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So, that’s how you got that up there!

They don’t even make a smiley that captures the look on my face, right now.

Discovered via Lifehacker, this video from Put a Cup In It has satisfied all of my curiosity about menstrual cups, and left me with a comfortable gratitude for peri-menopause:

“…it might take you longer to pee, but that’s OK.”

Nope. It’s totally not OK to make it harder to pee. Especially not after increasing pressure on my bladder.

I don’t even want to talk about how the cup responds to more than urination…

But if you’re curious about menstrual cups and how they work, this video provides a good – and very visual – introduction.

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Simplify! Förenkla Backpack from IKEA

The best backpack I’ve ever owned was one that was “free” from Marlboro, bought with Marlboro Miles — UPC codes from Marlboro cigarette packs — back in the ‘90s. When I say that it was the “best backpack”, what I mean was that its design was well-suited to my needs. It had a big main compartment which opened from the top, secured by an adjustable cord and a buckling top flap. It had significant padding on the back and straps. It had an insulated beverage pocket on one side and a snap-top pocket on the other. It even had a decent-sized zipper pocket on the front, with a smaller, mesh pocket attached.

I loved that backpack. It accompanied me to every college-level lecture I attended, and was a perfect grocery-getter! But fast forward a decade or so and I would end up sacrificing that backpack to something that I loved more.

I haven’t replaced it, despite the ready availability of packs just like it on eBay. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I haven’t smoked in four years. Maybe it’s because of the details of my original pack’s sacrifice. Or maybe I just don’t trust eBay.

Regardless of the reason, I’ve spent the past couple of years using either tiny bags on strings or a sleek and modern laptop bag, instead. I don’t hate the laptop bag. It’s nice. But WTF? I don’t even own a laptop.

I’m a desktop kind of girl.

I’m a desktop computer and big, wide-open, top-loading backpack kind of girl.

And I found my new, second-favorite backpack this weekend at IKEA Costa Mesa.

Like about half of our IKEA purchases, it was not something that the wife and I were looking for. We didn’t know it existed until we saw it in the store, and we only spotted it there because it was right by the door which presented our quickest path to get to the things we were actually there to buy.

This particular style of Förenkla backpack1 still has the word “New” on its page at IKEA US, and the current IKEA Family member price is $29.99 (compared to a regular price of $37.99). It has a larger compartment than my old Marlboro pack had2, with a rollover top that secures via D-rings, sturdy webbing, and a bolt snap. Two zippers allow side access to this large compartment, which includes a see-through ID slot and a zippered, mesh, inner pocket. The straps and back are padded enough to be comfortable. There are deep, narrow, non-fastening pockets on each side of the exterior, a zippered pocket (with interior compartments and elastic pen loops) on the front, and an expandable, double-zipped compartment on the bottom.

This is a great, smoke-free, trauma-free replacement for my old Marlboro pack, and it’s already done something my beloved old pack never got the opportunity to do: It hauled Bestå3 parts — drawers, drawer rails, hinges, legs, cabinet doors, and push-to-open hardware — and five Tjena boxes4 from checkout to the Mazda and from the Mazda to our condo, freeing my hands to carry other, larger, heavier parts I’d spend hours building, sweating and stressing over.

In Swedish, “förenkla” means to simplify, and boy, does this backpack ever do that!

Put things in big bag! Put bag on back! Done!

Its uncluttered, simple design is exactly what I had been looking for, and the price was too good to pass up. This is the perfect heavy hauler for my next walking trip to Von’s or Anaheim Central Library.

If you’re in the market for a new casual hauler, and don’t mind the size5, this is a great pack at a great price! What it lacks in style, it more than makes up for in function.6


  1. IKEA Article Number: 203.135.71
  2. Its capacity is listed as 35l, or nine gallons.
  3. Want to know how to make that “a” with the ring on top? On your Mac keyboard, press and hold alt/option, then press “a”.
    The “ö” in “Förenkla” is made by holding alt/option while typing “u”, then releasing before typing “o”.
  4. IKEA Article Number: 602.636.06
  5. It’s 22” tall. That’s nearly two feet, y’all.
  6. I regret that it only comes in black. Solid black. Backpacks should have red on them, damnit.

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Mac Backups and Local WordPress: A Reading List

Consider this a link dump.

I spent last weekend, plus Monday, getting my iMac set up so that I can work on building/customizing WordPress themes offline — in part because it’s embarrassing for you to see my work in progress; in part because I don’t know what I’m doing, and I need some room to play; and in part because my host,  Nearlyfreespeech.net, doesn’t offer an ooey-gooey file manager, and it’s a pain in the ass uploading the same file over and over, especially if I’m working via Terminal and have to keep switching back and forth between SFTP and SSH.

In any case, useful links have been the thing for the past week or so, and they’ve been sooooooo useful that I thought I would share them with you.

Understand that I didn’t start at the start. Oh, no.

I started with getting my iMac backed up, just in case something went horribly, horribly wrong when I started messing with Apache and installing MySQL (and it’ll always be “My Squull” to me) and adding in command line tools. That meant 1. finally setting up Time Machine, and 2. creating a bootable clone of my drive.

Please also understand that I didn’t know anything about either Time Machine or cloning drives before I decided to do these things, so I read multiple sources before getting started. In the end, I used a trial of Carbon Copy Cloner to do the cloning, because my attempt to clone my drive via Disk Utility failed. Carbon Copy Cloner worked great, however. (Note: If you go this route, at the end, when CCC asks if you’d like to update the recovery partition, your answer should be “Yes!”)

My advice to you, if you decide to back up your Mac after years of neglect and a willful lack of know-how, is that you read the following articles, too:

Cult of Mac: How (and Why) to Clone Your Mac Hard Drive

Backblaze: How to Back Up Your Mac

MakeUseOf: Partition & Use Your Time Machine Hard Drive to Store Files Too

OSXDaily: Use a Single External Hard Drive for Time Machine Backups and File Storage

Please note that, if you’re running El Capitan (and I hope you are), the Disk Utility used in these articles is going to look different from the Disk Utility you’ll be using. The “Restore” option is now tucked away inside the “Edit” menu.

If you aren’t interested in developing locally on your Mac, you’re done with this article. If you’ve read the articles above, made sure you understood them — as a whole — and followed their instructions, you should have Mac backups two ways. The rest of this post deals with the second aspect of my days-long project: getting WordPress running on my Mac.

The easy way to set up a development environment, of course, would be by using Mamp or Xampp to install and configure Apache, MySQL/MariaDB, and PHP. But modern Macs comes with Apache pre-installed, those apps aren’t really needed to get an AMP stack running, and learning is good!

So, another set of articles:

Chris Mallinson: The Perfect Web Development Environment for Your New Mac

Jason McCreary: Installing Apache, PHP, and MySQL on OS X El Capitan

Karvel Digital: Setting Up a WordPress Development Environment on Mac OS

Coolest Guides on the Planet: Get Apache, MySQL, PHP and phpMyAdmin working on OS X 10.11 El Capitan

ITMUSTBE: A fresh OS X El Capitan install plus theming workflow using AMP, Node, Yeoman, and WordPress

The WP Guru: How to install MySQL on Mac OS X El Capitan

Be aware that there was more information than I needed in this collection of articles, but there was still information that I needed in each one. This was, for me, a matter of hobbling together the useful bits, discarding the rest, and eventually getting to what worked. There may have been missteps along the way: I’m not sure why I have Homebrew installed (perhaps my brief flirtation with Jekyll…), I may or may not have installed MariaDB, and phpMyAdmin tells me that my MySQL installation isn’t secure.

Getting a working, local WordPress installation set up was far more confusing than backing up my Mac was.

But I can theme in private, now, or practice PHP locally, outside of WordPress, to get a better understanding of the language. I can experiment with CSS until I get it to do the things I want it to do. I can use WordPress to build a site for private, offline use.

And Apache and MySQL both get shut down when I’m not actively using them.

My advice to other Mac-users with more desire than knowledge is to read all of the articles in the list, compare and contrast, figure out what you do and don’t need, and patch your method together from that.

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In Here, Life Is Beautiful

My birthday was months ago. Early June, in fact; and I woke up that morning to an elaborate puzzle which took me from clue to book to clue to book in our home library, giving me a list of titles of which the first letters combined, in order, to spell “CABARET”!

Fast forward to this past Saturday (August 13th, specifically — for my own reference, because I will want to know that date someday), and the last part of my birthday present finally arrived! The wife and I set out to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa to see…

Wait a minute!?! Is that Justin?!? The kid from Queer as Folk?!?

Justin’s the emcee?!?

Oh!

Was Justin ever!

Randy Harrison (he’s not really named “Justin”, ‘though I suspect he’s been called that enough to be annoyed by it) stripped me of my QAF lens with the first notes of “Willkommen”. He didn’t have to fill the theatrical shoes of Joel Grey or Alan Cumming, because Harrison’s emcee brought his own boots — and they were big and black and imposing.

Which brings me to how this version of Cabaret differed from the 1972 film. Both share a timeframe: Germany, at the rise of the Nazi Party. Darkness and imposition are inherent aspects of the story, whether on stage or on screen. But the horror of that place in time — along with the horror of denial — was driven home much more effectively, for me and for my wife, by the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production than by the film.

It wasn’t even close.

Linda and I were both crying in our seats at the Segerstrom.

(Forgive the parentheticals. Consider them a lazy gal’s segue. But fellow theatre-goers: Do you really think it’s appropriate to applaud at the ending of “If You Could See Her”? I’m pretty sure it’s not. Take the term “punch line” literally, in this case. Like Herman, there’s nothing funny about that whispered bit of anti-Semitism.1)

Oh, and Andrea Goss? This Cabaret’s Frauline Sally Bowles?

Best. Mic drop. Ever.

I’ve heard Liza Minelli’s “Cabaret”. I’ve listened to Natasha Richardson’s version so much that it’s burned into my brain. But I’ve never heard the song interpreted the way Andrea Goss interpreted it for this production.

That performance, through both its power and interpretation, was the first swing of the hammer in the drive toward a finale where every nail. Hit. Home. Even the mic drop, itself (I may have been speaking loosely, but I wasn’t speaking figuratively), was powerful, impactful, and completely appropriate.

“Impactful”, in fact, is how Linda and I both described the play when we talked about it in the car, on our way home from the theatre. There was nothing vague about the ending of this story; no Nazis filmed through filters at the end of the show. Visually, aurally, (and yes, symbolically), you understand how this story ends.

We took Randy Harrison’s advice after taking our seats: We left our troubles outside.

We enjoyed the raunch and the spectacle and the slow turn of the emotional climate.

And we came away far more troubled than we were when we went in.

If you’d like to experience that disturbance for yourself, Cabaret is playing at the Segerstrom through the 21st of this month, with dates across the U.S. — and Toronto! — through mid-2017.


  1. See Peter Felicia’s “That Controversial Cabaret Lyric Change” for more info/another take.

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Our Elevator Is Broken

We live on the third floor and our elevator is broken. That might not be such a big deal, except that the stairway has no ventilation; I walk the dog every 3.5 waking hours; I carry her up and down the stairs; and gravity just doesn’t like me hefting my bulk own upward, never mind my bulk plus 10.

(Did I mention that one of our neighbors has major back issues?

Yeah. I suspect she’s in for the day.

But back to me:)

I live on the third floor. That was my wife’s doing.

I thought I would have been more comfortable living on the second floor of this three-story building, in which the first level is nearly all garages, minus a couple of townhomes out on the building’s face.

I thought I’d be more comfortable on the second floor, because there, I wouldn’t have to worry about disturbing the neighbors below me. I wouldn’t have to worry about walking too loud, because there would be no one below me to hear.

But my wife wanted to be on the top floor. Her concern was the opposite of mine: She didn’t want to have to listen to people above her, and she was willing to pay more for the privilege of not hearing.

My wife got her way (because of course she did; this very conflict serves as proof that she’s more ambitious than I am), and it has been to my benefit. I don’t hear people above us — ‘though, sometimes, it certainly sounds like someone is up there, stomping around on the roof — and I don’t worry nearly as much as I thought I would about walking too loudly for the downstairs neighbor’s comfort. I can see things that I might not be able to glimpse from even one floor down. And we catch nice breezes up here, too; blowing in through the windows in the master bedroom, sweeping down the hallway, then gently exiting through the balcony door.

It’s good to be on top, y’all! It really, really is!

…except for when your elevator is broken.

Then you realize that the higher you live, the farther you have to climb just to get back home.

And you wonder at the notion that something as mundane as a transportation glitch can be the catalyst for understanding that maybe your self-esteem was never as high as you thought it was, and for seeing that your spouse has literally lifted you up.

Thanks, Linda! I appreciate you every day, but maybe today more than most!

And I’m sure it’s a day that I’ll make it through, trudging up and down multiple flights with 10 pounds of canine under my left arm; climbing my way back to our life together, where it’s clean, and safe, and high, and home.

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Nena’s Big Freakout

The video below was recorded by my wife, Linda, and is used with her permission. It was shot this past Saturday, upon our return home from a shopping trip that our recently-adopted Maltese, Nena, didn’t get to tag along for.

 

There was a time when I was afraid that my size and energy level might be a bit much for a small dog. (Especially a small, senior dog adopted late in life.)

I clearly remember the thought, but I’ll be damned if I can remember its justification.

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It’s More to do with Fireball than with Joyce or Grant

Did you know that Markdown is the creation of Daring Fireball? I feel like this is something that I probably should have known, and yet I didn’t — or, more likely, I had forgotten — until I did a teeny bit of research on the language yesterday, nipping at the heels of my excitement for Ulysses 2.6. Ulysses has regular ol’ Markdown as an option (along with Minimark and Textile’d), and uses Markdown XL as its default markup. (Markdown, markup; I know it’s confusing. No wonder I forgot it was a John Gruber thing.)

And, with the recent release of 2.6, Ulysses comes with WordPress integration.

My publishing platform is now hooked up with my favorite way to write; not only on my desktop, but on both my iPhone and iPad, too. I’ve gone so far as to enable Markdown in Jetpack, ‘though I’ll admit that — as of this writing — I don’t actually know how to write a Markdown hyperlink in the WordPress editor.

(And enabling Markdown through Jetpack is completely unnecessary for writing to WordPress via Ulysses. That click, I clicked only in love.)

Ulysses makes writing for the internet easy1: Pound, pound, pound (hash, hash, hash?); there’s your title. Asterisk, italic words, asterisk. Bracket, link text, bracket. Double asterisks, bold words, double asterisks. Need a break from writing at your desk? Take your iOS device along and keep working on the same piece, because Ulysses will sync it up for you.

Even the stuff that doesn’t get published works well: Outline in the Attachments panel? Okie dokie, pokey! Ulysses is better at outlines than some programs I’ve used that were made for just that.

I’ve mentioned Ulysses before, of course. I initially bought it for last year’s NaNoWriMo2 3. As is typical for me — and, I suspect, for many others — my super-awesome novel did not make it through to its natural demise.

But, even if I only use Ulysses for updating this blog, I’ll spend less time hitting the “Preview” button in the WordPress editor. I’ll write from wherever I am. I’ll probably think of Daring Fireball and reminisce about my first iMac — run from atop my drawing table, since I didn’t have a proper desk at the time — and old friend OS 9. I’ll admire Ulysses’ clever butterfly-meets-dip-pen icon in my Dock or on my phone.

And, even when the writing is crap, I’ll still enjoy the process. That simple joy — entwined with equally simple function — makes Ulysses worth the cost of its lovely piece of code.


  1. Yes! Even footnotes!
  2. “Na-Noh-REE-Moh”. My pronunciation is valid. “Ree” may not sound like “write”, but “noh” doesn’t sound like “novel”, either. The anti-“ree” argument only works if it’s consistent!
  3. Ulysses is now my cross-device writing tool. It’s replaced both Day One and iWriter, in that regard.

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Meet Nena, the Newest Addition to the Woodfin-Mah Family!

She’s a Maltese, surrendered at about 13.5 years of age (which would make her the doggie equivalent of 67 or 68 human years, dependent upon which calculator/method you use). Someone shared a Facebook post about her on the 5th of this month. On the 8th, Linda and I went to Orange County Animal Care, adopted her, and brought her home.

And our family has grown by one!

A photo posted by Sharonda Woodfin (@broken_baja) on

Linda had never owned a dog before, ‘though she’s done plenty of dog-sitting. I grew up with dogs, but had never adopted a senior. We knew that Nena would have some medical issues — and she does: bad teeth, missing teeth, skin allergies, and a bad knee. Nena’s first vet visit as a member of our household also resulted in 3x/day pills to ease her kennel cough.

But imagine our surprise when we realized that Nena is housebroken, crate-trained, and doesn’t bark! Doggy parenting doesn’t get much easier than that!

Over the past few days, since we brought Nena home, I’ve watched my wife fall in love with the little dog. I like to tell Linda that her heart has grown three sizes. “Well, maybe not three,” she says. And she’s smiling when she says it.

Meanwhile, I’m less restless, more centered, and far more satisfied than I was before Nena came into our lives. Dogs will do that for you: They give you focus, purpose, and even a schedule. They aren’t just stabilizing influences; they’re grounding. Some of us need that more than others do, else we flit from thing to thing to thing. (See this blog’s category list. I’ve flitted a lot, of late.)

Too much cuteness!

A photo posted by Sharonda Woodfin (@broken_baja) on

Hat tip to Lisa Scarsi for sharing Nena’s story and pics on Facebook! Without Lisa’s willingness to share, Linda and I would have never known about Nena. We might never have transitioned from happily married with too much free time, to happily married fur mamas. Thanks, Lisa! 🙂

I don’t know the details of Nena’s back story. I was told at the shelter that Nena’s previous family surrendered her because they moved and couldn’t take her with them. I know that there’s a tendency to assume the worst of people who surrender their animals, for whatever reason. And while I do believe that judgment to be spot-on more often than not, I also know that people sometimes find themselves in desperate circumstances, that humans sometimes make stupid decisions, and that there really are cases where an animal might be better off at the county shelter than in some situations with their human families.

Nena after her first bath by mama Sam #cleandog #seniordog #rescuedog #rescuedogsofinstagram #maltese

A photo posted by OrangeCounty Gal (@orangecountygal) on

So, if Nena’s previous people are reading this, I want them to know that — regardless of the circumstances which led them to give her up — Nena is fed, loved, and taken care of. They don’t need to worry about her. She looks pretty happy in these pics, right? (And if they’re still worried, despite the obviously happy dog pics, they’re free to contact me via this site’s contact page.)

And the message for anyone else who is considering getting a dog: Adopting a dog — any dog — helps to make room for some other dog who needs the space. There are always more dogs than there are spaces.

Adopting a senior dog means that you might get lucky, like Linda and I did. And it might not.

In the end, what you’re giving up is the work, the energy, and some of the entertainment that comes with puppyhood. What you’re getting is the face in that last pic, above, and the love that goes with it.

And who can resist a face like that?

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Finley Has Risen!

She didn’t stay up long enough for OCEARCH to get her location, but surface, she did, for the first time in over a week! It’s also the first time she’s surfaced since I started tracking her, so — location info or no — I’m pretty excited to see that my shark has risen!

I’m anxious to see where she’ll be when she surfaces long enough to get a fix on her — ‘though, judging by her OCEARCH profile, Finley tends to stay fairly close to the Texas coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Click here if you’d like to follow Finley, too; or here if you have no clue what I’m talking about.

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Follow that shark!

This is the shark that I’m tracking for that edX shark course I mentioned several days ago. Her name is Finley, and she’s a mature, 10-ft, 361-lb, tiger shark from Port Aransas, Texas. She’s traveled over 3000 miles since she was initially tagged by Ocearch back in November of 2015, and I hope she continues her prodigious paddling while I sit at my desk and wait for her to move!

All reservations about tagging animals — and tagging methodologies — aside, following Finley looks to be an interesting aspect of what, for me, has already become a ridiculously interesting course.

You don’t need to enroll in any such course to follow Finley, though. You can see the tracks of Ocearch’s tagged sharks (and even one sea turtle) just by following the link above.