Monday, 25 April 2011

This Blog Has Moved

It's official! This blog is officially closed, and has moved. I suggest you follow my other blogs, please!

The As Was site has been redone, and you can follow the new blog at http://www.aswas.com/blog. It'll be much the same as you've seen here with infrequent posts.

The action is now at my Brass Flowers blog. http://BrassFlowers.com/blog is where you'd go! Brass Flowers is my consulting work. Posts are mostly about UX/UI, usabilty, marketing, and branding. What makes websites or apps easy or hard to use. Examples of great and bad design. Even a few posts about the eBay website... is it easy to use? If you have liked the As Was blog, you'll love the Brass Flowers blog.

And for kicks, once in a while, I write a dating advice blog with the lovely Bryan Goodman, aka Mr Bigfoot. That's at http://StealthyDating.com/blog. So if you enjoying the personal, wacky posts here about dating, they'll now live there.

Thanks for your loyal readership! This blog started in April 2005 (amazing!), and it lives on... just not on Typepad.

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Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Great Lesson To Learn

I didn't learn a lot from my father. Never really got to know him much. But there was one lesson he taught me that has stayed with me every day. I want to share it with everybody.

It happened many years ago. I was in an ugly divorce. My Dad was my attorney. My then-husband was making all kinds of weird threats and demands. No negotiations seemed to get anywhere. He wouldn't budge. I finally called for a sit-down meeting with him and his lawyer so we could figure out what the heck they wanted, and negotiate something that everybody could live with.

When we left that meeting, my Dad said to me in the parking lot, "I've been a lawyer nearly 40 years, and that was the worst meeting I've ever had." I said, "Why?" He said, "The other side was never open to negotiations. They never planned to even listen to us. They're not open to new information. It was a complete waste." Evidently, he had never been to a meeting/negotiation where the other side was prepared to budge 0% on their demands. We had assumed that a man and his lawyer agreeing to a meeting were open to listening, negotiating, and compromising. We were wrong.

And it makes me think.

It makes me think about how much we do things like that in everyday life. How much time we spend trying to convince people of something they're really not even listening to. How we assume that just because someone is in a conversation with us that they are really absorbing what we're saying, and COULD be swayed by our amazing information. Think about how frustrated you get when you are just trying to explain this to this person! And he's just not getting it! So you're going to explain it AGAIN! And maybe with more exclamation points, maybe nastier language... as your day ticks away.

I've watched this recently with a friend who had a mini email battle with some guy he barely knew. Every time the guy emailed him, the guy was condescending and bully-ish. In my opinion, it's a mistake for my friend to even bother writing this guy back anything longer than one sentence. This guy is NOT going to wake up and see that he's condescending, bully-ish, unreasonable, disorganised, etc... Every second you spend writing him back, especially those LONG emails he doesn't care about, and every second you spend thinking about him is a waste.

I'd bet my friend even tried being condescending and bully-ish to the other guy, partially to see if the guy woke up, and partially to fight fire with fire. I'd bet my friend made threats to push the other guy, threats like choosing to not make his usual donation to an organisation they're both a part of. I think my friend will follow through on that threat. And guess what? The other guy didn't change his tone or opinion at all. The other guy acted like nobody needs my friend's money or involvement. So who is winning this?

And sometimes, I see people ramping this up by trying to embarrass the other person. Like he's not getting it, so where can I post this so that other people will see me schooling him in what I'm trying to get across. Another mistake, and just makes you look like a major bad guy for airing it on Twitter, Facebook, a discussion forum, wherever. When does something make sense as a tweet or Facebook post, and when does it make sense to privately email someone? If you're at a business event, when does it make sense to walk up to someone and make a suggestion, or get that suggestion to them privately, compared to tweeting to everybody with the event's hashtag... so everybody sees it?

Ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish. Can you accomplish it without embarrassing others, or looking like the bad guy? Should you bother dealing with that "worst meeting," or should you just not reply to that guy? Think about my lesson, and do unto others. If you wouldn't want someone doing that to you, especially in a public forum, don't do it to anyone else. I believe what goes around comes around, and you may not like when it comes around.

So the lesson is...

You can't "wake someone up." You can't make him or her more aware of his or her own behaviour. I was never going to make my ex-husband more reasonable in negotiations. My friend is never going to get the condescending guy who emails him to be friendly, reasonable, understanding.

And maybe I'm not going to get you to do anything differently! :) But I wish I could save everybody the time and frustration/anger, and give you the ability to see when you're walking into the "worst meeting," where the other party is not open to any information other than what they already think, know, or believe.

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Monday, 14 February 2011

When You See Your Friend Doing The Wrong Thing..

Having just ended a truly bizarre and surreal legal battle with an ex-boyfriend, one thing really stood out to me. He must have no friends. No real friends. You know, the type of people who hear what you're doing, and suggest that you not do that.

I'm lucky to have loving and supportive friends who are also not afraid to tell me when they think I'm making a mistake... or taking the wrong path... or making a poor choice. I have wonderful friends who are comfy saying, "Hey, this doesn't look like the you I know. Think twice about this, and why you're doing it." I realise I am very lucky to have such friends.

Because clearly, my ex doesn't have such friends. I can't imagine there is an intelligent or compassionate human on the planet who would listen to his lies, hear what he did to me or planned to do to me (in our legal battle), and would support what he was doing. Having just received some of the legal documents he filed (before I ended the case), I saw that he was laying a huge trap for me. A trap of lies about me and our relationship.

For example, he used to work for me. He was always paid for his work. He worked for part of 2009 before we broke up. He was 1099'ed for this money, yet he filed with the court that he was never even paid. I asked to see his tax return from that year. He didn't claim the money I paid him.

This is stupid. Doesn't he have ANY friends looking at what he's doing, and saying, "Holy cats, this is a BAD idea. Don't mess with the IRS!" And if any friend were listening what he was trying to do to me, the groundwork of lies that he was laying, you'd think SOMEBODY might say, "Hey, man. What did this woman do to you that you're going through all this trouble to set all these traps for her?"

The paperwork I just saw was full of lies. Which is interesting since it would have been part of a court case, and there were MANY lies in there I would have easily been able to prove were lies. So what is he doing? And he has a lawyer. She's advising him that this is a good idea?! She's supposed to bring him a dose of reality. It's why they're called counsel. They're supposed to advise. I can only assume she's one of his Alcoholics Anonymous pals thinking she's doing him a favour.

So what's my point. My point is that if you have a friend, and you think he or she is doing the wrong thing, say something. If the battle doesn't match the problem, say something. I am amazed at the war my ex created over something quite small. The case I had pending against him would not have appeared on his permanent record. Even if I had completely won, he'd never have to tell anybody, never have to report it on a job application. It wasn't a criminal case. He and his lawyer treated this like they had to fight a capital murder case by dragging me over broken glass.

It was incredibly bizarre to read the paperwork he filed. Disturbing that a lawyer was OK with those lies, and the refusal to answer questions they knew were pivotal to my case. But this is what losers do. Losers distract and set fires off to the side, hoping that good people like me will rush to put out those fires, and not be able to address the original issue because I'm too busy putting out side fires. Losers refuse to answer the questions they know will make my case, and instead, try to keep me spinning and distracted.

When I heard he was contacting my friends to try to trick them into testifying against me, I ended the case. I couldn't stand the idea that good people were being dragged into more of his games and manipulations. And I'm glad I ended the case since now I see all the lies and traps being set for me. Funny since the whole case was about lies and fraud... and here he is, full of lies and fraud to fight my fraud claim. Genius! Jeez, he would have lost this case so gloriously, but I just decided it wasn't worth my time, money, or the continued interference in my life. Just before I dropped the case, his lawyer got it moved to a date in June when I will be out of the country on vacation with my boyfriend. But the case is over, and I'll be laying in the Central American sun while he continues living a life based on lies and fake personae he takes on.

This is who he is. And someday, more of the people around him will realise this, and they will distance themselves from him. He will end up very much alone. Even if he's surrounded by people like him, he's still alone. Because eventually, everybody sees the boy who cries wolf for who he is. A scared little kid, acting out, manipulating for attention and what he perceives as his own gain. My ex is a sick little kid, a guy who doesn't realise how much he is drowning in his own struggles with sobriety, a guy who doesn't understand how much his depression and illness affect others. A guy who clearly has no morals. And obviously a guy who doesn't believe that what goes around comes around otherwise he'd be more careful about what he puts out there.

I am the real winner here. I am done with him. It cost me time, it cost me frustration, but it cost very little money. I'm living in a new city, and I have an amazing boyfriend. We just got back from a week in Disney, and we have a vacation planned just about every month this year. When my boyfriend and I are looking in each other's eyes, and the rest of the world doesn't exist, I know I'm the real winner here. Right now, I'm truly blessed.

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Monday, 24 January 2011

What Does Your Biz Need To Grow?

This is an audience participation blog post. :) What would you like to learn more about in order to grow?

I am planning another RocketPlace event that will take place in March or April. February is now too soon. It will be 2 days of webinars with experts. So to line up the experts and topics, I need to hear from you... for 2011 and beyond, with what do you need help? Where are your pain points? How would you like to expand?

I've already received requests for topics on more efficient shipping as well as the "reality" of what you can expect from using social media. As always, we'll cover eBay strategies, listing and Store design, how to create your own eCommerce store, SEO, and even SEO on eBay.We'll also look at shopping from mobile devices.

I want to hear from new and veteran sellers so that I can cover the topics you are wondering about. Please respond here, post your request to our Facebook page, or send in our form at http://www.aswas.com if you want to keep your suggestion private.

Thanks!

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Monday, 10 January 2011

Could You Have Stopped Saturday's Shooting?

As the information surfaced this weekend about the kid who shot up the Safeway near where I've lived in Tucson since early 2005, one thing occurred to me.

This didn't have to happen.

Every piece of info they found about this guy told me that someone should have connected the dots. His "friends" said over the last few years, he was crazy, nonsensical, and radical. He wrote his own manifesto. I don't know anybody who has showed me his own manifesto. If anyone ever does, I will probably go straight to police with it.

We also found out that his local community college threw him out, suggesting that he not return until he can bring documents proving he is sane. The army rejected him, and I'm thinking that it was NOT because he had high blood pressure.

I want to know if a gun store sold him a gun. I want to know why there isn't some sort of database that would tell a gun shop that this guy was rejected by the army for non-physical reasons, and he was thrown out of college for mental case reasons. This may be someone we don't want to have a gun. And if a "friend" bought him the gun, that friend should be held responsible.

If you know someone who is not OK, and especially someone who is not interested in getting help because he's sure he's right and just fine, start a paperwork trail. Report something to SOMEBODY. It's amazing how nearly every time we go through these tragedies, enough info is released that makes it clear that if someone's "friends" had reported what they knew and saw, this could have been avoided.

I couldn't have stopped Saturday's shooting, and I'm glad I wasn't there. I was having tea with a friend, and then pizza with a guy I met on a dating website. :) But somebody could have stopped Saturday's shooting. Where are this kid's parents? Did nobody notice the things he was posting on the internet?

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Monday, 06 December 2010

The Difference Between Awareness And Action

I continue to be surprised by efforts focusing on the "awareness" of a disease or issue. I often hear something saying it's about "breast cancer awareness." Raise your hand if reading this blog is the first time you heard about breast cancer. We're all aware of it, but what is any of us DOING about it?

All the pink ribbons on Facebook profiles make little difference if people aren't doing anything about it. The main thing you can do is donate money to causes that will promote research, treatments, and cures. Causes that help the loved ones who survive when the patient does not. Volunteering your time with patients and families. There is SO much you can do. Wearing a ribbon just isn't enough.

My car has a ribbon magnet on it. It's for donating your organs. I hope you will see it, and decide to donate your organs. Other than that, you have probably heard about organ donation. It's not about "awareness."

This week, they are saying that you should change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood for child abuse awareness. I'm not bothering because the sad truth is that all the cartoon Facebook profile pictures out there are not helping ONE child UNLESS you are ALSO doing something else. The profile picture does NOTHING. Where is the ACTION that will really help a child?

When these Facebook memes come around, think about action. Posting something to your profile once about "special needs children" or changing your profile picture helped zero children. You want to help children? Do it. Make a donation. Volunteer. Talk to a child you think is being hurt. Get them help. Get them to safety.

I take this rather personally because there is a sentence a relative said to me once about my childhood, and it will stick with me forever. She said, "We saw some things we couldn't make sense of, but we didn't think it was our place to say anything." So let me just assure you that all the changed Facebook profile pictures in the world wouldn't have made a day of my childhood different. You know what would have? Someone who saw something saying and doing something.

Go DO something.

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Thursday, 25 November 2010

I'm Thankful For...

It's Thanksgiving. I'd like to take a moment to give thanks.

First, thanks to my nuclear (biological) family: Grandma Lee, Uncle Jay, and Aunt Linda. You don't read my blog, but I love you guys. :)

Thanks to my "adopted" family: Terry and Mark, Linda N., and Eli and Margery.

Thanks to my closest, bestest friends on the planet: Mike, Katie, Jeff, Ana, Bryan, Joe, Seth, Mickey the Cat, and Eve the Cat. They evidently don't read my blog either. Special thanks to Bryan for embarking on another secret project with me. :)

Thanks to two who are no longer on this plane of existence, but are with me all the time: Rita the dog and Grandpa Abe.

Thanks to all of my Facebook friends. I only friend people who I trust and am friends with. Facebook is a personal world for me, and thanks to everybody there for being wonderful. I greatly appreciate the support!

Thanks to the great clients I love working with. Thanks to my AMAZING staff, who make our clients super happy.

Thanks to all my blog readers, lurkers, and non-spam commenters... even if you disagreed with me.

Thanks to the companies who think they compete with me for making me look even better, in comparison. :)

Thanks to La Botana in Tucson for being the most delicious place to eat.

Thanks to The Eco Chic Boutique for having amazing products.

My life is amazing, and it's like it's just starting again.

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Signs Your Relationship Isn't What You Think It Is

So yes, I realise I need to break my relationship blog posts into a new blog. Working on that. For now, they're here since people seem to like them. :)

I read another great blog post over at Baggage Reclaim. She's looking at 12 boundaries to live by. I read them, and thought about how they are also great ways to assess a relationship you may already be in. Here are my takes on some of her points.

Her first point is that nobody should date someone who is married, in a relationship, or newly separated. I've mentioned before that I've been on all sides of this one, and ya know what? It's never good. It never works. I started dating someone just before I left my husband in 2002. That means that new boyfriend was dating me while I was married AND newly separated. And he was pining over an ex-girlfriend. We were both emotionally unavailable, but didn't realise it. Yes, I'm glad he was the catalyst for me getting out of that bad marriage that was never going to be the right marriage, but we were doomed for so many reasons. My main tip: don't date the emotionally unavailable no matter what their relationship status is.

Her second point was that nobody should wait for someone to become the person you think they should be. I hear that SO MUCH from my married friends... things like, "Well, he'd be right if he were this and this, and like this." Or, "I'd want to stay with her if she did this, and felt this way about this, and treated me this way." Well, heads up: they're not that person. Why are you waiting for someone to be someone they're not? Would you want someone else waiting and holding out expectations about you magically becoming someone you're not? When my friends read me the list of what they want their husband or wife to be, I tell them to just leave them. Don't expect someone to twist into a pretzel to become what you want. That's not who they are at their core. Evidently, who they truly are is someone you don't really want. So just go!

Her third point is about not being in a relationship where you're not treated with love, trust, and respect. I know from past relationships that once you feel the love has died, or once the trust is broken, there is NEVER any going back. NEVER. You can smooth it over, you can play nice, you can get counselling, you can "try," but you will second guess each other forever. Like when will he break trust again, or when will she make me feel unloved again.

I have a friend who kissed another woman, and eventually admitted it to his wife. He is now on the shortest leash known to man, and even though it's years later and he hasn't done anything like it again, she doesn't totally trust him. I do NOT suggest staying in relationships where love once felt dead or trust has been broken. I've never seen or heard of any of those 100% truly being fixed.

Her fourth point is about not dating someone who mostly talks glowingly about the future. How good a relationship is is how good it is today. Right now. Not when his dreamy future scenarios happen, if they happen. You can't stick around waiting for what might come down the road. You only have this moment, and when you look at him or her, what does your heart say RIGHT NOW? Greatest love of your life? Most amazing guy who treats you like freaking gold? Beautiful woman who is everything you ever wanted?

Her fifth point is about dating someone who wants to control things, or wants the relationship on his terms. Like the guy with the list you have to match up to... whether or not that list is actually written down. The "right" relationship will be right. Nobody else will have a to-do list for you. Nobody else will need you to change. There is a right person for you who won't need you to change for him, or live up to his list of needs.

Her eighth point is about not dating someone who lies to you or distorts the truth. That seems obvious, yet so many of us stick around with people who have lied to us in big ways. I know I have! And it doesn't make sense to stick around once you KNOW about the lies. I deserve better. I deserve someone who can be completely honest with me. That will make me feel respected, and it will match the complete honesty I give him.

Her ninth point is about not pursuing someone who has rejected you. I think this is still my Achilles Heel. I call it "campaigning," where someone pulls away from you (or rejects you), and you ramp up your fantasticness in ways you know he would want... more sex, more sex his way, more cooking, more cleaning, more whatever it is. Why are we doing that? Why try to keep around someone who has made it clear that he doesn't want us or that he wanted someone else? I wouldn't even want a guy who's dating me, but fantasising about other women since that would make me think he's not present with me and fully wanting ME. The right person will choose you and only you, and I'm getting better at disconnecting from the guys who are not choosing me.

Her tenth point is about not playing nurse to "the walking wounded," including people with substance problems. Another Achilles Heel for me. As a "rescuer" type of personality, I tend to attract the "victim," who wants my help. My last serious boyfriend was an alcoholic and addict, who asked for my help what felt like daily. When I gave him the help he asked for, I was an enabler. When I told him I didn't cause his problems and don't have the power to fix them, I enabled the "not getting his fix" side. Whether the addiction is food, sex, alcohol, drugs, or something else, we can't help these people. We just can't, and we need to stop losing ourselves in a dizzying maze of trying to help them with their own psychological issues.

Besides, the right guy for me is on the same page as I am, and I'm not a current, former, or future addict.

Her blog posts are excellent, and I suggest that everybody read the Baggage Reclaim blog. While it's written towards women dating crappy men, the advice is absolutely helpful for any gender dating any gender.

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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Picking On People Is Harmless Fun, Right?

I know people who are nasty. I'd say they are bullies. I've seen them pick on people. I've seen them find something someone is sensitive about, and focus on it. Or share someone else's secret. And in many cases, these people laughed while they did this. Often, they're looking around to find approval and see if others will laugh with them.

So thing one, never laugh with them. Thing 2, call them on that crap.

I've been watching some of the videos from the It Gets Better Project, where LGBT people talk about the bullying they experienced growing up. The thing that amazes me is how many of those people look visibly upset telling their stories. These are people who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s... they haven't been bullied at school in DECADES... and they are STILL hurting from the memories of it.

I was bullied in school, but not for being gay (mostly because I'm not gay :) ). I was bullied usually for being the smart "know it all" kid, and sometimes for being the artsy-fartsy weirdo. My mother put me down frequently (mostly for being the artsy fartsy weirdo), and my father was as good as absent. I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I fantastised about suicide often. I was sure it was the only was to solve my problems.

I never tried to kill myself, and I think that was only because I had a close friend who tried to kill herself when we were teens. That hurt so much, and she never really told me why she did it. So, I focused on going to college in another state, and starting my life over when I got there... which I did. Somehow, I had my head on straight enough to NOT turn to drugs, promiscuity, or other self-destructive behaviours.

And if you are or have a teenager in a world of pain, you can start your life over too. Go to college out of state. Parents, get your bullied kids to liberal colleges out of state. That's my advice!

Words can hurt. Words can ruin someone's life. Think before putting someone down. If you hear your child belittle another kid, put a stop to it. Teach them that's not acceptable. The people who hurt me were someone's children, and somewhere, they learned that this is how you talk to someone... or this is how you feel better about yourself.

The cycle has to stop. Picking on people is NEVER harmless fun... not for the recipient of the comments, and not for the true intentions of the speaker.

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Are Pay-Per-Bid Sites A Scam?

There seems to be a flock of new "auction" or "reverse auction" sites out there. Many people wonder if these are scams. We've all seen ads for $56 iPads and $72 week-long vacations that people won at these new auction sites. Let's use OffAndAway.com as an example since I recently stumbled on it, and let's also compare these to eBay since many of us know what eBay is, and how to use it.

For OffAndAway (OAA to save typing), you have to BUY bids. On eBay, bidding is free. OAA charges $1 per bid.

OOA doesn't let you bid a maximum amount like on eBay. Every bid on OAA raises the price by a fixed amount, which is 10 cents. That means when the winning price of the item goes up $1, OAA collected $10 in bids from various people. On OAA, something that ends at $400 started at nothing, and went up 10 cents at a time.

eBay auctions have firm ending times. OAA auctions are extended 20 seconds every time someone bids. If someone bids with 1 second left, there is now 21 seconds on the countdown clock. This makes auctions go on for HOURS past their originally-stated end time.

For both styles of auction, you can lose by a very small amount. It can be frustrating! If only you got in one more bid! :)

So are pay-per-bid sites like OAA a scam? Not if you completely understand what you're getting into. OAA is more like a raffle or casino game. You might buy raffle tickets, you might put money in a slot machine, and you might never win. Same for OAA. You might put in a zillion bids at $1 each, and you might still lose. You might bid on eBay and not win, but at least that cost you nothing.

When playing with pay-per-bid sites, remember to count what you're spending on bids in your budget. If you won something for $100 but spent $100 in bids, that was a $200 item. So be a smart shopper!

I do find the business model interesting. Let's say that a hotel is willing to give away a few-night stay, and let's say they make a deal to sell it to OAA for $500. OAA lets everybody bid and fight. Many of these hotel packages are ending around $300. At $1 per bid, that's $3,000 OAA collected from bidders who played the game. That easily gives the hotel the $500 they want for the stay, OAA pockets a pile of money, and the winner is thrilled to pay $300 for a hotel stay that might be worth $1000.

I think we will continue seeing more of these sites, but the funny thing is that I think they only really "work" for buyers while the sites are new. Once prices are being bid up to market rates, or once people get tired of the 20-second extension and the price per bid, then the site will drop off. Plus, who would tell friends about this? They don't want to bid against friends! I think this is why we see so many of these come and then go. I wonder if anybody will ever create such a site that really finds its sweet spot.

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Friday, 19 November 2010

MLM: A Psychological Study

 

A few months ago, a client came to me wanting to tell me about a great business opportunity that was just going to make me so much money. He was sure it would make me $20,000 per month. Well, sure, I'd like that. I emailed him asking him to tell me more. He started sending me to websites that had videos. All the videos were REALLY long, and revolved mostly around three things:

  1. You're not spending enough time with your kids. You're not getting the things you really want... that vacation, those nice things, some time on a yacht. This is to prime your desire, and get you motivated to jump on what they offer as the solution to fill that desire.
  2. Questions and statements that challenged me to be "good enough" to be part of this.
  3. How I get paid for levels and levels of people. If you know MLM, you know the more people you bring in, and especially when you bring in people who sell the product, you get cuts of it. Whatever! 

But let's back up and look at #2. I think I have now watched close to an HOUR of videos this guy's MLM company has produced to try to get people into this idea. Here are some great phrases from the most recent video he sent me:

  • "This is not for everyone. Some people can't really grasp the idea of freedom... of owning their own time." Puts you on the defensive. Of course you understand freedom and the value of your time! You wish everyone else did! You are fired up.
  • "[Some people can't really grasp the idea of] being free from the stresses and frustrations of ordinary people." Well, you are special. You do NOT want to be lumped in with ordinary people! You are extraordinary! No, she is NOT talking about you! Fired up.
  • "Other people simply aren't willing to take action, to take responsibility, and to take steps to get what they say they really want." Hey, don't say that about me! I take action. I follow through. I work REALLY hard! I WILL take steps to get what I want! Fired up.
  • "You are here because you're ready for a change. You're sick and tired of wanting and not getting." This is the "we understand you are different and better" part. Yes, I'm ready for a change... I want so much I'm not getting. This is the "we feel your pain" part to make you feel connected to what they are about to say.
  • And let's not forget the images in the videos and on the web pages... the yachts, the vacations and landscapes, the nice cars, the huge houses, the happy families. Those are all chosen very deliberately to make you think you can have this because other people have it, and you deserve to have it too! Well, you DO deserve to have it, but the road to that is not through this MLM system.

I had over a dozen emails with this client plus a phone call because I couldn't tell what this business was. What am I selling? What is this product that is so amazing that I'm going to make all this money? He kept telling me that the product was the business opportunity. That doesn't make total sense to me. I am an entrepreneur, and I live in a world where a product or service has to be for sale.

I finally had to talk to the top of the pyramid, who explained to me that it was a travel concierge service. That's what is for sale. In this economy? Really? When we're all booking with Kayak and Orbitz, you think there is a lot of people who would pay $$$$ for a travel concierge service? I thought the people with that much spare money already HAD one... it's called a travel agent.

I ran an informal poll of my Facebook friends. None of them would buy it. That's what I thought. And don't forget you're going to pay monthly to be part of this pyramid. But I noticed that both my client and the top cheese made me feel like there was something wrong with me for not seeing what an amazing opportunity this was. They told me they had NO problem signing many people up every day for this, and they were raking in money like mad. Everybody involved in it was raking in money, and I seem like I'd be smart enough to get this, but I'm just going to miss out. That was the message.

They just contacted me again to show me their next product. It was hard to figure out what this product was, but it seems to be some sort of training kit (like CDs, books, I'm not totally sure) that was going to teach you to run an online business. You would learn things like time management, information mining, running online ads, etc... So their target audience is that really smart person with sharp business skills... who needs this course?

The bottom line is this. Some MLM systems have nice products that people like, and the focus is not as much on the pyramid. I have bought Arbonne products and liked them. I never felt like I had to or wanted to join the pyramid. Many MLM systems play on fears... fears about money, not giving your family enough love, not giving your family enough PERIOD, not having those nice things other people have right now.

The video I just watched had MINUTES about how the economy is so much better than people say. After all, drive by a shopping centre! Cars are parked there! People are walking out with bags. They are spending money. Cruise lines are building new ships because people are spending money on "luxuries" like vacations. This is just more stuff to make you feel like you are not giving your family enough. You just may not have money to spend like everybody else. You'd better fix that, and these people have that fix.

Do not listen to the fear-based crap. Do not fall for all the information that will make you feel like the loser in the wolf pack. Or like you aren't keeping up with the Joneses. When you hear a video challenge if you are really "able" to grasp this, or are you really ready to make things happen for yourself, or something like that, know that they are playing with you. This is a game, and the guys at the top are typically the only winners.

It's a mind game, period. These video scripts and LONG web pages are specifically written to play into your fears and desires. Don't fall for it. No matter what the "opportunity" looks like. Don't fall for it. It's a gamble. Most gambles are NOT worth it.

Let's just think for ourselves for a moment. I know many people who try and use these MLM systems. I know some who are involved in a few at a time. If they are THAT lucrative, wouldn't you need to only do one? And wouldn't you need to do very little work because it's just going to make money for you, once you get it going? How many of us know people using MLM systems? And how many of us know those people to be RICH? Totally financially independent? With all that free time to hop from vacation to vacation, just like the video said? I know zero of these people. How many do you know?

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Who's Running Your Meetup Group?

I joined a Meetup.com group for eBay sellers. It was run by a dude from a company that we don't directly compete with, but some may think is a competitor. OK, no problem yet. He welcomed me in. Thanks!

Yesterday, I got a mailing through Meetup from him. It was sent to all of the members. It was his guide to "Getting Noticed" on eBay. OK, let's give that a read. Oh, it has his company URL on every page. Oh, it's the middle of holiday selling (mid-November), and most sellers don't have time to change their holiday selling strategies right now. Well, let's give it a read anyway.

Sweet holy Lord, I strongly disagreed with some of the advice in there. Most importantly, it was a document about getting noticed, and it said NOTHING about Item Specifics. Right now, Item Specifics are nearly THE most important strategy to use so that your items do well in search results.The fitment database would be the equivalent for Motors sellers.

However, the guide had plenty of room for examples of their design work. In general, I'm against their style of design as I feel it works against current technology as well as the way eBay shoppers approach a listing. But then again, if any other company took my approach or had my UX/UI background, I'd have a direct competitor in the eBay world, which I don't. :)

So to sum up, the eBay Sellers meetup group is run by a vendor who would probably like every member to hire him. He sent everybody a guide with incomplete and incorrect information. I emailed him about this, and his response mostly orbited around how people like the guide. My point was that they don't know what info is missing! He told me they worked hard on it. My take: not hard enough if it's missing Item Specifics. Does this guy NOT know about Item Specifics? And he's passing himself off as an eBay expert?

Oh look. I just noticed that his company is the sponsor of the group. So they're the sponsor AND they run it.

I wasn't comfy with the whole scene, and not because a few people might think we compete. I left the Meetup group. I can just imagine every meeting, this guy plugging his company or giving wrong advice, and I'll be there correcting him or rolling my eyes. Better to spend my time somewhere else. I have run Meetup groups, and I have always chosen to NOT run the group when I might be a vendor to other members. That's my choice. Won't be everybody's.

Who is running your Meetup group? Somebody with something to sell you? How do you feel about the "subtle" sell, where the company name just happens to keep popping up on everything you see related to that group?

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Who's Running Your Meetup Group?

Oops! Double posted. Please see http://aswas.typepad.com/hall_of_fame/2010/11/whos-running-your-meetup-group-1.html  Sorry!

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Friday, 05 November 2010

Measuring Dog Years

In the wake of the passing of my dog, I had a session with my therapist yesterday. I talked about how hard the decision was, and how some people seemed to feel that I hadn't waited long enough to choose euthanasia.

The dog had been unwell and unhappy for 2-3 months. She had no diagnosis and no course of treatment, which meant no hope for improvement. The only thing the vet could say for sure was that her kidneys were slowing down. While the dog still had a spark of life to her, I couldn't stand watching her decline. I thought about her problems, and asked myself how I would feel if I had those every day for 2-3 months. I'd be miserable after a DAY with the symptoms she had.

The therapist pointed out something I hadn't considered. For those of you struggling with the pet end-of-life decision, I hope this will help you. The therapist reminded me that 2 dog months is a human year. So imagine having those health problems for a YEAR. Well, when you put it that way...

I also think I was "lucky" to know my dog as well as I did. I work from home, so I could watch her all day. I knew every symptom and wart, and I could tell if anything were 1 millimetre worse. If I judged her health and pain by the "big greeting" I might get if I come home after being at work all day, I wouldn't have seen the reality of what she seemed to struggle with all day. I can imagine someone who is not home all day thinking this animal was pretty fine, and letting this go on for months or years.

Some of my friends made it sound like it was too soon. She had a spark of life. She was still eating. She could get up and move around. She wasn't crying all day. Personally, I think if I saw an animal not eating, not moving, with no life, I would say it was too far gone. I could never bear to look at my beloved kid, and see palpable pain. Don't listen to people who say you have to wait until your dog looks a lot like death. If you are looking to keep an animal from suffering, an animal that close to death has probably been suffering a while.

Thanks to Facebook friends who came out and said yes, they've had to do this, and their main regret was waiting too long. It's a very hard decision. No time seems like the right time to end a pet's life. I don't struggle with the decision anymore, but I struggle with her loss.

It's full-day one without her. I miss her. The house is so quiet, and how alone I am seems really obvious. I keep wanting to sing to her, or ask her to clean my plate. I know it'll get better with time. For those of you struggling with this decision, I hope some of my difficult decision will help you.

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Thursday, 04 November 2010

Rita Levitt, 12 Dec 1997 - 4 Nov 2010

That picture of her is at age 2 months. That's one of her shoes, her very first and fave toy ("Little Stuffed Puppy"), and her collar and tag. I am not keeping a body or ashes.

The vet was fantastic, my friend Margery was an amazing rock and support, and Mickey the cat came too. He's now sitting at home in the spot she laid in in the last two days. His tail is down.

I will love her and miss her forever. I am grateful to her for every moment we had. She changed my life for the better every day. For As Was fans, she will live on forever as the cartoon character on the website. :)

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Monday, 01 November 2010

My Dog, Rita

I know I said it would be personal radio silence, but I'm dealing with something really tough, and my blog pals have really been there for me over the years. Thanks, blog pals...

I'm having a really hard day. I am getting closer to the decision to have to put my dog down. I can't stop crying. It's difficult, and no choice feels fantastic.

Rita is nearly 13 years old, and I've had her since she's 7 weeks old. She is the Jack Russell in pictures with me. Heck, she's even a cartoon mascot on the As Was website (and will always be, if up to me!). She's been the only consistent element in my life, and certainly nicer than the guys I dated. :)

She's a freaking genius with a great command of language, and a real sense of humour. She thinks she is a cat, and loves cats. She hates dogs, and will attack dogs, so I've spent 12+ years apologising to neighbours. This is from 2007, and no, I didn't train her to do this. She was doing it, so I gave it a name. She learned the name.

In 2008, Rita started having pee accidents, mostly in the kitchen. I figured she just wasn't getting used to the new house, or still hated the guy I was living with. She was slightly better in 2009, and I didn't see other symptoms, so I didn't think much of it. But a few months ago (from when I'm writing this), the pee thing got out of control when she started having pee accidents in her sleep. This lead to a bunch of vet visits, including an emergency one my house sitter had to do while I was on a business trip.

What has unfolded since has been a bunch of health problems, all unrelated, and some that have nothing to do with pee or kidneys. I'm also seeing cognitive issues as well as balance issues... in the smartest, sturdiest little hunting dog ever... it's just not like her. Our vet is out of good ideas. His two most recent ideas were 1) to run every test for every disease, just to rule every disease out, and 2) send her for a catscan because maybe all the seemingly unrelated problems could be a brain issue. He ran urine and blood tests, and they only showed that her kidneys are slowing down. No disease or infection (yet). Some of the tests he wants to run are $300 each, let alone what any treatment might cost.

I decided after he told me that that whatever are her last months should not be full of tests, meds, poking, prodding, treatments, or surgeries. I just want her to be happy and feel as good as she can. I'm not sure how good she feels. She looks pretty unhappy most of the day with some sparky moments. She goes from sleeping to me rushing her outside to pee before she pees inside back to sleeping. On my last trip, my house sitter told me she was thinking of setting an alarm every 2 hours (at night) so she can wake up and take the dog outside (so she doesn't pee in the apartment). I feel like I spend a lot of my day looking for a mess, wondering if there is a mess, smelling a mess, cleaning a mess, and trying to avoid a mess.

The next thing in my life is a big move (stressful) and some changes to my career. I work from home now, so I've been able to do the 24-hr care cycle. I think it would be worse if I were gone all day (and she's home, scared, going in the apartment), and it's likely that my career changes will have me gone a lot. We've been sitting next to each other all day, every day since February 1998. She falls apart when I'm not there (which is why I have a house sitter that stays overnight rather than just a dog walker when I'm gone). So I don't think my next move is NOT going to go well for a weak and sick dog who gets depressed when I'm not there.

I thought about giving her to some friends who love her, but that made no sense. It doesn't seem right to give someone a sick and elderly pet who needs nearly 24-hr care, and is only going to have increased problems and vet bills. That's not really a companion. If they made dog assisted living, that would be the right place for her!

Even though she still has a bit of a spark, I'm thinking the quality of life isn't there. It's now a 24-hr cycle of care between the pee, and unfortunately also throwing up and diarrhea... a lot of that IN my apartment, even with me taking her out every 2 hours. :( I'm patient, and I'm not mad at her. I know this is the best she can do right now. But with the vet having no clue, and there being no treatment other than stabbing at catscans, I think it may be her time.

I plan to give her the best few weeks ever. I got her a burger at Carl's Jr today. :) I just want her to be happy, and seeing her decline has been beyond heartbreaking. I have no idea how much discomfort or pain she's in, and I know I do not want to see the day when I can read palpable pain on her face. I wouldn't be able to handle that... I don't think I could deal with the idea that I kept my dog alive to the point where she's in agony. It's hard enough to see her with all the symptoms she has now, physical and cognitive. I'm not sure I could bear to see her get worse... hence the decision I'm coming to.

I also have 2 cats. Mickey grew up with Rita, and he's now 11 years old. Eve is nearly 10 years old, and I got her in January 2010. So I'm not alone, but that doesn't make this easier. It just means I'll have to do through this at least 2 more times... and it's agonising. I'm barely making it through my day. One of my best friends has human hospice training, and is really helping me out. She's making the call I can't make right now.

Thanks to anybody who writes in with support. Everybody else can keep his or her lack of support to himself or herself.

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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Blog Lockdown

Apologies to fans of this blog, but I have to spend the next unknown amount of time not posting about anything that is personal. You won't know when or if I've moved. You won't know where. You won't know what I'm dating. :) I have to have radio silence for a little while.

I am involved in a legal battle with an ex-boyfriend... the kind of guy who will use any small thing he can find out against you. I thought we had reached a deal that gave us what we both wanted, but I just learned that he broke that deal, and has declared all-out war on me. He will lose, and have nobody to blame but himself and how efficient he is with self-sabotage.

But for now, I have to protect myself. I am also blocking from my Facebook wall any people who might know him and be in touch with him at all in any way. If he wants war, then I'm turning off my 24-hr news cycle, and giving him no info. He doesn't deserve that level of trust.

While I thought he and I had a deal, I was comfy being public about my life. I should have known better. I should have known he would break the deal, and start on a truly irrational path of trying to "win" or have some sort of weird power over me. Based on what our legal issue is about, and how we're in zero disagreement over it, I can only assume this is about power... feeling like he won this his way and on his terms. I guess doing this on mutually-agreed terms was too damaging to his fragile psyche.

Once this matter is settled, I may be open to sharing the wacky and fun adventures of my life. Thanks to those who enjoy reading it. I hope to be back to our regularly-scheduled wackiness ASAP. :)

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Monday, 25 October 2010

The Math of Birthday Sex

OK, I got your attention with that one.

Something I've been doing for a laugh is taking people's birthdays, working roughly 9 months backwards, and trying to figure out... ahem... how they got here.

Time after time, I find that when I do that counting backwards, I get to one of the parents' birthdays. I'll start by embarrassing myself. My birthday is early February. Count 40 weeks earlier, and you get early May. My father's birthday is 22 May. Since not every pregnancy is exactly 40 weeks, I'm going to go ahead and call that birthday sex.

One of my clients was telling me his son's birthday was this past weekend. I know his birthday is at the end of January. There's about 9 months between those two dates. :) I hadn't said anything to him, of course.

All those birthdays around the first week of October? New Years Eve sex.

Go ahead and laugh... http://www.timeanddate.com/date/dateadd.html

http://brassflowers.com/?themedemo=sunrise

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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Facebook Changes Photo Memories, But Not Nearly Enough

Remember my blog post about Facebook's then-new Photo Memories feature? Evidently, my complaints about the feature were different than most people's complaints.

It appears that most people hated it because Facebook was showing them pictures of their ex. Facebook just announced that Photo Memories will now NOT show a picture of anybody who you were previously in a relationship with... according to Facebook. I have been dating people for the last 1.5 years, and have not put any of them by name as my relationship in Facebook. So Facebook has no idea who I've been dating.

Facebook needs to tweak their algorithm a different way. Let's say I'm dating a guy, and I've marked Facebook as in a relatioship with him (by name). Let's say before him, I was dating Mr X, and let's say FB knew I was "in a relationship with Mr X" for some period of time. Maybe we stayed friends, maybe we didn't, but let's say I still have FB pictures up of him or the two of us, and he's tagged.

In this case, Facebook should not show my current boyfriend any pictures that have Mr X tagged in them. I know Facebook will want to show him pictures of me, but FB should eliminate any pictures of me when there is a guy tagged in the photo who FB knows I dated (or was married to!).

Having un-friended ex-boyfriends on FB after breaking up, I can tell you that I do NOT get pictures of anybody who is not my FB friend right now. I also do not get pictures of anybody who IS my friend, but I have hidden them from my news feed.

As with many relationships, the best disconnection is total disconnection. :) If it bothers you to see pictures of your ex, why are you still FB friends with that person... reading his/her updates? Posting or commenting with him/her? Either you stayed friends, and you're OK with that person "in your space," or you didn't stay friends, and you don't even want tiny pictures rotated on your Facebook page.

Facebook, my suggestion is to re-tweak the algorithm to not show someone I am in a relationship with pictures of me with someone I used to be in a relationship with. Facebook would have better data on who I dated if it allowed me to mark myself as "In A Relationship" with [name] but to NOT show the name. My status would say "In A Relationship," Facebook would know with whom, but I wouldn't have it out there as public. I tend to want to keep who I'm dating quiet until it's been going well like a year. :)

Hopefully Facebook Photos Project Manager Sam Odio has a Google alert set up for his name, and will consider my suggestion. :)

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Monday, 18 October 2010

A Third Online Dating Profile

I recently blogged about how I basically NEVER see online dating profiles that make me want to meet someone. I referenced two profiles I'd ever seen that made me want to meet someone.

I spoke too soon. I found a third. I'm excited to meet this guy. On paper, he reads like someone I'd really like to date. In real life, no idea... haven't met him yet. But it was fun to be reading a profile I felt like I wrote... so much in common.

He lives in the Bay Area, which is not really a problem as I am working on moving back to the Bay Area. Yes, you read that right. I'm planning to move again. For biz reasons, I should be there. And as I think I'm more likely to find guys who are like me there, that'll be good too. Would be nice to date someone who is local to me (for a change).

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Wednesday, 06 October 2010

Dating Profiles Make Me Want To Meet Nobody

I've read lots of online dating profiles. Two have made me want to really meet the guy. I mean really excited, and like I really HAD to meet this guy. One guy never wrote me back. The other I did get to date for a month or so, and then it fell apart. People who read my Facebook will remember him as "Mr DJ."

I've been thinking about what the dating profiles might look like for the people I did date, love, live with, try to make a life with. Now, admittedly, these people were not the right match for me. But I imagine what their dating profile would look like...

Divorced former corrections officer with two teen girls. Likes smoking cigarettes, getting tattoos, playing drums on everything, and avoiding eye contact during imtimacy.

Hmmmm.

Possibly gay massage therapist seeks woman who won't notice. Woman must not mind me quitting my job and not working, along with my wild spending habits. Enjoys being the leader of a large group of bigger misfits, loves the Mets, and has an anger management problem.

Hmmmm, not so much.

Western European alcoholic... ok I'll stop that one there. That's PLENTY.

OK so I'm taking the piss. But even if I tried to write serious ones for these people based on the good qualities I saw early on, and remember the times I was really into them, I would think that a dating profile version of them would have turned me off. So how do you find that person in online dating... or don't you?

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Monday, 04 October 2010

Long Distance Relationships

I've got relationships on my mind again, having broken up with my boyfriend. Sorry that some recent posts will be on relationships. I hope others can learn from what I go through!

For the last year, I've been saying I wanted my next boyfriend to live far away. That would give me time to do my work, and it would force things to move slowly. Heard me say that? Well, I heard me say that a zillion billion times.

I've had long distance relationships. Loved a guy on the other side of the world in 1994. A few years ago, I dated a guy who lived in another country. We kept it together mostly with Skype video calls just about every day. We also had a lot of travel and visits over the 2 years our relationship was long distance. I remember times when I missed him greatly, and I remember wishing we could be together more. I remember times when I was glad to have my space and time to myself. I remember times when I was glad to be taking him to the airport. But for some messed up reason that I understand now, I thought that was love, and stuck with the relationship. We eventually moved in together, and it fell apart pretty much instantly. And I still stuck around trying. Oh well. At least that's in the past, and hope I've learned a lot.

Looking back at these things, I noticed one main thing. My space and time were more important to me. There were many times when I was glad to have my day to myself, my apartment to myself, my time to myself. I was glad he wasn't there, looking for me to finish work and do something with him. I love working. I'll probably always be a workaholic out of the passion I have for what I do. Looking back and trying to make sense out of why I felt that way, I can only come to the conclusion that work was a more passionate and rewarding experience than he was, so it was often (but not always) prioritised higher. Note to self, if I do that again, break up with that guy.

I have a fresh perspective now. I want to be dating someone local to me. I want to adjust my schedule to spend time with him. I should work less and have more fun. :) I have lived for so long without love (the way I'd define it) that I can no longer think of a reason to do a lot of waiting and have love so far away. If something feels that good, I want to be in it every day, not have it far away. If time with a guy feels better than my work, well then that is new and exciting. :)

I now realise the only reason my long distance relationships were "OK" was because there wasn't really that great a connection between us. I thought it was better/more than it was. So my new theory is that if a long distance relationship is just fine, the relationship may not be what you think it is. I wish I'd realised that a few years ago. :)

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Potential Of A Relationship

A friend turned me on to an interesting blog at http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk. It seems to be written from the point of view of a woman, so if you're a guy, just switch some nouns and pronouns. I think it's got some good ideas and advice about relationships.

The best quote I noticed so far was this (that I made gender neutral):

Potential is something that should be derived from the promise of actual actions that have already occurred, not the blinkered fairy tale in your head. Potential is about the potential of the relationship, NOT the potential of what the guy could be if only x, y, and z were to occur.

That's something I wish I could drive home to just about every adult I know. I'm guilty of this myself. I know in past relationships, I've thought that the relationship will be PERFECT when he cleans up those addictions or changes how he wants sex or communicates with me better or sees things more positively or blah blah blah.

I understand now that I was in love with the potential of the person to be someone he wasn't. In each moment, we are the people we are. We may want to make changes to ourselves, but unless we make changes, this is who we are! Few people truly make changes, so this is who we are. :) I'm not the person I plan to be until I am that person. Does that make sense? Well the same is true for the guys I've dated. They may have WANTED to be less angry or less depressive or different in some other way. But the guys I dated never made the changes they claimed to want, at least not while I was around.

So to all of you looking at trying to fix a relationship, or entering a new relationship. This is mostly likely to work if you truly love this person AS IS. If you are making a mental or out-loud list of all the ways you wish this person were different, especially some core and personality differences, then you are just not the right match. The right match for you is the person who doesn't need to change (for you). Nobody should have to change for you. They should be allowed to be who they are.

The right match for you is the person you don't want to change. That's because the right match is the right match, period, full stop. I agree with this blog. The potential should only be based in the moment, not on the possible future. If you are thinking that this relationship would be GREAT if only she wanted sex more, cuddled more, showed you love in more ways, etc..., then you are not judging your relationship by its true potential. You are extrapolating it out to what it might be IF those things all happened.

Stop wasting time and fooling yourself and others. That's how I feel about that! I know I will be working harder to make sure I am only dating guys I don't want to change. The right guy won't need any changes. That's what makes him right.

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Monday, 27 September 2010

eBay's New Duplicate Listing Rule

http://announcements.ebay.com/2010/09/new-policy-to-improve-search-for-buyers-and-boost-exposure-for-sellers/

Just when you thought there were no more hoops to jump through in 2010, there are. As of 26 October 2010, eBay is going to judge your listings to try to figure out which are duplicates. They will remove dupes, credit you, but possibly flag your account if they think you are whipping up trouble. So you need to pay attention to this.

What can you do?

I have not spoken to anybody about this policy, so I do not know the finer details, but here are some of my suggestions:

  • Make sure your titles reflect what this item is.
  • Use item specifics and custom item specifics to get all RELEVANT keywords into an item. You don't have to pack your title with words anymore. eBay searches will check item specifics. But do not keyword spam!
  • Use multi-sku variations wherever possible.
  • When items are different, name your item images something different. I have no data on this, but I'd guess that one way eBay would try to determine if the item is the same would be by checking the names of your images.

Remember that this does NOT apply to auctions, nor would it apply to similar items that are in different conditions. So if you have one cookie jar that's new and the same one that's used and a bit scratched up, eBay will determine that they are not the same thing.

This is really more for the sellers we ALL know who for years have just flooded eBay with the same listing over and over. I have been telling sellers for a long time to NOT do that... you don't have to. The best strategy is to have one fixed price, multiple quantity item, and work on making that perform really well in Best Match.

Remember that eBay is also watching how many times your item is seen in search results compared to how many times someone buys it. That means you need your listing to do the best job possible in making the sale. If you need any help from us, or want a template designed, let us know at www.aswas.com.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Open Job: Bench Jeweler in North Carolina (please share/RT)

It takes a village, so please share this as much as you can. Ripple it out to everybody you know so that we can get this job filled.

One of my clients is a very busy jeweler in Franklin, NC. He's often on the eBay Daily Deal, and he makes every piece by hand from his molds. He needs a bench jeweler ASAP. If you are anywhere in the area, and looking for work, please contact him by turning the following into a real email address:

sylvarocks AT aol DOT com

Again, please retweet this, post to Facebook, put this everywhere. There has to be someone who fits this and is near his location. Let's make this happen! Thanks for your help.

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Friday, 17 September 2010

What If Meg's $120M+ Governorship Purchase Were Spent Directly On Californians?

I just read a report that Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO, has spent over $120 MILLION on her campaign for governor of California. $120 MILLION. They said this was the most personal money ever spent by a candidate in any race.

She's going about it all wrong.

What if she had spent $100 MILLION creating jobs, bolstering school districts' budgets, feeding hungry people, paying off mortgages of people in trouble, and rebuilding areas hurt by wildfires and other disasters.

I mean like literally. Give money to businesses so they can hire. Give money to school districts that can't retain teachers. Give money to towns trying to figure out if they should fire some cops or some firemen. Pay off people's mortgages. Just give and spend, throw it out there. An investment with human return. There is where I like to think I'm an innovative idea person. :)

The economic and human effect would be amazing, and the press, word-of-mouth, and everything else would be amazing. People who had their mortgages paid off might have money for Xmas gifts. More law enforcement and emergency services mean safer, happier towns. Don't wait for tax cuts... give grants to struggling businesses who have a history of success but are down in the down economy. Better teachers in better schools means a better future for better-educated kids. Better! Better everything! Not out of your tax dollars or some bailout everybody wants to fight over. Right out of Meg's pocket. She has it!

Meg could then spend $20M advertising that. Which she'd barely need because the word-of-mouth on her would be AMAZING. Oprah would probably interview her. Fox would want to talk to her. CNN. Everybody would want to talk to her. She'd make news in every state and probably around the world.

She wouldn't have to run a zillion ads promise what she WOULD do. She would already be DOING it. People would love her. They would have faith and trust. Actions speak louder than campaign promises!

I don't live in CA. I'm not voting on this. I don't know Meg's policies, and if she would be good or not for the state. But I am SURE that her money could be better spent. That's $120M down the drain, nothing to show for it other than maybe she buys her way into office.

Well, she could have bought her way into office AND changed so many people's lives in the process.

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Saturday, 11 September 2010

Keep Promises You Made To Yourself

I thought I was ready to talk about this, and I'm not. So I'll just speak generally.

Somewhere along the road, you made promises to yourself... promises to be loved, promises to get things done, promises to stay away from negative stuff. Please keep them. Don't delay. Nobody looks back and is glad they put that off or broke that promise to themselves. We're all kicking ourselves and asking where all those years went.

If you are in a relationship where you do not feel loved or you are not being loved, please get out of it. I don't care where you go next. Go somewhere comfortable to re-think everything. I have made serious mistakes that still upset me. I stayed in relationships past breaking points, past promises I made to myself that I'd go if he ever ______.

Love is a good feeling. It's about hearts singing when you talk. There is a feeling that is hard to describe, but it's the feeling when you are interacting with someone who is truly a good match to you. It's like lightning running around your body. It's like your nervous system lighting up like a pinball machine. It's a field of butterflies taking off in flight. It's a passion and connection I just can't describe. It should feel something like that.

I have new, higher standards for relationships. It might be time to create a new standard for yourself. When's the last time you thought about what love is and should be? How it should feel? How do you want to be treated? And how can this all be effortless? That's the key word. We can all twist into pretzels to try to make each other happy. But it is most honest, loving, and passionate when that good connection is effortless. The right guy for me doesn't have to say, do, not say, or not do certain things for me to be happy. Who he naturally is will just blend perfectly with who I naturally am, and we won't need rules, lists, boxes, and all that "trying."

Promise yourself to pursue those good feelings, and then do it. We're all running out of time. Life is shorter than you think, and we're not getting younger. They say, don't postpone joy. I also think people need to understand what joy is and how it feels. You will know it when you feel it, and it may not be what you've been feeling and incorrectly calling joy or love.

I can't undo the times I broke promises to myself. I wish I could because there are a few for which I can't forgive myself. But I can make the decision now to pursue positive and loving experiences that are fulfilling. The decision is nice, but then I have to do it. I have my plan, and I'm following through on it. Make your plan, write it down, and follow through on it.

Don't just promise. Act. Don't accept the promises of others. Look for action. Look for true and honest action coming from a place of love. Desperate acts coming from a place of fear are just not the same. Some parents mistake a child fearing them for "respect." Some spouses mistake acts of desperation and fear for "love." I wish everyone the clarity to know the difference. :)

For those of you who think I'm writing this blog post to JUST YOU, it's for you... and myself... and dozens of other people I know... and hundreds of strangers who were meant to find this.

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Wednesday, 01 September 2010

I'm at eBay On Location!

I'm in San Jose at eBay On Location. Are you there? Well then look for me and come say hi! Are you just in the Bay Area and miss me? Get in touch and let's get together. :)

I'm gone through Sunday night, and my schedule is packed. So if I am slower than usual to get back to you, that's because I'm not sitting at my desk. I'll catch you early next week!

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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Use Your Phone To Not Look At Your Phone

I've seen a lot of posts lately from people who want to remind others how impolite it is to keep pulling out your cell phone or messing with your phone when you're supposed to be spending quality time with someone else... like at meals, especially meals out.

We live in an instant gratification world. We knew this, but everything around us reminds me of this. When I don't answer email within a few hours, I've literally had people write back and ask if I'm still in business. Really? That's all the time you gave me? There is a Blackberry commercial where a woman talks about how if she sends you a BBM (Blackberry Message), she knows you got it, even if you don't respond... well, why didn't you respond! I guess she didn't realise not everybody wants to write her back that second.

This was my biggest problem when I had the Palm Pre from July 2009 - Nov 2009. Out of the box, it made one sound that a friend said sounded like the Law and Order thundersheety gavel thing. It took me months, but I finally noticed I was the WORST person to hang out with. Every time that phone went BONK BONK, I pulled it out because it could be anything... text mesage, email, tweet, low battery alert, voicemail. I was constantly looking at my phone. I put in some hacks that eventually gave me some more sound options, but I still had to look at the phone a LOT to know what it was trying to notify me of.

So what can we do to put the politeness and the personal connection back into the times when we should be connecting with someone sitting right there? I say that if you're not just going to turn off your phone or choose to ignore anything it could do, use your phone to not look at your phone. Huh?

I have an Android phone. Just about every app I have asks me if I want to pick a notification sound just for that app. Do that. Make each app a different sound, and make it a sound you'll remember. I edit all my sound samples so they're meaningful bits of songs rather than blips and squeaks. I've got an XTC song going off for when the twitter app sees a new mention of me. Not worth looking at while having dinner with someone. I have an app called Ringo Lite that lets me pick different text message sounds. If I'm out of town, and "Suzie Safety" by Sparks goes off, that's a text from my pet sitter... I need to look at that.

I use an app called K9 email rather than the default email. I am polling 5 accounts every minute. Each account makes a different sound. I can choose to look at the phone or not based on which account just got an email. My 5th email account is for my boyfriend. He gets his own sound. :) When K9 does rules, I'm going to make a sound just for Facebook notifications, which come into my personal email account, so that they are easier to ignore OR if I'm expecting an important reply I think will come via Facebook, maybe in that moment, that sound is important.

Most phones have features like this. Most will let you choose different tones for different apps, accounts, and people. Use that. And then create priorities. If we're out, and I'm hoping our focus is on each other, let's only look at our phones if we think the sound is something really important. Everything else can wait.

I'm old enough to remember when people didn't have cell phones. You probably remember that too... how you had to wait for someone to be at home or work to reach them. And somehow, you lived without instant contact. You probably rmember when not every had email or not everybody checked it all day. It'll be OK if someone gets back to you in hours or a day. Let's dial our craziness down a bit. :)

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Friday, 27 August 2010

Why As Was Left eBay's Certified Provider Program

Hi. I'm Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was, and I'm here to tell you that after 6 years in eBay's Certified Provider program, I have decided to not renew our membership there.

Nothing else is changing. We still focus on eBay design and strategy for sellers. We do websites, print work, marketing, etc... As Was is the same! You just won't see the CP logo next to our name anymore. No, we didn't get thrown out or asked to leave. We were asked to renew and pay for another year, and I decided not to.

I helped create the CP program back in 2004, and As Was became the first Certified Services Provider. The program offered a heap of perks and benefits, and I loved the program. I was the poster child. :) However, in the last 18 months, something has changed, and I'm not too sure what it is, but the perks and benefits just really aren't there for us anymore. It costs $3,000 per year to be a member, and I just couldn't find a reason to pay for another year when I felt I hadn't been seeing an ROI from that in about 18 months.

I am under the impression that other well-known and well-loved companies have terminated their CP memberships as well. So I'm not the only one... and remember that a lack of a CP logo doesn't mean there is anything wrong with a company or their products or services! It's pay for play, and as I'm not paying, I don't get to use the logo anymore. We still make magic happen for eBay sellers; we still have a perfect rating in the Solutions Directory, and our average client sees a 30% increase in sales after working with us.

http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?SolutionsDirectory&subgroup=20&page=details&solutionId=210

We still love eBay, and we have great relationships with many individuals and departments. We want to continue improving and enhancing everything we do relating to eBay. If the CP program ever morphed into something that offered great value to As Was, I'd love to join again. But for now, it doesn't make sense.

I'll be at eBay On Location in San Jose, and I'm speaking at PayPal's conference in October. You'll still see me everywhere. I'm not going away!

And hey, if you want us to do something for you in time for your holiday selling, we need to start right away! Please head to http://www.aswas.com and contact us!

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Last time I Was Really Impressed By Technology

I was thinking about the last time I was really amazed at technology. My Android phone comes close. But before that, when was I really wowed?

2002. I was Queen Geek and early adopter. People thought I just beamed down from Star Trek.

  • My phone was a little Sony Ericsson flip phone on the GSM network VoiceStream (later T-Mobile). 
  • I travelled to England in October 02, and my phone still worked. Paid wild roaming charges, but it was very cool to see the phone work perfectly everywhere I went. Texted my British pals to meet up with them. I'm not sure I was texting anybody else on the planet at that time.
  • I had a Palm i705 with an always-on connection to Cingular Wireless, now AT&T Mobile. The Palm picked up my email all day. I could send email. I had completely mobile email in late 2002, bitches! :)
  • I had a foldable keyboard that the Palm snapped into. That was rather cool. Faster typing than the Palm keyboard.
  • I had a Bluetooth headset because my Sony phone was Bluetooth compatible. Didn't need a dongle. People were amazed at the Bluetooth headset.

That was some cool tech... before a Treo, before a Blackberry. Before everybody needed a Bluetooth headset on their ear at dinner.

This was the last time I was really impressed by tech.

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Friday, 20 August 2010

I'm in San Diego!

If you're reading this, I'm in San Diego. Or it's the future, and I WAS in San Diego on this date.

Just letting people know I'm taking a long weekend with my best friend in San Diego. He prefers to see me be off the grid. Ha! I'll probably still put some pics on Facebook, but may not answer emails as quickly as usual.

Why am I telling you? Because I've found that when I don't answer people's emails in like an hour, even on the weekend, they call to see if I'm still in business. I'm still in business. Been in biz since 1995. Not planning to stop any time soon. It's just a long weekend. You'll be OK!

I'll be back at my desk Tuesday the 24th.

Thanks!

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Thursday, 19 August 2010

Which Makes Me Less of a Stalker?

Which makes me less of a stalker?

Checking my boyfriend's Facebook all day to see if he's said anything interesting, funny, insightful, or posted a photo?

Or...

Wishing someone had an app that notified me when he did so that I wouldn't be checking all the time like a goofy-ass girlfriend?

I'm going to pick the second. I would rather have an app that notified me. That may not be less stalking but it would save time! :)

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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Would Tax Cuts Really Help?

I keep hearing Republicans making it sound like most of our country's economic problems can be solved by tax cuts. The idea seems to be if you're paying less in taxes, you're going to take that money and pump it back into the economy... which will stimulate things, and get us out of the recession.

What I want to know is how much of a tax cut would you have to get? How much would you have to get for you to really notice you have more money in your pocket? And how much of a tax cut would you have to get for you to then run out and spend it on something you weren't currently buying?

I don't mean spending it on the mortgage or car payment... you have to make those anyway! I don't mean putting that money in savings, the kids' college fund, or just letting it sit in your account.

The idea is that tax cuts give people money to spend, and the spending is what makes things flow. So I want to know... if you paid less taxes next year, would you be spending that "extra" money on random stuff? I'm just curious what other people would do.

Me? I have some small balances on credit cards I haven't paid off yet. I think if I had "extra" money, I'd pay those off. But does that stimulate the economy, especially if I plan to not spend money on those cards and leave them paid off?

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

How Fast Will eBay Take Down A Fake Site?

I have to hand it to eBay on this one. They really impressed me last week.

When we do templates, sometimes clients say they don't want to approve the final version until they see it mocked up on eBay's View Item page. OK, fair enough. Typically, I take the eBay page, and I just dump the client's mockup where the listing would be. I upload it to our servers, and I send the client a link. He normally approves it, and I take it down.

I did that last week. Client approved it. I was distracted, so I didn't take it down right away. I soon got a call from eBay. Someone who didn't know who I was was telling me that I had a fake eBay page on my server, and I was therefore infringing their copyright. Whoa.

Bigger whoa was that I then went to my page in my browser (Firefox). The page was fire red, and told me I could NOT see this page because it was fraud. WHOA. eBay somehow got my page on a list of banned pages!!! I hit my FTP app, and took the page down.

I explained that we're designers, we were just mocking up, blah blah blah. She understood. She said next time to please password protect the page so that it's only for the client, and can't be accessed by the public. OK, fair enough. Sorry!

I told her that was amazingly fast because I only had the page up about an hour. She said yes, she got the email warning her about my page an hour ago, but was only just getting around to calling me.

Whoa.

Gotta hand it to eBay on that one. If I were a fake site, and they are catching them this fast, that's WONDERFUL. Good job to eBay not only for handling it so fast, but for taking the time to call me to clear things up. I would have hated to have my site marked fraud when it was a simple misunderstanding.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Facebook Tells Me Your Secrets

I'm weird. I tend to really listen to what people don't say... what they aren't telling me, what they are dancing around telling me. I read intentions. But sometimes, a lack of something says a lot to me.

The pics I put up on Facebook tell you story of my life. Of course, you have to be a good friend to see them since my Facebook is personal and not for biz. But for those in that circle, you know my world through pictures... where I live, who I spend time with, my pets, my car, places I like to eat...

If there is a lack of something, it's not by accident. No pictures of family? Yes, I have no family. No pictures of a special someone? Well, I'm in a new relationship, and I'm not sharing photos yet. Lots of pictures of guy friends? Yes, I'm friends with many of the guys I dated in the early 1990s. Anything that's missing from FB photos is not by accident.

So you get my story from what I include but also what I exclude. I think people are giving away more than they realise from things like Facebook posts and photos.

I have many friends who are unhappily married, and are either considering divorce or just starting to fantasise about it. Their Facebook pics tell a lot of the story when I see zero or nearly zero pictures of the wife. Pictures of pets, pictures of kids, pictures of places, pictures of other family. No (or really few) wife pics.

Compare that to some FB friends I have who seem to really love their wives. They're always posting about where they're going out. They post appreciation for her. They post mountains of pictures of them doing things together. These aren't newlyweds. Just happy couples. They haven't gone extinct. :)

Another friend of mine just split with his wife. He removed his relationship status. So it said married, and now it says nothing and is hidden. I thought it was too early to say single as the ink isn't dry, and a lot of people would ask a lot of questions. But a guy you think is married with a hidden relationship status? Could mean he's making a change.

It makes me feel like what you exclude is telling part of your story, and I'm listening. I wonder how many real life friends of my unhappily married Facebook friends know their friend is unhappily married. I can tell he's unhappy. I wonder if they get the clues or are missing the clues. How many of these people would be surprised if these unhappy people left their wives? I wouldn't be! I'm watching the clues!

I'm not saying that your FB needs to be papered with your wife everywhere, and devoted odes of passion. :) But disconnection looks like disconnection, and I think Facebook makes that easier to see.

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Is Global Warming Real?

Everybody wants to debate Global Warming. Is it real? Or is it just a typical shift like our earth has had before?

There's one thing I feel like I'm not hearing enough. And that is that whether or not you believe in Global Warming, Climate Change, or whatever you want to call it, there is NO good reason to NOT change our habits and do more for our planet.

Recycling is a great idea whether you believe people cause climate change or not. No reason to throw things away and have them pile up on stinking piles in states where we all live. Recycling is easy. You throw some things in one bin, and some in another. Then you put each bin in the right place. Or maybe where you live, you just drag these bins out, and someone takes them for you.

That was EASY. I will even throw a paper towel I used to dry my hands in the recycle bin. It can come back as a Starbucks thingy so you don't burn your hand on the hot cup. :)

Being smart with energy is easy, and will save you money on your electric bill. So even if you don't want to do it for somebody's idea of what's good for the planet, do it to save money. Turn off lights and ceiling fans in rooms you're not in. Keep the thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree lower in the winter. There are small things you can do that can save electricity, save you money, and don't compromise however you see your lifestyle.

Turn off water while you are brushing your teeth or washing your face. Turn it back on when you need it. Don't let it run. Cut your shower down by a few minutes. Yes, please wash :) but you could probably cut 2 minutes out of your shower every day, even if that's 2 minutes of not getting in the shower yet even though the water has heated up.

Carpool where you can. Share rides. Nobody gets any points for driving their own car and having to park it. See if you can travel with someone else. Save gasoline, save on pollution from vehicles, save on traffic in your area. Imagine if traffic moved faster because 1/3 of the people in your area decided to share a ride instead of taking their car too.

I'm thinking about a scooter. If I have to go 0.5 miles to Target to get some shampoo, I probably don't need to drive my V6 SUV. I could ride an efficient scooter getting a zillion miles to the gallon and putting out less pollution.

Got solar? There are lots of great solar chargers out there. Leave them in the sun, plug in something like a cell phone, and you're powered.    

Doesn't matter if Climate Change is real or not. Doesn't matter who caused it. Doesn't matter if it will go away soon. We should be smarter. We should think ahead more. We should save our resources, our community resources, our state resources, our country resources. Little bits count, and are WORTH doing.

What are some things that you do?

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Friday, 06 August 2010

Must-Have Android Apps

I've had the HTC Evo 4G for Sprint since the day it came out about 2 months ago. This phone is amazing, especially with FroYo (version 2.2 of the operating system). But you really make the most out of a phone like this with the apps you can download and use. Here are the apps that rock my world right now. You can find them in the Market.

ShapeWriter. Can't live without it. You can also try its competitor, Swype. These apps let you type words at a time instead of letters at a time. Faster than a real touch keyboard.

K9 Email. I am polling 5 IMAP accounts every MINUTE. Yes, minute. K9 has a huge number of features, and is updated often. If you are looking for really powerful email with a lot of features, get K9. My fave feature is different notification sound and vibration patterns for different accounts.

QuickProfiles. I can make phone profiles for volumes, vibrate, airplane mode, etc... I can access them with one button. My fave feature is that I can set a different wallpaper for different profiles. I use a certain wallpaper for silent and quiet profiles so that if I look at my phone, I'm reminded by the wallpaper that the phone is silent. Reminds me to turn the volume back on!

Three travel apps: Kayak, TripIt, and FlightTrack (the pro version with the TripIt integration). I'm a huge TripIt user, and I travel once or twice a month. So these are really handy for having all of my travel details in one place, and to track flights. TripIt also notifies, emails, or SMS when your flight changes, and reminds you to check in for flights. Very helpful!

Startup Cleaner keeps certain apps from starting up. Android doesn't really need a task killer, but there are a few apps I don't even want to start up.

Ringo Lite lets me set ring tones and SMS tones for different people.

Fring is my IM app right now. I really want Skype. I haven't gotten into Qik. I'm open to other IM apps. If Digsby made an Android app, I'd want that!

ColorNote is a great app for a checklist. Grocery IQ is a fun and easy shopping list.

Pandora and Rhapsody. Gotta have my music!

I'm not much of a gamer, but I do love my MahJong tile removal game. :)

I'm now playing with SayMyName Dessert. This will read email senders and subjects, SMS, and announce callers. You can control each separately. It's great for driving, working out, or any time I'm not really looking at the phone. I can hear what the email is, and decide if I want to look or not. Helpful!

Those are my suggestions!

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Thursday, 05 August 2010

The Real Threat To Traditional Marriage

So Prop 8 was overturned in California. I read some of the articles quoting the ruling, and I noticed something interesting. What religions recognise and what states' laws recognise aren't always the same thing. Prop 8 is a matter of law and not religion. There are plenty of places where law and religion don't match!

A state can see a couple as divorced. Their religion can refuse to see them as divorced. A state will give an annulment to a religious couple even if they have kids. A state will break a covenant marriage, which is supposed to be unbreakable. So even before you bring gay rights issues into the picture, you already have a mismatch between what states recognise or allow and what religions recognise or allow. There are plenty of places where the Bible doesn't match up with anything in the USA... like we DON'T sell our children into slavery, even though the Bible says we can.

As a divorced woman, I know that many marriages do not last. Plenty that do are unhappy. Imagine it as an eBay seller. If you made more than 50% of your customers unhappy, eBay wouldn't even let you sell. So why do marriages go so wrong?

To me, the real threat to traditional marriage is the imbalance between people in a couple. This imbalance can be played out a number of ways. Maybe one person makes most/all of the money, and the other person feels "kept." Maybe one person is hyper-sensitive, and makes the other feel like he or she is "walking on eggshells"... that if you say or do the "wrong" thing, no matter how small, it'll be a battle. Maybe the couple isn't a good sexual match. Maybe they don't have similar core values, religious beliefs, approaches to child care, levels of neatness or organisation.

Isn't Marriage Supposed To Be "Hard" and Take a Lot of Work?

That's a story we tell ourselves when things are hard. When the relationship was GREAT, we didn't tell ourselves, "Well, this is just supposed to be hard and take work.... why is this so great and easy?!?!?" We matched the story we told ourselves to what our reality was, hoping we'll feel better. When the relationship got hard, we told ourselves, well, that's just marriage... it's hard. We need to stop telling ourselves made-up stories to try to feel better. We need that cold splash of water in the face.

Be careful of the stories you tell yourself. "Love will conquer all." Well, it may not. I found my love didn't do squat when it came to trying to deal with a dry drunk with unresolved childhood issues. I didn't cause those problems, and I can't fix them, which is a good lesson for everybody: you are unlikely to be able to fix problems you didn't cause, especially deep ones from before you met your partner. Love didn't conquer anything.

Another story we tell ourselves is that we've put so many years into this, why walk away. We don't keep a car because we've had it for 10 years. We don't sell or junk it because we've had it for 10 years. We get rid of it when it's not right for us anymore. I think relationships should be the same. I think people should consider disconnecting when the relationship isn't working, and can't be fixed... even if it's a vintage car. :) Putting more coats of paint on it won't make it better.

So How Do You Find That Successful Relationship?

Hey, I'm not perfect. I'm talking more from experience of long-term relationships that ended (badly). But I do have friends who have been married for decades, and say the spark and lightning are still there. Those people chose the right people. I'm hoping that right choice will come my way soon, if it hasn't already. :)

Think about your relationship with your best friend. You don't have to TRY to make that person happy. In fact, nobody would dream for a second that it's your JOB to make that person happy! You're each responsible for your own happiness. You don't have to say the right things or do the right things. You and your best friend just click, and you can talk about anything. You can say something, take it back, reshape it, try again, and your best friend doesn't pick a fight with you.

To me, the success or failure of a relationship always comes down to balance, equality, and how you share. This comes back to not the genders of people or the religion, but it comes down to who we choose as our (hopefully) life partner. It's about our expectations. If you expect your partner to "make you happy," that's a lot of pressure on that person. I prefer dating a happy person who wants to share that with me rather than someone looking for me to say and do all the right things so he'll be happy.

To me, the threat to traditional marriage isn't gay people. It's not religious people who want to superimpose their beliefs and preferences on everybody else as if there is only one right way. The biggest threat to traditional marriage are all of us who chose the wrong people and stayed. There is at least one fantastically right life partner out there for you... someone who makes you feel loved, supported, beautiful, and full of lightning. Life is short. Go find that person. :) Your marriage is a model for how your kids will see love... if you wouldn't want your kids in a relationship like yours, go find a really healthy one that they will hopefully use as a model instead.

And on a side note, that's why I like Chelsea Clinton... I like a girl who is JUST NOW marrying a guy she met 17 years ago. I think if more people took extra time to live together and see how the relationship evolves over time BEFORE getting married, we'd see a lot less divorce. Think about your the person you were dating 17 years ago. :)

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Friday, 23 July 2010

Can't A Woman Just Be Nauseous?

People. Really. I am SO tired of this. Can we please shift our thinking on this one? Please?

I get nauseous from time to time. I've had a sensitive system my whole life. I think I have a weak gall bladder, so if I eat too much of the wrong foods, I'm going to be nauseous. I recently had a reaction to fire ant venom, and I was nauseous for about 4 days. When I had toxic black mold in my apartment in 2009, it made me nauseous.

It's amazing how many people, upon hearing that I'm nauseous, flat out ask if I'm pregnant or find some wacky way to try to ask in a subtle way if I am pregnant.

Firstly, I promise that if I am ever pregnant, I will JUST say that I'm pregnant. I would not act like hmmm, I've had unprotected sex, I'm throwing up every morning, what could this beeeeeee?

Secondly, as I was born without a uterus, I am really unlikely to get pregnant or be pregnant. It's REALLY unlikely that my nausea is caused by pregnancy. For those of you having an uncomfy moment, please know that I'm proud and happy to not have a uterus. It's really freeing. :) So as you can imagine, being feels-like-constantly asked if I'm pregnant is ridiculous.

And you have to remember that there are many women out there who can't have children who are unhappy about it. I happen to be happy. But let's say I'm miserable about it. I post to Facebook that I'm nauseous, and you ask if I'm pregnant. You're going to freaking break my heart because I might wish I could get pregnant. That's a lot of upset and pain that didn't have to "go there."

This would be like any time someone says something in their body hurts, you ask if it's cancer. You have a headache? That could be a brain tumour. You are coughing? That must be lung cancer. Better get checked out! Same for weight. If a woman put on 10 pounds over a few months, would you ask her if she's pregnant? I hope not!

This may be a surprise to people out there, but sometimes people are just nauseous. Sometimes, we've eaten things that disagree with us. Food is more toxic than it ever has been thanks to processing, chemicals, and other fun stuff.

I would like the whole freaking planet to stop assuming that every nauseous woman could have a baby on the way. Sometimes, I just have one too many french fries on its way out.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter!

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Friday, 16 July 2010

Consumer Reports and the iPhone 4

Consumer Reports decided to not recommend the iPhone 4 based on the documented problems with call reception based on how you hold the phone when it's not in a case.

Some people have thought this is a wrong move by Consumer Reports because they feel that otherwise, the iPhone 4 is great.

I think this is absolutely appropriate. If a blender might not work right based on how you pushed the buttons, I'd expect Consumer Reports to warn me of that. If an MP3 player might stop playing based on how you hold it, I'd think it's right for Consumer Reports to recommend another model. And don't get me started on how this relates to how your car functions! :)

I have the Evo 4G for Spring, and am very happy. I've never wanted an iPhone. I'm just not into them. I'm also not into anchovies on pizza. The iPhone 4 will still be considered a success based on sales and improved features. But I still think it's fair for Consumer Reports to say there is a documented problem that you may use to affect your buying decision.

That's the job of Consumer Reports. If they recommended a phone with potentially weird reception based on you touched it, I'd think they got paid off.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

What (Single) Men Don't Understand

Now that I've signed off Match.com, it's time for me to try to explain this en masse to you single guys out there.

You probably don't know what it's like to be a woman. :) OK, you really don't. :)

You don't know what it's like to be in unsafe situations. Let me put it like this. Let's say you go out on a date with a random woman you met on a dating site. Let's say she comes off as really unstable and wacky, and she seems to want a LOT more than you do. You think she's crazy, she thinks you're HOT, and she makes it quite clear she wants you. You tell her you're not interested. Let's say she's not getting the message, and she still wants you.

Let's say she follows you out to your car. Tries to kiss you. You are stronger because you are the man. You will be able to detach her from you, and push her away. Let's say she manages to trip you, and gets on top of you when you're on the ground. You will be able to push her off you.

You are never really too unsafe unless she shows up with serial killer equipment. :)

Now imagine you are 5' 4" and a woman. You're meeting a guy who wants way more than you do. You are not feeling it, and you make it clear that you're not thinking that. He's a hornball, and he has his own ideas. He follows you out to your car. He tries to kiss you. Can you fight him off? Can you physically overpower him, and get him to go away? If he gets on top of you, can you get him off you?

There have been MANY times in my life when I said NO to someone sexually, and ended up under him when he jumped on me. I have been kissed by guys I didn't like because they didn't think no meant no. And in every case, I have said out loud and made very clear that I was NOT interested in them that way, I did NOT want to kiss them, didn't want sex, etc... I try to communicate fully and clearly, but sometimes, it hasn't been enough. When someone is not hearing NO, they are really not hearing no, and sometimes, they are sure they are hearing yes.

I am very lucky that I've never been raped. I know many women who have been. But I know I have been in many unsafe situations that were only saved by my good communication, quick thinking, and ability to quickly judge escape routes. But in general, I need to NOT put myself into unsafe situations. They're easier to get out of when you never get into one.

Last year, a guy on Match.com had an idea for our date. He thought going for a walk sounded nice. Sure, that sounds nice. Where do you want to meet? He texts me that he wants to go for a walk behind where he works. The road is unpaved and has no name. It would be sunset on the coldest day of the year.

This sounded bad. This doesn't sound like "get to know me." I texted back that this was NOT the get-to-know-each-other setting I'd prefer, and what about just getting dinner or coffee. He texted back that he was sick of eating out, and refused to get a meal with me. I told him I would not go on this walk, and to please find something else for us to do. I never heard from him again. I can't help but wonder what might have happened if I went walking on the unpaved, unnamed road in the dark, just like he wanted.

Men, does that mean I think you're all serial killers, sexual predators, and wife beaters? No, absolutely not. Some of you are lovely. But it does mean that I am likely to be REALLY clear that when we meet, I am only thinking friends. I am not thinking sex. I will tell you this a few times. When I tell you this, you have two general reaction options:

  • Be concerned that I have been in bad situations. Understand that I am trying to ensure my own safety. Be glad that I am communicating clearly because if we weren't thinking the same thing, that would be not that cool. This would be showing care, which I like. :)
  • Take it personally. Not show any concern for some bad situations I've been in. Tell me you're insulted that I'm accusing you of being some sort of attacker. This would be putting me on the defensive, which will make me re-explain what I was trying to say, which makes me feel we are NOT on the same page. In theory, I shouldn't have to re-explain something I think I just explained really clearly. If you're not hearing me, we're not on the same page, and that's not good. I'd like to date a guy who hears me.

Men, if you are meeting a woman and she's a bit nervous, take the friendly route. Earn her trust. It may take time, but it often takes time to build trust. Don't get insulted or defensive, and don't make what I'm saying about me all about you.

Thanks for hearing me. :)

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Monday, 07 June 2010

Tell The Truth About Your Age

Ah, from the world of online dating comes another idea in marketing... telling the truth about your age.

Ran into a guy who listed himself as 41, but said in his profile he was older. How old? He didn't say. We ended up emailing a bit, and he told me that he had to do that about his age because he wants to date women in their 30s, and he looks so young for his age.

There is something he forgot. I need to know his real age up front for one main reason. If I'm looking for someone likely to have something in common with me, I'm looking for someone from my generation.

I'm 38 (as of when I'm writing this). I grew up on Schoolhouse Rock. I remember the ABC After School Special. I had cable when MTV launched, and all of that British and Australasian music influenced my taste. I was raised on Sesame Street. When John Lennon was shot, I didn't know who he was (I was too young). I thought Saturday Night Live was amazing when Christopher Guest was in the cast (1984), and then pretty great with Phil Hartman. In college, we were told over and over about safe sex. I grew up with computers (in my home).

If you are age 50ish, you didn't grow up with that stuff. By the time the early 80s hit, you already loved classic rock. When Sesame Street hit the airwaves in the late 1960s, you were too old for Sesame Street. You watched Saturday Night Live in the 1970s. Your college years probably looked like a cross between Animal House and Studio 54. You grew up with 8 track tapes, and probably didn't see a computer until one was plopped at your desk at work some time around 1990.

We probably just kind of grew up with different cultural influences. Sure, we could still have a lot in common. But I am more likely to connect with someone who grew up with what I grew up with. You didn't have to grow up near me. I'm just looking for commonalities and those include cultural and generational. Lying about your age doesn't change where we're going to disconnect if you didn't grow up being into the same things I remember being into.

And if you're "that much older than I am," then I'm taking care of your old ass that much sooner. :) So a woman in her 30s might like this guy because he looks young... but when he's 68 and she's 50 (he said the last woman he dated was 18 years younger), it's going to be a very different world. What he looks like won't matter as much as other things.

One more thing. When you are about 15-20 years older than someone, personally, I don't think you should look at them and see a potential life partner. You should see potential offspring. I am not for people dating people old enough to be their parents or children. I don't have Daddy issues. I am not looking to recreate any aspect of my father in the man I date. If that person is or was a mentor to you, even worse. You've established that teacher/student power thing, so how will you create a truly equal relationship.

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Wednesday, 02 June 2010

Making Sense of This Oil Spill

OK, I can't make sense of this oil spill. One of my specialties is understanding potential outcomes, having a zillion plan B's, and trying to guide situations to the best outcomes.

I don't know poop about oil rigs, but I do not understand how this company didn't have documentation on 12 things they can do ASAP if a rig fails or explodes. Or 10 things that'll stop a line from leaking under water if it ruptures.

When I see TV reports, I feel like BP is guessing. Throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks. I also can't believe it's taking them over a month to try things.

The USA has a lot of great engineering universities. There have to be experienced oil people, professors, and students who have ideas on how to fix this. CNN had some people on a few days ago, and they were showing their ideas for improving this situation. Where are our great thinkers and engineers?

Some people are saying Obama needs to do more. I don't remember the government stepping in on other business-caused disasters. When is the last time the government was sent in because a factory was on fire?

Either you believe the government should have their fingers in everything, or you believe the government should stay out of the situations caused by private businesses. I do not want to hear conservatives blame Obama for not doing more while every other day saying they want government out of private businesses! Pick one!

I think that if the government can help, we should, but we should charge BP for the fix. If a private person or engineer comes up with the fix, BP should super pay them millions.

I can't really make sense of this whole situation. I don't understand how these people didn't have a pile of effective contingency plans in place. Consultants of the world, solicit BP. :) They need contingency plans!

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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Online Dating For The Psychic

One interesting thing I notice on online dating sites is that a lot of guys only want to talk to or date someone who lives right near them.

It would be very cool to have the psychic power to know the home airport of my soul mate! I think he could be anywhere. He's probably somewhere in the USA. Hey I could be wrong! He could be somewhere else. But having a 3000-mile radius gives me a lot of potential guys to meet... friends or otherwise.

I can't imagine believing that my soul mate lives within 30 miles from me... and somehow, I've never met him. All the places I've gone. All the cool things I've done. Things he would be doing too, right here in town. I've lived here years, and still haven't met him.

Yeah, I think he probably doesn't live here. Extra good luck to the people who only want local people. I understand why they would want local people. The thing I don't get is when they email me to back say WOW, they loved my profile, I seem really cool, and we seem to have a lot in common... but goodbye and good luck because you don't live in my back yard.

OK!

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Two New Dealbreakers: Illiteracy and Bulldozing

I'm using a dating website right now. I'm quite clear in my profile info and my written "About Me" type of area on a few things. For example, when I say I want men in a certain age range, that is because I do not want to date anybody younger or older. Emailing me to check you out when you are my parents' age... not gonna happen. At 38, I am unlikely to find someone who is or looks like he's in his 60s or 70s attractive.

Guys with kids are contacting me, even though my profile says I don't have kids and don't want kids. My profile has one picture of some of my pets. Yeah, I'm that person. I am NOT sure who is reading that I don't have or want kids, and thinking that she will LOVE my kids.

Welcome two new but obvious things to the list of dating dealbreakers: illiteracy and bulldozing. I wasn't ever FOR these, but now I'll make sure that I'm noticing when guys are doing this since I don't want this.

If you are going to completely disregard my preferences, and write to me anyway (like I'm going to throw out all of my standards and want someone unlike what I've stated), then I can just start to imagine what kind of boyfriend you might be. A bulldozer. I've dated that person. I think I divorced that guy actually. So I'm not going there again. I would like to be part of a relationship where someone takes what I want into consideration, and takes it seriously... someone who knows that when I express a preference, I'm pretty sure about it!

Illiteracy is ugly! Laziness is ugly. I know we all hate to read. Time is precious, and you have decided you are my future Mr Right without reading the 4 short paragraphs I wrote about myself. FAIL. I'm busy too, but I do read whole dating profiles before deciding if this person would want to hear from me because we seem to be a good match.

Maybe this all comes down to self-awareness and narcissism. I guess it's naturally a bit narcissistic to think that you are SO great that someone will want you, even when you don't match their stated preferences. Like, OK she doesn't have or want kids, and she doesn't want to date someone older than his mid-40s. But if only she could see me! Sure, I'm 60 with 2 kids, but I'm just perfect for her.

Somehow, the obese trucker with no teeth and kids reads my profile, and thinks I should get to know him. I would LOVE to hear the thought process in his head when he is writing me an email. I would love to know what in my profile made him think I was really looking for HIM.

I am only writing to people who I think could be looking for me and I could be looking for him.

Self-awareness and narcissism. I like confidence. I like self-awareness. I know a little narcissism is normal. But can the guys on these dating sites please do SOMETHING? Like read my profile and think critically and honestly about whether or not I'd really want to hear from him?

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Don't Wish For Me What I Don't Wish For Me

There are some unique things about my life and how I live it. They are things I'm really happy about and proud of. Yet, when I happily and proudly tell people, they are sure these things should be different from how they are. They tell me they wish, hope, and pray that the opposite of what I want to happen to me will happen to me. Huh?

That would be like you saying, "I am so glad that I am going on a Bahamas cruise," and my response is, "Oh, I'd never want to go there. I will pray that a hurricane blows in, and your trip gets cancelled." Makes no sense, right?

Let's not waste your wishing and praying time on that! If you would like to wish and pray for anything, wish and pray for what I want in my life!

So for those of you who hear that I don't have kids, don't pray that I have kids someday because you love kids so much. I don't want kids. Pray that I don't end up with kids. :)

When you hear that I don't want kids, don't wish that I will get out of this "phase," and pursue having a family. Wish that I will have a mountain of fun and a long life without kids!

For those of you who hear that I do not have a relationship with my parents or only sibling, do not wish that I will someday have a relationship with these people. It is mutual and on purpose that I have no relationship with these people. I do not want to speak to them or be connected to them in any way ever again. There is nothing anybody can do to "fix" this, there is nothing to fix, and my relationship with them is exactly what I wanted for as long as I can remember. Please do not hope and pray that we all get together. We're all putting in deliberate effort to stay apart!

So what do I say?

When someone tells me something, I ask them how they feel about it. Even things you'd assume are universally seen a certain way. When someone tells me they're pregnant, I say, "How do you feel about that?" You'd be surprised at the answers I've gotten back. Not everybody was happy, and those who weren't appreciated that I didn't just launch into the usual congratulations, you're gonna be so happy, a baby is so wonderful, etc...

When someone tells me she broke up with her boyfriend, I ask how she feels about that. Sometimes, a woman is thrilled to be done with a bad guy, and it won't have made sense for me to be like, "Oh, I'm sorry, he was so great..." If he wasn't great, she knows it, and especially if I know it, I might as well support her and NOT be sorry or say he was great! If she is sad about the breakup, I probably still wouldn't say he was great.

In conclusion...

Remember that not everybody is happy with a situation you would love, and not everybody is unhappy with a situation you would hate to be in. Why not first gauge how people feel about something? Then you can wish, pray, and hope that the outcome is the one they want for themselves. When you tell someone you wish and pray for an outcome that is OPPOSITE to what they want, you sound weird or unsupportive.

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Sunday, 09 May 2010

GoToMeeting Technical Note

Because I've needed this twice, I'm posting it here, in case it helps anybody else. I'm in Windows 7, and when I try to run GoToMeeting, it acts like everything tests fine. But when I try to start or join a meeting, it hangs during the "connecting" part. This fixes that! Thanks to GTM tech support for their helpful and quick answer.

1. Surf to http://www.gotomeeting.com/wizard
2. Click the "Download GoToMeeting Connection Wizard" link
3. Run or open g2mwizard.exe
4. Right click the GoToMeeting logo banner
5. Click "Manual Tools"
6. Click "Reset"
7. Click "Reset" again
8. Click "OK"
9. Click "Custom Wizard"
10. Click "Next"
11. Click "OK" on the dialog box
12. Wait for tests, then click "Next"
13. Under "Streaming Communications" click "Direct, Hostport: 8200"
14. Click the lower right drop down menu labeled "Usage:", choose "Force", or leave it at "Try Always" (Try Always is recommended)
15. Click "Store and Validate"
16. When tests finish, click "Next"
17. Click "Exit Wizard"

GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar will now use port 8200 for access on that particular machine.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Urgent Help Needed With Mozilla Thunderbird

I'm using Thunderbird for my email. I tried to move my profile yesterday so I could move it to another computer. I didn't delete anything... I only moved it around. But something really weird is happening, and I need help!

Please do not write me to use a different email application. That doesn't help me recover this mail. Right now, I need to recover this email.

Thunderbird doesn't see any of my Local Folders, where I archived important saved mail. When I go into Windows Explorer to look inside the Local Folders for that profile, it only shows me Trash and Unsent. When I use Win Explorer to search for a missing folder, such as one I called !TO DO (to remind me to do things!), I can see this:

Tbird1
So according to Windows Explorer, all of my mail and missing folders are there... but it sees them where they should be, inside the default profile. When I click on one of those and ask Explorer to open the containing folder, it goes to the Local Folders, and only shows me Trash and Unsent. When I try to open the !TO DO.mozmsgs folder, it shows me this:

Tbird2 

I have no idea how to get to this mail. Clearly, Explorer sees it there. When I search for email addresses, it sees individual mails. The data is somehow there. Thunderbird doesn't see it. And Windows Explorer only kind of sees it. When I try to grab these files and move them, I get a message saying they are no longer there.

How can Windows Explorer see a 6MB file and then say it's not there? This is REALLY strange. No, I do not have a backup. I only started using Thunderbird a month ago, and this was my first attempt at backing up.

I hope somebody can tell me how to revive this. It seems to be so close, and I can't get to it. I do not want to lose a month of archived important emails!

Thanks.

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Friday, 23 April 2010

Census Form Questions

I'm confused. I keep seeing census form commercials on TV. They keep showing forms with lots of questions. I just saw one where a guy reminds gay, lesbian, and transgendered people to fill out their census forms. The camera shows a census form asking what is the relationship between person 1 and person 2 in the household.

My census didn't ask that.

For person 1, mine asked name, gender, age, ethnicity, how many people are living in the house, and I think that was it. The form didn't ask me how people are related. The form didn't ask me anything about what people do or all the things I thought it asks!

Does anybody know why I'd get a special bland form with nearly zero questions?

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