It was famous comic people night in Anne’s head

I had a beautifully long post here about a very strange dream I had.

I met comic author Lea Hernandez and her son at the supermarket, and they helped me find the right yarn for the project I want to knit (it was in the refrigerated section between the Coca Cola and the milk), and we all got free cookies that Fox picked out because i won a contest at the supermarket.

Then I went to a party with my friend Steen and her daughter at a ski lodge, where some of the guests from another party, including Neil Gaiman, thought our party was cooler so they joined us. (Neil had planned to hang out with Scott McCloud and Amanda Palmer, but Scott was sick and Amanda was in New Zealand. Scott, if you’re reading this, get well soon! Amanda, I don’t know if you’re really in New Zealand right now, but it sounds awesome.)

Then we all went back to my house (which wasn’t my house – it was located where my parents house is, but it was my friend Camille’s parents’ mountain cabin from that trip we took 20 years ago) but we got lost on the way. This happens so often in my dreams that it didn’t even stress me out (this time). Friends shouldn’t let friends dream and drive. But if you have to dream and drive, it helps to invest in a good dream-based GPS, which apparently I had with me, in the purse I carried in high school.

Once at my house, we figured out who would be sleeping where (Steen and her kid got the big bed because there was a Tinkerbell decal with “Christine” over the bed, and Neil Gaiman was totally OK with taking one of the two twin air mattresses on the floor. My brother took the other one.) and we got down to the task of partying, which consisted of some people jamming on the guitar, others talking about writing, and still others playing Killer Bunnies.

The reason I wrote this beautifully long post was because as I wrote it, I realized that a whole bunch of situations that would have totally stressed me out when awake (like, how do you ask an autistic kid to help you at the supermarket? Is it rude to just assume he could and would help? And how do you say “Just pull up a chair,” to Neil. Fucking. Gaiman? And is it really OK to give the only guest bed to the person with the kid when you have people with bad backs and people who get cold easily and famous people in the house? And why do all my dream parties look like high school theater cast parties?) totally failed to stress me out at all.

In fact, I woke up because in the dream I was starting to stress out about what I looked like and suddenly had the need to put makeup on (which, by the way, I screwed up. I painted lip gloss on my eyeball, trying to use the lip gloss as eye shadow) and guests started asking me questions like “Do you really think Neil Gaiman wants to be at YOUR party?” and I realized I must be dreaming because I hadn’t been stressed out about this stuff the whole night and it was stupid to put on makeup just because someone famous I wanted to be friends with was at my party.

It turns out I am a much better person when my left brain is asleep, because my right brain doesn’t care if people might be offended or might think I’m a no-talent hack or stupid or ugly or I haven’t updated my comic in months. My right brain says, “say hi, be polite, and you might get something awesome.”

My left brain tries to put green lip gloss on my eyeball to make me look pretty for my guests, all the while telling me I can’t possibly look pretty enough for them to like me. Like whether I look nice was going to matter to Lea Hernandez and her son.

And then I had to exit the post for a split second because of an incoming text message, and WordPress ate the entire goddamned beautiful post.

I lost easily a half hour of writing, nuance, and description on a dream that it now rapidly fading from my mind as it’s replaced by grouchy dog whining.

So goodbye beautiful post and beautiful dream, good morning world, and fuck you WordPress app. I’m going to go feed the dogs.

Home sweet mess

We drove home from Virginia Beach yesterday, in fairly good weather and making fairly good time. When we finally reached the house, we found Houdini-Dog still in the kitchen where he belongs, for a change.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the only reason Chance was still in the kitchen was because the bathroom door had blocked his ability to pop the gate all the way out. So instead, he shredded the corner of the carpet he could now reach. Whee. Nothing like a 6 hour drive to come home to a pile of shredded carpet, carpet padding, dog toys, and poop.

So my first hour home consisted of mopping the floor. Joy.

Anyway, it didn’t take us long to get settled in — the house was mostly clean before we left and my sister left the place in pristine condition for us when we arrived home (sans Houdini’s attempts to escape via carpet burrowing, which she clearly couldn’t have predicted. Hell, she even unloaded the dishwasher for me.) so we mostly just need to catch up on laundry and the mail.

Sounds so simple when I say it that way, doesn’t it? How come it alway takes so much longer?

The other thing I need to do is transfer files off the laptop and onto the desktop so I can finish Tuesday’s comic, start Saturday’s, and generally get off my ass in getting my online life back in order. WordPress needs an upgrade, the Mac has a security patch to install, the laptop’s optical drive is dead, etc. etc. it never ends.

In an attempt to get off my ass a little faster, I threw out two thirds of the RSS feeds and comics I read just so they wouldn’t pose a distraction. I’ll probably throw out more as the next week or so goes. How well that will actually motivate me, I can’t say. But here’s for more blog and less late comics.

A few quick notes because the dryer’s almost done

Note 1: if you’ve registered and you’re a frequent commenter and you’ve noticed that your avatar isn’t working anymore, it’s because I switched from a cumbersome and annoying avatar system to the gravatars built into WordPress’s core. (Note: your old avatar will still work if I switch back to an old template… at least until I nuke all the old templates.)

To sent up a new avatar, go to this website and set up an avatar with an email address that matches the address you’re using here. (Your profile is here to check your contact info.) It take 15 mins or so for the system to catch up, but after that the avatar you have set up will work not only here but most other WordPress and similar blog sites.

(We’re taking avatars rated R and under if I remember correctly, so make sure to rate your image appropriately.)

Note 2: If you haven’t registered and you want to comment regularly (or even sporadically) with some assurance that I’m not going to zap your comment as spam, use the Register link in the top right corner. It’s a really good idea to comment not long after you’ve registered so I don’t nuke you as registration spam either.

Note 3: I hate laundry.

Note 4: The avatar isn’t the only change on the site that hasn’t been completed yet, but I’m not tipping my hand to the rest yet.

Note 5: the key lime pie cheesecake was delicious.

Note 6: Congratulations to Eric and Wednesday Burns-White on their successful knot-tying!

Note 7: I have too many clothes.

There’s the dryer buzzer, off I go.

Well, that was painless.

Just updated us to the latest WordPress version, and while you won’t likely see anything on the front end (if I did my job right) ho-lee hell has the admin template changed. If you’re having trouble finding things, don’t feel bad, so am I.

On the other hand, most of the changes are very good things, including better management of tags, posts, etc. It’s just getting over the initial WTF that needs to be handled.

Oh, and I’ll probably be messing with things on here quite a bit over the next few weeks — if time allows — so if you have any suggestions or requests, now’s a good time.

On Blogging, and the worlds therein

I was reading a post by our own peri-renna earlier where he noted LiveJournal’s new policy of removing the option to create new Basic accounts and he mentioned how it might just be time to leave LiveJournal as a blogging base.*

I can’t agree more, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

Let me say up front that having a membership to most of the places below is certainly worthwhile, because it allows you to a) comment on folks’ posts, and b) establish a web presence of your own because your comments will thus link back to your blog (your real one, or a LJ page that tells folks where to find your real one), thus giving you a consistent face across the web. If you don’t want a consistent face across the web, then you don’t have to worry about it.

And I practice what I preach. I have jump pages on Geocities, Comcast, Xanga, LiveJournal, and Blogger…. I have a profile on Facebook if you can find it, I sure as hell can’t…. I have a login but their software is smart enough to point straight to my blog so I don’t have to maintain an extra jump page there. I think that’s all of them. Probably.

But the ‘net’s a lot like maintaining residency. Except for this site, all those pages above are just PO Boxes that forward contacts to my home, which is here. And why is my home here?

Well, let’s look at the options.

I always viewed Myspace as a co-ed high-school sleepover when the parents were out of town. When I was old enough to hold those kinds of sleepovers, we held them on Prodigy’s chatboards, not on our own web space, because most of the planet didn’t know what web space was. So I don’t have a Myspace account — and I’m a snob — I’m proud of that.

LiveJournal’s like living in the college dorms – more civilized, but you’re still sharing a bathroom with your 20 closest neighbors, even if you don’t like them. (Xanga’s the same, only at a small private junior college that doesn’t advertise well.) Livejournal is totally about community, which is why I’m amused that they’ve shut down basic accounts. My only (totally uneducated) guess is too many “kids” (who turn out to be 35-year-olds who aged well) who move in, slip ads for the latest stock/penis/Canadian drug scam under everyone’s door 35 times a night, get kicked out, add a fake mustache, and then try it again.

Blogger is LiveJournal’s sister university, only with a different password.

Facebook is a college in the middle of the city with six separate campuses that require me to learn both the bus and the subway in order to get to class, buy groceries, hang out with my friends, or even I swear to God find the bathroom. And they tore up all the maps. There must be some skill to navigating that place that only those under 25 are privvy to, because damned if I (or most of the people my age at work) can figure it out. What’s the cheat code to see the map? Up up down down left right left right select start? The only way I find anyone is to wait until my sister’s friended them and then steal her friends.

Anyway, at some point, you graduate. Sometimes you get your own place before they boot you out the door and charge you $30 for your own damn diploma, and sometimes you don’t. I moved out early, to Geocities, which like its sister tripod resembled having your own studio apartment over a bar in a rowdy section of town — and the landlord had hung neon signs for the bar and exotic dance studio right outside your window so everyone who visited could see them. Plus, it turned out that much like MySpace now, most of your neighbors were colorblind and addicted to the blink tag drug. So regardless of how many pretty flowers you planted or how clean and usable your apartment was, just living in that neighborhood left the impression that you were just as bad.

So I moved to Earthlink, and then when we physically moved, to Comcast. But I still don’t have any address of my own on either of those (in fact on Comcast I had to use my husband’s webspace because he’s primary on the account – teh suxxors!) and like an apartment with a laid-back landlord, I’m not allowed to gut the wiring or tear out the walls even if I can paint, install shelving, and upgrade the coffeemaker. Plus, I knew that the next time I moved, I’d have to change my address *again* and after moving all these boxes and files 3 times, that was getting old.

I could have moved to They’re a nice dorm-style apartment with free blogging similar to Livejournal, lots of features, and a generally mature set of neighbors. In fact, they’re mature enough that the primary topic of most posts and blogs appear to be politics and news, so maybe they’re less dorm and more graduate housing.

But honestly, I needed to feel like I had a permanent place of my own — one where as long as I pay the mortgage on time every December, and don’t break the law (read: terms of service) I get to keep my address and all my stuff. I’d been blogging for close to 5 years by then if you count Geocities, and I had pictures, thoughts, and memories from all that time stored up. (Someday I really am going to get all of them imported into here btw.) So I shopped a lot of hosts, using Google as my real estate agent, and finally settled down here.

And even having moved here, we changed mortgage companies once, from Midphase hosting to Hostmonster. Maybe mortgage company’s a bad analogy, because they also own access to all the utilities — rabid homeowner’s association maybe? — and once Midphase had cut off my power and water one too many times for no good reason, I signed up with Hostmonster. I have only excellent things to say about Hostmonster.

As for the actual house, well, your host doesn’t provide a very good one, just a foundation and connections for all your pipes. (OK, maybe it’s more like an RV park?). So for a while I built all my own walls all the time, but that’s inefficient, especially when you’re ready to do something like change the fonts. That’s when I decided to hit the hardware store, and boy, WordPress has been awesome. (I hear Drupal is just as good, but I haven’t tried them.) You go to their website, download their software, install it, and then you’re free to do virtually anything you want. You can download someone else’s interior decoration or build your own, paint, tear out the walls, redo the piping, add free furniture, it’s all available. I’ve even found a way to add an addition (what the rest of you call a forum) and as soon as work settles down I’m going to look into perhaps building that addition.

Granted, just like finding a residence, the more features you want, the more responsibility you need to take on. I wasn’t allowed to replace the floors in my apartment, but on the other hand a guy came out to fix the leaky toilet and didn’t charge me, either.

So there you go: the hierarchy of hosting options, dressed mostly-cleanly in a housing market analogy. If you’re one of the many folks getting the itch to upgrade your digs and find yourself a new home, give it a shot! There’s no reason to torch the old place yet… but maybe you just don’t need to live there anymore.


*Editor’s note 2017: since half of these sites have disappeared since 2007, former links are now underlined.

Another quick update and babble thread

Ran some software updates over the weekend. We’re now on the latest WordPress. I also fixed the comment preview box (and stuck it above the comment entry box so you can actually see it while you’re typing) fixed the problem where my server had stopped emailing people, turned Subscribe to Comments back on, updated the comment editor, and generally cleaned things up.

I also got about halfway through fixing the Navigate by Category plug-in with significant help from Nighthawk (thank you!) on the SQL.

I downloaded a forum that’s WordPress-based with the vague general intention of integrating it to handle our comments instead of using the article-stype comments, but downloading is as far as I got.

Feel free to babble below!