A Horrible House Fire Tragedy – Can You Help?

I have just found out that my ex-wife (Angela McCleery) and her husband (Steve Lindsay) who reside near Oxford Station and Oxford Mills, Municipality of North Grenville, Ontario, along with my 22 year old son (James Scott) and Steve’s 17 year old son Sean, have lost everything in a house fire. The house burnt to the ground while they watched with only the clothes they have on their back. Indeed, from what I understand, Angela had to flee the house wearing her pyjamas. There is literally nothing left of their house or possessions.

This happened yesterday (Sunday August, 27th, 2012) and details are just starting to arrive my way.

My heart aches for them at this time, and I have no idea at this point if anyone else has created a help fund for them on their behalf to assist them through this emergency – so at this time, I am going to begin one. For the time being, any financial donations can be sent to my PayPal address, ian@pairowoodies.com

Clothing donations are also badly needed. I will post clothing sizes as I find out.

This is a terrible tragedy that many of us fear, and when it actually happens to someone you know and care about, it really hits close to home. If you can help, please do so.

I will update this as I can.

Update:

Clothing needed:

Women’s shirts, size Small, Dress size 8 or 9, ladies shoes size 8, Pant size estimated 8 or 10.

Mens size 32 waist 34 length and size 30 waist 32/34 length jeans/pants

Mens S M L shirts, Size 11 and Size 12 shoes
The sons are 22 and 17 years old.

Best address for donation of clothing and shoes at this time:

Angela McCleery
C/O Doris McCleery
P.O. Box 73
Kars, ON K0A 2E0

PayPal donations c/o ian@pairowoodies.com

Second Update

More information – the fire started in the garage, and Steve attempted to extinguish it while Angela called 911. However, it spread too fast and too quickly, and although Steve attempted to try to save some items like photograph albums, he was unable to do so. There is nothing salvageable – and I know that even though my older two sons were not living there, they still had much of their childhood possessions and stuff at the house. The other two sons, James and Sean, have nothing left.

Steve built the house himself, even hand milling the timber himself that went into it’s construction. It is a tremendous loss of of both a home and one’s own love and labour. However, we are thankful as devastating as this is for those involved, that there was no loss in life and that no one was standing near the propane tank when it exploded.

Donations Update

Thank you so much to those who are working on clothing donations.

Financial donations so far – $100.00  $150.00 $350.00 $375.00  $790.00 $890.00  $990.00  $1,015.00 $1,115.00 $1,155.00  $1,165.00(Thanks so much to everyone so far!!)

Donator List

Those who have helped, are helping or have made pledges of help in some way, including financial, donations, etc, our huge thanks. This is not a comprehensive list, but only those who I personally know about:

Judy Boneschansker, Lisa Turner, Helen Asimikis, Joe Gorscak, Heather Boneschansker, Melaura Boneshansker, Tara Stephen, Anonymous, Anonymous, Beverley Bible, Steve Henry. Peter Finch, Ben Treen, David Hafernik, Julie Magson, Ted Murphy, Pat Halbach, Ruth Morris-Vaillancourt, Catherine Finch, Grace Stephen, Darcy Rumble

Update – A Note To The Cynics (Sadly There Are A Few)

I hope I am not the only one to have found it offensive during this difficult time some members of my family have gone through, for some people to ask along the lines of, “Well, didn’t they have insurance?”

Well, yes, thankfully they did. That insurance however, is not going to take away the pain and anguish of having just lost everything. Even though eventually, there will be insurance money, why do some seem to be more focused on the fact that “EVENTUALLY,” they will probably be comfortable again? Why not help and make them as comfortable as we possibly can NOW during this horrible time they are going through?

I am so very thankful for the people that have wanted and have actually helped at this time right now! I care about them, I care about my son who is basically at the moment homeless and without any of his possessions, even if eventually some of them that have monetary value will be replaced with insurance money. Much of what they had that has no monetary value but has huge personal value which will never be replaced and cannot be replaced, but we has caring humans can (and thank you so much to those who are of the same mind) try to do what we can to make their lives more comfortable, above and beyond what the insurance will pay for at this time.

There are transportation costs, food costs, and clothing and other expenses that will need to be paid for that will be unexpected. There may be loss of immediate income. I have no idea and I’ll learn more over the coming days.

And yes, it is not just my sons, but my ex-wife, and although she is my ex-wife, she is still family to me and my family. Our families go back.. way back.. to Northern Ireland, before she and I were even born, and I still love her family members including her mom and aunt.

I am very sorry to those who have responded with a sense of “well, the insurance should cover this and that…” yes, that is reassuring – in the meantime, please note: EVERYTHING has been destroyed. They need cash for shampoo, deodorant and other personal needs, food, comfort, and the fact that they know genuine people, and not just some insurance corporations, care. For me, it is wonderful to see the outpouring of support towards my sons and their family.

It must be one of the most devastating things in the world to see your every belonging be destroyed. That the insurance company will eventually cover much of it is not much of a great thing, when your photo albums have been destroyed, you are not sure where you are going to be living in two or three days.

Thank you so much to those who are helping in spite of the fact that yes, eventually they will be doing ok. Right now, the very fact they have to deal with insurance companies and everything else is a loss of immediate income as well as the loss of everything else that has been suffered.

Personally, I don’t care if Angela and Steve end up with thousands and thousands more and above what any insurance company pays out. Steve built the house with his own hands, right down to milling the timber (and probably cutting the trees) that made the house. No insurance company can ever pay for that kind of personal loss. My son Alex told me that the look on Steve’s face as he watched the house he built, burn down will be forever etched in his mind. The grief, the utter disappointment, in watching what you proudly built, destroyed. Nothing can pay for that, as we as humans and people that love, can help at least in the interim, to make their lives more comfortable. They are homeless right now, and even if an insurance company helps to cover some or most or even all of those costs, they are still without home, RIGHT NOW. I am saddened that some don’t get that, and I do appreciate so very much those that do want to reach out and give what they can to help with the utter desperation and obvious terrible circumstances they are in. Why not help them be more comfortable at this time?

Everything has been destroyed. They need underwear, socks, stuff that no one should donate. There are costs to grieving that no insurance company can pay. We can’t even pay for that except to help them be more comfortable. No government agency can help pay for that; only individuals who care can help with that. Angela fled the house in her pyjamas. Things we take for granted like drivers licenses, (on top of everything else) was destroyed. Her eye glasses need to be replaced, and probably will be at some point – maybe paid for by insurance money – in the meantime, what? If she is stopped by the police while driving and can’t produce her drivers licence because her purse as well as everything else was destroyed, then what? And that is just a very small tiny fraction of the things they need to think about and deal with right now.

I also know that Angela, Steve and my sons will eventually give back as well, after they have rebuilt and got their lives back to some sense of normalcy. I know that for a fact. I know their character in that regard. It is the way they were brought up. It is the way we would all like to be brought up and what I value, I know they value.

I know they need help, and if in the end, they receive so much of it, I know they will give it back when they can. In the meantime, I want to make sure they have the help, that they can get deodorant, underwear, socks, access to healthy food, try to get back to some sense of normalcy as fast as possible, some level of comfort as fast as possible.

And if they end up with some additional comfort above and beyond basic necessities, then all the better for them, having had to have gone through such a terrible, traumatic and horrific experience. And if your cynical.. fine.. hope it never happens to you, is all I can say. A million dollars can’t pay for the trauma, but a few extra bucks and realizing that the human spirit is caring, and people do want to help, and they will do what they can to help, is priceless, above and beyond insurance or Red Cross assistance.
And that is what I am thankful for. Thank you to those who have reached out and have offered or pledged help.

Angela is no longer my wife, we’ve had our disagreements over the years, but there is absolutely no way in hell or heaven that I would ever take any joy in what has happened to her and the sons we had together, or even if it was just her and her partner. If you’re cynical, and think that the insurance company is good enough, or the Red Cross.. then please don’t even bother responding. Just keep your thoughts to yourself. Thank you.

And thank you to everyone else who is shocked, who has a sense of human decency, of wanting to help, of something deep within themselves to share pain, and want to help take away pain. We’re not waiting for the government, or the Red Cross, or the bureaucracy of insurance companies. Help is needed now. And how dare the government statist cynics place a value on loss that is just monetary, and respond with nonsense.

Thank you.

Google – The Stupidity of Even Thinking Of Backlink Penalties…

… for links that are so called “dodgy” or from “bad neighbourhoods.”

I have seen so many web masters now worrying about their backlink profile, and for good reason. Google has not been very clear about how a bunch of backlinks that they don’t trust, could affect your own site’s search engine rankings. In the past, Google has indicated that backlinks would not hurt you. The belief was that Google would simply discount links its bots would find while indexing the internet, that their algorithms placed little or no value on.

I think Google and its web spam team are a bit messed up if they think that they can penalize websites that have dodgy links linking back to it, as if the website owner or someone they may have hired, are the ones responsible. Let me explain why:

Years ago, I was pretty anal about going through my website statistics. It wasn’t just the top referrers I was interested in, but it often amused me to check out the large numbers of referrers I’d get that would only refer perhaps one visitor in the entire month. My curiosity was due to the fact I was always interested in any new links my site might have received. It was kind of neat, to me, to see that some site in my niche, with a Russian domain extension, and that had content similar to my niche, had discovered my site and thought it worthwhile to link to.

However, I also discovered that there were some pretty bizarre websites linking to me that had at least one click through to my site as well. At first, I could not understand why a website located in an Asian country that seemed to be all about popular Asian singers, would be linking to my fly fishing site.

There were also times when I would go to a web page that had supposedly referred some visitor to mine with a link, and there was no link there at all, although there would be links to dozens of other sites. Odd that a website would place a link to my page, someone clicked it, and then the link is removed.

But this does not always happen where the link is removed. So what could be the point of this? Most of these sites that seemed totally irrelevant to mine also appeared pretty junky with low or zero PageRank, while my site had a PR of 2 or 3 at the time (4 today).

Well, it struck me one day while I was doing a search for something, and Google returned some site’s Awstats in their results: Perhaps there are some website owners or some so called SEO people who set up systems to create links from their sites to better quality sites, then automate clicks on the links, thus generating a referral in the other sites’ statistical and website analytical packages. Knowing that many websites have their website statistics packages configured so that Google can easily discover and index them, this could provide hundreds and thousands of backlinks to their site from higher quality sites.

That was the only reason I could think of; otherwise what was the point of some ugly website about the hottest Indian Singer, or some corny adult porn site doing with a page of links that included one to a fly fishing site? I would see sometimes hundreds of these types of referrers in my analytics programs (back then, I was using a website analytics package called “http-analyze,” developed by the German company, Netstore.de. I don’t think they continue to do any development on website statistics), however, there are many many websites configured with Awstats and similar packages that are not password protected and that Google has indexed.

I have never hired outside SEO help for that website, so I absolutely know without any doubt, that any link to that site was not anything I did or ever asked for, from these “bad neighbourhood” or irrelevant websites.

And now I’m supposed to worry or be concerned about this? I’m supposed to be concerned that some other website has linked to me, clicked on the link, with possibly the sole purpose of Google indexing my Awstats installation, and finding a link back to their website? And hundreds of them doing this to my site?

That’s insane. I was speaking with a website owner of a very high quality site, aimed at a very professional niche, who advised me that they had recently received a “Unnatural Link Warning” letter in their Google Webmaster Tools. They said, “Ian, I did some checking and found a bunch of really gross pornsites linking to us, and I have no idea why. Even the pages that they have the links don’t make sense.”

This particular website that they own has a PR of 5. Is it possible, that a network of low quality adult sites, could be creating the links themselves to this site and other sites, just for the purposes of getting a link back to theirs from any analytics packages that Google might be able to crawl? It very well could be the case. And if Google is seeing this, and somehow it’s causing a flag, then Google really needs to rethink their whole idea of penalties for websites.

I have a concern that Matt Cutts and the Google Web Spam Team have got such a hardened attitude toward what they call “Web Spam,” that they have gone way overboard, in their attempts to solve what they see as a problem, hoping to give themselves a pat on the back, but in the end, there is that old George Doubleya Bush attitude of brushing off collateral damage they have caused.

I do care if my websites have links that are linking out to dodgey websites. It does come up at times; I might have written an article, referring to something on another site and linking to it, but over time, that domain has since changed hands and now is nothing like what it was when I first wrote the article. I have to keep my eye on that kind of thing. But does Google now expect me to also keep an eye on who is linking to me??

That is just insane. Just as the idea of a “disavow link” button in GWMT’s is insane – I don’t have time for that, do you? Who has time to go and look at every link, and manually “disavow” it? That’s just ridiculous, and many website owners are not even savvy enough to know what they might or should do.

What do you think?

Get More Traffic With SEO Diamond?

I like buying SEO courses. I know that my own methods work well, but it’s always good when you get some new nuggets that you weren’t aware of or techniques that have a different twist. I enjoy testing them to see what works and what does not. I’ve been doing this since 1997.

Many of the courses I’ve purchased are absolute garbage, while some have been worth the price, to me. And let me tell you something: There are many systems and techniques that work, some better than others, and sometimes not as you might expect in different niches. In this way, SEO is an art as well as a science.

I like Ross Goldberg. Never met him in person, but have had a few small correspondences with him, and have purchased a few of his courses. Some of them I really enjoyed and learned something new. So I was excited to hear about a new one he co-released on the Warrior Forum with “London Paladin.” At seven bucks and change, what the heck?

Well, unfortunately I cannot recommend this course to folks wanting to learn about SEO. If you want, you can read about it here – but read my cautions first. This course is entitled “Occupy Google V 2.0”. I never did see any previous versions of “Occupy Google” so I can’t comment on them.

The course consists of weekly modules over 12 weeks. To be honest, I’ve only got to about week 10 or 11. Each module contains a very short video, narrated by “London” with a couple of PDF files that contain links (some of them are affiliate links) to recommended outsources.

To war hardened SEO types, there is really nothing much new in the course, other than perhaps you might find some new people to outsource some tasks to, if you’re into that sort of thing. For those new to the SEO world, and want to rank their site on their own without having an expert, the first week or two is fairly basic and no major alarm bells went off in my head, except for the idea of article spinning. For someone new to SEO, there was absolutely LOTS left out here and that is the danger for someone using the course.

Today, debate continues to rage in the SEO community about the importance of back link anchor text diversity, and surely, if you’re going to teach a course on SEO, especially in this day and age, you should be touching upon that, and recommending article distribution.

What really scares me is some of the stuff that Ross and London teach that they claim is more “advanced,” in lessons or weeks nine through twelve. In today’s SEO world, doing what they suggest might… and I mean might with emphasis, help you to rank well for a time, but it also could have your site flagged, with the possibility of one of those dreaded “unnatural link warnings” from Google. And for me, this is where it gets kind of interesting. Occupy Google 2.0 sales page provides “proof” of rankings for search terms like:

[get more traffic]
[diamond seo]
[micro seo]

which are not exactly search terms that are used much everyday. Furthermore, the sales copy provides this “proof” after talking about how London managed to get dating sites ranked. Sure, they claim these are “new niches” but also try to infer that they are “fiercely competitive,” and they have nothing to do with “dating sites” referred to in the sales copy.

Well, they are not “fiercely competitive,” and indeed, the one search term [get more traffic] that is #1 in Google goes to an Amazon product – a kindle book I believe, written by Ross Goldberg.

What might impress me more is if Goldberg had created a brand new site, used the strategies he and London claim, and had that ranked above an Amazon product page. But why bother when there are only about 880 exact match searches per month for [get more traffic]?

Sadly, and I expected more from Ross (but had some suspicions) when he wrote in the Warrior Forum thread that this term had about 500 searches per day. That’s only true when you check Google Adwords tool and and use the “broad match” filter. Either Ross made a major mistake, is incompetent, or is trying some marketing fluff on those that don’t know about how to get results on keyword research. I’d like to think it was just a mistake.

However….

Late in 2011, and sponsored by Ryan Deiss and his internet marketing company, Ross created a program about reputation management. It was actually a pretty good program! But what was interesting is that in that program, Ross bragged about how well his father’s “men’s suits” online business was doing in the search engines, and that his father was just paying him a hundred bucks a month for SEO work. Ross touched upon the “fact” that he had hired some girls to do some of his SEO work for him, but that they had not done a good job; they had spent too much time and effort on Ross’ father’s site, and not enough time on the other high paying clients Ross had. But still, the results were there for everyone to see – Dad Goldberg ranked really well for some great search terms. And yes, it was impressive.

Move ahead some months later, and Google has implemented Penguin, and post Penguin, that same men’s suit website is not ranking so well anymore. Ross came out with a new product though. When asked about his dad’s site, his response to the tanking in rankings was something in effect to blaming the girls he had hired. And then fired. That response to me, suggests some transparency problems along with a lack of integrity.

Hey, I’m not a marketer and have no plans to sell an SEO WSO on the Warrior Forum. I do however, am a bit hesitant at recommending products when there are issues and I especially hate to see brand new people doing things that someone has told them to do, and spending time and money on activities and products that are questionable at best.

Occupy Google 2.0 – should you purchase it? No, especially if you are a “newby.” Well, you can purchase it, but do a heck of a lot of research first, before you actually implement any of the recommendations.

I just hate seeing people get burned with expectations, and time spent – even if it only cost them seven bucks in the first place.

Dear David…

(I posted this on my FB wall at about 6:30AM on August 6th)

August 6th.. Yes, the Martian Curiosity machine has landed. That is neat. As I write this, ten years ago, to the hour and almost to the minute, I was the sole attendant at the birth of an amazing little boy. No doctors, no ambulance (not enough time), and much panic… and desperately recalling all of my First Aid training.. Happy Birthday to a most special boy, David Hugh Scott. You are now ten years old, and what a joy you’ve brought to all that know you.

It is teasing when I tell you that you need to start going backward in age.. that you are actually turning 6 all over again… or 3.. or 7, or 5.. because of the amazing memories you have brought me and others over your decade worth of life. I am glad you can laugh at my teasing and have learned yourself to be a bit of a tease at times, with your cheeky humour. I love your “knock knock” jokes and the ones you make up yourself. But then, I look fondly back on your creativeness when you were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 years old too, and the smiles you motivated, and the people you have touched.

I love the fact you love your older brothers, Alex, James and Colin. And I know they love you. And circumstances are such that you don’t get to see them all the time; but it’s ok with you – you’ve never learned anything different, so it’s all good anyway.

I am proud of what you have accomplished in your ten years of life. I am one of the most luckiest of fathers I am sure; I have four sons that are awesome and terrific, and you happen to be the youngest, and please don’t ever forget, as a dad, I had three before you; they were not “experiments” but all of them taught me something about being a dad. I know I still have lots to learn. And I will make mistakes. Some of them I’m not sure if they can be corrected. But I will always love you.

David, ten years ago, almost to the minute, you took your first breath, and I held you and fell in love with you. I have aged, and probably have not done as well with age as others, but you have done so much with growing and learning, through your youth. Part of me lives vicariously through you, and your three older brothers as well.

There have been times when it’s been your very existence along with your brothers’ existence that has motivated me in times I felt down and wanted to give up.

Happy Birthday, my “wee man.” You might think I am celebrating your birthday, but.. I am also celebrating decisions I made, a decade ago, and am so happy with them. So many parents talk of their children as if they are some how a burden.. I am blessed in that regard in that none on mine ever have been a burden, and indeed Mr. David Hugh Scott, you’ve proved over and over again just how amazing it can be to observe, watch, and love, a child can be. i wish I could give you the world.. but I can’t.. yet at the same time, I am sure in my knowing that you will do and become what you are capable of. I am proud of you, just as I am proud of Alex, James and Colin too.

I love you, David, and as I have fond memories of how you were at 1 year old, or two years old, or whatever age I have in my memory, I look forward to watching you grow, giving you advice which you are free to ignore (cuz lots of it did not work out for me anyhow), and with your thoughts and ideas, do what you can to live another decade, two decades, three.. five.. seven.. ten…

I love you, David Hugh Scott. So much. Happy Tenth birthday, my wee man.