Friday, May 27, 2016

Just how many times can I pack?

One year ago today, my husband and I started out on our Trip of a Lifetime. We left home for Toronto with a stop at Niagara Falls along the way (because we'd stopped there on our honeymoon - which was also in Toronto) and stayed overnight there, then caught our plane for Rome. We'd planned a week taking a Mediterranean cruise, embarking at Rome, then going 'round to Palermo, Naples, Livorno, Genoa, Toulon and getting off at Barcelona. From there, a short plane ride to Dublin and then another week tooling around the Emerald Isle.

You know what happened. We never made it to Ireland. We had a grand adventure, just not the one we planned.

Last year I packed, repacked, packed again. I weighed the suitcases, measured them, unpacked, repacked, measured and weighed again. We decided to take one carry-on each (besides our laptops) and one MONSTER suitcase (that would have to be checked). Initially we didn't want a checked bag because we didn't want to spend extra time in the airport, but my husband is a painter and wanted his travel easel. It's wooden, carryable, but still took up nearly the entire extra suitcase.

This year, he's decided to leave the easel home and bring a light-weight one that's much more manageable. He can put it in his briefcase, along with several small tubes of paint. So we're back to the one laptop case and one small carry-on - nothing checked!

Of course, that means being very judicious about what I bring. One color scheme (purple, of course. I packed a single print skirt that has many colors - each T-shirt/blouse matches it so I can mix and match as needed). I left the scarf out, and am taking only a light rain jacket (and will probably wear it so I don't need to pack it). No sweatshirt or sweater. I figure I can buy one there. If we need to get another suitcase or if I overpack on the way home? That's fine. I don't mind waiting at the Toronto airport for luggage - we're going home. It's wasting time in foreign lands I don't want to do.

But I'm a little more relaxed about the process this year. I've already packed and am right at the limit, pound-wise, so I might do a little more readjusting, but other than that? I'm good.

I'm also excited as heck! Eight days in Ireland and six in Scotland. I'm hoping to meet up with Cait Miller, a fellow member of the Sizzling Scribes while we're there. My husband teases me that I expect to see Jamie and Claire, too, but pish! I'll just visit places mentioned in the book.

Watch this blog for travel updates - I'll post when I can. Last year I had to wait until we were home because the ship's WiFi was exorbitant and I didn't spend enough time on shore to post much. This year, we're on land the entire trip and the B&B's and hotels all have WiFi, so it should be easier.

And as for volcanoes? Several people have told me they're glad I'm staying away from those this year. Little do they know, I'm planning to climb Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh - which is an extinct volcano! Don't worry, though. I've also told my husband it's HIS turn to get us a first class seat on the way home. :)

Play safe, and I'll see you in Ireland - or Scotland!


PS. Watch for a new feature coming to the blog on June 1st! I think you'll like it. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Whee! Post hits...or not

I generally check traffic stats to this site about once a week, just to see if anyone is out there. When there is no Google Adwords campaign going, I generally get double digit hits each day, making a grand weekly total of three to four hundred hits a week.

So you can imagine my surprise when the blog got 843 hits yesterday. You read that right. Double what I get in a typical week in a single day.

Naturally, I'm curious as to what pages got all those views - and every one of them was from 2013. Hmmm....And where do the viewers come from? This is where it gets interesting.

I stopped running the AdWords campaigns because most of the hits I was getting were from bots - basically unmanned computers trolling for weaknesses they could exploit in a website. The viewed numbers were increasingly skewed by these bots and getting an accurate read nearly impossible. So I cancelled the ads and watched my numbers plummet - to reality.

Most of those bots are located in the countries you'd expect: Russia, Pakistan, China. But yesterday's hits were from Good O'l US of A bots - over a thousand and a half of them in the past week.

Now I'd love to believe that all those views were real people who suddenly got interested in my books/site/life, but then, I'd like to believe in unicorns, too. How do I know they're not real? Because nothing else rose with the increase in views (okay, get your minds out of the gutter!!! :) ). No increase in sales or interest on Smashwords or Amazon, no increase even in looking at the tabs across the top of the site. Only individual hits on very old pages. That says bot, not person.

For those of you who ARE real ... and I know I have a few readers in Russia, Pakistan and China as well as many other countries...The protection against attacks is one of the reasons I stay with Blogger as my website host. It isn't the greatest in form or ease of setting up pages (not WYSIWYG), no way to do direct sales from the site - but also no viruses getting through, no malware or other nasty things that mess up computers and lives.

So thank you to those of you who are real...and pftttt to the bots who aren't!

Play safe,