Archive for the ‘created’ Category

A prime year for “Us”…and with only odd digits in ascending order

September 19, 2018

A year ago, it seems that I was pretty frustrated. And come to think of it, I have my frustrations now, but they are quite different. After listening to this year’s Kol Hadash Rosh Hashana evening sermon [MP3], I can see more clearly that my worries last year were very much “Me”, and this year’s are a bit more “We”. But, to summarize the sermon bluntly, AND(ME,WE) > OR(ME,WE).

Last year I wrote about how oppressed I felt by a number.

This year, we made ceremony come alive through music and memory, filling our home with the smells of our seudah hamafseket, “separation meal”, and the words of Itzak Perlman.

This year, we remembered our ancestors–the words they have said and the people who are gone–together over light, and drink, and food.

This year, we made an aspirational Ashamnu acrostic together as a family.

This year, we made an inspired playlist to share new and old words about forgiveness, confession, and other High Holiday staples.

And this year, I still looked in the weirdest places to find strange or new meaning for an arbitrary cut in time.  And found a beautiful one much closer than I expected.

There is still so much work to do, and still so much to be mad about. But this anno mundi year is a year where I can work on “Me” as well as “We”.

G’mar Hatima Tova.


Our aspirational Ashamnu for 5779 Anno Mundi.  May this year be a year of Action, Bravery, Calm, Dance, Exercise, Fun, Gratitude, Harvest, Inquiry, Joining In, Kickass Naps, Letters, Music, Nurturing, Organization, Practice, Quiet, Rest, Sleepovers, Thoughtfulness, Us, Vulnerability, Writing, X-rays, Yoga, and Zeal.

Computer Poetry? Oh 01101110 01101111 01100101 01110100 01110010 01111001!

February 28, 2014

Computer poetry isn’t bad poetry. In fact, it’s not even un-human in many cases:

There’s some amazing poetry on the linked to site,, and I encourage you to check it out.

Can you write a program to create a human-like poem? Can you write a poem that’s totally computer-like? Put your attempts in the comments!

%   Created by David A. Gross. Copyright 2014.

T = 15;    B = 5;    L = 10;
enjamb = toeplitz(1:(T+2*B),(T+2*B+1):-1:2)';
enjamb = enjamb(randi(10,T+2*B,1),:);
A = [ repmat(' ',L,B) ...
      reshape(char(randi(255,L*T,1)),L,T) ...
      repmat(' ',L,B)];
A(end+1,:) = [repmat(' ',1,T+2*B-13) ' said the cat'];
A(sub2ind( ...
    [L+1,T+2*B], ...
    repmat((1:L+1)',1,T+2*B), ...

gives us:

          ñ          2s˜]ŸÊUK²]2©
          Pb          \caRRH_Y¡ô
          t          W[L‹Nžç{mڅõK
          Ì          D—rŸŽR¹ƒ¬¿-+Å
          ý          ×JA}1¥ŒD©¨ëë
                    õû–©˜¤?ç§ö˜jê F
                       said the cat

Anyone can say poop and be funny

January 6, 2014

Image from: The Poo Prejudice | The Arid Land Homesteaders League

Image from: The Poo Prejudice | The Arid Land Homesteaders League

My partner @opsimaths found this gem, and not since last year’s poop transplants have I seen such a strong science/poop crossover story.  But language is so interesting.  When is it better, or more useful, to use “excrement” for “waste”, “poop” for “fecal matter”, “take care of business” for “excretion”?

Click through to see various bloggers’ treatments, and check out a much more extensive list of poop names here.

My thought, though, is that writers have to deal with poop carefully.  A poll from PoopReport suggests that 92% of respondents are not ambivalent toward poop.  Whether they think it’s funny or gross, there exists quite of bit of language that especially invokes the yin or the yang of animalian digestive tract waste products.

A theatrical director and good friend of mine told me once that “Anyone can say poop and be funny”.  This was in the context of trying to stop using it to get quick laughs.  When an audience laughs at poop when you say it, it usually has nothing to do with you being a special snowflake comic genius.  Instead, it usually has to do with the universality of people’s responsiveness to poop: anyone can say poop and it will be “funny”.

This is surely an oversimplification, as is any reduction of “two sides of a thing” to that of an explicit dichotomy, or yinyang.  I’d love to have the time to write some longer creative pieces that try to explore the ideas of waste/poop each in a funny/repulsive light, but I’ll put some rough experiments in the comments.  I encourage you to experiment as well, here or in the safety of a smaller or larger audience.

Poop strong.

HSMF 2013 was gross (the fun kind)

July 12, 2013

July 4th weekend means grilling, fireworks, and drinking.  That’s if you don’t go to High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, CA.  If you do, then July 4th weekend means hyperbolic, superlative-laden band descriptions, over 100 hours of music and musicianship that actually earns such praise, camping adventures, the best festival food around, and some of the most beautiful California scenery there is.

I’m talking about High Sierra Music Festival, and this is my seventh time attending.  This is not the kind of festival that you wait for the lineup to sign up for:

“Are you going to High Sierra?”  


“But who’s playing?”  

“I dunno–it doesn’t matter.  We just go.”

This year was no exception, and the lineup was phenomenal.  Notably, I’ve marked (at the link) which shows I went to and I’d highly recommend that you check out those (and other) bands.

Robert Plant has still got major pipes.  The Revivalists have some serious gusto.  The Hot 8 Brass Band knows how to party.  Primus rocked the house.  Mike Dillon Band made punk trombone make sense.  Thievery Corporation can make anyone move to the beat.  And Lee Fields & The Expressions know the magic of soul.

Not only is there music–there’s food.  Amazing food.  Ghanaian, Southern BBQ, Organic, Raw, Blended, Fried, Iced, Brewed–you name it.  Everyone of them had a tasty dish to sustain us through the weekend.  And then there are vendors.  Sandals, clothes, wraps, skirts, henna, massages, you name it.  And then were these sunglasses who made 20x what they asked for on Kickstarter.

But what are the major things to take away from this year’s High Sierra?  This is the key list of “do’s” that will make for, in the future, a great HSMF 2014:

  • Bring tarps.  Ground cover isn’t important, but shade is.  Camping in the right spot (Hillsides) will let you string them up for a shade complex above your communal area
  • Bring rope.  See above.
  • Plan on eating some festival food.  It’s just too good to pass up.  In other words, if you’re going to bring prepared food, or campsite food, it’s just not realistic that you’ll eat every meal from your personal stores.  Having said that, I really could eat the bean salad we brought like every day of the week.
  • Bring a shovel.  If you’re planning to camp at Hillsides (which you should) you’re going to want to do some terraforming.  Life at 15-20% grade is doable–45% is not.  But also: leave no trace!  You can figure out how to balance those things out for yourself.
  • Camp at Hillsides.  Did I mention this already?  Shady Grove used to have a stage, and the Meadow fills up on Wednesday afternoon with the early arrivals.  Hillsides is appropriately private, but with enough neighbors to ground you and a legitimate view of the Main Stage experience, right from your home away from home.
  • Drink water.  It gets hot up in the valley, there.  Water is free from spigots all over the fairgrounds so bring at least _one_ water bottle and just don’t forget to keep filling it up.
  • Bring clothes / sleeping gear to keep you (very) warm. It gets cold up there at night: much colder than you would expect given the highs that can be achieved during the day.
  • Walkie Talkie’s are a plus.  Cell service is poor up there and I doubt you can keep the battery charged for four days without awkwardly stealing power from the side of the Funk’n Jam House or sitting in your hot car for an hour.
  • Bring a Solar USB Charger.  Do this for genius status.
  • Keep your cell phone off.  Do this to unplug for four days.  Takes some serious commitment, but it’s totally worth it if you trust in the world outside the festival handling their junk without you for a weekend.  Totally acceptable to either (a) stay connected to help friends and family (b) indulge in the delusion that you’re the center of everyone’s universe.  Totally unacceptable to stay connected to read your personalized Big Lots! email ads or Facebook updates from people not at the festival.  Go see some music!
  • Set up your tent at home to check for gotchas.  I broke this sacred rule of camping this year and forgot that my tent poles were packed separately.  MAJOR CHOKE!
  • Get a quick-drying, super-light towel and/or yoga-mat from REI.  These are way smaller than a cotton towel and will help you out for the 6 hours of daily yoga.
  • Bring a table.  Coolers have a top–yes–but they are meant to be opened.  I plan do finally do ourselves a favor next year by bringing a folding table.  Then again, i also said this last time…
  • Make a plane and keep your promises.  We’re procrastinators, me and my friends.  We totally kick ass at packing 3 days or less before a week long camping trip in the woods and dirt and being wildly successful.  If you’re not like us, make sure to take the time, make a spreadsheet, and figure out what you’re going to bring in time to find out if you have it.  
  • Pace yourself.  There’s a lot of excitement at High Sierra.  Make sure you’re not forcing yourself to be on high-alert energy-level for four days without a break.  There are _lots_ of places to take a peaceful break at the festival–that’s kind of a thing it does better than any other, partly to do with it’s small size and partly to do with everyone’s great attitude.  Which leads me to the last, but most important thing to remember:
  • Don’t be un-festival.  It’s as simple as it sounds.  Don’t be the guy hurrying people on with their showers.  Don’t be the guy who tells that guy to chill out in the wrong tone.  Don’t be the one to yell at a little kid for spraying water on you without asking (but do remind them to ask next time after you say thank you).  Don’t be smug.  Don’t judge.  Don’t laugh at someone without laughing at yourself at the same time.  And definitely don’t be the one calling everybody on their un-festival crap.  Be compassionate–Don’t be un-festival.  Be good to the festival, and the festival will be good to you.

pi-kus for pi day

March 14, 2013

I’ve been looking around the twitter-spheroid and blago-blogs and finding that lots of people are writing “pi-ku”s today, a haiku about pi, in honor of pi day:

you go around once
and make an infinity,
of digits that is

But what is a pi-ku, really?  Is a “haiku about pi” the best we can do?  What about my wife’s suggestion (which she came across from Powell’s Bookstore) , where the syllables pay homage to pi’s most well known digits?  Here’s the formula:

— First line: 3 syllables
— Second line: 1 syllable
— Third line: 4 syllables

and used in a sentence poem:

i know, of
pi squared digits

But we can get grosser than that.  What about longer pi-ku sequences, traversing the decimal-dance of pi’s digits:

(3) from where does
(1) pi
(4) originate?

(1) is
(5) it an integral
(9) half (neg why dee ex plus ex dee why)?

(2) maybe
(6) riemann zeta at 2,
(5) times six, square root is

But I digress.  How can you contort pi into your poetry?  Leave your poems in the comments, and don’t forget to enjoy your favorite kind of pi to celebrate the sweetness and the arbitrary transcendental numbers that permeate  our limited understanding of the universe.  Today I enjoyed smitten kitchen’s apple pie cookies.  Smaller size, same great ratio of circumference to diameter.


[1] Powell’s Bookstore’s Facebook Conversation, Pi Day 2013
[2] my favorite approximations of pi, on github
[3] smitten kitchen’s apple pie cookies

in time – clock design

October 5, 2011

today was a good day for interesting time keeping design.  i came across these three different time keeping devices, which have a really interesting parallelism in their features:

we know the time
the tree tells the season
industry, the hour
and with robotic precision
an instant is born

a little musing on the wonderful juxtaposition of materials and fidelity that were used in all these clocks.  also, it’s the fault of Google+ that i didn’t just share the clocks and get on with my life, since you can’t share more than one fancy link in a post.  now i had to make a big deal out of it and waste a bunch of everybody’s time.

Wooden Perpetual Calendar

Roller Chain Clockworks

Robot-Readable Wall Clock

on your ebays – dead baby pictures

October 2, 2011

Sitting in the laundromat, indulging in the procrastination of this warm, Southern California afternoon, I happened upon that which I wished to share with you all many months ago.  In the spirit of not procrastinating any longer, and not feeling the need to write any more about this topic than what is already present in the article, I’ll simply share the following link with you all–a story about the trafficking of old photographs of dead children:

Ghost Babies – from BoingBoing

In the spirit of reigniting the playful and creative flame of those of people who come to read this, I’d like to open up the comments to any form of short poems that you’d like to share on this subject.  I’ll get that started…

in your heart – the guilt of social networking

July 8, 2011

it’s been a blurry, hot, and sweaty morning afternoon day here on my nasally congested and scratchy throated coach, which means it’s a great time for me to connect to the internet.

here i mean “connect” in the most active of senses, in that one can from the internet most certainly, and willfully, “disconnect”.  you can still be looking at facebook and twitter and sports scores and emails and song lyrics and updates, but it can be done from behind a mask: the veil of disconnectivity.

from behind this veil, we disconnects wander our own personal corner of the internet.  are you a cheezburger cute-overloader?  or are you a boing-boing maker?  or maybe a redhead-loving pornhubber? (you’ll have to fill in with your own links there) whatever you are, that’s the internet you see.  the sawed-off arm of the internet upon which you personally feast metonymically is all that there is.  amazon?  your friend’s blog?  another’s facebook photo album?  that’s all on the outside.  you’re here, on the inside, where it’s all warm and cozy.  this is where it’s happening, man!  you don’t need to tell people you’re here.  if they want to find you they will.  don’t make it too easy–the breadcrumbs are too tasty and delicious to leave behind for others…

this disconnectedness is part of a vicious cycle, as from it i derive a source of disconnectedness, one of my thickest humors: guilt.

without rolling for you the tape of my not-yet-filmed autobiography (though a serious man is a close approximation, in some regards), guilt and i have a long history.  i am a connoisseur of the jewish strain, though with the italian, russian, and irish i am also somewhat versed.  the thing about guilt is that people don’t make you feel guilty.  you make yourself feel guilty.  it’s this horrible self-starting automaton connected on the inside, and once it’s taken hold, you are bound as its host.

oh sure, there are ways to cope.  well, there’s really only one way:  that’s this disconnection.  if i stop reading twitter feeds, then i’m not noticing that i’m not tweeting on my own.  if i stop looking at photo albums, i can neglect that haven’t sorted and filtered and captioned and uploaded my own photos.  if i stop chatting with my friends and family, i can forget that i’m not chatting with them!

you can see that this comes from a good place*.  i only want to contribute to the world in which i embed myself in ways that are appropriate and benefit others.  when i don’t feel fully capable of doing that, i just check the f^@& out, and then we’re all happy, right*?  i’m not disappointing myself and other people aren’t being disappointed.  perfect*.

however, our social networks are so intricately interlinked, you can’t actually check the f^@& out.  the veil is all but opaque as the search for neglect and forgetfulness fails in the face of facebook, twitter, and now, google+.  the tentacled and zombified social networks that bind the rotting corpse of the internet together have woven their way into your perfect little cul-de-sac of DIY kitten fetishism.  your escape has been tampered with and now it’s your move.

pulling out from that not-a-through-street, i remember that the reason i’m here at this moment is that i’m sick.  nasally congested, and sore throated.  and that today i connected to the internet.  and what was i driven to do? posting a gripe about the circularity of guilt, the inevitability of the internet, and the dangling adverb of another immaterial noun.

this is an interesting cycle as well: where my connectedness has spurred on a guilt-deterring maneuver.  which has indeed kept me glued to not only the starred items in my google reader, but also to second, third, and fourth clicks away.  i’ve left my g+, twitter, and facebook tabs open and read through them the old-fashioned way (no tweetdecks or iphones for help), and i even chatted with a friend or two.  this connectedness felt amazing, and now i’m writing about how amazing it felt, which makes me feel amazing!

but wait…is this post too long?  will people read it?  oh you’re so stupid david.  you haven’t done anything today!  this aluminum leech sitting on your lap has just sucked time out of your very breath.  just save this as a draft and rework it for later.  once it’s a better piece you can share it with the world.  until then, just go back to your home-made cute-and-furry handcuff designs and forget you were ever a friend with the internet…

* this is some A-1 guilt talk coming up.  future instances are *starred* for reference

on your roads

April 22, 2011

inspired by a recent dayriffer find, i shared my love of my native (Californian) highway system here:

post about the 110 at the 105

Based on Simon Burrow‘s suggestion, we are going to have a freeway interchange beauty contest.

The rub is that I am a SoCal native, and I love it too much to be unbiased in my entries.  In the comments below, then, please submit your entries into the contest.  I’ll start with the two of mine.  The names of the highways should be enough, but if your submission is already notorious, then a link to photos or the it’s wikipedia page is also great.  You don’t have to limit yourself to one entry, but try and pick your favorite favorite.

Most importantly, please share whatever you want about the interchange: a personal story, a myth, a legend, an experience, a poem.  That will make this real.  I’ll later collect all of the entries and we’ll have a pageant of polls for our pageant, with awards like “Best In Show”, “All Around Great Interchange”, “Generalized Runner-Up”, &c…

gross from the past (two weeks ago) and for the future

April 4, 2011

this is something that i wrote approximately two weeks ago and am finally getting to post.  some thoughts on birthdays.  from the outset, note that the birthday celebration was a success, in that i do know these friends of mine well, as they me.  the birthday show is coming up in two days with a facebook event on our team page and everything.

a birthday is one of those occasions when your payment is due on the continuously compounded guilt you’ve been accruing about how little you really know a person.  rarely can you discuss this fact with someone as you present them with the thoughtless, generic, cheapo gift you’ve bought them as a weak gesture toward your spine as it runs away from you down a littered Hollywood boulevard. not that you ever had a spine, but one usually hangs out nearby, and some people recognize that it is yours just by the smell of rotting obsession and compulsion.

so on what better day than a dear friend’s birthday to be reminded of our improvisational theater team’s 1st birthday, which will be coming up in two weeks.  not only am I without a gift for my friend, just like I was for another dear friend two weeks ago, but I am without a gift for our team.  what do you buy a team of people?  a group gift, the same for ever person?  a single gift that you can, somehow, from all of the different cities in which you live, share?  or can you say that the greatest gift of all is a commitment to your anniversary show and just being emotionally present for your celebrations?

that’s the kind of bs that is smeared on the attempts to justify every thoughtless, generic, cheapo gift that’s ever been bought in junky souvenir shops all around the world and throughout history.  does that make it right or wrong?  I don’t know.  for how little it turns out I know these friends, they continually surprise me with how close we can be, on and off the stage.  does that mean they know me better than I know them?  I’d tend to think so.  but has that pissed anyone off enough to start hating me?  no, that hasn’t happened yet.  or at least not here, with these friends.

it’s not odd, but unfortunate, that this post lacks a consistent or strong vein of humor to latch on to.  or if it did, it doesn’t any more. but that’s partly the point.  thatsgross has for too long restricted myself from using it as the tool it should be…a place for me to talk without fear of saying too wrong a thing.  a place where I can save or share a longer thought.  a place that is actually useful to me, without being hurtful to too many other people.

i made some funny comics today with a friend.  well, they may not be funny, but I had fun making them.  I want to have fun making other things.  here’s to having fun making things.  now take a sip of your gin and tonic, scoot away from that bar, and go make something of your life, you lazy pile of trash.  you too can be a successful pile of trash!  all you have to do is try!  cheers.

so, there you have it. here is another renewed commitment to expressing myself, publicly, when i feel the need, instead of bottling it up only to eventually lose pressure.