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photos of the year 2023


Open Photo Gallery: Best of 2023

Open Photo Gallery: 2023 Visuals

Open Photo Gallery: 2023 Memories

2023 One Second Everyday


One Second Everyday of a challenging year. Tough to see all the shots of Dean, and to know that most of the year was under the spell of a job hunt.

Also I'm not doing great with the idea that I should have fewer "band splat" seconds :-D Bands consistently are some of the most reliably good parts of my life. (Though with this night job I got I'm going to be having fewer rehearsals this spring, so be careful what you wish for I guess.)

Cameos from a swan, Melissa, Jennifer, Cora, Dean, The Jamaica Plain Honk Band, Old Mense tourguide, Extinction Rebellion Boston, Thomas, Char, Laura's drum, Liz, Mushrooms, Pleasant St Dental, Josh's FB, Maxim + Carrie's First Friday crew, Fruit Flies Like a Banana, Second Line Brass Band, BU Works Union Tapdancers, Steve, A goose, School of HONK, Kenneth, Rebirth Brass Band, Kenny, Dan, Bob, Tufts University Wind Ensemble, Gary, Stone Zoo Bear, Red Rebels, ducks, The New Magnolia Jazz Band, Elio, Katie Mae, Zach, Maja, an ailing bee, a hungry bird, BABAM, Nathaniel, Courtney, Amanda, Betty, Betty, Susan, Vermin Supreme, Sophie, Dave Parmenter's birthday, Goose and goslings, Tim, Ariana, Rebekah, Chet's Funeral, Henry, Karan, chicks, Kayla, Matt, Cordelia, John, a Human Carrot from the Roslindale Food Co-op, Rob, a chipmunk, Boston Pride Parade, Cambridge Teachers Union, lots of cousins, Gary, Mike, Arun, Kevin, Kellie, Cheryl, Summer Honk, Dinny, Matthew, Dave, Dylan, Jessica, David, Cathleen, Sean, Karen, Good Trouble Brass Band Linda, Gil, Newton Teachers Union, Mary, MiFi, Jean, Chasity, Jon and many others...
Being vulnerable is allowing yourself to trust. That's hard for a lot of people to do. They feel a lot more secure if they kind of put walls around themselves. Then they don't have to trust anybody but themselves. But to allow you to trust not only yourself but trust others means - is what's required to be vulnerable, and to have that kind of trust takes courage.
Herbie Hancock
been thinking about this quote -
also the general overlap of trust, and dependability, and vulnerability. I think people conflate all that too much.
i know i have a (not neccesarily 100% healthy) need to be 100% dependable. But that means I am slower to let myself depend on others, because unreliability on their part might lead to less reliability on my own.
All you can take with you is that which you've given away.
George Bailey's father in "It's a Wonderful Life"

I liked this list of the 101 Best Nicknames in Football History (I just saw Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch on the Celebrity Lego Masters show)

media i consumed in 2023

Media I consumed last year... 4 star in red, 5 star red and bolded...

Movies at the Cinema (5 (+3))
A Fish Called Wanda, The Super Mario Bros Movie, Barbie, Oppenheimer, Clue
The 2 4 stars are 80s classics at birthday parties...

Movies on Video or Streaming (28 (-2))
Swiss Army Man, Glass Onion, Jackass Forever, Baby J, Bio-Dome, Dazed & Confused, The Fault in Our Stars, Cocktail, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Clue, American Beauty, Annihilation, Police Academy, Backbeat, The Naked Gun, Across the Spider-Verse, Interstella 5555, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Mummy, The Princess Bride, Assembled: Making of Loki (1+2), The Nice Guys, Pete Holmes: I Am Not for Everyone, Marriage Story, It's a Wonderful Life, 12:01, Monty Pythons's The Life of Brian, The Secret Life of Brian
Backbeat has long been one of my favorite movies - the early Beatles in Hamburg and the love triangle of John Lennon, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Astrid Kirchherr.

TV Show Seasons (18 (-1))
What We Do in the Shadows Season 4, White Lotus Season 1, Rick and Morty Season 1, Derry Girls Season 3, Documental Season 1, Documental Season 2, Documental Season 3, Crashing, The Mandalorian Season 1, Ted Lasso Season 3, Rick and Morty Season 5, FLCL, Rick and Morty Season 6, Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix, What We Do in the Shadows Season 5, Loki Season 2, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Lego Masters Season 4
A lot of animation here. "Crashing" by Phoebe "Fleabag" Waller-Bridge was fun.

Books (35 (-2))
Wisdom for the Way, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Valuable Humans in Transit and Other Stories, Galapagos, Answering the Atheists, The Uncontrolling Love of God, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, The Good Life:, The Giver, Free Will: The Scandal in Philosophy, Jailbird, Life, The Universe and Everything, Ask Iwata, Starting Small and Making It Big, God Soul Mind Brain, So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, Player Piano, Young Zaphod Plays It Safe, Mostly Harmless, Why Gender Matters, Timequake, The Fault in Our Stars, The Anthropocene Reviewed, The Brandy of the Damned, The Information, Eifelheim, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence, Available: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Hookups, Love, and Brunch, Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, Installing Linux on a Dead Badger, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, What I Mean When I Say I'm Autistic, The Aviary, How Pac-Man Eats, The Power of Myth
I finished up my "all Vonnegut" novels kick and a reread of Douglas Adams. Of that, Vonnegut's "Player Piano" really lept out as prescient in a year where ChatGPT and its ilk are poised to reshape many information worker landscapes. "Valuable Humans in Transit and Other Stories" was some great scifi - "Lena" really did a haunting outline of a future of uploaded workers. "The Fault in Our Stars" was really lovely, precocious teens grappling with way serious issues of mortality and other challenges. "The Brandy of the Damned" was an obscure book with some Dyscordion vibes - a bit of Vonnegut and Tom Robbins and Douglas Adams all in there. "The Power of Myth" was a great intro into thinking about what different religions and cultures have in common and why, and is making me thinking about what stories I do or should tell myself.

Podcast (12 (+1))
2.0, Baby Geniuses, Poetry Unbound, Beef and Dairy Network Podcast, Making Sense, Into the Vertical Blank, Strong Songs, Get Played / Get Anime'd, My Brother My Brother My Brother And Me, Complementary, Retronauts, The Talk Show
"2.0" is the interesting find here, where two brothers riff on how to improve some things that are fine. (Real flights of fancy, plausibility is no stopping point.)

Comic / Graphic Novel (14 (+12))
UK in a Bad Way (Part One), This One Summer, Chainsaw Man (Public Safety Arc) Vol 1-11, Rusty Brown, Rusty Brown, Giraffes on Horseback Salad, Adams Family: The Bodies Issue, Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, Gender Queer: A Memoir, The Illustrated Happiness Trap, Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds, Chainsaw Man Vol 12, The Guy I Almost Was, In a Bad Way
I had to construct a crude mirror for "The Guy I Almost Was", but the tale of techno-optimism and jobless despair hit home this year.

Video Games (6 (-3))
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass 1, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, Desk Job, Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Earth Defense Force 5, WarioWare: Move It!
Tears of the Kingdom's idea of building was just brilliant.

via "Midlife: A Philosophical Guide"

Read Kieran Setiya's "Midlife: A Philosophical Guide" as my first book of the year. I do appreciate applied philosophy but it took the book a bit to get to places I responded to... (and is one of those books where I do more quoting who they quote than the work itself.)
To wish for a life without loss is to wish for a profound impoverishment in the world or in your capacity to engage with it, a drastic limiting of horizons.
Kieran Setiya, "Midlife: A Philosophical Guide"

What has a price can be replaced with something else, as its equivalent; whereas, what is elevated above any price, and hence allows of no equivalent, has a dignity.
Immanuel Kant

I think with sadness of all the books I've read, all the places I've seen, all the knowledge I've amassed and that will be no more. All the music, all the paintings, all the culture, so many places: and suddenly nothing.
Simone de Beauvoir on her inevitable death.
I was really struck by this as a strong contrast to the more commonly expressed frustration with mortality - so often the emphasis is on books, places, knowledge, music, paintings, culture we WON'T encounter within our lifepan, but I think this points out we can also mourn the loss of what were externalities that we have made out of ourselves.
[Every] profound political protest is an appeal to a justice that is absent, and is accompanied by a hope that in the future this justice will be established; this hope, however, is not the *first* reason the protest is being made. One protests because not to protest would be too humiliating, too diminishing, too deadly. One protests (by building a barricade, taking up arms, going on a hunger strike, linking arms, shouting, writing) in order to *save the present moment*, whatever the future holds. . . . A protest is not principally a sacrifice made for some alternative, more just future; it is an inconsequential redemption of the present. The problem is how to live time and again with the adjective *inconsequential*.
John Berger in "Bento's Sketchbook", on the social activism of Arundhati Roy
I appreciate this point - with all the activism I support through music, there are some positive results but a lot of futility.

I was tempted to snip out the "inconsequential" bit. Because I think redemption of the present is a consequence, but that word might sour any note of reassurance for a non-careful reader.

december 2023 new to me music playlist

Really anemic month for new music for me. "My Bubble Gum" is the ring tone song in the borrowed fliphone in the first "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"

4 star:
* Missed the Boat (Modest Mouse)
* My Bubble Gum (Rasheeda)
* Henry Ford vs Karl Marx (Epic Rap Battles of History)

3 star:
* All Night (Parov Stelar)
* Cut My Hair (Mounika. & Cavetown)
* Lived in Bars (4 Shades)
* Robo Booty (Opiuo)
* Think I'm Gonna Like It Here (Elisa Cariera)

When going through a prolonged jobhunt, one has to find a balance of introspection (how could I have shaped my career thus far differently and perhaps ended in a more resilient place) but also acknowledge the environmental factors.

Two big whammies in that last category. One is interest rates; money got really, really cheap as we worked to head off a COVID recession. There were some initial shock layoffs, but overall it became a boom time of speculation and growth in tech. That time is done, interest rates are high, and if you're on the outside looking in it is grim.

But there's a might another sea change: Section 174. A Trump-era change (that some expected not to come to fruition) means that software engineer R+D has to be amortized (like, counted as an expense) over 5 years (or 15 years if they're from other countries) - which could be rough for a startup trying to roll the dice and hoping for a quick turn around. Or for people who hope to get hired by that kind of company.

(Or, is it just VCs unreasonably kvetching, in much the same way you companies could do a lot of price gouging and just claim "inflation"?)

Anyway, my usual plug: I'm a UI Engineer strong in React and TypeScript who is looking to help a group make cool, usable stuff.

January 6, 2024

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me but I am the fire.
Jorge Luis Borges

All I know about magnets is this, give me a glass of water, let me drop it on the magnets, that's the end of the magnets.

As I continue my hunt for a fulltime job taking advantage of my deep UI Engineering Experience, I've taken a nightshift role as an instructor at Computer Systems Institute. We had our In-Service meeting the other day, and the topic was AI; the possibilities and pitfalls for the teachers and students of the organization.

Obviously AI should be deeply in the mind of anyone who puts something on a computer screen for a living. While I suspect we might be near the top of an S-shaped curved for performance in this generation of LLM, people will still find surprising new applications for what is available now.

During the discussion I was introduced to https://firefly.adobe.com/ - right up there with Dall-E in terms of capabilities of generating original works. (Also with a unique "Text Effects" mode (shades of the old Micrsoft Word "WordArt" feature) - an endrun around LLM's notable problems in displaying text. )

At the very least, these generative art systems are kind of a highly customized replacement for stock clipart. And there are big philosophical issues on the training material used for these systems. I don't want to wave those concerns aside, but it reminded me of when Mark Twain wrote to Helen Keller who was facing charges of plagiarism (of her story "The Frost King" which seems to have drawn from Margaret Canby's "The Frost Fairies", which Keller had "heard" but forgotten about):

Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that "plagiarism" farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, *except* plagiarism!...For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources.

So I wish I had better answers about what we as individuals, or society, should do in this landscape, but I suspect at the very least these systems are going to be a part of nearly every knowledge worker's toolkit.

January 7, 2024


from Oliver Sacks' "The River of Consciousness"

Surely two distinct Creators must have been at work
Darwin on seeing a kangaroo in Australia

It takes a special energy, over and above one's creative potential, a special audacity or subversiveness, to strike out in a new direction once one is settled. It is a gamble as all creative projects must be, for the new direction may not turn out to be productive at all.
Oliver Sacks, "The River of Consciousness"
Sigh. I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse about my almost guaranteed obscurity.
We entered an omnibus to go some place or other. At the moment when I put my foot on the step, the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define the Fuchsian functions were identical with those of non-Euclidian geometry. I did not verify the idea; I should not have had time, as...I went on with a conversation already commenced, but I felt a perfect certainty. On my return to Caen, for conscience's sake, I verified the result at my leisure.
Henri Poincaré
I've cited this anecdote about subconscious processing many times. Maybe I should work harder at training my subconscious to get it to work on a problem.
Philip Henry Gosse, a great naturalist who was also deeply devout, was so torn by the debate over evolution by natural selection that he was driven to publish an extraordinary book, "Omphalos", in which he maintained that fossils do not correspond to any creatures that ever lived, but were merely put in the rocks by the Creator to rebuke our curiosity--an argument which had the unusual distinction of infuriating zoologists and theologians in equal measure.
Oliver Sacks, "The River of Consciousness"

Walking around with my sousaphone, interacting with families, I realize many people don't know the names of instruments so well - I mean I prefer the term 'tuba' for what I carry anyway but no sir, it's not a french horn, or trombone... but I suspect AI's training has reflected some of that taxonomical indifference. I wanted to make a "Tubanana" joke but "a banana crossed with a sousaphone" leads to stuff like this. :-(
More on the Well of Death here

Open Photo Gallery

three poems on rocks and stones

A rock sat in the woods, thinking,
for many years, of many things.
Realized God and His plan
How to perfect life for plant and man
but it was a rock, and rocks can't speak
so it had to keep it to itself
Kirk Israel (A poem I wrote in high school)
Although I put it sophomorically, I think this really reflects a conflict I felt then (and still feel to this day) where we live in our own objective heads, but only shared reality matters. (The awareness of that tension may have sprung from my sometimes frantic youthful concern of keeping myself right in the God's Eye View of things, lest I end up burning in hell.)

Later in life I ran into this poem:
Don't knock a stone: don't say things like "stone dead."
A stone always knows what it's about.
It holds itself together better than you do,
better than I do. A stone is comfortable
with its battery of cunning smithereens
milling around, bouncing off one another
exactly right in their tight little compound.

Any old stone--you think it can't talk?
Dumb old stone? Ho! Every atom in it talks,
every part of every atom talks. Just listen.

Trust your eyes and ears to recognize your
grandmother. A stone doesn't need eyes and
ears to know what's coming down the pike.

A stone knows what it wants, and gets it,
pressing up tight against the fluffy surrounds,
all that space made of the same stuff as the stone stuff.
Don't knock a stone: it'll show you up,
put you down, cover you up, forget you.
Paul Lawson, "Any Old Stone"
I think that is an interesting partial refutation to what I wrote in high school. And kind of splitting the difference is a poem I found in between:
I was talking to a rock
and I said, "Stone"-
I talk to them like that-I said,
"what makes people feel extraneous?"

To which the rock in its own idiom
replied, "Extraneous's ass!
You think you got it bad.
Try igneous extrusion.
Try a little freeze and thaw.
Try glaciation.
Stand out in the weather for ten thousand years.
We'll talk extraneous."

One thing about rocks:
they cut you half an inch of slack
but never. That's why guys like me
idealize them. I said, "Sage"-
I laid it on a little thick,
this rock I'm talking to,
it's not much bigger than a Chiclet,
but I don't want to give offense-
so I said, "Sage, what
should the human species do?"

To which the rock said nothing,
but he got that look. You know:
they're thinking to themselves,
"Drop dead."
Brooks Haxton, "Dialogue of Soul & Stone"

January 10, 2024

More so than most people (I think) I have an ability to curate emotions; sure feelings arise spontaneously but I think by changing your focus and interpretation, you can give oxygen to feelings that serve your higher self and stifle ones that don't.

Even in this suck time of no tech jobs to be found (anyone need a UI Programmer string in React hmu ;-) ) I gotta remember, there's no special virtue in being miserable. Some baseline anxiety and unhappiness is to be expected, but leaning into it isn't helpful; there are sharp limits to "I'm miserable but if I had a job I'd be less miserable" as a motivating energy to the positive action I am undertaking

The silver linings to these dark clouds are mighty thin, like how you can hammer a sheet of gold so thin you can see through it, but having a bit more time to focus on porchfest stuff and working on this birthday book idea I have, that's something. Band stuff remains enriching, as does times with my superniece.

It's kind of like a forced and probably temporary retirement, but with the more of the body I will wish I had a decade or two hence.
Just finished the second story of a joint-self-publishing collaboration Brandy in the Basement. I really liked "Brandy of the Damned" - strong Robert Anton Wilson / Tom Robbins energy (in fact I found about him because he wrote the introduction to RAW's Cosmic Trigger I) - I grabbed some quotes last fall (the final 4 on the page are really good)

"Beast in the Basement" was solid too, but a kind of realistic horror that Stephen King sometimes writes. Anyway check it out!

January 11, 2024

Watching "Hard Day's Night"... it's legit funny, and charming all over the place. I'm finally learning to tell the 4 early Beatles apart... John has the longish face, Paul is a babyface, Ringo has the nose, and George is the other one.

January 12, 2024

It works! On the jobhunt for half a year, I reblogged this on tumblr on Tuesday evening 10PM. Wednesday 1:15PM I get a verbal job offer. Start the 22nd.
PS not 100% sure how serious I am about "it works", but when I stop and think about synchronicity in general, and the reality it may or may not represent... I remember late 2022 at friendsgivinvg pals did a tarot pull for me, and the 3 cards were weirdly screaming "financial transition", like eye brow raising unanimity within the general ambiguity Tarot always leaves for itself...
The 5 Most Common Regrets of the Dying--and What We Can Learn From Them
Cliff notes: (but you should read the article, it's pretty succinct)
* I Wish I'd Lived a Life True to Myself, Not the Life Others Expected of Me
* I Wish I Hadn't Worked so Hard
* I Wish I'd Had the Courage to Express My Feelings
* I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch With My Friends
* I Wish I Had Allowed Myself to Be Happier

January 13, 2024


The first of these 99% Invisible Mini-Stories is about "filler words" - the "uh"s, "um"s, and "y'know"s etc. They mention how many of the terms are multiuse (and each carries its own nuance) but I think they didn't spend enough time on "like"...

Ha, in checking on my blog I realize I talked about this 20 years ago:
At this very moment I'm listening to this interesting radio essay on Fresh Air Weekend, an NPR show. It's linguist Geoff Nunberg. The piece is a bit of a defense of the word "like". He points out that it's not just a lazy filler as is "umm" and "you know", but rather it's a frame for a bit of a performance. When you say "and then he said" you're getting ready to quote words, when you say "and he was like" you're setting up a re-enactment. I had this same thought when I was in the British Isles with my family in 1995. I was near Castle Blarney it, come to think of (it's where I came up with "I just kissed the blarney stone, and now I'm wicked eloquent.") The Blarney stone is interesting, you have to lie on the floor high up in this castle, and bend at a very odd angle to give that thing a smooch. The tourist tradition is kissing it they say, and the drunk local's tradition is to pee on it...

Anyway, Nunberg traces back use of the word 'like' way back to the fifties hipsters. There might be a philosophical edge to the use of this word, that it also says we really don't know much of anything, but we can still identify traits and make guesses.
Being militantly anti-authoritarian, I still appreciate the nod to epistemological uncertainty.
in 2050 we'll be introduced to the new ideology "snow denialism" that consists of climate change deniers which also believe snow never existed and all pictures/videos of it are fake

January 14, 2024

So playing through Mario Wonder - and I know this take isn't as smart as someone saying it might think it is- I was wondering about the presumptuousness of Mario + Friends = Good, and all those eminently stompable yet rather adorable "enemies" = Bad. Like, Koopas don't seem to have a lot of malice when you drive them around a Mario Kart track....
I think in Wonder it's more noticeable than in some previous games because every stomp has a little written rating that escalates with subsequent hits - but even the most normal stomp is labeled "GOOD!" which seems like it could be a value judgement as well as a performance evaluation.
(And of course old timers would note these moral dilemmas go all the way back to the Super Mario Bros on NES, where the instruction manual mentions "The quiet, peace-loving Mushroom People were turned into mere stones, bricks, and even field horse-hair plants"... Mario breaks a lot of bricks in that game.)

from Robert Anton Wilson's RAW Memes (compiled by Richard Rasa)

Thinking about starting another small Robert Anton Wilson kick... last time I noticed the infamous "23" shows up in my lucky number, which is "222" ala Two Threes...

So for a long time I've had my personal avatar/mascot Alien Bill - here is the earliest known version of him (from an unsent note/letter in high school), the one I based my tattoo on:
So I was a little surprised when the secondary title page of the book showed me this:
Turns out that's "Lumi", mascot of the Illuminanti:
One more thing: I've always wondered why I chose the name "Bill" for my avatar guy. And...Lumi is based on the all-seeing-eye-pyramid that graces our... Dollar Bill. Hmm.
The Copenhagen Interpretation is sometimes called "model agnosticism" and holds that any grid we use to organize our experience of the world is a model of the world and should not be confused with the world itself. Alfred Korzybski, the semanticist, tried to popularize this outside physics with the slogan, "The map is not the territory." Alan Watts, a talented exegete of Oriental philosophy, restated it more vividly as "The menu is not the meal."
Robert Anton Wilson via "RAW Memes"

If you suspect that the wobbly time-sense of Eire can be explained entirely as a manifestation of the calculated procrastination of colonial peoples, you are probably missing the complexity of the Gaelic mindset. One story tells of the two clocks in Padraic Pearse Station, Dublin, which, of course, being Irish clocks always disagree. An Englishman, this story claims, once commented loudly and angrily on how "typically Irish" it was to have two clocks in a train station that gave different times. "Ah, sure," a Dublin man replied, "if they agreed, one of them would be superfluous."
Robert Anton Wilson via "RAW Memes"

Mad magazine was right in claiming "the missing link between ape and civilized humanity is us."
Robert Anton Wilson via "RAW Memes"

Karma, in the original Buddhist scriptures, is a blind machine; in fact, it is functionally identical with the scientific concept of natural law. Sentimental ethical ideas about justice being built into the machine, so that those who do evil in one life are punished for it in another life, were added later by theologians reasoning from their own moralistic prejudices. Buddha simply indicated that all the cruelties and injustices of the past are still active: their effects are always being felt. Similarly, he explained, all the good of the past, all the kindness and patience and love of decent people is also still being felt.
Robert Anton Wilson via "RAW Memes"

I just mean that the world has begun to freak out a lot of ignorant people, and America has more ignorant people than any other industrial nation, because of certain differences between European and American capitalists.

In general, European capitalists usually have broad educations, keep up with artistic and cultural trends, have long accepted some degree of socialism as inevitable, and believe they can make bigger profits with very well educated workers who understand the science behind the technology they use. American capitalists usually have narrowly specialized educations, no interests beyond profit itself, fear that any degree of socialism will destroy them utterly, and believe they can make bigger profits with an ignorant and docile working class.
Robert Anton Wilson via "RAW Memes"

I am looking for a place
Where the horizon is all sky.
Arlen Riley Wilson's last words to her husband Robert Anton Wilson

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.
Douglas Adams

Me: my stomach hurts so bad
My brain: that's because you drank a giant glass of very strong iced coffee on an empty stomach then had African peanut chicken stew with extra hot sauce for lunch
Me: it's a mystery
My friend Liz on Facebook

I'm not a linguistic prescriptivist by any means but I am not at ease with "compute" as a noun - e.g. "more and cheaper compute means better AI". It seems to have sprung up fairly recency. I think it's supposed to sound smart.

January 16, 2024

Did Blood Platelets for the Red Cross today.

PROTIP! 274 Tremont St isn't just the Red Cross site in Boston - it's also the address of the parking garage they'll give you a 100% validation ticket for.

Also bought some new boots. (Wolverine)
Don't count the days, make the days count.
Muhammad Ali
Maybe trite but absolutely true. Days can have a fractal quality.

Between a rise in all kinds of respiratory illness spurred in part by low vaccination rates and the rise of sports betting, I'm beginning to suspect that we are a nation that loves unnecessary gambles.

January 17, 2024

Interesting anatomy for artists photo finders - pondering on the categories "human" and "female". Also interestingly reductionistic in terms of you search for part by part not by whole pose.

My blog tag for 'art' has some of the results from studio art classes I took. I wanted to see if I could doodle better humans, but also appreciated the permission to look at naked humans without leering.
Football (and I guess baseball) nerd talk, even though I'm less of a football nerd and more of a casual (and apologetic) fan (I blame marching band in high school) -

Bill Belichick is on the short list for Dallas Cowboys coach, and allegedly Jerry Jones' top pick. That... would generate a fountain of Haterade.

(I think the Patriots dynasty was a three legged stool: amazing player acquisition, Brady, and very smart solid coaching. I think a lot of other teams in the Copycat League figured out what Belichick was doing with the first thing, and so when Brady left there was only one leg remaining, and things collapsed. So if Belichick went to Dallas it would be interesting to see how they handle the player acquisition piece.)

I always thought the Dallas Cowboys and NY Yankees had a similar feel - like some of the biggest and most successful teams of the last part of the 20th century, rather corporate approaches, a bit overmuch coverage on the national scene, and turning that all into great branding.

Yankees gear gets more wear than Cowboys stuff from people who don't give a damn about the particular sport, which of course is irksome for fans of rival teams. Like on the one hand, people wear it to reflect the glamour of the city in a keeping it real style of hat. But to a hater from Boston such as myself, a crisp Yankees hat is kind of like saying "I really love joyless capitalism".
The Life and Death of the Suburban American Mall. All these malls being just gone is kind of a gut punch, right there for me with Geauga Lake park being wiped out and the old Salvation Army building in Salamanca NY - first home I remember - being a (weirdly small) flat lot.

Malls had a sense of being a destination that a Target or whatever just doesn't. For a mixed groups there were different stores to go to, vs just like, a Toy or Electronics section.

January 18, 2024


Open Photo Gallery

Getting rid of some old Wolverine boots that served me pretty well.

January 19, 2024


samuel logan brengle and helps for holiness

My middle name comes from a Salvationist Theologian, Samuel Logan Brengle - my folks grabbed his middle name instead of making it look like we were grabbing my grandfather's name of Sam.

(As of late I sometimes daydream about dropping my last name; Logan is not prone to misspelling nor associated with the endless cauldron of violence the middle east has become)

I read his 1896 book "Helps to Holiness". I'm struck by the ecstatic nature of Christianity for him- it's an intense set of glorious feeling bestowed by God as a gift if you're fortunate and asking correctly, not so much something to be reasoned about, though I noticed he was awfully deft at quoting scripture.

The books Matthew and Mark mention Jesus talking about the unpardonable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) which worried me as a kid- screwing up my eternal fate was much on my mind, but at least my church was usually big into the chance of forgiveness and redemption, but not with that apparently so it seemed really dangerous! Anyway my mom gave about the same argument to me then that Brengle does as an aside here:
Brother, if you have not committed the unpardonable sin -- and you have not, if you have any desire whatever to be the Lord's -- your first step is to renew your consecration to the Lord, confessing your backslidings; and then your second and only step is to cry out with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job. xiii. 15); and this ground you must steadfastly hold, till the witness comes of your acceptance.
Finally I was kind of amused by the soft hands shade he was throwing here:
It is quite the fashion now to be "consecrated" and to talk much about "consecration." Lovely ladies, robed in silk, bedecked with jewels, gay with feathers and flowers, and gentlemen, with soft hands and raiment, and odorous with perfume, talk with honeyed words and sweet, low voices about being consecrated to the Lord.

January 21, 2024


Open Photo Gallery

Ape doodle, and some sketches from a photo of Lucky
Annie the Pug (from a photo)
Drawing a photo of a swan I took
Serpent Dragon
Doodle by Wren
Imma Bee
Introducing Wren.
Recovered buried St Joseph Statue with a reconstructed face.
gas station

January 22, 2024

In my opinion, you don't use the word 'lonely' about yourself unless it's very, very overwhelming in your life.
Robert Caro talking about the effect Robert Moses had on breaking up communities as described in his book "The Power Brokers" (being covered by 99% Invisible Podcast)
Not sure I agree completely but it struck me as a watchpoint, I know I get a preoccupied on my own projects, only-kid style.
"I mean, what are but just enzymes and catalysts?"
"True. I don't know if that's true, I'm just saying yes."
"We're just chemicals and protein that figured out how to love."
"We're just a brain with a bod-ee, bab-eee"
John and Will Wiesenfeld 2.0 Podcast (Winter Clothes 2.0)

January 23, 2024

My grandfather was born in 1900. He was 14 when World War I broke out and 17 when America entered the fighting. He was 18 when the Spanish flu pandemic swept the world. He was 20 when the Palmer Raids and the associated red scare broke out. He was 25 during the Scopes trial and 29 during the St. Valentines Day massacre. He was 32 when the Great Depression got into full swing and the US banking system came within days of collapsing. He was 33 when famine killed millions in Ukraine and 34 when he lost his job as an electrician for Western Union and had to spend the rest of the decade as an elevator operator. He was 39 at the start of World War II--the biggest, most destructive war in human history.

He was 45 when, in the Pacific, the US detonated two atomic bombs over Japan. On the other side of the world the full horror of the Holocaust became public and the Soviet Union swallowed Eastern Europe. He was 47 when the Cold War started. He was 49 when communists took over China and the Soviet Union detonated an atomic bomb. The country would live under the specter of nuclear annihilation forever after that.

He was 50 when McCarthyism took over the country--the second red scare of his lifetime. He was 57 when Sputnik was launched and 59 when famine killed upwards of 50 million people in China. He was 62 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 63 when a president was assassinated, 64 when Tonkin Gulf ignited the Vietnam War in earnest, and 65 when the Watts Riots broke out a few miles from his home. He was 68 when both a presidential candidate and the country's preeminent civil rights leader were assassinated. He was 74 when Richard Nixon resigned over Watergate. He was 78 when Three Mile Island melted down and 79 when hostages were taken in Iran. He was 80 when gasoline prices doubled and inflation hit 15%. He was 86 when Chernobyl melted down.

A few years later he died.
The point is: yes, things feel scary and chaotic, but that's always the case, and often worse - in time (previous centuries) and place (Gaza now, say.)

January 24, 2024

At my new job I'm asked to use Windows, which I haven't used on the regular for over a decade. (Though it seems like new versions of Windows got rid of the bloatware and weird early touchscreen UI issues)

I am nervous but I like this thought:
"I'm an IT guy born and raised on the PC, and hated Apple. Then I got a job where the company was 60% Mac and 40% PC. I figured I better learn the Mac. After a couple of weeks I felt pretty comfortable with the Mac. After a couple of months I gave no thought to the computer, just the task that needed to be done. It's kind of like driving two different cars. The various controls are in different places, but both have basically the same things. Personally, I now prefer the Mac, but seriously don't over think it. If you're in tech for any length of time knowing multiple platforms will serve you well."
I still have to find replacements for a ton of little helper programs.

Annie the Pug

Pivoting back to Windows (after ten years!) to align with my company; it's better than I had feared but I'm still surprised my desire to use the scroll wheel up to make the document "go up" is so weird none of the archaeological layers of Windows settings covers it; I either have to tweak the registry (!) or install the Logitech management software.

Which movement is "up" for scroll wheels, touchpads, and 3D games - and how different people have different intuitions about how it should be - is an intriguing interesting UX issue I wrote about in my devblog a few years ago
Lendbreen Tunic, The $38,000 Iron Age Dress
I had this stereo in college. It keeps making the 90s nostalgia photos, and for good reason... like the speakers were just so nicely rounded ...

Later followup to Windows stuff: Overall Windows had a lot of problems and I might try to steer clear if I can get away with it - USB shit not working (it kept telling me my last USB device didn't work but I wasn't sure if that was the USB-C to HDMI thing (for a third screen - which worked but might not come back on) or what, to my Beats headphones not having mic in Teams (or maybe it was something else) , to general irritation of cmd vs ctl (I used SharpKeys to put that back, but in general I really miss the adeptness I have bouncing around apps on Mac) to that "well use Linux Subsystem" which sounds cool but ran into big DNS stumbling blocks

January 25, 2024

I don't agree with every angle, but this Cracked interview with Penn Jillette is good. I've liked Penn for a long time and am glad he's distancing himself from libertarianism.
[we used to talk about] the most pretentious shit possible. [For example?] We talk an awful lot about whether you have to stop at libertarianism or go on to anarchocapitalism
(I wasn't sure if it was in that or this 1994 piece in Wired)

January 26, 2024

Did you know Tom Waits was one of the primary muppeteers for Cookie Monster?*

*this is a lie.

Famous Meme People Then and Now has some interesting meme origin stories as well.
Trans man has insightful things to say about dude's body language - I thought the sympathy about spreading out as a form of calming down was nicely sympathetic... (it's a written transcription with the tik tok at the bottom)
Sorry about the forced retirement, Mars Helicopter Ingenuity...
I would vouch for the iPhone App "Macro Mode" - if you enjoy doing close up stuff, sometimes you just need a nice manual focus vs tapping and hoping with the regular camera app.

I get a lot of CPAP related stuff (more like C-CRAP amirite) on FB, but I really do like this image.

January 28, 2024

Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody's gonna die. Come watch TV.
Morty on "Rick and Morty"

Horny Little Dork actually gets to the root of things:

I get kind of obsessed with this soup guy whenever he shows up on my tumblr dashboard

the de-evolution of work

This Big Think video on the evolution of work (from fire to farming to cities) reminded me of the book "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn, and its framing of Abrahamic cultures setting us on a path from being hunter-gatherer "Leavers" (who like most predators would find some kind of balance with prey and/or resources and the surroundings) to agriculturalist "Takers" - shifting things to the mode of accumulation and a compulsion for endless growth - which might not be the sustainable model we'd have hoped for.

Coming off a period of unemployment followed by starting in a challenging job - having to put a lot of mental and emotional work into tasks with uncertain payouts for the team - it's easy to wish for a better societal balance. One where I had finer-grained options about how I spend my time - enough confidence in access to health care that I could still work but also more freely pursue some more entrepreneurial projects, or lean more into my band communities, or just relax.

Of course for me there has to be the recognition that in a 'more balanced' society, I might easily have less material well-being that I enjoy now. But I still wish we had a structure that was more based on getting a good baseline for everyone and less on show-y accumulation for a few.

I guess I have ambivalence about the interesting diversity of stuff and ideas society offers - I mean we almost all have easy access to a worldwide diversity of flavors and images and songs that even kings of earlier centuries wouldn't have. But for many of us, that comes at the cost of exchanging the one unreplaceable resource we have, our time and attention. (And of course in the USA, it always feels like the false hope of "well maybe someday I'll strike it rich!" drives people to be ok with letting Billionaires hoard as much as they need to placate their egos, more so than in the pre-Reagan days where a tax system could ask more from them while still leaving them with vast wealth.) But we also seem to be losing the thread of community and relationships.

My online buddy Nick responded to some posts about Penn Jillette's pivot from Libertarianism: in one of his many radio shows, Penn told the story about how he got into libertarianism, and it was basically Tim Ferriss (inventor of the Video Toaster) delivering a debate gotcha to him in the 80s, something like "you wouldn't punish someone for something they didn't do, why would you reward someone for something they didn't do?" and because he didn't realize that money isn't a reward, it's a resource that is necessary for survival in societies like ours, and that's why welfare is necessary."

It made me think of Rick and Morty: "Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody's gonna die. Come watch TV." No one asks to be born, and I think better societies do a better job ironing out the unlucky rolls of the dice some people get born with. Those societies have to get through or around a paralyzing fear of "cheaters" and "moochers", and I guess despite automation and resource extraction there's still a good amount of work that can only be done by humans, so you probably still need to align incentives to work. But the way we still see "work ethic" as an intrinsic good is kind of messed up.
Horses contemplate a bun-bun (Sean countered with "holy_hand_grenade.gif")
The real Trolley Problem is that we don't have trolleys anymore
Rep. Eric Gallager (no "h"!)

I'm a regular guy from Cleveland. My girlfriend ties me to the bed one leg at a time, just like everyone else.
Drew Carey
(via an article on him opening up about his mental health struggles. err not quite related)
I have never seen shoes drawn quite like that.

(looks something up to confirm) oh man 100,000 skin particles A MINUTE is just WILD. I guess that's a potential recipe for OCD, but hopefully a call to accept it's a more chaotic (and smaller!) world that we have to learn how to accept.

Reopening the Brighton branch of the BPL

Open Photo Gallery

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