kisrael.com | archive | 2006 jun

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(19) fire fire fire
2006.06.01
I've never used a fire extinguisher. So, of course, they're very tempting to me now. They just seem like so much fun, all that foam at your command. Plus it seems like putting out a fire with one must be very satisfying, in that kind of manly "mastery over nature" sort of way.

I know I should kind of count my blessing in never having to have used one, but still.

I still like the other premise of Fahrenheit 411 451 (thanks Candi)... it's not just that they burn books, it's that they don't need firefighters because they just made everything fireproof.

Video of the Moment
"What you want Natalie?"
TO DRINK AND FIGHT!
What you need Natalie?"
TO F*** ALL NIGHT!
--Natalie Portman's Yo Natalie! gangsta rap video...I think from SNL/Lonely Island. I kind of like the awareness of the exchange "'We love you Natalie!' I WANNA F*** YOU TOO!", given how she's a target of so much geek fetish.


(2) the hacker's diet
2006.06.02
So, at Max's suggestion, I've started following The Hacker's Diet ("How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition").

Its core metaphor is the "Eat Watch", a hypothetical wrist-based gadget that tells you when to start and when to stop eating, an artifact to help people with a poor internal "Eat Watch", much in the same way eyeglasses are an artifact to help people with poor vision.

It's a back to basics program with the following ideas:
  • Ultimately, it's calories in minus calories out, so count what's going in very carefully, but you have almost total freedom within that range.
  • Weigh yourself daily... and here is some nifty software (Excel or TADA, Palmpilot!) for getting a weighted average, so you can see beyond the way daily water weight fluctuation will swamp daily weight loss and spot the trend.
  • Here's a simple optional light exercise routine that scales up week by week. (But don't fool yourself, even fanatical exercise will only burn off like a cheeseburger.)
In some ways, this program resembles my previous homemade routine that was reasonably successful, especially the "daily-weigh-in" bit. And I think I was ok at maintaining for a while, which raises the question, why did that stop? I've drunk the kool-aid that says it needs to be a WOE/WOL (Way of Eating/Life) change, not a diet, but I think the WOL I constructed was kind of dependent on the particulars of my married life.

So I'm thinking that daily recording of weight should be a permanent part of my life. Which isn't so hard, both with the "Eat Clock" Palm application that makes cool little weighted charts, and my proven ability to keep a private diary and log of my media consumed.

Actually, I've been weighing myself semiregularly so I wasn't startled by the numbers I was at, but I kept blowing past my "if I reach weight X, then I'll start getting serious about doing something" triggerpoints 'til now I'm 15 lbs above my previous all-time high. (Hmm, actually in the comments on this kisrael entry, I give a pretty good summary of my weight history...and I guess I'm like 15-20 lbs more than I was at that point, ugh!)

The program recommended calorie counting and exercise before diving into the hardcore diet, but it turns out a strict calorie counting regimen is a huge diet aid by itself (the whole, "damn, if I eat that I have to record it, and maybe even look up or calculate the calories) so I guess I'm on the program. Its gone well for the few days I've been on it, but I haven't had to deal with any social eating, either in restaurants or with Ksenia's family. I'm not sure how to deal with the guesstimation that will entail. I do feel better already, though I guess that must be largely psychosomatic.


A doodle from 5 years ago... I think the joke was no matter how skinny I got, I'd still have the cherub cheeks.
Calorie counting can be very freeing if that's your primary concern, because if you've really got a handle on your intake, it's ok if a certain portion of that intake is absolute crap. At least that's the attitude the program implies. The author even suggests pre-packaged meals as an easier route to calorie counting, if your culinary standards aren't too high, and mine aren't. The Hacker's Diet doesn't totally reject the need for good nutrition, but it does say "we're omnivores, and we're eating too much"

I look at it like this. I'm fighting a war that has three fronts: my weight, my nutrition, my exercise. If I tried to pursue my ideals in all three at once, lose weight, eat terrific and fresh stuff, get into a more strenuous and time-consuming weight training and aerobic exercise program, I'm likely to lose. I'm going to focus on the weight loss and fight a holding action on the other fronts: picking what seem like decently balanced frozen and prepacked meals for my nutrition, following the currently - laughable - but - scalable exercise program of the Hacker's Diet. If and when I make my weight loss goals, or at least have clearly modified my WOL, then I might look into doing better on the other fronts, but in terms of bang for the effort buck, I think weight loss should be my main focus.

Funny of the Moment
The first entry in Lore's new project Bad Gods made me laugh. Funny stuff and its good a return to some of the Slumbering Lungfish multimedia form.

Article of the Moment
Heh, vaguely related to today's ramble: a surprising link among the villains of several large-scale terrorist attacks: they're all a big part of gym/workout culture. Kind of disturbing on a few levels.


(3) cooler than the other side of the pillow
2006.06.03
"Cooler than the other side of the pillow" has to be one of the best phrases in the history of phrases. What a great way of tapping into the common human experience. Maybe not all humans, but a lot of them. I think it might have had its start on ESPN, but still.

Art Toy of the Moment
The Jackson Pollock toy is great. (Originally ripped off of this work, but I think the Pollock toy improves the concept a lot.)

Coworker Art of the Moment
--Scott at work made this nifty small Lego Dragon... he's got a knack for working on small scale lego, not to mention dealing with the limited assortment of Lego we have at work.



(1) everybody's lurking for the weekend
2006.06.04
Weekends can slip by so quickly.

No news yet on the EBbaby front.

For what it's worth (I noticed it didn't drum up a lot of interest, but I guess that's not too surprising) my diet continues well, and seems to have survived a birthday dinner with Ksenia's family intact.

Today I created the first version of a small web app to record and sum up daily foods and calories, which beats utlizing this site's content managment scratchpad and Windows' calculator application. I made it so that if I ever feel like having the app generate weighted moving average graphs I could ditch the Hacker's Diet Palm application entirely.

Since I name most of my little web apps "k/something", this one is "k/alorie".

Quote of the Moment
"I need to get to a library - fast"
--My favorite line from a Da Vinci Code, unfortunately no one online is quite sure of the exact transcription. I love the sense of urgency to it, it gets my vote for most unlikely line so far this year.

Site of the Moment
Patent Silly has found some very silly patents. Of course, there's always a certain percentage of these that actually might be decent patents, but only if you understand more details of the situation... still good for a grin.


(9) skinny in the city
2006.06.05
Ksenia and I really dig "Sex and the City" and ever since we watched the complete run I've been looking for an adequate substitute. Recently I stumbled on "Ally McBeal" (after seeing its quotes page on IMBD (when did they start having interstitial adds anyway?)) Oddly, the only DVD release in the USA is a 6-episode selection Ally on Sex and the Single Life. Ksenia and I watched that and she loved so as a gift i want to get more of it. People on that Amazon page point out that it seems like Fox is being weirdly ornery by having the full boxed set in the UK and not the USA. And of course the UK set is Region 2, so I'd have to get one of those region free DVD players, or turn to this one graymarket distributor. I guess it's the copyright holders who can do what they want, but I hate when an arbitrary decision kind of leads me to circumvention... I'm perfectly willing to pay for this, but it's just not available.

Bleh. Nintendo did the same thing with not making a USA port of its Puzzle Collection, with 4 player Dr. Mario, Tetris Attack, and Yoshi's Cookie. I'm really surprised they decided it wasn't going to be worth their while to port to the USA, especially given how game-starved the Gamecube has become.

Popculture of the Moment
Not sure if i ever kisrael'd the tale of Nasubi... he was in some weird Japanese reality show, locked in a room, naked, allowed to have only what he could win from raffles and contests, slowly going a bit nuts. Seems like it would be really compelling television.

Video of the Moment
Amazing Katamari-themed HIV-awareness PSA. Almost sacrilegious, but terrific, and brings home the message of what kind of impact AIDS can still have. I wonder if it makes sense to people who don't know about the game? (thanks NickB)

I often thought a photorealistic Katamari game would be interesting, and this is pretty much it.

Feh of the Moment
Someone leaves printouts from ESPN's website around. Today I was really amused by this piece on "before their time" baseball innovations, but a little bit of thought and some googling seems to confirm that I was duped for a few minutes... it's written fairly convincingly (though I was a little suspicious at the tone in the "Fantasy Baseball" letter) and has some clever ideas, especially the Instant Replay and blogging, but still, I'm pretty sure it's a delayed April Fools. June Fools. Something like that.

So, Feh.


(5) numerology ahoy
2006.06.06
Hey, it's 6/6/6!

Speaking of the perception of evil, Red Sox got rocked by the Evil Empire last night, 13-5.

Sometimes it amazes me how emotional a game like Baseball can be, how baseball players play, and I assume they're professionals who play very hard, but they can still "kick it up a notch" when this kind of matchup happens. Or, for that matter, after their team has had a bad loss... in general you don't want to play a decent team that has just gotten swept by someone else.

Are all sports like that?

Motivation of the Moment
So, say “yes.” In fact, say “yes” as often as you can. When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, “yes-and.” In this case, “yes-and” is a verb. To “yes-and.” I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she or it yes-ands. And yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no script, you have no idea what’s going to happen, maybe with someone you’ve never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage. They say you’re doctors—you’re doctors. And then, you add to that: We’re doctors and we’re trapped in an ice cave. That’s the “-and.” And then hopefully they “yes-and” you back. You have to keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other’s lead, neither of you are really in control. It’s more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.

Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes” back.

Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”

And that’s The Word.

I have two last pieces of advice. First, being pre-approved for a credit card does not mean you have to apply for it. And lastly, the best career advice I can give you is to get your own TV show. It pays well, the hours are good, and you are famous. And eventually some very nice people will give you a doctorate in fine arts for doing jack squat.

--Ending of Stephen Colbert's 2006 Commencement Address to Knox College. Honestly the rest of it wasn't quite as funny as his usual stuff, kind of drifting in and out of character, but I liked the conclusion.


(3) who dat who say they gonna beat euclid? who dat? who dat?
2006.06.07
EBaby is pending, finally!

Watched the movie "Drumline" last night. For the most part it's by the numbers young man from the streets triumphing over adversity stuff, but the drumline duel at the end is worth the price of admission, and the Deleted Scenes had an additional cadence round for each of the two lines.

I don't miss marching band so much, because it was a lot of work and a lot of pressure not to screw up. Still, it was a lot of camaraderie. My high school band had a bit of the same "play cool popular music vs educate the students and the masses" tension... or rather, it was cool the years I was there, but then, just like in the movie, when the previous second-in-command gets the helm, it's all classical and other pretentious stuff. Terrible, terrible move, save that for the damn Wind Ensemble and let the Marching Band jam.

Youtube.com has some drumline videos. I'd love to get a CD with the coolest, most bassdrum heavy cadences.

Diet of the Moment
One guy is trying to eat Nuthin' but Monkey Chow. A work in progress, with videos! The first one when he finds out what the stuff actually tastes like, and how bad the week is going to be is pretty funny. (thanks FoSO)

In other dieting news, I was starting to read this BoingBoing entry about a guy who lost 50 pounds and thought... huh, sounds like the Hacker's Diet... and sure enough it was. It looks like over the next week or so he'll be posting more and more simplified explanation of the diet (admittedly the Hacker's Diet webpage goes on and on about some topics, like computing weighted averages, when all most people really need is to use the provided tools.)

I've hit my first plateau the past few days, with (what I think is) weight loss less than the plus/minus error of my scale. Also last night with my UU Covenant Group, for the most part I ate pretty well (couscous, a few small drumsticks, green salad, and strawberries) but the calories are more guesswork than I like.

Now that I have some quantified estimates of calorie intake and strict daily weight measurement, I should be able to test if my theory that a day's eating's impact is felt a few days later is true.

The one thing about calorie monitoring is for the first time some conventional wisdom makes sense to me. If, on average (and I think that was the sticking point, because I think people's intake varies widely) you're eating 500 more calories than you burn, you're going to gain a pound a week. And while 2000-2200 seems like a lot of wiggle room to eat with, the day is long with a lot of opportunities to snack, and you're probably not noticing how often you're grabbing just a little something...

#1 side effect of early dieting: I can't stop thinking about, and sometimes boring others with, being on a diet.


(7) and baby makes EB3!
2006.06.08
Evil B's baby done got born last night!

EBaby (I'm going to say the E stands for "Excellent") was 20 inches long, 9 lbs 6oz.

It wasn't the smoothest of deliveries, some long hours of labor culminating in a C-section, but mama sounded pretty chipper on the phone late last evening, exhilarated at bringing a new life into the world.

More details to follow, I'm sure.

Congratulations to the E-some Threesome!

Debate of the Moment
"Look, it's a debate about whether you think marriage is between a man and a women."
"I disagree, I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish."
--Bill Bennet and Jon Stewart in a recent television broadcast. What a profoundly eloquent way of putting it. For being a short guy from a funny show, I think Jon Stewart is assembelling a lot of gravitas. In a way that Stephen Colbert can't quite match, because his shtick is parody, while Stewart is rather sincere.

Similarly: Slate on the GOP's gay panic button not working this time.



(4) photog phriday
2006.06.09
"Thoughts on al-Zarqawi?" Cole prompted yesterday.

Well, I don't have much to say about that. Obviously his death bodes well for the situation in Iraq and a victory for people who would like to see peace and stability there, but I don't know how well. Sometimes the government downplays the importance of individual terrorists, like when it can't manage to track them down, times like this it talks about how this could change the tide there.

Update: Did Bush nix plans to take out Zarqawi a few years ago because doing so might diminish his case for war in Iraq? I wouldnt be surprised.

Photos of the Moment
This site has been lacking images as of late, so...

I got the privilege of seeing EBaby in her first 24 hours on the planet! So cute! And a head full of pretty hair already!


Runner up in the cute contest: Ksenia's family's kitten Sonja:


A distant third: this random cubicle connector gadget I found on my desk at work, seemed a little bit like a Sanrio character...


Not so much "cute" as "weird", me messing around with EB's swim-goggles while waiting for him to pick up some clothes from home:




And then last Saturday Ksenia and I made up an army of chocolate covered Strawberries and an auxiliary corps of kumquats for her stepdad's birthday...




(8) i scream, you scream... no really, there's reason to scream here
2006.06.10
Ksenia was a little miffed that I was picking on the Russian dish that is meat in gelatin. (I was talking about how tough it was going to be to count calories at her Aunt's birthday dinner.) I told her that the second "my" culture produced, say, pepperoni ice cream, with real slices of pepperoni in it, then she could make fun of that.

It's probably not always easy to be my girlfriend.

Quotes and Video of the Moment
"I am nuts for information-- as are we all, I suspect, most real men and women. I can't get enough of the stuff. When I'm clicking through the hundreds of E-mail messages that await me each morning, sometimes I imagine I'm a mighty information whale, sifting through thousands of tiny (but nutritious!) krill bits. Yum! Whether it's reading the cereal box or scanning the advertisment slide show some genius thought to project on the big screen at the movie theater, my appetite for information is unquenchable."
--Joshua Quittner in 1998

"That's the simplest way to explain [podasting]. We are a factory that produces apple pies for whales."
--Ask a Ninja, indirectly via Catherine's LJ

Underwear of the Moment
Boxers? Briefs? Slate urges men to have the best of both worlds!

They make a strong case. I've got a pair myself, maybe I should consider more.


(12) it's not you. it's me. i don't like you.
2006.06.11
A while back I was toying with the idea of having rotating catchphrases at the top of kisrael.com, where "quotes and links. worth the click" sits. The three I came up with then were:
  • kisrael.com: it's not you. it's me.
  • kisrael.com: five years of quotes and links
  • kisrael.com: the other white meat
I like how the first one points out the vanity nature of the site but besides that I'm not sure if I'm going to bother. Any other suggestions for pithy slogans for this site?

Nutrition of the Moment
A few days ago I got an answer back from Dunkin Donuts, about the size of their iced coffee servings so that I can correlate that with the nutrition/calorie information on their website. They replied:
Thank you for taking the time to contact Dunkin Donuts, the small iced coffee is 16oz, the medium is 24oz and the large is 32oz. The nutritional information online is for the small products. Hope this helps

Thank you and have a great day.
So now I know! I started a thread in alt.support.diet about this, but after a short while it devolved into "The Queen of Cans and Jars" telling me that if I wasn't willing to follow her idea of using half and half instead of skim milk, maybe I wasn't really serious about this whole life change.

Top Ten of the Moment
Via Bill the Splut, TechEblog's The Top Ten Strangest Clocks. I've always loved the "ball clock" and making it out of Legos always seems like fun. The Pong Clock is also pretty nifty! I wonder how it handles the hour rollover... I could consider coding something like that up for the Atari.

TechEBlog seems pretty cool actually. They have a few other Top Tens, for example Strangest Lego Creations and Music Devices. I think I'll have to put them on my "gosites" list. (Sites I mean to check up on every once in a while.)


(6) con air... it's not just for appliances any more
2006.06.12
Finally Con Air bubbled to the top of my Netflix queue, which has been on my "to see" list ever since someone said I look like the canibal in that movie. Turns out that the canibal is Steve Buscemi, and I guess I can kind of see the resembalance. He's scrawnyish but we share the lips.

Anyway, that's possible because this movie has an insanely overpowered cast. Dave Chappelle was a surprise, but mostly I liked the long awaited encounter between Nicolas Cage and John Cusack... a pair way at the top of the list of "actors that most people can easily tell apart but Kirk keeps mixing up".

Overall it's a weirdly over-the-top movie, but it never wants to wink, it seems to take itself pretty seriously. But I think the visual image of the sports car trailing behind the plane like a kite tail makes it all worthwhile.

Baby Photos of the Moment
Seperated at Birth?
Evil B's offspring,
Catherine
Tom Everhart's Lucy's Scream
(Did Schulz know?)
OK, I guess "seperated at birth" is kind of unlikely, Evil B probably would have caught that, but still.

News Commentary of the Moment
"This was clearly a planned event, not a spontaneous event [...] I believe this was not an act of desperation, rather an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us."
--Rear Adm. Harry Harris, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo on the three recent suicides there. Wow... whoever thought that the "crack Suicide Squad" from "Life of Brian" would become a reality?

Video of the Moment
The Lord of the Rings reunion overdubbed with very dumb voices made me laugh, at least at the end. (via Boingboing)


(1) what's the haps?
2006.06.13
"What's the Haps?" I've been saying that a lot lately. Nicely anachronistic, less demanding than "what's happening?", a little less casual than "what's up?"

Video of the Moment
200 liters of Diet Coke, 500 Mentos mints = a must see recreation of the Las Vegas Bellagio Fountains... Mentos and Diet Coke can erupt with surprising force. So don't mix the two in your stomach, even if you're a cute gal (is that an English or Scottish accent? I'm so dumb with that stuff.)

Quote of the Moment
"Why does nature hate a vacuum?"
"Nature hates a lot of things and, actually, a vacuum is far down the list -- behind perpetual motion machines and lemon-lime flavorings."
--Ask Dr. Science


(7) kisrael's syndrome: acute neurological hypochondria
2006.06.14
So it turns out Ksenia and I didn't get the role at that senior residence after a recent second interview there. That's kind of a relief I'd say. No one thought it sounded like a good idea, and while there are still aspects of the arrangement that intrigue me, between the time commitment and size of the quarters provided, I'm inclined to agree.

Cultural Nugget of the Moment
A fascinating piece on How the Aymara have a "backwards" view of time. The more common view seems to be based on locomotion, going into the future. But as I started musing about the idea, without reading the article, I realize there's a beauty in the "facing backwards" view. You can't see the future, your back might as well be to it. Instead we can look at the past, with events receding in the distance as we move from them in time, but maybe with some large events looming for years...

The language is interesting for other reasons, it's the one that grammatically insists that a sentence declare if it relates something personally witnessed or if it's just here-say, which might tie in to the "looking into the past" idea. Also it features logic that isn't just boolean yes/no but includes a third option. (Anyone here read "The Mote in God's Eye" or "The Gripping Hand"?)

Neurological Condition of the Moment
So FoSO sent me a Boston.com article on "face-blindness", or prosopagnosia. I think the implication of the smilie she included with it was that maybe it could explain my tragi-comic inability to differentiate actors as well as my stated habit of identifying people by their hairstyle.

And there might be a little something to that, assuming the condition has varying degrees of severity. But then again, I'm a terrible neurological hypochondriac. In the past I've been given to wonder if I have "shadow" syndromes of (in rough, descending order of "likelihood")
  • Synaesthesia (associating certain numbers with certain letters, like writing my name "KI4K" when I was a kid)
  • Tourettes (the weird, not always profane outbursts in the car I'm prone to at the end of a stress-y workday)
  • Dyslexia (all the time I catchy myself swapping m's and b's while typing... though maybe that's more Synaesthesia?)
  • Prosopagnosia (see above)
  • "Juvenile Onset" Alzheimer's (though it's probably just me being a bit scatter-brained)
  • Aspergers Syndrome (not always being into vague phsical contact... this one is the biggest stretch of them all I'd say)
I'm sure there's some degree of me wanting to be "special" with these things, which must be annoying to people who have full-blown cases of any of them. And some of these aren't even "shadow syndromes", but I think they do let me feel a touch of empathy, because I think I can connect to the source of the condition, especially with something like Tourette's. But obviously, none of this is seriously interfering with my life, so I should stop being so self-coddling. (I still find these, and almost all neurological conditions, really interesting. I need to read that sequel to "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat". The real sequel, not the parody followup "The Man Who Mistook His Ass for a Hole in the Ground")

Snark of the Moment
Lore on The Dos and Don'ts of Livejournal.


(10) bite me!
2006.06.15
Tuesday evening Ksenia and I went with a few of her friends to a grillout at Mystic Lake. (I hadn't know known that there was a small beach there.) It was a great time but we got eateaten alive by mosquitoes. It wasn't too bad but now the tops of my feet (I was wearing sandals) are itching like mad.

And since Wednesday I feel a bit of something coming on, scratchy throat, just feeling a bit bleh... and of course I'm not just a neurological hypochondriac... Lyme's? West Nile? Yikes!

Actually I've heard two different opinions about why you don't hear much about West Nile these days. Tim at works thinks the government has done a good job at eradicating mosquitoes where and when migrating birds (which can be a significant carrier ) flock. My yoga instructor/physician John thinks that at this point many people have been exposed and are now immune, and that overall it wasn't the danger that it was made out to be, at least for non-at-risk groups.

I understand that a virus that's too effective at killing doesn't last all that long, because it flares up and takes out its host group. I still wish I had a sense if there was something intrinsically difficult about having a virus that spread like the flu but had the latency and mortality rate of HIV...

FUN FACT:
Today's mosquito cartoon is a semi-deliberate effort for Kirk to get back into adding cartoons to entries on a regular basis... in part to help justify the purchase of the touchscreen computer he wants to buy!


Scandal of the Moment
Reading about people all up in arms about FEMA debit cards used to buy porn, jewelry, etc just reminds me of that Kathleen Madigan line:
I always give homeless people money, and my friends yell at me, "He's only going to buy more alcohol and cigarettes." And I'm thinking, "Oh, and like I wasn't?"
People are angry with FEMA but I think that the defence they're using is eloquent and true: there's a tradeoff between getting people aid in a timely fashion, and some fraud or waste occurring. Besides, FEMA didn't becomes these people's nannies... I'm sure some people were perfectly eligible for assistance, but given that some might have stayed in New Orleans by choice, they might not be the best decision makers in the world, so buying champagne at Hooters might be par for the course. Or they just need a break!

By the way, are the "Girls Gone Wild" DVDs the "erotica" the headline talks about? Erotica? It's PORN you goofballs! You can tell by the lighting.


(2) i just love stuff
2006.06.16
Just because I love showering my readers with the oddball minutiae of my life, two mediocre photos of two things I find interesting.
   
On the left is a "putt returner" that we have in the office: a dustpan-ish device shaped to guide a golfball into the kickback mechanism in the center, allowing the not-so-busy executive to practice his putting without stooping over. But two days ago I transformed this device into the ANNOYATRON 5000 by the simple expedient of placing it directly against a wall. A golfball placed in the pan would repeatedly ricochet with a series of satisfying thunks until finally the ball would get diverted (sometimes by pushing the pan back away from the wall with the force of the rebound.)

The idea of making a machine recursive so that it could play itself pleases me. It was also fun to see how many consecutive ricochets I could get.

On the right is a MAC Sports "Anti-Gravity Chair". (It's a little more stable than it looks there, I didn't set it up properly for the photo.) I saw it, or something just like it, in a Brookstone but when I went back to consider purchasing one it was gone. It reappeared at the local CVS, however, and while for a time I balked at paying $60 for a piece of outdoor furniture when I didn't really have a chunk of outdoors to want to put it in, today I splurged and then reclined in it while reading a Superman graphics novel on the concrete landing in front of my apartment building.

It might be the most comfortable piece of furniture I own right now, right up there with other people's Adirondack Chairs that I've so admired in the past. I suspect it might be my best bet for sleeping in if/when my back goes funny again.

This is isn't the first time I've considered using outdoor furniture indoors... one unrealized dream in my old house was to use a corner of its massive "Great Room" to harbor one of those Brookstone hammocks.

Link on the Moment
Thanks Miller for introducing me to Stuff On My Cat. It's a website with tons of user-submitted photos of cats. With stuff on them.

Those appear to be some very patient and tolerant cats.

Feature of the Moment
1up.com on the origins of some common game mechanics... I always dig historical views like this. Reminds me that I want to gather some people and 2 extra GBAs for some Zelda: Four Swords one of these days...


(2) i was just following orders!
2006.06.17
Instructions from Lean Cuisine chicken teriyaki stir fry:
Carefully remove tray from microwave and enjoy!
For some reason that final command gives me pause. It reminds me a bit of how my car GPS/navigator system ends its route instructions with something like "Arrive at Destination on Left"... the "arrive" being an order. But with Lean Cuisine, it seems like it's so their customer service people can say something like "You're unhappy with our product and want your money back? Well, sir, it doesn't sound like you were following instructions. The last step for both the microwave and conventional oven is clearly to enjoy. We can't be responsible for your failure to follow clearly written instructions, sir."

Month of the Moment
While throwing together a small calendar demo for work, I came across this Java reference link for UNDECIMBER:
Value of the MONTH field indicating the thirteenth month of the year.
It then goes on to explain how lunar calendars use it. Here's wikipedia on it. But what a wonderful definition to come across during a humdrum workday!


(4) gain 23 pounds in 14 months!
2006.06.18
In a fit of diet geekness and introversion, I went over all the records I could think of, journal entries, Usenet posts, old diet logs, to get as many data points about my weight over the last past decade or so. After failing to figure out how to get a chart in OpenOffice's knockoff of Excel (I hate Excel) I put together some Perl, which was good because I might be making some online tools for shorter term weighted averages, so it was useful experience. What I came up with was this:

The real shocker was how I put on 20 pounds in about a year! I had a reading of 204 from April 6, 2005, and then at the end of this May I was at 227. That's pretty dang quick, and I didn't have an indication that I was stabilizing at some weight up there, so I don't know how high it would have gone. "Recent" low is 179, in late 2001. I'll wait 'til I get around there again and then consult with my doctor and see what my goal weight should be. Might take a while though, easily not until the winter holidays.

Dorky self-cheering of the moment... after looking at these charts, my advice to any investors in Kirk Being So Fat should SELL! SELL!

Culinary Delight of the Moment
Speaking of eating, Daniel Gross wrote
John Snow will have a replacement, and he may very well come from the corporate world. But if it's an A-list Wall Street CEO, I'll buy a copy of Dow 36,000 and eat the first chapter.
and that's exactly what happened. Yum! I like how they prepared it as a salad.


(8) sea food then eat it
2006.06.19
Do restaurants attached to major Aquariums (like the New England Aquarium) serve sea food? Doesn't that seem a bit mean spirited?

Writing of a Previous Moment
Sam's days were full of wonder. There was not a day that went by without an angel. After a while, they seemed quite ordinary.

He hardly ever saw the angels when he was at work. He speculated that there might be something about retail clothing and the divine that just couldn't chime. But walking to or from the bust stop, or at home, there the surface of reality would sometimes twist, like the peel of an orange.

Angels came in all builds. Skinny ones, fat ones, lanky ones, tiny ones, muscular ones, grandmotherly ones, but always with a weird shimmmer-glow. And they were often wrestling with demons, ugly red and black and green monsters that reeked of sewage and ammonia. Sometimes the angel would win, sometimes the demon.

--from Angels and Sam, a story I wrote in college. I dug it up and read it to Ksenia (who's name is almost suspiciously like that of one of the characters) the other night after re-watching one of her favorite videos "City of Angels". I decided to transcribe it yesterday.

Every once in a while I think I should try to really get my prose mojo working again. The trouble is I don't feel like I have a story I just Gotta Write, and then I'm painfully aware of how almost any detail I put in a story is something from life, that I can't make up details (or, generally, even themes and plots) without cribbing from real life or other works.


Birthday of the Moment
Huh, Slate is 10 years old! EB thinks it's all consumer-y and lacks Salon's moral backbone, but...it doesn't have annoying interstitials, and seems to have a high ratio of interesting content, which is index'd in a very good "at a glance" manner.




(4) "hey, ms tambourine gal..."
2006.06.20
Every once in a while I get reminded that there are some parts of Salvation Army culture that would seem very odd to me if I hadn't grown up immersed in it. Most have their roots in the paramilitary "war against sin" format; the uniforms, "ranks" for the "Officer" clergy, calling a church a "corps" and an offering an envelope a "cartridge" (it took me a while to get that joke, since mostly I associated cartridges with Ataris.) Today I was reminded of "Timbrel Brigades"... small groups, mostly young women, who would do synchronized routines with tambourines, most often to some militaristic Salvation Army brass band music (the 'Army has a strong brass band tradition with a lot of marches.) Here's a page on the Playa Ancha Timbrel Brigade with some photos and a little more detail.

Quote of the Moment
"I think that past the age of thirty there is no obligation to be clever at all. Cleverness is a burden after that. You are supposed to settle down and be a good person, raise your children, and be good to your friends, which you may not have been back when you were clever."
--Garrison Keillor quoted in this Slate piece on his appeal. I need to see, or at least netflix, that Prairie Home Companion movie...

Video of the Moment
A parody but supposedly done by Microsoft employees, iPod packaging as redesigned by Microsoft. Wickedly amusing and also with some neat insights into the design and layout process.


(48) entry 2000
2006.06.21
This is my 2000th entry on kisrael.com...yowza!

I prewrote this entry a long time ago... probably around 1600 or there abouts.

Man. 2000. That's quite a lot of stuff!


Job List of the Moment
According to Money Magazine, I've got the best profession in the USA. Or as Rob at work says, "We're Livin' the Dream". And it is a great career in a lot of ways. (On the other hand I am profoundly jealous of the summers off that folk in the #2 slot can get.)


(13) the power of hours
2006.06.22
So I guess yesterday was the solstice. I wish I was more pagan-y and knew how to celebrate it right, because all I'm left with is a sense of "it's all downhill from here", the days will start getting shorter and the nights longer. Still, yesterday was such a beautiful day.

I keep meaning to find a graph, or the numbers to make my own, of sunrise/sunset times throughout a year. Is it like a sine wave or what?

Quote of the Moment
"If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture -- that is immortality enough for me."
--Edward Abbey, via Bill the Splut. I should probably add this to my coping with mortality guide.

Video of the Moment
Back in the 90s I played a demo for this game called Bad Mojo... the player controlled a guy who had done a Kafka... transformed into a cockroach, albeit a normal sized one. It had amazing photo-realistic graphics and motion, really cool. Here's a youtube excerpt of the "Making Of" video where they talk about all the (mis)adventures they had with the creatures brought into the studio... NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH but pretty cool. (If you're in a hurry, just listen to where they start talking about the mice, it's not quite as interesting after that bit.)


(134) apply directly to the forehead
2006.06.23
This week I've been plowing my way through "Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories". It's kind of a grind but I'm enjoying working my way through each mission. I really do enjoy how they overlay these missions on what feels more or less like a real city, a city that could exist for reasons beyond the adventurers I have in it.

Video of the Moment
The commercial for "Head-On" is indeed rather freaky in a scifi dystopia kind of way, just like BoingBoing promised.

Video of a Past Moment

--Just to learn more about the site I put this video of EB and me on the Six Flags' Sky Coaster from 5 years ago (!) on youtube... Originally I kisrael'd this on 9/11, posting before the infamous events of that day.

Unfortunately, youtube cut off the last moment of the piece, which ruins the unplanned musical sting at the end (the quicktime video still has it though)



(9) dvdumb
2006.06.24
Doggone. I swear the ongoing war between "DVD+R" and "DVD-R" is just a conspiracy to get people to buy the wrong type. And wouldn't you know it, the laptops at work at the cool ones that can write either. Though at least in 2003, some guy made the case that DVD+R was superior.

Quote of the Moment
"Cats are not Dogs."
--FoSO last night, at the start of a nice evening of boozing, shmoozing, and karaoke. I said I'd wait 'til Monday to post this, 'til more people are reading kisrael, but I'm in a hurry and low on material...


(11) brigadier frank moody, 1912.07.28 - 2006.05.28
2006.06.25
Yesterday was the memorial service for my Great Uncle Frank Moody. We learned he used to quip that with a name Nathaniel Francis Moody he had all his bases covered... Nathaniel the disciple of Jesus, Saint Francis so revered among Catholics, and the great protestant evangelist DL Moody.

He had been cremated, so there was the urn (a sealed green marble box) at the front, with some photographs of him...when he was young he looked a bit like Valentino, actually. He was a Brigadier in the Salvation Army and so the service was Salvationist, with a small brass ensemble, and everyone singing... the upbeat rendition of Beulah Land with clapping during the chorus (after the presiding officer mentioned Uncle Franks love of shaking a tambourine to that song) was really moving, I think more so than a somber song would have been at that point.

Afterwards I got to catch up with the Scheinfeldt cousins, always a blast. I learned some of them check out this site from time to time, guess I have to watch myself in this place.

Sometimes when I hear scripture these days, I'm struck at the similarities among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam... sometimes I realize that the tone of the Bible is often closer to its "desert religion" roots than the Westernized interpretation I grew up in, a little more harsh, a certain Middle Eastern spiritual vibe. It's hard to put my finger on exactly.

Actually, something in the service made me think about a theological point. One of the readings was from 1 Corinthians, about the resurrection of the dead at the world. But also during the service, the idea that Uncle Frank had already received his place in Heaven was expressed. I've definitely heard more about the second idea, from cartoons about people up at the pearly gates to words of comfort during funerals. The two ideas aren't easily reconciled, though I guess they don't quite contradict each other either.

I got to talking to Ksenia about Russian Orthodox thought. It has a few interesting ideas...after someone's death there's a 40-day period before the person's fate is determined. Friends and Family can pray and try to help the person get into Heaven and not Hell...but then, it sounds like that's not the eternal reward or punishment, but just what goes on until the end of the world, at which point the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ should allow everyone to live in the new kingdom. It's an interesting idea, and I appreciate the relative lack of eternal hellfire.

In reading the full 1 Corinthians chapter, it resolved one thing for me... I that that bodily resurrection is an important idea for many sects, which is why some shun organ donation (that shunning is a tremendous humanist sin, I'd say) and cremation. But verses 35-38 cover that, and use a metaphor how just like you plant a seed, not wheat itself, to get wheat, there might not be a 1:1 correspondance between this body and the next.

Tangent, in writing about this I wanted to find out if the traditional Jewish dislike of tattoos has any roots in an idea about resuurection and I found this page. Ideas like not wanting to echo the tattoos Holocaust as well as "this body is like a loaner car, you want to keep it in good condition" get more play than any talk of resurrection. But I did learn that there's Jewsploitation band, probably a parody of the White Supremicist group Skrewdriver, called "Jewdriver".

Oy.


(1) weaking for the workend
2006.06.26
So I think we've all heard of stuff like the "Feels Like" forecast, what happens when a day "feels like" a different day. The way the family gathered for the funeral Saturday made that day feel like a Sunday. Which seems like it should be great, because you think "man, I'm making out like a bandit! I still have a full day to go!" but it's Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, or maybe even Mugging and Beating and then Robbing Peter and Taking His Shoes to Pay Paul. The Sunday after that never feels like "bonus time" it should, instead it feels like Saturday, and the work week looms like icebergs before the Titanic. You can never work in enough cool stuff that day to avoid the "man, I don't have much time" feeling.

Bad Song of the Moment
Making the rounds a few weeks ago, the Mets' new theme song is truly, truly awful, what happens when white guys discover "this rap thing". While I can appreciate the sentiment behind "Our Team, Our Time", appropriate for a team that's often had to struggle from the shadow of the Evil Empire, the song itself is... whooo. Reviled by fans, that's for certain.

1983 called, it wants its synth orchestra hit back.

Google Wildcard of the Moment
"X called, wants its Y back"... Or should that be 2002 called, it wants its joke structure back?

Advertisement of the Moment
--Back cover dentis advertisement from the back of local Russian television listings. That's, like, the sexiest dental ad I've seen.



(4) bookunmobile
2006.06.27
So Sunday Ksenia's grandfather introduced me to something I had kind of missed (despite the advertisements on public radio,) the New England Mobile Book Fair. It's pretty great! A huge selection, and a great "remainders" section. The weird thing about it, though, is they arrange first roughly by topic, and then by publisher (or maybe the former is a byproduct of the latter?) "By Publisher" isn't the most natural browsing format, though it's not quite as bad in practice as it sounds. Still, the only publishing imprints I care about are DK (who make those supercool hardover image-intensive books about Star Wars and Comic Superheroes etc) and Simon and Schuster's "Fireside" imprint, which I've noticed has a higher than average percentage of cool books.

Overall, though, the whole enterprise doesn't seem terrifically "mobile".

News Piece of the Moment
Americans' circle of close friends shrinking. Man, that stinks. As more of my friends get flung off to far reaches of the country, I've been thinking about working harder on the relationships that are in the area. That actually would have been one of the bad parts of that Senior Residence deal, being stuck further from EB and FoSO... (incidentally, I'm amused, and vaguely concerned, at how the 3 of us have been kind of dominating the sidebar.) In fact, I'm trying to persuade another close friend to consider becoming my flatmate, which would be cool. More on that later as, and if, it develops.

Entertainment of the Moment
Even non-gamers might dig The 50 Worst Video Game Names of All Time. Or, maybe not. Still the comments are nice and snarky.


(6) radical coolectomy
2006.06.28
I think the best thing to say about something that has had all its fun or interesting parts taken out is that it has undergone a "radical coolectomy".

Image of the Moment
The planets of our solar system, allowing you to see the scale of them. From this rense.com page, which has other views, including our sun and other larger stars.

I always assumed Jupiter was even bigger relative to Earth. And the funny thing is, I think I have a feel for the size of the Earth from airplane trips on clear days, where I can see its curvature pretty well. So from there, with this page I can extrapolate to the size of, say, Jupiter, and from there the sun, and I can think that my physical place in the universe isn't quite as tiny as I sometimes assume.

Also, compare this previously kisrael'd HTML scale model of the Solar System, scrolling horizontally to give you a feel for the distance between these planets. But I'd say today's image gives a better feel for the sizes.


(6) flatland
2006.06.29
Dang, having to deal with my first bit of dieting "plateau"... Monday I hit 214.5, where I've been until today, where it snack back up to 215, despite me being "on plan" the whole time. Ah well, it's still a very minor plateau as far as these things go, and if I was measuring weekly with today as "the day" I'd still say I was down a pound for the week, but still.

Ksenia says she can see some visible improvement (and FoSO mentioned likewise on Friday, though thought that it might've been due to me wearing less bulky clothes for summer.) I think I can as well, but damn it, I'm never sure. That's why I'm such a weenie about daily weigh-ins... at my heaviest I can convince myself I look ok, and at my thinnest I still seem to have roughly the same bodyshape... so I crave quantitative measurement and unsolicited opinions.

Body Art of the Moment
Hey, you might not always feel clever, but there's an excellent chance you're better at making life decisions than the people featured in Type Brighter's 3-part Gallery of Bad Tattoos. (WARNING: horribly adorned penis at the bottom of Page 2) One of the most amazing sets belongs to a certain German "Mr. Cool Ice". You can see some stills from a talkshow he visited.


(5) the sci fi idea machine
2006.06.30
To view this content, you need to install Java from java.com
Source code: scifidea
Built with Processing
So recently I read about Georges Polti's list of the 36 Dramatic Situations in literature, the idea that's that's about it for plots. Unforunately, most online versions of the list don't go into much detail. However, Emmadavies.net's Plots for Novels and Stories page does the list justice, and has many other related taxonomies. Thought it turns out it cribbed from this page which lays out the details of the 36 in a wonderful hierarchical fashion. I also found Hatch's Plot Bank, as well as the Big List of RPG Plots.

But what grabbed me the most was Julia West's pages of science fiction ideas, with lots of mix and match elements. The thing was I wasn't crazy about the UI for it, so I made the beast you see to the left. You can click on any of the categories to start it spinning, or on the arrows at the bottom to get them all moving. Hopefully it won't be TOO too taxing for people's computers. All of the content (except for the cartoons there) is stuff that she collected.

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