12 March, 2006 at 12:47 am (clerical)

Just when I’ve finally gotten rid of the enormous bandwidth suck and lag time that was my January 1st book cover spectacular, I spring the following on you. Oh, well. Happy birthday anyway, Brothel. You’ve caused me to seriously injure eternity in a manner which none can calculate. May you continue not to set off firewalls with your title, and may you have more than nine members in the future. Many happy returns of the day.

Brothel 3rd Year Commemorative Animated GIF.  557KB.  Give it a minute.

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Do What You Wanado

20 December, 2005 at 10:33 pm (clerical, webjunk)

Stellarium iconSo a couple of weeks ago I discovered the free Mac astronomy simulator Stellarium and immediately set about developing a computer representation of the view outside my window, well aware that any virtual depiction would be far cooler — and far more customizable — than reality. After all, reality has light pollution and doesn’t have labels on the important stellar objects.

And it only has the lovely grid lines when the Matrix glitches and reminds us that we’re all inhabiting a fabricated consentual illusion.

the view out my kitchen window

Anyway… my immediate impulse was to blog about this lovely little tool, but after having just posted about some cartographic instance or another, and having typed with glee about maps a couple of times before that, it occurred to me that had I hosted my mental peregrinations on TypePad instead of Blogger, then I would be able to set up and institute categories for my posts. This ability to give greater shape and accessability to my various ramblings is the major reason I’ve considered porting the site over to TypePad in the past, and it’s only the fact that I would then be increasingly responsible for the successful implementation for the back end of the site that has prevented me from doing it. My HTML knowledge is still very 1998, and most of what you see here is bolstered by 21st century coding that I really don’t comprehend.

I then discovered a sweet little potential compromise: on Steven M. Cohen’s Library Stuff blog, he dropped a line about a web app that allowed a blogger to apply post tagging. And well, tagging is near-as-damnit as created keywords or categories for web-content and I did what I am usually loathe to do when it comes to the inertnet: I jumped in with both feet.

m3lbatoast tag cloud for all posts during 2005And, well, rediscovered why it is that I am usually a little tentative about such things: it didn’t really work. The app is called Wanado and while it did allow me to add tags, the tags didn’t like the heirarchal structure of Blogger, and tags put on an individual entry page would not be visible from the main page or the archive page, as they show up only with reference to a specific URL. Additionally, one couldn’t delete mistyped tags, nor could one incorporate the tag cloud into one’s site. I fired off a couple of helpful suggestions to the creator and sadly deleted all presence of Wanado code from my site.

However, the lure of the rough equivalent of categories proved too strong, and after an announcement that informed me that Wanado’s creator Ericson Smith had heard my and other’s and met them accordingly, I decided to try implementing it again. After three days of tweaking, I have finally arranged everything in some semblance of success. The ability to add tags can only be found on an individual post’s page, but the tag cloud now sits merrily on the right-hand infocolumn, allowing browsers to click-through any of the forty-two visible keywords that piques their fancy.

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Good Night.

29 November, 2005 at 6:42 pm (clerical, film)

Many changes have been afoot, and much activity has been imminent, so there hasn’t been much typing of late. Just in the last five days I’ve driven to New Hampshire, eaten two Thanksgiving dinners, spent ten hours in transit to a church in Pittsburgh — flying, waiting, flying again, busing, and then walking about fifteen to eighteen blocks — then three changes of company in quick succession, more walking, then busing, flying, weather delays, more flying, and landing and being presented with the unsightly spectacle of a $2,000 vehicle repair and inspection bill for a $1,600 car. Then cake, then more driving.

And all this happened after a week of frantic internet activity. The V announced that it was going to be leaving the chilly embrace of Prospero’s Delphi Forums system in favour of the more flexible and totally free Beehive Forums system. With them went went many of the other assorted WEFugee forums, including those hosted by Dan, Keith, JOSH, and Ted. Which, with the exception of my own little humble Delphi Forum, comprised a pretty comprehensive list of all the reasons why I subscribed to Delphi’s services in the first place. So, I had to figure out how to host a Beehive forum of my own. (Click and join!)

From -- David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow.And to do that, I had to download Beehive and phpMyAdmin, install them both, get the rights to create a database on my webhosting, discover that I didn’t have the right permissions through phpMyAdmin, do lots and lots of searching and tweaking of the prefs to try to correct this, try to lean MySQL, contact my hosting service, discover they provided a much better and cleaner version of phpMyAdmin, delete a database, create a new database, install Beehive, delete phpMyAdmin, and then configure the new version of The Brothel. So that was the previous five days before the previous five days. There’s still a missed week of posting in there someplace, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

So, here’s my minor story from Thanksgiving, to help allieviate the long silence: The week before, despite the fact that I have been trying to reduce my spending, I had gone to see George Clooney’s Good night, and good luck. at my local cinema. In part this was because of the immensely favourable review it received from the keen eye of Andrew Wheeler, but also out of the sheer surpise of finding it at my local commercial movie house instead of at the nearby art theatres. A few days later, at the traditional family outing of Going To See A Cheesey Movie In Order To Get Out Of The House After Thanksgiving, the even more commercial movieplex had a pile of miniature posters for Good night, and good luck, with a photocopied flier available for the public to take. However, the flier wasn’t supposed to be there. The flier was actually a photocopy of a letter from Warner Independent’s promotional department, detailing instructions that would allow the theatre manager to download the actual flier, and any additional P.R. materials he wished. Included in the letter was the password that would allow one to download hi-rez images, and other virtual press-kit materials. The flier that the letter asked the theatre manager to photocopy instead of the letter was nowhere to be seen.

Naturally, I snagged one. That’s two major studios I can now get press materials from. Only fourteen to go.

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13 October, 2005 at 3:14 am (clerical, dear diary)

This is my 100th post on this blog. I’m within spitting distance of having been a member of Blogger for five whole years, and yet I’ve only just accumulated my hundredth post. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong.

Or perhaps not. Steven M Cohen, over at Library Stuff (also in its fifth year, coincidentally) quotes Michael McGorty on the longevity of weblogs: “Weblogs that last, (whether their content has significance or no) will doubtless be those whose authors are possessed by that need which makes otherwise normal people sit down and write with the regularity that other folks eat dinner. In other words, writers will continue to be writers…” I have never bought into the LiveJournal concept. I have an actual journal, various non-internet journal software packages, and a DelphiForum for my petty personal recollections of Stuff What I Done Today. I think of a weblog as a column, as a venue for presenting organized thoughts or pointed observations in order to further reflection and discourse. Granted, my audience is slim and there is not much in the way of external contirbution to the dialogue. However, as Stephen Fry points out on Quite Interesting, “dialogue” should not be thought of as mutally exclusive to monologue. It is a common mistake to think that “dia” is synonymous with “duo”, which is most certainly is not.

For today, however, I present to you no organized point, but a series of random-ass thoughts:

  • I purchased a new printer, with scanning and photocopying capability. It cost me only $99 before taxes, a service plan, and a special extra ink catridge for printing photos. It was purchased, despite the fact that I am striving to restrict myself to only essential purchases, because I assumed I might need to print out papers for class and my previous printer was not living up to its name. Went ’round to the local Used Computer store and offered it and my scanner to them, and they turned me down, saying peripherals were too expensive to repair. Still, I dug around for the manuals and install discs in case I can offer them to someone, and stumbled upon the receipts. In 2001, when I bought them, the printer and scanner cost me a total of $597.95. Even after working well for four years, it’s tough to sit here, feeling incredibly broke, and think that it’s effectively $500 wasted.
  • Speaking of money woes, I had a crazy dream where a former co-worker of mine was doing some part-time extra work out of her office where she processed the personnel forms for the recently dead. I don’t know if I died in her district, or if I as assigned to her jurisdiction because of our professional connection, but allow e to say: Kato, you were very good at your job, and I don’t begrudge you trying to pick up some extra cash for your family, but I expected a little bit mor of a personal touch or some remorse, and not just more paperwork.
  • I’m pretty sure I’m the last person on Earth without a cell phone. Is this why I’m the only person I know who wanted the ViPod to have a little camera built into it? Since it got a color screen and started synching with iPhoto, you’d think the next step would be that they’d build in a version of the iSight for integrated use with iPhoto as well as portable video podcasting or something. Apprently not.
  • In the introduction to A Briefcase Full of Blues, Elwood Blues goes on the following rant: “By the year 2006, the music know today as the blues will exist only in the classical records department of your local public library.” I may end up giving some version of that speech in concert this weekend — it’s supposed to be the “We would especially like to welcome all the representatives of Illinois’ law enforcement community who have chosen to join us here in the Palace Hotel Ballroom at this time…” from The Blues Brothers feature film, but I frequently get them mixed up in the moment. And once I get started on the wrong one, I can’t stop; the sheer velocity of each speech demands no deviation — but the sheer proximity of the date makes the point meaningless. We can’t preserve the blues now if 2006 is the dealine and only eighty days away. I hate changing classic scripts for a contemporary audience, but I just might. If the momentum will let me.
  • Right, so I really will start getting Pan~Theisms drawn and up. I have not yet been able to successfully establish the disciplined weekly schedule that I’ve been aiming for in order to complete all my various projects. Stay tuned.

And on that note… here’s to another five years.

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Toast Julienne

1 October, 2005 at 11:14 pm (charade, clerical, music)

Sometime in August I did a massive design update on the site, as I finally figured out how to use Blogger’s archive function, something that had been eluding me for, yea, these five years of membership. In doing so I also instituted the comment function so that the site can be a little more interactive.

This immediately paid off. Back when I first made a website in college, I can recall searching for various pop culture homepages and tribute sites and finding nothing. It was an incredible thrill to dedicate a section of my website to the television show Nowhere Man, and have it be one of two relevant things that came up in a Google search. And because the web was still thin and rarefied at that time, I actually got an e-mail from the show’s creator, Larry Hertzog, who had found my page in a similar search.

Now that the web runneth over with content, I never assumed that similar things would happen, but immediately after establishing the content function I have received comments from the screenwriter of Charade-knock off Duplicity and from author Julian Gough.

CHARM AND ARROGANCE by Toasted HereticMr. Gough was incredibly nice, answering my little questions about his previous works and his former band, Toasted Heretic. He mentioned that the band’s first two albums were being released for the first time on CD and would be available through the indy music retailer CD Baby. The disc was released on September 23, against all conventional New Music Tuesday rules, and CD Baby didn’t have a link to it until the following day, and I’d only just posted. So in order to maintain my one-post-a-week consistency I said that I’d write all this up for New Music Tuesday on the 27th, and promptly forgot.

So here we are now.

And since I’m well aware that none of you have the faintest clue who Toasted Heretic are (unless, of course, you found this entry by searching Google’s new blog search for “Toasted Heretic”), I recommend that you download “Lightning” which is charmingly energetic, and “You can Always Go Home“, which I think gives an indication of how much fun of a live jam band they must be. Remember that you can download these with impunity; on the liner notes of the album, the band is quoted as saying, “Our principle on PIRACY and COPYING STUFF remains the same as it always was: copy this album for your poorer friends, and make the rich ones buy it.”

In other update news, I have also redesigned the Pan~Theism page, and will be adding new weekly strips to it on Wednesdays. We kick this off with a computer-generated comic made with the online Strip Generator, as pointed out to me by Nick Locking.

2005-09-30 :: Strip Generator

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30 May, 2005 at 9:02 pm (clerical)

Despite earlier reservations that I might not be able to incorporate secondary and tertiary content feeds into my existing webpage structure, I have successfully managed to approach being the sort of derring-do internetician that I’d like to be. So I’m very pleased to introduce the new live content aspect of my site, a Joan of Arc blog.

I used to teach a class on Joan of Arc and her particular relationship with the Hundred Years War, and I got in the habit of scanning the world for links and relevancy. Part of the ideal for the class was that I could show that regardless that the key events took place somewhere in the vicinity of six hundred years ago, that their echoes still affected contemporary attitudes and politics, and that Joan herself was an accessible person. Since the class was primarily beign taught to 18 year old females, I especially harped on that last bit, trying not to — as Vita Sackville West did — make her a contemporary romantic figure, but to delineate how certain aspects of being young and human remained the same over time, and some aspectes of her character were purely medieval and purely foreign.

As a tantalizing morsel to get you to click through the above link and perhaps even subscribe to future updates, here’s the first entry:

30 May, 1431 – Jehanne is burned alive as a relapsed heretic in the marketplace at Rouen.

It’s a strange number, the 574th anniversary. It catches on the hems of our base-10 consciousness, looking close to a number that should be significant to a culture that celebrates centennials and their quarters. But because quarter centuries aren’t particularly important except to people and occasion-starved businesses, even next year’s anniversary will have two important flaws. Firstly, it will seem either 25 years too early to recognize with any real flair, or 75 years too late, and secondly, it’s the anniversary of the horrific death of a young woman who wasn’t even sure how old she was.

Joan’s words that morning, as translated by Willard Trask, are as follows:

Alas! Am I so horribly and cruelly used, that my clean body, never yet defiled, must this day be burnt and turned to ashes. Ha! Ha! I would rather be beheaded seven times than suffer burning.

Alas! If I had been kept in the Church’s prison, to which I had submitted — if I had been kept by churchmen instead of my enemies and adversaries, I should not have come to such a miserable end.

Such merriment! Fun for all!

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