Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Of dancing dads and conga line accidents

Right. Shoes sorted. Six pairs in good condition off to charity. Replaced by two new pairs in different colours with plenty of straps to stop my feet sliding and rubbing.

But that's not the point of this post. Last Friday I went to my honorary nephew's wedding, a very happy occasion despite rainy weather. It was a garden wedding, and the bride, who looked stunning, insisted on holding the ceremony outside. So we all stood under umbrellas while vows were made and bridesmaids' curls drooped by the minute.

Back inside, a big dance floor invited our attention, and once the DJ had played a couple of songs we didn't know, we heard one or two we did so I dragged my husband onto the dance floor. I love dancing. I'm not fantastic at it, I'd never get a part in Glee, but I think I move around pretty well for an amateur. I don't just stand and shuffle.

My husband, however, does the Dad Dance.

A few years ago I remember reading in a magazine or newspaper colour supplement that once men have sired children they lose some of their ability, in some way, to dance. It's all to do with nature providing males with peacockish tendencies to attract a mate; once the mate has been snared there's no need to put on such a display. Dads dance differently to men who haven't fathered children. Unless they are professional dancers.

Which explains why my husband shuffles, chuffing his arms back and forth, in more or less the same spot. Add a goofy smile and sometimes I have to bite my lips to stop myself from laughing. It's a genuine Dad Dance. The kind of dance my girlfriends and I used to giggle cruelly at when we were in our 20s watching older guys take to the dance floor at weddings or discos.

He's not much chop on the jive or waltz either, but he's my bloke, and at least he gets up and dances with me, unlike some of the other guys at the wedding.

But he's unfit, and I was in the mood to party, so I joined the inevitable conga line while he sat gasping for breath and downing a beer, and that's when things went pear shaped.

The video cameraman was standing at the side of the dance floor - well, actually ON the dance floor, and I was so busy looking ahead and trying to keep in step that I didn't notice him, and tripped on his size tens.

Down I went - thump! - on my knees on the sprung wooden dance floor. Through my dress and tights I managed to take the skin off one knee. Thankfully, that was all it was; like my mum, I 'bounce' and long may it remain so. I picked myself up straight away and boldly rejoined the conga, pretending nothing had happened. I left the conga after a discreet minute and walked carefully back to our table. Ouch!

Fifteen minutes later I had dragged my husband up again as it was a Beatles song, and hey, you gotta dance to the Beatles. Then we had Nutbush City Limits... and....

It wasn't until we got home after midnight and I took a shower that I saw I'd taken a 20 cent coin-sized piece of skin from my left knee, something I hadn't done since primary school. (How to feel young, ladies - skin your knee like a schoolgirl!)

It's still a bit sore and stiff even now but at least it's healing OK. And I have the dubious pleasure of providing a good wedding anecdote on Facebook for my nephew and his lovely bride.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The hell of heels - my summer shoe inventory

I hate my shoes. I have too many of them. I have just done the annual task of sorting out the summer ones and putting the winter ones away and like a coward didn't find any summer ones I could pass on to charity or even just bin - or winter ones come to that.

I'm a hoarder. And I even hoard shoes I don't like or which are uncomfortable because:

  • One day I might wear that pair of brown Bally loafers I bought in 1999, even though they are a little bit tight. They were expensive. 
  • If I throw out that pair of black flat sandals because they hurt my feet, I need to replace them with something similar that doesn't hurt, and finding such a pair in my price bracket will be a challenge
  • Those lime green slide heels with the fake flowers on top kill me, I can't walk in them at all, but hell they are pretty! 
  • Those purple pumps, similar to these, can only be worn if I'm sitting most of the time. I wore them to a Melbourne Cup function and couldn't believe my feet could be in so much pain.

You get the gist. I have now sorted into pairs on my wardrobe floor probably thirty pairs of shoes, knowing that throughout this summer I won't wear most of them, or only wear them once or twice.

And I lust for more. I want a pair of platform sandals which can replace about three pairs of shoes I hate, and a decent, and comfortable, and trendy pair of flat sandals with lots of straps on them which can replace another three.

The trouble is most shoes hurt me. Slides rub back and forth and make the balls of my feet feel like they are on fire. Same with pumps; it's the ball of my foot that screams for mercy.

Pumps or any closed shoes tend to rub the back of my heels/ankle when they are new, too; even a pair of ballet flats from Ziera - supposedly made for comfort -  I bought last month left me with ragged peels of skin and a bloody heel for a week or two.  Thankfully my ballet flats from Bloch fit like a soft glove.

The only pair of heels I have that I can wear for hours are lilac ones by Milana, which I reserve for special occasions as I don't want to wear them to death; they have to last me as Milana no longer makes that style. It means all my evening and posh clothes have to have a purple tinge to them but that's fine by me :-).

If I'm planning a day in town where we're walking around a lot, and catching public transport, and on our feet for six hours, I have to plan my outfit from the ground up. I refuse to wear my trainers for a day in town although they are the most comfortable shoes I own. It looks daggy. Or touristy. Middle aged, especially with a skirt. So I have to select a pair of shoes that won't rub the balls of my feet or give me horrific blisters on the back of my heels.

That leaves me with the choice of ballet flats or FitFlops. In winter, it's flat boots, a no brainer. I love my winter boots. It's the summer shoes that give me grief.

You can only get away with flat shoes and a skirt if you're tall and thin. Think Audrey Hepburn. The rest of us have to struggle to make our calves look a little less like a leg of lamb.

The nature of my work means most of the time I work from home, so my feet have got used to flat shoes and boots most of the time, and in summer none at all or the fab FitFlops. For business meetings, and I have two or three a week, I have to shoehorn myself into something that looks a little bit corporate otherwise I look like a public servant (sorry to any public servants reading this... if anyone reads this at all... but gee some of you dress like you don't care what you look like). Even walking from the car to my main client's office I can get that burning sensation in the ball of my foot with the wrong shoes. So annoying!

Having spent half an hour looking despairingly at my shoe collection - why do I have six pairs of black sandals in various if not similar heel heights? Why?  -  I've now made the decision to find a pair of platforms which will be as comfortable as is possible on me, and the strappy this-year flat sandals, and to chuck at least six pairs, no matter how much they cost in the first place.

Any other people suffering a similar shoe dilemma out there?

And do you feel guilty for having too many shoes when there are so many people who don't have any?

Three hacks later...

It's not just my client sites that have gone berserk this month. A hacker infiltrated my own website and set it up to be a phishing site, sending out thousands of emails to encourage people to click on a fake bank site and key in their username and password.

This was on the 7th. I found out about it when my ISP shut my site down. I changed passwords, deleted what I thought were all the hacker files and thought all would be well.

It happened again on the 10th. I found more files in a different location, got rid of them and got my site reinstated after being closed twice in a week.

Yesterday I got a grumblegram from a major bank asking me to close my site as it was still sending out spam. Once again I delved into the deep recesses of FTP and found the latest, third batch of phishing files as well as, cunningly hidden several folders deep, the nasty little login form Mr Hacker had lodged in my site on the 7th. I copied them all to my hard drive and sent them to the bank at the bank's request in case their IT people could track the bastard down. Now all hacker files are off my server and my password is 23 characters long. I hope that's *it* for now. For ever, actually! I can't afford to lose business and it looks pretty crap if a website designer's site is down because it's been hacked LOL!

What's interesting is this: I checked my FTP logs to see if anyone else had logged into my site. Lo, there was someone on the 7th who'd got in whose IP address wasn't mine. I tracked the IP address to another ISP in Sydney, rang them, told them what had happened and they more or less denied responsibility, not willing to look up the IP address and take any action against the person using it. They did tell me they took security breaches very seriously. So did I, I said back. In the end they suggested someone had hacked into my WordPress site to deposit the files there but I believe it was the bastard who somehow got into my FTP files on the 7th. One of their customers. I'm now checking my logs on a daily basis too.

Has anyone else been hit by the hackers? Do you want to share your story and how you got rid of them?

Friday, November 11, 2011

You can tell it's full moon

The best laid plans of mice and designers occasionally go west. In the case of the mice it's usually a cat, in the case of this designer the full moon seems to bring out the Fuck Up Fairy to tease my clients and me too.

Yesterday I'd planned to have a reasonable day, researching and laying out a newsletter for one client, and also chasing some debtors on their behalf. Far from my favourite job, I hate pestering people for moneys owed, but I'm being paid to do so in this case.

Anyway, it all turned to custard by 9am. I had emails from four clients; two of them wanted urgent updates and changes on their websites, and one who is doing her own update had made a dog's breakfast of her home page. Another sent me a bunch of articles she'd like turned into a newsletter. Only when I sent her the final PDF in the afternoon did she say that her boss actually wanted it as an online version not a PDF. Sigh. See what I mean? I think it's the full moon.

T'other half reckons he can see anger and frustration as a palpable halo around my head, especially as I was finishing the day's work after dinner as I had meetings this morning and needed to catch up on stuff.

Anger is a bad playmate. It can cause heart problems, strokes, and can lead to cancer in the truly angsty and angry. This concerns me as anger and frustration is part of my daily life. I get cross when the phone rings and I get interrupted, I get cross with computers (who doesn't), I get cross with unreasonable clients who keep wanting changes to things they have already agreed on and signed off on, I get cross with idiot drivers who have no spatial awareness (and people in shopping centres with no spatial awareness). I get cross with clients and friends who are very demanding and pull me in a dozen different directions. I just get cross.

I only noticed how uptight I was getting yesterday when I took half an hour off to head to the grocer's and pick up some veg for dinner last night. Away from the desk, the computer and the clients I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. This tells me I need to step back a bit and smell the roses more often. Literally in my case as they are in bloom in my garden.

To cap yesterday off I had a couple of slightly terse text exchanges with a friend last night which left me upset and angry too. Upset enough to wake at 4am this morning and not get back to sleep. Thankfully these were resolved with a phone conversation this morning.

The moon is on the wane today and there's a real difference. I'm not as angry, nobody's website is broken, and I've achieved what I planned to for the day.

Time to take the dog for a walk.

Monday, November 7, 2011

$#%^& computers

Blimey, what a day.

Woke up this morning (just like in a blues song) to find my company's website had been suspended by the web hosts and my email had also ceased to function. A phone call to the host informed me that my site's server had been hacked and was being used to send spam. Apparently people now think I'm a Libyan trying to persuade them to hand over their bank account details. Thankfully my hosting service, with whom I've had my site for seven years, believed me when I said I wasn't so all was back online by 9.30am. Not an auspicious start to the working week though.

I then decided in my wisdom that I'd update my iPad to the latest iOS, with iCloud and other goodies. Oh, and I'd activate iCloud on the MacBook Pro too. How hard could that be? Everything Apple usually works a treat.

Not this time. I couldn't sign in to iCloud with my Apple ID. Frustrated, I went to my Apple ID page on the Apple site and all was well. I changed my password. That didn't help. I changed it again. That didn't help either. Loathe to change it for a fourth time, as there are only so many passwords I can remember on the fly, I phoned Apple.

Apple support is great. It's actually located in Australia so you talk to an Aussie who understands you and you can understand them too, unlike many of the call centre people I deal with.

Turns out I mysteriously have created, unbeknown to myself, a second Apple ID account. No idea how that happened but it could be iTunes related. I have an Apple ID for my Mac, and as far as I know used the same one when I set up iTunes. Not a problem, said my friendly Apple man, we'll just change the email address of one of them, verify the email address of the other, and we'll use number two as your ID for everything. Ha!  Easier said than done. I didn't get the verification email. Or the second one we tried to send either. I'm now waiting for iTunes support to contact me. I only hope I can still access all my i-stuff in the meantime.

I'm already having a bad day in a way as I have to attend a networking function tonight with 95 people and my sociophobia is kicking in. I run these events for a Chamber of Commerce on a monthly basis and inevitably feel depressed on the first Monday of every month as a result. I'm the last person who should be running these events but it brings an income in. On the plus side my screaming frustration at all things electronic has kept the depression at bay (probably at the expense of my blood pressure).

I'd much rather just jump on one of my bikes and go for a ride. Fat chance though, having lost two hours to call centres and fixing problems there's a healthy backlog to get through before I head out the door to my function. I hope the gods who manage the interweb look down more kindly on me tomorrow.

What is it with blokes and drawers?

Aha, if you were thinking the Victorian connotation of drawers - items of ladies' underwear - you'd be wrong. Although in that context the title of this post makes sense. Blokes are generally interested into getting into ladies' drawers!
But in this case, I have a bloke who gets into my drawers and doesn't close them properly. (The chest-of-drawers, cutlery-drawer, bathroom-cabinet-drawer type of drawer, that is.)
And it bugs me.
Drawers left a centimetre or two open look untidy; how hard can it be to push a drawer firmly shut? I'm forever shutting the bathroom drawers and the bottom drawer on my dressing table which I've donated to T'Other to store his socks and jocks in.
The worst culprit is the gorgeous big old antique chest of drawers T'Other brought to the household with him. The drawers are heavy and unlike modern drawers don't slide on rails. You have to lift and push. I can always tell when he's opened a drawer in the antique tallboy to look for something as it's never shut properly afterwards. The heavier, bigger drawers in the cabinet need the help of a knee to close. It's usually my knee. He just leaves them open a bit.
I've mentioned it once or twice but don't want to sound like a petty nagger. There are more, far more, important things in life than drawers left untidily ajar.
But it still irks me. How hard can it be to push a drawer closed?