My web site gives you a pretty good idea about who I am and what interests me. If you're reading this, odds are you're interested in some of the same things. In general, my blog will share lots of thoughts about entrepreneurism, writing, travel, western history, inspiration and the secrets of life. Oh, and Border Collies.
But enough about me. Let's start talking about what I think. :)
Everything comes and goes. Here we are in December already. We're right back into winter trolley season again. Our light tours start on December 10. Soon I will be writing here and it will be December 26 and the tours and Christmas will be behind us.
Once we clear Christmas then we are free to work almost exclusively on our own projects. The Rotary Show is in February but we don't hold leadership positions this year so the load is much lighter. I look forward to having Margie direct all her energy toward our projects. She is addicted to volunteer work and she has promised me she is all mine come January 1.
Today is Friday. As an entrepreneur, that's not a big deal like it was when I worked for others. Although once we hit the weekend the phones ring less so I like the weekends for that reason. But we typically work every day on something anyway. Now Monday's I like. Because everyone else has to go back to work or school and I don't. Bad weather days are great when you work for yourself at home too. Because you don't have to go out into it, you enjoy snuggling in and watching it.
Margie's Santa House came out great. We've been decorating it all week and it looks sharp. A few more details and it'll be ready for Santa's arrival December 10. Margie's photo was on the front page of the 11/30/05 Cody Enterprise . She's pictured decorating the house. She had lots of help with the project but the idea, organization and passion came from her brain so it's fitting she got some recognition.
I sent off my first assignment for the copywriting course I am taking and am awaiting the results. I'm learning lots of new techniques and I can see it will result in me getting much larger fees for future writing. That's the beauty of buying good information -- it always generates more value than its expense, making it a great investment you can harvest for the rest of your life. I've written and sold lots of copy -- lots of it for an ad agency -- but that doesn't mean I know everything. You never get to that place and even if you did, things change over time so you have to constantly feed your brain.
No word from the insurance company on my Lovell claim yet. I call them again today and demand a timeline. If they stall me another month it will be a full year since I filed that claim. Isn't that outrageous? I think I have been remarkably patient not involving the Better Business Bureau, Wyoming Attorney General or an attorney. But I'm close. Which is sad. How can people sleep at at night who run businesses that way?
I can see it generating some ad revenue and giving me a chance to share opinions, articles, advice and information about local people, places, news and events. That sounds suspiciously like a newspaper and I already had one near-death experience running one of those.
We'll see what develops.
We went out to dinner with friends Kathy & Bill last night. Lots of interesting conversation strands that led to lots of laughs. It started with the girls ordering hot tea and learning the restaurant no longer provided the little assorted tea baskets because some customers were stealing extras to bring home. The waitress was trained to give out one bag at a time. So within a minute of hearing that Bill & I were immediately compiling a list of references and completing a finance agreement and laying down a deposit to convince the waitress we were a secure risk for more tea bags. No dice.
It's a funny world.
I'm nearing the end of that other Ayn Rand tome I've been reading, The Fountainhead. It's a good book and less tedious than Atlas Shrugged.
The Fountainhead is about an architect that refuses to sacrifice the integrity of his designs for anyone. The lesson is to live your own life by your own standards, doing that which you love. Ayn's pet concepts of self-sufficiency, self-control and self-discipline are generously illustrated by the strongest characters. This is my second time reading this book and I'm getting much more out of it and can recommend it. Especially if you are an entrepreneur type.
More insurance adventures. I called my old agent's boss yesterday for an update on my 11-month-old claim and he knew nothing new but promised he'd call me back by the end of the day. The call didn't arrive. THIS is why I sell a customer service booklet. It's also why I'll never run out of customers.
The insurance boss handed me over to the manager of the middleman insurance company that has been screwing up my claim all these months. This manager just took over in August and promises to get things moving. But it sounds like we're still weeks away.
I'm delighted with how EverythingCody.com is turning out. Everything builds over time.
I've become an affiliate for Wal-Mart, Lillian Vernon and Hickory Farms so far. This means I get a commission from every sale made from my site. I'll grow that list as I progress.
Reservations for our trolley light tours are pouring in. Our newspaper ad hit Monday and the phone is ringing. Emails are also coming in. I can tell we'll easily book out this year. Especially since there are fewer tours because we made the tours longer. We increased the price to compensate for that so the net gain is same money as last year but we work a little less.
This morning we pull out the trolley to haul a group of Lutheran school children to a bank where they sing carols for customers. The church is directly across the street from our house and we sometimes park the trolley in their parking lot, so we don't mind doing this for them each year as a thank-you.
I received a call from a friend last night asking some advice about mobile homes. He's considering them as an investment project. I was able to provide lots of good information off the top of my head that he seemed to think was helpful. That felt good. It's surprising how few people ask us for business advice even though we're very visible in the community. We're happy to share what we know and I think most successful entrepreneurs feel the same way.
She's had a rough few days at the trailer park. It's fallen below zero and stayed cold during the past few days. A few dwellings had water pipes freeze which is a major hassle for everyone involved. One had the heat tape unplugged. Others may need replacement of the heat tape they already have. We think we find solutions for these situations each year but something else tends to pop up. We identify problems after the first cold snap and then there's less freezing of pipes the rest of the winter.
We held our first Rotary Show writers meeting last night. It's great not to be in charge of that committee this year. Lot's of good ideas already and everyone is basking in the feeling that we have plenty of time until the show Feb 24 & 25. It's all an illusion of course, but it feels good anyway.
Today is a very heavy day for us. We must decorate the trolley in 20 degree temps for the parade Saturday night. Our light tours start right after the parade. We don't have heat in our trolley warehouse and this is the one time each year I wish we did. The tour reservations are pouring in so it'll be another successful tour season.
Margie is going 100 miles per hour. She's got all the light tour prep plus she's got the Santa House prep plus she has the Cody Events Committee prep for their million Christmas events downtown tomorrow. She stays chipper but she's physically tired and mentally stressed. Her stamina is way stronger than mine. But everything comes and goes and within two weeks the trolley will be parked again, the Santa House will be stored and Christmas events will be over. We'll then be free to work on our own projects here in our basement offices. Oh... and take a little time off too.
Margie has gotten committments for all outside trolley advertising spaces except one for next year. That one is being considered by a long-term advertiser and is a likley renewal. These companies pay for this advertising this month which spreads our trolley business income over the full year. Once we hit January we decide if we add any new published products to the trolley operation this year. Our souvenir guide is a big hit and we have ideas for other guides too. We'll see. It's all about adding value to all concerned.
EverythingCody.com is coming along nicely. Still lots more content to enter. But once entered, it requires few changes. Then I can concentrate on adding daily news and info that keeps the site fresh and relevent so visitors return each day. I will also create advertising income scenarios and line up more affiliate vendors so the site becomes profitable.
I had an $800 offer for one of my domain names yesterday. This is way less than it's worth but way more than I paid for it. And it's for a family who is starting an online business so I'm considering it. I have 180 other domain names to develop or sell, so it's not like if I sell it I'll never make another dime from domains. Once I complete the EverythingCody.com learning curve, I can start developing the others. I have five years of work sitting in front of me just with those.
We are into the lite tours now. Had two charters last night. Have two more tonight. Not as many lites are up this year. We think it is because we had a very cold snap the first ten days of December so people put off decorating. More lights are appearing each night so we hope it keeps building.
I've been really doing a lot of work on EverythingCody.com. Check it out -- it's really getting there. I have lots of depth to add to the topic subjects I've posted but it'll build quickly.
The biggest decision I've made is to update the site daily. I'm writing news articles so the site is Cody's defacto daily newspaper. But I also will add quirky and funny and inspiring items each day so readers receive a free "gift" of something new everyday. This really isn't hard (the Internet is so vast) to pull off so I think I can sustain it.
I'm still trying to decide if this is a hobby or a business. I've got a few passive revenue features built into the site and time will tell if they generate anything. I can also just directly sell advertising to local businesses if I choose to. With my newspaper experience, I know how to make that beneficial to all concerned.
This is so much easier than the last time I ran a newspaper. No printing. No major design or layout work. No physical delivery of the product. Technology allows me to do the entire thing myself for zero expense. Amazing times we live in.
I turned down the $800 offer for my domain name EverythingCowboy.com. The name is worth more and is a good candidate to develop nationally. Once I develop it and attract traffic I can sell it as an on-going business for 10 to 100 times more. So many opportunities, so little time.
The beauty of all this website work is I'm learning new things every day. The learning curve is steep too -- so it will be hard for competitors to follow. Putting yourself on the line forces you to learn. Right now I'm pushing myself to launch EverythingCody.com at the first of the year.
I got my first copywriting course assignment graded and returned. The instructor said it was an outstanding letter and that I was a natural born copywriter. My past experience sure didn't hurt. I'm happy but not getting a big head because I have miles to go and there are many techniques I still need to learn.
The cat is standing on my desk staring at my monitor as I type this. She's ready for another game of "chase the cursor."
My visitation statistics show I'm getting an increase of visitors. Lots more work to go there too but we haven't even officially launched yet. That's a whole 'nother job in itself. But I look forward to that.
The light tours are going well. We're almost sold out for the rest of the week. We actually over-sold because we've added an 8:30 tour on Thursday and Friday. It's a good service and riders are telling us they love it. The temps have warmed up which makes things lots more comfortable.
Jessica is home from college until the 27th. She then flies to England for a vacation. I have yet to cross the Atlantic. Our kids have way more opportunities than we did. But that's the way it's supposed to be. Each generation starts on the shoulders of the prior one.
One more week until our new life starts. Margie has promised she's all mine after Christmas is over and Jessica leaves. That means I get the full power of her energy directed on our businesses. No more new volunteer work for either of us so we can get our lives heading full steam toward our retirement goals. It will actually be semi-retirement because we'll always be doing projects. But I really need to slow our life down for awhile. Too much going on for too long so I need a break. She does too but since she has more energy than me, is loathe to admit it.
More adventures at the trailer park. A tenant disappeared. She just left her entire household behind with no communication to us. Furniture, electronics, even the clothing in her closet. A big mystery. So now we have to move it all out and re-rent the trailer. We get to keep or sell the stuff if she doesn't contact us. People are unpredictable.
Another new tenant just bounced their very first check to us and is one inch from being evicted. The check bounced and the tenant always learns of the bounce before we get notification from the bank, but they never called us. Then when we go to collect, we get the old "the bank made a mistake" story. Hogwash. The tenant has until Friday to come up with the cash or we bounce THEM out of the park. I can understand hard times and we work with people who seem to be trying. But this seems like the tenant pre-planned sticking it to us to buy some time in "free" housing. People.
On a happier note, I'm reading the best marketing book I've ever read. It's also one of the top 50 books I've ever read. Get yourself a copy of The Wizard of Ads by Roy Williams. Great nuts and bolts advice, lots of case studies and tons of inspiration and motivation. I HIGHLY recommend it.
Our Lovell insurance claim is still languishing. Three companies involved. The first company handed me off to the middle company because he was tired of my calls. This middle company is now pushing the final company who actually pays the claims. They are supposed to get an adjuster to call me with a timeframe. It's almost been a year since I filed the claim. This has been a very ugly situation and I figure they owe me the money just for their delays. But I have a feeling this is going to end badly. If so, I will file complaints with the state attorney general, the Better Business Bureau and consider legal action. It's that bad.
The light tours are great publicity but they also build tremendous goodwill. It's fun to see many of our friends show up for a tour and even better to hear them ooh and ahh over the houses we drive by. Add Christmas carols and a little info about the best houses and it's a "Norman Rockwell on wheels" event.
We delivered the awards for the decorating contest yesterday. The grand prize winner cried when we handed her the plaque and $200 check. People love to be recognized and that decorating contest is a great way to do it. Marge & Dick Wilder spring for the award money and Margie designs and constructs the plaques with a photo of each entry. It's a nice partnership.
The Wilders own lots of Real Estate in Cody including the Albertson's Center. They took the risk to buy and develop that property back in the 1960's when nothing was on top of the hill here. People thought they were nuts. We've heard that tune ourselves so feel a kinship to the Wilders and see them as versions of ourselves in 30 years.
Updating EverythingCody.com is getting easier yet the content is getting better and deeper. It's a great little site and worthy of becoming any Cody resident's home page. I still have much to do to make it an income generator and I look forward to doing so over the next week.
It's a sad admission but I am one of those husbands who waits until the last minute to Christmas shop. Which means it is now Christmas Eve and I have not even started. I haven't even thought about it until this moment. Margie & I treat ourselves to what we want throughout the year so we don't need a special day. At least that's my rationalization. It doesn't fly in actual application, however. So here I am starring at her list like a doe in headlights.
Which proves the point that you can't be good at everything. Anything you focus on is actually an exercise in ignoring everything else. And man do I ignore a lot of things! Many times to my own detriment. But I'm no different from anyone else -- I spend my free time on the things I enjoy the most.
Good day at the trailer park yesterday. The tenant who bounced the check evened up so no eviction required. They're not out of the woods yet but hopefully will keep working their way out. Our park manager Tricia also approved a tenant for the vacancy created by the tenant who disappeared. So we're down to two openings and one coming up.
We made the decision to allow dogs in the park. We inherited the no dog policy three years ago when we bought the park and maintained it. But half the world owns a dog and I've gotten tired of rejecting some otherwise good applicants because of the dog rule. We'll be selective but this should greatly help keeping the park full. You can keep up with our vacancy situation at RiversBendMHP.com
I signed up for a free web statistic service and am delighted to see I'm getting traffic from all over the world. Ireland, Germany, Thailand, Singapore and Canada are some of the countries visiting. Mostly USA of course, but fun to see my musings are going worldwide.
I have had a website now for nine years. Time flies. Over the years, I've really generated lots of content and content is king when it comes to search engine rankings. The higher your rankings, the higher your traffic. I have more work to do toward getting impressive traffic counts but it's getting my focus now. Once I officially launch EverythingCody.com traffic should climb dramatically for all my sites.
Thank you very much for reading my postings this past year. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a great holiday season!
We celebrated by taking a spontaneous road trip to check on our Lovell property (taking a new route we'd never traveled before) and driving up to Billings for a new Daytimer calendar and lunch at Red Lobster. We splurged with a "Lotta Colata" without the rum. Two straws please.
Great day of leisure and we discussed many ideas regarding the web site and other possible projects.
Had a nice Christmas with both girls and the grandson here. Margie gave me a guitar and an instruction book. I've been wanting to learn how to play forever. I ought to have it mastered by Friday (ha-ha).
Enjoyed the Avalanche hockey game last night. We started down 3-0 which used to be insurmountable but we rallied within the first period to tie the score. My Avs then went on to win 7-4. Crazy game and a good example of why people enjoy sports -- there's no predicting what will happen some games.
On the other hand, the Vikings lost Sunday and are out of playoff contention. I hope they fire the coach. I'm rooting for Indianapolis and Denver now. If they meet in the same game I'll root for Indy because Denver has won two Super Bowls already.
I found software that Margie needs to change Coral Draw files into .jpg files. This is needed so I can convert her designs into files I can post on the websites that everyone can open. Fortunately the price is reasonable and it will make anything possible for us now. Lots more to learn but with Margie working with me now, this EverythingCody.com site will really start to pop.
I continue to get website visitors from all over the world. Israel, Korea and Norway all stopped by during the past day. Many areas of the USA too.
We were happy to see the big color front page photo in the local newspaper was one of the homes in our decorating contest. Jack & Diane Martin's home was in the photo (as were they). The couple earned our "Christmas Enthusisam Award" because they come outside in Santa suits to wave at our trolley passengers during every tour. They've been doing that for three years! They're a hoot and our passengers love them.
Are you playing it safe? Are you trading your precious time for mere money in a job you hate? Is fear, unawareness and lethargy holding you back from advancing toward your dreams? Congratulations. You're standing right there with 90% of the world.
If you want to step over to the other group of us who ARE creating the life we desire, read Someday Is Here.
Had a good day yesterday. Margie and I have prettied up EverythingCody.com. It looks great and is better organized. I hope to iron out the revenue plans and officially launch the site this week.
We have a prospect applying to purchase a trailer. He has a dog so we're about to allow the first dog into the park. I finally decided to stop rejecting 50% of the world who own dogs as tenants. We'll be selective but to eliminate vacancies we need to expand our universe of potential customers.
We had friends visit us last night after Margie completed a thorough house cleaning, so we're rewarded with awakening to a clean house this morning. We're once again enjoying that rare convergence of time, money & health. We feel rich in every way, which is a great way to start a new year.
The insurance company is promising me progress with my Lovell claim next week. The claim will be one year old on January 10.
All the remodel and repair bills from Rivers Bend and the Lovell office are paid off. That was huge. We also paid all the annual property taxes for all our properties. Now we finally start drawing paychecks from the trailer park after three years of repairs, renovations and upgrades. Passive income streams here we come.
We hope to take a short RV trip this week. Just within our immediate area to explore the Bighorn Mountains. They are so close yet we never get over there. The Bighorns are the reason I moved to this area ten years ago. I had traveled to them twice with my church youth group as a teenager living in Minnesota. I was enraptured and swore I'd live there one day. It took me until age 38 to get here, but I made it. One day after we get our summers back, I want to take Margie backpacking there and retrace the trips I took as a kid.
But for now, a simple drive with a few short exploration hikes from "Camp Winnebago" will suffice.
Good news from the insurance company. It looks like they will cut me a check this week for my Lovell office building water damage claim. I finally reached someone who treated my claim with a sense of urgency and seems to have the power to make a decision. In six days it will be one YEAR since I filed the claim. Based on the questions the claims adjuster asked me, I made the right decision to change insurance agents.
Bad news at the trailer park. We had to issue an eviction yesterday to a couple of tenants under the age of 21 doing the kinds of bad things that wouldn't surprise you kids under 21 do. Which is sad because it makes us less likely to rent to the next young applicants. Every time we do so, we get burned, no matter how good the references.
This time the kids apparently harbored a runaway, held a loud all-night party and had alcohol and marijuana in the house. I owe it to the rest of my tenants to take speedy action when this occurs so we issued the eviction immediately. They have three days to scram.
We are launching EverythingCody.com this week. That requires writing and issuing press releases and making an advertising plan. We're starting with ads in the Cody Chamber newsletter and will build from there. It's exciting and scary at the same time. I have no money at stake so it's not financially scary but I'm losing more privacy. This log has been written for over a year now and I can't remember all the stuff I've written. Over the course of 12 months I've written in many different moods while facing many different situations. I've tried to be honest and I know I have written things when stressed or angry that seemed like a big deal at the moment but weren't later after I recovered my equilibrium. That's the risk of publishing an online journal, but is also what makes it interesting to readers.
Now I'm inviting in many more readers. It's inevitable that some of them might recognize themselves here. All I can say is that I share many of my daily experiences with readers so they can learn the best and worst from my actions. "Learn from the mistakes of others because you don't have time to make all those mistakes yourself."
I haven't picked up the new guitar since receiving it on Christmas. EverythingCody.com has gotten my attention. I'm thinking late afternoon is the best time to fiddle with that.
The annual Rotary Show is getting fired up again. The show is held on the last Friday and Saturday in February this year. It is such a relief to just be a writer and not have to run the writing committee this year. It was very stressful on me the past two years and I got physically sick last year from it. Pushing your vision through others is challenging stuff. This year I don't have to make it happen, just suggest and write some bits. BIG difference.
Margie & I are doing the marketing for the show so I'll get to write the radio ads again, which I enjoy. Mainly because they are fun to produce and once done, you have a permanent, tangible product to show for your efforts. We've won awards in the past so we'd like to keep that trend going.
Margie & I are still toying with an overnight trip to the Bighorns. We'll see.
I have a meeting with members of the Dam's board of directors today regarding our audio tour. Hopefully we'll resolve issues relating to my request for them to buy us out. It's a great product that just isn't being sold well out there which doesn't work for us because we are paid by a revenue sharing agreement. We need to find a solution that works for us all.
We looked in the windows of the famous Occidental Hotel in Buffalo. Sadly it was closed for off-season cleaning while we were there. But we vowed to return and spend the night there. Founded in a tent in 1879, the hotel has housed famous folks like Butch Cassidy, Teddy Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane and General Phillip Sheridan. It reminds us of Cody's Irma Hotel but the Occidental is older, larger and grander, while still displaying all the historic old furnishings, saloon fixtures and barber chairs. The place is like a museum time capsule from the late 1800's, early 1900's.
The weather was great. Scary great, in fact. 60 degrees in January at Buffalo's 4,000 elevation. It was in the 30's and 40's at the 9,000 foot elevations up on the mountain. Not a lot of snow up top either but enough to snowmobile in many places.
We stopped at the US Forest Service office in Buffalo and spoke to Patty for awhile. We bought maps of the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area and the Bighorn Mountain area that identifies the location of all private property up there. The good news about the mountain tops is they are gorgeous. The bad news is now we want a cabin up there.
As you might recall, the reason I live in Wyoming is because I took two backpacking trips to the Bighorns when I was 16 and 17. I vowed to move back to the area and now I can see the Bighorns from my Cody front yard. Our Minnesota church group launched those trips from Buffalo and I finally tracked down where we would have entered the wilderness up there. The road was too icey to follow but we would have driven to Paradise Ranch, spent the night, and then those folks would have been the guides who brought us into the wilderness for five days. I plan on retracing that trip once I get my summers back.
Traveling in the Winnebago was a great way to go. Other than the 6 miles-per-gallon, it was perfect. It allowed us to bring the dogs and cat in addition to it being a rolling house. Nice to have a restroom, kitchen and bed wherever you go. I always wanted a Winnebago Brave when I was a kid and I have that now too.
Beware of childhood -- it plants far too many expensive dreams that you spend the rest of your life chasing.
Margie & I listed our goals for the year during the trip and we tend to achieve whatever we chase. If so, that bodes well for another good 2006. If you don't make a plan, you never get to where you want to be. You'll get somewhere though -- it just won't be as pleasant.
Good news at the trailer park. We have apparently sold a trailer and have good prospects for a cabin rental. Despite the ups and downs there, the park is a great investment and I'm delighted we took the actions and risk to buy it. The tenants are lots better off too. Some notice our efforts, some don't. That's just human nature. We have more work to do out there but we've made fantastic progress. Yesterday was our third anniversary of making that purchase.
The dam audio tour meeting last Wednesday was less than satisfying but we might at least have found a common solution. It must be presented to the board first so we'll wait and see. In a nutshell, they are not fulfilling a key stipulation in our contract and it has kept tour rentals far below potential. It's frustrating because I like the people personally but they have been a disaster as business partners. Their contract violation is so open, flagrant and consistent that only my benevolence prevents a lawsuit they would surely lose. I choose instead to continue working with them as best I can to find a solution. My energy is best directed toward positive actions. It just makes me realize that the ability to see and reach for potential is a rare commodity. Never assume your business partner will see things the same way you do. Better yet, never put yourself in a position where you can't directly control how your project is being operated.
I share things like this so you can see that you never stop learning. It's not all peaches & cream for anyone on earth, let alone an entrepreneur. But fortunately, if you're flexible and resolute, the good results far out weigh the bad results and even erase the occassional energy-sapping challenges. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
But I will admit that it's situations like this that make that cabin in the Bighorns look far more attractive.
We've gone public with EverythingCody.com. Ran an ad in the chamber newsletter and we're on the radio talking it up tomorrow. All positive reactions except for one notable exception. Let's just say there are small minds and large minds. If you go public with anything, you attract both.
I spent yesterday doing administrative tasks while watching football playoffs. Amazing how much of that is required to just maintain our little empire. Administrative tasks, not watching football. Darn it.
Margie finished the photo page section of our annual newsletter and believe it or not, it will be in the mail tomorrow. We've sent one at year end since 1997 but missed last year. Some people actually complained. But then those who enjoyed missing it never reported their glee. But we still write and send the thing anyway.
The Internet is an interesting beast. I've been studying statistical reports based on general visitor activity and it is fascinating where people come from, what keywords they're looking for and what pages they open. Within the past week I've had visitors from China, Ireland, Wales, Poland, Latvia, Australia, South Africa, India and Canada. My most popular pages have been my trailer park, domain names and customer service book. EverythingCody.com is gaining rapidly. Fun to watch and fun to tweak. There is so much more to learn but it's nice to at least have a working knowledge of how to impact traffic.
We stopped for lunch at the Painter Outpost restaurant (The Clark's Fork & Spoon) in Crandall and had a great meal served by owners Richard and Carol. They keep the place open year-round despite the much slower winter traffic, which is a frustratingly well-kept secret to people in Cody. So I'm helping to spread the word that it makes a great day-trip getaway for Cody people. For you out-of-towners, the Painter Outpost is on the Chief Joseph Highway, the road Charles Kuralt called the most scenic highway in America. Six miles down the road is the second most scenic highway in America, the Beartooth Highway. We highly recommend these drives to trolley passengers all the time.
We ended up talking shop with Richard & Carol for a couple hours and met the Lundvalls who also stopped by from their home down the road in Sunlight Basin. Wayne Lundvall founded Wayne's Boot Shop here in Cody. His son Kevin runs the business now and we have a good reciprocal relationship with us sending folks down for boots and hats and him sending folks to our trolley tour. In a small town you really need to work together.
Anyway, we were just driving neighborhoods out there watching for For Sale signs and learning the lay of the land. Lots of Cody people own cabins and homes in that area and we saw why. We knew the scenery was spectacular, but sadly, you forget when you're back working in the city. We got a real memory jog yesterday and feel blessed to live within 45 minutes of the Chief Joseph. We're a long way from buying anything out there but our mode of operation is to plant a dream in our heads and then start marching toward it in small little steps over time. Darn if we don't usually find interesting and creative ways to turn it into reality. What you focus on expands. Thoughts are things. You become what you think about. All that stuff really does work for us, but it still takes longer than we'd like. But then the journey is pretty fun too. And darn if we don't usually pick up a few new skills along the way that can be applied to the next, larger dream.
We added a great addition to EverythingCody.com. We now have a link to the KODI radio newscasts. By recording the news in an audio file and linking them on our website, our visitors can now access the daily radio news anytime they want. This is a great benefit for everyone involved.
Our appearance on KODI's "Party Line" show to talk about the website gave it a nice traffic boost. Margie & I had a good time talking about one of our own causes for a change. She's on that show almost every month to talk up one community cause or another.
We also added city council agendas and meeting minutes to EverythingCody.com and linked them on our Cody Government page. We're still working on the county.
Our site is getting more and more traffic and a local business called us yesterday and asked to advertise on the site. If you build it, they will come.
We rented that cabin yesterday and sold that trailer the day before so have just two vacancies at the trailer park.
Our daughter got safely home from her trip to Great Britain. We know it greatly expanded her world and will be remembered forever. She phoned from her dorm back in Colorado with a million stories. Now she wants to take us to Scotland. Maybe if we hold out until she finishes college and gets rich, we can cop a couple free tickets. :)
And that's a good reminder. We don't see things as THEY are, we see things as WE are. If you want a better world, create a better inner you. Everything outside of you is merely the universe's way of saying, "Here is YOU back."
The book shared a few classic secrets of what it takes to become a millionaire. The biggest secrets involved how to change your own self-image. Once you increase your own self-worth, material assets multiply to match. You can change what you think in an instant, so you can start the journey of becoming a millionaire in an instant.
And that is the beauty of reading books. Everything you want to know or become has been captured in a book somewhere. Those who read have a huge advantage over those who don't. The heck with credit cards. A library card is your passport to a happy and successful life. What's in your wallet?
Speaking of credit cards, I've been listening to the Dave Ramsey Radio Show lately and am very impressed. Our local talk radio station (KODI 1400 AM) airs it at 1 pm - 4 pm right after Rush Limbaugh, who I also enjoy. If you haven't ever heard of Dave, I recommend a visit to his website for some enlightening advice on how to get out of debt. He calls living in debt "slavery" because you're a slave to your debtor. He calls living debt-free Financial Peace of Mind.
I guess that's why I chase income and assets. I want peace of mind and I want freedom. The peace of mind can be learned with great effort no matter what your external situation, but the freedom to spend your time as you like, with the comforts and resources you want, requires money. So work on the internal at the same time you're working on the external. You'll see both improve.
Rotary projects got some of my time this weekend. I helped mulch Christmas trees on Saturday and helped staff a racquetball tournament Sunday. The experience revealed there is lots more joke material about mulching and chippers than there is about sweaty guys and rubber balls.
I invested too much time watching the football playoffs this weekend. Denver won which was good but Indianapolis lost which I thought was bad. But it's good for the Broncos because they get to play a lesser team, at home. But I think Indy should have been in there. But they didn't play to their skill level and paid the price. I think any honest sports fan just wants to see every team play to its best ability and then let the chips fall where they may. Nothing is more disappointing than watching a good team play badly when it really matters.
Margie had a wonderful time during her Jackson road trip with two other girlfriends. Their reservation got messed up so they were upgraded to a large suite with picture windows facing the Grand Teton range. When they got home, one of the ladies learned her husband had won a Harley Davidson motorcycle at his Snap-On convention. Nice to see deserving people win something valuable.
This weekend I also read a short book about Bomber Mountain in the Bighorn Mountains. A U.S. B-17F bomber crashed there in 1943, killing the entire crew of ten men. The crash site is so remote that most of the wreckage is still there. Hikers are free to go explore the site but it takes a 10 to 15 mile hike to get there. I was within a mile of that site backpacking as a teenager but didn't realize its importance and went fishing on the day the group leaders took a trip there. So now that is on my life to-do list too.
The book was written as a high school paper and then expanded from there. The guy who wrote it promises a sequel as his research advances. I heard he is almost done.
I felt an affinity for the author because I know how trying to solve an unexplained mystery can suck you in. The same thing happened to me with the JFK assassination. I've been hot and cold on that topic for 35 years. I have file drawers and bookshelves full of material and I know if I open one thing that'll be the end of everything else I'm doing. It's that compelling to me. But I've solved the crime to my satisfaction which takes the edge off. But I'll never be able to prove it to anyone else. Which puts the edge back on. So me and that research are engaging in an unadmitted detente. I don't look at IT, and IT doesn't rip my attention from my other priorities.
The day started well with a chamber marketing committee meeting. We elected a new president so I was able to relenquish leadership there after two years. Lee from the museum took over so we're in good hands.
I then sprinted with a Rotary buddy to the Party Line radio show to promote the upcoming Rotary Show. That went very well and the four of us Rotarians and Thom, the host, had a great time.
Then I ran to a meeting with reps from the dam board to iron out our buy-out discussions. I was surprised to learn they were ready to buy me out right then and we had a good negotiation. Neither of us are thrilled with the final result but both parties moved a lot from our original positions and it's an agreement we both can live with. Best of all I think we'll be able to move on with no hard feelings. Now it's up to the full board to approve the deal.
Then I paid chamber admission dues for two more companies we own so they can be promoted through the chamber. EverythingCody.com and Rivers Bend Mobile Home Park.
We're getting lots of action at the trailer park now with only one vacant cabin. But we received 30 days notice of moving from a trailer tenant yesterday and have a missing tenant who may have abandoned her trailer. But we have two candidates who are eager to buy trailers so this may work out well for us all.
I was so keyed up after that dam meeting I had to take a hour break to play pool in our basement office and clear my mind. The tough thing about running so many businesses is it is very hard to find peace of mind. I can get there but it's getting harder all the time.
The big screw-up of our day was that we missed a trolley charter. It was a total disaster because the group was waiting and we never showed up. Margie had the event scheduled for tonight, not last night. Worse yet, the organizer is a friend of ours. We were out running errands and gauging the level of darkness because the charter involved two tours after sunrise. We'd never given a tour in the dark so came home to get our scripts to practice (we forget the tour after a few weeks off) and the phone was ringing when we walked in. Where are you?
Margie was physically sick over it because she works the charter book and made the arrangements. It was too late to recover so the organizer accepted the apology and improvised other plans. Margie sent her an apology note and a standing offer for a free tour for any future group the organizer wants to send. Not nearly good enough for such a disaster but there it is. Things happen and the universe has a way of reminding you that no matter how good you think you are, you're still capable of screwing-up royally. Just like everyone else. Message received.
I've put the word out to my Realtor in Lovell that I'm selling my building there. One of my tenants says he wants to buy it within a couple months. I have a balloon mortgage due in April to the woman I bought it from so want to sell it by then. If that falls through, I'll just refinance and keep renting while I search for another buyer. I'd prefer to apply my money there to my own empire here in Cody.
So far with just a few emails I've secured two advertisers for EverythingCody.com. I think I'll be able to pretty easily fill the few available spots I have left.
Margie made another ad sale for the trolley yesterday. We now have just one outside panel left and she'll be working on that and the remaining inside and slide-show ads during the next few days. She also booked a couple more groups for charters yesterday morning so the trolley phone is starting to ring too.
Now it's my job to get our new trolley website updated. We have a new, snappier design ready without frames that needs filling with content. Some we already have but lots of it will need to be created from scratch. That's my job, among many.
Today a friend is coming over with his girl to play pinochle. We haven't played in forever so will have to re-learn the game.
Closed the sale on two ads for EverythingCody.com yesterday. Also set up about five pages on the new trolley website. The new site looks soooo much better than the old. Lots more work to go there but it is worth it. You can't see it until it's finished and we go "live." The old site stays active as I complete the new one. Margie booked another charter yesterday so the phones are starting to ring. Yesterday was a high traffic day on the trolley website too.
Things are looking good at the trailer park too. Many prospects are calling, looking and taking rental applications. It's time to bill again there so I have to write the newsletter and the rate increase letter. We consider rent increases each year in January and this year will be our smallest annual increase yet. We know increases are hardships for many tenants so we try to minimize them but have to balance that with the need to keep funding the remaining improvements.
The big project hanging over us there is replacing the septic system. I have an engineer working on a plan right now. His latest update seems to have good news. It appears it will be possible to install a low maintenance system on the present site. He's still working on the calculations and cost estimates. He's installing a water test pit this week to determine how much treatment we'll need from the new system. It's a big deal but will give us as long term solution when done.
I'm pretty far behind schedule on Rotary Show writing so have to knuckle down this weekend and get some work completed. Lots of good ideas, just have to get them on paper and executed.
Had a good time with friends last night who came over for dinner and pinochle. We all re-learned the game and Margie & I won in a close game.
Today we complete the paperwork that goes out with the trailer park billing tomorrow. Margie lays out the newsletter I wrote and while that happens I'm personalizing the rate increase letters. Tricia, our manager, reads the utility meters and calculates and prints the actual bills. It's a big job that could be simplified but we want it done a certain way.
I also need to bill a couple trolley advertisers and work some more on the new trolley website. And then write a few bits for Rotary. All before the Broncos-Steelers game which is the main event of my day.
I'm rooting for the Broncos all the way now. They are 500 miles away but are located in our closest major sports city so we root for all the major Denver teams. Except the Denver Nuggets because I don't follow the NBA. College either, I was never a basketball fan.
The Colorado Avalanche (hockey) lost to Detroit yesterday but won eight in a row before losing the last two games. They are flirting with first place in their division but can't seem to lock it in, let alone pull away. Three other teams are right with them so anything can happen in the last 30 games.
EverythingCody.com has a nice mix of local, regional and national news today. It doesn't always happen that way. Some days are newsier than others. Today was just right. And the big local story occurred on a Sunday when our local newspaper doesn't publish, and our local radio station isn't doing local newscasts, so it drives home the point that we are providing a needed service. Everyone has their niche and we're nicely positioned in ours.
The Rotary writing is coming along and as has happened the past 54 years, we'll get a workable script and complete another show. We held the writing committee meeting at our house last night and had a fun group.
The trailer park is getting lots of lookers but no takers. Only two vacancies and with all the calls and showings, it feels like they should go fast.
We have a trolley charter tonight moving a group of Dude Ranchers around during their convention. They've used us prior years and are a good group. They've booked us tonight and tomorrow night. We'll be heading down to the trolley barn shortly to make sure the trolley is ready for guests. The truth is there are still Christmas decorations on the thing that need to be removed.
I was asked by an ad agency for a bid to write a group of Entrepreneur of the Year Award nominations. I've written many for this agency in the past and a high percentage have gone on to become finalists or winners. Price is always a consideration though for thier clients and I don't work cheap so we'll see what happens. I returned the bid so it's back in their court. My justification for my high rates is that I always deliver more value than I charge so I'm an investment that earns profit.
Not only does that sound good but it's the truth. I have over 70 testimonials from clients and editors heralding my work.
I've received the third lesson of my copywriting course. I completed the first two. Haven't opened the third yet. I have to complete the new trolley website and sell the rest of my advertising space on EverythingCody.com first. The truth is I have enough work to stay busy for 30 years if I never dream up another idea. Fat chance of that happening. I was just at our Rotary lunch meeting and had a conversation with a woman who is a wonderful singer and performs in a duet group. I shared two ideas that popped in my head how she could make customized CDs for various events, holidays and childrens bedtime stories. She seemed amazed and eagerly wrote down the ideas. That's just the way my mind works.
I don't take credit for it. I just have a certainty that an idea will pop in and it does. It works the same way with my writing -- whether it's comedy, business or inspirational. I have a theory of where it comes from and how anyone can tap in to this source. Take a look at Portals to God and see if you don't agree.
Part of the fun of this site is all the research I'm exposed to. I find the coolest and funniest and most interesting things online while searching for new content. The Internet is the closest thing man has to the Universal Mind. Just about anything is posted online now. This is an amazing time to be alive.
We de-decorated the trolley yesterday and performed the first half of a charter for the Dude Ranchers Association. Fun folks. It felt good to be back on the trolley and sharing a little history. The drive last night was only 8 blocks so it was very little history. But it still felt good to be back in the saddle.
In the "It's-a-Small-World Department", I met Bob Bell, the owner/publisher of True West magazine last night. Turns out he's in Cody with the association and he introduced himself. Nice fellow. We had exchanged emails and comments about our "tell-all" web blogs. Turns out we've both had near-death publishing experiences but are both doing well now. I admire anyone who follows their entrepreneurial visions into challenging projects and Bob successfully tackled a real nasty one with his magazine turnaround.
Bob's magazine just started rating the best western towns across the USA and Cody came in second to Sheridan, Wyoming this year. Sheridan is a fine western town so we're in good company. Or I could say Cody is a spectacular western town so Sheridan is in good company with us. I figure the longer Bob stays in Cody the more he'll be impressed and remember us next year. But being ranked as the number two western town in America is pretty darn good though. It's a big country.
Ten years ago, still living in Florida, we were deciding where to move out west. After studying atlases and topography maps and population totals and chamber materials, we'd settled on moving to Sheridan, Wyoming, site unseen. Then we flew out for a scouting trip and Sheridan just didn't feel right to us. So we spoke to locals and asked lots of questions and expanded our scouting trip to other towns. Cody won. It's just big enough, but still small enough. Very western, very friendly, very low taxes. Lots of attractions, wildlife, recreation and of course, just 52 miles from Yellowstone National Park. We haven't regretted our decision once.
But I realize that even Bill Gates probably has to do stuff he doesn't want to do. So I guess the best I can do is to minimize it and feel better about it due to a boatload of money in the bank. I keep telling myself that day will arrive.
I'm getting lots of visitors to my Domain Name website. I read that Annuity.com just sold for $600,000. That increases the value of my EverythingStocks, Bonds, MutualFunds and Life Insurance.com. I really think the domain names will become our largest retirement account. But I'm still hedging my bets with the more traditional real estate and business investments.
Our credit card reader was on the fritz and I called tech support. The machine is getting a new download now. Just another bump in the entrepreneur's road. I have three charges from trolley tour sales to ring up. I love credit card sales because the money hits your account that night. It's fast and convenient.
I'm getting bids from a lower priced credit card processor that offers free equipment. If it works out I'll share the info here.
My web host had a problem with a server Saturday and EverythingCody.com was down about 8 hours. Luckily Saturday is the slowest visitor day. I've been with that host ten years without major problems so I'm hoping it was a one-time deal. As more people depend on my site, uptime becomes extremely important.
This is a major Rotary writing week. Radio commercials and a couple skits are due by Wednesday. Also lots of bill paying and administrative work. And a water test today at the trailer park. And continuing the trolley website re-build. The list is long. But... it still beats having to climb into a shirt and tie and go to a (shudder) job.
A couple of updates. Margie sold that last outside ad on the trolley and I sold another ad on EverythingCody.com. The trailer park still has two vacancies. No final word from the Dam Board yet on the buy-out agreement.
Yesterday was all Rotary writing all day. It's getting to be crunch time where the final script is assembled. Most of the skits and bits are finished but lots of transition, smoothing and casting to complete. A few of us get together again this weekend to turn the pieces into a script.
Radio commercials for the show are basically written. We need to produce them now. Another big job because it involves casting club members and getting them all to the radio station at the same time.
I linked this blog on the front page of EverythingCody.com and am a little leery of doing that. But blogs keep readers coming back and I want to keep building traffic there. To be interesting you have to share lots of personal stuff and with over a year of writing this thing, I can't remember everything I've written. No time to read it all to see if any sanitation is required. So you're getting it just the way I wrote it.
Germany, Holland, India, England and Australia visited my websites in the past couple days. My customer service materials are getting an increase in visitors. I must have moved up in the search engines. I really need to start an e-newsletter to capture customers for an on-going dialog. So many projects, so little time.
Margie and I read "The Richest Man in Babylon" during the past couple days. We highly recommend it as great advice on how to handle your financial affairs. We also signed up for a 13 week class on money management using the Dave Ramsey materials. He's on KODI radio every afternoon here in Cody from 1-4 pm and I highly recommend him too. Turns out a church here is giving his class starting on February 12. Dave advocates getting totally debt free and that's what we want so off we'll go to learn every way to do that quickly.
I'm not excited about either team but tend to root for the underdog so I'm hoping Seattle comes through. Pittsburgh has won enough in the past. But Pittsburgh sure earned their favored position in today's game by beating three better teams on the road.
If you love Super Bowl ads like I do, check out the last five years best ads here.
It looks like we rented a cabin at the trailer park which would drop us to one vacancy out of 32. We also rented a warehouse at our Pioneer Complex and have a good prospect for a second warehouse there too. Nothing new to report about our Lovell building. Still waiting for my renter there to commit to buying. He says he wants it but must clear a divorce first.
The new trolley website is 75% completed. Should be up and running next week for sure. It looks great and provides far more content than the old one. It will not only sell more tickets, it will attract more people to Cody and our other attractions.
The Rotary writing is in a short lull. We're producing the radio commercials Tuesday morning. I need to create the newspaper ads tomorrow.
More accounting paperwork is piling up so I need to spend a couple hours on that. Tomorrow.
I'm off for party prep. May the best team win!
Yesterday I picked up some unsolicited writing assignments from the Irma Hotel marketing person. She also owns the gift shop there and her husband owns a furniture making business so I have multiple assignments for three different businesses. Relationships create opportunities. She helped us get established with the Irma with our trolley business and our trolley business has brought lots of customers to her gift shop and the Irma. Everyone wins.
The new trolley website is now about 85% complete. We hope to launch it tomorrow. It looks fabulous and has so much more content and a zillion photos.
Our trailer park did rent that cabin so we are down to one trailer vacancy there. Changing the policy to accept dogs was a big help and so far no problems.
We also secured a new renter for 18 months at one of our warehouses. Our property manager Tricia is doing a great job.
Visitor counts at EverythingCody.com are averaging 42% more per day in February than our January daily average. I'm proud of our content there and we are providing a great service to visitors. The downside is that I keep thinking of all the people who are still on dial-up Internet connections. My site -- like every other website out there -- really needs a high speed connection to take advantage of all the cool features and audio/video clips. Dial-up folks really miss out and I bet most have no idea of what they're missing.
Rotary writing is also stacked up. I have some smoothing to do in the first half the script. I'm not in charge of it this year but I'm the guy who had been doing it the past two years so need to help with it. The good news is the ad team sold over $23,000 in ads for the show and the silent auction collected about $5K in merchandise to auction. Add in ticket sales and donations and we have a shot at exceeding $30K. There are expenses to back out but it's still going to be a record fundraiser.
We received the Rotary radio commercials and all are good except one that needs a few adjustments. I'll post them here once they are finalized. We poached one we made last year and changed the dates to make it easier on ourselves.
Had a meeting with a committee at the chamber to create rack cards for Cody. We're making a summer and winter version. Lots of good input and ideas and amazingly, we had a concensus as to approach, size and distribution.
Our grandson spent two nights in the hospital this past weekend due to some severe stomach flu. He's fine again and he was over last night for a few hours. We get him again tonight for awhile.
I've been keeping an eye on Steve Fossett's attempt at the longest flight in history. Check out his Tracking Website to see where he is and what's happening. As I type, he's one day into the 3.5 day flight and is traveling 297 knots per hour and is located 47,765 feet over India. As I finished typing that I see he's making a heading change and increasing speed and altitude. I love the Internet.
She found me on the Internet and tossed an email my way. So we're in that process of catching up on nearly three decades via email. So much to say and so much time has gone by but it truly does seem like it was only yesterday. Isn't that what old geezers say? So I was mentally reviewing my life a bit yesterday, trying to look at it through her eyes. And it does look like I've been involved in lots of fun and interesting things. I'm glad with the way I've lived my life and happy I took some risks which seemed big back then, but were actually small from today's perspective. I wish I'd avoided a few painful chapters along the way but they make me appreciate what and where I am now. So it's all good, even when it's bad. And I'm just one life. Everyone has memorable, emotional stories and rewarding and heart-wrenching experiences oozing within them. It's a miraculous and terrible world at the same time. Everyone is a hero just from going through life.
So anyway, I'm delighted to be back in touch with her and I hope she feels the same way. Any other old friends reading this are more than welcome to send a reconnection across the years too. You know who you are :)
Margie & I spent three hours with a couple other Rotarians casting the script last night. It's crunch time. The smoothing of the script fell in my lap. Having a talent is a curse sometimes. You're happy for the opportunity and the ability but resent the having to do more than you like. But I'll get through it. And so will the club. Everything comes and goes so it will soon be February 26. Next year at this time I'm arranging a trip just to take a year off from the show!
The Rotary radio commercials are finished and I promised to post them here.
Wizard of Oz Joe Kellerby & Lisa Velker
Hogan's Heros Brad Constantine & Mike Becker
Nothing Stores Mike Johnson & Lisa Velker
Yellowstone Squares Howard Thompson
Cops Mike Muirhead & Lisa Velker (adapted from last year)
New trolley website is at 95%. Didn't get it launched yesterday. Hope to get it up today. We'll finish but we're at the mercy of our web hosts to make it live. Likely tonight. If you can't wait, you can see what we have so far at CodyTrolleyTours.com. Tell me what you think.
It's 10 degrees outside -- the coldest temp in over a month. This winter has been absolutely tropical, which is fine by me. Forecast calls for warming so we'll be right back to the new "normal" again. We almost hit 70 a couple days ago. In February! That's just weird. I hope we're not like the people on the Titanic enjoying dessert before the iceberg collision. But if so, it's a great way to go!
The Cody Gunfighters invited Margie & I to a thank-you dinner for sponsors last night at the Irma Hotel and that was fun. Through our rent-a-chair program and direct payment, we channeled about $5,000 their way last summer. The Irma has a great prime rib buffet.
Tomorrow I have an interview with a furniture maker to collect info to write a newspaper article and sales letter for him. Should be interesting. I have another interview and newspaper article the next day for a gift shop. No shortage of work here.
We also plan to do some guerilla marketing for EverythingCody.com by delivering flyers to businesses promoting the site. I figure we can get the message to more than a thousand people with a couple hours of strategic flier deliveries at schools and the largest employers. Low cost, high impact. That's the marketing we prefer. I'm getting good reviews but need to keep building traffic. I can see I'll be needing a laptop soon. I'll want to make presentations at club meetings and I'll need a portable computer to update the website when I travel.
Speaking of presentations, we have a Career Day talk at the high school on Feb 15 about being entrepreneurs. We enjoy presenting these types of talks and wish we had been given this kind of info when we were kids. The two big things they don't teach in school are how to create wealth/freedom and how to manage/control your thoughts for happy and successful moments, days, weeks and lives.
Yesterday we spoke to a dozen kids at Career Day about being an entrepreneur. A few seemed like they got something out of it. Hopefully more but it's hard to tell. I guess if you influence one you're doing good.
Basically we spoke about the two things that determine the quality of our lives -- How to make money and how to think. Sadly, neither are taught much in our schools. We recommended several excellent books.
For wealth creation we spoke about creating multiple income streams by starting businesses, buying real estate and creating websites. We shared examples of how we were able to get started with virtually no money. We also talked about the three ways to gain talents that earn you money.
1. Pay tens of thousands for a college education.
2. Self-teach yourself through research online and at the library.
3. Gain employment in the industry you're interested in and have them pay YOU to learn.
We managed to find success by using #2 and #3 very heavily.
As for learning how to think, we merely pointed out that every thought you dwell on is a choice. And you'll feel as good or bad as the thought you dwell upon. So learning to mentally stand back and watch the thoughts that enter your head and consciously decide which you embrace and which you let pass by, determines the quality of how you feel. How you feel determines how you act. How you act determines the results you achieve and those results determine the quality of your life.
But we really chase money and careers and experiences to feel good. That's a lot of work for a feeling. The above description shows that you have the power to feel good no matter what is happening in the outside world around you. Without having to work years to acquire a dream. Now THAT'S power.
Most adults go through their days unaware of this ability to choose their thoughts and feelings so I'm sure it was over the heads of most kids. But we planted the seed. So maybe it will grow. And we recommended some books that could nicely fertilize that seed.
I completed an article Tuesday for Estes Woodworks, a company that creates amazing custom cabinets and furniture for prices no more than you'd pay at the furniture store or lumberyard. We got to tour the owner's shop out on the Southfork and he has heirloom quality stuff. And a great little homestead on 7 acres. The article will go in the Cody Enterprise Progress Edition. The person who hired me loved the article so that's a relief. This is only the second piece I've written for her so am still learning what she likes. She's given me another similar assignment for the Col. Cody's Gift Emporium that is due today. And a sales letter for the furniture company that is due soon.
Because of all my own projects I haven't written articles for others in awhile and I think the time off actually made me a better writer. That and about a thousand other writing assignments I gave myself.
Lesson three in my copywriting course is still sitting next to me unopened. No time to get to it yet. But I'll be able to use some new techniques I've learned in that sales letter assignment.
The new trolley website is now live. It's 99.5% done. We still need to create a couple maps. That was a huge project and I'm very happy with the results.
We started the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class last Sunday. This is going to be very good. He teaches you how to focus on becoming debt free, quickly. Without debt, your income is freed to pour into the investments that make you rich. And provide financial peace. In our case, the job is bigger with our business debt. But business debt is considered "good debt" if it makes you money. However, no debt, is still much better than good debt. So we're learning new ways to eliminate it quickly. And speed our retirement.
On Valentine's Day we were invited to the McDonald's Re-Grand Opening. Jerry the owner, remodeled his store and it came out great. Margie & I met at McDonald's back in 1977, so it was fun to give her a smooch in a McDonald's lobby nearly 30 years later. And she got a free Egg McMuffin. I really know how to sweep a lady off her feet.
We went to Yellowstone yesterday with two friends. It was 38 below zero at the Fishing Bridge warming hut we stopped at. We took a snowcoach service. The park was spectacular -- at least it was a clear, sunny day. I think it warmed up to about 30 above by the end of the day. What a big temperature difference!
We saw buffalo, elk, deer, coyotes and trumpeter swans. Got some good photos for the website.
We had never taken a snowcoach before. This one was just a 15 passenger van with the wheels removed and special triangular tracks installed where the wheels used to go. There were 11 people plus the driver so we were really packed in there with all our winter clothes and coolers for the day. We were surprised there was no commentary shared by the driver -- it was a pure taxi service. Missed opportunity as it could have been much more. However, it was still a good day because of where we traveled.
We went to my favorite place in the entire park -- The Lower Falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The mist from the water landing after a 308 foot drop froze into a cone of snow that was almost as tall as the waterfall itself. So you couldn't see the falls, just the heavy mist and the giant snow cone. Still spectacular. Click here for pictures.
We traveled to the other side of the rim with a different view of the falls and passed the restrooms there. I was reminded of a fun story shared by a local guide who took us in the park one spring.
This guide has to know where the best restrooms are for his guests so he's always up to speed on restroom conditions. I use the term "restrooms" graciously because in Yellowstone, once you're away from the civilized outposts, there are nothing but vault toilets -- a square building over a big hole in the ground.
Well our guide complained to the park leaders that this one restroom -- which actually WAS a flushing one with running water -- never had hand towels. He'd complained several times but the situation never improved.
So here comes President Clinton for a Yellowstone visit. His helicopter is circling the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and he's looking at the falls, suddenly, the helicopter starts approaching the west rim for a landing and darn if it doesn't keep coming in and lands right in the parking area near this restroom. With the park superintendant on board as tour guide, the President of the United States steps outside to use the restroom our guide had complained about. A couple minutes later, the restroom door opens, and out steps the president shaking his wet hands, telling the park superintendent the restroom needs paper towels. Ha!
A second good Clinton visit story told to us by someone else involved the Old Faithful Inn -- the giant log cabin hotel that was built in 1904 next to the Old Faithful Geyser which is basically the symbol of Yellowstone.
The secret service was doing a sweep of the area before the president's visit and were concerned with the security of the highest point around Old Faithful -- the roof of the Old Faithful Inn. So the agents climb up on the roof to make sure it's secure. They take the flag ball off the flag pole -- the highest point in the area -- to make sure there are no dangerous devices inside. They find a note that says, "It's 20 degrees below zero, we're out of whiskey, this job stinks!" It's dated 1904 and was written by the original construction workers! They left a little time capsule for the rest of us.
We've shared this story with the Irma Hotel folks because that place was built in 1902 and they have a flag ball too! No word if anyone has climbed up to check. I guess we'll have to wait for a presidential visit. Fortunately, the Irma restroom usually has towels.
Our daughter his home from college for the weekend. She just needed a quick trip home for a break. She goes back today.
The frigid temps took their toll at the trailer park. Our maintenance man was out all day yesterday unfreezing pipes. Once it hits -20 and then stays below zero for a couple days, the underbellies of many trailers and even heat tapes are about past their limits. My park manager left a message telling me they were on top of it but 5 or 6 dwellings had frozen pipes. It starts to warm today though, so life will get better. All in all, we've been fortunate with a very mild winter. In fact, two weeks ago the thermometer over our front steps nearly hit 70. That's a big temp difference in a short time. Weird weather!
I completed that article for the Emporium a couple days ago as promised and the client said she loved it. I work on a sales letter for her on Monday.
Today we're going bowling with friends (it's been forever!) and then have another finance class tonight. Next week is shot with Rotary reheasals every night and the show performances and cast parties. Come next Sunday we'll be ready for a nice break.
We've rehearsed the show every night this week and we're mostly ready. I'm in two skits so not too much stage time which is fine with me. This year is far less stressful because my work is done and I don't have to direct and I'm not in charge of anything. I'm still a bit sick but nothing like the past two years. Something about stress and sickness going together.
The show has many, many really funny parts and a few dead spots that can't be changed at this late date. Although cast members always wander off the script here and there. But all-in-all, if people perform, it will be a great show.
The show looks to gross over $30K this year. After expenses we'll land in the $20's somewhere. Most of this money is donated to local causes and some goes international where Rotarians are close to eradicating polio worldwide. We buy millions of doses of vacines and organize distribution around the world. If people would just stop moving around for a day we could wipe out the last few areas. But we're close.
I finished the sales letter assignment and the client was happy so I'm happy. Having assignments during show week wasn't the smartest plan on my part but they are behind me now.
There is a magical moment in the writer's life when an assignment is shipped off. All the pressure to perform vanishes and you instantly go from the owing the client work, to the client owing you money. That's a great change that occurs in an instant.
We never got to bowl last Sunday. Margie & I were both ill so had to cancel. We slept all afternoon and felt good enough to make it to our finance class Sunday night. Lots more homework but we're enjoying it.
Jessica got back to college OK. She left Sunday and drove the 450 miles.
These night rehearsals have me whipped. I'm off to take a nap (because I can!) and have a relaxing day on my terms until showtime.
Tonight all the pressure is off because we got through last night so have a better comfort level. It's amazing all the work that goes into a two night performance. Glad we did it, glad it's nearly over.
I celebrated by getting a banana split at Dairy Queen this afternoon.
I got word on Thursday that the Buffalo Bill Dam Board approved our buy-out deal so that should get tied up this next week. That's one more thing off our to-do list and our plate.
I'm putting our Lovell office building up for sale through my Realtor there. She'll get the listing and start the advertising. The renter in there that said he wanted it has not committed so I'm moving on. If he steps forward, fine. If not, my toes are still tapping. The beauty of that property is that the current renters generate enough income to pay the mortgage and all expenses and kick off extra positive cash. So whoever buys the thing basically steps into a "free" building.
Don Knotts died last night. Barney Fife. One of my favorite characters of all time. I still watch Andy Griffith and am amazed at Knott's talent in those shows. It's enduring, clean comedy, expertly performed. From what I've read, Don lived a good life. Thanks for the memories Don, and the tremendous body of work you left behind for us to watch over and over again.
The Saturday night show crowd was much bigger and laughed much harder. Made the last night fun.
It is always interesting to see which Rotarians go above and beyond and which disappoint. People are people and some decide that their real life will get their attention and others suck it up and do what they can to make the show great. It takes a giant amount of work by dozens of people to pull the thing off. I was delighted to see a couple folks really step forward this year with great costumes and attention to acting their parts. These folks will get much bigger roles next year. So the show was successful again and it looks like we fell just short of grossing $30,000 this year. After expenses I bet we land in the $25K range.
After the Saturday night show we had the annual show party and awards were given out to all the committee leaders and top performers. Stuff I wrote won "Top Joke," (Grandma: Aren't you going to frisk me? Me: Not for $12.50 I'm not!) "Top Sight Gag" (VP Cheney Hunting) and "Top Skit" (Titanic). These were all selected by the membership so it's nice to have your work appreciated.
My favorite part of the show was the TV News parody I wrote. Two of us climb into a giant TV and deliver fake, but funny Cody news. You have to live here to get all the jokes, but here is the KOLD News Skit. What I like about this skit is that I have total control. The gal in the box with me did a perfect job of delivering her lines and of course I can control how I deliver my lines. Everything else I write has to rely on others performing and some do great, some not so great, so we rarely match my vision for the scene. The TV News went off exactly how I wanted it, which became my little oasis within chaos. We keep joking that we will film the entire show so we can make it perfect and then on the night of the performance, just hit "play" and relax.
Margie did some quick math and determined that the one week of the show rehearsals and performances and parties adds up to more social time than the entire rest of the year's weekly lunch meetings. So we do as much "friend-raising" as we do fundraising. And it's true. Many of our best friends are the ones who went through the storms of creating the show with us.
So this week is wide open for our own projects. And we have plenty of them.
We attended the third financial class last night. Part of the homework was to create a cash flow budget. Giant amount of work and we are the exception with so many businesses. But we are fortunate to have a very profitable seasonal business to pay off debt in giant steps. But the next three months are our tighest months of the year. So we need to get through them and I truly believe that based on our new learning and focus they will be the last tight months we will ever have.
The trick in budgeting is that you have to assign where every dollar goes or it just seems to disappear. Which means you need to spend the time making a master plan that includes all monthly expenses, all weird occassional expenses, the replacement of items wearing out like cars and furniture, all medical, dental and clothing and repair estimates and then your savings and retirement investments. It takes 3-6 hours for a normal person to do this, much longer if you own many businesses like us. So we are mostly there but have lots more to calculate.
But without a plan, you never get where you want to go. Since I am the "nerd" in the family, I get to draft the plan. Margie then gets to adjust it as needed to match her priorities and in theory, we both then buy-in and work together to achieve it. Which helps your marriage as a side benefit.
We both still have remnants of the Cody Crud but it isn't getting any worse and we're very functional, just sniffily.
Margie & I had a wonderful afternoon yesterday. We skipped out and drove 50 miles east to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. We've only been there once, about 10 years ago. Funny how you sometimes fail to explore great things in your own backyard.
Anyway, we saw wild horses and Bighorn Sheep and of course, the spectacular canyon. The canyon runs for about 50 miles. During our last trip, a friend took us through the canyon on his boat. The river is deep and wide enough to travel the entire 50 miles without any rapids so it's a boat owner's dream location. Here are photos of our trip.
We rented the trailer that became vacant on March 1 so the park remains full with no known vacancies coming up. We also rented an office at our Lovell building so that place is only one office from being full.
Now the bad news. Margie's mom died this morning. She'd been sick for a few years and had a few close calls but the end was still a surprise. Margie got a call this morning that her mom's heart was pooping out and the doctors only gave her a couple days to live. So we start talking about plans to get out to Asheville quickly. Fifteen minutes later she gets a call that says her mother passed away. She went peacefully with two of Margie's sisters with her.
She'll be buried in Ohio so we'll be taking an immediate trip there in the morning.
Her mom had come out to Wyoming three or four times and loved it out here. She followed us from Florida to help us move here in 1996 and then she returned for two Christmases in a row and helped us during our trolley holiday light tours. She rode in the parade on the trolley one year and thought it was so neat that everyone knew us and was yelling greetings to us as we went down the street.
As a mother-in-law she was great because she took pains to never butt in. Even at our wedding she helped us gather options and then left all the decisions up to us. A very neat lady who raised 7 kids, with one of them being my wife. Great life, mom, great life.
I've been able to update EverythingCody.com from my daughter's laptop. You have to admire my committment.
We took both daughters with us on the drive and it was fun most of the time although we were all cooped up in a packed car for two days. It was sort of like a space mission locked in a tiny capsule.
All of Margie's family are here for the viewing Sunday and funeral Monday. We have friends watching our Wyoming house and taking care of the dogs.
The car has done wonderful so far and other than a few hours of rain, the weather has been great too.
I'm exhausted so I'm signing off for now, looking forward to sleeping in.
No deep words of wisdom tonight because I am whipped again after hours on the road. We hope to get back to Cody by late tonight (Wednesday). It took extra time to find a hotel with Internet and the entire family is feeling tired and edgy so I'm in the lobby and they're in the room likely fast asleep already.
It has been a hassle updating EverythingCody.com from the road but I've managed to pull it off. I used my daughter's laptop so now know what I like and don't like about laptops when it's my turn to buy one (soon).
The trip to Cincinnati seems surreal. The drive only took 2 days each way and we crammed lots of activity into a 6 day trip. It was like visiting another world. A familiar, friendly world, but a different world.
We were exposed to lots of relatives in a short time. Some had their act together and others were really struggling. I was reminded of how many ways there are to live one's life. And many ways to define success. God bless us all because it is tough duty on this earth.
Things I enjoyed on the trip:
Farms. I loved seeing all the farms from the road and vow to buy one soon. I want the space, I want the
land and I want a property my descendants can enjoy and pass down for generations. We were impressed with the rich,
black dirt visible from Kansas eastward.
Skyline Chili. Cody needs a franchise. But it won't be me who does it. How about you? I'll be your best customer.
Driving. Within reason, I like to drive. 500 miles in a day however, is much more fun than the 1,000 a day we pushed ourselves.
Interstate Exits. Freeway exits are like cruise ship ports. They are all a bit different but provide your needs. They give you a small taste of the local culture without much effort. You drop in for 15 minutes and then hop back on the road.
Things I didn't like:
Traffic. Big cities are nuts. It's amazing the government lets us drive there. It is by far the most dangerous
activity I have ever engaged in. In cities, if you drive the speed limit, you become a traffic hazard. So you are forced to
become a speeding maniac just to survive. I don't do "maniac" very well.
High Populations. Too many people in too small a space. You couldn't walk down a store aisle without ten others in your path. And the aisles are no wider than Cody aisles. I don't live in the least-populated state for nothing.
No Mountains. The Ohio hills were nice, and seeing trees everywhere was beautiful. But I missed our snowcapped rocky mountains.
I return all the more committed to accomplish my goals as fast as humanly possible. As hard as we work, there is a lot of wasted time in each of our days. And I'm begiining to realize that time is all we have.
We had to relearn our own trolley tour yesterday morning. Despite delivering the content several thousand times, once away from it, we forget the script. One practice and we were right back in it, however, so the groove is still deep in our brains. But the tour content is great and we're reminded of that each time we return to it fresh.
We are scheduled to give a speech this morning to the Cody Newcomers Group. I guess we're talking about the trolley tour business. Probably share some history. Being so active, we can talk about 20 different topics without any preparation. Plus there are two of us to play off each other so filling the 20-30 minutes will be problem. I'm surprised more groups don't ask us to talk because we get great reviews. But then we don't market ourselves for that so out of sight, out of mind.
The trailer park is 100% filled and no announced moves upcoming. So that is a nice place to be. But things can change fast there so I'm not getting over confident.
We lost a warehouse tenant unexpectantly last week when he cut off his thumb and lost his job. Life happens. Perhaps if we cut off thumbs and held them for deposit, more leases would be fulfilled. Nahh.... I don't need to go out of my way to make people give me the finger. ba-dum-bum. Now you understand why you rarely see landlords become successful comedians.
The new trolley website is doing very well. I'm getting more visitors and they are staying at the site longer. The average stay is about 30 minutes which is tremendous. We'll continue to add content there so things will only get better.
EverythingCody.com is still growing. I've learned enough from it now to launch another, national portal site from the 180 domain names I own. I need to research which names have the best chance of making passive income for me and get to work building the sites. So many projects, so little time. Perhaps someone will call and offer me a million for one of my better names or millions to buy them all. That would certainly shave some time off my retirement efforts.
But until they do, I'll keep plugging away right here.
Margie is back to selling trolley advertising. I'm back to studying more web site activities. Both of us have taken it a bit easy this week.
I'm about to start plowing through the 1,000 pages of instruction I purchased on how to develop automated web sites. Margie is getting things ready for the annual St Patrick's Day parade and merchant events that occur Saturday in downtown Cody. She leads the Cody Events committee and it seems they are never off duty because there is always something else coming up to plan and organize.
My copywriting lessons #3 and #4 are sitting here unopened. I'm close to diving back into them too. Margie & I are also still attending the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes and still learning and enjoying them.
I have the joy (eye roll here) of refinancing my Lovell office building. The tenant who wants to buy it isn't committing and I have to pay off the old owner by May 7. So I'm refinancing and putting the building up for sale too. I want to cash out my equity there to increase my cash reserves. It's been a profitable project since we bought it, but it's time to start cashing in some assets. We've worked hard to create value, I just want the security of having that value in my bank account rather than on paper.
11 weeks until trolley season and I am ready to get back into it. It generates lots of cash which I like, but I also enjoy meeting all these folks on vacation. After five years, I'm comfortable with our operation so there is far less pressure to perform and I look forward to relaxing more while I perform this summer. We'll be coming up with a couple new marketing techniques to increase riders again so that is always fun to test.
The trailer park is still full and we're developing a tenant retention program to encourage the renewal of leases. The septic system engineering study continues and I plan to install a new system there in late summer. That will solidify the operation there, making it more valuable.
If you're looking for some fun entertainment, let me recommend a couple good links from my EverythingCody.com website that is really growing. For a great list of funny and amazing videos click Parody of the Day. For a list of fascinating links, click Link of the Day. For a great number of funny photos, click Funny Picture of the Day.
Finally, if you're looking for advice on just about any topic, click E-zine Articles. You'll find more than 100,000 articles on hundreds of topics. Enjoy!
During the trip we took many side roads exploring the countryside for available farms. Not ready to buy today but we're eying what's out there. We also held a brainstorming session and came up with a half dozen great ways we can increase daily trolley ridership. This is a big deal because averaging just ten more riders a day will generate significant extra revenue over the summer. We're already working hard so we might as well maximize everything we can.
On Saturday we decorated the trolley and rode in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. We then took the Caledonian Bagpipers around to various Cody nightspots. Click here for photos of our activities.
It snowed over the weekend and we have an accumulation of about 6 inches. Welcome to the first day of spring.
We attended the 6th week of our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Class last night. We made a nice connection with folks there who might be interested in working with our trolley biz this summer. Hope so, they seemed like a good match.
The timing was good because the retired couple who has worked four of our five years decided against coming back to work for us August & September. They're good folks and deserve their retirement but we'll miss them.
In a nutshell, Lifton proves without any doubt that the killing was an inside job. I'll leave the ramifications of that scary fact for you to consider yourself.
When I say "proves" I don't mean "conjectures," "estimates," "concludes," "surmises," or "guesses." I mean PROVES. 100%. No doubt. Indisputable. Time magazine even wrote a review that says, "There is no factual claim in Lifton's book that is not supported by intriguing evidence."
Lifton conducted dozens of personal interviews with direct witnesses in the case and combed the recorded testimony of the many "official" government investigations regarding the murder, to come upon a chilling but unimpeachable discovery: It was an inside job. The premeditated, intricately planned killing not only succeeded in killing the 35th president, it also succeeded in creating a false version of the murder that wiped the crime on the pre-chosen patsy. On paper, this was the perfect crime. In actual operation however, a few things went wrong and thanks to Lifton's 15 year quest, reveals that elements of the United States government planned, organized and executed the killing and cover-up. In effect, they conducted a private mid-term election and John F. Kennedy lost. Citizens didn't get to vote.
What really happened came very close to being the perfect crime. To most Americans, it is still a mystery, so in that respect, it can be argued that it WAS the perfect crime.
Lifton had these terrifying facts discovered by 1966 and his book has been on shelves across America since 1980. I'll let you try to come to grips with why his discoveries weren't reported as the most important news story in the last 40 years.
If you are interested, I highly recommend the book. But I warn you, you'll never look at authority figures the same again.
I've been an amateur JFK researcher myself off and on since I was a teenager. I've become pretty well-versed about the 1961 Lincoln Continental limo that carried the president when he was murdered. I've tracked down materials and memos about the car from the US Secret Service and Ford Museum and invested hundreds of hours researching the role that car played in events. I could never understand why the limo -- which was the crime scene -- was totally stripped to the frame and rebuilt within weeks of the assassination. I could not understand why the car was immediately taken back to Washington, DC, rather than left in Dallas for the murder investigation. Years later, I now fully understand why that car had to be removed from public scrutiny immediately -- it provided numerous clues that revealed the killing did not occur the way it was presented to the public. Since then, I've solved the crime to the best of my ability in a way that satisfies me, but I could never prove my hypothesis in the way Lifton has. That man has devoted his entire life to that case. All you have to do is read the book. :)
This was one of the first books I ever purchased myself after a school teacher read it to my class. I picked up a copy from a used bookstore a while back and it was as wonderful as I remember it as a child.
It's a fun book but a tearjerker too. And it slams home the loss of all the simple pleasures I no longer experience. I've really let my life get too complex. Complexity takes the fun and wonder and peace out of life. And I miss that. I am more committed than ever to continue reducing the complexity in my life.
Fortunately, I've created a large enough wave of growing investments that I can just ride the wave and I'll land where I want pretty soon. No more additional wave-making needed. Just time and balance. Time and balance. That and a big damn load of patience.
This has been a quiet week for me and a busy one for Margie. She's sold lots of trolley ads, mostly renewals. It's great to have a business that is fun and helps other businesses at the same time. The trolley business makes money in many different ways which is also a blessing. Our newspaper background really helped us build the business.
Speaking of newspapers, EverythingCody.com continues to get better every day. I have more marketing work to do yet because I've barely scratched the surface of awareness. Word of mouth is my best advertising and I have lots of repeat visitors. I'm rising in the search engines too so that is helping.
The trailer park is still full but two vacancies coming up in April. Both have lots of interest, but until they rent or sell I don't stop marketing.
The dam audio tour sale still hasn't closed. Frustrating. But we have a deal and it is promised to close soon. No one does things the way you would do them, and nothing happens as fast as you'd like. Welcome to earth.
I'm watching the new season of The Apprentice but I haven't been writing about it. No way would I work for Trump or work in New York City. I enjoy the show though for the business challenges they showcase. The drama gets pretty lame and The Donald is pretty hard-nosed from working in that environment. He gets gruffer every season. I'm glad he has his empire and he gets to run it. His life seems far too complicated for me though. And suits and ties every day! Yuck! I couldn't stand that. That's the fun of life, everyone gets to choose what they like.
So today we read about a guy who walked across the USA from sea to sea along a northern route that stretched over 7,000 miles. Margie & I both said we'd like to do that. A month ago I read about a guy who biked across the country. That sounds fun too. At the very least, it makes driving across country seem like no big deal. We both want to explore upper New England. I said, "Hey, we could buy a motorhome and travel for a year." Margie says, "We already have a motorhome, why don't we use that one?" I go, "Oh yea." You forget what you have when you don't use it often. It's a funny inner world when one day you feel rich and another you feel poor. In this country, we're always rich, even when we're poor.
Daughter Jen cut my hair yesterday. That is still neat and weird at the same time.
As for reading, I'm immersed in my 1,000 pages of Internet business manuals. Not exactly riveting reading. But needed. Dang it. I have a goal to match our trolley income in a semi-passive way that can be done from home -- no matter where that home may be.
The trailer park septic system plans are progressing. We should have all the data we need to design a system in the next couple weeks. The price tag is still up in the air. Then the engineer and I decide on a system to buy and install and submit permits. The plan is to have the thing installed by the end of the summer.
Every year we complete many big projects and believe it or not, the list is actually getting smaller.