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.
Hey! Look at that. I’m not a complete moron and I can still fuck around in code and CSS and make it work, usually. Years ago, when I set up the Scout blog on my other domain, I found a way to syndicate it over to this blog so that posts there would show up here. Partially because this weblog is the running history of my life, and partially because I wanted to see if I could do it. That was years ago and I’ve always been annoyed with how the syndicated posts show up in the feed. A while ago I hacked at it a little bit and got WordPress to spit out the category name as a class so I could restyle the header and link colors (that’s why they show up as blue) but there was never any real context for what those posts were. I fooled around with conditional statements this afternoon and now there’s something that explains what these are and why they’re there.
The doctors told me that coming down off the steroids I’m on would cause emotional issues this week; I’m going to blame them for the following. SPOILER ALERT.
Watching the end of the first episode of Stranger Things this evening, when Hopper came home to his cabin with two meals set at the table, and Eleven sat down with him, I cried in happiness.
I found out through a post on Instagram that the venerable Bel-Loc Diner has closed after 53 years, due to be knocked down and replaced with a fucking Starbucks of all things. I’ve loved the Bel-Loc since I moved to Baltimore 28 years ago (damn); in college we made pilgrimages up to the Parkville area for breakfast, haircuts, and the Hechinger’s when there was no diner food, weekend banking or lumberyards in the city. It’s been a landmark since I’ve been here, a shining neon constant. I think I’ve shot pictures of it with every camera I own save one. In a world of cavernous fake modern diners with no soul, it was a cozy room made of curves and angles and stainless steel. You could sit in a booth and feel the conversations around you while you ate; it had a communal sense about it. Much like the departed Forest Diner, it was an experience. And we don’t have too many authentic experiences left anymore.
I made some updates to the backend of both this site and the Scout blog, which were both being unreliable (the Scout blog was actually going down and up for a few weeks). Shutting off all of the plugins, updating them, and selectively turning on just the crucial ones brought full functionality back, and tweaking the settings in Jetpack helped fix a couple of strange bugs (the Media library wasn’t loading, for example). I was thinking my ancient handmade template was obsolete for a while there, but everything seems to be working correctly now. Thankfully I run this blog fast and lean, because if I had to deal with multiple dependencies or outdated plugins, I’d be sunk. At one time I could make WordPress sing, but I’ve forgotten most of it in the last couple of years.
I got a freelance check in the mail for the job I did on the flight to Paraguay, so I’m researching the iPad Pro, paired with an Apple Pencil and an app called Procreate. My hope is that I can use this combination of hardware and software to emulate scratchboard and also work in Illustrator. The big question here is whether the smaller model would be big enough for my needs or if I should shell out for the larger one. Unfortunately the education discount is only $20 for the iPad, so I’ll have to consider carefully. I think a visit to the local Apple Store is in order.