Why I curse public transportation

By Martha / On / In 1year

Well, it’s really not all that bad. I discovered yesterday afternoon that one of my friends at work coincidentally happened to have her car in for service this week, too, so we were able to T it together which took the sting out of it a bit. We also then conspired to both get off at the same stop and hit Ann Taylor. Again, all in the name of reducing the sting of taking the T. I managed to pick up a pink cashmere sweater that had originally been $158 for $39.99 – go me. As my friend said, you just can’t afford not to take advantage of a deal like that. She got 2 sweaters and some excellent shoes. Then we ventured home, agreeing that we really needed to get our cars back, since we could not afford to take the subway together every day. Bad influences.

This morning was not quite as fun. It is absolutely freezing here. I wore the heaviest cable knit sweater I own and I was still so cold. The sidewalks aren’t exactly shoveled on my way to my office so navigating the slippery street was an exercise in anxiety. Continue reading “Why I curse public transportation” »

The Words That Change Paths

By Martha / On / In teaching

Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me . . .the biggest lie there is.

So I’m working on a system out on the border of the US and Canada. Trucks are coming in with all kinds of cargo. My coworker is yelling at the machine we are trying to fix (They said the laptop was broken; it was much more than that.) I’m speaking to a young man, he’s 19. He has two kids and a wife.  Two kids. A wife. He had his first kid at 17. He would be the same age as the students I worked with. And then it hits me like a ton of bricks.

I’m twice his age.

We were talking about future plans and he wants to head to culinary school, but was afraid. He actually said, “I’m afraid to go to college.” I did not even complete my high school education. Now I want to earn my GED, and I’m taking internet lessons at this website http://mycareertools.com/ged-online-classes/

Why are you afraid?

My father. I’m afraid because of my father. I’m afraid he’s right.

The cars are passing us by. He’s holding his cup of coffee. The clouds are streaming by , and everything kind of melts away.

He continued to explain, “You see, my brother was a straight ‘A’ student and I wasn’t, and I never finished high school. My dad paid for my brother’s classes. But when I wanted to take them, and volunteered to pay half, my dad said it would be a waste of money, I would never pass these classes.

So I just stopped trying.”

I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Your dad doesn’t have to be right about that. You write the story of your life. You get to choose. You’re a bright young man and you should go to culinary school. If it doesn’t work out, I guarantee you won’t die from the failure. Your kids and wife will still love you. But first, get your GED!”

He nodded. And I’m gave him my email if he needed help or wanted to talk more about going college once he secured his secondary degree.

He’s a truck driver now. Two kids. A wife. He has an amount of responsibility that I can’t even grasp. But he had words derail him, change his course.  A simple “no”. The message—you are not worthy. You come up short, wanting.

That changed the course of this life. He just wanted to better himself.

And I have to ask, what are the words we’ve heard that have derailed us from our passion, our dreams? And dare I ask: what words have we uttered that have changed others?

I hope he changes his mind. I hope he takes a different path, a different story.


It’s been over two months now that he told me he started to work towards his GED, and I’m turning 39 today. I’m reflecting on that a lot.

It hasn’t been easy. I still have my moments. I still have those crippling seizures where I miss everyone terribly, where I wonder what have I done. They are fewer and smaller now.

They come at strange moments; I’ll Skype with someone or I’ll see something on Facebook. The triggers are less and less, but they are there. I just have to face them all, like some kind of video game boss that I can’t avoid and fight. But I connect a lot with my younger friend, the truck driver.

My friend mails me that he’s also getting a lot of help from an instructor at the local chapel. The instructor, Dwayne Hughes is a big guy who spent 15 years as a missionary in China near the Tibet border. He says he’s a kind man, a good father figure. We’ve talked a bit and we connect on a lot. I know make him laugh. And I know that sounds petty and strange, but I’ve always gotten life from making people laugh. So we have our good communication moments, and I’m glad he’s picking up the online GED classes pretty well.

He says the chapel education service is awesome. It’s not polished or formal, and it’s not concerned about being fancy. Some guys sometime play instruments as well or sing some songs. The instructors at the chapel also sing some old songs like Jars of Clay: Faith like a Child or Enter the Worship Circle, or You Are So Good To Me. But I have to say how much I appreciate my friend loves it. He tells me he needs some “old” songs to remind him where he came from and to stimulate him mentally to concentrate on his GED lessons, but he also tells me in all honesty, online classes are actually a little more fun, and he can learn whenever he wants to.

Guide to Best Performance

By Martha / On / In Uncategorized

To establish strong CPA networks and succeed with affiliate marketing your business lives and dies by the actual affiliate offers that you are promoting. If the products and services that your affiliate paying website is pushing customers towards fail to provoke spontaneous purchases then your CPA network if defeating its own purpose.

CPANetworkReviews.com has prepared a multi-part series of steps that any affiliate business should be partaking in to solidify their productivity and increase their bottom-line – profit.

Target Metrics

Don’t worry CPA networkers, this is not about to go from affiliate economics to a complicated report for math nerds. Target metrics, as they pertain to affiliate marketing, are simply systems or formulas you can utilize to project potential profits and earnings. The most common affiliate target metrics systems include:

Clickthrough Rate (CTR) traffic derived from participants of your affiliate site that click their way over to the affiliate offers you provide via banners or text links.

  • Conversion Rate (CR) the ratio of either clicks that become sales or clicks that become leads.
  • Earnings Per Clicks (EPC) this target metric process assesses the amount of money affiliate and CPA networks are being paid per number of clicks by a particular affiliate program.
  • Reversal Rate (RR) the percentage of reversed transactions that are referred by affiliates.

What ways to do you set your own affiliate marketing and CPA network financial goals?
To increase the likelihood of your CPA network being successful in the affiliate marketing world, it is absolutely crucial to have a dynamic landing page. But lets be clear – a landing page is definitely not just the home page of your affiliate paying website. A landing page is any particular website page that is designed with the sole purpose of prompting its guest to take a certain action.

The importance of making sure that your CPA network landing page converts incoming traffic into customers of the affiliate offer that you are promoting is the second part to this CPANetworkReviews.com multi-part guide to affiliate offer performance.

Buy Now

The moment that potential customers enter your affiliate paying landing page they need to know exactly what they are there to do – purpose the product from the affiliate offer that you are promoting. This may sound simple enough, but the key is to persuade them by making them understand why they need the product in the first place. Is it the great price? How about the superior quality? Hopefully you have done your research to be able to back up all of your claims honestly.

Undivided Attention

How long does it take your eyes to shift away from a television commercial or an outdoor billboard? Well, that brief number of seconds is all you will have to grab the attention of your audience with your CPA network landing page. Bright colors, funky fonts and vivid pictures may be great ways to keep eyeballs captivated. But if they are inappropriate for the affiliate marketing product you are selling – they will send the customer elsewhere.

1 Link

The only end result that your affiliate paying landing page should have is to convince someone to purchase a product. Therefore, the only outbound link your affiliate site should have is the one leading directly to the product for sale.

To assume that you are the “best” CPA network in the entire affiliate marketing sector will be the beginning for your unfortunate end as a prosperous affiliate business. Even if you have narrowed your niche down from home decor to kitchen decor – there will still be plenty of successful competition.

This third part of the CPANetworkReviews.com Guide to Affiliate Offer Performance shines a bright spotlight on the tools that will assist you in keeping up with your competitors – and winning some profit.

Size Up The Competition

Identify the keywords to your affiliate offer niche by utilizing the Google Keyword tool that will allow you to pinpoint keyword phrases with the highest level of competition. The Google Keyword tool will also enable you to sort out these appropriate affiliate offer keywords by their search volume and advertiser competition amount.

Your other friend in competing against other CPA networks within your affiliate offer niche will be a downloadable tool called  – Traffic Travis. After installing Traffic Travis, your affiliate business will benefit from being able to review the top 20 website results as well as receive a comprehensive analysis of each of these affiliate paying websites.

Now you will be fully equipped with some useful data to determine what your CPA network competitors are doing successfully and the affiliate offer keywords that their site has been optimized for.

How does your affiliate paying website business stay competitive?
To ensure that your CPA network avoids the direct track to going out of business, the preferred method of successful affiliate paying sites is to stay aware of the affiliate banner ad placements that financially perform the best. As obvious as this may sound, affiliate networks will have to do much more than simply peruse the latest CPA network reviews and affiliate marketing forums.

This fourth section of The CPANetworkReviews.com Guide to Affiliate Offer Performance delves into the relationship between “verticals” and “ad placements” in garnering high affiliate offer performance for CPA networks.

What is Up With Verticals?

In the simplest terms, Vertical marketing involves merchandising and endorsement efforts that are aimed specifically at particular markets. This allows for the affiliate message being sent to have more clarity, reach the appropriate audience and to achieve better credibility. But on the flip side, if a CPA network is not familiar with the verticals that they choose to focus on – failure is surely right around the corner.

Picking Placements

If you aim to be one of the affiliate networks that are in the business for the long haul, it is crucial that you constantly research new affiliate banner ad placement opportunities. Try your vertical marketing strategies with a different assortment of banner advertisement placements to get a feel for which placements yield the highest performance for the offers you are promoting.

Understand why some ads work and why others do not. This accumulated knowledge will sharpen your instincts when assembling your next affiliate campaign.

What is the most valuable lesson your CPA network business has learned about ad placements?

Discovering the exact types of members that make the demographics for the niche market that your CPA network is targeting is integral to pursuing a direct track to the audience for the affiliate marketing offer that your CPA network business is promoting. CPA networks can strategically increase affiliate offer performance if the proper research is done to discover who exactly an affiliate paying website is aiming to please.

Affiliate networks may be selling golf equipment, for example, but this could end up being a blind shot in the dark with no intelligent route to nail its target audience. But by knowing what genders, ethnicities and age brackets frequent online golf stores most often, these individuals can become the focus of your affiliate paying site.

This fifth installment of The CPANetworkReviews.com Guide To Affiliate Offer Performance provides CPA networks with an extremely useful tutorial video from CashKeywords.com that will get your affiliate network equipped with the tools for analyzing the appropriate keyword searches to identify your ideal demographic for your affiliate offer.

How do you target the key demographics for the market that your CPA network caters to?

Elton John’s Guide to Business Success

By Martha / On / In 1year

Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote some bitchin’ songs. “Take Me to the Pilot”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Candle in the Wind”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” All awesome, but I’m partial to Border Song. It’s moody. It’s dark. It’s soulful. It’s a great song. Except for that third verse. Which might be one of the worst things. Ever. And I don’t just mean in music. If you’ve never heard Border Song, or haven’t heard it since it was new, I’ve included the video for your viewing pleasure. (And because Elton John’s hair makes my Salvidor Dali photos look fucking fashionable.) Give it a listen and then come back. I’ll wait.

Bad Lyrics = a Prime Business Lesson

The last verse is vague, trite and unimaginative, but what can it teach you about running your business? A lot. See, when Bernie and Elton wrote together, they did it separately. Bernie worked in one room. Elton in another. Bernie wrote lyrics. Elton wrote music. When they eventually put them together, something amazing (usually) came out. When they wrote Border Song it was originally only two verses (the good ones). It was Elton that wanted the 3rd(shitty) verse and wrote the lyrics himself. The result? A good song that could have been great but, much like a bad blowjob, chokes right at the end. And all because Elton wanted to play on Bernie’s side of the creative fence.

Continue reading “Elton John’s Guide to Business Success” »

Right Timing is Everything

By Martha / On / In 1year

This morning I talked with Emily from MyCareerTools about promoting their free GED help tools and was blown away. Sell your stuff where they buy it she said. Pretty simple for most businesses right? If I sell gum, I sell it at convenience stores, grocery stores, candy machines, vending machines in the workplace, etc…

NOT GOOD ENOUGH! What do you mean not good enough… right? Well, I guess I should say, not obvious enough. It is not only where your customers are buying, but at the most opportune time as well.

a_better_youEmily explained that instead of normal ads she decided to promoted their practice tests for the GED test on career websites. People who are looking for a better job might realize that having a GED diploma will help them to get a better job! Get the point now? Get obvious about where your products are on offer. So, not only where your customers are buying, but at the most opportune time as well.

So what does this have to do with your business? Seriously, it has everything to do with it. If you are using online video to attract customers instead of just throwing them up all over and tweeting the crap out of them and spamming your Facebook friends, place them where your clients will watch them. Figure out where your target audience is, when they are there, and position your videos right in front of them, in their time of need. The rest falls right into place doesn’t it? Continue reading “Right Timing is Everything” »

Us Vs. Them: Variations on a Theme

By Martha / On / In Uncategorized

September was a rough month for our college family. We were hit with the one-two punch the anniversary of 9/11 and a tragic van accident which resulted in the deaths of 3 of our friends. Soon after our campus was besieged by a plague of hyper-Calvinism. For awhile, it seemed like every other week another friend was “coming out Calvinist”. I couldn’t help but feel that this was an emotional response to recent events. Naturally, they believed my rejection of these doctrines was emotional as well. I was so adamantly opposed that one student suggested I might be a vessel of wrath. The arguments had become ubiquitous. Charity, civility, and friendship were casualties. It wasn’t long before I grew weary of fighting and so I retreated from fights believing they could not accomplish anything.

“Peace, peace’ they say, ‘but there is no peace.’” Jeremiah 8:11

A week had passed since the anniversary  of 9/11 when I was in theology class one day. At the outset of class, a discussion on the nature of the attacks, the necessity of war, and the appropriate Christian response took off with great intensity.

One student, a fiery spirit full of impassioned pleas, cited this verse from Jeremiah. That very week, on a television in the cafeteria, several of us had watched a John Lennon tribute concert. He uttered his protest, scoffing at John’s unholy “imagined” utopia. I suppose that we were in agreement as I also preferred the biblical portrait of heaven. I kind of liked the song and this dude was killing the mood. I didn’t see anything worth getting upset about. The people on the TV couldn’t hear us anyway. I saw no reason to be personally offended but then maybe I was too much of a pacifist.

I wasn’t so much of a pacifist though. I liked it when Bill O’Reilly famously said of the Libyans, “Let them eat sand.” I defended him enthusiastically to my friends who believed that O’Reilly had been unnecessarily cold. I didn’t realize at the time that he was talking about Libya. I didn’t know where Libya was or how it fit into the current situation. Nonetheless, I was convinced that the people there had it coming, that they were responsible for the actions their government had taken, whatever those were.

Our tiny campus had bonded closely in the wake of the attacks. Even at our small school way down in Florida, there had been a few students who were concerned about family members they hadn’t heard from yet, people who worked in the World Trade Center or at the Pentagon. In the confines of a dorm room, I gathered with friends and we talked about the historically unprecedented nature of the attacks, that we had never been attacked on our soil. We sprinkled profanity into repeated exclamations that this was the worst day in American history.

It’s The American Way

I was familiar with the case for just war. I believed that military intervention had been necessary to stop Hitler (I still do). I was less familiar with any real arguments against war or at least circumstances under which war would not be an acceptable solution. The way I saw it the United States was taking action others were afraid to take. I worried about my friend, Jonny, when he was called into active duty from out of the reserves. I knew that he was doing something I could not do. I was proud of him. Store bookshelves filled up with books arguing against Bush’s policies. They did not manage to respectfully disagree. I was unnerved to find one book which included paper dolls of the President whose title suggested punching out our commander in chief. Could they get away with that? I wondered.

I didn’t mind when the CIA started listening in on our phone calls. I figured I didn’t have anything to hide. I didn’t object to the torturing of Al-Qaeda operatives. I figured that they deserved it. The ends justified the means, without question. If we didn’t take some kind of radical action, i.e., preemptive strikes, we’d surely be overthrown. They had to know better than to mess with us, the U.S. Military, Texas, Chuck Norris, or Toby Keith. Anyone who disagreed was just some sick terrorist sympathizer, ready to rush the end of our great nation.

Voices of Dissent

As the first couple of years of that war waned on, I heard voices of dissent more frequently. I wasn’t comfortable in Sunday School when someone suggested that they weren’t certain they’d vote for Bush in the upcoming election. I respected their right to an opinion but worried that church was not the place to express dissent. Something like that could mislead people. Indeed, there was only one reasonable answer. I was even more put off when a growing number of my friends expressed similar feelings. More upsetting though was that some of them had come to believe some pretty terrible things about the administration of our college. They believed that the school had been corrupted. I defended our college saying that there was more to it than we could see. I held out for awhile, even after two of them dropped out to pursue education elsewhere, but eventually I came to share their doubts.

My friend gave up on our college, then his republican politics, and later he let go of his faith, the same faith that we had shared. For awhile, he was so riled up and convicted and his opinions were naturallly opposed to my own that it felt like an assault. I no longer knew how to carry on the conversation. We didn’t talk as often. Meanwhile, I became more disaffected. I voted for Bush in 2004 and even sat up all night to watch the returns. I wanted to be sure nothing hokey went on while I was asleep. To me, it seemed like the immediate future was at risk of contracting terminal illnesses by way of idiotic politics.

I was finishing school, sticking with what had been my plan. It was easy then to feel proud to be on the right side of things. I was one of the good guys, an American, a Christian, a student of the Bible. However, when I graduated my job situation didn’t shape up like I had hoped. Out of a small pool of contenders, I believed my odds were favorable to land a position with the Alumni office. Instead of hiring me, they closed the position. I visited churches expecting to be greeted and swooned over for my expert knowledge. Instead, I got the impression they thought I had never been in church and that maybe they should keep a close eye on the offering plate when it came passed me. Maybe I could be trusted to hand out bulletins. While this was going on, many others also from my graduating class had gotten the jobs they set out to get. I felt increasingly disenchanted.

I couldn’t see how I fit into their vision of the future. This is always how disenchantment works. This feeling had been planted in me by way of seemingly insignificant occurences along the way. At first, my questions were treated generously. Gradually, my inquiry was taken as a sign of spiritual immaturity. Seeing that I would not relent, it seemed that I was no longer one of them. I was a rebel.

Some people get tired of fighting. I did. In the same way that I lost interest in debate, others fled the battlefield completely. While many of us tire of fighting, others tire of losing and so, they migrate to another team, a team whose vision they share, a team who they beleve can win, but most importantly, a team where they have a function to serve.

Us Vs. Them

For awhile after college, I embraced the idea that there is no Us Versus Them. In this, I was mistaken. We will always have our differences and as long as we allow those differences to define us more accurately than Christ does there will be division. The list of things we can be split over is infinite: politics, economics, bible versions, church government, the age of the earth, ecumenism, creation care, hermenuetics, communion, baptism, the age of accountability, education, social justice, health care, military involvement, homosexuality, the ordination of women, types of worship services, and the eternal destination of canines, to name a few.

On second thought, there is so much division that Us Versus Them is a far too simplistic rendering of the problem. The theory overlooks the dignity and humanity contained within both parties, presuming that each person, with no great difficulty, can file into one of these two categories; but at best, the division breaks down into many smaller groups: us versus them and them and them and them. If we are most concerned with division, we will eventually notice the battle is Me versus You. You is everyone who is not me.

I hope that’s not the case, because I am tired. There are many days in which I know how my fellow student and the prophet Jeremiah felt. There are many days when I proclaim, “There is no peace.” We are commended to “never grow weary of doing what is right” (2 Thess. 3:13). I know often this may mean to testify to the truth, to provide sound debate, and to confront erroneous thinking but I hope that in all our bold proclamations and our standing up for what we believe in that we don’t forget the mercy which has been granted us and the love that Christ had, even for his enemies.

“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. and in all things, charity.” Augustine

Digital Dialogue – developing ideas

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Communication takes so many different forms, but increasingly it is taking place online. The impact of digital dialogue is enormous – just look at the burgeoning networks that are being established on Twitter.

At the success of Facebook. If there was any doubt about the potential impact of digital dialogue, we only have to look at the social and political impact of online communication in recent weeks throughout the Middle East. Just look at how our teenagers organise their lives and identify with others through their online communications.

The internet has evolved from an information source, an online “encyclopedia”, to a tool for social dialogue, shared game-playing, collaboration. And it’s the dialogue that takes place that seems to be having the impact. Continue reading “Digital Dialogue – developing ideas” »

How Creative Is Your Teaching?

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Does it frequently involve artwork? Does it involve drama? Does it involve music? Does it involve some practical activity?

Or does it involve making choices about a tech tool to use? Problem solving? Open ended tasks? Self-directed learning? Collaboration? Peer feedback?

I can be creative – I have spent many hours following a knitting or cross-stitch pattern. I have followed dressmaking patterns. I can follow a piece of music when playing my guitar or singing. But I think that is a different sort of creativity to the creativity I use in class. Continue reading “How Creative Is Your Teaching?” »

Making a Difference as a Teacher

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

Just over a year ago, I met the most amazing and inspiring lady.  She originally comes from Burundi, but now lives with her husband and (now grown up) children in our area, having come to the country as a student. She worked for a long time as a teacher before becoming a social worker. She has a warm heart and generous spirit as you will tell from what I have to say!

Her family stayed in Burundi when she came over here, but unfortunately most of them were victims of the genocide that happened there.  The details are too horrific to include here, but her father (a Christian pastor in the area) saw all the events, though he was left for dead by their attackers after watching his wife and other family members being killed.  I can’t begin to describe how moving their story is, how dreadful were the circumstances that drove tribe to fight tribe. But that isn’t what this story is about anyway. It’s about what happened when Grace returned to Burundi for a visit. Continue reading “Making a Difference as a Teacher” »

Oh my! A nomination!

By Martha / On / In 1year, teaching

I just startled my husband by shouting aloud as I discovered my blog had been nominated for Best New Blog in the Edublogs awards! I remember looking at all the inspirational blogs in last year’s awards (just as I started on twitter!) and being inspired to start my own – the inspiration helped me realise it would help solve two problems I was finding:

  • I kept running out of space to express myself in the 140 characters allowed by twitter
  • I needed a way to remember what I was doing!

Continue reading “Oh my! A nomination!” »