July 26, 2017

"The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place, forcing us to reassess the value of all humans to one another."
--Neil deGrasse Tyson, from "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry". A brisk read, I'm reading my mom's copy, that was one line near the end she underlined.
"Sometimes, my body feels
like a burial ground for all the people
I should have become."
--from "Requiem" by Molly Gardner. That's a little more - ok, a lot more - negative than I feel about it, but it's a striking image. I guess I try to feel more like a museum showing off all the people I might've become, or might still be...
My theory was that [the readers] just thought they cared about . . . the action; that really, although they didn't know it, they cared very little about the action. The things that they really cared about, and that I cared about, were the creation of emotion through dialogue and description; the things they remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain of his face and his mouth was half opened in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death. He didn't even hear death knock at the door. That damn paper clip kept slipping away from his fingers and he just wouldn't push it to the edge of the desk and catch it as it fell.
--Raymond Chandler, letter to Frederick Lewis Allen. Readers of "Tropic of Cancer" might remember a similar topic mentioned by one of the characters in terms of the squish squish monologue....so often it's that tiny visceral detail that makes it, like in the erstwhile obscure meme "Cracking Open a Cold One With The Boys", which I find weirdly evocative.
Actually the page of Chandler stuff had another good bit:
The important thing is that there should be a space of time, say four hours a day at least, when a professional writer doesn't do anything else but write. He doesn't have to write, and if he doesn't feel like it, he shouldn't try. He can look out of the window or stand on his head or writhe on the floor. But he is not to do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines, or write checks. Write or nothing. It's the same principle as keeping order in a school. If you make the pupils behave, they will learn something just to keep from being bored. I find it works. Two very simple rules, a. you don't have to write. B. you can't do anything else. The rest comes of itself.

July 26, 2016bestof_photos

Best Photos of 2005, marking the halfway point of this project, years-wise.

It's been kind of therapeutic going going through years past this way; it's been a nice way of reviewing the past and lengthening my sense of the chronological space without being stuck there.

Not quite see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, but along those lines.

I started dating Ksenia in late 2004, at some point she was helping friends and relatives arrange flowers, I liked this photo.

At one point most of her family went skiing, and I stayed with her and her grandfather. During a blizzard. Snow was above my car's windows...

Alex and Tonya's wedding. I always liked the intimacy shown in this one.

EB vs Sponge Bob Pinata.

Coworker Noor enjoying my office toy Hulk Hands.

Ksenia and I hiked Monadnock - April was a bit early for the path we were taking with friends. Andy is in this photo as well.

Ksenia joined me on a work trip to Chicago.

We got kind of lost in Chicago, and were tired.

The Lynn shore. The light was kind of amazing.

Coworker prank - they used my hoody to make a "virtual me" when I was out with a hurt back. "Works on my machine" is such a great catchphrase for the developer.

Another winter, more snow shoveling.

2005 Bonus Images!
Ksenia and Me in the Chicago's Cloud Gate sculpture.

Another shot from that sunset at the Lynn shore.

Ksenia - same shore, different day. I love how the clouds mirrored on the sands looks about the same as in the sky.

Erin over an Alien Bill birthday cake

Getting political fatigue to the point of burn out.

Whichever side wins, it's not the end of the world, or the republic. We'll get shitty judges, lives (especially for vulnerable classes) will be made worse, we'll continue banking on some future geo-engineering crap rather than actually thinking about climate change, we'll be more at risk for authoritarian crap, we'll be a few ticks closer to nuclear armageddon. Trump will be Putin's man in the white house, etc.

Most of us will still muddle through in conditions that are the envy of 99% of the history of humanity. We'll be that much farther from our potential as a species, and in general being on the wrong side of history.

We've survived LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, GWB, Newt Gingrich.

Life would go on.

We can do better, and knock wood will with Hillary. It's frustrating that it all comes down to a few swing states. Even more frustrating that we've so clustered around two very different narratives of what it means to be a good, smart American.
Dilbert on Corporate Slogans like Make the world a better place
From 15 Twitter Jokes Everyone Should Read:

Young children are like sponges. They are the filthiest thing in your house.

I told a joke about a mandatory meeting once, you had to be there

Any dog can be a guide dog if you don't care where you're going

July 26, 2015comic

My comic now in print!

...now what? ;-)

July 26, 2014photos

Today we played at the Haley House Community Table, in Roxbury! The local, pay-what-you-want/can food was so good, as was the DJing after, and this panoramic glitch photo of the Honk Band is so awesome...

July 26, 2013

"Oh yeah? Well why don't you make like a tree and live in peace for a 100 years, needing nothing, feeling nothing, drinking the beautiful sky"
I don't mean to take a serious mental health issue some people wrestle with lightly, but lately I've been thinking about certain eating disorders, and how the choice to starve oneself can actually be a manifestation of the need to control SOMETHING in one's life-- "things may seem out of control, but at least THIS is something I can exert total influence over."

While it can be taken to unhealthy extremes, I think I'd be well served using a diluted form of that attitude in different parts of my life, from eating to work ethic.

For the eating, not the point of a disorder, obviously, but reminding myself that while the fight against a body's ability to subvert any set of good eating intentions (thanks to its innate need to prepare for some future famine or other unknown) is well-nigh unwinnable in the long run, at any given moment of mindfulness, I have the ability not to grab that damn snack.

For the work ethic, it's the desire to throw up my arms and run away when I fear a challenge is beyond my ken. On an intellectual level, I know I'm smart, but no genius, and my ability to quickly get the gist of something is sometimes countered by a symmetrical inability to really latch on to or remember details. (Or remember much of anything, sometimes!) My inner child, though, is convinced that my value as a person is tied to me being the cleverst and smartest, and that any endeavor that points to that not being the case needs to be avoided at all cost, no matter how destructive and hilarious self-contradictory a strategy that is.

Wow. That point of "value as a person" just came to me as I typed it, but I think it's a critical way of framing things I hadn't thought of before. I think it echoes some of what I posted the other day with http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/brand-men-must-be-needed-because-we-cant-be-wanted/ where some men have a big problem believing they could possibly be wanted so they work to make themselves needed.

Somehow along the line, as a young'un, I think I developed that fragile way of establishing my self-esteem, and that Smart and Worthy is something people ARE, intrinsically, and not something they do. That's a terrible thing to think! And as far as I can tell, it's a view I kind of came up with on my own. At least, I don't think I should blame my folks for that one, but I don't know who, other than me. Maybe the nuns at Catholic School; the first grade teacher who let me go at my head-of-the-class pace, the disciplinarian nun the next year who shoved me back (sometimes literally), the testing they ran that said yeah, he's a clever kid alright, my parents (probably correct, and completely understandable) decision to keep me in a normal school, and just skip a grade for a while rather than take up the offer to put me to an advanced boarding school (where presumably I might have been exposed to kids who were even smarter than Kirk, Boy-Genius)

Maybe all that froze that inner child, vigilantly defended by other brain susbsytems (this concept borrows from the Internal Family Systems model, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_Family_Systems_Model ). Sigh. To quote David Brooks:
"'Know thyself,' the Greek sage advised. But of course this is nonsense. Truly happy people live by the maxim 'Overrate thyself.' [...] Each of these people is a god of self-esteem, dwelling on a private Olympus."
But man, it's hard to get shtuff done from way on high like that.

snow what

July 26, 2012

--from a page of JoshWMC's Disney Princesses in their battle forms.
It's too bad the Pneumatic Diversity Vents got dropped from Portal 2, because identifying but not judging seems like a good idea.
"A life oriented to leisure is in the end a life oriented to death-- the greatest leisure of all."
--Kenneth Lamott
http://pica-pic.com/#/search_light/ -- from the "I remember that!" dept: a great LCD game I owned as a kid, "Search Light"-- like a linear "time management" game

smile uncle bill!photos

July 26, 2011
--MELAS rediscovering the fun of her camera...

i don't talk to no wallshistory

July 26, 2010

Sumana (of yesterday's post) recently suffered a loss in her family, and encouraged people to post happy memories of their own families.... my response was:
I think what I like most are some of the little anecdotes and catchphrases that become part of one family's lore. I worry that they might not seem to have such comedic legs to outsiders (which is part of the point, kind of) but I guess the one that comes to mind is this:

In the late 70s or early 80s or so, we were living in a house that had a laundry chute down the basement. My mom got down there only to find she had forgotten my coat that needed washing. My dad was taking a bath when he heard the voice from the chute: "toss down Kirk's coat!"

His stentorian response "I DON'T TALK TO NO WALLS" is a family shibboleth to this day...
I also added one I've mentioned once here before:
And another one is from my toddlerhood, when my mom purposefully moved a bowl of grapes to the center of a big piano to keep it away from me - she came back to find me having made the piano climbing expedition to get to the bowl, and my quick witted, nervous grin cover story to appease her irritation was "gapes... I *yike* gapes"

Even now, my mom and I yike gapes.
Mom, feel free to correct any of the details...
Fight Fred Phelps with Fire or something... great counter-posters.

iPad Stickering Phase 1 Complete - it kinda reflects my personality and hopefully making it look a bit ghetto will make it less steal-worthy...


July 26, 2009

--I know in certain cultures it's a terrible insult to shoe show the bottoms of one's feet, so sorry about that. But I helped Amber paint yesterday, and despite appearances, got most of the paint on the walls, not on the floor.

The paint roller is a brilliant device! There's a whiff of controversy over its inventor on the wikipedia page but still, it's great.

"'Clitoris' would be a bad name for a sub shop. Or any business for that matter. It's even a bad name for what it is a name for."
Tomcat and Eclipse configuration issues (thought solved, somehow recurring, much like a venereal disease) are shaking my confidence in my chosen career.

a gig's a gighistory

(1 comment)
July 26, 2008

Not much time to write today... when you have too sets of friends moving on the same weekend, things get a bit hectic.

Also, I had to blow off Christa's party which made me sad.

Anecdote of the Moment
i remember an exchange I had with Elvin Jones, Coltrane's drummer. I had seen him so many times he thought he knew me. One night he sat down at my table and asked me what I was doing. You a student? I said no, I was teaching. Then he asked my friend, who was embarrassed to admit that he was a bank messenger. Elvin shrugged his shoulders, and said, "It's a gig."

A gig's a gig..

--Michael Ullman, Tufts Professor and Music Critic... after relating his pitch-perfect I wish you could fly, too anecdote I wrote him, and may have struck a slightly apologetic tone about how I had had the English major but it was the Computer Science major that was paying the bills...anyway, he always told the best stories and had this huge repertoire of anecdotes about from his experiences with musicians, major and minor.

Least likely song interpretation ever: Veronika's English teacher in Germany swore "Under the Boardwalk" was about bugs under the floor.
Damn, over a decade into the Internet revolution and uhaul is still bozos at a counter with paperwork and a half hour wait.
Friend help friends move. Dumb friends agree to help two sets of friends move over one weekend.

unclean sweep

(1 comment)
July 26, 2007

History of the Moment
The glimpses of the infernal world that we get in Salem are highly incredible. The witches say prayers by a tall black man with a high-crowned hat--always with a high-crowned hat. They ride on sticks and poles, sometimes they are on brooms, and sometimes three are on one pole. One relates that a pole carrying two broke, but by holding fast to the one in front of her, the witch got safe to her destination. The witches fondle yellow birds, sucking them between their fingers, and one day a girl cries in meeting that a yellow bird sits on the minister's hat as it hangs on a pin on the pulpit. The witch usually sits on the great crossbeam of the meetinghouse, fondling the yellow bird. One man was seen to nurse two black pigs at his breasts. Sometimes a hog, sometimes a black dog, appears and says, "Serve me." Then the dog or pig "looks like a man," and this man has a yellow bird. Cats naturally abound, white cats and red cats and cats without color.
--Edward Eggleston's "The Transit of Civilzation, excerpted in David Freeman Hawke's "Everyday Life in Early America". I actually found the details in the excerpt to be really creepy, especially the color aspects.

The sticks and poles, sometimes brooms idea makes me think about how these Harry Potter-rich days it's always brooms. But are they always with the brush part backwards?

The Sexy Witch blog claims it's usually brush in back, but offers some counter-examples, including this striking postcard from 1907:

This page monstrous com witch page on brooms claims
At first, the brush end of a broom (or faggot), was pointed downwards so the witch could "sweep her tracks from the sky." Nevertheless, by the end of the 17th century, the reverse was true. Witches often rode with the faggot-end up, with a candle in the faggot to light the way to the Sabbath gathering place.
(Also pitchforks were 'popular', especially for guys.)

I wonder if the design of modern aircraft has helped cement the "brush in back" imagery, since it looks like a stabilizing tailfin (or possibly a source of jet propulsion, which provides a somewhat stronger link than a rotating propeller in front.)

the magazine seen

July 26, 2006

I need to rethink how I deal with magazines.

For starters I feel guilty for not reading them cover to cover, which is a bit silly. On the other hand if I just skim them as bathroom reading, I might miss something cool. Last night I skimmed Wired cover to cover... it's still a great magazine, and I found out about 2 or 3 things I had to go research online.

I had to give up the New Yorker; its once a week schedule lets it pile it up too fast. And I need to get back on reading Make and The Atlantic. Those, Wired, and the odd videogame magazine are about it I guess. Oh, and "The Funny Times".

Most of all I need to be diligent about discarding the old ones.

Random typo of the moment: I spellchecked and found "magazing"... almost, but not quite, good enough for today's title.

Wired-Ripped Links of the Moment
I already kisrael'd "You're The Man Now Dog" when the hilarious Batman thing came out. Wired had this article on it which mentioned the following picks of site founder Max Goldberg: (the magazine didn't have URLs, so this is the result of some light googling...) there's Vader Coaster, Lohan Facial--it's not as gross as it sounds, just some fun with the way celebrities strike the same damn expression, and it begot the even better Paris Hilton Facial. (It's the celebrity version of this poor scared looking gal.) Then there's the simple grace of LOL Internet and the Rube Golberg wonder of Blue Ball Machine, which reminds me of the Stick Figure Tiling Animations I kisrael'd a while back. (Click on the "giant ongoing universe" link... I think the Stick Figures were cooler, but the balls have better music...)

profit, see

July 26, 2005

Quote ofthe Moment
"As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
--H. L. Mencken, in the Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1920. This misunderestimates the current man in office a bit but still...

a key está aquí

July 26, 2004

News of the Moment
Bill says, "Every time you lose your keys, they turn up in the last place you'd look."

Geek Article of the Moment
Slashdot posted an article on some Open Source Myths. I think the article rang very true about OSS in practice, as opposed to in theory. Especially the "All software should be free" bit, thats been bugging me...I mean for the most part the little things I churn together aren't worth cash, and ego-boost is all I can hope for (though most folks can't be arsed to drop an e-mail, I've learned from experience.) And there is something weirdly limiting to the idea that any you can do for a fee, someone else can do at least 75% as well for free.

Retort of the Moment
A friend of mine suggested (in a very polite way) that as part of my makeover I should pay more attention to my finger- and toenails, at least being much more consciences of keeping them trimmed. They weren't truly horrendous, but I was a little lazy about 'em. So I will now be more proactive about them, getting on a regular schedule rather than just waiting 'til I notice "huh, they're a little long". But anyway, to save a little face I decided to respond with some mock-outrage:





(like, how often for the fingernails?)

pulling the plugramble

July 26, 2003

So, I've taken a boldish step at work: all of our web access is through a proxy server, and I've taken the step of disconnecting from that server during the work day, disabling my ability to get to the web. I put it back during my lunch hour and at the end of the day, and if I have a legitimate need to look something up online for my project, but besides that, nuthin'.

It's a radical step, and I've only been doing it for a few days, but I've found myself having trouble focusing on the tasks that I'm paid (and pretty well!) to do. When I'm on a "cool" project, I have little trouble applying typical geek focus and working like a maniac, but when the project is more grueling, when I'm not learning anything new tech-wise, when parts are difficult, but in a "there's no way to do this quite right" rather than a "challenging, let me think about this and find a great solution" kind of way, I can get a little... intimidated, frankly... and I start craving distraction. It's kind of a form of occasional writer's block, and being able to browse the web is just dangerous at those times.

I've learned a couple of things that make this switch-off more palatable. One is, most things on the web will be there in a couple of hours when I get home. Two is, I don't get that much important e-mail during the day (and thanks to my antispam whitelist, I can postpone deleting the spam without the good stuff getting buried.) Three is I should stop being less dependent on CNN.com anyway; ever since 9-11 I was craving any information about possible terrorist activity (and a few years before then, it was information about what Y2K was going to look like...I'm a bit neurotic) but knowing about any event 15 minutes before word gets around the office isn't going to help me that much. Finally, I want to be trustworthy. Someone in a professional position should be able to be counted on to stay on target. It's cheesy, but I printed "TRUST" in a big font on a sheet of paper and put it on the old cube wall: corny, but it helps.

So, especially if anyone from my company is reading this, I don't want to give the impression that prior to this I've just been a giant click monkey day in and day out, but there was room for improvement of focus.

Office Observation of the Moment
On a related note, I've made Kirk's Early Exit Observation: if anyone leaves the office before five PM, no matter how blatantly obvious it is that they're going home (bags carried, coats worn, car keys jangled, etc,) they won't say good night to anyone. They feel guilty! Or maybe they think no one will notice. I do the same thing.

Games of the Moment
I already posted this over a year ago, but Orisinal has added even more great games with a beautiful sense of whimsy and motion. (This preview trailer is cool too.)

TV Quote of the Moment
"Hey, uh, is it horny in here or is it just me?"
--Dave in The Naked Truth


July 26, 2002
Yeesh, for some reason I'm really cranky today.

Link of the Moment
Maybe it's all the travelling, not sleeping as well? Or maybe I'm jealous of these guys, who are trying to retrain their bodies so they just beed 6 halfhour naps a day. I do wish I could do something like that, gain all that extra time...

Quote of the Moment
He didn't have to worry about jagged bottle-necks after all, or the microbes which might have been in the cheeseburgers from the Burger Ranch, for that matter. One of life's great truths is this: when one is about to be struck by a speeding six-hundred-pound Coke machine, one need worry about nothing else.
--Stephen King, "he Tommyknockers", via Zach's Quote Page

ranjit's revenge

July 26, 2001

Quote of the Moment
hey, I just typed the best apostrophe ever! I accidentally typed ' in my unix telnet window, and it came back Unmatched ' .
--Ranjit. This one might need a little explaining...when you type an apostrophe (single quote)into a unix command, the system expects a close quote... hence that particular comeback. But the news that the ' was unmatched, well, that's high praise, coming from a unix system, not known for their enthusiasm.

Art of the Moment
Ranjit also introduced me to LeCielEstBleu (the sky is blue), the single greatest shockwave site I've seen. The pieces there are true interactive art, IMO. I especially liked "flying giraffes"... click on zoo at the bottom left, than the giraffes. It has a terrific dream-logic quality to it. (The piece to the left is "little bête")

By the way, you should check out Ranjit's site moonmilk if you haven't recently; he's updated the okraleidoscope with sound, and now it's really mesmerizing. Almost makes me wish I grew up down south so I'd know what okra really was...

KHftCEA 1999-07.5 July

I have more dreams I remember with Rebekah than with Mo.  This bothered me until I realised Rebekah is more of an archetype, and Mo is more of a person.
Unch: a unit of measure for grapefruit juice
--from a typo of Mo's

KHftCEA 1997-07.3 July

Embarking I saw a woman standing aft, her back to me, looking very much like a doric coloumn would if it were leaning against a rail
          --Steve Martin, "How I joined Mensa"

resolving to be more mature
twinkle twinkle
rattle squeak
how i wonder
what you seek