Notes from my noodle: May 22

May 22

It turns out, there’s life beyond disc golf!

Let me clarify that. Back in March, I started a second blog. That has somewhat hurt this blog a little. Not a ton, but it’s made it so I don’t publish a new post here every day. That’s not the biggest worry in the world, but it has come to the idea that I have had some issues with said other blog.

See, that blog — which is all about disc golf — has become pretty popular. In two full months, we’ve averaged more than 12,500 page views per month. For being a blog without any advertising and revenue, that’s pretty solid. We’ve gained many readers and have several writers, all working to build a better disc golf community.

I love disc golf, but with a blog and playing and all, it had taken over a portion of my life. I needed that to change so I don't get burned out from it!

What I love about it is we’ve worked as a group to make a great little spot for disc golf news articles and such. We give things in an entertaining way and, usually, with a journalism twist to things. We’ve done some really cool things, such as a women’s week and our weekly polls and such. It’s been fun.

But, like anything else, if you are pushing out a lot of things, you get burned out. I’ve been having a tough time with it lately because I feel like it’s taking up a ton of time and I’m trying to keep fun in it. We make no money on it and we do it in our spare time, so I need to make sure it doesn’t get me. As I said, thankfully we have a few writers and a few more have indicated they want to join. It’s a good group.

Alas, it’s kind of hit me over here with creative. I’m trying to find my “thang” again over here. I want it to be as it used to be. Fun and a way to relieve stress. Being I’m still in a job hunt (which takes up much of my days), I would like to be able to mix some fun here and not just at the other blog. I need this place to write some potpourri and enjoy it again.

That means it’s back to the old — topics ranging from real life to geocaching to pro wrestling to baseball to book/movie reviews to whatever else I can come up with. Earl will be coming back soon and I have some more players to work on for the HooHaa 9.

I’m going to push to get back to some fun here. If you have some blog ideas/topics you think you’d like to read about on the blog, let me know. It’s time to hit the idea notebook and see what I can come up with!

****

So speaking of geocaching, allow me to share this story.

There’s a new cache series in my area. It’s 12 caches total, including the “final” cache. It’s in a state forest land and follows trails (though many of the caches you have to go hacking and bushwhacking off the trails to get). It was a hot, and somewhat humid, day.

I was meeting up with a fellow cachers, who was probably going to have to come and go once or twice to finish. Still, my goal was to complete the series that day. By looking at the map, it appears the caches go in a loop and would bring you back to your car.

Note this is not one of the geocaches we found, but rather just a photo to show that fun is finding these items!

As I arrived to meet the fellow cacher, he says “Why don’t you ride with me and when I have to bold, we’ll go and then when we get back, we can park at the other parking area.”

So, I agreed.

What followed was something out a Keystone Cops type situation.

We did the lower loop of caches and had to decide how to get back to the car the quickest. Caching pal says to continue up trail and there’s a cross over. Alas, nothing came after another nearly half mile. That made us turn around and go back to the roadside.

From there, he bolted the road to grab the car (and I waited as I wasn’t going to keep up with him on this one). While I waited, with an amazing full service phone, I created the spot “Lost” on Foursquare and checked in.

We headed back to his area, where we picked up his daughter and into another town to drop her off to a birthday party. Then back to his place to get his son and do Round 2 of the caches.

We started at the upper parking area, got confused, found another trail and got an idea of the cache layout. With it being hot and on another time schedule, frustration set in early as we couldn’t figure which way to go.

See, I had planned on looping. By not looping, I had no idea where I was as I don’t know this area!

But, we were on target now and we started to cross off the caches. Then we had to go pick up his daughter. And I hadn’t figured all the coords out yet… yikes! Little did I know if I had plugged them in, it wouldn’t have required the third trip.

In the end, as I noted to the fellow cacher, I should have kept my car and could have continued on the path if he needed to go back-and-forth. But, to be fair, it also gave me a fun piece to this blog!

Overall, the series was a heap of fun. We actually might have walked more by doing it the way we did it because we went back and forth to things instead of just going around everything! And, in the end, we got some good stories, had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it, which is what this game is all about, right?

****

Do you ever get into a text conversation with a friend and it takes an odd turn?

It seems to happen to me too often.

Anyway, a conversation that started about bike racing to other sports to sports camps. Out of the blue, I decided to change it up a bit.

Me: I race turtles.

Friend: I thought you like crawfish?

Me: Turtle racing is big money.

Friend: On or out of water.

Me: Road racing.

Me: I once held the record for the 100 meters with a turtle I trained. Crossed in 14.3.

Friend: Is that hours?

Me: Days.

Me: Most people leave. I stay. Even if my turtle loses, I win.

Friend: That’s determination!

Random, I know. But it gave me one heck of a good laugh, that’s for sure!

****

I think it’s time for a Facebook purge.

Every once in a while, it’s worth going through my Facebook contacts and deleting some people. Let’s be honest, there are people on everybody’s Facebook that probably can be purged.

I noticed several people who have disabled or gotten rid of their Facebook, but they still remain “friends.” I have also noticed people I probably haven’t talked to in years. It just seems silly to keep so many. To be fair, I actually do stay in contact with many of the people on my Facebook. Still, I’d like to trim the numbers. I’ll have to see what I can do to bring the numbers down a little.

****

Softball is supposed to start today.

The weather forecast doesn’t look perfect, but we have hope. There is a chance of showers in the morning and then thunderstorms in the afternoon/evening. So, it’s going to be shaky, but hopefully we can get it in and get the season underway.

Another year of softball starts tonight!

We won our second straight league championship last year and this year is going to likely be even harder as a few teams beefed up a little. And that’s what softball should be about. Several good teams battling it out. That makes it fun. I look forward to a strong season.

We’re 35-4 over the past couple of years with, for the most part, the same guys. Other teams are getting better and younger teams (thankfully) are joining the league. So, if we have a few more losses this year, it happens. Hopefully in the end, we’ll have earned our third straight title. But you can never guarantee that to happen.

I’m stoked that we’ve won two straight. Because in this game, teams can win at any point. Figure this — in some 20-plus years of playing softball, I’ve been on teams that have won championships four times. Once in a league I only played part time back in the mid 90s. We won one title in the old Delhi league, which I’m thankful we actually won. Then these past two. We’ve been to finals many times, but finishing it off isn’t easy.

So, the season starts today (hopefully). We’ll see how it goes and check back in at the end of the year!

****

NOTE TO FELLOW BLOGGERS: I am trying to finish a survey I started a few months ago. It’s basically about the male/female blogging tendencies etc. I need a handful of bloggers for each sex to fill things out as I want to try and have an even number of each.

I will be taking some comments and using them in a blog post and everyone who participates will get a link back to their blog.

Please comment here or e-mail me if interested in participating. The survey shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so to fill out.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook

Read More

Blog down, blog down!

Nov 22

Sometimes, I wonder what the heck is going on.

After having my site offline for a few hours after what appears to be some kind of attack or hack, I’m back on. But that doesn’t come without issues. The company I host with was able to use a full backup from two days ago.

Unfortunately, that meant I lost items I have posted (and comments).

Thankfully, I can get the posts back via Google’s cache, so I will be able to replace them. And all comments come to me via e-mail, so I was able to replace them, too.

I also see some interesting things on the cached pages, that being links to stuff. So I guess I know what screwed up my site.

That doesn’t take away from the issue at hand.

How did this happen?

Unfortunately, the host wasn’t able to tell me what happened. All I got when I first e-mailed was this:

“Hello,

As far as we can see your website has been compromised and malicious code was inserted to several of your PHP files:

(I clipped many lines of website stuff here as it made NO sense).

In order to resolve this problem you need to

  • remove malicious code from your PHP files
  • update all your sites’ scripts to the latest versions available with needed security patches and keep them up-to-date
  • change all your passwords and always keep them in a safe place

Please let us know if you need any additional information.”

Yes, I need additional information.

HUH???

How in the name of holy hell am I supposed to fix this? I basically asked that, but in a nicer way, of course!

So all I was told was that they had a full backup from two days ago. And after looking to make sure I had the blog entries and I could quickly replace them when the site came back up, I told them to do what they had to do because I needed and wanted the site back up.

So, while I wait for them to use the backup, I’m writing this post. Hopefully things will get back up soon so I can then do what I need to do in regard to replacing posts/comments and letting the site get back to normal.

I’m now going to change all my passwords, get rid of a few things that seemed to be nailed with this attack and see if anything needs to be updated. Also, I’m going to do a backup now so it’s up to date!

They have given me a few things to do, but one includes using only WP themes. The theme I use is not a WordPress “official” theme as most of them are boring. I’m going to make sure, however, that all my stuff is up to date and I’m going to delete any themes I’m not using in hopes that it will help as well.

Hopefully this will be the only time this happens!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook by clicking the button on the right side of the page!

Read More

Day Zero Project: Completed No. 44

Sep 13

A Day Zero Project goal of P.J.’s has been completed!

Goal completed: Comment on 50 random blogs .

Date completed: September 9, 2011.

Number: 44  (remember, these goals will not all be done in order. It’s a random list where the numbers actually are).

Description: Simply enough, I set out to comment on 50 new blogs that I had never read before.

Why I wanted to do it: The reality is that if one’s blog is going to grow, one needs to visit and read other blogs. That’s for more than the reason of hoping to get others to read your blog. The other reasons to do so is to see what other people are doing, get some inspiration, find ideas, and just see blogging styles. Though I don’t expect to ever take this blog to major heights, I would like it to have a decent following with people who enjoy my blog entries and style. But you can’t just build it without doing other things — which includes checking out and commenting on other blogs.

How I did it: Since starting this project in late 2010, I started visiting a few sites at a time. When I found one I liked, I’d comment — usually more than one. I went through different genres, too. From geocaching, to disc golf to hiking and personal blogs, I visited many subjects and it gave me a good feel of the blogging community. I really enjoyed seeing the different styles and subjects. Eventually, I’ll do a post on my findings because it’s amazing what kind of things I saw out there. So over the course of the time, I just found blogs I really enjoyed and commented on them. Many of them, I still visit and I’m glad I’ve found them. Some aren’t around anymore. Some went in a different direction and lost my attention. But in the end, finding 50 blogs to comment on turned out to actually be harder than I thought because I don’t think posting a comment that says “Nice job!” really works. I tried to make my comments on these blogs be a little bit more.

***

Reminder! Contest going on! I am holding my first (of hopefully many) contests this week. It runs from Sept. 11- to 12:01 a.m. Sept. 18. You can see all the details on the contest post. Enter for your chance to win!

About P.J.’s Day Zero Project: Day Zero is a project where people come up with 101 things to do over 1001 days. I started the project on Oct. 10, 2010 with an anticipated finish date of July 8, 2013. Goals will not be revealed until they are completed. A private list is at the Day Zero website and the list will be made public upon completion of the project. It’s my thoughts that if things are kept private, should I not do them, change or find a way around it, I’d only be cheating myself.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook by clicking the button on the right side of the page!

Read More

Contests, contests, contests!

Sep 07

Contests are coming to a ‘lil HooHaa.

Over the past several months, I’ve been putting aside things I knew I could give away in contests. They might be things I’ve picked up elsewhere, won at events or something else. Some people have donated things to me, knowing I’d be having some giveaways.

Some of the items I will be giving away might include:

  • Geocoins
  • Pathtags
  • T-shirts
  • Disc golf items
  • Autographed/game-used baseball cards
  • Signed photos (mainly mine)
  • Author-signed books
  • Geocache containers (such as micros etc.)

I am working on other things, too. I might get some gift cards for things like iTunes or something else. I believe I have a couple of DVDs I have put aside, too. I am working on a few other things.

The reality is, many of these items will be random and can be of interest to a wide variety of people. So I hope, no matter what the prize, you, the readers, will get into these contests and join them.

The best part for you? It’s free!

There will be several ways to enter and win. Many will include working the social media (twitter, Facebook, your own blog) or commenting on my posts. Some might require doing something else — though none will be too hard. I don’t want to scare people away. I want to attract new and old readers to visit my blog on a regular basis. There will usually be a small task to do to enter the contest (usually something in the comments section), but after that there will be easy ways to earn more entries into the contest.

I am going to aim to to a contest once every two or three weeks (depends on my supply of things to give away!). The rules will be quite simple. The time frame will be from noon on a Sunday (the post will be published at noon) and will run until the following Sunday at 12:01 a.m. (In other words, just after midnight!) That gives me time to figure the winner (and any runner-ups if there is more than one prize) and have a blog post ready by noon on Sunday to announce the winner.

The times will be strictly enforced. People will have a full week to do whatever they need to do. I would encourage you to do things early, however, so you don’t forget!

Once the contest ends, I will have use a random way of selecting the winner (it might be a video of me pulling a name out of the hat or it might be me using something such as Random.org, which allows one to put a lot of names in and it randomly picks the winner.

Some notes:

  • If you are someone who would like to donate something to the contests, I would love the donation. It can be anything. If you have ideas on the contest to go with the item, I would be more than happy to listen to the idea.
  • I will be paying for all shipping charges. Some of the smaller things (geocoins, pathtags etc.) will be open to everyone and anywhere. But if I have larger items, I might make it for the United States and Canada only, just because it might be cheaper on the wallet and worries.
  • Full rules will be in EACH contest post. I might change little things, pending on the contest. So make sure to look at the rules!

The first contest will be announced this Sunday. Make sure to check back here. Better yet, like the blog on Facebook to get updates! (There is a Facebook “like” button on the right side of the page, toward the top).

I am also always taking ideas for these contests. With a lot of things to give away, I’d like to make sure I have some cool contests. Keep checking back for your chance to win!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook by clicking the button on the right side of the page!

Read More

Notes from my Noodle: August 30 edition

Aug 30

It’s good to be back and have no worried about hosting issues…

For that last line to make sense, let me go backwards and tell the whole story.

When I post something to my blog, I have an application that automatically posts it to my Facebook wall as well as the wall for this blog (please hit the like button on the right side of the page! Shameless plug, I know!) When I have posts written ahead of time, the application still works.

I had Sunday’s post ready to go at like noon and it never posted to my Facebook wall. That seemed odd to me. So, I thought I might have put the wrong time in and I went to check my blog out.

I was greeted with a mainly white screen and these words…

“Bandwidth Limit Exceeded” (in large, bold typeface).

“The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.”

As you can imagine, I was shocked. I had never reached the limit before. It was several days before the end of the month and I didn’t want to wait it out. I needed to figure something out and fast. One think I’ve thankfully seen is a small growth in the number of visitors who come to my site. When I started doing this on a more regular basis, I would celebrate 20 or 25 visits. I’ve since grown and have seen that number go up by quite a bit, which is nice.

So the last thing I wanted was new readers to come and see that.

Panic mode set in, but after a few deep breaths, away I went to figure this out.

I went to the live chat with my host and discussed possibilities.

Let me say this — I have been with this host company since it was in its infancy. My price plan was excellent because I had done many things back then to get some special perks — such as unlimited add on domains etc. That was their way of saying thank you for writing reviews and such. The company has been excellent to deal with for more than 10 years, so I figured we could work something out.

The person that I chatted said he or she understood my loyalty, but the hands were tied. They couldn’t do partial upgrades. The reality was, I only needed some extra bandwidth. I didn’t need full upgrades.

The bandwidth increase with their basic package would have been way more than I needed. But it took away a lot of what I had earned and apparently the company couldn’t do anything about that. This person kept insisting I needed to upgrade to the “Silver package,” but didn’t understand that I couldn’t afford that big of an upgrade (to be fair, the price isn’t bad… but I didn’t need everything it offered) and I didn’t think it was fair that I had to pay for things I had been rewarded in the past, just to get an upgrade of bandwidth.

After 30 minutes of this, I decided it was going no where, ended the conversation and took it to support.

Tech support was much better to deal with, as they always are. They sent me to billing and the person there understood what I was saying. This person apologized that the company had the policy and he couldn’t do anything about it. That still meant for me to keep everything I had already, I needed to go to the silver package.

Argh!

Alas, this got better as the person I was dealing with offered me a loyalty discount of 30 percent, which brought the price down to almost the basic package. I was also told that price would remain with me. In the end, I decided to accept that offer and my site was soon back online. It also gives my site the ability to really grow as the bandwidth allowed is incredibly more than I had before. Let’s say this, I was on a plan that allowed 3.5 gigs of bandwidth per month and for the first time ever, I went over that. This new plan now allows 15,000 gigs of bandwidth per month. Yeah.

In the end, this host came through again. I have another host that doesn’t have a lot of bandwidth on it with one of my other sites. Though I don’t update that much, it has gone over bandwidth the past couple of months (that one is even lower than the 3.5), so I think I will be canceling that account and bringing that site to this account with the added bandwidth I now have. In the end, I’ll be breaking even on the price for the most part.

***

I'm going to miss covering football on nights like this.

Labor Day weekend is upon us.

In the past, that usually meant I was prepping for the high school football season. Previews needed to be written. Schedules and rosters typed in and proofed. Special sections needed to be done and then there’s the rush of the season. Friday night games with 30 minutes to write a story. Those things I will miss.

Since being laid off in February, this was the time of the year that I wondered how I’d feel. And it stinks. I always looked forward to high school football season and it was one of my favorite beats.

I still plan on going and shooting some photos. Maybe I can freelance for another paper or two. We’ll see. But it will be odd knowing I don’t have to go to a game. Or that I can just go to any game I feel like going to. That’s going to be one perk for sure. If I feel like watching this game over another, I can just head over and do so.

I will say this — I won’t miss the games where I’m standing under a downpour on a really cold Friday night. That’s what radios are for!

***

The waiting game in the job hunt is the worst.

I had a phone interview a few weeks ago for a job that I would love to have. It would be one of those where I think I could make it a career and be happy as can be. I’m not sure how the interview went. Unfortunately, though I thought I was very prepared, a couple of questions caught me off guard. I’m hoping I didn’t ramble too much or give bad answers as I think if I got an in-person interview, I could do really well.

I keep hoping and waiting, so we’ll see.

In the meantime, I keep the job search going and hope for the best. It’s a tough market out there and it keeps getting tougher. I am not sure what I need to do to secure good employment. So goes for that master’s degree really doing wonders for me.

I did send something else out today, so let’s see what happens. I’ll keep pushing along.

***

I’ve been having a good time with the blog as it’s been a way for me to keep writing and such. As it grows in size, however, I know I have to start doing some other things with it. I am working on some features and some journalistic-style things to have soon. I want to do a few series of stories on some things that I have been slowly trying to figure out. I have contacted a few people for each subject, so hopefully it will work out well in those parts. These series of stories, if done the way I have envisioned, will be posted in several installments over a few days.

I’m also working on making the HooHaa 9 stories a weekly thing until I fill the team (and likely keep going). But before I start releasing them, I want to have a couple written so I can be working ahead. Therefore, those probably won’t start until a week or two after Labor Day. There is, of course, the weekly Snapshot Saturday. I don’t want each day to have a “set item” as I do still like having the freedom to write about whatever. But I will be having two or three “set things” for a few days per week.

I have some other ideas for contests and such that I want to start running, so as soon as I get those figured out, I will post them as well.

If you have any good ideas for some topics I can blog about, or a series of stories I could work on, please let me know. Drop a comment or send an e-mail. I’m not looking to break news, rather I’m looking to show a different slice of life.

***

I made a booboo with Postcrossing.

I have wondered why none of the 10 or so postcards I sent recently had arrived at their locations. Well, it turns out I had forgot to send them. Ugh! They have been sitting here on my computer desk, covered by a few other papers and notebooks. I will be getting these out ASAP so they can get to where they need to be!

I have a good pile of postcards here, too. I need to start scanning them and doing some blog posts about them. There are some really wild looking cards and some nice stamps, too.

For those of you who haven’t heard of or have never tried Postcrossing, I highly encourage it.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook by clicking the button on the right side of the page!

Read More

HooHaa Photo blog returns Monday!

Jul 29

I know I’ve said it before — my photo blog is coming back.

As some of you may know, I have had a photo blog for a long time. I used to update it daily. I also spent a bunch of time going to other people’s photo blogs (which I still do at times as I really like the work of a lot of fellow photo bloggers).

Then I got into Flickr.

Doing Flickr, my photo blog and my regular blog became to be tedious. I don’t make money off any of them, so I had to choose. Flickr was the winner, with this blog getting as much attention as I could give it.

It’s remained that way, but every once in a while I get a new comment on the photo blog. And it made me realize that I love that blog, if not for the reason that it’s one photo per day.

So, what I’ve done recently is go through photos I’ve taken over the past six or seven months. Most have been on Flickr, but a lot of people don’t check out my Flickr stream, so it will be new to most. I’ve found more than 100 photos and I’ve started uploading them to my blog. That will give me more than 100 straight days of new photos on the blog.

Yes, I know I’ve done this before. And I know when those photos have run out, I’ve let the blog kind of get stagnant again.

My goal is not to let that happen again.

See, I always tried to make the photo blog timely. You know, get photos up soon after I took them. I’m not so worried about that anymore. The reason is because it’s a photo blog, not a current events blog.

What does that mean for the blog?

It’s simple.

You might see snowshoeing photos in July. Or you might see s pool photo in January. There’s not really going to be rhyme nor reason to when things are posted. I’m going to also keep things split up. So if I have four or five wrestling photos, I’m not going to put them back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I am going to get other things in there so the same subject isn’t always featured.

From there, my goal will to be keep adding on photos at the end of the list. Hopefully that will make it so I won’t have any lapses or have the blog go stagnant.

The first photo I put on that blog came on April 29, 2006. I don’t want to let that blog go to rest without a fight. And I take enough photos where it should be easy enough to maintain it.

I won’t be turning my back on Flickr or this blog. I’m just finding a way to do all three as I like having all of them.

What can you expect?

One photo per day. I am going to make it so the new photo publishes at about 1 a.m. each day. There won’t be a lot of explanation in the photo description. Maybe a who, what, when, where, why sort of thing, but more than likely it will be a who/what and that’s about it.

I’ve been uploading images for a few days and will continue to do so this weekend. Once 1 a.m. August 1 hits, the first of many new images will show up on the blog. I hope you’ll visit daily and enjoy the photos.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com.

 

Read More