Dollhouse News


Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, detail (c1490-1510)

As I said I would last week, I went ahead and changed this website in a pretty dramatic way, de-installing my CMS (Content Management System) and opting for a website built on pure hand-coded html. To the reader I imagine it looks like very little changed, but behind the scenes it's a huge difference.

This website started in 1999 using Newsbruiser, a blogging software by Leonard Richardson. At some point I switched over to Wordpress, which offered more features and plug ins and such. Both of these are programs that you install on your web server to run your blog. Over the years Wordpress changed to be more "user friendly", in way that made it almost automatic to produce a certain kind of well-designed website, and harder and harder to do anything else. And gradually it moved from being something that you tinker with your satisfaction to something you buy prepacked themes for. Like so much of the web, it lost its amateur appeal. But I'm not here to have a professional-seeming website that looks like a kiosk at the mall, I'm here to have a professional-being website that looks like a spooky castle! So I ankled all the software and now I'm writing direct to code.

It feels great, way more fun, with lots more room to wiggle and explore. Everything is contained in a folder with no databases or extra programs, so it's super easy to add to, edit, and back up. It's also more robust-- the less moving parts you have the less likely something will break. And the fewer ins and outs you have, from an access standpoint, the less you open yourself up to a malicious entry. I got hacked a couple times over the years by spiders that injected advertising into the page, and while I like to think of all of you (readers) "crawling around in here", I don't want some nefarious agent to move in and lay eggs. I mean at least a regular kind of spider catches insects.

In time I plan on adding more rooms to this castle-- a music room, a trophy room, a lounge, a basement with a boiler that clanks, a long staircase, an observatory, a greenhouse, a bathroom. For now all I have is a looming and indistinct exterior, an entranceway, and several instances of talks given in the hall. It's extremely gratifying to jettison all pretense of making a regular looking website that can be accessed and digested, and using that energy to build a spooky castle you can hang out in! Today I'm adding a library, where I've begun to store my collected works. A good chunk of stuff is already there, readable in full from the comfort of your own device via the comfort of my dignified library.

I never lived in a castle before but we got into a weird riff about it the other day when Caity started talking castle, I guess I've been kind of thinking about it since then.

image image
I got kind of sad, or maybe melancholy is the word, thinking about this, and how far away I am from ever owning a house, or occupying a castle. But then I remembered that I've already lived in a barn, a triple decker, an office space, a spooky mansion on a hill, an old firehouse, and a decrepit New England mill... I feel like "a castle" is probably next in line, or close to next. It's only natural, really. I mean what else could possibly be next, a windmill? An aqueduct? I'm living in an apartment right now. Well, I guess I'm living in an apartment and I'm also living in this castle.


(part of) the ad Caity got


the Laird herself!

Cascading Style Sheets

OK this first part is for the html heads but everyone else bear with me-- I'm using CSS but I'm not naming my style sheet style.css as is customary, I'm calling it like style20200414.css (that's style yyyy mm dd .css). When I feel the need to redesign, I'll spawn a new style sheet with the current date and change the link in the template. That way the new pages, and any other pages I choose to adapt, can look new, and the old pages can look dignified and old. This owes a debt to one of Tom Bubul's "Design Tenets Of My Website":

All page content is subject to change, but no page's styles or structure need ever be updated. Old pages retaining old markup should be considered kin to old subway stations retaining old signage with old typefaces. Pages shall be permitted to deteriorate.
I bristled at this initially, but now that I'm thinking "castle", I like the idea that a visitor might chance upon a room that's clearly been unused for years. Also this slightly solves a problem with the previous versions of this blog, which is that old content stayed looking new for too long, and still read as new. Now the old stuff will look old, and hopefully this will entice readers to more easily imagine a more innocent time (2020/04/14).

At the same time it'll be easy to switch out new styles. Decorating a castle or any home environment is a big undertaking but just as important, if not moreso, is redecorating. It's crucial to paint the walls every now and then and put the chairs in a different location. It's good for your mind and your heart and your chairs and your rugs and your walls.


Anyway, for the record, pertaining to now (2020/04/14) the stylesheet features:


Of course I have many more CSS Tricks in play but those are for me to sprinkle around with great delight as a smile dances around my broad beaming face by candlelight. :)

Reader Mail

I had to ditch the guestbook when I ditched Wordpress, huge huge huge apologies to the Guestbook Crew! Until I figure it out, all I can suggest is to hit me with a comment at your whim's discretion with the contact form on my contact page: [link]. I'll collate some of the messages for a reader mail segment, and the rest I will regard lovingly, even if the sender remains opaque. If you're not into messages qua "a message", it's ok to just hit me with a screen name and a bunch of emoji, that's totally valid. Meanwhile...

Reader Mail

2020/04/21 in re: Mnemonics [link]

Are you still doing mnemonics? Here's a biology thing I can never fucking remember-- Genes can duplicate in the genome, usually just by a bookkeeping error where the same sequence gets replicated twice when a cell is dividing. So genomes are full of genes, and some pairs of them are twins because they are recent duplicates that have just recently started forging their own paths / diverging in sequence.

Ok so here's the part I can never remember: HOMOLOGS are any two genes that are twins-- different genes, but similar enough that we can tell they have the same origin. ORTHOLOGS are twins across different species-- mouse insulin is different from human insulin, but similar enough that you can tell they're twins, and the duplication happened be species splitting off from each other. PARALOGS are twins within a single genome-- I have a BRCA1 gene and a BRCA2 gene in my genome, they are different but we can tell there used to be just one BRCA in the human genome and now there are two.

I can never remember how the tree goes (that orthologs and paralogs are two types of homologs) or which one is within a single genome (paralogs) and which one is made by speciation and is twins across genomes (orthologs).

while I'm on the line, every time I'm on the upper east side [of New York City] (low but consistent frequency), I'm like what the fuck street am I on? How many more streets do I have to do? Because it goes 2nd ave, 3rd ave, Lexington ave, Park ave, Madison Ave, 5th ave, 6th. ???


OK, upper east side:

1 thing you need
2 remember: you go
3 streets instead of going

biology thing is a lot tougher but:

In my HOME I keep PARAdoxes and ORTHOdoxes. The paradoxes are private, and keep their problems to themselves. The orthdoxes share with others.



2020-02-11 in re: mnemonics [link]

for some reason need a mnem’ for land cruiser (good) v range rover (bad). please help


the cruiser is a bruiser, the rover's days are over


2020/03/18 in re: Tainted Alligator Soufflé [link]

I was OB SESSED with that Special Ed song for years! Put it on my first ever Friends Mix which maybe I sent you a copy of? Specifically I always loved the things he made up to make himself sound rich that were so farfetched no one would possibly believe them and so the only thing to think is that he’s actually bragging about his imagination.

My favorite lines are: “kinda fond of Honda scooters, I’ve got 74” and “maybe later cause my waiter made potatoed alligator soufflé.” I like the first line because it always makes me picture Ed standing at the top of a big outdoor staircase leading up to an ornate 80s mansion wearing a Sergio Tacchini velour suit, looking out onto an enormous driveway where 74 scooters are neatly lined up, and then I always think “what could he possibly do with all those scooters????” And I like the next line first of all because he calls a butler a waiter for the sake of the rhyme, and second because “potatoed alligator soufflé” is such a funny idea for a rich person’s food.

Thank you for reminding me of the video! I always remember it taking place in like a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous mansion because that’s what I imagined it would be for years when I just heard that song on the radio. I love so much more that it’s actually just Grand Army Plaza and a junkyard and the front of a high school.

-- Colin

I thought it was "tainted alligator soufflé" but "potato" is much more likely. It's so much better when artists play at being rich, as an indicator of ability or whatever, than when they actually are rich. Or to put it another way, I like when your display of wealth is you and a bunch of friends dancing in front of a high school. That's the optimo. People without a meaningful crew need to buy an actual stupid car.


Addendum / Links


Sun Ra Arkestra house in Philadelphia, via StreetView

other posts you may enjoy (chosen at random) :
Gone Fishin'
Mike Leslie Flyer Collection
Device Must Be Earthed