2008 September❮❮prevnext❯❯


Oy, September already? Where do the summers go...

Followup of the Moment
So despite some discouraging technical setbacks, Team Cowsome Loneboys of the OLPC Physics Game Jam got a finished product in time for the judging...

The game we presented, "Babel", had 2 phases... building and destroying. Building is taking 60 seconds to build as high a tower as possible, using a nice springy mouse tool to grab and sling blocks into place. Destroying uses the same mouse tool to grab bricks and fling them away, or possibly grabbing the wrecking ball for that purpose.

The game was surprisingly well-received... the educators in particular actually liked its simplified environment and focus a lot. There were only 4 or 5 games made, but we got a silver medal in "level design" (got the mug for that) and a bronze in something else.

Even after the judging, Jon and I kept on toiling to add an element that was part of our original vision: a slingshot! Now instead of racing against a timer, the goal was to use as few shots as possible to clear the platform area...

It's really a bit of a bummer that we didn't think to push on the slingshot ahead before... we probably could have gotten the basic version in, and it really made a much more compelling game, since rather than "use this cool tool to make a building... now use the same tool to destroy it..." there are two nice and distinct "aesthetic kinetic" phases.

It was great collaborating with so many clever people. Also, SJ, the organizer, assures me that the OLPC audience, school kids all over the world, is surprising voracious, and I think the game we made might actually get many more downloads and much more attention than most of the stuff I hack out on my own, so it was nice staying after to do it a bit better. (There are still tremendous ways of cheating, however... like dangling or flinging a brick over the tower area as time is up, and using the slingshot "backwards" to swipe bricks off rather than knock them out cannon-style.

The other games were pretty swell... rollcats was the belle of the ball, though some of the educators weren't as crazy about its simple puzzle mechanic, despite the lovely execution. My favorite among the other teams was "XO Olympics", an almost afterthought of a game where each player controls a kind of hopping triange to try and push volleyballs over to the other players goal... the interesting bit is each goal throws out the next ball (in the color of who scored a point) onto the field, but the old balls are never removed, so the scorekeeping becomes a part of the physics of the game... neat!

geek rant: maybe after ~52 hours of python hacking I'd learn to put "self." in front of everything? Nope! Same w/ forgetting str() for ints
stepping into my dark bedroom after too too many hours of geekery, I longed for a sleepy, admonishing but sympathetic voice: "Hey, you..."

that was the end

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Pac-Man Ends
Last week crummy.com Leonard (whom I might be meeting up with this week) wrote about this awesome article on the kill screen, where certain classic video games that seem meant to run forever run into some kind of Ragnarok, often seemingly because the player has gotten to farther than the programmers thought anyone could get.

Leonard wrote:
Before I go on, let me make my position clear: I am a total video game nerd (though not a particularly angry one). Songs have I written and stories that draw from this pixelated well. My cohort has a fascination with video games: old ones, new ones, the people who make them, the ones we make ourselves, their distribution mechanisms, their similarities and basic building blocks, the ways we push ourselves to best them, the stories we tell about them, the relationships they create and mediate.

So don't take it as "Get a life!" when I say there's nothing special about the games themselves. Like books, they only have the power we give them. Pac-Man has a bug. It's not even an Easter Egg. There's nothing to unlock. The kill screen is not in the realm of the meant. If you spend years mastering Pac-Man and prefer it to Ms. Pac-Man because it's totally deterministic, why get mystical about the way it crashes at the end? This is real life, not Lucky Wander Boy.
My response was as follows...

Some pretty cool links...

Galaga Ends
I guess I'd counter with... why NOT get a little mystical about it? In an age where science seems to suggest that metaphor and relationships are a more valid use of religion than a literal explanation of why things are, I think people are free to find mysticism where they'd like.

(also for people who might not know Lucky Wander Boy, I quoted a bit from the Pac-Man meditation here: http://kirk.is/2003/03/28/ )

The Pac-Man kill screen feels like... I dunno, like coming to the edge of the Matrix, of sailing to the place on the map where "There Be Dragons".

"The kill screen is not in the realm of the meant." - absolutely! You seem to be conflating found, interpreted meaning with authorial intent. The microcosm collapsing because of programmer oversight, as the natural product of code that otherwise seems fine, sturdy, and lovely, seems to have a potential for profundity that, say, a reward intermission screen showing Pac-Man winging off to the beyond, would never have. (Or for that matter, a patch either locking in level 255 forever, or looping back to cherries.)

Heck, even the patterns that let these players get to that point are in some ways transcendent... I've read about the surprising depth of personality used for the Pac-Man monsters, and it's a byproduct of that determinism that allows for this almost meta-game of perfect score plotting... have you ever seen a perfect play video? It's all about waiting in certain spots 'til the ghost waves finally coalesce and then pouncing... not very fun to watch or do, except in a meta-sense, and certainly not what was "meant" by the programmers.

loresjoberg I think metal fans enjoy a level of unirony that's difficult for other populations to grasp. (dunno if unirony==sincerity)
Caught some of a TNG marathon, (OLPC recovery). Enjoyable, but- wow, the Treknobabble and "end of episode reset" can get pretty intense!
Just figured out how to get to my earliest Twitter posts - need to do some personal archiving, I'd hate to lose what's now my insta-journal
Note to websites: white on black text burns into the eyes. STOP IT. (hint: for these idiot sites, hit ctrl-A for ugly but readable colors)
I get so outraged at minor frustrations. It's an unsuccess of the imagination: I envision a world w/o this traffic, or this PC glitch, and-
let me introduce you to the wikiway, my friend, where blowhard cranks are lionized
SJ of OLPC, encouraging me to forego disclaimers

tasha yar looks mysteriously like my ex

Yeesh, last night was the first night I got myself into bed by like, ten in almost a week... a company party, minigolf and videos with out of town friends, 3 nights of physics jam, and then throwing off my actual bedtime by falling asleep to Star Trek: Next Generation reruns on the couch...

Random thoughts on ST:TNG, from a comment I made to Nick B writing about the closing of Star Trek: the Experience

I guess now I watch with a more critical eye than I used to... the treknobabble was stupefying, along with ... I dunno, there's a certain laziness to the writing maybe? People never deal with a mysterious situation by acting like people trying to suss out a problem do, instead they just hold up signposts to the final explanation. (And sometimes the explanations are so coincidental... oh, see, it was Geordi's VISOR that was doing some dumbass handwaving subspace thing triggering your quantum universe watchamacallit, and Data was able to scan that your RNA was resonating different than EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE but you're not exploding or anything)

Two of the episodes were of the "alternate timeline" varieties, which I tend to find the most compelling to watch as well as the most infuriating. One was "Parallels" -- the scene of a desperate, long bearded Riker on a wrecked bridge trying to sabotage attempts to return him to the universe where the Borg have nearly conquered is striking. The other was "Yesterday's Enterprise" with its cool design of the 1701-C, splitting the difference between the later movies and the new show. Both fudge timeline splits in different dumb ways... neither try to explain why what alternatives we're seeing are so close to the "real" reality. (Besides the dumbness of the "War torn" Enterprise-D having started with the same crew (sans children), it would've been cool if they had thrown in some more militaristic in its design...)

Anyway. I still enjoyed the shows, but it's funny not having thought about it that much for like a decade.

Science of the Moment
Slate's Jim Holt on The End of the Universe... he quotes Annie Hall where a psychiatrist consoles Alvy who's being neurotic about the expanding end of the universe "It won't be expanding for billions of years, Alvy, and we've got to enjoy ourselves while we're here, eh? Ha ha ha." The "Ha ha ha" makes it sound insipid, 'cause other than that it's pretty good advice.

seeing what's on the back of a scanned in paper, much easier to read the negative; evolution-wise, guess it's 'cause night vision is useful
I have zero urge to crossdress, but am suddenly curious about what the mechanics of walking on spikey highheels feel like.
Feels like fall. Not just the weather; the mood? The light?
katwinx yeah; the everywhere aspect of Twitter returns a spontaneity I had lost when I went from a palm pilot journal to a web-based blog

a great big dancing batch of nihilistic delight


I'm almost ashamed to admit how much I like this song and video. (Admittedly the song is better in the early measures with that great straight-ahead beat, before it gets all Euro-Popy, but still.) Given the Emo Lyrics it might seem to be wildly inappropriate, but I find it a great big dancing batch of nihilistic delight. (Turns out I had previously posted an animated GIF of a scene from it.)

It's interesting to compare this to the use of the Gary Jules cover in an ad for the shooter game Gears of War...

Giuliani led Republican chant: "DRILL BABY DRILL! DRILL BABY DRILL!"
Palin reminds me a bit of that Roseanne storyline where she wins the lottery.
As dumb as the metric vs english units is, decimal point is a dot in US and a comma in Europe is probably worse for internationalization.
DtI (dumbness that irritates) the Prudential T-stop's main E-line outbound stairway label says only "to Heath St", skips saying "Outbound"
DtI: Amazon's "Hello. Sign in to get personalized recommendations" the last two words are clickable. Verbs > Nouns for links!
Republicans think every "war" can end up as neatly as WW2: "in Iraq", "against Terror" "on Drugs". They are wrong and they are a danger.
I was thinking it was odd to have so many seafood restaurants near work, but then I remembered, this is Boston-Boston, duh.
I don't judge 'cause I give benefit of the doubt, don't want to be responsible for fixing. I do get angry at minor things that Shouldn't Be
Unlike "The Tao of Pooh", "The Te of Piglet" is a preachy, pedantic, and even apocalyptic work.
Sunday I was introduced to this young impossibly willowy Chinese w/ an Oxford physics PhD. Her family name, Eu(?), was old family--eugenics?


We have a weird problem in one of our conference rooms... the WiFi connection is shaky and there's a history of people stealing cords or otherwise messing with the switchbox that would let people cable up their laptop to the network. Today I dropped the switch in my old courier bag, connected 5 ethernet cords to it draping out of the bag (along with the powercord) and attached the following sign:



We'll see how it goes! I'd hate for anyone to lose their eternal soul 'cause they couldn't keep their hands off an ethernet cable!

Creepiness of the Moment
Play with Spider, a virtual Spider tromping across the map of Europe, following the mouse... rather lifelike and creepy. (via Archmage)

Quote of the Moment
Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.
.... it took me way too long that this is probably just a 'bot going through the ol' Unix "Fortune" file... or rather I guessed that, but I didn't realize it was doing it alphabetically.
Uma Thurman has, like, giant nostrils.
McCain wants to spin an urge to kick Repubs out on isolated corruption? Try an inability to run an economy and a penchant for the wrong war!
Heh. Penn Teller are also anxious for "immortality through their work" but they're more succesful at it than I'm likely to be...
DUH:Copley sign for Faneuil Hall's Newbury Comics..."wonder if there's one nearer here?" (12 hours to recall I was a block from Newbury St)
"C'est la Vie!" / accepting that / "this should not be!" / but coping / more stoically; / philosophically-- / "C'est la Vie..."
I'm getting a little worried that my typing seems to be getting worse, in terms of phonetic and sometimes conceptual typos...
so one of few nights I need to be punctual(drive-in movie plans w/ friends)NO E LINE-against the Tao to kick against the sticks hop a cab?
I use the term sophomoric too freely, maybe. There isn't much daylight between my use of that and wisdom so time tested it's trite.

it goes around and around

As a sidenote, I cranked up my "Twitter journal" viewer to show my 5 last tweets rather than just 3. On the one hand, I'm happy to have less of the "well I don't want to post because I'll push something clever off" thing (yeah, I know) but on the other hand, I'm posting more trivial stuff (yeah, I REALLY know.)

Anyway, went to a real life Drive-In last night, out in Mendon, with Ariana and Shawn. Pretty cool, $20 buys you a carload, you can bring along some lawnchairs and a radio... we saw "Tropic Thunder" and "Pineapple Express", both kind of goofy spoofs, not bad End-of-Summer Drive-In Fair.

Passage of the Moment
"Pooh," asked Piglet, "did you remember to help Owl remove that--"

"Of course," said Pooh. "I have a phonographic memory, you know."

"You mean," said Rabbit, "a photographic memory."

"No," insisted Pooh. "Phonographic. It goes around and around. Sometimes it gets stuck. That's why I remember things so well."

Benjamin Hoff, "The Te of Piglet"
The book is kind of a disappointment. especially compared to its companion "The Tao of Pooh". This book is more preachy and pedantic and ultimately apocalyptic in its outlook... Hoff almost seems to be turning himself into a messianic, or at least redemptive, figure for Piglet and some of the other Pooh characters.

Infectous Music of the Moment
Do You Like The Hot Hot Tamale? Weebl continues the tradition of super-catchy music and hypnotic videos, like Kenya back in the day.
Wow, a real live Drive-In at Mendon... fun and retro and the mosquito coil is a-smolderin'
The Drive-In was impressive in many ways. Not least among them:how Ariana's jalapeno cheese poppers were evidently actually full of napalm.
sigh mon oncle's deaf to "should I go ahead and do that?" hints (ala "I want it done but will do the work");"no I'll get it"-later, or never
bad moments in Oreos; EB hands me 2, a second later: "whrz tha crmm flllng??" He had ("accidentally") taken 2 from the post-decreamed stack-

cleveland jazz in boston

So this photo bubbled to the top of some piles of stuff after I moved... I have a number of group photos from bands I was in, but this goofy "candid" shot really sticks out.

My high school jazz band, 222 Street Jazz... what we lacked in skill we tried to make up in attitude. By dressing up as a bad Blues Brother impression, of course. The rule was the white shirts and jeans and sports jacket, plus any black hat.

I used an online tool to make an ImageMap... mouse over various people for some thoughts. (Wish I could figure out how to do a Flikr-like boxes to show the regions that have extra info.) The end result probably isn't as poetic as I had hoped...
hover over the photo to see what i remember of them...

woodchuck ellen saxguy sahib singing marine molly marty veronika two guys mr.a myhead myhorn little jouy workman tomsic festivals
"and if you play Defender I could be your Hyperspace" is a brill.lyric; you can be the poetic escape, but also that's a social gaming tactic
top tip:leave the memcard / battery door open on your camera open until you put the bits back in place, lest you walk off w/ empty camera..

poem of the moment

"C'est la Vie!"
accepting that
"this should not be!"
but coping
more stoically; philosophically--
"C'est la Vie..."
--a poem I twittered the other day; I'm trying to use "C'est la Vie" as a bit of a mantra to preempt or quench these little bursts of frustrated outrage I experience on a regular basis.
Such a pleasure of autumn, to kick back on a Sunday afternoon or night, put on a football game you don't care about, websurf, maybe sleep...
New favorite dumb car name: the Nissan "Murano". Because "Idiota" just didn't scan.
a massage can have a message, but a message can't have a massage
J.Brown:"You don't have to do no soloing, brother, just keep what you got- Don't turn it loose, 'cause it's a mother."-best drumsolo advice
Nice, got a ticket for tonights soldout-record-breaking Red Sox game! (Why do I never have my Sox hat or sweatshirt when this happens...)
Kevin S points out that soldout-record-breaking game SOUNDS cool, but people at the next night, or the next, etc etc, will have it too

took me out to the ball game

JZ got some charity tickets to the Sox/Rays game last night.

It was a record-setting game for consecutive MLB sell-outs (sorry Cleveland). I was kind of chuffed 'til my coworker pointed out that, hey, Tuesday's game will then set a new record. Ditto Wednesday. Etc. Still, they had some nice "Thank You Fan" stuff.

So, mildly obstructed view:

Going down to get a "beer an' a hot dog" (one of EB's daughter's first phrases, thanks to her gramma) I realized how different the game looks from, like, right next to the field. I dunno if I've ever had really great seats to a ballgame, maybe sometime I should aim to fix that. It's kind of like the difference between an old 20" TV and an HD projector...

Quote of the Moment
Things just keep getting better. Fewer people in the world are starving. People live longer. More babies survive. The world gets cleaner, less violent, and more comfortable. We have more leisure time and we we know more about ourselves and the universe. If you're sniffing around for a place to live, pick the future. Luckily, we're all going to live at least a little bit into the future, and we'll all live a little longer in the future, thanks to the future.
"Penn + Teller's How to Play in Traffic".
Besides the optimism I dig the rhetorical repetition, kind of akin to that the Tao is a mysterious female bit from the other week.
TSA is all about CYA. It's not about making life safer; it's to stop the administrators from looking more idiotic: "why didn't you stop X?"
Yeah, I've got a sort of visual pun tattooed just below my navel. I thought it was pretty clever the first seven years.
Groening comic

the world keeps turnin'

So, as this page helpfully points out, the LHC has not yet engulfed the world in an artificial blackhole, so to celebrate I'll post that rap that has been making the rounds.

Yay Big Science!

Quote of the Moment
The 'Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it.
William Gibson

Heh, sitting at Finale outside of Maggiano's, remembered the odd "handshake" prenup we came up with there at a family birthday. Who knew?
This "pig on a lipstick" "attack" fiasco is like a parody of the whole "lets call a spade a spade" "was that a racist remark?" kind of thing
Apple's "Cover Flow" UI... do people dig this and/or find it useful? Seriously?
The green line's wheels sing an ethereal song. It's too easy not to notice.

o maya

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It's always a bit dicey to publicly discuss new diets and/or exercise programs, since they can sometimes be short-lived, but I'm kind of digging the new routine I have going with yourself!fitness and Maya, the virtual personal trainer.

It's a daily-or-so half hour routine, kind of aerobic-centric. It's a little more concentrated an approach than Wii Fit... rather than a cool balance board and related games and activities, it can use any heart rate monitor, hand weights, balance ball, or step that you have, if you have them. And the routines are more based on traditional workouts, not just a sense of fun play.

The routine is kind of nice. I like how there's a bit of a moving timeline (a bit like Guitar Hero) that gives an idea of where you are in a specific activity, I hate that feeling of "when the hell is this going to end?" Plus it's kind of nice not to have to deal with a person-person that early in the morning; my routine as of late is up a bit after 7, a bit over half an hour exercise with this program, then in the shower by 8 or so, and out of the house by 8:30.

The software isn't as intelligent as it could be, in terms of evaluating how faithful you've been and adjusting accordingly... for that matter, I think by now I was supposed to unlock stuff, either a new virtual exercise space or music set (the music is pretty humdrum synth stuff, but it gets the job done.)

The space I'm doing this on is kind of small, but with a little angling it works out. There is some good exercise karma in the apartment, Josh lost a lot of weight using an exercise bike every morning for a long stretch.

I think, though, what I really need to do is remind my body of some of the joy of moving... with an office life, you can get some walking in, maybe, but it's easy forget how pleasant it is to own a healthy, mobile body and to appreciate its range of possible activity.

Quote of the Moment
Simplicity has real value on its own that makes the system more usable. It's the difference between reading a 100-page manual and reading a 500-page manual. It is more than five times the size.
Ken Arnold
Arnold also came up with that brilliant idea
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction — from which, by induction, it is evident that every program can be reduced to one instruction that does not work.

Huh, I thought Tom Sawyer was an odd match for "League of Extraordinary Gentleman", but "Tom Sawyer Abroad" was a Twaine Jules Verne parody
I say "Au Bon Pain" w/ an exaggerated Clouseau accent or as "The Good Pain" depending on whether I'm feeling more goth or emo that morning.
Hated UI Paradigm:"gonna guess what you meant" from wikis autolinking camelCase to OSes that juggle windows when I try + park the mouse
I'm getting way too much satisfaction from a 5, Insightful and 4, Insightful pair of moderations on slashdot.

this is the world

This is the world, and you are in it.

Quote of the Moment
Gratitude is the most important facet of the spiritual life, allowing us to acknowledge and express our awe and reverence. A universe that 'spawns because it is' generates our capacity to spawn because we are, inviting us to wrap our arms and minds and hearts around the astonishing whole to which we owe our lives and of which we are a part, and gasp our stammering gratitude.
Ursula Goodenough (what a terrific name!) and Terrence W. Deacon, from "The Sacred Emergence of Nature" in "The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science"

Politics of the Moment

--Funny, if a bit cheap-shotish. Still, my real amazement is how imply Palin was always against the "Bridge to Nowhere" (the cool name is probably what makes it such good copy) when in reality it's like "I was on the bandwagon 'til I saw it going off the cliff... but then I hopped right off myself! Yay Republicans!"

I like that the McDonalds near Fenway Park has signs proclaiming their strict NO LIMOS AT ANYTIME policy.
"Comparisons Are Odious"-and comparisons to a "better of all possible worlds" we imagine are ridiculous. Enjoy this life, it's what you got.
My dream mind has a thing for bad puns. It was a world with an odd Flintstones element and I got asked "paying with Visa or Master Chisel?"
w00t, I'm now a "bronze level client" in yourself!fitness and have some new terrible music to move to--
Endeavoring to avoid being That Guy I inadvertently became That Other Guy

watchoutformy hammer hammer

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Semi-infamous Daphny had an LJ thread about making up lyrics for Nintendo games , inspired by this video:

That reminded me what we did to the "DK Hammer" music.
In Smash Bros and its sequels, games where four characters taken from a range of Nintendo game duke it out on screen, one of the most awesome weapons to pickup is the Hammer... the weapon and its tune harken back to the first appearance of Mario in the original Donkey Kong, and when you are wielding the fabled hammer you a force to be reckoned with. You can see the weapon in its original form and its use in Smash Bros Melee here:

Anyway, with EB we invented a song to go with that music, and get goes
watchoutformy hammer! hammer!
gottawatchoutformy HAMMER! HAMMER!
The best part of it is it's easy to remember and sing.
Plus you have the hammer.

(EB and I would sing this song pretty much any time we picked up a hammer during the Rockport renovation project.)

Weird thing is, Daphnee reports her group singing the same song...

At local pub Flann's; something with the fish and chips or the guiness or the music gave me a weird Man Ray flashback. Music booze, prob.
they may not know which end is which / but thingamajigs scratch where thingamajigs itch [wash away your wildlife!]
I dig how English evolves and is easy-going but I'm kind of worried about "u" becoming the default. Though I guess it's a nice match to "I"
Always a bummer when you're at the game and the hometeam says "ah well, let's see what these kids can do..."
We would have been right in that game if it wasn't for those back-to-back 3-run innings.
Sometimes I'm way too pleased with myself that I seem to have landed "kirkjerk" as a nickname before any other kirk online.


So, more thoughts on exercise, even though one week of good commitment is no guarantee of ongoing results.

Random thoughts:

Accomplishments of the Moment
So watched the Red Sox get blown out yesterday, and then I got the September issue of the loveblender out. So I made my monthly heart doodle a baseball player. Not my finest work, but a decent proof of concept for my new tablet laptop.

kisrael/kirkjerk, alienbill, and loveblender... thanks EB for passing along the rule of More Than Three.

Quote of the Moment
Each afternoon, I'd trudge across Park Avenue, pick up the Globe, throw out everything but the Arts and Sports sections, trudge back to my temp job, and head to the bathroom for about 40 minutes. I wasn't missed. By the way, here's something you probably already know: temping sucks. It's like committing suicide each day, but nobody ever finds your body.

I think I would understand Windows better if I knew why the volume control takes about 30 seconds to actually show up.
ONE: don't put a mouse for another PC next to the one you're using, you're going to get mixed up. TWO: don't put a cellphone there either
Once upon a time it seemed like the Patriots knew how to make tackles.

greenspan shrugged

Huh, last night I had the jumpiness I had a few week ago, still kind of lingering this morning.

I wonder if I was just over-caffeinated? Or sometimes there's that weird psychosomatic thing if you're a bit muscle-shaky from exercise, if you exhibit some of the physical signs of being nervous and jittery, there's some feedback that actually makes you nervous and jittery...

Or maybe it's tied in with the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the financial industry. As of this writing the Dow was looking surprisingly resilient, but who knows what the season will bring. (Just another thing to be all angsty and anxious about, for no good reason.)

I also just realized that one of my favorite essayists, master-of-the-footnote David Foster Wallace took his own life at the age of 46.


Video of the Moment

--from the "good golly did that actually exist or did I make it up?" department... (more specifically from TVTropes' I am Not Making This Up file--) Could you imagine given the task about making a cartoon about Rubiks Cubes?

I'm trying not to resent the neurons I have dedicated to that "Hello, my name is RUB-ik" ending.

BTW, the TVTropes random item feature is kind of a nice way of getting measured doses of that great site.

Greenspan Shrugged
Thoughts you immediately regret having: "gee, maybe the Great Depression wasn't that bad -- I mean, 75% of folks were still employed--"
After Y2K, I'm kind of done worrying about this stuff. Hell, for other reasons I've already moved into the ol' family brownstone, what more?
a decade late, but... spice girls... "zigazig ah"... is that like, a euphemism for sex? or sex noises? stupid ipod.

night and office photos


Using stress of Wall Street Splodin' to excuse blowing off my ToDo list utterly. Damn, Eagles/Cowboys is some good high scoring football.
(I use 'having been in marching band' as an excuse for putting football games on. Fewer drumlines than then, but more couch and less tuba.)
Career Idea: Odor Detective. Someone with a good nose and/or directional-sensing hardware to track down the most mysterious smells...
cmgaglione fair enough; but just to get you to roll your eyes, check out the Minsky quote at http://kisrael.com/2001/06/23/
TJ's ginger chews, (hansen's awesome) ginger ale, ginger with sushi... ginger ginger ginger!!
My aunt digs the slots-- she got a PC sim of one. Very amused to see she'll let it play itself... "hey I'm a gambler who gets bored easily."

remeber, you can't have wednesday with out the "ednes"

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Ugh, this week is still going on?

Prudery of the Moment
The 1968 Romeo and Juliet shows breasts after Peek A Boos and Modesty Bedsheets appeared to be used. Especially notable as the actress was only 15 at the time — supposedly, she wasn't allowed to attend the premiere because she was too young to be allowed to see herself topless. It was originally rated G, then changed to PG once the rating existed. It's actually illegal to show the nude scene in United States high school English classes because of the laws on child pornography.
It reminds me a bit of underage but sexually active kids who use cellphone cameras and the like to make their own child pornography that would be illegal for them, or anyone, to look at. (Then again, I guess statutory rape laws might've made what they were doing illegal for at least one of them.)

I think I did see that movie in school, seventh grade, 1987 or so. I don't know if the standards have changed since then. We were suitably wide-eyed.

It is unfortunate that these kids are doing what they're doing as young as they're doing it, though, whether it's hormones in food and the environment accelerating the onset of puberty, or just the side-effect of the Sex Sells popculture...

On the other hand, it's easy to forget than "female breasts must be covered" isn't a Universal Law. (And not that uncovered breasts at, say, a European beach aren't de-sexed, any more than a supple torso or curve of hip on an American beach is... it's just the old American Puritan reaching out and trying to cram sensuality into as small a carton as possible.)

Game of the Moment
Cute little physics-y Cricket batsman simulation. I was thinking a bit about this when I did that OLPC Physics Game Jam...

I'm kind of fascinated by Cricket as the old world baseball... probably because of Douglas Adam's sci-fi friendly disdain of it, but it seems kind of neat, I like how the "pitching" is anything goes hurling, they just want to get the damn thing to hit the structure behind you... I went on a youtube video kick for that a while back.

weird tape-delay effect being on a conference call w/ a guy I can hear down the hall; cell delays add thoughtful pauses that aren't there-
Just made two donations, one to the Houston Foodbank, the other to the Salvation Army. Texas is wet and hurting, google and give...
Pollyanna: well, the "5 year" Dow Jones chart doesn't look that terrible so far...
I love that the economist Nouriel "Dr. Doom" Roubini's nyu.edu homepage has one of those wacky webhit counter parody animated GIFs.
FAIL: The new signs on the restrooms at work have braille. Except they're actually garishly photoshopped printouts of signs with braille.
Vaguely worried (moi?) about heat bill with a window open all day- til aunt says heat isn't on - brownstones flats are cozy! (if drafty)

the fine line between can and should

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The zeitgeist of fear doubt and uncertainty is making me feel a little out of sorts, but much to my surprise I managed to parlay a night of crashing and catching up on Project Runway to getting the bathroom cleaned, the apartment straightened, and even framing some 8.5x11 photographs for hanging. The power of procrastination jujitsu, it must've been that one web project I couldn't bring myself to get to.

Safety Feature of the Moment
When a potential accident situation is detected, the system primes both the occupants and the vehicle for a possible impact. To this end, the seat belts for the driver and front passenger can be pulled taut if necessary. The optionally available power adjustable front passenger seat with memory function can be brought into a more favourable position that maximises the protective capabilities of the airbags and seat belt system. The system also takes the precaution of closing the panoramic glass sliding sunroof and side windows if a critical driving state affecting the vehicle's lateral dynamics arises. This optimises the protective effect of the windowbags on the one hand, whilst also better preventing foreign objects from penetrating the interior or parts of the body from dangling dangerously outside.
Saw a commercial for it and I had to Google in a "did I really here that?" sense. Maybe they could automatically turn on the stereo system and play "AIIIIIIE OHMIGAWDWE'REALLGONNADIE!"? It reminds me a bit of Douglas Adam's Joo Janta Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses... I mean, how fast are these windows closing anyway?

Demotivator of the Moment

--from demotivator blog, my current favorite site of that type. (On an unfortunate "jailbait" streak as of late though.)

After my typical middling response to "how do you feel" (it is AM!) my virtual trainer: "I love your enthusiasm, no really, I do". Sarcasm! (This was "yourself!fitness")
"Ya damn jolly rancher!" is clearly an underutilized epithet.
Happily coding on some std. dev. stat calculation for Nokia while listening to Public Enemy's "Tie Goes to the Runner". Cog. Dissonance!
Unexpected travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God
I put a milder form of that to spur of the moment plans w.pals...

ahoy, avast, matey, whatever.

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Yarr, almost missed talk-like-a-pirate day but can't actually muster up the energy to do anything about it.

A "repository for banks' bad debt" sounds a little sketchy, though the markets seem to love it. Over other 30 days this past year have had swings of over 250 points, so while these 400-500 point things are bigger, and you wonder about the medium term trend, it's funny that it's getting all this attention. (Heh, in researching that last statement I realized finance.yahoo.com has lots of free historical pricing data. Maybe I should research some of my wacky correlation ideas -- though going from simulated "paper trading" to the real thing is a step I'd be very cautious about.)

Finally, the other day I twittered about supporting both the Houston Food Bank (boingboing linked to an appeal for them specifically) and Salvation Army Emergency Relief. My mom (who currently works at the National Headquarters of The Salvation Army mentioned:
Major George Hood, who is the National Community Relations Section here told us that there simply has not been the public response to Ike that we saw, say, to Katrina, but the costs are enormous.
So even if you're worried about your 401K, but with the wolf is still far from your door, you might consider a donation.

Oh, actually, in other Texas news, Bob Barr thinks Republicans and Democrats should not be on the Texas ballot for president because they missed the filing deadline -- they hadn't had their conventions at that point. I think he has a strong point about rule of law and the de facto enshrinement of Two Parties Now and Forever Amen.

Video of the Moment

--Ninja Kitty is like the world's best player of Red Light / Green Light. (2019 update: aka Kitty Gets Sneakily Close to Owner)

Quote of the Moment
Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men.
Kin Hubbard. Preach it!

You can't have human without the hum.
He knows he's written many of the chapters of his life. Had some good romances, not in a bad place. But: no rewriting. This scares him.
He doesn't mind "spoilers". His passion is not for what they did but how they did it. In this life, he'd rather know; he'd rather know.

bubbles turn around

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You know what the definition of friendship is? You don't have to pay for stuff at your buddy's yardsale.

It really shouldn't be so difficult to remember which one is Ansel Adams and which one is Robert Maplethorpe.
Vista: STOP TRYING TO BE "HELPFUL"--show me the F'IN SIZE OF THE MP3s, not a special mode with "genre" and "rating"- YOU'RE NOT ITUNES
I'm not saying grandma was prudish but she always said her closet used "moth testicles"
Kind of funny how both domestic dogs and housecats are total crap (pun intended but regretted) at covering up their poo by shoveling dirt.


click to play

alphaboogie - source - built with processing
alphaboogie! A program meant to entertain (and tested on!) two year olds... press alphabet keys and the letters fly around the screen (they kind of orbit where you last clicked.) It might take a bit too load, the soundclips make it pretty big. (It's going when the screen turns gray... click and start pressing letters!)

Techincally an entry to the latest Glorious Trainwrecks Klik of the Month Klub, but not very representative of it, in terms of content, the tools I used (well, actually this time had a bigger diversity of platforms than usual) and then actually getting the bulk of it done during the day rather than at the two hour jam.

"Stick It": awesome artsy gymnastics shots (overhead floor routines to kaleidoscopes, multiple uneven bar runs juxtaposed)+good soundtrack
I remember feeling a little guilty about picking on the Patriots' defense last week. I take back any taking back I might've done.
There's a parallel in my adding small bits to my website and a bird building its nest. The latter is likely more likely to attract females.
Aw, crap, that was the equinox? And it's Fall already? Bleh, guess so, http://kirkjerk.com/2007/11/04/

ah, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think

One fun, if navel-gazing, form of fun for geeks is thinking about thinking.

Recently I read this Derek Yu's musing on left brain/right brain. Even though it gave lip-service to balancing the two, it had a bit of a bias:
This dichotomy between the left and right sides of the brain helps answer a question I've had about why some people are drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, comics, video games, etc. (i.e. things of the imagination), and why some people aren't. A right-brained person would naturally be excited by this kind of media, since they could easily visualize themselves in the imaginative worlds they employ. For lefties, who are more logical, analytical, and grounded in reality, there is perhaps little value in 'fantasy.'
He goes on to argue that the Americian Educational system isn't well-geared for this kind of left-brained thinker. I'm less of a judger (though, ironically, I tend to judge judging) so this sounds a little whiny to me, but hey, pot kettle etc.

My own form of self-coddling academic compartmentalizing has always been "memorizing vs extrapolating" -- I have a brain that seems poor at the former, as shown up in spelling, foreign language, chemistry, but when there are fewer basic elements, and the focus is on manipulating them in interesting ways, I do well; math (up until Calculus at least), computer science, physics. I'm not sure where high school biology (where I did well despite having lots to memorize) and history (where I also did really well, at least on the APs) fit into this scheme, and they might point to it being to simple to be useful.

I was trying to think of other correlated ways of stating this split: like, Memorization is Nouns, Extrapolation is Verbs. Memorization is the Parts, Extrapolation is the Relationship between the Parts. Memorization is static, Extrapolation is fast and dynamic (and again, I think I tend to be a fast and shallow thinker rather than a methodical and deep one.)

Or better yet, try to shoe-horn this into my overarching Interesting/Not-Interesting dynamic; Extrapolation is interesting, Memorization is not. Though it's kind of odd that I'm so eager to explain what I'm good at and what I'm not by finding out what things in either category have in common, similar to the kind of justification I see Derek Yu doing.

Quote of the Moment
Exercise relieves stress. Nothing relieves exercise.
Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005
(yes, from the usual Quote of the Day thing)

Link of the Moment
I was so happy to see that Wikipedia's List of Fictional Expletives has been saved. (I hate Wikipedia's "deletion = gone without a trace" policy, and it's not new enough for Deletionpedia.) Though I thought I was remembering a science fiction-only list... plus this one would be better if it made a distinction between "implied that it's widely use in a fictional universe" (e.g. "frak" in Battlestar Galactica") and semi-clever writer one-offs ("oooh, ouch, right in the Cape Canaverals.")

It's angst not laziness that dominates my procrastination from techie work- if I'm out of a comfort zone, an urge to websurf is overwhelming
Are you kidding me? They really think they can call Yankee Stadium "the Cathedral"? Puh-leeze. Rest in Pieces, ya old beauty.
"It's worry, worry all of the time / You don't know how to laugh / They'll think of something funny / When they write your epitaph"
Nice not having to learn EVERYTHING from experience, like: "take the lanyard off your neck to use the keys, rather than ducking by the door"
Decisions by the Secretary [for the proposed bailout act] [..] may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency ??? wtf?
Working for a foreign-based company might have its pluses... coworker points out w/ the dollar, WE'RE kind of the offshore cheapish labor.
I've got "lucky" nail clippers. They're from Todai-ji in Japan! (And cut REALLY super well, and have some Kanji (I think) on the side.)

iffy lyrics and worse verse

So, it's a little cheesy, but I've started doing a lyric-a-day for my gtalk and facebook status, and then started echoing it as a Twitter entry.

I've been pleased at the response, generally a person a day was writing me about it, either to provide the next line, or to comment on the song, or on some tangent (especially if they thought it was my own thought.)

(Yesterday Sam thanked me sincerely for introducing him to Todd Snider, which is funny because I had no idea who he was talking about... turns out he's a cool musician who covered "Enjoy Yourself", the happy macabre song I knew from Woody Allen's "Everybody Says I Love You" but I guess Snider was higher in the search results for the lyrics I had quoted.)

I try to be open to suggestions from the Cosmos/the Tao/Fate whatever as my first choice of song, either something that's been rattling around my head, or that someone mentions. Failing that I look at the next 3 songs my iPhone would shuffle up and pick the quotable. (Too often the most emo, but hey.)

Works of the Moment
Thinking about my own possibly-emo writing... From time to time I submit something to the Love Blender, sometimes my own stuff but most often something I've found. I have 2 accounts there, one personal, one for "official-business" and decided I wanted my personal author page to just have "my" stuff (or stuff by friends) and my Blender-Keeper page to have all the stuff by authors I don't know personally.

Quote of the Moment
The creator of the universe works in mysterious ways. But he uses a base ten counting system and likes round numbers.
Scott Adams

"tangled up in our embrace / there's nothing I'd like better than to fall / but I fear I have nothing to give..."
So sick of whiteboards that never get clean and stinky markers. Why don't they make whiteboard-sized MAGNA DOODLE? With built-in eraser bar!
Holy cats, my gmail inbox is empty for the first time in over a year.
GEEKGRIPE: Why I hate the Linux on my desktop: ctrl-shift-c for copy in a terminal window, ctrl-c everywhere else. I wish I was using Putty.
The urban/suburban divide: unbidden thought before a Lego trip to Burlington Mall: "ahh, sweet, lots of parking there..."

a really disturbing number of tiny lego axes

Last night I went to the New England Lego Users Group meeting because I wanted to find a good home for my old lego instructions and catalogs and cutout boxsides) (I figure I can find what I need online now, and also one of the guys there, Bill, works with kids and they make montages from 'em.)

This month they met at the Burlington Mall Lego Store and hung out for a bit. Maybe 'cause I'm going through a bit of a "Dark Age" (what they call a period of time a lot of Lego fans go through where they don't do much Lego) I was a bit more stoked about building then and there than most of the regulars.
It made me realize how limited my Lego building has been, historically. I've had a very strong focus on making as cool a spaceship as possible. (That might be why I'm in a Dark Age... sometime in the late 1990s I started to feel that the sets coming out were cooler looking and better designed than the creations I come up with myself, which wasn't the case in the 1980s.) But it was nice just to build this tree-ish structure. (Later some kids moved onto the play table where I had left the Lego tree. I was amused by a parent trying to tell a kid not to touch what I had left behind. Legos aren't about Don't Touch!)

Most of the folks (9 or 10 nerdy-ish guys, though I heard rumors of women members of the group) bought a kit or two, or took from the "Pick-A-Brick". I decided to buy one of the grabbags. The bag had some odd remnants, a lot of light green and orange bricks, and little white "macaroni" curvy blocks. I made a vehicle:

It was cool getting back to building with a small and motley assortment of pieces... my own collection is decent-sized, and sometimes the idea that "a better piece might be in there if I dig enough" can be a bit disheartening. Plus the grabbag had an awful lot of minifig torsos...
And a really disturbing number of tiny axes. I made a kind of centicentaur wielding two of them...
There wasn't much building, just what I was doing, and a few of my neighbors at Pizzeria Uno made a few constructions out of my grabbag. Bill showed off a great big pneumatic crane thing (an official kit) and another guy had a Tiamat multiheaded dragon which was an original creation, I think.

Had a hard time focusing in the light there. Also it made me a little sad that I didn't have digital cameras growing up, and/or an obsessive need to document my life, so I don't have visual records of the spaceships I was so proud of back then.

Nice driving by and getting a glimpse of Fenway all lit up with the radio describing the team celebrating a postseason spot clinch.
There must be something akin to gaydar for Spanish speakers; alternatively, Spanish is gradually becoming a default language for commerce.
"you know and i know you gotta move on the dance floor / we're blowing up this party with this sex bomb"

hypothetically rhetorically speaking

Pontification of the Moment
I think redundancies get a lot of flack that they don't deserve...

People who pick on "ATM machine" or "SAT test" or even "Chai Tea" or "Sombrero Hat" (ok, those are bad examples, because the foreign word actually acts as a modifier specifying a type of tea preparation, or hat) don't understand how useful redundancy can be all over language, in terms of "gratuitous" parts of speech or syllables...

Redundancies make spoken and written language more robust, able to be understood even when the transmission lines aren't clear, whether that's a literal electronic signal fading, background noise at a party, someone just reading too fast, or, in this case, a possible cultural or contextual gap that needs to be bridged.

my response to this Felisdemens LJ... probably an example of my favorite type of kvetching, metakvetching. People are so negative and judgmental and uncompassionate..

Video of the Moment
Wow, this Wii Wario game is really shaking things up!

Exchange of the Moment
"I want to ask you a hypothetical question."
"My favorite kind. Next to rhetorical ones. I can nap equally well through either kind."
Orson Scott Card, "Ender's Shadow".

Reading "The Postman Always Rings Twice"- "Banned in Boston", I'm such an outlaw! At least in 1934 terms.
"don't sit cryin' over good times you've had / there's a girl right next to you / and she' just waitin' fr something to do"
I think the amount of music I've acquired, and how I don't recall where I got most of it, points to how long and rich and varied life is.
Boston Public Garden is such the wrong place to cut across quickly... darn you winding and verdant scenic paths! Make way for ducklings, ya

rainy friday

Sometimes I think that the main thing I miss by getting my news online is access to really good weather reports. There really isn't a report in any of the websites on my regular schedule, if I go to weather.boston.com I usually can't be bothered to actually watch the video, and sometimes I forget to listen to the right bits of public radio. So this pseudo-tropical storm was almost a complete surprise to me when I heard about some flood warnings last night.

Links of the Moment
A parade of reviews for iPhone apps along with a Top 10 "Top 10 iPhone flaws metalist. And the Computer Error Message Hall of Fame.

Quote of the Moment
You must realize that the computer has it in for you. The irrefutable proof of this is that the computer always does what you tell it to do.

"This is my skeleton / This is the skin its in / That is, according to light / And gravity"
"The Postman Always Rings Twice" -- nice, taut read, but... no postmen! Wonder if I should even bother with "The Iceman Cometh".
"lost a game I didn't even know I was playing... not the first time in my life for that"-- on being "tricked" into first beer for beer:30

found sound


Every three stripe tricolor flag feels like someone was phoning it in. "Eh, let's pick some colors, make up some blahblah. Who wants lunch?"
I feel so loyal when I order a Boston Kreme Donut. (also, it's obviously no health food but it's less bad than many of the DD types.)
It's so dark driving... I keep checking to make sure my headlights are on.

i don't know much about interior decoration but i know what i like

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More progress in decorating my living room... my excuse for posting this is I assume that my mom's interested, so there.
"i once loved someone the way that you do / but I had to let her go / i live with my regret"

Man, screw the Beatles and their "too f'in good for amazon mp3s or even itunes". Seriously, are they still bitter about "Apple Corps"?
Grr. I *know* Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give it Away" is lurking somewhere in my music collection, misnamed by some blurp of the autolabler

boom, baby. boom.

Oof-dah, fun on the markets...

Lets assume the voting was mostly political and not about "fiscal morality" or "just makes sense" or whatever. Is Joe Sixpack for anything that promises to Help the Fiscal Crisis or against Welfare for Wall Street Fat Cats?

Excerpt of the Moment
A single bulb backlit the frame of the monster, who seemed as peaceful in sleep as he was terrifying in his waking hours. Sheldon thought back to the day five years ago when he gave life to this powerful creature. The sacrifice, dedication and secrecy that had gone hand in hand with the project. His parents never knew. Sheldon had convinced them that his thousands of hours in the basement were spent masturbating. Botched experiments often made his lies more difficult, but his parents took to their graves the belief that sometimes when Sheldon ejaculated, there was an explosion and fire.
Jon Stewart, "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold", from "Naked Pictures of Famous People".
The book didn't live up to its title, or that "America" textbook parody. The New Yorker "casual" format sometimes isn't all that funny...

Link of the Moment
election.twitter.com is weirdly hypnotic, all these little < 140 character snippets scrolling down as they are entered. Captivating, a bit vapid... maybe a way of catching the technoliterate zeitgeist.

I love when football players are running in formation to protect the guy trying to return a kickoff, holding hands. If only they skipped...
"i was determined not to need this / so determined not to see this / coming, going, gone" -jess yoakum
pentomino "Monday: eat at Chili's to cure cancer"? I think you might want to try some more traditional courses of treatment first.
Alaska's state quarter is the awesomest, a bear totally ripping into some salmon.
You can't spell "down" without D-O-W!
From hope to duh: "The market is down less than 200! That's not so b-- oh wait, that's NASDAQ."
In general I'm getting so sick of people's negativity in general, such a bitch + glass half empty culture. It's just not a useful stance.
Weird; CNN seems to be linking to wrong HR 3997 "How they voted" doc, http://tinyurl.com/3997huh - that's last year, not the bailout...
Also... NY has a "Congressman Israel"? Who knew?
"Aaaayyy... See? I'm like the white the Fonz" "Uhhh--the Fonz WAS white" "Aaaayyyy!"

we take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world

So this weekend I went to an interesting event... FoSO hosted a small concert in her home, the singer/songwriter Jess Yoakum. She did a set of songs (mostly her own lovely and sometimes moving work, one cover) accompanying herself on guitar, though on a few pieces she was singing to a recorded piano accompaniment.

Anyway, it was a great time, excellent music, a nice pass-the-hat hippy feel to it all. Jess has a blog about her "house tour" -- this was just the kickoff performance. She's associated with Concerts in your Home, it's kind of a small movement for independent artists.

Anyway, great music, and a cool event.

Excerpt of the Moment
All the time we are aware of millions of things around us--these changing shapes, these burning hills, the sound of the engine, the feel of the throttle, each rock and weed and fence post and piece of debris beside the road--aware of these things but not really conscious of them unless there is something unusual or unless they reflect something we are predisposed to see. We could not possibly be conscious of these things and remember all of them because our mind would be so full of useless details we would be unable to think. From all this awareness we must select, and what we select and call consciousness is never the same as awareness because the process of selection mutates it. We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.
Robert Pirsig, from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence"
I read that book this past March, mostly on trains in Japan, and am rereading it sooner than I otherwise would because my UU Science and Spirituality group chose it as a discussion topic. (Probably in part because of my vigorous defense of it at the last meeting before Summer... I thought it was being unfairly maligned as "just a bunch of moraless hippies going around" or some such. But the person making the accusation had actually been thinking of "On the World", recanted, read the book and ended up liking it very much.

This paragraph really is hugely important in the setup for the Taoist-ish interpretation of the world that comes later in the book, and that final sentence is just beautiful.

Link of the Moment
After pointing out Twitter's "live politics" bit, I got some personalized email mentioning C-SPAN's Debate Hub including the gizmodo writeup.

Heh, I'm guessing C-SPAN must be monitoring sites that link to Twitter's feature and then writing relatively personalized notes to webmasters. (Relatively; it felt maybe a bit astroturfed, but not too blatantly Spam-y.) Still, it was pretty focused, and the C-span site seems to have some nifty knickknacks.
life is too short so love the one you got cause you might get runover or you might get shot

I guess I'm enough of a europhile that it seems weirdly cool to be corresponding with friends from there.
And readjusting to still plan to have fun in an evening, even though it's seven and dark already, feels downright Nordic.

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