Doing the To-Dos

It’s amazing how light one feels when everything is wiped off the to-do list, at least temporarily. Yesterday I finally published my new website with no problems — yeah! (You can check it out here: https://patbertram.com) I decided to stick with my current car insurance because of lower deductibles and accident forgiveness, so I paid that bill as well as several others. I cleaned out the file of old bills. I’m sure there were several other small chores done, too. What a great feeling!

I carried that feeling over into this day until I was scared half out of my mind by a loud screeching noise. It turns out my phone was screaming at me about a dangerous dust storm in the area. As if I didn’t know. All I had to do was look out the window. Or, if I didn’t look out the window, all I had to do was open the door, see all the blowing dust, and quickly shut the door on the outside world.

I hadn’t been able to locate the permissions for that alert app so I could turn off the notifications. If an alert goes off in the night, it would probably scare me into a heart attack. Luckily, I finally managed to turn off all notifications. If I ever feel the need, I can always turn them on again, but for now, it’s more of an annoyance than a lifesaver. When I go out, I check the weather anyway, otherwise, it doesn’t matter. Besides, I can’t do anything about the weather, war, riots, whatever, so it’s better if I slept through it.

Because of my finally finding that permission setting, I hunted once more for the photo editor permissions. I have no idea why the default setting was “no permissions” because with no permissions, the app wouldn’t work. I’d never been able to find the permissions before, and even though I didn’t find them today, I did something in the search for that setting that turned on the photo editor.

Now I just have to figure out how to turn off the “Find my phone” app. It keeps telling me . . . something. Maybe that I need to sign up for it. Apparently, I can’t turn off the notifications they keep sending me to sign up for the app unless I sign up for app, which makes no sense to me, but that’s a conundrum for a different day. (And I wondered why I was so hesitant to fiddle with my website!)

Speaking of conundrums: for some reason, WordPress held the comments of some long-time commenters for moderation. If this happened to you, or happens sometime in the future, please do not take it personally. It’s merely a blip in the program. I would never require moderation for those of you who come here frequently.

So, that’s my day. How is yours?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

New Website!

I’ve been hesitating about publishing my new website. Yesterday I said I didn’t know why, but I do — it’s that so often things go wrong and I simply did not feel up to dealing with any crisis. For example, books that I get from other sources than Barnes and Noble will sometimes show up on my nook and sometimes not. So frustrating!

But putting off the inevitable doesn’t guarantee that the frustration level of publishing a new website will be any less than if I did it immediately, so today, I pushed the button.

Nothing happened. The computer didn’t blow up. The sun kept shining. The wind kept blowing. And the old website remained.

Luckily, all it took was time. Eventually, the new website showed up. It seems okay to me, though the real thing looks a lot different from the preview. The difference comes mostly in the size of the font and the photos, though there isn’t anything I can do about that — the template comes pre-sized.

Still, I am pleased, with both the way the site and that it is finished.

The best thing about the site is that it is now secured. My old site, since was an http address rather than an https address, came with a google warning that it was unsecured. It’s also mobile ready so that it fits well in a cell phone’s screen.

If you care to take a look, you can find the site at Home (patbertram.com). Feel free to let me know if you see any typos or anything that doesn’t look quite right.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Hesitating

The demise of Adobe Flash Player made my old web builder defunct, so I’ve had to create a new website using a more current web builder. Although intimidating at first, the new web builder was actually easy and fun and intuitive. (I prefer intuitive programs because I don’t have to watch boring videos or read long articles of instruction. I can simply . . . do.)

Now, to the best of my knowledge, the new website is finished. I just have to click “publish” for it to go live, but I hesitate to take that final step. I don’t know why. It’s not as if the world as I know it will end. The old site will end, of course, with no way to get it back, but most of what was on there is posted in other places, so I can recover any information I inadvertently leave off the new site. And I can always redo the new site if I need to make changes.

But still, I hesitate.

Partly, I don’t want to have to go through the site once it’s published to make sure I did everything right. I’ve read through everything so many times that I’ve developed a blind spot for those words. Partly (even though this justification of my procrastination is something I just now thought of rather than a real reason for delaying), the longer I wait, the fresher those words will seem and so I’ll be able to read them as they are rather than as I wish them to be. And partly . . . who knows. Stubbornness, maybe, or contrariness. Although I like the new site better than the old one — it’s much more professional and easier for people to use — I’m still being forced to change, and I don’t like the feeling of being herded.

So I hesitate some more.

I’d considered pausing here and hitting the “publish” button so I could brag that I did it, but . . . well, I didn’t.

Maybe this weekend I’ll gather the courage to publish my new site. Or not. We’ll see.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Searching for a Tagline

I’ve been struggling with my new website, and I’ve mostly learned how to use the website builder, or at least as much as I need to know for right now. I’ve pretty much set up the bones of the site; now it needs to be fleshed out with information about me and my books. The book part, while time-consuming, is easy. It’s just a matter of coping and pasting the blurbs and such that were on the old website.

The “about” needs to be updated. I can no longer brag about being a nomad as I did in the previous bio since I am as unnomadish as a person can get — the furthest I’ve been from home in the past few months is a mere handful of miles. But the bio is really just a matter of finding something to say about me. Whatever it is, it won’t be on the homepage; people will have to go looking for it, so it doesn’t have to be as catchy as some of the other parts of the website, such as the tagline.

Taglines are hard. You have to give the essence of your books or yourself in a matter of a few words. This morning I woke up thinking that “Author of provocative fiction and profound works of grief” would be good, but a few hours later that tagline seemed as if it would be too off putting for people who are simply looking for a bit of information about grief. Of course, search engines wouldn’t be sending them to my website for such information — they’d send grievers to one of the grief posts on my blog. Chances are, the only people who would end up at the website would be those who were specifically looking for information about me.

More importantly (to me anyway), I’m trying not to second guess myself too much and to stick with the first ideas that come to mind. Still, I want to hook people into staying, not push them away with pedantry.

So, what about “Author of intriguing fiction and insightful works about grief”?

Originally, I just used, “Author of fiction and non-fiction,” but that is boring and uninspiring to say the least.

If you have any suggestions for a tagline, I’d be glad to hear it.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Web Building

I spent a good part of the day working on my website. It had to be updated anyway because of my new book, Bob, The Right Hand of God, but this is more than a simple update. Because of Adobe Flash being discontinued, my ancient website is becoming defunct (even though my site was a plain old non-flash site, with stationary photos and text), I have to learn a new website builder and redo the entire site.

It’s not really all that complicated; it’s more of a matter of learning how to find what I need and to decide what I want to say. To that end, I looked at various examples of author websites, and though it didn’t really help much, it made me feel as if I were doing something to further my “author-ity.”

One of the problems I have that other authors don’t is the variety of genres I work with. Most authors stick with fiction or non-fiction. If fiction, they write one sort of novel, such as romances or mystery or fantasy. If non-fiction, they stick to a certain topic. Although I do stick to one topic with my non-fiction books — grief — my novels span multiple genres.

Back when I was learning to write, all the books said to write in a recognizable genre. You can put romance elements in mystery, or mystery elements in romance, but basically, you need to brand yourself by making sure your stories are predominately one thing. Well, I didn’t do that — I can only write the books that are in my head, after all, and those books ramble all over the genre spectrum. But now I know why it’s important to do what the others said to do and not what I did — it makes it a whole lot easier to figure out what to focus on when promoting yourself, and especially in figuring out what to focus on for a website.

Do I focus on grief? After all, my grief books sell more than the others.

Do I focus on the fiction? After all, most of my books are novels.

For now, I’m doing what a lot of authors do — put up a photo of myself and a gallery of my book covers on the home page, and then feature each book on a separate page.

The hardest part is to find the site in progress. If I go to the web builder page, they don’t seem to recognize what I’ve already done, so I have to click the link in the email they sent when they informed me of the pending changes. (From what one of the tech people I talked to said, I gather there are two distinct builders on my site — a free one that they gave me in exchange for the defunct one, and one I will have to pay for after an introductory period. And it’s the free one that’s hard to find.)

Mostly though, it’s just a matter of doing the work. Luckily, the old site is still up, so I have time to figure it all out and then to do what I need to do to build my website.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Out With the Old

Sometimes getting to the truth even about something as simple as a web site builder is almost impossible. Not that a website builder is simple by any means, but compared to the big questions concerning life and death, it is simple because there is an answer if you can find someone who will tell the truth.

And therein lies the problem.

About two months ago, I got an email from by website provider saying that with the demise of the Adobe Flash Player, my website will no longer be active, and they are switching me to a new website builder. The original builder, although wieldy to work with, was actually pretty simple to understand. This one, I just stared at in total non-comprehension. I’m not an IT person by any means, but over the years, I’ve learned how to do a lot of things, but this one has me flummoxed because it is so different.

So I called the company, and the person who responded said I didn’t have to do anything, that the tools would do most of the work, and that an actual person would work on the site and get it going for me.

A week later, I got another email from the company, reminding me about the upcoming change, and that I had to take action. So again, I called the company, and the person who answered iterated what the first person had said, and added that an entire division had been added to take care of the conversion.

Well, today, I got another email telling me I have to switch my account over, and that experts are standing by in case I have questions, which is entirely different from their actually doing the work. So I called again, and apparently, those first two guys were wrong. I do have to set up the website myself.

Now, instead of two months to figure out what the heck I’m doing, I have less than two weeks during Christmas season to update the site. Eek.

This guy said that the old website wouldn’t simply disappear at the end of the month, and since I don’t have anything that used the Adobe Flash player, I should be okay, but “should” isn’t much of a guarantee. He also said I have a very old web builder, that it was old when he started working there six years ago (as if six years is ancient history, which in tech terms, I suppose it is.)

The good news is that I will have many more pages at my disposal, the site will be mobile friendly, and it will follow Google’s security guidelines.

Once I get over my snit about being strung along for so many weeks, it might be fun to play around with a new site. At least I hope so.

Now I just have to figure out what pages I want, what I need to put on those pages, what I want to highlight on the front page, and how best to showcase my books.

Wish me luck. Or better yet, offer suggestions of what you like to see in a website!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Waste Paper

I was ripping my name off a slew of catalogs I got in the mail when I remembered a talk some man gave my class when I was in the eighth grade. This was decades before the internet, decades even before computers were commonplace. In fact, back then, a computer occupied almost two thousand square feet and weighed fifty tons. Any cell phone today has 1,300 times more power than those computers did, but those computers fueled the imagination. And what that man talked about was simply his imaginative extrapolation of what the world would be like in the future.

He talked of personal phones we could carry with us, though I don’t think he mentioned the multiple functions those phones now have. He talked about computers running the world, about how menial jobs would be a thing of the past since computers would do all the work, and how we’d all have more free time, though the truth is, working folks today have less free time than people did back then.

What he did say, what many people have said over the years, and what stuck with me and inspired this blog, is that we would be a paperless society in the not-too-distant future. Well, that talk was in my distant past, and as far as I know, there has been no reduction in paper. Some statistics say we use more per capita, some say we use less, so I don’t know what the truth is. But considering the number of catalogs I receive and the amount of junk mail, my personal consumption of paper is way up.

I do get a couple of bills via email and pay online, but the elimination of those few pieces of paper is offset a hundred times by the avalanche of catalogs. If I request no catalogs, they sell my name to someone who will send me catalogs.

Yep, here we are, way beyond that not-too-distant future, and paper use is astronomical.

Don’t get me wrong — I love paper. Plain white paper. Colored paper. Wrapping paper. Note paper. Lined paper. Notebook paper. Origami paper. All kinds and thicknesses of paper. It’s an amazing and versatile product that brightens my day, especially when I get a greeting card or read a book or jot down possible topics for this blog. I am especially grateful that the tarot cards I’m trying to learn are just that — cards — and not some electronic device that will shuffle and deal the non-existent cards for me. (There are such programs, and I do check one out occasionally, but that’s different than my getting a feel for the cards.)

Although I’m now in the habit of writing using a keyboard, my first books were all written longhand because I have much better brain/hand coordination than I do brain/keyboard. And although I do read ebooks, I am still old-fashioned enough to like physical printed books.

As you can see, it’s not paper as a valuable commodity I would like to see less of, just a lot less waste paper.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

“Star” Gazing

Last night when I was walking home from work, I stopped in an area where houses blocked the strongest of the street lights and looked up at the sky. I saw very few stars, but realizing how long it takes my eyes to adjust now, I kept looking, and gradually, more stars showed themselves.

As I was staring up at the sky, I happened to notice a bright star-like light on the southwestern horizon. It was going too fast to be natural and too slow to be an airplane. Following that first light, another appeared, and then another until there were at least fifty “stars” strung across the sky, disappearing into the northeast sky.

It was such an odd and eerie sight, that I couldn’t take my eyes off that almost evenly-spaced line.

When I got home, I checked to see what it was I had seen. Apparently, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, co-founder of PayPal, and founder of SpaceX, owns these satellites. He launched the first set of sixty in May of 2019, the second set of sixty in April of 2020, and he eventually hopes to launch a total of 12,000. All in an effort to bring the internet to remote areas.

This seems a rather egregious use of power. I don’t even understand why he was allowed to do this. Nor do I believe his stated aim of bringing the internet to remote areas. I mean, how would that be cost effective? Remoteness connotes isolation, which basically means very few people. So, spending billions to make perhaps millions? I don’t think so.

Still, I’m trying not to have an opinion of things I cannot control, so I will try to forget who owns those satellites, try not to worry about what they are doing over my head, and just remember the eeriness of watching that string of twinklers slowly marching across the sky.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Who Visits My Blog

Someone asked me yesterday if anyone reads my blog. She seemed shocked when I told her people all around the world have visited this blog. Most come from the USA and other English speaking countries. Others come from countries I’ve never even heard of, and yet, someone in those countries has heard of me. What an amazing thing the internet is!

Here is a map showing where my visitors originate:

Pink shows visitors, and the darker the pink, the more visitors. Apparently, if I am reading the map correctly, the only places from which no visitors have come are Svalbard, Turkmenistan, Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, and Central African Republic. I find this utterly astonishing. Not to be disingenuous, but I simply can’t imagine being interesting enough to attract so many different people.

Here is the incredible list of countries where visitors have come from. (The number represents visitations only, not views, since often people click on more than one blog entry, and each click is a view):

United States400,695
United Kingdom71,399
Canada47,758
India43,550
Australia27,431
Philippines8,063
Pakistan7,222
Ireland7,190
South Africa5,205
Malaysia4,555
New Zealand4,548
Singapore4,230
France3,868
Germany3,578
European Union2,706
Indonesia2,385
Netherlands2,166
Brazil1,754
United Arab Emirates1,670
Italy1,574
Hong Kong SAR China1,434
Spain1,381
Russia1,358
Norway1,297
Saudi Arabia1,153
Thailand1,140
Nigeria1,,136
Denmark1,130
Sweden1,102
Japan1,095
Vietnam1,089
Bangladesh1,075
Turkey1,015
Lebanon987
Belgium966
Romania935
Mexico901
Kenya882
South Korea839
Switzerland803
Greece772
Poland761
Argentina706
Nepal682
Israel630
Egypt613
Sri Lanka601
Portugal577
Jamaica574
Finland500
Trinidad & Tobago473
Austria462
Taiwan433
Qatar405
Hungary383
Ukraine362
Malta351
Jordan349
Ghana343
Cambodia332
Serbia329
Czech Republic314
Mauritius312
Bulgaria310
China291
Morocco278
Kuwait275
Croatia264
Slovakia242
Puerto Rico236
American Samoa233
Colombia232
Bahrain219
Slovenia216
Oman196
Iraq186
Tunisia186
Albania181
Algeria176
Tanzania172
Chile170
Cyprus160
Bahamas158
Uganda149
Zimbabwe149
Palestinian Territories148
Myanmar (Burma)148
Lithuania147
Estonia135
Georgia126
Iceland124
Latvia124
British Virgin Islands123
Peru117
Macedonia107
Ecuador106
Costa Rica106
Venezuela104
Guyana103
Botswana102
Brunei98
Bosnia & Herzegovina98
Belize96
Panama93
Armenia92
Isle of Man90
Jersey86
Maldives83
Barbados83
Fiji82
Bhutan75
Luxembourg75
Azerbaijan74
Namibia71
Afghanistan70
Dominican Republic67
Zambia63
Syria62
Kazakhstan61
Yemen59
Antigua & Barbuda59
Ethiopia58
Moldova57
Grenada56
Guatemala55
Papua New Guinea53
Malawi52
Guernsey51
Belarus51
Macau SAR China50
Bermuda50
St. Lucia49
Uruguay48
Cayman Islands47
Guam46
Cameroon46
St. Vincent & Grenadines45
El Salvador43
Libya38
Senegal38
Laos34
Lesotho34
Curaçao33
Rwanda32
Montenegro31
Gibraltar31
Bolivia31
Honduras31
Paraguay29
Mongolia27
Aruba27
Nicaragua27
Swaziland26
U.S. Virgin Islands25
Mozambique24
Monaco24
Suriname21
Sudan20
St. Kitts & Nevis20
Dominica19
Côte d’Ivoire17
Seychelles17
Northern Mariana Islands16
Somalia15
Kyrgyzstan14
Åland Islands14
Uzbekistan12
Congo – Kinshasa12
Angola10
Vanuatu9
Madagascar9
Réunion8
Anguilla7
Liberia7
Guadeloupe7
Djibouti7
Solomon Islands6
Caribbean Netherlands6
Faroe Islands6
Sierra Leone6
Turks & Caicos Islands4
Cook Islands4
Haiti4
Benin4
Liechtenstein3
Burundi3
French Polynesia3
Iran3
Gambia3
Gabon3
Cuba3
Martinique2
Sint Maarten2
Tajikistan2
Timor-Leste2
Mali2
Micronesia2
Falkland Islands1
French Guiana1
St. Helena1
Vatican City1
Samoa1
Burkina Faso1
South Sudan1
Mauritania1
Netherlands Antilles1
Niger1
Congo – Brazzaville1
Cape Verde1
Kiribati1
Marshall Islands1
Montserrat1
Greenland1

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.