how you play basketball
Sunday, October 15 2023
Despite Ramona's absence, we had a pleasant Sunday morning of coffee and Spelling Bee in front of the woodstove in the living room with Neville snuggling between us.
Later this afternoon, Gretchen again wanted to try to catch a game of the WNBA finals at a sports bar, since we don't get any live sports on our present media setup. She'd had good luck watching a game at the Buffalo Wild Wings on 9W near the Hudson Valley Mall, so the plan was to try there. Not wanting to leave Neville alone by himself, we wanted to get him in with us. Fortunately, years ago I'd bought him a "service dog" vest just for this scenario. He's not a service dog, of course, but maybe wearing such a vest was all he needed to get in. So at around 3:00pm, we drove to Buffalo Wild Wings. As we entered the restaurant, we saw what looked like fifty television screens, all of them tuned to football. Gretchen asked the maître d' (who looked to be about fifteen years old) if there was a chance they could tune one of their many televisions in to the WNBA finals. The New York Liberty were in the finals and this was a sports bar, so surely they'd be willing to indulge us. The maître d' had her doubts, but she went to fetch the manager. The manager came over and said that Buffalo Wild Wings would only show football games. Furthermore, dogs weren't permitted. "But I saw on your website that you permit service dogs," Gretchen replied. "Do you have papers for this?" the manager asked. "Nobody has ever asked," Gretchen said. It was looking like Buffalo Wild Wings was a bust, just another data point showing America's capitulation to toxically masculine culture. Football, HUHHHH!
On the drive back home, Gretchen called the Hurley Mountain Inn, the restaurant two miles from our home that we haven't dined in for something like 18 years. Among other things, it's a big rambling sports bar. Gretchen asked if they'd be willing to show the WNBA on one of their screens. The woman on the phone said no problem, so that was where we went. This time we decided not to push our luck and left Neville in the car, where he happily dozed off. The teenage lad serving as the Hurley Mountain Inn maître d' was doubtful when Gretchen said someone had said someone had said we could watch the WNBA game, but then he quickly found us an isolated corner of "the porch" with its own little screen, and soon the game was playing. It was the New York Liberty vs. the Las Vegas Aces. Gretchen said the latter team has been on fire this year and, as is often the case, New York has not been. Indeed, they'd somehow made it to the finals but had never actually won a finals game since 1999. We ordered beer (a Kona Hazy IPA for me and Michelob Ultra for Gretchen) and a basket of fries and then watched the game. As we did so, Gretchen maintained a messaging window open with our friend Anna down in Brooklyn, who was also watching the game with her brother and nonagenarian father. I hadn't watched a WNBA game in years, but I got right back into it, making all the appropriate noises (though not nearly as loudly as Gretchen) and even making a few quips that Gretchen found amusing. I proclaimed "You need to capitalize!" at some point when the Liberty failed to do so, and then Gretchen quickly integrated "capitalize!" into her verbal yeets. Once when something good happened, I declared, "Now that's how you play basketball," something Gretchen found amusing given that I'm probably not even in the 50th percentile of basketball knowledge. I also revived "shitball," a term I'd used to express disappointment when watching games played over a decade ago.
When the fries ran out, we ordered onion rings (despite the strong likelihood that they were not vegan). By then I was drinking a white Belgian ale, a beverage Gretchen also found drinkable. So I gave the rest of mine to her and ordered another Kona, which, after much delay, arrived during the final 25 seconds of game. By then the Liberty were clearly going to win, and little Becky Hammon (now the head coach for the Aces) had put all the crappy players from the bench out on the court. The Liberty ended up winning, which was (as I said) their first finals victory since 1999. Interestingly, the WNBA game ended at almost the exact same time as the football game being watched in the rest of the Hurley Mountain Inn, though the cheers for the plays in that game rarely came at the appropriate moments for cheers in the WNBA game.
Back home atop Hurley Mountain, I'd been working on trying to automate the assembly of all the <img> tags necessary to display over one hundred photographs of Ramona in the entry for Friday the 13th. Initially I could use Homesite+, the ancient text editor I use to write these entries. By dragging a dropping the images onto an HTML page, the <img> tags are automatically generated, complete with appropriate width and height attributes. These days I normally limit the width of pictures displayed on an actual entry page to 600 pixels, with those (in many cases) hyperlinked to a large copy of the image. Creating the 600 pixel wide images from the larger ones can be a lot of work, and would be more than I'd want to do given all those photos of Ramona. So what I wanted to do was strip out all the height attributes, change all the width attributes to 600, and hyperlink all those images to their own src values so they open in another window, showing the image in its larger glory.
But I still had a problem to deal with to make all this work. The PHP function that runs on the backend is 120 lines long and called tagHREFprefixer. It has a bug that manifests whenever I include the same image twice (that is, with the same src attribute) in one of my entires. So I pasted the function into ChatGPT describing the problem. It came up with a solution (saving the src values that were processed in an array to be checked before processing), though the actual version of tagHREFprefixer it came up with was garbage. But I used the idea it suggested to eventually fix that bug and get the <img> tags to be produced correctly.
I still had a bunch of work cut out for me, of course, copying all the captions for the images (which I'd gradually written for them after posting them in Facebook). But ChatGPT proved extremely helpful, automating away a lot of dreary work and finally helping me to fix a bug that has vexed me for well over decade.
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