Forest fires and bikers

I’ve been watching the KTLA online feed of the North fire. The fire crossed the 15 near the Cajon Pass and is traveling unhindered on its way. The wind funnels up the pass and drops down onto the flat. I don’t think it will bode well for any homes in its path.

In another life well-lived, I spent 4,000 hours of helicopter flight time on forest fires in northern Canada. A lot of it came back to me in a huge rush while watching the feed. I had to load a mapping program to follow the progress of the news helicopters as they patrolled the perimeter with eyes high in the sky. The resolution of the camera from 8,500 feet is phenomenal.

There were no DC-10 airtankers back in the old days.

But I digress.

I couldn’t resist centering the map over a former favorite watering hole.

The usual suspects were in Fontana at a biker rally. One p.m. (that’s right, one in the afternoon) came and went, and, being the irresponsible, thirsty louts we were, we saddled up and headed for the 10. At the 215 we turned south and pulled off at La Cadena. For the uninitiated, it’s the home of the Club 215, a peeler bar renowned for nothing in particular but for being two stories high, with a balcony.

It was also on the way home, if you took the slight detour I outlined.

We liked the place because we could get out in the fresh air, wander around, and watch the sights – of which there aren’t many in Coulton. The girls liked it, too. Since we were the only ones in the club at that early hour, they wandered in and out to chat. I won’t go into details, but by early evening, it was long past time to herd the lads home.

I knew that, because beer bottles began floating down from the second story balcony to explode in the parking lot. Seeing as I was the only illegal in the club (I checked – there were no Canadian girls performing), and being of sound mind, I made an informed decision.

It was time to roll.

With the able assistance of a couple of the ladies, we managed to get the boys down the stairs without anyone falling down. Out in the parking lot, it was an entirely different story.

Tommy threw a leg over his Sporty, collapsed the kickstand, put both feet on the pegs, and headed on his way, eager to be in the wind. The problem was, he hadn’t bothered to light the fire. He promptly fell over with both feet on the pegs while still gripping the bars.

Much laughter ensued.

Eventually, we managed to get Tommy untangled and out from under his Sporty. We made sure to keep him on the bike as we helped him up. Once we got him straight and level, I started the engine, put it in gear, and slapped him on the back.

Away he wobbled.

It was a simple matter to head south on the 215, hit the 60 at Box Springs, and meander on down the road on the 10 to the 62 turnoff. I got to ride sweep to clean up the debris on the way home.

It was an uneventful ride on a normal California day under sunshine and blue sky.

I miss it sometimes, but not often, now.

Dear CBC News Now with Heather Hiscox

Updated: In August of 2014 I happily dumped cable in its entirety. Too bad. So sad. I could care less how those flapping arms behave.

I miss nothing about television. In fact, with internet radio and the abundance of ’40s and ’50s noir radio detective shows and other programming, I’m quite enjoying being back in the mid-20th century.

*

Will someone puh-leese tie down and secure the hands of that person reading your news in the a.m.? It has really become quite comical to watch Ms Hiscox as she constantly waves her hands and arms wildly in a meaningless attempt at emphasizing every mundane sentence that she pronounces. Gravitas be damned! Jabbing. Pointing. Waving. Circling. Gesturing wildly. Does she really think that it adds anything relevant to what she says, does, or reads?

As a joke, someone must have given her a pair of leather mittens to wear while she is in Yellowknife attending a winter carnival, knowing what she would do. The black thumb remains extended in perpetuity, erect like a middle finger demonstrating fickle fate. She waves this hellhole of darkness at all and sundry, while her hand within is clenched fervently against the cold. Opposite, a clenched and gloved fist complete with terrifying, empty cloth fingers flop wildly with every motion.

In the studio, it is no better – minus the black hands, of course. The woman cannot be restrained.

Please, for the love of God and the Dominion, can someone, anyone, anywhere, tie that woman’s hands behind her back whenever she is on-screen?

Thank you.

Nachthexen

Night Witches, indeed.

They flew low-and-slow in their wood and fabric biplanes during the dark of night with only basic instrumentation. The instrument panel had airspeed, altimeter, compass and turn-and-bank indicators. Add in a timepiece and it’s called “dead reckoning” for a reason, particularly in the middle of the night.

Some of them flew eighteen missions a night. By the end of the war, each and every one of them left alive had flown 1,000 or more missions. If you don’t know what that entails, read the article.

“We simply couldn’t grasp that the Soviet airmen that caused us the greatest trouble were in fact women. These women feared nothing. They came night after night in their very slow biplanes, and for some periods they wouldn’t give us any sleep at all.” –Hauptmann Johannes Steinhoff, Commander of II/JG 52, Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross, September 1942.

They were the women of the Russian 588th Night Bomber Regiment. You can read more about the bravery of these women and how they operated and survived at The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Addition.

DIY Thesis theme sucks problems

R.I.P Thesis 2.0. Too Bad, not so sad at all. Buy another theme.

R.I.P Thesis 2.0. Too Bad, but not so sad at all. Buy another theme.

Update April 13, 2016: DIY Thesis is out with yet another announcement of a skin for the Thesis 2.0 theme. Jesus Christ, but it’s been how many years since Thesis 2.0 had been out and they’re only announcing really purty, priddy fine, high impact theme design? Good lord, people, BUY ANOTHER THEME, please.

If you can’t afford one, there are P L E N T Y of themes for free that will do everything you need, many times over, in a clear and concise way. You won’t have to wrestle with NO REFUNDS, EVAR, or the sad spectacle of having a theme that you need to pay a developer to use. BUY ANOTHER THEME.

*

Update June 1, 2015:  In other words, another DIYtheme clusterfuck. Nothing new to see here, folks. Move along now, and BUY ANOTHER THEME.

Effectus Skin webinar didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped. Hundreds of people were denied access, and on top of that, our recording failed, too.

*

UPDATE May 28, 2015: According to the great Chris Pearson of Thesis DIY themes fame, “Google has been using site performance as a rankings signal since February of 2010”.

If that’s the case, why has he now, only five years later, come up with a Thesis DIYthemes skin, to take advantage of Google site performance rankings? What, exactly, has he been doing with DIYthemes for the past five years? Why is he only now recognizing that performance rankings are a huge part of Google search results if, five years ago, Google was using performance rankings?

According to Chris Pearson of DIYthemes, “we’ve created the new [ skin ], which brings you a customizable responsive design”. Really? What took you so long? Oh, right, nothing to see here. Move along, everyone. It always takes him years and years to do shit. (See below if you don’t believe that.)

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS, PEOPLE:

If you’re thinking about purchasing the Thesis DIY theme, think again. Need I say more in reference to the Twitter Twatting Chris Pearson and his DIY Thesis Theme:

“we do not … offer refunds after a purchase has been made.”

In other words, if you’re looking for a refund after handing over your hard-earned cash, you more than likely won’t get one.

*

UPDATE April 30, 2015: Here ya go. But before you upgrade, don’t bother. Thesis 1 theme is not responsive. Don’t waste your money on this dog, because search engines will ignore your site for the most part and your ratings will completely tumble.

The latest greatest update to Thesis 1 is out, and the great master, Chris Pearson himself, has this to say in the comments:

Upgrading a Thesis 1 site to Thesis 2 generally requires a professional

WTF is with that?

Don’t buy this time suck, people. It’s a real drag on your output and your bank account before you get anything that’s useable. And like I said, if it’s Thesis 1, your search rankings will tumble because the theme is not responsive.

*

If you’re thinking about purchasing the Thesis DIY theme, think again. Need I say more in reference to the Twitter Twatting Chris Pearson and his DIY Thesis Theme:

“we do not … offer refunds after a purchase has been made.”

In other words, if you’re looking for a refund after handing over your hard-earned cash, you more than likely won’t get one.

*

How to ESCAPE ANY THESIS DIY THEME and its Twitter Twatting owner:

  1. Install a free WordPress theme of your choosing, or use one already in your Appearance tab. If you’d like to try a FREE, AMAZINGLY CUSTOMIZABLE theme from menus, try Acquoid Themes and its free Suffusion theme. It’s had over a million downloads for a reason.
  2. In your new theme, install a plugin called All in One SEO. This will optimize your blog for search engine optimization once you escape the Thesis Theme and its completely useless and irrelevant time-sucking learning curve.
  3. In your new theme, install the All in One SEO Pack Importer plugin.
  4. Activate the All in One SEO Pack Importer plugin under Settings/AIOSEOP in the sidebar and put it to work. Once done, you can deactivate the SEO Importer plugin.
  5. Enjoy the benefits of your escape from the Twitter Twat.
  6. Don’t forget to activate the All in One SEO plugin. Once you do, you’re good to go with all the search engine capabilities of your former Thesis theme stupidity. Furthermore, you shouldn’t lose any search engine visibility.

Once Thesis is gone and you’ve freed yourself from its infinite stupidity, consider taking a look at Aquoid Themes. Their Suffusion theme is free, infinitely customizable from menus, and does all that DIY Thesis and its Twitter Twat author promises – All for free!

*

Update November 16, 2013: Well now. It would seem that the DIY Thesis Theme refund policy has been changed to the following:

According to the refund policy, I can’t get one.

<snip>

the Thesis Theme refund policy states that “only if you have worked with our support staff to try and resolve the problem first.

Very interesting. It would appear that they’ve been getting a lot of requests for refunds and that’s one way to keep new customers paying through the nose.

Stay away from this theme, people. It’s nothing but a headache, in my opinion.

I have now successfully completed the move of five of my six sites over to free WordPress themes with no loss of SEO, data, or comments. Thank goodness for WordPress plugins that allowed me to do that.

[Edited to add that ALL of my themes have now been freed from the captivity of Thesis DIY and Chris Pearson.]

*

Update August 10, 2013: I no longer recommend Chris Pearson’s time-sucking DIY Thesis or DIY Thesis 2 theme in any way, shape, or form. Avoid it at all costs. I have returned three four five all six of my sites to the WordPress default themes, with the same functionality, and I’m not looking back.

No matter what bullshit Chris Pearson attempts to sell you on DIY Thesis themes, don’t buy it. It sucks. And further to that, it won’t convert from Thesis 1 to Thesis 2. DON’T BUY INTO THE BULLSHIT. You’ll be sorry if you do.

 *

Update July 1, 2013: It’s now been nine, count’em, nine months. If this asshole was pregnant, he’d have a baby by now, and a manual by Dr. Spock on how to set everything up. What’s the dealio here with Thesis and DIY? Who the hell knows? Rumor has it that the latest beta release of his theme isn’t compatible with thesis 2.0. You have to DO IT OVER AGAIN! Apparently, it’s another new concept brought to the people that have financed his millionaire lifestyle. Go figure.

Update June 11, 2013: I’ve lost count of how many months it’s been since the promises were made. Hold your nose, because they’re all worthless and stink like shit. Nothing new here. Move on to BUY ANOTHER THEME! Unless, of course, you’re independently wealthy, don’t serve your customers needs, and continue to fuck the shit out of them by not providing goods for money spent on this completely incomprehensible DIY Thesis theme. Customer service? What’s that?

*

This dumbass dipshit brags about having sold over 53,000 theme packages. That’s around four million bucks+. No wonder the son of a bitch spends all his time being a Twitter twat rather than serving his paying customers. What a dipshit.

From the Thesis blog, December 7, 2012: Christmas is right around the corner, and here at DIYthemes, we’re busy filling our sleigh with Boxes, Skins, and everything else you need to run a killer website.

Fucking A! It’s now May 13, 2013. Just where are all of those “Boxes, Skins, and everything else you need to run a killer website”. Losers.

Update May 8, 2013: No promised skins. No official manuals. Seven months later? It sucks to be a Thesis user.

R.I.P. Thesis themes. Long live a wiser, more functional choice backed up by its authors with manuals, skins and a user forum that speaks English anyone can understand. Business schools should take and teach a lesson from this outfit on how not to do customer relations. As of January 9 there are still no Thesis 2 manuals provided by the theme author. There are still no skins as promised on the sales page. Ho-hum. Just another Thesis failing.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update March 1, 2013: FIVE MONTHS AND STILL NO SKINS OR OFFICIAL MANUAL. The bilious stench of a dead theme is everywhere.

And that’s not just my opinion.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update February 1, 2013: Four months and still no skins, nada, rien, nothing. The bad joke is on people who spent good money – such as myself – on a worthless piece of shit.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update January 7, 2013: I’m thinking that the Great One™ hasn’t yet figured out that independent theme designers aren’t flocking to his Thesis 2 theme to build skins for sale. He must have really pissed off a lot of people in the WP industry.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update January 1, 2013: Three months, and still no manual, still no skins. Give the Thesis theme a wide berth, people.

The latest Twitter Twat reveals that the reason the skins weren’t released was because Chris Pearson, Twitter Twit extraordinaire, didn’t want to piggyback onto the Newtown shootings. Really? WTF is with that? And then came Christmas, and New Year’s, and next it will be Valentine’s Day. Oh, wait. Now it’s because he’s consulting with lawyers. Puh-leeze. Give us all a break.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

December 21, 2012: Still no manual, still no skins.

Some poor guy has been in the Thesis 2 forum trying to find out how to put an image rotator in the header since December 13. He hasn’t had an answer that makes any sense since then. I’m trying to do the same thing, and I come up with a blank too. When I posted my displeasure by saying that the answers to his questions didn’t make any sense, my post was deleted. Another has been trying since December 1, with no success from the people who have all the answers – whoever they are.

What a bunch of fucking morons.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

December 5, 2012 – still no manual or any other promised goods. But, according to the corporate flim-flammer, Thesis 2 is completely compatible with WP3.5. Go figure. Vaporware was never this bad.

  • Customer service: Zero.
  • Customer feedback: Zero.
  • Contact with company representatives: Zero.
  • Public relations: Zero.
  • Getting what the customer pays for and is promised: Zero.
  • The chance that I would I recommend this company, its products, its management team or its owner: ZERO.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update December 1, 2012: No manual, no skins. It’s been two, count ’em, two months. Where’s the beef? What a fucking loser this theme company is.

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

The saddest thing by far is that this dumbass clown and his Thesis 2 theme has a public relations disaster nightmare on his hands and he’s too smart by far to recognize it. If he was just a tad more of a dumbass, he’d be trying to do damage control. He can’t, though, because he spends too much time being a Twitter Twat™.

Forum user counts have been disabled, but queries are way down compared to just a few days ago. I guess everyone is finally learning how to use Thesis 2 all by themselves.

* cue sound of uncontrollable laughter *

BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update November 15, 2012: I’ve spent innumerable hours trying to do the simplest things with this theme, such as have teasers with thumbnails, captions under images, and a whole lot more. THIS THEME IS UNUSABLE IN ITS PRESENT STATE. Which means, it’s unusable if you want to do basic WP functions that are embedded in WP. BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Furthermore, who gives a flying fuck about Golden Width Typography or whatever the fuck he calls it when you can’t even design a fucking homepage with this fucking useless monstrosity that he’s been paid millions of dollars for?

Update November 5, 2012: Apparently a Thesis DIY Themes employee has a paid theme available for sale. Why is it that an employee has time to develop a skin for sale, yet the clusterfuck known as Pearson&Cie can’t smell their own shit well enough to produce a skin? Is that a method of rewarding employees, rather than loyal theme subscribers? WTF is with that?

Clown & Company can’t even get a favicon image to display. Christ on mighty. Oops. I mean, they’ll be a-gettin’ to that Real.Soon.Now.

Rotating header images? Nope. Sorry about that. Want to search the forum only for T2 rotating header image info? Can’t do that either. All the shit and detritus for T1 comes up, and there’s no way to tell until you actually read the forum post whether it applies to T1 or T2. BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update November 1, 2012: It’s been a month since Thesis 2 was unceremoniously dropped on its paying customers, and still no manual. Still no skins. But they’re coming Real.Soon.Now. Funny thing about that, though. Real Soon Now was the cri de couer of software in the ’90s. Usually it meant that nothing was ever forthcoming.

WTF is with that? Vaporware or what? I’m beginning to think the Thesis theme is done.

My recommendation: BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update October 24, 2012: The Thesis 2.01 update will not have official documentation. Nothing new there. The Thesis 2.0 release still has no documentation provided by Pearson. If it smells like shit, it is shit.

Try to imagine a business that promotes itself exclusively by tweeting on twitter, and you have the essence of diythemes and its product. Meanwhile, the Thesis theme forum goes unused in an effort to have it and its moderators feebly attempt to hold the hands of the owners of a product for which no official documentation exists. If it smells like shit, it is shit.

Oh, wait. I said that already. BUY ANOTHER THEME!

Update October 15, 2012: Thesis 2 was dropped unceremoniously onto Thesis aficionados minus a manual, minus how-tos, minus just about everything a good piece of software should have. The fanboys all love it and extoll the virtues, but it’s no miracle cure for anything. And it won’t be.

  • Drag and drop? Not likely.
  • Blockquotes, a staple of WP since forever? Not recognized.
  • No coding required? Sure, I guess. Somewhere.
  • A thumbnail image standard in WP? Not recognized.
  • Teasers? Go code.
  • Rounded corners? Where?
  • wp_debug codes?  Ad infinitum.
  • Skins? Not available. But they’ll be there real soon now–just like the documentation.
  • It makes extensive modifications to the database. Ouch.

*     *     *

I can no longer recommend Chris Pearson’s Thesis or Thesis 2 theme in any way, shape, or form. It is my considered opinion that the Thesis theme should be avoided it at all costs. Please consider Genesis or some other paid theme platform for WordPress.

My advice: Try something else if you’re looking for a paid theme.

Carpenter John: 2

Part 1 is here.

I had been on the road since six a.m. in the heat, and it wasn’t getting any cooler as the day wore on into evening and darkness. Finally I was beginning to get tired. On the city’s east side about six miles out I stopped for fuel and a burger. That got me feeling a little better.

I waited for the light to green up and then I turned east and was gone one more time. I had another two hundred and change to go. And there he was, pulling up behind me again. He must have stopped somewhere for a break too.

I was making a steady 70. My next break was down the road, 90 or so ahead, just inside the Ontario border. He pulled in behind me. No big deal. I figured I might as well find out where he was headed.

He introduced himself as John. From Montana. A carpenter, of all things. When he mentioned that, I could see by his hands. They were definitely carpenter hands.

He was making about 145 to a tank, so I pulled out a map and donated it to the cause. I circled his gas stops all the way to London, his destination in southern Ontario. I told him about the short cut across Lake Huron. Bikes were first on and first off. He seemed happy to hear that, because it would knock a good 350 miles off of his voyage.

Before we pulled out, he called me old-timer and thanked me for the help.

Yeah, I guess I am an old-timer, at least in the riding department.

The road was two-lane now. Another 30 and it was a stop to get fuel, then 85 more to my destination where I’d be stopping for the night. Beside me in the twilight at my destination he wobbled off the light, running in the right of my lane. He thanked me for the help again and turned off for gas. I waved.

A little farther down I checked into my motel. It was almost dark. When I was unloading, I heard him go by. He had to be in London in a day and a half. It was certainly do-able, because I had done it. I figured he could too.

*

I’m almost tempted to wonder if there was something biblical in nature going on during this encounter, but being the sinner that I am, what the hell would I know?

Carpenter John: 1

Part 2 is here.

When I ride, I like to ride alone—unless there’s a woman involved. Over the decades I’ve become wary of the RUBs and other associated newbies who took up riding last month—or last year. Down south I would ride sweep on the shop’s local runs for newbies. In fact, I liked to be bringing up the rear. It was safer there.

I was never happy with what I saw during those rides. Although I probably could have made my excuses, I toughed it out and had a few laughs along the way at the ineptitude of many of the riders who had bought their sparkly new motorcycles from the store.

Yeah, I’m an independent.

*

I watched the bike merge into traffic. His ride was loaded with a tent, a sleeping bag and probably more camping gear in the saddlebags. He must have been coming from a campground just a few miles to the south. When he waved on his way past, I checked the time: 1100. I had already been on the road for five hours.

His plate said he was out of Montana. Nice riding country.

Another fifteen minutes and I pulled in behind him at the gas pumps. During pleasantries I discovered that he was headed down the road another 130 miles. We were going to the same place.

Perhaps I was confused by his leathers. They were well-worn, not new by any stretch. He wore a beanie, with plenty of faded stickers plain to see. His boots were well-scuffed too. A red bandana was around his neck. He used it to cover his face when he was riding. Sometimes that can be a giveaway, but this time I didn’t think so.

When I pulled out he was just walking in to pay.

When he passed on the four-lane, I was paying more attention. His riding stuck out like a sore thumb. He pulled ahead, but he remained in the number one lane, first on one side of it, and then on the other, back and forth. I remember thinking that’s not right. In fact, I know it isn’t.

Then he slowed down.

Wary now, I eased over a bit, just off of the left side of my lane position. I didn’t want him suddenly pulling over and running me off the road. He wandered back and forth, then ahead, then behind, still in the number one lane. What the hell, I was thinking.

He’s wandering. He’s weaving. He doesn’t know where his position should be. He can’t hold steady speed. I didn’t have to tell  myself twice to get the hell out because I know all the signs. I twisted the wick and moved on. Rapidly.

I never saw him again for another two hours or so.

Hula-hoop honey

It was about a thousand miles ago…

She was standing on the median, thumb out. Hitchhiking, obviously. The trouble was, she was on the cross-street median. I wondered if she was an amateur–but only for a split second–because she was doing a dance with a hula-hoop. That got my attention for sure.

No amateur, this.

I rolled up to the gas’n’go. When I pulled out, she had disappeared from the median. Her act got her a ride, I thought, and well-deserved, too. But no, there she was, about a hundred yards down the highway. Her thumb was out and she was calling my name, twirling her hoop and grinning to beat the band as I rode up.

I did what anyone with a spare seat should have done a lot sooner. I hit the binders and stopped. We were headed to the same place. As it turned out, her eyes were bigger than her gear, and there was no possible way that I could strap it and her on board at the same time. Since she wasn’t giving anything up, I high-fived her for ingenuity and went on my way.

Another time.