Happy Mother’s Day

My Mother

My Mother

A few nights ago, I was attempting to make pancakes. Nothing complex, just add water, stir, and pour into a hot pan, then flip. 

I hadn’t made pancakes since moving to Los Angeles, and I haven’t gotten the hang of using the gas powered stove I have now. So I got my temperature and timing all wrong, and the pancakes ended up sticking to the pan and turning out a doughy mess. I won’t be competing on Hell’s Kitchen anytime soon.

And as I was standing there over my pancake disaster, attempting to spread butter across the wreckage, I reached for the pancake syrup and remembered my mother. 

When I was a kid, my mother made pancakes often, usually on Sunday mornings before church. She is a master in the kitchen, and her pancakes almost always turned out fluffy and just so. But she also did little things that made the experience more enjoyable, like heating the bottle of syrup in a pan of water on the stove before serving breakfast.

Sometimes in our failures we can appreciate how apparently effortless someone else can make it all look. And that is true of my mother. When I was a kid, she made managing the household, planning and cooking meals, and taking care of all the necessary daily details look simple.

So on this Mother’s Day, I take a moment to remember all those pancake breakfasts of years ago, and remember the love that went into all of them.

Quotes of the Day

In this week’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, during a discussion of religion, fundamentalism and equal rights for minority groups, I picked up a couple of interesting gems that I thought were quite poignent.

Bill Maher, consistent with his anti-religion outlook, made a statement that religion made people bigots. He said something to the effect that Islam led people to be bigoted, motivating them to cut the heads off of other people.

Two of my favorite parts of the conversation follow:

“People cut people’s heads off … People will use any kind of ideology to promote any kind of bigotry that they already feel. Religion doesn’t make you a bigot. You’re just a (deleted) bigot.” — Raza Azlan

“Anyone who tries to fight the advancement of any particular minority group, you’re going to lose. Whether it’s now or 20 years from now, they’re wasting their time.” — Seth McFarlane

One of Maher’s “New Rules” was good this week, too:

I don’t need to take any more crap about the sanctity of marriage from a single woman with fake tits (Miss California) and a divorced guy (Joe the Plummer).

I love Real Time with Bill Maher.

Watching the DOW drag itself out of the ruins

I love my iGoogle page, and right at the top I have the Stock Market widget where I keep an eye on the DOW and a handful of other stocks.

I noticed today that the DOW ended up over 8,400, which is pretty incredible. I saw the number going up in the morning and expected a big selloff at the end. So starting high and ending high is unusual in these post-housing market crash days.

The trends are going up, but we’re still down in the 1 year and 5 year timeframe.

One Month To Date

2009may04-1

3 Months To Date

2009may04-2

6 Months To Date

2009may04-3

I enjoy watching these charts, especially when the numbers are in the green. But I feel the obsession with stock performance detracts from the real question of whether any particular business is sound, profitable, and producing the best products or services possible. The stock market isn’t based on fundamentals anymore — it is more and more become emotion based. So if these recent positive numbers mean anything, they show the increasing confidence people have in the Obama administration and the economy as a whole.

Update: May 9, 2009

As of Friday, May 8, 2009, the DOW was almost even in the 6 Month to Date value, only -369.16 from November 10, 2008. That I’m even updating this post shows both how happy I am that it has come so far, and how paranoid I am that it may fall again. For everyone’s sake, keep praying for a quick recovery.

Google Profiles: Another Profile, Another SEO Opportunity

googleprofile2Have you seen your Google Profile yet? Visit http://google.com/profiles/me and get started, then!

Google Profiles might be a stealth attempt at building a social network in the shadow of FaceBook’s dominance. The profile isn’t as feature rich or complex as FaceBook … yet … but does offer an opportunity to post a photo, contact information, and links to other sites.

And regardless of where Google plans to take this function, they have already added Profiles to the Google search results, making Profiles an important element in your search engine optimization plan. 

You get to customize the URL, so claim yours early before your namesake beats you to it like he did with that .com domain you never got around to registering.

Check out my Google Profile here:
http://www.google.com/profiles/waynehastings

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-03

Who Would Jesus Torture?

wwjt-tshirtOn April 30, 2009, CNN reported that evangelicals in the United States are more likely to approve of torture than other groups.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it…

Inspired by this news item, I created a “Who Would Jesus Torture” t-shirt. Get yours today and display your faith and patriotism proudly!

WordPress Plugins I Actually Use: Part 2

A couple weeks have gone by, and I have been tweaking this site a bit, both in the look and feel of the user interface and in the functionality in the plugins installed.

I added one new plugin, deactivated one and replaced it with another.

Since my last post, I have deactivated ShareThis. I felt it caused too much delay in page loading. In its place, I am using Sociable, which looks prettier and loads faster.

For managing the top level navigation, I found Page Lists Plus. This plugin gives you a great deal of control over the main nav, which WordPress creates based on your Pages. The link to my resume in the top nav is a link to a Google Docs page. And I have created a couple of other pages that I want in the site but that I don’t want in the main nav.

To configure Page Lists Plus to do the redirect, install and activate the plugin. On the Setting page, check this box:

plp1

Then create the Page, where the following appears at the bottom of the admin:

plp2

As you see, I have entered the Google Docs URL in the Redirect To field. Now the Resume page appears in the top navigation, but redirects to an off site URL instead of the page in WordPress.

So, this Part 2 of the series isn’t earth shattering in content, but, in the case of the main navigation, important in managing the functionality of the site.

The limited behavior of the main navigation, based as it is on Pages, belies WordPress’ history as a blogging platform. As WordPress continues to grow towards a more full-featured CMS, little amenities like these need to migrate from plugins into core functionality.

Iconic Me

After Chet twittered about my blog running the WPTouch theme, I was reminded I hadn’t customized it at all.

First things first, a new icon! Now, if you go to this site (waynehastings.net) on your iPhone or iPod Touch, click the Bookmark “+” icon, then click “Add to Home Screen”, the icon will look like this:

whicon1

Thankfully, the makers of the WPTouch theme included a Photoshop document, so creating this icon took just a few minutes. Little amenities like that make using some open source software an absolute pleasure.

Just for fun, I also replaced my Twitter profile picture with this icon.

Hide MobileMe Icon in MacOS

mobilemeEvery time Apple pushes out a new MacOS update, for some reason the MobileMe and International preferences icons keep reappearing. For the International preferences, you can go to Apple menu –> System Preferences… –> International –> Input Menu and uncheck “Show input menu in menu bar”. But MobileMe doesn’t have a checkbox anywhere that I can find.

Fortunately, managing the icons in the upper right menubar is pretty easy, with a non-intuitive keyboard / click-and-drag combo.

Hold down the Apple key — also called the Command key or the propeller — then click on the MobileMe icon in the menubar and drag it off the menubar. You should see the icon change to semi-transparent as you drag it off the menu bar, then disappear in the puff of smoke when you release the mouse button.

You can use this same Apple+drag trick to rearrange most of the other icons in the menubar. 

Some people subscribe to MobileMe and love it, but that isn’t a service I am using, and there is no reason it should be on my screen all the time.

What are your favorite MacOS tricks?