Yaz and other ‘rebels’

I was approached by a website to do a link exchange. As I’ve written before – this is nothing too new. The new part was a seemingly directed interest in a certain pharmaceutical: Yaz.
Personally, I am no fan of birth control. Not for the birth control part. I’m a big fan of exercising control over such issues. Big Fan! I just don’t believe that anyone (and by that I also mean any doctor, pharmaceutical company or researcher) has the info to rearrange an individual’s body systems for any directed purpose. Especially one as all-encompassing as the entire sexual hormone production of a person. (Like that’s not going to have consequences.)

Now I’ve attended, worked at and worked out at a university for most of the last 20 years. This means that I see how particularly birth control is marketed to the young women of the university. I have never seen the side effects listed – if at all – in print larger than 10 point. This includes on posters that are more than 2×2 feet in size. They are always an after-thought, as if it didn’t matter as long as the ‘prime objective’ was served.
Well, as someone who cannot take birth control due to blood clots, I haven’t been keeping up with the new types and brands. [I remember getting the usual follow-up at the doctors’ office and had high blood pressure. I’m thin and eat well and was very young at the time (~20) so there was no reason for this. My cholesterol turned out to be dangerously high. Higher than some of the obese people I knew at the time. Then came the blood clot – behind the knee (one of the most common places to notice leg clots as a layperson) and that was the end of my trials (which included over a dozen different varieties) with chemical birth control.]

So I was inspired to investigate Yaz. Drug Watch is a site with an interest in informing the public about drugs that have proven to have harmful side effects.

And Yaz is in their sites.

In the interest of fairness – I visited the Yaz site. It first wanted me to input the DIN before I could enter. I guess they don’t want anyone who doesn’t already possess the drug to visit them. (Interesting marketing idea – don’t let people make informed choices or bring information to their doctors – no, trust in your sales team to reach every doctor and give out enough samples that people who are interested will already have the drug in their hands.)
Once you enter the DIN, they ask if you’re 14 – the minimum age for usage – that’s all that’s on the page too. A picture and that question. Then you’re into the ‘highly informative’ yet ‘jazzy’ site.
Seriously, they must think every young woman is a moron – or listening to Rush Limbaugh (same thing)- had to throw that one in – what a buffoon. (Hey Rush, not every woman wants to be a 20 year old swimsuit model – for all of time. Just because that’s what you want women to look like doesn’t mean that’s what they want -but I’m sure you don’t understand the concept of No Means No either. BTW do you also expect your mom, Mrs. Limbaugh to look like a swimsuit model?)

When you finally get into the Yaz site – there is nominal information about the product. You have to listen to this ridiculously lame video that states right in it -that all of the side effects and warnings are on the drug pamphlet that you, the viewer of the site, already has. CUTE. What’s next, telling me that any adverse effects I might experience are my fault for having the drug in my hand in the first place? (Blaming the doc’s now?)

The site also does another ‘clever’ thing – they’ve put all the text in as a picture. That way it isn’t search-able. Take a look at the bottom of the screen – I’ve typed in nausea which appears as the first word under the heading beginning “The most common side effects . . .”

The blue bar at the side does another interesting marketing thing – it doesn’t indicate size. Most such navigational tools show a large or small bar depending if there’s a bit more on the page or lots more on the page, respectively. So you have to scroll through the whole thing to find out how much info there is

.

And as usual, it’s written at a grade 4 level and contains very little actual information. Hence the need for Drug Watch or more local for me C-Health. I like their site too because it gives the facts straight up with just some advertising (Huggies, that kind of thing) and general health stuff too. One of the things I found regarding Yaz was a list of states of being that were incompatible with Yaz:

 

They also had an easy to find and read list of drug interactions. I had to zoom out 4 times to get this list as one screen shot. 4 times – how dangerous is this drug? And why is it made out to be – for ‘everyone’ who is over 14, less than menopausal and a non-smoker. (Good thing most public places are smoke-free. Perhaps that will eventually mean most people are too.)

I also found an interesting blog post regarding Yaz and hair loss. If the bloating, gas, weight gain and irritability wasn’t enough to make you completely unattractive (I’m assuming this is of a modicum of import if the person taking the pills is concerned about birth control) the loss of hair will seal the deal.

It explains how this young lady had hair loss problems with Yaz – especially after halting the pills. What was more telling to me were the comments. So many not only found the site, read the post but also shared their own stories of horror. And here’s just one:

first off congrats for your progress!!! second…You just described everything that I am going through. I
don’t think I’m losing that much hair as you said in the 300’s. I was on yasmin for 5 years and loved
it except it made me bloated and i’m a normal/thin body type but i didn’t really care. I thought my hair
was started to thin out after my 5th year so I switched to yaz, plus my dr had free samples and coupons
bc i dont have insurance. i was on yaz for 5 months. it was so horrible with my moods and just not
well feeling. (plus i was a total bitch and never wanted sex) after the 3rd month of being on yaz i noticed
my hair started to fall out as i washed it and combed it. It was all over my clothes and weirdly yo
u could
see “hair balls” on my clothes after they came out of the washer! so this is my first month off yaz and free
of bcp all together. let me know everything that you tried bc it is extemely frustrating and i dont have
the money to be going to drs. I went to 2 diff derm drs who charged me $120 each just to tell me to go
on rogaine! this is my 2nd month on rogaine and nothing has really changed. im 24 and i eat extremely
healthy and dont dye or blow dry my hair and had blood work done that came back normal.

Now I know that birth control is important – even if the Republicans don’t. (Check out Freakonomics’ take on the government-forced lack of birth control in Romania and what it’s

results were – if you don’t remember the rampant stories coming out of Romanian orphanages that is.) Bottom line, women raise children. And, if they don’t want them – they won’t be raised in a way that benefits those who live among them.  That’s all the rest of us.  All  The Rest Of Us.

There are options – but Yaz doesn’t seem to be one of the universally wonderful ones.

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E-Business Strategies – link exchanges

It is no surprise that all businesses, non-profit through huge merged conglomerate companies, are in it for the

And hey, that’s just fine.  Even though we can’t eat money (in the direct sense), we certainly need it to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves.  I know that my own accounts make it possible for me to stay on this computer for instance and blog.  I even went so far as to start my own business to provide a product that wasn’t really available and from my own experience was rather necessary: practical hospital gifts.  I mean my flowers were nice but I could have used a puzzle book, some saline and something to clean my bloody IV line among other things.

And so, I have found myself in the perilous waters of e-business.

I have previously written about how tricky it can be to navigate the waters with sharks constantly circling trying to separate your company from its money.  (Well, I suppose that’s better than a person from their life but just barely.)  Unfortunately for the uninitiated, it feels like an episode of South Park where you know what your business product is and you know you want profits and you have to be online to get them but there’s a black box inbetween.

Does anyone remember the underpants gnomes.  They’d steal Tweek’s underpants with the idea that this would lead to “Profit”.  It was the How that stumped them – and tortured poor caffeine-addicted Tweek who was constantly in search of his underpants.

One of the many ebusiness concepts that is deemed essential is links.

Marketing companies make out like if you have enough links customers will be pounding down your doors (or at least jamming up the server).  But how true is this really?  How many links are enough?  It would seem you need thousands if not hundreds of thousands of links for the server-collapsing results that everyone would love to see.

Back in the day, like 5 years ago, it only mattered what your website page Metas were.  That was the Big Thing.  Then these guys (minus bing because they weren’t around 5 years ago)

 

could find your business and make you $$$$$$$$$.  With the meteoric rise of Social Networking, Metas are passe.  But the problem remains, how to get to the top of a search engine?  How to get your business in front of your customers when they are searching?  Well, the Googles, Yahoos and Bings are not going to reveal what it takes.  So what remains?  Link exchanges are still up for grabs.

It seems just about every week I get more requests for link exchanges.  This is good of course but are the products they sell similar?  To be honest most of the exchanges come from bloggers who I’m assuming sell stuff but it is not readily apparent.  So is this the way to build more business and therefore more $$$$$$?  I don’t know.  But I do know that it costs nothing but a bit of time.  It does seem to garner a better placement in searches and ultimately that helps get your business more exposure not only from the search engines but also from Social Networking sites – so why not.

Just beware the unscrupulous.  Check out the sites they claim to be exchanging with you and make sure you approve of the content.  That can be laborious.  It makes me wonder if the internet marketing sharks do even a cursory glance prior to exchanges for their clients.  Or do they simply make their own link hubs so that they can feel in control?

Seems to me that the marketers would do better to focus on social network ‘links’ over virtual malls (where many of their customer’s links are placed) that no one uses.  I mean really, do you know anyone who has purchased off of an e-mall?  Or started a product search there?  Because that certainly feels like a

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Cloth diapers get dirty – an old way to get them clean really works!

This will be another weird one but here goes . . .

As you may have read, I use cloth diapers for my babies.  And as I’m sure you can imagine they’re not that easy to get / keep clean.  I’ve used just about everything available on the market and have pretty much given up on my unlined diapers.  But when I wasn’t getting proper results even with the lined ones, I all but despaired.  OK.  Despair is a wee bit strong.

Nevertheless, they were no longer getting clean and I need to use them for another at least year if not 2 and there is no way I am going to buy new ones.  And, I’m not going to use dirty-looking diapers.

Like all parents, I read to my kids.  And one of the stories I read is Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

Now in this story, there’s a part where we see Mr. Scrooge’s laundry over the fire and it occurred to me that in the way back days people did have white clothing.  (I’ve always assumed that brides wore white through history not only as a show of purity but because it would have been nearly impossible to have white clothing.  So it would have been a show of $$$ to have a nice white dress.)

With this spark of inspiration, I took out the diapers that didn’t get clean after round 1 in the wash machine and put them in a pot with boiling water and some Oxy Clean.  Put the pot on the stove top on high for an hour or so – and AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH, clean diapers.

Who’da thunk?  Looking back helped me with my ‘old school’ diapering problem.  Perhaps it’ll help you too!

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Transitioning


This cute little tyke is the spokesmodel for Motherease diapers. My cloth diaper of choice.

I am one of the many who has a time-share. Apparently those little sales talks can be quite effective. Because of this association, I recently went on vacation to Fairmont Hot Springs.

This was one of those – deals that had us out for a week and coming home on Christmas Eve.  I was to find out that I was hosting dinner that night but that is a separate story.
Knowing that I’d be gone so long, this mom of a wee one who normally uses cloth diapers stepped off that treadmill and had a bit of a tough time getting back on.

I knew I wouldn’t have the capacity to manage the usually simple schedule of laundry while out and about all week in the mountains. Our schedule instead revolved around time at the pools, springs, games rooms and outdoors.  So the natural choice was to use disposables.

All of this is rather hum-drum I know.  The point of my little entry here though is once you get used to the convenience of using disposables it’s not so easy to transition back into using cloth.  For instance, I’ve been home for 6 days and haven’t done a load of diapers yet.  I would have done 2 loads by now if I hadn’t been away.  So what’s with the change-up?

Well, I guess I got a bit too used to the ease of disposables.  I knew that Christmas Eve and Day would be crazy for me.  What with the impromptu dinner (I had cooked for it weeks ago so everyone would be fed regardless – but I had thought not in my home) and the inevitable running around to all of the family, there was no way I was going to be changing diapers ever hour.  No way whatsoever.  So I stuck with the disposables that I had used during vacation.

What are those things made of anyway?  If the little one isn’t pooping, they’re good for like 12 hours.  What’s with that and how is that even possible?  Are they toxic?  Is there some sort of NASA-like space-age substance in them that enables them to hold a whole day’s worth of pee?  Seriously!

Good thing the New Year is coming and with it the usual guilt of not living our chosen ‘Best Way’.  If it weren’t for that, I may never pick up my socks and get back into the swing of cloth diapering.

So to all of the mothers who diligently use cloth every day of their babies’ lives, my hat’s off to you.  I wish I had that much fortitude.  Perhaps next year.

Brought to you by You Get Well Soon – practical packs for hospital stays or stops.

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The things no one tells you about having a baby . . .

It all starts the same way. We’re happy to finally know that a baby is on the way. Ah, Babies. They’re soft, cute, warm, beautiful. There are no more wonderful little beings on the planet than babies.

Getting a baby is a different story. I’m not going there today.

Where I will be going is to my temporary blindness. OK, blind is a gross over-statement. Vision problems. About 4 months after my first was born, I woke up, found my glasses and still couldn’t see. Weird lots? No doubt. With the glasses, I covered each eye in turn to find out which eye was the problem; the right. So I took off the glasses and checked out if my right eye was suddenly worse or better. Either way would mean that with the glasses I had, I wouldn’t be able to see properly. Turned out that my right eye was suddenly better. It didn’t help me but I could see better out of my right eye than I had in years. (Insert small happy dance.)

I got an emergency appointment with my long-time optometrist and saw him a few hours later. (Quite the drive over – no fooling.)

And that’s when I got the news: breastfeeding can alter vision. In a million years I never would have guessed this one. Apparently, the tears can change consistency which would change the moisture level and clarity of the surface of the cornea. Huh.

I had laser eye surgery in the time between having my 2 kids. The procedure is a whole thing that has to be planned out – so many menstrual cycles have to occur, vision has to be stable for ‘x’ amount of time. It’s a bit of a series of hoops to be ready to have it done. But, I did qualify for the surgery and I’ve enjoyed perfect (well practically perfect) vision for a few years now. So imagine my surprise when the day after my second’s 1st birthday, I woke up and couldn’t see out of my right eye.

Really?!? Again?

I got another emergency appointment. Sadly this time not with my eye doctor – he had the nerve to retire without informing me. Sheesh, who does he think he is retiring like that?
Turned out the practice had another fellow able to see me so I got someone to drive me this time and figured it would be the same thing as last time: “Vision should return to what it was in a day or 2” It did last time. I woke up that next day with my right eye as bad as it had always been and used my glasses as before.

This time though, the new doctor told me that something was wrong. Apparently, I had corneal damage. What? It didn’t hurt. I just couldn’t see very well out of my right eye. I had gotten so used to having perfect vision it was a real bummer to have a haze over my eye. Like there was oil or cream in it. It didn’t seem that bad and I wasn’t even going to see the optometrist until the next day. (You know, in case it just corrected itself.) Turned out it was a good thing I went – corneal damage, it would seem, is nothing to brush off. Especially after having had the surgery.

There were some scratches on my cornea. And now I cannot remember how it happened. I had to run down the possible reasons:
I sleep with my eyes a little open because there are always kids needing something in the night.
The kids often either head butt me in the eye or poke me in the eye. It happens with shocking and I wish less frequency.
I make my own saline sometimes and perhaps the salt wasn’t completely dissolved. You’d think it would have hurt at the time though. (I crochet and often get bits of yarn on my eye and it’s best to wash off the surface of my eyes with an eye cup. – – I love my eye cups and couldn’t possibly live without them.)

So there were multiple possibilities as to why. I don’t know how, I only know that I now have to take anti-inflammatory drops 4 times a day and go back in a week to see if the damage has fixed itself. Yikes!

Bottom line: Breastfeeding is great and wonderful but can have a couple of unforseen consequences. So if it happens to you, or someone you know, you’ve got a story to share and some advice – See An Optometrist, NOW.

Brought to you by You Get Well Soon – practical packs for hospital stays or stops.

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Steer clear of the sharks – 9 ways to increase web traffic to your website

Publish = blood in the water

From the second I published my online business website, I have been inundated by sharks. They contact me every way you can possibly imagine at all hours of the day and night, weekdays and weekends. No time is safe and they seem to never sleep. To whom am I referring? All of those companies who make money selling online businesses the ‘service’ of generating exposure.

The calls usually come from area code 425 – Washington State. Although some have been from Utah (801). I’m wise to such calls. Mostly because I am not in Washington or the states so there is no particular reason for my initial clientelle to be from WA.

The claims and approaches from these blood-suckers are as wide and varied as the types and number rain drops that fall on their beloved state.

Some are relentless, somewhat complementary and smooth, some insulting and impossible to get rid of while some try the kindly, helpful approach. No matter the tactic, the goal is the same: separate online business owner from their money. (And in honesty, most new online business owners don’t make money. Like other new business owners, they spend money – a lot of which isn’t even theirs to begin with. You know that’s the truth.)

The claims range too:

“We’ll get you to the top of the search engines.”

 

“We’ll drive qualified traffic to your site”

 

(I love this one in particular because – they’ve called, emailed, used my site’s contact page – they’re relentless. And note the above website info – not found. Every search of this company yielded other companies and even the usual ‘purchase this domain name’. Sure – I’m going to give you $1000s to promote my business when I cannot find yours. Wait by the phone for my credit card info!)

“You need to optimize your key words and metas”

 

“We can guide you through the process of getting seen through blogs, online shopping catalogs, meta optimization, key word searches, etc.”

 

“You need to know what people are searching – and sell that”

 

“We get 17 000 online shoppers daily to our ‘mortar-and-brick’ style online shopping mall”

 

Really? Hmmmm. I buy stuff online. Sometimes I use a general search. Sometimes a proven seller – like the Shopping Channel. (One of my favs. I just bought a few things tonight actually.) But NEVER have I used either an online catalog, or mall. Never.

The crazy thing is to get to the top of the search engines – you need to do what they want. Mostly, have links going to and from your site. The best way to do this – a zillion malls, directories and catalogs that no one uses but that update many times a day, thus re-initiating all of those links making it seem as though people go to these sites.

Another fav of the search engines – press releases. Most of the online press release sites are likewise totally bogus and you can only find them if you are really looking for them. A reputable news site seems to generate more weight than the fabricated, no one sees them ‘news’ sites, but bottom line; any website that’s updated very frequently and contains the links in the format recognized will do the trick.

Personally, I checked my Google search status prior to updating my Google Adwords and found that my site was being found on page 2. With the adwords account re-invested, I was suddenly 4th on the 1st page. (Not counting the ad which appeared at the top of the page.) Coincidence? I doubt it. Pay them money – and they’ll immediately rank you higher.

So what have I learned about online business by starting a commerce-based website?

  1. Don’t pick up the phone if the area code is 425. If they’re reputable, they’ll leave a message – and often they will when they’re not.
  2. Use metas and key words in a way that will optimize your searchability. No more than 6 repetitions on any 1 page of your key word(s) and make sure your metas match. And use the reverse search tools to find out how people search for your items.
  3. Publish often. By often, I mean as close to everyday as you can manage.
  4. Exchange links. Find businesses to link exchange with you. This usually means setting up 1 or more pages to accommodate these but the links are what the search engines want to see so you’ve got to do it. And try to keep these exchanges within your general category of business. (Not always easy since you’re all in competition.)
  5. Don’t be swayed! Sometimes the sharks will tell you that it’s unclear if and/or what you’re selling on your site. Or even that your site (that you probably agonized for 100s of hours to build) is awkward to navigate. Ask people close enough to you to check out your site but far enough away from you to tell you the truth. And pick people who shop online!
  6. Blog. Become an expert at something – preferably something related to what you’re selling. (There’s a reason why so much of the info on the net is crap – businesses are forced to be experts – and often they’re not. They’re just slogging along like everyone else.)
  7. Ask for and take advice. I’m big on doing research – mostly because I like it and I’m pretty good at it. I’ve read so many books and articles on how to generate traffic and business online. And most of the advice is the same. Worse still, most matches with what the sharks say too.
  8. Keep at it. I’m sure every person reading this knows someone who’s done a multi-level marketing business (Amway, Norwex, Avon, Tupperware, PartyLite, etc.). I’m also going to guess that that person you know gave up on their business. Not because it didn’t work – but because they didn’t stay in it long enough for it to work.
  9. Paying the sharks won’t get you all the business you’re looking for right away – if ever. When you talk to them long enough, you’ll find (if they’re honest with you) that they say it’ll take 6-12 months to see any marked improvement in traffic.

Brought to you by You Get Well Soon – practical packs for hospital stays or stops.

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2 days, 1000s of women . . . whew

Thank you Calgary!

Thanks to everyone who came by our booth at the Calgary Woman’s Show. We are taking this opportunity to acknowledge everyone who took the time to offer their support, give us tips for new products and markets as well as the many, many who came to make purchases for themselves, their loved ones and the soon-to-arrive loved ones in their lives.

The ladies of Calgary were so generous we even had one lady, Heather S., purchase a Ready for Anything pack to donate to the Foothills Hospital so that one of their patients may have an easier time with their stay in hospital.  She thought the packs were a great idea but had recently been in hospital and wasn’t planning a future visit.  Go figure.

When I went into the hospital to deliver the pack, I explained  the situation to the volunteer on duty and was taken to the admitting desk.  After a long wait and no one available to speak with us, I was sent to Unit 61 where most people who come from emergency end up when they need to stay in hospital. I took the pack to the nurse on duty and tried hard to get the whole story out quickly so that she wouldn’t think I was wasting her time and once I got the words out her face changed.  She was so happy to hear that someone would go to that kind of effort to repay the kindness they had received at their hospital.  It’s this generosity that makes Calgary a wonderful place to live and do business.

Our biggest seller was the Office Pack which I think we’re going to have to rename.  So many people seemed to think it was perfect for a short hospital stay or for returning home from a minor procedure.  No one likes to be confined to bed, even at home, but having a few things nearby that aren’t going to clog up the whole of your bedside table – now that’s convenient.

So once again, thank you Calgary Woman’s Show attendees for your warm reception. We will be posting the winners of our Show prizes (2 daily prizes of Elizabeth Grant Golden Angel bath products and our Grand Prize of a photo sitting with pictures from our kind friend Nadine Foster.)

Be sure to use your Calgary Woman’s Show Coupon for future purchases – good until the end of the year.

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