2003 July❮❮prevnext❯❯

words, words, words

So Mo and I started what will hopefully become tradition for our anniversary this year...I came up with the idea of having a "State of Our Union" conversation every anniversary, where we can talk about the direction of things and bring up any issues without having to establish a special time for that, which always sounds a little ominous. I think it worked out pretty well.

Vocabulary of the Moment
100 Words That All High School Graduates - And Their Parents - Should Know I added links to M-W.com just in case you don't. (Amusing comment on that site: "'The words we suggest,' says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, 'are not meant to be exhaustive'." Well, that's a relief.)
abjure, abrogate, abstemious, acumen, antebellum, auspicious, belie, bellicose, bowdlerize, chicanery, chromosome, churlish, circumlocution, circumnavigate, deciduous, deleterious, diffident, enervate, enfranchise, epiphany, equinox, euro, evanescent, expurgate, facetious, fatuous, feckless, fiduciary, filibuster, gamete, gauche, gerrymander, hegemony, hemoglobin, homogeneous, hubris, hypotenuse, impeach, incognito, incontrovertible, inculcate, infrastructure, interpolate, irony, jejune, kinetic, kowtow, laissez faire, lexicon, loquacious, lugubrious, metamorphosis, mitosis, moiety, nanotechnology, nihilism, nomenclature, nonsectarian, notarize, obsequious, oligarchy, omnipotent, orthography, oxidize, parabola, paradigm, parameter, pecuniary, photosynthesis, plagiarize, plasma, polymer, precipitous, quasar, quotidian, recapitulate, reciprocal, reparation, respiration, sanguine, soliloquy, subjugate, suffragist, supercilious, tautology, taxonomy, tectonic, tempestuous, thermodynamics, totalitarian, unctuous, usurp, vacuous, vehement, vortex, winnow, wrought, xenophobe, yeoman, ziggurat

Movie of the Moment
Shootout from The Matrix in ASCII. Not as inventive as the Star Wars one; they just took a greyscale shot of the movie and digitized it into letters. (Star Wars uses the more "traditional" ASCII approach, the same thing that brought us all smilies...)

Article of the Moment
Jakob Nielsen on humans' information foraging (and its implications on setting up your website.) I like the idea that we hunt for information on the web using the same techniques as an animal hunting food, it's the same idea as Daniel Dennet saying we are preprogrammed to build our minds the way a beaver is preprogrammed to build its dam, or the spider its web... (Hrrm, actually this article is a complement of a Wired piece I previously linked to.

Google Prank of the Moment
1. Go to Google.com.
2. Type in "weapons of mass destruction".
3. Hit "I'm feeling lucky"
(if that doesn't bring you to something slightly amusing, click here)

meow meow meow meow

Article of the Moment
There's research that suggest cats vocalize mostly to humans, that it's really an adaption to living within a human world. (And lo and behold, here comes Murphy now. Actually, one of my first entries here was all about that cat and his vocalizations...)

Article of the Other Moment
Huh, Slate.com talks about how Strom Thurmond may have had a daughter with a black woman. Interesting, puts a different light on some of the events of his life.

Image of the Moment

--Ranjit took this awesome picture of a bee, you can see a slightly larger version at moonmilk.

Hobby of the Moment
I really think that dB drag racing is the dumbest hobby I have ever heard. People put tons and tons of amplifiers and stereos in their cars - often rendering them usesless as a means of transportation - in order to make as much noise as possible. Not play music, but noise, a 74hz tone. That's, like, enough to melt your brain, literally. I mean, I guess it's a little interesting from a street engineering standpoint, but yeesh, what's the point? (And I guess my feeling ties into the most people's dislike of car stereos that rattle windows from blocks away.)

don't forget your sauna pants

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It's kind of strange being on this eating plan. I think my body wants carbs, but it's not smart enough to realize that's what it wants, so it ends up with this non-de script feeling of need.

The deal is Mo will cook (breakfast, usually that we can eat the rest of the next day, and dinner every night, with the leftovers for lunch the next day) but I have to clean the dishes, which is a bit less but still a pretty significant of an amount of work. Having to spend that much attention on food, rather than just microwaving or getting something out...I dunno, it feels like a bit of a throwback to hunter-gatherer times. Also, our morning moderate exercise routine (100-150 mini-trampoline jumping jacks, 20-30 minutes fast walk w/ seriously swinging arms, then a lot of stretching) takes a lot of time, so that adds to that feeling, having to devote so many more resources to attend to my basic bodily needs. And 'having' to go to bed at 10, so that there's 8 hours when we get up at 6...yeesh, I'm feeling a bit cramped for time these days.

Also, it feels kind of weird to bring lunch to work, though I'm not sure why. I think it might go back to elementary school, where it seemed like the less well-off kids would be the ones who would always bring their lunch. (Unless you were poor and on assistance.) And it always seemed like a lot more fun to have the hot lunch at school. It's not that big a switch for me, I've been a desk-eater (eater at desk, not of) for a while. But still, walking in with my plastic bag of bottle of cran-water, lunch portion, morning and afternoon stick...I feel like a bit of a tool.

Engrish of the Moment


Sauna Pants are an invention by a Korean inventor to protect our precious jewels of manhood in high-temperature situations. The diagrams make 'em look a little lumpy.

Quote and Article of the Moment
Learning from experience about the alligators is lousy, compared to learning from reading, say.

go fourth and multiply

Curse you, RCN, for taking away my internet access this Fourth of July! More later. Phew, finally back... more in a bit.

Man, few things irritate me so much as a loss of 'Net connectivity at home. It strikes both my "technical things should just work" nerve as well as the frustration of losing access with the outside world. I mean, I had to dial "411" today from home, for cryin' out loud.

Ramble and Article of the Moment
I have so few celebratory plans today it's a little pathetic. Maybe I should hunt up a nice municipal display, or maybe I should brave going down to Cambridge for the big show? I dunno. But Slate.com had a piece on the military using 'virtual world' games to help figure the social dynamics of places like Iraq. So (though it's just a turn based wargame and not an online virtual world) by playing by new gameboy game Advanced Wars 2 I figure I'm doing my Fourthly patriotic duty.

Quote of the Moment
The first rule of magic is simple. Don't waste your time waving your hands and hoping when a rock or a club will do.
McCloctnik the Lucid


So, I ended up getting into the fourth a bit more; I (Mo wasn't up for it) walked down to Waltham's own fireworks display. I hadn't heard anything about it, but I somehow got to Watertown's "search Mass Gov" form, looked for fireworks, got this pdf of Professional Supervised Fireworks Display in MA (which, oddly, lists Waltham's display at 1:00 PM, not 10 PM) and that gave me enough information to Google up a community newspaper article about it.) They had a mini-mini-fair going on, 4 or so kiddie rides, some sideshow games, food stands, and everyone sat in a local school's football field, with the fireworks at one end. Not a bad display.

Shopping List of the Moment
Mo forgot her shopping list, and it was easier to scan it and post it than to read it to her over the phone. So... this is pretty much every single thing that she and I will be eating this week...

who knows? who cares?

Quote of the Moment
I always thought I should trademark the word I use to describe my religious beliefs:
basically from the Greek meaning, "I don't know and I don't care".
TopShelf on Slashdot.
Or like that old Greek Protagoras said, "The question is complex and life is short".

Article of the Moment
Another good Joel On Software, a piece on Presenting the User with Too Many (not that useful) Options. He points out how stupid it is that Windows asks you so many meaningless questions when it first opens up a Help file, the whole "Minimize database size / Maximize search capabilities / Customize search capabilities" -- no one knows what that's all about. I disagree with his attack of customizable toolbars, however...there are so many ever-growing toolbars these days that workspace real-estate is being compromised and I appreciate being able to get rid of most of that. For example, in IE, I have a single bar with the 5 main nav buttons (as small as possible, just icons,) a truncated "File..." menu set, and the address field, all in one line. I also like being able to increase my task bar to two lines. I think what he misses is that Windows toolbars (and the taskbar) have a new option to "Lock" the toolbars, which is on by default, and helps prevent the accidental "how do I get back from this?" issues that he brings up.

Tutorial of the Moment
For this month's feature on the Blender of Love I did a Quick Tutorial (well, "tutorial" might be stretching things a bit) on making those "flat color photos" that I previously showed you here, like the one with Mo and I on the Jersey shore. Also, it was a pretty good month for the front page picks, so you should go and read.

gotta be in it to win it

Quote of the Moment
Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.
Lazarus Long in Robert Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love".
I used this on this month's loveblender, and actually I went and got that book...it's pretty frequently quoted in various geek places, so I thought I should give it a whirl.

Video of the Moment
Making the rounds, hi-larious anti-computer game piracy music video from 1992 reminds kids Don't Copy That Floppy...man, I didn't realize that companies after the 80s still hadn't realized that corporate rap is just a dorky abomination, even if they get a black guy (MC Disk Protector) to do it and have reasonable production values. And the way he's dancing around...wow. (Plus, besides the bad acting, the game the kids are playing against each other is apparently won by slapping random keys on the keyboard as quickly as possible.) You can cut it off after the first few industry talking heads show up, it's pretty repetitive after that.

oh jhess baby

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So, I took a look, realized that the stats I was looking at were for a day, not cumulative, and figured that Ads on the Blender are making me a bit over $11/week. If I manage to keep up anywhere near that, it'll finally pay for the upkeep of the Blender, and maybe help sponsor my other websites as well.

Yay Google Ads!

Birthday Card of the Moment

--I made this up for Dylan (of Sidebar fame) whose birthday was this weekend. The first "My name is Olivair but you can call me your lovair" is a private joke from way back. Dylan's hanging off a diving board near his family's cabin in Lake George, New York--where we hope to restart an old annual "go to the lake" tradition this August.

Quote of the Moment
Principles have no real force except when one is well fed.
Samuel Clemmons, or as Jack Updike puts him in the introduction to "The Diary of Adam and Eve", "Mark Twain the immoralist"

go moth go

Slogan of the Moment
Striving for excellence,
like a moth beating itself
to death on the side of a
light bulb.
This has been in the KHftCEA since 1998, but it's been going through my mind lately. Alas, only the "old site" still seems to be around, and it doesn't link to the other pages, like the pretty decent quotes page. I like the orange-tinted art.

Article of the Moment
A Slate.com piece explains that the cable-shopping network QVC has consitently done better than Amazon.com. Which is a good point, but I disagree with the concluding paragraph "But QVC's advantage also lies in the overall shopping experience. In the end, watching QVC is a far richer and more satisfying event than shopping at Amazon.com". QVC is so...linear. They talk and talk and talk about one thing and if you don't care about that one thing, why the hell would you stick around long enough to see the next thing? Part of the problem, I suppose, is that I'm out of the demographic. I have to admit that a young-male technogadget show would be more likely to hold my attention, but still...I think in general, guys don't want to be sold to, they want to just get stuff. (Which is a long-recognized difference between (most) men and women in retail shopping, guys are much more goal-oriented and gals take more pleasure in the process.)

family sorrow

Awful, awful news in my extended family; the wife of one of my mom and aunt's cousins (popularly known as "the cousins") has died; she was young, mid-30s at the latest, and is leaving behind several children and her husband. Still a lot of unknown about the exact causes.

Anyway, posting might be a bit muted today.

Also not sure about my NYC plans now, though there might be a delay before the funeral, so it won't interfere.

Passage of the Moment
Dave had been listening instead of talking, a standard feature of his 'low profile'--and very nearly a third way to lie, Ira, and easier than its equivalent--talking while saying nothing--and also tends to give the nontalker a reputation for wisdom. Never cared for it myself--talking is the second of the three real pleasures in life and the only thing that sets us apart from the apes. Though just barely.
Lazarus Long in Heinlein's "Time Enough For Love"

message from space

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Image of the Moment
Cloud of gas and space dust that's broken off the Carina Nebula. Not to be too juvenile about it, right now I think I prefer the "God's message to his creation" explanation for it. (via Cellar.org's IotD)

Exchange of the Moment
You guys should try the British naming scheme, we call our ships things like "Illustrious" and "Invincible". Sounds better, no?
Except for the inevitable irony involved.
at the battle of Jutland, HMS Invincible blew up and sank after a hit from Lutzow with the loss of 1,026 crew.
he he
you spotted it!
"HMS Quite Easy to Sink with an Exocet" doesn't really have the same ring to it though, does it?
Alan Partridge and bourne (and Alan Partridge again) on this Slashdot article on the new U.S.S. Ronald Reagan.

News of the Moment
This whole thing with the baseball player slugging the running sausage is just one in a series of costumed mascot related mishaps. Sounds dangerous! (And that thing that happened to Maude Flanders on the Simpsons kind of really happened, though it was just a KO and not a death.)

spin me right round baby right round

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I love this latest twist in Bush's truth-warping spin about Iraq looking to buy Uranium from Africa. Pressure the other groups not to object to the language (our own intelligence pretty much knew it was a scam, which is why the speech referred to the British intelligence sources and not our own) and then blame 'em for not telling you no. "Hey, George Tenet, fall on this grenade for me, would ya? There's a good man." (And now the prez magnanimously says he "still has faith" in the man. Well DUH! Seriously, who was the one with the @)$*@ "truth problem"? Who are the ones who are "revisionist historians". Damn, that pisses me off.)

Links of the Moment
I had forgotten how cool QuickTime VR can be. You can pan 360 degrees (and often up and down), zoom in and out to a surprising degree...and I love how some of them show this "holodeck" looking pattern until the image actually loads.

Panoramas.dk is a site with tons of 'em, and many are really cool: the most recent is a scene of Fireworks from the top of the Empire State Building (with a soundtrack, which I actually think detracts a bit, makes it sound like one of those awful "Audio/Video" slideshow presentations we had to sit through during elementary school field trips.)

Other cool ones include Times Square (and the same at New Year's Eve), WTC Light Towers in tribute to 9/11 (be sure to pan up!), the Eiffel Tower, an Underwater Wreck, and an indoor shot, Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Seriously, these are really good...I actually have less of a need to go see the Eiffel Tower now. It sounds goofy, but it's true; the panoramic view is a big part of the draw for me.

Sale of the Moment
People who live near Boston should check out The Construction Site on Moody Street in Waltham...the best building toys store I've ever seen. (it is run by friends of my family, but I think that description still stands.) And right now, they're running their first ever sale on all LEGO...20% off all LEGO from today 'til July 25th! They also have a big Jenga Fett in the window, and a cool K'Nex roller coaster above their main register. They also have two cool associated stores that share the space, "Aisle 9" with lots of jewlry gifts and cooly designed doodads, and "The Rail Yard", with toy wooden trains of all types.

off to the bots

So, today Brooke and I should be off to New York City to look at robot artists! Don't look for much in terms of updates....

Advice of the Moment
Most men dry-clean their suits too often. Except for wearing one while waging global warfare, this is by far the surest way to kill a good suit, and the quickest way to age an inexpensive one. Do not dry-clean until a suit is visibly dirty or until you can't stand the smell of cigarettes, or the fragrance of someone you want to forget.
we spent a pretty big chunka change yesterday, getting me not just a decent suit (which I needed for the upcoming funeral) but a whole mini-wardrobe of nice stuff. They really do a good job there.

I adore the light melancholy note at the end of the quote.

but would it still have all those damn thorns

Quote of the Moment
In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.
Hubert H. Humphrey, via Ross

Game Review of the Moment
Cool and funny if you know anything about MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), a review of the ultimate one of those, "Real Life". (via slashdot)

ode to a clockradio

With my extended family today. A blast from the past, a ramble I wrote for the June 1999 Blender of Love and forgot about. But I'm glad to have it here on this site.

I've already written about how inanimate objects can take on new significance in the context of romance. (An idea wonderfully explored in Tom Robbin's "Still-life with Woodpecker") One of these tokens is on the verge of leaving my life and it's sad, in a goofy sort of way.

My family has had this Sony "Dream Machine" clock radio for years. It's a practical, almost feisty little cube. Throughout high school it dutifully sat in the bathroom, its turquoise LED showing the time to anyone who took the time to look, and tinnily playing the Cleveland Oldies station for me and the NPR station for my mom. (Since then, I've realized that my mom had much better taste in radio programming.)

This service, however faithful, wouldn't be enough to earn this memorial in the Blender of Love. Not until college did it the clockradio play a role in my romantic life. College was where I first got the chance to sleep with (in the non-biblical sense) the people I was in love with, and the Sony Dream Machine was there to wake me and my beloved so that we could face another day of classes. The fact that there is more than one woman I woke up with during this time somehow strengthens my bond with this little machine: it proved to be a more constant companion than any romantic interest. In fact, you could say that I was fairly intimate with that clockradio (in the non-biblical sense,) able to set its alarm in the dark, able to turn off its alarm while still slumbering. I'll remember some of those early morning tableaus for the rest of my life.

But now, it's time to move on. The clockradio is looking pretty grungy. Years ago the plug for its 9-volt backup battery broke- when the power goes, so does its sense of time. When you shake it, there's a very suspicious clunk and rattle. Still, I would probably be able to squeeze more years of service from it, but currently the bedroom has no room for a bedside table, so I had to get a new alarmclock, one with a giant readout that I can easily read from a distance, even without my glasses. I'll miss the little cube, however, and am grateful for the job it's done, and the role it has played in my romantic history.

the truth problem

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Article of the Moment
Slate.com has William Saletan pretty nicely going into depth on what I was ranting about the other day, Bush's amazing attempts to spread the blame on the whole Iraq/African Iranium hoax and convince us that we want to "move on". What a spineless hypocritcal wuss. (the site's "chatterbox" has more lies from this year.)

Links of the Moment
Nothing too astounding, but Pixel Zen is a set of links to some fun little pixel-based stuff.

Quote of the Moment
There were also a number of low points, such as Khrushchev's visit to the Soviet Union's first openly "alternative" art exhibition, where he mocked the artists who had dared to defy the canons of social realism ("if that's supposed to be a woman, then you're a faggot").

video blowout

There is No Paddle of the Moment
Making the rounds is this terrific video of a live-action round of pingpong, Matrix style. You owe it to yourself to check it out. (They say they're just regular guys competing on a talent show called Kasou Taishou.)

Smart Critter of the Moment
Crows can create and use tools...in this case, they know enough to shape a piece of wire into a hook to reach a tiny bucket of food stuck in a vertical pipe. As a species we really aren't quite as amazing as we assume...still pretty amazing, but not as unique. Now I feel more bummed about what West Nile Virus has done to all the crows around here.

Virtual Stunts of the Moment
I guess with the release of the PC version of "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City", there are whole things people are doing with it, Mods to adjust the world and objects. Another newish artform is Stunt Video, recordings of people's car and motorcycle stunts within the game set to music. The coolest one is the one with the big graphic ("My jaw seriously dropped") though the SandahX is cool as well...it explicitly claims it doesn't hack the handling of the vehicles, so I'm not sure that the other one doesn't. Still, very well done, and fun to watch.

Flight of the Moment
Some guy in Germany flies remote control helicopters and makes videos. (Click on "Videos" on the left side.) The "Light Aerobatics" one is probably the coolest.

Motivation of the Moment
Reebok warns belly gonna getcha. Catchy!

Cute Cats of the Moment
Managed to find a copy of this that wasn't on a site with a ton of porn ads: Cats being really, really cute. You feel bad for one or two of them but overall it's good fun.

doggy dignity

AIM Conversation of the Moment
(Tikko is Ranjit's dog, a cute tiny pomeranian)
ranjit: poor tikko! learning more english would save him so much humiliation.
ranjit: I called him over, saying TIKKO! I WANT TO SQUEEZE YOUR NOSE.
ranjit: He came over, and I squeezed his nose.
kirk: heheheh

Critter of the Moment
Nine dwarf chameleons born in UK. As Ranjit put it, "OMIGOD SO CUUUUUUUTE!" I really respect guys who aren't afraid to squeal like little girls. Like me, for instance.

Quote of the Moment
If a triangle could speak, it would say, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular.
Baruch Spinoza

leggo my lego

Lego of the Moment
Yesterday slashdot linked to the Star Wars alphabet project, where a Lego builder is out to make the other "letter wing" ships not covered by X-Wing, Y-Wing, A-Wing, B-Wing, etc. This guy is an brilliant designer...it's depressing, I remember I used to want to be a "Lego Engineer" when I grew up, but now I'm stuck in "dark ages" while this guy is doing such great stuff. (You can see more at his site but it's not easily browsable.)
Anyway, his bots page inspired me to go to LUGNET and get some of the LegoCAD software going to record the design for my all-time favorite minimodels, the "techoscavanger". (In my personal Lego mythos, these were the guy who could construct and rebuild other robots and spaceships.) Really simple and elegant I thought, though its core body with studs in 5 directions and its rocket base were both relatively rare so I couldn't make as many as I would have liked...plus I couldn't find the piece that's central to its optional arm cannon/welder. Still, I'm glad to have it recorded for posterity.

Quote of the Moment
Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.
Bella Abzug, US Politician

Funny of the Moment
Sunday night - I thought he was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment.
Conversation wasn't flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk, he agreed but he kept quiet and absent.
I asked him what was wrong - he said, "Nothing."
I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said it had nothing to do with me and not to worry.
On the way home I told him that I loved him, he simply smiled and kept driving.
I can't explain his behavior; I don't know why he didn't say, "I love you, too."
When we got home I felt as if I had lost him, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore.
He just sat there and watched TV.; he seemed distant and absent.
Finally I decided to go to bed. About 10 minutes later he came to bed and to my surprise he responded to my caress and we made love, but I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else.
I decided that I could not take it anymore, so I decided to confront him with the situation but he had fallen asleep.
I started crying and cried until I too fell asleep.
I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else.
My life is a disaster.

Today the Red Sox lost, but at least I got laid.
"Making the rounds anonymously" according to rec.humor.funny, but "always with a different team in the punchline".

it was a stark and dormy night

Passage of the Moment
She fumbled for her laser gun, knowing that the alien was eager to ravage her, unlike Captain Johnson, who wanted to take things slow since he was coming off the heels of a very painful divorce.
It's a contest (inspired and named for the creator of the 'classic' "It was a dark and stormy night..." intro) for the worst opening sentence for a hypothetical book possible. Worth reading through, though not too many belly laughs.

Toys of the Moment
Adrian's Web Toys...a bunch of cool little interactive flash toys. If you're in a hurry, just check out the first three and maybe "Bouncing Putty Mask".

stick figure barbarians at the gate

Game of the Moment
Addictive little enticement to wrist-based RPI, it's your job to Defend Your Castle...mostly by flinging the little stick figure attackers away, but later you can buy a temple to convert them to your faith, and then later train them to become archers and wizards and other defenders of the castle walls... (supposedly the game pretty much plays itself once you have enough of those guys.)

Lunchtime Ramble
It occurred to me that I haven't been rambling much lately, just keeping up the steady barrage of links and quotes with the odd political sniping. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I know some people read this page and it's their central way of knowing what's going on with my life, but on the other hand excessively journal-y pages can get pretty dull. On the third hand, some of my favorite pages are just kind of rambles, with relatively few links. If you have an opinion one way or the other, let me know in today's comments section.

So Brooke and Mo threw a big dual birthday party. It was, by our modest standards, wildly successful. Biggest turn out we've had, almost 30 people in all. Cohosting parties is great, especially when your friends had fun friends. (And we recently cohosted with John, and met lots of fun people, many who were also at Saturday's shindig.)

Brooke's friends got her a general lawn games set, the highlight being a badminton net that came with two terrifically awful plastic rackets. Those were supplemented by two good rackets, and when more than 4 people wanted to play, further supplemented by Brooke's shoe (startlingly well wielded by Ryan), the cardboard box the set came in, and a frisbee.

The focus of the party in the evening was the Karaoke machine we rented. We're looking to get one for ourselves, it will pay for itself in a party or two. Mo's looking to get this massive collection of songs, like 1275 in all. Even "Mysterious Ways" by U2 and the odd Weird Al song. (Signs of a brutally geeky childhood.)

Having a decent hosting house ("phat party pad") is a wonderful luxury. Admittedly our lawn is a bit tight for badminton, (it would be more room but much less fun to head to the playground across the way, since amusing the spectators is a big part of the entertainment value.)

I have mixed feelings about the "no video game" rule Brooke and Mo decided on for their cobirthday. Their complaint, and there is something to it, is that parties with videogames often degrade into videogame parties...especially with the living room's big honkin' tv centrally placed. But games can be a lot of fun. This party started at 6, and went on 'til 1 or 2. Maybe we can make up some rules, preparty gaming from like 2 to 6, and then any further videogames have to be in a gaming ghetto in my study, to encourage more blatantly social and inclusive forms interaction. (Though many games are often good spectator sports.)

I did something to a calf muscle, don't know if it was while dancing or what, but it's been sore ever since. Almost enough to make me limp a bit.

pretty colors. pretty, pretty colors.

Hey Harry, thanks for the kind words on yesterday's comment section. It's always great to hear about regular readers whom I don't know personally already...

Old News of the Moment
Back from the end of March, a Slate.com Explainer talks about Why Is Iraqi Anti-Aircraft Fire Visible on TV?...the answer is, of course, tracers put in to make aiming easier, but mentions that during the Cold War, they've started color coding 'em, so people know who's shooting at whom: "In Vietnam, North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong tracers were designed to leave green trails while American and South Vietnamese tracers were designed to leave red ones. The New York Times reports that the color scheme is similar in Gulf War II: Americans, red; Iraqis, green."

Why I find that amusing is because on the G.I. Joe cartoon, good guys shot red lasers and bad guys shot blue. I had NO idea that there was any basis in reality for that kind of color coding!

I found that screenshot at this amazing site called qktheatre.com (named after Quick Kick, a popular martial artist 'Joe.) The Episode Summaries are incredibly detailed, three or four pages with dozens and dozens of screen captures. And it reminded me--even back in like fifth and sixth grade, I thought Lady Jaye was hawt--my preference for short-haired kinda butch women was formed even then.

Ramble of the Moment
There's something cool about listening to far off lightning over AM radio...can't see the lightning, can't hear the thunder, but it can make its presence known. I guess it's not all that impressive, if the station's signal isn't very strong then my blinkers and even the engine itself can make their electromagnetic presence audible through the stupid radio. Conceptually, it is kind of cool though.

And think about it...man, every radio station's signal your car radio can pull in, and every tv station your tv can use an antenna to pick up, and then some, is passing through you right now. An entire cacophony of possible sound and potential image is flooding over us all the time, but we're completely blind and deaf to it.

UPDATE: Louis Nick III sent in an NPR link of a guy who listens to the radio sounds of the Nothern Lights. (Ties in nicely with today's title theme of "pretty colors" as well!)

Bad News of the Moment
I know I posted something on this story last January, but wow, this is really nightmarish in a goofy kind of way: there's a good chance that bananas will vanish from store shelves in the next few years. How weird is it to think that our children might not know what a banana tastes like? How convenient fun they are (were?) to peel and eat, how good they taste, alone, or with peanut butter or nutella? Bizarre. Something tells me "they" will figure something out, but I dunno. In the meanwhile, expect about a billion jokes along the lines of "yes we have no bananas".

the noive of some people

Dang, so (according to the sidebar) Dylan's in Hawaii, and he didn't even tell me beforehand. Gee, whatsamattah, San Diego's brand of endless weather perfection get a little boring, so you needed to throw in a little endless weather perfection plus volcanos? I hope you choke on a pineapple, pal! (I kid, I kid.)

Gripe Site of the Moment
One of the oddest gripe sites I've seen, it's the Truck Driver's Gear Change Hall of Shame According to site's FAQ, it's when a song has a big gratuitous modulation/key change, usually near the end of the song to give a cheap and tawdry "lift". (Nothing to do with actual trucks.) The muso's introduction, focused on the Beatles' use of the trick, is worth reading too. I can see the technique being annoying to a hardcore music aficionado, though I am surprised it's bad enough to be worth dedicating a whole site (with plenty of soundclips!) to it.

Game of the Moment
Wonderful little fighting game of the fonts: Helvetica vs. Arial. Very tricky until you get the hang of Helvetica's aeriel attacks (vs Arial's mad dashes), and nicely done overall.

Quote of the Moment
How about this for a headline in tomorrow's paper: 'French Fries!'
Convict James French, seated in the electric chair.

Politics of the Moment
You gotta love this white house:
"George Tenet, fall on this grenade!"
"Good man. We have great confidence in him, despite not telling us that he thought the yellowcake thing was BS."
"Do I take responsibility for that line in the speech? I certainly do take responsibility for deciding to go to war."
(Sound of memos from the CIA from October pointing out how suspect this claim was being discovered)
"D'ohh! Stephen Hadley, fall on this grenade!"
"Good man. We have great confidence in him."
Wait a minute, what am I thinking? Like anyone thought GWB actually comes anywhere near writing his own speeches? He can barely read 'em, for crying out loud. (Sorry that this rant wasn't very funny, it's a little funnier in my head.)

like sand through the hourglass

Ramble of the Moments
Not enough hours in the damn day.
Not enough days in the damn month.
Not enough months in the damn year.
Not enough years in the damn lifetime.

But, oddly enough, too many days in the damn week.

Why isn't it Friday yet?

IMDb of the Moment
Nice! From Justin to Kelly has surpassed Manos, the Hands of Fate as the worst of the Bottom 100 Films at IMDb.

Music of the Moment
Mashups are remixes where the artist takes 2 or more known songs and slams them together. "Dsico that No-Talent Hack" has a download page full of some pretty good ones. My very favorite was Groove's a Bitch featuring Deee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" against Missy Eliott's "She's a Bitch" and Basement Jaxx's "Just 1 Kiss". (I found it looking for information on Deee-Lite's Lady Miss Kier lawsuit against the game Space Channel 5...she claims they stole her image, I'd say it was a completely dumb case except previously they tried to license it from her and then went ahead on their own.)

Feedback Feedback of the Moment
After yesterday's 'French Fries' quote, Atari programmer Nick Bensema came up with "Fruit flies like a banana, French fries like a hamburger" on the comments page, which I hadn't heard before, but I like it a lot. After that, LAN3 requested "More jokes in the punchline-as-setup vein, please" but try as I might, I can't quite wrap my head around what that's supposed to be asking for. I must be dumb.

much mix madness

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Mixes of the Moment
So, previously I discussed my newfound philosophy of dance mixes and here's the latest and bestest incarnation of it--up to three CDs now. I like randomly theming mix sets, starting them with an appropriate .wav, and stumbled on a Star Trek theme...although I still like to push the best songs to the first mix, I used a very geeky method to assure all three were ok (divided the music into hiphop, covers, and misc, and then each of those into two tiers, and then as even a distribution as possible of the 6 categories...Captain Kirk got the first pick from each category though.)

When I posted my last attempt at the perfect dance mix, Deevaa wrote "I want a copy of your CD!!" in the comments section, so I sent her a set, all the way to Australia this morning.

Captain Kirk: The Mix
"But a woman..." (soundclip) Groove Is In The Heart (Deee-Lite) Burning Down The House (Tom Jones w/ The Cardigans) Bust A Move (Young MC) Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-A-Lot) The Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang) Hip Hop Hooray (Naughty By Nature) Little Miss Cant Be Wrong (Spin Doctors) Like A Prayer (Bigod 20) Jump Around (House of Pain) A Little Less Conversation Radio Edit (Elvis vs JXL) Things That Make You Go Hmmmm... (C + C Music Factory) Summertime (DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) Slam (Onyx) 99 Red Balloons (Goldfinger) Smack My Bitch Up (Prodigy) I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)

Mister Spock: The Mix
"Logic is a little tweeting bird" (soundclip) All The Things She Said (t.A.T.u.) Sexbomb (Tom Jones w/ Mousse T) Stress (Jims Big Ego) Shake Your Thang (Salt N Pepa) Walk Like An Egyptian (Bangles) Take On Me (Reel Big Fish) Humpty Dance (Digital Underground) Unbelievable (EMF) Wild Thing (Tone Loc) One Way Or Another (Blondie) Push It (Salt N Pepa) Walk This Way (Run D.M.C.) I'm Too Sexy (Right Said Fred) Me Myself And I (De La Soul) It Takes Two (Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock) Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice)

Doctor McCoy: The Mix
"not just a biological unit..." (soundclip) All Star (Smash Mouth) Gonna Make You Sweat (C+C Music Factory) One Week (Barenaked Ladies) OPP (Naughty By Nature) Tainted Love (Marilyn Manson) Funky Cold Medina (Tone Loc) Private Idaho (The B-52s) U Cant Touch This (M.C. Hammer) Hungry Like The Wolf (Reel Big Fish or Less Than Jake) You Be Illin (Run DMC) Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana) Parents Just Dont Understand (D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince) What I Like About You (The Romantics) Joy And Pain (Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock) My Sharona (The Knack) Now That We Found Love (Heavy D. & the Boyz)

Link of the Moment
You can click on the links above to hear the sound clips I found at Star Trek in Sound and Vision, a site with tons and tons and tons of audio and video clips from all things Star Trek. A really amazing amount of material.

News Line of the Moment
Slate.com had a great front page caption for their story on Blair: "Finally, a Politician for Grown-Ups (Too bad he's English)". I respect Blair a lot, though Bill the Splut was greatly amused when I mistyped his name "Bliar", given his involvement in the whole WMD spindoctoring.

Also the other day Slate.com had a good piece on typical summer jobs for teens, giving "They say you learn how to", "You really learn how to", "Upside", "Downside", "Wages", "Minimum age", "How do I get this job?", and "Hook-up factor" for each.

pulling the plug

So, I've taken a boldish step at work: all of our web access is through a proxy server, and I've taken the step of disconnecting from that server during the work day, disabling my ability to get to the web. I put it back during my lunch hour and at the end of the day, and if I have a legitimate need to look something up online for my project, but besides that, nuthin'.

It's a radical step, and I've only been doing it for a few days, but I've found myself having trouble focusing on the tasks that I'm paid (and pretty well!) to do. When I'm on a "cool" project, I have little trouble applying typical geek focus and working like a maniac, but when the project is more grueling, when I'm not learning anything new tech-wise, when parts are difficult, but in a "there's no way to do this quite right" rather than a "challenging, let me think about this and find a great solution" kind of way, I can get a little... intimidated, frankly... and I start craving distraction. It's kind of a form of occasional writer's block, and being able to browse the web is just dangerous at those times.

I've learned a couple of things that make this switch-off more palatable. One is, most things on the web will be there in a couple of hours when I get home. Two is, I don't get that much important e-mail during the day (and thanks to my antispam whitelist, I can postpone deleting the spam without the good stuff getting buried.) Three is I should stop being less dependent on CNN.com anyway; ever since 9-11 I was craving any information about possible terrorist activity (and a few years before then, it was information about what Y2K was going to look like...I'm a bit neurotic) but knowing about any event 15 minutes before word gets around the office isn't going to help me that much. Finally, I want to be trustworthy. Someone in a professional position should be able to be counted on to stay on target. It's cheesy, but I printed "TRUST" in a big font on a sheet of paper and put it on the old cube wall: corny, but it helps.

So, especially if anyone from my company is reading this, I don't want to give the impression that prior to this I've just been a giant click monkey day in and day out, but there was room for improvement of focus.

Office Observation of the Moment
On a related note, I've made Kirk's Early Exit Observation: if anyone leaves the office before five PM, no matter how blatantly obvious it is that they're going home (bags carried, coats worn, car keys jangled, etc,) they won't say good night to anyone. They feel guilty! Or maybe they think no one will notice. I do the same thing.

Games of the Moment
I already posted this over a year ago, but Orisinal has added even more great games with a beautiful sense of whimsy and motion. (This preview trailer is cool too.)

TV Quote of the Moment
Hey, uh, is it horny in here or is it just me?

that's me!

Design of the Moment
A while back Ross invited people to send in logos for his website and this is what I came up with. To the side is the animated part, shown here at twice normal size. I tried to get the comic timing right, so that it was obvious that this little Ross wasn't all sure what he should be doing, though I'm not sure if that came out.

Link of the Moment
This Is Broken is a rogue's gallery signs and website and other things that are just plain broken and otherwise dumb, all in the name of looking at "Customer Experience".

I'll tell you, sometimes I surprise myself with how much rage I get with stuff like this, when I encounter it in real life.. I really have expectations that at least a modicum of intelligence be applied in systems of all types. Bad design is a misdemeanor against humanity.

Quote of the Moment
Bad design is a misdemeanor against humanity.
2003.07.27. Just putting it in this format so I can find it later.

chocolate thunder, vanilla breeze

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Interview of the Moment
Cigar Aficionado interviews basketball great Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins. I heard this guy on the radio, then found this. No talk of cigars in it, however.

Ramble of the Moment
You know, "PDA", Personal Digital Assistant, is such a goofy name. "Ooh, it's not just an electronic organizer, it's an assistant". Look, not that I don't heavily rely on my gadget, but until the damn thing can bring me drinks and follow me around, like Twiki on Buck Rogers, call it what it is, a damn handheld computer / electronic organizer. (Besides, "PDA" was already taken by "Public Display of Affection"...combined with the name "Palm" there's room for a lot of really stupid sexual jokes.)

Movie Quote of the Moment
Be careful of women who love you just the way you are. It means they are willing to settle too easily.

Music of the Moment
Ranjit mentioned that his favorite music to work to is "energetic music in a language he doesn't understand". Deciding to see if the same trick would work for me, I've spent the last half hour or so listening to the non-stop mix "All the Best from The German Beer Garden".

Thanks, Ranjit.

I'm not sure why I own this album. I think someone may have given it to me as a joke...maybe even Veronika.

yorkshire bank plc are fascist bastards

Wacky News of the Moment
Also from The Guardian, news of a certain Michael Howard of Leeds, who, outraged at being charged £20 for a £10 overdraft, legally changed his name to "Yorkshire Bank PLC Are Fascist Bastards." When the bank asked him to close his account, Mr. Bastards demanded that they pay out the 69-pence balance by a cheque made out in his new name.
via Planet Proctor in The Funny Times
The Funny Times is the funniest collection of cartoons and articles in a monthly newspaper I've ever seen. (It's the only paper I get delivered.

Philisophical BS of the Moment
The first proposed title for the TV show "Married With Children" was "Not the Cosbys". They were setting themselves up the opposite of The Cosby Show, so to speak. White instead of black, way lower middle class instead of borderline wealthy, mean instead of supportive, bawdy humor instead of Cosby's more family friendly fare. For a second, though, I wondered if "Good Times" (the one with J.J.Walker going "Dyn-o-mite!") would have been an anti-Cosby, since it was also about black life.

I dithered a moment about which one was the better "Not the Cosbys", a comedy with mainly white people or a comedy with mainly black people, but then I thought, what about a drama with white people? Isn't comedy the opposite of drama? But I'm still thinking of TV shows. What's the opposite of a TV series? A radio series? How far do we need to go with this?

It hit me; there can never be any such thing as a "total opposite" for anything, because otherwise there'd be no basis for comparison. Black/White? Both races. Or colors. (Well, not really colors, but you know what I mean.) Tall/Short? Both heights. Both words. Both concepts. You have to find out how things are the same before you're able to see there on opposite ends of a spectrum. And some spectrums don't have opposites, as far as I can tell...what's the opposite of a human? (Other than my fourth grade math teacher, I mean.)

I guess this is similar to how people who insist "more unique" is not a valid construction are so full of it...nothing is absolutely unique (everything falls in some kind of category), or everything is (no two things are exactly the same.) So therefore, it's logical and useful to think of "uniqueness" as a spectrum.

I don't know how "deep" this idea is (probably not very) but Beer Philosopher 101 is always a fun game to play.

Quote of the Moment
No matter what the shrinks, or the pundits, or the self-help books tell you, when it comes to love, it's luck.
. I think we saw this film and afterwards Mo said "you know, that felt a lot like Woody Allen flick". (Allen is not actually in it, but Kenneth Branagh does a darn fine impersonation.)

the female may turn and devour the male's head

Brooke, Mo and I took photos in the playground across the street the other day. I think that this one was my favorite. I got the chance to use a manual camera for the first time like ever almost.

Politics of the Moment
I was really angry at the instant backlash against the PAM, or Policy Analysis Market. The basic idea was making a "stock market" for predicting global events--these kinds of markets have a surprisingly great track record at collective foresight. (Heh, it's straight outta the scifi book "Shockwave Rider".) The thoughtless squashing of it by squeamish, mealy-mouth senators really struck me as the foulest case of "Political Correctness" (in a literal sense!) I had ever seen.

Slate.com had some decent pieces on it. This overview points out some possible limitations that PAM would have (because terrorists aren't rational actors as we understand the term), an article on how the principle of dumb market participants works, and then some places where you can see it in action.

Game of the Moment
This page has been a little light in the fun goofy link department lately, so here's an odd little game, Chokin Chikin. Some British game developers take on the Red Neck USA south, and this pachinko-like game is the result.

i fall to pieces

Flash Toy of the Moment
Short but rather subtley nightmarish, it's Flash toy 'clinger'. (via cryingshame58 on the loveblender board)

Story of the Moment
There is a Sufi story of a man at a bazaar who saw Death looking for him. He raced off and caught a train for New Delhi just as it pulled away. Death saw him as he left and said, 'Funny, I wonder what's he doing here. I have an appointment with him next Tuesday in Delhi.'

Article of the Moment
My favorite philosopher Daniel Dennett made some waves lately with a NY Times Editorial The Bright Stuff. There he talks about a new self-identifie "minority", the Brights. The Brights Movement page says defines a Bright as "a person whose worldview is naturalistic (free of supernatural and mystical elements)." That's it, but in a land of "faith-based initiatives the stand can be a little bold.

I think the term is a little unfortunate though, just because it sounds a bit arrogant.

Anyway, I found a reference to this on The Sound and Fury, a right-leaning Politics-and-General-Interest Blog contributed to by LAN3, reader and sometimes comments-board-contributor of this site.

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