Monday, May 25, 2009

Website Building for Dummies


If you would have told me, fifteen years ago, that I'd be able to work with basic computer skills, I would have laughed.

For me, changing a light bulb is about as technical as I can get, and my entrance into the world of computer literacy was accomplished with much kicking and screaming.

Slowly and surely, however, I became competent on the computer, learning to navigate the internet and work with WORD, EXEL and even POWERPOINT, though only with much tutoring and hand-holding.

The world of websites and working with computer "languages" however, always seemed to be as far into outerspace as one of NASA's launches.

So it was with much trepidation that I began to explore the possibility of building my own website several months ago when my former simple space on the web, a free website template, no longer seemed adequate for my needs.

"Build a site" my friends told me repeatedly, when I complained that I had amassed a ton of material which would assist visitors to my city, as well as lead them to my own rental guest room. I just chuckled. Me, build a website? My 13-year-old helps me when I get stuck on computer issues!

Slowly though, I began to research the possibilities, and found a well-respected "how-to" site which gave a list of 10 recommended website hosting companies. I looked up each company's listing with the Better Business Bureau, and found that only one, Lunar Pages, had not only received accreditation, but their review by the BBB was excellent.

I slowly looked through the Lunar Pages site, and did several cost-comparisons with other web-hosting companies, including the company which had hosted my freebie for a number of years, and with whose webbuilding program I was comfortable with already (which says a lot, considering that I was quite nervous about tackling something new).

I was also pleased to see various options which gave me different alternatives for my site. The were various time frames that I could sign up for, as well as different programs designed to meet alternate needs. In the end, I chose one program, and when, after starting, it seemed to be the wrong choice for me, the LunarPages staff immediately offered me the option of switching, even though it meant that I would receive a refund for the difference.

LunarPages costs were extremely competitive and favorable in comparison to what other companies were offering. In addition, from the moment that I started the process of registering with them and as I began to ask my numerous questions about getting started, their support team was always available and willing to assist, even with questions with must have seemed ridiculous to them for their simplicity.

Every issue that I was struggling with, every new "oh no, how am I going to figure THIS out?" that cropped up, they have been with me, patiently teaching me how to set up my site.

I don't think that Bill Gates will be looking to hire me anytime soon, but I am thoroughly satisfied with LunarPages, and highly recommend that anyone building a website or looking to host a site, rank beginners as well as more advanced builders, consider their company.

Check out LunarPages for an amazing webhosting and website building opportunity.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Omer

The 50-day period between Passover and Shavouth holidays is almost over, and it's time to start thinking about Shavouth, my favorite holiday.

I usually fall asleep before the traditional all-night learning takes place, but the idea is wonderful, and I love hearing people walk up and down the street on their way to classes, and hearing my own kids coming in late after learning a bit. I enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of the day, and particularly enjoy the dairy meals. No one expects meat on Shavouth, so I can let my imagination go wild organizing dairy meals. Of course, this also means a bit of extra effort, both in the planning (thinking of creative dairy meals that everyone will like is a challenge) and execution (dairy takes more time, I think). Nice cheeses are also not cheap. But, as I said, it's my favorite time, and anyway, now that the kids have found a great cheesecake recipe, that's one less thing that I need to think about.

I'm always amazed at how women (let's be honest, it is the women) get everything ready for the holidays on time and with such creativity. One lady who has made a successful career of helping her colleagues-in-preparations is Rivka Slatkin, who has taken Jewish household organization to a new level. The rest of us can only wonder at her skill.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Up until now, the weather has been a cool spring, but this week, a bit of heat crept in. Nothing to make it seem like mid-summer, but a reminder that it's not far away, and arrangements have to be made soon for pool usage. We have a hotel nearby, the Rimonim Hotel, with a pool, and the last few years I bought a summer subscription for the kids (I don't really swim, though if thrown into the deep end, I could stay afloat and propel myself to the side). Last year however, the only one who really used the pool on a regular basis was Gal, so this year, I might buy a pass that one punches in each time one goes.

Because of my own lack of swimming skills, it was always important to me that my kids became proficient swimmers, and when each one reached age 6 or 7, I arranged for lessons and made sure that they learned, even though it usually stretched the ol' budget. I never thought that my kids paid much attention to the effort until recently, when one of my daughters said, when I complimented her on her eagerness to exercise, "you have yourself to thank. You took us to swimming lessons and the pool all the time, so we learned to enjoy exercise".

It actually wasn't even one of those things that you think "they don't appreciate X" because it had just been part of our summer schedule. But it was nice to hear, all the same.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lag B'Omer 2

Lag B'Omer ended this evening. The city was filled with the spillover from Meron....many of the quarter-million visitors who made their way to Mt. Meron, the traditional spot for pilgrimages on this day, spent some time in Tzfat. The day begins with a huge parade in Tzfat, when the Torah scroll is taken from the Abu home and danced to the bus station, where it is bussed to Meron. This is a tradition that's been going on for about 150 one time, they used to dance it across the valley to Meron, but now they put it on a bus.

My friend, watching the parade, commented that it looked like a big block party, and it certainly did. As the parade made its way down Tzfat's main street, vendors and storekeepers had tables of snacks and drinks put out for the people in the parade, and a sense of good cheer pervaded the atmosphere, as everyone, secular, traditional, ultra-Orthodox, Sepharadi, Ashkanazi, and everything in-between danced and sang together.

Margalit went with her school friends to a bonfire outside of town, and they stayed there overnight. I would say that they slept there, but from what she said, they didn't do any sleeping at all. She did mention that the fire somehow made its way to a nearby garbage can which burned.....I am a bit disturbed by the "parental supervision" that was supposed to be there. But all's well that ends well, and she should sleep well for the next few nights.

I would post some pictures, but my camera is always somewhere else....this week, Yochi took it to her army base to take pictures of their bonfire. Very nice, except that, having purchased the camera, I would like to use it sometime.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lonely Planet

Tomorrow night is Lag B'Omer, a holiday which has become a huge celebration in recent years. The festivities mainly center on the nearby mountain settlement of Mt. Meron (the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) with the spillover arriving in Tzfat.

Rabbi Shimon is believed to have written the Zohar, the Kabbalistic book which sets out the basics of Jewish mysticism. His tomb is a pilgrimage spot, and the great Kabbalistic Rabbi of the 16th Century, the ARI, began the tradition of visiting his gravesite on the anniversary of his death, Lag B'Omer. For those who don't make the trek to Meron to visit the gravesite, Lag B'Omer is also celebrated by thousands of bonfires in every nook and cranny of the country. (A well-known true story tells of the French Airline pilot who, upon circling Israel before landing one Lag B'Omer night, radioed the tower to ask if it was safe to land....the country seemed to be on fire)

As the years have passed, each of our kids has, at some point, left the home bonfire, then the neighborhood bonfire, to go off with friends. Although several neighborhood families get together every year to light a conflageration that can probably be seen on Mt. Meron (we have a pretty good view of the Meron area from our house, and with a good pair of binoculars can see the Meron fire) by the time the kids are in their early teens, they want to be with other friends in other parts of town. Up until this year, Gal, my youngest, was always part of the neighborhood festivities, but this year, she's chosen to spend the night with her classmates at a bonfire in a neighboring area of town.

So, this Lag B'Omer, for the first time, I will be on my own. Another milestone of raising my children. I'm SO EXCITED! I have a million plans, starting with a project that needs working on (articles to write about Tzfat), then making myself some dinner and sitting over my food with a book, and then starting another project that I've been looking forward to......this is going to be SO MUCH FUN!

The empty nest is going to have a happy mother bird tomorrow! (But let's be honest.....when the nest is occupied again, the mother bird will enjoy the normalcy)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Wave of Thefts

The local papers reported this week that supermarkets have geared up for a wave of thefts. Of what, one might ask?

Well, the Lag B'Omer holiday is coming up in a few days, and this is the time of year when little firebugs throughout the country have a field day -- bonfires are lit in every neighborhood, in every apartment complex, on every street corner, in every park, and everywhere where a bunch of kids can organize a fire.

Kids start collecting wood for their fires well in advance, sometimes even before Pesach, 4 weeks ahead of time. But the week leading up to Lab B'Omer is full of activity, as branches and boards are dragged to the designated spot by each band of kids, who set up guard duty rosters worthy of any army in the world.

Of course, getting massive amounts of wood from spot to spot demands a lot of energy and organization, and thus, supermarket trolleys are used....hence the supermarkets' heightened vigilence during these weeks. The kids, though, are generally good kids, and usually after Lag B'Omer (maybe because of parental prodding) one can see the trolleys being returned, a little worse for the wear, but returned nonetheless.