Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Diet and Exercise Plan for 2010

fit hiker in the Alps 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 of an advantage here, in that I already exercise on a pretty regular basis. But, since I've been here in Iraq, it's no longer organized military pt, so I have to be more self-motivated ... which can be a bit of a challenge for me at times. That being said, I do have easy access to a gym (3 minute walk from my room). And plenty of "free" time every afternoon/evening after work (since I'm away from my family).

On the eating front, it's kind of a mixed bag. I do have access to healthy foods. But, I also have easy access to a ton of temptation. It's funny, a Captain we were having dinner with last week actually described our dining facility as being "like eating at Golden Coral every meal of every day" ... which is pretty much spot on. If you only go there as a treat, that might sound like a good thing. But it does get a bit old after a while. Not only that, but if you are at all susceptible to "all you can eat buffet syndrome", it's quite easy to put away a substantial number of calories every day.

Ok, with that out of the way, here is my plan ...


I will exercise 6 days a week ... Sunday-Friday ... no excuses! Saturday will be my day off.

  1. Running - Either on the treadmill, or outside ... 2-4 miles per day.

  2. Strength - Nothing fancy (for now, may add weights later) ... 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups ... every M, W, F


Almost signed up online for the Abs Diet site ... but then I realized, I've already read that book, and have a reasonable idea of what I need to do. Like the exercise plan, this will be 6 days a week.

Saturday - my "Free" day, where I can continue to eat pretty much anything I want.


  • Breakfast - wheat toast or english muffin / 1-3 eggs / small portion lean meat (turkey bacon) / fresh fruit

  • Lunch - lean meat (chicken, turkey) / vegetables / salad / fruit

  • Afternoon Snack - cliff bar / nuts / fruit

  • Dinner - Sandwich / Salad / fruit


This one will be tough, but I'm going to try to cut down to only having caffeine in the morning. For the rest of the time I'm here, this will be in the form of sugar-free citrus flavor Rip-It (which I can get from the dining hall). I will attempt to only have two a day.

Only so that's my plan ...

I have about 4 1/2 months left here. By the time I get home in April, I would like to have lost 20lbs, and be in habit of (and maybe even enjoy) running six days a week, without having to force myself.

I will be keeping a log of my progress, but I don't plan to bore you with daily, or even weekly posts about it. However, I may throw up an occasional update from time to time ... especially if it's working. ;-)

Catch up with you again soon,

Friday, November 27, 2009

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 article, then simply moved on without so much as even leaving a comment, I've been guilty of this offense.

And here's the thing, staying invisible just makes no sense, no matter how you slice it.

So here's a challenge for myself (and it can potentially be your mission too, should you choose to accept it):

I have quite a few blogs in my google reader, that I follow regularly. It probably wouldn't be a stretch to say that on some days I may read 100+ articles/stories. Right now, usually all I do is read them. Here's what I propose to change ...

Every Time I read a "good" post I will do at least one of these things:

  1. Blog about/link to it here on Todd's Tips, or one of my other niche sites

  2. Tweet about it

  3. Share it with my FaceBook friends

  4. Submit it to other social networking sites

  5. Leave a thoughtful (and hopefully interesting) comment

If I do any of these things on a consistent basis, the bloggers who I follow will eventually make it their business to know exactly who I am.

And here's the best part ...

It's a Win / Win situation for all involved.

I obviously have some self interest here ... I want to increase my influence by become more well known.

But in pursuit of my goal, with methods I've chosen, I will be giving at least as much as I will eventually get in return.

Seriously, when was the last time you met a blogger who didn't want to be linked to, tweeted about, facebooked, stumbled, or get good quality comments?

Ok, so that's my plan.

And since I'm still (and probably always will be) a world class procrastinator at heart, I shall start this project (along with my new diet and exercise regime) ...

Tomorrow :-D

Honestly, it's 1:30 am here, I can't be up all night, reading, tweeting and commenting.

Oh wait though, I can start this off with a link though ...

In a roundabout way, an inspiration for this post was my buddy Sire, who has a very interesting blog about blogging (among other topics). But what makes Sire really unique is the habit he has of always, and I do mean Always, visiting the blog of every person who comments on his site, and leaving at least one comment of his own. Now that's networking, and it's a great example of how to really connect with your readers ... and not be Invisible.

And on that note, I am outta here ... it's bed time for bonzo.

Catch up again soon,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Todd’s Best Home Business Tips

dayatthelake_smOk, 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" I actually moved the content around to 4 different domain names. lol, If I'd just kept writing on the whole time, I guarantee there'd be a lot more of you reading this right now. :-)

Hey wait, there's Todd's Tip #1 for this post: If you start a blog, unless you have a very good reason to change, STICK TO IT! Moving your content is generally a bad, bad idea (unless maybe you're upgrading from blogger to self-hosted wordpress).

But I digress ... ok, back to the topic at hand.

Because I was a dummy, and foolishly never blogged in one place for an extended period of time, quite a bit of my good (in my not so humble opinion) content from the "early days" is pretty well hidden from google (and probably most of my readers). But, there is a bright side ...

Since I have all this underutilized content, I figured the best (and easiest) way to launch my rebranding is take a trip back in time and introduce you to a few articles that offer up some solid advice about building a business, leadership and/or personal growth (all are definitely related).

So without further ado ...

  1. Finding Your Niche - Yikes in re-reading this one, I could have saved myself about a year and a half of "drifting" had I just printed out my own post, and tacked up to the wall next to my desk.

  2. How NOT To Network - This was a fun, short little post from almost 2 year ago. Sometimes using a negative example can be a good way to teach a positive lesson. That being said, I still get sent these type of messages way too often. Seriously, don't be "that guy"

  3. It's All About The Story - I shared this lesson in the context of building a network marketing business. But really, I think it's pretty universal, and can be applied to just about any type of home or internet business ... especially those involving sales (ie., pretty much all of them).

  4. 10 Laws of Leadership - Another one that's a good candidate for printing out and re-reading on a regular basis. I remember doing this exercise way back when I first made this post (which was not Feb of this year ... I think this is one that was pushed up by a plugin I was using called "old post promoter"). I think this is definitely an area to put some additional focus here in the very near future.

  5. 3 Reasons Why Failure Is Good - I don't know about you, but I actually don't get too bent out of shape when things don't always go exactly as planned. Sometimes, a few bumps in the road are necessary if we're to get to where we are supposed to be.

  6. The Power Of Rewarding Yourself - "Good Stuff" tends to build on itself. Do you think it's possible that if we put forth a little bit of effort looking for the "good stuff" we might just attract even more of it?

  7. If You're Not Having Fun, You're Not Doing It Right - I don't this one needs much explanation. It's my new, old, motto.

  8. Striking The Right Balance Between Family and Business - This one goes hand-in-hand with the article above. No matter how successful you may become with your home business, you MUST keep your priorities straight.

Ok, well there's much, much more. And really, even if no reads any of these articles, I've already considered this post to be a rousing success ... for the simple fact that I NEEDED to have a lot of those concepts reinforced for myself.

Ok, on that note it's bed time.

Catch up with you again real soon,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

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

elegant themes 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's a site-wide link(s) to a page that you may or may not even want to send your readers (and the googlebot) to visit. The bigger potential problem is that sometimes these free themes contain links that quite possibly "evil" ... as Kristi recently discovered in Free WordPress Themes - with a catch.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way trying to imply that ALL free wordpress themes are "bad". But once you decide that blogging is something you want to do, on more than just a "hey let's try this and see how it works out" basis, paying for a wordpress theme is probably a prudient step.

The good news is, sometimes there seems to be almost as many choices in paid themes, as there are for free ones ...

By far one of the most popular paid themes out there right now is Thesis. I know quite a few people who are using this theme, and are more than happy with it. That being said, not everyone (especially bloggers just starting out) has $77 or $160 to invest in a wordpress template.

For many people who want to make the jump from free designs to premuim blog templates, a theme club may be a good option.

Being the theme junkie that I am, I suspect I'm probably qualified to recommend what I think are possibly the two best values in Premium WordPress Theme Clubs ...

  1. Elegant Themes - For people who want a choice of over a dozen impressive looking themes, that don't require you to know code, but are still reasonably customizable, Elegant Themes is an insanely great value at only $19.95 a year.

    Not only do these themes look real snazzy, but they have one of the most all encompassing, yet still user friendly, options panels that I've ever seen. You can do so many tasks, from changing colors, to managing your ads, to excluding certain pages from showing up in your menu bar ... all without touching a single line of code!

    I'm currently using Elegant Themes on a several of my sites. My favorite theme is called "Basic". You can see it in action on my Earn Extra Income and The Baby Jaiden Blog sites.

  2. Theme Hybrid - Justin Tadlock's Theme Hybrid club actually doesn't cost a penny to download the hybrid framework, or any of the child themes. But have no doubt, these are definitely "premium" wordpress themes. If you are a "tinkerer" (which I am), and you like to play around with code and css in an attempt to "make the theme your own", then Hybrid is definitely for you. Where the premium part comes in, is the support ...

    It costs $25 a year, but is probably easily worth 10x that. It is a Very Active forum, with help provided not only by members, but more often than not Justin himself will answer your questions ... and even provide you with examples of code, when needed. If you're at all interested becoming knowlegable about the "under the hood" aspects of wordpress themes, this is a community you really can't afford to pass up.

    Todd's Tips is currently using a customized version of one of Justin's child themes. It's still not "perfect" (probably never will be), but after trying out a whole bunch of designs over the years, this is the one I keep coming back to .... it's the closest thing I've found to my vision of how my blog "should" look.

Like many other things I write on this blog, everything above is just my opinion. However, if you're one of those people who's at that crossroads, ready to jump into the world of paid wordpress themes, I hope you find my experiences helpful in your own decision making.

Talk to you again soon,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Baghdad Tour Baath Party House

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

Saddam grandchildrens Flintstone Village
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 ;-)
Saddam Hussein Mural

Finally, it was on to the bombed out remains of the Ba'ath Party House:
blown out window of baath 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 the place.

And then last but not least, I don't know what it is with me and stairs lately ... but again, this was one of my favorite shots.

I hope you enjoyed. And if you're interested, you can find more pictures from Baghdad (and elsewhere) on my Flickr page.

Til next time,

p.s. don't forget that I do still have some pictures of the Ziggurat of Ur coming sometime in the next week or two ... so check back soon if you like that sort of thing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

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 is a famous tourist attraction with a lot of history and power. It is said that this statute is responsible for religiously converting over 67,000 people. The local people believe that this statute has special healing powers that will heal them when they touch it. You will want to view this magnificent statue and find out the history behind it.

There are a lot of other sites that you will want to make sure you will be able to see when you are looking through the Mauritius holiday packages that are available. You will find holiday packages that will allow for you to save money on your travel and lodging expenses, and you will find some that will take you on a tour of this popular island. No matter which one you choose you will have a very wonderful holiday in Mauritius for you and your family.

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 wonder how many of my own "followers", "readers", and even "friends" actually consider me to be someone they Know, Like and Trust?

Follower/Subscriber counts are just numbers, if there is no connection.

I'd rather be followed by 10 people who Know, Like and Trust me (and as a result might actually care what I have to say), than 100 (or even 1000) people who have simply added me to their list (probably in the hope that I'll add them back to mine).

What do you think?

Is it more important to build the list, and worry about the connections later?

Or ... should we focus on the connections, and have confidence that if enough people start to Know, Like and Trust us, the "list building" will pretty much take care of itself?

Just something to ponder on a Wednesday morning.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Baghdad Palace Tour

[caption id="attachment_772" align="left" width="450" caption="Ornate Ceiling of Saddams Victory Over America palace"]Ornate Ceiling of Saddam's "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.

IMG_3674p.jpg 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 ... or at least what was left of it.

And this is over along a wall, where one of the bombs actually hit.

After walking around for a while trying not to trip over any boards, we were able to stop for a bit of fun taking pictures of ourselves.IMG_3689f.jpg These two guys in the picture to the left are people that I used to work with in Hawaii ... so in addition to seeing some sights, I also had a bit of a reunion in Baghdad.

Then it was finally time to head up the stairs to the roof ...

This is one of my favorite pictures from the day.

I took a few more nice pictures from up on the roof. However, I think this post starting to run a bit long, so I'll just plan to do another one tomorrow with pictures from the roof overlooking Baghdad. And possibly even one more the next day for the Baath Party House.

If you like the pictures, be sure to come back again this weekend.

See you then,

p.s. I also have quite a few pictures from the Ziggeraut of Ur (which is right outside my base). I haven't had the chance to finish the post-processing on all of those yet, so it may be another week or so before I can get those pics up.