My own little Iron Man Blog challenge

Ignoring a post made to verify that some unintentional breakage was fixed, this blog has been silent for more than 18 months. It wasn’t overly active even before that, though.

I’ve decided that, one way or another, 2019 is going to be it—either I will manage at least one post a week, or else I’m just going to walk away.

I’m not sure which outcome I’m hoping for.

WordPress, day 3

I finally found something to make me want to wail and gnash my teeth.

Having exported the content from Movable Type, I spent some time working on a script to clean up that content–I had made some errors when I move to Movable Type that meant my articles were often not in the format I wanted them to be, so I took the time to correct that, getting everything moved back to its original Textile source, and even converting some things that had started life as hand-written HTML to Textile.

And then I did the import and everything seemed to go well…except.

The WordPress importer seems to have pulled out all “extra” line-feeds, meaning that my posts end up formatted with a lot of line-break tags rather than proper paragraphs.

In the short term, I’ll live with it. In the longer term, I’m probably going to be exporting and then importing this blog into a multi-blog setup, so I can probably do some text-hacking to resolve the issue then.

What worries me is what this means for possibly moving over Chet’s blog. Re-doing his posts that are in Markdown is not in the cards–there’s just too many–and the WordPress export/import format is a wordy mess for trying to generate yourself.


Don’t install new blog software in the evening

If you’re inclined to love the software, you’re going to want to take the time to dump a bunch of content in it to see how wonderfully it performs, and end up staying up late.

If you’re inclined to hate the software, you’re going to want to take the time to dump a bunch of content in it to find that one thing that it does so horribly wrong you will *have* to remove it, and end up staying up late.

Or at least, I am. Oy, this hurts.

90 to 40

I am now 90 days from being 40 years old.

I think these decade birthdays always loom especially large because I’m a decade baby.

Over the last week I’ve been considering what I’m going dedicate myself to for the next 90 days, so that perhaps by the time I actually hit 40, they will feel more like habits and rituals and be easy to maintain.

One that I’ve actually already started on is blogging every day. It doesn’t have to be significant or insightful or, I suppose, even coherent. Perhaps it will just be a picture of the latte I have in the afternoon, or whatever coding problem I solved (or didn’t 😉 that day.

It’s more about the consistency of writing every day, because I also want to start keeping a (private) journal. For the last 40 years, I’ve mostly been able to operate off memory alone. But I know that’s not going to last forever, and I’ve probably _already_ forgotten a lot of stuff I would like to have written down (though, of course, I can’t be sure). So writing daily, both for public and private edification.

A related desire is that I want to be more diligent in keeping track of what I get done. I have a lot of days where at the end, I feel like I haven’t gotten a lot done. Objectively, this isn’t true, but I don’t record it anywhere. In short, there’s no evidence, it’s totally ephemeral. So I want to be more diligent about knowing how I filled my days.

I need to reassert the habits of self-care. Eating well is an important part of that–I could stand to lose a little girth right at the moment–but even more importantly, I want to return to a daily meditation practice, a daily yoga practice, and other daily maintenance. I’ve gotten away from all of those in the last six months, and I’m very aware of it. 90 days is long enough to help me get over the hump in making these back into habits.

I want to get out of my music listening rut. It seems like I have a lot of music that has gotten short shrift–played a couple of times, and then dropped for more familiar things. Each day I want to find the time to listen to a whole album I don’t know well from beginning to end.

Perhaps other things will present themselves. Anyway, it’s going to be a fun time.

Filing-cabinet Zero?

Well, my experiment with “Inbox Zero”: is going swimmingly (even if I am only five days in).

I was spurred by comments to look at ways to try and use the same strategies for paper–which, I have to say, is an even more oppressive burden than email. We have a big filing cabinet full of stuff that’s organized in rather idiosyncratic ways, and Anne’s and my idiosyncracies don’t always match up exactly to boot.

The specific suggestions that were made don’t necessarily apply–most solutions presume Windows. Still, it got me thinking.

Now it just so happens that the gigantic multi-function device Anne purchased (because she’s on research leave this semester, and expected to do a lot of printing, which meant our little ink-jet MFD wasn’t going to cut it, but I wasn’t going to have *two* devices taking up space in my office, so we specc’ed a high-speed color laser printer with fax and scanner. Total cost? <$800. Really) not only has an auto-feed scanner, but it will dump the scans to a network share in PDF format. I spent some time last Friday setting up samba and doing some occasional cursing (some of the configuration you have to do is not well documented--some of the terms they used do not mean the same thing to everyone) but I got it working. And this morning, I was able to take a couple of nice-to-retain but not vitally important things, shove them in the feeder, scan 'em the shred 'em. It was very satisfying. Thanks, Dave, for suggesting it.

Handling email differently

I’ve started experimenting with “Inbox Zero”: as a way to handle the email I get.

The idea is simple enough–when you get an email, you deal with it in whatever way it needs to be dealt with–read and reply, delete, otherwise act upon it–and you get it out of your inbox.

Oh, and all those emails currently in your inbox? Well, you can do what I did–browse through them and guess that they were all archiveable–or you can do the “DMZ” folder that they talk about above, or whatever.

But the idea is to get you out of a position where you feel so behind that it’s harder to act.

I’m only about 36 hours into it, but I’m finding it easy to maintain so far, and it’s very freeing. In fact, I want to put this in place with paper mail, too–tuff comes in, it gets read and archived, trashed or acted upon.

Stumbling on Happiness

Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness

No doubt I’m late to the party.

Nevertheless, I just finished “Stumbling on Happiness”: by Daniel Gilbert. I’d certainly recommend it to people, though, like Daniel Pound, my late, admired Professor of Political Science, I doubt it’ll really change your mind, but it’ll give you a better vocabulary with which to articulate your assumptions.

It has many compelling things to say about the wild divergence between reality and how we, as humans, deal with the prospect of the future, and how our focus on the future influences our ability to be happy in the present.

A lot of it comes down to the fact that we are poor judges of what will serve to make us happy or unhappy–our memories of things that have affected our happiness become too muted to quickly, and are colored too much by how we feel most recently, or sometimes _right now_, and besides, we’re just not too good at really assessing things in any relative fashion at all.

(In a way, it’s sort of an argument against Intelligent Design, too–if the designer was so damned intelligent, how, exactly, did he come up with _this_ mess?)

Now I will concede that I have fallen prey to exactly these issues at lunch today–I had a brownie at the end whose sugar content is currently playing hell with my metabolism and making me jittery and achy, as the same item at the same place has done many times in the past–but on the big things, not so much.

I don’t generally feel a lot of buyer’s remorse, for instance. Especially in the last several years, I tend to hold off buying something until I feel certain that it’s going to fulfill my needs, and I’m going to use it enough to warrant it. As a consequence, I am often inordinately pleased with whatever it is, because it does fill a gap.

Also, although I consider myself an optimist, I don’t generally anticipate or expect great things for the future. The future is, in my opinion, going to look a lot like the past–we’ll muddle through, somehow.

And I don’t tend to plan too far into the future–I mean, how can I really know what’s going to be gong on in five years? Funny enough, I can trace this habit directly to reading Tolstoy’s “What Men LIve By”: at some point in middle-school.

Mostly, I try to achieve happiness with whatever I have right now. For a long time, there was a part of me that rebelled against that idea–being OK with what you happen to have sounds an awful lot like just what the Oligarchy wants. But I have come to realize that there’s a difference between contentment and apathy. You can be engaged, but content, and that’s the place I want to be.

Bike geeks

I do believe bike geeks can be even more withering towards the novice bicyclist than computer geeks are towards the novice computer user.

Just sayin’.

Archives imported, links corrected…

At least, the links for articles on the site. There are still a bunch of image links that I probably need to go back and fix up.

So far I’m kinda liking Movable Type, though I still need to figure out how to setup fastcgi support for it–you don’t notice it when you’re just browsing the site (since it’s published to static HTML) but using regular-old CGI for the interface can be a leetle bit poky.

I am hoping someone could explain to me what the real difference is between “categories”, “tags”, and “keywords”. Seems kinda redundant.

Oh, and the damned rich text editor causes epiphany to go into search mode whenever I type an apostrophe. Oh, well.

Moving over to Movable Type

After years of running my own blogging software, I think I am finally done with that whole business. Too much work, too few features, etc., etc. I’ve installed the Movable Type Open Source package in Debian, and whatever its flaws, it’s going to be more featureful and useful than the various packages I’ve used over the years.

So, Chet, how about you?

Happy New Year

Rang it in with good food, good company, and discovering that I actually _did_ know the definition of the word “howdah”:

Spent most of yesterday and today cleaning up the house. Actually, that’s understating it–it’s been purge time here at Chez Klinefelter-Dorman. That said, right now my office is a wreck, but that’s because we actually got a lot of stuff out of my old office and (assuming it’s going to be kept) into my new one so that, before too long, we can finally rip up the carpet, rip off the wallpaper and turn it into a proper yoga studio.

We’re heading to New York on Thursday. This is only the third time I’ve been there, and the first time when the trip isn’t going to be fairly heavily programmed in advance. I imagine I’ll hit a bunch of yoga classes and otherwise just walk around a bunch. No doubt I will have reports to make.

Happy Birthday To Me

I guess I didn’t do a last-year assessment last year. I was probably scared to.

I dunno, how do you assess, “Was this the best year ever?”

I mean some things are unambiguously good, like beginning to teach yoga: six months in an I’m still enjoying it, perhaps even becoming skillful at it. And the yoga kula continues to grow and become more cohesive, which is a great source of joy and support.

Other things are more ambiguous, like my Dad getting laid off, and the big AnteSpam upgrade six weeks ago: it’s good to have him working full-time on Ironic Design stuff, and it’s good to have the big transition done since we needed it to move forward, but damn, neither were smooth, graceful transitions _at all_.

And then there’s the stuff that is mostly just hard, and in the early stages so it’s hard to find the rewarding parts, like therapy to help me deal with 36 years of crap being swept under the rug.

That said, things seem brighter than they have in a while. I’m mostly happy, fairly together, healthy, loved and supported, and I feel like I can mostly sustain that.

Anyway, enough maudlin shit. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely head over to “Chet’s place”: to see the picture “of me in all my late-80’s hirsute glory”:

The only comment I’ll make is that I’ve never styled my hair–it has always done whatever it was inclined to do–so this was only a choice insofar as doing nothing is a choice. Now I keep it short so that its choices are mightily constrained.

Already the well runs dry

Well, I’m sure not going to blog about Saddam Hussein, and I’ve “already blogged about”: the Vietnamese restaurant we went to yesterday, and while an amusing experience, the hispanic supermarket we went to yesterday: wasn’t _that_ earth-shattering (having been to one of the Fiestas in Houston, it’s pretty small potatoes, really).

And I’m otherwise occupied with making tortilla using “this Cook’s Illustrated recipe”: (warning, it’s behind a membership firewall, but you can find a copy someone’s put on the web “here”:

Maybe tomorrow I’ll come up with a bunch of New Years Resolutions that I won’t keep. Once I wake up.

Moving to TypePad

I have decided to get out of not only the blog-software-writing habit (a bad tendency anyway, and one I never really had the spare time to give proper attention), but out of the blog-software-hosting gig.

I’ve got all the old posts imported (ah, beloved perl, an hour to hack together something to convert 500-odd posts), and I’ll be redirecting the URL to typepad shortly.

The Gods don’t want me blogging

I finally post the first item here in, what, three months, and the next day things come down the pike that virtually guarantee I won’t have a lot of time for the next however-long.

All I will say that if that old saw about “When a door closes, a window opens.” is true, I’m the guy whose efforts to open the window just went from vigorous to mildly frantic.

Haven’t looked at the stats in a while

Given my repeated and persistent absences from posting, it should come as little surprise that I also haven’t bothered to look at my web stats either. Given that this whole edifice is about my narcissistic need to make my snappy patter available to the web, how could it not hurt to find out that my never-exactly-legion fans had abandoned me?

Anyway, just because I haven’t looked at them doesn’t mean that the stats haven’t been collected, and after a week of blogging a couple of stories a day, I figured, “What the hell?”

Well, the numbers are the numbers–ultimately, I don’t believe that I’ve had 62 distinct visitors in the last 8 days, etc., etc. Most of it is probably just bot traffic, etc. But the thing that always makes this worthwhile are the searches. Sadly *Live Sex Chet* is nowhere to be found, but we do get:

1) do the heathen go to heaven?


2) two queries about “coordinates from _Feasting On Asphalt_”:/2006/08/if-you-like-alton-brown.html, which makes me think there’s an audience for someone to scribble down the coordinates and post them on a blog. Perhaps that will be me.

I find myself cutting back

Not about stuff like work and coding and so forth, but about trying to keep up with so much stuff.

I purged about a dozen blogs from my reader yesterday, mostly political ones, some of which I had been pulling for nigh on two years. I find myself deleting _Daily Show_ episodes from the TiVO unviewed. I am still reading _The New Yorker_ from cover to cover, but it can be a bit of a slog.

I know, intellectually, that the world isn’t going to shit any more than it has been on most other days in the last two centuries, but hearing relentless bad news is getting a little old.

You never know how long it’ll last…

I mean, I don’t think anyone expected them to be gone for two months. But just for the moment, Fafblog is back.

bq.. “I always used to figure God would show up at the end a the world an beam me up to Raptureland in his magical funk-powered mothership,” says me. “But that was before he got eaten by Supergod.”

“Serves him right!” says Giblets. “If God wanted to go to heaven he should’ve accepted Metajesus as his personal lord and savior.”

Coming back from being AWOL

“An interesting article on coming back to things you’ve fallen away from”:

Although it’s couched in terms of a graduate student and things like theses and dissertations, it all rings true for me and my experience in being AWOL from a side-project (I was AWOL from Debian far too often) or even from blogging or just keeping up with email. I think it’s influenced in part by my mildly hermetic lifestyle–it’s all too easy to draw in and ignore things–but it’s also a learned habit.

So the phone rings…

And someone comes on the line and tries to tell me I owe someone $2K+. I asked what it was about, they said, “A card with citibank that was in default.” I told them they had the wrong guy, never had a card with them. The guy said, “I have a social, last four digits XXXX”. Nope, not me. Sorry. 🙂

I must admit I had to get the guy to read the number off twice because the first time my head was so full of voices shouting “Identity Theft” I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying.

I wasn’t going to link to this…

…insofar as I can only stomach about five seconds worth of cultural criticism at a time these days–since that’s about how long it takes me to look at Anne, shrug my shoulders and say something about how the cultures on the skids or vice versa.

I don’t have the energy, and besides, what the fuck to do I have to be outraged about? I do stupid shit, you do stupid shit, “they” do stupid shit, this is the human condition. Laugh a little, or a lot, but calm down. You will be happier if you accept that stupid shit will be perpetrated for as long as the race is viable.

Mind you, some of the stupid shit I see makes me wonder how long that may be…

However, having decided for another reason to link to it, I must say that I participated in almost none of eXile’s “90 90’s shams”: I don’t mean that as a value judgement (see above), just as an observation. My purity test score is low, my music collection is full of oddball items, and I don’t go to the movies. I guess I’m realizing, I ignored huge swaths of my peers experiences, period.

Oh, what was the reason I was going to link to it? The site is built using “Mason”:

Yeah, I’m a geek.

I try to be polite to telemarketers

It’s not that I care so much about the people who are trying to push products through telemarketing–I am on the do-not-call list and all–but it seems to me the people who are actually on the other end of the phone deserve some compassion.

After all, I can’t imagine that it’s anything other than a job that combines mediocre pay and soul-crushing work. I suppose that in some cases it may be a specific choice someone makes because it leaves them free to do other things, but in most I expect it’s what they do because it’s all that’s available.

So when I get solicited, I usually say, as politely but firmly as possible, “Thank you, I’m not interested.”

Well, today some guy calls from Earthlink, and I do my normal, “Thank you, I’m not interested.” and the dolt tries to tell me why I am wrong not to be interested.

And I snapped.

Not in a shouting-obscenities-and-banging-the-phone-on-the-table way–which I’ve been known to do, but usually in a more Spider Jerusalem state of mind, that is, with a smile on my face and giggling–but in a harangue-on-a-theme, “You should not presume to know enough about me to tell me that I’m interested in your product.” way.

After it was over and I went down to feed the cats I started to wonder where our little version of capitalism went totally off the rails. Why is it that companies I do business with, often over long periods of time sometimes seem intent on making me regret having a relationship with? That just seems stupid.

I think everyone should know…

American Chopper often amused me

That, if you really want (or, alternatively, if your wife just feels like amusing herself), you can get “Orange County Chopper Boxer shorts”:

So: 35 (An assessment of the last year)

Well, 34 started off pretty horribly, really–the last half of October was a blur of work and yoga, with maybe some sleeping in there, leading into disaster on November 2, for which I had a sleep-deprived ringside seat. I basically came home and hibernated for two months, without even the comfort of some good yoga classes–while I had been gone, our yoga teacher started teaching at a new studio with whose proprietor we had some problems, and I ended up putting the ten pounds I had lost in DC back on. On the upside, “Chet and Erin got engaged that month”:–I knew about it, say, four hours before Erin did.

January saw Anne and I go on a short trip to San Francisco. We found an Anusara yoga teacher, and I started working on a big rewrite of AnteSpam, to incorporate two years worth of experience with what we were dealing with (still not done, I’m afraid, but soon, soon). I started getting back into doing some small jobs for i.e. Marketing. I ordered a new laptop which wasn’t to arrive for six months.

February came, Hunter S. Thompson went, and I spent a few days writing my own blogging software.

March saw the replacement of almost all of i.e.’s machines–which wasn’t exactly how we’d planned things–and I had about as much dental surgery as I think you can have while still having all of your own teeth at the end of it. Ajax started to show up as a topic on geek blogs.

April brought with it a surge of productivity on the AnteSpam rewrite, and a corresponding lack of blogging–I’ve never been as consistent as I’d like, and never as prolific as Chet.

The blog drought dragged on through May. We celebrated Anne’s birthday. I read some books, I watched some movies, and generally tried to be ignorant of the outside world.

June had the first of my younger cousins getting married. Anne and I had an actual vacation in Panama City, FL. Debian got a release out the door. I made some further progress on the new AnteSpam back-end, but still hadn’t begun to touch the front-end.

In July, I started playing with Catalyst, with an eye to using it on a project for ??Bad Boy Records??. Although that project has subsequently stalled, I realized that it was the perfect medium for building the front-end for AnteSpam, so I started work on that. That’s taken up a bunch of my time since then–it’s taken a while, but I’ve been learning the toolkit, and arriving at ways to do things that I’m comfortable with (everything’s been rewritten at least three or four times), and I’m really approaching the endgame now.

August was more work on AnteSpam, and pizza every week thanks to the astonishingly good tomatoes available at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. Who needs more?

September was kind of tough. First Katrina, then the news about my cousin, and then Ford, our acromegalic cat, had a small medical crisis that meant I had to miss Chet’s Bachelor Excursion–though, honestly, my liver thanks me. I totally rebuilt i.e.’s email infrastructure as part of a project to add some features. I made further progress on AnteSpam.

October has been “wedding month”, and here we are, all caught up.

Funny enough, what this summary has made me realize is that I really ought to keep a journal. A lot more stuff happened than this, but, you know what they say: if you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.

bq. Is it a beginning,
a continuing,
or the end?

> (Adrian Belew, ??Face To Face??)

And tomorrow…

I promise a painful reconstruction of Chet’s wedding.

It is painful, of course, because of all the alcohol that was liberally applied during various stages in the process. Self-inflicted pain being the best sort, of course.

Other than that, it was great. As I said, more tomorrow.

Is running your own box really all that sexy?

I’m posting this to a LiveJournal account. I’m giving serious thought to making a “virtual” domain–that is, run services on other machines, rather than taking responsibility for keeping them up on my own.

Part of this will revolve around whether I can find services I like enough, of course–which is part of why I’m posting this on LiveJournal. The other part, of course, is whether I’m too much of a control freak for that.

*Update*: I’ve moved everything off LiveJournal. I like the little bloggy thing I wrote too much to abandon it.