Monday, April 7, 2014

Dear Google - Am I Such a Horrible Person?

Dear Google - It has been about two years since you banned my AdSense account, me, my website, my blog, anything ever associated with me in past, present or future, from using you to monetize my blogs. With 55,673 page views, those tedious little ads could have helped us cover some costs around here - classes for the kids, animal feed, groceries, gas. But, no. Any attempt to use AdSense is impossible.

I'd sure like you to reconsider. I've stopped blogging quite so much. Instead, I'm writing for newspapers and others who pay me for my service, but I do miss writing in my own style on subjects that interest me most. I miss sharing the information in which I'm gained some expertise, but I also have to balance my time between sharing information freely in this time of free information with covering costs here at home. Free information sharing doesn't pay the bills, or even buy a tutu.

I'll never know what caused this ban. You won't tell people. You won't even give us hints, per your website: "Because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection system, we're unable to provide our publishers with any information about their account activity, including any web pages, users, or third-party services that might have been involved." Was it the offensive nature of this blog, which typically features posts about family travel (where we go, how we get there and how other families can hit the road), tips for getting out and about locally (I have a bit of expertise on the Central Coast), pointers for homeschoolers, and the occasional rant about parenting or politics? Funny...When I was banned, I turned off my safe search mode when the kids were sleeping, entered some R-rated terminology and came up with some pretty messed up sites on which AdWords were floating.

At the time, one of the potential reasons I found was "placing ads in iFrames." So I went to my blogger page to read the HTML. And you know what I found? iFrames! Were my ads placed in iFrames? Probably. Because that was what Blogger used at the time, it seems. (I still don't even know what the heck an iFrame is.) So, perhaps we had a coding glitch. But who codes Blogger? Ummm...isn't this a Google property?

I've delayed posting this public letter because I fear repercussion. You do, after all, own the service which has provided me a channel for sharing my voice. Perhaps you'll take the blog down altogether. That would be a shame.

Instead, I hope someday you'll forgive me for whatever my foible was; perhaps even SHARE with me so I don't make the same mistake again.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lessons in Light

It all started out with a simple lesson in light, variable shutter speeds, painting with light, and camera movement. With their 4-H friends, they started with a lesson in panning - moving the camera to catch the action with just the right shutter speed, but with a blurred background. Then they moved on to painting with light - illuminating a car, then a tree, with the only flashlights we could find that evening.

Then the 4-H kids headed home, but the Best girls were still into it. Night owls that they are (not hard to do when it gets dark at 4:30), they took off with the project, playing with shutter speed, blur and light inside before dressing up to head outside where they developed a story in ghostly images. Can you make it out?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Getting Out and About - Beach Rides, 4-H, Community Service, and Road Trips

While we spent a lot of time on the farm this year, it seemed like we spent even more time driving to and from town for a variety of activities from 4-H happenings to ballet rehearsals. We had a lot of fun this past summer with Cuesta College for Kids for both girls, dance camp in Santa Barbara for E which equated to a Santa Barbara vacation for V and me, beach rides with friends, volunteering at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, a trip to Los Angeles to visit grandparents, a weekend trip to Nevada to camp with Grandpa to camp with a Utah cousin, and a weeklong trip in the fall to visit the Utah cousins in earnest. With animals to tend to, it's tougher to take long trips. Though Mr. B generally chooses to stay home, it seems a bit unfair to have him doing all the heavy lifting if we hit the road, so we try to stick around.

The girls did really well with 4-H last year. They attended loads of presentation events, including this SLO County Field Day.

We didn't know what to expect, but since the girls were showing their photos, posters and sewing projects, and it was touted as a mini-fair, we invited the grandparents along. It was nice to have them there - the girls feel extra special when their grandparents come to their events - and it was a cute mini-fair-like event, but since there were no horse events (our girls' only 4-H animal), their presentations were pretty static, and all quickly ran out of things to do. V found the milking station, and we all enjoyed a picnic BBQ.

A week later, the girls went to State Field Day, for which E had qualified with both her presentation and her sewing project. There, V enjoyed her first chess match, and we were thoroughly befuddled with the 4-H shuffle. E got to show off her 1913 bathing costume and earned a state gold medal for her presentation, but our lack of event knowledge led us to miss a lot of the available activities. It's all a learning curve, isn't it?

In other 2013 lessons, the cousin campout in Nevada taught us that there ARE rivers in the desert. We met up with Utah cousins to camp near Fort Churchill State Historic Park, a halfway point between their Utah home and ours. We spent most of our time on the river, soaking or floating or throwing rocks. The float down was fun, but the heat was brutal so the hike up, even in ankle deep water, was a bit tough.

The Carson River on which the campground rests is a short walk from the actual camping sites, and we found the best seating was with our chairs in the water under the shade of the trees growing from the far bank. It seems to be a seasonal drainage; we watched its flow drop day after day during our visit.

The costumed docents were on hand at the neighboring state park, so the girls got their hands into music making and quilting while cousin Jim checked out the weaponry and Grandpa Randy eyed the canon. It was a good spot, but one better visited much earlier in the spring.

V snuggles with Stevie, who was briefly friendly.
In other news: V's dire need for a rabbit, which she bought with money she earned taking and selling photos this year, led us to learn that not handling rabbits regularly leads to feral, mean little bunnies who actually growl and bite and carry on...until you flip them over. V named him Stevie. Mr. B and I created an enclosure, caged on the bottom from digging predators and on the top to keep out raptors, at the top of the big garden where we put Stevie's house. He seemed to like free run to graze, but turned out to be pretty danged territorial.

We established that it's a full day's ride from Morro Rock to Cambria and back again if you take time to enjoy fish tacos or fish and chips on the beach before heading back. We found an almost ideal parking spot for Maddie, but think they should add a trough and perhaps a bale of hay there at the Cambria store. While the girls were exploring Cuesta College for Kids classes, Aleta joined me for a ride on the beach, a bucket list item, before she headed off for a year in Germany.

We found out that water wars are just as popular at the Templeton July 4th Parade as they were 15 years ago when I last took part with this group in this fun-filled, family-friendly event:

That Barnum Bailey's Circus is just as amazing as I remembered it from my childhood:

Volunteering with La Purisima remains one of the girls' favorite activities:

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