January 3, 2018.

motorcycles hanging from the ceiling

Killing some time downtown while my wife is at a meeting. She's recovering from a broken ankle—two separate breaks in fact, include a tallus sheared straight through, requiring surgery and metal screws and months of recovery, all from a small stumble at the foot of a set of stairs—and so for now outings means she needs a ride.

I'm typing this from Kelly's Olympian, a bar on 5th and Washington decked out with old gas station signage and motorcycles. I'm sitting by the front window, at a broken tabletop arcade machine and next to a pair of plastic xmas trees bookending a cherry red Indian bike with a tassled tan leather seat and red plastic chamelias nestled in the handlebars.

The broken ankle has had a big impact on our lives, especially hers and more by extension mine. We're three and a half months in now, the injury on a beach weekend right as summer ended, and she's moving into the point in recovery from surgery where she goes from having mobility restricted by doctors orders (crutches or knee scooter, no weight on the foot period) to mobility restricted by the damage done to her foot in fixing it and resting it (walk all you like, but slowly and it'll exhaust you immediately). So it's a welcome step forward but also a hard thing to celebrate in the moment when for her it means yet another adjustment to accommodating her injury rather than a snap-your-fingers return to how things were four months ago.

The bar is glowing red and gleen even without the xmas deco. The big neon sign in the front window is in red and green and a muted yellow-gold; other signs ("Phillips 66", "GARAGE", "GENERAL TIRE") have red and green in them; the ceiling is painted a dark red; red lights shine from the bar. Red lights and enamal-painted gas signs. Across from me, past the Indian bike, a RED INDIAN MOTORS sign with a Chief caricature in red enamal paint, red striped headband, red skin, red feathers, flanked by a circular White Rose sign and a matching two-tank gas pump in red and yellow.

Along with the physical and emotional stress of the broken ankle, the surgery, the recovery, the disruption of her/our daily routines (bedroom moved downstairs for now, outings much more of a todo and far less spontaneous, our daily walks modified or curtailed depending on weather and stamina), we also got bit by a protracted, poorly managed insurance subrogation scheme, a new one by us. The insurance company preferred to try to extract money from a third party—that beach weekend, someone else's property—and then dragged their feet on wrapping it up once that didn't pay off for them, leaving us staring at tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills despite all but copays being unambiguously covered by our policy. It eventually got sorted out, but after too much work and time and pop-eyed worry.

There's motorcycles hanging from the ceiling here, small bikes and big ones, literal tons of machinery suspended overhead, over the bar, over the seating. Sitting in here, looking at the motorcyles and the bike in the window with the racist name and the redface caricature on the far wall, you get the feeling the owners and the patrons are lucky Damocles wasn't N ative American.

January 2, 2018.

Blogging like it's 1993.

One of the things I've been thinking about is doing a thing every day. For the routine, not for the streak itself; I've figured out that I don't do great with strict streaks, I'm one of those folks who gets stressed about keeping it up and then loses all momentum once it's broken. But the basic motivation is good. A thing every day. Ish.

Don't yet know what I'm going to do here, with this thing that is currently a blog in the most minimalist sense. I can feel the lack of permalinks, the impossibility of referencing long-term what I'm writing now. This kind of ephemeral structurelessness doesn't feel comfortable and I don't think it's a case of discomfort serving a purpose for me: it's just more work to fix the problem than to not.

So today I'm just going to not fix the problem.

I've been looking at micro-CMS stuff, blogging systems that run entirely as a single configurable bash script invoked from the command line, and that's tempting in some ways, but I feel like that might leave me in an unsatisfying valley where on one hand I lack all the niceties of a mature CMS product like WordPress and on the other I'm still tied to somebody's software instead of literally (rather than merely nearly) hand-building everything.

I don't know which way I'll go with that. And I'm repeating myself. So I'll stop, but here's a thing for today.

January 1, 2018.

Starting over.

  1. I'm reworking my site. Not sure how yet. Like this, today. If you're wondering why, or looking for something that isn't there anymore, see this note from late last year.
  2. I'm Josh Millard. I own and run MetaFilter; I paint and write music and make web art. I like Menger sponges and Markov chains.
  3. I miss the web that I grew up on. I miss small websites, RSS feeds, decentralization, idiosyncratic homepages, blogging. I miss things that haven't truly gone extinct but have been so dwarfed by corporate social media that it feels like they may as well have.
  4. Getting something back means putting in the effort. There's convenience in low-friction, polished WYSIWIG centralized microblogging platforms. Pushing back on that convenience individually is one thing; pushing back collectively is another entirely. Not least because you have to convince the collective to get out and push.
  5. There was a time when we thought blogging was the future, and then for a while we thought it was the present, the now, the always. And then the money and the centralization really started showing up and now blogging feels like the lost past. The reality is: most people don't really want or need a blog, and it's a bit of work. That we believed it would be universal was probably blogging's biggest strategic error.
  6. Blogging is blogging. It should serve its purpose, and that purpose has to be individual, not universal. We should blog because we actually want to blog, and not expect those that don't want to or need to to follow along or prop up the form.
  7. "I will write a blog entry as an ordered list" is something that's been done before and better. But I have to start somewhere, and I'm starting here.
  8. Hey, you. Get out and push.

    1. a painting of a Sierpinski carpet
      Accumulating Sierpinski Carpet, Josh Millard, 2017, oil on canvas 24"x24"