Showing posts with label stories of my life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stories of my life. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Goodwill or the Salvation Army? Both Stink.

A lady in the local Salvation Army told me today that she only shops at S.A. because it is a real non-profit, whereas Goodwill is for-profit.

She was mistaken. Both Goodwill and the Salvation Army are non-profits. However, I would not call her a liar, either, because there seems to be some shenanigans going on at Goodwill. And here's another article about the problems with Goodwill. Disabled people are paid less than minimum wage, even as low as $1.40 an hour, whereas the top executives make many hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that stinks. Goodwill just sounds plain rotten. Greedwill is more like it. Donating to Greedwill is just like giving money to the rich. "Thanks, sucker, we'll be sure to use your donation to help pay for a new Rolls-Royce."

The Salvation Army, meanwhile, seems to be a pack of raving homophobes, full of hate against the gays. This is made clear by a number of articles in the media, cases where the Salvation Army has gone very far out of its way in order to offend the LGBT community, and also by my own personal experience.

I went into a local Salvation Army store today and purchased about $80 worth of items, but merely happened to mention that I had bought something for my "significant other," and a female clerk, who looked like a very unhappy, repressed lesbian, gave me a nasty look, her lips contorted in what I can only describe as a snarl.

However, her retarded coworker was a nice lady who cheerfully gave me exact change and wished me a good day. My conclusion is that I would much rather deal with a retarded person than with a homophobe of normal intelligence. The first you can possibly trust, while with the other, I would want to keep my eyes upon them at all times. I have never encountered discrimination or hostility from any retarded worker in retail stores. They have been cheerful, good workers, and if I were ever to become a manager, I'd be interested in hiring them. At the proper full wage, not sub-minimum, of course.

It seems strange to me that these charities have been sidetracked from their actual mission into some rather questionable practices and policies. I think that if I ever have anything I want to donate, I will either give it to a friend or leave it on the street for either the garbage collectors or one of these people that cruise around looking for castoffs. I'm going to steer clear of both Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Strengths and Deficiencies

I have reached an age that I know my strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses that cause the most annoyance are lack of physical stamina and arthritis and its symptoms, joint and back pain. For the last week, every night when I'm in bed, I can feel the joints of my fingers warm, throbbing and aching. It worries me because I suspect that they are changing from what they are now to the claw-like fingers that other arthritis sufferers in my family have had. I don't know what to do about it other than eat well, avoid alcohol like the plague, limit any stress to the finger joints, and consume Ibuprofen whenever the pain is bad. All that will probably be insufficient to ward off the effects of arthritis.

I wish there was a cure for arthritis, but it seems that world leaders have other priorities than scientific and medical research. I wonder whether there is anyone in the U.S. that really thinks the trillions we blew on Viet Nam and then recently Iraq and Afghanistan was money well-spent, when that money could have upgraded our knowledge of medicine and disease not just for us, here in America, but for our entire species.

My strengths are my analytical nature, sensitivity to the feelings of others, politeness, customer service, punctuality, and kindness to others.

I'm not the kindest person I know, but I am hesitant to cause anyone any sort of discomfort or unease and am willing to help strangers out if the cost to me is small. Lending someone I don't know $5 is out of my range, though. I'm suspicious of undue demands and wary of getting involved with people I don't know well. Helping someone with money may or may not actually help them. If they are going to use the money to buy alcohol, then it is a harm. I never give money to beggars, and the notion of begging seems strange and dishonorable to me. If I were hard up, then I would feel obligated to offer a service in exchange for money.

Empathy is very helpful, because it smooths social interactions and makes the working environment productive and efficient. I am very pleased that I have learned to pick up on subtle social cues that I used to miss when I was a teenager. I can read body language and know enough not to take other people's words at face value. Tone of voice and expression convey more information than choice of words.

Politeness is underrated by many otherwise good people. I used to cut fool with people when I was a teenager. Humor is all well and good, but the trouble with wit is that laughs are short-lived, but memories of words linger long after they are spoken. Sometimes people brood over what is spoken in jest. Why? Because there is much truth passed off as humor. The reason things are funny is often because there is a grain of bald, unvarnished truth in an utterance. Wit tends to exaggerate, however, and there lies the possibility of trampling on another person's feelings. I have learned to restrain wit. Only with close, intimate friends should wit be used and even then with caution. What people really admire and appreciate is someone who reflects a positive image of themselves. People don't ever want to have their shortcomings pointed out. They may laugh, but they will remember the slight. Even if they know about the shortcoming, it is better to pretend as though one is completely unaware of it.

An analytical nature is extremely important because we live in a complicated, ever-changing world. There are many complicated choices, and sometimes it is crucial to pick the right one and avoid traps and pitfalls. Unfortunately, many people lack an analytical nature. The leaders that they elect to represent them are, therefore, salesmen, not engineers. That is why our leaders have made many foolish and costly decisions that have retarded economic and scientific progress. An analytical mind will say, "OK, wait, slow down. Let's not get emotional. Let's not decide in haste based upon fear or greed. Let's examine all of the possibilities here. Let's dig up all the details. Let's compare and contrast each of the available choices. Let's make a decision only when we have thought everything through with cold, calculating, precise and well-informed intellect." The thing about me is that I love details. I want to know all the gory facts. My brain is hungry for useful information and useful knowledge. This has proven very helpful to me in many situations.

Punctuality is a reflection of my desire to remain calm and in control. I feel anxiety when the possibility arises of disappointing others. Being on-time or early is an easy way to establish a positive impression. To me, it is worth half an hour or even more of my time to eliminate any possibility of being late.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


The case of the teen accused of "affluenza" struck a nerve in the national psyche. People read this article and understand that for the rich, our legal system is about forgiveness and light. It seems the rich seldom go to prison and often can buy their way out of any legal difficulties under the sun.

According to the article on CNN, "Two people riding in the bed of the teen's pickup were tossed in the crash and severely injured. One is no longer able to move or talk because of a brain injury, while the other suffered internal injuries and broken bones." I found this chilling, because the young man paralyzed for life due to a brain injury could have been me, if I had been unlucky.

One night when I was nineteen or so, I rode in the back of a pick-up truck with about twelve other guys, just like rednecks the world over, I imagine. We had been drinking, of course. I don't know how much the driver had had but I doubt he was completely sober. I thought it was a stupid idea to go riding around at night with no particular place to go, especially given our state of intoxication, and I said so, but went along in order to remain with my friend, and because I didn't have a ride home. The alternative would have been desertion and possibly a falling-out with my friend.

We were soon pulled over by a cop. Why we were stopped was never made clear. Ever the civil libertarian, I wanted to ask the cop why he stopped us, but my friend told me to keep quiet, which may have been for the best. Amateur lawyers aren't really appreciated by police officers. Having twelve guys in a pickup truck probably violated a traffic safety law.

Our driver transformed from yahoo into polite young gentleman in an instant, smooth with the yessirs and nosirs, and his tone of voice was apologetic, even servile. I feared the cop would take us all to jail, but instead, he seemed to be enjoying himself. He adopted a paternal attitude with the young man, reflecting that he used to do things like ride around at night with his friends raising hell. He wasn't against a little bit o' fun, now and again. However, we had better stay out of his territory, because if he saw us around again, there wouldn't be no second chance. Now get back in the truck, go back where you come from and don't come back, you hear?

In all my days, I never drove under the influence of any substance. I think it's the height of negligence to operate a vehicle under the influence. Some people may think that being a stupid idiot isn't as bad as being evil. In reality, the difference between wickedness and negligence is a very fine point of philosophy that doesn't matter much to the family of the victims. Often, negligence is worse than wickedness. At least wickedness has a plan whereby harm might be reduced and somebody might gain, whereas negligence is chaotic and may result in utter catastrophe for everyone involved.

I think another problem related to DUI is driving while distracted. I know someone who texts while driving, and I think that is an idiotic thing to do, no matter how agile one thinks one's fingers are on the keypad. It is a lottery ticket for catastrophe, and one day, the unlucky number may pop up.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Case of the Runaway Cat

My cat ran away soon after Christmas, just after I had written a post here about what a wonderful relationship I have with my cats. Perhaps there is something to the ancient Greek notion of hubris--that when mortals boast, they tempt the gods to punish.

I did not chase after my cat, although it lingered nearby. Cats prefer familiar surroundings, but if chased, may wander further afield. I did not wish to drive the cat away. It is pointless to try to capture a cat outdoors. Confined quarters are a different matter, but in the outdoors, the cat determines when and where he will meet a human.

I realized the longer the cat was out, the hungrier he would get, and the more he would want to return to the luxury resort of my all-day kitty buffet, with fresh clean water to drink, no neighbor cats to contend with, shelter from the elements and two kind and gentle humans to attend to his every whim.

After a week, the cat found that hunting birds was for the birds. Hunting is a difficult skill that requires training. It is not something that can be readily learned in middle-age by a soft and sedentary housepet. Perhaps this was not obvious to him.

I found him one day in the backyard. He would not let me approach, but walked away and hid under a shed. He seemed weak and unsteady and had lost weight.

The cat could not possibly understand all the reasons I have for wanting him to stay indoors, away from disease-carrying animals, cars, trucks, fleas and other parasites. To the cat, I am a prison warden, whatever my other virtues. His mixed appraisal of me is something I have come to accept. In order to enhance the value, health and well-being of a pet, humans do things that cats may not like or understand. Confinement indoors is one of these things that my cat does not like, because he observes birds from the windows and wants to hunt them. He is hardwired with this great and overriding desire to hunt. Sometimes the impulse is so strong that it can conflict with feelings of loyalty to me.

To remind the cat of the great benefits my regime offers, I left a small amount of his food out in an open cardboard box overnight. Cats have an excellent sense of smell, and I had no doubt he would find his old, familiar food. When I inspected the box the next morning, the food was gone, and the cat was nearby stalking a possum family that lives in a ditch.

I approached the cat slowly and carefully, so as not to spook. He made his usual motions of backing away, but I called to him, using the command I always use when I want him to come to me. A pet responds to its master's voice. If there is a good relationship, then the pet wishes to please its master. Unless the cat were mentally ill, I knew there would be a desire to please me and not run away. I also knew that hunger worked in my favor. I continued speaking to him in a calm and normal manner as I approached. My voice worked like a magical charm. The cat stopped moving, just as I desired.

Surely the cat knew, without any doubt, that I offered food, a full belly, affection and comfortable living. There should never be any doubt about those things. I always reward compliance. I always treat my cat well. This is why the cat allowed me to approach and pick him up and take him back to my house. What a relief it was to have him safe and sound in my arms again! He seemed quite content to be there.

Maybe he needed to learn about the dangers of the outdoors by experience. Perhaps he did not learn at all or will forget the lesson. I am doubtful he will remember. I expect he will always have the desire to go outside and try to hunt birds and other small creatures. My goal is just to protect him as best I can for as long as possible.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Past Lovers

As for past lovers, they are forgettable and regrettable. They allowed me to say, "Well, now I know what all of that's about."

One does not wish to miss out on any of the delicious cake that others are enjoying and praising as the finest cake in the world. Perhaps their cake was overrated, but I had to find out for myself, because everyone is different.

For me, lovers comprised a series of experiments until the final discovery was made, at which point, "Eureka!" Time to publish my papers and mark my discovery before the world.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


No one from either our families will be attending our wedding. Some have sound-seeming reasons, others not, but in all cases, I am not surprised, and would have predicted the same if asked a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago, or thirty years ago.

People will say this and people will say that. People do not understand. I do not make the mistake of expecting people to understand. It is a foolish mistake to make.

A mark will be written in a book for all time. I do what is good and true and right. I am pleased, because I am justified.

And what of them? If they say later, you did not mark my special occasion, then I can say, where were you, when I married my one and only love? You elected not to come. Nor did you wish me well, nor send a card, nor even call on the telephone. So wherefore can you find fault in me, when you did the same? Look instead to the stranger on your left or the stranger on your right, and see whether they will consent to be your family, because that is where I have found mine.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Death Trip

I stopped using marijuana about a year ago.

Using is like diving. One is underwater and may perceive things that are not quite as apparent on the surface. I don't like to stay underwater long. I prefer to come up for air and breathe.

Urinalysis is marijuana's chief liability. Of course, it can be defeated. "Dilute and substitute" is folk wisdom. I've never bothered with subterfuge. I will purify in order to qualify. I went ten years clean at a job with urinalysis, although "clean" must be interpreted as "substituting alcohol for marijuana." Alcohol is a poor substitute. I saw what it did to my supervisor and others. I do not understand what businesses gain by prodding their employees away from marijuana and toward alcohol. I think they lose, if anything. Urinalysis is a strange artifact of modern America. Urinalysis targets marijuana to a much greater extent than anything else. Of course, marijuana equates to poor performance during the high, as laboratory tests verify. All right, but what about alcohol? There are many other substances, and new substances are getting invented all the time. Marijuana is the chief villain to be apprehended in a cup, while meth and coke can slide on by without too much difficulty, after a few days.

My last trip was a death trip. The herb accentuates whatever one's thoughts focus upon. My thoughts were shrouded deep in gloom. I imagined death. I perceived it. The body does not wish to die and rebels at the very suggestion. Death is not a difficult feat to accomplish. We are all hanging by a thread. There is no need to swing from side to side and see whether the thread will break. It might break. The thought of death is not as unpleasant as the thought of the consequences for the living, those that are dear to one, the cherished and beloved. Once dead, one is beyond all power to help and comfort them. One can do no more good, but is rendered useless and unimportant. I suppose that is why people who live alone, without friends or close relations, are more likely to give in to the siren call that sings to all living things.

A superstitious fancy amuses me. Perhaps it is all rot like religion. On the other hand, imagination is fun, and I don't take it very seriously. I like to imagine that usage is a two-way street. A human makes the decision to enter the altered state offered by the herb, but there is a gatekeeper. To my mind, she is a goddess, wise and knowing. Her sex is appropriate, because commercial marijuana derives from the female plant. Sometimes she offers insight on one little matter or another, advice and guidance. If she deems use acceptable at a particular place and time, she grants a good experience. Otherwise, she gives the opposite. In that context, the death trip was a warning, so I have followed the advice of the goddess.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I like the idea of volunteering, but I'm also afraid of it. My fear is that whatever work I do will consume my time and energy and leave me oblivious to money-making and other productive and social opportunities. I'm also afraid there is zero reward to doing things for free, as indeed has been my experience. I have found that if one does things without being asked, even to the point of volunteering hundreds or thousands of hours, and without expecting compensation, then the recipients, instead of being grateful, may feel rather indifferent or even demand more and more, assuming the attitude of a slave-driver rather than a beneficiary. Over time I have developed what I think is a wise and prudent reluctance to making commitments of the free variety. I can't say I never feel drawn to what may be quixotic projects and ideas from time to time, but that voice of caution has only grown more insistent as I've grown older and more experienced. I think I will have to perceive tangible benefits of some kind before I commit to anything.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Mental illness is the worst. Someone dear to my heart remains in this world, living, breathing, and talking, but they are not there, they are only a simulacrum. As was said of such people in times past, they are possessed by a demon. I came to visit a year ago, but my visit was unappreciated, and I don't think it did any good at all. One can be here and not be here, can see and yet not see, can hear and yet not hear. Such a person has left the community of living souls and become a mad hermit, isolated, alone, and lonely, oh, so desperately lonely that they commune with the dead, who are closer to them than the living. When last I visited, the black-and-white photographs of long-gone ancestors were of greater interest than anything I had to say, and when after many hours of listening I made clear I needed to adjourn for lunch, sour resentment was the result.

I wish to visit, but I think such an effort would be wasted and only for my own benefit, but I am not sure whether there is any benefit for myself. My memories are better than the present. I would only be perceived like a distant noise, and all that I said would be either unheard or misinterpreted, and my visit would soon be forgotten.

I am reminded of a coworker who had a mad woman living in his house, his aged mother, whose mind was irreparably gone. In the past, she had been kind, he said, but now, she was possessed by a demon and did everything possible to disrupt and distress. She would throw food at the walls, bang on the walls at night to wake people up, scream, moan, yell, and say hurtful things. He believed it was his moral duty to keep her in his house. He hated his brother for not showing gratitude for his sacrifice and not helping. I sympathized with him and thought him a good and decent man, but I was uncertain regarding the morality, because his mother had lost her wits beyond recovery, and made miserable the life of his entire family. I felt there was not only his mother's welfare to weigh, but also the welfare of his family and even of himself. Self-sacrifice appears noble and good, and it moves me, but can it also be a subtle form of selfishness? I think there is something known as the "martyr complex," wherein one may be too ready and eager to sacrifice, apparently, one's own interests. No sacrifice is free of cost. With each sacrifice, one reduces the capacity to support other good and worthy causes. To sacrifice for one cause is to say that it is worthier than other causes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Namecheap, the Worst Web Hosting Company

Namecheap, Inc. just sent me an invoice for--well, I don't know what. They expect me to pay a bunch of money because, I guess, they need money. I haven't hosted with them in years and my domain is no longer registered with them. I'm not surprised their morals are amiss. Namecheap is possibly the worst web host in existence. Their service was lousy, with unexplained bizarre errors, and their tech support, which I frequently had to use, was foreign, incompetent, unresponsive, and uncaring. I was never so happy as when I abandoned my Namecheap account and moved to a different host, even though it cost me financially to do so. Namecheat is more like it.

The host I recommend is Bluehost, a class act all around. They may be Mormon-owned for all I know, but they do web hosting right, and on the extremely rare occasion that I have needed their tech support, I have talked to real, live American techies on the telephone who know what they are doing. I've never been talking to a Bluehost representative without feeling like they are intelligent and, perhaps more importantly, care. I've used Bluehost for many years. I don't know of any other web host that is as good as they are, although it's true I haven't tried many. Bluehost is even recommended by Wordpress, which I think is very impressive in itself. Their founder runs the entire company on Mac or Linux, scorning Microsoft. I've followed his blog off and on through the years. I doubt we would agree on politics, but as far as computers go, I think we are in agreement.

For the past couple days, my site on Bluehost has become inaccessible around midnight every day without explanation and stays slow until the morning. So I can't recommend Bluehost without reservation. I need to become more cautious about my enthusiasm for things. It seems like the very moment that I praise something, that's when I discover its shortcoming. In the case of Bluehost, I discovered their nightly slowdown about the same time that I renewed for two years. However, I think that this may have been a temporary glitch, possibly due to Wordpress attackers.

If this is the only post any visitor to my blog ever reads, then so much the better. Namecheap caused me hardship with their unexplained errors and incompetent service.

7/30/2013 Update: This post against Namecheap has been attacked on over ten separate occasions by spam comments linking to malware sites that try to infect people's computers with viruses. My policy now is that whenever that happens, this post will be updated to be the front-page, very first post; or else I may post another message about Namecheap and its sleazy, unethical business practices. There's no way that Namecheap can get out of their well-deserved poor reputation. They are going to have to live with it, no matter how many spammers they hire.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is the Supernatural Natural?

I am most tempted to speculate upon the supernatural, that is, magic and ESP and telepathy and gods, when I listen to astrophysicists talk about string theory, time, the multiverse, what happened before the Big Bang, and wormholes. Then I wonder whether all of the tales we have heard are false, or if some of them have a basis in something that is just now only dimly understood.

Lately, when I close my eyes at night, I think back to the prophesy I heard a long time ago that seems to have come true in many respects. It was not a good prophesy on the whole. I wish I had not heard it. I remember asking whether it were possible to defy fate, and the answer I received was in the negative. There is something irresponsible, I think, in a seer telling a person of a future that is inevitable. With great power comes great responsibility. I wonder whether she really saw what she said she saw or if she were merely speculating based upon intuition and intelligent perception. If she did see truly, then how and by what means? I asked this exact question at the time of the reading and received nothing but mumbo-jumbo for an answer.

The NOVA documentaries I watched over the last several nights explained several theories and hypotheses circulating in the world of astrophysics. One of the biggest discoveries that has been made, albeit one that is "old," dating back to Einstein, is that time is relative. Space and time are related, forming the concept known by Einstein as spacetime. I get dizzy thinking about these things. They are so far beyond my comprehension. I can only just grasp the surface of the basic ideas. There are many implications deriving from the relativity of space and time. Thus, my entire lifespan can elapse in a single moment--say, sixty seconds--of an extraterrestrial being living at a vast distance away from me. Therefore, if there were any means whatsoever for communication, images, or knowledge to be transmitted to and from that consciousness to, say, a human being living in my time and sitting beside me holding my hand, then that might be the scientific way for the seer to see. Mumbo-jumbo, or magic, in the common sense of the word, need play no role. Science suffices for an explanation that passes muster with the modern mind. Much of advanced science is as good as magic for most of us, anyway. How many of us could build a computer from scratch or, for that matter, an automobile? Observe that quantum mechanics speculates that teleporting between vast distances is possible. If this is so, why cannot a thought, word or image be transmitted from one brain to another? Would that not be easier?

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Code is Beautiful

I'm the type of programmer that likes to beautify, structure and document my code for no reason other than I like to look over the source code and refine every last detail whether it really matters or not. I think that is taking pride in my work. One advantage is that in looking it over so much, I become very familiar with its ways, so that if I ever have a problem, I can resolve it quickly. And we all know the advantage of structure and documentation, which make one less likely to forget things and faster at apprehending complicated processes. I was looking over my for Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup today, which I updated, and I thought to myself what a work of art that little thing has become. It's a lot better than it has to be. The idea behind the script file is simple and could have been accomplished with 95% less code, but I added bells and whistles to simplify use and maintenance so that it could endure the centuries, so to speak, although that does seem a bit unlikely. I was always that way with code, whether I was coding pages for web sites using html and css in a text editor or backend programs to handle the accounting for a billion-dollar corporation. I remember spending days refining the central program that handled all the accounting processes from A to Z in the company I worked for. It began its life as spaghetti code, and all the programmers hated it, but in particular I was contemptuous of it. Code like that actually offends me and fills me with the compulsion to clean, clean, clean. When I had finished with it, it was highly organized and easier to understand. Instead of looking at it in the middle of the night, say, when the you-know-what had hit the fan due to technical glitches caused by some other process, and wondering what the hell was happening, I or anyone for that matter could just glance at it and understand exactly how things were supposed to work. It had progressed from being crap-code to being a work of art. I believe that programmers should focus on getting things done first, because after all that is the most important thing, but it is also very important to focus on ease of maintenance to ensure that the code will be useful for years to come. There are some systems and programs that even the end user can tell are based upon very refined code, because of the way they work and the absence of bugs, and even when bugs do arise they magically seem less in severity.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Vampire Dream

Today was Friday the Thirteenth, after all.

The night before, I went to bed late, around 0500, and had a nightmare that derived from "True Blood." Vampires were stalking my friends and I, and we were hiding out in different houses to escape, but somehow they would find us. I don't remember blood-drinking, a vampire-myth that I always found implausible, but they drained our life-force by painful touch. Each vampire had marked one of us for his own. In our absence, each vampire would starve, because they could only feed upon us and no one else. Starvation caused the vampire to lose their looks and become hideous, monstrous, savage-looking, which made them scarier. When they fed upon us, they recovered their looks. I remember the dreadful knocking on the door and then the door being opened and the monster coming in to find his prey and feed.

I awoke and found it most curious that I was dreaming about vampires, but then again, I had spent much of the night before playing Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, and my player-character happens to be a Demonspawn Necromancer that had mastered a spell known as Vampiric Draining. I achieved final victory with this character in "The Pits" scenario of Sprint.

Later in the day, I found myself alone in a big empty building that is supposedly haunted by a noisy ghost. My friends have sworn that they have seen and heard this ghost. Of course I am skeptical, but I kept my skepticism to myself, because I have learned that people who believe in ghosts do not like to hear the opinions of those that do not. It is the same with religion. No believer really wants to hear the opinions of an atheist, especially not in person. In social settings, my object is to get along with people, not to persuade them of my beliefs. This blog is like the vault for my private opinions and philosophy.

I was asked if I felt scared to be working in the haunted building all alone, and I replied I was not. I thought to myself that if I saw a ghost, it would be a very good thing, because it would serve as a refutation of my opinions, and I would welcome the evidence. I would not say that a ghost is proof of the afterlife, because it could be many other things, but I would like very much to see one, even if I would feel frightened. I am willing to feel frightened if the reward is seeing something far out of the ordinary that will give me new knowledge. There was a time in my life when I called upon deities and certain supernatural beings to reveal themselves to me in any fashion whatsoever, but they did not choose to trifle with me. A supernatural event might have led me to belief, but such did not come.

I did not hurry and was not timid when I worked tonight. But I did not see or hear a ghost nor anything out of the ordinary. I believe the human brain is very creative and imaginative, and sometimes I wonder about ghosts, and I am willing to meet one, but I never have, and so I do not believe in ghosts.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Twenty Pounds

With age comes the retirement of the pleasures of youth and discovery of other pleasures, those more suited to age. I came to the conclusion today that I need to lose twenty pounds. It was like a revelation to me, a certainty that that was the right thing to do. I feel that my old ticker will be better off for it. Having given up alcohol, the next logical step is to abandon candy and sweet drinks. People give these things to me sometimes, especially at work. I have to learn to either say no or else dispose of the unwanted gifts discreetly.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Folly of Volunteering

I need to tone down my enthusiasm. I often find that I link to a site, promote it in forums, recommend it to friends--all for free naturally--and then sometime later, the site changes policy and jabs a thorn in my side (userstyles), or deletes my account without warning (project honeypot), or goes down for good (the 'tree). I have no luck with my recommendations AT ALL. I have no luck with volunteering my time or talents. Usually when I volunteer, I wind up in the end feeling like a fool. I think the best thing to recommend is a dead author. That way, one will never be disappointed.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Homage to Ibuprofen

I have a secret. My favorite drug is ibuprofen. It makes me feel so good. As far as I'm concerned, the fountain of youth is ibuprofen. That and a competent, non-drowsy antihistamine are the primary drugs I would need on a desert island.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Like

Usually I blog about things I hate. Today, for variety, I blog about things I like.

I like to watch drag, dance, comedy, drama, and documentaries, not necessarily in that order.

I like to fool around with linux, even though I'm the only one I know that does.

I like to play weird, off-the-wall openings in Chess. The weirder, the better, in my book.

I like to cooperate with people and give them good advice. It may be that the only purpose in life is to spread a little bit of wisdom and sunshine here and there.

I like to get paid for doing work that I enjoy, rare enough though that is.

I like to have a lot of that sort of work.

I like to play some of the most difficult races in Dungeon Crawl, such as troll and mummy, just to see if I can win with one of these "impossible" races.

I like to fight crime by working on security for web sites.

I like to discover that strangers are actually good people with good intentions, rather than something else.

I like to avoid complications.

I like reading.

I like cats.

I prefer winter to summer, cold to hot, spicy to plain, and bitter to sweet.

I like zombie movies, and I've finally come around to liking Game of Thrones.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wordpress Security Vs. Wordpress Search Ranking

Wordpress security is sometimes at loggerheads with a site's search ranking. There are many tricks and tips recommended by security wonks that will actually decrease a site search ranking, such as banning all hits to xmlrpc.php, or disallowing various paths in robots.txt. I've experimented over the last several days and learned what works and what is counter-productive. I do not believe it is wise to ban hits to xmlrpc.php, and I do not think web admins should second-guess Google when it comes to directing robots. Google knows what it is doing, for the most part, and additional rules make Google angry, in a manner of speaking. I watched my site plummet from #2 in search rankings for a particular term to #5 after adding a lot of rules to robots.txt. Needless to say, I yanked those rules right out!

There is such a thing as having enough or even too much security. With regular backups of the database and the files, I am not inclined to follow all of the recommendations set forth by Perishable Press, one of the few sites I regularly follow. I view Perishable's advice in the way of guidelines and educational material. The author has a knack for explaining technical issues without resorting to jargon, with a humorous style reminiscent of Stephen King--the American vernacular, gotta love it--and he offers excellent examples on .htaccess. He is my "go-to" site when I am confused about arcane .htaccess syntax, which is often, because .htaccess syntax is unintuitive. I use some of his security tips, but not all, because some cause problems. I am also concerned that perhaps other problems may be created that I cannot detect, problems that may become evident in the future after I add a new plug-in or there's a new update to Wordpress.

Perishable's .htaccess code is sometimes compressed in a way that makes it difficult to debug or understand what is being done. Perhaps that is a form of showing off or maybe the intention is for the code to execute faster, but I'd prefer to sacrifice efficiency for readability and ease of maintenance.

I am no stranger to compressing code. I won a little contest back in the '80s, getting my name and program published in a national magazine. The challenge was to code a BASIC program that did something cool in only one line. Each BASIC statement could be separated by a colon (:), and GOTO 0 was allowed. But was this a useful or helpful skill? Maybe. This sort of experience may have helped me become a better maintainer of other people's spaghetti-code programs, which comprised a large portion of my career. I rarely had difficulty finding and fixing bugs.

I think Apache wrote the language for .htaccess back when every byte mattered, and in order to save a couple bytes, they made the language cryptic and anti-human. I much prefer languages such as COBOL, batch/script, or BASIC for their sheer readability. I never was a fan of C++, even if it is twice as fast. In my opinion, buy a faster computer, if you need speed. When programming languages are easier to understand and to code, then greater deeds may be wrought by human minds and with far fewer bugs. That's my philosophy about programming. I have indeed worked with extremely cryptic computer programming languages--assembler, no less. I am merely stating my own preference as a programmer and user. It's nice to be able to look at source code and figure out what is going on in just a few moments. Maybe my opinion does not dovetail with job security for those programmers already entrenched in cryptic languages, but it seems rather obvious to me.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dreaming of My Enemy

I dreamed of my enemy last night. Why, I don't know. I haven't seen him in twenty years. Maybe he died, and his passing somehow touched my unconscious. Don't scoff at my supernatural hypothesis, reader. There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy. His father died early of a heart attack, and so perhaps now that he is reaching the same age as his father. . .

He isn't my enemy any longer, of course. Twenty years has a way of erasing such distinctions, at least for me, and for the relatively mild wrongs wrought by that nothing. I don't care enough about him to even search the Internet and find out what he is up to. I've tracked down others--old flames, friends, and acquaintances, out of curiosity in the past, but once my curiosity was sated, I always had the feeling of "so what?" It doesn't really matter what they are doing now, or whether they are not doing at all--whether they are dead. Once so many years pass by, then people are strangers, whatever they might have been before. Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder after all.

He was hell on wheels back in the day, and I used to think of him as my archenemy, as indeed he was for a time, but then we got older and ceased to care. The last interaction I remember with him, he was standing by the side of the road. His car had a flat tire, and he did not know what to do. The fool hadn't carried a spare like I always have done. He probably did not know how to change tires. I said not a word, but kept on walking. He could read the look on my face well enough to gather that I wouldn't have lifted a finger to help him. That was what impressed me the most about him, that he could appreciate the consequences of his past actions.

What was my dream about? I don't recall. Maybe it was an erotic dream. He wasn't bad-looking, as enemies go. I don't remember him having a girlfriend, even though he trumpeted his homophobia to everyone, like a pathetic badge of honor. I thought for sure he was a closet case. He palled around with the best-looking guy in school, his very best friend, and didn't spend any time with girls at all. There always seemed something fake to me about his loud avowals of desire for females. I have known a lot of straight guys in my day, and they didn't feel the need to run down gays.

The night before, I think I dreamed about the upcoming phone interview on Friday. I remember a strong premonition that things would not go well. The tension caused a spasm in my left calf, which woke me up. The muscle was like a rock. It was bruised the next day from the long-lasting spasm. I detest spasms, but they do occur on rare occasion, the body turning on its owner.

I don't think much of that premonition, because almost all phone interviews go ill. Phone interviews are just a quick and cheap way of weeding people out, when somebody has a ton of applications. The odds are all against a phone interview. If somebody is serious, they will meet in person.

What use are premonitions if they foresee likely events? I want a premonition that will make me rich or give me an opportunity to work and earn money. That's the kind of premonition I desire. I don't trust poor psychics. And I don't see why psychics would need to sell their services. I don't want premonitions of unhappy events, either. No more damn spasms. I want premonitions of good things that could happen to me, if I do a, b, and c.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Peace Treaty with Spiders

I have known a lot of spider-killers in my day, and I wonder if they realize what good creatures spiders are, taking care of the little bugs for us. I have a peace treaty with spiders. If they are non-poisonous and stay out of the way, live and let live. The only spiders I would kill would be the brown recluse or black widow, which can cause immense suffering to human beings. I look for the hourglass mark, the sign of the black widow. I've found them on rare occasion in the garden. Poisonous spiders seem rare overall. The recluse really is a recluse, after all. However, spiders become annoying when they build webs in the hallways or living room. If spiders can't abide by simple household rules, they have to be ejected to the outdoors.

I saw a centimeter-sized specimen crawling along my wall this afternoon near my water pitcher. The thought occurred to me that perhaps I am not the only user of my water pitcher. I wonder what the water requirements of a spider are. Probably a sip once a month suffices. Upon reflection, I'm not willing to share my water with a spider. I think my open pitcher must be retired. It can be used to water plants, but not for human consumption. Live and let live does not mean we share water together.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions