Naturally, when Chuck informed Alex and me earlier of his decision to retire, we were heartbroken--just as all of his readers are showing themselves to be.
And yet, once the dust of that explosive announcement settled, Alex and I realized--just as all of his readers must--that Chuck's long, invaluable, joyous service would remain forever an inspiration, and that no one deserved more accolades and more congratulations and more good wishes for a long and fruitful post- NOTW lifetime than he did! So, Chuck, please consider those warm feelings and congratulations delivered in spades!
Of course, after all this, Alex and I still faced the question of whether to keep Weird Universe going. We decided to give it a go, for as long as readers keep coming and seem to enjoy what we do.
The blog has not been diminished by one-third, but by more like fifty percent, with Chuck's departure. So I guess Alex and I will just have to try to fill those large shoes to some degree.
Thanks to one and all--but most of all, to Chuck, whose idea it was to do Weird Universe in the first place!
Friends: the post immediately below this one is Chuck's 1500th weekly column! Do the math, kids: Twenty-eight-plus years of brilliant curation and commentary. What else began in 1988 that is still going strong and undiminished? Oh, sure Afghanistan is still wracked by war. But is that an honorable achievement? No! The Phantom of the Opera
debuted in 1988 and is still running. But I'll take Chuck over Andrew Lloyd Webber any day!
Please weigh in with your own thoughts and applause and appreciations. Perhaps your 28-year-old child somehow owes his or her birth to NOTW? Your marriage was saved by NOTW? You went to Washington as a humble Senator and conducted a noble filibuster by reciting NOTW columns? No? Well, in any case, Chuck has brightened many a day and life. That's what really matters.
Several people have mentioned that the link to the answer on the latest MYSTERY GADGET post (answer in foto above) did not work for them. Others have mentioned that some links are not permitted to folks outside the USA, and that seems to be the case here. Thanks to one and all for bringing this up.
In the future, I will make sure to have the answer after the jump, as well as at the original source!
The spam filter on the new version of our hosting software seems extra sensitive today, having mistakenly bagged comments by Expat and Phideaux. I reset the status when I see this, so your words will get through. Nothing any of the commenters are doing wrong that I can see.
Fellow WU-vies--it appears that thanks to the help-line persistence and technical prowess of Alex, we are now able to make new posts from scratch. The ones you saw this weekend--when the site wasn't down--were old ones from the queue which the glitchy software somehow still allowed us to bring live.
In any case, here's to at least another eight years of smooth operation. For your patience, a bonus re-jiggered cartoon of the kind I post regularly on my Facebook page.
Ever since we started this blog, back in 2008, we've been using the same blogging software to run it. As in, the same version of the software. We never updated it.
The software company regularly came out with updates, but we just ignored them. This wasn't just laziness on our part. Over at the Museum of Hoaxes, which runs on the same software, I had a traumatic experience trying to update from version 1.7 to 2.0. The update took the site offline for an entire week while I struggled to fix it. Lots of other people had similar experiences. It was a very buggy update.
So over here at WU, I figured if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Everything seemed to be working fine with version 1.7 of the software. So I never changed it.
The problem was, eventually the blogging software could no longer run on a modern server. So our webhost moved the site to a Victorian-era server in their back closet. (It's like trying to run Microsoft Word 97 on a modern computer. You can't do it. It can only run on an old computer.)
This is the condition we've been living in for quite a while. But finally, I decided it was time to return to the 21st century. So this weekend I updated the software from version 1.7 to 2.11. That doesn't get us to the most recent version of the software (which is 3.something), but it does let us return to a modern server!
However, the upgrade comes at a bit of a cost. We've lost some things in the right-hand colum, such as the list of Recent Comments, as well as the list of Recent Posts Ranked by # of Comments. I'm trying to figure out how to restore these.
But the site, otherwise, should be the same. Hopefully just a little faster. However, if you notice anything not working as it should, definitely let me know.
If you tried to visit WU yesterday, you probably couldn't get it to load. The reason for that is because one of our old entries, about "paradoxical undressing,"
was linked to by reddit's "Today I Learned" subreddit
, and that resulted in the server being overwhelmed by traffic. The phenomenon is known as the "reddit hug of death."
I tried to do what I could to mitigate the server freeze by redirecting the reddit traffic to a static page, but it only helped a little bit. However, the gaze of reddit now seems to have moved on to other things, so server response times have returned to normal.
You may have noticed that the site is loading very slowly. Our web host tells us that the reason is that Microsoft Bing is very aggressively crawling the site.
I'm doing what I can to try to remedy the situation — which is to put a note in the site's robots.txt file kindly requesting Bing to back off a bit. We'll see if it works.
And maybe (fingers crossed) Bing will eventually get bored and go play somewhere else.
The first post was made on WU on July 30, 2008, and since that time we've explored many strange and unusual subjects. But unfortunately, it's difficult to browse through the back catalog of all that we've posted about, unless someone is willing to wade through the category or month-by-month archives, which aren't designed for easy browsing.
In an attempt to address this problem (or, at least, begin to address it) I've put together a gallery of Weird News of the 20th Century. I've added the menu to navigate this gallery at the top of the page. (It's the list of decades that you should see right below the WU banner and google ad.) The gallery is still a work-in-progress, but it's got enough content to go live.
I designed the gallery with new visitors to the site especially in mind, hoping it can serve as an introduction to all the weirdness we explore and give them something to look at beyond just the main page.
But, of course, long-time WUvies may find some things in the gallery that they missed. Enjoy!