My first monthly update got some pretty good reviews and everybody seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I would do another one. A lot has changed this past month, and there's a lot of changes yet to come.
First of all, we officially reached 10,000 likes on Facebook! Whoo-hoo! This is unbelievable! Compared to some Facebook pages, 10,000 doesn't seem like that much, but knowing that that many people care about my travels and read my posts mean the world to me. When my account was jammed up around 60 likes back in December I was getting pretty bummed out. Here I was, every other day pumping out long, detailed travel entries, knowing the only people who were going to read them were my close family and friends. It was frustrating because I was putting so much work into my posts, and so few people seemed to care. Now thousands care. It's unbelievable! When I go at weeks end and see that my blog was been red 600 times, I am ecstatic! There's nothing better in this world than knowing people are going out of their way to read your blog posts. So, once again, thank you everybody for your support.
The second big thing that happened, happened on March 1st. That was the day I took possession of my apartment and I didn't even realize it happened: for some reason Google disabled my Adsense account. I appealed to them to reenable it but it was denied it. They didn't have to tell me why my account is disabled, and they chose not to. I'm left assuming it was because I advertised on Facebook which brought traffic to my site, which in turn artificially inflated the money I earned via advertising. If anybody cares, in the whole month of February I made $7.87, which is $92 shy of the lowest limit Google will pay.
Since then I've been exploring alternative advertising methods. One option was RevenueHits. RevenueHits claims they aren't as good as Adsense, but they're good enough. They weren't good enough for me. I put their ads on my site to see what they looked like, and they were misleading ("Your Flash Player Is Out of Date"), unrelated ("Download Here!") and sometimes straight obnoxious (like the "popunder" one that opens a new tab when the user visits a site). I like money just as much as you, but I like respect more. I respect my readers, and I want you to respect me back. Those ads were misleading and I didn't trust them enough to show them to you. I don't care if they're one of the highest revenue making advertising companies after Adsense. I don't write for money. I write because I love to write, and I love knowing you love what I write.
I then looked at Taboola, which is a fairly common advertising site that shows other popular articles around the web. Have you ever seen those "Skinny Pills Taking Storm!" ads going around? That's Taboola. I inquired into getting an account with them, but I needed 48,000 more monthly visitors to be considered. That's not gonna happen anytime soon! I emailed a couple others. One of them, SkimLinks, seems promising but takes days to get back to me. Disqus (we will talk more about them below) also has a similar program, but you need to have a certain number of visitors to use their ads, which I don't have.
I ended up going with InfoLinks, a company that puts links onto a website's keywords. Their ads can be seen by hovering over the links with your mouse. Today is the first full day of me having them online. They have other ads too, like ads that come in on the sides and ads that pop up when you come to the site. Other ones are keyword banners. I'm not sure how I feel about those, but we will give InfoLinks a chance for now.
On a more personal note, I've been busy moving into my new place, which is why new posts have been absent for so long. I want to assure everybody I am still alive and I'm still blogging. This "quiet time" has led to about a half dozen dislikes on my Facebook page. I know you guys want new content. And I have more content coming; I just didn't have Internet to post it.
I've also added Disqus comments to my blog. I like generating conversation and I see Disqus comments becoming more and more popular on websites. They seem to have even become more popular than Facebook comments. I thought I would give them a shot. So far, nobody has commented on anything. But maybe somebody will on this one!
There are other odds and ends I could talk about -- like the local newspaper telling me they "weren't interested" in doing a piece about my blog -- but I think I'll end it here. There are some other really big things coming up, but I would rather announce them at the time of them happening than announce them now and not have them fall through.
So, until next time, goodbye, and keep on traveling!
(Maybe I should use that line more often. Is it too late for a catchphrase?)
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.
Long before I started my blog, many, many years ago, I visited Innsbruck, Austria. I was on a Contiki trip through Europe and visited a plethora of locations such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Lucerne and Innsbruck, just to name a few. It was an incredible experience and one that I think was a transformative moment in my life.
Off the record (or, on the record now, I guess), of all the places I visited, the only one I didn't like was Innsbruck. I couldn't get into it. We visited it in late March, so the weather wasn't the best. The trees didn't have any leaves on them, the grass was brown, and everything had a post-winter grey look to it. After visiting Munich and spending the night in St. Goar, my mind wasn't thinking about Innsbruck at all. Instead, I was more excited to go to Venice the next day, and the Vatican the day after that. My time in Innsbruck was uneventful, and all I wanted was to get back on the road.
That was in 2011, and now it's 2018. Has my opinion on Innsbruck changed? I would say yes. I'm more mature now and if I went back, I would better appreciate what I was seeing. As I've gotten older, I've been less impressed by the massive buildings and more enthralled by the history that created them.
The past few weeks have been really busy for me, with a lot more time at the office and a lot less time travelling. Thankfully, the weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the possibility of a two day vacation. Having traveled to Lac La Ronge earlier this month, I've been thinking more and more about these short trips and how rejuvenating they can be.
Unfortunately, I haven't done as much travelling around Saskatchewan as I'd like, so I wasn't sure what the best places to visit were. There were of course the obvious choices such as Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but I wanted someplace remote, yet somewhat close. For this project I approached some of my fellow travel bloggers and I got some ideas of what to go do and see for a weekend. I went through their ideas and came up with this short list of 5 weekend destinations in Saskatchewan.
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