2004 September❮❮prevnext❯❯


Haiku of the Moment

Prank of the Moment
Tip of the day: Take a screenshot of an error message, and set it as your desktop background. Move all your icons to other places on the screen so it looks like there's two of each. Move your taskbar to another side, or top of the screen. Log out of your computer and shut down. Then take it to a tech support guy and tell him how you get this error message every time your machine starts up that won't go away, and how there are two taskbars running and you have problems starting some of your programs. See how long it takes them to figure it out.
UnavailableName IM'd me with that last night.

Ramble of the Moment
So I started a new determination to watch my eating and exercise two days ago. My first day I lost 4 pounds! I figure at that rate I'll weigh 80 something pounds by October. Or I can just lost 28 or so in a week, then quit...I don't know why people say dieting is so difficult.

Music of the Moment
The PRECURSORS do really great remixes of the music from the old Star Control 2 game...

Bad News of the Moment
Man, Hurricane Frances sounds like bad news. Sometimes it amazes me that we have an infrastructure that seems to whether stuff like Hurricane Charlie without too much hassle. (At least for people not in the immediate area.)

Lessee...seriously, this is only the fourth category 5 storm this year, and the first time since 1950 that two major hurricanes have hit Florida in a month. I think anecdotal evidence is building that the weather is seriously being broken...

wellington nitroglycerin

Ramble of the Moment
So there's that new indy film with the title "Napolean Dynamite", which, supposedly by coincidence, is the pseudonym Elvis Costello (heh, not his real name either come to think of it) used on his 1986 album "Blood and Chocolate". And it made me think that an Elvis Costello fan would get ticked, because most websearches for "Napolean Dynamite" will be about the movie, not about Costello.

I decided there should be a name for this: your "Dooplegoogler" is the person or thing, more famous than you, and with a similar enough name that Google searches for you are thwarted. Now, the Costello fan can arrange to search for both full names, but I live in fear of the Scottish National Church (aka "Kirk") having a big terrorist incident at its Jerusalem chapel, because then I might be totally lost on like the tenth page of a Google search.

Quote and Art of the Moment
A good friend of mine often compares programming to music. He studied jazz improvistion at the college level and is now a programmer... so I feel like he has a good insight into this sort of thing. One quote that really made sense to me was, 'Traditional jazz improvisation is all about trying to fit creative and spontaneous music composition on top of somewhat predictable chord progressions.'

This is what many programmers try to do... develop creative solutions using predictable software design patterns. I guess Alex Mclean has found a way to be creative AND spontaneous with his coding.
Man...coding Perl live, with an audience...THAT takes cajones.
I should look into this...supposedly, getting back into making music, making some electronica using the basslines I've had in my head (and on any available piano) since highschool is the mandate for my 30s.

Image of the Moment
--sign from the Kingdom of Tonga, in the South Pacific, via ThisIsBroken.com

if he only had a brain

Political Quote of the Moment
"Who would you more likely vote for for president--the Tin Man, who is all brains and no heart, or the Scarecrow, who is all heart and no brain?" It was a landslide: Tin Man 49 percent to Scarecrow 13 percent.
Too bad in real-life the Tin Man/Scarecrow split is more like 50/50. Ok, that's not quite fair, though Bush has made some MAJOR miscalculations, which he NEVER ADMITS TO which is what ticks me off. MSNBC had an almost-fawning biography of the man, that made me a little more sympathetic to his outlook, but from day one, he never acted with the "humbleness" that he claimed or with what a guy who GOT FEWER VOTES should.

Thought of the Moment
Howard Stern was a repeat this morning, they had on some guy who is against California's Three Strikes and Your Out laws. It made me think: do you suppose the anti-Gay Marriage legislators who are whining about "activist judges" and "legislating from the bench" are some of the same ones who helped pass mandatory sentencing guidelines and "three strikes" laws that take away judges' discretion in sentencing?

Web Challenge of the Moment
Here's a simple question, but I could not Google up an answer to it: "What is the closest MBTA Subway stop to the Boston Opera House?" The Opera House itself seems to be lacking a canonical website, so all you get are ticket sites. The MBTA's search site is sadly lacking...or rather the opposite, showing me tons and tons of bus routes and what not that I'll never use. The phone number I found for the place doesn't get answered. Most tourist info sites don't mention anything about T-access.

What is this, 1995?

quotes ahoy

So I spent a rather long time updating my quote-o-matic viewer, harvesting quotes from kisrael.com all the way from May 17, 2002...309 quotes new, up to 1662 in all. It took a surprisingly long time to weed out all the good quotes, maybe 20 minutes per month. By the end I was definately asking myself "is this worth it?" but a few days ago, after most of it was done anyway, UnavailableName dropped a few quotes he liked that he had found in the old version, so that was encouraging.

Windows Annoyance Rant of the Moment
I wrote this to send into the site ThisIsBroken.com:

This might be more of a gripe, or just a reluctance to shift to a new mental model for search, but the way recent versions of Windows conduct file searches in the sidebar of the current explorer window seems like a huge step backwards from the old way of a seperate finding app...

  1. You lose your place. Often, I'm still interested in keeping the current explorer view open when I hit Ctrl-F to conduct a search, but now my whole window becomes dedicated to this one search task.
  2. Often in NT2K it takes a few seconds for the "Look in" field to be automatically field in with the location of the current Folder. Type in a quick search term, hit return, you get a message "A valid folder name must be entered"
  3. The only way to know if you're looking at a "real folder" or search results is to look at the window caption. And even when the caption indicates "Search Results", it gives you no hint of what you were searching for. (Admittedly, a detailed description could get wordy, but still, having 3 windows that say "Search Results" in the task bar isn't that useful in refinding a specific window.)
  4. To get your normal explorer view again you have to hit an IE like "back" button. This seems like a broken paradigm to me, that viewing a folder is one "task location", viewing search results is another "task location". To my mental model, an explorer view represents a "noun", and a search is more of a "verb", results and all. It's not like search results are really making up a "virtual folder".
  5. When you hit "back" to return to your folder view, the sidebar stays up. But the "Look in" field doesn't get filled in with the new folder location unless you close the sidebar and reopen it. Conversely, if you close the sidebar, your search results remain...it looks just like a regular folder though! Also, the "Look in " field changes, but the main search fields remain filled with the old data, which is useful but inconsistent.
  6. To start a search you either have to know the Ctrl-F mnemonic or use a graphical icon, there doesn't seem to be a regular menu option for it.
  7. If you accidentally hit "Up Folder" instead of "Back", you get taken to a folder view of the Desktop. Why isn't the "Folder Up" option greyed out while conducting a search? It's not like it's an easy way of backing up to the parent folder to redo the current search...that requires all the steps I outline in complaint 5...
  8. Don't get me started on XP's default "File Searching For Dummies" mode. Maybe it's good for novice users, and it can be turned off, but for exerienced users it's just a pain in the butt, and we become amazed that other people who seem otherwise to be pretty bright always use it...or even worse, with the goofy animated assistant.
I suppose my main problem is I don't share the idea I describe in complaint 4, and I really miss the old "hit Ctrl-F to launch a seperate simple find application that keeps your place here" . And maybe it's sightly easier for them to give the options to view details, thumbnails, etc in the results. (Though Photo thumbnails are often very sluggish to load.)

Maybe they were looking for a way of letting someone repeat a carefully constructed search from a different location (hence the inconsistency in complaint 5) but it seems like a poor tradeoff to me.

This app is something I use on a daily basis, and not liking its forced browser model (probably some offshoot of that whole "oh but you can't seperate the browser from the OS!") is a constant low-level thorn in my side.

If anyone knows a way of getting back the old behavior when I hit ctrl-F, I'd love to hear about it. Even some registry setting that causes a Ctrl-F search to open up a new window rather than overtaking the current one would be a HUGE improvement.

So it is a subjective opinion, but I'd say: This Is Broken.

e-mail, shme-mail...that doesn't sound quite right

For some reason alienbill.com, the site I use for email, is down. Those jerks. I'm almost dreading holiday weekends, because it seems like things are much likelier to go wrong and not get fixed through the whole damn thing. It really irritates me.

If anyone needs to email me they should try my new gmail address, kirkjerk at gmail dot com.

Image of the Moment
--via LAN3, this is a giant Digging-Wheel Excavator used in Open Cast Mining. (Bigger photo at that link--also here is another one of these behemoths... amazing to think humans can do stuff on this scale.)

Musical of the Moment
Saw Lion King the musical yesterday, as "Cagey" surmised and asked about...bought some tickets off of my ex-mother-in-law, because her husband had to hussle back to Florida to batten down the hatches for Frances. Unbeatable seats as well, right at the front center of the balcony. The Musical was great, it's a solid story, but the spectacle...the imaginative costumes and puppets were brilliant. I loved the kind of in-between conceptual space the puppets occupied. You don't just look at the puppet, you don't just observe the puppeteer, it's some synergy of the two. Really nifty.

everyone loves pi

Quote of the Moment
Love is like pi - natural, irrational, and very important.
Lisa Hoffman, the top of the page quote for this month's Blender of Love digest.
Not sure if I really like the quote or not, but ah well. Had a hard time coming up with a good "feature", settled on a brief link to this relationship quiz.

Ramble of the Boat
Heh, not much of an update today...I had a serious attack of lazy.

Pretty busy weekend, but today feels oddly like a Sunday. I was worried it was going to feel like a Saturday...I feel totally ripped off when I'm at work on a day that feels like it's the day after a Saturday.

on breath and sighing

Enigma of the Moment
I was reading my morning paper, and saw that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of "On Death and Dying" had died.

I couldn't believe it. It made me so mad.

I thought that I would give up my morning coffee if only it weren't true, and I was so sad.

But finally, I finished my coffee and went to work.
David Phillips, in "rec.humor.funny".
I liked it just for its mood and rhythm and I knew there was a joke in there but it took me a while to get it...

Game of the Moment
Kind of annoying that you only get 5 tries, and it is a commercial for a scubadiving service, but PADI Skydiver is a worthy little brief diversion, a 3D version of those those "Human Cannonball" games.

Invention of the Moment
So the story behind the amazing inventor of a whole new type of aircraft makes for some good reading. I liked the idea of using a flame as a loudspeaker...I wonder if the "Fan Wing" design will catch on? It's slow, which is useful in certain applications...the wing assembly looks a bit like a harvester behind a tractor...

Gameshow of the Moment
Ken Jennings continues to romp on Jeopardy. You know, everyone thinks he's so smart or at least knows a lot, but I'd wager (hah) that that's only half the story; probably he has opponents who know just as many of the answers but are a millisecond less quick on the trigger. (A while back Slate described the KenJen drinking game...daring to ask that age-old question, "What is the raison d'ê tre of the television-based drinking game?")

these kids today!

Quote of the Moment
When I was a kid, I used to think adults had it all figured out. I had it backwards. Kids are the ones who have it all figured out. They're just mistaken.
He seems very fond of the "rambling" type of essay, but it has to be interesting, and ideally should come up with a few surprises.
I wonder though...it seems like when you're a kid you know it all, but when you're old you're too stodgy and crusty to change your opinion...there's only some time in-between when you're flexible and adaptable and trying to work stuff out.

Statue of the Moment
--At the risk of sounding totally parochial and Beavis-and-Buttheady, what the heck is this statue / fountin center in the Boston Public Gardens all about? Two naked kids, the girl riding the boys back. And I'm not sure what the boy is doing but I guess that's where the water comes out.

Shills of the Moment
Two guys mentioned in the movie "The Corporation", ChrisAndLuke.com had an interesting strategy of being nothing but pure "spokesguys" to help raise cash for college. And it looks like it worked...it was wacky enough that they got a lot of press on talk shows and what not, so their sponsor actually got exposure, and they got money. Their original slideshow was amusing, especially the one that goes Sponsor Us: We Will Eat Your Cereal Even If We're Not Hungry!

god damn it, you've got to be kind

Quotes of the Moment
'Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- :
'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'
Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The Vonnegut quote was lurking in KHftCEA for a long time, the Rousseau I saw on a bumbersticker in June.

Resolution of the Moment
I was having dinner with FoSO and her SO (Hmm, guess that would be FoSOSO) and he mentioned that he thought caffiene had all sorts of sociological effects that people tend not to think about...irritability (especially a quickness to irritation/anger) also maybe stuff like faster speech, etc. Maybe I should try giving it up for a while, long enough to get past the headachey part...all the way back in June 1997 I noticed how irrational I was in lashing out at traffic I was stuck in...

This came up last night because I had just ordered what turned out to be a large green tea smoothy, and FoSO mentioned it would keep me up...I guess I had a little bit of trouble falling asleep, on the other hand I was going to bed at like 9:30, feeling a bit tired. Still, I'm always a little startled when I recognize a mind-body connection like that, sort of like the massage chair/gaming thing I previously wrote about.

What experience have people had with giving up caffeine? How does it go? Do you feel smarter or just more dull-witted?

Amusement of the Moment
Lee Fastenau is a guy on the [stella] Atari programming list who is working on his own very cool game Reflex...he has a superb sense of visual aesthetics. It turns out his web site has some other really nifty things, a terrific ASCII Pachinko animation toy, and th3 b35t "English-to-l33t" tr4n5l4t0r 1'v3 533n. But the Pachinko is just so cool and clever...

Passing of the Moment
So, today would've been by dad's 55th birthday. I'm sure if he was around I'd be making the same dumb jokes about the speed limit...

Instead, I'm going to note another passing that I neglected a week or two ago...my Uncle Carl died, husband of my dad's sister. Didn't really take care of himself properly after he was diagnosed with diabetes. He had a tough time of it, raising four sons after his wife died with Lou Gehrig's disease. He did the best he could, but man, Coshocton, Ohio is a pretty weird environment...it was amazing my dad escaped.

So I'll try to have a quiet moment today and think of my Uncle and then my dad.

mugging for the camera

> > >...or, as they say, a conservative is just a liberal
> > > who's been mugged.

> > From personal experience I can say that that is not true.

> William, William, William...
> ...have you been out mugging liberals again?

No, Chad. I am a *Scientist* conducting experiments.
Step 1: Mug liberal
Step 2: See if his political opinions change.
Step 3: Mug a Conservative
Step 4: Don't care if his opinions change, did it for the money.
Step 5: Enjoy a well earned pint or two.

Science takes commitment, but I'm up to the job.

William Hyde, rec.arts.sf.written (via Danny Sichel in alt.humor.best-of-usenet.)
Link of the Moment
Junkmachine is all about some wacky Nintendo projects...most noticeably the NES case for a PC. I wouldn't mind one of those...

financial vegetable

Plant of the Moment
A topic I jotted down in my pilot a LONG time ago, like maybe even before I started kisrael.com: Is Your Fund Manager Smarter than a Yucca? The idea is wiring up a plant with sensors and letting it select stocks. This was kind of big news, though I never heard what the final results finally were.

frontloggin! (backlog flush #51)

My scratchpad areas are getting full of links I've meaning to get to (even though there's a proper database that I'm supposed to use to record those) so here are those links, as well as some other tidbits I meant to look into.

is there no truth in beauty?

Ramble of the Moment
So I really love my GPS navigator thing for my car. And while its route plotting and tracking function is its most crucial and useful routine, it occured to me that somehow it's cooler when it's just displaying my position on a map, just sitting there silently doing its thing, mellowly printing the name of the cross streets.

Similarly, whenever I see a vending machine where some of the slots are empty, I'm always tempted to put in some money and punch the code for the empty slot, watching the little spiral thing turn, just an odd bit of vending machine performance art.

I'm trying to think of other examples of the beauty of zen-like mechanical uselessness...

Conspiracy Theory of the Moment
WTC 7 was a 47 story building near the twin towsers that collapsed, supposedly because of debris from the towsers and some internal fires (maybe some fuel had been stored there.) Some people says that seems unlikely, and that when FDNY said they were going to "pull it" they meant demolish it, not just withdraw their men. On the other hand, planting explosives would've been a kind of tough job that day. So what the hell went on?

Article of the Moment
Slate had a well-written piece about the use of printed gaming guides and online FAQs called Turn Left At The Zombie.

Pathetic Fishing for Comments of the Moment
Is anybody out there? I can hear you breathing...

Seriously, how was your weekend? I think I'll always breathe a sigh of relief whenever a September 11th passes without incident.

drink deep

--This kind of water jug is popular at work...I think it holds as much water as your supposed to drink in a day. Now that I've added eyes and teeth, it looks like I'm drinking from Maakies' Uncle Gabby's head...even more so in this most recent cartoon where he's shaved it.

Quote of the Moment
... Had this been an actual emergency, we would have fled in terror, and you would not have been informed.

Modern Folk Wisdom of the Moment
So FoSO, who lives not too far from me in Arlington, has made an observation that I thought was really clever, a neat bit of modernish folk wisdom: when it's summer, and you hear airplanes over Arlington, that means it's likely to be good sleeping weather. Cool huh?

It works because a high pressure system in the west is associated with weather from Canada, blue skies and cool dry air. And airplanes take off into the wind, so if they're heading west from Logan they'll pass over Arlington. (Candi, are you at all impressed?)

you don't get any ice cream, scumbag

Dialog of the Moment
isnoop writes:
TheChirurgeon: "So, what would you do if you were rich?"
Me: "You mean when I'm rich?"
TheChirurgeon: "Yeah."
Me: "Well, I would probably pay a big dude to follow my roommate around, and every time he got some ice cream, the big dude would slap it out of his hands onto the ground. Then he would be like 'You don't get any ice cream, scumbag'."

Note: This roommate and I aren't enemies, but he was there, and we constantly mess with each other.

ANAmal: "Wouldn't he eventually just stop eating ice cream?"
Roommate: "Yeah, I would probably stop."
Me: "Yeah, and then I would have the big dude hide, so that when you went to get ice cream, and you thought you were safe, he'd jump out, and then knock it out of your hands."
Roommate: "Yeah, but-"
Me: "And then I'd pay another big dude to follow you around in an ice cream truck, and constanlty offer out free ice cream."
Roommate: "So... much... hate."

Worth clicking through.

Map of the Moment
This is a nifty map/poll of the USA, showing states sized relative to how many electoral votes they're worth. I wish the news wasn't looking so Bush-postive though. Man, I had a feeling Kerry isn't the right guy...I hope against hope that the debates manage to turn it aroud.


Funny of the Moment
The 25 Best Futurama Moments Ever. A surprising amount of the humor comes through...

Sketch of the Moment
--Touchpad sketch of a co-worker...I find touchpads much harder to sketch with than normal mice or even the old trackballs, but sometimes it's fun to try to work with the limits of the medium.

Coins of the Moment
More new nickels. Interesting...it's cropped in close, and I guess that's the way it's going to be from here on in. Also he's facing right, thus ruining one little bit of folklore how Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Washington all face away from Lincoln ('cause he freed the Slaves, or some such nonesense.) (Another CNN story...this poor guy died after a lightning strike. And not to pick on a young man senselessly killed, but I was struck by his photo...it seems like his features could be expanded to fill more of his face...)


Geek Ramble of the Moment
You know, I just thought of one major lack of Java, and to be fair, most C-derived programming languages: a function can have many input parameters but only one return value. That's a really odd asymmetry to have to put up with.

Perl, for example, handles it much better...it's no problem to write something like

($foo, $bar, $baz) = somefunction($a,$b,$c);

In Java, though, you'd have two ugly workarounds: create a wrapper object that contains each thing you want to return, or if the objects are complex, sometimes you can have the calling program create an object, pass it in, and let the called function fill in the blanks. (Kind of like Oracle's "INOUT" parameters.)

Personally, I think this lack is something that provokes over use of Exceptions, which really do horrendous things to understanding a programs flow of execution.

Seriously, would it be so hard to add a syntax so something like this would work?

int foo;
String bar;
(foo,bar,String baz) = somefunction();

public int,String,String somefunction(){
   return (5,"hey","ho");

Does anyone know if any of the other C-derived languages handle this case better? C# or any of that? I know they're hyper-conservative about adding this kind of structure to Java, since it breaks old compilers and what not. But still, it seems like one of those things that actually is pretty stupid and only around for legacy reasons but that everyone just kind of accepts.

Quote of the Moment
The more sensitive you are, the more likely you are to be brutalised, develop scabs, never evolve. Never allow yourself to feel anything, because you always feel too much.
Marlon Brando, via Candi
An odd if depressing idea, but it seems like not allowing yourself to feel anything is a kind of scab in and of itself, a protective barrier. I guess I like the more mild message of Janeane Garofalo's line "Cultivate the Switzerland of your soul and remain delightfully detached."

Analysis of the Moment
So just how badly is Iraq going for us? What a dumbass idea the occupation has been. Neocons live in a dreamland.

Photo of the Moment

--Hurrican Ivan as seen from the International Space Station. I like how my eye misread this at first, seeing the solar panels as buildings, with the menacing cloud in the apocalyptic sky above...

cosmic ark swarm

Java Toy of the Moment
click to play

cosmicarkswarm - Source code // Built with Processing

"Cosmic Ark Swarm"--I'd been thinking about this little toy for too long...for months a very rough version of the source code was clogging up one of my journal backlog tools, and in a way, this is the kind of "random critters moving around" thing I've wanted to make since...yeesh, at least 1987. This is a big wildlife refuge providing a home for all 7 critter-types (kisrael'd previously) from the Atari 2600 game Cosmic Ark by Imagic. The beasties are skittish about your mouse pointer, and rightfully so...pressing the mouse button turns the pointer into a little sticky tractor beam that lets you pick 'em up as you sweep by.

Video of the Moment
Funny...I ran into Strindberg and Helium on memepool just before Candi remembered it from way back when and mentioned it in her LJ. Very strange stuff...kinda like Poe meets the Care Bears, or something. "Absinthe and Women" is probably the best one: "How sweet life can be when the misery of one's existence is blurred by slight intoxication."

milkshakes from the blender

(1 comment)
Quote of the Moment
Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.
Wally Lamb.
I'm not entirely sure of the context, but I think it predates the "my milkshake brings all the boys in the yard."

Journal Entry of the Moment

Video of the Moment
Goofy yet information rich video: Behind the Typeface: Cooper Black. The typeface "for far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers". It amazes me how many typefaces and fonts there are out there sometimes.

Sage Advice of the Moment
kirk: man, i'm getting some stuff done and i still have plenty of time for more, but i really feel like i'm pissing the day away...
LAN3: hehe. I like to do that on Sunday, though I was given an open invite to call a cute woman if I'm going to see a movie today, so I'm tempted to get up and go far far earlier than I normally would.
kirk: w00t!
kirk: but i do have a cold, and i could theoertically say i'm 'recovering' from the party-hardying last night.
LAN3: hehe. You don't need an excuse to piss away a Sunday. It's what people do.
--March 28 2004. I find great solace in that line "You don't need an excuse to piss away a Sunday. It's what people do."

mmm, 13 german girls crammed in a smart car

Link of the Moment
Not that great but maybe worth a glance, the 50 weirdest Guinness World Records. You know it's weird, but I think this might be the first time since I've started drinking Guinness beer that I remembered its connection to the collection of world records...(though somewhere I heard it was made to help settle bar bets.) I like the final one: MOST PEOPLE CRAMMED INTO A SMART CAR: 13 girls in Munich, Germany, in 1999.

Quote of the Moment
Cosmo? I just want you to know. No matter what you do. You are going to die, just like everybody else.

Advertisement of the Moment

That's an excerpt from an old AtariSoft advertisement (1/4 way down the page). I think the AtariAge crew found it amusing for two reasons: one is the game "Manholes of Venus", which is just funny on so many levels. (I don't know if it's supoosed to be a reference to Infocom's actual text adventure game "Leather Godesses of Phobos".) Two is just the sheer SASSY emanating from the girl as she scorns the boy for not having the good games...

Yow! Talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't havin' none of that.

Also, slightly funny: the final panel of the ad is clearly labeled "The Next Day." but ALL the kids are in the exact same clothes. Man, those kids woulda been beat up or at least mocked if they tried that at my middle school. It kind of cuts back on the brotherly kumbaya that that beaming blond kid is trying to spread.

News Commentary of the Moment
Interesting. Maybe no matter who wins A quick exit from Iraq is likely, though neither side is admitting that. I don't see how this "messy new Iraq" is preferable to what a Saddam-run police state was...especially since we withdrew the inspectors rather than giving the inspections military teeth. It looks like by avoiding a 70s-era-Vietnam we're heading for another 90s-era Afghanistan.

go google go

Geek News of the Moment
There's a buzz that Google is working on its own browser. If anyone has the juice to take on IE's dominance, it's those guys. Maybe I'd even switch! This has got to be making Microsoft sweat...even though browsers are given away free, it's still an important source of control...in fact, some people think Microsoft worked hard to achieve browser dominance to eventually stop innovation in that area, because then the web might be more able to move in functionality Microsoft would like to see stay on the desktop OS.

Quote of the Moment
Racism is wrong. Judge people one at a time and realize most of them are a**holes.
xalres on Slashdot

Ramble of the Moment
You know, sometimes it's the details that really make something, or the action around the action. Like when I watch football, for some reason I'm really interested in how players help other players back to their feet after a play. Or how people on the sideline react when a player from the other team almost runs into them...are they friendly, or mean? I find that kind of interaction about as engrossing as the action of the game itself.

The other thing I like is when my UU-church ends with a kind of benediction with everyone holding hands, and at the end, you give the hands you're holding a reasurring little squeeze, a small message of mutual friendship. For some reason I dig that.

Just the little details I find interesting...

Another little detail: isn't it strange how almost all car hoods out there have the same design, something like this:
| \    / |
|OO ## OO|
##      ##
It's that V-shape that interests me....if you greatly expanded it, you'd see something like those old-timey cars, with a big space in the middle for the engine, and then fenders on either side, where the headlights go. Check it out...almost all the cars you see around have that trifold pattern, though there are some vans than are just a single crease in the middle. I don't know if this pattern is so predeminant for engineering reason, or if it's now just ingrained that that's how cars should look...UPDATE: the PT Cruiser is a good modern take on what I meant by "old-timey" car, and I still think it's interesting how most cars seem influenced by that.

Those are just some things that have been going through my head the last few days, though taken together they don't make up the most coherent blog entry I'm afraid...


Quote of the Moment
Famous last words? Lemme think here. All right, here we go. Ummm...Never have I waltzed to 'My Country 'Tis Of Thee,' nor met anyone who did. Still, it's a waltz, for it's written in waltz time.
Tom Waits, A.V. Club interview in "The Tenacity of the Cockroach".
Come to think of it, "Star Spangled Banner" is in waltz time as well. But "My Country 'Tis of Thee" has a beat that's kind of hard to hear--is it still a waltz? Still I think it would be a good national anthem as well...

Lamp of the Moment
Most interesting idea for a lamp I've seen for a while...it slumps over when the room is empty, and stands and lights itself when it senses people...I don't know how well people sensor work these days though...

Ramble of the Moment
(Yesterday's rambling brought in some gratifying (and relatively unsolicited) feedback, and that made me think I should write more often. It might spruce up kisrael a bit, get away from the found-links-and-quotes grind, make it that much more personal. (Though I still think of finding and archiving good quotes as my own pseudo-spiritual "mission") I don't want to force it, but usually I have one or two themes percolating in my hindbrain over the course of a couple days, so that might make good ramble fodder.)

So, today's the first day of Autumn. Always a melancholy time for me; nature going into its annual coma, the unnerving number of relatives I've had pass away this time of year. But it's a good time to look back at the summer preceding it.

A few weeks ago, my UU church had an "end of summer" service, marking the start of its regular season. (Over the summer, attendance is way down, and the lay ministry takes over running the meetings, and so far I think I like that better than the Autumn crowds...) They have a nice tradition of asking people to bring back water that represents their summer activities, then they put all the water together in a special container (for use in ceremonies throughout the year) and read off all the descriptions people gave. There were quite a few "Arlington tapwater"s, of course, but also water from a wide variety of places, including a few "water from Hurricane Charley"s. If I had known about the tradition, maybe I would've grabbed some Lake Erie from my trip back to Cleveland, but instead I realized the right choice was...Aquafina.

CVS sells 12 packs of the stuff for three or four bucks, and for some reason I wasn't like liking (sarcastic proofreading via EB) the tapwater in my new apartment, though I was fine with the stuff back in Waltham. And so buying Aquafina has become a bit of a ritual for me, and I guess it represents my efforts to regain my balance and set up a base for my new life as much as anything.

It was the summer of Aquafina. I got my new place, got my new car, visited the old hometown, reconnected with some old friends, my mom got to move back to finally be within just-drop-in distance of her sister and of me, got my teeh whitened, even started dating a bit again...it wasn't so bad.

Of course, there's still a lot of clutter there, emotional and otherwise, just like I haven't quite figured out the best way of getting rid of the empty bottles so they stack up a bit. Still, I have a lot to be grateful for, and even though we're entering that dark time of year, I'm pretty happy and I think that I've regained my equilibrium to a large degree.

every rose has its thorny problem

Brainteaser of the Moment
Can you figure out Petals Around the Rose? You're allowed to know that the name of the game is significant, and that every answer is zero or an even number (and really, shouldn't zero be thought of as an easy number? I mean it's pinioned there between two odd numbers and all...but I digress.) And you can be told the answer for every individual throw of the dice. Here's how Bill Gates dealt with it.

If you figure it out, don't tell. That's part of the fun.

I remember figuring it out way back in the day, but I have to admit I slightly brute forced it by rolling and rolling without guessing very hard. But I had a handicap, see comments for that because it slightly gives something away.

Ramble of the Moment
I went over to my mom's place after yoga last night...nice to have her around within easy driving distance (not to mention about 5 minutes away from the yoga class.) At one point, I opened a small bottle of creme soda, took a swig, pursed by lips and nodded aprovingly...my mom mentioned that I strongly resembled by dad doing that. (Hmm...genetic? Learned at an early age? I dunno!) It reminds me of that time Judy (Beau's Mom...and congrats on getting the rose puzzle Beau...) mentioned I strongly reminded her of Jim (my dad) with my stance as I stood with my back to her in the bandroom, looking at some sheet music. I'm always a little touched to hear stuff like that I think.

Quote of the Moment
Since we can't by definition understand life and the world, we might as well choose a useful way of pretending to.
Roger Ebert

we're all earthbound right now

Game Geekery of the Moment
Lost Levels Online is a site about all these games that never saw public release, even though many were pretty close to complete...one of the most legendary of those is the NES game EarthBound, a quality port of a Japanese RPG. (Interestingly, its main character Nes made it into every version of Nintendo Super Smash Brothers.) There's other neat stuff in there as well

Quote of the Moment
I used to think that the human brain was the most fascinating part of the body. Then I realized, well, look what's telling me that.
Emo Philips

Game of the Moment
Cool! The BBC released a 20th Anniversary Edition of Infocom's Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure...they added some graphics, showing a sketch of each scene. The purist in me hates that, but I have to admit it's much easier to get a mental grip with the illustrations. These were notoriously difficult games, but GameFAQs has some guides. The second one is just a "type this", "type this", "type this", the first is a little more casual. Actually, there might be the original Infocom style hints as well.

Observation of the Moment
Thank goodness...I think I've finally forgotten how to do "The Macarena".

kirk's moving rule no. 381: don't lose your damn keys (wallet either)

Passage of the Moment
It's hard to stop looking for something without simultaneously giving up hope. I don't know how. Buddhists learn the art of non-attachment, or they say they do. But have you ever seen a Buddhist lose his car keys? I have, and they're just like the rest of us.
Erika Krouse, "Zero"

Random Gripe of the Moment
Feh. Typing "amazon.com" only works like half the time, but "www.amazon.com" works all the time. I hate typing the "www" and I always secretly look down (just a little bit) on people who instinctively type it in first when you're telling them about a new URL. Even if sometimes they're right and you need the "www".

Image of the Moment
--82-Year-Old Pole Vaulter, via cellar.org's Image of the Day. Man, I hope I'm still physically active when I'm that age, even if not quite THAT active...

Bad News of the Moment
EB pointed out that what passes for my "hometown", Cleveland is ranked poorest big city in the USA, despite some promising rebound activities in the 90s.

I was in the suburbs of Cleveland for most of middle school and all of high school...actually, I was van monitor during my summer job with the Catholic Diocese's Daycamp for Mentally Handicapped kids, and got to ride through those neighborhoods on a daily basis.

It's tough to hear about this, especially since those poor neighborhoods on the East Side of Cleveland were kind of pushing their way east into the towns I went to school in. Our community in Cleveland Heights (7th and 8th grade) was especially interesting, half-Black (who wanted a nice neighborhood to live) and half-Orthodox Jew (who wanted to be within walking distance of the temple.)

lord of the plbbbbt

Juvenile Humor of the Moment
Ok, this is funny in the tweleve-year-oldest sense of the word possible...the Good Lord How That Stinks! Was That You? of the Rings video. It did make me giggle out loud, so it gets a link...

Helpful Web Hint of the Moment
So yesterday's grumble about typing "www." inspired some interesting conversation, including the rosser pointing out that in IE, you can type just the "unique" part of a .com URL and it fills in the http://www. and .com for you when you type ctrl-enter.

Makes me wonder if the UK version defaults to .com or .co.uk ...

damn good advice

(1 comment)
Quote of the Moment
Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
Mark Twain

Travel Photos of the Moment
Somewhat interesting, a Canadian's view of Korea...he worked there for a while as a teacher, and took a sidetrip into Japan. Hampered a bit by a clunky interface, but still some good content. (via Bill the Splut)

Games of the Moment
The 50 Best Shooters...some of them aren't shooters in the traditional sense, but it gives about the right amount of description for each one...just a sentence or two blurb for the early ones, but the most important ones get longer, more loving writeups.

touch my vitals quickly, lest i die!

Toy of the Moment
The Victorian Sex Cry Generator is definately worth a few giggles.

Drawings of the Moment
--A page from shooter Malvo's notebook, from the evidence in the "DC Sniper" case. Via cellar.org Image of the Day, which has a bit more information and a larger version.

Quote of the Moment
The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy ... neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
John W. Gardner.
And you know...do you ever think about the massive infrastructure indoor plumbing represents? It's pretty astounding, just the volume of material a typical municipal system must have to deal with...I'm grateful for that time on Insomniac where the host hangs out with those guys down there, just gives a small sense of the scale of it all.

And of course, how do we judge "shoddiness in philosophy"? Ay, that's there's the rub. (proofreading EB)

lights! camera! etc!

As we enter the dark half of the year, I'm realizing I really don't have enough lights in my apartment. The place is kind of weird, with lots of switches that don't do anything, and few overhead lights...instead most of the rooms have an odd vent thing, cocentric circles in the middle of the ceiling. Maybe some fuses are blown or something, but it doesn't seem like the round vents do much, except for the one in the bathroom.

Anyway, I've grown rather fond of these florescent lights, the freestanding "Torchier" kind, similar the hoardes of halogen ones in the mid-90s. TAGS has them for a ridiculously low, subsidized price, like $7 or $8. (Not as much of a selection as they did during the summer however.) I find florescent light is wonderful as long as it is bounced off of a wall or ceiling. And I like that they use less energy. And if one tips over, it's not going to burn down the house, and probably won't become a little insect frying pan either.

In other news...I'm dabbling with using gmail fulltime, so my new address is kirkjerk at gmail dot com. (Hmm, maybe I should switch to a more professional alias?) All my old email addresses work as well. I'm surprised at what a leap of faith it feels like for me, switching from my trusty, rusty "crappy homebrew webmail system" to this. It handles attachments much better however, and has a lot of other cool features.

Article of the Moment
Trust me...historically speaking, your job isn't that bad.

Email Quote of the Moment
If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.
from this email, supposedly from Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ's Mideast correspondent in Baghdad, making the rounds.
It paints a pretty grim picture. (Slate points out no matter how good or bad a situation, it just shows Bush was Right, infallible in his own mind.)

Essay of the Moment
Another lovely Paul Graham musing: What The Bubble Got Right. Very amusing illustration at top, now that I think about it. Oh how I miss the dot com days...

how to make work work

Quote and Ramble of the Moment
Considerable evidence suggests that if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods -- such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job -- then the evidence paints a very different picture. The less we spend on conspicuous consumption goods, the better we can afford to alleviate congestion; and the more time we can devote to family and friends, to exercise, sleep, travel, and other restorative activities. On the best available evidence, reallocating our time and money in these and similar ways would result in healthier, longer -- and happier -- lives.
Robert Frank, Professor of Economics at Cornell, glimpsed in Wired and from kottke.org
Man, what a thought-provoking statement!

I wish I knew how to act on it. Wish I had a better understanding of how my budget worked. It seems like I should be able to live on a lot less and I'm essentially debt-free (and with a comfortable buffer from the house) but my Savings grows very. Very. Slowly. Is it the toys? Media? Rent?

I can't complain about my job: it's not very strenuous, it's not physical labor, it pays well, my team has added some interesting and fun people. I must complain about my job: it's really tough to get motivated about its random projects, it has an awful commute, and I'm not happy with my work there. I guess most of my complaints are about the cosmic injustice that we all have to work except for this exceedingly tiny minority. Is it a life out of balance? Am I missing some fundamental daoist thing in not being able to find a deep satisfaction with my daily efforts?

There was an interesting Ask Slashdot about how to make programming fun again. It sounds like this guy really has it together.

One question: how restorative is travel? It always seems kind of stressful but fun, along with being something people "should" do. Or maybe the problem is that vacations always get lumped into these 1 or 2 week chunks, enough time that you feel compelled to "do something cool", but not enough time to really fit into the new lifestyle?

Sometimes it feels like my life and relationships and nation's politics all need a reboot. Not to wipe everything out, just get rid of the cruft, start with mostly the same installed programs, but free and clean to make a better go of it all.

Image of the Moment
--Ksenia (this very nice gal I've been dating as of late) at the top of the stairs. I like the way the lighting came out.

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