Categotry Archives: Blue Pyramid News


TMR Posts, vol. 1

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Quick Updates, Tags: , ,

Can’t get enough of my opinion? Ha ha!

If so, head on over to The Mep Report, for new quick-hitting posts like this one, which I almost cross-posted here.

It’s mostly going to be stuff like obvious news stories and general making fun (basically, the same stuff that I used to say on TMR, now in text format).

Cross-posting (except for big announcements or really important stuff) sort of undermines the idea of writing in two places. By posting different content, you need to follow two blogs just to make sure you aren’t missing anything. And that’s how they getchya. And by “they”, I mean “I”.


Crass Commercialism!

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Duck and Cover, Just Add Photo, Quick Updates, Tags: , , , ,

Hey kids!

Lest you somehow think that I have completely wasted this weekend, I am conflictedly proud to announce the availability of Duck and Cover merchandise!

Here’s an example of the kind of unparalleled quality and homespun handwritten charm you can expect from said products:

Or, if you prefer more overt puns:

This is the completion of a long-ago resolved (but undone) task of mine, at the request of a couple of regular D&C readers who aren’t even personally known to me. Also, it’s fun. Also, it’s just in time for the holidays and remarkably BP Merch sales haven’t slacked year-over-year from last year. Good thing it’s not available in malls.

Also, your money won’t be worth anything this time next year, so would you rather have money or your favorite political cartoon characters on a shirt? I mean, really.


Announcing the Bailout Betrayal Quiz

Categories: Blue Pyramid News, Tags:

You’re Adam Schiff,
representing California’s 29th district.
“In two important respects, the bill still has serious flaws: The taxpayer protections need to be much stronger, and the root of the problem – declining home values and a raft of foreclosures – has yet to be meaningfully addressed. The Senate also tacked on a host of unrelated measures to attract support.”
Despite this, you voted for the bailout because of the importance of protecting those with quarter-million-dollar savings accounts.

Take the Bailout Betrayal Quiz
and Hold ‘Em Accountable.


Under Same Management

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Quick Updates, Tags: , ,

This Blue Pyramid has not been sold.

“Established in 2006, Blue Pyramid brings to ABS three core competencies within IT support…” Hm. I wonder where they got the idea for the name “Blue Pyramid”. Or that it would somehow be associated with quality web output. Serves me right for not tying up the .com and .net extensions when I registered in July 2001.

Sure, they could’ve come up with it on their own. After all, the Gone Jackals might raise their eyebrows in my direction after their 1998 album by the same name. And of course, it’s not my name anyway. As I freely admit, I stole this concept from Ray Bradbury, who had dibs on it in 1948.

At least Google knows what’s up.

It calls into question a lot of things. Can you own a concept? Where does copyright end and fair use begin? What is the nature of intellectual property? I had a few discussions of this with people this weekend – it seems to be a burgeoning realm of law that does some good in some areas and “keeps the price of AIDS drugs high” in others. My friend Russ recently fought the law and the Russ won, reinstating a video tribute to Major League Baseball after MLB asked him to stop promoting their products. Then, of course, they gobbled up his promotion as soon as he convinced them to reinstate it. People, even (especially?) managers, often have no idea what they’re doing or what’s in their best interests. Too often, like my recent former boss’ boss, they just want to keep their head down, not get in trouble, and not have to think too closely about anything (see also today’s D&C).

It could be argued that I haven’t done much for the BP’s best interests lately, either, given the static nature of the front page, much of the content, and so on. I wouldn’t protest at this point, except to whisper Civilization-like promises of a future rebirth. Like my workplace and my self-perception itself, there’s plenty of limitless potential hot and bubbling underneath the cooled, flaky crust of day-to-day operations. When the volcanoes start popping and the earth starts moving, things are going to get good. Or at least exciting.

In the meantime, we’re plowing toward an October that has made up its mind. I argued that the October season this year really started at the top of last week, but it’ll be firmly entrenched by the end of this one. Still fighting off a coldish thing that I acquired just before traveling to Nuevo and I am desperately trying to keep out of my ears and sinuses. So far, I’m towing the line.

Good luck on same today.


Announcing the Women World Leaders Quiz!

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Tags: ,

You’re Madeline Albright!
While you have a way with words, it’s hardly always pleasant for those around you to hear them. Even though you see it as your duty to be diplomatic, this rarely means that you use kid gloves. This iron-fisted approach has given you great influence over those around you, while also making a few enemies along the way. The name you use is much sunnier than your reputation, and hasn’t been your real name for years. Check, please!

Take the Women World Leaders Quiz at Camp Kupugani Multicultural Summer Camp for Girls.


Facebook ‘Em

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , ,

I’ve spent far too much of my weekend trying to develop an application for the much-ballyhooed Facebook. We’re nearing a year since users could create Facebook apps and over five years since the original Country Quiz came out, so I figured: why not combine the two? After all, Facebook only has eleventy-billion members, so there may even be one or two who haven’t taken the Country Quiz already.

The problem is that I’ve never really learned PHP or MySQL. And rapidly, these are leaving HTML in the dust. You say increased functionality, I say decreased usability to require people to pay $100/hour for tech support. Whatever the real motivation (a combo no doubt), wrestling with the edges of what one knows about these things as a self-taught intermittent web designer is roughly as much fun as being the feature entree at a banquet for piranhas, big cats, and twenty-six-foot-high spiders. But perhaps slightly more painful.

This is not necessarily a cry for help. But if any of you have, say, designed a Facebook application in the past or really love explaining PHP to novices, I wouldn’t exactly say no.

With or without assistance, I optimistically (naively?) believe that I can get this thing chunked out before June. Depending on the timelines of other projects (it was, after all, a setback in the new quiz I’m working on that enabled me to thus spend my weekend in the first place). And then I will be begging you all to download and use (read: beta test) my lovely new application.

I’m pretty much set with the whole thing, except getting (A) results into profile boxes and news feeds, (B) view friends’ country functionality, and (C) invitations to friends to add the app.

Which is pretty much everything.


Note to APDA Forum Werewolf Players

Categories: Blue Pyramid News, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , ,

So I haven’t updated in a while in part because I’ve been crafting and then moderating a Werewolf/Mafia game with a whopping 45 players online on the APDA Forum.

And just now, the Forum exceeded its bandwidth.

This is just a note to the players in this game that we are pausing the game and I would like to do anything possible to get the APDA Forum back up and running ASAP. I can’t imagine it taking longer than the first of the month, since I think these limits are monthly. Maybe we can then figure out how to expand the bandwidth, if not do that before.

The game will continue! Even if I have to find another forum to revive it in, we are not going to stop the game like at least one past game was halted by a Forum crash. So do not despair and do not stop thinking about the game! It will be revived.

And now, I must away to baseball. Hopefully it will be restored as early as tonight.


Photo Diary of India & Nepal Update

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, India & Nepal '08 Trip, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , , ,

Little is so humbling as setting slightly optimistic goals and then being bowled over with malaise and inertia. The fact is that I have found myself so overwhelmed by the online efforts I would like to produce that I have been unable to make any progress on any front.

But for now I bring you the slightest bit of progress: a landing page for the Photo Diary of my time in India & Nepal. It’s not much, but it’s a start… and it gives me a place to send all my friends who don’t read this blog so they can check for updates on their own.

There is more to come. I have a to-do list a mile long, almost all of it involving webby projects. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like without the Blue Pyramid’s demands hanging over my head. Less connected and quieter, to be sure. But would I have written 3 more books?

Enough of such concerns for now. Today is booked, so little more will be coming out today. And then it’s a work week. But it’s March, which offers hope of loosing the chains of inertia. Not losing them, to be sure, but loosing them. I know you were wondering if that was a typo.

Type. Oh.


And Now for Something Completely Different

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Politics (n.): a strife of interests masquerading, Quick Updates, Tags: , , ,

No update from the trip that was today. Or at least not yesterday, bleeding into today as it now is. I was fully intending to, and I was probably going to do some other stuff with my night as well, when I got bowled over with a (thankfully brief) project.

Em & I were watching the primary returns come in, already yearning for a time when there were more names and more excitement than we’re down to in this, the allegedly most wide-open year in American presidential politics of our lifetime. And the old discussion came up about whether the Republicans counting all primaries/caucuses proportionally – instead of the status quo, which contains a smattering of winner-take-all, proportional, and mixed counting – would have changed any of the results.

Emily asked and I chalked this up as a quick trip to Google. But either someone’s done it under the wrong keywords or not at all… somehow, in this modern era of instant punditry and an army of political paraprofessional bloggers, could it be that no one had actually run the numbers?

This kind of stuff is now just about my (new) job, so you’d think I’d be tired of it after spending most of my 8 hours today slogging through statistics. But I simply had to know. And I’m glad I found out, because the results will blow your mind.

The fact that this kind of thing isn’t front-page news is either surprising or very much not so. I guess it’s one of those moot points of alternate scenario simulation, since there was never even so much as a tangential discussion amongst the Republican top brass that they might change this age-old system of assigning delegates. But, much like the superdelegate thing, it’s got to make you wonder if people are even pretending there are direct links between the voters and the final decisions.

Anyway, I’m already imagining possible follow-up calculations, such as (obviously, and no one do it while I’m at work tomorrow!) what if all the Democratic primaries/caucuses were winner-take-all? That’s a lot simpler to figure out, although it’s also beyond unrealistic since it’s clearly “going in the wrong direction”. Not that this superdelegate thing giving Hillary a chance to still maintain the monarchy by backroom means is much better.

In any case, I’m plenty burned out on that project for now. It was one of those things, maybe like the old 64-team APDA national tournament concepts, that I just had to sit down and crank out in its entirety without pausing to consider what else I could be doing with my time. I hope someone pays at least a little attention. How did Julian Sanchez put it so long ago… “Storey Clayton is a crazy, crazy man. But the tropical heat of obsession has yielded entertaining fruit in this case.”

That’s damn right.


Today’s Photos: Delhi & Kathmandu

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, India & Nepal '08 Trip, Quick Updates, Tags: , , ,

Day three of my eighteen-day photo tour of India & Nepal (which before today hasn’t actually featured any India or Nepal) is up on the page.

More to come soon, hopefully still keeping up on the daily pace even during the work week.

In other news, today was totally shot down by a migraine, though I’m briefly through the worst of it, if my luck holds. I was long overdue for one and didn’t even have a terribly debilitating one throughout the trip (a minor one and a half, if memory serves). So no complaints, though this one’s been heavy on the vision-reduction as well.

Many reasons for keeping the update quick again today.


Today’s Photo Uploads: Air Over Afghanistan

Categories: Blue Pyramid News, India & Nepal '08 Trip, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , ,

So I think I’m going to be releasing these roughly daily, which means I can keep up the pace of uploading photos without spending all my time on it and/or driving myself crazy.

Today’s photos are from the 25th of January, a plane day from London to Delhi. I really only took pictures out the window of Afghanistan, but there are several pretty good shots.

I’ve also added a category to these posts about the trip. And text transcriptions of my journal there will be coming soon.


Back from India, etc.

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, India & Nepal '08 Trip, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , , ,

Well I’m back from India, as should be relatively obvious from the recent spate of Duck & Cover updates (I missed Thursday because the internet was down), as well as the overhaul of the page theme here. It was an incredible time and I’m going to try to let the pictures and primary source writing from there tell the story.

To that end, here’s the first page of photos from the trip. I’m going to just periodically upload one day at a time and roll it out in installments. Similarly with the writing. For now, it’s all I can commit to. You should also be forewarned that the pictures are very large, averaging about 2/3rds of a megabyte each, and there will be tens of pictures on each page. So if you don’t have a superfast connection, grab a book while you wait for the pics to load.

Maybe it’ll be fun to watch this be released serially instead of all the photos and writing at once. Hopefully that’ll be the case.

In the meantime, I’m absolutely exhausted. Emily and I had our sleep schedules totally distorted upon return and have been waking up at 4 AM all week. Which is better than waking up too late for work, but still somewhat problematic. And today we were completely wiped out, unable to do anything at all despite needing to do a good deal to catch up from our time away. I would really think that jet-lag would wear off after five days, but my Mom pointed out that we have been going straight with travel or work without a break for basically 4 solid weeks. So I guess it makes sense to be this worn out.

Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up with people this weekend, not to mention some errands. We can’t stay this weary forever.


Country Quiz II

Categories: Blue Pyramid News, Tags:

You’re Iran!
People can’t stop talking about you these days. Even though you’re just doing what you normally do, everyone’s eyes seem to be on you wherever you go. Attention is nice, but this is starting to get a little ridiculous. After all, you just want a normal life like all the big people have. But it seems they think you were born to be one of the little people. A particular little person is about to get you in a fair bit of trouble. When you read books about reading Lolita, it totally blows your mind!

Take the Country Quiz II at the Blue Pyramid


Uncollected Works

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Let's Go M's, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Video Games Killed the Free Time, Tags: , , , , ,

While you’re waiting for the Country Quiz II to be out (maybe tonight?), here are some random assortments to tide you over. And if you’re wondering why there hasn’t been anything big, it’s because the CQII is about to come out. Latest calculations have it that it takes me an hour to write 8 answers, fully coded. There’s also the question tree (done a while back), the image collection (done more recently), and getting all the merchandising ready to go ahead of time (a significant time-suck). So it sort of saps the creativity. Non-stop writing and coding will tend to block out other writing.

The 2007 Mariners (in my MVP 2005 season) are 9-2 (.818) since switching back to All-Star level. One of the losses was a heartbreaker where Travis Blackley coughed up two solo homers in relief in the 7th inning of a 1-0 lead. They also lost the first of the 11 games on All-Star, so they’ve won 9 of 10. This is looking most auspicious, but admittedly most of these games were on a tour of NL Central ballparks – not exactly stellar competition. The sweep of the Pirates just completed was the first sweep of the season – in the second week of June. Just before, RJ took a no-hitter into the 7th in Milwaukee. Thus, the playoffs are looking at least like a longshot instead of an impossibility.

The CQ2 has 32 of 64 answers completely written. Full merchandising of about 80 items per design will be available at launch. Additionally, a new advertising strategy is going into place with the launch of this quiz. You wouldn’t want everything to be just like the original, would you? I briefly thought about holding the launch till the day of the 5th anniversary of the original (it would be 18 January 2008), but timed launches of quizzes have never exactly served me well. It’s going up this month, and probably within minutes of me finishing it.

After a few months of notable average improvement, I’ve gotten beaten down with the migraine stick this month. Maybe seasonal changes have something to do with it. I’m also noticing a November pattern, given how concerned I got about these things last year at this time. Still, overall severity seems down big in 2007.

After the longest-ever 4-day week last week, it’s hard to get as excited as I’d be inclined to be about a 3-day week upcoming. Who knows how long those 24 hours can be? But there’s reason to believe they’ll be relatively straightforward, a brief lull between twin storms of last week and the entirety of December. In other news, there is no news yet, but there will be by ’08.

Finally, Free Rice is perhaps the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

This is my 62nd post in StoreyTelling, in its 48th day. Duck and Covers count for exactly half (31) of those posts.


News You Can Use

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Quick Updates, Upcoming Projects, Tags: , , ,

Or read, at least.

You probably can’t help but noticing that this page has been overhauled, as the October season wanes and is replaced by an oncoming winter. At some point I may try to institute one of those snazzy things that lets you choose which theme to use when reading, but for now the change is complete, and affects back-posts. So the pumpkins are gone, either till I figure out how to let themes coexist or until next October.

Since we’re on blogging news, I want to introduce everyone to my Dad’s new blog, Qala Bist .com. He’s actually been writing since early October, but we’ve been ironing out the kinks of him having a blog, getting the style set, and so forth. My Dad and I, despite our uniqueness, rarely do anything alone. So it’s only fitting that he start this up now. I think you will find his posts to be much like his interior design, for those of you familiar with that… layered, textured, fascinating, and (above all) colorful.

I have a couple of larger post ideas brewing in my mind’s eye, but it’s just not happening tonight. I spent tonight on the phone, which was great but cumulatively tiring. There’s even more news on the horizon on several fronts, but nothing to really delve into yet. Except one thing, I guess: I can almost promise that The Country Quiz II will be out this month. Note the “almost”. But if I went ahead and promised, then I would force myself to make good on it, whatever the consequences.

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day.” Or perhaps “today was just a day fading into another.”

To read. To sleep. And not to dream.


I’m Feeling Lucky

Categories: A Day in the Life, All the Poets Became Rock Stars, Blue Pyramid News, Read it and Weep, Tags: , , ,

I have spent the better part of the last 2.5 hours finally updating the list for OMBFP. (This stands for One Million Blogs for Peace, but I really only call it OMBFP. That’s how I roll.)

Anyway, updating this list for the first time since 9 September (read: +67 blogs), laboriously copying and pasting into my detailed database (read: spreadsheet), and sifting through the attempted splog signatories (read: many many cialis many) has transformed my mood from, say, somber and reflective to, perhaps, giddy and punchy. (I seem to really lack a giddy-n-punchy post here as yet, but parts of this are close.)

So I was wending my way towards the end of my computer evening by doing my last nightly round-up of websites, many of them to see how the Blue Pyramid’s doing today. (Despite this blog’s resurgence, October is a way down month after a banner September and a very good August.) And I got this post as one of the recent updates, which of course reminds me of the fact that if you type in “best books ever” on Google and click I’m feeling lucky, you get the list I made. And not even the updated list I made or the good list I made with tens of other people. It’s this list I made in 1998. For years now, that has been Google’s definitive #1 answer to the question of what the best books ever are. With quotes or without. Rain or shine. Lucky or discerning. And boom.

The irony? About the not being widely read in fiction (yet) but my opinion on books is my great Google success? Oh yeah.

You’d be amazed at how often people try to find the “best books ever”. A lot. Just since switching to my new servers on 3 October, people have headed for the BP after searching for best books ever 1,095 times, best books of all time 325 times, best books ever written 240 times, greatest books of all time 110 times, and greatest books ever written 83 times. There are seven more similar search strings with 50+ times.

Why me? To what do I owe this bestowal of random authority on books?

One of the only things I’ve ever been able to discern about this supernaturally high ranking (a cool 142 million sites show up for best books ever) is that my posting of this to the web on 22 February 1999 just gave me “dibs”. (Someday I will again be able to think of this phrase and not think of the crunchy ice cream snack. Curse you, Dreyers, for replacing my thoughts of swell 50’s-era phraseology!) I got in the door first, and everyone had to get in line behind me. This is not exactly how search engines work, but it’s close to some principles thereof. It hasn’t held up for the quizzes as much, which have flirted with front-page rankings and since subsided. But dibs in 1999 and dibs in 2003 are way different animals. Ice cream aside. (Incidentally, Dibs the ice cream has overtaken Wikipedia’s article on dibs the calling-aide for the coveted I’m Feeling Lucky spot for dibs. I wonder if they called dibs.)

There has to be more to it than getting in the door first, though. And I think a lot of it has to do with people being afraid of using a term so definitive as “best books ever written”. There has been much made throughout my educational history of it being intellectually savvy to equivocate. It occasionally backfires for politicians, but it’s quite sound for an academic. As long as one is willing to hem and haw, to go back and forth, and to constantly modify every statement (“‘I’ statements, please!”) with qualifiers, then one can’t possibly be driven off their point, however watered down into oblivion. I, being an extremist, had no problem dubbing (note: not dibbing) my list with an incredibly over-the-top phrase. (Though note again, not without some self-awareness, in tacking on the all-important “(More or Less)” to the back end of the list. See, that’s being able to laugh at yourself while still being an extremist! Note also that, to date, not a soul has found the BP by searching for the phrase more or less.)

The point is that anyone else who was willing to make a list of 100 books that they thought were the peachy-keenest (peachiest-keen?) would also be very careful to moderate their title for it so it seemed reasonable. And so it was probably years until anyone else went grandiose on their title. And by then, they had to get in the back of the line.

Not all of my Googular victories are so coveted. It’s possible the Weakerthans already had some inkling of who I was, because I’ve topped the list for weakerthans setlist since shortly after the show in SF in December ’04. Depending on whether you put a space in setlist (please, sir, can I have more semantics?), there are only 5k-19k competitors. I get both, despite the words “set” and “list” not appearing separately in the aforementioned setlist. Google is getting smarter.

Despite feeling so lucky here, only 8 times has someone landed at the BP after searching that string (this October).

I was pleased to note just today that I also top the list for 2008 presidential ticket, mostly (I would surmise) because of the ungainly nature of that phrase. Despite the election year fervor, this string shows up less than a quarter-million times on the interwebs. And I named a quiz after it!

It’s also worth noting, though (lest I feel too lucky), that not once this October, but twice, someone has shown up at the BP after entering the following words into Google:
the parralel between jim crow and to kill a monking bird

Maybe it’s time to start a third incarnation of the Search of the Week. That or start investing in the acquisition and sale of monking birds. I hear they’re like crows.


O, October!

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, But the Past Isn't Done with Us, Read it and Weep, Tags: , , ,

My thoughts are scattered and they’re cloudy.

The Blue Pyramid, despite the fact that it’s still deciding what exactly it wants to do with itself and where it’s going next, is quite popular according to Technorati. And Technorati should know. But despite spending at least a week with its listing as being in the coveted Top 100 of Technorati blogs, it still fails to actually show up on this list. It should be about 71st, they say. But it isn’t.

This could be due to many factors, including the gut-check reality that the Blue Pyramid itself is not, strictly speaking, a blog. But this isn’t keeping it from being listed as one anyway. In any event, I will be happy with the BP for exceeding the likes of Andrew Sullivan and CNN’s Political Ticker and Cute Overload.

I really wanted to post yesterday. It was one of those dramatic crazy days where most of the people one knows have become pod-people overnight, often losing their self-awareness in the process. Everyone was able to recognize that it was a tremendously weird day, but also insisted on finding organic reasons for the problem. Including it being close to “the holidays”.

Not even in my world, where Halloween reigns supreme, are we close to “the holidays”.

So what is it about October, anyway?

I spent too much of the other morning and last night trying to track down a foreword or afterword from Ray Bradbury where he succinctly cuts through so much of the October mystique. Bradbury, already my favorite author when I read the passage the first time, cut through so much of what I’d felt about October my whole life in a single series of passages, with bone-jangling clarity. I was taken aback and, like the Watership Down passage I quoted a few days ago, it has stayed in the back of my mind ever since.

But try as I might, especially in a dedicated quest last night, I couldn’t find it among any of my seemingly endless Bradbury tomes on the shelves. Granted, our books are still disorganized 20 months after moving into our current apartment, so searching is not as straightforward or likely to be fruitful. I searched about twelve times through The October Country (the man has a book about October and it’s not in there?!) and just got frustrated.

I went and updated my Facebook profile. Facebook asked me for favorite quotes. All I could think of was the increasingly resonant line from “Magnolia” (the movie), “The book says we may be done with the past, but the past isn’t done with us.”

I went back to the bookshelf. Yestermorrow seemed like an impossible longshot, but let’s give it a go. All I found, buried against the spine like it was trying to hibernate through a long winter, was a movie ticket on page 5 from a special theater showing at Century Rio of “Gone with the Wind” from 7/26/98.

Thanks, October.

Today, I almost thought it was the prologue from Something Wicked this Way Comes. But it wasn’t quite extensive or thorough as I remember. It might be the one I was remembering, buffeted by the continual references to the seeping of the October world into one’s mind in a novel set entirely in the last week of this pivotal month.

But I somehow don’t think it was. And I still can’t find it.

There is something in this fruitless search that is like the month of October itself. Elusive, frustrating, and yet exciting and seeming perhaps more monumental than it really is. I tried to put some ghost lights up next to my pumpkin lights today at work. They flickered and died shortly after being hung. They spent much of the morning going on and off at will. Now they’re just off.

They are ghosts, after all.

Perhaps I can substitute Bradbury’s exposition on October with my own attempt to capture this fleeting spirit in Loosely Based (not coincidentally the opening paragraph of Chapter Thirteen): “It was the first night in October, but Matt would’ve bet money that it was the last. He had a sense of foreboding that could easily be associated with Halloween, with the prowling night and its wayward spooks. Leaves had already begun to flee the trees, and a large branch, now barren, swung between a lamppost outside his dorm window, leaving a continual silhouette against the cloth shade. The outlines of this haunting shadow were just visible in the descending night, as darkness fell a hair earlier on this eastern side of the building.”

Things come alive in October. That life you always knew you were living, but couldn’t quite place amongst the day-to-day comes ricocheting out of its cocoon at 120 miles an hour, knocking everything in its path sideways. You are in its path, and go sideways, and suddenly see how it was all supposed to be all along, horizontal turned vertical. Sick to your stomach, you wonder why every day can’t be like this, why everything is half-asleep and tepid. After three days of it, you burn for the tepid, or anything calmer and slower than this.

Yesterday, I was burning. Today, the tepidity is challenging me with its own brand of fiery madness. It’s like 2002 has smashed right into 2007. And why not? Five years. Is it time to let go of this phase, this chapter, this repackaged but lucrative version of time in the seat? If I didn’t respect it in school, why do I respect it here? Because I have the illusion of more control and of change? Because I like feeling part of something larger, with many hands on deck? Because a little bit of schedule seems like the only anchor between me and a life of Octobers?

The baseball commercials remind me “There’s only one October.” And how. This is my twenty-eighth, and I promise you they’re all the same.


From Cleveland, Tennessee to Orem, Utah

Categories: Blue Pyramid News, Metablogging, Tags: ,

This is the official announcement that the Blue Pyramid has moved from Tennessee to Utah. In the early morning hours of this very day, the Pyramid stole away from a state with an actual pyramid (though down the road in Memphis) to a state with… pyramid-shaped mountains?

The 1,808-mile journey took just a few hours (though it somehow took longer for these changes to be recognized in Chicago).

This post, of course, is referring to the actual physical location of the Blue Pyramid, which is a very small section of disk space on a server. The internet collectively likes to avoid open acknowledgement of the fact that it actually does physically exist somewhere. Indeed, the nature of the internet’s ethereality and widespread accessibility is one of the things I like most about it, both in reality and as a metaphor for the very lives we ourselves are leading. The physical is the least important of all dimensions, or at least the most overrated. But it is there, and worth noting from time to time.

If you’re wondering what’s in Cleveland, Tennessee, it’s Coastland Technologies, who I am even now (though that will soon be taken down) promoting on the BP’s front page. The BP has been on CoastlandTech since its inception in January 2002, and it’s really hard to let go of the relationship I’ve had with them. I would still recommend them to anyone who is just starting out and doesn’t need much space.

But I do need space, and space is so ridiculously cheap right now that it just doesn’t make sense to hold onto a 150 MB limit. CT starts you out with a 50 MB limit, and I was able to negotiate an extra 100 MB for only one extra annual charge in exchange for the link on the front page. I’ve spent much of the last month butting my head against that ceiling, and eventually I just had to break free. By contrast, I now have 300 GB (yes, with a G) for about $3 more a year (2-year commitment). For 1 GB at CT, I would’ve had to shell out $20/month, as opposed to $6 at HM for 300 (making CT literally exactly 1,000 times as expensive at the GB level). Please note that this does not mean CT is a bad deal if you don’t need much space, but it is if you want more.

I’m now with HostMonster, who I discovered when we were looking for a new high-bandwidth home for the Mep Report around this time last year. I used that year as a bit of a trial-run of HM and I’ve been generally pleased. One of my main reasons for picking HM besides the overall package and price is that I like Utah as a physical location. Not to live, but to be secure. You may think a website’s physical spot doesn’t matter, but when the chips are down, it really can. Dreamhost was looking like a great option until a heat wave sparked power outages that brought one of the most popular set of servers on the planet crashing down for days. (Remember the day MySpace was out? Yeah, that was Dreamhost. Not on MySpace? All you need to know was that this was a very big, expensive deal.)

Utah is about the best place I could possibly imagine for keeping a server safe. There are no earthquakes, no floods, no tornadoes, no hurricanes. It gets cold, but not absurdly so, and servers tend to like cold. It is extremely unlikely that Utah will get nuked in my lifetime. Pretty much the biggest threat to Utah servers has to be some sort of breakaway movement or revolution in the state, but they would probably quickly negotiate favorable trade agreements with the United States thereafter being, as they are, surrounded and economically dependent on the big country.

So now the only issue is how to fill this massive amount of space. I have become so accustomed to running web projects on the barest of byte-budgets that I can’t fathom how much room I have to grow (I have literally 2,000 times the space I used to). At the same time, budgeting byte-usage can be a good tactic on the web, since every byte has to be downloaded, sometimes by people on (gasp!) dial-up or other slow connections. Part of the BP’s ability to be user-friendly has certainly related to quick loading times.

In the meantime, please let me know if anything was dropped in the transfer. If any part of the BP is not functioning properly, an internal link doesn’t work, or something’s just missing, please give me a heads-up. Moving 1,808 miles is pretty seamless on the web, but it wasn’t necessarily perfect. And I’ll get to work on updating all the parts of the BP that aren’t quite accurate anymore…


Introspection, My Worst Friend (2000-2007)

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, But the Past Isn't Done with Us, Metablogging, Tags: , , ,

After 2,681 consecutive days (take that, Cal Ripken!) of updating Introspection, my first-ever blog has come to a close. It ran daily (though yes, sometimes updates were actually typed and uploaded afterwards) from 13 March 2000 through 15 July 2007.

While there was no particular significance to the first day of updates, the last days were laden with noteworthiness. The last Introspection entry was just two days after my fourth wedding anniversary and just 9 days after the 10,000th day of my life.

It was never my intention to give up on Introspection. If you had asked me most any time during its seven-and-a-half-year run how long I’d be keeping up the blog, I’d have told you “forever”. But forever never seems to be around when it ends. So it goes.

At the same time, I probably never could’ve anticipated the rapacious appetite which I brought to blogging in the first place when Introspection started the morning after that strange dream of many teeth. It wasn’t even called blogging then. Prior to the project, I’d never been able to maintain a journal or diary past a couple weeks on a daily pace, or more than five days out of fifty at a more forgiving rate. I’d always aspired to the concept, but they had fallen down like so many “chapter ones” it paralleled. Somehow, Introspection was able to quickly transcend all prior benchmarks and capture my imagination. No doubt the public nature of the journal had a great deal to do with that, and the early reactions it got (most of them negative). It was a way to try to shake free of the doldrums of one of the worst years of my life, measure its rapid change, then return, and then just became a method to try to talk my way out of whatever I patterns I’d fallen into in a relatively lonely college existence. The rest, as they say, was history… for a while.

Like most things, Introspection didn’t just heave up and keel over, but it faded over time. It was starting to seem like a chore more than a joy, and there were a couple of large hauls where my updates had to be backfilled for weeks at a stretch. I knew it was a red flag once I’d let updates lapse for my own benchmark of 40 days… the fabled line for designating someone for “Italics Purgatory” on my own (now rarely updated) list of friends’ blogs.

Then I went to Oregon, and came face-to-face with a life lived long before Introspection or the internet. My life there (from 1988-1993, ages 8-13) was incredibly tumultuous and successful, with independent experiences coloring every individual year. Never before had I been able to look at this period of time as one unit, to (paraphrasing Jake) pull a string through it and reveal myself as I really was. The trip was ostensibly to celebrate our anniversary and show Em where I spent those (all too stereotypically) formative years, but I wound up showing myself much more. After a night at the Coaster Theater in Cannon Beach watching a delightful play, having run from a half-decade’s worth of ghosts all over Clatsop County (ghosts made more present by the absence of anyone who had actually been there from ’88-’93) for a week, I just about broke down. What would everyone then think of me now? Look at how little I had managed to accomplish! Whatever happened to the kid who skipped 4 grades, got beaten up, and then skipped 4 more instead? Who wrote for the paper, took first at the state fair in photography, starred in plays? Is that really all that became of him? He was going to be something…

That night, I didn’t know how to write about it. Nor the next. Nor certainly upon my return. I was rapidly faced with my “Ketchup Doughnut” of blogging – the writing piece to end all future writing pieces of that form. (Though at least in KD’s case, I had actually written the piece itself. Additionally, the irony of the setting of KD being in the heart of those Oregon days is duly noted.) Meanwhile, the whole experience was prompting a whole revival of questioning and self-doubt in my path in life. The echoes of my all-caps declaration on 10 June 2007 (echoed on the next-to-last day, 14 July 2007) about living by momentum instead of direction continued to reverberate. By the time a whole bunch of nonsense started breaking out at work – things I couldn’t really talk about in less than cryptic ways on Introspection – there was just too much to overcome.

Many people noticed, some seemingly calling my attention to the lingering lack of updates as though I myself had somehow missed it. Some said it was time to just “start it up again”, chalking up the days gone by as missing time and returning to Introspection like an alien abductee months removed and unaware that anything had happened. But I, it has been said, am an absolutist, and Introspection was always about the daily updates. That was as much the project as anything else. And it was broken.

Like so many other things, it was time for a change. This period of time after my trip to Oregon has been borne with a significance of changing that which needs to be changed, especially in how I spend my time and what my presence is online. I quit The Mep Report, my podcast with Greg & Russ (who are still continuing the project with Greg’s wife Clea). I have de facto suspended Questions for God, putting it in the category of many other supposedly frequently updated facets of the Blue Pyramid. I stopped using an Introspection-level requirement of daily updates for Duck and Cover, my webcomic, relaxing it to a looser weekdays-when-I’m-around schedule. More such changes and overhauls are probably in the works. I did manage not to quit my job, though it was probably close there for a couple weeks.

And now to blogging. (I have made peace with this term, by the way. I used to despise it in the early years of Introspection. It still sounds awkward and superficial. But there’s only so long one can resist a term that language has chosen for a phenomenon without just being resistant to the concept of language.) Much as I always thought Introspection would go on as long as my life, so I thought blogging would naturally be a part of it (this is tautological). My fervor for the concept of blogging, of a life lived in public, of communication with a broad base of friends and strangers about innermost perceptions and feelings, has not waned. But some things have to be different this time.

Change is naturally something that seems scary to most. But change is also rivetingly exciting, and gives us the opportunity to do things differently than we did them last time. This is as near a simulation as we get in this lifetime to doing things right the first time, something which most thoughtful people yearn for daily. So I’ve been mulling over the changes that need to be made, and hopefully this blog, StoreyTelling, will be a reflection of that.

The biggest thing that need(s/ed) to change is the length of entries. The tendency of Introspection to speak in quick cryptic bursts was dually the result of my primary (almost exclusive) original blogging influence, ‘Lisha, and my own inclination to write quickly and frequently. While it worked for a long time, it’s not the best practice for someone whose current writing projects almost all have targets in the hundreds of pages. As ridiculously corny as it sounds, I need to stretch my writing muscles. I have been a sprinter most all my life, and I need to work on being a distance runner. (Don’t quote me on this, folks, it’s a metaphor… I do not intend to show Miss Gatewood how fast I want to run.)

The other thing that has to go is the obsession with daily updates. It’s a good goal, a good target, but it’s remarkable the impact that relaxing about this has had on Duck and Cover. It’s incredibly difficult for me to not be an absolutist and extremist about everything, and to push myself to the limits of what a project will allow. But I’ve done that show, and I have 2,681 shiny days to show for it. I think I can be happy with that. (You have no idea that the fact that this number is longer than Ripken’s games-played streak in baseball really does make me feel better.) Now it’s time to start creating more space for myself. I really don’t do well when under a “sense of obligation” (I’ve had countless debates about this concept with a lot of friends in the last few months, so don’t get me too started). And no one puts more obligation on me than myself (though this sometimes makes me feel even more insulted when others do it). So maintaining projects like blogging openly, honestly, and without holding back without the burden of a daily drumbeat should be really helpful to making a better overall result. I will miss the ability to point to any single day in my life and know something I was feeling at that precise moment, but I’m hoping it will still be a rare day when I can’t do that.

Finally, there’s something to be said for all this fancy new blogging technology they have nowadays. Most all of my webpage is hand-coded and will probably continue to be. And this auto-blogging still feels clunky to me and I’m frustrated with how inexact some of the things are as the result of relying on a template (albeit one that I altered pretty significantly). But I can learn to work with these parameters. Meanwhile, I pick up the ability to automatically have an RSS feed, pinging, and (most exciting), sortable categories for my posts. This ability to cross-reference and sort information has always been among the best aspects of the web and the very concept of links, and it’s very exciting to think that this blog can be read exclusively for one facet or another of its content. (For example, it’s likely that someone could come here next season and read this only as a Mariners blog. Meanwhile, you non-baseball people won’t have to be overwhelmed by the quantity of Mariners content and feel disinterested.) I can easily see amassing an overwhelming number of categories (ahem, Helen), so I’ll have to watch that. But maybe it will be okay. These things are pretty flexible with all the quick-change updating and editing options.

Plus, I get more titles and endings. And if I know anything about what I value in writing, it’s titles and endings. Seriously.

Oh, and even though I can’t seem to get rid of them looking like they’re going to appear, there will be no comments. There’s such a thing as too much change. I welcome your e-mails and your own blog posts, but there’s never been any part of this project that has involved wanting other people attaching their comments to it. This is a stand-alone work. At their worst, comments are from random people and extremely negative; at best, they are the equivalent of permanent small-talk. E-mails and other blog posts rarely seem to have the same issues.

So I’m back. So keep checking back. Not all the posts will be as long as this one. At some point, I will fill in other missing details between July and October 2007 (it’s really not that long, is it?) in an effort to keep a pretty continuous narrative dating back to 1998.

There are times that I can’t believe that’s still less than 10 years. And then there are times where it’s hard to convince myself I’ve even been alive that long.

I don’t think either of those feelings will ever really go away.

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