The pond is not the koi; the pond is not the water

So there’s this word, Occident, which means from the West as in the Americas or Europe. Contrast this with Orient, which means from the East. I had a vague understanding that one would easily orient oneself by the eastern, rising sun, so that’s where the capitalized word came from, but I was never sure why the west was Occident.

Well, the crazy soup that is the English language actually has a lot of logic to it. In this case, Occident and accident sounding so much alike is not a coincidence. Both come from the Latin cadere meaning to fall. An accident, surely, is related to falling. So are cadence, cascade, and cadaver. And where does the sun fall? To the west. Thus Occident.

I dunno. Sometimes I glimpse the simplicity and elegance in all the chaos. It’s the closest I get to the divine. I also get a chuckle that finding the origin of an obscure word can send me into a Zen state.

O hai!

I gots me some new software and updated my stylin’ sheets. Welcome back!

There are some bugs in the styles right now. If you see anything weird, send me a message. I’ll probably get to it eventually.

cURL'd

This is one of those inside baseball posts. On my main page, I have two things that everyone ignores on the sidebar: Word of the Day and Your Random Weather Report. They both use a script to grab data from external sites–Wordsmith.org in the former and the National Weather Service in the latter.

Lately, they’ve been slowing the load time of my site down significantly. It’s taken 13 to 14 seconds for my home page to competely load, which is ridiculous over a cable modem. Sometimes, the sites that I grab the data from have slow downs, but those are temporary and never last more than a day or so, but my home page has been loading slowly for at least two weeks.

I could have just disabled the two scripts, which I eventually did, but I thought that I could figure out the problem, and, stubbornly, let my page load slowly for days.

Since both scripts were slow, I knew that the sites themselves weren’t to blame. Also, since I have the Google Ads, which loaded fine, I knew that it wasn’t my hosting company throttling external connections. It was something with cURL, which is a method for calling external data into a script. If anyone is having a problem with cURL, this is what helped in my case:

If you have a url in the form of a domain name, e.g. wordsmith.org, cURL has to look up the IP address via a lookup table. Sometimes, as in my shared hosting situation, those tables get corrupted or really large or whatever, and it takes cURL some 10 seconds to look up the address. The solution is to give cURL the IP address in the script, e.g. 216.12.219.209. Then there is no delay from resolving the IP address. It’s exceedingly logical, but I didn’t think of it, since I tend to ignore IP addresses. I found it on a discussion site.

This is a really boring post, but I’m hopeful that someone on the great big internets will find it helpful.

Change a'comin

Blame it on Jack White, I guess, but I’m really into red right now. But red is a deep color. It represents change, which is what we need now. Red is revolution, and I wouldn’t oppose a bit of that. Red is a warning, so let the new design represent that. Other things, too, long neglected. I finally put a permanent link to my design company. But that site is based on a design now two years old. Poor ancient thing. I finally put a link up to our wedding site; although, that’s just two months away. After the wedding? I plan a photo album for that link, but that may take two years to implement or discard. I’m tuning her up, this website o’mine. I have plans. Big plans. And I’m sure in a few months, maybe a year or two, I’ll have completed at least 2% of them.

The Albatross

There is an overwhelming aspect to caring about things. Events that I cannot possibly control knock my psyche about. Sure, I want to write about them, and if you were to talk to me, face-to-face, very quickly I would rant about them, but what really is the point? Nothing is going to change. This is the Jim inside of me. And now, the Erick in me just wants to play World of Warcraft. The Keith in me wants to redesign the website again. And the Jonathan in me won’t do anything until these guys all agree on something. So I usually just end up playing more WoW. So the website sits idle, and the blog just fills up with junk comments, while the commentary in my head swirls around until it’s forgotten. Then Kathy says to me, after one of my rants about no one understanding history, “You really should write this down.” She wants to tell other people about the things that we discuss, but she can’t remember all of it. Having it in one easy place to read, with maybe a nice simple link to send to someone, might help her. It’s a good idea. I really should write these things down.

So far, Bush has not found the science

There is a great article, titled “Science Wars II,” on CSICOP about the Bush adminstration’s total disregard for scientific data, and scientists and researchers are getting pretty sick of it. The author makes a conclusion:

We don’t have to postulate a nefarious conspiracy, then, to explain the war on science that has manifested itself during the Bush administration. We need only point to an army of political appointees in government agencies who are going about their jobs the only way they know how–i.e., talking a lot to their industry or religious right allies and frequently rewarding their lobbying attempts in scientific areas. In short, it’s a politico-scientific spoils system. And as this particular spoils system proceeds to allocate rewards, it simultaneously undermines, cheapens, and compromises federal agencies as reliable, public-oriented sources of scientific analysis and information. To which I would add, a huge segment of the conservative movement in America is aimed at the dismantling of the federal government. So the very act of being pro-business and anti-fact is helping conservatives make more money while destroying the institutions that they hate. It feeds into itself. Since we can’t trust the government to remain neutral in matters affecting our health or environment, we have to ask ourselves, “Just what good is government at all?” And this very question helps the conservatives who designed the government to fail for the American people. Party of Lincoln, my ass.

Four more years of Woe

Here’s a parody sticker I came up with, expressing my feelings about the next 4 years. sticker The sticker is available from Cafepress if you really want to piss your neighbors off, if they ever notice the difference. Update: Hmm… a better idea has struck me. Put this sticker over your neighbor’s on his Hummer, and see how long it takes him to notice. Yeah. That’s the stuff.

Mistakes were made

I can admit when I was wrong, and these past couple of weeks have been full of humble pie. So when I said bin Laden was definitely dead, I was, in fact, mistaken. A little late, but I wanted the record to be clear. I wonder why he isn’t, of course, as should most Americans, but apparently, I am in the minority. [sarcasm] I feel so much safer, knowing that he is alive. [/sarcasm]

A pledge

I’ve been so behind in updating anything on my site. So, I’m making a secret pledge to myself to work at least an hour a day on the damned thing. That doesn’t mean that there will be updates everyday, of course, ’cause a lot of it is behind the scenes. I would make a pledge to update my blog more often, too, but most of those posts in that case would be like this one. And that would be terrifically boring.