About the time I forget she exists, a large manilla envelope arrives in the mail. The minute I see the hand-written addressing, I smile to myself, “The Bee Lady.” Brenda Koch, from Tallmansville, WV, has been writing a quarterly column on bees for more than three years now. She called, on day out of the blue, explained that she had committed to writing the column for another quarterly publication that never made it off the ground, and asked if we were interested.
We talked for more than an hour. She’s a beekeeper, a honey and wax product producer who wants to share her knowledge. As new beekeepers ourselves, were we interested in her column? Of course we were. Hers is the only quarterly column we publish.
The Bee Lady does not have a computer. We don’t communicate by email, I don’t “see” her on facebook, she doesn’t tweet. And to be honest, I think we’ve only spoken on the phone once since she started writing for us. I’m not even sure where Tallmansville is. We’ve never met in person, and I don’t even have a photo of her to post with this entry. In my mind, I picture her about my age, with long hair and mud boots in a bee suit.
Since she’s not online, and not nearby, and quarterly — she has a tendency to fade in my mind. We run her column, then one, and another months pass by. And then, there she is, a manilla envelope in the mailbox.
Her columns come as copied pages, paper-clipped on the upper left hand corner, the original handwritten in all capital letters on wide-ruled paper. I try my best not to insert typing errors in her column as I enter it into the computer. Sometimes I do, and then don’t catch them in editing. I admit now that any typographical errors or spelling errors in her column are my mistakes, not hers.
Brenda is the first in our “Meet the Columnist” series, because that manilla envelope arrived in the mail today. The next installment from The Bee Lady will appear in our March issue. If you’ve been enjoying our quarterly column on bees, feel free to send her a letter or card (by snail mail of course) to: B. Koch, HC 36, Box 184, Tallmansville, WV 26237.
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The May 2011 Issue Includes: Monkeys From a Barrel; Making Homemade Yeast; For Rent – One Fairy House; What s In An Address?; A Window to My World; The Whipple Coal Company Store; Plastic World; Advice on Advice; Making Your Food Budget Go Farther; How To Become An Early Riser; Recipe for Chicken Squares; Hallelujah ; Straw Bale Gardening; The History of Bee Hives; My Friend Ginger; Dehydrating Dairy; Introducing Kefir; Scared of Your Swimsuit?; The First Thoratic Vertebra; What Is a Raptor? and MORE
As web publishing possibilities grow, I become more and more overwhelmed. It seems impossible to keep up, and I admit — I sometimes I use that as an excuse not to. The rest of the time, I just muddle through the best I can to keep our web sites up to date, functioning, and performing to their best ability, which is directly limited to my abilities.
Several years ago, I used to obsess over my web sites and blogs, learning and experimenting and playing with what’s out there. That’s how we ended up with our Cafe Press store at www.twolaneshoppin.com, and sites like the one I created after the 2003 flood.
But while I worked as a newspaper reporter, my knowledge of web publishing stagnated while I focused on writing. When we launched Two-Lane Livin’, I realized my web design knowledge (and web design program) were severely out-of-date.
When we became involved with WV Uncovered, I decided to use WordPress as our publishing platform, and began to learn and play with it. That was a year and a half ago, and I just now am feeling somewhat comfortable with it. I don’t try to push my boundaries too much, and I admit — I’ve spent time I used to spend on web work and play now on learning to garden, can, make rugs, relax.
However, our continued involvement with WV Uncovered, and the appearance of a new “web savvy” friend in my life, I realize that I have been neglecting the web sites of our lives. When you have multiple web sites in multiple levels of completion, with multiple purposes, it seems that everyone of them has loose ends. On top of that, I don’t even know off the top of my head how many different domain names we own. I’d have to look them up. Some are parked, some are forwards, some are hosted — I have a hard time keeping track.
The two main domains I work with are twolanelivin.com and wvcottages.com. The first, of course, hosts the magazine online. The second is a domain name I’ve had since 1997, and I just have never let it go. It hosts this blog, even though the blog’s “domain” is twolanebloggin.com. Then, there’s our youtube page (twolanevideo.info), our scribed page, our payloadz page (twolanepubs.com), our etsy page (fralimi.com), and others long forgotten or yet to come.
Our web sites are full of “we could possiblies” and “yet to comes”.
Web design work is a time sponge, much like the internet that hosts it. I start tweaking one of our sites at 4 pm, and with a break for dinner, could still be tweaking at 2 am. That’s what happened the other night, and my sleep schedule is still out of whack.
The main page at wvcottages.com was completely outdated and served no purpose, so I created a new entry for that. I found a new Worpress PlugIn for twolanelivin.com that provided better meta tags and descriptions. This blog’s version of WordPress was outdated, so I thought I’d upgrade that too — and that’s where it all went down hill. The upgrade crashed the site, and at 2 a.m. I sent a frantic e-mail to the server technician. He replied within minutes.
See? Web work seems to draw (or create) night owls.
I think about our hopes to create audio and video features for our web sites, our dreams of having our own internet tv channel, of the interactive possibilities of the future.
And I think, “then I’ll never get any sleep.”
WHAT IS THAT THING ANYWAY?
I think several of our older readers will be wondering that as they read the upcoming issue of Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine. But there’s no doubt that QR Codes will become more and more prominent in print publications.
A Quick Response Code (aka QR code) is a mobile phone readable barcode. Think, “print based hypertext link” – simply encode a URL into the QR Code and then point a mobile phone (or other camera-enabled mobile) at it. If the device has had QR Code decoding software installed on it, it will go straight to that URL.
But it doesn’t stop there – a QR Code can also contain a phone number, an SMS message, e-mail address, paypal checkout or simple text message, and the scanning device responds by opening the correct application to handle the encoded data appropriately.
Two-Lane Livin’ now offers QR Code services to our advertising clients. We hope readers with capable mobile devices enjoy them.
To learn more about using QR Codes in your print marketing and advertising, call 304-354-9132.