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dc redux day 4

(8 comments)
March 1, 2006
DC had a lot of political graffiti... must be the proximity.

The job was at a place called Dupont Circle. It had some pretty architecture as well.


dc redux day 5

(5 comments)
March 2, 2006
Dupont Circle is one of the most confusing roundabouts I've ever seen, with like 3 or 4 lanes around, but they criscross. The confusion extends to the pedestrians as well... it's kind of distracting seeing "time left before traffic resumes" counters set to different values at a single crossing...32 seconds to cross the first part but only 12 for the second in this photo though it's a little hard to see.

Also, a very deep Metro station... this shot of the entrance from the inside doesn't show how deep it goes but I like it anyway.


Passing of the Moment
Just got word from the compsci department at my alma mater that Prof. Schmolze has passed away after a fight with cancer. I didn't have too many classes with him but he seemed like a great gentleman.

And now I'll never be sure about this one incident I had with him in an AI class...he had just told us about some bit of AI logic that was named after it's creator (Unfortunately I can't remember what that was.) But then he was talking about another construct, representing a logic statement that would lead to a contradiction, called a "NOGOOD". And I asked, gee, was that too named discovered by a Professor or Doctor Nogood, and so it's named after him? His response was along the lines of "heh heh, no, see, we call them 'NOGOOD's because they're No...Good ...See?"

And so now I'll never be quite sure if he didn't catch the dumb little joke I was making, or if it was just a dry-as-kindling sense of humor that had him playing along...

dc redux day 6

March 3, 2006
Finally, two visually complementary pieces... the centerpiece of Dupont Circle...

And another attraction, Krispy Kreme. (Wheere they only barely do ice coffee.) I took this picture because for some droll reason I found the name embedded on the lid "Insulair" amusing... a vague insulin reference in a place known for its incredible amounts of sugar... er, guess you had to be there. Maybe I was working too hard.



boing

(4 comments)
March 4, 2006
Wow Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars? This is the first time I remember seeing the host as a reason to watch... anyone planning an Oscar party?

Boobies of the Moment
Boingboing (heheh) linked to this amazing Breast Bounce simulator. Choose a cupsize, activity level, and see how much better their shockabsorbing bra is at reducing the motion. Includes geek-friendly 3D Wireframe views. Reminds me a bit of the quotes I kisrael'd on this day...

Equal Opportunity Offender of the Moment
So my ELAS was a bit offended by the above link, which you, is kind of just soft core boobly porn. But she said it could possibly be counterbalanced by flying jockstraps, so, and luckily boingboing had an equally (if not more) [in]approrpriate link: aren't basketball players supposed to wear jockstraps or something? The newspaper claims it's an "unfortunate optical illusion", but that is a mighty meaty looking "illusion".

"i'm sorry, are you from the past?"

(3 comments)
March 5, 2006
Funny of the Moment
"Yeah, you do know how a button works, don't you? No, not on clothes. No, there you go, I just heard it come on. No, that's the music you hear when it comes on. No, that's the music you hear when... I'm sorry, are you from the past?"
--Roy on a funny geek/tech support comedy (that I haven't yet downloaded or seen, just heard about mostly on BoingBoing) The IT Crowd

I REALLY need to get my video torrent downloading mojo working one of these days...


Image of the Moment
--Hippo vs Antelope! From cellar.org's IotD... follow the link for more photos plus Antelope vs. Moe Howard...


Aside of the Moment
Some public radio program just had Sam Donaldson talking about how he thought that cameras in the Presidential Press Briefing room were a bit of a mistake because you see the contention between the Presidential Press Secretary trying to deliver the "official story" and the reporters trying to pry and get more information, and that for many people their sympathies will be for the Secretary, that they'll see the reporters (who might have their own agendas) as hounding the poor guy who already delivered the message. That's kind of odd; my sympathies were immediately for the reporters, figuring the secretary to be a bit of a weasel who ultimately is an obstruction to an objective view of the situation.

Is it the way I politically bend, which I guess would reflect the alleged "leftward bias" of the media, that makes me take the side I do? I think I'd feel the same way even during a Democratic administration. Do people in general trust political figures more than they do the media? That's kind of sad.

little ducks fighting bigger ducks

(4 comments)
March 6, 2006
Today's title was the subject of an email my friend Kyle sent me... he says his email provider has a faeture where with one click they can insert a random (and generally non-sequitorish) bit of text as the subject. I like that one.

Science Politics of the Moment
"Situation science is about respecting both sides of an argument, not just the one supported by the facts! That's why I always teach the controversy! Like the Evolution Controversy, or the Global Warming Controversy... not to mention the Tobacco Controversy, the Mercury Controversy, the Pesticides Controversy, the Coal Slurry Controversy, the Dioxin Controversy, the Everglades Controversy and the Acid Rain Controversy...."
--White House Situational Science Advisor Dr. Nathan Hull, as envisioned by this Doonesbury cartoon.

Heh. For all you geeks out there, would you say strikeout is the new "^H^H^H^H^H"? (For non-geeks: the latter is a geekish way of pretending to take something back when writing online text, sometimes a poorly configured computer terminal would put in ^H characters when you went to erase something, so you could generate humor by writing the word you really meant, then a series of ^H's, then writing the polite word or euphemism directly after.)


Personal Issue of the Moment
Lately I've been trying to think more deeply about what "food issues" I have, and my relationship to eating in general. I know I'm not usually an "emotional eater", in terms of using food to help with stress or bad feelings. And I don't have a particularly big appetite.

I think, ultimately, I find food to be a terrible distraction.

It's sort of like Snoopy and his "I could have sworn I heard a chocolate chip cookie calling me..." line, except it applies to most foods. Having ready to eat food around is dangerous for me, because I'll start thinking about what it tastes like, and often won't stop intermintently thinking about until the food is gone, one way or the other.

Possibly for similar reasons, I don't leave much food behind on my plate. And I do tend to eat quickly, sometimes embarrassingly so, because while I enjoy tasty food a great deal, I kind of want to get it over and done with and move on to the rest of life.

I enjoy good food but in a kind of shallow of way, and so value something that's convenient over food that might ultimately be better but takes more work. (Because, despite its distracting qualities, in my Interesting=Good worldview, I don't find food all that interesting, and will therefore try to adjust my life to spend less time, energy, money, and attention on it.)

The silver lining about this, diet-wise, is that I don't mind eating relatively dull diet-y stuff, as long as there aren't many tastier alternatives readily at hand. Also, sometimes I can get myself to be content with just a nibble of something. But other than that, it's kind of a challenge to deal with.

Let me know what you think, if you ever find yourself thinking in similar ways... it took a lot of introspection for me to codify it to this extent, but I'm happy to finally be able to put it into words.


todo tada

(15 comments)
March 7, 2006
Kirkminutiae of the Moment
Ways I've had of organizing my ToDos, ending with a new system I'm particularly pleased with...
Stickies and Spindle
I'd right things on stickies, and then stick them on a spindle when they were complete.
PROS: Visceral pleasure of impaling stickies, can use physical placement of stickies to makes subasks or to re-arrange priority, have tangible record of what was done.
CONS: stickies don't stick to cube walls that well, so I had to designate deskspace as "sticky land". Also, generally disorganized looking, and it got pretty easy to loose stickies.
PalmPilot
I do tend to keep my personal ToDos on Palm, and a while back I thought about what my Ideal Palm ToDo app would be like
PROS: With me all the time. Very neat and orderly.
CONS: Old tasks tend to linger-- too low of a "nag" factor, and not much to show other people. Clunky reordering, and no concept of "subtasks". Plus, completed tasks pretty much go away when you "purge completed tasks".
Whiteboard
PROS: Kind of fun, and you can be very expressive in terms of priority.
CONS: Tough to reorder. Bad marker smell. Old tasks tend to accumulate, surprisingly. Almost a little too visible to coworkers. And at my previous job, I didn't even have my own whiteboard, though maybe I could have asked for one.
Small .txt files and notepad.exe
Sometimes I'll still use this when I have a lot of things to do during a weekend: creating a list, and then cutting and pasting from a TODO section to a TODONE section so I can feel good about getting through stuff. (In fact, I posted an example a while back.)
PROS: Readily available, easy to put in priority order and then re-arrange on the fly
CONS: Doesn't travel very well, too easy to forget to save file.
Graph Paper a Day
The latest and my current favorite. Originally I was stealing printer paper, but graph paper has some advantages as described by this Book of Ratings entry. For over a week now I've been starting the day with a fresh sheet, dating it, transfering any previous undone tasks to it. (On the previous day's sheet, I circle things that were undone but passed forward.) Then as I get things done I cross 'em off with a big bold stroke of the pen.
PROS: Many! Each day is a bit of a blank slate, unlike the whiteboard, but the discupline of transferring undone things urges me not to let them linger. You can group things into subtasks. Plus I have a nice historical reference, good for both personal satisfaction as well as having to record "hours worked". More viscerally satisfying than the electronic based systems. CONS: Not much...sometimes I come close to running out of room on a single sheet.
Any one else have a system they want to share?

slaphappy

(6 comments)
March 8, 2006
Quotes of the Moment
"Where was it ever promised us that life on this earth can ever be easy, free from conflict and uncertainty, devoid of anguish and wonder and pain? Those who seek the folly of unrelieved 'happiness'--who fear moods, who shun solitude, who do not know the diginity of occasional depression--can find bliss easily enough: in tranquilizing pills, or in senility. The purpose of life is not to be happy."
--Leo Rosten

"If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time."
--Edith Wharton

Link of the Moment
TradeTricks.org offers insider's advice from a wide range or pursuits and professions...I haven't read it too deeply yet but it seems like there's a lot of cool ideas and advice.

da da da

(3 comments)
March 9, 2006
Link of the Moment
Dada! Go get you some culture.

Typo of the Moment
Link harvester sites are getting both a bit weird and also more professinal looking. I was thinking about seeing if I should grab the logical typo for kisrael.com, namely kisreal.com, but I see it's been grabbed. "For resources and information on Jewish and Radio Station". I think I first read that as Jewish Radio Stations, but the like of grammar only makes it a touch more weird.

I dunno, does "kisreal" sound like call letters? I know stations start with W here in the east, and K out in the west, but I'm not sure about the Middle East.

Product of the Moment
Very oddly romantic... Hi-Tech Long Distance Wine Glasses, that use glowing lights to indicate when the other one is held and lifted up for a drink, so people can kind of stay in touch and have a sense of togetherness as they drink wine. Or something.

That's a little bit Dada-esque actually. But only just a bit. Maybe more surreal.

chicken! fight like a robot!

(6 comments)
March 10, 2006
Video Game Art of the Moment
One biggish influence on my childhood drawing was the manual to the Atari game Berzerk... I think I was studied enough to catch the Da Vinci reference in this diagram:


And this "internal view" seemed like one of the coolest things ever...


After that I loved drawing big, chunky robots, often in a skeletal half-built or half-demolished form.

Typo of the Moment
Don't think tonight will work but Night Watch is pretty kickin'-- it's in Russian but with some of the best use of subtitles I've ever seen. It's (I'm guessing) probably par for the curse in terms of modern high energy vampire flicks, but it has some cool "epic" elements as well.
--Response to Miller et al. about a possible trip to the movies...I didn't realize I had written "par for the curse" until someone pointed it out...wish my typos were that clever all the time.

get the to a geekery

(2 comments)
March 11, 2006
Geek Humor of the Moment
[On the programming language Perl:] "You promise people answers to all their questions, but you're not ready for a real relationship. You like to guess what people want, but tend to jump to conclusions. When other people would say 'what, really?', you've already gotten out a ball-peen hammer and a tub of beeswax."
--Programming languages and their relationship styles. The kind of weird part is for me that I hadn't heard of 6 of the 25 entries. Oh well. Kind of harkens back to the old Shoot Yourself in the Foot lists from way back when.

Geek Product of the Moment
Top 10 Geek Watches...I really like the first one,the Fossil Frank Gehry Watch, which uses the same kind of rounding that people use when telling the time, or at least the way they used to before digital watches...

Geek Quote of the Moment
"He gave her a look that you could have poured on a waffle."
--via Slashdot's quotes...maybe not a sterling example of geek quote, but from a geek site.

remembering the sabbath day

(3 comments)
March 12, 2006
Religion of the Moment
The final point in this very over-simplified discussion of Melachah is "psik raysha," meaning "cutting off the head." Background: To kill a living creature intentionally is considered a Melachah. But suppose, for example, that a parent, marooned on an island with only his son and a chicken, is being driven to distraction by his child on Shabbat. He decides that the only object that will serve as a toy for his child is the head of the chicken, and he proceeds to cut it off (pardon the unintentional grossness of the example) without any intention of killing the bird. Although it is possible to say that the element of "intention" is lacking here, the act nevertheless remains a Melachah, because experience has shown that it is quite impossible for the chicken to survive without its head.
--from this pasge on keeping the Sabbath. (I thought the quote was a little punchier without its followup "(although one does often encounter individuals who seem to be running around in that condition)")

Sounds like a difficult way to live...I also remember getting an explanation for why bottled water could use a kosher symbol...


Video Game "Culture" of the Moment
I'm enjoying browsing through the Video Game Cameos & References database. This is President Ronnie from "Bad Dudes"... the NES version is winner of Seanbaby's best game intro list... "Did the secretary of defense stand up and say, 'We can't spare the military personel to rescue our president. So we'll just inspire a couple of street dudes to do it by questioning their badness. Easy.'"

Of course in the NES version it's George Bush senior, so...you see...I forgot where I was going with this. I guess Ronnie was just more photogenic.

ventrella ahoy

(7 comments)
March 13, 2006
Links of the Moment
Nick B's enthusiasm for Will "The Sims" Wright's demo of the upcoming game "Spore" made me think of some somewhat similar, if less ornate, work by Jeffrey Ventrella. I took a class on Artificial Life he taught one semester at Tufts' Experimental College.

I previously kisrael'd his work in terms of Gene Pool (very reminiscent ofthe early stages of Spore) Cellular Automata breeding and Fluid Dynamics but he's added some more cool stuff in the last few years (in beween his work with the virtual world There.com, I'd imagine)

Some of his more recent cool stuff is physics-based creature generation... (much like some of the middle levels of Spore, actually.) Bird is one of the most detailed, a small Windows download. (Warning...keep away from Vice Presidential PCs) You can click and toss in some seeds. The guy shown here is the somewhat phallic Peanut Boy, available as a Windows .exe or a Java applet. You can also generate your own spring-based animal critters, with 'Toon, Spring, and Box rendering. (I couldn't get the sound version to be much different) All of these other critters pay attention to and are draggable with the mouse...

Finally, his playable prototype of Gravity Tetris is really cool...blocks tumble and fall and can be dragged and spun in a very intuitive way with the mouse before they solidify into place. In terms of gameplay it's maybe a bit too forgiving, but still...this would be an awesome game on the Nintendo DS, which has the touchscreen for it...

So obviously there's a ton more on his site, things fun, intellectual, and both. If you have some time, check it out!

Overall, his site makes me intensely jealous that I might not have the imagination, stamina, or programming cajones to make my toys page nearly as cool as his.

Quote of the Moment
"The only mathematical ideas that human beings can have are ideas that the human brain allows."
--George Lakoff & Rafael E. Nez, via this Ventrella.com essay on rotation mathematics and vertigo.

feh

(11 comments)
March 14, 2006
Politics of the Moment
So Bush's approval has sunk to the mid-30s. It used to be higher. Now, leaving aside the "objective" question about how good or bad the idea of overthrowing Saddam was...why has it taken a certain chunk of the population this long to see the situation as "bad"? What's changed? The bodycount on both sides? The factional strife there? Gas at the pump still pretty high? What?

I had some interesting conversations with my coworker Tim the Libertarian. He has a view that I think is a kind of "fallacy of the excluded middle", that, say, we couldn't follow my idea of "giving the inspections teeth" with a "they can inspect it or we bomb it" policy, because by treaty the inspectors were UN and out of US supervision. Somehow it seems improbable to me that something like that would be forbidden, but overthrowing the government there would be more or less Okiedoke, but then again I'm not a diplomat.

I guess there might be legitimate questions about sovereignty with "inspections with teeth", but still, relative to what has transpired, I don't think it seems all that bad.

This Slate article talks about another point Tim and I disagree on... he's kind of a proponent that Bush made the best decision he had with the data he had at the time, where I believe that he was so hell bent on invasion so early on that it completely influenced what "evidence" they allowed themselves to see and interpret, and that's why he deserves all the political backlash he can get.

Link of the Moment
Top 10 Most Annoying Alarm Clocks. I wonder how many of these are in production as opposed to just one-offs in a lab? Still the idea of the little helicopter one, zipping across the room yelling its electronic brains out 'til you get up and turn it off is kind of appealing.

I'm Going To Hell
I know I'm going to hell because I practically snarfed just reading the headline Candi sent me, Miss Deaf Texas Killed by Train. A witness reported that "the train sounded its horn right up until the accident occurred"...that must've been kind of surreal. Doesn't sound like the safest activity for a deaf person, though I'm almost surprised she couldn't feel the rumble in the ground or something.

make mine music!

(10 comments)
March 15, 2006
So assuming all goes well, Tomorrow afternoon Ksenia and I will be headed for a few days in NYC! I think I've been there maybe once since 9/11.

I still haven't booked a hotel, hopefully that won't be a problem. Actually I haven't decided if it will be better to have the two of us take a bus there and back, or drive down and pay for a parking garage...any suggestions?

Kirkness of the Moment
Alright, self indulgent personal trivia...

A while back I assembled about 1 1/2 hours of MP3s as backgrounds noise for work. It needed to be energetic, and familiar so that it wouldn't be too distracting.) Plus, it needed to fit on my cheap 128meg MP3 player...

Here's what I came up with (in no particular order, I usually set it to shuffle...)
  • Elvis vs JXL-A Little Less Conversation Radio Edit (117 Bpm Groovy Chemical House Pop)
  • Sarah McLachlan - Possession (Rabbit in the Moon Mix)
  • Prodigy-Diesel Power
  • Short Dick Man - Gillette
  • Lick It - Roula
  • 50 Cents- In da club
  • Barenaked Ladies-One Week
  • Burning Down The House (with The Cardigans)
  • Crazy In Love
  • Groove Is In The Heart
  • Jims Big Ego-Stress
  • ladytron - seventeen
  • Onyx-Slam
  • Salt N Pepa-Shake Your Thang (Its Your Thing)
  • Smash Mouth-All Star
  • Smash Mouth-Diggin Your Scene
  • t.A.T.u.-All The Things She Said
  • t.A.T.u.-Nas Ne Dagoniat (Not Gonna Get Us)
  • The Bad Touch
  • Tom Jones-Sexbomb - with Mousse T
  • Run-D.M.C. Walk This Way
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot Baby Got Back
  • Dave Matthews Band When the World End
  • The Romantics What I Like About You
Mostly I cribbed from my collection of party music (including stuff picked out by my ex- and Lupschada, which explains stuff like the Dave Matthews and "Crazy In Love")

I actually switched over to iTunes to listen to this, instead of WMP, because I remembered it would give me an estimate in amount of time, not just filesize. But that little thing iTunes does where it crossfades from one song to the next really makes a ton of difference...makes it feel like something DJ'd, not jus hacked together. I guess that's one of those little Apple-ish details that have kept them around so long...

So if anyone has been wondering what I've been listening too lately, over and over and over and over, well there you are.

Retrohumor of the Moment
Lileks take on Old Computer Promotional Photos isn't quite as funny as I had hoped... I think the caption for the first one was my favorite. Boingboing like #7. I think it's pretty amazing how there's not a single trailing cable to be found in the whole batch, though I guess some of them might be running 'em under the floor.

i think sex is better than logic but i can't prove it

(1 comment)
March 16, 2006
Off to NYC! Actually grabbed a Brooklyn Hotel...last minute options in Manhattan were either expensive or skanky without a ton of middle ground.

Man I miss my mom's apartment on the Upper West Side, and that little seperate room I had...my own little microstudio overlooking broadway... sigh.

Logic of the Moment
Good evening. The last scene was interesting from the point of view of a professional logician because it contained a number of logical fallacies; that is, invalid propositional constructions and syllogistic forms, of the type so often committed by my wife.

'All wood burns,' states Sir Bedevere. 'Therefore,' he concludes, 'all that burns is wood.' This is, of course, pure bullshit. Universal affirmatives can only be partially converted: all of Alma Cogan is dead, but only some of the class of dead people are Alma Cogan. 'Oh yes,' one would think. However, my wife does not understand this necessary limitation of the conversion of a proposition; consequently, she does not understand me, for how can a woman expect to appreciate a professor of logic, if the simplest cloth-eared syllogism causes her to flounder?

For example, given the premise, 'all fish live underwater' and 'all mackerel are fish', my wife will conclude, not that 'all mackerel live underwater', but that 'if she buys kippers it will not rain', or that 'trout live in trees', or even that 'I do not love her any more.' This she calls 'using her intuition'. I call it 'crap', and it gets me very irritated because it is not logical. 'There will be no supper tonight,' she will sometimes cry upon my return home. 'Why not?' I will ask. 'Because I have been screwing the milkman all day,' she will say, quite oblivious of the howling error she has made. 'But,' I will wearily point out, 'even given that the activities of screwing the milkman and getting supper are mutually exclusive, now that the screwing is over, surely then, supper may now, logically, be got.' 'You don't love me any more,' she will now often postulate. 'If you did, you would give me one now and again, so that I would not have to rely on that rancid Pakistani for my orgasms.' 'I will give you one after you have got me my supper,' I now usually scream, 'but not before'-- as you understand, making her bang contingent on the arrival of my supper. 'God, you turn me on when you're angry, you ancient brute!' she now mysteriously deduces, forcing her sweetly throbbing tongue down my throat. 'Fuck supper!' I now invariably conclude, throwing logic somewhat joyously to the four winds, and so we thrash about on our milk-stained floor, transported by animal passion, until we sink back, exhausted, onto the cartons of yogurt.

I'm afraid I seem to have strayed somewhat from my original brief. But in a nutshell: sex is more fun than logic-- one cannot prove this, but it 'is' in the same sense that Mount Everest 'is', or that Alma Cogan 'isn't'.

Goodnight.

--from The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, transcribed here.

orange you glad i didn't say banana

(8 comments)
March 17, 2006





ring ring ring

(2 comments)
March 18, 2006
Raunch of the Moment
At one point, we tried to have phone sex. I felt incredibly awkward and had no idea what to say. I started, "Okay, I'm taking off your shirt. Wait, what are you wearing?" I was supposed to establish that. "Okay, good. I'm taking off your shirt. Now, I'm having sex with you. Okay, I'm done. Want to phone cuddle? Phone sleep?"

The icing on the cake was when we decided to role play. I told her to be the nurse, and that I would play the husband who cheats on his nurse wife.

She calmly explained that we needed to express what we wanted from each other, adding, "I wish you would be more sensitive."

"Fair enough," I said, "I wish you would be Asian."
"What?"
"Oh, come on, it can't be that hard. I see little kids doing it!"
--Rop O'Reilly, "Inspiring Born-Again Virgins One Awful Experience At A Time", boink magazine

nyc: blue eight

(10 comments)
March 19, 2006

















(Hold your mouse
over any image
for a few words.)

Back from NYC. Seeing those two towers reflected in the "Millenium Hilton" when your back is to the WTC site are a little unnerving, at least for a moment. The Guggenheim wasn't quite so blue as the other subjects, but it's always fun to photograph. The eight is there because I admired the craftsmanship, and then I could make it look like eight blue photos is what I was aiming for all along.

Other trip highlights were a terrific cheap Russian place in Brooklyn, just outside the Hassidic Jewish neighborhood our hotel was in, a Klee exhibit at "The Neue Galerie", hanging around where the St. Patricks Day parade was coming to a stop (always fun to see bands and groups coming undone, relaxing and grateful to be finished), Times Square, seeing "The Producers", and meeting up with Tony from Tufts.


around and around it goes

(4 comments)
March 20, 2006
Image of the Moment
--An indoor ferris wheel, at the Times Square Toys-R-Us. (Despite the blue center, I thought that the brilliant oranges and yellows made it a poor match for the "blue eight" theme.) Each car had a different toy theme, from Monopoly to Bob the Builder to Spongebob. Almost as cool as the Mall of America's coaster.


Quote and Link of the Moment
"When we were making the movie at Disney, people used to hold up crosses when the Tron walked through the halls," Lisberger said. "We were making a film that was from the netherworld, and they were just very afraid. This was the future and it was rolling down the most conservative linoleum hallways on the earth."
--from this history of the movie "Tron". I love that film...so bummed I bought it right before the bonus-laden collector's DVD came out. And given what "love of CGI" did to Disney's traditional animation studios (albeit 25 years later) maybe the cross-wielders were right!

"the best programmer encom ever had, and he ends up playing space cowboy in some back room"

(2 comments)
March 21, 2006
Link of the Moment
Following up yesterday's TRON link... Arcade at the Movies links to videogames, real and fictional, shown at the movies. The "monster chess" shown in Star Wars is one of the most famous. I found this link in an AtariAge discussion about Rogue Synapse, a group of amateur coders who make some of these fictional games reality. I absolutely applaud the effort, though the games lack some of the polish and gloss that the early movies had that should be possible on any PC these days. I think they'll even construct fullsize arcade games for you. "Space Paranoids" from TRON! "Starfighter" from "The Last Starfighter!" Cool stuff.

--I always liked the Dogfight game from Star Trek III.


Even More Random Move Link of the Moment
Watched "Colossus: The Forbin Project" last night. It ends like the first part of a trilogy that it is, but they never made movies for the sequels... luckily I found this page that explains what happened in the other books.

Online Tool of the Moment
Yet another minimalist-UI specialty tool, this one marginally more useful than most, htmlescape converts HTML characters like < and & to their safely escape equivalents.

sweet dreams are made of these, and vice-versa

March 22, 2006
Geek Quote of the Moment
"Quantum Mechanics: The Dreams of Which Stuff is Made"
--sig of ihatewinXP on Slashsdot. You have to know a bit about how weird and uncertain things get at the quantum level, relative to our mundane reality, to get the joke of it.

Dialog of the Moment
"I'm curious, is it strictly apathy, or do you really not have a goal in life?"
"I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya... it feels phenomenal."
"Well I guess that makes sense, in a really sad way."
--"Dodgeball"

Link of the Moment
--An absolutely lovely idea... artist Seyed Alavi has this aerial river view woven into an airport walkway's rug. I wonder if it can give you a sense of vertigo? (via boingboing)


Tools Update of the Moment
In the endless excitement that is my tools page, I updated yesterday's new entry htmlescape so that it has an option to try and replicate whitespace in the input as HTML output, which is useful for preserving the structure of HTML sourcecode, assuming you don't want to just slap <pre> tags around it all.

lonely the only

(7 comments)
March 23, 2006
Hey does anyone have a Windows 98 CD about? I'm trying to get some old hardware up and about.

Ramble of the Moment
Lately I've been thinking about how being an only child, along with living in some neighborhoods without many kids my own age, might have molded me, and what influence it might've had on my introverted streak.

I "moved around a lot as a kid", and it was always just me and my folks. From the ages of about 4-8 I lived in a little town called Salamanca, and as far as I can recall was mostly on my own in terms of freetime...I think before and after I had more friends contact, but after, it was generally having one or two close friends at a time.

Maybe though I have a kind of unrealistic vision of other folks' childhoods, running around in "Li'l Rascals" type groups, learning through experience about all kinds of social rituals that I'm still a newbie on. Maybe most people tend to have one or two close friends besides their usual schoolmates, and the tribalish neighborhood gang thing is the exception. On the other hand, a lot of people have siblings.

I can think of a few implications of this kind of background, though I can't always be sure about the nature vs. nurture aspects (as far as I can tell, a kind of "attention seeking introversion" runs through my family a bit.) For one thing, a lot of my pleasures are solitary (no, I'm not talking about that one)... I think in my current relationship with Ksenia, I feel more drawn to doing couple-compatible-things, like watching a video, even when I'd much rather work on my independent projects. It's not forced by her, it's not even quite because of guilt, but kind of a feeling of...I don't know, responsiblity, or what "should" be done. Not that I mind watching the videos or anything. Also I think sometimes she wants a kind of coupley snugglehood that just doesn't come instictively for me. I can undestand it but I don't grok it at all.

The other thing implication, and this comes somewhat from those "birth order" books, is how being a bright beloved only child got me used to being both the center of attention as well as not having serious competition for most achievements. The unfortunate side effect of this is I usually try to avoid "contests" where I don't think I'm likely to "win"...like I've said before, I hate things that remind me I'm not the smartest and bestest guy in the city. I prefer the illusion that I would be crownable as God-King of the Universe, the Watchman of Wit, the Vishnu of Videogames, the Programmer Papa Smurf, the Crowned Champ of Creative Expression, if only I really set my mind to it. But I can't be bothered, so I'm just here at my station in life.

Link of the Moment
Oh look, as if we only children didn't have enough already, our own website complete with a list of famous only children. (Yeesh, are we in that much of a minority?)

"if that ain't a tribute to white beans, I don't know what is"

(7 comments)
March 24, 2006
Dialog of the Moment
"Did you like the white beans you had for supper?"
"Uh huh."
"Well, you didn't say anything."
"Well, I ate four bowls. If that ain't a tribute to white beans, I don't know what is."
"Well..."
"Eating speaks louder than words."
"You know, your education was worth every penny of it."
-- Aunt Bee and Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show...after this AV Club collection of quotes I decided to see what they had at IMDB. I like this one, it reminds me of an Instant Messenger convo.
I made a discovery in NYC...some guy at tkts "sold" me the paper version of The Onion, and it was a easier to read thana the Online Version, which frankly I have been paying much attention to for the last few years.


Language of the Moment
I was trying to Google up which came first, "color" or "colour" (answer: color, "colour" is a bit of francophilism filing into the language) and found the answer on Mike Finch's British and American Spelling page. A well-balanced appraisal of the differences, and descriptions of which spelling he goes with for various splits as he considers himself writing "Mid-Atlantic" English.

I like his praise of the American "gotten" and some of the nuance it provides. (Actually the other day I wrote "tooken", which is slip I make sometimes...)

I also prefer "grey" over "gray". At least sometimes.

a fun game

(2 comments)
March 25, 2006
Explicit-ish Movie Quote of the Moment
<filter type="mom" tip="highlight text with mouse or hit ctrl-a to read">
"You know what's a fun game?"
"Huh?"
"You take three Excedrin PMs...
and you see if you could whack off before you fall asleep...
You always win is the best part about the game."
--from "The 40 Year Old Virgin"....sorry, but this made me laugh and laugh so I had to share it with everyone, just the "a winner every time" angle...
</filter>

Videos of the Moment
BK on the Blender posted this amazing dance video, looks like some kind of competition... I remember seeing it a while back but it's worth checking out again.

And making the rounds recently, a British attempt to make a real life version of the Simpsons opening.

the designers of diabolical dumbth

(7 comments)
March 26, 2006
So, I felt as if I'm at a bit of a loss for content today... nothing wallowing in my backlog jumped out at me.

Here's something that was near the top of my backlog, but was more there for convenience than something I meant to post: The Designers of Diabolical Dumbth List. A bit like This Is Broken or We Hates Software, but more personal, a list maybe I'll just keep editing in place in this entry, like my Project Todo list.

I want to focus on things that just seem stupid, for which the mitigating factors are weak or non-existent, and that have made my life worse in some small fashion.
  • Amazon doesn't sort by priority for other people's wishlists. This is my number one instance of online dumbth my a major web retailer. I really, really wish I knew someone highup at Amazon...like an old crank I've even written email asking about it, but never got a meaningful response. But so many people use Amazon to keep track of both stuff they really want, and stuff they'd like to remember to investigate further. "Priority" is a handy way of sorting one from the other, but if someone else views the list by default its sorted by date added. Unless the viewer is savvy and alert enough to check, they'll see everything I added lately, not just the stuff I actually want. SO DAMN DUMB!
  • Why can't Windows single line text fields be smart enough to know that if I miscopied a line of text and accidentally grabbed the blank line in front of it (to make sure I got the begining of the line), that it can probably ignore the original blank line, rather than insisting on pasting it in as the sole bit of content for the field? DWIM, dummy.
  • I have a pile of Post-It notes that alternates what side the glue is on. I can't just grab a pad and start writing on the top sheet because I don't know which way is up. And upsidedown notes on Post-Its just look retarded.
  • Outlook follows in Window's half-assed "do searches in place" paradigm so much so that you can easily not notice you're still doing a search on your inbox...so until you realize it and clear the search, you'll only see new mail that matches the search criteria.
  • My HP laptop...there's no onscreen representation or audible feedback when you use the physical volume changing commands. I guess I'm just spoiled with my Mac iBook, but given the decent feedback changing the volume from the systemtray Windows provides, it's a bad oversight.
  • Firefox...unprintable characters are changed into literal ?s. Grrr. Now, I sort of see (if disagree with) their refusal to play fast and loose with character sets the way IE does, so that funny quote characters and other punctuation still show up, but changing them into a literal ? rather than showing some kind of placeholder character (I think IE uses a block) makes it much harder to get back to the correct punctuation.
  • My Samsung cellphone...not only does it have 8 levels of ringer volume I need to cycle through to go from the two options I use, "vibrate" and "loudest ringer plus vibrate", but the two options use the exact same icon on the screen.
Alright, that's it for now. Feel free to chip in with anything you've seen that drives you nuts....

blarg blarg

(14 comments)
March 27, 2006
Monster of the Moment
--Paul Robertson LJ has some pretty cool cartoony zombie work...


Links of the Moment
Bill points to an article that says getting even might be the best medicine, or at least that putting up a happyhappy front to customers might be bad for your health.

I guess in contrast to that headline, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick writes that the Death Penalty isn't a magic bridge to "closure" no matter how many blood-hungry prosecutors would have you think otherwise. (I'm disgusted about hearing how "The survivors of the Oklahoma City bombings who didn't want to see Timothy McVeigh executed were not permitted to offer victim-impact statements at his sentencing")

Finally, Slate had an article with some amazing video about Quick-Change artists David & Dania (Unfortunately, the videos on their own site are marred by a completely unsuable interface. Brilliant!)

Weighty Thoughts of the Moment
For me, it's interesting what my site's retrospect feature comes up with, what forgotten lore this date on the site and my Palm journal holds. Today I saw that it was 7 years ago today that I noticed by weight hitting 210, and if memory serves that was the start of a reasonably succesful weight loss effort. I'm a few pounds above that point now, but it's a bit reassuring to know this weight isn't quite as singular in my personal history as I would have assumed. Still, I haven't done enough to restart another change in my way of eating, especially now that I've pinpointed the way I'm kind of distracted eater.

I've gone through about 10 sessions with a personal trainer... it's pretty pricey though, and I need to wean myself off of it but onto something sustainable for myself. Trainers have a few advantages, mostly in pushing me harder than I would push myself and in showing me some new things, making sure there's more variety in exercises, correcting my form and just keeping count, but they're pretty frickin' expensive when you get down to it. (Also I was kind of hoping he'd take a more holistic approach in terms of my diet and what not, but I've been at my status quo for that stuff over the interval.)

The trainer took measurements for me before the program started, I'm curious to see what a difference a month might've made...my weight's the same, though hopefully the muscle/fat ratio has gone slighly more in my favor during that time. I think I feel a little better, but...I dunno, between a general... forgetfulness? about how I am doing physically, along with the daily variation in how I feel (based on getting enough sleep, how stressed I am, etc) being larger than short-term increases in well-being-- it's tough. I don't know if it's all classifiable as "being out of touch with my body", or if it's denial, or what.

vroomfroodle

(8 comments)
March 28, 2006
Personal Obervation of the Moment
According to this, I'm not a very good Aries." Of all the signs of the Zodiac, Aries is probably the biggest go-getter and the most motivated employee."??? Oy.

Geek Links of the Moment
How to write unmaintainable code.

Also in geek news, Apple is turning 30, and Wired has a good gallery of Apple screenshots thorugh the years with a few comments on each.

Oh, and I was over at FoSO and FoSOSO's place last night, and we discovered that I'm the number one google hit for "antihippopotamus", thanks to the Paul Blair haiku I quoted a while back.

haiku you to pieces

(6 comments)
March 29, 2006
So during that fateful visit to FoSO's and FoSOSO's, I had, maybe for the first time...kumquats! It's funny but I think I went 30 years without 'em, but now I think they're great, I love how you can just pop one, rind and all, into your mouth, and then they're kind of like nature's version of "Atomic Warheads" sour candies that were popular back in the late 90s.

There's a bit of family folklore about this fruit, where a euphemism for having to go to the bathroom was "I gotta go juice my kumquat". So finding out how diminutive they are added a new layer of meaning to the phrase, I think it also serves as a self-deprecating remark about limited bladder capacity and having to make multiple trips...

Haikus of the Moment
In Yesterday's comments FoSO pointed out that haikus are not just defined by their syllable count but also by containing a reference to the season. (I explained the seasonal reference she had missed thusly..."Duck Season!" "Rabbit Season!" "Antihippopotamus Season!")

But it reminded me of this exchange on the Usenet group alt.fan.cecil-adams...to understand it, you have to know the usual followup of "motto!" after someone writes a line that is a possible candidate for a motto for this cantankerous newsgroup.... ("Hardie Johnson" wrote the final capper.)

>>>>>Haiku has pattern:
>>>>>Middle line has seven beats,
>>>>>One line has season.
>>
>>>> Beats: five-seven-five.
>>>> But to demand a season's
>>>> Unreasonable.
>>
>>>Complain not to me;
>>>you should tell the Japanese,
>>>as they made it up.
>>
>> This is an English
>> Newsgroup, not ancient Japan.
>> Hactar asks too much.
>
> This ain't alt.haiku.
> It's alt.fan.cecil-adams.
> We do what we want.

Motto, motto, mott-
o, motto, motto, motto,
motto, motto, spring.

Sigh...sometimes I think I should get back on Usenet more often.

spammedalot

(6 comments)
March 30, 2006
Hey, is it just me, or are spammers suddenly into telling you about their "new email address"? I guess it's some scheme to get around filtering, though if it helps get past digital filters, or just is something a human might recongize as previously usually coming from a human, specifically a human they'd had corresponded with previously...

Random thought experiment, how long will it take all the "I have a new email address!" spam to catch up the number of emails that legitmately used that? Maybe a while, since you see that on a lot of business corespondance, but still.

Orgy of the Moment
--I really loved this not TOO explicit orgy scene from the Perry Bible Fellowship "Cupid Mistake".


Article of the Moment
FoSO fwd'd this article reiterating the idea that more money doesn't equal more happiness, and little details of daily life (like, having a shorter commute) are more important than sheer salary size. I'm not quite sure what the action item on this is for me though.

descartes walks into a bar

(53 comments)
March 31, 2006
Joke of the Moment
Decartes walks into a bar.
The bartender asks, "Would you like a beer?"
Descartes replies "I think not," and disappears.
--My favorite philosophy joke...in honor of my birthday today, which I share with the guy! And we both share the day with the Eiffel Tower. Yay us!

Site Update of the Moment
I know no one uses this site's archive or search 1/10 as much as I do, but I'm tweaking both. The old view past entries script turned out to be really crufty, so its been updated a bit, and the one script that could view links to all months, a single day, weeks at a time, or entries for a single day has been broken up into seperate scripts.

I'm having to bite the bullet and admit Google is a lot speedier and more flexible when it comes to searching the site than my own scripts, so I'll be resorting to them for the primary search. (Though I'll keep a link to mine around because I like how it can sort chronologically.) But I want to restrict Google a bit, because any given entry could show up in multiple places: view that day, one or two forms of view that month, and my retrospect feature. Unfortunately I'm not 100% clear how Google gets to the individual day entries, so hopefully blocking the wider views won't stop Google from knowing what's on my site.

Gotta wonder...how long will I be doing this site? It has been over 5 years so far! Is there any chance I'll be doing this as an old man? (It makes me want to look into setting up "perpetual website" services for people to preserve their bits after they shuffle off this mortal coil.)

Filing System of the Moment
I've heard a bit about the Noguchi Filing System, but here's a pretty in-depth description. It makes a lot of sense, especially for use with a language that might not have a sense of character-based (alphabetical) ordering.

I guess I could say I accidentally follow a very similar system at work... just drop every paper into a filing cabinet drawer, dig out what I need (which is pretty rare, actually, most of my documents are softcopies) and then put it back on top when I'm done.

Business Idea of the Moment
Should this be my new small business? Offering restaurant patrons a place to hurl plates at the wall...I wonder if it would be tough to get insurance for something like that. Sounds pretty cathartic overall.

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