Archives for month 01 of 2021
Posted on 1/4/2021 in News | 0 comments
Maintaining a personal website, as with anything, has its pros and cons. The desire to have an online presence hasn’t changed since those early days in 2000. I like having the space to write, experiment with coding, post photos, etc. But liking something and actually doing it are different beasts. Over the years I have to admit that I wasn’t diligent about keeping Expression Engine, which is the software that powers the website, up to date. This means that when the hosting company made some changes to the way it handles files some months ago, my outdated copies of EE just stopped working.
I didn’t worry too much about it for several reasons:
- I wasn’t using the site much; the only section that was getting regular updates was the weekly game
- I (mistakenly) assumed that updating things would be simple.
- I didn’t properly anticipate how little interest and energy I would have during a pandemic to making the needed changes.
So, after months of trying to cobble time here and there to get things back the way they once were (except with updated guts) I had to admit that setting things up exactly the way I wanted just was not going to happen. So I simplified the idea. The game and the blog, which used to live on their own domains, are back under the main URL. Something that hasn’t happened since the mid-2000s I think. What’s old is new again, I suppose.
I tried out different content management systems in my attempts to put things back together but I just don’t have the bandwidth that I used to have to learn new things. Gone are the days when I would spend hours, whole weekends, teaching myself how to make my site do what I wanted. Now those are hours are spent taking care of a incredibly cute, curious and very mobile toddler. And when that’s not happening I’m vegging out in front of the TV or in a book, trying to steal a little rest from work and childcare.
But I do still want to have a space to write so here we are. It’s bare bones, using the default EE templates. I have this thought that I’ll spruce things up a bit but we’ll see. I’m trying to remind myself that what matters most is just getting back into the habit of writing. A bare bones, simple site facilitates that just as well as something with more bells and whistles, right?
Posted on 1/11/2021 in Books | 1 comment
I have been trying to get through The Brothers Karamazov for probably two decades now. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve started it. I do know that one time I read about a third of the book before I lost it in a move. (I lost a whole box of some of my favorite books during the same move; a fact that still causes me pain to this day but that’s not the point of the post.)
People ask me why I keep trying to finish this book; they tell me life is too short to force oneself to read books, even if the book is a classic. I had a doctor once tell me, when she saw the book in my hand, “I am Russian and I am telling you, do not read that. He was crazy.” The thing is, I do like the story. I do like the writing. It’s just dense. That magical time when I read about a third of the book, I still had no clue who killed the father. I am not giving anything away here. You learn early on that one of the three brothers kills the father. Three hundred some pages in and not one clue! How is that possible?! I have read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Idiot and found both to be great reads. I’m not sure what the difference between the three books is - maybe it’s just that as I’ve gotten older my attention span has shortened and dense reads make for really, really slow going.
It’s been so long since I last picked up the book that I’m realizing I will have to start over from page one. I don’t mind - as I said, I do l like the book. But I am awfully tired of having it get the better of me so I’ve resolved that this will be the year it is finally finished. So with this entry I announce my intentions - every day I will read at least three pages. If the mood and time permits I can read more but it has to be at least three pages a day. This means it will potentially take me all year to finish the book, if I only read the minimum but we’re all about manageable goals this year so that’s okay.
So, periodically I will provide updates. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?
Posted on 1/17/2021 in News | 0 comments
When I set up my first “real” blog aka hosted on my own domain, using a content management system I had installed, I took the time to develop a commenting policy. I remember spending time on that, wanting it to be fair but also clear in that I wouldn’t allow people to get out of line. The amusing thing about this, now and then, is that no one knew I was setting up a blog. I told very few people I knew offline (or as we used to say back then, ‘in real life’.) But I wanted to be ready when the comments started rolling in. Even at my blogging peak, comments rarely rolled in. At best they trickled. Once spammers got good at their craft the comments were more often spam than an actual response to anything I’d written.
I’m reminded of that as I work on the back end of the site; again I’ve told few people I’ve restarted the blog and I haven’t set up a way to track web traffic so I’ve no clue if anyone is stopping by. The spam, however, is hitting every day. So I’ve been playing around with ways to block that annoyance. I briefly considered turning on the CAPTCHA option but opted to not do it when I read the disclaimer in the EE manual about how CAPTCHAs can be hard for folks with visibility issues. I have no true expectation to be getting many comments. I have no idea if anyone who does stop by to comment will have issues using the CAPTCHA and yet - on the chance that someone wants to contribute a response it seems unwelcoming to put up barriers.
This is the way my brain works. As people have often told me, I over think things. I do. I can’t even say I would want it to be any different. Under thinking things doesn’t seem terribly appealing actually.
So, the comments are open albeit through moderation. An annoying compromise.
Posted on 1/23/2021 in Dailies | 0 comments
I got my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine today. I don’t know why I feel as if I shouldn’t share that. Maybe I’ve seen too many people on social media posting about their vaccines along with messages that they didn’t jump the line or they got it because of their job, etc. As if the ability to get vaccinated quickly needs to be justified.
I’ve had several people ask me how I managed to get an appointment so fast, or what my hook up was.
Timing and an underlying health condition is my response. The day I heard that Va would be expanding the criteria to include people with underlying health conditions I logged on to the health department’s website for the county in which I work. After reading the message about the long wait there I went next to the health department in the county in which I live. There I was able to add myself to the list even before the website information had been updated to the new expanded criteria. I did it not expecting to hear anything back for days. To my surprise I received a message from the CDC to create a profile on the VAMS website that same night. At first I thought it was SPAM because the CDC email seemed a tad informal. After doing a little Googling I decided it was the real thing. I created a profile and after bumping around the site for a little while I was able to get an appointment for this morning.
The day after getting my appointment I started seeing the news stories about how the federal government had misrepresented the amount of vaccine it had in reserves. Well, I thought, so much for my appointment. For the last week and a half I’ve been expecting to get a notice that my appointment had been cancelled.
Thankfully that did not happen and getting the shot this morning went quite smoothly. All told it was about a 30 minute experience, including the 15 minute wait time afterwards to ensure that I didn’t have any immediate negative effects. So far there is only a slight discomfort in the upper arm, and a mild headache. But as we know, I suffer from chronic headaches so it’s hard to know if today’s headache is vaccine related or just a regular ol’ headache, it’s a day that ends in Y kind of headache.
Before I left the clinic they asked me to sign up with the CDC V-Safe app which they will use to monitor my reaction to the vaccine. Today’s check in was pretty uneventful. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Posted on 1/29/2021 in DailiesParenting | 0 comments
I was never really taught to cook. Not really. Unless we count that one quarter in 7th grade Home Ec where I mistook salt for sugar and made the nastiest pie ever imagined. Maybe that’s why I don’t like pie? Regardless, let’s not count that quarter because other than the awful pie I don’t remember a single other thing I was taught.
And so I’ve stumbled along in the kitchen, at once wishing I were more comfortable there but also not having a tremendous desire to get better. Until a year ago.
Once the baby entered my life it seemed like a good time to get comfortable in the kitchen. One, because I’m told feeding babies is looked upon as a good thing and two, joking aside, I would like to pass on a better relationship to food to her. And that, in my head, meant that I needed to get serious about cooking - I certainly have no illusions about this task. I hardly have visions of being Julia Child. I just need enough dishes in the rotation to not have anyone groan and say, “We had that three days this week!”
I’m 47 years old so, yes, I have spent time in the kitchen but let me put it this way, at no point have I ever considered inviting anyone over for dinner or have volunteered to make anything for a potluck. I don’t think people should suffer what normally passes as dinner fare in my place. My cooking is to put it kindly - serviceable. More often than not whatever I make is well done because I lose interest or just forget.
But that’s the past. We are living in the now. And in this ever changing world, the present includes me making chicken soup - almost like they make it back home in El Salvador.
On Monday I decided I wanted soup but, of course, didn’t have the necessary ingredients so we made a quick trip to the store. By the time we got home, however, it was too late to start the soup and have it in time for the kiddo’s dinner. So I put it off to the next day. The next day I discovered I’d forgotten several of the vegetables. I could have still made it but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Given that we’re still living through a pandemic, another trip out wasn’t in the cards so I placed a grocery delivery order. Finally, Wednesday we had soup. I know this happens to everyone at some time or other but in my head all the missteps just add to my feeling of not being adept in the kitchen.
So along with my cooking skills needing to get better, my self-perception will have to change as well. Why is everything work??
Thursday, on a whim, I decided to make pupusas. This is noteworthy for me because when I’m going to make something it usually entails so much thought. Can I do it? Do I want to? Let’s look at the 100th YouTube video to make sure I know what I’m doing.
But I’ve attempted pupusas enough that the process is pretty clear in my head. The technique still needs work but at least I’m realistic enough to know that even getting to good is going to require some effort. Skilled and consistently delicious? Well, let’s keep that dream on the back burner for now.
The pupusas came out pretty good. Probably the best batch I’ve made so far. It’s progress that I consistently think each batch is better than the one before.
So, in my basic cookbook, we have chicken soup and pupusas (let’s count the curtido as a separate thing, shall we?). It’s not enough to open a restaurant but it’s a solid start. If I keep this up, by the time she’s ten I’ll have 20 whole dishes down! Exciting.