six seasons instead of four

November 9, 2019
One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn't feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on.

Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. November and December aren't winter. They're Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold!

What comes next? Not spring. 'Unlocking' comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They're Unlocking.

Kurt Vonnegut, 1978 commencement address at Fredonia State
Been thinking about this off-and-on ever since I saw it a week ago in kottke (who says Vermonters name for Locking is "Stick Season", after the foliage has gone, and Unlocking is "Mud Season", the byproduct of all that snow melt...) What a beautiful idea - Vonnegut was talking about Upstate NY but it applies to so much of the Northeast, where I've pretty much always lived...

One of the things I love about this is that it lines up the Seasons with the Calendar year! I've been doing stuff like "One Second Every Day" seasonally, and it irks me that Winter is December, January, February and so straddles the year boundary. (I always prefer the meteorological season reckoning to the overly-cerebral astronomical pattern...)

November 9, 2018

Heh, missed a day of updates.

November 9, 2017

You know, I would love to read a right-leaning "why do liberals love Obama so much?" article. I suspect there's an asymmetry in this kind of coverage, and that's why I'm glad I lean left the way I do, but there may be bias in my assumption that there isn't such an article, and in the implications if there's not.

dear cora

November 9, 2016
I've been writing my superniece Cora every time after we visit. I write in a little private online site, and then print them up annually-ish, and will give them to her when she's in her teens... 15 or 16 maybe? Old enough to be thoughtful, young enough that her course isn't set. They chart her development (as I've become more of a personal archivist, sometimes I wish I had a similar history for me- though my moms saving and then binding like EVERY school and church related paper she had saved from preschool through some of college comes very close), let me pontificate a bit, and feel a little self important where someone in the next generation might be interested in me if I write well enough.

In general I'll keep them private, of course, but tonight I felt like sharing.

November 8 2016

Dear Cora,

Hello from a weird time!

It's election night 2016.

Right now it could go either way, closer than expected. Probably won't go well.

If it goes for Trump- I dunno. It won't be great - it's such a bad message, about human rights, about who we are, about how a guy who just doesn't want to learn anything and is so full of himself can take the presidency, about how we have to wait for a first female president. But life will be ok, and I'm sad because so many of my friends have forgotten that. It has been such a rough campaign, really brutal. Trump has done and said so many ugly things. The other side really thinks Hillary is corrupt, but that's not fundamentally true; she's just a connected politician who has been the target of 40 years of Republican attacks. But overall, we'll get through. It'll be easier for me and my demographic, white, straight, reasonably comfortable, christian background; for gay people and people of color and moslems, they're not going to feel as welcome. Maybe things will happen to some of them (the supreme court will be borked up, and things for abortion rights are definitely under threat) or maybe not, but some of the worst of it is that the guy who might be winning did so in part saying it's ok to say the country should be white and facts are optional; his fans say we're the greatest nation on Earth and get mad if you decide to bow out during the National Anthem but then say "make America Great Again", like it's not.

I guess I gotta hope many of the liberal fears are overblown, but even that's kind of a bad sign, like how we just amp everything up and and demonize both sides.

I know your Mamas are wary of the legal status of families like yours. At a minimum I think Massachusetts will be ok, besides being a leader in gay marriage, and there being at least some push towards "state rights" in these things by conservatives. Other states might make harder time, but despite setbacks, the path is in the right direction about LGTBQ, and will keep going that way as older more conservative generations die out.

But I'm writing you now, on a night when I'm kind of scared. On top of everything my sweetie Melissa and I are going to Malaysia tomorrow for 2 weeks vacation... I was joking that it was to celebrate or flee the election, but I really wasn't expecting the latter. Should be an amazing trip anyway. Also I'm switching jobs, always a bit of a stressful thing even when all the signs look promising.

But I want you to know that things tend to work out ok - we get so scared, we think about things being somewhat worse than they are now and it just freaks us out. Some things we're just helpless to help, and we need to learn to accept those, but we can then take solace in how we can endure. Dreading is worse than living through.

A good quote:

"Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important."
--Natalie Goldberg

Lately I've been thinking about stress and anxiety; is it always bad? Does it get me to make wiser choices and work harder? Can I just be smart and calm and choose to do what I know is right? It's a toughie.

It's funny writing to you. I tell you stuff I don't know if I'd be ready to really grasp as a teenager myself. Of course maybe I'd think I was ready for it as a teen... and maybe I'd be right? Or not. I dunno. Sometimes I underestimate my teen self. Sometimes I feel like I've recently figured some stuff out, made great progress in thinking and feeling as a grownup, other times I worry I worked some stuff out before, like maybe in my 20s, and forgot about it. Sometimes I wish I was writing to you as a fellow forty year old! But by then, any advantage I can give you might've passed.

Ugh. So much trouble focusing this night. I've reread what I've written so far like five times. (Hanging with Melissa, watching random tv shows on "hulu", periodically look at news websites)

Alright. Anyway, had a nice afternoon with you and your Mamas last Saturday. Played blocks, made a stuffed snake and a turtle box from a monthly kit called "Koala Crate", had spaghetti and meatballs, did some fun tumblers and horsie rides- especially you and your Mama C. You're getting a little sassy here and there, talking back to teachers a bit (not entirely in a bad way), and after the end of Daylight Savings Time took an hour of light from our nights your Mama K posted: "mama the sun is asleep.It's not bedtime. WAKE UP SUN!" This should be an interesting season.

Your Mama K also posted this photo, and said This might be my favorite picture ever. Supergirl power pose. Fierce Cora.

Uncle Kirk

PS Quote I've been liking lately (pardon the cussing)

Tennessee Williams once wrote, "We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it." In a certain sense, the playwright was correct. Yes, but oh! What a view from that upstairs window! What Tennessee failed to mention was that if we look out of that window with an itchy curiosity and a passionate eye; with a generous spirit and a capacity for delight; and, yes, the language with which to support and enrich the things we see, then it DOESN'T MATTER that the house is burning down around us. It doesn't matter. Let the motherfucker blaze!
Tom Robbins

If this is the country that elected Donald Trump, it is still also the country that elected Obama.

Wait But Why's It's Going to be OK This is pretty good. I've been engaging with some trusted conservative friends, about the potential they see in Trump, and while there is a buttload to despise about him and what he says and what groups he's not rejected the support of and his lack of experience, our view of him has been bent to almost the same degree as us liberals and moderates think the view of Hillary has. I don't think he has great action plans for fixing what ails the rural / post-manufacturing areas, but he's making them a part of the conversation in a way they often aren't. Anyway, this article was the second best thing I've had to those conversations.

I'm really tired of the us and them of it all. We've made such villains of each other.

November 9, 2015

I play it cool
I dig all jive
That's the reason
I stay alive
My motto
As I live and learn
Is dig and be dug in return
Langston Hughes

There's this whole microscopic world we're so barely aware of, and that influences us in ways we're not even cognizant of. I really feel for germaphobes, because if you take apply a naive germs=bad view, it's a terrifying world.

November 9, 2014

There are no soul mates. Not in the traditional sense, at least. In my 20s someone told me that each person has not one but 30 soul mates walking the earth. ("Yes," said a colleague, when I informed him of this, "and I'm trying to sleep with all of them.") In fact, "soul mate" isn't a pre-existing condition. It's an earned title. They're made over time.

You will miss out on some near soul mates. This goes for friendships, too. There will be unforgettable people with whom you have shared an excellent evening or a few days. Now they live in Hong Kong, and you will never see them again. That's just how life is.


Forgive your exes, even the awful ones. They were just winging it, too.

November 9, 2013

The aggregate amount of time I spend undoing stupid fonts and formatting that piggybacked on text I copy and pasted into emails. Months?

November 9, 2012

"Thrift Shop" A bit NSFW and raucous, but funny:

Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness.
John Cage

the force is not so strong with this one

November 9, 2011

--Miller tweeted me this fun page of behind-the-scenes Star Wars photos, I'd only seen like 2 of them previously. I love both actors' expressed moods in this one.
Mobile Flash is dead. Yay-apps? HTML5? HTML5 is a funny catchphrase. It's mostly "canvas" but that would admit how bad sound support is...
There is no greater importance in all the world like knowing you are right and that the wave of the world is wrong, yet the wave crashes upon you.
Norman Mailer, Armies Of The Night
2019 UPDATE: could barely disagree more.
I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don't. It's the great mystery.
Steve Jobs

"1. Insert quarter.
2.Avoid Klingons."
Atari's "Star Trek" game -- allegedly.
Steve Jobs' bio says he dug the Zen like simplicity but I couldn't find reference to such a game... For-Play's Star Trek might be it? Or Atari's Starship 1, but that was later...

steve martin and gospel music for atheists

November 9, 2010

--"Atheists Don't Have No Songs"
You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in.
Arlo Guthrie

Just got a Macbook Air (for iOS coding). Annoying being a newbie again, it's been a while. (I don't think OSX is as good as Win7 frankly)

if you don't buy a trailer from me, it won't hurt my feelings

November 9, 2009

--Pretty Epic! This is by I Love Local Commercials. I also liked their band advertisement, though checking out their site, you kid of get the idea they might be hipster d-bags, but hey - still kind of amusing (also they did that weirdly anti-racist "Red House" ad that was making the rounds a while back... I guess I liked them more before i realized how many of the commercials they show up in as bad musical accompaniment. )

no love in an elevator

November 9, 2008
It's kind of ridiculously shallow-sounding , but I still get little moments of "jeez, this thing is SO FRICKIN' COOL" about my iPhone.

I've been thinking about the transition from Palm to iPhone. I found this post mentioning developers griping over the unit being "single tasking" for apps, like the old Palm was... I joined in with how the "home menu" with all the launcher icons was straight from Palm, with a number of small improvements.

The thing is just like the those computer screens and tricorders from Star Trek: The Next Generation (and did you realize there are whole websites devoted to making things look like LCARS, the name for that look-and-feel?) But I realize the form factor is straight out of Palm (most noticeably, the 3G with its curved back has very similar ergonomics to the Palm Z22 I was praising a year and half ago.) To me, especially with the big flat featureless screen, this thing is a PDA that happens to do phone stuff. Actually I think it looks a bit silly when you hold the whole flat thing to your head, but it gets the job done.

Video and Article of the Moment
Fair Warning: not for people edgey about elevators. Please keep in mind that if getting trapped like this were any thing like common, this wouldn't have been such big news:

--Time Lapse of a man, Nicholas White, stuck in an NYC elevator for 41 hours, and going a bit nuts. The accompanying New Yorker article is great, full of meaty layman-friendly engineering details, along with White's response.

Lena says her toddler's cuteness is all in the crease under his nose, she'll say "show me your cuteness" and he points- like any face part
Urban Omnivores are so removed from the origin of the meat they consume. Is it odd that roadkill just provokes revulsion and not hunger?
I have made crap that is better movies than this, in my own toilet
from Jimminy Glick in LaLaWood on the Gandhi Boxing Movie

Apparently every college a cappella group with famous alums feels the compulsion to edit that person's wikipedia page and mention the fact.
The Globe redid its Sunday Comics with the passing of "Opus". Dang it, I liked starting w/ Dilbert+Get Fuzzy, ending w/ Arlo+Janis and Zippy

scraping for new material

November 9, 2007
Oy, I'm in a hurry, and nothing's jumping out at me from the backlog, so here is a convo I found amusing despite a rather unseemly dependency on "gay" jokes.

K: but you know
K: a guy only has so much funny in him
K: 'specially before his coffee
J: is true... try tea.. that's where the majick starts
J: I hear gay men like tea.. thought that may have applied :-p
J: hmm I'm rude.. sorry
J: since clearly that's not true
K: Dude, you're the one talking about the "majick" of tea.
J: I realized that as well
K: That's like 2 steps away from rainbow toting unicorns

a great, big, ROARING flame

November 9, 2006
I have to admit, I'm getting some schadenfreude listening to right wing talk radio these days.

Of course, moderate-lefties are thinking "what TOOK you so long? Were you really that sanguine about Iraq back then?" And of course... "how the hell are the Democrats going to get out of the mess that's there now?" That's the downside for the Dems, now the cleanup is their responsibility.

Sometimes I wonder if having Iraq become three semi-autonomous regions, with careful oil profit-sharing, would be more tenable. Turkey would get pissed at this "Kurdistan-lite"... and there wouldn't be single foil against Iran, but that was kind of lost when we deposed Saddam anyway.

Video of the Moment

--The Tom and Jerry episode "Solid Serenade"! I've been thinking about this episode for YEARS, it's the one where Tom sings "Is You Is"... the Wikipedia page doesn't make it 100% clear if it's Louis Jordan singing or not, but I think it is.

I'm not much of a "furry", but wow, "Toodles" is pretty hot. And Jerry's apartment gets totally wrecked by the sheer power of that Bass. And it has that great "window on neck" gag. Overall it's a true classic of an episode.

Quote of the Moment
Ah, I love you. Ah, you set my soul on fire. It is not just a little spark. It is a flame... a big roaring flame. Ah, I can feel it now...
This line actually originated in "Zoot Cat" (followed by an obvious hot foot gag) but gets repeated in "Solid Serenade"
It's my favorite bit of seduction-parody ever, a good bad French accent really makes it.

5! = 1·2·3·4·5

November 9, 2005
Geek Snarkery of the Moment
A friend gave me a photocopy of a worksheet from a programmer job interview, the contents of which I'm transcribing here. I've tried to be reasonably fair; arguably I should could be generous and use * in place of ·, since this was handwritten, but given all the absolute conceptual failures and mental disconnects, I'm leaving it as is.

So the interview "challenge" was to write a factorial function. Now, I don't know exactly how well or poorly the problem was described by the interviewer, but given the first line, probably copied from a whiteboard, I'm assuming it was pretty straightforward. Here's what the sheet had on it...most of the strikes are circular scribble-outs:
5! = 1·2·3·4·5

public string access(string 5! a)
    string b = a.substring(0,1);
    Int int c = b String.getValue(b);
    if(c < 2){
    } else if (c < 3){
    } else if (c < 4){
I know that won't mean anything to non-geeks, but the layer on top of layer of sheer "Not Getting It" is a real jawdropper. (I went ahead and placed an attempt to list all (or at least most of) the problems as the first comment) For someone aspiring to a Java development position, and who must've sounded at least possibly decent on the phonescreen...supposedly the person has multiple masters degrees in science-y and computer-science-y fields, both from good local Universities.

In case you think I'm being unfair, here is a link to the actual handwritten response.

Dialog of the Moment
"Death needs time like a junkie needs junk."
"And what does Death need time for?"
"The answer is so simple. Death needs time for what it kills to grow in..."
William S. Burroughs
Via this Katrina-related BoingBoing piece.

Politics of the Moment
Fun if rude-n-crude rant about Bedtime for BonzoBush...he blew off a 2-hour lunch meeting because the night before the Argenentinian schedule pushed events past his bedtime. Poor pumpkin! What a loser we have for president, and I don't just mean the popular vote in 2000. Maybe it's a good thing Cheney's really the guy in charge, then.

axe the sax

November 9, 2004
Most overrated musical instrument: without a question, for me it has to be the saxophone.

First off is how corny the thing's origins are. While Adolphe Sax's motivations aren't clear...maybe he was worried about some weird clarinet "overblowing octaves" things, maybe he was just looking to let woodwind players make as much damn noise as the brass...the indisputable fact is he named the stupid things after himself. If I were to make a whole new instrument I hope I could come with a better name than "Kirkaphone". It's just self-aggrandizing egotism, is what it is. (And of course, the instrument always gets abbreviated to "playing sax". That's like saying you're "playing Jones" or what not.) And the guy's almost supernatural ability to tick off other instrument manufacturers made the instrument a pariah for years, and that's why it's not a part of classical music from the 1800s. Or maybe those composers just knew something that later music guys forgot.

Second off is just the playing of the Sax, especially for beginner players. I hate instruments with reeds, they're always cracking and the players are always running out, or having to work to keep 'em damp. Any instrument where you're supposed to keep part of it moist doesn't seem like a good instrument to me. Plus...well, I was a brass player, and I'm kind of grateful that the mouthpieces for those instruments are concave. Freudian symbolism aside, it's kind of nice to not be required to place part of the instrument IN your actual body. And speaking of beginning, no instrument sounds as bad in the hands of a novice as a sax can. That squeaking and squawking was the bane of my middle school Wind Ensemble years.

Then there's the music that is made with saxes. They say that the saxophone is one of the most expressive instruments, capable of providing a huge variety of moods and sounds and that's why the jazz guys dug it so much, why it's almost like the human voice almost and blah blah blah, but really, there's only two types that you run into: the brash, honking stuff, and the smooth, corners-free "Kenny G" crap. I guess the honking stuff is ok, I'm as amused by a good round of Yakety Sax as the next guy, but that Smooth Jazz crap is really the stuff that aesthetic crimes against humanity are made of.

And, finally, while on the topic of aesthetic crimes...why the hell is Saxophone the only instrument culturally linked to coolness that's not an electric guitar? They're right up there with "throw on a pair of sunglasses" in terms of hackneyed visual signifiers of "cool". Sometimes I can't believe that my political allegiance to Clinton survived him playing saxophone with sunglasses on on national television--for a guy so in touch with the Black community that he put his office in Harlem, he is as corny as all get out. Plus, the way saxophone players feel compelled to duck and bob around during any solos they might have, flapping their elbows like they're doing the funky, it's a nightmare. How they still manage to culturally read as "hip" is beyond me. Not to mention that retarded pun "Sax Appeal" that always seems to rear its ugly head.

Now, fair disclosure: my opinion might be biased by the bitterness of years of playing tuba. The only thing lower down on the cultural totem pole than the tuba players might be the accordionists. And yet, years after I stopped playing I had to confess that the reputation is not completely undeserved: they aren't a good sounding instrument by themselves. If you can hear a tuba do anything besides providing a general "bass" foundation, you're probably regretting it. Unless it's Dixieland. Dixieland is kind of fun. So maybe I'm jealous of all the attention the saxophones got, but still; Saxophones are completely, completely overrated.


November 9, 2003
PC died last night. Suspicously after Mo tried putting her mother's failed hard drive in...but it worked for hours after that, so maybe not.

Won't boot at all, just goes through WinXP's "Oops Couldn't Boot, do you want to choose safe mode, normal, or what" screen, tries to start for 10 seconds (putting up some list of file names) then resets and goes back to that Oops screen.

Ugh. If I can't get my data off that, I'm going to be a very sad man.

And no matter what happens, I will start backing up. I was halfway there already, everything I want to back up I keep in C:\data\ . But it was a big bulky directory with a lot of photos, and so I didn't get into the schedule of making backups the way I should've.


get your rocks off

November 9, 2002
Art of the Moment
When erotica and geology collide. Be sure to check out all 5 pages of the gallery.

Clip of the Moment
You might think you're good at Tetris. I doubt that you're 2001 Japanese Tetris championship good. Just look at the guy's hands! Crazy. I'm amazed I'm the same species.

World View of the Moment
CamWorld (not about WebCams) had a link to this Salon interview about how the rest of the world views the USA. Like our pop-culture, hate our politics, but most places have a more sophisticated view of us than we give them credit for. (In fact Hertsgaard contends that it's the Americans with the really over-simplified view.)

Sexiest Sentence Alive
My breast flipped inside out so my nipple touched my heart.
According to the scientific formula applied this webpage, that's the sexiest sentence alive.
The other entries are worth a glance through as well. (via Ranjit)

minus a muffler

November 9, 2001
Good Timing of the Moment
[Day after after a fender bender where the lady behind me decided the stop and go traffic should be more go than stop] "Yeah, it's so annoying with a car that's getting a little old. I mean, it's really tough to tell if that's a new sound going wrong, or just the same old stuff... [B-Pipe of exhaust disconnects on one end underneath car, resulting in various metallic scrapey sounds, as the engine gets loud since it's no longer connected to the muffler] ...I mean, it's so difficult to know..."
Me to John Sawers, Nov 7 2001.
Never had a car with such perfect comedy timing. $350 later and the car is ok. But I need some new tires in a bad way.

Link of the Moment
Everything2 trying to determine the single sickest joke ever... (PG13)

Quote of the Moment
The bottleneck is not in technology, it's in art.
Penn Jillete

When I'm good, I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.

It's not the men in your life who count.  It's the life in your men.

I feel like a million tonight, but one at a time.
          --Mae West
"I want to do to you what the spring does to cherry trees."
"I want to do to *you* what you do to chinese food."
I'll heal your wounds, I'll set you free
I'm Jesus Christ on ecstasy
          --Nine Inch Nails
And in the dawn, there came a song,
Of some sweet lady, singing in his ear,
Your God has gone, and from now on,
You'll have to learn to hate the things you fear.
I know:
You say love when you mean control.
          --Sam Phillips
...and when she looks up and asks you "what?" you say "nothing," when you really mean, "I love you."
Only Men can piss at heaven.
Ezekiel 23:19,20
A witty saying proves nothing.
Rebekah cut her hair very short. To my surprise I'm not crazy about it.   I've always recognized people by their hair-so maybe this could be the key to seeing her as a different person, one I'm not in love with.