Chell's Roost

Blog & gallery of a geeky, anti-lima bean bookworm

We Always Have Choices

The recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage doesn’t sit well with me. That’s the polite way to say it. Before you jump on me, read that first sentence again. “The ruling” doesn’t sit well with me. This isn’t about gay marriage. It’s about the roles of government, and it’s about power and freedom.

I do not believe that the Supreme Court has the power to dictate whether or not individual states allow gay marriage. Individual states should have this power, meaning that people who live in those states would govern themselves, via their elected representatives and their votes on individual items. This is a state issue, not a national issue.

It is not the role of the Supreme Court to define “marriage,” which is exactly what they have attempted to do. Aside from the issue of government roles, there is the issue of religious freedom. The Supreme Court does not get to dictate what the religious concept, marriage, means to individuals and their organizations. This not only goes against the laws of our land, but against natural law. A branch of the government cannot dictate what a person believes. It’s impossible. And to force a person to work against his or her spiritual center is unthinkable.

We always have choices. Sometimes they are not easy choices. Sometimes the choice to settle for nothing less than freedom is a choice that will cause us harm, at least initially, or even death. The US is not currently a place in which we must die to believe as we will. If you believe in blessings, count them. 😉 It is a place in which livelihoods are completely destroyed in the quest for religious freedom. How did we get here?

We got here via our choices. If you are a religious person, you might see certain choices as tests of your character, or even tests of your faith. Even if you are not particularly religious, being presented the options of doing something you think of as wrong, and being harmed for doing what you think is right (while not harming someone else), is a test of character. When the Supreme Court or any part of the government hands us tough choices, we need to make decisions that reflect our character, and that of our beliefs, and that of our country. That’s the way to freedom.

What a Little Rain Can Bring

New Flowerbed

See? No dead plants, yet. I’ve been putting in very, very young (and sort of pitiful) plants, so if they don’t survive me, or Gracie digging in them, I can replace them early enough. Each seems to be doing better by the day. This (right) is what I did with a dead patch of grass. Plenty of room for this and that.

Small Veggie Patch

The veggie garden is super small, this year. We hadn’t planned on planting anything. The tomatoes my daughter and son-in-law gave us are thriving. :) No mocking my makeshift bunny keeper-outer, or the fact that I have to thin some stuff.

Next year, another raised veggie garden. I like the way a smaller space has to be planned out. It’s by the square, rather than by the row.

Farmer Morgan

The ever vigilant Morgan keeps most of the bunnies out of the yard. She tries to do the same with squirrels, but they live above her head, in the walnut trees. Sometimes they scold her, and throw walnuts at her. Stinkin’ squirrels!

Sweet Sixteen

We planted two new apple trees. Our soil is clay, which is very common here, and apple trees aren’t too keen on that. But I mixed some suitable soil in when planting them, so hopefully that will have done the trick. They are varieties, Sweet Sixteen and McIntosh, known to thrive in our sometimes harsh climate.

McIntosh

With the clay soil, I worried about our recent rainfall. It seems to have been unexpectedly good for the trees. At least, they looked happy today, with their new greenery.

Miz Grace thinks she is helping, and it is true that she keeps us smiling with her antics. This, right here, is the look she gives right before losing all patience, nosing the ball to my shoe, and clawing at my foot.

Waiting Impatiently

If the ball isn’t thrown, at that point, she puts on her best pout face, and wins the battle of wills. Now we just have to wait for the new plantings to be taller than the tennis ball. Maybe Gracie can use “the look” to make it happen faster.

Dominoes, Anyone?

I’m not slamming rural areas. Having grown up in Montana, I love being where it is not so populated, where it is safer, and where one can still enjoy nature. The overall place, and the people, are wonderful. After a particularly trying day, I’m just sharing some of my personal experiences and observations when it comes to computer and web programming in such areas. Yes, I know this post applies to many businesses in metropolitan areas too, but it has been my experience that it’s not as pervasive. I think it is a matter of technology having to catch up, like a domino effect.

Many rural business owners suffer from sticker shock when they learn the going rates, even with all of the variances, for web development. Web pages and apps are not physical objects, so how can they have much value? And since anyone can bang out a simple web page in a drag n’ drop editor, why should a programmer be paid to create a website?

My experience with rural area business owners has often been this. The business owner realizes that he should have at least a simple website, since customers have been asking if he has one. The business owner prices out the services of web developers, and is unpleasantly surprised by the average cost. Then he stumbles across a free or cheap service, like Wix, which offers a drag n’ drop interface. Nothing against such services – they definitely have their place. While he mulls over using such a service, he tries to hire an in-house programmer for an hourly wage that is comparable to, or less than, that of a fast food employee. Not that fast food work isn’t plenty demanding, but programming requires a great deal of knowledge. When this fails, the business owner gets an acquaintance to develop a website use the drag n’ drop editor or service, for free or for cheap.

The results, function and, too often, appearance, reflect exactly what was put into the website.

One extension to that scenario is something I have also both seen and had to deflect. The business owner, upon seeing the fees for good web developers, decides to offer web development services. He drums up the business of unsuspecting fellow business owners, and tries, at the same time, to hire a skilled web developer to create the sites (those, and his own), for the aforementioned wages. Or for free, so he can pocket more cash. The fellow business owners have no idea they will be paying for a sub-par service, when no legitimate developers will bite.

It might help if rural business owners start looking at websites like exceptional, around-the-clock salespeople, or public relations representatives, instead of comparing them to tangible objects. In the case of ecommerce, a website should be viewed as a store, which, it is, and it is one that is open twenty-four hours, every day, and handles a variety of back-end tasks. A business owner wouldn’t choose to set up shop in a cardboard box, and probably wouldn’t willingly hire a salesperson who would misrepresent, or poorly represent, the business.

The same rule applies to an organization’s internet presence. A website isn’t just a page or a few, that can impress visitors (customers) with shoddiness or a lack of expected features. A website should bring in customers or supporters, and it should, in some way, facilitate interaction between them and the business. Therefore, a website = customers or supporters, not just a page. And visitors should be drawn to a website, through things like content optimization.

This has been one of those days that especially makes me wish for the rest of the dominoes to fall.

Scam Alert!

I can normally spot an e-mail scam a mile away, but here’s one that isn’t as obvious as most others. At least, it’s not as obvious at first. Here is an e-mail I received, at my web development address:

Hello Am [name intentionally omitted], Am making an inquiry to know if you can handle website design for a small scale business?? kindly get back to me ASAP so i can send you the job details.

After I initially responded, I received this message:

I’m so glad you responded so i will be glad if you can create my website for me.

Here is the job details for the site i want created.

the business is a salon and spa but it still a small scale business so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so here is an example site i want you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible [URL intentionally omitted] the site would only be informational, so E-commerce functionality is not needed on this site, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the example site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and also i want the site to be on word-press plus i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, whom has the text content and the logos for the site so there wont be any delays.

Note:
1. My budget is $3000 to $11,000
2.I want the same exact numbers of pages with the example site i gave you to check
3. i want the domain name as [domain intentionally omitted], cos i dont have a domain yet
4. Updating of the site will be by you guys
5. the images, logos and content for the site will be provided by me.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.

Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) your cell phone number
(3) Are you the owner ??

Aside from horrible grammar, and the somewhat buried request for my cell phone number, this doesn’t seem too awful. It did seem odd that they responded very quickly, and couldn’t have put much/any thought into it. Following my next response, in which I did not provide my personal number, there was this:

Kindly get back to me with your direct cellphone number.

At this point, the faint warning bells became full-blown, screaming sirens. I responded, with a one-liner, that this person could contact me through my business number or e-mail address, and they had this to say:

Thanks for taking your time to get me an estimate so grateful.i am ok with your estimate and ready to proceed so i will be depositing $1000 using my credit card so what the merchant service you do make use of to charge credit cards ? also i will be needing a lil favor from you regarding getting the content and logos for my site. the favor i need is i will be giving you my card infos to charge for $3000, you will hold $1000 as deposit for my service and the remaining $2000 you will help me make a cash deposit of it into the account of the project consultant so you can get the content and logos for my site. I need this favor from you cos the consultant does not have the facility to charge credit cards and am presently recuperating from the diagnosis of lung Cancer and am still in the hospital, So i will be grateful if you can handle that for me and not to worry about the charges just bill me for the charges.

And now the type of scam is completely recognizable. Don’t fall for this one. You’ll be out your own cash, and you’ll have a black mark on your financial account before you know it. I can see how a scammer might attempt to direct this one at a number of industries. If you are an independent contractor, definitely get yourself a PO Box and a separate business number.

A shameless sales pitch here. If you legitimately need a web developer, you can check out some of my services at mthompsondev.com. Just don’t ask me to process money for you.

Delete the Selected Items?

Ready for Teardown

The people we sold our old property to are making a lot of progress. All the siding is torn off the house (not that it looked particularly nice before, but, yikes!), the windows have all been removed, and it’s just waiting for the final tear-down. My husband said that the sewer line may even already be filled with cement.

This is supposed to stop the homeowner from having to pay the utility bill, but the powers that be, in that town, like to make things tough. We just now learned that the town’s new sewage treatment plant is going in directly behind our old property.

What’s neat is learning that my roses and lilies are being saved (moved to a new bed), and the extra lot will be put to good use by the owner, rather than the property sitting there, for years and years. Win win, all around.

That reminds me, I should plant some roses here.

As far as our new home, I was commenting today, again, that I love it, as well as our neighborhood. Change is sometimes scary, especially when giving up a perceived safety net. But this change is a blessing.

Change is Good