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requiem for an umbrella plant
2014.09.30
So, my mom informed that the "Kirk Tree", an umbrella plant that was planted when I was born, is no longer with us. Here we are in 2008...

It had been struggling lately, with only a few leaves at the top.

I admit I'm bummed, even though I had foisted care and feeding of it onto my mom lo these many years, it was a cool thing to know was around. It's not like it was my picture of Dorian Gray or my horcrux or anything, but as a bit of a plant sibling of mine, I feel its loss.

Poem of the Moment
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
--Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Spring and Fall (To a Young Child)"

  ...of the moment  
Overheard at Alewife just now: "There's a Dunkins - We're saved!"

2014.09.29

  ...of the moment  
Homer Simpson -- "Lousy minor setback! THIS WORLD SUCKS!"

From I Am Furious (Yellow)
(as I said the other day: I use "Lousy Minor Setback! This World Sucks!" as a mantra, sometimes, to remind myself that I'm crazily over-reacting to whatever little inconvenience is irking me just then, like a broken escalator. ("Mantra" is the wrong term... what's the word for a cross between a catchphrase and a koan to set one's thinking on a better path? Sort of a catchprahse wrang-wrang, to use Vonnegut's bokononism terminology.))

2014.09.28

  ...of the moment  
My weight since 1999:
I made a new diet graph tool and put it online at kirk.is/diet, in part because I was sick of always hunting for the raw data when it was time to update it. I crudely made it a continuous curve - I like the look of it, though of course if read literally it implies my weight sometimes goes back in time. (Generally, time periods I don't have much data for get a little wonky, but I'm ok that graph visually reflects that uncertainty)

(I used to laugh when the marketing guys would use the catchphrase "up, and to the right" for what they wanted to see on their number charts, but now I get it!)
Applaud your neighbor; admire his style
That grates upon you like a sawtooth file.
His trespasses resemble yours in kind;
He too is being crowded from behind.
Don't kill; or if you must, while killing, grieve.
Doubt not; that is, until you can't believe.
Don't covet Mrs. X; or if you do,
Make sure, before you leap, she covets you.
--John Updike, from "V. Conclusion"
Next giant need for Siri: a sophisticated way to correct the speech-to-text mistranscriptions, but also via voice. Getting her to understand the word "rum" is nuts. Rama? Rob? Walmart? such an infuriating almost-there technology.

2014.09.27

  ...of the moment  
This just in: Yahoo to Discontinue Yahoo
Man, I wonder where I can get a clip of Homer Simpson saying "Lousy minor setback! This world sucks!" I use that as a mantra, sometimes, to remind myself that I'm crazily over-reacting to whatever little inconvenience is irking me just then, like a broken escalator. ("Mantra" is the wrong term... what's the word for a cross between a catchphrase and a koan to set one's thinking on a better path? Sort of a catchprahse wrang-wrang, to use Vonnegut's bokononism terminology.)
I really feel like a better person, empowered and creative and capable, when I take time to sit and hack in an environment I'm fluent in, especially sitting in front of a big monitor rather than just grabbing time on the subway. Between a techie conference, helping friends in need, a band gig, and various social fun stuff, I haven't had a solid morning or afternoon or even evening for that for weeks.

I wonder if this feeling is anything like what people who get nurtured by being out in nature feel when they go camping. I mean, different, obviously, but deeply resonate and restorative nonetheless.

(And the "environment I'm fluent in" is critical, which is why my dayjob has not been a joy for me for a few years, even though my new gig has a fun group of people in proximity to me in a way that was lacking at the job before.)

2014.09.26

  ...of the moment  
I was almost persuaded to buy a PS4 last night, but couldn't justify it - still no killer app, though my buddy tried to pitch their "Playstation Plus" program as a way of getting exposed to some neat indie-ish stuff. Any thoughts? I think the new Saints Row 4 expansion is going to be on 360 too, so...

2014.09.25

  ...of the moment  
"current status: i want to eat coffee beans like cereal"
--http://twitter.com/the_real_mkb
Scholastic's "Dynamite" magazine sometimes had a bonus magazine when you flipped it over, about videogames, called "Arcade". This is a comic I think I remember... corny, but written by R. L. Stine...

via
Desert Golfing is my new Go-To mobile game. It's like an endless, zen-like calmer Angry Birds.
"I have friends who smell their kids' hands to make sure they washed."
"That's a bad idea."
"Why? Because it shows distrust?"
"No, because if my mom had tried that, I would have made her regret it immediately."
"You'd have put something stinky on your hands just to bug your mother?"
"I wouldn't have had to. I'd have just acted a little too happy about her smelling them. 'Yes! By all means! Which finger would you like first?'"
--Basic Instructions, How to Examine Why You Do Things

saul to rebecca, from the illuminatus! trilogy
2014.09.24
This passage has been rattling around my brain lately, though its been a few years since I've read the book. This bit is a great explication about sex, set in an enthusiastic bit of action. Unfortunately I'd say some parts are maybe a bit racist or otherwise distasteful, but in the balance I think the general terrificness of the passage outweighs the negatives.

You see, darling, it all revolves around sex, but not in the sense that Freud thought. Freud never understood sex. Hardly anybody understands sex, in fact, except a few poets here and there. Any scientist who starts to get an inkling keeps his mouth shut because he knows he'd be drummed out of the profession if he said what he knew. Here, I'll help you unhook that. What we're feeling now is supposed to be tension, and what we'll feel after orgasm is supposed to be relaxation. Oh, they're so pretty. Yes, I know I always say that. But they are pretty. Pretty, pretty, pretty. Mmmm. Mmmm. Oh, yes, yes. Just hold it like that a moment. Yes. Tension? Lord, yes that's what I mean. How can this be tension? What's it got in common with worry or anxiety or anything else we call tension? It's a strain, but not a tension. It's a drive to break out, and a tension is a drive to hold in. Those are the two polarities. Oh, stop for a minute. Let me do this. You like that? Oh, darling, yes, darling, I like it, too. It makes me happy to make you happy. You see, we're trying to break through our skins into each other. We're trying to break the walls, walls, walls. Yes, Yes. Break the walls. Tension is trying to hold up the walls, to keep the outside from getting in. It's the opposite. Oh, Rebecca. Let me kiss them again. They're so pretty. Pretty pretty titties. Mmm, Mmm. Pretty. And so big and round. Oh, you've got two hard-ons and I've only got one. And this, this, ah, you like it, don't you, that's three hard-ons. You want me to take my finger away and kiss it? Oh, darling, pretty belly, pretty. Mmm. Mmm. Darling, Mmm. MMMMM. Mmm. Lord, Lord. You never came so fast before, oh, I love you. Are you happy? I'm so happy. That's right, just for a minute. Oh, God, I love watching you do that. I love to see it go into your mouth. Lord, God, Rebecca, I love it. Yes, now I'll put him in. Little Saul, there, coming up inside you, there. Does little Rebecca like him? I know, I know. They love each other, don't they? The way we love each other. She's so warm, she welcomes him so nicely. You're inside me, too. That's what I'm trying to say. My field. You're inside my field, just like I'm inside yours. It's the fields, not the physical act. That's what people are afraid of. That's why they're tense during sex. They're afraid of letting the fields merge. It's a unifying of the forces. God, I can't keep talking. Well, if we slow way down, yes, this is nicer, isn't it? That's why it's so fast for most people. They rush, complete the physical act, before the fields are charged. They never experience the fields. They think it's poetry, fiction, when somebody who's had it describes it. One scientist knew. He died in prison. I'll tell you about him later. It's the big taboo, the one all the others grow out of. It isn't sex itself they're trying to stop. That's too strong, they can't stop it. It's this. Darling, yes. This. The unifying. It happens at death, but they try to steal it even then. They've taken it out of sex. That's why the fantasies. And the promiscuity. The search. Blacks, homosexuality, our parents, people we know we hate, Saint Bernards. Everything. It's not neuroses or perversion. It's a search. A desperate search. Everybody wants sex with an enemy. Hate mobilizes the field, too, you see. And hate. Is safer. Safer than love. Love too dangerous. Lord, Lord, I love you. I love you. Let me more. Get the weight on my elbows, hold your ass with my hands. Yes. Poetry isn't poetry. I mean it doesn't lie. It's true when I say I worship you. Can't say it outside bed. Can only say love then, usually. Worship too scary. Some people can't even say love in bed. Searching, partner to partner. Never able to say love. Never able to feel it. Under control. They can't let us learn, or the game is up. Their name? They got a million names. Monopolize it. Keep it to themselves. They had to stamp it out in the rest of us, to control. To control us. Drove it underground, into background noise. Mustn't break through. That's how. How it happened. Darling. First they repressed telepathy, then sex. That's why schizos. Darling. Why schizos break into crazy sex things first. Why homosexuals dig the occult. Break one taboo, come close to the next. Finally break the wall entirely. Get through. Like we get through, together. They can't have that. Got to keep up apart. Schisms. Always splitting and schisms. White against black, men against women, all the way down the line. Keep us apart. Don't let us merge. Make sex a dirty joke. A few more minutes. A few more. My tongue in your ear. Oh, God. Soon. So fast. A miracle. Whole society set up to prevent this. To destroy love. Oh, I do love you. Worship you. Adore you. Rebecca. Beautiful, beautiful. Rebecca. They don't want us to. Unify. The. Forces. Rebecca. Rebecca. Rebecca.

  ...of the moment  
Midweek, every 2-3 weeks, MBTA Alewife @DunkinDonuts runs out of large straws. You'd think that'd be a pretty easy logistical fix, eh?
"But only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognized that all the competent killers are Christians; then the pagan world will go to school to the Christian-- not to acquire his religion, but his guns. "
--Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger". I really enjoyed this book, even if there was some question about it being hacked/faked by later editors. The Devil Goes Down to 1600s Germany, and the result works on so many levels; humanist to its core, implicit digression into the implausibility of true free will in a "foreseeable" Universe of cause and effect, even as pure strategy its take on what omnipotence and pure amorality might look like to us mere puny humans is way ahead of its time.
this weekend I saw some of the future of the webz let me show you them

2014.09.23

  ...of the moment  
http://www.buzzfeed.com/xtinehlee/i-had-a-stroke-at-33 Amazing "Momento"-like, or maybe "Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" story, but the insiders view.

I loved detailed, subjective accounts like this, and also thinking about the parts I can feel-- empathy(?) -- parallels with. Sometimes I feel like I can sense the faintest of faint "shadow syndromes" of a variety of conditions: Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, Asperger syndrome, etc. But I'm always aware I might be mistaken, or fooling myself, any seeming parallels might be absolutely surface, and certainly they're nothing to coddle myself about, because they're all absolutely manageable (to the extent that they're present at all.)

The homophones/typo thing -- a trait shared with the author of this story during her bad times -- really bugs me sometimes, though, and the swapping of "m" and "b".

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-22/partyism-now-trumps-racism - but some of my best friends are Republican!
"Thanks for everything. I had a wonderful time."
--A vision of what a pet would say to us when it's time to say goodbye to them... http://twentytwowords.com/if-youve-ever-owned-a-dog-this-will-make-you-cry-simple-and-beautiful/
Dr. Bigelow: So you took a chance on being happy, even though you knew that later on you would be sad.

Louie: Yeah.

B: And now... you're sad.

L: Yeah.

B: So... what's the problem?

L: I'm too sad.... Look, I liked the feeling of being in love with her. I liked it. But now she's gone and I miss her and it sucks. And I didn't think it was going to be this bad, and I feel like, why even be happy if it's just going to lead to this, you know? It wasn't worth it.

B: You know, misery is wasted on the miserable.

L: What?

B: You know, I'm not entirely sure what your name is, but you are a classic idiot. You think spending time with her, kissing her, having fun with her, you think that's what it was all about? That was love?

L: Yeah.

B: THIS is love. Missing her, because she's gone. Wanting to die.... You're so lucky. You're like a walking poem. Would you rather be some kind of a fantasy? Some kind of a Disney ride? Is that what you want? Don't you see? This is the good part. This is what you've been digging for all this time. Now you finally have it in your hand, this sweet nugget of love, sweet, sad love, and you want to throw it away. You've got it all wrong.

L: I thought this was the bad part.

B: No! The bad part is when you forget her, when you don't care about her, when you don't care about anything. The bad part is coming, so enjoy the heartbreak while you can, for God's sakes. Pick up the dog poop, would you please? Lucky sonofabitch. I haven't had my heart broken since Marilyn walked out on me, since I was 35 years old. What I would give to have that feeling again.... You know, I'm not really sure what your name is, but you may be the single most boring person I have ever met. No offense. Give me my dog. Come here. You.... Don't fall down.

--from Louie

2014.09.22

  ...of the moment  
Back to "Lazy Iced Tea" (just throwing a teabag or two into the Large Dunkies Iced Coffee cup I use for water during the day.) Work offers unlimited soft drinks, but those recent study results are making feel iffy about how artificial sweetener might be fooling my gut bacteria.

Plus, chai iced tea is super tasty washing over an atomic fireball.


2014.09.21

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2014.09.20

  ...of the moment  
Found out at a Cambridge DD - I think it's a study of the letter "P"

"Looks like a person with boobs"
For pete's sake, why the hell does ios convert PNG files into crappily compressed JPGs when uploading via webform? What a waste. Why would they do that?

2014.09.19

  ...of the moment  
"Marget's nurse in earlier years, said God would provide. But she said that from habit, for she was a good Christian. She meant to help in the providing, to make sure, if she could find a way."
--Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger"
"Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His seeing it."
"But it falls, just the same. What good is seeing it fall?"
--Ursula the Housekeeper and Satan's nephew in Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger". This book (a recommendation embedded in Vonnegut's "A Man Without a Country") is terrific: humanist, humane, and subversive.
Why I Hope to Die at 75. Thought-provoking piece. Via Next Draft, which is the best email newsletter I've ever subscribed to.

2014.09.18

  ...of the moment  
Sometimes I wish I had more characteristics of an Ayn Rand character, that by sheer force of will I could make things happen: specifically, turning myself into a better me; I know my "fixed mindset" background makes me swing too hard the other way, into strategies that avoid pointing out my deficiencies on the micro level, but make be less capable in the macro sense.

One trick I've heard lately is to replace "Oh, I really shouldn't do ___" with the thought that "I'm the kind of person who doesn't ___"; swap the verb for the noun, so to speak. In the same way that the physical act of smiling can lead to a legitimately happier mood, this might be a little con game we can play on our own self, for our own benefit.

I look at the things that tend to clog my todo list, often items I feel a little intimidated by: work on my "lowLag" JavaScript library for sounds (I took a swing and a miss at an annoying IE-related issue), finding a publisher for SoYoureGoingToDie.com, a stack of stuff at work for my team's new assignment on technologies I honestly am not super enthused by... I am the kind of person who pushes through this crap. I have a decent track record of things I've done, and the potential to get through many more.

AW YEAH

"Look Deep Into My Eyes. NO-- DEEPER"...

[On why is there something rather than nothing.] "Beats me, actually; but who doesn't love the Universe?"
--John Updike
"[We] skate upon an intense radiance we do not see because we see nothing else. And in fact there is a color, a quiet but tireless goodness that things at rest, like a brick wall or a small stone, seem to affirm."
--John Updike

2014.09.17

  ...of the moment  
"For survival in this world, itís to an animal's great advantage if Humans think you're cute."
--http://twitter.com/neiltyson
At 230 calories, a bottle of Guinness Draught and a Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle bar makes a helluva nightcap for a dieter like me.