5/23/2014

5/16/2014

Weekly Update

I still haven't moved my blog! It's been a crazy busy week, and I haven't looked once at my new website. But I have decided against paying someone $300-400 to move the blogger blog. I'll do it myself. I'll probably lose page hits and, dear readers, if you wish to keep following me, you will need to link to my new site and subscribe from there. I'll give you the link when I've done the migration.

Why did I decide not to pay someone $300-400 to move it for me? Well, that's a lot of money! Especially when it's extra money that we don't have.  

What kept me from the internet this week? Several things. Among them, trips to garden centers, purchasing and planting. The weather's been gorgeous.

Also, my father-in-law is turning ninety. We're having a big shebang for him tomorrow, Saturday. I made a large memory board for him filled with pictures from his life.

My own father is turning 89. Their birthdays are only a week apart. My dad and my sister and her husband are driving across the state to attend the party. Since we're celebrating a 90th birthday, it seems we should also celebrating an 89th. We'll do that for dad tonight. What a time of celebrating it's been -- a week book-ended with Mother's Day and birthdays.

Lastly, we've spent more time than usual with our good friends, who are contemplating a big move. Normally we see them about once a week, or once every two weeks.

Lately we've been seeing them about twice a week. These are our closest, dearest friends, who we've known for 30 years. He retired a couple weeks ago. Now that there is no job keeping them here, they're thinking seriously about buying a house with an airplane hangar about twenty feet from the back door.

It's also a three-hour drive, or a 45 minute flight away. We'll probably see them a half-dozen times a year, or a dozen at absolute best.

It also looks like the biggest conflict they've faced in their marriage. Or if it were Mike and me, that would be the case. Maybe it doesn't look like a marriage conflict to her. But from my viewpoint, there is nothing in it for her, considering the beautiful life they've built here, their beautiful home, their church, their friends, and the general loveliness of living on the Palouse.

They'd be moving to a barren desert with no guarantees of building an equal or better life, but only possibilities. Maybe there will be a good church ... new friends ...

When Job lost everything, God did give him a second life, so to speak--new faces, a new family, replaced the old. But wouldn't he have been just as happy, or happier, to have kept the first life and family that he loved so much?

So will they do it? We'll know in a couple weeks. They've been contemplating the move for the past year. I suspect a decision will be made fairly soon.

That's been my week. How was yours?




5/11/2014

Happy Mother's Day

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12, NIV)

The photo is by Peruvian artist Albert Lynch.

My mother's funeral was two years ago today, although I lost her to Alzheimer's more like 18 years ago. When I think about her, I still miss her and probably always will.
I hope I have honored her with my life. 

If we raise our children right, they will honor us. That was my hope when I was raising my children, and they have honored me. They've had trials, for sure, as all people do, and will continue to. 

But they are good, God-loving, hard-working and honest people. I'm proud of them and how well they're dealing with their lives and struggles. 

I'm also lucky enough to have all three children living nearby! The men of the family had planned to take us ladies down to the river for a picnic today, but my daughter (with three children) protested, saying there would be nothing relaxing about that! Not when us gals would have to prepare the picnic and look after the young children as they played in the water. 

My daughter-in-law and I decided to let MaryAnn decide what a relaxing Mother's Day would be. The three of us (my younger daughter is working) are going to see Heaven is Real, and then the whole family--husbands, kids/grandkids will meet up to eat at a local restaurant for dinner. 


As to my weekly update--I still haven't migrated this blog to my new website. I'm ready for it. There are things on the website that are waiting for the imported posts, so I can link to them. But after seeing too many occurrences of what WordPress calls "the white screen of death," and after reading five tutorials about a DIY migration, I've decided to hire it out. I don't want to mess with my WordPress HTML or my Blogger HTML, which will be necessary for the redirect. 

The white screen of death occurs when you're trying to load a plugin that doesn't jive with your WordPress theme, and also for other reasons. I've seen it a half-dozen times in the past three weeks. Fortunately, I've never been locked out of my site and needed to use FTP to get back into it. (That would be yet one more headache.)

When the migration occurs, you should be automatically redirected into the new site. There should be no need to resubscribe, as far as I understand. It should be seamless.  

So that's where I'm at. How was your week? What are you doing for Mother's Day? 





5/04/2014

The Sunday Salon



Today, I am happy to say that my new website is coming along. I predict that before next Sunday, I will have imported this blog into my self-hosted WordPress site, with fingers crossed as to it happening seamlessly.

A week ago, I expressed my frustrations about learning how to develop my WordPress site. There were countless frustrations this past week too. But I read piles of information, and  I now seem to have crossed a line, and am actually having fun with it.

I’ve been keeping a loose diary of the evolution of my knowledge. Here are some of the things I learned, and have done, in the past two weeks, with all my cries of frustration edited out!

***

Page background and Homepage Slider: I started out thinking I could get a background image from Cutest Blog on the Block or Shabby blogs. When I didn’t find anything suitably professional, I learned about a wonderful website with tile-able images and spent a considerable amount of time choosing a half-dozen I liked best out of hundreds of possibilities. I chose a background color and then spent a considerable amount of time selecting a couple hundred images from those that I've been collecting over the years for a possible slideshow on the homepage.

The images will serve as a placeholder until I have book covers to advertise in that spot. 

The images will also be used in blog posts. Highly targeted in style, they will help to create my brand.

As to the page background, I eventually decided not to use a tile-able image, after all. Tile-able images are small, but even so, they slow page load speed. I’m now using a solid color background with a subtle overlay instead, and it looks quite nice.

I had intended to change the images with the seasons, which I still plan to do. Instead of changing the background image each time, I’ll simply change the color.

So now I’m all done being concerned about the use of color on my site!

After that, I swiftly learned that choosing colors and images to create my brand was hardly scratching the surface of everything I needed to know.

For example, what theme to choose? I had no prior knowledge of WordPress themes (free or premium), and so I needed to do my homework and zero in on the type of theme I wanted. That’s a little like deciding whether to buy a Cadillac or a Ferrari or a Jeep.

Not only do you need to decide on your theme, you need to decide on the framework beneath the theme. Frameworks are akin to engines. I looked over the engine possibilities and knew that for me, it was between Thesis and Genesis. After doing a sufficient amount of reading, I decided on Genesis.

Then I decided I like Elegant Themes by Studio Press, all of which come with a Genesis framework.  Of the 69 choices, all of which I bought for $69 total, I found four that I really liked.

My next step was to buy a domain name and decide on a web host. Who to go with? GoDaddy? BlueHost? Numerous other possibilities? I decided to go with BlueHost, and I committed to them for one year.

I have since learned that these are considered third-party hosts. They are cheaper than going with WP Host or several other premium hosting sites, but at the cost of page load speed. 
You want your website to load, ideally, in less than TWO seconds. If it loads from TWO to SIX seconds, you should look for ways to increase load speed. If your site takes longer than that to load, you seriously need to make some changes. The easiest but most expensive way is not to go with a third-party host. For me, that would mean going from paying $72/annually (with BlueHost) to $360/annually with WP Host, for example.  
My site was loading at 2.77 seconds, and I wasn't about to change hosts, so I decided to read about to how to increase load speed without going with a more expensive provider. Most suggestions involved nothing more than installing a variety of (free) plugins to my WP website. I was able to get load speed down to 1.77 seconds
I must admit, also, that load speed is quite variable, even when taking measurements only a few seconds apart. So I’m not going to worry about it anymore. I optimized my site. My speed is just fine. 

Back to the themes: I bought a domain name, chose a host, and downloaded WordPress (from WordPress.org) into my BlueHost C-Panel. Then I imported my four favorite themes into an empty shell of a website. I quickly decided I liked the Chameleon theme best, and began populating it with useful plugins, and also customizing it.

Here are some of the things I needed to learn how to do, and which I have now successfully (after a lot of hair-pulling) done:


  1. Successfully made and installed a favicon! 
  2. Successfully made and installed my logo! 
  3. Successfully added a live signature. 
  4. Successfully added numerous plugins, after doing a lot of research about plugins. (Plugins improve back-end functionality in countless ways.)  
  5. Successfully added several widgets. (Widgets are similar to what we use in blogger when we populate our sidebars.)
  6. Wrote up quotes for the homepage, although am not yet finished with the design of the page.
  7. Wrote the About page, and the Contact page. 
  8. Learned how to create blog posts in WP. (Lots of options there.)
  9. Burned a feed with Feedburner and signed up for Google Analytics. 
  10. Created and installed clickable social media icons and linked them to their respective SM sites. 


Where I’m at now: I am now learning how to use shortcodes. (These don't exist in blogger, and I'm not sure yet how, or even if, I will use them, but they look very interesting!)

***

Other things I've done:

Blogspot blog:

  1. Spruced up my labels and then created categories in WP that are the exact match. I still have 49 labels, but I should be able to nest some of them, and add tags, in WP. 
  2. Dumped 100 blogger posts, as they were not in line with where I want to go with my new website, i.e. my brand. (I’ve done this several times over the years, as my blogging M.O. has evolved.) 
  3. Got stats on all posts, grouped by labels, for information as to which labels have been the most popular over the years.   


There is still much, much more to do, and my husband’s question rings in my ears: Why am I creating a website, when my blogger blog is just fine? He’s not concerned about the expense, as it’s been minimal: less than $250 (as opposed to hiring it done, at a cost of $2500 or more). He’s more curious about why I've gone to all the trouble.

There are several answers:

  1. Most published authors have a bona-fide website, as opposed to a blog, as it looks more professional. My "given" was that I would choose a website. 
  2. As to whether to hire it out or do it myself, I wanted to do it myself, and not only because of the money savings. I wanted to be able to make any changes and not have to rely on a web designer who would charge for his services, and do it at his convenience, not mine. 
  3. As to why I'm doing it now and not after signing a book contract, there will be too many other considerations needing my attention at that time. 
  4. And,when all is said and done, I love taking on new challenges. I love the process: learning, experimenting, experiencing failures (hair-pulling!) and successes (the satisfaction that I figured something out). 


So, Mike and everyone, that's why I am doing it, even though I have a perfectly fine blog.


How was your week?

4/30/2014

Zulu


Zulu

When pilots get on the radio and talk to other pilots, or a control tower, or an Air Traffic Control Center, they have to identify themselves by using their "N" number. The "N" number of our airplane is N708X.

Sometimes radio communication is quite indistinct, and certain letters might not be heard correctly. Therefore, all pilots use the Aviation Phonetic Alphabet to identify letters.

My husband would say, "Tower, this is November 7-0-8 X-ray," and the tower wouldn't be confused, thinking he might've said "M708X."


The letter for Z is Zulu, and this ends my A-Z Challenge with the theme of Flight Terminology. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing about flying--this passion of my husband's and mine--and its terminology.



Have you ever had reason to learn the Aviation Phonetic Alphabet?





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