Be Prepared for Blog Surprises!


No matter how well you plan ahead, blog surprises can always catch you off guard and put you behind deadlines.

You may notice things look a bit different here at Patrick’s Place. I just launched a new blog design and I’m still doing a few tweaks with the design. I planned to launch it at the start of February. But the reason I didn’t involves the kind of blog surprises that come out of nowhere.

The reason I chose the start of February as the planned date of a new look was simple. Feb. 7, 2004, marked the 18th anniversary of this blog. The idea I came up with was to refresh the design around that time to coincide with the start of my 19th year of blogging.

I always try to stay a few posts ahead.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to do that lately because work at the real job has been crazy. When you combine being short-handed and trying to train new folks with a pandemic, things do not go as planned. For the last few months, my work schedule changed day to day, week to week.

Call me crazy, but I find it difficult to plan too far ahead when my schedule is so wild that I have to remind myself what day it is when I wake up. (For that matter, I had to double-check the day of the week and my work schedule before going to bed to make sure the alarm clock would go off at the right time!)

I’m a big believer in using an editorial calendar to stay ahead of things. But under conditions like this, I’m afraid even the editorial calendar mocks me. I end up using it more to plan what I might write about, rather than filling it with posts I finished to schedule.

When you can stay ahead of schedule, writing in advance and scheduling posts through your editorial calendar, you can be better prepared for the unexpected. Most of those unexpected calamities can fall under the phrase, “Life happens.” A death in the family, a sudden work trip, illness, even an appliance going belly up — all can affect you when you least expect it.

Then something very unexpected happened.

Here’s where one of those blog surprises comes in. On top of the challenge of writing ahead, a mysterious error sidetracked me. All of a sudden, I noticed all sorts of strange characters on hundreds of posts going back more than a decade. It seems posts in which “smart quotes” or even em-dashes appeared suddenly now featured weird strings of special characters.

There was no easy fix for this. I knew I couldn’t ignore it.

So I set out to start going through posts in which I could find these characters and replace them with what I originally typed. I’ve literally edited hundreds of posts over the past few weeks. In some posts, I only found one or two instances. In a few, there were dozens in the same post!

I’ve gone through hundreds of old posts, not only removing those extra characters but also correcting an occasional typo. It’s sometimes hard to see a typo in something you’ve just written. But they really jump out when you go back and read something 11 years later or so!

In any case, making those corrections put me far behind schedule.

Finding the right theme took time, too.

This new theme was designed by the same company, Theme-Ruby, that designed the previous one. So you may see some similarities here and there. I wanted to be able to have a bit more control over certain aspects of the layout than the previous, older theme could provide.

One feature I took for granted in my old theme — and assumed most others had — was the ability to add a photo credit to featured images. Most of my blog posts have a single image at the top of the post. Since I rely on stock photos to add visual appeal, I have to be able to credit those licensed images properly. I found myself shocked by how few themes make captions for featured images even an option.

This new theme solves most of the issues I brought into my search for a new look.

But I will continue to make tweaks. I hope to have everything as “locked down” as possible within the coming weeks. I can be fickle when it comes to typefaces, for example. So I struggle sometimes to find the right combination. (At least, I struggle to find the combination that looks “right” to me.)


First Part – 15th Blogging Anniversary: 15 Blogging Truths – Part 1

Second Part – 15th Blogging Anniversary: 15 Blogging Truths – Part 2

Third Part – 15th Blogging Anniversary: 15 Blogging Truths – Part 3

Fourth Part – 15th Blogging Anniversary: 15 Blogging Truths – Part 4

Fifth Part – 15th Blogging Anniversary: 15 Blogging Truths – Part 5

Has it really been 18 years?

In any case, Feb. 7 marked my 18th blogging anniversary. If it hadn’t been for a strong of life and blog surprises, I would have mentioned it sooner.

If you have a hard time believing anyone could blog this long, don’t worry. I still can’t believe I’ve stayed with this for so long myself!

If you were to ask me what I enjoy enough about this to do it for so long, I guess I’d have to say that it’s knowing there are people who’ll still come here and read what I have to say. It’s nice to know someone finds value in this website and my random musings.
I hope I provide content you can find entertaining or informative. If I’m doing it well after all these years, then I hope once in a while you find something that’s both entertaining and informative.

In any case, Happy Anniversary to me…and let’s have a great 19th year together here!

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.