Idyllic Beach and the Toxic Vine

the vine and other updates -- 3/29/2020

There are many more important things going on around me than a silly internet forum, but in a little while I am going to talk about a silly internet forum. First, however, here are a few of the more important items.

US COVID-19 cases

image from on 3/29/2020

As of this writing, the official US total COVID-19 case count is at 122,653. That total is actually from 4PM ET the day before. A day late is exceedingly better than the dollars short, but I won't go into that right now. Looking at the chart on the right, that I copied from, you can't tell exactly what that total was on the first day of March, but I will tell you -- it was 30. The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in Iowa stands at 336, and the total number of related deaths is at 4. Three days ago (3/26/2020) when I wrote the piece about wearing a mask the Iowa case total was at 179.

Speaking of wearing a mask, there was an article published in the New York Times today titled "More Americans Should Probably Wear Masks for Protection", with the subtitle "Experts have started to question whether masks may offer at least some protection to healthy individuals and essential workers." Well, when gazing out at a sea of bullshit, it is always refreshing to see at least some tiny morsel of common sense bobbing up to the surface.

And as a testament to just how uncommon that common sense can be, over the past ten days I have been giving serious consideration setting up an internet message board, The Toxic Vine to be more specific. Holy bits and bytes, Bob!! Have you lost your freaking mind?? Well, that might be in question, but it is not the main question, and some of the big questions that follow the main question of "am I really going to do it?", are what do I want to accomplish by opening a new Toxic Vine, and how will it be structured?

The day after I signed up for this domain name, downloaded and installed the latest version of PHPBB forum software, version 3.3.0. It has been almost exactly ten years since I shut down the original board, and web technology has advanced light years during that time. I have somewhat kept up with the newer web technology, and have continually tried to upgrade my web development skills. One of my other hobby sites that I re-engineered three years ago,, is all custom code compatible with the latest release of PHP, and is responsive HTML5/CSS3/jQuery in the front end, so although I have become somewhat of a hermit in the past 4+ years, I haven't completely shut myself off from the outside world. But PHPBB -- holy crap that forum software is a massively complex open source project, and the internals of the software have changed a lot from the heavily modified 3.0.7 version of my old message board of 10 years ago. A technical challenge is good for a 70ish hermit like me; exercising the brain might help keep me from going senile, but if I open a new version of the Vine, though, I really doubt that I will customize it to the extent of the old one.

The structure that I need to focus on right now, is not so much modification, but how are the forums/permissions/security/etc to be set up. That depends a lot on what I want to accomplish by re-opening the Vine.

If I do this, I do not seek to promote the Vine to drive up membership; the membership number will be whatever it becomes, and I don't care if there are only two or three members, as long as it is a group of people who mostly get along with one another, and feel comfortable in engaging in discussion of ideas in such a way that entertains and/or informs. In this crazy reality where we exist, the inherent insanity is now being exacerbated by a deadly pandemic that is forcing us all to forego some of the simple social pleasures that are a part of our lives, while robbing many of our fellow humans of their health and their lives. Amid all of this insanity, my hope is to create a little place where at least a few people can have an online discussion without our every keystroke being factored into some gigantic array of algorithms that predict our behavior, that establishes a model by which to sell us shit, and that determines a script of information to flash at us in order to mold our opinions to fit the wishes of whoever has enough money to buy them. If that last thought sounds like the rantings of an old hermit geezer, then fuck it -- I'm ok with that.

Well, that felt good to write. More to follow.

--Bob { Next >>> }

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