All posts by trythisoneforsize

75 and counting!

Electronic Publications – Update.

One day, a few months ago now, I was just firing up my Firefox EPUB Reader extension to do a bit of serious reading, when the program suddenly disappeared – never to be seen again!

Strange, I thought! Have I done something wrong?

I went through the usual sequence of opening up first Firefox, then the extension, but never got as far as selecting a book, for the extension was no longer working.

Google had an answer for the problem, of course. The author of the extension had apparently not realised that a section of code he had used had a timeout limitation, and the time limit had been reached. The Firefox extension simply would not work any more – ever!

One solution to the problem was to write a new program for the EPUB reader, which they did, and provided a new version of the extension. Unfortunately, the new version was a real dog in comparison to the old one, and I soon realised that I would not be able to live with the quirks and foibles that were quickly apparent. For example, the presentation was no longer full screen, but any attempt to enlarge it usually involved a crash and having to start again.

No, a better alternative was needed, so I started to look around. I found a program called Azardi which seemed interesting, but it was written some time ago, and for an earlier version of Windows. So with Windows 10 there would be no guarantees! By this time, however, I had a fair collection of EPUB documents, and definitely needed a means of reading them. It was worth a try, at least.

With Azardi installed, I gave it a whirl. The first thing I noticed is that as the program is associated with EPUB files, it is only necessary to double click on the document you wish to read, and it appears on the screen before you. This was never possible with the Firefox extension, and opening a document with it was somewhat tedious.

The next thing I noticed is that there are choices available in the setup; a 2-page display, or a 3-page display, for example. There were no hiccups when I expanded the display to fill the screen, and in fact the program is behaving beautifully.

So for those of you who are sold on the EPUB form of publication, like myself, I heartily recommend that you try Azard for yourself!

Azardi

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The Incentive Economy

With our planet getting warmer to an unacceptable degree, we really must review our current business concepts, to see which are causing the most disruption to our climate.

With air travel being one of the biggest sources of pollution, – even bigger now that we have discovered the problem with contrails -, we are devoting a lot of effort to stop airport expansion, reduce pollution by using more efficient engines, and in general encourage people to avoid flying wherever possible.

What do “Air Miles” do? Exactly the opposite!

By providing free air transport at the rate of about 10% of the flights you do pay for, the airlines encourage you to fly more. When you have saved sufficient air miles, you can use them to pay for a flight of your choice. This enables you to participate in polluting the atmosphere at no financial cost to yourself.

The ultimate stupidity!

Airlines should find another way of rewarding their customers that does not involve increased pollution.

In many other cases we have “Special Offer – 20% Discount – Limited time only”. This also applies to WordPress! The time limit is a trick to encourage people to take the offer. (If you wait long enough, the offer will surely come round again!) The objective is to encourage people to spend more, to buy more stuff, although they may well be able to manage perfectly well without it.

My counter to that is:- “Save 100% – Don’t Buy Anything You Don’t Need”!

In general, we should make purchases for the long term. Evaluate carefully what you want to buy, select an item that will meet the requirement and will give you 5 years or more of reliable service.

In fact, we have to evaluate incentives carefully now to see if they are causing additional pollution or problems. If they are – ignore them completely.

Avoid flying wherever possible!

The Next Step!

The best time to start the fight against climate change was 20 years ago.

The second best time is right now. And since we’re so far behind, we have no option other than to try to roll the clock back and clean up the mess we’ve made.

By that, I mean it is necessary to extract CO2 from the atmosphere, and lock it up so that the percentage in the atmosphere gets down to normal, safe, levels.

This is quoted from the web page entitled “Sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, explained”.

And this is essentially what it now comes down to, and hang the expense!

This does not mean that we choose the most expensive option, and ignore all the others. It does mean that we have to evaluate all of our options to see which will work best (and fastest) for us. The ones I have found so far, as listed below, with a short description of “What and how”, and the link to the source of information.

a) Climate change: Five cheap ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere

1- Coastal blue carbon

This report says that there is a lot of potential for increasing the amount of carbon that is stored in living plants and sediments found in the marshy lands near the sea shore and on the edges of river estuaries. They include mangroves, tidal areas and seagrass beds. Together, these wetlands contain the highest carbon stocks per unit area of any ecosystem.

2 – Planting trees

Global deforestation has been a significant factor in driving up emissions of carbon, so researchers feel that planting new trees or restoring lost areas is a simple and cheap technology that could be expanding right now.

One of the problems, though, is that while researchers understand a good deal about which trees are best to grow for timber harvesting, they are less knowledgeable about breeding trees whose major focus is to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

3 – Forest management

How forests are managed can have a big impact on how much carbon they store. As well as planting more trees, the report says that we need to manage our existing forests in a better way to remove more carbon. This can also be done for less than $20 per tonne of CO2.

Techniques can include the speedy re-stocking of forests after disturbances like fires. They can also involve extending the age of the forest when you harvest it. A critical step would be to extend the amount of timber that goes into long-lived wooden products and limiting the amount that gets burned as biomass in power stations.

4 – Agricultural practices

The report says that some simple changes in the way farmers manage their land can be a cheap and effective way of removing carbon from the air. These include planting cover crops when fields aren’t being used to grow commercial crops. It means growing crops with reduced tillage and it will involve adding a material called biochar, a type of charcoal made from plant matter, to the land.

5 – Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)

The idea of BECCS is to grow energy crops that soak up carbon, which are then burned to create electricity while the emitted CO2 gas is captured and buried permanently underground. BECCS has been dismissed by many because of the massive amounts of land that would be needed, up to 40% of global cropland according to some studies.

How effective will these ideas be?

The report says that current technologies that cost less than $100 per tonne can be scaled up safely and store large amounts of carbon but much less than is needed to avoid dangerous climate change. To meet the Paris climate agreement – to global temperature rise below 2C – about 20 billion tonnes of CO2 would need to be removed from the atmosphere every year by 2100. The technologies assessed in the report would remove “significantly less than 10 billion tonnes of CO2”.

b) Extracting carbon dioxide from the air is possible. But at what cost?

CO2 Capture

This process has four steps. First, air is channelled by fans onto a honeycombed plastic slab called a contactor, where CO2, which is acidic, reacts with aqueous potassium hydroxide, which is alkaline. The resulting solution of potassium carbonate is filtered and exposed to a slurry of calcium hydroxide. This produces potassium hydroxide, which is recycled back to the contactor, and pellets of calcium carbonate. These are whisked to the third receptacle, called a calciner. There the calcium carbonate is heated to 900°C to release pure carbon-dioxide gas ready for capture, and calcium oxide. Finally, the calcium oxide is piped to a “slaker”, where it is dissolved in water to form calcium hydroxide, which is reused in the second step.

A pilot plant with a contactor three by five metres across and three metres deep has been running for three years. It extracts a tonne of carbon dioxide from the air per day.

Factoring in operating costs and the cost of capital, the study concludes that Carbon Engineering’s system could capture a tonne of the greenhouse gas for between $94 and $232.

As things stand, the cost of using Carbon Engineering’s kit to scrub 8bn-10bn tonnes of CO2 per year, as the climate models presuppose, would run to trillions of dollars. Then again, no one said guaranteeing civilisation’s survival was going to come cheap.

c) What to Do with CO2 from Coal? How about Make Baking Soda

Skyonic lands funding to build a commercial-scale facility that takes flue gases and converts them into commodity chemicals.

The company plans to raise $35 million to build a commercial-scale plant for capturing carbon dioxide and other gases at a coal-powered cement factory in San Antonio, Texas by 2014. If the company meets its schedule, it will be able to use 83,000 short tons of carbon dioxide from the plant’s flue to make 157,000 short tons of baking soda. Its process also produces hydrochloric acid and other chemicals.

Skyonic now uses the name “Skymining”, and can be found here!

d) This tower sucks up smog and turns it into diamonds

Smog tower

(More details available here! )

The tower they built, which has been used in Rotterdam, Beijing, Tianjin and Dalian, sucks up 30,000 cubic meters of polluted air per hour, cleans it at the nano level — the PM2.5, PM10 particles — and then releases the clean air back into the city. (The tower is powered by solar energy.)

The smog particles filtered by the tower are compressed for 30 minutes and turned into dark, boxy gems. The diamonds are then used for rings and cufflinks, each representing 1,000 cubic meters of pollution. Roosegaarde says a couple even used a smog ring as an engagement ring.

It’s incredibly effective: the air around the tower is 55 to 75 percent cleaner than the rest of the city.

e) Carbon dioxide captured from air can be directly converted into methanol fuel

and a second page on the same subject:-

Carbon dioxide-to-methanol process improved by catalyst

The first method uses a catalyst made from ruthenium, the second uses a specific formulation of palladium and copper. I make no attempt to evaluate which of the two is better.

f) Diamonds From the Sky

Having already developed revolutionary methods for making fertilizer and cement without emitting harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, Professor of Chemistry Stuart Licht has now found a way to extract the greenhouse gas from the air and transform it into a valuable manufacturing material.

The method involves applying CO2 — either extracted directly from the air or captured from industrial smokestacks — to a vat of hot molten salt, a liquid solution called carbonate. As the CO2 rapidly dissolves in the carbonate, Licht’s team places nickel and steel electrodes into the molten liquid. Applying just a few volts of electricity, the carbon nanofibers build up on the steel electrode, where they are easily removed.

The entire process, which is ignited by either a conventional power supply or a solar-energy system of Licht’s design, is both earth-friendly and economical. Licht estimated the energy input costs at $1,000 per ton of carbon nanofiber — an amount commercially valued at as much as $25,000. “We are at the beginning of an explosion in the market for carbon nanofiber uses,” he said. “It’s at the same place plastics were at beginning of World War II. By making [nanofiber production] inexpensive, the applications go far beyond airplane bodies. They could, for example, be used in building materials, and could one day replace steel.”

“We calculate that with a physical area less than 10 percent the size of the Sahara Desert, our process could remove enough CO2 to decrease atmospheric levels to those of the pre-industrial revolution within 10 years,” Licht said. “There’s a necessity to work together, to test this on a larger scale, [and then] there’s no telling where we can go from here.”

Please do not stop with tried and trusted measures, such as refusing to chop trees down, and planting new ones where you can, (and where it makes sense to do so).

Lets get started!

Its “Make Your Mind Up” Time!

Its time for each of us to make a momentous decision:- either to accept the fact that climate change will eventually make the earth we live on uninhabitable, or not to accept it, and fight as hard as we can to prevent it happening.

If your choice is to accept, then congratulations. You need read no further, you have saved yourself some valuable time, which I am sure you can put to better use, and go back to sleep.

If you choose not to accept it, and are prepared to fight, then you should get busy immediately.

Take stock of your current lifestyle, and itemise everything in it. Once you have a long list, you should prioritise it, and I suggest that you first divide the list into 2 parts:-

1. Essential for your continued survival, and
2. Non-essential, but nice-to-have.

Under item 1 would come things like basic foods, drinks, clothing, housing, public transportation, and, where necessary further education, for example.

Under item 2 would come such things as following fashion, trips to the pub, holidays abroad, (no flying), a car, alcohol, cigarettes, a television, air conditioning.

Of course, the first thing you would probably say is that “life would be so boring”, and this is true – until you change it yourself. Change your attitude, start positive thinking, get a computer and become an activist. When you start to place value on different aspects of life than before, it all starts to open up. Life is in fact a challenge, and you need to find out if you are up to it!

I have always ignored fashion, so for me there is no change required.

After 50 years of smoking, I gave it up completely – about 3 years ago now. Sometimes, the body gives us an indication that all is not well, and we need to make changes. If you are unlucky, it is cancer, and your term on this earth is probably very limited. I was more fortunate:- Burgers Disease, which can be managed with tablets fairly readily.

I haven’t had a vehicle for years. Its one better than #NotInMyTank: – #IDontHaveATank. I use public transport, or walk. I enjoy walking, and after cycling it is my favourite form of exercise.

I also stopped drinking. My excuse for that was “to help me get to sleep at night”, but if you are drinking beer to do it – it doesn’t work. You are out of bed so many times to pass urine, that the benefit is totally lost. You can, as I did, substitute rum or some other spirit for beer, but then you put your liver at risk as well. The answer is to give it up completely. When you are tired, you will sleep anyway, so where’s the problem?

I refuse to use air-conditioning – a  simple fan has to be enough! Air-con removes much of the water vapour from the air, and for those who are sensitive, a humidifier will also be required – using yet more energy!

Now, take a closer look at the second part of the list – the items you have deemed “nice-to-have”. Can you prioritise it further? Can you divide it into 3 columns:-

2.1 – I want to keep this at all costs
2.2 – This I can manage without sooner or later
2.3 – This I can get rid of straight away

The more items you have in column 2.3 the better, and the sooner you can get rid of them, the better it will be for the planet!

The items in 2.2 are also important. Check this list every week, and see if you are ready to remove another one from it.

The items in 2.1 are a bit of a problem. They are not essential to your continued existence, but you won’t let them go. Perhaps if you realise that you are causing us all problems with this refusal, it will put the matter into a different perspective for you. Check this list every week, and see if you can move anything to 2.2.
Television? My father would not allow one in the house! I did have one once, but that was many years ago, and as long as I have a computer, I don’t need anything else.

To survive at all, we need to make far-reaching changes, and these will have a serious effect on the things we take for granted. If we all decided to ignore fashion, for example, in a short time the fashion industry would collapse, and the people employed in it would be looking for another source of income. Similarly, if many of us decide to give up driving a car, this would have a serious effect on the car industry, and may well lead to lay-offs – in one country or another.

We are already blocking coal mines wherever we can, and there are probably a lot of ex-miners still looking for work.

We cannot afford to be squeamish here! Changing our lifestyle will have knock-on effects for others, and they will have to be accepted. If you see someone in trouble as a result, give them a helping hand where you can!

If you got this far, thank you!

The more people trying to help, the better!

Breakthrough!

Some years ago, I wrote a “Warning” on this website, in the hope that it would encourage some action on the part of some people to do something about the gobal warming problem that threatens us. It can be accessed from the top menu, or:- Warning

Unfortunately, the response was not exactly world-shattering, and I have had to patiently wait for something to happen.

Now, however, the Genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and there is no turning back!

Greta Thunberg led the way. Her long vigil outside parliament in Sweden has caught the imagination of youth all around the world, youth that has been frustrated by the lack of progress in the race to save the planet. Collectively they have also demonstrated that children do have a voice, in spite of not having a vote, and that voice is now demanding to be heard.

The movement is spreading like wildfire racing through a bone-dry forest!

Governments are powerless to stop it. They have little or no leverage against children who are committing no crime, but only demonstrating against a rank injustice. They are the ones that have most to lose, and if we don’t fight for them, they will fight for themselves, in any way possible.

You can follow Greta on Twitter at @GretaThunberg. Give her more support if you can.

Some of her comments are as follows:-

“Children skipping classes to take the moral lead is an indictment of adult complacency”

“British PM says that the children on school strike are “wasting lesson time”. That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

But the real meat of what she has to say is contained in her speech at the UN COP24 climate talks. Links to this are given below.

“My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do.

But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. (The Koch brothers come to mind here!)

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you.”

Links:- You tube
Climate Change
(The reference to the Koch brothers is my own.)

And if you have the time, do watch Greta’s presentation at the TED talks, which is even more comprehensive:-
Ted Talks

Another young lady, Sophie Sleeman, says:-

“We’re swapping the classroom for active citizenship. Without a vote for 16 year olds, our generation – like the Earth we are trying to protect – has been silenced.”

“We are here because we have less than 12 years to sort this out… and we are just not seeing the action by our government. They are so behind the times and we really are scared.”

@SleemanSophie is Sophie’s Twitter handle..

Note:- At the moment, demonstrations are restricted to Fridays. If necessary, this could be extended to the whole week, which means that virtually none of our children would be attending school at all. Can you imagine what sort of a headache that would be for governments that are affected?!!!

And I have no doubt at all that the collective genius of our youth will come up with further ways of ramming their point home!

At the same time, there are signs that the dam is beginning to break for other reasons.

George Monbiot posted the following article in The Guardian newspaper:-

“My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back”,

and stated:-

‘You have issued a challenge to which we must rise, and we will stand in solidarity with you. Though we are old and you are young, we will be led by you.’

@GeorgeMonbiot

George Monbiot’s Guardian Article

George is also one of the main supporters of Extinction Rebellion @ExtinctionR

In the USA, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a sweeping package of environmental measures Thursday that has pitted progressives in the House Democratic caucus against moderates over how far to go in pursuit of resetting the climate change debate.
The proposals, which have come to be known as the Green New Deal, were crafted in conjunction with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Their plan envisions shifting away from fossil fuels and other sources of emissions that cause global warming within 10 years.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can be reached on Twitter at @AOC.

“Don’t mess with our future.

When it comes to climate, it’s all our lives at stake. The younger you are, the more consequences you’ll see.
It’s life and death for us. And we will fight like it.”

Its our world! Want to help? Find a climate champion, and support them on social media as much as you can!

Furthermore, if there is a politician who is not doing what we need, tell them so, and be clear about it!

Shock, Horror – No Internet!!!

It started out a normal day, with me accessing my favourite news sites and email, then everything suddenly went haywire. Spurious unconnected webpages started popping up of their own accord in new tabs, and the sites I already had lost connection.

I use a wifi hotspot, and it does sometimes get a bit troublesome, but nothing as bad as this. The computer was giving me a “Not connected – No Connections are Available” indication in the task bar, just as if the wifi had not been switched on at all.

I switched off the wifi, then switched it on again. This is sometimes enough to cure the problem, but this time it made no difference at all.

Ok, so lets think about this. It is not normal to suddenly go from a working system to a non-working system within a few seconds. There is something else at work here.

I switched off the wifi again, and disconnected it from the USB port. I then reconnected the USB cable at the computer end. Then I disconnected the wifi from the USB cable, and reconnected that. I then switched on the wifi.

Lo and behold – I have my Internet connection back again!

What do we learn from this experience?

  • 1. Computers will sometimes miss-inform you because they don’t know any better. Whenever there is an apparent problem, it is up to you to prove that the problem really exists.
  • 2. Most often when my computer starts to give trouble, I find it is usually bad connections. The wiping action of disconnecting and reconnecting is often enough to clear the problem by cleaning the contacts. Make this your first course of action in the event of trouble. I guess in 80% – 90% of cases it will do the trick.
  • 3. Where you have plug-in modules, such as memory cards, I recommend smearing the contacts very lightly with Vaseline. This keeps the contacts from contamination in humid and dirty environments. It also reduces the amount of force necessary to plug in the module.

Hidden Needles in Haystacks.

I was running a search on my computer to find some files I had mislaid. I wasn’t even sure of the names, but guessed that they were jpeg files, as they were pictures. Well, having so little to go on, the computer took a while to finish listing all the .jpeg files on the machine, as you can imagine. It took even longer for me to sift through them to find the files I was looking for – which I eventually did.

While doing so, I noticed certain files being repeated very often, and this intrigued me, for they were not files I was familiar with. I clicked on one of them, and found myself in a folder well down on the chain, in an unexpected part of the hard drive. The first part of the address was:-
Local Disk(C:)> Users > JS > AppData > Roaming > Mozilla > Firefox > Profiles > 93m8vpct.default

There were many files in this folder that I knew nothing about, but as the size was nearly 200Mb I thought it worthwhile investigating. The problem was to find them again!

When I used File Explorer to follow the chain listed above, it came up with only Local Disk(C:)>Users > JS > AppData > Roaming > Mozilla > Firefox > Profiles > c9l1c1v6.default

There was no sign of 93m8vpct.default at all!

The trick then was to paste the missing folder name into the search facility, and let File Explorer find it for you, which it did! To avoid further problems, I cut that folder, and pasted it onto the Desktop, where I could see it.

It turned out that many of these files were duplicates of files already in use, and some were the result of epub’s being generated and then disappearing. I thought I had lost them, but they were there after all. I was able to move the files I wanted to their rightful place, and delete the duplicates. I saved probably 150 Mb of disk space – very helpful.

So, File Explorer will access parts of the hard drive that you are not supposed to see when running a search on its own. The more accurate you can be when asking what to search for, the better chance you have of finding those hidden files quickly.

Warning – Revisited!

THIS IS NOT A JOKE!

By now, I think everybody will be aware that our planet is getting warmer. I previously addressed this, as you can see from the link in the top menu above, ‘Warning’. I fear, however, that the problem is not being taken seriously, and that our world will sooner or later become uninhabitable for us.

Although I lost most of the files in a hard-drive crash some years ago, I decided that I could still do more with those I have left. Hence, I have produced new animations that I want to display in this post. I have ignored the half-way stage at 50 years, and gone straight for the 100 year state. I have shown all 5 continents, with America being divided into North and South.

First:- North America

Second:- South America.

Third:- Australia

Fourth:- Europe

Fifth:- Asia

Sixth:- Africa

As you can see, we will be left with the bones of the Earth, with nowhere to grow food, and little or no access to drinking water or minerals, ports, airports, or transportation, other than animals that may survive.

I sincerely hope that people will start to see how serious this problem is!

Its a long way back – Part 2

So, I had a site up and running, I entered my first post, and then had a look around to see what was new. I had installed an older version of WordPress, and a new version was on offer – 4.9.8, and it could be downloaded and installed automatically. Well, that I had to try, and sure enough, it worked fine. So now I had to come to terms with the changes in the new version – some of them quite surprising, I don’t find anywhere to log in, for example.

In addition to that, there is a new editor being touted – Gutenberg, they call it. I decided to give that a try, (the last post was written with that), and hurriedly went back to the old system. When I looked at the result of Gutenberg, I was rather disappointed. Every block has a label round it defining its start and finish. We don’t need the labels – we can see if a piece of text is a paragraph or not, the same as we can see if a picture is a picture. A lot of extra work to learn a new system that doesn’t make life easier than before, and bloated files as a result.

Gutenberg? – No thank you!

I had downloaded Gutenberg as an optional editor, but after deciding not to use it, and downloading the standard editor as an option, Gutenberg was no longer to be found!

Back to the saga. I was really unhappy about the password for MySql, and tried to change it. There seemed to be a way of doing it via WordPress itself, but unfortunately the communication failed because of a setup problem. I haven’t found what that is yet. In the meantime, I found another way of changing the password directly via the PHP control for MySql. Although that appeared to work for a short time, it wasn’t long before I could no longer access the site at all.

If I couldn’t access it, why did I need it? Obviously I didn’t, so I decided to delete it and start again. This involved removing one database from MySql, and making another new one available for a new installation. Apart from a hiccup where I forgot to update the database name in wp-config.php, everything went smoothly. It is called the “5-minute Installation, but in fact takes far less time than that with an empty site to load.

Its taken about a year and a half, but I am now back to the state that I was in early last year. I have my site at home for experimental work, and can refine any posts I want to put on my blog before they actually go anywhere.

Welcome back, WordPress