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The weblogging world is changing.

For one, almost nobody says “weblogging” or “weblog” anymore except stubborn old farts like me. Also, the original idea of a weblog — links to other interesting sites with your own commentary — has changed drastically. Weblogs, blogs, whatever you want to call them, now seem to be primarily sites with mostly if not entirely original content, and over the years that’s more or less what this weblog has become.

I still like to share links, though. I just don’t always think sharing a link warrants an entire WordPress article — it seems an awful lot of trouble just to share a link. Other places have cropped up for that sort of thing, one of which is Google Plus / Google+ / G+.

I ignored my G+ account for a long time, but I’m now finding it useful for link sharing (with optional discussion). So … if you’re interested in the link sharing I do, follow me on Google+:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/

105861274188883074963/posts

 

Yeesh, their links are so impersonal. For once Facebook got that right with personalized user name URLs, but Google doesn’t seem to be interested in that. I made a shortcut:

http://j.mp/chucktaggart-gplus

 

It’ll be nice to get some real followers and not the spam accounts from Pakistan, Ghana, Yemen and the Ivory Coast that seem to have flocked in of late. See you on The Google!

Ooh, pretty redesign!

You may (or may not) have noticed that a couple of things look a bit different around here.

Specifically, a complete redesign for the front page and recipe page for the first time in many years. Long overdue, I might add.

The idea and 90% of the implementation came from the amazing and wonderful Marleigh Miller, who has many dinners coming her way for this. The other 10% was me stumbling around with learning CSS and figuring out how to tweak things by trial and error, and somehow I managed not to break everything she gave me. (Actually, I did break them — several times — but figured out how to fix them without too much weeping and hair-tearing.)

“It’s Web 2.0!” she says. And how. Actual pictures, sliding from one to the next to actually give you something nice to look at, plus all the words are still there. I’m inordinately proud of the fact that the site still looks fine on a UNIX terminal text-based browser like Lynx.

Gradually I’ll be going through the entire site and spiffing things up, adding CSS to the individual pages and photos where I can, trying to hunt down broken links (because any site dating back to the early 1990s that still has lists of links is now 99-44/100% link rot) and doing other gradual improvements. I’ll add to and change the over photos periodically as well.

There are a few other things. I know that the use of the term “page” and “pages” is kinda Web 1.0, but since this site has been called “The Gumbo Pages” for almost 20 years I’m kinda stuck with it. I did activate my personal email domain for the web too, so you can now also access the site via this link:

http://www.gumbo.org/

I’d also like to keep up with updates to the site, but that old (and hideously ugly) “What’s New” page is going away. I decided that the best way to deal with updates about what’s happening with the site without cluttering up Looka! with them and without having to go through the trouble to start a separate WordPress page (a pain in the arse in its own right) I just started a Tumblr. It was really easy to set up and will be easy to maintain, and will only involve what’s new with the site in general — what’s been updated or redesigned or added or whatever. That will be available from the “Updates” link in the title/logo bar, and the direct URL is:

http://gumbopages.tumblr.com/

If you’d like to add it to your RSS reader, the RSS feed’s URL is:

http://gumbopages.tumblr.com/rss

Wesly has expressed interest in posting here again. W00t!

We’re both about to get to work on rewriting and revamping the horrendously outdated “What to do in New Orleans” page, so that’ll likely be the next big project.

Great things are afoot! I hope they’ll make things nicer for y’all.

Rumors of my death or abduction by aliens have been greatly exaggerated.

I’m not dead!

I feel fine!

I don’t want to go on the cart!

Yeah, I’m alive, and nary a single alien probe, either.

I haven’t touched this weblog in eight months. That’s a long time. I’d be surprised if anyone was still out there, but just in case …

There was a bit of a loss of mojo. That, in combination with a massive house renovation project took seven months to plan and prep for, then four months of construction and two months of cleanup (actually, we’re still cleaning up), including gutting our only bathroom down to the studs and subfloor. Not the most clever thing we’ve ever done, tearing out our only bathroom. Nothing says class like Andy Gump in your front yard for three months. (The bathroom is fabulous now, though.)

I really didn’t have a lot of time for this website, unfortunately. Also, with me just sitting here and minding my own business, WordPress broke a lot of stuff, plugins went awry, all my weblog categories disappeared, my archives disappeared, most of the blogroll disappeared, the cocktail index (!) disappeared. All this stuff just spontaneously breaking makes me think that there was a lot to be said for the time when I hand-coded the whole damned thing myself.

I’ve been working to put that back together, thanks to amazing and intrepid repair work by my dear friend and Looka! co-admin Marleigh Miller. The cocktail index and archives are back. The blogroll is back. But wait, there’s more!

I stepped back and took a look at the whole site in general, and … it really looks like shit. I’ve never been a web designer, and what passed for my “design” was anchored right in the middle of 1995, and some of the worst-looking web pages this side of MySpace. Looking like that for years and years … I should have been ashamed.

The good news is that a MAJOR redesign of the entire site is in progress, and I’m hoping to roll out the new, 21st Century Web 2.0 front page in a week or so. Stay tuned!

I’m also getting the itch to start writing again. Not every day, but more regularly, so dust off whatever RSS reader you may be using now that Google Reader has bitten the dust, and make sure my feed’s still in there. Wesly might be getting the itch too, and I’d love for there to be more posts from him because he’s such a wonderful writer.

Watch this space!

 

Cocktail index finished – RSS onslaught over!

Okay, finally! The Looka! Cocktail Index is now complete. Well, caught up, that is. Every cocktail post from 10 years of manually coded weblog has been tediously and painstakingly imported into WordPress (with the exception of two or three really shitty recipes for boring vodka cocktails from the old old days, and if you want those you’re going to have to obsessively dig for them).

The running total so far: 315 cocktail recipes in the index, plus 49 51 more that are multiples within a single post. We haven’t yet figured how to get the AZIndex plugin to create two separate index entries that point to one post; Marleigh’s waiting to hear from the developer. When we do figure it out, that’ll bring the cocktail index up to 364 listed recipes. New cocktail recipe posts will be automatically added to the index.

Despite the tedium I really did enjoy going through all those old posts again, and there are some drinks I forgot about that we’ll now revisit — that’ll be fun. Enjoy randomly clicking through them, as there are tons of things you won’t find in cocktail guides, like original recipes by our bartender friends near and far. (Oh, and there’s one joke in there, but it’s pretty obvious.)

I truly apologize for the barrage in your RSS feeds. I thought that backdated posts wouldn’t show up in the feed as new, but of course, WordPress had to make me look like a jackass and feed them anyway. I’ve gotten some good feedback, that some of you enjoyed seeing them go by, at least. I hope it wasn’t too bad for the rest of you. Posting will now resume at its previous intermittent rate (i.e., when I feel like it and when Wesly finally gets around to another one).

Wow … I think this weblog transition is actually kinda almost done.

 

New cocktail index in progress

By the way, y’all … Happy New Year! I know, January’s almost over by now, but rather than doing a special brief Happy-New-Year-post on the 1st I thought I’d just dive right in to regular posting and spit out some content. (Yes, I’m aware I didn’t get around to it until the 18th. Gimme a break.)

Now that we’ve had our break, Wesly and I hope to charge into 2010 (or “oh-ten,” as we’ve heard some people say, to our mocking delight). With Marleigh’s help I’ve gotten started on another new feature. Note that there’s a new link up in the header that says Cocktails — it’s a work in progress at the moment, and when complete will be a compendium of every cocktail recipe I’ve ever posted on Looka!, going back to 1999.

I’ll be importing the old cocktail recipe posts into WordPress and backdating them so that the index can add them, and for the most part I’ll be leaving them more or less intact. This means that I’ll be keeping in the embarrassing shit like “I’m not a big fan of gin” and “I don’t like vermouth” in posts from 10+ years ago, plus embarrassing drinks like the Velvet Hammer. I will be updating recipes for clarity and accuracy, however, plus fixing dead URLs as I can and throwing in an annotation here and there. All original posts (plus the rest of the old content) will still be there in the stone-knives-and-bearskins section of the archive.

So far I’m about halfway into 2002, and I’ve got along way to go. It’ll likely take a couple of weeks, but by the time I’m done importing we’ll have a very handy and convenient index of cocktail recipes here on the ol’ blawg, and future cocktail recipe posts will be automatically added to the index.

Whoever of y’all that have been nagging me to do this for years (Barry? Chris?) … good things come to those who wait!

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