Otherstream at 20: 1997


As a self-indulgent tribute to twenty years on the web, I’m looking back at one year a day leading to the actual anniversary on 13 January 2016. 1997 was all about free time, road trips, building a new website, and the occasional bit of debauchery. It was also the year I started questioning my relationship with San Francisco.













Otherstream at 20: 1996

Image 14 - 5-19-96-PICT

13 January 2016 will be the twentieth anniversary of the site that became Otherstream. In a rather egotistical observance of that anniverasry, I’m focusing on one year per day in the twenty days leading up to the anniversary, linking to some favorite and important (or just inane and disposable) posts from each year. Today, we start with 1996.

Otherstream did not start as a journal/blog site–or even one named “Otherstream.” Planet SOMA was more of a static site with information about San Francisco neighborhoods, some dirty pictures, rants about annoying aspects of faggotry, and some biographical info about me. It was the early days of the web and frankly, any presence at all was was still much more than 99% of people had in that pre-Wordpress, pre-Facebook era when most people didn’t even know what a website was. i didn’t start doing personal updates till several months in.

Aside from the birth of the website, 1996 was pretty pivotal in other ways as well. It marked the end of traditional full-time employment for the next six years, the end of the car I moved to San Francisco with, and several interesting road trips. It was really the beginning of a new era for me.






From the archives

i’ve been thinking about instituting a feature here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the website, in which I would link back to favorite posts from the past two decades. I was even thinking of developing my own Twitter hashtag and encouraging my seven readers to post their own favorites. But every time I get ready to start, it seems a little pretentious and self-involved so I stopped myself.

That said, last week’s backtrack inspired me, so here’s another one.

I think this post, of which I was reminded when a friend posted this on Facebook,  still holds up pretty well too. I do like that the author of the Guardian piece stated specifically that “it certainly isn’t positioning monogamous people as more blindly traditional or less emotionally evolved than you.” That’s always been one of the things that irritated me most about proponents of polyamory, in much the same way that it galls me when anyone has the audacity to try to create universally applicable rules or definitions for any relationships other than their own.

I really don’t think this requires a hashtag, though I do have another social media-inspired backtrack post in mind about how not liking “gay events” does not necessarily equate to “internalized homophobia.” But I don’t have the attention span for that tonight. Besides, my traditional Sunday night soup was extra good. I used Italian sausage. I may have to have more now.

I think…

…I’ve decided to try to start actively having a website again. It may just be the Vienna Sausage talking, but I kind of miss it. I also kind of want to start playing DJ again, but that’s a separate issue.

I reserve the right to change my mind About both of these things in the morning.

Old enough to drink in Canada

The little websites that could but rarely do anymore™ turn 19 today.

A lot of the small updates have moved over to Twitter and the larger, more thoughtful updates seem to be in a holding pattern right now, but you never know what that coming year might bring.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have hung around this long. I still think it’s been a pretty entertaining ride.

Fifteen years of Groceteria


Groceteria.com was born fifteen years ago today with this post on Planet SOMA. It eventually eclipsed its parent site in traffic and attention and (I like to think) contributed to the growth of retail history studies online. It’s been fun despite the fact that the site was not as active over the past few years. I’m rectifying that situation, though.

So happy birthday to me. Sort of.

A crisis of content, Volume 5725

Eighteen-plus years in, I’m even less sure what this website is all about than I was in 1996. I’m also even more sure that I won’t stop updating anytime soon.

But with what? And who’s reading it?

Turns out I’ve embraced Twitter a little more easily than I expected. It works nicely when one wishes to quip, which is something I do pretty often…much more often than I post anything substantial that requires an actual attention span to write. Twitter hasn’t exactly been an audience generator, although I did pick up a couple of batshit crazy teabaggers, both of whom got scared and ran away pretty quickly.

I feel like I used to be a content creator but that I’m starting to be just like everyone else online, just sort of recycling other content in my own way, via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, while contributing very little of my own voice. Maybe after all these years I’ve done enough creating and it’s OK that I’m not doing much now. Besides, my lack of attention span for writing the stuff pales in comparison to the average person’s lack of attention span for reading any of it.

More navel gazing. Sigh. At least my navel is less prominent since I lost all that weight.

I’m still here and some of you still are too, so let’s just things as they are for now.

But does anyone care about the music videos?

Digital spring cleaning


  • WordPress updates complete.
  • Old and dormant sites, mailboxes, and SQL databases eliminated.
  • Extraneous backups deleted.
  • Eighteen months of log files removed.

I’ve eliminated 2.4 GB of stuff and have a much cleaner working environment. This pleases me.

I make no promises that this process will significantly improve the quantity or quality of content on the sites. But it may.

The geek is back

I’m a librarian working with digital collections in the IT department. By definition, of course, the geek never really went anywhere. But I haven’t been working on personal projects so much lately, or at least not web-based ones. So this weekend, I updated all my WordPress installations for the first time in a year. I’ve been continuing the process of adding Google Maps links (automating them through CONCATENATE statements in Excel and this bit of wonderfulness) to all the location spreadsheets in Groceteria.

And tonight, just for the fun of it, I came home from dinner and began installing a new archival collection management system that I’m hoping will give me much better results than flickr for serving up photos and media with richer metadata.

For a really long time the thought of working on things like this at home after working with digital collections all day didn’t seem too appealing. Throw in the inertia of a major depression as well and you end up with some unfinished projects and some dying websites. To be fair, I did finish the big video project, although it took a really long time.

Does this mean that I need a life? Or am I just finding the old one again and realizing it still fits?

Only time will tell…

10:15 on Thursday night

Quick updates in case you missed them in the other spots:

  • Great weekend in DC. Met a new old friend. Walked. Ate. Pictures to follow.
  • Quite wonderful show Monday night in Raleigh with Tokyo Police Club (been obsessed for a couple of years), Said the Whale (been amused for a couple of months), and Geographer (I didn’t dislike them but they were an odd addition to this lineup).
  • Still pondering a major road trip in August.
  • Next week’s exciting destination: a conference presentation in (hold on…) Columbia, South Carolina!
  • Planning to buy a new desktop in the next few weeks. And a new bathroom.
  • Major project winding down and hoping I’ll be maybe a little less overextended for the next year and I can focus a bit more on both the websites rather than just on the short attention span posts.