Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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Crafting a Redesign

I just hit my 10-year anniversary with WordPress – yayyy me!  I remember that when this blog first started, they kept a running total on the login page of the number of blogs they powered. Mine was somewhere in the 330,000 level. Then it was one of many places to try. Now it’s pretty much the default, or at least that’s what I see when I peruse the web.

WindowRiverBut 10 years is a long time for a blog, even one that doesn’t get updated all that often anymore. I’ve been distracted by working with the website for my church, which is also done in WordPress. I hate the design, which was a customized template that just.does.not.work.for.me.  The colors and design are dated, blog posts go to some random page that’s not linked anywhere, the page doesn’t scale, and I can’t even figure out how to change the top picture!

So naturally I volunteered to become the church webmaster. I’ve been working with the current design to dump badly dated content and rearrange what’s there as best I can to make it work. As a newcomer to the community, there were things I tried to find on the site when I first got here but couldn’t find. Those are now much more accessible. But it still looks dorky.

I bought another domain to use for practicing and have been running around with my cell phone, taking pictures of the church and the windows for possible placement on a new design. Or, yanno, anywhere I can drop them. Today I’m writing up a proposal for the church board for one-time costs of funding a redesign as well as investigating places to host sermon podcasts and benefits to moving to a different hosting service. My brain is busy.

Happy WordPress-iversary Me!

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Too Busy to Work

I thought I would be spending my retirement working on genealogy and doing house things. Hah. The genealogy, much as I love it and want to do it, has taken a back seat to the more important things like Mah Jongg. It’s very popular here in the Bay and I’m playing today for the third time this week. mahjong-2I’ve never really been a games-playing person but this just appeals to me. The tiles make such a lovely sound when they click together and the images are colorful and pretty. Bams, cracks, dots, dragons, jokers, winds are mixed into different specified combinations in order to make mah jongg. We use official cards from the National Mah Jongg League that show us what hands of tiles are valid each year for scoring. The new 2016 cards just arrived so we’re all equally confused about how to make them work. In any case, this is keeping me busy.

So is having taken on the role of webmaster for my church. Honestly, I need a 12-Step program for this stuff. The site is in WordPress, which I’ve been working with for 8 years, including this blog, and I’m having a grand time updating contents and playing with changes to navigation. The site needs a redesign to make it responsive and generally less green. But it’s doable and uses a different part of my brain that’s been missing the chance to play with familiar toys.

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Once Upon a Time I Designed Web Pages


Once upon a time I was a pretty fair web designer. I learned HTML when it was just code and not a WYSIWYG program like Dreamweaver and would routinely work in code rather than text to fix problems. I retrofitted sites for CSS and converted both personal and work-related sites to updated designs.

That was then. Now … well. My skills have atrophied from disuse and from not keeping up with scripting for PERL and Java, among others. I can do some basic things but at this point, the web has kept moving while I did other stuff.

This was brought home today at a demo of a new internal portal page for the law school that debuts tomorrow. I know enough to identify a content management system design but couldn’t begin to figure out how to design or set one up. The new stuff is very cool and much more flexible and customizable, and I’ll be able to use it just fine. There’s some sadness in realizing something I thought was a useful skill set is less useful than it was.

Of course, not everyone needs to be a web designer and I have skills and experience in other things. It just feels a little, I don’t know, as though I crossed some kind of threshold of senior-ness that I’m letting go of something I used to do often and well. I can still play in the shallow end of the design pool but getting caught up enough to swim in the deep end would take more work for smaller results than are worth the effort. I like making pages and playing with it all but not enough to apply myself to get caught up on the things that have kept going while I stood still. (Sorry for all the mixed metaphors!)

I enjoy blogging more than playing with web code. It gives me a chance to focus on content, on words and expression, rather than design which was never my strong point anyway. Time marches on.