Good and bad bits. First the good:

I received my early Christmas present and am now the proud owner of a Netgear wireless router. Both Linksys and Netgear had good ratings and recommendations, but I found that Netgear was rated a tad better for installation ease.

Easy! I was finished networking three laptops to a wireless router in twenty minutes. And it works beautifully. I’ll have to check out the range outside tomorrow, look up the warchalk symbols and chalk up my neighborhood. Thanks to you who provided good suggestions and recommendations.

I also found a new host. After looking around I decided to go with Hosting Matters. They’re highly rated and provide good value for the money. In particular, the bandwidth was better than most providers. The other recommendations were good, but Hosting Matters met our needs the best. Thanks to all those folks kind enough to make suggestions.

For moving the webogs, instead of trying to use Movable Type’s import/export procedure, I’m using MySql’s mysqldump utility to dump the database. I tested this out moving the weblog from my FreeBSD server to my laptop and had no problems. I’m still following Jonathon’s “born again blog” approach, but I’ll hold on the re-birth process until after I move to the new server.

Now the bad news: I didn’t get a job I was hoping to get. I gather that the group was concerned about my having been unemployed for almost a year — working on three books just doesn’t cut it here in Missouri. Neither does weblogging experience, and screwing with RSS and RDF, or my other tinkerings. A bit frustrating because I didn’t choose to be unemployed — it just kind of happened.

I’m still up for another gig, but not sure if the down time is going to be a concern for them, too. I hope not. Sincerely hope not.

This has me tense, stressed, very worried, and I’m sorry to say, a whole lot crankier than my usual firey self. And more than a little depressed. So, time to take a few days, work on the server move, the book, and generally have some quiet time.

However, I will leave you some pretty pictures to look at, once I get them packaged.

Next week then.


Big dog blues

I called my mother yesterday to wish her happy birthday. She told me that last Friday when she was out walking her two poodles, Amy and Crissy, a big dog ran through an open gate and attacked Amy. It got her by the throat and tried to shake her to death. Mom said it took the owner and another person walking by to open the dog’s mouth enough to free Amy. Amazingly enough, after stiches, Amy’s going to be fine.

Today when I went for my walk in Powder Valley to enjoy the fall color (photos a bit later), a couple and two large dogs entered the trail. One of the dogs saw me and started growling. Since it wasn’t leashed, and was closer to me then its owner, I was beginning to wonder if this would a case of Amy redux, but the dog didn’t attack.

Powder Valley isn’t a park. It’s a nature preserve and study center. Last week during a twilight walk of the trail I was able to meet up with deer not once but many times, in some cases only 7 or 8 feet away. One reason I can have this experience is that dogs are not allowed — dogs bark, they chase things, and, occasionally, they kill things.

I told the couple that dogs weren’t allowed, and they ignored me. However, after my insistent third repitition, the woman finally looked at me said they wouldn’t let the dogs hurt anything, and kept walking.

Uh huh. Right.

I hoofed it up to the center, found one of the employees and told them two big dogs were running unleashed along the trails. Last I saw, she was heading for the trails. Very unhappy.

I love dogs, I really do. You’ve read in this weblog about my walks among the dog people in San Francisco, and I considered the experience a high treat. However, the beach there was an open and unleashed dog area. In addition, the dogs there were very sociable — they didn’t go up to strangers and growl at them.

However, in Missouri I’ve twice encountered big dogs running unleashed that have come up to me and growled. And I really don’t care if the owners yell out, “It’s okay, they won’t hurt you.” A growling dog is a dangerous dog.

The dogs are just being dogs. But there’s no excuse for the people. Dogs should be kept on a leash except in areas where dogs are allowed loose or in your own yard.

I know that many folks don’t like poodles, and I’m normally not a poodle person. But my Mom is rather attached to that little ball of fluff. And what if Amy had been a little two year old kid? A dog that will attack another dog can as easily attack other creatures, including humans. They need to be controlled.

And since this is a weblog, might as well mention cats. We have what is called a “bird friendly” cat. This means Zoe stays inside. We make sure she gets plenty of playing time, but we won’t let her outside. I learned the lesson about keeping my cats inside when we came home one day and I found my beloved Twirp by the side of the road, dead.

Just Shelley

Happy All Hallows Eve

halloweenToday is my favorite holiday, Halloween. Forget reality for a day and be an astronaut if you want, against a backdrop of crisp fall weather, spiced apple cider, colorful leaves, and flickering lights stuffed into a gourd.

A few years ago we spent Halloween at Salem, and that was interesting — a bit of hokey fun to go with the very real history of the Salem witchcraft trials. Other years I used to go to parties on Halloween night, but no longer. Today, I’ll go for a walk during the day, enjoy the decorations and the fall colors. Tonight, I’ll hand out candy, though I wonder if we’ll even have trick-or-treaters this year.

I used to love dressing up for Halloween, but not every one does. Shannon wrote in her weblog about having to dress up for her job at a restaurant, something she wasn’t particularly happy about. I suggested she go as a health inspector.

As for my own costumes through the years, I’ve done the usual: princess, hobo, witch, and drunken teenager (wait a sec — that one was real). Not terribly original. However, a couple of Halloweens I did wear fairly unique costumes, or at least, I thought they were unique.

halloweenWhen I was 12, I dressed up as a voodoo doll. I cut a hole in a sheet, and covered it with garish symbols and signs. I then tied a pillow underneath the sheet in the front, and carried around a box of stick pins and let people stick me.

When I was 21, I dressed as a huge green butterfly. I made gossamer green wings 6ft wide that I tied to me at neck and waist. I then wore a green t-shirt, shorts, and nylons, and spray painted my hair silver. To finish the look, I made sparkly antenna, and glued sequins to my face. It was hell getting on the bus to work, but the passengers were great help, and we all had fun.

When we were kids, sometimes we’d go to parties, and dunk for apples, and pin tails on the donkey, and have pumpkin carving contests. I imagine that kids today are too sophisticated for this type of silliness, but it was so much fun. And the trick-or-treating! Running up to each house, opening your bag, yelling out “Trick or Treat!”.

I went trick-or-treating with my brother and his friend once. I must have been young, very young. We went up to a house and Michael had me knock on the door. An older man answered and I said, “Trick or Treat!” The man gave me an evil grin and said in sepulcher tones, “Wait here, and I’ll get the knife.”

As I stood there in confusion, my brother yelled out, “Quick Shell! Run for your life! Run! Run!” I ran and ran and ran, in absolute terror.

(You know, my brother was a real asshole at that age.)

Another time my mother couldn’t take I or my brother into town for trick-or-treating so we tried to trick-or-treat at the farms surrounding us. One of the closest was just down below us, through a patch of trees near the river. When our neighbor answered the door, he was surprised to see us as most people weren’t expecting kids that far in the country. He didn’t have any candy, so he invited us in and hunted around and found cocoa and marshmallows, crisp apples, and pretzels.

He made us a little feast, and as we sat and nibbled and sipped, he told us one of his favorite ghost stories — one scary enough to be fun, but not too scary for walking home through the woods when we left.


Just Shelley

Pot o’Gold

Dark and difficult day and evening with much to work through. Walking around with a cloud over my head and rain in my eyes, and then I visit Shannon and I stumble on to a pot of gold.

Lovely music. Lovely, lovely music. The result of a musical collaboration between two webloggers who have never met: Shannon and Scott Andrew LePera.

Thank you for brightening my day, Shannon and Scott. And Shannon, congratulations on your upcoming performance with the 2003 Tori Amos Tribute.

Burningbird Weblogging

A start over

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

As with Chris this weblog could go dark around the 4th of November if I can’t get everything moved and set up at a new host quickly enough. I still don’t have a new host yet and a few I have chatted with aren’t necessarily comfortable hosting a “cheap” site that has been slashdotted (i.e. mega-hits within a very short time period). Will I be slashdotted again? I’m writing a sequel to “Parable of the Languages”, but it, like many other sequels, could die an ignoble death. Quick answer: hard to say.

I’m also merging several individual web sites into one (,,, and are being merged), though the weblog will stay at The result of this effort means I’ll have some pretty ugly pages and a bit of a mess for a while, but can’t be helped. Can’t spend too much time on this as have to concentrate on paying tasks. Must get money. Money good. Need money.

I wasn’t sure about what to do with the Movable Type move because I have gaps in the weblog page numbers. When re-importing the exported entries, the numbers won’t match and links will get broken. However, I read Jonathon’s plan of copying the individual archives over as is into the previous archives directory, editing the exported data to remove ones I don’t want to keep, and then, after re-importing the modified list of posts, directing archiving to a new location.

That is a plain, good, excellent, outstanding idea! Who says eye candy people can’t think like metal to the core programmers?

With Jonathon’s approach, I can change my individual archives to an .html extension, getting rid of the PHP overhead, and still keep PHP for the main page (index.php). For those archived pages that are being retained in the new weblog, I’ll delete the pages in the old archives, and use an error handler program to map the old pages to the new. (Accessing the old pages will trigger a 404 error, which, in turn, triggers my error handler.)

As much as I like Jonathon’s plan for handling synchronization problems with a Movable Type weblog move, what’s even more intriguing with his approach is his using this time to re-focus his weblog, and literally removing entries that don’t match this focus. The old archives will be there so links won’t break, but someone new will only see those entries that reflect Jonathon’s new focus.

The idea of a weblog start over is outside the “way we do things”, which is probably why I like it so much. And it’s really no different than the opportunities that face us when we move to a new community.

When we move to a new town or city, especially one where we don’t know people, we can re-define what we are. For instance, want to party less? Then re-define yourself as a quieter person in your new home. Want to be more outgoing? Again, re-define yourself and act more outgoing with new people. Since people will only see this behavior, and act accordingly, we’re re-inforced and the behavior becomes more natural.

(As an example, years ago when I lived in Seattle the first time, I couldn’t speak in front of people to save my life. It was terririble — if I was faced with more than four people, I literally couldn’t speak. When I moved to Yakima to attend college, I was determined to overcome this, so the first thing I did was take a speech class. The second thing I did was run for student body President (I lost, in case you’re curious). I forced myself into positions of public speaking, and since people only saw this aspect of me (not my former shyness), my new behavior was reinforced. Now, I love public speaking and regret that I couldn’t get to any conferences this year to indulge.)

The thought of applying this re-definition to our weblogs is unique, and interesting, and opens up a host of new possibilities beyond just cosmetic changes, or changes in technology. Weblog start overs — a new trend perhaps?

(I just wish I could erase incidents from the past as easily as I could drop old postings. There was the time with the water cooler full of margaritas…)