Hello, Mr. Fishy

Hello, Mr. Fishy

Cichlid Fish
When I lived in San Francisco, I shared a house with Charlie who had a pet cichlid fish in an aquarium in the kitchen. The fish was as big as my hand.

When Charlie came downstairs in the morning, the fish would squirt him with water and Charlie would laugh and feed the fish.

When I came downstairs in the morning, wearing my silk blouse for a day in television sales, and the fish squirted me, I would shriek, upset that now I would have to find another blouse to wear, iron it, and be late for work. I was furious. I learned to enter the kitchen each morning saying, “Hello, Mr. Fishy. Please don’t squirt me.” Instead, he would do a little dance to greet me.

One time, Charlie and I went on vacation and Charlie had his younger sister come over daily to feed the fish. When we returned, the aquarium was murky with excess food, and the fish was sulking.

Even though Charlie promptly cleaned the tank and went back to his old schedule, the fish would not “speak” to him for a couple of weeks.

WordPress v. Squarespace for Blogging

WordPress v. Squarespace for Blogging

Here is a quick note I wrote to a friend to follow-up on the Facebook discussion about the best platform for her to start sharing her writing online.

1. Who owns your content?

2. Can you reclaim it if you decide to leave the platform?

WordPress is ideal for blogging, that’s what it was designed for.

Wordpress v. Squarespace
Squarespace is designed for “flat files” which are faster to load (important for Google ranking). Blog functions are available on Squarespace, but I believe its first function is fast, good-looking, easy-to-build static websites. If I were to start a new website today, I would use Squarespace if I did not need an Email service from the host.


Although Squarespace does not offer you a free plan, they do have a 14-day risk-free trial for you to thoroughly test out their website builder before you make your decision. … So the ongoing cost for Squarespace ranges from $144 per year (Personal plan) to $480 per year (Advanced plan).

WordPress is powerful, cumbersome, widely-used, and for that reason, the target of a gajillion hack attempts per day (I have a counter on one of my WordPress websites). My personal blog is on WordPress (self-hosted with hosting company A), and my business website is on WordPress (self-hosted on hosting company B). I built a business website for one of my advertising clients on WordPress.com, which is NOT self-hosted, and he pays them small annual fees.


Matt Mullenweg, co-founding developer of WordPress, launched a company called Automattic which provides “restricted” free blog hosting service at WordPress.com, and you can pay/upgrade to unlock features such as CSS modification etc. However, to get the full power of WordPress.org on WP.com service, you have to spend over $3250 per month for hosting.

It is not your imagination that this can get complicated. Two things:

1. WordPress.com is “free” blogging platform where Automattic takes care of all the updating, security, etc. This might be a good choice.

a. It is not really free for someone like you. You have to pay a small amount to keep ads off the site, and a small fee to have your domain name directed to the cloud-based site.

b. Be sure to own your domain name separately, under your own name, on your own account, that you can direct wherever you want. If you want to change platforms, you will have the ability to do so. I register my domains at Domains.Google.com

c. Using WordPress.com removes the website security issues. On the other hand, all your content is created in the cloud. You will have to make sure all your content is backed up to a place where you can find what you are looking for should something (unlikely) happen to your cloud-based website.

d. If you decide to try this, check out the website I built to support my students who took my SRJC Continuing Ed classes “Blogging for Business.”

2. Self-hosted WordPress.org (which is that I do) is not recommended because it is cumbersome, slow and old fashioned, but gives me more control over the appearance and ownership of the material. Plus, I can create Email accounts like anet@anetdunne.com

I do not know the Squarespace answers to the ownership quandary. Those websites are created in the cloud, and I think you would need a way to keep an archive copy of your writing. I don’t know what they offer in this regard.

I hope this helps. Please let me know what you decide to do.

Movie Review: Rogue One

Movie Review: Rogue One

Rogue One is much better than the previous Star Wars installment, “The Force Awakens” by J.J. Abrams. The Rogue One script is first rate, telling how Princess Leia’s came to be in possession of the schematics for The Death Star, the information she embedded in R2D2, forty years ago..

In that movie, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker were untouched by thousands of rounds sent their way. We all saw the excessive shooting in The Matrix, and Rogue One brings it to where it should be. Hundreds of thousands of rounds whizz by, but in Rogue One our people are not mysteriously shielded from harm. It is much more realistic about the real toll, physical and spiritual, of war.

The image above shows the small band of renegades at the heart of the action and I was impressed by the performances. Diego Luna as Cassian was especially compelling. There is a line where Cassian talks, with great pain, about how each of the men regrets the betrayals and killings in the name of the rebellion, and yet they are unwilling to let go of the cause. In an argument with the heroine, Cassian shuts it down with a quiet, chilling warning on a par with the line from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, “We don’t need no stinking badges.” Bravo!

I have been a fan of Ben Mendelsohn since “Bloodline” where he plays a brilliant, self-destructive brother in a wealthy, irrational family. I thought he was miscast in this, and he had not mastered how to wear a cape with the panache and intimidation of Darth Vader. Ben’s voice lacks the gravitas to compete with the elocution of the Imperial brass. Too bad, I usually like his work.

I found the movie to be very satisfying. Recommended.

Art, Dance, Movies, Los Angeles

Art, Dance, Movies, Los Angeles
Art, Dance, Movies, Los Angeles

zgardenrestaurantMy friend of 30 years, Beth, was having surgery and I wanted to be nearby in case I could help her. My new friend from the Danube trip, Sue, was kind enough to pick me up at the airport on Thursday 6th of October and take me to the hospital where the surgery was performed. My friend’s procedure had gone so well that they released her rather than keep her overnight as planned, but she only let me visit her for one hour over the four days I was in Los Angeles.

The first night, Sue and I we had a great meal at the Z Garden Restaurant at 2350 Pico near 23rd St. It is run by a Tunisian family that filled a corner of the restaurant with laughter, kisses and kids and we each had a different, delicious lamb dish, then off to folk dancing at Felicia Mahood center. Had a great time.

Museum Bowl

In The LACMA Pottery Gallery Where Sue’s Cup Was Featured In A Recent Show

The next day, Friday, we walked with the Walkie Talkies, then met Kiki for breakfast at Urth near the beach. She told us about her work as a nurse and with special-needs children who prepared gift bags for breast cancer patients. Before I left, Kiki stopped by Sue’s house and gave me three to give to my friends coping with cancer. Then we went to LACMA but missed the Chinese lecture Sue wanted to see. Instead, we went to the Guillermo Del Toro monster show that Sue had been avoiding. She loved it, then we went to see more treasures there. That afternoon we saw “Queen of Katwe.”


Saturday morning had breakfast at Bundy Ave. cafe not far from my old neighborhood, then we danced barefoot, madly, at the Africo-Cuba Drumming Dance with 5 drummers and 12 dancers. Enormous fun, then off to Bergamot Station for some mint lemonade and wonderful art. Went shopping at Trader Joe’s and made a fun dinner for ourselves and saw “Miss Peregrine’s School For Unusual Children.”


Sue has a beautiful house that reflects her soul as an artist. I have never been to Santorini, but the bright white punctuated with cobalt blue made me feel I was visiting a Greek island.

sue's living room

Santa Monica is very beautiful and her house, close to Clover Park and Clover Field airport, is in a beautiful section. Her 7 a.m. morning group, the Walkie Talkies were so much fun.

Pamela, Lucky, Sue, Anet, Dorothy

Pamela, Lucky, Sue, Anet, Dorothy

Sunday breakfast Daisy cafe and I visited my convalescing friend. I had a great walk along the Venice boardwalk and through Santa Monica. We visited the Open Studios of the Santa Monica College students in the re-purposed buildings at Santa Monica airport, then we dashed off to see the Palestinian movie Sand Storm which I found very moving. Sue and I had dinner at Indian restaurant. Monday, I rented a car to drive to Chinatown to meet my friend from high school, Jane Argento. Sue dropped me off at Enterprise and when I got to the counter they said, “Oh, you didn’t make the reservation here but in Santa Monica.” I heard myself say the words I hate to hear come out of my mouth. “Where am I?” “Marina Del Rey.” I got the car and was on time for my brunch with Jane at the HomeGirl cafe. Jane told me about the priest that started Homeboy Enterprises and a recent fundraiser she attended with him in San Marino, adjacent to Pasadena where she lives.

I returned the car to the airport for an 8 p.m. flight. I was so happy that my good friend Janice picked me up at the airport. Had a great trip.


“Take time to be an impartial observer of life,
particularly when an ending is causing despair.”
— Lao Tzu

Sugarloaf Hike Springtime

Sugarloaf Hike Springtime

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Yesterday, Wendy Gross led us (group shot below) on a four-hour, seven mile hike on Sugarloaf Mountain that was very steep. Halfway through the hike we were on a beautiful, seldom-used trail that was steeply up-and-down alongside a flowing creek. There were several stream crossings which were easy, even though Laura Tighe just walked through the water and skipped trying to balance on the rocks. She said, “it cools my feet.” She also commented that the entire group standing on a wooden bridge (below) was an interesting test of the strength of the bridge.

I was ready for the hike to end around noon, our usual stopping time, but it took until 1 p.m. to finish and we reached an altitude where the deciduous trees thinned out and we were seeing healthy conifers with cones so big Jason was marveling at their size and robustness. We thought Jason and Frances would join us afterwards at Midtown Cafe, but the 2 p.m. closing time was fast approaching, so they opted out. To give you an idea of how taxing the hike was, Jill ate the entire Duck Confit she ordered, and Ezra ate everything, too. He enjoyed the strenuous hike, but next time I will make sure that Wendy has actually hiked the trail previously before I follow her.

There were lots of pretty spring flowers in the cool, foggy weather, and we had a vigorous discussion about penstamen. Wendy finally opened up a flower and counted the stamens — five.

Back: Diane, Jill, Ned Middle: Wendy, Ezra, Jason Foreground: Frances, Ulla

Back: Diane, Jill, Ned
Middle: Wendy, Ezra, Jason
Foreground: Frances, Ulla

My Tick and Rash

My Tick and Rash

CDC  Lyme Disease Rash Pattern

CDC Lyme Disease Rash Pattern

Yikes! I just discovered a tick bite, about 24 hours after the hike. This is what was left after my friend broke off the body, which I will submit to the County for testing for only $31. My doctor dug out the tick’s head on Monday morning and prescribed doxycycline for me, reminding me that the rate of infection of Sonoma ticks is low. She searched the web from the computer in her office to show me the distinctive “target” rash for lyme disease, so I am including the image from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I am told that Ezra got a tick, too.

Black Mountain Two Night Kayak Camp

Black Mountain Two Night Kayak Camp

BlackMtn360wFor our traditional Mothers Day Campout, Lori Parmalee selected Black Mountain, a boat-in only campground in Lake Sonoma which was full for the first time in several rain-sparse years. She booked all four of the campsites on the peninsula and we had six campers on Saturday night. Friday morning, Lori and I paddled in with Liam O’Flaherty and had the lake to ourselves. It was raining lightly when we launched but it stopped quickly and the water was smooth as we crossed the four miles to Black Mountain in about an hour.

The drizzle began again when Lori took this picture of Liam and me at the table in the distance. I am on the left in my green plastic poncho I bought 25 years ago when I started boating. This is the first time I have used it. I also purchased my tent at that time, and on this trip, the raccoons tore a three-corner hole in it to get to my sun-block lip-gloss. Grrr. But they greedily went after my headlamp first which got stuck in the hole, so they didn’t get the lip gloss.

The table in the foreground was probably moved from my campsite which is the farthest away. Liam theorized that it was moved when the water was low, last Autumn, then inundated by the Spring rains.

ViewFromLatrineIt was great having the entire campsite to ourselves. One of the reasons Lori likes Black Mountain campground is that this is the view from the latrine (left).

Even though it was raining lightly on Saturday morning, we were joined by Brent, Deb and Louie and had a great campfire on Saturday night. I left my little chair in my car because I was (unnecessarily) worried about a too-heavy boat, so I had to stand for the campfire. Won’t make that mistake again. We had fun sharing food and an excellent bottle of Gundlach Bundschu wine compliments of Liam. Louie shared some excellent craft stout. My massaged kale salad was not the show-stopper I hoped.

It rained briefly both Friday and Saturday nights, which served to keep the weekend very restful and meditative. I enjoyed the women’s magazines Lori brought to leaf through and use as kindling. They stayed dry while my cotton pants sopped up the condensation in my tent.

Lori and I paddled back on Sunday morning while the others explored farther up the water. I learned her trick to find her way back to the boat launch — stay to the left on return and always take the left choice. Many of the openings are hard to see until you are right upon them. Even though Sunday was Mothers Day, there were few speed boats on the water and our paddle back was uneventful.

I had been fretting about organizing and preparing for a two-night campout, but it was very successful. I am tired but happy. Here is my picture on Friday afternoon after the three of us arrived.