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I had a bit of a panic this weekend when my Gmail and two other email addresses compromised for about 12 hours. Facebook too. Doesn’t appear to be data lost – only a strange domain transfer request for GoDaddy in my Gmail.

As my friend Devanie Angel suggested, I double verified my Google account, and that protected me from further intrusion attempts (from someone in Caracas, Venezuela, apparently, according to Facebook). However my Bluehost email accounts were hacked again. So I changed the passwords again, to something scoring 100% on their password strength scale, and haven’t been hacked since.

I have run MalWare Bytes, SpyBot and Trend Micro HouseCall. I ran a Full System Scan in Norton (around 6 million files). There were 66 tracking cookies set, but no Trojan Horses or anything else. Other computers in my home network are clean too.

Maybe taken from cell phone? Emails and Facebook passwords have been entered there … AT&T says nope.

So … we’ll see! I certainly hope this fight is over, in any case.

Since we’re moving to Seattle and are planning to go to Mariners games (as many as I can arrange!), here are some Mariners products from my friend’s Fanatics site …

There are hundreds more Mariners products, but I am just putting a few on here.

 


Nike Seattle Mariners White Stadium Adjustable Hat

Seattle Mariners Navy Blue Newborn Baseball Bib & Booties Set

Majestic Seattle Mariners Navy Blue Newborn My First Tee T-shirt

Nike Seattle Mariners Khaki Stadium Adjustable Hat

Nike Seattle Mariners Navy Blue Wool Classic Adjustable Hat

Majestic Seattle Mariners #51 Ichiro Suzuki Navy Blue Players T-shirt

Seattle Mariners Hanging Cell Phone Antenna Charm

Majestic Seattle Mariners #51 Ichiro Suzuki Navy Blue Youth Player T-shirt

’47 Brand Seattle Mariners Navy Blue Franchise Fitted Hat

Nike Seattle Mariners Navy Blue Swoosh Flex Hat

Seattle Mariners Sof-Grip 3-Pack Pen Set

Majestic Seattle Mariners #51 Ichiro Suzuki Navy Blue Replica Baseball Jersey

New Era Seattle Mariners Navy Blue On-Field 59FIFTY Fitted Hat

Seattle Mariners Team Logo Neoprene Mousepad

New Era Seattle Mariners Green 9FIFTY Le Arch Snapback Adjustable Hat

This was written June of 2003, just after we had Eric Anthony …

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How it all happened …

Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce had an interesting time making it to the “outside” world! Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce

Emi was diagnosed with preterm labor at 34 weeks. We had gone to a Doctor’s appointment in early April, and found out Emi was already starting to dilate, so she was sent to the hospital for observation. She had been experiencing contractions all throughout the pregnancy, but we had thought they were Braxton-Hicks, and not the real thing. However, they were enough to get preterm labor starting! Emi stayed in the hospital for three days, missing a Neuro test – one of the course’s three tests for the year (meaning Emi’s next Neuro test was worth two-thirds of her final grade – more on this later). We were pretty nervous, since a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks (give or take two weeks) but we were reassured somewhat by a perfect sonogram and no other signs of problems.

The doctor, Robert Schorlemer, told us we should probably expect the baby to come within the next two weeks. Talk about a shift in our thinking! We were pretty well prepared well enough in advance, but it was tough to not have a more definite idea of when the big event would take place.

A week later, Emi was considerably more dilated, and was put on bedrest after another brief hospital stay. Can you imagine trying to convince a hummingbird not to fly? However, Emi wasn’t feeling that great, and we understood the longer the baby could wait before birth, the fewer health risks Eric Anthony would have upon delivery.

Emi’s mom, Yolanda, flew up from Mexico City, and helped us prepare as much as possible. She was a Godsend! There was still a lot to do (can anyone say “Nesting”?) and the days passed slowly. I focused on getting everything prepared so I could take some time off work, still doing everything I could to make Emi more comfortable. She was very strict with her diet and the strongest medication she took through the pregnancy was a couple of Tums, I think on two occasions in the early morning hours when her reflux was too much for her to sleep. Neither of us slept much those last few weeks … everyone was telling us to enjoy the last days of being able to sleep in, but with Emi’s discomfort and my nerves, I don’t think we were able to sleep any more then than we are sleeping now. Slightly different, though … indigestion and freaking out have been replaced with diapering and feeding.

Dr. Schorlemer told Emi that when she got to 38 weeks, she would be taken off bedrest, since that would be in the “safe zone” for the baby to be delivered. She was still having contractions constantly between five and ten minutes apart. How tiring it was for her! The doctor was continually amazed that the baby wasn’t coming yet, since she was so far dilated and effaced!

The days continued to pass and every time we did something, we would jokingly comment “this might be the last Monday before the baby.” “This might be the last episode of ‘Buffy’ before the baby.” “This might be the last time we say ‘this might be the last time before the baby’ before the baby.”

Finally we made it to 38 weeks, and Emi was taken off bedrest. We celebrated by going out to dinner (“this might be the last time we go out to dinner …” oh, you get the idea) and going to Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity in North Star Mall. The days continued to pass and Emi neared the original due date – and finals week! Emi’s final exams began on Friday, May 16, and concluded with her Neuro final on May 23. Since she had made it this far, she hoped she would be able to last through Finals Week … or else she would have to take remedial exams over the summer, which she definitely didn’t want to do with a newborn!

Emi’s dad and brother flew into town and spent a few days, hoping to get to spend some time with the new addition. However, they both left, and Yolanda extended her plane ticket for another two weeks.

The tests began and still no baby. We had been told two due dates and for most of the pregnancy, based on measurements the first sonogram or a tiny embryo, we had been going with May 19; but the official due date was May 22. May 19th came and went. So did the 20th, 21st and the 22nd. Just one more day and she would be done with her exams. However, she started feeling “funny” on the night of Thursday, May 22. When she told her mom she was going to bed early that night, we all thought something might be happening – though we were cautious not to over-react. I went to bed at midnight and awoke about three hours later by Emi, who was sitting up on the edge of the bed. She said she was having “serious contractions” and they were seven minutes apart. We discussed whether or not to go to the hospital then and there, but we decided to wait to see if she would be able to attend her last Neuro exam or not. We decided to take it one hour at a time, and by 8 a.m., after spending time with a heating pad, in the shower and in the glider, she decided she could take her exam.

So off we went. We packed up the car and drove to her school, which was across the street from the hospital. Her classmates were pretty amazed to see her, and even more surprised to find out she was in active labor!

About two hours later, Emi finished her exam, and we drove her to the hospital. She was admitted at noon and was 5-1/2 cm (you need to be 10 cm to deliver). Her water was broke in the hospital, and that brought on the “serious” contractions again – but this time much more serious. Shortly after (not short enough!) she was given an epidural, which made the contractions much more managable. At 3:30 p.m., the nurse came in and informed us that Emi was at 9 cm and nearly ready to start pushing!

The pushing started around 4 p.m., and lasted nearly two hours, at which point Emi delivered our beautiful child, Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce at 5:56 p.m.

For work, I’ve been doing internet marketing, focusing primarily on “CPA” (Cost Per Action) marketing. This means every time someone fills out a form on one of my websites, I get paid. It’s also called “CPL” – cost per lead. I do this through my company, Delta Leads.

There is another direction I’ve been working on for Internet marketing … this is “CPS” – Cost Per Sale. This is when you lead site visitors to merchant sites, and I would earn a commission from any purchases made on merchant sites that I have directed the visitors to.

Many of these merchants are organized through a company called ShareASale, based out of Chicago. The merchants stretch all across the board in practically every consumer group imaginable. Through ShareASale, you tell the merchant you want to try to advertise for them, and they either accept you or not.

A year or so ago, I set up a site with Mike Greene called www.ShopKidsClothes.net … the issue I had was getting all datafeeds (spreadsheets of products, descriptions, costs, images, links, etc, set up by different merchants) to have common field sections, so I could display easily groups of products from a variety of merchants. I followed the blog posts of Eric Nagel, whom I greatly respect, and learned a lot about how to integrate the datafeed into your site. I also got a lot of help from ShareASale’s Jason Rubacky, who spent hours with me explaining how he does things, and helping brainstorm ways to make it work.

While at ShareASale’s annual ThinkTank conference in Austin, TX, I met with many merchants, and was approved with companies I’ve been interested in working with for quite some time.

One of these companies, Tea Collection, is the provider of kids clothes that my wife and I have been buying for years. Another company, The Land of Nod, is something I will be working with as well.

There are many ways to promote their products, but a popular way is to create a site with WordPress (like this site is a WordPress site, using the Thesis theme). I’m updating the ShopKidsClothes.net site to manly promote the Tea Collection products, as well as having a section for sports apparel from my friend Wade Tonkin’s Fanatics site.

WyzAnt Tutoring, which is basically a well-organized and personalized classifieds for tutors, offers challenges in taking advantage of a large pool of member data (tutor information) and matching that with potential students needing services based on class, grade level and location.

So, that’s the plan for now … I am still pushing the heck out of Delta Leads and trying new recipes to keep things fresh and moving forward. But it’s a great time and a fun challenge to try to utilize everything I’ve learned to this point to get organic traffic to a site and to get them to convert … en masse.

 

 

We’ve been teaching the kids to play guitar, but I think we probably need more help. We’ll give the Learn & Master Guitar Home School Edition a shot!


I type this with hands more sore and tanned than they were 48 hours ago. Last night I got home from ShareASale‘s annual ThinkTank event, held in Austin along Lake Travis at Lakeway Resort and Spa.

Brian Littleton, ShareASale President and CEO, and his team put on one heck of an event. There were plenty of organized opportunities to meet directly with merchants and affiliate managers to set up new relationships. And it was great to meet the ShareASale staff … a fun group of people!

I live in San Antonio, about a two-hour drive from the resort. I hit the road about 9:30am on Wednesday, giving me plenty of time for a leisurely Hill Country drive. And it was beautiful! Our recent rains have helped the area turn green, and a warm spring day can be glorious.Lakeway Resort and Spa, Lake Travis resort, Austin Texas

Checking in was uneventful, except for soaking in the ambiance of the Texas lake resort. Antlers and guitars were prominently featured in the motif. One guitar was signed by members of the Beach Boys, as well as all of the people from that event.

I headed right out to the golf course, where I met up with Brian Littleton and Lindsey Savoie, Merchant Development Manager (and heckuvan organizer). Brian was living up to the challenge of Best Dressed per foursome, decked out in hot-colored lightning-bolt pants. However, he graciously picked me as the top in my foursome, due to my plaid shorts and cap. We even have proof, as this made it into ThinkTank’s concluding video.Brian Littleton, ShareASale President Brian Littleton, lightning pants

Brian also put us to shame at the opening tee. After Joe Sousa (not my cousin) knocked a straight fairway shot further than I’ve ever hit a drive, Brian offered a $20 bill to anyone able to hit one further than Joe. Of course none of us were able to match the distance. So Brian stepped up to give it a shot … and promptly crushed it. I knew I was in for a challenging afternoon, and declared that I would be happy to drop along the way when necessary to keep things moving.

I am happy to report that I didn’t humiliate myself too badly on the course. I shot the only par on the second hole. I stopped counting after that.

After nine holes, I needed to get back to the resort to check in on work, and to rest for a bit before the evening’s networking welcoming reception. Clad in my personalized blue “My name is Eric Souza and I am an Affiliate” t-shirt, I headed to the reception.

While everyone else was mingling inside, I walked around the back to call and say goodnight to my kids. It was a gorgeous spot overlooking Lake Travis with the sun nearing the horizon. The only other person out there was a friendly bartender named Nam, who kept me stocked with water and Shiner Bocks.

It was nice to have a quiet spot to sing our usual lullaby to the kids. And shortly after, people started making their way to the deck to watch the sunset. It was a great spot to meet new people and chat. And then when the group migrated back into the room (partially motivated by Missy Ward assuring me that there was indeed a sushi corner) the socializing kicked into high gear. There were 18 tables of OPMs and appetizers to walk through. And at each table, they stamped a card which at the end of the night, would serve as a ticket for a drawing for two round-trip tickets to … Hawaii! (Note the foreshadowing!)ShareASale ThinkTank2012

I walked through and met old friends and made new ones. My list of favorite people is expanding!

As the evening was wrapping up, I grabbed a spot near Affiliate Boys of Summer podcast compadre Greg Hoffman and Fanatics‘s Wade Tonkin. We chatted for a bit, until the Hawaii trip drawing. I didn’t even realize they were pulling names until I heard … “Eric … Souza?”

It was quiet for a moment and then it sunk in … she called my name! When the initial shock wore off, I hooted a quick “Woo0Hoo!!” and walked up. Even now as I write this, I still can’t quite believe it!! And let me say again, THANK YOU ShareASale. This is incredible. I called my wife (woke her up!) and told her … she playfully didn’t believe me at first. 🙂

The rest of the trip, I’ve had a few offers for backups in case my wife can’t make it. Most notably, the Affiliate Boys of Summer guys, whom I told could be my dates so long as they wear bikinis. I think that swung the balance back to my wife.

The next morning was highlighted by the individual meetings. What a great idea this was, to organize merchants at stations and “speed-date” the affiliates with them in 15-minute chunks. I have a couple of irons in the fire with new relationships as a result of these meetings, and I’m eager to get them going!

The afternoon was spent on Lake Travis in a skiboat and a WaveRunner. Attendees were welcomed onto a yacht and a pontoon, which were tied together in a nearby cove as a Lake Party Central. But most of my time was spent in the front of the skiboat, and trying to relive my youth on a slalom ski and kneeboard. It was fun to get a little hydrosliding in, but the skiing was actually accomplished by guys like ShareASale’s Sales Director David Zelken (and apparently ShareASale’s push-up champion) and Nick Marchese, ShareASale Sales Specialist and Kermit the Frog impressionist. Sorry I didn’t get any shots of you skiing with the mask – classic! Glad the video crew got it.David Zelken water-skiing on Lake Travis in Austin, TX

The afternoon was a blur of wind-in-the-face fun on the lake, alternating between boat time and WaveRunner time. And by the time we got back to the docks, it was already nearly 6pm. I cleaned up and packed, since I had to drive home after the second night’s events. But I didn’t want to miss Shawn Collins and Missy Ward’s Affiliate Summit-sponsored poolside reception. I wasn’t able to make it to Summit because my wife was on call Tuesday (meaning a 24-hour shift in the NICU) but I was glad to see them at ThinkTank. It was another beautiful evening, with excellent catering an an open bar. I had stayed with water all day, knowing I would have to drive home after all was said and done.

The video itself – hilarious! Aside from the mashed potato bar and prime rib, that was the talk of the night. So much fun – can’t wait to see it again (despite the display of my skiing flops!).

So I said my goodbyes, sang my farewells and drove back through deer-thick roads until getting home about 12:30 this morning.

Thank you again, ShareASale, for putting on an excellent event.

Twice a week, each of my kids have their own special “talk” time. Tonight was Anya’s talk, and we watched some old Schoolhouse Rock videos on YouTube. Despite the older production quality, she was fascinated by “Verbs”, the 70s funk learner. Then we watched a Honky Tonk stomper called “Nouns” … which not surprisingly taught us that a noun is a person, place or thing.

Before closing the iPad so we could talk about her day, she pointed out one other video she wanted to see – one of my favorites from when I was a little kid, “I’m Just a Bill.”

We watched it, and when it was over, I asked her if she’d learned anything. She said she did.

“Will I be learning about nouns and verbs when I’m in first grade?” she asked. We have three more weeks of Kindergarten.

“I’m sure you will,” I replied. And I asked her about the Bill video. “Did you learn anything from that?”

She told me she was a little confused by it, so I explained that each part of the country – each state – has congressmen and congresswomen that go to Washington, DC, to try to tell the rest of the country what the people in their area want. So if there is a problem and there needs to be a law, then the leaders – called politicians – can talk about it and make a change. I used an example of the cafeteria lunches at her school. She sometimes tells us that she’s glad she brings her own lunch, because there aren’t always “healthy things” that her classmates eat. “Like the corn dogs. And pizzas.” She did say that she sometimes wants to eat a cafeteria lunch so she can have the yogurt and salads. My sweet girl. 🙂

Anyway, I asked her if there were any things she wanted to write to her congressman about. And of course, after we had just talked about it as an example, she wanted to write a letter about the food in her school. I am not writing this as an attack on our school’s cafeteria or anything like that – every time we’ve visited for a lunch or parent breakfast, everything has seemed very nice, with healthy options. But we had our topic!

The conversation led to how First Lady Michelle Obama is very interested in helping people lead healthier lives. Anya loved hearing about how Mrs. Obama has a garden on the grounds of the White House.

“Can I write the letter now??”Anya Souza-Ponce, Healthy Lunches Letter, Letter to First Lady, Lette rto Michelle ObamaAnya Souza-Ponce, Healthy Lunches Letter, Letter to First Lady, Letter to Michelle Obama

Of course, love.

So armed with a fresh sheet of paper, Anya wrote this letter to the First Lady. I only helped her on the spelling of “grade” and “healthier”.

I’ll send the letter in the mail tomorrow to Mrs. Obama.

 Here is the text:

Dear Mrs. Obama

I am Anya and in grade K. I live in San Antonio. Daddy told me that you have a gaden (garden) and I think that school lunches shold (should) be healthier.

from Anya

 Schoolhouse Rock – A Noun is a Person Place or Thing

Schoolhouse Rock, “Verbs”

We have a new principal at Scobee Elementary, Ron Tatsch … the kids welcomed him at their assembly this morning with a flash mob!

Anya’s class performed Chica Chica Boom Boom, and she was one of four kids who got to deliver a line at the microphone.

 

Looks like Ben Folds Five is getting back together! This is big news to an old fan like me. I first heard BFF in 1996 on a college radio station while driving an hour every day to Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York. It was the same period that I started listening to Ani DiFranco … these new raw driving songwriters wrote part of my soundtrack for my time in western New York.

Anyway, as I follow Ben Folds on Twitter, many recent posts have been about (and promoted) the new project. I followed one of those tweets and it brought me to this video on YouTube posted by Ben Folds Five.

Basically this is a promotion to get people to pledgemusic.com. And it worked … I pledged $10 and tweeted that #ImaDamVP … Vice President of Promotion, they’re calling it.

Here is a link to the terrific, driving new Ben Folds Five single, Do It Anyway

Anyway, in the video, if you pause at a couple of points, they’re sharing lyrics of what appear to be new songs … and if you were hoping for something that you could play with your kids in the car, you might be out of luck. One song is apparently titled “If You Can’t Draw a Crowd Draw Dicks on the Wall” …

The lyrics visible on the page were:

I ordered something

it took a while

This morning something

Finally arrived

What’s this I’m holding

Time capsule order

(something) … I’m a brand new man

(something) … don’t think I want it.

And there’s another glimpse of another song … is that called “Frank”? I can’t quite tell in the video. Includes an apparent date of 3-24-12.

So, without further ado … here is the text that appears in the video …

We Are

Ben Folds Five.

Darren Jessee, drums

Robert Sledge, bass

Ben Folds, piano

When we started in Chapel Hill, NC, in 1994, it was the heyday of grunge music.

It was all guitars and NO HARMONIES.

Many said we didn’t know what we were doing.

They were right.
And in 2012, we still don’t.

But we’re not alone now.
Because in 2012, NOBODY knows what they’re doing.

Except Steve Jobs and Amanda Palmer
(image of Jobs and Palmer shows, then image of Palmer grows larger and lingers)

Steve Jobs and Amanda Palmer

Steve Jobs and Amanda Palmer

… but I digress.

Ben Folds Five are completing our first album in 12 years.

And inviting you into the process.
Albums outlive all of us.

Like books. Or buildings.
Sign up as VICE PRESIDENT OF PROMOTION

of our de facto record label
We’ll immortalize you in the vinyl LP artwork or subsequent poster art.

And like any good label, we’ll find crap lying around to give away.
Come be a fly on the wall at our studio.

Create images. Make videos. Send the mour way and we’ll spread your creations. And send traffic back to your site for your artistic endeavors.

Stay tuned for pre-sale details of the new Ben Folds Five album.

Entitled …

… entitled …

Well, it’s not finished.

 

… Anyone else looking forward to the new Ben Folds Five album?

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UPDATE: Just saw this post from Ben with more information on the process and songs …

Here is a little Cri-Cri … these are Mexican children’s classics created by Gabilondo Soler. Emi has told me about Cri-Cri for years …

Cri-Cri is known as the “grillito cantor” or “the singing cricket”.

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