Friday, October 31, 2008

More Scary Stuff in Appalachia

I'm sorry to report that I don't have a new local ghost story for this Halloween. You could revisit my old ones at Haunted Pocahontas County, if you're disappointed. However, I do have a couple of additions for my collection of "scare the tourists away" horror movies set in or around West Virginia. I hope to bundle these and make them available at Snowshoe Resort someday.

A few weeks ago, I caught Wicked Little Things on television. (The occasion was Zombie Day on the SciFi channel.) According to the IMDb synopsis, In 1913, in Carlton Mine, Addytown, Pennsylvania, the cruel owner of a mine uses poor children in the exploration and after an explosion, a group of children is buried alive. These zombified waifs haunt the woods and eat hapless teenagers who foolishly sneak off for illicit teenage fun. Of course, some unsuspecting city folk move to the woods, screams and bloodshed ensue, and a wise old woodsman explains that the zombie children will never rest until they eat the mine owner's grandson, who wants to open a ski resort.

Wicked Little Things has several bright spots--Ben Cross is the wise old woodsman, and the sets, costumes, and makeup produce some haunting effects. The little zombie waifs move through the woods like a pack of feral dogs, and the stylized sets recall spooky silent films.

Pocahontas Countians are bound to love a movie where the zombie waifs hunger for the flesh of a ski resort developer, and I think the coal fields of Pennsylvania qualify this movie for the Appalachian backcountry genre. At least one other viewer connected Wicked Little Things With Pick Axes to West Virginia.

There are five movies in the Pumpkinhead series, and the fifth one is called Pumpkinhead 4 - Blood Feud. (Don't ask me about the math.) Until this latest installment, the fictional locale has been unspecified, although the characters have generic "Southern accents," and the setting is vaguely rural. The presence of a sinister granny woman who will conjure a vengeance-exacting creature from her pumpkin patch on request has sent me looking for an Appalachian connection, but Blood Feud settles this question for me. The titular feud is between the Hatfields and McCoys, placing the whole series on the Kentucky--West Virginia border.

These gory, formulaic movies contain some things that interest me. One is Lance Henriksen, whose character dies in the original movie, but subsequently returns as a helpful ghost and plot explicator. Another is the moral message--that revenge is corrosive to everyone involved. In a genre that usually teaches us that teenage fun is deadly and girls trip whenever they run away from monsters, this is surprising sophistication.

If you wish to review, here are some other movies from my "scare the tourists" collection:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snow Fruits and Snow Flowers

I am always entranced by incongruous snowfall. This week's snow washed away all the red-gold autumnal glow. The snow's gone and we had sunshine today, but the remaining leaves are pale. The pear tree has still not dropped its load of fruit.

Quite a few apple trees are still holding on to their fruits too.

Poor Rosebud!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Roses in the Snow

This has been a very strange fall here. My roses are particularly confused this morning.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

OpenOffice Base With and Without MySQL

Here are some more useful links I've dug up in my search for tools to use in cataloging the Pocahontas County historic collections. In addition to using specially-written front-end programs for MySQL, I've found that Open Office can also interact with MySQL. Here are the references I found most useful for this project.

OpenOffice Base With and Without MySQL

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mantis Portraiture

All summer, this mantis (or a series of sibs) watched over the house-building process. Earlier this month, I took some pictures, then turned her loose. The next day, we noticed her walking deliberately up edge of the roof. When she reached the peak she paused, facing out over the yard as if surveying her territory. She would have made a great gargoyle model. The hard frost we had this week probably was the end of her.

I had never noticed the red coloring on mantis mouthparts before. Lipstick on a mantis? It seems like that conceit is going around. Pit bulls and pigs are cute and cuddly compared to these creatures.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Archives and Digital Collections

Along with selecting, installing and testing archival databases, I've been trying to learn the archivist-lingo, so that I may understand the best ways to proceed with cataloging and digitizing the history-related collections around Pocahontas County. (Hence many hours in front of the computer screen, yet no blog posts.) Here are some of the things I've been reading lately.

Helpful Resources for Archive and Collection Management

Exemplar Archives

More References

Friday, October 10, 2008

Roof, Doors, and Windows

The roof is on, and the house wrap, doors, and windows make it look like a solid structure. We will have to look at the home improvement store advertising until the hemlock siding is cut and ready for us. I hope that will be soon, but, like so many things, the lumber will be ready when it's ready.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wordpress, MAMP, Drupal, LAMP--Linux Is Easier Than Mac

I was very taken with the idea of MAMP: One-click solution for setting up your personal webserver. MAMP is installed in the typical Mac fashion: very easily. MAMP will not compromise any existing Apache installation already running with your OS X. You can install Apache, PHP and MySQL without starting a script or having to change any configuration files! Furthermore, if MAMP is no longer needed, it is sufficient to delete the MAMP folder and everything returns to its original status (i.e. MAMP does not modify any of the "normal" OS X).

I really liked the idea that I could install a CMS, play around with it, and just dump the whole database and loalhost content if I messed it up. I thought it would be easiest to start out with Wordpress, rather than Drupal or one of the digital library CMS's, because so many people use Wordpress successfully. It must be easy, right?

Well, it didn't work that way. I installed MAMP successfully, I thought, but I couldn't get Wordpress to communicate with the MySQL database. Eventually, I gave up and turned to my Debian desktop, where I installed the usual LAMP setup. Drupal worked almost right "out of the box." The only problem I had was that I had an old version of Apache 1.3 installed, from my efforts to configure a network file system (NFS) back in March. Once I removed that and reinstalled Apache 2, it was a cinch to install Drupal on localhost.

This gave me an idea--I thought I had turned off all the network services in the Mac "System Preferences: Sharing" window, but when I poked around a bit more, I found "Apple Share" turned on. Once that was turned off, Wordpress installed easily on MAMP's localhost:8888 just as advertised. Here are a couple of resources that helped me with the Wordpress/MAMP install.

So, it probably would have been easier to start with Drupal in the regular /var/www directory for localhost on the Mac. Here are the directions I found helpful for that process.

Guides to a "Full-blown" LAMP setup for Mac OSX Leopard

  • Installing WordPress On Your Apple MacAn interesting but often overlooked feature of an Apple Mac is that it comes bundled with a fully functional copy of the Apache web server and PHP - the language of WordPress. Add a MySQL database server to the mix and you have a fully functional, but personal, web server where, like me, you can test your website and write and debug code without ever exposing it to public view.
  • Leopard: How to Install Wordpress also details adding MySQL, turning on PHP5, installing your CMS of choice (Wordpress again), and running localhost.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Meme of Unspectacular Facts

Sherry Chandler tagged me for the "six unspectacular things about you" meme. I actually still owe Sherry a post for the page 123 meme from February 25 of this year. In that meme, you were supposed to pick up the book nearest you, turn to page 123, find the fifth sentence, and post it. Sherry had high hopes for me, maybe some arcane local history book. In fact, the nearest book was How to Make Sewing Patterns by Donald H. McCunn. Page 123 of that book, "Gathered Sleeve Cap," had only four sentences. The next nearest books were four shelves of odd-sized books: music books, cookbooks, knitting books, sheet music, and pamphlets. Book after book either lacked page 123, or had no sentences there. At that time, I was substituting daily at the middle school, and by day's end, my supply of resourcefulness was utterly depleted.

I'm still feeling guilty about that activity, so I'd better get after the current meme. I suppose all facts about me are unspectacular, so it shouldn't be hard, eh?

  1. I'm left-handed.
  2. My earliest childhood memory is of a caterpillar.
  3. I have always preferred tea to coffee.
  4. I learned to read from the funny papers in the Des Moines Register.
  5. My fingers are long and spatulate, but my thumbs are relatively short. This dashed my dreams of playing Irish or Cajun button accordion.
  6. I have the same birthday as Katherine Anne Porter, she was born the same year as my maternal grandmother (two weeks earlier), and I lived for five years (1987-1992) in the town where she died (Silver Spring, MD). I knew none of this when I first read Pale Horse, Pale Rider in 1974, but I had a disturbing sense of deja vu about "Miranda."

I've never had any luck tagging anyone with a meme, so if no one's tagged you and this sounds like fun, go ahead and meme away. The meme terms & conditions are: "1. link the person who tagged you; 2. mention the rules on your blog; 3. list 6 unspectacular things about you: 4. tag 6 other bloggers by linking them."

Apache Server, MySQL, and PHP On Mac OS X

I have a Macintosh laptop to use for work now (Woo hoo!), so I need to get more comfortable with Unix-y things on OS X. Currently, I'm learning about databases and Web 2.0 on Debian Linux, then grabbing the laptop and trying to do the same thing there. Sometimes, everything works, sometimes it doesn't. Here are my relevant helpful links:

Apache Server, MySQL, and PHP On Mac OS X

Sunday, October 05, 2008

More Messages From the Kingdom of Vegetables

I picked the last cabbage from our garden for cole slaw last week. These red cabbages made small but tasty heads. It was the vivid color that sent me outside in mid-chop to take some pictures.

There's something a little hypnotic about the sliced cabbage pattern. My parrots are very fond of cabbage, but they were afraid of the red cabbage cores--they wouldn't even go in their cages until I removed the scary vegetables. What do you suppose the cabbage told the parrots?

Learning About PHP and MySQL

I've been trying to teach myself PHP (among other things) for my latest joblet. Terry attests to its empowering effect, and I do get giddy when I learn something new. Terry recommends Larry Ullman's PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide, and I will probably have to buy it, but I am profoundly cheap, and have limited book shelf space, so I'm trying to figure things out with free Web tutorials. My inevitable list of links follows.

PHP Tutorials and Advice

MySQL Tutorials, Documentation, and Installation Tips

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Famous Wolf River Apples

Ever since I moved to Pocahontas County, people have been telling me about the old-time apple variety "Wolf River." This was once a popular variety, but most trees have died out. Apple fans say of them, "One apple, one pie." Last week, a neighbor brought us some Wolf River apples--the three red ones in the picture. The green apple is a normal-sized variety. I've been assured that these are smallish specimens. I really like the color and texture of the skin. I'll be cutting into these today, but I had to catch a picture of them first.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

An End To Transparency

This is probably the last picture of the house as see-through structure. Now the roof tin will shut out the sky (especially the rain!), windproof wrap will stand in for the exterior walls, and the doors and windows will assume their intended positions.