The last ten years have flown by in the blink of an eye. I have, over those last few years, from time to time watched television with my little buddy in the brown chair. At least one of us, though, is getting bigger. As we were sitting together earlier today, watching Corner Gas, I found myself wondering how many more times I’ll have the opportunity to share time with my son this way. He’s ten now, and it won’t be long before sitting with Dad will be a deprecated function.
I turned to him at one point and said, “It won’t be long before we can’t sit together in this chair anymore.” He looked me right in the eye and, without missing a beat, said “Get a bigger chair.” Then he turned his attention back to Brent Butt’s misadventures.
You won’t have noticed that this blog has been laying dormant for a couple of years (define “couple”, bro). You probably won’t even have noticed that for at least the last year or so, trying to navigate to the blog produced an annoying nothingness…no error message, no text, no graphics, just….nothing. Argh.
I have tried to figure out what was causing this in the past. A couple of times, unsuccessfully. Too much else going on, and me without enough focus to really try any sort of systematic, dedicated troubleshooting strategy. Hell, most of the time I spent even attempting to resolve this issue was wasted on trying to remember the damn URLs and passwords needed to access the server and files. Sigh.
But TODAY WAS DIFFERENT. I am on holiday for a few days before Christmas, and I resolved to try and get at this issue once again. I really wanted to get at some of the content
Necessity is the mother of invention. It took me fucking forever, which perhaps isn’t so surprising given that I really have no idea what I’m doing poking around in whatever language Apache servers use to organize their affairs. Basically, I was attempting to edit a literary essay in Portuguese, without speaking any Portuguese. But persistence paid off: after a couple of hours unreasonably focusing (some would say obsessing) on the condition of the various .htaccess files and their arcane musings, it just so happened that I landed in a directory that contained the access logs for the blog. I’ve absolutely no idea how I got there, I definitely wasn’t looking for them.
Anyway, I clicked about in the access logs a bit and discovered that one “fatal error” (I’m no coding professional, but that doesn’t sound good) that seemed to be recurring today as I was trying to access the blog was something about an “undefined function” known as “eregi” being called in a particular module of code. A couple of minutes of googling revealed that “eregi” used to be, but is no longer, a defined function in the .php language (which, if memory serves, is a language used principally for manipulating data in databases of the sort around which WordPress is very much built). A couple more minutes of googling suggested that the fix might be ridiculously easy: replace the deprecated (read “bad, stinky, no good”) command “eregi” with “preg_match” and leave all the other syntax in the code alone. A few minutes later, I had downloaded the offending .php module, opened it up in notepad, found and replaced every single instance of eregi with the new and improved hero code “preg_match”, banishing the evil “eregi” to the mists of time. Then I deleted the old module on the server, uploaded the newly edited module with the updated code to the place where the old module used to live.
Then I hit the refresh button the tab in my browser that had been attempting to access this damned blog for the last several hours.
Et voilà, I was shortly thereafter:
able to access the content from 2018 that I had been thinking about;
able to write this post (after searching for another few minutes for my damned login and password, it really has been a while); and
perhaps undeservedly claiming victory over this godforsaken year of 2020. I win.
See you soon? Next step is to update the version of WordPress we’re running on here. It’s a bit of a relic. But we must save some victories for other days, no?
Ben built an “Octonauts Playset from McDonalds” tonight out of card stock and Scotch tape. It’s a fairly sizeable cube-shaped object with a door cut into it (for easy insertion of seafaring animal explorers, no doubt.)
It’s the logical sequel, I suppose, to his work from earlier today: “How To Make Tree House”, [sic] a “making book” for those interested in the correct methods of construction in relation to arboreal domiciles.
The book details how to obtain and assemble the pieces required to erect the eponymous structure, concluding with a diagram showing the correctly installed project.
I gather that attempts to describe the construction of some sort of three-dimensional object in two-dimensional space proved unsatisfying, so he moved on to modelling the structure with the materials at hand in his immediate vicinity. I know that every parent thinks this of their child, and I think every parent is right in their own way: he’s a marvel!
It’s vacation 2013! Spouse and I have been off since the beginning of July. Up ’til now, we’ve been stay-cating; we’ve been doing some (but only some) of the (many) chores that need doing around the Juniorvanian estate. That’s been mostly successful – financing arrangements had to be made as the end of a car lease approached and decisions had to be made about whether the National Vehicle Fleet was to be augmented; extensive yardwork needed to be done (the People’s Weed Whacker in particular was called into heavy service); general tidying and decluttering throughout the house was in required, and I even tackled the monstrous mess that was (and to a certain extent, still is) the garage. I have installed an amplifier and an old pair of speakers in the garage, so I now have a rock and roll outdoor work area, which allows me to spend a little more time organizing, sorting through clutter and tidying. I still have designs on using some of the airspace above the garage door to store the rear bagger assembly for the People’s Lawn Mower; there’s a pulley already in place in the general area that is just begging to fly the whole awkward contraption so that it doesn’t take so much valuable floorspace.
But staycations such as these are only so restful, so we’ve packed up the truck and headed off to Sudbury to visit Nani and Appa.
Upon arrival in Sudbury, we took a quick trip over to the golf club to which Nani and Appa belong. Ben was excited to play golf with Apps, and was very pleased to get a putting lesson from him on one of the practice greens. He was even MORE interested, once we got there, in the golf carts. After the lesson was concluded, staring at the carts lined up below the clubhouse deck, he asked me (with his usual hilariously enunciated emphasis on the interrogatory commencing the sentence) “What can we do with those golf carts, Daddy?”
I explained that WE couldn’t do anything with them, and that they were for the benefit of golfers only.
He considered that for a moment, then confidently told me, “I can practice my golf, and then we can drive one.”
Wow. The more I read of his stuff, the more upset I become that David Foster Wallace is no longer around to think about things and then tell us his thoughts.
TV-watching as a malignant cycle doesn’t even require special preconditions like writerly self-consciousness or loneliness. Let’s for a second imagine Joe Briefcase as now just average, relatively unlonely, adjusted, married, blessed with 2.5 apple-cheeked issue, normal, home from hard work at 5:30, starting his average six-hour stint. Since Joe B. is average, he’ll shrug at pollsters’ questions and say he most often watches television to “unwind” from those elements of his day and life he finds stressful. It’s tempting to suppose that TV enables this “unwinding” simply because it offers an Auschlanderian distraction, something to divert the mind from quotidian troubles. But would mere distraction ensure continual massive watching? Television offers more than distraction. In lots of ways, television purveys and enables dreams, and most of these dreams involve some sort of transcendence of average daily life. The modes of presentation that work best for TV – stuff like “action,” with shoot-outs and car wrecks, or the rapid-fire “collage” of commercials, news, and music videos, or the “hysteria” of prime-time soap and sitcom with broad gestures, high voices, too much laughter – are unsubtle in their whispers that, somewhere, life is quicker, denser, more interesting, more … well, lively than contemporary life as Joe Briefcase knows and moves through it. This might seem benign until we consider that what average Joe Briefcase does more than almost anything else in contemporary life is watch television, an activity which anyone with an average brain can see does not make for a very dense and lively life. Since television must seek to compel attention by offering a dreamy promise of escape from daily life, and since stats confirm that so grossly much of ordinary U.S. life is watching TV, TV’s whispered promises must somehow undercut television-watching in theory (“Joe, Joe, there’s a world where life is lively, where nobody spends six hours a day unwinding before a piece of furniture”) while reinforcing television-watching in practice (“Joe, Joe, your best and only access to this world is TV”).
From “E unibus pluram“, an amazing essay on what it means to watch TV. It is difficult to put in perspective the clarity of insight in this piece and the importance of its conclusions, but it blows my mind to think that Wallace was writing in 1992 – before the curiously ironic, but undoubtedly atomizing and isolating effects of widespread Internet use had become apparent to just about everybody.