photos of the month march 2024


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A bracing response to right wing critics
from the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
I know I'm a pain in the butt to buy gifts for, since I'm usually a combination of some spare income and poor impulse control. But this year I held off and was able to reply to Leah Ovoian Leach's "I need ideas for birthday gifts for a 50 year old guy!! Any suggestions" and got what you see here on the left: an old school rotary phone off ebay.

It's not wired to anything (it would be fun to raspberry pi up something to play sounds or respond to the dial - I actually thought a game like "Flappy Bird but with a Rotary controller" would be kinda hip) so for now it's just a big fidget spinner that pairs well with my dad's old typewriter.

I think the typewriter (my dad's, but an antique when got it) is an older generation than the phone, but they pair pretty well together, all that black bakelite and metal industrial design.)
I think my friend Tkoa Hill posted a video about some Gen Z'ers or Gen Alpha's trying to figure out how to use the dial (their biggest mistake was keeping the phone on the hook and planning to lift to talk after dialing.)

So now I can make hanging up and being "off the hook!" all too literal.

April 1, 2023

WaPo What does an AR-15 do to a human body? is a complement to the older What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns

I wish this was April Fools...

April 1, 2022

Heh, came up in conversation that once upon a time I got to play in a flash mob kind of deal with John Batiste, and then in another group someone posted this video I was unaware of:

April 1, 2021

Steven Bradbury – you know, the Australian speed skater who won gold because all of the other skaters fell down – has gotta be one of my favourite athletes for the context that most posts about him don't mention.

Y'see, throughout his career, Bradbury's opponents falling down had basically been his curse. He'd been skating competitively for over a decade, and in that span, he'd been knocked out of contention in major events by opponents either stumbling into him or falling in his path on at least six separate occasions. In some cases, he suffered considerably more damage than simply losing out on a medal; in one incident, a stumbling opponent's skate-blade sliced open an artery in Bradbury's thigh, causing him to lose four litres of blood and spend the next eighteen months in physical therapy; in another, Bradbury tripped over an opponent who'd fallen down in front of him and broke his own neck. Following the latter incident, Bradbury's doctors told him he'd never skate again.

In spite of those warnings, Bradbury would later qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympics, though most commentators – and, by his own admission, Bradbury himself – believed that his age and the lingering effects of his past injuries made it unlikely that he'd win.

On the day of the 1000 meter short track event, it looked like those predictions would bear out. Going into the semi-finals, having made it that far only due to the disqualification of stronger competitors, Bradbury was already exhausted (it was his third event of the day), and he trailed far behind the pack. However, three of his four opponents stumbled on the final lap, allowing him to advance. In the final, Bradbury's opponents fared even worse, becoming entangled in a massive wipeout just fifty meters short of the goal, and Bradbury was able to weave through the resulting pileup and coast to the finish line, capturing Australia's first Winter Olympics gold.

Following the 2002 Olympics, Bradbury immediately retired.

April 1, 2020

I was talking about our kitty Dean's "vulturing" on a chair to Melissa, not realizing it was a bit of family-injoke, referring to Snoopy's classic play-act:

photos of the month - march 2019


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Aww, work buddy Mifi left me a little Etcha-A-Sketch Animator birthday card...

four in the morning now that i'm forty four

TIL: Wislawa Szymborska, the author of of one my favorite poems Four in the Morning, is a woman. I think I had heard it read by a gruff man's voice once and assumed it was the author, and knew Eastern Europe is sometimes more free with its vowels... funny how it somewhat changes the texture of the work for me.

Anyway, this TED Talk by Rives sets up the Museum of 4 In the Morning:

I've noticed you can divide a year into 4 parts, with varying degrees and types of utility:

Similarly you can have multiple options to think of where one day starts and the next begins: I've always been for more human forms of keep timing, in the umpty-umpth age of clockwork, and well into the era of digital readout. Numbers helped the trains line up their schedules and people to arrange meetings, but besides that they're not really how humans should do time.

Some day I'll make Timish, my digital clockface that uses approximate words, a physical item and not just a javascript mockup.)

Comedy Catch Phrases that Caught.
Two things that [American Nazis] love: silence and violence.
When we're silent, sweep it under the rug, they grow.
When we're violent, they use that as a narrative.

April 1, 2017


march 2016 new music playlist

A middling-fair month for finding music - no 4 stars. Sorted in inverse "you gotta hear (or see) this!"
Seriously amazing Empire-centric, 80s-anime-style short Star Wars battle drawn and animated weekends over 4 years by one fan...

April 1, 2015

One Second Everyday:

Image for the final shot, a reflection at the end of Thorndike Street :

If Christian businesses really stuck to their principles, they'd serve everyone regardless of their sins...
I might put sins in scare quotes, but in either direction it's a huge point. So many Conservatives worship Conservatism, and assume they have the spirit of the Bible on their side, when they just don't. Like Vonnegut said: "There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too." - Gruber on the simplicity of Pac-Man, the Early Mac, and iOS. A little long (I wish Vimeo had the same "1.5x speed" option Youtube sports) so: Pac-Man = iOS, Android = Mr. Do, and simplicity is awesome.

April 1, 2014

household hint (because you know I'm just a font of those): using 4 oversized rubber bands, one on each corner of the duvet and its cover, has revolutionized my sleeping life. it even stops the blanket on top that used to get thrown off during the night from winding up on the floor. Bed Bath & Below has some little holder clamp things for inside the corners, not sure of it would be an improvement; the elasticized corners are fairly inobtrusive already.
The solution to impostor syndrome is to accept that you are in fact a fraud and just get on with it.

April 1, 2013

(1 comment)
March one second at a time:

tuba and cake


mad video game world


via boingboinb -- classic video game deaths.

In classic video games, as in real life, death is generally inevitable, which is part of why this manages a certain poignancy...
The function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before.

Honestly a mediocre honest to goodness attempt at a prank geek news piece would be better than another post about how bad April 1 stuff is.
What if the worst is true? What if there's no God, and you only go around once and that's it? Well, you know, don't you want to be part of the experience?
"Hannah and Her Sisters"
via this Slate piece by a guy who watched all 40 of Woody Allen's films
I love the term "oontz" for that genre music. Super-impressive onomatopoeia.
Now I'm 37. Unfortunately my only numerological reference for this age is a raunchy-ish bit from "Clerks".
Diane points out that 37 is a nice prime number. (The only one between 31 and 41...)

thanks, and no fooling!


--Thanks for all the Birthday Wishes -- (Facebook especially seems to be an easy source for people to pass on a casual bit of good b-day karma)

Amber and I went to the Top of the Hub restaurant. Between that and the helicopter lesson she got for me, there's really a theme of catering to my love of high-up views. I realize that taking in the view from the restaurant was a bit of a unique experience in my life... I don't remember ever seeing such a high view of an area that I know so well -- realizing now I've been in Boston about half my life, and then working in the whole greater Copley area for a few years, and planning to do so again.
Obama's not a brown-skinned anti-war socialist who gives away free healthcare. You're thinking of Jesus.
John Fugelsang


So, here it is:

I brought in a print out of the other day's entry, mostly to show Alex the Japanese woodcut (turns out he does prints and woodcuts as well) but he picked up on the idea of using the "oldest extant" Alien Bill, the same one I've been using as an avatar on websites -- he blew up the image a bit and used it to trace, essentially. I think it was a good choice, a bit looser and more dynamic than I usually draw him these days. I think Kate was right in suggesting holding off on the speedlines, the looser draw manages to be balanced without them.

Periodically throughout the day it strikes me as an odd thing to have had done, but overall I dig it. Actually it's kind of funny to think of how relatively rarely it will be seen.

Anyway, I'd endorse Fat Ram's Pumpkin, it was a great experience (even if my tattoo was one of the least challenging possible, and not representative of what all Alex and the rest of them can do.)

I guess everyone gets tattoos for their own reasons, but it's interesting that there are a lot of other tattoos I look at online that I don't "get".

Ultimately though, it's weird. The "decision" to be fit or flabby aside, a body just kind of is. There's something transformative in proactively altering it. You get something a bit similar with a haircut or glasses, but that's temporary, and altering the presentation of the face, rather than the body.

poisson d'avril

Last night I followed what I think of as a European tradition (though not sure which country I heard of it coming from) of buying dinner for some friends and family. (Summer Shack, primarily a fish place, which helps provide some small piece of justification for today's title.)

A few people have said "dude, isn't that backwards?" but it's a nice thing to be able to do. I figure if I could cook I'd be trying to make dinner for everyone, but as it is right now I'm more deft at making money than I am at making food, so this is the bet I can do.

Kate is making a nifty comic blog with stuff she makes in the program "lineform", she made this about her scooter and my get-together:

click for fullsize

Funny, that's a relatively ancient picture of me she copied from, probably at least 10 years old. Guess I haven't changed all that much, except maybe the glasses.

Quote of the Moment
My wife was watching a re-run of Ellen,
and she had a cooler-scooter.
She kept her pudding in the cooler.
On a politically minded blog run by a friend, baldwintm wrote that, I broke it into bit of verse (very) libre, I just like the rhythm and the slant rhyme.

Link of the Moment
I've seen rather little in terms of April First foolery this year, Slashdot seems to be holding back (which is almost a joke itself, making everyone wait for the other shoe to drop after way over-doing it in previous years), Google has a few clever bits, but I liked World of Warcraft: The Molten Core, a very retro kind of variant of the beloved MMORPG...

tee hee!

So this is April 1! Day of a thousand thousand stupid online gags. None of them very funny. And this is one of the unfunny ones! But maybe you figured it out. Did you select the text? Hit ctrl-a? Or something else?

People who make websites love the idea of fooling people with fake stories and what not on this day but of course most people, you know, have a calendar, so it's actually quite difficult to do it in a convincing way. So instead you just get a dumb mishmash of fake stuff and real stuff, and the biggest danger isn't people believing one of the dumb stories, but failing to believe a legitimate story that sneaks through.

The other "classic" thing to do is to announce that your website or project is going away. I toyed with that idea, trying to sound really convincing, that I've just been doing this website for too long, that it saps my energy for other projects, that it was my birthday the other day that made me realize this. All of which are kind of valid issues, but this site has become what passes for a spiritual practice in my life, and it would take some significant trauma for me to give it up.

Pretending your closing up shop on April First is really kind of a cry for attention, people who do that are probably really hoping to provoke a worried outcry from their loyal fans. And while I have a certain small readership here, mostly folks who know me in real life, I don't think it's the kind of site that would provoke too many withdrawal symptoms were to go away.

Ah well, that's it. Not such an interesting update, but between the lame gag and needing to tackle other stuff this weekend, I don't want to overdo it with the links and what not.

i pity the april fool

(1 comment)
Link of the Moment
I've been finding some new (to me) videogame links I liked lately... Here's a detailed tribute page to an obscure favorite of mine, Time Pilot '84. The game had a great sci-fi style, along with a "Raid on Bungeling Bay"-esque feeling as if life in the evil empire was going on off-screen, throwing tons of enemy fighters, and bosses at the player, who had a nifty homing missle feature to defend himself...the best defense being a good offense, and all that.

The site includes a neat little applet letting you scroll over the map detail, and the locations for all the goodies. It's so funny seeing such obsessive geek detail...I was thinking about reviewing this game for, to go along with my review of Crossroads and Crossroads II but never got beyond making animated GIFs for it...which I dug up here, and added a few more for a fuller set. Amazing what they could do with a 16*16 grid, and 16 colors...

It's funny, I only saw the game at this little funky ice cream parlor in Cleveland Heights (you could bring in anything and they'd turn it into icecream so long as you promised to buy a certain amount of it) and when I see that page, I get a bit of sensory impression of that old place, even though I was only there a few times.

april fools bring may pools

(1 comment)
Fools of the Moment
NY Times on the greatest baseball hoax of all time, Sidd Finch and his 168 mph fastball.

Quote of the Moment
You are not a fool just because you have done something foolish -- only if the folly of it escapes you.
Unfortunately, the folly of a long boring day of pseudo-clever fake news seems to escape the editors there.

april one

Man, April Fools just isn't the same post breakup. I mean, the old seran-wrap-on-the-toilet-seat just totally loses its charm when you're living by yourself.

News Read of the Moment
So CNN had this link Britain's Prince William 'upset' over picture with girl...I saw the picture they had on the page the link went to, and my first thought was 'Man, that is one ugly chick.'

Brag of the Moment
One January morning, it was so all screwen cold that the forest trees were stiff and they couldn't shake, and the very daybreak froze fast as it was trying to dawn. ... Well, arter I had walked about twenty miles up the Peak o' Day and Daybreak Hill I soon discovered what war the matter. The airth had actually friz fast on her axes, and couldn't turn round; the sun had got jammed between two cakes o' ice under the wheels, an' thar he had been shinin' an' workin' to get loose till he friz fast in his cold sweat. ... I took a fresh twenty-pound bear off my back that I'd picked up on my road, and beat the animal agin the ice till the hot ile began to walk out on him at all sides. I then took an' held him over the airth's axes an' squeezed him till I'd thawed 'em loose, poured about a ton on't over the sun's gace, give the airth's cog-wheel one kick backward till I got the sun loose-whistled 'Push along, keep movin'!' an' in about fifteen seconds the airth gave a grunt, an' began movin'. The sun waked up beautiful, salutin' me with sich a wind o' gratitude that it made me sneeze. I lit my pipe by the blaze o' his top-knot, shouldered my bear, an' walked home, introducin' people to the fresh daylight with a piece of sunrise in my pocket.

Game of the Moment
Just in time for April First, it's Quake: the text adventure.

Thought of the Moment
So my Aunt got one of those fairly high-end Sharper Image massage chairs--it's pretty cool, a lot more aggressive than the "cushion full o' vibrators" approach lesser devices take. My upper back has been hurting me lately, so I was letting the chair work on it last night as my Aunt and I played Tetris Attack (heh, didn't know it had its own fansite) I played the game with a lot more skill once the chair had finished its run. This surprised me, but to my Aunt, it was the most obvious thing in the world: of course it would be a distraction in a game that requires a good deal of situational awareness.

My surprise points to this ongoing issue in my life, how...I don't know if out-of-touch is quite the right term, but close enough...I am with my body. There's a feedback loop that I think is weaker in me than in other people. Some of it comes from resiliency; when I was a kid I almost went deaf, because I waited so long to complain about a serious earache. (Oddly, it might be a recognition of this desensitivity that has turned me into a bit of a hypochondriac.) Similarly, I just realized yesterday that the last 10 week session of yoga might've seemed more difficult than the previous 10 week session because of the extra 10 or so pounds I've had since the holidays. This probably would've been obvious to most people, but I had just guessed I was working at getting deeper into the poses, hence the increased difficulty.

Hmm. In the same vein, I can never detect the change caffeine makes in me, except I notice the headaches if I go a long time without.

Weird. I feel (to a much, much lesser degree, obviously) like one of thse kids who are in trouble because they have no sense of pain. I suspect it's not just a matter of training myself to "pay more attention", I have to use logic where other people can use intuition.

april pools

So, I'm braced for a barage of bad April 1 hoaxes today...couldn't be bothered to come up with one for any of my sites though.


I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where
our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize Society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

by George W. Bush + Richard Thompson
Real GWB quotes compiled and arranged by Washington Post writer Richard Thompson. It seems like a frivolous thing to bring up during wartime, but I'm sick of looking at it at the top of my backlog, and April Fool's seems as good a day as any, better than most, for it.

"It's a world of madmen and uncertainty", indeed.

Web Statistics of the Moment
Bill pointed to a cool feature at Alexa--you can get the ranking for your website. is a lowly 3,434,359, is a lot better at 565,431, and just rocks at 108,194. Now I know how authors tracking their Amazon ranking must feel...(which isn't too surprising, it is an Amazon company.) What worries me slightly is that the page for kisrael grabbed a random e-mail from my guestbook from 2000 as the owner info...maybe I should look into that.

Bad News of the Moment
All right! Don't have enough to worry about? Maybe it's not just Gulf War 2--maybe we have Recession: the sequel to go along with it. Maybe. Or maybe the last one never quite ended. Though "W-shaped recession" has such a nice ring to it.

It's still the economy, stupid. You didn't want to give the inspections teeth, you stood against a world united against war, and right now I don't believe it's making us safer in the short or long term. And now we all have to pay the price.

And the worst part is, I wouldn't be shocked if Bush gets re-elected. Come on, Dems. Put up someone we can get excited about. And Nader, stay the hell out of it. You can't tell me there's no difference among the "reublicrats".

Useless Link of the Moment
Dying to know the latest weird snack foods in and around London? Your fervent hopes have been answered, in spades. Interesting little writeups.

birthday one day late

Aargh, I was saving this for my birthday, and then forgot about it! So rather than subject my audience to some lame April Fool's joke (or waiting another whole year) I'll post this today. (Which reminds me of how my dad used to torment me by saying had I been born one day later, they would have named be "Foolsbert". Or "Foolella", had I turned out to have been a girl.)

Late this winter my Aunt Ruth was cleaning out the house she and my grandmother had shared, and in the cabinet she found a collection of clippings about me that Grandma had saved...some old newspaper articles for the most part. The most interesting thing to me was the birth announcement my parents had sent them. It was in remarkably pristine condition 28 years later. It was really cool to see, and nice to have. My mom had this to say on it:
You may have already known, but just in case not, your dad made those birth announcements. He carved the rattle design in a block, and using a breyer, printed them all. He chose green and yellow, because this was in the days before the common use of pre-natal sonograms and we didn't know whether you'd be a boy or a girl ahead of time. He wanted them done before you were actually born. I can still see them spread out all over our office floor in our apartment at Ivy House in Philadelphia as the paint dried.
[Ivy House was a home for disadvantaged youth my parent's were in charge of for a while.]
You'll note we said you were "23 inches tall" - that's because Dad thought any newborn so close to two feet at birth deserved 'tall' rather than the traditional description of 'long'.
Actually, I hadn't realized that it wasn't professionally made. Oddly, the gene to make such neat handcrafted pieces has skipped me entirely, and made it to my wife, who made our wedding invitations, among other things.

april showahs

Hrmph. Bracing myself for all the lame April's Fools fake news stories on all the web media I read. In general, none of them are all that funny, and it's frustrating because when there is a 'serious' post, you're not sure if you can believe it or not.

Post of the Moment
>If it looks like a duck..... and quacks like a duck....
>Its probably a duck....
Some people and some ducks believe this. Which is why duck decoys are so effective.
Binyamin Dissen in

Love me tender,
Love me sweet,
Never let me go...
(Yes, I'm typing just to type on this keyboard.  I'm odd like that.)