The latest in random activities

Lately I’ve been caught up in Totally Unnecessary Work.

What did I do? I changed the menu bar colors on my website.  Wooo, yay, right?

I had no business tinkering with the website. It looked fine, and I have zero applicable skills. Changing structural elements requires knowing CSS, an aspect of programming I never learned because I taught myself basic website HTML before CSS came into wide use. (Why, yes, I AM old.)

The project  started early in the week. I was doodling around online and discovered internet resources on changing CSS.  Since I have wondered, off and on, if I could change website colors off I went to investigate the possibility. It didn’t take long to find answers other people got from experts, and it looked simple enough.

So I copy-pasted the suggested codes into the CSS editor on my site.  Did it work as written? Of course not.

First, changing CSS gets complicated behind the scenes.  It’s full of what I’ll call dialects and accents and slang.  How a change works on a specific site depends on a ton of structural elements already in place. There are things like “child themes” and cascading consequences to changing a single element (hence the name) plus the order in which commands are entered can differ by site too, and some codes have to be overridden with other commands…

Second, I can’t see  any of the original code because I’m using a training-wheels/bumper-car/TOTALLY UNBREAKABLE website.  Basically I pay people to maintain the big, complicated chunk of programming that runs the site for me. The price is that I’m locked out of all the dangerous parts of the code and can’t see any of it. It’s a fair trade, but it does complicate an already-complicated process.

And third, there’s the ever-present finicky complication common to all computer programming: one wrong space or punctuation mark can mess up everything. True confession: I am Not Good at spotting finicky mistakes when I make them (whereas I am Very Good at making them.)

Once it was clear that changing colors was a complicated issue involving skills in which I had zero expertise,  did I stop fumbling around in the dark like a sensible person?

OF COURSE NOT. I kept tinkering. Partly because I’m stubborn–but mostly because I knew I had that nice, cushy safety net. I can poke and play with code all I wanted without ANY fear of breaking my website. Freedom to play and learn is priceless.

So I played, collecting tools,  finding more code online and comparing the pieces to see how they differed and making minor changes to see how they connected. Then I went all  hyperfocus on it and hammered at things until they WORKED.

fireworks-1953253_1280
Huzzah!

 

Now, instead of a white menu bar with black lettering and blue/white highlighting color scheme, I have a gray menu bar with black letters, with a black & red highlighting scheme.

Was that worth 20+labor hours? Of course not. The defaults were fine. SERIOUSLY. They were fine.  So why did I bother? I have a list of reasons. (Of course I do.)

1) In the future I can change menu colors to anything I want. Black/red/white is a horrible highlighting scheme from a design standpoint. Honestly.  I know that. But I’m leaving it like this for a while.

2) It was a nice lesson in CSS vocabulary, names of elements & operations etc. The knowledge may come in handy again someday. Who knows?

3) I learned a ton about how the CSS codes interact too. Once again, new skills are never worthless.

4) Working out hierarchy, coding grammar, naming quirks & overrides for my site’s theme by brute force experimentation WAS FUN.

I had fun and made a thing and learned things: these are the justifications I throw at my conscience, which is muttering about the wasted time. Not great excuses, perhaps, but they’re what I have. (And I like the colors, too, boring though they be.)

Anyway. That’s a wrap.

Winter Checklist 6

It’s been a few days. I haven’t done many productive things, but I have done GOOD things, and HAPPY-MAKING things. (And a few not-so happy things too, because life.)

1.  Decorated the house. Holiday stuff takes up a lot of space in boxes, but it doesn’t fill up a lot of actual home. Hanging garland took the most time. Spouseman helped, and fun was had. We have room for more lots more lights on the walls, but the stores are already out of stock on the brands of LEDs with white cords I prefer. Noted on the October calendar for next year.

2. Ordered a new Christmas tree. We’ve been nursing along an old artificial tree for a couple of years, (I think it’s like 7 or 8 years old all told) and it’s time to accept that it’s long past the end of its life span. So to speak. (Dustier every year. Branches without needles. Broken branches. A Pisa-like list to one side…)

I’d love to have a “real” tree, but I’m a snot who only wants an actual fresh-cut one, not one that was harvested months ago then shipped dead and dry. We went with a company my Dad highly recommends. New toy tree will come pre-lit with MOAR LED LIGHTS IN MANY COLORS. That alone will be exciting.  I’ll report further once it’s delivered.

3. Had myself a downtown travel adventure day. Discovered a new pie place. This is excitement in my life. I also got fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and holiday gifts. Visited with a good friend, and met some neat new people.

4. I made a doctor appt for tomorrow morning. Go me, using the phone & everything. Why doctor? Because ugh, I’ve been doing the “watchful waiting” gig on a sinus infection for weeks, hoping it would clear on its own. But no. It gets a little better, then comes back worse. Headache, facial pain, sense of smell affected, and now I have pressure in my ears too.  Decongestants & antihistamines don’t touch it. I can’t fool myself any longer.

Bracing to be to told the usual bullshit about antibiotics being over-prescribed, probably viral, come back in 2-6 more weeks blah blah blah JUST GIVE ME SOME FERSHLUGGINER AMOXYCILLIN DAMMIT. Or Augmentin. Or even a Z-pack. *SIGH*

5. Got the last rejection for promotional ads I’d put in for Rough Passages. (Not shocked, the slots fill fast this time of year, and I was slow off the mark.) My dilemma now is, go still run a sale or not? It costs nothing to set up, but why bother when marketing is what gets me readers, not low prices?

That isn’t self-rejection. My personal reach is saturated. Reaching 30 pre-orders for Rough Passages took weeks of relentless, creative, well-shared social media work.  I have neither time nor spoons for that right now. I’d rather be writing.

6. So, because things #4 & #5 were not happy things, I am making comfort foods like crazy.  Today I have committed garlic bread & slow-cooked pepper chicken, plus more cherry cheater-cobbler. Yesterday there was bacon for breakfast. Bread is planned.

7. And part of the holiday prep involved going through the sticker/pin/lanyard collection I’ve been accumulating for a few years now. They’re sorted and the pins are on display. So shiny.  That’s another happy.

8. Also I have sorted loads of DVDs into binders. It’s my contribution to the Clear Out The Basement project. Tonight I start the last genre to be sorted: action/scifi-fantasy-horror/thrillers. Left that one for last because it’s the one most likely to result in distraction and viewing.

That’s it. This one turned into a bit of a rant-vent fest, but hey, that’s a thing I do sometimes too. So it’s valid.

Onward to tomorrow.

Winter Checklist Five

1. Haircut!  I did the usual “walk-over-to-the-nearby-salon-on-impulse” thing I do when I can’t deal with the stress of using the phone but also can’t stand my hair for one more moment. I go in expecting to make an appointment for the next day.

But lo, luck was with me! The wonderful stylist who used to cut my hair a zillion years ago is BACK. So my gray and mousy hair is buzzed short with perfect cowlicks, and I have a sample size of mauve temp color to play with. I will apply that in a week or two. There will be pics.

2. Researched & ordered accessories for my laptop, whose HDMI display connector gave up the ghost today. It’s over 5 years old, so not a shocker. Good thing I have other ports available. They aren’t HDMI ones, but hey, any port in a pinch, so to speak. I had to determine which adapters would be best and locate a source. And that’s DONE.

3. Laundry. ALL THE DIRTY CLOTHES OMG. Swear to gobs, it’s never-ending.

4. Paid bills. Yay, adulting win. So exciting.

5. Procrastinated the grocery shopping. I can live without yogurt until Saturday when I have to go out. But I made a list. Okay, sort of a list. I took pictures of the fridge & pantry shelves so I don’t buy what I already have. That counts, right?

6. Posted a picture of my festive holiday socks online. It will not be the last sockpost.

7. Did my strength & stretch exercises for hips and elbows even though OW DO NOT LIKE.

8. Read about historic architecture and modern off-grid living and the science of super-storms, because internet.

9. Gave the cat lots of attention and took his picture.

10. And yes, I wrote a little.  I would have written more, but for my screen going terrifyingly blank mid-sentence and then losing Too Much Time verifying that the fault lay in the computer port, not the cable or the monitor.

I’m taking the evening off from productivity anyway. Ghost Town and Sharp Edge will just have to be patient until tomorrow.

That’s two days in a row the list has had ten items. Coincidence? Well…yes, actually.