2015 December❮❮prevnext❯❯

December 1, 2015


advent day 1

December 2, 2015


advent day 2

Looking at the book "Full Catastrophe Living", about mindfulness and meditation.

Folks who have some kind of meditation practice, or have embraced this stuff in general, I have a question...

So I can think of around 4 states of mind I could have during meditation, or even just in general
1. Blank
2. Weirdly detailed study of the immediate surroundings and/or body
3. pleasantly wandering
4. fretfully wandering

No of these, I'd only know for sure that 4 is discouraged.

In general I assume 1 and 2 are more promoted, though in at least one session, 3 seemed to not be discouraged. And I dug that, I think purposeful tangential musing is a pleasure I indulge in too rarely.

Anyway, which do you think most practices of mindfulness would have us aspire to? Of course the "Blank" is kind of interesting when applied to what's going on as we do another activity... sometimes it can be mean "so focused we're totally into what we're doing at the moment" and other times "so unfocused that we're just letting the subconscious processes run the show and are mindless rather than mindful"
If videogames were just meant to inject the greatest enjoyment at the lowest cost per unit, they would just be inefficient, unintuitive narcotics.
Ian Bogost

An oddly large amount of "spoken word" last month along with the usual abundance of tuba music- sometimes it almost seems to tell a story
Highlights include Cora saying "Car" on the 7th (which was my first word, actually), a boogying bee on the 9th, slow mo jenga on the 12th... a journey to a family funeral and Montreal included as well.

on the internet of things
From my dev blog, thoughts about a future with a ton of smart devices....

December 3, 2015


advent day 3

Three from Joshua Allen's "The House of Wigs":
Connecticut: an "ill-advied and unnecessary state."
But anyway my favorite part of ["The Greatest Love of All"] -- everybody's favorite, probably--is "I believe the children are our future," because of the "are our" part which echoes the haunting cry of the harbor seal and kind of adds a seaside vibe to the whole thing.
What if you wrapped a granola bar in a slice of mozzarella cheese. Would that taste good. Would it constitute an actual meal.

Jar-Jar, the "Drunken Master" and mastermind behind the rise of the Empire...
Probably the weirdest thing about my mustache... I must have some odd neural crosswiring, if I touch the whiskers gently, often I feel it in my eyelashes.

november 2015 new music playlist

Music I added to my collection last month, 4-stars in red.

advent day 4

"Show Your Work". I think I do that too much when I write: it's not enough to state what I believe, but why I believe it, because I have this subconscious fear that at any moment I might be held to account for it, and being Wrong is kind of Sin.

But in truth, no one (or at least a small select) gives a damn. The indifference of the universe is at once utterly disheartening and rather freeing.

"The winds blew and the clouds moved on as if they were oblivious to their mortal plight." <- best video game quote ever.
With a presumed life span of over 500 years, it's safe to say that every plastic bottle you have used exists somewhere on this planet, in some form or another.

after ordering a nice cheap pair of gloves from Amazon, I wonder what it will be like for kids who witness their parents doing this... I mean money and the worlds of commerce are already kind of mysterious for kids, I think-- witnessing parents who type at a computer and then two days later or so stuff just shows up on the doorstep... That's kind of weird!

December 5, 2015


advent day 5

December 6, 2015


advent day 6

December 7, 2015


advent day 7

Turns out the most valuable thing you gain from making something is the experience of making it. You can use that experience to make more, better things, and whether you're looking for a creative career or just the emotional fulfillment of making something awesome, you're further down the road now than you were then.

December 8, 2015


advent day 8

http://toyland.gizmodo.com/a-music-box-is-secretly-an-engineering-marvel-1746834514 here's why I keep giving music boxes to Cora
School of Honk fundraiser - look for me around 2:49. I need to look less casual sometimes!

The Power of Books! Man, I remember reading the most random stuff from my folks shelves. Of course later I was especially interested in anything that hinted like it could be prurient content...
Also, I love this portrait of the tired King:

But life is not invented for happiness, I do believe. It is made for something else.
King Arthur, T.H.White's "The Book of Merlyn"

December 9, 2015


advent day 9

"We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness.
We are monkeys with money and guns."
Tom Waits

December 10, 2015


advent day 10

Red Line train travels multiple stops without operator Wow... I generally have a lot of love for the Red Line (possibly Stockholm Syndrome) and think people pile too much on a organization that is horribly underfunded and coping with aging infrastructure... but between this and the 2 people getting hit lately, things are a bit crazy.

December 11, 2015


advent day 11

Beginning of the End for Giant Glass? I would be kind of bummed if Giant Glass fell - including that jingle (why do I not mind it when 1-877-Kars-4-Kids unfailingly causes me to angrily stab for the radio dial? Maybe horns vs guitar?)

Fun fact: Giant Glass was named after the football team. Don't hold that against them though - that was before the Patriots. Hell, even my Waltham-based granddad liked the Giants then.
Yesterday I learned that Scheiny (nee "Beauty"), my lovely Holton Collegiate Sousaphone, has a serial number that dates it to 1954...

New Airplane Seating with a View More for the "I Wish I Was Insanely Rich" file.
glad I looked up from my book

December 12, 2015


advent day 12

"Please do not cling to meanings in this case."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Or as Slate puts it, Putin Has Now Offiically Declared War on Meaning...

December 13, 2015


advent day 13

today's game is one of the better playing ones, I think (yesterday's was probably way too difficult). If I was thinking more clearly "enemy mine" or "mine enemy" would have been a better name.
Melissa took this photo of my tuba in its Christmas lights doing Honk carolling Saturday night...

December 14, 2015


advent day 14

your body is mortal, and by the time you die, you'll be glad to be rid of it.

Sunglasses Can Make You Happier TLDR: there's a feedback loop where having a happy or sad expression makes you feel that way for reals, squinting is associated with being unhappy, ergo, sunglasses can prevent that loop. I KNEW IT. I just feel so much more relaxed with 'em.
Star Wars as postmodern montage...

December 15, 2015


advent day 15

Tonight we had our last UU Covenant Group of the season/year, and I'm given my participation a rest, at least for a while.

Covenant groups are a special type of discussion group some UU churches run... they meet on a monthly basis, and often have a "check in", a reading, and then a go-round and discussion. I've been participating in my group for about a decade! And led it for maybe half of that (sometimes in a co-leader role) so letting go is a tough thing for me.

And appropriately, the final topic (as picked by one of the leaders of the other groups) was "Change". Purposeful change can be difficult for me, because it feels like it has to be either A. a refutation of my past self ("boy what was I thinking? good thing I'm so much smarter now") or B. Just a bad idea in general. (But of course, this is symptomatic of the all too human tendency to try to squish the grand diversity of life into a single spectrum of better/worse, and so be unable accept "different: better in some regards, worse in others".)

Several people in my group had a negative reaction to tonight's opening reading/quote:
We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.
C. JoyBell C.
I was thinking about why that seems so problematic. Some of it is it's just insulting to one's personal history, like too much embracing of that "refutation of my past self" -- oh, stop digging here and start digging there - there's probably a whole gold mine right there you've just been too afraid to dig there, or stupid, or something.

So why is that gold mine so unlikely?

There's a kind of parody rap artist called MC Hawking, using a copy of physicist Stephen Hawking's electronic voice something to deliver science-related hiphop. His song entropy Entropy has this verse:
You ever drop an egg and on the floor you see it break?
You go and get a mop so you can clean up your mistake.
But did you ever stop to ponder why we know it's true,
if you drop a broken egg you will not get an egg that's new.
And why is that? The answer is entropy - I'm not qualified to explain it well, but the whole egg has more order; and in general, you have to put energy into something in order to counteract the tendency towards disorder and randomness.

And that's what the JoyBell quote is leaving out: all sorts of change IS possible- and it's important to remember that. But almost every change represents some kind of tradeoff, some kind of sacrifice: if anything was an obvious no-strings-attached win, we'd have been doing that already. But all these changes reflect some kind of sacrifice, some kind of cost. Which isn't saying net improvement isn't possible - but - the entropic universe being what it is - it will absolutely take the mindful application of effort and energy.

December 16, 2015


advent day 16

I'm thinking of giving http://kirk.is/ (still my system of record) a makeover. Trying to think of bloglike things I'd roughly like it to look like; so far my best bet is http://kottke.org/

Some the big ideas are get rid of the sidebar except for a few important links, and stop drawing boxes around everything.
Any other blog sites people find particularly attractive?

December 17, 2015


advent day 17

How satisfying is it to see your book prominently placed on the counter of the comics shop you've been frequenting for decades? ( The Million Year Picnic )

Is it perverse to be critiquing 30 year old computer menus?

At Saturday's big Climate, Justice, Jobs rally, JP Honkers Chet and Sandie...

Oh man Stop and Shop has a lot of types of Progresso soups @ $1 down from the usual $3... I'm stocking up for winter like a hoarder!

December 18, 2015


advent day 18

The purpose of gameplay is to hide secrets.
The Arcane Kids, via Nick Suttner's bossfight book about "Shadow of the Colossus".
I find the idea immensely thought provoking. Like David Gelernter's "Beauty = simplicity + power" formulation, at first blush it seems too simplistic, and leaving out swaths of human experience, but I feel like most of that experience could be shoehorned into a loose reading of the definition.

December 19, 2015

Man I was all chuffed about getting back into the habit of Boston's two main public radio stations instead of Boston's two main sports radio stations, but at 11 AM Saturday options seem to be "Zombie Car Talk" or "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (Again)"

advent day 19

December 20, 2015


advent day 20

December 21, 2015


advent day 21

#schoolofhonk low brass sectional

A video posted by David Wedaman (@grainger_d) on

(School of Honk Low Brass Sectional... tubas doing this great chromatic ascending riff in "Uptown Funk")
Steve Harvey and Miss Universe, meet "Elderly Jewish Retirees for Pat Buchanan"; design layout really can make a difference.

December 22, 2015


advent day 22

Ted Cruz, looking like a more-weaslish Nathan-Lane, has some of the savviest and most daring PR/campaign stuff we've seen... from the crude photoshop of him as a gangster, to that almost-self-parody like tv spot - there's a winking, almost hip, knowigness to it all that's lacking on the democratic side.

Some of it looks to spring from the candidate himself; between his half-assed Yoda and Darth impressions to his more impressive re-enactment of Billy Crystal in Princess Bride, there's a kind of media aware hipster-geek vibe that may resonate with the swing youth vote in a way Hillary won't.

The safest bet for the Democrats would be a block-splitting third party run of Trump; (they say Hillary stacks up pretty well against him if he were to get the nomination as well) --- without that, Trump has said enough extreme things and gathered so much attention for himself that he makes the Cruz Rubio et al sound more sane.
The cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears, or the sea.
Isak Dinesen

December 23, 2015


advent day 23

December 24, 2015


advent day 24

Gas for $1.68. Kind of obscene. To quote Vonnegut, "Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum."

Y'know iPhone's panorama can be really nice

December 25, 2015


advent christmas day

Messing around with a new logotype for http://kirk.is/ - I think I like the third one best... am thinking about making the "graph paper" background stretch at top across whole screen and then putting logotype on it, line up with the "graph paper", but over the content which will probably be fixed-width + centered.

It's fun teaching a computer to do the kind of graph paper font work I'd tool around with in high school. (See also "trifontula" http://kirk.is/2007/07/20/ ) In this case it would have been a lot easier had I not wanted to let the "graph paper" shine through.

Any suggestions?

December 26, 2015

And this kind of association is not confined to men; in animals also it is very strong. A horse which has been often driven along a certain road resists the attempt to drive him in a different direction. Domestic animals expect food when they see the person who feeds them. We know that all these rather crude expectations of uniformity are liable to be misleading. The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.
Bertrand Russell

Christmas is an endless fountain of cookies.
Nick Bensema‚Äč

December 27, 2015

The new look and feel of kirk.is! Still a little bit of a work in progress...
Post from the Future! Using the wayback machine here are some snapshots about the look and feel of my blog:




December 28, 2015

Oh man, did not realize Bill Murray's Nick the Lounge Singer covered 2001 as well as Star Wars!

December 29, 2015

We're in the exact point of climate change as when wile e. coyote runs off the cliff but hasn't looked down yet

I'm sure if we had poets, they'd be writing about the swallowing of Miami Beach by the sea.
Sometimes I think my folks are bummed that I seemed disinclined to hold on to their retirement home (and the summer and holidays getaway spot for us for many years) on the Jersey Shore once they don't need it, but with geologists like Hal Wanless saying "Many geologists, we're looking at the possibility of a ten-to-thirty-foot range by the end of the century" my reticence isn't just a lack of sentimentality.
Co-opted characters, but I like the line...

James Harvey has been posting some cool stuff about design in sci-fi movies. It reminded me of how much I love the design work in the Wipeout series. Maybe because it's based on parts simple enough that it has the "I could do that, maybe" flair.

December 30, 2015

Options for playing iTunes music on Android. Wow. Surprised to see one of the things keeping me in iOS land (my music, which I like to keep locally, ideally with certain smart "most recently added" playlists) is actually still a legitimate problem.
SPOILER: "On Wednesday, the North Pole will be warmer than Western Texas, Southern California, and parts of the Sahara"

Good god. Climate change denialists: please, please re-examine your ways of getting information about how the world works.
Wow, today marks 15 years of daily blogging. At this moment the oddest part of that for me (in the usual 'wow, time can slips by in odd little ways' way) is that for over half of it I've been using the smaller, "of the Moments" feature. This started as an easy way for me to mirror what I was writing on twitter (i.e. quick one liners) but has evolved to be the primary way I update the site on a daily basis - in fact next up on my site improvement list is improving that so that multiline updates are less of a hack.
Nice poem, Acceptance Speech by David Yezzi

December 31, 2015

Remember last day to repost: "I wish people would stop asking me where I see myself in five years... I don't have 2020 vision"
By the way: I love Tom Brady. I love watching him play, and I love how everybody hates him and how he just keeps destroying everyone regardless. But as a general rule: If you have a picture of Tom Brady in your Twitter avatar, you're almost certainly a Nazi.
Will Leitch.
The first part of the article, No One Cares If You Lie, brings up some important points about the fact-proof nature of political discourse. When Al Franken wrote "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" I wasn't expecting said liars to do such a job of OWNING that...
I kind of wish Jon Mooallem's tale of the Puritans slaughtering Thomas Granger and all his "lovers" for bestiality (in August 2015 Wired) in response to a man who wrote for advice on his swearing too much coworkers, and then saying, sorry guy, the swearers are the puritans in this example, watch out for the mob, was online somewhere...

2015 December❮❮prevnext❯❯