Talk Like A Pirate Day! AARRRR!

Talk Like A Py-Rat
Talk Like A Py-Rat

Avast! Ye scurvy scum! It’s “Talk Like A Pirate Day!” If ye can’t be dialecting like a true prince of pillaging, prepare to be boarded, have yer women stolen and your treasure ravaged before ye are made to walk the plank and yer miserable soul spends the rest of eternity swabbing the decks an’ planning bad Monkees reunions with that cur Davy Jones!

To avoid this fate, click on the link below and get your “Yar!” on and ditch that sissified sniveling excuse of a name for one your feller bilge rats will respect and fear… or have yer throat cut in yer sleep. Aye, the choice is yers, but choose wisely, Sleepy Jean, or you’ll find yer a Steppin’ Stone at the bottom of the sea.

My pirate name is:

A pirate’s life isn’t easy; it takes a tough person. That’s okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
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Photo Gallery: 2014 Temecula Rod Run

I really like night time photography. Each photo takes on a quality all its own. But I especially like shooting old cars in historical districts where the buildings provide an era appropriate photo backdrop. The Temecula Rod Run has long been a favorite car show for me for this very reason, with Friday nights being my top choice for taking photos. Here are some of my favorite photos and cars from the 2014 Temecula Rod Run.


Yellowstone Photography – July 4, 2014

July 4th marked our final day in Yellowstone National Park. While we had made it out to see Old Faithful earlier in the week, we too a break from seeing geysers to make sure we saw the rest of the park and the Grand Tetons. Now that we had “glimpsed it all,” we headed back to cover what we missed in the Old Faithful area. A week is just not enough time to do Yellowstone, the world’s first national park,  justice.

In the Old Faithful Geyser area, are Riverside Geyser and Morning Glory Spring, a spring that many heralded as one of the most beautiful in the park–until the vents at the bottom of the spring became clogged with debris thrown in by many moronic tourists in the decades before us. The obstructions have changed the dynamics of the pool, including the temperature, so the color has shifted. Park staff have yet to figure out how to remove the debris without further damaging the spring.It’s truly a shame.

Morning Glory Spring is not the only feature to suffer at the hands of tourists, either. Old Faithful has had a large chunk of it’s once prominent crown removed by souvenir hunting visitors. Minute Geyser, which at one time was very close to the main road through the park, but the road has since been relocated used to spout up to 50 feet as often as the name implies, but rocks tossed in by thoughtless visitors plugged the vent forcing the water to find an alternate outlet that now only reaches 4 feet, and does not occur nearly as often. Earlier this month, despite a ban on drones in national parks, a selfish tourist crashed his illegally piloted device into Grand Prismatic Spring.

I hope by sharing these photos, you will also see how truly beautiful, unique, and amazing Yellowstone National Park is, so when you plan your own trip, you’ll treat it, and it’s features with the care and respect they deserve.

The gallery below contains the best images from our final day in Yellowstone National park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Yellowstone Photography – July 3, 2014

So we had to skip July 2nd and go straight to July 3rd as a cold I had been battling since Sunday finally got the better of me and left me spending the day in bed. At the time, I thought nothing is more painful than having to take a sick day while on vacation! Then while doing some fact checking , I stumbled across this story that occurred yesterday: “Child, 8, Falls to Death in Yellowstone Canyon.” I’d gladly spend my whole vacation sick rather than have a family have to end their vacation like that. My condolences to the family. With much less enthusiasm than I have had in my other posts, here are my pics that include the area where the girl fell.

On this leg of the journey we cut across the middle of the park on Norris Canyon Road and then headed south on the Grand Loop to the Grand Canyone of the Yellowstone to start our day. We then made our way around the Grand loop counterclockwise and out to the north gate to end our day with dinner in Gardiner, MT.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our fourth day in Yellowstone National Park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Grand Tetons – July 1, 2014

For today’s post, we take a break from Yellowstone, and venture southeast from the world’s first national park, and head to Grand Tetons National Park. We drove south along U.S. 191, stopping for photo opps along the way until we reached Jackson, WY.

The below gallery contains the best images from our visit. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Yellowstone – June 30, 2014

In this post, we continue this summer’s adventure trip to Yellowstone with day 2. This leg of the journey we traveled north on the west side of the loops from Madison Junction and stopped at Gibbon Falls, Artist Paint Pots and spent the majority of our time in Norris Geyser Basin.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our second day in the park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Yellowstone – June 29, 2014

This summer’s adventure was a trip to Yellowstone. On our first day we traveled south from Madison Junction along the west side of the loops making it as far as southeast as Old Faithful with stops at Firehole Canyon Falls, Lower and Midway Geyser Basins, Firehole Lake Drive, Upper Geyser Basin and Biscuit Geyser Basin.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our first full day in Yellowstone National Park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.


Texting While Driving: VW Drives The Message Home

VW illustrates how dangerous texting while driving can be.
Texting While Driving: Volkswagen drives the point home.

Volkswagen shows just how dangerous texting while driving can be by demonstrating to a crowded movie theater just how much can be missed in a blink of an eye by mixing high tech cellular gadgetry with big screen cinematography.

A New Batch Of Drivers Are Tempted By Texting While Driving

Ah June. The month that has more neophyte drivers hitting the streets than any other—all armed with mobile devices connected to excited friends who want to know how it feels to finally have a license supplying a never ending barrage of texting while driving temptation. As the newly licensed fledglings begin to venture ever further from their nests, they start making their way to their summer jobs, a day at the beach or lake, or head to a party via streets near you. You see them and their clumsy flapping on the road. They turn right in front of you because they haven’t learned to judge speed and distance yet. They stop between lanes trying to decide if they should go left or right. You hear the increase in the number of squealing tires at night. Most are burnouts as they show off for their friends, but more than you care to count leave you wait for the potential cacophony of rapidly compressing metal, plastic and glass that may follow. Isn’t June grand?

We try so hard to keep them safe. We do everything we can to avoid hearing that gut wrenching sound. We enroll them in driver’s ed. We make sure the wear their seatbelts. And we caution against speeding and drunk driving. In addition to our own warnings against speeding and drunk driving, we have nanny controls to prevent speeding and organizations like MADD and SADD to spread the gospel against drunk driving. But how much time do we spend talking to them about the act of driving itself? There’s no nanny control for texting while driving unless you take away their phone, but you want to be able to reach them. More importantly, they may need to reach you. Yet you still need to convince them of the importance of paying attention to the road every second they are behind the wheel and just how dangerous texting while driving can be.

There are already too many other distractions for a driver who has yet to find the best position to effectively drive a car from. (Hint: It’s not reclining so far back you’re practically sitting in the back seat and can’t see over the hood). When I was learning to drive, distractions were pretty much limited to the AM/FM radio, 8-track tape player, my friends, and the occasional bikini clad hottie walking near the beach. Nowadays, kids have all that, plus dual climate controls, satellite radio, CD-changers, mp3 players, navigation systems, speaker phone, and texting devices. Getting them to believe any of these things let alone texting while driving can impair their reaction time is a challenge. Granted, the average teenager can whoop my ass in any video game requiring more input than a black joystick with a red fire button offers, so it’s understandable that young adults today are even more prone to blow off their elders than we ever did when we were their age, especially when it comes to warning about multi-tasking and texting while driving. They know their hand-eye coordination is so much greater than ours, how can they possibly take us seriously?

Volkswagen Shows Movie Goers The Danger of Texting While Driving

But maybe if that warning about texting behind the wheel was presented in terms they could understand. That’s what Volkswagen is hoping to accomplish with a PSA they recently released showing just how quickly things can go wrong while driving. The PSA was shown in a theater in Hong Kong where a special device was employed that could ping every cell phone in the theater at the same moment. The film rolled depicting a car being driven down the road. A few seconds into the clip, the device was activated and as everyone looked down to check their message, the car crashed. They took their eyes off the screen for an instant and missed what happened that fast. This is exactly what could happen when texting while driving, not just to your new driver, but to anyone. It’s powerful stuff, and kudos to VW for putting it together.

Of course, VW can’t make your kids watch the video, nor can they make sure they get the point that texting while driving is bad. That’s up to you. They provided a great tool, now it’s up to you to use it. As your kids kick off their summer, and you pile on the safety advice about driving sober and how speeding kills to prepare them for a night of safe fun, remember to also prepare them for those split seconds that occur as they travel to their destinations and warn them about texting while driving. You successfully got them to driving age, now try and keep them around long enough to have kids of their own.

SEO Providers: 3 Tips For Choosing The Right One

Don’t Close That Deal With A New SEO Provider Just Yet!

Choosing the Right SEO Provider
Before you close the deal, make sure you have the right SEO provider.

You’re looking for a new SEO provider. You are not entirely sure what SEO and Social Media are or how they work, but you know you need them. How do you decide who to choose as your SEO provider? Many people still feel there is a certain amount of snake oil and mysticism behind this inexact science, and for good reason. There are plenty of unscrupulous SEO providers offering SEO packages that are nothing more than a merge document with a predetermined list of keywords mixed with your primary metro and a list of your products. They then plug this cookie cutter document into your website and consider it optimized with no further work necessary. This “set and forget” method might give you the basics to get you started, but by no means is this a long term SEO strategy.

The merged document will assemble generic keyword phrases for your title tags, headlines and metadata like “Los Angeles Chevrolet Cruze Dealer,” for example. This is fine, but puts no thought into tailoring it for your specific business. Your business may share similarities with other businesses in your industry, but you didn’t go into business to be like the other guys, did you? Of course not! You have a unique mission statement, a principle or method of doing business that sets you apart from others in your field. Your SEO provider should highlight those differences in your SEO and set you apart from the rest, especially your competitors.

The trouble with a generic term like “Los Angeles Chevrolet Cruze Dealer” is that with mobile search on the rise, and people using mobile devices prone to using abbreviations, the odds are they are going to type “LA Chevy Dealer” before they type out the full city name and complete manufacturer. After all, who types “laughing at loud?” LOL! That lazy SEO provider’s template doesn’t compensate for variants and abbreviations like that.

Even though mobile search is becoming more and more prevalent, you can’t go the other way and ignore the fully spelled out term either. You need to be sure to rank for both. And if your city has a geographic nickname like “South Bay,” “Windy City,” or “Tri City,” and data shows there is relevant search traffic for those terms, you better be ranking for that as well. That so called web provider’s SEO bundle most likely isn’t addressing these variants either. That template also won’t accommodate geographic variants in vocabulary. It may be “Used Car Dealer” in many cities, but in your town it may be “Used Car Lot.” “Soda” in one city might be “Pop” in another and “Soda Pop” in a third. That template your provider is using is a decent starting point, but by no means is the SEO work for your site done. So here are a few things to look for when deciding who should be providing your SEO services.

Does Your SEO Provider Assign An SEO Analyst To Your Account?

SEO is an ever-evolving field. Google constantly updates the search algorithm. Your competitors are trying to rank for many of the same terms you are so you have to be ever vigilant make sure you don’t slip in rankings to them. What keywords are important change as what people input into search engines tends to change. Instantaneous results shorten what people type in. People speaking into their devices instead of typing create a whole different set of search strings. As abbreviations become more common, Google adjusts to accommodate them. Your SEO needs to be continually adapting to these changes. Ask your prospective SEO provider who is going to manage your SEO. They should assign an SEO analyst to your account to be truly effective—someone who is going to become familiar with your business, your metro, your competitors and how search is trending in your market. Your SEO analyst should be adjusting your SEO regularly to compensate for changes in the algorithm. There should be regular meetings to go over results and discuss opportunities for gains. These meetings will also give you a chance to provide any updates to your business that should be addressed in your SEO—new products, change in contact info, or an upcoming promotional campaign for example. Maintenance is the key to good SEO. Your SEO should never be “set and forget.”

Did Your SEO Provider Ask Who Your Compteitors Are?

If they didn’t, this is a sure sign of a fill in the blank strategy as opposed to a custom SEO installation tailored to your market and business. If your competitor is ranking for keywords with good search volume and strong Adwords competition, you better be targeting and winning those terms as well. Some of the most effective gains in search you can make, may not be rising to the number one search position, but rising in rank ahead of your competitors.

What’s Your SEO Provider’s  Content Strategy?

Content alone is no longer enough. Social Media is an ever increasing component of SEO and should be part of any SEO package an SEO provider is offering. They go hand in hand. We’re not talking about a link to your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts either. While those links are important, they are irrelevant without an engagement strategy. This means more than updating your status with what’s on sale, posting a picture of your new product, or sharing a cat video. Actually, believe it or not, that last one is probably the best thing you could do of the three. While it probably won’t help you, it certainly won’t hurt you as much as the first two can. The point of employing social media is to gain social status, and nothing turns off people quicker than spammy messages, which will degrade your status quicker than a Miley Cyrus performance. You need to provide sharable, authoritative content that has value for consumers. It needs to be sticky, it needs to provide value, it needs to be relevant, and it needs to be genuine—a selfless act to benefit those you engage, placed ahead of trying to better your bottom line. Your SEO provider should help you strategize and plan for content that meets these goals, incorporating keywords you are trying to win so you earn links and gain authority by having that content shared. Google takes user response into account as part of its results finding. If you make a positive impression with the public, it will go a long ways toward improving your rankings as users validate your authority and elevate your social status by sharing your content and hanging out on your pages to view it.

If You Want To Be Found, Find A Good SEO Provider.

Your business is unique and offers a service or product in a way that no one else does, so your SEO plan should do the same. Don’t settle for a cookie cutter template. Create a content strategy that is going to work with your business to engage your client base and community. And most importantly, review your strategy and make course adjustments regularly. Heading in the wrong direction may only get you more lost in the search results pages than if you had just stayed put in the first place. If the SEO provider you are considering can’t provide these things, keep looking.

Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept Under the Magnifying Glass

Ford allowed its C-Max Solar Energi concept to be placed under the magnifying glass, literally.


On May 29, 2014, the Blue Oval manufacturer held a media luncheon and Q&A session at their Irvine Showroom to showcase the Ford C-Max Solar Energi concept vehicle and discuss the “future of electrification.”

First, let me point out that Ford is very upfront about this being a concept in the strongest definition of the word. This is no pre-production mockup to tease what may be showing up on next year’s auto show circuit, merely a design exercise to see what could be done to push today’s technology into tomorrow, albeit a somewhat distant tomorrow. That’s not to say that the C-Max Solar Energi concept isn’t a functional vehicle. It is still a fully functional Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. It just as the extra benefit of having a solar panel array on its roof to aid in charging.

Not terribly exciting technology. Solar panels are nothing new, and we know that in limited arrays they are great for low voltage applications, and given enough acreage, have been successfully used by utility companies to fortify the grid. The problem is, there isn’t that much acreage available on the body of a car, so solar panels alone don’t offer much in the way of a charge for an electric vehicle—about 3 miles worth of driving in the C-Max Solar Energi depending on how much sunshine is available in your area on a clear day. Not a practical solution for the average commuter and Ford knows it. The real design study behind the C-Max Solar Energi concept and the problem Ford is trying to solve is how to improve the efficiency of harnessing that sunshine into a useful amount of energy. Here’s where the Solar Energi concept literally gets put under the magnifying glass.

 IMG_4446Ever used a magnifying glass to burn ants when you were a kid? That same intense dose of supercharged sunshine that sent those little six-legged picnic bandits to the great anthill in the sky is being used to improve the intensity of the sun hitting those solar panels adorning the C-Max roofline. To achieve this, engineers have designed a carport type structure with a roof that is basically a large magnifying glass, Ford calls it the “concentrator.” The same concept is used in solar farms where parabolic mirrors reflect the sun’s rays from every point on the surface of the mirror into a collector at the focal point. These mirrors, however, track the position of the sun and adjust accordingly to maximize the available sunlight. A similar system for a home carport would be cost prohibitive so how do you make sure you are getting the maximum benefit of the sun without repositioning the magnifying glass? Move the car.

Why install additional electric motors into a carport roof when there is already an electric motor installed in your car? This is exactly what Ford did to adjust for the position of the sun as it made its way across the sky. Configuring the concentrator in an east-west direction, the C-Max Solar Energi starts out on the west side of the car port to catch the sun’s rays as they angle in from the east. As the sun rises, the C-Max Solar Energi literally inches its way westward an inch at a time until it arrives on the east side of the concentrator as the sun sinks in the west. Clever.

Of course, there are still other variables in this scenario. The sun doesn’t follow the same path across the sky, varying its path across the sky toward the north during summer in the northern hemisphere and winding south during the winter, so the concentrator would need to correct its angle for this as well. And what about a vehicle that automatically repositions itself? Sure it only moves an inch at a time, but it’s a silent inch. I can’t tell you how many of the neighbor’s cats nine lives have been spent narrowly escaping from underneath a tire where it was enjoying the shade and a little respite from the summer sun. Without the warning of an exhaust note, there’s no cue for Mr. Whiskers to scamper. I imagine it would be pretty horrible if he was partially pinned as the vehicle inched over his paw or tail and with no one around to hear his cries, had the life squeezed out of the remaining parts of his body one inch at a time. Ew. And I don’t even like cats.

Those problems aside, what is intriguing about all of this is imagining being able to own and drive a vehicle off the grid. No fueling up, no plugging in, just free energy from the sun. Now take this same technology and meld it with a car an enthusiast could appreciate, something along the lines of the electric Tesla Roadster, or the hybrid Porsche 917 Spyder. Or how about adding it to a luxury car like the Cadillac ELR or a Lexus hybrid SUV. For day to day commutes, vehicles could be emission free, only relying on fuel for longer road trips or rainy days. I’m excited, and hope others will see what Ford has accomplished and pitch in to take this technology to the next level. Cars would no longer be the poster child of eco irresponsibility, and there would once again be room for those who prefer performance and luxury over gadgets and fuel economy, and that’s a world I’d gladly welcome… with or without Mr. Whiskers.

By Vernon Heywood

Writer, Photographer, SEO Consultant