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The Semi-Regular Newsletter


America, September 14, 2010

Google AdSense: Stop Teasing Me with YouTube Revenue Sharing

So my Belly Button Window videos of my worldwide travels, One Laptop Per Child, and my daughter Hanalei, have found quite a following on YouTube. I have several videos with over 5,000 views:

Each time a new video crosses the multi-thousand viewership, YouTube sends me an email like this:


Dear bellybuttonwindow,

Your video Michael Jackson is Alive! He's a Traffic Cop in Abuja, Nigeria has become popular on YouTube, and you're eligible to apply for the YouTube Partnership Program, which allows you to make money from playbacks of your video.

Once you're approved, making money from your video is easy. Here's how it works: First sign into your YouTube account. Then, complete the steps outlined here. Once you're finished, we'll start placing ads next to your video and pay you a share of the revenue as long as you meet the program requirements.

We look forward to adding your video to the YouTube Partnership Program. Thanks and good luck!
The YouTube Team

And every time they do, I cuss out Google AdSense. Why? Because one day last summer, Google AdSense sent me the following email, just after they closed my AdSense account (with about $150 in revenue at the time) and locked me out of any future AdSense participation:


Hello, While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers.

Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we've decided to disable your account. Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers.

We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken, please do not reply to this email.

You can find more information by visiting

The Google AdSense Team

Google AdSense never told me what "significant risk" my account posed or how to correct it. They didn't give me any information at all in which to base an appeal, which they denied out of hand. To this day, I still have no clue why I am banned for life from Google AdSense.

The only silver lining in my banishment? I found the eBay partner network and am now making 3-4x what I did with Google AdSense.

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America, August 17, 2010

Introducing Archer Sophia Vota

Hanalei's little sister has arrived! Please welcome Archer Sophia Vota, the newest edition to the Vota family. She came into this world this evening as her mom was laughing, and now she can't stop crying. Yet her parents and her family are overjoyed by this new bundle of love. Archer...

Continue reading "Introducing Archer Sophia Vota"

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America, June 22, 2010

Apple iPhone Boarding Pass: United Airlines Innovation

Swipe your phone, board the plane
It's not often that you can use the words "innovation" and "United Airlines" in the same sentence, without a "lack of" first - but with the new iPhone boarding pass, you can, and you will!

Last week, I was headed to Inveneo's offices in San Francisco for my bi-monthly check-in with the team. Before I ran out the door, I skipped one step that we're all familiar with - the boarding pass printing.

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America, April 6, 2010

How to Get a Free River Birch Tree in Washington DC

My new river birch tree
I've always wanted a tree in my back yard. While my neighbourhood, Petworth, has beautiful old trees, all I have is a tree stump in my garden. The previous owners of my house cut down the tree that was in my yard, and now my west-facing back yard gets hot! in the summer.

A tree in my yard would provide shade, visual interest, a place for birds, and be one small contribution to cooling the District of Columbia, replacing its tree cover, and reducing rain runoff. That last reason, runoff, is where the District Department of Environment comes in.

Petworth, like much of old Washington, DC, is on a single sewer line system, which means that when it rains, the rain water goes into the sewer system and overwhelms the Blue Plains water treatment plant. In the past, they just dumped raw sewage into the Potomac. Now the city is trying to stop this practice at its source - the hundreds of thousands of downspouts across DC.

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America, March 15, 2010

4 Reasons Why RunKeeper is the Best iPhone App for Runners

Welcome our new child
I'm a runner. I love to run. And I run around the world. But I really dislike most of the run tracking tools.

Then I found RunKeeper, by the way that its been most influential on my running - a Facebook post. I saw a cool run map on Justin Thorp's profile and clicked through to what is an amazing iPhone application. Here's the 4 reasons why Runkeeper has bettered my runs:

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America, February 9, 2010

Segundo: The Best 37th Birthday Present Ever

Welcome our new child
I turned 37 years old today, which means its only 3 short more years till I'm 40. Or mid-life. Halfway from birth to death. And I couldn't be happier.

Just three years ago, I was a whole different person on my birthday. No wife, no kid, no house, and no dog. I was young and free, sporting a fine Puerto Rico tan. But I was all alone.

Today, I am much different person. I'm blessed with a wonderful, loving wife, an angle child, our own (affordable) home, and the amazing Snow Dog Taxi. Today, I am so much happier than 3 years ago.

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America, February 5, 2010

Snowpocolypse 2010: A Taxi Dog Delight

Snow Dog Taxi on patrol
What happens when you mix 30+ inches of snow and one Taxi Dog? You get happiness that can only be expressed with a yelp of delight. That's how "Snow Dog" Taxi greeted the great Snowpocolypse 2010 in Washington DC.

First out the door as the snowflakes started, Snow Dog Taxi is in love with the white fluffy stuff from above. She knows it means extended exploration of the neighbourhood as her owner shovels the sidewalk. She can also cross streets without care, as cars are rare, and when present, slowing to a crawl to keep control.

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America, January 10, 2010

Driving 35 Hours with 1 Year Old Hanalei

Which way to go?
Just think about this for a minute - driving 35 hours with a 1 year old daughter. Any parent starts to cringe, preparing for a tale of crying, seat-kicking, marriage-ending woe. You'll read about that in some other place, for here, I have only happiness to report.

Amy, Hanalei, Dog Taxi and I - that's 2 parents, 1 child and 1 dog, drove from Washington DC to Atlanta, to Vero Beach and back to Washington DC over Christmas without a single scream, tantrum, or pork rind. Yeah, I'm in shock too.

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