marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

...this poem? I can only recall small fragments of it - and some of them I might not recall correctly. This isn't the first time I've asked for help locating the full text and/or the author's name and it might not be the last since I will keep littering Google's search index with this nonsense every time it starts to bug me again until someone finally supplies the answer or else I become like the subject of the poem - whichever comes first.

Mrs. Mayer

Mrs. Mayer, Mrs. Mayer,
Growing leaner, sadder, grayer,
Her husband dead and children grown
Tends the cleaning store alone.

[A few more stanzas follow in which Mrs. M grows increasingly bitter with everything from the weather to - yeah, she sounds just like me...but still even her facade can crack when...]

Under skies of springtime blue
Mrs. Mayer smiles at you.

It's a really short and simple poem. I might've last read it 20-25 years ago (yes, so I'm getting old, too; what of it). I'm fairly sure the poem was written by a woman. I read it in a book of poems borrowed from either my high school or local library in LI, New York. The poem might've been in an anthology of less famous authors but I highly doubt it as the writing seems pretty precise and well-formed.

Someone. Please. Help. Me. Find. The rest of it?

Also, *ahem* since I'm talking about libraries, anyhow, [personal profile] silveradept - if I were to go to the library to find it, how would I locate it armed with so little information? Is that even possible?

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I wrote about this before (this was years ago so I spoke of it simply as "adware"; I guess it's evolved some since then) but I wrote quite trivially compared to Matthew's post on it, which is actually not about Superfish's super-bad behavior as much as it's about both proprietary and free software and hardware vendors failing us security-wise.

He's right: it has always been 0 days (hours, nanoseconds, eyeblinks) since our last security exploit (most of which we'll never know about; think of every unknown hacker out there, every bad actor from your self-taught script kiddie practicing on your website for the lulz right up through credit card hackers and the NSA).

But what about Superfish? I think I just hoped it would go away instead of coming back to behave more maliciously than ever - so much so that many people are understandably going nuts about the sad state of end-user security in general.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

If your post or meme or furry cat pic is good enough for Facebook you'll know it. Like the entire Web, which is patiently waiting on standby for Facebook to notice it and bend it over, your website will - usually for just a day or two - become Facebook's bitch. To get there, first someone will "share" your content, then, if it's really dumb, or full of "oh wow, check that out" camera grabs, or merely full of some not-so-funny substance that people gingerly refer to as "lol" it can even "go viral", at which point Facebook will bury it under automatically generated content that no one will give a flying crap about because Nothing Can Be Bigger Than Facebook.

In order to become Facebook's bitch, your content must not have a) one drop of common sense, b) any measurable amount of truth (outright lying usually works; salesmen know this and so do many of the more popular Facebook posters - and sometimes these conditions can overlap, amplifying the problem that no one thinks is a problem because liars can come off like the greatest people, which is one reason why salesmanship and psychopathy are so closely related) and c) at it's "best" and/or most truthful be built on highlight-reel video of cats, dogs, mechanical things, and of course the highly objectified feminine physique. Facebook is probably the single largest soft-porn server in the world.

Facebook also functions as an echo chamber to inflate the more popular user's often-fragile ego and a sycophant mill where Like attracts Like - literally. Of course any such echo chamber can only reinforce itself, a mental condition many Facebook users refer to as 'being friends'. These people flourish on Facebook's fertile ground of entirely superficial and mostly misbegotten alliances because only the lowest common denominator can dominate on Facebook. It's the perfect breeding ground for everything that's ever been wrong with human beings.

Here's an easy recipe: create all the empty, pop-sugar, and/or flat-out untrue content that you can - you know, the sort of stuff that even Buzzfeed's editors might just cringe over - and guaranteed, you'll get to become Facebook's bitch, too.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Just began a survey on Opinion Outpost where they ask for your gender (but most of their surveys, in all actuality, do). These ticky boxes read as follows:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Transgender

My mouth dropped open on the last one because OMG progress! Transgender people exist! They even get their own ticky box (in case anyone's wondering I'm fully in favor of LGBT rights so this was a big "wow" moment).

But then I thought about it and wondered if I was right to be happy about this so-called progressive move. Do transgender people want a ticky box that says "transgender"? Or do they just want to be the gender they think they are? This forced me to think about what would be the ideal set of ticky boxes for me - no matter what gender I think of myself as - though of course I started off thinking: "OK, so I'm transgender. Which labels do I want to see on these ticky boxes?"

Hmmmm. How 'bout'...

  • Man
  • Woman
  • Genderfluid

Because even if I'm transgender (disclosure: I'm not; second disclosure: I'm a straight woman) I've probably picked a main gender to be, and I've heard it said that only animals can truly be classified as male or female, so let's get some more humanistic-sounding gender names into the mix - ie., let's be a man or a woman. That's more human-sounding. And "genderfluid" as the next choice - not just because I can be cis but wake up sometimes in the morning feeling more male but because I can be transgender and still be genderfluid! There's just no calling these things!

So my question is, my ticky boxes or theirs? Who's closer to actually getting it right?

BONUS QUESTION: Build yourself the perfect set of ticky boxes in the comments below and I'll add any and all of them to this post - point being I not only want to pick the brains of anyone inclined to have this discussion with me, but I'm trying to expand my own in the process, so it's for a good cause!

Help me think outside the uh, ticky box?

ETA, 2-11 (and sorry for the delay, I'm pulling eight shifts at my jobs this week - but I'll still be happy to add more choices to this post as they come in): as promised, the perfect sets of ticky boxes - and other choices besides ticky boxes - from commenters below:

From [personal profile] andrewducker: "I'd go with some version of the latter. Because, yes, trans people generally want to be seen as the gender they're transitioning to." If Intersex/Genderqueer begins to represent more than 1% of the population, then they should also have ticky boxes, but in the meantime he thinks "a general "bucket" for that category, with a suitable name is probably a good thing".

From [personal profile] firecat: "Best option: No request to disclose gender.

Second best option: A text box instead of tickyboxes."
Ding ding ding, we have a winner! This, by far this, in my opinion.

"Third best option: Man, Woman, Transgender, Genderqueer, Agender, Other, Prefer Not To Answer. (Preferably with the option to tick more than one box.)"

From [personal profile] silveradept: The form should start with the sentence: "I identify as..." which I think is an excellent idea, while their more-perfect list ("That's a start, at least") looks like this:

  • Human
    • Man
    • Woman
    • Genderqueer
    • Genderfucked
    • Genderfluid
    • Two-Spirit
    • Bigender
    • Agender
  • Non-Human/Posthuman
    • Furry
    • Scaly
    • Feathery
    • Robot/Droid
    • Sentient Program
    • Cyber-organism (Cyborg)
    • Magical Construct (including Golems and Tulpas)

[personal profile] darkoshi spoke in favor of "transgender" as a ticky box option for "not male or female".

I know once someone has gender reassignment, using the gender they've come to physically represent becomes extremely important in showing respect for and recognition of their choice, so if it's misidentified or not identified, it can become a sore point that's hard to move past (which was the entire reason I wrote this post).

The term "transgender" as a gender label is, quite frankly, not a gender label (so if someone does not identify as either gender, then I think there should be another name for that). If I have the terminology right, "transgender" is the name of what you did* (see note below) what you are after taking steps to more fully attain your chosen gender, not the name of which gender(s) you don't (or no longer) consider yourself to be.

*Edit, 2-11: based on my conversation with [personal profile] darkoshi below (I get a grammar lesson which apparently I needed!) I've attempted to to edit the last paragraph into something less incoherent than it was a minute ago. Sorry about that.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Tags are a headache. They make no sense on a blog like mine that meanders through so many topics. There's a cost to creating, maintaining and using them that isn't worth it unless the tag in question is very well-defined and limited in scope (ex.: "Tags: people, people: Michael Bolton", "Tags: poems"). Otherwise they're not going to help much. And let me use the last tag to demonstrate why even in limited-scope use, tags suck - OK, so we have "Tags: poems".

Whose poems? Mine? Emily Dickinson's? Shakespeare's? Seriously, I have poems from them and many more people on this blog, besides. I have even reprinted poems written by commenters on TechCrunch. So to make my "poems" tag effective what did I have to do? That's right: make more tags. So now I've got:

Tags: poems
poems: Emily Dickinson
poems: William Shakespeare
poems: some TechCrunch dude

But wait! Maybe you don't want to see poems from these people; you want to see anything I ever wrote about them! Well, up until about 10 minutes ago I had a tag for that. It was called "people". But to make that tag effective, what did I have to do? That's right: list the name of every person I've ever mentioned on this blog under my "people" tag.

So in practice, I had to run two sets of tags - each with its own subset of tags - to cover one scenario: writing about a few people who happen to also write poems. Which looked like this:

Tags: poems
poems: Emily Dickinson
poems: William Shakespeare
poems: some TechCrunch dude
Tags: people
people: Emily Dickinson
people: William Shakespeare
people: some TechCrunch dude

This means that even in best case scenarios, where tags are useful for actually finding what you want, I had to spend time creating, adding to, and updating hundreds of them.

And let me not forget the black hole that was my "misc" tag until 10 minutes ago, when I deleted it. What in the name of hell is a "miscellaneous" tag? What falls under it? Well, a lot of times (but not often enough) I defined that! The topic might've been my computer (which computer? Why, it was "Tags: misc., misc.: computers, misc.: computers: AESOP", of course. But to switch things up sometimes I post under: "Tags: misc., misc.: computers, misc.: computers: ASAP", which is my new laptop. Which isn't at all confusing - really).

Is it worth it for me to spend as much time creating, adding, changing, updating and maintaining my tags each year as I might spend writing and editing anywhere from 5-20 more full-length blog posts? Do people want me to write or do they want me to tag? Because like, maybe three of you ever use them to find something on here. And do I care if search visitors can find what they want? Nope. It's my private journal so if I'm choosing to share it then they can use site and directory search just like everyone else.

That includes Yours Truly - search is the only way I can find ANYTHING on this blog, even with almost 400 tags in use up until about 10 minutes ago, when I deleted them.

Not to mention when you google my journal's name you'll get to view this disaster up close and personal:

Google showing my post tags in results for this blog's name

And what do we have here? Looks like Tag Soup!

"Tags" is the first result after my blog's name. That's helpful. Then there's the "misc." tag - most likely because it had almost All The Posts under it until about 10 minutes ago, when I deleted all my tags. Then there's my "add-ons" tag (seriously?) and my "computers" tag because OMG, Aesop, she still runs, which might be one reason why - it's almost as freaky as having an Apple Lisa that still runs a web server. Oh, wait, that really does happen.

Then there's a link to my icons page and another to a pasta recipe. In other words, Google's spiders can't find anything but Aesop, a pasta recipe, and my add-ons and icons to get excited over, so they take one giant crap on my Tags index and that's what gets published in their results under my blog's NAME. I personally find this a bit embarrassing and extremely unwieldy, as far as truly helpful search results go.

Getting back to how Dreamwidth's site and directory search is the only way I can find anything, the other fucked-up thing about tags is even if you find the one you want, you'll almost inevitably pull up not just one post but maybe 20-100 others under the same tag, so maybe the post you're after is located 35 posts back, so you'll hit the "Previous" button no less than four times - while you wait for no less than four pages to load - to find the one post you're actually after.

I don't see this as providing an actual service for anyone trying to find what they need.

Tags (and Wordpress's similar, often concurrently used Categories heading) came about when everything else screwed-up about the Web did: shortly after the Web became a thing. Back when Google couldn't find stuff so good and people had no way to know where anything on your blog was without the little suckers nestled under every post, you needed some way to hierarchically order what you'd written, not just so you could find it (since there was no such thing as search for your blog) but so everyone else could, too.

Tagging is antiquated. Search - both in-blog/on-site and search engine search - is good enough and fast enough now that it's not necessary to tag unless you write around a specific topic and need to keep pointing readers to articles that fall under the heading of "People who read this also read...". Anti-AOL, with its how-to articles, is one example of needing good breadcrumb navigation to keep your reader's minds from exploding in confusion. And no, without using the search box I helpfully put at the very top of the sidebar, I can't find anything on that blog, either.

But as for this blog, I think I'm done with tags. If I were to change my mind it would be because after nearly 10 years of blogging I've finally figured out how to encapsulate all the topics I cover in less than 50 tags with little if any sub-tagging needed. Which is Mission Impossible - for sure.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

As I've seen it painted here and there (and seriously, I'm going to throw my Dem voter reg card at one of you, because if politicizing the issue is how you're going to deal with this, you can keep that sucker) why not use this Senator's demand as a good excuse to take the time to decide on the facts?

It seems pretty simple: either stop requiring employees to wash their hands after using the restroom or beef up existing hand-washing laws to require that soap dispensers are no longer refilled and no longer contain any anti-bacterial ingredients.

As someone with plenty of experience around this issue I can tell you I've never been happy that I'm forced to coat my hands and arms in an ingredient that risks making me sick when on top of that most places I've worked in do the 'just-dump-more-soap-in-the-dispenser' type of thing. So I have to coat my hands with more germs than were on them to begin with - with added triclosan! - to make sure no one else gets sick, when obviously doing neither thing helps anyone stay one bit more germ-free or healthy. So yes, OK, in that case, this is insane, and I'm tired of paying the price for it, so just outlaw the hand-washing requirement.

As employees we have no control over which soap our employers use nor how their soap dispensers are refilled, so make it NOT a requirement that employees wash their hands until we can finally codify into law the science of using the right soap and figure out how to use soap dispensers correctly. It's not that this Senator had such a great idea; it's that if done properly, hand-washing can save lives, so this a conversation our nation needs to have, anyway. Why not have it now?

Link Dump

Feb. 4th, 2015 09:10 pm
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)
  • Six signs I am a sensitive person This article basically describes every moment of my entire life going back to the moment I was born and screamed too much, most likely because I just wanted to crawl right back in. Coinkidinky? Probably not (if you can just remember key things like "everything both seen and unseen - including things which are merely felt - can rattle her" you're halfway to understanding how my brain works - sort of). Immersing myself - whether voluntarily or against my will - in certain rattling things can sometimes undo the effect - for instance, from living in what became a ghetto for too many years, I'm unafraid of hearing gunfire, which is probably not the safest thing to be unafraid of. The fun part? Hearing it is the one time everyone else but me becomes jumpy and afraid.
  • Six steps to washing your hair right - 1) Don't. Wash. It. At. All. I need to follow Step 1 more. In the meantime I've kind of fallen in love with Dove Oxygen shampoo/conditioner - it makes my hair bouncy like the hair in Pert commercials (anyone remember those - or Flex shampoo commercials? OMG, bounce). Which reminds me - anyone notice how in the 80s women's hair had to bounce, in the 90s it had to be smooth, and now it has to swing and shimmer quite unrealistically, almost like doll's hair (Pantene, I'm shaking a finger at you)? As much as I like Dove Oxygen I won't be giving up Vo5 Green Tea anytime soon (.84 cents a bottle at Wally World - this is what you buy when you've hit the Big Time, yo) because while the Dove gives me bounce, it also makes my hair straight, while the Vo5 basically turns me into Mariah Carey - and I love all the waves and curls.
  • Try to pronounce these! Fifteen unique illnesses you can only come down with if you're German, which I am. The good news is I only grapple with #6, #7, #11, #13 and #14. On a regular basis. Every day of my life. ZIVILISATIONSKRANKHEIT is my favorite one to say out loud (probably not so well, as I say 'Zivilization KRANK-hite', like the "hite" in "Fahrenheit"). Which reminds me, I went out for Chinese with someone a few weeks ago and the guy running the restaurant was German. German! Which I knew from his accent. I didn't mean to stop and stare for five minutes while he helped at the counter but he never noticed so I did. I was transfixed. I haven't heard a good German accent since the last time I watched The Thornbirds - which had to be 20 years ago. I mean, German is an ugly, rough-sounding language and even looks as ridiculous on paper as it can sound - sort of like someone grunting and choking on dry biscuits. The restaurant owner's accent and Rainer's were identical, though - so soothing to my ears.
  • And lastly, in "casting the blame elsewhere" news of the year, the cause of addiction has been discovered, and it's YOU. A very excited journalist traipses down Casting Blame Lane like the Lion on the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz singing, "If we only had our hearts"! Because addiction has nothing to do with the addict; the fault lies with everyone else. I almost didn't take this guy seriously but as his words grew more impassioned and flat-out manipulative I realized that it's your job to fix me, yo. Because I smoke. And I can't stop because you people just won't love me enough. So here's the answer: Love me enough! Fill in the cracks and crevices in my heart that I must paint over with nicotine and flood out with the occasional Bloody Mary or glass of wine or two or three just to cope with how little love you give and how much love I really, really need. It's all your fault!

*sips a Bloody Mary; waits*

Not to even mention - in all seriousness - that people aren't rats. I hope.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Long overdue picture dump because I'm tired of a) you folks not knowing what I look like, b) nor knowing that I can take pictures and c) just to catch up. There are probably some other dumps (non-photographic, more in the screenshot area) that I need to upload, but I haven't even looked through those folders recently.

Let the right-click to embiggening begin...

Me, with raised brow, 2010 or 2011

This was taken fresh out of the shower at my mom's place 3 or 4 years ago. I've always liked the dramatic raised eyebrow thing I did there. [personal profile] revolutemind has copies of this and a few others taken that night. You have to ignore the date - the camera's date mechanism sort of died toward the end (though I only threw the camera out maybe a month ago because it had to charge 24/7, would die within a minute of use and 1MGP doesn't really cut it anymore).


Me, relaxing, spring 2013

This was taken on a day off from CVS less than two years ago at my roommate's former apartment and sent by request to someone I was seeing at the time who wanted to know what I was up to at that exact moment. It was not his favorite pic of me but it was one of mine because it's very relaxed and real.


Stuie and the dog, November 2014

This is the last time Stuie and my ex's dog were photographed together. The shot was taken by me. The dog died just two weeks later. You could never tell by looking at this or other pictures I took that night that she was sick. But she was very sick (with a golf ball size bladder tumor - I got to see the x-ray, eventually).


Stuie belly up not too far from a table, Christmas 2013

This, if I recall correctly, was a shot of Stuie taken during or right after Christmas of 2013. That is one huge table sitting behind him, isn't it? Guess how much it weighs?


River by my former place, spring 2014
River by my former place, spring 2014

This is just me showing off all my mad photos-taking skillz. These are pictures of the river nearby my former place that I snapped in early spring of last year.


Shoe bag spice holder, Jan. 2015

Yes, this is a shoe bag, which was my solution last month to me and the roomie sharing a thousand spices but having no proper rack to put them up in. Seeing it in action for the first time (never tried that before!) about tickled me to death.


Going crazy with the stickers on my laptop, Jan. 2015
More stickers on my laptop, Jan. 2015

I make pretty-pretty. You like?


Stuie relaxing on a couch, Jan. 2015

Last, but not least; a picture of Stuie taken about a month ago while he sat on the back of one of our couches.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I taught myself how to use the x-axis, the y-axis and apparently something (perhaps it's defined as "the result of using the x- and y-axis") called the origin. To the pixel. While using MeasureIt to judge my work like it's being inspected for presentation to a so-far non-existent client. I mean, that only took me all the years I've ever coded in CSS, or all nine of them.

I, uh, understand why it's needed now that I see it in use correctly (long story short, it helps line up the letters used in typography with like, x-ray precision - and my maternal great-grandfather ran his own printing shop back in the 1890s through 1950s or so, I think, which probably gives a genetic spur to my curiosity about all things printing-related). I actually always understood why it was needed and I've read plenty on how to line up coordinates and studied pictures and looked at graphs and so on and for some reason in action I could never get it quite right. There's something about being a reticent and/or sometimes lazy coder mixed up in this somehow but I'm not sure how that all intersects, exactly.

Maybe I would learn a lot faster if someone else was teaching me. I am entirely self-taught, but that doesn't mean the self-teaching process has always - or at all - gone smoothly or all that well.

So tonight I whipped out MeasureIt and got the meeting spot for the letter X to intersect with the middle of the letter M which magically made all the letters line up to the left of themselves (but not to the right, because the widths are not the same, which was where I was constantly going wrong - in assuming they were). Then - just for kicks - I did the same thing with the corresponding images (they don't really have coordinates, being non-font-based images, but I got it about close enough, I guess).

I'm just enough of a geek that this counts as one of the biggest coding thrills I've had in years.

Here are some screen caps of the results:

blog icons with y-axis
blog icon's left alignment
blog icons lined up
blog icons lined up

Also, I've always thought the biggest headache with this layout is the pixel-perfection it requires. But sometimes that same fussiness teaches me new things, or shows me where I was lazy or not thinking something through or taking all use cases into account, and for that I'm almost grateful for how hard it is to keep straight, as opposed to a less design-y, more text-y, and therefore more forgiving layout, which would probably lead me to be about the most lazy and short-sided coder there is (because if there's an easy or more non-thinking way out of something I'll often take it - this is as true in my coding as it's been in any other area of my learning or application of my learning where deep thought is pretty much required - if I can get by with less effort and get more time to do other things, I will choose the "do other things" option almost every time).

Even Google was easier to code, back when I was still furiously updating my script for it, than this layout has ever been. Google's HTML was much harder to untangle and use effectively, which was the one area of coding for it that I always struggled with. But as far as fussiness goes, Google's code is not half as pixel-perfect or in need of pixel-perfection as my own blog. Which is kinda strange, indeed.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

It feels really, really weird to have a whole slew of Inbox notifications not coming to my actual, off-site inbox. Nothing since the 18th - which was over 3 days ago. My Outlook.com box exists solely to feed me all the messages from this account so imagine how strange it's been to see it empty for three days when the bits and bytes should be flying in and out just as usual.

No DW News notification. No comment notifications, and no copies of my replies. I mean, when I asked Denise in the News post yesterday about it also being a live.com/outlook.com issue (and it is, it really is) I thought maybe it was a fluke I didn't get my DW News notification - the first thing I would've had in my Inbox in days.

But now that I get no notifications at all I can see it's no fluke - this is the real deal, and us Microsoft users are pretty much screwed until further notice. I don't want to jump the gun until Denise makes an announcement, but if I have to give up live.com over this I will not be happy. And no, I'm not going to blame her or Mark one little bit. I can't see why Microsoft can't differentiate our little social circles here from a huge Russian spam syndicate of some sort but honestly, it seems they can't. I remember AOL having the same problem, blocking email from so many websites over the years it actually got to be one of the most infamous things about them. But this doesn't feel quite the same to me. It feels like an algorithmic error that MS can't be arsed to use human beings to look into and correct. But they're not AOL and as long as they're not AOL it's hard for me to be mad at them for this.

The thing is, I really don't want to switch email providers. I've tried them all - all the more well-known ones, anyway - all the ones you've seen listed on About.com - and I think they suck compared to MS's swoopy, glide-y, and ridiculously easy to use email. I love the way Outlook.com looks, feels, filters, acts, responds and functions. It really does do most of the thinking and heavy lifting for you so while it's a bit of a learning curve to get into it, it was well worth it for me in the long run to figure out just how it works. And I've gotten very, very used to what it offers.

FWIW, I will pry both my eyes out with a fork before I transfer DW's email to GMail, which has become so hard to use lately I don't bother anymore, and AOL's service is really not so hot (though, as always, I do still have a soft spot for AIM). I have one Yahoo account, as a few of you know since we use it, but I can't stand the interface or functionality as compared to Outlook's. So I don't see a lot of viable options here if I have to step away from the one I have now.