Back, on a New Server

Better service, less money.

One of the things that has bothered me for some time now is the slow response time of this blog. It just didn’t seem to load as fast as it should.

I knew it wasn’t my connection — I have wicked fast Internet here, as I’ve reported (i.e., bragged about) elsewhere. It was definitely the server.

In the past, every time I’d call to complain or look for a fix, I’d been told it was because I was sharing a server with 20,000, 50,000, or 80,000 — it depended who I spoke to — other websites. That’s because I had a cheap plan. I don’t make money with this blog and I can’t really justify spending a lot of money to maintain it. Recommendations often include using a caching system, but although I’ve tried that several times I haven’t ever seen an improvement. I’ve also turned off a lot of the plugins I used to use, hoping to speed up performance that way. I never see a difference.

I called again yesterday and spoke to someone else. (He was a “sharing with 50,000 websites” guy.) He recommended a different service. When I asked what it was and what it cost, it turned out to be a better shared system — it had the word “cloud” in its name, so it must be better, right? — for less money than I was paying. Switching was a no brainer. He could do it for me with no effort on my part.

I asked how long the site would be down. A few hours, he told me. I asked him to schedule it for the middle of the night. He agreed he would. I thanked him and we hung up.

This morning, when I checked my site at about 7:30 AM, it was down. I was not a happy camper. Another phone call, another person. I was on hold a long time. I’ve learned to keep that time productive by putting my phone in speaker mode and carrying it around in my shirt pocket until the person comes back. I washed some dishes, made a second cup of coffee, and folded laundry. She returned and said that she’d spoken to the migration people and they’d told her that they’d been doing a lot of migrations that weekend — an obvious bullshit line they feed people in my situation. There was no problem with my site. It was just taking longer than expected.

I suspected that it was either queued up improperly or the sheer size of the site was giving the migration software/people grief. This site currently has 2,375 blog posts, well over 8,000 comments, and at least 4,000 images. The database alone occupies nearly 29 MB of server space; the other files that go with it occupy another gigabyte.

I told her I’d call again if it wasn’t back up by noon. Then I thanked her and hung up.

I got to work doing other things. I’m packing for a trip and today’s challenge was getting my kayak on top of my truck camper, the Turtleback. It was actually a lot easier than I expected to get it up there — using my truck as a lifting platform — but it took a while to fasten it down in a way that I wouldn’t have to worry about scratching the camper’s rubber-coated roof. (The last thing I wanted was a leaky roof.) By the time I was finished at 11:30, the only thing I wanted was a snack and a nap. (Seriously: when the days get short, all I want to do is sleep. That’s one reason I head south in the winter.)

So I treated myself to both.

When I got up around 2:30 PM and checked the site, it was back up. And it loaded so quickly that, for a moment, I suspected that it was loading a version cached in my browser. So I loaded a different page. That came right up, too.

Anyway, judging from the stats bar graph, which shows hourly activity for the past 48 hours, it looks as if the site was down from around 6 AM to 11 AM. Not exactly starting at midnight per my request. Whatever.

Curious about my results, I loaded pingdom.com, a service that can check a Website’s speed. Although my speed was noticeably faster, I didn’t get a very good “grade.” I can only imagine what my grade must have been before the change.

Speed Test Results
Okay, so my Home page was graded D, mostly because of under-the-hood issues I could probably fix by making changes to plugins, etc. Again. Looks like a spring cleaning project to me.

Still, I’m not complaining anymore — at least for a while. It’s faster and cheaper.

And I’m happier, despite today’s downtime.

What’s Keeping Me Off My Blog

Someone special.

Well, it’s been nearly a month since my last blog post — the longest gap between blog posts since I started blogging back in 2003. Why the delay? Well, I’ve found something else to take up my time. Or perhaps I should say someone else.

Maria and Kirk
I danced barefoot with my new sweetie at the Ohme Gardens Wine Gala last week. My friend Kriss shot this photo of us.

Yes, it’s true. After three years of being single, with occasional time-wasting dates that really made me happy to be single, I began a serious relationship with someone I’ve known for about a year. His name is Kirk, he’s retired (early), and he lives on a 15-acre orchard/farm in nearby Peshastin. I ran into him at a Meetup event the Thursday before my birthday at the end of June, he invited me on a double date for dinner and dancing in Leavenworth the next evening, and things progressed rather quickly from there. He treated me to the best birthday I’ve had in more years than I like to admit — pardon me if I leave out the details. We now spend quite a bit of time together doing the kinds of things we both like to do: hiking, dancing, eating out, picking blueberries, cooking, flying, exploring swimming holes, you name it.

And yeah, that, too. I’ve done more of that in the past month than I had in the last three years of my marriage.

Kirk is smart, upbeat, and friendly. He’ll start a conversation with anyone and learn interesting things along the way. He’s confident and comfortable in his own skin. He knows how to make me feel good about myself and never belittles me or tries to embarrass me in front of friends. He obviously doesn’t feel threatened by either my intelligence or success. There doesn’t seem to be a mean bone in his body.

He doesn’t have any previous relationship baggage and isn’t a slave to a job or tied to high-maintenance offspring or parents. He says Yes far more often than No. He’s willing to try anything once and then do it again if he likes it. Better yet, he actually suggests fun things to do so I don’t have to.

He makes me happy. Very happy.

And he keeps me busy. So busy that I simply don’t have time to blog.

So if you don’t mind, I’ll need to cut things short here. He’s on his way for dinner tonight. I’ll grill up some chicken tenders and he’ll cook green beans from his garden. I’m hoping he’ll bring some rhubarb, too — I’m thinking of strawberry rhubarb topping on vanilla ice cream for dessert. Wine on the deck for sunset. Later, when it gets dark, we’ll take out the telescope and explore the heavens.

Still later, we’ll likely do some other things that I won’t detail here.

I’ll get back to blogging regularly one of these days. I hope you’ll keep checking in.

Thank You, 2014 Donors!

Donations to support this site are always appreciated.

I’d like to thank the following people who have used the Donate link on this site in 2014 to send me a token of their appreciation and help support this site.

  • John Aabbott
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  • 2 Anonymous Readers

Thank YouThe generous contributions of readers like these help make this site possible. Not only do they help me cover the cost of hosting an ad-free site that gets thousands of hits a day, but they encourage me to keep writing here — to keep sharing my experiences, opinions, and photos with people who apparently find value in them.

It’s not too late to get your name added to this list. Click the Donate link in the navigation bar on any page to access an easy-to-use form for making a donation to my Paypal account.

Or, if you’d like something more concrete than my thanks for your contribution, you can also find links there for accessing my online store of crafts and other items or an Amazon link you can use to shop for yourself (or others) and have a small contribution made by Amazon to me — at no extra cost to you at all!

I sure do appreciate it!