welcome to the new chookooloonks.com! let's celebrate with a giveaway.

Transient

Thanks so much for your patience everybody -- hopefully by now everyone's seeing the new Chookooloonks.com!   I'm so thrilled with the changes, modifications and updates that we've made, and I can't wait to share them all with you.  

But first, the story of how we got here.

About 3-1/2 years ago, I did a complete site redesign of Chookooloonks.com, to coincide with leaving my law practice, and going out into the big wide world.  I asked my friend Krystyn Heide, a designer with Squarespace.com, if she would do the honours, and she happily did.  And absolutely directly because of her, two things occurred:

a) Chookooloonks.com won several design awards.  Whenever I receive a notice that the site is being awarded "Best Design,"I always immediately make sure that it is clear that I didn't do the design at all, and that Krystyn was responsible.  She is truly a rock star.

b)  I became a huge evangelist for Squarespace.com.  Not only have they always been incredibly reliable (I can only think of one time in 4 years when the site has been down), they have The Best Customer Service Of Any Organization On The Planet.  Notice, I didn't say "best customer service of blog hosting companies," or "best customer service of tech companies."  I mean any company.  Squarespace Customer Support is phenomenal.  Any time I've had a question or issue, they have responded to my request within, no lie, 5 minutes of my sending it to them.  They are seriously amazing.

So, anyway, I was moving happily along with my brand new site, and life after law was going swimmingly.  Squarespace was so pleased with Krystyn's design, they added it to their "Featured Sites" section on their main page.   Things were awesome.

Then late last year, I quickly realized that I had outgrown my site.  The reasons are various, but the real lightning bolt hit during the creation and execution of the Chookooloonks Path Finder last fall.  As I explain in the online course, I'm at my happiest when I'm doing one or more of three things:  public speaking, writing, or photography -- or speaking, writing and shooting.  And while I'd been living my professional life using those three words as guideposts, it wasn't readily apparent on my site.  It was time for Chookooloonks.com to evolve.

Since the site was being featured on Squarespace's page, I didn't want to radically change Chookooloonks without consulting Krystyn first.  To be honest, I didn't think she'd take on the job -- she's got her hands full with her full-time gig at Squarespace as it is -- but to my delight, she agreed.  "Also, I think we should build it on Squarespace 6," she said, referring to the brand new platform currently in the process of being developed by Squarespace, which is still in beta.  "I think you'll enjoy it.  Besides, you'll officially be the first custom site on the new platform, so it'll give me an opportunity to really put Version 6 through its paces, and see what it can do."

And the rest, as they say, is history:  within a few weeks (and working crazy late nights and weekends), Krystyn and the team at Squarespace managed to put together the site you see here now.  I love it:  it's cleaner, it's brighter, and best of all, speak-write-shoot is far more apparent, and easier to find and navigate.  I couldn't be happier.

So, I invite you to poke around a bit and explore.  You'll probably notice that there are some items from the old site that aren't here anymore -- it's not necessarily because I'm abandoning them; remember, Squarespace 6 is in beta, and there are certain features that are still being built and coded as we speak.   Similarly, it's entirely possible that you might stumble over a bug or two: if you do, you'd be doing me and Squarespace a huge favour if you'd drop me a line (using the fancy-schmancy new contact page, if you'd like!), to let me know if you're seeing any erratic behaviour, so I can get the crack Squarespace support team on it.  And as always, I'm so appreciative of your patience as we get the site exactly where it needs to be.

But before you run off to see everything, I'd encourage you to leave a comment below.  Because I figured that since we're all beginners here -- you're new to this latest incarnation of the site, I'm new to navigating Squarespace V6, this version of Chookooloonks is new to the internet -- I thought, to celebrate, I'd give away a fabulous photography beginner package!

So leave a comment below (note -- it's easiest to leave as a "Guest"), and I'll pick one commenter at random to receive all of the following:

A signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whoever you'd like.  Of course.

An Epiphanie camera bag.  My sweet friend Maile took most of the photographs of me that you see in various areas of this site; but in addition to being a brilliantly talented photographer, she's also the creative mind behind the best camera bags out there, Epiphanie bags.  Even more awesome, besides being talented and creative she's also wildly generous:  she's offered to give away one of her really beautiful Paris camera bags.  This bag would be beautiful if all it did was protect your laptop, but the fact that it protects your camera too?  Score.

And then finally, because every beginning photographer needs a camera, this past weekend I ran out to my very favourite camera store, Houston Camera Exchange, and picked up a brand spanking new Nikon D3100 digital SLR camera!  This is a great camera to begin learning photography fundamentals, take video, and generally fall in love with photography.  The camera I purchased comes with everything you see on this page, including lens -- and I've tucked in an 8G memory card, so you can get started right away.

Cool stuff, yes? So just leave a comment below, no matter where in the world you are, and for one lucky commenter (randomly chosen using Random.org), all of the awesome above will be theirs.  (Or, you know, whoever wins can keep whichever part of the package they want, and regift the remainder.  In any event, the winner's going to look like a total rock star.)

One comment per person, please.

And because I'm late in posting today's post, I'm going to leave this open until midnight US Central Time, Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and will announce the winner by updating this post.  

With that, welcome to the new Chookooloonks.com, friends, and happy Love Day.  And most importantly, thank you, each of you, for showing me such incredible support over the last 8 years of my blogging.  None of this would've been remotely possible without you.

UPDATE:  A couple of items:

If you're having problems with seeing anything on the site, it might be your browser:  Internet Explorer 7 or earlier is going to have some issues.  Updating to a more recent version (or using Firefox, Safari or Chrome) will yield much better results.

If you're having problems commenting, as mentioned before, please comment using the "Guest" option.  That is the most reliable way.

Those of you reading this on some sort of mobile device -- a mobile version is on the planning books, so stay tuned.  For now, however, you'll have to see the site on a computer -- sorry!

If the images are looking wonky, just refresh, and they should look fine. :)

That's it for now -- enjoy, friends!

Update #2:  The giveaway is now officially closed -- thanks for all your comments, everyone!  According to Random.org, the winner is Patricia, who said "I am so excited for chookooloonks.  You always have the very best stuff!"  Thanks, Patricia -- and congratulations!  Please keep a lookout for a note from me, so I can get all of your information.

Thanks again, everyone, for your kind words!

Song:  Southern nights by Glen Campbell.  Just because I hadn't thought of this song for decades until the Grammys this weekend.  And then I was 10 years old again.