Southern Comfort

It’s a little thing really. But I’ve had Sirius satellite radio for about a year. Susan got it for me last Christmas. Had it installed in my truck and even sprung for the boombox that the car unit can plug into so we have it in the house or just about anywhere.

Without going into too much detail, I gave up on listening to it on the road because the signal was weak and whatever music was playing too often skipped into prolonged periods of silence like a bad CD. I even called Sirius up and told them to cancel my subscription at the end of the quarter I’d paid for, but they just kept right on billing me after the agreed upon time — I know, that’s major bullshit on Sirius’ part. But I didn’t raise a stink because I found that I’d fire up the boombox on occasion and the reception was significantly better than in my vehicle. Still not perfect, but much better.

Now that I’m embarking on my plan to work from home, I obviously have lots more opps to listen to the channels Sirius offers (my current favorite is their Chill channel, lots of groovy electronica). But what I found is that where I had the unit’s antenna positioned on the sill of a west-facing window certain times of the day the signal would get weak than others (like a cellphone, reception strength is indicated by one to three bars, with three being strongest. At best I’d pull in two bars no matter where I moved the antenna along the sill and it would often drop down to one before vanishing all together and giving me that dreaded” “acquiring signal” dead air that I just wouldn’t tolerate while driving.

Sure enough it got really bad yesterday, but instead of calling Sirius and telling them to cancel my service — again — I unwound some of the 20-something feet of antenna cable wrapped around the back of the boombox and just moved the thing around the corner to a south-facing window. Since then it’s been three bars solid all the time.

Loud and clear.

Gonna Go Get Stuck

In a few minutes Susan will be arriving from work to pick me up. We have a 4:15 p.m. appointment to get flu shots. It’ll be my first ever, but after both of us got knocked down by it last winter (and I mean really knocked down; I missed three days of work), getting them this time around is a total no-brainer.

That’s Cat

Just a couple images I grabbed this morning of Pumpkin sitting and napping in the sunny section of the library, and one of the neighborhood strays we dubbed Pico grabbing a snack on the porch.

Pumpkin in respose • Pico

I think you can click on them for biggification.

The Best Part Of Waking Up…

Sorry to dampen your day if these two stories haven’t made their way to you yet, but the first two news articles to land in front of my eyes this morning are just so very very life-affirming. Makes me want to sing “Joy to the World” real loud.

The first detailed the “honor killings” committed by an entirely unrepentant Pakistani man who reportedly cut the throats of his three daughters, ages 8, 7 and 4, after first killing his 25-year-old stepsister who was alleged to be in an adulterous affair. Cradling their infant son during the slaughter, his wife Bibi said she was forced to endure the massacre or face a similar fate.

Bibi recounted how she was awakened by a shriek as Ahmed put his hand to the mouth of his stepdaughter, Muqadas, and cut her throat with a machete. She said she looked on helplessly from the corner of the room as he then killed the three girls — Bano, 8, Sumaira, 7, and Humaira, 4 — pausing between the slayings to brandish the bloodstained knife at his wife, warning her not to intervene or raise alarm.

“I was shivering with fear. I did not know how to save my daughters,” Bibi, sobbing, told AP by phone from the village. “I begged my husband to spare my daughters but he said, ‘If you make a noise, I will kill you.”‘

This fundamental muslim’s premeditated reasoning? Well, after his arrest the next morning, the “disheveled but composed” 40-year-old laborer told reporters that it just seemed like the right thing to do.

“I thought the younger girls would do what their eldest sister had done, so they should be eliminated. We are poor people and we have nothing else to protect but our honor.”

For whatever modicum of honor he now claims to have salvaged, I can do nothing but hang my head at the dishonor he brings to mankind. But as outrageous as his crimes is the reluctance of Pakistan’s political leadership and law enforcement to enact and enforce tougher laws against such killings which occur with some regularity (somewhat shaky statistics point to 569 occuring in 2004 and more than 260 this year). As late as last year this murderer might have gotten off paying a fine. Now he faces — oh joy — the death penalty.

The second story that made me disgraced to be a human being happened in Montana where a starved and abused cat was rescued by firefighters from a river into which it had been dumped after it was spotted in a cage weighted down with a heavy rock. Instead of sinking, the cage somehow stayed afloat on a section of ice.

Someone had put the animal in a cage, along with a rock weighing about 16 pounds, and tossed it into the Clark Fork River. But instead of landing in the water, it bounced several times on the ice and then became stuck.

Firefighters returned to the station with the feline where they found it in very sad shape but happy to be among friends.

“It was really skinny, nothing but skin and bones, and had collar marks where a too-small collar had rubbed the fur off its neck. But it was really friendly,” firefighter Philip Keating said.

Another firefighter decided to give it a home and this story a happy ending and that’s fine, but I want to read about cops dusting the cage for prints and doing everything they can to find the person who tossed that cat overboard.

Just when I think my disgust at our capacity to disrespect and destroy life can’t get any lower, someone cracks open another soulless subbasement and lets the darkness out.

Well That Was Frickin’ Loverly

I should’ve known it was too good to be true. I decide to suddenly and unexpectedly foist wildbelldotcom’s new look upon you dear visitors this morning and it just went waaaaay too smoothly. So smoothly that there should have been a realization of the possibility it would all come crashing down hard — and boy howdy did it.

Welcome to the world of database failure.

See, what do I know from databases? Nada. With my old web set-up I opened up a page in my HTML editor, typed in whatever breathlessly intriguing thing was on my mind that day, maybe changed a smidge of code or two, saved the page, uploaded it onto the server, and I was finito. Granted it wasn’t the most hip way to go, but it worked for me.

But now came the end of the year and I’m thinking it’s the time for something new and the next thing I know I’ve somehow managed to rig up a three-column format with the WordPress system, personalize it with a bitchin’ banner, forge my way through a couple installation false-starts and voila… she went live a bit after 8 a.m.

Four hours later instead of the home page I’m getting an error message along the lines of “Dude, your database is seriously fuuuuucked up because your wp_config.php/diddly_dee.doink file isn’t righteously syncopated with your wp_*jinglybob.db/whozit.loozit permissions!”

OK, so I paraphrased a little bit there. But you get the picture: nothing but huuuuuunh? An attempt at an answer from my webhost was wholly unsatisfactory so after hours of trial-and-error attempts to resolve the lack of righeous syncopation, you know what I did? I killed everything. Deleted all the files from the server, axed the offending database, and started over. Fresh.

And the same shit happened again. So after another couple hours of failing to fix it I adjourn to the livingroom near tears where in dire need of a diversion I actually find myself trying to get interested in “Johnson Family Vacation” on HBO until I realize the shit has a stupid-to-funny ration of 4600:1, and shut it off before tripping back to my desk somewhat reloaded for bear.

Where I killed everything again. And reinstalled everything again. And held my breath.

Now, don’t know if I need to chalk it up to the third time being the charm, or perhaps I should wait to declare victory until four hours go by and I don’ t get that nightmarish error message again, but so far the new site’s back up and holding, albeit minus the original post explaining in more detail why the abrupt change and the nice comments from Cybele and Hexod welcoming the new look.

Let’s just hope it lasts.