You laugh, when you hear the stories of the hunters who freeze to death each year, when you read that they were 100 miles from the nearest road, out there with nothing buth a cheese sandwich and a stadium blanket. “It’s Darwin at work”, you think, and pride yourself YOU’LL never do something as dumb as that.
And then you almost blow your friends’ hand off in college with fireworks, realize the monumentally stupid thing you were doing (throwing roman candle rounds by hand after — dear god — SHORTENING THE FUSES so they’ll go off in midair), and realize the series of small, “stupid with a little ‘s'” decisions that have aggregated into STUPID WITH A CAPITAL S and now you and Matt Foot (the captain of the college baseball team, and the star pitcher) are blinking at each other over Matt’s hand, which is black and smoking but totally unharmed and realizing it’s a good thing he didn’t close his fingers around the HUGE BALL OF STUPIDITY that you managed to arrive at through baby steps that were individually just pretty dumb.
So anyway, I set a shell script loose on my entire www folder, containing ten websites, WITHOUT BACKING IT UP FIRST. Like, AT ALL. “What?” you say. “What kind of an idiot are you?” Well, the kind of idiot that asked his web provider about getting backups started, was told by them that they were developing a new backup prodct, and come back in two months, so I, um… forgot all about it. “Well, schmuck”, the uncharitable among you will say, “how come you didn’t put an archive command in your daily cron jobs, which would have at least backed up everything to a different folder?” Yeah, that would have been a good idea, wouldn’t it? “Well, at least”, say those of you intent on driving it home, “at least why didn’t you FOR CHRISTSAKES BACKUP THE DIRECTORY BEFORE YOU RAN A RECURSIVE, FILE-MODIFYING SHELL SCRIPT ON IT?” Probably because it just didn’t occur to me that gawk would touch binary files as well as text files, and I certainly didn’t expect it to truncate every file in those set of folders to 4096 bytes, which is what happened. (Yes, yes, I KNOW that the reason for backups is because you have to expect the unexpected. Who knew that there would be a half-inch of slow fuse attached to three inches of quickfuse?) So all the HTML files and images on my website (and Kate’s, which I feel REALLY bad about, and is my one real regret), were arbitrarily shortened to 4K.
Many of the image files are in old migration archives that I made at various times, and I can try waking up old, mothballed laptops to find them. [Update: yeah, it turns out that I have a backup from December 2004, which is about two-thirds of my images.]
The text files I can mostly reconstruct from the snapshots taken at archive.org, which will work fairly well since the pages not in my blog have a low rate of change. And all the text in my blogs is fine, since that lives in a mySQL database, not in the filesystem. So the net result is that my blog is mostly okay (just with munged images), but my other project work is pretty badly messed up.
It is oddly cathartic, in a way, though. The Retropod and the Ultimate Water Gun (which were what got most of my traffic) are old news, Internet-tily speaking, and so I’ll be happy to replace those with smaller sites that are mostly about pictures. The Guerilla Drive-In site was tiny, so that’ll be easy to replace. And a lot of the auxiliary content (“all about my trip to Kaiju Big Battel!”) had an enthusiastic “lookit me, lookit me!” tone that I was gradually getting a little uncomfortable with, like I was still walking around in my high school varsity jacket. So I’ll actually be pretty happy to rescue the “lookit me!” stuff, but make it less front-and center. Since today is my (wait for it, wait for it) thirty-fifth birthday (hurrah!), it seems like a pretty good time to turn over a new leaf on the site.