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December 1, 2019


november 2019 new music playlist

What A Five-Star song???

Whole Lotta Funk (Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars vs. Led Zeppelin)
DJs From Mars
Fun mashup.
For some reason I've been stockpiling old Best of Booties.

Hypnotize Mama (Notorious B.I.G. vs. David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack)
DJ Schmolli
Hiphop mash.
For some reason I've been stockpiling old Best of Booties.

Tempo (feat. Missy Elliott)
Excellent hiphop. Wish I could roll my Rs.
Caught this on some random tweet.
Track Suit Kopanitsa
Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band
"Track Suit" is a popular song in the HONK crowd- this mixes it East European hardcore.
My friend Dave B had a copy of the new ENSMB album when it was still upcoming, we listened to it on the way back from PRONK
Trombone Shorty
Instrumental, some sweet horns.
My young bandmante Ezequiel loves this song, we might try to work up an arrangement for our group.
Nicki Minaj
I think there's a Street Fighter backstory I'm missing here...
this page on Tik-Toks
Under the Milky Way
Very pretty and romantic song.
Reading up the back story of that old VW "Pink Moon" ad, originally they were thinking of the original version of this, but I liked this better than "The Church"'s original.
Once In a Lifetime
Talking Heads
Kind of a classic...
Saw David Byrne live recently! Realized I didn't have much of his older stuff.
Atheists Don't Have No Songs
Rocky Mountain Jewgrass
I think Steve Martin made up this song maybe? But I like this version better.
Found a reference to it doing Blog cleanup...

To Turn You On
Nataly Dawn & Ryan Lerman
This song moved me greatly when first hearing it... it just captures all the energy of every post-breakup person I've chased after.
- found doing backlog grooming
Holy Water
Struggle Jennings
Kinda redneck hiphop, and I think Jesus-y?
from the end credits of the season finale "What We Do in the Shadows"

Super Good
Russian song - Melissa look up the translation, about how many of his peers left the country but the singer stayed behind and is doing "Super Good"
From "What We Do in the Shadows" orgy episode end music ...
You Spin Me Round (feat. Silver Letomi)
The old How To Make A Blockbuster Movie Trailer had this song with "Introduce Unexpected Cover of a Classic Hit" (more specifically, 'creepy gal singing...' I'd say) - they released it as a single but honestly they left way too much movie trailer in it - a proper moody female vocal cover of "You Spin Me Round" would be awesome.
What More Can I Say
Angry hiphop.
Seeing Trever Noah live, this was his walk-on music.

Beautiful modern stuff.
Heard in a New Jersey Old Navy

They Don't Make Em Like Me
Pigeon John
I adore the Motown sound of this, combined with modern stuff
This was background music for a new RAZR phone ad
A Thousand Miles
Vanessa Carlton
What am I, a young woman in the early 2000s? Maybe.
Some random Youtube recommendation.

The Wire
Acoustically these folk are doing really interesting stuff, and the breakup theme, but from the breaker rather than breakee, is a good match to "To Turn You On" above.
This tweet: "What is the name for the mental disorder where you listen to The Wire by Haim five times in a row" --@bea_ker

As a liberal, do you agree with Donald Trump on anything at all? An interesting point about how Trump maybe has the benefit of challenging some of the presumptions of the global political status quo. Right now I'm reading "A Warning (by Anonymous)" and I think both that book and the Quora answerer also point out that- he does not study issues nearly deeply enough or listen to enough studied opinions for a person who wields as much power as he does.

Also, compared to the Neocons, he's less bellicose - GWB nostalgia is kind of weird given that whole Cheney Iraq trumped up thing.

(I am by no means a Trump supporter or fan, and I also recognize that focusing on his global political outlook is neglecting the damage he is doing to so many groups at home.)

To be an American is of itself almost a moral condition, an education, and a career.
George Santayana
via Eun Kim's "The Ying and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox", a turn of the millennium view of the USA from a Korean lens. (Found in a used bookstore in Maine)

photos of the month november 2019


Open Photo Gallery

December 4, 2019

Last night Melissa and I did Christmas decorating- my dad's old "folk art" minimalist tree (Melissa really sees my only-child nature in how many of my ornaments have my name imprinted...) and the more real-looking one she prefers, with lots of lights.

I realized I didn't have an appropriate holiday drink like a nog or anything so here is my new recipe:

King Santa's Beard:
Pour 1 or 2 shots of Crown Royal Whisky in a tumbler. Put a big dollop of spray whipped cream on top.

Universality and diversity in human song gets into some questions I've been thinking about; how much of our formal music system is universal, maybe tied into some mix of math and our shared neurobiology, and how much is just a cultural artifact?

FOLLOWUP: on FB Nick B reminded me of this:

And say simply, Very simply, With hope: 'Good morning.'
Maya Angelou

take good notes

One of my new favorite podcasts is John Green's Anthropocene Reviewed where each episode the author takes 2 arbitrary artifacts of humanity - or sometimes of the universe - talks about them, and then gives them a rating on a scale of up to 5 stars.

Recently he talked about the Apple Notes app... or rather, his use of having an ever-present note taking device at hand. Green says that before he would scribble into whatever book he had at hand, but the iPhone changed and collated his random thoughts - sometimes almost inscrutable when read years later.

(I kept a bit of a journal like that on my PalmPilot in the late 90s, but the energy for that evaporated when I started blogging (for the public stuff) and keeping a daily "mundane" journal (for the boring or private stuff))

Anyway, journals are some of my favorite writing to read, from Carrie Fisher to Andy Warhol to Lena Dunham, I really find it charming. John Good shared some of his in the podcast-

No bright line between imagination and memory.
is an important point but I love this most of all:
Driving alone at night is heartbreak without the agony.
What a perfect line! I think too of that feeling I recorded 13 years ago - "reclining in the car in silence at night after arriving home and turning off the car and the radio"

I was kind of hoping Green would get into some of the new version of Notes - the one you can get on an iPad, and use a high-rez stylus to take notes in handwriting but also with doodles and what not (it really has a distinctive UI) but it's not that kind of podcast, really.

I love to take in the good whenever I eat an orange. I have at least two a day, so I get an opportunity to experience this moment often. As I break through the skin, I gently close my eyes and breath in the sweet scent. I hold that pleasure in my mind and think about how I'm the first person ever to see inside this orange and taste its fruit. Although this experience takes less than a minute, it has an enormously positive effect on my mood and energy level. I look forward to it throughout the day.
Man quoted in "Hardwiring Happiness"
(repost from 2013)
kitty kitty dumdum on the hunt!

Sigh. I probably put too much faith in the calorie counts at restaurants... above is from Cosi's online PDF menu, below is a cropped photo of their menu board in person. 540 vs 260 is sort of a big deal if you're trying to run a tight ship calorie-wise.

I know I don't always make the wisest nutrition decisions when I'm playing the calorie game, but man, my capacity for self-deception is too vast and my inability to "be good" in an unmetered way too small to go without.

December 6, 2019

[Sing-song] Technically correct is the worst kind of correct
Kole Ross on the Watch Out for Fireballs podcast

December 7, 2019

Two things I love that I had forgotten about, unearthed in my old blog cleanup:
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
J.F. Sargent
In the beginning was the Plan
And then came the Assumptions
And the Assumptions were without form
And the Plan was completely without substance
And the Darkness was on the faces of the Employees
And they spoke unto their Supervisors saying
"It's a Crock of Shit and it Stinketh!"
And the Supervisors went unto their Department Heads and sayeth
"It's a Pail of Dung, and none may abide the Odor thereof."
And the Department Heads went unto their Managers, and sayeth unto them
"It is a Container of Excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."
And the Managers went unto their Director and sayeth
"It is a Vessel of Fertilizer, and none may abide its Strength."
And the Director went unto the Vice President and sayeth
"It contains that which aids Plant Growth, and it is very Strong."
And the Vice President went to the Executive Vice President and sayeth
"It promoteth Growth, and it is very Powerful."
And the Executive Vice President went to the President and sayeth
"This Powerful New Plan will actively promote the Growth and Efficiency of the System."
And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was Good
And the Plan became Policy
via rec.humor.funny.reruns.

I'm glad we figured out the kitty Dean is so easily enthralled by the "feathers at the end of a fishing-pole"-type teaser... trying to get him to play-hunt with toys that lacked feathers but were otherwise similar was kind of an uphill climb.

I've taken to listening to podcasts while playing hunt with him, which keeps me occupied so that the sessions are a bit longer. Though now I'm wondering about the idea that feather teasers are to Dean what podcasts are to Kirk...

I still wonder about how much cats understand it's a game - they of course live a bit closer to their instincts than folks, but still I don't think they're under too many illusions about the reality of the situation. Also, how tuckered out do cats get from this? Like it doesn't seem like an extended exercise session, but probably cats are built for sprints (after quiet and patient lurking)?

December 8, 2019

Hello from NOLA! Hearing Nutcracker Suite and Rudolph drift into the hotel room is a little odd given the general climate and newness of the city to us, sort of a "Die Hard is a Christmas Movie!" situation.

December 9, 2019


ship stretching is a real-life loony tune way of getting better use out of cruise ships...

NOLA first half

Melissa and I are about halfway done with our NOLA getaway... here are some photos splitting the difference between "documenting our trip" and "I like the way this photo came out" (so not showing all the food diary shots, I'm better at eating food than photographing it.)

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide
Found this quote I grabbed 16 years ago... it really summarizes an important aspect of my philosophy. There is an objective truth, and you should feel compelled to align yourself with it, but you can never be certain you're there, and an important part of both understanding both probability and empathy is to be respectful of other's view of it, so long as there is a good chance they are being sincere and not obviously cynically manipulated.

Heh, another relevant previously blogged quote form 5 years ago:
The universe of ideas is just as little independent of the nature of our experiences as clothes are of the form of the human body.
Albert Einstein

December 11, 2019

My favorite bit of new-to-me language use around NOLA: "it's been a minute"- a kind of rueful recognition of it actually having been a long while. I mentioned that that to our tour guide Butch yesterday, and he came back with "go to make groceries" where most other parts of the country would say "go to buy groceries"
Venture too far for love, she tells herself, and you renounce citizenship in the country you've made for yourself. You end up just sailing from port to port. Still, there is this sense of missed opportunity. Maybe there is nothing, ever, that can equal the recollection of having been young together. Maybe it's as simple as that. Richard was the person Clarissa loved at her most optimistic moment. [...] It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later, to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experience lay in a kiss and a walk, the anticipation of dinner and a book. [...] What lives undimmed in Clarissa's mind more than three decades later is a kiss at dusk on a patch of dead grass, and a walk around a pond as mosquitoes droned in the darkening air. There is still that singular perfection, and it's perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other.
The Hours, Michael Cunningham
Cultivate an awareness of the moments you might be having even now, people! Even if our once tender hearts are a bit scarred over, and so that we fear Cunningham was right and there 'will be no other', that we won't feel as deeply as we did in our youth- or that in our middle age, after we might not have so many decades to create focal length and see how meaningful a moment that was -- I think there's still time for moments.

(I'd also take the chance in stumbling over this old Cunningham quote to plug my old 24 Hour Comics Day work Of The Moments.)
Took Me Eleven Minutes to do That Thing I've Been Avoiding for Three Months: A Memoir

4 little somethings about nothing

  1. I've always loved the Edie Brickell song "Nothing", and how it plays with the concept of nothing as it's own thing and nothing as the lack of anything:
    Are you mad at me? Let it show
    Don't tell me nothing I don't wanna know
    There's nothing I hate more than nothing
    Nothing keeps me up at night
    I toss and turn over nothing
    Nothing could cause a great big fight
    Hey what's the matter?
    Don't tell me nothing.
  2. Lately I've been noticing the word "nothingburger". It's a pretty damning put down - tapping into the visceral need for sustenance but then pulling a bait and switch, leaving folks metaphorically chewing on air.
  3. Growing up with certain kinds of religiosity can cultivate a sense of personal nothingness that can be hard to shake. Ideally, yes, we are precious because of that spark of divinity God graced us each with, but you know, one's own finite nature divided by the infinite nature of God... that's about as close to zero, or nothing, as you can get. And I think that has had a negative synergy with my fixed mindset - it's hard to think of growth and development of nothing, there's no there there!
  4. Moving to cosmology - so why is there something rather than nothing? ( "And if there were nothing? You'd still be complaining!") My favorite theory scientists have is that nothingness is surprisingly unstable - at the quantum level particles are popping in and out of the nothingness all the time, and it might be they key to understanding the origin of the universe. Nature abhors a vacuum, but a vacuum kind of abhors itself, it turns out.

Dunno if it's weird to have a chip on my shoulder about being part of Generation X...
Doesn't feel like the most rigorous study - but this is why I tuba dance.

NOLA second half


A nice lagniappe - Kenneth Terry outside the Café du Monde

52 Things Tom Whitwell learned in 2019 - great stuff.

3 quote from The National WWII Museum

He was coughing something terrible. And he was splitting blood all over, his whole chest was covered. And I thought to myself, "Jeez. The worst is yet to come." Because see, he's gonna feel lonesome. Because when you die, you die by yourself. No matter what. Now, what can we do to help? So I reached over, and I grasped his hand and I gave it a squeeze to assure him that he was not alone. He acknowledged my presence by squeezing my hand. And then he died.
Lt. Stan Wolczyk
Stan Wolczyk was a platoon leader station on the American island of Attu off the coast of Alaska... I took this quote from a brief video "Comforting the Dead" at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. (He then talks about bracing for his own death after growing cold after being wounded in combat, but he survived.) Also, he originally hailed from Cleveland!
Lots of things wrong with America--but Hitler ain't gonna fix them.
Sgt. Joe Louis
I saw this magnificent man swim out and bring some people off the sinking ship and bring them back in to shore and to me he was the picture of heroic beauty.
Pfc. Walter Rosenblum describing the rescue efforts of Lt. Walter Sidlowski on D-Day+1
I think back to "A River Runs Through It" use of beauty... it's a shame about whatever cultural forces make its use in a masculine context stand out so much.
RIP Carol Spinney...

NOLA visit food gallery

I'm not usually a food glamour shot person but it seemed to make sense to do a log of the most interesting meals we ate in New Orleans... we tried to make our own food tour in terms of hitting most of New Orlean's most well-known specialties.

NOLA extra photos

My "first half/second half" galleries of our NOLA trip had more of an eye for the photos that worked well visually... these are photos that didn't make the cut but help tell the story of a lovely week, a story we might want to refresh our memories of later.
Fun "Best of" Video for my far and away favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, the street style teaching marching band that is School of Honk :-D

December 17, 2019

As a nation, I don't believe we pay enough attention to the fact that in "Rocky III" Rocky fought a character played by Hulk Hogan. And that that character was named "Thunderlips".
Winner of 2019 Optical Illusion of the Year:

It reminds me of this illusion, the Jail Cell from Superman II:

(the two tilted empty discs aren't nearly as amazing a special effect as they first look- they are locked together always touching at the same point, and then the whole shebang is rotating as one thing - I've seen a real life version of that with tires, quite a striking illusion!)

american politics as a contact sport

I think my fellow liberals need to listen more to moderate voices, when they can find them, even they disagree with them, or find what they say disagreeable. (UPDATE: but we always, always need to listen to the voices of the oppressed, and to progressives with good ideas about how to press to a better future for this country and humanity in general.)

I listen to the Sam Harris podcast, and there are a lot of things I don't agree with, and some that I do. But one podcast that has stuck with me was from February 2018, with Scottish historian Niall Ferguson - glancing at Ferguson's twitter these day I find plenty to disagree with (especially about Brexit) - but a few passages from his dialog with Harris have really struck with me over those 2 years (before the current Ukraine quid pro quo scandal, so the focus is on the then-ongoing Mueller report.)

I am almost surprised I was able to locate the bits (I didn't even remember Ferguson's name) but I think his longer-term perspective is useful today as the House votes to impeach:
The Republicans weren't exactly in a hurry for Nixon to fall, and only abandoned him when there was simply no way of refuting the evidence of obstruction of justice. I think it will be very similar this time around in that the big issue will be obstruction and the Republican party will stick with Trump until there is no way of being able to do that. If his approval rating stays in the 38-40% range, then they're not going to desert. They deserted Nixon when Nixon was in free fall. So let me make clear: this is not new territory for American politics. What should strike us is- its familiarity. And it wasn't just Nixon. With Reagan it was Iran-Contra, with Clinton we all know what the impeachment was about. This is how American politics is played, it's a contact sport.
(around 0:44)
So my paradoxical view is that liberalism will ultimately be the beneficiary of the Trump presidency and Conservatism will be the casualty. The question of impeachment I think should be seen in that light. By the time we get there, if we get there [...] we know from the experience of Clinton and also the Iran-Contra scandal that it can backfire on Congress if it goes down that road. It doesn't necessarily guarantee the collapse of a presidency. Clinton became even more popular even as he was being impeached.
Having been put to the test by being elected and becoming president Trump is almost bound to disappoint his supporters over the 4 year time frame... and if he doesn't, if the economy miraculously keeps going all the way to 2020, if wages rise in real terms in ways that they didn't during the Obama years then Hey! He'll be entitled to re-election, because he'll have delivered something to the kind of people who didn't get much out of the previous 8 years. One can't rule that scenario out. And when I ask myself is this a 2-year presidency or a 4-year presidency or an 8 year presidency, well probably I'm inclined to the 4-year view but I wouldn't give *very* low odds to re-election, presidents tend to get re-elected, even ones as mercurial as Trump.
I checked the "real wage" chart, and it looks like - as with a lot of trends - Trump has managed to continue the trajectories started in the Obama years, which given the cyclical nature of economies is kind of impressive, though I think his tax cuts were dumping fuel into an engine that was going along well already.

I think the point about Clinton's popularity increasing during and after impeachment is important. You get resentment at the question being asked. For Clinton, it was the Republicans bringing sex into politics so stupidly. I fear for Trump it might be "look, the folks who voted for him knew he was gonna run the place like a wanna-be Mafia Don, sending out his consigliere Giuliani to replace actual ambassadors, so what's the big deal"...

And don't get it twisted - I am no Trump fan. The damage he has done to so many things we hold valuable - international alliances, judicial appointments, the balance of powers as lesser Republicans follow him like the pied piper - is immense.
Figure out who you are, and then do it on purpose.
Dolly Parton
(repost but bears repeating! Though come to think of it maybe Trump does that too much, so nevermind.)

December 19, 2019

I like this skeleton:

from this staff tumblr post that offers the matching fitted dress.

December 20, 2019

they call him prince charming because he's always really polite to strangers to cover for the fact that he doesn't know if he's supposed to recognize them from somewhere and when you're a prince that shit starts wars

rip prince charming, who had to let the whole kingdom make jokes about his foot fetish for the rest of his life because every blonde with an updo looks basically the same as far as he can tell

#'i met the perfect woman but it was a special occasion'#'so now wherever she is her makeup and hair are probably different'#'this is my nightmare'

did cinderella ever talk to her man about his faceblindness

Wired presents every Star Wars movie starfighter:

Too quote a great line from my favorite movie in the series:
"There's - too many of them!"
I know there are toys to sell, and I guess real militaries have plenty of varieties, but I wish more of the designs weren't just one-movie-wonders...
A longread note of caution about the New Optimists. That said, I am super grateful for my privilege, and reasonably hopeful it will extend for me and many people I know, and will continue to work to help extend that to others.
Hmm, and how US and UK chose a path to make them the new USSR with so much decay likely to follo - increasing inequality and a struggle to survive, rather than following a European model that favors a strong and healthy and comfortable route for more and more people.

on with the science!

Pretty fun time w/ Cora today - she and her Mama K had done crystal growing science the night before, and so I tried to give her the basic theme of atomic theory - solids, liquids, gases... and the Kiwi Krate was a particularly good one about electricity, building up a little game where a light lights up when three pinballs are in the correct position... and then we moved onto computer science:


December 22, 2019

The cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears, or the sea.
Isak Dinesen
(repost but man is it good)
economists really took the divine right of kings and turned it into billionaire CEOs
"it's kinda fucked up to reject the business practices of jeff bezos when he rightfully earned his position under capitalism"

December 23, 2019

Am I just an Old, or are point-of-sale units really bad at consistently indicating "if you're going to tap your card on phone, tap here ->"? It feels like guess work where I'm just randomly hitting my phone on random parts around the screen and hoping- rather undignified - and not always sure if the tap is available at all...
Did you know: the color magenta does not exist. Or I think it's more fair to say: most colors do not correspond to simple single wavelengths of light. (This reminds me of Donald Hoffman on Harris' podcast - I think he extrapolates too much from our inability to directly percieve "reality" but still.)

December 24, 2019

Petition to have Barbara Walters ring in the new year saying "I am Barbara Walters, and this is 2020 - the vision we need!
What scientists figure out about the chewer of a 5700 year old piece of gum.

Well I'll tell you one thing *I* figured out - gum technology has come a long way! I mean... birch pitch, really? What kind of mint-tastic tastebud explosion could that provide? Actually I think gum technology may be regressing. I can't find "Dessert Delights" mint chocolate chip gum anywhere, and that was a pretty good diet helper. [This link sponsored by the Aggressive Point Missers of America]
Decided to double up on the day I saw Star Wars Movie Number 9 by playing through Rogue Squadron / Rogue Leader on Gamecube, which remains my favorite Star Wars games.

Mecha T-mas!


via Brandon Bird and Evan Palmer, available here
Repost, but I love reading Former wrestler Mick Foley write about transforming into a proper avatar of Santa...

graphics design is my passion

I had a School of Honk / Graphics Design nightmare last night!

Background: When I'm playing with BABAM or JP Honk, I have banners I put over the bell of my tuba to give the name of the band or to write on with magic marker the message of the event BABAM is backing - it makes my horn less pretty but it's useful billboard space.

But this morning, I had this weird nightmare where School of Honk was asking ALL the tuba players to use a banner like this one - this tacky rich red, bad serif font, photo of a tuba... this is the best I could do to reconstruct it.

OK, "really bad choices in brand identity" is probably pretty low on the list of worthy nightmare topics BUT STILL. I woke myself up enough to write it down...

--Metroid II From this utterly amazing collection of (usually looping) animated video game screenshots...


"Quinton Reviews" made an amazing discovery - "Gnorm the Gnat" wasn't the only predecessor to "Garfield" - there was a first run called "Jon" that used a lot of the same gags... here's what Garfield looked like:

You can see the newspaper pages here or here's a video giving the background:

It Was a Total Lack of Planning That Killed Star Wars -
Some spoilers for the new movie, but overall a measured amount of criticism about the see-saw we got, with the first sequel being a bit of a slavish copy of A New Hope, the second sequel being a rebut of that approach, and the third going back to squash the second. (and honestly kind of just remaking Return of the Jedi) Honestly I wish we had taken that second movie approach from the outset, but putting the whole series under one vision would have been a less whiplash-y trip.

the boston popsicles

Follow up from a few days ago - I ran an informal linguistic survey on FB and learned that for USA English, at least in the Northeast, most people say a "popsicle" can only be something icy on a stick, probably frozen juice - that if it's cream-based, it's an "ice cream bar" or "frozen yogurt bar" or whatever, but not a "popsicle". (Of course we're talking about the genericization of a trademarked term, ala Kleenex or Xerox anyway.)

It's weird to be in my middle age and not having picked up on this common distinction. In thinking on why I'm more likely to find the distinction so arbitrary and confusing (to me, any sweet frozen treat on a stick can be called a "popsicle", and some of the dictionary definitions and many google images support my looser use of the term) I think back to an idea I've written about on my tech blog before:
I don't care so much about the interior lives of things; people and computer objects alike should be judged on what they do, not what you think they "are".
So in this case, the interface (the interaction, the verbs) for a "popsicle" and an "ice cream bar" are identical: go to the freezer, unwrap it, enjoy a sweet treat while holding a stick, discard the stick - and so it seems daft to have to do a composition analysis of the noun to know what word I need to use (one friend with a dairy sensitivity mentioned some cream-y things might be "popsicles" if the creaminess was gelatin rather than dairy based, and so the distinction has a particularly utilitarian aspect for her.) And it's a different pattern than "put ice cream in a bowl and eat it with a spoon" or "unwrap the ice cream sandwich and eat it from your hand" (either using the wrapper as a hand protector or licking the sandwich coating from your fingers after...)

It does seem odd to me then for common usage in my area, we have no term covering all "frozen sweet things you eat from a stick". There's "frozen novelties" (which sounds like some kind of coy euphemism) and "frozen treats" but both of those include things like ice cream sandwiches.

I've definitely found my fashion groove- or fallen into a rut, it's hard to tell - with dark blue shirts with simple repeating decorations. One of my favorites finally gave up the ghost, tearing at the elbow. But the plus side was I could bend my arm and feel like the hulk tearing through my clothing...

I just rushed ahead an finished a year long-project of making all the quotes this blog have the same fancy formatting. Recording quotes is an important, humanist/spiritualist practice for me, so every day this year I went back past the last 18-19 years of the site and brought the quotes into alignment (along with placating my recently formed dislike of big blocks of italicized text.)

Along with that, the past few days I made a change so that rather than have a separate short form/long form type of entry behind the scenes, it's all one kind of thing. But that's a detail "of the Moment" that bores even me so I can't imagine anyone else would be interested in it...

an old thing (history of kirk.is)

Yesterday I mentioned finishing up a yearlong "quote format" cleanup project on my blog - I had a daily morning ritual of using its "this date on the blog" tool, usually while I was still lying in bed. It was a great excuse to take in the depth of my almost-two-decades blogging in project and I think I miss the habit already...

I also mentioned doing an internal reconfiguration that was too boring to talk about - and that's not untrue but thinking about why I had to do it triggered thinking about the general history of my longest-running personal project...

My first blog-like thing was a series of text files on my PalmPilot, which I called KHftCEA or Kirk's Home for the Chronically Easily Amused - it wasn't designed to be public but eventually I posted it online. It ran from spring 1997 until the start of my blogging at the 2000/2001 turnover.

So I switched to "writing online". (The first entry says "Maybe I'll use spellcheck" - I forgot that used to not be integrated into browsers!) Each day's entry on my early blog was a single file, but I quickly started to use "of the Moment" (Quote of the Moment, Link of the Moment, etc) headers to create sub-entries. And almost immediately in the activity it became a practice to at least have something up every single day.

A sidenote, from 2003-2013 a daily comments section on my site formed a bit of community - I graphed its rise and fall after clearing out the enormous amounts of link spam that ended up swamping it.

Another - quite literal - sidenote was Dylan's Pointless Sidebar - in 2002 I gave part of the site to be a microblog for my BFF Dylan... in 2004 (slightly to Dylan's annoyance) I let our mutual friend Sarah add entries, and then later that year opened it up to all of the site regulars, and that enhanced my site until it wound down in 2008 or so - right around when Facebook and twitter were really picking up steam.

It looks like May of 2008 I dabbled in using twitter (come to think of it, for a while I used the old "KHftCEA" name as my twitter handle) but because my blog was always my permanent archive I built some tools to mirror (easily if still manually) what I was putting on twitter onto my blog (These days, I still tend to repost most of my content on Facebook, since despite its well-known flaws, it's the only place that lets me post the longer form stuff and have comment threads about it with people I know in real life.)

Anway. Eventually I stopped posting much to twitter, but the tools I made for the mirroring were better suited to the blog updates I was doing - content-specific forms for quotes or retweets or image uploads, with only the "long form" writing still placed in the old files structure

So every day's entry had two parts: the long form section, if any (like a big photo gallery or rambling essay) and the smaller links and quotes for the day, broken up my little horizontal rule markers. My big activity yesterday was to internally merge the two sections, so that even days with both types of section would just have one file. The only change that should be visible to users is that on old entries, the "of the Moment" subheaders are still present but they now have the same horizontal rule markers breaking them up.

Yeesh. This went on longer than I expected. Which is kind of appropriate for a blog that has run 19 years, and that I hope to keep on for many decades to come. (Yikes, I just scared myself typing that! I do have a psychological hangup where it's hard for me to stop doing something once I get committed to it, it always feels like too harsh of a refutation of my earlier self. That's what fixed mindset and not having a real intuitive belief in personal growth will get you-- for worse or, often, better.)
When I come across people who describe San Francisco as a leftist/communist nightmare, I just laugh.

San Francisco is a right-wing technocratic dystopian nightmare with a veneer of superficial progressivism not so thinly veiling far-right, ultra-capitalist social darwinism.

from Eun Y. Kim's "The Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox"

My final book read of the '10s will likely be Eun Y. Kim's "The Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox". I found a copy of this 2001 book in a used bookstore in Maine. I always appreciate cross-cultural views of the water in which I swim, and the two decade gap added an interesting twist - pre-WTC, pre-Social Media, pre-Obama and pre-Trump.

One early theme in the book is Kim's view that Asian cultures tend to be more (relative to folks in the USA) driven by a sense of hierarchy, which goes hand in hand with a stronger notion of predetermined fate.

She also mentioned it was unusual for Asian middle class teens to have a job, except maybe in the family business. (She also doesn't think so highly of the American school system in general.)
Chinese sociologist Fei Xiaotong observed that Americans regard all relationships as contracts.
Eun Y. Kim goes on to observe "In a contractual society, relationships can be terminated whenever one party chooses."

The problem is that cheap talk has become the norm, and people simply do not take the time to filter their thoughts before mass-distributing them.
Eun Y. Kim, "The Yin and Yang of American Culture"
I imagine the rise of social media since this book was written would amplify Kim's point. But I think it ties into the aforementioned egalitarianism: many Americans (especially folk from privileged groups) have the importance of their even casual musings promoted early on. When you combine that with emotional over-earnestness and the need to either persuade or amplify the feelings of group loyalty, you get a lot of sound.
Any religion that teaches love for humanity is worth believing in.
Dalai Lama
Kim quotes the Dalai Lama - she went to a Christian high school and in general frets about the secularization of the American public square, and refers to Asian parents who would send their kids to Western religious schools even if they didn't want them to convert, figuring any religion was better than no religion.
It took one person to bring you into the world, but it will take six to take you back to the grave
French Proverb.
Kim cites this in her section on advice under the heading "Invest in Human Relationships"

...truly beautiful IMO.

Aren't we all just trying to leave one good, lasting thing behind?

I was listening to The Anthropocene Reviewed's take on Auld Lang Syne and was stunned to find out it was a tribute to Amy Krouse Rosenthal - stunned to find out she was killed by cancer in 2017.

I loved her work on 15 Megabytes of Fame a charmingly hand-drawn miniblog from way back when - plus her Book of Eleven was lovely. She introduced me to concepts like Wabi-Sabi and almost everything she wrote was brimming with wistful, thoughtful beauty. I met her in person at Porter Square Books during her book tour for "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" and we corresponded a tiny bit - turns out she also went to Tufts, but I guess I missed this loving tribute in the alum magazine.

(Oh and here is a nice personal plug for her final book for grownups "Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal")

That Anthropocene podcast mentioned Amy reviving and reframing a simplistic set of lyrics for Auld Lang Syne that British soldiers created during the Battle of the Somme:
We're here,
because we're here,
because we're here,
because we're here...
The soldiers were sardonically drawing attention to the unfairness of being asked to sacrifice so much for such an uncertain cause, but Amy recasts it, and finds the elegant universal existential brother- and sisterhood it can hold.
Death may be knocking on my door, but I'm not getting out of this glorious bath to answer it.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Best Movie Posters of the Last Decade via this metalist
Fun banding for NYE!

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