First Tandem Flight

Today was my first paragliding flight as a tandem pilot. My “passenger” was Drew McNab, who is a tandem instructor. Unlike when learning to drive, especially if your instructor had dual controls, the tandem instructor can only do so much if the student pilot screws up. That, and there’s no way to slam on the breaks in the sky. So in that regard, the instructor must have nerves of steel, considerable trust, or be a massive adrenaline junkie. Maybe all three.

We had almost no wind, so we launched forward. Despite not being able to SEE the wing come up, I generally don’t mind forward launches because I have a good feel for the wing. In this case, however, it was a wing I have never used. Also, there’s that awkward two-step on launch akin to a potato-sack race with all four of our feet shuffling around as we add power to the wing.

The wing came up fine, I think, but when it was at maybe 70 degrees of rotation, I tripped and fell to my knees. Drew asked “do you got it?” (So there’s the blind trust, since he couldn’t see it either), and I yelled GO GO GO!!

As soon as he pulled, I was able to get back to my feet and continue the controlled launch off of the south side of Tiger Mountain.

In the air, but still with little more than a few hundred feet of altitude, it felt like I was driving a large boat. The wing felt huge and sluggish, despite the acrobatics that I’ve seen Drew do with passengers. I missed having a stirrup to put my feet into, as my legs hung down a bit with drew just in front of my lap. There were no real thermals to be had, but this flight was more about launch and landing, anyway.

There were two other pilots in the air at about our altitude, one of whom was a new solo pilot with the long pink tape that screams “I have NO idea what I’m doing, and am under radio control from the ground.” I thought that this time, maybe I should be wearing the streamer, except that I knew exactly what I was doing, but merely lacked skill or experience with this wing or with a passenger.

We pulled Big Ears (made our wing smaller) and sank faster than the others so as to have the landing zone to ourselves. As we set up on the downwind leg of our approach for landing, I started paying closer attention to my glide-ratio so as to gauge the turns I would need to make.

I was maybe 300 feet too high when I turned final in what was anything but a standard pattern approach. I was glad we had dropped down below the others to give more leeway in bleeding it off with additional turns, despite making drew nervous turning that low. I still over-shot the target on the field, but landed several hundred feet from the edge of the field with both of us coming to a full stop, landing on our feet, with the wing collapsing gingerly like a descending cobra behind us.

About this time, I think Drew started breathing again, and said that I actually did quite well, especially for a first-time tandem pilot. At that point, I think I let out a loud Whoo Hoo, as I was pretty stoked! Now, its only three more with an instructor, about 25 with other pilots, and then I can take passengers.

And the driving force for wanting my tandem rating? I so want to be able to share the joy of flight with my children. They are the two of the bigger sources of love in my life, and I hope to share the love of flight with each of them. That, and if I can take them with me, then it becomes that much easier to go flying on the weekends

Where are you From?

Where are you from?
It’s a question to be answered on so many levels…

Where are you from, as an opening for a gargantuan question of purpose and direction. What is the journey you are on now? Where are you on that journey? Have you alway been on this journey, or did you come to this one by way of another shift/pivot/transformation?

Where are you from, as in what have been the cares you have been tending to? Or how has your journey influenced the direction you are going today?

Where are you from, as the definition of who I am, or at least who I have been, rubbing up against the force, power, and drive of the declarations of who I really am and who I am becomming.

Where are you from, as but merely a past, having information, but no longer control over who I am right now, and what I really care about and am further growing to.

Lastly, Where are you from, as a question about the geography or region where you live now, or where you used to live when you were growing up.

So how about you? Where are you from?

Flying High

First off, let me preface this story by asserting that this never happened…  But it is a dream that I have had on several occasions, and I thought I would share it for the purpose of seeing a) if this is a dream other pilots have had, b) to get some perspective, and c) because few things are as much fun as taking a completely fictitious midair collision and ridiculing it to absurdity, which I know this group can do like no other.

In the first variety of this dream, I am paragliding in Eastern Washington somewhere, and a low flying jet plane manages to hook my wing over top of the jet engine.  My wing does not get sucked INTO the engine, but I’m sort of hanging from it, below the intake area, and bouncing around pretty fiercely underneath the wing.   It’s some kind of corporate jet, rather than a commercial jumbo-jet.  Anyway, I think about pulling my reserve, but decide against it because I am still otherwise attached to the plane.  I know that I need to detach first, so I pull out my hook-knife.

I recall hearing something about it being better to cut the risers than all the lines, so I do that.  Except that when I cut the first one, I end up hanging quite precariously sideways, and I find it quite difficult to reach up and cut the second one.  Plus, I’m still banging around on the underside of the wing having none-too-much fun.  Meanwhile, the plane has started descending rapidly for a landing, and I have no clue if they are even aware that I’m hanging on out there.  For all I know, they think they just sucked a pigeon into the engine.  I finally manage to cut the second riser, and as I’m in free-fall, I start to wonder when I should pull my reserve?

I mean, would I really have the wherewithal in that moment to be thinking that?  Probably not.  But in the dream, I’m trying to decide if I should pull right away, perhaps before I hit terminal velocity, or whether to wait until I get maybe a thousand feet or so off the ground.  It’s all moot, because I’m falling all topsy-turvy and can’t get myself into a stable position with my harness on, and when I see the ground, I know – PULL NOW!

The reserve deploys without error, and it turns out that I am right over some small airfield.  That’s when I see some corporate jet coming in for a landing with half of a paraglider wing draped over one engine, heading right towards me.  And it’s some time around here that I wake up.

In the second version of this dream, I’m flying in the Issaquah region, and I know that I am clearly VFR, and well under the 6K ceiling.  Then some small, single engine plane that is also flying VFR and under the ceiling runs into me, and my wing somehow goes over the nose, completely obscuring all the windows on the plane.  Never mind that the prop would have caught the lines and either torn them or wound me up.  This is a dream, so normal rules of physics that I’m sure people will comment on simply don’t apply.  I’m hanging well below this plane, and although I cannot see him, the pilot is probably freaking out.

Yes, I’ve just been hit by a plane, and for some reason, I’m worried about the other pilot.  Probably, that’s because he puts his plane into a steep climb, since he knows he was below the mountain peaks when he hit me.  Except that he rapidly breaks through the class Bravo, and though I know darn well that I’m not supposed to be there, I don’t think the other pilot knows that.

So we’ve got altitude, which means we have time, and I’m actually quite calm and collected at this moment.  I reach down for my radio, switch to 121.5, and ask to speak to somebody in Seatac Air Traffic Control.  They ask if they can put me on hold, and I tell them that I’m already on hold, on the underside of another aircraft, climbing through 8K now somewhere over Renton.  The ask for my call-sign, I tell them that I don’t have one, and they are about to hang up.  Wait a minute!  This is a RADIO, not a telephone!  You can’t hang up on me!

“Ma’am, this is Seatac ATC, and we serve the commercial and recreational pilot community.  I’m going to have to ask you to clear this channel.”

I try explaining my predicament to the person on the other end, but to no avail.  They simply don’t want to talk to me.  So then I ask for the frequency of the pilot with a paraglider over its windshield flying at my approximate location.

“Ma’am, what makes you think we know what frequency the other pilot is on?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure that if you stood up inside that control room of yours and asked ‘is anybody talking to a panicked VFR pilot who just lost all visibility?’ that somebody would speak up.  I need that idiot’s frequency.

So  manage to get the right frequency, switch my radio over, and find myself in the middle of a conversation with a very agitated, purely VFR pilot, and somebody else from ATC.  ATC is trying to calm this guy down, telling him that they have cleared traffic from the area, and that they will guide him down into Renton air field, but he has to level out, and then descend well below the 12K he’s flying at now, which explains why it’s so dang cold.

The ATC guy is a real professional… calm, soothing, and gets the VFR pilot’s head back on straight as he starts descending.  Part of me is thinking that I don’t want to do anything to upset this fellow, but I also still think that neither ATC, nor the VFR pilot have a clue what’s going on.  Finally, I interrupt with something innocuous like “Dude!  Are you the guy with a paraglider draped over your cockpit?”

“A what?”

“A paraglider.  It’s red, probably translucent, and depending on what part of the wing you’ve got up front, you might even see the word ‘Gin’ on your window somewhere.”

“Yes!  Yes!  So THAT’s what happened!  I hit a paraglider!  Now it makes complete sense.  How did you know?”

“Hang on for a second,” I tell him, and I somehow manage to knock on the bottom of his fuselage with my fist.  “Did you hear that knocking?”

“Yes!  What was that??”

“Good.  That was me.  It means I’m talking to the right idiot.  I’m the paraglider pilot on the other end of that wing, hanging out down here by your wheels… on the freaking OUTSIDE of your plane.”

At that point, the two of us actually start carrying on a casual conversation about the merits of each of our respective aircraft, when I get a brilliant idea.  I look down at my GPS, then direct the pilot on a course bearing 150 degrees for about 3 miles; then 0 degrees for a mile or two; then 310 degrees for a few miles.

Technically, I’m still on a paraglider flight – I launched from Tiger, and I’m still attached to my wing.  I’ve got this guy running Tiger-Tag points with me.  Let me tell you, Dave Wheeler’s gonna scream!

After raking up a few bazillion points, it dawns on me that I’ve still got to find a way to get both of us back on the ground.  I don’t actually remember the landing much, except that after we were on the ground, there was a fire truck, an ambulance, a few policemen, and more paperwork than I can describe.  Plus, I know that when the local flying club hears about this, I’m never going to hear the end of it.

By the time I get back home, it’s close to midnight, but I upload my GPS track to Leonardo and submit it for tiger-tag scoring.  Wheeler calls me first thing in the morning to say that he disqualified my flight because I broke airspace, and to point out where I could have scored a few more points.  Despite my best efforts to convince him that there was actually a working transponder and two-way communication with ATC, he simply refused to hear it.

And then I wake up.

Where Did You Go?

Hello, dear reader!  I’ve been blogging for ages about a variety of topics.  None are more dear to me than my letters for my children, which I started writing even before they were born.

Unfortunately, in the internet age where identity theft (and even child-theft) is rampant, I’ve had to take hundreds of posts offline from about the point of their birth.  The posts are still here,  and more are being added as the little darlings grow up.

If you’re a friend or family member, you are still welcome to see the Letters For My Children.
You’ll simply need to log in for them to be visible.

If you don’t have an account, please email me and I’ll happily send you one.

– Ashley

About that Book…

As part of a training program this past weekend, we had a rather odd exercise.  The task was to find three strangers, and to give each of them a dollar.  Also, to find three other strangers, and to ask for and receive a dollar.  There was a mixture of awkwardness, self judgment, and silliness as we undertook the task.  Most of us found it far easier to give a dollar away than to ask for it.  Yet even in that part, there were people who outright refused the money, almost as if there were something seriously wrong with the gift, or that perhaps they were being watched, or that maybe it was a setup.  Regardless of the reasons, many people simply could not accept an unexplained gift from a stranger.

The silliness came when parts of our class traveled in a group, and somebody up front would give a dollar away, and the recipient would then be asked by the end of the line for a dollar, and they would give back what they had just received.  Several people, myself included, were highly self-consciousness.  We were dressed reasonably well, and by looking at the faces of others whom we would ask for a dollar I could see responses ranging from surprise to confusion, to disgust.

At this point, one must be wondering what on earth this exercise could possibly be for or about.  At its core, it was about our relationship to money.  No matter how you look at it, three dollars is a trivial amount, and yet the feelings, doubts, fears, concerns, projections, and stories that we all have about money came rushing to the surface as surely as were we giving away or asking for a fortune.  If for that reason alone, there was value in the exercise.  But then I decided to go just a little farther, and at this point my story takes a turn for the bizarre.

I did not wish to travel with my peers, where the people I would encounter had just moments ago been asked to give or take a dollar by somebody else.  Instead, I wanted to go a bit farther away, and so I kept walking until I reached the bus stop in front of the opera house.  There, I found an elderly woman who was missing a few teeth and had all of her worldly possessions wrapped in a plastic bag inside a shopping cart.  She was wearing tattered cloths and kept herself warm with a blanket.  She had a plastic bag over the top of her head to keep it dry, and as she stood, she was permanently hunched forward, as if she were leaning on a cane that was not there.  This woman’s name was Edith, and I know this because she gave me a gift worth far more than the dollar that I gave to her.

You see, I had made a judgment that of the many strangers on the street, that she could probably make use of a dollar, and that to her, it might even be a considerable sum.  She had her back to me for a while, but when I met her gaze, I asked her if she would like a dollar.  She responded with a kindly “God bless you.”  At that moment, I was about to turn away and return to class, but then I hesitated.  I looked this stranger in the eye, and with all genuineness and sincerity, I asked her “How are you?” and her face lit up like angel’s.  Her voice was crisp and clean, her demeanor bright and cheerful, and her words were deeply profound.

Among many other things, including her two experiences with death, once by car and once by drowning, she had a story to tell.  Her story was of watching the paramedics working on her, and of speaking with God.  God gave her a choice to move on, or to return to earth.  She said she had no idea what moving on meant, and so she returned to her body.  She also told me that after those experiences, she knew that she could talk to God anytime that she wanted to.  And that with that unfettered access to God, she had learned that “No matter what, you never tell God what is wrong with your life.  Instead, you ask God to transform your life into something wonderful.”  Part of me wondered if she were a little crazy, but her words rang true regardless of the answer.  She said a few other things, but I kept thinking about her pearl of wisdom and how deeply it applied to my life.  But try as I might, I would have forgotten those words were it not for the following.

She asked me what I did for a living, and I told her that I am a professional coach.

“You mean like an athlete?” she asked.

I told her no, that I am a life coach.

At that she responded “Ahhh, yes, of course.  You are the one I saw in my dream last night.  God has a message for you.”

Without so much as a hint of doubt or skepticism, I smiled at her and said “I’m listening.”

“He says that you need to get started with writing that book you’ve been thinking about.”

Indeed I do.

Two Hours in the Sky With No Pants

Today was a very good day for flying. I was sitting in the office, looking out the windows at the clouds, and knew that I had to find a way to escape from work. By 3pm, the forces of cloud-suck were far too great, and I left early. I had already packed all of my flying gear in the car, having previously checked weather reports that called for good conditions.

However, much to my dismay, when I went into the locker room at work to change into my flying cloths I discovered that I did not bring my pants. I had also worn a skirt that day, so there was no way I could fly in that. If I went from work, back home, and then to the mountain, it would cost me almost two hours of flying time, gas, and sitting in traffic. I could pick up a cheap pair of hiking pants on the way, but that too would be time-consuming and unnecessary. So I decided to go flying without them.

Now, lest you think my lower half was completely in the buff, I did have an outer flight suit that I wore. I managed to launch from Poo Poo Point, on the north end of Tiger Mountain by around 4:30 PM, climbing to an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet and floating over lower Issaquah for nearly an hour. It’s COLD up there with no pants. However, I did discover that I could feel the temperature difference between my right and my left legs as I flew through the air, allowing me to make better decisions regarding which way to turn to remain in the thermals.

Flying is always a gateway to joy for me, but this flight was especially so. Imagine something that you truly love, and then knowing that in a matter of days, it may be months or more before you get to experience it again. With the birth of you two literally around the corner, each and every flight is an experience of sublime beauty and pleasure, knowing full well that in a matter of days, my focus will shift dramatically.

So as I circled one thermal with a bald eagle no more than 20 feet away from me, I was deeply in tune with the feel of the wind on my face, the feel of the lift upon my wing, and the magnificence of the creature who was my flying companion. I could see every feather of its outstretched wing, especially the ones on the outer wingtip as it felt the air with all the confidence and familiarity that you and I typically associate with the feel of the ground beneath our feet.

After reaching the top of the thermal, the eagle and I parted ways amid the vast expanse of the sky that we share. As I put myself into a slow, final, and graceful turn to the right, I could see Mt. Ranier with crystal clarity, Puget Sound, Seattle’s skyline, lake Washington, Bellevue, Lake Sammamish, Mt. Si and the Cascades off in the distance. I was alone now, with the freedom to go wherever I wanted merely by the gentle shift of weight in my harness and the control-lines in my hands that led to the trailing edge of my wing. Looking up, there was a cloud beginning to disperse above my head, and the blue and white sky contrasted with the bold red, white, and gray of my wing, beneath which hung over a hundred thin lines of various colors like the stings of a harp, except that they all came together in two points by my sides where I could play with them.

While some flights are a rapid, wild, invigorating rush of adrenaline, others, like this one, are an experience of peace, serenity, and joy. I fly because I feel the need to travel freely amid the sky and clouds. I fly because I feel it deeply and profoundly within my flesh and bones. I fly because it is a consistently reliable gateway to my essence of JOY.

Scared the Crap out of me!

At some point, we’ve all had at least one event that literally scared us something fierce, but today’s was definitely a first for me.

It happened as I stepped into a port-o-potty in a park that I visit quite frequently.
No sooner had the spring-loaded door slammed behind me when the vibrations upset a snake that was resting in the crack behind the back wall, up on the decking area.  This thing was definitely not happy, and I could see the head and eyes of what was surely a king cobra.
snake_3n
Well, I sort of saw it.  My first instinct was to run, which actually meant stumbling backwards, falling out of the toilet into the parking lot and landing on my ass next to a parked car. Thank goodness that I had not yet dropped trow!

After catching my breath and making sure my heart was still beating, I looked around for the first guy I could find. His name was John (really).

“You mean it’s down in the hole?”

“No!  It’s big, mean & ugly, and it’s up on the part next to the seat! Please, make it go away!!”

So he came to look, and the snake was still there.  He told me it was just a harmless garter snake, but I didn’t care. In my eyes it was still a cobra.

I mean, come on, fellas, if you saw that thing coming out of the urinal, do you think you’d really stop to ask what KIND of snake it was?

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman” (Gen. 3:15).

The point is, ladies in particular, bang on the walls first, before you sit down.

Flying by Instruments

I may have inadvertently discovered how to create a flying instrument that works as an artificial horizon.  It is suitable for ensuring straight and level flight for those times we get sucked into low visibility environments.  It’s completely free, uses no batteries, and runs completely on water.

This afternoon, I was trying out a Gin Rebel that belongs to a friend.  His wing is a size larger than the one I should be flying, so before I went up the mountain, I brought along plenty of extra water for ballast, and I ate an extra cookie or two for good measure.

Perhaps because the Rebel is a new wing to me, I failed to notice when I launched that the drinking end of my camelback was actually in my seat, rather than tucked into the side pocket like it usually is.  I still didn’t notice until about the time that I was well into flight.  At that point, I couldn’t figure out how or why I would be feeling such a cold breeze in my lower back.  So I pushed on my stirrup, made sure that I was properly seated all the way back in my harness, and in short order it became abundantly clear what was going on.

My two-liter camelback was full to the very brim because I wanted the extra weight, and by sitting on the bite-valve, I was summarily dumping its  contents down my back side, through my flight suit, through my jacket, and down into my shorts.  At this point, I was still within a hundred feet of the trees, and there was a mixture of people who were ridge-soaring and trying to thermal.  Meanwhile, I was trying to avoid any sudden moves in what was to me a foreign, over-sized wing.  But dang it, it was COLD!  I squirmed a bit in my seat, but that only made it worse.

I took my hands off the controls momentarily to pull the fire-hose out from my tush, only to discover that I was about to enter the path of an oncoming wing.  Fortunately, he saw that SOMETHING was wrong and gave me space for the brief period of time that it took me to fix the problem.

At least, I thought I had fixed the problem.  It was at that point that I realized I was unquestionably sitting in a rather large puddle.  I mistakenly thought that in short order, the water would somehow drain, or that perhaps that my clothes would soak it all up like a sponge.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Instead, I found that as I put the glider into a turn, even the most gentle and shallow turn, that the puddle sloshed from one cheek to the other.  Despite the awkwardness and discomfort that this created, it was at that point that I made my discovery.

When the left tip of my wing entered even the lightest of thermals, my right cheek could feel the increased depth in the bath tub that was now my harness.  The opposite was also true, and when I was flying straight and level, both cheeks were equally submerged.  I decided to test my new-found instrument, and I discovered that my sloshometer gave readings that were consistently faster and more reliable than my vario.  The moment one cheek became submerged, I leaned the other way, into the thermal, and a second later my vario would start to beep.

I’ll be submitting detailed plans to the R&D department at FlyTec shortly after my patent application is approved.  In the mean time, does anybody have a towel?

So you want to be found on the web? — Web Promotions, 101

The purpose of this article is to answer three questions about various web-based promotion tools.

  • What are web-based promotion tools?
  • Why should I care?
  • How do I use them?

This is not intended as a “how to” guide, though I will provide links to additional information for the more technically inclined. Believe it or not, 90% of web-based promotion is really about making connections — the technology is secondary. Mind you, these are electronic connections, but they still make a significant impact on how people can find and learn about you n the Internet.

For this article, I’m going to assume that you already have at least one web-page. For many people, this might not be true (yet), but there are ample ways that you can actually create one, including paying somebody to create one for you. This article focuses on what to do after that first page exists, such that your page or site becomes more visible to the world.

Topics to be covered include:


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What Is It?

SEO is the constellation of behaviors that you perform in an effort to make it easy for your name or website to show up on the top of the list in various search engines.

Why should I care?

If people can’t find you on the internet, then no matter how good your web-site is, it is not serving you as a promotional tool for generating business.

How do I optimize for searching?

SEO is not something you can accomplish over-night. Nor is there any single, magic bullet that will make your pages pop to the top of search rankings. Instead, SEO is accomplished as a byproduct of using many of the techniques described in the rest of this article.

However, from a LIOSian standpoint, the more connections that you have that point to your website, the more likely that your pages are to be found. In behavioral terms, that means that you should have at least one page on your website dedicated to linking with your peers, friends, or associates, and that you should ask them to do the same. (This is sometimes referred to as Link Love)

If you are LIOS student or graduate and would like to share a link with PrimaryGoals, see the Practitioner Referral page and register yourself.

Other Resources


Google Ad-words

What Is It?

Google lets you purchase your place in the search results page based on what people are looking for. You choose a few words or phrases, along with how much you are willing to pay to be listed in the results. You only pay if people click the link to your site.

Why should I care?

It is often quite inexpensive, results are nearly instantaneous, and you only pay for results. Basically, Ad-Words makes you an advertiser on the internet, with your website being the product. Once people reach your site, it’s up to you to sell them on your services. Note that although this only applies to searches on Google, and that there are a large number of search engines, that Google does have the largest market share. You can also restrict your results to only show up for people in your geographic region so that you don’t pay for clicks where you have no interest in working.

How do I use Ad-Words

Full details on Ad-Words can be found here: http://adwords.google.com


Multiple Domain Names

What Is It?

Domain names are the words you type into your browser to find a website (like http://www.PrimaryGoals.com). They are sold on a first-come, first-served basis from companies like GoDaddy, Register.com, and number of other companies called Registrars. Most commonly, multiple domain names refers to getting the .COM, .NET, .ORG, and both the singular and plural forms of a domain.  (Yes, that can be 6 domains or more.)

Why should I care?

Buying multiple domain names increase the chance that somebody who wants to contact you will be successful in their attempts to do so. Imagine that you own YourFantasticSite.com (which was still available when I wrote this).  You start building your site to make it valuable.  Then, when you are not paying attention, somebody else buys YourFantasticSites.com (with an S at the end).  Now, some people that you hope will go to your site will invariably go to the wrong address.  How many times have you written down the name of a site, only to realize it needed an S, or you were not sure if it was a .COM or .ORG?

For an even more clear example, many people hoping to find information on the US Whitehouse entered the address for Whitehouse.COM.  Unfortunately, the government page is actually at Whitehouse.GOV, and for a long time the .COM address was owned by somebody selling items that were inappropriate for minors.

How do I purchase multiple domains?

Purchase subsequent domains the same way you bought the first one — through your registrar.

Note: You can also set up these individual domains to have different starting points within your site, making one page link to another, thus increasing your own link-love.  For example, compare PrimaryGoals.com and PrimaryGoals.org.


RSS – Really Simple Syndication

What Is It?

RSS feeds provide a means for people who view your site to be kept informed about updates without having to provide you with any personal information or registration. Sites that provide RSS feeds usually have one of these icons:   (Clicking these links should allow you to subscribe to the RSS feed on this site… try it!)

Why should I care?

People subscribe to RSS because they want you to keep in touch with them, while also maintaining theiranonymity. Often, people want to know about changes or updates to your site, but they do not want to register or provide you with personal information in order to get it. After all, anytime one provides an E-mail address to a site, one increase the chances of getting more spam. Putting an RSS feed on your site lets people know about updates to your site, thus inviting them to come back again later to see what you just added.

RSS feeds also provide another mechanism by which you can auto-submit changes on your site to a variety of different search engines (see below).  

How do I use RSS?

RSS works like an E-mail distribution list in reverse.   In a distribution list, people subscribe by giving their E-mail address to the list manager, or joining a group (such as Yahoo or Google groups).  Often, everybody on the list can send messages to "the list" and everybody else will get the message, even though no sender knows the address of the other recipients.  With RSS, there is a single place where updates are posted, and subscribers configure their E-mail programs to go check that place periodically.  Only the site admin can post updates, and nobody knows who else is subscribed.

Other Resources

To put an RSS on your site, all you need to do is put a file on your site in RSS format, then update that file to post new messages.

There are a handful of free and low-cost tools available. I recommend FeedForAll ($40) because it is easy to use, feature-rich, and has a 30-day free trial.

Once you have an RSS feed on your site, you should look at Ping-O-Matic, which will automatically let search engines know that you have a new page.


Blogging

What Is It?

The definitions for a blog are numerous. In simple terms, most blogs contain a series of web-page, a set of tools for adding to or updating pages, a mechanism for visitors to comment on pages, and an RSS feed.

Why should I care?

If you don’t have tools or experience to maintain your own web-pages, blogging sites provide an easy way for you to publish content that anybody can read. Even if you do have a website, blogging tools can make sequential posts and updates easier to manage. They also provide one more place where you can insert links that point back to your primary website.

How do I create a blog?

Go to any of the blog sites found in the Catalog of common blog sites, create an account, and start writing.


Sitemaps

What Is It?

There are two different types of site-maps.  The first is a web-page that people look at to get an overview of all the topics and pages on an entire site.  This is like a table-of-contents.  For example, that menu on the left can also be displayed in a sitemap like this.

That works fine when there are less than 30 pages, but what about when a site contains hundreds of pages (Primarygoals has over 1500 pages).  In that case, there is a different kid of site-map that is intended to be read by search engines.

Why should I care?

If you have a significant amount of content, you want to make sure that the search-engines find all of it. The more of your site that is indexed, the greater chance that a search will find a match on your site. Plus, it also allows you to put a search-box on your own site is based on your entire site’s content.

How do I create a Site-Map?

If you are only dealing with a handful of pages, create the site-map by hand. If you use a professional web-site development tool (Go Live, Dreamweaver), these may be able to create this kind of map for you. If you want to create the XML sitemap, Google has a tool you can download to create one for you.

Other Resources


Social Networking Sites

What Is It?

Social Networking is the practice of people linking to each other via any number of on-line tools. Common examples include LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and a bunch of others.

Why should I care?

By using one or more networking sites, you increase the number of people that you can connect with, either directly or indirectly. However, these sites do not do that much for promoting your own website. The exception is when you our your associates use those tools as an additional source for creating links to your own website. One good example of this is the "Answers" section of LinkedIn. By providing good answers, you can make reference to material found on your own website. Click here for an example.

How do I use Social Networking

Pick a service that you wish to be part of, create an account, and invite your friends. Note that there are two main approaches to using these networking tools. The first approach is to be very selective in who you link with, such that you actually have a connections with or personal knowledge about all of your linked contacts. This approach is more likely to yield "high quality" responses when you search your network for somebody with a particular skill or background.

The second approach favors linking to as many people as possible in an effort to get much greater numbers of people in your network that you might contact. While your breadth of contacts are higher this way, you really have less knowledge about who these people really are.


Social Bookmarking

What Is It?

Social bookmarking is when you save your bookmarks on a web-page that you can access from anywhere. It is differs from regular bookmarking in your browser, in that the latter are saved on your PC. There are more than 30 social bookmarking sites, with some of the better-known being Digg, Favorites, and DELICIOUS.

Why should I care?

These public sites that store your bookmarks create additional links to your site that search engines can index. If lots of people bookmark your pages publicly, these bookmarks can increase the inbound traffic to your site.

How do I use Social Bookmarking

For the most part, social bookmarking is something that your site visitors use, rather than something that you manage yourself. However, you can make it easier for your visitors who already have bookmarking accounts to add your pages to their own lists. One such example is the "Add This" widget shown here.

addthis_url = location.href;
addthis_title = document.title;
addthis_pub = ‘AshleyGuberman’;

If you are new to social bookmarking, please click here for detailed instructions on how to use the bookmarking button above.

Caution: In theory, you could create your own accounts on the bookmarking sites above and create lots of links to your own pages. That could backfire in that it can easily look more like you are screaming for attention rather than that others have found your pages useful. The practice is discouraged.


Re-CAPTCHA

What Is It?

You may check a more formal definition for CAPTCHA here, but a CAPTCHA tests are those web-pages that make you type what you see in a distorted word picture. Re-Captcha is a free tool that not only lets you mask your E-mail on a web-page, but it also helps translate books for Carnage Melon. To see how, click on my Contact…@Primarygoals.com.

Why should I care?

If your website is intended to generate business contacts, you want a way for your viewers to contact you. But if you put your E-mail address on your website, you will soon be bombarded by spam. G-mail, hotmail, and other free E-mail services do a reasonable job with filtering, but spam is still a never-ending battle. Using a separate address for posting on the web is also just a partial solution. The Re-captcha solution above lets real people see your E-mail address without giving it to automated spammers.

How do I use Re-CAPTCHA?

Go to the re-captcha mailhide site, enter your E-mail address, then use the URL that the site provides in place of posting your E-mail address.

Competence Based Training vs. Other Forms of Training

Is there evidence that competence-based training outperform other kinds of training?

Question posed by Marcello Tobar on LinkedIn

Competence-based training is popular nowadays. I wonder if there is enough evidence to state that competence-based training is better for increasing performance of trainees as compared with more traditional training forms (competence understood as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitude). If so, what are key elements to perform successful competence-based training?


This answer by Ashley Guberman was selected as the “Best Answer”

The response from Mr. Lewandowski did an excellent job of identifying most of the key components of various forms of training. An additional resources on training that I have found useful is:

• Training for Impact. How to link training to the business needs and measure the results.

By Cana Gaines Robinson & James C. Robinson

Also, Mr. Fornal was correct in pointing out that beyond the actual training method chosen, that the learning style of the participant is equally important. There is a relatively straight forward instrument called the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (LSI) that focuses on the differences between those who learn from concrete experience (do it), reflective observation (see it), abstract conceptualization (think about it), or active experimentation (trial & error).

Learning Styles Inventory

Prior to embarking on any significant training endeavor in the corporate environment, it helps to step back and evaluate whether the barriers to effective performance are really about the need for training at all. For example, looking at the “Skill vs. Will” matrix can help the individual responsible for performance to evaluate whether the employees need more direction, guidance, responsibility, or motivation in order to be more effective.

Cf.: Skill vs. Will Matrix

Back to the core question of whether training is the solution at all, you may wish to look at the Blumberg Model, which identifies three primary barriers to effective performance: Capacity (skills, ability, knowledge, training), Willingness, and Opportunity. In that model, “Opportunity” is identified as the most commonly missing component to performance. For example, in a customer service call center, suppose that the operators are failing to resolve customer’s issues. Therefore, additional training is provided to address this problem, but resolution rates are still poor. Then it turns out that the operators know exactly what it would take to resolve customer issues, except that they are rewarded on how quickly they end the call, or the number of calls that they take. Operators may even be penalized for taking more time, even if that is what it would take to resolve the issues. Thus, despite now having the skill and will to resolve customer issues, as well as the competence to do so, if the manager insists on keeping the call volume high even at the expense of quality of service, then the operators lack the opportunity to really make use of the capacity that they now possess. In situations where there are other factors that limit effective performance, no amount of training will address the core problem.

Cf.: Blumberg Model

The short answer to whether there is evidence that competence based training outperforms others types would thus be very difficult prove. The truth is probably that it depends a great deal on the environment, and on whether lack of competence is really the core issue to be addressed.

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