Even I'm not sure what this blog is about anymore…


I have not blogged in a good minute. When the weather hit 80 a month and a half ago, I took the opportunity to go buck wild hella happy crazy. I’ve been out and about and I’ve been hitting the gym especially hard. In the past three weeks, I’ve also gone completely grain-free, actually leaning towards an AutoImmune Modified Paleo protocol. The transition has been rough. I still eat carbs but in the form of tubers, i.e. what we call ground provisions in the land of my birth. I do not eat cassava / tapioca / yucca (whatever you want to call it) because of its potential cross-reactivity with gluten. However I do eat yams and eddoes (the Spanish market near me calls them “malangas” but I recognize an eddoe when I see one!) – things my grandmother has been pleading with me to eat since childhood. I am even trying to locate some breadfruit. Kind of a difficult thing to do in North Carolina.

I am proud of myself, not having touched a grain of rice or a white potato (the AIP excludes nightshades) in weeks. Those were my two hold-outs. I never thought I could do this. I am not strict AIP as I use all kinds of spices liberally, but then again I do not have an autoimmune diseaseūüôā I’m doing this for other health reasons that I plan to report on in another 4-8 weeks.

Anyway, as you may or may not know, I am a pescatarian, which makes the diet a little harder BUT I try to eat as many different kinds of fish as possible. I get wild salmon and mahi mahi (known as dolphin in Barbados) from Trader Joes, tilapia from Whole Foods (and I’m talking hella expensive 8.99 a pound tilapia that was raised on a high omerga 3 diet), and wild snapper, trout and other random goodies from the fish market a mile from my house.

The one non-fish animal product I allow myself (well I also would eat dairy and eggs were they not excluded on the protocol) is bone broth. Or at least I sure would if I could find a way to make it palatable. Paleo dictates that you MUST make your broth from scratch. No supermarkets. No shortcuts. All well and good except for the STENCH of simmering beef bone broth. I tried it twice earlier this year and then gave up. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a tangy, meaty smell that takes over the entire ozone layer above one’s place of abode. And heaven forbid you try to hide the broth in a soup or sauce instead of downing it in a mug like the hardcore among us. There’s no hiding that smell!

But recognizing the benefits of a good broth, I did some digging and found I am not the only one who cannot stomach the odor of beef bone broth. There were a couple of major takeaways.

1) Roast the bones before simmering them. I was a little apprehensive about this but it turns out that the broth will still gel even if you subject the bones to high temperatures: http://ohlardy.com/homemade-bone-broth-a-lost-art

2) Use lemon juice instead of apple cider vinegar.

I incorporated both these techniques into a broth that has been simmering for two hours now and HAS NO SMELL, thank the heavens.


I Dislike Joomla

Maybe I’ve made that clear in the past but it’s worth saying again.

Anyway, last night a family friend called me panicking. His company’s website had been hacked. After about a minute of viewing any page on the site, the visitor would be redirected to something ridiculous-looking, like a hacking forum. His host (I’m looking at you, FatCow) had not been helpful to say the least. They informed him that a) they could not help and b) they would be suspending his website effective immediately so it did not infect other sites on the server. Oh, and c) they gave him the contact information for a professional who could clean up the site for 200 bucks.

So he called me. While we’re listing things, please note that a) I have no experience with Joomla and b) I didn’t like what I saw when I downloaded it the last time and c) I’m not a security expert. But I agreed to take a look.

Based on what he told me, the simple explanation seemed to be that someone had cracked his password and manipulated the files on the shared server. But the hosting company had seemed antsy, so I assumed there could be other explanations. The first thing I did was to change his password, which was er…not strong. Then I made a backup of all his files.

A cursory glance at his directories indicated that a) he had been hacked by a total megalomaniac who left .txt files everywhere with his email address in them. b) My friend’s content was pretty static, having not changed since 2010, which made it easy for me to pinpoint what was out of place even though I was not familiar with the site OR a typical Joomla file structure. c) Extra .htaccess files were littered throughout his directories (e.g. /tmp and /img) and these had been modified in February of this year. Interestingly enough, the “bragging rights” files were modified in March. d) There were a couple more files that had been modified in February – two PHP scripts that were submitting a form to somewhere or another with a single parameter – a security key. They were oddly named and placed in random-looking directories – 4oxr.php and fbc9.php or something like that. Just four characters and the php extension.

Down the rabbit hole. According to StackOverflow:

Immediate re-infection after rebuilding from a backups could mean: a) a cron job has been set up to re-infect you at a set period b) another account on the server is infected and is reaching out to re-infect others c) your site was compromised previously (dropped files within the site) but that these are sat dormant waiting for either an individual or a botnet to connect and take control. d) or that the server is totally compromised and the hacker just reconnects to re-infect

Now as far as I can tell, FatCow does not support cron jobs for shared users so I tentatively ruled out a) UNLESS the job was not running in the shared environment, in which case the host would have been pretty shocked and appalled.

The host’s response (if true) indicated that my friend’s account was the only one they knew about that was infected so I ruled out b) and d) – I’d assume the host would know if the entire server was compromised.

c) seemed the best bet given that the files in his directories had been modified more than a month apart and he had not noticed anything untoward back in February.

Well anyway, I had beefed up his security initially, so I HOPE that if this was a simple password cracking, he’d be okay from now on. Now to FIX the site.

…more reading ensued…

“I’ve seen this before (and fixed it), there is a script executing somewhere on your server that is pushing the malicious code into your .htaccess file.”

I started by removing all the extraneous .htaccess files. ¬†I also deleted the two weird .php files. Oh, I forgot, there were also some files in his directories called LICENSES.php that had been modified in February. One was called LICSENES.php. Those typos’ll get ya every time. I skimmed these and declared them useless on top of being suspicious so I removed them too.

The .htaccess file in his root directory, I replaced with one from a clean install of Joomla since it contains basic security fixes. It didn’t break anything so I moved on.

The final file that had been modified recently was his index.php, which now contained a line beginning with “eval(base64decode…” between a couple of important includes. I removed that line and it was curtains for homeboy in Russia. I hope for good. The site still looks healthy this morning. I’ll continue to monitor it over the next couple of days and probably months actually. If it wasn’t a matter of his password being cracked, I suppose I’ll have to wade back into the fray.

It took me two hours to go from zero (as in zero knowledge on the subject) to done. The steps I took were actually incredibly simple. Most of the lead time was searching for the right resource (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8242888/joomla-hacked-and-redirecting-to-dndelectric-website) and wrapping my mind around the CONCEPTS used by the hacker. There will be many many variations of this attack, so the concepts are important.

I wrote this in order to lay out the steps more simply than the discussion-style thead referenced. I will say that it helped enormously that my friend’s REAL content had not been edited in a long time so I could clearly see what was recently modified.

Days of Devotion #3

Yesterday, as I was sitting in church, I received a text message from a good friend of mine. While we were in DC last month, we had starting talking about some things. Life issues. Anyway, yesterday she said she’d come across a verse and wanted to share it with me even though she knew I’d probably read it a thousand times. And then she quoted Hebrews 11:6 to me.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly¬†seek¬†him.”

I asked her if she’d been reading my blog and she said no, not recently. I feel a little mystified by this. In a good way.

Okay, so Psalm 1. It only has six verses, so it’s a good way to ease into daily devotion IMO. Quality over quantity, as they say.

Blessed is the one…whose delight¬†is in the law of the¬†Lord,
and who meditates¬†on his law day and night. (The Clear Word says “meditates on his word”)
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf¬†does not wither‚ÄĒ
whatever they do prospers.

This part immediately stood out to me. It was just recently I was telling my sister that I felt like nothing was going right. The choleric in me goes into high gear when I find something I like. I throw my energies into my pursuits and I expect returns but so far in life there’s been mainly disappointment. If it weren’t for the money, I’d probably quit my job and go back to school for a PhD because I feel like academics is the only area in my life that I’ve managed to excel in.

“…whatever they do prospers”

I feel it’s important to note that this is not prosperity gospel. When God was creating the world, He stepped back and took a critical look after each step. And each time, He found that it was good. His labor yielded a good result. Think of it that way.

While this passage doesn’t explicitly use the words “seek God” it does stress the importance of:

– God – It’s basic science: trees need water. Water enters the tree through its roots and travels to the very tips of the leaves by an intricate transportation system. In this way, human beings crave God’s presence whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. We were designed for Him to enter and fill us and give us life and nourishment. You know how sometimes you sit and wonder hey, how come my skin is dry? And then you try to fix it by slathering on Cocoa Butter. But then you’re just a dry, greasy mess. And then it occurs to you…hmm, have I been drinking enough water? I’m just going to go ahead and assume this has happened to you before.

– Establishing and maintaining closeness – orienting ourselves – planting ourselves – so that our roots can tap into this most basic of needs.

The passage also gives us some insight into the how. The analogy is awesome, but ultimately we’re not really trees.

“whose¬†delight¬†is in the law of the¬†Lord,
and who meditates¬†on his law day and night”

For now I’m just going to collect the how-tos here. I don’t think I’m ready to put together something coherent on that.

Days of Devotion, part deux

For the next few weeks, I’m going to be reading the Psalms. After a brilliant start to Days of Devotion (I’m talking revelation!) I found myself floundering somewhat in terms of what to do/read next. Yesterday at church, the pastor said something that inspired me to learn more about the kind of relationship that David had with God. The closeness between the two.

It is possible, oh so possible, to go to church every week, be actively involved in ministry, and generally speaking “do everything right” without ever feeling the closeness with God that you long for.

On the other hand, there is¬†this concept in the Bible of seeking God’s face. I can go on and on about it, but the executive summary is that good things happen when you do.

2 Chronicles 7:14: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

1 Chronicles 28:9: If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

Proverbs 8:17: I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

It was by chance one day that I stumbled across the first text – 2 Chronicles 7:14. Forgive sin. Yes, I like it. Heal land. We need that. Pray. Check. Turn from wicked ways. Trying. But what’s this other business? What does it mean to seek God’s face. What do you actually have to DO?

Which brings me to the Psalms. Because David stands out to me as a guy who stayed on top of his seeking.

Psalm 9:10: Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 14:2: The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Psalm 24:5-6:  He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob.

Psalm 27:4: One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 27:8:¬†My heart says of you, “Seek¬†his face!” Your face, LORD, I will¬†seek.

Psalm 34:10: The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Psalm 53:2: God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Psalm 63:1: O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 119:2: Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.

Psalm 119:10: I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

I kind of already know what I want to write about for Day 3 but I’ll do that tomorrow. This seems like a good introduction.

My PHD compliant plantain chips came out so good. I’m kind of in shock right now given how the potato saga ended.


Days of Devotion, part 1

Today I read the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to begin devotion so I googled people in the Bible who endured affliction and came up with this article on what the Bible says about depression:


Now certainly, I believe there is such a thing as clinical depression, but I also know that health problems aside, it is possible to become stressed out and broken down over life’s happenings.

I scanned the list of characters at the top and decided to pick the first one and read the actual Bible passage, which led me to Genesis 16. I’ve read it before as part of a chronological Bible reading plan but I find that I skim rather than digest when I read like that.

Okay fine so Hagar was the Egyptian slave of Sarai, Abraham’s wife. She was presumably going along, minding her own business when….One day Sarai decided that since she was still barren, Abraham should impregnate Hagar instead. Which he promptly did, no holds barred, no questions asked.

At this point, Hagar did something she shouldn’t have done. She began to “despise” Sarai. I take that to mean lord it over her, feel superior to her, etc. She could have a child and Sarai couldn’t. She was going to give Abraham the long awaited son. Her head swelled more than her ankles, in other words.

Sarai did what any other red-blooded woman would do. She made Hagar’s life a living hell until Hagar ran away to the desert in abject misery and, I assume, large with child. God sent an angel to meet her at the well (as appears to have been His custom back in the day)

The angel said this: ‚ÄúGo back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, ‚ÄúI will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.‚ÄĚ

I totally missed this the first time I read it because at the time, the problem that was eating at me (plaguing me even) wasn’t: would God would heal and restore my life despite the fact that I was the one who deliberately made the choices that would mess it up in the first place?

Go back, God said – go back and make things right. And then I am going to bless you.

I appreciate this conversation so much. I mean nowhere in there did God say, “Now Hagar, you KNOW wrong for that!” He didn’t berate her or even mention the role she played in what had happened. All he said was – let’s make things right, Hagar. You prayed to me and here I am to help you move forward. Good things can still come to you!

POINT TAKEN, GOD. Thank you!

Watching a TVD re-run! Yay!

Yesterday my hair turned 11 weeks old. Lol. I love it, I really do. I have a soft spot for my new growth. I love to sit and touch it when it’s moisturized and being a good girl.

However I’ve noticed that my hair is tangling at the drop of a hat. Like SERIOUS tangling. I noticed when I was home for Christmas that my shed hair didn’t come out as easily. I would have to tug on it and it would curl around other strands. Now I suspect the problem is even worse. I have a knot – A KNOT – in my hair. Once it dries I’m going to have to attack it with a comb and *cries* possibly the hair shears.

Today I did all kinds of crap to try to take care of this. I pre-poo’ed with a cheapie (Aussie Moist) then washed in four sections, proteined, DC’ed, then co-washed out with the Aussie Moist again. I thought maybe some silicons would help. I haven’t used them in months. Then I put my hair in large rollers to stretch it as it dries. I think I’m going to have to detangle more often now. Dry detangling (pre and post wash) is key for me.

This little baby has rave reviews so I’m going to buy it: http://www.amazon.com/Remington-Tangle-Tamer-Wet-Dry/dp/B000JI9JYQ

And also I’m gonna get with the black tea rinses again to see if I can slow down the shedding.

These last two washes I’ve been using my new Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia leave-in. I’ll have a review on that soon. Next week I’ll be adding the Qhemet Biologics Heavy Cream on top. I LOVVVEEEDDDD it when I tried the one I gave my aunt for Christmas. I actually went back to Nyenzo yesterday to try to score my own but they were sold out until next weekūüė¶