Thursday, May 29, 2003

This site10:40 AM - More done

I'm nearly finished tweaking my themes for the new design. I have one more design I want to do, but since it'll be along the same lines as the others it's just the background (which I'm close to finished choosing) and the color scheme I need to come up with. Most recently, I added 2 templates to MovableType to let me create another version of my main archives page that gives links to all the posts in their monthly archives in a multiple calendar format. I have all but my large font themes doing that page up nicely. I'm not sure how I'm going to do the large font ones though... as it is, when I shrink my browser window to 800x600, after the tweaking I did the right-hand menu just does manage not to overlap the multi-calendars. That's with making it narrower and using pretty small fonts, with just 3 calendars per row. I don't know how I'm gonna not have overlap with large fonts yet.

Important note: If you were viewing my alternate page layout already, and had a theme set at all, you will need to delete the cookie for it. I was doing them slightly wrong, which I have since corrected (using the same cookie and stylesheets for the themes on the alternate archive page is why I found the problem) you'll end up with two cookies instead of 1, and I'm not entirely sure which one will override the other.

To delete the cookie in Netscape 7, go to Edit->Preferences, then Privacy & Security -> Cookies. Click "Manage Stored Cookies". If the cookie management window pops up too small (it always does for me) just resize it and everything will get lots more readable. Find the cookie listed under the "" Site, and delete the "THEME" cookie. (It should definitely be the only cookie you have from my site.) Then click "Ok".

To delete the cookie in Opera 7.1x, go to File->Preferences, then Privacy (second to last menu item in the left side of the window). Click "Edit server filters" and make sure the "Cookies" checkbox is checked, and the "Wand" checkbox isn't. There should be a folder for, and inside this will be the cookie. Go ahead and choose it and delete it, then click "Close", followed by "Apply" and then "Ok" in Preferences. (This wasn't possible in earlier versions -- dunno what to do in that case; perhaps try Opera's forums for help with that.)

To delete the cookie in IE 6 (probably IE 5 as well) go to Tools -> Internet Options. In the second section, "Temporary Internet Files" (this is on the first tab, which the display should default to) click "Delete Cookies", then click "Ok". Warning: this will delete all your cookies you currently have. If this doesn't work, or if you don't want to delete all your other cookies, close IE and do a search on your system for "Temporary Internet Files". In there, they stuff everything, including a text file for every cookie placed on your machine. These usually start with "Cookie:" in the name. Find the one that references and delete it.

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Rants11:06 AM - Stupid drivers and road rage

Our weekend was very pleasant. Except for one glaring event that occurred Sunday afternoon. My heart rate still jumps up when I think about it, it was so rattling. Some people clearly need lessons on (1) blind spots, (2) stopping distance, particularly in a heavy SUV, and (3) children's safety.

A quick summary: we were run off the road while in the process of passing a driver in an Explorer. Thankfully the shoulder is big enough to fully accomodate a car, otherwise... Then, same driver decided it was our fault and caught up to us and rode our ass. We had to slow down for the ramp, rather quickly, and he rear ended us. Then he proceeded to follow us to my parents' house, get out of his car yelling and screaming, and hit my husband! :grr: GRR!!

We were going up I-170 north (which, if you're not from St. Louis you've no idea what I'm talking about, but if you feel like pulling up a map it'll give you a little idea). This red Explorer had borderline cut us off to pass someone already, but not badly and J just let up on the accelerator a touch, no biggie. Well, he got back over and we sped up again and started passing him. I think at this point we were passing where we could actually see the last Hanley exit (i.e. the last exit before 170 ends at 270).

We got to the point where I could see his back wheel directly to the right of my window, so we were overlapped, and possibly in his blind spot at this point (though we'd been behind him before and were passing him the whole time, meaning we weren't in his blind spot the whole time). We'd both been catching up to a car in the right lane, just we were a little faster. He decided to pass the person, while we were next to him. Evidently he's never heard that before changing lanes, you're supposed to look out your window to check your blind spots. I get a little worried, not to mention surprised, but since he's changing lanes slowly and we're still going faster, we were emerging from his blind spot and figure he'll see us. Wrong!! He kept coming!!

At this point, there was no braking to avoid him. We were too close to parallel for that to do any good. So, J heads for the only safe place: the shoulder. Also, since we were passing him anyway, he sped up so we'd not have to spend too long in the shoulder, since he was giving no sign he knew we were there or of backing off and dropping back to his lane. (I think his bumper had already crossed the plane of the other car's rear bumper by this point.)

Apparently, we scared the hell out of him, 'cause between his actions and the thigns he said (or, rather, yelled) afterwards indicate he had NO idea we were there until we appeared half in front of him on the shoulder. We hadn't slowed down immediately after passing him, so we'd left some distance between us, since he (obviously) wasn't someone we wanted near us on the road. He decided to "teach us a lesson" or something (can't think of any other reason besides anger and misplaced self-righteousness) and not only caught up to us, but then planted himself right on our ass behind us. We were just starting into the turn where our lane is an entrance ramp onto 270, and really needed to slow down (it's a 40mph turn), so J hit the brakes and slowed down basically all at once to 40. Of course, him having a much heavier vehicle, and following far too closely, he rear ended us. J'd managed to make it be basically square on so that neither of us would go wrenching sideways from it, so it was a bump and we both kept going. Fucker continued to ride our ass (not quite as much, but still too close) and followed us off 270 at the nearest exit and to my parents' house.

The second he was out of his car he was yelling at the top of his lungs, basically crazed-angry. His wife was yelling too, and I yelled at her. Jeremy was the coolest head of the 4 of us. He raised his voice to be heard, of course, as it was a "heated discussion" after all, but he never out and out yelled. (I've heard him yell; this wasn't yelling by a long stretch.) The guy made as if to hit him but didn't, and Jeremy told him he didn't need to get violent, and briefly touched the guy's arm with his pinky (open hand, never grabbed him), then pulled back. That's when the guy socked him. Easily blockable, because he wound way up for it, making a big show & all, but he let him anyway. His glasses went flying and he just looked at him and the verbal argument continued but he didn't hit him again. When J was sure he wasn't gonna get hit again, he turned and picked his glasses up. At that point the bridge of his nose, high up near his left eyebrow, was bleeding from his glasses.

Right after that my mom, dad, and sister (dad being a 5th degree black belt, sis being a 3rd degree black belt -- oh yeah, and I'm a brown belt and J's a purple belt) came tearing out of their house to see what was going on, immediately assessing the situation and being ready to go after the guy if necessary. Fortunately for him, he didn't take another swing.

Among all the bullshit he was spewing, was the repeated mention that "the other lady" (presumably the car he'd been passing when he ran us into the shoulder) had called the police, that we didn't need to. Interesting how he didn't want to stick around to wait for the police and file a report. Interesting how, after it was all over and my dad & J called the police, there had been no call placed. Interesting how he didn't want to mention anything directly related to him rear ending us, like insurance, etc.

Another thing they were shouting at us was, "We have kids in the car!!" Yeah, great. Why did you endanger them, and why are you continuing to endanger them? Yeah, we wouldn't do anything to them, but they didn't know that when they followed us, now did they? And then, "You didn't even ask us how our kids are!!" Um... you're both yelling and screaming and all this, not mentioning anything about your kids being hurt... I'm pretty sure they're just fine. What good parent would let his anger get so out of control that he would do the things he did? Even if you let slide the fact that he wasn't paying attention to the point where he didn't know we were there at all until we were passing him on the shoulder, he endangered them by speeding up to tailgate us, he endangered them further by following us to our destination (still tailgating, no less), and he endangered them by instigating a fight with us. For all he knew, we were violent crazy people, who wouldn't have thought twice about killing him, his wife, and anyone else in the car be they children or adults.

I don't know what's going to happen next for sure. In Hazelwood, which is where the rear-ending took place, they have J's statement there. I'm assuming those charges will have to do with hiim rear ending us, and hopefully also with him driving recklessly and/or negligently. In Florissant, where my parents live, J's pressing assault charges. I think there's a "leaving the scene" in there somewhere, but I'm not sure whose jurisidction that would fall under. It wasn't safe for us to stop at all on the ramp to 270, and even worse once we were on 270. Since we needed the first exit off anyway, which is where we would've gotten off even if this had been a more... friendly encounter, since my parents' house was as close as any other good place to stop (the light for their street is literally spittin' distance from the highway exit), we went there. It was at that point that he started the argument, and it was shortly after he hit J that they left in a rather big hurry. So the actual "leaving the scene" took place in Florissant, but the accident that he left the scene of, was in Hazelwood. So... I don't know how that works. I'm sure J knows that better than I do and can probably set me straight on that one. :)

All in all, no one was seriously hurt, even J when the idiot hit him (I hit harder than this guy... by a country mile, and his sister, who doesn't have any martial arts training, hits harder than this guy...). That's to the good. J said he wants, however it pans out in the two cities, for the guy to end up with points on his record for the rear-ending (and leaving the scene), and an apology. He said he's willing to drop the assault charge if the guy honestly (not "under duress" so to speak) apologizes to him. I suspect that's not gonna happen, not in a million years. And even though his bumper looks alright from the outside, for safety's sake (since it was probably pushed in on impact, it just didn't stay pushed in) it should be replaced. So, I hope he's found at fault for it (it's very rare that the person rear-ended was at fault -- it doesn't matter why we hit our brakes, he was following too close to stop in time; hell, we didn't even come to a stop or even that close to one). His insurance will pay to fix J's bumper, and maybe they'll hike his rates since it was an accident he caused. Maybe hitting him in the pocketbook will teach him some of what he so desperately needs to learn.

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

This site03:08 PM - One other thing...

I noticed, when testing, that Netscape 4 doesn't recognize a lot of named characater entities like, for example, ‘ and ’. (Assuming you're using a browser that does know how to interpret these, this is what they look like, respectively: ‘ ’.)

Dunno what to tell ya... just another reason to upgrade your browser.

There are plenty of others, which I'm sure you can find if you do a little searching, but this is a starting list.

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

This site11:14 AM - Oops

Well, there's egg on my face. I made the final changes I was going to make to the alternate template for the day, then went home. Since changes only get uploaded to the w-w server every half hour (maybe I should consider changing that to 15 minutes? It's not like that computer has anything else to do...) I couldn't see the changes till after I got home. However, I never checked.

First off, there was a goof in the PHP script that made the thing not display at all. (I just fixed the index-alternate.php file itself as an immediate fix, then fixed the template.) After that, I found that Netscape 4 doesn't like links that just have the directory index followed by the query string -- to send a proper request it needs the filename. Thus, the links for changing themes also needed fixing. Also, I realized that since the content is ordered with the "important stuff" (i.e. the actual posts) first, followed by all the side menu stuff, Netscape 4 users would need to scroll down quite a bit to find the theme links (as they're not, of course, to the right of the posted text). So... I decided I'd provide a link in the Netscape 4-only text that will switch specifically to that theme. I also updated the wording a bit.

Hopefully that fixes things. (Oh, and I needed to change theme names with spaces in them, when using them as part of the query, to have +'s instead of spaces, so that the URL passes muster.)

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Monday, May 19, 2003

This site04:45 PM - Two new themes added

For the new site design, I added two new CSS themes: one is called "cherries" and is a red version of the blue and green ones. I might still tweak the background image a bit; I'm still a little ambivalent about it. The other is called "netscape 4". For those of you who come here with this browser, who get the mint-colored box at the top and plain black-and-white for the rest... this might be the theme for you. I wrote it and tested it almost exclusively in Netscape 4 so that all the rules I defined for it worked. It's doable in other browsers as well, so if you decide you like it even though you don't use Netscape 4, feel free to use it. Just... it's something other than the totally plain-Jane that the others offer (since they hide their rules from Netscape 4 so the site's still legible).

Now that I know the theme-change system seems to work, I'll be developing this theme across a lot of the rest of the site, bit by bit. Once I get archive pages, funny forwards, and pet peeves, all having a version that looks like this new one, I'll go live with it and table layouts will be no more. :) Wish me luck!

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Sunday, May 18, 2003

This site11:14 PM - Here it is

Well, I promised a link soon to a page with the new site design, so here it is. I'm in the process of building a third stylesheet identical to the first two in layout, only in shades of red. Also, I'll be building a few others, maybe some larger-font ones, and at least one that works for Netscape 4.x users (will probably be called "Netscape 4.x" ;) ). On the right of that page, under the calendar, are links that will set a cookie so that your theme choices stick, as well as a link that will remove the cookie (a.k.a "default").

Have at it, folks, and if you want to let me know what you think, post in my forum (since I haven't moved hosts and therefore comments don't work). Hope you like it! :)

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

This site04:31 PM - XHTML + CSS, here I come

I've had an alternate page for some time, where I've experimented with table-less layouts, but I have never gone live with it. It didn't change much at all for a while, but now I'm planning to, and I've changed it a lot.

When I get the template and CSS sheets finished, and get it to where PHP will do the style-selection for you (with cookies, instead of Mozilla & Opera's way of selecting them -- they'll stay selected that way, and IE users will get to see 'em too) I'll post a link to it to see where my site's headed.

Sorry, Netscape 4 users (prob'ly IE 4 users too... never had that browser to play with) but you'll get a very plain version of the site... A ton of the rules I'm using -- some of them very basic coloring and font sizing rules, not just the more complex positioning ones -- don't work right, or don't work at all. So I'm gonna make sure all the stylesheet choices are done so that instead of a messed up looking site, it'll just be very plain -- no CSS rules at all. It's more readable that way than the horrible mess N4 presents with the rules.

Unless your computer can't handle the upgrade, I'd suggest using a better browser. I personally like Netscape 7.x, which is based on Mozilla (which has been more recently updated, since its updates are available constantly as it's open source). Others like Opera, and while it has some CSS bugs, they're a lot fewer in number. There's (grudgingly) IE 6, and I've heard good things about Firebird, which is also (I think) based on Mozilla. Don't have links for 'em all, but a Google search should help you out for that. :) (Don't upgrade your browser just for me, but this is the way the web is headed, and eventually if you stick with a 4-series browser, nothing's gonna look any good. It'll either be a mess, or it'll be super plain, and browsing will start sucking more and more.)

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Life08:55 AM - Best concert evar!!!

Oh. My. God! :D Went to the Elton John & Billy Joel concert last night, and it was amazing. Astounding, even. :) I can't believe I still have a voice today (though my throat is sore).

It was scheduled to start at 7:30, and got going about 15 minutes later. The opening was really cool: they started music, with it really dark on stage, then both their pianos came up from underneath at a critical moment in the music. Then, a spotlight on the right: Billy Joel, all in black, somewhat reserved. He spends some time greeting the crowd, then stands still. On comes a spotlight to the left: Elton John, in a bright, hot pink suit (black shirt) and dark shades. :) Totally over the top. He greets the crowd, then they do the man-hug thing, and sit down at their pianos.

This was a rescheduled concert, and rumor had been that Billy was sick (certainly, that one of them had been). After the first song, Elton gave a rousing "Welcome St. Louis!!" and then apologized for all the trouble, saying that it'd been all his fault as he'd been sick. His voice was still a little raspy, but it just made it sound a little husky. They did a few of both of their songs, taking turns with the lyrics, and it was great.

Then it was Elton's turn as solo act on the stage. It was great. I didn't know all the songs, but every song was pure entertainment. Heh, it was funny: a few songs in, J started laughing and I asked him why. He and my dad (on the other side of my mom from J) had both smiled at each other and chuckled: they'd caught a good whiff of that other smokable leaf. ;) I hadn't smelled it yet, but my first good whiff was a little apropos: I caught it just as Elton was launching into "Rocket Man". (BUT: while I know the obvious drug innuendo of the song, the first several times I heard it was while I was still a kid, so I still stick to the face-value meaning of the words!) Smelled it strongly off-and-on the rest of the night. Hadda been close, and more or less continuous.

Elton finished his solo set with "Crocodile Rock", after covering others such as "Saturday Night's Alright" and one I didn't know but I would like to find called "The Wasteland". It was awesome to hear the whole crowd singing with the songs: everyone was singing "laaaaaaa-la-la-la-la-laaaaaaa" and "Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!" :D

Then it was Billy Joel's turn. I gotta tell ya, as wonderful as Elton's performance was, Billy's was over the top. He's a total ham on stage. The first couple songs, not so much, but then he started working the crowd. Some of the things he did were great. He polled the crowd on the second song, by giving 3 song titles one at a time, and gauging the response. Of course, this was done purposely with each song more popular/well known than the last, ending with "Don't Ask Me Why". During "River of Dreams", before the last verse, he popped in a little "Louie, Louie", which was hilarious. After a few more songs, he tossed the black jacket, and they put a special mic stand on with the mic fixed into it. He proceeded to do the whole of "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me" while twirling the thing like a huge baton, sort of shadow boxing with it, tossing it in the air, etc. Really fun to watch. He did a really awesome performance of "New York State of Mind" which he led into with a little Gershwin, which was neat. He did a lot of goofy stuff with the piano, talked some to the crowd. Definitely loves playing with and to a crowd.

After a few more great performances, the Billy left the stage and it went dark for a few minutes. The crowd was applauding and cheering and screaming the whole time. Then, they both came on again, Billy first, immediately followed by Elton, who was now in a very dark grey suit with the top half or so of the jacket all glitter. This is when it really gets crazy: they both, to one degree or another, are warmed to the crowd and definitely feeling even "hammier". Their performance of "You May Be Right" was just tremendous: when each was taking their turn at the lyrics, the other was doing silly physical stuff as a sort of upstaging. They started while the intro music was playing, each standing with one foot on their piano bench and the other on the piano, sort of pointing in rhythm at each other.

While Billy sang, Elton did his stint with one of the saxophonists, playing air-sax and being goofy, sitting on both pianos and making goofy faces. Then, they did the chorus, and it was Elton's turn to sing. During part of it, Billy crawled across the top of his piano, over the gap to Elton's in a sort of lascivious way, then lying on it right in front of him, with his chin on his fist leaning on his elbow. Then, he crawled right back, face first over the keyboard and the bench, then rolled on his back on the stage, "out for the count". The saxophonist started with a boxer's 10-count, then Billy shot back up to his feet, looking around with fists up for the other fighter who'd knocked him out. :D Then he was back to the piano to finish the song.

They started to go into the country song "Two of a Kind" on their pianos, then launched into "Great Balls of Fire" which was a LOT of fun. Then they wrapped up and went off stage, with of course the crowd refusing to let them go, building until the lights came back up and they came back out, this time simultaneously, and with Elton wearing a shiny turquoise wind suit. They shook hands once more (they both did a few times during the performance) with the first couple rows, signed a few autographs. Some woman gave Billy her scarf, which he seemed quite surprised by. When they went to start, he tossed it around his neck and played the whole next song with it on. The next song, of course, was "Piano Man", which was a perfect topper, complete with Billy playing the harmonica. Several times they stopped singing for the chorus, and you could also hear the crowd for "laa-la-laaa-di-de-daaaa". The best part was when they and all the musicians stopped playing for one round of the chorus near the end, and just had the whole crowd sing it. Definitely an electric moment, and I can tell you I was singing as loud as I could with the rest of 'em. :) It was Elton's turn to take the first half of the last verse, and being a Monday night, he changed a bit of the lyrics to "You're an exceptional crowd for a Monday". :D

All in all, it couldn't have been a better performance. Well... I'm sure Elton would've liked to have had his whole voice back to top condition, but that's something that couldn't be helped. They were totally in tune with the crowd, and gave everything they had. All the musicians they had with them were top performers and loved being there as well. The guitarists totally played the stage, and they had not one, but two saxophonists, who played to the crowd and each other quite well. The one, a woman, also did lots of percussion (maracas, tambourines, bongos), sang (she had an amazing voice, which was particularly highlighted during "Innocent Man" and "River of Dreams"), and played guitar. Very impressive.

If you missed it, shame on you! ;) Probably the best concert I've ever seen, and worth every penny. If/when they come around on tour again, I'd recommend making a point of seeing it if they're anywhere near you. I'd see them again. If I'm ever rich while they're touring, I'll even splurge and try to get close-up floor seats (we bought the middle-priced ones at $85 a pop, plus taxes & ticketmaster fees). They are wonderful performers, who perform even better together.

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Life10:19 PM - Lots o' stuff

Okay, I need to post a "real" update of what's been going on the last almost 3 weeks. :)

1.) We're now officially homeowners. We closed on Friday, April 25. We're about $12K poorer (which actually doesn't hurt us, amazingly enough) but other than that it doesn't feel any different yet. The people we bought it from will be renting back from us (that $ got figured into the closing costs) so we won't be moving until between July 24 and July 31. We gave our apartment complex notice as per our house clause, so July will be our last month of paying rent. June 1 is our first house payment, so we'll see how that goes.

2.) I did finally find out the results of my biopsy, after 10 freakin' days of waiting for the lab to give the dr's office the results (had to light a fire under the dr's office to call the lab). Found out April 18, after being told by the doctor who did the biopsy that they should have the results for me on the 11th. Anyway, all they said was that it was "negative" (i.e. not cancerous), which is good... they didn't tell me whether it was a cyst or something growing on my thyroid, or if it was just the thyroid all swollen or whatever. The doctor wrote me a prescription for Synthroid (pretty cheap stuff...< $15 for a once-a-day 1 month supply) with two refills, which I presume I'm supposed to fill and use. Then I have a followup appointment in August.

3.) I think I'm gonna have to start paying for hosting services. Right now, I'm being subhosted by a friend for free (he has the account for free somehow or other). However, my CMS (MovableType) won't run on their servers anymore 'cause of the tightened CPU/memory restrictions. So right now I have it running on my old box at home. Yesterday, I found a script that will upload any local files to a remote FTP location if the local file is newer than the remote file. I modified it a bit, and with some help from the awesome tech guru Antiarc on the PvPForums set it up as a cron job to run every 30 minutes. So it'll upload pages that I update with MT (which get written on my PC) up to the server every half hour.

Now, this is a pretty good interim solution, since I really wasn't using my PC box for much else. However, it still sucks. Especially because, I can't access MT remotely via IP because it requires a full CGIPath thing in the config file (instead of using relative addresses), and the IP keeps changing, so I'd have to keep changing the IP in the config file (not to mention, the "outside" IP doesn't work when you're on the inside, on the LAN, so I'd have to change the IP then too). Unless I can get my HOSTS file on Win2K to work (I could just change the IP there, and use whatever domain name I feel like it)... I have to keep changing it. (I have an idea on how to fix this too, but... it's more CGI stuff I don't know how to do yet.)

Besides, commenting doesn't work either... even the commenting CGI for MT won't run on the host, not to mention it wouldn't be able to look up new posts in the database, because the DBs are now out of sync (I had to do a MySQL dump of all the posts in the DB on the server, then dump it into tables in a MySQL DB on my home box). I'd like to get that feature up again.

The only solution is to change hosts. One comes very highly recommended: PHP Web Hosting. However, I need to email them to find out if my script would run there, etc. The price is right though, so if I can get it all set up there, and know it'll run, I'll probably move there soon. Now, a domain name.... (since is taken). :)

not interested in hearing you whine about this one

Life02:43 AM - So sleepy

Been working on making updating this site a little easier again... finally got it working, and it works great. I've been updating my resolutions for the past hour or so, and I'm so ready to go to bed.

I'm mostly just posting 'cause I said I would, and to give my shiny new cron job some other files to update besides my resolutions. :)

not interested in hearing you whine about this one