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the abominable tale of mr. snowman at the s+s 2006.12.24 
So last night I went to the S+S with Miller, Kate, and Tammy. We decided to do a round of "Mr. Snowman", a game Mr. Ibis independently taught to both Miller and me. "Mr. Snowman" is a collaborative kind of game for 2 or more players, where half the people draw attacks (melting or otherwise) of the snowman that has been drawn, and the other half draw defenses to counter the various attacks. (At that point, the attacking team can try a new attack, or draw a counter to the counter, and so on and so forth.)

We made a 4-player variant, with Kate and I defending the attacks drawn by Tammy and Miller. Ideally this game is played at one of those restaurants with paper tablecloths and crayons, or at least paper placemats, but I suppose sticking with the napkin at hand made for some easier scanning.

This was the result of the first round:

I started by drawing the hapless Snowman. Miller quickly drew a basic bonfire underneath for insidious melting purposes. Kate countered with rain above to douse the flames.

At this point there was a fork... a bit later in the game, Miller drew an umbrella to let the flames continue their nefarious work, to which Kate had no choice but to draw a helpful dog on mailbox pushing a bucket of water to extinguish that damn bonfire. A bit later Miller invoked the "it's ok to make fun of your own culture" rule and drew a Filipino restaurant (top right) to turn the poor dog into lunch. Kate then drew a health inspector to close the restaurant and that was the end of that thread.

The other fork was Tammy upgrading the storm with thunder and lightning, there on the left. I deftly drew Benjamin Franklin to bring the fearsome electrical energies into his famous kite and key. I believe Miller than drew a large quantity of butter to lure Ol' Ben to an early coronary grave. Kate decided to fight butter with more fire to melt it. Miller thought this could be the perfect time to draw in some lobster, but Kate argued that it didn't seem like a single lobster would be that unhealthy of a food, and so this thread ended, and the Snowman lived on!

At some point Tammy drew a stick of dynamite (ignominiously jammed into the Snowman's side) with a trailing fuse wire and plunger box, and arrows showing the plunger being pressed. I ignored Miller's suggestion to merely redraw the arrows going the other way, and instead drew how the plunger was being operated by (a very, very poorly drawn version of) Wile E. Coyote. Mr. Snowman is a bit loose with temporal issues, so I felt ok showing both Wile E before pressing the plunger, and after, where he's a big exploded mess holding a sign saying "OUCH".

Tammy drew a very lovely dragon, slain by my less lovely St. George. She also drew an oncoming train. I drew a damsel in distress, tied to the rails, and then a hero to throw the switch that would divert the train. In a nod to the non-hetero-normative make up of our group, I decided the hero(ine) was actually Delila Do-Right, said Damsel's girlfriend. It may have been at this point that Tammy bemoaned about being seated right before me in the rotation, given my MAD THWARTING SKILLZ, though admittedly I seem to have more than my fair share of celebrities fighting for my cause.

When Tammy later drew a letter from the hospital informing Mr. Snowman that he had Cancer, I had to counter with an IV drip for chemotherapy, and would have made our survivor snowman bald, except that he was already. (There was some talk of drawing a phonecall indicating that the letter was a prank, but that seemed a little abstract to me.)

The other long thread was Tammy realizing that the poor beleaguered snowman was despondent, and suicidal, and firing a gun into his own head! I was able to draw the bottle of booze responsible for both this rash decision and for causing the snowman to miss. However, Miller pointed out that it wasn't a bottle of booze, but non-alcoholic swill of some sort, possibly O'Doules. Kate then drew the box of blanks that the gun had actually been loaded with. (I think, chronologically, this may have been when the cancer letter occurred, with the idea that the letter may have provoked the suicidal thoughts.) Later Miller drew a newspaper with a story telling of how those blanks were being recalled...for being live ammunition after all! Kate then drew a blowtorch to sever the snowman's gun arm entirely. The rest of the table thought this was a pyrrhic victory, but what the hell, it's just a snowman, and it shouldn't be that hard to find a replacement stick anyway.

But, alas, the endgame was nigh. Tammy drew a large firecracker going, as she said, "up his butt". My lack of attention proved sadly fatal, as I didn't look at what she had placed new on the page and, based on her comment, thought she was talking about the dynamite sticking into his side (with the Wile E. defense, I had been more focused on the plunger.) So my not-so-clever scissors snipping the fuse was for naught, and given how we had pretty much filled the napkin anyway, we decided that that was the end of poor Mr. Snowman. I have to believe that he's in a better place.

Anyway, I heartily recommend this game as a great accompaniment to nearly any restaurant meal.

wheedle a weasel whistle 2003.02.13 
Hrrm, bit of a spike in frontpage hits yesterday, wonder why.

UPDATE: According to the analysis of my Referer log, I've gotten over 150 hits by people searching for variations on "cheese eating surrender monkeys", which I used as a title Monday. Guess that explains it. (The phrase comes from a Simpsons quote, Groundskeeper Willie teaching a French class, that has been adopted by the right wing media lately.)

Quote of the Moment
"Weaseling out of things is what separates us from the animals. Except for weasels, I guess."
--Homer Simpson. (Quoted by Ranjit, I've found a few wordings of it online, but his is funniest.)

News of the Moment
Osama (might be) vowing to die a martyr in the next year or so. Idle speculation: he is dead, these tapes are coming from an impersonator, and they don't think they can keep it up. There was that big todo over that last tape, and while our officials declared the real deal, some scholars in other countries weren't as sure. Of course, this is just random speculation, take it with a grain of salt.

Image of the Moment
--Inspired by a Conan O'Brien monologue (explaining to Bush that the transition was from Bert to Ernie.) Very soothing, hey?

Headline of the Moment
North Korea Wants Arms and More Aid From U.S. At first I thought they were asking from arms from the USA, which would be kind of funny. Even still it's a weird headline. But mostly, I want to comment on Kim Jong Il. They says he's a bit of a playboy, and you know what? He looks it. Like an evil bon vivant, and I'll bet you his constant sunglasses and swept back hair are the epitome of North Korean cool. He's straight outta a James Bond flick. Err, Austin Powers. Well, how about some kooky villain in a Japanese fighting game?

It's interesting how nuclear proliferation might change the world situation, impinging on what the USA can do as "sole superpower". I don't think the danger is the missiles though, it's smuggled nukes, whether by nations or by independent groups.
to sleep perchance 2001.05.22 
1 comment 
Link of the Moment
This is so cool... a dream I sent in got selected for illustration on Jesse Reklaw's Slow Wave site. (Here's a local copy.) People say it's a good likeness. Sigh. I always forget how big my lips must look... also it's funny, I think at I sent in this image (in negative) to show him what I looked like. His drawing of me has a shirt barely open over a darker t-shirt, a style I mostly wore in college, and also it's pretty rare that the T was darker than the overshirt. Ah well, it's still really cool (and a little surreal) to be able to relive a dream like that. It's a really fascinating site, illustrating dreams that people send in. You can recognize the strange logic dreams have as you click through the archive.

Dreams are so hard to remember. I know they have a device that can wake you up just as a dream starts, and that's bad for your mental health. I wonder if they could make a machine to gently wake you just after you've had a dream, so that it would be more possible to record it.

Quote of the Moment
"If making it in the real world doesn't involve sleeping until noon and playing frisbee all day, I'm totally screwed"
--from Rejected Letterman Top Ten Lessons I Learned in College
yer such a card! 2002.03.01 
Business Cards of the Moment
For the networking I'll need to for my jobhunt, I thought I'd print up some personal business cards. This is the design I ended up with:
Dylan took the idea and ran with it. (and by chance, ended up with the Event Zero (my previous employer's) colors) I ended up worrying about how much orange potential was in my printer so I didn't print up any models, but it's an interesting idea:
Later, talking with Ranjit, I mentioned my idea of using my old ASCII self-portrait for a card, and he pointed out that Figlets (big ASCII-character based fonts, here's an interesting toy for 'em) are underused on business cards, and sent me the text for the below:
Hmm, maybe I should save that for my alter-ego, "Cap'n Old School".

Link of the Moment
Speaking of Old School, Nanoloop is a Gameboy ROM that lets you make techno on a Game Boy in realtime. Some interesting song samples here, maybe someday I should try my hand at it.
twist shout and sauertkraut 2002.03.03 
Link of the Moment
Ranjit pointed out as an example of "things you didn't think need their own domain name". Or their own Message Board or Club ("What other sauerkraut club would you join?") either, for that matter. The Health Info page is kind of's not actual nutrional information, just a solicitation for comments about the health benefits of sauerkraut. Ranjit considered chiming in with "My eyebrows were upside-down until I ate sauerkraut!", a concept that has been stuck in my head ever since he mentioned would you tell if your eyebrows were upside-down anyway? Is there a chance that mine are and I just haven't realized it?

More Business Cards of the Moment
Sarah of the UK accent and great hair decided to get in on the act of making a business card for me. It looks a bit 70s to me, like the computer exhibits at Disney's Epcot...
Finally, I found this design I made for myself (but never really used) about 5 years ago. Funny how much I emphasized my websites, I guess back then it was a little rarer to have your own domain:
nuts of dough 2005.03.07 
Fortune Cookie of the Moment
Don't expect romantic attachments to  
    be strictly logical or rational!
   Lucky Numbers 6, 7, 26, 27, 36, 37
--Fortune Cookie Fortune that I've been carrying in my wallet for a while, I transcribed it for the latest issue of the Blender of Love Digest.

Article of the Moment on the staying power of Dunkin Donuts. I admit I've always kind of liked its blue collar vibe...there was a time when Mo and I would head out, she'd get something from Starbucks, and I'd get something from the Dunkin Donuts two doors down. The article is right about the crap-tacular ambience of DD, but misses the way that for a lot of people, it's strictly a "To Go" kind of place...I'm pretty sure the car is the predominant dining area for the chain.

Ksenia mentioned some rumor that Dunkin Donuts adds hormones to make their product more addictive or something. I couldn't find any talk about this idea on Google, though I wonder if non-hormone-free cream for the coffee counts...

Link of the Moment
FoSO's SO MoSO reminded me of, proof positive that Superman is such a dick.

ipod upod we all pod for ipod 2004.03.10 
So I got an iPod yesterday. It's a bit on the excessively trendy side, but you know. "Consumer Electronics are the balm for my divorce stricken soul." I'm counting it as an early birthday gift to myself, since one thing I'd like to do is use it for my birthday party. I got the car kit as well, since I have high hopes it might finally be able to solve my music-in-the-car problems, that old CD juggling act.

Being able to put my entire CD collection in such a tiny little's pretty amazing. But besides the road music and trendy group identification, I'm hoping it will bring me back to my music collection in a way I've lost. I just haven't been listening to CDs that much lately. Of course, it won't be like the old days anyway; I'm not much of a music purist, but it seems like the iPod encourages people to treat songs as free floating atoms, not as part of larger album molecules.

You know, it's been years and years since I've regularly used a personal stereo. There are definite issues of "I'm in my own space here" when you do, but mostly, it's odd to be bopping down the hallway jiving to my old tunes. It makes me think I don't have enough music in my life right now. had an article on the iPod ads (the same ones I imitate above with an old favorite picture of me.) Though the article points out the use of shadows risks making the product more important than the people, I think it misses how what's cool about those ads is how great those people are dancing, something the diamond ads were missing.

Oh, by the way, Apple Stores are kind of weird, such an odd try at a mass-market boutique. (Which was also strongly reflected in the packaging of the iPod, kind of like origami. Even the shopping bags are high end, strong plastic, with drawstrings looping all the way through, top and bottom, I guess you could use it as a backpack.) Part of me realized that the Apple Store is really the place to go if you have a strong urge to be sold a computer by a cute gay person.

Quote of the Moment
"We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers."
--Carl Sagan. Of course, it feels a little goofy having such a majestic quote after a big article about my new toy...what was my question and answer yesterday? "Would I like an iPod?" "Heck yeah!"

Link of the Moment
Bill pointed out a group livejournal dedicated to making fun of bad fanfiction. Fan fiction, such an odd phenomenon...
the geek bomb-diggity 2004.05.03 
1 comment 
Update of the Moment
In yesterday's comments, Max expressed surprise that techies/nerds would look down on plain old text files on the desktop for "to do" tracking....Au Contraire! Check out the notes from "Life Hacks: Tech Secrets of Overprolific Alpha Geeks" -- text files are the geek bomb-diggity, especially because they're so non-proprietary.

Supposedly some geeks like excel, but I think it's pretty evil. Just unfriendly and clearly designed for office dronefolk, not with an engineering mindset. For that kind of thing, I either use tab delimited text files with Perl to do my dirty work, and I also made this one really fun online database that makes it trivial to make small one-table databases, complete with custom UIs. I keep meaning to get that in release-able shape.

Proclamation of the Moment
A Proclamation:

By the Power invested in us,
We, Sofia Lemieux, declare ourselves
to be Sofia I, Empress of Cantabrig-
ia, (the territory formerly known as
Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the
United States of America.)
In the interest of maintaining local customs upon meeting us, bowing is not required.
Her Royal Highness, Sofia I, Empress of Cantabrigia
--This was posted near Harvard Square, and put on the windshield of many cars parked there. Somehow, it increases my desire to live closer to Cambridge once I sell the house. I'm sure Waltham has its own crazies, but they're generally not as productive as this.

Nice eyepatch. I wonder if she traded it for wisdom like Odin, or just lost it in some kind of fight.

Science of the Moment
Tool Use in Animals (from Dr. Robert Cook at my alma mater Tufts.) Neat stuff.

Pop Culture of the Moment
Slate's Guide to Gurus. The UI is annoying (I would have preferred one big table) but the content is worth a browse.
back from the land 2004.07.07 
So, I'm back from Cleveland. I realized that most of the photos I took wouldn't be of such wide interest to most of the kisrael crowd, so I decided to be a little selective.

Now, I almost hesitate to post this in case someone gets the idea that Cleveland is less urban or urbane than it actually is. In general, I guess it runs a bit on the conservative side, at least relative to us here in Taxachussetstan. Still, I was strucky by this Jeep rear window:

Two Irish flag decals plus an American flag with "No Vacancy" over it. Now, I'm more or less ok with a strong devotion to ethnic heritage even though I'm just a WASP-mutt, but do you think this person has a deep understanding of the history of Irish-American immigration, and the way the rest of the country responded to it at the time?

Anyway, in more amusing topics, we threw Mike a birthday party. Here he is wearing a mask with the eyeholes blacked out and his special birthday crown:

Dialog of the Moment
"I've got a mask on that's duct-taped to my face, I'm wearing a silly hat, I've got a wand in one hand, a beer in the other, and I've got explosives in my pocket."
"That sounds like a perfect evening."
--Mike and Me Saturday's the cameraphone video of it.
geek of the week 2005.08.13 
Even thoough I have tons of stuff I "should" be doing, from decluttering my apartment to attending to the loveblender, I've been spending my freetime "tecnoslacking", not playing video games, though come to think of it, it is assembling tools and information about games.

I made one page that aggregates the results from 5 "Top 100 Video Games of All Time" lists...EGM 1997 and 2002, Game Informer 2001, and 2003 and 2005. Here's the top ten from the "powerlist" I assembled.
  Name EGM
1. Tetris        \/ 1 \/ 1 \/ 1 /\ 1
2. Super Mario 64        \/ 1 12 \/ 7 /\ 7 =
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past        = 23 \/ 20 /\ 17 11 \/ 5
4. Super Metroid        /\ 5 29 \/ 28 /\ 26 10 \/ 7
5. Street Fighter II        13 \/ 8 22 \/ 9 10 /\ 12 /\ 2
6. Super Mario Bros. 37        22 /\ 15 /\ 20 /\ 1 =
7. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night 12        /\ 8 18 \/ 14 17 /\ 1 16 /\ 1
8. Chrono Trigger 29        26 /\ 3 15 /\ 11 12 /\ 3 13 \/ 1
9. Super Mario Kart 15        44 \/ 29 35 /\ 9 14 /\ 21 15 \/ 1
10. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time --          11 \/ 3 /\ 9 =
I made it so you can compare any subset of the 5 lists, like to see how EGM changed, or just to view a single rating by itself.

I'm also working on a basic tutorial for writing music on the Atari 2600 (called "do re bB", bB being the batari BASIC language it's focusing on.). I'm pretty proud of this little HTML keyboard I made for a web front end to a "calculate the note" command line program called "Tune2600"...
You can see the full keyboard at webTune2600.
quick 20 2005.09.03 
Kirktrivia of the Moment
  1. i had to go pee before writing this
  2. i'm dating a nice gal from Russia right now
  3. I checked the starting time with the little LCD display on my desk phone, even though I guess the clock on my laptop would've worked just as well
  4. I spoke with a calypso accent at first, learning to speak on the island of St. Thomas in the virgin islands.
  5. therefore my first words to my (probably racist, and not happy about his grandkid talking like an islander) were "Heyyyyyy Poppa Samm" -- you have to imagine the accent for that I'm afraid
  6. I don't like it when my wrists get warm from my laptop
  7. i think prose is better than poetry
  8. i'm not very romantic despite running the romance poetry community website "blender of love"
  9. I have the domain "" so that should be a valid domain
  10. i like to drink a lot of water but haven't landed on a vessel I'm truly happy with. Right now I'm using a big plastic tumbler, which carrries a risk of tumbling. before this i tried gallon jugs and reusing clear plastic soda bottles, but the jugs are tough to clean out and the bottles are kind of skanky and don't hold much water
  11. i think i'm about as heavy as i've ever been
  12. i can seal my nostrils just by inhaling hard, and also flare them at will. the former always gets more laughs, even though as a kid I thought the latter was more impressive and unique
  13. I don't think I have the writing cajones to be a famous writer.
  14. I'm a touch neurotic. I'm prone to very intermitent anxiety attacks.
  15. The attacks seemed to get there start around Y2k anxieties in 1998 or so, but they find various subjects to latch on to from time to time.
  16. I'm paralyzingly afraid of proof coming out that I'm not the smartest guy in the room. I'd rather not try and fail then try and fail and prove my lack of inborn greatness.
  17. Diet Coke with Lime is my favorite soft drink, the one I'll probably grab when presented with a full array at a store
  18. I've been to Canada, Mexico, Portugal, England, and Germany. Curiously I've never been west of the Mississippi in the USA, except maybe for a half-forgotten airport stop on route to Mexico.
  19. I sometimes feel like I'm in a low level digital photography contest with my ex-wife. I've been doing it a lot longer but she recently went the fancier camera route. I don't think she knows about this.
  20. I changed fact #2 to make it less incriminating. (the subject changed completely, it wasn't about my romantic life at all previously)
--Response to a "Write 20 Random Facts (true or not)" in morecake's livejournal. Supposedly then you're allowed or supposed to ask many people to do likewise as minutes it took....12 in my case. Mmmmm....EB, FoSO, LAN3, Lex, 'ELM, 'ELAS, Mr. Ibis, Beau, Sarah, Nick B, ErinMaru, Aparajita...feel free to try it, it's kind of amusing. (Dylan too but I don't even know if he's around and about.)

16 is one of my biggest character flaws, previously references (top quote there.) 19 is of course patently silly, and also previously noted

pop culture 2005.09.11 
Movie of the Moment
A brief video of a bunny trying to find love with a balloon. Personally, I think having a lover disappear like that would be a most distressing experience.

Sleepy Talk of the Morning
A bit of early morning conversation between Me and's just PG-13, and not in a personal way, but Mom filter engaged, highlight text with mouse or hit Ctrl-A to read.
<filter type="mom" tip="highlight text with mouse or hit ctrl-a to read">
"We need to get up."
"Ehhrmmmmm....not yet."
"No we have to get up."
"What time is it?"
"Like 8."
"Guh, you're right."
"Of course. I'm always right."
"No, I'm always right!"
"That's a good point. You are the sun of rightness, and I am merely the moon, just reflecting a bit of your rightness at night."
"You're right New York City, and I'm merely right New Jersey. You're the Eiffel Tower of rightness, and I'm the Arc de Triomphe."
"You're a great big garbage dump of right, and I'm only a little toxic stream running off of it."
"I liked the sun and the moon thing better."
"You're the penis of rightness, and I'm just the pubic hair around it. No,'re the vagina of rightness, I'm just the bellybutton of rightness."
"But the clitoris of truth is: we have to get up, like now."
"OK I'm going!"

bumper2bumper 2005.10.17 
Bad Game Idea of the Moment
--I made up this (poor) mockup for this AtariAge thread about "Games you would never play". The scary part is the name and idea is something I came up with in 1997 on 1997.
5! = 1·2·3·4·5 2005.11.09 
Geek Snarkery of the Moment
A friend gave me a photocopy of a worksheet from a programmer job interview, the contents of which I'm transcribing here. I've tried to be reasonably fair; arguably I should could be generous and use * in place of ·, since this was handwritten, but given all the absolute conceptual failures and mental disconnects, I'm leaving it as is.

So the interview "challenge" was to write a factorial function. Now, I don't know exactly how well or poorly the problem was described by the interviewer, but given the first line, probably copied from a whiteboard, I'm assuming it was pretty straightforward. Here's what the sheet had on it...most of the strikes are circular scribble-outs:
5! = 1·2·3·4·5

public string access(string 5! a)
    string b = a.substring(0,1);
    Int int c = b String.getValue(b);
    if(c < 2){
    } else if (c < 3){
    } else if (c < 4){
I know that won't mean anything to non-geeks, but the layer on top of layer of sheer "Not Getting It" is a real jawdropper. (I went ahead and placed an attempt to list all (or at least most of) the problems as the first comment) For someone aspiring to a Java development position, and who must've sounded at least possibly decent on the phonescreen...supposedly the person has multiple masters degrees in science-y and computer-science-y fields, both from good local Universities.

In case you think I'm being unfair, here is a link to the actual handwritten response.

Dialog of the Moment
"Wait, wait. Time, a landing field. Death needs time like a junkie needs junk."
"And what does Death need time for?"
"The answer is so simple. Death needs time for what it kills to grow in..."

--William S. Burroughs, via this Katrina-related BoingBoing piece.

Politics of the Moment
Fun if rude-n-crude rant about Bedtime for BonzoBush...he blew off a 2-hour lunch meeting because the night before the Argenentinian schedule pushed events past his bedtime. Poor pumpkin! What a loser we have for president, and I don't just mean the popular vote in 2000. Maybe it's a good thing Cheney's really the guy in charge, then.

knock knock 2005.12.22 
I was giving Ksenia some grief about the way she might have to work at the temple on Christmas Day...she's culturally ethnically Jewish but Russian Orthodox in practice. Of course, the 25th isn't Orthodox Christmas anyway.

At any rate, she got the hiccups as we were walking through Harvard Square, and I suggested maybe it was God punishing her, either for being a fence-sitter like that, or for being mean to me and tricking me into carrying the bag from 7-11. So I started telling Knock-Knock jokes:

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"

and then a bit later, down the street:
"Knock Knock."
"...Who's there?"

Finally as we were almost back to the car:
"Knock knock."
"Knock knock!"
"Fine, who is there?"
"A cute little kitten!"
"A cute little kitten who?"

So I'm not sure which Hell I'm going to end up in, but one of them.

Gripe of the Moment
Last year I griped about how dumb Window's file finder had become. Well, Outlook 2003 seems to be campaigning for a place on my S***list. It's just trying so darn hard to be helpful...rearranging the taskbar buttons for messages I'm composing, closing the window of an email I was composing but navigated away from, and tucking it safely away in the sent folder...bleh! So inconsistent with anything else I've ever used! And now it has some of the same "lets make search results look like regular content" that plagues Window's file this case they have a nice filter-looking search, but there's not an obvious visual cue that the filter is being applied. This means you can happily think "oh, no new mail lately" when what's really happening is "no new mail that meets the keywords you were searching for."


todo tada 2006.03.07 
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.
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".
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?

orange you glad i didn't say banana 2006.03.17 

something's fishy 2006.05.13 
Political Potshot of the Moment
"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake."
--Bush when asked about the high point of his presidency by a German newspaper, according to this article. Now, this would either be a world-record setting perch, a lie, a mistake, or a mistranslation. (Later transcripts possibly correct it to "bass") But even giving him the benefit of the doubt, I reserve the right to be annoyed by the tone of his response, the blasé approach to the highest office of the land. (via Bill the Splut)

Crappy Photoshopping of the Moment
--Man, I gotta get me some better tools for doing this kind of thing... this could also be a good bumper sticker for Air Force One...

tiddley, your tummy pal 2006.05.25 
Yesterday my coworker let loose with a mighty sneeze, one on par with my own. Some of the other coworkers commented, and I mentioned that a "sneeze like that is nothing to sneeze at." Not my finest humor moment, but hey.

So what is something to sneeze at? One coworker suggest pepper, or pollen, but I don't think causing a sneeze is the same as being sneezed at, despite the likely proximity.

All lame jokes aside, it is an odd expression. I guess sneezing could be construed as a sign of insufficient respect, but hey... when you gotta sneeze, you gotta sneeze.

E-mail excerpt of the Moment
(After some talk about yesterday's diet-related kisraeling, and how even though Zippos are great fidgits I really shouldn't even joke about taking up smoking as a diet aid.)

>>>>Sometimes I find myself wishing
>>>>that I had a tapeworm or something though :-)


>>clearly you haven't seen enough cute, cuddley,
>>muppety cartoony tapeworms.

>again, 'eeeeeeewwwwwww!!!!!!!!!'

No, really, take a look!

--Me and FoSO. Of course, there is nothing new under the sun, and every good idea you have is probably already done somewhere on the Internet.

Personal News of the Moment
Just got the news from my boss...

Sure I'm just going to waste it, but still.... FOUR DAY WEEKEND!
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,
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)

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)

the more clever you *think* you sound... 2006.08.15 
I've been carpooling with Tim since I started my new job. The conversations during the trip make it worthwhile... often techie, sometimes political, almost always geeky...

This morning we were talking about the popularity and feature set of various OSes. (Random side note... I've noticed a lot of Russians who say that's short for "Operational System". Funny how I notice that "ing" to "ional" change so much, even though it barely makes a difference in meaning.) He's a strong Linux advocate on many fronts, using Windows because he has to for work (though even there he uses OpenOffice instead of Microsoft's offering, and is delighted that no one ever seems to notice) and for games, while I'm kind of a Windows guy, sort of coasting on the way Windows really was a superior alternative in 1995.

I consider myself a bit of poweruser with OSes, very deft in several areas, from commandline quick-and-dirty scripts in Unix and Windows to setting up shortcuts in ways that let me start most of my favorite applications in 2 keystrokes (but without relying on 3rd party installs), from using Windows without a mouse (a skill honed from when I was leaning wayback in a papasan chair and couldn't reach the mouse easily) to just generally flying around the various folders throughout my harddrives.

When it comes to UIs in general, I tend to be intensely conservative. I dial back Windows XP so it looks the way 95 did. OSX and various flavor os Linux GUI have never really clicked for me. I still use this ancient version of Paint Shop Pro that I've been using for a decade, despite some limitations and irritations with it. You would think I would have the skills to pick up these new systems fairly easily, but I realize there's a single underlying theme in all of this... I'm good at the UI I use not because it's a good UI, or I like UIs, but because the UI of the OS is intensely uninteresting to me, strictly a means to an end, and any time I notice or think too much about the UI, it's probably a bad thing. Similarly, I don't like Mr. Ibis' route of customizing Windows desktop to "powerize" them, because then I'd be more dependent on those modifications, and my skillset less transferable to other people's PCs, as well as uppping what it takes to feel comfortable in a new workspace of my own.

Video of the Moment

--by "MissQOKC"... she wrote me and mentioned embedding my quotes in a little video she made. She was kind of apologetic about it, saying she was just taking her son Johnny Mack's viewpoint but thought the quotes were good. I think they're both right. UPDATE: dang, the one day I pick to post this is the one youtube is down for repair or upgrades or something....

Quote of the Moment
[On Billy Beane realizing that many good baseball players are discarded by the major leagues because they don't look like good players] The latter discovery in particular struck a chord with me because my football career has been blighted by exactly that sort of prejudice. English scouts visiting my Friday morning five-a-side game have (presumably) discounted me on peripheral grounds of age, weight, speed, amount of time spent lying on the ground weeping with exhaustion, etc.; what they're not looking at is performance, which is of course is the only thing that counts. They'd have made a film called Head It Like Hornby by now if Billy Beane were working over here. (And if I were any good at heading, another overrated and peripheral skill.)
--Nick Hornby, "The Polysyllabic Spree"

in the zones 2006.10.04 
For a while now... maybe since Dylan moved to San Diego... I haven't had any trouble keeping Timezones straight for the USA. But yesterday one of the guys at work gathered people for a teleconference 4 hours too early because he did the math wrong for the Mountain time zone. (subtracted 2 when he should have added)

My trick involves a certain physicality: in effect, it's as if I'm overlaying the United States on the top half of a clock:
Then, it's easy to grasp how a mental timezone journey's west sets the clock back one hour. Each hop to the west has a matching hop backwards on the clock. (Hopefully my super-crude diagram makes things more clear, not less.)

Prior to this, I also mixed up how many hours back to go for, say, California time... I have little problem recalling that the country has 4 timezones, but before this "3 hops back system" it was easy to make what computerists call a fencepost error and subtract 4 instead of 3.

PS Am I crazy in remembering that Windows used to have a much niftier "timezone" interface that would highlight the area of the timezone as you selected it, and maybe even let you select a timezone by clicking on your area? My install of XP has a select list and then a static map of the world beneath, with no obvious interaction between the two. It almost feels as if some retarded patent stopped Microsoft from having the niftier UI.

Quote of the Moment
"I read the book of Job last night. I don't think God comes well out of it."
--Virgina Woolf. Synchronicity: David Plotz' Blogging the Bible makes it sounds like the book of Joshua can have a simlar effect.

mach daddy 2006.10.07 
So a couple of years ago I sang the praises of my Garmin 2610 GPS...

It's getting a bit long in the tooth (compared to say, the TomTom I got for my mom recently, with its 3D-ish angled maps and friendlier UI) but remains generally reliable. Admittedly its maps are blissfully ignorant of the post-Big-Dig world, and I'm too cheap to shell out for the update, but still, having this kind of device is a huge boon... it is to Mapquest what cellphones are to landlines, and I barely understand how people made spontaneous plan changes without 'em.

Anyway, back then I mentioned its "Max Speed" record, which I likened to a "high score" feature. Well, all I have to say is:
Max Speed: 2492

Beat that. I just wish it had a spot for my initials.

look at all that action! 2006.10.24 
So yesterday my coworker Rob showed me this piece of art he had bought off of his son:

"Untitled" by James Young (Click for Fullsize)
The original asking price had been a dollar and ten cents. During the negotiations, dismayed at his dad's lowball offer of a quarter, young James pointed out "but look at all that action!". The final agreed upon price was a dollar.

And the Artist was correct... that's a heck of a lot of action:

I really liked some of the monster design:
Rob's a shrewed negotiator. This work was definately work at least the original asking price.

j'aime, je n'aime pas 2006.11.14 
I was thinking about that Amélie movie like/dislikes thing, a clever little way of painting characters it used. I remember seeing a blog entry playing off of it years ago...I decided to start by looking up what the original ones were:

Amélie's father, Raphaël Poulain doesn't like
  • peeing next to somebody else.
  • noticing people laughing at his sandals .
  • coming out of the water with his swimming suit sticking to his body
Raphaël Poulain likes
  • to tear big pieces of wallpaper off the walls
  • to line up his shoes and polish them with great care
  • to empty his toolbox, clean it thoroughly, and, finally, put everything away carefully.
Amélie's mother, Amandine Fouet, doesn't like
  • to have her fingers all wrinkled by hot water.
  • when somebody she doesn't like touches her,
  • to have the marks of the sheets on her cheek in the morning.
She likes
  • the outfits of the ice-skaters on TV.
  • to shine the flooring.
  • to empty her handbag, clean it thoroughly, and, finally, putting everything away carefully.
Suzanne, the landlady, likes sportsmen who cry from disappointment.
She doesn't like it when a man is humiliated in front of his kid.
The tobacconist is Georgette, the hypochondriac. She doesn't like to hear "le fruit de vos entrailles est béni."
Gina, Amélie's colleague, granddaughter of a healer likes to crack her fingers.
Hipolito, the not-successful writer, likes is to see a bullfighter getting gored.
The only thing Joseph, Gina's jealous ex-lover likes is to pop the bubbles of plastic wrappings.
She likes the sound of Philomène's cat's bowl with water on the floor.
As for the cat, he likes to listen to children's stories.

Amélie likes:
  • to turn around in the dark movie theater to see the faces of the people around.
  • to spot the little detail nobody will ever see
  • putting her hand in a bag of seeds,
  • piercing the crust of crème brûlée with the tip of a spoon.
  • Play at ducks and drakes on the Saint-Martin-canal.
Amélie dislikes:
  • when the driver in the movie doesn't watch the road.
So, I got to thinking about some of my likes and dislikes. At the risk of being excessively corny or trite:

Kirk dislikes:
  • books where the book title and the author name are repeated at the top of every page rather than the chapter or story title
  • The feel of sitting on a toilet seat when one's backside is still wet from the shower
  • when television actors have subtly changed their postures between consecutive shots
Kirk likes:
  • reclining in the car in silence at night after arriving home and turning off the car and the radio
  • the smell inside freezers at the supermarket
  • peeling off band-aids
I suppose those weren't as "character-revealing" as the originals... more frank and useful ones would be something along the lines of "likes women wearing stretchy tanktops" "likes writing small perl scripts and macros to automate repetitive tasks" "dislikes PC laptops that won't wake up from suspend for like a solid minute so you press the damn power button and it ends up going right back into hibernate as soon as it wakes up" "dislikes traffic jams".

But still, it's a nice exercise, and tougher than it might seem. Anyone want to give it a try, at least two gripes, two small pleasures?

better living through careful ui arrangement 2006.11.23 
Last recommendation for making Windows better: forget that taskbar rearrangement program I talked about earlier: right click, uncheck "lock the taskbar", and then drag it to the right hand side of the screen:

I started doing this with my work laptop. Like a lot of new laptops, its screen is in "widescreen" format. It turns out this screen is nearly as wide as my desktop's, but about 3/4 the height. Since my documents are longer than they are wide, and I usually don't do much side-by-side windowing, this makes things feel a bit cramped... making the taskbar a sidebar is a big improvement. Other benefits:
  • You can fit a lot more buttons there (yes, I've been teased for how many windows I tend to have open at once)
  • "Group Similar Taskbar Buttons" tends to (usefully) sort rather than (annoyingly, IMO) combine multiple windows into one button
  • If you do want to see the full title of your windows, just drag and make the bar effect you can't easily duplicate with the taskbar in its usual position, since Windows tends to limit the width of each button even if you give the bar lots of real estate.
I decided I like the bar on the right rather than the left, because I don't like the way it shoves around the desktop icons when on the left.

The biggest downside, then, is the Start button... the annoying thing is that the little arrows indicating a lurking submenu are always pointing to the right, even when its obvious the submenu is going to have to pop up on the left...

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