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Up in the air, junior viruses...

I just flew back from a family reunion in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona (and boy are my arms tired). The trip was great, but as always seems to happen to me, while I was touring someplace new, the "germs of someplace new" were touring me.

I felt like one of the unfortunate characters at the start of a Dean Koontz novel who contracts a rare and fatal disease by visiting some ancient burial ground (I'd just been to Mesa Verde, the incredible cliff dwellers site in Colorado).

The cliff dwellers all seemed to have mysteriously disappeared at the same time, and I'd just been walking in their old tracks, so who knows what I might have uncovered. While it's all very exciting to think I got this from an ancient race of people, in reality I probably got it from my nephew who's a very nice guy, but has a pierced nipple, so who knows where he's been.

(My niece would want me to remind you that she's perfect, and that I caught nothing from her except for some new slang. In case you don't know, "Sick" is now mysteriously akin to "Cool." Don't ask me why. My pierced nephew introduced me to "Hard" which is like "Cool" only you have to say "Hard" as if you were a pirate saying "Arrg." And my niece's favorite new phrase is, "That would be at the top of my list if you turned my list upside down.")

So I got on the airplane home—coughing up a storm, wondering if I was going to be the person who starts an epidemic called The Cliff Cough throughout the world.

I hate when I sit next to people on a plane who sound like walking germs, and here I was, doing it. So I covered my mouth with a variety of paper goods ranging from the inflight magazine (which helpfully told me where to buy gold bullion—just what I was wondering about mid-air), to Kleenex and napkins distributed with the peanuts—all in hopes that I wouldn't wind up at the top of a Center for Disease Control chart showing how this new cough began.

To prevent someone from sitting right next to me, I used a trick my flight attendant (and perfect) niece showed me. While the plane was loading, I "Made myself big" and spread out covering 1.5 seats, to discourage anyone from sitting next to me. This worked, so at least there was a small buffer between me, my new-found germs, and the rest of the world.

Luckily it was a short flight, and I wasn't the only one with this cough. This meant at least I didn't start it, I was just carrying it across state lines which, as far as I know, isn't a crime. What was I supposed to do, stay in Arizona until it passed? I know my mother would have liked that, taking care of me like the giant baby she (and my wife) think I am.

And now I'm home, feeling like someone opened spigots in my feet and let all my energy drain out. I've got all the classic achy, feverish, stuffy nose and cough symptoms, as an enduring reminder of my trip (as if I could forget all that family fun).

But don't worry, as far as I know I can't spread germs via e-mail. Yet another reason why the web is a great way to travel.

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VistaPrint for free business cards, and more

Even in this FaceBook world of iphone "bumps" and other digital ways to exchange contact information, there's still nothing better than a business card (or the old-fashioned sounding "Calling Card" for personal use).

A business card is a convenient tangible item that you can give to people so they know how to contact you.

There are no rules about what kind of contact information you must have. Maybe you'll have your phone number, maybe just your email address--maybe even just the URL for your website or blog!

If you've never had a business or calling card, a great free (you pay only for shipping) way to get started with them is a web-based printer called VistaPrint.

VitaPrint is famous for their free business cards. How can they be free? Because there's a VistaPrint logo on the back side, so it's marketing for VistaPrint and free for you (a good idea of how you can give and get at the same time).

If you like the free cards, VistaPrint hopes that you'll decide to upgrade to one of their paid designs, or their custom printing services that will print any design (such as a business card that I could design for you!)

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SELL YOUR OWN BRANDED ITEMS

Next time you go to a family reunion, or a business trip, you might want to make t-shirts with your company brand. Now there's an easy place to create, buy and sell T-shirts, sweat-shirts, mousepads, mugs and more. To see it, click here.

CafePress lets you upload your graphics (one for the front, one for the back), then they create an online store for you (complete with order taking, credit card processing, shipping and handling. CafePress says that they have over 90,000 "stores" (which means customers selling their branded merchandise through them).

OK, so what's the catch? There's not much of one. CafePress charges $13.99 for a t-shirt—this includes providing you with the sales page, taking the credit card, producing and shipping the item. You can set the price at whatever you want above that, so you can sell it at cost (for, say, a local organization), or you can give it whatever markup you think your brand is worth.

If you want to see a sample site, or perhaps buy something with our "Haard" FuseLetter logo on it, go to:

http://www.cafepress.com/fuseletter

There are other sites that makes these very same things. http://www.iprint.com is one of the top sites for personalized stuff. But they won't put up a store for you, take orders, and ship all over the place. They just make the stuff and send it to you and they have an initial minimum order.

What's great about CafePress is that all you have to do is upload your graphic files. You will need to create these graphics with enough pixels/resolution so that when they're printed they don't end up tiny or jagged, so just pulling a graphic off your site isn't going to yield very good results (not because of them, but because the mechanics of how graphic files work).

I have not personally seen an item they produce, so I only know that the brands they use for t-shirts, Hanes Beefy T's, are good quality (and the standard for promotional t-shirts). But their prices are reasonable, so it looks like a good way to create promotional items—either to sell, or for your own use.

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Do Good For Free With Just A Click

NOW is the time to visit these sites, and click to donate for free. Visit their advertisers, too, so they'll keep supporting these good causes.

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One more thing...

Our greatest glory is not in never falling,
but in rising every time we fall.
                            --Confucius

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2010, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.