Jan 29, 08:43 PM: If you ever read this site...
You might be interested in:
Last Good Country. It’s my “tumblog” which apparently is the style of the time.
Also, I have a Twitter.
Jan 19, 11:12 AM: Eight Years.
I am not old by any definition of the word. In fact, I suppose I am now at the age I always sort of “imagined” myself when I was younger. You know, living on your own, out of school, being able to “do whatever you want” and all of that.
I can only vaguely recall the specifics of what I was doing 8, 10, 15 years ago. I know that it’s been over eleven years since I started my first web site, and a decade or so since I spent most of my spare time administering IRC servers.
It was eight years ago that I launched this web site. At the time, it was a Blogger powered site located at d-a-v-e.com. I have since forgotten to renew that domain, so it’s gone. Most of my other web projects have expired and vanished from the web. And, I suppose, that’s quite alright. My main web presence now exists on other sites, each with their own purpose. Last.fm for music, flickr for photos, Twitter for micro status updates. There’s little need to put all of those things under the umbrella of a “personal web site.” Even the best designed personal web sites are islands in Web 2.5 or whatever we are on now.
Eight years ago, something else happened. George Walker Bush became President of the United States. The election in 2000 was the first that I was very much involved in, following the election process and even covering it for WHFH-FM. Alas, I was a year too young to vote, but I was amazed. I was also terribly disappointed by the outcome in Florida.
I started this blog on January 20, with the intent of making political observations throughout Bush’s administration. In the course of those eight years, I have neglected the site on-and-off. I have had other writers come and go, and I’ve had the readership rise and fall. I’ve posted about politics, sports, finance, and personal matters. I moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Washington, D.C. I applied to college, was accepted, attended, and graduated. I’ve had relationships come and go, I’ve had jobs come and go, I’ve made money, lost money. I’ve made new friends, and lost others.
A lot of things can happen in eight years. In four. In one. In a day. Today, January 20, 2009 is but one day in history. However, unlike that day eight years ago, today is a day of hope and promise. We do not know what the future holds for us or for President Barack Obama. It’s going to be a long road, however you look at it. But at least we are back on the road.
History can be made in a day, or a year, or a lifetime. I certainly hope that President Obama’s history will be much greater than just this day. But it’s a good one to start with.
Jan 18, 03:10 PM: I know, I know
I haven’t updated here since the day before the election. I was pretty close with my electoral predictions (within 1% and 1 EV). But anyhow, that’s all in the past.
I’ll be making a larger post to mark tomorrow’s occasion. I cannot believe that it’s been eight years since George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States.
At 12:01 PM tomorrow, this web site will have outlasted the presidency of Bush. So let’s hope the server makes it through the next 20 hours or so.
Sep 16, 09:23 AM: The Dilemma of the Blog
I was reading this post yesterday, and it got me thinking about the purpose of a blog.
I started my first “blog” back in 1999, before I knew what a blog was. It was a simple site, with a backend written in Miva, where I posted links and blurbs about things I was interested in. It even had Miva-powered comments! If you ask me to recall how to even write “Hello world!” in Miva, I won’t be able to tell you.
Anyhow, when I launched whichwayup.org in 2001, it wasn’t simply with the purpose of being a “blog.”
I’m going to differentiate here between the word “blog” circa 2001, and Blog, present day. Today there are more Blogs than ever, many of them located on free hosting services such as Blogger or Typepad, etc, etc. Many people write very anonymously, often never giving away more than a first name or initial. This is completely different than what I was accustomed to when I started this site.
I was used to the idea of a blog being a personal web site of, well, a specific person. It was more than just a blog, the weblog was a portion (often the primary portion) of a person’s web site. The author would try to convey aspects of their personality through the site—and not just with the weblog. Subtle things such as the layout and typography, or the artwork/photography that went a long with the text… it all established a very personal presence on the Internet.
As such, you read a person’s blog… you were interested in what this person had to say, and you were curious as to what else they were interested in. Maybe you read it because they were from the same town as you… or they liked the same kind of music, or you actually knew them in real life. Or maybe you stumbled upon it and just became fascinated for some reason.
In my own life, I know I’ve ended up meeting people in the real world because of their web presence. A few of my good friends, in fact, resulted from coming across a link to their web site somewhere.
But, it’s different now. Blogs of 2008 are often divided into such niche areas, such as a “wine and food blog of Washington, D.C.” written by anonymous. Perhaps this is because people feel that they should write what they know, or at least write about something they feel they are qualified to write about.
I’ve toyed around with this idea, of writing about something very specific that I have a good deal of knowledge about. But each and every time I try to actually go ahead and do that, I’m very turned off by the idea. I don’t want to tailor my writing to attract an audience, or sell advertising. Sure, if I could manage a very popular home improvement blog, I could probably make some money from it. But I wouldn’t want to limit myself to only writing about that.
So instead, I fall back on the 2001 concept of the blog. That this is a site about Dave Stroup. It is, in a way, a little bit egotistical. Sure, you probably won’t come across this site when searching for any specific term. This isn’t a D.C. blog, or a photography blog, or a design blog. It’s not a wine blog, or a hardware blog.
Instead, it’s my site. I write about D.C. I write about photography. I write about travel, wine, hardware, railroads, design and technology. I write about myself. I’d rather have 20 readers who are interested in what I think, or interested to read my prose… than 500 who come to read something I had to force myself to write.
At the end of the day, the best niche is your own—yourself.
Sep 4, 01:04 PM: Hanna
So it looks like Tropical Storm Hanna might become a hurricane any hour now. It’s on track to hit DC sometime tomorrow afternoon/evening, but with Tropical Storm conditions beginning tomorrow morning.
We’re under a Tropical Storm Warning now, with an expected 5-8 inches of rain on Saturday. Wind gusts up to 45 mph, but that could increase (or decrease).
I’m not terribly concerned about it, other than the potential for serious annoyances. Thankfully I don’t live in a low-lying area, or own a house anywhere near the Potomac. I live in an apartment building on a hill… flooding hopefully won’t be too much of a concern. However, the building does have a tendency to leak when it rains a lot… so I might end up with some water damage. I’ll just have to move everything away from the spots that are known to leak and set up buckets and towels. I’m a little concerned about losing electricity, but there’s nothing I can really do to prepare for that other than have flashlights and batteries on hand.
Having grown up in the Midwest, hurricanes were a very foreign concept to me. I remember hearing about them on the news… especially Hurricane Andrew back in the day. It wasn’t until 2005, though, when I experienced my first real hurricane with Isabel.
So we’ll see how we fair with Hanna. It looks like Josephine, if it keeps together, might head up this way as well.
Aug 27, 09:12 AM: I'm Back, Again
It’s been over a year since I updated this site, and I’d say that’s probably the fourth or fifth hiatus I’ve gone on in the nearly 8 year history of the site.
In the last year, I mostly dropped off the face of the Internet. Unfortunately this resulted in me losing my registration of my favorite domain name ever, lastgoodcountry.com. I’m contemplating buying lastgoodcountry.org, but we’ll see.
I’m going to revive this site, and potential try to revive Last Good Country at a new domain. I want to get back into writing, or rather I need to get myself back into writing. It’s something I’m good at, and it’s something I absolutely love.
I originally said I wanted this site to outlive the Bush presidency. It looks like that will indeed happen. However, I can’t promise another four years of blogging if McCain wins.
I’ll be updating more soon, but I wanted to let everyone know I am back.
Jun 5, 11:32 PM: Lack of updates
I know there has been a recent lack of updates. I’ve been busy getting the first issue of Last Good Country ready to go, and I’ve been working and continuing the job search.
May 15, 01:05 AM: Design update
So I’ve completed the template, and am working on translating it all over to Textpattern-land. This is proving to be a bit of a headache.
If you want a sneak peek, here’s a glimpse. Nothing is complete yet, and of course none of it works.
Give me some time. I’m also launching a new site in a few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled here.
May 2, 07:44 PM: Redesign coming
Wow, I swear I typed up an entry about a new site design. I must have overlooked hitting the submit button.
In any case, I’ve been plugging away at a new design for the site. I think it’s coming along well, and I would like to push it live in the next week or so. I’ve got to incorporate all of the proper Textpattern tags and whatnot, so it can actually function. Right now it’s just living as a static HTML mockup. It will be cleaner, more “professional” looking, and will allow me to show off more photography without having to worry about a narrow page width.
I’m hoping that this design will also encourage me to write lengthier, more thoughtful pieces. The new design trumpets increased text readability. I hope that, if anything, my own ability to go and re-read my posts in an easy manner will provide encouragement.
I’m also going to rework the navigation of the archives. I’ve got to do some thinking as far as how that will work, though. So keep your eyes peeled, but I have a feeling nothing will go live until the middle of next week (at the earliest).
Feb 18, 03:10 PM: Back from hiatus
My apologies for a recent lack of updates. This past weekend I was volunteering at a conference hosted by my alma mater’s international relations club. It was a good time, and I hardly even noticed I was away from a computer for three days.
I’m still plugging along on a few projects, and am aiming to have a new online portfolio/resume area online within a week or so.
Other than that, not a whole lot to report. I’ll be resuming regular blogging activities, so keep your eyes peeled for some new content. I’m working on a new article about how much I despise reading job postings on Craigslist. Should be a fun read.
Feb 7, 11:39 PM: Site design, rebranding
So I’m aiming to launch a new design for whichwayup.org on April 1. It’ll be a much more “professional” looking design, and I will build it from the ground-up. No more altered textpattern templates, this one will be 100% my own. I’ll feel better about it, plus it will look nicer.
A few of the things I’m aiming for with the new design:
1. Fluid width. No more looking tiny at large resolution. WWU has been fixed-width since it’s debut in 2001 (with the exception of a 100% width design that briefly appeared in 2002).
2. Larger font. WWU has always had a small font, and I am getting tired of it. You’ll thank me when you no longer have a headache from reading the site.
3. Larger content area, to allow for posting of larger photos within entries.
Right now those are the priorities, I’m sure more will change as I begin developing.
I am aiming for the design to support Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 7. If I feel ambitious, I may also try and achieve IE6 parity, but I don’t know. I would really like to encourage everyone who reads the site to get Firefox.
Jan 9, 11:17 PM: 6 Useful Textpattern Plugins
As you may have read a while back, when I relaunched the site in September I switched from Movable Type to Textpattern. For the uninitiated, Textpattern is a CMS (Content Management System) that helps me keep all of my entries organized, allows for commenting, generates RSS feeds and all of that.
I had been using a very outdated version of Movable Type for a while, and the switch has been quite refreshing. I thought I’d outline here a few of the plugins that I’ve added to the basic Textpattern install.
If you’re not into how blog software works, the rest of this entry will probably be rather meaningless. But for those considering a jump to Textpattern, or those using Textpattern, hopefully this can be helpful.
First off, there’s tru_tags, which allows for the “tagging” of entries. Tags are basically keywords, and you can see the “tag cloud” in the sidebar. The size of a given tag is correlated to how many entries have been marked with that keyword. I haven’t done a whole lot with tagging yet, but it’s still nifty.
A big one for this site is also vdh_flickr. It is what grabs my flickr images and constructs the portfolio pages. I did some manual hacking of the plugin to add the lightbox effect (when you click an image), but it’s still pretty slick. Downside, it doesn’t use the flickr API, it just grabs the image URLS manually. Eventually I hope to find one that uses the API, or else I may have to write one myself.
asy_captcha is what I’m using to prevent comment spam. As I mentioned previously, it’s what adds a CAPTCHA test prior to allowing a comment to post.
glx_admin_ping sends various “pings” to blog indicies to let them know the site has been updated.
mcw_magnolia is what provides the linkroll in the sidebar. It grabs bookmarks from the social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia. I have it configured to display links with a certain tag (in my case “linkroll”). This is all customizable.
I’m also using ako_social to add the “del.icio.us” link to each post. I’m eventually going to nix this feature, I think, as most people who use social bookmarking have their own bookmarkets or extensions installed. ako_social supports almost every social bookmarking site, from digg to Newsvine.
Jan 7, 04:17 PM: Housekeeping, updates, etc.
First off, happy new year to everyone. Hopefully 2007 will be a good year. We’ll see.
This morning, this site was hit with a spam-comment attack, resulting in nearly 100 sexually-explicit comments being attached to various articles. I’ve seen removed all of these comments, and gone ahead and added a CAPTCHA test to the comment form. That’s one of those pictures with words in it that you have to type out, to prove you are a human and not a spam-bot. No one seems to comment here anymore anyways, but I feel like it’s an essential part of the whole “blog” experience.
In other news, not a whole lot else is new. I have some photo gigs coming up, so look for some new images in the next few weeks. Mostly local DC area bands, including Exit Clov, Middle Distance Runner (again), and Telograph.
Look for the next entry in the Favorite Records of All-Time series later today or tomorrow.
Dec 18, 12:24 AM: Site updates
Some site business, for those curious. I’ve updated the Portfolio section with links to newly posted photo sets. This is a pretty big update.
Snowden at the Black Cat in Washington, DC – December 2006
¡Forward Russia! at the Black Cat in Washington, DC – December 2006
Middle Distance Runner at the Black Cat in Washington, DC – December 2006
The Album Leaf, Dirty on Purpose, and the Lymbyc Systym, tour candids
Dirty on Purpose on Tour – November & December, 2006
The Lymbyc Systym on Tour – November & December, 2006
Dirty on Purpose at the Rock ‘n Roll Hotel in Washington, DC – October 2006
I think my favorite of the ones I shot at the Black Cat would be this one:
Middle Distance Runner at the Black Cat in Washington, DC
Dec 10, 01:22 AM: All I want for Christmas...
If I had my druthers (by the way, that’s a great word, and I’d like to see it make a comeback), I’d want a Mac Mini for Christmas. However, the $599 price tag (plus I’d want at least 1GB of RAM, so more like $640 or so), makes it a bit pricey for a Christmas gift. As we get older, I suppose, we get more accustomed to a bunch of small gifts from our various friends. If only someone made a web site where you request a gift, and your friends can all pool $25 or so towards that big gift. That would eliminate the dozens of iTunes gift cards you get each year.
The Mac Mini is great, namely because 1) I already have a laptop, so I don’t need another. As much as I’d love to have a MacBook or a MacBook pro, the fact that I have a working laptop makes it difficult to justify the need for a new one. Maybe in a few years, but not right now.
2) I’d love to hook the Mac Mini up to my television, and with Front Row and everything, I’d be set and it even has a remote control. Right now I’ve got this absurd setup… I used to have an old G4 plugged into my stereo (running with no monitor). I would log in using VNC to control iTunes, and thus listen to my digital music on the stereo. I decided I also wanted to watch videos on my television… so I’ve rigged up a broken TiBook (Titanium Powerbook) to my television using it’s built in S-Video output. However, since it lacks Front Row or any sort of remote control… I again have to log into it using VNC since I can’t take advantage of my HDTV using the S-Video cable (so I can’t really see anything on the screen very well). At least I can now watch those (legally) downloaded TV shows on my TV.
It’s all very half-baked, and since the Powerbook is sort of broken (the hinges broke so the screen doesn’t work, among other issues), it’s finnecky and sometimes just shuts down for no apparent reason.
Lastly, I have no Mac that works decently enough to use Photoshop and all of that. With the Mac Mini, I would normally have it set up with the keyboard/mouse/LCD monitor I have, and then when I want to watch it on the TV, just move it to the other room (since it’s so tiny).
But yeah, enough raving about why the Mac Mini is such a great product.
Nov 11, 02:35 PM: Oh, and FYI
I haven’t been posting much because I’m on the road working on a project with Dirty on Purpose.
Nov 1, 10:32 AM: Morning Update
Those creepy Congresscritters
Leading off this morning is a clip of disgraced former-Congressman Mark Foley in the 2003 low budget action film Strike Force (The Librarians). And yes, this is for real.
I like my Tivo
A few months ago I got an actual Tivo. Previously I had tried Comcast’s Motorola HD DVRs, and I have to say they were awful. Half the time the scheduled shows would either 1) not record or 2) record corrupted. Lame. I decided paying $100 a month for television was completely ridiculous and now have a Series2 Tivo with basic cable. And that’s fine. It’s a better user experience than the Comcast DVR with HD.
Anyways, all of this is just a way for me to talk about two television shows, Jericho and Lost. Let’s tackle the island show first, and I’ll point you to an an interesting article in Entertainment Weekly. (Whoa, did I just type “an interesting article in Entertainment Weekly?” That won’t happen often). The third season of Lost has been kind of a letdown for me, I think it’s mostly viewer fatigue—I’ve reached the point where I don’t really care that much about the characters.
My favorite new show of 2006, though, is Jericho. It’s a post-apocalyptic drama set in a small Kansas town. The townspeople have very little information about what caused an attack on most major U.S. cities—though it has been implied it may have been the work of terrorists. In any case, the show tackles the grim reality of a town cut-off from everything… but also stays light-hearted enough (love stories, family drama, etc) that it appeals to more than just die-hard end-of-the-world genre fans.
Some other nonsense
Oct 31, 10:38 PM: A few notes
Lots of traffic today, mostly from the Drug/Indie Rock PSA article. I have to give credit where credit is due though, and that credit in part goes to nickd who pointed it out to me over at Pitchfork. I have a strong anti-Pitchfork bias, but indeed they did discover the PSA before I did. However, their coverage of it was not in any more depth than mine, so I don’t feel particularly bad about yoinking it.
Also, I noticed and corrected a bug where articles without any tags had a broken layout. Textpattern’s conditional statements are a little fussy, in that I have no idea why it wasn’t working—because it should have. Oh well.
Sean Powers will be back posting soon, so keep your eyes peeled for some reports from Missouri.
Oct 25, 10:05 PM: New addition
I’ve added a graphic design section to the Portfolio area. Right now it only includes a handful of covers I designed for the Georgetown Voice. I’m hoping to dig up images of the rest of my covers, and also some PDFs of various spreads I worked on. We’ll see if I can find them.
Oct 23, 10:17 PM: Archives have moved
After an afternoon of fairly hard work, I was able to import all the old entries from MovableType. I purged the spam comments, and hopefully have only legit ones in the archives.
Click on the archive tab up above to browse through them. Unfortunately they are organized differently than before, but that was mostly a limitation of Textpattern. Well, more likely it was due to a lack of effort on my part… maybe one day I’ll hack something together to replicate the old archives.
The other upshot of all this is that the “search” box will now search all of the previous posts.
Note: I still have some entries in 2001 that need to have titles added and have to be categorized. I could only do so much in one day. This weblog has thousands of archived posts… so it was a lot of work.
Another Note: With the addition of the old archives, I’m posting an open invitation for any of our previous posters to resume guest-posting here. That means you, Chris, Sean, Adrienne, Jay, Dave or Kevin. I hope to hear from at least one or two of you!
Oct 21, 12:19 AM: Upcoming on WWU
Okay, so there are a few things I’m working on that will appear here soon. Here’s a quick rundown.
1. A new photo project. I’ll still continue the leaving beauty behind project, but this one will most likely be a bit more interesting. I’m probably also going to include a writing component with this one. This could be big, so keep your eyes peeled here.
2. Upcoming record reviews. There’s some grade inflation here, with my reviewing mostly records I love. Obvious exception was the Decemberists review. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I will be posting more reviews. On deck are records by the Pipettes, Okkervil River, Neko Case, the Hold Steady and TV on the Radio. Some of these aren’t new releases, but they are all from 2006.
3. That’s probably it for now.
Oct 2, 11:29 PM: Some site news...
So, I’ve fooled around with a nice Flickr plug-in for Textpattern… so now the Portfolio section has been updated to include some photo galleries. This includes the featured photography gallery, which I suggest you check out.
Also, I doubt many will care, but my writing for The Georgetown Voice have been organized by type of article. This new site is coming together nicely.
In other non-site related news, I saw the Little Ones play tonight. It was a spectacular show. Spectacular. These guys have a lot of energy, and it made for a very fun night. If they come to a city near you, check them out. The show will be cheap, and well worth it. I’ll writing up a more comprehensive review in the next few days.