LoriB.me

Rambling On…

Some Flashbacks Are Good — 04/16/2019

Some Flashbacks Are Good

Last Monday, I needed to take a break from work because my brain stopped cooperating so I went outside to clear my head. Somehow I ended up at the inner harbor. Must have been on autopilot. It was a nice surprise. If I had been planning to go there, I would have taken the free bus, but if I had a plan, I probably would have gotten too confused and never even left the house.

When I got to the water, my brain came back to me. It was all over the place, but not in a bad way like it was when I was still trying (and failing) to work. I was having flashbacks to before we moved to Baltimore and I lost my SSI. I used to go to the water all the time. It always makes me feel better. It made me remember that there was a time when things weren’t so hard all the time. It gave me a hope that there can be a time like that again.

I am not sure how to swing that reality, but have a few ideas that might help. Karen has been helping me figure out the process of getting SSDI. Not sure if I will be able to get it, and if I can, it seems like it will take a very long time — like a couple of years. The whole process confuses me terribly and there is no way I could even be trying without K’s help.

I am also still trying to change my business into more of a recurring revenue model so I will be less dependent on project work. Long projects are the things that often end up driving me crazy and making my life miserable. It is almost always due to things that are out of my control, like waiting on other people for content, outsourced work, etc. Even when things are timelined in my contract, I have no real way to enforce it when people do not meet their deadlines. If the person not meeting the deadline is someone that I have outsourced work to, then I end up not meeting my deadline with my client. That rarely happens, but it stresses me out more than just about any other work related thing.

I pride myself on my customer service. I like to explain technical things to non-technical people, and to go the extra mile to give my customers more than they expected because I know it will make them happy. I have customers that have been with me for many years for those reasons, and I would like to structure my business to do more of that type of work, along with offering new services to bring in more customers with monthly or annual service plans, as opposed to one-time project fees.

It appears as though my forever wish of having a business partner might come true. I don’t want to speak too soon, or name any names before I am sure that it is ok to speak about it publicly, but I am very excited to finally have help figuring these things out. Gives me hope that this could actually work, and that someday I will be able to make enough money to not always have to be worrying about money. Enough to be able to go to the water if I need to before my brain stops working instead of after, or to take some time off, or any of the other comforts that having enough money to not have to worry about money brings.

It is nice to have hope again. For a while, I was losing it. Not enough to make me stop trying, but enough to make me think about giving up. If I had any sort of alternative to giving up, maybe I would have, but I do not. Trying is what I do. Maybe it is what everybody does. Still, it would be nice to have a break from trying so hard all the time. A break to go somewhere nice with Karen for a few days. A break to go to the water and see some ducks or to go to Florida to see my family. It was nice to have a break like that last week. Next month I will see my family ūüôā

Gutenberg Broke My Metabox — 03/26/2019

Gutenberg Broke My Metabox

I am trying to love Gutenberg (the new WordPress editor). In theory, I think it is something that is badly needed by WordPress and something that will make content editing easier for the millions of people who use it — eventually. In practice, it feels incomplete and I am finding it frustrating to use. To be fair, I also found the classic editor (TinyMCE) to be frustrating, and sometimes end up using the text/html editor to write even simple content.

The other day, Sharon and I were rebuilding the AWN website, and noticed that a custom metabox that we use for entering article authors was missing.

Luckily, it was easy to figure out that the missing metabox was caused by the update to Gutenberg and not by the site redesign because all of the metaboxes on custom content types that are not using Gutenberg were working, and they were added by the same plugin that handles all of the custom content functions for the site.

The problem was caused by Gutenberg not being compatible with metaboxes that rely on selectors that target the post title, and the author field was below the post title field. I moved the author field below the post editor to fix the issue, but not without grumbling a little bit about having to place it there instead of where it makes more sense, below the article title in the same place that it appears on the article.

Common Compatibility Issues

Most PHP meta boxes should continue to work in Gutenberg, but some meta boxes that include advanced functionality could break. Here are some common reasons why meta boxes might not work as expected in Gutenberg:

  • Plugins relying on selectors that target the post title, post content fields, and other metaboxes (of the old editor).
  • Plugins relying on TinyMCE‚Äôs API because there‚Äôs no longer a single TinyMCE instance to talk to in Gutenberg.
  • Plugins making updates to their DOM on ‚Äúsubmit‚ÄĚ or on ‚Äúsave‚ÄĚ.

Gutenberg HandbookCommon Compatibility Issues

Thank you to the authors of the Gutenberg Handbook for helping me to troubleshoot the issue so quickly!

10 Years of Gravatars — 12/12/2018
PSA: Do Not Use camelCase for WordPress Shortcode Attribute Names — 11/05/2018

PSA: Do Not Use camelCase for WordPress Shortcode Attribute Names

I just wasted nearly an hour troubleshooting a shortcode for a project because I did not know that WordPress shortcode attributes are passed through PHP’s strtolower() function (view source).

I rarely use camelCase in PHP, and am also not a huge fan of shortcodes, so have easily managed to get through 15 years of developing WordPress sites without this issue ever popping up.

The use case of the shortcode I was building is to allow the user to display a HubSpot form inside of a WordPress post or page by providing a couple of required attributes, and optionally some additional attributes. The shortcode attributes directly correlate to the HubSpot form parameters. HubSpot forms use camel case for the parameter names, and I matched the shortcode attribute names to the HubSpot form parameter names without thinking much about it. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to figure out why the forms would only display using the default parameters and were ignoring the user provided parameters.

Of course, it turns out that the user parameters were being ignored because they no longer matched the expected attribute names after being converted to lowercase by the aforementioned strtolower() function.

Don’t be like me. Use lowercase/snake_case attribute names in the shortcode_atts() array.

Sad Robot — 05/01/2018

Sad Robot

I am in a bad place. Not the worst place by far, but it keeps getting worse. My brain is starting to shut down and it is getting harder to come back. It happens whenever there are too many things. It has always happened, and no matter what kinds of medicines I take, or therapy I do, I am pretty sure that there is nothing that can stop it. Except for the obvious, which is to not have too many things. I don’t think that is possible. Life is things.

Sometimes, writing helps to sort out the things. I have not written here much in a while, but have many spreadsheets and Evernote notes filled with attempts at making order out of the things. Somehow, my attempts at figuring this out have led to more things, such as working with the Maryland DORS to get help finding a job working for someone else instead of myself. I don’t know if I even want that, or would be able to do it if given the chance, and going through this process is stressing me out. I am pretty attached to my business, even though it drives me crazy.

I want a business partner. I can’t seem to give up that idea even though I can not figure out how to make it happen. It is a miracle that I make money each year. It is not much, and no matter how much better I get at making estimates and charging the right amount of money, I still end up working all the time for very little in return.

Sometimes, I think finding a few other people and starting an agency would be better than finding a single partner, but that is even more confusing. I have no idea how to make that work. There are so many details — the same details that I already can not figure out in my own business, only more so.

I am a coder, and when necessary, a designer, but a web business needs more than that. Thankfully Karen helps me with billing. Having a project manager on retainer has also helped a lot, but it is very hard for me to be organized enough to even give the PM what she needs to be able to organize my projects. I would not need to do that if I worked with other people. We would all do what we were skilled at.

I am so tired of trying to do all the things all the time. It is wearing me down and it makes me tired and it is hard to sleep and I dread the next day. Stupid money.

I don’t know what to do. There are too many things and I have a ton of work to do and I can’t think. I need to send estimates for projects, and do research for other projects, and work on my current projects. I spent half the day working and then had to escape. Went to the PO Box to check for checks. It was empty, but it was nice to take a walk and listen to my new favorite podcast of the moment for a while. Now I should work again, but I am here rambling. That is what I come here to do.

I will stop rambling for now. Some things are good. Awesome even. Karen and the cats and my family They are the best, and they make me very happy, and I am lucky to have them all!

Working While Autistic — 04/13/2017

Working While Autistic

Working is hard. I think it is hard for most people because it is something you have to do for so many hours of your life. Some jobs are harder than others, but having to put so much time and energy into something can become onerous under the best of circumstances.

In many ways, my job is easy. I like what I do. I enjoy learning the latest technologies¬†and solving problems with logic. I work from home. If all was “right” with my brain, I think that I would probably be making a lot of money working for someone else right now.

All is not right with my brain. I am autistic. I don’t want to get into an argument here about how my brain is just “different” or how the world should be accommodating to my needs.¬†I¬†believe that those things are true, but they are not factors in my continuing quest to live a happy life without being a burden on anyone.

Somewhere, there exists a perfect balance between doing enough responsible things that I feel like I am contributing something to the world and to the people I love, and having enough downtime to stay sane and recover enough energy to do more of those things. That balance is hard for everyone, but I think it can be especially hard for autistic people.

I am easily overwhelmed. Too many sounds, lights, colors, thoughts, people, feelings, or whatevers can drastically shift the balance and render me completely useless so that thinking and speaking sometimes become insurmountable tasks.

There was a brief period of time where I had everything pretty well aligned. I was living in California, taking meds that worked pretty well, was on SSI and working as a part of their PASS plan. My monthly SSI check was less, the more money I made that month, and if I made over a certain amount of money, I would¬†not receive a check at all, but still got to keep my Medi-Cal benefits (health insurance). I could work as much as I could handle¬†and I could ‘not work’ as much as I needed to.

When Karen and I moved to Baltimore, I lost my SSI because we no longer lived in our house, so it was considered an asset. Now, we no longer have a house, but we are married and I no longer qualify for SSI for that reason due to income.

I wish I could get SSI again. We are having a hard time financially and I am having a hard time working as much as I need to. I am having a hard time working at all lately because I can not do what I need to do in order to be okay enough to work, partially because of the stress that comes from needing to work. It is a vicious cycle.

I try to work, but I can’t think. I know that if I went to the water or did something else that makes me calm, I would be able to think clearer, but I feel like I should not be taking time off work to do that. Eventually, it occurs to me that since I am not working anyway, I may as well do something that will make me feel better, but I am so confused and stressed by the whole process that I can’t get my brain organized enough to leave the house. If you are a person who¬†can think without problems, you may never notice the amount of steps required for a simple act like leaving the house. You have to stop what you are doing. You have to remember what you want to do. You may have to put on your shoes or your coat. You have to go to the door and open it and lock it back up, all while remembering where you are going and how to get there. You may have to drive or take public transportation.¬†Forget about it. You can’t.

When I was on SSI none of that was an issue. I didn’t need to worry about not working enough because I was covered if I didn’t. Now, the less I work, the less money I make, and it has a direct impact on my and Karen’s quality of life. I have marketable skills and I work way more hours than I should need to in order to make a living wage, but since it takes me so long to get things done, and since I can not work a “normal” job, I barely make enough to supplement Karen’s income enough for us to pay our basic living expenses. I am lucky that we both have family who help us sometimes so that we can have a pretty good life, but constantly trying and failing to make my business work in a way that would allow us to stop worrying about money is wearing on me. I am exhausted and sad and ashamed and unable to do anything right now other than whine about it to the internet. You’re welcome ūüėČ

50 Random Thoughts On or About Turning Fifty — 02/17/2017

50 Random Thoughts On or About Turning Fifty

I turned 50¬†on January 28th. It was a pretty exciting birthday for me. For a person who didn’t think they would make it to eighteen, 50 years old feels like an achievement. 18¬†seemed like one too, but more like one that was achieved by luck. 50 took a lot more work.

In honor and remembrance of my 50th year on this planet, I would like to list 50 random thoughts that have been jumbling around in my head…

  1. 50 is the age that I consider to be “officially old‚ĄĘ”. I am okay with that. Being 50 is a privilege and rite¬†of passage.
  2. When I was younger, I was very unhappy, but also very lucky. I have a family who loves me and has always  taken care of me the best that they could. It is thanks to them and other kind souls that have befriended me over the years that I am still here to write this post.
  3. Over the years, I have managed to make a few very close friends and to become closer to my family.
  4. Being with Karen has been an adventure in love and life that provides joy and hope even at the hardest times.
  5. Life has been extra challenging since we moved to Baltimore 6 years ago and I do not see an end to that any time soon.
  6. My day to day life is kind of lonely and I have not made many close friends here.
  7. I am not good at having friends, and not completely sure how I have managed to make such good ones over the years.
  8. It is hard for me to be with people and in crowds, and hard to concentrate well enough to keep up with conversations. It drains me until my brain completely shuts down.
  9. Running my business is a challenge and I work way too many hours for way too little pay.
  10. I am good at my job and I am bad at running a business. Still, I keep trying year after year and make enough money¬†that it would be badly missed if I didn’t have it, but is barely above the poverty level and much less than it would be if I was working with or for somebody who knew how to manage a business.
  11. I am still hoping to find my “magic business partner” ¬†or employer someday.
  12. Even with all the challenges, life has been good to me in so many ways and I am very thankful for that.
  13. I am glad we are here to help K’s parents.
  14. I love Baltimore and many of the people I have met here.
  15. I love being with Karen and Nikkyo and Buster (cats) and living in our awesome apartment (Thanks Lisa!).
  16. I love my karate school, and sometimes wish I could just do karate all the time.
  17. I wish Karen and I had enough time and money to get out of town once in a while.
  18. I wish we had enough money¬†to not stress about it so much.¬†Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can relieve stress¬†and less stress can cause happiness.
  19. I miss Lake Merritt in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay.
  20. I wish I could work for AWN (Autism Women’s Network) full time.
  21. I wish I had more time to code for fun and not just for work. I have some ideas for projects that would teach me new skills, possibly lead to income, and/or would provide a helpful service to some people, but no time to work on them.
  22. I miss my family terribly. It is easier to see them now that we live on the same coast again, but still hard for me to travel, especially on airplanes. I wish we lived in driving distance of each other.
  23. I miss the Russian River and Armstrong Woods.
  24. I¬†wish the world made sense and that people didn’t lie.
  25. I wish that people really cared about each other and helped each other.
  26. The only thing about turning fifty that has made it seem very old is writing this list and realizing how many items 50 actually is.
  27. I am pretty sure I spend more time than the average person thinking about dinosaurs.
  28. I like to spar.
  29. I wish my brain worked “right”, but am not completely sure I would want to be a RegularPerson‚ĄĘ.
  30. I have been a vegetarian for 30 years and think that if I started eating meat again I would have more energy. Was going to try it when I was 50, but as of yet, have not.
  31. I think I would excel at being a cat.
  32. “Cutting the Cord” is much cheaper than cable TV, but I miss the ease of use and channel availability of Comcast.
  33. I wish the haters would always lose. I am not sure what that means for me if I hate the haters.
  34. I used to build and fix “WinTel” computers, and was amazed at the awesome quality, reliability, and ease of use when I switched to macs 13 years ago.
  35. I first learned to program on an Apple IIe that my dad had, and a Commodore 64 and VIC-20 that were at my high school.
  36. I rarely took part in extra-curricular activities when I was in school, but over the years spent some time as a member of the computer club, Mathletes, and the Spanish club.
  37. When I was younger, I understood Hebrew pretty well. I can still read it, but have a very limited vocabulary now.
  38. I love WordPress.
  39. I love Laravel more than I love WordPress, but see many advantages to using WordPress for the types of websites I most often build for my clients.
  40. I love Drupal, but have no reason to use it. Sometimes I go out of my way to look for a reason.
  41. If I had time, I would learn Python.
  42. Lisa baked me the best cake in the whole world for my 50th birthday. Thanks Lisa!
  43. I like cold weather when I have the appropriate outerwear.
  44. Hexagons make me feel peaceful.
  45. I am a cat person and a dog person, but prefer cats because they are easier to take care of.
  46. I occasionally contemplate what life would be like if I was a panda.
  47. I am a lot like my dad.
  48. I wish I was also a lot like my mom. She is a social and organizational genius.
  49. I like to play video games and currently play WoW. The Fallout series is probably my favorite of all time.
  50. I would like to learn how to play D&D or something similar with real people.
2nd Degree Black Belt — 01/24/2017
Wakeup Call To Action — 11/09/2016

Wakeup Call To Action

The results of yesterday’s election truly saddened me. I am horrified that Donald Trump¬†will be our next president. The amount of people that voted for him both frightens and angers me. He is the personification of so many things that are wrong with¬†this country, this society, and humanity in general. I do not understand how any person who is decent and good could vote for him. He is a racist, misogynist, homophobic, petty, evil man, and I can see no good that will come from having voted¬†for him.

I am afraid that my marriage will no longer be legal. I am afraid for the future of my health insurance. When I think about what today must be like for Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans, immigrants, all non-white Americans, non-Christian Americans, Disabled Americans, non-heterosexuals, non-gender-conforming individuals, and all women and girls, my heart breaks and I want to set the world on fire.

A Wakeup Call to Action

I understand why people want change. I think Hillary Clinton is an amazing woman in many ways, and I wish she was going to be our next president, but she really does represent the status quo. The status quo does not benefit everyone, and fighting to keep it intact is harmful to large groups of people. Progressive ideas and talk do not mean anything if there is no action to back them up. They make no improvements to the lives of people who are suffering.

The need for change is no excuse to elect a man like Donald Trump. It is also not an excuse to ignore glaring problems that exist within our own platforms and beliefs. We need to to examine the fact that much of what we accept as liberal and progressive ideas and values are not enough, and are sometimes built on the same racist, classist system that we are supposedly trying to change. If we ignore these things, we are lying to ourselves when we say that we want true equality and opportunity in this country.

I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know what is needed. My faith in people has dropped considerably since yesterday. The only good that I can see coming from this is¬†that it could be the wakeup call we have long needed. A call to action to the people who want to make this country a better place. An event¬†that will¬†force us¬†to take a step back and think about what “a¬†better place”¬†means for everyone, and not just ourselves, ¬†and organize around that. I don’t know if¬†that is possible, but I have to hope that it is.

Font Rendering in Safari — 10/09/2016

Font Rendering in Safari

There’s definitely a difference between Chrome and Safari due to Safari’s font rendering. In Safari text tends to be a bit bolder due to the anti-aliasing algorithm and can sometimes take up a few extra pixels on the screen.

I was getting very frustrated earlier because of a menu bar that was wrapping in Safari and not in Chrome. The Safari window had to be 200px wider than the Chrome window for the menu not to wrap before switching to the mobile menu.

Making the menu font size .1em smaller fixed the problem. It doesn’t even really make sense mathematically, but it worked so I am not inclined to figure it out right now.

Thanks Stack Overflow!