31 July 2011

Some bugs in the internet

A friend of ours, Molly, posted on Facebook a picture of a snail that was hiding in the greens she'd just bought at Whole Foods.  This reminded me of the time, a few years ago, I'd picked up some black trumpet mushrooms from the farmer's market.  The mushrooms grow as tiny, flared tubes (like little black trumpets, natch?), into which, over the course of their lives in the leaf fodder on the forest floor, fall all manner of arboreal dander.  So, it's recommended that you bisect the tube, to brush out whatever has clogged it.  And, in this case, what had clogged it, and fell out, scrambling, onto the kitchen counter, was something that looked like a tiny scorpion! It was only maybe 3mm long, and had no tail--a little tick-shaped lobster.  Not especially threatening--but utterly freaky!  I thought maybe I'd cleaved off its tail when I split the mushroom, but it looked uninjured and whole, relatively comfortable with its taillessness, if not with its sudden homelessness. 

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I... I think I brushed it into the sink and washed it down the drain... I must have been rushing to prepare dinner, is my excuse for... uh... not building it a little terrarium, yeah!

This was in the days before my life included MacBooks or Google, and it didn't occur to me, until Molly's snail story, to get a gander at what the web had to say about "tailless scorpions".  Googling that turns up a lot of results about "tailless whip scorpions".  The first few pages of image search results were almost entirely of that creature, which, despite its taillessness, and the wiki-claim that "they are totally harmless to humans", has very long legs and an unmistakable resemblance to an Alien facehugger,  thus appearing far more sinister than, er, a little tick-shaped lobster.  But not too far down, there was a picture of something a lot more like what I saw:

I was happy to learn that this picture was taken by someone who, coincidentally, found it in a mushroom he or she was preparing for dinner--like, oh, okay, we've established that's where those things live, glad to know it!  Brush your mushrooms!  But what I especially enjoy about this photo is that it came from a forum for the North American Subaru Impreza Owners' Club (NASIOC).  It sounds like an example pulled from a Clay Shirky book, extolling the new social bonds facilitated by the web--or maybe it only illustrates the weakness of those ties, as per Malcolm Gladwell--that someone cooking dinner finds a critter in their food and decides to share that news with whoever else on the continent drives the same car as the cook.  I mean, obviously, it speaks to at least one great strength of the internet, that of crowd sourcing.  There aren't a lot of folk around the house for me to ask about this bug (and I'm not liable to find much help if I cart it in a jar to the next Jaycee's meeting), but--welcome to the future, today!-- I can ask, pretty quickly, a broad cross section of... Subaru drivers.  And it works: it only took ten minutes from the time this cook asked what that thing is, before a "Scooby Newbie" (which is, I guess, a recent purchaser of a Subaru--one who may, before long, graduate to "Scooby Specialist", or even "Scooby Guru") identified the bug as a pseudoscorpion.

Who doesn't love Wikipedia (I mean, maybe, besides those who turn first to the NASIOC)?  As someone with trouble isolating exactly what I'm interested in, I'm so delighted to have everything there, at any given time.  I'm occasionally inspired to do small edits, here and there, mostly grammatical.  I've given in to Jimmy Wales' pleas for donations.  The project's virtues are extolled in a Clay Shirky book all its own.  I frequently respond to queries at work, rhetorical or not, with, "That sounds like a question for Wikipedia".

I'm not sure what's my favorite thing to have learned about the pseudoscorpion.  Maybe it's that they're  harmless to us, and even beneficial, by virtue of preying on smaller vermin?  Or that they spin themselves little silk igloos when it gets cold?  That "were first described by Aristotle, who probably found them among scrolls in a library where they would have been feeding on booklice"?  I dunno.  I also learned that they breathe like insects, through spiracles, little holes on their exoskeleton, and not like their closest relatives, the spiders breathe, with "book lungs".  Who knew about book lungs?  Turns out they're evolved from "book gills", like you might see on the bottom of a horseshoe crab!

Yeah, I know you're bored.  Anyway, while I was poring over all this, Deb was pulling up a video of the lifecycle of a pretty caterpillar we found along the road on Angel Island, a few weeks ago: a pipevine swallowtail, identified following the top result in a Google search for "northern California caterpillar".

(Stick with it: they look more attractive when they grow up.  For what it's worth, I recommend muting the video, and instead listening to Pilooski's remix of The Alan Parsons Project's I Robot, part of an excellent Pilooski playlist, here, which I happened, by chance, to be streaming at the time.  The beat goes well with the fast motion clips of the little caterpillars feeding and molting)

I'd somehow come to believe that caterpillars all wove themselves cocoons before becoming butterflies, but this video (and Wikipedia) reminds me that "(m)ost moth caterpillars spin a cocoon made of silk within which they metamorphose into the pupal stage. Most butterfly caterpillars, on the other hand, form an exposed pupa, also termed a chrysalis."

Anyway... that's about it.  I guess this is just another long-winded "Yay, internet!", in the end.  Bugs and all!  One day, maybe, I'll stop being impressed by the firehose of information, and just accept it as the water we swim in.

26 January 2011


Xeni mentioned on BoingBoing, that Pandit Bhimsen Joshi passed away a couple days ago.  He's a classical Indian vocalist.  I'm fascinated by a lot of modern Indian culture (in my typically flighty, attention deficient fashion), and by the arc the nation is taking, internationally, economically, politically, this century.  I've honeymooned there, and would love to go back plenty more.  However, my familiarity and appreciation of Indian music is mostly relegated to the output of its various regional filmi industries.  While I have a few Ravi Shankar albums, and have enjoyed some dance performances by Chitresh Das, my awareness of Indian vocal styles largely consists AshaLataKishore, and R.D.  So, in the examples included in the memorial post for Pandit Joshi, it was educational for me to hear someone using his voice like Shankar uses his sitar, establishing the modality in the alap section of a raga.  It was interesting, too, listening to some bhajans Pandit Joshi sings, in an extensive Youtube playlist that includes a lot of Panditji (along with Lata, and Shankar, and, oddly, videos from some Italian rock band), to hear him singing in unison with the tanpura, or harmonium, rather than in the call and response, which, it seems to me, is how the members of a classical Indian ensemble seem to go about establishing the modalities in their ragas.  But, honestly: I'm writing at the outer reaches of my grasp of the art form.

Last night, we started listening to the khayal Xeni embedded atop her post.  A khayal apparently starts with something like an alap, and that's what most of this first 9 minutes of the khayal seemed to consist of: droning subtle variations, in which Panditji establishes the key with his accompaniment (or something like that):

Deb said to me, "It sounds like--", and I completed her sentence, "Like Bieber 800% Slower?"  She said, "No, like Trololo without Autotune".  I feel like I run in circles that get all that, but it may just be Deb and me (at least here, in meat space).

Bieber 800% Slower popped up, or rather blew up, on the interwebs, when someone apparently used some fancy free software to slow down a Justin Bieber hit to 1/8 of its original speed, without altering the pitch.  The original song is called U Smile, and I'm not sure if I'd ever heard it before (I'll admit to being aware that there's an incredibly popular kid around, name of Bieber, and that there are a lot of lesbians with his haircut, but I don't know much more about him than that).  At any rate, it's unrecognizable, in it's new form, which is full of cymbal washes and cathartic crescendoes of vocal drone.  It's also some 35 minutes long.  I can't find it on the web, anymore, but I put my own copy up, here.  It's pretty beautiful, mellifluous stuff, suitable for meditating, in the same way you might so deem the Vilambit Khayal, above.

Now, Trololo without Autotune is another matter entirely, and is not especially soothing to listen to.  It's based on...  Well, knowyourmeme.com has an excellent history of the thing put together, worth reading and learning from.  I'll just note that it originates in the pleasures of this video:

So, along came someone making the ridiculous suggestion that Eduard Khil, the singer above, was actually using autotune to stay in tune.  The proof is this video, in which the autotune has been turned off:

I just think that's flat out hilarious.  I can listen to either of those versions on an endless loop.

Anyway, here's my tribute to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Brahman rest his soul.  It is perhaps flawed by my own failure to grasp the modalities of a khayal, but is imbued with the naïve glee of musical ineptitude, the desire to prolong youth, and the wisdom of many years.  In this spirit, I present Khayal+(Trololo-Autotune)=USmileSlowly:

Deb thinks she hears ghosts in it.  Ken, at work, says it sounds like the demons in my head.  Well, they're having fun, ignorant li'l runts...

18 October 2010

We Can Only Win If We Truly Cement Our Artificial Distractions Into the National Identity

 It's so satisfying when someone picks up some good ol' corny humor and proceeds to take it to a whole 'nutha level (even if that level evokes Godwin's Law, or reductio ad Hitlerum):

(copied and pasted from weekendnazi's YouTube channel)

I was listening, last week, to John Stewart, interviewed by Terry Gross, at the 92nd St. Y, in NYC.  He spoke of a game the Daily Show staff play, along the lines of, "How will the Democrats fuck it up?"  In the current election, with the gifts of weirdness that are Christine O'Donnell, and Carl Paladino, obviously the Democrats will fuck it up by focusing far too long on witchcraft and bestiality jokes, and not nearly enough on delineating how they intend to address people's concerns about the economy; or on how the Republican candidates, Tea Party or not, are campaigning on behalf of the selfish interests of the very richest Americans.  Of course, I imagine, it's hard for a Democrat to point that out, when the Democrats, themselves, are running, by and large, on behalf of the same selfish interests.

There's a good investigative report out today, built around the "jailhouse confessions" of the dude who, in July, got in a shootout with CHiPs, on his way to kill the leaders of liberal organizations in San Francisco, organizations alleged by Glenn Beck to be fomenting a Marxist takeover of America.  I'm coming to terms with the received wisdom that "ya gotta laugh, to keep from crying".

(downloaded and reposted from YouTube, in anticipation of possible DMCA takedown.  See more at http://www.rebelliouspixels.com/)

Swiftian times demand Swiftian solutions!  The best satire, I suppose, uses the target's own words.  Beck sums it up well, noting that, "it's all fair use," and, "the truth will set you free!"

(also reposted from YouTube, for reasons listed above)

Of course, the answer to all this ridiculous fearmongering (if it isn't to ridicule said ridiculous fearmongering), is to monger some fear about vast right wing conspiracies, like how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is coalescing into the face of multi-national corporate political power in Washington.  Read Robert Reich, on the Secret Big Money Takeover currently under way, or Charles Ferguson's look into Larry Summers' "subversion of economics".  Visit the website for Ferguson's new movie, Inside Job, and find a ton of educational links about how our economic morass continues to serve to consolidate wealth at the top.  Follow Krugman's metaphor for America's economic outlook, that the inability of politicians to advocate any spending for the social good, is akin to steering the nation into a dead end tunnel, and adopt a stance of radical pessimism...

I may be there, already, but I'm hoping having a laugh about it won't completely negate my political effectiveness (such as it is).

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rage Within the Machine - Progressivism
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

The most depressing thing right now, is that I'm not able to adjust my upcoming family visit, back east, to a month earlier, so I can take in the Rally to Restore Sanity...

28 August 2010

Blat sex

(based on the novel Push by Sapphire) 

"Neco (Caio Blat) se surpreende quando a amada Violeta (Maria Flor) diz não ser mais virgem e o seduz".  I think that means he's surprised to find she's trying to seduce him out of his virginity.

 I can't say I was ever a very diligent blogger to begin with, but lately, much more of my tepid blogular energies are being spent over at NBSigns, where a friend is encouraging me to engage in a sorta rudimentary "social network marketing" campaign.  Thus far, it mostly involves my blogging at least once a week, and then her linking to the post from our Facebook page.

So, it's funny to me that, in a brief fit of wanting to write about something not directly work related, I put up that last C'mon, Live a Little! post, only to have gotten something like triple the page views I've ever reaped.  I mean, we're still talking under 3 figures, but it even got a complimentary comment from Derrick Bostrom himself!  Granted, it's sort of a closed loop of inter-referential compliments, there, but hell!  It's weird and exciting to get called out by such an esteemed fellow.

Anyway, amidst the torrential hub-bub, I spent some time scrolling through my slim stats, on StatCounter, where I learned a lot more than expected, about the tiny spot of traffic I've attracted.  I picked up that, besides commenting on my own blog post, Mr. Bostrom had also Tweeted about it, and that led to a number of visits.  I learned that someone in Canada had searched for "recalcitrant bohemian" and my post about starting the NBSigns blog, came up as a result--but they didn't click through to it.  A couple of Israelis were interested in my Shabbos recipes.  And I learned that the top result in a Googling of "blat blog", leads to a NY trombonist's blog.  Sensible that.  Seems I might have hi-jacked some Czech traffic that might logically have been looking for him (seeing how big brass bands are in the Czech Republic of my imagination).  FWIW, he plays ukelele, too.  And people in Lesotho might be looking for him, as well.

Perhaps least surprising is that, besides the C'mon, Live a Little! post, my distant second most popular post is, naturally, Sex Movies.  There are, however, a couple of unexpected details in that: most of its traffic came as a result of Google searches for some combination of the words "blat" and "sex"; and the blat sex searches seem geographically centered in the middle east.  On the west end, there's someone in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and a couple folk in the Netherlands.  Way back east, there are hits from Thailand and Sri Lanka, but in between, you'll find Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan, all host at least one seeker of blat sex.

14 August 2010

C'mon, live a little!

(based on the novel Push by Sapphire)

O happy day!

I ran out of fresh podcasts yesterday, and I just wasn't feeling the usual musical suspects.  A lot of folk might turn to the radio--online, airwave, or otherwise--under such circumstances, but I've somehow accumulated a couple months worth of 24-hour days of music in my iTunes library, with another couple months worth of podcasts.  Not an especially large library--looks like it'd still fit on a 160GB iPod--but plenty big.  And a quick scan reveals all the broad empty spaces I'd known were there, along the "play count" column.  I feel like such an indiscriminate tune hog!  Take and take and take, but when do I listen?!  Bah!  Only all the time, if just to a rather small segment of the collection.  It only means that hitting shuffle, or just playing roulette down the menu, is always likely to yield something new, or at least out of the ordinary.

On the other hand, even when I crave the new, I'm still a fan of the familiar.  So, I paid a visit, way down in the alphabetical basement of my podcast list, to Your Favorite Little Podcast.  I hadn't played that in a while, I thought.  Turns out, it might have been, like, a year or so.  Oh, in fact, I can tell: the "last played column" indicates the most recent play (outside the half dozen I just listened to yesterday), was the last day of March, in '09--shortly after Episode 15 was released, which seems to be the last one made.  I'm pretty sure I've played some of them on the iPod since then, for brunches at Sea Ranch over Labor Day...

07 July 2010


(based on the novel Push by Sapphire)

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, & Commerce (RSA) apparently has someone do animated storyboards for the series of lectures they host. This was brought to my attention twice this week. First, BoingBoing posted a link to a Marxist critique of late crises of capitalism (which I followed through to a rebuttal to its rebuttal), and then, someone from church sent a link to a similar storyboard for a lecture on cross-cultural perceptions of the passing of time. I'm not sure I'd have been able to sit through either lecture attentively without the animated storyboard. Actually, I found myself pretty well distracted by the drawing process anyway. Inspired, yes... but.... Well, I don't know if I retained a whole lot of what they're talking about, but I can certainly enjoy watching it again! They have a playlist of such RSAnimated lectures, along with the non-storyboard versions, on YouTube.

The one embedded above resonates, as I'm headed into the woods this weekend on a purpose hunt, a vision quest. I didn't find its "truth" all that surprising: apparently, what motivates us is having a sense of purpose. Well, duh. I still can't reconcile my craving for motivation with my mysterious aversion to it.

I knew a hypno-therapist at one time, who said he was very good at helping people quit smoking--so long as they were motivated to quit smoking. He offered to hypnotize me out of whatever habit I long to discard, with the caveat that I must be motivated. I couldn't then convince him--nor have I yet convinced myself--that I'm motivated to be motivated!

Is the answer somewhere in the woods?

Soon see...

02 July 2010

Vision Quest Film Fest

I remember seeing Rivers and Tides in the theaters, when it came out in 2001, and really enjoying it then, but I hadn't seen it since. Fate or circumstance brought it to mind last week, and Deb and I found it was up on Netflix Instant Watcher, so we watched it straightaway. I gotta tell ya (so I am), speaking as someone preparing to wander off into the woods, to build some sort of ritual out of communing soulfully with my natural surroundings, to ceremonially give witness to a change of nature within myself, as it is reflected or amplified in that environment--I can't imagine a cinematic experience more conducive to establishing such a frame of mind!

If you're not familiar with the movie...

26 April 2010

FontCast #12

(based on the novel Push by Sapphire)

FontCast #12 — Damon Styer from FontShop on Vimeo.
Oh, how I cringe at the sound of my voice, coming from outside my head. Many thanks to Stephen and Chris, and their editing help, for distilling a mostly intelligible five minutes out of an hour-plus of blather!

In other sign movie news, the folks, Faythe, Sam and Travis, filming a doc about sign painters around the country, stopped by to film the shop last week. We don't anticipate they'll have quite as speedy a turn-around as the FontShoppers.

24 April 2010

Hyperbole and a Half

(based on the novel Push by Sapphire)

Sometimes I get an idea, like, to subtitle everything with "based on the novel Push by Sapphire", and I think I'm funny, then I read someone like this and I'm gutted by how sorely I fail at funny.I mean, it's not that she's the be-all and end-all of funny, or anything... Ah, screw this! I don't know when to shut up. (Did I say it all? I don't think I said it all. What all is there to say? Let it rest already! What kind of funny do you think you're trying to be anyway? "Funny-uncomfortable"? "Funny-annoying"? "Funny-you-hope-everyone-recognizes-but-you"? No--I just wish it was as easy for me as that chick makes it seem)

17 April 2010

Shabbos recipes

So, last night, our Integral Awakening Group celebrated (as mentioned in a previous post), a Shabbos (or Shabbat, or Sabbath) dinner, practicing our mindfulness and presence with the deliciousness and abundance of pot luck dining with friends. We ate a lot of good food, drank plenty good wine, and were encouraged to share recipes with one another. So, I'ma strike while th'iron's hot, while the processes are still fresh in head, and also because this is how I traditionally celebrate my Shabbos--by spending much of the day on the couch writing wordy emails and occasional blog posts. I don't know quite how true to the Shabbos spirit my practice is, but it feels more than a bit like I'm getting things done, without actually working... I guess I'm straining to exert mastery over words, so in that sense, I'm 'failing'...

Whatever. Here, enjoy some good food:

15 April 2010

Ye Olde Tea Party

(tote bag available thru gemmabear, on Etsy)

I never expect to learn much out of the Chronicle, but here's an item they pulled off something called the History News Service, that gave a little bit of context I hadn't heard before, about the Boston Tea Party:

The original Boston Tea Party was also partly a reaction to a government corporate bailout. Britain's huge East India Company was in big financial trouble, and English policymakers feared the impact failure would have on the economy. So in May 1773 Parliament passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to sell tea directly to American colonists. The additional business would help the company stay afloat, the empire would get its taxes, and, because middlemen would no longer be taking a cut, colonists would be paying less for their tea.
Bostonians had no stake in the London-based East India Company, just as most Americans today see little benefit from the large Wall Street financial firms. Bostonians resented the tax, even though they paid much less in taxes than British people did, just as many contemporary Americans resent today's federal taxes, notwithstanding that Americans have a lower overall tax burden than any other developed nation...

10 April 2010


I'm awful keen on things lining up, on serendipity, coincidence, or whenever it is that what's floating about over here, pops up over there, too. I know Tim Kelley encourages us to recognize these instances as indicative of "flow", of our somehow working in concert with the universe, and thereby, more purposefully; or, at least, to heed their call to "pay attention to this".

Bearing that in mind, since joining the Integral Awakening Group, I'm frequently delighted to find how the themes we're discussing in a given week resonate through other conversations in other corners of my life; and also, how often the assorted mass media I absorb expands on those themes. To wit, a few months back, when we were first reading, in Soulcraft, pp. 167-172, about "talking across the species boundary", I spent a long day of painting, listening to some podcasts I'd cued into a playlist, that went from a Radio Lab episode called Animal Minds, to a Fresh Air profile of Temple Grandin, to a Radio Lab short, The Shy Baboon. I was just catching up on shows I hadn't listened to, but it turned out all the shows were exploring different aspects of how we communicate with the animal world.

03 March 2010

Show Proposal

We had to write a "proposal" for our show at the Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, despite already having the show set up. I guess it was for publicity purposes, maybe? Or record-keeping? I volunteered to write it, and asked everyone why they wanted to put a show in a gallery, and then tried to phrase it in a way that made sense and incorporated something of what I enjoy about sign painting. Here's what I came up with:

We'd like to do a show about sign painting.

Signs, like any kind of advertising, and most of design for that matter, employ aesthetic concerns to achieve directive ends, perhaps to elicit an emotional response, often one conducive to the more rapid flexing of your purchasing muscles. The "signs, signs, everywhere signs" that ever increasingly break up the scenery, whether or not they're even so bold as to call attention to their own physical beauty, typically do so on behalf of some corporate entity, big or small, wishing you to ascribe whatever design sense is evident in the sign, to the quality of their goods or services on offer. The "language" of signage, meanwhile, encompasses a constantly evolving and multiplying variety of materials and methods to communicate ornately complex nuances of meaning to a bewilderingly polyglot populace.

We sign writers, here at New Bohemia Signs, are a comparatively simple lot--not precisely Luddites, as much as that we perhaps tend to focus more intently on some of the most rudimentary parts of sign language, or any language: the little squiggles, curves and strokes that form our alphabet. Our tool chest holds brushes, enamel, some gold leaf, and not much else; and we're each harboring a cultured intimate familiarity with, and to some extent, abiding love for letter forms, which themselves take shape from the habits our limbs have fallen into, drawing and painting them again and again and again and again and again.

We want to build a show that illustrates something of the path whereby our signs move from idea to sketch, to pattern, to painting; a show that makes apparent the relationship of letter forms to the arc our individual arms take, or to the way we each roll a quill between our fingertips; a show that celebrates, from amidst this digital era of limitless copiability, the joy of fine tuning the only copier that draws its current directly from our hearts.

We relish the opportunity to put our work in a milieu that calls more attention to the concrete shapes of one color against another, and that lends more weight to the aesthetic pleasures of sign painting, in counterbalance to its purposeful functionality. We like to juxtapose the two ends of that scale. We like how the results of our "outmoded technology" of sign making draw out certain feelings, due perhaps to the "human-ness" of the work, and how that is in some way cued by the shapes letters take, and have taken historically, in lending themselves most readily to graceful brushwork. We'll enjoy exploring the craft of sign painting under the rubric of art.

On the walls of the gallery, alongside and underneath finished work, we'll mount patterns, sketches, practice alphabets and iterations of finished work in its earlier stages. We'll also mount one of our workbenches, which will hold some signs, and will also serve its innate purpose for a few evenings of on-location sign painting instruction, and/or souvenir production.

15 February 2010

Sibley labyrinths

Deb and I spent some of our Valentine's Day afternoon over at Sibley Volcanic Preserve, an erstwhile rock quarry, since returned to nature, in the Oakland hills.

I can't remember where I first got the idea to visit this park, sometime in the mid 90's--it may have come up in a conversation about nearby hiking spots, while at a barbecue with friends at Tilden--but the surprise and awe I still recall registering, at coming across the labyrinths tucked away in the various quarries therein, has me remembering that no one had mentioned them beforehand. This can't be true. I can't now believe that someone would recommend visiting Sibley without also mentioning the labyrinths...

I've only been there maybe three or four times since, years pass in between; but I remember, that first time, getting some unusual help in appreciating the place as a sort of resource: I feel like we'd maybe been taking the least "up" of whichever forks the path took (although, again, there's not much trust to be placed in my memories of this), and thus had stumbled across three or four "lesser" labyrinths before we topped a small berm and looked down into the deep quarry home of the Big One. The other labyrinths had been some peculiar pieces of geo-art to find unexpectedly in the wild, fun things for hippies to do with rocks, and fun, too, for the rest of us to find, in their far flung locales--kinda like anthropogenic twists on the natural order, like, if you've ever taken a long hike in the Sierras, across broad granite surfaces where no trail is evident, and found your way marked with small cairns. But this bigger labyrinth, situated on the floor of the deepest quarry, had at its center a little pile of... tchotchke? Sort of a little altar, an agglomeration of odd items items mixed in with the rocks. I remember digging through it and finding all sorts of small treats. One of them was a tiny black plastic box with a button, which, when pressed, spoke something along the lines of "take something and leave something". It was revelatory.

24 January 2010

Tab Parade in the Clouds

My laptop broke, sometime in December. I think I'd done some grocery shopping at Costco, and the bulk packages filled up the pannier space in which the Mac would ordinarily fit, so I foolishly strapped it in, under the lid, but atop the bags--I got most of the way home before it tumbled out onto the street. The dents looked pretty ugly, but when I got home, I was still able to push all the peripherals into their chosen slots. Nonetheless, it froze up when I popped the lid (it had already had some troubles under a previous owner, including body damage, so "popping the lid" means removing the rubber band that straps it shut in transit). However, curiously enough, the next day, it returned to normal. I immediately took the opportunity to back up to Time Machine, not expecting to duplicate the start-up success, but it kept on trucking for another few weeks. Then, one day at work, it had a "kernel panic". I only know those words because a client happened to be in the shop at the time and recognized the message flashing on the frozen screen. Ever since then, it makes the noises (the orchestral "dunnnn") of starting up, and the fan whirs to beat the band, but no screen ever appears.

It's been a couple weeks since I tried now... maybe today? Nope.

I've been waiting for a basic MacBook to show up among the refurbished itemes on the Apple website, but they're few and far between, so weeks have passed now, wherein I've been stealing time on Deb's computer at home, and laying out patterns on Scott's computer at work, while I dream of one day "getting a good deal".

On Deb's Firefox browser, I opened a separate window for the tabs I tend to accumulate in browsing; but I haven't been doing a very thorough job of reading and deleting those tabs--even the tabs I've read and may want to keep, I've been hesitant to log bookmarks for, since I'm not using my own computer. The other day, I inadvertently clicked the red button to remove the window, instead of the yellow button to stow it in the dock, and a message popped up, saying "you are about to delete 61 tabs". I canceled.
Okay, all that stuff's gonna have to just sit in the library for now. There's no way I'm going to read through all the materials on 61 tabs anytime soon. So, I'll use this post as a bookmarks folder, that I can dip back into, if and when I ever end up replacing my old laptop. I'll eliminate some of the weak links, putting this together, and in the meantime, maybe someone else will find something interesting among the tabs below:

02 January 2010

Erring on the side of "do"

I was just absorbed in reading thru all (or most) of my old posts, mostly as a way to avoid having to write a new one; but the task seems unavoidable: I don't know if it's seasonal, or cyclical, or what... It doesn't seem to happen on any sort of reliable, regular schedule, and it has failed, as yet, to become a self-reinforcing habit, but every so often, the urge to blog arises, "every so often, it feels like the reasons to write gain enough weight to tip the see-saw's end up out of its muddy wallow", as I wrote so long ago in one of the earliest of numerous posts bemoaning my posting infrequency, and yet, still, the see-saw refuses to continue rocking of its own accord...

Well, anyway, I've definitely been agitating for some action on this front--perhaps it's the turn of the new year, the season for resolving this, that and the other. The closest to a resolution I've been able to verbalize, is to err on the side of "doing".

22 October 2009

Prominent Aeronautical Disasters in History

I threw this together this morning, thinking t-shirt or poster. I was inspired by the latest adventures of Der Untergang:

That YouTube embed has apparently been removed due to bogus DMCA takedowns.  I had enough advance notice to have pulled a copy off the web and am re-posting it here, where it's less likely to be noticed by law-abusing copy-grumps:

For more information about the removal of Hitler parodies, due to bogus DMCA takedown notices, you might still find a YouTube video here (which, having downloaded,  I'll re-post later, if I notice the link's gone dead).

Here's another video that hints at some of what's stupidest about copyright law, as it stands:

And here's a more scholarly explanation of how to cite fair use, in opposition to such takedowns:

16 October 2009

News from the East

Mom visited a museum exhibit about Princess Diana, in Philadelphia recently. Among the artifacts was a room full of condolence books from around the world. She was excited to report that one of them lay open to a condolence signed, "Love, Damon and Debbie". I had a hunch that, although there may well be plenty of "Damon and Debbie" couples in the world, it might possibly be related to the British soap opera characters of the same names.
I think it was pulling up the Wikipedia page for Damon and Debbie, that inspired me to google my name. I came up with this Chinese language article about the sign shop. I could recognize other names mentioned in the story, which indicated that this was either written by or copied from someone who had actually spoken to me about sign making. I used Google's convenient translation tool (which popped up alongside the search results), to generate this, entitled The Charm of the Traditional Identification:

07 October 2009



frakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrak, batch-horse COUNT!


Those words, sanitized for my parents' sensitivities, comprised a few of my early thoughts, some spoken aloud, others not, as this morning, for the first time ever, after having biked in SF since '91, and less than a month after getting my first new bike since '93, I plowed into a car door, swinging open in my path.

A quick survey of joints and bones suggests nothing's broken. I've got a nasty laceration in my right ring finger 2nd knuckle (assuming knuckles are counted starting from the tip... oh yeah, I guess it's the 2nd either way. Okay, I'm a little shaken up), but I can't see any bone peeking out in there. So, I cleaned it up and put on a butterfly closure, a Band-Aid, and a splint for good measure (prob'ly unnecessary, but it'll elicit sympathy and maybe generate awareness of checking your goddamn side view mirror, even tho' she says she did; plus, I get to complain about how hard it is to type, and I'm always scouring for misbegotten reasons to complain).

My right bar end got twisted around, but everything else seems normal on the bike. I'll try to drop it off at the Basement today, and get it checked out, since I haven't even had my introductory tune-up yet.

So, in short: lots of initial shock, but fairly minor injuries all around. I didn't even manage to leave a decent scratch on her door. But, man--for those first few "fraks", I thought for sure I'd broken my hand.

Oh yeah: this happened just after turning east on Mission, from S. Van Ness, exactly where last month, the front cog of my old bike spat a few teeth into the street--leading to my finally splurging on a new bike, after all these years. Something good may ultimately come of this dooring incident, too, but just the same, I think I'll avoid that intersection from now on.

29 September 2009


This morning, I got an email from Mom, something with multiple 'FW: Fwd:'s in the subject line, about a song "written by a 13 years old boy". It had a couple of links, to a ".wmv" file and to a ".txt" file, both of which required downloading. Against my better judgement, and because I'm in a band with a 14 year old boy (and have been since he was 8), I downloaded and watched the ".wmv" file. It was a maudlin video of some British lad, Declan, presumably a creation of Pop Idol, or some such program, asking repeatedly, why certain bad stuff exists in the world.

I replied as follows...