May 15, 2022

this is a good metaphor.

i really hate challenge for its own sake, but the thing is, life is challenging so it's good to have your challenge muscles built up a bit....

May 15, 2021

Can bladder capacity be built up? Or is it innate?
When I was in high school chemistry classes, one of the (sensible) rules was "DON'T DRINK FROM THE LABWARE". Being (insensible) teens, my best friend Mike and I decided to ask if it was ok to bring our own containers and drink from them. The teacher consented, and in our (not-very) boundary pushing way we made a point of consuming these vast sports bottles full of water.
Chemistry was the final two periods of the day, and then I had to catch a school bus home... by the time I made it home my bladder would be practically bursting. (Being, as I said, an insensible teen, I would time the length of passing water with the stopwatch built into the side of my yellow "sports" walkman.)
So you know, mostly harmless juvenile shenanigans. But I wonder, could there be a benefit? So many of my friends seem to have teacup bladders! But my capacities are vast... holding urine among them. Do I have my dorky faux-rebellious teen years to thank? Or is it just one of those things?
(In retrospect I do suspect there are some dangers to pressing bladderly limits, so I'm not making any training recommendations but still)
Bruce the (malfunctioning) Animatronic shark in Jaws:

May 15, 2020

Continuing a small tradition of when an illustrator is open for commissions I go for a new work for my Alien Bill Gallery...

This one by papercutie.

growing up along with "Wired"

May 15, 2019
Wired's cover story is a terrific piece by programmer and CEO Paul Ford, Why I (Still) Love Tech: In Defense of a Difficult Industry.

I probably started at nearly the same place as him: just getting online in the last great days of Usenet (he references the September That Never Ended) and, not coincidentally at the same time Wired magazine was starting up. It reads like he had a lot more ambition and less fixed mindset than I do, pushing into higher levels of less hands-on activity while I've been content in my role of making small things (and sometimes helping others make things) without needing to decide what everyone should be making. The article is a love letter to people who were building stuff on the early Internet, back when everyone needed their own "homepage".

It also points to how the techno-utopian vision didn't pan out. In particular some of the challenges in terms of inclusivity people trying to climb on this gravy train face:
I keep meeting people out in the world who want to get into this industry. Some have even gone to coding boot camp. They did all the exercises. They tell me about their React apps and their Rails APIs and their page design skills. They've spent their money and time to gain access to the global economy in short order, and often it hasn't worked.

I offer my card, promise to answer their emails. It is my responsibility. We need to get more people into this industry.

But I also see them asking, with their eyes, "Why not me?"

And here I squirm and twist. Because--because we have judged you and found you wanting. Because you do not speak with a confident cadence, because you cannot show us how to balance a binary tree on a whiteboard, because you overlabored the difference between UI and UX, because you do not light up in the way that we light up when hearing about some obscure bug, some bad button, the latest bit of outrageousness on Hacker News. Because the things you learned are already, six months later, not exactly what we need. Because the industry is still overlorded by people like me [...]
I think his attitude is good, and I hear him echoing this quote from Neal Stephenson's 1992 work Snow Crash:
It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.
Anyway. As my own blog gets to the end of its second decade, Paul Ford reminds me of how lucky I've been, and continue to be, coming into techie adulthood during such a time of flourishing new ideas.

It reminds me of that old Douglas Adams thought-
  1. everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal;
  2. anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
  3. anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
That's where I am! Lets see how I manage to surf a rising tide of ageism - kind of hoping to scrape some kind of retirement together to coast into shore by that point.
Oh hey terrific. Striking down the Voter Rights Act, breaking the constitution by by holding a Supreme Court seat til conditions were favorable, Gov Brian Kemp "overseeing" an election he was running -- there's a bunch of landmarks to see while GOP gets set for decades of white minority rule.
Oy. Came down with something flu-ish. Is it kind of weird that I'm a grown-ass man who doesn't know if fever reducers like Tylenol and Advil will significantly delay recovery? I mean, a body doesn't set up a fever for its health - err, except in the literal sense, I guess - so if I can tough out some shivers and aches by just lying here, is that the best path, don't mess with the body trying to to sous-vide its way to health?

(Only yesterday did I realize, if I took some fever reducers, I shouldn't then be relying on a thermometer reading as a gauge of how sick I am...)
I feel that even a person of faith could look at, say, Psalm 139:13 ("For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb") or Job 10 and accept that there's uncertainty if souls are jammed in there - KAPOW! - when sperm meets egg (in which case, I guess a 6 week old thing the size of a snowpea could carry one along?) or if forming a soul/molding a person is something God + mother's do over time. Since there's potential ambiguity even for people who are convinced the Bible is the protected Word of God, principles of letting the people who bear almost all of the cost of molding decide - i.e. women and respecting their bodily autonomy - needs to win out.

I'm not convinced of the feasibility of changing anyone's heart and mind - and that of their tribe - through words on a screen, but a strict "My Body, My Choice" line is going to be talking right past believers (or even humanists) who counter "Abortion is Murder!!!!" - who might not be realizing they are implying they KNOW that the soul or personhood is an instantaneous appearance vs a process that can be stopped before life / soulness has been achieved. "Souls get knit, they don't just pop" might have more traction, or at least acknowledge that abortion banners think they're heroically saving people.

Sorry if this is too much of a "both sideser" style argument. To be clear I am firmly pro-choice. But when people do attempt to examine the assumptions behind their firm beliefs, I think that's the only way progress can be made.

(I am also not sure it's reasonable to grant benefit of the doubt to people breaking legislative procedure to make these bills happen, that they are solely (or soul-ly) motivated by "saving kids")

May 15, 2018

At work we have a Slack channel "#stupid-idea-buddies" where people propose ideas and no negativity is allowed. (I know some other workplaces have followed our lead - I'd recommend it for any office using shared chatrooms) Here's my latest:
#2226 Life in a zero-G or microgravity environment (like on an orbiting station or a spaceship that is not maneuvering) offers many challenges. When you're exercising on the treadmill or just sitting at a work console, you need to strap yourself down with elastics and velcro. Exhaled CO2 silently pooling around your head is a constant threat if the air circulation system isn't perfect. And if you lose momentum in a large open area, like thanks to air resistance, it can be nearly impossible to get moving again. The solution to all of these is clear: astronauts should always wear old-school propeller beanies at all times when not in their helmets.

"Boy With a Propeller Beanie" (1948) by Guy Pène du Bois
The problem isn't to learn to love humanity, but to learn to love those members of it who happen to be at hand.
Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren

Beautiful - Old memories, accidentally trapped in amber by our digital devices. I have a folder that's a snapshot of the files on an old Windows Desktop (back when I used to use that as temporary storage) - it has the most random stuff in it, and is a slice of life I'm loathe to give up.
It's terrifying that these two things are true at the same time in this world: computers drive cars around & the state of the art test to check that you're not a computer is whether you can successfully identify stop signs in pictures.

May 15, 2017

This Eurovision guide is great, and as far as i can tell pretty much accurate despite it's goofy webspeak nature.

Ever since Lena Meyer-Landrut's Satellite I try to watch each year's recap with snippets from every song...

This year my favorites were the Rap Yodeling :

and this really incredibly sweet song, Martina Bárta - My Turn (Czech Republic)

Makes me misty!

But then again, remember I've had a fever for a few days.

May 15, 2016

Some nice footage from Joe Mac of JP Honk at the Jamaica Plain Open Studios juried exhibition last night:

JP Honk

A video posted by @jmceachern36 on

I really liked Cracked Against Trite Inspirational Memes. Especially the stuff about travel; I've done my fair share, but I think it's easy to get hung up on "I want to be the kind of person who travels" vs actually absorbing the experiences -- I know my interest is usually more in getting a feel for the differences in mundane day to day life stuff.

May 15, 2015


Death Sentence. I'm Bummed. Don't want the state killing anyone in retribution, no matter how much they "deserve" it.

May 15, 2014

Comcast as the Enron of the Information Age.

May 15, 2013

Thoughtful analysis of Trek through its various incarnations.
In the beginning, when Adam was first created, he spent whole days rubbing his face in the grass. He picked his ear until it bled, tried to fit his fist in his mouth, and yanked out tufts of his own hair. At one point he tried to pinch his own eyes out in order to examine them before God had to step in.
Jonathan Goldstein, "Ladies and Gentleman, The Bible!"

WARNING: catchiest kids video ever... it's funny how they really embrace the logic of it.

the sounds of aronofsky

May 15, 2012
Darren Aronofsky has a very distinctive gimmick in his films:

--via kottke

eurotrip day 1

May 15, 2011
For technical reasons, at least for the time being I'm going to have to be very selective about how many photos I publish here, just saving the truly odd or visually decent ones...
Safely in Paris. loving the app CityMaps2Go-- even without paying for data roaming you can preload maps and then know where you are!
You know, from a UI perspective, toggle push buttons that change the state of a system are kind of problematic. If the current state isn't immediately clear, than it's ambiguous if a button should tell you what the current state is, or what the state will change to if the button is pressed.

For example, my cellphone has a virtual button "Speaker On", and if the other person isn't talking, I don't know if that means the speaker is on, or will turn on if I press that button.

I see this a lot with music players... there's the convention of the right pointing triangle for "play" (and a square or two vertical lines for "pause") but often it's a guess if it means "playing" or "play".

is you is

May 15, 2010

--MAN I've loved this clip for so long! Random thoughts: that's an odd place for a mail slot to open into and B. Damn that's some rocking subwoofer-ish bass Tom has going on there.
The MFA prohibits backpacks which makes some sense, but the policy that backpack purses must be worn over just one shoulder is funny.
Anyone know what the name of that one keyboard voice you hear so much in electronica is? Some kind of organ or something?


May 15, 2009
My friend, an old high school buddy, with the Nome de Web JacquesDemain, runs a small private forums. It runs a bit libertarian, and someone posted the following link to a big PDF paper... this is my long winded and rambling response, and I welcome any feedback here as well.

bladwintm wrote:
As for the Europe thing: I'd much rather have American Taxation than European Taxation. (see [2019 Update: Wayback Machine Link] to see why.)
So I read through the paper. Here are my thoughts as I went through it....
GDP is the commonest way of measuring material prosperity and the only criterion for which there is widespread consensus and co-ordination regarding the measuring procedure to be followed.
Translation: GDP is easy to measure, so we're going to measure it. To their credit, and a bit of my surprise, they do address the criticisms of this yardstick on the next page but their fundamental course is set. Jumping ahead, they feel free to inflate the importance of this metric into statements like "Connecticut, for instance, has almost twice the material prosperity of old European great powers like France and the UK." But of course in that same graph, Washington DC is LITERALLY OFF THE CHART in material prosperity, over twice the nearest state. Strangely, Weirdly, the authors, who go to HUGE lengths about the importance of a 20% difference in GDP between the USA, and explaining that Luxembourg fits between Delaware and Connecticut (all the foregin capital) are silent about this elephant in the room. So clearly we want every city to look like Washington DC, don't we? That gunfire in the background is probably gunfire of CELEBRATION!
various indexes aimed at measuring other aspects than GDP alone. These indexes also factor in equality, for example, in a calculation of total national wellbeing. The obvious problem about them is that they are extremely sensitive to the choice and weighting of the variables included. In other words, these indexes are extremely arbitrary. In Sweden, for example, an index of this kind presented recently by a statistician of left-wing persuasions showed Bulgaria coming higher than the USA in terms of wellbeing. Such methods and indexes are patently absurd.
I honestly don't know much about day to day life in Bulgaria, but this sounds suspiciously like condemning the methodology in large part because they don't like the result.
So much for GDP comparisons. Private consumption is another important welfare indicator. Basically this is a question of people deciding their consumption for themselves, the possibility of riding in a new, roadworthy car, the food we eat, the number of pleasant and time-saving restaurant visits, the possibility of experiencing creative leisure, and so on. Access to the new products of technical progress is every bit as important today as it ever has been. Take, for example, the importance of having access to a computer and the Internet, or being able to 'buy time' by consuming good precooked food or services.
So, in this viewpoint, TV dinners and "time-saving restaurant visits" are automatically the signifier of prosperity. Clearly, we all eat like this because we wish to make time for our productive leisure activities, and that a quick run down to the 24-hour Taco Bell after work bodes better than taking the time to cook and make a nice meal with our loved ones.

This was made in 2004, before the latest "OMG economapocalypse!" (which I'm hoping was a bit over-stated, but we ain't outta the woods yet) One of the takeaways from this downturn was hey, maybe we shouldn't be collectively running our credit cards 'til the numbers wear flat to live like this. I'm reading on, wondering if the authors will address the big debts folks in the USA carry, or how in this time so many of us were apparently banking on house prices going UP UP UP! (to my meager credit, I heeded the murmurings of a bubble and got my butt out of home onwership the instance my life circumstances changed and a home wasn't where I actually wanted to, you know, live.)

Also, I'm wondering if this paper will take on income distributions. I'm still wondering about the giant spike of Washington DC on that chart... if the USA's averages are dragged up my a small number of supermegahyperconsumers, with F.U. money to burn, do I really care, does that really form a metric that makes USA me certain I'm better off than poor ol' EuroKirk?
The higher level of retail consumption means that the Americans have more 'gizmos' than Europeans
(Better Living Through Gadgery! My favorite part of that chart, besides the obviously dated ~1.2% penetration rate for cellphones in the USA, is that while every country has a mid-90s or better % of households with TVs, "TVs per 1000", USA dominates all comers. IF A TV IN EVERY ROOM AIN'T LIVIN, I DONT KNOW WHAT IS)
For several centuries Europe led the world in terms of prosperity and progress. As little as a hundred years ago, much of the American continent was virgin wilderness. Today, a hundred years later, the USA has completely overtaken Europe to become the unrivalled leader of the world economy. Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come any where near. The really prosperous American regions have nearly twice the affluence of Europe. It is worth reminding ourselves what this means. In these regions the average American can get exactly twice as much of everything as the average European. Which goes to show the importance of an economic policy to stimulate growth
HAHA, Wow. At first I was going to put "In these regions the average American can get exactly twice as much of everything as the average European." right after that "gizmos" line as pointing out the crazy bias of this kind of research, but... jeez, do you think maybe BEING a "virgin wilderness" (2019 Update: or at least unindustrialized - conservatives tend to downplay the fact Europeans were not moving into unoccupied places) - they and having tons of natural resource to exploit, rather than having supported centuries of relatively crowded growth, might actually be a net plus when it comes to making a century of economic progress? Or maybe having relatively docile neighbors and big wide oceans and not getting bombed nightly in giant World Wars?

C'mon! Our unique position in the world is only in part due to economic policy.... and if you're charting our growth over 100 years, maybe you'd do well to see how much of that growth happened after those dirty rotten commies like FDR starting marching us down the road to Socialism,. (Come to think of it, a much more interesting topic would be comparing the USA's path to say, Brazil -- as they self-deprecatingly put it "Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be")

UPDATE: and the more I think about it... "average American" seems to be playing into that fallacy that tends to think of "average" when "median" would be more appropriate! 99 hobos plus Bill Gates is on average a really rich guy, but the median is still "just a bum". What weasel words, especially when framed with a pompous "it is worth reminding ourselves what this means."

I admit I started to glaze over a bit during the next section. Diagram 3:4 is interesting, the one plotting per captia GDP vs % of households of incomes under 25K... it's visibly a looser correlation than some of the other charts, but I can almost see it as the corner of an elbow curve, that % below 25K (and a relatively coarse measure to begin with) isn't gonna sink below 20% no matter what kind of Washington DC-esque rich bastard super-GDPers a state is swamped with.
The media image of the American poor is that they have great difficulties to contend with, that they are dossers, junkies and in various ways marginalised.
Here there are some more compelling ideas, that it's not so bad being poor in the USA... they might not have health care or retirement but they sure have a car (kind of necessary in a wide open country with generally spotty public transportation) and a *color* tee vee, by gum! (For reals. It's funny that they bother to list "color" even as their chart also makes the distinction of "wide screen") But again, it's telling that thus far, they are setting up "they're poor but not poor like you probably imagine it", and citing a lack of data to explain why they're not doing comparisons against the poor of Europe.
The average American household has a home that is 80 per cent larger than its average European counterpart. Europeans, in other words, are more crowded in an American perspective.
Gee, it's almost like we're only 100 years away from having been virgin wilderness or something.
BY ANY METHOD OF MEASUREMENT, EUROPEAN economic development has been relatively poor over the past thirty years, which of course prompts one to ask: Why?
Again, I think they should insert "that we found convenient to use" at the end of the first clause.

To speak with authority that the numbers they elected to use are therefore proof that the USA has the best model, where I assume they're going with this, is a bit of a stretch.
This, of course, is because, the higher the tax burden and the larger the public sector become, the greater will be the power of political decision-makers and public bureaucracies. Private players, consequently, will have less scope for deploying their in-comes and assets as they themselves wish to. High taxes also generate counter-incentives to work and entrepreneurial initiative.
So, here's where the rubber meets the road, with Conservative truisms. They're not 100% offbase, but it ain't all gospel.

The liberal, of course, might point out that some decisions made in the public sector are for the benefit of the public, as opposed to the laissez-faire world where decisions are generally made to the benefit of making more money...and hopefully that averages out and does more people good, and we don't get to stuck in tragedy of the commons situations, and people as individuals achieve broader thinking (the sort of thing where, it makes sense to fund a general fire department rather than a subscription based one, since if your neighbor gets cheap and lets his house burn, you're in more danger than otherwise... or "we might be building up McMansion ghettos and horrendous schools, but as long as I can send my kid to private school from my gated community, I'll be A-OK")

And then there's the "counter-incentive" argument. "WHY WITH THESE HIGHER TAXES I'LL ONLY MAKE 200K RATHER THAN 300K...DAMN, MAYBE I'LL JUST TAKE IT EASY THEN" This does seem to correlate to a real world. In fact I think you have to at least argue a bit why the opposite isn't true, maybe an entrepreneur has a certain financial goal in mind, a fixed dollar figure that they work even HARDER for because they know a certain larger percentage of their gross is going to be taxed away.
The further equalisation goes, the less difference there will be between economically efficient and inefficient behaviour. It is our hypothesis that in large parts of the overripe welfare states of Europe the incentives for choosing behaviour that is good for growth are simply not big enough. This applies, not least, to Sweden.
I still think there's a presumption here that the important difference is absolute cash amounts, and not percentages.... in much the same way people will elect to be poorer but richer than their neighbors than richer but a bit poorer than their neighbors, some common-sense truisms in this field deserve to be challenged, and here they are often taken for granted.

The next section starts talking about "Americans work harder", but the LS ratio seems like an odd duck:
The LS ratio (labour supply ratio) relates the actual number of hours worked in the economy's regular employment sector to the number of hours which would be worked if all individuals of adult age (16-64) worked full time, apart from taking five weeks' holiday.
Five weeks of Holiday? Man, that sounds practically european in its decadence!

More to the point, I don't know if I trust this metric and its muddling of unemployment with, you know, how many hours and how hard and long Americans vs Europeans are working, and the quality of life is issues that I find most interesting.

In short, Jacques, not too impressed with this paper. - Obama as parallel-parker; "pragmatic" and "moderate" are music to my ears.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
Pablo Picasso

Thinking of a September Euro trip. Friends in Switzerland, Germany, Portugal all sound hearteningly psyched about hosting me a bit :-)
Dear makers of CSS:sometimes you just want a table as a grid with non-chiseled borders, not a pile of bordered boxes. Please make this easy
CSS: So the "solution" is to use a dark background for the table, light for each cell, and use cellspacing for the border width -- primitive, but otherwise you have to play dumb TD style games.
"Oh it was partially set in New Zealand! No wonder it was an even better movie than Lord of the Rings!"
"Lord of the Rings was a much, much, much better movie."
"Did Lord of the Rings have a heroe with retractable forearm claws? I think not. Game, set, match."

Note to future self: the setting for not letting a jostled mouse wake Windows are under the mouse, not the power settings.

no news is good news

May 15, 2008
Moods and focus are such funny things. Our perceptions so dictate our reality. Not in a mind over matter kind of way, but our subjective realities. Isolated events provide the coloring for our whole world models.

It might be asymmetrical, weight towards the negative; bad news does more coloring than good. Or maybe... Murphy's Law-derived ideas, like how there's no situation so bad that it can't get worse, seems to mean that most news is bad news. Happy status quos aren't news; good things usually have to build gradually and slowly. No wonder Confucianism-based cultures have such disdain for change! It takes a long while for change to show its positive side.

Like Hamlet said, "for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" which is a complete crock, but still most of our lives will be spent failing to appreciate our good condition, combined with worrying that doom and gloom is right around the corner. (And sometime it may well be, that's the trouble of it!)

Ramble, ramble, ramble.

Quote of the Moment
I laminate things that don't really need to be laminated.
Micaela Blei, Third Grade Teacher, on how she Procrastinates
Via this Slate gadget showing procrastination across professions

Link of the Moment
This guy is flying over the Swiss Alps on what is essentially a tiny jet-powered glider. He's like a superhero in training!
do cable providers deliberately sprinkle your paid for channels among the blanks to be annoying and get you to buy more?
niko in gta iv has a count of miles driven, walked, people shot, etc. i'd like the same for my life,+ stuff like lines of code written, etc

does this taste funny to you?

May 15, 2007
On online dating sites, everyone wants to be known as having a good sense of humor. In fact, OKCupid specifically suggest not making one of your 3 main self-descriptive adjectives be "funny" because it's such a cliché. (I'm trying to think about the phenomenon, but I'm hardly above it... actually I was grateful for OKCupid's suggestion as a reminder to try and "show, don't tell" when it comes to being funny.)

But...why is that? Why are we so instinctively drawn to being funny? Why is "has a good sense of humor" such a huge prerequisite? (Isn't there some list of the three things I guy will never admit to: being a bad driver, being lousy in bed, or having a bad sense of humor? Of course, they also claim that when a guy says he's looking for a gal with a great sense of humor, he really means he's looking for someone to laugh at his jokes... I don't think that's a fair accusation, but I see where it came from.)

Is it just because it's fun and relaxing to laugh? And healthy, the stress relieving aspect of it... Is it a correlation with intelligence? I guess to answer that, you'd have to understand humor's role in society in a broader sense. Being able to joke about something can be empowering, whether it's cruel teasing from someone who already has the upper hand, or the dark humor that sees us through tough times. By making a funny joke about something, you're shaping the perceptions of others.

Alright... I suppose a risk of analyzing something too much is taking the humor and joy right out of it, so I'll end this here...

Quote of the Moment
...A deification or divinization of humankind may have been attractive to Feuerbach, to Victorian England, or to German thinkers early in the twentieth century, infused as they were with the fiery certainty of cultural superiority. But the twentieth was, by any account, a bad century for the so-called infinite goodness of Man.
Phillip Clayton, "Mind & Emergence"

Video of the Moment

--Its been said that I look like this guy, the lead for "Death Cab for Cutie". Could be, maybe even more so than the Barenaked Ladies singer! Still, my claim to fame, or infamy, will always be the Nazi guy in Indiana Jones who gets the medallion burned into his hand, and then his face melted. Lucky me!

april showers

May 15, 2006
April Showers may bring May Flowers, but May Showers will bring Flood Watches in Effect for All of Massachusetts. Or thereabouts.

Makes me for not having homeowner flooded basement worries.

Still, rain never seems to be a "cure" for drought conditions, its like it doesn't really count unless it's snow runoff.

In other news, I did a loveblender edition this weekend. I'm not happy with myself that it's constantly about a week later than it should be.

Oh and for the locals.... I thought I'd throw out a plug for "The Barn", the shoestore referenced in this old kisrael ("It's just east of West Newton." "Err, isn't that just... Newton?") Good selection, helpful salesguys, I think good's regarded as kind of a local gem so I thought I'd help spread the word. I had a pair of "Bass" shoes that were totally destroyed, I think during the trip to NYC, so that you could see the metal frame inside if you lifted the inner sole. My foot was hurting for days after wearing them.

Video of the Moment
Making the rounds (last seen at miller's LJ), I get the feeling other people might find this six minute history of dance (from Elvis to "Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture") more amusing than I did. Still it was pretty cool.

beachy keen

May 15, 2005

--The shore at Lynn, MA, 2005.05.09

switch back

May 15, 2004
Kirk's Life Updates of the Moment
So this week I found an apartment...a really spacious place practically in the heart of Arlington Center. I think being in a neighborhood, with a little indy cinema, some coffeeshops, restaurants, is going to be really's terrific to be surrounded by something other than houses. I'm not crazy about the floors of the place, newish squishy carpetting, but it's pretty huge (I could theoretically have an apartmentmate who would have their own room at the other end of the place, the only issue would be the shared bathroom), the rent is amazingly reasonable, and the location is terrific. It's still kind of funny to be thinking about starting a new life in a new place...come to think of it, I haven't picked a new place completely on my own since my first apartment in 1996.

In other news...this is going to make all the Mac fans roll their eyes, but I gave the iBook to Peterman (I had racked up a debt to him for the work he did cleaning before the Open House and helping repair the front steps) and got a darling little PC laptop with a 12" screen, about the same as the iBook. Probably I didn't give the iBook enough of a chance, but it just wasn't clicking. For one thing, I hated how many modifier keys Apple keyboards have, and how they aren't mapped the same ways as they are in Windows...there's Ctrl, Command/Open Apple, and Alt, not to mention the laptop specific "fn"...I kept forgetting which key to use to get the equivalence of "ctrl-arrow" in Windows (move cursor to the start of the next word...useful!), and I just had to think too much. Plus I wasn't crazy about the Dock...I hate how it's an always visible blend of the start menu and the task bar...I don't want to see the apps I might want to start all the time (I don't like Quicklaunch buttons or the Office start bar either.) And when I'm browsing (which was one of the main things I wanted a laptop for) I want each window to have its own entry on the Dock, I don't want to have to go to a dropdown menu list of windows. Yeah there are probably ways to configure around that stuff, but between those things and having to learn new equivalents for all the small apps I've spent years harvesting in Windows, it just doesn't seem worth it. The iBook has many cool touches, like the little throbbing LED that shows you it's sleeping, like a heartbeat or breath, some other things, but overall my cute little Averatec 3225HS (I've already nicknamed/network named it "Sliver", because it's silver and small) has captured my imagination in a way the iBook didn't.

Caption of the Moment
I should ask, before we begin, whether you're looking to repair your existing marriage or replace it?
Couple's Therapist in a New Yorker cartoon.
Lately it's been dawning on me that Mo's honest would have been the latter.

Essay of the Moment
A somewhat curmudgeonly rant on the current state of affairs and affairs of the state by Kurt Vonnegut, but I think the old guy has earned it: Cold Turkey.

his life and pixel times

May 15, 2003
Pixeltimes of the Moment
So, I've been thinking about possible substitutions for Ranjit's beloved and defunct Pixeltime. I've already posted about tilemachine. It's pretty good, though its obsession with tiling, designs that can seamlessly repeat, is a little odd. guestpixel isn't bad, though it has a weird "select a (small) palette" thing I'm not crazy about, though it makes for some nicely mood-ed images. The newest entry seems to be blograffiti. It uses Pixeltime's 45x45 size, but it does by letting you paint big, and then shrinking it down.

None of them capture that Pixeltime magic for me. Few of them respect individual pixels the way the Pixeltime did. None of them have a mascot like the good old Pixel Master, and all the images end lumped in a single giant gallery, there's no sense of themes, and no judging. (And one thing I learned from loveblender is that a selection by some kind of judge adds a nice structure to a site, and at least for pixeltime, gave me something to shooot for, goaded me into trying to be more creative.)

Anyway, I guess I like tilemaster the best of those. Here are four from my gallery at tilemachine (each is a 3x3 version of the thing I actually made.) The last two are video games, Pac-Man and Zaxxon, respectively.

Fotolog of the Moment
Ethan Kavet is a medical photographer in NYC, and he has an amazing fotolog Fire..Cuffs and Guts with medical photos, fights, car accident scenes, and the like. You can follow that link for the most recent photo, or start at the first image.

Quote Article of the Moment
As for the famous passion that used to motivate so many worker bees, a guy in the weight room at the Pacific Athletic Club in Redwood Shores said it best: "How many people can honestly say that they are really passionate about selling 'ERP software solutions to Fortune 100 enterprises'?" People are working, and working fairly hard, but most would rather be doing something else, if they weren't afraid of living on half the income.
Ain't it the truth.

Thought of the Moment
Been reading a lot about the Matrix today, various reviews, going to see the new movie tomorrow. One point; in the first movie, the big "kill all the soldiers in the lobby" seemed kind of ok, because it was "only" happening in the Matrix. I never really connected that scene with the previous scenes showing how when you died in the matrix, you died in real life. And one of the reviews pointed out the trouble with imagining anyone as fundamentally "soul-less" makes it possible to justify killing them by the truckload.

deja you and me

May 15, 2002
Last night I was trying to convince Mo that Groundhog Day was a great movie before we watched it. She said she'd seen it already. I asked her when. She said "a couple of years ago". The jig was up! I knew it wasn't a couple of years ago 'cause I would've seen it too! Aha! So her opinion was old! And therefore suspect!

We both agreed that it was a little strange to be at this point in our relationship...

Image of the Moment
--Yearbook Photo of 222 Street Jazz, my high school group. I think it would be perfect except the way Molly is coming out of Veronika's head.

News of the Moment
Iran's Khatami Tells U.S. to Stop Insults..."If they abandon their threats and insulting language and we sense their goodwill then dialogue would be possible. American politicians should first learn to speak politely." This being the nation that calls us the "Great Satan" and uses hatred of us as a rallying point? Sheesh!

Quote of the Moment
Another day, another dollar...another irreplaceable chunk out of a finite and rapidly passing lifetime.
Calvin's Dad to the Shaving Mirror

leggo my logo

May 15, 2001
Corporate Logo Math
Nintendo just 'leaked' the logo for its upcoming game system, the "GameCube". There's a clever hiding of the G and the C in the logo, but over all I don't think it will be as flexible as the old 4 N's logo. At first I couldn't tell if it was a "real" 3D object or just an Escher-esque trick, but I think it can be real if the inner cubed is flush against the top front corner of the larger cube, not centered inside the larger cube as it kind of appears. Still, once it rotates the cool "G and C" visual gag will go away.

News of the Moment
High Court Nixes Medical Pot. Great. Hell, I bet if they let this thing slide, people would be getting AIDS and cancer just to smoke up in peace, by crackey! I really don't believe that our country is better off with the kind of drug enforcement we have now. I don't know where the limit should be-- the libertarian in me says no limits, the utilitarian in me suspects no limits would be harmful to safety and hurt more people-- but I know the limit now, with a lot of non-violent drug offenders in overcrowded prisons, and a chicken-and-egg refusal to permit research into its medical effects ("there's no research proving it works" says the Federal Government, now the only legal resource for marijuana for the research, who also seem loathe to permit it's use for doing that same damn research), is not right.

Quote of the Moment
Poor Poland: so far from God, so close to Germany and Russia
Pilsudski in S.M. Stirlings "Under The Yoke", alternate history about World War II

"I am but a way station in the life of plastic swizzle sticks"
--How to draw a radish and other fun things to do at work
--- : an article on the US Air Force's plan to detonate a nuke on the moon as a show of force when they were running behind in the space race.  Jesus.  
"Don't think of it as programming. think of it as warfare."
Dmitry Orlov,99-5-13
What is it with this chick, she have beer flavored nipples?"
--10 Things I Hate About You
"A dead man could get up a better legend than this one.  I don't mean a fresh dead man either; I mean a man that's been dead weeks and weeks."
--Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
"i'm just a walking mountain of testosterone. Step off."
99-5-15, Dylan's Goodbye Brunch
"Skeptics say that a company fitness program will not succeed. Let's do some aerobics and see who's right!"
          OUCH! OW! WHAP! UNH!
          "The skeptics are right."
"We usually are."
Blah, blah, blah. Whatever, blah, blah, etcetera, etcetera.
          --Ratbert's short story for impatient people
And when your only hammer is C++, everything begins to look like a thumb.
"When you really think about Christianity, it is a religion without a penis."
          --Tori Amos
"The ant's a centaur in his dragon world"  
          --  Ezra Pound, Canto LXXXI
"There is nothing which cannot be answered by means of my doctrine," said a monk, coming into a teahouse where Nasrudin sat.  "And yet just
a short time ago, I was challenged by a scholar with an unanswerable question," said Nasrudin.  "I could have answered it if I had been there." "Very well.  He asked, 'Why are you breaking into my house in the middle of the night?'"
"Time is a play thing. But when it breaks, you're fucked."
          --Phillip Zibilich
Hope to never hear "a show about nothing" or "yadda, yadda, yadda" again- see ya, Seinfeld