remembrances of things not so past…


On the fifth anniversary of September 11, I wrote about what I saw and experienced that day, living in New York and seeing the buildings on fire. Not on TV, but actually from the street. And then on TV, because that’s how we share experiences as Americans. I was by no means nearest or most affected by the events, but like every New Yorker who was here on that day, it will always be a part of me. I sometimes find myself stopped in my tracks by a random thing. Yesterday I got weepy several times for “no reason”.

As we move further and further away from the day, some of the continued reminiscences begin to feel maudlin. like rubbernecking. I don’t want to begrudge people who don’t live here, who never lived here, their own feelings, but there are times when I start to get offended by the meme-ification of the events scattered through various feeds, most often seemingly posted by people from far-off locations, and then I try to stop myself, because it was such an overwhelming event and people have their own ways of dealing with things. The New Yorkers post tangible, sometimes terrible, actual memories, because we have those, not that we want them.

Things that made me cry yesterday, in order…

– Completely randomly, based on my OCD podcasting queue habits, when I got on the subway yesterday morning, Episode 4 of Mystery Show started playing. The description in the link is intentionally vague (I had no idea what it would be about when it started), and if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip to the next bullet. The episode involves Starlee trying to solve her own mystery – of a license plate that she saw that read “I Luv 911”. Did it refer to EMS? a radio station? or well, 9/11? A lot of people have theories, and the fact that the conclusion made me cry on yesterday of all days should probably clue you in to the answer.

– Towards the end of the day, Sars posted her fourteenth anniversary essay on the events. And the fact that she never found Don. And that she even considered, yes, contacting Mystery Show to look into it. I commented on the post itself, but the essay, plus the callback to my own morning, left me a little weepy.

– And then, of course, on the heels of renewing my commitment to photography, I dragged my camera to work yesterday with the intention of finding some spot to actually take some good pictures of the tribute in lights. I think I’ve gotten one halfway-decent iPhone photo of the lights up until now. After doing a little online research, I decided to head over to Roosevelt Island. I figured downtown and Brooklyn Bridge Park would be too crowded, and there was just no chance I was going to New Jersey. There was a lot of opportunity to simply stand around and wait, in relative quite and solitude, and it was the right choice. (Side note – the last time I went to Roosevelt Island, the half surrounding the old smallpox hospital was all overgrown brush. It’s now been converted into a quite lovely park and they are still developing a whole “Four Freedoms” center on the island. The only downside is that I couldn’t get a good shot of the Pepsi sign because access to the path to get a good shot was behind a locked gate at this hour).

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instagram roundup – january


For 2015, I decided to finally get on board the instagram wagon. I’ve been a holdout because I’ve had issues with their user terms, but at a certain point, when everyone else in the world is using the service, and my photography has fallen off a cliff because I’m not using the same sharing service as everyone else…well… So January was a slow start, a bit of testing the waters. I’ve set things up so that my pics get cross-posted to twitter and Facebook and flickr already, but I thought it would be good to do a monthly roundup of what I’ve posted back here on ye old blogging platform, just to keep this space going. I joked the other day that I should just rename my website “cats and coffee” (my friend Adam appended “and customer complaints”, which I thought was pretty spot on).

Visit my instagram page to see everything

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proto-blogging | 365:048


Back in the dark days before blogging was a widespread “thing”, and well before there were smartphones and tablets and other machines with the type of portability that allowed for being brought along on bicycle trips through europe, there was a thing called “writing” in “journals”.

Cleaning out all of my shelves yesterday, I found my travel journal from my bike trip through France and Switzerland back in 1999. There was one guy on the trip who would periodically check his email – by tracking down an internet cafe and paying for 20 minutes of use once every couple of days.


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So much for that…


A few months ago, I integrated a photo-selling service onto the site. Well, this morning, I got an email telling me that they were not only doubling and tiering their pricing structure, but that it was going to happen in less than 2 weeks, AND that we would both be forced to pre-pay for the prints before getting paid ourselves and that we would have to use PayPal or some service called stripe that I had never heard of. Oh, and the announcement email didn’t even have all the detail. It’s ‘coming soon’. Presumably some time between now and the change on October 10!

I liked fotomoto precisely because it didn’t require PayPal, which I avoid at all costs if it can be helped (sometimes it can’t, but I continue to use an “unverified” account in these circumstances because I will never, ever, give them access to my bank account information, so getting paid from PayPal would obviously turn into a giant headache).

I don’t have a problem, philosophically, with price increases or tiered pricing by themselves, but the short window is obviously a big issue, particularly for more active users who have done things like publish their price lists. It’s the timeframe (I’ll barely have enough time to get the code off my site this weekend before the deadline), and the forced use of a super-problematic service like PayPal that are forcing my hand.

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Labor Day Weekend (and tech issues)


So, I finally decided to download my photos from Labor Day weekend, given that it’s almost November and I haven’t even put up a post since September. I’ll blame that part on the whole ‘having a job’ thing, even though, truth be told, I do have my weekends free. I’m just lazy.

But that started me down a wonderful journey of discovering that there was some sort of script error in my blog installation, which forced me to spend the last three hours venturing further down the rabbit hole of wordpress reinstallations, backups, “emergency” password fixes after wordpress decided to no longer recognize me…fun stuff.

it all appears to be (hopefully) working again, at least insofar as I can actually log in and write a post, but I had to delete a lot of plugin customizations particularly around stats. Not that anyone reads this thing anyway, so I guess that’s no great loss!

Anyway…on to the original point of this post. Labor Day weekend, as usual, was spent in the Berkshires. This year it was very rainy, so we ventured up to The Clark in Williamstown to check out some of the art. The coolest thing was an exhibit by El Anatsui, a Ghanaian artist who refashions the multitude of liquor bottles foisted upon the local population into beautiful wall hangings. So this is mostly that. As always, click on the thumbnail to get the full image.

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making a few changes around the blog. I still liked the old theme, but it had gotten cluttered up with a bunch of stuff in the sidebar that was slowing down the whole thing, so I wanted to start over with something pretty stripped down – and when I saw the min theme, I thought it would be perfect. I’ve spent the morning cleaning things up and making a few tweaks under the hood, but the essential sidebar stuff is now down at the bottom, and I’ve included links to things like goodreads, flickr and the like, but I’m no longer putting the resource hogging plugins down there, since they cause the site to take forever to load.

In addition, I’ve finally figured out how to bring back comment registration (I had apparently unchecked a box somewhere, and it made everything disappear), so now you’ll have to register to comment on the site. You, being, of course, the three people who have commented in the last year, even without registration. But it should help slow down the torrent of spam comments that I seem to get on a daily basis, which is just annoying. Particularly if I don’t check in for a few days.

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365:142-147 (missing)


I have to admit that I kind of fell down on the job, 365-wise, for the past week. I don’t know if it was the mid-winter doldrums, or the fact that I was busy with other stuff, or just ennui, but somehow, a whole week went by and I didn’t take any pics. Now I feel bad about it. So the next entry will be an actual picture that I took today!

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Minor commenting update


Just a minor housekeeping issue. I got an email yesterday from a reader asking me how they could sign in to comment, which led me to discover that there was no way to actually register on the site. I think something is missing in the template I’ve been using. I’ll try to figure out where the hiccup is, but in the meantime, I’ve shut off the requirement to register before commenting, and beefed up the spam filters. You’ll still need to have your first comment approved by me before it appears, but for now you should be able to comment again.

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I was hacked!


I didn’t think this blog was popular enough to actually get hacked, but I was apparently wrong.

Evidence the first – For some reason it was taking a really long time to load, even though I had cleaned out a lot of extraneous crap code recently.

Evidence the second (and, really obvious) – I was going through the source code because I wanted to add a graphic to my header, and I was trying to find the right spot. In doing so, I noticed a bunch of weird links to external sites that I certainly hadn’t put in there. Online pharmacies and whatnot. So I went into the header file in wordpress, and found extraneous code pointing to a .ru site. yeah. Not so much evidence as, well, concrete proof. I also did a google search for the code, and discovered that it appears on many other sites.

I don’t know how it got seeded (perhaps through a plugin?), but the code to search for in your header.php file in wordpress is “alkoltashov (dot) narod (dot) ru / sites.txt”. This apparently pulls in the multiple http addresses.

I’m off to go search for more strange code to make sure my site is actually clean. I’ll post an update if I find anything else.

Update: Found another one – in the footer.php file, somehow the link to demus design, which designed my template, got switched to “elavil lab”, with another link to an online pharmacy. And the link to linked to some third-party site rather than the real wordpress. I’m off to change my password as well!

Update further: from a little searching online, it appears to be a vulnerability of wordpress 2.8.1, which is the latest version available by my hosting provider (although the latest available overall is 2.8.4). looks like I’m going to have to keep a close eye on things until they upgrade further over at network solutions. I also found a few other small things. My only advice is to go through all of your template files and look for code that doesn’t belong. This is so annoying.

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more stuff to do!


In an ongoing effort to find things to do to take up the time during my day that isn’t the hour in the morning I spend looking at job listings, I’ve decided to participate in Glark’s 365 photo project, which officially starts on September 1. I figure this will be a good way to force myself to take pictures outside of photo class, and also to extend my knowledge once class ends. As a consequence of this development, I have finally signed up for a flickr account. I tested it by uploading my last class photo project, which is what you can currently see in the sidebar (but which will obviously change going forward). I’ll be posting the photos here as well, because I like extra work (!), but it’s also a way to force me to blog more often as well.

I have always been wary of services like flickr, because I like to keep control over my photos, so other than the photo project I probably won’t be uploading all of my photos there. It’s just become (for obvious reasons) a good way to participate in photo groups.

In other technical update news, I’ve re-instituted comment registration here. I don’t get a lot of comments, but I seem to be getting tons of spam these days, and even though I use Akismet to filter the junk, I need to cut down on the remaining administrative hassle of cleaning out the spam log. So…get ready for lots of posts!

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