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Social Networking Websites and Cross Promotion

by Ginger Marin

Okay, so you have a web site already and it looks nice and you’re satisfied it’s going to bring in visitors for you. Well, it probably will, but there’s more you could be doing and you could be doing it for just the cost of your time. Here’s a smart marketing tip: it’s called cross-promotion and here’s an easy and free way to do it.

Take advantage of social networking websites where you can build free websites and profiles to enhance your visibility and link back to your original site. Of course, if you don’t already have a website, you could build one effectively, in most cases for free, or maybe just for the cost of domain name registration, by using social networking websites.

Obviously you’ll want to find one that offers the best features so that you can network, cross-promote and thus showcase yourself or your business. Some social media websites allow you to sell products or services in addition to offering video sharing, photo galleries, blogs and forums. They’re all designed for easy communication among friends, new or old. Another advantage of joining good social networking websites is that they can also help members find a job or establish business contacts through free classified advertising.

No matter what you’re trying to promote: yourself, your business or an organization, when building your social networking website, remember to include important keywords and phrases when describing your site. If you’re a business make sure you select the most appropriate business category for your site.

The best social networking websites will also have the best search results so their members and visitors can locate you easily and quickly. Free promotion is worth its weight in gold whether you’re an individual promoting your talents or interests or a business selling products or an organization promoting an important message. Social networking websites are great sources to maximize your cross promotion potential.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Tips For Building Your Online Profile

by Ginger Marin

Social networking websites are great fun for those wishing to establish and expand online relationships and network. To do that, though, you first need to build your online personal profile page. That’s where you design a page to reflect who you are or what you do. For example, individuals with talent can best promote themselves and their arts by using social networking websites that are geared toward entertainment in addition to personal profiles. Businesses may wish to find a site that offers business profiles where they may be able to also sell products or services. Certain types of organizations like charities and non-profits might seek out social networking websites that offer charity profile sites which allow them to accept donations.

• The first rule for building your online profile, though, would be that you must decide what you want to say. If it’s strictly a personal profile, then are you simply presenting yourself and all of your interests, or do you want to focus on a single aspect of your personality such as building a profile about your love of animals, for example?

• Also, when building your social networking website, remember to be as descriptive and detailed as possible, particularly in your use of important words and phrases in the title, keywords, and description fields in your administration area. That will make it easier for like-minded people to find you when they do a search.

• If you’re a business or organization, make sure you select the most appropriate business category for your profile. After all, if you’re on a social networking website then the whole purpose of your being there is business networking and promotion and people will need to locate you in the correct category.

• Make sure your profile is easy to read and navigate. It’s best not to overload your profile with large graphics that have large file sizes because the site will take too long to download. People are impatient and they’ll more likely just move on if your profile is too slow or convoluted.

When it comes time to adding friends to your network, the best advice is for you to choose the ones who reflect your personality and interests most. Businesses should especially take care with this feature. This will enhance your experience on a social networking website and leave your profile page looking a bit more professional than those who simply accept anyone and everyone.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Your Connection to Online Communications & Relationships

by Ginger Marin

Social networking websites are a phenomenon on the Internet today. They allow members to express themselves, share interests, connect with old friends and make new ones.

And, these sites are no longer just for teenagers or college students; people of all ages and backgrounds have discovered that they can enhance their lives and promote their businesses in any number of ways through the connections they make at social networking websites.

Business owners are provided with new opportunities to network, sell products and services, while organizations can get their important messages across or request donations. Some social networking sites offer and actively promote business profiles.

Besides establishing important social and business relationships, social networking members can join groups and forums to communicate easily on any number of topics important to them. But, the whole experience really starts with the personal or business profile page. That’s where members can truly and uniquely express themselves by designing a page that reflects their personality or the message they’re trying to deliver.

Some such websites really go out of their way to provide the best tools so that members can build imaginative and customizable profiles to enhance their networking experience and, of course, to keep members coming back.

When building your personal or business profile page, you can post background and contact information as well as up-to-date messages. Blogs and Forums provide additional ways for members to express themselves; they can access other member’s journals and post their own comments. Linkbacks on business profiles help promote a company’s main website.

The experience of building and adding to a personal profile on social media websites can be so satisfying that some people spend more time at their computers than they do in any other activity.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Smart & Simple Etiquette

by Ginger Marin

Social networking websites introduce people to new friends thus expanding their circles of online pals and even business acquaintances. But they are also introducing people to a number of important etiquette issues. Some people haven’t figured out yet how to be polite in this situation, though truthfully, some people still don’t have a clue about telephone, email or cell phone etiquette either.

In any case, if you want to elevate your Internet social graces on social networking websites, here are a few tips.

1. No Insults: If you’re ever in the mood to badmouth someone, zip it, instead! Humiliating someone on open forums such as social networking websites is not very cool; it’s actually pretty immature and will only serve to make you look silly. If someone tries to bully you into engaging in an online spitting match, your best bet is to just ignore them.

2. Moderate Communications: Don’t over do it when it comes to communicating with your network. People who constantly send announcements (including surveys, quizzes and junk mail) are simply abusing their friendships. Send bulletins only when and if you have big news to share. It can be downright annoying to be on the receiver end of nonstop emails.

3. No Chain Letters: Never use your social networking website to send out chain letters in the form of email blasts. You’ve seen the ones that say “Send this along to 10 friends or you will have bad luck for the rest of your life.” If you do get one yourself, just delete it. No one has time for this nonsense.

4. Keep Your Profile Simple: Make sure your profile is easy to read and navigate. Don’t overload your profile with large pictures that take forever to download. Some social networking websites will offer photo galleries that will reduce your pictures to thumbnails that can then be easily enlarged by an interested visitor. This is certainly preferable.

5. Keep Your Profile Clean: You never know who’s checking out your profile, so ideally, it’s better to avoid making people feel uncomfortable with an R-Rated site unless, of course, that’s what you really want and you know that your friends are okay with it.

6. Take Care With Friend Invitations: Don’t put people in an awkward position who don’t really want to add you. Be choosy about the people you add on. You may not want coworkers, for example, reading your personal info. Also, don’t confront someone who doesn’t want to be your friend. That is bad form.

7. Promotion Awareness: Lots of people use social networking websites to promote artists, products, services and even other websites. If you’re using your profile to promote something, be subtle in how you do it, because there’s a fine line between innocent promotion and spam.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Parents, Kids & Online Safety

by Ginger Marin

With the popularity of social networking websites here’s are some words of caution. Not everybody trying to be your friend is really trying “to be your friend”. They may have other motives and it certainly behooves parents to know what they’re kids are into.

Keeping an eye on their activities will help protect identity (theirs and yours) and keep sexual predators at bay. Content such as foal language, bullying and threats, sexually explicit terminology and especially sexually explicit photos and videos can “magically” turn up in other members’ profile pages, photo galleries, in blogs, forums and groups.

Some social networking websites closely monitor certain word tags assigned to videos, photos and groups. They might also provide a direct link on their pages so members can easily report offensive content. Although offensive content can appear anywhere on a social networking website, the most explicit content seem to appear mostly in group forums. So it pays to be vigilant if you’re a parent trying to protect a child or you simply find these things offensive.

If you’re a parent, the very first thing you should do is teach your children about the possible dangers that exist on the Internet, particularly about situations that might crop up on a social networking website, for instance:

  • Remind them that on the Internet it’s easy for people to pretend to be someone else. They can easily change their name, age and gender in an effort to get close to children.
  • Tell them to never give out personal information about themselves, the family, neighbors or friends to strangers they may meet online.
  • Tell them not to post pictures of your house with identifiable numbers and street names or pictures showing a phone number.
  • Let them know that if they encounter something or someone dangerous they should tell you about it.
  • Tell them that if they ever receive an emailed picture with sexual content, or see something on the social networking website that they find disturbing, they should tell you about it immediately.

Social networking websites are fun and kids do want to participate in them. They’ll want to build personal profiles and explore the profiles of others. A good bit of safety advice is resist the urge to “tell all”. Your social networking experience can still be fun and rewarding. You’ll make new friends and yes, some of them may even turn out to be real “finds”. But on the Internet, a little common sense goes a long way. Enjoy and be safe.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Merchant Accounts: Chargebacks and Fraud

by Ginger Marin

Whether doing business on the Internet or in a brick and mortar store, most merchants accept credit cards.  Here’s an overview of the pitfalls and how the credit card companies protect against fraud.

A chargeback is when a sales transaction is reversed.  This can occur for any number of reasons such as bank errors, customer disputes, credit card expiration, double-charges, fraud.

If your merchant account incurs too many chargebacks (for whatever reason) — there’s a chance that you will lose your account. Once this happens you’ll be placed on the Visa/MasterCard MATCH list for several years. All Merchant Account Providers have access to this list, and if they find your name on it, they’ll usually decline to issue a merchant account to you.

As for fraud, in almost all cases, you’ll be held responsible when a fraudulent credit card is used on your website, and you will be charged for the sale. The best thing that you as a merchant can do is to stay vigilant.

Tips to Help Eliminate Chargebacks & Fraud

Company Data:  On your order confirmation page, make sure you advise the customer of your company  name and the contact information that will appear on their monthly credit card statement.

Email Confirmation: Include the same company details in the email confirmation that your customers receive when an order is placed.

Address Verification: Use address verification during the credit card acceptance process. People who order products using a stolen card number will always ship to an address that’s different from the real cardholder’s.  This is your chance to stop shipment before its too late.

Foreign Country Orders:  A large percentage of fraudulent Internet orders are made from some eastern bloc  countries and developing nations.  Nigeria, Russia and Indonesia are high on the list.

Pay Attention:  If an order seems suspicious, call or email the customer and attempt to verify what you can about them. Pay attention to shipment locations.

Keep Transaction Copies:  Keep copies of all transactions so if you’re ever challenged, you’ll have a  good defense.

Shipment Confirmation:  If you ship a product, it’s wise to have a mailing confirmation receipt which will confirm to the bank that you did indeed ship the items that the customer ordered.

Hormones – Mind-Body Health & Anti-Aging

by Ginger Marin

The mind-body connection posits that a well mind provides for a well body and vice versa. So when it comes to aging and brain health, one must also take into consideration the state of one’s hormones.

What are Hormones?

Hormones are the body’s messengers that transport important information from the brain to the glands and from the glands onto the cells and from the cells back to the brain. They serve to rejuvenate, regenerate and restore our bodies. Hormones are considered optimum from the age of 25 – 30 years. This is the same period, generally, in which our bodies are at their strongest and healthiest.

What Causes Aging?

Hormone levels progressively decrease during our lifetimes causing the changes in our bodies and minds that we call aging. The human body was never designed to live as long as we’re living today. Thanks to advances in medical care and sanitation, we have drastically increased life spans. However, the glands that produce our hormones do not regenerate and continue to decline, producing fewer hormones with each passing year.

Associated with this process is the onset of overt diseases, changes in mood, dysfunctional memory, decreased ability to learn, decrease in hair growth and graying, decreased quality of facial skin, decreased lean body mass with an increase in percent body fat, infections, cancer, decreased wound healing, diminished sex drive and many other aspects that represent our quality of life and youthfulness.

The Need for Hormone Replacement

It has become increasingly important for both men and women to keep their hormones balanced to protect against these age-related ravages and to enjoy an overall sense of well being. Diet and exercise alone will not be as effective unless a person’s hormones are balanced correctly. For optimal safety, only hormones that are low should be replaced and retesting of hormone levels should be done regularly.

Bio-identical hormones are manufactured in the lab to have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your own body. They could also be called human-identical hormones.

Bio-Identical vs Synthetic

Bio-identical (also called bio-equivalent) hormones get their start in nature and are found in soy beans, wild yams, red clover and black cohash. The human body can recognize these bio-identical hormones and can use them just as it would as if produced by the ovaries, testes, or adrenal glands. Most side-effects experienced with bio-identical hormones are associated with either an incorrect dosing or an imbalance in the selection of the hormones.

By contrast, synthetic hormones are intentionally different. Drug companies cannot patent a bio-identical structure, so instead, they invent synthetic hormones that are patentable (such as Premarin, Prempro and Provera, the most widely used examples). Synthetic hormones are not easily recognized by the body even though they may produce similar effects. Because they are hundreds of times more potent than the hormones that our body makes, they are often associated with significant side effects.

Though bio-identical hormones have been around for years, many practitioners are unfamiliar with them. There are several branded versions now available for use in the kind of hormone replacement therapy (“HRT”) typical of synthetic hormones. This is generally a one-size-fits-all dosage regime.

The greatest success, however, is with an individualized approach. Laboratory tests of hormone levels should be done (a “hormone panel”) to determine the state of a patient’s levels. If and when warranted, a precise dosage is prescribed of bioidentical estrogen, progesterone, testosterone or DHEA that is made up at a compounding pharmacy. Each patient is then monitored carefully through regular follow-up hormone panels to ensure symptom relief at the lowest possible dosage.

In the initial stages, a hormone panel might be taken every three months. That way, the doctor has the opportunity to fine tune the final prescription to address any personal goals. Whether this might mean an increase in mental acuity, improvement in depression and moods, increase in sexual drive, or improved physical ability; slight variations in the dosage, or dosage form, can often provide the sought after results. Once balance is restored, a panel may be taken only once a year.

HRT: Pills vs Topical Creams

It would seem reasonable that the easiest way to take hormones is by swallowing a pill. Unfortunately, once the hormones are absorbed by the blood they go directly to the liver where some of the hormones are inactivated.

Topically applied hormones are absorbed directly from the skin right into the blood where they immediately start working. Eventually, all chemicals end up in the liver being inactivated and/or converted to other substances. Another benefit of using topical creams is that dosage can be easily adjusted by increasing or decreasing the number of applications per day.

An important aspect to Compounded Bio-Identical Hormones is whether-or-not they have been tested for bio-availability. That is, once applied to the skin, the component hormones are easily absorbed from the cream, through the skin, and into the blood. Each component hormone and blended preparation of hormones have been tested extensively during the Federal Application and Patent application process. Each customized preparation is designed based upon laboratory testing and the personal goals of the patient.

Summation

Bio-identical hormones are better and safer than synthetic hormones. Our body can metabolize bio-identical hormones as it was designed to do, thereby minimizing side effects. Compounded bio-identical hormones can be matched individually to each woman’s (or man’s) needs, something that’s not possible with mass-produced products. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, are quite strong and often produce intolerable side effects. And many European medical studies suggest that bio-identical hormones are indeed safer than synthetic versions.

It should be noted that the original studies on the effectiveness and health risks associated with HRT were based solely on synthetic/equine-based hormones.

Healthy Brain & Heart Function From Omega 3 Fatty Acids

by Ginger Marin

The human brain consists primarily of fat and cholesterol and the majority of the fatty acids in the brain are saturated. Saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet and provide the building blocks for all your cell membranes as well as a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Some saturated fats function directly as signaling messengers that influence metabolism including the appropriate release of insulin. A diet deficient in healthy saturated fats, therefore, will rob your brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally.

Omega 3 Fats: Essential To Health
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are a special type of protective fat that the body itself cannot manufacture. People who don’t get enough Omega 3 fatty acids in their diets are more likely to experience learning disabilities, dementia and depression. Omega-3s also reduce inflammation and inhibit blood clots, the underlying cause of most strokes. Omega-3s come from fish and krill (a type of shrimp-like marine invertebrate animal), flaxseeds and some nuts, but there’s a big difference in how well different kinds of Omega-3s are utilized by the body.
Fatty fish is also high in choline, a substance used to manufacture one of the main neurotransmitters (acetylcholine) involved in memory. Many people believe flaxseeds are an adequate substitute for fish. They’re not. Although flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a form of omega-3, only about 10% of ALA is converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the most beneficial forms of omega-3s, precisely the ones that are plentiful in fish oil.

Walnuts for Health
Walnuts play a role in a balanced diet and are a good source of alpha-linoleic acid. When it comes to their health benefits, walnuts definitely are regarded as a “brain food” not only because of the wrinkled brain like appearance of their shells but because of their high concentration of omega 3 fats. They’re also high in proteins and vitamins, especially in vitamins B and E groups.

Walnuts have many health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection to the promotion of better cognitive function and the anti-inflammatory benefit that is useful for asthma patients, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. Walnuts also contain an anti-oxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anti-cancer properties.

Studies show that increasing the dietary intake of walnuts produces favorable effects on high cholesterol levels and other cardiovascular risk factors.

Omega-3s benefit the cardiovascular system by assisting in preventing erratic heart rhythms, making blood less likely to clot inside arteries which is the proximate cause of most heart attacks and improve the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to potentially harmful (LDL) cholesterol.

Walnuts also contain relatively high levels of L-arginine, an essential amino acid which becomes a special import in hypertensive persons. Human body according to experts converts l-arginine into nitric oxide, a chemical that helps keep the inner walls of blood vessels smooth and allows blood vessels to relax. Since individuals with hypertension find it difficult to maintain normal nitric oxide levels which may also lead to other significant health issues such as diabetes and heart problems, walnuts can serve as a great addition to their diets.

Recent research found that walnuts have significant antioxidant value and their consumption (a mere handful) at least 4 times a week can reduce by 37% the risk of coronary heart disease while each additional serving of nuts per week shows 8.3% reduced risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. Prevention and control of high blood pressure is also one of the benefits derived from eating walnuts. A daily ounce of walnuts also improve the cholesterol profile in persons with type 2 diabetes. The nuts are found to reduce levels of several molecules that promote atherosclerosis.

So Which is Better: Walnuts or Fish Oil?

In a recent clinical trial comparing the two types of omega-3s, researchers at Loma Linda University in California found that plant-derived omega-3 in walnuts offers different heart-health benefits than the marine-derived omega-3 you would find in salmon. So for optimal heart health, you need to include both plant and marine sources in your diet. Unfortunately, a number of fatty fish contain mercury and so do some over-the-counter supplements made from them. When purchasing a fish oil supplement, look for “molecularly distilled’ on the label to ensure that the product you’re buying has been screened and filtered of all contaminants. Some people use eggs enriched with omega-3s, but in most cases the omega-3 is plant derived from flaxseeds, so you’re not going to get the benefit of high DHA as you would if consuming fish.

The study which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the omega-3 fats in walnuts significantly lowered total and LDL (bad) cholesterol more than the omega-3 fats in fatty fish, whereas fish lowered triglyceride levels more than walnuts. Interestingly, walnuts had no impact on triglyceride levels, compared with the control (no walnuts or fish) diet, while fatty fish raised HDL (good) and LDL cholesterol.

Walnuts were chosen as the plant source of omega-3 fatty acids because the FDA advises a daily intake of 1.5 ounces (about 14 whole walnuts) as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol, calorie-stable diet for people who want to reduce their risk for heart disease. Salmon was chosen as the fish source because it is a particularly rich source of marine omega-3, and the American Heart Association advises consumption of two servings of four-ounces of fatty fish per week for prevention of heart disease. Note: Even though this particular study was underwritten by the California Walnut Growers Association, many doctors, particularly alternative medicine practitioners agree that walnuts are a valuable addition to any diet.

When it comes to your omega-3s, a diet rich in both types is certainly the way to go to improve both heart health and brain function.

Crystal Skulls – Magical and Mystical Source of Intrigue

by Ginger Marin

With the 2008 release of the new Indian Jones movie hitting the screens, there has been renewed interest in the subject of crystal skulls. Skulls represent humanity’s foremost symbol of death and they are powerful icons to cultures all over the globe. There have been many replicas of human skulls that have been polished out of a single crystal of quartz rock.

Some are ancient, some classified as “old” and others are more contemporary. A few have been made from pure quartz and are absolutely clear while a rare few are also life-sized. Some are milky in color, at least one is of rose quartz and still another is amethyst. Thirteen crystal skulls of apparently ancient origin have been found in parts of Mexico, Central America and South America, comprising one of the most fascinating subjects of 20th Century archeology.

The most widely celebrated and mysterious of these crystal skulls is the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, the manufacture of which is quite remarkable.

The Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull

It is very similar in form to an actual human skull, even featuring a fitted removable jawbone. Most other known crystal skulls are of a more stylized structure, often with unrealistic features and teeth that are simply etched onto a single skull piece. Interestingly, it is impossible to say how the Mitchell-Hedges skull was constructed. From a technical standpoint, it appears to be an impossible object by which today’s most talented sculptors and engineers would be unable to duplicate.

The Mitchell-Hedges skull is made of clear quartz crystal, and both cranium and mandible are believed to have come from the same solid block. It weighs 11.7 pounds and is about five inches high, five inches wide, and seven inches long. Except for slight anomalies in the temples and cheekbones, it is a virtually anatomically correct replica of a human skull. Because of its small size and other characteristics, it is thought more closely to resemble a female skull — and this has led some to refer to the Mitchell-Hedges skull as a “she.”

In 1970, the Mitchell-Hedges family lent the skull to Hewlett-Packard Laboratories for extensive study. Art restorer Frank Dorland oversaw the testing at the company’s California computer equipment plant, a leading facility for crystal research. The HP examinations yielded some startling results. Researchers found that the skull had been carved against the natural axis of the crystal. Modern crystal sculptors always take into account the axis, or orientation of the crystal’s molecular symmetry, because if they carve “against the grain,” the piece is bound to shatter — even with the use of lasers and other high-tech cutting methods.

To compound the strangeness, HP could find no microscopic scratches on the crystal that would indicate it had been carved with metal instruments. Dorland’s best hypothesis for the skull’s construction is that it was roughly hewn out with diamonds, and then the detail work was meticulously done with a gentle solution of silicon sand and water. The exhausting job — assuming it could have been done this way — would have required man-hours adding up to 300 years to complete.

Under these circumstances, experts believe that successfully crafting a shape as complex as the Mitchell-Hedges skull is impossible; as one HP researcher is said to have remarked, “The damned thing simply shouldn’t be.”

Mr. Mitchell-Hedges had always indicated that he had found the skull in an ancient temple in British Honduras, though he seemed very reluctant to reveal the details, writing: “How it came into my possession I have reason for not revealing.”

Anna Mitchell-Hedges, his adopted daughter, claimed that it was she who discovered the skull on her 17th birthday in 1924 while with her father in British Honduras. She found the skull; missing the jaw, under an ancient alter. Three months later she found the jaw in the same room.

The regal Mitchell-Hedges skull is not without scandalous accusations of fraud. Some believe that F.A. Mitchell-Hedges had the piece commissioned by a sculptor, and planted it in the Lubaantun ruins for his daughter to find as a spectacular birthday present.

The validity of this charge is uncertain, but even if the Mitchell-Hedges skull is of modern origin, its structure is no less extraordinary. In all likelihood, every crystal skull in the world was fashioned by plain old human beings of some sort, and regardless of whether the work was carried out five years ago or five hundred years ago, we still don’t have any idea how they did it. (for spacemagic.com)

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

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