Technology has come a way I guess.

I watched, as a kid and adolescent, those black and white TVs with rabbit ears sticking out the back.

They had an actual knob on the TV; you turned that to change the channels. To turn the damn thing on and off–there was a knob for that too. That was about it. Although I do think there was something to make the picture stop flipping as it sometimes would or zigzagging.

zenith.jpgBut that was about it.

Yesterday a guy came to our house from Best Buy to “recalibrate” the TV we bought from them. Recalibrate?

According to the guy, who was very informed, TVs are generally first calibrated–whatever that is–to look their very best in the TV showroom. Showrooms are all in door light and usually bright with fluorescents. To keep the picture from being washed out, the blues are turned up high and so is the white background, to keep the picture glowing.,

So this guy came with a laptop and some other device to calibrate our TV to the conditions of our living room, some indoor light, some outdoor light.

And–damn!–what do you know? but it looked better. Flesh tones were more exact and you could see the blades of grass on the football field.

Is this TV better than the old black and white. I guess so, although it has wires sticking out of it I will never dare to touch.

Later the guy emailed us the graphs he created when he recalibrated our machines via email in adobe pdf files.

There were no emails when the world was black and white. No pdf files either. But we did have Walter Cronkite. In black and white.

That was something. walterk.jpg



In addition to screwing around with templates and making errors, I tried to change the look of the blog. This requires working, however, with something called CSS (Cascading Style Sheets); this buffaloed me for a while until I spoke with a colleague–who knows much more about this stuff than I–who gave me a book and some encouragement. I then figured out how to add custom CSS to the default template, and changed the font to Ariel, and made the header for each entry smaller, and made the little letters in the banner a bit bigger and the big letters a bit smaller. Overall, I don’t expect anybody would notice these changes, but I think they make the page less blaring and a bit more inviting.

Also I wanted tfeedwidget.gifo make a link from this blog to my other blog on teaching and to Brother Steve’s and Brother Dan’s blog. I screwed around trying to do this for a long time, until I noticed on the main template page something called “widget feed.”

 Once I discovered that, it was easy to make links to the aforementioned blogs. You can see them over on the right. It’s easy now for me to keep track of Brother Steve’s blog and Brother Dan’s.

Those were the main changes–not much I guess–but they took me a while to do.

This stuff is complicated. As far as I can figure it, in making a blog, one is working with at least three different levels of code. Good old HTML. Then CSS for working with the look of a page. And then in my case MT or movable type to build the site. And in addition there’s something called PHP. I don’t know anything about what that does and don’t want to. Right now I know just about as much as I want to know about this stuff.

And in a week or so I will have forgotten all of it. 

Trial and Error

When I shifted this blog to a new site, I also upgraded the blog platform Movable Type.

This shift brought with it a whole bunch of stuff I don’t understand. Things with potential I suppose for something, but not if you don’t understand them.

So I have been futzing around.

In the course of doing so I seriously disabled the blog on two occasions. I noticed that the “archieve path” for the category “entry” was blank. This didn’t seem right since all the other categories under that particular heading had an archive path. So in an attempt to fix the situation I pushed the “refresh templates” button. That had the effect of replacing my newer templates with older ones and wiping out entirely the changes I had made to the blog in the prior three or four days.

I almost gave up at that point and said so be it. But I found the energy and the memory, surprisingly, to rebuild what I had previously created.

Then, while attempting to make a URL or link between my main blog, this one, and something called an action stream, I noticed that none of the links on the page were working. None of the entry links I mean. Like those you can see to the right. Click on a recent entry and it comes up in its own page. But none of that was working. Though the links to external blogs (Dan’s or Steve’s) were working. But effectively the page was dead.

This lead me to my original concern. Why wasn’t there and should there be an “archive path” for the entry category. I went to the entry template and screwed around. Then down below the code itself I something called template options and one of those options had to do with establishing an archive path. I clicked that and bingo the archive path was restored and all the links went back to working.


Whatever little I have learned about the more technical (albeit superficially technical) aspects of making web pages or working with a blog I have learned in this way.

Old and familiar trial and error. The problem with learning via trial and error is the error part. Errors take up time and on top of that as you try to correct the errors via trial, you can compound the error.

But I wonder if that isn’t how most people learn whatever the really learn. But there just isn’t enough time in life to make all the errors. 

Louie Who?

A student was giving an oral presentation on Louie Vuitton bags. This must be the third or fourth time a student has given such a presentation. I don’t know what the fascination is…with these things. I guess they cost a heap. This student included in her presentation a Utube video on how to make sure the bag you are buying is authentic Louis Vuitton.

I don’t know if I have ever seen one of those bags. I asked my students if they had ever seen one. O yea! They had. Almost every woman in the room, and maybe one or two guys knew how to spot them. Not that are that hard to spot. They are remarkably ugly and covered with the Louis Vuitton logo. I guess I just haven’t been looking.

In The Theory of the Leisure Class, Veblen wrote:

It is especially the rule of the conspicuous waste of goods that finds expression in dress, although the other, related principles of pecuniary repute are also exemplified in the same contrivances. Other methods of putting one’s pecuniary standing in evidence serve their end effectually, and other methods are in vogue always and everywhere; but expenditure on dress has this advantage over most other methods, that our apparel is always in evidence and affords an indication of our pecuniary standing to all observers at the first glance.

Things haven’t changed much, if any, since Veblen wrote his book in 1899. The only reason to buy one of those bags is to assert one’s pecuniary power. If you have one of those bags, you must have money, and money is power in the US of A.

I began to drift a little during the presentation and remembered a time clear back in high school when a group of us were driving back from a basketball game and Louie, Louie came on the radio.  That must have been 1963 or 4.

I am living too much in the past.