DeadPress – My First WordPress Plugin

I have built and contributed to many WordPress websites, but in over a decade of WP development I have never built my own plugin from scratch and released it officially. Today I’ve finally done that.

My goal was to have a plugin in the WordPress.org repository, where it could be easily seen and downloaded by anyone in the world after having received a vetting from core team members. But I didn’t have any ideas for necessary plugins. So I made an unnecessary one!

DeadPress combines my love of WordPress and the Grateful Dead. Continue reading DeadPress – My First WordPress Plugin

Ferguson

“The president should be ashamed it’s happening on his watch. Eric Holder should be ashamed… This governor should be ashamed… Every adult in this country should be ashamed that African-American children are being terrorized in the United States of America, [which] claims to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

-Pastor Michael McBride, of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California, speaking in Ferguson, MO to DemocracyNow.org. I couldn’t agree more. The scene below is not one that belongs in America, or anywhere.

police dressed as soldiers, with automatic rifles, body armor and gas masks, aim their weapons at a black man
Ferguson, MO. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, used without permission

Presenting to WordPress NYC

wpnycI’m speaking next week at the WPNYC Meetup group, talking WordPress to what will hopefully be a big crowd! I am super nervous and excited for this.

Last year I presented to this group for the first time, as part of a multi-speaker program on the WordPress Dashboard and setting up your site. But this is the first time I will present alone.

Specifically, my talk will be about WordPress sidebars and widgets. These are powerful tools when building your WordPress site. Come by and learn more about it 🙂

Here’s the video:

Rent Strike in Sunset Park

Housing is a Human Right
Tenants are withholding rent, demanding that electrical problems in the building be resolved, and the trash get picked up

I heard about this from an Occupy email asking people to show solidarity by coming to a 6pm daily “vigil”. It sounded like a great reason to hop on the bike and ride down 5th Avenue about 30 blocks to Sunset Park.

I arrived to find a half-dozen Latino tenants, nearly all of advanced middle age, standing out on the sidewalk. It was a bit awkward as I asked, “Is this the rent strike?” I looked well out of place, rolling up in a mint-green lady beach cruiser, a gleaming white, brand new helmet atop my head. But I persisted, and a young lady who I learned later was not a tenant, but a fellow supporter, confirmed that I had found the right place. She was kind enough to fill me in on some of the back story while the other ladies conversed in Spanish. A man resembling a steam locomotive stood nearby, wielding a large plumber’s wrench with unknown intent.

The building loses electricity all the time, according to the tenants. They might have outages 30 times a day. They have a fuse box in the basement that is overheated and exposed. Apparently the super’s solution to this crackling, sparking fuse box was to point a fan at it. The landlord, Orazio Petito, is on the public advocate’s Worst Landlords list. In response, many of the tenants have stopped paying rent – some for a few months, some for over a year.

CBS Local reported on the story:

Notice the last line of the report: “The tenants say they’re going to save up their withheld rent money, and make the repairs themselves if they have to.”

That reminded me of a line Chomsky often repeats about sit-down strikes really putting fear into the owning class: “That’s just one step away from workers running the factory themselves.” As in, why do these people need a slumlord like Petito when they can just band together and administer the building themselves?

The best story I’ve found on it is by Laura Gottesdiener in the Indypendent. Read the whole thing to hear the story of these amazing women, but here’s a choice bit about the value of these actions:

The campaign’s bold words and actions have inspired community members not only to stand up for their rights as tenants, but also to reconsider social and political marginalization itself. About 80 percent of the neighborhood’s residents live below the poverty line, and the majority speak either Spanish or Mandarin as a first language. But in a society where immigrant women who speak little English are often bullied, intimidated or ignored, these women are loud, assertive and highly public about their right to live with dignity. And they are teaching others to push back as well.

Occupy Times Square

The Occupation continues. Saturday we went out to see how the movement was growing. I met up with JohnJ and we marched up 6th Ave with the procession. The cops had blocked the intended route of 42nd St, and asked everyone to cross at 46th. It got a little hectic as people spilled out into 46th and cops started arresting people who ran into the street. Of course they couldn’t arrest everyone. This vid is from 46th at the entrance to Times Square. We couldn’t really go any further because the square was already packed with people.

Later we wormed our way further into the square, but the cops had blocked off 7th Ave in an attempt to keep it open to traffic. After they got a few buses through, they started diverting that traffic above Times Square, effectively giving the space to the people. But they didn’t bring the barriers down. The cops kept the streets to themselves. Still, I thought there were at least 10,000 people, and maybe closer to 20,000. This vid shows just some of the crowd:

You can hear people chanting “Give the cops a raise” at one point. We are not anti-police. Still, it was a really terrible decision for them to bring in horses to try and intimidate the crowd and make them move back. Especially because, where they did this, there was no way for people to move back at all. If you watch this segment on DemocracyNow!, you can see some disturbing footage of horses getting spooked by the crowd, the noise, the lights. Just an awful idea. On the other hand, there was also a very wise police commander who created some space between cops and the crowd by asking the cops to move back. This not only resulted in cheers from the crowd (who were barricaded anyway), but immediately reduced the tension of the situation and, thereby, the chances of anything bad happening.

JohnJ and I took it all in for a while and then split. But I saw Chris Hedges giving an interview and I had his book “Empire of Illusion” with me, so I got him to sign it “For the People’s Library” – which is where I donated it the next day.

Occupying the Brooklyn Bridge

You may have heard about a little event a couple of weeks ago at the Brooklyn Bridge, which ended up being one of the largest mass arrests in American history. Your faithful blogger was a participant – although not brave enough to risk arrest on the road, I was on the bridge and watched the whole thing go down. Here is a short vid I took:

Occupy Everything

And here is a much better video, edited for artistic beauty and editorial bias:

The Transition

The phone rang and the dialer was “16th Floor conference room”, which was immediately suspicious. I picked up. “This is Rindy.”

“Hi Rindy, this is [H.R.]. can you come and join me in the 16th floor conference room?”

Ummmmmm… OK… I agreed and hung up. So this is it.

The new director of the division was there with HR when I arrived. That made it certain. I put on my best face, closed the door behind me and cheerfully said, “So what’s up? Bad news?”

“Yes it is, I’m afraid,” said the director. “There’s never an easy way to do this, but, as a result of the recent reorganization of the division, your position has been eliminated.” Bam.

A feeling came over me, equal parts relief and dread – but both tinged with nervousness, and my heart beat palpably in my chest. The director went on but I heard only my own thoughts. It’s actually over. I’m moving on. When I heard her again, she was apologizing. I smiled.

“That’s fine, I understand. It’s business,” I said. I was actually getting over the dread and becoming joyful. She had a brief look of confusion. “So, what are the details?”

They were generous. Not Dick-Fuld-golden-parachute generous, but fair. I said, “OK, that’s fair.” They both looked as if they had been expecting a much darker meeting. I had my keycard in my pocket and turned it over. They handed me some paperwork. That was it, I was free to go.

Although they intimated that IT had already commandeered my computer and deleted me from the system, my machine was waiting just where I’d left it, still running. I emailed a file I had been working on to a colleague and ran the disk cleanup function, clearing out my recycle bin, cookies and browsing history, temporary files, etc. I had already removed some personal photos weeks earlier.

Did I anticipate this? Not really. But I had decided to leave, and I had been looking. Getting a severance just made it sweeter.

There were some brief conversations of condolence and shock among a few friends – two others got the axe with me – and some of us went for a coffee after I packed up what little I kept in the office. I was still an employee for two weeks, but I wouldn’t have to come back.

Getting out of the subway at 77th St, I walked in the cold sunshine and spied a penny on the street. Nobody picks them up anymore, have you noticed? Including me. But I figured I’d need some luck now, so I bent down and picked it up, checking the year: 1983. What a great year! So many loved ones born in ’83 🙂

I am not kidding you: an hour later a recruiter called me. She had found me on Monster, and was I still looking? More than ever, I told her, and related the story. “Well, maybe this is good timing, then,” she said.

Three days later I met her for an interview, as a screening. We got along well, and on the way home – you are not going to believe this – I found another penny, also from 1983. This was incredible to me. I was confirmed to interview with a new company the following week.

Outside the Guggenheim
I got the offer on St Patrick's Day, and we went to the parade

That interview went very well, and do you know what? Outside the office as I walked out, I found yet another penny on the street, and this one was a 1980 – just like me! It was fate, I tell you. I got the job.

Three weeks to the day from getting laid off, I was starting a new job which in many ways feels like a promotion. It’s been a week so far and I am really enjoying it.

I need to thank my family and friends for being so great. Everyone reached out to me when they found out, everyone encouraged me. I have really good peoples. Thank you, guys. I love you.

{I am en route to Catonsville for a family gathering that is going to be great 🙂 This entire post was written from the bus via iphone, a first!}