| < retrospect: 18 mar >

March 18, 2019

It's cool that there's no confirmed head of the FAA because Trump wanted to give the job to his personal pilot and senators told him no so then he just lost interest in the subject.
@mattyglesias I guess that's a side effect of rule based on personal loyalty rather than experience, professionalism, and loyalty to the office and to the country...

God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
Numbers 23:22 (King James Version - other versions give it as "ox" or possibly "rhinoceros")

March 18, 2018

Switching to using Safari on Mac more often, partially for battery-life reasons, partially because I think Apple is a bit less track-y. I've gotten used to Safari's "tabs should not have a maximum width" look, but the browser's autocomplete is notably worse - one time typos get stuck and show up again and again like a bad penny, ditto for if you happen to accidentally click on a half-baked autocomplete suggestion.

Also the typo-fixing mechanism is way too aggressive.

Poking around at least I found a way to display the entire URL. Hiding that and just showing the site name was a weird design default.

March 18, 2017

On my Devblog: i want my own website! now what? a guide for friends of kirk and others
RIP Chuck Berry.

(Great song I discovered for myself last month below- bits of it will sound familiar to Beatles fans where Lennon borrowed)

Related: Melissa thinks it's odd that I don't know of a difference in pronounciation of "Berry" "Barry" or even "Bury"... how distinct are they for you?

March 18, 2016

I think I was googling "what to do with other hand when playing sousaphone" -- I really liked this comic and the 2 that came after it, showing kind of amusing dark sides to the dream of 'immortality'...

March 18, 2015

Hmm, I'm surprised "Have you tried 'not saying things'" has no google juice, nor "Have you considered 'not saying things'" (without being followed by 'that') I thought it was advice I heard in the form of a quote somewhere, and is a suggestion I'm trying to apply right now.

I think my inner child is reluctant to give up any chance to say something that shows off, and/or that might miss "increasing his value among others by being a source of 'interesting' points". On the one hand that's obviously a flawed or at least incomplete strategy. On the other, I have to get over my fear that someone how mending my ways is not being true to myself. Today I realized that if one has a need for a small amount of graph paper, and one has access to the Internet and a stocked printer, one no longer has a need for a small amount of graph paper.

March 18, 2014 - my take: scientists can be smarter than the free market. Is that really the famous Jonny Ive Pen? Doesn't look as amazing as I'd hoped.

time is a son of a bitch

March 18, 2013 I just realized that the Epic Rap Battle has more set my mental image of Obama than all the bits of footage and state of the unions combined.
"In keeping with Schrute custom, I will either invite you to Saturday's funeral by sprinkling red, fertile dirt in your face. Or, I will ask you to keep a respectful distance during my time of grief, with a dusting of black, slightly acidic soil"
"I get red dirt. Nobody is getting red dirt. I should have kept my mouth shut. We're not even that close! I've only know Dwight, twelve years--
--Twelve years... time is a son of a bitch. "
Dwight Oscar on "The Office"

delores delago will survive

March 18, 2012
--One of the "Enter" magazines mentioned her "Art or Bust" production used computers for some of the video art. Then I watched it and kind of laughed out loud. Good stuff, Divine Miss M!
Found a torrent for the full of "Enter: the world of computers and new technology", a Children's Television Workshop magazine from the mid-80s. It made me mourn the days of built-in BASIC and small type-in computer programs. Demonstrating that it was easy to make computers do stuff you told them was greatly empowering.
Man kindle app for iPad keeps getting worse. Now it's "cloud" not archive, so you can't see just non-downloaded stuff. Where are Collections?
Be careful what you get good at doin' 'cause you'll be doin' it the rest of your life.
Gabrielle Hamilton

a long time ago in a galactic way that's somehow the future...

March 18, 2011

--At the risk of ODing on Star Wars parody tomorrow I may well watch the whole sret of Family Guy's take on the Original Trilogy... - moving story of Japanese Coastal City's tweets before and during the crisis.

new job!

March 18, 2010
I just accepted a new job with Pearson Education, a kind of pseudo-startup in an incubator program they're running.

Weirdly I had two offers at around the same time... the other was for a company called Media Friends Inc. They have some awesome products and I may be missing out on a big stock payday by not going with them, but ultimately it wasn't the techie lifestyle I wanted. (They liked my history in diverse tech environments, and my first job there would have been in the language "Lua" (which I've never used) porting their SMS-based tv-channel chatroom app for a new bigname client.)

It is surprisingly stressful to have two awesome sounding job offers at once. In some ways, it is probably more stressful than (a short or medium length time of) having NO job offers; you have a binary decision to make, and it will affect your quality of life in ways you can't triangulate now.

I made a big list of pros and cons and polled friends and sweated it and at one point even just about went all the way down the other path. But ultimately, Pearson brings me to 4 places I want to be:
  • Java (where I am now)
  • UI (where I'm realizing is what I want to focus on professionally)
  • Education (and Academia)
  • Boston (proper, vs. a "reverse commute" up 93)
I'm grateful to Lincoln Peak, the company I'll be leaving on fairly good terms, and I wish well for them - but this year taught me, I don't like the lifestyle of consulting. It's too much uprooting, and on some projects, serving two masters, where there can be a bit of a zero sum game on the client/consulting company relationship. You're troubles aren't their troubles, you're just expected to have expertise in everything. (And having to learn everything new every few months... that's one of the things that kept me away from Media Friends, where they were looking for a guy who they can throw at anything. I can do that kind of work, but it stresses me the hell out, and ultimately I prefer to make cool things in known technologies than have to create in new environments.)

This will be my ninth job since graduating in 1996, which is kind of a lot... I got to thinking about where I'd been, and why I left...
companyhow foundhow long therewhy left
IDDpersonally recruited 2.5 yearspersonal growth
Banta IMsent resume 2.5 yearspersonal growth
Event Zeropersonally recruited 1 yearlayoff
Galepersonally recruited 1 yearlayoff
Taxwareheadhunter 3.5 yearspersonal growth
Refreshpersonally recruited 1 yearlayoff
Enpocket/Nokiaheadhunter2 yearslayoff
Lincon Peakpersonally recruited 1 yearpersonal growth
Pearsonpersonally recruited .......
So half the time I leave because of my personal professional development, and the other half I'm laid off - though on a few of the times I leave on my own, the company is not the same one I joined, by a long shot. (Leaving Banta and Taxware are the main ones that felt like seeking greener pastures.)

UPDATE: I miscounted, I was at Taxware 3.5 years, not 2.5, which puts a slightly different spin on some things -- I think I do like putting roots down (though come to think of it, I had been searching off and on during my stay at Taxware, which wasn't a super exciting business domain, and a grinding commute to Salem.)

And I guess the numbers bear out the idea that networking is better than headhunters for finding jobs, though that's tempered by how hit and miss it is - headhunters are generally reliable at finding SOMEthing, even in rough times. There were 6 personally recruited jobs, but only 2 of those were after layoffs, when I was proactively looking. (I'm not counting IDD... though the personal recruitment from there is what made me pick them with 7 other offers on the table, I kind of overdid it after college, and had a kick ass resume for someone my age.)

Sometimes I wish I had kept closer track of where all I applied over the years, though that might depress me a bit -- especially during the Taxware years, I had a number of unsuccessful interviews. I guess overall that would bring the hit ratio for headhunters way, way down, I've only had a few attempts at personal recruitment that didn't payoff.

(But I'm proud to note that both of the companies I worked at as a consultant in the past year made implicit or explicit suggestions that they would be happy to try and get me a fulltime gig there.)

Now, to deal with this endless stream of random search-engine-using recruiters trying to get me to go to Virginia and California and what not...
a. All babies are illogical
b. Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile
c. Illogical persons are despised
So: babies can't manage crocodiles

the treasures inside your vcr

(1 comment)
March 18, 2009

Unrelated note: Lex seemed to like the colors I was using yesterday. Do people think various colors look better than the stark black I usually used?
Anyone want an unlocked Nokia E61i cheap? Includes charger and (wired) handsfree thingy. (Not a bad smartphone, but it's no iPhone.)
"Burn After Reading" - Ah the Coen brothers, lettings us watch lives of quiet desperation go noisy.

near the hypocenter (backlog flush #69 and travelog of hiroshima)

March 18, 2008
  • I know I scanned this once, and may have even posted it, but one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons is just a brick with this caption above it:
    You know... I'm sure it misses the joke but you could probably get that all on a 100Gb drive these days.
  • Random idea I had for a short story: a very realistic study of a guy's reaction when a teammate on his football team does something incredibly and surreal-y awful to a member of the other team, like knock him unconcious and rip off his testicles.
  • You can't get too much geekier than a Geocities page full of alien fonts from the scifi show Babylon 5

Travelog of the Moment

when I dip you dip we dip

March 18, 2007
Augusten Burroughs' "Running with Scissors" describes an act of divination known as a "Bible Dip":
"All the Finches did bible-dips. It was like asking a Magic Eight Ball a question, only you were asking God. The way it worked was, one person held the bible while another person thought of a question to ask God, like, 'Should I get my hair cut short?' Then the person holding the bible opened it at random, and the person asking the question dropped his or her finger on the page. Whatever word your finger landed on, this was your answer."
I've created an online virtual Bible-dip tool. Here's a miniature embedded version. Think of the question you'd like Divine guidance on, click the "select bible passage" button, then let your finger drop on the gray box. The word you're pointing at is your answer, subject to your interpretation of course...

(The full version might be easier to use, and has a bit more explanation.)

Believe it or don't, I'm pretty sincere in how I'm offering this. Sure, I have my doubts about it being a direct line to and from God, but even without that faith it seems like a potentially useful tool.

ring ring ring

March 18, 2006
Raunch of the Moment
At one point, we tried to have phone sex. I felt incredibly awkward and had no idea what to say. I started, "Okay, I'm taking off your shirt. Wait, what are you wearing?" I was supposed to establish that. "Okay, good. I'm taking off your shirt. Now, I'm having sex with you. Okay, I'm done. Want to phone cuddle? Phone sleep?"

The icing on the cake was when we decided to role play. I told her to be the nurse, and that I would play the husband who cheats on his nurse wife.

She calmly explained that we needed to express what we wanted from each other, adding, "I wish you would be more sensitive."

"Fair enough," I said, "I wish you would be Asian."
"Oh, come on, it can't be that hard. I see little kids doing it!"
Rop O'Reilly, "Inspiring Born-Again Virgins One Awful Experience At A Time", boink magazine

mimicking him hiccuping

March 18, 2005
Ksenia said she like yeterday's green-ness, but didn't even realize that it was for St. Patrick's Day. So I thought I should try tweaking the color scheme just a little bit, like this dark blue. I dunno, better, worse?

Tongue Twiser of the Moment
"She stood on a balcony inexplicably mimicking him hiccuping and amicably welcoming him in."
Speed-talker John "Micro Machines Guy" Moschitta Jr's favorite warmup exercise. That's a provocative little sentence I thought, though easier to say than "Toy Boat" over and over.
Thought of the Moment
Cleaning the apartment in preperation for a get-together of the downsides to A. having the attention span of a gnat and B. trying to adopt a "if it's not going to be easie or otherwise improve the situaion to put it off, DO IT NOW" is that I it's really hard to stay just doing one focused medium-long-term task during cleaning. Go to pantry/closet, see that I meant to put rechargable drill back in case. See black tape...remember I want to "enhance" my wallet so cards don't fall out of the front...grab tape. Stay on target stay on target...put drill away, grab tape, grab PC where it's going to go in back room, stop at computer to write this up for's a little crazy!

It's kind of like a computer task scheduling algorithm...ideally it's like a "stack"--start task A, see task B, start task C, finish, resume and finish B, do task A. In reality you get a bunch of parallel tasks, finishing up things as they randomly drift into mind...

Actually, the shortness of my attention span scares I'm putting music on to get some energy to do all this stuff, using my DVD player as a CD player. Except unlike my car CD player the music doesn't automatically start. And sometimes it's like 15 minutes later before I think "hey, shouldn't there be some music on?"

can you hear me before now? good.

(1 comment)
March 18, 2004
Technology of the Moment
Kind of freaky NASA technology that hears words even before they are quite spoken...

Article of the Moment
Bill the Splut linked to an article on the stone heads on Easter Island and how the ecological devastation of the island might serve as a cautionary tale to us, assuming the general issues 'scale up', and I think they might.

Quote of the Moment
Semi-related quote: "There are two things I hate in this world: racial profiling, and Arabs on my plane."
Politics of the Moment
I kind of hate to admit it but I think has a much better hit rate (in terms of articles that I find worth reading) than I go to Salon, skim the contents, and just check out the cartoon or "Ask The Pilot". Anyway, Slate had this fairly damning overview of the latest round of political ads, and this story with a big list of actual graffiti from Iraq really gave me some new perspectives in what the people may be feeling least the ones who are willing to write on walls.

Shirts of the Moment
Josh at Salisbury Sales wanted me to mention a today-and-tomorrow only deal on white t-shirts $2.30/shirt for 50-100 shirts with a 1 color imprint. Like I said, making up custom T's can be a lot of fun.

no no no, terrorism is what THEY do

March 18, 2003
I'm trying to think of what our country's practical definition of terrorism vs. waging war is. Obviously, though we won't admit to it, some part of the working definition involves "we don't conduct terrorism"--so, any operation we undertake is, by likely definition, not terrorism. The only other reliable differentiators I can think of is purposefully killing a dozen civilians as your primary target is terrorism, killing hundreds of civilians as "collateral damage" is's all about intention, you see. Plus, traditionally war gives a bit more warning, terrorism relies more on surprise. Given our military's "shock and awe" approach, I think we've lost the difference that terrorism is meant to terrorize and war isn't.

Oh, and terrorism is cheaper and more resourceful in some of its tools. This and the lack of warning are the only way we have of calling ramming a speedboat into a US Cruiser "terrorism"...I mean hell, the people on the boat thought they were at war. Also, it's not like surprise is exclusively the domain of terrorism, individual battles in normal war often rely on it as well.

I mostly mention this because "we don't negotiate with terrorists", but we kind of hope Iraq will see the force we're presenting.

Anyway. Move over Bert, it's time for threat level I've missed him...

Gaming Article of the Moment
Salon has a piece on Dani Bunten who made the all time classic computer game M.U.L.E. She was Dan at the time, but I that might not explain how poorly the industry treated her in the years after.

Link of the Moment
Yahoo's most e-mailed photos makes for some interesting browsing. As does Yahoo Italy's, which tends to have a bit more skin.

Speaking of skin...yesterday I saw my first exposed shoulders and back of the season, a young woman in a dress at Alewife T-station. Man, that really gave me hope for the season changing.

Grammar of the Moment
This is going to be quantum times more accurate and quantum times more lethal in the first 24 hours of this war than it was in Desert Storm.
Look, I can deal with quantum meaning metaphorically large, even though quantum is generally the very very small, because maybe people really understand the concept of "quantum leap". But "quantum times"? Yeesh.

I gotta wonder...if we're gonna work so much "shock and awe" in so quickly, how will that whole "our forces will give Iraqi military units clear instructions on actions they can take to avoid being attacked and destroyed" thing work out?

Hey, remember when it was "Desert Shield", and everyone thought the next phase was going to be "Desert Sword", but it turned into "Desert Storm" instead? Man, those were the days.

"with 100% eyes"

March 18, 2002
Saw my young cousin Ivan in Guys & Dolls yesterday; pretty dang good performance, his middle school production compared favorably in many ways to what my high school did. And today's title is a quote from the musical as well as a bridge to the next bit...

Images of the Moment
They finally found the girl (now woman) with the piercing gaze whose portrait was one of the most famous cover images for National Geographic. They made a positive ID via the pattern of her irises. It sounds kind of stupid to say, but you can tell she hasn't had an easy life of it.

Quote of the Moment
Uncertainty is the normal state. You're nobody special.
Player in Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead"
News of the Moment
Suddenly, I don't feel so bad for not having gone to an ivy-league school...

weekend edition

March 18, 2001
For some reason, I've been having a harder time writing a lot on weekends, when theoretically I should have all the time in the world for my magnum opus (opi?).

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 Catle 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 philisophical 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.

Link of the Moment
Project Omni, a brilliantly written (at least for the first few pages) account of some 20-something guys taking apart a 1981 Dodge Omni in the summer of 1997. Laugh out loud funny in parts.
(via Cruel Site of the Day)

< retrospect: 18 mar >