Disclaimer: This weblog contains many tedious and repetitious bits as well as a few gems of useful web lackey info and amusing turns of phrase. It stands as a monument to the need for editing and is a glimpse into a simple but over-tired heart trying to succeed when pitted against the giants of the Internet. Nancy Kamp
January 4, 2002: Spongy Spur-Galled Scut Titles are sometimes the most interesting part of this weblog. Now, I've discovered an automatic system of title generation thanks to Chris Seidel, who is clearly an Internet pioneer of the best sort. His Shakespeare Insulter at <http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/> is a delightful dose of the best/worst the bard has to offer.
And since today's rant is directed at FrontPage (what else?), who better than Shakespeare himself to describe my feelings most colourfully (colorfully).
Recently forced to purchase FrontPage 2002, I clay-brainly expected the bugs would be gone. Yeah, right. Instead when I used the link checking tool, I found good links listed as bad and vice versa. So while I at least have an indication of where to look - and with over 15,000 links, an indication is a help - I still have to manually check each possibility. Oh, the earth-vexing stink of it. I'll be doing this forever.
January 14, 2002: Anointing by Guinea Pig While attempting to read* myself to sleep, I stumbling across the fascinating fact that anointing by guinea pig is a common Andean cure. AND (here's where I fess up) in my capacity as web lackey, I attempted to insert this choice bit of info into the Health and Beauty section of our Jane Marie pages.
Obviously, neither Jane Marie nor her target audience would have been impressed or enthralled. If we're going to make this multi-niche website work, I must restrain my bizarre impulses. And consider adding a guinea pig to the staff.
*Tahir Shah's Trail of Feathers.
January 15, 2002: Tailectomy The smaller the staff, the greater the interest in the problems of coworkers. And so with great sadness, we must report that our SCE, senior canine editor, is having her tail removed this very day.
It is believed an old and protuberant tick scar became inflamed and seriously infected - a condition greatly aggravated by SCE's habit of licking herself.
I miss my dog and want her to be healing, safe at home from the vet. I know there are greater tragedies in today's world than a pampered pooch receiving medical care, but this is the one I've got. Come to think of it, I am very grateful for the wonders of this modern world. I just wish everyone who needed help could find it as easily as one old dog has.
January 16, 2002: Doughnuts and Feet My daughter recently visited a business that smelled like doughnuts and feet. Since I'm not currently naming rock bands - but will if you ask - I thought this would make a great title for the weblog.
January 17, 2002: Good as Gold I've learned to be a pretty darn good photographer and can talk the talk about the Internet as well as the next person, but I don't always grasp the fundamentals (how you ACTUALLY make things work) of technology with ease and flair.
Enter Gordon Stamp of GordonsGold.com. (The site no longer belongs to Gordon and has changed since this weblog was written.) Gordon's extensive site specializes in rounding up the latest in online money making opportunities - the good, the bad and the scandalous. And Gordon, in his infinite wisdom and kindness, choose our site as one with which he wished to link his own.
The problem is I've only ever done text links, but I wanted to have a banner on GordonsGold.com. So I tried to design one using my beloved FrontPage. The result was not unappealing - it just wasn't usable.
Fortunately, Gordon threw a little gem together and the day has been saved.
UPDATE: Gordon tells me he lost his domain name, but will launch a new site in a few months. NK 3/18/02
January 21, 2002: We Have a Dream It seems appropriate to salute Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today because he is a symbol of the possibilities we all can aspire toward. If his goals were universal - opportunity and respect for everyone, it is only because of people like Dr. King that the rest of us are more free to pursue our merry and simplistic dreams of journalistic and financial success.
When I was a child, a fortune teller revealed that I would either be a secretary, nurse or teacher. Those were the options. I actually did teach school (Spanish, history, art and spelling - 4th through 8th grade) for a year and still do lead adult seminars (Diversity, Teamwork, Customer Service), but now I'm a writer and a bootstrapping entrepreneur. I'm putting the pieces together for a business that will stand or fall on its own merits. And no one cares if I'm a woman in partnership with another woman. Or that we're making this up as we go along. Pretty heady stuff.
Thank you, Dr. King
"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 23, 2002: My Turn, My Turn May I suggest a visit to Alien Abductions <alienabductions.com>? Their opening reads: "Thousands of individuals are abducted by extraterrestrial beings each year. Who do the aliens choose, and why haven't they chosen you?" They offer simulated memory implants under the slogan "If they won't contact you, contact us!"
Wish I'd thought of this one.
February 4, 2002: The Ice Age Cometh One would think the reward for being a good citizen and loading tax software during an ice storm would be something nice, but no. In the midst of the process, our power went out and stayed out for four days!
Lack of electricity plays hell with SOHO (small office home office) life. You can't go into work to get warm and catch up on your e-mail. (I checked mail at the public library, but that is not satisfactory.)
I've never taken the opportunity to investigate power backup systems for computers. I believe I could have kept working for another hour or so if I'd had one, but my circumstances would have made that impossible: rapidly dropping temperature, unhappy kids and pets/staff that needed care. Still a laptop would have been a lifesaver, so I'm putting one on my SOHO wish list.
I still think running water is the greatest gift of technology, but it sure is nice to be back at the keyboard.
February 7, 2002: Pizza Spinning I had gotten to that stage in last night's pizza making where I had to pre-bake the shell when I realized a home-based business, like any enterprise, succeeds because of preparation. Sort of the "train hard, fight easy" school of commerce.
Failure to keep one eye open at all times can have unpleasant or even disastrous results. Witness the farmer in Alva, OK who left his excitable dog Rancher in the pickup while he, Lyle Sneary, went to check on a fallen cow. Even though Mr. Sneary left a window down in case Rancher managed to step on the automatic lock button, he couldn't get back to the truck in time to prevent Rancher from knocking the truck's gearshift out of park and sending it into a tree.
We small business owners can't think of everything, but clearly we need to try.
February 11, 2002: Aspirin and OJ I've had the flu for about eleven years now and my dreams feature lots of peach silk. When I'm awake, I either read children's books (nothing else is left) that my daughter recommends or watch TV. However when my snow dazzled eyes demanded a program that was not populated with healthy Olympic hopefuls, I stumbled on the movie Thunderheart.
Thunderheart reminded me of my long lost friend, Charlene, who worked with Russell Means and the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the '70s. This in turn (remember, I have a fever - the logic makes perfect sense to me) made me realize that I will surely lose touch with the good folks like George* who let us know we had bad links to the staff photos.
Since upgrading to FrontPage 2002, I have been neglecting to make frequent checks for file:///, which FrontPage inserts into links on new pages that have never been saved. Sure enough, the site was lightly dusted with bad links of this ilk.
The point is I got careless, but feedback saved the day. You can't always count on feedback to set you right, but it's good to know how many nice people there are - even if our paths never cross again.
*We also heard from Roy of SEVENtwentyfour Inc., a link checking service with a free trial we're going to investigate.
March 1, 2002: Copyright This Some of you have wondered why we have a copyright notice at the bottom of every page. Simple. Unless the proper technology is in place, it's easy to copy a web page and with a few changes, you can make that copied material your own.
Since we pride ourselves on our original content, since we make our livings selling our words, and since I personally have had to deal with the theft of my work by a major sports organization (I was told it was unintentional, but that doesn't put gas in the old Tercel), we want to remind visitors that they can read to their hearts' content, but they CANNOT reproduce what they find on this site.
Now if you want to pay a reasonable syndication/licensing fee, let's talk.
March 4, 2002: Chainsaw Cheers My husband more or less spent the weekend watching a chainsaw competition on TV. Apparently, there are techniques and tricks to this fine sport that require a skilled commentator, cheering fans and the stenciling of the name of the sponsor onto the end of each log before it is cut. Who knew?
March 6, 2002: Mandarin Fish My dentist has a mandarin fish so I actually like going to his office - well, I like going to his waiting room. This is relevant because I've been trying to develop a screen play involving an award ceremony, and the all important award ceremony dress for the main character is based on my dentist's fish, which happens to be red, deep (but not navy) blue, aqua and celery.
March 15, 2002: Banners Blazing An impulse trip to the corner office supply store* (I was down to glaring yellow highlighters and needed some softer colors to ease the eye strain.), led to the purchase of the latest edition of PrintMaster in a misunderstanding of the box copy. (I thought "banner" meant website banner, not the big paper thing you tack up over a door when you want to honor someone and kill a lot of trees.) Also, I got the thing for half price because of some weird March 14th holiday at the Office Depot corporate office.
Anyway, as is normal when a new piece of software comes along, I ripped open the package, installed PrintMaster and did cool stuff - this software has some nice photo editing tools that will improve the look of the photos on the site.
Once I got back the new software insanity out of my system, I went back online in my never ending quest to find cheap (free) banner software. I installed and deleted BannerMaker Pro and Xara Webstyle because both made nice banners I couldn't save and use. After all, who wants to pay for shareware that the average web lackey can't work?
Somehow I discovered FreeBackgrounds.com where they list FREE banner generating sites. I made several that you can check out on our Banner page.
One, from Quickbanner.com, may be controversial. Please tell us what you think about using the American flag as a banner. WE think this one is tasteful and respectful, but we'd like to know your opinion.
March 18, 2002: Snot on Legs In last month's weblog (scroll up to February 4), I wrote about the ice storm that knocked out our power and killed our trees. (Like many of our neighbors, we still have a huge mound of timber out front that the city has apparently decided to leave as bear habitat rather than pick up as promised.) What I may not have mentioned is that in our days without electricity, I managed to get an illness that involved sinus distress. In other words, mucous became my friend and close companion, and it still has not departed for whatever wonderland it inhabits when it's not streaming out of my nose. In short, I have been Snot on Legs since the beginning of February and that has made all the difference.
March 22, 2002: Ends and Odds Our free month with SEVENtwentyfour is over. They found a few bad links for which I'm grateful, but I wouldn't pay $299 for the link checking service. And instead of using one of our keywords for search engine rank checking, they choose the phrase "rent a writer." I had the option of e-mailing a word, but we're not paying for ranking so I know we're low on the common keywords one might associate with this site. Besides, it was quite a pleasure to be #5 on Yahoo! with any keyword other than my name.
SEVENtwentyfour charges $199 for "Search Engine Protection," an additional $199 for "Search Engine Optimization" and "PageChecking" is also $199. I will not be signing up with this company though at some point I hope we're ready for outside help. Without any further investigation, I think the right course will be to check out the highly regarded WebPositionGold software and it's competition.
PS Our thanks to Barbara for her suggestions about the GraciousJaneMarie home page. I made a few changes - about which JM will have something to say - and I can see we need to work on this.
March 27, 2002: Dear Wayne Since this week's holidays, Passover and Easter are non shopping events (except for the food and the cute baby animals no one should buy anyway) it seems only reasonable that I should be obsessing over our CafeShops stores.
I even sent an e-mail to Wayne Yeager of Trafficology in the hope that he's still paying big bucks for ideas and that he hasn't seen this one yet. In the interest of laziness, here it is:
April 1, 2002: Going Digital Again Once upon a time, I experimented with an early digital camera, but a visit to King Neptune (it fell off a pier - don't ask) didn't do the poor thing much good. Recently, my trusty 35mm Nikon turned up its toes and I've been relying on one-use cameras. They have yielded some surprisingly good photos (please scroll up to February 4) that are sometimes suitable for this site but do not produce magazine quality shots.
With the coming of spring and the need to turn out better pics, I decided it was time to get serious and get a new digital camera. Naturally the next day I read an article detailing a new photo technology that would make digital cameras obsolete within the year.
Too bad. I'm getting a new digital camera. And this is how I selected the make and model:
Next time, I'll detail my shopping tips. Once I get the thing, I'll detail the features that made the Kodak DX3900 a winner for the money.
April 3, 1002: Choosing Up In the heady days of early ecommerce, this new channel for accessing consumer wallets was hailed as a quick road to riches. But when the net imploded, it became clear that many online shoppers were mainly using the Internet for research and might or might not make an actual purchase with a mouse click. Just like me.
Having determined to get a new, moderately priced digital camera, I surfed for model info and decided to buy a Kodak DX3900. Then I looked for a place to spend my money.
The prices I noted in the which-camera-to-buy search were significantly less online than those being featured in my Sunday (ugh) newspaper, the rag we subscribe to for the local ads. (The OKC paper is regularly rated the worst in the country.)
My first step was to consult all the major shopping bots.
Even with a $19.95 shipping fee, mySimon turned up the best deal on the camera itself ($286 from buydig*). Now we wait for what will come - sooner rather than later, I hope. Or BizRate will want to know all about it.
*The buydig purchasing experience comes with an optional BizRate survey - skip it unless you want to tell them everything about you in exchange for some free magazines that are automatically renewed on your credit card.
April 5, 2002: Bunny Ears I have somehow convinced my children that all chocolate Easter bunny ears belong to me. And as I sit here munching on the last of my ill gotten loot, I am amazed by one more thing:
The cost of a suicide bombing is $4200 according to documents seized by the Israelis in Ramallah!
I have long thought the best mediator for the whole mess would be the Dalai Lama:
However, the current Dalai Lama has been ill lately and his successor will most likely be a small child. Plus, the climate change would probably not be pleasant for either the Dalai Lama or his staff.
Besides, who's going to consider a suggestion from an admitted chocolate hustler?*
*In my defense, I virtuously baked cookies for the Gifted Education carnival today. On the other hand, my kids may be smart, but I can still con them out of their bunny ears.
April 8, 2002: Stress and Taxes This should have been a weblog to remember. The original version was a scintillating masterpiece of wit and sage advice, which I seem to have deleted.
Naturally, I blame everything on someone one else - in this case the good folks at Turbo Tax. Their tax software refused to allow me to make changes on a tax form. I attempted to make my correction on a worksheet as directed seven times , and the result was always another error. I couldn't even delete the form as directed because the Edit drop down menu did not contain the Delete This Form* selection Turbo Tax said was there.
At that point, Turbo Tax indicated that it might not transmit my error-packed return electronically. Or if it did, it would tell the IRS that I was evil and required an audit. Clearly I would have to mail in the return. Again.**
As the Battle of the Error Corrections raged on, the ink cartridge on the printer went dry. I didn't bother to look for a spare because I was sure I hadn't bought one. (Wrong, but who knew?) This wouldn't have been a big deal, but my husband had chosen to leave town bright and early on the morning after Daylight Saving Time went into effect, and I had to get his signature on a fully corrected, nicely printed tax return before he caught his flight.
Unfortunately, Saturday night's massive thunderstorm continued to rattle the windows on Sunday morning and caused me to periodically shut down the computer. With nothing else to do, I made a mad dash for Wal-Mart - between lightening bolts - bought an ink jet cartridge and came home to help hubby pack.
Then TRIUMPH. The storm hesitated, the PC was back in business and my guy was able to sign his perfectly prepared tax return and head to the airport.
But what is the likelihood that the car will start*** this morning? After all, the nearest post office is only three miles away. And it's raining again. Place your bets.
*All I wanted to do was change the name of an asset to include "- junked" to make it clear that I had made no profit on its disposal. Ordinarily you can salvage something from an old PC, but this one died an ugly death and was a goner from case to hard drive.
**Last year my return was electronically rejected because I mixed up the kids' Social Security numbers. Mea culpa.
***The car started. My younger daughter missed the bus and had to be driven to school. She had changed her clock to reflect the new time, but hadn't set her alarm.
April 10, 2002: Death Wish Yesterday, I heard a Palestinian tell NPR that if things didn't get better in his part of the world, he would order his two daughters, ages four and five, to become suicide bombers.
My news, on the other hand, is that the digital camera arrived Monday and I've had just a few minutes to play with it. In other words, no new pics for this site of 504 web pages (today's count) for a day or two.
It's easy for me to get swallowed up by the endless tasks and responsibilities of the SOHO* life. But when the real world sticks its vicious head into my consciousness, I am brutally reminded that not so much of life is blissfully online as I sometimes think.
I can't be a responsible adult without attempting to understand the broad issues that ebb and flow through these, our trying times. But I wouldn't be the dreamer that I am if I didn't wish that we could have peace in our time. And that the parents of little girls weren't looking at them thoughtfully and considering how they would look as exploded pieces of meat.
*Small office, home office.
April 12, 2002: Novocain I was so heavily mediated on a recent trip to the dentist that hours later, I will swear I saw a chimp with a black belt in karate on Animal Planet.
April 15, 2002: Point and Shoot You're not seeing the fruit of the digital camera because I haven't had time to mess with it. I can report the docking stationing works very nicely as does the battery charger - both charge batteries, which seem to have a very short lifespan.
It would have helped if I hadn't been mislead by Kodak into thinking that my software was compatible with XP. Apparently, what was on the box and what went into the box were not coordinated. Never fear, I'll just uninstall, reinstall and upgrade. Oh, joy.
April 17, 2002: Black Panther There's a very large kitty running loose in the wilds of Oklahoma, and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up. Is it getting ready to pounce on me? Or do I need to continue the slow but orderly progress I am making and ignore the meowing I've been hearing in my head?
April 19, 2002: April 19th Seven years ago about this time I watched smoke drift across the sky here in Oklahoma City without knowing that a cycle of tragedy had begun. This morning I was pleased to loan some jewelry to Melanie, my younger daughter's friend's sister's friend, to wear to the prom.
There was a song in the original version of The Thomas Crown Affair* about "a circle in a spiral and a wheel within a wheel" that I've always interpreted to mean that everything is tied together - proms, terror, friendship, the Internet. I write to you and compliment your site, and you link to mine. So simple, so clean when we leave out the evil parts.
*The song, The Windmills of Your Mind, may have been used in the remake as well, but I've never gotten around to seeing it.
April 22, 2002: Owner of Men's Necks I just got some e-mail addressed to "Nancy Kemp, LHE." The source was a local mailing list to which I had never subscribed. But I once wrote an article about the business in question and wish them well so I'm not too mad that they spam me on a monthly basis.
Without addressing the misspelling of my name at all, I'd like to point your attention to the "LHE" portion of the address. This is my self-awarded professional title and if you know your Mikado, you can figure it out.
One of the perks of being your own boss is that you get to call yourself anything you like. Darius III, the Persian king of kings defeated by Alexander the Great, called himself "owner of men's necks," which I would appropriate if I thought I could get away with it with a straight face.
The beauty of using an unusual title is that some people will actually look twice at your business card AND REMEMBER YOU. And that's why you had the cards printed up in the first place, right?
Last year, my friend, Professor Marcia, was discussing the use of business cards in one her university classes when someone mentioned she had met an LHE (me!) several years previously. That title had fixed me in the student's mind as surely as if I'd had glowing blue hair and an extra leg.
April 24, 2002: Scammed Oh, I am so embarrassed. I have allowed myself to fall victim to a sinister plot.
When I got a domain name renewal notice from VeriSign, I was surprised because I had never done business with them before. How was it, I wondered, that they assumed control of my domain names?
I stupidly thought that the original registering company had sold me out for a tidy profit since VeriSign's renewal prices were much higher than I remembered paying to register each domain. Naturally, I stuffed everything into a pile of bills and went back to work on my taxes.
Bill paying time finally rolled around, and the looming deadline on the VeriSign invoice motivated me to pay up. I never took the time to investigate things either by contacting VeriSign anywhere but on their website or by contacting the company that had set up my domains in the first place.
Several weeks later issue #192 of the SitePoint Tribune confirmed what I had dimly suspected. They said:
"VeriSign Wants You To 'Renew' Domains That You Didn't Register With Them
a popular domain registrar, has posted a notice on their Website, which in part states:
Yesterday's mail brought a new expiration notice from VeriSign for four more of my domains. This time I am going directly to Hostica.com to handle the renewals. They're inexpensive, efficient, and have served us well both as a domain registrar and in directing (pointing) visitors to the pages they expect to find within greenlightWRITE.com when they type in domains like GraciousJaneMarie.com or MadWebLackey.com. Hostica deserves the loyalty I was panicked out of giving them. It won't happen again.
April 26, 2002: Office Supplies Once you've been in business for a while, your name shows up on the odd list and you start to get junk mail of the postal variety.
For example, American Express sent me a refusable offer that said I was pre-approved for something or other, which would entitle me to a 20% discount on my Citysearch listing. Naturally, this led me to investigate Citysearch.
With no marketing budget and a keen desire to test Citysearch's effectiveness, I began the sign up process for a free listing.
All went well until I came to the drop down menus. I choose to be listed under "Business Services" because I provide business services. Next, I HAD to choose specific services that my company provides. This would have been fine if the selections had had anything to do with press releases or newsletters or articles or some kind of writing. There were no choices to be made that had anything to do with what I do.
So I went back to that first drop down menu, reselected each option and then tried to find something that approximated freelance writing in the resulting secondary menus.
The closest choice was "Personal Services," which produced a secondary list that included "Resume Writing." However, I stopped writing resumés several years ago when I noticed that the general public doesn't always pay promptly or even at all for writing services.
Back to "Business Services." My best secondary menu choice was suddenly clear. We will be listed under "Business Services" - "Office Supplies." After all, what office doesn't need a supply of eloquent, professional prose from time to time?
Now we wait for five to eight weeks for our listing to be set up.
And then the calls for toner will start pouring in.
April 29, 2002: Flag Waving Several weeks ago, I asked for your opinion about the freebie flag banner we had acquired from Quickbanner.com. The results have poured in.
Most of the negative comments were design oriented. Comments included "too busy" and "it hurts my eyes."
The majority of respondents (about 83%) liked the flag as is, but several, including Linda from Alaska, suggested replacing the squares with hearts - something we think is a great idea though this isn't possible with the limited templates available.
I think I can interpret the positive response to the fact that Jane Marie's "Celebrate HEART & HOME" theme is respectful and right in keeping with patriotic American sentiment, so we'll leave it in our banner lineup.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to send in their thoughts.
May 1, 2002: Stop Screaming
"Stop screaming!" Ozzy Osbourne, The Osbournes
I've just failed to publish a website for a colleague. She wanted to use a site from freeservers.com, a company that offers free websites within very narrow limits.
My friend, Dr. Patricia Ferguson, wanted a small site to allow editors to view a sample of her work as a writer of medical articles. I jazzed up her former site, and attempted to upload the new version only to find that freeservers does not support FrontPage extensions*.
When I attempted to FTP** the site, I found that I could not because FrontPage wouldn't let me get to the necessary screen since it is already locked into the use of FrontPage extensions in uploading this site. (Apparently, you can't do both - FTP or upload with extensions.)
There are several possible remedies:
The problem is Patty needs her site up now. She was led to believe freeservers was free AND that she could easily upload a site designed with FrontPage. Not quite. Grrr.
*FrontPage extensions - special features that web hosts must support in order for a site created with Frontpage to be uploaded and viewed correctly.
**FTP (file transfer protocol) - the default way files may be uploaded to a website.
UPDATE: Patty's site is gone. We lost her several years ago. NK 7-14-09.
May 3, 2002: Backache There is always a canine editor rooting around at my feet to see what morsels of food I've dropped while working. The rule is that no one eats or drinks around the computers, but none of us obey it.
Another law I'd like to disregard maintains that SOHO (small office, home office) dwellers must work every day.
I always have something to do so I would be the poster girl for that law if I hadn't done something to my back several days ago. Since then, sitting (also standing and lying down) anywhere has been agony, but I've got this project of registering our ezines at every possible registration site along with six or seven other things that demand immediate attention. So everyday I've struggled to the PC, deleted the spam, taken care of business and then endured as long as I could with the filling out of the forms and the clicking of the SUBMIT buttons.
I could have triumphed over my great and terrible pain if only I hadn't taken the trouble to read the survey report on BizE-zine.com. This report plainly said that the author had registered his ezine on all the sites on his list and had added only two (2) subscriptions.
Right now though, a session with my beloved heating pad is in order. And next week I'm going back to yoga class, never to desert again.
May 6, 2002: Biz Cards I occasionally enjoy rooting around in an office supply store. But yesterday, I was on a mission to find some eye grabbing* paper on which I could print new business cards. The problem is I've tried bland and it doesn't set my cards (i.e. me) apart.
No luck. The current crop is sadly lacking in color or design.
May 8, 2002: Browser Bowser I've always used Internet Explorer to surf even though the beta version 4 froze my hard drive and cost me a bundle. However, I know websites look different in the various models available so I recently installed Netscape 6.2 (free at Netscape.com) so I could check out another view of this site.
Wouldn't you know that the site looks just the same with either browser because Netscape's latest has been upgraded to fix this flaw?
Oh, and I never got my jewelry back from prom night (scroll up). Everyone concerned has a different story - all which goes to show that some days you just can't win.
My good mood has returned: The jewelry, which I've had for years, is back AND I am now several hours past uploading our first EternityGarden tributes. They were very touching and so sad.
My point about the browsers remains a good one - you need to know what your site looks like to others. I just don't have time to search the net for old versions of Netscape and any other browsers people are still using.
May 15, 2002: Combo Jumbo Although the Aztecs grew both sugar cane and cocoa, they never consumed the two together and instead drank a very bitter chocolate drink for important occasions. The successors of Cortez and company, however, wasted little time in combining the two ingredients to make a delicious beverage that swept Europe and dramatically increased consumer demand for sugar. This in turn fostered the slave trade that supplied the labor necessary for manning the sugar plantations of the West Indies.
Likewise, though hardly on such a tragic and terrible scale, the addition of new digital camera software somehow worked its magic on my PC causing the installed scanner software to self-destruct. Since the scanner was a major bargain and Primax, the manufacturer, no longer supports much of anything, I spent hours trolling the net for a suitable XP driver.
While I'm a big fan of DriverGuide.com, none of their links worked for me and I ended up using the NT driver that came with the scanner. We were soon back in business with a happy ending. However, I just can't quite get the image of blood off my candy bar.
Everything has consequences.
May 17, 2002: Darn Nice Download I'm only able to pursue our marketing campaign during the odd minutes I can scare up between doing everything else that screams to be worked on, so it's nice to see that RESULTS are beginning to occur. One of my favorites is the e-mail we got this week from Chris Bloor and Conny Torney, international marketing experts from Perth Australia.
Chris and Conny are promoting their newest website, howtostartanezine.com/manuals, by offering a free downloadable report that contains the two most valuable lists I've come across in the field of sales: words that you should always use in your sales copy and oral presentations* and words that you should never use.
Sure we all know that offering a free ebook is a standard marketing ploy. But most of them suck. Because Chris' report is pure sales gold (so everyone who has a business and/or is in the sales marketing field should have a copy), this is marketing genius.
Although we rarely publish material other than our own, we're looking forward to offering the report as a free download - as soon as I figure out all the fun technical details with the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Every site that provides this report to their visitors is doing a public service. Look for advertising copy standards to jump up a notch worldwide.
*If only I'd had this report five years ago when I was peddling what was it? Oh yes, sales training. I'd still be out there in the trenches enjoying the fruits of my high commissions.
May 20, 2002: Out, Damn Frame
I've known for a while that I would have to get rid of our Navigation page, which took up 23% of the the page view on a normal (one like mine) browser.
Initially, I thought I could just delete the Frames and Navigation files and everything would be fine, but who really knows? So I got the bright idea of going to Microsoft support. They suggested that I could set the frame width on the Navigation portion of our site to zero. This would be swell if the HTML code for "marginwidth" had shown up where they said it be. In fact when I do/did a word search through all 554 pages, the only place where marginwidth shows up is on this page.
But wait. Why not, I thought, simply drag the Navigation page width to the left until the Navigation page disappears?
Because it doesn't quite disappear and we are left with the current situation.
May 24, 2002: School's Out School is out until the middle of August. I think I speak for SOHO (small office, home office) dwellers everywhere when I say,
May 31, 2002: Jet Lag Getting a teenage daughter ready for her first school trip is a little like being a web lackey. You know how you want things to be, but somehow you find yourself cursing FrontPage and wondering where things all went fuzzy.
We tried to do everything right. Lists were made (by me) and supplies were purchased (by me). I assembled a ton of useful material on wardrobe and packing, shopping in Italy and details on great places to visit. No one read it.
I did manage to get the kid to select clothing with actual sleeves and necklines that won't cause the Pope to have a stroke, but any pickpocket with an advanced case of glaucoma will be able to tell the exact location of her money belt. And when I asked why the price tags were still attached to the new garments at last night's packing frenzy, the reply was she never removes price tags until she actually wears something. Silly me.
Hours after the last bag was packed, I got a phone call from my dear daughter who said she had a fever and was coming home from the pre-departure festivities to grab a few hours of sleep before her alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. Wouldn't you know she was fine this morning?
Despite my sleepless misgivings, we successfully delivered our elder child and her baggage to the insane tour leaders on time and in good condition. She made all the choices that were right for her and so far, so good - except that I can't get the flight tracker at Trip.com* to set up. How in the name of anal parents everywhere am I supposed to monitor this trip?
PS Guess whose daughter locked all the keys to her room in her room before she left? The only way to get in there will be to set the in-house burglar (younger sister) to work on the lock. Some weird justice.
June 5, 2002: Fish Forever First, the good news: an update on the school tour of Italy.
We got a call from Milan/Milano the day the group arrived. So far our traveler had seen the industrial underbelly of Italy and wasn’t impressed. I forgot to tell her that Milan is the design capital of southern Europe and has a cutting edge fashion industry. That probably doesn’t matter now since her first purchase was a pair of black pants. At least all will be well on the shopping front.
My traveling child called at 3 a.m.* from Florence/Firenze with a report on her trip to date. Aside from the heavy diet of fish the kids are getting, all is well. (My dear one doesn't like fish.)
The group had begun sightseeing in earnest, and they were on their way to the Uffizi Gallery to gaze at some of the great treasures of the Renaissance.
Did I mention the backpacks provided by the tour company feature a logo that looks suspiciously like a target?
*Somehow I had the presence of mind not to mention the locksmith we had to hire charged $41.50. You may remember my daughter had locked all the keys to her bedroom in her bedroom just before we left for the airport.
I wasted a good 45 minutes trying to place an order on the General Bead website. They probably have great products at great prices, but their navigation sucks and I never could find the final shopping cart order page. They have an order form, but something kept asking me to confirm each item I as ordered it. For more about this, click on over to my new Beading Diary. It's a part of the Craft section of GraciousJaneMarie.com.
June 20, 2002: Branding U If you've clicked on over to my new Beading Diary, you know I planned the the whole beading project as something to keep my younger daughter occupied this summer. She, however, is content to string some old seed beads I had around the house while I have decided to launch a new business making (initially at least) semiprecious stone and crystal necklaces.
This all came about because while I love jewelry, I'd look and feel pretty ridiculous sitting at the old PC wearing an eight strand necklace and a crummy T shirt and sweats - my usual business costume*. In other words, if I want the sensuous pleasure of playing with pretty beads, I've got to sell the little suckers at a profit or lose my happy home.
Kismetically (original word - figure it out), today's program on the 5:30 a.m. edition of PBS University (or whatever they call themselves) was about branding. Sometimes cosmic coincidences just happen. I've been trying to figure out the best name for this new company.
Anyway, the host/professor said it costs $50 million to launch a brand in the United States. While I understand that I can't turn out enough product to satisfy the jewelry needs of America and the world and must therefore restrict my market to eBay shoppers and visitors to this website, I have decided to throw out all other branding considerations and simply call the business NancyKamp.com. Hey, I already own the domain name. Perhaps someday my daughter will decide she wants to string real beads for fun and profit. Then we'll spend our $50 million to rebrand.
Also, we have a long-range idea that might just make this whole question moot.
*I once worked for a man who said that in his early days as an entrepreneur, he went to work in his basement office each morning in a beautifully ironed shirt with crisply knotted tie! Quel weirdness.
June 23, 2002: They Really Love Me A while back, I sent queries to all the major women's magazines proposing a story on the interesting and hard working lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallon. There was dead silence so you can imagine the thrill I got when I picked up yesterday's mail and noticed Woman's Day as the return address on one of the envelopes.
WRONG. Apparently the Woman's Day editorial department has absolutely no interest in me as a writer, but they had hung on to my name and address so I could have the pleasure of receiving an offer of a magazine subscription at the professional rate.
June 25, 2002: Bad Camera, Bad I've noticed I have developed the very poor habit of starting a topic and never completing it. Though my excuse is that so much is happening, I will try to do better.
With that in mind, it's important that I write about my fairly new digital camera and why you should not buy one just like it.
While my Kodak DX3900 takes great pictures, you will find (to your horror) that if you add a zoom or close-up lens, YOU CAN NO LONGER SEE THROUGH THE VIEWFINDER. You have to rely on the screen to frame the proposed picture. This sucks in its own right. It is also something that is almost impossible to do in daylight.
'Nuff said on that topic. Except this: GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
June 28, 2002: Playing Catch Up When I'm not scratching mosquito bites, I'm sitting in front of a keyboard doing stuff. Lately, I've been transcribing interviews, working on projects and trying to get some autoresponders back on the job. Success seems illusive in all areas, partly because there's always so much to do and also because new fires (as I write, there is a haze in the sky from the fires in the West) keep breaking out.
There are always little things to do on a website - fix that link, change that font - you know the drill. Priority goes to high impact events so we've been tinkering with the main pages of the site in case a rash of publicity breaks out because we're sitting on (so to speak) Nicer than Martha and It's a Better Thing T shirts, etc. while Martha* Stewart (we wish her well as she battles the flip side of the media) is the anti-flavor of the week.
I've also been obsessing about scams (don't miss the July issue of greenlightWRITING) and weirdness. Here are some things you may want to think about too:
Clearly, life is full and rich.
*For news about our own Martha, click here.
July 1, 2002 Woe, Woe, Whoa This weblog entry should have been written and published over the weekend, but I had Internet problems again. The first person I spoke with at DirecTV, my ISP (Internet service provider) decided the problem was software on my computer so I regressed my computer settings to those of the day before. (You can do this when you're running XP - usually.)
I still couldn't get online. Then I messed around a whole lot (not recommended) and called DirecTV again. This time I got someone, the wonderful Mike Russell, who agreed it was very odd that four different computers would have software problems with the same gateway (the box from DirecTV that gets me online). Also, he said their system was very slow in some parts of the country. At that point we decided that three hours of my life was enough to devote to tech support insanity. I shut down the PC and sure enough, all is well this morning.
Someone close to me has suggested things would be more efficient around here if only I would hire a staff. Clearly, she has forgotten her bootstrapping days. Someday my staff will come, but right now, I CAN DO THIS.
July 3, 2002: Jesse Saves the Day Saturday's temporary Internet fix collapsed/ran out yesterday, and it was back to tech support for Nancy.
I have been convinced I am the proud owner of a defective, evil, two-faced gateway appliance for some time now so when I lost Internet access again, I wanted a new gateway or a new ISP. DirecTV's Jesse, however, convinced me that not only could my immediate problem be fixed, but also that a software upgrade (I love upgrades) on DirecTV's end of things would solve all my problems. He passed me along to another nice tech who changed my gateway software from purple (yuck) to blue (tah-dah), which he, the second tech, pronounced in perfect working order.
While I remain a little skeptical, I would like to thank all the techs everywhere who keep our systems running. I know they're overworked because I'm still trying to get my former web host, SoftComca.com, who has been parking EternityGarden.com, to release it to my supplemental web host, Hostica.com, so it points to our EternityGarden pages.
I'm also still recovering from primary host Cedant's internal restructuring. This means we don't have autoresponders on most of our mailboxes - or even mailboxes any more.
All in all, I envision a happy working holiday for techs and SOHO (small office, home office) dwellers alike.
July 6, 2002: Going Ballistic By now you've got to know that I hate FrontPage and I only stick with it because this site is so big. But I haven't mentioned a nifty little feature in FrontPage 2002 that sends error reports to Billzilla and company at Microsoft so they can fix the bugs in the software. I always allow this because I would love to have a bug free piece of Microsoft software, but I digress into dreamland.
Anyway, sometimes my little ole website has a spate of error messages - so many that I have to save my work after every keystroke. As you can imagine, that does not sit well with yours truly. Or add to our progress at a very rapid rate.
Today, to compound all that, I began joining Teddy Bear webrings to promote our mascots. I quit after 16 because I have a life after all, but the problem was that I had not paid (and will not pay) the bribe necessary to prevent multiple ads from appearing as I tried to access the screens I needed to see. In revenge, the WebRing.com site piled on the ads like I was a tackling dummy.
Now I don't mind an advertisement or three, but I couldn't navigate at all. Closing the ads did not make them go away. They just multiplied like rabbits on viagra. I finally had to leave the Internet, delete all my cookies (go to Control Panel and Internet options) and begin again.
July 10, 2002: Perdition Looms We went to a preview of last night. It was very good, but it kind of reminded me of the tragedies that await us if we don't heed the advice and retain the professional services of the good folks who've been kind enough to look over this site.
There is always room for improvement here. I KNOW THIS. What's odd is the improvement suggestions we receive are always geared toward whatever specific services the reviewer offers.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about one company that informed us we desperately needed a shopping cart even though we don't currently sell anything on the site. [That was then - please visit our jewelry pages at VeryShinyObjects.com.] I couldn't remember their name and had lost their e-mail, but Monday I received a follow-up call from them.
A very nice woman named Kim from MediaVue.net resent the company review. Besides the shopping cart, they said our pages don't have a consistent look. What they call our big green logo ball, besides bad design, I'm sure I don't know.
Oddly, they said our pages are fast loading. Some of them are full of pictures so how that can be is beyond me.
Still another comment was that fewer than 10 sites link to us. Wrong.
All in all. Kim wasted her time, but never fear. We have another suitor in the wings - somewhere. I get too darn much mail and I seem to have misplaced another the advice from another well-meaning company.
July 16, 2002: Heroes My heroes are probably not yours, but perhaps you'll agree that slandering Nelson Mandela is no way to win friends and influence people.
If my reference is obscure, look up the comments from the father of John Walker Lindh, the not so fine young man who made yesterday's headlines with his guilty plea.
July 17, 2002: International Spam I have officially arrived.
I recently received my very first spam in German*. That particular offer I couldn't refuse seemed to be about a device that would boost my gasoline mileage. Like so many terrific offers I receive in English, this one thanked me for having opted-into their list, which I must have done in my sleep because not only do I never opt-in (and I mean never), but I also don't speak German.
Since I'm about to write an article that involves e-mail marketing, I know there is a lesson I can use in this. However, it is 6 a.m. and I am getting ready to watch my nephew play ball in the USSSA World Series*** (Go Cubs!), so my brain has no idea what I've learned here - except possibly that home grown e-mail lists are much more valuable than the ones you purchase. But you're, no doubt, on 300 or more lists yourself. And you already knew you never wanted to receive any spam - in any language.
*To get a quick, easy and free translation to and from a number of languages, go to AltaVista's BabelFish (not BabelFish.com).
**Why anyone would schedule baseball games outdoors in an Oklahoma summer defies explanation.
Congratulations Cubs - The score: 11 to 2
July 20, 2002: Martha Rules Unlike my sister, Jane Marie, I am not a frou-frou person. However, I can read the writing on the wall, and in this SOHO, the handwriting screams, "Martha."
Martha is Jane Marie's mascot. She is fast becoming the official SpokesBear for the entire site - although there has been some disagreement about this from the ranks. (Click here for details.) Last night, I too embraced Martha and made her my own by messing around with all the photo software I could scrounge.
The result* will be a new background of mini Martha heads for the Jane Marie pages and a new logo in our Cafe Press stores (now apparently Cafe Shop) where you too can get closer to Martha because everything's coming up frou-frou bears. (Quickly, young padawan, we must cross over to the Treacle Side.)
July 23, 2002: Snake Frenzy Several years ago, my daughter returned from archaeology camp in the Oklahoma Panhandle and dumped a massive mound of dirty clothes on the kitchen floor. Within hours, we saw a four foot snake curled around the nearby cables of my computer. Naturally, we made a connection. (Cables give birth to snakes, right?)
Everything changed last Sunday morning when we saw a close cousin of that first serpent right outside the back door. We now believe that OKC is an active breeding ground for giant computer/black rat snakes whose mission in life is to scare the hell out of us. Our logic is backed up by the mouse we noticed in the birdcage last week.
I mean, rat snake, mouse snake, computer snake - what's the difference? After all, as Colette said in Cheri, "A door slamming makes one jump, but it doesn't make one afraid. What one fears is the serpent that crawls underneath it." (Cheri and The Last of Cheri)
July 26, 2002: Teddy Mania I wrote a perfectly wonderful weblog on the back of an envelope while waiting in an oral surgeon's office this morning. Since I was also trying to catch up on my accounting system, I must have put the thing with the water and sewer bills or in an equally safe place. Bottom line - that great weblog is among the missing.
Instead, I will recount the strange burst of creativity that possessed me to purchase the domain, TeddyBearWars.com*, in the middle of the night AND scribble down catchy T shirt slogans that my in-house critics did not admire.
Periodically, my muse visits me with several kilos of hard objects to drop on my head. That means that the stuff I come up with at these times is not always prize-worthy. (In case you don't believe me, click on this link to read my haikus on civic development in downtown OKC.)
The sad part of this whole mess is not only was the missing weblog a major gem, but I can't afford to ignore muse-inspired drivel in case it's the stuff the Pulitzer committee is seeking.
Ah, the burdens of true genius are heavy indeed.
*We no longer own this domain. We prefer the happier MarthaBear.com.
July 27, 2002 Being Wari The pre-Incan Wari people of the Andes built a huge empire by capturing the remains of the opposition's ancestors, which were the local equivalent of symbolic property rights. (My grandfather farmed here and I have his bones to prove it.)
In the same manner, more or less, many aggressors now insert mysterious ads into Internet Explorer that simply seem to happen when I go online as opposed to the standard website-delivered popups* we all loathe. Also, FrontPage has been inserting some very odd code and links into some of our web pages. Quite frankly, I'm mad as hell and wish I didn't have to take it anymore. However, a recent ezine (??? - don't ask which one) article indicated that I'm not the only one with IE problems. And they indicated no one has a solution.
Am I hallucinating? Probably not.
Will I ever master FrontPage. You wish.
Am I clear on the facts. Not quite.
August 4, 2002: Bloody Shoes
"Only a fool climbs Mt. Fuji twice." Japanese saying
You've probably been asking yourself what's going on with the gap in this weblog.
None of the above. While you were fretting (Jane Marie's word) about my health and welfare, I was wallowing in the lap of luxury in a gated resort community high in the Colorado Rockies. We stayed at the kind of place that provides thick, luxurious robes for guests as well as great smelling purple lotion - both things I didn't realize the true importance of until we got home today and it was back to the less than wonderful stuff we had previously thought was just fine.
Eventually this fabulous vacation will result in a delightful article for Jane Marie's Travel pages. For now, I will only say there's something almost decadent about checking your spam in Beaver Creek.
By the way, today's title is courtesy of our beloved hosts who made me walk for miles down a mountain so steep that the pain in my calves did not go away for four days. Sure, you say, a four year old could have done it, (A four year old [my niece] did do it! To quote Elmo, "Oh, I am so ashamed.") but I am no longer four, and that made all the difference.
August 7, 2002: Déjà News Back in February, I wrote a letter to the editor of Ezine-Tips.com, which was published in their newsletter. Somehow their archive links got screwed up and although I notified them, my letter does not show up through the link it is supposed to.
Wouldn't you know something similar would happen to the letter to the editor I wrote to InformationWeek. I got the print, August 5, 2002, edition with my unedited letter placed lovingly on the page. But when I went to check out the online version, it was bad link city. And this morning I couldn't even get the site to set up!
Therefore, in the interest of my place in the sun, I herein present the text of my letter in response to the InformationWeek July 22, 2002 cover story on blogging:
So is it me or is it Memorex?* You see, the Ezine-Tips letter was also about blogging. I'm beginning to think the guerilla marketing technique of writing letters to editors is not for such as I. Sigh.
August 13, 2002: What Did Your Last One Die Of? Today's title is courtesy of Wendy Holden who uses it as the title of a song in her wonderful and quite funny novel, Farm Fatale. I borrowed it to remind myself how important knowing the track record of a supplier is.
It's just as easy to get burned in the business world as it is in the world of relationships. The trouble is sometimes you've just got to move on and try new people. And sometimes you're working blind, which is NOT a better thing.
The reason I bring this all up is I just made my biggest purchase to date for my new jewelry business, and it was refreshing to deal with a company with which I'd already had a good experience - good products, good prices and good customer service. I've also found a company that will not receive repeat business from this corner of Oklahoma because their website sucks and I hate some of their products.
So, children, today's lessons are these:
August 17, 2002: Out, Damn Spam Just checked one of my Hotmail accounts to find 68 new pieces of spam and one piece of mail sorted as junk - this with the HIGH spam filter on AND all the individual controls I could set. In contrast, I present yesterday's trip to OfficeMax where they sold me a 50 pack of CD-Rs for $1.99 because they'd run out of the ones with the rebate!
One company has obviously pimped me to the highest bidder while the other actually wanted me to be happy. Bet you can guess this means I'm psyching myself up to teach a customer service class. And that I still hate spam, of course.
Newsweek said about 150 people send out most of the spam we're being buried under. Just think what havoc this $#2$ spam is wreaking on e-mail marketing. Every business online is hurt so a few &$%# can annoy us all while reeling in the suckers.
If there is any justice, spammers' hell will be full of ringing phones, doorbells playing the OU fight song (Did I write that?) and videos of that AOL guy screaming, "You've got mail" over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and ...
August 23, 2002: Trash Killers Judging by today's title, you might be forgiven for thinking that this weblog was just one long rant about spam. But no.
I chose to name this entry in honor of our two senior canine editors who spent the night gorging on the garbage I neglected to take out last night. There are several lessons here:
August 26, 2002: Lightning Strikes If you've ever bought a computer from a real person in an actual store, you've been on the receiving end of a sales pitch for all those little extras that make computing life easier like boxes in which to store your floppies and oh, I don't know, maybe surge protectors.
Well, I am here to tell you that if you didn't buy a serge protector for your computer, you are surfing the net with a great big target on your back. And if you didn't, in fact, buy surge protectors for all your major appliances, you are asking for TROUBLE.
And how do I know this?
Yesterday during a thunderstorm, our slightly over a year old Admiral 27" TV-VCR apparently got a jolt of something unpleasant from the skies and died. And wouldn't you know we purchased it from Montgomery Ward as that chain lay breathing its last, knowing we could count on the brand name and the courts for warranty protection?
Not so. I can't find a website for Admiral and the links to service and repair help on the Ward site are dead. We're stuck with a giant black box that no longer works and cannot be resuscitated without major outpourings of cash to a repair person.
Since we can't function without our nightly dose of Jon Stewart and PBS reruns, we'll be looking closely at the Labor Day ads for a new TV. Our other major purchase next weekend will be surge protectors - lots and lots of them because who knows what evil lurks in the heart of a storm?
August 29, 2002: Our Evolution I sometimes get asked why we're so open about the changes we make to the site in terms of publishing pages that aren't quite finished or showing our things like our old logo.
Most sites make upgrades and then announce their new and improved look and/or functionality with a flourish, and that's fine.
However, since our technical and editorial departments consist of me, and we make a lot of changes, it's easier to publish the whole thing as I go along. That way Jane Marie can offer input before I get too far off course. And anyone who wants to learn from our mistakes can see the steps we took to get wherever we ended up.
September 4, 2002: Sisyphus In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was punished for trying to cheat death by having to roll a rock uphill that always rolled back down. Being a web master is a little like that.
You start something, you complete it, you discover a better way to do it, you begin again. But hey, the site will be better. And I just finished watching Life is Beautiful, a movie I didn't think I'd like, but fell in love with (four handkerchiefs), so I will be content with the joy of constant improvement Can't you hear me singing?
September 6, 2002: Wide Load We have been plagued by the occasional problem of pages that look great on my monitor and not so great on yours. A special concern has been those pages that require horizontal scrolling if you want to see the entire page. Over time, I've tried many solutions. All our tables, for example, are set up in flexible percents of the whole page as opposed to fixed width pixels.
The other day I discovered that banners of fixed width could also cause wide pages - especially when they're placed in tables like this:
In our case, one of the banners happened to be Word Art, but the problem was the same as was the solution. When I eliminated the Word Art, the tables were able to revert to per cent of page sizing and all is now well.
September 14, 2002: My Trash, Your Treasures If you've found this weblog, you're no longer a newbie, a computer novice. As a reward, you get to visit Computer Stupidities. This a collection of anecdotes that shows what the nice, polite techs really thought of us before we learned to handle ourselves online.
And since I need to clean out my Favorites folder, here are a few more websites you won't want to miss:
September 22, 2002: Double Waterman Even the best weekend can contain a disaster or two, and this last was no exception.
A family wedding in Houston called for the thoughtful use of frequent flier / user miles that resulted in a great Continental flight and a nice Courtyard by Marriott room.
Hertz provided us with a non smoking (their rep said all Hertz cars are non smoking - they carry a little symbol after all) automobile that left us gasping for air. In a hurry to begin relaxing, we didn't complain on the spot and drove off only to find our under parts becoming damper and damper as it became clear that the car's seats had recently been shampooed. Still choking on the strongest cigarette fumes I can remember, we pulled into a Hertz location and got an upgrade. Time wasted: about 45 minutes.
Everything else was marvelous. Kimberly and Brandon are terrific people who had a beautiful wedding. We spent the rest of our time playing tourist (details to follow) and ended up on the beach at Galveston.
After several hours of beach time and a long walk around the downtown area, we got back into our nice-smelling car and headed west along the Gulf of Mexico to find a seafood restaurant near the water.
Several miles later, we were really starving and had apparently passed all the kitchens in the area when we saw a sign for the Waterman restaurant tucked into a bunch of signs that hyped the area (Pirates' Galveston) around the local country club. We eventually arrived at a charmingly weathered building on a lagoon and were seated in an almost empty room overlooking the water.
Bottom line, the Waterman was hidden away and they should keep it there. It may well be the worst value for the money on the planet. And thus, today's title. To be watermanned is to be fully and completely hosed.
Note: We would have asked for bread if we'd known it was available, but there were no sides dishes listed on the menu and clearly nothing but lumpy white stuff and seaweed was coming out of that kitchen for us.
September 26, 2002: Nearly Naked A recent paragraph in USA Today carried the headline Footwear saves nude gay pride marchers. Smita P. Nordwall, author/compiler of interesting stuff from around the world, wrote, "Seven men who marched in Toronto's Gay Pride Parade have been cleared of public nudity charges because they were wearing shoes, their lawyer said. The men were arrested after they marched in the annual festival wearing only footwear and sunscreen."
Now I'm a big fan of sunscreen and footwear, and wear them myself on a daily basis along with multiple garments of interesting hues and styles, but as I was digesting Nordwall's useful column, I realized that Jane Marie and I have quite a bit in common with Toronto's Magnificent Seven.
Just as those gentlemen chose to put themselves out for their cause, so too are we exposing ourselves for all the world to view and critique. We are, in effect, The Osbournes of online. Our blogging, letters, page intros and articles all reveal lots and lots of things about us. Way too much information?
October 4, 2002: Migrating the Herd I don't usually remember my dreams, but last night's was special. It took place in a hilly resort community, which was holding its annual migration (think Heidi and the goats going up and down the mountain near their tidy Swiss village) of Scottish Terriers. Our own Junior Senior Canine Editor was present as were my husband's aunt and uncle (they were in Galveston when we were watermanned (scroll up) and their grandchildren. Also in attendance was my late grandmother of whom I have no memories in common with Jane Marie.
Cary and I were out with the herders and helped direct the 50 or so dogs to their designated range. When we joined his aunt and uncle, a woman drifted in, made amusing small talk and was revealed as Grammy. We felt a real connection and hugged. Then she went off to die a happy death during a massage. Naturally, there were bagpipes at the funeral.
I woke up with a smile on my face and dog breath in my nose. The whole dream thing can be attributed to Jane Marie's incessant treacle spinning. She is writing fantasy bios of my pets and some of their imaginary friends to mesh with her Martha Bear® world. I may not be able to write like she does, but I believe my dreams are as weird as anyone's.
October 7, 2002: Fax Spam It's bad enough we're all being buried alive in unwanted e-mails that attack our time, sanity and online commerce. Now there is fax spam - unwanted faxes disguised as legal notices threatening dire consequences. Domain Support Group has sent me several on exactly the same subject - the purchase of a variation of the EternityGarden domain name.
These folks throw around words and phrases like "consequences," "conflicting," "false," "bad faith," "valuable consideration," "if you disregard this notice or fail to reply," and "you are required." Bah!
October 17, 2002: Insurance Policy So much to do lately I've only been writing weblog entries in my head again. However, I just finished making new boot disks for the ole PC and decided it was my duty to nag readers to do likewise. If you've never had PC failure, you've probably neglected this task so go to your computer Help section and ask it how you do this for your particular machine. Now. And then come back and see me.
I still hate FrontPage. (Bet you thought I'd moved on to a new hate.) I'm trying to publish GraciousJaneMarie, the newsletter and the stupid software won't let me control the size of the font or even the font itself. I'll be going to Page Properties for one last try at fixing things. Then, I'll publish and be damned because no one will be able to read the links.
October 22, 2002: Bulging Monkeys Aside from being in the same profession as Dave Barry (OK, he's brilliant, rich and famous), I also enjoy naming rock bands. And now, thanks to Windows XP News, I was able to create my dream band of the moment, Bulging Monkeys.
Windows XP News sends out a very useful ezine with tips for getting the most out of Windows XP, but they sometimes indulge in spreading useless info and this morning I found a link to CreateBands.com where I was able to waste fully five minutes designing my band. Life is full and rich.
When I went back to wading through my e-mail, I was rewarded with useful spam from my friend, Carol. She passed along some safety tips for women that I'll be posting.
October 24, 2002: Marital Brain Damage We've often heard people who are married start to look alike. In our case, things are much worse. My husband and I are starting to do the same weird things.
On last weekend's trip to Dallas, I sat in the hotel room and told my daughter not to use the little bottle of hand lotion whose contents covered my legs and feet because the stuff felt sticky. Then I realized it was hair conditioner. (You have to take a shower to get it off.)
And now my dear husband has called from California to say he just made the same mistake - even though he had the benefit of my stupidity to guide him!
What does this have to do with managing a website? Well, if I stretch things I could say we're all making the same mistakes over and over like poor navigation, annoying popups and pages that are too busy. That's why Jane Marie and I keep plugging away. We may not have the perfect site, but at least we don't have one of those sites with a "contents updated during the last ice age" notice.
This doesn't make make me feel any smarter, but to borrow a catch word from the heyday of the Internet, no one can say Nancy and her appendages aren't sticky*.
*Stickiness, or keeping people on a site, was the goal of every webmaster until it was discovered that while keeping visitors around was good, it didn't actually pay the bills. Now, we want you to stay and BUY something so we can keep innovating great online experiences.
November 28, 2002: Siege Mentality I really can't believe how I've neglected this weblog, but I feel like I've been besieged on all sides. One of the biggest plagues has been the spyware / parasiteware that even had the nerve to change my opening Internet page to whatever it was they were - even if I could remember the name, I wouldn't use it.
I thought I'd found the solution with Ad-aware, a freeware program that seemed to do a good job of finding the bad guys on my system and destroying them, but if the bad guys can change my opening page while Ad-aware is installed and running (?), then I might as well surrender and actively download %$#^ from the bad guys so it can fill up my hard drive and drive me nuts. The quest for true protection continues.
December 6, 2002: Château Central Oklahoma* Oklahoma is not known as wine country, but it must be because I am looking at a business card from OKlahomaWines.org. My thoughts, however, are neither fruity nor full-bodied. I am, she said darkly, not amused.
Just this morning, I attempted to rid myself of Browserwise - a vicious little gambling-oriented search engine that installed itself on my system and replaced every 404 error page (bad URL or web address) with itself. I finally went to Windows Explorer and deleted all the bits I could since Browserwise did not show up in my official list of software, and I could not uninstall. Then, I did a search for xupiter.com, Browserwise's nasty parent company, and found a page that seems to have deleted the rest of the thing for now.
The whole process is invasive and I feel unclean. These people use their disgusting tools to invade our computers because they can and mock us all the way to the bank. If only I were a vinophile, I'd grab bottle of Château Central Oklahoma and drown my sorrows. Alas, chocolate is my drug of choice and the cupboard is bare, so It's back to work for Nancy.
December 27, 2002: Murdered in My Bed DirecTv cut off my DSL (the &^$%#) and you can't publish a real website (as opposed to the pages you get with your ISP) with AOL, my temporary ISP of choice now that I've purchased a V92 modem.
AOL has a strangle hold on everything I do until until the middle of January when my new DSL service kicks in. I was feeling guilty about using AOL's free trial until I tried to get help - to speed up my connection and with uploading to this website. Since AOL won't let me get online without a wrestling match - I type in a URL and they send me to an AOL site instead, all I can say is don't buy stock in AOL Time Warner. This company is doomed. As their client base gets more sophisticated, it will migrate to faster / cheaper options.
Positive prediction: Martha Bear® will be The Next Big Thing!
I may not be technologically proficient, but "I have social skills, jackass." Malcolm in the Middle - The Complete...
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