kisrael.com | archive | 2004 apr

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(10) april one
2004.04.01
Man, April Fools just isn't the same post breakup. I mean, the old seran-wrap-on-the-toilet-seat just totally loses its charm when you're living by yourself.

News Read of the Moment
So CNN had this link Britain's Prince William 'upset' over picture with girl...I saw the picture they had on the page the link went to, and my first thought was 'Man, that is one ugly chick.'

Brag of the Moment
"One January morning, it was so all screwen cold that the forest trees were stiff and they couldn't shake, and the very daybreak froze fast as it was trying to dawn. … Well, arter I had walked about twenty miles up the Peak o' Day and Daybreak Hill I soon discovered what war the matter. The airth had actually friz fast on her axes, and couldn't turn round; the sun had got jammed between two cakes o' ice under the wheels, an' thar he had been shinin' an' workin' to get loose till he friz fast in his cold sweat. … I took a fresh twenty-pound bear off my back that I'd picked up on my road, and beat the animal agin the ice till the hot ile began to walk out on him at all sides. I then took an' held him over the airth's axes an' squeezed him till I'd thawed 'em loose, poured about a ton on't over the sun's gace, give the airth's cog-wheel one kick backward till I got the sun loose—whistled 'Push along, keep movin'!' an' in about fifteen seconds the airth gave a grunt, an' began movin'. The sun waked up beautiful, salutin' me with sich a wind o' gratitude that it made me sneeze. I lit my pipe by the blaze o' his top-knot, shouldered my bear, an' walked home, introducin' people to the fresh daylight with a piece of sunrise in my pocket."
--Davy Crockett, via a sidebar on this Slate.com piece on classic American archetypes.

Game of the Moment
Just in time for April First, it's Quake: the text adventure.

Thought of the Moment
So my Aunt got one of those fairly high-end Sharper Image massage chairs--it's pretty cool, a lot more aggressive than the "cushion full o' vibrators" approach lesser devices take. My upper back has been hurting me lately, so I was letting the chair work on it last night as my Aunt and I played Tetris Attack (heh, didn't know it had its own fansite) I played the game with a lot more skill once the chair had finished its run. This surprised me, but to my Aunt, it was the most obvious thing in the world: of course it would be a distraction in a game that requires a good deal of situational awareness.

My surprise points to this ongoing issue in my life, how...I don't know if out-of-touch is quite the right term, but close enough...I am with my body. There's a feedback loop that I think is weaker in me than in other people. Some of it comes from resiliency; when I was a kid I almost went deaf, because I waited so long to complain about a serious earache. (Oddly, it might be a recognition of this desensitivity that has turned me into a bit of a hypochondriac.) Similarly, I just realized yesterday that the last 10 week session of yoga might've seemed more difficult than the previous 10 week session because of the extra 10 or so pounds I've had since the holidays. This probably would've been obvious to most people, but I had just guessed I was working at getting deeper into the poses, hence the increased difficulty.

Hmm. In the same vein, I can never detect the change caffeine makes in me, except I notice the headaches if I go a long time without.

Weird. I feel (to a much, much lesser degree, obviously) like one of thse kids who are in trouble because they have no sense of pain. I suspect it's not just a matter of training myself to "pay more attention", I have to use logic where other people can use intuition.


(3) levity
2004.04.02
Poster of the Moment
They have these posters for a fundraising walk all over my office building. Not to take away from a worthy cause, but I have two issues with this poster: from even a small distance the main logo is difficult to make out (it always reminds me of an ostrich when I see one down the hall), and the slogan "Making Domesic Violence Our Business" always makes me think "worst idea for an business plan EVER, I hope they don't plan to go IPO."

Photos of the Moment
Camera Obscura: "[Old] Random Photos of Strangers Compiled For Your Pleasure". Somehow it seems rude to subject these sincere-looking people of the late-1800s to a level of irony and jaded detachment that is totally alien to their world, but what the heck, it's good for a giggle, and they're dead anyway.

Quote of the Moment
"However many jobs I have, 'this one' is always the worst one."
--chegosaurus on this one engrossing slashdot conversation, The Worst Development Job You've Ever Had?. It's a good quote, but not quite true, I think I tend to have a realistic view of all my job situations even when I'm in them. And like Rob Baum says (paraphrasing here) "hey...this programming may suck but you're sitting down...it's not heavy lifting."

(5) today is the first saturday of the rest of m...aw, crap
2004.04.03
Stories of the Moment
Tragic Animal Love Stories...I'm not sure, but I think they come from shirts in Becky Brisco's "True If Destroyed True If Not Destroyed" line of artsy clothing. Anyway, a nice morning read. If you're in a hurry just check out Giraffe & Planes.

Link of the Moment
LAN3 and I were chatting about sites we keep up with, I'm not sure if I realized the Amazing Randi has regularly updated (and fun) content on his site.

Motivational Passage of the Moment
Resentment serves no useful purpose. The more you can let resentment go, the faster you will move ahead.

Resentment builds a wall between you and the incredible power of gratitude. Knock down that wall, and let gratitude fill the space where resentment once lived. Resentment hides life's abundance from you. Drop the resentment, and fully live the abundance.

Think of all the things you make even more difficult because you dislike doing them. Does it make sense to punish yourself so?

The next time you feel resentment welling up within you, ask yourself a question. What good will it do you to put your precious time and energy into resentment, when such resentment disconnects you from life's goodness?

Resentment will get you nothing. Let it go, and feel the sweet, powerful freedom.

--Ralph Marston, March 8, 2004. Someone posted this on the loveblender and even though later, when I realized that motivational stuff is what this guy does and so I felt...I dunno, vaguely shnookered, being the kind of guy who doesn't put much stock in "feel good phrases", somehow this passage really moved me, thinking in terms of my upcoming divorce. Maybe it helped that it was in the middle of a sea of love poems. It also kind of invoked the last voiceover in American Beauty.

Actually, my instinctive dislike of this sort of motiovational stuff is interesting, because I do think being a little stupidly happy is a really good idea. I guess there's just something so bourgeois about it.


Annoucement of the Moment
This month's love is sufficiently blended.

(2) sprung forward
2004.04.04
Put your clocks ahead an hour...and test your fire alarms! We wouldn't want your temporarily sleep-deprived self to perish in flames!

Passage of the Moment
"I had always heard that your entire life flashes before your eyes the second before you die. Only that one second, isn't a second at all, it seems to stretch out forever like an ocean of time. For me it was lying on my back at boy scout camp, watching falling stars. And the maple trees that line our street. Or my grandmother's hands, and how her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird. And Janey. And finally, Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it's hard to be angry when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes, I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and I can't take it. My heart swells up like a balloon that's about to burst. But then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it. And then, it flows through me like rain and I feel nothing but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry. You will someday."
--"American Beauty". Yesterday I referenced this passage, and realized it had never made it into any of my journals.

Online Game of the Moment
This tie-in with the new Dawn of The Dead game is good old school zombie-blastin' shotgun fun. (I just watched the 80s version the other night at Jim's movie night. The biggest obvious difference was the old school zombies just kind lumber around, and the new one lacks the sly(ish) commentary on American consumerism.)

T-Shirt of the Moment
The commerative Free Janet's Boobie T-Shirt.

Boring 'Site Update' of the Moment
I added a 2600 programming page to alienbill and put a link there in the sidebar. Along with a link to the JoustPong page in the "features" section. And at my birthday party Diane mentioned she couldn't figure out how to get to my résumé from the frontpage of kisrael, so I added that as a sidebar link as well. (Ah, "putting my résumeé on the web"--by itself, a truly classic, well-meaning yet (by itself) futile activity.) And I combined my two old video games pages and put the result on kirkjerk.com/vgames.

(7) pert plus plus
2004.04.05
Geek Joke of the Moment
Did you hear about the Computer Scientist who starved to death in the shower? The instructions on his shampoo said "Lather, rinse, repeat."
--jarran on this slashdot poll. Hee, I like today's title.

Link of the Moment
Looks like they're making yet another official Space Invaders remake, this time for its 25th Anniversary. The remake's website gets the reward for most enthusiastic yet irritating UI ever...shooting invaders to navigate is just delightfully slightly perverse.

Article of the Moment
Continuing in a geekish vein, Greater Power Efficiency, the next needed iteration of Moore's Law. Batteries really are the bottleneck for neat portable stuff.

This might sound stupid, but I always find it amusing when I find out that a chip doing calculations draws more power and runs hotter than one that's idle. It makes total sense, but I guess I developed this mental model back in the 1980s, on the 8-bit computers: they never seemed to get hotter when they were doing number crunching, and they seemed to draw a steady supply of power from the wallsocket...the idea of being able to see the results of increased CPU power usage seemed goofy and archaic, like a cheesy scifi novel describing the lights dimming as the computer started thinking about a really tough problem.

(5) grumblesmurf
2004.04.06
Is it just me, or does Apple iTunes kind of suck when it comes to actually having the random tune you want? Red Nex (or whatever) cover of Cotton Eye Joe, George Michael's cover of Papa Was A Rolling Stone, like 2 or 3 other things I thought of, no chance. That really sucks: that's why Napster was terrific, it just Had Every Song. iTune's 30 second preview is great (once I realized double clicking on a title activated it, it wasn't obvious); I'd buy a ton of music after a 30 second sample if they just had the selection.

Frickin' music publishers.

More Music of the Moment
Making the rounds was this video of "Japanese guitar virtuoso KeiicHi" doing the theme from Super Mario Bros on electric guitar, including some great sound effects. To me, the rhythm sounds a little strained at parts, but still pretty cool. The same page links to a more pedestrian piano version (that really chokes on the sound effects) but it was cool to see it in sheet music form.

I remember Martin Witczak in highschool did a great version of the gameboy "Super Mario Land"...a remix of that and a lot of other old videogame music as always is at Overclocked Remix...seems a bit popup heavy, so be warned.

It's amazing how catchy some of those tunes were...8-bit Nintendo was an interesting time for video game music, where the composers had more tools but still had to synthesize the music, couldn't just record it in a studio.

Cartoon of the Moment
This has been sitting in my harddrive for a few PCs now. I don't know where it's from. I think of the punchline often at work, though for some reason I always misremember the boss as saying "work harder or your fired" which I think is somehow a little snappier.

Provocative Thought of the Moment
Report: Blix Says Iraq Worse Off After War. And I think he might be right. Despite our probably more or less good intentions, there are a lot of reasonable Iraqis who ain't gonna see us as the good guys in this one.

I still think it comes back to Saddam screwing up w/ Kuwait; yeah, it's probably part and parcel with him being a somewhat powermad dictator and all, but if he hadn't done that, we would probably hold our noses and count ourselves lucky to have a secular strongman ally in the region. And pretty much everyone but dissidents in Iraq would be living in a safer world.

Milestone of the Moment
gulp -- just put in the call to my family trust's "Real Estate Guy" and put the wheels in motion for selling the house. Friday (after the court date with Mo) his team comes over and away we go...hopefully just under the "interest rate increase" wire.

(5) the best mac and cheese like dish in the history of bachelorkind
2004.04.07
Last night, I scavanged the BEST MAC AND CHEESE LIKE DISH IN THE HISTORY OF BACHELORKIND. Seriously.

It started, as these things always do, when I was looking for a bite to eat. Now, I keep a pretty bare fridge and pantry. This isn't even mostly a bachelor boy laziness thing; I am trying to lose some weight, and I find available interesting food can be an issue for me. But, I found some cans of tuna, and I knew I did have the ingredients for Tuna ala Kirk...but, Mo took the can opener. And she didn't just take the can opener...she left the can opener originally, then came back for it. I think under the "Mo gets everything made out of stainless steel" principle (garbage cans, bathroom accessories, kitchen untensils etc) which of course is the obvious outgrowth of "Mo likes stuff made out of stainless steel" principle.

But she did leave behind an opened bag of organic Fussilini pasta. And from my recent party, I had half a jar of salsa con queso...which is more queso than salsa, but anyway. (Actually, most of this sprung from trying to find something decent to put the salsa con queso on.) I also had a container of salsa...Santa Fe salsa, or something...more nicely diced vegetable bits than glop, the good stuff that's sold cold in a plastic container rather than room temperature in a jar. So I cook the pasta, then pour the cheese directly on the pasta...(cold...it chills out the pasta nicely, I hate super hot food) and then some of the salsa.

Man...it was so good. I mean, I've always liked salsa on mac and cheese, and-- ...but pasta is kind of like, tortilla-like...no seriously! It's great. You gotta try it! Well, whatever, maybe you think it's an abomination, but I was the one who had a crazy italian mexican fiesta in my mouth last night and loved it!

Please don't quote the "had a crazy italian mexican fiesta in my mouth last night and loved it!" line out of context. Thanks.

Odd Tax Laws of the Moment
  • In Ohio, a gift basket of fruit or candy is not subject to sales tax, as the "true object sought is the food items contained within," not the basket. However, a lead crystal candy dish, which is considered a decorative container, full of candy would be fully taxable.
  • In Connecticut, the sale of a pumpkin in its "natural grown state" is exempt from sales tax because it is considered a food product. However, if the pumpkin is sold after being painted, its "primary purpose" becomes decoration and is subject to sales tax.
  • In Washington, crushed, shaved or cubed ice is not taxable, but blocks of ice are.
  • Up until 2003 in Texas, donuts and other individual sized bakery items sold in quantities of 5 or less were taxable -- they are now exempt.
  • Antacids are exempt in Connecticut, but are taxable once one crosses the border into Massachusetts.
  • In Minnesota, cough drops are taxable as "candy."
  • In California, fresh fruit is exempt, but an apple purchased through a vending machine is taxable on 33 percent of the price.
  • In Minnesota, massage therapy provided by licensed masseuse is subject to the state sales tax unless the massage is for the treatment of an "illness, injury or disease," in which case it is tax exempt.
  • In Texas, "intravenous systems, supplies and replacement parts" are tax-exempt when used in the treatment of humans, but taxable when used in the treatment of animals.
  • In Wisconsin, cloth diapers are exempt, but disposable baby diapers are taxable.
--from this year's version of the annual press release, Taxware Announces the "Top Ten Most Unusual Sales Tax Laws For 2004". Aside from some geek-cool-technology stuff, I'm afraid that's about as amusing as my job gets, folks. And such odd little laws are what keep companies like mine in business!

(15) snark out
2004.04.08
I have to ask: what the hell are we doing in Iraq? Are we still the good guys?

Conversation of the Moment
sarah: You know, if you truly enjoy a crazy italian fiesta in your mouth you might enjoy the crazy polish mexican mouth fiesta that Wes calls "Ross Pierogies"
sarah: Pierogies, cooked with Salsa on top!
sarah: Yummy!
kirk: Buying and cooking pierogies is completely foreign to my experience.
sarah: really?
kirk: I think i mighta bought some in NYC from a vendor
sarah: If you enjoy good stodgy potato-filled pasta things, then you'll love pierogies
sarah: I think that was actually the slogan of the Pierogie Council for a while
--Obviously based on yesterday's journal entry that I asked Sarah to preview. Man, I miss having her and Dylan around for snarky kitchen table conversations.

Article of the Moment
More neurosis fodder, but interesting The Ends of the Earth, 5 odd phenomena. I really like how scientists have no idea why the rotation of the earth is speeding up...

Toy of the Moment
Speaking of things science can't hope to understand: Burger King's online Subservient Chicken. (UPDATE: Actually, science seems to have it down...here are all the things you can get it to do.)

Music of the Moment
BoingBoing linked to this lovely Electronica cover of "Man of Constant Sorrow" from "O Brother Where Art Thou". Jeez, I love electronica covers of almost anything. I really am most delighted with music when it's just a melange of rhythm and "hooks".

Photo of the Moment

--There is this excellent stone wall near the Big Yellow House where Mo, Peterman, Sarah, myself, et al. used to live. This kind of wall where they work on stacking the stones by shape is so much cooler than when they just slather it all together with concrete or whatever. A fullsize version of this has been added to my desktop wallpaper page.

(6) don't take the law into your own hands -- you take them to court
2004.04.09
Off to divorce court. Between that and the house sale it might be a low content day.

UPDATE: So, that's that. Went to the courthouse in Cambridge: the judge didn't show up 'til an hour and a half after the appointed hour, which was a little annoying. The actual process was over pretty quickly, just a few questions. The judge asked if Mo had gotten the petition form-y thing off the Internet (she had) and then later mentioned it was a very complex document, he had to read it twice.

It's not clear if it's 90 days from today, or from when we filed the paperwork a month ago.

Passage and Article of the Moment
But meanwhile, here's the Top 100 Sites you didn't know you couldn't live without. Shouldn't "didn't know I could live without" be like a potentially fatal condition?

Article of the Moment
Ben-Veniste brought up the much-discussed PDB—the President's Daily Briefing by CIA Director George Tenet—of Aug. 6, 2001. For the first time, he revealed the title of that briefing: "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States."

Rice insisted this title meant nothing. The document consisted of merely "historical information" about al-Qaida—various plans and attacks of the past. "This was not a 'threat report,' " she said. It "did not warn of any coming attack inside the United States." Later in the hearing, she restated the point: "The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States."

To call this distinction "academic" would be an insult to academia.
--Slate.com, Condi Lousy -- Why Rice is a bad national security adviser.

Top Ten Rejected Titles For The Upcoming Gay Western of the Moment
10. "The Good, The Bad And The Hunky"
9. "How The West Was Redecorated"
8. "The Adventures Of Frank And Jesse And James"
7. "Seven Brothers For Seven Brothers"
6. "Butch Cassidy And The Even Butcher Sundance Kid"
5. "Rio Lesbo"
4. "Dances with Men"
3. "The Magnificent Seven Inches"
2. "Go West, Young Man...Now South... A Little More To The South... Oh God, Yes! Right There!"
1. "A Fistful Of Wild Bill"
--David Letterman's Top Ten.

(6) thanks, great-grandma
2004.04.10
Dialog of the Moment
"Condoms have been around for a long time. When condoms were made of lambskin, my great-grandmother would hang them out on the clothesline to dry."
"How do you know this?"
"My mother tells really inappropriate stories."
--Andy and Me at the latest Jim's Weekly Psychotronic Movie Night.

Site Feature of the Moment
I added a IM section to my best of kisrael.com page, the first subject- rather than year-based page in that. AIM chats that I bother to put up here are usually pretty funny, but still I divided them into "best of"/"second best of". Worth checking out I think, good for a quick giggle.

Cartoon of the Moment
Awesome. They've put all 20 episode of the Clone Wars 20-part microseries online...with optional director's commentary! And what's great is these episodes are so kinetic and action-based--though without forgetting about the characterization--that you might not mind the commentary even your first time through. (I ended up switching to a lower screen resolution temporarily, so the fixed-size movies were a bit bigger.)

Each episode is around 5-6 minutes long. The format works wonderfully-- not surprising when you consider how Star Wars had some of its roots in the old black and white serials, Flash Gordon and what not. If you're in a hurry, I'd suggest episodes 12 and 13, though it's all really good. The only part that really struck me as stupid is--ok, I can accept bad guy "knights" on speederbikes. Even with lances, they show how they use them to take out larger vehicles. But, then, the good guys have their squadron of speederbike guys? Fine, but with lances? And the detailing of their bikes looks a bit like their helmets? Corny, like Samus' ship in Metroid. Despite that, the cartoons had some tremendous vehicle and character design, you can glance at some of that in the main UI.
You end up wishing that the prequel movies were as good as this series. It is blatantly obvious that the fan boys take much better care of the franchise than Lucas, that they care about it and understand the appeal of it much more than good old George does.

(7) why i oughta
2004.04.11
So last night I met up with Sawers and Cordelia and went to see Grand Opening's annual amateur porn event "You Oughta Be In Pictures". It was...eh, ok. Some of the videos were pretty amusing, especially this one particularly intimate and zoomed in banana-meets-jelly-donut one. Also there was a neat one where this older cowgirl lady gets it on in the barn with her guy pal, and in a culture that seems to act as if sexuality ends at 27 or so, it's cool to see people enjying themselves.

The weirdest thing is that they make a big ceremony about destroying the tape after; it's weird because A. no one except the participants is really that concerned about doing that (though I guess there might be a 'once in a lifetime film' spin they're trying to get on it) and B. I don't know what video editing process went on to assemble the different videos, but I assume there could easily be scratch edit copies of everything floating around whatever studio they used.

Quote of the Moment
"Due to circumstances beyond your control, you are master of your fate and captain of your soul."
--Slashdot QotD

Article of the Moment
On this Easter Sunday, why not check out this Slate piece on the many images of Jesus. I have to say, I've never seen a poster quite like this...

(4) mondayne
2004.04.12
Feh, turns out my proposed title of "mundane monday" was already taken.

Spent a lot of yesterday starting the 2600 Cookbook, a kind of reference for people trying to learn to program the Atari. I think the format has a lot of potential, but obviously, it's not of tremendous general interest to the assembled kisrael masses. I like the logo I came up with for it though, that's "Short Order Sam" from the Activision game "Pressure Cooker". Hopefully Activision won't move in...

Quote of the Moment
The sum of the Universe is zero.
--Slashdot QotD. Not sure if it's true or not, but if not, why not?

Article of the Moment
Slate.com on those armed military contractors. They're our very own unlawful combatants! No Geneva Convention for these tough hombres!

Armed contractors for the Army...seems like we're hitting more of that "Robocop" distopia all the time.

Invention of the Moment
Idea for a fountain from the Gallery of Ingenious, but Impractical Devices (part of the larger The Museum of Unworkable Devices, mostly focused on perpetual motion machines.) Aesthetically pretty cool, but I wonder: were people expected to touch lips with it or not? If so, it would detract from the health benefits of it not being the shared drinking cup (which was a problem back in the day.)

(8) basic math...well, maybe 6502 assembly math
2004.04.13
Geekery of the Moment
Math oddity: it hit me last night that subtraction is more powerful than addition, because if you do enough subtractions (from zero) you can do addition, but there's no way to do subtraction by doing a lot of additions. For example, if I want to add 3 and 5, I could subtract 3 from zero (-3), subtract 5 from that (-8), then subtract that total from zero (8). But I can't think of anyway of doing subtraction via addition, except for saying "add the negative of" which seems to be quietly invoking multiplication or worse. (This hit me because of Assembly Programming, where often subtracting a number from zero is the easiest way to get the negative of a number, and you have to do slightly different setup before adding than you do for subtracting.)

There's a parallel thing with division being able to emulate multiplication but not vice versa, though it breaks down when one of the numbers is zero.

Quote of the Moment
"Ladies undergarments."
--Bob Dylan in 1965, on what might tempt him to sell out. And now he's in some utterly stupid Victoria's Secret Ads! I never 'got' him anyway.

(22) three questions
2004.04.14
LiveJournalism of the Moment
I want everyone who reads this to ask me 3 questions, no more no less. Ask me anything you want.
Then I want you to go to your journal, copy and paste this allowing your friends (including myself) to ask you anything.
--LJ meme, transported here to a slightly different environment. But go ahead, ask 'em if you got 'em. (I asked this (late) yesterday but there were no takers so I thought I'd give it another chance before filing it away under 'excessive LJ-ish navel gazing')

Link of the Moment
The Annotated Beastie Boys. When I was younger, I woulda loved to see something like this, so I'd have a better idea what was going on...I mean, all this time I thought "Brass Monkey" was a codeword for beer. Have I been grievously misinformed?

Actually, it's kinda nice just to read the best guess of all those lyrics, some are really hard to understand.

Political Jab of the Moment
"Al Qaeda is determined to attack inside the United States."
"Not specific enough."
"It may be a hijacking."
"Not specific enough."
"They may target a building."
"Not specific enough."
"Lower Manhattan."
"Not specific enough."
"What do you want to hear??"
"'Saddam'."
--Advisor and Geore Gush in this Tom Toles cartoon. Except Bush is playing golf. (via Bill the Splut)

(7) melancholy of the moment
2004.04.15



(2) boo
2004.04.16
Sorry for yesterday's entry, it was a bit content-lite and self-indulgent. (I know, completely unprecedented for this site.)

Somehow that sign I took the photo of went away...I've got to call the Real Estate folks, I know they were sending someone to put it more firmly in place, maybe something went wrong...

Here's one thing I was working on, a little teaching program for 2600 Cookbook called "milquetoast the ghost". I think he's one of the cutest 8x8 monochrome sprites I've ever seen, especially when you press the button to make him go boo...

Political Quote and Article of the Moment
"And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important"
--Bush Jr...in Trust, Don't Verify William Saletan cuts him a little slack for his frequent misuse of "incredible" ("illiterate, is harmless", as when paired with "credibility") but then rips into him for the contradictions inherent in his outlook. Did you hear that clip of Bush stammering when asked if he's made any mistakes? Not being able to admit mistakes, even in the "mistakes were made" dodging-sense, is a huge character flaw.

Poem of the Moment
And then there's the one you write
that makes even you laugh.
You never want to see her again.
You don't want to see her handwriting
on a letter. You don't want to come home
and see the little yellow light
flashing messages of regret.
You don't want to pick up the phone
and hear how much she's been missing you.
Couldn't you meet for a drink?
Not any more. Maybe in a year or two.
All you want to do now
is draw a line under your life
and get on with the past.
Do you make yourself perfectly clear?
You sign with just your name,
a businesslike touch
which makes even you laugh.
--Hugo Williams, "All That". Modulo gender and technology choices, I'm thinking that's about what Mo's feeling now.

Link of the Moment
I was going to post this around Valentine's Day, but it was down, maybe it got swamped with traffic...The Kiss "is a place to talk about kisses. Specifically, it's a place to talk about those kisses that mattered - the kiss that made an impression that stuck with you long after the kiss itself was over, the kiss that you still remember all the details of, the kiss that you still think about sometimes." Cool reading.

Q+A of the Moment
Brooke followed my instructions and has answered some question trios of her own, including ones I asked. I know the "copy this into your journal" instruction works better on LJ, since everyone there has their own journal, but did any other kisrael.com question askers follow suit somewhere?

(5) happiness is...warm puppies or guns?
2004.04.17
Passage and Article of the Moment
'People start out in life pretty certain that they're going to end up like David Beckham or win the Nobel Prize,' says Oswald. 'Then, after a few years, they discover it's quite tough out there - not just in their careers, but in life. Unsurprisingly, their happiness drops.' The good news is that the downer doesn't last. According to Oswald, if you trace the trajectory of most peoples' happiness over time it resembles a J-curve. People typically record high satisfaction levels in their early twenties. These then fall steadily towards middle age, before troughing at around 42. Most of us then grow steadily happier as we get older, with those in their sixties expressing the highest satisfaction levels of all - as long, that is, as they stay healthy.
--From this Observer piece On the Happy Trail.

I'm trying to judge my own level of happiness right now. Irina, a co-worker (we're not really close but once or twice a year maintenance of this one project has us working intensely together for a few days, and she seems very tuned into people's moods caught me coming in from the parking garage bopping along, doing this human beatbox thing I sometimes do (I like the echo in the garage) and she said I seemed SO much happier than when I was working with her around a month ago; there was a day or two when I was working with her when I had seemed really distracted and out of it and kind of miserable; she had a lot more trouble following my train of thought that day, actually. So I guess there's a possibility I've turned the corner. I think Peterman might've said something similar.

On the other hand, there's still this weird undercurrent of sadness I inadvertently run into from time to time, like a stream still moving under a layer of ice. Sometimes a sad song or scene of someone crying in a movie will break through, and I'll find myself weepy. Usually it passes pretty quickly, but still, it bothers me, I think the only time I went through a period like that was when my dad died and I don't remember if it lasted this long or not.

I don't know what percentage of the sadness is over Mo specifically, or just the kind of fears of loneliness in a more general sense.

(But how can I be anything BUT happy, Red Sox romped over the bum Yankees last night...)


Games of the Moment
Yeti Sports is building its way to a full Yeti/Pingu decathlon; it's not just Penguin Baseball any longer!

Disney of the Moment
The troubles with the Mickey Mouse brand. When I saw one of those "Mickey through the decades" shirts, I noticed how much more human looking he's become--the article mentions this progression (actually, retrogression into an infant's proportions) but misses the obvious one...at some point he became caucasian-flesh-colored. But the mouse has no back story, and is kind of suffering because of it.

My girlfriend Marnie had a box from a Disney Mug up in her locker in high school, a stylized Mickey arm and glove...I always thought it was weird how it looked just like he had a stigmata. I envisioned the church of Mickey Christ, with Saint Goofy and what not.

Incidentally, I saw "Lilo and Stitch" last night for the first time. It's probably my favorite Disney film ever, except for maybe Fantasia, just because of the cool cartoony Sci-Fi elements.

Article of the Moment
What Google Is Up To. An interesting idea: more than anything else, Google may be a forming the hardware and supporting system for building "web sized" applications. Essentially, they already have a high availabity mirror of the entire Web, and the infrastructure (technology- and personnel-wise) that keeps that up and running 24/7. That gives them a huge advantage over almost anyone.

(2) this nacho cheese
2004.04.18
Music Video of the Moment
LAN3 said that New York Girl in Baghdad was probably "too weird to be political" and he might be right. Still, an interesting video with a nice little tune behind it.

Nostalgia of the Moment
Before I threw it away, I thought I'd reclaim the interesting bits of this high school Spanish quiz:
Three things learned/remembered from this:
1. I was really mediocre at Spanish.
2. My high school teacher had us use "Spanishized" versions of our names (Juan for John, etc) but "Kirk" doesn't really translate so the teacher had me use the name Nacho. (The "ir" of "Kirk" tends to be very strange to native Spanish speakers, which is why a señorita or two has been known to make my toes curl by bending my name around two syllables.)
3. I went through a phrase of printing my name in a really stylized manner. Luckily, by the time of this quiz I had dropped giving the "R" a double line for its vertical bar.
4. I would sometimes draw a guy in a sombrero. I think I liked the way the tassles would hang straight down despite the angle of the rest of the hat.

And now I can throw the quiz away...adiós!

Car of the Moment
My cousin Ivan has started ragging on me about the age of my beloved Honda Civic. He sent me this car show link and the one that really caught my attention was this MINI Cooper Convertible. I've heard that the MINIs are now a kind of neo-"macho" car, which is a bit too bad. And I don't know why I have this 'thing' for convertibles; with the top down its windy and noisy and a sunny day will blind you...still, this kind of compactness really appeals to me.

(3) handyman kirk
2004.04.19
Handyman of the Moment
I was delighted with how well my hacked up closet rod solution came out: rather than the very-breakable wall attachments in the plaster, I put 'em across some modular storage from Bed Bath and Beyond. $45 to make 4 stacks of 3 to put the 2 rods in. Plus, my cousin Ivan and I did SO much yardwork, like 15 or 16 yardbags full.


Meme of the Moment
Memepool linked to this article on personal ads, as well as this kind of odd Supermodel Personals parody site. "It's so fun when you're pretty and go grocery shopping. You can laugh and make fun of everything, and race the carts the around, and take 100 items to the express lane, and everyone thinks it's cute and endearing instead of obnoxious and stupid."

Articles of the Moment
Slate with good articles on Osama's "offer of truce": William Saletan argues that it's just a power play, and Lee Smith on how much trouble our government has in moving beyond the Cold War-like "single organization" mentality.

Enigma of the Moment
Machine of Mystery! How very "Myst" like...

More Housework of the Moment
So Peterman thought with a title like "Handyman Kirk" more photos were in order.

You know, in general housework isn't quite as bad as I tend to remember, it is relatively satisfying...the trouble is every task goes on longer than you want it to, and it really helps to do it with a buddy. Half of why I bribed Ivan to help out was for the company...
Steps Before
Steps After (still drying)
(Thanks Peterman!)
Bags o' Yard Waste Ahoy
(Thanks Ivan!)

(2) beep bop boop
2004.04.20
Saw Kill Bill Vol. 2 last night. Excellent film. It really put Vol. 1 in a new context, and managed to turn a chop sockey homage into something more, but without losing the fun of the genre it so loves...

Link of the Moment
"Vintage Electronics Have Soul is the motto of the Pocket Calculator Show, and with in-depth historical views of Nerd Watches, Boomboxes, Walkmen, and of course Calculators, they live up to that slogan. The Magical Gadget page is pretty cool, and very easy to skim if you're in a hurry. (And if you're really in hurry and want a giggle, check out the Sexum Adult Digital Watch. WARNING: about as explicit as you'd expect an LCD watch from the 80s would be.)

Gripe of the Moment
In the same way they've stopped making simple, thin, money-clip type wallets (at least ones where your cards won't slide right out) I'm having a lot of trouble finding a decent men's sport-ish sandal. In general, the trend is to make them WAY to big and padded; basically, like full-on sneakers with a few extra ventilation points. That sucks, because what you might gain in support you lose in having sweaty feet. I used to like the bare-bones Tevas, but now they seem kind of chafe-y. Three years ago Old Navy had a terrific compromise, with just enough padding to be comfortable, (just not very durable...) then the next year they made it big and puffier, then the next year even more side material, and this year they only have flipflops. Who the hell is buying so many flipflops? Am I the only guy who thinks it's kind of nice to have open footwear where you don't have to clench your toes to keep 'em on your feet?

(1) we need more suckerscustomers
2004.04.21
Oh, one goofy detail I forgot to mention yesterday...Monday, while watching the movie, I got a cellphone call from my Uncle Bill (it was set to vibrate). So afterwards, but still during "Kill Bill Vol 2", I was able to show Peterman and Dalton "Missed Calls". Entry #1? Bill.

Link of the Moment
A little while back this link about hidden stuff in Microsoft's own Word documents was making the rounds, where Microsoft inadvertantly lets you see the edits that were made to drafts of various documents, sometimes in an embarassing kind of way.

It reminds of how back in the day, online folk would write fake Delete characters, ^H^H^H^H, to undo "mistakes" they made and put the "corrected" versions after...e.g. "He's such a assh^H^H^H^Hforceful personality"

Essay of the Moment
Good essay on What is the meaning of life?, a close second to the Monty Python answer to it. (via Bill the Splut)

Article of the Moment
Slate on the Columbine Killings. It argues that it was a play for infamy, to make the world shudder at their power; it was their failure at wiring timers that made it a "mere school shooting". Talks about the killers from a clinical psychiatry health point of view which is kind of interesting.

(15) ramble of the moment
2004.04.22
So I spent all last evening straightening up the house in preparation for the pre-openhouse cleaning. Man, what an emotionally draining task...all the fun of getting ready to move with the undercurrent of reminders of the divorce. There's a ton of crap that isn't exactly mine but isn't exactly Mo's either...the result of some clutter synergy two people have when living together.

Mo and I have been e-mailing a lot over the past few days. It's been painful on both sides but I think overall it's been worthwhile. The new thing I learned is that she really feels she put in effort over the course of the relationship and marriage to make it work for her, and to get me more engaged; overall, probably more work than I did. But the thing is for me, she never communicated the significance or severe importance of what she was doing, what she wanted me to do. When she finally talked about how precarious the situation was, last October, I started making some strong efforts to step up to the role. In retrospect, these efforts seem sad and pathos-filled. Not necessarily too little, but too late; I think Mo had already moved on in her own mind, even if she didn't admit that then. So a lot of this was a massive systemic failure of communication.

Though, maybe not. There's another divergence in viewpoint that might make one of those infamous "irreconcilable differences"...she looks for a relationship to be...an answer to some of the existential questions of life, I think I'd say. And I don't; I think those questions need to be answered on one's own. Like Henry Miller wrote in "Tropic of Capricorn":
There are no 'facts'-- there is only the fact that man, every man everywhere in the world, is on his way to ordination. Some men take the long route and some take the short route. Every man is working out his own way and nobody can be of help except by being kind, generous, and patient.
And I think that is related to what I look to receive and give in a relationship, being kind generous and patient. I think it's about support and feedback, security and sex, making good times and good conversation and muddling through the not-so-good-times. A good relationship is an end unto itself, but there's this primary role as a means to other ends, more personal projects in life. I need to find out if I can find someone who shares that outlook, or if I need to be resigned to remolding my attitude about this, or just giving it all a miss and being alone.

One other issue, and Mo says it's a viewpoint that some of our mutual friends share though it irks the hell out of me, is that I'm looking for a "mother figure". Maybe I just don't "get it", but to me that charge reeks of the cheapest, most-facile armchair psychiatry possible. Yeesh, sometimes I don't even think I want my own mom to be a "mother figure"...yes, I like feedback when I've done something good or cool, and yes, I tend to defer on making decisions, a funny kind of conservatism where I usually like to adapt myself to the situation rather than struggle to get the situation to adapt to me. And I like to spend the minimal amount of time on keeping body and soul together, because to me that seems secondary to the interesting things in life. But beyond those, I don't see where that charge really applies.

If anyone would like to explain more about people's perception of the "mother figure" thing, or talk about any of this in general, the Comments section is as open as always...

Summary of the Moment
Slate reads Woodward's new book for you! Pretty good summary and some other coverage is kicking around the site as well.

(7) like castle wolfenstein 3d but better
2004.04.23
Thanks for all the feedback yesterday.

Actually, it's not so much that the "getting ready to move" vibe is made worse by the divorce reminder aspect; it's that there's the additional pressure of the "will my house sell well" anxiety to clean it up right.

Well, maybe it's not all that bad, though I do worry my real estate folks are pricing it high enough that we might not get enough nibbles before something happens to interest rates. But I don't think I'm in danger of owing on the mortgage or anything, and beyond that it's all funny money anyway.

Sigh.

Openhouse this Sunday. And it looks like some city workers are adding gravel so that the insane jutting rock (that was left behind when some of the other dirtroad material eroded somewhat 'cause of the recent monsoons) isn't quite so dangerous. Yay Waltham!

Comic of the Moment

Stalin vs Hitler...with translations from the original Russian, and with annotations...great stuff.

Quote of the Moment
"I was the youngest of 8. All brothers. All lousy kissers."
--Woman on "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge". But she did go on to make it across the rickety bridge with all these volleyballs being launched at her.

(13) it was a great day
2004.04.24
Funny Video and Quote of the Moment
"You know, I just didn't feel like it. I mean, it was, it was a great day, it was beautiful out, the sun was shining, and...you know...I don't even play baseball...much less wanna kill someone with a baseball bat."
--from My Trip to Liberty City, a bit of Machinima LAN3 pointed out, a video about exploring Grand Theft Auto 3's less violent side as a Canadian Tourist. (Machinima is (most often) the art of using the characters within a video game as puppets to do little dramas, frequently with a humorous or satirical bent--I think the article Spielbergs with a joystick has been making the rounds lately.) Peterman thought it was a one-note joke, but I thought it really said something about the beautiful worlds these games are making...one of the things that I think really makes GTA3 great (besides the chaotic antisocial violent mayhem) is it taking place in a city that feels like it has its own agenda, it doesn't feel like a place that was created just to have the game in...plus the video has some laugh out loud funny moments.

Of course, when I see a vending machine with empty slots, I'm always tempted to put in money and hit the empty slot just to see the mechanism work, repurposing the act of purchasing from the mere crass acquisition of snackfoods to a piece of performance art. So the idea of finding art accidentally makes sense to me.


Toys of the Moment
The BBC's Science and Nature: Human Body & Mind page has some very cool quizes. (I thought the What Kind of Thinker Are You? Quiz was a lot matter than the usual net quiz...(it said I was an "Interpersonal" thinker, which makes some level of sense.) But overall, the whole site has a ton of cool stuff, like a really good day at the science museum. (I found this via a boingboing link to its Disgust survey, and was impressed by the depth of the explanation of the hypothesis at the end.)

Speaking of those quizes, SpinnWebe's What Kind Of Quiz-Taker Are You? and associated quizes are pretty good as well.

Games of the Moment
Floats is another excellent and pretty orisinal game (there's like 50 of 'em now!) though it reminded me a bit much of Ranjit's game Loop. On the other hand, the experienced gamer knows there is almost nothing new under the sun. (UPDATE: Floats ends after 4 levels, it turns out. So in a way it's kind of nice that it has a (not easy to meet!) ending rather than just going on forever.)

(3) it's very loud and it's fun for a while
2004.04.25
Open house today. Crossing my fingers, and several other parts of my anatomy.

Passage of the Moment
The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question, is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, "Hey - don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride..." And we... kill those people.

"We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real." Just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter because: It's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace. Thank you very much, you've been great.
--Bill Hicks, via this BongBoing sidebar. I'd like some examples of people who espoused that message who we killed though before I know if I agree or not.

Update of the Moment
11:12. Been moving since like 7. Bought flowers, mopped a bit more, straightened, more vacuuming, last touchup yardwork, etc etc. All the housecleaning that's gonna get done is done.

I'm so nervous. Somehow it feels like my first audition for my life after Mo. The house sells well, I get to sit on a wad of cash, plus demonstrate what I'm able to do.

Many thanks to Peterman for working with me on this.

Update to the Update
Not bad....11 parties showed up, 3 seemed to get pretty serious about it. Yay!

(7) scanners live in vain
2004.04.26
Link of the Moment
Check Your Head.

Screensaver of the Moment
Coolest idea for a screensaver that I've seen in a while: Holding Pattern is the view out of a passenger jet window...

Screensavers...what a sad little lost artform. The fact is usually screens don't need that much saving, burn-in is relatively rare, and then there's the way it's much more power effecient to suspend both the CPU and the monitor...sigh. But it was such a nice idea: when you're not using the computer, it should show you something cool 'til you want to use it again. Ah well.

At one point I kind of wished the phrase "about as useful as a screensaver on a PalmPilot" would come into vogue, but I was younger and maybe even geekier then.

Summary of the Moment
A John Shirley blog entry on a recent Scientific American article about how we're being drowned in options. It also touches upon how there are two basic chooser types: Maximizers, who tend to become obsessed about looking for the "best" option, and Satisficers, who have less stress in general by following a "good enough is best" philosophy, but even that path is becoming more problematic.

That's one truth I'm coming to terms with: there's too much cool and interesting stuff out there. You can't read all the worthwhile books in the world, or even a tiny fraction of them. It's not easy to know the ratio of cool stuff I'll see over the cool stuff out there is closing in on zero.

In another related note...it's only been a few days, but I feel like the discipline needed to keep my house ready for unexpected drop-ins is good for me and my dreams of decluttering. I know it's a fantasy to think that I'll be able to keep up this level of neatness once the real need to do so passes, but still, it's a nice fantasy.

Update of the Moment
"How do you know I'd be afraid?" Lloyd said, "How do you know that would be the last thing I'd feel?"
"I don't know that." Shwartz tick-tickeded the pen. "You can never know. That's what's terrible about death."
"Lots of things you don't know when you're alive. So what's the difference?"
Schwartz's fingers stopped, and he stared at Lloyd as though he had seen him purely and for the first time.
--Thomas H. McNeely, from "Sheep"...it kind of ties in with the previous entry. See today's comments for an explanation of how the "too much cool stuff" ties in to the anti-packrat decluttering simplification bug. In short, it's about learning to let go. I'd like to say it's about not defining ourselves by our posessions, but I think we ARE somewhat defined by our posessions, and that's ok.

(1) art high and low
2004.04.27
Image and Site of the Moment
The site Early Visual Media has a lot of early photography and other interesting light tricks they used back then. Including nudes, for your prurient old school interests. The Danse Macabre pages remind me of this book my dad used to have that I keep meaning to look up, a bunch of woodcuts with the figure of death giving little quips as he gets ready to take each of these various stereotypes (baker, gravedigger, etc) away.

Link of the Moment
In the much more modern and low brow visual arts, I can't believe
doodie.com is still making a poop-themed cartoon every day and has been for years. I can't get the far back in the archive, but I swear I was looking at that site back in like 1998.

Quote of the Moment
"It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."
--Oscar Wilde, via this Slate piece on the delicous Freudian Slips of Condoleezza Rice. It's a great quote and true.

(6) in toon
2004.04.28
Cartoons of the Moment
Howtoons are nifty "how to make cool stuff" comics. I used to love these kind of things when I was a kid but I can't remember actually building that much. (Though even then I did a lot of semi-nifty things on computers...I guess that's one of the things I've always liked about computers, it's so easy to build something, and you don't have to worry about the glue being all messy, the pieces not quite fitting together, or even a place to store it...)

Rant of the Moment
No one makes a good small PC laptop these days. The dominant paradigm seems to be "no compromise desktop replacements", with as big a screen as possible...or, for the few companies who make a petite laptop, they're priced at a really high level, usually above $2000. (And the only one in stores is a VAIO, and I avoid those like the plague...and they have this super ugly font for the keys that their website seems to try avoid showing you....) They probably have the power to match the pricepoint, but I don't want a powerhouse, I want a petite (12" or so...) livingroom laptop I can put on a wireless network for surfing and light word processing...ideally one that doesn't run at a bajillion degrees and costs under $800.

Any suggestions? Apple's pretty close to it with their 12" iBook, but the current release seems to be edging up in size, plus I'm not sure if I'm ready to deal with the world of Mac right now, no matter how cool the idea of a Unix based system is. Actually, I wish I knew a place around Boston that had a good selection of new and used laptops...there was a computer show running next to PhillyClassic that had some good canidates, but I wasn't jonesing quite as much as I am now. (I wanted to see if Mo's old laptop could be fixed for a reasonable price...of course not, it's a VAIO.)

Sociology of the Moment
An in-depth piece Passport to the Pub: The Tourist's Guide to Pub Etiquette. Contains both practical advice and sociological description. (The link is a PDF, Google provides an HTML version.) Terrific reading! I love analysis like this, because it's so hard to get right, but cool when you can see how it fits.

(13) to boldly fight where no man has fought before
2004.04.29
Link of the Moment
It looks like this speculation on what a spaceship war in the Solar System might look like is about as finished as it's ever going to get. (Three parts.) Some interesting ideas, but it is so impossible to do "realistic" predictions such as this and have it look anything like what it actually ends up as. There's always some little feature or technology, a "minor" change that changes everything.
UPDATE: that's what I get for just publishing a link from the backlog without rereading it...as AuSkeptic points out, one of the coolest things about the link is the highlevel historical overview of Naval warfare here on Earth, and I forgot to mention that.

Observation of the Moment
"Scali" is a very intriguing name for a very mundane bread. It's such an evocative name that when it turns out to be white bread with seeds, its gotta be a disappointment.

Historical Culture of the Moment
John Bull and Uncle Sam...I hadn't heard much about the former gentleman, who is parallel in concept to Sam, though not as prevalent these days. From a Library of Congress exhibit on British-American relations. Do any other countries have semi-official personifications like these?

Meme of the Moment
This is probably making the rounds, but Babwa Wawa et al. want to make a reality show episode of 20/20: compete to adopt this baby. But, it being the strange world that it is, they may be stymied by Uri Geller's patent on the concept. Excellent. And people wonder why I'm so into pop culture.

(4) dirty jokes from cartoon kids
2004.04.30
So big day yesterday...I won an auction to get an Mac iBook at a good price, and I also got a bid on the house. Not a done deal, still gotta haggle over the price, but a very good sign.

Dirty Joke Link of the Moment
NOT SAFE FOR WORK. The page is layered with Porn ads, and the video itself is Cartman telling a REALLY raunchy but very funny joke: The South Park "Aristocrats" clip...Kyle's reactions are hilarious. I guess it ties into some upcoming Penn Jillette / Paul Provenza movie.

Site Update of the Moment
In order to prevent a repeat of the goofy faux pas I made yesterday on the comments section (I think I goit it subconsciously mixed up with my webmail system and typed the "recepient" rather than my own name in the blank for "name") I've fiddled with its UI a bit...now the textbox for your name comes after, mirroring where it shows up on the display. It definately works better for me, and since I leave more comments here than anyone, I guess that's a reasonable target, as long as it doesn't confuse everyone else.

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