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from candy


This life is like an Atomic Fireball: once you get past the stuff that hurts it's pretty sweet.
--Feb 13, 1995

Life is more like chocolate-covered espresso beans: once you get past the stuff that's sweet, it's dark and bitter and keeps you up at night.
--Oct 5, 1995

from teenage mutant ninja stones


from thoughts of the produce section 1


Notes: 'Thoughts of the Produce Section' was a series I did in college and a little beyond Like a lot of art, it was done to impress women. It started as an oddball, inner-life-of-plants thing on the dormroom door message board of a woman I was trying to woo. Seen here are recently 'colorized' versions of remakes I did to impress Mo soon before we started going out, on Dinky Pad, a doodle program for the PalmPilot. (Hence the sever squiggle effec.) Some were original 'thoughts', some were remakes from the message board and other places.

The cherry's thought was one of the first ones I ever came up with, and the most poignant. (I used it to name a mix tape for the romantic interest as well, but she had me change it so it wouldn't prove problematic for her steady eddie boyfriend.) The Grapes are thinking a snippet of a prose poem I came up with. Orange's thought seems especially apropos these days, but it's not: I've been afraid of (in roughly this order) eternal damnation, nuclear M.A.D., Y2K, EMP blasts, mortality, and now nuclear terrorism. The mushroom thinks it's being deep.

from unstranger?

The other day, this appeared in my guestbook:
Kirk, Regarding "Mortality for Skeptics" and this whole 9/11 tragedy...would you ever like to go back in time (even to your high school days or so)and pick and choose people who were in your life more so at one time and let them know what they mean/meant to you. Would you let them know what they taught you? Was there anyone in your past that this would apply to?
--a certain someone, 2001.09.23
I don't know what to make of this. I feel like if I don't guess right about who it is (and really I'm very unsure) they'll feel bad.

I'm a nostalgic guy by nature. I value a lot of people who made me what I am today. From my high school days I probably miss my dad the most, or at least I wish he hadn't died when I was still going through my awkward early teen years, before I accomplished things that I value today. Other than that, I tend to turn to romances first, and then my circle of friends.

I'd love for whoever wrote this to contact me via e-mail, it sounds like we have something to talk about.

Thoughts of the Produce Section 2

(Notes: The strawberry's suggestion seems all too relevant these days, considering the possibility of us over-reacting in Afghanistan. Originally the banana's thought was about the destruction of culture, but now I'm more thinking of it from the sustenance it would provide. The carrot's line is from a jazz piece I think, and the lettuce's thought is now a bit defunct. I'm not sure if basketball would interest me anyway, actually. (More on the history of Thoughts of the Produce Section))

from thoughts of the produce section 3


Notes: "The World's Angriest Eggplant" was one of the earliest participants in Thoughts of the Produce Section. The corn is thinking of a slogan that I couldn't get out of my head during my a cappella days with sQ (alternating with "Shake What Yo Mama Gave Ya".) The other two speak for themselves, for what it's worth. (More on the history of Thoughts of the Produce Section)

from thoughts of the produce section 4

Hey, my high school best friend Mike's in town, with his friend Dave. I feel like I'm a pretty bad host when it comes to knowing how to show off a city, though.

Thoughts of the Produce Section 4

Notes: The pumpkin is kind of at the intersection of a few fairy tale ideas. The apple is a bit lovelorn. The potato is a reformed hippy, and the asparagus (tough to draw those) is spouting what I think sounds like old European wisdom. These four conclude my Palm-based Thoughts of the Produce section, though I still have some pixeltime ones to go.(More on the history of Thoughts of the Produce Section)

from ¡hola señor!

Funny of the Moment
"¿Que Hora Es?"...The Mexican Soap Opera for people who only had a few months of Spanish in Elementary School!
Skit intro on "Cedric the Entertainer"

Nostalgic Geek Link of the Moment
The Amiga was the awesome computer of the mid- to late-1980s. It had graphics and sound capabilities that PCs wouldn't get until the early 1990s, and had a built in "genlock" so it could overlay things on video signal inputs, and was ahead of its time in many other ways as well. I never had one, so seeing a site like Amiga Reviews gives me this weird nostalgia for a future that never was. I'm so used to think of the Amiga as a better computer than what I have, that seeing it and its now very dated collection of games is a bit disconcerting. The magazine reviews are from the UK, and the multiple reviewer commentary took years to make it to the USA.

Political Link of the Moment
And I thought I was a bit upset about the recent elections... (via Bill the Splut)

Wacky News Link of the Moment
"Look at me! I'm invisible! Time to go hit a bank!"

Duhhhh. Was it the movie Mystery Men that had the hero who was invisible so long as no one was looking? (Along with the Shoveler: "God's given me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well.")

Cartoon of the Moment



from merry christmas to all

This holiday season, please remember:

If you're not the lead reindeer,
the view never changes.

Merry Christmas!

from thoughts of the produce section 2004

(1 comment)
Thoughts of the Moment

--Here's the history of Thoughts of the Produce Section, plus three more examples here, here, and here. This one I drew at the same meeting that produced that page of tiny doodles.

Geek Javascript of the Moment
Unix Date:
--Just need something quick and dirty to go from Unix "seconds since 1970" timestamps to something more human readable. Not as quick and dirty as I hoped, it took me a bit to realize that javascript was thinking in milliseconds, so I had to muliply by 1000. Duhhr!

Article of the Moment
Golfing across Mongolia, one stroke at a time. He's hitting a golfball across the entire dang country, he went 1,234 miles. Crazy and awe inspiring. I suppose if I liked golf at all it would be even cooler.

Feature of the Moment
Slate has a pretty hard hitting series Dispatches from Fallujah...it's a few steps to getting my head around what it's like to be one of the guys over there...

from stackin' turtle action comics!

So I was standing in line in Dunkin Donuts and I noticed a reasonably attractive woman in a jogging suit standing in front me. "She's cute," I thought, "too bad about the birthmark on her head." I glance out the window and see a guy, and he also has a birthmark, but much bigger. Finally the woman's companion shows up, and I wonder if he's related to her, because same birthmark as her, both much smaller than the guy's outside.

Duhhr. Anyway, Happy Ash Wednesday, all you Catholics out there.

Comic of the Moment
So last October Miller ran the fourth grunthunt, a team-based afternoon of puzzles, mindbenders, and randomness. I joined Sawer's team, the Majestic Golden Blowjobs of Heaven. We came in third out of three, but it was close. One bonus challenge was to do the following task involving two stuffed turtles (Cozy and Drowsy) the gamekeepers brought:

construct a 2-minute puppet show or a mini-comic starring two turtles (cozy and drowsy) incorporating 3 of the following: (mouseover for captions) I chose 2, 3, and 5 for my comic, STACKIN' TURTLE ACTION COMICS!

Starring Cozy and Drowsy!
One day, Matha Stewart was in prison but lookin for turtles!
'I need turtles for my soup! Here's one!'
  'zzzzz - uh? what? ....Huh'

'You my sleepy friend will become jailhouse soup!'
'oh no where is drowsy'
'And now into the soup!'
'Drat my slow turtle speed - I hope I've pushed this Turtle Catapult here on time'
   'I got you!'
'o thank you zcozy! i feel so safe here in your arms! i hope you hold me forever.'
    'i can tell how happy you are by your little turtle erection!'
'Er - yeah. heh heh. hold me'

from http://elf.org/doodle rocks!

Vacation Filler of the Moment
Usually if I'm going away on vacation I prepublish content on kisrael, just in case I can't get to the Internet. When I'm vacationing at home, as I am this week, it's a little different. I just get lazy about updating...so I've decided to dump 32 images I made with doodle for Palm, a delightfully minimalist little drawing program. So for the next 4 days I'll post them in groups of 8...if I'm feeling lazy, that'll be about it for the day. And today...I'm feeling lazy. Just dumping the files to my computer, renaming and uploading took it right out of me.

from pretty sketchy

Doodles of the Moment

The top left might be the server at the same place the booze glasses were doodled in yesterday's set. There's an attempt at a sketch of Mo there, and as for the last two...errr. Well. Isn't it interesting, my friend Erica taught me that it's much simpler to write in cursive with a low-fidelity sketch pad such as this than with my usual printing.

Film of the Moment
Last night Evil B got me to go see the film MirrorMask...pretty decent, and it's too bad there's not more publicity for it. It's a collaboration between Henson Studios (the similarities with Labyrinth and I've heard The Dark Crystal are pretty strong) and author Neil Gaiman...visually, it's incredibly rich, though the story is thin, surprising given the Gaiman influence. I was going to say that it's kind of lile "Through The Looking Glass" meets Salvador Dali, but it turns out that the overarching art influence is Dave McKean...I'd recommend his page (have to click...they're playing some stupid games preventing a direct link) over the official Sony pictures one.

Unfortunately, it might be a "wait for the DVD" kind of thing, given its poor distribution...here in Boston it seems like only the artsy cinema is showing it.

Article of the Moment
Slate on the inverse relationship between an institutions health and its tendency to make interesting architecture, the logic being that companies that are still enganged deeply in doing cool work don't have time to make the perfect HQ. I've seen this in action, in a small way, with my dear departed dotcom Event Zero; moving to the new offices (with a conference room sharing the oval shape of the company's logo and with the late-90's cliché blue/orange color scheme) was one of the death knells...a big capital suck that any company hoping to ride out the dotbomb crash of 2000 couldn't afford.

from even sketchier

Wonder of the Moment
Dan Ellis and the 10,000 year clock. I love how it's built to be self-winding, but also seems to thrive on human attention.

Doodles of the Moment

Ummm...yeah. The top left one might be a reference to "sex rodeo style". Don't recall if that Young Astronauts in Love is a copy or the origin. The guy with the dartboard is Dave from my Darts team, having a bad night.

I find it interesting how the limitations of the Palm's screen and touch digitizer influence my style, making it even simpler and less nuanced, since I can't generally depending on getting delicate features in.

from well at least it's only SHAMpoo


from sweet sixteen

Hey, does anyone have any ideas for what would make a fun party for a gal's sixteenth birthday party? (No dumb jokes, please.)

Ksenia's family is trying to figure it out for her sister whose birthday is in a few weeks... bowlings kind of lame? Are they doing ice skating yet? Too old for that?

Is having a party in the house a good idea at that age? I can't remember many "activity" parties by that age, I think they were mostly at people's houses, parent-sanctioned but without a big parental presence. I had a few surprise parties thrown at me...

Still something out of the house might be good. Any ideas?

Panels of the Moment

--FoSO and FoSOSO had a very small draw comics/eat chinese/watch movie get-together last night. I decided to work on fleshing out my Young Astronauts in Love idea, just working a few panels to see if I could get a feel for both my tool preferences and if there's a story I'd like to tell here. And in a fit of self-indulgence I decided to post the test panels here.

Quote of the Moment
My consolation is that I am confident that somewhere at this very moment people are making love.
Mme du Martel, on her deathbed.

from breasts flailing wildly in the air

think what I need is two closets. One for "just washed" and other for "wearagainable".

While I'm at it, a pair of robot arms that did nothing but accept shirts handed to it, hanging them neatly up in the closet, would be one of the niftier uses of robot technology I can think of. Worlds more useful than those stupid "can bring you a soda, if someone on the kitchen puts one on its little tray" robots that so captivated me in the 80s.

"Erotica" of the Moment
She romped on top of Simolzak's huge frame, straddling him with her hands on his chest, her back arched and her breasts flailing wildly in the air. Her back was to him and her long hair swung from side to side as if accentuating the abandonment of her screams.
Do you UNDERSTAND how much momentum you need to have breasts flailing wildly in the air? Man, that's EXUBERANCE!

Politics of the Moment
Republicans are absolutely raising the bar in being lying scumsucking pandering mudslinging misleading asshats this political advertising season.

from on "a short history of myth"

(1 comment)
I just finished Karen Armstrong's "A Short History of Myth". (I was supposed to read it for my UU Church's Science and Spirituality group, but then the Florida trip came up, so I read it in the airport and the first leg of the flight and wrote this.)

So her final chapter argues that the West is really hurting from its lack of mythology; that logos, thought/reason, has reigned surpreme for a long time, and while in many ways it has made life better for the people of those cultures, it hasn't been providing the ultimate answers that those people, neurotic and confused as we are, need.

She seems to especially criticize the attempts to reconcile rationality with myth, claiming that these were paths tried and found wanting in Judaism and Islam, but that Protestant Evangelicalism carries on the hopeless and painful struggle.

That certainly rings true with my interpretation of the tradition I grew up in. I've heard it said that if Christ has not literally risen from the dead, if other events are allegorical instead of literal, if the Bible has not received special divine protection in every verse, than the whole game is up. (Actually the Bible verse is "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Cor. 15:14))

That's a very brittle kind of spirituality to have, if you take the obvious literal reading of that line.

And then, even within Christianity, there are things I've been taught that only now do I realize aren't considered fundamental Christian tenants. Armstrong argues that the Orthodox, for example, haven't embraced the rationalist doctrine, are content with a great deal of Mystery, don't buy into the whole original sin idea, and maybe God would have come to us in the form of Jesus even if Adam hadn't sinned. (On the other hand, when confronted with someone looking to pick a rationalist fight, they'll mention this annual Easter candle lighting miracle that takes place in the Holy Land. Given that the person channeling the miracle is searched to not have any lighting implements before going off in secret but that self-lighting candles have been known for a long while, I'm a little skeptical.)

(remake of an old comic of mine)

So, I'm struggling to understand how people accept things that are mythically true, but not factual "reality". I guess it's harder to do in a highly connected world. Historically, you experience myth by soaking it in as your immersed in your culture... but when you start to notice that other peoples believe other things, your own beliefs might start seeming arbitrary. Maybe even evil! Decartes was driven to hunt for first principles when he noticed he couldn't know if his whole external experience was really the result of a demon trying to trick him. (And I know I started to stray from my Protestant heritage when I started realizing that if I had grown up in an Islamic tradition rather than as the son of Protestant ministers, I'd probably be just as fervent about a totally different belief.)

Armstrong thinks that we look to find our myths in cultural figures, like Elvis and Princess Di. And maybe retell our mythologies in great art, like Guernica and "The Wasteland".

Maybe the purest modernist mythology we can have is science fiction. By telling stories of the future, we can escape our paranoia that the stories aren't "really real", because they sit in the realm of Might Be rather than Was. (For the record, this is also the explanation I gave for preferring "space" Legos; cars in the present and castles in the past don't have little dots all over them... but the spaceships of the future might.) Of course, this is slightly more true for Star Trek than Star Wars, the latter just seperating itself by being "a long time ago in a glaxy far far away".

I dunno, just a thought. It certainly puts the hard core fan in a new light. Maybe the overweight fanboy in the full Klingon regalia, browsing memorabilia at the local convention is really a shaman for the modern age.
Trying to channel pre-new-job nervous energy into straightening the apartment. The problem remains the same: pick a task, finish a task even when I the task takes me to a different room where other tasks start beckoning.

from xkc-wanna-b


--I decided to paraphrase a dreamish thought I had this morning in the form of an xkcd ripoff homage. It came out well enough, but I'm not sure if it's going to be all that funny to anyone else... and for the record I do clean my apartment more often than that.

from me and ellio down by the schoolyard

(1 comment)
In Rockport, work-a-day work-a-day.

Workplace Humor of the Moment

--Ellio and Jonathan and me, in our old shared office space.

Product of the Moment
My envy of Heelys continues unabated, because of or despite of this Slate piece on using the adult-sized version. If only I liked wearing sneakers or anything that isn't a sandal or shoe for work.

from the sketchbook conspiracy

I'm participating in an online comic jam run by my housemate Miller, The Sketchbook Conspiracy. (A comic jam is just a collaboration, a cycle of artists taking a page at a time.)

There are 3 groups going, I'm with "Less Filling"... you can see the comics (and a larger version of this one) on the conspiracy comics page.

So here's what I came up with yesterday for my first turn:

I'm more of a doodler than an artist, but I wanted to try and match the style of the previous pages. One surprise is how closely you have to read the previous panels, from names to characteristics to appearance, in order to get continuity.

I usually draw directly on a touchpad computer, but here I tried the more traditional pencil on paper, traced with some sharpies, scanned, then manipulated in Paint Shop Pro, where I also added the dialog. (Miller encouraged me to separate the background and foreground, and of course with the repetition I had in mine it made sense.) My "Layers" mojo was weak, so I ended up doing more with transparency and cut and paste than I wanted to.

So, yet another thing where it turns out that it's harder than it looks... clearly I ain't gonna set the world on fire with my mad art skills.

from romance in this modern age


from da bears

Thanks go out to the veterans today. Wish we lived in a world where we didn't have a need to ask so much from you...

Other thoughts: I had to enjoy Indy's humiliating, 6-INT loss to the San Diego Chargers, especially because it made both teams look really bad. I was watching that while doing the comic below...

Finally I decided to participate in OLPC (one laptop per child's) Give One/Get One project. They probably aren't encouraging geeks to get one to tool around with, for risk of creating an unfortunate secondary market, but they realize it's well-nigh unavoidable. It's supposed to go for a child in your life, and I guess they have to let "inner children" count. It looks like a cool little platform, I don't know if will live up to what a $400 PC laptop could do, but it might (or might not) be a decent spare browser. We'll see.

Comic Page of the Moment

My Page 10 for Sketchbook Conspiracy's Less Filling Comic Jam. (You can see my thoughts about my previous page here.)

It's interesting comparing my experience doing comic pages vs. my photography composition class. In my interestingness-tinted lenses, I'd have to say comics might have more potential for me as an expressive form... you have so many options when you do a comic in terms of layout, pacing, dialog, design, etc, whereas my experience with photography is trying to make an optimal shot of something from real life, even if there's some staging involved.

from young astronauts in love (1/4)

Wow. 24 hour comic day was a pretty amazing experience. Usually I'll get sleepy and drift off, especially if I'm doing something passive. I'm not sure if it was somehow finding just the right balance of sugar and caffeine, or just being highly focused on a mental task, or what, but I never felt sleepy, just weary and goofy.

Despite my valiant attempts to be funny on Twitter, Miller by far had the most detailed liveblogging of our mini-event. (Including "sleep deprived Kirk thinks he's funny" quotes) I hope he posts some examples of what he produced, by far he was exercising the most talent in terms of, you know, art that really looks like stuff and people, and also had an interesting story. He didn't finish but got significantly further than on previous attempts. (Also, he was a great host, with his signature pseudo-menudo and a lot of a lot of snackie goodness.)

Kate's had an intriguing shamanistic creation myth thing going, and when she decided her story was pretty much told around page 13 (short of the recommended 24-comic-pages or 100-webcomic-panels) she switched to this amazing artificial language puzzle game event thing she plans to utilize the story for.

Me, I doodle. But I finished! 100 panels, each individually drawn and then colored on my two Tablet PCs. On the one hand, it was kind of a shortcut to keep the narration under the art, and my style is what other people might call thumbnails. But I tried to polish pieces up the roughest spots, and I didn't duplicate art. And I got done, done, finalish webpage and all, right under the wire.

I'm so glad to have done this story. Ever since the goofy single panel I came up with 6 frickin' years ago, and then some test panels I composed 2 years ago, there have been some things I wanted to say through these intrepid explorers. I don't explain why no one is out of their spacesuit; in some ways it's always been a rough (and kind of obvious) metaphor for the extreme difficulty of really connecting to other people.

There's an almost retartedly blatant bit of drawing from some of my own experiences here, but it's an amalgamation. And it's so rough in parts... I'm terrible at plots, unable to resist the trop of the Tower-of-Babel like pursuit of a culture of group, and the people swept along in that. And that's before you get to the art.

So, after having gone on for way too long like someone had actually asked me for an aritst's statement, here is part 1 of 4 of Young Astronauts in Love.

chapter 1

space... the... frontier

not the final frontier, probably. but it's a frontier and it's pretty big

i'm an astronaut. always had been.

the academy was... pretty great actually

i got my degree, and my first assignment

i'm a federation technician, first class

my first assignment was on GHIBAL 3

GHIBAL 3 is the famous home of the ghibal anomaly

and ghibal city, set up for the scientists to study the anomaly and the corporations hoping to cash in.

it was even more of a happening place back then!

it was a long journey there

you can only ionski a few hundred times before it gets old

finally we were there!

unfortunately my assignment wasn't the city

or the suburbs

or that area surrounding the suburbs

it was an outpost. scanner outpost gamma-222.

a monitoring station, for technical reasons as far as possible from the city and the anomaly, the anomalyobverse.

little glitches were happening all the time.

that's why i was there! one of the most qualified technoplumbers in the history of humanity

i had a few small rooms, 'net connection, coffee maker, a GIANT PILE of spare parts...

it was lonely, but with minibreaks to the city and holocoms with old classmates, not too bad.

from young astronauts in love part (2/4)

Ack, the Red Sox.

Boston is no longer long-suffering sports-wise (except maybe for hockey fans) but it would be nice if our teams continue to show long-term strength.

Ah, civic pride. "Our millionaire manchildren can totally kick your millionaire manchildren's butts!". Or maybe "Our coaches and business men make better use of their large sports market financing than nearly anyone!" which is better, but not much.

Young Astronauts in Love

chapter 2

The setup on GHIBAL 3 was kind of odd

There was so much we didn't know about the anomaly, it really kept the scientists busy, and some of the lawyers

sometimes they had to do research the outposts. there was a minilab for them, with its own coffee maker.

then, one day...

lydia showed up

lydia was one of the lab-scouts. THE fastest jetter i had ever seen

the scientist-scouts were the elite of the elite.

and lydia in the lab... her specialty was this unspace stuff i could just barely get the outlines of

didn't stop me from trying though!

techs are supposed to ask questions, and she was pretty patient

and so it rolled on... lab-scouts came and lab-scouts went.

my own work was pretty interesting, and i had a few side projects

for a while i had a theory she was showing up more often than her research demanded

it was tough to tell. her stuff was pretty obstruse. and it wasn't like i was the only lab she stopped at.

probably i was just projecting

women! or maybe just people.

compared to them, circuits were cake.

maybe her research was about the kind of complexity i'm thinking of

circuits:on, off, mu. you don't understand something, you set up testcases, you can isolate your assumptions and test them...

i've always been pretty easy to read

one time it was near the holiday break. we were talking schedules.

"had you noticed how often i'm here? i've virtually had to make up a new branch of anomaly wave dynamic to justify my trips here."

"i'll bet you say that to all the techs!" i said

no, she hadn't

When I write Josh, who lives in Japan, I oddly switch to more Japanese english stylings.. "please enjoy this book" for "I hope you enjoy"..
<<this is not Ibiza / this is not Cologne / this is not Osaka / this is not Lisbon>>
Hofstadter points out a thing that makes me say English is a bit broken; in most other languages conscious is the same word as conscience.
Filled with a kind of weary melancholy. Maybe I'm just tired.

from young astronauts in love part (3/4)

Like I twittered the other day, when I write Josh, the American living in Japan I got to visit last March I find myself switching to more Japan-English stylings... I wrote "please enjoy this book" for "I hope you enjoy this book", and in general there's a deference thing going on.

I also like when encountering little bits of India English... today part of our offshore QA team asked me to "Please do the needful" for what an American would write as "Please do what needs to be done". The India version is more concise! Also, my Aunt has mentioned that she's had to learn not mark down the Indian phrase "According to me..." in places where an American would use "in my opinion..."

You wonder which of these things represent differences in outlook, and which are just arbitrary turns of phrase.

Young Astronauts in Love

chapter 3

those were some great times

we figured out how to schedule leave time together

cities look better when you're with someone

something about the bigness, the aspiration, even a medium university / corporate / federation city like this one.

i mean, small change compared to what humanity was aiming for with the ghibal anomaly

but like the old wisdom says, "the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion."

but it's the little things. knowing where to get a good raspberry lime rickey

touching hands at the theater

hanging out with friends as a couple

even the shamelessly goofy stuff. thanks to the anomaly, we were able to watch the sunset every direction at once

still, there was a lot of work to do. the anomaly obverse beckoned!

it was a long drive back. luckily, neither of us needed to actually drive...

time passed. she had to make her rounds, but gamma-222 was really becoming her base-away-from-base.

and my side project was coming along

actually, in retrospect, i think the project helped catch Lydia's eye, the months before

nothing too ground-breaking but I was proud of it...

it was looking to be the most advanced 'bot on GHIBAL 3, all made from my giant pile of parts,

finally it was time for the full AI/body connection and powerup...

something wasn't quite right...

"RUN!" I shouted.

luckily, lydia didn't need to run

back at the minilab there was a universal kill switch

guess i know why fed regs require the cutoff circuit... no one thinks they're building a frankenstein!

later the post-mortem revealed it was "anomalous" radiation and the virtual synapses.

actually, years after that lydia wrote her dissertation on the interaction.

Lovely but drafty stained glass windows by bed. Putting up that taut plastic sheeting... window condoms, basically, with the same +s and -s
(btw, self-medicated earlier with a choco-taco. like 7-11 brand prozac)
Hoftstadter says how the (cognitive) ability for a species to support a concept of Friendship may be a decent measure of soul/consciousness.
"FedEx Kinkos is now FedEx Office"?Aw, man... why would they change from an obscene clown name to sounding like a Microsoft ripoff?
My "Young Astronauts in Love" comic reminded mom of how "space medicine" was her 7th grd career hope(she willed herself not to get carsick!)
So my mom willed herself not to get carsick. And I willed my feet not to be ticklish. Are those pretty typical feats of willpower?
The Fat Boys did one of their "rap remakes" of "Sex Machine"?? And I was amused enough to rate it at >= 3 stars so it got on my iPhone???

from young astronauts in love (4/4)

Concluding chapter of Young Astronauts in Love!

You can see the whole thing on one page at kirk.is/astro.

It's funny, I had been thinking that the original single panel comic had been inspired by the Lisa Nowak "stalker astronaut" story, except the original panel was 2002 and Nowak made news in 2007. (Heh, I had forgotten I made a commemorative Young Astronauts in Love Nowak cartoon then.)

Young Astronauts in Love

chapter 4

but just then the robot incident had left us a bit shaken

and quite a bit turned on

i kept making "robot buddies", but kept them dumb-ish, below the critical synaptic threshold

and lydia's research was deeper than ever.

for her birthday, i made her a robot pet UFO

i think she liked it

a lot. it followed her constantly!

her birthday gift to me was kind of harder to explain...

it was kind of a combination anomaly/holo of the two of us

it's unique, in a strict use of that word. i'm not sure you could make it anywhere besides the anomaly obverse!

during minibreaks, she showed me how to enjoy the planetside... nature stuff i'd never really looked at

at these times, i was happiest.

as far as i can tell, so was she.

but nothing gold can stay

she got her orders. assignment at tylon academy. the big leagues!

we took one last trip to the city

at the sodashop, we had a talk

"i don't know, jake... maybe it's the difference between you and everyone else."

"...the astronaut thing is so temporary for them..."

now, we still write and holo sometimes. she hasn't found anyone new.

so there's still a little hope. not a ton.

she left, but deployments in the federation are funny things, and the anomaly still has some unplumbed depths.

i'll say this, i learned more from lydia than all the other lab-scouts put together.

Peabody MA cop union wants 9/11 as a paid holiday http://tinyurl.com/ma911 . OK, but if it becomes "2nd Monday of Sept." I call shenanigans!
In Pac-Land the pre-eminent linguist / activist is NomNomNom Chomp-sky.
I do love Flann's, the Irish pub literally at the end of my street. A daily $5 special- often a serious bargain- and "they pour a good pint"
pentomino you should find "search" as a link cleverly hidden in the bottom of the page. (Heh, site scalability through obscurity?)

from hot tin roof on a cat

(1 comment)
--No Cats Were Harmed in the Making of this Comic. (Or the first time I made it for Tufts Zamboni in like 1993.)

Tax thoughts for new programs... A billion is a bit over $3 a citizen, $9 or $10 per taxpayer, or so. Multiply by 1,000 for a trillion.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1039130 - Catherine Bowman says the poet Jack Gilbert says it's only possible for a person to fall in love four times in a lifetime. Him reading "The Forgotten Dialects of the Heart" is lovely, lovely.
I might be stupid but I kind of don't get why the consumer confidence index dropped in Feb. Things are bad, but that much worse?

from c:\data\astro_BW


young astronauts in love: roughcut edition

In part because I had misfiled it (no way it should have been a toplevel directory) my attention was drawn to the original black and white sketches I had made for young astronauts in love. I've decided to release that as young astronauts in love: roughcut edition.

The images are black and white, and I wasn't sure if I'd have time to go back and color everything, so I worked to make leaner Lydia visually distinct and more feminine than more stocky Jake. (Which is kind of funny, part of the joke of the original 1 panel cartoon is that you have little idea about gender or personalities of astronauts involved.) In some ways, the color limitation let me give the holograms and Anomaly appearance a bit more visual kick, flashes of blue and green when everything else is strictly monochrome, and thus adding to a sense of "beyond normal physics". Also the panels are the size I sketched at, 400x400 instead of the 200x200 I used in the final version, and I find it kind of interesting how it feels more like a storybook.

Two New Bonus Panels at the bottom, too...

http://www.slate.com/id/2147309/nav/tap1/ - excerpt from the illustrated 9/11 report
http://www.slate.com/id/2227871/ - I mentioned before: "BigBelly" is the evolutionary ancestor of Wall*E
http://www.utne.com/Politics/How-911-Should-Be-Remembered-5279.aspx - a leftish reminder of the stoicism and bravery of ordinary people on 9/11. So weird it got co-opted to justify Iraq.
Boston Sports Radio is generally on AM, except new 98.5. Does iPod nano having FM radio only mean thats the way the tech is going?
I'm pro-Obama, but it's vaguely odd that his "It is a lie, plain and simple" is fine, but "You lie!" is a firestorm. Decorum uber alles!
http://www.offworld.com/2009/09/one-shot-3d-tetris.html - mad at your eyes? Punish them with Stereogram Tetris!
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112564382 - habit forming heartburn meds? - remember kids, pick FUN addictions!
Some friends of mine are experiencing first hand employment problems because of credit checks. What the HELL is the justification for those?

from 24 hour comics day: six toed one eyed battery operated laser sloths

Here's what I've posted at kisrael.com/features/sloths/... it was great fun working with Miller and Kate again. The 100 panel guideline for webcomics is seeming a bit excessive; frankly I didn't have quite that much story, so I added a bestiary thing at the end. Miller got a full stoy drawn and captioned, a first for him, and Kate got a lot of great panels I'll be linking to here. Mille blogged it a bit on his livejournal but it seems to fade out in the early hours.

My previous experience, plus my quick sketch doodle style, let me get done in about 18 hours even after following a false start for the first half hour and then losing another 30-40 minutes of captioning due to laptop failure, so I got a bit of sleep in.

Six Toed One Eyed Battery Operated Laser Sloths is my work for 24 Hour Comics Day 2009.

It is a story I originally came up with in the seventh grade, redone and deconstructed.

You can see the original here - I'd recommend reading it first, it's short, and kind of gives a context to this.

by Kirk Israel

Call me JinJin.

I am a Six Toed One Eyed Battery Operated Laser Sloth.

You could not easily pronounce the name of my home, but it translates as "The Place Where It All Is"

I have six toes, 3 per foot.

And of course, my one eye.

The eye is the source of our laser. We take pride in the strength and accuracy of our lasers.

When I was young, I could drop a Dokdok Tree nut from its Dokdok from a distance of 80 meters!

Batteries are the source of our energy and much of our culture.

We harvest them from our Alkaline Forests.

The battery replacement ritual is very important to us! You can't let just anyone replace your batteries! (We have a name for sloths like that!)

I wish to tell you a story from my past. I was very young, I had just received my first tie from the Tie Store.

(and what a day THAT had been - the ties of that age, so colorful, so much life!)

It was the time our Electronic Parchisi Tournament -

Sloths from across the land gather and through this system our leader is determined.

But as we parchised, a menace was creeping across the land.

They were the Zappers - creatures of electricity wrapped in a skin of malice - moving onto our precious Alkaline Forest like a hoard of locusts.

Long after, we could see that they had stripped the Alkaline trees of their homeland - all that was left was scrubbrush and waste branches.

Old ParNok had just proven his worth to be our leader when word of the Zapper invasion came

We tried to mount a defense. We used our lasers - at first warning shots, and then we used our beams directly.

But it was no use. Laser against Electricity - nothing. Electricity against sloth flesh, however...

...we lost many fine sloths that day.

The Zappers occupied our precious Alkaline Forest, leaving huge swaths of wasteland behind. I weep a single tear when I recall the beauty of that old growth.

Those were dark days. Many sloths went dark for want of batteries.

ParNok called a general meeting. Although I was all but a youngling, still sporting my first tie, I was allowed to speak. I had an idea.

"Lets get Puddo!"

I had met Puddo months before through a strange set of circumstances I will not relate here. But we had traveled together to the land of the Uniccordions, and I saw the respectful distance the Zappers kept from him.

The relationship between Puddo and the Sloths was even then the stuff of legend; something about the lending of a cup of milk during a hard time.

The messenger Mamabird was sent to Puddo's hi-rise condo...

(And that condo was something, hundreds of meters above the ground. He took me up there after our journey, I could see from What's-His-Name Island to Big Lake in the West!)

Puddo was almost arrogant in his confidence. The other sloths took heart in his stance, but even then I saw something else.

Anger? Hunger? Hubris? to this day I'm not certain.

We formed a small party and journeyed to the Alkaline Forrest.

Those first Zappers didn't stand a chance.

I feel honored to have been there to see the great warrior Puddo in his prime!

The Zapper's bolts ricocheted off his soft flesh, leaving just the tiniest scorch marks and the smell of burnt sugar

We hid behind a Flob Rock and hoped it didn't choose that moment to Flob.

The enemy had been beaten. Full of cheer, we went back to the gathering area to report of the glorious victory.

We started preparing small groups of foresters to inspect the forests, and to resume the harvest.

We were ready to resume life, but Puddo warned ParNok against complacency.

He encouraged us to form a war party and follow him. Because of the special relationship I had with Puddo, I was selected to carry the quart bottles of milk that was part of our tribute to the mighty Puddo, as well as some of his sustenance.

"Puddo", I asked, "How will we find them?"

Puddo confided in me that he had had a special device, a relic that could catch voices from the air, that was also excellent at locating Zappers.

For days we followed Puddo as he bounced along. I think I had my batteries changed twice, and could barely keep up.

Finally we spotted the Zappers in the distance.

There were hundreds of them! They had set up some kind of camp in the shadow of a big rock.

I hadn't realized Zappers could breed, but there were small Zappers running around, looking like snogworms after a heavy rain.

Puddo bounced forward. And just stood there.

You could hear a DokDok Tree nut fall.

Dozens and dozens of the Zappers gathered around him.

My fellow sloths and I retreated to the branches of a nearby tree. (We don't look like it, but Six Toed One Eyed Battery Operated Laser Sloths are terrific climbers.)

Some kind of signal was given. Energy started jumping between the Zapper Warriors

Sparks arced every which way, connecting them in a crazy lacework of electricity.

Puddo just stood, and grinned.

Then - the biggest ZAP I've seen and a second later, the loudest CRACK I have ever heard!

I turned my head, my eye blinded by the afterimage.

The air was bitter with ozone.

Puddo was gone.

I nearly cried out, but was sushed by one of my companions.

The Zappers were celebrating.

I couldn't understand their foul tongue, but their tone was clear. I shivered, thinking of what they might try now that they had vanquished our champion.

And then... and then...they looked up.

I could hardly believe it - it was Puddo.

Flocks of disturbed Mamabirds circled him.

But he was.... bigger than before? It was hard to tell, he was so far away

...But somehow his bulk continued to grow, and spread

He landed across the entire encampment

And that was that. The mighty Puddo took a few hours to shrink and regain his shape, made good use of the milk I had carried for all the miles.

For a month after, we roamed across "The Place Where It All Is"

Puddo used his Zappo-Detectomaticmeter and found the last groups of Zappers.

They weren't happy to see him, I'll tell you that at no cost!

At long last it was time to go back.

On our arrival, the Six Toed One Eyed Battery Operated Laser Sloths threw another Electronic Parcheesi Tournament.

(It was mostly our way of celebration, but I think too sloths were happy to see ParNok give up the tie of leadership.)

Puddo bounced back to his condo.

I accompanied him one last time.

He hummed his war song all the way home.


Paint Pond

Tuba Ceral Killer


Hop Rock

Flob Rock

Bop Fish

The Tie Store

Popper Piranha

Zapper Youngling


Water Thingo

The Big Tree

DokDok Tree

Alkaline Tree

Mama Mamabird and baby mamabirds


from remember, kids


http://www.cracked.com/photoshop_67_the-20-worst-possible-ideas-prequels_p20#20 - I grinned

from gasoline


The saddest IMDb page ever: http://imdb.to/aB7D1

If you'll tell me exactly what you're thinking and I tell you exactly what i'm thinking, then we have two minds working together. But most of the time you don't have that, you have bullshit and you have people playing games, and one person thinks life's a fuckin' Sandra Bullock movie and the next guy thinks he's John Wayne, and we're all full of shit. And we all die like that.
Joe Rogan

Got a blood blister carrying a couch Saturday. You know, sometimes I'm surprised and grateful at how few scars/disfigurations are permanent.

from doglogic


Neat to watch the local garbage guys on my walk to work- so deft. One shoved an empty plastic can across the street- how did it not tip??
Surprised the concept "Digital Arts and Crafts" doesn't get more play. There is a Fisher-Price gadget for it, though: http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?e=digitalstudio-product
i'm amused that some white guy referred to the process of americanizing an asian film with white actors and such as 'honking it up'.

The first iPhone couldn't use most headphones without an adapter. (Supposedly for 'shielding' reasons) A weird design faux pas by Apple.
And it's weird that you can edit playlists on the iPhone but it STILL ignores your iTunes folders for playlists- just one big honkin' list.
Or does it? Weird, Playlist Folders are listed as an iOS 4 feature but I'm pretty sure it's ignoring mine...
Don't focus on the one guy who hates you. You don't go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit.

Wanna go to the basement, beautiful?"
"That's the strangest proposition I've ever had. Well, not really.

There's this special biologist word we use for 'stable.' It's 'dead.'
Jack Cohen

from of the moments #1

My 24 Hour Comics Day project this year -- my attempts to come up with an actual story sort of fizzled, so I made this nostalgic and kind of self-indulgent work about moments and memory.... this is part 1 of 4.

this morning i was driving my car.

there was a green leaf stuck on the windshield

i used the wipers. the leaf left an arc of water droplets behind

by the time i picked up my friend, only faint spots remained

the arc of droplets on a windshield late on an autumn morning; these made a moment

when i was a kid i had an idea about the afterlife:

what if it wasn't heaven and clouds, and my mom (and women in general) getting to be angels (my earlier theory)

what if it was just one moment, a freeze frame, extended forever?

that moment would be all you'd have. all your surroundings, everything you were feeling... ...right now, at this moment, i want to tell you some of the moments i remember

as a young child, inspired by something i saw on tv, asking my mom to give me a kitchen knife so i might chivalrously protect her

my grandfather papa sam helping me zip up my pjs, my weewee accidentally getting caught in the zipper...

some moments are family anecdotes, that are mine only through the hearing: my mom yelling up through the laundry chute to toss down kirk's clothes, his response from the tub: 'i don't talk to no walls'

my parents having friends over for dinner - being afraid to spit out the whole ice cube i had put in my mouth

breaking a sapling's branch at mrs davis' house to impress some other kids, and earning her justified wrath

christmas day at friends, my dad saying "MY BABY" and pretending not to give the daughter's dolly back

scared out my wits at sunday school, when the teacher (my aunt) showed a picture of firing squads christians might face during the apocalypse

a tough guy laughing as his compatriot got bothered by a cop, pulling the tree off a leaf as he passed

at the local fairground, they had one hotdog left, and my dad let me have it, he explained that was something dads just did

horsing around with my cousin in grandpa's chair, tipping back and impaling my forehead on a plant stand

one time in the car, dad telling me he loved me, and me feeling squirmy at that kind of direct pronouncement

getting told i was student of the week for my class at my new school, running down the hall and skidding on the floor - the friction blister was about as bad as the teacher chewing me out

an argument with my mom, where she told me my donkey kong jr custom minus the (scary-ish!) mask would be merely cutesy

a field trip to NYC, the waiter at mamma leone's saying he was 'da hudson rivah' as he refilled our water glasses

overnight stays at best friend todd's, the summerhot bedroom with him and me and his little brother talking and avoiding sleep

my dad angry at my "apple ii history quiz" getting a terrible score at the school history fair

shocked when realizing thinking "i hate..." triggered "...everything about this place" one miserable week at music camp

from of the moments #2

My 24 Hour Comics Day project this year -- my attempts to come up with an actual story sort of fizzled, so I made this nostalgic and kind of self-indulgent work about moments and memory.... this is part 2 of 4.

jeff at an after-church get-together, chugging a 2-liter of soda, saying he just 'had to burp', and throwing up all over

my dad, stricken with spinal meningitis, his muscular control system shot, explaining how he just wanted to enact how a son asks for money, and the father takes it out of his wallet, and gives it to him

making dad fried bologna sandwiches in the mornings after he was debilitated, but then stopping, uncomfortable with it all

being teased by my boss mr.j about how i'd furtively slink off to eat my allotted daily candy bar during my pharmacy shift

mr.j convincing me he had a voice controlled radio by sneakily changing stations with the steering wheel control buttons

and mr.j giving his tie to a UPS store clerk who admired it, then grumbling to me on the drive back about how he had to do that

my dad fighting to regain coordination, shakily taking walks around the block

mall fieldtrips with pregnant teens from my the program my mom oversaw, looking a bit like i had my own harem

staying up all night for the first time with beau, playing 'ninja' on the atari 800xl, throwing a joystick at him in frustration

the first kiss - the atomic fireball passed from her mouth to mine

mike d.b. snapping a girls bra - admiring the chutzpah, if not the manners

the chunky black and smelling of machine oil stands in the high school bandroom

marching band, screaming myself hoarse leading boom chikka boom

not stopping to say good morning on what was my dad's last morning

the changing of the honor guard at my dad's salvation army funeral

the state trooper saluting my dad's funeral procession

on a band trip to mexico, one member miming milking a cow in order to request milk, and cornell then just saying "milk please"

music camp, standing on the dew covered field for flag raising, the smell of mess hall

getting pantsed at music camp

sneaking away with d at the end of camp, the grass, her breasts - a first for me... making up for enthusiasm what i lacked in skill.

later during a more traditional courtship of j, calling her up at her house to have her look at the moon with me

ellen showing us a raunchy passage from "tropic of cancer" in the bandroom, and mike and i teasing her with "squish squish" ever after

after a day or two of being sick from school, looking at my horrible acne in the bathroom mirror, and later realizing it was actually chicken pox

flirting with v on the bus to boston, lying on the bus floor and studying her face upsidedown

outside the gubitosi's with v, kissing and kissing and kissing

opening my eyes once then, and seeing her eyes weren't shut either

Somehow the way "Super Pac-Man" transcends the maze a bit with the title character bigger than the tunnels still blows my mind.

CSS-gurus; any explanation for why absolute positioning is in document coordinates UNLESS there's a position:relative'd wrapper?
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/10/hand-the-taxpayer-a-receipt/63909/ - a receipt for taxpayers...
I was a little surprised to find Tammy Faye died a while back. I thought her eye shadow granted her immortality.

from of the moments #3

My 24 Hour Comics Day project this year -- my attempts to come up with an actual story sort of fizzled, so I made this nostalgic and kind of self-indulgent work about moments and memory.... this is part 3 of 4.

feeling so sophisticated and european carrying a spare tampon for v at the school's day at the amusment park

endlessly jamming on the blues scale on the bandroom piano with mike

wrestling v's terribly overstuffed suitcase before she went back to germany

mesmerized by the weight on a spring on a string pendulum in physics class

romancing ms., watching for shooting stars on the shore of the lake until her dad came with a flashlight

the camaraderie of the dressing room for my high school's guys and dolls production, singalongs of "you've lost that loving feeling" and "pretty woman"

my big jule getting hit in the big jules by a clumsy sky masterson during dress rehearsal, the gratitude for being able to just lie there for a while

kissing and snuggling in the back of mike's car, the soundtrack to blues brothers and good morning vietnam

watching mike getting his nose broken by a bully

in portugal, running to catch a crazily crowded train after visiting its even more crowded dining car to get beers

that same trip, realizing i was drunk for the first time, regarding myself in the cafe's bathroom's mirror

tipsy at the deserted train station, telling baptista about v and the dear john letter; him telling me about his hopless crush on his french tutor

once college started, finding out baptista had died; "let it be" coming on, and making me weep in my dorm room

buying my mom a clown music box; one of the first gifts i remember feeling generous about

those summers working as a counselor at a daycamp for mentally handicapped kids had a lot of moments of their own

ms's cramps halfway up the statue of liberty, helpless as she rolled on the floor in agony

noticing how piglike my reflection was in my tuba

pepper flashing her breasts us in mike's frat's basement

visiting mom at her - our - new york apartment, and its view of sunset over the hudson

in that same apartment, clambering over the 19th story roof with an australian visitor -- 'photography isn't about photos. photos never come out right. it's about the *adventure*"

l. standing in thought and her underwear in my dorm room, an inadvertant venus de waldorf

improvising fanfares with the band director john on trumpet as a stalling tactic during commencement

reconnecting with v. in new york city, the ball drop at times square

buying my aunt a great big vase from martha's vineyard to apoogize for making out with a girl in her living room

mom erasing 3,000 i owed her from college as a graduation gift, and the card she made to tell me

a roadtrip to cleveland with r after graduation, going to those gardens with her and mike, lazing in the sun

A Jonamac apple followed by an atomic fireball tastes like oatmeal and cinnamon. Diggin' it.

from of the moments #4

My 24 Hour Comics Day project this year -- my attempts to come up with an actual story sort of fizzled, so I made this nostalgic and kind of self-indulgent work about moments and memory.... this is part 4 of 4.

on the porch of my first apartment with jt, eating pasta and listening to the soundtrack to "the birdcage". this hit me as 'a moment' when i was in that moment

dylan's odd gag of pulling out his work-id-on-a-retracting-spool like he was a pullstring doll that could only say "i love bank boston. i love bank boston"

driving to new york on rainy night, my civic spins out, luckily the truck was a good distance away

buying m. expensive sunglasses, an early token in our relationship

an asian gentleman disarming my clogged traffic road rage on memorial drive by waggling moose antlers

stockpiling jugs of water ahead of y2k, just in case

making a german 7 year old giggle with a terrible "auto-baum" draw and cartoon

design group hanging out upstairs after layoffs

looking down the dark, snow covered road before finishing the walk home; it also registered as one of these moments i wanted to fix in my mind

endless games of "pokemon puzzle league" with eb

working with m. to saw the legs off a table too big to move and restore them; her insecurity, the skepticism of eb

during knowledge transfer when leaving a job, in joking anger i tossed a remote at noor, but hit and hurt him for real.

getting so sunburned this one time with k that my chest was pretty much the same shade as my nipples...

a weird moment of hubris when jz pulled up a game site at work as we were waiting for a compile

the moment of dawning horror realizing the oreo handed to me had actually been pre-licked - my mouthfull response 'wheahs da cweamy fillin'? is a moment providing many laughs for eb in the years since...

the craziness of my first 24 hour comics day; forgoing sleep to tell a story i had wanted to tell for a long while

the first kiss with amber, the electricity and sudden spark of this being the one...

later, a trip to niagara falls, and her nervousness on the oversized ferris wheel there...

that same trip, weeping on my dad's grave

and on the way backcoming to the where the church where i lived in an apartment with my folks was with amber, and seeing the grassy lot

so, those are my moments. some of my moments.

moments, and memories. some researchers think memories aren't so much made but remade; the act of remembering cements and reshapes the neuronic pathways

i guess that's one thing photographs do; become the canonical record, the mold for future remembering. and these comic panels will guide my future memory, I'm sure

is it telling what showed up here? more from my younger days than recently, and my dad shows up more than my mom; i'm not sure what to make of that

i think somehow i want my moments to outlast me; that's why i'm writing this now

it's tough to let go.

http://www.slate.com/id/2270046/ - the pitchforks of the right vs. the snickering of the left, which hurts the other more?
http://gizmodo.com/5656971/url-shorteners-in-peril-as-libyan-government-seizes-ly-domain - bit.ly in trouble? Dislike shorteners overuse.
Triangle man hates particle man - They have a fight, Triangle wins. Is this Plato's "World of Forms" triumphing over the mundane world?

from today's project...


Today I worked on a Newbies Guide to the upcoming Hub Crawl Puzzle/Photo Hunt... sadly Amber and I might miss it this year (it might be when we're in Europe) but still I enjoyed making a friendly introduction to it... I'll post a link as soon as the copy gets reviewed by the Hub Crawl's crack team of staff ninjas!
These public employees won't see their names on Forbes Richest People anytime soon, but it is safe to say that in 2010 approximately 40 percent of Arlington's town and school employees earned salaries above the town's median nonfamily (individual) income of $54,517.
The Arlington Advocate.
Not sure the author is clear on what "median" means...

from this is why i don't guess


For under $300 I got a 5 yr old refurb Thinkpad X41 from Microcenter... weird to see 4:3 screen again! No "windows" key, but kinda awesome pen on screen tablet. Man, I'm such a sucker for touchscreens.

from hero team

So I'm taking up Miller's 30 Day Drawing Challenge: Superheroes... the first week is setting up the basic team, here's mine.

I'd encourage anyone who ever doodles to give this a try! If nothing else, admire some of the cool work that's being put on the tumblr!
Hate the device lock-in implied by iMessage. The goal is Apple's world, we just live in it. Hope it's the next "Ping".
Realize that I have two non-overlapping camps of followees tweeting keynotes: E3 games and Apple. Mixed feelings not being in former group.
Every time I copy and paste an HTML attribute in Eclipse, it hourglasses for about 20 seconds. Rage building.
Ain't no party like a Turing party, 'cause a Turing party may or may not stop.

from to the rescue!

Another week's worth of my entries in Miller's 30 Day Drawing Challenge:Superheroes.

I think Iron Munro is one of the sweetest ideas ever, especially in terms of the connection with the novel "Gladiator"- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Munro

from final days of superheroes

Finally finished 30 Days of Super Heroes! It was great fun to have some thoughtful scenes to draw, and I learned much about blocking a scene, and then using oilskin-ish layers to put a final version over an even rougher sketch.
Life is a 3-D movie without the glasses.
Ronnie Shakes

from dealing with mortality: day 1

For 24 Hour Comics Day, I decided to try doing a "graphic novel" version of The Skeptic's Guide to Morality, and will serialize it here...

Dealing With Mortality: A Skeptic's Guide

"Love makes us poets and the approach of death should make us philosophers."
--George Santayana

Coming to grips with mortality- this is the biggest personal issue that every one of us will have to deal with.

It can be especially difficult for people who don't believe that there's an afterlife waiting for them.

To contemplate the end of our selves in this world is frightening; to not convince yourself that there is life after this world requires a special kind of bravery. I'm writing this comic to try to share the thoughts that have allowed me to understand and accept the situation.

My Experience

"Kirk, it's your birthday, do not be obsessed with death [...] At least not until the project is finished."
--Rob Baum, co-worker

Every once in a while, I'll have a sleepless night, suddenly aware of how temporary I am, trying to accept the smallness of my place in this world, overwhelmed by the weirdness of being.

Other days I'll be unable to fully focus on the tasks at hand, obsessing about how everything I'm looking at is impermanent, and that my viewpoint will be extinguished someday.

Sometimes I'll start playing the numbers game: if I lived to be 80, I have just under 30,000 days, just over 4,000 weeks- and I've lived through a number of those already!

(One odd little math trick I stumbled on during one of my existential anxiety attacks- if I have the three score and ten years allocated to me by the bible, that's ten weeks for every day of a single year.)

I had a series of that kind of "attack" in the spring of the year 2000, but over the course of months, I started to feel better. I'm sure that it wasn't entirely an intellectual crisis, but one with its roots in disturbances in the neurochemcal stew of my brain.

There seems to be a definite correlation between these attacks and stress at work, for example, just like there was when I went through my Y2K anxiety phase. (What can I say? There seemed to be the potential for a lot more difficulties than emerged...)

Beyond that, I've come up with some quotes, ideas and philosophies, ways of looking at the situation-- without compromising my intellectual integrity-- that comfort me and allow me to deal with the world as it relates to me.

from dealing with mortality: day 2


The Mission of this Site

"We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."
--Dr. Mark Vonnegut, M.D.

I'm hoping that by making an online comic with these thoughts, I might help a few people who might be having the same anxieties. (I've read essays about the personal sharing that can occur on the web as the key to the next step in our cultural evolution; I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it is the most accessible universally-available publishing medium ever.)

I'm also creating this as a resource for my future self, a place to come back to when I again feel my anxieties rise. (If I started to think in these anxious terms when I was 25, what's going to be like when I'm in my 40s? My 70s?)

I've targeted this page at skeptics for a reason. If you have faith, real faith, in a solid Abrahamic religious doctrine, you should be able to find your solace in your conception of the afterlife.

I don't mean to dismiss this as an easy task: our animal nature leaves us with instinctive fear that even the most spiritually trusting may find difficult to overcome. (One thing I find sad is that I'm afraid to bring up my fears of death with some of the people I love the most, because I don't accept their answer of trusting in God.)

Also, for the believer, having a comforting philosophy might be a reverse form of Pascal's Wager, a comfort in times of doubt.

Lifespan And Our Perception of Time

"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different."
--Kurt Vonnegut

Life can seem all too short.

Compared to the length of the universe, it's an eyeblink.

But compared to some other things we consider really long lasting: republics and empires, many buildings-- most of us don't do so bad.

My grandmother, who died at the age of 82 in 2001, witnessed over a third of the history of the United States...

sure that's just a fraction, and yes the USA is a young country, but consider all the change that she has seen: it is a huge expanse of time.

Time is largely subjective. I have a reasonable shot at living longer than my grandmother, and experiencing even more change in the world.

In the book "Faster", Gleick mentions how our perception of time is really a measure of rate of change, driven by the length of time between 'interesting' events.

This can lead to some unfortunate results: since, in general, every decade of our life has much less change (in the form of development and maturation) than the one before,

by some estimates the second half of our life might seem to go by twice as the first, with the second quarter going twice as fast as the first quarter, etc.

This might be so. I haven't lived long enough to refute it.

But I think that if I manage to fill my life with changes: learning, reading, thinking- and keeping track of those changes, I might help to modify my perception.

I think I'm helped by my journal (an ongoing collection of quotes and bon mots, and then a private "dear diary" journal I keep on my website) as well as my poor memory.

My inability to clearly recall things from as short as a week ago- but being reminded by them by the entries in my journal- helps me realize how full of life those ten thousand minutes were, and how full the next ten thousand will be.

So much can happen in a minute, if only we stay alert to the wonder around us!

How Money Got Weird. Sometimes I think the commies were right. Or at least... that there's good capitalism that is a fantastic engine for getting stuff done, and bad capitalism that's nothing but fancy pants ways of shuffling money around...

from dealing with mortality: day 3


Sleep and its Relationship to The End

"But what is all this fear of and opposition to oblivion?
What is the matter with the soft darkness, the dreamless sleep?"
--James Thurber

I read a very good book: Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained.

One of the things the work made me realize is that I'm not always as conscious as I think I am.

My inner voice, literally the voice in my head that I used to identify as "me", is often silent--

the systems that are always buzzing my head don't always marshal themselves up into a distinct speech pattern.

In fact, I'm running on autopilot most of the time-- the pandemonium that makes up my mind isn't always- as a 'group', or at least on the level that makes itself known to itself as a whole- aware of what it's up to.

The book makes a very good case for a view of the mind as this series of competing/co-operating systems

(and argues very strongly against the idea of some 'inner-self' where the self and thinking 'really' happens, serviced by all the outer processes of subconsciousness and perception),

sometimes using language as a framework,

sometimes using other methods of imitating our sense-impressions to take advantage of our specialized perception systems.

My own introspection goes further, (though of course one of the points of the book is that we should take our own internal observations with a large grain of salt,) and says that I'm not always aware of what's going on.

If I desire to, I can think metathoughts- thoughts about my thoughts- and metametathoughts, and metametametathoughts, and so on all the way up-- that's what consciousness is all about.

But I usually don't.

And, like all you other mammals out there, I sleep.

Perchance to dream-- but only sometimes.

Sometimes I'm "out like a light". Well, not completely-- I'm sure that some one could hook up some sensors to my head, and clearly see a fair amount of happy neurochemical humming and bopping, even when I'm in deepest of deep sleep.

But not to me-- I may not be dead to the world (as long as the world has sufficiently sensitive instruments) but I'm dead to myself.

So what's the point? It's like Poe said: "Sleep... those little slices of death; O how I loathe them!"

He was expressing a frustration with having to spend so much of his life in a comatose state.

And he has a point: sleep seems to make our finite lifespans even more finite.

And yet-- and yet, it's a safe way of practicing for what we all will finally come to.

Yes, the idea of "death as sleep" is hardly new, but I hope by pointing out how it won't be a totally new experience,

how even when we're awake and about we aren't necessarily awake in the ways we find most important to our sense of selves,that I can make the lack of our selves in the universe less frightening--

especially given the fact that, by definition, we won't be there to be scared at that time.

http://www.ij.org/about/4058 -- wow, fuck civil forfeiture abuse. that is a travesty. Averaging about 3 incidents a year? Damn.
Heh, love that the new iOS app is physical greeting cards. Reminds me of "Tim Cook: I'm Thinking Printers"
My favorite iOS 5 feature gets no mention: splittable screens for iPad, so you can thumb type while holding it...
The urge to be top dog is a bad urge. Inevitable tragedy. A sensible person seeks to be at peace, to read books, know the neighbors, take walks, enjoy his portion, live to be eighty, and wind up fat and happy although a little wistful when the first coronary walks up and slugs him in the chest.
Garrison Keillor, "It Could Be Worse"

from dealing with mortality: day 4


The Dangerous Myth of Eternity

"But I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn't frighten me."
--Richard Feynman

There's an old chestnut of a story, where there's a powerful King (some say Solomon)

He is searching for an artifact-or may just a bit of wisdom- that would make a sad man happy and a happy man sad.

One of his servants brings back a ring inscribed with "This too shall pass."

The Universe won't last forever.

Nothing is forever, except for the fact that... nothing is forever.

Does this scare you? It shouldn't. By the definition of the universe, the nature of being, nothing can be more natural, more fundamental to everything.

But of course it scares us.

As creatures who live only a few levels beyond our instincts, we like things to be consistent.

Stasis might be boring, but predictablity is safer than chaos.

And we want to extend that desire for predictability for as long as we can imagine, which is forever.

It's not just our instincts that tell us to hope for eternity: our culture and religion do as well.

I blame my years of faith for leading me to expect things-- anything-- to be able to last forever and ever, world without end, Amen.

Without that mythology, I might be more able to accept the universe that science-

(thoughtful, peer-reviewed, testable-hypothesis science, our very best way of knowing things about the world-) tells us that it probably is.

The gods refuse to answer. They refuse because they do not know.
W.A. Dwiggins
A striking quote, but I'm wondering if the orignal question was "What typeface shall I use"...
What's the best counter to being "Privilege Denying Dude"? Privilege acknowledging seems obnoxious. Do you have to become a campaigner?
Ugh, Steve Jobless.

from dealing with mortality: day 5

(1 comment)

Time to Waste

"Time which you enjoyed wasting was not wasted"
--G.K. Chesterton

Another thing that troubles us about mortality is the idea that we're not going to have time to do the things we need to do.

Even if we don't know what that is-- and I'm not sure that anyone really does-- we worry that we won't have time to do it in.

(It's like John Cage said when Life magazine asked him and other notables "Why Are We Here?"--"No why. Just here.")

Life can't have meaning except what we find in it.

We should be nice to each other and do unto others.

We should be gentle and kind and forgiving and generous.

Patient with others as well as yourself.

Besides these ideas, it's up to you to work out your destiny.

There's a good chance that you'll be happier if you're not a crusader, or at least not a crusader all the time.

So once you figure out what part of your life you need to devote to the causes are important to you,

once you take into account the time you need to spend at work,

to keep body and soul together,

your time is yours.

If you can fill it with exciting adventure, living one big beer commercial of a lifetime, that's good.

If you live in simpler circumstances, if you rarely look beyond a night of tv, a few beers, a good book... that can be fine as well, so long as you can be fine with it.

(Romantic love help as well; most people can find if it they search, but almost everyone will be stuck without it for some period in their life.)

So figure out what makes you happy, and do it;

be content in the fact that you can do things to make you happy,

and don't worry that time is wasting or that you don't have forever to waste time in;

you have your own lifespan, and that's all anyone will ever have or has ever had.

from dealing with mortality: day 5


Time Isn't Lost

"The past resembles the future as water resembles water"
--Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)

Here's another change of perspective I found useful: I used to place no value on the past.

Now, I see that to have a realistic appreciation of my life, I can't be so casual about disregarding an ever growing part of it!

Time is past, present, and future.

Besides the standard advice of being in the moment, and appreciating the time at hand, people need to learn to value their own past experience,

to see the days gone by as little precious items that we peruse and enjoy in and of themselves.

(Not that you should 'live in the past' either while you still have plenty of living in front of you.)

Our optimistic natures cause us to always look to the future, to make up for the shortcomings of the past, to have a chance to accomplish the things we've always wanted to do.

But our pasts live on, in our selves, and we need to treat ourselves with the respect we deserve.

Finding The Point

" 'Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies-- 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.' "
--Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

I suppose one risk of over-rationalizing death is failing to appreciate life.

When you manage to stop fearing the idea of dying, you had better make damn sure you appreciate why you're living-

doubly so if you're a skeptic without a Deity telling you taking your own life is wrong.

I can't tell you why life is worth living, or what the point of life is,

though I suspect part of the point is to figure out what the point is.

I do think life is better than death because it's interesting; that alone is a start of a reason to keep dancing.

Avogadro's Number: About # of graphite atoms in a pencil led. Or in grapefruits, Volume of THE EARTH. Mind blown. Atoms are so so so tiny.
Paraphrase of Steve Jobs paraphrasing a song: "We're all just renting time here on planet Earth." Any idea what song?
Sometimes when I read technical concepts that seem to have poor power/weight ratios, but maybe I'm just dumb, I think of EJBs circa 2000AD
- I find this weird Red Sox "John Lackey" parody weirdly compelling. Whut-Ev-Uh!

from ipad bedtime story

(Amber didn't actually say the last two things, but it would have been funny if she had!)
'Obama wants to create a secular, post-Christian pagan/hedonistic technocracy!!!!' If only, man. If only...

from thoughts of the produce section


click for fullsize

Oh, christ. RT @neiltyson: Just an FYI: The year 1980 is as far in today's past as 1947 was to 1980.

from our octopus overlords

A comic strip I drew today, visting with EBB + Co in Rockport. The panels came to me in a dream a few weeks back.

from October 26, 2014

I still play "Draw Something" with one buddy; nice to have a daily dose of doodling. I was pleased with this morning's rendition of "Death" -- also an inspiration for my tuba's costume this year that hopefully I'll get around to making today.

BTW, FWIW I *really* dislike Paul Klee's quote "A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.". Especially when used and abused by 'Draw Something's Notifications...
o my god so many new hampshire political ads around the patriots game shut up shut up SHUT UP.

"99% voted w/ Obama" is not the negative for me that it apparently is for its target demo
What's a big vegetarian/vegan indulgence? Like, is there a rough parallel to tucking in to a nice piece of steak?

from July 26, 2015

My comic now in print!

...now what? ;-)

from the pitch

The Pitch @ MICE: "Cures crippling existential dread or your money back!" And I mean it.

(PS, many thanks to Liz for hauling me over and helping me set up stuff, and then even running back to the house to grab my business cards, which by chance had a sample of art from a prior draft of the book)

from December 17, 2015


advent day 17

How satisfying is it to see your book prominently placed on the counter of the comics shop you've been frequenting for decades? ( The Million Year Picnic )

Is it perverse to be critiquing 30 year old computer menus?

At Saturday's big Climate, Justice, Jobs rally, JP Honkers Chet and Sandie...

Oh man Stop and Shop has a lot of types of Progresso soups @ $1 down from the usual $3... I'm stocking up for winter like a hoarder!

from October 1, 2016

I was thinking about doing 24 Hour Comics Day, but decided to divert my gumption elsewhere... to make myself feel better about that I recreated a roughly 10 year old comic I made.

from so glad i saved this for two decades


...and that I added the date when I drew it (The flick in question is "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)")
Trump: "You know they have a word. It sort of became old fashioned. It's called 'a nationalist'. And I say 'really, we're not supposed to use that word? You know what I am? I'm a nationalist, OK?"

Yeah the word became "old fashioned" when we beat the "National Socialists" aka Nazis, you dog-whistling ass. If you were actually a patriot you'd be ok just calling yourself an American.
"font-family: sans-serif;" is the "house red" of web design.

from resolute

I have mixed feelings about New Year' Resolutions. Looking back, a few good things have come from them for me, but not many.

Here's what I'd like to do:

1. On a DAILY basis I'd like to do at least one thing for Mind (like read a chapter of a book), Body (there are some exercises I've been neglecting that might help get past a recurring but minor arm ache) or Spirit (there's a meditation app I've had languishing on my phone for months)
2. On a WEEKLY basis I'd like to revive my 2001 resolution of "catch up with one person I'd like to stay in contact with a week". This might have been too ambitious when I thought it meant "in person", but if I include email or call contact, it might be good.

(For both of those it helps to have a good Todo app with recurring items - my favorite being "2Do", which handles multiple sublists better than any I've seen.)


3. Continue being less angsty and procrastinatory when tasks are triggering insecurity. I tried to make this comic panel with an appropriate quote:

(I'd like to make a sequel of sorts to, or maybe rather an anthology including So, You're Going to Die, with all the best ideas I've encountered in my 40-odd years here, though I wish I had an advisor/editor whose taste I trusted, to help me how to make best use of the tools I have available (both intrinsic and external) and to figure out if I should commission an illustrator who has worked at honing their craft, or if there is enough charm in my doodle style to carry the day - and if the latter, which of my gimmick styles works best.)

Worth reposting: