Some Thoughts From Life’s Halfway Point

Well I don’t feel any different.

I’ve turned 40 today and I feel pretty good overall.

I don’t have any major health problems, life is going decent in general and I have lots of great family and friends.

I really can’t complain, and yet here I go!

Just kidding, but I do want to touch on a few topics and generally ramble on if you’ll permit an old man. ;)

Healthwise, turning 40 isn’t all that different from 35 or 30. It’s just that little tiny things keep creeping up on you. A creak here, a pain there, the ability to recover from a drinking binge keeps lessening. Overall your mutant healing power keeps on reducing.

I suppose I’m rather lucky and I thank the gods for my genes. I have most of my hair (allow me to knock on some wood) and people tell me I’m holding up rather well. I guess I have to thank my Dad’s side for some of that, although the Monahan family has a tendency to start balding rather young. The Kerns side is where I get the head of hair apparently.

But hair is a small thing in the grand scheme of things. Many of us have to deal with much more problematic stuff like, oh say, dying. There are so many people I know that have kicked the bucket before their 40th year.

I lost a really good friend last year and it was tough. It was a gut punch that hit me hard. But it was also sort of a wake up call. A lesson that I need to appreciate everyone in my life and to spend my time wisely.

It just goes to show that life is short. If you’re not doing stuff that makes you happy right now, what are you doing with your time?

What are you put here on earth to do? As Andy Dufresne said in The Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying”.

But overall life is going great for me.

I have lots of great family. I’m lucky and count my blessings frequently that I don’t have a lot of assholes in the family. I have lots of people that I truly love to spend time with. There’s also lots of people I can go to for advice and guidance.

I also have lots of great friends and I’m not sure what I did to deserve them. Boy do I have them snowed over! If you asked me the main reasons I have so many great friends, it’d be because I try to espouse the virtues in books like “How To Win Friends and Influence People“. Really it boils down to being completely honest, being nice, and genuinely wanting to help people. That’s it. Being a complete goofball, well that probably helps by keeping the riffraff and ones with the sticks up their butts at bay.

That’s another piece of life advice. Keep those people who are so serious about life at a distance. They’re no fun and will bring you down. Stay childlike at heart and having fun, because well, it’s just more fun that way.

About my wife, well she’s just amazing. We’re not married by the governments definition and that’s ok because screw them and their rules about marriage. But we’re partners in this thing called life and she’s more than I could have ever asked for. We always have fun and are great for each other. We’ve learned to minimize our arguments and quickly forgive each other. (Another piece of advice there: you’re GOING to have arguments with anyone you live with for an extended period of time, so get used to it and get over them quickly!)

My job is going pretty well. I work freelance and can set my own hours. I can pretty much call the shots, which is all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve made some stuff I think is really cool, and I have at least 9 more months of savings to keep at it. Hopefully I’ll find ways to make more money and extend that out further and further, but if not, I’ll find a job where I can learn a bunch about something new.

I don’t have kids and I’m ok with that. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE kids and being around them. But I don’t need my own kids to raise. There are plenty of other kids around that need love. Also I’m “Uncle John” to a great many children and I barely have the time to spend with all of them. If I had kids my responsibilities would grow and it would subtract from all the other stuff I want to do. If I go through this life without having kids, that’s fine. I spread my wisdom and thoughts in other ways that will outlast me.

Looking at myself in the mid-point of life from my teenager perspective, I’d say I’m rocking it out pretty well. I’m living by my own standards, able to forge my own destiny and design the sort of work I want to do. That’s pretty cool.

I’m a lucky guy, and if I were to die tomorrow I’d have no regrets. Of course, I have a ton of stuff I want to do so I hope I’m healthy well into my 80s!

Of course 40 is nothing more than a number, a mile marker, and no one can make you feel old so don’t let them. But it’s nice to be wise and take all your failures and everything you’ve learned and apply that with a fervency to life. I suggest that everyone do that. Constantly be learning and open to new things. Constantly examine your life and how you’re spending your time. And if you’re not doing what you want to be, then figure out just how in the hell to get there.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone in my life for being there! I love you all.

Now let’s head to Beedubs and have some drinks!

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You Have To Build Backlinks In SEO

For a long time I’ve promoted the fact that content was the most vital part of SEO. It’s true that it’s very important, but my views on it have changed as of late.

Obviously everything goes together in the mix, in the ghoulash of stuff that makes up your search rankings. Content, the way your site is built, and backlinks are the big three.

But none of these can work on their own apart from the others. And content is no more important than the others. In fact, if I had to pick one that was most important, I’d say it was backlinks.

I wish that it wasn’t. If Google was doing their job right, then a kick ass site with awesome content should rank well without having ANY backlinks. But you can have a site with great content (and tons of it) and not get ANY rankings in Google for years if you don’t have backlinks.

It sucks. And you’ve got to play the game to compete with other SEOs. You’ve got to do backlinking if you’re doing SEO.

You might be lucky and be working on a site that already has a lot of backlinks, is an established site already. In that case, great – you don’t necessarily need to build any more backlinks, you can focus on content and site tweaks. But you’ve GOT to have those backlinks.

It’s a sort of proof for Google, but it’s a double-edged sword for them. They’ve sort of painted themselves into a corner in saying that backlinks count as votes towards your site. Now they have the unenviable task of figuring out which of those votes mean anything.

And we who do SEO are left to build backlinks the best we can. Whether the methods we use are completely white hat, black hat or somewhere in between is for each of us to decide, but build backlinks we must!

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Tornado Activity Map – And Where To Live!

This is some really cool stuff. This graphic shows the tracks of tornadoes over the past 56 years. You can see that they mostly originate starting in the midwest.


Perhaps the winds/jetstream across the US needs some room to really get going, or maybe something about being near water on the West coast limits the amount of tornadic activity.

Also, check out southeast Ohio. That’s where there’s lots of hills and forested area. Then look at Buffalo, NY – it’s right at the northeast part of Lake Erie. We don’t have info from Canada, but you can see that tornadoes don’t hit to the east of Lake Erie. It’s likely that the lake itself protects Western New York from tornados. Just south of the lake in the southern tier there’s a lot more activity.

Also, in the hilly, mountainous regions, mainly the Alleghenies, there’s little tornado activity. Now you can plan where you might want to live if you’re afraid of tornados!

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How To Make A YouTube Embed Link Autoplay

If you’re embedding Youtube videos or linking to them using something like Thickbox or Lightbox, here’s how to have them autoplay.

Basically you need to add the code: autoplay=1

So consider a link like this:

<a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/xcgn7SLp-RA?autoplay=1&keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=315&width=560″ …

The autoplay=1 needs to come DIRECTLY after the Youtube link. What this is saying is that the “?” means there are variables coming. Then the variables are separated by “&”. So it’s the link, then the ?, & (or “and” a variable), & and another variable and so on.

Note that autoplay=true will not work – it neesd to be autoplay=1.

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The Basics About Ron Paul And Libertarianism

What follows is an overview of what Ron Paul is all about and what Libertarians are in a nutshell. Gary Johnson also fits the description below.

(It was originally for a friend’s classroom of kids but I wanted to post it here as well. Feel free to re-use or repurpose it as you see fit)
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I guess the main thing is that Dr. Paul’s political positions don’t put him exactly on the Left or the Right. Some might say his positions are all over the map, but that’s only because they don’t understand where he’s coming from. Ron Paul’s views all come from the Constitution; he didn’t just think them up on his own. (You could even call Ron Paul and people like him “Constitutionalists”.)

Our Constitution is a very simple document that limits the power of government. It outlines what government (mostly central, i.e. federal government) can do for us and can’t do *TO* us. Back in the day we were very afraid of a monarch ruling over us so our Founding Fathers went to great lengths to make sure government could never do that again.

Our Founding Fathers believed that, without control, government would grow like a beast to seek more and more power, which would mean more taxes, more departments and more money for those in Congress (sound familiar?)

They knew that there are really only 2 forms of government, a Republic (rule of law) or an Oligarchy (rule by a group or family); all other forms of government are temporary and eventually morph into one of these. The Constitution was a document intended to keep us a Republic for as long as possible.

Once you understand these things, you can see that the views of a Constitutionalist all adhere to the same thing. Another widely held view is that the Government doesn’t do things efficiently; it spends money like it grows on tree and has many layers of unnecceasry beauracracy and waste. Ron Paul believes that the private sector can do things more efficiently and the role of government is to foster a fertile ground for the private sector to flourish.

Now here are some more specific things that someone like Ron Paul would do:

  • Eliminate or drastically reduce funding from different Federal government departments like the FDA, the Department of Homeland Security, the EPA, the CDC and more.
  • Eliminate the Income Tax and abolish the Internal Revenue Service
  • Cut the Department of Defense’s budget by 15% or more
  • Bringing overseas troops home immediately and only fight wars that are Constitutionally declared by Congress
  • Eliminate foreign aid (the belief is that most foreign aid doesn’t help the people it’s intended for but instead goes to the rich or those who control that country)
  • Stop the war on drugs and instead regulate and tax a drug like Marijuana
  • Eliminate governments role in Health Care (This is a complex issue and it’s hard to get into every issue in-depth here – but check out http://www.ronpaul.com/on-the-issues/health-care/ – the gist is that private entities can do a better job for cheaper than a government-mandated system that covers everyone for everything.)

Some things that are interesting and very different about Paul are his personal views versus what he would do. For instance, he is personally against Abortion, however he thinks that the Federal government shouldn’t mandate an anti-abortion stance across the country. Abortion is a very sticky issue for many people with layers of complexity. Therefore it’s something that should be decided at the State level. (Some issues are so tricky that they can be pushed even more locally and decided at the city or town level.)

Early in our Republic, the idea was that the different States would be a sort of testing ground, and each one would have their own laws and would only very loosely be governed by the Federal government. That way if you didn’t like guns, or abortion, or wanted a State that had no taxes, you could live in that State. And if a State lost a huge population, they would have to “correct” the laws that made people leave in order to entice people to come back. The Federal government was there mainly for defense against other countries and dealing with them.

Another huge part of Ron Paul’s views are that of sound money. Our money used to be backed by the gold standard, but as of 1971 our money is essentially worthless (known as a “fiat currency”). We used to be able to take our money to a bank and trade in a dollar for a dollar’s worth in gold or silver. Nowadays, a dollar is worth… well, whatever we think it’s worth. This allows our Federal Reserve to print more and more money which devalues the money we have. And the Federal Reserve is not a Federal entity – it’s actually a private bank!

So whenever you hear about “ecomonic stimulus”, when a President is trying to kick the economy into gear, it’s really just the Federal Reserve getting the printing presses going and giving the money to banks at the highest levels. They hope that it trickles down and gets loaned out but there’s nothing that proves this works. It does, however lead to massive inflation and reduced purchasing power of our dollar.

Ron Paul believes that the ONLY way to have a good economy and reduce our deficit spending is to go back to a system of sound money; one that is backed by a commodity like silver or gold. The first step is to get a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve. (Would you believe that we have very little accounting of how much money they’re even printing?) If you control a nation’s economy, you can control that nation’s government, and this is perhaps THE fundamental issue facing our country right now.

So to sum up, Ron Paul believes in limited central government and the cause of Liberty. Stolen from someone else (http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul734.html):

“Liberty means to exercise human rights in any manner a person chooses so long as it does not interfere with the exercise of the rights of others. This means, above all else, keeping government out of our lives. Only this path leads to the unleashing of human energies that build civilization, provide security, generate wealth, and protect the people from systematic rights violations. In this sense, only liberty can truly ward off tyranny, the great and eternal foe of mankind.”

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Further reading: What Would Really Happen If Ron Paul Were To Be Elected President?
http://www.lewrockwell.com/sardi/sardi192.html

 

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Piryx – An Awesome Donation Platform

If you’re looking for an online donation platform, you may want to checkout Piryx . It’s a great website/platform for charities and political organization.

I like Piryx because it’s easy to set up and configure. It has lots of social sharing options and you can create multiple online fundraising campaigns. You can theme pages to look like your site, add your logo, etc.

As for the fees, from their site:

There are no monthly fees, no startup fees, no contracts, and no initial costs. The only costs associated with using Piryx is a 4.5% transaction fee on money that you raise through Piryx Fundraising, which includes merchant, credit card (Visa, MC, AMEX, Discover) and eCheck processing fees.

They have a tiered pricing model as well:

$0 – $100,000 – 4.5% per transaction
$100,001 – $250,000 – 4.3% per transaction
$250,001 – $1 Million – 4.25% per transaction
$1 Million+ – 4.0 % per transaction

They accept major credit cards and eCheck.

With Piryx, they take care of pretty much everything, it’s easy and intuitive. There’s one central location which is nice too – rather than setting up multiple forms across places like your Website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. They also handle all the mobile development so the donation page(s) work on iOS and Android platforms as well.

Perhaps best of all, they’ve done tons of research and have gobs of stats to work with, so they can optimize the donation forms & pages to get the best conversion rates. That’s pretty much all they do, so they’ve gotten pretty good at it.

They have more info on their FAQ page  as well as videos there.

It’s really pretty awesome and you can get going quickly. They also have a recent update that has been spun off into Rally.  I haven’t really dug into this yet but it looks slick as well!

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How To Get A New 6th Gen iPod Nano for $50

It’s absolutely true: you can get a new 6th generation (touchscreen) iPod nano for around $50.

Yup, one of these. Ain't they purty?

This is due to Apple’s recall on the 1st generation iPod nano. Apparently some of the 1st generation nano’s had bad batteries so Apple issued a recall on them. Here is Apple’s official iPod nano (1st generation) Replacement Program.

If you don’t have a 1st gen laying around collecting dust, you can still get on on eBay for around $50. I bought one in fantastic condition with a nice case.

All you do is go to Apple’s site and enter your serial number. They’ll ship you a Fedex package that you can put the iPod in and then you’ll have to schedule a pickup or take it to a Fedex shipping center. All postage is paid by Apple.

As far as I know, all serial numbers are valid – but perhaps there are some 1st gen nanos that don’t fall under this replacement program, so your mileage may vary. Just be sure that you’re ok with the possibility of getting “stuck” with a 1st gen unit. (Me, I don’t care – I actually like the 1st gens as they have a click wheel; if Apple didn’t replace it, I’d still have a nice iPod to use.)

Originally Apple was replacing the 1st gen nanos with the same thing, but there was enough demand that they burned through their supply and now have to use the 6th gen version. (See this link for proof of others getting a 6th gen iPod nano.)

I don’t know if the iPod you return even needs to be working. It doesn’t say on the recall page, so perhaps you could get a 6g nano for even cheaper by picking up a broken one for $10-20.

Here's the original iPod nano 1st gen. There's a special place in my heart for this model.

This is a pretty nice thing to take advantage of if you want to do a (very) little bit of work. Like I said though, there are a couple of possible downfalls, like the recall time running out after you get one.

I wonder what Apple is doing with the old ones – it’d be kind of a shame if Apple was just “Lisa’ing” those beautiful 1st gens into the scrap heap.

Update: Amazon also has the 1st generation iPod nano for around $50-60 bucks.

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How Many Ads Can You Use Per Website With Google Adsense?

The answer is much like the Tootsie Roll lollipop. “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll lollipop?” “One…two… *CRUNCH* … three”.

If you’re trying to put a bunch of Google Adsense ads on your website but not seeing them show up, it may be because you have too many. You can only have three text ad units, three image ad units and 2 search units for Google Adsense. (Other ad banner networks will be completely different of course.)

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How to turn on/off Word Wrap In Notepad++ In Windows 7

Here’s how to turn on/off Word Wrap In Notepad++ In Windows 7: 

From the “view” menu click on Wordwrap

That’s it! There is no step 2!

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