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Wizard World Philly 2016 Review

UPDATE: The mom of the Empress of Fantasia who saved the whole Wizard World Philly for me (skip to the end to read this story) found this blog post and sent me a picture! Here she is!!!


I woke up today to find this tweet, from The Empress Mum:

YAY! Ok, Cosplay community. You won this one! Back to the original post:


My late-elementary age son and I went to the last day of a comic and character convention in Philadelphia. We went in as total n00bs.

We came out as… total n00bs.

For the most part, our trip was just “meh.” Skip to the end if you want to read about one shining pinpoint of light I experienced at Wizard World Philly 2016.



Our first mistake was going on the last day, probably. Not as many cosplayers as I expected and the excitement was just not there.

Our second mistake was quite erroneously thinking we could grab a glimpse of wrestler John Cena, even though we weren’t paying $80 for a signature and another $85 for a picture. Just a glimpse of him IRL would’ve been good for my kid. But the big name stars were curtained off, literally, in square cubes on one side of the convention floor, and there were no panels that day (not that my kid would sit through them anyway). The signatures section covered an entire third of the whole convention area and the lines were oppressive.

My personal third mistake was thinking I could get my kid to participate in any of the fun kids stuff planned for Sunday at the con.

Our fourth total-n00b mistake was not bringing a gaming controller. There were rows upon rows of consoles and screens to set up to allow for people to sample games, but one was supposed to know to bring their own xbox/gaming console controller. No controller rentals (uh, someone could make a killing on this) and no vendors selling any (again, WTF?). There was someone lending one or two controllers but they were all out.

The fifth mistake is a general ignorance of how much I don’t know about the comic book world. I thought I knew a good bit, but guess what: I do not. My knowledge was at least 50% deficient than it needed to be to understand all the references. IMG_6459

Here are some mistakes I think the con made:

  1. No information at all for n00bs. None. It’s as if they didn’t even want us there. I didn’t get any prior information about the gaming controllers, or what to expect, what to look for, how to find the panel rooms, or where the con entrance was on the map (I could’ve saved a bundle on parking if I knew the entrance was going to be where it was). There was no food guide or rules or even an intro to the comic book scene or who to look for in the booth areas.
  2. The whole curtained-off celebrities thing is a huge mistake, especially on the one day you let kids in free (kids under 10 were free for all the days). Seeing others getting their picture taken with a star would only encourage more sales. Covering them up is so stupid. And mean.
  3. Multiple announcements happening simultaneously. A (recorded?) con announcement was often spoken over by a live one. It was enough to send the most chill, non-ocd person into a seizure, and I had no idea what any of them said.
  4. Security was awful. I witnessed security personnel start walking in the opposite direction when people approached them. And why does a huge event like this, which costs $51 a person for entry, need armies of unpaid volunteers? Not even minimum wage temp workers? Still, the volunteers were more helpful than the paid security people.
  5. As always, no seating in the exhibitor area. Why do conventions do this? I could also talk about how having no seating, not even adjacent to (very overpriced!) food concessions, should be a code violation, but whatever. The Philadelphia Flower Show is also crap for seating. It’s just not worth spending 5 hours on your feet or having to sit on a disgusting floor.
  6. Allowing the vendors with cars/scenes to photograph to chase away people that just want a pic without posing with the car adds to the scam-alert feeling.

INFO-FACTO: After-the-fact reconnaissance

When I was back home, I dug around the interwebz for some knowledge on Wizard World and comic conventions in general. Were all cons this much of a rip-off? How much do these celebrities make? Is it necessary to curtain off the signing areas? How long is the interaction with the celebrity? Who are the people who go to cons?

Wizard World seems to be taking some hits in the con blogs for not focusing on comics and comic creation any more. Their focus has changed to these celebrity cattle lines and giving more floor space to big gaming companies. Quite a few blogs written by comics fans ripped Wizard World new buttholes over this. Apparently the true Comic Con (for fans of comic books & media they spawn) is dead. It’s all about the $ now.

The celebrity earning potential differs widely. Top names can get an appearance fee in the low 6 digits. Most actors get much less than that, and some actors would never come to a comic con. Big names usually only show up if one or more of their co-stars do. Other actors are paid out of signature and picture fees. Sometimes the celebrities are guaranteed an amount they can make from those fees; i.e., if not enough of their fans show up and buy pics and signings, the con producers will cover the difference.

The dark and undignified stories of D-list and forgotten-or-never-famous actors are not pleasant reading. I suggest you skip it, if you are conducting your own Googling. Here’s the summary: interacting with (or even just passing the table of) some of these “stars” can be downright painfully cringe-inducing.


Costumes (aka cosplays [cos -as in costume- plays]) on Sunday were donned by about 8% of attendees (lots of t-shirts, small touches, abound). Some were super fun. I still felt a little shy about stopping people to grab pics, though.

In my recon mission online later that night, I learned that the cosplay world is a pretty tight culture. I found a ton of mentions of internet trolling craziness happening with someone named Denise and her husband. They love cosplayers and they love them at their booth at cons, but someone said they didn’t love cosplayers. ??? I don’t know. There was some major dust-up.

The in-fighting isn’t a ringing endorsement for the culture. I’m quite an avid costume fan/constructor.The Bowser costume I made for my kid when he was 4 (along with Princess Peach, for me) were pretty kickass to make and wear, I must admit. But after Wizard World and gathering this info, I’m turned off from participating. The costume/accessories booths at the con had some hard, hard selling vendors. (It reminded me of writing conventions. The writing world is a racket that preys on hopefuls. I’ll write about that another time). IMG_5226

As I was standing in line for a $12 tiny serving of french fries, I was giving up on Wizard World as a total money-sucking scheme. I was almost resigned to turn my back on it forever. Until a tiny little spark of hope was bestowed upon me.


Just then, I noticed passing by me a ~9-year-olfantasiaqueend girl dressed as the child queen of Fantasia in the movie The Neverending Story. Her costume was PERFECT. I didn’t have time to snap a pic (because she was in a hurry!), but just look up the movie stills. The costume was an exact replica. I recognized her right away, despite not having viewed the movie in years. When I asked her if she was from Neverending Story, she nodded.

Then something magical happened.


The “grain of sand” The Empress gave me in the palm of my hand. I may wire-wrap it and wear it on a chain to remind me to always keep the spark of imagination and hope with me.

This little Queen Empress of Fantasia held out her delicate little alabaster-white hand. In it, she was holding something to give me. Instinctually I held out my palm. This little princess of imagination then puts a small little pink crystal in my hand! Just like the grain of sand the Empress gives Bastian in the last few scenes of the movie!

In that instant, I totally understood the draw of comic conventions, cosplaying, and fan fiction. The line between what is “real” and what isn’t blurred, right there in front of me, and it was thrilling!

For the hour or so we stayed at Wizard World after that, I wasn’t so shy about asking for pictures. Some we took are below. The old guy dressed as Mermaid Man from Sponge Bob wins for the day.

Will we visit another con again? Not sure. The kid wants to cosplay, so we’ll see.IMG_6474

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Tribune changes its name to TRONC

I feel like we’ve been punked… or tronked… Media giant Tribune is now TRONC. People are reading it as one word, but I see “TRON C.” An actual tagline from the movie works:

Trapped inside an electronic arena, where love, and escape, do not compute!

Here’s a poster to go with it:




A woman from my town I haven’t crossed paths with in years showed up on my LinkedIn profile this past week. Usually when that happens, the person needs contacts, of which I have quite a few. I typically send a greeting email with an offer to help if needed.

Her response, let’s say, was shockingly less than friendly. But I see it as a real gift. I’ll tell you why in a minute.


Here was her response to my greeting and offer to help (copy and pasted from LinkedIn):

“I must admit I look on your page occasionally trying to figure out what kind of work you do. At times, I just don’t understand how you comment on the business world when you don’t work in it.”

Zing! This woman thinks I don’t work, and she thinks that people who don’t work shouldn’t write articles about workplace issues.

I was caught a little off-guard, because before this I was trying to make polite small talk, which went unnoticed. I said I understood her confusion, because recently I emptied out my LinkedIn profile (too many recruiters), we’re in different industries, I work from home, etc etc. I then asked her, “Why the hostility?”

She answered:

“I certainly don’t mean hostility toward you but I must admit I have read many of your articles about workplace matters. I wonder what makes you feel qualified to express your ideas and opinions. You don’t work. You don’t have a boss. You don’t meet deadlines or try for promotions. You don’t balance working, managing a home and caring for your children yet you convey to your readers that you do. I agree there is an art to it and it’s nice for those involved to share ideas and lend support. I’m sorry, I just feel you do [sic] qualify.” (She corrected this to “don’t”).

Here’s the key line: “I wonder what makes you feel qualified to express your ideas and opinions.” I seem to recall my mother saying this same exact thing to me when I was 6!


Wow, though, right? This is one of those times where it’s obvious the speaker is way out in left field. Because even if we assume she’s correct in her assumptions that I’m an idle rich woman with no work experience or cares in the world, where is it written that a grown woman isn’t qualified to express ideas or opinions? Plus, if one doesn’t see a thought leader as legitimate, then one usually moves on to sources they trust. Something else must be going on here.

We could analyze and make guesses on this woman’s motivation behind her statements but at the end of the day, none of what she said applies to me. Why not? Because I know it doesn’t. Heck. A simple Google search would demonstrate it doesn’t. But that isn’t the point.

The real point is this: Resistance comes in many forms, and being accused of being an impostor is one of the strongest delivery methods of resistance. Very few of us are gifted with such a straight-forward example of resistance. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to remind us all to watch out for Impostor Syndrome, that fear of being “found out” as a poser. Now you can see what it is, in a real-life example, to be called an Impostor. 

See? That’s the worst it gets! Am I dead? No. Am I aching to explain myself to this person? No. Do I even think it applies to me? No!


I want you to take this example of a real-life Impostor Accusation on as your own. Pretend this woman said it to you. How will you respond? How will your heart feel? Is you soul sucked away? Are you enraged? Do you vow revenge? Or do you choose to see it as a moment of struggle for someone else? Perhaps this woman meant to hurt me. But it takes two to make hurt, doesn’t it? It takes two to make an Imposter. Don’t give in your half.

Remember these things about Impostor Syndrome:

Number one:

What people say/do has nothing to do with you. Let me repeat: 

It has nothing to do with you. 

I know this is a tough one to understand. You decide what is relevant to you. This woman is feeling something totally unrelated to my credentials. Perhaps it has to do with me personally, but more likely, it has to do with her own self. I don’t know what her issue is, nor do I hazard a guess. But I have my own measures of legitimacy and I’m more than qualified to write articles about workplace issues on Linkedin. 🙂 And frankly, she doesn’t affect my life at all, so there’s nothing I need to do to address her delusions.

Number two:

This is the most important thing to remember about Impostor Syndrome: 

Let Resistance come from the outside. 

When it comes, learn from it or let it bounce off you. NEVER deliver resistance to yourself. “Impostor Syndrome” is a devil that is waiting to plant seeds of doubt. Don’t let it in your heart. Never tell yourself you can’t. Never tell yourself you aren’t “allowed.” You can. And you are.


Want to learn more in-depth about Impostor Syndrome and how it applies to you?

Morgan Clark TalkHave a look at the slides and video of a couple of brilliant millennials I know. Briana Morgan and Amanda Clark are two professionals, quite marginalized by their youth and gender, who have some deep insights and wisdom to share about Impostor Syndrome. 


**** WATCH THIS: Video of the slides and talk at Philadelphia Area New Media Association held at Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania


Mask photo by ven y siente… on Flickr

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Content writing for the web at times hijacks one’s thoughts. It’s fun, really, going down some strange tangential streets.

Today I was writing a blog post for a client about attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to gardens. Amongst my internet wanderings, I learned that butterflies like a genus of plant called, appropriately, a “Butterfly bush.” The official name is “Buddleia.” It looks like this:

buddleia-royal-redIn my “spare” time, I’m working on some fiction projects. Every author has her way of coming up with names for characters and places. Personally, Sanskrit base words are my favorite. But as a writer, you must take notice of different words and roots for inspiration.

Then I noticed “Buddleia” has “Leia” in it. Hmmm. Remember those weird side buns? Does it remind you of any basic shape found in nature? Why yes, a butterfly.

I took a few minutes to throw together this little visual comparison.

ButterflyHair Amidala also wore various versions of the hairdo.

Has George Lucas ever written about this? I’m a Star Wars fan, but I’m not rabid about it. Does everyone know about this and I’m just stumbling on it now?

And do Leia and Amidala seem like flitty characters to you? I suppose they aren’t too wise in the matters of the heart but as leaders, they’re pretty kick ass. They also travel the universe, in almost-migratory patterns.

I may be looking too far into this. Alas, it is the curse of the writer! Still, it was a delightful distraction.

Back to work, you lazy bums.

Image credits: Those are a bit iffy. I made the graphic. The flowering plant pic says “AmericanMeadows.com” on it, which turns out to be a real site.

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