Monday, January 27, 2014

Use Yelp for Self-Help

Last week I authored my 100th Yelp review. It's rather a surprising and shocking number for something that started out so innocuously.

It all began by enjoying some place so much that I just had to tell others about it. Or, as the name would suggest: I had to YELP about it.

Having heard enough about Yelp by 2012, I figured this was the place to post my review. I can't recall what place inspired me so--I'm too lazy to look it up--but it must've been good. The desire to Yelp again might have ended right there if it wasn't for my requirement to travel a lot for my job. Soon I found myself in strange towns wondering where, besides another stinkin' Applebee's or gosh darn Chili's, I could find a good place to dine. Something unusual, somewhere a local would frequent. That's when I discovered Yelp's true power.

So I kept Yelping. My main focus is to highlight places that deserve to be highlighted. Or, in rare cases, warn where a fair warning is called for. My wife and I both really enjoy finding a place in Milwaukee that we'd love other Milwaukeeans to visit. 

One place that we both love and have written glowing reviews for is Oscar's on Pierce. Oscar's serves a seriously delicious burger and fries in a friendly environment with some good local beers. If you know anything about my wife and I, you can easily see that this is our type of place.

Well today I had a surprise. My company had visitors from a major US company. They flew in last night
from a variety of places: Portland, Oregon; Los Angeles; Wichita; and Cincinnati. Most of them stayed at hotels near the airport. While making small talk when they arrived at our offices this morning, I asked them where they dined last night. I was surprised to hear them say "Oscar's on Pierce. Great burgers!" 

What surprised me most is that Milwaukee locals still don't know about Oscar's, so my next question was, "How on earth did you find out about Oscar's?"

The reply (you should be able to guess) came back, "Yelp. We checked it out for places with good burgers and it seemed that everybody liked Oscar's, so we figured it was a can't miss!"

Wow. I wonder if my review was one of them they read? I don't know, but my favorable star rating definitely would have contributed to Oscar's 4.5-star rating after 200+ reviews.

So I think that's pretty cool. That this varied group of people rejected the comfort and familiarity of fast food and chain restaurants near their hotel and embarked on 10+ mile drive to a strange and "scary" part of Milwaukee on a frigid January Wisconsin night to dine at a place they read about on the Internet is a striking and true testament to Yelp's power.

I'm only a small player in the enormous Yelp community, but I'm glad to have seen the network work exactly the way it's supposed to.

I'm also wondering, if you live in Milwaukee and haven't yet been to Oscar's on Pierce, just what the heck you are waiting for?


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Beer Freezie Pop, Anyone?

Nineteen years.

That's how long a vintage, collector's 6-pack lasted in our garage.

A commemorative 6-pack brewed by Pabst to honor the 100th anniversary of the American Bowling Congress survived all these years in our garage until a certain Polar Vortex came along and plummeted Wauwatosa's temperature down to 20 below.

This morning, when I walked out to start up my car, I noticed a bottle of Armor All on the garage floor. "Hmm, I wonder how that got there?" I wondered. As I bent over to pick it up, there, under my car, was a can of Turtle Wax.

"What the heck? Damn raccoon!" I figured, but then I examined the cupboard that automotive ointments fell out of more closely.

Sure enough, there was the culprit ... a beer explosion!

I knew that leaving this 6'er outside for so long was a risk, but after previous cold winters, I got used to them persevering, so I never moved them into the basement.

Clean up ought to be relatively simple ... as long as I do it before Saturday, where temperatures are predicted to finally move above freezing.

This makes me worried, too, for the quarter keg of Fat Tire which is still in the kegerator. This thing could go off like a bomb!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Roger Goodell -- the NFL's Luxury Box Commissioner

So the Packers finally sold out their Lambeau Field game for Wild Card Weekend.

Thank God. I am so tired of hearing media say "What?! Packers fans aren't selling out Lambeau? And here we thought Green Bay Packers fans the best fans in the league!!" Reference this comment from the Business Insider's Jay Yarow: The Green Bay Packers are struggling to sell out their playoff game. As are the Bengals and Colts. The only team that didn't have this problem? The Eagles. Philadelphia fans are the best sports fans in the country. They actually go and support the team. So, next time you hear some crap about them being jerks, or bad fans, remember the good people of Green Bay don't even want to watch their team.

Screw you, media, and you in particular, Jay Yarow.

We're fans, but we're not dumbasses. And, Roger Goodell and the NFL, I'm not so sure I can't say the same to you and your strong-arming tactics.

As I write this post I am in a perfect position to attend the game on Sunday. I live in Milwaukee, but I'm "up north" for the weekend and have to drive through Green Bay on Sunday. My mom lives one mile from Lambeau and would welcome me before and after the game, but let's break things down here:
  1. A playoff game is not an inexpensive proposition. I logged into Ticketmaster to look at the price of a pair of tickets, I was at $231 and change before Ticketmaster added their fees. And if you've ever purchased a ticket through Ticketmaster, you know these fees are not insignificant.
  2. Sunday night. Look, NFL, you like to market how Green Bay is the "smallest market in the NFL." We know what you're selling ... and we like it. But don't kid yourself, this is just as much Appleton's, Madison's, Wausau's, and, most importantly, metropolitan Milwaukee's team. Short notice arrangement of travel plans for fans in these cities is just not possible. Maybe it would be if we were granted a Saturday game or the Sunday early game, but we've got the last game of the weekend. Not exactly the easiest game for us to make arrangements to attend yet still get home at an hour reasonable for work on Monday morning.
  3. It's gonna be cold ... REALLY COLD. Again, NFL, I love the whole "Frozen Tundra" marketing scheme, but the forecast cold is serious business (schools are already cancelled throughout the state on Monday morning). I've gone to games down to zero degrees, but a high of zero frankly frightens me. I just don't have clothing that will allow me to sit in a stadium at 10 below for three and a half hours. I recall going to games at Lambeau as a youth. I had chopper mitts, ski mask, snowmobile boots and snowmobile suit ... I could handle temps down to zero for an hour or so, but sub-zero temps? No. I don't have the gear and it would cost me just as much as a pair of tickets to procure these duds.
  4. Are you sure you needed to sell 72,928 seats?! A quick Google search tells me that that is Lambeau's capacity. I bet that's the capacity for those sporting t-shirts and shorts in early September, not those garbed like Nanook of the North for a January 5th playoff game. Those that attend are going to be wrapped thickly in wool, cotton and blaze orange. It will have an affect on the seating capacity of a row. I don't know what the total number would be, but at least one seat should be eliminated per section/row to allow for bundled Packers patrons. That's likely to shave a thousand or more off the seating capacity right there. (Didn't think of that, did you? Trust me, it's real ... it's going to require more than those 16" per butt that you normally allow.)

Anyway, I'm very glad that Wisconsin corporations anteed up and bought the last remaining 3,000 tickets and put an end to those dubious accusations. I'd like to suggest, for the future, that any game subject to blackout in Wisconsin should be required attendance by the NFL's Commissioner. He or she should not be privileged to view the game from the confines of a luxury box or suite, but should be forced to enjoy the game from the stands ... with the real fans. If they can do that, then they'll have justification to blackout our team's game.

One last thing, Yarow. The metropolitan population of Philadelphia is 6,018,800; Green Bay's is 306,241. Philadelphia is nearly 20 times larger. You think Eagles fans would sell out Lincoln Financial field if it seated 20 times more than its current capacity (1,370,640)? 

Probably not, is my answer.

Go Packers! Beat the 49ers!!