Saturday, August 31, 2013

Organic French Tarragon health benefits

Tarragon came from Siberia, it's name is Arabic for "dragon." The French variety is more pungent. In this photo, to the right, you see our organic French tarragon crop.

As I pass by our herb garden, what we call the square garden, I prune some leaves of organic French tarragon to chew.

You immediately know you are chewing French tarragon. It has a sting to it.

The eugenol makes your tongue tingle. Eugenol oil acts like clove oil, as a remedy for toothache. It numbs the mouth almost like cocaine. Chew a couple of fresh or dried leaves until it is a paste consistency and hold with tongue against sore tooth.

Tarragon: aids digestion, fights fatigue, sedates, induces sleep, soothes upset stomachs, prevents heart disease, and has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It was an ingredient used in the Middle Ages to cure snake bites.

Since it promotes bile production in the body, it is effective as a detox for the liver. To make tea for digestion, steep a handful of dried leaves in a jar with apple cider vinegar, stand 7 hours, strain and seal. Take 1 tbsp before each meal.

Blends well with chervil, parsley and chives in fish, meat, soups, stews, tomato and egg dishes.

Drying deprives tarragon of many characteristics of it essential oil. Dried leaves can be used as tea.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Music Evolves Toward Complex Sound Collage

What comes next in music evolution, beyond techno? A step sideways to ambient, mixed with the absurdity of varispeed maximalism.

Some years ago, I was composing more complex, maximalist sound collages and noise festival larks like these:


Sunrise Apple Dance

Taxidermy Clinic

Sounds of Future Noise

Outer Space Symphony

Grid Condenser

Soldering the Sea

Oblivion 33

Boiling Suns

Future Space Music

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ansel Adams midwestern exposure photography award

Receiving my prize, an Ansel Adams print signed by his son Michael Adams.

I walked 2 hours in 95 degree heat to pick it up, then another 2 hours back home. I enjoy extreme weather.

In the midst of everything else going on,
did I mention that I won
the Ansel Adams "Midwestern Exposure"
photography award
sponsored by the Peoria Riverfront Museum?

was the winning photograph.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Psychedelic Alley and Other Recent Digital Paintings

"Blue Railing"

CLICK on images 

"Black Window"

"Psychedelic Alley"

"Hotel Wall Lantern"

"Parking Deck Work"

"Street Pedestal"

Str8 Sounds
"Music for Mars" CD cover

"Psychedelic Self Portrait"

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Chandelierish Excellence of Expertise

Chandelier at newly renovated
Pere Marquette Hotel,
Peoria, IL USA

Can you be this elegant, memorable, dramatic
about the realm of your expertise.

What is the crown of your insights?

What are the best ideas you have on SEO,
web design, sales psychology, social marketing,
digital media, rich internet applications,
web usability, online reputation management,
mobile optimization, local search, keyword research?

What are the most important new trends
in your industry, in that sphere of life
where your product solves a problem
and benefits a customer?

How are your customers evolving?

What are they going to need 10 years
from now, and how are you already
perfecting and providing it
for those ahead of the curve?

If you were going to give a speech to
colleagues in your field,
what would be the topic?

If you were going to write a book on
what you know about your field,
how would you begin the book,
what would be the first idea
you'd want to communicate
to orient the reader and
grab their attention?

Acquire deep knowledge of your field.

Practice rigorous thinking about your field.

Attract new ideas and innovation
by keeping your mind fresh
and on fire for your field.

Be chandelierish in your
excellence of expertise.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Zoom In On Your Customers

Be customer-centric.

Not we-oriented.

Zoom in on those who buy your products.

The closer you can get to them,
the better your product will be,
with smarter advertising
and more effective SEO.

Make your website and social media
be channels for expressing
and proving your expertise.

Share insights and tips.

Provide answers to common questions.

Demonstrate your superiority.

Become the Top of Mind Choice.

Establish credibility
by giving out good information
that helps others succeed
and think of you as the expert.

That's how you leverage social branding.

Talk about customer problems,
needs, dreams, demands....

and how your product is the star of that show.

Your product is the answer.
And you know the question.

Because you zoom in on your customer.

You spend time listening to them,
in real life and on social media.

You enjoy having conversations
about the problems your products
can solve, because your customers
need you to be that committed and zealous.

Look at your product
through the eyes of
those who have a need
the product can fill.

Then make all your marketing
and PR communications
be unified in these sales psychologies.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Str8 Sounds mandolin kallimba disco VIDEO

An embedded psychedelic TV.

"Mandolin Kallimba Disco"
techno acoustic music video.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Somebody Loves You local eccentric TV

 Ken Yocum of Chapel Ministries "Somebody Loves You" TV program of Peoria, Illinois USA. Sincere. Surreal. Local eccentricity at its best.

I would love to have a complete collection of all Ken Yocum's "Somebody Loves You" TV episodes on DVD.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Desert Walk Health Benefits

Walking in heat waves can be good for your health. Desert experiences can be highly beneficial for you. You need to avoid dehydration, heart strain, sun glare blindness, and sun stroke, but long walks on dry, sunny, hot days are ideal for:

* immune system boost

* asthma / COPD relief

* headache cure

* weight loss

* digestive disorder relief

* sleeping disorder cure

* depression remedy

* stress relief

* musculo-skeletal system strengthening

* vitamin D production.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Web Content That's Creative and Communicative

Your website needs to be the most compelling
marketing tool in your arsenal.

Speak to the customers on their level,
with their language,
understanding their needs.

Originality arises from customer psychology,
tuned into their problems and wishes.

Convey the message:
your product fulfills a desire,
meets a needs,
satisfies a longing,
exemplifies a lifestyle,
exudes prestige,
solves, helps, improves,
fixes, repairs, prevents,
enhances, wards off, takes care of,
does something
your customer needs to get done.

See things from a different point of view.

Through the eyes of those who buy.

Experience the difference
that difference can make.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Age of Context ebook cover art

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel are self-publishing a new book called "Age of Context." They posted the cover art on Facebook and asked for input. See image above.

I like the blue and red best. Robert Scoble said red pops best as a thumbnail color on Amazon. He's probably right.

At first I argued that the art did not convey "context" well, but they reminded me that it will be an ebook, not a paper book sold in brick and mortar stores. So the important thing is that the cover art pops as an Amazon thumbnail.

Thus, I took the existing book cover art, changed the type font for the title from ALL CAPs to Upper/Lower case for better readability, enlarged the title, and enlarged the authors' names, which have a great deal of name recognition in the technology and social media field.

Most books have horrible cover art and title typefonts. Publishers go with stupid trendy crap and forget that the function of a book cover is to COMMUNICATE quickly to customers. The title needs to be big and legible.

I especially dislike the current trend to make some words in a title huge and some words tiny, so you have to look really close at the cover to see the whole title.

Customers are in a hurry. They don't want to play silly games when they're shopping.

Make your marketing communications, from book covers to websites, highly usable, readable, and fast in conveying your message.

See image below for my modifications to the ebook cover art for the Amazon thumbnail.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Luther's German Bible and Messy Translations

This first edition hardback copy of "Luther's German Bible" by M. Reu (1934) was found at The Church Mouse for only $2.00. 

Amazon is selling a used copy of this hardback book for 207 pounds or $805.

It's a very scholarly treatment, with excruciating detail that some might call obsessively exacting (but so refreshing compared to infographics and other forms of information that don't quote sources or give adequate substantiation of claims), of the versions and forms of sacred scripture circulating in the Middle Ages, prior to Luther's translation of the Bible, and how Luther came to publish his version.

It's rough going if you don't understand such terms as gloss, plenarium, pericope, lectionary, postil, and homily.

One of the most interesting facts documented painstakingly in this book is how the first printed High German Bible, appeared in Strassburg around 1466, and is called the Mentel Bible (published by Johann Mentel.)

This Mentel Bible is said to be full of mistakes, printer errors (later fixed and replaced by new errors), and faulty translations, yet was highly respected and enjoyed. What is interesting is that, in spite of alleged errors and mistakes, the meaning still comes through, often in dramatic manner.

For example, a supposedly bad translation of "Jesus in agonia factus" (Luke 22:43) is rendered "Jesus wurde in Streit gemacht" ("Jesus was made in conflict"). Again, in Isaiah 21:8 the phrase "Then the lookout called like a lion: O Lord I stand continually by day on the watchtower..." is rendered "The lion called out: I am over the mirror of the Lord."

To mirror is to reproduce a visible entity for purposes of observation and subsequent action, as in looking at your hair style in a mirror at the beauty shop. In a mirror, an exact reflection occurs for reflective pondering.

Words in the Bible often mean many different things, depending on the context, idiomatic usage, cultural characteristics, and other factors.

This does not mean that the text is confusing or impossible to understand. It means that there is a rich complexity that causes even simple, straightforward statements to contain hidden secrets that the studious person can pry into and enjoy, without contradicting the obvious truth being communicated.

As Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and others in the school of Deconstruction philosophy have pointed out, misunderstandings, misrenderings, and alternate interpretations can be very fruitful, as many words, in scriptures and street vocabulary, can mean both one thing and the opposite thing, simultaneously.

Western metaphysics is dominated by "either/or" thinking. This verse must mean this and cannot mean that. Eastern metaphysics allows for "both/and" thinking. This verse means both this and that, which may seem contradictory, but actually makes perfect sense if you contemplate it with inner stillness and broad experience in these matters.

For example, our use of the word "bad". If someone says, "that's a bad motorcyle", you feel complimented, not insulted, especially if the word is spoken with vowel prolongation containing vari-pitched elocution: "baaaaaad".

This is not to dispute literal accuracy or faithfulness to a text, but is a reflection of the richness of language, that even a "poor translation" can still contain the essence of a message, and may even expand upon it and cast it in a new light, albeit "accidentally".

It is good, for instance, to read a variety of translations and paraphrases of a text, to enrich your understanding of the underlying meaning, by viewing it from multiple points of view, for language is never frozen or paralyzed -- it is free and flowing and constantly evolving.

A text can have a single, simple, primary meaning -- but can also have multiple applications and layers of interpretation, as long as they don't contradict the literal meaning, its context, and the whole text body.

Luther's opposition to the classic Fourfold Interpretation -- historical (literal), allegorical (figurative), tropological (moral), and anagogic (future) -- of every scripture does not negate the fact that certain texts can point to a down to earth significance, plus additional ways of understanding it and implementing it in daily life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Website Content and Usability are Prior to SEO

You want your website to perform better. You want to drive a lot more traffic to it. Qualified customer  traffic, ready to buy or ready to learn more, shoppers armed with credit cards, hot prospect traffic. 

So you decide to find an SEO specialist to help you optimize your website for high search engine rankings based on proper coding and effective keyword strategies.

Whoa. Slow down. Stop.

First, you must carefully examine and critique the content of your website -- and consider if the design, layout, images, colors, tools, and navigation are all working together for a good user experience. 

Your website must first be tweaked (or majorly overhauled) to ensure that once this flood of shoppers arrives at your SEO enhanced website, they find the information or tools they need, quickly and easily. 

That information and those tools must be exactly what your customers want. The content must be easy to consume. Your website should help people ignore most of the content -- so they can zoom in on the precise piece of information, analysis, news, video, audio, photography, or widget they need at that exact moment.

This means your website must announce clearly and with visual impact WHAT your company is and what it does. Don't assume that "St. Jerome's" will be understood to be a hospital with many satellite clinics. Some people may think it's a church or a rescue shelter. 

Essentials elements in a website home page:

(1) A strong corporate logo or brand image...

(2) ...with a strong promotional slogan or tagline near the logo. (If for some bizarre reason, your company doesn't have a powerful slogan, make one up now and start using it everywhere.)

(3) A reinforcing of the slogan with a concise definition of what customers derive from your company, an explanation of what you do, or some other powerful statement that will orient the customer who arrives at your website, convincing him or her that they have found the ideal source of information for the topic they were searching online.

(4) A photo of the CEO, founder, or manager -- to humanize the company and bring a warm feeling to the user experience.

(5) A picture of happy customers using your product to solve a problem -- or a photo of the end result and chief benefit of the product -- some image that conveys an immediate sense of why the person should be at this website.

(6) Quick links to the products, services, information, media, etc. that customers typically are most interested in, to help them get the job done swiftly.

(7) Differentiation of the website sections: "If you're a parent, go here", "If you're a member, go here" clarifications that identify the type of user and takes them to a set of webpages devoted to their needs.

(8) Contact information. Yes, you have that on your Contact Us page, but often a customer will go to your website just to find your street address or phone number. Especially if you are a retail store or restaurant catering to local clientele. They're in a hurry and don't want to hunt around on your website, clicking and scrolling. Consider putting your street address, phone number, and email address in a visible spot near the top right of your home page.

Before any SEO work can be done on your website, it's vital to nail down the ingredients for an effective home page, as well as top navigation and product pages. You have to tell your story in an interesting manner and have strong calls to action.

Your web content should provide answers to questions your customers typically have regarding various topics related to your field. Give your customers the information they need to pick the product best suited to their needs.

Weak webpages will not be conducive to a successful SEO campaign. 

It would be like trying to beef up a jalopy and then hoping it will race like a fine-tuned muscle car.

Make your website a highly usable platform that communicates your  business message with unique, original content, and then tweak it for SEO strategies that will drive traffic to it.

If SEO tactics and special promotions send more customers to your website, that might be a bad idea.

It's not good to drive more traffic to a poorly designed website with slim content -- it could result in turning more people off to your brand and driving them to your competition. People who were not aware of your company now look at an inferior website -- which only causes them to form negative opinions about you.

Consumers are judging companies by their websites. Ugly layout, unreadable text, spase content, broken links, typos, grammatical errors, no human warmth -- these are big reasons why people reject a website and the company behind it.

When the new web traffic arrives, your website must make a good impression. People have to find it easy and quick for accomplishing their goals. Get the right content and usability on your website, then the powers of Google-compliant SEO can work wonders in a nice ROI environment.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Unhackable Passwords and How to Create Them

Passwords need to be crazy, unwieldy, random, impossible to remember strings of unrelated letters and numbers that don't relate to anything remotely relevant to you (e.g., birth date, year graduated from college, wedding date, name of pet, mother's maiden name, place of birth, favorite color.)

Automated hacking programs deal specifically with a wide array of password formulas and typical user trends, like using "password 123" or "company"as a lazy, defiant, and easily guessed pw.

The most popular passwords:

1. password

2, 123456

3. 12345678

4. abc123

5. qwerty

6. monkey

7. letmein

8. dragon

9. 111111

10. baseball

Dictionary Attack programs try every known English word in the world, and millions of combinations thereof, to solve logical, semantically meaningful, or playfully nonsensical real word password riddles for malicious individuals who want to gain access to your information and account activity by hacking.

Even using special characters, non-word groups of scrambled letters and irrelevant numbers, you have no guarantee that a password is unhackable, unguessable, when criminals are using advanced technological tools and sophisticated algorithms. Massive, lightning-speed calculations can be performed to stumble upon and  unlock the key to your digital identity: your password code.

Write these senseless, irrelevant, randomized characters into a password book, along with user login name and/or email account, and laboriously type them in, referring to the password book, when needed, without relying on a memorized phrase that makes sense to you.

For example, here's a "not so easy to hack" password:


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

No More Role Models

The recent revelations about certain sports stars has reinforced in my mind one of the most important principles of success in life:

Do NOT have a role model or mentor.

Do NOT seek an infallible human guide to success, spirituality, or greatness in any realm of life.

Do NOT pattern your life after any "exalted" idol who seems to exemplify authority and excellence in any given field of endeavor.

Learn from them, but do NOT imitate them unreservedly.

We all have stories about how we looked up to someone, admired them, held them in awe, patterned our lives after their example -- and were shocked at a loathsome scandal, gross imperfection, or miserably tragic flaw that disoriented us, deflated our trust, and left us greatly in dismay and sorrow.

We may have had to start all over again, building some structure for our lives and seeking some guiding light for our journey.

Let this, then, be our new battle cry: "NO more idols, mentors, or role models!!!"

Be self-motivated. Let the best principles, constantly tested and re-evaluated, be your guide. Any hero can suddenly become blind and lead you into a ditch. 

No individual or institution is a perfect or ultimate example of anything.

[As a Christian, the ONLY exception I would make is Jesus Christ himself. But not any specific pastor, church, denomination, ministry, or religious leader who claims to be imitating Christ.]

Discover the PRINCIPLES of success, and let them guide you. Do not pay much attention to how others have implemented these principles. Learn from their successes and failures, but do not "model" yourself after them.

Create your own customized path to greatness.

Examine what others have done, but do not become enthralled with any of them. Don't even be overly impressed with their achievements, for you never know the whole story, and many people downplay their faults, and the help that assisted them to victory, while taking all the credit for their accomplishments.

You can't trust anyone to be a consistent or long-term good example for yourself or your children. The most noble, intelligent, creative, and honorable person can suddenly, without warning, fall into the depths of depravity and stupidity.

It happens all the time. Even the most pure and decent among us have secret flaws and have made terrible mistakes. No leader, no celebrity, no hero is worthy of embracing and following. No philosopher, teacher, warrior, athlete, or business person can possibly be a guide to anything.

Each person has to forge their own success based on their inclinations, talents, and personal vision.

It's so comforting and easy to just let some role model or organization lead us. We feel so happy and secure in the arms of a strong institution, a new and exciting movement, a charismatic and charming leader. But the comfort is false, the security is deceptive, the leadership is bound to have some corruption occur within it. 

There is NO safety or serenity to be found in any role model or guiding organization.

All we can do is identify the best principles, according to reason, morality, and whatever spiritual or philosophical orientation we may have, then let these principles be the guide. 

Even our guiding principles must be subject to testing, critique, dissent, argumentation, and revision as we make our way through this world.

Other people may inspire us to a limited degree, but we must be on guard for their shortcomings, errors, mediocrity, and potential hypocrisy. Idols will always fail and disappoint you. 

If you put your faith and trust in them, they are sure to betray and mislead at some point. And that point could be what causes your total collapse, hurling you into irreversible catastrophe.

You must not model yourself entirely and relentlessly after any other person. Just determine what others are doing well and let that teach you, but cherry pick good attributes from a variety of other people who seem successful. Always be open to learning about their fallibility and bad decisions. Consider what their enemies say about them and ponder on the merits of their disputes.

NEVER put your whole heart into one person as the ultimate example to follow and admire and base your life upon. NEVER tell your children to follow some successful person's example as a pure and trustworthy paragon of virtue and intelligence.

Help your children exercise critical thinking, analysis, and debate skills. Help them identify basic principles and not look to individuals as reliable, perfect, and permanent representatives of the correct implementation those principles.

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