ACN, MLM, and Network Marketing

An article published by Politico about a lawsuit concerning that MAGAt rat’s endorsement of ACN scrolled by on my feed, today.

I remember when Pat, a friend since high school, tried to get me to “sell” for ACN in 2003. I wanted to learn more about what “network marketing” and “multi-level marketing” was before I would be willing to commit to it. For starters, you had to buy in for the “opportunity,” at $400ish for a kit.

It was quickly very obvious how fucked it was when it was explained that you needed to build your team (who also had to buy in), and your commissions were based on how many people you had per “leg” and they had in their “legs.”

A pyramid scheme.

The more my “friend” pushed me to decide to join the more resistant I became until I eventually refused and wanted nothing to do with someone that pushy and toxic over my own hesitation (there was a lot more history of toxic behavior that I overlooked up until that point over the years, but that was the final straw for me).

That turned to him trying to pull a wannabe tough-guy “sit down” chat while on a drive with me (dude was obsessed with The Sopranos) where he implied a threat to my life, and then eventually started leaving me threatening voice mails and comments on several Livejournal entries.

Friends since high-school, indeed.

Of course, IP addresses were recorded and they, the comments, and voice mails were forwarded to law enforcement. Naturally, nothing came of it but, needless to say, we are no longer friends and I found out earlier this year that he is recently deceased.

Lung cancer. He smoked like a chimney.

Rot In Pain, jerk off.

Photography and an Eye on Electronic Dance Music

Mizeyesis performing her birthday set at elements, a weekly drum and bass night held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA.

I was approached by Ryan Eisele a week or so ago about licensing a photo of Mizeyesis that I took while she performed her birthday set at elements, a weekly drum-and-bass event held at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA., for a pandemic interview series. The website is a newly launched community resource, and is centered on an electronic dance music community calendar.

I thought it was important to make sure that the licensed photo had the best possible edit I could create, compared to the earlier edit, so I made sure that the final version remained true to the original photo while bringing out greater detail in the lighting and LED screen in the background, highlighting (har har!) Mizeyesis’ hair, and balancing a touch more warmth with subtle vibrancy to her skin tones. The final version I sent out is high-resolution and un-compromised by Facebook’s brutal compression.

(I still didn’t use Photoshop to do it. 😀)

Thank you, Ryan! I am grateful and humbled by your outreach and am glad we could work something out that helps to support all three parties involved.

United States Declaration of Independence

By original: w:Second Continental Congress; reproduction: William Stone - numerous, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=621811

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Georgia

Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

North Carolina

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts

John Hancock

Maryland

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia

George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania

Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross

Delaware

Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

New York

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

New Jersey

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple

Massachusetts

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery

Connecticut

Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton

My Photography and My Mental Health

Time for some mental health talk.

For starters, I can assure you that, no, I am not a danger to myself or others.

I was diagnosed with bipolar II a few years ago. It’s a combination of hypomania (mania-lite) and major depression (Depression, Xtreme Edition!). What made it very apparent was a combination of two factors. There was noticeable pattern in posts from my old Livejournal account where I would write about how great everything was, have lots of quick posts, and a flurry of activity for a month or so and then, suddenly, posts about how horrible I felt, how down I was, and how much I was withdrawing. There was never any “trigger” for it and no event that I could point to as the direct cause of the swing. It just happened. There’s about ten years of activity that got documented, and the up and down pattern is very distinct.

The second factor that came into play was my growing photo library. At the time I was using Apple’s Aperture to collect and organize photos. I think I was accidentally in a “Vew by Month” setting, where each month had the total number of images listed. Some months were really busy, with hundreds of images (sometimes thousands) and other months were drastically different with maybe a few dozen images at best, and zero images at worst.

What connected it all and made bipolar II an inescapable conclusion and diagnosis was realizing that the same exact pattern existed in my Livejournal account. For giggles, I compared the two side-by-side and the up and down pattern — the floods of activity followed by long periods of very little to no activity — lined up perfectly.

Photography has really been the one thing I could always fall back on through these ups and downs.

About 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed the hypomania was coming back. It’s the part of bipolar II where I suddenly look to any nearby observer as if I am suddenly back to feeling like “my old self” again. Sometimes, it feels like I am REALLY caffeinated. I grow more outgoing, talkative and animated as I talk, restless and wanting to do stuff. It doesn’t matter what, it’s just an intense urge to do something, anything.

It also never lasts long. The depressive swing came back a couple of days ago. There’s never a point where I can say I am at a baseline “normal,” that anything above it is “hypomanic” and anything below it is “depressive.” It’s just feeling highly caffeinated for about a month followed by a sudden and immediate drop to immensely depressed for months on end that gets interrupted a sudden spike in energy for about a month, and the cycle continues.

There is never a specific trigger.

Mix all that with cPTSD and a non-specific dissociative disorder (I am de-realized most of the day), and you get me: at best, a weirdly entertaining combination of Chidi and Jason Mendoza at best or an incredibly misanthropic shut-in who wants nothing to do with the world for months on end because People, at worst.

My brain is fun…

Walking the Arborway in Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA

Photo by Emmanuel Nalli on Pexels.com

I was walking the Arborway in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, a couple of years ago, and tried my hand at photographing something, anything, other than people. It turns out that sometimes flowers and trees can be more difficult to photograph than people. At least people can occasionally take direction, while plants will do their own damned thing, especially on a surprisingly breezy day.

I don’t typically use Photoshop, a discipline I picked up when I was an local news intern photographer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, but I wanted to isolate the rhododendron itself and punch it out onto a plain white background and test out my editing prowess because I thought it would make a suitable graphic for a variety different products.

image of rhododendron against plain white background copyright adrian feliciano @ adrianfeliciano.com
Rhododendron at the Arborway in Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA.
© 2019 Adrian Feliciano / adrianfeliciano.com

The heavy lifting was done with the free version of the Topaz Plugin Suite. It’s definitely not my usual image, and the entire process was a little outside my comfort zone, but I am happy with how it turned out.

What do you think?

Website Redesign, Part Four

It’s been a little while since my last update, but very little has changed since then. The backend is, for the most part, about where I want it in terms of extensions, plugins, and functionality. Sluggish or conflicting plugins have been torn out whenever an issue crops up. They have been either substituted with better alternatives or I’ve learned to make do without that particular functionality. Less is more, right?

I’m pretty happy with the website backup functionality I have set up, once it all fell into place properly. Besides using Dreamhost’s usual rolling 2 weeks worth of daily backups, I have a backup that takes place once a week that is pushed offsite, and another offsite backup solution that occurs daily and anytime I make a change to the site. It also scans the backups for any malware or security issues, etc.

Except for the current theme, and with a few minor differences, this website is now mostly using the same set up I am using for my web-shop over at American Bogan™ which is also now running on WordPress, by the way.

I may pick a different theme and re-arrange things after a while. Between theme juggling and vacillating between keeping the blog as the homepage, making the About page the homepage, or just building a dedicated homepage, I’m clearly just wallowing in my normal over-pickiness and really should just relax about it, right?

So I guess this is it. After all this techy talk and random political rants, whodathunk that this was actually a photography blog run by a portrait and event photographer in the Boston area, right?

Moving forward, there should be no more major changes to this website, and I can start concentrating on posting about photography and showing off photos I’ve taken to all of you!

Website Redesign, Part Three

I think that I am, for the most part, done with major changes to this website. After Part Two, I created an About page to act as a a quick-and-dirty photography portfolio. I like the built-in block patterns that Twenty Twenty-One has, so I used them to build three sections to highlight the boudoir, portrait, and fire performer photography parts of my portfolio. I may change it around a little more, down the road, but it stays for now.

I am un-decided on if I should make the About page the homepage of this website and put the blog on its own separate page or keep it the way it is. Frankly, I kinda like it this way, but I am not fully sold on it. I guess that until I decide for certain, it can stay in this format with the blog stream front-and-center. It feels very Livejournal in that way, and I miss LJ.

On the back-end, the biggest change was that I removed Jetpack completely. It may or may not be a bloated mess, depending on who you listen to, but it tends to trigger a lot of processes behind the scenes that can bring this website to its knees quickly, if I am not careful while mucking around on the backend and don’t want to bump up to the next managed WordPress account tier just for the extra resources to be made available.

A fairly rudimentary website with a blog and a small print-on-demand merchandise shop’s backend shouldn’t need that kind of heavy resource allocation, especially when another website I built has an e-commerce shop and Jetpack running on a basic shared-hosting account, right?

I also pulled out an abandoned-cart plug-in that I had been using for a little while. It was free, so it isn’t a financial issue, and it did do its job a year ago. Once. To be frank, I really have no need for any abandoned-cart functionality on a website that is primarily a photography-centric blog.

After some thought, I decided to place this website back behind Cloudflare, mostly to give an additional CDN layer that makes up for removing Jetpack, especially where serving images to your web-browsers are concerned. Anything that I can do to reduce the overall load on the servers while improving the security-posture at the same time is helpful.

It also helps that I included modifying some basic PHP settings so that I didn’t have processes running, or waiting, for a ridiculous amount of time and tying down available RAM unnecessarily. I also added some appropriate security headers to other files on the server.

My next challenge will be to migrate my main e-commerce shop away from Shopify to WordPress. I know I have written about it before, but the process is a bit daunting and sometimes I feel like my time is better spent elsewhere (like marketing?) whenever possible.

I may end up deciding to keep it where it is, even though the longer it remains the harder it will be to drop Shopify. *sigh*

Anyway, I should be done with 95-98% of the redesign as far as this website is concerned.

How do you like it?

Website Redesign, Part Two

Still slowly chipping away at this project. A couple of pages needed some light tweaking after changing to “Twenty Twenty-One” for consistency, but that was mostly it.

I’ve re-built my Contact page to fit the theme, re-wrote copy to hopefully sound a bit more approachable and with more of an authentic voice. Getting it to work after several test-emails and getting the form to fit the page well took some behind-the-scenes finagling. The Contact Form that I’d been using was part of SiteOrigin’s collection of modules and plugins that I removed so I needed to find a new one.

WP-Forms is commonly installed with most WordPress hosting. It’s basic and heavily spams with built-in ads for the other integrations they sell. Meh. I didn’t want to use Contact Form 7 as it tends to be a fairly heavy plug-in. The point of this project is to speed things up on the website, not slow them down. I also didn’t want to just use a clickable link to email with and open myself up to every email-scraping bot in existence.

Anyway, I think I found one that I like and it has some spam-protection so that should help with reducing the inevitable torrent of spam-via-contact-form emails. It also fits well with the “Twenty Twenty-One” theme.

Under the hood, I removed a couple of heavy plug-ins and either got rid of them completely or found lighter-weight versions to work with. For SEO related functionality, I looked over the following, and decided against them:

  • Yoast – Bloated and ad-heavy
  • Rank Math – Inconsistent

I’m using a somewhat lighter SEO framework, in keeping with the simplicity and efficiency I am aiming for. So far, so good.

Speaking of buggy plugins, I removed Pixel Caffeine as it was causing random crashes that led to heavy slow-downs when editing a blog-post. I don’t really know if it is worth using Facebook’s Pixel on this particular site anyway, as it doesn’t really use Facebook Re-targeting Ads. More important to me is that after making these changes on the back-end, editing and updating seem a lot snappier than it had been for a few months.

And now I’ve got a better Contact Page as a result!

Adventures in Technology

Sooooooo, I had re-arranged some cables, and positioning, and the peripherals that were plugged into my Thunderbolt 3 dock the other day (to be faiiiiiiiiiiiir…), and noticed today that my MackBook Pro was not charging.

I have optimized battery management set up and know that it can hover around 80% charge before charging back up fully again. I rarely use it off the power adapter because I use the external hard drives very extensively to organize and back up my porn collection, er, my Lightroom catalog, as one does.

All day, I watched its charge slowly lowering past 80%. I reset NVRAM, and SMC, as normally suggested. Kept dropping over time to 60%.

Looked up how to force MacOS to charge the battery while connected to TB3. An existing option to force charge didn’t exist — it requires the Mac to be plugged into a power adapter.

The Mac was plugged into its TB3 cable as normal. Hard drives were fully accessible. Everything was fine.

At 32% charge I gave up and looked at the TB3 dock to make sure everything was plugged in tightly. Everything was fine, apparently, EXCEPT the TB3 cable. I had re-plugged it into the dock’s second TB3 port the other day — the data port and not the host port that is clearly labeled “Computer” which provides, among other things, 87 watts of power.

So, to conclude this episode of Adrian’s Technology Brain Farts, I plugged the cable into the correct port on the dock and my laptop is now charging normally.

I’m a dummy.

Website Redesign, Day One

Gutting the Website

So far, I am enjoying my photography website’s re-design project. I’ve removed about a dozen plugins and replaced them with smaller, leaner options; removed the Astra theme, deleted all the categories and tags for the blog, menus, widgets in the footer, deleted different pages (Contact, About, etc) and I deleted the SiteOrigin page-builder and it’s many modules.

New Foundation

Instead of using a different page-builder, I’m opting to stick with Gutenberg and it’s block-based system for both the blog and building various pages. Mostly for simplicity’s sake, partially for the challenge, and partially to remove page-builder bloat.

I also decided to go with the default 2021 WordPress theme as the baseline. Colors are pleasing, typography is gorgeous, content is big and bold, it all looks great on a big screen or smartphone, and it does not have a lost of bloat.

Sensing a theme here?

The Plan Moving Forward

Ultimately, I am looking to build this site into a photography-blog centered website but one that still has room for me to write about things as I will. I’m a photographer, but also I am a human being with a lot to say that doesn’t necessarily fit Facebook.

The blog will be the focus, the rest of the site will be built around it.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below and I hope you all enjoy this re-designing journey with me!