Santa got lucky this year, as the biting winds and massive snowfall fell on the day after Christmas in the Northeast. It started as-promised late Sunday morning on December 26, and was at its worst in the late afternoon.
We woke up to over two feet of snow. I took this picture mid-morning on Monday. We live on the third, top floor of our condo; this is looking out on to our deck.
Jonnie Scheiner killed himself on Tuesday, August 17, at age 19. I taught him for over six years, first as percussion instructor, then as band director. He grew from a tiny, amazingly talented 6th grader to a pain in the ass who quit the marching band I directed, in almost the exact same way I quit during my high school days. He literally held together the drumline during his time. If it wasn’t for him, we never would have made it through a long, humid, hot parade in Washington, DC on July 4, 2008.
The morning before I heard the news, I thought once again that I should contact Jonnie and we could go out for lunch and just talk. We had some catching up to do and things to put behind us. I regret I will never get that chance, and although his problems can’t be directly attributable to me, as I grieve I feel that somehow I am partially to blame. Jonnie left the band on bad terms, but he tried to be my friend afterwards. As he got older,we fought and disagreed; that’s how your teenage years seem to work. It was hard for me to process what I felt as betrayal for supporting him all those years. Until that point, I was one of the few that was on his side. And now, I just can’t seem to process that he’s gone, that no one will ever be able to appreciate the talent that he had on the drums, in music.
It’s completely regrettable to me that his last words to me, on Facebook, were how much he missed me.
He was always tormented, there was always some sort of drama in his
life, and apparently just had a bad breakup with a serious girlfriend. I read the words on his Facebook, thinking it was just another piece of drama in his life. And then, as I read the eulogies coming in from friends and family on his Facebook page, and those on his brother and mother’s Facebook wall, I can only believe he didn’t know how many lives he touched.
Am I the only technical writer that doesn’t feel like writing or blogging when they get home? Lately, I feel like that’s the case.
I comfort myself in the fact that I’m making good food.
Summer’s over. I’m not happy about it.
Overall, I think it’s been a mediocre year, musically.
I updated from WordPress 2.9 to 3.01. I backed up my database. It was a click. It was good. The dashboard looks the same; am I missing something?
Android 2.2 Froyo is a nice upgrade. It actually looks like they put sometime into the user experience. Today I noticed a little “You declined this call” message at the top of the screen. Nice.
I have an IPA in secondary, based on the same recipe I’ve used for the past three years, but with Cascade instead of Amarillo hops. I think it’s gonna be good. There’s a porter in primary waiting to be transferred to secondary, as well as the two vanilla beans that have been soaking in scotch the past two weeks.
So we went to a Halloween party this past Saturday night. We were misled into thinking that the host rented a hall, instead of merely frequenting it, with its in-wall taps of Bud and Coors Light and walking proximity to the host’s home. So, our evening was shared with The Older Folks Who Frequent These Types of Organizations. However, some good friends were there, some who had moved back into the area, and even though it’s Bud, it still gives you a buzz.
There was another couple our age there, the Wife with whom I went to high school. However, she being the Cheerleader and me being in the Band, our paths never crossed, and I didn’t even know she went to my high school reunion just two weeks ago.
In her attempt at small talk, she opened with “So how are you, Ed?” and then went into a huge diatribe about Her Kids. Her 10 and 11 year old kids, the older of whom is a Nerd because he gets straight A’s and then they go and do this and this and this and isn’t that funny, Ed? And of course, Husband is right there chiming in with his version of the stories, and recalling different details than Wife is. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Great fucking times. Chalk another up in my list of reasons I’m not having kids.
A friend contacted me on Facebook to ask if I knew any web site designers for her sister’s newly-opened store. I replied with this, which is probably way more than she asked for. Then I realized I could repurpose the content. I think they’re good tips for anyone looking to find someone to create and maintain their web site.
Depending on your business, there could be niche designers. I know there are designers who work solely with race car drivers and teams, or restaurants, so that may be something to look into.
Before you talk or meet with anyone, find some of your competition’s sites, see what features they have, list what you like and dislike. Do the same thing with sites you visit regularly. Ask yourself if you are one of those people who hated Facebook’s re-redesign. Why? Why not?
Don’t walk into any conversation with “I’m not really tech-y, but…”. You’re already giving them the upper hand.
“Web 2.0” doesn’t mean all that much.
Make sure they respond to emails within a reasonable amount of time, especially if it’s the only way you communicate.
Don’t trust anyone who tells you they can get your site in the top 10 on google. Don’t listen to anyone who is a search engine optimization (SEO) expert. SEO simply doesn’t work, and in some cases will get you worse results than if you haven’t done anything.
Make sure you see an online portfolio, and that you like what you see.
Navigation and search are extraordinarily important; make sure they work on the sites in their portfolio you visit, and are logical.
Don’t use the lowest bidder, but don’t necessarily use the highest either. Pay for experience.
In this economy, tons of designers are looking for work. Make sure you like them and are someone with whom you can see yourself having a long working relationship.
Give them as much clean, grammatically correct text as you can. Remember, designers generally aren’t writers or editors. They take what they’re given and put it on the page.
Make sure you give value back to the customer. Maybe start a blog about your sister’s area of expertise, and make sure it’s updated regularly.
Keep the site fresh, too; just like with a designer, you want to start a long relationship with the people who visit your site. You can’t make it look like no one’s minding the virtual store, or no one will come back to check after awhile.
Listen to people who talk about content management, content management systems, or CMS. If they use words like Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress (all great CMS), make sure they explain it to you. Ask questions.
And remember – it’s not just a page anymore. You can’t just slip some nice graphics on a page and a little bit of vague sales-y text. We call that ‘brochureware’. It’s a site.