I, Claus

I don't have to tell you it's been a bumpy year. From bizarre elections to a slowing economy to shocking world events. So many things have broken. Lives. Careers. Trust.

I'm lucky because I didn't break this year—I just cracked. At first I thought I'd patch up the crack and go on as I did, using a concrete mix of denial and hope.

Then I noticed I could look through the crack and see something new inside. Something that could emerge, like a chick from an egg. I realized this by accident, the way so many discoveries are made. I did it by looking in the mirror.

Now, I don't look in the mirror often, which, according to my wife, explains why the little hair I have left sometimes looks as it does. It's not because I'm not vain—In my early thirties I tried lots of different things to keep from losing my hair and turning gray. Nothing worked—except to stop looking at myself. Then I could imagine I looked the way I felt.

But a few days ago a storm was raging outside, the electricity had gone off and we were plunged back into the 1700s with only candles. And it was in this new light that I saw what I saw in the mirror.

I saw Santa. He looked jolly, and pleasant... and a lot like me. As I stared at his face, I realized it was mine.

It wasn't such a bad face after all. It was like it had finally turned into what I felt. I didn't started out life as a generous person, but I have become one. I'd accepted the Santa inside me and he finally found his way to the surface through that crack.

As a child, I always liked Santa. I mean, what's not to like? He's a snappy dresser. He works great hours and has snazzy rig. Not to mention the fact that he gives good presents. I knew he wasn't "real," but I still wanted to believe in him.

And now I do. Not just in myself, but in everyone who helps other people. We've seen a lot of Santas this year, helping those in need. And while the Scrooges got more press, if you stop and think about it, all over the world we've seen a lot more Santas than Scrooges—a good sign for the future.

So accept the fact you're cracked—let your inner Santa out.

And to all, a good night.

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Santa and I worked together to send you a digital present. Download the free Santa clock or animated card screensaver as our holiday gifts to you. Just go to Santa's Page and or send Santa e-mail at Santa@SchmoozeLetter.com . Happy Holidays!

http://www.will-harris.com , http://www.elementoftime.com , http://www.mydailyyoga.com

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Santa Spurns Spam

Santa and I were nearly going mad with Spam. I was getting over 100 a day (and I can only imagine how many he was getting). Together we finally found a solution, http://www.MailBlocks.com This service cuts out spam

Now if you send me an e-mail, and you're in my address book—the message gets through instantly. If I don't know you, your e-mail goes into a pending folder and the system server sends you an e-mail, asking you to click on a link. The link takes you to a web page with some words or numbers in a graphic format that people (not machines or Spam robots) can read. You type in those numbers and press return, and you're added to the list of approved senders, and your message goes to my inbox and the next time you e-mail me your mail will go right through again instantly. Spammers won't respond personally, so their Spam doesn't go through.

MailBlocks is well-designed and well-financed, so it should be around for years to come. It's also smart, because it uses the IMAP e-mail protocol (which lets your e-mail program interact with the mail server, rather than just downloading messages), so you can use it as web-based mail, then still download your mail to your normal e-mail program such as Outlook, Eudora, or the program I use, The Bat from http://www.ritlabs.com . You can even use it with AOL, Yahoo mail or Hotmail. The web-mail portion is the best I've seen,  so you may want to use it instead of any other online e-mail service. If you sign up now, you can get a special price of three years for a mere $9.95.

If you don't have a domain name, you can also use this service as your main e-mail address.

One thing you should also do is hide your e-mail address from spammers. BitMotion's SuperSpamFree on your site puts your e-mail address in a format that many address-harvesting software programs can't read.

Or, use a simple script to disguise your e-mail address.

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="javascript">
var Domain = "YOURDOMAIN.com"
var Mailme = "mail" + "to:" + "YOURADDRESS@" + Domain
document.write("<INPUT TYPE=\"submit\" VALUE=\"Send email\" ");
document.write("onClick=\"parent.location=Mailme\"> ");
// -->

OR, here are two scripts that use the same scripting technique but use normal text links. Here they are:

    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript">
    var Domain="YOURDOMAIN.com"
    var Mailme="mail" + "to:" + "YOURADDRESS@"
    document.write("<a hre");
    document.write("" + Mailme + "");
    document.write("" + Domain + ">");
    document.write("<b>Contact Us</b>");
    // --></SCRIPT>

    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript">
    document.write("<a hre");
    document.write("<b>Contact Us</b>");
    // --></SCRIPT>

Just change "YOURDOMAIN.COM" to your real domain, and YOURADDRESS@ to your real address (including the @ sign). You can change the VALUE to whatever you want the email button to say. Because this breaks your e-mail address into two pieces, e-mail harvesting programs can't suck it up and send you spam.

Want to drop that script into Fusion? Here's how:

  1. CREATE A TEXT BOX, OR DOUBLE CLICK INSIDE of an existing text box.
  2. Click your mouse where you want the HTML code.
  3. Press SHIFT-ENTER (or just plain ENTER) so that your code will be on its own line—this helps prevent formatting problems.
  4. Press the space bar once or twice. (This is optional, but it helps make the HTML icon easier to see, select and edit later).
  5. Click on the property palette's "HTML" button.
  6. Cut the HTML code from PayPal (or any other source).
  7. Paste the code into this box and click on OK.
  8. If you want to edit the code later, just double click on the blue icon and the HTML edit window will appear.

Remember, you can also use this HTML tip to drop any code into Fusion, including forms, PayPal e-commerce buttons, whatever).

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How This Santa Sends Out The Presents

While I actually do answer all my e-mail, one of the ways Santa can answer so much e-mail (and quickly send you the free Santa clock and screensaver) is by using an auto-responder—a message that gets sent out automatically from your server or e-mail software.

I never use these to replace personal replies, but they are useful if you have standard information (like how to download presents) you want to send.

The easiest way to do this is using your e-mail program. Each e-mail program has its own way to do this. Some call it a "Filter" while others (like Outlook and Express) called it a "Message Rule."

In the case of Santa's holiday goodies, my Filter looks for a specific e-mail address. When an e-mail arrives to that address, the filter moves the message to the Presents folder, then automatically sends a reply with instructions on how to download the present.

If you are going to get a heavy volume of mail to an auto-responder address, see if your ISP or web host offers automatic auto-responders right from their mail server. My web host, http://www.intermedia.net (I highly recommend them) makes it easy to set up mailboxes, and auto-replies.

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Come On, Santa—Do Good

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ONE MORE THING: 8 shopping days...

Consider my unique watches and computer clocks make great gifts. We pack and ship for you.

Best wishes for the Holidays and a happy New Year.




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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, 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.