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Q is for quick

Posted: April 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013 | Comments Off on Q is for quick

Quick — if you use WordPress on your own website and you have a username “admin,” you’ll want to create a new admin account with a completely different name, then delete that old admin account. Especially if you don’t use strong passwords.

Apparently there have been a number of botnet attacks on sites pairing the username “admin” with random passwords. This actually isn’t new, but a recent attack has an enormous botnet working at it, and the chances of your site getting hacked are higher because of it. Changing your admin login is a simple way to opt yourself out of this attack.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Log in to your admin account.
  2. Under Users, create a new user with a different name, preferably one that has some caps and numbers in it. Hackers need both a username and a password to attack; by making both hard to guess, you make it that much less likely you’ll be hacked. Also, you’ll have to slug an alternate email address in for that user, since WordPress won’t let you give two users the same email address. You can change this back later.
  3. Give that user administrative privileges.
  4. Give that user a strong password.
  5. Write that username and password down. Better yet, put it in your password manager program (I highly recommend 1Password for Mac users).
  6. Log out.
  7. Log in under the new username and password.
  8. Go to Users and delete the old admin account. It will ask you to assign posts made under that old account to another account. Generally, you want to choose the one you just created.
  9. If you care, go to your profile and change the email on the username back to the one you used before.
  10. Have fun blogging!

(If you use, you don’t need to worry about this, since you shouldn’t have an account named admin; you blog there under a username unique to the domain.)

I did this yesterday for the seven sites I have that run WordPress and had an admin account, and it took just a couple of minutes per site, once I got the hang of what I was doing. Two of the sites showed a couple of admin accounts that I don’t recall creating (“admin” + a number; I very well might have created them back in the Dark Ages, when I first started using WordPress, though), so I deleted those accounts, too, just to be safe. I went through all of the folders on those sites to check for unusual files and didn’t see anything, so I think I’m good for now. If indeed I didn’t create them, it looks like whoever did was only setting up, not actively doing anything yet.

This weekend I will also start the process of changing passwords on all of my web accounts. Huge PITA, but necessary to do once in a while.


Posted: April 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013 | Comments Off on L-M-N-O-P

Totally cheating on the post-a-day thing here, but life outside the electronic box has stepped in and said “hey, pay some attention to me” over the past couple of days, so there went that. And that’s absolutely okay.

L is for luxury, M is for money, N is for new, O is for “ottomobile,” and P is for perfect. That wraps up the last week of buying a new car on a more accelerated schedule that we had originally planned.



My old Saturn was starting to have problems more regularly, and I was getting sick of not having a reliable car. So, we started car shopping last Sunday, rather than waiting until summer, as we had originally planned.

I knew going in that I wanted a small SUV. I hadn’t shopped for a car for fourteen years or so, and, sadly, Saturn no longer exists, so I wanted to drive a bunch of things to see what’s out there. From looks alone, I liked the Toyota RAV4, the Subaru Forester, and the Hyundai Tucson, and I wanted to shop a lot of what was in that class.

Last Saturday was about Internet research, reading reviews and doing comparisons. I knocked the Hyundai out based on a few reviews, and also based on a bit of lingering leeriness of Korean cars. Sunday morning, I had it narrowed down to the Honda CRV (even though I think the new ones are kind of ugly), the RAV4, and the Forester, with a few backups for round 2, if it came to that.

I drove the CRV first, and I thought it was fine. It has a nice backup camera, and the interior is thoughtfully laid out. John didn’t like the ride at all, though, and it was still ugly.

The RAV4 was second, and I really liked it.

Subaru wasn’t open on Sunday, so I had to wait until Tuesday to test drive the Forester. And I ended up really liking it, too.

At that point I had two solid choices, either of which I would be perfectly happy with, and thus decided I didn’t need to drive anything else.

I went back to both Subaru and Toyota on Wednesday and drove both again to compare them back to back and get a few questions answered. Each had a few pros and cons. The Subaru had a smaller video screen, but it was positioned better under an overhang to minimize glare. The Toyota offered Sirius/XM standard, whereas to get it on the Subaru, you had to get the navigation package (which I wasn’t interested in). Although the measurements were about the same, the Subaru felt more spacious and like it had more visibility. The Toyota offered a blind spot monitor. The Toyota salesman was much less salesman-y and worked for a dealership with a better reputation.

In the end, the Subaru won by a hair, and we went back on Saturday to make a deal. Four hours later, including a few moments when we almost walked out, I had a new car. I wasn’t actually expecting to drive one home that day, not only because of the craziness of dealmaking, but also because these new Foresters are in demand and I didn’t think they’d have one with the things I wanted on the lot, but there it was. The only thing on my wish list I did without was the Homelink garage door opener. I solved that by ordering a much smaller replacement remote opener than the current one (which doesn’t fit well anywhere in the new car).

While the car shopping process sucks, and I don’t want to do it again anytime soon, I’m quite pleased with what I ended up with.


K is for karma

Posted: April 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013, life | 2 Comments »

While I’m not a religious person, I do believe in a kind of karma, in that the kind of energy you put out into the world is what tends to come back to you. Maybe not all the time, and maybe not right away, but usually and eventually.

I don’t think there’s any old white guy hanging up there in the sky, or any giant spreadsheet keeping score, tit-for-tat style. I don’t know what the mechanism is, or even if there has to be a mechanism at all.

If you’re kind to others and treat them well, overall people tend to be kind to you and treat you well.

J is for junk

Posted: April 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013, life | Comments Off on J is for junk

Junk tends to creep up on me. I keep little bits and bobs of things, knowing that they might someday be useful, kind of a like a refugee from the Great Depression born fifty years too late. It doesn’t help that I have an affection for found-object art and aspire to one day make something that doesn’t look merely like a bunch of stuff attached to other stuff, but is cohesive and feels like it has a deeper meaning.

Junk isn’t always useful, though. Sometimes it’s just being too lazy to make a decision about something, or getting around to actually disposing of it properly. A recent mouse incident in our garage ended with me spending half a day sorting out one specific corner of the garage that had become a catch-all for indecision.

That corner houses, among other things, my show supplies, which tend to end up and stay in a random pile when I unpack after a show, and which themselves need a thorough sorting out and purge once the weather gets a little nicer. I need to add a to-do to my show project list that includes sorting through them a few days later and putting them back where they belong, rather than wherever is most convenient.

I had been saving wine bottles for an artsy friend who uses them, but she twice cancelled pick-up dates and in the meantime they had grown cobwebs and dust and who knows what all, so into the recycle bin they went. Lots of broken-down cardboard boxes ended up there, too.

There were boxes of things to take to Goodwill, a couple of stray tools, paintbrushes that didn’t get put back into the painting things box, and the like.

(I am absolutely terrible when things are piled in front of other things. It’s the kiss of death for ever putting anything away.)

I was able to get that corner sorted out, but have several more to go. I’m looking forward to having my nephew’s help as soon as the weather cooperates and we can take absolutely everything out, clean, and put it all back in a way that makes sense.

I is for Internet

Posted: April 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013 | 1 Comment »

It amazes me how quickly the Internet has become so ingrained into my everyday life. I was an early tech adopter — first exposure to email in 1990, first home computer in 1993 — and am now full spectrum with laptop, iPhone, and iPad. My Google-fu is strong. People will call me to ask me to look something up for them because they know I’ll find it much more quickly than they will.

I love living in this age of abundant information. Sure, it can be overwhelming sometimes, but I’d rather have too much info than not enough. I’m buying a new car this week, and I can’t imagine ever doing this this old-fashioned way again. It was easy to find info from not only car maker’s sites but also third party reviewers and forums for drivers. I was able to go into each dealership with a good sense of what I wanted to look at and what each model included, saving everyone time.

I keep my iPad in the family room, and I often look up info on whatever we’re watching on IMDB, or if I’m not actively watching whatever is on the TV, I’m reading the New York Times or catching up on blogs via Newsify or otherwise paddling around in the Internet waters.

Viva la Internet!

H is for Hawaii

Posted: April 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013, life | Comments Off on H is for Hawaii

Hawaii was my home for almost six years. I had an opportunity to move there just before I turned thirty, and I took it.



For the first four years, I lived about ten blocks up from the shore. I could walk to the closest beach in twenty minutes or bike there in five, and did so a few times a week. I got to know a bunch of the beaches along the Waikiki shore, and once I got a car and was a little more mobile, I visited beaches all over the island regularly.

I worked at a bookstore for the first two years I was there and thus had a retail schedule, so I had a few daytimes free to put my toes in the sand. Once I got my job at the press and had a more “regular” schedule, I might head down for a little bit after work, but my biggest chunk of beach time was on the weekends. I’d usually be headed out by eight in the morning with my book and my chair and my towel. I’d alternate reading with dozing and dipping into the ocean to cool off. By eleven, it was usually starting to get too hot, so I’d pack up and head to Big City Diner for breakfast, back when it was a new little hole in the wall on Waialae Avenue, or grab a smoothie on the way home.

I’d while away the midday running errands or reading a book, then usually head back to the beach late in the afternoon to watch the sunset.

This photo was taken at my favorite weekend beach, Queen’s Beach at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki’s main drag, across from the zoo. Once I moved up into the valley, it was the easiest beach to get to, since there’s a big parking lot and lots of street parking nearby. But it’s also a lovely spot, with beautiful sand and great views. It’s near to the action of Waikiki, but just enough on the edge that it’s not so crowded. It’s a great boogie boarding spot, and this particular afternoon there were a bunch of kids out there boarding.

Other than my friends, the biggest thing I miss about Hawaii is the perfect weather nearly year round. I’m close to a beach here, just a little more than two miles up the road, but I don’t make it there nearly as often as I could during the three months or so it’s nice enough to spend time there. I think it’s a matter of habit; because it’s not something I do regularly through the year, I get out of the habit, and by the time I start to get into the groove of going, the summer is almost over and I regret not spending enough time there as I could have. I’m hoping to change that this year.

G is for garden

Posted: April 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013, life | 2 Comments »

Gardening is one of my great joys. My mom was always a gardener, and I must have picked it up from her, although I wasn’t always very good about helping her in the yard when I was younger.



I started with the one postcollege rental house I had on California Avenue in Columbus; the backyard was pretty scruffy, so I turned part of it into a vegetable garden. I grew carrots and beans and peppers, among other things I don’t remember now. In Honolulu, I turned part of both yards there into herb gardens with some flowers.

I started going really crazy with the first house I bought when I moved back to Ohio; I enlarged beds and created new ones, and in the almost five years I was in that house, the gardens filled out quite nicely.

In this house, we have even more gardening space, although much of it is shady, which is different from what I’m used to, and we have tons of deer and chipmunks and other hungry critters, which I haven’t had to deal with much before. It takes a lot of experimenting to find out what they will usually leave alone (lavender, iris, peonies, hellebores, trailing arbutus, creeping thyme, daffodils, tall daisies, coreopsis, lariope, bee balm, lamb’s ear) and what won’t last much more than a day (tulips, crocus, little daisies, solomon’s seal, and a million other attempts).

The photo above is one of my hellebores, the first one to bloom this year, and they’re quickly becoming favorites. I ordered some last year from a mail order place, but they were quite small and will take several years to get up to the size I want them to be, so I decided this year I would simply buy fewer but bigger ones to help fill in the garden outside my office window. I love full gardens, plants that flow together in a natural-looking way, rather than single plants spaced out with open ground between them.

In the summer, I usually spend the equivalent of a full day each week working in the gardens, although that’s usually spread out over the entire week. It’s probably a little more than that earlier in the year too, with mulching and planting and all that.

Do you have a garden?

Have you found something lovely the deer mostly leave alone? 

Do you prefer full, cottage-like garens, or more formal, spaced out gardens? 

F is for Fiona

Posted: April 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013, life | Comments Off on F is for Fiona


Fiona is my sweetie pie snuggle kitty. She’s about eleven years old, and quite petite. My niece and nephew helped me pick her out from Berea Animal Rescue just a couple of months after I moved back to Cleveland. I wrote about her adoption story in one of the entries I wrote for Cat Lover’s Daily Companion.

Fiona likes to sit on my lap while I’m working, and she especially loves to sleep on me when I sleep. She’s a big fan of napping in the sun and running around playing with her invisible friends. Unfortunately, she’s not terribly friendly with our other cats; nearly seven years after combining our households and our cats, she still hisses at them and won’t let either of them get too close for too long. Otherwise, she’s very friendly and a great companion.

Fiona has her own profile over on, and has been held her own against some awfully cute cats.

E is for editing

Posted: April 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013, life | Comments Off on E is for editing

Editing is the main thing I do for a living. (Overall, I spend probably four-fifths of my work time editing, and the other fifth on my creative business, Cleveland Handmade, and other projects.) My clients are mostly publishers, large and small and in between, although I do work for individual authors, too. I work mostly on books and journals, and my projects these days are a nice balance of trade nonfiction, academic nonfiction, and fiction. I work on all kinds of subjects, but seem to called again and again to work on memoirs.


Although I’ve worked on books by some big names most everyone reading this would recognize, I almost never have any direct dealings with them. I did, however, receive a very nice personal note from Heather Donahue, author of Growgirl and actor in The Blair Witch Project, who tracked down me down to thank me for my work. That was especially nice, since it remains one of my favorites of the projects I’ve worked on, and I love her way with language.

I work out of my home office most of the time, although I have been known to decamp to Erie Island in Rocky River or Panera or Starbucks when I need a change of scenery or to be out among the people and I have some work that lends itself to the noisier atmosphere. In the summer, I often work outside on the front porch or back patio.

I am grateful for the success of my freelance business, which lets me make my own schedule and do my work in the way I do it best.


D is for Dovecote

Posted: April 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013, life | Comments Off on D is for Dovecote

I’m pleased to announce that I have been invited to join Dovecote Work/Display in the Screw Factory at Templar Industrial Park in Lakewood, Ohio. This spring I’ll be joining Kathy Patton, Teresa Crompton, and Sarah Darby in their awesome studio and gallery space up on the third floor of this converted factory — just in time for the Screw Factory Artists Open Studios event on May 4.


While I will continue to maintain my main studio at home, having a share in this space will give me a place to work on more elaborate projects and offer classes on my own, as well as be a permanent gallery home for my work. Cleveland Handmade will also be able to use the space for gatherings and events.

Spring Open Studios will be on May 4 from noon until 7 p.m., and I will have most of my current work there on that day. However, I’m taking a workshop that day over at Small Studio in Westlake (join me?), so I won’t be over at the Screw Factory until the very end.

Thank you, Kathy, Teresa, and Sarah, for asking me to join you.