from "Station Eleven"

August 13, 2019
Some small passages I liked from Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven", a novel bouncing its point of view from right around the time a horrific flu virus spares less than 1 in a 1000 and ends civilization, and a few decades later where a small pack of survivors (taking their motto from an old Star Trek Voyager episode saying "Survival is Insufficient") make some kind of living as a travelling Symphony and Shakespeare show.
There are tears in her eyes now. Miranda is a person with very few certainties, but one of them is that only the dishonorable leave when things get difficult.
The brief flare of a meteor, or perhaps a falling satellite. Is this what airplanes would have looked like at night, just streaks of light across the sky? Kirsten knew they'd flown at hundreds of miles per hour, inconceivable speeds, but she wasn't sure what hundreds of miles per hour would have looked like.
I've been thinking lately about immortality. What it means to be remembered, what I want to be remembered for, certain questions concerning memory and fame. I love watching old movies. I watch the faces of long-dead actors on the screen, and I think about how they'll never truly die. I know that's a cliché but it happens to be true. Not just the famous ones who everyone knows, the Clark Gables, the Ava Gardners, but the bit players, the maid carrying the tray, the butler, the cowboys in the bar, the third girl from the left in the nightclub. They're all immortal to me. First we only want to be seen, but once we're seen, that's not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.
"A sea of electric lights. It gives me chills to think of it. I don't really remember my parents. Actually just impressions. I remember hot air coming out of vents in the winter, and machines that played music. I remember what computers looked like with the screen lit up. I remember how you could open a fridge, and cold air and light would spill out. Or freezers, even colder, with those little squares of ice in trays. Do you remember fridges?"
"Of course. It's been a while since I've seen one used for anything other than shelving space."
"And they had light inside as well as cold, right? I'm not just imagining this?"
"They had light inside."
None of the older Symphony members knew much about science, which was frankly maddening given how much time these people had had to look things up on the Internet before the world ended.
Crowds had gathered beneath the television monitors. Clark decided that whatever they were looking at, he couldn't face it without a cup of tea. He assumed it was a terrorist attack. He bought a cup of Earl Grey at a kiosk, and took his time adding the milk. This is the last time I'll stir milk into my tea without knowing what happened, he thought, wistful in advance for the present moment, and went to stand with the crowd beneath a television that was tuned to CNN.
"Why did we always say we were going to shoot emails?"
"I don't know. I've wondered that too."
"Why couldn't we just say we were going to send them? We were just pressing a button, were we not?"
"Not even a real button. A picture of a button on a screen."
"Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about."
"There was not, in fact, an email gun. Although that would've been nice. I would've preferred that."
He found he was a man who repented almost everything, regrets crowding in around him like moths to a light. This was actually the main difference between twenty-one and fifty-one, he decided, the sheer volume of regret.
A few passages were reminders of the cornucopia of small technological miracles we are surrounded by daily... it reminds me of Nicholson Baker's "The Mezzanine", and its meditation on the design of mundane objects. (Or the old essay I, Pencil - a bit of libertarian propaganda but a reminder of the crazy complexity in even something as mundane as that...) But it also has some of the most gripping scenes of normal people bearing witness at the inflexion point of collapse since Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.
Coding for Fun and the Culture of Learning - made an entry for my company's engineering blog, about the fun of old 8-bit computers, the comapany's Peer-led classes, and the fun of programming stuff in Processing and p5.js
Fun history of Apple Easter Eggs:

(mentioned on The Daring Fireball's Talk Show podcast...)

¡7 Trombones for niños y niñas!

August 13, 2018
I ran a fundraiser the Banda de Música Juvenil de Loma Larga La Unión El Salvador - a program that gets musical instruments and training into the hands of boys and girls in El Salvador, and helps keep them out of gangs. With my buddies on FB, the matching funds I put in, and a donation from JP Honk, Omar(the man organizing it) wrote "Hay están los instrumentos del dinero que ustedes donaron se compraron 7 trombones 3 clarinete y 4 flautas trasversales" (There are the money instruments that you donated, 7 trombones 3 clarinet and 4 transverse flutes were purchased)

August 13, 2017


photo by Jason Victor Rosenman
Trump: "*All* cars driven into peaceful counterprotestors matter"
By all means, compare these shitheads to the Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you.

second best photos of 2014

August 13, 2016

Cool, our cross-honkish-band BABAM got mentioned by name in a Boston Globe article about our gig with the Landmark Orchestra!

August 13, 2015

Heath Robinson is a somewhat less-whimsical Rube Goldberg, but with something like Winsor McCay's sense of solidity in his drawing.

Today's sense of how time flies: I've been doing my daily blog ( http://kirk.is ) for around 15 years. (!) Lately I started a UI-specific blog, http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/ ) And by lately I mean around 5 year ago, or about 1/3 as long as sooooo old daily blog.

august blender of love

August 13, 2014

The internet is one huge experiment in confirmation bias.

It's almost scary how lighting can change the appearance of a face in photography.

alaska

(1 comment)
August 13, 2013

[Kirk has] an estimated 3.0% Neanderthal DNA, which puts [him] in the 92nd percentile among European 23andMe members.
23andMe

spaceman paintman

August 13, 2012

cat pause

(1 comment)
August 13, 2011

At gameloop, an "unconference"... feel like a bit of a poser! Wonder if any other processing.org wonks here...
Gameloop unconference had neat everyone introduce yourself via 3 hashtags... like twitter's limits, brevity can be wonderful #gl11
Thinking that 'Hey, I like playing games, so maybe I'd like making them' is sort of like saying, 'Hey, I really like taking baths, maybe I'd like to be a plumber.'
Jesse Schell


New Blender of Love Digest is here!

shore thing

(1 comment)
August 13, 2010

click for fullsize

Surprise find: Asbury Park's Silverball Museum- lots of awesome old school pinball from across the decades!

play the guitar just like ringing your bell

(1 comment)
August 13, 2009

I was talking about "Learning Guitar to Get Laid" the other day... and Tuba is like Bass, only much more so.


You're so humble.... I mean, for someone so full of himself, you are humble.
Amber to me this morning

'The brain seems to be more stingy with mechanisms for pleasure than for desire,' Berridge has said. This makes evolutionary sense. Creatures that lack motivation, that find it easy to slip into oblivious rapture, are likely to lead short (if happy) lives.

The time you spend reading this tweet is gone, lost forever, carrying you closer to death. Am trying not to abuse privilege.

http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/dice/dice.html - forgot how much I dig "Dice Wars". Like a dumbed-down "Risk".
Decades ago I noticed that any month that has a Friday the 13th starts with a Sunday... err, FWIW.

bed bath and beyawn

(4 comments)
August 13, 2008
Wow, mundanity ahoy!

Finally got around to Bed Bath Beyond last night. I have a fair amount of closet space, 3 bars worth, but not a lot of shelf or drawer area, so I thought I'd revolutionize my life with those vaguely-Euro pants clip hangers. Then I got some shirt hangers, only this new odd type, rather than the usual tubular plastic, it's like thin metal covered with something velvety. And towels... I hadn't realized how bachelor boy I was at risk of being until my friend pointed out I really didn't offer anything for guests to dry their hands with in the bathroom. And then these "As Seen On TV" Hercules Hooks (Warning: spokesman shouting at you) that seem to be pretty damn good at offering a place to hang stuff with only a small puncture in the wall (though you have to carefully avoid studs and the like.)

I put up one or two of the art pieces I was thinking of, then I put the Olympics up on the wall with the projector, settled into the iJoy chair that I have custody of on behalf of my Aunt, finished off a book I'd been meaning to get through, and fired up a laptop. It felt homey in a way I hadn't experienced in a long while... just kind of nestled in there, and with the art around (even if mostly in stacks against the wall) it really felt like my space. And sometimes it feels like I'm finding a new, good rhythm in life, taking care of issues as they arise and generally feeling like I'm giving myself room for whatever comes next, even if it's more of the same... I guess it's some combination of these Todo apps, finally making progress in the apartment, having a smaller amount of bills to think about, and is happening despite work getting more complicated as I volunteer for a management-ish role for another team.

I might still want to add in a slender Ikea-ish sofa to go with the iJoy and the hide-a-bed loveseat. I'm also tempted to frame the area of wall the projector shines on with art, so that it looks like a mysteriously blank area that only makes sense when the projector is on.

Link of the Moment
A friend of mine, recently transported to Pittsburgh, has started a restaurant blog there. The prognosis ain't too good so far.

Passage of the Moment
He remembered once when the grass was damp and she came to him on hurried feet, her thin slippers drenched with dew. She stood upon his shoes nestling close and held up her face, showing it as a book open at a page.

"Think how you love me," she whispered, "I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there'll always be the person I am tonight."
Tender is the Night, F.Scott Fitzgerald.
In the end, my feelings about this book are mixed... it felt like a slog, even though it was punctuated with some beautifully executed scenes. It took me two weeks of subway reading (well, that includes a few days skimming the Blender review) and I felt mostly every bit of it.

Another line I liked:
Nearby, some Americans were saying good-by in voices mimicking the cadence of water running into a large old bathtub
Reminded me of this one roadtrip I took after college and sharing a shower with my travel companion, an old clawfoot tub in the middle of my buddy's large bathroom.

Ugh, I'm such a nostalgic!
NO MORE FOLDING PANTS FOR ME! Nothing but Euro-ish "pants clamps" hangers. Trouble is, no idea if legs or waistband go better up...
"I worry that Taoism lets a bad man justify his badness; 'That's just my path'" "Do you know many bad man Taoists?" "No..." "So why worry?"
<3 spaghetti straps

i just hope they leave some of their restaurants behind

(2 comments)
August 13, 2007
Interesting bit on public radio this morning, about the Brazilian community in Boston starting to dry up, thanks in part to the weak dollar and a perception of an increase in anti-immigrant feeling. Actually one of the guys heading back said that he thought the economy was in free-fall and didn't see it getting better in the next five years. That seemed like a pretty dire assessment!

Toy of the Moment

--News Ticker from Lore's Bad Gods. The description from its page
The Doo-Dah News Network brings you the finest headlines that you can sing to the tune of "Camptown Races" if you add "Doo-Dah" to the end.
(I guess Lore used this trick before, but I think this is actually automated.)

I like how the author-insert Lore cartoons now include the drink recipe of what he's drinking (click on "Notes").

around and around we go

(1 comment)
August 13, 2006
Woo, really busy today. I'll try to post more later.

Joke of the Moment
You are driving in a car at a constant speed on a curvy road.

On your right side is a valley and on your left side is a fire engine traveling at the same speed as you.

You see a giant galloping pig, the same size as your car, in front of you.. Behind you is a helicopter flying at ground level.

Both the giant pig and the helicopter are also traveling at the same speed as you, and the accelerator seems to be stuck, so you can't evade them.

What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation?

Answer:

Get off the children's Merry-Go-Round, bozo! You're drunk!

Mitchell.J.Edelman on rec.humor.funny

geek of the week

August 13, 2005
Even thoough I have tons of stuff I "should" be doing, from decluttering my apartment to attending to the loveblender, I've been spending my freetime "tecnoslacking"...no, not playing video games, though come to think of it, it is assembling tools and information about games.

I made one page that aggregates the results from 5 "Top 100 Video Games of All Time" lists...EGM 1997 and 2002, Game Informer 2001, and IGN.com 2003 and 2005. Here's the top ten from the "powerlist" I assembled.
  Name EGM
1997
EGM
2002
GI
2001
IGN
2003
IGN
2005
1. Tetris        \/ 1 \/ 1 \/ 1 /\ 1
2. Super Mario 64        \/ 1 12 \/ 7 /\ 7 =
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past        = 23 \/ 20 /\ 17 11 \/ 5
4. Super Metroid        /\ 5 29 \/ 28 /\ 26 10 \/ 7
5. Street Fighter II        13 \/ 8 22 \/ 9 10 /\ 12 /\ 2
6. Super Mario Bros. 37        22 /\ 15 /\ 20 /\ 1 =
7. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night 12        /\ 8 18 \/ 14 17 /\ 1 16 /\ 1
8. Chrono Trigger 29        26 /\ 3 15 /\ 11 12 /\ 3 13 \/ 1
9. Super Mario Kart 15        44 \/ 29 35 /\ 9 14 /\ 21 15 \/ 1
10. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time --          11 \/ 3 /\ 9 =
I made it so you can compare any subset of the 5 lists, like to see how EGM changed, or just to view a single rating by itself.

I'm also working on a basic tutorial for writing music on the Atari 2600 (called "do re bB", bB being the batari BASIC language it's focusing on.). I'm pretty proud of this little HTML keyboard I made for a web front end to a "calculate the note" command line program called "Tune2600"...
#
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#
#
#
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C
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D
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E
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F
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G
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A
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B
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You can see the full keyboard at webTune2600.

monkeyslack!

(3 comments)
August 13, 2004
Breakthrough of the Moment
Gene therapy to make monkeys stop slacking. When can I get this to put in my Dunkin Donuts iced coffee in the morning??

Ramble of the Moment
It's always grated on me a bit that I don't have an exact starting date for the Blender of Love. I think I used to have a slightly stronger idea of the starting point...for some reason I've written a lot of things that put it at "late 1993", like on the Blender history page. 'Course, late 2003, I was kind of too busy with a breakup to think about that anniversary all that much I guess...

So I've been looking for other dates. I've been using Google's "Groups" features to search my old Usenet posts. I started advertising it in my signature file in July 1995, as far as I can tell. (July 12, I wasn't, July 19, I was.) So July 2005 might be as good a date as any to make an anniversary, though it won't be as cool as one for the absolute start.

Other milestones: Anyway, it's kind of sad to my archivist self that I don't have a clearer idea of the start of it all. Ah well. But come to think of it, I don't have a clear idea of how I'd want to mark any given 10-year anniversary either...

Quote of the Moment
Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
Hermann Goering.
Of course, if they're not utterly evil leaders, THEY firmly believe the war is justified. Our administration was hankering to move on Iraq for a long time, from a fear of WMD to a wish for revenge for the assassination attempt on Bush Sr.

yay clié

August 13, 2003
Palm of the Moment
So I'm finally retiring the old Palm IIIc. Actually, it's Mo's old IIIc, she generously let me use the one she got when mine when on the fritz. I got the IIIc January 2001, though you can see be jonesing for something new a few days before. Wow...when I got that IIIc, I was still at my dot bomb!

Anyway, the IIIc was always a bit wider and longer than I liked, so I took to decorating its case with stickers, you can see the last rendition here on the left. I liked how the stickers piled up over the years.

UPDATE: Heheheheh. I carried this Palm with roughly that group of stickers for months, and only after having that picture posted for 10 hours do I notice the way the Small Soldiers Ogre's boulder turns the TITAN A.E. into "TIT". My inner 12-year-old must've been asleep!

Its replacement is a Sony Clié SJ22. I've kind of warmed up to it now that I see it's styling as a bit iBook-ish, but man, is this thing girly: But anyway. I think it's the cheapest PalmOS PDA out there with a 320x320 screen, which makes the pixels really tiny and the text look really nice. Plus you can read it in daylight, unlike the IIIc. (And the stylus isn't falling out all over the place, unlike my IIIc) It's not perfect as a doodle pad, it tends to jump a bit when reading the pen, but overall I'm secure enough in my manhood to be very happy with it. In fact, it probably is attractive enough that I'm not tempted to subvert it with stickers.

I know it might be odd to write this much about a piece of hardware, but I've had a PalmOS device with me ever since fall of 1997, so it's an important accompanist to my brain...

Invention of the Moment
Call me gadget-happy, but I think I'd really like to get one of those high-tech toilets Wired is writing about.

Prank of the Moment
ZUG has fun with credit card receipt signatures. I liked the surrealness of some of them.

I haven't thought about ZUG in a long time. I love how it informs you that "You're reading ZUG, the world's only comedy site."

wind and clouds

August 13, 2002
Video Game Quote of the Moment
The winds blew and the clouds moved on as if they were oblivious to their mortal plight.
from the game Soul Calibur, the ending for the character Maxi.
The game has different endings for each of the different characters you finish the game with, and what strikes me as odd (and possibly Japanese) is that it's only a "happy ending" for some of the characters...I guess it's understood that the other characters are cursed or otherwise doomed.

I like this quote though, describing Maxi's death, painting a lovely picture of an indifferent universe that goes on even when we don't.

Link of the Moment
WhatTheHeck.com seems to have a steady supply of interesting links. (And claim to be the first "weird Ebay auctions" trackers.) I ran into a Eric, one of the founders, at a brunch Max Weinstein had on Sunday. (I think Max is looking for a Sys Admin gig, if anyone's got an opening.) WhatTheHeck seems to need an archive feature, however.

sartre said it first

August 13, 2001
Mo was feeling really unwell yesterday, mostly nausea that her body didn't seem to know what to do with. (She thinks she has been a bit off since Mexico, she's going to the doctor's this week.) I dunno, somehow it reminds me of our mortality, that while this is probably just a passing viral thing, some day there's a good chance we'll going to have to deal with something more serious.

Current Events
Have you seen Al Gore's Beard? He looks like Riker on Star Trek. (Geek Humor: Maybe people mapped Picard/Riker to Clinton/Gore, so he lost when he tried for the commanding spot...ok, that may be a geeky observation, but that previous link was from a PlanetRiker tribute page. At least I'm not that bad.)

Link of the Moment
The Baltimore CityPaper Online has a weekly Summary of the Comics Section. I love the idea of it: the writer is very analytical and sarcastic, but is reading the stuff anyway. When it comes to the comics page, I know that feeling. Except I don't get paid for it. (via Comics I Don't Understand, another interesting comics study.)

Quote of the Moment
There is a general place in your brain, I think, reserved for "melancholy of relationships past." It grows and prospers as life progresses, forcing you finally, against your better judgement, to listen to country music.
Kary Mullis, Nobel laureate

But catastrophes only encouraged experiment.
As a rule, it was the fittest who perished, the mis-fits,
forced by failure to emigrate to unsettled niches, who
altered their structure and prospered.
--Auden, "Unpredicable but Providential (for Loren Eiseley)"
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Driving back to Athens from Coshocton last night: a bright moonlit twilight, the sky the deepest blue, the black outline of grain machinery.

Driving back to Cleveland today: a truck up ahead, a big group of copcar lights  flashing. A lone cop standing watching 100 yards off.  Cops with their guns drawn, a black couple leaving their car with their hands up.

At the Cleveland airport: waiting for Al Gore and Air Force 2 to get the hell out of here so the other planes can land and our flight can go.
00-8-13
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"Math is like love -- a simple idea but it can get complicated."
-- R. Drabek
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Man-- big time Y2K anxiety last night. On second thought, I don't think it's going to be as bad as all that.  Our society survives blizzards, power shortages, and other disasters all the time.  It's a lot to happen at once, but it will be somewhat spread out.  I'm banking that a little preparedness is all that will be needed to let things go fairly smoothly, on a personal level.
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I still don't think we have much to worry about.  You could spend the rest of the millennium thinking about the myriad of small, detailed problems that will crop up when the chronometer rolls over, but I still say that overall this is primarily a management problem, not a computer problem.  I think we can be sure that the biggest technical problems will be solved, and at worst we will be faced with some (maybe many) minor hassles.  We can't cure every computer system, but we can identify those which must be cured, and focus on them.  The really bad stuff won't happen.  When non-critical systems fail, they will be fixed or replaced on a priority basis.  Someday we will look back on this and laugh the way we do at people who panicked over the passing of Haley's comet last century.  People always fear what they don't understand, and the y2k problem is so widespread (but not necessarily so bad or dangerous), that it's hard for one person to comprehend -- hence the fear reaction.  Fortunately, one person does not have to fix this whole thing.
          --David Johnson
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"There are two adults and one child. Majority rules. Live like an animal or die."
          --James Israel
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Twentieth Century Blues- are gettin' me down...
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I hate when really beautiful woman say "they're not being fair" by being with you (in 'Sliding Doors')
98-8-13
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