Monday, March 30, 2015
Otherwise, in my life

I watch DVDs

Still obsessively rewatching my Sherlock DVDs. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a show this much.

Since every episode is 90 minutes, every episode is like a feature movie. There's more depth, texture, and nuance in every episode than in most full seasons of US television.

I long for a return to the days when television wasn't restricted to a "five minutes, then mini-climactic scene to lead into commercial break, ten minutes, then second mini-climactic scene to lead into second commercial break, etc." format.

I've also been watching DVDs of Hot In Cleveland, which is a sort of updated Golden Girls. Not deeply intellectual, but enjoyable. Especially if you're female and a bit older. :)

I read books

Did I mention reading the Tamir Trilogy? (It starts with The Bone Doll's Twin.) Amazingly good.

It's a prequel trilogy to the author's original Nightrunner series. The original series is excellent with a long and involved mythology that I really enjoyed. I was doubtful about a historical "prequel" and then pleasantly surprised to realize that I it as much or more than I enjoyed the originals.

In terms of reading, I also just finished the series The Royal Wizard of Yurt (which starts with A Bad Spell in Yurt). Silly, lightweight fantasy. Amusing.

I've tried Christopher Nuttall's stuff before and never really enjoyed it, but then I stumbled across Bookworm and found myself drawn in. Without being particularly deep or richly detailed, it's still an interesting series. (I'm on the third book now.)

I don't know. I've read a lot of stuff since I last talked about what I'm reading. I always read a lot of stuff, okay? It's hard to keep track of what I've enjoyed and might want to recommend.

In the fantasy-mythology crossover arena, things I don't think I've recommended yet include:

I Bring the Fire - C. Gockel (Loki)
Mercury Series - Robert Kroese (Mercury)

The Mercury series is lighter and sillier than the Loki series, but they both have charm.

I just finished the first book in the Eno the Thracian series. I can't decide about reading any more. I enjoyed the first book (it's currently available for n/c for the Kindle) but the story was fairly slight. I can't quite decide if I liked it well enough to pay for additional books. I think I might--but my instinct is always to finish stories, you know? Still--I liked the protagonist. I may read more.

And, finally, just because I can't remember if I ever recommended it before, I do highly recommend The Emperor's Edge series.

The trilogy of the first three volumes is most cost-effective, but for those of us who like to "sample" before we buy, the first volume of the series is also available for free for the Kindle at the moment.

I play games

I also play games, yes. Still working on Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley even though I got two other games for Christmas. New games of the kind that I enjoy don't come out often--I'm learning to savor having a new one waiting.

Waiting in the wings, I have Fantasy Life. I've glanced at the opening scenes and I do think I'm going to enjoy this one, when I get time to play it.

I cook

Slow-cooker fun!

Cut up chicken breasts into 2" cubes. I used about a pound.
(If desired, spray the inside of your cooker with non-stick cooking spray. I didn't bother and it wasn't a problem although the flavor might have been even better with the oil browning the chicken a little. Although I dislike having to brown meat before putting it in the slow cooker, there's no denying that doing so does make a big flavor difference.)
Put in chicken cubes.
Mix honey mustard salad dressing (I used Ken's Lite) with water, 3-to-1, and pour over chicken to--barely--cover the meat.
Cook on high for 2-3 hours (for 1 lb of chicken) or 3-4 (for 2-3 lbs of chicken--can also cook on low for 6-7 hours).

Simple and amazingly tasty. I wish I could find a low-cal substitute for honey mustard salad dressing which, even in the "light" version, comes in at 80 calories a tablespoon, but I console myself with the thought that a single serving of this dish doesn't involve more than 3-4 tablespoons of salad dressing and it's not like I'm going to be eating it every day.

I could, of course, pour off the "sauce" and eat just the chicken--but I lack the willpower. I have a serious love of honey mustard salad dressing for many uses--none of which include using it on a salad.

I still haven't found what I'd consider a successful spaghetti sauce recipe for the slow cooker. The ones I've been trying are still coming in kind of watery and without a lot of flavor. I can cure the "watery" by adding an additional half hour or hour of cooking on high heat with the lid off, but that won't cure the flavor problem. I may be adding the herbs too soon (their flavor breaks down with long cooking) or I may not be adding enough. I can't decide.

My next experiment was going to be a teriyaki-pineapple pork chop thing but the recipe I was reading doesn't have a calorie count on it and I'm a little bit afraid of it.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:31 AM | Comments (2)

Picking Up the Pieces

Last week, my brain exploded all over everywhere and now I'm trying to put myself back together.

What caused this (characteristically melodramatic) behavior, you ask?

The discovery that the My Largest Account client (hereinafter referred to as The Big Crunch), the one who decided, in mid-March, to start taking their advertising seriously, had actually gone into their account and made something like 80,000 changes (seriously--no exaggeration) in three days.

Naturally, Louie Louie, who owns the client, was offline and out of touch last week. (What's up with that? These days, even when we travel, most of us are still checking our email multiple times a day.)

I clenched my fists after the first 40k changes and told myself that I could wait for Louie Louie to be back online to deal with it but then I had a little meltdown after the second 40k changes. There's a function that allows me to "roll back" certain kinds of changes in accounts and I took advantage of it.

Then I sent Louie Louie an email saying he could fire me if the client didn't like it but that I simply hadn't been able to sit and watch the oncoming train wreck without trying to do something to prevent it.

Blah, blah, blah, exchange of emails, he talked to the client, I am not fired, it's okay that I undid their edits.

Now I have to figure out how to undo their damage.

Before the client "helped," we were seeing 30% - 40% conversion rates (I know that means nothing to you but trust me, it's impressive) with an average cost of $10, well below the client's desired cap. In one day, that dropped to an 18% conversion rate for an average cost of over $40. Rolling back the changes got the conversion cost back down to just over $22 but the rate hasn't recovered yet. I have my fingers crossed for things to improve today.

In the meantime, I need to start putting together a massive spreadsheet to manage certain aspects of the 50+ campaigns, something that will help me keep track of my individual goals for each of the 1,200+ areas where the client recently set individual goals. It needs to be something I can use on an ongoing basis--which makes the problem tricky and interesting.

Anyhow. I know you don't really care, but that's where my brain has been. I discovered it right after I'd blogged last week and it took me this long to calm down enough about it to discuss it.

Previously, on Coffee Talk

Diet: Didn't lose any weight last week. Unsurprising. Holding steady at having lost 4-1/2 or 5 pounds. Another 10 to go. (Denver's "winter" weather is helping this year. It's warm and sunny every day, making it easier and more enjoyable to exercise.)

New-ish clients: Both new-ish initiatives (NewBroom and The Laddies) seem to have, so to speak, gotten their feet under them, and are getting traction. Although results remain unimpressive, the accounts are beginning to drive at least some traffic to the clients' websites. It's a start.

NewBroom is an interesting initiative. It's a test case where, if I can figure out how to produce success, we might be able to roll this initiative out to another 20 accounts or so in the near future.

The size and "shape" of the industry reminds me of my early days with the Argonuts, which is kind of fun. I'm interested enough in it to have offered to waive my (already very low) fee for a couple of months while I work with the account to figure out how to get results.

(I know, I know. I'm supposed to be in this as a business and not merely to amuse myself.)

The Laddies is just a basic, stand-alone account. It wasn't that interesting until it started so slowly. That lured me in and now I'm determined to beat it into shape.

New clients: Louie Louie hasn't yet heard back from the medium-large new client he's talking to, so I don't know if that one's going to fly or not.


Yes, I do mostly think about work. No one seems to believe me when I say that I am fascinated by what I do, but I am.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Now, it's just snowing

Yesterday it was warm and sunny, today it's snowing and raining, in a couple of days, it will be 70 again.

Winter in Colorado.

Previously, on Coffee Talk

Diet: Down 4-1/2 lbs, so making good progress toward my "lose 15 lbs or bust" goal.

New clients: One large(ish) sized new client on the horizon. I can't decide if I really want to handle the account or not. I don't really have a good feeling about it, but you never know.

New-ish clients: Both previously mentioned new initiatives continue to stumble along. I can figure out no reason why these accounts are doing so poorly.

Old clients: The owners of my largest account suddenly remembered that they are advertising online and, for the first time in six months, they're paying attention. The size of the account doubled, they've requested a 1,000% increase in results, and I bumped my fee about 75%.

Otherwise, Chez Moi

I can't think of anything to add.

I'm not watching anything "live" on television, which seems to be a lot of what people talk about online. I've rewatched my Sherlock DVDs a few times recently and I am very excited about the prospect of another season.

(As a long-time fan of the original books, I would not have believed the characters could be brought into the 21st century with any degree of success. I'm impressed with how well this has been done.)

Still knitting/crocheting, but not quite as obsessively as I was. It remains a good way to keep my hands busy so I can't snack all evening and I've completed four or five projects so far this winter, but sometimes I have other things I want to do.


Laundry. Sometimes I do laundry.

Or cleaning. I clean things. Sometimes.

I go for walks every day, exercise being part of my new health (and weight loss) regime.

Mostly, I console myself with the realization that this kind of hibernation is my normal winter behavior.

I had books I wanted to talk about, but now I've bored myself stupid, so I'll stop.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:15 AM | Comments (8)