It’s Complicated

I’m beginning to remember why I procrastinate so long before updating my web site. I’m sure that I make updating harder than it needs to be, but all those years of advising yearbook have probably scarred me. I want things the way I want them to be; I want them to be “perfect,” or at least pass for perfect.

I spent most of a day learning how to upload pictures for the header, originally substituting my own photos for the photos that came with the theme. That worked for one photo, but it wouldn’t allow me to alternate pictures, something I was looking forward to. I had to review file permissions, only to discover in the end that I had failed to switch server addresses when my host switched servers.

Then I realized that the theme was displaying my photos at a reduced size and at a different width than the main copy. That just plain looked wrong to me. So I spent several hours looking at CSS code trying to figure out how to adjust the width. I ended up doing an online search on how to code a fixed width. Once I found that, it was relatively easy to make the adjustments I needed.

Today I went to work making sense out of the blogroll on the side. I didn’t have to figure out how to do anything, but it was the kind of work I really hate: boring, tedious, repetitive work. When I started a blogroll years ago there were no RSS readers, so I used the blogroll to visit fellow bloggers. For the last two or three years I’ve been using a RSS reader. Since it updates automatically, I tend to miss it when some bloggers quit blogging, especially if they never leave comments on my site. Over the years I’ve also added blogs to my RSS reader without adding them to the blogroll, usually so that I can decide if I’m going to go read their blogs consistently. By now, the lists barely resemble each other. To make things even more complicated, when I did check out each site today I had to decide whether the person is still blogging or not. It’s amazing how many people seem to feel guilty about quitting their blog and drop in occasionally to say that they’ll begin again shortly. If someone hasn’t posted for a year, it’s pretty easy to drop them from the blogroll. If they published once in July and once in August I begin to question whether they’re really blogging or have deserted blogging for Facebook and Twitter. I was surprised how hard it was for me to delete bloggers I’ve been reading and enjoying for four or five years. In the end, I compromised and deleted them from the blogroll but kept them on my RSS reader. That way if they start publishing again I’ll be able to add them back.

Somewhere in the middle of all this I’ve been fighting problems that have emerged since upgrading to Lion and Aperture, and apparently I’m not the only one having problems with the two not interacting nicely. I’m still not sure if I’ve got the problem solved and I probably won’t publish my latest Rainier pictures, except those in the header, until I’ve solved the problem.

Nothing Stands Still

Notice anything unusual? I’ve been working behind the scenes today trying to change a few things around here.

Most important of all, I finally updated to the latest version of WordPress, without a single problem.

That inspired me to change themes, something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while but just haven’t felt I wanted to mess around with the site’s CSS style sheet, something I have to do to ensure that material I’ve quoted is set off properly and doesn’t look like something I’ve written.

Things will probably look a little different every day around here for a while. Although I’ve already managed to change the code that I felt I had to change before I could even change themes, there’s a lot more code that I want to change to make this theme feel more like my own.

First, I want to change the photo at the top of the page, but that will entail finding shots that fit that format, which might not be that easy to do.

Then I want to change the background color and the color of the links, and then fine tune the other fonts. I’m heading to Mt. Rainier tomorrow and Vancouver one day next week, so don’t expect miracles overnight, but hopefully you’ll like the new look and find some of the changes make it more enjoyable to read this site.

Moral ethics are the basis of world peace — The Dalai Lama

Yesterday’s blog entry reminded me of another blog entry I’d planned awhile ago and then put off because I had pictures I wanted to post.

In general, I’ve learned to avoid Twitter like the plague, but there’s one Twitter feed that I’ve continued to download daily since my earlier exploration of the media: The Dalai Lama’s:

In a world that seems to increasingly be dominated by stupidity, there’s something refreshing about reading at least one intelligent thought a day.

Another haiku

Awhile ago I mentioned I was reading Patricia Donegan’s haiku mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Heart (I also mentioned that I doubted I could manage to read a new entry every day, and I haven’t) and I have returned to it several times between hiking trips. Some entries are better than others, but there are times when I wonder if an entry has been put there knowing I would come to it on a specific day.

This is one of those entries:


don’t hit the fly-
he prays with his hands
and with his feet


The Dalai Lama was once asked how to teach children com- passion in a world full of violence and intolerance. And he replied, “teach them to like and respect insects.” For if we can learn to care about something that is tiny, strange, and not always easy to relate to, then we can realize that insects, like everything in Nature, share the same life. And in turn we could eventually realize that all human beings-not just our particular group or country-also share the same life. Haiku is a way to remember how everything is connected in our world, and if we feel connected we will not harm things, but rather care for them. Haiku is often about noticing and caring for the small; more than any other haiku poet, Issa was known for his compassion toward small creatures. This was an idea taken from Issa’s belief in Pure Land Buddhism namely that we should not harm any creatures, from human beings down to insects, and that we should have compassion toward them because we are all part of the same life force Haiku is an apt reminder that in order to nurture our compassion toward other people and the world, we can begin by extending our compassion to all living things in Nature, by starting with insects like the tiny fly. Starting with the small.

ISSA KOBAYASHI (1763-1828). One of the three greatest traditional japanese male haiku poets, along with Basho and Buson. As a Pure Land Buddhist, he espoused compassion for all living things, perhaps because he himself had a life of poverty and personal tragedy See his autobiographical haibun collection, Oraga Ham (The Spring of My Life) from 1819.

This is a fairly famous haiku, or at least well-known enough that even I’ve encountered it before. I suspect I would have glossed right over it if hadn’t been for the commentary by the Dalai Lama — that and a couple of synonymous incidents.

First, a grandson was having trouble with an older boy at day camp because he told the boy not to kill insects. The grandson loves finding and studying insects and once the older boy found that out he took great joy in stomping any insects he saw. It ended up with the older boy trying to intimidate the grandson.

Meanwhile Shelley Powers has been calling attention to puppy mills in Missouri, and animal abuse, in general. It’s shocking how people exploit animals, but it’s even more shocking that groups like the Tea Party seem to be defending those who abuse animals because the animals are personal property and the government has no right to interfere.

All in all, I’m afraid these events show just how insightful the Dalai Lama’s comments are.