Dear Outdated Online Diary

Eagle-eyed readers may notice that I used to boast of having started posting here way back in December 2000, but with this redesign, the Quick Access area in the right-hand column now says July 2000. The reason is an early, abortive attempt at an online journal — a kind of proto-blog — that I tried to keep that summer, without the aid of any kind of blogging software. It started when I was under the illusion that the great heights of the Internet bubble were sustainable enough to set me up in style at my then-employer’s new offices in Singapore. Ha. That turned out to be not quite the case.

As I prepared to leave the States, it occurred to me that an online journal would be a good way to keep friends and family abreast of my progress in the East. This was before I was smart enough to use Movable Type or any kind of software that might have made my life easier. I wrote and produced this journal over the course of the next six months using only BBEdit and a painfully time-consuming willingness to code the pages by hand. The entries were fairly long and heavily edited, and each one took way more time than I spend on a typical post today.


In the end, I produced thirteen of them, before moving over to Blogger — and much shorter, less substantive posts — later that fall. Looking back at them now, they’re kind of naÏve and a little hilarious — one of them even marvels at how the purchase of my first serious digital camera would mean that I could add pictures to the journal entries. Was I ever that young?

In all seriousness, I still find myself quite fond of them. The first one, a farewell to Manhattan, is as accurate an encapsulation of my continued passion for New York as anything I’ve ever written or expressed. Like the others, it’s not perfect by any means — it falls prey too easily to maudlinism — but there’s something earnest and full of care in there. As I mentioned, they were edited and re-edited; I invested a lot of effort in crafting each one, and I like to think that it shows. I wish I had the time to produce similarly careful posts more often.

Back into the Fold

Until now, these journal entries have been isolated from the rest of my blog, trapped in awful layers of nested tables and old-style HTML crap. For this redesign, I took out an afternoon to carefully strip all of that away, reconstruct links and images, and import them into Movable Type. It was a pain the ass! But it was worth it, at least for me. If you have the time or inclination, you might find something a little worthwhile in them too:

  1. New York, See You Later” in which I say goodbye to the Big Apple (seemingly)
  2. Syndney Shine” in which I visit Australia
  3. Dear Diary” in which I muse on keeping an online journal
  4. Bargain Toy Bin” in which I am easily impressed by the power of digital photography to add images to Web pages
  5. River Place: It’s a Place Near a River” in which I explore the seedy underbelly of a Singaporean condominium
  6. Get Back” in which I am called back to New York
  7. Anywhere I Go, Here I Am” in which I lament my inability to leave New York
  8. On Travel” in which I review all the travel I’ve been doing
  9. You Can Never Go Home Again… Again” in which I get all worked up to go back to Singapore
  10. A List of Things I Consumed” in which I talk about a lot of stupid stuff I watched, read and listened to in 2000
  11. Just as I Left It” in which I return to Singapore
  12. Saigon by Scooter” in which I take a detour to the country of my birth
  13. On the Lam, So to Speak” in which I hightail it out of Singapore yet again