Where Have the Years Gone?

What? After a year and a half of nothing but crickets from this website I am finally writing something? Yeah. It won’t be much, but I should start fresh somewhere at least. These past couple of years have been unpleasant, right? The world appears to be coming apart at the seams. Far too many people have quite literally lost their fucking minds, and I just didn’t feel as if anything I did or wrote here was that important. That, of course, yet again reneges on a desire I had with this weblog where I would try to reclaim a wee bit of the Web back for myself.

It seems to be a time of reneging for me. I’ve returned to macOS after stating that I would be moving over to Linux, and even before that I returned to Twitter after stating I wouldn’t be using it anymore. I have my reasons for both, but they are indeed uncharacteristic of me where I usually make a decision and stick with it. I moved back to macOS because being able to easily use applications necessary for my work and most importantly full color management outweighs any other benefits. It helped, too, that my issues around Clover became nonexistent when OpenCore came on the scene. It’s easier to use and more stable. I don’t know what I will do in the future when Intel support is dropped from macOS, but I will cross that bridge when I get there. I still do have Linux installed, and I do continue to use it — no, really.

Moving back to Twitter is a bit different. I never stopped checking it, but I was completely silent on there for quite some time. This led to a few people who don’t read my blog to wonder where I’d gone to. I’d like to thank them for checking in on me even though I was alright. It’s still the hellsite it was when I wrote that blog post a few years back, and of course it’s only gotten worse because apparently just trying to remain alive is political now. At some point — I forget precisely when — I unfollowed almost all political stuff on there, uninstalled all of the apps, and started conversing with some people again. I now check it almost exclusively on my computer where I can use custom scripts and stylesheets to remove crap from the webpage. I don’t use it like I used to, and I probably look at it once a day if that. I mostly keep it around to check in on people I know, view pretty art, and occasionally — that adverb doesn’t reflect the gigantic tumbleweeds rolling by — posting my own artwork.

My work is probably where I have suffered the most these past couple of years. While in the past I have used painting as a sort of therapy, recently I’ve been incapable of doing even that, and depression is the only thing that exists in the vacuum formed from that absence. The past several years have been a series of disappointments to me, disappointment in myself, and it’s been difficult to cope — especially since the advent of COVID-19. It doesn’t mean I’ve produced absolutely nothing. I’ve made a few things, but every time I have it just feels futile; few people seem to care. I am not saying this trying to frame my self-worth by my productivity or even by the popularity of my artwork (or in my case the lack thereof). That’s an entirely capitalistic thought process that — truth be told — only leads to self-destruction as an artist. No, it’s just that with every passing year I feel the clock ticking more easily than I could the year before, and that mindset is where the title of this post comes from. I have so far been focusing on my artwork, but my actual work plays a larger role. I don’t have health insurance, and I can’t afford it because paying for a policy would mean not eating or not paying for the house I live in. I make barely enough to pay my bills, and it’s always on my mind. I do consider myself lucky because I know plenty of people who can’t even accomplish that. Indeed, I am better off than I was five years ago when I was within a month of not being able to pay my mortgage. Yes, I have a mortgage thanks to prior employment; having that is something many don’t and won’t ever have these days. My work environment is pleasant most of the time, and I get along with everyone there. However, being genuinely thankful for the crumbs I’m given while being surrounded by Everests of cake isn’t gratifying. Every attempt thus far to improve this situation has been met with failure. No one — and I mean no one paying a living wage — wants to hire me. That alone is an ever increasing source of my depression.

Everything isn’t bleak, and I truly didn’t mean this post to be a huge downer. I wasn’t even sure I was going to include anything about my mental state because of my aversion to posting personal stuff online. Hey, I’m just being honest. Thanks to COVID everyone seems to have issues to work out, so I might as well hang my own laundry out to dry. It’s especially difficult for men in the world the way it is to express insecurities without receiving ridicule in return. I personally have in the past experienced that ridicule. Thankfully, I do have support from my girlfriend, and I am truly blessed to have her in my life. And, yes, I tell her this regularly. How she puts up with me I do not know. Just her presence alone has allowed me to continue on.

I have not been idle. I have worked on a few relevant things outside of work. Nearly a decade ago some time after the specification was released for the HTML5 parser I decided I would like to write an implementation of it in PHP because PHP’s DOM extension and parser were made for XML and couldn’t really parse modern HTML. I was successful. The library was a wreck, but it worked. I ironed out bugs as I encountered them, and up until just a few days ago this website was built using that parser as part of a static site generator. A lot has changed since then; template elements didn’t exist then just to give one example. I started on another one a few years back, but I became bored with it — squirrelling over to some other project whatever that was. Jeff then became interested in a parser for a scraper he was working on as part of our open source RSS aggregator, The Arsse. This got me interested in it again. After my initial work he focused on the parser side of things while I worked on the DOM. Two projects are the result of this endeavor, HTML-Parser and HTML-DOM. HTML-Parser allows for per-specification parsing of HTML documents, and HTML-DOM allows for per-specification DOM manipulation by wrapping PHP’s extremely buggy DOM extension and working around its innumerable bugs. Both are used in this website’s static site generator. In addition, I’ve written a syntax highlighter in PHP called Lit which does TextMate-style syntax highlighting. I hope to write more about each of these in the future. Oh, and Lit is also dogfooded by being used to highlight code in posts on this website.

This website also changed a bit, but it’s not a redesign. This was more of a retooling — an attempt to also use what I’ve been working on. The most notable change is the switch in the page’s footer which allows for switching between a light and dark theme. The last iteration of this website switched themes based upon one’s preferences, but this one also allows for dynamic changes as well. Unlike similar switches on many websites, mine is also keyboard accessible. Almost everything else is identical or nearly so.

Sorry if I rambled a bit in this post, but I tried to keep it as organized as possible considering this has been more of a mind dump than anything. I have written a lot of code in my absence. I do have some ideas for my artwork moving forward, but I will save that for another post. I think I’ve written enough for today.