April 4, 2024

Some UX humor - ideas from Soren Iverson...my 3 favs:

Open Photo Gallery

April 4, 2023

There's much to disagree with, but this is an interesting take on if "should you worship something just because it's powerful", and also an Islamic take on the kind of more-transcendent and abstract less personified sense of God...

April 4, 2022

Welp 15 lbs I lost the first 2 1/2 months of quarantine, welcome back :-D

April 4, 2020

No reason to die all tensed up.
Robert "Hoot" Gibson, Space Shuttle Atlantis commander, encouraging a casual stoicism (even as an unknown number of heat tiles had been knocked off)
via astronaut Mike Mullane's book "Riding Rockets"... I think this is a great attitude to have these days. Maybe I'm too blasé, and if I felt more immediately threatened, I'd behave all too emotionally myself. Or maybe it's that weird religiosity I grew up with that enhanced my ability to weed out feelings while they were still young sprouts. But overall, whatever is going to happen is going to happen whether you go forth singing and laughing when you can or making yourself sick with worry about things that may or may not happen, or swamped by empathy for things you can't control, and that weren't your fault.

Anger and fear are only useful insofar as they help us make smarter tactical decisions and wiser strategic ones. To the extent we can make the same decisions without them (admittedly, an uncertain proposition) the more we can live our lives fully, despite our circumstances.

Another quote comes to mind:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Viktor Frankl
Also his thought "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."

UDPATE: former dorm-mate Mike Maines said this reminds me of one his favorite quotes which I found as:
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
Hunter S. Thompson
(Mike cited it as "Trust in" but the core message is there)
On my devblog The Dumbness of Smartquotes - realized the smartquotes were breaking my phrase search on my blog, and then some further thoughts on autocorrect in general
Bad News Wrapped in Protein: Inside the Coronavirus Genome - deep dive into this f***er. The article reminds me of computer program analysis/disassembly I've seen. Bums me out that despite all our great technology, we can't simulate a cell well enough to get the answer to some of those questions...

April 4, 2019

The art in life lies in taking pleasures as they pass, and the keenest pleasures are not intellectual, nor are they always moral.

the algorithm from the inside

Our daughter's choices--like everything else--had been written in stone at the birth of the universe, but that information could only be decoded by becoming her along the way.
Greg Egan, "Singleton"
Consciousness is what running the algorithm feels like from the inside.
Scott Albertine

Scott is a former coworker - the quote is a paraphrase, and I may be drawing something slightly different than he was thinking of, but still, something like that phrasing has stuck with me all this time... we have what seems to be subjective experience and make meaningful choices, and yet are apparently marionettes in a universe governed by clockwork (if quantum-ly unpredictable) particles and energies that pull every string we possibly could have...

Of course, when we do talk about "free will", there are very different feeling levels of predeterminism - on one hand, physics-y stuff where it feels we assume that in principle a particle-level simulation of us and our local environments could recreate us and our actions entirely, and on the other hand, stuff at social and psychological levels, where we look at people's childhoods and experiences and what not, and try to pin down "could it have been otherwise?" - especially when stuff is going wrong.

April 4, 2017

My company's first TV spots! CarGurus definitely has a challenge, it's name isn't the easiest to say when you hear it spoken, I think breaking it up like this makes sense:
(and this ending is definitely the funniest of them)
Favorite Songs with Studio Chatter audible? I came up with the following:
Blood, Sweat & Tears - Spinning Wheel - "That wasn't too good..." [Laughter]
Elvis - King Creole - "Cut" "Lets clear our throats and try again" "Uh, Mr.Wallace- the ending was messed up anyway so I didn't bother to say it"
Modest Mouse - Bukowski - "I fucked up the last line"
Colbie Caillat - Bubbly - "Will you count me in?"

Googling I was reminded of
The Beatles - Helter Skelter - "I got blisters on mah fingers!"

TV Tropes covers it pretty well

Folllowup: Propellerheads - You Want It Back - "Gimme a little bit more music in my headphones" - good example of this phenomenon/joke as made fun of my Dave Chapelle...
I admit I've been thinking about this a lot since Chasity posted it. I'd like to think about how it can apply to situations among grown-ups as well; but it's a challenge for me for that to not feel like condescension, in many cases. I mean, not that situations provoked by overwhelming emotions like anxiety and fear are helped by people being overwhelmed by them, but I understand that not everyone shares my privilege existential stoic rationalizing.

April 4, 2016

Man, this Coke Zero tastes so much better in Texas - maybe it's like the Mexico Coca-Cola with real cane sugar, just a better level of Phenylketonurics...

April 4, 2015

Helle is very understanding, but she doesn't understand a whole lot.
Rita, the title character of a Danish series about a teacher/single mother (on Netflix)

April 4, 2014

Dreamt of being chased by a were-rhino. Later I asked her in her human form why; I guess I had been carrying beer.
Amazing accent tour of the British Isles-- amazing skills-- I've heard similar performances, but mapping it to the geography was great.

http://the-toast.net/2014/04/02/alien-erotica/ Human Erotica by a squicked out alien
Fasting evening. Trying to convince self that "self righteousness" is nearly as delicious as leftover pizza from last night would be.
I really hope some one looks at the stats at the gap between "Skip This Ad" availability and click for particular preroll youtube ads.

April 4, 2013

All the things we value, however rare, however small, that give point or meaning to our lives -- the friendships, loves and absurdities; those soundscaped memories entwined with shared passions and glances that magically ensnare and enfold; the intoxications of wines and words, and wayward musings and music, with which we wrestle into misty slumbering nights, our senses revived by sparkling waters, much needed at dawn; the seascapes of wild waves, mysterious moonlights and images and widening skies that stretch the eyes -- do indeed all cease to exist; and curiously the most enchanting are oft those which we lose ourselves and also cease to be -- yet they, and we, existed at some time remains timelessly true, outside of all time.
Peter Cave, from "Can a Robot be Human?", emphasis mine.



--by fluxmachine. I love animated GIFs
Not that I'm so religious myself but it's kind of weird Pax East is all during Easter and Passover. It's often a family gathering time, eh?

mad world of warcraft

Playing World of Warcraft is such a satisfying job, gamers have collectively spent 5.93 million years doing it [...] To put that number in perspective: 5.93 million years ago is almost exactly the moment in history that our earliest ancestors first stood upright. By that measure, we've spent as much time playing World of Warcraft as we've spend evolving as a species"
Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal
Her mathematical reasoning is suspect (because evolution only works as a massively parallel process, kind of in the same way that 6 or 7 years of real world existence can be enough for lots and lots of players to put in millions of years of playtime.) Still it's an eye-opening number!
Reading "Reality is Broken", I realize the way I've been tracking books and movies I consume for the past 10 years is basically gamification
Television is the first truly democratic culture - the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want.
Clive Barnes. Then came the Intenet.

The 7 Most Needlessly Terrifying Pieces of Heavy Machinery - Cracked puts me in touch with my inner-7 year old.
In the future, everyone will be as paranoid as Philip K. Dick for 15 minutes.

Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.

Think about death for five minutes every day. (Researchers suggest that we can induce a mellow, grateful psychological state known as "posttraumatic bliss" that helps us appreciate the present moment and savor our lives more.)
Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal. This sounds like the same thing as "Negative Visualization" in William Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"

trek weekend 2 (*toot* *toot*)


Businesses in upstate NY I wasn't quite expecting to see: "Quaker Steak and Lube"
I wonder if Canada Dry is called American Dry up in Canada. I should've checked.
Ah Cleveland- land of my adolescence! Which is a distinct period from my eternal manchildhood. But not by much.

lightbulbs in the electrical system of the universe


"God is not a judgmental giant sitting up in heaven. It's a force within us all - we are lightbulbs in the electrical system of the universe."
Gayatari via Sarah Macdonald's "Holy Cow", a kind of amazing memoir by an Australian woman encountering almost a dozen faiths in and around India and learning something from them all (the work ends shortly after 9/11)

"Some will be drawn to Buddhism but I really think it's best that you try and find truth in the religion of your forebears and ancestors. It is very hard to change religion. I think it's safer not to."
Dalai Lama

These Romeos are ruinous. No! We're playful paramours.
Bollywood lyrics, translated by Aarzoo in "Holy Cow"

"The scanning finger of the TV screen is at once the transcending of mechanism and a throwback to the world of the scribe."
Marshall McLuhan, via "Racing the Beam" a deep, technicalish book on the Atari 2600

I always thought Amazon wishlists should default sort by priority. And Mobile Amazon wishlists don't even let you sort on it! **UI FAIL**
The other weekend EB presented the idea that a child's capability for glee and total delight springs in part from a brain small enough to be more readily flooded with serotonin...
HA! -good task angst jujitsu! I parlayed wanting to postpone some work related stuff into great backlog tackling (hence the "...of the moment" flood. Also: retrospect, "last X weeks", month/day archive, and search are all now "of the moment" aware, and with the right comment counts.)
http://www.slate.com/id/2215160/ - Slate on the unearthly hold Star Wars has on young males.
Installing XP on a MacBook Pro. Despite the... you know, existence of Boot Camp, I feel like I'm offending some kind of Apple Deity.


(1 comment)
So last night I bought a new laptop, cheapest new one I could find with a DVD, wifi, and fullsize keyboard.

It came with Vista... I'm already suspicious about this OS, and the screen after first logging in didn't really reassure me:

So many little fiddly bits and doodahs and messages and oversized icons and shiny crap over a tacky background (ok that last one was maybe a little my fault)... it's like a digital clown exploded.

At least the physical laptop (Acer "Aspire" - geez, what an irritating model name, with the implication that if you were really good you'd be getting a better model) refrains from sporting those damn super bright blue LEDs that will light up a room.

Really dumb note...

has the E line always been called "Arborway", I mean over the last decade, since they started making Heath Street the final stop? (That link from this interesting but possibly out of date page of articles on the historical MBTA)

Anyway, finally, a prettily colored if compositionally flawed shot from Back Bay, I M Pei's Hancock tower peeking out over an older building:

Video of the Moment
Walmart spreading like a virus, 1962-2007.

Quote of the Moment
Money is not important.
  Love is important.
  Fortunately, I love money.
Jackie Mason

thy fearful symmetry

So last December or thereabouts I was dropping my mom off at her office, the Salvation Army's Massachusetts Headquarters. (Just a block or so from where I now work, thus confirming this amazing ability I have to live or work in locations that would have been really convenient a few years before or after.)

I picked up the November 25th copy of The Salvation Army's magazine "The War Cry". I was a bit startled to see my cousin Scott quoted in a small "Quotes of the Past & Present" column, saying "I picture heaven as a great family reunion." And then later on my (dearly departed, or as the Salvationists say, "Promoted to Glory") Grandma Israel was quoted: "We have two choices when facing life's crisis--we can either be bitter or we can be better."

I have to admit that my first thoughts were oddly uncharitable. I (mistakenly) thought Scott was on the staff of the magazine, and somehow "quoting yourself" (in the biggest point type in the column, no less) was a little unseemly. It turns out Scott likely works near editor-in-chief Major Ed Forster at National Headquarters, who at one point was also the corps officer (local minister) for my grandmother's church. Which makes the thing seem a bit more appropriate.

Still, the Grandma quote... eh, it doesn't quit sound like Grandma, who was pretty plain-spoken, but googling a bit makes me think that it does come from national ministerial figures Grandma would've respected, and maybe even quoted. As for Scott's quote... it's a little poignant, given the track record of that side of my family... he and I both lost our fathers when they were fairly young, and an Aunt to Lou Gehrig's even younger (leaving behind four sons) and neither of our shared grandparents are still around. I'm not sure of the theological standing of his quote, but then again I tend not to be sure of anything's theological grounds.

Quote of the Moment
"Don't be mean. The fates are cruel enough. Remember. No matter where you go, there you are."
Buckaroo Banzai. Would have been good for me to think of that after I saw that War Cry...

Video of the Moment

--"Tyger". This gives Felisdemens "the transcendent shivers". It didn't move me quite that much, but I really like how they kept the puppeteers in

Link of the Moment
Human-Computer Interface in Sci-Fi... extremely readable, high-level overview of various "UI of the FUTURE!" A special emphasis on "Minority Report". (via boingboing)

Reminds me of one criticism I heard of the Star Trek Next Genreation approach, that none of those "reusable surface" touch interfaces offered meaningful physical feedback.


Quote of the Moment
"I'm not saying my mother drank a lot, but I was 30 before I learned Peppermint Schnapps isn't generally considered a cure for menstrual cramps."
MELAS (My Ever Lovin' Aunt Susan, at my recent birthday dinner.)
Apparently I have a taste for whisky sours that echoes my grandmothers... though in some small way it comes from Garrison "Drinking whiskey sours with a Catholic girl and thinking lustful thoughts, I had earned death three times over" Keillor.

Geekery of the Moment
Yesterday I mentioned it was tough to get info on that holographic monster game R2D2 and Chewbacca play in the first Star Wars movie, but I guess I wasn't Googling hard enough. I guess the title is "Dejarik Holochess" and like all things Star Warsy, fanboys have tried to make it more of a reality... here's a French guy making it out of clay (click on Dejarik at top, the dork doesn't support direct linking), here's some info with a screenshot, and here's even more details.

pope on a rope

So with all this news about the death of the Pope...I dunno, I keep hearing about his Vatican apartment and keep thinking..."damn, he should be rich...couldn't he at least get a house?"

Exchange of the Moment
"What do you think, Steve? Should I go into marketing? Writing ad campaigns and all of that?"
"I dunno... ...you don't fit any demographics that I'm aware of."
Me and Steve at work today.

Link of the Moment
Cool Tools -- kind of a group testimonial blog for simple gadgets that just do their jobs well.

sprung forward

Put your clocks ahead an hour...and test your fire alarms! We wouldn't want your temporarily sleep-deprived self to perish in flames!

Passage of the Moment
"I had always heard that your entire life flashes before your eyes the second before you die. Only that one second, isn't a second at all, it seems to stretch out forever like an ocean of time. For me it was lying on my back at boy scout camp, watching falling stars. And the maple trees that line our street. Or my grandmother's hands, and how her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird. And Janey. And finally, Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it's hard to be angry when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes, I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and I can't take it. My heart swells up like a balloon that's about to burst. But then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it. And then, it flows through me like rain and I feel nothing but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry. You will someday."
"American Beauty". Yesterday I referenced this passage, and realized it had never made it into any of my journals.

Online Game of the Moment
This tie-in with the new Dawn of The Dead game is good old school zombie-blastin' shotgun fun. (I just watched the 80s version the other night at Jim's movie night. The biggest obvious difference was the old school zombies just kind lumber around, and the new one lacks the sly(ish) commentary on American consumerism.)

T-Shirt of the Moment
The commerative Free Janet's Boobie T-Shirt.

Boring 'Site Update' of the Moment
I added a 2600 programming page to alienbill and put a link there in the sidebar. Along with a link to the JoustPong page in the "features" section. And at my birthday party Diane mentioned she couldn't figure out how to get to my résumé from the frontpage of kisrael, so I added that as a sidebar link as well. (Ah, "putting my résumeé on the web"--by itself, a truly classic, well-meaning yet (by itself) futile activity.) And I combined my two old video games pages and put the result on kirk.is/vgames.

the fix is on

Quote of the Moment
The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.
Douglas Adams. That is actually a pretty profound statement about fault-tolerant engineering.

Sound Collection of the Moment
Had to get a new mail notification sound, because at work people's new computers make the same sound mine was. I found this Clay's Sound Emporium, which is cool (especially the oddities page) because it gives a bit of context to each of the sounds. (If you're wondering, I chose "Special Ed of Crank Yankers" going "I've got mail, yaaaaaaay!" from the "Mail Call" page, though I cut it down to just one exclamation.)

Article of the Moment
Retail Athroplogy...a guy who closely studies what we do when we enter a store, and works with retailers accordingly; we tend to take some yards before refocusing on a store we enter, we tend to turn to the right, woman stop browsing if they're touched or bumped from behind, etc. (Note that the article is from 1996, so when it talks about these difficult days for retail, it's not what you might be thinking economy-wise.) It's a little scary, not not too bad. I'd like to find out where Mo and I would fall in one of the "typing" systems mentioned in section 4.

Arts and Crafts of the Moment
3.5" floppy disc origami! Well, sort of. Make the Starship Enterprise! I guess if you made 6 of these, you could then use the plastic shells as the basis of your own Borg cube. And you could probably think of something geeky to do with the black shiny circle part, call it a small moon or new type of weapon or something.

Linguistic Sidenote of the Moment
A woman at work who moved here from Pittsburgh is amazed at how often New Englanders say "I'm all set." I think usually it's the response to "Do you need anything?" but I hadn't noticed how often I use it. Kind of a funny little phrase, actually.

snow angel, snow angel, won't you be mine

Image of the Moment
This picture is of a small subset of almost 1800 people making snowangels all at once in Bismarck, North Dakota, trying to set the world's record. There's something really cool about snow angels. You can see even more people at the cellar.org article.

Geek Article of the Moment
An interesting and well thought-out (if a little rant-ish at times) piece: Object Oriented Programming Oversold! (wayback machine archive)Like all things, I think the answer is somewhere in the middle, but it was interesting to think about how I'd taken OO as handed down by the programming gods, and might be overrated. I thought The "Wearable" OO-example and conter-argument was especially good; if you're a geek in a hurry, do a text search for that word and read the next few paragraphs.

'Course, I'll probably keep any views along the lines of "Objected Oriented Programming sucks...way over-rated, just a fad" to myself during job interviews...

Funny Dialog of the Moment
"Rach, ya know, I can see you naked any time I want."
"All I have to do is close my eyes. See? Woohoo!"
"Ross! Stop that!"
"Ah, I'm sorry."
"Come on! I don't want you thinking of me like that any more!"
"Uh, sorry. Nothing you can do about it. It's one of my, uh, rights as the ex-boyfriend. Oop... oh yeah!"
"Stop it, cut it out! Cut it out!"
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry, it will never happen... Uh-oh! Wait a minute! Wait... wait... now there are a hundred of you--and I'm the king."
Ross and Rachel from Friends, John was quoting this the other day and I looked it up. (Friends Season 3 Episode 21: "The One with a Chick and a Duck")

guilty as charged

Unemployment is making me feel kind of funny. I'm neurotic enough that it makes me a little nervous, and I have some level of 'protestant work ethic' that says I should be working, but I love not having a full day of stuff to do ahead of me. Overall it makes me feel kind of guilty.

Quote of the Moment
life, n.: A whim of several billion cells to be you for a while.

I still look at things and think: mortal, transient, likely to be wasting my finite and limited time. Maybe it will pass (well of course it will, that's the bleedin' point, but I mean maybe it's just a phase. Hmm- maybe there is a tie-in with stress at work.) But something new just occured to me: maybe the problem comes from my religous upbringing- I blame the world for being fragile and the universe for being impermanent because I secretly apply the impossible standards of immortality that I learned in my youth. If the Universe as we know it is itself fleeting, than the seeming triviality of the things that make me happy is no crime. "Life can then little else supply / But a few good fucks and then we die" indeed. Doing goofy little pleasurable things is what the universe is all about.
Reading "The Age of Spiritual Machines"-- they touched upon the old "is a perfect clone (or teleported version, or cybernetic copy, etc) ever the same person?" conundrum.  I guess I've always assumed that the continuum of consciousness, a continual pilot light of self, makes the difference (so the Trek teleporter might be murder and cloning)-- but now I wonder.  I sleep, I can be knocked out... could unconciousness mean un-concousness?
You've been dead before, remember. What was the first 15 billion years of the universe like for you?
--wallern@aol.composter, responding to my fear of missing out on the Universe after I die

Old game idea: real time chess, pieces moving simultaneously.

Charles somehow provoked an interest in wargames, so I bought one for a buck at buck-a-book