Category Archives: Recent

4 Weird News Stories from 2013 that Will Make You Say Whaaa?

Surprise (photo by Victor Bezrukov)

There was no shortage of weird news stories in 2013; however, you probably didn’t hear about most of these. Feast your eyes on the following strange-but-true tales that will have you shaking your head in disbelief.

1) $1.5 million U.S Tax Dollars Used to Study Why Lesbians Are Fat

Angering millions of people for a variety of reasons, the U.S. government recently gave a Boston hospital $1.5 million to fund a research project aimed at determining why gay women are fatter than gay men. Although the researchers called the study of “high public-health significance,” the mind-boggling expenditure left many people scratching their heads. (Source: FOX News)

22) Jon Hamm’s Penis Sets Off Media Frenzy

Apparently, ratings aren’t the only big things associated with AMC’s Mad Men. The show recently gained substantial media attention, thanks to reports which claimed that producers had to ask Jon Hamm to wear underwear to prevent his abnormally large genitals from showing through his clothing. Things went crazy from there, with countless websites and media outlets growing fixated with the star’s family jewels. (Source: New York Daily News)

3) Man Has Missing Penis Replaced with Part of Arm

Speaking of genitalia, a 39-year-old British man spent his entire life without any. That is, until doctors crafted one out of tissue from his arm. Oddly, the man claimed to have slept with over 100 women in spite of not having a penis. According to him, his physical limitations actually made him more attractive to women, who felt less pressured and more comfortable in his presence. (Source: Daily Mail)

Bowl4) $3 Garage Sale Bowl Ends Up Being Worth $2.2 Million

When an everyday New Yorker bought a $3 bowl at a local secondhand sale, he (or she) stumbled on to something special. Months later, experts identified the bowl as a 1,000-year-old piece from the Northern Song Dynasty in China. Ultimately, the bowl was sold at auction for a couple million dollars. Apparently, it had been sitting in the seller’s living room for years prior to the sale. (Source: New York Daily News)

Brides Reveal Biggest Wedding Regrets In Survey

Wedding (photo by Emilio Azevedo)

The vast majority of brides look forward to their weddings with plenty of excitement and hope. Unfortunately, at least one study indicates that many end up regretting the way they used their budgets.

Recently, New York Magazine published the results of a survey which asked 100 brides to name the biggest disappointments related to their weddings. In conducting their study, researchers asked every respondent to rank their greatest snafus, registry errors and planning missteps. In the end, the study unveiled fascinating results that can help guide anyone who’s preparing a wedding.

Overspending

It’s not uncommon for people to spend too much money on their weddings; however, some go over-budget in ways they later wish they hadn’t. According to New York Magazine’s report, most respondents expressed regret over spending too much money on flowers, while a smaller percentage said they wished they’d spent less on makeup, dresses, hair, photos, drinks and decorations.

Under-spending

Although a large number of brides believed they went over-budget on specific wedding features, others felt they hadn’t spent enough. About one in ten brides expressed regret for spending too little on their dresses, while about nine percent felt they underspent on their cakes. Ultimately, however, the largest regrets centered on poor or inadequate photography, with 22 percent of respondents wishing they’d spent extra on a quality photographer.

Unsurprising

According to professional wedding photographer, Arnaud Brichet, it isn’t that shocking to learn that lackluster wedding photography topped the list of bridal regrets.

“While the ideal ceremony tends to be characterized by a collection of critical features, none of it really matters if the wedding isn’t appropriately captured,” he said. “Sadly, a large number of brides focus their budgets on wedding planners, caterers, florists, bakers, limousine drivers and venue managers. Without an experienced, skilled photographer to capture every critical moment, even the best wedding features tend to fade from memory. That said, a quality photographer has the ability to capture the true essence of a ceremony, so brides and grooms can relive the emotions for years down the line.”

Making a Wise Choice

As an experienced Dominican Republic wedding photographer with HDC Photo, Brichet has amassed years of experience. According to him, when selecting a professional wedding photographer, it’s important to closely examine his or her complete portfolio.

“Some professionals take portraits that seem a little too unnatural or orchestrated,” he said. “On the other hand, an experienced professional has versatile talents, which allow him or her to capture beautiful, natural-looking photos that don’t seem forced or posed.”

Brichet says a good photographer should also ask plenty of questions and get to know the bride and groom to better assess exactly what they are looking for. Most importantly, the professional should have lots of samples that clearly demonstrate both his or her versatility and attention to detail.

Ideally, a wedding should be a beautiful, memorable event. That said, quality photographs can help you retain and re-experience even the most minor details; so you can enjoy them for decades later. When choosing a photographer, ask plenty of questions and take your time. After all, your photos and videos will be the most important link to that special day, when you officially joined your life with the one you love most.

UBid, Happybidday, Pennygrab: Are All Online Auctions the Same?

Auction user (photo by Petar Milošević)

Penny Auctions have grown in popularity over the past year, thanks to widespread radio and television promotion. Unfortunately, they’ve also come under plenty of fire for bilking unsuspecting consumers out of their hard-earned money. Sites such as UBid, Happybidday, and PennyGrab pit users against one another in auction-style online formats that promise to deliver bargain prices on brand name products. That said, although these sites seem quite similar at first glance; they aren’t necessarily the same.

AARP Issues Warning

Recently the AARP issued a warning to its members regarding penny auction sites that take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. According to the organization, many people don’t realize that many of these sites are unlike traditional online auctions, such as eBay, because they require consumers to pay for the right to bid. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether bidders win an individual action or not; they must pay to participate. This means that any time an auction ends; numerous people have lost money, allowing the auction company to reap large profits at the expense of its customers.

Are They All the Same?

While most penny auctions work the same way, not all maintain the same level of credibility. For instance, while Penny Grab and U Bid are accredited by the Better Business Bureau; Happy Bid Day is not. Likewise, while pennygrab.com and happybidday.com require customers to pay money for the right to bid, ubid.com says it only charges a consumer’s credit card if he or she actually wins. Ultimately, this characteristic makes uBid a traditional auction site, which sets it apart from typical pay-to-play auction sites that force consumers to put money at risk just for the right to participate.

FTC Urges Caution

Like the AARP, the Federal Trade Commission has expressed concern about the way some of these bid-and-buy websites work. According to the federal agency, even when participants win a penny auction auction; the vast majority end up paying more than they expected. Additionally, the FTC warns that some sites use automated bots to make false bids on products, which helps drive up prices to encourage higher profits for the company.

Best Ebooks Download for Breaking Bad Fans

Breaking Bad (photo by popculturegeek.com)

A suspenseful and entertaining television series, Breaking Bad has attracted numerous fans, thanks to its gritty, intense nature. If you’re a fan of AMC’s award-winning TV drama, you’re sure to enjoy the following three novels.

Similar in Many Ways

Our in-house books and publishing expert, Lois McGinty has compiled an Amazon.com ebooks download list of the best fiction novels for Breaking Bad fans. Each of these books feature similar characters, plotlines and tones. They’re also centered on criminal activity.

The Hell that Followed

When five small-town law enforcers steal money from a notorious drug lord, all hell breaks loose. Now, each man must cooperate with a cold, strange villain or face certain death. Based in part on a true story, this Amazon.com ebooks download is available in five chilling parts, with each currently on sale for only .99 cents.

  • McGinty says: “This is one of the top three books I read in 2012. The intense, frightening plot and well-written dialog are perfect for anyone who loves Breaking Bad.”

The Last Don

Famous for creating The Godfather, Mario Puzo also crafted some other amazing crime fiction novels. The Last Don features some fascinating characters who specialize in violence.

  • McGinty says: “As with AMC’s award-winning crime drama, The Last Don features villains who attract your loyalty. Just as you root for Brian Cranston’s Walter White, even though he’s become a notorious meth-lord; you root for Puzo’s villainous characters who kill at will, yet somehow draw your affection nonetheless.”

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy’s exceptional novel was made into an Academy Award winning film; however, the book version holds information that never made it onto the big screen.

  • McGinty says: “This is a fantastic read for anyone who enjoys the tense scenes in BB. Anton Chigurh is one of the most memorable villains in literary history; and there’s a lot more about him the McCarthy’s book.”

Crime Fiction Popularity Low, Despite TV Success

Cast of Breaking Bad (photo by CennoxX)

These days, television crime dramas have struck a positive chord with the viewing public, with several network and cable series ranking high in the Nielsen ratings. That said, despite the success of shows, such as AMC’s Breaking Bad, CBS’s Person of Interest and the seemingly ever-present CSI off-shoots, crime fiction books remain shockingly unpopular amongst readers. Typically, when one genre finds fortunate via a particular medium; it also reaches similar success elsewhere. Unfortunately for those who make a career out of writing these types of novels, this just isn’t the case anymore.

Demographic Discrepancies

Currently, criminal-oriented novels rank well below other books genres, such as romance, science fiction and mystery. On the other hand, when television introduces a show featuring criminal activity, it almost always seems to find instant success. Years ago, a book such as Silence of the Lambs might have little trouble finding readership. These days, things have changed for a variety of reasons. According to RJ Lawrence whose crime fiction books sell sparingly at Amazon, some of the blame belongs to demographic differences.

“A television show such as Breaking Bad is more likely to find success, because an awful lot of viewers are male,” he said. “On the other hand, fewer and fewer men are reading these days. While numerous women may enjoy a good crime drama; the vast majority would prefer something light and romantic. As reader demographics shift in the female direction, these books are finding more success.”

Another Theory

Stressful lifestyles may also be pushing readers away from intense books that focus on criminal activity. According to our in-house books and publishing expert, Lois McGinty, the modern reader is more interested in light escapism when compared to readers of the past.

“Nowadays, people are under a lot of financial stress,” she said. “The news is filled with stories of violence that make people anxious and afraid. At the end of a long day, people are less inclined to read about a killer. Instead, many prefer to enter a world of fantasy, unlike the one they must endure on a daily basis.”

Still a Demand

Despite the floundering popularity of crime genre books, some authors have still found success. Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sold millions of copies and was adapted into a motion picture. Likewise, although it didn’t set sales records, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men became so popular, famed directors Joel and Ethan Coen adapted it into a film that won the Academy Award for best picture.

Still, there’s no doubting  this niche has seen better days. That said, according to Lawrence, this fact shouldn’t serve to push writers toward more popular genres.

“Even the most seasoned publishing expert can’t predict what books will do well,” he said. “Authors are always better served writing about subjects they feel passionate about. Then they have to let the chips fall where they may.”

Finding the Right Local Internet Marketing Company for SEO

SEO2

Nowadays, it can be hard for businesses to attain new customers unless they have a good web presence. Few people rely on the yellow pages in today’s modern world; instead, most look to Google to find service providers in their areas. The right local Internet marketing company can help businesses improve search engine rankings; so their customers can find them. Unfortunately, the wrong one could actually make a company go belly up.

Why it Matters

Research has demonstrated that most people tend to view only the first couple of pages of Google’s search results. This means companies that rank too low to appear on these pages tend to remain unnoticed, no matter how good they are at what they do. A good search engine optimization company can boost a business’s rankings; however, according to Ryan Lawrence of Ethical SEO Internet Marketing, a disreputable SEO firm could actually do serious harm.

“Years ago, SEO professionals used “black hat” tactics to try to fool Google’s algorithms and improve their clients’ rankings,” he said. “Nowadays, Google is watching closely for these tricks, and if your local Internet marketing company uses them, your business will be penalized severely.”

Damaging to Businesses

Recently, both Overstock.com and JC Penny received big penalties from Google, thanks to some unethical marketing tactics used by a firm they hired. In the end, both companies saw their rankings drop substantially. It will take years for them to regain their old positions, and millions of dollars will be lost in the meantime.

“If a firm uses unethical strategies to get your website higher rankings, you will be caught; make no mistake,” Lawrence said. “When this occurs, the search engine optimization firm will keep your money, and you will be left to endure the consequences.”

Choosing a Good Local Internet Marketing Company

According to Lawrence, business owners should look for two main qualities when hiring someone to market their local businesses online.

“First, you must ask how they will promote your company,” he said. “If they won’t tell you, be wary. Nowadays, the best way to enhance rankings is by generating content in the form of informative on-site and off-site articles. At Ethical SEO Internet Marketing, we employ a staff of experienced, professional journalists that specialize in writing newsworthy features that promote our clients’ businesses. These features attract links to our clients’ websites, which inevitably boosts their rankings. Because our journalists ghost write on behalf of the clients, the articles also promote the clients as experts in their specific fields. This is a very effective strategy, because it is exactly how Google wants companies to increase their rankings; so by following the rules and remaining ethical, we get risk-free, long-lasting results.”

Besides asking how a firm will go about improving rankings, Lawrence says companies should also try to avoid contracts.

“Most providers require contracts, but I’d recommend trying to find one that doesn’t.” he said. “In the end, a contract is going to protect the search engine optimization firm most of all, because it will ensure that it is paid regardless of whether it provides any real results.”