I think the thing I hate most about having my own website(s) is the amount of spam that I get. I have spam guards in place, and they seem utterly useless against the onslaught of spam that I receive as comments on this site.
So, just to make things harder for those who want to post to my site, and for me who wants people to post, I now have it set that I have to moderate all comments.
This email is really just a test. As I mentioned the other day, I have switched the blog over to Drupal, which I really like. One of the great things is that I can now blog from my email. That means that I don't need to log into Drupal in order to blog. I'm not 100% sure how this will benefit me since ultimately, I need an internet connection to email, which means that I should also have access to Drupal.
Nevertheless, it's quite cool that I can do such things, and hopefully, that means that I will be able to blog more frequently. I know that I have said this before, and perhaps I might mean it this time.
We shall see.
I really like WordPress. I think it's great blogging software. However, I have discovered Drupal, and I've really fallen in love with it. It's not an easy program for someone like me who has limited knowledge of computer stuff. But I think that's what makes it so much fun for me. I like the challenge of trying to figure it all out.
There are several other benefits to Drupal over WordPress, and I decided to switch the site over. It took longer than I anticipated because I moved everything by hand. Drupal has a module (a plug-in for the WordPress fans out there) that will move data from WordPress to Drupal, but I felt that I really wanted to do it by hand to ensure that I was able to mitigate as many issues as possible. As I mentioned, I'm no expert, so there may well be a bunch on the site. Please, PLEASE, let me know if you see any.
Right now, the biggest one is that I can't get the comment, "The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly," to appear under the email field in the comments section. If you know how to do it, please let me know.
Also, while I was changing the platform I'm running the blog on, I figured it was time to change the template as well. Again, if there are any issues with the design, please let me know that as well.
The nice thing about adding the WordPress app to my Blackberry (again) is that I can now post blog entries from anywhere.
Case in point--I'm currently on Merritt Island in central Florida. I am sitting in a sports bar, being served by a young, mildly attractive waitress who is trying too hard to be flirty in the hopes of receiving a better tip (alas, so far, it's not working). I am writing this post as I sit in the booth sipping my water with lemon. This is very cool for all (2) of my faithful readers.
Yet, I feel that I should be waiting for the other foot to fall. I mean, certainly there must be a "but" to this, a downside. Perhaps it's that even with this great technology, I am sure that this will be a short-lived endeavor, and I will only post regularly for the brief moment that this ability to blog anywhere is novel.
Oh, well. We shall see. Stay tuned!
[07-14-10 -- Here's a short story I wrote for a website a friend of mine and I tried to start. I'm dumping the site, but wanted to post the story so I wouldn't lose it. Enjoy.]
Kelly followed the lines in the marble of the floor. She marveled at the beauty in the randomness of the lines. She had been working in the bank for nearly three years, but never noticed how beautiful the floor was. She had never been told to lie on the floor facedown before either. Now, as she stared at the floor, trying not to make eye contact with the three men who held automatic weapons in their hands, she distracted herself with following the lines on the floor.
It had been five hours since she had come to work, and four hours since she had been on the floor. New York’s finest had surrounded the building three hours and forty-five minutes ago, about fifteen minutes after she clicked the silent alarm under her desk at the teller window. Santa Clause had walked up to her window and, smiling in that jolly Santa way, had presented her with a note that simply stated that he had a gun and a number of demands. It was hard to tell what he looked like. His white, flowing beard covered most of his face, and what was visible was snow white, and he had very rosy cheeks. His red hat hid any trace of hair, and he wore white gloves on his hands. The oddest things about him were his slight limp and his stunning hazel eyes that looked out from behind his wire-rimmed glasses. As she looked away from the man, she caught a glimpse of two elves knocking out the guard and closing the door to the bank. Although she had trained for this very situation, it was still unreal, and she could feel her adrenaline pumping.
Within minutes of the SWAT team’s arrival, the hostage negotiator had made contact with Santa. By all accounts Santa was as happy and jolly as could be as he calmly explained his demands. He wanted a limousine, an iPod filled with Beatles songs, a digital camera, and a chicken sandwich meal from McDonald’s. He also wanted eight reindeer freed from the New York City Zoo and brought to him. He agreed to release some hostages as each of his demands was met. It was strange to hear Santa asking for things, but so long as there were hostages, it was Captain Markus’ job to ensure a safe ending, for everyone involved. The McDonald’s request was the easiest, and Markus thought it would be a show of good faith on his part to acquiesce. Within five minutes of the food being delivered, Santa reciprocated by releasing five hostages. Next came the iPod, and fifteen more hostages were released.
Inside the bank, one of the elves grabbed Kelly and dragged her into the back where the vault sat wide open and ready to be used for the day. There was over six million dollars in the vault in all assortments of denomination, but the elf took Kelly straight to the back of the vault where something even more precious sat in a glass case. Two months ago, the American Numismatic Society had received a very special gift from a long-time donor who had recently died. In Lady Edith Horton McAllister’s will, she bequeathed a rare gold Sovereign stamped 1876. On its obverse was displayed Queen Victoria in an Indian ceremonial headdress. On the reverse, written in concentric circles around the coin read, “Queen Victoria, Empress of India of the British Raj” in English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Latin. Only a thousand were minted. The value was almost incalculable. It had taken the curator of the ANS five long years of courting Lady McAllister before she agreed to bequeath the coin to the Society. Two weeks ago, the curator and the executer of Lady McAllister’s estate deposited the coin in the bank for safekeeping until the Society completed its renovations of its security system and displayed the coin in its main hall exhibit.
Without a thought to that, the elf instructed Kelly to open the glass safe in which it rested and to give it to him. She slowly withdrew the priceless artifact and looked it over. She couldn’t believe that she was actually touching the coin. She had read about it for so long in the papers and had heard about it coming to the bank in several staff meetings, but she never thought she’d get an opportunity to see it, let alone hold it in her hands. Before she could collect her many thoughts about the coin and its value, both historical and monetary, the elf had snatched it out of her hand and was pushing her back into the lobby with the rest of the hostages. Before she lay back down on the floor she caught Santa’s hazel eye and gave him a disgusted and disapproving look. The elf calmly slipped the Sovereign into his pocket and took up his position by the door where the uneaten McDonald’s food sat on the security officer’s desk.
Markus had the digital camera in one hand, and a phone in the other. He was talking to Santa, explaining the difficulty in meeting his request to free the reindeer. He assured St. Nick that his office was doing the very best it could, but it would just take time. Would it be possible to release all the hostages in exchange for the camera? With a ho, ho, ho laugh, Santa placidly said that would be impossible. He would release only eight hostages for the camera. Of the remainder, half would be released when the limo arrived, and the rest would be freed when the reindeer were safely out of their prison at the zoo.
As he hung up the phone, Markus picked up another phone and shouted orders into it. He wanted to know how much longer for the limousine and where were they in contacting the management at the Central Park Zoo. Although New York has several zoos, the Captain had, coincidently, just read in the Times that there was a special exhibit appearing at the Central Park Zoo sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden in which eight Lapland reindeer were the main feature. He didn’t think it would be possible to get these animals released, but it was his job to do everything he could to see this ordeal end peacefully: due diligence was the name of the game.
As he hung up the phone, Santa looked around the lobby and selected five hostages. After he pulled them aside, he instructed the elves to lock the rest in the vault. Before the hostages left, Kelly demanded that Santa release everyone. She insisted that the police would not allow Santa and his elves to get away with this. Many of the hostages voiced their agreement, but it was to no avail; they were wrangled into the vault, and it was closed, locking them safely inside. On the outside, Santa, his two elves, and the five hostages that remained sat in silence. Kelly, one of the five selected, again tried to speak with Santa, but after one of the elves put a gun to her head, she, too, fell silent. Santa arranged everyone close to the door. It was important for the police to see that people were still alive.
Outside, they could see the lone SWAT member, wearing a Kevlar vest and a clearly visible empty holster, approach the revolving door to the bank. He slowly placed the camera box in the opening to the door and backed away. Although he was only by the door for a moment, he had taken the opportunity to look inside. He could see Santa and one of the elves pacing. Both had semi-automatic weapons. The hostages were lying prone on the floor near the door. It was impossible to count how many were still in the building, but there were a number, that much was certain. He would report back to Markus that the hostages looked OK for now, but with three men holding rifles, there was no way to tell how long before they snapped and began shooting.
Markus watched as the front door revolved again, and eight hostages came out. All looked both terrified and relieved to be out of the bank. The SWAT team had already moved in and surrounded the released prisoners and was escorting them to the police perimeter. Once out of danger, each was questioned and their statements were taken down. It was hard to get a description of the suspects since they were all wearing outfits that hid their identity. Like the freed hostages from earlier, this group also couldn’t provide many details. Markus was relieved, though, that so far Santa had kept up with his end of their agreement.
After the eight had been debriefed and provided their contact information, they were allowed to leave. Four of the hostages made a beeline for the Subway. The other four each went in four different directions. The two younger men went east and south. Kelly, after making brief eye contact with the older man and nodding, headed west. As she walked she began to think about the twinkle in the older man’s deep hazel eyes. She knew she’d see him again soon. As for the older man, he looked out over the police line back toward the bank, grinned a triumphant grin, and began walking, with a slight limp toward the north.
Five hours after the limo arrived, Markus realized there was something wrong. With each of the other demands, Santa had released the hostages within an hour. This time there was nothing but silence. Fearful of what might be happening in the bank, Markus ordered his men into the building. They found the remaining hostages safe within the vault. On the lobby floor, they found a Santa suit and two elf costumes neatly folded. In the trashcan was a rag filled with stage-makeup, and on the counter was an envelope addressed to Captain Steven R. Markus. In it was a Christmas card that simply read, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
[07-14-10 -- Here's a short story I wrote for a website a friend of mine and I tried to start. I'm dumping the site, but wanted to post the story so I wouldn't lose it. Enjoy.]
The coughing convulsed his fragile body. As he leaned to the side to spit the blood and phlegm into the pan beside his bed, he saw them all looking at him in horror. He tried to smile, but even that hurt to do. He could feel every nerve ending in his face stinging with pain as the edges of his mouth twitched up. He knew they wouldn’t believe him that he was doing ok, but he felt that even now, even at this point, he still had to put on the show. He had always been the strong one. He had always made sure to be positive and upbeat, no matter what. So, why now, at the end, should he be any different?
It was nice to see them all there. They hadn’t all been together in years. Ever since Susan died, it was harder and harder to keep them coming by; the Thanksgiving table grew smaller each year, as did the Christmas table and the Easter table. But now, as he lay there, with tubes connected to so many parts of his body, they all came together. It was bittersweet; something like this had to happen to bring the family back together.
It wasn’t always like this of course, not when Susan was still alive. She had such a power over the family that everyone would want to come and spend as much time as they could. It wasn’t that they didn’t like him; oh, no, not at all. In fact, they loved to be around him almost as much. But, Susan had some sort of charm that threw an invisible net around the family and kept them closer than he was able to in the intervening years.
It’s funny how lying in a hospital bed can bring back so many strange memories—memories you thought were gone forever. As he looked at his children sitting next to him, his eyes fell on the scar on Bobby’s cheek, almost imperceptible now after 30 years, but still there. And in that moment, it all came back to him: it was a brisk autumn day in 1979, and Bobby was almost 4 years old. Susan was sitting on the porch swing. It was all she could do these days as her bloated belly prevented her from doing much of anything. Ellen would enter the world in less than 3 weeks. It was such a beautiful day, and everyone was smiling and laughing.
He and Bobby were playing in the front yard. He was throwing a ball and Bobby was chasing it. As Bobby ran for the ball (he was still too young and uncoordinated to catch it), he tripped and fell. Without warning, his giggling turned into a screeching that is the bane of every parent. He ran toward his crying son faster than he thought he could and saw nothing but metal and red liquid. There was blood everywhere, and Bobby appeared to be beating his face with the rake. It all happened in a second, but now, looking back, he felt that it took longer than it should have for the pieces to fall into place: there was Bobby lying on his back screaming, and the rake lying on top of him: one of the tines of the rake had pierced Bobby’s cheek. He could see the end of it inside Bobby’s mouth every time the boy cried. He scooped the boy up with the rake still attached and ran to the car. He remembered yelling to Susan that he would be back soon. At the hospital, they said that it was a clean wound, and not as bad as it looked; the blood had mixed with the tears and saliva, so it looked like more blood than there really was. A tetanus shot and 4 stitches later, Bobby was home and fast asleep. Now, Bobby probably had no real memory except from what they had told him over the years. The scar had faded between then and now, and it had no lasting affect on the boy. Why did he think of that now?
Ellen, there she was too, and with her was Charlie. They were going on their 3rd year of marriage. No one really thought that they would make it, but Charlie was doing better than anyone had expected. He was now working as the manager of the grocery store down the street from their house, and had been at it for over 3 years. He thought that was probably the longest Charlie had ever held a job, but he had to give his son-in-law credit; when Charlie approached him to discuss marriage, he was concerned that Charlie couldn’t seem to keep a job. Charlie swore that he would do whatever it took to make a proper home for Ellen and their children. Now, Charlie was living up to his promise. He smiled to himself as he realized that his son-in-law was growing up, and was confident that he would make a decent father one day.
And then there was Rhonda. She sat on the edge of her plastic chair slowly rocking and dabbing her eyes. She was so young, so lost. She was only 10 when Susan died. She took it the hardest, he thought. She was so young, and he didn’t know how to handle it himself. He tried to stay strong and keep up his confidence, but it was hard to do as he watched her get weaker and weaker from the cancer and the treatments. It was all he could do not to break down in front of the children, let alone help them be strong. Rhonda left days after the funeral, and only sporadically called, usually when she needed money. He always came to her with it when she called. He always tried to talk to her, but she pushed him away every time. He only hoped that when she got older it would get better. It was ironic that it was this, an almost exact encore that brought her back. He looked at her; she looked so much older than 16. He wasn’t sure if it was the makeup, or the hair, or perhaps the clothes that hid nothing of the baby growing in her stomach. She looked as young and beautiful as her mother did on that same autumn day, and he could picture Rhonda swinging on the porch smiling in the cool sunlight.
He coughed again, but this time it didn’t stop, and he couldn’t breath. His eyes rolled up in his head, and he barely heard Charlie and Bobby yelling for the doctor. His last image was of Rhonda squeezing her belly and crying. He felt Ellen’s hand on his arm. Then there was calm as the medicine coursed from his IV into his veins. The world slowly came into focus, and he saw Rhonda climbing onto a gurney and being pushed out of the room. He smiled as he thought that he would live long enough to see another grandchild. He closed his eyes and settled into his pillow. He could feel Bobby and Ellen each holding a hand, and he was more content than he had been in a long time.
As he began to drift into a peaceful sleep, he could see a white fog growing thicker. He heard voices and saw old friends and family drifting in and out of the mist. Even in the dream, he could sense that the end was near. In the room, his two oldest children felt his old, callused hands grow limp in theirs. Those hands that had once been so strong were now light as feathers.
In his dream, the fog cleared and the voices faded. There was nothing but darkness, and calm. There was a sense of perfect calm and peace, but there was also a rushing wind sound, it was cool at first on his face, even pleasant. Then it became cold, even chilly. He could hear all kinds of noises coming from every direction. Clanging. Screeching. Chanting. In the end, there was darkness and a cacophony of noise.
Then there was light. At first it was a pinprick. Then it grew, and grew. In the beginning, there was an unbelievable amount of light, and cold, and noise, and crying.
Ok, so I just installed an app to allow me to post from afar. This post is nothing more than a test to see if I have everything set up properly.
Cross your fingers. If this worked, hopefully I'll be posting a bit more.
I like to read. I like to write. I like to travel. So, when I called National Geographic Magazine a few months back to start my subscription, I decided to accept the offer the operator made me: for an extra $5, I could also receive National Geographic Traveler. To be honest, I'm still not sure I really like the magazine, I do very much like one of the regular contributors, however: Daisann McLane. It's her easy-going writing, with just enough quirk to it that I long to throw it all away and gallivant across the globe. For instance, in this month's issue, she talks about how wonderful it is to have your laundry done (or to do it yourself) in foreign countries. I'm used to stuffing my dirty undies in the plastic bag the hotels give you for laundry service so they don't touch the clean clothes in my bag. Since I travel to FL so much and may be stuck there for longer than I anticipate, I have come to regularly pack more than I need...it never occurred to me to actually let strangers do my laundry. I think I might have to try it the next time I'm away! Thanks, Daisann!
I know that I haven't posted anything in forever, so I thought that I should at least get 1 post in before 2009.
What have I been doing instead of blogging? Well, I'm actively looking for a new job, so if you know of any in Boston, please let me know.
I've been working on some other websites that I have.
I've been planning the wedding...just a little over a month now!
And I've been doing some extra work in the evenings (and at work, but don't tell anyone that I've been double-dipping).
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannuka, Peaceful Kwanzaa, and here's wishing you my annual blessing....that 2009 will be better, brighter, and funner than 2008!
I have decided to follow in the footsteps of LtL and I moved webhosts, He went to BlueHost.com while I went to their sister company, HostMonster.com. Why? What's the difference? Well, HostMonster.com was having a sale, so I got my hosting for $4.95 a month for 36 months.
If you see anything funky or just not quite right, please let me know so I can fix it.