2005 March❮❮prevnext❯❯

hot dungeon ogre sex...roll for initiative!

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Anecdote (with Cusses) of the Moment
"this morning, while joking around with my girlfriend, i referred to my 'male implement' as a 'wand of fucking +2,' and proceeded to request that she make a saving throw against orgasm. she immediately lashed out at me, stating that if i ever attempted to mix our sex life and dungeons and dragons ever again, there'd be hell to pay - and not the kind of hell that you get to ever have sex with ever again."
Sometimes I am glad that I don't have to admit to ever, EVER having played an actual game of D+D. (via morecake)

Video of the Moment
Here's an environmental message video using that old chestnut of how a frog won't jump out of hot water if you heat it very slowly. Leaving aside the way that the actual metaphor for global warming would be that we should hop away from planet Earth, it makes me wonder...who was the sick S.o.B. who first noticed this little nugget of observed amphibian behavior wisdom? (Feh, actually, Snopes debunks this...a good rule of thumb is, if anything seems too cute to be true, check snopes.)

Incredibly Mundane Update of the Moment
To the Quote-O-Matic viewer I caved in (after having to hunt for the URL to use) and made a link to see the whole list of quotes on one giant page. Maybe it's kind of like giving away the store, but oh well.

scion, scioff

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Lesson Learned of the Moment
Yesterday was probably my worst day of the whole season for car-digging out...the snow was just so wet and heavy. Plus, I'm a moron, and misjudged how wide an entrance had been dug out to my building's mini-parking lot, and backed half my car into a snowbank. I was stuck pretty badly for a bit...I probably should've tried to get some help from a neighbor. At one point I left the car in gear to "creep" forward and then got out to push...on a scale of "1" to "safe and smart" it probably ranks pretty low, but at least it got the job done.

Speaking of my car...I'm still pretty infatuated with it. It just has that "cute" and "utilitarian" vibes down so well. I suspect I might be the tiniest tad insecure about it somehow, like people who think it's underpowered on the highways (which I totally disagree with, but whatever) because I so enjoy positive coverage, like they had recently in "In the Autoblog Garage", Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 + 5.

float like a butterfly, sting like treponema pallidum

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Quote of the Moment
If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
Muhammad Ali

Photo of the Moment
--at a loss for things to say today, thought I'd show you this twisted picture. These are some of the same guys involved in happyface bowling a few months ago.

first love

Poem of the Moment
They say
the first love's most important.
That's very romantic,
but not my experience.

Something was and wasn't there between us,
something went on and went away.

My hands never tremble
when I stumble on silly keepsakes
and a sheaf of letters tied with string--
not even a ribbon.

Our only meeting after years:
the conversation of two chairs
at a chilly table.

Other loves
still breathe deep inside me.
This one's too short of breath even to sigh.

Yet, just exactly as it is,
it does what the others still can't manage:
not even seen in dreams,
it introduces me to death.
Wislawa Szymborska.
Sigh, "KJ"...summer camp, shared "atomic fire balls" by the side of the lake. A few letters, a few disinterested phonecalls, and that was pretty much that.

i, mario

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Image of the Moment

--Some gamers are talking about What If Nintendo made a violent and realistic Mario game? (Called "I, Mario".) There's an concept art image gallery which includes this size chart...I love the almost Lovecraftian sense of evil these silhouettes provide -- here's the full version. It goes from Mario and Luigi on the left all the way to Thwomp and Bowzer on the right.

I haven't read too much of the pages and pages of discussion, but I wonder how many of the gamers realize how many aspects of that 1993 Mario Brothers movie (you know, the one that stars Latino John Leguizamo as Luigi...as long as he's swarthy, I guess.) Especially the work on a realistic Yoshi. Heh...I took Ross to see it when I was going out with his sister...it wasn't quite as terrible as people assumed. I remember two things: really having to go to the bathroom duing the middle of it, and Samantha Mathis' lovely purple-shifting-to-white dress, scanned here from the soundtrack. (Decent soundtrack, btw.)

Product Video of the Moment
If you want to see what Chickens have nightmares about it must be the E Z Catch Harvester that sweeps through Chickens like they were wheat and puts them into pens. Make sure to click on the link for the video of it in action. (via BoingBoing)

he's a SUPER super man

--This Panel made me laugh off and on for like half an hour last night...from Superman Origin Comics (via Bill the Splut) I think I'm going to enjoy going through the JayPinkerton.com backog.

nuts of dough

Fortune Cookie of the Moment
Don't expect romantic attachments to  
    be strictly logical or rational!
   Lucky Numbers 6, 7, 26, 27, 36, 37
--Fortune Cookie Fortune that I've been carrying in my wallet for a while, I transcribed it for the latest issue of the Blender of Love Digest.

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

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

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

3, 5, 7, 11, 13...that's enough for now

Minutiae of the Moment
In making an as-yet-unpublished essay for the site, I started writing down what, exactly, are the projects I would like to spend my freetime on in the near future...here's the list, in a very rough order matching that in which I'd like to tackle them. (These are all the fairly concrete, often computer-oriented projects, and don't include vacations I'd like to take, some personal-growth issues I have, and other stuff like that.) UPDATE: August 12, 2008 I came back to this page, struck out more stuff I had done, and started using italics to indicate things I no longer care about, either the context has changed, or my level of interest.

The list probably isn't complete, but it is a good start. So when I complain about not having enough freetime for "projects", this is what I'd like to be doing.

Maybe I should make a special link to this page, and update it, so that every thing I get done gets crossed out once I do it.

I think I do carry this not-particularly well-founded belief that if I just get this stuff done, my life would bliss and easy from then on in. Heh, though having that kind of freetime would be pretty blissful...

It's funny, when I think about what I really want from vacation time, it's not to go some place nice and isolated and get away from things...it's being someplace with a good net connection and getting lots of time to work on this kind of stuff and still goof off a bit.

Quote of the Moment
I think prime numbers are like life.
They are very logical but you could never work out the rules,
Even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

famous to 15 people

Quote of the Moment
On the Web everyone will be famous to 15 people.
I read it and it seemed like the truest and funniest idea about second- and third-tier blogs like mine since that Onion piece Mom Finds Out About Blog

Cartoon of the Moment

--from the New Yorker August 31 1992 edition...I think seeing this cartoon led me to make a lot of "J'accuse!" jokes and references during college that no one got and weren't very funny anyway.

swimming in the afternoon

Poem of the Moment
Graffiti poem from the old laundry room of my Aunt and Uncle's house (now a kitchenette)
This poem was there along with all these phone numbers, ballpoint-pen'd on a wall. That room was remodeled years ago, I thought of the second half of this poem last week but couldn't recall the first two lines until last night.

Diary Entry and Art Study of the Moment
Swimming in the afternoon
Sole entry in Kafka's journal, on learning of the outbreak of WWI in 1914.
This was a footnote in a some cool Slate Dali coverage -- I guess there's a new show of his work, NPR had some coverage of it.

never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

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Exchange of the Moment
>> <POINT>
>> Microsoft has no excuse for not producing brilliant products. It has
>> enourmous resources at it's disposal, and anything less than secure,
>> reliable, pristine products is by design.
>> </POINT>
> Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by
> stupidity.

Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
TuxTrax, Rob Hughes, and Hamilcar Barca in comp.os.linux.advocacy

Passing of the Moment
It's the fifth anniverary of the peak of the NASDAQ, herald of that whole dot com thing. Damn, damn, DAMN but I miss those days. I had dinner with Rob Baum, a coworker of mine from Event Zero, my dot com adventure. (Relative to a lot of people, it was pretty mild, but still.)

Rob is such a funny guy. For some reason I find it really easy to start comic riffing with him.


--I didn't have much to say today so I thought I'd post a picture of my incredibly girly hammer. I know it's probably not pro-feminist of me to be so amused by a tool with lots of country-folksy flowers on it, but hey. It's a pretty useful, if not particularly heavy-duty tool, in that it also contains a set of 3 screwdrivers in the handle, both phillips and flathead.

the way things went

Videos of the Moment
Remember that Honda Ad with the Rube Goldberg contraption? Some guys at the University opf Cambridge have done it for real. (I heard the Honda ad had a few moments of computer generation, though it is a little more cleanly laid out.)

Supposedly both are derivative of the video The Way Things Go, which looks like it should be a constant half hour, but you can see some cuts they have, using closeups of smoke to mask the transitions. Back when I was trying an odd ipod-based frankenstereo setup for a party, I had to put in some video to the tv so it wouldn't auto shutoff (taking the sound with it) and also to have "video wallpaper"...I put in that video, which immediately became the hit of the party and no dancing happened 'til the video was done.

pac-man fever. it's driving me, driving me, driving me crazy.

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Quote and Logo of the Moment
"I thought that one of the things women like to do is eat. So I started working on a game concept based on eating."
Toru Iwatari, inventor of Pac-Man
On a similar note, I thought that the image at the top of every page of the new New England Classic Gamers site was a bit tall, so I tried to doodle up my own version...

I didn't spend very long on it, but I guess it shows why I'm a developer and not a designer. Of course, at NECG, we emphasize Pac-Man's fondness of drink over that of food...this is the original version, and of course mine was meant as a replacement for (and borrowed from) this version...maybe I should've spent more time duplicating the shading...shading is one thing I've never been good at, but that one looks like it has a style that would be easy to emulate.

poo poo kitty farts

Usenet Funny of the Moment
> What is it with cat farts? They're enough to kill you
> if yer feelin' a bit fragile.

Dunno, but I unforget a friend's cat Drainpipe relaxing washing what would have been his balls being sniffed by one of their collies. Cat farted straight up dog's nostrils.
Dog spent half an hour rubbing its nose along the carpet, pawing at it and snotting everywhere.

We of course were in hysterics.

x(yz)enophi and Guy King in uk.rec.sheds
Incidentally, today's title comes from a nickname of one of the Blender of Love's pranksters.

Marketing Ramble of the Moment
I was listening to the radio the other day and they had a report on how the Ford Freestyle won some award or other, and is generally pretty popular car. The marketdroid said something very similar to the copy on this page; "Freestyle blends the aspirational looks of a sport utility vehicle, the versatility of a minivan and the confidence of an all-wheel-drive sedan."

The phrase that hit me was the "aspirational looks of an SUV". Putting aside the fact that this is the most "station-wagon-my-parents drove-to-pick-up-kid-for-Sunday-School"-looking thing I've seen on the road lately, I guess I'm surrounded by people for whom SUVs are an object of derision, not of aspiration. (Though with my general sour-grapes grass-ain't-greener outlook on life, I probably have a poorer sense of "aspiring" to things than most people.)

Of course, this is the same company which name their entry-level subcompact the "Ford Aspire"...maybe I'm just an arrogant S.O.B. who doesn't realize how lucky he is to have bought two (admittedly entry level) new cars in a row, but all I can think of is "...because you aspire to owning a much better car".

Apropos of not too much, I see my car's carmaker Scion is looking to fund a record label, not for making money, just to keep up its street cred. One of the Scion-branded Mix CDs I got was great (and actually probably did a fair amount to subconsciously influence my decision..it definately got me thinking about the brand) though the earlier one I begged off of Evil B. was terrible.

outlook not so good

Rant of the Moment
Man, I hate hate HATE how Outlook "helpfully" tried to preserve the font and coloring information when you cut and paste from a web browser. Am I alone in thinking that if you're writing an email, you don't want it to look like a mishmash of fonts and colors? That an email is usually a single nit that has its own cohesive sense of displaying text? It might be tolerable if it weren't for the completely retarded way that when you start typing after the cut and paste, your new text is in the same wacky font and color.

I know I should probably be sticking to non-HTML "Plain Text" mode, but sometimes it's useful to bold something to bring attention to it, and using asterisks for *emphasis* is a little too old school.

Feh. Outlook is broken both by design and implementation -- trying to correct the problem by selecting all of my text and then picking a new style led to bizarre inconsistent results. Almost makes me wish for a Word Perfect-ish "Reveal Codes" or a browser "Edit as HTML Source" option so I can figure out how it gets so screwed up.

of shots and shouts

Political Geek Art Snark of the Moment
snark, boojum Source code // Built with Processing
A little Java toy...click on the window and you can type in your own message to be placed over the shot of Bush waving a small flag. I'm surprised I haven't posted that Thurber poem here before, it's one of my favorites and I know it by heart. I suppose depending on your political persuasion, you could type in something more supportive of or more nasty about our Commander-in-Chief.

Keen-eyed regulars may recognize this (not terribly original) technique of text-over-image, last year I made three pieces Cider, Accuse, To Sleep, though those were all "By Hand" as it were. Now I can let the computer do most of the dirty work.

I should make up a webpage that lets you upload or use an arbitrary image from the web and with some better text editing options. (The current thing only understands "backspace" for editing.)

Actually, now that it's a java applet there's more things I could do than with the static images...I already use a "one letter at a time" display, but also theres no reason the image behind couldn't be changing, either some frames of an animation, or just flipping through various images.

Thought of the Moment
So last night I was showing that app to Candi...she thought it was kind of cool that I program "for fun" too, while she just does what she needs to for school. I was going to say that that's what seperates "real programmers" from other people, but then I realized I know a large number of "real programmers" but very very few of 'em do this kind of stuff for fun per se, as far as I can tell. But I've been doing that for years and years; I think a lot of the kids in the 80s did that, but then a lot of people just gave it up. "Recreational Programming" is a bit of an arcane field.

mimicking him hiccuping

Ksenia said she like yeterday's green-ness, but didn't even realize that it was for St. Patrick's Day. So I thought I should try tweaking the color scheme just a little bit, like this dark blue. I dunno, better, worse?

Tongue Twiser of the Moment
"She stood on a balcony inexplicably mimicking him hiccuping and amicably welcoming him in."
Speed-talker John "Micro Machines Guy" Moschitta Jr's favorite warmup exercise.
That's a provocative little sentence I thought, though easier to say than "Toy Boat" over and over.

Thought of the Moment
Cleaning the apartment in preperation for a get-together tomorrow...one of the downsides to A. having the attention span of a gnat and B. trying to adopt a "if it's not going to be easie or otherwise improve the situaion to put it off, DO IT NOW" is that I it's really hard to stay just doing one focused medium-long-term task during cleaning. Go to pantry/closet, see that I meant to put rechargable drill back in case. See black tape...remember I want to "enhance" my wallet so cards don't fall out of the front...grab tape. Stay on target stay on target...put drill away, grab tape, grab PC where it's going to go in back room, stop at computer to write this up for kisrael...it's a little crazy!

It's kind of like a computer task scheduling algorithm...ideally it's like a "stack"--start task A, see task B, start task C, finish, resume and finish B, do task A. In reality you get a bunch of parallel tasks, finishing up things as they randomly drift into mind...

Actually, the shortness of my attention span scares me...like I'm putting music on to get some energy to do all this stuff, using my DVD player as a CD player. Except unlike my car CD player the music doesn't automatically start. And sometimes it's like 15 minutes later before I think "hey, shouldn't there be some music on?"


Photos of the Moment

--Had a small shindig, almost forgot to do an update! Here are two pics, the rumpus room with people checking out some of Erin's student films, and the kitchen showing some of the great stuff Ksenia put together, pork kabons and chicken julienne and some other great stuff.

spongebob, we hardly knew ye

Photos of the Moment
I took a lot of really bad photos this party...I couldn't really see people on the little screen well enough to frame shots. Also, the lighting made it easier to see the dust on the lens.

One highlight of the evening was a Spongbob Piñata! I filled him with candy and toys: hershey's kisses and reese's mini peanutbutter cups, some lousy mints, shamrock eraser heads, happyface squeeze balls, cheap koosh-like critters...(Jim and Andy amused themselves for the rest of the evening with "Hey Kirk, what's that on your face?" The answer being one of those little balls that they would then hurl at me. I guess that's what I get for agreeing with a "you must take a shot before taking a swing" rule for Spongebob.)

This is Peterman Pummeling the Piñata! Poor Spongebob. There was some debate if this counted as "gay bashing", but we decided it was an artistic statement against the commercialization of childhood. In any case, there was candy and toys to be had...you can see a few being flung from a hole in Sponge Bob's back. So my photo had great timing at least.

Ksenia, myself, and Jane, and my books. Only Jim's poor framing saves this from being an utterly utterly generic party photo, but I'm not going to pass up the chance to get a snapshot between two cute gals. (Actually the books were, surprisingly in retrospect, the only victim of errant piñata swings...)

Ksenia did so much work doing the food for the party...we had a Russian caterer for the pork kabobs, but the rest (this kind of blintz-like pastry, cute little hamwiches, a julienne chicken casserole, salad, veggies and dip) was handmade by her, and she organized all the kitchen stuff. She also surprised me with a cake...and even got them to put little alien bills on it! Here it is with Erin, who was the other Guest of Honor. (We watched some of her tapes from film school, that was pretty cool.)

Overall the party seemed like a big success. Some videogames in the afternoon, then a lot of great food, this Karaoke game (it rates you based on how on-key you are) and DDR, a lot of shmoozing in the middle room, Erin's films, the piñata, some dancing (though it was kind of ruined by "too many DJs spoil the mix" and a lot of cut off songs...there was a techno contigent, but a lot of people found that too hard to dance to, so it was kind of a mishmash.

a musing: my self

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Musing of the Moment
My current favorite self-hypothesis is that I'm a kind of weird hybrid, an attention-seeking introvert. After bouncing around some ideas with my mom I see that it runs in the family a bit although maybe it's rude to use such stark terms for other people. But among my Aunt, my Mom, and myself I think there are some similarities: we definitely like having our own times and our own spaces, but we also enjoy socializing, and we also like performing, from my mom's theater work to my own tendency to make with the funny at the dev group's daily lunch.

So, assuming people agree that "introversion" is a reasonable simplification/diagnosis to make...one part of it that I've already mentioned is my need to recharge on my own, just a little zoning out with a book, or tv, or most often these days the web. Sometimes, after a full day, immersing myself in the websites I frequent, catching up with email and the message boards I participate in, is the mental equivalent of sinking into a nice warm bath. Heh...and like a bath, it's possible to overdo it...the web equivalent of letting my fingers get all pruney is when I'm actively procrastinating using the web, and Pavlov-ishly keep returning to the same sites that I know haven't had a chance to "refresh" yet.

One little bit of "bubble bath" in this increasingly pressed metaphor is IMDB; I love going out with people, seeing an older video, and the pleasure of returning home, unwinding a bit, and looking up the quotes and trivia for the title.

tee hee, this laptop has a dead pixel. an EVIL dead pixel.

Online Toy of the Moment
Surprisingly fun little A-life based game, Zombie 3 has you trying to stop an outbreak of Zombie-ism by the time-honored approach of "nuking from orbit". The city is represented in a very spare 1 pixel = 1 creature kind of way.

News of the Moment
Slate rails against the "Activist Legislators" who are willing to overturn any constitutional principle to get the results they want...the same ones who kvetch about "activist judges".

These guys claim to love the Constituion, but apparently missed the part where just because they win an election they are imbibed with supernatural powers to make moral judgements.

she deafened me with science

List of the Moment
  1. The placebo effect
  2. The horizon problem
  3. Ultra-energetic cosmic rays
  4. Belfast homeopathy results
  5. Dark matter
  6. Viking's methane
  7. Tetraneutrons
  8. The Pioneer anomaly
  9. Dark energy
  10. The Kuiper cliff
  11. The Wow signal
  12. Not-so-constant constants
  13. Cold fusion
--via Bill, 13 Unexplained Things in Science. Of course what I like about science relative to religion is the attitude that A. We don't know everything B. The things that we don't know, we might be able to figure out. (And even then, very little is "known", just increasingly supported as the most likely explanation.) But I don't know, it doesn't seem like we'll really make progress on stuff like "why do bad things happen to good people, anyway?"

My current favorite theory about the universe, though not particularly well (or poorly) supported is the concept that maybe it's a closed loop. My layman understanding thinks that if it were, that when we're looking far far away we're actually seeing "ourselves" a long time ago, it would help explain a few of those odd results...maybe "The Horizon Problem", "Dark Energy". Or not.

I do suspect that someone is still going to do the inverse square law for Gravity what Einstein did for some of the other physics...effects that are difficult or impossible to see at "human" distances, but can come into play at interstellar ones.

i can see right through you

Photo of the Moment

--My transparent laptop, inspired by this flickr gallery. Not as cool as some of them but not as bad for a few minutes work.

If you want to try it yourself, I'd suggest taking a photo while holding the camera right around the front edge of the laptops keyboard (with the laptop shut of course), and then take the final photo from the same angle but further back. In my case setting as unstretched wallpaper let it extend beyond the sides of the screen (my camera is higher-rez than my laptop) and got everything about the right size.

In case you were wondering, the red ribbony thing with photos is the wrapper from a copy of "Body for Life", with a rough sketch of my head by a cow-orker peeking out behind. I think it's the phone that really connects the laptop to the background, along with the paper.

it's a dogs life

So, I got to thinking about dogs a bit...like I know a dog peeing on a post after a good hearty sniff is him "marking his territory"...but is it more like "haha, now I own this post" or more like "hi guys, I'm one of the dogs running around here too"? What can a dog's sensitive nose tell from a sniff? "Damn, better be careful, that smells like a big mean dog?" "Hey, George is around here somewhere!" or even "Dang...what's George been eating lately?" And is it just a boy dog thing or are girl dogs into it too, even if they're more vertical than horizontal about it?

Also, is a friendly dog, the kind that wags its tail amost hopefully to strangers as they walk past, the result more of nature or nurture?

Enquiring minds, etc...

Lyrics of the Moment
She came from Greece
She had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at St. Martin's college
That's where I...caught her eye

She told me that her dad was loaded
I said, "In that case, I'll have Rum and Coca-Cola"
She said, "Fine."
And in thirty seconds time, she said,

"I want to live like common people
 I want to do whatever common people do
 I want to sleep with common people
 I want to sleep with common people
 Like you."

Well, what else could I do?
I said, "I'll see what I can do."

"Common People", in my case off of William Shatner and Ben Fold's album Has Been.
Got it from Amazon yesterday (for some reason I bundled it with the just released DVD of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead so it was held up.) It's a very decent album. One other great track is a kind of dueling rant with Shatner and Henry Rollins, "I CAN'T GET BEHIND THAT!"

Link of the Moment
Back after a terrible slashdotting, the guidebook is a really cool sampler from most of the important GUIs from the 80s onward. Slashdot featured the icon gallery but stuff like a page of splashscreens is surprisingly interesting to the graphically minded, watching, the screens evolve over several generations. (The old Windows 3.1 startup screen really brought me back to college days...and I always thought the Windows 95 "It is now safe to turn off your computer" orange-on-black text was an oddly halloweenish choice.)

Geek Note of the Moment
Mentioning this for my own future reference as well as for any Java developer geeks out there...I hadn't previously heard of P6Spy (and I still don't know why it's called that) but it seems like a pretty nifty way of seeing the actual SQL your application is relying on...especially useful if you're relying on auto-generated SQL ala Entity EJBs. (God help your soul in that case anyway.) It wraps around whatever jdbc connection-driver you're using, and logs thing as they zoom on by...nifty.

three thoughts

For email that it has picked up as spam, Gmail will keep it for 30 days and then delete it. So the size of that "virtual folder" shows you how much spam you received...the total used to be about 14,000 or so, about 450 a day, but it's been dropping fairly steadily...currently to the mid-8,000s. I wasn't expecting that. Though if I redirect my old Computer Science Tufts account, the one that is awash in Spam from years of Usenet posting, to Gmail I'm sure the total would go way up.
Shameful admission: when I first read this boingboing post about the trouble in Kyrgyzstan I had to double check to make sure it wasn't one of those made up countries made to trip people up, like when Spy Magazine asked American Politicians "What are you going to do about the ethnic-cleansing in Freedonia?", the fictional country from the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup". Maybe sometime I should see if I could ebay some old Spy...that was a great magazine, the epitome of snark.
In the comments for Wednesday's Entry, FdS rightly chided me for painting a simplistic idea of religion, that great theologians have a terrific sense of "mystery". And the picture is more complex on both sides, religion and science, than I described there. Actually, I think one the main problems for me is the assumptions of inerrency that the Abrahamic faiths have. I love science's built-in correction mechanism (And also, that whole "unfathomable mystery" thing seems like a bit of a cop-out...we should at least give it the old college try.)

a humble little toy

Work in Progress of the Moment
Been working on a "art toy" version of that snark, boojum applet, where text is used as a stencil to see the image behind. Here's the latest version, currently at version "0.5". The java applet itself (what you click on) is largely complete, except for some work with fonts, but I haven't yet set up the infrastructure to let people upload their own images, so for now they're stuck with Bush waving a little flag. You can change the text though, along with a bunch of other settings.

Feedback welcome, especially on the interface. This is never going to be a super-serious tool, but I would like to make it so people might find it actually useful (because it's not that much fun as a toy). It still require some graphics knowledge to take full advantage of it, like making, cropping, and resizing screenshots for use elsewhere. I used a development version of the program for kisrael.com's new header image. Reaction has been mixed, since it's a little nifty (if "trying to hard" according to Ksenia) but might not go with the site's beloved stark look. So the new header might not last, but we'll see.

Also I'm open to suggestions for the name of the toy...internally it's still called "wordcut". I wasn't sure if that was very descriptive, so I also thought about "photoword" or "wordstencil". Then I remembered my old tradition of prefixing things I wrote with "k/", so maybe the current choice of "k/stencil" isn't too bad. If a bit egotistical. What do you think, go with the "k/" or something more universal and descriptive?

Car of the Moment
So Scion showed off a new concept car recently -- the "t2B", for "Tall Two-Box". I don't know how much of that is going into production, but it's interesting...it even has a video projector for the rear window. The looks are very distinctive, another "look at me" car like the xB. Autoblog already wrote up R2-D2 versus the Scion t2B. Also, the banner on the side here is from my entry to their Show us your Scion for swag contest...I was a little shameless in my entry writeup, but I think it shows a lot more enthusiasm than the other posts so far.

javawesome, baby

Site Update of the Moment
A few times now I've caught myself saying "Yeah! Go see my java toys! Err...just go to the kisrael.com search page and enter "<applet" and..." which really is a bit too much, so I made a stylish (if I do say so myself) java toy webpage with uniform screenshots and links.

I also rearranged the sidebar, adding a dumb coffe pun icon for the java page, and demoting Flap-Ping and Small Gif Cinema to "other things" from "features".

You're all on the edge of your seats awaiting my next site structure update, I'm sure.

Mundane Life Update of the Moment
I got one of those DVD/VCR combos to replace my beloved but ailing VCR, the one I've had since college. (Panasonic and 'til recently reliable...also the first time I saw a scroll wheel, years before they showed up on mainstream computer mice.) I mostly need a VCR in lieu of a proper cable box, and though I'm not crazy about the two-things-break-for-the-price-of-one aspect of dual units, it made my AV stack less precarious, and jived better with the inputs of my receiver.

Anyway, I was surprised to find out that they must be sticking more data in the vertical blank of a television image...I think that's where they've been putting in closed captioning for a while, but now many stations identify themselves there, and some even list the current program, which is nice when you don't have an online guide. And it was likely there all this time, and I just didn't realize because of my aging VCR.

Similarly, for us non-digital-cable, non-Tivo-enabled people tv.yahoo.com is the best online tv guide I've seen since the now defunct TVGrid.com.

Article of the Moment
Slate.com on the differences between America and Europe's approaches to E-mail, the former seemingly evolved from how people use the phone, the latter from how people use business letters. The author says he's coming round to the Euro point of view, finishing with "I'm fed up with an inbox cluttered with rambling, barely cogent missives from friends and colleagues. If the alternative is a few stiffly written, politely worded bits of Euromail, then I say -- bring it on." Maybe he needs friends and colleagues with better writing skills? (Or more likely, needs to sound like a bit less of a snob.) I personally am fed up with the spam...the missives from friends and colleagues are generally always welcome, cogent or no.

is it live or is it memorex?

Transcript of the Moment
SERVER:Customer is waiting for Response...
KEVIN:Thank you for contacting H&R Block TaxCut® Technical Support. My name is Kevin.
KIRK: Hiya.
KIRK: Still reviewing?
KEVIN:I understand thatv you have a concern regarding entering the data for Form 5498S. Am I correct?
KIRK:I think so, though I don't see "S"
KEVIN:I can assist you with that.
KEVIN:Before we start let us confirm you have the most up-to-date version of the program. Can you click on the [Help] menu on the toolbar at the top, and then choose [About TaxCut] from the list of options? The Federal and State program versions will be listed on the screen that displays. Can you let me know what version numbers display?
KIRK:6402, STDC for the Federal
KIRK:MA Standard Version 2101
KEVIN:Thank you for providing the requested information.
KIRK: I'm also unsure about the "total IRA Basis."..I don't think I got any 8606s
KEVIN:Let me inform you that if you have enter all the information correctly in the interview section you can go ahead with e-filing your return.
KIRK: So for the total IRA Basis do I just add up the Traditional IRA totals and enter it?
KEVIN:We would not be able to assist you with this, you need to refer to the [Help Center] or contact your Tax Advisor as they would be in a better position to assist you.
KIRK:you're kidding me
KIRK:you're software is so bad, i need to spend $20 and talk to someone else?
KEVIN:Do you have any further questions for me today?
KIRK:It really doesn't make sense that the "Get Ready" screen talks about Form 5498, but nothing in the built in help does
KIRK:And it's not mentioned in the interview
KEVIN:Let me inform you that you can also review your return from the professional review in H&R Block.
KIRK:So are you a robot, or just selecting pre-written responses from a list?
KEVIN:Please be inform that you are chatting with the live person.
KIRK:All right, thanks anyway.
KEVIN:Thank you for chatting with us today. H&R Block values you as a TaxCut® customer and looks forward to serving as your tax and financial partner in the future.
SERVER:Agent has closed chat session.
--I'm still not 100% convinced that was an actual person. I wouldn't recommend TaxCut, btw...its interview kind of skipped enter all these 1099s I got, I had to be a little too proactive to get it right. And they plugged extra services way too much. Bleh.

pollution is pretty

Oil Rainbows of the Moment

Link of the Moment
When Bad Scenes Happen To Good Movies and then vice versa. (via Bill the Splut)

31 on the 31st

Today's my birthday...goodness I'm getting old. 31 on the 31st. Not that it's much of a milestone, but I guess that's the oldest I could be and have that happen. And like I might've mentioned before, it's a little odd having a birthday that's also the end of a quarter, because you get little birthday reminders all the time before then, usually along the lines of "offer expires March 31st"..."hey...that's my birthday!....oh, great, another damn expired offer."

Looking back at some past birthday entries it's kind of weird to think I've been doing this site even back before I turned 27...what a young spring chicken I was!

Also, looking back at some past journal entries...I guess everyone's birthday moves forward one day in the week per year, except for leapyears (or the year after leapyears, for people who have a birthday before March). A few years ago I enjoyed some weekend birthdays, now it's a Thursday. Come on 2007!

Of course, then there are those people blessed with being born on a Leap Day...that must be both cool and annoying.

Quote of the Moment
"I believe we were put on this earth to do a lot less than we think."
Albert Zuckerman.
I hope he's right!

Birthday Wish of the Moment
Happy birthday on you
Happy birthday on you
Happy birthday all over you
Happy birthday on you
"xoxoxo Bruce".
Wow, that's a pretty evocative little jingle there, from today's Comments ...I'll have to file it away for future reference. Thanks Bruce!

Funny of the Moment
If he doesn't stir, you must inter!
friend of Henry Farkas on the recent death of Johnnie Cochran.
I've seen surprisingly little coverage of this death. Racism? Overshadowed by the Terry Schiavo deal?

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