July 28, 2016

Best Photos of 2007. Took a photography class this year, and had trips to Florida and Chicago.

Ksenia and I broke up at the end of the previous year, but we were still in each other's life a little bit.
From the Florida trip to visit John and Cordelia. Here he is doing a Hamlet with a coconut, I think.


EB enlisted me as cheap unskilled labor in refurbing a house. He was a big fan of coveralls. We enjoy the oddly "Beastie Boys" nature of this shot.


EB's baby (EBB)


I was on my belly at the Boston Public Garden for this shot. My buddy JZ said "I envy you". I thought he was being sarcastic, but know, he kind of admired having a hobby like that, with the Canon PowerShot always in my pocket.


At Six Flags. Love the soaring nature of this.


I was back in Chicago, for Michi and Jesse's wedding... pretty town!


Pretty Ariana, at the wedding. She's not usually quite so Nixon-ish.


EBB in the air.


https://blog.xkcd.com/2007/10/01/the-meetup/ - there was an xkcd meetup, inspired by the details of a specific comic, I attended with Rebekah and Derek. A beautiful gathering of nerdly types!


Ksenia modeled for me for a photography class I was taking, and we used a video projector to put images on her. She is an artist, and had an experience as an assitant at the Russian edition of Cosmo, so some cool images resulted.


Also for the class, self-portrait in security mirror at Alewife Station.

.
My Mom, Uncle, and Aunt at Thanksgiving at our cousins'



Amazing demos of how different camera lenses make the subject look much, much fatter.

I'm trying to figure out if there was any way college or something could have gotten me to my current awareness of how frickin' different people are.

I think a lot of people, as a short hand, kind of assume everyone is more or less like them. It's a bit of a working hypothesis we need for empathy?

But then... I dunno. Even apart from all the crazy amounts of partisan tribal bickering. Sometimes when I read about how badly people do on basic science questions, or fractions, say, it's just weird. Negative, sure - but just strange, too.

And I'm aware of how thinking about "basic science and math questions" as a rubric is kind of intensely OF my particular demographic.

And all this is just in my country, a culture I kind of sort of more or less understand. (Actually I should probably limit my claims to intra-culture, FWIW) That there are all these other nations and cultures, each presumably with their own intra-culture diversity, is even harder to wrap my head around.

July 27, 2016

Best Photos of 2006. Surprising jump in the ratio of things and places to portraits of people...

At the end of 2005 I took a new job with a small company called "Refresh Software" that had me travelling quite a bit - this photo is from Addison, TX. (I'll remember the name because the town's street signs proclaimed "Addison!", like it was a musical.)


I think this photo is from Georgetown, on another business trip, this one to DC.


Took a minibreak to NYC; here's the Guggenheim interior.


Ksenia at the Boston Museum of Science


Rainy day at work.


I think this is the first year I discovered going Kayaking on the Charles to see the fireworks... to this day I'm sort of bummed when a kayaking trip doesn't have a big spectacle at the end.


Beetle at work. Canons had good macro functions!


Flower in the garden of the Deerhill in Vermont


Went to the Aquarium before doing some whale watching... they had a great jellyfish exhibit (if scary, as these brainless geniuses are poised to take over the oceans as they warm up.)


I was a somewhat early adopter of car GPS; this photo is because this GPS model had a high-score like "Max Speed" feature - 2492 mph! Not bad for a little Scion xA... probably bad mileage though.


As the story went: My coworker Rob's son James sold this original art to his dad. The original asking price had been a dollar and ten cents. During the negotiations, dismayed at his dad's lowball offer of a quarter, young James pointed out "but look at all that action!". (The final agreed upon price was a dollar.) It is a lot of action!


With Jane in Portland Maine... amazing year-end long shadows there.


Mexican illustrator Mona Robles Reinvents Pokemons as 'Pokemayans':

Trump: Release the Tax Returns or Get Out of the Race

July 26, 2016

Best Photos of 2005, marking the halfway point of this project, years-wise.

It's been kind of therapeutic going going through years past this way; it's been a nice way of reviewing the past and lengthening my sense of the chronological space without being stuck there.


Not quite see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, but along those lines.


I started dating Ksenia in late 2004, at some point she was helping friends and relatives arrange flowers, I liked this photo.


At one point most of her family went skiing, and I stayed with her and her grandfather. During a blizzard. Snow was above my car's windows...


Alex and Tonya's wedding. I always liked the intimacy shown in this one.


EB vs Sponge Bob Pinata.


Coworker Noor enjoying my office toy Hulk Hands.


Ksenia and I hiked Monadnock - April was a bit early for the path we were taking with friends. Andy is in this photo as well.


Ksenia joined me on a work trip to Chicago.


We got kind of lost in Chicago, and were tired.


The Lynn shore. The light was kind of amazing.


Coworker prank - they used my hoody to make a "virtual me" when I was out with a hurt back. "Works on my machine" is such a great catchphrase for the developer.


Another winter, more snow shoveling.


2005 Bonus Images!
Ksenia and Me in the Chicago's Cloud Gate sculpture.


Another shot from that sunset at the Lynn shore.


Ksenia - same shore, different day. I love how the clouds mirrored on the sands looks about the same as in the sky.


Erin over an Alien Bill birthday cake


Getting political fatigue to the point of burn out.

Whichever side wins, it's not the end of the world, or the republic. We'll get shitty judges, lives (especially for vulnerable classes) will be made worse, we'll continue banking on some future geo-engineering crap rather than actually thinking about climate change, we'll be more at risk for authoritarian crap, we'll be a few ticks closer to nuclear armageddon. Trump will be Putin's man in the white house, etc.

Most of us will still muddle through in conditions that are the envy of 99% of the history of humanity. We'll be that much farther from our potential as a species, and in general being on the wrong side of history.

We've survived LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, GWB, Newt Gingrich.

Life would go on.

We can do better, and knock wood will with Hillary. It's frustrating that it all comes down to a few swing states. Even more frustrating that we've so clustered around two very different narratives of what it means to be a good, smart American.
Dilbert on Corporate Slogans like Make the world a better place
From 15 Twitter Jokes Everyone Should Read:

Young children are like sponges. They are the filthiest thing in your house.
--@RockabillyJay

I told a joke about a mandatory meeting once, you had to be there
--@le_buns

Any dog can be a guide dog if you don't care where you're going
--@matt___nelson

July 25, 2016

Best Photos of 2004... Mo and I part ways, I sell the house, publish my Atari game, and spend a lot of time with EB and Jane.


The pier at the Ocean Grove NJ boardwalk. I think the fishing house at the end had been rebuilt after the Blizzard of '96, and then got destroyed again during Hurricane Sandy.


I guess the last photo of Mo in "Best of" is this one of her at Home Depot, as we got the house ready for sale.


I released JoustPong at Philly Classic that year (note the custom T-Shirt, a giveaway with the first batch of carts) and shared the AtariAge booth with Howard Scott Warshaw - creator of the Atari game Yar's Revenge and, more infamously, the rushed version of "E.T." that "caused" the Great Video Crash of 1983.


For some reason I had to stop by Mo's new apartment at Davis, and we took turns doing portraits with her new fancy Rebel camera. I feel like this is one of my best pre-beard portraits of me.


EB helping me patch the crumbling concrete of the front stairs of the house. (Actually it's funny how much time I'd spend waiting for him at Home Depot, as he enlisted me as unskilled labor getting his new place into shape.)


My favorite Professor at Tufts, Alva Couch, speaking at some department alumni thing.


EB and I went through a phase of playing darts at Flat Top Johnny's where we met this pair. Nothing more than goofy half-flirting happened, I just find this photo amusing. (Also I was amazed that one time when EB+I inadvertently skipped the check at FTJ's, the staff immediately told us when we came in next time. I think my face blindness would be a handicap in that kind of job.)


EB and I on a tandem ride of the "Skycoaster" at Six Flags.


Jane outside of work - we'd go toss a football in the parking lot sometimes.


And Jane at a restaurant, near work. She was a big supportive help that year, though her advice to get me out of the big jeans I would wear all the time kept me in nothing but khakis for the better part of a decade.


I visited Mike in Cleveland, and for his birthday his friends subjected him to a kind of prank mystery car ride.


Cousins in motion at the Family Reunion.


BONUS!

Slate on The Hillary Haters. Saturday at a party I was showing around some old Spy-magazine covers about Hillary from the 90s (I remember 'Hillary as dominatrix in particular.) The endless dislike of her has a lot of roots in sexism, without a doubt.
I just finished "Don Quixote" for a second time (living out some old maxim that just as a piece of architecture should be viewed in the morning, mid-day, and dusk, so should this book be read as a young person, a middle-aged guy, and an old man.)

I read Edith Grossman's 2003 translation. Some highlights I made to record here:

The one passage I remember from my first reading is from Marcella's defense, as she's being accused of a shepherd's death because of her failure to return his love:

Heaven made me, as all of you say, so beautiful that you cannot resist my beauty and are compelled to love me, and because of the love you show me, you claim that I am obliged to love you in return. I know, with the natural understanding that God has given me, that everything beautiful is lovable, but I cannot grasp why, simply because it is loved, the thing loved for its beauty is obliged to love the one who loves it.

(In the same way I sometimes dig the KJV version of the bible, this translation is nicely old school.)
---
Another idea I saw cited in Jack Kerouac's "Dharma Bums" was "Comparisons are Odious":

'Stop right there, Señor Don Montesinos,' I said then. 'Your grace should recount this history in the proper manner, for you know that all comparisons are odious, and there is no reason to compare anyone to anyone else. The peerless Dulcinea of Toboso is who she is, and Señora Belerma is who she is, and who she was, and no more should be said about it.'

While here "Comparisons are Odious" mostly applies to people, I find it critical in my understanding of "Amor Fati", the love of one's fate; we spend so much effort comparing this world to all these other, slightly more pleasant alternative universes (just like this one, but I'm not stuck in traffic!, for instance) that it makes us miserable with very little return.
---
Harold Bloom's Introduction to the work mentions: It remained for La Rochefoucauld to restate the other side of the paradox: some people would never have loved if they had not heard of love.
---
The book cites verses from other source, such as Commander Escrivá's
Come, death, so secret,
so still I do not hear your approach,
so that the pleasure of dying
does not bring me back to life.


and there was also a reference (Sancho watched everything, and not one thing caused him sorrow) to
"Nero, on Tarpeian Rock, / watched as Rome went up in flames; / crying ancients, screaming infants, / and not one thing caused him sorrow."
---
Of course, much of the joy of the book are the proverbs and quotes, famously by Sancho but also Don Quixote himself:
  • too much wine cannot keep either a secret or a promise.
  • The ox who's free can lick where he pleases.'" (Grossman explains "A proverb that extols the joys of liberty.")
  • stultorum infinitus est numerus: "The number of fools is infinite."
  • Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it's bad luck for the pitcher
  • "I have always heard, Sancho, that doing good to the lowborn is throwing water into the sea."
---
At one point the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance says "Now you will see, said Agrajes" which Grossman footnotes "Agrajes, a character in Amadís of Gaul [One of the most established tales about knight errantry] would say these words before doing battle; it became a proverbial expression used at the beginning of a fight."
---
Some passages still resonate today:
  • "Be quiet," said Don Quixote. "Where have you ever seen or read that a knight errant has been brought before the law no matter how many homicides he may have committed?"
  • "In short," said Don Quixote, "it seems clear, Sancho, that you are a peasant, the kind who shouts, 'Long live whoever wins!'"
  • "Even so, I want you to know, brother Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "that there is no memory that time does not erase, no pain not ended by death."
---
I was interested in a view of the year that seems to put the year into five seasons, not four:
spring pursues summer, summer pursues estío, 1 estío pursues autumn, autumn pursues winter, and winter pursues spring, and in this way time turns around a continuous wheel;
---
Finally, I loved this rant:
"Oh, base, lowborn, wretched, rude, ignorant, foul-mouthed, ill-spoken, slanderous, insolent varlet! You have dared to speak such words in my presence and in the presence of these distinguished ladies, dared to fill your befuddled imagination with such vileness and effrontery? Leave my presence, unholy monster, repository of lies, stronghold of falsehoods, storehouse of deceits, inventor of iniquities, promulgator of insolence, enemy of the decorum owed to these royal persons. Go, do not appear before me under pain of my wrath!"

July 24, 2016

My Dozen Best Photos of 2003:


There was a little park and playground right across from our house in Waltham.


Yi, at my job in Salem.


Mo and her dad. Folder information suggests this is around her brother Dan's thesis concert.


We travelled to Europe that spring, in part to attend Veronika and Volker's wedding in Germany. The German guests thought I was being charmingly euphemistic when I told them Veronika and I "dated" in high school. Also I learned, don't try and keep up with German guests when there's free red wine being poured.


The kid of one of V+V's friends. I learned two things playing Pictionary (in English) with Germans: one, the German's view of Aladdin's Lamp is more upright, like a vase. Two, in English (or at least the UK flavor?) technically, a frown is an expression of the brows, not of the mouth.


We visited my mom who was working in London those years. I've always liked this shot of Mo on the London Eye, Europe's tallest ferris wheel.


Jane and Julia. Sometimes Jane and I felt like the only liberals at that place, it was a bit square.


The family reunion was in Belmont that year, here's a little soccer action.


An in-progress shot of my project for that year, JoustPong for the Atari 2600. I don't want to mix up cause and effect, but sometimes I wonder about if I had put as much focus on Mo's project of getting a house as I had on my own technical endeavor.


I do enjoy this shot from EB's wedding.


Halloween Pac-Danger, at the "Paper Source" near Porter.


Flapper Jane dancing at a masquerade ball Mo and I threw. Sometimes that feels like the last hurrah for me and her and that place and that time; she had realized her interests lay elsewhere.



BONUS: A few months later I made this composite shot of the park, and called it "Ghost of a Snowman"
Clay Shirky speaks to why I'm so appalled about Trump.