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I Have To Do Better in 2018

Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2018

Dave!I never get mad at my cats.

It doesn't matter what they do that's "bad," I can never bring myself to get upset at a cat for being a cat. My cats make that pretty easy. They're well-behaved, for the most part, and don't get into to much trouble. Now that they're grown, they never scratch at the furniture or pee on stuff or anything like that (so far, anyway)...

Sony 90mm MACRO

On occasion there are problems. One of them will get to a place they're not supposed to be and break something, for example. But... how can that be their fault? More likely my fault for not anticipating the problem and preventing it. If I'm mad at anybody, it should be me.

It occurred to me a while back that if I can't get mad at my cats, shouldn't I be able to translate that passivity to people?

The Trump presidency has caused a lot of anger in me this past year. His dangerous ignorance, utter stupidity, and inhuman ability to not give a crap about people he is supposed to be representing as president... it grates on me like nothing else ever has. I find myself consumed with rage on a near-daily basis because every day it's just more of the same horrendous shit raining down on the world from The White House. Or, more likely, whatever golf course President Trump is occupying this week.

As somebody who honestly believes that anger is more destructive on the person who has it rather than those it's directed at, I know this it not healthy. Not for me. Not for the people I care about. Not for my cats.

And so, after completely unplugging from the world for two weeks in Antarctica and becoming accustomed to not being angry every waking moment, I made myself a promise to try and be more pragmatic, caring, and less angry in the new year. To attempt to let my anger go and focus on positive things so that I can help be a solution instead of being part of the static that divides us.

And then... just as I was making my mind up, it happens. A tweet President Trump unleashed finds its way into my news cycle...

Trump Idiocy in Action: In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

And see... here is why my "letting go" of my anger is so tough. When it comes to my new commitment to setting aside hatred, I've already failed the test. Because stupid-ass shit like this just reinforces how utterly brain-dead and dangerous this fucking asshole actually is for this country and the world, and I can't help but be angry about that.

He has no clue... none... what climate change entails, nor does he care. And yet he speaks as if he's an authority on the matter. This is the same idiot who thought that hairspray quality today isn't as good as it used to be because ozone-depleting CFCs have been banned from aerosols... the same CFCs that he said could never affect the ozone layer because his apartment is "all sealed."

You can't make this shit up.

And yet... here we are. And here I am. Right back to where I was in 2017.

There's more stupid-ass tweets to come, I'm sure. There always are. And that's not even the start of it. I'm sure he'll find a way to keep assaulting all the Americans he loathes in short order... the non-Christian Americans, the unhealthy Americans, the Mexican Americans, the gay Americans, the poor Americans... whatever... the list is never-ending. And that doesn't even touch crap like his assault on net-neutrality, something that I am beyond passionate about.

And so... what?

What to do with the torrents of overwhelming Trump-initiated anger that very nearly destroyed me in 2017?

I honestly don't know. I wish I could argue against his fucked-up agenda without getting so enraged about it, but that's something I'm apparently incapable of doing. President Trump is an affront to everything I care about.

And yet I have to try.

I have to do better in 2018.

I could never ignore what's going on in the world in order to make myself be happier. Ignorance just allows ignorance to propagate. But the same could be said for hate.

And so... a plan.

  1. I will try my best to accept the negative for what it is rather than what I make it into.
  2. I will educate myself on the negative in order to better understand it from an objective viewpoint rather than an emotional one.
  3. I will act upon the negative in a positive manner from a positive mindset in the hopes of bringing about positive change in myself and others.
  4. I will attempt to detach myself from the negative (Buddhist-style) in order to accomplish all of the above.

Easier said than done to be sure. But, as I said, I'm going to try. Finding more positive inspirations in my life that encourage me to make the jump will probably help...

And here we go...

   

Hot Coffee Girl and Blogging

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Dave!There are times people ask me why I still have a blog. There are times I wonder myself why I keep Blogography going. The whole "blogging community" that seemed like it would last forever a decade ago has evaporated. Most of my blogging friends hung it up years ago or moved to Twitter or Facebook.

But not me.

It got to be a habit, it's still a habit, and there are still a lot of people visiting here (15 years of blog entries indexed by Google will do that).

I think, more than that though, is the nostalgia of what blogging once was that won't let go of me. I have met so many people because of this thing... many of whom have become dear offline friends. Blogging was family to me.

That's what makes it all worthwhile.

I am reeling this morning after learning that long-time blogging friend "Hot Coffee Girl," AKA Kelly, passed away. Such a kind and caring soul. And one who will be missed by many.

Once when I was in Chicago we met up to "Tilt" out the window of Hancock Tower in Chicago. As we were waiting for our ticket time, we stopped at a small juice bar at Hancock Plaza where Kelly proceeded to order a shot of wheat grass juice. This tiny little paper cup was filled with green sludge and cost a fortune, but she was totally loving it. And I was totally loving teasing her about it... which I did for years after.

I'm gutted that so many good friends met on the internet are now gone. Anissa, Lisa, Howard, Tracy, Rick... dear people all, each leaving a hole in our hearts. So glad I got to meet them in person, even though they became much more than a name on a computer monitor to me, even if we had never met at all.

Rest in peace, Hot Coffee Girl.

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Day Two: Arnhem

Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Dave!Traveling with one blogger friend to meet up with another blogger friend has to be one of the better things to come out of the internet.

That so few bloggers are out there now is more than a little depressing to me.

   

Ban Hammer

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Dave!As somebody who is passionate about world travel and the free exchange of ideas around the globe, today is a sad day for me. After years of hacking attacks on my blogs which result in dozens of lock-out notices being generated every day, I've just banned a huge chunk of IP addresses from access... including all of China, Russia, and goodly chunks of several other Asian countries that are currently on the blacklist maintained by Wizcrafts.

Will this stop hacking attempts? No. I'm sure plenty of hackers will use spoofing or VPN services to keep trying. That's part of the game, and I accept it. But, after my second malware exploit this year, I had to do something to try and make it more difficult for hackers to get through, and this was my last resort.

I get no pleasure from it.

Denying access to somebody in China or Russia who runs across Blogography in a Google search and has genuine interest in something I have to say goes against my entire reason for having a blog. But I've been left with little choice. Every time my site is exploited, it takes precious time I don't have to fix it. I either have to do my best to block these hacks before they happen... or shut down my blogs entirely.

So here we are.

As is always the case, the few are ruining things for the many.

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Tarzan Is Not an Ape

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Dave!I started paying for CBS All Access because it was the only way to watch Star Trek: Discovery. I kept paying so I could watch The Good Fight. In-between all that, I started re-watching episodes of 60 Minutes, a show I've never had much interest in until I found out that CBS All Access has nearly 200 episodes available for streaming. My biggest problem with the show is how they take interesting subjects and drag them out to the point of tedium. Which is why it's such a great show to have running as background noise while I work. I can safely ignore it while still absorbing relevant snippets.

Until something pops up that destroys my ability to ignore it.

While watching an old 60 Minutes segment on Bob Mankoff... cartoon editor of The New Yorker... there was a segment about cartoonists pitching their latest yucks to him. Most of the cartoons get rejected, but a few get through. Among them is a cartoon about Tarzan...

Tarzan Cartoon in the New Yorker Bullshit

Tarzan Cartoon in the New Yorker Bullshit

Mankoff: "The apes are saying 'We found you and raised you as one of us, so we were just wondering at what point did you learn to shave?"

Cartoonist: "I have researched this. There is no iteration of Tarzan in literature, comic books, or movies in which he has facial hair. It makes no sense!"

Doesn't make sense?

Bullshit.

Bull.

Fucking.

Shit.

You don't have to be a Tarzan fan like me who has read all the books dozens of times to know this is 100% bullshit.

In the very first book... Tarzan of the Apes... the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that started it all... the original Tarzan source for all the literature, comic books, and movies... it is explained that Tarzan started scraping the hair from his face because he understood he was a man, not an ape, and he was afraid of turning into an ape...

“But of these things Tarzan did not think. He was worried because he had not clothing to indicate to all the jungle folks that he was a man and not an ape, and grave doubt often entered his mind as to whether he might not yet become an ape.
   
Was not hair commencing to grow upon his face? All the apes had hair upon theirs but the black men were entirely hairless, with very few exceptions.
   
True, he had seen pictures in his books of men with great masses of hair upon lip and cheek and chin, but, nevertheless, Tarzan was afraid. Almost daily he whetted his keen knife and scraped and whittled at his young beard to eradicate this degrading emblem of apehood.
   
And so he learned to shave—rudely and painfully, it is true—but, nevertheless, effectively."

   
—Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

Which begs the question... exactly how much "research" did this cartoonist do that he didn't run across the reason his cartoon is stupid? Apparently he didn't even read half-way through the first Tarzan book.

I wish I knew why crap like this pisses me off.

Is it because the cartoonist lied and obviously didn't research anything? Is it because I get sick and tired of Tarzan being continuously misrepresented? Who knows. I wish it didn't piss me off, because then I wouldn't have to stop working so I can blog about it.

   

Blogography Moving Day!

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Dave!Blogography may be screwed up for a bit, but I'm still blogging!

After twelve years of suffering through my current web hosting provider, I'm moving to greener pastures.

When I first investigates Media Temple, they were more expensive than others, but billed themselves as a "pro" solution and were hosting some of the biggest sites on the internet. I figured the extra money would be worth it, and signed up.

And, for a while, I think it was worth it. They offered tools and goodies that most others were not, and their support was very good. I didn't like my annual bill, but I liked everything else.

Then they moved to a new "grid" architecture, and it sucked ass. Basic stuff like... oh... I dunno... SITE BACKUPS were gone. Downtime was rampant (and they never felt like reimbursing you for the time your site wasn't available). But they kept promising that they were working out the kinks and that the missing tools would be restored, so I stuck with them.

After two years, things stabilized. Downtime was still happening, but it was okay for a personal blog. And then? That was it. They just coasted along and nothing changed. And that backup tool? Oh... it's still coming!

A decade passes and I'm still fucking waiting.

I stuck around despite it all because I didn't want the hassle of moving. The thought of losing emails in the transfer was always a big deterrent.

And then? I kept getting hacked. I installed protection, which helped, but the attacks never let up. My hosting company doesn't offer any help in this arena what-so-ever (knowledge-base articles didn't much help), and so I've been attempting to handle it on my own. As I'm working on it, my "GPU" points ran out, and so I had to pay for overages... $38 for last month alone... in order to cover my backups and blog hits. $38 I can't afford.

And so I wrote to support from Media Temple.

After the bullshit canned answers I've come to expect, I couldn't take it another minute. Twelve fucking years as a customer, and they don't give a shit about me. No "Hey, sorry you're having problems we don't offer tools to deal with, so let us reimburse you the $38 as you're working through things because we value you as a customer!" Not even close. And so? They can just fuck all the way off. I'm moving to a new hosting company that may or may not be better, but at least I'm not paying a premium to host there... and, oh... THEY OFFER FUCKING BACKUP OF MY SITE AUTOMATICALLY!!!

A few things I've learned through all this...

  • The paid Wordpress "easy migration" tools don't work. I tried three of them (ranging from $30 to $45) and not one of them was able to handle my massive Blogography site... or even my much smaller DaveCafe site. Hoping that all their "money-back-guarantees actually happen.
  • Using the built-in WordPress export tool to collect your entries, comments, and such is fine... but the import tool to get them in your new site is total shit. I had to manually split my export file into two pieces because of size limitations... then the installer kept timing out before finishing, so I had to figure out which entries were missing, edit the files to only contain them, then install those. Then repeat. Again and again. Blogography ended up being tens of thousands of lines of XML code. Do you know what it's like to try and edit that shit? Thank heavens for TextMate and the ability to define blocks to copy/paste! (Command-Shift-DownArrow, Command-Shift-UpArrow).
  • All my templates are custom-coded by me. A skill I have long-since forgotten how to do. This meant a lot of time wasted trying to figure out how my templates work so I could repair everything.
  • Do not panic when your archives say "0 comments" on entries you know you have comments... the actual post page will have the comments intact. You have to Google for a PHP script to fix all that (though I am really nervous about doing so when I just got everything working, finally).
  • The SSL certificate "ca-bundle" goes in the "Intermediate Certificate" field or else secure site hosting won't work. Why hosting companies can't label where things go is beyond me. I had the same issue with Media Temple, and finally remembered what I did to get it working.
  • You can look up your database prefix in MyPHPAdmin. Don't forget to put it in the appropriate spot in the wp-config file or nothing will work. And, no, I don't know why WordPress puts that not with the database credentials section, but instead all the way down the page where you can easily miss it.
  • If you hard-coded links on your site, every last one of them will fail if you customized your permalinks (under settings). I customized mine to "/archives/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html" in order to be backwards-compatible with the Movable Type blogging platform (that was my pre-WordPress platform).
  • Just copy all your plugins via FTP and add them directly to your new site... don't try to search for them inside WordPress because half of them are missing, unsupported, or abandoned.
  • Screaming at your computer display does nothing except scare the kitties. Don't do that.
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Unbloggable

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Dave!Um... yeah... things may be messed up here for a little while. Everything is helplessly screwed up, and I'm trying my best to restore from my backup... but the backup software I purchased won't restore properly. And so I'm kinda trying to manually restore, which isn't going so well either. Such is life.
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