Site appears to have been hacked

There is a link near the top of the page. I have no idea where it came from, but I certainly didn’t add it. I’m looking into this situation, but haven’t figured out how to get rid of it just yet. For the time being I wanted to warn you NOT to click on the blasted thing.

UPDATE: Okay, changing the theme and getting rid of the slideshow seems to have gotten rid of that link. Now back to trying to identify its source… and to trying get the site to look a little more presentable.

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Hosting woes

Okay, as you may have noticed, things have been really quiet around here. That is due, among other things, to the fact that I’m still having some serious trouble with my host (that would be Green Geeks. BTW, if you are looking to build a website, I would seriously suggest that you look elsewhere because in my experience dealing with this company is a real nightmare). In fact it has gotten so bad that rather that looking to attract traffic I am dreading the possibility of having a moderate amount of success, as my site keeps being taken offline for taking up too many resources… funny thing, given that they claim to offer ‘unlimited bandwidth’ and 99.9% uptime (yeah, right).

Anyway, I am looking for alternatives, but unfortunately they have a pretty awful refund policy, and that’s making it hard for me to get away from them, so for the time being it looks like I’m stuck in a situation in which they are the host and I am the hostage.

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Empty spaces

Okay, so I finished a first draft and formatted it to get a general idea as to what the page count was likely to be. This is usually a fairly straight forward process, but this time around the results were kind of borderline. Font size is a known quantity, as is line height, but the margins are a different matter. I admit that with my longer books I try to keep them to a minimum in an attempt to keep the prices down (that extra space really adds up when you are talking about a book that’s more than three hundred pages), but at the same time I do realize that wider margins make for a far more pleasant reading experience. The thing is that while with shorter works that’s not usually much of an issue,  this one is kind of stuck in the middle, and that extra space will cause the retail price to go up a bit. The question I have to ask myself now is, is it worth it?

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Start, stop, delete, repeat

No, this blog isn’t dead, I’m just having a hard time actually getting things posted. To tell you the truth I’m not entirely sure why that is… maybe it’s just that none of the posts I’ve started and then deleted seems to fit.When I started this blog I meant to keep it professional, then it got a little more personal, but somehow it’s still stuck in limbo, and the fact that I’m a little fed up with the oversharing that I can see all around me in the form of constant -and rather pointless- updates is making matters worse.

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eReading and dyslexia

So about a month ago I finally took the plunge and bought myself a tablet. I had been reading on my phone for a while and I admit that, unlike most people, I didn’t have much trouble with the size of the screen. Still, I was looking forward to having a more reasonably-sized page.

One month later the takeaway lesson is that while the bigger screen is great for watching movies, reading comics and getting some work done, for reading I’ll stick with my phone, thank you very much. Simply put I hadn’t realized how much that little screen was helping me to focus, or what kind of a difference having shorter and fewer lines to contend with at a time  made. Yes, I can read on the tablet’s screen, and I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a struggle, but it is more of a chore and I also finding far more tiring.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but if you are dyslexic, and you enjoy reading, you may want to give that ‘annoyingly little’ screen a chance. You may be surprised by the result.

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Of growth and cringing

I am currently getting ready to tackle the last two rounds of corrections of the third book in the Citlalli series, and one of the things that entails is going over books one and two one more time to ensure continuity. The problem is that rereading them is incredibly frustrating, as I keep finding things I would like to change, but have no choice but to leave as they are. Yes, on a rational level I know, the fact that I can’t help but to feel that the earlier books are missing something is a good sign, I know it shows that I have grown since then, and so on… but I still cringe when I read them, I just can’t help it. Here’s hoping that when I go over book three a year from now, I won’t find it as cringe-worthy… or maybe I should hope that I will.

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Blogger’s block

Okay, I’ve heard of writer’s block, but this is getting ridiculous. Yes, I know I should try to post something (other than excuses for not posting, that is), but for whatever reason I can’t seem to think of anything, and posting for the sake of posting is not something I’m too keen on. Yes, I’m still writing, though I’m having a bit of trouble with my stories as well, but I think one of the things that’s bothering me is the amount of pointless information people post online, that’s one of the reasons I’m not on Facebook or anything like that, but at times I fear that this blog is turning out to be just as self-centered.

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Reading tomorrow’s paper

Okay, I know it’s silly, in fact I know this is something I’ve been doing on a daily basis without even realizing it for years, but earlier today, as I was going over the reactions to the ICJ ruling about whaling I decided to visit some English language Japanese news sites, just to see how they were framing it (for what it’s worth, they seem to be trying to actively minimize it). The thing is that when I opened the page I was greeted by tomorrow’s date. As I said, nothing different or unusual, on a rational level I know that, but on an instinctive level the notion that tomorrow’s paper is just one click away does feel more than a little weird.

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Sorry about the vanishing act

Hi guys, I just wanted to let you know that this blog hasn’t been abandoned, I had just gone on vacation. Hopefully things will go back to normal over the next couple of weeks (sorry, but I still have to get back in the rhythm of things!)

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A rather odd realization

As I begin work on the fourth and last book of Citlalli I have come across a rather unexpected realization: I don’t know where the story ends. Oh, I know what the book is about, I know most of what’s supposed to happen, in fact I have known that all along, but seeing how this is the final book in the series I have a degree of freedom I didn’t have in any of the previous installments. I knew how, book one had to end if I wanted book two to make sense. I knew how book two had to end for book three to make sense, and I knew where book three was going because it had to set the stage for book four. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t countless changes to the original plan, but for the most part the rough outline of those stepping stones had to remain, well, carved in stone. When it comes to book four, however, all bets are off. I can do whatever I want. It is such a relief… it is also oddly terrifying.

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On the ‘loneliness kills’ myth

And here we go again, with another round of headlines on the negative impact of loneliness on health. According to the latest research loneliness can disrupt sleep, elevate blood pressure, increase morning rises in the stress hormone cortisol, alter gene expression in immune cells and increase depression and lower overall subjective well-being. It all sounds very scientific and extremely disturbing, but while I realize that there is likely to be something to all these studies, there is one rather obvious factor that I suspect plays a critical role that is hardly ever mentioned, maybe because it can be hard to quantify: the simple fact that in case of medical emergency you sometimes need someone else to call for help (and this is likely to be particularly true when it comes to the elderly who are not only more likely to find themselves facing a medical emergency, but also less likely to be attached to a smartphone or even a cell phone).

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Feeling kind of meh…

Yes, I realize that things have been kind of quiet lately, but the truth is that I’ve been feeling kind of meh in these past few days. I know, not exactly a technical term but…

No, I’m not depressed, not quite, I guess adrift would be a more accurate description,  or maybe it’s just that I feel like I’m in limbo. The thing is that I’m about to take my yearly break, and I feel like I’m neither here nor there. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I definitely appreciate having a chance to hang out with friends and family, recharge, or unwind, or whatever it is you want to call it, in fact I realize that taking a break every now and then is something I actually have to do, but at the same time there’s no getting around the fact that having a couple of weeks in which I have almost no time to write is something I find kind of unnerving. I know it’s silly, I know most people can’t wait to get away from their jobs and so on, but I enjoy what I do on a daily basis, and even though there comes a time when I start feeling like my brains are about to start dripping out of my ears, I can never quite shake the fear that once I get back to my daily routine I am going to have a hard time reconnecting with my stories, that they will have faded into the background and won’t seem quite so vivid any  more. That is more than a little scary… and to make matters worse there is also the fact that, seeing how I’m usually working on two projects at a time, I can’t really hope to line things up in such a way that the break comes at a time when I don’t feel like I’m stopping in mid-sentence in at least one of them.

Well, there is nothing I can do about it because I know I have to take a break at some point -that is a must- and I think I have timed this year’s as well as I could have hoped to, but the truth is that even though I am looking forward to having a chance to unwind, there is also a part of me that is itching to get back to work already.

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In defense of Woody Allen… sort of

I have to admit that my first response upon reading Dylan Farrow’s open letter was a rather inappropriate one: I found myself thinking ‘who does she think she is? Bush?‘ As I said, not the most appropriate, or charitable, of responses under the circumstances, but the thing is that while I have no way of knowing whether or not her allegations are true, I found her attitude of ‘if you are not with me you are against me’, and her assumption that the fact that one of the most influential filmmakers of the past half century -a man who is fast approaching eighty, and who was never charged with a crime, let alone convicted- was being presented with a lifetime achievement award was all about her to be more than a little jarring.

No, I’m not denying that her hurt is real, nor am I denying that she is convinced that what she is saying is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In fact I’m not even denying the possibility that the events may have unfolded just like she says they did. I wasn’t there, so I can do nothing but speculate. What I do know is that our memories are seldom as reliable as we like to think they are, so I can’t help but to feel that her story -a story I personally feel has a few too many holes to be entirely believable- shouldn’t be enough to damn the man… especially not in light of the climate of hatred that is likely to have permeated the Farrow household at the time, a climate of hatred that seven-year old Dylan wouldn’t have had the means to recognize, defend against, or escape. Read more »

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One month, zero accidents, and a shaken-up worldview

All my life I had been told that homeopathy was little more than quackery, and even though I had never really tested that claim, well, the assumption did seem commonsensical enough… and then my thirteen-year-old dog started developing a number of health issues. As a responsible dog owner I took her to the vet, and when a new problem developed I took her back again, and again, and again. In short, I was receiving a different diagnosis each week as the vet vivisected her diagnosing what was wrong with this organ and with that one, utterly forgetting the fact that there was just one dog. It was frustrating, so much so that in the end I decided to contact a homeopathic vet. No, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of treatment, but I needed someone who would look at the whole dog and at least try to see if all those issues had a common cause… one that might enable me to go back to my vet and maybe get her to treat the underlying problem.

The vet came and went, leaving behind a diagnosis for a hormonal imbalance and a couple of remedies I didn’t particularly trust. Still even though I was rather skeptical, I decided to give them a shot.

Anyway, one of my main concerns had to do with the fact that she had become incontinent. Seeing how she’s usually with me as I write, that was a problem, especially because I didn’t want to punish her for being sick by kicking her out of what had always been ‘her spot’ (though I didn’t particularly relish the idea of sitting on a poodle of pee either). It was, in short, a symptom that was incredibly annoying, readily apparent and easily measurable… notice the past tense.

Yes, to my surprise the thing worked like a charm. It’s been one month and two days since that visit, and one month since she last had an accident (they used to happen a couple of times a day before). I don’t understand why it worked, I know common sense says it shouldn’t have, but no matter how I look at it I can’t deny the evidence of my own eyes, nor can I attribute the changes to a placebo effect because the bottom line is that she has no way of knowing that the treat she gets a couple of times a day has a few drops of a homeopathic remedy added to it. She’s a DOG for crying out loud!

In other words, it’s a puzzle, one I can’t quite make sense of, but at the same time I have to admit that I am incredibly grateful for how things turned out, and by the fact that I was able to preserve her quality of life without sacrificing mine.

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Lucky

I was reading an article about the importance of balancing things we have to do with things we want to do, things that bring us pleasure and things that give us a sense of accomplishment. The thing is that the article treated these as a sort of dichotomy, and that felt so alien. It may be a little thing but it was enough to make me realize just how lucky I am because the truth is that I don’t have to seek that balance, as writing brings me pleasure and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. No, it’s not the most financially rewarding of jobs, but it sure pays in a different way!

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