Oh my crap I think I almost just ruined everything

I went to log onto my blog just now, like fifteen minutes ago, and I got a 404 page.  Or maybe a 500 error.  I don't know.  I don't know how to internet. The actual website was working fine, but I couldn't figure out how to get logged in.  So I went to the dashboard on my web host (I use iPage.  Nothing that's gone wrong has been their fault.) but there were no alerts that I hadn't paid or anything.

So I googled wordpress login page not found and reached this thread on the Wordpress support page.  There was a lot of advice there that I didn't understand, so I just scrolled until I found something that seemed to make sense.  It was this:

I ran a check database and it said everything was fine. But since I'd exhausted everything else, including the fine suggestions here, and was getting dizzy from reading through all the code, I went ahead and ran a repair database and voila! - I can once again login. Who knows how it happened, but since it's fixed, my mood has been greatly elevated. (Of course, it might be the Thai food I just had.)

That didn't really help, because I couldn't figure out what repairing a database means.  So I googled that, and found this:

Backup your table (If you are using myIsam, just copy your table files to somewhere else). Than execute "repair table yourtablename".

Mostly table corruptions are on index files and easyly recoverable.

Unexpected shutdowns or disk space problems may have results like this.

Hope you resolve your problem easy.

I didn't really know what that meant.  But I did know that the index files on wordpress blogs just have a tiny bit of text letting you know that it only has to be there, it doesn't have to do anything.  So I went into my file manager, opened up the index.php file, copied the text, crossed my fingers, deleted the index.php file, and made a new file named index.php.

That got my dashboard to work, but now my actual website wouldn't load.  This seemed worse.

I crossed my fingers even harder (in my mind, with my hands I had to type) and pasted the contents of the original index.php into the new index.php.

Now, everything's working!  I think.  If I've done something horribly wrong and now there's a countdown running and my blog is going to blow up (or any other problem really) please let me know.  You can email me at watson@txwatson.com or comment on this post or tweet me at @txwatson or anything really just please let me know if my blog is going to die.

2012 is basically over

All that's left now is to celebrate the passage of time through one of the more fun arbitrary goalposts.  (Don't get me wrong -- I like arbitrary goalposts.  But it is, still, definitely arbitrary.) And, to review 2012.

A lot of cool stuff happened this year, I'm sure.  Right now, I'm kind of drawing a blank.  I remember Wreck-it Ralph, my relationship with my partner, which, if she doesn't dump me during the countdown, will have spanned the full calendar year, working at an amusement park, lots of school, and lots of Minecraft.

Seriously, though.  I didn't talk about it much (because I can't imagine it's very interesting) but I spent a lot of time this year playing Minecraft, and watching Minecraft Let's-plays on YouTube.  I'm currently following like a third of the Mindcrack server people:  Etho, DocM, BdoubleO, and I just subscribed to Guude.

And Ze Frank started vlogging again.  That's awesome, and I've really enjoyed having the chance to be part of the Sports Racers community live this time.  I also became much more deeply invested in the Nerdfighter community over the course of this year.  (Having learned they exist just over a year ago.)

And, there was the serious, global stuff.  Like the election.  That was scary -- I felt okay on election night, because I checked Nate Silver's projections and decided that I felt confident in them, but I really didn't know.  It's still scary, because our government is not being super cooperative, but Romney as president was not a pleasant idea.

And the shootings.  There were three major shootings in the US this year, and it's pretty seriously solidified my position on guns.  (No-one should be allowed them.  It should be a jailable offense to be caught just having a gun.  That way, we can just arrest the people who get their hands on guns, rather than waiting until they do something awful with them.)

But back to nice things.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!  For anyone who doesn't know, they're a modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice via the medium of vlogs.  (And tweets, and tumblr and pinterest.)  Not only is it an amazing series in its own right, but it introduced me to the story of Pride and Prejudice -- which, up to this point, I basically knew featured someone named Darcy.  Now, having watched multiple TV adaptations and staying up to date on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I understand why some people rank it as the greatest English novel.  It's freaking extraordinarily fascinating, and I'm looking forward to reading the book.  (Didn't get around to that this year.)

Food was also a significant theme this year.  No, seriously.  My partner and I do a lot of cooking together, and it has expanded my horizons re: food.  I have also rediscovered a number of foods that I had forgotten I loved.  Like Hummus.  Hummus is amazing.  How did I go several years without eating hummus.

I mentioned Wreck-it Ralph earlier -- that was one of a few amazing movies that came out this year.  Rise of the Guardians was another one, which was a huge surprise to me.  I was expecting a weird, cheesy movie about the importance of telling kids there's a Santa.  And it kind of was, I guess, but it was also amazing and inspiring and moving.

And there was the Dark Knight Rises.  And the Avengers.  This was a pretty good year for superhero movies, which appear to be being taken more and more seriously by Hollywood.  (It occurred to me the other night that there are some inherent problematic qualities in the concept of a superhero, which I want to talk about, but I'd like to gather my thoughts first, so not today.)

Altogether 2012 was a great year.  I give it 4 out of 5.  Would see again.

2013 is scary.  It's a big, huge, scary year coming up.  I'm going to turn 24.  I'm going to find out if I got accepted to Clarion.  I'm going to have to figure out where I'm going after I graduate NECC. Lots of big, scary stuff.

For now, though, things are pretty good.  I'm going to enjoy that tonight.  I'll worry about my life tomorrow.  That's what hangovers are for.

 

In about an hour...

The Doctor Who Christmas Special starts in about an hour, and I'm still at my aunt's house.  Hopefully, my parents are getting ready to get going.  But I'm a little worried. I'm also super-excited.  For one thing, I can't wait to see more of that Victorian lizard person, she was an awesome character.  And I want to see more of the new companion.  Fingers crossed that we're meeting next season's full-time companion.

Also:  I'd love to be able to go on tumblr again.  Apparently the new episode has already aired in some places, and that means people are referencing it, and not everyone tags diligently.

It's funny how, around some events, the mechanics of society are suspended in the temporary chaos until enough time passes that everything sorts itself out.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Happy Doctor Who Christmas Special Day

So it's Christmas.  Again.  Didn't we just do this last year? Not having a terrible day, but I couldn't sleep last night.  Not that I was excited about Christmas or anything.  (Well, I'm excited about the return of the Doctor.  But that's not till 9pm.)  So when my parents got up at 5am to go to my brother's house so they could be there for their grandkids' Christmas morning, their walking around and stuff made it even more difficult for my partner and me to get to sleep.

So we got up and did Christmas Morning with my parents before they left.  We exchanged gifts (they liked what we got them, and they got us some pretty awesome stuff) and talked for a while, then we went back to bed.

Then, virtually instantly, my parents woke me up six hours later and forced me to get out of bed and go to my aunt's house.

Like I said, it's not a terrible day.  My aunt and uncle have WiFi, don't mind me sitting on the computer, and I like these relatives, and I like my cousins, and they have an adorable new puppy.  (Looks kind of oldish.  I don't think that it's a Christmas-Gift-Puppy, which is good, because those are a terrible idea.)  But I woke up with a splitting headache, made myself nauseous brushing my teeth (nearly choked on my toothbrush) and got carsick on the ride over.  Then I did a bunch of Khan Academy on the couch at my aunt's house, which doesn't exactly put me in a fantastic mood.

And it's getting better.  My headache is fading, I'm not in a car anymore, and I'm done Khan Academy for the day.

(Also:  Tumblr is weird to browse at my aunt's house, because of the number of blogs I follow that occasionally post porn.  Good thing I'm sitting with my back to a wall.)

A dream.

I woke up filled with regret this morning. The reason is that I had an incredible dream, which was full of symbolism about my self-identity and sense of security or insecurity.  The dream represented these things in a sort of journey through a city (more of a sprawl) -- some of the symbols I remember:  My philosophical perspective was represented as a red-shift view of reality, for which I was mocked at a rest stop on a highway that I think represented a 4-year college.

The whole dream, I think, was narrated by a conversation between me and an anonymous psychoanalyst, who was asking me questions about the symbolism in my dream.  By this point, I knew it was a dream.  So, we returned to the beginning, where I was standing alone outside a garage in a dead-end parking lot at the end of an alleyway.  I was green, and I was androgynous.

There was a song playing, and I told the psychoanalyst that I didn't know the words.  It was beautiful, kind of operatic.  And I looked to my right, and the song, in my handwriting, was projected onto a wall.

I grabbed a notebook, because I wanted to know the song when I woke up.  I was clued to the fact that it wasn't a real notebook, because the song was already written down at the bottom of the page I started writing on, going over to the next page.  I think that the notebook I grabbed was the one from the projection.

But I didn't fully realize that it wasn't the right notebook, and I started copying down the first verse.  I remember being profoundly moved by it.

I got to the chorus, and only managed to write down part of the first line before I woke up (my alarm went off) -- that's the part that was stuck in my head when I was awake, so I remember that the line was "The garden of your golden touch" -- I don't know what it means, at all.

I regret not just standing still and trying to memorize it, because if I had, I'm confident I would have known the verse when I woke up.  Maybe it would have been awful, having been manifested by a dream and all.  But still.

About YouTube

Have I mentioned before that I want to make YouTube videos?  I can't remember.  Anyway, I've been thinking about it again recently, and it feels like one of those things where it's just going to keep nagging me until I finally get around to doing it. What inspired me in particular this time was Charlie McDonnell's recent video, "I'm Scared."

Depressing, right?  I know.

A lot of YouTubers have been responding to this.  I wrote a rough draft of a video script, responding to it.  I actually tried to record it, too.  But I just ended up feeling kind of gross watching the footage, and I deleted it.

I'm going to start trying to record again soon, and I think I've figured out a way I might be able to make it work.  I'm going to do the CGPGrey thing, just record sound then animate it with text and images and stuff.  It's going to be, like, crazy-hard.  But maybe it'll make me feel a little less nauseous when I create.

Contextualizing money

I'm bad with money.  And I don't want to think too hard about that, because it makes me feel sad and overwhelmed.  So I'm going to talk about food instead for a little bit, then circle back.

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This is a Ze Frank video, about cholesterol.  It's called Cholesterol.  In it, Ze talks about the impulse that persuades him to make bad food decisions, and has put him in a state of health that reduces his projected lifespan substantially.  He describes a voice inside his head, that decides what's going to happen ("He'll tell you not to have the sandwich.  And we've already established, that's happening." [emphasis mine]) even though it directly contradicts the advice on healthy eating he literally just got, in the building he was walking out of at that moment.

I used to have a problem with healthy eating.  I mean, I still do.  I ate an entire Ben & Jerry's ice cream today.  But I've got my problem in control to a level where I'm pretty healthy -- two years ago, my weight fluctuated between 240 and 260 pounds.  I'm 5'9", so that's not healthy.  And if you're thinking, "The BMI is total crap, it's possible to be healthy at that weight!" -- you're right.  But I'm not a weight lifter.  None of that extra weight was muscle.  I wasn't healthy.

But my mental block about dieting was so massive that I could barely even begin to do anything about my health.  The only times I ever lost any was when I got dumped, and I'd drop twenty or thirty pounds because I wasn't eating because I was sad.  Or, when I was working every day around the holiday season, and barely eating enough to keep myself from passing out at work, where I was standing up for eight hour shifts every day.

And I didn't decide to eat healthy.  That never happened.  What I decided was to switch my lifestyle around food.  I took up Weekday Vegetarianism. ([TED talk] [Vlogbrothers video])  That worked, for several reasons:

(1.) Meat is bad for you, and eating substantially less of it significantly improved the quality of my diet.

(2.) There are several reasons for doing Weeekday Veg, so it was easy for me to avoid annoying self-justification arguments about whether I should make that decision, both with myself, and with people whom I didn't want involved in my dietary choices.

(3.) It created a concrete, easy to follow commitment that allowed me to limit my consumption without thinking too hard about why I was doing it.

(4.) I was doing it for myself, on my own terms, so I didn't feel like I was doing it just because people expected it of me.

My weight dropped at a healthy, steady rate of about 2 pounds a week, until I leveled out at 195, which is where I've been for, so far, all of this year.  I'm still not skinny.  I'm not the embodiment of any ideal of beauty in Western culture.  But I'm not unhealthy, in the way I was before, and I feel ethically better about my eating decisions than I did before.

###

Now, I said earlier in this post that I had a whole Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  Which is fine.  I do that sometimes, and I'm not worried about it, because it's not my whole diet and it's not every day.  Reasonably frequent bowls of ice cream have still been better for my health than reasonably frequent burgers, chicken and steak.[1. Especially considering that I didn't skip the ice cream when I was still eating meat every day.]

But I bought that ice cream.  And if you've been following my blog, you know I'm in quite a lot of debt.  But I had some money, so I ended up spending it.

I hate having money.  It makes me feel uncomfortable, unsafe and guilty.  Having money, and relying on money, always implies that I risk losing that money, or losing access to money.  I hate having bills, too, for the same reason.  I hate that money is a thing, though I recognize and acknowledge its utility.

I hate money like I love steak, and I don't know any easy way to control my spending.  If I could, I'd just give all my money away to charity, but while that solves the problem of having it, it doesn't solve any of the problems of not having it.  I haven't yet figured out any way that better spending can be a lifestyle choice, the way Weekday Veg is.  People's advice for lifestyle changes with money generally seem to be, "Be better with money."  It's not that easy, and that approach has never worked for me, with anything.

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Sometimes, I hear people talk about a "Welfare state," like it's some sort of evil system that only people who want to lay around all day and not do anything would want.  But when I think about my money problems, I tend to find myself fantasizing about exactly that kind of system.  I would happily work a full-time job, doing whatever the government decided I was needed for, as long as I didn't have to end up with money as a consequence.  I want a place to sleep, food to eat, the freedom to do and say what I want in my free time, to possibly earn enough admiration in an artistic field to shift into doing what I want to do for my living, and access to the resources like libraries and workshops in which I can do and say those things I want to.

don't want to have to be an accountant.  I don't want my success in the world to be contingent, not just upon my talents and dedication within whatever field in which I might excel, but also my talent at keeping track of finances and spotting good deals and financing plans.

When I think too much about money, I get wrapped up in that daydream, and anger at the unfairness that the system in which we live artificially enhances the success of people who are good at money over people who are good at anything else, like engineers and teachers and medical workers.[1. Until they're making enough to hire someone good at money.]  And that anger makes it difficult for me to accept the world I do live in, and makes it difficult for me to explore solutions to my financial problems that don't rely on the civilization I live in being fundamentally different.

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So, that's it.  That's my money problem, wrapped up in a neat little psychological, socialist-idealist bow.  I'm hoping that having this out of my system and up on the internet will free up the mental space necessary to work with the capitalist environment I've got [1. Which has loads of advantages, don't get me wrong, and I do see the practical and theoretical problems with my socialist fantasy too -- I'm talking about my fantasy here, not making a serious Utopian proposal.  Please don't jump down my throat about being a commie pinko fascist.] instead of getting angry, daydreaming, and stress-spending fifty bucks on scratch tickets and booze.