Mar 26 2009

Feeling Better

Well, my cold that I was whining about yesterday seems to be passing.  I could actually breathe through my nose when I woke up this morning.  By the way, did you know the British spell it “whingeing”?  I’ve seen that in a few books, and it looks bizarre every time.  Almost as bad as “gaol” for “jail.”

A couple peas broke through the surface sometime today.  They weren’t there this morning, but I could tell the soil was starting to crack like there was pressure from underneath.  This evening a couple plants are starting to show.  These are the Little Marvels, the best variety of shell peas.  My mom has tried a lot of different varieties, but she always comes back to Little Marvel.  We grew some Alaska last year because they’re a little earlier, but the Little Marvels out-produced them several times over.  I’ll gladly wait a few extra days for that much difference in production.  The bowl fills up pretty slowly when you only get a couple peas in each pod, too.

St. Rose is having a garage sale in the hall two weekends from now (April 4), so we have to go through a lot of stuff and see what we want to get rid of.  I’ve still got a lot of stuff from my apartment boxed up in the garage, so I need to go through all that and see what I don’t want anymore, and what’s worth trying to sell, and what’s just junk.  I threw/gave away a lot of stuff when I moved, but I know I can whittle it down more.

In working on my Big Project lately, I finally became reasonably proficient in the PHP programming language.  I’d had to fix PHP programs before (they’re notoriously sloppy and broken), but I’d never really written anything from scratch in it.  It’s not as bad as  I thought it was, but I still don’t like it.  For its original purpose—a simple way to script plugging data into web pages—it’s pretty good.  But for serious text manipulation, it’s rough.  All its best regex routines (according to the docs at were swiped from Perl, but they’re less handy because they’re wrapped in function calls.  There’s also dumb stuff like having to quote variable keys like $var['name'] —except when you don’t quote them, as in a double-quoted string.  Then there’s the fact that most functions return their result, while others (like var_dump) send their result directly to output, making you jump through hoops to get their output into a variable.  I spent a lot of time jumping around in the docs to see how each function worked, since they aren’t very consistent.

For processing forms and pulling data from a database and displaying it wrapped in HTML, it’s not bad; but I’ll definitely be using Perl and HTML::Mason for my own web projects.  They give you the inline convenience of PHP, plus a better language and a lot of other features.  I’m hoping to be announcing one of those projects in a couple weeks, so stay tuned.

I also had to get more comfortable with Javascript and CSS, and even learned a couple new MySQL tricks.  When it comes to web programming, there’s always something new to learn.  I guess that’s good; it helps keep things interesting.  Most web programming involves printing forms and processing the output, lather rinse repeat.  It gets incredibly boring, so struggling to do it in a new language, or tying some interactivity into it with JS, actually helps relieve the tedium a little.

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