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When I started writing this blog four years ago I first “mastered” the software used behind the screen and leased server space from a provider. I learned enough to layout and organize the pages and the internal links, and to move and organize files on the server–but nothing fancy. And I didn’t keep updating the software with each new version; the old version worked just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Recently, I returned to the “other Washington,” DC, where I have a very robust Internet connection. And so I thought to do some maintenance work on the El Otro WA website. Nothing major; I just wanted to backup the site, update the software, make a couple of small changes, and then backup the result. And so I looked into the files and discovered that I REMEMBERED NOTHING!

I wasn’t too thrilled with the prospect of re-learning everything, either. In fact, in a real display of character–one that reveals the new me, I decided that, for the first time in my life it wasn’t really necessary for me to comprehend the internals of the system. And so I decided to hire the project out.

If I didn’t remember the names of the files or how to manipulate them to achieve my ends, I did have a full understanding of the fact that this was not a difficult project for someone who DID know the system. Six people responded to the note I put up in the “Gigs” section of Craig’s list, offering $100 to someone to do the work. It should have been rewarding gig, if not exactly a lucrative one.

Enter Samantha, who shall otherwise remain nameless, but only because I imagine myself a kind man.

Samantha is a “community organizer and peace activist” in my home area and she asserted that she could get this work done and “”help me be more comfortable using the software…and she could use a little extra money.”

Eventually, we met in the Silver Spring library. I booted up my laptop and Samantha started in. A little more than an hour into the project and I began to recognize some of the sounds emanating from Samantha: “hmmm,” followed by “uh,” and then “ooh.” Samantha suggested that we telephone the support desk at the server farm that hosted my site. She seemed to speak the same language as the support person on the other end, even if the very fact of the call was not reassuring.

Twenty minutes after hanging up, Samantha was beginning to perspire. I recognized this as a not good sign, and took the opportunity to remark that the El Otro Site, for all that it is, is also sort of a memory of my last three years with my now-departed wife.

Samantha continued to sweat and appeared to have difficulty in focusing. Eventually, she turned to me and said: ” I am SO sorry.”  (pause) “I messed up your website.” (pause) “I don’t know how I did it.” (more rapidly now) “I don’t know what I did. I don’t know how to fix it. I am SO sorry.” and with that she gathered her things and FLED FROM THE LIBRARY!

The last I saw of Samantha was her back disappearing around the stacks, heading for the door.

I was not devastated. I did not think that all was lost. I was pretty sure that I could get everything back, somehow. But I was certainly surprised by her solution.

The following day I contacted the service provider ( and asked them to place a current backup of my site in my space, which they were able to do. I contacted the guy that I should have used to begin with ( and proceeded to re-install the old site, update the software, Install a new “skin” or “theme” over the El Otro WA content and make a few changes to the new theme. We made provision for regular backups within my own control.

Thefreelanceguy was swift and sure. No sweat, but…

For some reason, much of the content was systematically modified: all of the quotation marks, the apostrophes, the ellipses and the dashes had been replaced by the code that html uses to indicate those symbols, and so I’ve had to go through and manually replace that code with the correct punctuation in nearly every post on the site. If you’ve been receiving these e-mails for awhile, you have a full understanding of the effort needed to address my punctuation.

But that’s OK. This has forced me to read all of the posts again, something I might not have done, otherwise.

And so I’ve re-lived my travels with Denise over the past few years, and especially last summer’s tour across the US and Canada, taken shortly before she died. I’ve corrected most of the punctuation, and arranged the web site in a much better way–see what you think. (  So I’m very grateful to thefreelanceguy.

And THANKS, Samantha!

1 Comment on THANKS, Samantha!!

  1. Beth says:

    I like the new website look! Sorry to hear about the difficulties in getting it up and running.

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