March 30, 2009

Poof! I got a New Computer!!!

A few posts back I was talking about visualizing to get what you want. I've also mentioned before, I really need a new computer. It finally happened, I got a new computer!

First, I'm embarrassed to say, my old computer is a 1g RAM with a 40g hard drive. This was suitable for a good long time, until I started playing more and more with what I do here online. I found opening several tabs, working, and maintaining my sanity quite difficult.

Second, I celebrated a birthday last week, and to my surprise, my office transformed into everything I have been visualizing except the new computer. My husband bought me new chair and a new shredder, which I was totally enthralled with. Then I was taken out to dinner, even better since I did not have to cook!

For years I have told everyone who gives me anything, "I really prefer you give me cash." This year instead of jewelry, perfume, and anti-aging creams and lotions, I got cash.

The next day, my husband and I were talking and he asked me if I wanted to go shopping to spend some of my loot. I said, "well, I could use some new shorts for summer and possibly a new swimsuit." We packed up the kids and went to Best Buy.

I was thinking okay, I suppose you need something here. We looked at the computers while we were there. To digress a bit, I have to say, did you know the PCs there don't come with any pre-loaded software aside from Vista? No word program, money, or games, which I thought was rather cheap since you're paying so much upfront already.

We proceeded to WalMart for my clothes. We ended up in electronics and found a smoking deal on a new computer. It's an HP with 5g RAM and 500g hard drive. It also has a huge 20 inch monitor. The software package included everything I would need, including a bunch of games.

My husband told me to get it, so I did!

What a difference a few gig makes. I'm not quite used to Vista yet, old XP habits die hard. I had some issues getting FireFox to install, but I'm finally there. This week I'll be busy transferring files from the old nag, which the teen inherited. (She's pleased since she will be upgrading from an old Acer with only a 512mb hard drive, I can't remember the RAM on it. Let's just say it was bad and still ran Windows 98.)

Visualizing works! It also helps to tell every family member you have you prefer cash gifts or gift cards.

A final note: Since I have this new monitor I found my blog rested to the left of the screen. I changed some of the alignment to center it and adjust automatically to what monitor was viewing it. Please tell me if my adjustments messed up viewing the blog, centered it, or did nothing. I see it as spread way apart, but centered. I'm trying to fix that spread, but in the meantime any input would help. Thanks!
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March 20, 2009

Spring Cleaning and Planting time!

March 20 is the first day of spring this year. Spring Break is upon us so my teen will be home and underfoot this week. Though we're not going anywhere, we do have plans to get some things done around the house.

Every spring I like to purge. I started my spring cleaning a little early this year. I cleaned out my closet and donated 3 huge bags of clothes to Ronald McDonald House. The teen will be doing her closet this week. I'm sure here clothes will be a bigger help to the charity since hers are more stylish.

After the closets are finished I'm going to rearrange some of my planter beds. The yard is in desperate need of attention since we've had little rain. I'm looking to plant a few trees in the center of the yard. We found out recently there will be a house built across the street. We want to keep our view as natural as possible and trees should block the building nicely.

Okay, the truth is, I want big, fast growing, thick trees. When we moved here we knew a house would go up on that lot eventually. We've seen what's been popping up in the neighborhood. People are moving to the country, leveling the lots, and making our quaint area like city plats. It's crazy.

I'm thinking about planting Austrees . They are not indigenous to our area, but they look like exactly the effect we want and they're supposedly non-invasive. We're still doing research on them.

I've also thought about planting a run of Oleander, which is indigenous. However, I don't think these bushes will be enough for blockage. We have several established in the yard already and they seem stubby and short, but the flowers are nice. One big benefit of the Oleander is the deer don't eat them.

I wish the people who built our home would have left more trees in the yard. There are still remnants of stumps and roots where they leveled the lot. We've been working on clearing those, what a pain.

I hope everyone doing spring cleaning and planting this week enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Spring to all!
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March 17, 2009

Social Security Administration Observations

Yesterday I went to the Social Security Administration to get a replacement card. My Social Security card was accidentally torn. This will never happen again, believe me. Why you cannot laminate these paper beauties is beyond me.

I have a few observations about my visit:

  1. It is against the law to kill, kidnap, abuse or otherwise harm a Social Security Administrator while they are performing their duties. Funny, I thought it was illegal to do this period. Well, just so you know, this warning is posted on the wall.
  2. Make an appointment if at all possible. This will cut your wait time down to one hour. If you try calling in advance for information or to make an appointment, expect the direct line to be busy. Call the 1-800 number so you can speak to the computer and get nowhere.
  3. If you walk in and wait, your estimated wait time is well over 2 hours, even if they tell you it will be approximately 90 minutes. And, whatever you do, don't leave the room once you check in (even to use the restroom). If they call you after you've checked in and you don't respond, you will lose your turn. Also, consider bringing your own seating as there are not enough chairs to accommodate everyone.
  4. Don't bring your kids. Children cannot sit and wait patiently for hours on end. The Social Security Administration does not provide entertainment for kids nor do they appreciate your children using the water fountain as their personal sprinkler toy.
  5. Don't bother bringing your camera to take candid images of your experience. This is posted on the entrance door: "No Cameras or Photographs Allowed!"
  6. Even though there are several service windows, only one will be open at any given time. You will, however, see many Social Security Administrators conjugated beyond the walls and wonder why they are not assisting people.
  7. You cannot obtain a Social Security card for any person other than yourself, if they are not infants or incapacitated, even with their identification in hand. You must apply in person. Three "customers" tried to do this while I was waiting.
  8. Proper identification is your state issued driver's license or identification card, military ID, green card, or passport. Your library card does not qualify. If you provide ID other than the above accepted, you will be turned away and have to return for another long wait time. This happened twice during my visit.
  9. Even though there is a television in the waiting room to help pass the time, don't expect it to be on.
  10. The Social Security Administration has a security guard to keep people in line and assist you. However, they are uninformative and allowed to ignore you while they play on their cell phones and surf the Internet on their provided desktop computer.
  11. When you visit the offices, don't be shy. Expect to gain some lifetime friends, or perhaps a new partner, when you conduct business there. With the tight quarters, limited seating, and long wait time you will become too close for comfort and have your personal space invaded.

Of course, before I went to the office in person, I had an online encounter with the Social Security website. Posted everywhere in the office are signs telling you to conduct most of your Social Security business online to save time and hassle. Sadly, you can only get a new card in person. Here's some of my online observations:

  1. The website has links that give you 404 messages.
  2. The pdf links to forms are as slow as molasses.
  3. The office locator does not allow you to directly zoom or expand the map and the written directions are rather sketchy.
More about the office locator, I live outside of San Antonio, which is a fairly large city. When I plugged in my zip code the office locator said my local Social Security office was in Seguin, which is over 100 miles from my home.

In San Antonio there is only one office to get a new Social Security card. This office is located downtown in the center of the city. It is also over 75 miles from my home-not very convenient. I would think Social Security, as big as it is, would have more service centers especially in a city the size of San Antonio.

I searched the office locator with several different zip codes hoping to find an office closer to me. I had no luck plugging San Antonio zip codes, only the downtown office popped up. You can only search for offices by zip code, by the way. But they do have a link for you to look up zip codes if you need to, and you will.

Finally, I went outside of the box and plugged in some zip codes from surrounding towns and found an office about 35 miles from my home.

In the end, my business with the Social Security Administration is done. I can expect my new card to arrive in the mail in 4 to 6 weeks!

Wait, I just had a funny thought, you can go to the office of Vital Statistics where you were born, or died, and get a certified birth or death certificate immediately. Why can't Social Security cards be printed immediately?

Also, in the office, they have signs posted about identity theft prevention and to guard from throwing your Social Security card in the trash. I can expect my card in the mail, regular mail, that is placed in a box that sits unguarded on the side of the road. What's to prevent someone from pilfering my Social Security card from my mailbox? I mean, if they'll dig in the trash to steal an identity, surely they'll steal mail too.

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March 13, 2009

Ellen Wants 1 Million Twitter Followers

I watch Ellen almost daily and, like many, she's jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. She's looking to get 1 million Twitter followers. I'm sure if anyone can do it, she can. As of this post @TheEllenShow followers are over 120,000.

I don't usually do posts at this time of day, I should be cooking dinner. As a matter of fact, I haven't posted this many times in one week in a long time. I guess playing around with the blog's back end so much lately has made me post crazy.

I've been playing around on Twitter myself, not actually tweeting. I'm reading and following tweets to see what exactly Twitter is all about. So, I get it that Ellen is intrigued with it.

I've learned quite a few things about networking, marketing, and surviving on the Internet from various Twitter-ers. I suspect I'll learn more before it's all said and done.

If you're on Twitter, let's help @TheEllenShow get to 1 million by following. Good Luck Ellen!
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March 11, 2009

Follow Directions: the Answer is Boots

In junior high I had a teacher I loved. We played Pente during our free time and learned critical thinking, problem solving, and how to be better students effortlessly under his direction. This teacher really knew his stuff and how to get kids to learn and follow directions.

One thing that has always stuck with me was something he did, or should I say, said. He was teaching us how to follow directions. We all know how to do that, right? He went to each student and whispered in their ear. Then the student would say something back. He would either tell the student to stand or remain seated.

I watched as student after student was passed and most remained seated. I could not wait for him to come to me as I knew I would have the correct response. Finally he came to my desk. He leaned into my ear and said: "Say just what I say. Say boots...without shoes."

You know what I said? I said, "boots!"

Teachers like this are hard to forget. They really make learning fun and interesting.

I've been examining a few things about my blogs and doing some problem solving, critical thinking, and following directions; just as my teacher taught me many years ago. One thing I found very, very interesting was my page rank on Inspired plummeted to a big fat ZERO. Okay, so I know this blog will probably never be on top, but it was hovering between 2 and 3, which I considered fairly respectable for what it is.

During my examinations I found Inspired was not verified and did not have a sitemap. (These were things I was sure I did when I started this blog almost two years back.) Given these two factors, this blog has not been on the crawled for who knows how long. Well I've done verified and mapped it, again.

If you have a Blogspot blog, I would check if you're verified and have a sitemap submitted in the Webmaster tools of your google account dashboard. It's easy to do, just follow the directions.

To be doubly sure it gets crawled I added Meta tags. Do I know what Meta tags are? No. But I have them as supposedly they give spiders pertinent information about your blog.

I would have never known about the fall in page rank had I not been messing around with the newer blogs I've been building. Revisiting all you learn in the beginning certainly helps keep you on track in the end. Really, all I had to do all along was follow directions.
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March 4, 2009

Building a Niche Blog


I've been working on building a niche blog. Like I don't have enough things going on already. I decided to buckle down and work my affiliate marketing endeavors to maximize my online earning potential.

My first decision, after deciding to build this niche blog, was which platform to go with. Everyone in affiliate marketing seems to promote Wordpress as the best platform. I decided to stick with Blogger.

I'll tell you why.
  • I already have an account with Blogger.
  • I already know how Blogger works and how to set it up.
  • I figured this would be the easiest and fastest way to get the blog started.
I did do a little research prior to making my decision. The research showed Wordpress would work better for a SEO blog, which is what the new blog will be wrapped around; however, Blogger indexes slightly faster. Another major factor is Blogger is part of Google: Google is a search engine, Google has taken over FeedBurner, Google has AdWords, plus my above mentioned reasons.

Second I had to decide the niche. Previously I talked about niches in my post on Inspired about branding. At that point in my blogging and web writing, I did not have a niche blog. Well, I built Squidoo to Do for Me and You, which you can consider a niche blog. Now I'll be diving in a bit further with my new blog: My Fish Tank Adventures.

I chose fish-tank-aquarium-care as my URL (not my first choice but doable). Fish tanks and aquariums are well searched topics, about 200,000 and 3,000,000 respectively according to Google AdWords, which is good for me.

I just happen to know a thing or two about fish tanks, aquariums, and fish in general-content won't be hard for me to put up. I'm also an affiliate for AquariumsDirect.com. Finally, I found a couple of good clickbank items I can post on the site in hopes of generating an income from Clickbank in addition to Pepperjam Network..

Lastly, building My Fish Tank Adventures will be a family affair. My oldest has aspirations to become a Marine Biologist or Oceanographer some day. The little one just loves fish. My husband and I combined have 30 +++ years experience with aquariums. This said, I probably won't have to come up with all the content on my own.

This should be a fun niche blog to keep up. Since I plan to continue my online endeavors, I had to build it for the experience of creating a targeted, niche, branded blog.
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