Figuring out WordPress

The differences between a WordPress site hosted at and a WordPress site hosted somewhere else are significant. At, as in the case of this blog, you have limited options with which to format your text, but a less confusing interface in which to edit. At certain features are built in to your editor, whereas at a self-hosted site you need to add them through installing what are called Plugins. Let’s take an example.

The editor menu bar for my template or theme at is below. No ability to change text style or text size within a page. If I want a sans-serif font like Arial for my headings, and a serif-font like Times for my main text, well, I can’t do it. At least not with a text editor. If you know how to write code in the programming language called CSS, you can make individual changes within a page. But to my thinking, having to write code defeats the purpose and simplicity of WordPress.


The editor menu bar for my WordPress site at (external link) is pictured below. In this case I have supplemented the built in editor, which looks very similar to the above, with a free piece of software called TinyMCE Advanced (external link). This allows options like Font Sizes and Font Family to be activated. Installing a Plugin is very simple. A built in search engine on your WordPress site allows you to pick which plugin you want. There are thousands, all to do different jobs. An “Install” button appears when you’ve made a selection and within a minute of clicking your site has a new feature. Not all plugins are compatible with all themes.


As with everything on the web, things can break down in a hurry. Yesterday I battled with a problem at (site discontinued) that appears to be related to a  plugin. The solution was a combination of things, some of them old techniques.

Try as I might, I could not change photograph captions from italics to straight text. While trying to correct this I managed to wipe out the navigation bar at the top of every page. Eventually I had JustHost restore my site with a backup they had made a few days ago. Then I deleted the offending plug-in, cleared the cache on my browser, then reinstalled the plug in. Everything works now. What’s next? More learning. I’ve yet to figure out how to integrate background images to my pages. I’ll report back here if I accomplish that.

Update! I figured out the background image problem. Nothing in my Creativo 4.0 template (external link) had any language saying that selecting a background image would be a problem. Quite the contrary. Doesn’t this selection bar seem easy and hopeful?


But no matter how I tried, no matter what images I selected, nothing would work. I even tried going away from the individual page and working on the problem from an overall theme perspective, whereby the background image would be displayed across all the pages at my site. No luck. It was only until I went to the developer’s website that I discovered this wording:

“Custom Background Image – this option allows you to upload / select an image for the background of the post page – this will only work for Boxed Layout”

Boxed layout?! Turns out that you have to select that option, buried elsewhere, before a background image will work. Nothing in the above selection bar gave a hint that making this choice was needed. Sigh. This is why I say that creating a website is not just about writing. At least half of your time will be spent in formatting, adding photographs, making illustrations, producing videos, and chasing across the web for solutions for adding same. Even with a simple blog, a website is not a novel, it is a complicated multi-media presentation.


Experiment with YouTube video and WordPress

I’ve managed to embed a YouTube video into my WordPress website at (site discontinued). Well, let’s see if it works here, where is doing the hosting. Hmm. I just did a preview. Maybe it will work.

For those that want to watch the video, it starts off very slowly. I’ll correct that with the next one. And for some reason, YouTube’s stabilization process made my video more stable, but my titles more shaky. Sheesh. Much to learn.

(Link discontinued)


A change of plans for the new website

I’m building out the new website more than I originally planned. It’s a good change; I am keeping busy by writing and working with images, principally in Photoshop. I’ve done quite a bit of patent searching for motorcycle illustrations, ten of which I have reworked and posted for people to use. After a month of adding content I’ll try seeking a sponsor. (September 30, 2015. Update: Site discontinued, no demand)

Reworked patent illustration

A new motorcycle website

Update – 2016: Nothing came of the new website. No interest, no responses to my queries to potential sponsors. Took the website down.

I’m building a new website with the hope of attracting a sponsor and for sharing my enthusiasm for my latest hobby. In the last two months I’ve learned to ride a motorcycle and I absolutely love it. Well, love mixed in with moments of anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration. Hmm, that is love, isn’t it? I’ve secured the domain (site discontinued) and I will be building the site there.

My initial thought is to pen ten essays on different topics. Things like taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, buying one’s first motorcycle, clothing and accessories, dealing with the weather, and so on. All subjects squarely focused on the beginning rider. In addition, I’d have some original photography as well as a video or two. My ideal sponsor would be Cycle Gear (external link), a nationwide accessory retailer. But I will have to work very hard to impress them.

The initial articles would all be samples. Only five hundred words or so, just to show a sponsor I can write. Instead of posting one article at a time, like with a blog, I think I will post all ten articles at once, inside a conventional website. One possible article is below, something on my first ride two months ago.

First ride

I was so worried about my upcoming Motorcycle Safety Foundation course (external link) that I found a guy on Craigslist who gave motorcycle coaching by the hour. I’ll call him Pirate Rick. I wanted some practice with a motorcycle clutch before the group lesson. Although I had years of using manual transmissions in cars and trucks I had never been on a motorcycle before. I knew the experience would be very different and it was.

Using a manual transmission in a car means doing three things at once. So it is, too, with a motorcycle. Let’s consider starting. Simultaneously, you shift into gear while depressing a clutch while pressing the accelerator. Let’s break that down.

In a car you engage the clutch with your left foot pedal. With a motorcycle, by comparison, you work the clutch with a hand lever. With a car’s manual transmission you shift with your hand. With a motorcycle you shift with your foot. To get a car moving you press the accelerator pedal with your right foot. With a motorcycle you twist a rotating handgrip on the handlebar. Got it? Somewhat? Same results in all three cases, but done in three different ways.

Shifting shouldn’t be overwhelming. If you get flustered remember it’s because there are many things going on all at once. It’s not your fault if you learn slowly; it’s a process to repeat over and over. Motorcycling is a skill. It takes practice to become proficient. And that challenge is partly why the sport is so engaging. But back to Pirate Rick.

On a sweltering Tuesday in May in north Sacramento, I met Pirate Rick at his suburban home. A few cars whizzed by now and then on the city street, too many for my nervous condition. Rick introduced me to his Honda Rebel, which he used for instruction as well as for renting out to people for their DMV exam.

I was ready to ride, or so I thought: I had helmet, gloves, boots, and jeans. “Do you have a learner’s permit?” Rick asked. Oops. Didn’t think about that. I was not legal to ride on a public road. I had assumed we would go to a private parking lot or somewhere else that was low-key and anonymous. Actually, I hadn’t even thought about where we’d ride. I was just hoping it was somewhere with some shade. Rick surveyed his street. He said, “I think will be okay here.” And so I began my first ride . . .

Motorcycle shift pedal.
Motorcycle shift pedal on the left. Foot rest in the center.


My next blog post may not be for another week or two. I’ll be busy writing articles and putting the framework of the website together.

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