You know, with all of the stuff going on in the last couple of months, I completely forgot to mention the fact that this weblog, as of March 22, is 20 years old. My first post was about the choice of outerwear I was noticing in Washington, D.C. as I worked there; it wasn’t the most emotionally wrenching subject, but it kicked off an almost daily habit I’ve kept ever since then. To that date, I’d posted 5196 times, or roughly 22 times a month. Because of a huge spike in 2004, my trend line is slowly declining, but it looks like there’s been an general uptick since about 2017 or so.
In terms of content, I’ve stripped out some data that skews the average for the category counts; all of the Scout categories are out, as well as the Shortlinks category, which overlaps half the posts and skews everything else.
It’s hard to believe I’ve kept this going for 20 years, but it’s also become an invaluable tool for remembering where we’ve been, when things happened, and maybe a little bit about who we are. Here’s to another 20 years.
I’ve spent a tense couple of days trading emails with my target hosting provider trying to hammer out the details of migration and transfer. As of right now they’ve migrated WordPress over to an instance on their servers and I just now got them to understand that I want to move the domain over as well. I sent over the Auth code Friday morning and got the ball rolling, so let’s see how fast it takes to get the rest of it moved. While this is all happening, I’ve been juggling tabs in my browsers like a circus clown, switching from account to account to communicate with the various companies involved. It’s making me feel schizophrenic. One minute I’m using my namesake account, next I’m using my idiotking account, and then I have to switch over to Gmail for authentication, which means logging out of my work account…
It’s been weird because the content is frozen while we sort things out; not having the site there to record on is like not having my phone in my pocket—I feel like there’s something missing. I have a problem with losing things, as documented here many times, and when something is unavailable or out of my reach I feel unmoored. This site has grown into something more than just a place to post pictures or links to funny websites; it’s an imprecise digital history of my life. Here and on Flickr are how I mark the years of my life, because I can’t keep track of it all in my head. It’s one of the only good habits I’ve ever been able to keep, and even when I’m having a slow month of posting, I’m still thinking about posting something. Even if it’s a list of shit I did over the weekend.
I’ve finished up a pile of small but time-consuming tasks in the bathroom. There’s kick moulding all the way around the perimeter of the bathroom, finished off with toekick at the bottom edge. Various holes and dents in the wall are patched and painted. There’s a coat of eggshell white on everything except for a few places I can’t see without direct sunlight.
I have the wall heater hooked up to a thermostat as of this afternoon, but for some reason the thermostat isn’t waking up. I called my neighbor and double-checked the wiring diagram it came with, and he confirmed my research. I’ll have to track that issue down later this week when I’ve got some time.
I ordered the sinks on Friday, and the marble folks are going to be here on Wednesday to measure for the countertops, which is a big relief. Once that’s all in I can hook up water and get the last big utility working in there.
Jen hit the Costco on Friday for bulk quarantine supplies, and Saturday morning Finn and I hit the store for the remainder. I’m watching the news with a wary eye not because I think it’s the second coming of the 1918 Spanish Fever epidemic, but because I know I’m standing square in the crosshairs of the virus: a low white blood cell count and a commute that takes me to and from a heavily trafficked city in a thin metal tube. Our leadership has been very cool about keeping people informed and offering telecommuting as an option, and I’m going to take them up on that when the first case hits D.C.
Sunday I took Finn and a friend to the mall for the afternoon. We walked inside and I asked the two of them to meet me at the same spot in two hours, and then I walked away and let them figure out where they were going to go. Then I texted Jen and said, “I have set them free on the mall. Should I be worried?” because I was a little worried. We texted back and forth and she made me feel better about it, and I put the worry out of my mind. We’ve been trying to give her more freedom in small doses. Apart from some stupendously dumb choices she’s made on her own in the last two weeks, we know she’s a good kid and normally does the right thing, so I put it out of my mind and looked for some work clothes. At 5:00 I walked back to the rally point and found them sitting on the floor drinking bubble tea, chatting happily with each other.
Laying in bed at 9:40 with a snoring dog next to me. I took Finn and Zachary snowboarding today (more on that later) so I’m a wee bit tired and emotionally wrung out; the two of them could not have done better today.
Meanwhile, the guy came to measure the counters and recommended two smaller sinks, so we’re changing the order to reflect that. We also need to buy the faucets before they come to install, as they’ll cut the holes for those while they’re here.
OK, if all is working correctly, Idiotking.org has been migrated to the new host and things are back up and running. I got the notification this morning while I was out of town and this is the first I’ve been able to look at things.
There are some changes happening behind the scenes here at idiotking.org. As I mentioned earlier, I’m moving hosts this week, so things are going to be quiet for a while as we move the furniture around.
Well, the site is back up again, after several conversations with my hosting provider. Somebody injected my site with some malware, putting a script in place that was sending my Archives link to a Canadian pill pharmacy site. It’s still there. I had the admins rebuild the site from a backup and run a scan for malware, and it looks like we didn’t catch it. I’ve got some more sleuthing to do. I also think I’m going to finally move hosting providers to the company that hosts my namesake site; I like them a little better and their pricing is more competitive.
About two weeks ago, Hazel came back from the puppy daycare with a chunk taken our of her ear missing. The daycare was horrified and notified Jen right away but we were pretty relaxed about it; she’s a dog who tries to punch above her weight. We know she’s going to het her butt kicked now and then—and that’s good for her.
But the nick in her ear wouldn’t heal, and we noticed that she was leaving drops of blood all over the house as she shook herself off (she shakes herself at least 20 times a day). Alarmed, Jen took her to the vet, where she was diagnosed with “ear crumble“, a condition where an allergic reaction to a vaccine causes the capillaries in her ears to go necrotic and die off, which, untreated, can lead to loss of both of her ears. She came home from the vet wrapped up in gauze like a Civil War casualty, and then immediately proceeded to shake most of it off. Jen took her back where they sedated her and re-wrapped it and then put her in the Cone of Shame; she returned home stoned to Venus and staring off into space.
Jen ordered a product called a No Flap Ear Wrap to replace the cone and gauze. The first one she ordered was the size recommended for her measurements, but was too large. The next size down was still a bit large. Jen got back online a third time for the next size down, and the manufacturer immediately responded to refund her money and ship us a new one specific to Hazel’s size, requesting we donate the current one to the vet’s office. It’s not often to get customer service that good or that prompt; I was extremely impressed with them.
She’s about as happy with the wrap as she was with the cone; she tries to shake it off about every five minutes.
Sunday Hazel got us up and out the door at 7:15 and Jen and I took her on a long walk all the way down to the café near the junction, where I got us a coffee for the return trip. After Finley woke, we jumped in the car and drove to the top of the trolley trail, then walked all the way down into Ellicott City for breakfast. Everyone else in Catonsville had the same idea, because the trail was busy. But it was lovely to sit outside and have breakfast with my three girls, and Hazel was about as patient as she could be under the circumstances. We then walked back to the car and headed home, where Hazel passed out in the hallway and we all split off to our own pursuits.
I took advantage of the warm weather and a fresh bloody mary to break down the door on the Accord and swap out the door lock mechanism. After working on the junkyard Accord it was quick work to get the door card off to expose the mechanism. The bolts came off easier with a larger screwdriver—we stripped two of the four bolts in the junkyard—but I still had to drill one of the bolts out.
Once that was done it was a simple matter of pulling the faulty mechanism, replacing it with the new one and testing it before buttoning up the door. Confirming it worked, I put the card back on and put my tools away. Then I stood to the side, used the keyfob to unlock the doors, and enjoyed the fact that the rear door unlocked as it should have the day we bought it.
The site appears to have been hacked a wee bit; the old Archives link was hijacked to send users to a Canadian pill site. Please hold while I work under the hood.
Looking back on last year, a lot of things happened, and I still feel numb about some of them. My father died in the middle of January, right before his 81st birthday. I made it to one year free of cancer, although we had a leukemia scare in the summer that wound up being more cautionary than fatal. And I had my port removed. I celebrated five years’ employment at my current job, which has flown by. Finley started and shuttered several successful businesses over the summer (we’re still scratching our heads over this). We took some trips, and vacationed with friends. I grew more tomatoes in the greenhouse Mark 2, and ventured into some flowers and lettuce. I took out a home equity loan and promptly spent it on long-required projects like tree removal and bathroom cabinets and modern windows and a new driveway. The bathroom itself has inched forward to the point where we’re ready for countertops a full two years after the drywall went in. Our beautiful daughter turned 11 and has grown to where her head is just below my chin. We added a beautiful, anxious, whip-smart neurotic dog to our household.
I’m happy with the progress our family made in 2019, but I’m looking forward to a better year in 2020 for all of us. I think we could all use some luck and good vibes, especially my girls. I want only good things to happen for both of them this year, and I hope somebody upstairs is listening.
There are certain times I miss my Dad a lot. He and I had drifted apart over the last few years, but I miss hearing his voice and asking him questions and having him be there, even if I was too stupid to pick up the phone and call him. I’m still not OK with how poorly I left things with him, and I don’t think I ever will be.
As of the 29th of December and not including this one, I wrote 305 posts here in 2019, an average of slightly more than 25 per month. According to WordPress.org, my average word count per post is 210, which seems awfully small, but I guess the short sidebar posts lower the mean dramatically. That’s also an incomplete survey size, as I only just got that service hooked back up in July.
My site stats are all over the place, but Hazel’s introduction seems to be the most popular post from 2019. Meanwhile, an article I wrote about my Subaru back in 2013 seems to still be one of the most popular posts of all time. Go figure that one out.
Looking at the graph of my posts over time, the trend line still descends slightly in terms of posting frequency due to that crazy spike in 2005. Still, I’ve been on an upward trend since the beginning of 2017. Here’s to another year of bigger and better things.
I recently re-enabled Jetpack, WordPress’ do-it-all plugin for their publishing platform, here on idiotking, after a year or two without it. I had it working for a year or two and I liked the additional features it provided, but one day it brought my whole site down with no warning. Strangely, the Scout blog, which uses a forked version of the same homemade WordPress template, remained operational. I didn’t feel like chasing the problem down until recently, when I got a notice that the hosting provider for idiotking wanted me to update the version of PHP it was running. I did that without much fuss, and then let it sit for a while. Today in a meeting I downloaded the plugin and re-activated it, and it seems to be working smoothly. I’m going to fool around with some of the new features they’ve added, and hope it doesn’t break the whole thing again.
Time was, back in the halcyon days of blogging, people used to comment on posts. I made online friends with a bunch of people through comment threads on other sites, and we’d trade responses for days sometimes. With comments came comment spam, and a lot of us that ran weblogs turned on various measures to counteract Russian dating scams and link farming. I’ve had registration enabled for the comments here for a few years, and I guess that makes the barrier to entry too high. I just disabled it, so anyone should be able to comment here without facing a login form. I know it’s not as immediate as the Twitters and Facebooks, but if you see something you like here, take a minute and drop me a comment or two so I know you’re still alive.