Let’s See If We Can Get This Going Again…

Strange things sometimes happen on the internet.

They can happen in other places, of course, but more and more in recent years our existence has been increasingly focused in the vast expanses of cyberspace. It’s become ubiquitous.

If I’m not online, am I actually here at all?

What Happens When You Disappear?

For all the years that I’ve been maintaining internet connections through websites, forums, blog posts, and social media, I’ve left little bits of residue here and there.

From time to time I bump into them.

A photo – tagged or untagged.

A random comment about somebody else’s post.

A strange, unsourced reference.

A product review.

Some product offers.

Even a few fragments of websites, projects that met their goals and have long since been abandoned, half-baked ideas that never quite got any traction, homes for concepts and services that never managed to materialize.

And then there were some fairly sizeable chunks of data that were aggregated and nurtured over considerable spans of time, representing ongoing concepts and commitments, contributing to a strange sense of online identity, and sering as mileposts and landmarks amid my online wanderings over the years.

One of those was a personal blog which I started in 2009. I regularly added posts on “astro-trading and astro-living”, along with comments about colleagues, current events, and even a few personal family items from time to time.

Certainly not deathless prose. It had little, if any, historical significance. And it featured almost nothing that could be held up as having redeeming social value.

But it was fun. And for me at least, it provided a useful frame of reference for tracking my physical and intellectual journeys. 

Once the pandemic got underway, I slacked off in my posting activities for some reason. I’m not quite sure why.

And then, a month or so ago, the whole thing mysteriously disappeared.

Had It All Been An Extended Hallucination?

I discovered its absence when it suddenly occurred to me that it had been a few weeks since I had added a new post, or made any other changes or updates to the site. Too long – I actually felt a little guilty about my lack of attention.

So I tried to log on to the blog site.

That’s when I got a strange error message. 

At first I assumed that my magic fingers had made some sort of inexplicable mistake in typing in my password, so I tried logging in again. 

Same result.

I keep a little notebook with passwords, account numbers, and such, so I consulted it. 

Sure enough, I had created an alternate administrator identity for getting into the blog site. So I gave those credentials a try.

Same result again.

It gradually began to dawn on me that I was looking a problem much bigger than I had first imagined.

The challenge wasn’t about trying to get into the site; it was that there was no longer any site there to get into!

Fortunately, I remembered that I had set up an automated program to create periodic back-ups of the site. Even though I wasn’t quite sure how to initiate the process of rebuilding and restoring things, I figured that I could find a little technical assistance to get the ball rolling.

My under-the-hood technical skills are mostly imaginary; my coding skills are completely nonexistent. So I rely on good advice and encouraging words from a few friends and colleagues that I call on whenever the technical side of keeping computers and connections running gets over my head.

(I used to depend extensively on the expertise and good graces of my younger brother Otto to help me in that department at least two or three times a week, but he died unexpectedly five years ago. Grieving over the personal and professional loss is still a big part of my daily routine…)

So just to make sure I had all my bases covered, I reached out to my hosting company. Could they give me any clues about why my blog site wouldn’t load?

They provided me with a complicated and somewhat convoluted explanation about what had gone wrong. Something about a maintenance procedure to align conflicting file structures that had inadvertently corrupted assets that had been allocated in sub-directories instead of a sub-domain.

They were appropriately apologetic, and seemed to understand what they were talking about.

I sure didn’t.

And what about the automatic backups? I asked the hosting company about using them as a means of restoring everything that had vanished.

Sorry, they told me, it looks like the backup system failed about four years ago, and the files saved from prior to that time had also been compromised to some extent. Making sure that the backup system stayed in working order was my responsibility, not theirs.

I have to say that I felt a little bewildered.

Not quite as angry as I probably should have been, but mainly just dazed.

What just happened here?

Had I actually had a website with about 12 years of blog posts and helpful memories?

Had it really gone away?

Had I somehow just imagined the whole thing, and just now awakened from an extended dream?

Getting Back In The Saddle

Since that time a few months ago, I’ve consulted with some website fix-it folks. They’ve taken some money, and have offered me their professional opinions – nothing can be done to resurrect the dead blog. 

I’ve managed to find a few rough drafts of posts and some emailed comments that provide a few fragmentary glimpses into what used to be on the site.

But the bottom line is that I’ve decided to bite the bullet and start all over again. Which is why I’ve now got a new domain name for the site, and why I’m typing these words right now.

In all likelihood, it’s going to take me a little while to get back in the swing of things. I’m still feeling pretty inhibited by pandemic protocols – not that they actually matter that much in creating blog posts. But they do take a psychological toll of sorts.

Anyway, I’m back. I’ll be adding posts and notices here as time permits and the mood strikes me, and who knows? I may actually make this a regular thing again.

Along the way, I’ll see if I can take some of the errant fragments from the previous blog and add them here, with dates reflecting their appropriate places in the archive. We’ll see what happens.

Welcome to the future!


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