Sunday, December 28 2003
For the past day or so I've been working on the backend PHP for Randomly Ever After, making it so the entry pages exist as text files that are parsed by my own parsers on the backend before delivery. This will allow me to further automate the creation of certain embeds, links, and so forth. The problem, though, is that from now on I'm delivering entry pages from one level up in the directory structure, something that breaks all the internal links and embedded images. So today I put hours and hours of work into writing a parser that scans through entry pages and replaces src and href parameters (or any others that come along) with the information they need to stay valid one level up in the directory hierarchy. In the process, I also added code allowing PHP code to continue to be executed. The code actually looks through this PHP code for local URLs and applies directory prefixes where necessary. By this evening I was confident enough with the code to allow it to display all the entries from July forward. If you see a page in the archives that seems messed up, it's probably because of this change. So far, though, they all seem to be working fine - even the ones that feature weird PHP function calls that result in the inclusion of a Flash embed. It was a lot of work for the results I got - the site seeming unchanged (despite radical backend changes).
But now I can run my text through the kind of filters, parsers, and processors I enjoy building. I could, for example, tag text with a certain code that allows it to be stripped out prior to delivery to most readers while allowing it to proceed to certain people who happen to have the correct cookie on their machines. Oh the mischief!
Lately, as you know, I've been stoking some hot fires in the woodstove. Being the congenital alchemist that I am, I often experiment by dropping various items into the coals when they're glowing their brightest. My favorite stuff to drop in there these days is small aluminum wetfood cans, the kind that get emptied on a daily basis by Mavis's fussy dietary requirements. These cans quickly melt if the coals are hot enough, and the next day I fish the remains out of the ashes to see what they look like. They're never recognizable as catfood cans, but just as often they're unrecognizable as aluminum. Between surface oxidation and the coating of ashes, their very metalness seems to suffer.
Today I tried melting aluminum with my high-temperature MAPP gas torch. It didn't so much melt as shrink from the flame, seeming to oxidize nearly as much as change state. With this behavior, the metal glowed with such a bright yellowish whiteness that it left a spot in the center of my vision, the kind one gets from staring at the sun while under the effects of LSD. I was a little concerned about this and wondered if I'd caused permanent damage, but symptoms to this effect proved to be entirely psychosomatic. Even brighter than the molten aluminum were the occasional sparks of burning aluminum that shot through the air. These were bluish-white and as bright as burning magnesium. If there'd been many more than one or two of those, I'd be typing this entry in Braille. This high-temperature behavior of metals underscored the need for me to get myself some eye protection before wading into the wild and wacky world of welding. (To paraphrase Al Franken, alliteration isn't the sole province of fascists.)
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