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Outdoors-For-All, the Heroes Among Us

By William May
Published: 06/09/14 Topics: Comments: 0

It was over 10 years ago that we first came in contact with the Ski-For-All Foundation.

In the Northwest United States, snow skiing is a rite of winter. Not everyone in the area participates, but the mountains beckon to most of us. In fact, many people are zealous about spending time in the great outdoors and especially in winter.

It is no wonder that some of the most fervent fans got together to share their joy with those least likely to get out.


Using committed volunteers, generous donors and specialized equipment, Ski-For-All helps disabled children and adults to ski and snowboard.

Even the blind can be lead down the mountain at speeds that able bodied non-skiers find frightening, but that finds the sightless skier whooping and laughing at the top of their lungs.

By holding onto a short leash with a sighted skier, and sensing the tension between the two it makes your heart flutter so see how fearless they are.

Who could imagine that even quadriplegics can ski?

It is done by putting the client into a toboggan with four skiers hold tethers affixed to the four corners, the client can speed downhill at an astonishing rate, and everywhere others skiers stop and watch and often cheer.

It takes lots of preparation and time for just one run. But one run is seldom enough for the client. So the volunteers load the toboggan and the client back onto a chair lift to go back to the top. They repeat the journey for as long as the client wants or until the ski area closes (usually the later.)


Knowing of this wonderful organization, we thought it grand to donate use of our vacation rental homes to Ski-For-All and were delighted when they could bring clients to the mountains for over-night trips.

After the first stay, however we received a disappointing phone call. It was the housekeeper who said, "something is wrong, no one slept in the beds."

Embarrassed, I called Ski-For-All and apologized saying "of course it would be absolutely fine for them to sleep in the homes we provided."

The director laughed out loud on the phone. "You don't understand," she said, "these kids spend much of their lives in bed. So sleeping in a sleeping bag, in a cabin on the floor was a thrilling time for them"

"Oh," I said, "I had no idea."

I would like to invite you to donate use of your vacation rental home to charitable groups too. It would be great if you wanted to call Ski-for-All, but in fact your generous donation will be appreciated by any not-for-profit group you can think of.

You'll receive nice thank you of course, but the warm glow of satisfaction will come the minute they book your place. You will be using the riches you possess to help those who need it most.


To recognize the generosity of the wonderful vacation home owners who donate to worthy charities, the Vacation Rental Association ( has formed a "Vacation Rental Angels" program on which their properties can be advertised. Its all for free and our small way of saying thank you. (

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Over time the Foundation has increased its programs to include hiking, biking kayaking, canoeing, yoga and even rock climbing. The newly christened "Outdoors-For-All" is the same great bunch of people now spreading its love of the outdoors to an ever wider circle of people who long to get out and enjoy the environment. (

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Author: William May, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0377 – 06/09/14

Crowing About Our New Mobile Website

By William May
Published: 05/01/14 Topics: Comments: 0

We are just going to go out and say it, "Our new mobile website, for smart phones, is by far the most comprehensive, beautiful and functional mobile website ever."

Yes, other lodging managers have built mobile websites, but no one has built anything like this" Said, Salman Arshad of Redstone Systems.

Redstone Systems, creator of software for the Inn, Resort & Vacation Rental industries just added this new mobile website capability. While that may not sound earth-shaking it is actually evolutionary - the first efficient, effect and persuasive mobile websites for smart phones.

Redstone started by studying hundreds of mobile websites for Inns, Resorts & Vacation Rental management.

Joseph Romain, Creative Director said "The variety was astounding, as was the lack of features. None of the websites had all the design and foresight necessary to book unique properties on a smart phone."

Some websites had nice graphics, some had adequate photos, showed property amenities or maybe a map. But none of them made properties shine. And none made it easy to envision what the guest was getting if they rented that particular property.

"Let's face it, smart phones are a 'very small piece of paper' on which to write a graphic novel so to speak, "Said William May, project manager. "The other websites look like someone just jumbled things together from scratch without enough forethought."

"So we started from scratch. To figure out how mobiles should work and then do it, rather than copy what others had done"

The Redstone Advisor Board includes many experts in graphics, video and other commercial creative arts. Their input commanded the staff to start with a clear goal, and have every aspect of the website support the mission. mobile websites are, first and foremost, places to advertise and promote properties. To show their beauty and benefits. So HelpBook mobiles use full size photos, logos and graphics.

But they must also streamline the ability to select and book properties online. Other websites often taken the viewer back to a properties primary website - but those are impossible to se or use on a smart phone.

So HelpBook mobiles are fully featured and allow guests to book homes online, with full security using the payment system from

Best of all, HelpBook mobiles are fully deployable from a back-end database driven system. Once necessary data - such as photos, descriptions and amenity lists are secured - regular websites can be created in hours.

Then, that same data is used to create HelpBook mobiles sites in very little extra time. The fundamentals of good graphic and website design are followed, making the websites easy to use - but also impressive and persuasive.

Booking hotels and other lodging is said to be growing at a fast pace, and now all Redstone properties have the ability to persuade, facilities and complete bookings for Inns, Resorts & Vacation Rentals online.

"No other company can do it as fully, as impressively and as fast as our software," notes Arshad.

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Author: William May – Manager, Redstone Systems
Blog #: 0366 – 05/01/14

What I do for a living

By William May
Published: 04/08/14 Topics: Comments: 0

On a Saturday, March 22, 2014, the small community of Oso, Washington State was covered 8 to 20 feet deep with dirt and debris after a massive hillside above the area cut lose and thundered down upon houses, cars and residents.

Reports were daunting for rescue personnel first on the scene. The viscous nature of the earth turned it to black oozing mud making it almost impassible on foot.

Highway 530 which ran along the river at the bottom of the hill was lost in the muck which actually flowed across the Stillaguamish River blocking its flow. The Corp of Engineers are working diligently to re-open the channel and prevent down river flooding.

Shortly after the catastrophe a number of people were rescued and sent to area hospitals with varying degrees of injuries. Since, then the search has escalated to as many as 800 rescuers and volunteers.

As news of the slide began appearing, there were many news reports of un-authorized volunteers sneaking into the dangerous and muddy slide areas attempting to find and rescue survivors.

Due to the extreme danger in the area, at first authorities were intercepting these volunteers, threatening them with arrest and even, in a few cases, detaining determined volunteers.

Then in a Seattle Times Newspaper article on March 26, 2014 the authorities made a surprising about-face. After reconsidering the situation they decided to authorize many of those same unofficial volunteers when they learned how capable those unofficial volunteers were.

"Right off the bat they should have had every one of the loggers here in there," said Forrest Thompson 18 years of age who works for logging companies in town. "Climbing across logs and mud all day is what I do for a living."

Crisis situations crystalize the thinking of those involved. Survivors will never forget the experience and first-responders may suffer delayed stress. It is safe to say that no one who lives in the area will drive the road again without reliving where they were a the time.

Watching the rescuer's work 24/7 and without pay and sometimes without acknowledgment should make us all wonder what we are capable of. And maybe, just like Forrest Thompson, it’s a good time to ask just exactly what it is we do for a living.

If you are not familiar with what a logger does in the woods, Thompson's quote of "Climbing across logs and mud all day is what I do for a living" pretty much sums a very difficult job.

The areas they work in are not the nicely treed backyards or parks most of us think of. They are steep and dangerous mountain terrain that has often never been cut before. Danger is everywhere.

Can you imagine the physical and mental strength it takes to arise at 4 AM in the dark every morning, ride in a bus 2 hours, arrive at the work site where it is unbearably cold in winter and torturously hot in summer?

Could you trudge through mud all day jumping over logs sometime taller than yourself all while dragging heavy metal cables behind you? And after 8-10 hours of brutal work, you get to ride 2 hours home, collapse into bed only to get up the next morning at 4 AM to start again.

While silicone valley gets the press, and corporate workers get the perks it is loggers and hundreds of professions like them who actually make America work. It is refreshing to see even that small quote in the Seattle Times acknowledge that at least these people know exactly what it is they do for a living.

If you are a lawyer sitting at a desk are you an attorney, or do you help people right wrongs?

If you serve food in a restaurant are you a waiter or are you trying to make people happy?

If you work in a bank, are you counting money or protecting it for your customers?

To what extent would you go to perform you job? Could you call it - as young Thompson - "just what I do for a living?"

Luckily, most of us will never come face to face with situations as dire as those in Oso. But now is a good time to think ahead, decide what you would do in such situations and realize that in your own world, in your own job there is more you can do and people you can serve.

Thompson said that he has already marked several dead bodies and dug out at least one that authorities had extracted from the scene. He had also recovered family photo albums, jewelry and sentimental possessions from the debris.

A State Patrol spokesman acknowledged Tuesday that these area residents were well-equipped to aid in the effort because of their work in the local logging industry. Several used their dump trucks, tractors, trailers and other equipment to get through wreckage. "Frankly, their experience is highly valued."

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0361 – 04/08/14

Varoom Vacation Rental Cooperative Springs to Life

By William May
Published: 02/23/14 Topics: Comments: 0

After two years of work the world's first Cooperative for By Owner Vacation Rentals has just launched online at - and -

We hope you will like what we've done because its sole purpose is to help guests and rental owners find each other in ways that might not otherwise be able. This is a novel approach to helping Rent by Owners fills unoccupied dates by coordinating guest requests between managers, who have too many requests and owners who would like to fill them.

For Guests

Even with the thousands of advertising websites catering to vacation rental owners, guests often search in vain to find the perfect accommodations. On our guest website at we list each and every rental in the Varoom program.

There are cabins, condos, houses and villas to choose from. Booking online is easy, or guests can inquire, email or telephone for quick service. The website is easy to navigate and make online bookings.

For Property Owners

Booking through Varoom is cheaper, easier and more flexible than expensive paid listings. And this blog is here just to keep Guests, Owners, Managers and others up to date on everything we are doing to help grow the industry.

For owners, the system is collaborative in nature. Varoom works on a non-exclusive basis meaning owners are free to accept bookings from any other party with no fee to the Co-op. Owners only insure a commission to Varoom when they accept bookings and make money.

We'll be the first to tell you that no single marketing will fill a property with a never ending list of prospective guests. But Varoom can fill in the gaps and match inquisitive guests with helpful owners.

Penny Taylor, Varoom Sales Manager said, "There is no up front fee, a long-term contract is not required and property owners can pick and choose when to accept bookings. This is completely flexible for owners."

Varoom attracts visitors with extensive advertising, newsletters, email campaigns and a robust easy to use website. Varoom does the upfront work of posting homes into its system and offers an easy to use interface for coordinating dates, rates and bookings.

But Varoom also cooperates with local managers who often have excess inquiries and insufficient inventory to satisfy every guest. Even owners listed with managers are allowed to submit to Varoom because it does not compete with managers, but cooperates with them.

Steve Fletcher is a long-time property owner, renowned business consultant and member of the Varoom Board of Advisors. "By sharing in a mutually profitable way, guests, owners and managers all benefit, This kind of collaboration has always been a hallmark to a successful business."

The Future

Please join us today. And check back regularly to see more developments. We'll keep you posted on everything Vacation Rental. Feel free to send us your comments and suggestions.

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Varoom was built and is operated by experience vacation rental professionals to meet the still unfulfilled opportunity of the Internet to divert traveler's into comfortable, convenient cost effective vacation homes as an alternative to costly hotels.

To list your property just fill out the inquiry form or contact us:

Penny Taylor
PO Box 22987 Seattle, WA 98122
Voice: 866-674-6652
Fax: 888-628-0839
For Owners:
For Guests:

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0352 – 02/23/14

Like Happy Lemmings to the Seahawk

By William May
Published: 02/06/14 Topics: Seattle, Sports Comments: 0

As I drove my wife and son to downtown Seattle from our home just 20 blocks to the East, the traffic, usually light, was oppressive. On every side street thousands of people were streaming down the hill like lemmings to the sea. Sidewalks were so full, entire families walked down the middle of the auto jammed streets.

On the gigantic ferries that bring vehicles into Seattle, many walk-on passengers arrived before dawn to get a seat among the other thousands sailing, but many had to wait up to three crossings just to get a standing room only ticket. They worried they would be too late.

From North and South, state patrol troopers said automobile traffic on the 8 lane Interstate freeways were in grid lock for ten miles on each side of the city. Drives and passengers stood outside their cars unable to continue to what was then the center of the universe

As my car inched across an overpass, a roar erupted from the thousands of nearby people as they screamed, shook their fists, and waved flags at several buses that were then inching along the freeway below they headed for Seattle. Emergency lights were blinking on the buses, while they were accompanied by a police escort. Every pedestrian stopped to stare and scream. Cars stopped, occupants jumped out to join in the screaming, leaving their cars running with doors wide open.

The city seems to have succeeded from the United States, all visible American flags were gone and replaced with odd new flags. All in green and blue sporting a giant number 12 emblazoned on them.

The day before the Seattle School Superintendent had announced that no student absences would be tolerated today but quickly changed his mind after getting thousands of angry messages - including a tweet from the Mayor.

Later it was reported that 25% of the students in the region called in sick with a mysterious form of hysteria . As did workers from major corporations, big companies and small. In all, over 750,000 people converged on a short street in the middle of a town bathed in cold temperatures but brilliantly blue skies.

Getting anywhere near the city center was impossible, so I dropped by family off close to downtown and headed back up the hill to my office. It was eerie. I felt like the only car driving East away from town. Stopping at a large coffee shop I was delighted to find the place empty, no line.

The barista asked if I was a football fan. "No," I said, "Is that what's going on?"

"Are you kidding me?" he asked with disbelief. All that hub bub out there are the fans happily going to attend a parade that will feature their Seahawks football team. A group made up of long suffering veterans, players selected low in the draft when other teams felt them unworthy, and numerous draft choices that were ridiculed by pundits.

It seemed that the Seahawks last Sunday had just won the biggest sporting event in the United States - the Super Bowl. Hopes were high all year, but the Seahawks dominated games and unexpectedly overpowered a team who promised to dispatch Seattle with ease. Nothing motivates like disrespect, and Seattle dispatched the Denver Bronco team 43 to 8, coming close to shutting out a team favored to trounce them.

Their coach took an unusual approach by preparing a team who never allowed themselves to say that winning the top title was their goal. They decided it far simpler and far more direct to purely set a record of One win and no loss in every game. Each game would take care of the next.

In the title game, they made it just another game and one in which they were completely prepared to simply go One win and no loss.

In fact, the annual celebration that in other sports would be called a world championship, is only a Super Bowl for American football because it has been unique to North America.

In recent years teams have traveled to England for games and plans are afield to let other destinations experience what America has known for so long - American football exhibits much of what is great about America.

Thus being that working together works best. That persevering is always worth the pain. That no one should ever let anyone else define them, or limit them, or disrespect them. Every child who watched today's parade in person or saw it on the televisions that were on in every home and every business, learned something important.

It was voiced by the team leader quarterback, in the words of his recently deceased father. When this player was told he was too small, too slow and didn't fit in anywhere, he remembered the words of his father who said, "Why not you Russell? Why not?"

Sports are an opportunity for every citizen in the region to smile, remember and share. It makes people lively while appreciating others. Lastly, it makes people happy and what could be better than that?

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Author: William May
Blog #: 0345 – 02/06/14