A productive pandemic

When I get overwhelmed or start wondering where the last year went, I remind myself that since March I have:

  • Co-authored a book that should be published later this year
  • Migrated one of the largest library digital collections in the state to a new content management platform (link later)
  • Participated in the salvation of American democracy
  • Added a bunch of new cities to Groceteria
  • Eighty-sixed Facebook
  • Rebuilt a friendship that had been dormant for almost thirty years
  • Watched at least a hundred vintage episodes of “What’s My Line?”
  • Become disturbingly conversant in the MODS metadata schema as well as several new XML tools
  • Supervised three student capstones and independent studies
  • Managed to avoid getting a COVID-related illness
  • Done a few pretty good media interviews (radio, national magazine, well-trafficked blog)
  • Read many good books (and bought way too many more)
  • Never hoarded toilet paper and also never run out of same
  • Managed three big grant projects simultaneously and remotely
  • Only gained about five pounds and actually ended up with better labs than last year
  • Stayed reasonably sane

Try it yourself. It helps!

Silver anniversary

1996. Damn, was I ever really that young?

I thought about letting this post be my farewell to a site that’s long past its “sell by” date. My web presence is officially old enough to have graduated from college and to have lived on its own for a few years. I should probably think about turning its bedroom into a den or a library or a dungeon or something. Otherstream (or its predecessor) has outlasted six cars (sort of), five computers, four addresses, three area codes, two years in grad school, and one husband. All the other blogger kids stopped doing this years ago. And honestly, I mostly stopped doing it years ago as well.

In the past 25 years, I’ve gone from being an underemployed retail manager in San Francisco to a tenured university faculty member and librarian in North Carolina. I’ve successfully negotiated two major medical crises and many major financial crises. How we’ll I’ve navigated the several personal crises depends on your perspective. My hobby is travel now rather than sex. I spend my money on books rather than beer. I like to think I’ve becoming a more interesting and pleasant person to be around even though I was becoming much less social even before it was mandated by the current public health environment.

Most of my creative energy now goes into work and into Groceteria.com, though you can still find my random personal and pop culture sharing on Twitter. I’ve made lots of really good friends here, some of whom are even still around. Thanks!

Anyway, I’m not committing to updating in the future. But I’m also not committing to not updating in the future. I no longer have several hundred people checking in every day like I once did, so I imagine there will not be much anguish and distress either way. It’s pretty much just down to what I care about at this point. And I’m now old enough that I don’t stress over things nearly as much as I used to.

I did the big nostalgia thing five years ago. But I should probably do something to celebrate this time too, right? After all, it is still McRib season…

Refreshing

I figured it was about time for a new look, and one that is a much better responsive template than the one it replaced. I don’t do design for a living anymore (though it remains a big aspect of what I do for a living) but I still have some strong opinions:

  1. Whether I like it or not, most people access the web using handheld devices now. If your site doesn’t work well in that environment, you are not serving your users well.
  2. I very much believe that the mobile and desktop experiences should be as similar as possible (i.e. no separate templates for each).
  3. Otherstream is now something of a time capsule rather than a regular part of my daily life, but if I’m going to keep in online in whatever form, I’m also going to keep it accessible to anyone who is using a reasonably current and common browser/platform.
  4. As a librarian, I am inclined to standardize data and content as much as possible so that it is portable and easily migratable.
  5. I am not however, going to obsess over every page. Let me know if you run into problems.

If you’re still reading, thanks. I’m gonna go watch a “Perry Mason” now…

Twenty years of “that used to be a Safeway”

Twenty years ago today, this post laid the groundwork for this site, which has very dramatically surpassed Otherstream in traffic (really, does anyone even come around here anymore?) and also led to a whole new career for yer humble host.

Read the self-indulgent anniversary post here.

What was I thinking?

Why do I start doing things that will make me crazy at 9:00 on a Friday night? In preparation for getting this site SSL compliant (which actually was easier than I expected, despite some weirdness stemming from two very old WordPress plugins I should have gotten rid of a long time ago) I ended up doing a global find and replace. There were problems, and to oversimplify, when I finished the process, my site reverted to a state from sometime in 2009. I’m not entirely sure how that happened; it seems a bit random.

And then I tried to restore from my nice, fresh backup…which was apparently corrupted.

Anyway, after lots of SQL and FTP and SSH and all those other acronyms I’m glad I still remember how to use, I’m back up now for the enjoyment of all three of my fans! And everything should be pretty SSL compliant by later tonight, so you will stop seeing those “not secure” warnings that really don’t matter because you’re not submitting data anyway.

And I have a good, clean backup again. I know because I just restored from it.

Yes, I could leave the server stuff to someone else, but I don’t want to.

Anyway, I’m glad I did this site before the other one, at least.

Cross-promotion

In case you haven’t visited the other site — you know, the one that actually still gets lots of traffic and attention — you might be surprised to see how much its geographic reach has expanded in the past two years or so that I’ve been really actively updating again. There are now entries for forty of the fifty United States and eight of the ten Canadian provinces (none of the territories, alas). My goal is to get something up for all them within the next year.

Here’s a handy map:

Everybody needs a hobby…

Why…

…do weird and heart-stopping (and temporary, thank the Great Pumpkin) database outages at your web host only happen at the precise moment when you just log in to check something right before bed?

Oh well. it inspired me to do overdue backups of all my site databases. And it’s not really all that late.