About Face………………

Drive into a neighborhood you have never been to. One that you know nothing about. Now pick a house. Doesn’t matter which one. Look at the size, and shape, and how it is kept up. Is the yard mowed or the grass long?  Is it orderly, or is there things left all over?  Does it look clean or dirty?

Based on your observations, now imagine who the people are that live in that house. I would guess that by the appearance of what kind of house it is, the neighborhood, whether it’s kept up or not, you have a pretty good idea of what they might look like.

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Now keep driving around until you see a couple of houses that are similar, but different colors. One might be a neutral beige, and the other a hot pink, or maybe many different colors. What do you think of the people who might be living in them? The houses are pretty much the same, but does the color make you think that the people are different?

Based on our past experiences, influences (such as parents, TV, friends), and observations, we all have opinions and visual expectations of who we might perceive coming out of those houses to greet us if we went up and rang the doorbell. And a lot of time, we might be pretty close. But in reality, we have absolutely no idea of who would come to the door. We don’t know one thing about them, their dreams, desires, their past, their future. Whether they are good people or bad. The only thing we will know for sure is our desire to justify our preconceived notions about them.

Why is this? Why do we want to place everything we see in a category? I think it might come from our past, when we had to decide instantly whether something is going to harm us, help us, or at the least, educate us for next time. I’m talking millions of years of trying to keep from getting eaten.

Moving to a completely unknown area has made me more observant. Of houses, the cars people drive, their yards, clothing, but mostly….faces.

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Our face is how the world sees us. Our face doesn’t change (except getting more wrinkles), but the perception of us does by who is looking at us. Every face is as unique as us, but for some reason, we want to pigeon-hole and categorize the person behind the face based on our lifelong study of faces. Just like houses, we base our opinions on the shape, the care, the detail and the color of the face. How we get that opinion is based on our never-ending bombardment of information about similar faces. And just like houses, we make our assumptions before we ever ring the doorbell.

And just like houses, we really don’t know one thing about the person behind that face just by looking at them.

Living in Hawaii, I see lots of unfamiliar faces. Just like in the old Doors song, “People are strange when you’re a stranger.” Because I was raised and lived mostly in a one race town, growing up I did not have a tremendous amount of contact with other cultures, other faces. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my opinions about them. It’s just that I realize they are mostly wrong. Even my decade’s long career in retail sales taught me little about the real person behind the face I was dealing with.

My kids make comments about faces. They categorize them by what they call their resting face. Like a resting sad face, or a resting happy face. Or mad face. It’s mostly about people we know, and it makes us laugh because usually, it’s nothing like the person we know behind the face. I know they are forming their own opinions about the faces they see. By the way, I supposedly have a resting happy face, according to them.

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Images of faces and the story behind them are everywhere. Every time someone is arrested, or act inappropriately, they get their face plastered all over the media. That face then becomes associated with that act. I’m glad I don’t look like Charles Manson or Donald Trump. Even people who look normal (whatever that may be) commit horrendous crimes or should be avoided.  Should everyone then become suspect? That would be a horrible way to live.

I saw the new movie, Wonder, and this is a perfect example of judging a face and not the person behind it. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to do so. It’s a great movie. Bring lots of tissue.

Our face is the front door to the home in which our soul resides. Once in awhile, I get an unbiased glimpse of my face. Before the delusion begins. Before I dismiss the wrinkles and sagging skin, the darkened circles, the graying hair. Before I mask my face the way I think the world should see me. But by doing that, I am depriving the world and myself of connection. The connection of the real me. Almost everyone does. That’s what faces do, protect those inside the house. Doors are meant to protect, I guess it’s the same with faces.

I get judged a lot. By the color of my skin, the age of my skin. My sex, my gray hair, my crooked bottom teeth. I understand it. That’s what humans do. When I was younger, I used to get looks from the opposite sex, checking me out I would assume. I did the same. Now I get looks from the opposite sex. I wonder what in the world they are thinking about.

I know that our skill of judging a person has to do with our past survival. And in many ways, it still serves us. Who hasn’t seen a scary person who should be avoided? Obviously, we must use our brains. But take away the shape and color of the face, and there is one thing that we all have that is pretty much the same, the eyes. Our pupils are all round, the sclera white, with the iris only changing with different colors. This then might be the person behind the face. The old saying you only get to know someone by looking in their eyes might be the truest way.

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I know when my kids are happy or sad. I know when a friend is glad to see me. I know when someone I love feels the same about me. It’s because I know who they are behind their face.

I look at everyone’s face, sometimes openly but usually try to be discreet. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one doing that. I can look at everyone around me, and they all seem to be oblivious or absorbed in what they are doing, they hardly notice anyone’s face. Maybe we all feel this way, or maybe it is just me. I bought a pair of those hard to see my eyes sunglasses so I can look more, but I might just be fooling myself because everyone thinks that whoever is wearing glasses like that is looking, so don’t look back at them.

My comfort zone says to keep to myself, my curiosity says to reach out. This new life in Maui has given me a great opportunity to expand myself. To expand myself, I need to connect with others who are not like me. I need to get to know more of others than just what I think their face is telling me. I need to get to know them.

I’m guessing the only way to get to know who someone is, is to ring the doorbell. 

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A Thanksgiving to Remember…………….

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and for the first time in my life, I will be spending it alone. I really don’t know anyone on Maui except for my kids and ex-wife, and they are spending the day with her. Needless to say, I didn’t go out and get a big turkey to cook.

But instead of feeling lonely, I feel it’s going to be one of my best Thanksgivings ever. Instead of getting caught up in all the cooking, visiting, drama, travel and endless TV watching with a bloated gut, I am going to spend the day remembering my family who are no longer here.  I am going to spend the day with my Mom and Dad, honoring and remembering them, and giving thanks for the absolutely wonderful life they have given me.

It was a rainy start to the spring of 1991. I stopped at my parent’s home on my way home from work to take care of their two cats.

My Mom was on a trip to Arizona visiting relatives with her sister, and my Dad was on a fishing trip with my sister’s husband. I used to be the one who went fishing all the time with him, but when I grew to adulthood, I lost interest in the sport and was too busy anyway. He surprised me when I opened the door to find him reading the paper in the recliner. He had just gotten back from his trip the hour before and just catching up on the news. I was happy to see him.  Not only was he my Dad, he was also my best friend. I stopped every morning for a cup of coffee on my way to work, my Mom would have it waiting since I got my job selling cars.  He was very interested in my job and very proud I could tell.

I went to my home after that, which was about 10 blocks from my parents. Within 2 hours, my Dad passed away. This was May of 1991. He was born in 1920. He was 71.

This took our family completely by surprise. We were an extremely close family. None of us had kids, and our lives had always been intertwined with my Dad as the glue. With the exception of my Grandparents who had passed many years before, most before I was born, death had never touched our immediate family unit. We were devastated, and it changed our dynamic. The funeral was a blur to me, and he was buried in a small cemetery close to where we grew up on the farm. All that we had been through, all that we thought was yet to come, was over. Camelot was gone. (That’s what we called our idyllic life growing up).

My Mom stayed in the little house my Dad had bought for her, but I no longer stopped for coffee on my way to work, it was too hard for me. I couldn’t even go in the house if she wasn’t home, didn’t feel right. They say time heals all wounds. Never really has. In fact, it took me over 10 years to visit my Dad’s grave. My soon to be wife finally convinced me I should go. She knew what I needed more than me. It helped the healing process.

Mom was 69 at the time, funny to think about now that I am getting close to that, and never wanted another man in her life. “I took care of one for almost 50 years, why would I want to do that again” she would say. I would come home late from work, drive by her house, and see her sitting in the recliner by the window reading, or sometimes sleeping, in the light of the table lamp. I would cry.

Now what I find interesting is that I feel the same way she did about getting together with someone else. If you have a big scale, and on one end was a caregiver, and the other caretaker, I would be off the scale on the caregiver side. I believe that a big reason why a lot of my relationships failed is that I was too smothering in all the things I wanted to do for them. I lost my identity trying to fit into the mold of what I thought the other person wanted. So I’m taking a break and will be much abler to have a balanced relationship when I am ready. I like taking care of my kids right now, it satisfies the need for caregiving, and they have come to expect this of their Dad. I will, however, have to adjust when they get older and strive for more independence.

We continued to have our holidays together, with the only change of people the person I was dating at the time.  We all knew it wasn’t the same without my dad, but we never talked about it. Eventually, I got married, opened up a gift shop, moved away from their neighborhood into a different part of town, and had my daughter. Mom worked in my sister’s shop and mine to stay busy, and I really think she enjoyed her alone time. I don’t think she was ever prepared to have the life she did. She was a college educated big city girl from Milwaukee, and never expected to end up a farm wife in the middle of nowhere. She did enjoy traveling and took me all over the US when I was young, just her and I, and I have a thousand wonderful memories because of it.

When my daughter was 9 months old, we moved 200 miles away to be closer to my wife’s parents. It was hard to visit from then on, I worked so much, had a son, and time was in short supply. We used to drive up for the day, 4 hours of driving each way and visit for a few hours every other month. She loved the kids, and always had big bags of presents for them whenever we came to visit. It was hard to see her getting older, which stands out more when you don’t see someone every day.

My Mom lived to be 87. She was born in 1922 and passed away in October of 2009.

At the funeral, I learned something about her that I never knew. She loved opera. In fact, My sister said she had a beautiful voice and she would catch my Mom singing opera by herself in her house. Unknown to me, or anyone else, my sister arranged for an opera singer to sing at my Mom’s service. It was beautiful of course. After everyone was gone, that’s when she told me about my Mom’s secret opera singing. I wish I had heard her. My Mom was also a big bowler, not professional or anything like that, but just loved the sport. She would travel around with the bowling league around the country and bowl. We even owned a small bowling alley in our town for a few years. Because of that, she came up with her own life philosophy. “It’s not about the  strikes you get in life, but about the spares.” Meaning it’s not what happens to you, but how you handle it afterward and pick up the pieces.  The name of her team was Black Diamond Fur Farm, the name of our mink ranch. They had these beautiful black bowling shirts made up. Many years after, she had saved a few shirts and had them framed into a picture for each one of us kids. Mine still proudly hangs in my house.

I had the perfect childhood. I guess when it was time for me to come back and have another human experience, I must have earned this spot. (My ex-wife says I must have been a slave in a previous life because I work so damn hard). I think I was an oop-see kid, coming 5 years after my sisters, but I was certainly never treated like that. There has never been a day my whole life that I felt my parents didn’t love or support me 100%. My Dad gave me everything I wanted, and if he was displeased about something, never said a word but just gave you one of those looks. My Mom was loving, and being Greek showed lots of attention.  We spent countless hours in the evenings playing Smear or Yahtzee. I think it really helped me develop a math brain. Every night at 5:00 sharp, dinner would be on the table, and we ate together as a family. She loved to cook, and had ton’s more food than what we could eat, which came in handy if you wanted a friend to have dinner with us.  I really don’t ever remember being disciplined, certainly not physically, and they raised me in the belief I could be, or do anything I wanted in my life. They instilled in me confidence, imagination, respect, and a hard work ethic.

My Mom and I traveled and did a lot of stuff together. My sisters were almost or were teenagers, and you know they don’t want to be with their parents. I loved to be. One year we took a trip to the Wisconsin Dells, Mom and I, and went to one of these tourist traps that had all the weird stuff set up. One of the things was a cave you could go in. We went into the dark cave, and about 50 feet in was a stuffed bear. My Mom thought it was real and knocked me over running out of the cave. Only when she got outside that she realized she had left me inside to be eaten. We laughed about that story for years.

My dad loved to hunt and fish. My Mom loved to travel. They never entertained much or had close adult friends, so my two Sisters and I were it. I did everything with them. As I grew up and was out finding an identity of my own, I always knew they were there for me at any time.  When I rebelled and went through my party days, they gave me my freedom to do what I wanted, relying on the hope that they taught me to do the right things, and knowing that I would get it out of my system someday. Must have taught me right, I never landed in jail, hurt anyone, stole anything, or did anything I would really regret. Eventually, I came back down to Earth, they were right, and when I did, it would be to go into business with my Dad until he retired.

To be honest, I took them for granted. They were always my safety net, my rock, my safe place. I always knew that I could always depend on their help no matter what. Of course that all changed when they died. Your solid ground was gone, and now you had to make your own way on the shifting sand.

Of course, there comes a time when the parent/child relationship changes. When they finally see you as a person. Mine wasn’t one of those ah-ha moments but changed slowly over time. From our being partners to my going out and getting a very well paying career. By the time my Dad passed, he knew that I could take care of myself in the world. I imagine he felt some comfort and pride in that. And after he died, my Mom looked at me for all her big decisions. I was now the man of the family.

Until you have children of your own, I don’t think you can fathom how many sacrifices your parents made for you. I know I didn’t. Having kids now puts them in an entirely new light. I wish I would have known this sooner, I would have liked to thank them for all that they did for me. I think I am a pretty good Dad, that my parents would be proud of the person I have become, and the parent I am. I like to think that somehow they know that.

I was lucky as a kid, before the days of divorces and mixed families, where the lines of parenting get stretched thin.  My parents lived their lives with dignity, and that’s how they left this world.

When I look at some of their old faded photographs, which I left behind in storage in Minnesota, I see my Mom and Dad. But I know they are more, much more than that. They were people with dreams and hopes and lives. I can’t even begin to fathom all that they did, and saw, and felt, nor should I. The thing that makes all of us unique is our experiences, and in that, they were the richest people. Their lives were filled with love, and kindness, and giving, and sharing, and most importantly, they enjoyed their lives. They lived incredible lives. The biggest thing I can do to honor them is to enjoy the life I have. That would be their legacy to me.

My kids don’t remember my parents very well. And I don’t remember my parent’s parents and their parents before them very well, if at all. That’s the circle of life. I will pass on my memories of them the best I can to my kids, but they have their own lives to live, and someday they will remember me. They don’t need another big meal to remember their Dad. I hope they remember the unconditional love I give to them.

So tomorrow when I sit down for my Thanksgiving meal, I will be eating it for three. I will remember my life with them, and give thanks that I was so fortunate to have them for my parents, my best friends, my mentors, my teachers, my protectors, and oh so much more.  I think it will be a great day.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

“ I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.”         Maya Angelou

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My Defining Decade: The 70’s

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”      Helen Keller

Time is uniquely human. Animals don’t care, don’t know. They eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are tired. The Earth, time means nothing. The Universe, same. But as humans, we are counting the clock since the day we are born until we die. And even though every microsecond on the clock is exactly the same for everyone, what happens to each of us in time is as different as our DNA.

We all have a Time Machine in our mind. We can travel back to any time in our life, and imagine the future going forward. Unfortunately, the Time Machine keeps many of locked in the past, or worried about the future, instead of being mindful, which is living and enjoying the present. I am as guilty, if not more so than anyone. But there is one time in the past I enjoy going to in my Time Machine, the 70’s. (That’s the 1970’s).

January 1st, 1970. The beginning of the Seventies. I was a junior in high school, wire-rim glasses and hair almost to my waist, a hot girlfriend who had moved to my hometown from California, and driving what is now and has been my favorite car, a 1970 bright blue Plymouth Road Runner with a Hearst shifter, huge rims, a racing stripe down the hood, and a horn that went beep-beep. The Seventies were starting pretty good for a small town farm boy in Northern Minnesota.

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The Vietnam War was on everyone’s mind, especially those of us boys turning 18. Yes, there was the draft, and I was the last of it. I remember listening to the radio when they drew and read the numbers for your Birthday. The lower the number, the more likely you had to go into the military, which wasn’t revered and respected like it is now. My number was 250 something, which meant I probably wouldn’t have to go, and I didn’t. The draft ended that year.

Music was everything. Even though we had to listen to it on eight tracks, bands like Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Quicksilver,  Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and a hundred other popular bands and songs filled the air. We were our music. Disco came along in the mid 70’s, and I loved it. I was living on a sailboat with a girl I met in Key West, Florida when it started. It followed me back to Minnesota, and the clubs were alive with dancing under mirrored balls and lighted floors. I wore platform shoes and flared plaid pants and even taught Disco dancing with a girl I was dating for a while.

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Classic movies like Star Wars, Jaws, Grease, The Exorcist, Superman, Saturday Night Fever, Rocky and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest made us dream and imagine. We played Pac Man in the bars, drank 50 cent drinks, gas was 25 cents a gallon (at least until the oil crisis) and a pack of smokes was also a quarter. I worked part-time in a Men’s clothing store, so of course, I had a couple of Leisure Suits too. Johnny Carson was the King of Late Night Television.

My parents were still alive. What I wouldn’t give to be able to drive up to our home and see my Mom smiling out the kitchen window. She loved to cook. Or walking next door to the farm and seeing my Dad doing what he loved. He loved being a farmer.

Eventually, I married a hometown girl after numerous girlfriends and dozens of cross-country trips. I settled into a working married life, driving truck and working with my parents on their farm. I also bought a 400-acre farm and had tractors and all that fun stuff. As the decade wore on, the economy sucked, gas got expensive, and jobs were hard to find and interest rates soared, but it taught me that none of that stuff matters. You make your own way in life.

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The 70’s either defined me, or I defined the 70’s, I’m not sure. It was a decade of change for a boy of 18 to a man of 28. Those ten years probably created more memories than the other 50 for me. It was a time of discovery and change. We often say if we could go back and do it again, this would be the time for me. Would have I changed anything, of course. I made a lot of mistakes like everyone else. Saying you have no regrets is a whole lot easier than meaning it. I think a lot about the choices I made, and how my life would have different had I chosen differently. I hope to impart some of that wisdom to my kids, not that they will listen to any of it. And in a way I agree, you learn by doing. I just hope the lesson they learn is that everything you do today, is tomorrow’s memory.

December 31st, 1979. The Seventies have ended. So has my marriage. The next decade brought a lot of change too, from moving and selling my farm, and eventually getting the occupation which I stayed with for 30 years. Nothing ever came close to the experiences I had in those carefree years of the 70’s. Well, they weren’t all carefree I agree. I had plenty of tough emotional, physical, and financial times too. They were a huge deal then, but looking back I have tempered them over the years.

Now when I hear an old song, one with a strong emotional attachment, or happen upon an old photograph of an instant frozen forever in time or talk to an old friend, I get in my Time Machine and travel back. I have had a wonderfully full life, and feel grateful for every minute of it. I feel I have lived two lifetimes, one lifetime in those ten years of the 70’s, and another the rest of the time. Sometimes I think about all that happened to me at that time and am amazed how much there was. Now ten years go by in the blink of an eye.  Maybe the best is yet to come, but I will always be connected to the 70’s.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

Mark Twain

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The Perfect Ten Minute Meditation……….

I don’t like to meditate. I know it’s good for me.

I love sunsets. To me, they are very relaxing. I know you aren’t supposed to look directly at the Sun. I do it anyway.

They say (whoever they are) that at least 10 minutes of meditation a day will lower your stress. I believe that. But to tell you the truth, I get more stressed trying to meditate. I try it at home, but then my computer or phone beeps and I have to check. If I go outside, then a car drives by or someone starts their weed wacker. I have seen a lot of people meditate on the beach. Seems like the perfect place. But not for me.

I figured it out. I don’t like to have my eyes closed unless I’m tucked safely in bed. It’s kind of like being in a shower, I feel vulnerable.  Lately, I have tried to meditate for a few minutes after my beach walk, I close my eyes, concentrate on the sound of the waves, then someone with a dog walks by and the dog runs over and sniffs me. That will make you jump with your eyes closed. There are also a lot of tiny crabs that come out of holes all over the beach. They are very timid and will scurry back if you walk by, but when you sit quietly, they jump out and run around you. That’s a bit unnerving too. Finally, and I know it’s because I’m a guy, some hot gal in a very skimpy bikini walks by. That changes my entire meditation thought. (I may be old but not dead).

Last night my Daughter and I drove up the volcano instead of down to the beach to watch the sunset, the first time for me. It was gorgeous and I filmed ten minutes of it. When I got home and watched, it was extremely relaxing but lacked sound. I found some music, combined them and I now have the perfect solution for my meditation quandary.

I hope you enjoy watching this Maui sunset from a two thousand foot elevation and perfect 75 degrees.

 

 

 

 

Guaranteed two step method for using the internet to make money. Part II.

First, let’s recap what the two ways are to make money off the internet.

  • Find jobs posted by Monster, Indeed, CareerBuilder, etc. in your area that you are qualified for.
  • Go get that job. You have now used the internet to find a job that will make you money.

In the last blog, we talked about one of the only legit ways to make money selling services or products on the internet, which is Amazon, or it could be another large retailer with an affiliate program. You are actually selling something of value, and getting paid a commission for that service. Unfortunately, you also have to compete with that company. Google something you want to buy, and Amazon or Walmart will probably always pop out on top of the search, followed by a huge host of others selling the same or similar products. It’s these retailers that are your competition. I want to also mention that you may have something of yours that you want to sell or are already selling. That’s great. Good luck with that.

When I first signed up with Amazon, I had visions of huge profits coming my way from the enormous amount of products I could offer on my websites. After a couple of weeks of adding links, I wasn’t getting any sales and went to Amazon’s Affiliate blog, where other Affiliates offer help and opinions. I posted that perhaps I was putting the wrong products on my site, and that may be the reason for my failure so far. One insightful person answered back. Why would I want to compete with Amazon with their own products? Didn’t really sink in for several days. In the end, he was right.

I mentioned on my last blog that advertising was the only way to really get the numbers of eyes to look at your website, and thus have a chance of selling them something. Basic numbers game, which plays out in every business. The question then becomes where do you advertise, and at what cost?  I have found out.

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Facebook:  A stock price will typically follow what a company earns. Shortly after it went public, Facebook’s stock was selling for under $20. That was only five years ago, in 2012. Today it closed at 50 cents short of $180. That’s nine times what it was selling for five years ago. You might be thinking, but how do they make any money? All they are is a social network, aren’t they? And Facebook is probably one of the most cost-effective (which means cheapest) ways to get your ad out there.

Haven’t you ever wondered why all those sponsored ads keep popping up? Or the chain of likes for something? Or how about searching for something on the internet, and how strange it is that an ad for it shows up on Facebook? Fate? I fear not. It’s advertising, and Facebook sells a lot of it. By the way, Facebook also owns Instagram, so all those ads show up there too.

Now remember from my hypothetical sales, I wanted to make $200 a day, and to do that I need 10,000 impressions on my website that will be seen by prospective buyers. That is not going to happen with my 95 subscribers. So I started advertising on Facebook.

Here are the amounts that I spent on each blog, starting in September. Remember also that I got almost 1100 impressions and 93 clicks to Amazon, and $0 sales. But I was optimistic that I would have gotten $20 from those impressions. And to get $200, I needed to have 10,000.

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I actually got 8,718 impressions from my advertising. I spent $149.77 to get those impressions. I had 336 people click on the ad, which is posted in the timeline on Facebook, which leads them to that particular blog. The results:

  1. Sales:  $0
  2. Subscribers: 0

The idea for an ad campaign is to not only try to sell them something on the spot but also get their email address so you can market to them in the future. I got neither, not one.But it did boost my daily number of blog views, which I guess made me feel pretty good. But just as fast as the numbers came in, they dropped.

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Although I sold nothing, I feel optimistically that I could have made close to $200 with the advertising I did, had the moon and stars all aligned. I spent $150. That’ a profit of $50. Do you know how many hours I spent writing blogs, and ads, and researching products and techniques? Countless to say the least.

Because of the huge numbers of traffic you need to generate, and only get from 1 to 10 percent commissions by selling real products, the only alternative is to look for something with a higher profit margin. And they are out there, like a bad virus waiting for you on the water fountain. In my next blog, I will talk about my venture into the high-profit world of eproducts.

See you in the next blog: Guaranteed two-step method for using the internet to make money. Part II.

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Guaranteed two step method for using the internet to make money. Nothing to buy.

For the last 10 months, I have been researching, buying courses and products, setting up 4 websites, signing up with Amazon to sell their products, signing up and selling products from Clickbank, signing up with Google for paid click advertising, and signing up with Peerfly, another product company that pays you for sending them leads.

I will go into each one of these in more depth, but you are reading this primarily to learn the guaranteed two-step method for using the internet to make money. Here it is.

  1. Find jobs posted by Monster, Indeed, CareerBuilder, etc. in your area that you are qualified for.
  2. Go get that job. You have now used the internet to find a job that will make you money.

There it is. If you think you can make a living off the internet, then I am going to save you some time. You can’t. At least not if you don’t want to lie, cheat, bug people to death, lose all your friends, and invest thousands of dollars in websites and email systems that will fail. The only people making money on the internet besides the legitimate retailers (think Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, and small boutique websites) are con artists who are selling you courses on how to make money off the internet. I know, I have looked into them all.

Let me go into more detail about each money-making opportunity.

AMAZON:  I will start with Amazon’s Affiliate Program because I think of all the programs out there, this one is actually legit, although making a lot of money from it is not possible. When you sign up for this program, Amazon will allow you to place links to their products on your webpages or blog posts. You have seen them on mine. If you were to click on a link, it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase the product from them. I would make a commission if you purchase the product within 24 hours of first linking it, and in fact, I would make a commission off anything you would buy within that 24 hour period from Amazon. Here is what I would earn on those purchases. It doesn’t cost the buyer of the product any more to buy this way.

Product Category Fixed Standard Program Fee Rates
Amazon Gift Cards, Wine 0.00%
Video Games & Video Game Consoles 1.00%
Televisions 2.00%
PC, PC Components, DVD & Blu-Ray 2.50%
Toys 3.00%
Physical Books, Health & Personal Care, Sports, Kitchen, Automotive, Baby Products 4.50%
Digital Music, Grocery, Physical Music, Handmade, Digital Videos 5.00%
Outdoors, Tools 5.50%
Headphones, Beauty, Musical Instruments, Business & Industrial Supplies 6.00%
Apparel, Amazon Element Smart TV (with Fire TV), Amazon Fire TV Devices, Jewelry, Luggage, Shoes, Handbags & Accessories, Watches 7.00%
Amazon Echo Devices, Amazon Fire Tablet Devices, Dash Buttons, Amazon Kindle Devices, Furniture, Home, Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Pets Products, Pantry 8.00%
Amazon Fashion Women, Men & Kids Private Label, Digital Video Games, Luxury Beauty, Amazon Coins 10.00%
All Other Categories

As you can see, it pays 1% to 10% on products purchased from a customer you send them. You may be thinking, that’s pretty good. If you average 5%, let’s say, for every $100 someone spends that you sent them through your website, you would earn 5 bucks. Let me show you how I fared.

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Since September 1st through yesterday, November 7th, I had 1,096 impressions (that means how many times a product with a link was displayed on my web pages). Of those 1,096 times, my link was clicked 93 times, linking that person with Amazon. I sold 0 products for $0 dollars. You may have clicked on one, I have no way of seeing who clicked and who did not. I do know that not one person bought anything, however. That translates into a click-through rate of .73, which means that for every thousand impressions on my pages, I will get on average 73 actual clicks from the product to Amazon. Now if I had actually made a sale, which I didn’t, I would have had another percentage that would have told me how much each click is worth.

Let’s do a hypothetical situation. Let’s imagine that for every 73 people that clicked on one of my Amazon links, 4 people actually purchased something. This is actually double the rate at which leads are converted to sales. Now, most of the stuff you would click on is stuff on sale or pertaining to something I was talking about, so the price probably wouldn’t be that much. But let’s get real imaginative and let’s say each of those 4 people spent $100. At my average commission rate of 5%, I would make $5 per person or a total of $20. In theory then, for every thousand impressions (where my product link is shown) I would make $20. Using this example, if I wanted to start making a living selling Amazon products, I would need 10,000 impressions per day on my blogs or web pages to make $200.

All of this might sound unimportant, but unless you have a website with tons of free traffic, in order to get the number of clicks to have a chance of someone buying something, you have to advertise. Advertising costs money, which I have also done, and that is something I will cover on my next blog, as about now you are probably getting as tired of reading this as I am in writing it.

See you in the next blog: Guaranteed two-step method for using the internet to make money. Part II.

Here are some links to show you how it works:

 

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The Road to Hana……………

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Lush rainforest on the Road to Hana.

The T-shirts are proudly worn as badges of honor, the coffee cups great souvenirs to remind you, small signs and refrigerator magnets to display in your kitchen. “I survived the Road to Hana” they say. Don’t go if you get carsick I hear. Better not drive a rental car there I’ve been told. Not for the faint of heart is cautioned. So what better way to spend the last day with my daughter alone before her brother gets back, than to go to Hana.

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The lava beach at Keanae.

 

Instead of a white-knuckle suicide mission, I and my daughter find the drive to Hana especially relaxing. The 52 miles of cliffside curves through tropical rainforest past waterfalls and sheer cliffs is gorgeous. With the windows down, the sunroof open, and soft music, you couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a day. The town of Hana itself is nothing much. In the early 1900’s the population was around 3500. Now it’s about 1200, not unlike a lot of small towns with a limited job market. One of the attractions is Charles Lindberg’s grave. He moved to Hana a few years before he passed away. There are all kinds of guidebooks and downloads to pinpoint every single thing. I’m not going to bore you with all those details.

It’s the road itself that makes the trip. Whether it’s hugging a cliff hundreds of feet above the ocean or rounding yet another curve with a beautiful waterfall, you seldom drive over 20 miles per hour, and many parts of the road, which was built in 1926, are single lane or in a continual state of repair. Once in Hana, you have the choice of either continuing around the rest of the island or turning back the way you came. I have always gone around the whole thing, but this time we had to turn around because the road was washed out ahead. Once past Hana, the road sometimes turns to gravel, is very narrow, and is a lot more treacherous. Huge rocky cliffs tower above you, and an occasional rock crashes down from above. Rental agencies don’t recommend you take their cars on this road, and mostly all traffic is discouraged. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to share of that side of the island at this time, but I’m sure I will the next time I go.

There are really two kinds of road trips to Hana. There are magnificent waterfalls to hike to and swim in, trails to explore, and outdoor opportunities around every corner. That’s one way. My daughter doesn’t like to hike, so we do the “stay in the car thing” stopping for lunch, getting banana bread at Aunty Sandy’s roadside stand, then eating it on the shore.  Cell service is nonexistent most of the way, as is the radio, so we ended up listening to the one song on my daughter’s phone for most of the four hours down and back. Lucky I liked it. But for me, it was just nice to spend the day with her.

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Best Banana Bread on the Island.

Regardless of the things you do, going to Hana, and the road in between, will be one of your most treasured memories of Maui. Because its rainforest and you are driving slow, you will want the windows down, the top off or sunroof open. You will feel the occasional misty rain, hear the songs of birds, enjoy the smell of the fresh forest canopy overhead, road lined with bamboo, and the scent of tropical flowers. There are also lots of unique food stands along the way. Bring your hiking shoes and a swimsuit just in case. The temperature will always be between 75 and 85, depending on your elevation. Even though it’s only 52 miles, it will take at least two hours or more depending on how many stops you make, and that’s only one way.

Pictures and videos never really come close to the real thing, but I hope that those of you locked in the grip of a cold Northern winter enjoy them. (Maybe it’s because I am shooting them with an old iPhone 5).

Hana Bay in the town of Hana.

 

Booger Burgers……………

There are two kinds of people when it comes to getting poor food or poor service at a restaurant. Those who complain and those who don’t. I am one of those who don’t.

My Daughter and I had only a couple more days until her brother returned, so I wanted to take her out to dinner again. We went to Ruby Tuesday, one of her favorite places to eat because she likes the Buffalo Chicken wings appetizer. That was fine with me, I like a good burger, and the last time we went, I really enjoyed their Bacon Cheeseburger. That was a few weeks ago. Not so much this last Friday night.

I have never worked serving tables. I imagine it’s a tough job trying to satisfy all kinds of different people. You are basically the “face of the place”, and you have to depend on others to make or break you. It certainly can be rewarding, both financially and mentally if you enjoy meeting and talking with people. I like the money part, not so much the talking with others part. I worked as a bartender for a while, so I understand the working for tips part too. I consider myself to be a good tipper because of that, which works against me most of the time. I always leave a decent tip whether the service was great or terrible.

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Our waitress came with a big smile. Not very talkative, but that’s ok with me. We ordered our food, my Daughter the Chicken Wings, and me the Bacon Cheeseburger. I never really give it much thought when they ask me how I would like my burger done. I assume a burger is a burger, and every cook knows how to make one. The waitress asked me how I would like it done, suggesting medium. I thought for a split second and agreed, thinking I like them juicy with a hint of pink in the middle, like I had the last time I was there.

Ruby Tuesdays are slow when it comes to getting your food. I imagine they want you to have a few drinks before you get your meal, that’s a big profit item, but we don’t drink so it magnifies the wait time when you are just drinking water. We finally got our food. As I open my bun to put some Catsup on it, it looks like a burnt piece of leather. You know those thin frozen burgers you get cheap at the store. Throw one on the grill and let it sizzle until the last remaining drop of liquid is gone. Kind of like a slice of a hockey puck. I showed it to my Daughter, because it was so burnt, and she agreed it looked pretty well done for a medium burger. I put the top back on and started to choke it down.

One more thing. I like Blue Cheese on my burger, and the Chicken wing appetizer comes with some for dipping. My Daughter doesn’t like it, so I put it on my burger instead. This Blue Cheese had big pieces of soggy lettuce in it. They must get it out of the salad bar, or keep the leftovers from the day before just for dips. Maybe they think the drunks who order the appetizers won’t notice. I noticed. It softened the tough meat up. I ate it anyway. I was wondering if I was going to get sick from my food on the way home, but I think the piece of meat left devoid of any organic matter counteracted the soggy lettuce and other assorted unnamed pieces of matter in the Blue Cheese.

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About halfway through the meal (if you could call it that), the waitress came by and asked how everything was. Now I never say anything, but this time I was going to stand up for myself. I opened the half-eaten burger and said it was not good, it was burnt when I ordered it medium.  She took one look, agreed with my assessment, and walked away. I had visions of her talking to the chef and the manager, and coming back apologetically with an offer to get me another, free dessert, pay for the meal, a coupon for next time, all in the name of keeping a customer happy. We saw her 20 minutes later when she brought the bill. She didn’t say a word.

I have been with people who complain about their meal, send it back, and get a replacement. I have also heard stories of the chef getting angry and spitting on that replacement. I don’t want to eat someone else’s spit. For some reason, that always sticks in my mind when faced with that situation, so instead of sending it back and getting a booger on my burger, I just suck it up and keep my mouth shut. It’s too bad because instead of trying to rectify the situation, I just never go back there. Just like now I am never going to go back to Ruby Tuesdays. That not only hurts them (which I secretly want to do) but mainly hurts my Daughter because she likes to eat there.

The waitress seemed uncomfortable when she came back to get my credit card to pay. I think she was nervous about getting stiffed. I know it wasn’t her fault to begin with, but being the customer connection, she should have tried to make it right. I know it’s really my fault for not asking to be satisfied, she can’t read my mind. My, how I like to justify everything. I also imagined she had a family to help feed, worried about losing her job, car payments, rent, maybe deep in debt. The chef might be new, right off the street, and really needed this job. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to get him in trouble. She went home that night and counted her tips. I went home feeling lousy. I left her 20% tip and we walked out.

Of course, I never said a word to my Daughter about it after I showed her the burger. I kept all this thinking to myself. I didn’t want it to affect our night out together. Maybe I missed passing on an important learning lesson. But what would be the lesson? To complain when you don’t get what you want? To accept what is and move on? To demand you get what you pay for? To have empathy for someone dealing with a situation, not their making? To show you are not a pushover? To be grateful for what you have? Not an easy answer and we all have our own opinion about it. Doesn’t matter what I think about it anymore, it is what it is. I am more concerned hat my kids learn to navigate the sometimes puzzling waterways of life.

I guess there will always be two kinds of people. Those who complain, and those who don’t. Let me clarify. Those who complain out loud, and those who don’t.

It was funny that there is an extension to this story. We took a road trip the next day and stopped for lunch, not at Ruby Tuesdays of course. She ordered Chicken wings, I a burger.  I learned my lesson and ordered the burger medium rare, specifically more on the rare side. It came very well done. I did what I always do. Kept my mouth shut and choked it down.

I have decided. I either have to stop ordering burgers, or complain and get boogers…...

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Finding Gold……………..

“You find any gold yet?” the old man shouted to the lady picking up small bits of shell from the beach. “I wish” she replied back. There were sticks and shells all over Baldwin Beach today. The winter waves are starting, and were pretty big, which means they push water high upon the sand. Of course, we all know he was just kidding, the old man that is. Just making old man conversation. I have seen him walk with his son on many occasions. I assume it’s his son. The old man looks about 85, and the son pushing 60. I also assume they own one of the million dollar plus homes hidden behind the beach, golf course too, because they look like they have money. Ok, I said I am not going to judge so we can call this speculation. As long as we are speculating, I suspect the son is looking for a little gold himself, like his Dad’s bank account. He looks like he might indulge in a few drinks too many too. There’s a really nice gin blossom growing on his face. (If you don’t know what that is, think W.C. Fields. Big nose, big drinker). I guess I’m not speculating. I’m judging.

What if I did find gold? That might be a problem. It’s not like winning the lottery, where they steal your tax money and give you the rest in a check. With gold, you have to worry about someone stealing it from you. I’m not sure I would want to say anything about it unless someone sees me find it. I might end up in a battle for rights to it from maybe someone who says they lost it, or the state claiming rights to it. I might get nothing. I wonder how much I could carry. That might be a problem if I had to leave some behind and make a few trips. I would certainly draw attention that way. And I don’t know where I would hide it. I have looked around this house to hide my passport and still can’t find a good spot. Maybe I could cover it back up when I find it, and go back later in the dark. That might be risky too because we all know what kind of people poke around at night.

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I think I better watch a few old westerns. I loved them as a kid. My favorites are John Wayne, the Rifleman, and Steve Mcqueen. Roy Rogers and Tonto weren’t bad either. Yul Brenner made a good bad guy, and I was sure I could beat him in a draw. Someone was always finding gold in those old movies. Maybe they panned for it, or dug it out of an old mine, someone was always striking paydirt. The first thing they did was head down to the saloon, get roaring drunk, and get a girl or two. Then if they had any left, they would get shot when they left the saloon by Yul Brenner. Too bad I wasn’t there.

Some of the smarter ones carted their gold in sacks down to the bank, if Bandidos didn’t rob them first. They would put the money in the bank. The banker would always put it on a scale to weigh it, and stick his thumb under the scale to lighten the weight.  Then the bank would get robbed the next day by bank robbers and they would make off with all the loot. Eventually, the posse would catch them, but not before they spent all the gold on whiskey and women. Sometimes they would bury some of it, but they always forgot where. Come to think of it, they didn’t have a lot of luck finding gold back then either.

Let’s get back to me finding gold. If it was just a few coins, I would probably head down to the bar, get drunk, and find a girl. That would be the end of it and then I would write a blog about it. But let’s say I found the sunken treasure of Blackbeard. Hopefully, on land, I would be out of luck trying to dive for it. Ten thousand Gold Dubloons. Worth maybe a zillion dollars. Now let’s say I got it home. No place to hide it. Now how do I cash it in? I could take a few down to the local coin shop, but they would wise up and figure I had more. Probably send a hit man over to bump me off and get the gold. I could put it on eBay, same problem.  Maybe start a big fire and melt the whole thing into a big brick. Now what? Haul it to Fort Knox? Just my luck Goldfinger is about to hit the place, and I lose it all again.

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I guess I could call the TV station. They would send someone out to do a story about me and then wait for the FBI to show up wondering where I got it. They would probably confiscate the gold and throw me in jail until they straighten out my story, and make sure some government official and the IRS get involved. They would finally figure out where it came from, figure out it wasn’t mine to take, take my gold, sentence me to some time in jail, give me a big fine, and the IRS would send me a tax bill anyway.

I’m going to go down to the beach tomorrow and poke around in the sand. (It’s gold-colored if that counts). Then if that old man and his kid walk by and ask me if I found any gold yet, I know just what to say. “I hope not!”

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The perfect date……………….

I was planning our date, and I wanted it to be memorable for both of us. Something for us to remember for years to come. I researched restaurants, sunset times, the best beach, where to park, and a nice place for a walk along the shore. I wanted it to be perfect. This would be technically our first date alone, without others around to distract us. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how it would go, what we would talk about, if we would want to do it again.

We went to the sunny, warm side of the island, Kihei.  Sunset was at 6:05 so we went down around 4:00 to have some time to enjoy the remaining hours of daylight, then watch the sunset and have dinner after that. I picked Polo Beach, the beach I have talked about before next to the big luxury resorts. I suggested we visit the two of the nicest ones because she had never seen them.

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We started by walking the paved path along the ocean that connects the big resorts, starting at the Grand Wailea, and ending with the Kea Lani. The weather was perfect, and those resorts are a wonder to see. We took pictures on the balconies and the huge open lobby, then walked past the shops and pools and fountains. She mentioned she was hungry, but one look at the menu at a tiki looking restaurant built over a goldfish pool, she said it was too expensive and could wait. My kind of girl I thought. We walked past the Luau on the way out, which was just going to start. I asked if she wanted to watch, but she had been to one and didn’t care.

The sun started to set as we walked to the Kea Lani, the first resort I stayed at on my first trip to the island. We sat on a ledge on the perfectly manicured lawn and watched the sun slip silently into the sea. It was about 80 degrees and very little wind. Perfect,  I couldn’t have planned it any better. Then we walked around the resort, checking out the menu at the resort restaurant, and again decided it wasn’t worth the price. I told her stories of when I stayed there, and how Carlos Santana played with the lobby bar band one night. She had never heard of him. That surprised me little. Getting back to food, she said she would be happy going to one of the local small ones that line the beach road.

We got back to the car, drove to a cute little place, went in and had a great meal. I had fish and chips (Mahi-Mahi) and she was happy with chicken wings. Water was our preferred beverage. By that time it was pretty dark, and I asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else, but she said it was getting late and would just as soon head home. On the drive back up the volcano, she listened to her music on her phone, and I the radio. It felt very comfortable.

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The thing I realized about this date was there was no pressure. We didn’t struggle for conversation, we just didn’t talk when we didn’t feel like talking and it didn’t feel weird. I really wasn’t concerned with what I was wearing, I knew she wouldn’t care what I wore. I had on a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. I wanted to be comfy. There was no wondering how it was going, or did she like me, or if I had to burp or pass some gas, she would have laughed it off. (I didn’t need to). I also appreciated I didn’t have to spend a couple hundred bucks on dinner. She showed true concern not to waste money.

As we got back to the house and went inside, I was pleasantly surprised when she thanked me for the nice evening. She said she had a really good time and would like to do it again. I, of course, agreed and promised it would. The whole night was perfect, and I realized that it was the kind of date I have been missing. One where I could be myself, and she could too. I know I have never had a first date like that. I probably don’t want to gush too much about how much I enjoyed it. You know, that comes off strange sometimes.

Of course, it helps when someone knows you so well, and you know her the same. In fact, we are planning a night out tomorrow night again. It’s been raining for a few days, and we want it to be perfect when we go out for dinner again. Hoping for a spectacular sunset.

I can’t wait to take her out one more time before her brother comes back from his trip back to visit family in Minnesota. I know it’s not going to be too long until she doesn’t want to go out with me anymore. So I will take advantage of it while I can, because it’s rare to be able to have some alone time…….with my daughter.

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