It’s Alive!

That’s right. The new website I have been working on for months has launched. It was slightly rushed at the end, but it was as ready to go as it was ever likely to be.

What happened?

Well, here’s my usual, long-winded way of explaining that.

Canada has a weird thing about elections. (Weird from an American perspective, anyway.) The government in charge can call a “snap election” if they want to. Don’t ask me if they can call it three minutes after the previous election. I have no idea, but I suspect there are some rules that restrict such lunacy.

Anyway, up here the present government is a “minority government” because no single party won a majority of seats in parliament in the last election (in 2019). The Liberal party — which won the most seats — created a government at that point, but has had to function differently than they would have if they’d won an outright majority (as happened in 2015).

At some point those in charge of the Liberal party started looking at the polls, how things were going with Covid, and probably viewed the entrails of a moose. It seems they decided they could win an election and get a real majority again, making it possible to push their agenda more aggresively than they can now, when they have to work with other parties to pass legislation. So they called a snap election on August 15th, which will happen on September 20th. As you can see, election season is short here. In America you’re already worrying about the 2024 election. Up here they have five weeks for the whole thing.

Oh, and if no one calls a snap election one is scheduled every five years.

(Yes, this background matters to the story. Hang on.)

So, snap elections are a thing, and while there were hints one might be called, nothing could be done about it one way or another until that actually happened. At that point things shift into high gear.

This all matters to the Blueridge Community Association — for whom I have been building the new website — in two ways:

  1. They are one of the groups that sponsors All Candidate Meetings for each election, so voters can get to know the candidates and their positions on various issues.
  2. They publish a newsletter that is supposed to contain notices of community events like those All Candidate Meetings.

Before the snap election was called, the next newsletter was scheduled for October, and the plan was for the new website to go live in September. As a result, the October newsletter was going to tell people the new site was live and point them to it.

But with the election everything changed. An article was written about the new website and it was published two days ago, before the site was launched. And while the author tried to indicate the site was coming “sometime in September” much of the text was written in the past tense and invited people to visit the site right away. The possibility of confusion was large, so I launched the new site on Thursday afternoon, to get it into place for those who read the newsletter.

Is it done? No. But no website of value is ever really done. They are always being edited, improved, added to, and so on. As long as I am working on it, that will be the case here as well. In addition, though, there is still content to be developed and images to be added. But it’s a start, and it’s a big improvement over what was there before.

Curious? Yes, you can take a look if you want:

In my own defence:

  • There is a long way to go, and I am living within a number of constraints that were present when I took up the job. The site is hosted in WordPress, and that isn’t changing. I didn’t change the theme or colours, and there are numerous other issues imposed by the theme and other choices made before I came on scene. I hope to polish the rough edges over time, but if your complaints/concerns are graphical, know that I am working with a lot of limitations.
  • I mostly reorganized the information present and added a lot more. The site is definitely light on images and needs help with wording / content in many places. It’s better than it was, but it’s not nearly done yet.
  • Only this morning I discovered there are some navigation issues that need work. That’s a direct result of my inability to make the site work with the proposed new menu before launching it. (The reasons for that are too complicated for this post. Sorry.) Suffice it to say that I know it can be hard to get from someplace deep in the website to some other place deep in the website. I need to resolve that. The search function is one way to do it, but I want a better fix and it’s not simple.

What changed (quite a bit) from the old website was the content. There’s a lot more of it now, and it’s reorganized to make it more easily found — navigation issues aside. I hope things make sense out there, but who knows.

This does not reduce the work ahead of me, but it doesn’t heap more work on me either. Things just keep going as they have.

This is lifetime employment, really. By way of example, over the past couple of days I’ve reported a bug in a plugin we use, scrubbed a lot of junk out of the database, and helped identify 750 MB of files (all images) on the server that cannot be served by anything that is installed on the server anymore. My career in software archaeology continues unabated, only now I am unpaid.

Launching the new website was big, but it wasn’t the only thing I did last week. I also worked more on the public art frame project. When you last saw it, it looked like this:

And it mostly looks the same, but with the addition of two locks that fit into the tops of the vertical pieces of the base. They lock the frame into the vertical position to keep it safe. One looks like this:

And the other looks like this:

The first has a latch that flips up on one side to let the frame pivot down when you want to do that. The second has no latch, and must be removed from the base to let the frame pivot. That’s why it has a handle on the top. Both of these look like props from a bad 1950’s science fiction movie. It was amusing to put them together.

The project is still not done, though. I need to install the winch and cable that will raise and lower the frame slowly and carefully, and the legs that will support the frame when it is lowered into the flat, working position.

The plan is to let classes run for a couple of weeks and then go back in and work on the winch and other items. Everyone needs to find a rhythm in the new situation, and the break lets me stay home and work on the website.

The only other thing this week is another photo of the hydrangea:

I like the contrast between the fully open bloom and the buds on the left. There’s not a lot of sun in this spot in the back yard, so it doesn’t bloom all that much, but what does appear is beautiful.

Thus endeth this week’s post. Cheers!



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Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.