Friday, June 25, 2010

Follow up to last post

So I got a comment from an anonymous poster that the <center> and </center> tags are "depreciated," which basically means they don't work in all browsers (though they do obviously work in mine) and will eventually not work at all.  This commenter recommended I Google new "center" codes in CSS.  The one I found is only slightly different.  I placed it in the same place as the previous post.  At the front end of the code I placed <div align="center"> (instead of <center>) and at the back end I have </div> (instead of </center>).  It worked on my laptop (Windows Vista) in my Firefox browser, but my Internet Explorer 8 browser (which I rarely use) seems to be having some problems adding extra padding to the right side of the page.  When I edited it in the Blogger design program, the extra padding disappeared in the preview, but was still there even after applying the changes.  Of note, IE 8 also adds the extra padding when I open the blog on my desktop (Windows 7 but in 4:3 view) but it's not initially; it opens correctly, then adds the extra padding as it finishes loading.  Looks like I'm back to searching for some solutions here.  If you want to see the blog the way it's SUPPOSED to look, use something OTHER than Internet Explorer (which is what AOL uses for their browser too, by the way).  

Friday, June 18, 2010


If only this were job related, then I'd be REALLY happy!  But for now I'll take my small consolation prizes and small victories.  In relation to my previous blog post, I was finally successful last night in getting my blog header centered and getting the margins and spacing where I wanted it.  After all the countless hours reading blogs and help pages, I finally figured out on my own through trial and error how to center it.  Turns out it was far more difficult to find than I thought, but of course all it needed was the <center> and </center> tags around it and voila!  On my desktop, which uses a standard 4:3 monitor, nothing looks different because the header image is slightly wider than the blog's margins.  On my laptop, though, which has a 16:9 monitor, it is definitely centered now!

The trick was finding just where the command was in the script.  What made it difficult is that it was in the more detailed version, so I first had to click on "Expand Widget Templates" when I was in the "Edit HTML" part of the blog design (not to be confused with the "Edit HTML" tab above the area where you compose your posts).  Once I expanded the HTML to basically show everything, I was able to locate the section on the main header "widget".  There I found three "options" written into the code; the three you can choose if you upload an image to use as your blog header: behind title text, above the title text, or in place of the title text.  Since I was using the image in place of the title text, I found the small section that dealt with it.  It was under <!--Show the image only-->.  I placed the "center commands" (seen above) around this:
<img expr:alt="data:title" expr:height="data:height" expr:id="data:widget.instanceId + "_headerimg"" expr:src="data:sourceUrl" expr:width="data:width" style="display: block;" /> 
Of course that doesn't mean much to anyone, but it's basically telling the computer how to display the image when it's in place of the title text.  I figured I needed to find the specific command because everything else I was trying wasn't centering my image and I noticed the header itself was centered, just not the image in the header.  I was able to figure that out when I put a border around the header and the box itself was centered, but the image inside the box was still on the left.  Whew...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blog design

I noticed recently that Blogger has added a much better template designer, so I've been trying it out in case you may not have noticed :).  I'm still toying with it.  I definitely like the expanded choices, but I also like to have my blog adjusted so that it automatically fits in whatever screen its being viewed on.  The way to do that is my editing the HTML script of the blog so that the space covered by the blog is determined by percentages rather than a fixed width.  Without it, when the blog is opened on a wider screen (which are becoming more and more common) you get these huge margins with the post in the middle or, if it's formatted for a wide screen, doesn't fit right on a standard screen without having to slide over.  I was able to figure THAT part out but still working on getting my header (the "Live from Kent..." picture at the top) centered.  SO, if you see a bunch of changes, you'll know I'm probably fiddling with it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


For those of you who don't keep up with college sports, this past week saw three big changes in the world of college athletics with three teams changing their league affiliations: the University of Colorado announced they will move from the Big 12 to the Pac-10 conference effective in 2012, Boise State University announced they will move from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference also in 2012, and the biggest so far was the University of Nebraska-Lincoln announcing they will move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten effective 2011. Rumors are still flying about possible other Big 12 schools leaving for the Pac-10 or Southeastern Conference (SEC) and even more for the Big Ten. For the Big Ten and the Pac-10, the main reasons cited for adding the respective schools to their conferences was the additional markets each school brings to the conference. For the Big Ten, which owns and operates its own television network (Big Ten Network) adding more markets adds additional subscribers which of course adds additional revenues to the conference members. The Pac-10 is hoping to start its own network, so adding Colorado and the Denver market will help boost revenue for that as well. The University of Texas has been discussed for several conferences including the Pac-10, Big Ten, and SEC because it would likely "deliver" several large markets in the state of Texas and boost revenues considerably for whichever conference (including the Big 12 if it survives) takes it.

But that begs the question: what is a market? There are several markets, but here we're talking about media markets. Nielsen Research came up with Designated Market Areas (DMAs) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) follows the Nielsen DMAs in their own market designators (known as Television Market Areas or TMAs). Within the DMA/TMAs are smaller radio markets. In northeastern Ohio, for instance, Kent is part of the Cleveland-Akron (Canton) DMA/TMA. It includes 17 counties in the region. The only part of northeastern Ohio it doesn't include is the Youngstown-Warren area, which is its own DMA. You can usually tell markets by which cities have their own TV stations. The Cleveland-Akron market currently ranks 18th nationally, so it is considered a "mid-sized" market. The size is determined by households within a DMA, so naturally the largest cities in the country are also the largest markets. Within the Cleveland-Akron DMA are three radio markets, which are defined by a research company called Arbitron: Cleveland, Akron, and Canton. For Kent, even though we're officially in the Akron radio market, radio signals don't stop off at borders, so we can easily get stations from the Cleveland, Canton, and Youngstown markets with little problem. On top of that, many of the major and mid-sized radio markets have a high-powered AM station that can be heard well outside its market area. In Cleveland, WTAM 1100 AM can be heard at times in 38 US states and much of Canada. WLW 700 AM in Cincinnati and KSL 1160 AM are other examples I can think of off the top of my head that are also high-powered.

As I've followed the discussions mostly by fans of the various colleges and their respective conferences, the phrase that comes up about a potential school is its ability to "deliver" a particular market. For instance, many believe that if the Big Ten added Rutgers and/or Syracuse then it could potentially "deliver" the New York market (the nation's largest) to the Big Ten Network. By "deliver" it means there is significant interest from the population, enough so that cable companies want to add the Big Ten Network to their basic lineups. The more people who have access to BTN, the more money it gets since cable TV gets their revenue largely from subscription fees instead of advertising like "free" TV does. When it's on a more basic lineup, people get it whether they want it or not, translating into a lot more subscribers. Such is the case in the markets presently served by the Big Ten Network in the states that have member schools: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Within those states are several large and mid-sized DMAs including #3 Chicago, #4 Philadelphia, #11 Detroit, #18 Cleveland-Akron, and #23 Pittsburgh among others. Indeed, one of the biggest arguments against the Big Ten inviting the University of Pittsburgh to join is because while the school has excellent academics and athletics, it does little to add to the Big Ten Network as Penn State already "delivers" the Pittsburgh market to the Big Ten, much like Ohio State already "delivers" the Cincinnati market (University of Cincinnati was also discussed lightly as a possibility by some fans). Because many of the Big Ten schools are large state schools, they have the ability to not only deliver specific markets, but entire states with multiple large markets. Not only does Penn State deliver both of Pennsylvania's largest markets, but Ohio State delivers the Cleveland-Akron DMA and also Columbus (#34), Cincinnati (#33), Dayton (#65), Toledo (#73), and Youngstown (#110). The same holds true for basically every school and state in the Big Ten because they have large alumni bases throughout their respective state and region, plus they have large followings inside their respective states.

With Nebraska joining the Big Ten, though, people have wondered how adding the main school in Nebraska, which has a population of less than 1.8 million people, will add much to the Big Ten Network. Indeed, the largest DMA in Nebraska is Omaha, which is ranked #76 with the Lincoln, Nebraska market down at #105. First, Nebraska generates interest well outside of the state of Nebraska. Their fans travel anywhere for games and their alumni are not restricted to the state of Nebraska. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if the Big Ten Network were picked up in the Kansas City market (#32) because I would imagine there are quite a few Nebraska alumni there. Still not the huge market many were hoping, but the potential for marquee matchups with fellow Big Ten schools and out-of-conference schools could generate additional subscribers outside the conference "footprint". One need not be an alum of a school to be a fan! Whichever conference lands the University of Texas will likely have the Dallas-Ft. Worth (#5), Houston (#10), Austin (#48), San Antonio (#37) and several smaller markets delivered because like many of the Big Ten schools, Texas has significant interest throughout the entire state.

Really this post was triggered by some comments I read from a well-meaning BYU fan who was talking up why a major conference like the Big 12 (assuming it doesn't implode soon) would want to add a school like BYU. One of the things he cited was the Salt Lake City market, which he correctly stated is ranked 31st in size. Yeah, I know, I pick on Utah a lot on this blog, but in this case I wasn't really looking for it but it just presented itself. Indeed, SLC is the nation's 31st largest DMA. What most people don't seem to understand is that in land area, the Salt Lake DMA coveres the entire state of Utah and includes large chunks of Nevada and Wyoming as well as a few southern Idaho counties, so comparing it with other markets isn't totally accurate. True, the vast majority of the population actually lives in the Wasatch Front (Ogden, Salt Lake, and Provo metro areas), but still if many of the other markets covered the same area Salt Lake does, things would look a lot different. Nielsen estimates approximately 944,060 households in the SLC market. Let's use Ohio as an example. If the Columbus market (which ranks a few notches behind Salt Lake) covered all the markets based in the state (several parts of Ohio are in other markets, plus some markets like Cincinnati extend into other states), it would include 4,136,840 households. So yes, Salt Lake is somewhat of a valuable asset for building revenue and expanding presence, but it isn't nearly as high as some seem to think. BYU could definitely deliever the SLC market, but I think it could also deliver the Las Vegas market because of the large number of Latter-day Saints in metro Las Vegas. Like Notre Dame is America's Catholic university, BYU is the "Mormon" university and thus can draw fairly decently (though not nearly as well as some seem to believe) in many places in the country as many members of the Church will come support the school (I am definitely NOT counted among those!).

Also see:
  • Nielsen Media Market ranks - this ranks all of the DMAs in the US and is the most recent as far as I know
  • Arbitron Media Market map - this map shows the radio and overall media (or TV) markets for the entire country.  The radio markets are colored by size rank and the media markets are outlined in heavy black lines.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reconnecting with Church History

Anyone that knows me knows I absolutely love to study history. In particular, my absolute favorites are local history (Kent area) and LDS (Mormon) history. The two briefly overlap in the 1830s when the Church was headquartered in northeastern Ohio from 1831-1838. I've documented my adventures photographing and learning about local history pretty well on this blog and every so often have made mention of Church History. Being so close to sites in Hiram and Kirtland, Ohio I'm around them quite frequently. Being in the cast of This is Kirtland! for five of the last six years has given me lots of opportunities to spend in Kirtland and learn more about the finer details of the LDS history there. Leading up to Memorial Day weekend, I was wondering what to do with my time. I had really considered going to the YSA (Young Single Adult) conference in Kirtland called Zion's Camp, but decided against it. Part of it was I just wanted to be alone; another was that I was "Kirtlanded out". Don't get me wrong, I love Church History in Ohio, but I needed to go somewhere else! So, much like a trip I took with Mom and my sisters back in 1999 to the same place, Mom and I did a kind of "spur of the moment" trip up to the Church History sites in western New York in and around the towns and villages of Palmyra, Manchester, and Fayette. It was my first time being there since 2000.

The sites in western New York are where the Church basically began. The farm where the Smiths lived, the cabin where the Church was officially organized, the building where the first Book of Mormon was printed, the hill where Joseph was shown the golden plates, and the very grove of trees where Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ are all in the area. We arrived around 7 PM after traveling less than 5 hours from Kent and getting settled in at our motel in Farmington, NY, just down the road from Manchester. The motel didn't look all that spectacular from the outside, but inside I was pleasantly surprised! It was decent, clean, and comfortable. Anyway, by the time we got in, there really wasn't much time for anything, so we got some dinner and went to the Hill Cumorah, which is where Joseph Smith was shown and eventually given the golden plates, which he would translate to become the Book of Mormon. There's a visitors' center there, but it closed at 7, so we went back to that the next day. Instead, we took our food and drove up to the top of the hill and ate there before taking some pictures around the monument there. We met some nice people who were also visiting from various parts of North America including the Canadian Maritimes, California, Utah, and elsewhere! We also drove in downtown Palmyra to just see where everything was (and to look for somewhere to get ice cream!).

Moroni monument on top of Hill Cumorah

Just me on top of the Hill Cumorah. Left shows the view from the monument; Right is a pic mom took with her camera.

Since the hill closed at dusk, we headed back to our motel and ended up watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban on TV before going to bed. The next day ended up being quite busy, but thankfully we had GREAT weather! We started off by making the trek to the Peter Whitmer Farm in the town of Fayette, New York (just south of the village of Waterloo, NY), about a 30 minite drive from Manchester. The Whitmer farm is where the Church was formally organized on April 6, 1830. The cabin was rebuilt on the same site as the original and adjacent to the cabin is a church building that also has a small visitors' center. Mom and I had quite the time getting to the Whitmer Farm because Waterloo, NY had scheduled their Memorial Day parade right when we needed to come through and the detour posted directed traffic to a road heading east out of town (SR 5 and US 20) and we needed to go south (SR 96). After a failed attempt to get on the wireless Internet with my iPod Touch at a local McDonalds, I ended up having to trust my inner directional skills and logic and we found another detour south and were back on our way. Turns out Waterloo, NY is the "birthplace of Memorial Day." We had a nice personal tour of the center and the cabin, which was reconstructed and dedicated in 1980, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Church. When it was chartered in 1830, the Church was officially known as the "Church of Christ". The full name we use today did not come around until 1838 in Missouri.

Left: Fayette Ward building. The left side wing is the visitors' center.
Right: Inside the reconstructed Whitmer cabin, site of the Church organization April 6, 1830.

The Whitmer Cabin

Another view of the Fayette Ward building and visitors' center...the cabin can be seen on the far left.

Our next visit was to the village of Palmyra. There I got a picture of the village's main intersection, which has a church on each corner. I have never seen another intersection like it. Not only are all 4 churches Christian, but they are all Protestant. Just north of those 4 is a Roman Catholic church. We also visited the E.B. Grandin building along Palmyra's East Main Street, which is where the Book of Mormon was first printed in 1830. Next I got a picture of the grave marker for Alvin Smith, the older brother of Joseph Smith. Alvin died in 1823, shortly after much of the very early events which would lead to the organization of the Church occurred. After that we went to a park right on the border between Palmyra and Macedon and I got some pictures of former as well as current Erie Canal structures. The Erie Canal goes right through Palmyra and is still maintained, though the original route has been bypassed in places. The canal did play a role in Church History transporting people as well as allowing Mr Grandin to acquire what was then one of the newest and most advanced printing presses at the time just prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Left: the four churches at Palmyra's main intersection.
Right: Inside the E.B. Grandin building, site of the first printing of the Book of Mormon in 1830

Left: One of the 5,000 original copies of the Book of Mormon
Right: Inside the Grandin Building in Palmyra

Front of the Grandin Building in Palmyra

Left: Thumbs up for the Book of Mormon!
Right: Grave marker of Alvin Smith. On the backside is the original marker, which is more white and weathered.

Left: Historic Erie Canal structure...most likely a former aqueduct and towpath bridge.
Right: Current Erie Canal lock No. 29 right near the previous picture. This section is still maintained and used (though not much anymore). Apparently this was bypassed around the original route to be more direct.

More of the historic Erie Canal structures. The waterfall disappears when the nearby lock needs to be filled. The bridge today carries a hike and bike trail.

We next went to the Smith farm, which is located on the border between the towns of Palmyra and Manchester, which is also the border between Wayne and Ontario counties. In Joseph Smith History, Joseph Smith describes the family's "removal to Manchester." In reality, they moved about 2,000 feet down the road from their original log cabin (which was rebuilt on site in 1997 and sits on the Palmyra side of the line) to a frame house. The majority of what was their land is in Manchester. Anyway, there's a small visitors center there and then you tour the rebuilt log cabin. Not only was the cabin built on the same site as the original, but it was built using similar wood and using 1820s building techniques, so it has a very authentic feel to it. Next, we walked down to what is known as the "frame home" which is the original building. It was restored in 1999 and 2000. When we came in 1999 the restoration had just begun inside, so the walls had been stripped and the furniture removed. It was pretty cool to see. Part of that restoration included rerouting Stafford Road around the back of the house so no one needs to cross or walk along a live road to go to the other sites. An operating temple opened just north of the frame home in 2000. There is also a rebuilt barn and cooper house across the street from the frame home. The biggest site there, though, is the grove of trees opposite the frame home. This area is known to members of the Church as the "Sacred Grove" and is where Joseph Smith had was it referred to as the First Vision around the Spring of 1820. There he prayed out loud for the first time in his life and was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ in what ushered in the Restoration of the Gospel. For Latter-day Saints it is quite the site and to me is probably one of the most significant sites in not only LDS history, but human history.

Left: Smith log cabin; authentically rebuilt in 1998. The Smiths lived here twice.
Right: Inside the log cabin

Left: This is my "removed to Manchester" photo. The cabin on the right is in the town of Palmyra (Wayne County); the house just to the left of center in the distance, known as the frame home, is in the town of Manchester (Ontario County). The border is the fence in the center of the picture.
Right: View of Palmyra Temple (which is actually just inside Manchester) from the road connecting the log cabin to the frame home.

The frame home. The Smiths lived here in the late 1820s. It was originally started by Alvin Smith before he died and lay incomplete for a few years after his death. The "incomplete" look inside is trying to hold true to how it may have looked while the Smith's were there as they moved in before the interior was completed. This house looks a LOT different than it did just 10 years ago before the restoration.

Inside the frame home. The bricks in front of the fireplace on the left is one of the places where the Smiths hid the golden plates from mobs in the late 1820s.

Left: Inside the barn across the street from the frame home.
Right: Inside the Sacred Grove!

Two pictures of Mom and Me in the Sacred Grove. The one on the left was all my camera could do (no flash) and I doctored it a little; on the right is with Mom's camera and flash.

Thumbs up for the Sacred Grove!

After that I got a few pictures at the Palmyra Temple, which is on land that was part of the original Smith farm, as well as the Palmyra chapel across the street before heading back to the Hill Cumorah. There we went through the visitors' center, which opened in 2005 I believe. It replaced a smaller center on the same site, so I hadn't seen the new one. Well, come to discover it's designed more to be a starting point for people visiting the area as it has info and small displays on all the various sites along with videos. Oh well. So, if you ever go to the sites in New York, make sure you go to the Hill Cumorah visitors' center first!

Palmyra Temple. It's a typical "small" temple design (our temple in Columbus is the exact same layout reversed) but this temple has unique stained-glass windows.

Left: Main doors to the Palmyra Temple showing the stained glass made to resemble the woods of the Sacred Grove just down the hill.
Right: Palmyra New York Stake Center. It's a typical LDS meetinghouse built these days but I liked the columns and portico, which usually isn't seen on other buildings of this layout. The building also seems longer than a typical LDS Stake Center as it has to regularly accommodate lots of visitors!

Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center. It opened in 2005 replacing a smaller center on the same site.

Inside the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center with the beautiful Christus statue on the left (it's in that room with the rounded windows) and a Book of Mormon display on the right.

Left: Interior of the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center
Right: Looking up the Hill Cumorah. In June and July this area will be covered with a large, multi-level stage to host the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant. If you haven't seen it, take a trip!

It was a great trip. I'll admit Saturday was a bit rushed and I was totally exhausted on Sunday after we got back, but it was totally worth it. I'm glad we not only did it, but were able to do it. Being able to visit Church History sites makes it so much more real and adds to my testimony that it's all true. This was the 4th time I've been there: twice for the Hill Cumorah Pageant (1997, 2000) and twice now at non-pageant times (1999, 2010). While I highly recommend seeing the pageant when you can, make sure to visit another time too when the pageant isn't going on to really experience the sites. The pageant draws tons of tourists from all over the country, so the sites are crowded and tours are much faster. You'll get to see the sites for sure, but not long enough to really get a feel for what happened there in my opinion. When you visit during less busy times (usually before the Summer favorite time was a visit in early Spring) you get much more personalized tours and attention from the guides (who are all full-time missionaries) and all the time you want to visit and enjoy the sites.