I'm not really all that mysterious

effluvia from my leaking mind

Lately I’ve been once again been able to remember what I’ve been dreaming. For the longest time I’ve been having dreamless nights, which, while not very interesting, were probably for the best. I remember from clinical neuroscience that most of our dreams are violent and/or depressing, and this one was no exception. For some reason I was really pissed with my brother. I can’t recall the reason in the dream at all, but the sense of hurt and anger was quite vivid.

But I suppose the interesting thing is that my dreams seem to be recycling the scenery lately. While the characters change and the scenarios differ, I often find myself in the same imaginary places that seem to only exist in my dreams. There is, for example, this city which I have since named Todos Santos that reminds me a lot of Pasadena, except that it serves as a hub for this imaginary city’s elevated heavy-rail system. The hub has (naturally) a mall, a theater that shows plays and musicals, a hotel(!), and even a hospital(!!) It also interconnects with a vast railroad station similar to Penn Station in NYC. To the north of here (one stop on the Gold Line) is a huge area of random stores, laid out somewhat like Universal City Walk, except even more sprawling. It doesn’t allow any vehicular traffic, much like the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, and it is frequently crowded.

But back to the Civic Center station: apparently there is also a huge Vegas-style casino nearby, and there are towering apartment complexes as well. For some reason, the caliber of the streets actually remind me of Boston (which I’ve only actually visited twice in my entire life)—very narrow, and not always intuitive as to where they might lead. Chinatown (or probably more appropriately, East Asian Town, since in my dream the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants and shops were all clustered together) was walking distance as well, and it was comprised of windy, extremely narrow alleys lined with all sorts of shops, with roasted pigs and sometimes entrails displayed in the front windows, and with the illicit massage parlors down even more twisty passages. There is an open park that reminds me of Bryant Park in NYC, except that the one in my dream is never crowded.

Anyway, this is where my dream was set. The transit center mall featured prominently, and the hospital within the mall made a brief cameo. And then there is the massive parking structure that belongs to the Vegas-style casino. I don’t remember why me and my extended family were there. We had taken a sand colored minivan of indeterminate make and model.

And that’s all I really remember.

I’m still struggling mightily with waking up in the morning. Of course it doesn’t help that I’ve only been working in the afternoon for pretty much the entire week, and I haven’t had to take call anymore. I’m hoping that the meds simply need time to kick in, and that I’ll be functional in the next couple of weeks or so.

I’ve been reading the Book of Lost Tales which is a compilation of lots of Tolkien’s abandoned drafts, put together by his son Christopher, and just finished the tale of Túrin Turambar, which is about a man who is cursed so that everything he does goes horribly wrong. The part that always disturbed me was the fact that he ended up impregnating his sister. Túrin had never met her before, except maybe when she was in utero, and his sister had had her brain scrambled by a dragon, and couldn’t even remember her name or where she came from. When the dragon releases the curse as his final act of malice before he dies, the two are horrified and both commit suicide.

I know. What a happy story.

Apparently the story is heavily influenced by a tale from the Finnish epic Kalevala—the tale of Kullervo (Interestingly, wikipedia also mentions the parallel between Kullervo and Anakin Skywalker, which I haven’t considered.)

And what is cool is that Christopher Tolkien has put together a lot of his father’s manuscripts and edited them to create a complete, stand-alone narrative, which will be released on April 17 as a new novel entitled The Children of Hurin

I keep having this internal debate about whether my distrust of using an RDBMS for blogging outweighs my laziness and the simplicity afforded by using an easy-to-install and convenient-to-use solution like Wordpress.

I think my current discontent is fueled by the fact that I find it exceedingly painful to customize Wordpress themes. I don’t have any XHTML tools that I can use for checking well-formedness. It’s painful to have to use my mouse to switch from the code to the CSS stylesheet when I accidentally put them in tabs on the same browser window, and it’s not easy to put two browser windows on the screen at once anyway. The textarea, even on the theme editor, is still cramped and uncomfortable and makes the thought of proofreading unbearable, and I would much rather be using emacs, or even I could save some (although not all) of this by using a dedicated blog editor like MarsEdit or ecto and XML-RPC, but (1) there are no nice, free blog editors for Mac OS X and (2) I’m not going to pay for something if it doesn’t solve all my issues.

Which leads me back to writing my own blog engine, which is likely going to be an exercise in my headbashing and pulling of hair, but I think maybe I should just do it and deal with it. Before I started paying for shared hosting, I was using my ISP, which didn’t even allow server-side-includes or CGI, much less PHP or Java. So I came up with a totally kludged system that used a touch of Perl, a dash of bash, and a little Makefile script to generate static entry pages. Add to that a perl script that I found on the web and some cheap shared hosting, and I had comments (and for some magical reason—probably because the number of users is negligent—the spambots have yet to trouble my legacy blogs) Sure, I didn’t have categories, and my scripts would sometimes fail to update links to new entries, and my URLs were not nice (only timestamps and no slugs) but it worked.

What ruined it was the fact (1) it wasn’t portable at all—if I wanted to post on the road, I had to have my laptop on me. There was no way to do it from another computer unless I wanted to rsync my entire blog to the other computer, and doing this over dial-up is no fun. (2) since I didn’t have near-unlimited space on my ISP’s web server like I have now on my shared host, I didn’t want to upload anything except for the static HTML files. This proved to be my unmaking, because I suck at making backups, and on the occasion that my hard drive would fail, or more likely, I would do something stupid like rm -rf * on the root directory, I would lose my source files for my blog, screwing up my indices and making it impossible to regenerate my blog when I wanted to change the theme or something. (3) it was exceedingly buggy anyway, and I would waste hours of my life wading through nearly incomprehensible, convoluted XSL, or manually writing out my loop iterations to figure out logic because I would fail to comment any of my code, and perl lends itself nicely to a write-once, never-read-it-again style of coding that is the misery of all maintainers, or God help me, I would find myself trying to read the man page of make to understand why my Makefile was not behaving the way I wanted it to.

But, nonetheless, I think I’m ready for some self-torture. I plan on using XPath somehow, and will probably be sticking to Perl since it’s the only language I really know, besides BASIC, Pascal, and assembly for the 6502 family of microprocessors. But I might port it over to Ruby someday.

The best-laid plans of mice, indeed.

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