Rob Ainbinder - Digital Dad - Chronicling my adventures in Home Improvement, Barbeque and Fatherhood

Rob Ainbinder – Digital Dad

Chronicling my adventures in Home Improvement, Barbeque and Fatherhood

My Favorite 3 Tools for DIY Lawn & Landscaping

October 11th, 2014


Over the years I’ve gone through a fair number of tools for different projects. Through the projects (and years) I’ve run into a number of tools and equipment that flat out sucked but, a few continue to perform year after year. My list below are my personal top 3 tools for DIY Lawn & Landscaping.

  1. LawnmowerToro 22″ Recycler Self-Propelled Mower. Every year I change the oil, change the air filter and tune up the blade. And every year, every time I start it… it starts on the first or, second pull. Just amazing. The other mowers I’ve owned had all kinds of trouble. Bonus tip: I also use dry gas in my gas can. The Toro lawnmower continues to work flawlessly.
  2. String Trimmer – After a few great seasons with the Toro mower (above) and the Troy Built string trimmer suffer ethanol induced fuel line failure… I bought a Toro Straight Shaft String Trimmer. Almost as awesome as the mower… it’s a beast and will chew up less expensive line quick. But, it works like a champ.
  3. Landscaping – True Temper 69-Inch Landscape Digging BarThis tool saved my back and some real $$$ over hiring a Bobcat to remove some very old hollies. Can’t imagine taking on a landscaping project without it. Bonus: In addition to using the bar to remove old shrubs and the like, you can use it to help dig and tamp holes for fence posts.

Do you have some favorite lawn and garden tools? Let me know in the comments below.

Google Alerts & Google Analytics Better Together

August 22nd, 2014

As a business person or, marketing consultant there is probably no better free way to measure your marketing impact than to use Google Alerts & Google Analytics together. (And who doesn’t like free, right?).

What is Google Alerts? (The Jelly)

Google Alerts allows you to “get email notifications any time that Google finds new results on a topic you’re interested in. For example, you could get updates about a product you like, find out when people post content about you on the web, or keep up with news stories. (Google Alerts Help)” You can also use Google Alerts to monitor:

  • mentions online of the name of your company
  • online appearances of your key employees names
  • if you are a consultant… the name of your clients
  • your competitor’s names.

And really it’s the first of those last four uses of Google Alerts (mentions online of the name of your company) that will make for a tasty combination with an often little used Google Analytics feature.

What is Google Analytics? (The Peanut Butter)

Google Analytics, if installed on your website, gives you insight into your site’s visitors and their interaction with the content on your website. It can also show you where (most) of the visitors to your site originated.

To make the most of this tasty marketing data sandwich we want to combine Google Alerts with Google Analytics. How do we do this? Read on as we get to the final piece of our PB&J Data Sandwich.

Annotations, Annotations, Annotations (The Bread)

A really neat and often underused feature in Google Analytics is the annotations. This is the bread of our sandwich. Annotations help you document anything you would like to understand that might impact your site. For example, your company was written about in the local business press. Did that article, also released online, result in sending some traffic to your site or, even help make a new lead or sale?

Now when you receive a Goggle Alert set up for your company/product name you can have an annotation added in Google Analytics to see if there was an impact on the traffic visiting your site. It might also lead you to decide (from the example above) to do more or, less public relations work with the local business press.

This post originally appeared as a LinkedIn Today post: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140810233858-12507477-google-alerts-analytics-better-together

Growing Up: A Little Bit “Motley Crüe” and a Little Bit “Simple Minds”

August 3rd, 2014

I was a kid born in  the 70’s. I came to find out this was an unusual time for marriage in the U.S. My parents split in the early 70’s and during this period “the annual divorce total more than doubled (from 413,000 to 915,000).1” So, this aspect isn’t a unique story… there are 1 million + kids out there who’s parents split between ’62 – ’73. It just happens to be part of the backdrop of my early childhood as well. It’s part of my story growing up.

As I approached Kindergarden age my parents like the other ~ 915,000 in the mid 1970s… split up. My Mom got the opportunity she desired to join the workforce… a point which was apparently contested within our household and as I understand, the main reason for the split.

The Family House

What I recall most vividly is that we moved from our newly constructed, split entry, family home in a up and coming suburban subdivision in north eastern Massachusetts. We relocated to an “apartment” down the road. In this case, the apartment was the second story of a drafty, old Victorian with a backporch that wasn’t even safe to step on. This was the first in a series of apartments that we occupied throughout my young adult life.

Make no mistake, the reduction in household income hit us hard, as it does many single parent households (post divorce). But, my Mom got things going by force of will, food stamps and some of her family’s help.

At the time my parents purchased the home… there was a vibrant synagogue and community center nearby. But, post divorce, the synagogue moved and we were isolated a tiny bit by an increased distance to the new location.

Little did I know but, that move by the synagogue would bring about some interesting social conundrums and consequences in my teens.

Mom worked hard and made the best life for myself and my brother that she possibly could. As her position at work was rewarded we moved to another apartment. One apartment in particular we had a real bastard of a landlord. As the story goes, said landlord gives us 24 hours to vacate. Not older than 11 at the time, I knew nothing of fair housing laws. But, this guy was clearly a real piece of work.

My life went about it’s way attending public school and doing Chanukkah demonstrations for my classmates. My family continued to attend the previously mentioned synagogue on the weekends until my brother and I reached our Bar Mitzvah. As we progressed from elementary school to middle school the anti-Semitic rhetoric rose it’s ugly head from Boy Scouts to the middle school playground. The whisper of taunts and jokes grew louder and louder. Within the social circles of my predominantly Catholic classmates I was bit of the odd guy out. I found some solace in rock music. First, in the music of KISS and Led Zeppelin, and later the music of Motley Crüe. And this is where the rubber hit the road for me socially. At the synagogue we had Sunday school classes and social mixers. These kids lived literally on the other side of the synagogue… they knew each other from school, soccer and whatever else happened in those communities. Talk about awkward. I was ready to talk about the latest music from RATT or Motley Crüe and they were into U2, Depeche Mode, and Simple Minds. These kids at Sunday school were my brothers and sisters… we shared a faith and 1000’s of years of belief handed down from generation to generation. And yet, I felt I was a bit of an outsider here, too. Sure, I had 1 -2 guy friends but, that was pretty difficult when you attend different schools in different towns. And maybe there was the rub…different schools in different towns. I remember making one attempt to ask one of these girls out on date but, she turned me down. So much for that! When our youth group traveled for social events it was far easier to connect with girls in these other cities and towns. Can’t say I ever really found out why that worked and it didn’t work back in my religious home court. Was it the fact I was from the “wrong” side of the synagogue?

So, it became my schedule Monday – Friday day… Motley Crüe, Saturday and Sunday… Simple Minds, U2.


1Data from the NATIONAL VITAL STATISTICS SYSTEM, “Divorces and Divorce Rates United States”, Analysis of divorce statistics for the early 1970’s, Reprinted April 1980, DHEW Publication No. (PHS) 78-1907, Series 21 URL Accessed: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_21/sr21_029.pdf

Digital Dad Interview #4: Mike Crider

November 14th, 2013
Marc Crider

Mike Crider

Brief Bio
I’m a father of twin toddler girls and a middle school assistant principal. I’ve been married to my wife, Holly, for over seven years now and I enjoy watching sports, reading, running (I don’t enjoy it, but I do it sometimes), cooking, and even playing some XBox 360 (GT: Angry Principal). I am also on Twitter @TwinDadTalks

What do you like most about being a Dad?
I like watching my girls do new things every day. I think as they get older, it will be attending their functions and cheering them on in everything they do, but right now it’s just watching a developmental explosion. With twins, it’s even more unique because they hit milestones at different times. I have one who is speaking sentences and the other is much further behind in her speech, but will make a mess just to have an opportunity to clean it up.

What’s been your proudest moment (so far) as a Dad?
My proudest moment has been proving that a father can take care of two kids at one time without having to call six family members to help. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have help from family, and of course, my wife keeps us going, but I am not intimidated by being a parent. I don’t typically take the girls out by myself unless we are just going for a ride where they won’t be getting out of the car, but we also rarely go anywhere unless we are all together. Having twins is a moving circus, particularly in stores.

What do you want your kid(s) to remember you for the most?
I want the girls to remember that I loved and respected them. I think if those things are in place then everything else will follow suit. I am a dry, sarcastic person by nature, and even though that type of humor has it’s place (particularly in the blogging world), I have to tone that down a lot as a parent, particularly with toddlers. Eventually, they will get my jokes and may even have been blessed with the wit to banter back, but they will remember more that they grew up in a household where love and respect were shared freely.

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging three months ago. My wife has been blogging a little over a year now, and she has published a couple of articles with Multiplicity Magazine and has been able to do some campaigns here and there for nominal money. I started because I thought I had interesting thoughts that I’m not able to share anywhere else. I also thought that I would be an interesting read for people because of my occupation and my life as a twin father. I’ve enjoyed writing my blog, but I’m still very small in numbers…my blog only has 3600 page views since August 1 and I’ve had 46 likes on my Facebook page. Even though it’s easy to get discouraged by numbers, I know that what I write is genuine and with time, it will be noticed by more people. Even recently, I’ve joined the Dad Bloggers group on Facebook and held conversations with really interesting people. I’ve published an e-book on Amazon called “TwinDad Talks: Help for First-Time Fathers Navigating Pregnancy” and I’ve published two articles on the Good Men Project. Somehow, I’m going to be on the Life of Dad After Show podcast in the near future, so some cool things are starting to happen and I’m just going to continue working hard at this.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing life/work/blog?
How do you manage it?
My biggest challenge is the work/life part. I think blogging has helped me chronicle this balance, but my job requires at least 55 hours a week, and my commute to my job is 45 minutes each way. Realistically, I don’t get a lot of time with my girls during the week, so we tend to make the most of it on the weekends. My wife works too and is the one who picks them up from preschool and her parents live very close to us, so they help a lot. I think this was one of the challenges to the blog, though, because I want to publish material that is well-written and worthy of an audience. There are guys who do this professionally and how am I supposed to compete with that? Also, the guys that stay at home, who I have a boat load of respect for, have the best blogs because they can write about a ton of experiences. My posts tend to talk about how I can’t spend enough time with them and how guilty I feel about that. I had to find humor in odd things to make my posts less sappy. Even though I have a career, I want to build my blog to where I can see cool things happen, and I think that’s starting to come to fruition.

Current City/State (nearest major city is fine)
Greensboro, NC

Blog Title & URL
Twin Dad Talks – Thoughts on Raising Twins, and Everything Else. URL – http://twindadtalks.blogspot.com. Check it out, it’s great.

Cookie or Brownie?
This could be the toughest question you’ve asked…it’s kind of like the Barbara Walters interview that makes everyone cry, I really like both. I’m going to give the edge to brownie, because you can pair it with ice cream for a delicious dessert.

Rob Ainbinder – Digital Dad

Chronicling my adventures in Home Improvement, Barbeque and Fatherhood