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    Twenty

    Wednesday 25th January 2017

    I know: I’ve been away for a while. Again. And longer than usual. Five months, this time. Not because I’ve disappeared in any important way; I’ve been doing the daily webcomic all along, and posting fifty times a day in social media. I just haven’t had anything much to say here at my own website.

    To some degree, that hasn’t entirely changed. But it seems like it’s worth mentioning that it’s 25th January 2017. Which means that it was twenty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.


    I saw the news today; oh christ.

    For those keeping track—probably mostly me—this website officially started up on 25th January 1997. Having almost officially started up on 4th January 1997, before I burned the first month trying to get the webhost I was using to make any sense. Because someone at plinet.com was an idiot.


    Which is now available, if you’re not a robot.

    PliNet was short for Planet Internet. Because planet.com was taken, and planet.net was too obvious, and plinet.com was run by idiots.

    How idiotic, you ask, were the idiots who ran plinet.com? Idiotic enough that, when I started this thing up on 4th January 1997, they forgot to do anything more about it than bill me. Like, they didn’t even remember to tell me that they’d forgotten. So, in trying to upload what we’ll charitably call content on the first day, having been away from the ‘net for a decade, I found it a little strange how difficult it was to send anything across town to the server and get it online for anyone to see.

    If you haven’t heard this story before, the punchline is that I accidentally cracked into their server and modded things to get my site online. Accidentally enough that I didn’t even realise that that’s what I’d done. Until about a week later, in February, when I finally found the one provable biped at plinet.com [a receptionist lacking the arrogance to presume that she knew anything about computers in the nineties] while trying to work out why the site was up but the mailserver wasn’t working. The answer: Who are you and how did this website get here; also, thanks for paying for the first month before inadvertently breaking the small number of federal laws already in place to prevent you from having a website hosted by morons. Or something like that.

    I could also mention that, technically, this site wasn’t online twenty years ago. Which is its own funny [read: annoying] story. Because, at the end of 1996, I decided I’d get back online after having left in 1986 as quickly as 1200bps allowed by starting up gremlin.com. And the flaw in that plan was that someone snaked gremlin.com a matter of minutes before I could get it. Seriously: I looked at NetSol.com, confirmed that it was available, and…somehow, before I could finish typing in a MasterCard Number, gremlin.co.uk had trolled over to grab gremlin.com to point to itself. So that didn’t work out for anyone.


    If I see one more of these today, I’m presuming an extinction event.

    So, I started a new trend at the beginning of 1997: misspelling words in order to availablise a domain name. In much the way that googol.com was also already taken. In my case, I went with gremlyn.com. Which I eventually got rid of, freeing it up for someone else to…erm….


    I guess it’s not technically for sale; the internet may still exist, a little.

    On 24th June 1997, I was talking to Stephanie—the bipedal coffeechick at plinet.com—because she’d called me with a neat idea: if I really wanted to, I could grab gremlin.net as a domain, provided I was okay with being registered officially as a network instead of a company. This was in 1997, when there were still rules. Which could be outsmarted. But: rules.

    Not that I really needed to outsmart anything. Because I was already doing two things with what may or may not have been this same Site of Theseus through the first half of 1997:

    1. Writing a daily blogue, before that became a term
    2. Running a BBS alongside a chatroom

    And, if you wanna be really amazed, the last time I did a podcast, in 2002, that wasn’t a word yet either.

    So, whether this site, with its newer domain, on a different server, with just about exactly no content over twenty years old technically counts as the same site I finally muscled accidentally illegally onto the intarwebs seventy-three hundred and six days ago: I had a blogue before that was a word, above a social network before that was a thing, next to a chatroom before there were IMs, and was plotting toward doing a sorta internet radio show thing which I wound up launching a couple years later.


    This has been lurking in the filesystem for twenty years, across at least five different servers; so it might count for something.

    It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. It’s just kinda neat that, twenty years ago today, I got my first website online with the idea of facilitating realtime Web2.0 sociality alongside a daily journal thing while wishing that .wav could be compressed to less than ten megabytes a minute at a time when ten megabytes took forty-nine minutes to download at 28,800 bits per second; .mp3 existed in 1997, but roughly zero people had the software needed to listen to it.


    Though there was RealMedia, if you didn’t mind everything sounding like a dishwasher falling through a wormhole.

    So, that’s the history to date. Nothing much worth dwelling on, really.

    Marginally more worthy is what happens next. Because I’ve been thinking about a couple things. Which are kinda both secrets, for the moment. One’s just this thing I’ve had for a while, that I wasn’t having enough fun maintaining for the last…seventeen years or so; but, now that politics have changed again, I’m thinking about bringing it back. The other’s this other thing, from 1999, that I never really didn’t like; it’s just been awkwardly infeasible because reasons for the last eighteenish years; but I’m gonna try to get it working sometime in the next month or two.

    I’ll bring those up in more detail if and when I get them ready to [re]launch.

    Then there’s everything else going on….

    If I try to think back to August, when I last updated the daily blogue thing…I’m not really sure anymore. Things got busy as summer ended, and busier as time went by. And then winter began, and Zombi the Cat suddenly started acting sick. Like, really sick. Not eating sick.


    This is Zombi, twelve years ago, when she was one year old.

    So, a month ago, on the twenty-fifth, we took her into the vet. Bright Side: they weren’t busy, since it was 25th December and pets aren’t worth saving on Giftmas. Also they’re not worth saving for the Double Overtime and a Half Special Needs Holiday Emergency Rate stuck into the more reasonable Price of a Car to Look at a Cat Costing a Hundred Bucks to Replace Fee. But, it’s Zombi. So we took her in. Because I’ve got a funny perspective on money: if I spend it, it grows back. It’s like getting a haircut, but more fun.

    Zombi was sick. For some reason. No idea what reason. Or reasons. But, yeah: she wasn’t eating, and she’d lost weight, and there was something wrong. So we did tests. Radiology [in which she sat perfectly still to the amazement of the radiologist who didn’t need to tranq her] and bloodwork [for which she sat perfectly still to the amazement of the phlebotomist who didn’t need to tranq her] and…whoever else was amazed that they didn’t need to tranq her because this cat just sits still and purrs in all conditions.

    That was a month ago.

    Today, we got a call from the vet. A vet. The one they use to call people whose only remaining child is Private Ryan. You get the idea.

    The results of the sum total of tests over the last month have Zombi displaying paraneoplastic syndrome in relation to multiple sarcomata, acute renal failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and a lethally passive absence of need to be tranqued when something’s wrong with her. Though, all things considered, it wouldn’t have helped much if her first outward sign of distress had been something more useful than ignoring her food: even if the multiple tumours weren’t so widespread as to be inoperable, the renal failure precludes anaesthesia [she’s probably not that innately tranquil] and the cardiomyopathy is incurable and has a median survival rate measured in a small number of months.

    This is an exparrot.


    Zombi as she looks today, living up to her name.

    Oh yeah. That’s one more thing. Her starboard eye is sealing shut behind a cluster of tumours. Her portside eye is great, except for the part where it blew out a week ago, the high bloodpressure from the cardiomyopathy detaching the retina and turning her into David Bowie.


    Zombi Stardust.

    So, that’s about where we are on that. Zombi can’t be saved. Again. Like last time, a couple years ago, when it wasn’t all that serious. This time, there’s just nothing we can really do for her except to give her painkillers when the tranquil purring gets a little too loud and she stops being amazing in her tranquility. Sometime soon—within a week—possibly tonight—we’ll hafta take her back to the vet one last time and get her started on purring tranquilly into her final nap.

    And that’ll be okay, overall, because she was happy every other day for thirteen years. From the day we knew she was the right cat at the pound because she jumped up out of the crowd to climb on us, to that night when I named her Zombi the Cat because she randomly wandered over and bit me while I was playing ResidentEvil, to every day that she reached up and opened the door to my office because she wanted to break in and jump into my lap, to every night when she slept purring on my pillow before licking my nose to wake me up again.

    I didn’t have a cat when this site started up. Then there was Sputnik in 1998, who left with Pandora; and there was Roadkill in 1999, who wandered away one night. Then there was Zombi in 2003, who’s still here for the moment. But things never stay the same for ever.

    There’ll be another cat, eventually. Once it gets too quiet. And I’ll train it to be as tranquil and happy as Zombi’s been for thirteen years. And then we’ll see how long that can last….

    Have a webcomic:

    More later….


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