The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: November 2010

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 8 Weeks

Decisions…

The process of preparing for the arrival of a child is something new to us.  We walk through the stores, look at the goods that are being offered and just get lost.  There are so many things out there that we need or want, but are not sure which way to go.

Luckily there seems to be no end to books, magazines and friends that seem more than willing to suggest these things to you.  Everything from diapers to doctors are suggested by those around us and in the magazines that we have picked up.  At time, however, this seems to only make life a little more confusing for us, though.

We both know that everyone has the very best intentions when they suggest this diaper or that doctor, or some other device or service that is designed to make having or caring for your new baby.  So we really do not mind, we are flattered that so many people out there are willing to take the time to offer advice.  But even with the advice, we start to get a little overwhelmed at times.  Sometimes too much information can be just as bad as too little… and as the old sales saying goes, “If you give a person too many choices, they will choose not to choose.”

I am amazed, though, at the sheer volume of merchandise there is out there for babies and their new families.  Everything from ultrasound units for the home, if you are wealthy enough to afford one, to music to play for the child while they are still in the womb.  You name it, it seems to be out there, waiting for someone to buy it.

We have decided to keep spending at a minimum.  There are a lot of tricks out there to save money if you just look around a little.  The biggest savings that my wife and I have found has been buying much of our stuff at either yard sales or at second hand stores.  There really are some fantastic deals and prices, if you just look around.

Everything that we have picked up so far has been in near perfect or new shape, and with almost no signs of use.  Which makes sense when you think of how long a child actually uses this stuff.  It is about the only time in a kid’s life when they are liable to outgrow something before they wear it out.   A fact that is very friendly on our pocket books and one that I am very aware will change as time goes on and our child grows older.

As I am sure I have said before, though, I am excited about the upcoming addition to the household and am sure that these worries will all take second place to the enjoyment to be had with the child… at least until they reach their teens.  Then I might need to look for a tranquilizer gun.

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 9 Weeks

“Dad”

I have thought about this a lot over the years. Most of the time, though, it has been from the point of view of a child that never really KNEW his father that well, except as the guy that would occasionally show up for the errant birthday or take me off for the obligatory weekend visitation.

That is not to say that my father did not love me, I am sure he did. But when it came to communications, there really was not that much there between us. We would talk, but it was, most of the time, because I do not think either one of us liked the sound of silence.

That being said, there really was no template for me to use when I thought about myself as a father. No image I could hold up and say, “This is what a dad is!” Unless, of course, you counted the Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke and Ward Cleaver images that some of us grew up with. Images that would not stand the test of time even in their own generation.

Instead, as I grew, I learned about being a father through reading, through what my mother told me a father should be, through watching my father’s interaction with my sister.I had sort of built up this “Frankenstein” image and understanding of what a father really could and should be.

It would not be until years later, as an adult, that I would start to really understand what being a father was, when I would adopt people into my life as my mentors and father-figures. People that represented, to me, what a father should be to their children and those around them. People like James Baier (Major, USMC), Jack Bell, Paul Eidmann, Clifford Ayers (My Dad-in-Law) and Russell Petrone. None of them are perfect, far from it, but their hearts are all in the right places, and their kids have all grown up to be good people. Many of their kids are my friends to this day as are they… though two of them have some issues that they need to work out before I kick both their asses (you know who you are.)

The other person that I have to give kudos to for being like a dad to me, oddly enough, is my mother. Barbara E. Wright. She force-fed me the education to be who and what I am today. When I was not in school, she was teaching me manners, principles, ethics, right and wrong, and would occasionally instill the required discipline when I would step out of line. Trust me… there were several times I deserved a good paddling.

It is my hope that the experiences that I have had and the things I have learned from these people, people that have meant so much to me and are a part of my life, even though some of them are no longer with us, can help me by becoming an amalgamation of experience that I can incorporate into my life and help me be a good father.

Someone that I hope, when this child is and adult and I have long since passed, can look at his or her memories of me and say. “I had a great dad!”

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 10 Weeks

I have decided to start a little series here called, as if you could not already tell, Countdown to Fatherhood.

At the time this will publish, there are about ten weeks remaining before my wife’s due date, so I will take the next ten weeks to talk about my feelings of parenting, what my parents were like and how I will use their, and other people’s parents, influences on me, to raise this child.

Before you start “tut-tuting” me, you need to not assume I am an idiot about this. Too many people have gone out of their way to tell me that nothing I or my wife are doing can prepare us for parenting. That all our preconceptions about what we are planning and what will be, are going to be busted when that baby arrives. Yes… I get it, I understand that.

We are excited, nervous, terrified, thrilled… you name the emotion and we have or will go through it. If you are a parent, then I am sure that you know exactly what I am talking about. But we also understand that we are not prepared for what comes next, so the best we can do it be prepared to do the very best we can do. More than likely the same way new parents have been doing for longer that recorded history can say.

I am reading books, and talking to other parents, but I know that this is all to get the generalities down. That by gleaning all this knowledge, my wife, Naty, and I will be prepared for most things, but not all. We will have many answers, but might still be confused or lost at a point or two along the line. This is nothing, I am certain, that many of you folks out there that are parents, have not also done when that first child came into your lives.

We have also surrounded ourselves with friends and family that are excited and pleased to help out along the way. Many of them are experienced parents themselves, some are not but are still excited about sharing the experience with us. For this we are eternally blessed and thankful. Together they make up our extended family and will be, in addition to the Grand Parents, if only in the name of love, if not that of blood, the aunts, uncles and other family.

The fact that we are expecting at all is a blessing. We were advised that we would probably not be able to have children, so after some effort, we stopped trying and decided to live life. Then when we least expected it, it happened. Maybe that is the way it was meant to be. As a friend of our said, we were given a chance to go out and live our lives, now it is time to have a child to share those lives and experiences with.

Are we ready for this child? Yes and no… but this is a new and exciting chapter in our lives, and over the next ten weeks I will share my fears, joys, thought, questions, concerns and ideas with you. You are more than welcome to join in the conversation and share your thoughts with me as well. Who knows… I might even be able to get my wife to chime in.

As always, thank you.

How I was banned from Google AdSense…

This is a story without a happy ending, having to do with a large company with no customer service, and it started in March of 2009.

It is about a company that seems to have grown so large and become so successful, that it can no longer afford to put people in place to help others.  What I plan on sharing with you is not so much that I was banned from Google’s Adsense program, but the processes through which I tried to resolve the problem and the results of that.  I will discuss a little about the process of being banned and what, I am pretty sure, was the cause of my being banned.

Monetizing my site.

After my site, this site that you are visiting right now, had been up for s few years, I decided that I would like to see if I could make a little money from it.  Not being sure how to go about it, I was told about using a service like AdSense, that would allow people to click on content relevant links on my blog, and send them to other sites.  I, in turn, could recieve a small stipend from AdSense for people doing this if they were good clicks.

I am sure I do not need to explain the process to you folks reading this.  Pay-per-click has been around long enough at this point and there are enough of them out there, that this should all be common knowledge to even the greenest of surfers at this point, So I will not bore you with THOSE details.

Shortly after the site went live, I received an email that, for anyone who runs a site and has AdSense, makes the blood freeze in your veins.  The notice from Google that my account had been suspended because of invalid clicks.  Through some investigation, I finally determined that was happened was that my wife had, without knowledge of the consequences, followed several links on my pages to advertisers.  Because of the fact that these clicks came from the same IP as my home, even though it was a different computer, they determined that I was attempting to defraud them, and closed my account.

This is where the issues I have with Google start.

Customer Service (or the lack there of.)

When I first received the email for Google explaining that there was a problem, I panicked. I did not want to have a mark against me with something like this, so I sent in a request for more information.  This is when I discovered that Google has a policy about not sharing the the details of HOW they know that you may have been the cause of the invalid clicks on your site that cause the Ban.  They appear to have a proprietary system that they cannot tell you how they know, for then, I am assuming, you might learn how to defeat it.

I had, during this time, start my own investigation online to see if other people had suffered this fate and what they had done to overcome it.  I was not disapointed, and I discovered that I was part of what appeared to be a very large family of people that had been banned by Google for thing that they considered to be violations.

I will not say that everyone that I met on the Google AdSense forums was innocent.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  There were a great number on there that, when you visited their sites, were in clear violation of the TOS for the AdSense program.  Some of these were sites that I cannot understand how or why they were accepted in the first place.

Then there were many that were banned for very minor issues, the most common of which is not having a privacy statement.  Some of these sites were also guilty of have two or more Monetizing services set up to work on their sites.  Then there were yet others that I, no matter how hard I tried, could find nothing obviously incriminating about them.  This left me to assume that they might have been in the same boat as I was myself.

During this time, I had submitted my first Appeal to the Adsense team and waited to see what the response would be.  I wrote a detailed explanation of what I think was the cause of the erroneous clicks and informed them that this would not happen again.  After I sent this I decided to spend what I thought was going to be a few days looking at the other people and seeing if I could offer advice on the forums.

Within a matter of hour, or so, I received a reply from them stating that they replied stating that they reviewed my request and my site and decided that my site, the one you are reading right now, represented to much of a risk to the Adsense advertisers and they would not allow me back into the system.

Thus started my crusade.

I continued to putter around on the forums and answer questions here and there.  I also made it a point to try and corner a Google employee, on the rare ocassions that one posted something there, but always met with defeat.  They would either not answer any of my questions, or they would refer me to the TOS.

This served as nothing more than fuel for my ire.  I was not content to just sit and not do something about it.  Yes, a mistake was made on my part, but it was just that, a mistake.  We all make them and they are meant to be forgiven at least once.  I can understand it if you make the same ones over and over again, then there is a time to cut a person loose.

So I continued to try and reach someone, anyone, that could help me out.  I found numbers to call within Google and those got me nowhere.  It seemed that when I reached a person, they knew nothing or did not know where to direct me.  I sent letters to any address I could find, even being so nice as to include self addressed, stamped envelopes with them.  All explaining my situation and then asking them to reconsider their banning me.  I never received a reply.

Conclusion.

Google has still not contacted me, and I am still banned from their Adsense program, but I am still working on them.  I am not going to just let this go.  This draconian attitude that they have of only giving a person a single chance just does not make sense to me.  One and your done, I think is what someone on the forums told me.

Google needs to really rethink this program if that is the attitude they wish to keep.  Or, if they plan on playing that way, at least do us all the honor of not even pretending and eliminate the whole “Appeals” process.  It is all just smoke and mirrors anyway and only seems to serve the process of making people THINK they have a chance to get back into the system.

I have since moved on to a company called InfoLinks for my site advertising.  Granted, I am not getting rich and I do not expect to break the bank anytime soon, but that was never what it was about.  All I ever hoped to do was make enough to pay for some of my operating costs for this site.  Anything more would have been icing on the cake.

They just do not get it!

Have you ever been walking through a parking lot and happen to be looking in the windows of some of the cars parked there, and see a car with a woman’s purse sitting in the open. Sitting there for the whole world to see, just asking for someone to come along with ill intent and bust out the window and take it?

This is what I saw tonight as the wife and I were getting a little ice cream at a local place called Dewar’s, and when we went back out to the car, there was a nice BMW parked next to us that had what looked like an expensive purse sitting on the seat. Worse that this by itself was the fact that not only was the purse open, but you could see money in it. Granted… it was only what looked to be a few singles, but if someone was looking for an excuse to bust out your window and steal a purse, then that would have helped them make that choice.

In this day and age, I have never understood why people do foolish things like this. Opening themselves up to loss like that and then putting on the “Oh woe is me” when they get their stuff stolen.

OK… so I should explain that I am not saying that anyone DESERVES to have their property stolen. I have had things stolen before, so I know that feeling, and there is no way I would want a person to feel that sort of loss. That being said, there is no reason that a person should invite that upon themselves and then be surprised.

People just do not seem to GET that people will look for opportunities just like that to open up. There are people that walk through parking lots and look for easy steals, and that would be just too easy of a steal. The only thing that would make it easier would be to leave the door unlocked and a note on the window letting them know that it is open.

Get a clue, people… especially this close to the holidays.

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