What a Hack!

So, while I’ve been busy neglecting this little blog of mine, I received an e-mail from my hosting company (the incomparably amazing FatCow) saying that my site has been breached and is now full of malicious files. Um, not yay. I didn’t get back to them right away, so to prevent further damage, they took my site, as well as a few other sites I have on the same hosting account, offline. Again, not yay. A few nights ago, I contacted them to see what I needed to do, they gave me a list of all the problematic files and basically said “Here are your issues, kill them with fire”. So tonight, I did that, and within about 10 minutes of me letting them know that I had deleted the pesky bastards, FatCow had rescanned my sites to confirm that all was good, and had me back online. I love their tech support.

So, lessons learned:

  • Use better passwords. Like, ones that are impossibly long and full of random characters. Much harder for bad people to hack your shit if they get frustrated trying to break into it.
  • Don’t neglect your sites for so long that you end up with all this maliciousness that you have to deal with on the night before Thanksgiving, because you will stay up dealing with it far too late into the night, and no one wants to be grumpy when there is turkey to be eaten.
  • Drinking Wild Orange Wulong tea while deleting malicious files makes the whole process go SO MUCH SMOOTHER.

 

It’s now past 1am, I need to get my buns to bed. Family and feasting await come morning. Must rest up for the festivities. But I can now do so in the knowledge that my online data is safe and sound and free of nasties!

Judge Not

Tip for the Day (and for Life):

Don’t judge people for what you perceive to be their circumstances. Unless you talk to a person and get to know them for who they are, and learn about how they got to where they are, your opinion of them will always be colored by your own perceptions, which may be wrong. If we truly want to work toward a peaceful and loving society (and I honestly believe that we do), the only way we can do it is through mutual understanding and respect. We’re all in this together, so let’s lift each other up instead of holding each other down.

If you’re out in public and see a parent who appears to be struggling and you want to help, then help. Talk to them, ask if you can carry a bag for them or at the very least offer them an encouraging word. You might perceive that they are high or drunk, but maybe they’re just exhausted from working two jobs to keep a roof over their family’s heads – you’ll never know unless you talk to them, and making a snap judgment about their circumstances won’t help. And one thing that DEFINITELY won’t help is taking their picture and posting it on social media, publicly shaming them, claiming you know their circumstances and that you’re just trying to help (by getting their kids taken away). That’s not helping – that’s cowardice, that’s elitism, and it’s bullshit. Helping involves compassion, understanding, and action, not passive shaming and inserting yourself into a situation you’ve only casually witnessed and haven’t a clue about. One of the reasons our society is so messed up is because we want to feel like we’ve helped but without actually getting our hands dirty. Well, it doesn’t work like that, and you’re naïve if you think it does. So if you see someone who needs help, then help them – don’t be the judgmental asshole shaming them on social media and acting like you’re doing a good deed.

All this came about because a friend of mine shared a series of photos on Facebook (which were shared by someone else, who in turn got them from someone else that was, as far as I can tell, still several steps away from the original source) that claimed to show a woman neglecting her infant daughter on a public bus. Supposedly the woman was high, kept nodding off, was trying to give the baby Arizona Iced Tea in her bottle, but couldn’t keep it in the baby’s mouth because she kept falling asleep…the accompanying post talked about how the police were called, but the woman got off the bus before anyone arrived. The pictures were being posted under the guise of “helping”, with the SOLE AIM of getting the baby removed from the obviously unfit mother. The friend shared this post and the pictures along with the comment “Trash”. 

While it is possible that this woman was high, and perhaps may have been the worst mother in the history of the world, it’s also possible that she was just exhausted. But because no one spoke to her, no one knows. Regardless, though, nothing excuses this public shaming. I honestly believe that if the original person who took these photos and posted them wanted to actually do anything to help, she would have talked to the woman and treated her like a human being, rather than putting her on display for the world to judge and mock. And, there’s always the possibility that maybe she wasn’t high or drunk – maybe she had a medical condition. Narcolepsy? Hypoglycemia? As a former EMT, I can tell you that diabetics with low blood sugar are often passed off by others as drunks, because that’s how your body responds to hypoglycemia. I responded to my friend’s post with some of these thoughts, and I was met (by a friend of my friend) with threats of physical violence. Just for suggesting that no one can judge a person’s parenting skills on the basis of a photograph and third- (or fourth-, fifth-, sixth-….) hand information, and that perhaps public shaming wasn’t a good idea.  


I hate that we have become so quick to judge one another, yet so slow to actually help. It’s very likely that the woman did need help – maybe this mom has a drug problem and is in need of rehab. Or maybe she’s a worn out single mom who could benefit from some help around the house and a nap. But rather than trying to help her, she was shamed and subjected to ridicule. People called her “trash” and “drug addicted bitch”. People claimed to know what was is going on in those 3 pictures (which were essentially the same 3 pictures, but zoomed in at different levels), and seemed to think that if only they could get her child taken away,  everything would be just fine. No one seemed concerned with the mother, no one wanted to consider her circumstances, or even entertain the idea that she was anything other than a worthless addict, deserving of only shame, contempt, and hatred. These people know nothing of this woman, apart from what they see in a few hastily taken photos and words (now shared nearly 20,000 times) written by someone they don’t know. But they share and shame and judge without considering the greater consequences of those actions. Perhaps their hearts are all in the right place – thinking of the child. But none of them really even know if the child was actually in danger, because one person – the person at the start of this, the person who made the decision to shoot (pictures) first and ask questions (never) – felt she knew better, and made a (cowardly, in my opinion) decision based on judgment and assumption, rather than trying to find out enough information to know what was actually going on. She shared her pictures and interpretation of events, the mob mentality took over with their virtual pitchforks at the ready, and the witch hunt began. 

And I’m now left to wonder why we spend so much time pushing other people down and then acting surprised when they can’t or don’t get back up? We’re all humans. None of us is perfect, and it may only take one moment, a single moment on a bad day captured out of context and posted on the internet, for people to jump to conclusions about our parenting skills, our abilities, our worth as people. And for what? Will those judgments and conclusions help any of us be better people? No, they won’t. Shame is proven to be an ineffectual motivator. What helps us to be better people is when we realize we are all human and imperfect but worthy of love, respect, and dignity, regardless of our circumstances, actual or perceived – so why can’t we just accept that, and start treating each other like the vulnerable, imperfect, and very human creatures we all are? If we just understand that we are all much more alike than we are different, and use our words and hands to lift each other up, instead of push each other down, not only would this woman and her baby be better off, we all would be.

Up All Night

The week has progressed. Dexter ended up not having to go to the vet, thank goodness. We managed to get a good massaging of olive oil into his fur, and the wax started loosening up. It also made a huge difference in his skin, which is now no longer irritated and his fur is a lot smoother (we might start giving the cats a small bit of olive oil with their food each day, just to keep their fur soft and shiny!) His paw is now wax free, and his chest is nearly, too. We’ve been working on that one final patch a little bit each day, and soon he should be back to his usual wax-free but goofy self. I’m just glad we didn’t have to subject him to the vet!

I’ve been submitting resumes and looking for jobs, but so far no luck. This is the longest period I’ve gone without work in over a decade and I’m a little despondent. I know I’ll find something, I just wish it wasn’t taking this long. Ideally, I’d like to find something at least somewhat related to photography, but it’s hard to come by those kinds of jobs that pay a good salary while you’re still technically learning. I know I have a good knowledge base, and can learn quickly on the job, but I understand that photography is a field where reputations (your own and others’) are made or broken by the work you do, and a lot of organizations aren’t going to take a risk on a student with a very limited portfolio and pay them to “get up to speed”.  So I’m looking in other arenas, as well. Fingers crossed, and resumes as the ready.

Tonight was online game night. Hubs went to bed early so he didn’t participate, and a few of the others didn’t join in, so it was just me, Adria, Mike, and Glenda. The Cards Against Humanity server was acting weird, and none of the Pogo games really worked out, so it ended up just being a 2.5 hour Skype session interspersed with a few rounds of Trivia Crack, which I think was fine with all of us, truth be told. I’m really glad we’ve started doing these. I’ve missed the hell out of Adria and Glenda, and Mike is just awesome. And I don’t hang out with many people up here, because I don’t really know anyone in this area. And even if I did, most of the people in my neighborhood are in their 70’s, so not really the population I’d find myself cultivating friendships amongst. So having Skype game nights is just a fun way to hang out and have some fun.

Hubs had an audition today for a house team at the theater where he does his improv classes. He wasn’t on the callback list, but they said that doesn’t necessarily mean that he isn’t being put on a team. We’ll know for sure Sunday night. He says he’s proud of the work he did, that he knows he nailed the audition, and I know that he did an amazing job. He’s really good at improv, even when he thinks he had a “bad night”. But he’s still kind of convinced that he won’t be selected. Even though he’s focusing on the fact that he did well, and how that’s the important part, I know how much he wants this and I want it for him. He’s put a lot of work into this and it would mean the world to him, so from now until midnight is going to be a little nerve-wracking.

I’m up far too late once again, a habit that I need to get out of. I end up sleeping far too late, which means I end up staying up too late, and the cycle continues anew. So I should probably go to bed now. But I just wanted to get some thoughts out beforehand, a virtual unpacking of the day so to speak. I’ve had my ritual bowl of cereal (tonight it was Kix), and I took my medicine hours ago, so all that’s left is to brush my teeth, turn out the lights, and drift off into dreamland. We’ll see where it takes me tonight.

Shake It Off

2014 was an interesting year, to say the least. Things happened that were unexpected, my confidence and my mental state took a bit of a hit. However, I got through it all – a few scars to show, but I’d like to think I’m stronger and at least a little wiser for it. Having just had my 36th birthday, it’s nice to actually feel strong and wise, finally.

This Christmas and birthday were the first in my life that my cards I received were signed only by my father’s stepmother, not her and my grandfather. He passed in July after a car accident, and it still doesn’t feel real or right. Seeing just her name in those cards was a stark reminder of how awful 2014 was for all of us. Shortly after the funeral, my brother, sisters, and I got matching tattoos of his last name – our last name – in my dad’s handwriting, which is remarkably similar to poppop’s. I stayed back in Delaware for 2 weeks just to be close to my family, and from then on, it feels like our family has been closer than it ever has been. Though we are all still grieving, and will for a long time, there is so much solace to take in feeling so close to the people you love and who love you.

I started back to school (again) in September, having changed my major to Photography. I finally feel, after all this time, that it’s my calling. I’ve liked, and even loved, other things that I’ve done, but no other prospective career has made the fire inside me burn like it does when I’m behind the camera. My first semester went well – better than I’d expected, actually – and I’m hoping next semester brings new challenges to get my creativity flowing and refine my technique. I’m not certain where I will end up in the field of photography, or how long it’ll take me to get there and be able to earn an income from it, but at least I know that I’m headed in the right direction. It’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other now.

Tomorrow, I have to take Dexter to the vet. He managed to get scented wax (from one of those wickless candles) on his chest and paw the other day, and our attempts to remove it haven’t been as successful as we’d hoped. We’ve gotten a good deal of it, but I think mainly all we’re doing it annoying him and stressing him out. Between scissors, electric clippers, warm baths, olive oil, and combing, I think he’s had about enough of us. Luckily the wax isn’t toxic, so I’m not concerned with that, but he’s a fastidious groomer, and I think he’s irritating his skin by going over the same spots over and over again. I swear, this poor cat. He’s high strung, obsessively affectionate, has a deformed tail (it looks like the number 7), he snores, gets ear infections, and has no sense of cat-like grace. He’s a mess and a half, but you have to love him. I’m not looking forward to the ride to the vet tomorrow, because Dexter screams bloody murder in the car and fights like hell to get out of the carrier. But our vet is outstanding, so he’ll give Dexter a little sedation (before the wax is removed), and the car ride home will be a lot smoother.

So for now, I sit in my office at home, thinking about what’s gone before and what lies ahead. Debating about whether or not I should try to go to bed now (9:30pm), and risk waking up at 4am, or wait a little longer, by which point I might not be tired anymore? Sigh. Perhaps a cup of cocoa while I watch hubby smash things up on the Playstation will help me make a decision. We shall see.

 

An Open Letter to Judgmental Jerks in the Rain

Dear Judgemental Jerks in the Rain,

Yes, I carry a large, rainbow colored umbrella when it rains. I have my reasons, but no, they’re probably not the specific one you assume. But my reasons are what they are, and I don’t owe you an explanation, suffice it to say that they’re definitely not worthy of scorn and derision (but even if they were the reason you assume, they wouldn’t be worthy of scorn and derision, just so we’re clear.) So unless the shade you’re throwing is directly related to the fact that you have a specific distaste for rainbow colored umbrellas, you just need to stop. Because all you’re doing is showing how disgusting, judgmental, hateful, hurtful, and sad you are. You’re getting worked up over an assumption you’ve made based solely on my choice of a fucking umbrella. Build yourself a bridge and get over it.

Xoxo,

Me.

An Open Letter to Deepak at Amazon customer service

Dear Deepak at Amazon customer service,

It’s not every day that I tell a customer service rep during an online chat that I love them, but I’ve been jonesing to listening to Florence + the Machine for about a week, and I couldn’t figure out why, even though I bought the MP3 album through Amazon, it wasn’t available through the cloud player. So when you got it to work, I was overcome with emotion. You seemed to take it in stride, though, so maybe you, too, understand the allure of Ms. Welch and Co. and why I was so overjoyed. Anyway. You rock, and now I can, too.

Xoxo,

Me.

 

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Gamers with Heart – Extra Life 2013

So, in less than 12 hours, my hubby and I are embarking in a challenge to raise money for sick kids. It’s called the Extra Life Challenge, and funds raised for it go to the Children’s Miracle Network. It’s kind of like charity walks or runs, but much better suited to people who are less athletically inclined. Starting at 8am on November 2, and continuing until 8am on November 3 (which will be 25 hours, not 24, since Daylight Saving Time ends in the middle of it), we’ll be gaming. Nonstop. PS3, XBox, PC/Mac, Facebook, Android, even board and card games. You name it, we’ll be playing it, to raise money for kids. Our money is specifically for the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, one of the best pediatric hospitals in the country. This is the 6th year the Extra Life Challenge has happened, and it always makes such a difference for the Children’s Miracle Network, and the kids whose lives they touch.

If you’re interested and/or able to sponsor me, it would be greatly appreciated! You can make a donation at bit.ly/macgeekgrl. My goal is to raise $500. I’ve made good progress, but more would be AWESOME!

Additionally, Sean and I will be live streaming the event, and hopefully interacting with our viewers! Feel free to drop in on us at http://www.justin.tv/questionpodcast

Thanks, everyone!!! :-)

Subway Siren (of a sort)

An open letter to the woman on the train yesterday who I glared at and silently hated on for singing, loudly and out of tune with her headphones on,

I owe you a sincere apology. My behavior was out of line. I didn’t say a word to you. I didn’t ask you to be quiet. I didn’t overtly show you how irritating I found your tuneless singing. But I was annoyed, and spent so much energy, just willing you to shut up, even for a minute. I fixated, and rather than just shrugging it off and turning my headphones up a little more, I passive-aggressively directed my rage with a laser-like focus in your direction because you were interrupting me during my commute. This was wrong of me, and I’m sorry.
I don’t know you, I don’t know what your story is. So I have no idea why you were singing. Maybe you just got a call that made your day, and you were singing with joy in your heart. Maybe you found out that a close friend was sick, and you were singing as a distraction to help numb the pain. Maybe you were singing simply because it makes you smile. I never stopped to consider the reason, just how your singing impacted me. I was incredibly selfish. I try to be a good person, and I try to put love out in the world in my actions and my words. But I realize that harboring anger or hate in my thoughts can be destructive, too. Just because someone has a less than angelic voice doesn’t mean that their voice should be silent, especially if the act of singing brings you joy, or comfort, or solace. Bob knows, my voice isn’t perfect, and it never stops me from belting out tunes (although I never sing on the subway, even though I’ve really wanted to sometimes, for fear of retribution from people like me). I should have been more compassionate, and for that I am sorry.

I hope that, whatever the reason you sang, your soul felt better for it.

Me.

I Awoke With a Song in My Heart…

…or, rather, in my head.

I have a weird…I don’t know, knack? Habit? Propensity? Something. I have a weird something wherein I often wake up with at least one or two songs running through my head. And once they’re there, they stay. Often for days, sometimes for weeks. I don’t know why. But can I just say – it is frustrating. Sometimes it’s a song I recently heard the tiniest snippet of in a commercial. Sometimes, it’s a song I haven’t heard in yonks. And just because it’s stuck in my head doesn’t mean it’s a song I necessarily like, and even if I *do* like the song, usually by the time the third or fourth day, I’m pretty damn sick of it. There’s no rhyme or reason a lot of the time, and I basically just have to live with it until it goes away and is replaced by something else.

So, today, I decided I’m going to see if I can exorcise the head singing demons by foisting upon you, the unsuspecting internet, the contents of my neurological jukebox.

Today’s wake-up call was “Holy War” by Matthew Sweet. It’s track 14 from his killer 1991 album “Girlfriend”. It’s a song about the hypocrisy of killing in the name of god. It mentions Allah, but I don’t think it’s specifically about Islam – it’s about those who would seek to justify murderous acts by invoking the name of a deity who, most likely, doesn’t condone murder. Again, I have no idea why this song is what I woke up with in my head, but there it is, and here you have it.

I’ve spent twenty years learning to live
In a world that takes back all that it gives
But I do not want a war

‘Cause I’m not in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there’s a god who would understand

Feeding the promised land
With your blood by my own hand
At Allah’s own command
At Allah’s own command

I’ve spent twenty years learning to live
In a world that takes back all that it gives
But I do not want a war

I don’t know what’s going on
In the scenes behind
I worry about it some of the time
And I hope there’s not a war

‘Cause I’m not in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there’s a god who would understand

And I would walk across highways
To find my fate
If that might settle your crude debate
But I do not want a war

‘Cause I’m not in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there’s a god who would understand

Feeding the promised land
With your blood by my own hand
At allah’s own command
At allah’s own command

I came up from the desert and here I will die
Tooth for tooth and an eye for an eye
Though I didn’t want a war

I went in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there’s a god who would understand
As if there’s a god who would understand
I went in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there’s a god who would understand
As if there’s a god who would understand
Oh yeah…

(Writer: Sweet, Matthew
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing)

I’m a Knit Wit

So, I’ve discovered a new obsession as of late. Well, rediscovered, I suppose is more accurate. At any rate, after a somewhat long hiatus, I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of knitting lately! For the most part, I’ve been doing a lot of loom knitting – I have a touch of carpal tunnel, so I find that knitting on needles is more difficult these days, and I think it’s the reason I strayed from knitting in the first place. But with my rapidly growing collection of looms (and even more rapidly growing collection of yarn!) I’ve been able to knock out a fair number of projects in relatively quick succession. And it’s actually become part of my daily routine. I always have at least one or two works in progress in my backpack, and I get a lot of work done on the subway – I actually get twitchy if I finish a project and don’t have something to work on now! And, for people who’ve never seen loom knitting “in the wild”, it apparently is a captivating thing to see. I’ve gotten stopped so many times by curious onlookers on the train, asking what I’m doing, how it works, etc. I even encountered a crocheter on the train once, and he and I ended up having an impromptu yarn crafting “class” on the train for a group of about 5 or 6 curious folks. So, yeah. I’m completely obsessed now :-)

The dilemma I ran into with all this crafting, though, is that I starting running out of 1) yarn to work with 2) space to store all my work. So, I decided to unleash my obsession on the interwebs. I caved in and opened an etsy store I’ve called Design Distractions, last month. I’ve had a few sales already, and have actually gained a following not only online, but in my office (weird when my work and non-work lives collide, but there you have it). I’ve made a number of sales, and am using the proceeds for – what else – purchasing more yarn to make more stuff with :-) It’s a lovely little cycle.

In the coming months, I hope to add even more items to my shop, as well as start doing loom knitting tutorials on YouTube. So many people say they’d love to learn how to knit, but can’t seem to figure out the 2-needle method, I figure putting my hat into the ring (no pun intended) as a voice of the loom-knitting community would be a fun way to share what I’ve learned :-)

So, I  just figured I’d put this post out there for anyone who’s interested in what I’ve been up to, how things are in my little corner of the world. Hopefully once I get things rolling on the business side of things, I’ll have more to post here! So, keep an eye out here for updates!