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Happy New Year’s Day

I’m taking the day off. May 2019 be happy and prosperous for you and your family.

I’m back

Howdy. I’m tanned, rested, and ready to go. I’ve got a couple of stories from my time off that I’ll try to catch up on over the next day or two, but otherwise I’ll just jump right in as if I’d been here all along. If there’s anything I might have missed from the past week that you think I really ought to say something about, feel free to leave a link to the story in the comments. Thanks very much, and Happy New Year!

Programming note

I’m going to be taking a bit of a mental health break for the next ten days or so. I’ve got things queued up to publish during this time, including the last of the runoff precinct analyses, an exit interview with Mayor Parker, and the start of interviews and judicial Q&As with candidates in contested Democratic primaries. I just would not expect much if anything on more current news during this time. (Good thing there usually isn’t much of interest happening at this time.) Don’t worry, I’ll be back in the swing of things shortly after New Year’s Day, but for now I need a little down time to recharge my batteries. Thanks as always for your continued support, and Happy New Year to one and all.

Twelve years

Twelve years ago today, I started this blog. That was on blogspot – believe it or not, it still exists; truly, the Internet is forever – and a few months later I had my own domain. I don’t do retrospectives, I don’t have a list of favorite or “most popular” posts readily available, and sometimes I don’t even remember to mark my blogging anniversaries, but I figured I ought to mention it this time, as I enter my baker’s dozenth year at it.

I tend to be a creature of habit, and when I find something I like that works for me, I just keep doing it. That’s the basic answer to the question of why I do this and how long I plan to keep doing it. It’s fun, I get something out of it, I’d miss it if I weren’t doing it, so I have no plans to stop. The day when those things are no longer true will come, but it’s not on my radar just yet.

One of the things I have enjoyed getting from this blog is a long list of friendships and acquaintances from across the political spectrum and in media, traditional and otherwise. I’ve gotten to meet a whole lot more people in real life because of this Internet thing than I could have without it. I’ve gotten to be on TV – I’ll be doing another episode of Red, White, and Blue to be aired on January 17 – and on radio – I’m doing another segment of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” for Houston Matters for this Friday, the 3rd – and discovered that I enjoy doing those things as well. More recently, I discovered that I have achieved the pinnacle of Internet fame when I stumbled across a Wikipedia page for this blog. I swear on whatever you have handy that I had nothing to do with that, and that I have no idea who created it.

Most of all, I enjoy the feedback I get from you, my readers. It still amazes me that there are people who read this blog. Thank you for doing so, thank you for commenting, and especially thank you for letting me know when I’ve got something wrong, and when I’ve got something right. I’d probably still write this thing if all my words were going into a big void, but it’s a lot more fun this way. As a reminder, there are multiple ways you can be notified about new posts on this blog. There’s good old fashioned RSS, there’s the Off the Kuff Twitter feed, and there’s the Off the Kuff Facebook page, which has 422 followers and which I’d dearly love to get to 500, if you’re so inclined. But however you access this blog, thank you for doing so, and thank you for coming back. Here’s to another fun year.

Guest posts coming

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be running a series of guest posts that I have solicited from a variety of people. I’m doing this partly to give myself a bit of a breather during the summer lull and my own vacation time, and partly because I’m privileged to know a bunch of smart, interesting people whose opinions I respect. I’ve asked them to write something on a topic of their choosing, and I’m very pleased to be able to bring you what they have produced. I hope you’ll enjoy the results and find them as enlightening as I have.

Social media update

This is just a friendly reminder that you can find much of this blog’s content on the official Off the Kuff Facebook page, which I hope you will like. I was asked recently what the purpose of that page was, and the answer is that I wanted to provide another way for people to get the content that I provide here. Some people (like me) like RSS feeds, some people like Twitter (the Twitter feed for this blog is @offthekuff, as noted on the sidebar), and some people like Facebook. It’s good to have options, right? For those of you who like the Off the Kuff Facebook page, I generally try to add a little something extra most days – I’ll share a link to some other blog post or story that I want to share but don’t necessarily want to devote a full post to, or I’ll write an add-on to a post like this story about my inept effort to do the first candidate interview of the 2012 cycle. I may also ask for feedback about specific things I’m doing or thinking about doing here, such as my recent decision to include more pictures on the blog. It’s an ongoing experiment, which adds some fun and some challenge for me, always nice to have after doing the same thing for a decade. Feedback is always appreciated, here or on the Facebook page, so please let me know what you think. Thanks very much.

And we’re back

So you might have noticed that the blog was down yesterday. I posted about what was happening on my Facebook status, but the long-story-short is that my webhost moved my site to a new server but the data didn’t move with it. It turns out (I did not know this at first and became increasingly upset about it through the day) that the server the site had been on was having problems, and that these problems were the reason it was taking so long for my data to get moved to the new server, and why the original attempt to move it had failed. That’s all over now, and hopefully it’s not something I’ll experience again any time soon. All of the things I had set to be published yesterday are now up. I’m going to link to them here to make sure everyone sees them:

Fear of debating is contagious
Still more on the new school lunches
Six candidates file for the open HISD Trustee seat
Judicial Q&A: Toni Martinez Ingverson

Thanks very much for your patience.

Time for a change

I think this sums it up, for the most part:

After nearly seven years with Movable Type, I’ve switched over to WordPress, which has proven to be quicker and more flexible. Thanks to the diligence of Greg Wythe, this should actually be more or less transparent to you. The blog feeds were swapped over first, so if you subscribe via an RSS reader, you have probably already noticed the switch. As of this evening, the MT index page as well as the root domain page are now redirected to this one:

http://offthekuff.com/wp

If you have bookmarks, or have me on your blogroll, I’d appreciate if you updated the links, if only so I can keep track of where the traffic is more accurately. All of the archived Movable Type links will continue to exist and work as they are, which is good because there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I could ever fix them in this lifetime.

I hope you like the new look. Some new features will get added as time permits between the end of the Lege session and the gearing up of the 2009 elections. The search feature on WordPress is a lot better than what I had in MT, so give that a try again if you had stopped using it before; I’ve made liberal use of it. Far as I can tell, your first comment requires approval, but after that it’ll get published without my intervention. That may change some day, but it’s how it is now. If you see any glitches or other weirdness, or just something you don’t like that could be improved, let me know. Thanks very much, and welcome to the new home of Off the Kuff. May it be at least another seven years before I feel the need to do this again.

Pardon our dust

Still doing maintenance. Regular posting will resume later, probably tomorrow. Some old post links may not work during this interval, but all should be well soon. There’s still a new look to come, but as the back-end part of the process turned into a bigger chore than we thought, that may be delayed a bit. Thank you for your patience in the interim.

Maintenance window

I’m having some maintenance done on the site this evening, hopefully including an upgrade to Movable Type 4.12 and a new look with a few new features. As such, you may not be able to see much on this page overnight and into the morning. All should be up and running before noon tomorrow. Check back tomorrow and see what you think.

Twitter

I’ve gone and drunk the Twitter Kool-Aid, so those of you who can’t get enough of me and want to know what sort of thing I consider too trivial to blog about, there you have it. It’s oddly addictive, and more useful than I’d have thought. Ginger has some good thoughts on what makes Twitter worthwhile.

Anyway, the URL is http://twitter.com/kuff if you want to follow me. I’ll probably put one of their widgets on the sidebar at some point, and I’m open to suggestions as to what else might be useful – maybe even this, if I get motivated. Let me know what you think.

Gmail forwarding problems

I’ve used the kuff – at – offthekuff – dot – com address for as long as I’ve had the offthekuff.com domain. I still use it today, though I’ve had it forwarded to Gmail for some months now. Unfortunately, it looks like my webhost is having some issues with forwarding email to Gmail:

Update: (11/29/2007 3:00 PST) We’ve moved all outgoing gmail forwards to their own server so that they’ll have dedicated processing time without affecting the rest of outgoing mail. The outgoing mail queue is still pretty full, but it’s steadily decreasing. We’re in contact with a Google support representative to get this resolved permanently. Mail to Gmail forwards are being delayed, but they are going through. A temporary workaround is to point your email forwards to a non-Gmail address or local DreamHost mailbox, as those are not affected by the delay. We’re sorry for the problems this causes you, and we’re doing all that we can to resolve this.

I hadn’t really noticed this problem before today, but it’s definitely been affecting me. If you’ve sent me an email to the kuff address today and are wondering why I haven’t responded, this is the reason. I’m sure I’ll have a pile of mail to wade through tomorrow, but in the meantime, if you need to reach me right now, address your correspondence to cakuffner – at – gmail – dot – com. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks very much.

What’s up with Google Blog Search?

Back in June, I wondered why a Google blog search for links to my site was suddenly returning so many fewer results than a Technorati search was. Recently, in the course of doing some background research for a post, Vince asked himself the same question, and came up with a possible answer: Blog searches are done in Safe mode by default. He disabled filtering, and wound up getting a bunch more results. I tried it myself, and it did seem to generate more results, though still not quite as many as I’d expect based on what Technorati does. Good to know, though. Thanks, Vince!

EPIDEMIC!

Kuff is the second person I know with pneumonia. Maybe not an epidemic, but definitely not good. I was all set to be a guest blogger when he goes out of town soon and now I find myself brought up from the farm team a bit early.

I’m going to cross post some stuff from my own blog, musings, this morning.

OffTheKuff = OutWithPneumonia

Well, it looks like the vile enemy pneumonia has sidetracked this blog’s namesake. He’ll be on injured reserve for a few days. Guest bloggers have been given the bat signal, so blogging will resume in however much of an OnTheKuff type of form during that time.

I’m told that, due to a power struggle at home, Kuff will not have a laptop with him. Otherwise, I’m sure he’d be blogging up a storm. But if there’s any well-wishers that want to leave some kind words, a couple of printouts might be smuggled into his hospital room.

A question for those with Google Fu

I’ve known for awhile that my average daily Sitemeter traffic fluctuates mainly with search engine referrals. The variation can be as much as a few hundred hits a day. There are other factors, of course – the end of the legislative session and approaching elections always drive numbers up – but this is one that comes and goes unpredictably.

Last week, I noticed that a Google blog search for my URL suddenly started only returning stale links – compare to a Technorati search and you’ll see what I mean. Coincidentally or not, my Sitemeter stats took a dive at the same time.

I’m not alarmed by this, and I don’t depend on ad revenues so it’s not like this hurts me, but I am curious. What causes this to happen, and what if anything can I do about it? I presume that at some point it’ll fix itself, but it’s always nice to be able to be proactive. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Please pardon the interruption

My site has been basically inaccessible to me all day – I don’t know what was going on with my webhost, but I was last able to use Movable Type around 9 AM this morning. I think they must have rebooted the server I’m on, because I was getting a 403 error trying to connect to anything a few minutes ago. It’s back now, and I’ve lost a days’ time plus a post on this Metro story (executive summary: this sounds like a bad idea to me, with a high potential for abuse). As my parents are scheduled to land at the airport in the next 30 minutes or so, I likely won’t have too much time at the keyboard this weekend – I have one or two things in the queue, but won’t be staying on top of the news much. So, look for a light posting schedule till Monday, and enjoy the weekend.

Five years

Today marks my fifth anniversary of blogging. Given that I got into this more or less on a lark, as an outlet to do some regular writing for the first time since college, that really amazes me. According to Movable Type, I’ve cranked out over 8500 entries. A few of those are drafts that I’ve never published, and a few were done by guest bloggers, but even taking that into account, that means I’ve averaged nearly five posts a day, every day, for those five years. That sure sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t quite feel like it. It’s still a lot more fun than it is work, which makes all the difference.

I tried some new things last year, with the recorded interviews. I’m proud of what I did with that, and I hope you found them useful. I plan to continue doing them, and perhaps broaden the focus a bit. I’d still love some feedback on this, so please let me know what you think about them.

This will be another interesting year, for me personally in particular. With the imminent arrival of daughter #2, I expect there will be a period of lessened activity on the blog, but how much and for how long I can’t say. I’m contemplating bringing aboard some new guest writers to help me during that time. If you might be interested in that, please drop me a note.

Beyond that, I look forward to another fun year, and for many more to come. Happy New Year!

Comment problem

I had some kind of problem with comments starting last night. I’m not sure what it was, and it seems to have magically cleared itself up today, but when I first discovered it, one of the things I did to troubleshoot was try to leave a comment myself. That comment never made it into the blog, which means it’s possible that other people’s comments got lost in a similar manner. Thus, if you commented here last night and don’t see that comment now, it’s because I never saw it. Please leave it again, and my apologies for the inconvenience.

Gone fishin’

Well, not exactly, because I don’t fish. But I do take a break now and then, and now is the time. We’ve got a bunch of extended-family activities going on over the next week and a half, so I’ll be mostly away from the keyboard between now and next Saturday. I’ve got one or two things of my own drafted for publication during this time, and the usual cast of guest stars is in the wings to do a little standing in for me as their schedules permit. This time, I’ve also solicited some guest input from a number of local elected officials and candidates, and I will publish their efforts while I’m slacking off as well. Each of these will have a title that begins with “Guest Post”, so you’ll know who wrote them even though my name will still appear in the permalink at the bottom. This is because it was easier to ask them to send me a document than it was to create a bunch of new author accounts and show them how to use Movable Type.

Anyway. I’ll be back to my regular schedule a week from Monday. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy what all the fine guest contributors have to offer.

Mail is flowing again

Looks like my mail problem has been resolved. I still can’t say for certain that stuff is arriving in a timely manner, but it all does appear to be arriving. So, please go back to using the offthekuff.com address as usual. I do check my Gmail account, but not nearly as often, so it’s for backup purposes only. Thanks!

Email delivery problems

My webhost is apparently having some having some problems that appear to be affecting my mail delivery. I say this because I haven’t seen any new mail since 6 PM last night, and I’ve verified that I don’t get a bounce message when sending to my offthekuff.com address. So, until further notice, if you have an urgent need to reach me by email, please send it to my alternate address, cakuffner – at – gmail – dot – com. Thanks!

UPDATE: I’ve just verified that I can send. It’s just that there’s nothing coming in. I’ve reported my problem and will hopefully get it fixed soon.

UPDATE: Some mail has now arrived. Looks like everything’s delayed, and not necessarily arriving in any kind of order. But at least I’m getting stuff.

Away from my desk

I’ll be tied up with family business through the weekend, and will have limited time for any blog-related program activities. Fortunately, I have activated the Emergency Guest Blogger network, so there should be some new stuff here whether or not I can contribute on a given day. I’m sure as soon as I step away from the keyboard something big is going to happen (aren’t we due for a SCOTUS ruling on the Texas redistricting lawsuit this week?), but c’est la vie. I’ll be back at my usual pace on Monday. If I don’t see you before then, have a good weekend.

Email problems

FYI, my webhost is experiencing email delivery issues. The last email I received was at 11:20 AM. If you’ve been trying to reach me since then, I haven’t gotten it yet. You can try my alternate address, cakuffner – at – gmail – dot – com, or wait it out. I’ll post an update when this is resolved. Thanks!

UPDATE: I’ve gotten some email since I posted this, but there’s not an update from Dreamhost saying it’s been resolved yet. So, if you are still having problems with my offthekuff email address, try the gmail one. Thanks!

Comments are working again

With a big ol’ hat tip to Greg Wythe, whose mojo with the phpAdmin tool for MySQL is clearly greater than mine, comments are once again working on this site. Feel free to use this as an open thread to vent whatever you couldn’t get off your chest while the mt_comment table in my database was on the mat. Thanks, Greg!

Comments have disappeared

Well, I woke up this morning to find that all of the comments seem to have disappeared from the blog. Further, an attempt on my part to leave a comment in a post gave no indication that it was accepted. You can still see a (correct) counter on the index page telling you how many comments a post had, and you may even be able to see those comments for now. The post that I tried to leave a new comment on now does not display any of the previous comments, though the counter is still set at 2, which is what it was before.

Right now, I have no idea what’s going on. I’ve got a ticket open with Movable Type support to troubleshoot. I’m going to leave this post at the top of the page until this issue is resolved one way or another. My apologies for any confusion. In the meantime, if you need to give me feedback on something, send an email to kuff – at – offthekuff – dot – com. Thanks very much.

UPDATE: This may be a problem with my Main Index template. The only way I could get this post to save and display was to remove the code between the MTEntryIfAllowComments tags (including the tags) in my Main Index template. As such, you no longer see the “Comments” link on the posts. I have a feeling this is going to be messy to resolve.

UPDATE: Man, do I miss having comments right about now. The problem seems to be that the mt_comment table in my MySQL database has gotten zapped. I attempted to restore it from a backup yesterday, but that failed. According to Dreamhost, my only option now is to restore the entire MySQL database from backup. As you might imagine, that prospect has me a bit squeamish. I’m going to check on a few more things, then time permitting (between DeLay updates and Real Life), I’ll give this a go. Wish me luck.

UPDATE: They’re fixed! Woo hoo!

And I’m back

And we’re all back from California, where the travel was made much more bearable by the fact that my daughter is a mutant alien from the Planet of Unnaturally Agreeable Toddlers. How people with more normal children handle flying is a mystery to me. Thanks to all my super guest stars and the fine job they did in my absence this week. A big round of applause, please, for Julia, Ellen, Elizabeth, and especially Jim, who is now the second-most prolific author on this site and who got one of his posts linked on the Chron opinion page.

It’s primary day today and the results are trickling in. BOR has all the threads for following that you could want. I’ll weigh in on the finals as they become known. In case you’re curious, our home voice mail had six political robocalls between Wednesday and Sunday – two from Bob Gammage, one from Wes Clark on Gammage’s behalf, one from Chris Bell, one an anonymous attack on Bell, and somewhat oddly one from “First Lady” Anita Perry on behalf od Railroad Commish Elizabeth Ames Jones. How many calls did you get?

Out of the office

I’m leaving in a few minutes for a trip to California for a week, so I’ll be turning over the blog to my fine collection of guest hosts. If I have the opportunity to pop in and say something I will, but otherwise things will be in their hands. I’ll be back on March 7. See you later!

TypeKey authentication working now

Thanks to some excellent support from Movable Type, I believe I’ve gotten TypeKey authentication working. That means that as of now, if you sign in with a TypeKey ID, your comment will appear right away, with no wait for approval. If not, your comment will appear after I approve it as before. No one has to use TypeKey, but if you do you’ll see your comments faster. Let me know if you run into any problems. Thanks!

Comment change

I’ve had moderated comments for several months now – it was originally a defense against an obnoxious troll, but it’s also the default setting that I inherited when I upgraded to version 3.2 of Movable Type. I think it works pretty well, but it means I’ve got to approve comments all the time, and that’s a bit of a concern, especially when I’m on the road. I’ve always wanted to get to a point where comments by people who are known quantities can pass through without my intervention, and I’ve had some inquiries about it as well.

Towards that end, I’ve enabled TypeKey authentication for comments. What that means is that if you have a TypeKey ID and you sign in with it when you go into comments, the comment you leave will appear right away. If you don’t have a TypeKey ID or you choose not to use it, everything will be the same as before – your comment will appear as soon as I approve it. Nobody has to get a TypeKey ID in order to comment, and that will never change. This is only a change for those of you who do have a TypeKey ID and want to use it.

To make sure this works, if you do have a TypeKey ID, please log in and leave a comment here. If you run into any problems, please let me know. I’ve still got an open ticket with SixApart tech support for help with the setup for this, so if something is broken I should be able to get it fixed shortly. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks very much.

UPDATE: TypeKey authentication is not working yet. I’ve updated my trouble ticket with SixApart. Hopefully we’ll get this resolved quickly. Thanks to all for the feedback.

Guest star time

I’m off to Portland for the weekend for my niece’s baptism. I’ve activated the Emergency Guest Blogger Network, so don’t be surprised to see a different byline or two this weekend. Be nice to them, they’re doing me a big favor, and I think they do a great job. See you Sunday night!

Display problem seems to be fixed

Figured out what the sidebar-display problem was about: my use of a fixed-width font in this post. I could swear that it displayed correctly on Wednesday when I posted it, but I just realized today that it was the cause of the main body being too wide – it needed the space. I’ve shortened the offending text, and things seem to look better now. Refresh your broswer and see if that’s true for you, too.

The funny thing is that this post was about to scroll off the bottom of the page. I’d have come back in tomorrow, hit Refresh, and everything would have been magically restored, had I not come to my senses and figured this out. No wonder tech support people chug Maalox every day.

As for the weird appearance of the Euro symbol where bullet points should have been, Michael left a suggestion for a template tweak that will hopefully work. I’ll know for sure the next time I do a copy and paste from an external source into a post. Thanks, Michael!

If there are any lingering problems, let me know. I appreciate the feedback.

Does this look funny to you?

I installed Movable Type 3.2 over the weekend. When I came back to the office on Tuesday, I noticed that my main page displays incorrectly on my PC here. Though my stylesheet did not change, it appears that the main body of the blog is wider now, which means there’s not enough room for the sidebar. As such, all the sidebar contents, such as the archive and blogroll links, show up at the bottom of the page instead. This doesn’t happen at home on my XP machine, where I’ve tried it in both Firefox and IE. It’s only here on my Win2K box with IE6 that it looks this way.

So, I’d like to know: Does this page look any different to you today than it did last week? If so, please leave a comment or drop me an email, and tell me what OS and browser you’re using. Thanks!

System upgrade

I have just completed the long-overdue upgrade of my system to Movable Type version 3.2. Far as I can tell, everything is working, but on the not-completely-unlikely chance that you run into an odd error commenting or sending a Trackback, please drop me a note to kuff – at – offthekuff – dot – com and let me know. Including the full text of any errors you get would be most helpful. Thanks very much.