photos of the month june 2020

July 1, 2020

on reading, and writing

July 1, 2019
Thinking about my reading habits. One of the downsides to tracking all the books I've consumed (for almost two decades now) is the tendency to "gamify" reading. I started the practice to try and remember the books (along with movies and games and what not) of my life, but now that there's a yearly number to it, it's hard not think in terms of the tally - whether for "bragging rights" or just to get a feel for how I'm spending my time over the course of a year, and how that number varies over the course of a decade.

That leads to a few knock-on effects, like how I'm more likely to follow a mediocre book to the bitter end, or less likely to start juggling several books at once, partially for the pressure of adding to the tally.

For a while I admired and kind of imitated people saying "Oh, I only read non-fiction, really." Isn't the universe rich enough that we should focus on what is, rather than people who are making up more of it? But now I'm thinking I want to recant on this idea, and focus more on fiction.

I'm a fast reader (and so, secretly a skimmer) and so I tend to read for substance, books presenting superficially interesting and novel ideas. Or better yet, and maybe this is where novels can best produce novelty - books that give me a new way of interpreting the otherwise too familiar.

I read through Kris Gage's 8 Things I Learned Reading 50 Books A Year For 7 Years (Tangent: this article was a recommendation from Firefox's Pocket, the first "let us be your homepage, we'll show you interesting stuff" portal widget I've seen that actually seems good.) The author quotes this lovely passage:
We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.
Rebecca Solnit, "A Field Guide to Getting Lost"

Arthur C. Brooks in the Atlantic on Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think

It's an intriguing article that starts about professional decline with age, with a sudden veer into a call for spirituality and finding a role in being a mentor. "Corpse meditation" - a practice of literal encounters with the remains of the dead - is touched upon; to me the "exposure therapy" it offers (similar to the "negative visualization" suggested by modern forms of stoicism) is much more satisfying than a life of avoidance...

Interesting wrapping this into where I am now - my long term lack of career ambition (long term ambitions in general, actually), combined with my mid-life rediscovery of community through band, and my version of a spiritual quest in terms of helping people cope with their own mortality, as well as figuring out the sense of ultimately unrealizable but existent and relevant objective truth that has driven me so many years.
So much of my writing is made worse by me trying to say too many things, either to show off my smarts or to acknowledge the validity of people holding conflicting opinions... even before I've stated my own.

Or the fear that if I leave out a detail, it is gone forever, without hope of later retrieval as needed.

"Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity" and you can leave off two of the Simplicities...
Is life fair? Short answer, no. Long answer, nooooooo.

July 1, 2018

Great comic on Frankenstein and his "Monster"
Read a thing on Tumblr the other day about how 'punishable with a fine' means 'legal for rich people' and it's lodged in my head firmly.

Watched "Oceans Eight" with Melissa this afternoon, saw a preview for a film about literary forger Lee Israel. Really weird to see my idiosyncratic last name out there like that :-D

July 1, 2017

I think it's kind of smart that Somerville does its fireworks early (in this case last Thursday) - I'm sure they get a better deal for it, plus more people can see it. Anyway, we are just a block or so away from where they launch...

July 1, 2016

As a Scot and a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a mess and had fallen from an original state of grace. Somehow, I early developed the notion that he had done this by falling from a tree. As for my father, I never knew whether he believed God was a mathematician but he certainly believed God could count and that only by picking up God's rhythms were we able to regain power and beauty. Unlike many Presbyterians, he often used the word "beautiful."
He was about the only man I ever knew who used the word "beautiful" as a natural form of speech, and I guess I picked up the habit from hanging around him when I was little.
Norman Maclean, "A River Runs Through It". I read it a while back, but this concept stuck with me.

Apple forces a password change and then my iPhone and other devices asks me for the new one about a thousand times.
Overall a quiet month for One Second Everyday - Visually I liked the shot of Alewife on the 10th, followed by Pride. I could have done even more bugs like on the 18th. And looking into the San Pellegrino on the 29th was kind of fun.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast and the fork we use to eat the strategy is execution.
Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL

July 1, 2015

As the Buddha said two and a half thousand years ago... we're all out of our f***ing minds!
Albert Ellis

I attribute too much malicious intentionally to inanimate objects, and possibly too little to people, some of whom have agendas they actively pursue but keep to themselves.
"Masshole" has just been added to the OED. Hooray!?
You know, one thing that might get me to shell out for a replacement for this cracked iPad mini (when, weirdly, I could buy a cheapo windows laptop for less) is the way it's Kindle app is one of the few iterations that lets me highlight in colors (in my case, yellow for 'that's interesting', blue for stuff I want to quote, and red for stuff I disagree with.)

July 1, 2014

One Second Everyday. Visual highlights include parasailing in NJ on the 8th, a turtle laying eggs near the Alewife biketrail on the 12th, and Jane on a ride at Old Orchard Beach on the 22nd.

Aww, my car is 10 years old today. Happy Birthday Scion xA!

Oh god, ISIS now what's to be called just "IS" for Islamic State. The TLD (that I use for my website ) is Iceland, but if they get their acts together and actually look like a place someone might want to Internet to, it might be annoying.
Reading that Galaga book-- not as good as the other titles in the "Boss Fight" series. It reminds me of two things that were lost when we transitioned from arcades: the idea that the better you were, the longer your quarter gave you, and the community aspect of the high score table...

one second every day june 2013

July 1, 2013

The Palm V as the platonic ideal of the standalone PDA
Tornadoes the NE, 125 heat in the SW. For the records, if you've been a climate change denialist you should probably consider the other things you're wrong about.

celebrate centipede

July 1, 2012
The NY Times had a brief article about Dona Bailey, who invented the video game Centipede.

By coincidence, Amber played Centipede at Asbury Park's Silver Ball Museum (mostly dedicated to pinball, but arcade games have made an incursion) and filled up the entire high score table.

The article touches on the male-dominated aspect of the video game industry then, which is something that persists to this day. Really a pity, too-- since making that dedicated home tabletop rig for Centipede for Amber, my appreciation for this game has greatly deepened... from color aesthetics to ramping up the difficulty to the balance of skill and chaos, this game really is pitch perfect.

[On 'Why is there something rather than nothing?'] And if there were nothing? You'd still be complaining!
Sidney Morgenbesser

'I have a to do list. And now, it is time to do.' #internlife

Do not understand the appeal of Tab-Syncing. Guess I see tabs as short lived, and task-context-dependent
Latest This is my Jam: Bonde Do Roll Out -- [explicit] fun mashup...

final days of superheroes

July 1, 2011
Finally finished 30 Days of Super Heroes! It was great fun to have some thoughtful scenes to draw, and I learned much about blocking a scene, and then using oilskin-ish layers to put a final version over an even rougher sketch.
Life is a 3-D movie without the glasses.
Ronnie Shakes

'owling 'orrors

(1 comment)
July 1, 2010
--The Terrifyingness of Barn Owls, from's 5 Lovable Animals You Didnít Know Are Secretly Terrifying

iPhone 4 photos have a distinctive feel I might dig (maybe it's a shallow gimmick, just high saturation- kinda like glossy monitors?)
The iPhone 4 rotation lock is portrait mode only- I suspect because the home screen only works that way. And actually iPad homescreen rotation is bad UI; you can't use spatial memory for where icons sit! Both devices need "homescreen only" locks. -- glyphboard - go here on your iDevice to get wingding-ish characters to copy and paste- like w/ stars or apple logos
Feb. 26, 2011 - last Space Shuttle Mission ever? Sigh.

wildlife on the patio at my mom's place: a bee, a squirrel, a slug, and another bee

July 1, 2009

The Buzz Boar is easily the most devastating weapon in the COBRA arsenal, if viewed from the perspective of a weary parks groundskeeper. - way too much Commander Riker

spin cycle

July 1, 2008
Busy, busy, busy.

Video of the Moment

(2019 UPDATE: Actually not sure if this what video was of, but hey, this is good too.)

june moon spoon

July 1, 2007
Should be making my way back from the city of broad shoulders today. (Update: broad shoulders and blistered feet. I feel a bit betrayed by my dress shoes, but maybe they feel the same way about me by using them for too much city walking.)

Music Store Review of the Moment
Hey, are you my buddy Mike Brown? If you're Mike Brown: dude, you are gonna totally love this place. You know all that crazy new jazz shit you listen to? You know how your music is so obscure that by the time it gets around to making a chord you're sick of it? This is your place. If you are not Mike Brown, however, Twisted Village got nothin' for you.

Note of the Moment
A long time ago I made a note to look up "High-Handed Outrage at Utica", a chapter said to have been read by Lincoln to has cabinet before the Emancipation Proclamation:
"Why don't you laugh?" he asked. "With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do."
Well I finally managed to Google it up and I can answer... Maybe because it's, you know, not funny?

At the risk of spoilers, here's some of the ending paragraph:
Sez he, "That's all very well fur you to say ; but I tell you, old man, that Judas Iscarrot can't show hisself in Utiky with impunerty by a darn site!" with which observashun he kaved in Judassis hed.
Does the final line of the piece ("I sood him, and the Joory brawt in a verdick of Arson in the 3d degree" -- for a bit if religious fervor inspired art vandalism) some kind of pun I'm not getting?

Seriously, the image of Ol' Honest Abe reading this to a grimfaced crew, trying to get a laugh with such flimsy material, probably overdoing the accents... it's not all that reassuring.


July 1, 2006
Five years ago today I wrote the following about my Grandma Israel. It was a strange time; Mo and I were just married the day before and were about to head down to Mexico. We all knew my grandmother was on her deathbed, but my mom had made the "executive decision" that if she passed away during the honeymoon I wouldn't find out 'til after we got back. She asked, though, that I write something to be read at her funeral for that likelihood. (I think that blend of real concern and sentimentality blended with practicality might be a trait of my family.) I also threw together a collection of digital photos and a copy of the video ErinMaru had shot and edited to be FedEx'd to her, but overnight hadn't been fast enough I found out on our return.

It's 2am, the wee small hours of the day after the day of my wedding, a thousand things to be done before I can go to my honeymoon in Mexico. The wedding was roundabout the happiest day of my life, despite or because of its flurry of lost rings and thunderstorms, but it was tempered by Grandma not being there bodywise, although we knew her thoughts and prayers were with us.

And now...

Grandma was the cornerstone of our family, a center we could always return to. And would always return to, and not just for the meatloaf! (I think anyone who's had Grandma's meatloaf, preferably for lunch the day after it had been made for dinner, with white bread and ketchup will understand how the confusion can be made.)

I tried to be faithful in writing letters to Grandma. Like my dad before me, I realized typing gave me my best, or only, chance of legibility. And I was often able, through some tricks of the computer, to include a photo of myself, or maybe some part of the world around me. I think it helped make sure my letters were interesting to look at even when the writing may have been same-old, same-old. I was surprised when I found out that Grandma especially liked that I addressed those letters "Grandma Israel". I mean, what else could her name be? Of course I addressed them to "Grandma".

What else will I remember about Grandma? Her and grandpa sitting me down and making me learn to TIE THOSE SHOELACES after getting away with pennyloafers for far too long. The red and white peppermint before church. I remember her big tupperware jug of iced-tea, and how happy I was at college when I found out that Lipton's bottled iced-tea, sweetened, no lemon, could do a passable imitation of Grandma's...not quite the same but good enough for a guy living off of college food for 4 years. I remember the amazing selection of cereals Grandma would have, a cornucopia of sweet breakfast goodness in the shelf underneath the oven.

You know, a lot of these memories do seem to be revolving around food and drink. Grandma always fed "her boys" right, whether you were talking food, or socially, or spiritually. I remember her settling fights between my cousins and me, and if I concentrate I can just faintly recollect the rush to the emergency room when Brian and I tipped way back in Grandpa's chair and I got a plant-stand to the head for my troubles. I still have a little scar from that time. I think the scar made from Grandma's passing may be a little deeper than that.

chicago photos - reflections

(1 comment)
July 1, 2005
With uncertain web access this weekend, I thought I'd highlight some photos from Chicago for the next four days. Or you can just see all of the photos in three sets. UPDATE: the link now has a bit more text describing the days we were there.

Reflections from Chicago
Ksenia getting ready for the day:

Elevator down in the Sears Tower:

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park...unfortunately it's still kind of an ongoing process, so we could only see one end sticking out of a protective tent:

News of the Moment
Oh boy, here come the Supreme Court Retirings. And wasn't she generally a moderate, my favorite outlook? It's kind of dry reading but Slate has the Supreme Shortlist. Lets see if Bush has any chance of nominating someone who fairly represents this 50/50 nation of ours... (yeah, right. If he was "all or nothing" when it came to recreational substances, why should he start understaing "moderation" now?)

our collective nostalgia has run amok

July 1, 2004
Passage of the Moment
Something is happening. It's funny. It's a little strange. Personally, I don't think it's disturbingly prurient so much as endearingly pathetic, an absurd side effect of these superfast times where everyone over 20 feels over the hill. Our collective nostalgia has run amok. We're all a bit hung up on high school, pining for our own rosy recollections of our own youth, and, in doing so, we've inadvertently become soft-core fetishists.
David Amsden in Prom Story, a Slate piece on how he (in his mid-20s) took his cousin to Prom for the research angle. Or something.
He's talking about our nation's obsession with the Olsen Twins and other underage pretty people. Come to think of it, it's kind of similar to Humbert Humberts' (the narrator of "Lolita") explanation of his obsession. And it's similar to the reason why I'm into cars that look like minivans, which is what I borrowed to drive back in the day...

Purge of the Moment
I am thinking about launching a significant decluttering program. I'm even considering yet another book purge...I keep thinking about what the standard for what stays and what goes should be. My latest thought is to move away from the "enjoyed it in the past or have reasonable expectations of enjoying it in the future" standard to a harsher "would expect to say 'hey, this is cool, look at this!'" to someone else or even my future self.

Eh, maybe this book move is misguided, just an easy target relative to the more heterogenous junk that's really bugging me. I don't know if I have an "impressive" amount of books or not, but they sure are heavy...

Event of the Moment
I got a new car! That Scion xA, called "Dogma" or sometimes "the Dogmatic". (See, it's a Scion, and the only time I remember that phrase (meaning like "descendent") being used is the Kevin Smith movie Dogma.) If I didn't think of my self as a sort-of photobloggy person (I do have a camera at all times, for the most part) I'd think it was even geekier than it I do now to post "hey, it's pix of me and my new car!" but hey.

It's actually a lot more spacious feeling that this picture would imply. Also, it rides a bit higher than a typical low-slung car. So far, my only beef with it is that with the back headrests up, backwards visibility is kinda poor. Oh, and I am getting hubcaps, they were out of the type I wanted.

This is my usual driving technique, taught to me by my dad.

At 2:13 today, my car had 8 miles on it. Weird!

Right now these cars are pretty amazing bargains, all the Toyota goodness, a fair chunk of extras (A/C, power-everything standard, good CD/MP3 system) for $15K or so including taxes and fees and what not. Many thanks to Sawers and Cordelia who got me there and hung around a bit...

words, words, words

July 1, 2003
So Mo and I started what will hopefully become tradition for our anniversary this year...I came up with the idea of having a "State of Our Union" conversation every anniversary, where we can talk about the direction of things and bring up any issues without having to establish a special time for that, which always sounds a little ominous. I think it worked out pretty well.

Vocabulary of the Moment
100 Words That All High School Graduates - And Their Parents - Should Know I added links to just in case you don't. (Amusing comment on that site: "'The words we suggest,' says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, 'are not meant to be exhaustive'." Well, that's a relief.)
abjure, abrogate, abstemious, acumen, antebellum, auspicious, belie, bellicose, bowdlerize, chicanery, chromosome, churlish, circumlocution, circumnavigate, deciduous, deleterious, diffident, enervate, enfranchise, epiphany, equinox, euro, evanescent, expurgate, facetious, fatuous, feckless, fiduciary, filibuster, gamete, gauche, gerrymander, hegemony, hemoglobin, homogeneous, hubris, hypotenuse, impeach, incognito, incontrovertible, inculcate, infrastructure, interpolate, irony, jejune, kinetic, kowtow, laissez faire, lexicon, loquacious, lugubrious, metamorphosis, mitosis, moiety, nanotechnology, nihilism, nomenclature, nonsectarian, notarize, obsequious, oligarchy, omnipotent, orthography, oxidize, parabola, paradigm, parameter, pecuniary, photosynthesis, plagiarize, plasma, polymer, precipitous, quasar, quotidian, recapitulate, reciprocal, reparation, respiration, sanguine, soliloquy, subjugate, suffragist, supercilious, tautology, taxonomy, tectonic, tempestuous, thermodynamics, totalitarian, unctuous, usurp, vacuous, vehement, vortex, winnow, wrought, xenophobe, yeoman, ziggurat

Movie of the Moment
Shootout from The Matrix in ASCII. Not as inventive as the Star Wars one; they just took a greyscale shot of the movie and digitized it into letters. (Star Wars uses the more "traditional" ASCII approach, the same thing that brought us all smilies...)

Article of the Moment
Jakob Nielsen on humans' information foraging (and its implications on setting up your website.) I like the idea that we hunt for information on the web using the same techniques as an animal hunting food, it's the same idea as Daniel Dennet saying we are preprogrammed to build our minds the way a beaver is preprogrammed to build its dam, or the spider its web... (Hrrm, actually this article is a complement of a Wired piece I previously linked to.

Google Prank of the Moment
1. Go to
2. Type in "weapons of mass destruction".
3. Hit "I'm feeling lucky"
(if that doesn't bring you to something slightly amusing, click here)

the rain in maine falls mainly on the vain

July 1, 2002
Man, it sucks when the week of July Fourth comes around with such an air of menace. We sure as hell don't want that kind of fireworks. Is there anything we can do to make the situation right? Or at least less dangerous for everyone involved?

Anyway, had a nice weekend in Ogunquit, Maine, for our anniversary:
Got caught in the rain on the first day:

Got chased by hoardes of hungry seagulls on a boat trip to a lighthouse:

And then from that evening, a picture of Mo on the shore.

It's funny how much better a photo looks when you say
'don't look at the camera'.

what a wedding

July 1, 2001
Story of the Moment
This is the story of one of the best days of my life.

June 30, 2001, Mo and I got married...

Murphy and his Law had their say, but didn't take the day: A serious fire in the apartment across from the one where the dress was, rings secure in a safety deposit box-- and a lost key, two soon-to-be-newlyweds developing colds, 90 degree heat (plus) that you could swim in, followed by one of the biggest thunderstorms I've ever been out in to finish up the night.

Quote of the Moment
The one-thing-after-another thing can stop now!
Mo, as a different fire alarm chased us out of our hotel hours before the ceremony

Rest of the Story of the Moment
But it worked out so well, Mo had done the lion's share of the planning, (and still wanted to marry me despite me being such a bum) and the result was fantastic. The site was great, a beautiful setting. The photographer-- working in an almost rather documentary style, with the "formals" almost an afterthought-- really knew what she was doing. DJ Brother Cleve spun great tunes, balancing the music we requested (by burning a cd for him) against the music people really got into... and finding where those two groups of music overlapped. We had a hayride, a trip to a petting zoo, and it turns out a raging storm can be great to dance in. The food was great, the cake so tasty, the flower arrangements so lovely.

And then of course, (well, before all of that) I got married to the terrific person I've been in love with so long... our ceremony was short and sweet. One of the readings was my own Yee and Lan, which is a 'just so' story I wrote once upon a time that seemed custom made for the day. (Though it wasn't...) And we remembered the vows without a burble.

Man, I'm very happy.

Anyway, I could write more, but I'm out of time, it's past midnight and I have to get to Mexico!

Well, we should know by October 10 if Nostradamus's "Seventh Month of 1999" is going to mean anything.  I very much doubt it myself, but hey.
So Greg's gonna be having a kid.  For some reason it seems odder to me than the fact that Mike is as well, despite Greg being older, married, and generally looking more eager to settle down.  Maybe it's because it *is* likely deliberate for Greg, whereas Mike just got his girlfriend knocked up.  It's that deliberation that seems strange.

"Menu items are the modern programmer's way -- even that of the Java programmer, who is too pure of heart to use pointers -- of putting an obscene number of unpredictable GOTO statements everywhere in his code."
So we keep asking, over and over,
Until a handful of earth
Stops our mouths--
But is that an answer?
          --Henrich Heine, "Lazarus"
"...the greatest bargain since Jesus bar-Miriam was was sold for thirty pieces of silver to the Romans, who, God wot, have been selling him ever since..."
          -- Avram Davidson, "The Redward Edward Papers"
All this rain- it's hard not to wonder if we've somehow broken the weather and the sky, that this will be the prevailing weather from now on, that weeks of fair, sunny weather is something we'll have to tell our children about.
"I wish you luck with a capital F."  
          --Elvis Costello
"I'm not a vegetarian because I like animals, I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants."  
          --A Whitney Brown