HTTP Tip for the New Year

HTTP Tip for the New Year

HTTP Tip for the New Year

Do you know the difference between http and https? Without getting into details that you likely are not concerned about there is one thing you should know. The “S” stands for “secure.”

When you visit a website or web page, take a look at the address in the web browser, it will likely begin with: http://. This is the normal way of your computer communicating with the website. When you see https:// then they are communicating on a secured network.

In other words, it is possible for someone to “eavesdrop” on your computer’s conversation with the http website. If you fill out a form on the website, it is not necessarily secure and others might be able to see the information you send to that site.

With a https website, the communication is in a secured code and it is much safer for you to enter personal information, such as a credit card number, onto an https website.

Before you enter your credit card number in any website, look for the https first!

Https:// is frequently used for banking, information forms, corporate log-on pages and other applications where company or personal data needs to be secure.

However, like most things, https is not fool-proof and it is important for you to be cautious and responsible with your personal information while using the Internet.

What is up with that Savannah?

Even Electronic Cigarettes are now outlawed in Savannah's Bars

This Saturday, January 1st, our distant neighbor to the north, Savannah Georgia will go smokeless in bars and restaurants. Great, I’m all for that. And since I quit smoking a while back I am all for saving other people from second hand smoke and smelly clothes and so much more that came with the habit.

Frankly since the anti smoking campaign started on the coat tails of Surgeon General Everett Koop sometime in the mid 1980s, the story of yet another city or country biting the bullet is not shocking. Since 9/11 we have given up so many personal freedoms that had more substance than the right to choose how you want to pollute your lungs, that I will be the last one to jump on the barricades and shout discrimination.

The second hand smoke issue however has never impressed me as a valid argument, considering that everyone smoked when I grew up. We smoked in restaurants, bars, living rooms, hospitals, movies, class rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms. We smoked in the confinement of cars, elevators, theatres and stores. People smoked everywhere, not because we didn’t know it was bad for us, but because it was a sign of the times, a cultural habit that somehow struck a balance between mental and physical health. At least that’s what we thought. I never became sick from second hand smoke.

The only time that I remember getting sick from smoke inhalation was when I spent a day in the inner city with cars and trucks accelerating at traffic lights. But then, nobody was going to fight the automotive or oil industries in those days, because that t0o in a way, was striking an acceptable balance for the benefit of economic progress.

So having said that, I consider it a natural progression that Savannah now is also banning the smoke of cigars, cigarettes and pipes in a bunch of locations that had been exempted under the 2005 Georgia Smokefree Air Act. BUT, is there anyone out here who can tell me why this ordinance also includes ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES, or is this new invention just included as an inconvenient issue without a track record of safety.

What concerns me even more is that enforcement of the new act is in the hands of what is called “The Citizens’ Office”, with citizen specialists stating that “in the first few months the city will try to stress education over enforcement”. A Citizens’ Office sounds like an alarming step forward into dictatorship of the governing forces. It frankly reminds me of my 70s trips to Russia and other Iron Curtain countries, where the first action was a required trip to the Citizens’ Office to report your arrival.

The reporting mentioned only one lonely voice that objected to the exclusion of the electronic cigarettes, which even though they look much like cigarettes, they emit a watery vapor instead of smoke.

It’s scary that a Citizen’s Office can simply in one clean sweep impose their views and opinions on a population that doesn’t seem to care anymore about the sanctity of individual freedoms.

CLIA welcomes first Woman CEO

More women take leading positions in Cruise Travel

In a 2005 study, the Meredith Corp. found that women were the key decision-makers in 70% of travel plans. 75% of the agents at the CLIA’s Cruise3sixty conference last year were women, who also make up 77% of the membership of the National Association of Career Travel Agents.
So women are not only in the majority when it comes to selling travel, they are also in majority the key decision makers on initiating and executing the travel plans. In essence they control the largest industry in the world, the leisure industry.

So it is only befitting that the CLIA (no not the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, nor the Clandestine Laboratory Investigator’s Association and not even the the California Lodging Industry Association – I get a bit confused by all these murky abbreviations?), the Cruise Lines International Association http://www.cruising.org/about-clia, appointed a woman as their new CEO.

Maritz Travel President and CEO Christine Duffy became the first female CEO of the organization founded in 1975 in response to a need for an association to promote the special benefits of cruising and in 2006 merged with the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), a sister entity created in 1990 dedicated to participating in the regulatory and policy development process of the cruise industry.
The website states that: the CLIA is composed of 25 of the major cruise lines serving North America and is an organization that operates pursuant to an agreement filed with the Federal Maritime Commission under the Shipping Act of 1984 and serves as a non-governmental consultative organization to the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

This explanation makes Duffy’s career move into the ‘political’ arena of travel a interesting one. Duffy started out as a retail travel agent almost 30 years ago and a decade ago became the CEO of Maritz after that company acquired her agency McGettigan Partners in 2001. In the past decade she became a national force in the incentive and meeting business, which was hit hard by the economic downturn in 2008/9. Duffy was one of the industry leaders involved in getting Washington to understand the nature of incentive and meeting travel when the AIG – Tarp debacle unfolded; a circumstance that must have whetted her appetite for politics and the enormous growth potential for Cruise Meeting and Incentive Travel.

Duffy will operate primarily from the organization’s Washington DC office with a token presence in the Ft. Lauderdale office where marketing and cruise relations are maintained.

The industry praised CLIA’s choice of Christine Duffy as its CEO, noting that aside from her vast experience in the meetings and incentives business, being a woman makes her a good choice.
Duffy in return smartly played into this sentiment when she accentuated: “I very much am proud to be the first woman CEO at CLIA. I look forward to working with everyone in the industry but also, particularly, I hope I can be a role model for women in the travel industry.”

But make no mistake as to her career. She came up through the ranks from retail agent to advisor and corporate industry leader.
In March of this year she took on a high-profile position as co-chair of the U.S. Travel Association’s (USTA) Meetings, Incentives, and Trade Show Council, a council formed to serve as an advocate for the industry in the wake of public attacks on incentives by members of Congress, the mainstream press, the public, and even President Barack Obama in the last few years—widely referred to as the AIG effect.

Howard Frank, chairman of CLIA’s executive committee and vice chairman of the board and COO of Carnival Corp. said it best when he described her as “having demonstrated exceptional ability to lead and being extremely well-known, connected and admired throughout the travel industry”. She also has thorough knowledge of how cruises are marketed and sold through the agency distribution system, with a firm grasp of the issues facing the industry.

On a personal note I met Christine Duff in St.Thomas USVI in the mid 1980s when she was invited with a group of agents by the Tourism Office for a Fam Trip and she struck me as a remarkable agent, who asked all the right questions beyond just having a good time in the islands. In an industry that in my opinion is best understood by women, Christine Duff will be a great asset to the CLIA.

Remembering Those You Love

Remembering Those You LoveThe Holiday Season for many is a time to think of those who have passed and are remembered in love. Understanding that everyone grieves in a different manner is only the beginning of many different emotions we may encounter. Shock, anger, sorrow, denial, depression and guilt may overwhelm you long before acceptance or growth enter your mind. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to dealing with the loss of a loved one.

My step-father passed away Christmas Eve, 2009; and my father-in-law passed away December 22nd the year before, so this holiday season was a conflict of jolly vs depression for many in my family. Watts Funeral Home in San Mateo, Florida provides an annual Community Candle Light Remembrance Service, Remembered in Love on the shores of the St. John’s River in Palatka.

Funeral Director Jamie Watts began the evening reflecting on how this ceremony was a time to celebrate the life of the ones we are missing in our lives. One by one we were invited to speak up and share the memories we had. “Your expressions of love may help others who are searching for Hope during the Holidays.”

My mother has been having a difficult time adjusting to her loss of her husband, Jim. “Pop” loved her and she missed him terribly. As people began to pour their souls into the microphone, it became clear that no matter how long ago some had died, their place here on earth had left impressions that would never be forgotten.

Red Votives

Red Votives

Memories of the lives of children, brothers, sisters, spouses, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and friends lived strongly in those eager to share a piece of them with us, strangers who held the same painful bond of losing a loved one.

Finally, my mother asked for the microphone. I squeezed her hand tightly, gave her an assuring nod and then let go of my grip to reach for more Kleenex. She stood proudly and described the man she loved to these new friends and they listened with an understanding rarely found when discussing grief.

In closing, she cried, “I just miss him so much.”

Grief is a natural response to loss of any kind. When you heart is broken, trying to be grateful for the time together sounds like the right way to feel, but it doesn’t help. There is still a void in your life that will never be replaced. The intensity of grief we learned, will fluctuate over time, especially near major events such as birthdays, anniversaries and the holidays.

Home-and-Garden.Webshots.com

The tearful messages expressed at twilight on the banks of the river reminded us that the emptiness we felt was normal. When the remembrances were finished we each lit a small red votive for those lives we were there to honor with our memories. I lit a candle for my father-in-law, Albert Mackie; I lit a candle for my step-father, James Tanner; and I lit a candle for Thomas Ramakers, a business partner I lost suddenly this past July. In a moment of silence, I said my good-byes again, to not only these three men who were influental in my life, but to others I miss as well.

We were handed roses whose thorns had been considerately removed and we moved out from under the tent while some of the saddest songs ever written still played softly in the background.

Balloons at Night

Celebrate Me Home

The event closed with “Celebrate me Home.” We were all given white balloons filled with helium and we released them into the night… and as we watched them soar higher into the sky they transformed into stars against the backdrop of a darkened heaven.

We are still here and each new day is a beginning. We have no idea what our fellow man has gone through recently and it is up to each of us to show patience, compassion and understanding to those we encounter along the way – on this – our personal journey of life.

As we enter a new year, a new beginning for some, I pray you find the Hope and Peace your soul seeks while you remember those you love.

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Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is Early This Year

Shrimp Festival Arrives Early This Year

Many People Attend the Shrimp Festival

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL – All hands on deck! Visit Fernandina Beach on beautiful Amelia Island on April 29 through May 1, 2011 for the 48th Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Presented by Publix, and treat yourself to a feast of the sea and lively entertainment in this historic seaport village – the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.

Pirates roaming the Atlantic are just one of Amelia Island’s tales that come to life at this year’s Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, celebrating all things shrimp since 1964 – catching them, cooking them, eating them and even drawing them. The Southeast Tourism Society has named the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival a Top-20 event nine times. This year’s line-up of fine food and entertainment is sure to live up to that distinction. Arrrrr!

Festivities Begin Friday Night

Catch fantastic bargains during the Merchants Sidewalk Sale all day Friday – the art and antique show doesn’t open until Saturday. The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, presented by Publix, officially kicks off at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening, April 29, when food booths, entertainment and activities open at the Riverfront and Kids Fun Zone only. The Opening Ceremony officially starts the festivities at 6:30 p.m. on the Riverfront Stage, followed by the Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant, Music and a Pirate Invasion, with Fireworks scheduled at 9:45 p.m.

Fine Arts & Crafts and Antiques

On Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when not feasting on shellfish, visitors can enjoy the works of over 300 award-winning artists and craftspeople and their creations in watercolor, acrylics, oils, sculpture, metal, photography, pottery and more, all fully juried to qualify for entry into the show. Best of Show will receive a $1,250 cash prize. The festival also boasts an excellent showing of fine antiques and collectibles, about 75 booths, including furniture, Depression glass, jewelry, crystal and coins. Student artwork from all public and private schools in Nassau County are displayed, with awards for outstanding pieces given by local businesses.

Food and Music

What would a Shrimp Festival be without shrimp? Seafood, shrimp dishes and festival fare abound, all prepared with a local flair and flavor by dozens of volunteer, civic and non-profit organizations from Fernandina Beach and surrounding Nassau County. The treats for the taste buds and eyes are rivaled only by musical performances from regional and local acts that will fill the seaside air with the sounds of jazz, pop, rock, folk, and country. Beach music will be provided by our “house band“, the ever popular Swingin’ Medallions, who will perform on Sunday afternoon. Get ready to dance!

Family Fun

See colorful pirates swordfight, loot and plunder in the streets after they invade the festival by a pirate shrimp boat – a throwback to the days when Amelia Island was ruled under foreign flags. A “Blessing of the Fleet” and the “Best Decorated Shrimp Boat Parade and Contest” on Sunday will entertain guests at the Riverfront. Contests include Adult and Little Pirate Contests and Best Beard Contest on Saturday and a Shrimp Ice Cream Eating Contest on Sunday. Get with the spirit of the festival and entertain the family in the Kids Fun Zone with activities for all ages and entertainment throughout the weekend provided by Rick Hubbard’s Kazoobie Show and JuggleSTUFF, among others. And, don’t forget to tighten the wooden leg, Black Beards, and join the YMCA 5-K run on Saturday morning.

Pirate Parade

Join the locals for the pre-festival Pirate Parade, presented by Residence Inn, Amelia Island, to be held on Thursday, April 28th at 6:00 p.m. as it takes over Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach to the theme of “Shrimping on Island Time” A Celebration of Island Living. Creative craftsmanship will abound with the imaginative floats and unique entries vying for “Best of Parade” honors.

There are truly memories to be made for everyone at this storied festival. For complete overall festival information and schedule of events for the 48th Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Presented by Publix, visit www.shrimpfestival.com.

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Food Channel Predictions for 2011

Back to Grandma's Canning Corner

At this time of the year, everyone and his lapdog comes out with a list of forecasts and trends that will see daylight in 2011. Nothing new therefore when I got this email from the Food Channel that 2011 will see a lot more Home Canning, more Men Cooking and more purchasing of local foods.

The Food Channel, along with CultureWaves, Mintel International and International Food Futurists, identified the most significant food trends that will drive how people eat throughout 2011.

“The new economy has created a boldness and willingness to change how we work, how we cook and how we eat. All of our 2011 trends reflect that in some way,” says Kay Logsdon, editor of The Food Channel. “One example is baby boomers wanting to age well. For example, trend No. 10 explains they are eating for better sex, more energy and the ability to work longer.”

The Food Channel’s top 10 trends for 2011 are:
• The canning comeback, something grandma did is gaining popularity for both economy and health.
• More men cooking because of layoffs.
• People wanting to get food grown locally.
• Americans are of tired of being told what they can eat.
• Social media working as a food guide and coupon source.
• Corporations thinking like small businesses to respond to a changing market.
• More fresh foods daily via gardens.
• Bringing chefs to schools to improve taste and improve diet.
• Eating “out of the box”, because change makes people comfortable with more change.
• Eating for better sex and better health to live longer and healthier.

Well I would like to add that foregoing doesn’t change my circumstance one bit, as aside from the holidays, I do the great majority of cooking around the house and an important reason why is, that I work from the house. Surprisingly that trend does not show up on the Food Channel’s list, but I think that one important reason for the trend detection is the fact that a growing number of people have taken their business to the internet working from the home, which will have consequences on eating out as well as the type of foods purchased.

One major change for me is that grocery shopping once a week has now turned into daily or at least three times a week, increasing the level of fresh food in my household substantially, while also stocking up canned food like the squirrels in my attic.

Sugar Coating the Truth

How the truth gets sugar coated

If a spoonful of sugar helps medicine to go down smoothly because it masks the bad taste, we should be alert to the fact that “expert” analysts and economists tend to sprinkle a lot of sugar on even the grimmest of forecasts to reassure that no matter how bad things may get, Americans can be counted on opening their wallets and spend.

The Holiday Season was a clear example. A slight shimmer of hope was all that was needed to have the Consumer Confidence Index in November take a leap forward, never mind that today’s numbers have put us back into the prior misery.

Over the Holidays I’ve heard the sentiment that things are looking up so many times, that I very nearly fell for the trap of believing. Indeed, as we have all listened to more and more forecasts calling for further decline, it always came as a relief when otherwise gloomy assessments ended with the cheery assurance that things really were looking up after all, because Americans work hard and the last thing they’re going to do is sacrifice their cherished Holidays.

The logic behind this notion seemed sound enough, albeit a little sophomoronic. Holiday Gift Giving as well as Vacations, the thinking goes, are viewed by the U.S. consumer as a veritable birthright. Who, after all, would deprive self or family of the sanctity of the present under the Christmas Tree and a week or two of relief from the unrelenting toil and boredom of day-to-day life?

No, Holidays and vacations are in a protected class. Not to be messed with. Period.

Honestly I badly wanted this not to be true, but in looking at nearly 30 years of data, I found that there was, in fact, almost no correlation between consumer confidence and holiday shopping or vacation plans. In other words, consumers tend to take a vacation or will shop gifts for the Holidays no matter what. But I sensed that the numbers were skewed and the research in the NEW economy has not addressed the particular changes.

It turns out that yes, there are still a lot of people embracing the years of credit availability as if they have lived in an isolated cell in the past couple of years. They keep using their credit cards to sink deeper in debt as they are now finding banks like Chase and HSBC charging 30% interest. But than there is also a growing number of people that have found their way back to SAVING before buying. An old and proven tradition. In other words the number-crunchers are still using outdated methods and are failing to look at a crucial piece of data. They have not correlated consumer confidence with consumer behavior, especially in recessionary periods.

Savings were up over 2010, but were substantially depleted during the Holiday Season. Vacationing is also more and more becoming a savings matter, all inclusive packages that can be saved for. Soon-to-be-wedded couples ask for contributions towards their honeymoon instead of useless gifts in the household.

Instead of mindless spending, a growing number of people are combining resources to be able to afford the extra ordinary; they just realize that such events and gifts are more special and less frequent.

This Holiday season was good because people used their savings they built up over the last year, on products that were priced so advantageously cheap, that it was worth applying savings against it. The double whammy comes now after the Holidays, when they will start putting more money aside, amidst oil prices that are now making gasoline hit $3 and more at the pump.

Saving for an expensive gift or a special vacation…what a concept!

Recycling Christmas Cards

Recycling Christmas Cards

Recycling Christmas Cards

There should be an easy way to recycle my Christmas cards. Each year I receive Christmas cards from friends and family and generally I pack them away when I put away my decorations after the holidays. I am pretty sentimental about them and don’t want to throw them away. I decided looking into some ways of recycling them would be a great idea!

I did a bit of research to find out what other people do with their cards, and I found some very creative ideas. Believe it or not, some people just cut off the fronts of the cards and use them as post cards the next year. It saves both paper and money.

Others make ornaments and gift tags for next Christmas.

Another idea would be to donate the used cards. St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Nevada accepts donations of greeting cards for all occasions. The children and volunteers create “new” cards from the donations and these cards are sold to benefit the program. You can find more information about this program at their website.

It is popular these days to make personalized photo cards to send at Christmas so those cards will require different handling. Perhaps you could create a photo album of cards received through the years. This might be a welcome gift to a family member to bring back memories of Christmas’s past.

I located a few other ideas such as making a basket out of the cards or making angels out them that I thought were pretty, too. In reality, I will probably just stack them up and pack them away for next year.

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Andy Warhol Inspired Dom Pérignon

Andy Warhol Inspired Dom

Andy Warhol Inspired Dom

A common story told by Andy Warhol was about Dom Pérignon, when he and his friends founded the 2,000 club. This group of 20 people got together and purchased 2,000 bottles of Dom Pérignon to store, with plans of drinking them together to celebrate the New Millennium. Insiders say the running joke was who would be around to drink it. Sadly, Warhol passed away before the year 2000 and wasn’t there to ring in the new year by helping to pop 2,000 bottles of Dom Pérignon champagne.

As a tribute to one of the most influential artists in Pop Culture, Dom Pérignon has released a limited run edition of champagne inspired by the Andy Warhol Foundation with help from the Design Laboratory at Central St. Martin’s School of Art.

In timeless Warhol fashion, silk screen touches have been adopted in three colors – red, blue and yellow for this collection of vintage Dom Pérignon.

The Andy Warhol Dom Pérignon is available at both Amelia Liquors locations in Fernandina Beach, Florida for only $129.99 and this includes the gift pack with two Dom Pérignon champagne flutes. For more information or to see this stunning bottle visit either their North Store, in the Publix Shopping Center at Sadler Road and 14th Street; or their South Store, next to the Harris Teeter Grocery Store.

Here is a short video created for this collaborative collection.

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How to place dreaded phone calls

Life as it happens somewhere else

As we were having a belated Merry Christmas glass with our Swiss friend Caroline, I noticed once again that our conversations always envelop more than 30 years of being expatriates in America. Tonight we touched on a number of topics that we still feel a bit estranged about, such as lack of humor in commercials. We both grew up and were educated in marketing and advertising old school; I moved to the internet very early on, while she is still one foot in classy advertising and one foot in the new technologies. I realized that part of my early move to the internet was arguably a result of my disdain for telephones.

Always hated the little buggers, never could stand them beyond the usefulness of a factual three minute call. In the old world of advertising, the telephone was a gift from heaven, at least for the sales people. They were always my first line of defense. If they could get a foot in the door to get an appointment, I could usually close the deal. I once drove 100 miles to an appointment with a pretty sizable customer. When I was stranded in front of her desk with her picking up every phone call that came into her room, I picked up the entire portfolio, walked out, went to the owner of the company, told him that I thought his marketing director was a rude individual, showed him our work and upsold the campaign with a quarter of a million.

My conversation over wine with Caroline reminded me of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project a couple of years ago, loaded with tips on making dreaded phone calls.

I guess the foregoing does not leave much to the imagination; I hate the telephone. I hate the phone not because of the convenience, but because it is often abusively used for entirely wrong reasons. I hate to be interrupted by a telephone call at inopportune times and I hate to pick up the phone and make stupid, empty small talk. I have always loved this true story about this very classy 81 year old woman who in a real estate transaction at her house, was interrupted by a ringing telephone, but without blinking an eye lid continued her transaction on paper.

The agent on the other side of the table, young and full of nervous energy thought the old lady was maybe deaf. So he warned her about the ringing phone. She smiled when she looked up at him and said ” I can hear the telephone young man, but I installed that phone for my convenience and right now it’s not convenient”
It’s a classic for me.

Me? I have no telephone in my bedroom. I don’t pick up the phone before 8 am or after 9 pm. I happily instilled the daily routine of not answering any calls when I am in Critical Production Mode, the time I need to actually produce and create to sustain a comfortable living. So if you want to add the utter dislike I have for this instrument to the fact that we often face dreaded phone calls, you got a double whammy.
I have no clue why people use answering machines to screen calls but have call-waiting so they won’t miss a call?
I do admit that my initial move across the ocean 30 years ago may have contributed to the possibility of distance. In the early years, all my friends and relatives were in Europe and at $2 a minute transatlantic, telephone conversations were extremely rare and very short and to the point. I remember weeks that it was cheaper for me to take a roundtrip SABENA or KLM flight from Atlanta then spending a couple of hours on the phone discussing campaigns. Since then of course I have “amassed” family, friends and business acquaintances on this side of the ocean, who mostly are aware of my dislike for A.G. Bells or for purists A. Gray’s invention.

Dreaded calls are the worst.

So when I ran into Ms.Rubin’s Happiness Project, I voraciously absorbed the details and tips to get yourself through these dreaded calls as painlessly as possible:

• The night before, make a list of the calls to be made, along with names, phone numbers, and any other necessary information.
• If you’re making some kind of pitch or argument, rehearse in your mind what you want to say. Have an outline to make sure you hit the important points once the call begins.
• If you want to set up appointments, have some convenient times in mind.
• As soon as you get to your desk in the morning, pick up the phone and start dialing. No procrastinating, or you may never begin.
• Stand up while you talk.
• Smile and use a friendly tone.
• If you have more than one call to make, don’t hang up the phone when the first call is over. Keep the phone at your ear and use your finger to disconnect the call.
• Don’t let yourself be hungry, hot, cold, or in need of a bathroom when you’re calling.
• Keep good records on when you called, whether you left a message or spoke to someone, and what was said.
• If you leave a message, repeat your name and phone number twice, and also leave an email address as an alternative communication route.
• Keep your message as brief as possible. No chit-chat on voice-mail!
• If you have bad news for someone, don’t dilly-dally with small talk. Come out and say it in a compassionate way.

Well this covers my involvement with phone calls. Convenient….sometimes, rudely interuptive…..always.
Remember the telephone is there for your convenience…or as my one and only corporate boss told me a long time ago: “If your phone rings, the person on the other side needs you more than you need him/her. It’s up to you to balance if what you’re doing at that time is more or less important that the incoming call.”

I know I am in the minority these days…

Gator Bowl Fun at Amelia Hotel at the Beach

Gator Bowl Fun at Amelia Hotel at the Beach

Amelia Hotel at the Beach

Amelia Hotel at the Beach and the Progressive Gator Bowl Football Game Welcome Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. The Michigan Wolverines!

Located on Florida’s beautiful Amelia Island, across from the beach and just 30 minutes from Jacksonville, home of the Progressive Gator Bowl Football game, Amelia Hotel at the Beach welcomes Mississippi State Bulldog and Michigan Wolverine fans.

Affordable Gator Bowl rates include a Hot & Healthy Breakfast and a Champagne Reception the evening of December 31st, beginning at 5:30 P.M.

Choose from our Standard room, or treat yourself and upgrade to a Balcony or Terrace Suite with Fireplace, Jacuzzi, two 52 inch flat screen T.V.s and Granite Wetbar. No matter which you choose, you will enjoy the hospitality of this island destination with its dining, shopping and historic district.

Weather forecast for the New Year & Gator Bowl Football Game:
Friday December 31, 2010 – Mostly Sunny. High 70°-Low 50°. Chance of rain: 10%.
Saturday, January 1, 2011 – Partly Cloudy. High 71°-Low 54°.Chance of rain: 10%.

Gator Bowl Parade is December 31

Gator Bowl Parade is December 31The Annual Gator Bowl Parade is December 31, 2010 in downtown Jacksonville. Once again, the Fernandina Pirates Club will be appearing in this televised event. Marching bands, professionally detailed parade floats, beauty and scholarship contestants, giant helium character balloons and of course pirates will march along the St. John’s River, beginning at 3:00 PM, in preparation for the Progressive Gator Bowl to be held on New Year’s Day at Everbank Stadium.

For their first meeting in history the University of Michigan will play Mississippi State University. The Michigan Wolverines, the Big Ten representative, finished their regular season with an overall record of 7-5. This match-up will mark Michigan’s third appearance in the Gator Bowl, and its first since beating the University of Mississippi in 1991. The Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Southeastern Conference representative, finished their regular season with an overall record of 8-4 and ranked #21 in the AP poll and #22 in the USA Today/ Coaches poll. The Bulldogs will be making their first appearance in the Gator Bowl.

Florida's First Coast

Florida's First Coast

“Michigan and Mississippi State are truly among the greatest of football traditions in the nation. The Wolverines and Bulldogs will provide one of the most exciting and emotional games of the Bowl season and we are looking forward to welcoming both teams and their fans to Jacksonville for this great New Year’s Day matchup,” said Gator Bowl Chairman Stephen Tremel.

Special reserved parade seats are available for New Year’s Eve and they will allow you to watch the parade in style! The reserved seats will give you a comfortable and up close view of colorful floats, exciting specialty units and marching bands from across the country. Parade Bleacher Seats can be purchased on the day of the event at the Bleacher Seating locations at the corner of Water and Pearl street.

The 66th Annual Gator Bowl will be played on January 1, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. in Jacksonville, Florida at EverBank Field and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. More information about tickets and Bowl information are available online at www.gatorbowl.com.

Other events for New Year’s Eve include the SEC vs. Big Ten: The Battle for Band Supremacy, presented by Aetna, at 6:00 PM on Coastline Drive between Market and Liberty Streets and of course along the waterfront and even the Jacksonville Landings makes a great spot to view the Fireworks Show at midnight!

To view photos of last years parade, visit Jacksonville.com.

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The Power of Words that Stir Emotions

Wordpress and Social Media are the immediate future for growth

After a year of mixed blessings and some very painful setbacks and losses, there is nothing that gives more balance of lasting value than the creative power of expressing an emotion so beautifully as it is done in this award winning video, which in time and space nevertheless is plagiarism. The essence of the Story of a Sign, whether it won an Award in Cannes Film Festival or should be banned as plagiarism, is that it proves once again that mankind can be moved if the right words touch the musical strings of the heart.

After seeing this video I felt that I needed to identify with the story of those poor people in a small town in Alabama who have lost everything because the pensionfund they had contributed to all their life while working for the city, ran dry more than a year ago. Their golden years have turned into cold misery and their homes have turned into cardbox shelters.

In another conversation this morning I learned second hand from an FDIC official that 2011 will possibly see a horrendous increase in bank closings around the nation, because of the alleged fraud with the missing real estate foreclosures on the bank’s balance sheets. So far this year the FDIC has closed 157 banks across the country, just a dozen short from the anticipated final total. The FDIC ran out of money to cover our deposits a long time ago and is borrowing to cover from the Federal Reserve, who is printing more money to cover the debt. Well it does look like we’re trying to lift ourselves up by the handle while standing in the bucket.

In inconsequential front page news today I learn that 84 year old Hugh Heffner, Mr. Playboy himself, is getting married to a 24 year old, and I have to believe it is love, because 30 years ago I promised myself never to judge again. I guess I won’t say what I think, and hope that nobody considers that judging!!

The old man in the video reminds me of my clochard friends in Paris so many years ago when I spent a lot of time there on business. And the young man, albeit much better looking than I ever did, reminds me of myself with my corporate 3 piece suites and Delsey and Samsonite briefcases in the late 70s, strotting proudly and self confident, handing favors and ideas to the less fortunate. So it seems at least.

I left corporate soon after, before I turned 30, moved across the Atlantic and started painting my own roads less traveled. No safety net, no security. I did it by doing what the young man in the video does, by being creative. I helped building and selling companies, spent 20 years sailing and working around the Caribbean Islands, to finally land in one of the best places I have ever lived. Being creative is the essence in being happy. But having the guts to strike out and lay your own road down, is your choice, yours only.

Creatively helping people in need is essential to happiness and while watching this video I felt compassion for all those boomers and retirees who feel that the rug of comfort has been or will be pulled soon.

I saw my friend Ric, who had lost his comfort and nest egg in the 2008 crash, build himself back over the past year, by applying what had brought him his comfort in the first place: creativity and guts.

I have one advice if you feel your future is threatened: re-build your future on the Internet. You have all the experience of a lifetime in your backpack; pick out what you know and liked best and learn to control your own future.
I can put you in control of your own future inside of 5 days.

The story of a sign is strong and effective marketing. The power of the written word is mighty, if you know how to get it exposed to the right people.

5 Days in January WordPress Website Building Bootcamp

Dates: Monday January 17 – Friday January 21, 2011
Location: Amelia Hotel at the Beach – Boardroom
Objective: Reserve and build your own WordPress e-commerce website and be in business by the end of the week.

Cost:  $995 per person; $1,650 for 2 people from the same company. Register by December 24, 2010 and get domain name registration and ONE year hosting free.

Fee includes: All course materials, coffee breaks and lunches, domain name and one year hosting (if paid by December 24-midnight)

Information:  Johan Ramakers Phd., (904) 310 6153 – publisher@searchamelia.com
Judie Mackie – judie@searchamelia.com

Description: In the course of 5 days we will look over your shoulder as you reserve your website domain, learn how to build the navigation and populate the WordPress website, organize and implement the search engine optimization aspects, set up the social media presence and take the website “live” for you to control your online future and manage and grow your business.

Program
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Day One

Morning:
1. Introduction
2. Make laptops internet-accessible
3. Download Safari browser
4. Define domain name; reserve domain name and hosting plan with Hosting company
5. Go into cPanel set up and organize manager URL

Afternoon:
6. Go into WordPress to choose and select theme templates*
7. Set back-end user/admin access
8. Define objective(s)/ targets / mission
9. Work up website navigation

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Homework (a) Find Visuals and (b) Write content outlines based on navigation *

Day Two

Morning
1. Check on status of all URLs
2. Prepare content for all navigation: (a) Pages, (b) Categories, (c) Posts
3. Set: (a) Visual Formats, (b) Forums, (c) Plug-ins, (d) Widgets, (e) Columns

Afternoon
4. Start uploading main navigation
5. Double check formats
6. Complete explanation of WordPress bars and how they work
7. Set up email accounts with signatures

Day Close

8. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Three:

Morning
1. Double check all domains
2. Work up social media accounts: (a) Facebook, (b) Twitter, (c) LinkedIn, (d) YouTube, (e) RSS, (f) Google Account (incl. everything- maps/view/alerts/adwords/keywords etc),
3. Attach SHARE network to website

Afternoon
4. Set up PayPal Account **
5. Shopping Cart navigation
6. Evaluation

Day Close

6. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Four:

Morning
1. Triple Check: (a) All links, (b) navigation, (c) sizing
2. Image optimization
3. Maintenance Blog Schedule, Social Media Toolkit and spreadsheet
4. Feedburners/ email campaigns, email database harvesting
5. Constant Contact- never better – newsletter

Afternoon
6. “Ranking” secrets/ coding secrets
7. Free research tools to help ranking, competition research, keyword duplication
8. Learn how to Build video with photos and upload to youTube/Vimeo for website distribution
9. Launch and start Search Engine submission process

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Five (half day):

Morning
1. Complete start of the day session – write and publish a blog story; promote the entire Social Media Circuit
– do intermediate ranking checks on Google, Bing and Yahoo with keyword alterations
2. Building an email data base
3. Final Question and Answers session

Follow Up: On Wednesday January 26 from 6 – 8 pm there is a closing follow up for Q and A

* Asterix indicated entries include instructions and requirements that will come with the registration instructions.

There is only seating for 15 positions on this course.

The Course will be given by: Judie Mackie – Editor, Search Amelia; Johan Ramakers Phd. – Publisher Search Amelia
assisted by Lawrence Mackie and Jessica Livingston.

NOTE: If you’re not yet ready, you may occasionally watch Real Econ TV. You may find it useful, informative, sometimes even entertaining… and yes it might even help you avoid falling in a hole or two.

New Year Resolutions… Again

New Year Resolutions... Again

New Year Resolutions... Again

Here we go again. It is the time of year when most people are either making resolutions about how they are going to be in the year ahead or they have given up on resolutions because they have disappointed themselves by making promises that they haven’t kept. I recall my article from last year called Time to Make Some Changes and I see that I have not been very successful in implementing and sticking to the life changes that I wanted to achieve.

Although I may not have accomplished all my goals, a lot of positives were achieved during the year. I traveled to Ohio and Tennessee. I graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Legal Studies. I spent time with my mother and granddaughter. I completed many quilting projects. I welcomed my husband home from Kuwait. 2010 was a good year.

If you plan to make New Year’s resolutions, be sure that they are realistic. Psychology Professor Richard Wiseman created a quiz to assess whether or not the techniques that you plan to use will actually work. You can find it at www.resolutionquiz.com. I scored in the medium range.

I am looking forward to 2011 knowing that I need to make time for me. My health, both mental and physical, is important. Working on my goal of being fit may take some time and I may slip up, but if my ultimate goal is to improve my life and I keep that in mind, it will help keep me going. Even when I slip up, as long as there is an overall improvement, it is a success! Isn’t that the whole point of this resolution thing?

Happy New Year!

Family Togetherness is Making Me Sick

Family Togetherness is Making Me Sick

The Common Cold

Yes, I love my family and I love the time we spend together, but all of this family togetherness is making me sick, literally!

Traveling in the tight quarters of the family sedan to Grandma’s house is the best way for Cousin Bobby to give you his cold. Let us all gather in the dining room and hold hands for a prayer before Christmas dinner; thank you little Suzie, I now have your sniffles!

When you work outdoors or mostly alone as the adults in my home do, then you aren’t exposed to as many germs that cause illnesses, I suppose that makes my immune system a bit weaker than other people’s. And these Christmas gatherings are making me sick.

I hate to catch a cold, the sniffles or the flu!

    -If you have a fever stay home. If you or your child has had a fever within the past 24 hours, stay home!
    -Don’t use your hand to shield a cough or sneeze, use your elbow. Since it is difficult to open a door with your elbow, this will reduce germs spread on doorknobs, lightswitches, remote controls and keyboards.
    -Use disposable drinking glasses. When you have company over for several days, just use disposable drinking cups and throw them away! Not a big tree-hugging initiative, but you will reduce the chances of catching their cold.
    -Take vitamin C and increase your vitamin D!
    -Get plenty of rest. It is easy to over extend yourself physically during the holidays. You do not have to do it all… call it a day and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Remember, this is your holiday, too!
    -Drink plenty of fluids.
    -Encourage your guests to scrape their plates and put their dirty dishes in the sink. You shouldn’t have to touch everyone’s dirty napkins and eating utensils!
    -Avoid white sugars. This is harder to do this time of the year with so many delectable tidbits lying about.
    -Don’t drink alcohol to excess. This is also hard to do with the in-laws visiting this time of the year.
    -Continue your exercise routine unless you have already contracted a severe cold.

The weather does not make you sick. It is the behavioral changes that often accompany weather changes that may cause you to get exposed to cold and flu viruses. Staying rested and healthily active will keep you feeling your best into the New Year… and if you must, it is ok to avoid your sister’s snot-nosed kids if they have been ill!

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