I got the job at Amazon!

I started at Amazon.com on May 22, 2006. So awesome. Yes, kiddies, I moved to Seattle. (And basically didn’t tell anyone I was leaving. Sorry if that wasn’t very nice.)

Anyway, Amazon.com treats their employees pretty well. New hires are stored in facilities like the Shelby, which is a pretty decent apartment building. I think I like living in the city. The biggest problem is the rental prices. Belltown is a historic party zone just minutes from downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, a dozen Starbucks, and an extremely cramped RiteAid pharmacy. I looked at renting a studio in the Shelby and they wanted $945 for 430 square feet. That’s less than the surface area of an ironed-out Sharpei.

We’re still trying to figure out what my day-to-day role is — most teams in my organization don’t have a specialized HTML/CSS person, so I’m going to cross-train with the software engineers on our projects. A major tool for this will be code reviews … hopefully I can share some knowledge without turning into the Markup Nazi. (“No more TABLEs for you — 1 year!”)

Will write more later … this weblog will be the main way of staying in touch with everybody.

Always Caturday

This song is dedicated to /b/.

Always Caturday

In the place that I call home
The cats are everywhere
Today is always Caturday
Furry purry everywhere

Caturday, restful Caturday
And if my kitty sheds
then I’ll chase him away

Eyes are glowin’ in the dark
On my chest up at 5am
Purr so loud it wakes me up
He wants to be fed again

Caturday, oh stressful Caturday
And if my kitty sheds
then I’ll chase him away

Cats are growlin’ in the hall
Hissin’ clawin’ rivalry
Alpha cats jus’ can’t back down
And they think that I don’t see
Lick each other peacefully

Caturday, peaceful Caturday
And if my kitty sheds
then I’ll chase him away

In Defense of “A.I.”

Many people have faulted Spielberg for the feel-good ending of A.I. but this is not entirely fair. Kubrick’s working title for this project was “Pinocchio,” and theme of wanting to be loved was his.

These comments in the Kubrick FAQ describe the problem Spielberg inherited:

It was the relationship between David and his mother that most occupied Kubrick and [novelist] Sara Maitland. An alcoholic whose ‘Bloody Mary’ cocktails David would mix for her in a vain attempt to win her affection. The mother was the to be emotional center of the film that would eventually come full-circle.

At the story’s conclusion, the robots that have inherited the Earth use David’s memories to reconstruct, in virtual form, the apartment where he had lived with his parents. Because his memories are subjective, the mother is much more vividly realized than the father, and his stepsister’s room is not there at all; it is just a hole in the wall.

For Ms. Maitland, the film would end with David preparing a Bloody Mary for his mother, the juice a brighter red than in real life: “He hears her voice, and that’s it. We don’t see him turn to see her.” Kubrick, however, wanted a coda in which the new race of robots, because of a technological limitation, cannot keep the mother alive after reviving her. The movie would end with David in his mother’s bedroom, watching her slowly disappear.

Ms. Maitland was displeased this scenario, and was furious with Kubrick for insisting on it. “It must have been a very strong visual thing for him,” she says, “because he wasn’t usually stupid about story. He hired me because I knew about fairy stories, but would not listen when I told him, ‘You can have a failed quest, but you can’t have an achieved quest and no reward.’ ”

Kubrick’s Pinocchio enters the world in a dysfunctional family. Can he win his mother’s love? Nope.

Spielberg’s change was to change the mother. When resurrected for one last day of quality time, she . Did she love him? She responds that she always had. They fall asleep together, Teddy turns out the light, and the fairy tale ends.

If Spielberg destroyed anything, it was the last 30 seconds.

Review: Amazing Magnets Superball kit

Dan’s Data reviews the Superball kit: “It’s shiny. It’s weighty. It’s geometrically… intense. And although it looks like something a Man In Black would use to store spare singularities, you can actually build it yourself.”

Amazing Magnets seem to be a perfectly good source for these things, and their extensive line of steel balls is a neat addition. They don’t have any really huge NIB magnets, but that’s really just as well; giant NIBs just want to smash themselves, and you. They’re about as fun to play with as alligators.”

See also his review of kittens. (thanks Tim 🙂

eBay item 3873979525 – STAR WARS LANDSPEEDER

From the eBay auction listing:

Harley Davidson powered “Star Wars” Landspeeder / perfect for “Burning Man” art car For Sale !! […] I have to sell the Landspeeder because I’m building a full-size mockup of the shuttlecraft Galileo used in the original 60’s Star Trek series. But Punkin’ says there’s only room at our house for one sci-fi vehicle.

Let’s keep Punkin happy and pool our lunch money for a good cause!

This vehicle is not considered street legal, unless you live in a location which allows golf-karts to be driven on the street. Check your local regulations.

from your friendly neighborhood Russian gift shop

These Matrushka dolls are sure to bring on another bout with Beatlemania.

Set of 5 dolls depicting the Beatles

A phrenologist’s dream.

forgot to archive this image

This artist decided to roll back to their early wardrobe. But at least they gave it a good try, even going so far as to extrapolate the existence of a mascot.

You can actually buy these, along with other figures from entertainment and politics.

'All the President's Inquisitors'

animation project outline

Working title: SGT. ZENO

Synopsis: A police officer (Zeno) pursues an armed criminal through the night city. Tires squeal and the criminal hits a building in the crowded square. Bystanders scatter in slow motion. He escapes on foot, and Zeno is forced to open fire.

— Or is he? As the incident progresses, time continues to slow, like a graph approaching infinity … shadows crawl … pupils linger on each detail … faces are sculpted by impressions too slight to be felt themselves … heartbeats mark the passing seconds. As the gun is raised and the tendons contract, as we hear the trigger begin to slide, Zeno’s expression changes to one of recognition, and we are left with the question: Was he able to avoid firing the shot?

Technical notes: This is a LOT of work if you think about it. The events have to be storyboarded down to the split second, and the slowing pace fine-tuned to enhance the action, rather than obscure it. The face and body language of all participants, including crowd reaction, has to be modeled convincingly. The sound has to work perfectly at speeds below the typical slo-motion sequence. The pistol mechanics have to be understood, which means digging through somebody’s film archives. And the whole point of the exercise is to have the faces tell a detailed story of sub-thoughts and sub-emotions congealing into behaviors.

Don’t even ask about the film noir lighting — that’s an entire study in itself.

Start date: Spring 2009 (tentative).