General

Veteran Suicides

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The Veterans Administration released results of the latest study about veteran suicides.  The combination of the release, comments from other veterans and an article about veteran suicides in VA Hospital parking lots saddened me.

Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults.1 Veterans only made up 8% of the 2016 estimated adult population.2

Since 2001, U.S. adult civilian suicides increased 23%, while Veteran suicides increased 32% in the same period.1

This article claimed veterans killed themselves in VA parking lots when they didn’t get assistance. I found two suicides in news articles for the past year in line with the theory.

Lack of treatment isn’t the only thing that contributes to veteran suicides, but it does contribute. A veterans’ group I’m a member of contains less than 7,000 veterans. At least one member weekly writes about frustrations from denied claims or inadequate treatment. In the period of a week, one veteran reached out to the group for support through a rough patch of PTSD. Another veteran spoke about how the lack of treatment by the VA for a shoulder injury caused her to consider suicide. I tried to register my main condition from serving in the Gulf War. The operator wouldn’t set me up with an appointment for review. He told me he couldn’t set up the appointment “in good conscience.” From the veteran side of things, the VA reform hasn’t trickled down yet.

I don’t know what I can do to better support other veterans. I am supportive of the people I know. It just doesn’t feel like that is enough. I don’t have a lot of answers at this point, only questions. One thing I do know. In the service, people who have a similar experience to you surround you. When you separate and return to your hometown, it’s hard to find people to talk to who might understand. There are a lot of disparate non-profit organizations across the country, but when someone is deep in crisis, they need help immediately. They don’t have a couple of weeks to research and determine things like which organization services their need, which organization is real, which organization is a scam. They certainly do not have years to fight a losing battle with the VA system.

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 Press 1
https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

1https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2801
2https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/
2https://www.va.gov/vetdata/veteran_population.asp

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2017/03/10/parking-lot-suicides-veterans-found-dead-in-va-parking-lots/

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/7/paul-shuping-navy-veteran-commits-suicide-in-va-pa/

Not Enough Coffee in Hotels?

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The two cups of complimentary hotel coffee often falls short of my caffeine needs at writing or gaming conventions.Violent battles for the limited coffee resource can ensue if I share a room with another coffee drinker.

To reduce this issue, I buy single serve coffee filters and a bag coffee grounds. I stay well caffeinated at conventions now, perhaps to the dismay of people staying with me.

The picture below shows what the grounds look like compared to the pods.

img_3764

Share Facebook Photo Albums

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Facebook makes it extremely easy to share individual photos, but sharing entire photo albums isn’t as intuitive.

Be on a Desktop or Laptop

I tried a couple of phones and tablets and only found the full sharing functionality on the computer version of Facebook.

Create a Public Link

  1. Open the album
  2. Click the gear in the top right-hand of the album
    AlbumGear
  3. Click Get Link
    AlbumGetLink

Following the steps above creates a direct link to your photo album that anyone can open. The link displays as text. It doesn’t generate a preview like sharing a photo album in Facebook normally does.

Share on Facebook

The first step is to make the album public. If you don’t do this step, only your friends will see the album.

What’s the problem with this? Most of the time we want to share photo albums to groups. Not everyone in the group will be your friend.  The group members who are not your friend receive a message stating they are unable to view the content.

Bear in mind; this means everyone on the internet that can find the album can view it. The album will also display for everyone on your Facebook profile page. If either of these scenarios does not appeal to you, consider using a public link or posting individual photos directly to a location instead of sharing photos or albums.

Steps to make an album public

  1. Open the album
  2. The privacy setting drop-down is underneath the album title.
  3. Select Public

AlbumPermissions

The share button for the album is at the bottom of the album underneath all of the photos. Any share buttons above the album relate to the whole page, not the album specifically.

AlbumButton

“Share on your own Timeline” appears in the upper left-hand corner of the sharing dialog box.

AlbumShare

The following drop-down options appear after the sharing dialog opens on a desktop or laptop.

AlbumShareFull

After clicking one of the options, another dialog opens allowing you to select places of that option type you have permission to share.

The dialog completed this way enables you to share Facebook albums.

Budget Conscious SEO

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When thinking about my web presence, I imagine Agent Smith speaking to me.  He says, “What good is a website … if you are unable to be found?” I know enough about search engine optimization (SEO) to hurt myself. My dangerous amount of knowledge tells me, “get your site on the first page of search results for major search engines Sloane!”

Search engines look for specific page elements, external links to your site, and natural use of keywords. A large industry surrounds optimizing web presence for search engines, but most of us starting out don’t have deep pockets to pay for technical or marketing wizards.

Keywords
What does natural use of keywords mean? It means the way you use words needs to make sense for the content of your page and sites. If the word author is on a page ten times because I want search engines to identify me as an author, search engines might lower my page’s ranking because of keyword stuffing.

Backlinks
Backlinks are links from other sites to your site. They tell search engines, hey; other people care about this page too, maybe it’s important!

Link all of your sites together. Link your social sites to your main site and your main site to all of your social sites. Imagine your social sites are siblings that will only talk to the parent instead of each other.

Get other sites to link to yours. As with keywords, links to your site should make sense. Gratuitous directory listings can lower your sites search rankings. Don’t submit to the great, big, old list of all science fiction and fantasy writers for example.

Twitter
Consider getting a Twitter account if you don’t already have one. Twitter has an agreement with Google. My Twitter page showed up on Google well before they finished processing my request to have my primary site added. Conversely, my Twitter page didn’t show up on Bing until after Bing indexed and crawled my primary site.

WordPress
The WordPress Business Plan allows you to configure elements that search engines scan. At $25 a month, the price is out of reach for some of us. The settings below offer some customization for search engine optimization.

  1. Select Settings.
  2. Put words in Site Title and Tagline with search engines in mind.
  3. Click on the Writing tab
  4. Add Categories that make sense for your content.
  5. Add Tags that make sense for your content.
  6. Click on the SEO tab.
  7. Note the XML Sitemap link at the bottom. You will need this later for submitting to search engines.

When writing blog posts, use Categories & Tags from the left to add categories and tags that match your post.

Facebook Page
Facebook populates most page elements with your page username. One of the elements does take the first 85 characters from your page’s About field. Make those first 85 characters be able to stand on their own. My Facebook page didn’t start showing on results until after search engines indexed my main site. If you can’t afford to spend money on ads and SEO, don’t use Facebook as your only web presence.

Submit URL to Search Engines
If you have an active site or a lot of links to your site, you don’t need to submit your site to search engines. They will find you eventually. For small, new sites with few links to the site, I still like submitting my URLs.  Submitting is free, but does require a login account.

Submit URL to Bing – same day turn around
Submit URL to Google – four days to four-week turnaround