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Showing posts from 2009

Ail AB Iraq Flagpole – Picture A Day

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Happy New Year!

This is a picture of the flag pole here at Ali Air Base, Iraq, that I got up and took early this morning. I plan for this to be the first in a series of "pictures of the day".

About a month back, I got a comment on my don't be an invisible blogger post from a young lady who goes by curious illusion. When I went to visit her blog, I saw that she had post some pretty cool picture. Plus, she was doing something called Project 365 ... which, I'll be honest I still need to investigate a bit more, but basically it looks like it revolves around a flickr group, where people take a picture a day, and post it to their site. Even though I don't know everything about it yet, today seems as good a day as any to start ... ready, aim, shoot.

The way I figure it, I went to all the trouble to bring my Canon 20D, and 3 lenses with me here to Iraq, only to have the poor camera sitting on the shelf in my room 95% of the time since I've been here. Now I h…

Types of travel money belts

The number of travelers increases every year. Don't we love to get to know different culures and visit new landscapes, after all? Although going off the beaten track is oh-so-cool, we still need to focus on traveling safe whenever we visit places we don't know.

The travel industry has become conscious of these problems, developing numerous items to insure our protection. You probably have already seen a travel money belt for purchase at the travel goods area of major malls or airports. The best component is that nowadays there's a wide variety of variations to select from. These will suit most needs of just about all tourists!

Money belts are available with 1, 2 or 3 separate compartments. Most of these are made to be put on around your waist.

You can get additionally travel money belts that are worn around the neck this particular type is popular with females. This particular type has a strap that may be regulated to go around the neck or also go around the shoulder or maybe…

Todd Shares The Good Stuff - 12/11/09

Wow, I can foresee these weekly link love lists becoming way long at some point :-)

But I promised to spread the "good stuff" I've been reading, so below you will find my list of shared items from google reader for the week ending December 11th, 2009.

First a quick aside ...

One thing I have noticed upon compiling this weeks picks, is that unlike my friend Sire, I actually do still read and share quite a bit of stuff from so called "A Listers". That being said, Sire's post last week about why he No Longer Links to Problogger and John Chow was a great example of the "rule" that apparently the easiest way to get the attention of "big name bloggers" is to write a controversial post about them. Honestly though, I don't even think that was Sire's intention ... none the less, his little rant definitely generated links, traffic, and even several visits to the wassup blog comment section by Darren Rowse himself.

Definitely interesting.…

Why Do You Blog?

What is the purpose of my blog? ... What am I "selling"?

This is a question that I suspect many of us never really ask ourselves until we've been doing this for quite a while. Yet ironically enough, it's probably THE Question that we should have absolutely known the answer to before we ever even got started.

The good news is, it's not too late ...

Simply "start over".

Before you change your theme again for the 21st time, or write another post about a subject that you're not really all that interested in, but it's the "niche" you've chosen, STOP ...

Think about why you started your blog. What is your goal?

NOW ...

Build your blog around that goal. DON'T get DISTRACTED by other things.

If you've decided that what you're really selling is YOU ...

Then why the heck are you running off to check your adsense statistics every 3 hours? (and btw why do you even have adsense on that type of blog?)

On the flip side, if you've dec…

Google Widget Main Culprit In Slow Load Time

According to the new site performance tab in Google Webmasters Tools, my blog here at tmtips.com loads slower than 92% of the sites on the Internet.

Obviously, there are a few things that I can fix, such as compressing the css, and optimizing some of my images.

With rumors that google may be incorporating page load time in to their search rank algorithm, it's kind of ironic that by far the worst culprit in slowing my site down was that Google Friend Connect widget.

So, I took it down ... for now.

Hopefully the people who" run the internet" can, at some point, figure out how to serve up a widget that doesn't take 5-6 seconds to load.

Todd

Todd's Weekly Reader 12-04-09

I recently wrote about how I intend to become a more well known blogger by having greater interaction with my online friends (and soon to be friends) ... mainly thru doing a better job of sharing some of their good stuff ... or pay it forward SEO as SY has called (lol, I wish I had thought of that, much better keyword blog title than my original post).

After making that post, I quickly discovered that I may have given myself a challenge with a few obstacles. You see, I do quite a bit of reading at work. Most blogs and such are blocked by filters. However, I can still browse just about anything via RSS in my google reader (note: if you want me to be able to read your blog regularly, please offer a FULL FEED). The problem is, it makes it a little difficult to comment, when I can't visit the blog itself.

My solution is, to use the "Shared Items" button at the bottom of each post in my reader.

Then, via a plugin called Recommended Reading I can post links to the stories I…

My Diet and Exercise Plan for 2010

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For those who saw my message about rebranding, this particular post might not seem to have much to do with Home Business ... and to some extent, you're probably right ... this is primarily one of those posts that is about me, and for me (ie, I want to be able to refer back to it).

However ...

If you really think about it; isn't it already hard enough to build a successful part-time business when you've got a busy family life, and a challenging full-time career (I would put stay-at-home mom in this category too), along with any other "important" hobbies and interests?

How much tougher do you think we make it on ourselves when we're always tired, because we don't exercise enough, and we eat entirely too much "junk" food?

So with that in mind, I decided that I am going to make my 2010 self-improvement plan "not another New Year's resolution", by starting a whole month early ... on December 1st.

First a bit of background ...

I have a bit…

Don’t Be An INVISIBLE Reader

It's not Who you know ... it's who knows You

Since I became a blogger, it sometimes seems like I spend more time sitting in front of my computer reading, than just about anything else.

Over the past couple of years I've "interacted" with a whole bunch of cool people online. Some of them I "know" pretty darn well ... heck we might even make good friends. Except ...

A few probably don't have a clue who I am.

You see, in my thirst for knowledge (hey, I gotta try to put a positive spin on this little self examination), I sometimes (alright, probably too often) forgot to NETWORK. Don't get me wrong, I certainly got something out of the deal. If I wasn't learning and getting good information, I wouldn't have kept going back, and gotten to know more about my blogging "friends". But, in the process, I did deprive some of them of an opportunity ...

The chance to get to know more about ME. :-)

Every time I've read a quality arti…

Todd’s Best Home Business Tips

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Ok, so I decided to do a little bit of "rebranding" here on this blog by adding two words to my title tag. From this day forward, my little "personal" blog will now be known as Todd's blog about Home Business tips.

For all practical intents and purposes, I'm still going to write posts about my family, share pictures that I've taken, and link out to friend's blogs that may have nothing to do with home business. But since I'm actually making an effort to learn about choosing good keywords for my niche blogs, I figured I might look a little silly if the blog where I do most of my writing is just about "everything" (which let's be honest, really means "nothing in particular").

And here's the thing, writing about home business really isn't a stretch for me ... since that's what my original blog that I started 2 1/2 ago was supposed to be about. Over that time span, as I have "grown" and "evolved&…

Premium WordPress Theme Clubs – Where’s The Best Value?

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I've been blogging now for about 2 1/2 years, and in that time I could definitely be decribed as something of a wordpress theme junkie. I have over a hundred different wordpress themes in a folder on my hard drive. Most are of the "free" variety, and a few I paid for.

Now I know this might come off as a bit snobbish sounding, but here lately I only use premium wordpress themes ... even on my niche sites.

I like the fact that, for the most part, paid themes come with more features, look good "right out of the box, but are also easier to customize. In addition, most paid licenses give me the choice of what links I can have (or not have) down there in the footer.

Which leads right into one of the ways that "free" themes aren't always really all that free. Those little links down in the footer that you are requested to "leave intact". Most of the time, they're relatively innocuous; simply giving credit to the designer ... even still, it…

Baghdad Tour Baath Party House

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As promised, more pictures from my Baghdad Palace Tour.

First, a few more pictures from the roof of the Victory Over America Palace ...

View of Baghdad skyline from bombed out window on the palace roof.


This is the "Flintstone Village" that Saddam built for his grandchildren.

Next we stopped at what is purported to be the last remaining mural of Saddam Hussein ... where there was a rare picture taken with me actually in it ;-)


Finally, it was on to the bombed out remains of the Ba'ath Party House:

This building took hits from a couple of JDAMs, and a Tomahawk Missile. According to the tour guide all of those empty windows used to contain beautiful stained glass.

A couple of views from inside the building ...




And then of course I had to get a couple of "artsy fartsy" type shots ...

Almost like a museum, many things are left almost exactly as they were in 2003 when the bombs fell. I thought this broken chair amongst the rubble really captured the "feel" of…

Mauritius Holiday Sites To See

Are you planning to take a holiday in the near future? Mauritius holiday packages are a great way to be able to afford your next holiday and have a great time. If you are planning to do a little more than sit on the beach and relax there are several packages that will allow for you to have a great experience and see a lot of sites. If you are planning to take a holiday to Mauritius you will want to make sure that you purchase a package that will allow for you to see all of the things attractions that one should see on their holiday to this popular tourist island.

One attraction you will not want to miss on your holiday is the Natural History Museum in Port Louis, Mauritius which is the capital city. This museum is full of animals that have been stuffed and preserved for your viewing pleasure. You will find exotic and extinct birds such as the Dodo which was made famous by Mauritius.

Another attraction you do not want to miss out on is the Pere Laval statute in Port Louis. This statute i…

How Many Of Your Followers Actually Know Like And Trust You?

Ok, so I'm going through my twitter account yesterday, trying to make a list of people who I can honestly say that I'm "friends" with. It's still an ongoing process. But I expect that by the time all is said and done, my "friends" list will encompass well south of 10% of the total amount of people that I follow.

Now maybe, just maybe, this says something about me ...

However, I strongly suspect that my personal experience is well within the norm.

So why does this matter?

Well for one thing, if I'm going to click a link ... and especially if it involves a potential purchase ... guess who's links I am mostly likely to click on?

Ding, Ding, Ding. The correct answer is ... the people who I already Know, Like and Trust.

And especially when it comes to something like twitter, if I'm going to make a list of people who's Tweets that I might actually, you know, READ ... guess who I'm most likely to put on it?

Which brings me full circle ...

I won…

Baghdad Palace Tour

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[caption id="attachment_772" align="left" width="450" caption="Ornate Ceiling of Saddams Victory Over America palace"][/caption] A couple of weeks ago, right after I got to Iraq this time, I had to go up to Baghdad for a conference, and change of command. While I was there, we got to play tourist for a couple of hours. A couple of times a week, the Army public affairs conducts tours of some of Saddam Hussien's palaces. We got to see a couple of examples of the aftermath of American Military firepower, during our walks through the "Victory Over America" palace, and the Baath Party House.

We took buses to the palace, then probably about 200 people made our way up the hill and inside for the tour. All told, we were probably in (what was left of) the palace for about 90 minutes.

I was actually surprised we were even able to walk through the place, as the destruction was pretty impressive:


This is the main ballroom of the palace ..…

Long Travel Day

Ok, so I'm about to turn off my computer and pack it up. I leave tomorrow morning.

I'm very much looking forward to 24+ hours of travel time. 8-)

This is just a short post to let the "couple" of people regularly read my little blog know that I'll probably be offline for the next 5-6 days. However, once I get settled in, I expect to have an Internet connection in my room.

So ... I'll definitely be "chatting" with you again soon,
Todd

The IRS Is Not As Scary As You May Think

First an admission ...

Due to circumstances that were largely NOT beyond my control (even though I'd love to use that excuse), I just recently filed several years of back taxes. I won't go too far into the mucky details; but basically I had one tax year where I either owed a bit, or was due a refund; depending on whether or not someone was legally considered a dependent. The problem was, I was missing a key piece of information that would help make that determination.

And that's where my "stupid" started ...

Instead of just sucking it up, and paying the high 3 figure amount (really not significant in the big scheme of things) for that tax year, I decided to wait for the documentation, that I expected would allow me to get a refund instead.

Then I got even "stupider" ...

While waiting (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting) for said documentation, I subsequently ass-u-me(d) that it wouldn't be a good idea to file current year returns, since I still h…

Why Do You Comment?

A couple of Simple questions ...


What is your goal when you leave a comment on someone else's blog or website?

Do you have an actual "commenting strategy"? In other words, do you plan time for commenting? Do you "target" specific types of blogs?

What are some of the actual benefits you're realized as a result of commenting on other people's blogs?



I'm planning to do a "commenting tips" type post here in the next week or so. These are just a few of the questions that I was curious about. So I figured, rather than doing all my research out on the interwebs, I might as well ask here first.

So what's your take?

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I Really Did Meet My Wife On Match.com

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I've been remarried for almost 3 years now.

We sometimes tell people we met in Walmart (not exactly sure how that's "better"), but in reality, we are an online dating success story. I met Ana on match.com.



I can't remember who initiated the conversation, but I do remember that her profile name was something like "latinmommy", and was all about her and her kids (now my step-kids; Johnathan and Jasmine). Ana say that her sister actually made the profile for her ... she obviously did a good job. Which ever one of us it was who "winked" at the other first, eventually it was mutual, and we started chatting ... first by email, then more "real time" on yahoo, and on the phone.

Finally on the morning of the 4th of July, I happened to catch Ana on yahoo chat. We talked for a few minutes, then she said she had to get offline, so she could go shopping for school supplies at Walmart. Since two of my kids (Justin and Jordan) had come to li…

A Dream Board In Your Pocket

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I'm a fan of using a dream board as part of an overall goal setting strategy. In fact, I've previously written about how to make your own online dream board.

But what if you don't always have access to your computer?

Or what if you're like many of us, and you already spend Too Much Time sitting in front of this silly box?

Is there anything wrong with going totally low tech?



Here's an idea ...

Next time you're down at Wally World, stop by the stationary section, and pick up one of those little pocket sized notebooks. Not the little tiny flip-up ones. One of the one that opens from the side like a regular notebook, but is small enough to fit in a cargo pocket or purse ... I think it's 4x6.

Use it just like you would your online dream board:

Put the date at the top of each page. Then divide your daily entries into 3 sections:

Today I am Thankful for …
Things I like about myself today …
My Goals and Intentions …


Make a new "post" every morning. Then, sinc…

Hilton Hawaiian Village Friday Night Fireworks

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When my kids were younger, one of our favorite Friday night activities was to go down to Waikiki beach to watch the Hilton Hawaiian Village fireworks show. We wouldn't actually go to the Hilton though. The military hotel, the Hale Koa, is right next door. And with an ID card, it's totally free to swim in the pool all day long.

Usually what we'd do, is when the kids got home from school, we'd load the car up with towels, swim suits, and maybe a cooler full of drinks. Then we'd get on H-1 and head for Honolulu. It usually took us between 1/2 hour and 45 minutes to get there; depending on how much that wonderful Hawaii traffic decided to cooperate on that particular day. Since, as I mentioned, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is right next to the Hale Koa, parking was never a problem either. We just parked in the military lot, where I think the price was less than a buck an hour ... cheap fun in paradise ;-)

Some times we'd hit the beach for a little bit. That …

How To Prepare For A Military Deployment

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[caption id="attachment_590" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Dust storm in Iraq"][/caption] So what are some of the steps that a military guy (or girl) should take when they find out they'll be going on an "overseas adventure"?

And I'm not talking about your military training, or the endless checklists and appointments that your unit will surely have for you. I'm thinking more along the lines of how to make sure that your personal stuff ... and your family's, is squared away, so that you don't have to worry about it while you're over there. (depending on your job, you'll probably have enough other stuff to worry about)

Ok, let's start with the important stuff ...

A Visit to the Legal Office

Ok, first area, and I already lied when I said I wouldn't write about things that are on your unit checklist ... I'm sure this is. That said, I do have a few insights to add when it comes to things you…

How To Save Money By Getting A New Car

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... well, a van actually.

[caption id="attachment_598" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="Our new Kia van "][/caption]

With a growing family, it was time to get something with a bit more room. For the past couple of years, we've had two cars. Ana drove a Kia Sorento SUV, and I had a Saturn Ion. This arrangement worked for getting us where we needed to go ... but, both cars had monthly payments.

One upside of my heading for Iraq soon, is that at least for the next 6 months, we have the opportunity to be a one-car family. (and that's where the money savings come)

We'd been considering getting a van for a while. But now seemed like a perfect time to do it. In addition to my deployment giving us the chance to just have one car; the credit market is better, so we got a good interest rate, and with the car companies trying to build their business back up, there are a whole bunch of rebates and credits out there ... even with Cash…

Can You Get Rich Blogging About Making Money?

So you know you need more income. There's always too much month at the end of your paycheck. You need to find a viable way to increase your cash flow. Well, you've got a computer ... you could start a blog ... but what should you write about? It rarely fails, when someone gets on the Internet and decides they'd like earn extra income, one of the first ideas that pops into their head is to start a new blog about making money.

I mean heck, if I'm interested in it, then other people must be too right? I'll just go copy some PLR articles, slap about 25 or 30 bright flashing 125x125 ads in my side bars, then sit back and wait for the huge checks to start rolling in. Sounds like a good plan huh?

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people ...

Earning a Significant Income writing about Making Money Online is about as likely as Winning the Lottery

The biggest problem ... probably 99% of the people who are (attempting to) write about making money online, are NOT ca…

Is It Wrong To Use My Daughter As A Prop?

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Ok, so I've been on a bit of a blog redesign kick this weekend (for those who know me, I bet you're shocked, shocked, shocked). Btw, I am seriously impressed with Elegant Themes. Not only do they look good on the outside, but back-end options panel is probably the best I've seen ... easy to change colors and layout right from the control panel; without editing any code. But I digress, sorry back to the story ...

So as I was re-doing the make money from home page on the CandleMonkey blog, I realized that I didn't have any good, no cheesy, pictures of money.

So I grabbed a $20 bill and my camera, and went to the living room where Jaiden was on the couch watching Sesame Street. Here's the result:
[caption id="attachment_575" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="You\'re never to young to appreciate Andrew Jackson"][/caption]

Jaiden thought it was great fun ... until she tried to eat my money and I had to take it away from …

My T-Mobile Sidekick Died

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My cell phone died the other day. I plugged it into the charger and left it on the shelf. A couple of hours later, I noticed that it only had one bar, and wasn't recharging. I tried plugging the charger into another wall jack; no dice. Then I tried putting the sidekick on my car charger; still no luck. That phone is D.E.D. dead.

Actually, it's not quite the tragedy that it might sound. The phone itself is about 2 years old. And more importantly, since I'm going to Iraq again next month I was only going to be using the sidekick for a short time anyway (hoping the next version of the "myTouch" will be out by the time I get back next spring).



Anyway, it's obviously not worth fixing the sidekick. And the warranty has long since expired ... although I am technically still eligible to use the warranty since I have (stupidly) been paying for insurance since I've had the phone (I'll do another post soon about what a dumb idea cell phone insurance i…