2023 May❮❮prevnext❯❯

May 1, 2023


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BONUS (from the Boston Globe)

It really is true that the unexamined life isn't worth living. But the overexamined life isn't much better.
Roman Mars

Watching twitter content slide from VHF to UHF.
Shannon Wheeler

Gargoyle (dating back to my college days) lurking in the front yard... and it's not every day you run into Vermin Supreme... or even every May Day...

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May 2, 2023

Kind of lame month for new music. Worried life stress might be making me less attentive or something...

I like the midtempo melancholy of "Out of my Head" and I'm happy with how my arrangement of "Misirlou" for JP Honk came together...

4 star:
Out of My Head (Fastball)
Misirlou (Dick Dale & His Del-Tones)
3 star:
I'm All Right (Madeleine Peyroux) Nemesis (RYLLZ)
Story of Bo Diddley (The Animals)
Ms. Jackson (Outkast)
Que Si Que No (Funiculi Funicula) (Gipsy Kings)
Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel)
Mm Mm Good (Big Freedia)
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
Tessie (Radio Version) (Dropkick Murphys)
I somehow feel like I'm more of a real Boston-er when I feel a twinge of guilt for getting Manhattan Clam Chowder.
On my devblog, thoughts on the future of programming in an AI-heavy world

more tumblr thoughts on how society woke up about not coercing left handed people to be different than who they are, and, to say the quiet part outloud, with hopes they'll figure it out for trans folk as well.

the comfort of Christians is weed

I've been thinking about a small essay I wrote as a young teen (I think I was going to submit it to The Salvation Army's youth magazine.)

I had read "the blood of the martyrs is seed" coming from a time when Christians were a persecuted minority, but it seemed that now, living easily as the majority in society, we were maybe too comfortable and too self-indulgent. The conclusion of the essay was like "...so maybe we should says 'and the comfort of Christians is weed'"

My loss of faith was partially fueled by seeing fellow young churchmates having a more fun time than I was, doing the normal teen experimenting with booze (a big no-no in The Salvation Army) and parties and sex, in contrast to my own "Sunday School" lifestyle. I mean, I was making out a bit, but at least I had the decency to feel guilty about it.

Admittedly 'other folk expressing more whole-hearted belief while leaning into the verboten stuff' was only the lesser third cause of my straying from the fold, along with A. how my religion with its message of universal Truth for everyone (admittedly better than religions with an elitist 'elect') needed an answer for why God let there be so many other religions in the world and B. my growing awareness of a kind of social engineering aspect of The Salvation Army's Musicamp setup, where the spirit weirdly never seemed to move on the opening Sunday of the week but ALWAYS did on the closing Sunday. Like, looking back maybe my faith was too brittle and puritanical and too naive about the relationship between God and societal constructs, but that's where I was then.

I'm not sure if I ever did a second draft of that essay and I never sent it in. And "the comfort of Christians is weed" sounds a bit too much like a pro-stoner message, now that I think about it.

I like Yuval Robichek's illustrations

May 4, 2023


via shhhitsfine.
Speaking of... this recently unearthed photo from Christmas '79, listening to my dad's heart with a stethoscope I got in a toy doctor kit.

May 5, 2023

I'm trying to strengthen my arguments to conservatives about trans rights, using themes and language they might respond to. It might be futile, for sure, but I can at least make the effort.
Ok, congrats on making arguments and not getting too personal.

Here's the thing: America was built on respecting the individual, and the group not being able to tell the individual what to do. If you love guns, the group can't tell you not to have them, no matter how much more dangerous it makes things for cops and other folks. If you have a religious belief, the group can't tell no, you're wrong, look at all these other beliefs, go with one of those instead (or like in commie russia, state mandated atheism).

But for some reason, you are part of the group telling trans individuals who they "really are". That (even leaving aside the surprising amount of people born intersex) if someone has a penis or vagina in their underwear, then the group knows who they "really are" and how they should act all the time. That at the moment of conception, this chromosome pairing always, 100%, no questions asked aligns with the soul god gives them or who they "must" be even though male-ness - any male characteristics at all really don't start 'til 9 to 10 weeks into natal development. And you use this fifth grade health class knowledge of fetal development - ignoring all the other later chemical and hormone interactions that actually put us together and make us us (like Psalm 139:13 says) - to make life abso-fucking-miserable for these people, because it goes against your intuitions you've had put into you about how people should be.

And I know there are challenges. Like ideally all restrooms would be unisex and private for everyone (and/or the ones with individual toilets and big shared common areas). And why do we make kids be naked together in locker rooms? How do we balance sports when some folks have had f'd up hormone histories. Etc.

But liberals fight for trans rights because they are the edge of standing up for vulnerable individuals knowing who they are more than the group. Almost all the arguments you have against trans apply to all gay folks. (and in some states they're looking to roll back those rights as well - hey last year it's ok not to sell you a wedding cake. Maybe next year it will be ok not to sell you a house?)

And going back before that, we spent a lot of time just telling people not to be so damn left-handed. Why, you can't possibly be BORN that way... everyone is right handed! That's why God has the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left! We're going to FORCE you to be right handed and it's for your OWN GOOD. That attitude sucks, and why the whole boy/girl thing is even more fraught, it's the same energy. You think the group knows more about the individuals than the individuals in question do. That's ignorant and hurtful.

The True Size Of... is a fun way to compare the size of regions despite the usual distortions of projecting a globe onto a flat map, it's so pleasant to drag a country around and see it stretch accordingly.

May 6, 2023

political memes

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from Kurt Vonnegut's "Slapstick"

The fundamental joke with Laurel and Hardy, it seems to me, was that they did their best with every test.
They never failed to bargain in good faith with their destinies and were screamingly adorable and funny on that account.
I find it natural to discuss life without ever mentioning love.
It does not seem important to me.
What does seem important? Bargaining in good faith with destiny.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Slapstick"

Dear Kurt--I never knew a blacksmith who was in love with his anvil.
Kurt Vonnegut's agent Max Wikinson

As I have already said, I was fully aware that I was not the sort of lumber out of which happy marriages were made.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Slapstick"

And how then did we face the odds,
Of man's rude slapstick, yes, and God's?
Quite at home and unafraid,
Thank you,
In a game our dreams remade.
Potential epitaph from Kurt Vonnegut's "Slapstick"

May 8, 2023

To invading germs, you are a jungle full of hungry tigers. To your gut bacteria, you are a warm orchard of perpetual bounty. To your eyelash mites, you are a walking fortress and a mountaintop pasture. How many generations have you hosted? What do they name the wilderness of you?
"Host" by @cryptonature, in his book Field Guide to the Haunted Forest


Death is a tragedy until you realize lack of Death is also a tragedy.

Who doesn't love a copy machine?
Office worker, female with with green hair and kind of funky clothing in a dream just now. I had just been given administrative control over this odd little indoor outdoor arboretum complex building. I was running around getting ready to talk with people about the running of the place and i catch her saying that ending another conversation. I start laughing at the randomness of it and she joins in

May 9, 2023

The weekend before last I helped anchor a New Orleans Funeral w/ Music style march to open up a memorial concert for Eric Jackson, long-time stalwart of the Boston Jazz Radio scene...

(At around 1h20 the funeral march band makes a cameo for some bars of Wayne Shorter's Footsteps)

Some great classic jazz throughout, an honor to be a part of it.

happy jp honk-aversary to me

Ten years ago today I marched for the first time with the band that would become JP Honk. I just missed marching in their Wake Up The Earth Parade but here is an item that was making the rounds... The Venerable Book of Honk - Chords and Lyrics - 2013 April 17.. you can compare that to the current chart library I manage for the band

At that point the band was very much of an offshoot of the vibrant Dunster Rd community, and was strongly anchored on Jonathan on keyboard (rolling around on the back of a big tricycle) and Bryan on Guitar. I think you can hear (and see on the left just a small part) of the percussion rack of pots and pans we used to roll around for audience participation..... there was also a "big shared skirt" thing, a big thing stretchy cloth that like 3-4 people could wear as a skirt together

Over the years the band has remolded itself as more of a classic New Orleans style street band, keeping up the community and activist vibe, and last year we were a full on "back of the t-shirt band" for HONK!fest, which I think reflects the work we've put into shaping it as a place for joy and (usually) harmony.

On the one hand, wow, ten years! On the other hand it's like wait, I've only been doing this mostly in my 40s?? Ah well here's to many more years honkin'!

Technically, the success of an evolution line is measured by how many bugs became features

Pretty cool video on how Nintendow's Breath of the Wild got players to explore more freely - mostly by hiding interesting stuff around a lot of corners

May 11, 2023


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May 12, 2023

If someone ever tries to argue that Apple has fallen behind its competitors in AI, show them this "Siri Suggestion". Then they'll KNOW Apple has fallen behind in AI.

(That's it. That's the entire suggestion)

from Douglas Adams' "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

Ford flipped the switch which he saw was marked "Mode Execute Ready" instead of the now old-fashioned "Access Standby" that had so long ago replaced the appallingly stone-aged "Off."
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

Now Arthur knew this dog, and he knew it well. It belonged to [Will,] an advertising friend of his, and was called Know-Nothing-Bozo the Non-Wonder Dog because the way its hair stood up on its head reminded people of the President of the United States of America an animal so stupid that it had been sacked from one of Will's own commercials for being incapable of knowing which dog food it was supposed to prefer, despite the fact that the meat in all the other bowls had engine oil poured all over it.
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

"So. Here you are.
They looked at each other for a moment.
The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.
For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.
He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.
He hadn't realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was "yes."
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"
(I have a vague memory like maybe this was Mo's reading at our wedding way back when. But overall I had forgotten what a romantic book this was. Also that Arthur buys an Apple computer (for a hot minute I thought it was a Mac but probably not given that the book was written summer of 1984))
One so often hurts the one one loves, especially if one is a Fuolornis Fire Dragon with breath like a rocket booster and teeth like a park fence.
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

"Search me, buster," said the creature. "As I said, I'm new here. Life is entirely strange to me. What's it like?"
Here was something that Ford felt he could speak about with authority.
"Life," he said, "is like a grapefruit."
"Er, how so?"
"Well, it's sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It's got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast."
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

Mrs. E. Kapelsen of Boston, Massachusetts, was an elderly lady; indeed, she felt her life was nearly at an end. She had seen a lot of it, been puzzled by some but, she was a little uneasy to feel at this late stage, bored by too much. It had all been very pleasant, but perhaps a little too explicable, a little too routine.
Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

I'm not trying to prove anything, by the way. I'm a scientist and I know what constitutes proof. But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.
Wonko the Sane in Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

The Inside of Everyday Objects...

May 14, 2023

The expansiveness of the new zelda, combined with general "how do i want to approach my job search and skill building" and then a pile of stuff on Porchfest websites is putting me in a weird headspace.
in the one hand maybe i am just fretting wasting time. on the other hand maybe Zelda has things to teach me. Like I'm better at putting aside some of my social media than i am in normal weeks. and also Zelda is all about growing as a character - taking pleasure in that (vs just working with my usual preference for Mario or GTA guy who is about the same at the end of the story as the beginning.) might be a path away from my usual fixed mindset. or maybe i'm just making excuses for burning time in a game with its stronger guarantee of effort equaling progress.
in the one hand maybe i am just fretting wasting time. on the other hand maybe Zelda has things to teach me. Like I'm better at putting aside some of my social media than i am in normal weeks. and also Zelda is all about growing as a character - taking pleasure in that (vs just working with my usual preference for Mario or GTA guy who is about the same at the end of the story as the beginning.) might be a path away from my usual fixed mindset. or maybe i'm just making excuses for burning time in a game with its stronger guarantee of effort equaling progress.

May 15, 2023

Posted this on LinkedIn:

Spoiler: I'm soft launching a job search, my time with Monster Worldwide (and my time on a "design system for design system" project with its parent Randstad) will be ending in around 6 weeks. https://kirk.is/resume and https://kirk.is/portfolio if you want to see what I can do as UI Engineer reaching into the middle tier (Boston based, flexible about onsite vs WFH, React and Typescript for adding features to the front page and bread and butter search of some very high profile companies.)

But even as I balance that day job with learning and interview prep, I have a "side hustle" I'm proud of, making websites for various porchfests in the Boston area (along with the directory site https://porchfest.info ) In a dream world I would be doing something like this full time, helping more and more neighborhoods declare an afternoon for bands to get out of the garage and in front of an audience on the porch... but for now it's just a hobby with small stipends.

For most of my sites (JP, Fenway, Newton, Belmont, Dedham, Melrose, Natick, Newton, and now Medford) I do the whole shebang: the landing page, online signups, drag and drop tools for "matchmaking" (connecting bands and porches) and geolocation, display of the block schedule and interactive maps (in a mobile friendly way), handling bulk email contact, and sometimes even making print materials. But Saturday was the area's oldest and biggest porchfest, Somerville - somervilleartscouncil.org/somervilleporchfest - I "only" do the map/band card page for that but I love how it looks. And helping them make a static frontend of their site starting 4 or 5 years ago has been one of my "hero stories" - the version of the map and band browsing page that was hitting their Drupal backend for every request was a recipe for annual disaster. Porchfest traffic is INCREDIBLY spiky- even for a completely static site, it can be a challenge if you have a limited hosting budget. I reached out to the folks running it, we hashed out a way of pulling data as JSON, and I built a statically rendered (SPA-ish) site that let the browser do all the work of filtering and map-wrangling.

One of the biggest questions for a porchfest is whether they are "B.Y.O.Porch" (like Somerville), or if their vision of inclusion means more matchmaking (like JP, the first city I started doing these for) or some permutation of the two. My newest site, Medford, requested a new feature where we could send a link to porches that didn't have any band associated with them, allowing them to request a band from those that didn't yet have a porch. I was able to come up with the page thumbnailed here in less than a day of work, along with the update to my bulk mailer system to send the link (with appropriate authentication) to just those porches.

Anyway, get in touch if you want to know more about Porchfests - or if you have any thoughts about where my next day job could be...

A quote I saw today on another social that will now live rent-free in my head forever:
"No one wants to work" is just "no one wants to date nice guys", but for employers.
golly josh darn (@klardotsh@merveilles.town)

May 16, 2023


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I'm not widely posting this because I don't want to be seen as defeatist, but...
despicable me meme summer job doesn't matter

May 17, 2023

I just recognized a central source of suck about being job insecure. Nearly every life victory and contentment can be undercut by the "yeah but" of "you haven't lined up a job". (in a nation of sane health coverage like, say, the rest of the industrialized world, I would find this a more readily budgeted against dilemma).
*goes to Coachella in a white linen suit like an antebellum lawyer, sweating profusely and dabbing at my forehead with a handkerchief* now, I'm no fancy scientist, but would you folk know where a simple gentleman such as myself could obtain some acid? Now, I'm no big city lawyer, but could any of you fine youths point a country boy such as myself in the direction of some fucking acid?

May 18, 2023


Made this the other day, more background on my devblog

May 19, 2023


May 20, 2023

RIP Jim Brown!

RIP the novelist Martin Amis. Here is a page on his (intriguingly utterly disavowed) guide to the arcade game fad, Invasion of the Space Invaders

May 21, 2023

Today JP Honk led a parade for a celebration of life for our fallen bandmate Chet Fenton...

At the event they had case of his famous old valve trombone, JP Honk sticker included...

Trying to figure out the 3rd song he listed here along with "Birdland" "Sweet Dreams" and "Groovulation" - and because of this note his musically talented family and upstairs tenant did a lovely version of "I'll Fly Away" and had all gathered sing along.

They also had this in the program:
Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome,
dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
May your rivers flow without end,
meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells,
past temples and castles and poets' towers
into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl,
through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock,
blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone,
and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm
where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs,
where deer walk across the white sand beaches,
where storms come and go
as lightning clangs upon the high crags,
where something strange and more beautiful
and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams
waits for you --
beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.
Edward Abbey
Miss ya Chet.

May 22, 2023


I heard no more questions. Only darkness, and my grandfather's voice, singing a polka: "In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here ... " The voice modulated into something menacing, Luke Skywalker gone Joker, before I faded away. My sense of being alone in the dark stayed with me long after I realized I was in a room illuminated by artificial light.

May 23, 2023


You know, actually thinking about that... I'm not 100% sure we are on average better off than our Paleolithic band-society group ancestors. But in all these life spans, whether "superpowered" like we are today or just hanging around hunting gathering and relaxing with the crew, there are a lot of pleasures to be had.

May 24, 2023

Fear casts out love. And not only love. Fear also casts out intelligence, casts out goodness, casts out all thought of beauty and truth
Aldous Huxley

May 25, 2023


Counterpoint, also from sci-fi:
Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain, perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside-- that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff. We are the Universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out.
Delenn, Babylon 5

May 26, 2023


the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

Don Marquis channeling archy the cockroach

May 28, 2023


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May 29, 2023

anyways (I say this as someone who is deeply critical of the united states government, military, unchecked capitalism, police, etc) I am SICK of people treating america as if it has no cultural value or positives so..... I love u 85 million acres (bigger than italy) of national parks. I love u harlem renaissance. I love u groundhogs day. I love u sweet tea and fried chicken and jambalaya. I love u apple cider donuts and maizes on crisp autumn days. I love u 95k miles of coastlines and new england fisherman and hand knitted sweaters. I love u halloween where millions of people dress up and give candy to strangers and carve jack o'lanterns. I love u small talk and small towns and potlucks and bringing over casseroles to your struggling neighbors. I love u cowboys and ranch hands and arizonian cactus. I love u appalachian trail and dirtbikes and divebars. I love u sparklers and fireflies. I love u mark twain and toni morrison and emily dickinson and henry david thoreau. I love u rock n roll i love u bluegrass and hippies i love u jimi hendrix and nirvana and CCR and janis joplin. I love u victorian houses and jonny appleseed and john henry and mothman and bigfoot. I love u foggy days in the pacific northwest and neon signs and roadside attractions. I love u baseball and 1950s diners and soft serve. I love u native american art and pop art and poptarts. I love u blue jeans and barbecues and jazz musicians

On this Memorial Day consider what Minnesotans did to capture the battle flag of the 28th Virginia Infantry which the state still holds.

It's why I love when my band plays "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Solidarity Forever" - it's pro-Union and pro-union!

May 30, 2023

There's an asymmetry in how republicans and democrats seek and engage with news that confirm their pre-existing opinions. Like, I know I've been guilty of a little bit of cherry picking - not often but now and then - but apparently its quantifiably worse on the other side. Like Cobert says "Reality has a well known liberal bias"

May 31, 2023

At a Blowout Party for Unsung Republican Heavyweights, the Men Were Drunk--and Anxious - A journey into the Republican soul in 2023.

The headline for this is interesting in what it leaves out, because the article is all in the context at a giant convention for car dealers. It's one of the more popular ways of making a lot of money, but it's a middleman role, and dependent on the regulations that prevent car makers from selling direct (with Tesla being one of the foremost challengers to those rules - as well as being the harbinger of a probably pivot to EV, where it's not clear that the pickings will be quite so ripe for the dealers who make so much bank on providing warranty service.) But dealers also have a strong reputation for backing local charities and sports leagues and what not - kind of a well-distributed resting point from the American tendency to always channel wealth upwards.

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