November 12, 2016
Nice moon view...
But imagine if marriage didn't exist- and you're a guy, and you ask a woman to get married. Imagine what that conversation would be like. You'd be like:
'Hey, so, y'know, we been hanging out together, spending a lot of time together and everything--"
'Ya ya, I know!'
'I wanna keep doin' that 'til your DEAD.'
'I wanna keep hangin' out with you 'til one of use DIES. Put this ring on your finger so people know we have an arrangement.'
'Wha- Wha--- Who's that guy?'
'It's a priest. I want you to swear to God you won't back out of this deal.'
'Wha- What's he wheeling in?'
'It's a cake with two tiny dolls that look like us. EAT A SLICE... now feed a little bit to me [CHOMP]'
'Uh-h-uh this is really strange, why are we doing this?'
-Aziz Ansari, from his special "Buried Alive" (I posted it last year.)
Sometimes I think I'm weirdly boolean in my thinking. A friend posts about a week being "frustratingly annoying" (and yet only Monday) and you know, rather than assuming a reasonable "sub-optimal, but readily survivable and there will be better weeks ahead" somehow I go 0-100 and figure things are gloom and doom and terrible. It's hard to grasp how many shades of gray (we need to not give up that phrase despite unfortunate literary reference) there are just in what things ARE.
Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. And every Designed Thing is a compromise in competing priorities - I mean, it's not all relative, some designs and ideas are better on so many important fronts that it would be silly to not think of them as objectively "better overall", but sometimes - not so much.
This comes up in programming. Its sometimes difficult for me to have enough faith in a given toolkit to accept not knowing it 100%, just enough to get by. It's a knack. There are some lousy programmers who are always content with the 10% knowledge, but the quest for knowing ALL about something before you can use it is hopeless.
I imagine parenting would have some of the same pitfalls, at even greater stakes. (1 comment)
Comedy, or anything, is so good when it reframes something mundane and points out its essential weirdness:
North America in 11 Nations - I was kind of proud this came from Tufts alumni magazine; I think the subnation breakdown is a useful way of understanding the deep demographic divides of this place.
Whenever someone tells me "Mac 'just works'" I'll think back to trying to open an iMovie project on a different mac. It's like 1994 called and they want their "The document could not be opened, because the application program that created it could not be found" back.
such a lovely autumn night- I removed my shoes and socks to feel the cool grass of the park underfoot on my way home
November 12, 2011
The Circle K in Wilmot NH - home of "The Beer (K)ave"... (8 comments)
November 12, 2010
Ever rediscover a half-remembered book from your childhood and realize that it was probably wildly influential on you? Such was the case with David L. Heller and John F. Johnson's "Dr. C. Wacko Presents: Atari BASIC & The Whiz-Bang Miracle Machine". I recently found a good PDF copy at Atari Mania's Page of Atari 8-bit Books
The book was a beginner-level but thorough guide to BASIC programming - I suspect I knew most of it by the time I got my hands on a copy, but it was still very cool. The style can perhaps best be described as "Early Doctor Demento" -- hardly a paragraph goes by without a gag of some kind, but still it seems like it would do a good job of explaining fundamental concepts. I can even see the book's influence in my own guide to Atari (2600) Programming, Atari 2600 101. (No cartoons, more's the pity.)
I was reminded of this book when I ordered some Eggs Benedict, and I thought about this chart in it:
|Anchovy Burritos:||280 Calories each|
|Twinkle Cakes:||340 Calories a look|
|Guacamole Juice:||90 Calories per slurp|
|Clam Dip:||70 Calories a dip|
|Greaso Burgers:||470 Calories per bun|
|Quicko TV Dinner:||400 Calories a tray|
|Pizza a la Hollandaise Sauce:||900 Calories a sniff|
I think that for years that was my main image of Hollandaise, some kind of insane calorie vortex. (I guess I forgot how the other foods needed only a glance...)
Atari Mania also finally let me read the book's -- prequel? It was much more advanced, but came first-- companion, "Dr. C. Wacko's Miracle Guide to Designing and Programming Atari Computer Arcade Games". I'd like to think if I had had this book at the appropriate time, I finally would have gotten those damn "player/missile" graphics and in general made some better games.
My therapist just tagged me on shoppybag.com w/ a "Designer Inspired Gold Heart Charm Toggle Bracelet Links Of Love" (+4 other folk, but hm) (8 comments)
November 12, 2009
--it has a happy(ish) ending! I wonder about those red boxes on the video, some security system that figures out where people are?
It's fun to think about alternative universes, where what "might've been" is what is. Also fun: remember then that THIS universe is someone's alternative.
http://www.slate.com/id/2235357/ - heh, Y2K, a look back. Man, 11 years ago I was pretty uptight!
If I wasn't so neurotic I could write "yes, that Wed. is when my mom arrives" not "yes, that Wed. is what I wrote down for my mom's arrival" Heaven For-f'in-fend that I EVER be the bearer of misinformation! Is it a weasel-y way of being scared of being caught out, or a somewhat noble regard for the strict accuracy?
From a Zen perspective, can one be "free of ego" but also "take pride in ones work"? Seems like diligence is tough without the latter.
I'd love a program to replace all my iTunes album art with random Flick'r images. (And then put the cover art back when I realize this is a bad idea. Still the image/song synchronicity in the meantime might be cool.)
"Shake=Undo" must be the worst iPhone gesture ever. It's so designer-cutesy but useless-can't control how much is undone- and easy to "oops" (2 comments)
November 12, 2008
I assembled the November Blender of Love last night. The "feature" was young astronauts in love. At the risk of seeming a huge egotist, I made up a new "director's commentary version".
I realize that this level of analysis isn't really justified by the quality of the work, or other people's interest in it. In part it's a cross-reference for my future self, reminding me some of the whys and wherefores, and where Jake's story is an echo of my own, but I hope there's a small chance someone else might find the notes on the process interesting.
Law of the Moment
A program should follow the 'Law of Least Astonishment'. What is this law? It is simply that the program should always respond to the user in the way that astonishes him least.
--The Tao of Programming. Despite the whimsy of the title, the advice in it can be taken semi-seriously.
I'm actually accumulating a pile of what I'm terming "Guess What I Mean" (GWIM, a play on Do What I Mean).
The cornerstone of bad GWIM is that it too often takes a perfectly innocuous bit of minor user input and turns it into action which might totally take the user by surprise. Some of my least favorite examples:
- Many Wikis assume anything words in CamelCase (i.e. ThingsLikeThis) should be turned into links-- unfortunately, Java and other languages tend to use CamelCase all the time. You can disable this "feature" and save yourself from looking at all these broken links, but it seems especially annoying because the link syntax, [[SomethingLikeThis]], is pretty easy to type, so the autolinking is kind of pointless.
- So HTML uses & as marker for special characters, like how © becomes ©. Unfortunately, & is also used in URLs, like those embedded in the link. One time I had a URL that said §ion=foo... the §ion became §ion, even though there was no ; there. Just the computer being "helpful".
- Touchpads with "tap to click" drive me nuts, because it's easy to make a tap when putting your finger down. Or computers where putting the mouse in a certain corner does something (like OSX, where it wipes all the windows off the screen-- "so let me just move the mouse outta the way h--GAH!!!! WHERE DID EVERYTHING GO?").
Video of the Moment
--Great fun with the new James Bond movie. Via felisdemens. Warning: contains the phrase "man tits".
NPR news has national news, then a space that's either the local affiliate or "secondary" nat'l news. Sometimes I wonder about the latter.
Took a weirdly large amount of focus to clear off this cluttered desktop-ish space in my apartment, partially 'cause no easy place for stuff
Enjoying Scott "Dilbert" Adams' "Monkey Brain" book, even if it's just blogposts. Not too quotable; his setups run the length of the essays
What would a caveman think of music? Start with live music, and then really blow his mind with a walkman. (iPod still kind of blows my mind)
There are far too few things in my life that can fairly be described as "funky fresh". (2 comments)
November 12, 2007
Thanks go out to the veterans today. Wish we lived in a world where we didn't have a need to ask so much from you...
Other thoughts: I had to enjoy Indy's humiliating, 6-INT loss to the San Diego Chargers, especially because it made both teams look really bad. I was watching that while doing the comic below...
Finally I decided to participate in OLPC (one laptop per child's) Give One/Get One project. They probably aren't encouraging geeks to get one to tool around with, for risk of creating an unfortunate secondary market, but they realize it's well-nigh unavoidable. It's supposed to go for a child in your life, and I guess they have to let "inner children" count. It looks like a cool little platform, I don't know if will live up to what a $400 PC laptop could do, but it might (or might not) be a decent spare browser. We'll see.
Comic Page of the Moment
My Page 10 for Sketchbook Conspiracy's Less Filling Comic Jam. (You can see my thoughts about my previous page here.)
It's interesting comparing my experience doing comic pages vs. my photography composition class. In my interestingness-tinted lenses, I'd have to say comics might have more potential for me as an expressive form... you have so many options when you do a comic in terms of layout, pacing, dialog, design, etc, whereas my experience with photography is trying to make an optimal shot of something from real life, even if there's some staging involved.
November 12, 2006
There's nothing more pathetic than a battery powered clock that doesn't have quite enough juice... the second hand just tries, tries, tries but can't make it, and so time itselfs can seem to be a little stuck.
Comic Analysis of the Moment
|--The Silent Penultimate Panel Watch keeps track of use and abuse of that old comic standby, the silent frame before the punchline. Is it THAT wrong?|
November 12, 2005
Veterans Day Thought of the Moment
A while back I took this photo of a car in Salem...the sign says Tarawa 1943, "We Kicked Their Ass"...the license plate had a similar theme. I admit my first reaction was kind of snarky...the bellicose tone about a very old battle, the use of "there" for "their" in one instance.
But, it was enough to make me wonder about "Tarawa", and do a little web research. To say it was a terrible battle is an understatement...it was truly hellish, a brutal, chaotic amphibous landing by the Second Marine Division after a huge amount of naval bombardment over razor-like coral and heavy defences. (The bombardment proved to be less effective than it looked.) The Marines lost
Yesterday, Veterans Day, the Vet was standing on the same corner as this photo, holding a poster about Tarawa (complete with the ass-kicking slogan) with some people honking their support and thanks. I decided I'd like to double back and talk with him, and I'm glad I did. Oddly, I neglected to ask his name, but he was happy to chat a bit. He mentioned that he fought with Eddie Albert of "Green Acres" fame (who was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions there.) He noted (with a hint of bitterness, I thought) that despite the huge cost in securing the island the U.S. Military never did followup with the plan to use its airstrip during the war. He also said he'd been back to the beach, and you can see grenade pins on the ground to this day.
I expressed my thanks for chatting, and he thanked me as well.
Oddly enough, I kind of purposefully parked a bit over because I wasn't sure if he would object to my Japanese car, though going back to this photo I see he drives a Hyundai...not a Japanese brand, but still.
He reminded a bit of the Vonnegut novel, how some people can get "stuck in time"...he was only 17 when it happened, but maybe in someways its been a centerpoint of the rest of his life. In any event, his dedication to his fallen comrades is remarkable...I was grateful for the chance to learn more about Tarawa, as well as grateful for his willingness to put his life on the line when his country asked. (21 comments)
November 12, 2004
My laptop at work is amazingly bad. It's 2 1/2 years old, which isn't too awful, but there's something about Dell laptops, at least the ones running Windows 2000, that makes them get all clogged up...apps are always a little on the slow side, and startup and shutdown take a LOOOONG time.
And I don't even need a laptop for work...it's been nice a few times when I wanted to "work at home", and when I want to have a document at a meeting without printing it out, but overall, I have one because when I asked for a flatpanel in 2002 those screens were considered luxuries...so they gave me a much more expensive laptop instead, go figure.
So the laptop was sluggish but usable. Then they added some Symantec virus scanning, and now the thing is just silly. For some reason the system is setup to do a full deep scan daily. When the scan is going full out, the harddrive is whirring constantly and sometimes I can watch a newly visible application's window refresh, drawing in the window line...by line....by line....by line. The system runs like molasses. In January. On Pluto. During a coldsnap. My only recourse is to spend about 20 minutes or so shutting it down and then restarting...I can't kill the scan process directly...it's protected, 'cause killing it is exactly what you'd expect a virus to do, innit?
So there is of course a tremendous irony in a virus scan procedure doing more damage to my productivity than any virus has ever done. It's the computer equivalent of a neurotic who can't stop washing his hands...I get this image of the scan program running around frantically, hunting through every other nook, every cranny, and it would do this same deep frenetic searching every day if I let it.
Help is on the way, however. I'm getting a kick-butt new desktop PC either this week or next (and now flatpanels are standard here, not a luxury (in fact a lot of people use 2) so I'll be getting one of those too.) Even though the rate of relative PC speed increase has dropped a lot lately, it's a little odd thinking that this will probably be the fastest most powerful computer I've ever touched or used directly. (Or not....I can't remember if I've messed with much "big metal" servers that would blow even the most modern typical desktop away.) So that'll be nice. Maybe they'll let me keep my old laptop for a while, and I can let it do nothing but run its virus scan day in, day out, whirring happily and neurotically to itself and generally keeping busy.
Gripe of the Moment
Grrr...when did Apple start make QuickTime download == iTunes download?
November 12, 2003
Quote of the Moment
"One hand washes the other... And both hands wash the face."
--Art Carney, 1918-2003
Geek Link of the Moment
A link that is ubergeeky even by my geek standards, organizing your life via CVS. Not the pharmacy chain, that's "
I'm trying to find a reference to this one concept "file system of the future" (maybe by Ray Kurzweil?) that organizes your files in a giant timeline, where you have an at-a-glance-view of all the files you created (or modified?) at any given time. I think they picture it as recording even more than that. But my recent computer disaster have gotten me to think about a similar approach, that just for backup purposes, rather than having all my files in c:\data in a single "logical hierarchy", that it should be the same "logical hierarchy" repeated every year. Chronology is really central to how I think about all my myriad files.
Followup: Ranjit dropped a hint that led me to this Wired article on David Gelerntner's 'Lifestreams'. Actually, what he sniffingly and amusingly wrote was "I *think* it was David Gelerntner who 'invented' sort-by-date and says it's a revolutionary new system of organization", though reading the article I don't think he's giving it enough credit (though in 6 or so years since it hasn't set the world on fire.)
Passage of the Moment
So much for love's vertical axis. What about the horizontal, progress through time? Can love be measured chronologically? How do you measure the wild fluctuations lovers go through in minutes ('I hate you', 'I adore you'), let alone hours, days, weeks and months. Is there a line at all? In retrospect, remembered at a safe distance, love appears as a series of squiggles and dots -- vignettes, not a seamless narrative. Reflect on your own love-life and you'll see. A phrase, a hand, a birthmark, the beads of shower-water on her shoulder, the ferns we lay in as hikers passed along the fell-path, that day at the swimming pool, the amber slash in her left eye, the taste of her sweat, the tremor running under her skin just afterwards, the way she always eats the apple core, her laughter, her hair clogging the sink, her mispronunciations, the color of Lake Louise as we stood gazing down, the evening she'll say the thing I've been wanting her to say, a hotel room in Stockholm, her right breast cupped in my palm as I sleep behind her nape, the secret night away we've been promising ourselves, paella and wine on the empty terrace restaurant, me washing her sleeping bag in the sea after she got sick from eating shrimps, that funny tooth, that dress, that other dress, the model in the Scottish Widows advert, my hand between her legs as she drove the car, the photo ofher leaving the beach at Vai, the sudden thought (while out jogging) of the men she had before, that raffia bag she carried, the cards she sends, the e-mails, the phone call I'm still waiting for, the bump of her ankle, the curve of her leg, the shape of her mind. Love persists as an idea, the current under all we do, but these, the ways we remember love (or register it now, or anticipate it happening in the future), the palpable signs, have a separate existence. The in-love bits are just that: bits. Without them there'd be no line - no marriage, no children, no future. But on a graph the bits that matter don't show up.
--Blake Morrison, from "Things My Mother Never Told Me". S'funny, Mo has an amber slash in her eye...
November 12, 2002Quote and Link of the Moment
"You can be sincere and still be stupid."
--Charles F. Kettering. TJ Holland on the loveblender pointed out a site, brainyquotes.com. I wish they had a random feature like I have though.
Geek Article of the Moment
Wonderfully smart yet accessible article The Law of Leaky Abstractions. It explains how web pages and e-mail can reliably land on your doorstep, even though the underlying connections (hardware and software) may be flakey as heck, in very amusing terms. Also says that although we abstract things in programming and whatnot, trying to make difficult tasks doable with a couple of keypresses, that since you need to learn what's going on in the guts of the system anyway to deal with it when it breaks or doesn't perform as quick as you need, you have more to learn with Easy-to-Use systems, not less.
Wow. That really puts into words some of my problems with things like hard core J2EE, and why it's so hard to take advantage of all the bells and whistles it offers. I really hope "The Law of Leaky Abstractions" meme starts to spread... (1 comment)
November 12, 2001
Quote of the Moment
"That it's ok to be sad, and cry... and that's it ok when you finally stop crying, too."
--Julie Hill describing what her son had learned in dealing with his father's terminal illness, NPR's This American Life, Episode 188. (June 22, 2001...I'm listening to it now. It's worth seeking out, if you don't mind kind of moist eyes.)
Link of the Moment
Yogi Berra in the NY Times on the Yankees and why Losing Isn't a Loss. This guy is really wise, from his semi-scrutable Yogi-isms to his general attitude to life and the game he loves so well.
We are made up of the same sorts of autonama that invade us [viruses and bacteria] -- no halos of *Úlan vital* distinguish your antibodies from the antigens they combat; they simply belong to the club that is you, so they fight on your behalf.
--Daniel Dennett, "Darwin's Dangerous Idea"
The Panglossian pessimist says, "Isn't it a shame that this is, after all, the best of all possible worlds!" Imagine a beer comercial: as the sun sets over the mountains, one of the hunks lounging around the campfire intones, "It doesn't get any better than this!" -- at which point his beautiful companion burts into tears: "Oh no! Is that really true?" It wouldn't sell much beer.
--Daniel Dennett, "Darwin's Dangerous Idea"
"The Web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you've got millions of pals out there. Type in 'Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire' and the computer will say, 'Specify type of goat.'"
Beyond its role as a playground, beyond its use as a glossy brochure, beyond its imitation of traditional print media, the web is a gateway to specialty topic information that bridges chasms of geography and disinterest. It is timely in a way books in a library could never be, covering a wider range of sudject matter than the mass media ever does. The ability to trivially search for detailed information on any subject that comes to mind is wonderful- whether that subject is trivial or not.
Of course, that ability does depend on dedicated fandom. Luckily there seems to be no shortage of that- and the ability to cheaply publish is the other side of that information paradigm