Outdoors · Tips and Tricks · Uncategorized

Alligators vs. Crocodiles: Tips and Tricks

Why Learn the Difference:

According to alligator wrestlers, there is no such thing as a bad wrestler because if you’re bad, you’re dead. The normal gait of alligators and crocodiles on land is the “belly crawl,” but they are the only reptiles who can bring their legs directly under themselves in a “high walk.” In this position, the front and back legs move as synchronous pairs to launch the alligator at prey at speeds of 30 mph for short distances. There are some differences in how to handle an attack. Growing up in Florida, the only place in the world home to both alligators and crocodiles, I have an interest in distinguishing between them.

Alligator and Crocodile Comparison:

American Alligator

  • Black, Broad snout.
  • Teeth of the upper jaw visible when jaws closed.
  • Powerful jaws closing, yet are so weak in opening that that even a child can hold an alligator’s mouth closed.

American Crocodile

  • Olive brown, Narrow snout.
  • Teeth of both jaws visible when jaws closed.
  • Powerful jaws both opening and closing, even a grown man can’t hold shut.

Safety Tips:

  • Never feed alligators or they will associate you with food.
  • Leave babies and eggs alone, because any adult alligator will respond to a distress call from any youngster.
  • Don’t run in zig-zag patterns to avoid a charging alligator. This is based on the myth that alligators can’t turn. In reality an alligator is very agile and faster in short distances than a human. Run in a straight line away from the alligator, since an alligator has low endurance on land.

Fighting an Alligator:

  • Try to get on the alligator’s back and put downward pressure on its neck.
  • Cover the alligator’s eyes to make it more sedate.
  • If the alligator gets you in its jaws, try to avoid it shaking you or rolling over, as this will cause severe tissue damage.
  • Punch it on the snout. It may let go and back off.
  • Try flipping the alligator over. When you flip over an alligator, a disconnect occurs between the vestibula aparatus of the inner ear and the brain and the pressure put on the brain puts the alligator in a coma-like state.
  • Another technique was used by the Seminole Indians for solo alligator hunting. They would have a rope around their waist and once they were on top of an alligator, they would place their chin under the alligator’s lower jaw so they could free their hands to tie the alligator’s mouth shut. Be very certain that you are wrestling an alligator. If you try this on a crocodile, there is no way you can keep its mouth shut, so this would be a fatal mistake.
  • Afterwards, seek medical attention immediately, even for a small cut. Alligators have a huge number of pathogens in their mouths


Pinterest for Designers

What is it:

Pinterest is way to create moodboards of ideas, items you love, and things that inspire you. It’s also one of the fastest growing social properties on the internet. Pinterest lets you engage with design-minded consumers, run Pinterest campaigns, and generate site traffic.

How to use it:

Pinterest “Pin it to Win it” contests generally utilize Facebook to share the rules and winners, and in some cases contestants need to submit a link to their pinboard on Facebook for consideration. Pinboard entries should include hashtags and/or @mentions of the brand to ensure virality. Winners tend to be chosen either by the contest sponsor or by popularity, i.e. how many likes, comments, and repins it gets. Influential winners can be added to a shared pinboard – a highly valued prize.

Some great brands and campaigns on Pinterest include:

Real Simple – Pinterest drives more traffic than Facebook for Real Simple. Real Simple plans to integrate Pinterest more deeply into RealSimple.com, starting with ‘Pin it’ buttons on the website, which make it easier for fans to pin product images. Any image pinned from a site links directly back, a potential source of revenue.

Nordstrom – Nordstrom uses Pinterest to see what trends and styles the community likes based on engagement  – likes, comments, and repins.

Seahawks  -The Seahawks’ Pinterest contest requires users to start a Seahawks themed pinboard for a chance at winning 12 prizes. Contestents’ pin boards must include their tagged #favoriteseahawk, #FavoriteSeahawksPhoto, and #musthavegamedaygear. The rules and prizing were managed through a Facebook tab.

Lands’ End – In their “Pin It to Win It” Pinterest contest, ten fashionistas won $250 gift cards to Lands’ End Canvas by creating pinboards re-pinning their favorite Lands’ End Canvas products from Lands’ End pinboards.

High Point Market – High Point Market recruited home fashion trendsetters to capture images of their favorite finds as they walk the High Point Market, listing the exhibitor name and showroom number with the photo. The trendsetters also present the exhibitor with a sign that highlights the Style Spotter’s name and a QR code and URL for the Pinterest board. Everyone can vote or comment on their favorite pinboards and the most popular pinboard wins that Style Spotter a free trip to the next High Point Market.

Gilt Home – This one is a little self-promotion. For my client, Gilt Home, I use Pinterest to introduce our audience to our in-house home industry experts, promote contests and events, and share pinboards with design influencers on creative ways to decorate your home, which allows cross pollination of readership.

Other great Pinterest boards to check out: Klout, Cabot Cheese, Bergdorf Goodman, Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, BHLDN, Feterie, Etsy, VandM, Rue, Lonny, and Nina Garcia.

Visit me on Pinterest!

marketing · Uncategorized

Tweet Chats 101

Tweet chats, also known as Twitter parties, are a great way to find influencers in your industry on Twitter. Think of them as an online cocktail hour. These organized chats are identified by a hashtag (#) and tend to take a set time of 1 or 2 hours. Some tweet chats are weekly, while others are monthly or quarterly. There are hundreds of Tweet Chats, so you’re sure to find one in your area of interest. Whether you’re tweeting as an individual or as a brand, and whether you are planning to just participate or considering hosting your own Tweet Chat, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the experience. With regular participation, you will be able to:

  • develop relationships with customers and influencers
  • increase engagement
  • grow organic following on twitter
  • increase your  tweet reach
  • cross promote other platforms or campaigns

What you’ll need:

  • List of Tweet Chats: http://bit.ly/o1BFZP
  • Tweet Chat room: http://tweetchat.com
    • Displays only tweets with the selected hashtag to help you put your blinders on to the twitter-sphere
    • Tweets made in the Tweet Chat room will automatically add the hashtag and the room auto-updates.
    • You can use other twitter platforms (i.e. Tweet Grid, TweetDeck), but then you’ll have to add the chat’s hashtag to each of your tweets
    • Advanced tip: To control the quantity of tweets flying by, check “block retweets” (under the user control tab)

Tips to participate in a Tweet Chat:

  • Read about the topic and the moderator’s scheduled questions ahead of time to have prepared links/responses
  • RT the moderator’s questions after they post them to help others keep track of the conversation
  • RT and/or comment on others’ tweets
  • Tweet Chats tend to be personal in nature, so decide if you want to tweet as “I” or as a brand
  • Prepare tweets about any campaigns you are promoting, but tailor them to the conversation. Tweet Chats have a very authentic tone, so spam is an unsuccessful strategy
  • Follow participants to reinforce the relationships you are creating
  • Consider offering a prize to randomly selected chatters at the end of the hour. (This will have to be pre-approved by the moderator)
  • Moderators do not typically ask for payment to be a guest host on their Tweet Chat. Consider the ROI carefully if anyone suggests this to you.

Tips to run your own Tweet Chat:

  • Participate in Tweet Chats before running your own – there is no substitute for experience!
  • Pick a short hashtag to save characters
  • If you have a guest host, make sure to provide a how-to sheet
  • Publish a blog post explaining Tweet Chats to your readers. (Example: http://www.gilt.com/blog/?s=tweetchat)
  • Direct people to the right link in promotions: http://tweetchat.com/room/YourHashTag
  • Make sure any guest host promotes you on their social properties ahead of time using the hashtag in tweets (Example blog post- Decorati: http://access.decorati.com/2011/08/creating-an-alfresco-oasis-shane-reilly-on-designtv-tweetchat)
  • Imagine yourself as a host of a party, so make sure that you welcome people to the Tweet Chat, don’t spend too much time talking with any single individual, and make sure everyone is included
  • Solicit self identification of participants in the chat (Example: “Glad to see everyone here at #AppleChat, please share your website and bio.”)
  • Select 5-6 questions ahead of time, and post them during the hour at regular intervals to keep the conversation flowing. Make sure to label them Q1, Q2, etc. to maintain clarity (Example: “ Q1: What are some simple holiday entertaining tips?”)

Have fun! Tweet Chats are a great social experience

Blog post reprinted on the Banyan Branch blog.

Uncategorized · Wellness

Rainbow Candles

I’m a huge fan of rainbows due to their ability to cause smiles.

Rainbow Candles

To make these rainbow candles I just needed wax and wicks from a craft shop, assorted glasses (this is a great way to reuse flower vases), skewers for stirring/wick-holding, 8-pack of Crayola crayons, empty metal can, and favorite fragrance (Gucci #2). Optional: packet of stearine powder to slow the burn and make the colors more true. I got the powder because, hey, might as well make the candles I’m spending all this time on good. Indispensible: Laptop for recipes and for tunes to melt wax by.

Wicks are go

Directions: Prep your glasses with wicks twisted around skewers to keep them centered.

Hack chunks of wax and place in can with a crayon and some stearine powder.

Put that in another pot with boiling water and melt everything, stirring frequently.

Pour your layers and spritz with scent, allowing time to cool between each layer.

Trim your wicks, and you’ve got rainbow candles, suitable for gifting, meditating on chakras with if that’s your thing, or in my case showing them off and smiling.

In photo: My sister as a kid
marketing · Uncategorized

Gilt’s First Ever TweetChat!

Mark your calendars. At 11am EST the 12th, we are hosting our first TweetChat using the hashtag #AskGilt. One randomly selected chatter will win $50 Gilt credit!

For our first chat, we’ll talk about holiday gifts and decor. We’re considering making this a recurring event, so please email us with chat ideas, as #AskGilt will be community-based and lead by our fans.

How To Do It
•    We have set up a TweetChat: http://tweetchat.com/room/AskGilt
•    Alternatively, many people use Hootesuite or Tweetdeck. In this case you will set up a column with the hashtag #AskGilt. Remember, in each tweet, please be sure to use the hashtag(#) so everyone can follow the conversations.
•    Join in any time during the hour. The more the merrier!
•    Please RT great comments, and feel free to answer questions yourself if you’re so inspired.
•    Most of all, #AskGilt is about learning, sharing, and having fun.

Our moderator for #AskGilt on November 12 is @GiltGroupe.
In addition, we are joined by @GiltMan, @GiltChildren, @GiltHome, @Alexandra_Gilt, @giltjulie, @giltsupport and @rockandrollmama, a much-loved blogger who submitted some of the conversation topics we plan to cover, including:
Q1: What are some simple holiday entertaining tips?
Q2: Any ideas on the perfect gift for the guy in my life?
Q3: Any suggestions on gifts for the lady in my life?
Q4: What are some unique or must-have gifts for kids?
Q5: I need a “me” purchase to survive the holiday season. Help?
Q6: Looking for some good snowy destinations to get away…fam? Significant    other? Solo?
Q7: Where can I go to get some sun and leave this cold weather behind?

Sound like things you’d like to know more about? Join us on Friday at 11 a.m. Let’s do this!

Note: Blog post reprinted on the Gilt Groupe blog.

marketing · Uncategorized

Affiliate Programs: A Financial Win-Win

If you sell goods or services, or if you like to talk digitally about goods or services, affiliate programs are something you should know about because they make you money and are free to set up (for the company too, but I’ll get to that).

I love affiliate programs because I feel they are a win-win for everybody. They allow companies to get in front of very targeted leads, they allow bloggers to earn a commission on products they would already promote, and by funding bloggers, they help create the targeted content enjoyed by blog readership. I have read complaints that this promotes false advertising by bloggers who only care about commissions, but I feel that the bloggers who talk about products they don’t really love do not achieve the reader trust that translates to sales.

What is an affiliate program?

An affiliate program, sometimes called a partner program, is when a company offers a piece of tracking code that you can place after any link to their site. This code does not change the customer experience of using the link, but allows the company to track and reward the person who sent them any online sales. The code snippet is often preceded by a question mark, and might look something like this: ?azy3345. So instead of blogging about http://www.amazon.com/coolthing, you’d blog about http://www.amazon.com/coolthing?azy3345. Getting your personalized code involves visiting the target website and finding and setting up your affiliate account with them. It’s pretty easy.

I sell products or services. How do I start an affiliate program?

There are several for-pay affiliate programs such as DirectTrack that cost thousands of dollars, but I am a fan of HasOffers because it’s free for the first 250,000 clicks. The user interface is well designed and customizable.

Uncategorized · Wellness

Rainbow Cake

I was inspired by Omnomicon’s Rainbow cake and made my own. I used a different recipe but copied her coloring process.

• 4 cups white whole wheat flour
• 4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup shortening
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup Splenda
• 4 eggs beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 cups milk
• food coloring – at least 2 packages of 4 colors.

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Mix flour with baking powder and salt.
3. Cream shortening with the sugar and Splenda.
4. Add beaten eggs and beat mixture until smooth then stir in vanilla.
5. Add flour mixture alternately with milk into creamed mixture.
6. Lightly grease and flour spring-release baking pan.
7. Divide batter into 6 dishes and add a color of the rainbow to each dish using food coloring (use color chart on back of packages to create your colors).
8. Drop the colors, one by one, into the middle of the pan, to make concentric circles.
9. Cook for 45 minutes then cool in pan for 5 minutes.
10. Turn out to cool completely on cake rack.
11. Frosting as desired (I used Omnomicon’s, but it was not my favorite)

White Whole Wheat in Background
The cake turned out beautifully, and several people felt it tasted like cornbread, which is good, because I like cornbread! I could also feel good about eating it, because it was whole wheat, specifically white whole wheat. White whole wheat flour tastes a lot more like white flour than regular whole wheat flour. Most whole wheat flour is made from red winter wheat which has high levels of tannin and tastes bitter. Whole wheat flour from white wheat is just as nutritious as regular whole wheat flour, but tastes much better because it has almost no tannins. White whole wheat flour is available at most grocery stores.

Outdoors · Uncategorized

Seattle’s Geocaching Scene

Today I interviewed with a really neat Seattle-based geocaching company called Groundspeak. For those of you who don’t know, geocaching is a treasure hunting game using GPS. There are over 1 million caches in the world to find. You can also locate benchmarks, which are hidden survey markers that are a part of American history.

I first heard about geocaching several years ago, but never tried it. Part of the reason was that there was no local group to learn the ropes with, part of the reason was that I didn’t own a GPS device at the time. I took a look online today and Seattle surprisingly has only one hiking meetup group that mentions an interest in geocaching.

However, a search on meetup.com yields 85 Seattleites who would be interested in a local group. I wish I could start one up myself, but with my lack of personal experience it would be a little like the blind leading the blind. For now, you can join the Washington State Geocaching Association. They don’t list any group geocaching events, so the sport, at least locally, remains one for individualists.

marketing · Uncategorized

Pay-For-Performance Marketing with Excel

Excel has amazing abilities to help pay-for-performance online marketers. Pivot tables and the Microsoft Advertising Intelligence Add in allow pay-for-performance online marketers to create popular keyword lists, expand your negatives, create traffic proposals, research market trends and create bid proposals, all within Excel. That’s a lot of jargon to say that you can find out how to get the best return on your money when buying promotion on search engine homepages like Google.

marketing · Uncategorized

A Google News SEO Backdoor?

The Google search engine is unlike most other search engines in that a company can’t just buy a high ranking. Companies have to make themselves appear useful to consumers by following the rules of the Google algorithm, which is a secret. Social media such as company blogs and online interaction with blogs in the company’s industry can help SEO. A lesser known backdoor into the Google rankings involves submitting a press release to Google News through posting a press release to PR newswire for $30 or rantrave for free, which are preferred and automated Google news feeds. Google news affects Google search, and therefore your companies’ google search engine rankings.

While this service will hopefully be used for good, there have been cases of people creating false news in this manner, so Google may have to close this backdoor or limit it by only automating news feeds from providers who charge a fee for press release submissions.

This is a shame because many small businesses get squeezed out by such measures.