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from figure-ground reversal fun

I have a notebook from when I was 18, the summer before college.

I had designed T-shirts for my high school's jazz band the years previous, and I guess the band was still the focus of tooling around with some design stuff, and so I made this:

I've always enjoyed handcrafting blockletters, and I believe I made these by drawing the 3D extrusion behind the letters and then just filling in the extruded bits on the page in front.

Anyway, I realized I can now have the mojo to get a computer to do most of the work for me, and so I made fgrtext: figure-ground reversal (the fancy word I saw for it on wikipedia's entry for negative space.) It's a little virtual toy to mess around with the words, colors and other factors.

I made it so you can bookmark creations - here are some designs I made for 222 Street Jazz:


and JP Honk:

from yearswerve

Lately I've been working on a personal timelines project, experimenting with visualizing the course of my life so far: where I've lived, jobs I've had, people I've been with romantically, etc.

Time for humans is such an odd beast - it marches inexorably forward, yet loops back on itself in the form of days of weeks and seasons in years. In experimenting with visual representations of it, I thought back to my old hooptime illustration, showing the idiosyncratic way I place a week in physical space (like when making simple day-of-week calculations)

Back then I mentioned and illustrated my even stronger sense of the course of a year - again counter-clockwise, with January at the top, and looping back:

Of course a simple loop doesn't display a forward progression of time, so for grins today I stretched out the loop into something that also expresses the movement into the future:

(It's not entirely dissimilar from repeat until death, my attempt to animate Christa Terry's ingrained visualization of an upward spiral of years.)

You can see the full p5 version here.

I'm still very interested in the topic of how different people visualize time, and speculation on what influenced that (clockfaces, calendar pages, whatever) If anyone has an idiosyncratic time-space mapping I'd be delighted to try and make an illustration of it.

It's judgement that defeats us.
Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.
I have been thinking a lot on judgement lately; wondering if it's just a form of unnecessary attachment, this incredibly goofy need to develop a gut feel "am I for this or against this" on every topic that crosses our path.

from phone case by james harvey

Apple designers get a serious case of show-offness when it comes to make their phones as thin as possible, even at the cost of battery life and durability. One of the silver linings is that phones-in-cases become much less bulky than they were in the iPhone 5 era or before - the case just brings it up to being a typical size oldschool phone, as if the case were part of it - and so now everyone gets to pick how their phone looks and we don't look quite as much like the Apple drones so many of us Boston techies are.

I like getting custom-made ones with art by Jame Harvey - the indie artist who has done work fo DC, as well as my own comic on mortality. Here they are:

And here's the latest (first one where I didn't technically commission the art, though I helped fund the Kickstarter...

Of course, lock screens can be pretty hip too... the new one on the right is a zoom in of a poster I ordered from him when he was doing freelance commissions:

I also made a wallet or two.

The cases were mostly ordered from zazzle. For what it's worth, two of those cases were wooden, which I wouldn't recommend if you need it to last more than a year.

from bad artists copy


from badartistscopy.1
I tried to replicate the much more compelling effect of Line Girl by Low Sugar Eye Candy, who has a lot more practice at it than I do.
I think people are missing the point of the shithole comment.... Trump fans are ok with a vulgarian raging asshole in the white house, so long as he's not liberal or AT ALL likely to make them feel dumb, and probably agree with the tweet "If they aren't shithole countries, why don't their citizens stay there? Let's be honest. Call it like it is."

These same fans are too "AMERICA NUMBER ONE WOOOOOO" to get the obvious counter, as another tweet put it 'Norwegians: "We have health care, free college, a living wage, and great social services. Why would we move to your shithole of a nation?"'

I wish we had a full transcript, because I think the real bit of dumbassery, besides his brutally inhumane lack of understanding of "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses", is that he thinks immigration is just a kind of proactive thing by the target country. The context was the immigration lottery, about limits on people from "the shithole countries" and he's all like we'd like to see "more people from places like Norway". Besides the likely racism guiding his country preferences, besides the history of US meddling that helped make those nations into "shitholes" 'cause we had some money to be made and some political agendas to followup on... well, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he'd love to "Make America Great Again" enough that we'd be appealing to Norwegians, but unless they're big fans of wealth-oligarchical kakocracies, they're going to stay away.

I know it's only half an hour ago, but I'm surprised Hawaii's false alarm to cellphones ("Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill") ain't bigger news yet.

Related: awaiting reports of a sharp decrease in sales of laxatives on big island of Hawaii.
Forecast for Sex By 50 When You Are a 46-Year-Old Black Woman This is sweet and brilliant. It reminds me of all the great African-American literature I got to read in college. (Admittedly I was initially driven by looking for double credits for my English major and my school's "world cultures" requirement, but it was great stuff.)

Life is a hard battle anyway. If we laugh and sing a little as we fight the good fight of freedom, it makes it all go easier. I will not allow my life's light to be determined by the darkness around me.
Sojourner Truth

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. His phone rings. "Hi, this is Rachel from Card Services calling about your credit card account..."

from December 21, 2017

I updated my Wall O' Peeps - shots of people I dig. I took all but one or two of the photos shown here, and I really like the composition of most of them (there are a few people I want to see but don't have a particularly interesting photo of.)

To update it , I swapped in replacements for a few photos, and added some as well. As I make the selections, I realize how important this collection is to me, I end up knowing its contents like the back of my hand.

You can see the first rendition here. Also I started making an archive of the fullsize version of these.

Blender of Love

Boston and Racism

from easy being green

My portrait in the style of James Harvey's Alien Bill, via deepart.io
Want to pay an actor to burst into my funeral in an astronaut costume and say, 'Oh my God, I came back too late!'

from March 29, 2016

One other line from "Fear of Flying" has stuck in my head, and that's Adrian saying "Courage is the first principle" as he cajoles Isadora into running away with him.

(It's odd because a paragraph later she's cribbing Joyce that she knows he won't recognize because he's "illiterate", but their definition seems to be closer to "not literary" than not well educated. I think he might be citing Aristotle, actually, the quote sometimes given as "Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others." (Some translations give 'virtues' for 'qualities'))

I'm not crazy about how the character is using that idea in a bullying way, but as I make my way through daily life, and try to make solid decisions and control my flinching response at work, I think there's something to courage being so central. It's kind of like having a back muscle in good working order; those times when my own back is in spasms, I ain't doing much of anything good out in this physical world.

(And as always, courage is by no means the absence of fear, but rising up to meet it and shoulder it aside and do what needs to be done anyway.)
Linify is a pretty sweet art modification program:
(via Gizmodo where they explain a bit about how it works)
To do this, Hyrule must become more indifferent to the player. It must aspire to ignore Link. Zelda has so far followed a spirit of indulgence in its loving details, a carefully crafted adventure that reeks of quality and just-for-you-ness. But a world is not for you. A world needs a substance, an independence, a sense that it doesn't just disappear when you turn around (even if it kinda does). It needs architecture, not level design with themed wallpaper, and environments with their own ecosystems (which were doing just fine before you showed up). Every location can't be plagued with false crises only you can solve, grist for the storymill.
I got this from Derek Yu's Bossfight book about his own game "Spelunky", a brief, thoughtful work. I also liked his Miyamoto quote: "A good idea is something that does not solve just one single problem, but rather can solve multiple problems at once."

Anyway, Thompson's point resonates so deeply with me. It's certainly not the only way a game can be, but the ones that go out of their way to put the story (if any) in a world that feels like it would be there anyway cut some of the deepest places in this gamer's heart. To quote the game Soul Calibur, "The winds blew and the clouds moved on as if they were oblivious to their mortal plight."
The Spelunky book mentions my friend Darius' spelunkyGen, a chrome-based tool that makes its own Spelunky levels, along with an explanation of the process.
I've thought about Gwen Stefani being older than Ted Cruz every day since I heard that information.

from November 23, 2015

Found my keys that had been missing for a day or two. Feel like I should make a list of "places to check when you lose something" but I can't remember what should should be on it besides "the pants you were wearing the other day".

Re: yesterday's giant tuba video... on FB Major Schenk told my mom it should be on my Christmas Wishlist... I wrote "Just thinking how I would get that back up from the family homestead in NJ... I have a Scion xA, my sousaphone fits comfortably inside, but this... I think I would have to strap it to the roof, like a christmas tree...."

http://www.artapp.org/ - Sign a petition to add an "art" category in Apple's app store!
This has been a bad week for the United States, folks. France was directly attacked by terrorists and its response was to promise to house 30,000 Syrian refugees; we weren't and one branch of our government fell over itself to put the brakes on accepting a third of that number. France is defying the very organization that attacked it while we, on the other hand, are doing exactly what that organization hoped we would do. We're being the cowardly bigots they hoped we would be, and as loudly as possible.
These republican governors are chickenshit. So much of conservatism's engine is based on "fear of others".

from October 28, 2015


London has a clever help for what to do with chewing gum. Personally I am filled with righteous fury when I see someone spit that where someone can step on it.
I feel like I may have back slid on patience a bit not getting unduly frustrated by relatively small time delays... not that its ever been a strong point of mine.

It's like I'm a crazy miser sometime; I have a wealth of time in my life and my day, but I begrudge every little nickel and dime, especially when I can easily see how the delay could be otherwise. (4 people in front of me at dunkies? Time to sigh dramatically and roll my eyes! What's up with that?)

from October 22, 2015

Paint night! I was a little "off-model"

(It's the panel that inspired this comic of mine.)

from October 7, 2015


Lovely Short Story about letters from beyond the grave. Resonates a bit for me with the letters I write plotting my super-niece's development, to be handed over when she's 16 or so.

from September 7, 2015

recreational programming and the geekiest of nostalgia and the making of:

from knock knock

The eyes might be the window to the soul but the nose is the front door to the brain.

Kind of old news now, but I love this "Everything's a Product" parody in the Honest Trailer for The Lego Movie:

New glasses!

from July 17, 2015

Last night was "Paint and Wine Night" at work...

...lesson learned, nowadays you can't paint dragons without someone assuming it's a Game of Thrones reference!

from jp porchfest in map form!

Today was the JP Porchfest! It was very gratifying to see people walking around with the 11x17 paper map I hacked together from the website:

Last year's map was easier, because everything fit more easily on one side of a page. People tell me it's fine but I'd love to think of ways of aiding people plotting an afternoon for themselves.

from April 14, 2015


I like making Alien Bill a bit thicker; he looks less like that usurper from Monsters Inc...
I love wikipedia pages that show the scars of edit wars:
In recent years, sousaphones have been available made of fiberglass reinforced plastics instead of brass. Today, the fiberglass versions are mainly used for marching, with brass instruments being used for all other situations. Depending on the model, the fiberglass version normally does not have as dark and rich a tone as the brass (King fiberglass sousaphones tended to have smooth fiberglass and a tone somewhat more like a brass sousaphone; Conn fiberglass sousaphones often had rough fiberglass exteriors and a thinner sound; the Conn was also lighter). Regardless, fiberglass sousaphones are lighter than their brass counterparts and work well for smaller players who could not otherwise play the heavy brass instruments in a marching band. Although the tone of fiberglass models tends to be thinner and less "warm" (earning them the nicknames "Plastic Bugle", "White Trash", "Toilet Bowl", and "Tupperware" among players in some ensembles), it is considered acceptable by the high schools in which the instrument is most common due to the tradeoff in durability, cost, and weight.

I'm tempted to add a "citation needed" to that nickname bit... I do dislike that type of snobbery.

from April 13, 2015


from repeat until death


When I posted about my timehoops, my friend Christa Terry posted her mental image of time, a kind of upward spiral:

I made a rough interactive webtoy of it, which unfortunately isn't playing well with some browsers, so I baked it as a looping GIF here.

I kind of admire how she surely used less time doodling out her view than I did with my timehoops, or my webtoy. In fact I kind of like her rendition better in general! All well, c'est la vie (et la vie et la vie)

from the elevator from the movie "her"

On my devblog, I wrote about the cool moving elevator background in the movie "Her". I included the following GIF to show the idea, as well as a processing applet I made to play with the concept... (mouse over to change the up/down speed)

from December 23, 2013


advent day 23

from December 6, 2013


advent day 6

So last night I kinda took a chance and only used my iPad for art class... I'm still learning how different virtual pens work, and sometimes I veer into the gimmicky, but I was happy with some of the results

from November 15, 2013

Art Class last night. I spent a bit more time with the iPad... sometimes it seems like cheating but it also feels like the most likely tool for me to make stuff people will find worthwhile. Though last night the opposite was true; people liked the angry charcoal work I did (I used a dark background in part to hide the fact I was using the flip side of the pad and there were some smudges from a pervious work on the paper.)

What was interesting about the iPad work is that it got about 5 times better when I zoomed in, the first thing didn't fill the space very well.

Also, the red lines I originally meant as just guidance, but they turned out to be some of my favorite lines of the class. Though my instructor REALLY hates my tendency to use and show multiple marks on the same space... I'm not sure I agree.

from November 8, 2013

Two from art class last night. The second one I did on my iPad; the instructor is encouraging experimenting in general. He and the class liked the iPad one, but to me it seemed gimmicky and weirdly-70s-ish and in general it's harder to finesse things.

"Uh . . . nooo . . . I don't think so . . . shots and me . . . heh heh . . . not a good idea."
I gave him a phony smile and inwardly sighed. Of course they're not a good idea. Shots are never a good idea--THAT'S THE POINT."
Ophira Eisenberg, "Screw Everyone"

from October 25, 2013

"Fasted" yesterday, keeping to under 600 calories for the day.
It wasn't too awful, though I could kind of feel my body panicking a little.
Today I get to enjoy a 2+ lb drop, though that's pretty common to any early days of a diet.
Could not keep that stupid (and inaccurate) line about "why do they call them fasts when they seem to go so slow?" out of my head.
It's common to make facile "just so" stories about why diets might be effective, usually with insufficient scientific backing, but still I like the "just so" story I made/heard for this one: the inner hunter-gatherer experiences a majority of decent days, 5 out of 7, so it doesn't switch the body into "starvation", grab-every-calorie mode. But every day is not as bountiful, so the urge to lay on the excess in the warehouse as fat is less as well-- those calories are apparently needed by the metabolism here and now, for this odd strong minority of bad hunting/gathering days.
I also learned that (some?) Mormons fast monthly, and are encouraged to give the money not spent on food to charity. The Mormon I learned this from says he often feels really alert and focused on Fasting days. This ties in well with that "Just So" story, the body hunter-gatherer thinks it has to up its game for that day.
Figure drawing class last night. Y'know, the pose the model strikes really influences how much I like the result. I suppose the subjective attractiveness of the model does as well, though I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit that. I like the way I got the line of the calf in the first one.

How To Build a Happier Brain A new book on how are brains are a bit wired for negativity, but there's hope...

from October 11, 2013

Art class. The second one with the lighter marks was widely regarded as being better than the other, and I agree, composition wise it's pretty decent, and it was a good balance after the instructor said I had taken his admonition for "fewer marks" too much to heart (I had first tried the rendering the same pose with like 5 or 6 curves, the almond shape of the face echoed in the breast and belly and knee.) He did (kindly) point out that I still tend to pick pretty pedestrian locations to make marks, and recommended studying Matisse of the 50s as the pinnacle of this direction. (Though I'm not 100% sure I like it better than some of my old, more detailed directions)

There was a time in my life where if you'd have said the word 'agile' to me, I would have thought of Spiderman... I miss that time.

Appearance: Eleven men playing rugby while dressed as robots above the waist and ballet dancers below it.

from October 7, 2013

Found glitch art: woke up my laptop to find this pleasing display of the Red Sox, that lasted surprisingly long (then cleared)

from October 4, 2013

I was coding some Processing (for my Advent Calendar) on the T and a gentleman by the name of Jonathan Feinberg happened to sit next to me and comment that he doesn't see much Processing hacking on the T. http://mrfeinberg.com - he's been involved in Processing.py and some other cool stuff like http://www.wordle.net/ and had a link to http://whiteglovetracking.com/ , crowdsourcing tracing Michael Jackson's Billy Jean glove and making art from that data.

I have to rethink my morning strategy of "huddle in a corner of the car" when hacking on T... when I CAN find a seat and thus code on the evening commute, I've had a higher percentage of chances to talk about Processing and programming in general.
My "two favorites" from last night drawing class...

I liked this < 1 minute gesture drawing, though the instructor Doug thinks my multiple line betrays a lack of confidence.

Doug showed us Picasso, and in general was encouraging us to draw less. One result:

Doug praised the courage of the minimalist hair (especially in comparison to big blobs of dark for hair in some of the other pieces) but now that I think about it I might have stolen it from Homer Simpson.

I got permission to show this work. I like it because it's so similar to but so different than mine:

Among other differences, the artist has much better control over her charcoal than I do.

I ended up being a little discouraged by the evening. Doug is encouraging us to get off just aiming for realism as the final goal, but I'm not sure I have enough chops to pull off so much lessness, or that I like the results as much.

from September 27, 2013

Back to drawing class, with my original instructor who was focused on simple shapes and feeling. Then he had us put down our two favorite images on the floor (and teased us about our paper tearing off skills.) Can't tell if I'm getting better; felt a bit rusty. Also I'm feeling more ok about sometimes letting my own (cartoony?) style leak through. I noticed both my works and the one the instructor did in front of me tended to make her torso less long than it was in real life.

Yesterday I brought in my iPhone that was developing a wonky power button... only one side of it was registering presses. Its been less than a year so the guy at the Apple store gave me a new phone.

1. It's kind of remarkable that 15-20 minutes of synching and I have a device on my person functionally indistinguishable from what I've had on my person before the swap, except that I have to re-enter service passwords and I lost my gelaskin art on the back.

2. This kind of service, and the Genius Bar in general, helps keep me with Apple. Though I'm not sure, would Verizon or AT+T or whoever do the same few-questions-asked swaps? Do the Samsung phones have year long warranties? (The same thing goes for laptops, maybe even more so. I think the Genius Bar ranks more highly than the Geek Squad...)

If you wanna meet a nice young lady, then you try to smell your best. A girl don't like nobody walking up in her face smelling like a goat. Then, you don't say crap like 'Hey, don't I know you?' The first thing you ask her is: 'Are you alone?' If she tells you that she's with her boyfriend, then you see if the cat's as big as you. If you don't have no money, just smell right. And for God's sake don't be pulling on her and slapping on her. You don't hit the girls! If you do this, you can't miss.

from AK aug 12 - museums

A more chilled day, taking in some museums.

With EB and his two daughters yesterday-- we followed the fine Rockport tradition of going down to the waterfront and sketching and painting. I'm not sure if I've ever tried to do a landscape before... moderately pleased with the results.

Photo of the same scene:

from playlist july 2013

The songs I added to my regular rotation, not many this month so I kept them in the order I added them. 4-stars marked in red, interesting videos with a "!".
Gas prices don't seem so bad once you realize you're buying explosive liquid dinosaurs

New "prime the canvas" technique in art class.

from July 23, 2013

Drawing teacher was encouraging us to mess around with composition, which led to me trying to punch way above my weight in terms of what I actually know how to pull off.

girl if i could rearrange the alphabet I'd just throw it on the ground so we could fuck in the chaos of impossible communication

The people who think the world will end all at once will be largely responsible for it ending gradually.

Timelapse plant growth looks so alien:

Macro Timelapse from Daniel Csobot on Vimeo.

from July 19, 2013

Two interesting things on Slate this morning: one on the book that lays out the formula virtually every big summer movie follows and a thing on coping with an anxiety disorder that makes me grateful that my general sense of nervousness isn't any more severe than it is...
Latest from my Art Class. We had the 4th off and I had band practice the next week, so I was a little rusty.

from June 28, 2013

New art class! And very different -- it almost felt like an open studio, except the instructor did a quick demo, and I kind of followed her lead, and I'm using a very different form of charcoal. I'm pleased with the results, so much so that I'm worried I'm missing some of the point of the other style. (Though it very likely made these attempts much better.)

from June 22, 2013

Final session of my first drawing class. Did my model have Buddha nature?

from June 20, 2013

Had a small life lesson from my car last night.

I came out from a friend's and found the back hatch hadn't closed properly, the light was on in the back and the red light on the dash. (I had had a bike the rear of it for a while, and was driving around with the back mostly but not quite closed, but that had been earlier in the day.)

Luckily my battery was fine, and the hatch FELT closed after I tried slamming, and I wasn't getting as much wind noise on the way home, so I was ok with figuring out in the comfort of my own driveway.

Get home, get out my phone's flashlight, look for a sensor (since maybe it was closed, just not reading as closed), but figure it's all built into the latch itself. Fiddle with that, manage to lock the latch while the hatch was open which was kind of dumb, can't shut it, undo it, curse, slam it again, it feels shut and I can turn off the interior lights but the red light is still on, make some mental plans to bring in the car to a great garage I know in Cambridge the next day and realize it was the side door that had been not-quite-closed the whole time, the hatch was fine.


On the one hand having a single warning light for every door in the car is suboptimal, but there's a lesson here in not assuming what you know about any given problem.

No matter how smart you are, you're smarter if you take the easy ways when they are available.
Daniel Dennett

There is just one thing--and I'm not it.
Daniel Dennett quoting a student paraphrasing Parmenides.

Same model as previously (the gal, not the caveman dude from last time)

from aht

Yesterday I was dabbling in two different art media... drawing (where the expected model didn't show, so we had a very stocky guy come in as a late replacement) and Processing, where I made Pinworms -- a not very interesting interactive toy.

Man, it was so much tougher to draw this guy than the model last week but I kind of like how my last one came out-- I worry it's a little too cartoonish however.

from June 11, 2013

Another Alien Bill by my co-conspirator James Harvey. Not sure I've ever seen the guy in pants, but at least it sets him apart from that damn Monsters Inc guy.

PROTIP: if you're trying out the upgrade to iOS7, take screenshots of your homescreens, because icon ordering might not be preserved.

from June 8, 2013


6 or 7 weeks in to my CCAE drawing class, and I'm finally drawing something that looks human-ish....instructor thought this was the best one he'd seen from me...

'Is easier to empty your pockets when your pants are on.' -Uninspiring Buddha, if pants had been invented then. #zentrousers

from October 7, 2012

http://media.skysurvey.org/interactive360/index.html Great composite scrollable night sky map. (Suddenly I have an urge to make a daytime version, just a field of blue.)
Clever-- Home Depot has an icon with "Shazam for HOW-TO"-- guess they're using it like an audio QR-code...

October Blender of Love


http://www.thisismyjam.com/kirkjerk - my top 50 continues -- an upbeat euro cover of Mad World may be blasphemy for some but I dig it
"You turned into a cat! A SMALL cat! You violated Conservation of Energy! That's not just an arbitrary rule, it's implied by the form of the quantum Hamiltonian! Rejecting it destroys unitarity and then you get FTL signalling! And cats are COMPLICATED! A human mind can't just visualise a whole cat's anatomy and, and all the cat biochemistry, and what about the *neurology*? How can you go on *thinking* using a cat-sized brain?"
A great bit of fanfic I'm starting about what if Harry took an analytical, scientist approach to the fantasy world we find him in... great thinky stuff!

from extinguished


The idea that the working poor live off the labor of the wealthy rather than the other way around is remarkable.

Your funeral is the one thing in life you can totally blow off [planning for] without suffering any consequences.

Twice today I provided the requisite shouting that helped a commuter get back a dropped item (sunglassses, scarf) another person was trying to get back to them. Talent!

from spaceman paintman


from rubber stamp my love!


Made another rubber stamp... messed up though, forgot to carve it backwards, so I had to "fix that in post" as they say. Used it for the latest Love Blender...
"How is fishing competitive? Man vs. fish?"
"No, man vs. man. The weighing, the measuring-- I respect anything that rewards you for silence."
Bert Cooper and Roger Sterling, "Mad Men"

Lots of windows can distract you--but they can also let in a lot of light.

The beauty of America is that every idiot gets to have their stupid, wrong-headed beliefs respected.

July Blender of Love

http://www.salon.com/2012/07/01/southern_values_revived/ - wow. Seeing the current conservative culture war as Revenge of the Plantation Owners, the Civil War Part Deux...

from slashmaze


slashmaze - source
(click to redraw)
Our marketing director Gerard LaFond pointed me to an upcoming book by his co-collaborator (and Serious Games superstar) Ian Bogost... the books is called 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 and that happens to be a working program for the Commodore 64 that generates a pattern very much like you see here.

I'm looking forward to the book! Should be a good read.
http://imgur.com/pOXX1 - creepiest patent image ever? (via ranjit)
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is -- brilliant metaphor... living la vida "straight white male" is the easy mode in the game of life.
The reason for your complaint, it seems to me, is the constraint which your intellect imposes upon your imagination...you reject too soon and too severely.
Freud quoting Poet Schiller

So the man who falls in love with beauty is quite different than the man who loves a girl and feels she is beautiful and can see what is beautiful about her.
Donald Winnicott

The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion
The Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams and ratified by only the third ever unanimous vote of the US Senate.
Man, what you learn reading Lamebook sometimes!

from a valentine for amber


(mouse around to change flow)

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/02/10/the_ticking_clock Oy. Israel's (no relation) gonna attack Iran this year. Just when the world seemed a little more settled down.
Listen, when I was a kid, my mother said to me: 'Bruce, one day you're going to die. You're going to die if you worry or you don't worry.' I was brought up with that philosophy, so I don't worry.
Bruce Everiss

from basalmiq and the big blue arrow


For my devblog I made a mockup of basalmiq's big blue arrow. The way it always rotates to point to the middle of the thing is a subtle but terrific bit of User Interface design!
A thing about time is how things you anticipate (trips, graduations, product launches. etc) can all come to pass no matter how far ahead, but so does growing older...
http://www.mcfunkypants.com/nanoLD/ Loved Pile o' Gears, the made-in-48-minutes nanogames. Games that provide accomplishment w/o overstaying their welcome!

from the kart jam


I'm planning on hosting a small Boston get-together for the GDC Pirate Kart Weekend Jam. Let me know if you're interested in the details.
http://jalopnik.com/5883780/the-dark-underworld-of-toy-cars/ kinda fun look at the dark underside of toy cars

from diy797


This is an interactive HTML5/processing.js art piece inspired by Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing 797 as mentioned in my photos from MASS MoCA blog entry yesterday.

Use the mouse to act as the first drafter and draw an irregular horizontal line near the top of the space, the computer will act as the second through fourth drafters and try to copy it in red, yellow, and blue markers, until the bottom of the space is reached.

Press any key to toggle "fast draw" mode.

This HTML5 Canvas app won't work in IE: instead, IE users can try the Java version.
http://xkcd.com/945/ ... I guess sympathtic "I'm sorry..."s always carry an implicit "...that there's nothing I can do to really help"
Looking at all ten pages of my Amazon wishlist. Man, stuff from 7 or 8 years ago, when I still wanted CDs.

from mass moca in december

(1 comment)
Last December Amber and I took a weekend mini-break to Western Mass, the centerpiece of which was a daytrip to MASS MoCA. This contemporary art museum is about as far west as you can be and still be in Mass.

For more information you can check out this Artsy.net page about Sol Lewitt as well.
Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.

from )))))

So one suggestion if you have a typewriter, especially an attractive older one (IMO) is to just leave it out with a piece of paper in it and see what you or other folks tap out...

Kinda bummed about the lack of a closing ) in that, though.

I also wrote a holiday note to my high school English teacher (I thought it was a nice to split the difference between a word processed print out and forcing her to read my handwriting...)

Finally a typewriter is kind of nice to address an envelope with. I suppose some printers make that work as well, but I've never tried to figure it out.
When an author is writing a manuscript and the text refers to a specific page but the pagination isn't set- is there pseudo-markup for that?
So did China peacefullytransform from a bit of a cult of personality to a technocratic state? If that's about the size of it, kudos to them.
Mirroring trends in modern video games, Lego instruction booklets have gotten more explicit and hand-holdy.
The Lego booklets now tell you just what pieces will be used in this step, and start by suggesting/instructing one to sort by color first.
I guess a side benefit of the hand holding is it would make older/younger builder cooperation easier- here, sort these, or here, find these for the next step.
Having to any decorative decals yourself to the Lego bricks is kind of a drag, though.

from i smell flowers


--I was looking at some of the random art and sketch programs I have on my iPad (before I realized Art Studio was hands down the best) and I found this-- err-- retouching of a photo I had taken of Amber, near Niagara Falls. I assume I made it, but have no recollection of what I might be on about, but it makes me kind of laugh...

from the alien bill strut

(1 comment)

--An Alien Bill I commissioned from Madam Luna -- also, there was a version with a pink background. Nice Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy) influence!
Heh, 8/02/11 -> 802.11 day. Cute Wifi joke! (That won't come around too often!)
Damn it I'm already sick of reading "double dip". Sometimes I think I'm just addicted to fretting. Feed the need, economy!

from sortasuper

Another week's worth of my entries in Miller's 30 Day Drawing Challenge:Superheroes. (Not too late to join in!)
Power corrupts: this is not a metaphor. And writers were instantly corrupted by the mad power of choice.
Martin Amis, The Pregnant Widow. This is why I have trouble writing.

The muscular little charcoal birds, thirteen of them, were working, climbing, far above the mountaintops. Nearer the ground, the yellow canarini (they were actually much bigger than canaries) gave a sudden unanimous cackle. They weren't laughing at him, he realised, or not at him in particular. They were laughing at human beings. What was it about us that they found so funny?
We're birds! they were saying. And we fly! All day we do what you do in your dreams. We fly!
Martin Amis "The Pregnant Widow"

If you don't have time to drink 8 glasses of water a day, at least leave your mouth open during rain storms.

Is it Penny Arcade's mention of "El Shaddai" or the "lord of lords" idea leading to Duke Nuke'em "Hail to the King" ads on the Amy Grant song video?
Margaritas taste a whole lot better when you're not pregnant.

from the view from 501 boylston


This is the view from the top step of my workplace, 501 Boylston. (Usually there aren't headless people walking around though.)

I put it together with a great free iPhone app from Microsoft... photosynth. It's a bit like some other panoramic apps I've shown here but it makes these interactive pieces that angle and stitch the separate views in real time, so you don't get the fish-eye effect of just mapping the whole thing onto a flat surface.

The other interesting thing about the app is how it's in Microsoft's "authentically digital" Metro style, as seen on the new Windows Phones - it gets rid of the chrome, random shading and softening and 3Ding that most software has these days. I think I digit it but I'm not sure.
Perfect might be the enemy of good, but good enough is the enemy of brilliant.

Speaking of things that are gross, why do cats who always pee and poop in their litter box feel like they can just barf anywhere they want?

8 years to the day when Bush put on that costume and falsely declared "Mission: Accomplished."

Well-timed: 65th anniversary of Hitler's Death announcement, 8th anniversary of "Mission Accomplished", and interrupted Trump's Apprentice.
That said, I'm in the anti-gloating side. Hopefully this further disrupts Al-Qaeda, but still, dancing on his grave is not helpful.
the secret life of libraries - nice piece on the institution.
Was Du erlebst, kann keine Macht der Welt Dir rauben. [What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you]
Viktor Frankl

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.
Martin Luther King, Jr

Man walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "Gimme a drink." Bartender says, "Why should I? You're so drunk your breath gives me a nosebleed."
Henny Youngman as envisioned by Deanne Stillman

from a decade of kisrael.com

Holy Yikes, today this blog is

click for fullsize

The website itself is a bit older than that, and I've been quote journaling since early 1997, but still: December 30, 2000 is when I started this thing, and I'm still not sure when it's going to end.

I've updated every day. For a while I was really strict about never missing a day, then a technical glitch forced a miss, now I'm a little bit looser, but I make up a skipped day. (I think some of the creaky Perl scripts that power this site kind of depend on there being content every day.)

A decade. That's the same amount of time that covers, say, all my time in Cleveland plus my years at Tufts. 7 jobs, 1 divorce, 5 living spaces, 2 cars... I dunno, what are some other interesting things to quantify?

The site has morphed over the years, going from a talk-y blog format quickly into a comment plus 2 or 3 interesting things goal, to the tumbl'r/twitter-ish it is today, where I try to get at least one thing worth taking in, and then any fool thought that pops into my head. Plus there's that "do I call it kisrael.com or kirkjerk.com" issue that'll probably be around forever.

This site is a kind of anchor for me, and along with my private "mundane diary" represents my attempt to track my life-- sure, this decade has gone by faster than any I'd lived previously, as is the nature of decades, but I really do feel I have some footprints to look back on. (And I go through phases where I enjoy looking at the restrospect "this day on the site in years past" feature. I wish I knew a way of preserving it "in perpetuity" even when I pass on, though I know it's some unfounded bit of vanity to assume anyone would want to look at it.

Fun fact: I had the idea for making this blog around the end of 2000, and rushed to get it in the last few days so I could say it started "in 2000". Cute idea, though it makes my archive by month page look a bit unbalanced.

Ah well, here's to ten more years!

Tech note... today's collage consists of 400 images (out of about ten times that total) randomly picked from my "journal.aux" directory. I ponied up for the full license for the software so let me know if you have any clever ideas for making something similar...

from the robot that never was


--The robot for the 24 Hour Comics Day entry I'm not writing.
I'm writing something much crappier and more self-indulgent instead!

I'm glad [Dunkin Donuts] doesn't call munchkins 'donut balls'.

About to start 24 Hour Comics Day! @cobiegoesboom will be over soon. Precious little idea what I'm going to make my comic about.
http://www.noupe.com/how-tos/creative-examples-of-infographics.html - nice examples of infographics

from offer an apple


--I'm bummed this didn't come out as pretty as Amber. Still I loved the apple appeal.

The old jingle "Oh My Eskimo Pie". Funny name. Mildly racist? What's Eskimo Glass of Water, an ice cube? Eskimo Turkey- a Frozen Turkey?
The noisiness of a Harley, rooted in engine inefficiency, makes it the exact parallel to the peacock's tail for burly bikers (though less attractive to normal humans.)
Obama's "We can absorb a terrorist attack." is controversial?? He shoulda said "if they hit us again we're hosed"?? Hint: "We'll do everything we can to prevent it" immediately follows.
http://beautifulpixels.com/iphone/10-simple-iphone-backgrounds/ - blueprints one is so clever

from alien billin'


--Portrait of Alien Bill I comissioned from HARVEYJAMES... Check out the other stuff from this batch he did.
HOW THE MIND WORKS FOR DUMMIES (by Amber M and Kirk I, 2010):
It's complicated. You wouldn't understand. THE END.

It was to Forks that I now exiled myself-an action that I took with great horror. I detested Forks.
That's from the first few pages of Twilight, I stopped reading shortly thereafter. I mean, I'm not quite sure she knows what "exile" means... surprised they couldn't find an editor for Stephanie Meyer.
Coffee separates us from the dead. Tea separates us from the animals.

Ballmer and the MS Response to the iPad - He says it's Windows(TM) for the "Slates". OK, that's fair, but funnily enough, avoiding windows (no TM) is a UI strength of the iPad.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damon_Runyon - whoa -- Damon "Guys and Dolls" Runyon helped invent the Roller Derby as we know it!
The glass spiral staircase at the Boston Apple store:

Damn it I forget how much more effective and less distracting my energetic work "!psyched" playlist is that my other playlists.

from the bigger the bill


--Think about getting a sticker or two made of good old alien bill
iPhone wallpaper FTW http://www.madin.jp/diary/graphics/2010/pacwall.png

EB after his 1 year old's birthday party.
Sand in wet denim chafes, he says.

from tvland

click to play

tvland - source - built with processing
--an animation based on a drawing I made on Marnie's PC in the very early 90s...use the mouse to speed up, slow down, or reverse the animation!

from an april visual haiku

To view this content, you need to install Java from java.com
aprilamber - source - built with processing

Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill baby drill' should have to report to the Gulf coast today for cleanup duty

The MBTA distribution of plastic tap and go Charlie Cards, vs disposable tickets, is so weirdly half-assed. They just leave them lying around, or you gotta find someone to ask....

from turtledoodle


Guess this requires Microsoft's Silverlight plugin... this was made in Small Basic, a cute little IDE/language not entirely dissimilar form my beloved Processing - a less powerful language but a much slicker IDE. (Ha, nice to see them port the old QBASIC classic Gorillas.)

It was cool that they threw in a Logo-ish turtle... but it's funny how this compares unfavorably to Atari LOGO, with its 4 turtles and collision events and all.

this page seems to be a decent starting point for Small Basic.
http://www.simple-talk.com/dotnet/.net-tools/microsoft-small-basic-for-.net/ -
Small BASIC. I often lament how computers don't boot into BASIC - that was important for where I am now. Guess this could in theory help.
I liked PocketC, little IDE for writing/running stuff on Palm. Wonder if I could make an iPhoneable Javascript-based clone-ish thing.
Cnn.com says "Massachusetts was averaging 22 inches across the state". Boston: zero inches. Someone in MA must be getting a LOT for that avg.
http://brenelz.com/blog/firebug-in-ie-a-dream-come-true/ - firebug lite for IE... a bit glitchy, but better than nothing
I took a Meyers-Briggs test. Turns out I'm a "Briggs."

Just a few weeks until Daylight Savings - hooray!

from c:\data\media\images\personalhistory\


http://www.cracked.com/photoshop_85_if-video-games-were-realistic/ - more realistic video games
http://safetycenter.navy.mil/photo/index.asp - Naval Safety Center Photo of the Week. Kind of a less wacky "Safety FAIL" blog.
http://www.foddy.net/Cricket.html - repost of a fun little Cricket game. Great use of Box2D.
http://www.mvhsdrama.com/50sSlang.htm - slang of the 50s. Like crazy, man.
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/C-3PX - Cracked was making fun of it but I find something really appealing about a C3P0 assassin droid.

from c:\data\media\images\pixeltime\

Images by other people I saved from long-lost Pixeltime.

You can see my Pixeltime tribute page for more things I did.

The final two are a nice tiny alphabet by Nick, which inspired my own version that added lower case, and then I must've used the expanded version of Nick's for reference.

I keep meaning to try to make a site that captures some of the old fun of pixeltime, even though it would mean I'd be looking at many, many pictures of pixelated penises. (The nature of public art forums, alas)

Had skipped shaving for too many days, went back to no-electric razor for the first time in years. Had forgotten the pleasantness of a hot water shave.

from play that funky music white toy

Another Etcha-a-Sketch Animator miniproject... I'm not sure if I ever tried to use it as a Poor Man's Music Sequencer before.

Random other Etch-A-Sketch Animator links, my use of it as a Poor Man's Web Cam (virtual version), the fun animations that came in the instructions with it back in the day, and a commercial that shows just how rad it was.

And make no mistake - it was pretty rad. 12 frames of 40x30 pixels (oddly, the exact same size I had chosen for small gif cinema) and the ability to string them together in any order, up to 96 steps, its neat screechy (but not generally grating) sounds, and an interface that was easy enough to learn, but lacked any editing tools beyond "copy and paste this whole frame", so if a kid really wanted to make something cool, they really had to think it out a bit...
One of the worst bits about tinyurl'ing in twitter is when you open a series of links in tabs and have lost which page came from where...
USA might stay dominant because of...English? - USA might stay dominant because of...English? Like England did?
Moslems dig on green, in part it's in the middle of the spectrum. I dig that logic of moderation, and like green, though I can't decide if my "favorite" is green or blue.
bankruptcy as shipwreck - bankruptcy as shipwreck infographic

from because what you really wanted to see today was a photo of my bathroom walls, right?


My latest apartment project! Still potentially a work-in-progress, but also at a point where I could leave off for a while and be happy with how it looks and whom it reminds me of.

I meant it to be chaotic but it turned into a big letter Q, with my dad on thin ice at the center, FoSO as the tail of the Q, then clockwise from top it's Ksenia on the stairs, me with EB+EBSO in our worker outfits, my Aunt, Mom, and Uncle perched on Irish rocks, my buddy Mike and a pal of his, having beers in the afternoon on their roadtrip to Boston, Jane making a muscle, Professor Couch from Tufts, and Mo, Veronika, and V's friend B in line at the Statue of Liberty. On the facing wall, clockwise from top-left it's Sarah in Groucho glasses, Josh raising Erin, JZ imitating Blue Man, and Mr. Ibis contemplating a coconut.

Unshown here are a few more photos, a family photo from when I was may 10 or so (with my folks in Salvation Army uniform), a Prom photo that I cherish in large part because the background was made of extra of the material used to make my date's dress, and then a semi-diptych of diploma-accepting photos, my mom with her masters and me at the end of high school (my Aunt assembled that and had it down here in what was her workspace.)

The photos are meant to be chosen for visual appeal as well as emotional value to me. There were a few people I just don't have interesting photos of, and now I need to buy more frames. (Mostly these are $2 wonders from Family Dollar.)

Inspired a bit by Henry Miller's bathroom, though I kept it more friends-and-family-ish.

If nothing else, the bathroom is a lot less bare now!
When you think about it, the whole process is rather strange: Northern Europeans and some sub-Saharan Africans have become "mampires," mutants that live off the milk of another species.
Cochran/Harpending, "The 10,000 Year Explosion"

Anyone who says Dustin Pedroia wouldn't be even cooler with a jetpack and sixteen-foot metal claws is just lying.

Rules for Programmers: Every class need a comment. Any time you do something in a complex way when there's an obvious simple or hardcoded way: EXPLAIN WHY.
notepad++ seems like a good editor. Using Firefox has made me appreciate a IDE-ish "restore open docs", tho I guess textpad coulda done it.

from oh james harvey!

(1 comment)

I commissioned this work from HARVEYJAMES because A. it was sort of a support a starving artist thing and B. his stuff is pretty awesome. (His LJ is pretty great too.)

I didn't know what to request, so I asked him to take inspiration from 10 hotties in outer space, "And maybe a dead or vanquished 60s star trek baddie like foe." I dig the Barbarella meets Sgt Pepper vibe he came up with!
"The greatest trick the square root of negative one ever pulled was convincing the world that it didn't exist."

The Word Wasn't Meant is a terrific name for a webcomic. And a pretty good webcomic. Yay Boston Geeks.
I have a dream-someday I will start a Java project, and they'll say "hey we're using the framework you know+dig" and not "hey! learn this!"

from dreamclock

click to run

dreamclock - source - built with processing
A timepiece that came to me in a dream last Tuesday morning. I was toying with making an hour and minute ring, but it I had an attack of lazy, plus I kind of like keeping closer to my subconsciousness' rambling.

I'm not sure if it "means" anything, except I did have Java on my mind last week. Also I'm happy that I could punch out a first draft of this in literally 5 or 10 minutes, in terms of programming mojo and convenient tools.
MA legislature... 6 3/4% sales tax? Really? I hate dumbass numbers like that. At least make it the nearest damn penny. (5% was pretty cool)
heh, years later this tiny pixel alphabet is still coming in useful...
Kate points out http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/silk/ a nice and extensive set of Creative Commons icons
(to dylan on facebook)
Holy cats, a goatee?

Hey remember when we were in like 6th grade and I was jealous 'cause you were starting to get acne and I wasn't yet? I'm over that now.
One thing I appreciate about my new company: during my whole contracting gig, I never saw them misspell my last name.

from watercolors


--Saturday I joined in with EBB and her set of watercolors (much more manageable than fingerpaints, points out EBB's mama.) It's tough to put aside my doodle-centric style, or at least try to meld it with the idea of putting color on paper.
A poem is no place for an idea.
Edgar Watson Howe.
(This might be why I like prose more than poetry.)

from drawblood


This is no longer very browser friendly - see its sequel drawblood4
To view this content, you need to install Java from java.com
drawblood - source - built with processing

A kind of macabre paint program, draw with the mouse, and watch...

this program I made in literally 10 minutes during the MIT Mystery Hunt; I joined the goings-on at Glorious Trainwreck's KotMK 19 with half hour left, tried to make something new, realized after 20 minutes it just wasn't happening, and so made this simple sketch program... I had already made something like this on the Palm, but in b+w only, and without the animation.

Personal News of the Moment
In other news I got laid off today. I'm pretty relaxed about it thus far. I think I have one reasonably solid lead, and am trying to find the balance between "OMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD THE ECONOMY ***SUCKS*** AND WHAT AM I GONNA DO" and taking a breath, and actually enjoying that I have a pretty generous severance situation going, not to mention some very cheap living options.

Not like it hasn't happened before. This recession is probably worse than the previous one, but Tech isn't the ground zero it was previously.

My '99 self would be hyper impressed by the web on iPhone. Would my '89 self be impressed that it took 15 years from the 1st web browsers?
Teaser headline I did not expect: "Did Beatniks Fuel the Financial Crisis?"
Ah, joy... "restructuring" meeting. Pulse going 120 bpm! Stay tuned.
Only now, trying to figure if I get the axe or not, do I notice that the 6 digits from my RSA security keyfob could be made into an I-ching
But are odd numbers broken i-ching bars or unbroken? How do you calibrate an oracle?
Probably getting the axe. Retroactively, I wonder if my manager was being especially nice to me, though who knows if he knew. Probably.
So, yeah, laid off. One of my better send off packages, 1 month of "employment", 4 weeks severance. Should I enjoy the time or rush back?

from betch betch betch


play with it online

Just an odd little sketch program. Use the mouse to paint, press the button to "erase", press space to clear. More of the sordid history of my attempt at a pre-emptive Glorious Trainwreck on the Glorious Trainwrecks website.

Ramble of the Moment
So I kind of lied about the Hunt keeping me so busy I can't post. I ducked home last night, and in general... I don't know. I don't have a great temperament for this. I lack the gumption to just keep bashing my head against a seemingly-intractable problem until it starts to shift, to pursue a dozen dead ends until finally some stupid obscure reprocessing of the materials bears fruit.

And sometimes you can clearly make a ton of progress, and then still be stuck stuck stuck. One neat puzzle was a bunch of letters from various logos, along with categories. With heavy use of Google images through the course of 8 hours we got them all, but we have no great idea what to do with the resulting names. The first letters don't spell anything, or make a caesar cipher, it doesn't seem long enough to be a cryptogram, other tricks of applying certain numbers (like which letter in the word was excerpted) having come up with anything.

You look at some of these problems, they're not designed to tell you what the puzzle is... one is called Micronauts, there's a downloadable PDF... seemingly blank, though somewhere on it is a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny puzzle that you have to search for or know someone who can analyze this kind of document.

Bleh. I enjoy the camaraderie of it, but the event itself, not so much. In form it's a bit like the comic jam or the OLPC physics game jam, but I really enjoy those events that were about individual and team creativity, rather than running your own head against someone else's devious creativity in encrypting the solution word in the most obscure and frustrating way they can.

So, to build on what I twittered... being presented with a series of puzzles, puzzles where you assume other people will find the answers but you can't figure out what the question is... it's a little bit too much like real life.

MIT Mystery Hunt: Just in case you think life doesn't have enough seemingly intractable problems that probably have answers you'll never get

from obamaha

Poster of the Moment
--I'm no Obama! Make your own at Obamaicon.me.

Via Trunkbutt, whose only example with her baby-filled belly was much wittier and well done than my more prosaic effort:

Great Gerrymandering Slideshow: http://www.slate.com/id/2208216/
Retweet from cmg: WSJ commentary on the 7 most horrible things about Bush presidency: http://tinyurl.com/9qyhpq
Watching some guys fixing the elevator in my building, I realize that the shafts have windows. Bummer that the elevators don't!
Harper's Index on Bush: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Lulz: http://harpers.org/archive/2009/01/0082319
This whole eating/going to the bathroom thing is so weird. I think plants have the right idea... photosynthesis ftw!
SakuraYule ends his FAQs' credits: "And a special thank you to whoever made life possible. I live mine with a smile.". Not a bad outlook.
Is it just me or are the 3 Musketeers more known for being the 3 Sword Guys? And the candybar should go back to having 3 different sections.
Tout le sang qui coule est rouge!
Gene Bullard

from "i dunno, alaska"

(1 comment)
Is it Christmas yet?

Video of the Moment

--Heheh, they got some of the weapons wrong but like Doktor Puppykicker says on mighty god king where I got it, "More pranks should end with police intervention."

Quote of the Moment
The winter sky of southeastern Alaska is a Talmud of gray, an inexhaustible commentary on a Torah of rain clouds and dying light.
Michael Chabon, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union".
Very good read. An appealing mix of Yiddish culture and Noir detective work, set in a present day that followed an alternate history where Israel didn't survive 1948, and the primary Jewish homeland is a special set aside in Alaska, due to revert back to USA control. It doesn't quite sustain through the whole thing, gets a little overwhelmed with the action elements, but still, one of the best things I read this year.

Doodle of the Moment

--"Didn't have enough coloring books as a kid?" asks my Aunt. Feh!

bad telemarketing: "Well what *part* of our resort literature weren't you interested in?" / "Next time you're having dinner, don't pick up!"
A ticking clock has a huge physical and metaphysical loudness, especially when you're trying to get to sleep.
Hoo-goddam-ray for the moneybag yankees. Hope the recession makes them choke on their stadium and their payroll.
caption removed from Young Astronauts in Love: "*burp*. oy, that's the thing about being a spaceman. you burp, you remember it for a while"
Man, I hate those OS / Graphics Card / Chipset / Energy Star stickers they slap on laptop wristrests, like a damn NASCAR racer wannabe.
Things I would not know about if not for daytime TV: the "Snuggie", a blanket with sleeves. Looks like robes for really, really lazy monks.
I think the real benefit to working on a PC rather than a laptop at a desk is less angsty walking to think about the next bit.

from more kirk than you require

A while back (October 1999) I started making the "kirkarchive", an HTML-ish way of keeping track of some stuff I didn't really have a use for but didn't want to lose.

For wont of something better to post today, I've decided to start making the kirkarchive online. And what better way than with these early 90s handdrawn icons I made when I was webmaster of Tufts' compsci department's domain...

Computer Engineering

Class Listing

Computer Science

Electrical Engineering


Students at CS

Staff at CS


link to Tufts (1)

link to Tufts (2)

link to Earthcom

link to ICCI conference

The leftmost green figure in "Staff at CS" is actually an almost-recognizable version of Professor Schmolze, who tragically died in 2006.

Some of the props seem kind of well-done to me, but I get better results these days by doodling larger and then shrinking... less pixel-y, and this isn't very good pixel art.

Quote of the Moment
Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff.
Frank Zappa

Good evening; dropped of 8-days-of-hannukah-ginger-beer, did a UU covenant group on holidays+meaning, celebrated at bar for friends new job
No matter how interesting the people in pictures from parties I threw years ago, I'm just as or more interested in the layout and decoration
So Apple made some nifty new bass-y earbuds. With a built in mic. But, technically, not for iPhone... volume control won't work etc. Eh?
Wow, $10 for 10 minutes of massage at Burlington Mall.... so damn worth it.

from what you get after one six hour intensive introduction to flash class


from manholespotting

Ugh, break-up today.

My fault.

Sigh, like Milan Kundera wrote "We never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come."

Japan of the Moment
So one odd series of photograph I took in Japan were manhole covers. Not every one I saw, but I saw a few that caught my eye, either because of design, or with a splash of cover, or because the hole was in grass instead of asphault, etc...

That last one probably is the one that got me noticing them on one of the first days, but I didn't think to photograph it 'til the end.

from grape-grabbin', water-sippin' excitement!


To view this content, you need to install Java from java.com

virtual tantalus
source - built in processing

from one must imagine sisyphus happy


(click for remade version)

virtual sisyphus
source - built in processing

from back to boston

One final bit of silly holiday virtual arts+crafts:

It didn't scale down to small gif cinema standards so I decided to focus on the snowman:

from the total perspective atari vortex

I don't like this weather.

Joke of the Moment
A seeker has heard that the wisest guru in all of India lives atop India's highest mountain. So the seeker treks over hill and Delhi until he reaches the fabled mountain. It's incredibly steep, and more than once he slips and falls. By the time he reaches the top, he is full of cuts and bruises, but there is the guru, sitting cross-legged in front of his cave.

"O, wise guru," the seeker says, "I have come to you to ask what the secret of life is."

"Ah, yes, the secret of life," the guru says, "The secret of life is a teacup."

"A teacup? I came all the way up here to find the meaning of life, and you tell me it's a teacup!"

The guru shrugs. "So maybe it isn't a teacup."

from Cathcart and Klein's "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes"
I love this one, it's take on the struggle and possible futility of the search for Ultimate Truth.

Animation of the Moment
--An Atari Nightmare by Harveyjames, from this TGQ thread, based on my animations. Not sure if this thumbnail does justice to the full version.

from wet and cool

Lovely day today, wet and cool, like early spring.

I've had a feeling as if it is getting brighter earlier, but according to that java toy I made, that's an illusion. Maybe I'm responding to the angle of the light at a certain time or something.

Nice to know that solstice is almost here.

Craft of the Moment

The bottom row is new, the top one is from the other day. Can someone tell me their relationship?

Game of the Moment
Cute gambeboy-looking physics-y game for Windows, Spout. Your little block ship has a thruster of pixels you can turn in any direction, so you not only have to use it to fly upwards, you have to use it to burn the blockage in your path, but without sending yourself back to the floor.

Quote of the Moment
Seek simplicity, and distrust it.
Alfred North Whitehead

from atariparty

So, I realized I spent a little too much time making the following graphic of running Atari 2600 characters yesterday:

It's kind of cool 'cause you can put it end to end:

(That's Berzerk's shootist, Burgertime's Chef, Donkey Kong's Mario, HERO's hero, Fast Eddie, Tron Deadly Discs' Tron, Jungle Hunt's Adventurer, Keystone Kaper's Kop, Mountain King's would-be king, and Pitfall Harry.)

When I thought back to what it took to make those, it seems a little crazy: Yeesh! No wonder it killed an afternoon/evening. It's quite a little Virtual Crafts project, but I get the feeling it somehow garners less respect than, say, knitting something would.

My housemate wrote about his irritation with people who say "You must have too much free time on your hands.". And while I agree with him, that's an absolutely rude, dismissive, and small-souled thing to say, in at least this case I could almost see their point.

I need to get some tools to automate manipulating animated GIFs, that would have sped things up.

Exchange of the Moment
Aunt Susan: "See? Aren't I just the lowest-maintenance relative you have?"
Me: "Well... there's my dad. We just have to mow over where he's buried! But I think we contract out to a guy for that."
2007.12.09. Ah, macabre humor. My favorite!

Sports of the Moment
So the Patriots won an important game yesterday, with a dominating second half against the #1 Defense Steelers, and kept thoughts of a perfect season alive. In the week-long leadup, one of the Steelers was dumb enough to "guarantee" a victory, and Brady took special pride in burning him several times during the game.

Just for fun (and out of respect, not schadenfreude) I hit fansite "Stillers.com" (gotta appreciate the name) and read stuff like this article. That article and a few others rip on the Patriot's fanbase, not just for being fair-weatherish (not utterly unfounded, but I suspect most hardcore, longterm fandbases like the Steelers and the Packers put down roots in the rich soil of a phenomenal team run and accompanying bandwagon) but because the Red Sox are still first in the hearts and minds in the area.

To which I can only reply, neener-neener.

from happy birthday ebling!

Ended up heading up to Rockport to help EvilB before his daughter's first birhday party tomorrow, so not much time for an update... but here are some fireworks I tried to take pictures of last Friday. I think it was Arlington's centennial or something:

That's actually from the end of the street where I live. It's always kind of cool to be able to see fireworks from your house.

from happy sink! happy sink!

I finally got my "CharlieCard" pass via work. It's a delight just shoving my wallet at a sensor instead of carefully feeding in a ticket and waiting for it to reemerge.

(I'm hard pressed to remember how the old monthly passes were read, though... did you have to swipe them through some kind of strip reader?)

For what it's worth, I have an extra Link (T and Bus) pass good 'til the end of March if anyone wants it.

Photos of the moment
So I've just noticed that it's pretty easy to see faces in the three sinks in the restroom at work...

Happy Sink!

Happy Sink!

Very very upset sink!

Of course the problem is once you notice something like this it's difficult to NOT see it. Too bad there's 3 instead of 2 sinks, you'd have nice "drama masks of comedy and tragedy" matched set.

from it's jane! and jane's bicep!

Job interview today.

My neck issue seems to be going away. The trouble is that by the end I was trying multiple strategies and now I'm less certain about what's most useful to do.

Professional massage only seemed to help for a short while. I'm still less certain about my old stand-by of strict back sleeping. An anti-inflammatory Advil before bedtime seemed correlated with the improvement, along with finally getting around to using that grinding/kneading massage chairback cushion My Ever Lovin' Aunt Susan gave me a few Christmases ago. Possibly it was just a matter of time, though the discomfort level fluctuated before this.

My Doctor/Yoga Instructor gave his blessing to popping a bit of Flexeril if I thought it would help. I was thinking that the way it both lets muscles relax and fuzzes you out might help me sleep, but by the time I saw him to ask about it, other stuff was working, and it seemed like overkill.

The funny thing is my doctor doesn't think the scattershot approach is such a bad thing... he says that the goal is to just be feeling better. Still, I'd not to develop a ritual of 5 things to do every time I get this kind of pain, if only 2 of them really help.

Project of the Moment
Ok, admittedly this is nothing innovative, but assembling my "bestof" pages, plus this one montage wall I'm working on for in front of my desk made me look into making a few more of these:

The photo is in the old, Taxware parking lot, but I got clever with layers, and was able to extract this version as well:

I do dig the shot, strength with a hint of whimsy. I'm not sure which version I like more.

(I may also have been reminded of these things by a similar project by local SmartRoutes reporter Jeff Larson. At Krazy Karry's (local burger place), he has some posters up advertising his Toons for Miracles fundraiser for Children's Hospital.)

It was a lot easier using a tablet PC for this one, drawing directly on the screen, but I've been messing quite a few up, and realizing that most photos don't convert well into this format, and even when they do, I really need to think carefully about penwidth and stuff like that. So I'd say my works take a tad more skill than just tracing, but not much. (Larson's stuff is making more sophisticated use of color boundaries.)

Anecdote of the Moment
Launching a new children's book, Dr. Dan the Bandage Man, Richard Leo Simon decided to include a free gift of six Band-Aids with each copy. He cabled a friend at the manufacturer Johnson and Johnson: "Please ship half million Band-Aids immediately." Back came the reply: "Band-Aids on the way. What the hell happened to you?"
via Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes.

from telefission

Is it just me, or is it a little difficult to talk trash about television without sounding a bit too elitist? (The whole Onion Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television effect...)

So anyway, I still have this sniffle, and my upper back/shoulder has been hurting for a couple of days, so I thought last night I'd go ahead and catch up on "Top Chef", which is about the only thing I've been purposefully tuning in for over the past year, other than sports. (Though I have been enjoying some TV-on-DVD series that Miller and FoSO have been setting up, like "Supernatural".)

Circa 1992ish, on Marnie's Family PC
I decided the difficulty of finding a comfortable position justified my not trying to multitask with reading or the web. So I just watched. But then I started to observe a bit, and I realized how crazily passive it can be, the whole "zoning out" thing. I suspect the main culprits are the commercials, especially with their sheer repetition. (There's this one Sears spot in particular, some skinny dude talking about how with his martial art "you have to be fit all over"...oddly they play that over a picture of a treadmill, which isn't much of an "all over" fitness machine.)

It kind of scared me how little thought I was doing, how I was just kind of absorbing. I mean sometimes I'd have a critical thought about the program, or work to pick up some detail of a commercial, but mostly... bleh.

This isn't meant to be critical of people who do dig TV... I know there is a lot of nifty stuff on, and it can actually be a useful form of relaxation, one of the easier and more interesting ways of getting to an alpha wave state, for what it's worth.

In Middle School and I guess before, I watched a LOT of television, the TV would be on from the end of school until bedtime. (I'm not sure if I'd be multitasking with books or legos or not then.) In upstate New York there were years where clever channel surfing would let you watch an entire evening of MASH or Benson. Those times likely helped shape me as a person, at least a bit. I don't feel I'm very good at developing stories, coming up with narratives from scratch... could being fed all those shows have something to do with it?

Quote of the Moment
Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third eye.
Bill Hicks
... of course I saw this Slashdot fortune right before the night of Top Chef, so it may have influenced my observations a tad.

from xena warrior planet

You know, reading how about rather than demote Pluto from planethood they're going to be adding in 3 more planets, and how that's going to mess up the mnemonics (especially "Xena", though at least for a while that should be a wellspring of "Warrior Princess" jokes) I just had to say... I think the mnemonic I learned, "My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets" is far superior and appropriate than ones that have her serving pickles or nine pizzas or any of that.

Project of the Moment
So last weekend I finished up my Where The Heart Is Reclamation Project with easier all-on-one-page views and a calendar application. I almost doubt that anyone will use it, not to mention all the customization features, but... it's there. It was the feature on this month's very late Blender of Love.

I also sent it to BoingBoing but it didn't seem to attract any interest. I think I've gotten BoingBoing'd twice, the gamebuttons link ("just about the coolest goddamned webthing, ever") was sent in by Eli the Bearded, who I think is a friend of the site but I know from alt.hackers, and then my laser sloths book ("Killer!") was an add-on to a previous entry. Anyway, I think that it's tough for someone submitting something they've done to get attention from the posters there.

Hmm, maybe I shoulda been trying my luck as a Metafilterer. Or admit I'm not always the best judge of what other people will find fascinating, though it's only every once in a while that I have something I feel is boingboingable.

from where the heart wasn't

In general I'm a lazy guy, but when I get the idea for something that seems interesting and do-able, it almost doesn't matter how much effort it's going to take, I attack it like a pitbull. Case in point...

Project of the Moment
OK, this requires a bit of explanation. In 1990 there was a pretty nifty film callled Where The Heart Is-- unfortunately it has sort of been eclipsed by the film of the same name made a decade later.

It was an uneven film (one reviewer pointed out it would have made more sense if it had stayed set in London) but great in many ways. It's the story of 3 adult children (and some of their friends they enlist to help out) whose real-estate mogul father forces them to support themselves while living in an ugly-ish Brooklyn building they fought to save from his wrecking crew. One daughter, Chloe, is commisioned to make create and photograph a series of these lovely, large-scale trompe l'oeil works for an insurance calendar. The paintings feature a subject in body paint that causes them to match the backgrounds... it's quite a great effect. Many of the paintings seem to reference famous works, but I'm too much of a lout to get most of them.

It turns out that the artwork was actually by Timna Woollard... but information about her is very difficult to come by. I would gladly have paid for a small book or copy of the calendar, but there's nothing to be found online. (And, you know... if Google doesn't know about it it must not exist.)

The paintings are shown as a series at the end of the movie, behind the credits. But the credits are pretty distracting... so this weekend I made up a custom Java program to help me extract the background by splicing lines from frames where the text isn't. It was a lot of work.

<geekness level="severe" type="artsy">My first attempts were a simple program that let me select the sections by hand, but that was error prone, and annoying, and too much work in general. I tried a few more approaches, "averaging" the pixels over a series of frames (which, as expected, led to a big blur in the middle), an odd "voting" system where a pixel becomes the color it is the most often (left odd color sparkles all over the place, because of how I broke up the R/G/B information) until finally I made up a kind of primitive AI filter that could take a guess about whether or not a scanline currently had text on it (counting the areas of sharp contrast.) The end result still needed some hand-tweaking in picking out extra frames to import and rejecting 1 or 2 that could fool the heuristic, but it was much, much easier than what I tried to do originally.</geekness>

So here is the series, one day at a time. (Or more quickly if you enjoy hacking URLs) I think a reasonable Fair-Use argument can be made for it, or at least that no one yells at me for it. Once the series is finished I plan to make a simple app displaying the images together, with the option of embedding them in a calendar for any given year.

Art of the Moment

click for fullsize

"January" by Timna Woollard
from Where The Heart Is.

Painting Suggestion of the Moment
Stampede of Nudes

The trouble with most paintings of nudes is that there isn't enough nudity. It's usually just one woman lying there, and you're looking around going, 'Aren't there any more nudes?' This idea solves that.

What has frightened these nudes? Is it the lightning in the background? Or did one of the nudes just spook? You don't know, and this creates tension.

from con air... it's not just for appliances any more

Finally Con Air bubbled to the top of my Netflix queue, which has been on my "to see" list ever since someone said I look like the canibal in that movie. Turns out that the canibal is Steve Buscemi, and I guess I can kind of see the resembalance. He's scrawnyish but we share the lips.

Anyway, that's possible because this movie has an insanely overpowered cast. Dave Chappelle was a surprise, but mostly I liked the long awaited encounter between Nicolas Cage and John Cusack... a pair way at the top of the list of "actors that most people can easily tell apart but Kirk keeps mixing up".

Overall it's a weirdly over-the-top movie, but it never wants to wink, it seems to take itself pretty seriously. But I think the visual image of the sports car trailing behind the plane like a kite tail makes it all worthwhile.

Baby Photos of the Moment
Seperated at Birth?
Evil B's offspring,
Tom Everhart's Lucy's Scream
(Did Schulz know?)
OK, I guess "seperated at birth" is kind of unlikely, Evil B probably would have caught that, but still.

News Commentary of the Moment
This was clearly a planned event, not a spontaneous event [...] I believe this was not an act of desperation, rather an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us.
Wow... whoever thought that the "crack Suicide Squad" from "Life of Brian" would become a reality?

Video of the Moment
The Lord of the Rings reunion overdubbed with very dumb voices made me laugh, at least at the end. (via Boingboing)

from the beep symphony


We're here to invite you to an unprecedented investment opportunity, You'll not only be in a position to get an excellent return on investment, you'll be helping to support the arts. And not just any arts, but innovative performance art; automotive music on a scale never imagined previously. The Beep Orchestra will stand as a unique series of events in the histories of both Autocology and Art.

It's an audacious undertaking, but we have an ace in the hole; the entire affair will be led by the world famous drunken mechanic Ivan Ivanov. The musical might of the mechanical maestro, this marvelous maven of music, his engineering expertise and explosive euphonious enthusiasm as seen in his excellent engines and exceedingly engaging edits is known around the world, along with his well-neigh superhuman abilities to consume alcohol in quantities so vast that his bar tab has been compared to the budget of some small nations, Ivanov has been heralded around the world and is cherished and beloved by millions of fans across the planet. His admirers range from bitter music school dropouts who are moved to tears by his ability to construct a harmony so beautiful it can only be played by an electronic musician (any human musician is moved to tears before the melody's haunting conclusion) to crusty old mechanics who have heard the tales of how he retrofitted a classic VW bug with a New York City transit bus' mighty diesel engine, from children who forever remember the Christmas saved by the surprise gift of a solar powered music box, to housewives who have been utterly charmed by his gruff manner and manly good looks.

We're proposing a travelling road show, a core of 500 drivers and their vehicles going across the country, joined by another 500 local artistic visionaries at each performance location. Concerts will be in local sports arenas, with no venue seating less than 30,000 being considered.

Recruiting will be intense. Posters in mechanic's shops will be key; we're going to offer free repairs for people whose vehicles are failing in ways that have certain desired acoustic properties. (The mechanics, many of whom were apprentices to Ivanov, others who have taken his online correspondence course, will receive special instruction in recognizing candidate vehicles, and then in how to persuade their owners to join in the magnificent caravan we are here proposing.) Also, Gas Stations and Junk Yards will sport magnificent banners in brilliant colors, proudly informing people of the mechanical musical mandate that compels us to this tremendous, unprecedented work of performance art.

Perhaps a quick review of the five sections of the Beep Orchestra's Symphony is in order, to take our vision from dry abstraction to visceral imagination, before we push forward and make it historic reality:

Ivanov will find the inner beauty of the horn of every vehicle, from the tiniest tinbox import to the mightiest hulking semitruck. He will make tuning adjustments when needed, and then group every vehicle into large harmonic groups. Ivanov was in a drunken snooze when we went to find out exactly how many groups, but we've heard estimates of between 20 and 30. It's been estimated that Mozart in his prime could have written for about 16 modern car horns, and that calculating the fifth or sixth level harmonics would leave the world's fastest and largest supercomputers as smoldering, hulking wrecks.... and yet this is exactly what Ivanov will do. We're already preparing the requisite crates of schnapps and cranberry flavored vodka he has ordered for the final time of composition.

Here, the mighty trucks will reflect the existential sorrow of an irrational world! Ivanov has already completed a melody of exceeding sadness and soul-stirring beauty. He will configure a bevy of giant semitrucks (and possibly the engine of a freight train, depending on the arrangements available at the local arena) to perform this work....moving in both the literal and figurative senses. Specially constructed megaphones will allow the precise asynchronicity of the engines to generate the saddest song the audience will have ever heard. Ivanov will direct the precision drivers in the revving of their awesome engines to produce this unprecedented emotional event.

After the sadness of the previous movement, the Symphony will move into an spiritually uplifting Aria. Unlike the previous movements, this work will be all about cars in motion and emotion, driving in a tremendous asphalt oval, especially engineered to be reassembled at each arena (carried to the location by the same trucks that featured so prominently in the previous movement) Through a diabolically clever series of stoplights and lane merging signs, a gloriously joyful song will emerge, with heavily miked windshield wipers providing a flowing percussive undercurrent. At every moment, cars will be on the verge of colliding, turning into fireballs of metal and steel, but the ability of these drivers and their cars to survive and prosper will be a testament to the strength of the human spirit under trying conditions.

Only Ivanov would be able to draw out the beauty and music that lies between the stations on an average car radio. An entire series of car radios will be wired into a specially modified keyboard where Ivanov will take direct control over the happenings. In preparation, Ivanov will have both consumed no less than 3 gallons of the local microbrewed beer as well as listened to at least 5 hours of the local radio spectrum, absorbing the local flavor and plotting a unique piece that will be electric for the audience, in a literal and figurative sense.

The triumphant conclusion to the evening's mechanomusical events...these vehicles will generally be old cars and trucks, each badly in need of a tuneup. Ivanov will carefully adjust and modify each engine to backfire in a precisely choreographed way. Similar in form to the Dirge that preceded it, but utterly different in the sense of mood and spirit, the Backfire Chorus will bring the audience to its feet, women throwing babies up in the air, men cheering until their throats are raw like beef tartare. Never again in the history of music or engines will there be a moment of such intensity... the audience will pass the tale of this experience onto their children, and future generations will speak of the legendary Beep Orchestra led by the demigod known as Ivanov.

Obviously an endeavor such as this will be a tremendous challenge....the logistics of engineering, importation of fine liqueurs, securing the appropriate insurance, and publicizing and training the artists to a sufficient degree is enough to make Hercules think about going and finding a nice corner to sit and weep for a bit. But we don't have Hercules...we have Ivanov, and thus the success of this adventure is guaranteed.

We need funding. Already major oil companies are lining up for sponsorship, and every major auto manufacturer, foreign and domestic, are jousting to be more prominently represented in the assembly of cars. With these organizations, as well as other interested investors such as yourself, we will be able to get the financing the Beep Symphony will require. The pre-order tickets have already accounted for half of the necessary total; investors are projected to get four or five times their money back.

Be part of the Beep Symphony. Be part of the mechanomusical history of mankind.

--For an artschool project, Ksenia asked me to whip up some raw text for an idea she had. She's supposed to make up various promotional media for a hypothetical event Unfortunately, this kind of text wasn't the more mundane planning material the teacher was looking for, but I had fun with it anyway. The artwork is hers.

from uncle santa says


from cityscape


--A crude attempt by me to emulate this really cool series of sketches by my cousin River. The thing is, River is like 8 years old...quite a prodigy! He used a very fine pen (and this is a reduced scan from the one I made, making it look more detailed than it is) and the level of detail and texture was *amazing*.

from i don't know much about art. but i know what i like.

Interactive Art of the Moment

click here

"Oh" // Source code // Built with Processing
    Interactive art... I was caught by the images from this Wired piece (which seem to be from this site). The work uses an idiosyncratic UI, each change in horizontal mouse pointer direction advances to the next image.

from don't know much about art

Image of the Moment
--Ksenia at her school's graduation... going back to that old flat color photos technique (tutorial here) It's not quite accurate, but not too bad... I like the kind of irritated expressions of of the classmates in the background.

Exchange of the Moment
"It's this great shoe store, you have to check it out."
"Where is it?"
"You know West Newton? It's just east of West Newton."
"Err, isn't that just...'Newton'?"
Gary and me at work yesterday

Link of the Moment
I'm sure I'd feel differently if I cared one iota about the show, but VoteForTheWorst.com, where they try to get everyone to vote for Scott Savol, far and away the worst contestant, is clever pranksterism.

from k/stencil

Art Toy of the Moment

--Whee! I finally finished a public (perpetual) beta of k/stencil, a Java toy that lets people upload their own images and overlay text. You can upload images, tweak to your heart's content, and then share in a public gallery. Give it a shot! Eventually I'd like to run a contest on loveblender with this... feedback on the interface is welcome, though I know it's a little clunky, and that's probably not going to change.

Thought of the Moment
People are the only animals to voluntarily ignore their sleep needs, according to Van Cauter. They stay up to play, work, socialize, or watch television. However, she adds, "We're overstepping the boundaries of our biology because we are not wired for sleep deprivation."
The article (pointed out by Bill) had some points about the biological differences between very heavy people and people of healthier weights...I guess the trick is acknowledging the challenges obese people face while still acknowledging their responsibility to at work at their health.

Anyway, I'm not sure how proven it is, but I love that idea that humans are the only animals to want to stay up late...it's a semi-defintion of humanity that goes well with my notions of how stuff that's "interesting" is axiomatically good in my value system. (Especially since now that it looks like that line about "Man is the only animal that laughs" probably ain't true.) Seeking out "interesting" stuff is at the root of our humanity.

Congressional Idea of the Moment
2 months more of DST every year? Sign me up! I don't care if it's like .05% of our daily energy needs...I want more light in the evenings!

In Cleveland, pretty far west in the Eastern time zone, we had lovely long, light evenings. Yeah, in the winter I had to trudge to school before it was light out, but it was worth it.

from pollution is pretty

Oil Rainbows of the Moment

Link of the Moment
When Bad Scenes Happen To Good Movies and then vice versa. (via Bill the Splut)

from of shots and shouts

Political Geek Art Snark of the Moment
snark, boojum Source code // Built with Processing
A little Java toy...click on the window and you can type in your own message to be placed over the shot of Bush waving a small flag. I'm surprised I haven't posted that Thurber poem here before, it's one of my favorites and I know it by heart. I suppose depending on your political persuasion, you could type in something more supportive of or more nasty about our Commander-in-Chief.

Keen-eyed regulars may recognize this (not terribly original) technique of text-over-image, last year I made three pieces Cider, Accuse, To Sleep, though those were all "By Hand" as it were. Now I can let the computer do most of the dirty work.

I should make up a webpage that lets you upload or use an arbitrary image from the web and with some better text editing options. (The current thing only understands "backspace" for editing.)

Actually, now that it's a java applet there's more things I could do than with the static images...I already use a "one letter at a time" display, but also theres no reason the image behind couldn't be changing, either some frames of an animation, or just flipping through various images.

Thought of the Moment
So last night I was showing that app to Candi...she thought it was kind of cool that I program "for fun" too, while she just does what she needs to for school. I was going to say that that's what seperates "real programmers" from other people, but then I realized I know a large number of "real programmers" but very very few of 'em do this kind of stuff for fun per se, as far as I can tell. But I've been doing that for years and years; I think a lot of the kids in the 80s did that, but then a lot of people just gave it up. "Recreational Programming" is a bit of an arcane field.

from bot bon mots

Work in Progress of the Moment
Can anyone (besides Ranjit and Peterman) tell me what these guys are from? First person to post the right answer on the message board gets a cookie.

Geek Amusement of the Moment
Some guy (a video game music by writer) has written a program that has passed a rough form of the Turing Test by making jenny18, a floozy of an Eliza-based bot...it seems like many horny guys on IRC were fooled. A college professor did something similar with a very abusive bot, its webpage has the full conversation as well as a lot of background and supporting information.

Local Interest of the Moment
Slate has Timothy Noah talking about the changes in Boston, from the Big Dig to cultural attitude adjustments in general.

News Quote of the Moment
He pants hard, emitting low 'hrrr, hrrr, hrrr' grunts with each stroke of the pedals, his shoulders bobbing up and down.
Another good quote: "I'm gonna show you a hill that would choke a mule." That's our leader of the free world!

from am i blue

Image of the Moment

--More fun with yesterday's Scale2Xd filter. I have to get some new base images to play with, I use this one way too much...and now it's even worse, because I'm less inclined to use some of the nice shots of Mo I have. I'm not sure why I like this one so much...I guess having my eyes covered make it easier to mess with, plus it has some bold colors and an interesting pose.

Hmmm. Thinking about this now, I guess I'm kind of like some photoshop n00b just discovering filters...the fact that I have to do some semi-clever steps (reduce in size, tweak the palette reduction, saving as a .PNG, then running a command line program for the atual filtering) doesn't really change that...

Poem of the Moment
I phoned from time to time, to see if she's
changed the music on her answerphone.
'Tell me in two words,' goes the recording,
'what you were going to tell in a thousand.'

I peer into that thought, like peering out
to sea at night, hearing the sound of
waves breaking on the rocks, knowing she
is there, listening, waiting for me to

Once in a while she'll pick up the phone
and her voice sings to me out of the past.
The hair on the back of my neck stands up
as I catch her smell for a second.

"Siren Song", Hugo Williams.
I adore the line "tell me in two words what you were going to tell in a thousand".

(2019 UPDATE: this poem really hits me as an example of how even our relationships are changed by the technology of the day. There's nothing quite like this with today's cellphones - and most people would prefer you'd text anyway...)

News of the Moment
Texas...what a bunch of Yahoos. They want to deny the Unitarians tax-exempt status because it "does not have one system of belief". Jimminy frickin' crickets. Heaven forbid people be able to admit something besides blind "I just KNOW this is right" faith.

from amerikabomber

Passage of the Moment
It was almost as if he was in a delirium when he described to us how New York would go up in flames. He imagined how the skyscrapers would turn into huge burning torches. How they would crumble while the reflection of the flames would light the skyline against the dark sky.
-- Albert Speer's diary on Hitler's desires to build a special two part suicide mission bomber to attack the United States, from this Atlantic Monthly article. So looks like Al Qaeda wasn't first with the idea.

Typography of the Moment
Old typographical joke:
"if your nose runs and your feet smell, you might be umopepisdn!"
(Get it?)

Also, in a meeting, I think I did up my best ever ASCII-art Alien Bill (the guy gracing the top of kisrael.com) notoriously (well, to me anyway) hard to get recognizable in that medium...
        ___ /\__
ALIEN  ___   (<o) 
BILL   ___ /\/ \\/ 
If any ASCII-artists out there have a suggestion to improve it, feel free to let me know! For more of my ASCII art, check out this kisrael entry.

Gaming Geekery of the Moment
Huh, just found a reference to Scale2x, a filter designed to make older heavily pixelated games look better by guessing at "what's a curve". I think I'd miss the old pixels if this caught on, but it's a cool idea, and the samples they show are impressive.

I tried it out on my b+w self-portrait that used to be on the top of the site, here's the before and after:
Neat! It really reclaims what the pixels lost. It doesn't use any additional colors, just more space (or smaller pixels). And it really depends on low color images...I tried it with some of the "photographic" icons on the right side there, along with some photos, and it didn't do anything.

from brilliant, yes, but evil

Art of the Moment

--Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't use this image for online personals after all, huh? The first 3 sentences I got from someone's .sig file on Usenet (later I found out it was from "Illuminatus!") the rest I made up for a poetry class in college.

Site Update of the Moment
I decided that that whole "you need time to judge your work" stuff is over-rated, so I added 2004 to my best of kisrael.com page now, rather than wait 'til the end of the year. (Like it says, it's not "best of", it's "Kirk's online arts and crafts", and so I can pretty easily predict what will make the list.)

Flash of the Moment
A day (and a year) late, a Flash Valentine from Chaoskitty with love.

Quote of the Moment
Lee's Law: Mother said there would be days like this, but she never said that there'd be so many!
QotD at slashdot

from valentines, shmalentines

Art of the Moment

--"Cider, Redux". I made an artsy, morose sort of valentine for Mo using this technique, but it ended up to be more than I wanted to share here, even though it came out better than my second use of the technique, an old prose poem I made, and an earlier unrequited romance. UPDATE: I did two more that I sent into the loveblender, Accuse, Redux which came out well and To Sleep, Redux...plus I made a larger version of this one.

Geek Love Poem of the Moment
Roses are #FF0000
Violets are #0000FF
chown -R you ~/base
select text(or hit Ctrl-A) for translation:
"roses are red, violets are blue, all my base are belong to you"
(funny, that's two days in a row I've posted 'L33T-speak)

Quote of the Moment
"Men want the same thing from their underwear that they want form women: a little bit of support, and a little bit of freedom."
Jerry Seinfeld

from etchasketchly!

(1 comment)
Hey, why didn't someone tell me that salad spinners are so much fun? A centrifuge for wet vegetables! It's like a last wish amusement park ride for criminal leafy greens condemned to die.

Project of the Moment
the walking
--Sample animations from the instruction booklet for the "Etch-a-Sketch Animator". It was a cool toy of the 80s that let you create up to 12 frames of 40x30 animation and play them back in longer sequences. Last year I e-bay'd up this favorite childhood toy of mine and made some art with it. (Well, mostly I laboriously transferred some small gif cinema onto the device.) In my decluttering frenzy I was about to get rid of the booklet, but I realized the animations were all pretty cool... I think I might make a special wing of small gif cinema for these.

I started with the cat animation (which is really great, but the Breakdancing Skeleton is no slouch--trés 80s) but then decided to do them all as animated gifs. Some were easier than others.
in hat
the nosy
the spaceship
the creeping
the train
the cat
the horse
the breakdancing

Boston Geek News of the Moment
Huh...I hadn't realized that SoftPro Books had moved--from Burlington to about 5 minutes away from my house in Waltham. (SoftPro is the Boston area's geek's favorite place for technical books...I like supporting a local, specialized merchant who has some neat speakers and other programs.)

from no carbs for you!

So I'm starting this diet Mo's been on for two weeks with pretty good results, Fat Flush. It's not just weight loss, but nutrition and detox. One of the newer generation of plans, like Atkins, that's more aware of carbs and insulin levels than at least some fats... Mo's and my holistic-minded doctor (and, er, current yoga instructor) thinks Anne Louise Gittleman, the program's maker, knows what she's talking about, so that's a good sign. Though (and some of this come from trying to avoid anything many people might be allergic to) it has some weird restrictions; like the only vinegar you can use is apple cider vinegar, stuff like that. Drinking dilute unsweetened cranberry juice, jumping jacks on mini-trampoline (the idea being the lymphatic system has no circulatory system of its own, so needs to be shaken up)...the kind of stuff that strikes me a little odd but I don't know the science well enough one way or the other to really object.

So, in yesterday's Comments (mm, love that feedback) people A. told me those pictures look a lot like the film Waking Life, B. identified the source of the quote (Chasing Amy, where a guy is ragging on a comicbook "inker" which he calls "tracing") and C. Pointed out it's kind of like Rotoscoping, but with one frame. All of which is true.

Oh, and I put some hopefully not too obnoxious ads on Love Blender from Google's program. We'll see how that goes.

Image of the Moment
Ok, probably the last one of these for a while; but this one uses a slightly different techniue that tries to use color boundaries rather than exact contours. Looks a bit like paint-by-number, but I think the effect comes out well, at least for the right images. Takes even more time though.

from hey man. let me ask you something. if somebody draws something and you draw the exact same thing like RIGHT ON TOP OF IT without going outside the original designated art, what do you call that?

So I've kind of "invented" (though it's not very original) a new photo technique. There's probably better technology to help out, it's pretty labor intensive, but it's basically tracing the major contours in a new layer in Paint Shop Pro then using flood fill of a single color from each region. I thought it would help me learn to draw a bit better, but actually it's taught me more about color; for instance, in most pictures, especially those taken inside, caucasion skintone doesn't look like skintone out of the context of the picture.

Anyways, I like how some of these came out.

Hints if you want to try this yourself: learn how to use layers in your paint program. You'll generally want to go for the lightest shade in any given region. I used a 2-pixel solid brush for the lines, though for Mo's head in the final picture, I had to do it with a 1-pixel brush, then retrace. And, as always, work on a larger image, and then shrink it down.

Clockwise from Top:   Me, Post Party Mo, and the Demon Lupschada.    
Ocean Grove, New Jersey, November 1999

from counting is what computers do

(1 comment)
Toy of the Moment
click to run


Mo's sysadmin buddy Steve has a vast array of ancient computer equipment, including a PDP-11 front panel, rejiggered to count in binary. I found the effect kind of interesting and a bit hypnotizing. I'd love to try to make something like it in hardware (LEDs and circuits) but I'm a software guy, so here it is in Java(script). (original source)

Technology of the Moment
Technology marches on...Urinal based video games have finally arrived. Thank goodness.

Art of the Moment
Ross linked to an article about the The Fremont Troll, a pretty cool and large under-bridge sculpture in Seattle, Washington.

Stupid News Joke of the Moment
CNN reports that
Al Qaeda suspect declared 'enemy combatant'
...I'd say more like an 'enemy con mullet'! Yow!

from old school

Music of the Moment
So, back in the day, someone taught me the blues scale (you can hear it on this page) and that was my basis for a ton of basslines and piano improvisations all during high school. One time, I recorded one of the lines (can't remember its name) for Marcus, a friend from school, who took it to a buddy who had some kind of homestudio and added a (stock?) drumtrack and lower bass part. I've been meaning to get it in digital form for a long time, so here it is, an MP3 taken off an old audio tape:
Jam w/ Marcus, 1286kb, 82 seconds
This is the whole bassline about two times through. (The part I made is the xylophone-sounding part on top, like what the recording starts with) The original recording goes on for like 5 or 6 minutes, and has some interesting cutouts where it's just the drums or just my line, but this is enough to give the idea.

2023 Update (20 years later!) pretty sure the beat was from "Express Yourself" by NWA
Link of the Moment
Not as cool as those guys assembling a million actual toothpicks, the MegaPenny Project helps you think about what different amount of pennies look like, from one to one quintillion.

from twentynine is prime

I'm 29!


BTW--snow? Today?


Image of the Moment
--The Ghost of a Snowman. Inspired in two ways by Ranjit; it's similar to some photos he took in 2001...and his offer of being a guest poster for the April Fool's edition of his site Moonmilk got me to make some shots I had taken more presentable, so click that link for more and larger images. (A fullsize version of the original snowman shot on my wallpaper page, which was also inspired by a page by Ranjit. He rocks!)

Quote of the Moment
I can't read porno by candlelight!! Who am I, Abe Lincoln?!
Krusty the Clown, last night's Simpsons

Current Events Link of the Moment
The Iraq-O-Meter, for all your at a glance war stats needs.

War Analysis of the Moment
Slate.com has two pieces that, together provide some insight to the thinking behind getting ourselves into this war. The first is What Was Rumsfeld Thinking? and it argues that Rumsfeld tried to lowball the troopcount in order to prove neoconservative thinking about the effectiveness of smaller and lighter forces, as well as demonstrating a more credible simultaneous threat against "the Axis of Evil", Syria, and heck, lets throw Saudi Arabia into the mix too. I guess one sliver of silver lining is that if this is a quagmire, the administration is likely to not be as hawkish as it would be if the "regime crumbling" scenario won. Of course, from the neocon point of view, it makes as look less strong in the world. Think it might bring us to to something closer to a "humble foreign policy"?

The other article gives some of the background to the Iraqi force being "a bit different than the one we war-gamed against." I remember hearing about the armed forces wargames last summer, and how the commander of the "bad guys" quit, because he was overly constrained in the tactics he could use, his strategies overridden by the staff running the game. We're such idiots! We broadcast how we're going to invade, how much it's going to hurt if we don't get our way, and then we're surprised that the Iraqis don't want to follow all the rules we expect them to?

War Quote of the Moment
It's my country.
Young Iraqi Soldier, asked why he was fighting for Saddam Hussein.
For more pessimism, Bill the Splut linked to this article tal about how numbingly difficult it is to fight in cities.

from the blizzard of '03?

They say there's gonna be some bigtime snow.

I remember the blizzard that helped to welcome 1996...I had just done Times Square New Years with Veronika who was visiting me from Germany. I remember the big problem snow plows had moving snow piles that turned out to have a car underneath...

What do you guys think of the directional areas, trying to get people to associate the comments link with the correct day's entry? And should I ditch the guestbook form, and have everything piped through the comments system? "Bozo", I'm surprised you haven't switched over...you post very topical guestbook entries, the kind of thing I had in mind when I put the system into place.

Blogs of the Moment
Bostonworks (part of the Boston Globe's website) is starting a jobfinding blog. Might be an interesting thing for people who are looking to keep up with.

Another funny idea for a themed blog: Cooking Loser, bachelor boy cuisine. Maybe I should send in my various recipes for Tuna ala Kirk (with grey poupon style mustard, with salsa verde, and the most high class, the one with ginger soy sauce.)

ASCII art of the Moment
--A study I did in preparation for Pixeltime. I think I ended up using dithering to get in a few more shades of grey, though. You can see the final result or the source jpg (from my pixeltime tribute and photobook, respectively.)

Game of the Moment
The poor man's typing of the dead. (The real Typing of the Dead is an odd game, an older lightgun shoot-the-zombies converted so you have to type words quickly and accurately to blow off zombie bits instead of just shooting them.) Still, as far as typing drills go, this one has some nice aesthetic qualities.

Quick Article of the Moment
Slate has a good explanation of Modern Arabic, the old form that has remained constant, and the way telecommunication is causing some dialects to thin out a bit.

from nostalgia of the moment


1 eyed 6 toed
battery operated
laser sloths

from truisms


--A tribute to, or ripoff (err, I mean artistic recreation that stands in its own right as its own artistic work) of Jenny Holzer's "truisms" piece.

from t.g.i.end of the friggin' week

Quote of the Moment
"How am I this morning? Frankly, Mister Never-Around, I'm as horny as the middle-school band."
senior couple drinking coffee in New Yorker cartoon, Aug 14 2000

Art of the Moment
Your missing colored flying wireframe snakes. In a box! Rotating!
Been playing with some simple 3D code. And when I say simple, I mean simple... X and Y (the plane of the screen) are handled as usual with 2D computer graphics, except the origin is in the center of the applet. Z (depth into the screen) is just a scaling factor: for things 'further' back, it becomes smaller and smaller (though always positive.) And the rotation is just a simpe sine/cosine 2D rotation applied before the final drawing. (That I bummed off of comp.algorithm.graphics.) This site will probably see a few more things based on this same engine before I get bored with it...