2013 October❮❮prevnext❯❯

september was a rather tuba-y month for me


Republicans: we had to bomb the economy, in order to save it.

playlist september 2013

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A lot of Youtube rips this month. Emeli Sandé's "Heaven" is the only 4 star-- great song, that.

October 3, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V time lapse... sorry about the middle finger icon, kind of par for the course. Still, it's such an amazing bit of world building they did for such a crass game!

October 4, 2013

I was coding some Processing (for my Advent Calendar) on the T and a gentleman by the name of Jonathan Feinberg happened to sit next to me and comment that he doesn't see much Processing hacking on the T. http://mrfeinberg.com - he's been involved in Processing.py and some other cool stuff like http://www.wordle.net/ and had a link to http://whiteglovetracking.com/ , crowdsourcing tracing Michael Jackson's Billy Jean glove and making art from that data.

I have to rethink my morning strategy of "huddle in a corner of the car" when hacking on T... when I CAN find a seat and thus code on the evening commute, I've had a higher percentage of chances to talk about Processing and programming in general.
My "two favorites" from last night drawing class...

I liked this < 1 minute gesture drawing, though the instructor Doug thinks my multiple line betrays a lack of confidence.

Doug showed us Picasso, and in general was encouraging us to draw less. One result:

Doug praised the courage of the minimalist hair (especially in comparison to big blobs of dark for hair in some of the other pieces) but now that I think about it I might have stolen it from Homer Simpson.

I got permission to show this work. I like it because it's so similar to but so different than mine:

Among other differences, the artist has much better control over her charcoal than I do.

I ended up being a little discouraged by the evening. Doug is encouraging us to get off just aiming for realism as the final goal, but I'm not sure I have enough chops to pull off so much lessness, or that I like the results as much.

October 5, 2013

Singing the song of my self, I updated http://kirk.is/java/ with recent projects and http://alienbill.com/ with gamejam results.
The typewriter repair store that is LITERALLY next door is having a typewriterfest at noon. Hit me up if you're curious!

october blender of love

Hanging with the typewriter fans at the Cambridge Typewriter Co's Type-Out... my beauty circa 1936 holds up really well, it has a nice feel. (Not as crazy about its typeface, but still.)

October 6, 2013

If you are bummed (as I sometimes can be) about not having the chance to go into orbit, go see Gravity in IMAX. It gives you as much of the sweeping vistas and feel of microgravity as possible, and also scares you from wanting to go 'til we get a lot of the details better worked out...

October 7, 2013

Found glitch art: woke up my laptop to find this pleasing display of the Red Sox, that lasted surprisingly long (then cleared)


In the mid-to-late 90s, back when "Buck-A-Book" roamed the earth, I found an odd relic of the 80s, "How to Win at Video Games", "By the Editors of Consumer Guide". (I assume some kind of competitor to Consumer Reports). What makes it great is that each game gets its own individual artistic treatment, usually going pretty far afield from the original game art (or even the stuff on the sides of arcade cabinet) and with heavy use of collage, like with this rider and mount from Joust:

Anyway, when I hosted indie gaming hero Anna Anthropy, she agreed to host this thing at the annarchive (which has other great examples of "off spec" video game art from when they were just games, not "retro" games. I scanned in the thing, and you can see the results under "Guides/Hints" on the front page.

Anyway, my favorite page by far was the one for the game Tron where they put the game of the game with a cool glowing CRT effect:

Made up of hundreds of little tanks:

Zoom. Enhance.

That's so great. I wonder how they made those? Did they make up a computer program? Or somehow fake the glow-y, pixel-y look?
REMINDER: The GOP considers funding the government and not destroying the economy a concession. http://bit.ly/GJVn8g

Hey Tantrum Party Republicans and Libertarians in general... THIS IS WHY WE HAVE A GOVERNMENT: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/10/shutdown-salmonella/
You can not trust business to regulate themselves, and many people will suffer before the wheels of the market weed it out, assuming it can at all.
Sometimes I want to get a tattoo on my forearm that says "What the Universe Owes You: 0" so I can look at it when I'm ready to rage against the (malfunctioning, or incompetently designed) machine.

October 9, 2013

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October 10, 2013

on my devblog, the history and charm of MacPaint
Sounds like someone strangling a clarinet player... and I talk from experience.
Trevor in GTAV (about an elk call)

http://kirk.is/2008/10/10/ -- huh. Just realized today is the 25th anniversary of my dad's death. But I think I said everything I need to say about it 5 years ago.
http://english.bouletcorp.com/2013/10/08/our-toyota-was-fantastic/ this is nice

October 11, 2013

Art class. The second one with the lighter marks was widely regarded as being better than the other, and I agree, composition wise it's pretty decent, and it was a good balance after the instructor said I had taken his admonition for "fewer marks" too much to heart (I had first tried the rendering the same pose with like 5 or 6 curves, the almond shape of the face echoed in the breast and belly and knee.) He did (kindly) point out that I still tend to pick pretty pedestrian locations to make marks, and recommended studying Matisse of the 50s as the pinnacle of this direction. (Though I'm not 100% sure I like it better than some of my old, more detailed directions)

There was a time in my life where if you'd have said the word 'agile' to me, I would have thought of Spiderman... I miss that time.

Appearance: Eleven men playing rugby while dressed as robots above the waist and ballet dancers below it.

October 12, 2013

Sometimes I am simply appalled that smartquotes are STILL an issue with copy and pasting and web display.

October 13, 2013

Interesting Times! Marching in the Honk! Parade today, then tonight I fly to the UK for work for a week. I don't feel like i should be a nervous traveller, but one thing I've learned in the past few years is that I am, that the days before a big trip I'm all wound up. I think it's just the sheer number of known unknowns, unknown unknowns, and little chances to be hosed by own lack of competence, slash familiarity with wherever the hell I'm going: from missing a damn plane to forgetting a passport (got that one covered at least) to not realizing I need a Visa (I don't) to just screwing up Customs or the customs.
I've decided to nickname my tuba "Beauty"

Honk! Parade went well.

Is imperturbability to bad news something you are born with, or can you will and practice it into being? And would it come at the cost of other, more positive strong reactions?
I said to Aaron, upset, why are they all so angry here? & he took my hand gently and said, that's just how they talk in Boston.

Life is meaningless, but you can customize the meaninglessness.



October 15, 2013

"ANI/CLI -- I know CLI is Calling Line Identification, what's ANI again?"
"Absolutely no idea."
"Hey, that works!"
Today at CaféX, in Cardiff Wales

I know I've grumbled about this before, but I wish systems were smarter about time zones for future events. If I have a 3PM doctor appointment waiting for me when I get back, it shouldn't be shown as 8PM just because I'm in Wales right now. If I wanted to have a 10AM meeting when I was in Wales, I shouldn't have had to have set it for 5AM if I had wanted to plan it when i was still in Boston. There needs to be a flag that says "this time local to wherever the hell I am"
http://www.upworthy.com/congress-did-something-so-spectacularly-creepy-that-its-too-unbelievable-to-make-up?g=2&c=bl3 Sometimes I think about my old coworker Tim's opinion that democrats are about as bad as republicans, and i laugh ruefully. this is some grade a machivillian bullshit right here.

October 16, 2013


The hour from night to day.
The hour from side to side.
The hour for those past thirty.

The hour swept clean to the crowing of cocks.
The hour when earth betrays us.
The hour when wind blows from extinguished stars.
The hour of and-what-if-nothing-remains-after-us.

The hollow hour.
Blank, empty.
The very pit of all other hours.

No one feels good at four in the morning.
If ants feel good at four in the morning
--three cheers for the ants. And let five o'clock come
if we're to go on living.
Wislawa Szymborska

Looks like the placeholder at alleyoop.com ain't there no more.
Much to my delight, "Rhubarb and Custard" appears to be a bit of a thing for candy in the UK.

October 17, 2013


Such a clever parody of the genre! And with so much of its own original material that it really works.

cardiff castle

Skipped out of work early with my office/travelmate to see Cardiff Castle before heading to London. Quote of the day, from some informational signage outside the main house:
In some large houses, a 'Long Gallery' on the upper floor was used for exercise during poor weather. The 'Ladies Walk' at Cardiff Castle is an outdoor version. It allowed genteel exercise away from the smells of the medieval town of Cardiff.

Dream thought: In our universe, mechanistic or quantum, every decision is Hobson's Choice. But the Self isn't Hobson's customer; We are the horse, galloping heedlessly into the night.
Slate on he Tea Party "Heroes" Oh man, I had forgotten going after Clinton via impeachment- since the 90s, after losing an usual 3 candidate race, Republicans have been tantrum-throwing toddlers whenever they lose the presidency. (And when they got the presidency, the neocon agenda got us into Iraq- brilliant!)

panoramic-y, tourist-y london

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Officemate Nick and I are squeezing in a day or two of London into our business trip to Cardiff. I took so many crap photos today. Here are some of the ok ones, including a fortuitous rainbow over the Thames.

Quote of the moment, from a placard at the Tate Modern:
"For example, most of the cells in our face have migrated forward from a region at the back of our head."

Rpgs are a terrible genre for romance. Relationships aren't guaranteed if you do all the right things. They're more suited to roguelikes...

October 20, 2013

Two haiku from the British Museum's exhibit "Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanes art":
Onto his silent lap
she lowers
her eloquent hips

Though anxious
unable to know your true heart
I give my body to you
--Onakatomi no Yoshinobu

sunday dash for london and home

Finishing off London with another mad dash, not helped by having almost the whole dang Northern Line being closed, and then bus stops randomly shut down. We hit the New Globe Theater, Camden Markets, and the British Museum before heading off to Heathrow.
Getting drunk is like having a 3rd base coach that waves you on no matter what

'And what could be smaller than something that *doesn't exist*?' 'Whoa, whoa there, Saint Augustine!'

Animated GIFs before there were computers
Haha, Sound FX from Atari 2600 Donkey Kong ride again... so funny to hear in the safety video on British Airways.
I have nothing to say, and I am saying it.
John Cage

We both came to live in this modern city. Are we not B(3) Middle people? Even your excrement would have proper market value if packaged properly.
Brian W. Aldiss, "The Mighty Mi Tok of Beijing"

October 22, 2013

One of my favorite works at the British Museum's Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art headlines this review of it. There's something about the use of that fan as central figure...
I found this "Insiders" view of Republicans really enlightening. I'm a little more sympathetic to some of the outlooks even as I disagree with almost everything in it.
prisencolinensinainciusol Gibberish meant to sound like English. Love it.
Bachelor-boy "I want to lose a few pounds and I want to graze instead of dine in the evenings" groceries: baby carrots, 3 varieties of pickles, single serve lite kettle korn, coke cherry zero, 15 calorie sugarfree popsicles.

My doctor mentioned intermittent fasting, like having 2 days a week be about 500 calories. I think I could do that, maybe.

October 23, 2013


Kinda weird seeing a non-gussied up Google logo on top of the page. I went to the top of the site to see if it was an easter egg anyway.
Just tweeted at Athena Health about their standard enrollment form... "Marital Status: S M D W" seems both more invasive and more inaccurate than a simple "In a Relationship Y/N", though I'm not sure about the relevance of either.

October 24, 2013

Here were the people that nobody wanted anything from at all. This was where they gathered for shelter until they were periodically shooed out. There was something people wanted from them, in fact--their absence. That was in hot demand, but not easily supplied. Everybody had to be somewhere.
Douglas Adams, "Long Dark Teatime of the Soul"

October 25, 2013

"Fasted" yesterday, keeping to under 600 calories for the day.
It wasn't too awful, though I could kind of feel my body panicking a little.
Today I get to enjoy a 2+ lb drop, though that's pretty common to any early days of a diet.
Could not keep that stupid (and inaccurate) line about "why do they call them fasts when they seem to go so slow?" out of my head.
It's common to make facile "just so" stories about why diets might be effective, usually with insufficient scientific backing, but still I like the "just so" story I made/heard for this one: the inner hunter-gatherer experiences a majority of decent days, 5 out of 7, so it doesn't switch the body into "starvation", grab-every-calorie mode. But every day is not as bountiful, so the urge to lay on the excess in the warehouse as fat is less as well-- those calories are apparently needed by the metabolism here and now, for this odd strong minority of bad hunting/gathering days.
I also learned that (some?) Mormons fast monthly, and are encouraged to give the money not spent on food to charity. The Mormon I learned this from says he often feels really alert and focused on Fasting days. This ties in well with that "Just So" story, the body hunter-gatherer thinks it has to up its game for that day.
Figure drawing class last night. Y'know, the pose the model strikes really influences how much I like the result. I suppose the subjective attractiveness of the model does as well, though I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit that. I like the way I got the line of the calf in the first one.

How To Build a Happier Brain A new book on how are brains are a bit wired for negativity, but there's hope...

October 26, 2013

Seeing public radio's Radiolab's live show... I didn't realize how big The Wang is. #thejokewritesitself

tuba'ing at overlook ruins


October 28, 2013

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Reading "Hardwiring Happiness". I'm only part way through it but I'm pretty sure it's central idea is just "accentuate the positive". I think about that in contrast to (my understanding of) the Zen practice of detachment from things good or bad; I guess I have a fear of being delusionally happy, but I don't think that "rational" fear is all that rational, in the sense of wanting to adopt an outlook that's pragmatic and generally utilitarian.
whoa i just realized that pizzas are insects and we eat their mushy insides then throw their exo skeleton pizza boxes away

If you're in a hurry, just stick around for Superman from about 1:40 - 2:45 -- but it's all pretty amazing, go Ohio State!

On FB, Christa wrote in response to that brain thing:
Are emotions even rational? Every emotion could be called a delusion if you break it down enough so why does it matter?
My response was:
Emotions can be rational to the extent they help you better guide your life.

There has to be a balance between subjectively feeling good and objectively being in a good place; we rightly don't approve of people overdosing on some awesome-feeling drug and dying young but happy. An opposite of having constant dour self-recriminating feelings leading one to being rich and powerful and miserable is terrible too.

But what this book argues is that we're wired for the latter, in (as they say) the brain is like velcro for bad experiences but teflon for good, but through mindfulness we can switch that up. (I haven't read far enough to know if the suggested technique is more specific than focusing on/being mindful of the good things as they happen and/or remembering past good things.)

October 29, 2013

Lucifer is the most moral being in fiction. Rebelling against that which you know to be unjust despite its omnipotence? Best Story.

I wonder if GTAV has any easter egg (or glitch) as remotely as cool as the swing set catapult -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sEG4v5z_70 (good music too)
So lovely... though I don't know if it's processed? Still worth doing fullscreen:

Adventure Is Calling from Shane Black on Vimeo.

October 30, 2013

Most of these guys, you couldn't pull a pin out of their ass with a tractor.
Curt Schilling on the World Series Players on Dennis and Callahan

Best infographic you'll see today, via

Burying normal human desires because you can interpret them as not fitting your politics is what fundamentalists do. It never works out.

from worst to first


Speaking of the Red Sox I do love some Yakety Sax: http://zeega.com/158214

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