Happy Tax Day,

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (would this be related to tax day :)) and the anniversary of the discovery of a new solar system (1999).  These three planets circle Upsilon Andromedae which is visible with the naked eye.  Neighbors?

I’m not as sharp as I once was (no smart remarks there) and am dealing with my 80+ year old mother.  Luckily, her health is in good shape and her mind is OK.  But she definitely has limitations on both issues.  I agree we need to deal with the social security, medicaid and medicare issues.  But a voucher system where our seniors are going to have to make decisions on buying private medical insurance?   OMG, I can’t figure out a health plan for myself.  What a wide open scam fest they are creating.  It’s like all those predatory insurance policies you see on TV sponsored by AARP.  AARP (the supposed champion of the seniors) makes the majority of their money off fees for these policies.  It has some people so incensed, that they are talking about denying their tax exempt status.

I went to the Western Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Association bi-annual meeting Tuesday at The Dream Horse Guesthouse in Kinsman, OH (Northeastern corner).  Allan and Catherine were excellent hosts and they made this great homemade soup for lunch.  The pressure’s on me, I’ll be hosting our next meeting in November.  🙂  We had a guest speaker on social media and I did learn a few points.  But overall I was fairly disappointed in her presentation.  She seemed to be pushing Google Adwords and Facebook paid for ads to increase your ranking and Internet presence.  I’m far from an expert, but #1 I never spend money if I can help it.  There are enough times you have to spend money, I agree that you need to spend money to create a web presence.  We’re not nail salons or tire stores marketing to a local market, where print advertising makes sense.  Our market in global and we are totally dependent on the Internet.  Spend the money on your web site making sure it is organically correct, #1 priority.  Grab your Google Places and your Google Maps listing and claim it.  Make sure it is accurate and move on.  Create a personal Facebook page (you have to do this in order to create a business page), create a Linked-in profile and do profiles for Yahoo, Yelp, Mantra and any other Internet site you can find.  This is all free and when everything points back to your web site this creates legitimacy with the spiders doing your rankings.  Get your web master to embed a blog in your web site (be careful, some blog formats are not in your web site, they just appear to be.  That does you no good for rankings and legitimacy)  Blog regularly (at least once a week) and get your blog tied to your business Facebook page.  This is important for a number of reasons.  I makes you a person, it makes your Inn something people can relate to.  Make fun posts, add pictures, talk about local attractions and time sensitive events (a really cool concert is next week for example).  Talk about things even locals don’t know about like the Bayernhof Museum in O’Hara.  (A millionaire from the turn of the 19/20 century who was obsessed with automatons and it’s a very interesting place.)  You nail salons can talk about the latest nail techniques and add pictures. Now you have the nuts and bolts in place of your free advertising campaign.  Lets move on.  As an Innkeeper (or any other business owner), you need to maintain a database of past customers, friends and associates.  In your data base you should have contact phone numbers, snail mail addresses and e-mail addresses.  Use this valuable resource to increase your legitimacy on Facebook.  Don’t be rude, but send an e-mail to past guests/customers inviting them to become your friends on Facebook.  Let them know that your blog is now there and besides having information there for events they may be interested in, you’re going to run specials that only people that are Fans of your business will be eligible for.  (I just got my blog on my Facebook page, so this is an upcoming project.  I have over 2,000 people in my data base-this is going to be a project).  Go into your other social media accounts like Linked-in and optimize your presence in each.  These are the things I think she should have been addressing.  In fact, I’m thinking of offering my own seminar when they come down to my Inn in November on Social Media.  🙂

The Mattress Factory has a new exhibit running through July 24 “Gestures 15: An Exhibition of Small Site-Specific Works”.  There’s Stephanie Mayer-Staley’s “(In)-Between” a piece that she uses bamboo sticks and rubber bands.  There’s Garry Pyles “There’s a black cloud But, we make the weather …….” made of stainless-steel and encaustic wax.  Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso began Cubism at the turn of the century, Robert Propst was credited with creating the first office cubical in 1967 and Erno Rubik created Rubik’s Cube in 1974.  That is why they are featured in Chris Craychee’s “X3: Cubic Influences on Western Culture and the Collective Unconscious 1637-1995” (Kind of a long title).  🙂  Kind of a thought provoking exhibit.  Normal Mattress Factory hours and prices apply.

Norma Rees, a volunteer for the National Wildlife Federation will present “Developing a Healthy Backyard Habitat” for birds at the Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley (they seem to be more active this year) on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.  Tickets are $20 and you can register at 412.741.6136 or e-mail to fhnc@verizon.net.

Finally, tomorrow, Doug Oster, Emmy Winner, KDKA radio host of  “Organic Gardener’s Radio Show” and Post-Gazette’s author of “The Back Yard Gardener” will be giving a two hour lecture on native and pest free gardening at Phipps.  It starts at two p.m., costs $15 and more info is at WYEP’ s web site.

Enjoy today, it’s supposed to start raining tonight and continue throughout the weekend,


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