kirk.is | archive | 2004 may

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yad yam

(21 comments)
May 1, 2004
So last night the potential buyers for my house and I agreed on a price...if all goes well in a week or so I'll be one house poorer and a wad o' cash richer. Which means I have to move at the end of this month, yurgh.

Product of the Moment
According to 'carbwire', Coca-Cola C2, design to appeal to low-carb dieters, is coming out this summer:
All I could think of is that this previously-kisrael'd product idea, imagined by Joseph Calzetta, might be more prophetic than I ever knew....
Go Low Carbers Go!

Quote of the Moment
"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play."
--Captain Kirk, "Shore Leave". Hmmm...I know a good excuse when I read one!

Game of the Moment
SWRON is yet another version of Tron lightcycles...but I think it does the best job of finding the balance between looking like the movies (a lot of version are just overhead view) and still being playable. (First person lightcycles is nearly impossible to play.)

Update of the Moment
The May Update of the Blender of Love is up and about...it's hardly ever out this early in the month...

todo, todone

(3 comments)
May 2, 2004
Mundanity I Wish to Share with Everyone of the Moment
Usually I like keeping my TODO's on my PalmPilot, the beastie that's always with me, and ticking off each one in turn, but for a weekend where I'm trying to get lots of little chores done, I like keeping up a simple .txt document. I label the top TODO and as each is done in turn I move it under the heading DONE. For some reason I fins this immensely satisfying. Here's this weekend's lists so far:
TODO:
hot tub chems
hot tub write up
straighten
grocery store
paperwork
bank card!!
weight bench on craigslist
garbage

DONE:
write dave
404ish
catchup mundane
write kyle
read blender poems
check dehum
blender improve?
do blender writeups
do blender review
harv square? (617) 661-9277 
clean email
ask susan r.e. lawyer
publish blender
If you're around a computer a lot during the weekend, I'd highly recommend it.

Current Events of the Moment
Well, current as of a week or so ago...here are amazing before and after images of the North Korean city where the train explosion occured.

Smallminded Cultural Observation of the Moment
You know, I know it's mostly just me turning into a reactionary old fart, but for some reason it seems very odd to think about some infant today who in 20 years will be very nostalgic for mommy's tattoos, like who would assoiciate those twisty tribal armband patterns with motherhood on some deep level. "Just like mommy's tattoos" doesn't ring right with me. (Actually, I know of one woman who had one removed not too long before she had her first kid, I don't know if she felt the same thing or if she was just sick of the tattoo.)

the geek bomb-diggity

(1 comment)
May 3, 2004
Update of the Moment
In yesterday's comments, Max expressed surprise that techies/nerds would look down on plain old text files on the desktop for "to do" tracking....Au Contraire! Check out the notes from "Life Hacks: Tech Secrets of Overprolific Alpha Geeks" -- text files are the geek bomb-diggity, especially because they're so non-proprietary.

Supposedly some geeks like excel, but I think it's pretty evil. Just unfriendly and clearly designed for office dronefolk, not with an engineering mindset. For that kind of thing, I either use tab delimited text files with Perl to do my dirty work, and I also made this one really fun online database that makes it trivial to make small one-table databases, complete with custom UIs. I keep meaning to get that in release-able shape.

Proclamation of the Moment
A Proclamation:

By the Power invested in us,
We, Sofia Lemieux, declare ourselves
to be Sofia I, Empress of Cantabrig-
ia, (the territory formerly known as
Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the
United States of America.)
In the interest of maintaining local customs upon meeting us, bowing is not required.
Her Royal Highness, Sofia I, Empress of Cantabrigia
--This was posted near Harvard Square, and put on the windshield of many cars parked there. Somehow, it increases my desire to live closer to Cambridge once I sell the house. I'm sure Waltham has its own crazies, but they're generally not as productive as this.

Nice eyepatch. I wonder if she traded it for wisdom like Odin, or just lost it in some kind of fight.


Science of the Moment
Tool Use in Animals (from Dr. Robert Cook at my alma mater Tufts.) Neat stuff.

Pop Culture of the Moment
Slate's Guide to Gurus. The UI is annoying (I would have preferred one big table) but the content is worth a browse.

honk

(10 comments)
May 4, 2004
Passage of the Moment
So I do get to laugh. Our situation, the human situation, is, in the final analysis, neither grim nor meaningful but funny. What else can you call it? The wisest people are the clowns, like Harpo Marx, who would not speak. If I could have anything I want I would like God to listen to what Harpo was not saying, and understand why Harpo would not talk. Remember, Harpo could talk. He just wouldn't. Maybe there was nothing to say; everything has been said. Or maybe, had he spoken, he would have pointed out something too terrible, something we should not be aware of. I don't know. Maybe you can tell me.
--Phillip K Dick, from the introduction to "The Golden Man"

Photos of the Moment
Ok, I admit this might fall in the "questionable signs of Kirk's mental health" department, but Mo has a revitalized interest in getting serious about photography (and a new nice digital camera to boot) and it has triggered something competitive in me. Part of it is a philisophical difference about cameras; portable (my favorite, since it's always there for the shot) vs. well, higher-end, and larger.

Anyway, Jane took the first one...we were slacking in the marshy and rocky area at the Salem shore during low tide. The second is a simba head I saw on the street. (I probably attracted some odd looks taking the picture. And The focus was, admittedly, a bit tough to get a hang of.)





I keep thinking I'd like to take a class in photography, but I'm mostly interested in composition, and want to keep it digital, but it seems like most places that get serious want you to pay your darkroom dues. I know there are reasons to go with film over digital, but still.

Link of the Moment
Retrogaming Times, an online classic gaming periodical, just published its last issue. Some interesting stuff there, especially the Many Faces Of... feature, where they did ratings to see which systems had the best versions of big arcade games.

Story of the Moment
One scene told thirteen times: Always Be Closing. It's a great read, and the gimmick works well I think. It reminds me a lot of this one piece of interactive fiction, Andrew Plotkin's The Space Under The Window.

one evil donkey

(12 comments)
May 5, 2004
Image Collection of the Moment
BadAssMovieImages.com...guess the URL says it all. Great browsing.

Quote of the Moment
"I'll call you..."
"For what? We're so over... we need a new word for over."
--"Sex in the City". What strikes me about this quote is how it seems like a saw that episode and grabbed the quote relatively recently, but when I went to look it up, it turns out it was all the way back in 2000. That was before I moved to a weblog format, when everything was recorded in my Palm journal. I'm a little alarmed at not having a good feel for where 2002 and 2003 have both gone. 2001, with its events good and bad (dot com bomb, wedding, 9-11) has a certain weight and heft to it. But I think partially because I've had the same job since 2002 I've lost some of milestones. I might go back and read old kisrael as well as my "mundane" day-to-day journal and try to get a better feel for the time. I'm grateful that I have been such a dutiful journal-keeper; otherwise I would have nothing to say but 'where does the time go?' But now I've left a trail I can follow.

InfoToy of the Moment
I said War -- HUH -- what is it good for? Or at least, where has it been over the last century. I think they could have done a better job with both the color coding as well as maybe using arrows to show when a nation conducts a long range war, but still it was pretty interesting.

it's not you

(17 comments)
May 6, 2004
Quote of the Moment
"It's not you, it's me. I don't like you."
--Aeryn on the show "Farscape". Mr. Lex posted that one on the comments yeterday. this page has the soundclip, along with another great quote from the character Chiana, "Look Aeryn, all men are stupid, OK? Men stupid! If you want them to know something you got to tell them." This neatly summarizes at least part of what went wrong between Mo and me.

Link of the Moment
When Computer Geeks Dream. Not quite as cool as a typical Slow Wave, but still. If you're in a hurry, this Nethack dream is a quick giggle.

Ramble of the Moment
I'm back to a feeling of discontent with my last name "Israel". I guess to be honest my main beef is with every-frickin' body assuming I'm Jewish. It's not that I mind being linked with that religion/culture in particular, (though I'm sure I've received some minor negative as well as positive prejudice because of it,) it's just incorrect. And I'm not particularly happy with the nation of Israel right now, though I'm at the "a pox on both your houses" stage with that whole mess. And also, it's an irritating assumption. Is someone with the last name "English" definately gonna be Episcopalian? Is someone with the last name "Montana" going to be...well, whatever Montanans are?

Plus, it's one of the easiest names to spell incorrectly. People hear the "is" and the "real" and they put it together "just like it sounds". Fact is, the only time people pronounce it "IsrAel" is in that "O come, O come Emmanuel" christmas carol.

I guess if I'm at all serious about this now would be the best time, what with the divorce and all. Probably the easiest thing would be to just use my middle name as my last and just be "Kirk Logan" (Which would be kind of funny, I used "Logan" as my first name for a while in middle school) though I'm tempted by the Zenitude of "Kirk Is". Dave Johnson was mentioning a doctor he knew recently did the same middle-to-last thing, and I could see how "Dr. Barry" sounds a bit better than "Dr. Lipschitz".

So whaddya think, am I crazy? Would I be throwing away part of my identity? Would "klogan.com" be that bad of a domain? (Just kidding, I'm meaning to start using kirkjerk.com anyway.)

Pop Culture of the Moment
Much has been made of the unrealistically large apartments the Friends inhabit, considering their various incomes as caterer, personal shopper, out-of-work actor. But the real fiction (and true appeal) of Friends is not the size of the apartment or the sex appeal of the stars so much as the much-missed, oft-lamented characteristic of dormlife: People drop by.
--This Slate article about the last episode of Friends. I've seen maybe 3 or 4 episodes...but Seinfeld has that same "friends drop by" vibe. It's why I liked semi-communal living back in the Big Yellow House, actually. I really miss that kind of casual socialization. Now the best you can hope for is a weekly-or-so "usual get together", like how I played darts with Peterman last night.

squirm

(5 comments)
May 7, 2004
Parasite of the Moment
The Worm Within is a surprisingly tastefully done but funny story about a guy in Europe and his tapeworm. Still, not for the squeamish.

Quote of the Moment
"I've dirtied my hands writing poetry, for the sake of seduction; that is, for the sake of a useful cause."
--Dostoevsky

Video of the Moment
All I can say is thank goodness my workplace doesn't have forklifts. Drags in parts, but is honestly Laugh-Out-Loudable once it gets going. (via Bill the Splut)

space vessels lack fuses, circuit breakers, and surge supressors, so that the control panels explode when some distant portion of the ship is damaged.

(4 comments)
May 8, 2004
Links of the Moment
This slashdot article, Emotional Bonding with Space Probes (about how the operators of Spirit and Opportunity might feel when the probes finally run out of juice) had some interesting links off of the main article, including The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Clichés which is pretty amusing. Also, Moving Relationships is on how people tend to attribute automobiles with personalities, especially in terms of reliabilty and safety.

Come to think of it, I haven't been singing to my car (which I do for the good -- err -- "carma") enough lately.

Milestone of the Moment
Signed the Purchase and Sale agreement for my house. No easy turning back now! I have to get cracking on an apartment, I think I'll need one by June 11, any suggestions?

More Thoughts on Living Spaces
So I looked at some apartments today.

It's weird. One place in Arlington was really nice (except for some oddly femmy wallpaper choices) but it was a little farther from Alewife/Cambridge than I wanted. Another was much better placed, had mostly decent floors, but some ugly wood panelling and over all wasn't quite as nice. And for some reason, given my self-proclaimed ability to be comfortable in almost housing setup, I almost feel...bad, or guilty, or just weird, preferring the nicer interior to the better location.

Or...something. I dunno. One undercurrent of a factor is a place that will be attractive to, or at least not scare off, potential future romantic interests. And also I guess having less tolerance for college-looking housing might be some mark of gradually maturing and refining tastes.

Oy. I hate growing up.

good grief

(3 comments)
May 9, 2004
Passage of the Moment
I object when people, especially therapists, talk about "resolving grief," as if grief could ever be so compliant. We humans don't "resolve" grief; we live with it. The pain of our losses recedes, over time, and we get on with our lives. But periodically one may well find the chill hand on the heart--what we miss, our mortality--its sudden grip like a sharp intake of breath. It is important for us to recall in such moments that we still remain. Grief washes over us and we are left standing. It's okay. Nothing's wrong. It's just a natural part of things. Dead leaves underfoot. A clear autumn evening, the black sky like a vault, the vapor of our own breath in the air, a surprise. "Oh," we say. "It will be winter again soon. It's grown dark so early." And we burrow deep into our clothes for a moment, glad to be heading home.
--Terrence Real, "How Can I Get Through To You". It's mostly a book on couples' communication. I plan to read it as kind of an autopsy for what Mo and I had, and to try to do better next time...I think for a long time I've confused having almost no sense of privacy with having a well-developed sense of intimacy, and maybe that's not the case. I think I tended to clam up about some things, how I felt about Mo (I tend to see saying I Love You as kind of a manipulative thing; you show love by your actions, the words can be faked) and when things were bad at work (I didn't want to rub her face in the way how, other than being vaguely supportive, she was helpless to make that situation better.)

So I'm a little worried that, because I really do believe in the power of people to make deliberate changes in their lives (even though it often doesn't take 100%, complete turnarounds are rare) I'm going to read this book, see so much of what Mo and I went through analyzed and given roadmaps to workthrough, that it's going to be really frustrating...a big "if only" game, "if only she had expressed how she saw the problem in English."

Interesting to note the similarities between this passage and this bit from Garrison Keillor's "Mr. Blue" column. (The biggish bullet item under the picture of the kid.)

self-absorbed like the towel that gets wetter the more it dries

(17 comments)
May 10, 2004
Aargh, where do I want to live?

And how much do I went to spend? Like it seems cool to be able to spend half of what I was spending on a mortgage (most of which was being sunk into interest anyway) but $300 more than that, which seems to be the going rate for the good sized apartments in Arlington I've been looking at and then I'm back in vaguely "seller's remorse" territory.

Sorry if lately this journal has been even more self-absorbed than usual. It has been that kind of weekend.

Image of the Moment
--I had Mo take this photo with her new camera when I was over dropping off an air filter. I'm trying to figure out if I like it, and if it would be good as one of several for an online personal.


Game of the Moment
Metroid Cubed is a new slant on the original NES game, literally, using some nifty little tricks to give it some visual depth while still preserving its 2D gameplay. At the bottom of the page, along with the really big white-on-green shaded "PLAY" button there are some other cool link, including Isometric Zelda and "100 Marios". (The one with rotation is pretty funny.)

It reminds me of an idea I had for a Java "MegaMan Bestiary" with user controllable versions of all the bad guys, the neat robo-creatures, of the original 8-bit NES MegaMan. I think the closest I ever got to doing that was making animated GIFs of Mo and me in Mega- form.

Journal of the Moment
Making the rounds (but Bill got me to take a second look) it's Heavy Little Objects, exceedingly readable descriptions of the random clutterables this guy has in his house.

we bought it to help with your homework

(11 comments)
May 11, 2004
Music Video of the Moment
I woke up with a bit of a tune ssticking in my head...took me a while to realize it was this little ditty from Hey, Hey 16K, kind of a tribute to the early 8-bit home computers, UK-centric though, so it's interesting to see what they had and we didn't...WARNING, catchy little tune. I kind of liked the knuckle cracking simulator by the same guy.

Quote of the Moment
"You know, kids, Drew's head is just like a piñata. If you hit his head enough times when he's sleeping, candy comes out. Well, first blood, then candy. Keep hitting."
--Mimi Bobeck on the Drew Carey show.

Introspection of the Moment
So I've been trying to use this time for some introspection, taking the experience of divorce to try and learn more about myself. Here's a thought that just crystallized: for me, roughly speaking, nothing is sacred. Which ties into me not having a sense of privacy, maybe it ties into not having made a big deal about my romance with Mo.

Lately I've been trying to figure out where this view came from, why my sense of "this is sacred, untouchable" is so much less formed than with some other people. Maybe it's the church I grew up in? The Salvation Army has a pretty terrific roll-up-your-sleeves approach to religion, very non-mystical. We don't take communion, don't baptize with water; you're expected to establish your personal, unmediated relationship with Jesus Christ and then get to work being a member of the local church community, taking part in the big metaphorical and literal war against sin. Relative to, say, the Catholics, there's a lot less mystery to it. And I always got to see behind the scenes anyway, as a child of the ministers, and then as a member of the band and active participant.

But there's so little sacred in my life...not even stuff like my divorce or the death of my dad is taboo for the occasional macabre joke. (Which he would likely would have appreciated, he had some similar inclinations to dark humor himself.) I try to be respectful of other people's "sacred spaces", with varying levels of success. I think my strongest sense of the sacred and spiritual comes out in this passage from Henry Miller's "Tropic of Capricorn": (pardoning the sexist language.)
There are no "facts"-- there is only the fact that man, every man everywhere in the world, is on his way to ordination. Some men take the long route and some take the short route. Every man is working out his own way and nobody can be of help except by being kind, generous, and patient.
Kind, generous, and patient. That's what I aim for, but sometimes my own way to ordination is slow and painful itself.

Maybe I need to get better at setting up sacred spaces, at drawing certain boundaries, at following certain rituals. I dunno!

Geek Note of the Moment
This is the first kisrael entry from my new cute iBook. From my living room, no less...I went ahead and got my wireless mojo working again. And sitting on the couch and hitting the Internet is what this laptop is all about for the time being.

It's a little intimidating being such a newbie all over again. Mac definately is a bit different of a paradigm...more "app" based than window or even document based, I guess I'd say. I still need some time to form my final opinion. In the meanwhile, I think I will be more able to empathize with my mom and other non-techies I help out from time to time. (Or maybe I'll be worse..."look, I learned this in a day or two, why can't you??" Hmmmm.)

It has been a long time since I've had a new laptop. I mean a long time...I bought this one great Tandy 1100FD laptop in 1991 or 92...it had no hard drive, and an odd (but readable) gameboy like CGA screen, but with a very decent text processor hard-wired in, so I was up and running very quickly. I used it to take notes in class, which made me something of a freak back then, but hey...I had notes I could read afterwards. In 1995 I bought a cheapie "Mitac" laptop, 486, 16 shades of grey...ran Windows 3.1 ok, and I could use its little track ball to do diagrams (as well as school logos.) I used Mo's 1999 VAIO and her much more recent Dell, but that's about it.

Ok, this is a really boring entry. But...it is on my new laptop, and that has got to count for something, right? Right?

patrianarchy

(11 comments)
May 12, 2004
Ramble of the Moment
So, in this book (Terrence Real's "How Can I Get Through to You?") at one point the author starts talking about "the Patriarchy". And I have to admit, for some reason that language starts a low level alert on my BS-detector. For some reason I associate it with immoderate and excessively-PC viewpoints...but then I think, why does it set off that reaction in me? I mean, to a probably large extent, "the patriarchy" is a fact: we're not likely to have a woman president in the next few years, there ain't that many women CEOs overall, and look at the structure of the most dominant religions in this country.

I think what I find troubling is the implication that the Patriarchy is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of deliberate ploy. To the extent that it does exist or is dominant, that would indicate that its a strong player in some kind of societal darwinian struggle. Which doesn't mean it's superior overall; the ability to survive in darwinian terms is indicative of...an ability to survive, that's it. Inedible weeds thrive over other many other more useful (to us) and/or beautiful (again, to us) species.

Maybe subsocieties that had that kind of male-dominated structure did do better than some that didn't, but that doesn't mean that it's a better way for us to live, that some other system might not be healthier for us emotionally and mentally and spirtually and all that. I think the point of this book is that it's more or less an established thing; we can fight against it or make our peace with it, but if we live in denial of it being there and how it has likely affected us, it probably won't be good for us in the long run.

playful sisyphus

(1 comment)
May 13, 2004
Quote of the Moment
"How about Sisyphus, the guy who pushed a rock up a hill for eternity? That fits this project."

"Hmmm...I like it! It conveys a sense of playfulness."

"It's supposed to convey a sense of futility!"

"You have to look at it from the rock's point of view."

--Dilbert and Pointy Hair Boss naming a project, that's the actual quote from the tv show. (I used to paraphrase it as "Sisyphus has a sense of playfulness [...] you have to look at it from the rock's point of view.")

Photo of the Moment

--Peterman cleaning up after some late night cement stair patching. I came up with the idea of using my car's highbeams.

X-Files of the Moment
UFOs over New Mexico? WTF? It seems to be taken pretty seriously even though it feels like some kind of publicity stunt. (Thanks for the Old/New Mexico correction UnavailableName5)

chord ding chimes ding

(5 comments)
May 14, 2004
Toys of the Moment
How much fun can be had with the default Window's system sounds? Click and see! And by the same guy: Ball On String...kinetic!

Web Promotion of the Moment
Mr. Lex used the message board to plug a new site he's trying to get rolling, The Ontok Cafe, aiming to get a discussion on a new topic going daily. Tough to get the critical mass to make something like that work, but worthwhile when it does.

Political Comment of the Moment
LIEBERMAN: Mr. Secretary, the behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American. It deserves the apology that you have given today and that have been given by others in high positions in our government and our military.

I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized.

And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody.
Lieberman is making one of two points. Either he's just saying "USA! Not quite as bad as the worst people on the planet!" Or, he's saying "I just want to point out that some brown people unconnected to this event did some bad things!"
--'Atrios' on this Washington Post transcript.

switch back

(1 comment)
May 15, 2004
Kirk's Life Updates of the Moment
So this week I found an apartment...a really spacious place practically in the heart of Arlington Center. I think being in a neighborhood, with a little indy cinema, some coffeeshops, restaurants, is going to be really great...it's terrific to be surrounded by something other than houses. I'm not crazy about the floors of the place, newish squishy carpetting, but it's pretty huge (I could theoretically have an apartmentmate who would have their own room at the other end of the place, the only issue would be the shared bathroom), the rent is amazingly reasonable, and the location is terrific. It's still kind of funny to be thinking about starting a new life in a new place...come to think of it, I haven't picked a new place completely on my own since my first apartment in 1996.

In other news...this is going to make all the Mac fans roll their eyes, but I gave the iBook to Peterman (I had racked up a debt to him for the work he did cleaning before the Open House and helping repair the front steps) and got a darling little PC laptop with a 12" screen, about the same as the iBook. Probably I didn't give the iBook enough of a chance, but it just wasn't clicking. For one thing, I hated how many modifier keys Apple keyboards have, and how they aren't mapped the same ways as they are in Windows...there's Ctrl, Command/Open Apple, and Alt, not to mention the laptop specific "fn"...I kept forgetting which key to use to get the equivalence of "ctrl-arrow" in Windows (move cursor to the start of the next word...useful!), and I just had to think too much. Plus I wasn't crazy about the Dock...I hate how it's an always visible blend of the start menu and the task bar...I don't want to see the apps I might want to start all the time (I don't like Quicklaunch buttons or the Office start bar either.) And when I'm browsing (which was one of the main things I wanted a laptop for) I want each window to have its own entry on the Dock, I don't want to have to go to a dropdown menu list of windows. Yeah there are probably ways to configure around that stuff, but between those things and having to learn new equivalents for all the small apps I've spent years harvesting in Windows, it just doesn't seem worth it. The iBook has many cool touches, like the little throbbing LED that shows you it's sleeping, like a heartbeat or breath, some other things, but overall my cute little Averatec 3225HS (I've already nicknamed/network named it "Sliver", because it's silver and small) has captured my imagination in a way the iBook didn't.

Caption of the Moment
"I should ask, before we begin, whether you're looking to repair your existing marriage or replace it?"
--Couple's Therapist in a New Yorker cartoon. Lately it's been dawning on me that Mo's honest would have been the latter.

Essay of the Moment
A somewhat curmudgeonly rant on the current state of affairs and affairs of the state by Kurt Vonnegut, but I think the old guy has earned it: Cold Turkey.

wireless life

(9 comments)
May 16, 2004
Writing kisrael entries from bed...how decadent! It's nice to be of the tyranny of the desk in my study...

In other news, I was going to mention this yesterday but wasn't sure if it was allowed to be made public yet...my mom is moving back from London after her 3 year stay there...to Boston! That's really cool, my Aunt and I are really looking forward to it. This wil be the first time since I was in high school, when we were (obviously) in the same house that we've lived anywhere near each other. Of course, some aspects might be a little weird...except for a brief stint with the UU I haven't gone to church in the interim. And I wouldn't mind going with her sometimes except for the usual "oh, so where are you going to church now" questions.

Cartoon of the Moment

--Cartoon by George Beker for Creative Computing's 1978 book 101 BASIC Computer Games. The robot illustrations in that book were a huge influence on me as a kid...I was just knocked out at implausibly-specialized yet believably-drawn robots, they seemed so cool. The book has recently been scanned and published by the fine folks at AtariArchives.org.

Footage of the Moment
Here's a clip of a house getting eaten by a tornado. (Heh, boingboing say it's a 26.6 Meg link, but my new 802.11g linksys router thingy let me download and watch it in realtime on my laptop...neat.)

I was thinking that tornadoes must've even scarier when people didn't have a car that could probably outrun it if need be...you would just see this wrath-of-god funnelcloud coming down on you, and all you could do is hunker down and hope.

Oddly, just the other day Peterman and I invented a...I'm not sure what the game is, "metagame" isn't right, "alternative play mode" is correct but an ugly phrase...involving tornadoes inside of Mario Kart Double Dash. On the Dry Dry Desert level there's a tornado that winds it's way around the track opposite the direction of travel of the players, and I had previously thought about an "alternagame" of just being a "storm chaser", just following the tornado and seeing how it made it's way through. But then we got into playing chicken, seeing who could get their kart closest without being sucked in, with the added fun of trying to push the other player in when they were closest. It would make a great minigame, points awarded if you were closest, but a penalty for being sucked into the funnel.

Self Indulgent Thought of the Moment
You know, maybe this is just "observer effect", but it seems like a lot of stuff happened in the spring of 1974, around when I was being born. Honestly, more than I would have expected taking into account that I'm more likely to have my eyes open for that particular year. Like, according to this Tornado FAQ, there was a "super-outbreak" of tornadoes a few days after my birth. Watergate was coming to a head and Nixon would resign 4 or 5 months hence. And I think I read that streaking was the big national fad. What a time!

Query of the Moment
Mo used to handle the bills and all that crap, so of course now I have to get back into doing that. Just out of curiosity, what kind of schedule do people use for handling that? Every day? Every couple of days? Every week? Every two weeks?

It's an enormous pain in the butt. Especially since my "Spam" detectors are still a little weak when it comes to snailmail, and so I have to open a lot of semi-official looking envelopes.

But I do have a shredder, and that's always fun. And we already know how I feel about letter openers.

hey hey, gay gay

(7 comments)
May 17, 2004
News of the Moment
Cool, same sex marriages in my fair commonwealth. Now I get to hear all the rightwing talkradio folks have their knickers in a twist, neener neener.

The resident crank on the loveblender ("Cap'n MPD" I call him, and am tempted to start labeling posts under all of his monikers with that secondary label) posted a National Review Online article subtitled We’re here, we’re mildly and tolerantly homophobic, get used to it! Mostly it's sophomorically clever preaching to the choir crap (see yesterday's loveblender message board for my more thorough response) but it raised one thought provoking point, setting up homophobia as a rampant condition where people are just "born that way", a turnabout of some of the arguments about homosexuality.

Gripe of the Moment
Grrrr....I had a phone bill with around $70 in extra charges for last month, I think with all the house stuff I was using it a lot more, and of course I have the same stupid plan I've had for like 2 or 3 years now, $35/mo for 200 anytime / 1000 offpeak minutes.

What irritated me was when I called to ask about changing plans, one thing the Sprint rep suggested was that for $5 more a month, I could move the startoff offpeak from 9pm to 7pm. Brilliant. Yes, clearly, the secret to overcoming my discontent at Sprint (in this day and age of number portability, and if I had had some kind of rollover plan all this time I could probably talk continuously for a month) is for me to give them MORE MONEY, given how I think I made about 2 calls between the 7pm-9pm window the switch would open up.

When she started talking about how to avoid fees by waiting 'til my contract was up at the start of June, I thanked her and hung up. It's time to get a new phone company. Any suggestions? For a while I was a little nervous about getting away from Sprint, since the reception at my place in Waltham had improved dramatically with them sometime last year, and I didn't know if that was Sprint specific or not. But now that I'm moving to Arlington anyway...

I have to think about what features I want. Do I want instant messenger since I lack it at work? Web access? I dunno. My family's toying with the idea of a crosscountry roadtrip next year, I'd love a phone that I could USB up to my new laptop and use as a cellular modem...do they make that?

'Course I have no idea what other companies offer in terms of minute plans anyway, I need to do some research. But I suspect $35 for 200/1000 is not that great of a deal, especially because most months I'm well under that.

Conspiracy Theory of the Moment
Was the Nick Berg decapitation faked? 50 anomalies around Berg and his death. Hrmm.

Quote of the Moment
"Luck is my middle name," said Rincewind, indistinctly. "Mind you, my first name is Bad."
--Terry Pratchett

amerikabomber

(12 comments)
May 18, 2004
Passage of the Moment
It was almost as if he was in a delirium when he described to us how New York would go up in flames. He imagined how the skyscrapers would turn into huge burning torches. How they would crumble while the reflection of the flames would light the skyline against the dark sky.
-- Albert Speer's diary on Hitler's desires to build a special two part suicide mission bomber to attack the United States, from this Atlantic Monthly article. So looks like Al Qaeda wasn't first with the idea.

Typography of the Moment
Old typographical joke:
"if your nose runs and your feet smell, you might be umopepisdn!"
(Get it?)

Also, in a meeting, I think I did up my best ever ASCII-art Alien Bill (the guy gracing the top of kisrael.com) notoriously (well, to me anyway) hard to get recognizable in that medium...
        ___ /\__
ALIEN  ___   (<o) 
BILL   ___ /\/ \\/ 
PRODUCTIONS    /_ 
If any ASCII-artists out there have a suggestion to improve it, feel free to let me know! For more of my ASCII art, check out this kisrael entry.

Gaming Geekery of the Moment
Huh, just found a reference to Scale2x, a filter designed to make older heavily pixelated games look better by guessing at "what's a curve". I think I'd miss the old pixels if this caught on, but it's a cool idea, and the samples they show are impressive.

I tried it out on my b+w self-portrait that used to be on the top of the site, here's the before and after:
Neat! It really reclaims what the pixels lost. It doesn't use any additional colors, just more space (or smaller pixels). And it really depends on low color images...I tried it with some of the "photographic" icons on the right side there, along with some photos, and it didn't do anything.

am i blue

(6 comments)
May 19, 2004
Image of the Moment

--More fun with yesterday's Scale2Xd filter. I have to get some new base images to play with, I use this one way too much...and now it's even worse, because I'm less inclined to use some of the nice shots of Mo I have. I'm not sure why I like this one so much...I guess having my eyes covered make it easier to mess with, plus it has some bold colors and an interesting pose.

Hmmm. Thinking about this now, I guess I'm kind of like some photoshop n00b just discovering filters...the fact that I have to do some semi-clever steps (reduce in size, tweak the palette reduction, saving as a .PNG, then running a command line program for the atual filtering) doesn't really change that...


Poem of the Moment
I phoned from time to time, to see if she's
changed the music on her answerphone.
'Tell me in two words,' goes the recording,
'what you were going to tell in a thousand.'

I peer into that thought, like peering out
to sea at night, hearing the sound of
waves breaking on the rocks, knowing she
is there, listening, waiting for me to
speak.

Once in a while she'll pick up the phone
and her voice sings to me out of the past.
The hair on the back of my neck stands up
as I catch her smell for a second.
--"Siren Song", Hugo Williams. I love that "tell me in two words what you were going to tell in a thousand" line.

News of the Moment
Texas...what a bunch of Yahoos. They want to deny the Unitarians tax-exempt status because it "does not have one system of belief". Jimminy frickin' crickets. Heaven forbid people be able to admit something besides blind "I just KNOW this is right" faith.

a gay day in may

(5 comments)
May 20, 2004
Image and Quote of the Moment
"When you find yourself beginning to feel a bond between yourself and the people you photograph, when you laugh and cry with their laughter and tears, you will know you are on the right track."
--Weegee, via Weegee's World. He was a famous NYC street and crime photographer. The photo is "Girls at the Bar", c. 1946...I thought it was appropriate for today, when so many gay couples are tying the knot (after the 3 day waiting period.) Janes at a wedding of 20 couples today.


Moment of the Moment
Here's a wonderful moment:
It's night, you're tired, you're just arriving home after driving a while with the radio on...you pull into the driveway, turn off the engine and the radio and sit and close your eyes and maybe recline a bit. Such a lovely newfound lack of stimulation...no road noise, no radio, no need to keep your eyes and mind on the road...only the sound of the car cooling down and settling in for the night, and the usual night noise beyond.

You don't need to stay there too long, just long enough for the calm of the moment to settle in, then you can walk into your home and into bed.

Spam Subject of the Moment
"Regretful Of Having Little Diccky? Hahha trinomial whipsnake"
--Subject line of spam from "Kandis Teena". I don't know what a trinomial whipsnake is, and can only guess how it ties into having a "Little Diccky", but it certainly has an air of menace about it.

Come to think of it, "Trinomial Whipsnake" wouldn't be a terrible name for a band.


Article of the Moment
The universe as a giant hack by God...

Essay of the Moment
Another Slate piece, against willy-nilly anti-gay-marriage 'slippery slope' arguments.

arms and tp make the clownstaple. i don't know what that means.

(5 comments)
May 21, 2004
Toys of the Moment
Might be a light update day...anyway, the clownstaples page (the guy who made Windows noises) is back up. Some neat little flash demos...if you're in a hurry check out Arms and TP. Both are pretty nifty, I especially like the physics and feel of Arms.

What is Funny of the Moment
I am always uncomfortable when men I do not know comment on physical attributes of women both of us do not know. For example, just the other day, I was in an elevator with two strangers. One woman. One man. The woman arrived at her destination. Doors open. Doors shut, leaving me and the gentleman. He turns to me and says, "Did you see those tits? Looks like she shoved a roll of paper towels up there." I was tempted to play along with it and say, "More like a yoga mat." Or maybe add to the paper-towel reference with, "Man I would like to dry off with her boobs. The Brawny guy wishes he had a chest like that, I bet." And then we would both high-five until he got off the elevator and went to work at whatever mutual-fund company he worked for. I assume that a guy like that is looking for a bonding moment between two men, so maybe it will lead to us exchanging business cards. Or maybe that's the way the NRA started. I don't know. Instead, I just looked at my shoes and mumbled to myself so he could hear, "Girls are pretty awesome." He glanced at me. No, he just plain stared at me. Then I said, "You should see my mother's boobs." This confused him, and he got to his floor and exited the elevator. I thought about high-fiving myself, but instead just mumbled, "Did you see that ass?" Then I high-fived myself.
--Zach Galifianakis in The Onion's "What is Funny" feature. A certain friend of mine feels compelled to make that kind of comment all the time. He calls it having Boobette's Syndrome, which actually is a very good name for it...

drumsticks for eatin', drumsticks for beatin'

(9 comments)
May 22, 2004
Played a little hooky Friday and went with Peterman and Leslee to Six Flags New England (we went despite the commercial with the wacky dancing old guy and the gratingly catchy jingle.)

While the coasters ended up being their usual fun selves, Peterman noticed that my two favorite parts, the ones that I ended up talking about the most, both involved drumsticks.

The first was lunch...I had been jonesing for a giant turkey drumsticks ever since I saw a tv show that showed 'em for sale at this giant Texas fleamarket months ago, and Six Flags had 'em...amazingly, they lived up to my hopes and expectations, just a massive chunk of tasty tasty meat you can rip off with your teeth.

The second was an arcade game they had there...I think it was an MTV Drum Jammer...it's basically drum karaoke, you pick a song and then drum along. (Not like one of those DDR games, it doesn't judge you or anything.) I've been thinking of using a little mad money on a drum pad setup, one of those tabletop models, and this convinced me I really need one.

Images of the Moment

--Peterman driving. I like the road as seen in his sunglasses.

--Coaster and Clouds.

--Leslee took this great shot of Peterman and me on the "Skycoaster". (I previously posted a video and description of our 2001 time on the ride.)

spf30

(2 comments)
May 23, 2004
Started getting into semi-serious packing yesterday. I'm moving June 7th. And I've come to realize that living in an echo-y boxed up house is a good way of disconnecting, or at least marking the transition.

I skipped a morning shower yesterday, partially out of laziness, partially because...well, frankly, I just love the way my skin smells after I've spent a day slathered in SPF30, walking around in the sun. Some combination of light sweat and the chemicals all baked together, or something. It doesn't work with all brands, but a lot of 'em, including Banana Boat Sport, the one I bought the other day. It so taps into all these great old memories I have of going to amusement parks with my high school friends, flirting and riding rides and having a great time. Also summers working with mentally handicapped kids at the Catholic Diocese daycamp, which had its own kind of satisfactions.

Some of the sweetest and most nostalgic times I've had were riding back from Cedar Point, Mike driving with his gal pal in the front, me snuggling and sneaking kisses with my romantic interest in the back. Well, not always that sneaky. Our favorite tape to put in was the soundtrack to the Blues Brothers movie, on the portable tape player Mike used since his car (the 'Mikeymobile', a kind of aged Chevy Citation) didn't have its own stereo.

But anyway, getting back to the smell...I really love it. I mean...it's all I could do not to jam my nose on my shoulder and just stay there for hours, breathing deeply.

Exchange of the Moment
"I could spend the time to sort this crap out properly. But I'd rather send a message to my future self. That message is 'F*** you, YOU sort it out, I'm busy.'" [begins dumping stuff from closet into cardboard box.]
"Yeah, but didn't you already kind of do that to yourself, that's why it's in this state now?"
"Nah. That wasn't me, that was my past self. He was a real prick."
--Me and Peterman while packing last night.

Photos of the Moment
The "Mind Eraser" at Six Flags New England on Friday:




Censorship of the Moment
The poems being censored for being "un-American" is one of the most jaw-dropping stories I've read this week. As Bill the Splut put it, "What's the Eternal War on Terror about again? Oh, right, they hate freedom."

I'm grimly amused by the idea that via Chalabi, Iran played the USA like a bad violin, that they got their #1 foe (US, ala the Great Satan) to take out their #2 foe Saddam.

dear diary

(10 comments)
May 24, 2004
A lot of people who know me know my concern with the passage of time, and my dismay at how quickly weeks and months can slip by if you're not disciplined about paying attention to them. One thing I've been doing since around Memorial Day 2000 is writing down each day's events in my "mundane journal". I like the idea that each day leaves a little footprint. Admittedly it's been kind of a "write only" activity...I've never gone back to read them en masse, though they have been useful for reference every now and then.

But lately I've been wondering "where did 2002 and 2003 go?" Sometimes it seemed like they went by in a blurred rush...it might be due to the relative longevity of my current job (2 years, another half year and it ties my personal record.)

At any rate, yesterday I finally figured out how to leverage my daily recording discipline in a readable form...I'm going back and summarizing every month in a pseudo-bulletitem form, a metajournal of sorts. The result is a lot more browsable...I focus on anecdotes and events where I say "oh yeah...I remember that" and overall I think it's going to be a great way of reclaiming that "lost time".

Also, it's amazing to go back and see events as signs and portents. With Mo of course, but also the path of my career, and even the lives of my friends. I recommend private journal keeping as a discipline for everyone.

Design Advice of the Moment
Design Eye for the Usability Guy...five designers ("the Design Fab Five") offer advice to Jakob Nielsen's famous useit.com.

Photo of the Moment
--I must've walked by this bit of plantlife alley off of Derby Street in Salem hundreds of times without seeing it. Weird how easy it is to be blind to this stuff...I used to think NYC was unique in how you could walk down the same stretch of upper Broadway and see new stuff each time, but then I realized it's just a concentrated form of what happens everywhere.

legend of the wang

(8 comments)
May 25, 2004
Quote of the Moment
"The meaning of life is to become a legend."
--Kefrens, Desert Dream. I saw "Troy" last night, and actually that quote echoes one of the central themes of the movie, the Greek heroes looking to have their names live on...sometimes I get hung up on that kind of thought. Though playing "what if" while standing in line for the Cyclone at six flags, Peterman and Leslee both said they would rather be rich than famous enough to go down in history.

Sophomoric Bit of the Moment
How much funnier would the first Harry Potter book be if you replaced 'wand' with 'wang'? Pretty funny, actually, or at least worth a giggle in parts.

Link of the Moment
A somewhat less cool Heavy Little Objects, it's My Urban Dig, a gal digging though and writing up the tchochkes in her house.

sad songs and margaritas

(15 comments)
May 26, 2004
Quote of the Moment
"You can be alone and not be pathetic. But it's hard, especially if you can't stay away from sad songs and margaritas."
--Misti Velvet Rainwater on the Blender Board

Style of the Moment
So Jane at work is encouraging me along through the process of a minor makeover. Currently the most blatant sign is I'm trying to more or less give up jeans for cargo pants, and also adding in more colored, simple-patterned T's rather than just my usual buttondowns (generally actually buttoned these days) with a white, more interesting T underneath.

Now she's thinking I should get contacts...I'm wondering. My one experience with them in 1990 or so didn't go that well, but there may have been some big improvements in contacts for people with astigmatism since then. (And even those were the second generation.) I haven't bothered with glassescontacts (thanks Lex) because A. I'm slightly weirded out by the concept B. I'm used to glasses and C. Mo said she liked me with 'em. Well now C isn't a factor, and I shouldn't let A or B weigh too heavily...I dunno. Maybe I'll try posting with glasses, without glasses comparision pictures and let the crowd here know what I'm talking about.

Book of the Moment
Note to self, get the O'Reill book mentioned in this boingboing piece, Digital Photography Hacks. "The flow of traffic provides a great opportunity to add motion to your compositions. Automobiles are light-painting machines, and it's easy to put them to work for you". Too cool.

I gotta stop thinking of this in terms of some kind of rivalry with Mo, who has been posting some of her own stuff lately.

News of the Moment
So we're back to thinking about terrorism (one of the reasons I wanted to get my house sold sooner rather than later, frankly.) US says al-Qaeda ready to hit "hard". Sigh. I wonder what "hard" means. I have a feeling that they'd have a difficult time getting much bigger than the Madrid bombings, and anything much smaller than that...I dunno, I think this country is braced for it, frankly.

What I'm also dreading is the Republican spin after any attack. "The terrorists want to disrupt our elections, just like in Spain! They want you to think that we can't protect you! If you vote for Kerry the terrorists have already won!" and people taking that thinking seriously.

Bush: too many resources in Iraq. Too little attention to the homeland. Too much bad karma worldwide.

Bill the Splut points out that the administration can't even admit to fault in him falling off a bike. "It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose" (someone checked and it was like 10 days since the last rain in Crawford). As Bill says "He fell off a bike. And there's already an official cover-up."

Jimminy frickin' crickets.

reading is fundamentalist

(10 comments)
May 27, 2004
Toy of the Moment
Amusing...read an online minibook with as realistic a virtual page-turning interface as possible.

Photography of the Moment
The photography of Bill Owens. His "Suburbia" photos are the most interesting bit, suburbanites and their dwellings in the late 60s/early 70s. The captions, the thoughts and feelings of the people being photographed, are the wonderful. (For some reason, the "Next" arrow next to each photo doesn't seem to work...for quick browsing (in IE at least) I suggest clicking on the first link on the left, then hitting tab, enter to view each link in turn.) If you're in a hurry, just check out Drink and Dance. Forget the weird clothes and ugly Christmas tree...those people are having a great great time. (This one reminds me of an old Polish joke however...)

Random Observation of the Moment
S'funny how the stock markets have all pretty much ignored the summer terror warnings. I don't konw if it's because they're all skeptical about it, or the decline in oil prices are that much more captivating, or what. (I pay more attention to the stock markets than I should. It's not healthy for me to feel that my fortunes are so closely tied in with the markets when the relationship is pretty distant overall.)

Probably everyone has a hare-brained, won't-work scheme for making money on the stock markets, and here's mine: there's some kind of relatinship between the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the markets over here. They're open different times, though. It seems like there should be some way to use one to have a good idea of what the others going to do...not perfectly, market-affecting news can happen any time, but still...So, if you could just daytrade in index funds for the relative markets, or some other stock that was highly correlated with the market as a whole, you should be able to make a mint. I think.

Anyone who knows more about the practicalities of daytrading or the markets in general than I do want to explain why it wouldn't work? I remember writing up a Perl computer simulation to demonstrate to a friend that the black/red roulette trick of "always double up after a loss" can't work, but this idea depends on more specifics than that.

Still, maybe someday I should get into some "paper trading", coming up with wacky schemes and trying them out risk free.

Requiem of the Moment
Man, do I miss the website Suck.com. (Permalink to what's repeating today.) It was so clever, so funny, with its thin-columned little snarky articles and Polly Esther / Terry Colon cartoons. (Here's a kisrael piece on when they shut down...)

living and dying are, in a sense, of equal value

(10 comments)
May 28, 2004
Passage of the Moment
"You are a beautiful person, Doctor. Clearheaded. Strong. But you seem always to be dragging your heart along the ground. From now on, little by little, you must prepare yourself to face death. If you devote all of your future energy to living, you will not be able to die well. You must begin to shift gears, a little at a time. Living and dying are, in a sense, of equal value."
--Haruki Murakami, "Thailand", a short story in the collection "After the Quake". (Of course, Islamic terrorists have taken that kind of thought too much to heart.)

Archaeology of the Moment
The Archaeology Institute of America asks Was There a Trojan War? and reviews Troy as shown in current media (the movie and some television specials. I was hoping to be able to find this stuff after watching the movie, I was wondering how carefully the props etc were (Answer: they did a lot of research but felt free to grab from different periods.)

Of course the actual Trojan War was, sadly, utterly Brad Pittless.

Restaurant of the Moment
Found a new terrific place to eat last night...Café Belô...very authentic Brazilian food, in fact their default URL brings you to their Portugeuse site. It's buffet style, load up and they charge you by the pound. The buffet itself is terrific, and then they have chicken, pork, and beef roasting over charcoal at the end, and they'll carve you off big chunks of lipsmacking meat. Wonderful, so tasty, and cheap. (It's a per-pound cost, a bit more if you've Atkins'd-out and get pretty much all meat.)

Peterman and I went to the one in Allston, but I guess there are like 10 of them around...reminded me a bit of my visit to Portugal, all the way back in 1992.

the pleasures and pains of coffee

(2 comments)
May 29, 2004

Essay of the Moment

Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale. Coffee roasts your insides. Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring. Think about it: although more grocery stores in Paris are staying open until midnight, few writers are actually becoming more spiritual.

But as Brillat-Savarin has correctly observed, coffee sets the blood in motion and stimulates the muscles; it accelerates the digestive processes, chases away sleep, and gives us the capacity to engage a little longer in the exercise of our intellects. It is on this last point, in particular, that I want to add my personal experience to Brillat-Savarin's observations.

Coffee affects the diaphragm and the plexus of the stomach, from which it reaches the brain by barely perceptible radiations that escape complete analysis; that aside, we may surmise that our primary nervous flux conducts an electricity emitted by coffee when we drink it. Coffee's power changes over time. [Italian composer Gioacchino] Rossini has personally experienced some of these effects as, of course, have I. "Coffee," Rossini told me, "is an affair of fifteen or twenty days; just the right amount of time, fortunately, to write an opera." This is true. But the length of time during which one can enjoy the benefits of coffee can be extended.

For a while - for a week or two at most - you can obtain the right amount of stimulation with one, then two cups of coffee brewed from beans that have been crushed with gradually increasing force and infused with hot water.

For another week, by decreasing the amount of water used, by pulverizing the coffee even more finely, and by infusing the grounds with cold water, you can continue to obtain the same cerebral power.

When you have produced the finest grind with the least water possible, you double the dose by drinking two cups at a time; particularly vigorous constitutions can tolerate three cups. In this manner one can continue working for several more days.

Finally, I have discovered a horrible, rather brutal method that I recommend only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins. It is a question of using finely pulverized, dense coffee, cold and anhydrous, consumed on an empty stomach. This coffee falls into your stomach, a sack whose velvety interior is lined with tapestries of suckers and papillae. The coffee finds nothing else in the sack, and so it attacks these delicate and voluptuous linings; it acts like a food and demands digestive juices; it wrings and twists the stomach for these juices, appealing as a pythoness appeals to her god; it brutalizes these beautiful stomach linings as a wagon master abuses ponies; the plexus becomes inflamed; sparks shoot all the way up to the brain. From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink - for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.

I recommended this way of drinking coffee to a friend of mine, who absolutely wanted to finish a job promised for the next day: he thoughthe'd been poisoned and took to his bed, which he guarded like a married man. He was tall, blond, slender and had thinning hair; he apparently had a stomach of papier-mache. There has been, on my part, a failure of observation.

When you have reached the point of consuming this kind of coffee, then become exhausted and decide that you really must have more, even though you make it of the finest ingredients and take it perfectly fresh, you will fall into horrible sweats, suffer feebleness of the nerves, and undergo episodes of severe drowsiness. I don't know what would happen if you kept at it then: a sensible nature counseled me to stop at this point, seeing that immediate death was not otherwise my fate. To be restored, one must begin with recipes made with milk and chicken and other white meats: finally the tension on the harp strings eases, and one returns to the relaxed, meandering, simple-minded, and cryptogamous life of the retired bourgeoisie.

The state coffee puts one in when it is drunk on an empty stomach under these magisterial conditions produces a kind of animation that looks like anger: one's voice rises, one's gestures suggest unhealthy impatience: one wants everything to proceed with the speed of ideas; one becomes brusque, ill-tempered about nothing. One actually becomes that fickle character, The Poet, condemned by grocers and their like. One assumes that everyone is equally lucid. A man of spirit must therefore avoid going out in public. I discovered this singular state through a series of accidents that made me lose, without any effort, the ecstasy I had been feeling. Some friends, with whom I had gone out to the country, witnessed me arguing about everything, haranguing with monumental bad faith. The following day I recognized my wrongdoing and we searched the cause. My friends were wise men of the first rank, and we found the problem soon enough: coffee wanted its victim.

--"The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee", by Honore de Balzac, translated from the French by Robert Onopa, via this page.

the password is "password"

(1 comment)
May 30, 2004
Life Imitate Arts of the Moment
"So the combination is one, two, three, four, five? That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! The kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!"
--Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

"SAC remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders. And so the 'secret unlock code' during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War remained constant at OOOOOOOO."
--Bruce G. Blair, Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark

Photoshopping of the Moment

--Worth 1000 had a photoshopping (image modification) contest John Ashcroft would love, taking paintings and art involving nudes and putting some dang clothes on 'em!

Article of the Moment
Nice Slate piece on the design of flags (like the enormously unpopular one we kind of comissioned for Iraq) with plenty of examples.

memorialialial

(11 comments)
May 31, 2004
So, this Memorial day hopefully I should be a busy little bee packing packing packing. So I'm writing this now, Sunday night...thought I'd catch everyone up on the gory details of my life. (Enough with the interesting links and quotes and content...lets talk about me!)
  • Remember my plan to kind of merge alienbill.com and kisrael.com to kirkjerk.com ? That plan is still on, but rather than having it at kirkjerk.com, I grabbed another domain...mortals.be! Snazzy, huh? The cool(ish) part is, in a few days the entire domain "lord.what.fools.these.mortals.be" should work, all pointing to my main site. (Sawers came up with the idea of getting into the .be domain for this...brilliant!)
    The domain works on a few levels for me. One is the obvious fool aspect, and how that ties in with the general goofiness of my daily site. The second is how the "mortals" concept reflects my mortality guide, and sounds kind of existential even by itself. Finally, the photo at the current site gives a special meaning to the quote for me...it's my (now deceased) dad making moose antlers underneath a statue of Puck inscribed with that phrase.
  • Here's a photo from the inside of my new apartment. It's the size, location, and price of the apartment that makes it terrific...I'm not crazy about the wood paneling on half the wall, or the carpets, but hey. When was the kind of paneling popular, anyway? Also the top part is a relatively dark beige, not as light as it could be.
    One of the things I don't like about being single is second opinions...should I see if I could repaint the beige wall? How about the wood? Or would that just be goofy?
    Of course, part of the problem is I never did take enough of an interest in this stuff when I was with Mo. I coulda learned somethin'.
  • I mentioned the makeover I'm trying to put myself through...one related thing is I've stopped stuffing my pockets with cellphone, camera, palm pilot and started carrying a bag all the time, a coolish canvas courier bag from Old Navy. I say I'm carrying a "man purse", though I should stop doing about it, because the whole "self-deprecating humor" thing isn't doing it's job of short-circuting other people's jokes...sigh.
  • My beloved Honda Civic is aging. When I graduated college I said to myself I'd let myself get a new car but I should try to get 10 years out of it...so far its been 8 years, 95,000 miles. And, dangerously, I'm dreaming of Mini Coopers. I want something that's easy to park, and less likely to repel chicks than a 8-year-old Honda Civic. And, assuming everything stays on course with the house, I will have the money kicking around for it...and while I don't need a car quite as nice as that, and could probably go for a while with good ol' Kermit, I will need another car sooner or later...
  • I'm feeling some distinct pangs of lonely this weekend. It was a great help when Sawers came over the other night, helped with some packing, played a few games. (And took some candles I didn't want off my hands for Cordelia, and also some material for making his cool decorated boxes.) And I see Peterman and Leslee an awful lot, and that's great. But now more than ever I feel I need to be proactive about arranging get-togethers. One thing I noticed in summarizing older entries in my mundane journal is how many fun cookouts Mo and I. Those were great times, a few friends over, some chiken kabobs and/or sweet corn on the grill, some games, somes boozing, some shmoozing.
Feedback on any of this stuff welcome!
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