2017 June❮❮prevnext❯❯

June 1, 2017

Experimenting with doing One Second Everyday by 3-month Season rather than month-- so this goes back to the snow in March, hits HONK!TX, gets lots of band stuff in, and that week of being under the weather...

(feedback welcome about 1:30 of a season vs releasing 3 30 second months...)
Who doesn't like the Paris Climate Accord? Syria, Nicaragua (who doesn't think it goes far enough) and Republicans.

I'd feel bad about that kind of divisive simplification, but you can actually watch the Republicans do an about-face over the past ten years in this video - they used to sound almost reasonable on it, then they decided to make it a political football.

Followup: GOP rep: If climate change is real, God will 'take care of it'. Didn't he hear that old joke about the guy in the flood who passes up being rescued by a rowboat a motorboat and a helicopter saying 'god will provide' and then God points out he had sent a rowboat a motorboat and a helicopter?

Pierre Buttin Brutalist UI Redesigns...

I kind of love some of these. It reminds me of the same problem I have quantifying what exactly makes an old website look old.

may 2017 new music playlist

First off, you have to see this Betty Boop cartoon starring a rotoscoped Cab Calloway as Koko the Clown: Anyway, music I added to my playist last month, in rough descending order of "you should hear this", 4 star stuff in red.
I sort of love the the new version of Javascript uses "let"... reminds me of old school BASIC.

best photos of 2016

Realized I hadn't done a "best of" photoset for 2016... (though the Malaysia trip had its own best of and second best of)

I suspect my dedication to "One Second Everyday" taps some of my still photography mojo.

Open Photo Gallery

Aunt Susan and Cora

I think other people like this shot more than I do. I'm really not in need of sweaterly consolation, just posing.

My boot, at a Bread and Puppet rehearsal at Mass College of Art.

HONK!TX, at it again with the white vans

Also from HONK!TX - another blurred shot but I love the camaraderie.

I forgot it at the time but now I love the mellow colors of this turkey and window shot.

Melissa parasailing over Ocean Grove New Jersey

You don't have to go far from home for good goofy selfie.

Cora at my unbirthday

Batu Cave in Malaysia... probably the most strking shot of the trip.

One of our best tourist selfies ever.

Melancholy Malaysian Monkey

second best photos of 2016

Second Best Photos of 2016 - though to be honest I think some of these might be better than some of the "Best" I posted yesterday...

Open Photo Gallery

At the Charles Riverfest


Chet at JP Honk practice

Shot of Kristin as I fooled around with my "good camera" at a double birthday party...

My old apartment building felt armor clad when it was having insulation added

Once in a photography class this woman (with a great Irish accent) commented on my phtos "ya like boogs, doncha?" Not sure why I tried to deny it.

Bird drinking from the sky.

A pier in George Town in Penang.

I snuck a photo on my way to comics writing class because I liked how these folks clothing was paired, but then realized they were probably having some kind of sad breakup

gimmicky photo in Dublin

Flooded street outside of Aeronaut Brewery.

More casual times.

via @chapien who calls it the Tumblr Thread to End All Tumblr Threads

runner up best photos of 2016

The runner ups for best of 2016... (hmm is that 'third best of 2016?')

Open Photo Gallery


Wall in Austin during HONK!TX

Sunset over Lake Winnipesaukee

Built Benny's Spaceship Spaceship SPACESHIP with Melissa.

Not positive where I took this

In a Malaysian Temple.

Loved the Spock from the old Jumptap/Millennial Media/AOL days.

Outside the Batu Cave.


Art at Fort Point Bridge

Mop at an Arlington Church

Kristin in shades.

To feel that life is meaningless unless 'I' can be permanent is like having fallen desperately in love with an inch.
Alan W. Watts, "The Wisdom of Insecurity"

June 6, 2017

Monobloc: the white plastic chairs taking over the world.
The ultimate Title Drops collection...

June 7, 2017

Female gladiators were often topless and not in fancy armor, from Quora: Has there ever been truths removed from movies for being too unrealistic?

I'm currently re-reading "Consciousness Explained" by Daniel Dennett... it was a big influence when I first read it 15 years ago, and I cite it in So You're Going to Die. Anyway, here is a pretty good New Yorker piece about him and his point of view.

June 8, 2017

Speaking of Dennett, SMBC had a hot take on his flavor of compatibilism (i.e. how does the idea of free will in a universe that seems governed by the laws of cause and effect even work)
"I hope you can let this go."

June 9, 2017


June 10, 2017

BABAM! with Senator Elizabeth Warren...

June 11, 2017

Elizabeth Warren Pride Parade Video - BABAM! is playing in the background and then there's a shot of the band (with me bopping along with the weird left-hand style I sometimes use) at 0:39
I LOVE the Boston Pride Parade

I LOVE the Boston Pride Parade. It shows our Commonwealth and our country at its best.

Posted by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Sunday, June 11, 2017

RIP Adam West...

The atoms that make up my body aren't mine, it's just my time to use them.
I guess I still prefer Avatar's "all energy is only borrowed, and one day you have to give it back"

Blender of Love

June 12, 2017

Are you afraid of the task? Why? Does it have a knife pointed at you? No. You're afraid you'll do a lousy job. Well, you're gonna do an even worse job if you don't get started.
I always dig reminders of stoicism. Also, that is a great weekly email newsletter.
Leaving this here for anyone who thinks a one sentence short story can't break your heart: Tiny Jumping Spiders Can See the Moon
Joey Comeau

June 13, 2017

There's really no middle ground with you. Either you don't care at all, or you care 100-and-crazy-percent.
Linda on "Better Off Ted"
(I've used (as recently as yesterday) another line from the same episode as a hint to transition back when a corporate chatroom conversation or in person office bit of goofballery has gone off the rails: "Meanwhile, back in a place of business...")

June 14, 2017


--François Schuiten, via White Space Conflict tumblr with more examples

June 15, 2017

Just found this dinosaurs "Everything's Going to be OK" comic in a folder I had forgotten about, of scans of old office decorations... I think from an ancient copy of "Funny Times"

I like it better than This Is Fine Dog which stresses me out tbh.
Quotes from Dan Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" - I just reread this book, one that I've considered most critical to my understanding of my own sense of self...
If the resolution of our vision were as poor as the resolution of our olfaction, when a bird flew overhead the sky would *go all birdish* for us for a while.
The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain anymore, so it eats it! (It's rather like getting tenure.)
(paraphrase of neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinás.)
Consciousness is gappy and sparse, and doesn't contain half of what people think is there!
We speak, not only to tell others what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think.
J. Hughlings Jackson
How can I tell what I think until I see what I say?
Before my teacher came to me, I did not know that I am. I lived in a world that was a no-world. I cannot hope to describe adequately that unconscious, yet conscious time of nothingness.... Since I had no power of thought, I did not compare one mental state with another.
Helen Keller
Sometimes I am, sometimes I think.
Paul Valéry

June 16, 2017

Diane sent me this brilliant book by one her neighbors: Bull by David Elliott- it's billed a "novel" but its form is a series of poems retelling the myth of the Minotaur, and would easily make a great dramatic reading, since each speaker has a distinct voice and meter. Great stuff that captures both the humanity and the grandeur of the old myths.

June 17, 2017


June 18, 2017

Panorama, waiting for Kellie (and Anna) at Kellie's Surprise Party...

It was true I always had trouble listening and remembering, trouble hearing people when they explained simple facts to me. When I read, my head seemed to go diagonal, and I swore I saw things in the sentences--not what I was supposed to see. When I read the words "moonlit swim," I saw the moonlight slicked all over the bare skin. The word "sunshine" had a washed look, with the sweep of a rag in the middle of it. The word "violinist" was a fig cut in half. "String quartet" was a cat's cradle held between two hands. "Penniless" was an empty copper outline and "prettiness" seemed to glitter. "Calamity" was alarm bells, and in "aristocrat" there was the sharp triangle of a cravat, and in "sea serpent" one loop of the green muscle. It was as if I could read the surfaces of words, and their real hearts, but not their information. Even "word" had a picture--I saw a blond hostess in a spangled dress turning black and white letters over one by one. When I read, the meaning swam and the images leaped out and the words gave up their doubles. When I wrote, the same thing happened with the paper.
Patricia Lockwood's "Priestdaddy"
The book is memoirs of the poet, taking its name from her father's situation, who via an odd loophole of priestly conversion was a married-with-children Catholic Priest. Funny and sometimes heartbreaking I'd recommend it. I liked this passage, kind of a synesthesia of words.

June 19, 2017

I took this photo of Cora a week ago... just realized the light in it is a little odd, like she's being the sun is in two places making a cradle for her head... I guess maybe it's the reflection off the water?

Melissa points out that the first minute of this just about perfectly describes my relationship with cooking:

June 20, 2017

The Museum of Failure.

Failure starts early on, when you break something as a kid, nobody goes 'yay [claps] good for you, you're learning about your environment', so failure is something that gets internalized quite quickly as something negative. We deal with failure and other painful sort of memories by ignoring them. Same way that the companies do... they fail with the product, and instead of learning from their failure they move on to the next big thing.
Dr. Samuel West

With self driving cars becoming more popular it's just a matter of time before country songs include their truck leaving them too

June 21, 2017

Wrote this on my devblog the other day, a tribute to the artists behind SimTunes and the core of Magic Pengel, reposting it here:

I've always liked software that let the user make something - from Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set to the make-a-game fun without programming Klik N' Play, there have been some great examples of that over the years.

I want to write briefly about two creators, Toshio Iwai and Takeo Igarashi both of who made original UIs letting users exercise their creativity. Each creator's work was then used in separate commercial products in the 90s and 00s, products that deserve more recognition than they get.

Toshio Iwai is a multimedia artist. He may be best known for Electroplankton, a fairly early but very limited release for the Nintendo DS- his name appears on the packaging for it, an unusual-for-Nintendo recognition of singular artistic creation.

Electroplankton is not quite a game, not quite an instrument... it consists of ten different interfaces for making music and sounds of various types...

This was not Iwai's first multi-part collaboration with Nintendo - that would be the 4-part Sound Fantasy. One of those parts was based on his earlier work Musical Insects. This concept, 4 musical bugs, each one playing a different instrument that sounded at various pitches as the bug waddled over different colored tiles laid out on a blank canvas, got parlayed by Maxis into a nifty package called SimTunes. I guess this trailer gives you the overview about as well as anything:

This program was a terrific and playful mini-sequencer and paint program. Kids and Adults could focus on the sound, the look, or both. Just out of college, I remember setting it up with versions of Groove is in the Heart and "Alphabetter", a replacement for the alphabet song that I hope catches on but I'm sure never will. I appreciated that it had different palettes - for example, limiting the painted notes to a specific scale or modality, such as my favorite "Blues Scale" and an aspiring kid or adult could easily apply music theory they had or learn something new.

More recently Iwai collaborated with Yamaha to make the Tenori-On, a sequencer grid of lights. (I was almost ashamed at using a ThinkGeek knock off called the Bliptronic 5000, 'til I realized it was about 1/10 the price... and about 1/10 the functionality, but still.) I also found this overview of his art installations.

Takeo Igarashi seems to be more of a computer scientist than an artist, but his UI implementations are at least as impressive.  His academic homepage is of the ancient variety, and sadly most of his demos are a serious pain to get running in this day and age where Java on the desktop is all but forgotten. Still, his Smooth Teddy interface is remarkable; the user draws basic 2D shapes that then get rendered into 3D shapes.

The most straight forward descendent of the "Smooth Teddy" family is MagicalSketch 3D for iOS, a somewhat pricey (by app standards) tool, but one that promises to be an easy path to modeling for 3D print. (I haven't played much with Microsoft's "Paint 3D" but I think they would be well-served licensing out the core model.)

The finest rendition of this concept, however, is Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color for the Playstation 2. I feel it's a shame it didn't go by a more direct translation of its Japanese name, "Doodle Kingdom", because this project (a joint production with some collaboration from Studio Ghibli (of "My Neighbor Tortoro" and "Spirited Away" fame) deserves more attention than it ever got. (A "Pengel" is a Pen-Angel, I think a little helper sprite in the game. I'm not sure to whom they were trying to market with a name like that.)

Because not only can you doodle in 3D - your creations come to surprisingly charming life. Here's a Let's Play of it:

The editor works by letting you indicate what you're drawing (body, arm, wing, etc) - this knowledge is then incorporated to inform various animations (Walk, Tackle, Jump, Dance, etc) and the effect can be stunning- here's what a talented artist can make with its editor:

It's so delightful to sketch something out and then have it frolic around the "practice field".

Unfortunately, the game is horribly marred by ... well, too much game-ness. In some ways the body you construct doesn't do much to determine how your creation interacts with its virtual physical universe, it's just raw numeric material for a probability based monster battler ala Pokemon, with Rock-Paper-Scissors type strengths and weaknesses. Also, they limit the amount of "ink" you have to draw lines with, and then make the game about fighting monsters so you can get more ink to make your own creations that much more powerful, rather than creative.

There was a semi-sequel for the Game Cube called Amazing Island and one for the PS2 called Graffiti Kingdom. I remember getting absolutely stuck early on in Amazing Island and some utterly crap minigame, and if memory serves, Graffiti Kingdom tried to codify its editor too much, and lost much of the organic charm of the original.

Finally, I'd like to make one honorable mention for a game with a kind of brilliant editor built-in (though I don't believe there's a singular artistic vision behind it) - Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts + Bolts:

 This is by far the best "game" of everything I've talked about here - it starts with a gorgeous Mario 64-esque hub (looking like someone said "what if we ran all those pretty colors of the N64 into the kind of engine we can make today?)  with all these delightful themed subworlds, but each as if you can see the gears behind the walls work. Each subworld has multiple challenges that you build various vehicles to beat: cars, of course, but also boats and planes and flying balloons and sumo-karts etc. At first I thought all the creations were ugly and orthogonal-looking (VERY reminiscent of the old Capsela toys) but then the delight of making a car where the design really matters in a cartoon-physics kind of way takes over (and you can put on enough bolt-y bits to improve the look quite a lot.) And as you get more parts (there's that game-ness) you can go back and try for higher "medals", but the challenge level is generally well done, and the level of backtracking needed is negligible.

(And a small group of super-hard-core fans have really stretched the editor system to the limit, making these absurdly heavy jet-powered walking mechs in a game that was never meant to have any such thing...a joy to behold.)

Anyway, I love stuff like this, making a easy enough for a beginner but rich and engrossing enough to reward continued play (rather than a quick doodle and a "meh") is a tremendous feat. (Though I did once get a few people digging my own online Jack-O-Lantern maker) Both of these people and their works (and Banjo-Kazooie) deserve much admiration.

June 22, 2017

Was hacking on Porchfest maps late at night when Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"... great breakup song. But I was suddenly really struck by "felt so lonely in your company"... it's a feeling I'm sensitive about having provoked in relationships in the past and try to be on the watch for now... but just now it hits me that maybe 'cause I was an only child (whose family got moved every couple of years) it's something I can only be sympathetic to, not empathetic; only kids are often ok with just their own company, and while connecting deeply with someone is rewarding and important, there's a... not independence, but lack of dependence... self-sufficiency, I guess... that's hard to shake, and so reading loneliness in others, even people we're close to, requires a lot of focus, because it's not written in our native language.

(On facebook Johnny from Portugal commented " I'm an only child and l can spot it very fast, so maybe it's a mixture between being an only child and the way our own personality is structured?", I wrote her back " yeah, I hope it's a mix. Not just me looking for an excuse to say 'hey I'm not JUST self absorbed.' -- Also when I'm playing armchair self-analysist, it might have been synergized with the loss of my dad when I was young, the idea of not really counting on anyone else.)
The pet of the future?

June 23, 2017

Jeremy Penner has started a podcast about hyper-indie games, the art of the small, personal game project and the communities that support them... and I was his first interview, talking about my perennial mashup JoustPong, but ranging from programming home computers in the 1980s to online things like Processing now.

We talked a while back, and I was worried I would find my own voice unlistenable now, but it's not as awful as I had feared. It's kind of weird that I slip into the cadence that I can now recognize from some podcasts I listen to, even though I just started listening to them in general.

via I Want This 1923 Prediction For the American City of the Future To Be Real


June 24, 2017

Jim Coudal describes this as : "Poetry, in data":

Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching.
Fran Lebowitz

June 25, 2017

I'm looking over
My dead dog Rover
Who I overran with the mower...
One leg is missing
The other one's gone
The third is in pieces
All across the front lawn-
No use explaining
The one remaining
It's stuck to the kitchen door!
I'm looking over
my dead dog Rover
Who I overran with the mower...
Man, hadn't thought of that camp song for ages 'til I was at Cora's dance recital today and one of the groups used the more traditional "4 Leaf Clover" version.

June 26, 2017

Ugh, Ticks. Reminds me why I hate nature.
Beanbender's beer was nothing like the stuff in cans that my father drinks. It had a nutty taste, and it was cold and good. The guy at the bar was Ben Beanbender, the owner of the beer garden. He didn't ask us for identification or anything. He just filled mugs from a big barrel and handed them to us. I also got a baked potato. Ben Beanbender poked a hole in one end with his thumb, slapped in a hunk of butter, salted and peppered the potato, wrapped it in a napkin, and handed it to me. It was great! The potato was almost too hot to hold, and the salty butter dribbled onto my sleeve. It tasted just fantastic with the beer. The beer and the baked potato cost fifty cents. It's the best deal in Baconburg.
Daniel Pinkwater, from "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death".
For some reason this passage, (set in a venue inside Tintown, Baconburg's hidden underground city) has stuck with me. (I remember Mo being obsessed with this book, and delighted we managed to scrape up a copy in the late 90s. It's a great YA read.)
It used to be harder to scrape up books. This one is now a $3 Kindle book, but they must have lost the rights to the great cover art of the original...

Trumps Lies, an interactive. Yeesh.

June 27, 2017

Hahaha, Trump Golf Clubs sport fake TIME magazine covers. So awesome that this blowhard has the same quality Fake News magazine covers that the rest of us plebs could only buy during amusement park visits. Seems like sucking up ("TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS...EVEN TV!" AND "The 'Apprentice' is a television smash!") is the way Trump likes to be dealt with.

June 28, 2017

I'm grateful that our new place has a dishwasher... but damn the Finnish habit of putting drying racks OVER the sink hits my "why didn't that ever occur to me?" hard.

Heather's adventures in Spain indicate that it's suboptimal for less tall people and also precludes a nice window-behind-sink. BUT STILL.
Arkansas Man Topples Ten Commandments Monument.

June 29, 2017


"I guess it must be capable of it," Laney said, as something under her seat began to clang, loudly and insistently. "But I don't think that means it'll necessarily happen. What the hell is *that*?"

"I'm exceeding the speed limit," [Arleigh] said. "Every vehicle in Japan is legally required to be equipped with one of these devices. You speed, it dings."

Laney turned to Yamazaki. "Is that true?"

"Of course," Yamazaki said, over the steady clanging.

"And people don't just disconnect them?"

"No," Yamazaki said, looking puzzled. "Why would they?"
William GIbson, "Idoru".
This passage has stuck with me, kind of a meditation on cultural differences.

June 30, 2017

As you've probably been made aware, it's the 10th Anniversary of the iPhone going on sale.

I was a first week early adopter (I accidentally drowned my Palm device and cellphone kayaking on July 4th, and the timing seemed fortuitous.)

Slashdot's Coverage (speaking of things that may also seem like history) linked to John "Daring Fireball" Gruber's iPhone First Impressions.

As he mentions, probably the biggest lack in the first device (other than, arguably, the app store) was copy and paste. That was an interesting choice to punt on, to let it wait until a future generation of the product could get it right...

One of the biggest "WOW" factors though was the web browser- especially the scrolling which he describes as:
Real-time dragging is such a priority that if the iPhone can't keep up and render what you're dragging in real-time, it won't even try, and you get a checkerboard pattern reminiscent of a transparent Photoshop layer until it catches up (typically, an instant later). I.e. iPhone prioritizes drag animation over the rendering of the contents; feel over appearance.
As the hardware has improved I haven't seen that checkerboard in a while, but yeah- it felt SO GOOD, the perfect compliment to how the capacitive touch screen was allowing much more vibrant finger interaction than the stylus-or-fingernail screens that came before it.

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