| < retrospect: 24 apr >

(4) load and lock
My bike lock succumbed to salt and I replaced it with a Wordlock brand steel cable lock, where you can choose your own 4-letter word, with each letter drawn from a pool of 10 possibilities.

Here was each set of letters:

I ran that against a list of the 5,000 most frequent words in English, and in order the 360-odd make-able words were:

that, they, from, that, what, make, will, time, when, them, some, take, than, like, then, more, want, look, more, find, here, many, well, tell, work, last, feel, when, most, mean, same, seem, help, talk, turn, hand, part, most, week, work, play, like, hold, must, home, book, word, head, line, lose, meet, team, best, lead, sure, walk, food, foot, send, home, fall, plan, late, hard, pass, sell, mind, pull, free, less, full, form, site, base, land, wall, test, film, tree, look, soon, less, term, well, fire, bank, west, seek, deal, past, fill, drop, plan, fine, than, dead, fund, list, hard, loss, deal, bill, miss, sort, dark, help, form, seat, that, firm, ball, talk, head, base, play, best, deep, past, heat, fall, whom, test, beat, tend, task, shot, born, wind, fast, like, bird, hurt, turn, date, hole, park, boat, wood, farm, band, tool, wild, tiny, feed, shop, folk, warm, past, deny, burn, shoe, bone, wine, mean, hell, fire, hire, will, lean, tall, hate, male, lots, fuel, pool, lead, salt, poll, desk, like, last, mark, loan, deep, male, meal, link, file, duty, wake, warn, meat, late, part, host, hall, tank, bond, file, mean, seed, busy, mass, tone, hill, hand, land, milk, mind, weak, list, wrap, mark, diet, post, dark, bike, link, mass, lake, bend, walk, sand, pose, sale, mine, tale, pass, dust, sure, boss, mood, boot, bean, peak, wire, holy, toss, bury, pray, pure, belt, moon, soon, line, date, pink, poem, bind, mine, drop, fast, flat, snap, teen, bell, beat, wind, lost, like, pant, port, dirt, pole, bake, sink, tire, free, hold, mask, load, fate, poet, mere, pale, load, flee, plot, palm, pile, fund, mall, heel, tent, bite, pine, boom, host, wise, firm, sake, dare, mess, hunt, pill, bare, shop, pump, slam, melt, park, fold, dose, trap, lens, lend, warm, last, leap, past, pond, dump, tune, harm, horn, beam, fork, disk, hook, mild, doll, hers, bite, fist, bold, tune, hint, peel, bias, feel, lamp, pump, silk, wake, hook, seal, sink, trap, fool, mate, slap, heat, barn, post, lane, seal, bull, loop, pork, seat, lion, harm, sort, soap, shed, heal, damn, mill, hike, tray, sole, weed, deem, pile, fame, toll, butt, bulk, part, poke, fare, soak, slot, tile, till, bolt, till. Oddly the word I chose was a real world that wasn't on the list, so maybe my method wasn't so good.

I know this lock isn't too secure, but A. I want more flexibility than with a U-shaped lock, B. my old steel cable lock probably was only a minor inconvenience for a thief and C. it's a cheap bike.

  ...of the moment  
"He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes"
--Varys on Littlefinger in Game of Thrones
"The old scholar was watching the noisy young people around him and it suddenly occurred to him that he was the only one in the whole audience who had the privilege of freedom, for he was old. Only when a person reaches old age can he stop caring about the opinions of his fellows, or of the public, or of the future. He is alone with approaching death and death has no ears and does not need to be pleased. In the face of death a man an do and say what pleases his own self."
--Milan Kundera, from "Life is Elsewhere"
"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as barrels..."
--Roger Ebert, from his famous review of Freddy Got Fingered

via-- man that's a tall bike! Lauren Garside's new favorite thing.

(2) the motion of the ocean
At a recent UU thing, someone mentioned this story that I didn't recall reading in Tuesday's with Morrie
"I heard a nice little story the other day," Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait.

"Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air–until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.

"My God, this is terrible," the wave says. 'Look what's going to happen to me!'

"Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, 'Why do you look so sad?'

"The first wave says, 'You don't understand! We're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't it terrible?'

"The second wave says, 'No, you don't understand. You're not a wave, you're part of the ocean.'"
It's really difficult to put aside our own egos enough to embrace our part-of-ocean-ness!

And I would say that's also part of my problem with Abrahamic religion as it's usually played in the West. With Original Sin thinking humanity is depraved and apart from God. We're all our own little puddle apart from The Ocean, with the promise that if we're good we'll get to all hang out forever 'cause God will stop evaporation.

  ...of the moment  
"The wind that pushes against you is the thing that lifts you up! That's science!"
--Red Cross Street Walker on a windy day at Copley Square
"That's the weirdest proclivity that you have. That I know about."
--Amber on how I like to peer into her mouth when it's open for a big yawn

(1) and they say there's no such thing as progress
-Nice information to know -- but I realy wish it was median income and life expectancy, and not the average. If everyone in your country is dirt poor except for a few small pile septuagenarian bajillionaires, you've failed as a nation.

  ...of the moment  
"Man, if I were president I would totally push to make Kindereggs legal in this country." "That's... only one reason you're not president."
--Me and Amber just now
"Could you clear the table?" "Sure! [takes plates to kitchen] [bam] [rattle]" "No... the dishwasher is clean." "[elttar][mab]" "..."

(5) a banner year
Man, remember banner ads? These were 2-10 of's 2000 best of. (#1 was an HP printer butterfly java applet that I can't find a working copy of.)

Whoever I got this link from on twitter pointed out the guy in number 10 is kind of nightmarish...

  ...of the moment - fundraiser to kick off a reloaded version, 88% of the way there...

"Would you have liked any help?"
--Man to disgruntled looking woman finishing up folding laundry in basement, New Yorker cartoon (April 26 2010 issue) Brilliantly concise!
Guys with wood chipper working in back lot all day, still not done. Plus it makes me think of Fargo...

(1) "somewhere, andover the rainbow"

--It was a great time for rainbows in New England last evening.

  ...of the moment  
A buddy of mine (I'm applying at his company actually) kayaked into work today. That is just plain cool.
The trouble with being neurotic/paranoid "maybe they're talking about me" is that every once in a while you're right... intermittent reinforcement FAIL
"So you want to save the Earth,for YOUR KIDS" "Isn't that what's really important?" "Not to the Earth."

(10) creamygoodness
What is it about me and chocolate?

It ain't just like, the cocoa, 'cause I've been digging on Lindt's White Chocolate for a while now, and to the purist, that ain't even chocolate.

It's not just sweetness, 'cause hard candy doesn't come close to scratching that itch.

Texture? I dunno. For a while I thought it was, like, chewiness, but fruit gummies ain't it either.

My current favorite theory is that it's the creaminess, the texture and fatty-sweet mouth feel. Which would explain why I've been able to drop the sugar from my iced coffee as of late, but need the milk. Also, "creaminess" is what I really dig in a white wine -- some chardonnays have that. (It doesn't quite explain why creamy hard candies like Werthers don't hit it either, but maybe it's a combination of creamy but yielding.)

Reading of the Moment
So I finished Moraini's "Meeting with Japan" -- turns out I misspoke earlier, he was an Italian, not an American, visiting Japan 15 years after being held as a prisoner there along with his family during WW2. Very good read, though, a very thoughtful gift from EB.

Interesting quote from it, on Japan's response to Christianity:
If the Christian doctrine is so important, so runs the Asian argument, how did it come about that our ancestors were deprived of it? On the other hand, if our ancestors saw things rightly, can this new teaching really be so important?
(This came up in a discussion I'm involved in on a small political-ish website.) It's a good question, and one that needs to be answered by anyone who holds a specific Deist belief that claims it has the unique claim on truth. (People who will at least give lip service to a "many paths" interpretation are excused.)

Another thing I was tempted to quote here was his quoting the nine types of Chinese Dragon, and their use, but you can see it here in this Google Book excerpt

Random Photos of the Moment
This is a Harvard School of Public Health building. The wall has such an odd texture, as if it was a drop cloth with square bits sticking out behind it...

Kate admires this scooter, the Piaggio MP3 (presumably no relation to the music file format.)

Artsy light on a Mass Ave bank in Arlington:

Finally, pseudo-gothic shadow on Wigglesworth St, where I'll be moving in a few months.

(4) sprung!
Summer was so here yesterday, and today as well.

Besides the joy of wearing sandals, I think what I was most missing was seeing shoulders. They're a terribly underrated part of the body, sensual and expressive without being blatant about it. Some people look for the first bluebird of spring, me, I'm on the hunt for the first shoulders.

Yesterday was kind of amazing though... not just the multitudes casually taking in the sun or going for a jog, but it seems like many sports teams picked the day to start their practices as well. As if some giant switch had been flipped...

I wonder. Does the grueling winter add that much to the appreciation of the warmer weather, or should I just move some place that's closer to this all year round? My friend Andy moved to Atlanta, he claims the people are just friendlier outside of New England, as if the layers we put on during the harsher seasons carry a metaphysical weight that lasts the whole year long.

Blog of the Moment
--A blog inviting you to Judge a Book by its cover, general publishing industry snarkery from a public library librarian. Great stuff.

International Politics of the Moment
Slate on the rise and fall of Boris Yeltsin... or at least his reputation.

I heard someone thinking that Putin was trying for a clearly illegal fourth term (he's finishing up his sketchy third claiming that the two-term limit didn't apply since the Constitution hadn't been set up at the outset) but now I hear he'll pick an heir apparent and back him.

Reminds me of how some folks wanted to remove the two-term limit for Reagan. Not sure if the same thought occurred to Clinton fans (though in 2003 he said that he'd like it to be a limit on consecutive terms)

(5) monkey boogie
Video and Quote of the Moment
"Monkeys whose brains have evolved to such an umanageable size that it's now pretty much impossible for them to stay happy for any length of time. In fact, they're the only animals that think they're supposed to be happy. All the other animals can just be. But it's not that simple, for the monkeys..."
--Dance, Monkeys, Dance I liked the (literally) old school slide format, with the little "beep" for each slide. (I also liked how it pointed out in terms of nuclear war, "so the monkeys wage war... the monkeys make hydrogen bombs... the monkeys have got their entire planet wired up to explode... the monkeys just can't help it.") (Thanks FoSO!)

Quote of the Moment
"Man, as we know him, is a poor creature; but he is halfway between an ape and a god and he is traveling in the right direction."
--Dean William R. Inge... a similar if slightly more optimistic sentiment than the video's

(15) age of anxieties
Ramble of the Moment
I made the mistake of bringing What the #$*! Do We Know!? for psychotronic movie night the other week. It turns out it's a big infomercial for "Ramtha" and related thinking...Salon magazine really rips it a new one, and although it was a bad movie, it was great movie night fodder. Though too many of the laughs might've been cheap shots about the Marlee Matlin, the deaf actress for the main character. (I was amused to see Ramtha has his own IMDB entry..."Primary Photo Not Submitted" indeed.)

Anyway, the film really took too many liberties with "quantum physics", but one idea I've been thinking about is being addicted to certain behaviors. They gave a neurochemical explanation that I don't know enough about to really judge, but sometimes I think I'm addicted to anxiety, in a real and physical way.

It's not fun. It's not like I'm happy to be anxious, except maybe on some weird meta-meta-level I can't even feel. But it feels like I have this free floating need to be worried and some vague concern--generally something real, but distant or unlikely, or something small but likely that I'm blowing out of proportion--

I wonder when this started? Because around 1997 or so, I remember people commenting how "up" I always seemed, just whistling and bopping along. I still bop along, but I think there's a lack-o-lacksadasicalness I no longer pull off very well.

My personal crackpot theory? Y2K's too blame. Not since my parent's not letting me watch the post-nuclear-war miniseries "The Day After" was I that fearful. I read too many of the wrong websites and had too much faith in the reliability of systems in use (i.e. so reliable that backup plans and workarounds weren't available) that I thought some serious chaos was likely. (Here's my September 1998 Loveblender Ramble trying to spread the bad word.)

Around that time, roughly at least, my blood pressure went up--from something surprisingly good to pretty mediocre. For a long time, I sardonically noted that this also corresponded with me going to the gym regularly for the first time ever, but now I wonder if it's just plain old anxiety.

After Y2K, it was mortality in general...barring some surprising advances in technology, I will be shuffling off this mortal coil someday. Now I'm proud of my response to this anxiety, I reconsidered my philosophical outlooks and really worked to get a sense of perspective and came up with The Skeptic's Guide to Mortality. Then of course WTC gave everyone a case of the willies, as much for what could happen next than what had already happened.

Since, it's been a few things. Every once in a while I'm grabbed by something really "menacing", an EMP strike that melts all the electronics in the hemisphere, the asteroid strike, the supervolcano, etc etc. But more often it's just the fear of job loss, or...hmm, come to think of it it's that job loss thing that really gets to me, even though I know I do have potential Plans B through G or H or so that should do ok at keeping me from utter destitution. (Sometimes just the specter of a forced lifestyle change seems absolutely haunting!)

Logo for the "Nuclear War Fun Club"--detail from a notebook back cover I decorated in high school... using hypothetical branding to cope with big dreads! (Linked image is a little large, but potentially interesting)
Though I can think back to some elements of this that precede my awareness of Y2K...dread about nuclear war (oh man...I forgot that for years any loud airplane sound scared the bejeebers out of me...maybe that was the missiles coming in? Later, after I had matured past the concern, my buddy Mike pointed out that the missiles I should worry about travel much faster than the speed of sound. Though the Emergency Broadcast Signal can still make my heart leap into my throat.) And in college I remember wanting to find out, is there anything about the make up of AIDS-like viruses...deadly, but with hugely long dormant periods...that makes them less likely to be spread like the flu? So it's always been an element to one degree or another.

Sometimes I wonder if anti-anxiety medications would be a reasonable "life style" option, something that would actually improve my general sense of well-being (or maybe just my blood pressure!) without bringing on a whole host of problems on its own. (The latter being Evil B's take on it.)

(13) it was a great day
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, 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 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 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.)

(11) physics and biology
Family Anecdote of the Moment
One winter day my mom was driving by then invalid and half blind dad, when they hit a slippery patch and the car wheeled around, eventually almost ramming a wall into the passenger they where outof control, my mom heard by dad go "oshitoshitoshitoshit" and afterward she was curious:
"Did you just feel the car going out of control, or where you able to see it?"
"Betty, I'm blind, not stupid..."
--Just wanted to get that written down, but didn't feel like retroactively editing yesterday's entry. Thanks for all the warm feedback on that.

Funny of the Moment
"Hey, it's your old friend Darkness. Dude, give me a call"
--From the Letterman Top Ten List "Top Ten Messages Left On Paul Simon's Answering Machine"

Article of the Moment
I linked to a higher level Salon piece a week ago, but The Chronicle of Higher Education had a much more detailed and interesting piece about The Mathematics of Marriage. (Enjoyably titled "Every Unhappy Family Has Its Own Bilinear Influence Function") You have to throw in a constant for how happy or unhappy a person is on his or her own (the "uninfluenced steady state"), and then study how they interact with each other in a conversation. Amazing stuff!

my god, it's full of stars... ...or not
Windows Toy of the Moment
I've already posted some of the work (great virtual art toys) of an instructor of mine from Tufts, Jeffrey Ventrella. Somehow I missed this little Windows app: Fluid Dynamics, "A 2D Fluid Dynamics Model for Animation Based on Intuitive Physics". The Windows simulation only 167K, though it seems to be a bit of a resource hog when it's running. Still, it's a really great visual effect. Something about the choice of visual representation reminds me of stirring stars around in a 3D Galaxy, I'm not sure if the depth effect is on purpose or not.

Movie Quote of the Moment
"We pass the time of day to forget how time passes."
--Hipolito in Amelie. Mo and I walked down to the Waltham cinema to see it again last Sunday. Great flick, too bad it didn't get any Oscars.

(1) this land
Quote of the Moment
"Well, in conclusion I would just like to say that I don't think you guys oughta take comic books so seriously. I mean, dig on 'em, look at 'em, swap 'em, trade 'em, collect 'em, but don't take them so goddamn seriously. Comic and science-fiction fans of the world, get laid!!"
--R. Crumb, interviewed by Peter Kuper
Not that I'm really into comics anyway, I think it's good advice in general.

History of the Moment
Last night Mo and I went to see O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coen Brother's (who made Fargo) retelling of the Odyssey, with a really enjoyable streak of bluegrass. It got me thinking about Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land. There are two versions of it. Most of us know it as a kind of hooray-for-the-USA song from elementary school, but originally it was more of a Socialist Response to "God Bless America". You can see a little more information here.

This verse sticks in my head:

Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted, said 'Private property.'
But on the other side it didn't say nothing.
This land was made for you and me
Good song.

KHftCEA 1999-04.1 April

KHftCEA 1999-04.1 April

"Evaporation is God's paper towel"
-Dylan Murray
Book of fun poems: "Polkabats + Octopus Slacks" (from NPR)

< retrospect: 24 apr >