Why I Put Fair Blows the Wind at Number Three

Dear Louis L’Amour Fans,

I had changed my chronology of the first three books to put Fair Blows the Wind back as the first book to read in the series after I had received an e-mail pointing out that Louis himself had stated that the hulk of the ship that Barnabas takes shelter in is, in fact, the same one that Tatton Chantry had found. Since Louis makes this distinction then I must, of course, follow it in the chronology titled Louis’ Chronolgy.

However, when I very first started reading these novels, not having access to any websites and before The Sackett Companion was written, I placed Fair Blows the Wind as the third book in the series. While it is true that if you follow the dates that stated in the texts you can figure out the timing, there was one incident that stood out to me. In Fair Blows the Wind, in chapter 5, Tatton mentions an old fisherman that gave him some money and clothes and advice to, “Leave the shore and go inland away from it. There be, many accents in England…try to learn a trade…” In chapter 21 of To the Far Blue Mountains a lad stows away on Barnabas’ ship in Ireland and is discovered when they land. The description of the boy is the same as Tatton, with the fine shoulders and the conversation that Barnabas has with him is almost exactly the same. At the end of the chapter the lad says, “My name?”He hesitated. “My first is Tatton. I’ll not be telling the other.”

When I got the idea to make a website with a chronology of the Sackett, Chantry and Talon families I remembered the scene. I had not read all of the first three books I list very closely together and did not think to look up dates, I just figured the scenes were meant to be the same, so I made Fair Blows the Wind number three. Therefore, with all respect to the fine folks that pointed out the error of it, I will be changing my personal chronology and leaving the LL chronology with Fair Blows the Wind first.

Before I Anounce My New Blog

Okay, before I announce to the world this new site, I am going to undertake the task of trying to get all of my stuff on here and dated properly.  The temptation that is hard to resist is to fix each piece rather than leave it as I wrote it originally, mistakes, broken links and all.

Everything Is Status Quo

Everything is status quo.  I am grateful to everyone that has been visiting http://miracleali.org and hope that if you can’t afford to donate you would be so kind as to include a link on your own site.  Most of my readers are not (that I am aware of) independently wealthy, but maybe some of yours are…One never can tell, can one?

Abby Normal asked about the picture on the header.  Well, the new software I am using allows the use of pre-made “skins” which makes it a lot easier to work with when getting started.  This one is from a guy named Andreas Viklund, a 27 year old web designer from Jokkmokk, Sweden.  I went to his website and contacted him and asked.  He said,

The picture is an edited and somewhat manipulated photo of a snowy street in the small town of Porjus, northern Sweden (see www.porjus.se for its official website or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porjus for the Wikipedia article).

The town has a population of about 400, and it is where I lived the first 20 years of my life before moving to the larger town Jokkmokk, 45 kilometers south of Porjus. The photo shows the main street, the tourist information center and a café – and the same building as the café (the right house) was where my mother Yvonne worked as a hairdresser and stylist for more than 10 years. Mom died at age 43 in year 2000, so to me the photo is a tribute both to her and to the beautiful village which I grew up in.

The event shown on the photo is the small “christmas market” in the beginning of December 2004, an annual village event which usually draw 80-100 persons out into the cold to meet and get into the christ. That was a cold day, probably around -25 degrees Celsius [ about -13 Fahrenheit ht] – and the afternoon light and the cold air gives a really beautiful effect to the image.

Also note the power lines in the sky, which lead to the powerplant that Porjus is mostly known for.

This made me think of my hometown http://www.shawanoleader.com/2008_Answer_Guide.pdf and surrounding area, which reminds me that I should update you on my dad.  He had his gallbladder out on the 31st and doesn’t feel like he can have any more surgeries.  He didn’t like it and he’s “too old for all that.”  Now, since he has his own experience and has decided this, I can accept it easier than when I knew his arm was being twisted by many different sources.  Fortunately for him he’s still got a pretty strong arm. *sigh*  I haven’t met anyone yet, with any experience or knowledge, who thinks he would truly benefit from chemotherapy and I really don’t know, myself although not being there I could not have much influence anyway.  Well, that’s cheery.

Here are a couple of pieces that are attributed to Jeff Foxworthy, http://www.jefffoxworthy.com/homepage.shtml but which came from floating around in cyberspace and eventually e-mailed to me by Carter.  I did a cursory look and couldn’t find out one way or the other.  If he’s ever been to Wisconsin then probably some of these are his.

ON WISCONSIN

(Attributed to Jeff Foxworthy)

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 38 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you’re proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Park Falls is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have ever refused to buy something because it’s “too spendy”, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you instinctively walk like a penguin for five months out of the year, you might live in Wisconsin.

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don’t work there, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your dad’s suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you may not have actually eaten it, but you have heard of Head Cheese, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have either a pet or a child named “Brett”, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you know how to say Oconomowoc, Waukesha, Menomonee & Manitowoc, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy, you might live in Wisconsin.

If every time you see moonlight on a lake, you think of a dancing bear, and you sing gently, “From the land of sky-blue waters….”, you might live in Wisconsin.

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A TRUE WISCONSINITE WHEN:

Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway.

“Vacation” means going up north past Hwy 8 for the weekend.

You measure distance in hours.

You know several people who have hit deer more than once.

You often switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day and back again.

Your whole family wears Packer Green to church on Sunday.

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings and funerals).

You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

You think of the major food groups as beer, fish, cheese and venison.

You carry jumper cables in your car and your wife or girlfriend knows how to use them.

There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at Mill’s Fleet Farm at any given time.

You design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

You refer to the Packers as “We.”

You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

You have no problem pronouncing Lac Du Flambeau.

You consider Minneapolis exotic.

You know how to polka.

Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce.

You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age.

Down South to you means Illinois.

A brat is something you eat.

Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole shed.

You go out to fish fry every Friday.

Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

You find minus twenty degrees “a little chilly.”

You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Wisconsin friends.

So, that’s it for now, remember, the Good Book says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die[…]A time to weep, and a time to laugh…”

Error

Beware the Ides of June!

Or

Aaaaaarrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

I knew something was wrong before I even got Daveman’s ominous message, “herb – i cant comment on yer blog entry. i thought maybe it had to be approved, but it never showed, so i assume it just never made it. pops had same prob.”

Let me tell you the one drawback to doing things on your own and being completely independent; you can’t blame anyone.  You can’t say, “Well, the company’s screwy servers or laid-back service are at fault.”  In my defense, I really am not sure what went wrong, exactly, but I did spend a very long time down trying to fix it.  One thing I do when I am trying to fix something is start a document I name “Error Log” where I make notes to myself on what I have tried so far.  This is useful when posting on a support forum or if you either have a bad memory or are particularly hard headed and try the same procedure seven or eight times because you think, “Oh, well, this time it’ll work.”  Some edited excerpts from my “error log.”  This covers the time from 4:06 am on the thirteenth through 5:05 am on the seventeenth.

I had posted an article that had a time set in the future, which I hadn’t meant to do, so I logged back in and went into the “Articles” screen to change the time.  I couldn’t get into it to delete it and none of the other tabs worked, so I waited until after the time it was to be posted, but then couldn’t edit, preview or customize it and the publish date was frozen.  Nothing opened.

I got the last “clean” copy of sNews 1.6 along with the Index file and the .htaccess file that worked and put them on the server and had the same problem.  This said SQL problem.  Went into the Phpmyadmin 2.9.1.1 and clicked on main name of database, after playing with several tabs, found one marked “Operations” (there wasn’t one marked brain surgery, which I needed) which shared this with me:

Error

The additional features for working with linked tables have been deactivated. To find out why click here.

So I click and it supplies this less than helpful information:

PMA Database … not OK[ Documentation ]

General relation features Disabled

Well, I may have some dysfunctional relatives, but I never disabled anybody, but the link provides the following, which is also less than helpful:

$cfg[‘Servers’][$i][‘pmadb’] string

The name of the database containing the linked-tables infrastructure.

See the Linked-tables infrastructure section in this document to see the benefits of this infrastructure, and for a quick way of creating this database and the needed tables.

If you are the only user of this phpMyAdmin installation, you can use your current database to store those special tables; in this case, just put your current database name in $cfg[‘Servers’][$i][‘pmadb’]. For a multi-user installation, set this parameter to the name of your central database containing the linked-tables infrastructure.

Now I will tell you, I was lost.  I had gotten lost early on, but plowed ahead, pushing buttons and clicking things that I thought should help.  Finally, I decided to ask for help, which, to me, is a lot like asking for directions is to other guys, but I was licked, beat, defeated, whupped, laid-out, and left for dead.  One of the good pieces of advice I received was to export the SQL data to a file on my computer as a backup before I tried too much more.  This was good advice, but if you don’t do it right you wind up with a file that has a bunch of extraneous data in it which gums up the works later.  That was the way I did it.  I wound up not being able to export the data only, there was no field for that, so I just did a complete export.

But I was glad to have had a backup of any type, because then I deleted the original database completely.  This was scary, because if I could not fix it, everything that had posted, including everyone’s comments, would be gone.  To me that is the most important part.  I have or can get most of the original Word documents I wrote the entries in, but the comments?  What would I do without the comments?  That would be awful.  I love getting comments and feedback.

A nice person on the support forum http://www.solucija.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=33007#p33007 showed me the correct way to backup the database and fix the problem, but I had already done it, as Libby the Kid used to say, “Sideways, sort of.”  It was interesting to me to compare the two files after this was all done.  I don’t know if you recall the entry http://herbthiel.com/general/reprint-a-part/ where I discussed a little about how code works, but I could easily see that the code I had saved did not have 2 important commands but did have a couple of others that only confused the poor little computer.  Example,

DROP TABLE IF EXISTS `articles`;

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `articles`

If you save the code that says to create the table and the table already exists, and you didn’t save the code that says to ignore it if it does, well, there ya go.  A confused critter.  Just like me.

Then I forgot that, if you give the database a new name, you have to change the settings in the program that is looking for it, in this case the Blog.  And, if the change you make to the program isn’t typed in correctly (Or is typed incorrectly) because you are in a hurry, it will look to you like nothing has been misspelled, since you never make spelling errors.  This creates a different kind of error.  A new problem, which you hadn’t encountered before.  I had to change dbhost field in sNews16, but I had to figure out that that was the problem, first.

So I created a new db from scratch, installed plain jane sNews, was able to log in normally and all functions seemed to work.

Edited down sql file to “dumping data for” and saved only the articles, categories and comments, which were the most important to me, personally.  Reinstalled the template, typed a test article and here we are.

Or, more accurately, here I Aaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!!

Remember, the good book says, “SQL stands for, Should Quit and Leave.”

Reprint a Part

Hi all.  I just decided to reprint a portion of one of my favorite entries to try and straighten out my pages and dates.  Here it is:

It is always hard for me to realize that it does not have to be absolutely perfect.  I can get sidetracked on making one small portion exactly how I want it and by doing so I take forever.  If I could do that at the right times it would be great.  So, anyway, I am going to leave the BD page “as is” and link to some of the articles there until I can re-archive them here.  Eventually I will have everything here, but nobody is getting to hear my great wit and wisdom if I spend all my time “tweaking” and not writing.  I enjoy the “tweaking” part, though.  I like playing with the HTML and javascripts and now I am seeing what .asp and .php can do and I am fascinated by how it all works.  On the Word Press support page, http://wordpress.org/ is a quote that says “Code is Poetry.”  Sometimes I think it’s true.  A lot of programming seems to be merely a combination of understanding the parameters and then putting in variations of “if,” “then” and “else.”  A computer seems like a “person” that has never done anything.  What I mean is, say you have never had to go across the street to make a phone call (bad example since phone booths are almost obsolete or good example because phone booths are almost obsolete?).  A computer program for a new robot might go something like this:

Take this coin, called a dime, in your hand.

Memorize this number, (123)555-5555.

Put the coin in your pocket, releasing it when it touches the bottom of the pocket.

Walk to the door.

Grasping the knob, turn it and pull the door towards you with a smooth, steady motion.

Walk out the door and pull the door shut as you leave.

Orient your position so you are facing down the hard, flat surface called “sidewalk.”

When you reach the end of the sidewalk, you will reach another, larger, “sidewalk.”

To continue down the “sidewalk,” turn right and walk until you reach a point where the “sidewalk” discontinues in a drop-off called “curb.”

Stop

Orient yourself by turning left.

(I will skip some details of our program, but you would have to describe the blacktop, the stop and go light, the lines of the crosswalk, etc, then)

If light is green,

Then cross street

(Or) Else stop and wait for light to change.

When light is green, cross street.

(Here we describe the phone booth and how to enter it and what the various parts of the telephonic communication device look like.)

Pick up receiver and hold transmitter to your mouth and receiver speaker to ear.

Retrieve dime coin from pocket.

Insert it in the slot marked “Insert Coins Here.”

Listen for dial tone.

If dial tone sounds normally;

Then; Begin process called dialing by determining input mechanism type, rotary dial or pushbutton keypad.

If rotary dial, then;

Using index finger of empty hand, gently insert into hole covering corresponding number and rotate dial clockwise until it stops or reaches stop, then remove the finger and release the dial and wait for it to stop its return.  Follow same procedure until all numbers are dialed.  (Anyone remember the George Carlin joke about calling the operator and giving your finger a free ride back from “zero?”)

Else if pushbutton keypad…etc.

Then you would go on to explain what to do if the line is busy, how long to let the phone ring before hanging up, what to do if someone answers, etc.  Then you have to give instructions on how to get back to where he started, the whole thing might be like trying to explain to a man the correct procedure to follow to do a load of laundry.  Well, okay, easier than that, but you get the idea.  And what if your robot finds there is no phone booth or that the phone has been stolen or vandalized?

When writing web pages you have a program called a browser that is already instructed in what the door is, the streets, the lights, etc, you just have to tell it what you want it to do.  (I know there is a Programmer or Writer of Code out there going, “There’s a problem with your “If, Then, Else” routine and really, there are a lot better examples to use.”  I know, but it’s just my imperfect way of explaining.)

I like my new digs.  I am still learning some stuff…It’s all a work-in-progress so far and I appreciate your patience.

In honor of Reb Tevya from Fiddler on the Roof, I end all my entries with a quote from The Good Book or, er, sometimes just a good book and I think I’ll keep that up.

Remember, The Good Book says, “…have patience with me…”

Eureka!!!

Eureka!!  Woo-Hoo!  I done it!  I moved the tagboard to the bottom.  No…but I have been trying to modify my website to do more of what I really want it to do and you (should be) looking at the results.  I am working with a new (to me.  I guess I should say, “different”) CMS (Content Management Software) called “sNews 1.6” http://www.solucija.com/home/snews/ which is a simple, friendly program that is easy to modify with a help forum that is just awesome.  Immediate (as possible), friendly, responses are the norm.  This template was designed by David Herreman over at Free Css Templates http://www.free-css-templates.com/  who also responded to my e-mail very quickly.

I had tweaked and tweaked and tweaked and putzed and diddle-potzed with the HTML and CSS coding for hours but couldn’t make a couple of things come out right.  When it showed up in IE6 one way, it was messed up in Firefox, and vice versa.  I finally gave in and sent him an e-mail asking for help.  Of course then I figured out the answer the next morning, solving it on my own.

This program (sNews) http://www.solucija.com/home/snews/  puts the newest entry on top of the front page and since I am going through the inexorable process of copying and pasting all of my favorite entries from my previous blog onto this server, what happens is there will be al sorts of odd, old articles on the front at first.  To solve this I am going to “hardwire” this article into the front page, so the latest article to be added will be below that.

A problem that some of you have had was that the parchment background wasn’t showing up and you had to highlight the text to read it.  I don’t know if this is because you may have images turned off to speed up browsing or a problem with a connection or something else, like the browser type or version.  I solved it (hopefully) by changing the base background color.

I am still going to moderate the comments because the WordPress blog has been receiving tons of spam, and I don’t mean the kind that’s good with mustard.  What this means to you is that your comments won’t show up right away.

Okay, so the tagboard is kind of an eyesore but it is the only one that has worked for me, so it will have to stay, but I did move it to the bottom.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for being so patient with me as I go through this learning process while using a dial-up connection.

Remember, the good book says, “If punctuation marks the traffic signals of language, commas in a list sometimes incrementally apply the brakes.”  Or was that Lynne truss?

Customer Service

Now here is a lesson in customer service and positive PR that some websites would do well to learn from.  In my last entry I mentioned, sort of “en passant,” that Carter and I had started our website, the long-awaited, much-anticipated “Republic of Bob” on a website called Wetpaint.com.  I referred to my disdain at the editing system and was greeted with the following comment on my blog:

 

“Posted by Kevin @ 12/08/2006 11:47 AM PST

Hi Herb! We’re glad to see you’re using Wetpaint. With regard to comments, you can change the setting to require folks to register/sign in before leaving comments if you so wish. And if you have a moment to let us know where we’re falling short on the editing side of things, we’d love to hear it…we’re always trying to get better. If you want, write directly to kevin at wetpaint dot com. Best, Kevin”

 

I was impressed, since, as you will see (and if you are a Blogdrive user, you probably know, since so many have gone to Yahoo! 360 and elsewhere), I have never been contacted by anyone at Blogdrive except volunteer help-staff on the forums.

I decided to take Kevin at his word and had the following e-mail conversation with him.  I put it in chronological order to facilitate easier reading and took out my home address.  Otherwise it is verbatim.  I will definitely be using them for more things.  If I get a chance I will e-mail Pen, also, about her diet blog.

 

“Dear Kevin,

First of all let me thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving me a comment!  I have been with Blogdrive as a blogger since October of 2004 (http://herbthiel.blogdrive.com/archive/1.html ) and have never had one of the owners/leaders/bosses, etc. visit or leave a comment.  They don’t even stop by their trouble forum when there are major problems with their servers unless the customers are preparing to hang them in effigy.  The help forums are usually manned by volunteers, so to see your comment was a welcome surprise and appreciated.  I suppose you found my blog using some sort of “bot” to seek out mention of your site since I don’t have lots of readers, but I do have some loyal ones.

My problems with wetpaint are simple.  I think anyone who has a website, even if it’s free, ought to be able to edit the HTML on it, creating their own backgrounds and changing templates to fit their own whims and fancies.  There is a lot you can do with HTML.  You could also allow some javascripts, which are a lot of fun.  Also, the “easy edit” buttons don’t allow changing colors, text background or any font sizes other than the 3.  Those are the ones I can remember in particular at the moment.

The reason I cc’d Cavtrooper is that he is the other main member at the site for right now and we are something sort of akin to partners, except that he is quite a bit uglier.

I do appreciate your interest and think that wetpaint is pretty cool, just awkward at the moment.  If I didn’t like it I certainly would not have signed up.

Herb”

 

Carter King

“I are not uglier.”

 

Me Back to Carter

Yer feet are smellier too.  Don’t know if you saw the comment on my blog that I am referring to.  I am guessing that Kevin is somebody of a certain amount of import.  Do you think I said it all pretty concisely?

 

Kevin to Me

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the note…we REALLY appreciate any and all feedback from those who use our service.  More often than not, they know our product better than we do.  And they always come up with the best suggestions on how to make it better.

I found your blog through Google Alerts or Technorati…can’t recall which but both do a pretty good job of surfacing Wetpaint mentions.

With regard to your specific feedback, here is a couple of thoughts and what we’re up to here to address them…

HTML editing … when we started Wetpaint, our target was the non-technical person who wouldn’t know HTML from a hole in the wall.  We went about eliminating its need through our WYSIWYG editor.  Our biggest surprise when we did this was the feedback we got from folks who did know how to use HTML.  Man….they really like it (and we agree…it serves some super useful purposes).  We’re working on allowing HTML into Wetpaint.  At the same time, we’re also trying hard to keep someone who doesn’t understand HTML from freaking out when they see it on the site.  At the end of the day, we think it’s much more valuable to get as many people involved in the conversation as possible.  If technical know how limits participation, the technology is doing a disservice.

Javascript … totally agree with that one.  We’re working on pretty much anything that would enhance your ability to customize the site to your specifications.

Fonts … totally agree.  Our next release which is in a couple of days will allow you to change fonts and font sizes.  Font color will come soon thereafter.

Thanks again for the note and if anything pops up in the future, please let me know.  And if you have any specific feature requests, pass them along.

Best,

–Kevin

Wetpaint

Kevin,

Thanks for the response.  It makes sense about HTML (w/CSS) if your target market was people who know little technically but want to join in the fun.  It is perfect for beginners and since you have all of these other changes in the works as well, I think I probably joined at the right time.

Would you mind if I posted our conversation on my blog?  I would like to show people the kind of customer service I got.  I did this with a Nabisco e-mail correspondence I had and it went over really well.  I think that, (when I get time) I will add a link, not only to the Republic of Bob but to wetpaint itself.

Thanks Again,

Herb

 

Hey Bob,

Feel free to post our conversation on your blog and I hope you and your cohort continue to use Wetpaint going forward.  And for the ultimate in sucking up and thanks for adding a link, send me your address and t-shirt size and we’ll deck you out in full Wetpaint paraphernalia, if you’re so inclined.  J

Talk to you soon,

Kevin

COOL!!!

Herb Thiel

 

Me to Kevin

So I better ask again if you want Carter’s info or not.

 

Kevin to Me

Sure…sorry…too little coffee today.

 

End of correspondence.

So I sent him Carter’s info as well.  Now that was nice.  I have always been taught that a pro-active approach to customer service is a lot better way to get and keep customers.

And the Good Book does say, “It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.”