2015 September❮❮prevnext❯❯

September 1, 2015

I built the website for our class final and it was not easy. But it also wasn't scary. It just took a lot of patience, reloading, and Googling. Unlike math, there was no mythic and absolute answer that I was missing; I could do it my own way as long as I followed some basic rules. And unlike learning a new language, I didn't have to stare into someone's face and watch her cringe when I mangled a new phrase. My ugly textedit coding document was a judgment-free zone.

September 2, 2015

I kind of hate Google's new logo (looks too much like a kid's toy) but I think I prefer the "Capital G of many colors" mini-version...

That's a "closeup" of the last 5 years or so of my weight monitoring. (It avoids the tragedy/triumph of my mid- and late-aughts foray into 220 land, but the data is a lot cleaner) An annual pattern has emerged! Spring and summer, I tend to put on some pounds (this year some of my easiest dieting times happened during the blizzards, living on microwave popcorn and canned soup actually ain't so bad.)

I've been thinking about my inner-eater; the part of me that apparently wants me to bulk up in case there's a famine or something, or just likes to eat tasty things. He's gotten *really* devious: my favorite bit is where I consciously figure out "so, I'm not really hungry, and there's not even anything super tasty temping me, so I'm ok with not eating now" and he comes up with "Aha! Right! So now is a good time to enjoy the pleasure of eating because you don't really need/want it!!!" -- the rest of me totally falls for that sometimes.

Radiolab had a bit about ways we can motivate ourselves; in particular, how to wrestle the immediate-gratification parts of ourselves. The examples given was the socially-consciously lady who quit smoking by vowing that if she had another cigarette she'd donate $5,000 to the KKK, and that disgust caused her to recoil from the cigs. In an even more extreme case Oliver Sacks gave himself ten days to write the book he was stalled on or kill himself. (!!!)

The point of those were that you might need something really visceral to counteract the promise of pleasure in the moment. To quote the "Procrastination" demotivators -- "Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now." Life is so uncertain, that sometimes I think our tendency to overvalue immediate payout is not as irrational as we assume!

But still, I'm convinced I'm more content at a lower weight, ideally around 180. Unlike smoking, folks gotta eat to SOME level, so it's not like I can say, I Don't Eat or I Give $1,000 to the NRA. I'm thinking maybe I can bribe myself? Like if I hit 185 (which is where I'd need to be to stay below 190) I can get that cheap Windows laptop I've been thinking of, or maybe some exhilarating experience like skydiving or bungee.

Come to think of it Liz does dietbets, which is along the same idea of the KKK donation wager -- lose X% of your body weight by a certain time or lose money. I guess I'm blessed with enough financial cushion, or feel that enough factors go into weight loss (especially against a deadline) that I don't want to go that route- it doesn't feel quite visceral enough, I think.

Wow, this got longer than I planned. Guess I'm still an old blogger at heart.
I love logos and mascots

September 3, 2015

The month started with a lot of band: helping shutter the JP Library for renovations and then the Hatch... a big swing underdog on the 9th, trombone shorty on the 13th, and ends on a holiday note.

On the difficulty - but continuing importance also - of peer reviewed science... includes a great p-value fiddler interactive widget.
Cora Vs The Rooster...

august 2015 new music playlist

5 and 4 star: And the rest...
No one's being jailed for practicing her religion. Someone's being jailed for using the government to force others to practice her religion.
See also: @NextToKimDavis... Davis is either terribly misguided or just trying to ride the Loony Conservative Gravy Train.

September 5, 2015

Even though it wasn't one of my top favorites, the Atari 2600 game "Riddle of the Sphinx" has been in my dreams a bit lately...

this screenshot from the animated screenshot tumblr http://pixelclash.tumblr.com/

say it ain't so visualized



September 7, 2015

recreational programming and the geekiest of nostalgia and the making of:

September 8, 2015


on the realities of retrogames

This past spring I had an online dialog with Chris Federico, keeper of Orphaned Computers & Game Systems and author of The Classic-Gaming Bookcast - $0.99 well spent for any fan of old games.

One way he adds to his enjoyment of games is to make up his own backstory for them - for a great example of this kind of thing, see his co-author's Adam Trionfo's "Before Reading the Manual" on their review of the obscure Spectravision game "Gas Hog". At one point in our conversation I explained my own reasons for why that seemed kind of alien to me. Recently he mentioned some of my ideas had stuck with him and he asked if I would explicate, possibly for partial inclusion in a future edition of his "Bookcast"... this is what I came up with.

There are two ways to think about the story behind specific retro videogames... for some players, the pixels and bleeps and blurps of an older game are like the shadows in Plato's Cave, technology used to crudely reveal a bigger, "more real" story going on. (The manual might give one explanation of the reality thus represented, but there's nothing stopping players from constructing their own, as you've demonstrated in your bookcast...) The screen for Intellivision's "AD&D: Cloudy Mountain" may just be showing some green and yellow squares (like a kid might have made with graph paper and some markers) but this type of player can see the slime-covered stonework, hear the echo from some unseen dripping water, smell the smoke of the flickering torches lining the walls in their metal holders. And these players' experience is probably the richer for it.

For me, however, the appeal of old games has always been their self-contained aspect: each Atari cartridge in the large collection I lucked into was its own microcosm with its own rules of physics and creatures and boundaries. The eponymous Superman of the Atari cartridge wasn't just a reflection of the muscled, flying hero of the Comic Book; he was a new pixel Superman, fighting crime in his limited pixel world, jailing pixel Lex Luthor and getting kisses from pixel Lois Lane. He's unbothered by Mister Mxyzptlk not because the programmer chose to direct his programming "camera lens" on a particular day in the life of the comicbook hero, but because for Atari 2600 Superman, this is the full extent of what the world- what the universe- is.

The advantage of this less literary, more literal approach to game story is that it embraces the limitations of player action, it doesn't have to explain it away: Take Crossroads, for the C=64; your little guy fires down the corridor. If a bullet wraps around the screen and hits him in the back, he takes damage. He doesn't have the option to hide against a wall, to maybe dig a trench for protection, to play with ricochet or shoot out a light or light a torch, or to do anything but shoot at a 90 degree angle directly down the hallway, square in the center. The universe, the range of possibility, is fully circumscribed. Of course, it's not devoid of higher-level interpretation: I see a little man, I see a bullet, I see various monsters duking it out, I don't just see splashes of pixels following abstract rules and displaying the results of various computations... as a player I bring recognition and thus a kind of meaning to the display and to the interaction, but that's my understanding from a privileged, god-like view into a self-contained universe, not the recognition of the pixels of a retelling of some other, more visceral fiction.

A damn stylus, thanks Apple! To quote Gruber: "Finally"

September 10, 2015

For-Profit Prisons are the worst. Thanks, "Everything is Better Privatized!" A__holes!
Deadspin's "Why Your Team Sucks" has been a fun read all along and reaches its pinacle with the Patriots.
So I'm dieting, and it's board game night, with four delicious pizzas ordered in. The solution: I allow myself one slice, and then say I will give twenty bucks to each of three other guys there if I have a second.

September 11, 2015

Atwater ordered food. The waiter said: 'That dish takes twenty- five minutes.' Atwater said: 'I have my life before me.' The waiter went away, shaking his head.
Anthony Powell, "Afternoon Men"
'Americans always have such a lot of misdirected party spirit,' said Gosling. 'One came to a party I gave two years ago and drank so much that he died soon after.'
Anthony Powell, "Afternoon Men"
He laughed and lay in her arms, kissing her. The universe seemed notably absent.
Anthony Powell, "Afternoon Men"
Being a novice is safe. When you are learning how to do something, you do not have to worry about whether or not you are good at it. But when you have done something, have learned how to do it, you are not safe any more. Being an expert opens you up to judgement.
Helen Macdonald, "H is for Hawk"
Hunting in Maine is not obviously riven with centuries of class and privilege. There are no vast pheasant shoots here where bankers vie for the largest bags, no elite grouse moors or exclusive salmon rivers. All the land can be hunted over by virtue of common law, and locals are very proud of this egalitarian tradition. Years ago I read an article in a 1942 edition of Outdoor Life that stirred wartime sentiment by appealing to it. 'One of my grandfathers came from northern Europe for the single reason that he wanted to live in a country where he could try to catch a fish without sneaking onto some nobleman's property where the common people were excluded.'
Helen Macdonald, "H is for Hawk"

Jimminy F'in Crickets; somehow my (autoreloading) Dunkies card has been used for $465.29 of NY/NJ charges since 8/23.

I've been seeing more crap like this lately; I cancelled my old number because of mysterio Uber charges.

It's why I only keep one card, and try to watch it like a hawk.

September 12, 2015

This space left semi-intentionally blank

September 13, 2015


September Blender of Love


September 14, 2015

The Best Key & Peele Sketches, as Chosen by 39 Comedians and Comic Actors a lot of stuff I hadn't seen... I still think my favorite might be one of the first I saw, Dubstep
Buzzfeed:I Asked Atheists How They Find Meaning In A Purposeless Universe Arun​ pointed me to this. It begs the question that the Universe is purposeless, the assumption that purpose must come from outside the "system"; one of the things I'm being reminded of in reading "Redefining the Sacred" (to lead a discussion on it for my UU Science & Spirituality group) is that purpose can be an emergent property, one that swells up from all the less purposeful bits.

September 15, 2015


September 16, 2015

For the Medal of Honor stuff (I think), they brought a helicopter right next to where I work, between the WTC and the Convention center... but a tough time getting it past lamposts once it has landed.

September 17, 2015

There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
G.K. Chesterton

September 18, 2015


September 19, 2015

Had my first quick lesson with manual transmission thanks to Llara.

I learned: A. I am not a magical prodigy at this, despite understanding most of the theory. B. Clutches have more "give" than I was expecting, I was thinking of them as an "on/off" kind of thing, but the is it/isn't it question makes the seessaw trick a bit tougher.

So I'm at that stage where I understand how tough it can be but caught a glimpse on how nice it must be once you're used to it- but for now I SO appreciate my humble car's automatic

Stick is so European, by which I mean: you can't do this and drive and eat a cheeseburger, that's damn near Un-American!

September 20, 2015


--via Liz

September 21, 2015

One woman gets through a midlife crisis by hunting down a link between Hume and Buddhism. It's a cool story, but I also get a sense of "aww, I guess a separate re-invention of the idea of self-as-illusion was too much to hope for".

September 22, 2015

Suddenly, the word "symbols" is the oddest English word I've ever seen in my life.

September 23, 2015

To him, all good things--trout as well as eternal salvation--come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.
Norman Maclean, "A River Runs Through It"

September 24, 2015

For some time, though, he struggled for more to hold on to. "Are you sure you have told me everything you know about his death?" he asked. I said, "Everything." "It's not much, is it?" "No," I replied, "but you can love completely without complete understanding." "That I have known and preached," my father said.
Norman Maclean, "A River Runs Through It"

September 25, 2015

A few weeks ago, there was a lot of talk about the leading "So". I'm kind of annoyed I'm getting self-conscious about using it, since it's an excellent "softener" and frame. Coming out with unadorned statements of fact feels rough.

September 26, 2015

Big E, Big E, Can't you see, somehow fried martini petrifies me.

September 27, 2015

Yesterday Melissa, Liz, and I went to "The Big E".

I took a lot of footage for potential use as "One Second Everyday", then made a compilation of it...

Food Consumed (7 hours, 3 people):
Some of these were large amounts, some were just bits and pieces...
steak sandwich
Corn dog
Cream puff
Maple candy
Maple Cotton candy
housemade spiral chips with chili & cheese
Cider donut
Milk shake
Funnel cake well sugared
Diet coke
Pork and beans parfait
Corn On Cob with Sriracha
Fried (!) Martini
Kettle popcorn
Eclipse happening now! I love things that remind me of the clockwork mechanism of the solar system-- it took me decades to notice that, when you can see the partial moon (in particular in the day time) it's kind of like a rounded arrow head pointing towards the sun....
I just realized... for a while I've known that maybe one reason I don't like "white text on black" is my (mildish) astigmatism... it makes it hard to focus, because of how the iris has to open up. And that same reasoning might explain why I the detail of the moon seems particularly hard to make out at night.

September 28, 2015


September 29, 2015

Reminds me of how one of the reasons I'll dread giving up my 2004 Scion when it comes time is that it's such a great steering wheel percussion instrument... great bass thump, nice snare, and a good percussive scratch along the side.

September 30, 2015

Ah, the New American Exceptionalism. Every developed nation has its conservatives, only ours deny climate science.
http://gazettegalore.blogspot.com/ - My COMPUTE!'s Gazette blog finally got to my all time favorite, Crossroads! Definitely worth checking out for any fan of games on the system

(To celebrate I'm going to start providing direct disk images for the games I call 4 or 5 star...)

2015 September❮❮prevnext❯❯