I'm not really all that mysterious

the sorting hat

Your Score: SLYTHERIN!

You scored 44% Slytherin, 16% Ravenclaw, 32% Gryffindor, and 24% Hufflepuff!


Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
These cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.

Slytherins are known for their ambition, guile, and Machiavellian sensiblities.

Link: The Sorting Hat Test written by leeannslytherin on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga

this type of hero

How much of your destiny is truly predetermined? How much of it is self-fulfilling prophecy? (There are technical terms for these things, I think, except I can’t remember them. Confirmation bias? Forer effect?)

Somewhat sadly and quite pathetically, I’ve come to identify myself with an unusual type of literary protagonist: the hero who doesn’t get the girl. Off the top of my head, there are only really three stories I can think of where this happens unambiguously.

Though I actually have never read it, the first one is Wuthering Heights, in the character of Heathcliff. My friend was reading Wuthering Heights at the time and told me that I reminded her of this character. (Great.) But I actually probably first ran into this character in Michael Penn’s song ”No Myth” which is, naturally, a song about a guy who isn’t able to hook up with the girl that he loves. But I think it definitely ranks up there on the list of obscure literary references made by a pop song. (Interesting bits of trivia: Michael Penn is the brother of the actor Sean Penn, and married the singer Aimee Mann) While this song came out in 1990, the most striking memory I have attached to this song is driving up 880 in Milpitas in 1998, although I don’t particularly remember where I was going.

Another character to which I’ve been likened is Sydney Carton, the doomed alcoholic barrister who falls hopelessly in love with Lucy Manette, and for whom he eventually sacrifices his life for. I didn’t read this book until my junior year in college, during a trans-Pacific plane trip to the Philippines. My sister had just read it for high school at the time. What struck her about the character was the aura of wasted potential that clung to this character.

Lastly, and perhaps less literary, is Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. The love of his life, Lily Evans, ends up marrying a guy Severus totally hates, James Potter. Lily is eventually murdered by the Dark Lord Voldemort, providing the driving force for Snape’s hidden-yet-unwavering opposition to the bad guys, although he is eventually killed as well (for what I feel were rather arbitrary reasons, but I guess an author has got to do what an author has got to do when a deadline is looming.) He kind of combines the increasing bitterness and vengefulness of Heathcliff driven by losing the woman he loves first to marriage to a rival, and then to death, with Sydney Carton’s aura of wasted potential, total despair and wanton self-sacrifice, dying what seems to me, a meaningless death, since he does not get to find out that Voldemort was successfully vanquished and that Harry actually lives.

When I first read the dénouement to Snape’s subplot, I was astonished. Here was an actual character who could hold the torch for a lost love some 15+ years after the fact, and who ends up dedicating his entire life in memory of her, without hope or ambition of ever finding love again. As far as he was concerned, it seemed to me that he considered his life pretty much over. Finally. A character that I could relate to!

The astonishment soon turned into a mild depression, with the realization that the probability of me dying alone and unloved is pretty high, and ever increasing with time, and while it doesn’t seem like a good way to go, I’m in no mood to really do anything about it. It is, to put it bluntly, fucking hopeless.

But then again, there are far worse things in life than to be alone and unloved. For some unknown reason, the depression managed to snap a few days ago. While nothing has changed with regard to my non-existent love life, there seems to be something that has changed in my perspective.

My current attitude seems to range somewhere between “oh well” and “I don’t give a fuck.” I haven’t exstinguished hope entirely, but I’m pretty much gearing myself up for a continued solitary existence for however many more years I may have left. (I am utterly convinced that I am going to die young, for pointless reasons, and in quite possibly a violent manner.) Odds say, given my personal and strong family history of depression, anxiety, and just general insanity, I am most likely to end my life in suicide. Still, you can never rule out the random drunk driver going the wrong way on the freeway. Or early-onset coronary artery disease, the way my diet is. Suicide by hamburger. What a way to go.

Then I read about this metaphor about life, and I have to say, “Yeah. That’s it.”

Life. You do with it what you can. The faster your realize the things you can’t or won’t do, the less time you waste living with regret. I guess. Something like that.

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga

getting mephisto (trunk) to work on dreamhost

I found all of this rather confusing, since I’m pretty sure I downloaded the same version of Mephisto to my local machine as well as to my Dreamhost account. But I got things running on my local machine with no problem, but had to struggle for a couple of days to get it to work on Dreamhost (with Ruby 1.8.5 and Rails 1.2.3 as of this writing.)

Now Mephisto 0.7.3 works fine out of the box on Dreamhost, something which I myself have confirmed, but unfortunately it’s missing a few choice features found in trunk (specifically next_article and previous_article methods which are available to Liquid) but the average user may not need these things. (As of this writing, I still haven’t implemented chronologic navigation, something which I’ve been extremely fond of because it makes it unobtrusive to read my blog from beginning to end. Narcissistic much?) So follow these instructions and you should be good to go in no time.

Now if you’re a tad more adventurous, you can try the following instructions on installing trunk (which as of this writing is in revision 2936. As to whether newer revisions will work is anybody’s guess.)

Use svn to download the code:

svn checkout [destination directory]

Out of the box, the code seems to choke on a call to a Liquid method. This was seemingly fixed by updating the Liquid plugin:

./script/plugin install

(Note: script/plugin is relative to the directory you installed Mephisto into.) Liquid (trunk) is currently at revision 6. I’m not really sure if this might break something else entirely, but so far, so good.

After this, you can follow the same instructions for installing mephisto-stable.

Various little things I learned which may be of dubious benefit to others: 6d407a277e81c13e46c7419ca24e0369

Coming up: how I converted Wordpress categories to Mephisto tags.

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga

bloc party "pioneers"

The video is awesome.

Bloc Party • Pioneers

It reminds me of this scene from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which features the remains of a crashed space-ship on a primordial earth, and the space-ship ends up catalyzing something like the Cambrian explosion.

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga

wordpress → typo → mephisto

Now, bear in mind, there are decent scripts lurking in vendor/plugins/mephisto_converters that will do a reasonable conversion from either Wordpress→Mephisto or Typo→Mephisto. The problem that comes up, however, is the dichotomy between categories and tags. While I was still using Wordpress (which only offers categories and does not offer tags), I was basically using categories as tags. I never really did get into the whole semantic partitioning between categories vs. tags and find that tags alone satisfy my organizational mindset (meaning, complete chaos, but I digress.

I will not go into how to use these converters, as you can follow these instructions regarding converting from Typo→Mephisto. I imagine the conversion from Wordpress→Mephisto is quite similar, although I haven’t tried it myself.

But, given the aforementioned dichotomy between categories and tags, my previous migration from Wordpress→Typo correctly imported the Wordpress categories as Typo categories. However, for some strange reason, I decided once I started using Typo to only use tags and not categories. This resulted in about a year and a half’s worth of posts with categories but no tags, and a week’s worth of posts with tags but no categories.

I then proceeded to migrate all the posts from Typo to Mephisto (using the instructions I mentioned above.) Unfortunately, the migration script seems to only pick up one set of delineators (categories OR tags, but NOT both). And not only that, it munged the tags that I did have as described, joining them all into single supertags with embedded commas. Not exactly what most people want.

Since there were only 10 or so posts from the previous week while I was using Typo, I ended up just manually fixing all the tags. However, this left all of the Wordpress categories that did not survive the transition through two blog systems. I transiently entertained the notion of manually tagging each and every post, using a backup of my Wordpress database as a reference, but I soon came to my senses and decided to do this programatically.

The following is based entirely on the code from the above referenced website that fixes Mephisto tags based on Typo tags from the Typo database, except that I was fixing Mephisto tags based on Wordpress categories from the Wordpress database. You can just enter all of this at the ./script/console prompt:

require "converters/base" require "converters/word_press" WordPress::Post.find(:all).each do |wp| mp = Article.findby_permalink(wp.postname) wp.categories.collect{|c|c.cat_name}.each do |cat| Tagging.set_on(mp,cat) end end

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga