kisrael.com | archive | 2007 jan

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(5) twenty oh seven
2007.01.01
Haven't been pre(r)ambling much as of late.

Transitional time for me over all... job, some of my relationships, my mom moving to Nyack. The new year carries its usual load of hopes and concerns for the future.

And for the world, in some ways. I'm not sure if the death penalty is a great thing for a young democracy to feature, but Saddam Hussein's execution certainly seems to provide some level of closure. It actually always feels a little weird when a famous person, no matter how infamous, dies of something other than old age.

Advice of the Moment
1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.
2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
4. Go very light on vices such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain't restful.
5. Avoid running at all times.
6. And don't look back. Something may be gaining on you.
--Satchell Paige, "Six Rules for a Happy Life". He would hand out business cards to little league autograph seekers with those rules on the back.


(1) nyack filler day 1
2007.01.02
I'll be at my Mom's, with uncertain 'net access for at least a while, so I've prepublished some material, digging into my previous backlog for still unused quotes...

Quotes of the Moment
"To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best."
-- William M. Thackeray

"We need to help people to discover the true meaning of love. Love is generally confused with dependence. Those of use who have grown in true love know that we can love only in proportion to our capacity for independence."
--Mr. Rogers

"Most people have two reasons for doing anything -- a good reason, and the real reason."
--slashdot

"Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart, and learn to love the questions themselves."
--Rainer Maria Rikle (as quoted by Mr. Rogers)


(2) nyack filler day 2
2007.01.03
Quotes of the Moment
"Never apply a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem."
--Everything2

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" but "Hmmm, that's funny ..."
-- Isaac Asimov (previously seen in my palm journal but its been a while)

"Innovation is hard to schedule."
--Dan Fylstra

"UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity."
--Dennis Ritchie



(2) nyack filler day 3
2007.01.04
Quotes of the Moment
"The only rational patriotism is loyalty to the nation ALL the time, loyalty to the government when it deserved it."
--Mark Twain, "The Czar's Soliloquy"

And do you think that unto such as you;
A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew:
God gave the secret--and denied it me?
Well, well, what matters it? Believe that, too.
--Omar Khayyam, as translated by Richard le Gallienne, via this Slate article on understanding Islamic fanaticism.

"Yet man is born unto trouble as surely as sparks fly upward."
Job 5:7

One lecturer at DeVry was fond of saying "There's no such thing as 'the good old days.' They were just old."
--Nick B


(3) nyack filler day 4
2007.01.05
Quotes of the Moment
"You know why critics love Elvis Costello and hate Van Halen? Because critics look like Elvis Costello"
--David Lee Roth, quoted by Kiss' Gene Simmons in an AV Club interview

"There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness."
--Friedrich Nietzsche

"Tradition is to human beings what instinct is to animals."
--Eric Erikson, via Mr. Rogers

"I bet the human brain is a kludge."
--Marvin Minsky


(4) nyack filler day 5
2007.01.06
Quotes of the Moment
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
--James D Nicoll

"The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech."
--Clifton Fadiman

"Whatever we have done with our lives makes us what we are when we die. And everything, absolutely everything, counts."

--Sogyal Rinpoche

"Love and trust, in the space between what's said and what's heard in our life, can make all the difference in the world."
--Mr. Rogers

Video of the Moment

--"On 12/31/06, the assistant organist at Trinity Wall Street church in NYC improvised a tribute to James Brown and Gerald Ford during the morning service, combining 'Hail To The Chief' with the breakdown from 'I Feel Good'. Robert Ridgell, organ"... kind of goofy. I didn't know organists could get away with that!

I have to admit I'm not a big fan of the church organ. I guess because it's all tone and little rhythm... and sometimes there's this one rambling build up thing they do that never sounds very musical to me at all...


News of the Moment
New Hampshire Republicans settle in signal jamming lawsuit. They claim it's the act of a few unauthorized individuals, but...man, this is just repugnant. It feels like there should be some kind of criminal charges but I don't know what they'd be, something FCC-related.

Or, not? I dunno. Freedom of political speech is such a weird issue for me. On the one hand, stifling of political expression is a pretty scary precursor of tyranny. On the other, the cost and effectiveness of mass media is such that I can't be happy about unbridled political ads.

I guess I have a somewhat dour view of the decision making abilities of the electorate, which isn't 100% compatible with some of my more typical "wisdom of crowds" anti-elitest stances.

Bonus Video of the Moment

--Some random person just wrote me about this because of a Loveblender comment I had made... I love this, especially the horns at the end. It's a little late, but it is Orthodox Christmas / 12th Day of Christmas ... not only is the music great, but the dancing is some of the best synchronized stuff I've seen. And the visual effects make me think that Apple is taking a cue from them with their iPod promotions.

(8) what kirk saw
2007.01.07
Ah, my annual narcissistic tradition: a review of the media I consumed over the last year.

FoSO and FoSOSO actually suggested I should have a permanent part of the front page dedicated to microreviews of this stuff, with a thumbnail, etc. I can't believe it would be interesting enough (or generate enough Amazon kickback) to make it worth while, but I did decide to write a little bit about the titles I put into italics, the "Strong Recommends". I mean, what's personal website like this for if not to try and plug things found to be worth plugging?

Movies at the Cinema: (9)
Night Watch, Block Party, The DaVinci Code, Prairie Home Companion, Click, Clerks II, The Devil Wore Prada, Superman Returns 2D/3D, Ant Bully

Ugh... no strong recommends. This seems to confirm my theory that going out the movies is usually more hassle than it's worth (especially if you've forked out for a happy A/V setup at home.) Prairie Home Companion was decent enough, but even that was at the second-run place.

Movies on DVD (85)
Triumph of the Will, 9 1/2 Weeks, Story of O, Baraka, Daredevil, The First 9 1/2 Weeks, Another 9 1/2 Weeks, Friday Night Lights, Dodgeball, The Island, Jeffrey, Mother Night, Spun, Jersey Girl, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Visions of Light, True Romance, Bonnie and Clyde, Drawn Together Season 1, Sleeper, From Here To Eternity, Saturday Night Fever, Flashdance, Blues Brothers, Clerks: Animated Series, Batman Begins, Say Anything, The Pillow Book, The Wiz, American Pie: Band Camp, Raging Bull, Sliding Doors, Toy Story, Drumline, Ally on Sex and the Single Life, Hellboy, Tank Girl, Love, Actually, Con Air, The Aristocrats, Kentucky Fried Movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, City of Angels, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Shakespeare in Love, Poison Ivy, Without a Clue, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Aeon Flux, Good of Cookery, The Moral Tales (1+2), Where the Heart Is, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Paris, Texas, Pretty in Pink, Eraserhead, Poison Ivy 2, Walk the Line, Death Race 2000, Everything is Illuminated, Little Voice, 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Long Kiss Goodnight, Pirates, Green Card, Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles: The Pluto Campaign, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, V for Vendetta, The Way We Were, Hulk, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Stick It, Deliverance, Sophie's Choice, Delta of Venus, Boys on the Side, King Kong, Backbeat, The Baxter, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, If these walls could talk 2, Boxing Helena, The Break-Up, The Break-Up, Robot Chicken

I just realized that most of the videos I really enjoyed this year (some are repeats from previous years) are things I reviewed for the Blender, I'll put in the Blender review link when I have it, instead of going straight to Amazon: Backbeat is all that and some great musical performances, Sliding Doors and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind both put forth some terrific philosophical ideas in highly engaging and emotional ways. True Romance is, in my opinion, great, but violent for some of the folks I watched it with. Love, Actually was very sweet. The Way We Were was of course a bittersweet classic, and The Baxter was a recent find, a formalistic comedy that I really loved and in some ways identified with.

Non-Blendered videos: the classic Raging Bull, the quirky but poignant Ukrainian joint Everything is Illuminated, and of course Blues Brothers has been the inspiration for bad jazz bands for decades. Finally there was Delta of Venus, like the other Blender-ish favorite Henry and June but with more sex and a bit less art.


Movies on TV (8)
Criminal, I, Robot, Dodgeball, Murder by Numbers, Postcards from the Edge, Wimbeldon, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hide and Seek

Bleh. Movies on TV were about as worth while as the trips to the cinema.

Video Games (7)
Alien Syndrome, The Punisher, Yoshi's Island, GTA: Liberty City Stories, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy, Rayman Raving Rabids

These are the games I played all the way through, and not multiplayer games I enjoy so much with friends, but still; I don't think I'm as much of a gamer as my reputation implies. Of what I played The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was the clear standout, a sandbox-y, mayhem-filled romp that really gave the sense of being this enormously strong, tremendously leaping monster at loose in city and desert settings.

Books (36)
The Cyberiad, The Book of Ratings, What Just Happened, Room Temperature, Smartbomb, Storm Front, Thud, Gun, with Occasional Music, Mortal Engines, Faith Without Certainty, Postsecret, The Discoveries, Be My Guest, Love and Other Near-Death Experiences, JPod, Ask the Pilot, The Minority Report and other classic stories, Robot Visions, Lockpick Pornography, The Polysyllabic Spree, Dungeons and Dreamers, Big Lonesome, Nothing's Sacred, Fool Moon, A Wild Sheep Chase, Living with Books, Anansi Boys, A History of The World in 6 Glasses, Paris in the Twentieth Century, Giggling into the Pillow, Monstrous Regiment, How I Became Stupid, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, The Hours, Sex and Other Sacred Games, Sex, Drink, and Fast Cars

The Cyberiad was an amazing blend of thought, scifi, and fantasy... Stanislaw Lem was really amazing. Room Temperature is... well, it's very Nicholson Baker; an intensely detailed, almost fetishistic, study in the minutiae of this life-- for this book, the details of caring for an infant. Gun, with Occasional Music was some nifty scifi noir. Love and Other Near-Death Experiences is by my favorite Mil Millington... I dig his books but the people I give them to (mostly women) don't seem to like the blend of relationship observation and embarrassment comedy. Anansi Boys was mythically brilliant. A History of The World in 6 Glasses and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again are the only bits of non-fiction here; the former is a great study of how you can match phases of human history with what beverages folk had to drink, and the latter are essays so smart that it makes me intensely jealous. Finally, The Hours was a recommend from FoSO, and I liked it... and it had been so long since I'd seen the movie it still seemed pretty new .

Comics/Graphic Novels (26)
Any Easy Intimacy, Be A Man, JLA: New World Order, Mail Order Bride, The Golem's Mighty Swing, Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl?, Lone Wolf 2100 3: Pattern Storm, Transformers Generation 1: War and Peace, Penny Arcade 1: Attack of the Bacon Robots, Star Wars Empire 5: Allies and Adversaries, Strangers In Paradise, Star Wars Tales Vol 6, 99 Ways to Tell a Story : Exercises in Style, Miniature Sulk, Superman: Birthright, The Golem's Mighty Swing, I Am Going to Be Small, Reporter / Little Back, Every Girl is the End of the World for Me, Penny Arcade 2: Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings, Lost Girls, WE3, Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?, The Invisibles: Say You Want a Revolution, League of Extraordinary Gentleman Vol 1, League of Extraordinary Gentleman Vol 2

(Some nice preview links here...) I've always liked Jeffrey Brown, though Any Easy Intimacy is kind of going over some well-worn territory, but I Am Going to Be Small, a series of single panels, was really funny. Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed? by Liz Prince was a bit like some of the Brown stuff, but maybe even sweeter. The Golem's Mighty Swing is a stylistic bit of genius, about a novelty all-Jewish baseball squad from back when baseball leagues were very different. Finally, at the end of the year with two things by Alan Moore: The Lost Girls, which is some of the most interesting and thoughtfully literate pornography I've ever seen, and then League of Extraordinary Gentleman makes me understand why the movie is held in such poor regard. (I thought the movie was dumb, but ok for what it was... but it didn't hold a candle to the graphic novel.)

(5) kirky in the moonlight
2007.01.08
Last night in Nyack I slept in my mom's living room. It has skylights and some other big high windows... great for light, not so good for washing, or video projectors during the day. (Actually during the day it's almost too bright... so far the only places where I really dig skylights are in bathrooms and cars.)

But I did get to sleep once or twice bathed in moonlight, the moon was really bright, maybe enough to read by. You definately get a small touch of something... I dunno, cosmic, or magical, or vaguely supernatural in that kind of setting. It's that great gentle glow, the photons from the sun reflecting off the moon picking up a certain... moondustness I guess.

Video of the Moment

--via Lore, a bunch of Cyriak's brilliant animated GIFs (some slightly viscerally disturbing, so be warned) set to a tune of his own devising... many made me laugh out loud, it's a real delight.

I clicked through his site, and while seeing the animated GIFs directly is a bit more "pure" than watching a YouTube video, the music and pile up effect added a lot.

I dig the Terry Gilliam influences. Sigh...if only I had the photoshop slice and dice skills, layout tools, talent, and imagination, *I* could do stuff like that.



(24) i met my old office on the street last night
2007.01.09
So I agreed to come in to my old job for a teleconference with a client I had been the primary contact for. I want to keep relations friendly with them, but I have to admit, I've got mixed feelings about doing so. There are some parallels with a broken-up romance, actually: the affair is over, at some point you'll soon you'll be in the market for a new partner, is it worth just fooling around for old times sake?

Site of the Moment

--from Indexed, a collection of venn diagram and other chart-based gags, all on scanned-in index cards. Some of them are a bit too snarky/sophomoric, but others are right on. I guess part of the charm is that they make you work for a bit to figure out "ok, what does this mean?" and then reward that effort with the punchline. (thanks Mr.Ibis)

Quote of the Moment
"If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done."
--Ludwig Wittgenstein


(4) long, long, ago... ok, a little longer than that...
2007.01.10
Had my UU covenant group last night... it was hosted by Jerry, an older member of the group (I think in his late 70s, maybe even a bit more than that.) Anyway, it was interesting, we used this set of glasses showing 10 years of the Dow Jones... 1959 to 1969, I think. It showed the monthly highs and lows and a line graph for all of those years, with little callouts showing particular events, so you can see how they correlated with the ups and downs of the market.

You don't see many people making the same kind of correlation to day to day events these days... either the market is a bit more resilient to breaking news, or it's just tough to keep track enough to make the correlation.

Anyway, one thing on the glass that I hadn't heard of was the Pueblo Incident, where North Koreans captured a reconnaissance ship of the United States.

Video of the Moment

--Star Wars as a silent movie.... very well done. Given the way the films have some roots with the serials of the past, it fits pretty well.


(7) telefission
2007.01.11
Is it just me, or is it a little difficult to talk trash about television without sounding a bit too elitist? (The whole Onion Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television effect...)

So anyway, I still have this sniffle, and my upper back/shoulder has been hurting for a couple of days, so I thought last night I'd go ahead and catch up on "Top Chef", which is about the only thing I've been purposefully tuning in for over the past year, other than sports. (Though I have been enjoying some TV-on-DVD series that Miller and FoSO have been setting up, like "Supernatural".)

Circa 1992ish, on Marnie's Family PC
I decided the difficulty of finding a comfortable position justified my not trying to multitask with reading or the web. So I just watched. But then I started to observe a bit, and I realized how crazily passive it can be, the whole "zoning out" thing. I suspect the main culprits are the commercials, especially with their sheer repetition. (There's this one Sears spot in particular, some skinny dude talking about how with his martial art "you have to be fit all over"...oddly they play that over a picture of a treadmill, which isn't much of an "all over" fitness machine.)

It kind of scared me how little thought I was doing, how I was just kind of absorbing. I mean sometimes I'd have a critical thought about the program, or work to pick up some detail of a commercial, but mostly... bleh.

This isn't meant to be critical of people who do dig TV... I know there is a lot of nifty stuff on, and it can actually be a useful form of relaxation, one of the easier and more interesting ways of getting to an alpha wave state, for what it's worth.

In Middle School and I guess before, I watched a LOT of television, the TV would be on from the end of school until bedtime. (I'm not sure if I'd be multitasking with books or legos or not then.) In upstate New York there were years where clever channel surfing would let you watch an entire evening of MASH or Benson. Those times likely helped shape me as a person, at least a bit. I don't feel I'm very good at developing stories, coming up with narratives from scratch... could being fed all those shows have something to do with it?

Quote of the Moment
"Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third eye."
--Bill Hicks... of course I saw this Slashdot fortune right before the night of Top Chef, so it may have influenced my observations a tad.


(9) she woulda screamed her hands off
2007.01.12
So I'm considering doing some hourly work for my old company. It's so odd to work by the hour, after years of salaries (even though sometimes I was farmed out per hour.) I think you'd feel a bit like a prositute, and every task you do, you wonder if it was worth what they were paying you...

Funny of the Moment
Manager: Man, you guys from Alabama are hard-core putting someone getting the chair on the back of your quarter.
Boss from Alabama: That's not someone getting the chair -- that's Helen Keller!
Manager: You guys electrocuted Helen Keller?!
--from OverheardInTheOffice, OverheardInNewYork's poorer cosuin. Still pretty funny. You know, I am probably more amused than I should be by that "MISTAKEN ASSUMPTION / CORRECTION OF ASSUMPTION / INCREDULOUS CONGLOMARATION OF MISTAKE AND CORRECTION" formula... it's pretty simple but gets me laughing fairly readily.


(1) best of
2007.01.13
So I revamped the site's best of archive. It used to be done on a "per year" basis, but I divided it into "kind" of thing.
creations digital art | comics | animations | projects | virtual toys
writing personal history | essays | technology | creative writing | introspection
other photography | snapshots | convos | videogames | misc
I then sorted each page into a roughly descending order of "interestingness". Even though I know this is probably about 20 times more interesting to me than to anyone else, I'm pleased enough with the results that I've moved the link to the top of the sidebar.

It's almost silly how long I spent on the revamp, but still, I think it was worth it, just as a way of gathering a big chunk of my creative output over the 21st century.


(3) my wild, dark-eyed misirlou ... my life changes with one kiss
2007.01.14
My shoulder and neck, left side, have been hurting me for like a week now. I think I'm getting significantly darker rings under my eyes, just from the conflict of believing that sleeping flat on my back is going to be the best thing for it with my inability to not roll to my side at some point during the night. And the way that every time I do change position, I'm waking myself up to make sure I don't hurt myself.

Music of the Moment
The surfer anthem Misirlou (massively popularized in "Pulp Fiction") made a return in that "Rayman Raving Rabbids" game for the Wii. I had no idea it was originally a much slower song about cross-cultural romance! this Dinosaurgardens page has links to some of the older, more folksongy version, as well as the most detail analysis of its history.

This is a video featuring Dick Dale who made the Pulp Fiction version, though this video lacks some things like the shouts that make that soundtrack so great...



Still, I love the lockstep swaying of the musicians. And the gal doing the Twist in front pf the group is surprisingly alluring.

Quote of the Moment
"It's odd to realize how big things can be and still fit in your nose."
--Mr. Ibis, on the breathing splints he was using following successful nasal passage surgery. Luckily, it appears it wasn't actually his brain poking out into his sinus cavity, decades after a dramatic nose break.

Yay for breathing! And modern medicine in general!



(9) dance monkey dance!
2007.01.15
It was only the other week, setting up my mom's new PC, that I realized Firefox 2 is out. I'd recommend it for everyone. From my perspective, the biggest improvements are how ctrl-F now searches textareas and every input form has built in spellcheck with red underline! I was using Google's toolbar spellcheck for that functionality, but having it happen without having to remember to click is a big win.

Software Toy of the Moment

--Pictaps is amazing... make your own Parappa-the-Rapper style dancer. This monkey is my best one so far (I also did an Alien Bill)

So many great details, like how you can watch the creation being drawn in, or how the central dancer is surrounded my a giant crowd of clones... Make your own and post the # or link in the comments!



(8) they're like garters, but...lower
2007.01.16
I find cleaning house to be a maddening production of "Short Attention Span Theater". I'll just grab this pile of books-- but where to put them?... oh look, there's some dirty dishes... better bring those to the kitchen, ooh, kitchen, the garbage needs to go out... huh, I should take care of the trash can in the front room... besides, and oh look, there are some shoes I can wear to take out the trash... hmm, that dvd stack is pretty precarious, better move that over and... hey, what was I going to do with this pile of books here again?

I guess that's where strategies such as "only touch anything once" and "start at one end and systematically proceed to the other" come from, as a way of fighting that "tangential" method of decluttering.

Ladywear Mystery of the Moment
--Photo above the "sleepwear and intimates" at the Target near my mom's. What are these? Are they just for prettifying bare feet? Are they meant to be worn with some kind of shoe?


Anecdote of the Moment
(German contralto) Ernestine Schumann-Heink was an unashamed gourmand. Enrico Caruso, another lover of good food in quantity, entered the restaurant at which she was dining. Seeing her about to begin on a vast steak, he said, "Stina, surely you are not going to eat that alone?" "No, no, not alone," replied the lady, "mit potatoes."
--via Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes. I also like her response when she was crashing her way through the orchestra pit, and the conductor hissed at her to go sideways: "Mein Gott! I haff no sideways."


(6) how about later
2007.01.17
What PCs and laptops need are physical 3 state power button sliders: On, Hibernate, Off. I mean, Windows has problems waking up anyway which compounds the problem, but still, I'm tired of going to wake up an unresponsive suspended laptop and accidentally sending it into hibernate because I hit the power button one too many times. Or the way I know I send my PC into hibernate at night only to find it on in the morning.

Formula of the Moment
U=ExV/IxD
(Desire to Complete Task (U) = Expectation of Success (E) x Value of Completion (V) / Immediacy of Task (I) x Personal Sensitivity to Delay (D))
Boingboing linked to a Scientific American article on a scientific look at procrastination... there's even a website by the guy.

I guess I don't understand the stuff in the denominator, since my intuition is that those are factors that would tend to increase the desire, rather than decrease. But I greatly appreciate how "Expectation of Success" is kind of in the driver's seat.



(4) flatpack
2007.01.18
A few weeks ago when I was helping my mom move in I had the responsibility of setting up a few pieces of "flatpack" furniture, a bookshelf and then a rather more ambitious computer desk. The desk was actually kind of a pain to get right ("no tool assembly" my left buttcheek! Maybe if I had the gripstrength of Chewbaccca...) though it ended up coming out ok.

It made me wonder, though, what the main cost savings is with these things. Passing some of the factory labor cost onto the consumer, in terms of time? The cost to ship it? The cost to store it? A kind of artificial price differentiator, so that they can charge more for the pre-assembled stuff? Or is it just the lowcost materials all around?

It's probably some of all of that, but according to some of my friends in retail management, shipping is likely one of the bigger issues. I guess shipping is by volume, not just weight, because they were talking about having to pay to "ship air" for things that are less dense, like an assembled piece.

Well, long live flatpack. The desk manufacturer had some kind of slogan like "making good furniture possible" and there is a bit of an egalitarian aspect to it all.



Slashdot Article of the Moment
Huh, some guy wondering if he can age himself out of a programming job, kind of tangentially related to the whole age discrimination issue. That's certainly a concern of mine... I don't really seem to have a management temperament, even though I feel I do pretty well as a technical lead, but at some point, people are going to start wondering why I'm content just being a developer...

(7) it's jane! and jane's bicep!
2007.01.19
Job interview today.

My neck issue seems to be going away. The trouble is that by the end I was trying multiple strategies and now I'm less certain about what's most useful to do.

Professional massage only seemed to help for a short while. I'm still less certain about my old stand-by of strict back sleeping. An anti-inflammatory Advil before bedtime seemed correlated with the improvement, along with finally getting around to using that grinding/kneading massage chairback cushion My Ever Lovin' Aunt Susan gave me a few Christmases ago. Possibly it was just a matter of time, though the discomfort level fluctuated before this.

My Doctor/Yoga Instructor gave his blessing to popping a bit of Flexeril if I thought it would help. I was thinking that the way it both lets muscles relax and fuzzes you out might help me sleep, but by the time I saw him to ask about it, other stuff was working, and it seemed like overkill.

The funny thing is my doctor doesn't think the scattershot approach is such a bad thing... he says that the goal is to just be feeling better. Still, I'd not to develop a ritual of 5 things to do every time I get this kind of pain, if only 2 of them really help.

Project of the Moment
Ok, admittedly this is nothing innovative, but assembling my "bestof" pages, plus this one montage wall I'm working on for in front of my desk made me look into making a few more of these:



The photo is in the old, Taxware parking lot, but I got clever with layers, and was able to extract this version as well:



I do dig the shot, strength with a hint of whimsy. I'm not sure which version I like more.

(I may also have been reminded of these things by a similar project by local SmartRoutes reporter Jeff Larson. At Krazy Karry's (local burger place), he has some posters up advertising his Toons for Miracles fundraiser for Children's Hospital.)

It was a lot easier using a tablet PC for this one, drawing directly on the screen, but I've been messing quite a few up, and realizing that most photos don't convert well into this format, and even when they do, I really need to think carefully about penwidth and stuff like that. So I'd say my works take a tad more skill than just tracing, but not much. (Larson's stuff is making more sophisticated use of color boundaries.)

Anecdote of the Moment
Launching a new children's book, Dr. Dan the Bandage Man, Richard Leo Simon decided to include a free gift of six Band-Aids with each copy. He cabled a friend at the manufacturer Johnson and Johnson: "Please ship half million Band-Aids immediately." Back came the reply: "Band-Aids on the way. What the hell happened to you?"
--via Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes.


(5) leading a retahded symphony
2007.01.20
The job interview went ok. The place was downtown. Man, It's a little strange being surrounded by all these well-dressed people, though I think I was looking pretty dapper myself in an electric blue shirt and dark blazer. (One thing I learned from business travel is that you can get away without a tie if you have a good shirt and blazer or suitjacket.)

Exchange of the Moment
"Women think they know by the way, which always astonishes me... women will always say 'uh, we look at guys sexually too.'"
"Well uh, they do, they do..."
"Women have NO IDEA."
"...oh."
"They have no clue whatsoever. It's like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. If women had any idea, even for a second, of how we really looked at them, they would never stop slapping us."
--Larry Miller and Jonathan Katz, on "Dr. Katz Professional Therapist". I really dig that lowkey, goofy humor, like a more tranquil Steve Martin

Teaser of the Moment
--This is likely the penultimate photo of my middle school years. Questions abound! Why the brooding pose? Why the half-tint glasses? And what's the print on that shirt? What's a Star Hop? And for the love of pete, what could the 'ultimate' photo possibly then be?
Stay tuned!


Football of the Moment
Its great that I can have a discussion in Dublin about the fortunes of the Sox, they're universal, the fan base is worldwide. The Celtics are the Celtics. The Bruins are part of the original six. But the Pats are ours. Nobody gave a rats arse about these guys before and truth be told once this run is over no one from Texas or California or Pennsylvania ever will again. But if you've sat in Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro and had to wonder whether you were doing your reproductive system permanent harm by sitting on those god awful, freezing cold aluminum bleachers, watching Tony Eason hitch up his skirt, the championships seem to have a surreal quality to them. It's like we're not only beating these other teams, we're putting one over on them.
--Sheamonu, from this thread of lowlights of Patriots' history. Makes for some great reading, especially the first five pages. What a mess this franchise has been.

If you're half as amused by townie accents, extended belches, lowbrow humor, foul language, and the love of the Patriots as I am Fitzy's Wicked Pissah Webcast 1/19/07 is for you. ("Come on, Payton Mannin', 'Sir Chokes-a-lot'? This guy drives me f***ing nuts! What's with all the handsignals and doodads at the line of scrimmage? It looks like you're leading a retahded symphony!")



(1) oregoing, oregoing...
2007.01.21
Ever stop to consider that "Hall of Fame" is kind of an odd name for that kind of honor? Not "Hall of Greatness" or "Hall of Devastatingly Awesome Football Ability, Strength, Smarts and/or Courage", just "Fame". I mean, the people there are there because of their abilities, not because of their fame, and they'd generally be famous even without the Hall.

Video of the Moment

--So winter has finally let its presence be known here in New England, albeit with bitter cold rather than large amounts of snow. But over there in Portland, OR, they've had a pile of ice to (fail to) deal with...

It's funny how plastic-y lightly crashing cars sound these days.


Anecdote of the Moment
[British tragic actress] Sarah Siddon's high dramatic style tended to spill over into her everyday life. (As Sydney Smith observed of her at the dinner table, "It was never without awe that one saw her stab the potatoes.") In Bath to play some of her favorite tragic roles, she visited a draper's shop to buy some fabric. Picking up a piece of muslin, she looked with great intensity at the shopman and said with the utmost solemnity and dramatic effect, "Did you say, sir, that this would wash?" The draper suspected that he had a lunatic in his shop. Mrs. Siddons recollected herself at the sight of his surprise, apologized, and repeated the question in a more normal voice.
--via Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes... I just wanted to say that that sounds like a fun way to be, if you can get away with it. A little obnoxious, but fun.


(4) star hop day 1
2007.01.22
So, the Patriots lost in about the worst fashion possible, letting the colts make what I believe is a record setting comeback for this kind of game after being down 21-3. That was just terrible. Chargers beat us up too much? The spa-like temperatures in the dome? (Who knew a dome team could so play the weather conditions card...) Core defensive unit getting old and busted? Dunno.

Personal silver lining: at least I won't be obsessing so much about football the next two weeks.

Video of the Moment
"I'm here to tell you a story about two people who decided to buy a starship. They buy it, and now at this point, they are somewhere in space, slowly drifting at about 10,000 miles per hour..."

--"Star Hop", sci-fi comedy play I wrote for (and also saw performed at, by grown-ups) the 10th Annual Marilyn Bianchi Kids' Playwriting Festival, as "directed" by me at Monticello Middle School in Cleveland Heights. Featuring a cameo by the director at the end of this part (the play is broken into thirds for Youtube) as a goonish security guard, toting this awesome gun.

There's a strong Hitchhikers' Guide influence here, though to my relief most of the gags seem original. "Starpox", what they name the ship, is a curse from that book, and probably makes the worst joke in the script.

The opening narration got cut out so I included the text above.

Man, were those kids hamming it up!

(18) star hop day 2
2007.01.23
I'm undertaking a giant decluttering effort. Thus far its been very successful, and my closets look fantastic. Of course, most of their contents are distributed liberally around the front room and bed room, but still, one battle at a time.

Video of the Moment

--I still think "Greenok Ug" is a grand name for an alien.


(5) star hop day 3
2007.01.24
Decluttering continues. You can tell I'm serious when I buy some kind of shelf like product, this time a sturdy ugly plastic set of shelves to replace the cool but ultimately unreliable modular cubes I had been relying on.

Quip of the yesterday, in an apology for the state of the rest of the apartment I described it as looking as if "the closet threw-up all over the front room. But now the closet feels much better."

Video of the Moment

--Final part, and bows.

I kind of dig both the brown squared off chair on the left and the big dark plastic M+M-like chairs on the right. Very space-age.

Silly injoke: "I always wanted to see the Nicholas Murray Butler museum on earth!" The previous year the drama club had done "Cheaper By The Dozen", and there was an odd line that we loved to mock, something about "Why, she even scored higher than Nicholas Murray BUTLER!"

During the bows I'm introduced as "Logan Israel"... for the 2 years at this school I used my middle name, kind of a teenage protest against moving all the time.



(6) ladyaccountant black bazmambo
2007.01.25
I don't have a great bit of ramble for here today. So I'll just mention that with the latest scam spam I got, the author writes
I am obliged to inform you that I have succeeded in receiving the funds with the help of a new partner from Paraguay. Everythng was perfectly done because we strike a deal with one of the ladyaccountant who works with the federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) and she rendered a tremendous help to us.
I just want to say that "ladyaccountant" makes it sound kind of hot, kind of that whole "sexy librarian" vibe.

Sexy Librarian Rant of the Moment
So, instead of hanging out by the circulation desk waiting for the book mistress of your dreams to materialize, perhaps your time would be better spent focusing on the oft-ignored library staff: the shelvers. We are young, we are literate, some of us actually work here because we like books. We are the ones that know the titles that the library carries, that deal intimately with the volumes themselves, sorting them, loading them, flipping through their pages and shelving them in their sacred locations. We wear the writer's glasses and discuss John Locke and Douglas Adams. We are the sexy shelvers.
--The triumphant conclusion of Debunking the Myth of the Sexy Librarian and Others... the other good word I'd put in for the shelvers is that they are people who don't mind risking carpal tunnel for a good cause.


(13) THE END. EVERYONE BOWS, ETC.
2007.01.26
So I received a verbal offer of a new job today. I had a bit of angst about it. FoSO asked, in effect "good, a new job offer, so what's the problem?"... but of course I'll always find something to worry about. (Could I have a physical addiction to worry? I wonder.)

The problem as of this morning was
A. the way I hadn't shopped around, that this was the first company I had interviewed with or even looked at.
B. it seemed like a cool role, though wasn't this kind of ideal I had thought of as a small series of "small tight projects" (not that I'm certain if it's a realistic ideal)
C. I'm enjoying my slackerly life

I dealt with A. by talking with Scott, the guy who "found" the place, and says we would have taken the offer but didn't like the commute. He pointed out that while I was taking it easy post-layoff, he was pretty much flat out in his search, and actually this was one of the best things he found, and also based on his knowledge of me, it seemed like a good match. Plus yesterday for grins I checked craigslist, and while a scan of a few days of craigslist postings doth not a jobsearch make, I didn't get the feeling that there was a trove of untapped supercool, horse of a different color opportunities there.

I dealt with B. in talking with Tim, the guy who was kind of my mentor at Refresh; he encouraged me to think through what I wanted to do, and I think this job could be a great base for a more-UI centric approach to my career that I'd like to get to

With C. I negotiated a bit, and won't have to start for 4 weeks, so while it doesn't live up to every dream I might have of a period of leisure (esp if I do some work for my last company) It ain't bad, and if I apply myself I should have time for a fair number of the projects, self-improvement and otherwise, I'd like to get done, and maybe even some travel.

The job is downtown, Back Bay... there was a time, post-9/11, when that would have made me nervous, but I think I'm fine with it, it's just my usual need to worry kicking in. Based on the non-rushhour interviews, it's maybe an hour each way, but an hour of public transportation beats half an hour of driving. I can take a bus to the T stop, or walk, though it's a hike; I might look to buy a beater bike.

So...yay for me!

Script of the Moment
It was at this time that the writer of this play, realizing that he couldn't finish Act I without a lot of lasers, blood and guts, and other things that make people go out and pay to see "Star Wars," wisely decided to have me come out and say that there was actually no laser battle, and that the officers accepted a small bribe, made up with Zim and Erik, and had a good, hot meal, and everyone thought that they were getting a pretty good deal. However, the Star Cops left before our stars could ask them how to fly the ship. We now return, about two hours later.
--Narrator, from the script of Star Hop that I transcribed the other week.

Just to wrap up "Star Hop", I wanted to throw in the cast list: (I figure there's a small chance one of these Monticello / Cleveland Heights people will Google their own names and find this:)
STAR HOP
by Logan Israel


Erik Cabett Joey Fasimpaur
Zim Horace Adam Goodell
Ork 7AB Bob Ziegler
Greenok Ug Amy Wynne
Star Cop Officer Melissa Porter
Star Cop Assistant     Logan Israel
Narrator Tiffany Miller
Ghost 1 Alison Martin
Ghost 2 Ebony Wimbs
Ghost 3 Ken Taylor
 
stage crew John Romanoff, lighting


directed by Logan Israel

Staff Drama Coaches: Georgie Adamsom and Sharon Collins

Make-up crew: Julie Tricarici, Merideth Koch,
Lori Patterson, Kasha Williams, Megan Hanger,
Maxine Peatross


Finally as threatened, the ultimate photo of me:


It has it all... stage make-up, general blurpiness, outstandingly hair styling with mousse that has given up the fight, holding flowers, flashing the Vulcan salute, and a shiny jacket with pins, a too-cool-to-smile, not-cool-enough-to-scowl expression. As published in my school's paper "The Monty Times", though I also have the color original.

So the version of the play I've been showing this week was at my school, on a twin bill with "Best Friends and Other Strangers" by Dionne Custer and Meredith Howard. I played the father role in that, and had a somewhat bigger part than in my own play.

Final note, I noticed the Bianchi festival put me at the top of the bill that year, with most of the other plays being in order by grade. Guess they wanted to start with a laugh, which would make it a bit of a compliment.


(7) if they should bar wars, please let these star wars stay
2007.01.27
Oh boy it's the weekend!

Oh wait, I don't have to care about that yet.

Star Wars of the Moment
For the next 20 years, as far as 3PO knows, he is the property of Captain Antilles, doing protocol duties on a diplomatic transport. He is vaguely aware of the existence of the princess but doesn't know much about her. Wherever 3PO goes, being as loud and obvious as he always is, his unobtrusive little counterpart goes with him. 3PO is R2's front man. Wherever they land, R2 is passing messages between rebel sympathisers and sizing up governments as potential rebel recruits - both by personal contact and by hacking into their networks. He passes his recommendations on to Organa.
--from A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope. It goes to explain how Obi-Wan's primary goal is making sure Luke doesn't turn into an evil Sith kinda guy himself, and how Chewbacca is the rebellion's chief field and espionage agent, with Han as his frontman.

I dig reframings of the Star Wars story... I posted some before, plus Boingboing linked to The public choice economics of Star Wars.


More Star Wars of the Moment


Even More Star Wars of the Moment
No video, but... Bill Murray covers the Star Wars theme... love the lounge.


(10) we are experiencing technical difficulties...
2007.01.28
As many of you have noticed, I've been having some technical difficulties with the site. (I knew I was taunting Murphy by entitling a recent entry "THE END. EVERYONE BOWS, ETC.", even if it was the close of that play.)

Yesterday the site was mysteriously down for most of the afternoon and evening. It was back last night, but apparently the fix involved some kind of change in the calculation of my disk usage quota... as in, suddenly it decided I was many megabytes over the limit. As I tried to diagnose the problem, the quota issue caused me to accidentally zero-out the script that glues together the front page. Oops!

There was a silver lining to it all... a guy (an Australian police officer, actually) wrote me wondering if my mortality guide had been relocated. Later he mentioned that he had been Googled on dealing with mortality and found the (then broken) link. That was heartening for two reasons... 1. that people will Google for those keywords, and 2. when they do, my page on it is the first match.

Video of the Moment

--An austic woman shares her "native language", and then offers a translation, or at least an explanation... for the first part it seems like an odd, almost shamanic performance piece, but then around 3:20 the explanation, typed by the artist and read by a computer voice, kicks in, and it's really something.
"My language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It is about being in a constant conversation with every aspect of my environment, reacting physically to all parts of my surroundings."
The thing is, even that makes could read like the "author's note" on an art piece, but this woman has a much more serious agenda, the way our culture hands out the label of "non-person" (or at least less of a person) and in general is fairly restricted in its view of communication and thought.

I have to fight the urge to use my rationalistic brain to "argue" with some of her points, try and explain why the communication "NT"s (Neurological Typicals) employ is probably more useful, that there are reasons why we feel compelled to define personhood in terms of certain modes of thought etc... I think it's good exercise in being human for me to just listen, and accept, and also to appreciate how fluent and eloquent this woman is in a written language she doesn't consider her native tongue.

The Metafilter piece I got this from has some further thoughts, and her personal website is worth checking out as well.


(8) high hobby horse
2007.01.29
Decluttering. It's kind of stalled and I no longer have the excuse of job interviews and stuff like that. It had been going so well though! Must willpower my way through this.

Next target: a milk crate full of neglected Atari 2600 games that I generally have emulated as well. The only thing I want to keep around are multiplayer games (admittedly a bit optimistic, but I hope that retro vibe can hit now and then among some of my gaming buddies) and the hardware itself.

On a video game message board, one that's prone to over-analyzing and sometimes pretentious pondering, "Nana Komatsu" wrote (in a thread on looking for "spiritual uplift" in games)
I've found that we sometimes outgrow our hobbies and yet because we feel attachment to them we try to find things that are not there.
Boy. Ain't that the truth. Like Arlo of "Arlo and Janis" said:
As I get older, I don't enjoy the same things I once enjoyed.
But I enjoy new and different things!

I just don't enjoy them as much as I used to
enjoy the things I no longer enjoy.
I think that can be part of a defensive mechanism as well. Hobbies help form our identity; unlike family and job and even friends, a hobby is a deliberate choice, a specific and focused decision to divert attention and resources into an idiosyncratic pursuit.

Sometimes I feel as if turning my back on old hobby is a rejection of the "old me".

Sometimes I feel like rejecting the "old me" is more difficult than it should be, that it forces me to admit I'm fallible in ways I'm not entirely comfortable dealing with. Which is a pathologically off-kilter way of being, but I don't know if a force of will could shake that, and I'm afraid of what kind of external event it would take to put me on sounder footing.

(Which is crazy, right? I mean I admit that I'm wrong all the time, but I think it's some kind of subconscious effort to lose the battles and win the war, of some sort of insane superlative pedestal my self-image tries to insist on.)

Any of you know what I'm talking about there? Is it that unusual? Some sort of horrific side-effect of being an only child growing up in neighborhoods without a lot of kids?


(10) eat food. not too much. mostly plants.
2007.01.30
Decluttering stumbles on. Sorry if you all are sick of hearing about it here.

I realize that I've lost some of the sense of "NO MERCY" that I had last week. I stacked up 3 computer keyboards. One is a Microsoft split keyboard that I will likely take into my new job, so it gets a pass. The other two are normal, flat ones; I think they came bundled with PCs but I put them aside in favor of the split ones. NO MERCY! When you A. don't need it and B. could buy a replacement for $4 at Microcenter if you DID need it, there's no way that that item is "paying its rent". (The question then is, do thrifts accept them or not.)

Almost as tough: old broken laptops that would cost more to repair than to replace. Especially that little iBook that was in most respects a better web-browsing "living room" machine than any PC. NO MERCY! Just a question of how to best dispose of it.

My Ever Lovin' Mom wrote "I'm still cheering on your de-cluttering. Your newly organized home should be a nice jumping off point for your new job." That's an encouraging way of thinking about it.

Article of the Moment
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

That's the lead-off summary of Michael Pollan's article Unhappy Meals. (Here's the bugmenot page for NY Times.) I'm glad Nick B LJ'd it, I didn't pay enough attention when it was boingboing'd.

There were a lot of interesting ideas to take away from the article.
  1. As a nation, we've let food become as political as the global warming "debate", with the meat and dairy industries exerting political pressure to shove official committees from their original unbiased conclusions.
  2. The article is fairly damning of reductionist science, at least in fields of nuanced and complex interactions. Or even just how the assumption that everyone's nutritional needs are about the same is flawed. (I have to envy Tim, who claims to have honed the skill of listening to what his body is craving, because his body is clever enough to associate its nutritional needs with the appropriate foods.)
  3. It's amazing how we've learned to dupe our bodies, to create artificial products that have such high concentrations of yumminess but just don't meet our nutritional needs.
  4. He points out that half a century ago, people would spend a quarter of their budget on food, and nowadays it's more like ten percent. And that's parallel to why the food industry is the way it is... in order to feed the population (think back to those predictions of mass famine and starvation from the 1970s) we've been using a lot of nasty chemicals and other tricks.
  5. One way of thinking about the diet change: we eat more seeds, and less leaves than ever before in our evolutionary history.
This ties into a conversation FoSO and I had the other week, where she encouraged me to start trying to get some kind of rudimentary cooking skill going. Of course I have to admit that I don't appreciate food enough; with my "interesting"-based mortality, I need to make a deliberate effort to invest the money and time that eating well would require.

Sometimes I think back to the "caveman diet" my mom was on when they were testing her for allergic reactions. Is that a better way to be? The article talks about how many "traditional cuisines" seem to have the best of both worlds...

Photo of the Moment

--Not a terribly impressive photo, but I enjoyed realizing that every rowhouse on this stretch of my Aunt and Uncle's street is a different color of stone. Across the street, it's all just brick.


(11) i just lost an electron! are you sure? i'm positive!
2007.01.31
You know, I've been told that the assignment of "positive" and "negative" for electrical charges was fairly arbitrary, but I'd say whoever did it (Franklin, kinda-sorta, by my understanding) screwed it up; at any rate I think the idea of positive bundles of energy, electrons, orbiting negatively charged nuclei is somewhat more aesthetically pleasing than the reverse, which is how the conventions actually work.

Passage of the Moment
Look at life from our perspective, and you eukaryotes will soon cease giving yourself such airs. You bipedal apes, you stump-tailed tree-shrews, you desiccated lobe-fins, you vertebrated worms, you Hoxed-up sponges, you newcomers on the block, you eukaryotes, you barely distinguishable congregations of a monotonously narrow parish, you are little more than fancy froth on the surface of bacterial life. Why, the cells that build you are themselves colonies of bacteria, replaying the same old tricks we bacteria discovered a billion years ago. We were here before you arrived, and we shall be here after you are gone.

--"Thermus aquaticus" (a species of bacterium) as channeled by Richard Dawkins in The Ancestor's Tale. (Eukaryotes are organisms made up of one or more complex cells; all animals, plants, fungi, etc are eukaryotes.) The entire book is a biological riff off of "The Canterbury Tales", with the story of various other species and how they've evolved in myriad and marvelous ways. It's a time-reversed pilgrimage, each tale coming at the point where we have a common ancestor with them.

He admits that focusing on the evolutionary path of humans is a bit biased, certainly not justified in terms of biomass (he quotes Robert May: "to a first approximation all species are insects", though I think you'd have to qualify that a bit, at least to limit it to animals...) and misleading in the sense that thinking of humans at some kind of peak of evolution is incorrect.

Doodle of the Moment
--In decluttering I found this doodle-riff from a dental diagram ("indicate missing teeth"? Ugh!) I vaguely remember making years ago

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