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.


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…


…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.


Always hated those “I have nothing to say so why am I still doing this?” posts that have been so common on blogs the past few years as even the most committed among us have moved most of our (ahem) commentary to social media platforms or abandoned it altogether. But this is probably going to be one of those posts. Deal.

I find that I don’t want to write about current events, because current events are too horrifying and require much more analysis than I can or will give them at this point. I don’t want to write about my own life because even though I find it quite satisfying and amusing, I can’t really imagine why anyone else would. When I want to quip or to share something with “the world” I’m more likely to do it via Twitter and if I want to communicate something with my friends and colleagues, I use Facebook as often as not (although I could see myself being off that platform except for work before too long).

Actually, I’m creating a lot of content in other venues. In addition to two Twitter accounts, I’m adding content to Groceteria with a frenzy not seen in over a decade. My work (the thing I get paid for, that is) has resulted in a significant body of content, for which I’ve been awarded almost $350,000 in grants over the past five years. And I’ve published three articles in professional journals this year, one of them in perhaps the most prestigious journal in my field. I’ve also been traveling quite a bit and developing crushes on new cities–Louisville being the most recent–and I’m planning trips for August and October. I may do the traditional Toronto and/or Montréal journey a bit earlier this year to accommodate a trip to Dublin (or Seattle and Anchorage, or Winnipeg and Chicago) in the fall.

So it’s not like I’m sitting around doing nothing. I guess this platform is just the one that has to suffer right now.

Thanks again to those of you who for some reason still drop by from time to time.

And I actually am planning a “crushes on cities” post soon. A very introspective one. Really.

Still alive…

I’ve just been saying more on Twitter than anywhere else because I’ve been really busy. A lot going on at work, plus I made a weekend run to Baltimore a few weeks ago.

And I’ve been spending a lot of my free time working on Groceteria, both on research and on the site itself. It feels really good actually having the time and inclination to do that again. I didn’t realize quite how much Id been missing it. I’ve been doing things here and there over the past couple of years, particularly for the past six months or so, but my activity level is way up now. And it really helped keep my mind occupied this weekend while all the shit was happening in Orlando…all of which just gets weirder and weirder.

And speaking of surreal: Der Fuhrer is in town tomorrow night. I’ve already planned ahead so I can avoid leaving the house till all the buildings stop burning and the street fights end.

Sigh. Should’ve emigrated when I had the chance…

Otherstream at 20: The anniversary

So yeah, twenty years ago tonight, I logged onto my dialup connection and used Fetch (which I still use on occasion) to upload the original set of HTML and JPEG files that became the first version of Planet SOMA (now Otherstream). A lot has changed since then–the fact that the site no longer runs on static HTML and I no longer have a dialup connection, for example–but it’s still here after twenty years, even if far fewer people care nowadays, so I guess that’s saying something.

Maintaining this space since 1996 has done some really good things for me. It’s how I met some of my closest friends and it also led pretty directly to a midlife career change for me. It’s gotten me laid several times, and it got me married once…even if not till death did us part. It’s given me a record of an interesting period in my life and helped me frame the way I thought about that period, and it’s resulted in no small number of adventures.

In recent years, the traffic and the content have been diminishing, which is to be expected because the personal website/blog is not the cutting-edge medium it once was, because social media has taken over many of the roles a site like this used to play, and frankly because my content has become less interesting to a wider audience. The proportion of posts that mainly involve me babbling about me has increased, which is not really a good thing.

But I don’t care all that much, really. While I’d be lying if I said that reaching other people is not important–otherwise this would be a diary rather than a public website–it’s always been more about amusing myself than amusing anyone else. And it will probably continue to be that way until I decide it’s time to stop. Until that time, I hope you’ll keep coming by, either here or here or here or even here. And many, many thanks to those of you who already do, and especially to those of you who have been doing so for a long time. I appreciate it.

Back to the fun…