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Behind the Scenes: LEGO Craig

Posted on January 3rd, 2019

Dave!Ages ago (when blogging was still a thing) I had "met" a guy named Craig on his blog, Puntabulous! It was one of the funniest things I've ever read and I became an immediate fan (so much so that I ended up guest-posting there). Sadly, Puntabulous! Has been lost to the ages (and the Wayback Machine has only spotty entries archived). Currently Craig's old site seems to have been poached by a Slovakian link farm or something, but we'll always have the memories!

Fast-forward nine years and I'm part of a gift exchange where, miracle of miracles, I get Craig's name. I'm never sure what I am supposed to buy for gift exchanges, so I decided to to mash-up some of his favorite things and make something for him (the only way I could be sure I wasn't getting him something he already had!). And those things are... LEGO, Power Rangers, Star Trek: The Next Generation, his boyfriend Steve, and his cabin.

Custom LEGO Craig posters it is then!

This is what I came up with...

LEGO Craig Posters

I am a huge fan of LEGO video games, so I thought I could just draw little minifies doing fun things and be done with it. Except it was a lot harder than it looked to get them looking "real" so I ended up downloading a 3D model that I could pose in Blender...

LEGO Craig Posters

LEGO Craig Posters

Then drop them into the layouts I had come up with...

LEGO Craig Posters

   
Power Rangers: Ninja Craig

I didn't know much about the Power Rangers except that they would scream "It's Morphin Time!" and transform from super-powered-ninjas into robot dinosaurs. Or something like that. After little Google research I found out there were loads of Power Rangers series. I liked the logo for Ninja Steel because I could turn it into Ninja Craig. All I had to do was drop in Steve Blue Ranger and Rita Repulsa, and, done...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

At first I had the same generic helmets for both Rangers but, upon closer inspection, I noticed that all the Rangers had different helmets! This meant I had to go back and re-draw them to be accurate...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

   
Star Trek: The Craig Generation

I'm more of a "original series" guy than a "Next Generation guy," but had seen all the episodes (of course), so it was easy to decide what I wanted to do...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

I drew Craig as Number One, Steve as Data, and was planning on putting a LEGO Enterprise-D in the background. But I could never get it to look recognizable in simple LEGO form. Then I did some cyber-stalking and found a photo of Craig wearing a T-shirt that had the "LEGO Space" logo drawn as an X-Wing circling the Death Star...

LEGO Star Wars

Very cool! The original logo is the one I grew up with and looks like this...

LEGO Space Logo

It was made cool again when they introduced Benny in The LEGO Movie ...

LEGO Movie Benny SPACESHIP!

It was a simple matter to redraw it for Star Trek: The Next Generation like so...

LEGO Star Trek

   
Craig's Cabin

My original idea (shown in my sketch above) was to have LEGO Craig in a majestic pose while Steve was being surprised by a bear in the background. The LEGO bear is a rare piece that goes for big money on eBay, but I was able to find enough photos of it that I could probably draw it. Problem is, the LEGO bear is kinda hard to recognize in a cartoon drawing, so I decided to give poor LEGO Steve a break and attempt to draw Craig's actual cabin in LEGO back there...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

It ended up looking pretty good once I got the LEGO studs on the roof panels. Then I added some happy little LEGO trees and happy little LEGO plants and I was good to go. But my favorite part is the plaid shirt "print" on LEGO Craig...

LEGO Star Trek

   

Fun!

Has me anxious for February 2019 to get here so I can see The LEGO Movie 2...

Who knew that LEGO DUPLO would end up being so evil?

   

Dave18

Posted on December 31st, 2018

Dave!For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.

As you can imagine, 2018 was the worst year of my life so far. Just surviving it feels like a major accomplishment. All I can do is hope that 2019 is better.


JANUARY

• This year was largely about my cats and the hijinks they got into. So... no change from last year...

Jake the Statue

   
• Found out that Google thinks I look like Ryan Reynolds when I have the right haircut...

Dave Photoshopped to be using a Flowbee hair cutter.


   
FEBRUARY

• Another year, another traumatic trip to the vet for Jake and Jenny...

Vet Visit Two Point Oh

   
• Saw the best movie of 2018: Black Panther.


   
MARCH

• Finally bought into the SONOS smart speaker ecosystem...

Sonos One Speakers


   
APRIL

Said good bye to long-time blogging friend Kelly "Hot Coffee Girl."

   
Took my new macro lens to The Keukenhof in the Netherlands...

Macro Flower

   
Another day of Keukenhof wonderment at macro level...

Macro Bee

   
• Finally made it to lovely Budapest...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

   
• Finally made it to lovely Vienna...

Klimt at the Belvedere Palace Museum


   
MAY

• Returned to St. Louis and its Gateway Arch...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

   
• Headed to Jefferson City to hunt ghosts at the old Missouri State Penitentiary with Coal Miner's Granddaughter and the Tennessee Wraith Chasers...

Ghost Hunt Weekend at Missouri State Penitentiary

Ghost Hunt Weekend at Missouri State Penitentiary

Ghost Hunt Weekend at Missouri State Penitentiary

   
• Jake gets a new favorite toy...

Jake and Moose the Mule

   
• Saw another amazing P!NK show in Seattle...

P!NK !!!

   
• Had to rescue another bird from my savage kittehs...

Catio Bird Rescue!

   
• Started organizing my souvenirs from around the world...

XXX


   
JUNE

• Spent my weekend building a flower bed in my front yard...

Flower Bed Construction

   
• Upgraded Jake and Jenny's catio with a ramp and a massive climbing pole...

Catio Pole Installation

   
• Had the worst day of my life when I said good bye to my mom...

Mom and Me

   
• Remembered my many travels with mom...

Travels with Mom

   
• Took a look back and wrote about The Elephant Out the Window...

Mom, Mickey, and Me


   
JULY

• Wrote about finding inspiration amongst the heart-crushing tragedy of dementia...

Travels with Mom

   
Built my cats an indoor feeding station...

Cat Feeding Station!

   
• Another trip to Maine... this time with a torrential flood of rain.


   
AUGUST

• Saw an amazing show by one of my long-time favorite bands, Erasure...

Erasure Seattle 2018


   
SEPTEMBER

• Installed a mesh network with Google WiFi.

   
• Remembered back to the AIDS crisis, which wasn't that long ago.

   
• Flew to Salt Lake City to catch a show by The B-52's, Boy George, and Tom Bailey with Marty from Banal Leakage...

The B-52's

   
Wrote an obituary and buried my mom when her marker finally arrived from the VA...

XXX


   
OCTOBER

• Was gutted when Jake got seriously ill...

Jake Hospital Visit

   
• Had to make a short one-day trip to Hawaii and back...

Oahu North Shore Beach

   
• THE RED SOX WIN THE PENNANT! THE RED SOX WIN THE PENNANT!

Dave Loves the Red Sox!


   
NOVEMBER

• Was forced to remodel my remodel.

   
• Remembered my trip to Antarctica on my one year travelversary...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica


   
DECEMBER

Back to Maine again.

   
Happy birthday, Mom...

Mom Climbing Glaciers in Alaska


   
And there you have it... my 2018 year in review.

Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through the not-so-great times.

Here's to a better 2019, everybody.

   

Memories and Redemption

Posted on December 14th, 2018

Dave!If Facebook has a redeeming quality, it's their "Memories" feature where they give you a run-down of what you were doing on this day a year ago... two years ago... three years ago... and so on.

Well, kinda redeeming. I find that much of the time there's at least one painful memory which you'd just as soon not re-live, but that's life I guess. In general, it's a good thing though.

And that got me to thinking...

I should be able to do something like that for my blog!

I started writing out the code I would need, then remembered that there's nothing new with WordPress, and surely somebody else had already done this. Sure enough, there's a bunch of plugins available.

Alas, none of them work for me.

And so... I'm back to coding.

How else would you know that a year ago today I was returning from my Antarctica trip?

Or two years ago I was wishing you a Happy World Monkey Day?

Or five years ago I was saying goodbye to Peter O'Toole?

Or twelve years ago I accidentally smacked myself in the balls with a shampoo bottle?

Heaven only knows your life isn't complete without reading all about that!

   

Five Mondays

Posted on December 10th, 2018

Dave!Today was the day I switched to my new WordPress 5 template for Blogography!

Then, after three hours of trying to make it work, I switched back to my old template again!

I don't know why I am having so much trouble getting what I want. It's really not that difficult to code these things. Especially when you are starting from an existing template (which I am) because you are woefully inept at coding a "responsive" site (which I also am). I'd skip all this and go back to coding what I know, but being "responsive" is a huge part of why I'm doing all this in the first place.

"Responsive" meaning that Blogography will be responsive to how you're viewing it and adapt accordingly. If you're in a web browser with a lot of screen real estate, you'll get an expansive experience with sidebars and menus and such. But if you're surfing on a smaller device, like your phone, it will automatically become more text-based so that it's easier to read. That's key, because an increasing amount of my traffic is from mobile devices. Eventually I expect it will overtake desktop browsers as the main way that people are reading my crap.

Hence the reason I'm switching over.

Eventually.

When I can figure out what in the hell I'm doing.

Which, hopefully, will be before my 16th blogiversary in April.

In the meanwhile I've put a sticky post at the top of my home page to explain why things might look messed up for a while.

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Red Sox and Page Rank

Posted on October 29th, 2018

Dave!First of all...

CONGRATULATIONS BOSTON RED SOX... MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!

Dave Loves the Red Sox!

I wish I could say that I never doubted... but there were definitely some moments! That third game? EIGHTEEN INNINGS loss to The Dodgers? Brutal. And I watched the entire thing from beginning to end while holding my breath. Last night was easier, but I was still a bit anxious all the way through. This is baseball, after all.

And so...

Blogography has never been a money-making endeavor. Even when I sold stuff it was always at-cost, which usually meant I lost money in the end. Nope, this is just a place to write my thoughts of the day and I never wanted to clutter it up with ads and other crap.

But that hasn't stopped people from trying to advertise here.

For a while there, I had a Google Page Rank of 7 out of 10. This is about as good as it can possibly get for a personal blog (8 and higher means you're a massively popular site like Apple or YouTube). Despite saying that I don't want ads unless you're willing to pay an obscene amount of money on my About Page, I was getting advertising requests several times a week. Vitamin supplements, clothing, vacation packages, makeup, cameras... even other blogs. I very nearly buckled when I got an offer of $1800 for six months... but it was for a sketchy online gambling site, so I declined.

Over the years my Google traffic has remained fairly good, but my Page Rank has plummeted to 5. When I read up on what this means, I found that it's because I am not using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and am not actively building link-backs. Oh well. The benefit of a lower rank means that people stopped bothering me for ads, so there was a silver lining to all of it.

Then, as the internet turned into a social media machine instead of being blog-driven, Google Page Rank fell out of favor with advertisers. Sure it's still kinda a big deal if you're trying to make money... Page Rank says where you'll end up in a Google search, after all. But since social media is so huge and bypasses Google's ranking system, it's not the indicator of a website's draw power (especially blogs) like it used to be.

And yet...

This little blog has been around for a very long time, is updated constantly, has a massive amount of content, and has hugely diverse number of topics (seriously, is there anything I won't write about?). On top of that, it currently has 105,483 backlinks and 1,428 referring domains. Which is nothing to sneeze at. Which is why I still occasionally get advertising offers. Like this one, which was waiting for me when I checked my email this morning...

Advertising Offer!

Another sketchy gambling site, I'm sure.

Maybe... maybe... I would run an ad luring people to lose all their money if I were offered $10,000 annually. Maybe even $5,000 if I get another vet bill (STAY HEALTHY, JAKE!). But I'm not quite that desperate... yet.

Maybe I should be?

I dunno. If you ever see an ad on my blog, I haven't necessarily sold out or given up. It's just that I need the cash and my body ain't pulling on the street corner like it used to.

   

Everybody’s Changing and I Don’t Feel the Same

Posted on October 23rd, 2018

Dave!I'm not sure why I'm still blogging. Most bloggers have hung it up or have happily moved on to social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I'm just stubborn, probably. I've been doing this for so long (over 15 years!) that I don't know anything else.

And so long as I'm here...

Blogs may be dead, but those of us still hanging around are facing a lot of interesting changes. Changes in the way content is created. Changes in the way content is used. Changes in the way content is displayed. Which means bloggers are faced with two options... keep doing what they've been doing, or change with the times.

Wordpress (the blogging platform I use) is pushing hard for change. And the first step is coming November with Wordpress 5.0 and their new content editor... Gutenberg. It will allow for a lot of interesting new ways to create and display content. Whether or not users will take advantage of this is anybody's guess...

The templates used for Blogography's design are hand-coded to look like I wanted them to appear. For me to be able to display content properly from the Gutenberg editor and the new Wordpress "block-based" rendering engine (now and in the future) everything will have to be re-coded. I honestly don't know if I can invest the kind of time required... but hopefully.

Time to change with the times.

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Fifteen Years of Blogging

Posted on August 29th, 2018

Dave!Back in April, I had my 15th blogiversary. And I totally forgot about it.

I don't know that I would have done anything special to celebrate putting my life on the internet for fifteen years... not like the old days where there were a week of contests and travel involved... but it would have been nice to at least acknowledge it. I guess that writing every day has become so automatic that I don't even think about it any more.

It feels more than a little strange that I keep it up considering how blogs are pretty much dead now. People are Facebookers or Instagrammers or YouTubers... but so rarely "bloggers." At least not any more. Social networks are owned by massive conglomerates who have displaced blogging with money-making machines that exploit our lives for cash. As was inevitable, I guess. That's just the way our world works. And I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Centralized spaces for human interaction make it easier and more convenient to make friends around the globe, and I do love my global online community. But there's still room for blogging in my life so here's to another fifteen years, I guess.

All those cat photos have to go somewhere.

Anyway... if you want to read a history of Blogography, I wrote it up back in 2005 for my second blogiversary here.

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Unbloggable

Posted on July 12th, 2018
Dave!Um... yeah... things may be messed up here for a little while. Everything is helplessly screwed up, and I'm trying my best to restore from my backup... but the backup software I purchased won't restore properly. And so I'm kinda trying to manually restore, which isn't going so well either. Such is life.
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Blogography Moving Day!

Posted on July 11th, 2018

Dave!Blogography may be screwed up for a bit, but I'm still blogging!

After twelve years of suffering through my current web hosting provider, I'm moving to greener pastures.

When I first investigates Media Temple, they were more expensive than others, but billed themselves as a "pro" solution and were hosting some of the biggest sites on the internet. I figured the extra money would be worth it, and signed up.

And, for a while, I think it was worth it. They offered tools and goodies that most others were not, and their support was very good. I didn't like my annual bill, but I liked everything else.

Then they moved to a new "grid" architecture, and it sucked ass. Basic stuff like... oh... I dunno... SITE BACKUPS were gone. Downtime was rampant (and they never felt like reimbursing you for the time your site wasn't available). But they kept promising that they were working out the kinks and that the missing tools would be restored, so I stuck with them.

After two years, things stabilized. Downtime was still happening, but it was okay for a personal blog. And then? That was it. They just coasted along and nothing changed. And that backup tool? Oh... it's still coming!

A decade passes and I'm still fucking waiting.

I stuck around despite it all because I didn't want the hassle of moving. The thought of losing emails in the transfer was always a big deterrent.

And then? I kept getting hacked. I installed protection, which helped, but the attacks never let up. My hosting company doesn't offer any help in this arena what-so-ever (knowledge-base articles didn't much help), and so I've been attempting to handle it on my own. As I'm working on it, my "GPU" points ran out, and so I had to pay for overages... $38 for last month alone... in order to cover my backups and blog hits. $38 I can't afford.

And so I wrote to support from Media Temple.

After the bullshit canned answers I've come to expect, I couldn't take it another minute. Twelve fucking years as a customer, and they don't give a shit about me. No "Hey, sorry you're having problems we don't offer tools to deal with, so let us reimburse you the $38 as you're working through things because we value you as a customer!" Not even close. And so? They can just fuck all the way off. I'm moving to a new hosting company that may or may not be better, but at least I'm not paying a premium to host there... and, oh... THEY OFFER FUCKING BACKUP OF MY SITE AUTOMATICALLY!!!

A few things I've learned through all this...

  • The paid Wordpress "easy migration" tools don't work. I tried three of them (ranging from $30 to $45) and not one of them was able to handle my massive Blogography site... or even my much smaller DaveCafe site. Hoping that all their "money-back-guarantees actually happen.
  • Using the built-in WordPress export tool to collect your entries, comments, and such is fine... but the import tool to get them in your new site is total shit. I had to manually split my export file into two pieces because of size limitations... then the installer kept timing out before finishing, so I had to figure out which entries were missing, edit the files to only contain them, then install those. Then repeat. Again and again. Blogography ended up being tens of thousands of lines of XML code. Do you know what it's like to try and edit that shit? Thank heavens for TextMate and the ability to define blocks to copy/paste! (Command-Shift-DownArrow, Command-Shift-UpArrow).
  • All my templates are custom-coded by me. A skill I have long-since forgotten how to do. This meant a lot of time wasted trying to figure out how my templates work so I could repair everything.
  • Do not panic when your archives say "0 comments" on entries you know you have comments... the actual post page will have the comments intact. You have to Google for a PHP script to fix all that (though I am really nervous about doing so when I just got everything working, finally).
  • The SSL certificate "ca-bundle" goes in the "Intermediate Certificate" field or else secure site hosting won't work. Why hosting companies can't label where things go is beyond me. I had the same issue with Media Temple, and finally remembered what I did to get it working.
  • You can look up your database prefix in MyPHPAdmin. Don't forget to put it in the appropriate spot in the wp-config file or nothing will work. And, no, I don't know why WordPress puts that not with the database credentials section, but instead all the way down the page where you can easily miss it.
  • If you hard-coded links on your site, every last one of them will fail if you customized your permalinks (under settings). I customized mine to "/archives/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html" in order to be backwards-compatible with the Movable Type blogging platform (that was my pre-WordPress platform).
  • Just copy all your plugins via FTP and add them directly to your new site... don't try to search for them inside WordPress because half of them are missing, unsupported, or abandoned.
  • Screaming at your computer display does nothing except scare the kitties. Don't do that.
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Bullet Sunday 463

Posted on May 27th, 2018

Dave!It may be the last day of the week, but this holiday weekend keeps on rolling... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Pooh! Of all the movies coming up, I have to admit that Christopher Robin is the one I'm most looking forward to at the moment...

With all the advancements in special effects, it's the ability to make films like this which impress me most.

   
• Whoa! Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder? Sign me up!

I'm not a romantic-comedy "romcom" kinda guy, but this movie will be worth seeing for the casting alone. Not in theaters, of course, but when it hits HBO or Netflix, I'm on it.

   
• Hotness! I've been running across a lot of treasures from my past as I work my way through my garage. As an example... look how brutally hot I was on my learner permit!

Dave's Hot Learner's Permit

Yep... if I were legal in that photo, I'd do me!

   
• Togs! The closer they get to making Mon-El have his iconic comic book costume, the closer my inner fanboy gets to peeing my pants...

Dave's Hot Learner's Permit

Almost there. Just need that waistcoat... then call it good!

   
• Thanks, Obama! Yes, I had problems with some of President Obama's policies... but I never stopped admiring him as a person. That goes double Michelle Obama, who was such an exemplary First Lady. So to say that I'm anxious to get my hands on her forthcoming book is an epic understatement...

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The unabridged audiobook is available for pre-order at Audible. Since Michelle Obama is narrating all 14 hours of it, I couldn't press the purchase button fast enough.

   
• Quilt! Hey OG bloggers! Somebody made this incredible quilt for me back in the day, but I can't remember who it was? Does anybody know?

XXX

I'm hanging it up to display in my room, and I'd like to attach a tag with the author.

   
What are you still doing here? The bullets are over. They're over! Go home. There's nothing more for you here.

   

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