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Bill Welter - The Prepared Mind of a Leader

Americas Public Schools

In the News at You Can Learn Series

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    What are the important aspects of a leader? What's the difference between an innovative leader and the everyday run of the mill leader that is going nowhere? How can you use your leadership skills to solve business problems and move your company to the next business peak?

    These questions and many more are answered by my friend, Bill Welter, as he shares his success principles in many formats, podcasts, webinars, videos, books, white papers and on the radio. Click Photo for More Information.
  • Renegades - A Science Fiction Thriller by Sara A Mason Sci Fi Writer, Sara A Mason

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    I have been reading science fiction and fantasy books since I was 10 years old. My first opportunity to interview a Sci Fi author and it will be a blast about an amazing book. Please join me to get the inside scoop from this amazing author.
  • He Punches Holes in the pseudo-evidence proffered by those seeking to control and privatize our public schools The Mist Trail Rises above Yosemite Valley as you Hike to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall.

    One of the most interesting day hikes we experienced was the Mist Trail. The Mist Trail hike leads you up to Vernal Fall and you can continue on up to Nevada Fall. It is a beautiful hike covering over 2.8 miles in one direction (up) and it ascends 1900 feet. It is a strenuous hike and a very popular hike, so expect crowds.

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    many of the negative myths about our public education system are confronted and dispelled in a straightforward, easily readable presentation of the facts.
Ten steps to make your blog successful. Ten Cash generating traffic busting blog techniques. Here is a list of ten things you must do in 2008 to make money on the internet. If you are wondering why you are floundering with little internet cash then you must read this article. If you aren't doing these ten things then you are leaving Internet money on the table. Why would you want to walk away from easy cash?

We Arrive in Santiago de Compestela Spain

Publish Date: 9/24/2015 1:00 PM

We walked for Thirty Three days straight

We have arrived in Santiago. We walked for 33 straight days. Some days were 12 milers and as many as 18 miles or more in one day. We reached our destination. We decided not to rush to reach the city. Mary had accidentally banged her knee on the table at the restaurant the night before and it was a little tender.

Mary and Ken arrive in Santiago after 33 days of walking

We left the hostel at 8 AM just as the sun was coming over the eastern horizon. The hostel was pretty nice, fairly modern. I thought we had a nice location along a back wall. After arriving in Pedrouzo, we showered and then went looking for something to eat. We found a place almost across the street. Which was good, because our desire was not to walk far. After a good meal we looked for the church. That was a little further than we wanted to go, but we found it. Mass was at 6PM.

Mass was really good. The priest spoke only in Spanish, but he gave a wonderful homily. How do we know it was wonderful? We asked some bi-lingual friends what he had said after mass. We could tell that the congregation was enjoying the sermon and we knew the priest was talking about 5 things he thought represented a good pilgrimage. We just didn't have all the facts and we wanted to get it right.

Read More Now ... We Arrive in Santiago de Compestela Spain

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Day 31 Palas de Rei to Ribadiso

Publish Date: 9/22/2015 3:01 PM

We have walked 31 days to Santiago de Compostela

Today we started early because we had reserved a room at an albergue and we had to get there by 2pm or we lost the reservation. Mary set a blistering pace in the dark morning mist. Sunrise is at 8 am but this morning we had clouds and fog so it was darker than yesterday. The path through the city was okay but then leaving the city it became more difficult.

That is pattern we experienced a number of times. The yellow arrows are easy to find in the city, but we get to our first questionable decision point and we stand around looking for the proper path. Sometimes we back track a little or guess a direction with hopes of finding a marker later on. In the dark all this becomes more difficult. We have learned to look for well worn paths or to look down the street for a familiar official sign.

This morning we picked up a guy from France we have seen for a number of days. He was sitting saying the rosary waiting for help in finding the markers. Then a couple of women from Ireland joined our merry band of adventurers. We all had our lights on in the morning darkness looking for indicators. Once found we would all take off in that direction.

There haven't been many churches opened in Galicia much to our sorrow. But today that all changed. We visited four churches this morning. The highlights include a church made in the 11th century in the Romanesque style. The ceiling was painted in the 12th century and it still looked wonderful. The altar was from the 8th century and a baptismal font came from the 13 th century.

Read More Now ... Day 31 Palas de Rei to Ribadiso

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Three days of walking left in our Camino

Publish Date: 9/21/2015 12:00 AM

We only have 66 kilometers to Santiago

We have walked for 30 days with only 3 days till we reach our destination of Santiago de Compostela. It has been an amazing journey. We are in the Galicia region of Spain known for the rain it receives. Well we are extremely lucky because the weather has been beautiful for walking. It starts out cool in the high 40s but then warms up to the low to mid 70s. With plenty of sunshine.

The weather report actually is showing only a little chance of rain tomorrow. Excellent. The rest of our walking days limited chance of rain.

Yesterday we started late because we went to church with two priests visiting from the states. They stayed in the same albergue as we did. They helped to celebrate the Mass the previous day, but since it was Sunday morning now they still wanted to do a Mass. They didn't want to wait for the 11 am Mass at the church, that would make it difficult to do the Camino. Like us they didn't want to chance finding a church having Mass at exactly the right time in their journey pass a small village along the way. So they were able to get the monastery to allow them to offer Mass at 8am.

They invited Mary and I to Mass with them. This truly was one of the best spiritual treats of my Camino. They invited us to the altar. The Mass was in English in an old monastery that had been around for centuries with just the four of us. Wow.

Read More Now ... Three days of walking left in our Camino

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

We arrived in Sarria

Publish Date: 9/19/2015 5:42 PM

Five walking days to Santiago

Today we started late at 8 am. We were almost the last people out of Triacastela walking the Camino.

We got lost or at least missed a turn this morning. We were climbing a hill on a small mountain road. We saw a yellow arrow but must have chosen the wrong direction. That isn't hard to do. Luckily the road intersected with the path further up the road.

When we reached the top we were presented with a wonderful sunrise over the surrounding countryside. The fog was heavy in the valley but it was clear on the mountain.

We walked among small farming communities. We were on cow paths. We saw 3 types of cows today. A brown or tan cow with large horns. A white kind of shaggy cow. And a jersey cow or black and white cow.

Read More Now ... We arrived in Sarria

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Ocebreiro to Triacastela

Publish Date: 9/19/2015 5:22 PM

Only 6 days remaining on the Camino de Santiago

We are sitting in a restaurant in the little village of Triacastela on day 27 having tapas. It was a short 12 miles that were mostly down. Tomorrow we hope to go to Sarria.

Yesterday, Mary's birthday, was a brutal up hill climb going up 700 meters in less than

10 kilometers. The views at the top of Ocebreiro were fantastic. Mary did an excellent job on the hills. Her cardiovascular system has improved this trip.

We were able to go to the laundromat and get 3 days of wash done. The village only has a

Read More Now ... Ocebreiro to Triacastela

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Views from Astorga Spain

Publish Date: 9/13/2015 3:49 PM

From Leon to Astorga on the Camino de Santiago

We visited Leon, Spain yesterday and then we walked 35Km today. Leon was wonderful. Today we walked in rain for the first time. We went 35 KM yesterday for no other reason than we could.

The days are passing rapidly. We only have 11 days of walking left if we stay healthy. We entered Leon expecting to rent a taxi at the gates. Then go to the hotel we had reserved. Freshen up and go see the Cathedral. It didn't end up working that way at all.

We walked to the Cathedral. We decided we needed something to eat. My coworker, Bill, asked us to see his friends who owned a restaurant. So we used Google maps and the nice lady on the phone directed us to the restaurant, LA Palomo. We had an excellent meal of trout and beans. Wonderful!

Then we went to see San Isidoro church. Then we walked the 2 KM to the 5 star hotel we decided to stay at in Leon. After freshening up we went back to do a tour of the Cathedral.I think I liked this Cathedral most of all. It had a cohesiveness the others don't have. Burgos Cathedral was amazing, but they had added on too many chapels.

Read More Now ... Views from Astorga Spain

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Walked 17 Miles Today

Publish Date: 9/8/2015 12:00 AM

Today we walked 17 miles on the Camino

Today we are sitting at the albergue in Terradillos de las Templarios. We are at the halfway point in our journey. We have walked over 250 miles or 400 kilometers. I truly didn't think we would be able to do this. Mary has been a real trouper walking through bad knees and the pain of shin splints.

We are sitting and having a beer and chips. We left Burgos 4 days ago. The weather has improved. Well it has gotten warmer. Today was perfect with temps in the low 70 and all sunshine and no wind. A perfect day.

The WiFi has been not so good. Even when the signal is excellent there are 50 to 100 people trying to use the bandwidth. We have visited churches along the way. One had been converted into a museum. They had a wonderful painting of the Annunciation. The artist was unknown but just an amazing painting. The art and engravings inthe churches are fantastic. They have a system where you have to place a Euro into a box to turn on the lights of the altar. I think that is fair.

Yesterday we entered a church that instead of the gaudy gold there were paintings of the life of Christ. I tried to take a photo but the lighting and angle weren't good so it didn't turn out. It was funny because we woke at 6am to make sure we reached the church while it had opened hours. We hoped to arrive before 1pm and we reached the village at 10 am. We ate breakfast and saw the caretaker open the door. The walking was generally flat and Mary was feeling little pain so we were moving faster than 3 mph.

Read More Now ... Walked 17 Miles Today

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Finished a Third of our Camino Experience

Publish Date: 9/2/2015 12:00 AM

We have walked a Third of the way to Santiago

Today finds us in Ages, Spain only 14 miles from Burgos. We are quite excited that we have managed this distance. We hoped we could but we had doubts especially those first few days where we hurt so much.

Ken and Mary in the forest in Spain

We went further than the book recommended today because it was cool and we were feeling good. We still have aches and pains everyday.

The weather has changed significantly the last couple of days. It has rained with hail one day and was cool and cloudy all day today. The hail didn't effect us since we had already found a room for the night.

Read More Now ... Finished a Third of our Camino Experience

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

The Path to Najera Spain

Publish Date: 8/30/2015 12:00 AM

Eight Days of Walking

We have been walking for 8 days now. It has been interesting, tiring, painful, fun and a real learning experience.

Signs Camino Pilgrims will see

We never know what the next day will bring. We started with the cool mountain air of the Pyrenees that turned into blistering hot near 100 degrees of the La Rijo wine country. The mountains and the hills have continued to plague us. The up hills slow us down and the downhills are steep and strewn with a lot of different size rocks that are difficult to traverse.

The people have tried to be patient with us. I try to use my un poco Espanol which irritates most of them. I ask a simple question expecting a yes or no, but end up getting more information than I can process. I get a real thrill when I ask the question and get an answer I understand.

Read More Now ... The Path to Najera Spain

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Walking Through the Pyrenees

Publish Date: 8/24/2015 12:00 AM

Walking Through the Pyrenees

Mary and I started our journey to Santiago Spain. The first day we started in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France. The goal was to arrive in Roncevalle, Spain before nightfall.

st jean pied de port from the Pyrenees

The weather started out cool and overcast. We had thunderstorms during the night, but just clouds as we walked. We needed to cover about 28 kilometers for the day.

The first 5 hours of the walk was up hill. Even Though the mountain was steep, it wasn't enough to prevent farmers from pasturing their animals. We saw cows, pigs, horses, donkeys and sheep. They all had cow bells which sounded like wind chimes in the early morning fog.

Read More Now ... Walking Through the Pyrenees

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Day Clothes for the Camino de Santiago

Publish Date: 8/16/2015 5:45 PM

The daily hiking clothes.

What will I wear each day on the Camino, here is a picture.

Camino wear for each day.

Daily wear for the Camino.

Read More Now ... Day Clothes for the Camino de Santiago

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Clothes for the Camino de Santiago

Publish Date: 8/6/2015 12:00 AM

What I plan to wear when I hike the Camino

We leave for Spain soon. Here are clothes I am bringing.

clothes for you camino

Well this isn't all the clothes I am bringing. This is only the cold and wet weather gear. I am told it rains in Spain. Especially as we get closer to the west coast and the city of Santiago de Compestala, we are expecting many days of heavy down pours.

We have purchased a rain jacket and rain pants to keep the rain off of us. Our back packs have a rain shield that you can put on the back pack to prevent it from getting wet and helping to keep your clothing dry.

Read More Now ... Clothes for the Camino de Santiago

Tags: Camino

Categories: Camino

Prepared Mind of a Leader

Publish Date: 2/16/2015 12:00 PM

Eight Skills Leaders use to Innovate Make Decisions and Solve Problems

The Prepared Mind of a Leader, Eight Skills Leaders Use to Innovate, Make Decisions and Solve Problems

Bill Welter's Book, "The Prepared Mind of a Leader, Eight Skills Leaders Use to Innovate, Make Decisions and Solve Problems"

What are the important aspects of a leader? What's the difference between an innovative leader and the everyday run of the mill leader that is going nowhere? How can you use your leadership skills to solve business problems and move your company to the next business peak?

These are the questions that are answered by my friend, Bill Welter, in his book, The Prepared Mind of a Leader. Bill and his co-author, Jean Egmon, identify the eight skills leaders use to innovate, make decisions, and solve problems.

Read More Now ... Prepared Mind of a Leader

Tags: Work

Categories: Employment

Christmas Day 2014

Publish Date: 12/25/2014 8:00 PM

A wonderful time on Christmas day with the Johnsons

The reason for the season. The Birth of the Christ Child.

The reason for the season. The Birth of the Christ Child.

We had a wonderful day this Christmas. The weather was clear and the driveway didn't have any snow on it, so we didn't have to worry about accidents with the elderly relatives. We had a small group this year of only 11 people. Which is okay because that fits rather nicely around our dining room table.

We went to Midnight Mass over at St John the Evangelist Church. The choir sang some hymns from 11:30 PM until the mass began at 12. The dancers did a great job with their ballet type moves. They are young teenage girls with different ballet capabilities. But, the number inspired us telling the message of the newborn child.

Read More Now ... Christmas Day 2014

Tags: Family

Categories: Family

Books I Read in 2014

Publish Date: 12/20/2014 7:00 AM

What do you mean I only read 2 books this year?

A handful of the books I read in 2014.

See above for some of the titles I read in 2014.

I had a good laugh this morning when I opened my email and saw an email from Goodreads. What was so funny? The email showed that I had read only two books for the year. Say What?

Goodreads is a web site where you can go and update the books you are currently reading or have read this year or even previously. You can write reviews for the books you read. You can hook up with your Facebook account and everytime you finish a book then Goodreads updates Facebook and notifies your friends that you have just finished reading a book.

Read More Now ... Books I Read in 2014

Tags: Writing,   Home

Categories: Writing,   Home

Beating the Christmas Blues

Publish Date: 12/19/2014 7:00 AM

Here are ten things you can do to beat the Christmas Blues

Ten Ways to Beat the Christmas Blues

Ten Ways to get Out of the Christmas Blues

This list was inspired by a comment on Facebook where a friend expressed dissatisfaction with a feeling of the Christmas Blues. I am usually upbeat this time of year as I listen to Christmas music in the car and at home. I am involved in the church choir so there is a lot of fellowship with other members. I get to see my family and the act of buying gifts for loved ones is just a wonderful experience.

I know not everyone has my disposition to optimism and joy so this list will hopefully give you a chance to feel some of the joy that I feel this time of year. I just know doing these things will make you feel better because it will take your mind off yourself and allow you to look outward to helping others. In the act of giving you receive.

Read More Now ... Beating the Christmas Blues

Tags: Family,   Music,   church

Categories: Family,   Music,   Church

Get the Adistar Racer for Christmas

Publish Date: 12/18/2014 9:00 PM

The adidas Adistar Racer on Sale with FREE 2 day shipping

Get the adidas Adistar Racer shoes on Sale with FREE 2 day shipping

Get the adidas Adistar Racer shoes on Sale with FREE 2 day shipping

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of the Shareasale affiliate program and an affiliate of adidas. I may be paid a small amount for this article but all comments are mine and there was no obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of adidas. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Yes, you read the headline right. You can get the adidas Adistar Racer for just $39.99 and free 2-Day shipping with code ADISTAR! As you can see from the image above it comes in a wide range of colors to please anyone on your Christmas list. Here are those fine details.

Read More Now ... Get the Adistar Racer for Christmas

Tags: Family

Categories: Family

Big news Time is running short

Publish Date: 12/18/2014 8:00 PM

Time is running out to get your Christmas present from Blurb (Sponsored Post)

Time is running out to get your Christmas present from Blurb

Time is running out to get your Christmas present from Blurb

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of the Shareasale affiliate program and an affiliate of Blurb. I may be paid a small amount for this article but all comments are mine and there was no obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of Blurb. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Big news: time is running short! But the good news is you can still get your book in time, even if you want an extra couple of days to work on it by choosing our Priority shipping option. A few dollars more will give you until December 19 with Express shipping—but don't leave it 'til the last minute. Your gift books are too good to rush!

Read More Now ... Big news Time is running short

Categories: Writing,   Home,   Family

A Sad Day at St John the Evangelist Church

Publish Date: 12/8/2014 5:00 PM

We are saddened at the death of our Parish Priest Father Ted Schmidt

Sunday morning I was setting up for our annual event at the parish hall to give our congregation an opportunity to find out all the different vocations we offer at the parish. We do this for two reasons, one to make our members aware of the different services we offer at the church and two to give members the chance to join a group. There may be talented individuals that weren't aware of a service that they might like to help with at the church. This allows them to evaluate it to see if it fits with their talents and desires to participate in the parish community.

Anyway, while getting ready for the parishioners to come into the room I began talking with friends who were also setting up and I got the news that our beloved Priest, Father Ted Schmidt, had died. He will be sorely missed as he was instrumental in helping to get the parish grade school back on a strong financial footing. The school had just been awarded the Federal Blue Ribbon award for high quality school systems. The school was paying for itself with higher enrollment numbers. There was pride among the teachers, the parents and the students.

The parish finances were looking better and the community was paying down the amount owed to the Chicago archdiocese for a building project implemented in 2001. Father Ted was active with the youth at a couple of Catholic high schools in the area mostly with the football programs. He was honest and straightforward and wasn't afraid to express his opinion on the church's teachings. The congregation loved him.

At this time we don't really know what happened to him. He was complaining of flu like symptoms on Saturday and had the associate pastor say the 4:30PM mass that day. We suspect a heart attack occurred. The associate pastor found him after 11PM and was not able to revive him. Father Ted was 70 years old. His funeral is scheduled for Friday, December 12th, 2014. Truly a sad day for our parish and all those who loved him.

Read More Now ... A Sad Day at St John the Evangelist Church

Tags: Family

Categories: Family

Christmas at Pops

Publish Date: 12/6/2014 10:00 AM

Christmas Concert at Springbrook Community Church

Title page from the Christmas at Pops Concert at Springbrook Community Church in Plainfield

Title page from the Christmas at Pops Concert at Springbrook Community Church in Plainfield

We had a great time last night at a Christmas Concert at Springbrook Commmunity Church in Plainfield, Illinois. It was titled Chistmas at Pops and was their fifth season. It was a wonderful concert with a lot of audio visual props.

We were invited to the concert by our daughter, Theresa. She plays and teaches the bassoon. She has been playing since junior high school and received a scholarship to the University for her abilities with the bassoon and studied under the principal bassoonist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But now as an adult she teaches and plays occasionally.

Read More Now ... Christmas at Pops

Tags: Family,   Music

Categories: Family,   Music

See More Articles Previously Published ... Click for More Articles

Read my review and my Interview with Sci-Fi Author Sara A Mason

I just finished a fun and interesting Science Fiction book, Renegades, by author Sara A. Mason. The story has everything an SF fan loves, an evil dictator, the computer geek, a smart and spunky woman, a love interest, trained assassins and more.

The first couple of chapters you get to know the characters, Elora, Nigel, General Pertin and the Emperor of the space empire. Then the story becomes one of those classics you don't want to put down. I thought the pace of the book flowed nicely with periods of high tension and moments when you can catch your breath.

Read the rest of the review and the Interview with SCI-FI author Sara A Mason.

Five Fun Things to do in Seattle

In August 2013, Mary and I visited Seattle for the first time. We had a blast and found a few things you can do on a limited budget. Everything I will talk about today we did in one day. We didn't rush around. We took our time and visited for as long as we felt comfortable being in one spot. The day was clear and sunny. What? You thought it rained all the time in Seattle? So did we, but apparently sometimes there are nice days.

Our first stop was the Pikes Place Market. Where the keyword is fresh. Fresh foods, fresh fish, and fresh flowers. If we lived near here we would have fresh flowers everyday. They were amazing and relatively inexpensive. You have to see the fish markets where they throw fish across the counter. We stopped early on a Saturday morning, so the crowds weren't bad. You can easily spend 10 minutes to an hour depending on your interests. If you like Starbucks coffee, there is the original Starbucks shop across the street from the Market place.

Read the rest of the list of fun things to do in Seattle ...

Coming April 28th, an Interview with Science Fiction Author, Sara A Mason

I am so excited to be interviewing Science Fiction author, Sara A Mason, on April 28th on this blog. Sara is on tour right now for her first sci-fi thriller, Renegades. An action packed thriller occurring at the ends of the galaxy. I encourage you to visit with us on the 28th of April to find out more about the author and the book.

I have been reading science fiction and fantasy books since I was 10 years old. This is my first opportunity to interview a Sci Fi author and I am expecting it to be lot's of fun with some amazing stories about an amazing book. Please join me to get the inside scoop from this amazing author. I truly enjoyed reading Renegades and I think you will, too.

Read the entire interview and a full review of the book by Ken Coming Soon ...

EarthEasy LifeStraw - A Water Filtration System That Fits Around Your Neck

I recently became an affiliate for And I am fascinated by one of their products. It is called the LifeStraw Personal water Filter. What does it do? It filters water and eliminates 99.9% of harmful bacteria, ecoli and viruses. It has an Iodine and Charcoal filtration system that makes nearly all water drinkable.

I have added a video from Eartheasy showing someone using the product. It is really simple to use. Fill up your water bottle from any source. Then open the bottom of the "straw." Place it into the water bottle. Then open the other end of the straw and begin drinking like you would through the straw of a soda purchased at your local favorite fast food establishment. Yes, it is really that easy.

Read more here ... EarthEasy LifeStraw - A Water Filtration System That Fits Around Your Neck.

Taking Down the Christmas Tree and Thoughts on a Writers Network

It is January 4th, 2014, and Mary and I took down the Christmas tree and all the associated paraphernalia. We left the outside large wreath with the flood light up because it has been snowing all day and it is dangerous to try to take that down when the driveway is snowy or icy.

It felt good to clean up the house and have it back to normal. There are still a couple of pieces of furniture that need to be moved back and brought back up from the basement. Maybe tomorrow.

Read more here ... Taking Down the Christmas Tree and Thoughts on a Writers Network.

The Basics of Building a Home Gym

Yes, it is winter time in Chicago. We are expecting sub-zero temperatures in the coming days of early January 2014. I know you want to keep training even though you can't get outdoors. But, what do you do? There is a foot of snow on the ground. You cannot train in the streets because it gets dark at 4PM.

What you need is the right equipment to keep training indoors. Why go to the gym when you can build your own gym in your home? I have a small weight training set up in my basement. I have a wide range of dumbbells. Plus, a Smith Machine, a weight bench, a Tower of Power, a treadmill and an indoor cycle. Now, I didn't go out and purchase those all at once. I received most of my dumbbells over a ten year period. Every year my wife would purchase a new weight for me.

Read more here ... The Basics of Building a Home Gym.

Beginning 2014 Broken Arm and New Hope

This is January 2nd, 2014 as I write this today. Mary is working from home today because of the snow that has hit Chicago. We were supposed to receive 1 to 3 inches over the Holiday. I heard a report that we had up to a foot of snow. We are still getting lake effect snow of another inch or two this morning.

I haven't used my snowblower yet today waiting for the snow to taper off. Then I can clean up once and not have to make multiple trips. The problem is the temperature is supposed to plummet tonight to below zero. Then on Monday and Tuesday it isn't even going to reach 0 degrees for the whole day. Wowsers. That is cold.

But Hey. It is winter. In Chicago. It is supposed to be cold.

Read more here ... Beginning 2014 Broken Arm and New Hope.

Bluff Spring Fen Illinois Nature Preserve

I was looking at Google maps the other day and I noticed a green area near my home. Upon closer examination I discovered there was an Illinois Nature Preserve only 5 miles from my house. The name of the Nature Preserve is Bluff Spring Fen. I did a little research and found out it was something Mary and I would enjoy. So, a week later on a nice Saturday morning we drove over to see it.

Bluff Spring Fen entrance

Information sign tells you what to expect when walking through the park. No dogs and no swimming.

Read more here ... Bluff Spring Fen Illinois Nature Preserve.

An Interview with Author, Joan H Young, on the Release of Her New Book, Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp.

I had the opportunity this weekend to ask some questions of author, Joan H Young. She has just published book 3 in the Anastasia Raven Mystery series, Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp. I believe Joan can do anything, but one of the things she does well is mystery writing.

Joan is the first (and so far, only) woman to walk the 4,000 miles of trails of the North Country Trail. She spends time each week doing what she really loves, writing. The years spent hiking allow Joan the ability to describe the world around her helping you to feel what her characters see, hear, feel and smell. The setting for the mystery series is the Northern part of Michigan. A place of swamps, trails, lakes, small towns, interesting people and mysteries.

The Anastasia Raven Mysteries are fast paced cozy mysteries that can be enjoyed curling up by a fire with a cup of coffee and spending the afternoon reading. I recommend Joan's stories to mystery lovers everywhere. The books are well paced, with moments to relax and take a breath before things get exciting again. I would liken it to just sitting and listening to a friend tell you about an exciting adventure they had.

How long have you been writing?

My first attempt at an entire book was at the age of seven, when I wrote three installments in the story "The Adventures of Skippy the Field Mouse." I left fiction behind for a long, long time but in the past few years have again been writing short stories, and now the Anastasia Raven mysteries.
Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp

The cover photo for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp. Get the book at Amazon or Smashwords.

How closely do your characters match people you have known in real life?

So far, no character is a copy of any one particular person. Of course, there are little bits of many people I know in all of the fictional people. The physical description of one person in a story came from a chance meeting at a gas station, but the personality of that person was completely manufactured. Some of the things that characters do are drawn from real life. That makes their actions easy to describe. The recurring characters in the books are definitely mixtures of myself and people I know, although I may not have specific models in mind.

What kind of advance work do you do before you write a mystery? Do you have a story arc, an outline, or a structure for the story before beginning? Do you know who the killer is before you start the story?

Read more here ... An Interview with Mystery Writer, Hiker and Author, Joan H Young.

A description of the book, Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp, from the author and publisher.

When Anastasia Raven agrees to keep Paddy, her cousin's Irish Setter, for the summer, she didn't understand the mischievous nature of a large puppy. Ana has become a volunteer with Family Friends, and she meets Corliss Leonard and his granddaughters, Star and Sunny, whose mother disappeared seven years ago. Ana, however, has no interest in trying to solve cold cases, but just wants to help the girls. Star and Sunny fall in love with Paddy, but can the dog solve their problems?

New Book by My Brother, Dave - Why America's Public Schools are the Best Place for Kids

My Brother, Doctor Dave Brown has recently published his third book. This newest book contains his thoughts and research on why our American public schools are the best places for your children. The title of the book is Why America's Public Schools are the Best Place for Kids.

Dave does an excellent job of discussing the advantages of a public school education. You can find out more about the book at America's Public Schools. Read the book to get the facts instead of listening to government talking points. Find out what a teacher who has been in the classroom can tell you about our public schools.

The Reality of Public Schools

After reading this book you will be a salesperson for your local schools and you will have information to back up your talking points. How do the USA schools stack up against Japan, Finland, Canada or Singapore. Do standardized test scores tell the whole story? When you send your children to school what do you want for their education? The most important question, "What is a good school?" Can you answer that right now if someone were to put a microphone to your mouth?

Read more here ... New Book by My Brother, Dave - Why America's Public Schools are the Best Place for Kids

How to Succeed in Life

Okay, there is a title that over promises. "How to succeed in life." Wow. How can anyone promise that? Well, I was listening to some old cassette tapes (yes cassette tapes) and I was listening to E. James Rohn. I think he has some great ideas on living a balanced life. He talks about working hard but also remembering why you are working so hard.

But, the reason for this post is that he said something that really hit home.

Failing in life is failing to "ACT" today!

We are so busy in life. We have work commitments. We have family to spend time with. We have to keep up with our favorite TV shows. We have to update our Facebook accounts and Google +1 pages. We need to Tweet our latest activities. How can we concentrate on the really important tasks that will insure success?

What Are Your Goals?

Acting today. If your goal is to have the prettiest flower garden in the neighborhood then act today to remove weeds and to water your flowers. If your goal is to earn a million dollars then now is the time to act on reaching that goal. When you sit down to watch TV again tonight, think, should I be doing something else to reach success? Should I be studying now? Should I be writing letters now? Should I be practicing my instrument now?

I have a cousin in South Carolina. Ray is one of the best banjo players in the country. How did he get so good? He practices. Constantly. Consistently. Persistently. He practiced to the point where he can play with others. Then he makes the time to play with them. Did Ray pick up a banjo and all of a sudden he was world class? No, it was daily practice over many years.

We don't become overnight successes. It happens because of all the work we did 1 year ago. 2 years ago. 5 Years ago. Yes, even 10 years ago. Writing consistently makes you a better blogger. Your first blog article was probably awful. But, 2 years into it and you are writing daily and all of a sudden you have 500 plus articles written. That is a lot of practice. That will increase your chances to be noticed as a respected writer. Read books on writing today. Practice what you read. Take a writing class. Read writing articles from successful writers. What about their style makes them successful?

How to Predict Your Future Success

Success doesn't come in some fairyland in the future. Future success can be predicted by what you are doing today. Are you going to write a blog article, today? Are you going to research your article, today? Will you set goals, today?

Will you act TODAY and increase your chances for a successful life?

Read more here ... How to Succeed in Life

Are You Looking for 5 Fun and Easy Things to Do in One Day in Tucson, AZ?

On a recent trip to Arizona, my wife and I had the pleasure of spending a day in Tucson, Arizona. We planned out a day that would be fun for us, but wouldn't beat us up by trying to do too much in one day. I think we found the perfect mix of culture, hiking and historical fun things to do in one day in Tucson.

We started the day late by not even leaving the hotel until after 10 AM. (Normally, we are up by 6AM and already hiking or something by 8AM. But, this trip was leisurely. We weren't in a hurry. We could do one, two, three, four or five of the side trips on our itinerary and we would be happy.

First Stop is San Xavier Mission

Our first destination was San Xavier Mission on the Southwest side of Tucson. It is a beautiful church originally built in the 1700s long before Arizona became a state of the United States. The paintings inside the church are unique but beautiful. Statues of angels, St Francis, Saint Xavier and Mary the mother of Jesus are must see. The color palette used in the church is unusual in the Midwest, but felt right at home in the Arizona desert.

You can take as long as you want in the church and the surrounding buildings. We spent a couple of hours taking photos and studying the art and architecture. Then we climbed the little hill next door and spent time with the Grotto which depicts the visitation of Mary in Fatima.
Read more here ... Are You Looking for 5 Fun and Easy Things to Do in One Day in Tucson, AZ?

Get Involved in Social Media

Social Media sites are proving to be effective free methods to get new traffic to your blog. You have heard of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more. Well, take a look and find out more about them. You can build a fan base on Facebook. You can have others follow you on Twitter. LinkedIn is very effective in creating relationships in business. There are tons of books at your local library that will tell you how to get started in these markets. Plus, a growing number of articles on line that will help.

Comment on Forums

Did you know that commenting on forums can prove to be a traffic source? Many times as forum members develop relationships in a forum, other members take a look to find out more about you. With a free link to your blog the more you post in a forum the more clicks back to your blog you get.

Comment on Other Blogs

I am a firm believer in the power of commenting on other blogs. I have seen personally the power this has in driving traffic to a blog. It is easy to do. Visit blogs you are interested in. See what they are writing about. Then go to the bottom of the article and add your comment. To be successful, you should pick a few blogs and comment regularly on each of them. You will get traffic back and the fun part is you get new friends. Make sure when you place your comments that they are topic relevant and more than a single sentence. You can't make new friends by only saying "yo dude" everyday.

Really respond to the article on the blog. How did it make you feel? Have you ever had a similar experience? Were you surprised at what the atuthor said? Can you offer advice to help the blogger? Being sincere and open is the way to build new friendships and with a little serendipity you will receive traffic to your blog.

Make Your Blog Visitor Friendly

If you want more traffic to your blog then make your blog easy to navigate. Get rid of widgets that don't add value. Make your blog fast loading. Plus, make your content rich in value and easy to read. Add an appropriate image to each article, if you can make it fast loading.

These are 5 proven Ways to Advertise Your Blog. Some of the ways are free. Some require time with rich rewards. But, all have been successful in driving traffic to a blog. Try it for yourself.

Time To Get To the Gym

It's time to get back in the gym. Maybe you gained a couple of pounds or maybe a lot of pounds during December. It is easy to do. You start at Thanksgiving and then the early office Christmas Party. But, it isn't just one. There is your company party, the spouse's party, the church or civic group party, the neighborhood party, the close friends at work party, the office department party, the party with the in-laws, the party with your family and finally the New Year's Eve party.

20 Pounds of Fat

Kaboom, you now have 5, 10 , 15 or even an extra 20 pounds around your waist and you aren't sure what did it. Plus, you have a whole tin of Christmas cookies still left. What can you do?

Well, take the tin of cookies to work and share them with your co-workers. Then plan on eating better for the next 4 weeks. I know if you eat well for 4 weeks you will eat well for longer. Oh yeah then there is that old bugaboo, exercise. You want to exercise, you know how to exercise. But, sometimes it is hard to actually get the workout clothes on and actually do anything. It's hard for me, too.

I think it's because most people are looking to do too much too soon. You don't have to walk 20 miles a day.

Read more here ... Time To Get Back to the Gym.

Business Lessons Learned from Experience

When we are young we act impulsively and are so excited to be in the game that we sometimes make bad decisions. We spend money impulsively and don't save enough for a rainy day. If we want to start a business or grow a business then we need to keep our money. What would experienced business people tell us about succeeding?

Who do you go to when you have a tough decision to make? Do you talk with your grandfather or dad? Do you have a mentor that can help you noodle out the right choice?

Read more here ... Business Lessons Learned from Experience.

How to Harness the Power of Testimonials and Social Proof

Using Testimonials to Grow Your Business

Why do testimonials work so well? Find out what the great copywriters of all time have to say about testimonials later in this article. You might ask, who are the great copywriters? Read more as we take you on a journey into the most powerful tool at a copywriters disposal.

Read more here ... How to Harness the Power of Testimonials and Social Proof.

How to Overcome Failure and Become a Success

How Robo Basho and Non-alcoholic Wine can help you succeed

How to Overcome Failure and Become a Success. Research that has been done on successful individuals has shown a few points of interest. You might believe that the successful person has no problems and once they decided to do something - success just happened.

Read more here ... How to Overcome Failure and Become a Success.

Your Personal Bell Curve Score

There are 4 types of people

  1. People that create ideas
  2. People that are on the cutting edge and embrace these ideas first
  3. People that are a little behind the curve on embracing these ideas
  4. People that embrace the idea long after their ability to use it profitably has passed.

Are You a Member of the Cutting Edge?

What type of person are you? Are you cutting edge? Do you strive to be the first to see first run movies? Are you just waiting for the 2009 cars to come out so you can trade in your 2008? Are you looking at fuel cell cars? Have you already installed IE8 or FireFox 3?

Read more here ... Your Personal Bell Curve Score.

Your Blogging Purpose or Why Did You Start Blogging?

What's the purpose of your web site or blog? Is it to entertain, educate, vent, practice your writing, or what?

There are times when you need to stand back from your blogging and re-evaluate your goal for blogging. Whether you started blogging a week ago, two months ago or 5 years ago, self assessment is important to your success. Did you start out with the goal to educate visitors on a certain subject; but, now you are only venting about things you don't like? Were you interested in practicing your writing, but you fall back into the same old habits you started with 4 years ago?

Read more here ... Your Blogging Purpose or Why Did You Start Blogging?.

Printed Newspapers are Dying and How You Can Profit From It

I was listening to the radio yesterday as my favorite radio personalities interviewed Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune. They were talking about online publishing (ie blogging) and how the printed newspapers were drying up and dying. Clarence Page said, "You know our business model hasn't changed much since Gutenberg invented the printing press."

Even the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers are going online. But, they all are finding they can't make the same amount of money online as they do printing newspapers. It is very clear that they are continually losing market share for the printed paper. People are finding the information they want and need on the internet.

Now this is both good and bad for you. Read More here - Printed Newspapers are Dying and How You Can Profit From It.

Google Trends Web Measurement Tool

Are you dissatisfied with the information available from Alexa as far as viewing web traffic for blogs? I certainly know I am very dissatisfied with Alexa. Well, there is a new sherrif in town and Alexa should be scared. The new 800 pound gorilla is none other than Google, which has just released their new Google Trends for Websites.

Why should you care? It's backed by Google and it's free. Now you can compare your web site or blog with your favorite competitor. How does your make money blog compare to John Chow, John Cow or Problogger? Who has the most traffic? Google has an answer.

The Google Trends for Websites is still in discovery mode. It is part of Google Labs and as such will probably change over time. But, it has some cool features including, a graph with your traffic or if you type in multiple domain names you can graph you and your competitor's traffic side by side. Along with the graph you will find a list of regions where your visitors come from, websites your visitors also visited and some other search terms.

The data that is displayed comes from

Read More here - Google Trends Web Measurement Tool.

How to Buy a Perennial Over the Internet

Have you ever bought a plant for your yard or garden over the internet or even by mail order? Does it scare you to try? It is actually very easy and if you follow these simple steps you will be very happy with the beautiful bouquet of sweet smelling flowers each summer. Here are some things to watch for to make sure your transaction is a happy and successful one.

Here are a few areas you should watch for as you plan your purchases. Will you be home when the plants are shipped? Do the plants come to you as root stock, seeds or potted plants? What is the company's guarantee for the flowers? Does the company have a reputable customer service department? Do they protect your private information and do they have a privacy policy? How much does it cost to ship the plants and how are they shipped? Are there times of the year when the company doesn't ship anything?

Read More here - How to Buy a Perennial Over the Internet.

The Flowering CrabApple Tree produces an Explosion of colorful, fragrant flowers in early spring.
Flowering Crabapple in early spring.

Flowering Crabapple Produces Beautiful Spring Flowers

Are you looking for some color and fragrance in early spring? Then the Flowering Crabapple tree may be right for you. This tree makes an excellent specimen plant. You can get cultivars that produce small fruit that won't mess up your yard. Today's crabapple trees come with more disease resistance. This plant is cherished for the abundant flowers produced in spring time. They bloom about the same time as Rhododendrons.

Read More here - Flowering Crabapple Produces Beautiful Spring Flowers.

Consilience, Branding and the Advertising Rule of 7

Consilience is the linking together of principles from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory.

I first learned about this word reading an article about advertising and marketing. At the time I was searching for information on branding and the advertising "rule of 7". My searching brought me to this article, Advertising Rules - No Rules found on the Consilience and the Business of Persuasion web site.

The way people use words has constantly changed over history and continues to change from day to day. This accords with my experience in marketing where we use the media to alter how people feel when they hear a word. That is what branding is all about.
Tom Beakbane - Advertising Rules - No Rules

Read More here - Consilience, Branding and the Advertising Rule of 7.

Three Day 12 Exercise Circuit Training with Free Weights Workout

If you have committed to toning up and losing weight then this workout is for you. You are in control of this workout and it doesn't require a full gym. Just some free weights and you are getting the body in shape for your summer swim suit, fall basketball or winter sports. The exercises work the entire body, back, biceps, triceps, chest, legs and shoulders.

Read More here - Three Day 12 Exercise Circuit Training with Free Weights Workout.

You can see Sentinel Dome from the path between Sentinel Dome and Taft Point.
Sentinel Dome as seen from path.

Sentinel Dome Hike

If you are looking for a great little adventure while visiting Yosemite National Park, then you want to take the hiking trail to Sentinel Dome. It is not a long walk, maybe a mile from the parking lot to the top of the Dome. Sentinel Dome Stands 8,122 Feet Above Sea Level and gives you great views of the Sierra Nevadas, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Tenaya Canyon and The Giant Staircase.

Tunnel View and Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley's Tunnel View gives you a panoramic wonderland showing off El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. Yosemite Valley demonstrates the effects of glaciers with Bridalveil Fall a classic example of a hanging valley.

Ten Sun Loving Perennials

Here is a great list of 10 sun loving perennials you can place in those hot dry areas of your garden. These ten sun loving perennials will provide a rich color and interest from Spring to late fall. The birds and butterflies will love being in your yard. All 10 perennials require little water and care, but will show you a bounty of flowers and interest.

Question of the Day

How do you designate a method as Abstract?

Answers from Yesterday's Question of the Day

What is the visibility of a member declared as public?

Public designation allows a member to be accessed by the member methods of other classes.

Previous Questions of the Day

You Can Learn Series presents ideas in programming, including C#, ASP.Net and SQL. You will also learn landscaping, plants, and gardening with more information on weightlifting, building a web business and self improvement.

If this is your first time to our site, then surf around, I am sure you will enjoy the visit and I encourage you to come back often. If you have questions on how to find everything, then check out our sitemap. If you like flower gardening and landscaping, check out those sites. If your needs are not being met at this site, drop me a line and tell me how I can make it better. I would appreciate any feedback you are willing to share with me. Wishing you the best in the coming year.

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