Author Archives: ericalucci

Full Moon Hike at Lake Pleasant

Tonight Chris and I went with my parents on a “Full Moon Hike” at Lake Pleasant. It was a two mile guided hike starting at sunset. We all had a great time. The guide, Terry, was full of interesting information. The hiking was easy. The temperature was low (for July)…in the 80’s. We saw all sorts of wildlife – wild burro, rattlesnake, and scorpions.

    Some things I learned:

  • Lake Pleasant has two dams. The first was finished in the 30’s and is now underwater. It was started by the Beardsley family. The structural engineer was Mr. Pleasant and he had a special/new multi-arch design. Though he passed away prematurely from stress due to the dam construction.
  • Lake Pleasant has 400 wild burros. They’re originally from Africa and were brought in for mining. There are two kinds – Nubian (with a white cross) and Somalian.
  • Lake Pleasant holds all the water used by Phoenix and Tucson. It’s a major part of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) for water delivery. In the summer, the lake levels are down because of water delivery. In the winter, lake levels are at their highest. Most of the water comes from the Colorado River.
  • Creosote has oil on its leaves and that oil can be used as an anti-fungal and antiseptic.
  • Brittle Bush was used as incense in Mexico.
  • Packrats create dens that are called middens. (I had to look up the spelling…I thought Terry was saying mittens!) They like to collect the scat from different animals and decorate their midden. The scat throws off predators. We’ve got a lot of these at the ranch so it was exciting to learn that there are packrats living in them.

Lake Pleasant

Chris, Mom, Dad

Sunset at Lake Pleasant

Yarnell Fire

I’m absolutely heartbroken about the 19 firefighters who died while fighting the Yarnell fire. Our ranch is about 30 minutes from Yarnell and we love that little town. Yarnell and the kind people in it was a major reason we chose that area. The loss of life and property is truly sad. My heart goes out to everyone and I look forward to being about to help the town rebuild and support the community.

Here are some pictures from Yarnell that I’ve taken over the past year:

Yarnell Fire Department

Cloudcroft

Cloudcroft

Yarnell Emporium

Thank you from my Credit Card

Today I got an email from my credit card company thanking me for my loyalty. They offered me a cup of coffee through a $5 gift card they’ll send me in the mail 4 – 6 weeks from now. Really? The better thank you would be to take $5 off my next credit card bill.

Thank you cup of coffee

Online Retail: Search

You may or may not know that I work in software that is mostly used by retailers. The past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about retail and supply chain. While I don’t specialize in e-commerce, due to my love of the Internet, I’m fascinated by it. Most of my interaction with online retail is as a consumer and I’m frustrated. Most retailers suck are only marginally decent at selling stuff online. But my business side knows it can be better! It can be fixed! Customers can be wowed.

Search
I want to talk about search.

A few months ago, I painted our bathroom and we’ve been doing a little bit of remodeling. I’ve had a hard time finding a new shower curtain I like (and that Chris would be happy with). Yesterday, I found something I like at Target so I bought it and a couple matching towels. Unfortunately, the store I was in was out of the matching bath rug. No worries, I was sure I could buy it online or at another location.

So this morning, I set out to search for this bath rug at Target.com.
Target.com

It’s obvious to me which menu I want and I easily figure out to get to the right area of the site.
Target.com Menu for Bath Rugs

Target.com Bath Rugs

Because there are almost 200 items in this category, I want to narrow my search. This is where I start seeing issues. First, I can narrow by category. As you can see, the first four items are useless. To me, they’re all the same – I can’t tell you the difference between Area Rug, Bath Mat, Bath Rug, and Bath Rug Collection.

Target.com Narrow Search by category

Since I already bought the shower curtain and towels, I know the brand of the product so I can narrow by brand. In this case, the brand is Threshold. But apparently Target’s web software thinks that Threshold and Threshold™ are different brands.

Target.com Narrow Search by brand

These are the kind of thing that drives me crazy about online retail! Have we forgotten that people – real people – are shopping, not computers? (I get that there’s a lot of importance to making a computer-read page too but that’s a whole different discussion.)

The really frustrating thing to me is how easy this is to solve. The data could be cleaned up or we could relax the software rules that build the categories for search. My suggestion is to simply clean up the data and leave the software alone. Hire someone. Or push this back on the manufacturers to provide clean, consistent data in the first place. I know from experience that if the data is wrong on the website, it’s likely wrong on all systems across the company. Cleaning up the data in the master database will help the online customer and it will help people across the organization.

Data, data, data. It’s not hard.

My story has a happy ending. I was able to narrow my search by clicking on both brands and I found the product I wanted. Then I used my favorite button, “Find in Store” and by the magic of inventory systems, I found that a store near me has the product. Later today, I’m going to go buy it, which is exactly what this retailer wanted me to do. But they didn’t have to frustrate me in the process.
Target.com Product