2009 January❮❮prevnext❯❯

prelude to 2009

Hey Happy New Year!

Man, was it brutal out there last night! The cold, the snow, the bitter wind...

There were a small group of anti-Israel protesters at Copley Square in the afternoon:

After some other plans seemed a bit foolhardy, given the weather and traffic, JZ invited me along with him and his girlfriend up to her work, a penthouse office overlooking Boston Common to see the fireworks...

What a view! So odd being at about the same height as the action.

Finally, I just can't resist the allure of novelty glasses, especially since this is the last year they can use the general design (at least not 'til 3000 or so.)

Whatever happens to robot fighting and junkyard wars type shows?
I realized my day is better when I know what I want from it
Green Mountain Coffee Ad.
Such an anti-zen thought - enjoy what IS
At least the New Year snow is still light and fluffy, easy to shovel. Note to future self: seems like the left side of street has it easier.

what kirk listened to, watched, read, and played

I figured out how to make iTunes "Smart Playlists" that just play music I've added to my collection in the last 30,60, or 90 days. Before I made the lists, I found I would tend to search out songs I just added manually, so it's nice to have all the new stuff on one list.

For a brief time, I was almost feeling badly about how much I was listening to the 30 or 60 day list, like I was somehow being unfair to the time-test goodness of the other 1600 odd songs I had rated as worthy enough to carry around (about 1 in 5 of my whole ripped collection.) Then I realized I had it backwards, that of COURSE "now" is the correct time to kind of get acquainted with the new stuff, that any song I like in the long run probably needs some kind of honeymoon period where it's in my head a lot, before it gets just a 1 in 1600 chance of shuffling up.

Sometimes I think I overthink things a bit. (hey, I think there might be my epitaph there!)

Media of the Year
So, my annual tradition of Media in Review! Italics for the stuff I noted as "recommendation worthy" with a few words on each recommend after.

Next year will mark 10 years of doing this media journaling. I want to make a chart. I already know that T-commutes are better for # of books, and girlfriends are better for videos.

Movies at the Cinema (9)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Hulk, Wanted, Hancock, The Dark Knight, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, Clockwork Orange, Milk

Surprisingly, Hancock was the only bit of summer fare I noted as a recommend (I guess I thought Dark Knight was a bit overplayed, and long...). If nothing else, the flying sequences of Hancock, a real sense of barely-controled power and gracelessness, made it worthwhile. I counted Clockwork Orange as "cinema", even though it was just the MIT film series. And lately, Milk was worthwhile, if a bit of a tearjerker; you wonder if the people who think a pre-election release could have helped stop CA's Prop 8 are right.

Movies on DVD (35)
Hostel, Akira, Starship Troopers, I Am Legend, Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted: Full Frontal, Heat, Run Lola Run, Strange Days, Wonder Boys, A Beautiful Mind, Lost in Translation, Shopgirl, Kevin Smith Speaks Part 1, Borat, The Matrix, Atonement, Walking My Life, Juno, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Darjeeling Limited, Mean Girls, My Neighbor Tortoro, A Clockwork Orange, Bad News Bears, Bourne Ultimatum, Kill Bill Vol.1, Kill Bill Vol.2, Stick It, Iron Man, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Casino Royale, The Fall, Hellboy 2, The Stangers

It's amazing how well Anime great Akira has aged; that motorcycle still looks 15 minutes into the future 20 years later. Run Lola Run was a visit with an old favorite. A Beautiful Mind and Shopgirl were both thoughtful and poignant movies. Walking my Life was a Japanese tearjerker I watched on the way back from Japan, a 48-year-old executive finds he has 6 months to live, and tries to make peace with all the people in his life. Juno and The Darjeeling Limited both deserve their place as quirky, indy-ish stuff making its way into the mainstream. Stick It is teen athelete training montage fodder utterly redeemed by some amazing and playful artsy cinematography... also a kicking sountrack. Iron Man might have edged out Hancock had I seen it at the cinema, but whatever. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind remains as, quite possibly, my favorite movie. The Fall looks quite a bit like the director's previous work The Cell; all super saturated dreamworld. It doesn't quite hang together, but it's still a moving and worthwhile experience.

Books (64)
Cherry The Mind's I, The Lathe of Heaven, A Poem for Autumn, Haunted, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Etiquette Guide to Japan, Men and Cartoons, House on Boulevard St., Ubik, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, Sesame Street Unpaved: Scripts, Stories, Secrets, and Songs, The Kite Runner, Tuf Voyaging, Thank You and OK! An American Zen Failure in Japan, The Armageddon Rag, After Dark, The Portable Dorothy Parker, Why Do Men Have Nipples?, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence, Dead Witch Walking, Wild Ducks Flying Backwards, Eyewitness Testimonies: Appeals from the A-Bomb Survivors (3rd rd), The Haunted Smile, The Screwtape Letters, Small Things Considered, The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology, Meeting with Japan, Agile Project Management with Scrum, Freedom Evolves, Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story, Ascending Peculiarity, Slowness: A Novel, I Love You, Beth Cooper, Starship Troopers, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, How to Succeed in a Japanese Company, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, How Are Things?, In Our Time, Confederates in the Attic, On Intelligence, Tender is the Night, The Tao Is Silent, The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Tao of Pooh, The Te of Piglet, Penn & Teller's How to Play in Traffic, Passing for Thin, Ender's Shadow, Naked Pictures of Famous People, Postman Always Rings Twice, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I Am a Strange Loop, Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, A Clockwork Orange, Game Design Workshop, Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain, Future Weapons of War, Word of Mouth, , The Encyclopdia of Immaturity, Word of Mouth 2

I got my reading group to tackle The Mind's I, and it remains my favorite introduction to thinking about thinking and being. The Lathe of Heaven is a terrific bit of parallel-universe sci-fi thought experimenting, a meditation on Daoism. Bryon's A Short History of Nearly Everything had some sketchy science here and there, but was a good layman introduction to the universe. Men and Cartoons was "like wild sheep chase guy meets superhero comics, lovely". My mom got me House on Boulevard St., some poems, and it was worthwhile. Phillip K Dick's Ubik seemed to be a big influence on "Lathe of Heaven", actually. The most disturbing part of The Kite Runner probably wasn't the rape, but the betrayal of the friend. Tuf Voyaging makes me wish George R.R Martin was more known for his sci-fi than his fantasy. Thank You and OK! An American Zen Failure in Japan was a bit long, but an interesting study in "West Coast" Zen and its more traditinal practice. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence is high on the list of my favorite books, can't believe it took me so long to get to it. Meeting with Japan was the perfect post-trip gift from EB, in the 1960s an Italian who had once been prisoner there revisits the "New Japan". Starship Troopers deserves a better movie. Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions had some very cool bits. Sedaris was pretty much back in form with When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Confederates in the Attic was a kind of fascinating take on how the current South feels about the War almost a century and a half later. On Intelligence has, I think, THE correct model for how the brain works, even if the author gets Searle's Chinese Room all wrong. Postman Always Rings Twice is some tight little noir - I loved the idea that it was Banned in Boston. I Am a Strange Loop was good thinking about consciousness. A Clockwork Orange was a better book than I expected, I was worried about parsing its made up language, but learning it was really a delight. I started skimming Game Design Workshop but read all the great interviews with industry veterans. Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! shows there's more to Scott Adams than Dilbert. I've already deeply praised Word of Mouth, and finally, The Yiddish Policeman's Union is great Yiddish Noir/Alternate History.

Comics (28)
All Star Superman Vol. 1, The Warsun Prophecies, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, Catwoman: The Life and Times of a Feline Fatale, Scheherazade: Comics About Love, Treachery, Mothers, and Monsters, Another Day, Amphigorey, I was a Teenage Comic Nerd, whatever, Wanted, Little Things: A Memoir in Slices, It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken, Postage stamp funnies, We Eat Tonight, Action Philosophers Giant Size Thing Vol 2, The Fart Party, The Boondocks - Because I Know You Don't Read the Newspaper, How to Love, Binky's Guide to Love, Red Eye, Black Eye, Weapon Brown, Introducing Noam Chomsky, Grrl Scouts Volume 1, Guilty, The Man Who Loved Breasts, Zhuangzi Speaks: The Music of Nature, Rent Girl, The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker

All-Star Superman Vol.1 is this lovely take on the iconic figure; just this refreshing kind of whitespace approach. Amphigorey remains dark and disturbing and wonderful. Whatever, by Boston local Karl Stevens, is fantastic. His realistic style and mundane "Allston Brighton Life" subject matter makes him my new favorite. It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken is an intriguing cartoonist detective story. The Boondocks - Because I Know You Don't Read the Newspaper... amazed with what he got away with in the newspapers, very cutting and smart. Weapon Brown is hard to get but worth it... Mad Max meets Peanuts via Clockwork Orange. Zhuangzi Speaks: The Music of Nature were some charmingly illustrated Daoist lessons. Rent Girl uses words and pictures to show you just how sexy and glamorous prostitution isn't. And the Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker with 2 CDs was the best value I'd gotten my Uncle ever.

Video Games (15)
Raiden 2, Earth Defense Force 2017, Earth Defense Force 2017, Blood Ties, Earth Defense Force 2017, Gears of War, GTA IV, Portal, The Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Contraption, Karoshi 2, Mercenaries 2, Gears of War 2, Star Fox: Assault, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

I played Earth Defense Force 2017 three times this year, and man was it fun... B-movie sci fi run and gun epic brilliance. Gears of War is pretty well known. The sequel I also played through with JZ this year was worthy, but the hamfisted attempts at characterization make appreciate the original more. I'm kind of surprised GTA IV didn't make my "reccomend list", because I did think it was good. Portal I just watched JZ play after enjoying it the year before. I've already sang the praises of Fantastic Contraption, and I'm glad I ponied up the small registration fee -- we need to support stuff like this! Auntie Pixelante introduced me to Karoshi 2, suicidal indy puzzling. Mercenaries 2 was flawed but very, very satisfying, and may be the only game I enjoy driving a tank in this generation. Finally, I mentioned how much I loved the Lego-dream of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Pure physical comedy in Halo 3; Ivan and I startle each other in corridor, fumbling weapons, as I die I deploy hopeless, useless shield, ZUM
Trying to place Ivan's new facial hair, and realized the mustache/muttonchops (no goatee) look is Lemmy from Motorhead - no warts though
Oy, dating. One asks: what AM I looking for? Counter: Of all my failed romances (technically all past ones) how many would I undo? Very few.
New favorite pen: Pilot Precise V7 RT, a nice-feeling retractable continuation of the line... who says there's no such thing as progress?
CNN: mullah to boy 'Now that you have finished the Quran, you need to go and commit a suicide attack' - meaner than MY sunday school, fo'sho
http://tinyurl.com/8r67ez - NPR asks "when did you see trouble coming?" I wanted OUT of homeowning in '04-- and-maybe- the boom felt "wrong"

joustpong is like a circus

(1 comment)
So, lately I've been digging Britney Spear's new song Circus. And now I know why...

Here is the title screen to my original Atari 2600 game JoustPong:

And here is an excerpt from Circus, around 1:18 in...


Considering the inspiration for the JoustPong theme was a cross between a badly tuned toy ukulele and half-memories of what Super Mario Brothers 3 sounds like when paused (actually I think the riff is chromatic), I probably don't have too much of a case here.

Actually, other people can here the similarity, right?
rstevens It might be worthwhile comparing and contrasting the scientific controversy behind "polywater".

star trekkin' across the universe

(1 comment)
Oofdah, busy weekend!

Link of the Moment
Or a link of a link, rather, Siskoid has blogged every single Trek episodes, from all the various series. Quite a project! That's a lot of Trek for one guy to take.

Quote of the Moment
One Day You Will Be Nostalgic For Now.
quoted on the Suicide Girls DVD, among other places.
I actually find it deeply motivational to make the best of the current time.
JZ just sold a character in the MUD Gemstone 4 for $400, he says a firesale price. That much real money for a text only game charcter? Wow.


Really pushed for time and content so here are two photos that didn't make the last batch...

I (once again) made myself a phone cradle out of Legos. This time it was for my Nokia work phone, and I challenged myself by only using the pieces there, mostly remnants from an old Lego Advent Calendar and a few trips to the Lego Store "Pick-A-Brick"... about the only non-"ordinary brick" I used was a pair of backyard fence pieces I used to wrap and secure the power cord inside the base.

For some reason I am amused by the graffiti on this billboard. (In part it reminds me of this college T-shirt I saw at Tufts, proably dating from earlier days when Jean Mayer was President there... it was "Air Mayer" and had a caricature of the guy dunking ala Michael Jordan and saying "Just Dew Eet".)

Gen. I toss the paper up the stairs to the 2nd floor. Baggged newspaper has a satisfying flight, esp. when I get it around the coffin corner
Maybe the part of the brain that makes dreams is just dumb. HYUK LETS MAKE A WEATHER FORECAST, 93 DEGREES FOR TUESDAY. WOUDN'T THAT BE COOL.
OUTLOOK YOU SO SUCK. The way that I can't copy an address, paste as text, and then copy and paste that back in is world-beating retardedness

review and dialog

My Mom sent me a link to this Christianity Today review of "The Faith of Scientists: In Their Own Words", edited by Nancy K. Frankenberry.

A bit of background... my folks are ordained ministers in The Salvation Army. For those who don't know, it's not just Red Christmas Kettle, Thrift Stores, and/or Food Assistance, but a group (like the "Save a Soul Mission" in "Guys and Dolls" that was based on it) that took the metaphor of a "war against Sin" a bit overly literally, to become something that feels like the (unarmed) paramilitary wing of Methodism...

So here was my response:
Interesting... odd that with the page itself, it's almost tough to figure out the actual book they're reviewing.

My UU Science and Spirituality group hears quite a lot from Goodenough... which is funny, between that name and "Frankenberry" I'd almost think someone was pulling our collective legs... (I almost wanted to use the UK "taking the piss" but I couldn't quite use that w/o the distance of quotes, but it's a very useful concept that doesn't translate exactly.)

UUSS-types talk a lot about transcendence and emergence; there's a scientific observation about how very complex systems can emerge from relatively simple rules, how you can't really know how a brain works - much less a mind - just by a "forest for the trees" inspection of neurons, etc, and will kind of try to stake their sense of spirituality in that kind of "bottom up" approach rather than the "top down" idea of most Abrahamaic traditions.

In this country, it's kind of odd. There have been all these waves of fundamentalism, and it's those waves, much more so than the "clockmaker God" that many of the "founding fathers" embraced, that is in conflict with science. A literalist interpretation of the Bible, one that doesn't accept it as poetry or as a text rooted in and for a people who had far fewer tools to understand and analyze the world in the way that science can, is kind of a brittle thing, because if you put all your eggs in one spectacular immutable and divinely-protected basket, and then some corner of it - say, like Genesis as a 6-24-hour-day creation, starts to look unlikely, you have to adopt positions that are essentially untenable. (Either God set out to plant a lot of fossils etc to fool scientists and demand faith despite that, or it's a conspiracy of the labcoat and field researcher crowd, etc etc)

And also a faith that demands exclusivity - as many say Christianity does with Jesus "no one comes to the Father but by me" - has to explain why ITS supernatural worldview is correct as opposed to all the other ones. It was a thought like this - specifically the "problem of all those pious moslems" and the realization that, if I had had whatever the Arab parallel of my S.A. upbringing is, than I would probably be striving to be as good a Moslem as I was a Christian then - that largely provoked by crisis of faith when I was 16 or so. (Since then I've also had a bit of an interest in Christian Apologetics when it tackles this issue set.)

It's a problem a lot of the hardcore Atheists have, actually. And for them, Fundamentalist Christianity acts as a bit of a strawman. And I agree with those who point out that hardcore Atheism can be followed just as dogmatically as any attempt at "faith"
My mom response was as follows:
Hi, again, and thanks for your thoughtful response. I appreciate the carefulness of your thinking. I've never been a Biblical literalist, but neither have I felt the need to try and parse out its contents by literary definitions. If Jesus did actually say "No one comes to the Father but by me", I've often wondered (with apologies to Bill Clinton) just what the definition of "by me" is. Does it truly mean only through acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal savior does a person , or might it mean that as the mediator between God and humankind, Jesus is the judge of all humans, but that his "judgment" is not exclusively based upon a Christian confession? My bottom line is that I don't have to make that decision.....I need to live according to the light that I have been granted. And that's Biblical, too.
So, feel free to weigh in with comments, obviously trying to be respectful of other opinions and outlooks
plowing through my "all good mp3s sorted by track #" CDs. The track 12s were good and funky, but 13-14s start scraping bottom a bit.
Joe Jutras grows 3/4 ton pumpkins on a including "ground bone, blood and fish". Do we really want to give these things a taste for blood???
he who teaches history is doomed to remember it --2008.11.30
Happily transferring voice memos into ToDos etc. The iPhone really is the jesusphone, the second coming of palm.
Live so that the evidence if your death is found in the memory stick of your digital camera --2008.12.22
"it's raining men" - their bruised and broken bodies scattered across the landscape, denting car hoods and punching holes through awnings...
RIP Senator Pell... sounds like a truly great politician and man.
JZ has adopted a very teeny-bopper-ish "I know, right?" form of affirmation, half-serious, half-in jest. It's catchy! "I know, right?"
"I think you enjoy sprint retrospective notes a lot more than I do." -Scrummaster Heather to me. She might be right-secretary mojo go go go!

the puritan work ethic is gettin' me down

Wednesday. What a dumb way of spelling a day.

Userpics of the Moment

--For some reason the other day I woke up thinking of a few ideas for LiveJournal-ish userpics. I'm not sure if they're very good, plus they might be a bit hard to read. (Also they're all either attacking or praising, which is also more "macro-y" and less LJ-ish.)

Quote of the Moment
By the 1960s, the average American was producing twice as much as only fifteen years before. In theory at least, people could now afford to work a four-hour day, or two-and-a-half-day week, or six-month year and still maintain a standard of living equivalent to that enjoyed by people in 1950 when life was already pretty good--and arguably, in terms of stress and distraction and sense of urgency, in many respects much better. Instead, and almost uniquely among developed nations, Americans took none of the productivity gains in additional leisure. We decided to work and buy and have instead.
Bill Bryson, "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid".
I wonder if that "almost uniquely among developed nations" is true. If so... yeesh, I dunno. The Puritan Work Ethic is gettin' me down.
When I turn 35, I'm gonna let myself have a grand old midlife crisis... tattoo, bungee jump, skydive...
loresjoberg Same here... but I'm still kneejerk suspicious of AAC vs MP3s, and not enough of an audiophile to be worried about quality,
masukomi Money is the medium for transforming your time into things. I'd suggest it's more about rethinking your relationship with things.
Jill Sobule's "I Kissed A Girl"- so much better than Katy Perry's. (Plus Fabio!) Only the "Cherry Chapstick" line redeems the latter, almost

my lyrics are bottomless

There's a Homer Simpson quote I've been thinking of:
When it comes to compliments, women are ravenous blood-sucking monsters always wanting more . . . more . . . MORE! And if you give it to them, you'll get plenty back in return.
Though lately, substitute "Kirk" for "women" and "free time for goofy projects" for "compliments".

Video of the Moment

--Flight of the Conchords, Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros

Quote of the Moment
"jazz is its own propaganda."

Reading some '62 LOOK magazines, a nice followup to the Bryson Thunderbolt book. Winning article title: "HAITI: A sad, sad neighbor"
LOOK ad slogan: "Make It Coffee. Make It Often. Make It Right". Also, forgot that "magic marker" was a brandname, ala Kleenex.
Other LOOK ad notes: Bell shilling self (part of "the prosperity of the nation") Also, light sodas and beers are showing up.
Sunday MIT Puzzle Hunt prep, like 2/3 of the people had iPhones (also macbooks) Miller's B'day dinner, 3 or 4 Android G1s. Interesting.
After over a year, the experiment is over: time to switch the iPhone back to AM/PM- I just wasn't changing my thinking to 24 hour time.
Got my Todo "Today or Overdue" list down to < 10 for the first time in like a month, sheesh.

a very selective history of gaming


--Patent application sketches for Monopoly, the canonical Atari Joystick, and the Nintendo "Robotic Operating Buddy", my favorites from Patentmania: The Golden Age of Electronic Games. I love how R.O.B. looks like one of those classic Wall Street Journal HeadCut sketches.

Bago's impending impeachment trial - deserved - reminds me of the dumbness of and rage against the Republican impeachment of Clinton.
Thought I just heard NPR reporting on the UN calling for a Gaza ceasefire to be "adorable" (was "a durable")
I really want a season of 24 that's Jack sleeping, hitting the gym, b'fast, commuting, surf the web a bit, attend a meeting, etc
That Palm Pre phone looks promising... but you know, as typo prone as a virtual keyboard is (tho iPhone corrects for that) it is really fast
Noting more trouble thinking "outside the box" of my own mental models - Aging? Too much artificial sweetner? Just more aware of issue?
Firetruck crashed a few streets down this afternoon, fireman killed, 7 injured - http://tinyurl.com/a5mcp6 map: http://tinyurl.com/9rpko7


For some reason my recent series of Twitters about ads from old LOOK magazines is making me muse about a change of format for this site. As always, I know it's not the kind of issue other people are on the edge of their seats about, but if anyone has an opinion (other than an unadorned "stopping blogging would be good for you") I wouldn't mind hearing it.

What I'm realizing I like about Twitter is that I've made it a return to the old days of keeping a quote journal on my Palm, a certain spontaneity and joy of discovery... quotes and thoughts being added as soon as they're unearthed, rather than being collected into the presentation of a kisrael.com entry. It took having a smartphone with an unlimited data plan to bring that back, after I started to prefer making kisrael.com public, rather than accumulating stuff semi-privately.

There are some weaknesses to the Twitter angle, though; the 140 character limit is fun to work in at times, but it can also be a bit stifling. The "last 5 entries sidebar" is a bit arbitrary, and outside of my site's own archive and comment system. It isn't always a great match for the site's day-centric focus.

I think I do still enjoy having a devotion to "at least one interesting thing to look at a day", even if often it's just a found Youtube bit or something recycled from Boingboing. I could almost see an idiosyncratic, bimodal daily layout, the left having a "longer form" entry (pretty much what kisrael.com is now), the right having the twitter-ish whatever I encounter or think about that day.

Any thoughts? I'm not sure if a switch like this would make me drop Twitter out of the picture altogether or not. I suppose a few people find it easier to follow me there. In theory I could mirror one into the other.

Heh. If I had this side-by-side, longform/shortform layout, maybe I should add a third column to embed comments right on the side? That might be a bit much, though. (Especially if I don't get the spamming taken care of.) Maybe a hidden column?

Any thoughts? Maybe there is something to be said for the current layout though, that keeping the casual, quick blog its own thing apart from the more stately journaling has something to be said for it. (It's two, two, two blogs in one!)

--There is something primeval-ly right about this sock monkey sarasvati. From this flikr account that has an equally compelling sockmoneky Buddha, Veus de Milo, and Venus de Willendorf
"Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things."
Robert Louis Stevenson.
Unfortunately, I think you could substitute many things for "business" and still be correct... work-life-family-friends-hobby balance is really hard to achieve.
"Everything happens for a reason" does not specify a "good" reason. For instance, not "to annoy the living piss right out of you."
Watching JZ explore the wasteland of DC in Fallout 3... he's so used to this kind of game he doesn't see how weird it is to loot a head.
Bowling trash talk gone wrong: "Is there a horse that you rode in on? I wish to make love to it. Wait, that's not right"
Ha, I just looked up the lyrics to the Kinks' "Lola". I had no idea! That stuff is funnier than the Weird Al version "Yoda", by a lot.
The oddly comforting sound of a bit of loose change skittering in the drier...
Google Groups has this thing where you can search for but not reply to an old thread. Which is ok, but I just "reply to author"d by mistake.

los esimpsons (en la vida real)


Feeling dangerously nostalgic.
Delayed "Oh Yeahs"; the double entendre of the Simpsons drink and bar name "Flaming Mo", that "Spectrum ZX" is said "Zed X" by a Brit.
New writing technique: if a paragraph is getting long and/or tangential, first start to fix it by breaking it into two at a logical point.
Go Philly!...
"Purdue Perfect Portions" has this commercial with a hokey "stunt double" figure skater. Will there be less of that in the HD era?
Jordan's Furniture. A. The brothers aren't named Jordan. B. It was better when it was both brothers.
Who to root for, Steelers vs Chargers... a few of "my teams" are Steelers rivals, but 1 rule: Always root for cold weather cities over warm.
Among other reasons why it's a bummer that my dad died so young, I start to suspect I missed out on some valuable facial hair grooming tips.

january blender is here

(1 comment)

January Blender of Love Digest!
This month's quote:
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out your ass.
This seems like good advice for this online dating world.

Bad Fan Boy-I'm a little dismayed at how I didn't even notice there's a "Clone Wars" cartoon. Then again I almost missed "Droids" in the 80s
Scrabble is to Language what Guitar Hero is to Music.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
Jack London

I think the two groups should have merged to become Earth, Blood, Wind, Sweat, Fire, and Tears.
W00T, 1700 iPod tracks (3 stars or better outta iTunes)
Nokia makes a decent smartphone, but the default that calendar alerts play this little echo-y chime over and over is getting on my nerves...
I guess it's a positive sign that NOW when the Dow slides, it's only one or two hundred points, not 4 or 5.
Rode the red line out, just like old times. When did I become a green line snob? It's not like its trolly like cars are impressive...

linger a while, thou art so fair

Reading John Lienhard's Inventing Modern. It's one of those books with a giant scope, but sometimes you're not sure if the particular artists or creators discussed are the true central figures of Modern or just people Lienhard finds interesting.

In the book he quotes a WW2 movie that quoted a bit of Faust: "Linger a while, thou art so fair". In an anecdote he has put on the web as well as in the book, he discusses how that line resonated when he decided to accept a position in Houston, paradoxically after witnessing a moment of almost surreal beauty in his beloved Kansas. The enecdote is worth reading.

He attributes the ideal to the Romantics:
Goethe was a Romantic poet, and this was a primary Romantic sentiment. A driving restlessness is the mainspring of the creative person. Faust hurls his challenge at Satan: "When did the likes of you ever understand a human soul in its supreme endeavor?"
I think there's also a bit of the Eastern caution against over-attachment to the transient beauty of this moment. Of course, there's a longstanding Western ideal of turning one's eyes and heart to matters of Heaven "where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal", but you know, I think the Eastern interpretation catches the mixed feeling of that moment, more fully recognizes the divided heart we can have at this time, the legitimacy of that beauty of the world around us, not just the need to not let that beauty sway us from what needs to be done.

The line is so powerful because it asks for a respite; a time to hold time still. Only the context holds the tragedy of the condition, the need to move on.

Blog of the Moment
Slate is hosting a new blog The Happiness Project. I think I'll start keeping up with it for a while.

harveyjames 44 minutes into 2001? So what was that, like the space stewardess shuffling around the circular walls->floor?
"Linger a while, so fair thou art" --Faust. Lienhard show it as a warning lesson against over attachment to transient beauty.
Reliability is one of the finest of all the virtues. But I need to learn to relax and not fly off the handle when it's not there.
Humans see in stereo, but I think that implies that nothing is in perfect focus. We don't notice, because seeing is more like thinking.
cracked Generation Gap: 30-somethings maybe played TMNT on NES, 20-somethings know their names / colors / weapons / personalities.
Bush: "I believe this- the phrase 'burdens of the office' is overstated." I believe this- that Bush believes that. http://tinyurl.com/7ozmcl


Poster of the Moment
--I'm no Obama! Make your own at Obamaicon.me.

Via Trunkbutt, whose only example with her baby-filled belly was much wittier and well done than my more prosaic effort:

Great Gerrymandering Slideshow: http://www.slate.com/id/2208216/
Retweet from cmg: WSJ commentary on the 7 most horrible things about Bush presidency: http://tinyurl.com/9qyhpq
Watching some guys fixing the elevator in my building, I realize that the shafts have windows. Bummer that the elevators don't!
Harper's Index on Bush: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Lulz: http://harpers.org/archive/2009/01/0082319
This whole eating/going to the bathroom thing is so weird. I think plants have the right idea... photosynthesis ftw!
SakuraYule ends his FAQs' credits: "And a special thank you to whoever made life possible. I live mine with a smile.". Not a bad outlook.
Is it just me or are the 3 Musketeers more known for being the 3 Sword Guys? And the candybar should go back to having 3 different sections.
Tout le sang qui coule est rouge!
Gene Bullard

the image of january


KHAAAAAAAAN! ... Khan? ...khan.
Big Comedy from the accidental (but benign) "Reply to All", the "I think I got this accidentally", the "Please stop cc'ing all", the "OK"...
Today I got two "help wanted" type emails for techies, though that reminds me that before the holidays, there was more of a steady stream.
New Yorker article on the "Eureka" effect. Feynman like to ponder at topless bars?? Twitter helps me capture my own transient thoughts--FWIW
Concentration, it seems, comes with the hidden cost of diminished creativity.
Jonah Lehrer.
Implications for geeks? Or dot com playrooms?

into the inner depths of nerddom

So for pretty much the whole weekend I'm going to be remind myself of how smart I'm not at the MIT Mystery Hunt. Updates will be precanned, but watch me look to twitter as my lifeline to the outside world.

Go Team Left as an Exercise for the Reader!

Literary Bit of the Moment
"Well, I heard of this young girl. Eighteen years old. A Yassar student. For a price, she'll come over and discuss any subject - Proust, Yeats, anthropology. Exchange of ideas. You see what I'm driving at?"
"Not exactly."
"I mean my wife is great, don't get me wrong. But she won't discuss Pound with me. Or Eliot. I didn't know that when I married her. See, I need a woman who's mentally stimulating, Kaiser. And I'm willing to pay for it. I don't want an involvement - I want a quick intellectual experience, then I want the girl to leave. Christ, Kaiser, I'm a happily married man."

Via FoSO, brilliant art hoax "Entropa": http://tinyurl.com/7c9bv2
(weird... twitter just auto tinyurl'd me)
Just let your love flow, like a mountain stream... ...cold, unreachable, and full of jagged rocks.

How many A's in KHAAAAAAAAN? http://www.flickr.com/photos/squidnews/3200285750/
SouperSalad has a "add a bowl of soup for the price of the day's projected high temp"- do they have a plan for of it goes negative?
MIT Mystery Hunt: Team lead Sarah can scan through a list of 28 categories and recite the 6 that hadn't been matched. Do I belong here?
For ten years I know that an anagram for my full name is "Risk Oral Linkage" Maybe this will come in handy during the Hunt?

betch betch betch


play with it online

Just an odd little sketch program. Use the mouse to paint, press the button to "erase", press space to clear. More of the sordid history of my attempt at a pre-emptive Glorious Trainwreck on the Glorious Trainwrecks website.

Ramble of the Moment
So I kind of lied about the Hunt keeping me so busy I can't post. I ducked home last night, and in general... I don't know. I don't have a great temperament for this. I lack the gumption to just keep bashing my head against a seemingly-intractable problem until it starts to shift, to pursue a dozen dead ends until finally some stupid obscure reprocessing of the materials bears fruit.

And sometimes you can clearly make a ton of progress, and then still be stuck stuck stuck. One neat puzzle was a bunch of letters from various logos, along with categories. With heavy use of Google images through the course of 8 hours we got them all, but we have no great idea what to do with the resulting names. The first letters don't spell anything, or make a caesar cipher, it doesn't seem long enough to be a cryptogram, other tricks of applying certain numbers (like which letter in the word was excerpted) having come up with anything.

You look at some of these problems, they're not designed to tell you what the puzzle is... one is called Micronauts, there's a downloadable PDF... seemingly blank, though somewhere on it is a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny puzzle that you have to search for or know someone who can analyze this kind of document.

Bleh. I enjoy the camaraderie of it, but the event itself, not so much. In form it's a bit like the comic jam or the OLPC physics game jam, but I really enjoy those events that were about individual and team creativity, rather than running your own head against someone else's devious creativity in encrypting the solution word in the most obscure and frustrating way they can.

So, to build on what I twittered... being presented with a series of puzzles, puzzles where you assume other people will find the answers but you can't figure out what the question is... it's a little bit too much like real life.

MIT Mystery Hunt: Just in case you think life doesn't have enough seemingly intractable problems that probably have answers you'll never get




Hunt feeling not so bad. Scavenger activity went well and was fun. "Courier Bag" is an anagram for "Aerobic Rug" (Yoga Mat), so we did that.
Sarah explained my willingness to have the MIT Seal imprinted on my collarbone and keep score on sharpie on arm is why she likes me.
Just saw someone drinking from a water fountain. Been a *while*! I remember Germans thought that odd, in high school; maybe they were right
The Letter W and The Number Seven: the Polysyllabic Dorks of their respective little worlds.
via Bill the Splut, 5 second movies: http://tinyurl.com/77q2ge - man do I dig brevity!
Happier with my role at the Hunt, seeing myself as the Sanch Panza to these puzzley Don Quixotes.
No corporation will ever pay a creator enough to sue them successfully.
Dave Sim

Geek note: how deeply ingrained is "i" as my generic counter variable?
Solving 3D Minesweeper Arrangement problems by brute force. Did I mentioned I slept in a sleeping bag on a table last night?
Geekery: need to learn to think in regular expressions... I use substr and iteration when I should just do regex groups. Bauer showed me up!
Done with the hunt. Unwinding. Terribly ugly non-pass interference call at the end of Philly vs Arizona.
Mystery Hunt made me feel like Gollum in the Hobbit... "What have I got in my pocket?" isn't that hard a question, but it feels unfair.

love makes the world go round

(1 comment)
So, the 2009 MIT Mystery Hunt is history. We still have to find out where our team "Left as an Exercise for the Reader" ranks.

It's a humbling time! I gotta remember, though, that the people I'm with are at the far side of the bellcurve for both general smarts, and probably love of challenging puzzles. So I should be happy to be able to contribute to some puzzles and then brute force my way through other things, like 3D minesweeper and certain types of clue-free crossword challenges. I'm curious about the team that won, "Beginner's Luck", if it was a new team, and what size... bigger teams definitely have many advantages.

And man, these puzzles! Brutal. "Here's a collection of pictures and words, figure out what to do with them" kind of things. They're kind of like super-devious cryptography exercises, each a totally new and obnoxious way of disguising a simple word, and there were few limits on what they wouldn't assume you could find a knowledgeable helper on.

There were also some events, I participated a mixer based on the game "Set", and a scavenger hunt based on "Scattegories", where you got points only if no one in your sections of groups (each section was based on if you said breakfast lunch or dinner.. ideally it was in your interest to try and guess which response would be the least popular, so of course it was a hall of mirrors exercise in prisoner's dilemma type thinking.)

Overall I liked it, but I'm glad these only happen like once a year...

Video of the Moment

--Recommend by HarveyJames...

The font of #s on the Raven's uniform is pretty awful... is that a drop shadow? http://tinyurl.com/9nu73w
Also, wikipedia says that the name "Ravens" works because the poem is a tale of loss, ala the Colts? And doesn't mention the "Orioles"?
Books are to my efforts to declutter what NEA programs are to budgeting Republicans in the 90s, the easy target; valuable, but vulnerable
HAHAHAHA - Bush might be a victim of what he did to the job market and the economy in general! http://www.slate.com/id/2208936/
Superiority of Dvorak over QWERTY a myth? http://tinyurl.com/86oj3c - but good if you don't like others using your keyboard, and vice versa
kerri9494 Mall Cop was shot at Burlington Mall? Wow. Now I feel .000003% more famous, plus it explains the eerie "I've seen this" trailer.

washington d.c. 1916


--from Shorpy's Page All but the man on the right are former slaves, 100 years old or more, reuniting in 1916.

Today shouldn't be all about race, just like it shouldn't be all about politics. But: for the first part of these lives, these people were considered non-people. Thinking of that transition, from property to citizen, is mind-blowing. I know when this picture was taken, there was still decades until the Civil Rights Movement got into full gear, and more decades until a black man could hold the highest office in the land. And I know that we still have a society with a lot of racism both obvious and subtle.

But still: this is a great day for the United States.
Greenline drivers are goddamn liars. Disregard the sweet pearls of "there's another _-line car right behind this one." FFS.
Hey, new president today!
I wish you had, but I'm glad you didn't.
Sandra Bernhard (that - a chapter from her book - is my favorite bit of nanofiction ever)

"For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn"
Ernest Hemingway (probably the canonical example of nanofiction)

Come to think of it, I grabbed some of the best of Wired's 6 words contest: http://kirk.is/2006/10/26/
I love how MA governor Deval Patrick was *totally* the practice round for Obama. He's like our own Obama mini-me!
Great "presidential approval rating" graphs - http://tinyurl.com/2apqfe - funny how it's as much about events as the person.
Democracy is a harsh employer.
Herbert Hoover

:-( Amazon's MP3 only has Nigel Tomm's cover of Cage's 4'33", not the original. (And track 9 is more like porn - http://tinyurl.com/7tfcpw )
Digging the prominence of sousaphone/tubas at the inaugaration!
Happy that Obama made rhetorical space for non-believers along with believers.
Are all those "Count down 'til Bush is Out of Office" tickers showing negative now, or what?
Good: Use of the economical term "Black" instead of "African-American". Bad: Damn it, Dow, stand up with a little support here, jerkies.
Seriously, screw you Wall Street.
The Mission Hill public elevator is missing a few teeth at the top. You kind of hope there's not a painful story behind that.
I do not reommend Orbit's Maui Melon Mint flavor.

god's eye view


God's Eye - well, technically "GeoEye" - view of
Washington D.C. National Mall 2009 Inaugural Celebration.

It's funny how for a lot of people, the biggest reference point of "recent event big enough that everyone watches TV at work" is 9/11.
One of the odder legacies of my years of marching band is loving finding the harmonies in "Star Spangled Banner"
HotenDotey is back??? http://www.hotendotey.com/ - WARNING don't actually look at that site.
Eisenhower was raised in a household of Jehovah's Witnesses and was baptized Presbyterian twelve days after his inauguration. WHO KNEW?
James A. Garfield discovered a novel proof of the Pythagorean Theorem [...] while serving as a member of the House of Rep's. WHO KNEW?
Just realized I was 50% of the way towards totally writing the same dumb "should I change my blog format" post. NO ONE CARES THAT MUCH.
masukomi Feeds suck. There's something- in theory- nice about stripping pure content, but you miss so much of the visual texture of sites!
Stormy night/not even a/star in sight/On my way/to where the sky is dark/Can you tell me how to get/how to get to Yellowstone Park?-DonMusic
I keep forgetting my iPhone has Shazam. Awesome for IDing old forgotten mixtape tracks. It's pretty awe-inspiring tech, actually.
"Tainted Love", Gloria Jones did the original, not just a campy R+B cover? WHO KNEW?

how do you spell bears


--Harvey James. I wish I knew why I find this so amusing... I think it's just the weirdness of its conceptual negative space...

Quote of the Moment
This mental process will always be a little unknowable, which is why it's so interesting to study. At a certain point, you just have to admit that your brain knows more than you do.
Not quite comfortable with the who implied self/brain split though!
Joke I like WAY more than I should:
Q: What talks really slow and likes blowjobs?
A: Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Ha, Obama took an oath "do-over", which hopefully should preempt some paranoid naysaying - http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0122/uspolitics.html
"--and they say there's no such thing as progress!"
"Actually I don't think anyone says that."
"...you win."

The 90s "sensitive new age guy" totally got supplanted by the emo kid.

your mouth is a time-space anomaly

i say a lot of things to all the girls.
"i can't believe you wore that"
"yes, that does make you look fat"
"your mouth is a time-space anomaly"
Originally found on Kate's tumbleblog, which is an intriguing blog format I hadn't heard much about, but may influence how I think about the next rendition of this site.

(2019 UPDATE: I think that tumbleblog (now viewable on the wayback machine especially influenced how I retrofitted blockquote formatting onto all the old entries... visually differentiating a quote from my usual blather feels like the right thing to do.)
"TAKE ME INCOMPETENTLY!" "Whatever works for you, baby."

Mail from the CEO; some personnel reductions ahead. But it's a big company, not doing so badly; in any event I'm not in bad shape. Still...
For a bit I was thinking, "why foreshadow layoffs with email?" I guess so that once it's done, there isn't "could happen any moment" fear.
"Ernie is Er-range"-how my folks told him from Bert. It took me a while to fathom that the names weren't intuitive, collective unconscious
--Boingboing linked to Deconstructing Dumbo, a self-published book taking apart the political symbol. They also linked to Sockwell's postmortem of making NY Times iPhone icons. Cool stuff!

the apple of tomorrowland


--"iPhone predictions" slideshow. (Back when it was still the "jesusphone" It's funny how Apple really inspires people to put on their "Jr. Designer" hats and come up with these concepts, some of these mockups are pretty real looking, even the clearly silly ones.

Current rumors are future iPhones are going to small (the iPhone Nano, which I guess might not make it here) or large (the "new Newton" dream.) The thing is, I'm not sure if Apple's kind of touch screen tends to be good for drawing. (On the other hand, JZ got a new macbook with the oversized touchpad, and that was actually not completely terrible for my kind of doodling.)

On a whim clicked on a spam link, turned out it was for Canadian RX. I like how there's "Viagra" and "Viagra Professional". WHO KNEW?
Zeno's paradox would be much more believable if he talked about sweeping dust into a dustpan instead of an arrow getting halfway to its mark

laserbeak want a cracker?

A while back I posted this.

Now to make up for it, or make it worse, I'll post the decepticon teen dance party...

Man, was the animation always that bad?

I am kind of stunned at the depth of the Transformers Wiki. I like the foreign names section (The Italian name for Shockwave is "Brutal"? WHO KNEW?) as well as the trivia.

Also: Obscure Transformers Website with loving devotion to nameless Transformers who might only appear in a single comic, like this ill-fated robopiano.

Keeping up with theme of the cross of Soundwave and 80s hiphop, this picture and its caption from the tfwiki Soundwave page made me laugh:
"Big butts: preferable. Lying: impossible."

And finally a picture of Megatron.

'Cause he is the enemy, you see.

Peach AND Mango, in one delicious drink? O brave new world that has beverages in it!
Only when asking the name of something EBB switches to the formulation "what this be called?" Wonder about the neurologic grammar of that..
https://www.youtube.com/user/DRSMOOV - well-voice, funny but respectful Transformer re-dubs

whither deathtöngue?

--Excerpt from a convenient chart of Heavy Metal Band Names, conveniently arranged by subject in helpful inverted pentacle form.

if only neil patrick harris had done that song in a dog suit, it would have been perfect.

http://www.slate.com/id/2209603/ -- Masal Bugduv, fictional footie star from Moldova, is my hero. Great hoax!
Trying to figure out what's the best bet for a Boston local place with a big selection of DVDs. Newbury Comics has been letting me down.


USUAL DISCLAIMER: I know that NO ONE is as interested in the format of a blog as the blogkeeper. So you might want to skip to the next section, which is a great Blues Brothers quote and a smattering of political commentary.

A few weeks ago I mentioned toying with a new format for this site. Weirdly, it was so much on my mind that I almost wrote the exact same article again, forgetting I had already posted it.

Recently Kate showed me her tumbleblog. The Tumbleblog is an interesting format, Project.ion.st is a decent example, as is trivium. It's not just the content, there's kind of a distinctive look and feel that's emerged for it.

The appeal for me would be to return to a more spontaneous type of flow, to do less piling on to backlogs that just build up and up, and better reflect my online journey through life - kind of what I had on the Palm.

But I still am drawn to the idea of doing one "big" thing a day; one thing that deserves a title, and that has either a strong visual element (a photo or a video) or is a longer form ramble. So maybe I'd call the result a "slantwise tumbleblog", with an anchor piece every day, and then a daily twitter-like sidebar.

I've been using a "one big thing, plus a sidebar" format a bit lately. I worry though about the waxing and waning of feedback on the site, if getting fewer comments mean I'm doing fundamentally less interesting stuff, if fewer people find it worthy of the semi-daily click, or if I'm just not creating an interesting space (content-wise) for dialog. (Loveblender is kind of in the same boat.)

Movie Dialog of the Moment
Mystery Woman: So for me, for my mother, my grandmother, my father, my uncle, and for the common good, I must now kill you, and your brother.
[Jake falls to his knees]
Jake: Oh, please, don't kill us. Please, please don't kill us. You know I love you baby. I wouldn't leave ya. It wasn't my fault.
Mystery Woman: You miserable slug! You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed me.
Jake: No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.
[Elwood covers his head in anticipation of more gunfire, Jake removes his sunglasses to make a wordless appeal, and the Mystery Woman visibly softens]
Mystery Woman: Oh, Jake... Jake, honey...
[Jake embraces the Mystery Woman and they kiss]
Jake: [to Elwood, before dropping Mystery Woman] Let's go.
The Blues Brothers.
I was trying to pinpoint what Blagojevich in comparing himself to Gandhi, King, Mandela, and a cowboy about to be hanged by a mob, reminded me of - and it was fellow-Illinoisian Belushi begging for his life to Carrie Fischer covered with mud from the tunnel floor in Blues Brothers.

"plbbt plbbt plbbt"
"what, you pretending to be some kind of poop monster?"
"uh, sure, something like that"
"I wish you had just said sure"

Blago's crazy defense, comparing himself to Mandela, like Belushi in Blues Bros, begging Fischer "It wasn't my fault!! I swear to God!!"
for 6 months I didn't see I was confuzilating the front door lock for everyone- myself included- by not turning the key back. Pay attention!
http://balsamiq.com/ - very nifty web-based app mockup tool. Love the handcrafted look of it.
http://tinyurl.com/afyb3g - on "candy land" - the original article probably misses the point, but good followup comments.
http://www.graphviz.org/ - Kate mentioned this, neat language for going from ASCII to graphs...

my sugar lumps are two of a kind / sweet and white and highly refined

(1 comment)
So, it's very 2007 to be hating on My Humps - though the truly epic badness of lyrics like "my hump, my hump / My lovely lady lumps" seems worthy of ridicule even now.

So to that end, and only like a year late, Alanis had the ballad version down cold:

I have never seen such a strong lesson in how much these songs are about sound and mood, and the right setting and voice can make even the most insipid lyric seem decent. The video is about as whatever-ish as the original, but I got the MP3 for this.

But then the ever-amazing Trunkbutt posted this:


Snow on the way. A lot of pre-emptive "WFH" (working from home) msgs at work. Where are we going to put THIS snow?
mistertoups Random TGQ/SB hanger-on, make games at GloriousTrainwrecks and AtariAge.
Linguistically I can see why Republicans push for "Democrat" as the adjective form over "Democratic", but they make it sound so pejorative!
For being a tech smart company, Amazon's URLs are crap.
http://tinyurl.com/al9ewe - all kinds of interesting scams. Am I honest enough not to get hooked on one?
http://tinyurl.com/acye5q - piece on cop lingo. I remember being startled by mom using the word "perp" after living in NYC for a bit
Guess I haven't been paying attention, just found out about the gamejam this weekend. Signed up, might be too late... nervous about it.
http://tinyurl.com/anu9bh - engadget on Palm vs Apple, patent wise. Pre copies "patented" iPhone stuff but iPhone infringes some Palm work.
cracked It is essentially impossible, now, to read Mad and know for certain where ad parodies stop and ads begin. Lo how the mighty etc.
At the MIT Mystery Hunt, Arthur arranged an external monitor above and behind his laptop, not side by side. Never thought of that!
I have a personal myth: if I took a month off, I could catch up with everything. Though w/ the economy, it's "be careful what you wish for"



This is no longer very browser friendly - see its sequel drawblood4
To view this content, you need to install Java from java.com
drawblood - source - built with processing

A kind of macabre paint program, draw with the mouse, and watch...

this program I made in literally 10 minutes during the MIT Mystery Hunt; I joined the goings-on at Glorious Trainwreck's KotMK 19 with half hour left, tried to make something new, realized after 20 minutes it just wasn't happening, and so made this simple sketch program... I had already made something like this on the Palm, but in b+w only, and without the animation.

Personal News of the Moment
In other news I got laid off today. I'm pretty relaxed about it thus far. I think I have one reasonably solid lead, and am trying to find the balance between "OMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD THE ECONOMY ***SUCKS*** AND WHAT AM I GONNA DO" and taking a breath, and actually enjoying that I have a pretty generous severance situation going, not to mention some very cheap living options.

Not like it hasn't happened before. This recession is probably worse than the previous one, but Tech isn't the ground zero it was previously.

My '99 self would be hyper impressed by the web on iPhone. Would my '89 self be impressed that it took 15 years from the 1st web browsers?
Teaser headline I did not expect: "Did Beatniks Fuel the Financial Crisis?"
Ah, joy... "restructuring" meeting. Pulse going 120 bpm! Stay tuned.
Only now, trying to figure if I get the axe or not, do I notice that the 6 digits from my RSA security keyfob could be made into an I-ching
But are odd numbers broken i-ching bars or unbroken? How do you calibrate an oracle?
Probably getting the axe. Retroactively, I wonder if my manager was being especially nice to me, though who knows if he knew. Probably.
So, yeah, laid off. One of my better send off packages, 1 month of "employment", 4 weeks severance. Should I enjoy the time or rush back?

25 random things

So something making the rounds at Facebook is the "25 Random Things" meme:

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

So I decided to spend the first minutes of my first day of not-quite-employment doing the following naval gazing:
  1. I'm a bit flummoxed by facebook's interface.... aspects of Wall-to-Wall, where to pick who's stuff is more likely to show up on my page, are always kind of hit or miss
  2. Actually, especially for being a techie, I tend to be a bit interface-blind. I too-quickly form an idea of how something "should" work, based on stuff I've seen before, and if it has a different workflow or even button layout, I'm often stuck for way too long.
  3. By the age of 8 I'd lived in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Island of St. Thomas, Salamanca NY, and Glens Falls NY. A few years later it was back to Cleveland, then Boston for college, where I've been kicking around ever since.
  4. I love that weird, ozone-y smell you can get by sticking your nose into freezers at the supermarket.
  5. A theme of my life seems to be not wanting to be responsible for something going wrong. So I'm very slow to pick up new commitments, but once I have them, I'm very committed
  6. Another theme of my life has been avoiding things that puncture my fragile ego about how smart I am. Better to not try that hard and leave uncertainty there, then put in a concerted effort and come up short.
  7. My iPhone does many things but probably the single most *important* is the To Do application. Followed by phone, semi-ubiquitous web, datebook, music, random memos, timer, calculator.
  8. Re: not bearing to be "wrong" - I'm very careful in my language. See how I said "probably" in that last note? Plus, I use a lot of "it seems to me" and "looks like" type ducking.
  9. Also, I tend to be non-judgmental. Almost no one is the bad guy of their own story, they might have different goals and starting assumptions, but they're probably doing the best they can.
  10. Jane recently paraphrased her parents as saying about me: "we're just old people, but he listens to what we say and reacts". I'm that way with most everyone.
  11. I seem to have a touch of something like dyslexia, or maybe just synesthesia. Typing (or handwriting!) I'll swap "m"s and "b"s. And certain numbers evoke certain letters... I have the paper from when I was very young, writing my name "KI4K". See, "four" -> R. ("Five" -> F).
  12. In the late 90s and beyond, I felt that my independent web projects were a big boon to me as a professional developer. But now I'm worried all that stuff got me stuck in my ways, that I write everything in a mid-90s style.
  13. In fact, in general I seem dismayingly slow to pick up new computer languages and toolkits and such. These things are more powerful than my closer to "handmade" methods, but harder to understand well enough to fix when they don't do what you want.
  14. I wrote an original game, all in assembly language, for the Atari 2600, JoustPong, as a retro project in 2003-4. Sometimes I worry that the focus and work this took cost me my marriage, though that might be mixing cause and effect.
  15. Over the past few years I've gotten into making small games, like at glorioustrainwrecks.com, with its "write a game in 2 hours" events. I find this satisfying but worry that my gamewriting ambitions tend to scale down to this 2 hour box.
  16. I'd rather be famous than rich. I wish I was doing something to make myself famous.
  17. I played tuba in my church band and throughout highschool and college.
  18. The music I miss playing the most is the dumb, fun stuff from marching band.
  19. I've embraced my musical primitivist that's interested in 3 things about music: 1. Funk-ish, high contrast rhythms, 2. Lyrics 3. Catchy musical hooks. This list does not really extend to harmony or melody, except maybe the hook bit.
  20. I do a mean human beatbox. It's pretty good, really. Though the best tricks (mostly, doing lost of fill) I learned from a skinny white kid, Zack, in Cleveland.
  21. I do a bit of online dating but... I dunno. Secretly it's the kid issue that concerns me the most, tying into the responsibility-fearing thing. But also the general issue of find enough of a mutual awesomeness admiration society. And someone who can embrace, or live with, my inner child and has one of her own.
  22. I'm a great "uncle" though. I think it goes back to that "listen and react" thing. I mean you need to understand that kids don't operate just as "small adults" but they seem to appreciate being listened to.
  23. Fundamentally I (and other members of my family) are "attention seeking introverts", very self-aware, and entertaining in social settings, but sometimes a bit worn out with a lot of interactions
  24. Friends of mine sometimes think I come across as only interested in myself. I think that's not quite a fair accusation. But, I do assume quiet people will say as much as they feel comfortable saying! They read my lack of prompting as a lack of interest, so I've been trying to adjust that lack of prompting.
  25. I decided to go through these 25 things rather than fret about my recent (soon-to-be) lack of employment.
I wouldn't mind seeing the 25 for my Mom, Aunt, EB, and LAN3, none of whom I'm connected to on Facebook -- so no pressure, but leave a comment if so inclined. (Come to think of it, pretty much any kisrael reader I'd be interested in...)

I'll follow that up with Things I'd Like To Get Done During This Unemployment:
  1. Declutter, declutter, declutter
  2. Revamp kisrael.com
  3. Get this one independent project done
  4. Keep up with exercise
  5. Get my long term Todo list down to, like, 20 or so items
  6. Get a new, good job to end the unemployment.

My buddy JZ (no not that Jay-Z) is about the only person I know who's really good at recommending songs I'll dig, he's batting about .700
JZ's latest recommendation: King Curtis' Memphis Soul Stew
Two layoff bad omens for me: one is when my company moves to a shiny new office. The other is when my commute seems fantastic. DOOM FOLLOWS
I guess humans are the only species that cook? Is it recent, evolutionarily speaking? Is enjoying cooked foods an evolutionary advantage?
I like the word "dig". It's compact, faintly retro, and suggests a deeper understanding in the way "like" or "enjoyed" doesn't.
I wonder why I get a perfect cell signal downstairs at Park Street station.
Game Jam! At the Signapore/Gambit lab. Actually sponsored by Singapore.
As long as we have each other, we will never run out of problems
Timezone Theme for Game Jam

fascinatin' babynatin'

(1 comment)

--Man, all that fun plus he gets to poop whenever he wants wherever he is!

Surprising absolutely no one, live webcam footage of rooms full of tired programmers "game jamming" is really dull.
Back in Kenya George Obama is arrested for marijuana. Man, what is it with Democratic President's brothers?
Long weary day coding. But in a good way; my mistakes are tending to make me giggle instead of fume.

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