Saturday, February 09, 2013

End of a (Web) Era

I started my Web page in 1997. I bought my first domain name,, in 1998. A year or so later, became available so I bought it as well, which had been my original first choice. Wilstar is a very old nickname of mine, dating back to the mid-1980s when I taught in Lake County, Indiana. My students gave it to me but no one could explain exactly why.

My first Web site consisted mainly of random links that I found interesting. It also included information about me and my family as well as some holiday information. I started with a Christmas page, which included MIDI Christmas songs and some history. I quickly expanded it to include the history and customs of nine holidays. I recently took a look back at my original home page via the Internet Wayback Machine, courtesy of It was kind of cheesy by today's standards.

In the early 2000s I started to monetize my site with ValueClick ads. It was pretty holidaycentric by then. I had added three additional holidays, but my MIDI page was still my favorite. By 2005 I had discovered Google AdSense, which started making me more money than ValueClick. By 2006, it had actually become a small business and a decent source of extra income. People were flocking to my holiday pages in droves. I remember a few times just sitting in front of my my computer, clicking the "Reload" button on my old Netscape browser just to watch the counter increase. During the peak Christmas season one year it was going up by 10 or 15 page views every few of seconds.

But after the recession of 2008-09 visitors were becoming more scarce and profits started declining. So I pondered the notion of selling my site. I turned down a couple of low-ball offers during the year's between 2010 and 2012, but this past week I received an offer (again, rather low) that I decided to pursue with a counteroffer. It didn't take us much time to agree on a fair price, so the bottom line is, and and their content no longer belong to me.

I spent the last 15 years writing original content for and I've spent many hours designing the site. I will miss doing that. I will also miss the steady flow of income it generated. But like everything else, the Web is changing and I decided to jump off and try something new.

I still have three other Web sites, including this blog. I have a site devoted to science subjects targeted to middle-school students, I have my Low Carb Pavilion site at, which I've run for the past 12 years or more. And I just acquired a new domain name just for my personal and family use. So I'm definitely not out of the Web business. But my main site is now not under my control and I will miss tinkering with it. You can still visit it under its new ownership, though, at

Saturday, February 02, 2013

USA for Africa or America?

Charity is a good thing. Most people who can afford it give to one or more of their favorite charities. Corporations can also be quite magnanimous that way. Tom's shoes is a company that was actually founded on the giving of shoes to children in developing countries.

But I can't help but notice that many of the children's charities that are advertised make their donations of money, food, and clothing to children in third-world nations, usually in Africa. I don't have a problem helping victims of natural disasters, regardless of what part of the globe they live in. But African children are not victims of a one-time natural disaster. They are victims of the geopolitical landscape. That means they are in constant need of help. But don't we have children we can help closer to home?

I get annoyed at the guy who comes on my TV screen every morning and begs me to sponsor a child in some third-world country. The commercial is replete with images of bony children looking all pitiful. It is maudlin. And I can't stand maudlin. But if they are going to beg for money to save some children, why not let it be our own children?

If we are going to give charitable contributions to those who are in need of help due to their socioeconomic conditions, there are millions of children in this country who could use those tens of thousands of shoes that go overseas, or the 30 bucks a month or so that goes to feed a child in Sub-Saharan Africa. It's only my opinion, but I am not in favor of sending resources to the needy in other countries as long as there are needy children here.

Let Africans take care of their own and let us take care of ours.