Archive for February, 2008

Theatre Mom

This has been my week to be a theatre mom. I’m a really sad sort of theatre mom, I’m not allowed to actually enter said theatre nor actually watch, just provide transportation. That tends to chew up the evening!

Eldest smug son Ben auditioned for a community theatre production of The Secret Garden on Tuesday. (Many thanks to MWT who recommended it – we love the music and are looking forward to the show.)

He immediately made it into the ensemble – the chorus of ghosts who sing throughout the show. He also was called back on Thursday to audition for a cast part. He had come down with a cold, hurting his singing range, but still won a minor supporting cast part.

He’s pretty excited, and so are we. Performances are in May.

In other updates, I’m still working on redesigning the graphic part of this site, although I may still use this basic template. All my concepts so far have not been successful.

Posted on Friday, February 29th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: entertainment, family | 4 Comments »

Working on Site

Please pay no attention to strange happenings on the look/feel of this site. I’m updating my theme and upgrading my WP system to try to resolve the site errors. The first update, re applying the theme, fixed some errors but hosed my CSS, which is thank goodness fixable. Thanks, all, who emailed or messaged me with suggestions!

Update: All work is done… at least for now. Note to self: do all site & platform upgrades FIRST before messing w/ the CSS file… because you’ll very likely have to do them all over again after such major changes. If you see any glitches in any platform, please let me know!

Update again: This has just reverted to all caps again, no formatting. Doggone it! My work is NOT done.

Update the third: My old theme seems to be really broken. I’m going to try scrapping it and customizing this one… please be patient, it’ll be kind of plain while I work on the graphics side of things.

Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: technology | 8 Comments »

PHP Help Needed

I came back from my trip to find a semi-broken blog. Can anyone help me with PHP? My PHP skills are limited to cookbooking trial and error, and I have been unable to spot the issue.

When I click on a category page, I get this error:

Parse error: parse error, unexpected ‘?’ in /home/content/s/q/m/XXXXX/html/wp-content/themes/xmark-101/category.php on line 44

Monthly archive pages do work.

When I try to use the search box I get this error:

Parse error: parse error, unexpected $, expecting ‘)’ in /home/content/s/q/m/XXXXX/html/wp-content/themes/xmark-101/search.php on line 48

And when I surf to a page (not a post) like my about page, the page resolves the content but not the sidebars and footer, giving me the following message in lieu of the footer:

Parse error: parse error, unexpected $ in /home/content/s/q/m/XXXXX/html/wp-content/themes/xmark-101/comments.php on line 331

Please note that I’ve removed my actual FTP UID information from the file path; I can provide that privately upon request.

My browsers are Firefox for Mac (primary) or Safari 3.0.4 for Mac, and the errors are the same for either. My site runs on self-hosted WordPress 2.1. The last site config change I made was installation of the email subscription to comments module – I tried deactivating that and it didn’t resolve these problems.

So, any PHP gurus out there that can help – I’d be in your debt! Thanks.

Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: technology | Comments Off


The other day, over on Nathan’s blog, I got sidetracked on the subject of making lists.

I am a bit OCD about lists. There are so many things that really should have a list, and so many great ways to make them! Of course, because of the subject of this post, I’ll list them for you using that wonderful html [ul] tag.

  • Packing lists
  • Grocery lists
  • Honey-do lists
  • Errand lists
  • Housekeeping lists
  • Ingredient lists
  • Blog or fiction idea lists
  • Brainstorming lists
  • School supply (or clothes) lists
  • Lists of instructions, e.g. for a computer upgrade
  • Feature lists (e.g. house or car shopping)
  • Things to look for in a mate (or date) lists

One of the things I like best about list-making is the opportunity for advanced lists. Why limit yourself to pen and notepad when you have Excel? Outlook tasks? MS Project for the really big things?

With those you can sort, organize by priority, schedule and even, in MS Project, assign resources and costs.

For example, when shopping for a new car, you could just list that you want better than 30mpg, comfortable front and rear seating, a hatchback, good cargo space, fun to drive, and under $20K. You could then use that list in Excel to compare the cars you like, giving higher scores to those that best meet each of the criteria on your list.

Yeah, I’m a little nutty. My husband has threatened to uninstall Excel from my home computer. (Over my dead body!)

Are you a listmaker?

Posted on Monday, February 18th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: technology, writing | 8 Comments »

Viva Las Vegas?

Ben and Zach as Pharaohs

Bryan and I usually make it to Las Vegas every couple of years. I enjoy it for the sights, sounds, shows and people watching, and Bryan also does a little bit of low-stakes gambling. This trip has been strangely disillusioning though — here are my lessons learned.

Airplanes headed to Las Vegas have many fewer babies/toddlers per plane than the average flight. However, they have many more shrill, profane, loud, drunken idiots, so the making-me-crazy factor is pretty similar.

Las Vegas has major lines for everything – it’s like queuing up at Disneyland, except with cigarette smoke and no actual ride. Waiting for a taxi at the airport – 100 people, 30 min wait. Check-in at the hotel (at 11:30pm!) – 35 people, 20 min wait. Coffee shop at the casino – 25 people, 20 min wait. Unsurprisingly, the fine art gallery at the Bellagio, with a show on American Modernism – no line, no waiting.

Customer service, too, has been pretty lackadaisical. Lines backing out the door? People getting cranky? Please, feel free to gossip among yourselves before actually assisting a customer. One of my pet peeves is the taxi driver who won’t put down his cell phone, and we got one of those – bluetooth receiver in his ear, ranting, raving and gesturing with his hands in some African language. We did have superb service at the Luxor Steakhouse for our Valentine’s Day dinner, but we paid a premium for that privilege.

Whatever happened to cheap Vegas? You know, the town where you could find inexpensive rooms and meals because gambling paid all the bills? The casinos have learned to charge what the market will bear; nothing is a bargain anymore. Rooms are $99 a night at the traditionally ‘cheap’ hotels like Luxor, Treasure Island, Circus Circus, and Stratosphere, and speaking of stratosphere, the luxury casinos like Bellagio, Venetian and Mandalay Bay are outrageously expensive. The nickel-and-dime charges are huge – $30/night per extra person, and $13 per laptop per day for Internet (more later on that).

The smug sons have only been once before, and they have a blast because it’s such a sensory overload. Today the weather was fabulous – and more warm sun is predicted for tomorrow – so we tracked down a couple of swimsuits so they could spend the afternoon the pool. They love buffets as only a teenage boy can, and many hours at the arcades and amusement parks as well. The photo of them is of their new, post-arcade-win gig as Pharaohs Homenthotep and Hootenpooten.

I’m an anomaly here – I don’t gamble. I’m just not wired for it, it feels no different to me than shoving money down a garbage disposal. I’d rather take that amount of money and spend it on something I do enjoy – a spa day, a clothes shopping spree, or a great show.

As a matter of fact, we are disillusioned enough this trip (or maybe that would be broke?) that we’re checking out early and taking a side trip to the Grand Canyon for a couple of days. I haven’t been since I was very young, and it’s long been on my ‘places to visit’ list. We’ll be back on Tuesday night for Ben’s extravaganza evening at the Phantom of the Opera.

Planning that side trip would be why I sprung for the overpriced Internet connection (how did I ever manage to travel without the Internet?). I got the side bonus of blogging time too!

Posted on Saturday, February 16th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: family, travel | 5 Comments »