kirk.is | archive | 2015 aug

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August 1, 2015

August 2, 2015

Good news: My blog, my linked in profile, and my production site seem to be spots 1-3 on Google (not sure if the fact I'm searching from the same geographical area helps that or not.)

Bad news: #4 is a "Kirk Israel" twitter who is not me. And the profile picture is some dude in a hunting outfit posing with a dead deer.

Maybe I need to get back on to twitter, and use "Kirk Israel" instead of my zenlike "Kirk Is".
Pretty good visual month! Highlights are motorboat innertube on the 3rd, fireworks on the 4th, echo-y church chapel on the 10th:

july 2015 new music playlist

August 3, 2015
This marked the month I fiddled around with Apple Music; never again. They should have made it a separate app, this whole conflating of music available locally and via streaming just sucks, and there are a number of weird glitches.

So, an ok month for music, here arranged in rough order of "harsh and electronic" to "soft and acoustic"... it seems like most of these songs fell on one side of that or the other. 4 stars and up marked in red, though as always it's more "stuff I'd like to hear" more than a judgement of the quality of the music.
  • Map of Tasmania (Club Mix) [feat. Amanda Palmer & Peaches] (The Young Punx) I was showing the original to Melissa and this excellent remix, big percussion remix came up.
  • Hey Mama (feat. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack) (David Guetta) Fun Mad Max-themed video
  • Beg For It (feat. MØ) (Iggy Azalea) I know there are a lot of people who don't dig Azalea, but I think she has really good delivery.
  • Scare Me (feat. Peaches & Timberlee) (Major Lazer) I'm kind of a sucker for any song "featuring Peaches"
  • Zeus vs Thor (Epic Rap Battles of History) Legofied Rap Battle!
  • Ex's & Oh's (Elle King) Good sounds - a bit like Paper Girl.
  • I Wish (Skee-Lo) Nice mid-90s hiphop groove, kind of in that party-hip-hop thing that was so big for us in high school.
  • Do Your Thing (Basement Jaxx) Some movie trailer is using this... I've heard it in remixes, but the original is solid too.
  • That Time (Regina Spektor) So cheap and Juicy!
  • Good Old Mountain Dew (The Womenfolk) Weird crackle and pops on the mp3, but a fun country song.
  • Copperhead Road (Steve Earle) Saw this guy live last month... he looks different these days.
  • Sensitive New Age Guys (Christine Lavin) This would be 5x as funny if the chorus said "well it's because we're TOO sensitive"... anyway.
  • Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles) When I "discovered" The Beatles in college, I kind of completely missed "Abbey Road". I'm not crazy about most of the songs, and to be honest this one as well.
  • Close To Me (Minnie Driver) Such a great cover - the album versions a bit cleaner.
  • Wild Horses (The Sundays) Good cover.
  • It's Alright With Me (Harry Connick, Jr.) From an album that was good for making out to in highschool...
  • The Waltzing Fool (Guy Clark) Lyle Lovett's original is mentioned in the book "Set This House in Order"
  • Remember Me (Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses)) Oh man... Many feels, the story of an older parent and a young child.

"Someday a few decades from now, some kid is going to ask me, 'Is it really true that you remember a time before the Internet?' and I'll feel like some wise sage who used to extract information straight from the Earth."
--applepost, https://reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/
Feynman vs Gell-man. Ok, if digging on Feynman and his diagrams isn't hipster enough for you, you should become an acolyte of Murray Gell-man.

I do appreciate the Gell-man's knack for the naming of things, though I wonder if this article is remiss for leaving out Feynman's work on the Challenger explosion investigation.
It's weird thinking that almost all of what I consider both my adult life, and my recorded life (when I got into daily blogging, private journaling, and also started having a camera in my pocket at all times) happened in the aftermath of 9/11. And also, half of that happened before iPhone, and half after.

Time is weird.

August 4, 2015

First Person View of fighting a fire. Scary!

The video CNN will play at the end of the world, for reals.
A pyramid for Jerusalem? More gist for the illuminati minded, I guess...
Am I missing something? I don't see Trump's brand of reality-denying crazy as being much beyond that of garden variety modern Foxish Republicanism. Plus, I think his "straight talk", "I'm rich enough to not be corrupted by politics" demeanor is surprisingly appealing; possibly Reagan-esque in its appeal, except in the decades since Reagan was in office, neocons started acting on what for him was mostly rhetoric and platitudes.
Also, it feels like the mainstream is being really assumptive that he hasn't got a chance. I mean, the Democratic frontrunner is the frontrunner in part because she is very famous and well-known; that's an advantage Trump thwarts. There's a lot of baggage to pick on with Clinton, rightly or wrongly, from Benghazi to the private email server. Trump just has a lot of business crap he doesn't seem to care about.
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone."
--Henry David Thoreau

August 5, 2015

I liked Buzz Aldrin's travel voucher including the trip to the moon. Hope he saved his receipts!

August 6, 2015

Last night I played at Honkin' at the Hatch Shell where the HONK! Disorchestra (a inter-HONK magaband) joined the Landmarks Orchestra for the finale from Aida and then we took the stage for two Italian medleys and then some good ol' core honking....
Here's what the Hatch looks like from the other side...

JP Honk!

Ted Cruz is Nathan Lane minus the charm. And music.

August 7, 2015

Some footage from the Hatch Shell HONK! Disorchestra gig... you can see my tuba bell whirling in the background

August 8, 2015

"There are no happy endings because nothing ends."
--Shmendrick the Magician

slow motion underdogs

August 9, 2015


August 10, 2015

Why Are Cats Attracted to People Who Don't Like Them. I hadn't really thought about the feline "long blink" as a symbol of affection, though I guess I've imitated it in the past.
It's kind of cool how Boston locals can look for 128 and then 495 (the two roads that encircle Boston except for the Atlantic side) when they zoom out on a map -- pretty easily we can get a rough idea of angle and distance as soon as we see one bit of either road. (Kind of like Polar Coordinates...)

August 11, 2015

"My debit card pays for things with past hours of my life, and my credit card pays with future hours of my life."
-- makeitrayne, https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/
This Slate piece makes me feel slightly less weirded out by the Google/Alphabet thing (PS http://abc.xyz is so cute) -- the concept is that it makes it easier to justify Google's oddball "moonshot" tech projects vs having to justify them to investors who'd prefer the focus to solely focus on profitable search and ads and stuff.
When hearing that Rick Perry's staffers are not going to have salaries, I turned back to this guide to remember who he was: A Democrat Handicaps the 2016 Republican Candidates. (Watching the debates, I was wishing Fox was more consistent about captioning people with names. I know I'm a bit face blind but some of these white dudes are tough to keep track of)

August 12, 2015

"The word "bid", in lowercase letters, is vertically symmetrical, but the word "BID", in uppercase letters, is horizontally symmetrical."
--Bowch-, https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/

August 13, 2015

Heath Robinson is a somewhat less-whimsical Rube Goldberg, but with something like Winsor McCay's sense of solidity in his drawing.

Today's sense of how time flies: I've been doing my daily blog ( http://kirk.is ) for around 15 years. (!) Lately I started a UI-specific blog, http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/ ) And by lately I mean around 5 year ago, or about 1/3 as long as sooooo old daily blog.

august blender of love

August 14, 2015

"Though [Trump] built his empire out of his father's empire, he has never suffered from the sense of decorum or noblesse oblige that sometimes accompany inherited money. His style isn't even nouveau riche so much as it is last-week-lottery-winner."
--Jacob Weisberg in writing in Slate
Joel on Software's Fire and Motion essay has been in my head for over a decade.

In it he describes two phenomenon: one is the trouble developers sometimes have getting the actual drudgery of coding underway, and then how unstoppable they can feel when they really get on a roll. (I've heard it likened to a giant rolling stone... tough to get started, but also capable of enormous momentum once it's under way.)

He also describes this as a deliberate strategy companies can employ, keeping the number of checkbox technologies needed so that rivals are always kept with their heads down, meeting new checkboxes, and never able to really fire back.

Sometimes it feels like the famously large mess of javascript frameworks and supporting tools has reached that point. I don't know if it's deliberate or a side-effect of a ton of people with bad cases of NIH (Not Invented Here) and premature abstraction, but it makes my professional life a lot more fraught feeling than I think it would otherwise.
(Random other, newer article from Tal Bereznitskey: 7 lessons Soccer taught me about management)

August 15, 2015

Some cuts from the original short story (and I'm surprised at how detailed I remember the original), but so cool and quirky...

August 16, 2015

Lego!

August 17, 2015

Friday at WTC station on the Silver Line I saw this new public art project - kind of awesome, it uses lenticular trickery so the goldfish change as you look at them from different angles.



Yeah. Been there since 2009. I started working and walking by it nearly daily since 2015.

How much of life do I miss by not paying attention?

Or maybe I can pretend it's my own private Berenst#in Bears Problem and I'm secretly from another slightly more mundane parallel universe.

August 18, 2015

"It's so...lovely. I'm very grateful to be alive, even though I know a lot of dead people."
--Stephen Colbert, in this surprisingly touching GQ interview. This quote reminds me a bit of Morrie Schwartz' "Death ends a life, not a relationship" -- (http://kirk.is/2007/05/10/ for more context)

August 19, 2015

Many thanks to Melissa​ for setting me straight on basic eyeglass cleaning, which I've been surprisingly ignorant of for 25 years. Both my usual default of "hot breath plus shirt tail" and even my "fancy" "water plus paper towel" probably are the cause of most of those little scratches I've put up with. The other really dumb thing is: somehow I got in my head that those little microfiber cloths you get were for use when the glasses were dry. Anyway, water plus one of those cloths will be my go to from now. I've even figured you use the little cloth as a towel, not as a washcloth.

For a kind of smart guy, I can be pretty not smart, for decades at a time.

August 20, 2015


from untitled1point4
The other day Melissa and I played a little hooky to go see the Decordova and then after we collaborated on an interactive art piece.

August 21, 2015

If I was Scottish, "The Church of Kirk" would be redundant.

I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that I am trying to start such an organization.
(repost from FB) WE'RE IN DEMAND BABY!

and we know how to punch above our (considerable) weight. Musically speaking.

August 22, 2015

"1991 is gone already! Time goes faster and faster! And every day, our lives grow shorter!"
"You're such a pessimist ... I like to think every day our lives get longer."
--Arlo & Janis. I just got Jimmy Johnson's collection "Beaucoup Arlo & Janis". It's always been a favorite comic strip of mine, prone to bouts of philosophical bittersweetness and charting a subtle sexiness in the title characters' long marriage.

August 23, 2015


(If you get bored of it, skip to 2:30 for a nice closer)

August 24, 2015

via tumblr

w/ the caption "dammit carl"

August 25, 2015

I'm Sorry I Didn't Respond to Your Email, My Husband Coughed to Death Two Years Ago.
my procrastination jujitsu and the glory days of BASIC...

August 26, 2015

Awesome, pioneering women in software! Right up there with Admiral Grace Hopper:

Margaret Hamilton, lead software engineer of the Apollo Project, stands next to the code she wrote by hand and that was used to take humanity to the moon, 1969.
The times presents a Well-crafted insight into the modern professional music process. One thing this confirms for me is how important the audio attributes of the samples used are; I had a hunch that that was one of the differentiators between the pro stuff and the hobbyist work, and Bieber mentioning how expensive some of the sounds were kind of confirmed it. It also points up the difference between live and studio music; seem a real challenge to put this back on stage. (Which in turn ties into my secret hypocrisy that- with some exceptions- I don't like listening to live music as much as the polished studio stuff. But I sure like making it!)

August 27, 2015

"You can't think seriously about thinking without thinking about thinking about something."
--Seymour Papert, "Mindstorms" - Wonder if LOGO might end up a good bet for helping kids learn he possibility space of computers...
I was talking with Jeremy a bit about computers for kids, he recommended this book. I'd love to see a followup that takes the last 30+ years into account. Like, the BASIC he's most likely talking about is the one with line numbers (tho as he twittered "Say what you will about line-numbered BASIC, it's *incredibly* easy to teach from scratch, one concept at a time") and not the named subroutine stuff that came along in the Amiga era.

One thing LOGO brings to the table is a physicality that might be useful for some folks, just a subjective concrete sense of thing you can mentally ride along with. (Conversely, it's very plotter/line based. You can easily make a "draw circle" routine, but the noun then is a recipe, vs the circle itself as an object... so there's also no easy way of coloring something in, except for maybe a flood fill.)

"Scratch" gets a lot of attention, with the "building blocks" approach ala Lego Mindstorms, though it's been said kids might spent more time fooling around with other people's creations and funny sounds than building their own.

Going over old home computer mags for http://gazettegalore.blogspot.com/ reminds me what a special era it was... having BASIC be both the door to running more advanced programs as well as something you could make your own stuff in was great. LOGO (and stuff I code up in, like Processing) is always in a walled garden of sorts, while BASIC made you feel much closer to "the metal" so to speak.

Anna Anthropy wrote http://boingboing.net/2015/08/24/a-game-making-app-for-everyone.html ... recently, I'm reading it now. Some neighboring thoughtspace of this stuff I'm thinking about; though (roughly) her focus is more on friendlier tools as a means to the end of games and creating in general, and I see games as a means to the ends of picking up coding skills that I've found rewarding these years.
This place is definitely in the top three for view from places I've worked... probably the very top

August 28, 2015

F'in Gyroscopes, How do they work? For reals.

August 29, 2015

Little known Tom Lehrer Red Line Song... too bad the stop names changed!

August 30, 2015

"If the month has an 'R' in it I'm cold!"
--Janis, in Arlo & Janis. Some how this observation seems both new and obvious to me. Is it the origin of all those "any day that ends with y is good for drinking" style parodies?
RIP Oliver Sacks...

August 31, 2015

Picture of me showing an "Etch-A-Sketch Animator" (with both of us in matching HONK! shirts) to my Super-Niece Cora. Once I got over how weirdly big my head looked in it, it reminded me of and caused me to dig up a photo of me and my dad when I was around 3. There's some parallel in the adult-paying-attention-to-child aspect (even if both are 'Kirk saying hey let me show you this')





Also: that photo was right next to


which reminded me of another recent favorite

(of course she's about 2 years younger than I was, I think that's a promising sign)
"For love, it seems, is like the peacock's tail: blind, yet full of eyes."
--Rachel E. Gross, in this Slate piece on peacock tails and sexual selection
Years ago I posted a link to this article, and while the title leaves a to be desired, it really does make me think about how perfect some Game Boy sprites were...
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