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Magic Blog: March 2004

If you move the mouse over some paragraphs, you get a different version. Unless you are using an old browser or Internet Explorer for Windows, in which case you get it anyway.

March 3, 2004

I read the html and css2 specifications and put together the beginnings of a web site. Then I found out that Microsoft couldn't be bothered to make Internet Explorer standards compliant, and had to waste time working out how to make things work both in IE and in a decent browser. Microsoft kindly put the information about what their browser can do on their web site. They keep quiet about what it can't do. Everything seems to work now, although not as well with Explorer. I read the Books of Lore from cover to cover before my casting, but still the Evil Empire thwarted my purpose. I am ashamed to admit the recklessness of what I then did: I entered the Realm of Darkness itself, and plucked arcane lore from the very grimoires of the hidden Sourcerers themselves. Thus could I finally fulfill my quest, and finish my Sending. Although weakened in the presence of the Dark One's instruments, the charm holds good.

March 4, 2004

Today the Consort's First-Born became a father. That makes the Consort a grandmother and me a step-grandpa. If there is such a thing. Or even if there isn't. Today the Concubine of of my step-son brought forth a daughter of the Blood Royal. I had twenty prisoners from the Realm of Darkness sacrificed in celebration and in the hope of appeasing the angry gods. But I have little hope.

March 5, 2004

Today I found out a better way of working around the Internet Explorer bug that cost me so much time the day before yesterday. It occurs to me that this blog is not likely to be very interesting. (How many blogs do I follow? A number less than one.) Therefore I shall write a more interesting version in parallel. The question is: how should I present the more interesting one? On the one hand, the way I like the most doesn't work with Internet Explorer. On the other hand, … tough. Poring over more old mouldering grimoires this morning, I came across a more powerful charm than that which I invoked after my foray into the Dark Tower. Its invocation leaves me less weakened, and my subjects equally well protected. But for how long? I must think of how to hide these notes from prying eyes. I believe I know a way to make them invisible to the lackeys of the Realm of Darkness and yet legible to my loyal subjects. I shall mix the potions forthwith.

March 6, 2004

Pruned the cherry trees. For the sour cherry, that just meant cutting off the dead stuff. It's small enough already. Maybe this year it will grow. The sweet cherry was a more interesting job. The gardener brought me some cherry twigs in a vase. In a few days, the buds should open, and spring will come to my chambers before it reaches the outside world. Should I live that long…

March 7, 2004

The business part of the website, done first because more important, was looking a little drab. So I adapted it to fit the house style as defined for the personal part, but with different colors. Attempts to replace some tables with positioned div elements failed dismally. As my knowledge of the arcane lore increases, I find myself revisiting the spells I cast of yore, and strengthening them with my new knowledge. But will that knowledge suffice when the Enemy strikes?

March 8, 2004

Nice sunny day today. I think I'll go for a walk after lunch, get some fresh air. We beat back the dragons, but only with horrendous losses. The forest is burning as far as the eye can see. Even in the fortress, with damp rags jammed into the cracks around every door and window, the air is smoky and foul. If we are lucky, the dark lowering clouds above us will put out the fires and cleanse the air. If not, we will all suffocate. The knowledge of my failure will then at least die with me, but what of my subjects? They do not deserve such a fate. They deserved a better Lord.

March 9, 2004

Started reading about JavaScript. Seems simple enough. Downloaded the Core Guide from Netscape in case I ever want to use it. Read some more about CSS. I think I know why the positioned divs failed the day before yesterday. We found the old fool's diary next to his stinking body. Just for fun, we perverted the Charm of Concealment on it so that what he wanted to hide is revealed and what he would have open to all is hidden. To us, all is revealed in any case.

March 10, 2004

Finally made progress on replacing the table-based layout on the business site with a nice flexible one using positioning. Then found more bugs in Internet Explorer that messed it up completely. What a surprise. In the end, I came up with something simpler and cleaner that works on everything. It was a plan born of desperation, but it worked! Now I have time to think things over, it occurs to me that the Stench Charm was an unwise detail in my Spell of Seeming Death: if they had not been so intoxicated by their own supposed victory, they would have realised that the decay of our corpses could not possibly have progressed so far in such a short period of time. But they are all dead, now, slaughtered while drunk on our finest wine. The Charm of Concealment is no longer needed. I shall leave it as they left it, in memory of their defeat.

March 11, 2004

Went to Zurich for the day for a job. No doubt it all makes sense, and it's not my money, so why should I worry? Lunch was delicious, as it should be at that price, with a spectacular view over the lake to the hills on the other side. Zurich seems quite pretty, except for the ugly bits. Maybe one day I'll spend more than eight hours there. Work continues on clearing up the devastation. I called Fanghorn, my dragon, and flew far and wide across my realm, south to the mountains and back. All is peaceful, all is calm, all is safe. He caught a wild bull around midday and grilled a haunch for me with his breathfire. Splendid!

March 12, 2004

Spent far too long tweaking the styles and putting all the stuff shared by the home and the business pages into one style sheet. The Progeny failed to get back from school in time for his dentist's appointment. He may have to go on his own next week, since I'll be in sunny Brussels. Far beyond and far inside, over and above where the bat's eyes hide, the screaming owls and the dying runts, the spiders run on the maidens' hair, the enemy dies in black despair. Amen.

March 15, 2004

Brussels. On stand-by duty in the morning. Tried to use Microsoft FrontPage to edit this blog. After less than a minute I found the first bug. Edited the source using FrontPage's powerful 'text editor' capabilities. The 'Publish' item in the 'File' menu was grayed out. To publish, you have to be working with what MS calls a 'web'; a page isn't enough. Creating a one-page 'web' doesn't work either: the publish function then complains that there is no 'web' at the publish location. No doubt this all makes things more user-friendly.
So I downloaded a copy of arachophilia, expecting its FTP service to work… But it didn't. Tiscali will only let me access the server from a tiscali dial-in connection. Doh! Email this home, upload it late; no-one reads it anyway.
How dreary are the dungeons! The prisoners are fewer in number now that we have released the harmless spies and killed the others, but still the plight of those that remain disturbs me each time that I must see it. Today we had to torture a new arrival to find out his crime. He would not tell whatever we did, and so we left him in chains to think over his wrondgdoing and, if he is lucky, change his mind. So I must revisit him in a month. The stench is not the worst of it: the screams give me migraine.

March 20, 2004

Why do airlines always lie? They said the plane was going to be 20 minutes late. It was 40 minutes late. That was on the way back. On the way there, when I checked in, the woman at the desk said it was going to be half an hour late. So I said "Ah, an hour late." And she said "Yes." So at least she was honest. However late they say it's going to be, it's always at least twice that. And these days it's always because of "late arrival of the incoming plane." So the plane is late because it's not on time! Thank-you Albert, I could never have understood it without your help. In the old days they used to have people on the staff thinking up better excuses, but they've all been laid off to save costs.
… and can't someone tell the driver to shut up?
The rain drips down outside the windows. The dragons are restless in the damp. Their handlers make excuses and unrealistic promises. After a lifetime tending dragons, a dragonmaster must know that on a wet day it takes twice as long to awaken a dragon and persuade him to fly. And yet there he stands, a picture of helpful deference, and says: "Oh yes, my Lord, Fanghorn will be ready in an hour." I set my Charm of Reminding for two hours, for I have learned the value of these words.

March 22, 2004

Finished the tax returns for 2003. Should get a pretty substantial refund. Long did I pore over the parchments, setting the arcane signs in their proper order and pattern to unleash the awesome power of Number. Some say the Kabalistic lore is dry and lifeless; some deny even its power. But, by the thirteen stars of the brim of my hat, this day's work shall bring a rich reward!

March 26, 2004

After I took the lawnmower to be fixed, the Consort Mother threw out the piece of paper with the workshop's name, address and telephone number. They don't seem to be in the yellow pages. Oh dear. Long ago, in the grey times before the attack and our victory, I entrusted the sword of my ancestors to an old man who lived on the edge of the forest, hiding its whereabouts with a powerful Spell of Obfuscation. I now find that the spell is so powerful that I cannot myself remember where the old man lives, and must pit my power against … myself.

March 28, 2004

My business home page is in Google. Not under any useful keywords, and only the root page. It's a start.
Yesterday we went shopping. Tomorrow I'm going to Strasbourg.
Casting my eyes in the Glass of Seeing, for the first time I may glimpse myself. The clouds of Unknowing are dissipating around the castle, but are yet not gone: only the High Tower is as yet visible.