kirk.is | archive | 2004 dec

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left three lanes closed, wah

(18 comments)
December 1, 2004
Feh. Traffic court was so-so; the mediator guy knocked off half because of my complaint about the confusing signage, but I imagine I'll still be feeling some insurance repercussions.

It's funny gauging my own response to the little mediator room, sitting across from a state trooper who was acting as the State Police lawyer (or something like that), how uptight and nervous I was. Maybe it's just some authority issues I have, or maybe it's something deeper. It made me think, I do believe these guys are pretty much the good guys, looking out for people's safety, and that there's a strong tradition of justice in this nation that really means something. Could you imagine how scary a similar setting would be in a nation that didn't have our history of civil rights, being brought in for a little chat about some posted opinion or suspicous activity? It's a sobering thought.

Passage of the Moment
However, there are certain things that are so wonderful in American life that I can hardly stand it myself. Chief among these, without any doubt, is the garbage disposal. A garbage disposal is everything a labor-saving device should be and so seldom is -- noisy, fun, extremely hazardous, and so dazzingly good at what it does that you cannot imagine how you ever managed without one. If you had asked me eighteen months ago what the prospects were that shortly my chief amusement would be placing assorted objects down a hole in the kitchen sink, I believe I would have laughed in your face, but in fact it is so.
--Bill Bryson

Bad News of the Moment
Just to scare the bejeebers out of everyone..in the US media there's been an amazing lack of coverage about this whole Bird Flu Thing...Tens of millions, 100 million? A billion if it happened to mutate in a few especially nasty ways?

And of course, I'm sick with something today. My skin hurts, I had the worst night of sleeping...I thought it was either because of the post-court nap I had, or because of a wee-hours-of-the-morning power outage (which led to all sorts of half-awake musings that maybe I'm such a technogeek that I was sensing whatever happened to my electronic and electric goodies, or that they were getting some of my illness...)

Bleh.

At the risk of getting a big old pile of LAN3's scorn, I decided to check out the metafilter discussion on this. One of the last posts made an interesting point, that so many of these epidemics are "zoonotic", because we shove too many animals too close to each other and to our selves, largely for the purpose of lunch.

Game of the Moment
On a lighter, fiddling-while-Rome-sneezes note, thanks Andy for sending along this Altoids-advertising rip off of "WarioWare" 2 Fast + 2 Curious. Lots of goofy little microgames. It lacks some of the pizazz of the original (I think because of a lack of sound effects, just a soundtrack) but it's not bad.

burn baby burn

(7 comments)
December 2, 2004
Quote of the Moment
"Some oxygen molecules help fires burn while others help make water, so sometimes it's brother against brother."
--Alleged actual quote from a science student's paper, collected by Richard Lenderer. That's a great geek poetic thought.

Martini of the Moment
This might be making the rounds, I think I heard it mentioned on the radio this morning, but the Algonquin Hotel's $10,000 Martini is...well, about what you'd expect a $10,000 Martini to be, I imagine. (I.e. mostly a publicity stunt, but an entertaining one.) I wonder what the "round table" woulda said...

Feh. I can't stand gin anyway. Maybe I've never had the good stuff but it always ends up tasting like pinesol to me.

the homers

(6 comments)
December 3, 2004
I've been listening to sports radio a lot lately. It hit me that I consider it something to feel a little ashamed of, as if I was veering towards being more of a anti-intellectual "typical guy", or something like that...something that doesn't match up with my image of myself. (This negative "Joe Shmoe" image probably reflects a bit of prejudice on my own part.)

First off, a lot of Sports Radio is pretty dull. These guys can go off on tangents that are pretty obscure, or even big topics (like player contracts) that don't interest me that much. There are some bright points, though, like WEEI's "Whiner Line", on around 6PM weekdays...there's some really funny people calling in. And a baseball or football game can be a great driving companion, engaging the fan's visual imagination and emotional core just a bit.

But then it hit me...at the risk of being a bit of fairweather fan, this is an astounding time in Boston Sports. Boston has the reigning champs in both baseball and football! (Plus a basketball team we won't get into right now, but a pretty good soccer team that I think got into the finals.) I mean Boston usually fields very competitive teams, but having the "world champions" in two sports at once has only ever happened a few times. So why not be a bit of a sports fan? It would be stupid to not appreciate this era in the local sports scene 'til after it was long gone...

A funny disparaging term on these stations is calling someone a "homer", meaning they're all "rah-rah" for the home team and it clouds their objective opinion. And I'm sure I've got some of that, but who cares. Pats Rock. Red Sox Rock. You other teams, just stay the heck out of their way lets you be steamrolled by our mighty juggernauts.

Quote of the Moment
"Dying is hard, but everyone has to do it, and I hope I do it well."
--Verona Johnston, America's oldest person, who finally passed away at the age of 114. That's a lovely sentiment, though I keep thinking of what my cow orker Jamie said: "gee...how psyched must the person who used to be the SECOND oldest person in America be now?"

Toy of the Moment
It has been done before but who can resist virtual bubble wrap? Don't bother not checking "Manic Mode", other wise it's way too slow to be satisfying.

heads will roll

(5 comments)
December 4, 2004
Image of the Moment

--Happyface Bowling, 3 Dec 2004

what can the browns do for you?

(2 comments)
December 5, 2004
Today the Patriots are playing the Cleveland Browns, a team whose helmets are notably plain, just a solid block of color: Orange, of course. I really hope that when they need stuff shipped they use the trucking company Yellow, whose trucks and branding are proudly Orange as well. ("the safest color on the road".)

Of course, the helmets might be better for the Browns than the alternative of this guy, who I guess was used in the '50s and 60s. (UPDATE: Some careful googling (the key was adding in the word "elf") revealed that the guy's name is "Brownie" and he got disposed of by Art Modell right after he bought the team, though I think he's started to make a few retro appearances here and there.)

The image came from the NFL page at logoserver.com... LogoServer is an archive of all these logos from teams famous and utterly obscure alike. They even have logos from teams that never quite made it, like a team that might have been in Baltimore if the Browns hadn't moved there and become the Ravens:
Come to think of it, I previously kisrael'd "I almost want to rig up a big web compendium of all the teams and logos I can get my hands on"... it looks like LogoServer.com beat me to it.

Laser Tag of the Moment
I played Laser Tag for the first time last night, at a place called The LazerZone in Randolph. It was fun, not quite what I expected. My mom and I were on the same team, actually. (This was part of the local Salvation Army's headquarters christmas family dinner.) We did ok, with our team losing the first match and taking the second. I tended to score in the middle of the pack...the tactics weren't quite what I expected, because a big part of the game is just standing there blasting someone as they (sometimes) just stand there and blast at your "base"...sometimes not dodging because they're in "invincible mode" or just because they want to get as many hits in as possible. Though I think ducking and dodging and prolonging your 20 "lives" before having to go back to homebase for a recharge was a big part of it. Still, fun. I worked up a sweat, though I was wearing a fleece pullover which wasn't too sharp.

nice and crisp

(2 comments)
December 6, 2004
Quotes of the Moment
(All of these are from the A.V Club's interview with Quentin Crisp)

[In response to "Why have you always lived in one room in a rooming house?"] "Well, because I've never found out what people do with the room they're not in. So I stay in one room, and it's easier to live there, to control it, to make it warm. It seems to me to a covenient way to live, and it's cheap.
--Quentin Crisp. I sometimes still have the urge, somewhat incompatible with my slovenly habits, of one-room-living. I think the model for me is life during college. A bed, a computer, some books, a comfy chair, a television with videogames, a designated place to go for meals, where they take care of the cooking and the clean up...it was really something.

"Even a monotonously undeviating path of self-examination does not necessarily lead to a mountain of self-knowledge. I stumble toward my grave confused and hurt and angry..."
--Quentin Crisp, from the ending of "The Naked Civil Servant"

"Yes, it's written into the Constitution that you're allowed to pursue happiness. In England it would be considered a frivolous objective."
--Quentin Crisp, on views on happiness on freedomin America vs. England. The interview also quotes him as saying "in America, everybody's your friend and happiness rains down from the sky." which might be overstating it a bit, but who knows.

despair and eggs

(4 comments)
December 7, 2004
Recipe of the Moment
TUNA CASSEROLE
Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish
Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light.
--excerpt from the Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook, via Sawers

Link of the Moment
A long time ago I liked to the site's starship gallery, but the Star Trek site Ex Astris Scientia has lots of other cool (at least, cool as measured on a scale of "1" to "Star Trek") stuff, like the Inconsistencies page...the page on Trek's view of religion is very telling about the culture and creators that spawned the various incarnations of the show.

in pursuit of dumb happiness

(12 comments)
December 8, 2004
Talking Point of the Moment
(I think I might have first read this idea in Mark Kingwell's In Pursuit of Happiness: Better Living from Plato to Prozac)

Here's a question that came up last night, at the meeting of my UU church "covenant group" -- if you could take a pill or have some kind of procedure that was guaranteed to make you happy but also made you dumb, would you do it? I think that most people want to be happy, but it's almost like they want to be the "right kind" of happy, that there's a sort of meta-unhappiness that we have to deal with now that even if we believed our future self would be too happy to give a dang about makes the whole deal unacceptable. Or maybe people are concerned about how it would affect their families and loved ones, or that they might not be productive, and that makes them meta-unhappy now.

Of course, I've heard of a cynical survey result that a lot of people, especially women, would decline a pill that made them smarter but made their butts bigger.

Let me know what you think. What's more important, smarts or happiness, or do you reject the proposition and think the two are inseperable for you. (Which I think is a bit optimistic.) (Wait, I haven't asked this before, have I? Couldn't find it in the archive.)

i can see right through you

(4 comments)
December 9, 2004
Image and Link of the Moment
--from Skeletal Systems of cartoon characters by Michael Pallus... macabre and cool, but I think I saw the basic idea in MAD magazine back in the day.

Dude of the Moment
The cultural linguistics of "Dude". Basically, it's a way for males to achieve "cool solidarity"--close, but not too close.

I find this kind of stuff fascinating. I noticed some of the guys from India at work are a bit more touchy feely than American guys tend to be. One of them, actually a half-Indian, half-Kuwaiti guy named Noor thought it was actually because there was more segregation of the genders when they're growing up, so (at least for heterosexuals) physical contact doesn't have as much of a possible sexual charge. Interesting theory...I do think American males are way too uptight about someone thinking they might be gay.

You know, stupid footnote, I kind of miss Mo say "Oh, dudely!" to express a startled admiration for something.

medieval times...of the FUTURE

(4 comments)
December 10, 2004
Web Comic of the Moment
Building an artificial intelligence that appreciates Mozart is easy... building AI that appreciates a theme restaurant is the real challenge.
--Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life is a webcomic about two robots in a solar system after humanity has passed. Over all I thought it was just pretty good, with strange scrolling, but I really like the explanation of the setting of humanity ending and why robots are doing what they're doing. The clipping comes from this comic explaining why robots eat.

News Snippet of the Moment
He later told Brey that he planned to sue Pantera for stealing his identity. Brey and friend Dave Johnson said Gale's behavior frightened them and they distanced themselves from him several years ago. But other friends said they never considered Gale capable of violence. [...] On Wednesday night, the 25-year-old former Marine charged the stage at a show by Abbott's new band, Damageplan, and gunned down four people including Abbott before a policeman fatally shot him.
--ABCnews Story. I have as much respect for the marines as the next guy, and I do believe Gale is an aberration. BUT... aren't Marines capable of violence, kind of by definition?

this is spinal tapped

(3 comments)
December 11, 2004
Quote of the Moment
A spine is a long bone that goes down your back. Your head sits on one end, and you sit on the other.
--Alleged actual quote from a student's paper, collected by Richard Lenderer.

Newsline of the Moment
Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had telegraphed weakness by asking, " 'What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah [stuff]," he said. "They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.' We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe.
--from a Boston Globe Article..."[stuff]", huh? It's an intriguing idea, though I wonder if "American" would ever be considered a tribe there, or if there's too much animosity for that...

SO MANY COATS

(3 comments)
December 12, 2004
So, apologies for the delayed and minimalistic update today. Many thanks to Jim, Sam, and Andy, as we all helped out with the Salvation Army coat drive, downtown...afterwards, I heard estimates were that we helped move and sort 20,000 coats...that might be a high estimate, but still, we're talking many, many, many heavy coats.

Tonight I'll dream of winter wear.

Design Commentary of the Moment

--No matter how you feel about the guy, Bush had a much better desgined poster than Kerry did...Before & After magazine has a detailed study on how they stack up. Bush's kind of reminds me of this bit from a Douglas Adams book, where a character talks about how another character "Howard Bell" (an obvious knock off of Steven King) had the perfect shlock author name, because you could print it at the top of the cover, above the title, with the first name over the last name, and the last name in REALLY big letters.

Quote of the Moment
"Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot."
--D. H. Lawrence

o how size matters

(21 comments)
December 13, 2004
So I was probably a bit remiss, or at least out of character, in not talking about the latest addition to my consumer electronic life, an InFocus ScreenPlay 4800 video projector. An early holiday gift to myself. It replaced the old 36" Buddha TV, which I sold to Sawers for a song. I went for a bundled deal at CostCo, that came with a seperate screen to project onto, though in retrospect that might've been a mistake, because I didn't fully research it (though it ended up being a solid choice) and the screen it came with, one of those roll-out pulldown jobbies, is too small...they cheaped out and made it so it only rolls down so the whole thing is 16:9 "widescreen" format, but of course a lot of what I do (video games and, more rarely, watching TV) is standard 4:3. So here's what it looks like, you can see for now I often let the picture 'bleed' off of the top and bottom of the screen...

It's probably hard to judge from that photo, but the image is pretty dang big...much bigger than any flat panel or regular TV I could hope to afford, and unlike the TV it replaced, the projector doesn't outweigh me, all for...I dunno, $1200 maybe? Plus the too many cables I let Evil Bastard (who was a great help in the whole shopping and installation process) talk me into.

Also, I decided to buy a stereo receiver rather than juy rigging some frankenstereo. This is what my A/V stack of receiver, DVD, VCR (mostly need because I don't have a cable box) and projector looks like, along side my big comfy chair:

You know, I have mixed feelings about that stereo receiver. It's fancy enough that the volume control is "virtual"...turning the physical knob makes the volume readout change, but it's annoying because you can't just give it a quick twist to turn it all the way down, and in general you have to turn it too much to affect major changes. Also, it gives you the "true" volume reading in dB, which is extra annoying, since that's a negative number that unintuitively looks like it gets smaller as the volume increases. Way too much audiophile wankery for my taste, or for the recycled speakers I'm using with it.

So there are some drawbacks, but if you have a long enough room (you need maybe 12-14 feet from the projector to the screen) that you can make dark you can get a great big picture for relatively cheap. FoSO mentioned that someone they know conducted some tests, and Tyvek (a building material) reflects a big percentage of the light, so you can get a decent picture by stretching Tyvek over a wooden frame. I might try that if I continue to be annoyed by the current screen not making good use of the available wallspace.

So I guess those are three not-too-too expensive electronic luxuries (under $1K for each, if you're frugal) I'd recommend to anyone: a video projector, an car GPS navigation system, and a small laptop for the living room (and a now-dirt-cheap wireless network to run it on.) These are along the neccesities of electronic life, all of which can be had for like $100 each: a palm pilot, a digital camera, and a cellphone.

Product Imitates Imagination of the Moment
Weird...just the other day I was thinking about chastity belts (and how much they might chafe) when I had the idea that the whole "WWJD"/abstinence-only teen movement should make up special chastity panties with a symbolic lock and key imprinted on them. I even came up with the perfect name for them: "Undies for Fundies". It turns out the product basically exists, available at Target at Blue Q Chastity Underwear. (I guess there's a small chance I heard about these earlier and forgot about 'em, but as far as I remember I was really just mentally riffing on old school chastity belts.)

that's dedication

(5 comments)
December 14, 2004
Dedication of the Moment
To the most precious and adored things in my life: Jonathan and Peter. If I can leave you nothing else, at least let me leave you the dedication in this book.

Oh and, incidentally, the way things are going I probably will be leaving you nothing else, okay? Bite the bullet, lads.

--Mil Millington, dedication to "A Certain Chemistry". He's the guy who made the still very funny Things My Girlfriend and I have Argued About page, and now he's written two funny novels as well.

Note To Self of the Moment
Self: your first initial is K. K is also the first initial of your girlfriend. Plus, there are a bajillion other things in your life that "K" could stand for. Therefore, if you are going to write a remind on your hand to remember to bring the Karaoke stuff for the company party, you might want to write something more than just that letter.

hair today gone tomorrow

(4 comments)
December 15, 2004
Science of the Moment
"Men tend to have squarer jaws than women, and they shave to highlight this. If so, this would explain the trend for emphasising the edge of the jawline with a fringe of hair. But moustaches are a mystery, to evolutionary biologists and to practically everyone else."
--The Economist on The bare truth: "Why are humans nearly hairless? And why do some wish to become more so?".
Like the article mentions, we ARE pretty hungup on hair, especially in this country. There are so many places we don't want it, but if a guy starts losing the stuff on his head, watch out. The article mentions 3 interesting theories: my favorite (if not neccesarily the most likely) is the "aquatic ape" idea, the "parasite load" one is ok too, the "it's too hot" is just too mundane. And then there's always the chance that it's just a weird sexual selection thing.


Pastime of the Moment
(Warning, some there might be some pornographic thumbnail images linked to here, depending on your settings at Google) images.google.com provides a great way to burn time in tiny little portions, without too much risk of being sucked in for hours... I just think of random things to type in and see what images there are associated with them...of course, if you turn of "SafeSearch" it's surprising just how many keywords lead to porn.

And then you can think of metagames to play with this...like, find out which ex-girlfriends' first names have the best image selection...for me, some are hot, and then some are not.

Of course, there's always the Random Personal Picture Finder(tm) from diddly.com -- it uses the fact that many people don't bother renaming photos from whatever name/number the camera comes up with before dumping them to the web to come up with big semi-random selections of snapshots.

karaokroaking

(5 comments)
December 16, 2004
Company party today...kind of a low-budget affair this year, just for the development team, sometimes they have a larger all-company bash in February or so.

I dragged in the semi-pro karaoke machine I have, along with the pretty big collection of karaoke CDs (around 114). Makes me a little melancholy, getting the karaoke machine was one of the last big projects Mo and I collaborated on...she typed in all the track titles, I made some small computer programs to sort and organize them, by artist then by song, so we could printout the "menus". Between that and the some old party mix CDs I reconstituted, "just in case", that remind me of the old parties we used to throw...sigh.

People who aren't easily offended and slightly hip to Japanese trends should check out this Lore Brand Comic. Of course, I think most of the people who will get the joke are probably the same type who won't be offended by it...

Funny of the Moment
"warning: in case of rapture, this car will be swerving like hell to avoid all the empty cars."
--NickB on AIM last night.

Spin Doctoring of the Moment
Lehner disputed the suggestion that the exercise had failed, saying it simply was not completed.

"We weren't able to complete the test that we had planned," Lehner said. "I definitely wouldn't categorize it as a setback of any kind. The test had been planned for a while so it's a disappointment for those of us who were working on it. We will isolate the anomaly and fix it."
--Richard Lehner, spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, in this LA Time article. That's great. Can "We weren't able to complete the test that we had planned" be parlayed into "We weren't able to shoot down the Korean missile that we had hoped to"?

Missile Defence is such a quixotic thing. I've heard it sayed that Reagan's "USSR's Panic over 'Star Wars' Defense Killed It" has been way overstated; they knew that it was going to be much easier to crank up the offense (lots of missiles, lots of decoys) than to make a defense that could handle it.

What keeps us safe from any missile launch we could then track is our ability to respond in kind with devastating effect. What these programs completely miss, and where the money would be better spent in homeland defense, is the truck nuke shipped in to one of our port cities.


when life gives you nazis, make lemonade

(5 comments)
December 17, 2004
Random Quote of the Moment
"Come on, Hitler, I'll buy you a glass of lemonade."
--from the movie "Max", "the risible portrait of the young Hitler as a second-rate artist", quoted via David Edelstein in this oddly rambling Slate movie review thing.

Sick Sad World of the Moment
"The U.S. state of Missouri has warned authorities to be on the alert after a fetus was cut from the womb of a homicide victim in the town of Skidmore, the Nodaway County Sheriff's Department has said."
--CNN.com news article. Ugh. The article makes it sound like a kind of bizarre homebrew Caesarean Section/homicide. Also there was some local coverage including the sheriff's quote "Someone was wanting a baby awful bad."

Ponder of the Moment
What makes a website look professional? I realize that there is a certain corporate "look" that tends to express "this is a serious organization" and I can't quite put my finger on what it is.

For example, I'm working with a friend of Ksenia's who runs an interesting balloon artwork company (and btw...trying to find a way of explaining what that is, as opposed to little twisty balloon animals, is a tremendous challenge.) He's not crazy about his site, it's not bad but it looks a little amateurish, and not very corporate. In contrast, he had us click over to this site, comissioned by a woman he knows. Now that site isn't perfect, but I know what he means...it seems "professional". It's frustrating for me, because I know this professionalism when I see it, but have a hard time knowing exactly what "it" is. Some ideas:
  • Use of space...often this means using a fixed-width table and really filling the space well.
  • Use of frames and boxes...amateurish sites tend to just have text flowing everywhere. Lots of professional sites use sub-boxes to modularize the page, often with little rounded-corner or triangularized title bars.
  • Use of sans-serif fonts -- a little detail, but I think many amateur sites just let the default "Times New Roman" remain, and that seperates the sheep from the goats.
My own sites are pretty hit or miss. The old Love Blender Digest design wasn't bad for its 1998 heritage, but violated the first rule. The current layout, designed with help from Lupschada, isn't quite "fixed width" but makes better use of the space, and follows the second principle of boxes and the third principle of a sans-serif font. This site follows all three principles to some extent, except for the main text. Ksenia thinks the soon-to-be-retired Alien Bill frontpage is some nice design work, but it's more artsy-fartsy than professional. (Heh, come to think of it, it follows all 3 principles pretty well, but I think its use of color and big images takes it out of the "serious site" column.)

Any thoughts or other ideas about gimmicks are appreciated. (heh, like judicious use of happy smiling corporate people clip art photos...) I have a sneaking suspicion that while great as opposed to good web design might be a better of training and highly polished aesthetic sense, the difference between good and bad is more one of a small bag of tricks...

short people

(11 comments)
December 18, 2004
Ramble of the Moment
Alright, this might fall under the category of "too much information", not that that's ever stopped me before...

I've noticed an odd change in what I find inherently physically appealling in women. I mean, I think most everyone has their "type"...not that they don't recongize the beauty of people not matching that type, but anyone they meet who fits the category gets kind of a "bonus" in how attractive they seem. Like guys who say they go for "leggy blonds". And for the longest time for me it was short, compact women who would get that boost.

But not so much lately. Probably not coincidentally, around since a month or so after starting to go out with Ksenia, who has a nice long lean look. So I wonder about the chicken and egg nature of this. Though the appeal of women who might be said to fit Ksenia's type isn't as pronounced as my previous attraction to compact women. But a majority of my fun relationships from half way through high school to...well, Mo...were with women who could be considered short. So maybe that explains it, that being with someone who I find attractive in many ways has an influence on what I find physically appealing in the outside world.

Eh, who knows. Warning: this ramble gets worse. The squeamish or prudish may want to skip to the cute little doggie picture below.

In other news...I'm trying to think of an equivalent of the metaphor for "shot my load", one that I can actually use in polite conversation. I mean, it's a useful concept; I want to say how I kind of "shot my load" in terms of thougtful gifts for Ksenia because her birthday was in November, and now Christmas is coming up. But of course I can't say that without being really offensive. Anyone know of an equivalent metaphor, the idea of using up all your resources so now you don't have any left?

Image of the Moment
--A dog with large ears from cellar.org's Image of the Day.

an irreducible integral of despond

(4 comments)
December 19, 2004
Fantasia of the Moment
Last night I did a Fourier transform on my attitude and wound up with an irreducible integral of despond. What was I to do. I thought long and hard. At last, I decided it would be worthwhile to find the eigenvector of my own ennui. Just as I started arranging my matrices on the page, though, I found an imaginary number jammed in among the memories of my childhood. Squared it, and found the square was negative, as I pretty much knew it must be. Cancelling this negative from both sides of the equation left me with a transcendental number, neither e nor pi, somewhere at the periphery of my imagination.

Contracted my imagination to a point, ran the number through a couple trigonometric polynomials until I arrived at unity. A couple sharp, upward pulls, right at the beginning, and I had acheived Unity.

Now I am larger than life, as anyone would be.

{BTW, did you know that e to the (pi * i)th power equals -1? [e^(pi*i)=-1] That's weirdness so big it realy is larger than Life.}

--Arakasi responding to this Sawer's LJ entry. Which reminds me...sidebar people! Write something!

fridge id

(6 comments)
December 20, 2004
Toy of the Movement
Heh...collaborative (or competitive) virtual fridge magnets...not the poetry that was oh-so-cool in the 90s, the old school colorful letters. Nifty!

Poem of the Moment
Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going --
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.
--Kozan Ichikyo, on the morning of his death (February 12, 1360, at the age of 77.) From this old Salon article on Japanese Death Poems.

Query of the Moment
Does anyone have any idea where the phrase "Let's blow this popsicle stand!" comes from? It seems so oddly specific...

phinished?

(5 comments)
December 21, 2004
Yeesh, the 11-2 2-11 (duhhr, thanks Eric) Dolphins beat the 12-1 Pats? Ah well. Maybe a dose of reality will be good for this team in the playoffs.

Image of the Moment
--"McDonald's" from the floating logos project...tall franchise signs with the poles digitally removed, leaving the billboards eerily floating above...


Mashup of the Moment
Meet the Beastles...a mashup of two of my perennial favorites, the Beatles and the Beastie Boys...

Editorials of the Moment
"What 'I' get to do, as president, is make promises that I know perfectly well can never be kept, and then to make Congress break those promises for me. I don't have to change 'the principles I believe in' because I know more responsible people in the government will violate them and take the blame.

Those 'principles,' then, are really nothing more than the narcissism of a spoiled child."
--Slate really rips into Bush's last press conference...was it as bad as all that? Should our Commander-in-Chiefs new motto be the buck stops over there, so don't ask me? And is his "strong leadership" just trying to make others make the difficult decisions? What a lame figurehead.

acid reflex disease

(11 comments)
December 22, 2004
Hey, congratulations to "Evil Bastard" (He's not so evil, as far as I can tell, though he is a figurative bastard when it comes to certain Nintendo games) who just got himself a job after a somewhat-prolonged bout of unemployment. He doesn't start the new gig 'til after the new year, so finaly he can really enjoy not working rather than sweating it. Ya know...in the "be careful what you wish for department"...I really wish I had like a month or two off. Between dating, a bit of church involvement...I don't know, but it feels like I have so much fewer free weeknights than I used to. It seems like every evening is either with Ksenia, or maybe with E.B. and his wife, (though I end up blowning stuff off with him too often...FoSO and Sawers, I'm lookin' at you.) or some scheduled thing, church or family. I neglect my other friends, and in general I feel seriously strained timewise. So a month or two off, try to catch up, tacklet like 3 or 4 projects I have in mind...but if it was because of unemployment I'm sure I'd be too neurotic to enjoy it.

Game of the Moment
Decent little oldschool puzzle game RefleX. Click on the panels to adjust the course of the ball to collect all the tokens and then hit the goal.

News Headline of the Moment
"Up to a foot of snow is possible in parts of Indiana and Ohio today as a storm spreads into the region. Motorists already are sliding off roads."
--CNN.com writeup for Huge band of snow stretches across U.S.. I just thought it was a strikingly folksy way of writing an article summary.

nopurchaseneccesary offervoidwhereprohibited

(13 comments)
December 23, 2004
I can't decide whether to be amused or annoyed by the increasing use of voice speedup technologies in radio advertisements, jamming together disclaimers and contest rules, digitally removing pauses and otherwise speeding up the voice without making it sound like a chipmunk. Actually, whenever I hear that I always have this urge (which I often act on, as long as I'm alone in the car) to respond with a babbling stream of nonsense of my own.

Videos of the Moment
Mega64 has some amusing realworld video game reenacments, kind of like Trigger Happy TV on Comedy Central, but with video games. Check out the one called "Trailer" for a sample...some of them only gamers will understand, but I really loved "Tetris", how the L block wants to settle in to various objects.

Scary News of the Moment
Oy...the real key to global warming becoming an "extinction level event" might be a chain reaction as
methane frozen into the Arctic tundra gets unlocked by global warming, thus causing...more global warming. It's happened before a long while back:
More than 94 percent of the marine species present in the fossil record disappeared suddenly as oxygen levels plummeted and life teetered on the verge of extinction. Over the ensuing 500,000 years, a few species struggled to gain a foothold in the hostile environment. It took 20 million to 30 million years for even rudimentary coral reefs to re-establish themselves and for forests to regrow. In some areas, it took more than 100 million years for ecosystems to reach their former healthy diversity.
And supposedly our CO2 emissions might be kind of like the volcano eruptions that happened before, and we could see this happen over the next 100 years or less. So skeptics, whaddya say to this? Something reassuring I hope. I do think that people warning about this should use another term than "methane burps", which is different than the more mild threat posed by cow "methane farts", and also different from another phenomenon that happens around water. (thanks, I think, Bill)

You know, I used to read about "terraforming" other planets, making them human-inhatible through massive engineering projects. Scary to think that we might have to try something like that, in real time, on our own world...I don't know if our smarts, willpower, and technology base is up to it.

one fish two fish red fish beer fish

December 24, 2004
So one thing I learned is that Russians like having dried fish with their beer, but then I find out that's not unique to Russia. A lot of cultures enjoy that combination, but I hadn't heard of it before. So on a whim I bought some "salmon fillet jerky" from Trader Joe's, and then yesterday the only beverage I had in the house was some Sam Adams Lite. And the two were very good together. In fact, in a very striking way, it evoked some sense memories of the Jersey Shore, the salty marshy smell, and something more I couldn't quite put my finger on. But in a pleasant way. I wonder if that would happen with most beers, or if other people made the same association.

Christmas Card of the Moment
A Christmas Card for you...handcrafted by me thanks to the fine folk at zefrank. (A lot of cool stuff on that site, I keep meaning to go through it and blog the place properly.)

and a happy new year

(7 comments)
December 25, 2004
M E R R Y
C H R I S T M A S !

holiday photo parade

(5 comments)
December 26, 2004


(I love prophecies with expiration dates.)


(Ksenia (right) and her friend Tonya in Tonya's kitchen. I don't know why the hat either)


(Mama Mia working out chords on her trusty accordian)


(O Christmas Tree! And lots of presents.)


(I guess Ksenia just has a thing for hats.)

snowstormyweather

(4 comments)
December 27, 2004
So, anyone got any cool holiday stories?

Ugh...in retrospect, that's a pretty inane comment, given those horrendous tsunamis in Indonesia...

Game of the Moment
Excellent adicting and challenging flash game...Moebius Syndrome...just click to rotate straight pieces and corner pieces to form loops before the board fills up too much. Good learning curve in this game, at least for the first games (which honestly is as far as I got.)

Poetry of the Moment
I have been Roland, Beowulf, Achilles, Gilgamesh.
I have been called a hundred names and will be called a
thousand more before the world goes dim and cold.
I am hero. She has been nameless since our birth,
a constant adversary caring for nothing but my ruin,
a sword drenched in my blood forever, my greatest and
only love. She is the dark. O Lethe, enemy and lover, without
whom my very existence would be pathetic and vulgar!
Our relationship is complex and perhaps eternal.
We met once in the garden at the beginning of the world
and, unaware of our twin destinies, we matched stares
across a dry fountain. And I recall her smiling at me before
she devoured the lawn and trees with a translucent blue flame
and tore flagstones from the path and hurled them into the
sky, screaming my sins. I powder a granite monument in a
soundless flash, showering the grass with molten drops of
its gold inlay, sending smoking chips of stone
skipping into the fog. She splinters an ancient oak
with a force that takes my breath and hurls me to the ground.
She lea%!CONNECTION TERMINATED
--Slashdot had an article on the 10th Anniversary of Marathon, a game that is the ancestor of Halo on the Xbox. I missed out on what is considered a terrific and deeper-than-DOOM adventure because I've never been much of a Mac user. Anyway, that article linked to this page covering connections between Halo and Marathon, which in turn led to this page on a message on a computer terminal in the game...though in the game, there are no spaces or puncuation, so this is the easy-reading version.

in-deep-end-dance

(17 comments)
December 28, 2004
Things have hit kind of a rough patch with me and Ksenia. I'm not sure what the future's going to look like for us. I still have hopes and know there's a ton of potential there, but it was a tough extended weekend.

But anyway.

Even before the rough patch I had been thinking about what Issues I have with relationships. I think one of the biggest is that I have a serious aversion to dependence. I don't want to be dependent on someone else, and I don't want someone to be dependent on me, even though I work to be a very reliable person relationship-wise.

It seems like this is a barrier to intimacy, though my "rational" self doesn't think that it should be; my ideal model for a relationship has always been two strong people, sharing and cooperating on important issues, meeting many each other's emotional and physical and spiritual and financial wants and needs. Maybe it's odd that I can draw a distinction between meeting each other's "needs" but still not being dependent; I guess I have this idea that two people should be strong enough to be on their own if it came to that, and that that's good because it means a relationship is a choice, not some kind of forced neccesity.

Of course, I have no evidence that this is a viable model for romance. It's probably what I fell into with Mo, and it wasn't enough for her, though she wasn't able to put that feeling into words soon enough to possibly make a difference and adjust our heading before hitting the rocks.

And I would imagine this dislike of dependence extends to other relationships as well, friendships and how I deal with my relatives. Maybe it's why I tend to feel a bit squirmish about the pretty normal verbal reminders of affection from my mom or aunt. And saying "I love you" in the context of a romance doesn't seem natural for me. (And looking back at an old loveblender essay I see that that's been a problem for a while, though my thinking about that has changed in the six years since.) To me, saying "those three little words" can seem too much like...I dunno, like you're saying "I'm dependent on you" or "I want you to be dependent on me" or both. Though Evil B. brought up a good point, that sometimes it's not (just) a reminder to the people hearing it, it can be a reminder for the person speaking it as well...

I still think it's useful to figure out where this comes from, if only to figure out what I should do with it, try to accept it and work within its parameters, or if it's something I should try and "grow out of". The usual "culprit", of course, is the death of my dad when I was 14. Sometimes I wonder if that's the real trauma that has shaped so much of my emotional landscape, or just a kind of catchall excuse. Possibly some of my previous failed relationships? The German gal heading back home after the high school summer, the one I pursued in college, a big carousel of romance that finally stopped, or even the drinkin' buddy friendship that got parlayed into a (finally failed) marriage.

Maybe my outlook is not as uncommon or weird or possibly unhealthy as I fear, maybe there are other people out there looking for the same kind of "secure base" relationship that I think is best...the secure base that lets both people find balance and support, a relationship that's important for what it is itself and for how it lets you move forward in the outside world. But my fear has to be is that isn't the way hearts and minds really work, that you can't build a permanent relationship within the boundaries that non-Interdepdence is going to imply.

Feedback welcome, especially from people who know me "in real life".

rock 'em sock 'em

(1 comment)
December 29, 2004
Thanks for all the feedback yesterday. I really appreciate it... more later.

Toy Review Excerpt of the Moment
ROCK 'EM SOCK 'EM ROBOTS
The Americans sure knew how to name toys. We, to be honest, didn't. So, while this boxing automaton chestnut went under one of the best names for any game, or indeed any thing, ever, in the States, the rather rarer British version was renamed... Raving Bonkers Fighting Robots.
--from this terrific Top 100 Toys You Really Wanted To Own, about toys kids in England had or wanted to have. Interesting to see what they got vs. what we grew up with. The descriptions are detailed and pull no punches about great or ultimately stupid any given toy was. The main TV Cream site has more of the same about different lost bits of British popular culture.

Weird News of the Moment
Under things you'd kind of hope to see on the "Weekly World News" or some other tabloid with lots of made up stories: Woman Gives Birth To Own Grandchildren...triplets, in fact, for her own daughter who was unable to conceive. Not quite "I'm my own grandpa", but getting there.

la la la la lasagna

(6 comments)
December 30, 2004
Video Game Essay of the Moment
Hello,and welcome to my Atari Philosiphy.Sorry for the bad spelling.
Today's is about Mangia by Spectravision.This game brings up the fact that even though we live in America,there are people of different cultures.
I hope you liked this collumn
--213ed on this AtariAge post, just a lovely bit of inanity. Mangia is a very rare Atari game, where a mother (presumably Italian) keeps bringing food and you have to keep getting rid of it, either by eating it (but not too much or you'll literally explode) or by passing it off to a pet.

Finance of the Moment
Slate piece on Gambler's Small Investor's Fallacies. Interesting to read about all the little bits of psychology that go into it.

Video Footage of the Moment
I had been looking around for Tsunami video footage. Scary stuff...interesting that in a lot of the videos, it's not like a giant breaking wave crashing down, just a hugely massive flood of water "gradually" getting higher and higher, with tremendous force.

Linkback of the Moment
LinkMonkey.net linked to my gamebuttons the other day. Nice to see theirthey're ("thanks", FoSO!) still getting a little attention. Pretty decent site at that, each day has kind of a theme for a small set of links.

Sadness of the Moment
MISSING PARENTS
&
2BROTHERS
KARL NILSSON
--Sign held by young boy in this photo from Thailand...his family was visiting from Sweden when the tidal wave hit.
For Christians who believe in the story of Noah and the promise of the rainbow...well, technically this ain't flooding the whole earth, but it's bad enough.

the last day of one damn year

(4 comments)
December 31, 2004
Wow...it seems hard to believe that this is the last day of 2004. And that this decade is half over already. Actually, given how much the cultural scene has been dominated by 9/11 (and to think a few years before that I assumed it would be dominated by Y2K...) -- and the way 2002 and 2003 kind of collapsed in on themselves for me -- it seems strange.

For the record, I think the best name for this decade will be "the 2000s" despite the ambiguity with the name of the century. None of the other options seem that great, either too contrived or otherwise unintuitive.

Funny of the Moment
9:30 a.m.: I meet my parents at Penn Station. My father arrives wearing a "McCain" hat, even though he's an avid Democrat, because he found it on the train. He's a Jew, but he would wear a Hitler jumpsuit if it was free.
--Rachel Feinstein, answering The Onion AV Club's "What is funny" with My parents' recent trip to visit me in New York. A timeline follows...

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