Sunday, July 26, 2009

Donut Shops in Strasbourg

Does anyone know of a mom and pop donut shop in Strasbourg? I've got a filmmaker asking about it.

His film is called The Donut, The Balloon and the Lifesaver. A very cool ultra-low budget, slow-paced, romantic comedy coming out of Central Florida.

The Strasbourg International Film Festival has the honor of presenting the film's International Premiere. The director, Banks Helfrich, is in the process of preparing French Subtitles... which is apparently creating a strong craving for donuts from Strasbourg.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arriving in the South of France for the Cannes Film Festival

We arrived yesterday, a day early thinking it would relieve any pressure to hurry about or get things done by a particular time. This allowed most of the day to be relaxed and easy. By the time three buses left the airport too full to take us from Nice to Cannes, I was a bit agitated. We had decided that if we missed one more bus we would simply take a local bus to the train and arrive in Antibes that way. In the end, that is probably a very good idea and most likely would have allowed us to arrive in Antibes quite early.

When Sophie and I used to live in Antibes there was a little hotel about a block from our apartment that seems like a fun and easy place to stay. I booked our room a few months ago for the regular room rate of 53 euro per night.

The hotel is easy, simple, clean and with a lovely view. The toilet is down the hall which I find quite fun and as the sales clerk from Civitavecchia would stay very authentic with a charming old world style. The rooms have french doors leading to the large bathroom which spans the length of our room. Plenty of mirror space and a large stand up shower. The enire bathroom floor and lower half of the walls covered in a tiny, pale blue tile.

Its nice to be back in Antibes. We are staying in the old center of town (vielle centre ville). It reminds me of Disney's Pirates of the Carribean ride.

Remember the part of the ride where the lady of the night chases around a potential customer and the plump old man is dunked repeatedly in the depths of the well. There. To me, that is the feel of old Antibes.

It appears the Picasso museum has reopened. We've been before. Once while visiting the area a couple years before our move here from the States we visited. Now it has been renovated. Picasso was down here for four years - from 1945 to 1949. Because of the war, it was difficult for Picasso to access painting supplies. So the works down here tend to be quite unique in their use of medium. I believe the majority of the works were left to the museum which allows it a relatively extensive collection of a unique time and style not experienced in other Picasso museums or exhibits.

Antibulations is a wonderful crazy event of live music and activities. I took a few videos of it from when we lived here a couple years back. It is certainly something worth experiencing.

In the end, Sophie and I unpacked and went to a lovely little chinese restaurant toward the peer which is now a quaint French restaurant, so we headed over to our other favorite chinese restuarant in Centre Ville and finally found a moment to eat at 9 pm in the evening. Considering we started our journey at 9am we were happily tired, finally fed and completely ready for cheap Chinese and rest. In fact, we even passed on our ritualized walk around Port Vauban and opted for an early evening so we would be well rested and ready for whatever our first day at the Cannes Film Festival will bring us.

I woke up at 2:30 am well-rested and unable to return to my dream world allowing me plenty of time to blog - which I had anticipated little time for. All's well that ends well!

Maybe Sophie will want to get up early and for our stroll around the Port.

Oh... there is a strike which has made transportation a bit more difficult. Expect it. This happened last year as well. In fact, down here the transpo dept seems to enjoy a very healthy allotment of strikes. It's the French way, right, duty and obligation. So be prepared for delays!

I strongly recommend arriving a day early, if possible, for the Cannes Film Festival. Arriving can be time consuming and hectic. The extra time can be make even the delays a little more lovely.

Pet Peeves - People who take pictures of you on the sly. Thinking you didn't notice. Hate it! Noticed!

Sidenote: The camera is still at the Barcelona airport and we forgot the cord to the video camera. Thank goodness Sophie finally got her replacement cell phone. So I'll be experimenting with low resolution pics and searching for bluetooth connections.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Antibes and the Cannes Film Festival

Sophie and I are heading down to the Cannes Film Festival for 11 days. We are both very excited. She's soooo big now. She's like a little girl, but all grown up. As she grows up it's just instinctual to give her more and more freedom and responsibility.

Last year, she chose not to come to Cannes. She felt she was better off remaining here for her studies. I allowed her to make this decision but completely disagreed with it. This year, she's coming. A lot of the rebellious teen aspect of mid teens is being, or has been, replaced with the desire to experience... well, Cannes.

We'll be staying very near where we used to live in Antibes. I'm looking forward to returning to both the area and the festival. This will be my third year going. It's fun and exciting and each year has already proved to be different, even though this year has yet to begin.

Sophie is working for both of the festivals this year. She's got both a lot of freedom and responsibility. She'll watch shorts and we've picked out 12 features we'd like to see. There is also a meeting with a prod comp she might handle, plus whatever else she ends up experiencing in Cannes. Oh yeah, promotion. We're equipped!

I've been very excited about going to the beach at the Cap D'Antibes. It's a lovely place to float around in the clear, warm water. I even bought a bathing suit! I've since realized it's not July or August and probably not bathing suit weather. Oh well. I'm bringing the bathing suit anyway!

Can't wait for the Chinese food down there! It's cheap and good! There are some great Chinese restaurants in Cannes, Nice and Antibes. Its so exciting to know we're going to be able to eat our little hearts out again.

We're also looking forward to the clothing market in Antibes. It's huge. It happens on Tuesday and Thursday. I can't remember which day has the larger open air market. We might just have to go to them both! Clothes, shoes, bags, beach wear. You name. It's there and it's cheap! Oh! There is a guy with a little jewelry stand. He sells super cheap lapis, amethyst, jade, and other semi-precious stones. Lovely simple jewelry made from silver and stone. I think he charge 6 or 8 euro per gram.

We will probably also stop by the Provencal Open Air Food Market in Antibes. It's lovely. Our favorite olive spread comes from there.

We've also experience so wonderful local music and events in Antibes. Sure hope some of it is going on while we're down there. It would be nice to take part!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Taking Your Teen to Amsterdam

A couple years ago, Sophie and I spent a few days in Amsterdam. We had a great time but I wasn't planning on returning just because I want to experience as many European cities as possible while I have such easy access since I currently live in France.

Last summer, four of Sophie's teenage friends rode their bicycles from Strasbourg to Amsterdam. Ever since, Sophie had been saying how she wanted to take a trip to Amsterdam with her friends. I really didn't want my teenage daughter running off to Amsterdam unescorted by an adult.

Recently, she has been talking more and more about how much she wants to go to Amsterdam before returning to the States for college. The more she talked about it the more concerned I become about it. French parents see to be a lot more free and easy with their children than American parents... or maybe I'm just stricter than 99.99999% of French parents. Nonetheless, I don't want my teenager in Amsterdam with only her teen friends. I just sounds like trouble waiting to happen.

Therefore, I asked Sophie how she felt about going to Amsterdam with me for a week. I said that it would be our trip before she went back to the States. I told her that she could pick the city, that it didn't have to be Amsterdam but it could be up to her. She was excited and wanted to go!

This choice meant that she could revisit Amsterdam which her heart had been craving while I could have the mother's comfort of knowing where my child was, who she was with in a strange city, and not needing to worry about what she might encounter while traveling to this city which can probably get rather wild at times. Basically, it worked out well for both of us.

Our week long trip to Amsterdam was the best trip we've taken together in years.

Wanna read Sophie's take on Amsterdam? Read here!

Blogging a Scrapbook

Last night, Sophie was talking to a family friend who suggested that Sophie keep an scrapbook and wished she had better kept on for herself as she now has few photos of her childhood and teen years.

I told Sophie that she can keep a virtual scrapbook with her blog. You don't have to lug online scrapbooks around like you do physical scrapbooks and considering we live in France and she plans on attending college in the US the logistics of carting your belongs around can be a real issue.

My website, MeMyKidandLife, is an online scrapbook of my thoughts, family, activities, hopes and dreams all wrapped into one space... well, one space with a few branches (my WordPress Blog and my Blogspot Blogs. As long as your online scrapbook, diary, or memoirs, blog! aren't going to be shut down the next time you change service providers or something like that, your life can be well documented online and preserved for later while shared with others while your life happens.

Sophie wasn't too crazy about documenting her life online although she already does it. Check out her blog, read her poetry, watch her films, buy her dreadlocks!

Earning With Adsense

I just found a website, CubeStat, that sums up website activity and will give you a guess at how much any particular website is earning with Adsense.

Simply enter in the data on the website you wish to learn about and fairly accurate data for website worth, daily page views, and daily ads revenues, as well as a slew of additional website information such as the age of the site and the sites ranking.

If you want to see how your site is doing compared to other sites, or if you are just a stats junkie like myself, you might enjoy this site.

It can be difficult to get a good handle on how much can be made from Adsense. CubeStat seems to offer fairly accurate data within a range of statistical averages. So take a look and see how much ad revenue your favorite sites are earning from ad revenue. It will help take out some of the mystery, or smoke and mirror stories you can hear online and replace it with more tangible and realistic earnings revenue.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Blogger Profile

I just created a public Blogger Profile. If you are interested in keeping up-to-date with all my new blogspots as well as my website, My My Kid and Life, and my blog it is just that much easier. Enjoy!

Adsense Monetizing Options

I started my website, Me My Kid and Life, in October of 2007. The goal was to encourage and empower other single moms to live the life they want while creating an additional stream of income for my family.

I'm not sure I've achieved either of those goals to my satisfaction. Although my site is the life and times of a single mom I do not gear the majority of my articles specifically for the single mom. Rather my articles are about making money online, travel, family, or other things that interest me such as film. Perhaps it is safe to say that the life of a single mom isn't about being a single mom it's about living life... just like anyone else's life. So, it is life that my website has been about.

I have received many emails from single moms (and dads) who have appreciated what the site has to offer. Perhaps that means that I'm going about the site in the right way. I want people to follow their dreams - not just single moms but all people. The more people who are living a life which they are inspired to live the happier our world will be and the less strife our world will encounter.

The second goal of MeMyKidAndLife was to create an additional (or an alternative) source of income. At the time, I had an online business which (while it afforded me a decent living) ate up an awful lot of my time. I was looking for balance between earning an income and spending time with my family/having free time.

I started the website about a year-and-a-half ago. Honestly, the website is not making much more than it was a year ago... and I'm feeling a little frustrated, agitated and concerned... but mostly, I just want to figure out if I'm doing something wrong and how I can fix it and get back on the right track.

There are a couple things I might be doing wrong...

First, my website is hosted by Yahoo. Is possible that Google might not like a website being hosted by the competition? Could that hurt me with Google Adsense? If anyone knows anything about this please comment and let me know. Adsense does not allow for competitors ads to be on the same pages as the Adsense ads, but would that extend to a site which is hosted by Yahoo? Would Adsense penalize a website that was hosted by Yahoo?

Second, I had a Yahoo RSS Feed button on all of the pages on my website. I have taken the button off about half of the website's pages and will finish taking them down as time allows. (It is quite a timely process as I have so many webpages and each webpage must have the Yahoo Feed Button manually removed.) Again, the concern is that Google's Adsense might penalize the website for promoting the competition.

Third, I visited a search engine optimization site in hopes of learning how to improve my pages and therefore traffic. I followed the instructions but feel that instead of improving some of my pages by focusing on keywords I have word stuffed which would trigger Adsense to penalize my pages, hence my site resulting in less Adsense traffic.

All that being said, I'm not sure any of the above are relevent. But in effect, this is in part why you now find me with so many new blogs sprouting up. It is a test. My blog is part of my Yahoo hosted site. Does that affect the hits it gets or how it is listed in Google? To try to see if my site is negatively impacted by the 'Yahoo' factor, I have started to use this blog - a blogspot owned by Google. In time, I suppose if all other things are equal I will notice an increase in traffic and or Adsense revenue on the blogspot blog if the Yahoo hosted website is actually penalized by Adsense for its competitive nature.

Therefore, if you are wondering why my website is sprouting so many new branches, the answer lies, in part, in the above paragraphs.

Many people say that it is necessary to have different blogs or websites for different topics if you want to build traffic. I have only had one website for all of my topics. Although, I have broken down the different sections and placed like articles together. Many people say that I am doing the exact opposite of what should be done if you want to make money online. I'm not sure I agree. Although, I'm not sure I don't agree.

From my understanding Adsense delivers ads based on the content of a particular website, not based on the overall content of the website. Google search is based on the content of a webpage, not the content of an entire site. Based on that logic, it wouldn't matter what the entire site consisted of. Rather, it would matter what a particular page's content consisted of.

This article is probably a perfect example of what I tend to do wrong when I write articles. Basically, this article covers too many topics. Therefore it might be more difficult for Google Search to place it high in its ranking. This would not work to my favor. Quite likely, this is the main problem with my website. It might not be that my total content is too varied, rather that the content within specific pages is too varied. That would mean that I need to become more disciplined and write in a more focused manner.

I have recently started several new blogs which are focused on particular topics which interest me. I do not full-heartedly believe in this method, nor do I feel it is necessarily necessary. Nonetheless, it is time for me to experiement. Therefore, if you see my work spread out all over the place it is intentional to see if it helps with traffic and Adsense revenue.

The problem I'm having with both the website's traffic and revenue might simply be that I'm not adding enough content and I'm not adding enough focused content that Google is interested in picking up. Although... I don't think that's it. I used to have a page rank of 4 and now it is 0. Truly, I think there is a problem I need to fix... but what is it? As far as adding new content, I do it when I can. I have been quite busy with other things that make me very happy.

Life is about balance.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cheap Ideas for Amsterdam

Sophie and I are in Amsterdam. We are staying at the Aivengo Hostel which has sort of a zen feel about it. The hostel is fairly centrally located and is rather inexpensive.

I booked the hostel through HostelWorld, which is how I usually book hostels. Although, I'm starting to question whether or not that is the cheapest way to book hostel beds. I like that I can book in advance and have the safety of checking other people's feedback on the hostel, before arrival, so I know what to expect. Booking through HostelWorld also allows me the option to leave feedback. If I book directly through the hostel I don't have the option to leave feedback... and there have been a couple times when feedback become very imporant.

I called a day or two before coming to Amsterdam to check on the price. Although we booked about a month in advance we still ended up paying $35 per night per person on the three busy weekend nights. But when I called the rate was only $25 per person per night. I'm very happy to say the owner was willing to give us the lower price - which saved us $60. I'm unhappy to think that I can book a fair price through HostelWorld. The point is, if you book through an online booking agency you'll want to do your homework to ensure you are getting a reasonable rate. We encountered the same problem when we booked at the Pegasus Hostel in Berlin. On the other hand, sometimes you can get a better rate through on-line booking sources.

The Aivengo Hostel has 20 bed dorm rooms. Honestly, if traveling with a teenager (at least a teen like Sophie who loves to meet new people) hosteling is a fantastic way to go. While the teen is still with you, she also has the opportunity and freedom to meet and encounter new people when traveling. It gives both of you a little space while still keeping you together.

The hostel is a drug-free hostel. It offers no kitchen or breakfast option which hasn't been an issue for us. It has a microwave and I make my own coffee in the morning. Gee... force me to save a buck!

This is our second trip to Amsterdam. Two years ago, Sophie and I came after spending time with my sister and cousin in Paris and Edinburgh. We have returned because this is the one place Sophie wanted to come to before leaving Europe and going off to school. We are here for a total of 6-nights. At first I didn't think we'd be able to find things to do for seven days in this town. But now that our trip is nearly finished I've come to see that our trip has been perfectly paced, relaxing and fun. We've gone to the RijksMuseum and have spent many days walking around exploring the lovely streets, canals and architecture that Amsterdam has to offer.

Today, Sophie and I will probably explore the Cannibas Museum and the Van Gogh Museum. During our last visit we visited the RijksMuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Torture Museum. We were going to visit the Torture Museum again to get so pictures for the website, but the digital camera's pics have been dark... and the Torture Museum is dark... so, what's the point?

I totally recommend going to the Torture Museum. It's spooky and eery. We went at night which made it even more creepy. Definitely an experience with weird contraptions and devices most of us have never seen or imagined before and will probably never see again.

The RijksMuseum is under major renovation and will be until 2014. Only one wing of the museum is open to the public. This is actually rather cool. What the museum has done is to put all of the most famous pieces together. Therefore, you see everything of the most importance and that is all. Yes, we like to wonder through museums and wish we had time to see it all, but on the other hand, ensuring you see all the important works of art that a museum has to offer is rather convenient.

I have very fond memories of the Van Gogh Museum and look forward to visiting it again. It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Also, it is open everyday, except Jan 1, which makes it always something that can work into our plans. More than once, we've wanted to go to the Louvre on a day when it was closed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Addicted to Cruising

Family Trip in BarcelonaAfter taking our Southern Mediterranean Cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jade I am completely sold on cruising.

Before our cruise we had spent 9 days in Berlin and 2 in Basel, Switzerland. Yet even after our 12-night cruise on NCL I wasn't exhausted at all when I got home.Family Vacation in Switzerland

Definitely do your research before cruising. Go online and see what people are writing in the Cruise Forums. You'll even find Cruise Forums specific to the cruise and cruise line you want to take. This way, you'll know in advance if you should expect lousy food or entertainment. It's better to be prepared than to have bad food sprung on you.

Cruising on Norwegian JadeIn the Cruise Forums we had learned not to expect much from the food on the Norwegian Jade. So, we were quite content with the mediocre food. I wanted good old American food... and apparently I wanted a lot of it. That is pretty much what we got. I found that the chocolate brownie sundae in the Blue Lagoon was the best dessert. While Sophie loved the soft serve with all the toppings. Our favorite resturant was the Grand Pacific. It is the only formal dining room on the ship (freestyle dining). We loved the opportunity to dress up. At home, I'm too busy. On the cruise, I took the time to take the time...
Cruises are cheap and perfect for my thrifty and frugal nature. Actually, I didn't even spend all of
my 'ship money' which we got while making the reservation. I think I had something like $38
wasted. Guess I should have bought those cute reading glasses while I had the opportunity!

I can't wait until my next opportunity to cruise. Now I see what all the
fuss is about!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Working With Adsense

I started my website in October of 2007. It seems like I must be doing something wrong, but I can't figure out what it is. Although I have added content fairly regularly over the duration of the site, my Adsense earnings haven't increased much. I'm concerned that I am somehow violating an Adsense rule. Or, perhaps it is that Google doesn't like that my website is hosted by Yahoo. Is that possible? I have heard that Google's Adsense doesn't want competing ads on the same pages with their ads. I understand that Adsense isn't interested in the competition, but would that also apply to Yahoo in general rather than just Yahoo's ad program?

I am in the process of taking down my Yahoo RSS button in case that is hurting my ranking with Google and my adsense ratings. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

I am writing through this blog to see if it makes a difference with my Google listings. My other blog goes directly through my website but Google still hasn't picked it up even through I've manually sent it through Google's Search Blog Ping. It's been over a month now, I believe the blog should have been picked up. We'll see how Google's Adsense program feels about this blog Google blog (blogspot is owned by Google) and hopefully I can figure things out and make some positive headway with monetizing.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009