kirk.is | archive | 2005 may

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the merry merry month of may

(1 comment)
May 1, 2005
It's May Day once again! April actually seemed to last a good long while this year.

People who have been to my apartment might've seen my storage closety thing, a narrow room that's as long as my bathroom, but barely wider than the door, and the mountains of modular storage I have there (the same stuff I made a closet rack out of last year)...with great hubris, I had jokingly been refering to myself as "The King of Modular Storage" but yesterday my kingdom came raining down around me in a very "I Love Lucy" kind of way...I had been aware that a few of the "joints" had been loose and had been fixing them as I found them, but then, wouldn't you know, eventually a critical mass is reached, and the stuff collapses like dominoes.

Ah well, nothing hurt but my pride, though the ongoing effort to put it back together has set back my apartment straightening regimine quite a bit.

Essay Excerpt of the Moment
"The idea that there can be prudential compromises on issues like the right to die, or same-sex marriage, or stem-cell research is a difficult one for fundamentalists. Since there is no higher authority than God, and, since there can be no higher priority than obeying him, the entire notion of separating politics and religion is inherently troublesome to the fundamentalist mind."
--from a well-written New Republic commentary on a tension in the current Conservative powerstructure, the "Conservatism of Faith vs Conservatism of Doubt."

Wow. I must have Star Wars on the brain, because now I think of "New Republic" as "What Happens After 'Return of the Jedi'"

attention time travelers!

(3 comments)
May 2, 2005
Announcement of the Moment
Attention Time Travelers-- don't miss the Time Traveler Convention -- May 7, 2005, 10:00pm EDT (08 May 2005 02:00:00 UTC)
East Campus Courtyard, MIT
42:21:36.025°N, 71:05:16.332°W
(42.360007,-071.087870 in decimal degrees))


I love the idea of this. Though I will point out, pedant that I am, that just travelling in time isn't enough, you need something that can warp or move you through space. Unless your frame of reference is firmly tied to the Earth, you'd end up popping up in space somewhere, where the Earth used to (or possibly will) be.

Hey, "travelers" only has the one L? Who knew.

Dialog of the Moment
"All my life I've had this unaccountable feeling in my bones that something sinister was happening in the universe and that no one would tell me what it was."
"Oh, no, that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the universe has that."
"Maybe that means something: that outside universe we know some alien intelligence is..."
"Maybe. Who cares? Perhaps I'm old and tired but I always think the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, 'Hang the sense of it' and keep yourself occupied. [...] I'd far rather be happy than right any day."
"Are you?"
"No. That's where it all falls down of course."
--Arthur and Slartibartfast, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", though I'm paraphrasing a bit from the different versions.

don't know much about art

(12 comments)
May 3, 2005
Image of the Moment
--Ksenia at her school's graduation... going back to that old flat color photos technique (tutorial here) It's not quite accurate, but not too bad... I like the kind of irritated expressions of of the classmates in the background.


Exchange of the Moment
"It's this great shoe store, you have to check it out."
"Where is it?"
"You know West Newton? It's just east of West Newton."
"Err, isn't that just...'Newton'?"
--Gary and me at work yesterday

Link of the Moment
I'm sure I'd feel differently if I cared one iota about the show, but VoteForTheWorst.com, where they try to get everyone to vote for Scott Savol, far and away the worst contestant, is clever pranksterism.

old-lady rub needed

(3 comments)
May 4, 2005
Random Quote of the Moment
"excuse me, can you hand me that tub of old lady rub for me? cause im an old lady"
--sig of "trigun" on AtariAge. I have no idea if it has another meaning or if it's from somewhere or what but it gets stuck in my head, redundancy and bad puncuation and all.

Thought of the Moment
"We have a good model of a dozen or so regions of the auditory and visual cortex, how we strip images down to very low-resolution movies based on pattern recognition. Interestingly, we donít actually see things, we essentially hallucinate them in detail from what we see from these low resolution cues. Past the early phases of the visual cortex, detail doesnít reach the brain."
--Ray Kurzweil, from this great interview by author Cory Doctorow about his thoughts on the Singularity. That thought is interesting...it's probably what makes learning to draw well so hard, and what makes dreams so vivid.

nintendorable

(5 comments)
May 5, 2005
Best Ofs of the Moment
So historically (since 1993, actually) I've been keeping up with video game message boards...Usenet's "rec.games.video.classic" back in the day, and more recently the ones at AtariAge.com. One frequent type of question that comes up is "what are the best games for [INSERT SYSTEM HERE]?" I decided to finally assemble my answers to those questions in cut-and-pastable form, staring with Nintendo's four home consoles. Now, on the actual "BestOf Series" page you get descriptions about why I thought each one was so cool, but all that info wouldn't fit here.

NES SNES
Mega Man Series
Bionic Commando
Blaster Master
Metroid
SMB2
Zelda 2
Contra
Lifeforce
Solar Jetman
Micro Machines

Honorable Mentions: Smash TV / Archon / SMB3
Tetris Attack
Donkey Kong Country
Super Metroid
MicroMachines
StarFox
Super Mario Kart
Super Punch-Out
Smash TV
Rampart
Super Mario All-Stars

Honorable Mentions: F-Zero / Super Mario World / Pilotwings
N64 Gamecube
Super Smash Brothers
Mario Party 1 2 3
Mario Kart 64
Diddy Kong Racing
Battle Tanx / Battle Tanx: Global Assault
Rogue Squadron
StarFox 64
Pokemon Puzzle League
Space Station Silicon Valley
Blast Corps

Honorable Mentions: Super Mario 64 / Zelda: Ocarina of Time / Mario Tennis / Blitz 2000
Rogue Squadron: Rogue Leader
Super Monkey Ball 1+2
Super Smash Bros Melee
Mario Kart Double Dash
Mario Power Tennis
Pac-Man Vs
Luigi's Mansion
WarioWare, Inc
Time Splitters 2
Metroid Prime

Honorable Mentions: StarFox: Armada / Zelda: The Wind Waker / Super Mario Sunshine


Article of the Moment
Clever Slate piece pointing out that Wikipedia, that online "anyone can contribute" encyclopedia, is essentially a real-life Hitchhiker's Guide: huge, nerdy, and imprecise. (Especially that bit where the Guide is edited by "any passing stranger who happened to wander into the empty offices on an afternoon and saw something worth doing.")

I'm not deeply into Wiki-culture, but sometimes when I want a subjective overview of a topic I'll put in "wikipedia" as a Google search term. (Maybe there's a more effecient way of searching Wikispace? I don't have a grasp of how things are setup in practice, if there's one Wikipedia or may or what.)

ballet, jazz, and lap

(5 comments)
May 6, 2005
So last night Ksenia and I got to use some tickets to the Boston Ballet's production of "The Sleeping Beauty" that my Aunt and Uncle decided not to use. A few observations on ballet:

1. The show was more poorly attended than I would have guessed... I'm not sure if that's because it was opening night, and a Thursday, or if ballet is just losing out in popularity, but the place was half empty, and we were easily able to upgrade our seats on the mezzanine.

2. For all its strength and gracefulness (and I'm sure I'm badly underestimating how difficult of most of it) ballet has a large amount of somewhat clunky looking moments and poses to set up the graceful ones.

3. A few times one of the ballerinas had serious problems with squeaky shoes. That made me giggle. Plus, there were times when the clatter of feet of a group of dancers sounded like a stampede.

4. Ballet is kind of funny, it's such a set ritual and tradition...I should look into the history of it. I can see why so many little girls aspire to it, how the whole places focuses on the one lady in the lovely outfit as she dances gracefully, but I also get the sense it's a hell of a tough calling. (At my mom's old job, they split a cafeteria with a ballet school...it was kind of weird seeing all those ballerinas-in-training, with that distinctive look and styled hair, en masse. I didn't notice if their eating habits were notably light.)

Anyway, I made a joke that I thought was really funny, but pretty obscure, and unfortunately the photo of the mural that sets it up is too tough to see...but I tried to figure out who the rightmost figure reminded me of, an athletic body in an oddly modern-sports-gear looking outfit, but with a 40s/50s woman's "power haircut"...and I realized...my gosh, this is a mural from the Church of Ayn Rand!

Ha ha, get it? Ayn Rand? See, like so idealized, but with that hair...ha!

Sigh. I guess you have to see it for yourself...it's above the left side of the mezzanine of The Wang Theater.

(Incidentally, The Wang Theater is just a goofy name on two levels, the obvious sexual joke, and it's such a modern name for a place with almost over-the-top gilded columns and artwork.)

plane jane

May 7, 2005
Dream Quote of the Moment
"You could put nature on the back of those planes that never needs to land for refueling, and raise a child there. That child would learn to live with a stricter set of rules than one raised on earth."
--An aside from a dream I had this morning.

Videos of the Moment
More of the best (in my opinion) of big boy...Air Force Academy student films his wacky dancin' roommate (who seems pretty good spirited about the whole thing.) His dancing kind of reminds me of that old guy in the Six Flags commercial. Also interesting, the Elephant in the Restaurant reminds me of the old "Bull in a China Shop" metaphor, and View from inside an F18 has some good music, but it goes on for a bit. And why are those things always shot facing the pilot? I'd like to see something closer to the pilot's POV for a change.

i've frequently not been on boats

(13 comments)
May 8, 2005
Exchange of the Moment
"Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?"
"No, no, no... Death is 'not.' Death isn't. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not be on a boat."
"I've frequently not been on boats."
"No, no... What you've been is not on boats."
--Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Finally that got released on DVD, watched with FoSO and SOoFoSo..."I've frequently not been on boats" has been on my mind ever since.

when plastic brick dinosaurs ruled the earth lunchtable

(6 comments)
May 9, 2005
Construction of the Moment

--At the developer's room lunchtable, I have a chunk of the bricks from a Lego advent calendar, plus some from a mini-Star Destroyer kit. Lately I've been enjoying making small dinosaur lizard things...

Provocative Science of the Moment
A semi-scholary study on Why Women Evolved Breasts. One crackpot theory I've heard (but the article doesn't mention) is that bosoms evolved to resemble women's bottoms to facilitate face to face mating, as opposed to rear entry...but the supposed evolutionary advantage of the former escapes me at the moment.

adventures in photo printing

(11 comments)
May 10, 2005
My mom asked for full printout of me on Mt. Monadnock so I decided a nicely framed version would be a good Mother's Day Gift. It turned out to be slightly more difficult than I expected to get good print made.

For starters, there's the dimensions/ratio issue. Most of my digital cameras use the same ratio as a computer monitor, 4:3 (640x480 is the most famous value for that ratio, my current camera shoots 1600x1200.) However, most frames and digital printing options go for other ratios like 4x6 or 5x7. I'd rather do the needed cropping myself, rather than leave it to the tender mercies of the person behind the counter or some computer program. The math for that was pretty simple, but annoying to do for different ratios, so I decided to make a little toy to do it for me in the future, an online photo-cropping calculator, rather than repeat the process in the future:

Crop-Sharer
Enter Original Photo Size:
by

Enter Desired Ratio:
by



(Let me know if you have any suggestions for the default digital photo dimensions or the desired ratios...)

So the sizing issue out of the way, getting good printouts was more of a problem than I expected. At first I got the help of my Uncle...they have a photo printer they didn't mind sharing. He mostly had 4x6 stock, which was fine, except his printer couldn't do edge to edge at that size, it left a centimeter or two of border on one side. (Also it would give 3/4 of the way through printing that GIF of Ksenia until my Uncle converted it to a JPG.)

So that border was really bugging me, and also I found a frame that needed a 5x7 printout. I decided to go to Staples...I made a properly cropped version for 5x7 as well as resizing it with a border adding up to 8.5x11. I asked the lady which she wanted to try to print...she guessed the 8.5x11 version, but that didn't work because the print auto-scaled the whole thing down, probably it had to add its own border. They didn't charge me for the mistake though and then she used their software to scale the 5x7 version to just the right size. The result was not too bad but the color transitions weren't as good as on my Uncle's. (One note about Staples, though...later I wanted to help Ksenia print out a CorelDraw file, and the guy couldn't tell me over the phone if they could read it...and that they'd charge us money just for trying. So some of my good feelings about the place were swept away.)

Eventually I changed my mind about the frame and needed a 4x6 print again...this was Sunday morning, and Ksenia needed her file printed (CorelDraw but we dumped it to JPG) so we went to the 24-hours Kinko's at Harvard Square. That worked out pretty well, it's a bit more DIY, but it was a cheap place to get an 11x17 printout. (You have to ask for help selecing the right printer tray, however) I made some 4x6 copies, laying out the page in Word. Then I also decided to try a self-serve color photo machine they had there, which was really cheap, like 60 cents. That probably would have been the #1 way to get a 4x6 printout, except on this particular machine the colors were a bit washed out. (I know I'm old fashioned, but for some reason I kind of distrust these machines and their ability to read straight from a CD I've burnt, or a memory card...I keep wondering what happens if the photos are in subfolders, or if there's some other weird data problem.)

So I guess I would suggest going to Kinko's over Staples, just bring a CD with your stuff. Though I'm getting an idea to just do 8.5x11 photo printouts on my cheap color HP, and thumbtacking them up...I kind of like the idea of how now that I'm digital, I don't have to treat the prints with nearly as much respect, they're easy to replace if something happens without hunting for a negative.

how'd you get go funky? did you do the monkey?

(7 comments)
May 11, 2005
Historical Reconstruction of the Moment
--CNN reports that Scans reveal Tutankhamun's face. Kind of creepy! I like the eyeliner. Hmmm... "chubby cheeks", "overbite", "weak chin", "pronounced, sloping nose", "elongated scalp"...maybe I'm related!


monthopause

(3 comments)
May 12, 2005
News Blurb of the Moment
Small news item: Birth Month Could Determine When Menopause Hits. It reminds me that lately I've been thinking there might be a little something to astrology, though not for the reasons generally given. It doesn't seem completely unlikely that seasonal differences during pregnancy -- nutrition, light, temperature, etc -- could have an effect on people's discernable traits later on. (Which means potentially you might be able to virtually change your baby's sign with careful application of diet and sunlamps!)

I've been trying to curb my rampant skepticism lately, though without believing every fool idea to come down the pike. And things that seem to work empirically carry a lot of weight, though there's always the risk of being fooled by a placebo effect...

illusion/elusion

(21 comments)
May 13, 2005
So the other day my Tufts alumni connection brought be some disturbing news. No, not that they had possibly been hacked and all my personal information they have on me was at risk -- worse. A guy named Kirk Jalbert was having his MFA thesis exhibition at Tufts' Aidekman Gallery, and it had an Atari theme. The implication was, for me, enormous: not only might I not be the biggest source of Atari 2600 mojo to come from Tufts University, I might not even be the biggest source of Atari 2600 mojo to come from Tufts University named Kirk. Troubling indeed, and further investigation was in order.

Kirk Jalbert's piece is named Illusion/Elusion and the description is as follows:
Why do outdated technologies proliferate in mainstream culture? As a member of the first generation of virtual-capable human beings, my body has grown proprioceptively comfortable with its on-screen counterpart. Interactive experiences of the past, once difficult, are now navigated with ease. Physical and mental reference points have been created. We have evolved, yet still return to earlier virtual experiences sometimes bent by the interference of distorted memory. Illusion/Elusion is an exploration of these nostalgic fascinations through elementary interactions with an Atari2600-based system.
Phew, quite a mouthful. Answers.com reports that proprioception is "The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself." Hmm, ok. "Interactive experiences of the past, once difficult, are now navigated with ease" -- interesting. At first I thought he meant that modern games are easier, but actually he means the old games are simpler than their modern-day counterparts.

Anyway, onto the work itself. (I didn't ask if it was ok to take photos or not, so I took these on the sly. Hopefully I won't get a nastygram about all this review...)


The set up at Aidekman has 3 TVs on stands on one side and then a mass of assorted, repetitious hardware (including some brightly painted Atari 2600s) attached to the nearby walls with lots of strung wire connecting it all.


Each TV has a good ol' Atari CX40 joystick, headphones, and 2 buttons (one "illusion" the other "elusion"). The TVs switch between Pitfall!, Frogger, Pac-Man, and this old black and white video from the 50s or something. The "illusion" button seems to act as a reset for the game, and the "elusion" seems to switch to the video, and also sometimes the TVs seem to switch of their own accord. The reception was really terrible on some of the TVs, it wasn't clear if this was on purpose or not.


The hardware was interesting to look at. It produced pleasing, cricket-like clicks which seemed to correspond with the switching of the TV displays.


The Ataris were brightly colored, and each had a rebadged cart in its slot. Not the sharpest looking homebrew stickers I've seen, but hey.

So, that was pretty much it. I suppose people's reaction to the work will have hinge on how they feel about modern and interactive art in general. (I generally like interactive art just so long as the viewer can actually tell that the work is responding to them and not just noodling along on its own.) Personally, I think "Art is what you can get away with", and this was reasonably interesting and visually pleasing, so I thought it was pretty good over all. On the other hand, it wasn't engrossing for that long...and of course some of the appeal was just playing a bit of Pitfall and Pac-Man, which I hadn't for a while. (And I probably have much more recently than most of the intended audience.) I suppose that ties into the theme of "technological tourism", the simple nostalgic pleasure of these old games. I think the whole 2D iconic representation of the games is a rich territory that Kirk Jalbert downplays in favor of the "it's just nostalgia" vibe. Also, the title "illusion/elusion" is pretentious as all hell...

So I give it a thumbs up. It gives me hope that someday if I ever get around to my "Myth of Sisyphus" 2600 game and make or followup a few contacts, maybe I can get some gallery time somewhere...

blurple

(8 comments)
May 14, 2005
Article of the Moment
Slate on Conservatism as a Pathology...why policies that benefit the rich, seemingly at the expense of most everyone else, get so much support from people who are definately not rich. Personally, I think it's marketing as much as anything else...thanks to the strange-bedfellows alliance between fiscal and moral conservatives, a lot of folks from the red states think "liberal" is a dirty word.

beachy keen

(5 comments)
May 15, 2005


--The shore at Lynn, MA, 2005.05.09

renaissance hack

(5 comments)
May 16, 2005
Quote and Thought of the Moment
[On being told "Oh, you're a Renaissance hack!"] "It was a genial insult, and I had a good laugh. Actually I like the idea of being a Renaissance hack. If tombstones were still in style, I would want to have the two words chiseled right under my name. In an age of specialization people are proud to be able to do one thing well, but if that is all they know about, they are missing out on much else life has to offer."
--Dennis Flanagan, editor of Scientific American. (From a tribute in that magazine after his recent death.)

An interesting thought. And the tribute is directly across from an article about Richard Feynman's van (covered with Feynman diagrams of quantum electrodynamics...the article praises the diagrams of being exactly what Edward R. Tufte ("the da Vinci of data", according to the New York Times) liked, except I've started to think Tufte is a little over-rated. Anyway.) and if you read some of Feynamn's autobiographical stuff (or just check out the micro-tribute I made in 2001) you see he was truly a Renaissance Hack of the finest degree.

Something I've been becoming aware of lately...I don't know if this is an actual change in the Zeitgeist, the mood of my co-workers, or even just a shift in my own outlook, but it seems like the concept of "geek" is losing the admiration it seem to have during and after the dot-com-boom and regaining some of the stigma it has traditionally had.

For me, a "geek" is someone with an intense interest and expertise in a particular subject...the trouble is that sometimes that interest comes at the expense of other pursuits, especially "normal" social interactions. Geeks (and I know I can be one of 'em) had their cultural moment in the sun when they were making money hand over fist via the crazy tech economy, and I think that pushed to a wider acceptance of other associated memes, Japanese animation, cyberpunk, that kind of thing. But I think maybe now people understand the need to be more well-rounded, and the recognition that we are social beings, and sometimes geeks are just tremendous pains-in-the-ass to be around. (But of course, in a world this complex, sometimes doing interesting things requires just that amount of specialized focus.)

Of course "hack" is another loaded word...there's also the "clever trick or elaborate gag" meaning of that word, where the computer term "hacker" comes from--and famously, that's currently more often refering to people who illegaly break into systems to cause mischief, rather than the friendlier, more exploratory earlier meaning. And of course both of those meanings are differently nuanced than the usage in the original quote, where it's a classic "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of thing.

Thoughts?

quite all white

(2 comments)
May 17, 2005
Quote of the Moment
"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."
--E. B. White, via Candi's LJ. What about trying to enjoy the world via improving it? Like right now I'm improving it my trying to make the finest editor for Atari 2600 sprite graphics in the history of mankind. Admittedly, this doesn't improve the world that much, but we do what we can.

Sketch of the Moment
--BoingBoing featured the only reprint I've seen of the piano sketch by Kent's piano-playing mystery man. Whether a true mystery or an odd hoax it's a great story.


this day in kirkstory

May 18, 2005
Site Features of the Moment
So seeing Scientific American's "50, 100, 150 Years Ago" feature gave me an idea...having journaled regularly for the past 8 years and daily for over half of that, it makes sense for me to make a new feature:
retrospect -- this day in kirkstory
On a single page, I put this date's kisrael entries for 2001 'til the present in reverse chronological order, then I follow it with any KHftCEA entries (my old Palm-based journal) that are labeled with the date. (None for today, alas, though click on the arrow for tomorrow.) I started the Palm journal in 1997, so some of the stuff is really old.

I don't know if it will mean anything to anyone else, but some of the stuff the page comes up with is emotionally charged for me; just seeing how I've changed, what I've been through...how much wittier I used to be. Sometimes I miss the old Palm journal, it was really spontaneous and casual in a way this site isn't...

Also I added the shot of the shore in Lynn from the other day to my desktop wallpaper page, along with a not-quite-as-pretty shot more horizontally, so it fits a monitor better. (I should have taken more images that day...actually I think the horizontal image suffers because I was trying to get a zoomed in shot of the island.)

Oh...btw, I'm pretty proud of the 16x16 icon I made with a shrunk-down version of the "Recycle" arrows. so yay for me!

"sith! sith!" "yeth?"

(7 comments)
May 19, 2005
I'm going to see what might be the final Star Wars movie today! (And although, judging by the lack of comments, my retrospect tool didn't make much of an impression, it did tell me that it's 3 years to the day since I reported on watching "Episode 2".) Personally I do hope they do Episodes 7-9, if they're anything like some of the comics and novels set in that time it could be interesting. Maybe anticipation of what is generally regarded as a decent Star Wars flick is coloring my memory of the past two...they definitely had their problems but I don't think they deserve to be as reviled as they are. On the other hand, R2D2 with booster jets is just frickin' retarded.

Newbies can check out Slate's Outsiders Guide to Star Wars, just a glossary of all the major characters and events, and poining out that accent = "bad guy".

Photoshop of the Moment
--"beepity beep whistle CRACK splat" by Chris from a Worth1000 Star Wars contest -- most of the other entries are clever mashups with different movies but I liked this one. (You know, I *just* got why it's called "Worth1000". Duhhr.)


Site of the Moment
Heh, someone from my UU church (who teaches a class I've gone to a few times) is starting I-Do-Yoga, yoga classes designed for people soon to be married, and the people around them. Interesting idea.

whispercream

(13 comments)
May 20, 2005
So Ksenia's English still has rough patches, but sometimes it's cute...last Monday she asked me to pick up some whipped cream in a can for her grandmother's birthday dinner, except she called it "whisper cream". Which given the Shhhhhhh sound it makes when you spray it, and the general light texture it's supposed to have, is actually a much better expression than "whipped cream". Less violent at any rate.

Anyway, I don't know when was the last time I bought whipped cream, but when I jostled one of the cans they had available at the supermarket, the contents seemed (to me) to be suspiciously "liquidy". Then I tried a few more cans, and realized they all made a similar sound, and so that it was probably just what they were supposed to do untill well-shaken, and that no one would be mad at me for not getting the right stuff. And then it hit me--is it normal to be less concerned about, say, how well the party gets on with the whipped cream I bring then to not have people think I'm a bozo who doesn't know how to buy whipped cream properly? Such a strange thing to be insecure about! But I think too much of my life is like that...I'm more concerned about it being my fault and respnsibility if something goes wrong than I am about the thing going wrong itself.

Issues, issues.

In other news, I did see "Revenge of the Sith" with Ksenia, Evil B., and his wife after a Sushi dinner. It was good, but dragged in the early middle a bit. If I see it again I want to get a score card for how many light-saber-welding limbs get chopped...good thing those laser swords cauterize the wounds instantly! Our seats were pretty high up...I almost would have rather gone for the back of the front section (one of those stadium seating setups at Fenway) but that got nixed by the women in the group...they just don't understand that to really feel a spaceship battle the spaceships need to be REALLY big relative to your field of vision. I think I would like to get the trilogy on DVD when it comes out, this film has retroactively made the other prequels better.

In other other news, when did Google stop directly linking to sites and send you through a redirect? Seems kind of sketchy to me. I mean, I've been tempted to setup something similar on this site, but then I don't have a "Don't Be Evil" policy to adhere to. And it's definately a negative in the sense that a link to a site that you've been to through (found via other means) won't show up as clicked in the Google search results.

superlative

(6 comments)
May 21, 2005
3 Seconds of "Warhol Fame" of the Moment

--Thanks to Rich B. who pointed out my Atari stuff got a mention in O'Reilly's new MAKE 'zine and did a fullpage scan. I'd been meaning to subscribe anyway...

Contented Sigh of the Moment
You know, having a laptop with a wireless 'Net connection is great, it's such a luxury to putter away the morning online in bed.

Techie note: I've grown more fond of "Hibernate" vs "Suspend" when not using my computer. In practice they're very similar, "Hibernate" means "take a snapshot of all memory, write it to disk, then shut off but put everything back when the computer is turned on" while Suspend just means "freeze and go into low-power mode". For some reason suspend was flakey on my aging desktop, but hibernate works great, especially because I switched it to "fast BIOS startup".

Incidentally you get the option for "Hibernate" by pressing "shift" after pulling up the "shutdown" option in Windows XP.

drinkin' rum and coca-cola...well....coca-cola anyway.

(1 comment)
May 22, 2005
Not much of an update today, kind of hectic schedule.

One random thought: I can't wait 'til the current cocacola promotion ends, the one that makes all the caps green. For one thing, it used to be much easier to tell the "with Lime" versions that I like so well apart from the normal types. Secondly of course, I never frickin' win free coke, despite the 1-in-12 odds...well, I did once...and of course the prize is "one liter", despite the fact that few places actually stock much between the 20oz and the 2 liters...I think it's all part of nefarious plot.

I guess that's just cosmic justice...at work we'll a bit too quick to exploit the way the machine will give two cans for the price of one. (But not bottles so the former always runs out before the latter.)

Quote of the Moment
"I learned, never date a Jedi. It makes them crazy."
--Comment by Anne Marie from a Lessons learned from Revenge of the Sith post. So many people are so down on this flick, even though most of the people I talk with think it was pretty big.

darth flowerpicker

(2 comments)
May 23, 2005
Photo of the Moment
--Vader, as played by "Louie", friend of a coworker of mine who made up a $1000 or so outfit.


yet another star wars fan

(1 comment)
May 24, 2005
Photo of the Moment
--from a CNN.com sidebar gallery... I'm just amused by Leia with a Really Big Gun. Pistol Packin' Whoa Mama!


Misread of the Moment
"In E1 the Jedi are at the height of their power spiritually. For a thousand generations and all that...

They're quite able to see the future and deal with the occassional uppity bounty hunter. The sith, however, are quite a danger to them.

By E2, the force is waning for the Jedi. They're ambushed and killed by /droids/! Granted they're droids with the psi backing of both Dooku and possibly Sideous, so that's better than your average droid by far.

And in E3 they're decapitating themselves while trying to shave. Further sign that the force is /not/ with them."

--ArmorFiend in this Slashdot discussion about the new movie. Now, when I went back to reread this I saw there was the word "practically" before "decapitating", but I think my misread was much funnier... I just have this image of a Jedi in robes in front of the mirror, face covered with lather, firing up the old light saber...

"only imperial stormtroopers are so precise"

(15 comments)
May 25, 2005
Photo of the Moment
-- via boingboing, more Star Wars fandom.


Ramble of the Moment
So for the past two nights with the storm blowing and trying to work its way into my drafy apartment I holed up in my bedroom; turning on the space heater, cranking up the laptop, burrowing into the covers. I had the video projector in there as well from previously where I had played some videogames this weekend in a similarly lazy mood. It reminded me of that Quentin Crisp quote about the benefits of one room living, and I thought about my old fantasy of condensing my life into one room. It would have to be a bigger room than that of course, and I'd have to really pare down my books and dvds and video games, and I would be hard pressed to have groups over for games or parties. And I guess from a status point of view, you definately risk looking more like a guy who can't maintain a "real place" when you live like that. But still the idea holds a deep appeal for me...actually it has for a while, I remember that section being the favorite part of the New House Book when I was a kid.

I guess there's a philosophy I have, an appreciation for the simplest and most elegant thing that gets the job done. Like cars, for instance, and I know the same idea influences my computer programming style. (Heck, there's a small chance that there's a common thread with my historical "thing" for petite women, though that's tied in with some level of historical coincidence.) When things are pared to the functional minimum, often you increase flexibility, but more to the point there's more room for the other "interesting" things in life.

darth maulmail

(1 comment)
May 26, 2005
--One last Star Wars fan pic... same Vader, this time with the junkmail.


Passage of the Moment
I think that the dying pray at the last not "please," but "thank you," as a guest thanks his host at the door. Falling from airplanes the people are crying thank you, thank you, all down the air; and the cold carriages draw up for them on the rocks. Divinity is not playful. The universe was not made in jest but in solemn incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy, and fleet. There is nothing to be done about it, but ignore it, or see. And then you walk fearlessly, eating what you must, growing what you can, like the monk on the road who knows precisely how vulnerable he is, who takes no comfort among death-forgetting men, and who carries his vision of vastness and might around in his tunic like a live coal which neither burns nor warms him, but with which he will not part.
--Annie Dillard, from "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek". Read that book for my UU "Science and Spirituality" group...good stuff, possibly there would have been even better quotes from its lovely in depth analysis of nature combined with philisophial speculation, maybe I wasn't paying enough attention because I needed to read it for the Tuesday meeting after buying the book on Monday. This bit reminds me a little bit of the ending of "American Beauty".

Funny of the Moment
Seanbaby hasn't been updating much (I read his game reviews in EGM but it's way-watered down, no where near the quality of the archives on his site) so I didn't realize last January he added a new Best of the Worst of Comic Advertising...Wheaties as Booby Trap for American Solidiers. I went and read all the old ones listed there on the side...that is deeply, deeply funny stuff. It reminds how rare it is to literally laugh out loud at online material, and to do so so many times in one place is really pretty amazing.

Gripe of the Moment
Glad to see I'm not the only one who hates the proliferation of Blue LEDs. My laptop has one...the thing is, if I suspend it instead of have it hibernate after some pre-sleep surfing, it blinks blinks blinks and seems like it lights up the whole damn bedroom.

retreat to the cave

(42 comments)
May 27, 2005
Game of the Moment
In the forehead smacking "why didn't I think of that?" department, SFCave 3D, a 3D (in a cheap and cheerful way) Java version of the great Java and Palm game SFCave I wrote about all the way back on 01/01/01. (Which was the third entry ever...back then I thought it was going to be cool to say I started in 2000, also I liked how you could just use the last two digits of the current year for the age of the blog, but now it's proven to be more of a pain, with December 2000 having two dinky entries in the archives.)

Naughtiness of the Moment
Thanks to the R pentomino for pointong out B3TA's Phallic Logo Awards. Some of these logos are so awful...you wonder if the designer was just that dumb, or just that smart. Obviously people who aren't amused by cartoony and stylized phalli should steer clear.

yes, your warship

(14 comments)
May 28, 2005
Advice and Ephemera of the Moment
Helpful hint: if you're at all attached to your car radio presets, used to certain stations being linked to certain buttons, write them down now, before something happens to 'em--like your car battery needing replacement, that kind of thing.

And so given my compulsion to share pointless Kirk trivia on this site, here are my Boston-area Car Radio Presets: (Hmm, in looking up one station I found a site with profiles of all the local stations...cool. I made links to the stations below...exciting!)

FM (first set...why do all radios have two sets of FM presets, and just one for AM?): 90.9 (public radio) 89.7 (also public radio, but sometimes has music, and I think it's the one with the Garrison Keillor show I always forget to listen to) 96.9 (FM talk, haven't actually listened to it much), unused, unused, and 104.1, which has Howard Stern in the morning for which I previously explained / apologized, plus sometimes decent music.

FM (second set) Except for starting out with 102.5 classical, is a big undifferentiated mix of popmusic that I click through if I'm in that kind of mood... 92.9, 93.7 (no link...odd,) 100.7, 107.9, and 98.5

AM...I've drifted away from "keeping tabs on the (christian right wing fundamentalist) enemy" with 590 (WEZE...if I was the rapper I'd be irritated by their callsign) and its sister talk station 1150 (WTTT--"the Boston T party -- changing the way Boston talks"--cute.) There's 1030 news (its "one commercial every few minutes" drivetime format is sometimes relaxing when one of the other stations is on a huge commercial streak,) 680 talk, 850 sports talk (I do like their "whiner line", as well as the Pats and Sox games) and then 1510, the perennial sports "also ran".

And now you know. And I have place to check if my car's battery runs out.

Tool of the Moment
So last night I was reading Wired, and it has coverage of Spielberg's upcoming "War of the Worlds" remake, including this sidebar comparing the original book, the infamous radio broadcast, and the 1953 film. I just thought that "Thunder Child" (from the original book) is the coolest warship name ever...so cool I decided to download the Gutenberg E-text of the book for download into my Palm's memopad.

Which led me to finally getting around to making a tool I've been talking about with LAN3 for a long while...Gutenberg E-texts (and also things from Usenet) usually have a lot of extra linebreaks to force 80-column width. My Palm of course has much smaller columns and the extraneous linebreaks are annoying. So, Enter The FATLINER. It can inhale even very large texts and spit out a version with the extra linebreaks removed.

Let me know what you think LAN3!

damn camps!

(5 comments)
May 29, 2005
So one of my favorite little games is whenever I'm drinking something and it goes "down the wrong pipe", to followup my coughing and sputtering with a whisper-croaked "smoooth!", as if I were a teenager trying to be blasé about the whisky he has just tried for the first time. I mean, I really enjoy this little game, not quite enough to purposefully try and choke on liquids but enough so that I'm not at all unhappy when I do.

I've found out there's a similar game in Russia, where if you have a coughing spell (as opposed to choking on liquid) you can say "damn workcamps!" as if you were sentenced to hard labor at a Soviet Siberian workcamp and now had TB. Ksenia told me her friend Efem taught it to her then 4-year-old brother, and it was the cutest thing in the world when he'd cough and then try to say it.

"i am a human from earth, this is where I live."

(2 comments)
May 30, 2005
Game Review of the Moment
This Eath game amuses me. I enjoy flying the little space ship, although it could not possibly work without a Quantum Juxipostulator. Much like any typical human, I had a highly enjoyable time figuring out the most efficient route through this basic simulator. I completed the challenge in but 36.92 nano-krumlacs. After playing the game, I ate a typical Earth meal consisting of steak with chocolate syrup, and a refreshing glass of Windex. Then I returned to my place of employment, where a man asked me, "Why are you here?" To which I replied, "I am a human from Earth, this is where I live." Then he said, "No, why are you here in the building? It is midnight, and I am the night janitor." I am glad he did not ask me about space, because I know nothing of that. I have no home among the stars! I know nothing of the planet Quuallic 9, home of the Parliament of Universal Harmony. I have certainly never been there, for I am from Smalltown, Canada. I will not speak of such things any longer. Instead, I will speak of this game. It pleases me. I score it 12 quannularcs.

--Klaaitalc, the Human Gamer, reviewing "Star Wars: Dengar Strike III: The Search for Nien Nub" in "GameInfarcer", Game Informer's April Fool's special.

I enjoy that whole "Alien badly pretending to be human" schtick...for a while I was playing the videogame "NHL Hitz" with my cousins, and my character was "Klaatu"...a 7 foot tall "human" who was breaking through Hockey's gender barrier, fondly recollecting her girlhood in Philadel
PHIa...good times.

Quote of the Moment
"You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills."
--Napoleon Dynamite, via "R" pentomino's LJ...a half-remembered version of this line has been in my head for a few weeks now.

quack quack waddle waddle!
quack quack waddle waddle!

(4635 comments)
May 31, 2005
Caption Contest of the Moment
--I know I said I was done with these but just got this over the weekend...can anyone think of a good caption?


Randomness of the Moment
I tried to google up this old McDondald's commercial, it had all these disappointed girlscouts cheering up their rain-filled time at camp with a trip to McD's, and they had a chant that went something like:

"We are Nippersinkers, we're in luck! If it rains all week, we'll pretend we're a duck! Quack quack waddle waddle! Quack quack waddle waddle!"

My family liked the chant and would come out with it at random times. I was never quite happy with it grammatically though, because it makes it sound like all the girls are going to pretend they're a single duck. (Some people suggest the line is "pretend you're a duck." Could be, I suppose.)

For Google I searched on "rains all week" "we're in luck" "quack quack waddle waddle". My favorite part of the search is where Google suggests Did you mean: "were in duck"...because that just makes so much more sense.

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