Amber and I had been working on straightening up the place a bit before our trip in 2 weeks. I was taking a break and lounging as she walked in looking a bit more on the ball than I was feeling at the moment, and she was then amused when I asked "How can I help you? Err, how can I help us?"
May 1, 2011
I realize that in that kind of situation, where I'm looking for guidance on how I can be useful (since I know I'm not always a great self-starer with the domestic stuff, what with my generally bachelor-ish standards of household cleanliness, poor organizational skills, and being a bit lazy) I often catch myself a bit because I'm thinking of this old Doonesbury comic:
Sorry for the poor scan... it's from "The Big Book of New American Humor", a giant yellow tome from 1990 that was wildly influential on me in high school... I often see it at half-priced book places (like the basement of the Harvard Book Store) and it's well worth the price of admission.
It also reminds me a bit of this old Star Trek quote:
"'Let me help'. A hundred years or so from now, I believe, a famous novelist will write a classic using that theme. He'll recommend those three words over 'I love you'."Amber, I dig helping you...
--Captain Kirk, "The City on the Edge of Forever"
This is the view from the top step of my workplace, 501 Boylston. (Usually there aren't headless people walking around though.)
May 2, 2011
I put it together with a great free iPhone app from Microsoft... photosynth. It's a bit like some other panoramic apps I've shown here but it makes these interactive pieces that angle and stitch the separate views in real time, so you don't get the fish-eye effect of just mapping the whole thing onto a flat surface.
The other interesting thing about the app is how it's in Microsoft's "authentically digital" Metro style, as seen on the new Windows Phones - it gets rid of the chrome, random shading and softening and 3Ding that most software has these days. I think I digit it but I'm not sure.
"Perfect might be the enemy of good, but good enough is the enemy of brilliant."
"Speaking of things that are gross, why do cats who always pee and poop in their litter box feel like they can just barf anywhere they want?"
"8 years to the day when Bush put on that costume and falsely declared "Mission: Accomplished.""
Well-timed: 65th anniversary of Hitler's Death announcement, 8th anniversary of "Mission Accomplished", and interrupted Trump's Apprentice.
That said, I'm in the anti-gloating side. Hopefully this further disrupts Al-Qaeda, but still, dancing on his grave is not helpful.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/may/01/the-secret-life-of-libraries - nice piece on the institution.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/may/01/the-secret-life-of-libraries - nice piece on the institution.
"Was Du erlebst, kann keine Macht der Welt Dir rauben. [What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you]"
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."
--Martin Luther King, Jr
"Man walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "Gimme a drink." Bartender says, "Why should I? You're so drunk your breath gives me a nosebleed.""
--Henny Youngman as envisioned by Deanne Stillman
May 3, 2011
So this photo, of the White House staff watching events unfold in the Situation Room, is making the rounds. I really appreciate Obama and Clinton's expressions.
Boingboing pointed out some nuances (in part from here):
- There was some talk on the news wires of CIA director Leon Panetta and the National Security team watching the operation unfold, real-time, via live video. Is that what they're doing here? And how did that work?
- Are they viewing the moment of the kill, or perhaps the body?
- what that mosaic'd document was. Guesses?
- The document beneath it looks like the aerial shot of the compound one can also see on Google Earth.
- Next to Obama on the floor, there's a burn bag.
- Man next to Clinton has a "Secret Service" lanyard around his neck.
- Clinton's holding a binder that says "Top Secret Code Word NOFORN, For use in White House Sit Room only."
- They're using HP laptops.
- Ethernet, no wireless.
- Clinton's expression is particularly intense.
- Seating arrangement.
"Bin Laden is finally dead. It's amazing what Americans can do when the Playstation Network is down."
http://www.juancole.com/2011/05/obama-and-the-end-of-al-qaeda.html - a level headed look at how Osama came to be
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/05/out-of-osamas-death-a-fake-quotation-is-born/238220 - hmm, that MLKjr quote isn't him...
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"
Logotherapy, keeping in mind the essential transitoriness of human existence, is not pessimistic but rather activistic. To express this point figuratively we might say: The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadmess that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him? "No, thank you," he will think, "Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy."
May 4, 2011
--Victor Frankl, from "Man's Search for Meaning". I appreciate its support for my (sometimes seemingly narcissistic) deliberate journaling...
Boston Ambulances have added a lower whooping voice to the tradition siren. Why? Maybe for folks who can't hear high pitches? Sounds weird!
For me, what it comes down to is this: no one is evil in their own mind, at least not at the time they're committing the acts. Everyone just has their own (often conflicting) priorities and agendas that they try to balance as best they can. Now, some of these priorities can be, in a reasonable objective sense, be recognizable as small minded and greedy and even Evil, but still -- once you let supernatural fundamentalism into the mix, most bets for a universal objective evilness evaluation are out the damn window anyway, since we can only guess at what God wants.
--From a recent Facebook thread (I'm quoting myself here, but hey.)
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/05/anatomy-of-a-fake-quotation/238257/ - best coverage of the "fake" MLK jr quot
Holy pipe-smoking cats, Bangai-O HD is out today? Why are the Twitters not singing hosannas and rejoicing over this RIGHT NOW???
"SIMULATE the effects of early onset dementia by looking at the 'people you may know' bit on Facebook."
May 5, 2011
Man, watching videos of real people using your UI is super harsh and painful medicine for anyone making UIs...
Your mind is doing tricks to disguise how processing visuals takes longer than sounds. You can observe this if you really pay attention -- people's voice and lips moving will seem out of synch if you really try to track it!
May 6, 2011
"On a New York subway train, you get heavily fined if you spit. On the other hand, you're allowed to throw up for nothing"
"A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular."
Ah, ok. Adlai Stevenson != Spiro Agnew. Obviously. Still "nattering nabobs of negativism" is a great phrase.
http://us.lifehacker.com/5798202/the-cognitive-cost-of-doing-things - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance called it "gumption"
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_20/b4228007205924.htm - Why Bin Ladenism stumbles against the Pursuit of Happiness.
May 7, 2011
For under $300 I got a 5 yr old refurb Thinkpad X41 from Microcenter... weird to see 4:3 screen again! No "windows" key, but kinda awesome pen on screen tablet. Man, I'm such a sucker for touchscreens.
May 8, 2011
--On Mother's Day a Mother/Daughter portrait, EBSO and EBB2.
New Blender of Love is here
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
--Kung Fu Monkey (via)
May 9, 2011
"THE FUTURE IS AN UNPREDICTABLE CHAOS OF INEVITABILITY"
May 10, 2011
--via (found by Amber)
"I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast."
May 11, 2011
$8.5 billion for Skype? Man, and I thought Ebay got ME to overpay for stuff...
http://is.gd/7IaG3I - Secret Service Twitter!
May 12, 2011
Man I dig Pomplamoose... I dig Nataly Dawn's nervous, corner of her eye look at the camera.
I found this song after link from their cover of the "Angry Birds" theme which is also worth a watch, even if you don't know the game.
http://www.slate.com/id/2293564/ - the corniest tourist photos!
I'm always a little nervous about people who actively describe themselves as "foodies" I wonder if they've REALLY paid their foody dues.
"The arts put man at the center of the universe, whether he belongs there or not."
It had to be intentional. We live in a world of scientific miracles. Burger King knows the chemical formula to get corporate spies to taste like expired beef. My antiperspirant is "Sport Scented," and that's not even a thing.
May 13, 2011
--Love this in a "camp skit" kind of way
Amber says Dunkin Dounuts should start Boston Kreme munchkins. I say they NEED to do it for the sake of the nation.
I love Outlook. Sure, preserving 1988's "80 column" standard is more important than not breaking URLs you've linkified, why not.
Clearing out the backlog for possible filler as we head to Europe...
May 14, 2011
I drove down to Gettysburg the weekend of the Fourth, the anniversary of the battle, along with my wife, who grew up on different books than I did and doesn't care two cents about the Civil War. She is crazy about fiction, especially Gabriel Garcia Marquez whose latest she happened to have in her bag, and after we walked around the battlefield monuments for a half-hour that Saturday afternoon and ate a hot dog and watched a Union battery demonstrate artillery firing, she found a place in the shade back behind the crowds near the Gettysburg Volunteer Fire Department's refrehment tent and sat and read.
Fifty yards away, under the trees where the Pennsylvania reserves must've sat on July 3 waiting Pickett's charge, my wife in white jumpsuit reclined on the grass, so absorbed in the passions of a man on the Colombian coast that she didnt answer when I came over and said hello to her. Eyes on the page, she just reached and took me by the ankle.
--Garrison Keillor, about his Danish wife. I've always found this description of distracted affection extremely attractive. (I'm not sure if that speaks well of me, but it is what it is.)
Why TV is bad for kids: depth of field fakery, lack of emotional back-and-forth, too much and rapid changing, and just a bad habit...
2007 idea for a fridge: have it spinning at a large percentage of the speed of light, so relativistic effects will keep your food fresh!
In going through my backlog I was surprised I never wrote about how in 2007 my friend Jacques D. described my central philosophy as "cruxian"; that I want to get to the crux of things, and I'm generally disdainful of nuance and a "gourmet" approach to life. Give me a novel, central core idea, and economize on all the trappings around that.
You know, from a UI perspective, toggle push buttons that change the state of a system are kind of problematic. If the current state isn't immediately clear, than it's ambiguous if a button should tell you what the current state is, or what the state will change to if the button is pressed.
May 15, 2011
For example, my cellphone has a virtual button "Speaker On", and if the other person isn't talking, I don't know if that means the speaker is on, or will turn on if I press that button.
I see this a lot with music players... there's the convention of the right pointing triangle for "play" (and a square or two vertical lines for "pause") but often it's a guess if it means "playing" or "play".
Photos of the Moment
For technical reasons, at least for the time being I'm going to have to be very selective about how many photos I publish here, just saving the truly odd or visually decent ones...
One of the first things we did was putter around our neighborhood in the 11th arrondissement, and they had a kind of amazing farmers market on the Rue d'Aligre. Including this street performer who was balancing a fishbowl on his head.
After heading back to the apartment we're renting for a nap, we headed to the museée du quai Branly. We may head back to this cultural museum and its first peoples exhibits, but for now we just got a all-Paris museum pass and then admired the greenery.
I think you may know this gal.
Tilt-shifted view from atop the Tower.. it doesn't really look like toys from up there.
Safely in Paris. loving the app CityMaps2Go-- even without paying for data roaming you can preload maps and then know where you are!
May 16, 2011
RIP Jim Henson, September 24, 1936 - May 16, 1990
We slept in way later than we have before, like 1PM... must be a bit of jet lag... then we headed to the Modern and Contemporary collections at Centre Pompidou...
Why, IMO, OSX sucks: no Irfanview. Think about installing ImageMagick. Installer for that requires Xcode. WTF. I just don't jive with Macs.
"half the shit in my Netflix cuecould be listed as:
Things A Better Version Of Me Would Actually Sit Through"
--http://twitter.com/mat_johnson (The other half of mine tends to be "might contain boobies")
Boingboing pointed out this awesome Princess Bride ambigram... I made a little tool to enjoy it more. It's such a clever bit of typography!
May 17, 2011
Photos of the Moment
Tickling a rhino outside the Orsay.
Love locks on the Pont des Arts.
Not sure which bridge near the Louvre this was but I liked the Space Invader...
At the Rodin garden... interestingly I caught a lot of detail by sticking my camera in the grieving guy's face than I could see in person.
WWI tank at Les Invalides
Watcher of Napolean's Tomb.
Finally at the end of the day, Amber and I retire to the awesome 7th floor patio for a snack, and to reflect (in a mirror in an apartment across the street)
"My wife suggested spicing up our sex life with role playing.Now a d20's wedged in my crack, the DM is staring at us & this isn't sexy at all"
May 18, 2011
Paris of the Moment
Oddly, despite being at the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe and the cabaret, it wasn't a super-photogenic day.
Miller's turtles on display at the Louvre!
This is how you see the Mona Lisa. It's not that bad, actually, if your patient you can get a front row view, and take it in albeit from a bit of a distance. It was more exciting when the guy was accusing another guy of being a pickpocket.
Amber framing a shot.
Sculptures at the Louvre. The scale of the place is breathtaking... some of the canvases are just... I've lived in apartments with less floor space than some of these.
At the risk of sounding like "un poseur"ubiquitous cheap baguette and very good inexpensive table wine is a nice way to live.
Hooray for FC Porto... your fans were making a hell of a lot of noise around the Arc de Triomphe tonight!
May 19, 2011
Europe of the Moment
Our final full day in Paris...
Paris has some mean looking pigeons including these bruisers near the L'Orangerie.
L'Orangerie, the old greenhouse for the Louvre, has two magnificent oval rooms for viewing Monet's Waterlilies. Here an artist was painting a work in the second room. The work appears to be some kind of Impression of Impressionism, sharing the colors but damn little of the form. Metaimpressionism?
Near Belleville, Amber noticed this rather scorched apartment building.
After a rest, we headed out to Sacre-Coeur. Pretty!
It was probably the most tourist-y space we went to save the Louvre... a ton of street performers, including this guy doing tricks and acrobatics with a black soccer ball or somesuch.
I'm sure someone has pointed out the poetically just descent from the Sacred to the Profane, going from the basilica at the peak down to the Red Light District. Here is the famous Moulin Rouge windmill, though the shot is a little off because it's not night.
Finally, back to our temporary home away from home for a final night. We had one meal here at Le Pure Cafe, and drinks another night. Talk about picturesque... during the day today the street had been blocked off for a full film crew with crazy lighting rigs and stinky generator trucks filming at tables in front.
May 20, 2011
Au Revoir à Paris of the Moment
The view from 6 rue de Jean Mace... a lovely patio to relax in the evenings with.
May 21, 2011
--They were saying this is one of germany's favorites...thought I'd post it since I should be there now!
Germany of the Moment
Yes, past, pre-publishing me, I am in Germany now! Today we went to Heidelberg.
The old ruined castle is just amazing. On the way in we wiki'd up the history, and what an influence the sense of ruin and fallen grandeur was for former generations.
Detail from a fountain in the upper courtyard.
I love how part of the castle behind the wall is there, and part not.
Far beneath the castle is the university town.
There was a protest rally in the middle of town by the church, but the protestors were outnumbered by the loaded-for-bear riot police around (including mounted officers and these motorbike guys) but all the cops were pretty relaxed and amused by the whole thing.
Volker and Caroline...
Finally, the river Necker.
May 22, 2011
Since I'm in a land of "funny lookin' money"... ideas for US Currency redesign by Michael Tyznik
Germany of the Moment
Visiting Miltenberg today...
We saw "Zum Riesen", with a claim to being Germany's oldest tavern
Lovely old castle town, though the main castle was undergoing renovation.
Still, the nature was pretty amazing on the walkways up there... at the bottom is Volker and Coraline.
Oh rats, we forgot to get escargot in Paris!
The view of the vineyard-laden hills by the nearby monastery were grand.
Germans have a tradition of eating delicious cake on Sunday afternoon. I highly approve of this tradition.
May 23, 2011
--More fun with American currency
Germany of the Moment
Today Volker was at work, the kids were at Kindergarten, and we went with Veronika to Aschaffenburg, a perfectly lovely little town.
It has its own castle. Frankfurt airport is nearby, and all over the place the sky is crossed with contrails.
Also a fine little shoppig district.
You get the Max for the Minimum at... T K Maxx? Huh.
Germans love board games. This wasn't even a specialty store, just the toy department of a pharmacy-turned-department-store.
May 24, 2011
Click for fullsize... it was on a new system where I was having a Bad Chrome Day.
Germany of the Moment
Yesterday included Shoenbusch, a lovely free city park with a great hedge maze labyrinth, ponds with awesome little bridges, and even its own little castle...
http://www.slate.com/id/2295128/ The GOP: once the party of Lincoln. Then realism. Now, utter delusion and denial.
May 25, 2011
-H.R. Puffnstuff. Man, if you didn't grow up with this -- and I didn't - it seems really weird and nightmarish...
London Calling of the Moment
A fond Auf Wiedersehen to our friends in Germany and we head to London... take the train in, find our apartment, rest for a bit, then start wandering...
View from near where we're staying... blue skies thus far, though tomorrow might not be so great. That's BT's tower I think.
Wait, what? Obama is in town? Did they pre-announce this or was it a surprise?
Good old Big Ben in his tower...
Why people think OSX is good is beyond me-File management sucks- coverflow view is no substitute for drag select region and cmd-c,x,v shortcuts
"There's something haunting and sad about this: antiquity had its own antiquity. http://on.io9.com/ilQm4n "
Plus OSX finder and Chrome have this ridiculous gesture short cut to zoom in- I accidentally make it all the time, no idea how to reverse.
And then Preview's "Previous" and "Next" buttons don't think "maybe I want the next image in the directory", I had to "open" 'em all. DUH! Maybe I could cmd-A select all, then "Open with" but I don't have a simple way to unselect the 5 .mov files so that Open with is there. With Windows, I could, say, click the first, hit shift-end, then shift-arrow back up. MACBOOK DOESN'T HAVE AN END KEY. Do Mac users type? Keyboard support is so bad, simple file manipulation so poor, the App-not-Task model is so weak-amazing iOS is so good, when OSX is so bad.
May 26, 2011
--I love the drama of the character name introductions, and the cleverness of the mapping to "realistic" characters. Tomorrow: live action!
London of the Moment
Today we went to the Tate Modern and saw "The Mousetrap"...
First rainy day of the whole trip, as witnessed by this guy at the Southwark tube stop.
Lovely view of the Thames, with St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge.
Cobie's turtles on display at the Tate Modern.
The Tate Modern is not a small space. I think his guy is in the space that recently held the installation of Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds.
Finally, after "The Mousetrap" (Sussed it during the first act, btw) we passed through the Chinatown near Soho... mm mmm good!
"For English-speakers, that notorious language barrier is about two feet high. It keeps many people out of Europe, but with a few communication tricks and a polite approach, the English-only traveller can step right over it."
--Rick Steves. Very true- smile, "s'il vous plait", point...the folks are willing to meet you more than halfway.
May 27, 2011
--I downloaded the explicit MP3 first, as is my wont... man, it's much funnier with Mario noises than with gratuitous F-bombs...
London of the Moment
View from our apartment peephole on Hanson St in Fitzrovia, London
Man, here in London they seem to take their feminine grooming DAMN SERIOUSLY.
This is not London Bridge. London Bridge is a lot more boring than this, the Tower Bridge, which, you know, looks like it could be "falling down, falling down, falling down"...
Dragon made of weapons inside the Tower of London's White Tower.
Piece at the Tracey Emin show at the Hayward Gallery. (We went to right after stumbling into the Festival of Britain, there at Southbank -- great food from all over the world, which is really the main strength of London cuisine.)
Hayward Gallery's men's room. Entertaining pipework for the sinks...
Reflection, again at the Haywrd.
Finally on the way back we hit Hamleys Toy Store, where we meet Boba Fett in a hoodie!
"Wow, this may be New York's best riot ever http://bit.ly/kWlpeT via @IBHirsch"
"I'm all for anarchy, but then again, who will keep up the roads?"
"Coworker quote of the day: "I just realized that if you combine Lil' John and Lil' Wayne you get one full sized John Wayne.""
So f'in irritated that (ironically, since I'm checking from London) US folk can't get the Kindle "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency". Money to be made here, get your stupid "rights" act together. Off to look for a bootleg PDF to supplement my well-paid for paper copy.
May 28, 2011
A frame from every Loony Tune from 1930-1969... When the merry-go-round broke down, indeed!
Final Views from London of the Moment
Amber on the Tube. I like the sense of motion.
We had about half a day to play with, and Rick Steves guide (recommended!) suggested the Imperial War Museum -- good call.
Lots of cool stuff there including this poster. KNIT DAMN YOU!
Finally, terrible shot, but a terribly good idea: some EMT-types at Heathrow airport ride bikes around. It's a little weird to see but makes a ton of sense.
Man, this has been a good trip. Good to get home, too.
May 29, 2011
When we were in England, Amber pointed out this rather awkward-looking photo from a NY Times article Badminton’s New Dress Code Is Being Criticized as Sexist. I think we were most startled that it seemed to be the lead story. Slow news day?
Giant DDiced coffee with a "turbo" shot. Good to be back home!
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/magazine/could-conjoined-twins-share-a-mind.html Twins with physically overlapping brains - astonishing to ponder.
"The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection."
http://is.gd/2x0LMZ - wordless video message to myself from the Tate Modern... touch screen for ending the msg was a bit wonky.
May 30, 2011
-I saw this at the Centre Pompidou-- dig the color shifting.
"Good literature is about Love and War. Trash fiction is about Sex and Violence."
May 31, 2011
amber and kirk in europe 2011
(the full photoblog)
"Writing well mean never having to say, 'I guess you had to be there.'"
--Jef Mallett, Fraz
Typography wonks ("use real quote marks damn it! use a hyphen not a dash ") ignore how you can't just type these things (w/o MS-ish "smart" helpers) It's egalitarian. The standard keyboard is the tool of the masses. Insisting on the niceties from the ivory tower of publishing is silly.
"It’s rubbish. Singularity is load of religious junk. Christian mystic rapture recycled for atheist nerds."
--Charles Stross, Accelerando