Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oh What a (Stormy) Night!

St. Louis storm damage
Last night was the monthly board meeting of the St. Louis Publishers Association, which is held at the St. Louis Bread Company in the Galleria. Just as I was getting ready to head out the door, the winds whipped up, the rain began to pour sideways, and the hail came down. No way was I going to take my new baby, much less myself, out in that storm. As I waited for the storm to moderate, lightning struck, the lights dimmed, and a crackling noise indicated the end of telephone service. Jim was still at work, so the lack of a land line was not a big deal.

When I returned home from the meeting I went outside with an umbrella to take the recycling bin out to the front curb for the Wednesday morning pickup. I noticed a lot of debris in the yard, but that was nothing compared to what I saw when I reached the parkway. I use the word "saw" loosely as it was pitch black outside by then. I hurried back to the house to get a flashlight, and the next door neighbors stepped out to let me know that our downed tree branches had taken out their phone, Internet and cable. Sure enough there were a lot of limbs down, some of which were hanging out in the street. I moved them back onto our parkway and sidewalk the best that I could while juggling an umbrella and a flashlight.

When I got back into the house I fully expected that we would not have any of our AT&T services either. But our line was not affected at all. This morning I could more fully assess the damage. The tree is a 100+ year old Horse Chestnut (aka Buckeye) that won an award from the city of Webster Groves a few years ago because it is such a beautiful tree. Fortunately it does have a lot of branches, so you really can't tell where the limbs fell off. At least I couldn't tell today - once all the leaves are off that may be different.

The beauty of Webster Groves, besides the houses, is the abundance of stately, mature trees in the community. But many of them are nearing the end of their life spans. I can only hope that homeowners are planting replacement trees before it is too late.

storm damage to the Buckeye

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Afternoon in New Haven, Missouri

Necklace from Astral Glass Studio
 Jim and I did not see much of each other Saturday since I had an all-day conference and he had a company picnic that went into the evening hours. Sunday afternoon we decided to take his fun little car out for a drive, heading west on Interstate 44. We ended up in New Haven, which Jim was familiar with as he has ridden his motorcycle there before. The old town area has some interesting shops, some with antiques and another showcasing the work of local artists. The one that really caught my attention was Astral Glass Studio. Beyond having beautiful glass pieces on display throughout the store, there is a small seating area where you can sit and watch the glass blowers. How fun! I decided to pick up a necklace, and we had a nice young woman helping us. She patiently drug out all the necklaces I wanted to look at. I finally had it narrowed down to two, and chose the nature design because that is near and dear to my heart. It wasn't until I made my selection that the gal shyly told me that it was a necklace that she had designed and made. That made my choice all the more special, and we had her autograph the little card that was displayed by the necklace. I can't wait to wear it.

We decided to have an early dinner at Somebody's in town. We were the only ones in there, which was kind of weird. The service was so-so and I would describe our meals the same way. After I got home I looked at reviews of the place and they have a good reputation. I wish I would have researched it before we got there and made a different meal selection. Oh well...

After we ate we walked along the river trail a bit and checked out the two bed and breakfast houses. They both look cute, though the one is for sale. Room rates are shown at $150 per night, which seems pretty steep for the area. Maybe that is why the one is for sale.

Overall, a very nice stress-free day with the hubby. We needed it for the weekend we have coming up!

glass and copper necklace

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Google & Blogger Fail Again

Yesterday Blogger posted that the custom domain issue had been resolved. So I waited patiently (sort of) but continued to get the 404 error code when trying to access my blog. Meanwhile, back in the forums others were also griping about the fact that their blogs were still down. When I posted my issue in the forum I was asked by a moderator whether I had added a second CNAME. Come again? He then told me to go to my settings and add it. First of all, I have changed nothing in my settings. I explained to him that the reason I bought my domain name through Google is because they SAID I would not have to change anything, that they would do all the re-directing. Apparently after fixing whatever their big fiasco was, they decided we were all going to have to go in and change settings ourselves. Yay...

Now, I am asking myself...why in the world did they not come out with a set of simple instructions to walk us through this? Instead the poor guy in the forum is answering the same question over and over, and becoming increasing short (snotty) with people. Finally a woman in the forum (need I say more?) posted the steps she took to get her blog back up. Unfortunately Google must have sent her to Go Daddy for her domain name and not eNom where they sent me, because I am not seeing the two CNAMES for my blog located where she said they should be. What else would I expect?

So I have sent all the login information and copies of the forum posts out to my daughter in the hopes that she can figure it all out. I really did try to do this on my own, but I just don't get it. If she cannot fix it, then I am done with Blogger. I will see if the blog can be moved over to WordPress.

And the picture here? It doesn't really have anything to do with the post other than the fact that it kind of reminds me of giving Blogger the finger.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Come On Google, Give Us Some Help with Blogger!

As I mentioned in my last post, I purchased a custom domain name for my Write Formation blog through Google on September 9th. That blog for all intents and purposes has disappeared. Being a non-techie I immediately assumed I had done something wrong, even though going this route was supposed to be dummy-proof. But once I went to the Google Forums for Blogger and checked in the "Something is Broken" discussion, it became abundantly clear that I am not alone in my frustration. There is a total lack of communication from Google regarding this huge problem. Apparently their DNS Server (which is what supports the Domain Name System) is down. Were they hacked like Go Daddy? Perhaps. What happened is not really important to me at the moment. My big issue is that even though a known problem existed, they continued to sell domain names to poor schmucks like me. That is just wrong. Even if Blogger had switched all of us back to our original URLs, that would have been preferable to having the blogs disappear altogether. For a company the size of Google, this has all been extremely poor customer service. Come on Google - help out the little guy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Owning Your Domain Name

Kim Wolterman at Blogging for Authors
Over the weekend I presented information on blogging for authors to St. Louis Publishers Association members. I have written a post about it over at my Write Formation blog. Unfortunately you can't read it right now. I will get to the problem in a minute. As I was doing research in preparation for my presentation I learned about some things that need to be adjusted on my own blogs. For example, on my home page is static, meaning it does not change. It was designed that way on purpose as I wanted it to look like a website as opposed to just a blog. My blog posts are entered on the "How To" tab of the website which is several pages down in the site. While the website looks good, having the new posts so deep in the website means that the web crawlers which search for new material and thus have them appear in a Google search are probably not finding my posts. This answers some questions I have always had about why they don't appear in the Google Alerts I have set up, and perhaps why readers are not finding my site. I am currently looking into how to rectify that while still keeping the look that I want.

But what I also learned is that having a blog on and not owning my own domain name is also hurting my search engine optimization results. For example, this blog is which sends my Google "juice" to blogspot (AKA Blogger) instead of me. The way around that is to purchase the domain name (which I actually already own, by the way - just haven't used it on this blog), and have the site redirect to my domain name. I have not attempted any changes to this blog yet, but Saturday night I purchased directly through Google (which owns Blogger). The reason I did this is because they said they would take care of all the behind the scenes changes which need to be made for the re-directing.

Sounds easy, right? No such luck. The new domain name results in an error code when you type in the URL. That would be bad enough except that beginning yesterday even the old URL for my writing blog results in the error code. So no one can see my blog at all now. They had said it could take up to three days for the transfer to take place, but that in the meantime your old URL would work. Wrong! And this is why I never tried to change anything before now. I am certainly not going to mess around with changing the domain here until I get the other blog straightened out.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Photographic Memory

Shutterfly photo books
This weekend I have been working on a couple of photo books. I love because it is easy to upload photos and place them exactly as you want them within the book. I used to take my photos and put them into scrapbooks, but anyone who has done that knows it is expensive and time consuming. Once I found out about this online site, my scrap booking supplies were put away for the occasional craft project.

Our recent trips have all been the subject of photo books, so today I worked on the one from Montreal. I have to say it was not my favorite book to work on. The skies were so gray and dreary while we were there that I just feel like my photos are not worthy of a book. But I decided to put one together anyway, and I actually had enough pictures that I liked well enough to make it worthwhile. Unfortunately the memory card with Jim's photos on it is at his office, so the book will probably not get ordered this weekend.

I also have been working on a book documenting the history of our house. It is something I have had in the back of my mind for a while now, and I have been uploading pictures to the Shutterfly site as I have come across them. This weekend I did some serious uploading as I wanted to show the before and after photos as we have worked on the house. My gosh did we have a lot to tackle! When I look back now on all the wallpaper we had to remove, the floors that needed refinishing or replacing, the light fixtures, wall and floor! Good thing we were young and ambitious when we bought the house. Had House Hunters been around back then, we would not touched this house with a ten foot pole. LOL.

But looking at the old photos sure brought back a lot of memories. This is the only house our two children have ever known. A lot of laughter has echoed off the walls - more laughter than tears fortunately. The house is now 110 years old. What stories it could tell! I can only reveal some of them through the pages of my photo book.