Do I Resolve or Not?

In a little less than seven hours, we will be stepping into a new year in Atlantic Canada. People like Damian are already several hours into the new year, which is always a strange notion when you think about it a little bit. But what’s an even weirder notion is that it’s already been six years since we glided into Y2K.

As tradition wants, I will be attending the 10th annual Eggs & Roses party with the Queen of Sheba, the Grand Poobah of Culinary Delights, and other assorted guests. It will be a good evening and I look forward to it for the most part. But there is a little part of me that’s not looking forward to it.

I find a bit depressing the fact that I keep seeing the same hopes and aspirations appearing on my rose from year to year. And I think this realization is a bit more stinging this time because it’s the 10th consecutive year for this event. I do think I have evolved on a personal level, but on the professional level, I feel I haven’t moved forward as much as one would expect someone would in 10 years.

In turn, this realization probably explains why I’ve always been reticent to make new year resolutions. They can be such a letdown if you don’t succeed. Even looking back at my blog entry two years back, when I thought I was entering a pivotal year, is a bit of a letdown. I haven’t taken any step backwards; just not as many steps forward as I thought I would…

Despite this sentiment, I feel compelled to make resolutions for 2006. The very good prospects for a new job are leading me to believe I can make plans based on more than hope and optimism. I can imagine how I can emerge from my 40s, which I just started, and not feel as I do as I emerged from my 30s. So now, in no particular order…

I will try again in 2006 to quit smoking. I came as close as I ever have in 2005, so instead of looking at the failure, I ‘ll be taking what I’ve learned to finally succeed. I simply feel deep in my bones that I must quit if I want to reach my 50s.

I want to continue making sane eating choices. I’ve gain a few pounds in the last month — nothing even worth mentioning, really, but it’s showing me how easy it would be to slip right back to April 2004. As early as next week, I plan to apply the 80/20 rule: make good choices 80 percent of the time, and allow bad choices 20 percent of the time to keep my sanity and avoid going back to making bad choices 100 percent of the time.

I need to finally get over my fear of the gym, which I’ve been carrying since I was a kid. I’ve read several tales in the last year of guys who were exactly where I’m at (both physically and in their mind) but, in 12 to 18 months, have toned up admirably. I’ll never be super buff; I’ll never have a six-pack and pecs from here to Tuesday. But I would like to find out how it feels to be tighter. I suspect it should feel similar to how I remember feeling when I had a gut and how I feel now that I don’t have one (or hardly any). It’s hard to describe, and unlike the weight loss, I would be doing it more for myself. It would be a very selfish thing. I like not having a gut to rest my arm on. I like the way I feel sitting down. I like the way I feel lighter standing up. And I think I’d like feeling tighter. I think I would want a personal trainer, because I don’t know where to start and I don’t want to injure myself. I have no idea how much one would cost, but I think I might be able to afford something in 2006, which wasn’t the case these last few years.

I need to reverse my internal clock, which the job, if it materializes, may end up doing. I’m such a night owl that I panic at the thought of a meeting before noon. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever NOT be a night owl, but this going to bed at 6 a.m. and getting up at 2 p.m. is getting to me. I’m tired of it. It’s dysfunctional.

I want to travel a bit more and take more advantage of Junior. RCP has been pestering me for years to go visit him in Toronto. Cleopatrick, I think, is no longer in Montreal but I’d like to visit him wherever he now is in southwestern Quebec. I’d like to hang out a bit more with J in Montreal. I’d like to visit with The Quad and Hiker & Bello in Fredericton at least once in 2006 for more than a few hours. I’d like to go terrorize BeeGoddessC more often. I’d like to send more time with my mother, just because… And, and, and… you get the picture.

I think that’s all. 🙂

Struck by Writing

I think most of us who spend the least bit of time reading blogs have encountered some that have captivated our attention and our imagination more than others. Of course, it could be argued that all blogs to which we return with any regularity have that effect; otherwise, we wouldn’t go back to them. But sometimes, there’s something more: the narrative attracts you differently or you’d really like to meet the author. Or both. For whatever reason. And in the past month, I discovered two blogs for which I’ve felt that strong attraction.

I won’t link to the first one; however, I will say I ended up spending a few nights in a row reading her back entries and felt exactly as one feels when picking up a book and being unable to set it aside. It’s the blog of a woman whose husband left (but has since returned), and in the time he was away, she had, to put it lightly, a very busy sex life. I think what fascinated me about her tales (and tails) is how she was completely unapologetic about her appetite and what she’d insist on picking from the menu (i.e., younger, exotic men with above-average appendage). What struck me the most, though, is how such behaviour by a woman still comes across as unusual, yet that thought wouldn’t necessarily come to my mind if these accounts were from a gay man. This is not to say that all gay men or even most gay men fuck like bunnies; rather, it’s simply because they are men, if they behave like she did, it wouldn’t seem unusual. That’s how deep the double standard is: women who fuck a lot with multiple partners are sluts, but men who do the same thing are studs.

The second blog, which I added to my “aMMusing Friends” list, is by a guy my age in Toronto who has been HIV+ for more than 20 years. Now I won’t be coy with you; I admit that I think he’s a total hottie and not much twisting of my rubber arm would be required to…… However, it’s not this fact that draws me to his blog. (Or maybe should I say, for the sake of honesty, that it’s not just this fact.) It’s because of many other things, which I can sum up to his having lived a life that is completely foreign to me. He’s one of those hotties who used to be a circuit boy addicted to crystal meth, but he’s given it all up in the last year and a half.

I think that, aside from the fact I’m physically a pretty ordinary joe, what has kept my hedonistic streak in check is that I’m a chickenshit. I know myself to have an addictive personality; consequently, I’ve had no interest in trying hard drugs because I feared myself more than the drugs themselves. Similarly, I came out just as the media was talking about an outbreak of “gay cancer,” which eventually became known as HIV/AIDS, so even though I was just a teenager back then, my cautious nature kicked in and I found out what I needed to do and not do. I have since been in several serodiscordant relationships and, happily, I’m still fine. And I get angry with “neg” guys who figure that “what they need to do” is to judge “pos” guys and treat them as lepers. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t put pos guys on a pedestal, but I don’t put neg guys on one, either. I reserve the pedestal for other virtues.

But coming back to that Toronto guy, what I enjoy is the authenticity of what he has to say. Now remember, I’m the chickenshit. The drug-avoiding scardy cat. As such, I can’t understand what would lurr someone to try meth. But an entry like this one gives me a better idea.

Living with HIV for over twenty years can get to be a bit of a drag. I get tired of being tired. Tina was always there for me. She knew how to pick up my spirits and forget about the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

No, that doesn’t absolve that Toronto guy. But it’s not about sinning and then seeking redemption. It’s about understanding what drives some people’s decision to help them cope through life, because it’s difficult to maintain a positive attitude all the time. Even if you’re a hottie like that Toronto guy.

Good Ol’ Boys in the Worst Sense

In the past, Canadians have come to expect Conservative candidates to be the pros at putting their foot in their mouth and saying really stupid things during an election campaign — things that worked against them and cost them votes. But it would seem that, in this campaign, the Liberals have taken a page from the Conservatives’ “bad form” book.

  • First, in mid-December, it was Scott Reid, Paul Martin’s communications director, who attacked the Conservatives’ plan to give parents $1200 per year per child to pay for childcare by saying on CBC News: Sunday, “Don’t give people 25 bucks a week to blow on beer and popcorn.”
  • Then, last Tuesday, Mike Klander, the executive vice-president of the Liberals’ Ontario wing, stepped down from his voluntary job after he posted in his blog a picture of Olivia Chow (NDP candidate in the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina and wife of party leader Jack Layton) next to a picture of a chow chow dog, with the caption, “Separated at birth.”
  • Today we learn that Industry Minister David Emerson, in a speech at a convention dinner in early December, said that Jack Layton has a “boiled dog’s head smile,” ostensibly “in reference to his constant chattering away with this great big grin on his face, pasted on, kind of an overextended grin” and “constantly seeing Jack Layton looking like a boiled dog’s head, talking about some of these shallow, ideologically driven policies of the NDP.”

These good ol’ Liberal boys are phenomenally stupid, arrogant, and desperate.

I must say, though, that I also disagree with the Conservatives’ idea for childcare. It doesn’t create new spaces, so yeah, it is quite possible that some parents wouldn’t spend the money directly on childcare — not because they’re bad financial managers, but because they wouldn’t have the opportunity spend the amount as it’s intended to be spent. That’s the simple point Reid should have made instead of trying to make a sound-clip joke which, understandably, fell flat and offended many.

You’ll notice that the other two comments were aimed at the NDP, and I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a big-time NDP supporter. However, even as I set this bias aside, I believe these nasty, unsubstantive slurs demonstrate that, again this year, the Liberals will do and say anything to sway the soft NDP supporters to their side in order to block the rise of the Conservatives. Clearly Klander, in particular, hasn’t found out that claiming a comment was made in his personal blog does not provide immunity. In other words, he’s only now figuring out what I’ve long figured out, in my case, about blogging about my clients. It’s the same thing, really.

Meanwhile — and unrelated — so much for the campaigning truce, eh? Interestingly, it’s the Conservatives’ good Christian Stephen Harper who’s broken it two days after Christmas. Fucking hypocrite!

Power of the Soundtrack

I don’t even know how to write this entry or what to write, yet after seeing the 1988 Australian film, The Everlasting Secret Family, I feel compelled to make some kind of comment about it.

Oh, what a bleak, sad film it is! I wouldn’t say it’s great film or a lost gem. Not even close. In fact, it’s creepy in so many ways. But the the main musical theme has floored me completely. It is beautiful, haunting and disconcerting, and gives a sad irony to the story told by this film — a fitting melancholy juxtaposing beauty (the song) and ugliness (the story). In my mind, it gives a whole new meaning to “It’s hurts so good.”

As I watched the film, I assumed the song was an old, very British men’s choir song. But then, as I started searching, I discovered it was an original score and nearly impossible to find. I downloaded a few shareware applications to try to get the track to share with you on this blog, but after several failed attempts, I gave up. Then I persisted to try to find the CD, and when I finally found it on Amazon, I ordered it without hesistation. I fear the rest of the CD will be trash and the track I want will be short, but at $9.95 U.S. including shipping, who cares!

It’s Getting to Be No Fun Anymore

Spammers. Script kiddies who spend their time writing bots to deface websites. Internet frauders like the U.K.’s Peter Francis-Macrae (a.k.a. Weaselboy). People who deploy DDOS attacks.

They’re all getting to me, both figuratively and literally. Click below to enlarge how one of my installations of phpBB has been defaced.

phpBB Deface

Yeah, this gets on my tits in a big way, not because I got punk’d, but because of the very existance of these effin’ little pricks. And in fact, I’m convinced we’re literally talking about little pricks in the same manner as guys who drive around with big honkin’ muscle cars.

I’m fuming on all sorts of levels right now. For one, I’m pissed with developers of scripts like phpBB for fabricating such vulnerable trash. I’ve installed their scripts even though I could plainly see how they didn’t bother taking measures to prevent illicit admin access (e.g., storing passwords in a publicly accessible directory). But I have neither the time nor the inclination of coming up with my own script like a bulletin board to circumvent such shortfalls, nor is modifying their script to patch these vulnerabilities easy or obvious (not to mention how they’d only get overwritten in an upgrade). Secondly, I’m pissed at the time I have to spend to fix scripts because it amuses some losers to go around and causing havoc. And for what? The thrill. To be able to say they’ve done it. And then you have folk like me who have to waste countless hours undoing the shit they’ve done. And “shit” is the right word: It’s like someone coming to your home and defecating in the middle of your living room floor, and you’re left with the job of picking it up.

You start by searching the cause and source of the hack or defacement, how common it is, how it can be patched up and how it can be prevented from happening again. Judging from the number of other sites that look just like yours, you quickly figure out that you’re the victim of a very common defacement. But the vast majority of what you find to reverse the defacement is hopelessly unhelpful because it’s written by well-intended script kiddies who can only write in indecipherable geekspeak. And, of course, I recognize there’s a Catch 22: post too many explanations of the vulnerability and what was done to fix it, and hackers will use that information to launch another exploit. *ARRRGH*!!!

After considerable probing, I discovered that this specific exploit was database related and was easily fixed by editing two fields in a given table. But that, in itself, really scares me. What bugs the bejusus out of me that this script, like many other PHP scripts that are being distributed, store the database login info in plain text in a file stored in a publicly accessible directory! I mean, ferfucksake! Even when I began scripting in PHP in 1999, I knew that was the dumbest thing anyone could do! And yet I see it all the time. (Of course, TextStyleM isn’t set up that way.) With that what-ought-to-be precious information, even the dimmest hacker can figure out how to get admin access and cause a real mess. In fact, the defacing could have been much worse, but I refuse to feel thankful to the hackers for not going any farther.

And here’s another thing that gets on my tits! Every time I use a script other than my own, I’m reminded why I got into this crazy adventure of creating my own CMS. I keep seeing these “very kewl features” popping up in these other scripts, but simple, commonsense features that would make day-to-day management so much easier are nowhere to be found. For instance, registering a new user/poster in a phpBB installation can only be done on the public side of the board; it can’t be done on the admin side. What’s more, turning off registration entirely requires a hack (i.e., a manual change to the source code), which most likely will end up being overwritten if later you upgrade to the newer version of phpBB.

It just never ends! It seems we keep making more work for ourselves by taking shortcuts earlier on or not thinking things through properly. Then you have fuckwits whose only goal in life is to waste other people’s time, just because they can. In the end, this line of work is fraught with pointless frustrations and is becoming less and less fun.