The Story of Hosting Woes: A Cautionary Tale.

So two weeks ago was…stressful.

It wasn’t planned to be, insomuch as one ever plans a stressful week.

It all started at the end of June, when my blog / Picture Birmingham’s hosting company, HostGator, billed me for my annual renewal. I’d managed to talk them down last year to 40% of the list price, so it wasn’t so bad. But this year, it was back to the old rate.

Okay I better back up – actually this story starts in 2012.

Remember way back when … when I was known for my butt? Those blue jean posts went viral, and I was getting a crazy amount of hits on my blog, and it was crashing the regular ole’ server. In a blinding panic, I agreed to move my blog to a dedicated server, raising my hosting cost from $20 a month to $174 a month. It was fine, because I was getting so many hits that the increased ad revenue more than paid for that ridiculous bill. And after all, I was doing a butt service for the nation.

But after about three years of up-and-down viral traffic, mainly from that series of posts, people have realized that my information is outdated and have quit coming.

Or maybe everyone is tired of looking at my butt.


(For the record, I hope to do an updated denim post nearer to the fall, but we’ll see if I actually make it happen. They’re a lot of work. And I’ll need to find some volunteer butts.)

Anyway. So I don’t need that giant server anymore. I’m just a normal old blog, and the community of blogging is dying anyway, so I certainly didn’t need that powerhouse of a machine. And I certainly certainly didn’t want to pay my annual bill of over $2,000 to keep it going.

So I did what any normal person would do. I called my hosting company. I explained my situation. They agreed I didn’t need that much power. I asked them what solution would *best* fit my needs. After all, they have more data about me than I do, and they know more things about RAM and processing speed than I ever will – who better to tell me what I need? I figured they’d err on the side of too big, but hey – anything less than $174 a month would surely be a win, right?

Well. I talked to some delightful young man who recommended to me the “Snappy 1000” plan. For only $20 a month, this plan could CERTAINLY handle my website load!

Are you sure, young man?

Of course, ma’am! For sure. This site will take care of all your needs. Without a doubt.

So I agreed.

Sell me this Snappy 1000, young man.

I purchased the new VPS plan and requested that my hosting company move my crap from dedicated to VPS, then after ensuring* everything transferred and was working correctly, I asked them to kill my dedicated server and please refund me my $2,000.

* I did not ensure this very well. This was my mistake.

The very next morning, my blog began crashing.

People began getting an ugly errors the minute they tried to access either of my sites, and if a site did come up, it was soooooo sssssslllllloooooowwwwww.

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Gnashing of teeth.

But I’ve been here before. Server problems can usually be rectified fairly quickly, especially if I offer to pay more.

I contacted my hosts.

Help! I need my sites to work! They’re not!

Hm. We can’t replicate the errors. They seem fine to us.

No seriously! Please! Let me pay you more! Just make my sites work!

Well. Hm. We will need to escalate this to another technician.

Two days went by. My sites were still crashing. HostGator didn’t seem to want to fix it or take my money.

So I finally picked up my phone and put it against my ear, willing myself to use that awful green call button.


Hi. How can I help you?

I tell my whole story.

Tech #1: Hm. I don’t see anything wrong. Let me transfer you to the escalation department.


I tell my whole story.

Tech #2: Oh yes. I see how your sites are running terribly slow. We need to fix this for you. Let me escalate you to level 3.

Wait for Tech #2 to write a Tolstoy volume of notes, then Hold.

I tell my whole story.

Tech #3: Hm. I don’t see anything at all wrong with your sites. They seem fast enough to me.

Well they’re not. Tech #2 agreed with me. Please help. I’ll pay more. I’ll do whatever. Just get my sites working.

Okay. Let me put you on hold and see what I can do.




….At the point at which I was one hour and fifty-two minutes into this phone call (I know. Soul-Crushing.) and still on hold, Tech #3 just flat-out hung up on me.

Or, rather, sent me into the pre-hangup customer survey.

I gave a long explanation on the customer survey about how I’d just flushed one hour and fifty-two minutes of my precious life down the HostGator drain just to get hung up on.

I complained to Twitter.

I opened a ticket.

I did everything I could short of making another phone call.

It was also around this time that I realized two of my posts, a whole bunch of comments, and some pictures had gotten lost in the transfer.

I’ll let you imagine how helpful Hostgator was in getting back my data.

Finally, On Day #5, at least I got a response from an honest tech. A response that made me want to cut my fingernails out with a dull butterknife.

VPS’s are typically used for developing and not hosting full-fledged websites. Downgrading from a Dedicated Server to a VPS is going to be a considerable difference, and I apologize that this was not explained to you.

<whimper> <squeal>

So yeah.

Whoever that delightful young man was in the beginning that sold me a Snappy 1000 and promised it was exactly what I needed – he is out of my Last Will and Testament.

During that week, I had a Picture Birmingham client who was trying to buy digital photos for a client of theirs. Each time he tried to access my site and it failed, he told me, “I can help you with this. It’s what I do.”

And each time I was all like,

“I have it under control. I am working through it with my host now.”

By Saturday, I took him up on his offer.

“Please. Fix me. Get me off of HostGator. It’s what you do.”

And he did. Beautifully, cleanly, and with an extremely unexpectedly nonexistent amount of pain. And now, to my knowledge, my sites are……working. Pretty perfectly. And I have the added benefit of a local company to take care of me and keep me from future woes. (Adopt-A-Press, if you need a guy.)

But despite a week of pain and Hostgator’s best efforts to make me say “Goodbye, cruel internet”, I didn’t give up. I came close, but I didn’t leave the web forever.

Only because of my love for you.

Eight Years in a Nutshell or Two.

This month is my blog’s eight year old birthday.

I don’t usually even think about my blogging anniversary, let alone mention it, because it happens every year. So what.

But this year I’ve been pondering it more – I think possibly because this past year is the first time I’ve ever seriously thought about quitting – and more than once, too.

(I’m not quitting. At least right now. But I’ve never even considered it as an option until this past summer. But all the whys and why nots of why I’ve thought about quitting are another post in and of itself, if the meanderings of my mind hold anyone’s interest.)

Anyway. I’ve been thinking about it in terms of “What exactly have I been doing for the last eight years?And why? And what have been the highlights? And the lowlights? And why should I continue for another eight years? Or why should I quit now before my show has gone on for three seasons too long?”

I thought some of you might like a peek into what this thought process looks like.

But first, a giant, huge, crucial disclaimer: I am going to share some of my stats and stuff – stuff I never normally share. I share this only because I’ve had lots of readers that were very curious. I am not sharing it for comparison’s sake or any other weird awkward purpose. Only because I think some of you may find it interesting. For those who may find it obnoxious, please feel free to skip – I intend absolutely zero obnox with this post and would be sad to hear that obnox was taken from it.

So there. I feel better.

Let’s talk some blogging by the numbers.

In eight years, I have…

– Published 2,092 posts.
– Deleted 2 of those published posts. (One of them I deleted years after it was published, and the other hours after it was published.)
– Met at least 6 out-of-state blog readers, and dozens of local blog readers.
Driven out of state to meet 2 out-of-state blog readers.
– Had one international blog reader come stay at my house for 4 days.
– Filed 2 police reports regarding sketchy internet behavior (one I blogged about, the other I cannot blog about. Which is really too bad because it’d be a good post.)
– Wondered how I offended at least 20 former readers who disappeared suddenly and mysteriously.
– Have embarrassed my mother with my inappropriateness at least 38 times.
– Have had 6 readers go back and read all 2,092 posts. Those are my favorite readers of all time. And they’re a little crazy.
– Have been visited by 228 countries. I am most popular here:

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And least popular here:

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(I don’t blame you for not liking me, Niue. I’ve never even heard of you. Are you sure you’re a real place?)

(Okay I just Wikipedia’ed Niue and it is an island country 1,500 miles from New Zealand with a population of 1,190. So one visit from Niue is an honor! Welcome, Queen of Niue!)

In eight years, these were my blog’s visitors…

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So yeah. 2012 was the year my butt went viral, and it increased my traffic by ten times. That was also the year that I tearfully had to give up reading all of my reader’s blogs (something I had been loyally committed to for four years) because I starting having to use that time to answer butt comments, butt texts, butt emails, and butt Facebook messages.

(I’ve since quit answering butt questions, for the most part, but oddly enough, that time never came back.)

Of my 2,092 posts, here were the most popular by the numbers:

1. An Inconvenient Gap of Truth, July 2012 – 4,824,746 hits. That’s right – 48% of all the visits my blog has ever seen were to one post. And oddly enough it still accounts for 44% of my hits – even though the information in the post is, as many people have kindly (or not so kindly) pointed out, quite outdated.

2. On the Proper Fitting of Jeans, February 2012 – 593,712 hits.

3. Mom Jeans and the Dreaded “Long Butt”, March 2009 – 490,447 hits. This was the original jeans post – the mother from which all the others were birthed. And I was wearing some seriously awful shoes and socks in that post.

4. Jeans for Most of America, October 2012 – 404,862 hits.

5. Geography, Pre-K Style, July 2009 – 253,822 hits. FINALLY A POST WITHOUT BUTTS. This video still makes me smile to watch. (And for the record, Noah did not follow in his sister’s Geography Prodigy footsteps.)

6. Downton Abbey MBTI Chart, November 2013 – 225,607 hits. Of all the Downton Abbey Graphics I did, this other one was my favorite. But apparently not the people’s favorite.

7. New Studies Prove that Replacing Mom Jeans Can Result in Surgery-Free Liposuction, March 2009 – 130,228 hits. (Winning the longest blog post title in the history of the world…) My Mom was my beloved model for this post, and it freaks her out that her butt has been pinned 900 times. It did not help at all when I told her that my butt had been pinned 380,000 times. I’m pretty sure she’ll never join Pinterest for fear of unexpectedly coming across her own butt.

8. Yes Virginia, There is a Miniature Giraffe, March 2011 – 122,170 hits. This post is interesting because it’s not a post that people have shared, it’s a post that people have found via Google searches. Every now and then I’ll blog about something that many people are searching for and no one else is writing about, and because of that, it will be a popular post. Other examples of this are sippy cup mold, tonsillectomy recovery, the Dilemna Dilemma, and whether or not Harry Connick Jr. has had plastic surgery.

9. The Read-Aloud Challenge, May 2012 – 99,023 hits.

10. 35 Things to Do in Birmingham, June 2014 – 91,023 hits.

There’s definitely a trend in the top 10 posts – all of them (with the possible exclusion of the Downton Abbey post) contained somewhat helpful information, which is the type of thing that people like to share on the internet. 99% of my posts are not in the least bit helpful, but they’re significantly more fun for me to write than the helpful ones. As such, my favorite posts are none of the above. They’re the ones where I was able to write creatively about an experience or thought, or was able to turn my own personal crisis into a moment for laughter.

Fifteen of my favorite posts, not in any order, are:

(I put their hit numbers on, too, so you could experience the stark contrast of the unpopularity of unhelpful creative writing on the internet.)

How a Turd in the Tub Saved my Saturday Night, November 2012 – 2,933 hits
Social Media Policy for Labor and Birth, November 2010 – 1,566 hits
Parenthood 2.0, May 2012 – 968 hits
Have a Happy Vasectomy, September 2011 – 11,475 hits
Dr. Pepper TEN: An Investigative Report, October 2011 – 4,527 hits
How it Feels to Be Hated By a Celebrity, June 2012 – 3,844 hits
The Chuck, November 2011 – 883 hits
Innerspace: The Story of my Colonoscopy, January 2014 – 1,822 hits
How to Use Essential Oils: A Step-By-Step Guide, July 2014 – 12,130 hits (and its horribly inappropriate sequel, One Oil to Rule Them All, February 2015 – 1,253 hits)
Pinterexia Nervosa: A Diagnostic Guide, June 2013 – 1,993 hits
On My Whirlwind Relationship with a Spammer, September 2014 – 968 hits
When My Friends Told Their Marriage to Take a Hike, April 2013 – 1,196 hits
Diary of a Tired Mom, February 2015 – 569 hits
Can’t Buy Me Love, September 2011 – 1,082 hits

In other post round-ups…

Very, very rarely, I’m inspired to write about something serious. These are my three favorite serious posts from the past eight years:

Coexist, January 2012
Ambassadors for Honesty about Parenthood, August 2011
Love Well, May 2013

I personally refuse to vlog, but I loved having Noah do these two posts:

Noah’s Fashion Pointers, Volume One, August 2013
Fashion Statements of Fact, September 2013
(And really, I enjoyed all of Noah’s guest posts. That was an especially fun stage of writing. I should have another baby. Or not.)

Most awkward moments that came about from blogging:

– I had a guy I didn’t know that well come up to me in the sanctuary at church one Sunday and say “I absolutely LOVED your post about your Colonoscopy!!!”

– One of the pastors at our church came up to me at a birthday party and said “Rachel. OH MY GOSH. Your post about Chris’ Vasectomy.”

I gulped and said, “Uh oh. I really pushed the envelope with that one. Am I facing church discipline?”

He said, “It was amazing. PLEASE push the envelope more often.”

(Okay that moment wasn’t awkward. It was awesome. But I sure thought it was about to get awkward.)

– Having to apologize to people for writing about them in what I thought was a humorous way but…they didn’t take it that way. That happened twice. As such, I now have a policy of always asking my friends before I blog about them.

Biggest Blogging Angsts:

Seriously. I angst about everything. Ev-er-y-thing. Here is a sampling of my most common internal angsts.

What if no one thinks this is funny? Why has no one commented? Oh my gosh no one has even liked it on Facebook I’m the worst writer ever. I’m totally losing my ability to put thoughts together – stupid dysautonomia! What if someone thinks I’m talking about them and I’m totally not? Oh I bet she’s going to be offended (causing awkward feelings next time I see person I’m paranoid about.) Oh no I just realized that person reads my blog there’s no way they aren’t offended or find me highly inappropriate because I am actually highly inappropriate. Why am I so inappropriate? I should be more ladylike – I bet that’s what my mother says to herself all the time. Why has no one still commented on this post? Oh no I really am the worst. Why have people quit commenting? Why do people have to read on their iPhones so it’s so hard to comment? What am I saying – I do everything on my iPhone. Oh man I’m so behind on answering comments I hope no one thinks I’m snobby! I love my readers and want to talk to them why don’t I have time? What if everyone takes that blog post wrong and reads it in the complete wrong voice? I HAVE NO BLOG IDEAS THIS WEEK WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE ABOUT. Seriously oh no! I’m never going to have another writing idea again surely I’ve run out of ideas! NO ONE HAS COMMENTED ON THAT POST STILL!! I’m really the worst. Why am I so the worst?

Yes. No matter how many posts you write or how many years you do it, blogging is still a highly angsty undertaking.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes look at my blog. Feel free to ask any follow-up questions about blogging – I don’t talk about it often, so now’s your chance! I’ll be waiting over here in my puddle of angst.

The Best Worst Comments: Volume III.

Volumes I and II can be found here and here.

I adore my regular readers and their lovely and encouraging comments – I seriously cherish with all my heart. But the random Googlers that find my blog and leave bizarre and angry comments also have a special place in my heart. As such, the time has come again look at the best worst comments I’ve gotten in the past year and a half. Because I love people. And they love me. Or something like that.

The Dilemna/Dilemma post received the largest amount of fascinating new comments. This is the post that I discussed the bizarre situation that many of us find ourselves in – completely convinced that dilemna is the way to spell dilemma, and upon trying to find out how I could have been so deceived, I discovered that one of the theories is that there’s a whole group of us that somehow crossed over from an alternate dilemna-spelling universe.

Tony was by far my favorite commenter on this subject. I may or may not have dramatically read his comment aloud well over a dozen times.

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Who knew Satan cared so much about the dilemma of alternate spellings? I certainly did not. Nor have I ever attempted to prove my faith in Jesus Christ based off of spelling anomalies, so clearly I’m gravely shallow.

And then there was poor Naima. Or more likely, her possibly former husband.

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Another post I wrote, a very tongue-in-cheek (and, I thought humorous but apparently not to all) look at the reasons why I homeschool, brought out a jewel of a human being – you know, the friend we all need – the type that tells us clearly and plainly how very wrong we are.

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My poor warped children, living such a boring, unadventurous, anti-social life…how WILL they ever forgive me? AND WHY HAVEN’T YOU GUYS POINTED OUT THIS BLIND SPOT TO ME BEFORE?!

An early post I wrote that was a personal favorite received a five-year-late response. The post was about Kiosk Warfare and the in-depth strategy one must take to avoid getting spritzed, curled, or otherwise attacked by mall kiosk workers. I wrote the post in 2010, but Carmela the angry kiosk-worker found it in 2015.

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She is so, SO correct. I would definitely not last a day.

Speaking of late reactions, a mere nine months after I started blogging in 2008, I wrote a piece about how much I despise honking my horn. Jeff found this post just last month, and had some wisdom he felt needed adding.

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And here I thought hitting my key fob twice armed my alarm system. Thanks, Jeff, for letting me know that I’m really just a narcissist who is obsessed with the fact that I have a standard automobile feature.

In January of last year, I wrote the latest installment of my sleepwalking injuries (thankfully the least injurious of the entire collection.) Six months later, Kathleen felt that she had some very pertinent information to share:

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Put that email address on speed-dial, y’all. You never know when you may need it.

(And if her husband is living with the other woman now, how is he also happily living back at home? I love it when the present situation changes halfway through writing a comment.)

Of course, a year couldn’t go by without having some serious feedback on my ever-viral (despite being sorely outdated) denim posts.

The most popular of the series, written in 2012, is specifically about Gap and Old Navy jeans being Mom Jeans. Am I aware that Gap has dramatically updated their jeans since 2012? Of course. Have I felt like writing another 20+ hour research post about it? Not yet. Does that mean I should take down a post just because it’s outdated? That’s not how the internet works. Unless you ask Jessica…

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Because clearly I OWE it to the internet to spend another month of my life redoing this post. How dare I not update it.

BN agrees.

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It’s my favorite when people find a dated post and complain that it’s dated. DARN THAT PASSAGE OF TIME!!!!

Mary Ann had a broader view on the problem of denim…

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Well there you go, ladies. Jeans were made for a man. That’s all there is to it.

And finally, my proper cursing post brought out a couple of fantastic comments. My friend Kristina totally got trolled by the somewhat bizarrely named “SauceEatn”. Normally I don’t allow trolls to troll other people on my blog, but I knew Kristina could take it, and for the life of us, no matter how many times we read the comment, we couldn’t quite figure out what Mr. (Ms.?) Eatn was trying to tell us…

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So is it a mild euphemism, barely a euphemism, a horrible euphemism, or what exactly? Maybe one of you can diagram his/her sentences and solve the mystery for us.

And as a last jewel to offer you, this comment was on the same cursing post, and from my friend Christen. It’s not a Best Worst Comment – it’s just a Best Best Comment – perhaps the best comment I received in all of 2015. Unfortunately, emojis don’t come over when you leave a comment, but just know that anywhere there’s an unexplained blank space, Christen had inserted a Smiling Pile of Poo:

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There’s nothing quite like a Granddad’s sweet nothings to boost your self-esteem.