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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,, 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?!?


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.

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Finding Dory — At the Aquarium of the Pacific!

Activate your blog-reader’s GPS. This will be a long post, with a few twists and turns.

Egg Yolk Jelly at the Aquarium of the Pacific
Egg Yolk Jelly at the Aquarium of the Pacific, June 22nd, 2016.

Linda and I finally saw Finding Dory this past Tuesday night. We’d been meaning to see it since it opened on the 17th. We waited until the 21st because Linda had the 22nd off work, and because Tuesday nights make for less-crowded theaters than Friday nights do. Theoretically, anyway. Plus, Shark Week is coming up! And so is this Cornell meets Queensland course about sharks I want to take at edX! And OMG! Late June is an awesome time to be a fan of fishes!

The first thing you need to know about Finding Dory is that it’s a fun film! Regardless of what you may read online, it’s better than Finding Nemo. Your first clue that this might be the case (particularly if you’re a grown-up), is that Dory garnered a PG rating, versus Nemo‘s G. There were a lot of adults seeing the film when we did, a lot of those adults were laughing throughout the film, and the whole thing — if you don’t count those in-credit scenes; how do moviegoers in the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe not know that the end of the movie is no longer the end of the movie? — ended with a round of applause. Dory, like Zootopia earlier this year, is an animated film produced with more than just kids in mind.

Moon Jellyfish at the Aquarium of the Pacfic
Moon Jellyfish at the Aquarium of the Pacfic, June 8th, 2013.

And for those of us who have spent time as a caregiver to a loved one with dementia, Dory is going to hit home in a meaningful way.

Another thing that Dory hits upon is Morro Bay. Morro Bay is a coastal California town, just northwest of San Luis Obispo. Dory is from a place she remembers as “the jewel of Morro Bay”, which turns out to be some sort of aquarium (with a focus on rehab and release, if you believe Sigourney Weaver). But, in contrast to Monterey Bay and its Aquarium (which I was aware of before coming to California, even from the landlocked fields and pastures of Southeast Missouri), I’d never heard of Morro Bay. Once I was sure that it was a real place, and a real place with a real aquarium, I wondered why the folks who made Finding Dory chose it over Monterey. Or any other Aquarium with a capital “A”.

The only theory that really made sense to me was that, for whatever reason, someone wanted to call attention to the aquarium at Morro Bay. I can’t actually tell you that this was the rationale for making Dory from Morro Bay, but I can tell you that a quick internet search would be enough to justify that motivation. Colin Rigley’s 2012 New Times SLO article “The aquatic anachronism” — complete with documentation from the USDA and the NOAA — describes the Morro Bay Aquarium as “the saddest aquarium on Earth”. The Humane Society wanted the Aquarium shut down as far back as 2013. While the Aquarium’s lease doesn’t end until September 2018, the Morro Bay city council has already approved a contingent partnership with Avila Beach’s Central Coast Aquarium to replace the Morro Bay Aquarium.


Porcupinefish at the Aquarium of the Pacific
Porcupine fish at the Aquarium of the Pacific, June 22nd, 2016.

But that approval didn’t come until January of this year. In the years that Finding Dory was in production, there were people working toward those plans (see KCBX’s 2014 article “Cal Poly, Central Coast Aquarium eye Morro Bay waterfront”; KSBY’s “Morro Bay Aquarium to change ownership”, and New Times SLO’s similarly-titled “Morro Bay Aquarium may change ownership”, both from 2015.) Whether the motivation for Dory’s geographic location came from the conditions at the Morro Bay Aquarium, the hope for a better future in that location, or someone throwing a dart at a map, I know that I’ve come away from the film far more aware than I was before having seen it. And I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only person who decided to search the internet for Morro Bay after seeing the movie.

Finding Dory has raised other concerns, though, particularly among marine biologists. These biologists worry that demand for blue tangs as aquarium fish will rise, which could lead to both depletion of blue tangs and damage to coral reefs.

They aren’t wrong about the demand, if screaming children are a good gauge of such.

Giant Isopod at the Aquarium of the Pacific
Giant Isopod at the Aquarium of the Pacific, June 8th, 2013.

On the heels of seeing Finding Dory, given Linda’s day off, and in anticipation of both Shark Week and the online shark course I mentioned above, my wife and I headed to Long Beach yesterday, and we renewed our membership to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Every blue tang in the Aquarium was surrounded by kids screaming “Dory! Dory!” Sure, there were a few little ones screaming “Nemo!” at the clownfish, but the Nemo fandom couldn’t compete with the Dory section, in either volume or volume. Here’s hoping that parents are willing to say “no” when it’s needed, and to maybe channel that interest and enthusiasm toward a positive end, maybe even by helping places like the Aquarium of the Pacific to preserve species like the blue tang — and other, endangered species, too — so that their kids’ kids can see them one day, and not just in a cartoon.

Taking them to the Aquarium is a good start!

Visits to the Aquarium aren’t nearly as expensive as visiting some popular local amusement parks, but — if you plan to go more than once per year — membership makes it cheaper. And even the cool stuff you can purchase from the gift shop helps to keep the Aquarium funded.

The Otters Strike Back t-shirt from the Aquarium of the Pacific.
The Otters Strike Back t-shirt from the Aquarium of the Pacific. Photo by Linda Mah. Used with permission.

I can’t give you directions from where you live (see the Aquarium’s Directions & Parking page for that); but from where we live, in Downtown Anaheim, the easiest way to get to the Aquarium is to hop on the 5 south, take it to the 22 west, and stay on 7th in Long Beach until either Redondo Avenue, Alamitos Avenue, or Magnolia Avenue — at which point the trip becomes a very real sort of choose your own adventure.


1. Go south.

2. Drive toward water (but never, ever into it).

3. Rely on GPS.

4. Take a straighter path than this post.

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Introductory Anthropology Notes – Not Blood, But Globin

Not so long ago, I learned that the red stuff which sometimes spatters the stove in my kitchen isn’t blood. I don’t remember exactly how I learned it, but I think it involved having my wife look something up online while I was cooking dinner. And the gist of what either she or I discovered is that meat, by the time you’ve bought it from whatever big box grocery store meat department, has been relieved of its blood. What’s actually spattered in my kitchen is myoglobin.

I remember, too, how that sounded an awful lot like a technicality, to me. While I wasn’t completely right (blood is blood and not-blood is not blood, after all), I wasn’t completely wrong, either.

One blood component which has been briefly touched upon in the introductory anthropology lectures I’m listening to is hemoglobin.

You see the similarity already, right? -globin, meet -globin. Hemo- and myo- share a root. And they share a purpose, too. While hemoglobin grabs onto iron molecules and uses them to transport oxygen around in the blood, myoglobin serves the same purpose in muscle tissue. In both cases, it’s that oxygenated iron — think rust — that gives both globins their red pigment.

Globins are a subset of proteins; and proteins, to directly quote Wikipedia, “are assembled from amino acids using information encoded in genes”.

So, even when we’re discussing the not-blood spattered in my kitchen, we’re still discussing genetics. We’re still concerned with — whether we recognize it or not — genetics, inheritance, and evolution.

Never mind turtles; it’s genes all the way down, baby…

And even plasma is thicker than water.