Cure for Boredom

6 in 1 silver ring

Now this is amazing, my son Nathan took some 22 gauge wire and used a 6 in 1 European pattern to make himself this really cool ring. It all started years ago when his brother decided to order a bunch of rings to make his own chain mail for Canterberry tales at their high school. I had chain mail being worked on at the kitchen table for what seemed like years. So Nathan is using these same skills to create more things. That is one thing about my family, we all have this need to make and create something.

Here are a couple more:

metal cubes

Made of 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, and 20 gauge aluminum. The black one is anodized.

multi-metal cube

This is one of Nathan’s favorite cube, made of copper, bronze, brass, and aluminum.

Twitter Customer Care

Does it really matter how much your virtual stock is selling for on Empire Avenue? Who has the biggest fan base on Facebook? the most followers on Twitter?

Sure, if you are connecting with more people, chances are more people may be taking note of your business, what you are doing. My youngest calls followers, friends “stalkers”.

Some “game” the system. At one time, and still going on, are those who follow a bunch of people, week later, dump those who don’t reciprocate, follow more. Or go around on endorsing a whole bunch of blogs which they’re never even read, looking for ea brownie points?

I realize some people just don’t get social media. In truth, your time and resources only stretch so far. And with anything, it is all about how you use the tools. Yet, for any business, no matter how big or small, it is important not to ignore your brand on social media. Today I’m using Twitter as an example.

How much time does it take to set up a twitter account? couple minutes
How long does does it take to search twitter with your brand name? Another minute or 2? Of course if you’re quite popular and you check in several times a day, it may take a little longer. But how much time and $ does it take to do market research and gather the public’s opinion the old fashioned way?

My son, @creationix was impatiently awaiting the arrival of a new computer. Now Tim has been obsessed with technology since . . . Hmmm. Can’t ever remember him not. I mean, this is the kid, that as an infant, would sit in his crib and dismantle it, carried around a purse as a toddler packed full of tools, who I rushed to the ER for stitches after he climbed up the back of a rocking chair trying to reach the Commodore 64? (or was it the old Bally?). Never the less, he was impatiently awaiting the arrival of his new computer. And when it didn’t arrive as expected, he was bemoaning the fact on twitter.

twitter fedex

A sharp FedEx employee picked up on the complaints, offered to help, looked up the shipment, called the FedEx driver, and let my son know when he could expect his package, apologizing for any inconvenience. Soon Tim was happily setting up his new system.

Kudo’s to @FedExLaSheila. Instead of a an unhappy customer, complaining to his friends and family, or worse yet, waiting on the phone to talk to customer service, you have real time interaction, smoothing out a problem quickly. And those who saw the complaint, also saw how quickly the issue was resolved via twitter.

So bottom line, it may not matter so much the number of followers, fans you have, your virtual stock price; but how you interact with your customer base is priceless.

But Words Will Never Hurt Me

An unusual game of chess
Photo by Lonesome: Cycler

Sticks and Stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. . .

But is that really true? Yes, words may not cause your physical body harm. Words do hurt, whether they be the words out of your mouth, something you wrote, or what others say about you.

Look at the past US presidential campaign, much money, time and effort was spent by each side trying to discredit thei2w competition. I’m sure we’ll see more of this as things gear up for the next election. I think that has been the nature of the thing since the beginning of politics. Look at the words both sides use, chosen to discredit the other party, pulling at our emotions, telling us what our opinion should be, implying we are stupid if we support/vote for their opponent. All the negative vibes make it tempting to ignore politics altogether, but it would not be wise to let others decide among themselves how the country is run.

It is not just the campaign people, but our news media too. Recently, I heard on the radio “Even Ron Paul didn’t sound crazy.” Implies that he usually is crazy. Words, you can spin either way, positive or negative. I’ve also heard some very harsh criticism of Obama. Instead of taking things for fact, check it out. And no if you aren’t for Pres. Obama doesn’t mean you are a racist.

Read “If the Titanic Sank Today, here’s how the President, the media and Wall Street would spin it” Here are a couple examples, great if you need a laugh:

“Al Gore: That iceberg wouldn’t have even been there if the polar caps weren’t melting.

The Congressman: Quick, let’s pass a new law that says ships shall not sink.”

Words can be written or spoken. Both have great power. On the internet, they have power to go viral.
Just ask AOL and their customer service. Or Twitter Moms and Motrin.

Virtual Stock Trading

Empire Avenue

Ok, I’ve been hearing rumors of this social media place where you can buy stock in people’s social media stock. Sounded interesting, but I’ve been busy, getting a new wordpress tutorial blog up and running, watering my plants in this hot Texas heat so they don’t die, eye surgery (cataracts – sure go ahead and correct my vision while you’re at it), girls out of school for the summer, chipping shredding tree which storms damaged month or so ago, etc. Finally, after an invite from @bwoodsdesign I decided to take the plunge.

Kind of reminded me of when I first dropped into twitter without the fail whales. Pulls you in, I did not mean to spend that much time over there, I was just checking it out. Other Empire Avenue members were quickly investing in my virtual stock, so I hung around a checked it out more. Having been there only a few days, I am by no means an expert the in’s and out’s of Empire Avenue.

(e)TXMOM on Empire Avenue

Don’t get overwhelmed, simply add your links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and a short bio. You can add your rss feeds and other social media links. The more active you are on the social networks, the more your value will climb.

As others buy your stock you have more money to invest in others. If you search around on the internet, you’ll find lots of advice for using Empire Avenue.

I like to think of Empire Avenue as your social media accountability partner. It grades your activity on various networks. And the more you interact with others, the better your score. You can see where you need to spend more effort and where you are doing well.

More later. But if your aren’t already there, you can sign up with my link:

Using Animoto to Create Videos for SOC Video Cards

QR code

I always like playing with new tools. One of the newest is SendOutCards video cards. You take a video, place it on youtube, create a card in the cool SendOutCards (also known as SOC) system. Your Youtube link is turned into a QR code which is printed on your greeting card. After sending the card, your loved one can scan the QR code with their smart phone, ipad, etc, and your video will play for them. Fun!

So what is a QR code, it is that black and white cube top of the post, looks and acts like a bar code. My son Tim Caswell was telling me about these a couple years back, how they made cool business cards.

So the next question is how do I make a video? There are many ways. One is grab your video camera, take pictures of your child’s first steps, first birthday, graduation, upload to youtube. A real estate agent could give a virtual tour of a home. Many uses.

One quick option is to create a quick video using photos/video with Animoto. Watch the video below to see how easy it can be to create such a cool and professional video.

Here is the video I created for my grandkids. Shh! Don’t tell them about it, the cards are in the mail, it’s a surprise.

Have fun with Animoto

Heidi Caswell
Independant Distributor

Celebrate Easter

Easter Eggs
Traditions, Easter egg hunts. I imagine we’ll always have them as long as we have kids home or visiting. Never too old to find and hide eggs. Yet Easter is so much more than chocolate, sweets, and games.
happy girl
Family time- a great time to spend outdoors together, work on that garden, laugh and play, visit, share a feast, dance, celebrate life, living.

Jack hunting eggs
Spring-green grass, ducklings, flowers, warmer weather, storms, winds and lightening followed by sunshine, tree blossoms followed by green leaves, asparagus and strawberries.

I’ve been watching spring happen, wonderful to see what new things sprout each day, is that plant still alive? will it make it? A reminder of what the holiday is about, what we are celebrating. New life, resurrection!

John 3:16

“16 ¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Take time and give thanks to God for the gift of his son. Honor that gift by following his example.
Dogwood flower

Adding Photos to Your Blog

Creative Commons License photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani
Three years back I wrote a post about why you shouldn’t grab images from google images and post to your blog.

I love photos, both taking my own, and viewing the work of others. I’m amazed at the talent out there. Love that through flickr we have images we have permission to use through creative commons. (Not all Flickr images, just ones which give permission.)

Yet, it is extra time to find the images, upload them to my post, add proper credits and I’ve been wishing for a plugin to do such, just hadn’t taken the time to search for such before now.

Enter Photo Dropper. You can search for it under add new plugins in your admin panel, install, activate. With you mouse wherever you want to add an image, scroll down, way below where you type in your post and you’ll find photo dropper browse photos. Better yet, click on the photo dropper icon by your other add media buttons.

Type in your keyword, photos pop up, pick one, click on what size you want and it is inserted into your post. Viola! Couldn’t be easier!

Do go to settings after you install your plugin, then photo dropper. Make sure the for commercial use button in checked.

Thank you photo dropper, now if only the photo was uploaded to my media library instead of linking through flickr, so the thumbnails would show up in certain themes which do such.

Have You Been Stuffified?

dangerous driving

OK, life gets busy. I mean we all have stuff to do. Places to go. Things to do. Kids to pick up and drop off. Games. Classes. Parents to help out. Dishes need washing. So do the clothes. Garbage out. Food cooked. Shopping to replace food stuff. Games, online and off.

Phones ring, cell phone too. Texting. Chat. eMail. Instant communication interrupting our lives 24/7 unless we turn them off.

Yards to take care of, vehicles too. More stuff to buy.

I learned a new word today, it is very appropriate:


When we let stuff get in the way of doing what is really important (or interrupting what is really important) we’ve been stuffified.

Now much of this stuff is useful, tools to serve us. But are we using our tools wisely or letting our tools rule us?

Photo by WoodleyWonderWorks

Free WP Theme Warning

WordPress is a great tool, at least until it is hacked. One reason to keep your sites updated.

WordPress themes are great fun, like a wardrobe for your website, change themes and you change the look and feel of your site. There are premium themes (ones you pay for, and should have customer support to help you with issues) and free themes. Both are OK, but use great care where your themes come from.

You can now upload and add themes from your wordpress admin panel. Those are checked for issues, I’ve not found any not safe to use.

What is sad is when you search online for free wordpress themes, you find many sites, several of which add spammy or malicious code. Adding these themes can even spread the bad stuff to your other themes, blogs. I look at the files before uploading. If I find encrypted looking stuff, I do myself and others a favor, don’t use it.

2 theme sites to avoid: I was wondering if they were just the themes someone sent me or all the themes on their sites. Not finding a theme without malicious encrypted code, I searched online to see if others also found such to be true.

Yep, finding the same issues. Do not use, link to or even visit See Malicious code in wordpress template. Nor use, see WordPress php injection spam.

Protect your sites, don’t add mal themes to your webhost.

A Warm Heart

A while back I ran into the inspiring story of Napoleon Dzombe. I loved it. Last night I couldn’t remember the guy’s name, nor the whole story, took me a while to find it. I wanted to share with others and have an easy way to refer back to his story.

Napoleon showed the how one person, is limited in how much they can do to help others by their time and resources, until they take a leadership role, teaching and inspiring others. No more limits!

Something to think about. What would you do if your neighbors were starving? And as you fed them, more starving people showed up on your doorstep looking for food? The more you feed, the more show up. Soon all your time and resources go to feeding the hungry, but then your business suffers and you’ll no longer have resources to feed yourself.

A pdf of Dzombe’s untold story