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.