A New Era Begins

It may not have been 108 years, but in a number of ways…for me, the change over to the new site look was just as needed as a Cubs win in game 7 of the World Series. In a way, there was just as much excitement and bewilderment in the two for me. Just like it took me a while to get my head around the idea that the Cubs had finally ended the drought, it has taken me a while to get use to the new look and layout. What makes this even more unique is that Friday was not the first look at the site for me. I first saw the general layout around 3-4 weeks ago and in the past 2 weeks, have been working with it more than the old site!
In any case, it was a long time in coming and I hope you all find the new look/layout agreeable and more friendly. For those of you that visit the site via smartphone, you probably see the biggest changes, as the site automatically recognizes what platform you are viewing the site with and provides the best layout for that.
So the reveal is done, but not all the work. You will find some links that still do not work and some things from the previous site missing that will be added. Most notably are the archived journals and the links page. There are a number of other things that still need to be “dialed-in”, but all in do time.
Needless to say, it has been a pretty stressful past couple of weeks for me, with the stress level heightened this week, knowing that there was only a week left before the reveal and there was still a ton of work to be done before I felt it would be right to change things over. Then around the middle of this week, discussions went from the details of the site, to how and when the new look would be implemented. There were many things to consider, such as all the persons involved being available at the same time, the traffic to the site being low and a time where if there were major problems, we would not be trying to fix them late at night after a long day.
All things considered, things went pretty good. No perfect by any means, but the major issue we encountered was really out of our control. That being the new web address for the site to be picked up by all the different webservers everyone uses to browse the web. Not only did we change the look of the site, but we also changed the server it physically sat on. Sometimes these change of addresses go quickly, and sometimes it takes time. This one seemed to take just a few minutes for some and around 4-6 hours for others. Ironically, I was one of the ones in the 4-6 hour time frame! I could get into the site via back channels, but to go in through the front door to all areas of the site, it took me until late on Friday.
I want to thank Scott Niska at Smart Creative for being the point man for the entire change. He came up with the new design and together we worked out dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. He has a programmer that he uses for the most challenging things and I only know him as “Josh” from MN. So a big thanks to him for his work. Then there was my main man when it comes to the Discussion Board- Paul. He has come to my rescue with that board more times than I can count and still keeps offering his services pro-bono. Lastly, the folks at Pasty.net played an important role in helping to get things switched over to the new server. Pasty.net was also the faithful host server for this site for the past 16 years.
I guess that covers the remodel. Keep in mind that there are still some links to be fixed. If you are an advertiser in the Northwoods Directory and do not see your description pop up when your business is clicked on, that will be fixed this week. Not all of that info got carried over and I will be in-putting them in by hand this week. There are a couple of other tricks up my sleeve that will roll out in the coming days/weeks, but I am not going to spoil the surprises!
The entire week was not spend glued to my computer working on the new look. Monday was Halloween and I could not pass up heading out with Grace and Nora for trick-or-treating. I did forget my camera, so there are no pictures….just kidding. I did forget my phone, but Nora got some good ones and I can share them with you.
Gracie’s costume this year was the “Crazy Cat Lady”. She paired up with her friend Jacob and together they hit the neighborhoods to gather as much candy as they could. The first stop was at “Uncle Jim’s”. He was all set up for all of the trick-or-treaters with his comfy chair, iPad, thermos of hot apple cider and some treats of his own. The next stop was just across the street at Gracies past care giver, Susan. A few more homes were hit in that neighborhood and then we dropped southwest into Laurium and spent the rest of the evening there.
I have not lived in the Keweenaw for the 50 Halloweens I have experienced to date, but I do have 17 of them under my belt and this years was by far the best weather have ever had. There have been some pretty nasty ones and some that were just ok, but we had temps in the 60’s and sunshine when we started out and then some clouds, but still a very pleasant day to be out gallivanting around. Just about the whole week has been incredible for the first week of November. We could easily be seeing snow fly, or perhaps a cold rain, but we have been in the 50’s and 60’s for highs all week.
The nice weather has allowed Nora and I to get up to speed with the outside chores. I was able to clear all the leaves off the lawns and then cut them one last time. Nora and Gracie were able to get the garden squared away for winter as well. So now other than firewood to cut and a snowblower to attach to Big Red, all of the outdoor chores are done that need to be done before winter sets in. Actually, as long as the snowfall does not get out of hand, cutting wood in the snow is kinda fun.
The pleasant weather has also allowed us to get out into the woods. The pups and I have pretty much abandoned walking on the roads for now and are having a great time walking the trails that my brother Jim and Gracie made this summer in our woods. They are able to fun off leash and I can go at a pace that is good for me! So all three of us are very happy. We will go back to the roads during firearm deer season from Nov 15-20, but I could see getting back into the woods after that, only on snowshoes!!!
Yesterday, Nora and Gracie joined the pups and I on our morning walk and it was beautiful weather for it. The cold air inversion was just being dissolved by the rising sun, so you would be walking along in 30 degree temps and all of the sudden hit a spot where the temps were in the upper 50’s or even low 60’s. By the time we finished the walk, the temps were warm enough and our physical activity made it warm enough to get around without a jacket on. Not too many times in November you can get around without a jacket at 9 am in the morning!
This morning, the pups and I went it alone as the girls were involved with activities. The trail that Jim and Grace put in does not go by “Old Grandad”, but it does go by close enough that the pups and I have created a little side path over to him. I do not know why, but there is just something about that tree that mystifies me. I guess one things is that it has to be very old for a birch. With a trunk diameter of around 3 feet, it has to be more than 100 years old, but many birches do not make it past 10-12 years. I think another things is that it just sits humbly amongst the other trees. While it is old and very robust at its base, it is not exceptionally tall. In fact, many of the younger trees around it are taller. But yet stands there in the woods and seems to speak to me. Weird, I know, but I cannot lie.
So all this talk of warm weather probably has some of you down in the dumps. I know, I have been there. Over time, I have come to just make the most of what we are given with the weather. I do have my days when that ideology is strongly challenged and even defeated, but this warm autumn has been very easy to enjoy…especially the current spell we are in.
For those of you anxious about the snow to come, I have some good news to share with you. First, I was going through some historical data the other day and happened to see that the record high for November 3rd was set back in 1978. The winter of 78-79 was the record setter for the Keweenaw and a handful of other locations in the Midwest and was a doozy for all of the region. Please do not take this to mean that I think we are going to have a winter like 78-79. I would love it! But I only bring it up to show that even in a year where the record for snowfall was set, we had very warm temps in early Nov.
The second is more like “potentially” good news for you. There are some pretty strong ideas of a change in the pattern that will send temps to below average and allow snows to fall in much of the northern Midwest as we head through the first half of next week. It is still a long way out to have 100% confidence in, but this is something that has been advertised by the models for some time now and with each passing model run indicating it, confidence grows.
This change in the pattern would raise my hopes for this winter quite a bit, as around 4 years ago, it was brought to my attention by a colleague at the TV station in Marquette that Novembers with above average temps do not bode well for the rest of the season. So, to get the change in time to produce an average or even below average November in temps would be a good thing in more ways than one!
So I guess that covers it for this one. Perhaps next week’s entry will include some talks of amounts of snow to come next week!
Good night from the Keweenaw..