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So what have I been doing since the 21st of December?

On the 22nd, I contracted God knows what after a day out with my cousins. Three days of epic fever and amazing body aches followed and I spent most of it indoors, in bed, asleep. I haven’t actually recovered my appetite since and have been eating very little. Poor J got me from the airport on New Years Eve and instead of heading straight to a party like I’d hoped, I was carted home and I was asleep at 10:30pm. That’s right, I wasn’t even CONSCIOUS after my 20+ hours in transit overseas for New Years Eve.

I’m still not recovered. Everything feels strange and I feel like I never want to do anything but sleep ever again.
Thankfully, I have work tomorrow and I’ll have to have my wits about me again.

The funniest thing about this entire trip? I could have left both my SLR and my laptop at home considering how much I used either.



I’m just going to save myself thought and name every post India. Maybe.

I’ve been here three days now. The time is flying much like I thought it would. There has been pretty much no culture shock for me.
I still haven’t gotten quite used to an auto rickshaw (..which is this) driving us head on into a bus and turning at the last minute. There are no road rules here and everything is traffic chaos. From above it is like a beautiful choreographed dance, but it’s actually just traffic running entirely on human cunning and instinct.

It’s awesome.

Crossing the road is like Russian roulette! Life here is definitely bustling and insane-o.
However, none of it is new.

For the longest time I didn’t have much memory of India. My mother said it was due to the fact that young children that are suddenly jolted out of their comfort zone often have to adapt by forgetting what their past comforts are so they can survive in their new surroundings. Forgetting their previous environment to make emotional room for the new one…  It’s a psychological defense mechanism that I went through for a solid 18 years at least. I lost my ability to speak my language and any memories of my six years before I was forced to change countries, cultures, languages, and people. Even now I cannot speak even though I can fully understand the spoken language.

Lately, I’ve noticed many of my “lost” memories resurfacing. It’s been happening the last three years for the most part. Suddenly I’ll have a flashback of a moment in my past that I had no recollection of for nearly two decades. Now that I’m in India, it’s like the floodgates have opened. This did not happen to me the last time I was here. I start to remember faces and places and people and events from when I was so little.

A flower on the street sent a wave of memories awash in my mind this morning.
At the beauty parlour, the woman kept speaking to me in Tamil and suddenly the right words for responses fell together in my head. I didn’t have the guts to actually speak them because I was still surprised I had a mental grip on a sentence that made perfect sense. But there they were. Since then I’ve been formulating responses in my head to make sure this isn’t just a one-off thing. It’s not.

It’s been a trip. In more ways than one.
I was griping about how crazy this trip was, and how unplanned it was, and how I’d just be another foreigner to everyone.
But, as usual, it seems God had other plans. And as usual, they’re unexpected, yet necessary for the solid formation of who I am.

Oh yeah. Photos. :)

The first day I was here we went to a local sari shop and picked out a beautiful pink peacock feathered sari for me. I will have to post pictures of myself wearing it. I’ll just say at Rs.2000 it was a steal.

At another clothing shop, I picked up a few nice tops for a great price too. I am thoroughly amazed at how well Indians are at packing a place full of stock. This room is barely bigger than my bedroom but it houses an entire store, a few employees and a tiny fitting room.

Beautiful saris in every color:

Tomorrow, I hope to have time to post some images I took of everyday life for the working class on the streets. I’m hoping to also have some crazy video of the traffic antics I get to be driven in by the end of this week.

Also it’s totally like 75-90 degrees at night & day. I am loving it. It’s midnight here now so I’m just going to pop off to bed. Hope everyone in America is lovely. :)



I started noticing some random links appearing all over my pages and posts but ONLY in my RSS feed.
I did a little digging and it turns out my akismet plugin directory had been compromised.

Those sneaky bastards!

I like how they just added an ‘s’ at the end of some of the common files and hoped I wouldn’t notice.
The bad part is that the code, when executed, appends the spam links to the post_content field of the posts table.

FROM `*******_posts`
WHERE `post_content` LIKE ‘%<!– rk_%’

This junk returned like 500+ rows for me.


For a minute there I was sad that my photography site was in shambles (spambles?).  Then I remembered that I’m a software engineer.  OH YEAH.
I also remembered the wordpress community is so awesome, that if I did my research right I wouldn’t even need to use those finely honed skillz. /bloated head

One good thing is that the spam content follows a pattern so I knew my chances for success would be pretty good if I could use regular expressions. Did I mention HOW NERVOUS using regular expressions to update a database make me? (make backup, make another backup, and backup that backup).

I searched the plugin repository and came across the Search Regex plugin. It was a simple find and replace that allowed you to choose the right table and column and then search and replace. And it was conveniently integrated into wordpress so I could just do it from my phone if I didn’t have access to my development environment at home.

The format of the spam is as follows:

<!-- rk_czxV1dv1UTfErdQy65 --><div style="position:absolute;top:-234423px;left:-234423px;">
<li><a href="">An Affair to Remember movie dvd</a> </li>
<li><a href="">Tennessee movie review</a> </li>
</div><!-- /rk_czxV1dv1UTfErdQy65 -->


Well.., actually I’d never been spammed with tasteful spam before. Cary Grant movies?  Nice.

Thankfully I never put comments in my posts so this simple regular expression to single out any html style comment and everything inbetween caught it entirely.

I allowed the algorithm to be greedy (hence no ? after the * ) because the spammers conveniently programmed the attack so the spam sits right at the bottom of the post content so I didn’t need to worry about eating any tags and content I wanted to keep.

Replace the matches with NOTHING, run, and BAM. You are spam free. :) Simple & effective.
Now go change your ftp passwords, your admin passwords, your database table prefixes and move your wp-config file out of your wordpress home directory and change your secret keys.

More tips for wordpress security can be found here.

I’ll be 100% honest. I have no idea where the exploit originated so I am only taking precautions against a still ambiguous enemy but I’m hoping this is the last of my spam attacks for a good long while.





I’ve cut back on so much this year.
I kind of want to go back to eating Fado & perusing cakes at Café Intermezzo.
I also want a Canon 5D Mk II (or it’s successor, by that time) and a few good pro lenses.
And a trip to another country doing something like the stuff on
I am sooo done with the house/suburbia phase of my life. :)


Hmm – Hiatus

My blog’s been experiencing some interesting side effects of certain malware. It’s taking a little longer to cleanup than expected, but I should be up and running next week. thanks guys–