October 25, 2021

Loved seeing this big ol' original iPod prototype! (this twitter thread drops a few names about the software involved...)
When in doubt, 16px
Sous at work, Feb 23rd 2021

October 25, 2020

My friend Rayna Jhaveri asks deep questions on Facebook, tying in with her general interest in people as well as her consulting/coaches for the coaches gig. My dialog with her in response to "what were you like as a child" ("insufferable" was my first concise answer) let do this

I did this illustration for this blog entry - - basically, having parents who worked for a church - whose housing was provided by and whose city of residence was select by a church - gave me a pretty direct connection of authority, God > Church > Parents > Me.

I'm not sure who or what exactly informed my childhood views on the difficulty of getting into heaven. My parents were hardly fire and brimstone preachers, and certainly a lot of my peers seemed more relaxed, the "just accept Jesus into your heart and you'll be fine" view.

Hmmm. The Salvation Army, as a church, was designed around the "one time big repentance", you know? A street church, where people who were broken by demon rum or generally consumed by devilish things could have a moment of epiphany and repentance and then build from there. When I was in it, it was a bit more sedate (the "open air" street preaching was a bit pro-forma) but there was still regular altar calls - most meetings ended with an invitation to come to the altar and get right with God. Maybe it was that sense of repetition, and the suspected backsliding it implied, that worried me. It might be more or less ok to get knocked down, righteousness wise, but what if you fail to get back up? Or you die suddenly before the natural rebound occurs. ETERNAL HELL!

My claim that I wasn't interested in the approval of my folks per se, but rather them as manifest spokespeople for God (being both my parents AND my ministers) is a bit challenged by the decade or so after I lost faith (again, triggered by noticing that my faith's truth claimed to be Absolute and Universal, yet many people believed many other things, presumably making the same claim) - I was petrified of talking about it with my Mom, or her finding out. So that MIGHT be a need for parental approval for its own sake, but it could also be that "disappointing your parents is objectively bad"- or even a hubristic fear that my reasoning on faith - that these religions can't ALL be right - would be damaging to her own.
As I get older I'm starting to let go of the guilty urge to build permanent habits. Like, a while ago I decided I would start jumping rope every day. I did it for like three weeks and felt good about it. Then I got bored, because of course I did, because I'm a human person. So now I do a bit of kickboxing because that's what I like now. The other week I cut all sugar from my diet, just for a week, to challenge myself. Now I'm back to eating sweets but I don't crave them as much.

Growth is about stretching, trying new things, and setting small, realistic goals for yourself, not picking a "good habit" you've decided you *will* be doing always and forever from now on. That's not discipline. That's pointless self-torture and unhealthy resistance to change.

What's good for you today will not necessarily be what's good for you tomorrow.
This makes sense but I think I have trouble living it. The difference between trying some improvement and then dropping it because of lack of gumption is too difficult to tell from dropping it because I've grown beyond the need for it...

why (this) guy(s) don't wanna talk about it

October 25, 2019
(Some parts of this may seem familiar to people who read my previous navel-gazing rambles, but public writing is sort of a part of my therapeutic journey, and repetition is certainly a part of therapy - you don't want to just churn your wheels, but it's rare that a singular moment of insight makes a permanent change in behavior and outlook... that's my excuse anyway.)

I know that I have an idiosyncratic way of looking at my obligations and "shoulds" in group settings, springing from my intuition that Truth (capital T - the criteria for best goals that the dictate what the "shoulds" are) is objective. I mean, reality is reality whether you believe it or not (to quote Flava Flav: "You can't stop reality from being real!")

Truth is objective in the sense of not being a matter of individual choice - but it is also obscure, permitting individuals of good will trying to see it, but never to claim full certainty about their view of it.

(This is some of why I'm not on board with promoting gathering as "people of Faith(s)" for its own sake - Faith is good when it quells anxiety or paves the way to positive action, but mostly I see Faith saying "well, I'm gonna presume I'm right, so anywhere we disagree, you're wrong." That seems arrogant and lacking empathy to me.)

So one implication of searching for the objective best is that in any group setting, from playing in a band to being in a 1-on-1 romantic relationship, I figure out what to do by summing up the pluses and minuses for members of the group (myself included). If I don't feel like playing tuba that day, a gig might be -20 for me, but my presence there is +100 for my small band that would struggle without a bass - so +80 and I go on the gig. If a choice with Melissa is a +10 for me but -20 for her, I shouldn't do it, because that's a net -10 for us. And objectively, Us is better than Me- closer to objective value.

But a further implication is, I don't want to talk about problems I have unless I think the communication will actually help fix the situation. In general, sharing a problem doesn't seem inherently useful to me - it just makes two people anxious about something! (I'm already on a project to be less anxious in my own life, because more often than not anxiety is better at stopping productive work than urging it forward.)

So, how the math works out: +5, my partner might have a good idea about solving the problem that I haven't thought of. -10 my partner might get anxious about it. -5 I don't like having my own possible incompetence shown off. (Shades of toxic masculinity, I suppose.) So more often than not, my intuition isn't to share. Or at least not to dwell on it - I believe in transparency in general (since, again, for me Truth is objective but the more sets of eyes you have looking for it the higher confidence you can have in the outcome.)

Come to think of it- this behavior had roots in after-school questions with my folks- "How was school today?" "OK" "Anything you want to talk about?" "No.". I wouldn't want to burden my mom or dad about something unless there's a path to them fixing it- otherwise I'm just making them feel bad too, for no good end.

I know that this is half-baked math, and that in the long run communication is important, and all that jazz. I'm just laying out what my intuitions are so I can decide when to share, even when the best course is against my intuition.
Me (young, naive); I hope something good happens

Me (now): I hope whatever bad thing happens is at least funny

October 25, 2018

Red Sox' Benintendi makes another great catch...

The Dodgers would like to demonstrate that they are fans of dance as well..

October 25, 2017

Yesterday a work Tech Talk about a Unicode conference mentioned Nüshu, a kind of phonetic script for the local version of spoken Chinese, but used virtually exclusively by women. This article gives some of the background for it.

Of course, reading stuff like this is tough:
Women had to follow the "three obediences"--obey one's father, husband, and son. The practice of foot binding--preventing young girls from walking to show their high social standing--was still widespread throughout Jiangyong County, and unmarried girls were tucked away in house lofts doing needlework, weaving, and household chores.

"Jiangyong County girls were referred to as 'upstairs girls,'
While the USA has miles and miles and miles to go, and where different types of backsliding are possible, I'm grateful that the Western culture I find myself in has a history of individualism that was a framework women could leverage to claim their rights in the 20th century, from the suffrage movement to the 1960s feminism and beyond.
One of the first things people tell you about money is that it's an illusion. It's notional. If you give someone a dollar bill it's not 'worth' a dollar - it's 'worth' a small piece of paper and a small amount of printer's ink - but everyone agrees, everyone subscribes to the illusion that it's worth a dollar, and therefore it is. All the money in the world only means what it does because people subscribe to the same illusion about it. Why gold, why platinum? Because everyone agrees to place this value upon them. And so on.

You can see where I'm leading. The other world illusion, the other thing that exists simply because everyone agrees to place a certain value on it, is love. Now you may call me a jaundiced observer, but that's my conclusion . And I've been pretty close up to it. I've had my nose rubbed in love, thank you very much. I've put my nose as close against as I put my nose to the screen when I'm talking it over with money.

And it seems to me there are parallels to be drawn. Love is only what people agree exists, what they agree to put a notional value on. Nowadays it's prized as a commodity by almost everyone. Only not by me. If you ask me, I think love is trading artificially high. One of these days, the bottom is going to fall out of love.

Stuart in "Talking It Over" by Julian Barnes.

I know it's penny ante stuff, but sometimes grinding through to "inbox zero" and dealing with every issue (including some mild anxiety invoking ones, like, oh I should set up a BABAM gig for this despite the risk we won't get a quorum of people to sign up and have to cancel) feels like an act of courage. Feels good on the other side of it though. And for those fraught band gigs, well, there will always be more chances anyway (unfortunately) and there's still a solid core there.
New Weapon Designed By Russian Inventor Demonstrating Of Destroying US, Israel and Russian Tanks:

See also gyroscope buses and firefighting and the drive-through supermarket of the future.

Oh and Optimus Prime meets a $30 Drone...
I've posted it before, but Sylvan Esso's "Coffee" came up on shuffle and man, the song and the video is just so heartrendingly evocative.
The audiobook life is tough for a guy who digs grabbing quotes for his "commonplace book" journal. Anyway, I made a note to follow up on Julian Barnes' discussion of Edmund Wilson and his tumultuous marriage to Margaret Canby - I found the relevant passage here. (Also some more information on Wilson)
Some puzzle game UI study on my devblog...

October 25, 2016

Happiness is a skill. Skills must be learned.
Matthieu Ricard

Happiness is a skill. But cookies come pre-packaged as cookie dough in various flavors with easy-to-follow instructions.
Elio Maggini

October 25, 2015

The pumkins from last night's rendition Sarah's annual jack-o-lantern party... mine is second from the left, a kind of lame "Deal with Sunglasses" face with subtle vampire teeth

Even though I haven't had a sleepless night since assembling the philosophies that form the skeleton of "So, You're Going to Die", bedtime still seems a fertile time for that "oh man, death is weird!" passing thought. The other day, I had a weird sleepy thought of -- maybe I can view death as some kind of reward? Like, it's a definite and important part of the human experience, and something I'll definitely have the honor of experiencing for my myself. Yes, like everyone I wish I had more choice about when it happens (and the aging that will likely happen before it) but you know, it's something I get to find out about.

October 25, 2014

I wish English had more of these!

October 25, 2013

"Fasted" yesterday, keeping to under 600 calories for the day.
It wasn't too awful, though I could kind of feel my body panicking a little.
Today I get to enjoy a 2+ lb drop, though that's pretty common to any early days of a diet.
Could not keep that stupid (and inaccurate) line about "why do they call them fasts when they seem to go so slow?" out of my head.
It's common to make facile "just so" stories about why diets might be effective, usually with insufficient scientific backing, but still I like the "just so" story I made/heard for this one: the inner hunter-gatherer experiences a majority of decent days, 5 out of 7, so it doesn't switch the body into "starvation", grab-every-calorie mode. But every day is not as bountiful, so the urge to lay on the excess in the warehouse as fat is less as well-- those calories are apparently needed by the metabolism here and now, for this odd strong minority of bad hunting/gathering days.
I also learned that (some?) Mormons fast monthly, and are encouraged to give the money not spent on food to charity. The Mormon I learned this from says he often feels really alert and focused on Fasting days. This ties in well with that "Just So" story, the body hunter-gatherer thinks it has to up its game for that day.
Figure drawing class last night. Y'know, the pose the model strikes really influences how much I like the result. I suppose the subjective attractiveness of the model does as well, though I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit that. I like the way I got the line of the calf in the first one.

How To Build a Happier Brain A new book on how are brains are a bit wired for negativity, but there's hope...

October 25, 2012

realistic popeye -- more here

--Protestors at a Right Wing anti-Gay Rally in France

"The world needs more dreamers, Luke. Never stop licking things."
--Phil Dunphy, "Modern Family"

rip john mccarthy

October 25, 2011

via. RIP John McCarthy The father of Lisp and AI.
http://www.sea-monkey.com/ -- "The first story ever about "the sea-monkey farm"" is just a dumb kids book, sans sea-monkeys. What a rip.
http://jordanmechner.com/ the original Prince of Persia game journals have got me using PaperDesk, super nifty iPad text/image game journaling/rambling/doodling.

I remember wanting the functionality of PaperDesk as my "dream app" for Palm, but I haven't used it much since I bought it.

audi ar ar

October 25, 2010

--from Jalopnil's study of automaker logo evolution... I think mostly I dig the "Wanderer" logo. Some of the other ones are cool too, like Volswagen's...

http://www.slate.com/id/2271825/ - wow... so all Republicans have to do is screw things up bad enough that Democrats don't have time to fix it, and they can keep getting elected. Nice.
""Hey, have you ever noticed poop? And what's up with pee! Am I right?"...
Being a stand up for four year olds? Pretty easy."


October 25, 2009


(1 comment)
October 25, 2008
btw, what's up with this whole bloomberg/city council thing? "hey guys, what do you say we let ourselves run for a 3rd term?" "OK!"
I feel a Jack-O-Lantern should use a pumpkin AS a head... when it is used as a general carving canvas, some kind of magic is lost.

thursday needs more thor

October 25, 2007
The other day I was looking up some photos for my composition class... (specifically my most recent bug picture) I had remembered it as happening "long ago" but it was from a week into September, and I was browsing the summer months to find it I was gratified to see how long ago events in June and July seem. It was a nice antidote to my sense of "man, late October already?"

It's an easy tangent from that to the attitude of Dunbar in Catch-22, where he would seek out boring activities and unpleasant people in order to prolong his subjective life.

Err, not that I'm saying Evil B and co. are unpleasant. Or even that most of the Rockport activities are boring. But I do wonder if there's a knack to finding the right tasks, a correlation between not being self-indulgent and the perceived rate of the passing of time.

Exchange of the Moment
"Dude, the Matrix trilogy is like the original Star Wars trilogy for my generation."
"Whatever, man. Dude, you're, like, 38. The original Star Wars trilogy is the Star Wars trilogy of your generation."
"Fuck you."

gaiden of eden

(1 comment)
October 25, 2006
Yesterday chatting with FoSO we got into the concept of Gaiden, or "Side Story".

A lot of geeks my age were first introduced to the term from the old NES game "Ninja Gaiden"... though I'm not sure what the main story is supposed to have been in that case.

Sometimes I think my story is a bit of a Gaiden for someone else's bigger story, but I'm not sure whom. And I guess this isn't a new feeling, I jsut tracked down this loveblender essay from 1997 about "Henry and June" and "Backbeat"...
What struck me about both films was the accomplishments of the 'supporting characters'. Both works end with texts going over the lives of the people portrayed. Anais' husband Hugo, portrayed as a loving but stifled banker, was an experimental film maker whose films are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Klaus Voormann, who loses his 'soulsibling' Astrid to the loose-cannon artistry of Stuart Sutcliffe, went on to create the cover to The Beatles' Revolver album (OK, not my favorite piece of album art, but still...) and played Bass in Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. To me, these ending texts are really the saga of the other men, the ones whose loves might've been the ones immortalized in film decades after the fact, if only fate had been different.
Of course, the most annoying thing is...I haven't even had an interesting enough life to sustain a Wikipedia entry. (In fact, my one appearance in one, a description and link to JoustPong in the entry for Joust keeps getting removed, "Wikipedia is not a collection of links" blah blah blah) much less answer Jim Morrison raising the bar to "enough to base a movie on."

Feelgood Story of the Moment
Wow, I had no idea that Scott "Dilbert" Adams had lost his voice, but the story of how he got it back sounds like a miracle. The condition, "Spasmodic Dysphonia", sounds really crazy, like the brain just breaks in this subtle and strange way:
The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that speech is processed in different parts of the brain depending on the context. So people with this problem can often sing but they can't talk. In my case I could do my normal professional speaking to large crowds but I could barely whisper and grunt off stage. [...] So at least until the fall speaking season ended, I chose to maximize my onstage voice at the expense of being able to speak in person.
I don't think it quite worked this way, but for some reason I had this image of him using his "onstage voice" while talking to people in casual settings, turning him into his own "LOUD HOWARD" Dilbert Character:

people place things

(1 comment)
October 25, 2005
photobook iii: people, places, things.
















I finally finished photobook iii and added it to my photobook page. It's divided by theme: 8 galleries of people, 4 of places, 4 of things. I aimed to be more selective than a "typical" photo albums, mostly focusing on photos that are visually interesting, with only a smallish percentage of ones in there just for nostalgiac purposes. Let me know which ones you think are good! It's been too quiet around here lately.

Funny of the Moment
Moderator: We're here today to debate the hot new topic, evolution versus Intelligent Des---

(Scientist pulls out baseball bat.)

Moderator: Hey, what are you doing?

(Scientist breaks Intelligent Design advocate's kneecap.)


Scientist: Perhaps it only appears that I broke your kneecap. Certainly, all the evidence points to the hypothesis I broke your kneecap. For example, your kneecap is broken; it appears to be a fresh wound; and I am holding a baseball bat, which is spattered with your blood. However, a mere preponderance of evidence doesn't mean anything. Perhaps your kneecap was designed that way. Certainly, there are some features of the current situation that are inexplicable according to the "naturalistic" explanation you have just advanced, such as the exact contours of the excruciating pain that you are experiencing right now.

Intelligent Design advocate: AAAAH! THE PAIN!

The Abstract Factory...it goes on for another 4 or 5 exchanges. Funny stuff, nice to envision the scientist finally getting fed up with playing nice and by the rules with people who clearly have their own agendas they're trying to jam down people's throat the back way. At the risk of mixing a metaphor or two. (Thanks morecake!)

Passing of the Moment
Oh...and of course, RIP Rosa Parks.

You know, seperate "white" and "black" sections were bad enough...having the "white" section in the front and the "black" section in back was horrendous. But worse than those, it's not like they were even differentiated...when the white section "needed" to grow, the black section had to shrink. That's just horrendous in at least 8 different ways.


October 25, 2004
Video of the Moment
This video suggests that cats don't like Zero-G. Maybe borderline cruel, but I don't think it does any lasting damage...(via BoingBoing.net)

Article of the Moment
I know its been making the rounds already, but Wired had good coverage of the Mouse Neurons flying a virtual plane. I wonder what kind of feedback the the neurons are getting? It looks like right now the pseudobrain doesn't even know where the horizon is...and how do you motivate a bunch of neurons to "want" to fly straight and level, to select for that behavior over just random chaotic flying?

Ramble of the Moment
So I've been taking a yoga class for about a year and a half now, one run by my regular physician, which is actually pretty cool, and worth the hike into Wellesley on a weekly basis. I don't followup the class with practice during the week, except for some sun salutations, but still, it's been pretty good.

Last week I started going to an additional class run by some folks at my UU Church. It's not quite as intense, but in a positive way it talks more than my other class, and gets more into the spiritual implications of yoga.

So for the first lesson, they went over some of the history of yoga...probably the most important text was written by a guy named Patanjali around 2000 years ago, the Yoga Sutra. It describes the "eightfold path of yoga"...one of those parts (actually, one of the part of those parts) is "Santosha", which means contentment. The handout from the class described it as "To practice contentment with your life as it is." and said its practice is "Gratitude and joyfulness, develop equanimity around success or failure".

Now, I think of myself as a content guy in general--sometimes too content, in fact, a little too quick to adapt myself to my surroundings than to work to improve the situation of myself and others. But Equanimity Around Success or Failure...man, I am lousy at that. I wrote about that this summer, actually. I get so uptight when I lose at a game, so concerned and whiny when I'm losing, so ready to redefine the game so it doesn't matter. Even when the stakes are so low as to be wellnigh non-existent...well, sometimes. If I'm playing, say, a newbie at a game I know well, I often won't play as hard as I can. At least for a while. At least until I start to regularly lose! And while I like to win and get irritated when I don't, I also dislike when, say, EvilB comes up with some relentless strategy that's within the rules but seems like so much less fun for everyone...

So where does it come from? Well, some of it is this weird ego thing I have, where I don't want to be reminded that I'm not always the smartest guy in the room. Another part is the culture...as is pretty obvious with this town's joy at the Pats and Sox, our social darwinian cultural puts a big stake into winning. It's a very bipolar view of the world, there's winning, there's losing, if you enjoy the game hardly enters into it. Ashleigh Brilliant said "If you can't learn to do it well, learn to enjoy doing it badly" but, as a culture, we're not very good at that...

Anyway, just some thoughts. I don't think I'm going to become a full practioner of yoga, but I think there's a lot in the eightfold path that makes a ton of sense. It might be worth printing out and trying to adapt into day to day life...

memory's a traitor

(1 comment)
October 25, 2003
Might not be such a big update day. Peterman and Leslee invited Mo and I over for a yummy brunch of big pineapple slices plus french toast and bananas foster. Also some melon that I thought tasted oddly like bologna. But hey. Anyway, I ended up spending most of the day with them so that threw off my typical update schedule.

Quote of the Moment
If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (via Ross)

sick world

October 25, 2002
Quote of the Moment
It's a sick world out there, and that's why we don't live out there.
Garrison Keillor

ASCII Art of the Moment
     __(.)=   __(.)=
     \___)    \___)    
 =(.)__   =(.)__   >(.)__
  (___/    (___/    (___/
(I really like these ducks)

Online Toy of the Moment
It is a sick world. And this online toy Mr. Rogers Out of Context is so very evil. But also funny.

Mr. Rogers is a little under-rated. He's very geared to appeal to a certain age group, I think around 5 or so, doing things that kids that age want and need; the repetition, the quiet reassurance. And, as a normal rite of passage, it becomes very cool to make fun of Mr. Rogers. The thing is, I think most people still slightly carry the anti-Rogers-attitude, seeing him only as a campy figure to make fun of, not thinking about what he really offers kids.

Research Links of the Moment
The Uncanny Valley is a scientific study on how people react to robots...the main take away seems to be that there's a certain stage of "cyber-realism", right before resemblance to "real human" is complete, that people react very negatively to. I think this has some implications for modern videogames, modern games with realistic characters might be starting to approach that valley. Maybe that's why some game makers are going the other direction, most notably Miyamoto's change of style for the new "Zelda" game.

Also, a slashdot piece that says 'Tetris is Hard'...difficult in a formal mathematical sense even. That surprises me, I had always assumed there was a near 'perfect strategy' that I was just too dense to apply.

Perl of the Moment
This beautiful line of Perl code:
$line =~ s/([^\t]*)\t/$1." "x(8-length($1)%8)/ge;
replaces tabs with the appropriate number of spaces, respecting the tab stops. Its author Phiroze Parakh rocks, and Google Groups knows it.

stop thief

October 25, 2001
Stange. Yesterday on Rt. 3/3A, John and I were stopped at a redlight (he was driving) when a guy driving a big brown van wanted to know if we wanted to buy some speakers. Well, as I had intuited and John had heard about, it's a scam. It was a little different than what the link describes in our case, since the van was marked with a (bogus?) company name, "AudioJam" instead of being plain white. (I guess they figured a plain white van was triggering suspicion, and wasn't more difficult to trace than a made-up company.)

Letter of the Moment
Mr. Henry Ford
Detroit, Mich.
Dear Sir:

While I still have got breath in my lungs I will tell you what a dandy car you make. I have drove Fords exclusively when I could get away with one. For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got every other car skinned, and even if my business hasent been strickly legal it don't hurt enything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V8.

Yours truly
Clyde Champion Barrow

of "Bonnie and Clyde" fame, from this page at snopes.com.
Snopes.com is a great place to research urban myths, it's generally up to date, and can help you from looking gullible. It's also a very interesting read.

Felt kind of anxious this weekend, a feeling of something left undone. Not sure why- I had a pretty productive weekend. Maybe I'm getting concerned about my ability to slack?  Also, I'm going through a phase where I'm less gung-ho about the KHftCEA. It used to seem cool, and act as an important archive, now it's mostly just the important archive.
I enjoy reading the headlines visible in the newspaper dispensers in the morning, though I rarely buy being able to get my news online.
Interesting, right after I bought the store I was invited to a large gathering of people.  When I was introduced around, everyone talked to me.  When I used to be in the hat business, no one talked to me.  *My comment on that is, no one talks to a hat salesman;  everyone talks to a porn shop merchant.*  I'm 67 and I am learning new things almost every day.  Some of them I would rather not know, but it goes with the territory.
--Paul Z [emphasis added]

"Carpe Daemon - Seize the Background Process"
          --Paul Tomblin
Relationships + Geography- the closer we are the farther we grow
Cleveland Indians bring on a seventh game in the World Series.  There may yet be joy in Mudville. I'm checking the extended weather forecast for Hell.
Still getting a kick out of the pilot.  For something that's the size of a small notebook it packs a lot of fun.
We're losing daylight savings time tonight.  That sucks.

Hmmm.  Maybe it would be useful to live in a state of denial, push my schedule an hour earlier.
Sun sets tomorrow at 4:45.  Fuck it all.