I moved again. (Can you believe it?) Julie's folks graciously offered me the use of their guest house, which is ideal for my needs right now .. and much closer to the little guy, too (same city) .. only 10 minutes away, vs 30 minutes to Laguna .. a factor, since I do both the pick-ups & drop-offs (= 2 hours of driving each day).
The custody battle has decimated my finances. Anybody who has gone thru such a thing knows how expen$ive it can be. The legal fees have been staggering.
But in the end, we all do what we have to. Her folks have been warm and inviting, hearts big as hers.
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Speaking of big things, this place has a big yard for the little guy to run around .. which is nice, cuz most homes here in southern California normally don't come with much of a yard.
We have two orange trees, two lemon trees, a lime tree Or two), two figs trees, a guava tree and a loquat tree. It's a veritable garden of eden. (Still haven't found the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.)
Her step-dad is a retired judge here in Orange county, respected in the community for many years. Everybody calls him Judge. He's a history buff. The little guy fell asleep in my arms today while I was discussing some history of my own. Judge said, "He obviously finds your voice soothing."
A black cat named Simon wanders by every once in a while. The little guy gets all excited whenever Simon pays a visit.
There's a large portrait of Julie hanging on the wall here in the guest house, painted when she was 4 years old. She's seated in a chair, wearing a long white dress .. white ribbon in her hair. Told her mom today, "I think your daughter is the catch of the century." (She is.)
Will take me a few days to get settled. BTW - the Internet service provider here is SBC Global. Wireless. My first experience with that provider. Seems faster than most. Outgoing mail server is: smtp.sbcglobal.net
Ever have one of those days filled with strange, unexplainable coincidences? That was yesterday. I'm still trying to understand what such occurrences might mean.
After church, Miss Julie drove her convertible bug cross town to her folk's place (my first time there). Our bikes spilled out the back seat, draped over the reclining convertible top. Sun shining. Warm day.
After changing out of our church duds, into bike-riding duds, we happened to meet a man at her folks place who had stopped by to handle some business for them.
Briefly we introduced ourselves before heading out on a ride down to the Balboa peninsula in Newport Beach (my first bike ride there).
En route we stopped at a bike shop to put more air in the tires .. when I started getting hungry. So Julie led the way to El Ranchito, a Mexican restaurant on the peninsula. (She rides fast.) Place was packed. Musta been 70 or 80 people there. Some waiting for a table.
Hostess get us and seats us at a table .. right beside the guy we met earlier at her folk's place. Our tiny tables sit mere inches from each other. Of course we discuss the chance encounter, the proximity of the seating arrangements, given so many table at the restaurant, and so many restaurants on the peninsula. They ordered another round of margaritas as we left to continue our journey south.
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Shortly thereafter, we're cruising down a back alley and a car turns in front of us, half-block ahead. No other cars driving in this alley. "The ex has a car just like that," I say. "Same color and everything, in fact." It's driving slowly. We follow for a few blocks.
Julie says, "Wouldn't that be weird if that were her."
"She doesn't live anywhere near here," I replied. "That would be bizarre."
The ex has never met Miss Julie. It's strange dealing with two women who are so dramatically different. One is so pleasant, accommodating, understanding. The other, uh .. not so much. In my mind, they represent such opposite ends of the spectrum .. like East meeting West.
So I speed up a little .. to satisfy my curiosity. (We are nowhere near home.) Cruising up alongside, I look in the back seat and .. I see the little guy. He's strapped into his car seat, sees me and smiles. I smile at him, speed up adjacent to the driver's windows. She turns her head and makes eye contact.
I make the obvious introductions before proceeding to play with the little guy in the back seat. The girls begin to acquaint themselves with each other. East meets West .. and the world doesn't end .. like I thought it would. They actually seem to get along well, the conversation remarkably civil. Still, it was pretty weird for me.
After 10 mins or so, we say our goodbyes. Everybody drives off. "That was very weird," I say. I was totally unprepared. We park the bikes at a park nearby and walk out on the jetty, where we rock-hop and discuss the second chance encounter. Lots of people there are fishing.
In college, I had a class in Statistics. Now, I don't know what the odds are of running into the ex like that, but I know it's 1 in a very BIG number .. like winning the lottery. Ten seconds sooner or later and we would've missed her .. or if I hadn't sped up to see who was driving.
On the way back from our jaunt out onto the jetty, we ran into them again, the ex pushing the little guy in a stroller. "Can you believe this?" I say, noticing them walking toward us. We drive up and spend another 10 minutes together. The girls chat some more while I play with the little guy. As we leave again, the ex says, "It was very nice to meet you."
"She seems very nice," Julie said as we rode off .. (for the second time), adding, "The *idea* of seeing your ex with someone new is scarier than actually seeing them together. She definitely maintained her dignity." My head was spinning.
The day continues to bring more strange coincidences, too many to detail here (.. which I might recount later). After each one, Julie reminds me, "The day's not over yet."
A few ideas came up:
1) Seems to be a spiritual element to these unexplainable coincidences. This web site, for example, calls synchronicity a wink from the cosmos .. and that's a good explanation of how it feels. I mean, it feels like unseen forces are pulling strings and watching.
2) When one door closes, another opens .. but not until the old one closes. Have to first close the old door before the new one is opened in your life. (Doors in my life have recently closed.)
3) Love seems to be a catalyst for such these seemingly unexplainable experiences. It adds an element of magic. Know what I mean?
For more on this topic, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: synchronicity serendipity chance encounters
Starting this month, I get the little guy (Rad Jr, 1 yr old) for 3 days/week .. one extra day each week. Even tho it's nowhere near half the time I want, it's still way more than what I had last year .. and (for some reason) feels like a *lot* more time than last month.
I pick him up early in the morning, and bring him back late in the afternoon.
On days when I have him, I've developed a peculiar habit, which has become something of a tradition: I get up extra early (4:30) so I can stop by the club (on the way) .. and take a long, luxurious sauna.
Interestingly, I only do this on days I have the little guy. Not sure why, but even on days when I decide to sleep in (e.g. tired the night before), I still wake early, and can't get back to sleep ..
.. as if something is *making* me do this. I don't work-out these mornings, only sauna & shower. The sauna is kinda surreal at 5AM, while I'm still half asleep, sweating rivers.
In discussing my quirky behavior with friends, it was suggested I could be doing this to de-stress, pre-emptively, so I don't transfer any of my stress to the little guy.
••• continued •••
Surprisingly, this theory actually feels right. Certainly I have plenty of reasons to stress. You might recall the medieval rash I had last month (see entry for 20.feb), which some attribute to stress.
I've always felt my parents handled their stress poorly, taking out their frustrations on me. (Mom was just 19 when I was born. Both died well before their time.) This is something I'd rather not emulate.
My goal as a dad these first few years (which are foundational & developmental in so many ways) is to instill in the little guy - on a deep, emotional level - the knowledge that he is loved .. unconditionally.
If I can accomplish that, I'll feel satisfied as a dad, since all other considerations are secondary. And I feel I'm off to a good start.
In my family, there has been a history of, uh, 'tension' between fathers and first-born sons. Not sure why. I have only theories. But it might be why I have a problem with authority. And this is something I desperately don't want to perpetuate.
You may've heard the phrase break the chain. Well, that's exactly what I'm determined to do. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes.
But this is not easy. You basically have to re-invent yourself .. on an emotional level. In order to walk away from all that old programming, you pretty much have to walk away from the old you.
Now it's one thing for Madonna to re-invent herself as an entertainer every few years .. but for a person to re-invent himself (or herself) .. well, that's a bit trickier .. because it's not simply an intellectual thing. Have to go much deeper in order to reprogram the behavioral circuitry. Reminds me of what Jesus said in John's gospel.
I've always had the most respect for people who've managed to break the chain .. cuz I know how hard it is. You have to overcome a nearly 20 years of flawed programming. Heck, I even admire people who TRY.
I genuinely feel like the chain is already broken, having re-invented myself. But I don't want to take anything for granted, so I'm ever vigilant, watching for old, familiar patterns.
Back in the early days, I didn't really know what I wanted from life. But I knew what I *didn't* want. And I knew I didn't want to perpetuate what was perpetuated on me.
And if I never had kids .. well, that was one way to accomplish my objective. A little severe, I admit. But effective nonetheless.
I hold no grudges. My folks did the best they could, with what they had, and they succeeded on many important levels, for which I am grateful. But the fact remains that I couldn't wait to get out of there .. soon as I could.
Soon as I graduated from high school, I was off for the Navy .. so I could be on my own .. out from under their control .. making my own money. Not surprisingly, life improved the day I left. The sense of freedom: delicious. I still had troubles, like anyone else, but the sense of chaos was gone. The military brought structure and a rationale I could understand.
I've always envied people who grew up in carefree homes, but I have trouble relating to them. I think that's why I jive so well with the Dog. Not only did he grow up under adverse circumstances (much worse than mine), but he also managed to overcome them (much better than me). He gives me hope, inspiration.
Now that I am Rad dad, I am more determined than ever to break the chain. (Whatever it takes.) And so far, I am quite pleased with how things are going. Everyone who knows me, comments on how good a dad I am. In fact, there's only one person who has ever accused me of not being a good dad.
Anyway, the worst part is bringing back the little guy on Friday afternoon. It's such an un-natural act, so dissatisfying .. leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Afterwards I have to be alone for a few hours to deal with the emotional funk.
Sometimes I go for a walk on the beach to help process the yucky feelings. Yesterday afternoon, it was raining like mad, so I went to the local coffee house. (Can't go home, cuz the empty crib there makes it worse.)
I called the Dog, who is always good at helping me deal with the funk. Then I started this entry (I find it therapeutic to articulate my feelings). Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed somebody walk up. When they stopped in front of my table, I looked up. There was Miss Julie .. smiling real big, looking good, having coming straight from work (.. she didn't even stop home first).
Surprise. What a sight for sore eyes (open since 4:30 AM) "Come on," she said, with a little jerk of her head, "I wanna take you for a beer .. to celebrate St. Patty's day."
Instantly my funk evaporated. We drove to the Hotel Laguna (walking distance), which has a great view. Place was packed. Only two chairs remained empty - big, cushy ones. We pushed them close to the fireplace, settled in and had ourselves a glass of Hotel-Laguna's specialty brew. Yummy stuff.
What perfect timing. It was just what I needed. Had a great time, stimulating conversation. Sometimes spur-of-the-moment ideas can be the best.
I enjoy working thru problems. The most recent glitch - and final hurdle - was resolved by determining the site's full server path .. to the weblog directory and entering this data on MovableType's Core Setup configuration page (not in the MySQL database, as I'd previously planned).
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The site's full server path is: /home/username/public_html/ .. also called the absoute path. Not sure how I would know this without asking my host's tech support (which I did).
For longer blog entries, I prefer to post only the first few paragraghs (here on the home page) and continue the remainder of the entry in the blog.
This method minimizes clutter on the home page and lets me easily refer to previous entries (since each blog entry has its own link). Otherwise, I can refer only to a specific date in a MONTHLY page of entries, which is not nearly as neat or cool.
Now that the blog's software is working again, I'm gonna miss the troubleshooting challenge. The site move is offically complete.
If I ever have to move the site to a new host again, I won't be nearly so hesitant, since I now have *experience* in this area.
For more info on this topic, here is a Google search, pre-configured for the query-string: problems moving blog weblog movabletype to new host server
Having trouble last few days with pesky spammer spamming links to pr0n site at the forums.
Never had this type of problem before, even tho the forums have been up for years. Tonight's posts came ~10-11 PM Pacific time. That seems to be his time.
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Seems he's wasting his time, tho, cuz entries are easy to delete (single click). And we have several moderators who periodically monitor the boards. I banned key words he was using and banned his whole IP root (72.234.x.x).
Will somebody trace his IP for me: 22.214.171.124 and tell me where that originates? (Don't have trace software installed on my laptop yet.) Update: the spammer is located in Honolulu, Hawaii. See HERE.
Obviously his time would be better spent at other forums, which receive more traffic.
He even sends me angry *personal* messages (PMs), full of obscenities, which can't be seen by anyone 'cept me .. something a real spammer wouldn't care about (no visibility) .. which makes it seem, uh .. personal. Let's see .. who might I have p!ssed off in the last few days?
I'm flattered someone would care so much that they'd take the time to repeatedly expend so much effort at my site (few hundred posts). Just wish he'd find a better pr0n site to promote .. cuz I'm not really into Asian men, as you know. =)
For more along these lines, here's a Google search, pre-configured for the query: problems+spam+bulletin+board+forums
Tried to post a new blog entry today .. the *first* such post after moving the site to a new host (beginning of last month) .. but received the following error: mkdir /~radif2: Permission denied at lib/MT/FileMgr/Local.pm line 104.
Arrrgh! I use MovableType as my blogging software of choice. mkdir (I'm guessing) = make directory. The blog works fine for readers. I can also log into the blog's administrative interface, which is used to create new blog entries. And I can also SAVE DRAFTS fine.
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It's only when I try to PUBLISH new entries that I get the error. (So close, yet so far.)
I've already gone into the MySQL database and changed all references (that I could find) of the OLD server to that of the NEW server (~radif2).
Since I'm getting a Permission denied error, I'm guessing there is some place I need to enter the login info for the new server, but I could not find that info.
A review of the file Local.pm reveals nothing obvious. Gonna take another look at the MySQL database and see if I notice any more references to the old server (that need changing).
I miss being able to post blog entries .. so I can clean-up the home page. These kinds of problems are to be expected when moving the site to a new host.
In the end, it might be easier to install a new copy of MovableType .. altho I'd really rather not if I don't have to.
Have a special treat for you today (by popular demand): photos of the new squeeze. I agree it helps to have a picture in mind when you hear someone mentioned.
Three photos: julie_01 (40-KB) .. julie_02 (30-KB) .. and julie_03 (40-KB). Doesn't she look like a sweetheart? Told ya she doesn't look 37. The Dog thinks she looks 19. Super affectionate. Big heart. Very giving.
[Update 07.April.2006: Added 6 more photos. See here:> julie_04 (80-KB),.. julie_05 (120-KB),.. julie_06 (75-KB),.. julie_07 (60-KB),.. julie_08 (105-KB),.. julie_09 (160-KB). These were taken by Susan, with a film camera, and scanned by Jim (neighbor). #5 is my favorite.]
Did I mention she regularly goes down to Mexico with her church to help build homes for the homeless there? So far, she's taken me to church, sailing, horseback riding and, uh, to the cleaners (playing scrabble).
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Interesting tidbit: The girl has no metal in her mouth. None. No cavities. Notta one. (I looked.) Never met anyone without *any* metal in their mouth. (My mouth contains enough metal to build a small nuclear reactor.)
She says (her dentist told her) the reason she doesn't get any cavities is cuz she has lots of spit in her mouth. I figure, if I can get some of that spit, I might be able to $ave on dental bills.
Also, she plays the guitar and sings songs, but is shy about it. I love it when she agrees to play (takes some encouraging, tho). That's one of my favorite things about her.
Another thing (I'm learning): She is quite the practical joker. She is worse than most guys.
For example, with her last boyfriend, on April Fool's day (coming up in a few weeks), she replaced all the underwear in his drawer with briefs (exact same brand) one size smaller. He spent the entire day thinking he must be getting fat (as they cut off circulation to his lower extremities).
She was kind enough to warn me that April 1st is her favorite day of the year, and told me she normally gives new guys a month's grace period .. before all bets are off. Then it's open season and I'll be free game for all manner of practical jokes.
We currently have a game of scrabble ongoing. Sorry to say, she's spanking me pretty badly. She managed to rack up two triple-word scores that turned the tables. (Amoeba .. that's the word that kicked my butt.)
Claims she's a good loser, but a big gloat if she wins. So I need to start drawing some decent letters. Right now, she's at a power-sculpting class at the club. The game will resume when she returns (all pumped up).
Her site is here: Julie's Design Studio. She does graphic design, which includes designing web sites. If you know somebody who needs a web site designed, I'm sure I can persuade her to give them a 10% discount.
Wasn't that long ago when I had sworn off women forever .. as not worth the trouble. (Regulars will understand.) And it wasn't long after I began entertaining the idea of meeting someone new that she happened to wander along.
For more on Miss Julie, see entries from feb.26, 18, 14, and 02. In other news, here's a letter from the Rad inbox that just arrived:
I've been a regular reader for years, lurking in the background. Yours is one of the first sites I visit each time I turn on my computer.
You have a way of putting your thoughts and feelings into words that makes for interesting reading. It's easy to see why your site has such a faithful following. Your blog turns your life into an open book. It's very entertaining.
After all you've been thru, you seem to have weathered the storm and come out a much better person. I suspect you're not out of the woods yet, but figure it will take a lot more to put you under. You're obviously a strong person.
I mean, the blog itself always worked fine for readers (see here: Ye Olde Rad Blog), but I could not connect to the interface that allows me create new blog entries. (It's a CGI script .. refer to entry for 24.feb for details).
In my entire digital career, there are only a handful of things I haven't been able to resolve. Troubleshooting has always been a strength. Or maybe I'm just too stubborn to let a stupid piece of software wup my butt. I mean, this shouldn't have been that difficult.
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The problem I was having was that I couldn't connect to site's the MySQL database, which drives the blog's administrative interface (used to create new entries). I was getting an error which said essentially that.
What I failed to do, it seems, was add the MySQL user to the MySQL database (SQL = structured query list). See, I had created the new MySQL database at the new host. And I also created the new MySQL user .. trying to mimic the database and user names as closely as possible to that used at the old host.
But the new host uses a different naming scheme, so I had to improvise.
Then, the nice folks at Lunarpages support transferred the old database files (from the old host) to the new server, cuz I couldn't get that to work myself, using phpMyAdmin. (Good support. Needed some special magic to do that.)
But (you see) I never actually added the MySQL users (that I created at the new host) to the MySQL databases (also created there).
There's a little button labeled 'Add User' in the site's control panel for MySQL databases. You select the database, then select the User from a drop-down menu, then click the 'Add user' button. Voila! Presto! Like magic, it now works. Had a feeling it was something minor I over-looked.
Actually, I didn't realize this needed to be done, cuz my old host handled MySQL databases and users differently. Users were *automatically* added to the databases for which they were created. More idiot-proof.
I love it when things work. This was the *last* remaining hurdle to get over after moving the site to the new host. I coulda *kissed* that support guy. Suh_wak!
Received a note from Magoo today, regarding the status of his recent migration to the Linux operating system, which continues to be developed by thousands of gifted coders around the globe.
Most Linux-users dual-boot a copy of Linux while retaining their trusty copy of Windows on their PC .. whereas Magoo has gone solo-Linux, which makes his experience more interesting (and him very cool). His note is here:
At this point, I consider my Linux migration complete. I currently use all the features I had in Windows, with many notable improvements.
Dual-monitors is working, along with TV-out. I am becoming familiar with Open Office, and find that it has plenty of functionality for the home user, tho business professionals may be disappointed (unless I just haven't found all the features yet). Compatibility with Microsoft *.doc requires a little pre-planning, but isn't difficult.
Instant messaging, email, and web browsing are all faster and more stable. Linux is better at multimedia than I expected, and watching movies and chatting online through Skype and similar services is both simple and stable.
There are a few things I haven't gotten working yet. Haven't found a decent web page (HTML) editor yet and I might have to run Dreamweaver with Crossover Office (an extension to Wine that allows Windows programs such as Dreamweaver and Microsoft Office to run in Linux.)
Linux makes up for the few things I can't get working with several things Windows doesn't have. For example, Linux has a built in SSH client and server, so I can access and manage my home computer from any network connection. I've already found that handy more than once.
It also has built in support for VNC (Virtual Network Computing). Linux also offers infinite customization, including custom desktop tool bars and widgets. Little things, like being able to turn off confirmations when deleting files (so it doesn't keep asking 'Are you sure?' every time you want to do something,) go a long way toward making the Linux experience enjoyable.
Overall, I've come to enjoy Linux and don't ever plan to switch back to Windows. It was a significant amount of work to switch over, but easier than I anticipated and clearly worth the effort.
RAD note: See post for 16.feb for more details from Magoo's migration, including the particular Linux distro he's using (Ubuntu). Here at RADIFIED, we value first-hand experience. Oh, did I mention that Linux is FREE?
... which reminds me of a thought-provoking saying I read on the back of a guy's tee-shirt yesterday, walking down the street (quoting some Hawaiian guy): The best things in life aren't things.
The front page of yesterday's USA Today featured an article on Laguna Beach, which describes how residents here feel the MTV reality show (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County) is giving the town a bad name.
The paper's headlines read: The real Laguna Beach disdains its MTV image. In smaller print, the subtext reads: Locals say reality show "has hijacked our identity".
The featured front-page photo is taken from Heisler Park. (I was there earlier today.)
To be honest, I've never seen an entire episode. Nor has anyone I know, except for some teenagers. But .. I have lived in Laguna for nearly 10 years (having become a full-fledged Lagunatic).
The notion that Laguna Beach is somehow the *real* Orange County is absurd, cuz everybody here knows Laguna is nothing like the rest of Orange County.
••• continued •••
Soon as you leave Laguna, you feel like you're entering alien territory, where the people seem uptight and rigid (relatively speaking).
The light, carefree attitude that pervades life here dissolves soon as you leave the city limits, which is why most Lagunatics strive to stay in Laguna. A common statement is: "I try not to leave Laguna if I don't have to."
In fact, I'm sitting at a coffee shop right now in downtown Laguna, with the Pacific sparkling in plain sight, and where the song California Dreamin' is playing rather loudly.
Actually, if you stay in the coastal towns (like Corona del Mar and Newport Beach) it's not too bad. It's only when you venture inland that people start getting 'weird'.
Actually, I really think it's us-Lagunatics who are really the weird ones. But, having moved here, I can testify that the carefree funkiness of Laguna is part of its charm and quickly becomes part of you. I was very different before moving to Laguna. And once you get a taste of the Laguna charm, it's hard to leave.
Coming out of a hard-science background (nuclear power), I found all this eccentricity a bit peculiar. But now that I've been converted (bonified Lagunatic), I can see there's something therapeutic about Laguna's bohemian lifestyle .. plus, the place is abundant in natural beauty, dramatically so.
And yes, weirdness is relative. Like when your in-laws get together .. sometimes they each think the other group is weird. It has to do with comfort-zones, and what seems normal. Normality means different things to different people. It's relative.
Having grown up on the East Coast (Connecticut), and lived in many states before settling here on the West Coast, I've witnessed first-hand the differences in cultures around the country.
Digressing slightly, I will note that it has been my experience that people from Oregon are the nicest in the country, the easiest to get along with. Of course there are always exceptions, but I'm taking about generalities. I also think that people from Massachusetts are the funniest, with the sharpest sense of humor. They make me laugh the hardest.
You pay a price to live in Laguna. Living here doesn't come cheaply, cuz you don't get much for your money. But you quickly learn how to economize. Also, the traffic and parking here suks, especially in the summer, when folks from LA drive down and hang out.
First thing I learned after moving to Laguna was how to get around the back-streets, cuz the main streets (like Coast Hwy) are frequently congested, especially on weekends.
I'm jealous I wasn't able to grow up here. Kids here don't know how good they got it. They don't know how bleak life in some cities can be.
For more info, here is a Google search, pre-configured for the query: laguna beach california 92651