Morning Meanderings: Still Tweaking and Other Random Musings

PBW Confusion 001.jpgBLOG REDESIGN

I spent some time in the internet cafe last night implementing a few changes to the blog. As always, I had some difficulty as what worked upstairs on my laptop gave me problems on the ancient computers downstairs. Although the Suffusion theme worked fine on the “live” blog when I tested it briefly a few nights ago, I made the “mistake” of uploading the most recent version of the theme before trying it out this time around. The entire WordPress dashboard completely disappeared! I ended up having to delete this version via FTP (I use FileZilla), replacing it with a year-old version. That worked…

My favorite part of Suffusion — the fact that you can tweak almost every little detail to your heart’s content — is also somewhat of a curse when working on it in such a public place. I was alone in the cafe for the first hour but almost as soon as I finally got the theme re-activated and began to adjust the settings (the first page of the control panel has a big “Don’t Panic” display warning users not to become overwhelmed at the profusion of tabs) a Thai teenager sat down at the computer next to mine. In my experience, these kids never quietly use the terminals in a quiet manner — surfing the internet and what have you. No, they are there to either play very loud games (almost all of them are addicted to the Army-themed game that repeats “Fire in the Hole” ad nauseum) or will play either obnoxious dance videos or Muay Thai matches on YouTube. Headphones are an alien object to the majority of patrons and the only time they adjust the speaker volume is to crank it louder to drown out all the other kids trying to do the same thing! Anyway, my concentration was shot the moment my neighbor logged-on.

Still, I soldiered ahead trying to remember the settings I’d adjusted upstairs the previous night (why I didn’t type them into a text document was my one of my first mistakes). It’s not perfect but I think I’ve got it fairly close to what I want. Some of the text is difficult to read — not all of the color changes to certain elements (“Posted by” plugs, for example) will apply when I hit “save”. The sidebar just never looks right on the internet cafe computer (despite my using a variety of browsers, all run as portable apps from my USB stick) so I’ve got work ahead of me there.

The biggest disappointment, however, is that the “Now Reading Reloaded” plugin doesn’t work anymore with my web host. I’d noticed this on the previous theme as well but didn’t pay too much attention at the time as I didn’t have time to play around with it. Apparently there’s some call element in the PHP code this plugin uses that “abuses” the host’s servers. They’ve disabled this from their free sites but I can have it re-implemented if I upgrade to their paid service. It might be worth paying $3 or whatever it is per month to get this to work again (and Suffusion includes some nice “Now Reading” custom scripts), plus I’d love to updrade to my own URL once again. It’s something I’ll probably do once I become financially stable again…

Please let me know what you think of the new design by leaving a comment down below (most of my readers don’t — comments are the lifeblood of a blog and I really want to know who you guys are!). I’m most proud of the header — the little logo is a bookshelf in a traditional Thai teak house — as I’ve long been a fan of my rotating images on the old theme. Now, they are twice as tall so when I crop images to use you get to see more of the original photo! These are all photos I’ve shot in Phuket since December 2005. I’m trying to decide if I should use pictures I’ve taken elsewhere in Asia (Singapore, Laos, Malaysia, up-country Thailand) as well. Again, let me know in the comments what you would like to see…

RANDOM MUSINGS

I was reading my news feeds this morning with The Beatles playing in the background when “Paperback Writer” came on. It got me to wondering about other songs the mention books, reading, or writing. Off hand I can’t think of any although I’m certain there must be loads. It might be a worthwhile topic for a future blog…

Another topic I’d like to explore would be music to listen to while reading (or writing). Before my external hard drive toppled to the floor I had a really decent collection of classical music and light jazz that I’d listen to while reading those books requiring extensive concentration. Now that the amount of songs in my iTunes has been severely reduced I’ve either opted for silence or I’ll play songs that I’m already so familiar with they no longer distract me. The Beatles, for example, are one group that I can play their entire catalogue without really noticing too much (the odd exception notwithstanding).

I’ve also been playing a lot of Marillion lately — I still had a bunch of their CD’s in my apartment that I re-ripped. They really are my favorite band although I can go long periods without listening to them at all, and I’ve gradually stopped playing the Fish-era songs (Fish being their lead singer from 1981 until 1988). Indeed, I listened to the entire Misplaced Childhood (1985) album last night for probably the first time since the remaster came out in 1997! No, I much prefer the songs sung by Steve Hogarth (AKA “h”), their “new lead singer since 1989.” I even much prefer the Fish-era songs sung live by him over the originals. As for listening while reading I almost always opt for either 1994’s Brave album or 2004’s Marbles although there are certain songs that I have to stop everything while they are playing and listen intently with my eyes closed. These include “Runaway”, “Alone Again In the Lap of Luxury”, “Brave”, and “The Great Escape” from the former album and “The Invisible Man”, “Fantastic Place”, “Neverland”, and “Ocean Cloud” from the latter. I’ve also been listening to “Drilling Holes” a lot lately, following seeing an interview with producer Dave Meegan about how the music was constructed and then a piano-based demonstration by h showing the progression of the lyrics. They didn’t even play the song live during the first leg of the tour because the band didn’t think they could learn how to!

I’ve discovered a bit more about the Sea Gypsy Museum currently under construction out on Koh Siray (four km east of Phuket Town across a short bridge). The design for the innovative building was approved back in September 2009 and construction was expected to last 100 days (of course, we’ve had a lot of rain since then). An interview I found claimed it will be one of the top cultural centers in all of SE Asia. I quite like the appearance in the artist’s sketches — a series of rounded timbers that will let in loads of natural light. Other than a recent article stating that the museum is on the new route of the municipal bus system, the most recent mention discussed the controversy over a stip of private land which the owner had fenced to prevent access to the building. I do hope the museum opens soon as I’ve long been interested in the groups of sea gypsies living on Phuket. We used to visit one village in Rawai when I first moved out here and got lost on Koh Siray looking for another. A lot of anthropologists were worried that their way of life would disappear when several groups moved off of their smaller islands in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. But they seem to have flourished on Phuket with better access to health care and education.

I am planning a future article on the Phuket municipal bus system, the so-called pink buses. Why pink, you ask? Well a few years ago Thailand began a love affair with pink when HRH King Bhumibol Adulyadej was seen wearing the color when he was released from a lengthy stay in the hospital. Most employees in Thailand (including foreign staff in the schools) previously wore yellow to work on Mondays as this was the color of the day His Majesty had been born. That was soon replaced by pink shirts in the workplace and then buildings and vehicles began being painted pink as well. I’m not a big fan of the color (and the pink shirts I bought tended to fade much quicker than the yellow) but I have to admit it really looks nice on the new buses purchased by the Phuket Town government. The routes seem to cover much of the southeastern part of the island (but, alas, not down Chaofa West Road which would have been VERY convenient for me) and cost just 10 baht per ride. St
udents ride for free. I’d like to spend one entire day just riding these buses so I can report on what’s to be found along the routes. My first step is to find a full system map. There’s got to be one online somewhere…

Well, that concludes this morning’s rather meandering thoughts — I’ve run out of musings and that’s a good thing since it’s just now noon and no longer morning!

The Phuket Bookworm

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