Why can’t we break out of the normal and come up with something extraordinary? If the world is full of so many people with so many ideas, why are we filling the pockets of corporations that haven’t had an original thought in years.

We should be able to get everything we want out of our chocolate order. If we’re great, we should expect that our chocolate order is great. It’s that simple.  Life is too short to waste precious moments on bad chocolate. You have reached for the Cadbury’s of the world too much. Who even remembers the companies that make the chocolate bunnies. They just churn out the same nonsense year after year knowing that you will buy it. You should go with a company that cares about their products and you.

You will find that kind of company in Diana’s. They are a small town company that has products that are loaded with charm. You can’t ask for more than that. We should rise up to support companies that are bucking the corporate model. A company is not great because it’s small and independent, but it does have the ability to do more and be better to its customers in this position. Diana’s is awesome because you can talk to everyone who works with them. They will write back to you and give you the attention that you are unlikely to get from one of their competitors.

Drink Tanks Review 

Drink Tanks produces drink containers that are capable of withstanding a natural disaster and coming out the other side intact and filled with your favorite hot or cold beverage.

I tested their 64 and 128 ounce models over the course of a few weeks. I put both hot and cold drinks in them and tried to see how long they would last before they would lose their heat or become warm. Let me be the first to tell you that Drink Tanks delivers on everything it claims.

The 128 ounce model is intimidating in its size and the amount of liquid it can hold. I enjoyed taking this behemoth with me when I’d go out and about all day. I was able fill it with more than enough liquid to last me through the day. This thing is so big that it didn’t even move in my car. All I had to do was prop it up against a seat and it didn’t move once.

The 64 ounce model was impressive because it took what’s great about the 128 ounce model and put it in a more portable package. This tankard came in handy on shorter trips to the park or other journeys where space was limited in my car. I plan to make this unit a regular part of my travels.

I have only one complaint about the two tankards from Drink Tanks. The mechanism on the top of each tank is kind of dicey. You have to apply a considerable amount of force to get it to close. As you’re applying this pressure, it feels like the entire apparatus could fall apart at any moment. Plus, you make so much noise trying to get the lid on. 

I can’t complain too much though. Drink Tanks knows what they’re doing. They make great products to help every worldly traveler go forth into the world with their favorite drink in hand. That’s an admirable thing. We all have drinks on which we like to depend in our lives. It’s good to know there’s a company that’s making sure none of us go without.

You could try a million containers from a million companies or you could come to grips with the fact that you need a drink container that’s as tough as you are. Drink Tanks has the containers that will check all the boxes and leave you satisfied in the process.

Santosha Chocolate Review

santoshachocolate

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Santosha Chocolate sure makes an interesting brand of coffee. I will also commend them for the fact that their packaging is some of the most visually appealing I have come across. I understand that the value of a product does not fully hinge upon what the package looks like. At the same time, when a package looks great, it shows that the company in question went above and beyond to present their product in the best possible fashion. A cool looking package makes you more likely to buy the product than one that’s a little plainer. Branding is a big thing, but branding alone doesn’t make a product great.

The taste of the bars from Santosha Chocolate is like the plot of a really complex thriller. I had to go back and sample their bars again and again because there was a lot going on. Even after a few tastings, I felt like I didn’t know what was going on. After taking the time to think about it, I still don’t know what I’m eating when I have a piece of one of their bars. I have a hard time putting into words what that means, which is saying something considering words are the primary thing in which I deal.

I’ll have to come back to Santosha Chocolate at a later date when I finally understand what they’re all about. The review itself was inconclusive because there was a lot to unpack during the process. Normally, when I try a type of chocolate, it’s self-explanatory. It either tastes good or it doesn’t and the reasons why it falls into either category are straightforward. I didn’t have that same experience with Santosha Chocolate. I neither liked nor disliked it. My feelings fell somewhere in between and tilted in either direction each time I tried it.

I am at a loss for words in these situations. I don’t like it. It makes me feel like I am not doing my due diligence to properly review a product. This is why I do not close the door on a company unless the door is closed on me. I want to cover everything in a way that ensures that there’s no doubt in my mind or those of the readers. I have not done that here. I wanted to make sure that they received coverage before my initial feelings slipped back into the recesses of my mind.

Until next time…

Clara Cookies Review

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Clara Cookies are good cookies for a good cause. Every cent that comes from their delicious protein cookies goes towards funding adoption grants through an organization called Team Orphans. The owner of this fine establishment does not take a salary. Instead, she devotes all the money that comes in for these cookies to the aforementioned cause. Regardless of the product in question, I feel like Clara Cookies is worth commendation just for what they’re trying to do for these kids. If I could, I would promote them every hour of every day in the hopes that my efforts to tout the merits of their cookies would somehow bring a dollar or two into their coffers.

Out of all their cookies, I think I enjoyed the Double Dark Chocolate Chip with Roasted Almonds the most. I like almonds in anything and the fact that they worked so well with the chocolatey aspects of this creation made the overall experience that much more enjoyable. The Coconut Dark Chocolate Chip variety would be great for someone who has a fondness for coconut. I, unfortunately, am not eager to have too much of this flavor. I had someone who likes coconut try them and they said that they were excellent. It would be wise to offer one cookie with coconut and another without it.

Their Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie fits into the same category as their coconut one. I do not like peanut butter either. After trying them, I could see how someone could like them. I brought in the same person who tried the coconut variety and they gave the same stellar praise. These two types of cookies left me wanting a white chocolate macadamia nut. The Double Dark kind is unique and has a flavor all its own. The other cookies in the product line are more or less derivative of each other.

Another confusing part of Clara Cookies is the repeated mentions of four flavors when all that’s displayed is three options. The box I received only had three flavors in it as well. Giving the customer the option to choose from one of many flavors is beneficial, especially when the intention of the organization is to help with a good cause. These cookies are capable of doing a lot of good for a lot of people. People with dietary restrictions can have a good treat while helping out with an important initiative.