Poetry Saturday: The Glass of Monkeysweep

This is a poem that I remember clearly! During P.E. class my sophomore year of high school, we were required to choose different sports to participate in during class. For part of a semester, one of the sports I chose was ultimate Frisbee. We learned the rules of the game, how to throw a Frisbee, and part of the class was play games and compete in teams. The inspiration for this poem came from a great catch that I made during one match. I was wide open near the end zone (no one covers me ever when I play sports), and the person throwing the Frisbee (I don't remember who) had no one to throw it to but me since everyone else was blocked. He threw it. It was a big Hail Mary, and I caught it! Points for our team!

The "monkeysweep" referred to our victory move we did when we scored a point. We would take the Frisbee and "sweep" is across the grass, hence the name. "Buns" was our team word for the short pass when we were open, so we were supposed to shout that word when we were ready for a pass. "Weiner" was our word for a long pass. I'd like to think that I didn't shout, "Weiner," when I caught the big Hail Mary, but I can't guarantee that. After all, I was the only one open, so I might not have had a choice.

The Glass of Monkeysweep


Taste the victory of green

in the glass of monkeysweep

pour in that touchdown wine

and toast to green's triumph


Buns! Buns! Buns!

A short pass to the other

Vwip, vwip, vwip

stealthy through the defense


Weiner! Weiner!

The pinnacle of the game

Hail Mary to the end zone

Throw it out there, long and hard


The jargon of the Ultimate

the win spun on a disc

Taste the victory of green

in the glass of monkeysweep

As of Today, 10 Percent of Social Media Reviews Will be Fake

fake social media reviewsEvery Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Technorati.com. Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. According to a recent study by tech research firm Gartner, 10 to 15 percent of social media reviews will be fake by 2014. With growing emphasis and credibility on social media as the "new word-of-mouth", its crucial that we be able to trust the opinions we find on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

"With over half of the Internet's population on social networks, organizations are scrambling for new ways to build bigger follower bases, generate more hits on videos, garner more positive reviews than their competitors and solicit 'likes on their Facebook pages," said Jenny Sussin, senior research analys at Gartner, in a news release.

Gartner found in this study that the nearly all of the fake reviews are coming from people who were paid to provide that positive review, whether that payment in cash, coupons, or other promotions. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission determined that paying for positive reviews without disclosing that the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising and would be prosecuted as such. Even so, many companies are seeking out fake reviews in the hopes of making a few more sales or getting a few more hits on the website.

How do you ensure that none of your reviews are fakes (and can be 100% trusted as a true reflection of what your customers think about you)? Here are a few tips:

  1. Don't pay for reviews - Earn those reviews, especially since the FTC is cracking down on fake reviews and even pursuing litigation with two Fortune 500 companies caught paying for fake reviews. However, it is okay to ask your customers to take the time to write a review, as long as you don't compensate them for taking a positive stance, or control what the reviewer says in anyway.
  2. Respond appropriately to the bad reviews - It's tempting to counter or to cover up those bad reviews by encouraging or paying for an onslaught of good reviews, but that course of action only shows that you're unable to improve and to take criticism as a business. Instead, note those bad reviews and make changes, perhaps even responding by saying you're going to do something about whatever was wrong. Also consider that you can't please everyone. If a reviewer just says the food was terrible, simply accept that not everyone will like the food you serve.
  3. Encourage honest reviews - There are many ways to get your current customers to write great reviews for your business without paying for them. For example, create case studies and blog posts highlighting your best customers. This way, the reviewer not only gets attention for being a reviewer and a great customer, but potential customers can honestly see and hear what your business can do. You can also let your customers know where they can write a review for you by taking control of your Yelp or Google Places page. By keeping your information on those pages up-to-date and telling your customers about them, they are more likely to go to those pages to write a review.
  4. Delete Fake Reviews - If you've paid for reviews in the past, then remove those reviews from your pages at once, or at least disclose that these reviews were paid for. Fake reviews only ruin the credibility of your business, and if you're caught with fake reviews that lack the disclosure, you could lose a lot more than your customers.

Poetry Saturday: What Blue Doesn't Tell You

I had hoped that I had something American or Patriotic that I could share during Independence Day weekend, but I couldn't find anything that stuck out. So, I figured a poem about the color blue would be just fine. I do have a poem about the color red, but I didn't want to share that one yet. I don't really have any poems about the color white, but I do have one or two about snow. Those are better suited when there's actually snow on the ground. I don't know why I wrote this poem or what inspired it. I've always liked that there are so many synonyms for each of the colors, but I don't think that's the main reason or the only reason why I wrote this poem, if it's a reason at all.

What Blue Doesn’t Tell You


Aquamarine surfs in harbor

not telling where to catch the waves.


Cerulean adds pigments to the water

but doesn't show the midnight how.


Cyan fiddles with the lights

keeping certain things in darkness.


Sapphire sparkles with shimmering glee

knowing why the dolphin smiles.


Navy leads the cadets to battle

cause and enemy left unknown.


Cobalt tortures the baby blue

picking for the answer's sky.


Why such the unusual blues?

Blues thought's bear no admittance.

There is a Plan B for Birth Control and Health Care Plans

birth control healthcare plans Every Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Technorati.com. Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website.

Last Friday, the White House announced that there will be no wider exemption for religious groups regarding the Affordable Care Act, which requires that “preventative care” be fully covered, with no co-pay, under new insurance plans, and the Department of Health and Human Services accepted recommendations that put all forms of contraception in that category. Beginning August 2012, new insurance plans must fully cover women's preventive care, which now will include yearly wellness visits, breastfeeding counseling and equipment, and screening for gestational diabetes, domestic abuse, HPV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV, in addition to the birth control and sterilization. This latest announcement grants only a one-year waiver they can apply for while figuring out how to comply with the law. Naturally, the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops is against the new regulation, particularly the clause on birth control, as it conflicts with Catholic tenets.

As Reverend Peter Laird presents in his counterpoint, “The position of the Catholic Church on artificial birth control is well-known, though not always well-understood. Our teaching is founded in a conviction that every human act is meant to witness to the truth about God and man…The church does not consider birth control a right of health care, much less a good for human flourishing, because pregnancy is not a disease.

The new regulation does come with a “conscience” clause, an exemption that applies to non-profit employers that have the “inculcation of religious values as its purpose, that primarily employ fellow believers, and that primarily serve people who share its religious tenets.” This defined exemption would not include Catholic hospitals and probably won’t include Catholic Charities and Catholic institutions of higher learning. Thus, the new regulation has not been well-received by the Catholic community.

However, research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church, compared with 99 percent of American women who have used these same methods at one point in time. The statistics aren’t much different. It’s fine that Catholic doctrine is against birth control, but with so many Catholic women violating this part of the doctrine, the church really ought to expend its energy on reaching out to its members instead of retaliating against the federal government. The study does not specify how many of these women are aware that using birth control is against church doctrine, so it’s impossible to determine how many are using birth control in spite of church doctrine, or because they don’t know that it’s against church teachings. It’s also possible that Catholic women are choosing to violate this part of the doctrine in order to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, and the confronting the choice of violating the church’s stance on abortion.

I don’t fault the church and other Catholic organizations for not supporting the federal regulation, but I don’t’ see how it jeopardizes the overall mission of these organizations, or the essence of being Catholic. I’m sure being Catholic is much more than avoiding birth control, like being a person for others and living simply. Plus, the new federal regulation says that all health plans much cover sterilization and contraception. That doesn’t mean that a woman will, or must, access that free contraception. As Laird says,

“Absent sufficient regard for rights of conscience, the birth control mandate will force all men and women -- and all employers -- to carry health "benefits" that violate the sincerely held religious convictions of many.”

I don’t deny that these benefits violate the religious convictions of many, but doesn’t it only count if those who believe such participate in this violation? Does mere availability automatically equal a violation all its own, even if no one took advantage of this availability? This regulation presents an opportunity for the church and Catholic employers to make its community aware that the use of sterilization and contraception is against church teaching.  Of course, another option is to revoke health insurance for all employees, but no one needs to be that drastic here. If anything, the regulation allows for the accommodation of non-Catholics at Catholic employers while encouraging Catholics to follow church teachings. As Laird puts it:

“Organizations such as Catholic universities and hospitals, social-services agencies and Catholic Charities, because they serve people without regard to religious affiliation, would be forced to provide contraceptive and sterilization services. In other words, we would have to stop being Catholic if we wanted to serve all men and women, as Jesus did. It would also require Catholic organizations to employ only Catholics, which may be at variance with both federal and state discrimination laws.”

After all, Catholic employers cannot legally exclude non-Catholics from its workforce, and Catholic Charities certainly wouldn’t exclude non-Catholics from its services. Therefore, there’s no imposition or forced adoption of Catholic teaching. Also, the regulation only stipulates the provision of them in health care plans, not necessarily by the institutions themselves. This means a Catholic hospital or clinic can refrain from carrying birth control and providing sterilization services to the people they serve. This would also mean that any non-Catholic that works in these places, that wishes to use birth control, would have the choice to do so. This regulation doesn’t infringe on the Catholic identity of institutions in anyway.

Why must this issue of birth control be treated as such a black and white issue? This issue of sterilization and contraception seems like an opportunity for religious education and tolerance instead of the religious intolerance that it’s perceived to be. Overall, this federal regulation doesn’t say that Catholic teaching is wrong, or that Catholic institutions cannot be Catholic institutions. It doesn’t stipulate that birth control must be offered to all who walk through those doors. It just needs to be part of the health care plan. Good Catholics can still be good Catholics by not using that part of the plan. Non-Catholics can still have this choice available to them if they wish. Just because the choice is there to choose birth control doesn’t mean that one must, should, or will choose birth control.

Poetry Saturday: Under the Syringa Tree

"Syringa Tree" is such a specific reference, one that I cannot remember (are we surprised at this point that I can't remember doing many of these poems). My first instinct was that I was referring to a species of tree mentioned in Wangari Maathai's memoir, "Unbowed," but I knew that wasn't right. I read that book during my junior year of college, and I know I wrote this poem in high school. Most likely my senior year of high school, based on the format, but I'm not entirely sure. I did a quick Google search, and "The Syringa Tree" is a play about childhood under apartheid. I didn't read the play and I haven't seen a performance of the play, so I know I didn't get the idea of the tree from there. I'm not from Africa and I've never been to Africa, so I know the reference isn't from a personal experience with an exact tree or with the species. I'm dumbfounded. Why would I write this poem and reference this tree? I wouldn't even know what a Syringa tree looked like if I saw one.

Under the Syringa Tree


Good work, good moral

and good luck


from the fallen leaves,

broken branches,

and withered roots

of the Syringa Tree


Ignorance is bliss.  And when the truth is hacked to the ground right in front of you, it’s all difficult to salvage.  From under the Syringa Tree, we saw the loss of comfort.


Late lilacs blossom

lavender, brightly,

after a winter

of hibernating strength.

Together, in one

the flowers grow

in soil cluttered

with the giant kudzu,

the fat outreaching one

with an overbearing green


through manipulation


Kudzu battles

the rival Dandelion





There’s only one

Syringa Tree,

one set of lilacs

for all to share.

They fight

for the credit

of the lilacs


Lilacs fade

and shrivel

with stolen credit

and stolen time;

The pleasure

of the flower



Gust to gust

puddle to puddle

winds and monsoons

were tough to trek

time and time again;

But under the Syringa Tree

leaves, branches

and roots

have protected

the underlings



fostered by rings

of an extended legacy


the fruits of labor

in koa bowls

and golden trophies


Cutting the grains

of harvest,

sharing the gold

under the Syringa Tree,

fun and company

under the Syringa Tree



nurtured by

the Buddha

the native gardener

the distant hope

the rival dandelion

and all-knowing doc


But now,

the Syringa Tree,

gnarled by drama

wrinkled by stress

and tireless labor

of previous sunsets,


and grew

a most honorable name,

only to have it

eventually slandered

by senior woodcutters

and junior poachers

of a selfish gain


Senior woodcutters

who squabble for wood.

Wood that doesn’t

matter in the long run

yet benefits all

in the short.

And through the skirmish,

hack branches.


Junior poachers

looking for

every advantage

to help themselves,

to feed their inane mouths

and bask

in stolen sunlight


We now fight for the lilacs,

the same lilacs

we used to share

and grow together.


The underlings are losing

the Syringa Tree

he blossoms no longer

the same lilac





Lovers to Come

Journeys to Go:


and lost

The rich savannas,

a balanced circle,

and prosperity



except the foes


The previous season

oversaw glory

of a new kind

and a fight to defend

a clean match up


But soon squandered

is tomorrow,

under the Syringa Tree

the lilacs are lost

The underlings

won’t be there much longer.

They will wither too.

dried spirit,

dried young’un spirit

deprived of an energy

even hose far from

the Syringa Tree

could use


And by then

more than the lilacs

will be lost


But the whole tree.


Just a stump will sitt,

trying again to rebuild

what the kudzu

and the senior woodcutters

and the junior poachers



Branches severed by the human hand never regain their original shade.  The comfort under the Syringa Tree will never have the same breeze nor will the lilacs bloom in the same radiance.  The Syringa Tree may survive but will never grow greatness again.

How to Ensure Originality in Your Content Marketing

originality in content marketingEvery Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Technorati.com. Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. If your biggest content marketing challenge is creating original content, then you're not alone. Almost 70% of B2B marketers said this was their biggest challenge, according to a B2B marketing trends survey from content curation platform Curata. The next two biggest challenges for B2B marketers were having the time to do it (65%) and finding high quality content (43%) to drive a content curation strategy.

As the use and importance of content marketing continues to rise, there's added pressure on content creators to come up with new and original content regularly. Duplicate content isn't cool, but creating original content can be a challenge when you are covering some of the same topics over and over again. So, just how do you ensure originality in your content marketing without resorting to copying or running out of ideas? Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Involve More People in Your Content Marketing Process - If you have only one person writing for your blog, then creating original content is going to be a huge challenge. One person can only do so much. When it comes to your business blog, allow employees from sales and customer service to contribute as well. These folks have insight into customer questions and pain point, and can offer something incredibly valuable to the blog, something that your original blogger could have missed. For other forms of content marketing, involve a team or maybe outsource a project or two to a content marketing firm. A fresh perspective could be all it takes to get the original content you've been craving.
  2. Don't Rely So Much on Copyscape - Too many people think Copyscape is the magic wand to finding original content and to banishing those plagiarists. However, Copyscape is not a silver bullet. First of all, simply rewriting something into your own words doesn't absolve the crime of plagiarism. Think of this as putting someone's book or academic report into your own words, and then putting your name on it without giving credit to the original author. The ideas aren't your own, and without proper citation, even the rewrite is still plagiarism despite passing Copyscape. Second, there are things that ought to be cited and be verbatim in content, such as a quote, a definition, a set of statistics, a phone number, and a book title. This is where human judgement comes in, as rewriting these things may make your content less powerful, not more. Third, Google hates duplicate content, but an entire article that's copied and pasted is very different from including a quote or an excerpt of someone's book or blog post. Original content is much more than having unique text. It's about having unique ideas while being able to give credit where credit is due.
  3. Conduct Your Own Research - A great way to be original is to conduct your own research with a survey or analysis of data, and then to report the findings. This method may take a while, but the goal is to find something new and to have a lot to write about, more than just a single blog post or white paper.
  4. Update/Repackage Current Content - No one says that once you publish something, that's it. Get more mileage from your content by updating the information, or repackaging the content. For example, if you've written 20 blog posts about anti-virus software, then take those 20 posts and turn it into a guide or an eBook about anti-virus software. You can make this original by adding an author page and an introduction in the beginning, a description of your company at the end, and updating any statistics you used in the posts. Okay, you've technically copied yourself, but you own that content. No one's going to ding you for that.

Poetry Saturday: 10 Minutes

I'd like every poem I post for Poetry Saturday to have a story behind it, but some of them don't have a story behind it, such as today's poem. I don't know what this one is about, or when I wrote it, but my best guess is that it's about the fact that it only takes 10 minutes to write poem. It only takes 10 minutes to be hit with inspiration and to get it down on paper before it's lost or forgotten. At least that's what I've gathered from reading the poem. Since I needed to reread my own poem to have an understanding of what I was writing about, perhaps others will come up with different interpretations.

10 Minutes


10 minutes, just ten

to compose one

What shall ink from

this noble pen

is up to the mind

in its protection


Where the time goes

where does it go?

can really be any guess

for in 10 minutes

just 10 minutes

anywhere the pen can go


Time's winding down

thee I must finish

before we go to dinner

the noble words

strewn from this pen

are glorious in time indeed

Have You Played A Google a Day Yet?

A Google a Day gameEvery Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Technorati.com. Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. Think you'd be a master at trivia if you could just use Google to find the answers? Well, now's your chance to prove it.

A Google a Day is a new trivia game where you use Google, and only Google, to find the answers to the questions. Launched over the holiday weekend, it's a twist on typical trivia games, where using the Internet is considered cheating. You can play a basic game that only has three questions, or with a Google+ account, you can play a longer game with 10 questions. As the name states, you can only play it once per day.

The game has questions in six categories: pop culture, history, arts and literature, geography, science, and sports. The categories are random each day, so you could play a game that doesn't have any geography questions, or has four science questions. Points are earned based on how difficult the question is, how long it takes you to find the answers, as well as if you use any power ups (double points, additional time etc.). You have unlimited tries to answer a question correctly, and you can skip a question if it's too hard. However, to unlock the next level of questions, you have to answer two out of the three of them correctly, so you can really only skip one question per level.

If you thought search would make trivia that much easier, you would be sorrily mistaken. As the questions get harder, you often have to do multiple searches based on how the question is phrased. For example, you might have to first search for the name of Gwyneth Paltrow's husband, and then find out the name of the album for which his band won a 2004 Grammy Award. Tricky stuff, although each question comes with one hint and one clue (the clue is more specific than the hint), of which clicking them will add time and take away points. The game also has a "Tips & Tricks" page, which offers advice on how to search Google better. The advice is good for both the game and in real life.

Poetry Saturday: An Untitled Rondeau

I didn't know what to title this poem after I wrote it, which is why it has the title that it has. A rondeau is a type of poem where there are three verses with specific lengths and rhyming schemes. There are three verses, and the first and the last one are six lines each. The second verse is four lines. For the six-line verses, the first, second, fifth and sixth lines much rhyme. The third and fourth lines must also rhyme, but it must be a different rhyme. The same two rhymes must be used throughout the poem. For the second verse, the first, second, and fourth lines rhyme, and they must rhyme with the one used with the the first, second, fifth and sixth lines in the other two verses. The third line must the the third and fourth lines in the other two verses, although it won't rhyme with any other line in the verse.

I learned about this format from a book I borrowed at the library. I can't remember what the book was called, but I do remember that it had a green cover. I wanted to improve my poetry skills, so I found a book or two that introduced me to new techniques and formats. This poem is one of the final products that came out of that endeavor.

An Untitled Rondeau


The will to power will rise forever.

This is my leading endeavor.

To soar and be so free

with what I have been destined to be.

This from me you cannot sever.


Don't you dare try to be so clever.

There are no exceptions whatsoever.

Eternally remains my joyful glee.

The will to power WILL rise forever.


And I do not need you as a lever

Trust you I will never ever.

As you preach your golden sea

and all of this absurdity!

You WILL go down in my endeavor.

The will to power will rise forever.

Social Marketing Tactics Balance Customer Attraction, Retention

social media marketingEvery Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Technorati.com. Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. Websites, blogs, and social media marketing strike the best balance between customer attraction and retention, according to an October 2012 survey from Constant Contact. In its survey of over 1,000 small businesses, the small business marketing firm also found that the tactics least effective at striking the balance were daily deals and online ads. This balance is critical as small businesses need to use their marketing dollars wisely, and if certain tactics can do both, then that's better for the business.

So, just how can small businesses better use websites, blogs, and social media better? What can be done so that customer attraction and retention rates improve by using these tactics, and using them more effectively? Here's how to master these tactics to do just that:

Blog and Post Regularly

Obviously, if you're only blogging and tweeting once a month, you can't expect these tactics to attract and retain customers. You're not doing it enough for anyone to notice. With social media, you should be posting/tweeting/updating at least once a day. With blogging, you should be publishing at least one post per week. With your website, you should work on adding more pages to it at least once a month. When you are employing your tactics often enough (but not so often that you overwhelm people or that your quality suffers), people will take notice of what you are doing and what you have to say. Only then, will you be able to attract and to retain customers.

Create Content with Your Customers in Mind

If all you're talking about is your company's products/services, this award you won, this event you attended, and how great your company is, then these tactics won't retain and attract as many customers as you want. The reason is that your customers don't care about any of those things. They really don't. They care about whatever problem they have and how to solve it. They care about working with a brand that knows what it's doing. They care about spending their money on a solution that will work. Since that's what they care about, that's what you need to talk about in your website, blog, or social media update. Talk about their problems and pain points, and how to solve them. Talk about your industry, where its going, and offer best practices for doing X and Y in your industry. Talk about solutions that work, and what customers ought to spend on such solutions (Yes, be the brand that reveals the number). These people will thank you for it by becoming a customer and encouraging others to become customers.

Connect the Three

Do not operate your website, blog, and social media in three separate silos! Connect the three of them with links as well as a comprehensive strategy. For example, your blog should be easily accessibly through your website, preferably through its own link in the header navigation bar. This is a mistake many small businesses make, as they either aren't connected at all or the only link is in the footer navigation bar. An extra step you can take is to include your blog feed right on the home page, so visitors can also peruse specific articles. Social media should be as accessible from your website, and your blog should include social sharing buttons with each post. On the flip side, use social media to promote your blog posts and your webpages.

As for a comprehensive strategy, think about the strengths of each tactic individually and consider how to use them in a marketing campaign, for example. If you have a new fill-in-the-blank that you want to generate buzz about, use all three to their strengths to generate that buzz. With your blog, do a post that reveals just a piece of the fill-in-the-blank, including a call to action to download, or to register, or to buy, or whatever the proper action is. Your website should have a new page dedicated to the fill-in-the-blank, which can easily be shared on social media or promoted on the home page. Your blog post should also include a link to this page. Social media should be used to drive traffic to both pages, with an even smaller piece revealed to entice clicks.

Keep in mind that, "we have a new fill-in-the-blank! Click here to check it out," is neither enticing, nor revealing. It doesn't give any reason to check it out. This is an example of the talking about yourself problem that we discussed. It emphasizes you and the new thing too much without showcasing what's in it for the visitor or customers.