What I did on my “day off”

I’ve had an interesting couple of days away from reading Mary Oliver, frustrating days, particularly because I’d much rather be reading her poetry than doing what had to be done.

Let me just say that I suddenly received a record number of comments to my site starting last night around midnight. I happened to still be online because I’ve somehow rediscovered Baldur’s Gate II (but that’s another story best left untold). So, I decided to check my email one last time before turning in for an un-deserved rest, considering that I’d managed to fritter most of a day away walking in the sunshine and playing with my computer.

Anyway, as the email page on Entourage scrolled by, I realized that something very bad was happening. Now, I have gotten an unusually large number of emails lately telling me that email I’d never sent out had not been received. Well, obviously I deleted them immediately and downloaded the latest updates to Norton Virus.

But, no, this was something totally new, totally different. As page after page of screen rolled by, I managed to read enough to realize that all the emails were coming from my website and were all records of new “comments” that had been added to my site. After Entourage nearly chocked on the onslaught, and my mind frantically tried to grasp what was happening, I finally managed to open an email, find the address that they all seemed to be coming from, open MT and ban the IP address. That stemmed the flow, though my webpage sputtered out more email for hours trying to catch up with the overflow.

I probably would have reacted quicker if my blood pressure hadn’t risen quite so high when I realized what was happening. Turns out being totally pissed, isn’t always the best way to solve a problem, though I suspect in retrospect that I’m probably going to die of a stroke from high blood pressure rather from some benign cancerous growth.

I remembered my favorite technical expertress had recently given advice on how to totally shut down comments, but I couldn’t find the email or remember the advice. The truth is that I’ve relied on my D-list status as a blogger to keep me safe from these kinds of attacks. I’ve occasionally gotten slammed with junk comments, but nothing that a few minutes of attention couldn’t take care of.

Although it would have been best to just go to bed and worry about the problem the next day, I was far too pissed to do that. In fact, the adrenaline flow nearly carried me through the entire ordeal of manually deleting the comments, five at a time, for the next two and a half hours before I finally went to bed knowing that some son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t get the satisfaction of a few more hits to his miserable gambling site because he’d managed to catch me unawares.

It would have helped if my technical expertress hadn’t gone to bed already. After all it was only 2:00 a.m. where she lived so why would she need to get some sleep? If I’d waited for her advice that appeared in the morning mail, it probably would have taken me 10 minutes to delete all the comments, that is, once I found where to enter the command line to delete all comments after a certain time on my MYSQL page. I never did find that, but thanks to her advice I did find a simple way of deleting comments using “phpMyAdmin.”

Considering the headache I get every time I go near MYSQL, I thought the two hours I spent discovering that shortcut just in case I get hit again was time well-spent, especially because I simultaneously discovered the joy of doing a MYSQL “dump” of my site before updating it to the latest version of Movable Type and adding in Jay Allen’s well-known Blacklist, yes that program I’ve been avoiding installing in much the way I’ve avoided flu shots in the past.

Actually, updating Movable Type wasn’t especially hard, especially since I’ve gone through the process several times now. It did, however, necessitate finally purchasing Panic’s Transmit so I didn’t have to mess with Adobe GoLive’s ftp program. Installing blacklist wasn’t that difficult, either, once I remembered that a “.” is not the same as a “-,” at least not as far as computers are concerned.

Still, it’s 3:00 p.m., I’ve spent most of the day trying to learn enough to deal with this kind of event more wisely, and I’m not confident I’m any safer from another attack than I was last night. I know a hell of a lot more than I did last night, but I doubt they were sitting around doing nothing all day. Once again, it reminds me of Yossarian’s lament in Catch-22, “When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent moral impulse and every human tragedy.”

UPDATE: I’ve also updated my site using the code discussed in step 3 at Shelley’s site. I might even end up using the code discussed in step four,but I’m not technologically apt enough to understand thecomplaint. I’m sure someone will eventually explain the problem with the redirect to me.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver’s Poems from 1963 to 1979

When I first looked at Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, I was a little disappointed that the new poems were at the front of the book and the older poems at the end. While that’s convenient if you’re picking up a book by a familiar poet, it’s less convenient if you’ve just discovered a poet. Personally, I always want to read the earlier poems first because it seems helpful to me to see how a poet’s ideas develop. With that in mind, I started reading the end of her book first in hope’s of discovering basic themes that appear throughout her poetry.

Since some friends had noted that they didn’t particularly like her poetry, I was pleasantly surprised by how just how much I did like her poems. Her first poems remind me a lot of Thomas Hardy, or, considering her “Three Poems for James Wright,” her fellow Ohioan, Wright. Philosophically, she seems like a cross between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robinson Jeffers, especially in a poem like:


On winter’s margin, see the small birds now
With half-forged memories come flocking home
To gardens famous for their charity.
The green globe’s broken; vines like tangled veins
Hang at the entrance to the silent wood.

With half a loaf, I am the prince of crumbs;
By time snow’s down, the birds amassed will sing
Like children for their sire to walk abroad!
But what I love, is the gray stubborn hawk
Who floats alone beyond the frozen vines;
And what I dream of are the patient deer
Who stand on legs like reeds and drink the wind;-

They are what saves the world: who choose to grow
Thin to a starting point beyond this squalor.

Perhaps I was drawn to the first stanza of the poem because I love having a bird feeder in the winter even if it means traipsing outside in the snow or rain every day to refill it, while flocks of small birds sit in the plum tree waiting for me to leave. For a little while, I, too, feel like “the prince of crumbs.”

But it is really the second stanza, and even more, the third stanza, that make this poem memorable for me. The Emersonian view of nature is suddenly transformed into the darker view of nature, and man himself, projected in Robinson Jeffers’ “Hurt Hawk.” It’s suddenly as if the wrens betray their own nature in order to survive through man’s generosity, but the hawk circling all alone rejects man’s help and, in doing so, “saves the world,” or, at least saves it from man’s domination of nature.

“Entering The Kingdom” reminds me of Emerson’s famous “transparent eyeball,” though I much prefer Oliver’s metaphorical “lens of attention:”


The crows see me.
They stretch their glossy necks
In the tallest branches
Of green trees. I am
Possibly dangerous, I am
Entering the kingdom.

The dream of my life
Is to lie down by a slow river
And stare at the light in the trees-
To learn something by being nothing
A little while but the rich
Lens of attention.

But the crows puff their feathers and cry
Between me and the sun,
And I should go now.
They know me for what I am.
No dreamer,
No eater of leaves.

Crows are constant companions here at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, never letting you forget you’re an intruder, an outsider threatening what little wildlife manages to cling to existence in this little bit of Old Growth Forest preserved as a monument to what once was but can never truly be again.

And, though like Oliver, I often wish, and even attempt, to be one with nature, I, too, am forced to realize that it is little more than a dream, more fleeting than even the trees that disappear before my eyes. No matter how much we may wish otherwise, we are still outsiders, cut off from Nature, by our very nature, by our very ability to think, our ability to stand outside ourselves and observe nature.

Banished from this natural Garden of Eden, some seem bent on destroying the garden itself, while others of us dream of returning to a Oneness that is itself Edenic, risking constant banishment for a glimpse of that once and future kingdom.


Using Green Power to Defeat Bush

Although I’ve run into a few snags getting started on Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, things like unseasonably sunny weather far too beautiful to stay inside reading and a Friday night devoted to taking care of two busy grandchildren, I did finish my weekly article for Open Source Politics. It is my fondest wish that the Democrats will be “Using Green Power to Defeat Bush”


I Told You I was a Liberal, and Proud of It

I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing politics on this blog, as I’ve already said, but after last night’s State of the Union Address, I’ve certainly given more thought than usual to politcs.

I really haven’t decided on a candidate, though I know I’m going to support the Democratic candidate. However, I decided it was about time to take a closer look at which Democrat I should support.

It seemed to me that the 2004 AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SELECTOR at would be a good place to start. Here are my results from their test:

Sharpton, Reverend Al – Democrat “”(87%)””
Dean, Gov. Howard, VT – Democrat “”(84%)”
Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR – Democrat “”(83%)”
Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH – Democrat “”(79%)””
Edwards, Senator John, NC – Democrat “”(72%)””
Kerry, Senator John, MA – Democrat “”(67%)””
Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT – Democrat “”(45%)
Libertarian Candidate “”(35%)””
Phillips, Howard – Constitution “”(10%)””
Bush, President George W. – Republican “”(6%)””

Now, historically I’ve had some real issues with Reverends Sharpton’s style, so I must admit that I was rather taken aback when he came out number one on my list. I was less surprised with how close Dean and Clark are, because those are the two that I have been unable to decide between, though I think Dean is a slight favorite. I suspect that this test, like my much-beloved Briggs-Meyers test, leaves nearly as much out as it considers when it narrows the questions down to 17 questions. I know several INTP’s and, though we share some personality characteristics, we are quite different in vital ways. At least this test is a place to start, though.

Now that I’ve got some indication of which candidates I “most agree with,” I guess I’ll be doing some more reading on my three top candidates,particularly in regard to environmental issues.

I’ve also subscribed to organization that “fact checks” politicians. There’s already quite a few articles on line, and they emailed me an analyis of Bush’s State of the Union Address right after it was done.

While reading The Christian Science Monitor, I also discovered Columbia Journalism Review’s The Campaign Desk which critques and analyzes political coverage.

I don’t think it would surprise any of my regular readers to learn that I’ve also subscribed to ttp://Environment2004/ updates and, of course, to MoveOn.Org.