2008 August❮❮prevnext❯❯


So Manny is out of here...
in retrospect, his lackadaisical outlook could get annoying, but in some ways, it's nice how relaxed he could be. "It's only baseball, have a sense of perspective" was an attitude that served him and, as much as we hate to admit it, the Red Sox as well.

Photo of the Moment

--Fast Moving Bird outside the Au Bon Pain near Copley Square - wasn't expecting two catch an image like that.

I lived Slylock Fox this morning! "Man on T thinks Kirk has his stolen bag. How did Kirk prove it was his own?" [Kirk showed him the holes]
Charming. Boston has a god damned first of the month expired inspection sticker patrol.
Ah the highway food court service plaza. Such a throbbing mass of humanity...

cheesequake! run for your lives!

In Jersey for a family reunion.

Trying to figure out why the Cheesequake (great name; I always read it as some sort of dairy-based seismic event) service area was so bustling with high schoolers or young college students at 11:30PM. Admittedly a Friday night, but still.

Passage of the Moment
"Besides, yesterday was my birthday--I was eighteen."
"Why didn't you tell us?" they said indignantly.
"I knew you'd make a fuss over it and go to a lot of trouble." She finished the champagne. "So this is the celebration."
"It most certainly is not," Dick assured her, "The dinner tomorrow night is your birthday and don't forget it. Eighteen--why that's a terribly important age."
"I used to think until you're eighteen nothing matters," said Mary.
"That's right," Abe agreed. "And afterward it's the same way."
from "Tender is the Night," F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I was hoping for another Great Gatsby but so far it's not it. Though I didn't "get" Gatsby when I first read cliffnoted it in high school... I figure you have to be through at least one heartbreak to understand it. I'm not sure what I'd have to be through to get this book...
"we do not remember days we remember moments" - seen in a McDs in CT... trite but true
"a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" - not a good slogan for diabetics.



Gladys Knight... 5 singers, guitar, bass, keybordist, pianist/conductor, 2 percussionists... hot show, hardly miss the pips..
Before my Aunt and Mom and I got into Dr. Mario, I didn't realize there was such a thing as passive aggressive trash talk.
Hee, old computer at the vacation house - how long had it been since I heard that grunt of a floppy drive being checked for a boot disk

track tracking

Wow, August already!

I need to commit to getting my life in order. I'll give myself to the end of the month.

I mean this September should be a new start... 1988 was the start of high school, '92 was college, '96 was real life, '00 was (engaged and, "thanks" EB) married life, '04 was single life... it's a pattern of 4s, with some action on the 2s.

Music Geekery of the Moment
Annoyingly my car stereo does not have an iPod hookup or audio-in jack (also annoying: most car dashes seem to have a "double height" radio slot, but most replacement car radios are single height. Which work in the double height slots-- if you don't mind ugly mounting kits and a big expanse of blah surrounding the radio itself.) However, the manufacturer stereo will play CDs with MP3s on them, a fairly nifty feature for a 2004 car.

Before my trip to Virginia, I took an hour or so to dump all the music I put on my iPhone (around 1500 songs, everything rate 3 stars or higher) onto a series of 10 CDs. After two long car trips, I'm just starting disk 5.

It was kind of an interesting way to divide music: because most of my MP3s have the track # as the first part of the filename, the songs were mostly sorted by track number first, then by name. Except, oddly, the end of the first disk had a weirdly high concentration of my Paul Simon and Beatles... it was frustrating, 'cause while I like Paul Simon and I like the Beatles, have a big mix that's just bouncing between the two when it should be playing a broad selection is annoying.

I investigated, and it turns out they got such a bump because a lot of their music came on multi-disk sets and the numbering scheme had the first number be that of the disk, rather than the track. Ta Da.

But it got me wondering about which track placement tended to meet my criteria for listenability, and so I hacked together some Perl and came up with the following chart -- even less interesting than I expected, but hey:
1:211 2:155 3:131 4:136 5:113 6:101
7:88 8:93 9:88 10:77 11:65 12:54
13:48 14:29 15:24 16:25 17:13 18:11
19:9 20:9 21:0 22:3 23:0 24:1
25:1 26:0 27:0 28:0 29:1 30:1
31:1 32:1
So the first number is the track #, and then how many times it showed up in my 1500 or so songs. Like I said, not very interesting... odd that there's more track 4 than 3, and 8 then 7, but not the stuff research papers are made of.

Just to cap off the geekery, I took a look at the first word of the titles:
I:54 The:51 Track:19 What:16
You:16 My:14 I'm:11 Take:11
A:11 Come:10 All:10 Don't:10
Good:10 One:9 It's:9 We:8
(So obviously the math is a bit off, since "Track" is over-represented as what shows up when the title didn't come through.)

Just needed to get this out of my system. And onto my website.

Just met the girl of my dreams in a dream, smart and funny and bold. Plus, I was smart and funny and bold. So it worked out dream-well.
My Epitath: "What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger. ...Whoops."
Automated "sorry, please RE-enter the code without any dashes or spaces" systems are retarded. Programmers are lazy or stupid or both.

the art of war

A while back I wrote about my ideal ToDo app and I have to say, Appigo's ToDo comes pretty darn close, with great support for categories, a neat summary Outlook-like view, a section for showing completed tasks (which I always find rewarding) and most notably great support for recurring tasks.

It doesn't do "date done" or "subtasks" or a few other details, but it really gets all the important stuff- the recurring events alone probably makes it worth the small $10 fee, relative to the free stuff. Plus it has some nice touches, like a goofy-but-satisfying selection of a strikeout for completed things (ranging from a simple line, to color footprints or treadmarks, to a big red inkstamp-y DONE) and a count of items due today on the main app menu.

Map of the Moment

--from Dogs of War, a collection of WWI anthropomorphic(and caninepomorphic) maps of Europe about to go to war. I love the Escher-like quality of this one by Louis Raemaekers, it's less cluttered and free-er in terms of boundaries than most of the others. Plus, that leaping highlander for the British Isles is pretty great.

Quote of the Moment
If we really want world peace -- we should put up mountain ranges and oceans between everyone. Start digging the trenches, use the dirt for the mountains.
Steve Katz, a coworker of mine at Nokia.
Nice tie in to that map!
Starbucks coffee cup: "Careful, the beverage you're about to enjoy is extremely hot."--then I'm not gonna enjoy it! (Hence, iced coffee)
Dear makers of the Tide Pen: I'm going back to frickin' shout wipes 'til you figure out how to make a cap that stays on in a pen bag. Ciao.
Breathing is sexy, and not just in a "not breathing is not sexy" kind of way.


The air has been nice and cool as of late. Could summer already be stumbling to a thunderstormy close?

I'm fine going up shorts, but I'm already dreading going back to socks and shoes, and I'm probably going to hold out 'til October or later for that.

Video of the Moment

--Yes. I am a giant goof. Also, weirdly gangly, or something. Taken while on break from cleaning out EB's old apartment, and we had some criminal bubble wrap that deserved to die. Can you tell I'm trying to stamp out "Carmen"?

I cut out the second part of this video, which was all taken with the camera sideways. Hint: there aren't many tools for rotating video 90 degrees, nor video players that really like the format.

Link of the Moment
Slate on The Ten Oddest Travel Guides Ever Published. The Nazi-era guide to occupied Poland is especially creepy.
Watching Clockwork Orange; my third or so time, JZ's first. Odd how the horrible scenes kind of wipe out the memories of the other ones.
"Eternal Mario Sunshine" is the best Diesel Sweeties title ever.
Googling "sin python" (the math function in the computer language) as an "image" search rather than "web" at work was not my best idea.

sparkly beige finance

Alright, time to gripe.

Both my credit card company and my bank have decided to send me new cards. Neither for any reason that has much to do with me, like an expiration date or other problem, just because. And here are those two cards:

Man, I was using the wrong card at the wrong time when one was blue and the other tan, now that it's all a world of sparkly beige, I'm hosed. ("Plus th'both of 'em got squares fer numbers! Hyuck!")

Since that was something gripey and dull, here's something better:

Actually, it wasn't that much better at that.

Quote of the Moment
Oh I see how it is, so chicks dig scars when they are caused by motorcycle accidents, but my circumcision is somehow less impressive?

on the T right now I am flanked by guys fiddling with iPhones. so I of course had to break mine out and twitter it.
pentomino mostly I was just enjoying giggling at being such a tool, but I'll park my scion by other scions. I like to think they like it.
Comcast sucks at dealing with people moving out. Oh wait--I could've stopped at "Comcast sucks".
Complentary colors, harmonic chords; the appeal of both explained by Hawkin's neocortex idea, just rhythms that nestle in juxtaposition?
Bargain or weird milestone? Prudential's Talbot's is closing with 75% off and I just voluntarily bought a sweater for the first time ever.

octally yours

8/8/8! I guess we get four more of these fun dates.

Video of the Moment

--Clips video from the Jersey Shore, Ryan and Alex, followup to the previous set of still photos.

Never had a paper route, but tossing the daily Globe up a flight, I admire its aerodynmics... well-balanced, light w/o being fluttery.

WAR!!!!!! and iphone applications

So like I mentioned I've been loving that Appigo Todo list. I think assigning dates to tasks, even arbitrary ones, helps create an appropriate sense of urgency and I'm getting things done that I wouldn't without such a system. And it's funny, Palm had added due dates, but because it didn't collate things in a sensible way (here's what's overdue, here's what's due today, due tomorrow, next 7 days, future) I never assigned dates to tasks, because after all most everything is due "as soon as you can get around to it"...

It's funny how system and software can modify your outlook. Between finally getting a really good ToDo app and also being a good mechanism for adding to my Twitter-based sidebar, I finally have a device that's as core to my life (maybe even more so!) as my Palm was before 2000, when I gave it up as a journal because of the overlap with what I was doing on this website.

News of the Moment
Er, I wasn't sure if this should have been my hold everything sole part of the kisrael entry but holy frickin' cow, Georgia declares war on Russia??? I'm not even going to for the stupid "what will happen to Atlanta?" type jokes, and just wonder, is this as hold-everything omigosh as it might look?

If nothing else, it's almost refreshing for Georgia to declare war, I'm getting sick of metaphorical "War on ____"s and Police Action and "Conflicts" every from our country...

Oh, and Olympics. Yay. I can't believe how blasé I've become about them... I think the 2 years, Winter Games, 2 years, Summer Games schedule hurts that, because now every other year, something is going on.

Game of the Moment
Galcon on iPhone
For PC and, I found out much to my delight, iPhone, Galcon is pretty nifty. (It's kind of one of those things where I'm late to party, I guess it's gotten a fair amount of attention especially for an "Indy" game.)

It's a very back-to-basics RTS (Real Time Strategy) game, a bit like Risk in real time, with Asteroids Ships. (Also a bit like that Dice Wars game I was so enamored of a while back.) You capture planets by throwing ships from your spacefleet at them, the bigger the planet the more ships it produces for you, while your opponent does the same. Its simplicity is such that it kind of feels just like the game I would have envisioned back in the day...

I especially enjoy how the sound effects in the iPhone game are blatantly the programmer or his buddy recording little "kapow! kapow!" effects in a microphone... I can totally get behind that.


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Spent most of the weekend helping out with EB, either in the "just hang out and relax" mode, or the "lets get stuff moved around and unpacked and try to get something resembling a house in order."

Like I twitter'd, EB recently had all the nice wood floors polyurethane'd and now is, for my money, a bit uptight about them. Yeah you don't want to make big gouges in 'em, but you don't want to be like your Great Aunt who puts all the furniture in plastic sheeting and making life miserable for your cousins.

There is a bit of family lore where my folks decided to let me skate in the apartment (which had broad-ish wood floors... this was in Salamanca, and I was so bummed to find out the place was torn down, I had dreams of seeing how the inside of it jived with my 27-years-ago memories of it) 'cause life and experience was more important than pristine floors. Conversely, maybe they were being a bit cavalier with a place that wasn't technically theirs, but still.

I figure you need to watch for the real trouble spots, I've learned that office chairs at work desks can wreak havoc on an otherwise nice floor, along with the wicker bottoms of papasan chairs, but if you do that, don't sweat it. (I don't want to sound like I'm picking on EB too much, after we were moving some heavy furniture around that could potentially leave some serious bites...)

I also helped him hose down some tarps that had been sitting outside for way too long, from when were scraping the shed in fact. Which led to this:

Exchange of the Moment
"Hey, what was that term for 'outside faucet' you used before? Hoistcock? Cockstopper?"
"...it was 'sillcock'."
"You know, like a house has a sill? It..."
"<still giggling>"
"Never mind."
Me and EB, 2008-8-10.

Years ago my folks said giving their kid a place to rollerskate was worth scuffed floors-now it's tough to deeply share EB's floor concerns.
If you can't find the toe-line, the bar ain't that serious about its dart board.

lets all sing like the birdies sing

One strategy that has worked well for me on the loveblender is to make one improvement every month, every time I put out a new digest. Sometimes it's visible to the users, other times it's an improvement to my behind-the-scenes workflow. Sometimes it's major, but if I'm pressed for time it's allowed to be trivial, it just has to be something.

This idea seems to work pretty well. I like the shades-of-grayness of it; the Blender would still be chugging along without this kind of attention, but slowly I can make the site better for myself and for the visitors and regulars there.

I might see if I can use my new found Todo app mojo to get through some other large, multifaceted tasks I've been putting off, like truly resettling and unpacking my room. For the moment, I've sacrificed my galley kitchen as a catch area, but I know how easy it is to never get to reclaiming space like that. But if I said "one apartment improvement a day", ideally tackling a milk crate but it could be more trivial than that, I think I might make a lot of progress to getting where I want to be.

Poem of the Moment
Glory be
sour apples
sweet tea,
white lies
thigh highs
chris on the Blender, "(Almost) Like the Baptists Say"
He's been one of the most consistent and best writers on the Blender...

I love this little bonbon but my favorite work this month was One year by twinkle, such a balance of detail and abstraction, a sensuality without being explicit, the nuanced emotional tone...

Also this month I reviewed my friend Christa's book iDo, all about wedding planning online. Seemed like a pretty good and smart approach to it all, not that I have any kind of plans those lines in the foreseeable future...

Video of the Moment

--Wow, Nature is AMAZING

Listlessly reading "Tender is the Night", reviewing with "Spark Notes" -- funny noting the plot details they leave out (on purpose?)
Bush @ The Olympics. "I don't see America as having problems". "Once religion gets started in a country it can't be stopped." Oy.
I want to make a terribly stupid and cheeseball fanfiction "When Bernie Mac meets Isaac Hayes in Heaven"
katwinx no direct link alas but http://www.globz.net/ - click on green pac-man box and then "the dancer". That's all I see with these guys.
In my experience it's not a good sign when the guy at the restaurant counter has to use the menu for prep instructions.
Lately I've been noticing when you can see someone and their reflection at the same time, how different the mood and look of the 2 can be...


I wrote a small webapp to keep a list of "links to get back to" on my startpage. While adding or changing a link is password protected, recently I changed it so that viewing a link from it was not.

It turns out that I had the "link follow" bit protected because of another cute trick I put in, that of moving a just-followed link to the top of the list so that I could pay attention to what links I was following most regularly and maybe put them on the main part of the page.

Now that it's open to the world, I find that other people are following many of the links. I'm not sure if it's people or 'Bots doing the following.

Continuing my Todo kick: One link was to my great big project To-Do list from March of 2005. I just updated that; it was gratifying that a number of additional things I could strike off, and another number I put into italics to indicate its slipped from relevance, either the context or my level of interest in it had changed to much.

Video of the Moment

--Mr.Ibis sent me this link, Tuba Battles. It's... it's... kind of like the movie "Drumline", but terrible. I am so grateful not to be in that tunnel...

Seeing the array of "related videos" I guess this is kind of a "thing", but it seems like the biggest emphasis is on sheer blatty volume, kind of like that dB drag racing, where competitors just see how inhumanely loud of a fixed-pitch tone they can generate.

Sometimes they'd get their acts together and put together a decent and/or menacing bassline, but... hmmm.

Quote of the Moment
Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds.

Leonovo laptops are better because their crash recovery is a boring button and their competitor offers a warp with a satyr + fruit basket?

bed bath and beyawn

Wow, mundanity ahoy!

Finally got around to Bed Bath Beyond last night. I have a fair amount of closet space, 3 bars worth, but not a lot of shelf or drawer area, so I thought I'd revolutionize my life with those vaguely-Euro pants clip hangers. Then I got some shirt hangers, only this new odd type, rather than the usual tubular plastic, it's like thin metal covered with something velvety. And towels... I hadn't realized how bachelor boy I was at risk of being until my friend pointed out I really didn't offer anything for guests to dry their hands with in the bathroom. And then these "As Seen On TV" Hercules Hooks (Warning: spokesman shouting at you) that seem to be pretty damn good at offering a place to hang stuff with only a small puncture in the wall (though you have to carefully avoid studs and the like.)

I put up one or two of the art pieces I was thinking of, then I put the Olympics up on the wall with the projector, settled into the iJoy chair that I have custody of on behalf of my Aunt, finished off a book I'd been meaning to get through, and fired up a laptop. It felt homey in a way I hadn't experienced in a long while... just kind of nestled in there, and with the art around (even if mostly in stacks against the wall) it really felt like my space. And sometimes it feels like I'm finding a new, good rhythm in life, taking care of issues as they arise and generally feeling like I'm giving myself room for whatever comes next, even if it's more of the same... I guess it's some combination of these Todo apps, finally making progress in the apartment, having a smaller amount of bills to think about, and is happening despite work getting more complicated as I volunteer for a management-ish role for another team.

I might still want to add in a slender Ikea-ish sofa to go with the iJoy and the hide-a-bed loveseat. I'm also tempted to frame the area of wall the projector shines on with art, so that it looks like a mysteriously blank area that only makes sense when the projector is on.

Link of the Moment
A friend of mine, recently transported to Pittsburgh, has started a restaurant blog there. The prognosis ain't too good so far.

Passage of the Moment
He remembered once when the grass was damp and she came to him on hurried feet, her thin slippers drenched with dew. She stood upon his shoes nestling close and held up her face, showing it as a book open at a page.

"Think how you love me," she whispered, "I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there'll always be the person I am tonight."
Tender is the Night, F.Scott Fitzgerald.
In the end, my feelings about this book are mixed... it felt like a slog, even though it was punctuated with some beautifully executed scenes. It took me two weeks of subway reading (well, that includes a few days skimming the Blender review) and I felt mostly every bit of it.

Another line I liked:
Nearby, some Americans were saying good-by in voices mimicking the cadence of water running into a large old bathtub
Reminded me of this one roadtrip I took after college and sharing a shower with my travel companion, an old clawfoot tub in the middle of my buddy's large bathroom.

Ugh, I'm such a nostalgic!
NO MORE FOLDING PANTS FOR ME! Nothing but Euro-ish "pants clamps" hangers. Trouble is, no idea if legs or waistband go better up...
"I worry that Taoism lets a bad man justify his badness; 'That's just my path'" "Do you know many bad man Taoists?" "No..." "So why worry?"
<3 spaghetti straps

boston area dabbler and pseudo-intellectual

Reading "The Tao is Silent" has made me curious about how Taoism is practiced in the West, and I found a site The Tao Bums. This is my introductory note, though I still haven't figured out if it's a kind of place for me...

Hi there --

Reading around for a bit, I think my approach might be different than most folks on the site, so I appreciate any pointers to parts of the forum that might be more my speed...

I come from a Western pseudo-intellectual tradition... Christian upbringing with a teenage embrace of rationalism and noticing how much environment + upbringing seems to determine faith (as opposed to some kind of Universal Truth) that I embraced a kind of mushy agnosticism. (Luckily my parents, despite being protestant ministers, were fairly liberal, so the backlash didn't become a "hard core atheist" kind of anti-faith.)

I've sometimes associated with the UU church.

I find elements of many Eastern traditions more appealing than many of the West, but know that my view is very limited, reading some (I think) good books, but they view things through a Western lens, and not so much into the real practice:

Zen Buddhism has an appeal (and more on how I've found the Western philosophy that seems very much in accord with it's lack of sense of self), but I've never even engaged in a Zazen practice. I got introduced to it through "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones", and then learned a bit more through some "Zen for Dummies" book, which despite the title (which, if you squint, really is just an overly self-deprecating way of saying 'for the beginner's mind",maybe) seems to be a pretty fair introduction to the Westernized form of the practice. Also "Thank You And OK!" which is a great account of an American trying to find a place in a more ritualized and traditional community, and "The Dharma Bums" (I think recognizing the name of the forum drew me here in my Google searching.)

Taoism... sometimes I think I'm more naturally attuned to Taoism than anything else. (But I've come to learn that some of that is me being a bit of a drifter, and one who avoids challenges because my fragile ego really detests failure, and if I'm not careful, the ego will have be not play rather than risk losing.) My first exposure was "The Tao of Poo", I was very impressed by the path to the Tao that "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" found, and now I'm reading the lovely work "The Tao is Silent".

I've even found some charm in Shinto practice; I have a hunch that it might be a great choice for computer programmers, where the often opaque and surprising internals of the computer might best be treated with the same kind of ritualistic respect and deference of, say, the ancient Japanese had for wood they chopped for construction. Here my exposure is most limited, helping a friend in a Japanese studies course, and the lovely films of Miyazaki.

I'm also fascinated by Western theories of mind and consciousness and where they overlap with Eastern ideals. Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" is one of my favorite works, and it's underlying idea of a rejection of sneaking in Cartesian Dualism anywhere, and that there might "be less there, there" than we assume is profoundly Zen-ish. More recently I've taken in Hawkin's "On Intelligence", and its idea that most of what makes us conscious beings is the incredible workings of the neocortex, a magnificent, hierarchical pattern recognizer, rememberer, and prediction machine. I feel that this might be how the Tao does its work in humans, if it can be said to Do Work... that we experience the universe, we see patterns, we predict patterns, and the Uncarved Block might find its substance in that flow of observation and prediction, modeling and action.

So, as might be obvious, one reason my few attempts at Zazen and yoga-based meditation don't work so well is I get so much pleasure in the meanderings of my mind, and the joy of working things out.

That's where, and (kind of) what I am. Does this kind of dialog happen here, or are the underlying assumptions a bit too different?

What's on Michael Phelps' iPod?
I am increasingly disturbed by the mustache of the Pringles guy, especially as he bops around in this one disco themed commercial.
(on using a ballpoint pen to open a box) "...you really have to love a problem in the morning where the correct answer is 'more stabbing!'"
actual quote: "I have to get less stressed about this stuff, I'll be dead by the time I'm 30! Oh wait..."
Laser pointers: disappointment to my inner 8-yr-old Star Trek watcher. Look! A red dot! You can amuse a cat or hang your pictures straight!
cmgaglione re: cats and laser pointers... but wouldn't THEY rather have mice vaporizing laser BLASTERS?? Won't somebody think of the cats!

a kirk by any other name

I was thinking about aliases I've used over the years... (warning, some of this preadolescent stuff is cringe-inducingly dorky. And this whole entry is a bit overly self-centered...)

When I was a kid and got a high score in an arcade game I'd enter a single "Z" in lieu of initials. It seemed Cool and was easier to enter. (In the years since I've decided it's moderately cooler to leverage having a short name and will enter "KRK" on the few games that still have the option.)

I also had a few pen names, as well as names I'd use if I were making video games. "Lord Logan" (Logan being my middle name) comes to mind, an alliterative nod to "Lord British" who made the Ultima games. Also I vaguely remember a "Troll" character... I think I remember making up sprites for it (a version shown here as well as I remember it now) and going so far as to scratch the name into my desk and getting yelled at by my mom. Also, the name "SPAZZ" comes to mind though I don't remember for what.

Probably the biggest experiment was going by "Logan" in middle school. I was unhappy about moving after sixth grade, and I think the name change was an expression of that, also the usual teenage self-dissatisfaction (around the same time my dad was sick.) I changed school districts during high school and quietly went back to Kirk, though this created some confusion at my church, where they decided to split the difference and call me Butch. (Or, in full, "Kirk Logan Brother Butch Israel Brother")

Also in high school I picked up "Kirkles", the alleged term of endearment "Lynnie-Poo" had for me, according to our mutual friends. And in Spanish class my name resisted Spanishization so I went by the (allegedly an actual nickname) "Nacho"

Later in high school I do remember enjoying picking callsigns in the game Wing Commander... I think "Metropolis" and "Whiplash" were my favorites.

It was around this time I also used signature characters, signing highschool notes with characters who would sometimes hold up signs of commentary ala Wile E Coyote. Zinger the clown, shown here, was first, but he was quick supplement by Alien Bill who has been with me ever since. Alien Bill Productions was also my default company for games or programs I'd make in college, marginally classier than "Barking Spider Productions" that I used in high school. Neither Zinger and Alien Bill are actual aliases, though sometimes people get confused about the latter.

In college I picked up "kisrael" in the classic Unix tradition of "first initial and last name" -- I was just pleased that since my last name starts with a vowel it makes a nice name in all. "Kirkjerk" was when I was looking for an appropriately menacing, at-most-8-character name for when people were playing the game Death Rally at work. I also went through a series of AOL Instant Messenger names before remember my kirkjerk password, including kirkamundo and thegreatkirkini.

I guess for the most part I'm pleased with my first name and like variations on it. Also I'm never compelled to do much role changing online, or that whole projective AOL-ish "HotStuff74" or whatever (and isn't it odd how so many people, some of whom might otherwise be a little coy about their age, tag on their birth year?)

Video of the Moment

--Since today's ramble was kind of dull and kirkcentric, here's something pretty cool...


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It's a "sales tax holiday" in the fair Commonwealth of Massachusetts, (Sidenote: I love that I'm in a Commonwealth rather than a mere State) a bit of an annual tradition. Like Bush's tax rebate, its meant to give a boost to retailers during a down time. It's an odd bit of psychology, people go gaga over not having to shell out to the government, even people who wouldn't shop around for a 5% savings otherwise.


Quotes of the Moment
So! The Tao is a mysterious female! No wonder I love it so much! What could be more enthralling than a mysterious female? A mysterious female is delightfully enchanting for two reasons: (1) She is a female; (2) she is mysterious. Yes, femininity and mysteriousness are certainly two of the most entrancing things in life. But combined! Good God, what could be more divine? The two in conjunction are far more than twice as intriguing as either one separately. That is to say, a mysterious female is more than twice as attractive as either a female who is not mysterious or a mysterious something which is not female. So it is no wonder I love the Tao so much!
Raymond Smullyan, "The Tao is Silent".
I enjoyed the repetition and general goofiness of that passage. I also like this poem of his:
Most people hate egotists.
They remind them of themselves.
I love egotists.
They remind me of me.
I guess both of these bits might leave an odd impression out of context, but overall there's a sense of playfulness and tweaking of assumptions in the book that's very enjoyable.

Articles of the Moment
Two topical pieces from Slate: Let's Get Rid of August, and a explanation of why all these records are falling along with a proposal for calculating "world record inflation".
Perhaps tonight was not the best night to catch a game at Fenway.
Olympic Ping Pong I can see, possibly thanks to the movie "Forrest Gump". Olympic Badminton? Still seems like a stretch.

bumblebee mafia


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bumblebee mafia - source - built with processing

My entry for Klik of the Month Klub #14: bumblebee mafia!

(I didn't have time to make it a game in terms of game overs or points or, if I actually want to start making games instead of toys, waves.)

Press any key or the mouse button to raise the water cannon and try to splash the bees into the ground...

I'm happy with how pretty it turned out...

The title came from this exchange on Gamer's Quarter between Harveyjames and aderack...
I'd also like to point out that OPA OPA would not be able to fly with those tiny wings.
What are you, the bumblebee mafia?
(The Opa-Opa being the main character of the Fantasty Zone games, and I assume the joke reference is to the idea that Scientists Say Bumblebees Can't Fly But The Bees Don't Know That.)

If anyone's keeping track, this represents a new form factor for my games, 480x320 instead of the old 400x400.

Seems like adults ask two years lots of pedagological questions. But the question of if it was annoying seemed a bit too abstract for EBB.
Jeeziepetes,laptops are decked out like frickin' indy cars these days...6 stickers on the wrist rest of my new tablet PC, incl. one 3-in-1.
So weirdly interface blind sometimes-sure my new laptop had no pgup/down despite seeing/using their alt modes(were hidden w/ function keys)
EB's 2 year old daughter is so happy when I show up, it's kind of heartening.

the mental butterfly

(1 comment)
It's been enlightening pondering the difference and similarities between EB, his outlook and ways of thinking, and my own.

Not that the SATs should be the end-all be-alls that we treat them as (And by we, I'm at risk for meaning "people who did well on them") but I was surprised he did better in the Verbal than the Math, though combined I technically beat him by 10 points. But given how entrenched he was in engineering I had always assumed he was more of a math guy, despite admiring some high-falutin' prose he had pulled together on the old tufts.general newsgroup.

But more to the point, I have a mind that enjoys flitting from thought to thought, where as his methodology is more of a focused charge. (This weekend he was a bit tired and preoccupied, which led to a higher number of half-finished thoughts and barely started sentences as different concepts fought to claim the focus of the track of his mind.) Historically, I'm almost able to keep up a conversation while enmeshed in a heated round of Dr. Mario or Puzzle League, while he greatly dislikes distraction.

Which isn't to say my tangential mind is inferior or superior to his goal-oriented approach. I envy and fear his long term game strategy making, to the point where I tend to dislike games that don't favor my scattershot, fast methodologies.

I'd like to think of other implications of this dichotomy. One is this: when I hear about articles along the lines of Is Google Making Us Stupid? it doesn't bother me too much; usually such an article isn't about being "stupid" per se, but retaining fewer facts in our heads that can easily accessed electronically, and indulging in a low-attention-span, high-connectivity (i.e. tangential links) form of mind play in lieu of the good hard think. But since this is how my mind seems to operate, and since I think I have a decent mind, I don't see it as much of a problem.

Another implication: decluttering and straightening up is an almost comically disorganized "oh do this no do this no that" for me where a dozen tasks get started but almost nothing gets done.

So how about everyone here? Are they more of a goal-oriented, focused thinker like EB? Or kind of a thought butterfly like me? Or something else?

Photo of the Moment

--I love this shot from an article on Phelps' Miracle Finish... from what little I've learned about sports in casually watching the Olympics, one bit is the final touch of the wall is hyper-important.

I also liked Usain Bolt's agenda (and his name!) on the day of his world-record beating time...
"Woke up at 11. Had some lunch -- some nuggets. Watched some more TV. Went to my room, slept for three hours. Went back, got some more nuggets, then came to the track."
What would just be a slacker's morning for anyone else sounds unspeakably cool when you're really achieving something special!

Weird dreams- MMORPG world where an emperor CEO had commanded mass suicide. People choosing whether to join in leaping off a 'scraper
On Friday's rainout at Fenway, the Hot Tamale Brass Band was one of the few silver linings, other than the pleasant hanging out w/ friends.
Using my ATM-card as credit card for a bit; w/ that and direct deposit, risk of nil budget tracking, just a money pile that waxes and wanes
Forbes still does these autoadvancing slide shows. Quaint-and annoying, as if I'd rather sit + wait then just click. Probably good for ads.

to professor couch

Continuing my recent habit of taking something I wrote somewhere else, failing to get much of a response, and reposting it here... Alva Couch was this amazing Professor of Computer Science I had at Tufts. Realizing I needed to poo or get off the pot when it comes to deciding about graduate studies, I wrote him for advice... unfortunately his mail autoresponder told me he's on the road for a few weeks at least, and then is on sabbatical for a year, so I don't know when I'd hear back. But I welcome feedback and advice from anyone here as well...

Hi Prof. Couch!

I hope you are well.

I'm writing you as an early step in some academic planning I'm thinking of... I've always valued your opinion and I loved your classes as an undergraduate, though I'm also open to your suggestions for other people to talk to.

I am - in a not particularly well-fleshed-out manner, at least as of yet - thinking about pursuing some graduate education, probably in an after-hours kind of way.

One possible school for this would be Northeastern; my take it doesn't have quite the academic reputation as some other places, but it is almost directly between my current job at Nokia and my apartment in Roxbury Crossing. In particular I was considering their MPS in Digital Media program.

My goals would be twofold, and I'm trying to figure out if that kind of program is the best bet for either of them: one is to do interesting things, possibly "indy game movement" related. (You can see a small portfolio-ish page at http://kirk.is/java/ -- mostly in Media Lab's "processing" language, geared at artists.) The second would be to open up teaching as a possibility down the road, maybe on a Jr College-ish level.

I recognize there might be a conflict here, in terms of it might not be the right degree for teaching. I think to be honest, I don't love computer science for its own sake, the more math-ish side of what's computable, and how long is it going to take, and how we can do that better or prove that we can't. I do deeply like Human/Computer Interaction and UI, as well as having an affinity for information and data display. And so I'm wondering if those would be a better balance between fun/cool and academic than "Digital Media".

Other schools I've been thinking about (but done even less research on) are Harvard Extension, and of course Tufts.

If it matters, I graduated summa in '96 with a double major in English and Computer Science, with a 4.0 in comp sci (a little less in some of the math). Since then I've mostly been drifting as a Java and Perl coder, with some touches of architecting and team leading.

Thanks for any advice, or any suggestions on other good people to talk with!


I don't have any smiles
comedic great Danny Kaye to my mom
(after acquiescing to a post-speaking photo but declining to smile...)
Odd having rating a lunch interviewee under the Nokia values "Engaging You", "Very Human", "Achieving Together","Passion for Innovation"
Mailing cd-rom, anticipating "anything dangerous?" question from USPS- gee, I guess in prison someone could make it a shiv, does that count?
Orbit Sangria Fresca gum (along w/ their Mojito flavor): When you'd like to get drunk at work but all you can do is chew gum. Tasty, tho
You have good taste, except sometimes you choose the stuff that's a downer
FoSO, just now

on the vinegar tasters

Lately I've been thinking about the following passage from the end of Tom Robbins' "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues":
In a place out of doors, near forests and meadows, stands a jar of vinegar - the emblem of life.

Confucius approaches the jar, dips his finger in and tastes the brew. "Sour," he says, "Nonetheless, I can see where it could be very useful in preparing certain foods."

Buddha comes to the vinegar jar, dips in a finger and has a taste. "Bitter," is his comment. "It can cause suffering to the palate, and since suffering is to be avoided, the stuff should be disposed of at once."

The next to stick a finger in the vinegar is Jesus Christ. "Yuk," says Jesus. "It's both bitter and sour. It's not fit to drink. In order that no one else will have to drink it, I will drink it all myself."

But now two people approach the jar, together, naked, hand in hand. The man has a beard and woolly legs like a goat. His long tongue is slightly swollen from some poetry he's been reciting. The woman wears a cowboy hat, a necklace of feathers, a rosy complexion. Her tummy and tits bear the stretch marks of motherhood; she carries a basket of mushrooms and herbs. First the man and then the woman sticks a thumb into the vinegar. She licks his thumb and he hers. Initially they make a face, but almost immediately they break into wide grins. "It's sweet," they chime.

I realize now, though, I was getting it mixed up with "The Tao of Pooh"'s telling of the story this drew from, "The Vinegar Tasters". Tom Robbins took out Lao-tse, gave his role to the couple, and added in Jesus Christ, with an interesting reference to the idea of divine sacrifice.

Something weirdly worldly in splitting a bottle of white w/ an old flame over dinner, later bar cocktails w/ my uncle. Like bad Hemingway.
Gee, how can I resist a come-on (in french) from a skype bot named "! sex - sexy gazelle ejaculation feminine sexe"?

he will do very well as a

Lately I've been hearing a lot of "this might be a dumb question, but..." usually responded to with the usual trite reassurance "there is no such thing as a dumb question." Depending on the audience, I'll sometime lapse into the shtick from demotivators "There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots."

I don't know why I find the "no such thing" assurance mildly grating. I find it a bit gratuitous I guess, especially since someone being smart enough to recognize and label a potentially obvious or otherwise lacking question as such is probably clever enough to not need the uplift... or if they do, this ain't gonna be it.

Quote of the Moment
Personally, I always claim Cecil Earl is a little screwy, or if he is not screwy that he will do very well as a pinch-hitter until a screwy guy comes up to bat.
"Broadway Complex", Damon Runyon.
(From one of the stories that inspired the musical "Guys and Dolls".) I keep paraphrasing this quote, badly. I just love it as a dodge, where you can't quite call a spade a spade, but that thing certainly is exhibiting some spade-like qualities.

Not only did Olympic rules mandate skimpier outfits for beach volleyballers (SRSLY!) the gold final added a critical "wet t-shirt" dimension
Don't know if it was the dentist or all company conference call (both harmless) this morning but I'm jittery as hell over lunch.
"Only WHO Can Prevent Forest Fires? [...] You Pressed YOU, Meaning Me. That Is Incorrect. The Correct Answer Is ME, Meaning You."

zip bop doobadee bop dit da dididdly dedop!

Ksenia ended up moving to a place a few blocks from "our" old apartment, the one with Miller and JZ in it now. So last night I brought her over a drafting table EB didn't have the space for, and we had coffee, and then I went over to hang with JZ.

The lay out he and Miller have, with a big sheet for a projector screen is pretty amazing, talk about a huge picture... I had been kind of set against doing the office-in-bedroom thing, but the way they now have a seperate living room and dining room makes a lot of sense. So weird seeing rooms and some odd bits of furniture that used to be mine, now in a bit of a different context...

Video of the Moment

--Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong. My mom forwarded a WMV of this to me. Later in talking about she mentioned seeing Kaye as a speaker at some conference, and after he was perfectly happy to pose for a quick photo, but replied to a request to "smile!" with "I don't have any smiles" - just a real life instance of the melancholy that some bright and funny entertainers can have underneath the facade.
When I was 6 or so, I was running up the stairs so fast I wondered if I was near speed of light. Silly, sure-but I was running REALLY fast.
The Person's Republic of Michael would have ranked fourth in gold medals and been ahead of all but 14 countries in the medal count-NYT8/17
I love that the company Hyundai A. sounds like it's trying to fool people looking for a Honda B. have a car named after the MS spreadsheet

p and vp were walkin' down the street. p got killed who'd be left?

Obama/Biden? A bit too much alliteration. EB suggests "O-n-Joe".

Video of the Moment

(death star over sf)

Poem of the Moment
I like the duck-billed platypus
Because it is anomalous.
I like the way it raises its family
Partly birdly, partly mammaly.
I like its independent attitude.
Let no one call it a duck-billed platitude.
"The Platypus", Ogden Nash

Newsweek special issue cover: "What Bush Got Right"... must be a pretty thin issue, hardyhar
"So many of my friends are so tired and stressed. So few of them are enjoying their lives. You're about it." EB to me now-yikes, pressure!

photobreak day 1

Time for photos!
A bit of wisdom my mom picked up in NYC, echoed today at New Brothers Deli in Danvers: Greeks really know how to run a good restaurant.
The Team USA "Redeem Team": because "hadn't won a gold medal 'since 2000'" sounded so much more harsh than 'since the time before last'

photobreak day 2

One more day of photos:
After coming up with the "The Dude a-Bidens" as gtalk status, I realize I really need to see the "The Big Lebowski" again, and soon.
Bummed and bugged at how my current amigos have so little human empathy for certain of my former romantic interests.
I can't think of a single person I hate.

adventures in home furnishings

(1 comment)
Decided that my living room, despite its small size, needed one more piece of furniture for the sake of hospitality. Something smallish, but comfortable... behold the Ikea KARLSTAD chaise, in all its "Dillne multicolor" glory!
I think the stripes work better with the space than a flat color would have, and it goes eerily well with the circus/carousel theme I had set up on that wall. (That's an authentic circus railway poster my dad had acquired.) Hopefully it doesn't say "trying too hard"...

This might well become my "go to" piece of furniture for reading and lounging, at least when I can resist the shiatsu-esque call of my Aunt's iJoy massage recliner parked next to it. (Also, I'm grateful to my Aunt for joining me on the jaunt to Ikea and helping wrestling the not-too-heavy-but-huge box in, and then assembling the thing.)

Dialog of the Moment
["Granddad" Freeman is making grandson Huey mow the lawn...] "And make sure you get between those trees on that hill."
"It's so big..."
"But that's a good thing, Huey. This land is a dream come true. Think of it like '40 Acres and a Mule'!"
"Yeah, but I'M the mule."
"Yeah, I guess you WOULD be the mule ...
...well, I never said it was YOUR dream come true."
The Boondocks. What a great comic strip... daring and actually funny.

Diet Pepsi is a flavor of my youth, what they sold cans of from the fridge at the pharmacy I worked for Mr.J
Ikea's furniture pickup department is not the well-oiled machine, the model of European efficiency one might've hoped for.
After having this one Irish chocolate, I can definitively say that I don't have enough hazelnut in my life.

nothing unreal exists. kirk israel exists.

So in yesterday's comments my mom gave me some nice feedback on my new furniture:
Nice choice....form, function, color....love them all!
Though my aunt gave me the other side of her reaction to the photo, a bit truthier...
Is his whole apartment that neat?
My aunt just laughed. (Hey, I'm working on it!)

Convo of the Moment
I had my status set to the Star Trek IV philosophical throwaway line "Nothing Unreal Exists" (partially in response to JZ's "Everything happens")
sam: square root of negative 1 an unreal thing that exists
kirk: well, it's REALLY unreal, see
sam: this is akin to the argument that there is no cause of death that isn't natural
sam: He was decapitated. naturally, he died.
kirk: right, or there's nothing that's not "from nature", since humanity comes from nature
sam: I love that one too
sam: "I only want my kids to eat natural stuff"
sam: "Like plutonium?"
kirk: heh
kirk: only if it's freshly mined
kirk: none of that centrifuged stuff
sam: no no... only organics for me and my family.
sam: or fruitarian plutonium... the kind that falls from space.
kirk: heheheh
sam: I guarantee... you eat a good helping of plutonium, you'll be full for the rest of your life.

Slideshow of the Moment
Slate on Information Visualization, a kind of neat field of representing data in more human friendly visual forms. I've been doing some of this at work, and dig it. It's even more fun when you kind of useful bits of interactivity, rather than just generating static images (though conversely, I've seen some cases where interaction forced a lot of clicking etc, for information that maybe could have better been provided in a skimmable, "at a glance" form.)

Jeez over the past year my back bay office building has lost a hairdressers, a crappy cell store, custom framers, now the chocoateers?
Sometimes it's tough not feel weirdly elevator-smug about working on the tenth floor -- oh you work on floor six? I pity you.
katwinx Not in my building you don't! I hope. Or these elevators got some 'splainin to do! (On the other hands, those 11th floor jerks!)
It's always summer in GoogleMapsLand. Seriously, I kind of wish they had autumn or winter editions.

turf war

The other day I found this entertaining bit of bus stop advertising:

Quote of the Moment
Furthermore, [writers who say "I know it's not a real word"] are giving up one of their inalienable rights as English speakers: the right to create new words as they see fit. Part of the joy and pleasure of English is its boundless creativity: I can describe a new machine as bicyclish, I can say that I'm vitamining myself to stave off a cold, I can complain that someone is the smilingest person I've ever seen, and I can decide, out of the blue, that fetch is now the word I want to use to mean "cool." By the same token, readers and listeners can decide to adopt or ignore any of these uses or forms.
Maybe it's no coincidence that English and capitalism seem to go together, both tend to accept new concepts and absorb or subvert them for its own purposes... (I was reading the comic "Action Philosophers" on Karl Marx, and he recognized this property... get rich selling Che t-shirts, what do we care?)
proposed bumper sticker: "I've driven drunker than this" --D
cmgaglione maybe the "bunny" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with "big, pointy teeth" and all that? ;-)
Looking at the small burbly fountain at park plaza arlington... you can't really track indv. droplets; it's a bit like a series of strobes
For me the weird thing about the site "photoshop disasters" is how many of them I wouldn't notice in the wild. We see what we expect to see.

taking sixes across the board

Really random Dear Diary kisrael ahoy
Wow, I managed to kick butt at minigolf yesterday, which never happens. After 18 holes I was ahead by like 10 strokes, with a lot of 2s. This was at Kimballs in Westford...I like the one hole that's a jump over a chasm, and another where putting your ball in the running water has a good chance of an easy hole-in-one. We put in a low-ish maximum 5 strokes rule... otherwise my triumph might have been even grander.

Andy was up from Atlanta, and so we had our traditional movie night at Jim and his wife Sam's place. Jim and Andy are so funny, the perfect people to watch bad movies with, and just hanging out... Jim is amazing. Like on the score sheet... He started with "Sam". Andy sometimes goes by the name "Big A", so that's what Jim wrote. And then "Little Kirk", and "Some Jim". And the other thing I admire is he didn't make a big deal about it, didn't call attention to it like I know I would've... it was just a funny little detail waiting to be discovered, or if no one discovered it, than just for his own mild amusement.

You can just get into this giggling at everything mode, kind of like you've been smoking weed, except your high on life. Or something. Other injokes were noticing that a "UMASS" sweatshirt is almost equally readable as "Um, ass?". And that the gal in the group ahead of us looked like she was "taking sixes across the board" which sounded weirdly dirty, but really just was what they assumed their maximum stroke count was.

Guess you had to be there. But they really are even funnier than that last paragraph makes them sound.

Page of the Moment
Kind of an extension of yesterday's thoughts on the adaptability of language, it's FUTURESE: The American Language in 3000 AD. Pretty cool stuff! (Though usually, the variation of English everyone in the Sci Fi galaxy speaks is called "Basic", not "Anglic" or "Galach")

Weird. I'm 90% sure I had this one email exchange this week via gmail, but can't find any archive of it. It's kind of freaking me out.
Wow, McCain is really trying to use a Hillary wedge! Just realized it's been years since I thought about Geraldine Ferraro...

gettin busy wit it


One thing I've learned... OLPC is not as organized as one might've thought.

It's fun though. This day's gonna be a real challenge, to pull together a game with my buddy "dongle" (together we're Team Cowsome Loneboys) in an environment and language neither of us know too much about... we have some good ideas though.

There'll probably be continued streaming video coverage, though I don't know if a bunch of geeks collaborating will make for all that great watching...

OLPC: "I've seen monkey poo fights at the zoo more organized than this!" Seriously, it represents the potentials + problems of opensource..
windows ctrl-F find has gotten a little worse every generation since Windows 95

hot from the olpc physics jam

(1 comment)
Highlights from other teams at the OLPC Physics Jam:

(mascot of the even it seems, from a white board drawing labeled "attach wheels to kitties")

When good physics goes bad...

It's gone really mediocre-ly for my team, the Cowsome Loneboys... there just seems to be much less experience with the toolkits at hand, and we've started from scratch, changing the core platform where building on, twice. We're toiling away on a simplified version of some of our original ideas.

It's amazing how many really sharp people drift in and out of the office, friends of people jamming away I guess... the Israeli Doctorate in anarchy anarchy studies stopping over after giving a talk about OLPC at some conference, this willowy Chinese physics postdoc with the English accent (both of course I immediately develop huge crushes on), one of the cofounders of Logo, the precocious high schooler who namedrops Marvin Minsky like crazy, not even knowing how famous he was at first...

Sometimes I catch myself mixing slang modes... "what's the haps, G?"

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