Friday, December 30, 2005

U.B. Formattin'... well, re-formattin'

Ok, now we're moving into troubleshooting a particular issue that occurs in Blogger if you're not a little careful... column-misalignment.

Btw, you FIREFOX users may even be oblivious to this issue, until you start wondering why your hit-counts are down.

[Note: The problem itself is not caused by FireFox, but if you're using FireFox you're probably oblivious to the fact that you have an issue at all. Btw, you COULD get the IE Tab at and install it -- then you'll be able to add any particular site to a list of site that you want to see with an MSIE type of look/feel.]

Your blog may look fine to you; but your MS Internet Explorer (MSIE) surfers think it really sucks... because here's what they're seeing....

And of course, our objective today is to help you reformat something to cure the misalignment problem so it will again look like THIS... with perfectly aligned columns... side by side...

The basic problem is a column WIDTH issue. Your two columns are battling for turf. If either column is too 'wide', then they just can't seem to live side-by-side in peace. [Guys, is there a spiritual lesson here for us in our marriages? **wink**] So the objective is to discover what has 'swelled', and how do I get it to (humbly, LOL) return to the proper width.

Ok... the problematic column could be EITHER column.

How to troubleshoot it:

When did the problem surface?

If you use MSIE all the time, and one day you post something and the problem suddenly surfaces... well then, duh.... the problem was probably caused by that particular post.

Or if you just now changed something in your navigation side-bar and you suddenly experienced this formatting issue... duh... the problem is probably in your side-bar column.

[Ah... but if you're regularly a FireFox user... then of course you don't really know WHEN the problem first occurred, so you're going to have to do some further investigating. I'll describe that process further below.]

The basic 'width' problem is probably caused by one or more of the following:

How to cure these? Guess it's obvious. Use the 'Archie Bunker' cure:

"Dat's elementary dere, Meathead. Don't do dat anymore!"

[Now for those of you who may be new to 'resizing' your pics... that cure may have been just a little tiny bit overly-simplistic. So I've included the pic below, giving you a hint how to resize your pic. It'll just take a little time and patience, getting used to click-dragging the corner-handle of the pic. Btw, that 'handle' only appears after you click on the image itself, first. Then when you hover over a corner, the little 'handle' will appear. Click-drag it to any size... larger or smaller.

Hope that helped.

Now... back to the issue of trouble-shooting when you don't KNOW what or when your problem was caused. Here's my process of finding out.

  • Intuition -- Just look down your page... especially the sidebar first. Do you have any images that automatically jump out at you that maybe they're wider than normal? If you find that the problem was in the sidebar, you're pretty much home-free... just cure it.

Note: Again, for you folks that are new to picture resizing, that's not quite so easy in the sidebar, because now you'll have to resize it using the html-code itself. Not a huge problem... The image-tag you used to put the picture into the template-code just needs to now have some 'height' and 'width' elements added within it. For now, let's just say that's a trial & error process -- play with those dimensions til you have them the size you want. Example coding...

  • Ok, now lastly... if you believe the problem is in one or more of the individual posts but you don't know which one... you may have to now just start looking at each post INDIVIDUALLY... not all together. How to do that? Remember, each post really has its own individual web-page... complete with its own permalink/URL/address. Ahhh... but how do you find out what that page-address is? Here's one example of how that's known... at least in the Blogger-template that I've chosen here at U.B.bloggin'...

Click that little link... and it'll take you to that post's individual webpage address.

Ok, so now you know what you have to do... just go down through your blog and click each post's little permalink, one-by-one... and see if the individual page looks ok. Are the column's in alignment?

If so, that's not the offending post. Go check the next one.

And keep checking the individual posts, one-by-one, until you find the offending culprit post.

Then cure the problem within the post, as we've discussed above.

And if all else fails... and you're about to get entirely frustrated with looking for the problem... or curing it... call me...

I'll pray for you. LOL

[and help you.... 317-490-1255]


Actually, for you geeks out there, here's a geek-speak version that truly goes into the details of the issue above. And it explains some technical workarounds not mentioned above. Hope it helps some of you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Internet creates local political movements

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Frustrated by government and empowered by technology, Americans are filling needs and fighting causes through grass-roots organizations they built themselves — some sophisticated, others quaintly ad hoc. This is the era of people-driven politics.

From a homemaker-turned-kingmaker in Pittsburgh to dog owners in New York to a "gym rat" here in southwest Florida, people are using the Internet to do what politicians can't — or won't — do.

This is their story, but it's also an American story because ordinary folks are doing the extraordinary to find people with similar interests, organize them and create causes and connections.

"People are just beginning to realize how much power they have," said Chris Kofinis, a Democratic consultant who specializes in grass-roots organizing via the Internet.

"At a time when we are craving community and meaning in our lives, people are using these technologies to find others with the same..." [continued at]

[hat-tip, Andrew Sears,]

Sunday, December 11, 2005

U.B. Connectin'...

Here's an emailed question from Linda, a participant in our "City Blogging" workshop at the recent CCDA Indy 2005 conference:

"Hi, Neil. The workshop at the CCDA conference was sooooo motivational. I came home and started (after catching up on work I'd missed while gone) blogging! I suppose I'll get more and more ideas as I visit others' blogs, but in my eagerness to "strike while the iron's hot" I went ahead and got started. I figured I could learn "in process". I have been having a lot of fun playing with my new blogs the past couple of weeks, but haven't been able to find the "help" topic for how to add my contact info on the sidebar. Can you direct me? Thanks for your help. I so enjoyed meeting you."

[The credit truly should go to Jeremy Del Rio & Rudy Carrasco. I'm honored to be able to work with them. Now, about your question... ]

Hmmm. How to get your contact info in the sidebar, huh? Excellent idea -- especially since a major purpose for 'city blogging' is to connect the Church of Jesus Christ, community by community.

There are a couple of roads we could take to get your contact info into your blog. Here's an easy one. I'll use our friend Jewel Graham's blog as an excellent example:

Jewel is using the standard Blogger convention of letting you click on her pic, and it'll take you to her bio/contact page... which will show her email address that she filled into her 'profile' at Try it -- click here first to go to Jewel's Gems, and then click on her picture there. La Voila!



What if you have two or three different blogs that you participate in, and you really want a different look/feel for each? That is, what if your one 'profile' doesn't really work well for all of them? Case in point, I participate in a million different blogs, so I disable my profile section of the template-code. Instead, I easily code my contact info into a blog directly... eg.., as shown below.

How? By playing in the template-code. Btw, here's a little primer I call "Mercy, U.B. Codin'." Funny part is, it's not all that tough. You don't need to know how to code... to code. LOL. All of us can do it.

Bottom line, you just need to get something like this inserted into your template-code:

LOL. Of course I'm just kidding about the 'Hey Ma' tag <> in the above code, but it is a clue as to how you can add an exclamation point (!) in front of any tag <> which will effectively disable the tag and instead treat it as just an explanation tag within the coding. Real programmers often insert such comment-tags to help mark important sections, etc.

Ok, can you guess how the mail-link tag work, and insert your own email address? Hope so. If not, check out the primer mentioned above, and if you still have questions, email me. We're anxious to empower as many Christian bloggers as we possibly can.

Btw, now that you know how to disable a tag by inserting an exclamation point (!) in the front part of the tag, I guess you know how to disable the 'profile' portion of your template-code. [Just insert an exclamation mark in the right spot.]

The only trick is... finding the right section in the code. And my favorite way to 'find' stuff among all the coding is to use the Windows 'CNTL-F' feature to 'find' any particular text within a long page of text... eg., the word 'profile' or 'contributor'. Then insert a well-placed exclamation point into one or more tags that would have otherwise displayed your profile.

Here's how I did it...

Like I said, you don't have to know how to code... to code. **smile**

Merry Blogging!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Grassroots Growth"...

I thought I'd blog a few notes (LIVE!) from a presentation at the Unleavened Bread Cafe by a set of Butler students in an honors course called "Grassroots Growth".

Prof. Allison King, MSW

[Thanks Rachel (Bell) for the pics today!]

These students have studied in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood as a case-study for their course which was designed to focus on the 'grassroots growth' which can (and does) occur by the indigenous neighbors themselves.

This was a first-ever type of class, constructed by Ms. King with help from our friend-of-the-cafe, Dave Metzger.

Today they're presenting their findings and have invited the neighborhood, and a reception buffett was served.

Throughout their presentations, they frequently mentioned a number of neighborhood favorites such as Ms. Elease, David Metger, Jab, Cocoa, Eric, Bennie, Oscar, Gail, David Woodrupp.... as 'all these wonderful people'.

One presenting team focused on learning from the neighborhood... and then proposed a one solution they could help with -- writing a grant proposal summary to form a "Family Circle" in the neighborhood.

  • They quoted from the Central Indiana Community Foundation, who apparently noted a really strong bond among the residents, but just need empowered. The foundation has in neighborhoods given grants to 'Family Circles'. The objectives are to build and strengthen relationships, knowledge, numbers, and small scale actions that have large scale impact. They facilitate neighborhood discussions, and encourage people who step up and commit to lead in a particular action.
  • These students also are procuring the help of the CCC -- Center for Citizenship and Community -- an organization lead by Dr. Brabant at Butler. One way the organization can help is by proofing any grant proposals... and help them out with this upcoming request.

Comments heard throughout these presentations...

"I was surprised by the course -- I thought we wouldn't even leave Jordan Hall, but just research data, etc. So what a surprise when I learned we'd actually be GOING to the inner-city neighborhood."

Another team developed a newsletter type of summary about the Unleavened Bread Cafe, their temporary headquarters during their course of study.

They would publish and leave this summary for the cafe visitors to read and enjoy, filled with stories & poems written about their recent experiences. [We can hope to secure a copy for download here.]

Other comments heard during the presentations...

"I discovered I liked going to Tab rather than churches on campus. After church, we walked to the cafe & back... and wrote a poem about it.

"I learned more in 5 hours on a Saturday in the community, than a whole semester at school."

" 'Shoes hanging on the line', I learned, meant there was a death in the neighborhood. I was struggling with some of my own family situations, and it greatly helped me deal with my issues by understanding some of the heartaches in the neighborhood. So I wrote my story about that."

"It was great to learn first-hand from neighbors instead of simply accepting the stereotypes. "

"My team spent 'A Day with Larry'. It was amazing what could be learned from just shadowing a neighborhood resident."

Another team visited Rebuilding the Wall. "We liked it so much we voluntarily went back several times to help rebuild houses with them. The most rewarding thing was getting to know neighborhood people who would become the beneficiaries of these houses. We played some 2-on-2 basketball with some of the younger ones."

"It was fun getting outside the 'Butler bubble'... that is, getting off-campus and learning via service-learning."

"Grassroots involvement really does make things happen -- eg. Rebuilding The Wall really does make things better. Lives change."

And how about this from Andy & Ryan... politically left, and politically right.

"The course isn't particularly political, but it's helped us grow -- sometimes as a result of heated political discussions back in the dorm. It needed to happen -- without it, nothing could start for us... and now we're moving in the same direction... community impact. "

Another student presented from a pharmaceutical perspective... having visted Raphael Health Center, not only as an onlooking student, but also while assisting someone who didn't have health insurance.

She was amazed that so few had insurance, and concluded that one thing that Butler students could do is help staff a pharmacy-function like 'Healthy Horizons' at Butler. Low cost meds aimed at preventative care.

'Gentrification', although not mentioned by name, was alluded to as one team interviewed the local laundrymat owner-operator. "It takes 'mom & pop' stores out of the inner-city, and is replaced by corporations."

Several students mentioned trips to 'Tab' -- the fond name for the nearby Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. The students observed their soup kitchen, utility assistance, and youth sports programs.

"Tab helped start Raphael Health Center and lots of other things here in the community. They're a Christian family, full-service center. A supervisor there told us, 'I want people to feel like kings and queens when they walk in here.' "

"Coburn Place -- domestic violence center, and transition housing for women. It used to be an IPS school, and now is back in productive service to the community. "

"Everyone mentioned the need for 'funding'... but somehow they always manage to accomplish what needs to be done."

Students Rachel & Emily... spent "A Morning Walk with Jab". [LOL. Everyone in the neighborhood knows our friend 'Jab'.] And they talked about spending time with 'Eric'... who was doing bible-study at the cafe. "We learned a lot from him."

Emily had been to South Africa and wanted to make sure she never forgot what she experienced there -- so she welcomed this opportunity to get out into the inner-city of Indianapolis, thinking it would be comparatively tame. "Maybe I should have a been a little more cautious at times [laughter], but largely I really enjoyed my time here on the streets."

Rachel & Emily drafted a short-plan consisting of... Vision & Goals, Resources & Possible Partners, Current Situation Summary, and Steps to Goal. [I wish we could reproduce it here - it was excellent work by these young college students.]

"This cafe has been a beacon to the community."

"We never expected to be so touched by our experience here."

"We felt the cafe was a really important source of hope & comfort for the community."

"Besides the cafe, we also visited Christamore House, Bethlehem House, Tab (Tabernacle Presbyterian Church), and we helped serve food at Wheeler Mission. "

"I loved getting hugs from Ms. Elease, and learning from her spirituality."

"David [Metzger's] only complaint about the cafe is that it's only open 5 days a week." [laughter] "With David here, it feels like... well... like 'Mr. Roger's Neighborhood' [laughter]. Then when we met the cafe cook, 'Oscar' [more laughter -- everybody loves Oscar] so maybe it was also like Sesame Street!

[Brianna wrote a story about Ms. Elease -- we'll hope to get a copy.]

As a project, her team created a table... [applause] Really! They purchased a restaurant table they would leave at the cafe for posterity, and they painted it decoratively with elements about what they learned from the cafe.

  • Purple... the color of spirituality
  • With some quotes, like 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.' (Gandhi)
  • Butterflies... as a symbol of transformation.
  • In the center of it... the CROSS... because that's the center of the cafe, and Ms. Elease's spirituality and sense of love.

"The future? This course has caused us to look at life through a different set of lenses -- we are changed. Our lives will never be the same. There should be more places like the Unleavend Bread Cafe."

"We've been introduced to new issues. We've formed new opinions. We've debated back & forth. Seen problems. And hoped for solutions."

After the presentation a neighbor, 'Bennie' commented: "Ms. Elease tries to bring America together. I take my hat off to you."

Ms. Elease: "From the outset of the cafe, I never dreamed of such things as today's project from these Butler students."

Another neighbor, Gerald, who attends church in this same backroom each week: "The question asked is... Am I my brother's keeper. And the answer is... Yes you are. You now have a testimony to help somebody else."

All these student-teams reflected great processing of their experiences. Kudos! And kudos to Ms. King and David Metzger who designed such an insightful learning experience.

It did not escape my notice that perhaps the primary 'grassroots growth' was the growth occurring in these young students who would make a difference in the world tomorrow.

So I side with Bennie... My hat's off to you, Ms. Elease.

And my hat's off to you as well, Ms. King.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A day at the cafe...

The cafe was hopping, Saturday. A job-wage group was meeting in the back room. So several of us just used the front part of the cafe for "Surfing Saturday" -- a regular time each week that the neighborhood can count on opportunities to learn a few computer skills, or how to get onto the internet. [But don't tell anyone -- the biggest value for any of us is meeting new friends... often NOT like ourselves. It takes us all outside the box a bit.]

We say, "It's not WHAT you know -- it's WHO you know, that counts. That is, with technology, there's way too much to know... so it's more important to know who your friends are that can and are willing to try to help." Thus the cafe is a great place to come to get to know folks who want to get to know folks. **smile** So a good time was had by everyone.

This morning, an old/new friend -- Bryan Rohrer came with me (from Hamilton County) to help. We joined Gerald, Damita, and Mike -- none of us are real techs (well, maybe Bryan), but we can share what we know how to do, to help friends there cross the 'digital divide'. Even though we didn't have access to the computers in the back room, we had 3 wireless laptops to work with. And a number of neighborhood folks stopped in and got involved.

And it was a productive day: We had a chance to help a ministry leader post an online item about an event he's involved in. And we helped a couple of new friends from Jesus House get started learning a few computer skills, and how to find things on the internet. Things maybe you & I take for granted, but things that keep them from being able to get a decent job. These guys represent the transformed life... lives changed by Jesus Christ. Can you think of anyone you'd rather help?

And as usual, it was also a great time to catch up with some neighborhood friends of the cafe like Russell, Eric, David, Mary, Chaus, Claudia, Peggy, Oscar, Marie, and of course... Ms. Elease, "Mother of the Hood". And again this week, there were a number of Butler students who are in the neighborhood working on a case study.

Btw, come by the cafe at 3pm on Tuesday for the presentation to their class regarding what they learned during their case-study. [For instance, one of the students became an active volunteer during CCDA conference as a result of the friendships she developed at the cafe.] So it should be interesting to hear their feedback.

If I could do one thing to help every inner-city neighborhood in the country, it would be to help establish warm, welcoming & wireless, Christ-like cafe ministries everywhere... and encourage Christians to get involved there.

See you all next Saturday, or any/every Saturday at 10:00 am.... ish. LOL.