Only The First Of The Month, and Already…

Whoa. Last month I cracked the lid open a little, and I'm still not sure why. My stats page logged 9,030 unique visitors. Probably 8,999 of those were spambots and trackback zombies, but still. Apparently the mere mention of H.R. 4437 drove a lot of visitors here. Huh? All I did was link to an article. Anyway, today being the first of the month, I checked to see what people are searching on today. And the result is pretty predictable:

Search Keyphrases (Top 10)
somali woman 2 7.6 %
newton tomb 2 7.6 %
capaccio bros 1 3.8 %
having children another lifestyle choice? 1 3.8 %
living in neighborhoods with bratty noisy kids and neighbors 1 3.8 %
cute couple nicknames 1 3.8 %
hr4337 explained 1 3.8 %
charlie dimmock 1 3.8 %
carter oosterhouse shirtless 1 3.8 %
carissa gaghan videos 1 3.8 %

There's some old favorites, like the one favored by fans of "The DaVinci Code" and our old friend Carter, whose image is a favorite with people who like to swipe it for their Myspace pages (but which renders our friend Laughing Man). I'm not sure why the Somali Woman story is so popular, though. It seems to have resonated for some reason.


So here's what's going on this week around here:

  • Busy at work, but not as crazed as last week.
  • Thinking about sick friends and considering how best to help
  • Keeping only half an eye on the news
  • Fooling around with iPod more (David got me a dock!)
  • Putting off on uploading more photos to Flickr
  • Getting ready to travel again Real Soon (just a weekender)
  • Realizing that there's not a lot of time left
  • Playing catch-up in nearly every area of my life

Now that the Weekend of Crazed Running Around is over, I can finally say something about what was going on. Saturday, we had a bat mitzvah to go to for a cousin of my husband David's. I'd also committed us to volunteer at St Columba's rummage sale. Wow, how ecumenical of us! I should explain that the side of the family with all the cousins (they are only 1/3 way through all the bar/bat mitzvah celebrations, with at least 5 more in years to come). Then we'd also committed (or should have been committed for committing ourselves) to going back to the North Shore and working on a service project that was the "party" part of the bat mitzvah celebration. There was no guarantee that this was actually going to work, but now the timetable can be laid out with reasonable accuracy.


9:30am: Drive 1 hour to bat mitzvah in Highland Park (on time) 1:30pm: Drive 1 hour back home, change, go to St Columba (ran late) 3:30pm: Drive 1 hour, this time to Waukegan to volunteer party (on time) 8:00pm: Drive 1 hour back home again, home again, jiggity jog The discerning, non-spamming reader (that will be Mitch. Hi, Mitch!) will note that we spent 4 hours on the road. And we wondered why we were so tired and wiped out at 9 o'clock at night. Then I had to do some important quaffling and wittering and stressing and worrying about the next day's events. The bat mitzvah service was interesting because it was in a different synagogue from the one most of that side of the family attend, and they use a new, gender-neutral prayer book that made for enjoyable browsing while we were either waiting for something to happen or for a song to finish. Some of the incidental prayers toward the back were very beautiful and poetic. The work party, incidentally, was AWESOME though daunting. Basically, the parents put on a volunteer event at an alternative education center in an economically depressed part of Waukegan. Because of who they are and their huge social circle, there were about 400-500 adults and teens there, all put to work on carefully designed, easily completed painting projects. David and our niece Melissa and I worked on a wall mural with some young girls that were friends of our cousin's from camp. We managed, but I'm afraid that we had some problems with the detail work. In the end, we went for a kind of "WAY outsider art" look that worked. I just wish I'd been keeping more of an eye on helping Melissa rather than fussing over the crappy brush I was trying to use for lettering. The middle of the mural had a kind of unique mood, but by the end I'd figured out how to see the art that Melissa was able to produce and not worry about boring old color-within-the-lines conventionalities. And then we cleaned up the boo-boos and sharpened up the edges of the lines and letters and it really did look pretty good when we were done. Then we all cleaned up, scrubbed paint off the floor (even Melissa's dad, who was just there to pick her up, pitched in) and trooped into the gym for a ginormous pizza party. They brought in at least 40 boxes of Lou Malnati's pizza, plus big aluminum tubs of salad and mostaccioli. All very well, and everyone was in their painty duds and no one was all putting-on-the-dog dressed up as is the normal practice at these events. I was really enjoying the people-watching (and the pizza) until the DJ started up. About then, David got a headache (no coincidence there), and it was time to go.


8:30am-9:25am Drink coffee, worry, pack "concert MC" clothes
9:30am Rush off, late, to choir practice
10:30am Church stuff (sit stand sit kneel stand sing pray etc.)
12:00pm-12:10pm 10 minutes to just PLAY like a little kid with Noah.
12:10pm-1:30pm Clean cobwebs while others clean floors
1:30pm Greet artists with great affection and warmth (love the boys)
1:40pm Run downstairs and upstairs a few times on errands, panic, etc.
1:50pm Assist other church ladies in arranging dessert tables
2:00pm Run around outside with Fr. Ted putting up banner and posters
2:20pm Run to da Jool for some needed items and lunch
3:00pm send Fr. Ted to da Jool for some other needed items, eat lunch, change
3:20pm Arrange flowers in bud vases for dessert tables in sanctuary
3:30pm Sell tickets at the door (sadly, none to "unknowns")
4:10pm Introduce "the boys" and enjoy concert
5:10pm Intermission. Church ladies run downstairs to fetch dessert
5:40pm Curtain call. Standing ovation. Dessert and coffee at hand.
5:41pm-6:39pm 6:40pm Uncomfortable realization that "fundraiser" was close, but no cigar
7:00pmish Mostly done with clearing up. Wave goodbye to artists. Bye, boys!
7:30pm Home. Collapse on couch. Vow never to run another "fundraiser." 🙄

Honestly, the concert itself was a smash. It was great visiting with everyone and laughing at their patter during the concert. Apparently, when they do school concerts there's more joking around than for their "serious" concerts, and they felt relaxed enough with us to kid around a little more than last time. Jon, the French horn player, demonstrated why he often puts his hand in the bell of the instrument for some pieces. Rather than changing the sound or anything technical like that, it's where he keeps…his…squirt gun! And squirt us he did. Kind of risky for a concert in a church, but it got a big laugh (it was still quite a warm day).

I just wish it had been better attended (and more successful). That's a major disappointment, and I had been beating myself up for weeks over things done and left undone in the publicizing of it. But I think that turnout would have been light even if I had literally papered the town with flyers. It was just… not a good weekend to expect people to be in town for an afternoon, indoor concert. Damn. At least the people who were there really enjoyed it, and a lot of people lingered quite a while afterwards, chatting. They seemed to really enjoy themselves, which was one goal achieved, I guess. And as someone pointed out, it's asking a lot of people to attend any event in a church that's not a wedding or a funeral. Still, it's hard not to compare the family mega-event on Saturday to our mini-event on Sunday and feel… like a lamer. Ironically, even I realize that we are far better off than people who live in poverty. Somehow we have to figure out a way to help them, if we're to help ourselves out of this "we're too small to do anything" funk.

[tags]Synergy Brass Quintet[/tags] 

Shields Holding, Iris Secure

My husband David's been getting a lot of spam emails, and so have I. The trickiness is that we can't just mark the emails "spam" and forget it, because they're spoofed to appear to come from our domain. They're getting stopped, but we need to figure out some filters to refuse them completely.

It's still amusing to continue to get emails from our "staff" telling us our computers are "zombies." In light of the preceding link, does this mean that we're bound to get all medieval on the zombies' decaying asses?

For the first time Blogula had a lot of comment and trackback spam; fortunately the combination of "no spam for you" plugins we're using is working well. That is, when I remember to check the moderation queues. Thus I was mildly shocked to find a couple of hundred fake comments… which were ludicrously easy to filter and delete quickly once I got there. So for now they can all just go "splat" against the titanium iris before they even have a chance of rematerializing on this side of the event horizon.


Oh No! Zombies!

Oh, this is truly funny. I got a lot of fake "your computer has been compromised and is being used to send spam" emails. Why do I know they are fake? Here's a typical "alert."

Dear user of, Your email account has been used to send a huge amount of junk e-mail during this week. Obviously, your computer was compromised and now runs a trojaned proxy server. Please follow instruction in order to keep your computer safe. Sincerely yours, The support team.

Obviously, someone thinks they're being devious, because not so obviously, my husband David IS the midrange support team, and to an extent so am I. Thank you for playing, spammers.

Stupid Greedy People

One victim, Kevin McCrary, a 56-year-old Manhattan business consultant, would not dispute that. After falling prey to a fake postal money order scheme, he said, "I couldn't reach around far enough to kick myself." Single and lonely, Mr. McCrary joined an international online dating site, In late January, he was contacted by someone claiming to be a young woman from Nigeria. She – or perhaps he, or even they, Mr. McCrary now concedes – went by the name of Ogisi Douglas. Their e-mail exchanges were barely a week old before the supposed Ms. Douglas asked Mr. McCrary for his help buying a laptop computer. Mr. McCrary purchased a $1,500 laptop, and after he received two United States postal money orders for $950 each, he sent the laptop to an address in Nigeria. Neither Mr. McCrary nor the teller at the J. P. Morgan Chase branch where he deposited the postal money orders knew they were bogus. It was only after he was asked to buy more computers and received several more postal money orders that he discovered, after trying to cash them at a post office, that he had been duped.

Seriously: how dumb do you have to be in order to qualify for status as the Nigerian email spam-scammers' target customer? It's become a cliche' – there's now a hot trend in scamming the scammers right back and making them look extremely foolish. It's hard to tell who's dumb and who's dumber: McCrary is still in contact with his scammer, who apparently is unaware that the Grey Lady has run the story and revealed all. He received a greeting card from the "lady" recently.

"It is often said that nobody is perfect," Ogisi Douglas wrote in a greeting card to Mr. McCrary three weeks ago. "But my love for you have made me blind to your faults and imperfections."

Spam 95% Of All Email By Summer 2006?

Spamhaus estimates that by the summer of 2006 spam will account for 95% of all e-mails sent and the problem will not be alleviated until the US acts to toughen its laws.

British anti-spam laws are even more toothlessly useless than the US ones, apparently. 95%? Also according to Spamhaus, Australia has a strong anti-spam law. They report a reduction in overall spam, known spammers are keeping a lower profile, and at least one has left the country.

Plug-in Linky Goodness

Jay Allen, of MT-Blacklist/Comment Spam Clearinghouse fame, generously recommends Brad Choate's Spam Lookup as a more comprehensive solution to webspam/commentspam/trackspam. The nightly build (which fixes a bug in beta 2) is here. So, in short, for spamkilling purposes on the new and improved MT3.16 version of the blog, I think I'd like to give "Spam Lookup" a whirl. I like MT-Blacklist, but it's kind of slow, and the cross-blog functionality alone makes it possible for me to open up the 'Quicklinks' sideblog comments. Plus… hey, I think I could eventually bring the Holy Moly blog under its wing, too. Hmm. This looks like a job for The Hubbernator! I've managed to bumble through several other items tonight… Continue reading

Getting Closer To Done

David, the sneaky sneakster, upgraded the beta blog to MT3.16, and I'm at the "tweaking templates to look right with the new stylesheet" stage. Still some archive templates to be fixed so they display the new banner image and colors. I will be going through all the templates looking for inconsistencies that may be lurking there from my old installation, but I'm pleased that the latest version is a new commitment to quality (and bugfixes).

Via About Six Apart – Mena's Corner

UPDATE: as previously stated, I've got some template tweaks to do. And the cool crap is getting cut way, way back. The banner image is working and is pretty close to its final design. I'll have Typekey authentication enabled, and non-Typekey comments will be moderated (not likely to be a problem with the very low number of "real" comments I get). I may check out the new spamkilla on the block, too.

Now If Only They’d Outlaw Spam

Within the legal limits: At least one legislator promises to vote against any bills targeting poker houses. "What I know about those clubs is that you are not gambling," said Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, who has played at Big SLC on three occasions, but is obviously uncomfortable talking about it. "I enjoy poker. . . . Recreationally, of course. . . . Within the legal limits," he said between long pauses. The clubs "deserve as little government intervention as any other law-abiding club or group." Former Republican legislator David Zolman plays once a week and ranks in the top 20 at Big SLC Poker. "It is purely for the entertainment value, and sometimes prizes, but no money games are played."

Ooop, those legislative boys are going to change their tune real fast, because word has come down from on high that gambling is a sin. That 'squeek-squeek' sound you hear is that of their legislative tricycles hastily being slammed into reverse. That's not going to stop my mom and her cronies from riding the Fun Bus to Wendover (April 16! With CyberSlut Bingo!), though. And as a public service to all those members of my family that drive up to Malad to buy lottery tickets, the SL Trib publishes the Idaho Lottery results. Timmy: that particular Fun Bus is probably NOT the one full of little old blue haired ladies looking to gamble their bowling pot winnings. It's to benefit the Gay Men's Meth Crisis Utah. But maybe she'd like to give it a whirl, because it's probably going to be a real adventure, along the lines of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." If Utah succeeds in cracking down on Texass Hold Them, Poke Her they are welcome to outlaw spam (why yes, I'm getting a lot of spam from online casinos, why do you ask?).