whirling

If you haven’t seen the first two-part episode of Stargate Universe and you are at all a sci/fi tv fan, you have roughly a day (if you’re lucky) to go watch it on Hulu. Get going!.

Now, that being said…

The week we moved into our first apartment, Nighthawk and I bought our bed, a dining room set, a recliner, and a sofa. That sofa was in pure sofa hell for quite a while, between JessieDog’s accidents, the puppies attempts to gut it, their accidents, spilled food, and any other number of messes. You’ll all be glad to know that the old sofa was sent out to pasture today, and we’ve got a brand new sofa-and-chaise sectional thingie in its place. For the first time in probably 5 years, I can invite people over and not cringe when offering them a seat.

Add to that the new TV and the new entertainment center, and this place looks like a whole new livingroom.

For those who are wondering what the dogs think of it, I’d let them tell you themselves, but they’re both out cold next to me on the sofa. I think they approve. They had quite the rough day, barking at the trash guys, then barking at the guys who picked up the old sofa, then barking at the sofa delivery guys, then barking at me….

Totally unrelated, it’s National Novel Writing Month and we’re 5 days in. I have written zero words. I could give you many excuses, such as:

  • The Phillies just played 6 games of a World Series that the morons at Fox insisted starting at 8pm. Since playoff baseball frequently runs to 4 hour games, that doesn’t leave much time for writing.
  • We’re (finally) housetraining the dogs properly – which among other adventures has meant I’ve been walking up to 3 miles a day, often in 5 minute intervals around our building. I’d kill for a yard right now. Anyway, it’s incredibly difficult to type while walking two dogs. (For those who wondered, the dogs are currently “housetrained” to use piddle pads, because you can’t expect a 10 lb dog under 2 years old to “hold it” for 9 hours while you’re at work. Piddle pads are great because they’re like diapers — you don’t have to go out in the cold, or the rain, or even really leave the sofa. They’re also horrible because they’re like diapers — they leak, they smell to high hell, and they do nothing worth a damn about poop.)
  • I was too busy over the weekend dying my hair blue, screaming my lungs out at Hershey Park with my sister, yelling at the Phillies, knitting, and generally having fun to think about it.
  • I was going to start writing Sunday morning but I discovered Scrivener and I got so wrapped up in organizing my two existing novel universes (consisting of three unfinished novels each) to start actually writing (though Scrivener is definitely going to be my tool of choice)

But the fact of the matter is that my creation energy is about tapped. I’m working on a huge project at work right now, and at least three to four hours of any (good) day consists of creating screens, justifying the elements within them, understanding how they work, and documenting them, and damn if that isn’t one of the most draining activities I’ve come across in a long time. It really does feel quite a bit like writing a novel. There’s the initial creation, the revision, the feedback, the more revision, the recognition that something that was an initial premise is horribly flawed and half of everything has to be ripped out and recreated, the desire to research, research, research, the recognition that the research alone could eat you alive, and an ever-present deadline.

Though I don’t spend quite as much time when I’m writing making Visio cry. Apparently that damned app gets grouchy once you cross the 50-page mark, regardless of how tightly you’ve grouped or limited your images.

Anyway, my current challenge is to decide which of the two novel universes I’m set in need work — I’m leaning toward Sarra, but I’m always leaning toward Sarra.

I’ve also got knitting to do, a comic to work on, and general life to keep up on. Would like to go drown some worms with Dad this weekend (that’s “fishing” for the uninitiated), play some Katamari Forever, and maybe kill some sims. Or maybe just lounge on this bigass couch with my dogs.

Laughing to tears….

I don’t remember where I got the link to Passive-Aggressive Notes Dot Com (I think it was a tweet by @bbraithwaite) but OMG, these are going into my daily trawl.

The following ones made me laugh so hard I was crying. Click images if not large enough to read, safety for work not guaranteed:

In other news, my back’s feeling a lot better when I’m not using it for things like exercise… frustrated, because I’d like to get back to Tang Soo Do, but thinking I won’t rush it.

Here’s a cardboard treat machine for your dogs but mine don’t eat kibble so I’m not sure how it’d work for us. And here’s some caffeinated jerky in case you’re having problems falling asleep while eating regular jerky, I guess. And here are some disturbing Japanese ads with talking foods that spout random trivia in case you’re still falling asleep and want to have some seriously f’d up dreams.

Speaking of which, I need to get the snoring terriers to bed.

A roundup of weird shit. You know you love these.

OK, quick update on me:

Nighthawk had his annual check-for-thyroid-cancer low-iodine-diet dance all last week, so things were craziness. Lots of driving to and from Philly hospital appointments, baking, and cooking and… well… do you know anyone who needs a couple of pints of nuts and dried fruit?

Liable to make some scary scary fruitcake.

Anyway, the radiation scans came back normal so we might be out of the torture business (at least using the radioactive iodine testing method) for a damned long time, which makes me happy.

This week I work like crazy, or try to. Monday was all about catching up on everything that had happened while I was out half of last week, and today was an all-day seminar by Edward Tufte. The seminar might result in yet-another-redesign for the comic here, but not tonight. Besides, I’m pretty sure I need to write a plugin before I give that a good honest run.

This evening has been about Inbox Zero, which I’m not likely to succeed at because there are 327 messages on the cystic fibrosis support group account that I want to read to keep track of what the hell the federal government is doing with this whole healthcare thing.

Saturday we leave for vacation down in Virginia Beach. Faithful ideaphile basschica (and incredibly awesome sister) will be here watching the terror twins, and I will go worship Neptune until Nighthawk drags me kicking and screaming back into the car. This is also known as Thursday.

Update done. Now for the weird shit:

This comic, called “Amusing Ourselves” explains why I’ve not really had any fear of a 1984 scenario, but Brave New World still scares the shit outta me. (Well, that and V for Vendetta.)

Via @chris71williams, a Shawn Tan short story on The Guardian.

Via Neil Gaiman, well, see for yourself.

The battle in Chez Gibson rages on about whether it’s better or worse than Leonard Nimoy’s Bilbo Baggins, which appears to have disappeared off the ‘net again. Damn. Anyway, it’s a sticky little tune.

That’s all for now….

What I’m up to.

For a day that started with the realization that the alarm clock was not set, today was a pretty good day.

I got to work with great people to make decisions that make things better, and that’s always fun.

I got to start thinking through a design problem, and that’s doubly fun.

I ate a great lunch with a close friend on a sunny picnic bench.

I went to martial arts and participated in a belt test for the upper belts. It’s the first time in a few weeks that I’ve felt my legs ache leaving class, indicative of a great workout, but one where I felt like I was close to keeping pace. I’m inclined to blame/praise the new allergy/exercise-induced-asthma drug I started taking as the reason for the sudden improvement of my stamina as much as my instructors are inclined to claim it’s due to my hard work. Hard work is easier when you’re actually delivering oxygen to your muscles.

Still, except for a few moments of nausea that I suspect were due to too many crunches & push-ups overlapping the end of my recovery from a stomach bug, I kept pace. When I was a white belt I thought class would always be as physically hard as it was as a white belt. It’s not – it’s getting physically easier and mentally harder. I like it.

I got my confirmation that I’ll be attending martial arts camp the weekend after this upcoming weekend, up in Boston. It promises to be an adventure, with tents and camping and things that are totally beyond my current scope of experience.

I’ve got a big ass buffer of comics right now, which is a great feeling, even if the vast majority of them are idiocy on the Internet.

My awesome husband took our awesome dogs on a walk this afternoon, including a swim in the creek, so everyone’s actually kind of tired tonight. That means I might be allowed to sleep through to tomorrow morning…. and if I actually set my alarm this time, there’s no reason tomorrow won’t be a good day.

So, while every day is three to five meetings and there’s no consistent prediction of when I’ll be leaving the office any more, every afternoon is filled with hammer-wielding gnomes driving knitting needles into my sinuses, and my stomach has still not struck a full truce with food, I’m feeling pretty good.

I’ve been kind of quiet lately – here’s a catch-up.

Christmas, and the days before and after, were awesome.

New Year’s was quiet, but also awesome.

Day after, I caught this massive head cold thing that’s going around – sore throat, cough, snot factory, the whole bit. My energy levels are through the floor, but at least I can’t smell dog poop when I’m cleaning up after the pack.

Work went from almost nonexistent to flat-out crazy, which is typical of the “everyone’s back from the holidays, now get to work” mentality that I’ve come to expect after almost 9 years in the same place.

Speaking of long times, today marks the 16th anniversary of the first date where Nighthawk and I considered each other a couple… so that means we’ve been together literally half our lives… that’s 10,000 years in binary.

The puppies are having a hell of a bad time adjusting to us working, and that’s even with us timing our schedules so we’re rarely out of the house for more than 4 hours.

I’ve been doing a lot of knitting, and some drawing, but my drawing is going poorly due to horrible horrible writing. You can draw a funny comic with no words, but if you have poor words, no skill at drawing is going to save you. It’s a work in progress.

So yes, lots of idiocy on the internet and lots of life is odd comics until i get my shit straight.

Today we’re getting a bit of snow (this is not the global warming I signed up for) and possibly some ice tonight, so I’m hoping to hit the mall and save the economy before dinner. We also just got new bookshelves – big ‘uns – so that might be tomorrow’s project, before or after the football game.

The Eagles somehow weaseled their way into the playoffs and I feel obligated to at least watch. I’m not sure it counts as being a bandwagon fan when a) I watch all their games anyway, and b) I’m watching out of morbid curiosity more than a desire to see them win.

This site’s policy on revisionist history

There’s been some talk in the past few months on the web about whether it’s OK to revise your site. I don’t think we’re going to have a Boingboing-level event here, well, in my lifetime, but I believe in transparency and discussion. Just to get it on record so that if some day my readership explodes, here are the general policies around here:

  • Typos: I fix ‘em.
  • Broken links: If I can fix them, I do. If I can’t, I remove them. When I’ve removed a link, I underline the previously-linked words, and tag the article “broken links stripped out”. (The tagcloud reflects how bad a problem this is currently, as “broken links stripped out” is one of our hottest tags. In fact, that’s why I’m writing this.)

Now here’s the part where we get into dicey territory:

  • If a whole post had nothing but a link to an article that’s no longer there, I remove it. Usually we’re talking about articles with one line, and a link — or just a link, and nothing else. It won’t do you any good to read it, and it’s just taking up server space. So I delete those altogether. There’s no getting them back, either. They’re gone.
  • If a post has some additional commentary that I think might still add value even with no valid links, or if there’s only one broken link in a set, I generally leave it up.
  • The difference between deletion and survival is totally at my whim.

The prevailing thought around the policies above is that you should never ever ever have to visit my site and deal with broken links or any other kind of broken behavior. It’s irresponsible. And it pisses me off to no end when I visit other sites and end up reading posts that look like they’ll be helpful only to find out all the links are broken.

On the other hand, I have a large number of posts and not an infinite amount of time, so I don’t scrub things as often as I could or should.

And here’s the part wherein I disagree with entire sections of the internet:

  • If I said something I truly horribly regret and it’s less than 48 hours old, I’ll delete that post and replace it with commentary that says I removed it and why.

Why? How dare I? Because it’s my site and I can. If I cut the words “You suck” into my hair, and then regret it, I have the option to shave my head. Everyone will know I shaved my head, though they might not know the full reason why, and I’m OK with that. It’s my head. If I paint my house puce and then repaint it, the same rules apply. So why should I be held to an arbitrary paper standard that says I can’t unpublish what I’ve already published?

In truth, this has happened once in the 8 years I’ve been blogging. Will it happen again? That depends on whether someone gets me talking about politics again, but I’d like to say it’ll be rare. On the other hand, it’s fair to you, the reader, to know that what you read here today might not be there tomorrow. That’s true everywhere on the Internet, but I’ll at least admit to it.

On Blogging, and the worlds therein

I was reading a post by our own peri-renna earlier where he noted LiveJournal’s new policy of removing the option to create new Basic accounts and he mentioned how it might just be time to leave LiveJournal as a blogging base.

I can’t agree more, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

Let me say up front that having a membership to most of the places below is certainly worthwhile, because it allows you to a) comment on folks’ posts, and b) establish a web presence of your own because your comments will thus link back to your blog (your real one, or a LJ page that tells folks where to find your real one), thus giving you a consistent face across the web. If you don’t want a consistent face across the web, then you don’t have to worry about it.

And I practice what I preach. I have jump pages on Geocities, Comcast, Xanga, LiveJournal, and Blogger…. I have a profile on Facebook if you can find it, I sure as hell can’t…. I have a WordPress.com login but their software is smart enough to point straight to my WordPress.org blog so I don’t have to maintain an extra jump page there. I think that’s all of them. Probably.

But the ‘net’s a lot like maintaining residency. Except for this site, all those pages above are just PO Boxes that forward contacts to my home, which is here. And why is my home here?

Well, let’s look at the options.

I always viewed Myspace as a co-ed high-school sleepover when the parents were out of town. When I was old enough to hold those kinds of sleepovers, we held them on Prodigy’s chatboards, not on our own web space, because most of the planet didn’t know what web space was. So I don’t have a Myspace account — and I’m a snob — I’m proud of that.

LiveJournal’s like living in the college dorms – more civilized, but you’re still sharing a bathroom with your 20 closest neighbors, even if you don’t like them. (Xanga’s the same, only at a small private junior college that doesn’t advertise well.) Livejournal is totally about community, which is why I’m amused that they’ve shut down basic accounts. My only (totally uneducated) guess is too many “kids” (who turn out to be 35-year-olds who aged well) who move in, slip ads for the latest stock/penis/Canadian drug scam under everyone’s door 35 times a night, get kicked out, add a fake mustache, and then try it again.

Blogger is LiveJournal’s sister university, only with a different password.

Facebook is a college in the middle of the city with six separate campuses that require me to learn both the bus and the subway in order to get to class, buy groceries, hang out with my friends, or even I swear to God find the bathroom. And they tore up all the maps. There must be some skill to navigating that place that only those under 25 are privvy to, because damned if I (or most of the people my age at work) can figure it out. What’s the cheat code to see the map? Up up down down left right left right select start? The only way I find anyone is to wait until my sister’s friended them and then steal her friends.

Anyway, at some point, you graduate. Sometimes you get your own place before they boot you out the door and charge you $30 for your own damn diploma, and sometimes you don’t. I moved out early, to Geocities, which like its sister tripod resembled having your own studio apartment over a bar in a rowdy section of town — and the landlord had hung neon signs for the bar and exotic dance studio right outside your window so everyone who visited could see them. Plus, it turned out that much like MySpace now, most of your neighbors were colorblind and addicted to the blink tag drug. So regardless of how many pretty flowers you planted or how clean and usable your apartment was, just living in that neighborhood left the impression that you were just as bad.

So I moved to Earthlink, and then when we physically moved, to Comcast. But I still don’t have any address of my own on either of those (in fact on Comcast I had to use my husband’s webspace because he’s primary on the account – teh suxxors!) and like an apartment with a laid-back landlord, I’m not allowed to gut the wiring or tear out the walls even if I can paint, install shelving, and upgrade the coffeemaker. Plus, I knew that the next time I moved, I’d have to change my address *again* and after moving all these boxes and files 3 times, that was getting old.

I could have moved to WordPress.com. They’re a nice dorm-style apartment with free blogging similar to Livejournal, lots of features, and a generally mature set of neighbors. In fact, they’re mature enough that the primary topic of most posts and blogs appear to be politics and news, so maybe they’re less dorm and more graduate housing.

But honestly, I needed to feel like I had a permanent place of my own — one where as long as I pay the mortgage on time every December, and don’t break the law (read: terms of service) I get to keep my address and all my stuff. I’d been blogging for close to 5 years by then if you count Geocities, and I had pictures, thoughts, and memories from all that time stored up. (Someday I really am going to get all of them imported into here btw.) So I shopped a lot of hosts, using Google as my real estate agent, and finally settled down here.

And even having moved here, we changed mortgage companies once, from Midphase hosting to Hostmonster. Maybe mortgage company’s a bad analogy, because they also own access to all the utilities — rabid homeowner’s association maybe? — and once Midphase had cut off my power and water one too many times for no good reason, I signed up with Hostmonster. I have only excellent things to say about Hostmonster.

As for the actual house, well, your host doesn’t provide a very good one, just a foundation and connections for all your pipes. (OK, maybe it’s more like an RV park?). So for a while I built all my own walls all the time, but that’s inefficient, especially when you’re ready to do something like change the fonts. That’s when I decided to hit the hardware store, and boy, WordPress has been awesome. (I hear Drupal is just as good, but I haven’t tried them.) You go to their website, download their software, install it, and then you’re free to do virtually anything you want. You can download someone else’s interior decoration or build your own, paint, tear out the walls, redo the piping, add free furniture, it’s all available. I’ve even found a way to add an addition (what the rest of you call a forum) and as soon as work settles down I’m going to look into perhaps building that addition.

Granted, just like finding a residence, the more features you want, the more responsibility you need to take on. I wasn’t allowed to replace the floors in my apartment, but on the other hand a guy came out to fix the leaky toilet and didn’t charge me, either.

So there you go: the hierarchy of hosting options, dressed mostly-cleanly in a housing market analogy. If you’re one of the many folks getting the itch to upgrade your digs and find yourself a new home, give it a shot! There’s no reason to torch the old place yet… but maybe you just don’t need to live there anymore.

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