Archaic Standards of User Information Tracking, revisited.

Let’s start with the Salt Cup of things.

You’re likely reading this here on a less common gTLD, that is, You’ve seen all the dot-coms, dot-nets, dot-orgs, and the country codes in general, and now there’re these colorful new gTLDs, like .abogado (lawyers and law firms!), .dog (downward facing — oh, wait, that’s .yoga; this one’s just a good one), .soy (I am!), among many others.

For those of us who want our internet presences to reflect who we really are as a person, we might choose one of the newer generic Top Level Domains, like my choice of, or a yoga center going with their name and ending in .yoga.

However, there are businesses who use old, ancient as hell methods for user tracking and registration, either in the form of a legacy script that someone cribbed off HotScripts, or some other not-updated way to see if an email address might exist, or, of course, linking registrations inexorably to a single email address.

So for a person who might’ve registered something back when all they could have and know was a Google Mail or America Online email address, but then wants to move on to their custom email with that company, it’s nigh impossible.

It’s 2021. This really should not be the norm. In a company’s database, a global unique ID could easily have been generated for the user, divorcing the concept of “the email address is the only way” from “oh hey, new digs? Nice! I’ll update my address book.”

To wit, I’ve been able to change a lot of email addresses today, from the two major theaters in the area (Thank you, Regal and Cinemark), to one of my grocery store accounts (Good work, FredMeyer!), the US Postal Service, and Monoprice.

Where things fell short, of course, were with businesses like Subway, who insists that they can’t update my email address (so I nuked my account, not like I eat there anyway) and World Market, who can’t get it straight. So I’m waiting for that account to go away.

It’s a frustration, but one borne of wanting to close up several unfulfilling holes.

Personal Rant

There are gTLDs, developers.

Bloody act like it.

A screenshot from the website, actual email redacted, showing the “Please enter a valid email address with ‘@’ and ‘.'” message.

This starts a rant about Cost Plus World Market, and many other websites that requests your email address, but uses some archaic, distressingly not-updated method of determining if the email address might or might not be valid.

As you can see, this post happens to be sitting on a domain,; I have email addresses to match, because I don’t want to look like the common at-google-reads-your-correspondences-dot-com pleb.

I recently lamented that I wanted to do away with my last .us domain, because Registry Services (the NIC behind .US) disallows WHOIS cloaking. This means anyone who wants to run a simple whois can see your actual information that’s on file with the registrar. That includes phone numbers, physical addresses, and legal name.

ICANN requires the information to be on file and accurate, but a registrar (like the fine folks at Porkbun 😊) can use a service to protect users from nosy turdoshits who try incredibly dangerous tactics with real info, while still making an abuse@ contact available (for things like DMCA violations and their ilk). As example, my primary registrar offers information on how to report abuse.

Right now, I have a handful of things I still have pointed at that .us domain that I still use and/or need, but cannot move them away to my .blue domain. This becomes irritating, as I’m going to end up paying for another year of the .us domain while I plot a way around this.

I reached out to World Market a couple of months back, because I couldn’t change my email address. After a bunch of back and forth, I was told a ticket was opened to get my issue of changing my email address on file sorted out.

It’s October.

My .US domain is up for renewal in a few weeks.

There’s been no response or changes, and I still cannot change my email address.

For a company with a name like World Market, this is not very worldly of them.

I get to renew a .US domain that I don’t want. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Personal Pharmaceutical Benefits Management Rant

The Pharmaceutical Desert grows…

So, I’ve been getting messages from Bi-Mart over the past few days, telling me that they are withdrawing from the pharmacy business, and transferring all of their pharmacy works to Walgreens.

Yes. The folks at the corner of We’re Seriously Overworked and We’re Going To Make A Critical Mistake.

As the title alludes, this is a problem, as it increases the size of an already growing pharmaceutical desert, caused in part by employer health plans funneling through a pharmaceutical benefits manager that mandates the use of a specific pharmacy chain.

As example, I’m only allowed to use either mail order pharmacy, which has its own set of woes I’ve touched on, or Walgreens for any of my maintenance medicines. When I last truly dug in on it, I didn’t own a car: I was dependent on public transportation, either by city bus, taxi or ride hailing, or booking a paratransit trip to and from, which leads to its own set of problems, or cycling to and from the pharmacy when the weather was decent and I felt good enough to handle the trek. Sometimes, a housemate would also be going to the pharmacy, and I could catch a ride with them.

The current pandemic has dug its hooks in deep, changing the overall landscape of everything around us.

Those of us who are trying to follow the plausible rules of distancing, wearing some type of useful face cover that mitigates aerosolization of our own saliva, keeping our hands clean and out of our faces, and staying the f🌕k at home like the book suggests?

It’s becoming harder, as we have to choose between queuing at the local pharmacy with others, or wondering if our damn insulin or testing supplies might make it in today’s mail.

To remove an entire chain of pharmacies during a pandemic smacks of a lack of social responsibility to others, but also feels like it was caused by the continued erosion of a client base by the dumpster fires of pharmaceutical benefit management companies.

It does not help that employers go into their PBM use seemingly blinded by the “Hey, this works, and we’ll save money, right?” approach, missing the blackcurrants for the giant forest fire raging around them.

Let’s talk about the difficulty of getting a blood glucometer on my insurance benefit that I just had to go through:

For once, I am less angry at Express Scripts than I am at Walgreens: the folks I spoke with at E-S were professional, on point, and were very quick to confirm that yes, I can certainly have a finger stick glucometer in addition to my current CGM, because treatment decisions for a low or a high should be meted against blood, not interstitial fluid.

My doctor’s office could and should have asked me which pharmacy to send the glucometer request to (and should’ve listened to the entirety of the data I provided, another story), but they sent it to Walgreens.

I went to pick that up right after work when it was requested and I was notified it was ready.

I parked the car after negotiating garbage tier traffic through a busy segment at 5 pm to get there. As I approach the doors to the Walgreens, there’s a sign on the door indicating that they are only distributing prescriptions through the drive-through, and that the counter to walk up is closed.

I don’t like this one bit, so I get back into the car, and go to drive around to the drive-thru.

A view of the drive-thru at Walgreens.

This is what greeted me, though there was actually one more vehicle here prior to my photo. The queue is poorly designed, forcing me to sit back at a stop sign to allow folks to get out of the drive-thru; there are two other cars not pictured at this juncture on the forward side, and the queue grew by three cars behind me while I waited for this mass to actually not move for ten minutes.

I got frustrated enough that I left, drove over to the sanity-saving FredMeyer because it was about six in the evening, and bought a glucometer out of pocket solely because I really needed one, and I wasn’t willing to spend an hour in line in my car alternating between the clutch and the brake. I just wanted to check my blood sugar, get something to eat, and call it an evening.

Imagine my surprise when I get to FredMeyer, and there’s one person in line at the pharmacy, waiting. Me. Because the only other person getting pharmaceuticals was already being taken care of, and the glucometers are sitting out where any diabetic in need can pick one up.

In appropriate fashion, as I’m being checked out, I thanked the pharmacy tech for being there.

The line at your competition is so long that it would benefit me to buy a glucometer out of pocket so I can check my numbers. I’ve got a wonky sensor and need to check. Thank you for being here and so quick.

– Jayel

They had been hearing the horror stories all day, it seems.

Here’s a food for thought moment as I wrap back to an earlier statement: What if I didn’t have a car and needed to pick up prescriptions? What the hell is that pharmacy doing in those situations? Are they footing the bill for a person to call a cab or hail a rideshare and sit in the drive-thru just to get something they needed to take?

“But Xial, Walgreens delivers prescriptions, too,” I can hear someone arguing in the most nasal of tones.

No, Walgreens does not deliver, if you’re looking for something to be done in a timely manner. I tried to have their home delivery bring me my meds, none of which are controlled substances: they’re my injectables for maintaining my blood glucose. I wasn’t out at time of order — two weeks’ worth on hand, minimum. 10 days after ordering showed no order movement, so the mail order tech basically tells me I should go in to a store for my meds.

It’s all madness and turtles, all the way down.

So, once more, for the crowd in the back:

PBMs cause neighborhood damage by funneling clients away from smaller pharmacies, to large national chains. This often takes away those jobs and livelihoods, containerizing money into the hands of an elite few, who are already buddies with the elite few of the PBM. They sail yachts together.

As the funneling continues, we start to see growth of the pharmaceutical desert, growing to be on par with the already existing food deserts.

I would wonder if someone has done the research to see how much of the pharmaceutical desert affects populations of minorities: how often are their local pharmacies disappearing, forcing them to travel miles and miles away just to get their medicines, or hope they’ll arrive this week in the mail?

That’s food for thought.

Personal Update

Depress the clutch, release the clutch.

Just a short one, this time.

I’m learning how to drive a manual transmission car, by way of being blessed with one recently.

I’m doing reasonably well with the concept, and with further thought, I think that if I ever need to buy another car and it’s not all electric, I could buy a stick now, and not feel hopelessly lost. I stall much less than I used to, and have only ground the gears once, where I thought I had the clutch depressed but had let go too soon.

Not so bad for someone who has never successfully driven a manual transmission until just recently. 🙂

Next on the list: spark plugs, wiper blades, and possibly some of those LED DRLs with flowing turn signal lights.

Personal Rant Update

A ponderance on new hosting digs…

Well… I’m starting to ponder a change of hosting.

In theory, I could move most of my stuff to my recently configured Scaleway Stardust instance, as I’m using it to learn Caddy. Caddy has been extra easy, thus far, though I am not sure how I would handle the equivalent of Apache’s mod_rewrite rules, which I’ve been used to over time and appreciate the clean URLs.

But, there’s also a couple of other things floating around that I would like to flush away.

Namely, I have one .US domain, from back when I loved particularly did not mind registering them. It was the past, where WHOIS privacy was a paid thing that no-one who is a hobbyist could afford, and so any domain basically revealed your real, personal information.

Eventually, registrars started offering WHOIS cloaking, making it much harder for people to just casually throw a command at a terminal or wander off to a search engine to find out someone’s real world address, phone number and so on.

EXCEPT for .US domains. Those are not allowed the protection and privacy that the WHOIS cloaks were providing, so if one were determined enough to go searching, they can get too much information about someone with near zero effort!

I really don’t like that. At all.

So I largely stopped using that domain for major and even minor things. I’m working my way through email, seeing my way through changing anything that used the .US domain for login to use my .blue domain which kindly gives me that layer of privacy. Something that doesn’t casually say “Here’s Xial’s home address in its entirety, along with phone number. Have fun!”

Because I know someone’s going to think it: Be a person that’s part of a marginalized community. You value what modicum of a barrier betwixt you and the world that you can get. If it means adding a step or twelve between a casual WHOIS search and where I live, of course I’m going to do it.

That said, as I start all of this, I’m also considering whether I want to continue with my current webhost, who thinks that instead of properly emailing clients that they have a working relationship, the client should subscribe to their blog that they post these things in…

I’ve seen every damn status issue, as opposed to issues tailored specifically to my shared hosting server. It’s like being asked to clean out a tiny janitor closet, but when you open the door, there’s a 12,000 square foot warehouse on the other side. I don’t need all of that, and seeing everything instead of a custom stream starts to remove the inspiration of confidence that once was held.

Candidly, it makes me miss the days I was on Surpass Hosting. If I could afford them again, I’d go back, believe me. But here’s that hobbyist thing sticking its head up again — my websites are just my blog and little hobby-work I’ve done, and they don’t make me money.

Hell, even when I’ve monetized the occasional Amazon link, like when I told people that discounted Amazon Prime is a thing if you have EBT, and added proper disclosures that I may receive compensation to said links, I am lucky to even get anything. Whether it’s because it’s stripped off by some random bigger thing, or who knows? I just know I don’t make money off my sites. It’s just a hobby, and keeping hobby costs reasonable (especially in the face of my vanity domain habit) is a thing I have to try for.

So, I’m starting my search early, trying to find a host that is reasonably priced for a hobbyist, isn’t going to get it twisted over a drawn image gallery that includes a small amount of adult-oriented art, offers a reasonable amount of storage (~20 GB), absolutely will let me SSH in to work on things because that’s what I’m seriously used to, and lets me point my domains there for email purposes as well.

This will be a journey, but hopefully nowhere near as rough as the shit I went through with Bigfoot Hosting a bit back.

Let’s go. 🌙

Life Personal

A reflection upon the past, part two.

Where I last left off in writing, I had just managed to secure transitional housing at a men’s shelter after being rendered homeless by my family.

I start part two with a bold, honest statement:

I do not, in the slightest, fault or begrudge my aunt for the action she took which rendered me unhoused.

If anything, she did me the biggest favor possible, by teaching me fear, combined with a lack of complacency. It sounds a strange thing to thank someone for, but, had she not kicked me as hard as she did when she did, I’d probably still be working some absolute dead-end of a job, living with family, and not trying my absolute hardest to show the world that I am more than what they make of me by looking skin deep.

I won’t say that my near two years in the transitional housing program was a cakewalk, not in the slightest, but it did teach me a series of lessons that basically made me much stronger and significantly more resilient to bullshit.

I learned how to make every cent stretch further than it might’ve had any right to stretch. Whether it was couponing, truly shrugging off the purchase of name brand items, watching the papers for sales that I could stack… These lessons took me through all of that time in the shelter, making my paychecks last longer, putting funds away so I could eventually afford a deposit to pay for a place to stay.

I also had to learn to tolerate a shared living environment consisting entirely of strangers that I shared no blood relation to. This was what took the most initial adjustment, both in the downstairs main shelter, and up in the transitional housing program.

For the most part, it was not too hard to adjust, as people largely kept to themselves, might say hello, how you doin’, but otherwise just kept their heads to the grind.

The more talkative ones would try to get to know you, and maybe make a friend or two in the shelter, someone that would keep an eye open for you and your stuff. This is how I met several people that I would eventually call friends or at least acquaintances.

It was in this shelter that I met a guy who would become my housemate. He enjoyed playing bass guitar and smoking. Tobacco, weed, didn’t matter. We both ended up being victims of someone going through our shit in the shelter and stealing things. Both of us had scrounged up enough cash to each buy an Xbox360, so we could have our own thing for entertainment when we weren’t working. Both of our 360s went missing in the shelter.

Much, much later, we would find out that it was one of the staff members that we were asked to trust that was going through our lockers and stealing things that were valuable enough to be resold.

I just hope that whoever bought my 360 off the guy got their pound of flesh because I reported it stolen to the police, and to Microsoft, so the console would be banned from Live. 🙂 After all, I was compulsive in recording serial numbers.

Prior to the rampant theft, along with several other guys, we became decent friends, and on weekends, would gather out in the upstairs hallway with a few TVs and a monitor, and play Call of Duty 3 together. They hated me for my tactic, but couldn’t deny it worked: I would always pick the rocket launcher, which carried two shots. If I didn’t decimate you with the shot from the launcher, I’d club you like a baby seal with the weapon, guaranteeing a kill.

Look. It was a valid tactic. It got me a good number of kills over time.

Eventually, though, I had pulled together enough for a deposit, a month’s rent, and some incidentals that was needed, as had he, and we found an apartment together in North Tampa.

We were both working, had decent working history, references from the transitional housing program we were in, showing that we always paid our rent on time and caused no trouble.

But this gets me into my first apartment. Shared, but it was a place I could say was home, without family around.

At that point, I had been in the call center world for a couple of years, still liking what I did, knowing I was helping people with their computer stuff and being paid for it.

With the move to North Tampa, it added a lot of travel time to my day. Hours of my personal day were consumed by traveling by bus. I stayed too far away to just cycle to work, unlike my housemate, who could just burn it down the road on his bike and back. This also preceded the age of commonly available electric bicycles, so my options were to either buy a car (too expensive!), or find a 49.5cc gas powered scooter.

I bought a scooter. Fat enby on a tiny Wildfire scooter. Yep. But I got to work in 30 minutes at top speed. Now my commute’s just an hour round trip, compared to 75 minutes one way on the bus. It lasted a year or so, but $500 spent is TONS saved, both in time and money.

I ended up buying another 49.5cc scooter, a Verucci VC-50-FS 4S. Much larger scooter, as befit an enby of my size at the time.

I stayed with that company for nearly seven years, over a number of contracts, through good economy and bad, finding out I had diabetes and adjusting to the change in lifestyle and diet that was required…

There was just a lot that we’re fast forwarding through, because much of it deserves its own story.

Personal Update


The one thing that gets me about open source projects is that while many of them are becoming simpler, others are turning up the complication factor beyond a comfortable level.

Maybe this time… MAYBE… Maybe Lick the Blue Things will announce its presence on the Fediverse.


An attempt to fix things…

So, reviewing my plugins a little closer for WordPress, it appears the old way I was doing things for federating to Mastodon might have been long broken and had been fixed with different plugins that I had installed, but not set up.

I’ll know fairly soon if this works…

If so, hello, Fediverse. 🙂

Life Personal Update

A reflection upon the past, part one.

I really don’t talk about this one much, because it’s a story of a darker past. So, as fair note, beyond the cut, I talk a little about the time I spent unhoused in my twenties, along with the loss of family.

Content warnings: Cancer, Death, Homelessness, Depression, Anger, Mentions of substance abuse.

Personal Rant

Moving dislike of Walgreens from Passive to Active.

Who the fuck are you to tell me to just “not worry” about a separate discount card that my medical practice suggested I use for a new medicine?

Sure, it might “only” save me $15 on this refill, which you might think is inconsequential, but to me, that was also the cost of NEXT month’s refill and a most of the cost of a container of glucose tablets to have on hand.

Then again, this is the same pharmacist with a sour fucking attitude that I had to deal with on a previous visit, giving one of her fellow pharmacists shit over being asked to do something.

I wish I didn’t have to fucking deal with Walgreens when I wanted a local fill of my medicine, but when you have Distress Scripts, this is what you fucking get.