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This is the personal weblog of Aakash Raut, established Sept. 2002. It will cover current affairs, worldwide & national topics, local & university events, and provide insight and commentary on contemporary issues and the news from his perspective. Enjoy!

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    Tuesday, October 06, 2015

    While We Wait: Thank you, McDonald's

    If you arrived at 10:31am (or perhaps 11:01am), it was too late!

    But now, McDonald's is offering it's awesome breakfast (is it the whole breakfast menu, or just select items) all day!

    Our local McDonald's had actually already started All Day Breakfast, a couple of weeks or so ago. I've been getting the Sausage McMuffin, without the meat.

    McDonald's is a GREAT company (I wish that CEO was still there, though), and thanks to them, for this business decision!

    I think I might do a McD run right now (I found at least one local store that's still open 24/7). Maybe not tonight. :-)

    Friday, October 02, 2015

    While We Wait... Learn How To Boost Your SEO!

    I was glad to get my blog jump-started again, and like before, I have posts I would like to get published. And like before, I haven't published them. I'm also trying to get other blogs underway, and I'm debating what format/website would be best, for my future writings.

    In the meantime, I might re-post some content here. Here's an article on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), by David Prochaska:

    3 Ways to Boost Your Local SEO

    Over the last few years, Google has been delivering more localized search results. That’s a good thing for local businesses because it gives them a chance to actually show up in the search results. In the past, local businesses struggled for a spot on Google’s first page; now they have their own section!

    So what is it that actually helps a business rank higher in the local search results? There are 3 ways to boost your Local SEO: citations, reviews, and schema.

    1) Local Citations

    Many people view these as directories, but they’re mistaken. A local citation is anywhere you list your business name, address, phone number, and maybe your website, along with pictures and a description of your business.

    You don’t want to fire out your business information at any website that accepts it. The major sites to cite your business include Google+, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, YellowPages, CitySearch, Factual, DexKnows, Acxiom, and Infogroup. There are more, but those are the major ones you should stick with initially.

    It’s important when listing your business to have a consistent NAP, which is name, address, and phone number. Don’t fret over every little thing like ‘St.’ and ‘Street’. Google is smart enough to know they mean the same thing. What you don’t want is two different phone numbers, different addresses, or a totally different business name.

    2) Reviews

    Your business is awesome, so people are going to leave you awesome reviews, right? Let’s hope so because reviews are a big factor when it comes to ranking your local business in the search engines. There are a few things you should know about getting reviews.

    Google+ is the main place to get reviews. After all, Google is who displays the search results, right? Don’t stick solely to Google though. Google finds other places you get reviews, and you’re able to see this on your Google+ page. The next most important place is Yelp. Yelp can be an awesome traffic driver to your website, aside from the local SEO benefits of having great reviews on there.

    The speed you get reviews is taken into account as well. If you are getting decent reviews on a constant basis, Google knows and Google rewards this. If you get one review this month, 10 reviews the next months, and no reviews the next month, that’s going to look odd. Make the customer experience so awesome that people seek out a place to leave you reviews.

    If your customers don’t know where they can leave a review for your business, encourage them with handouts at your place of business or have a Yelp badge on your website. People want to talk about your business, but sometimes it feels like work looking for a place to leave a review. Make it easy for them.

    3) Schema

    Implementing Schema on your website is a way of placing certain code on your website so that it will communicate better with the search engines. There are many different types of Schema, but we’re going to focus on local businesses.

    Things you can include in your Schema code are name, description, address, city, state, zip code, phone number, email address, and a Google map. I’m not going to get in the technicalities of it but just know that it works!

    Local SEO is becoming more prevalent, and many business are already adopting the above practices, so don’t get left behind sucking your thumb. As I said, there are hundreds of factors when it comes to how your website ranks locally, but hopefully you can take these three steps and gain some traction.

    Update: Here is a follow-up article I'm sharing, by Tyler Sickmeyer, on the same subject.

    4 Tips on Improving Local SEO

    When most marketers discuss SEO, they focus on broader link building campaigns and detailed on-page SEO strategies. But for most brick-and-mortar businesses, local SEO strategies are a critical component for any internet marketing campaign. Many searches for local businesses and brands include the geographic area, and sites like Yelp can be optimized to increase impressions and exposure to prospective customers. Here are four local SEO tips and tricks to help improve your site’s rankings in local search:

    1) Make sure your online listings are consistent.

    The devil is in the details. Businesses that are truly optimized for local search have the same name, address, website, and phone number on each and every local directory, from Yelp and to directory submission sites like Localeze.

    2) Leverage social media.

    Make sure that your business’s information is listed correctly on each social profile. Further, continue to engage your customers with compelling content and promotions in order to appear higher in the search rankings by attracting more fans and followers. One Fidelitas client has been so successful at this that their Facebook page actually ranks first in most local searches for their targeted keywords.

    3) Build a local Public Relations campaign.

    Take advantage of local PR opportunities to generate credible links in addition to immediate buzz. Restaurants targeting foodie blogs and Realtors targeting local publications with quality content and actual news are two examples of PR opportunities for smaller businesses.

    4) Optimize your own site.

    Too many businesses overlook an easy opportunity to take local SEO into their own hands by optimizing their website. One problem with many website designers is that while they are capable of building a nice looking website, they often prove to be inept when it comes to on-page SEO. Besides tweaking copy to include as many local references as possible, businesses should incorporate local search phrases into their ALT tags and page titles. Finally, be sure that the contact information listed on the site matches what has been submitted to local directories and social media pages.

    Saturday, August 01, 2015

    Young Republican National Federation
    National Convention

    I have some interesting blog entries saved as drafts (which this time, I actually hope to publish ;-).

    Right now, I'm live-Tweeting the excitement at the Young Republican National Convention!

    Follow us live from Chicago!


    Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) officers
    CONGRATULATIONS to the newly elected 2015 YRNF Officers!

    Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) leaders, at Chicago's Navy Pier

    Sunday, July 26, 2015

    Back to Blogging
    Just do it

    One major obstacle I experience, insofar as blogging in the past few years, is that I feel I can't blog on a whim, and feel like I need to clear a backlog of planned posts. Anyway: I think I should overcome that; maybe I need to reboot this blog again - or just get over this hindrance!

    The next (or prior) few entries will be commentary linked to MTV's controversial documentary "White People."

    Back to Blogging

    This series of blog posts involves MTV's recent "White People" documentary, which was the buzz in the Twitterverse. This post provides a few thoughts on the film.

    - I actually have somewhat mixed feelings on this. I concur with those criticizing this film for its motives and divisive setup.

    - I don't support the filmmaker - who is here ILLEGALLY; how is MTV going to pay him?

    - I don't agree with the liberal agenda that the film - and its accompanying materials - are trying to push. And I don't like the overemphasis on race - I think Morgan Freeman and Frederick Douglass had it right. Wrongful focus on "white privilege," "racism," "diversity," and "multiculturalism" - and on past injustices - can actually breed resentment against minorities, inflame tensions, and further divide us. I remember being annoyed when I was at UIUC, seeing flyers on the topic of "White Privilege."

    - However: The material accompanying the film did get me thinking (at least a little bit) about subtle, beneath the surface, advantages and disadvantages that come with one's race. My trip to NYC showed me that I am often being looked at (literally and figuratively) differently, because of my race. I don't know how different my social, political, and civic life would have been, had I been white.

    - However: I don't feel comfortable tackling these topics, and I question the need to make young white people "uncomfortable" (one of the purposes of the film), by focusing on these issues that divide us. And, as reflected by the overwhelming negative comment posts I've seen about this film, there are legitimate grievances that white Americans have, insofar as the "diversity" movement and so-called "reverse" discrimination (discrimination is discrimination!).

    One more thing: I hope someone fact-checks the documentary's claim that whites are 40% more likely to get private scholarships than people of color. I suspect this is a misleading claim.

    One more more thing: It would not be in anyone's interest if whites became a minority in the United States. This could inflame racial tensions, and cause other problems as well.

    Others' thoughts on this:

    - MTV takes on White Privilege
    - "White People" Trailer under fire for promoting white shame
    - Jose Antonio Vargas doc isn't a great discussion of race in America
    - Rush Limbaugh: MTV documentary shames white youth
    - From our friend Dan Flynn: Stuff White People Did
    - White People doc only skims the surface
    - "Racist" MTV White People show receives huge backlash
    - Backlash to the film shows why it was needed
    - MTV's "White People" sparks massive Twitter discussion
    - Undocumented ILLEGAL director of ‘White People’ just wants to spark conversations
    - Kareem Abdul-Jabar: White People gets it right about being white
    - covers the film
    - Liberals Pan the Documentary: Not long or guilt-inducing enough
    - MTV's White People is coming to a classroom near you

    One more thing: There was a scene in the film... (See my entry below.)

    Labels: , ,

    List of words that do not cause someone in America to be offended and have a complete meltdown:1.End of list.
    Posted by Are you kidding me? on Saturday, July 25, 2015


    My friend's above FB post was posted independently of anything else, and didn't necessarily have anything to do with the scene from the film discussed above.

    Slurs and Supastars
    What can we still say?

    Can someone provide a list of terms that are now off-limits?

    Is "ghetto," used as an adjective or adverb, now a slur?

    Remember this, from high school? (or from kindergarten, for some of you young'ns)


    Update: But what is this? Lol. :-)

    And see my entry below, for another word that's now causing controversy. (What are we still allowed to say?)

    Labels: , , ,

    Bugged by "Thugs"?

    One more thing, in my series of blog entries sparked by the MTV documentary: Is "thug" now a racial slur? If so, against whom?

    Something I learned from dad, when I used that term: It's actually from India.

    In case I ever get into trouble for using this word... I want to preempt that right now, by clarifying that I'm not using it in a racial sense. I've used it before to describe Bosnians (who are Muslim, but white), and to describe the President currently on the dime.

    And what the heck is a "ratchet"?


    Update: Here is blogger Thomas Lifson's piece on this same subject; apparently, it caused controversy a few months ago.

    Labels: , , ,

    Sunday, June 21, 2015

    Happy Father's Day

    This blog, when it was active, had a strong inclination to link to - and with good reason! was a 'father' of this and possibly other blogs.

    And Josh Claybourn - who had another birthday recently (he was born just 16 days before me - but has become more accomplished) - recently became a father himself.

    Happy Father's Day to Josh - and all other fathers!

    My last post at Watchblog was for this occasion - 10 years ago!

    From that 2005 blog entry, a piece from the great Joe Galloway: From Iraq, a Soldier/Father's Perspective on the War [via]

    "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
    ~Ephesians 6:4~

    Monday, May 25, 2015

    Thank you to all of our current and former servicemembers.

    I hope everyone has had a good Memorial Day, with thoughts about our great nation and its heroes.

    Thursday, May 14, 2015

    Thursday, May 07, 2015

     City of Springfield - Inauguration 2015

    Congratulations to the elected officials in the City of Springfield (IL), who were sworn in, just a bit ago, in Sangamon Auditorium on the UIS campus.

    I wasn't involved much in Election 2015, but was in Election 2011 - and especially in Election 2007!

    Today's event may be the first-ever Inauguration in which a Republican City Clerk (Let's Go Lesko!) + a GOP-majority City Council are sworn in.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2015

    Merry CHRISTmas!!

    In response to some Christmastime angst I expressed years ago, Adrianne Truett reminded us that today is still Christmas!…/merry-christmas-someone-shoul…

    Merry CHRISTmas, to you and yours!!

    Thursday, December 25, 2014

    Merry CHRISTmas, to You and Yours!!

    For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  ~Isaiah 9:6

    My Christmas List

    For CHRISTmas this year, what I really want is:

    - That my family ends up becoming saved!!

    - That my healing manifests, for a condition I've been struggling with.

    In Jesus' Name!  Amen.

    Labels: , , ,

    This Christmas

    There is so much I could say. In prior years, I've used this occasion to quickly post some things, about what I was doing. Meanwhile, the blog lies dormant most of the year... But definitely not due to a shortage of topics to write about!

    Well, at least this year I got published the entry on Santa Claus, which I'd been wanting to do since like 2007.

    Corey Cott of Newsies

    My annual Christmas Eve church blitz did not go as planned... It did not go period, that is.

    I've been struggling with a situation that spiked in July... This has also blemished my Christmastime. Like in prior years, I'm definitely going to need a Christmas continuance, this time around!

    So far, this Day hasn't gone too bad - nor too good. The usual plan for seeing a movie and going to Denny's did not work out. My dad and I are about to do the Denny's thing now, though. (We'd earlier thought of ordering Marco's; they're actually open till 10pm today.)

    My reaction this evening, partly due to seeing the amazing Tyler Sickmeyer's Christmas Day recap, inspired us to do the Denny's thing now. [Because of a situation that just arose at home, involving smoke alarms, we were planning to stay in tonight - but a short time out should be fine.]

    Please continue to pray for me. And Merry CHRISTmas, to you and yours!!


    Wednesday, December 24, 2014

    Could Santa Claus really be real?

    It was 11 years ago at this time (why does the past always seem rosier?) that I'd claimed - for any young people reading my blog - that Santa Claus really is real.

    If you want proof that Santa Claus is real, I'd suggest this book by Robert Sullivan.

    Also, check out:
    ==> Latest news on Santa Claus
    ==> Official NORAD Santa Claus tracker
    ==> The one species of reindeer that can fly
    ==> How he does it all in one night: Relativity clouds and/or wormholes!

    [Official Presentation] Professor Larry Silverberg, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University

    ==> Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, New York Sun. Tuesday, September 21, 1897


    Friday, June 20, 2014

    The P.R.P. Twitlonger post (edited) will go here.

    Saturday, May 17, 2014


    Congratulations to all graduates, at University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), and all other colleges and high schools!

    I'm not at the Prairie Capital Convention Center right now, but am streaming the Commencement Ceremony live:

    Monday, January 06, 2014

    In looking back, I see I was "still behind on things" in prior years, as well.

    I am making progress this time though, and expect to have things underway soon.  2013 was already a year of major progress, in several vital areas!!

    I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas!

    Yes, today. In response to some angst I expressed here years ago (wow; It's now been 10 years?!)... the lovely Adrianne Truett informed me that Christmas actually lasts up through tonight!

    So, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    (Due to the #snowcopalypse, we may need to extend Christmas for a few more days, as well!)

    Wednesday, December 25, 2013

    As you can see, it looks like I did not accomplish much, in 2013.

    I actually did, in certain areas!

    And even Blogosphere-wise, I recently started up two new weblogs.  (More on that, soon.)

    I wish I could figure out how to get this (original) one effectively rebooted, and back underway. Well: Figure out how to do so, and then have the boldness to do it!

    Anyway: Things are on the way up for me, insofar as many life aspects... Praise God!!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS, to you and yours!!

    Monday, January 07, 2013

    Like last year, we extended Christmas this time around... But it's actually supposed to last through tonight, as Adrienne had informed me some years ago!

    However: Since I was somewhat-sick (it was bad, but then got better... through prayer + hope!) on this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday... Let's continue Christmas for a little while longer!

    Merry CHRISTmas, to you and yours!   :-)

    Tuesday, January 01, 2013

    See my prior post (and the one before that, if you want).

    That only scratches the surface, and it's Blogosphere/web-related... I didn't even try to RECAP what went on with me, in 2012! :-)  Some of that has been covered in the few entries of 2012 at this blog (unlike at my WordPress blog, which I'm simultaneously posting to right now - in the final hour of this year!)

    After posting that tonight, I took care of some major financial transaction issues, that had been long-pending.  I do feel better, now that that's taken care of.

    Also, see my 2010 year-end piece.

    As you may have imagined, I'm always in a flurry of sorts, at the end of the year (especially now, at the tail-end!). It didn't use to be this way... When angst did arise, it wasn't necessarily about things I wish I'd accomplished, in that year.

    In recent years, I've been rushing to get as many e-mails, blog posts, etc... sent, before the year expires.

    Last year (New Year's Eve 2011), I was rushing to send my CRNC recap piece to as many Illinois House Republicans and candidates as I could.  I ended up sending it a bit after midnight - I was glad to have gotten a call a few days later, from Leader Tom Cross!  (Social media was involved with that, too. ;-)

    That was appreciated... I really wish I could've revised that piece, and sent it after the primary - or at least before the November 2012 election - since it mentions our interview with Congressman Paul Ryan!

    After doing all of that, it sucks that I wasn't able to share that info with more people - and I especially regret not being more involved in the political arena, during 2012.  I did give it a good shot though, especially in the home stretch.

    Different location, different circumstances... similar frustrations

    One change that happened (in May of this year... It's still 2012 as I type this :-) is that I finally moved out.  I'm typing this from my room at Capernaum House.

    Interestingly, they mentioned the Holy Ground Coffee House - and invited me to come.  I brought up this 2010 blog post, which mentioned that same location, and the same event, starting at 9pm!

    I recall that on the night of 12/31/2010, I was taking care of these year-end tasks, and was upset about having missed out on everything.  I did end up leaving the house after midnight though, and drove by that place... It had closed by then (and I've still never been there).  I ended up going to Perkins (which has since shut down) - which was open 24 hours on Friday & Saturday nights.

    That worked out great!  Using my Blackberry while at Perkins, I started on The One-Year Bible via the YouVersion app.  I'd known for AWHILE that I needed to be doing daily Bible reading, but had never maintained a plan.  By using that app however, and by setting the rule that I had to do it each day, some time before midnight, I actually did!  You can start a YouVersion Plan on any day, but it was neat starting that one on January 1st.

    I started two more, in July this year.

    This time, I'll probably finish up this blog (cross-posted at my main blog), and then go to Denny's.

    Yes, that's what I will do... For a moment, I was thinking: I hope those were fireworks, and not gunshots, that rang out a few minutes ago (that type of thing does happen, though I think it's very rare, even in this area) - but then I realized that they came right at midnight... And in at least one prior year, I recall being on campus, when CSFers went to the Capitol, to see the fireworks!  (I even blogged about it, I think... Or may have Tweet-mentioned it when reflecting on past years.)  I guess I should've had more caffeine today - though that 5-Hour Energy should kick in soon.  :-)

    This House is not in Downtown, but somewhat nearby.

    Anyway: Now that it's past that time (though not in Arizona - so I can still use that 99-cent GoDaddy deal!), nor in California, where my brother is - and where my current boss is - unless he's still back here in central Illinois...  I mentioned him in that 2010 blog post too, for helping provide the boost I needed, to get moving & get things done!) - I should get going.

    One good thing about this is that even though I didn't accomplish much of what I'd wanted to, before the year ended, at least the pressure is off!

    And finally...

    These blog entries are rather rough, and will need to be revised... I've hurriedly posted this one (and the one at my WordPress site), while so much else has been on my mind, and I've been regretfully reflecting on what I could have done in 2012 - but didn't. #fail

    In contrast, 2011 was a GREAT year - especially the latter half of it... And I expect this new year to be #strong, as well.

    But as I said at this point two years ago - and nine years ago (wow!!) ~ PLEASE DO NOT allow what’s happening on my end (both externally, and in) put a damper on your holiday spirit.

    Please STOP reading this, right NOW, and head over to a church service (or church gathering) - if any are still going on.

    At West Side, the Young Adult Group didn't have the annual party (I see that there wasn't in 2010, either), though they did have a Skate Night - I hope that went well.

    And I hear car doors closing... My Housemates must be back, from the Holy Ground Coffee House; I hope their Countdown to New Year’s tonight went well.

    Happy New Year 2011   

    Or, if you’re in our neck of the state (and my neck of the City!), you could also head downtown, to First Night Springfield - if there's anything still left, at this point.  I think that in the above-mentioned year (2006-2007), I did go to the Capitol, though things were over by then.

    Anyway: Stop reading this, and go out! (Or if you’re staying at home, do something else.)
    Be safe this season.

    And also (like we advocated, for Thanksgiving), put aside the worry and angst, re: the issues/debates/problems that have been plaguing our minds… and enjoy!

    Merry CHRISTmas (yes, still! ;-)) and happy new year, to you and yours!!

    Monday, December 31, 2012

    I'm trying (though I've tried before!) to get back into the Blogosphere, and actually use it for semi-professional purposes.

    That would probably require a reboot here (for me to stop worrying about my backlog, and the YEARS worth of content that would've been great to have posted about, but never was).

    And while I think I'll probably keep this Blogger Classic Template (I'm one who does not like change!), the blogroll needs drastic revision - So many of those sites are alas no longer even up!

    And my WordPress blog - which seemed like it had potential when I jump-started it in August 2010 - needs upgrading, as well.  It was originally installed in 2007, and I recall reconnecting with Jeremy Clover - after I jump-started it in 2010 - about an upgrade.  I still need to figure that out... WordPress has changed since then.

    I'm glad to have posted a Christmas Eve entry here (below) - That was done quickly, amidst what's become my annual Christmas Eve blitz (like in 2010 and 2011)... It actually published wrong, because I didn't realize, with the new (newer, newer, new :-) Blogger format, the HTML field doesn't recognize line-breaks, like before.


    Like in prior years, there was a bunch of Christmas-related content that I wish I could've posted, but didn't.  And like in prior years, we've extended Christmas!

    Like I did two years ago at my WordPress site (and I see I did here, too), I'm going to write and publish a "Year-end Angst" entry.  And like year-after-year, I'm a few hours behind on everything tonight - Then again, I'm also a few days behind, at least.  Maybe we can extend 2012, a little longer? :-)

    That year-end post was going to go here, but it will be published next.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, to you and yours!!