Season’s Greetings

With the Winter Solstice nearly upon us, I would like to just wish everyone listening a happy holiday season. This is a really good time of the year to take stock and look back over the year that is ending. Savor the precious moments, ponder the meaning of your particular specific existence and gather your strength to move forward into the next year. My wife caught the spirit of the season perfectly in this photograph taken today.

Twinkling Deer and Wreath
Twinkling Deer and Wreath

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving Day

Turkey and Trimmings
Turkey and Trimmings

Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we are sure to have a very enjoyable holiday this year. Turkey is not the only way to celebrate; eat what you like! Visiting friends and family is a wonderful way to share the day and to make it memorable. I’m posting this today because I have a feeling that things are going to be a bit hectic on Thursday.

Learning the Lessons of Spam All Over Again

It seems that I have fallen for it again. Every once in a while, years ago, I would admonish my relatives for replying to emails that were clearly of dubious authenticity (at least they could have checked with Snopes first). But I took a sucker punch to the head with this new WordPress blog before I added the Akismet plugin.

I have gotten several legitimate comments to my posts, but apparently I had some trouble screening out the bogus ones. If I am overreacting, perhaps the true human author will respond to this post and clear things up. When I first created the blog, there was a Hello World placeholder post (which I decided to keep as part of my learning curve). Several of the comments are from me or someone I know (or the placeholder comment from WordPress). But on 27 Oct 2010 I got a comment from Suchmaschine (which turns out to be a German web search engine); I thought the language was a bit awkward, but knowing no better, I approved it. I thought perhaps the author was just being very sarcastic. Later on, I noticed that comments from friends and family actually had meaningful names and email addresses that I could easily recognize. Suchmaschine listed google.com as its web site and a hotmail.com email address. I got a comment from Italy, so I thought nothing more about it (because that one actually had a link back to an Italian web site that seemed to match the information of the comment).

At about this time (with the site up for about a week or so), I finally had a chance to notice the Spam page for comments and took a look at them. This was a true revelation. On 24 Oct 2010 I published my Sunrise at Bass Harbor post (backdating it to 12 Oct, the day after the events discussed and the day after the pictures were taken). I got some feedback from Sichere Geldanlage 2010 on 26 Oct and wrote a separate post about the K-Meleon browser mentioned in the comment [Browser Rendering Issues]. Chip Bennet actually started to research the issue. But I am now coming to believe that this may all be just spam!

Example of Clever Spam
Example of Clever Spam - K-Meleon browser issue

I haven’t contacted the author of the NextGEN plugin yet (and I think I will wait a while until I clear up this whole spam mystery). It turns out that there is quite a lot of spam coming out of Germany (and most of the spam seems to have a hotmail account connected to it). One more example (this one was caught by Akismet and appears to be a reply to Sichere Geldenlage 2010):

Spam Replying to Spam
Spam Replying to Spam?

Clearly I have a ways to go on this learning curve. If I get reliable answers to these mysteries, I will post them here. [On 10 Nov I noticed another interesting connection between the spam comments: same IP address.]

Same IP Address, Different Names
Same IP Address, Different Names

We’re not in Kansas, any more, Toto!

As a life-long Democrat, you can imagine how I feel this morning. Or even yesterday morning. Today is a new day, of course, and we will all have to learn the new political calculus. As a public servant, I will continue to look for ways to provide value for taxpayer dollars. I am hoping that with the campaign behind us, we can roll up our sleeves to work for the people instead of for the egos of politicians. That remains to be seen, but so far the public utterings are encouraging locally (if not nationally). Here in the beautiful State of Maine we have a big challenge in front of us; I hope we can meet the challenge sensibly.

And I hope the president will use this opportunity to find a way to bring effective relief to our national job deficit problem; perhaps he can devise a way to stop helping out the wealthy (who surely don’t need any more help at this point). I think this election, at least in part, reflects anger about helping out banks while people lose their homes and their jobs. I’m not sure what the world would have looked like with a banking system in shambles, but if we don’t figure out how to solve the housing and unemployment problems, fixing health insurance (and keeping the banking system afloat) will turn out to have been just another band-aid.

Hope Springs Eternal

Early voter at the polls
Early Voter at the Polls

I spotted the camera crew as I approached the table, but was too busy with the business at hand to hear the shutter click behind me. Now my coat and hat have been immortalized as I exercised my right to vote early Tuesday morning. I always feel good after voting, even if our form of government doesn’t always make us happy. You never know whether your vote will actually amount to much, but in this case (as I was to learn much later) it could have been the deciding vote in a close election! Obviously I wrote this after the results were in, but I knew some of you would appreciate the photo.

Browser Rendering Issues

I had some feedback about one of my earlier posts [Sunrise at Bass Harbor] today. Apparently the theme [Oenology 0.9.1 by Chip Bennett] (or the NextGEN plugin) doesn’t work very well in the K-Meleon browser. As a newbie to WordPress blogging, I’m not really sure how best to address such feedback. For starters, I plan to view my blog with Internet Explorer [IE7] on my PC. I maintain the blog on a Mac (with Firefox) and look at it with Safari and Chrome occasionally, but I don’t often have the opportunity to review it on the Windows platform, so I’d like to thank Sichere Geldanlage 2010 for the feedback. I will pass along this feedback to Chip Bennett and the folks who do the NextGEN plugin (and probably to the K-Meleon folks as well).

As I mentioned in the original post, my choice for displaying the images is part of my learning curve. I have plans to investigate other plugins (and other approaches) to display the images. I’m looking for the optimum presentation tool for my pictures. In order to make it easier to evaluate, I will probably update the original post to point to subsequent experiments. Thanks for taking the time to give me feedback. Keep it flowing!

Puns

I have the good fortune to know several people who like to pun. After years of groaning at Jerry’s puns and being subjected to them by my own wife occasionally, I now have a new source (we’ll just call him Tom). He sent this one to me on Friday:

The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

There are more and I will need to figure out how to eke them out sparingly, but this will be a good way for me to learn how to use tags in WordPress.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain
Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain

After our wonderful carriage ride, we decided to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain. We had a perfect day for it and took quite a lot of pictures. I managed to get several pictures of a very large boat (or ferry) entering or leaving Bar Harbor. At one scenic turnout on the road to the top of the mountain, I greeted a cab driver who pulled in and he replied, very dryly, “Just another day in paradise.” Well, for him it may have been perfectly normal, but to us it was a real treat. And the clear sunny weather was an extra bonus.

Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim . . .

Dump Truck on Barge
Dump Truck Afloat

One of the benefits of visiting Rodney and Jill (aside from their local knowledge, guaranteed intelligent conversation and exquisite taste) is an opportunity to watch a busy Southwest Harbor at work. It was a fairly busy day on the water for the barges today and we were fortunate enough to capture this dump truck on its way to or from the island. Photo by Gale Davison.