July 28, 2004
Two weeks ago in this column I included a mystery picture.
I'll admit that I placed it at the bottom of the page. That's not really fair, is it?
I asked the question:
Can anyone identify who this is, where it is, when it is, and what is happening?
I really appreciate your efforts to figure it out. I didn't make it very easy, did I? I'm going to go ahead and give you two of the clues. I'll tell you 2. and 3.
2. Bishop Mule Days
4. What is happening?
Send me your guesses to 1. and 4. You can comment here or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
We'll get this one figured out.
Have a great day!
July 26, 2004
Aren't they cute!
They always steal the show!
No matter where the show, have you noticed how the crowds go wild when the miniature donkeys show up? They're right there doing their stuff, just like the big ones. And the crowd goes wild!
Here's a picture I took at Bishop Mule Days 2004 that I just couldn't resist sharing.
This is Julie Chan driving TW Biscuit, Tim Phillips driving C More Donk, and Yvonne Bailey driving Bailey's Baby Lee.
See you tomorrow,
July 25, 2004
Welcome, Steve Edwards!
Steve Edwards, owner of Queen Valley Mule Ranch, is starting a new column here in the News and Articles section of the Longears Mall where he will be sharing with you many "tricks of the trade".
A new mule owner at Bishop Mule Days had just brought her freshly acquired mule to one of Steve's clinics for a demonstration. It was a beautiful mule, but one that was obviously in charge of its owner. And its mind was on the nice green grass at Steve's feet -- any thing but obeying its new owner.
Bishop Mule Days is a circus anyway, but this was really a circus. It looked like the owner and her mule were doing a new kind of dance. It was a good thing the poor lady was not on water skis! On second thought, perhaps she could have competed with the Chariot Races.
The bleachers by Steve's highly anticipated demonstration were full. In fact, I remember that they had to slide some more over. We all sat on the "safe" side of the fence. Steve, the owner and her mule were on the other side.
As the crowd watched with an air of suspense, she turned her mule over to Steve. You should have been there. Somehow that mule knew his playtime was over. Within fifteen minutes Steve was doing all kinds of commands with that mule. No harsh behavior. Just firmness. The mule clearly knew who was boss. Impressive!
Steve is good! How good? A Google search for "Steve Edwards mule" brings up 14,900 pages.
We are very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of his experience and talent. His articles are excellent.
I can't wait. Take it away, Steve! Let the music begin!
July 24, 2004
One thing that I really like about being a member of the "longears" community is that it is continually entertaining.
I have been trying to decide what to do with the right side of the Longears Mall Home Page and so I asked my Dad. He is never at a loss for ideas.
The left side, "News and Articles", is designed using RSS so that it will automatically pick up the headings from articles that are written for the "News and Articles" section of the Longears Mall. The right side was undeveloped frontier -- too good to be wasted.
My Dad grew up as a child of the 50's and 60's and immediately said, "You could put a bunch of Burma-Shave signs down the right side until you decide what to put there." Since I am only 23, and missed out on the Burma-Shave age, he proceeded to tell me all about how he and his brothers would watch for Burma-Shave signs every time their family went on trips.
For those of us that are too young to remember, the Burma-Shave story is a fascinating one.
A company near bankruptcy
Clinton Odell developed a brushless shaving cream which he called Burma-Shave. At a time when folks were really starting to travel America by automobile, the brushless shave cream eliminated the problem of packing a wet shaving brush and cup. Odell had an excellent product; all he lacked was a marketing plan. What was about to happen, is one of America's most successful advertising plans ever!
Allan Odell, one of three sons, convinced his father to spend $200 for some materials to construct highway signs. In 1926, using recycled lumber, Allan fabricated the first Burma-Shave verses, and erected one set of signs along Route 35, between Albert Lea and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Within weeks, drug stores began running out of Burma-Shave, and ordering more. The next year, Allan and his brother Leonard set up more signs, spreading across Minnesota and into Wisconsin, spending $25,000 that year on signs. Orders poured in, and sales for the year hit $68,000.
Although Allan wrote many of the early jingles himself, what made the sign campaign so successful is that ordinary folks were encouraged to write the jingles, and were awarded cash prizes up to $100. The family rejected any jingles which were even the slightest bit offensive. During WW II, homesick GI's would erect Burma-Shave lookalike signs in Alaska, Germany, and even Antarctica!
Eventually, about 7,000 sets of verses were posted along highways in 45 states. A sign crew with just 8 trucks maintained all the signs. The road men calling themselves "PHD's" (Post-Hole Diggers) changed the verses at least once a year and replaced any broken signs. Most farmers were more than willing to allow the signs to be erected on their land, for little more than a case of the product each year. The little Burma-Shave company grew to $3 million in annual sales.
All good things come to an end. The Odell Family sold their company to Gillette, which in turn became part of American Safety Razor, and Phillip Morris. The huge conglomerate decided the verses were a silly idea, and that other types of advertising, especially television, would sell more product. By 1966, every last sign disappeared from America's highways. A very few ended up in museums.
Clinton Odell, founder of the company, died in 1958. Allan Odell, who came up with the sign idea, passed away in 1994, and his brother Leonard in 1991.
Have a wonderful weekend!
July 23, 2004
Thank you so much for all your help!
I never expected to get so many calendar entries!
It sure is fun see all the different events taking place the rest of this year. I am having a hard time keeping up with all the new calendar entries. It sure is fun though to see our new Longears Mall Calendar filling up. Check it out!
You will notice that the entries come in a number of colors. As soon as I get a chance I plan to add a color legend to the Calendar pages, but for now here they are.
Color: Shows Rides Clinics Non-USA Sales
Continue sending in your events to email@example.com and I will add them.
I think it's time for another picture from Bishop Mule Days. How about you?
Here is Jim Porter driving SCMM Merlin through the Bridge Obstacle. Both Jim and Merlin are legends at Bishop. I will have to tell you more about them later.
July 22, 2004
Welcoming all equine enthusiasts!
It is always a pleasure when our good friends in the horse industry stop by to visit the Longears Mall.
Wow! I was quite impressed by the number of visitors one of our classifieds got yesterday from a post over at Stable Minds, a web site for equine enthusiasts.
I knew that a lot of people are visiting the Longears Mall. We use some really cool software called AWStats that gives us a wealth of valuable information on unique visitors, number of visits, pages accessed, hits (by day, month, year), by IP address, country, search engines, visit duration, specific pages accessed, operating systems, browser types, links on other people's websites that refer to the Longears Mall, and a host of other neat statistics and graphs.
Here are just a couple of fascinating numbers. Last month LongearsMall.com had 2,160 unique visitors that have made 28,870 page requests. They generated 302,629 hits, a browser request for a graphic, page, etc. Just since we introduced the new LongearsMall.com, in the first 21 days of July we have had 1,793 unique visitors that have made 25,616 page requests and generated 267,969 hits. We also have 14 different search engines that have visited LongearsMall.com during July. Not too bad!
Back to my story. A lady by the name of Cheryl posted a link in the Stable Minds forum, back to a really great Longears Mall classified ad for 'Golda My Ear' - a 6 year old Gaited Palomino Molly Mule owned by Mariann of the Mockingbird Mule and Donkey Company. Here is what the ad looks like.
While looking at yesterday's AWStats report of links on other people's websites that refer to the Longears Mall, I saw Cheryl's link from her Stable Minds post referencing Mockingbird Mule and Donkey Company's classified show up near the top of the list. Isn't the Internet fun!
Have a great day,
July 21, 2004
I have made some improvements to the Longears Mall Calendar that I think you will like!
First I would like to thank you for the many calendar entries that are coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is truly exciting to see so many events taking place. If any of you have events that are taking place outside of the United States I will be excited to add those as well -- perhaps in another color so they stand out! It is always neat to see what is happening around the world with "longears"! It also gives us a good reason to plan trips to our neighboring countries. I just loved the donkey trekking site in France that I discovered July 19.
It's kind of hard to read isn't it!
And as I add more entries it gets even harder to distinguish between one and the next. That's certainly not what we want.
Today I decided that something had to be done, and so I spent some time studying the calendar configuration and program code. I decided to do two things:
1. Color-code the various entries by "shows", "clinics" and "rides". I have more unused colors reserved for future categories, such as "non-USA", as well.
2. Add some white-space around each entry to make it easier to read.
Here is the result:
How do you like it?
I really appreciate your comments here as well as all the excellent emails you send to email@example.com. Keep them coming, and I'll keep working hard for you!
July 20, 2004
Today I thought I would check out the "Magazines" section of our Longears Mall.
I am continually amazed at the richness and diversity of entries we have here! The worldwide "longears" community is well represented.
19 entries just for magazines alone. That's pretty impressive. I think I'll take a closer look. You see, my sister Karen keyed in most of these entries, and I have been so busy with the computer programming aspect of the Longears Mall I haven't taken much time to sit back and just enjoy all of what's here.
As I scan down the list I recognize a number of very familiar names. As "longears" lovers, we can never have enough magazines, can we?
One that I'm sure that most of us have is Mules and More, the Official Publication of the North American Saddle Mule Association.
Adding it to our list of "essential reading" is kind of like an initiation rite, isn't it. And for good reason. They have really worked hard to provide a good lineup of articles essential for every "longears" lover.
As a donkey owner, I especially notice when donkeys are welcomed and included in the mule community. To me, they are like the "salt". They add humor and variety.
At one end of the spectrum we have horses. At the other end we have donkeys, with mules in the middle -- intelligent, quick and responsive!
We have a neighbor that has a beautiful Arabian mare. I brought home a new light colored donkey named Dusty. I put him in a separate pasture from my other donkeys, and he immediately started relaxing and enjoying the nice green grass. The mare just totally freaked out. Sweat was pouring off of her. Her nostrils were pulsing like she was suffering from oxygen starvation. She raced from one end of her pasture through an open gate where a fence divides the middle to the other end of the pasture. Even though she is completely at ease with our dark colored donkeys, at one point she was so agitated by this strange light-colored animal in our pasture that she leaped right over the 4' high dividing fence across the middle of the neighbor's pasture and tore off the top strand of fencing! Maybe she though Dusty was a super-large coyote! The neighbor soon came out to try and reassure her that Dusty wasn't going to eat her.
On the other hand, it is so hilarious watch the donkeys at Bishop Mule Days. I'm sure you have noticed how they have to think everything through first. And that is what I really like about being a member of the "longears" community. It is very accepting of diversity.
As many of you know, Bonnie is an incredible artist. I was also very fortunate to be able to have her design the Longears Mall Logo in the upper left. It takes someone with her skill to draw a really good caricature of a donkey. And did you know that Bonnie is also a really good storyteller?
This month's continuing story begins with:
"Three hours on top of a pack on top of a mule were not doing the gambler a whole lot of good, but he was glad to be rescued and on the move to somewhere. He tried to think of this as a little detour on the way to the next town, and the resumption of his life."
You've got to see her drawings to go with the stories. She is good!
July 19, 2004
Quand les chemins ont des oreilles
"When the ways have ears"
Yesterday I was sharing with you how I was exploring the Stores and Classifieds menu here at the Longears Mall. I clicked on Stores and thought to myself, "This is like Christmas. Where shall I go today? Organizations. That looks like a good one!"
And so I clicked on Organizations.
Scanning down through the listings of organizations my eyes stopped at the listing for Ânes & Randonnées. That is the cutest logo!
This is a really neat website! They advertise that they have "All what you need to know about donkey trekking and a choice of beautiful photos."
I'm also impressed by any website that takes the time to provide visitors with three different languages. We have it easy here in the United States where we often act like the whole world should learn English.
I was fascinated by the "Quand les chemins ont des oreilles" displayed under their name, and so I pulled up Google's cool Language Translator and typed in "Quand les chemins ont des oreilles" to find out what it means in English.
It told me "When the ways have ears". Notice that I can also feed it complete web page URLs and it will translate them for me.
Be sure to check out their photos. Donkey trekking looks like a lot of fun!
(Note: If the content text seems small when you visit this web site, try setting your video display to 800 x 600 pixels. That is the number of color dots across your computer's monitor. I was running 1152 x 864 pixels, and the content text displayed quite small. Since the web page's internal type sizes are set in pixels even "View | Text Size | Largest" in my Internet Explorer menu didn't make it larger. Netscape Navigator's "View | Text Zoom", on the other hand, did make it larger.)
July 18, 2004
Stores vs Store Listings
Today I had some fun!
It's hard to put on the "hat" of a Longears Mall "user" when I am also responsible for the "care and feeding" of LongearsMall.com
Today I thought I would pretend that I was a new visitor to the Longears Mall. The first thing that caught my eye was the menu choice that said "Stores, Store Listings and Classifieds".
First I clicked on "Stores" and was presented with quite a number of pages of stores. I thought to myself, "This is probably not the most productive place for me to begin my experience as a "virtual tourist".
I next clicked on "Store Listings" and found a much more familiar directory of stores listed by category. Now that is what I expect to find when I visit a bricks-and-mortar mall or shopping center. For example, I would expect to find Barnes and Noble Booksellers listed under "Books". I might also want to search for them by name. Life is good.
I thought to myself, "Internal to the Longears Mall system there are Stores that have Store Listings under specific categories, but don't people usually want to see what stores are listed under a particular category of interest? Wouldn't it make more sense to have one menu choice for Stores and Store Listings, and call it Stores? That way I click on the menu choice of Stores, and then select whatever category I want to visit. If I want to go directly to a specific store I can just type the name in the Search box. Great idea!"
It took about 30 minutes to test the change on our test copy of the Longears Mall. It passed with flying colors! Once that was done and checked, I made the changes to the "live" copy that you work with. That is why it now looks like this:
Let me know through your comments here, or through firstname.lastname@example.org, what you think.
You will also notice a new menu selection on the Stores and Classifieds menu. It is "Language Translator". Tomorrow we will be in for a treat!
July 17, 2004
eBay and Longears Mall
What an easy way to open up a Longears Mall store!
I received a fascinating email this weekend from Carol Johnson, owner of Calo's Boutique. It said, "I have several Donkey Jewelry items listed on eBay...could I post these items on your mall site?"
I am always fascinated by multiple events that come together and benefit each other. My motivation for creating LongearsMall.com has been to provide a "master longears directory", a place where mule and donkey lovers everywhere can come and just have fun looking at all the neat things that make us fall in love with our "longeared" friends. That is why it has links to businesses, individual classifieds, calendar, community -- all the things that make "longears" irresistable.
While classifieds are good for buying and selling individual items, or advertising about individual mules or donkeys, we also want to add the "richness" that "longears" businesses bring. A very successful way to open up a product-oriented Internet business is to use eBay. eBay works well for the type of products that Calo's Boutique is selling to the "longears" market, and Longears Mall Store Listings work well for bringing mule and donkey lovers and Calo's Boutique together. By placing a Store listing for Carol under Gifts it makes it easy for us to find out about the products that she offers. And eBay makes it real easy for her to create an Internet store presence. Slick!
For those who want a more customizable online store, an excellent software package is osCommerce. There are currently 1,395 online stores using it. They even have an online demo. The best part is that the software is free.
osCommerce is provided by the OpenSource community. While that is a subject for another day, it means that the software has been produced by a number of developers and businesses that all contribute and share. OpenSource also means that it is free to anyone that wants to use it for any purpose.
For a credit card payment gateway we use a PayPal Merchant Account. That allows us to directly process Visa, Mastercard, Discovercard and American Express. It costs us about 3% of each transaction.
For web hosting services, LongearsMall.com is hosted by a large international Internet Service Provider in Los Angeles, California, called PowWeb.com. They have over 14,000 members and an incredible support forum with over 200,000 posts and a team of excellent moderators. I have been real pleased with them.
Today I have spent some time delving into the "nitty-gritty" of how you can create a Longears Mall store. I am entertaining the idea of adding a technical support forum to the Longears Mall where we can share ideas about ebay, osCommerce and similar solutions, credit card payment gateways, web hosting, web page design and other related subjects of value to Longears Mall store owners. Let me know if you are interested, either through comments here, or you can email me at email@example.com.
July 16, 2004
Warning: You may get addicted.
It's pretty unusual when I surprise myself.
I can't believe how much fun I've had going back again and again to watch Joe and Dayle Haworth's Half Ass Acres webcam. (Actually it's the baby foal I'm watching.) It can be addicting. Joe's got a pretty good webcam too. I'm impressed with the refresh rate!
Yesterday it prompted me to make a new addition to our Longears Mall menu bar.
If any of you know of any more mule or donkey webcams be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add them to our LongearsMall menu.
I'm sure that many of you have good pictures from the many great Mule and Donkey shows that have been taking place in the past two months. If you send them to me along with a description I will try to work them in.
Have a great weekend!
July 15, 2004
Christmas in July
Ho, Ho, Ho. I looked under my Christmas tree and what did I find?
Actually it was in my orders@longearsmall email box. But it is still just as exciting! It is like a never ending supply of treats.
Delanie Baughn in Tennessee sent me a picture from Shelbyville's Great Celebration 2004. She wrote:
"Here is a picture from The Great Celebration 2004 in Shelbyville. The picture is of My World Digger, Joe Haworth of Half Ass Acres (previous owner), and me (Digger's new owner). Digger placed 6th in the NMDA Over 2 Geldings Halter class. Joe had to show Digger because it was Digger's first show and he had the jitters, LOL! It was my first time to show, too, so we all decided that I needed a more "experienced" donkey to show. Digger is a tank of a boy, barely under 36 inches. But he is perfect to me!!"
Thank you, Delanie, for the beautiful picture. He sure is good looking!
By the way, you have got to visit Joe & Dayle Haworth's Half Ass Acres website. I love their artwork! While you are there be sure to check out the realtime foaling webcam. I had so much fun just watching it. Thanks, Joe!
Watching Joe's live webcam is so much more fun than software programming, but I do have some good news to report about the work I have been doing on fixing the problem with the search function for the Stores, Store Listings and Classifieds section of the Longears Mall. It should now work like the industry-standard Google-style search.
For example, if you want to search for "mule" and "trailer" you should be able to type any of the following:
To search for "mule" or "trailer" type this:
A "quoted" search for an exact phrase like this still does not work:
It will take some more study for me to get that working. I should have it soon.
For now, I've got to have one more look at Joe's webcam!
July 14, 2004
It's a Secret
If you wonder if something has changed in this news and update column, it's a secret.
OK. I'll tell you.
Do you see the Longears Mall logo and menu at the top of the page? Yesterday I spent time studying Movable Type, the really cool publishing package that I use for this column. I figured out how to add the new top section. That way you don't loose the navigation menu when you go into this portion of the Longears Mall.
For those of you that are having problems searching in the Stores, Store Listings and Classifieds section, I also have good news. I have been diligently combing over the code, and have located where the search routines are located. I discovered some faulty search logic. In the next day or two I hope to have that part rewritten, and begin testing it. Stay tuned.
Now for the fun stuff! Here is today's mystery picture. Can anyone identify who this is, where it is, when it is, and what is happening?
July 13, 2004
"From tiny acorns grows the mighty oak."
I have something I need your help with.
I have always admired the Oak tree. They are magnificient trees. When I was little, my parents and I lived in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. We were surrounded by woods and mountains. There were lots of oak trees there. I used to enjoy gathering acorns and pondering how such a little living organism could grow into such a mighty tree. Humbling.
It is that vision that motivates me to grow the Longears Mall into a "mighty oak" that we all can enjoy. Your comments here and your many emails to email@example.com have been thoughtful and inspiring.
I have something that I need your help with. In this morning's update I wanted to use for an illustration the poem that talks about "From tiny acorns grows the mighty oak." I'm sure that most of us have grown up hearing variations of this saying. I thought that metaphore would be a wonderful example of our future for the Longears Mall.
Do any of you have any more "light" on where this saying originated?
On another subject, this morning I added a menu tab called "Contact Us". Instead of your having to look various places to find out what email address to use to contact us at Longears Mall, you can now go here for an up-to-date list. To keep it simple I currently have one. If you would like to be added to the Stores, Store Listings or Classifieds categories, would like your entries updated, or just have a question or comment, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My father just installed some real neat software on our web server called "Jack's FormMail". When he is finished it will provide you with a comment form right on the "Contact Us" web page so you won't even have to open your email to send us a message.
And now for a "longears" photo. Here we have Yvonne Bailey driving Bailey's Baby Jim at Bishop Mule Days 2004. Isn't he cute!
July 12, 2004
The Weather Here at the Longears Mall
One thing my "longears" have taught me is to always look at the bright side of everything.
Things have been extremely bright here at the Longears Mall in Sandy, Utah. Bright from the sun, that is. I just checked the weather at www.weather.com to see what the numbers are.
This is the time of the year when our donkeys like to get a cool drink, pull up a lawn chair, and sit relaxing in the shade under the cool overhanging roof outside our barn. My mom calls them "creatures of comfort". You get the picture. Actually they're too big for lawn chairs so they all stand. Bummer.
They have really good hearing, too. All I have to do in the morning is gently slide the screen door open on the back of the house, and my donkeys who are clear on the other side of our barn, instantly envision my speedy arrival! Really, they do. They tell me about it too, with their chorus of donkey brays. Don't yours?
One wonderful thing about this great planet of ours is the diversity of weather. It is this time of year that my thoughts turn to the cooler weather that our friends "down under" are experiencing, and thinking that if "snowbirds" travel between New York and Florida, I wonder what one would be called if they traveled between the United States and Australia.
Actually I don't have to travel very far to get cool. We live in a really beautiful state. Utah has over 100 mountains that are over 10,000 feet high. Here in the Salt Lake valley we have quite a number of peaks within 30 minutes driving time.
The middle of June we went up to the little town of Alta just 30 minutes east of here. Just beyond Alta Ski Resort they stop plowing the snow off the road. The gate across the road was still closed due to deep snow on the road above the town of Alta. At that point anyone living on the road above parks their snowmobiles and Sno-Cats when they leave to come down to the Salt Lake Valley. When they return they park their car where the snow still covers the road, switch transportation, and ride their snow transportation up to their house or chalet. I wonder what would happen if I got snowshoes for my donkeys, and rode them up there.
Speaking of June, two years ago at Montana Mule Days in Drummond, it turned cold Saturday night and started snowing. This is what it looked like for the Junior Showmanship class Sunday morning.
Everyone that could (including the judge when he could) tried to sit under the big roof of the grand stand. Sunday noon when we left, we heard that there had been 12" of snow nearby and it had taken down some of the power lines -- in June.
If you ever get an opportunity to go, Montana Mule Days is a really fun show. For more photos be sure to visit their great web site at www.montanamuledays.com. It has lots of great photos!
July 11, 2004
Searching Stores, Store Listings and Classifieds
When we think of searching for something on the Internet we automatically think of searching, Google-style. Google has pretty well set the standard for how people search for something.
Standards are good. If I decide to visit England, for example, I will very quickly determine that I will be safer if I drive on the left side of the road.
The same thing applies to how we need to be able to search for Stores, Store Listings and Classifieds here at the Longears Mall. While the GeoClassifieds Enterprise Edition software that I use for this purpose offers way more features than any of the other classifieds packages out there, it still needs some minor surgery in the "searching area". I'm sure that after you try searching with it you will agree.
For example, here is the initial search box for Classifieds.
One would suspect that all the information on the horizontal search bar above is related to searching. It would be more intuative if they were clustered to the right instead of spread out across the entire width of the screen. That is something I want to redo.
Now for searching. Let's suppose I am looking for a "molly mule". Using Google's search style I would type in my search like this:
Typing both "molly" and "mule" is interpreted by searches such as Google to mean "search for entries that contain "molly" and "mule". I would then make sure that "Classifieds" is selected in the middle and click on the "Search" button to the right. The results are not at all what I would expect! They include all entries that have either "molly" or "mule" in them.
You can see that "molly mule" is only referenced in one of the three ads in the screenshot from the top of the results. At this point I will probably click on the "Advanced Search" link at the top right of the screen to see if I can gain additional enlightenment.
I am next presented with the following screen:
I see the little box with the "?" and assume that it must provide me with additional "help".
Clicking on it produces the following information:
OK. So now I know that I need to use a connector such as "and" or "or".
The reality is that "and" does not work properly either. Reprogramming the search functions so that they work as you would expect is currently my top priority. I will let you know as soon as it is fixed. On a good note -- the zip code search works!
And now for our daily photo:
One of the most beautiful sights is a well-coordinated team of mules. In the northwest they would hook them up 4 wide and 5 deep to pull large agricultural equipment. Here is a magnificent photo from Bishop Mule Days of the Wagons West 20 Mule Team put together by Ray Jensen.
July 10, 2004
The Great Celebration Mule and Donkey Show
For those of you on the east coast of the United States, I know this is a big weekend. A quick check of our new Longears Mall Calendar tells us why!
I know. I gave it away in the title, didn't I.
Today is the final day of The Great Celebration Mule and Donkey Show in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Even though I won't be able to be there, I would love to hear from you through comments here, or at email@example.com, about the highlights of the show. I would also be delighted to publish high quality digital pictures of general interest here from The Great Celebration Mule and Donkey Show that you have taken. Besides, I need more pictures from other shows to balance out all the pictures I have from Bishop Mule Days!
In the mean time, here is a photo of what I like to do -- spend time with my "longears". This is a photo of my little brother, Peter, on Sagebrush Lady Elvira.
July 09, 2004
What a difference!
Unless you have much better eyesight than me you have probably found this column difficult to read.
For this column I purchased a software package called Movable Type. It is produced by a really nice company called Six Apart, and is considered by many to be the most powerful and customizable weblog publishing system available today. There are also many third-party plugins that allow us to customize the web-publishing capability in just about any way that we want to.
Like all new software, we usually install it and then learn it "as we go", don't we. Kind of like the way we do with our "longears". That is the case here.
I (and probably you as well) had one significant problem with it though. The default, out-of-the-box, configuration is set to a very small type size with a grey color. The background, as you may remember, was a slate blue. At least the page itself was white!
I think that perhaps the Six Apart folks intentionally use a hard-to-read default page style to motivate buyers to learn it and customize it. The Movable Type software itself is feature-rich and a joy to use!
This week I decide that something had to be done, and so I spent some time "under the hood" figuring out how to change things so it would be more readable. I hope you like the results. For this column we now have a larger type size, black instead of grey type, and a Longears Mall background color instead of a slate grey. A quick fix. When I get time I want to work on a consistent color scheme across all of the applications here.
I really appreciate your comments here and your many emails to firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas and suggestions!
This page wouldn't be complete without a "longears" photo, would it? Here is a photo from Bishop Mule Days 2004 of English Pleasure mules waiting for their class to start.
July 08, 2004
That's a time we all look forward to, isn't it. And what comes to mind when we think of going on vacation? A calendar, of course! A Longears Calendar, to be specific.
One of the most requested features for the new Longears Mall has been a calendar. Thank you so much for your comments here, and many emails and suggestions to email@example.com!
We did quite a bit of research looking for a full-feature calendar that would support a checklist of important features. One of the most important is the ability to search by location.
After significant evaluation we selected a very nice product called BosDates Lite. My father, Gilbert, already has a lot of experience with its "big brother", BosDates, and we didn't need cascading public/private calendars and all those extra features that you would use in a large organization. BosDates Lite looked perfect to us.
Last night my dad installed it on LongearsMall.com. You will notice the new Calendar selection on the main menu bar.
We can also use the calendar Search function to search on a number of attributes.
When we click on Search we get this screen.
Over the next week we plan to add the many events that we have been receiving information about. If you have an event of general interest that you would like to have included, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to be sure to include it. The type of events to list here are shows, community-oriented activities, trail rides, clinics and related educational events.
An example of the type of information that I need is shown in this event listing for Hells Canyon Mule Days.
3. Time (if applicable)
6. Email address
7. Link (Internet address to a web page if you have one.)
8. Description of event
Well, that's enough for today. Have fun with your Longears!
July 07, 2004
Hells Canyon Mule Days
If you are going to be anywhere near Oregon on September 10-12, I know you will want to attend Hells Canyon Mule Days.
This is their 24th annual year. It is a fun family show and they have events and games for all ages and skill levels. You can find out more about Hells Canyon Mule Days at www.hellscanyonmuledays.com.
Here is their press release:
Pack ’Em UP and Head ’Em Out for Hells Canyon Mule Days 2004
The year 2004 marks the 24th annual Hells Canyon Mule Days celebration. Mule and donkey owners, and spectators intrigued by this long-eared equine, from all over the Northwest will be part of this fun family three day weekend with the action centered around the Wallowa County Fairgrounds in Enterprise on September 10 - 12.
The first Hells Canyon Mule Days was held in 1981 as the result of a meeting between local ranchers, packers and guides, and representatives of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce and USDA Forest Service to explore the idea of putting together a new County event.
Wallowa County was rich in the history of the inhospitable terrain of Hells Canyon, and that area owes most of its early settlement and development to the mule, who predominantly served as a major means of transportation during these early times. As a result of this meeting, the mule, tough, intelligent, sure-footed, and often misunderstood, but a mainstay of the many packers and outfitters working in Wallowa County, was elevated to center stage for the first Hells Canyon Mule Day celebration.
Annual Mule Show events include classes for every age group and skill level. This year’s program is highlighted with the GMAC Classic Jump Off Challenge, sponsored by Daggett & Associates GMAC Real Estate. The fast action events include pole bending, barrel racing, mule and donkey races and fast ass express.
Other events that are also crowd pleasers include packers scramble, wild cow milking, flapjack race, drive and ride, and mystery races. Professional Rodeo Announcer Lee Daggett will keep the show moving at a steady pace and keep the audience informed and entertained. It just wouldn’t be mule days without him!
In addition to the mule and donkey show, visitors can enjoy strolling the green and visiting with vendors, exhibitors and western artists. This years featured exhibitor is Tennessee Mule Artist Bonnie Shields from Sandpoint, Idaho. Bonnie is well known and her talents include drawing, painting and sculpture. Her work has appeared on select Leanin’Tree greeting cards, she designed the first Breyer model mule and is currently working on yet another. A longstanding member of the Cowboy Cartoonists Association, her wide variety of “mule art” can be viewed during her visit to Hells Canyon Mule Days, as well as on her website at www.BonnieShields.com.
Other exhibitors include displays of western tack and saddles, antiques and collectibles, metal art, fresh produce, silversmiths, leather goods, apple pressing, wool spinning, and the Hells Canyon Mule Days booth selling t-shirts, caps, buckles, spurs, and chances for the mule chip lottery. The Food Court will have many delicious items to please every appetite. The Hurricane Creek Grange menu will include a hearty breakfast and lunch, plus great home-made pies.
Just For Fun is the theme of this years Hells Canyon Mule Days Quilt Show held in the Cloverleaf Hall on the fairgrounds. There will be over one hundred quilts on display for the three day event. Ten vendors will represent quilt shops throughout the region and will be selling quilting related items. This year’s raffle quilt is The Blue Bird of Happiness and tickets may be purchased for $1.00 each or six for $5.00 at the show or at The Country Quilter on Main Street Enterprise.
Other events on Saturday not to be missed, include the non-motorized parade with this years Grand Marshal Bennie Banks leading the precession of riders, teams, pack-strings, and local horse clubs, and Past HCMD Grand Marshals will be riding in Julie Kooch’s wagon.
During the Jim Probert Pit B-B-Q dinner there will be entertainment of western music and cowboy poets. The mule, donkey and horse sale will be held Saturday evening in the show barn. This is a great fun event to attend even if you are not in the market for selling or buying a critter.
So, for three days of family fun, Pack ’Em Up and Head ’Em Out to Hells Canyon Mule Days in Enterprise, Oregon.
For more information please call Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-585-4121 or Sondra Lozier at 541-426-3271 or 541-263-0104 (Home #’s)
July 06, 2004
Updated Zip Code Search
In my July 2 article I briefly discussed the zip code search feature of Stores, Store Listings and Classifieds. This new capability allows you to locate others within a certain distance of the zip code that you specify. It also shows the distance. Cool!
Here is an example:
From the main menu select "Store, Store Listings and Classifieds". Next choose one of those entries, for example, "Stores". At the upper right of each listing screen you will see a link that says "Advanced Search". Click on that to bring up a detailed Search screen. For our example let's search using a zip code of "28753" and a range of 100 miles. Your search screen should look like this:
Click the Search button and you will see entries with zip codes within 100 miles of Marshall, NC, an absolutely lovely town on the French Broad River in western North Carolina. (My father grew up there. They use mules to farm the mountain slopes with hillside plows where it is to dangerous to use tractors. Besides that, mules are good to have to pull out tractors when they get stuck!)
Important Note! If you have a Store, Store Listing or Classified that you think should come up, but doesn't, email us at email@example.com and we will see if your zip code is entered. As soon as we activate the User Maintenance portion of this system you will be able to update your own profile and listing information.
And now (drum roll please) another picture from Bishop Mule Days. No, we don't get paid to advertise Bishop Mule Days, but we do really appreciate what they do for the longears community! We just had so much fun there, and have lots of picture to share with you.
Here is a picture from an event called "Coon Jumping".
July 05, 2004
I have been receiving many very good comments and suggestions. Many of them come via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each one is special to me. Comments can also be attached to the bottom of News and Articles such as this column.
Here is a good suggestion I just received.
“Thank you very much for this website. When we were first looking to put our mules on the net, we tossed around the idea of our own website. I came across your website a couple of years ago. It is exactly what we were looking for. We believe we have some
outstanding colts, and this website gives the customer a chance to compare. Your special features listed below will even make this a greater website. Have you had any thoughts on a chat board? You could charge a small fee for membership login to cover software expenses. I know this takes a lot of time and dedication, and we truly appreciate it!”
A “chat board” is a great idea! That way LongearsMall users can ask questions and others can answer. One really nice ability of chat boards, or forums, is that users can follow a topic and see all the past discussion on it. There are already some great LongEars lists available as well. Let me know in the comment section of this article, or via email, what you would like to see.
Your comments and emails are really important to me because they help me know what works and what needs to be fixed. Perhaps you just have a question. Those are important too.
Another good email I received is this one.
“Sounds interesting & like a workable plan. What site are you referring to having for awhile- for the classifieds? Initially I thought you were providing a venue to list many long ear sources, similar to a web ring. However, as I read further, it sounds like you are putting a site together that is more "ebay like" for which you pay to be on it. Please clarify.”
Initially LongearsMall.com began as a place where individuals could put classified ads. Like one recent writer, I too enjoyed relaxing and looking at all the great photos and ads. There were things that needed to be fixed though. Many of you may have noticed that by including many full-size photos on the same web page that the “download” time did not follow normally accepted practice. The download time would be especially noticeable if your ad was near the bottom of the page.
The manual maintenance factor was also a problem. I had to manually update each of your classifieds and there was no way for you to “close” an ad when a sale was made. You needed a way to enter and maintain your own ads. I needed that too, so I could spend my time on more productive things – like tending to my own “longears”.
As a result I research and purchased software to automate the process. More detail is provided in the July 2 update in this column. There are many great “longears” businesses as well. They need each of us as customers, and as longears owners, we need them.
Advertising costs for any successful business are not cheap. I thought to myself, “Certainly there is a way to customize the software I am getting so businesses and organizations providing products and services to the longears market can advertise much more cheaply and effectively.” Customizing commercially available software, such as what has been purchased for use here, is a lot of work, but I think you will agree that the result will be well worth it.
I plan to continue offering “classified ads” for free. A classified ad typically advertises an individual item and works well for longears owner’s personal needs.
Businesses typically have additional needs. They want to establish a “presence” and “permanence”. I felt that something more than a classified ad was needed to convey this message. Just like your local mall, they needed both unique “name brand” recognition, and the ability to be associated with particular categories of services or products. That is why I added the “Stores” and “Store Listings” sections. That is also why the User Maintenance section of the “Classifieds, Stores and Store Listings” is initially disabled. It requires a significant amount of custom software modification. I hope you will agree that the results will be worth it.
Classifieds ads will be free. Starting October 1 there will be a small flat-rate charge for Stores. They may be listed under as many Store Listing categories as they desire. Businesses will still be able to place free entries in the Classified Ads section for individual items or needs. They will just look kind of out of place, and really cheap, if they try to exclusively create their “store presence” there to avoid paying the modest fee for the Store capability.
It is my intention to offer a number of additional optional choices for Stores such as a personalized subdomain at LongearsMall.com like sbr.longearsmall.com for Sagebrush Ranch. This can be especially useful for longears businesses that currently don’t have their own Internet domain name, or a place to host a web page.
You will notice that non-profit organizations are included in Stores. It is my belief that since these non-profit organizations exist solely to serve the longears community instead of to generate a profit that I should return them the favor by providing them a place to advertise their service. For them the basic Store package would be free. They would still pay for optional additions such as Internet subdomain name and a web page at LongearsMall.com. Let me know via your comments here or your emails to email@example.com what you would like to see. This site exists to bring more attention to all the fun we are having with our longears!
Now I will show you a little of what I enjoy doing. Playing with my “longears”, of course! Here is a picture of my sister Karen and me getting ready to ride two of my donkeys at Bishop Mule Days.
Have a great day!
July 04, 2004
"Train up a child ...
in the way she should go and when she is old she will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
I told you that I would try to include lots of pictures of Bishop Mule Days, one of my favorite events of the year.
Some of the nicest people I've met are Bill and Gina Garrett of Stilwell, Oklahoma. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org. They are regulars at Bishop Mule Days. You can always recognize their big trailer in the area where the pens are to the east of the barns. They specialize in mammoth jackstock. Take my word for it. In Oklahoma they grow'em big. The Garrett's have some of the finest.
They have also done really amazing things with their six-year old granddaughter, Becca. She always gets the crowd cheering with her enthusiasm and determination. Here we have her and a proud Grandpa in the Donkey Pleasure Driving class. She is driving Arco Alma.
July 03, 2004
Where's Video Mike?
I thought this title would get your attention. There is a really neat guy that takes great video recordings at Bishop Mule Days. His name is "Video Mike" Kerson. He has done instructional videos with Jerry Tindell, Lesley Neuman and Crystal Ward.
Now to the fun part. At Bishop Mule Days on Sunday afternoon they do the Pack Scramble. That's an exciting event where they bring all the pack teams into the arena, take off all their tack and equipment, and turn the horses and mules loose together. A lot of the mules take this opportunity to roll in the nice dust of the arena.
A few additional incentives like a starter pistol help to get them going good. After a little bit it looks like a giant blender full of revolving mules. In this photo the announcer has just started the clock, and each of the pack teams is trying to find and pack their mules. Most of the longears are doing what is shown in the photo below.
Well, Mike was right in the middle doing his video thing. Look in the upper right. You will see two people standing in front of the Dodge sign. They are actually part of the way into the arena. Pack groups are all the way around the outside edge of the arena. The person on the right is Video Mike. His vision is limited to what he sees through his big video camera. The lady in the blue shirt to the left is his bodyguard. She is suppose to quickly pull him out of harms way if a mule is coming. So if you are looking for excitement, here it is. Ask Video Mike if you can apply for the job this next year.
July 02, 2004
On a roll ...
I can't wait to share with you a little bit about our fun trip to Bishop Mule Days a few weeks ago. At least it seems like it was just a few weeks ago, but first let me share with you some other exciting news.
Time to celebrate! I have all the classified ads moved over. All 201 of them. Now we can start focusing on making it easier for you to find what you are looking for.
I really appreciate all the good comments, encouragement and suggestions. I received a special email, special to me, which I would like to share with you.
"Why the change?
I liked the old layout and enjoyed reviewing all the different ads.
I bought a mammoth jenny through your classifieds."
I agree. There are a lot of things that I like about the old layout too. It was like a catalog full of pictures. Even though my sister, Karen, and I added the pictures and created the web pages we still enjoyed looking at all the attractive pictures that many of you sent in. And I don't want that enjoyment to go away. I just felt real bad though.
Many of you would send in ads and I would be delinquent getting them posted. I would try to devote part of a day each week to keeping them current. I knew that you were missing valuable sales opportunities by not getting them posted right away. I must admit that part of the problem is that I wanted to spend time with my longears, all 5 of them. You see, they needed my attention. And if I didn't give them enough they would "tell" me about it. They are donkeys, mammoth jackstock, and they know how to sing in harmony. Sometime I will have to include an audio file in this column for you to listen to.
Well, back to the email. I know that you needed a way to add your own classifieds. That way you can edit the text and make it say just what you want to. You can immediately tell all your friends about it. You don't have to pray that I am still in good health, and one day your ad will appear.
For some time I have been researching good computer software to do that. There are quite a few cheap packages out there. I wanted something that would be fun for each of us, something that would also have features like searching for all of a particular category within a 100-mile radius of your zip code. Something that could handle business listings, something that would be like a master directory and catalog all in one.
After a lot of searching and evaluation I located a enterprise-quality classified ads package to build the Longears Mall on. In my opinion the GeoClassifieds Enterprise Edition offers way more features than any of the other classifieds packages out there. By purchasing the optional zip code tables (12 Megabytes of zip codes!) and additional zip code search capability I can add that to your search capabilities. Check out the link above. Enterprise GeoClassifieds has a really impressive list of features! The vendor, Geodesic Solutions, is very responsive and a real joy to work with as well.
I wanted to include businesses and business listings as well. That has taken some code modification. A lot of the features of GeoClassifieds are turned off at the moment. There are also a number of things I want to customize such as the way searches occur, the way entries are displayed, giving it more of a "catalog" look like the old Longears Mall classifieds (which was all hand coded in Microsoft Front Page), paging so results are display by alphabetical letter instead of page 1,2,3 ... 46. All these changes just involve programming, however it is like an endless journey. And our goal is to have as much fun as possible along the way.
I am a professional Java web application developer by day. (My dad, Gilbert, is as well. Karen, my sister programs in Macromedia Flash and does web page graphics and design. If you need any help in that area she will be happy to help you with a quote.) Since we already know how to program in Java, it isn't too hard to program in php, the language GeoClassifieds and many other Internet applications are written in.
Over the next few months I hope you will see lots of improvements. I really appreciate your comments and suggestions, both here and through email to email@example.com. They help me to know what features are the most important to you so they get done first.
Now for some fun! Digital cameras are really neat. We can take lots and lots of pictures and we don't have to pay anything for film. Can you imagine what happens when a person with a digital camera goes to Bishop Mule Days? That's right. They come back with lots of pictures! We have loads of pictures, and they aren't any fun if they aren't shared, so I am going to try to include one in each article.
Today's picture is about a new style of riding that I know you can't wait to try with your longears. Just make sure that your life insurance policy is up-to-date first!
These are the Wagons West (Ray Jensen) Roman Riders. Ray Jensen is a Bishop Mule Days legend that I will have to share more with you about another time. What you have here are three riders, two men and a woman that are each standing on two mules. They stayed on top during the entire performance too. For those of you that only have one mule, as soon as the zip code feature of the LongearsMall classifieds is working right, maybe you can find a neighbor who will share their longears with you. You will probably want to make sure that they are both either mules or donkeys, or you may find yourself going around in circles!
Well, this is enough for one day. Until next time, may you and your longears have a happy weekend!
July 01, 2004
Thank you for all the positive comments and emails! I am having lots of fun, and am excited about where we can go with the Longears Mall.
For those of you that have classifieds placed with LongearsMall.com I appologize for not having them all transferred yet. It has been quite a bit of work to enter in all the entries that are there so far. This evening and Friday I am working on adding the rest of the 200+ classifieds. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel like things are not happening fast enough. I also like to get encouraging emails.
I'm sure that you will notice a number of "loose ends". I have a list of things that I plan to work on that are not immediately intuative. The software that I am using was designed to handle classified ads. I have put it on steroids and am customizing it to handle stores and store listings. (We don't want to leave them out, do we?) As you can imagine, there will be a significant amount of custom programming to be done. Keep the comments coming. They help me to stay focused!