Decision Time

Well, I put on jeans today to work on the garage for the first time this season. I guess winter really is coming and summer is over. Bummer.

installed back door to garage
stripped hall doors
removed window and installed wall HVAC unit
painted laundry room

I’m trying to make a decision about the future of this website. My hosting is up for renewal and if I don’t renew things will go dark on November 13th. For the first time in a lot of years, I’m considering letting that happen. I haven’t posted since my birthday in August (and that wasn’t much of a post), prior to that it was just images on Saturdays until that queue went dry. I’ve made a conscious decision to step away over the last few months, just to see what it felt like to not post–to not have a website. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It was just something I didn’t do for a bit.

painted living room

I guess what I’m asking is, does it matter to anyone but me? I pretty-much already know the answer to this question. But I’m still struggling with the idea of letting it go.

anniversary picnic

There are other hosting options, both paid and free, but that’s not thinking right now. What I’m thinking about is, do I want to have a website or not? Is it worth the time, money, and effort? Are there other things that I could dedicate those three things too that I would get more reward from? I have a few weeks left, but I just thought I would share my dilemma with you.

guitar practice

Should I stay or should I go?

more guitar practice

What's the Plan?

I did not make any resolutions this year. But the usual things are still the things that I need to change in the new year. Really, what is needed is a lifestyle change. Fortunately, I both recognize that need and want to make some changes. I’ve been in a funk since the end of June and I need to shake it off and put things back on track, life-wise. It can be overwhelming to make a handful or more of resolutions and then try and turn all your habits upside down because the last two digits in the year have advanced. It’s a recipe for failure that we all experience. We do it anyway. It just rarely works out. My big change last year was giving up soda. I’ve had some set-backs and I need to cut out the sweet tea, but mostly it’s been a grand success. That is the direction I need to move in; the direction of success.

arohen

So what’s the plan for the website in 2020? More of the same. I’m not making any promises or grand schemes. I recognize that the website is what it is. I don’t think I’m going to steer it into sudden success and internet notoriety. But I still enjoy it. Still enjoy making posts and working on ideas. I still feel more-than-a-little self-generated pressure to have regular content. I’d like to do more video and more audio, but both of those things take a greater degree of planning than I usually give to the posts. I’m not saying I won’t do them, just that I’m tired of saying that I will and then not. I don’t have much of an audience and I’m not sure what that audience really wants, but I think they’ve come up with expectations and I don’t think the future will change those much.

I’m considering changing the look of the whole site, change up the theme for the new decade, but that could be a bit of a project and I don’t know how soon it’ll happen or how much of a mess the site will be during the changes. I took down the post email notification box, because I don’t think it ever worked. I’ve gotten reports that it didn’t anyway. I’ll look into it.

I’m looking at this whole endeavor less as a brand and more as a hobby these days. There for a while I was trying to figure out how to push arohen out into the world. I care less about that now. I still like the idea of the arohen brand as a catch-all for all these ideas, but I feel the same way about Rampant Lion, 274, and Creative Investigator. I’ve got too many unfocused ideas. At this point I’m just going to keep doing what I do and if the world stumbles across any of it, so be it. Mostly I do this just to give Denis something to laugh at.

I’ve got some ideas. There are things I want to try. We’ll see what actually makes it to the web and what doesn’t. I’m not done with this whole business of self-flagellation, yet.

Ronn

Weight loss, flexibility, general fitness. This is not some pledge to lose 50-pounds in 2020. I don’t have luck with those. But as part of the whole getting out of my funk, staying away from mindless hours on the computer, and doing more, I’m pretty confident that there will be some weight loss. Mostly, this is about flexibility. Dear lord, have I gotten rigid and unbending lately. I’m sure the weight doesn’t help, but I’ve been heavy a long time. This can’t bend, can’t twist, can’t flex stuff is new and I HATE it. Once I get going it gets better, but first thing in the morning… I’m like the Tin woodsman in the forest before Dorothy comes along. So that’s the big goal for exercise and weight; do more. Healthwise, my plan to stop eating fast food is pretty simple; I’m going to leave my debit card at home when I go to work. No money. No fast food. Should also cut down on those impulse purchases at Home Depot.

I’m going to cover this one more thoroughly in tomorrow’s post, but I’m going to learn to play guitar this year. I’ve bought the guitar and paid for the lessons. It all starts on Tuesday.

This year I’m going to actually learn to use the Adobe CC. I’ve been paying for it, and Lady Ronn uses it for her photography, but I keep finding myself defaulting back to Corel. Because that’s what I know and that’s what I’m comfortable with. I’m going to delete it from my computer and force myself to figure this thing out. It’s better. It’s more powerful. There’s a ton of possibilities. I’ve just got to do it. Throw away the safety net and dance on the edge… you may not get any new images for awhile 😉

Writing. Always with the writing. You make time for things, you don’t find time. One of the things that I liked about being back in school was that I always had something I HAD to do. It really cut down on the amount of luxuriating time I had available to me. Which was a good thing. Staying busy is the theme for the coming, well, forever. Part of that is slotting in a bit of time for writing everyday. Not 1,667 words. Not 1,000 words. Just a conscious effort to do some everyday. That’s more than I’ve given it in a long time. I’m curious as to how much writing this adds up to. I don’t have a target in mind, just some stories I’d like to write and some skills I’d like to improve.

Say it with me, “No New Projects!” I’m talking about Home Projects, DIY Stuff, not repairs. You can never predict those. Right now I’ve still got things going on in the guest room, the office, the bathroom, the backyard, and let’s not forget the basement. This year is about finishing not starting. Hell, I have much of the materials I need to finish these things. There is no excuse to not get them done. I mean, other than the fact that new projects are so much sexier than existing projects. Enough. I’m going to even go so far as to extend this to my art/craft projects. I need to make a list and start checking things off. 2020 is the year of project completion.

One of the biggest issues for someone like me is complacency. I’ve done pretty well this time around. My life has been a bit of a rollercoaster of successes and failures, highs and lows. I’m at a high/successful place right now. And I have not been nearly vigilant enough about that. With the good times comes a luxuriating complacency that leads to laziness, gluttony, and a lack of focus. I need to make active, purposeful changes to retard that and reduce the likelihood of swinging back into those less prosperous times. That’s really what school was about. But school is over now. I did it. I got my degree. That makes me more secure in the workplace, but right now the workplace is not my main area of concern. It’s the life outside of work that seems to be out of focus and drifting with the tide. That’s why very little of this is work related. (Well, the fitness stuff may be an exception. After all, I’ll be carrying a 28-foot fiberglass ladder around until I’m 70 at this rate.)

I’ve pretty much thrown out any chance of success here. What with the scientific evidence saying that revealing your plan makes it less likely that you’ll succeed. But that’s just how I roll. My wife will probably read this and wonder when I’m going to have time to watch TV, but sacrifices have to be made. Perhaps we could get matching treadmills in front of the screen. Twenty-twenty, the next decade, and the foreseeable future are all about keeping busy, being better, and staying focused.

Looking Back at the Year Gone By

I would like to say that this site is one of the hidden gems of the internet, but that would be inaccurate. This site is more of a dusty, forgotten corner in the attic of the internet. Not true. It’s not forgotten. It was never a thing that was looked for. It is just what it is, my website. A rambling mess of a thing that, mostly, just collects samplings of my thoughts and interests and distributes them to the giant plane of nonexistence that is the world wide web outside of the domains of the major and minor players.

But, even with that being the case, let’s take a look at the numbers behind arohen.com in 2019. Just to put things in perspective.

2019 site stats

184 posts
63,307 total words (a 127% increase over 2018)
4 likes

The Wonderdraft post was the big draw this year, with 233 views

62 Tumblr Followers
25 Facebook Followers

June was the busiest month around here and this is how the year looked in visits month-by-month:
200 June
169 April
158 August
152 September
145 July
114 December
106 November
102 October
98 May
76 March
48 February
43 January

I did a single episode of arohenRADIO
Two episodes of The Truckcast w/ Ronn McCarrick (#125 was twice as popular as #126)
One arohenTV video
And I wrote just 11,539 words of fiction (which has very little to do with the website)

I paid for 3-years of domain names and hosting in 2018 and this year I used my Bluehost credit to pick-up heidimccarrick.com, so there was no outlay of funds in 2019.

There were ancillary costs, I bought a new microphone, I consider the Adobe CC to be partially for the website, I bought a new chair and new monitors (both critical for optimal functioning of the website), and we have a new camera, that if I asked nice, I would probably be allowed to use for capturing video. None of which would I consider website specific costs, but things that do have the potential to make the site better in the future.

So there you have it 2019 in a nutshell, or at least from the perspective of the arohen family of websites. Here’s hoping your 2020 is fantastic. Later.

Google Alarm – Hack Attack

Somedays I hate having a website. More precisely, I hate having to worry about hacking attacks on my website. This one seems pretty straight forward, but I hate that it’s even a thing. I recognize that they’re just attacking any and every WordPress site, because, really, there is nothing at arohen.com that is worth hacking. But they done did it anyway.

I found an email in my inbox Thursday afternoon from the good folks over at the Google Search Console Team letting me know that they had detected hacked content on my site.

To: Webmaster of http://arohen.com/,


Google has detected that your site has been hacked by a third party who created malicious content on some of your pages. This critical issue utilizes your site’s reputation to show potential visitors unexpected or harmful content on your site or in search results. It also lowers the quality of results for Google Search users. Therefore, we have applied a manual action to your site that will warn users of hacked content when your site appears in search results. To remove this warning, clean up the hacked content, and file a reconsideration request. After we determine that your site no longer has hacked content, we will remove this manual action.

Following are one or more example URLs where we found pages that have been compromised. Review them to gain a better sense of where this hacked content appears. The list is not exhaustive.


http://arohen.com/wp-content/wp-mbrxsmrs.php?blNeyThS=churchills-biscuits
http://arohen.com/wp-content/wp-mbrxsmrs.php?blNeyThS=siamp-optima-50
http://arohen.com/wp-content/wp-mbrxsmrs.php?woixwnmuc=hyaenodon-gigas-size

-Google SearchConsole Team

For starters, don’t go looking up any of those link addresses. Secondly, everything is back rightside up. I took care of it. It’s all good here now, thank you. How are you?

So first I scrubbed my WordPress files with the Bluehost file integrity check. That came back clean. Then I checked things out with Wordfence. That came back with a short list of things that I removed. Then I used Sucuri Security on my site. That came back with a long list of things to look at, but it doesn’t do any fixes and says that if there’s a problem these are places to look. Which I spent too much time looking over. And lastly, I ran Anti-Malware on my site.

Everything comes back copacetic at this point, but still. What a pain in the ass. I mean, I’m glad that somebody is alerting me to this stuff. That’s great. But I don’t have the webmaster chops to be dealing with this stuff effectively and I certainly don’t have the budget to hire anyone to do it for me. This is the kind of nonsense that led me to leave LunarPages and end up on Blogger. I hope that’s not where this is headed. Anyway…

Now that I’ve done all of the above off I go to check the Google SearchConsole site. Fortunately, that site now says that no issues are detected for arohen.com. I must have done something right. The malicious content now removed, it’s time to submit a reconsideration request to Google so that they’ll take the flag off my site.

Such is the joy that is running a website. Later.

RonnMcCarrick.com is Here Now

And by here now I don’t mean that it’s a thing that you’ve been waiting for and has finally arrived, rather, I mean that I’ve put a redirect in place and that going to RonnMcCarrick.com will now deposit you here at arohen.com. Why? Because running one website is enough for me right now and I frankly don’t have enough content to fill two websites. Not that there was much over there anyway.

I’ve deleted the link at the top of the page and moved the enormous amount of content from the page here. No, not to arohen.com, but to here, this post. Yeah. This is all that was there. It was a thing at one time, then it wasn’t, then I wanted it to be a thing, then I didn’t know what it would be, and now it’s been downsized to a single post and a redirected domain. That’s the short of it, minus the long. This is just part of the website refresh/overhaul that’s going on here behind the scenes. Later.

This is supposed to be a page about my writing, the writing process, agents, editors, publishers, and all that sort of stuff. Instead, it’s a page about what it’s supposed to be about, but not actually about anything. Maybe someday soon it’ll be something. Right now is not that day. Today, it’s about nothing.

-Ronn

Being A Bit Anti-Social

Enough is enough. I’m getting off the social media sites I don’t use. I don’t need these accounts. I’m not socializing with anyone on these sites. It’s time to pull the plug.

So what am I getting rid of? Google+ is going away anyway (was it ever really here?), so deleting that account was just housecleaning. I’ve deleted my Twitter account, a platform that I never had much use for. And as I write this, I’m on the fence about Facebook. Really, since I can no longer share posts from my website automatically, all I use Facebook for is birthday reminders and posting Audible books as I finish them. After debating about it, I’m going to keep it, but I don’t have any good reasons why.

I still like browsing images, so I’ll be keeping my Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest accounts. I just recently created a Reddit account, so that’ll be around until I realize I don’t use it. LinkedIn seems like a thing I should keep, you know, for the profession and all. And my YouTube account is still a thing. Hopefully, I can get back to making some video and it’ll be more of a thing. No promises.

how i feel about facebook

So… I guess what I’m really saying is that I deleted my Twitter and Google+ accounts. Which is really a pretty “meh” announcement. Later

Stickler for a Deal

One of the items that showed up in ads above my email on Black Friday was an offer for 50 custom cut stickers for $20 from StickerMule. I’m willing to waste a twenty on an experiment. I mean, hell, I did buy a half-dozen baseball caps, and that was way more than 20-bucks. Besides, I wanted to put that rampant lion shield on some stickers. So I did. Here are the results.

fifty rampant lion shield stickers

I think they look pretty good. They’re about 3″ tall, slightly narrower, and the the printing is sharp, clear, and good quality. I like the way the inner border is faint but visible. I’m curious to see how the hold up to the wear and tear of everyday life, the sun, and whatnot. I received a bit of promotional stuff from them along with my order, a few stickers and weirdly, a coaster.

stickers and promotional extras

Anybody wants a sticker, drop me a note and I’ll hook you up. Next time I might change up the design to actually include the URL, but the first time around I just wanted the plain shield. Also, I’ll let you know how they hold up. Later.

Disconnected: A Facebook Story

If you’re not seeing this, it’s because you only look at my stuff on Facebook. Which is a place most of my posts will no longer be seen. Facebook recently changed their rules on who/what can post to personal pages and as a result my website has been disconnected.

Facebook no longer supports Publicize connections to Facebook Profiles, but you can still connect Facebook Pages. Please select a Facebook Page to publish updates to.

Basically, the posts here will no longer be picked up and posted to my Facebook profile page automatically. Which is a bummer, because I’m pretty certain that’s how most of my audience finds my posts. My site is still reposting to Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr, but not the big one that we’re all using, Facebook.

I do have the option of creating a Facebook Page. What we all have isn’t a Page, it’s a Profile… it’s a Facebook thing. But don’t think I’ll do that. I don’t really want more Facebook stuff to deal with, besides would arohen be a Business/Brand or would it be a Community/Public Figure? I think it would be a brand, but that implies I’ve got something to sell. There isn’t an arohen community and I am not any sort of public figure. You see the dilemma I’m facing. There was that time I made the cover of GrandRapids magazine.

the flower whisperer

So, while I don’t want you to miss out on anything, I’m afraid that Facebook doesn’t feel the same way. So if you want to be up on the latest and greatest goings on around these parts you’ll have to use one of the services that are still allowing me to share: Google+, Twitter, or Tumblr.

The other options are to add my RSS feed to your aggregator or subscribe to the blog via email to get my content.

And thank you for your patronage. 

Scrubbed Everything Down

I’ve given everything a thorough cleaning. Through a combination of several plugins (Anti-Malware, Sucuri, Wordfence, and Bluehost) I think I’ve cleaned the bug from my site. And that is not an invitation to test my security. I shut off the comments, changed the passwords, removed a couple ‘users’,  and tightened things up. As an added bonus, I seem to have deleted the entire baenrahl site–accidentally. That last bit makes me less than happy, given the current back-up situation around these parts.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about baenrahl.com, if anything. It’s been a while since I did anything with that stuff and the RPG aspect sorta didn’t go anwhere. So, what to do? Whatever it is, it’ll be starting from scratch.
I still need to get on the phone with Bluehost and get what I’ve got coming to me, ensure we’re on the same page, and generally read them the riot act. But for now, I think I’ve got everything cleaned up and locked down.
 

Extinction Level Event

A few things to share.
1.) Still having issues keeping the site malware free. I was  going to take it apart and restore from a back-up, but I made the mistake of thinking that the Pro Backup service that comes with my Pro package at Bluehost was actually a thing… it’s not. So I need to call them and get a few things straightened out. Mainly, I’d like to get the services that I’m paying for. I’ll probably have a full tear down on the site this weekend to find and destroy whatever malware is hiding in my files.
2.) Final grades were posted for the winter semester and I pulled off an A in each of my classes–HVA 221 Ductwork Construction and Design was the one I just finished and HVA 230 HVACR Elec Controls was earlier in the Winter Semester. Both were three credit classes, so I added another 24 grade points to my total and my GPA is sitting at 3.839, according to my Unofficial GRCC Transcript.
3.) I came home to find this on the office floor.

extinction level event?

So my fancy Tyrannosaurus statue is now in 4 pieces. It can certainly be glued back together. But how evident will the cracks be? I’m not sure. I’ve resisted the urge to immediately grab the superglue and start putting it back together… going to give it some thought and determine if it’s going to need any other work and/or improvements.
How could this happen? One theory presented was that the wind blew it over. This is unlikely given the depth of the pegs on the feet and the weight of the base. Perhaps the blinds hit it? No. The blinds are secured with brackets. What could have happened? There is some evidence that points to a solution to the mystery.
claw marks! NEW claw marks!

There are some claw marks in the paint that were not there when I left for work. Probably too small to be the dog, but just about right for a smallish cat. My working theory is that the cat was on the shelf and killed the dinosaur. Possibly with the aid of the dog or a startling wind gust. Either way and whatever the circumstances, I have one very broken dinosaur.