It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!!!

Yup, still alive and kicking. As noted earlier, I’m in the process of moving all of my sites onto a small VPS instead of having them scattered around the net. Been having problems as I’m also using the experience to install Nginx and learn it as it’s a webserver I’ve not used before. Setting up the basic server wasn’t too hard although php kept crashing every time I turned away from it. (That was those Bad Gateway errors folks were seeing.) Getting cgi’s to run on Nginx wasn’t fun either.  Thanks to all those who emailed to let me know that there was a problem. Part of the reason why I’m doing this, outside of a legal opinion that got handed down to me concerning my hosting and what I get in trade to host some sites, was that I really need a proxy to view the web here in the library.  They just censor too many sites and I have to keep firing up Tor to get around their blocks when I’m trying to help folks. (OK, that last link only had a single return but I hope you get the idea.) All of my sites should be working again although there is the occasional issue.  Search and the tags here don’t currently work since I’m having problems with the rewrite rules. (Note to self: Post about it to hopefully get some help.)  Nginx’s error logs are empty but I did find the fix for that.  I added a bunch of photos to the Gallery install if you want to check them out.  Hopefully I can re catalog them shortly. Please let me know if you see something...

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Getting Paid to Ring the Bell

Yup, it’s almost Christmas time again. Where has the year gone? I’ve already started thinking about ringing the bell for the Salvation Army again this holiday season.  This makes the sixth year I’ll be doing so I believe. And, yes, I get paid for doing so.  Before you get upset about that, I’ll point out that what I make gets used to keep me going and afloat.  I don’t make much during the year and most of the other bellringers, many of them area homeless, don’t either. Not sure where I’ll be this year.  I’m shooting for the Macy’s again since there’s a library near by and it’s a location I can walk to without much issue. What got me thinking about this, besides some of my local clients asking about it, is this recent post about bellringers.  The following is the comment I left about my experiences.  I copy it below since it appears to be a WordPress blog and I don’t want to lose the comment due to any Akismet censoring. Just to clarify, some of the bellringers do get paid for their time.  I’m one of them.  Being a three time stroke survivor, my doctors will allow me to do little physical labor.  While I do a little webhosting and consulting that pays the rent and medical bills, this barely covers my expenses during the year.  I actually look forward to the 6 weeks with the Salvation Army every year as 1) it gets me out of the house and in the public interacting with folks and 2) what I earn myself helps me out greatly.  Most of the rest of the bellringers are area homeless men and what they earn helps them out as well.  New clothes and shoes, leasing a storage locker for a year, a new radio, bus passes for a few months, presents for their own children, etc. are some of the things that these men buy with their money. Not every market is like this.  They do it like this way here in Charlotte every year because there aren’t enough volunteers to cover.  One a typical day, we have 60-100 spots with buckets with maybe 1 or 2 manned by volunteers.  Saturdays are better but still there’s less than a half dozen groups. Most folks assume that I’m a volunteer.  Many of the bellringers fool folks into believing so but if asked, I tell the truth, explain why I do so and mention the lack of volunteer coverage.  There’s usually some shock when I first mention that I’m paid.  Either that or an assumption that I’m actually a Salvation Army officer who’s just out of uniform.  After taking the time to explain, I’ve yet have a single person get mad at me though. I have two beefs though.  The first is the Target situation.  I’m assuming that the company you discuss in your post is Target.  Most folks praise WalMart for allowing the Salvation Army to contain to ring in front of their stores but this isn’t cut and dry.  Five years ago, they were allowed to ring each and every day during the season.  Last year, we had a total of 5 days.  I’m not privy to numbers but this is thousands of dollars lost in their fund raising.  Next time you visit a local WalMart and notice there no one is ringing, please take the time to mention your displeasure that they days have been reduced. The other beef I have is with folks who brag about their bellringing.  I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had to listen...

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Ringing a Bell For the Salvation Army

Well, I’m ringing a bell this year for the Salvation Army this holiday season.  It’ll be the 5th year I’ve done it in the last 6.  It’s not a great job but it;s better than nothing, it helps folks out this holiday season, and will hopefully put a few bucks in my pocket.  We start on the 22nd. It’s going to be really bad this year and I have to admit that I’m a bit concerned. Wal-Mart is only allowing the bellringers outside their stores for a few days this season instead of every day like they did when Target stopped allowed the kettles. (But yet, no one is reporting on that.  Hmmm…) That’s a big chunk of change that the Salvation Army isn’t going to get.  There’s also five less days to rind as well this year.  Another big chunk gone. But yet the Charlotte Salvation Army has something like three times the number of children signed up this year over last for their Christmas gift program.  And they’re still signing families up.  We do get some idiot bellringers who steal out of the kettles.  I wonder if they’ll ever realize that they’re stealing from little kids. And yes, I do get paid. Have to admit that I’ve always been bothered by that as I wish I could do it for free but what money I do get really helps me out, gets me caught up on my medical bills, and gives me a bit of extra cash for the first few months of the new year.  We’re lucky to get maybe 4 or 5 local volunteer groups on Saturday every week that’ll handle 4 or 5 of those buckets.  Of course we have nearly a hundred every day for six days a week.  Without those who get paid, there really wouldn’t be any kettles out there and no money would get raised.  Necessary evil I guess. If you would like to stop by and say hello, most days I’ll be at the Macy’s at South Park Mall here in Charlotte.  I’ll most likely be on the side towards Morrison Blvd on the back side of the mall.  Sounds like a rather poor location but I usually do fairly well out there.  If you feel like bringing by coffee, I won’t complain. (Cream and sugar please.  Carmel shots would be a plus. ) Have to admit that I’m wondering how I’m going to eat for the first week or so.  Not sure if folks remember but I live off a very small check that I get at the beginning of the month.  I won’t have any money for those first two weeks and, since I won’t be doing any volunteering, I know I’m not going to be getting any food from them.  Not looking forward to it. The Shirley Temple picture is from here.  I wanted to use this picture but there’s a big old copyright on it with no permission to reuse. Oh well.  At the very least, I can link to...

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How Matt Mullenweg and Automattic deals with complaints

Looks like I “offended” Matt Mullenweg a bit too much.  Write a pair of posts describing how they have ignored a long list of splog reports and I now have my wordpress.com account suspended and my posts in the support forums edited without permission.  But in addition to that, I’ve been blackballed by Akismet and it appears that my comments on wordpress.com are being trashed automatically. (A picture of that after the fold.  Guess I won’t be posting comments to your blog anymore, wank.) What bothers me about all this is that it started on Matt’s end when I suggested that since most of the support forum volunteers were not going to be able to attend the first WordCamp, that it would be a great idea if Automattic would drop each of them a tshirt into the mail.  That way Matt and crew would show how thankful they were for the time and the work that they put in.  This, of course, didn’t fly over too well and since that point, many of us noticed a “cooling” of staff’s attitudes towards those who helped out. There, I said it.  All this because of a lousy tshirt.  A simple gesture that would have taken at most an hour or two and would have meant a lot of some people.  Hell, the gallery folks sent me a tshirt for reporting an issue with their website. (I still need to blog about that.  There’s pictures here and here.  Yes, it was 6:30 in the morning.  It was early and I was tired and hadn’t shaved.) Since that time, I’ve had Matt and others from Automattic lie about me, post insults, make light of my physical handicaps, and make light of my former relationship with my ex fiancee.  While he goes on and on about how approachable he is, he has refused numerous times to discuss how his company has acted towards me and has refused to follow up on the questions that I raised. All this does prove three things though.  WordPress.com is not pro free speech, not pro customer service and fully believes in censorship.  Can’t wait for the next time Matt gets up on his soap box shouting out to the whole world how they support it so...

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Working on the chaingang

I’m spending the day working on broken posts and a couple of small projects.  If you see something broken around here, please let me know here in the comments.

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Looking back at January

Breakfast was cool.  Had eggs, bacon, and biscuits.  I think I was the only non-church person there so i had to introduce myself a number of times but I didn’t mind.  I walk by the church twice every day when I head over to UNCC.  Didn’t get any pictures as my batteries died with the other breakfast this morning under the bridge. I finally got a chance to look over the most read posts for January.  I probably should do some sort of Top Post widget in the sidebar. (edit: Done now.) – Download Dragon Magazine and it’s Part #2 article. – Mac Desktop Wallpapers – 50 Things NOT to do at Hogwarts (And I feel bad about that as it’s not even mine.) – Robot Chicken: Charlie Brown And The Great Pumpkin – Download Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? (You can but not with those links.) – Family Guy Videos – Rock Lobster – Movable Type 4.1 gets released (*shrug* All I said was that it was released.) – Crash on Volturnus – Chapter 1 (I really should go back and work on that. I liked writing that stuff.) – Pairings (Another old Daria fanfiction piece that I had written way back when.) – How to stop the irritating “Updating your computer is almost complete – Restart Now?”...

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Under the bridge at 6:20am

I‘ve mentioned a number of times that I do work with some of the area organizations that work with the area homeless.  I took this picture this morning under the bridge as both volunteers and  neighbors were waiting for the supply van to show up.  It’s 6:20am in the morning, it’s still dark, directly overhead is I-277 that loops around the uptown area of Charlotte, and it was something like 30 degrees this morning. I would have taken more but the batteries died in the camera. (I’ll explain more about that later on.) I just wanted to share the...

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Someone asked for a picture…

Gotta admit that I hate doing pictures but I had someone send me this one from when I was on the first train out of the station when the LYNX light rail system started on Nov. 24th.  Even beat all the higher ups who were supposed to be on the first train. (Not sure why.  We started at the 7th Street Station while they started at the Transit Center.) Got lucky as well.  Had just finished helping Calvary Church serving breakfast to the homeless that morning.  I was walking over to CPCC to use the library and the train was just sitting there. Got a t-shirt out of it at...

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