Back in Time

I don’t know whether any of you have heard of the Internet Wayback Machine, but it indeed exists. If you enter a URL, the Wayback Machine brings up images of that site from the past.

As an experiment, I entered the URL of my company’s website, which brought back several hundred instances when it had been archived over the years. It’s funny to see old websites from the 90s that look like a little kid put together the HTML code.

Then I put in the URL of an old blog I had back in 2006 that got erased in 2008 because the host site’s servers went down permanently. I wasn’t expecting my old blog to be archived on the Wayback Machine, but sure enough, there it was–complete with two page captures from 2007. It’s odd; I didn’t really think I had changed much in seven years, but when I read those two pages of my old blog, I realized that I had changed quite a bit. I almost didn’t recognize my own words.

As interesting and entertaining as the Wayback Machine is, it’s kind of creepy because it’s proof that anything you put on the Internet can never truly be erased, especially if it was a relatively popular site that a lot of people visited.

Also, anyone can archive sites on the Wayback Machine, so if you want to create an Internet time capsule, that’s one way to do it.

The Friday Four: 1,000

1. I’m in the midst of reading the weirdest book I have ever stumbled across: Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves. It’s postmodern (ergodic) literature, a story within a story, and the book has the strangest layout you’ve ever thought possible. The footnotes have footnotes, there are weird little windows of text, and some pages have only one word on them. The plot is kind of creepy and mysterious, which makes it fitting for Halloween.

2. This article may be old, but it’s a good read about how leaving out the little words (an, a, the) in newspaper headlines and the like really makes a big difference, especially where ambiguity is concerned.

3. This blog post was Freshly Pressed a few days ago and is one of the most accurate articles about relationships that I’ve read all year. The gist of the article: Don’t rush into marriage, don’t rush into a relationship. These things take time, and we often believe that relationships, like most other things in this technology-driven life, can progress faster with less effort. It ain’t true. The more you try to rush a relationship, the faster you drive it into the ground.

4. Somehow, my blog managed to attract 1,000 followers. Thank you all so much for loyally reading my nonsense and randomness! I appreciate it.

Happy Friday!

Poetry Time: Upon Dying

June 27, 2011

Closing my eyes
never to wake again
will never preoccupy
my thoughts.
I cannot see
not living
to see the next day
unfold with the blue
freshness of a flower.
Is death only centuries
of darkness
unceasing?
A place where my lungs
will halt their breathing?
I refuse to meditate
any further on death,
for if I do,
I lose moments
of life.

In Defense of Gift Cards

I was going to save this post for sometime around Christmas, but now is as good a time as any (besides, there are birthdays every single day).

Getting someone a gift card isn’t necessarily unoriginal and uninspired, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t put thought into your gift. OK, it’s kinda bad form if you give your mom or your dad or your wife or husband (or basically anyone you know very well) a gift card — and that’s all that you give them.

However, gift cards are good for people you just met and are trying to get to know or for distant relatives you don’t see too often. They are also good if you know, for instance, that a person likes to read, but you have no clue what books they have and haven’t read (and you feel awkward asking them, or perhaps they don’t really know exactly what they want). So instead of risking getting them a book that they’ve already read or already own, just get them a gift card to Barnes & Noble or whatever indie bookstore you happen to have in town.

Gift cards are good for a person who likes a particular store or restaurant and goes there all the time, and they’re also good for those people who are hard to buy for– and you don’t feel comfortable guessing what they might want. Just get ‘em an Amazon gift card. When they decide what they want, chances are, they can find it on Amazon. (This is not a shameless plug for Amazon, I swear. I could have substituted eBay or Walmart or…)

In the right circumstance, a gift card isn’t a horrible, tacky, emotionless present.

Walkin’ in Memphis

Last week, I was in Memphis, TN, for a conference. I didn’t get to see Graceland (I’m not an Elvis fan) or any of the supposedly really awesome attractions in the city, but my little bit of exploring was good enough (plus, it was brutally hot and I really wanted to run through the fountain to cool off, but I didn’t want to wreck my fancy conference clothes). So here are some pictures…

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View of the bridge (and convention center) from my hotel room

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Somehow, this was a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial (and another statue in the background).

At first, I thought something was broken. Then I realized it was supposed to be art.

At first, I thought something was broken. Then I realized it was supposed to be art.

View of the bridge from the pedestrian walkway.

View of the bridge (and the Mississippi River) from the pedestrian walkway

Art made out of street signs.

Art made out of street signs

Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy

Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America

Cannons in the park.

Cannons in the park

Fountain in a different park.

Fountain in a different park

Horse-drawn carriage that made me think of Cinderella.

Horse-drawn carriage that made me think of Cinderella

I thought these steps looked cool.

Perhaps the pathway to another journey…