Off the Top: Humor Entries

January 14, 2016

Podcast That Gave Life Back to the Living

A few years ago after my mom passed away, which was 11 months after my dad passed, I was in a deep fog. I was in Stockton, California a lot for about 16 to 18 months taking care of things and wrapping things up (mostly trying to sort out a lot of mysteries of where things were and went - some mysteries remain). On my trips out there I would get out to the Bay Area every few days to see friends, have work focussed meetings, or just get out of town.

On those trips, as well as errands around town (including around DC), I would listen to podcasts. They were great ways to have (sort of one-sided) conversations around things I had interest in, but was lacking someone else with that interest with depth where I could learn things. They also kept me entertained. The big thing was they kept my mind going (it was a slow time on the work front) and not dwelling on loss.

Many of the podcasts I listened to then were on the 5by5 Network. I deeply enjoyed Mac Power Users (and still do) and many other shows there. But, there was one I really enjoyed, which was Back to Work with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.

Back to Work Was a Lifeline Back

I’d met Merlin a few times through special web related things were both were involved in, he is a friend with many friends, and we had the pleasure (at least for me) of meeting for lunch. But, Back to Work laid me out in a wonderful way.

While, I got a lot out of the productivity, life guidance, how to think through things in a manner that will improve things, and other more serious things; what was a huge, no giant, help was the humor. That stretch after losing both parents and being an only child (trying to keep it all together), while being somewhat (okay a lot) numb to things in life because of the loss was tough. There were days where it was tough to do things and get things done that needed to be done, but they mostly did. But, that bright light that deeply helped was Merlin and his humor on Back to Work. This humor and riffs fit how my brain works really well. It also would get me laughing insanely hard to the point of nearly crying. It also nearly caused me to have to pull off the road I was laughing so uncontrollably.

That finding and holding on to my sense of humor, from just being able to laugh, helped me through that deep grief fog. It helped me get the light part of my brain back to life. When things get tough (like last year’s serious health issues) I make light of it and get myself to laugh. During the stretch after my parents died, I had lost that ability to do that for myself. Thanks to Merlin, I got it back and walked out of the grief fog intact (maybe even in better shape than going into it).

Every time I listen to Merlin these days on Back to Work, Dalrymple Report, and Reconcilable Differences I think I need to just say a little thanks for a little unknown gesture that had a big impact, laughter. So, thank you Merlin.

October 31, 2014

Deconstructing for Fun

There are two video gems I have fallen into really liking in the last year Every Frame a Painting and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Every Frame is a Painting

Every Frame is a Painting tickles the film nerd in me. This takes me straight back to a great class in media criticism by Father Mike Russo in undergrad. We not only learned how to watch film, but how to deconstruct it, which turned into how to make film for many in that class.

Tony Zhou who creates Every Frame is a Painting provides great insight into film direction and cinematography, by breaking down scenes and the make-up of a shot to convey a story through film. Film and its genres as well as directorial influences not only help see film with a new eye of appreciation, but the world beyond film. A lot of interaction design in technology heavily references film and the ability to direct attention and create an enjoyable experience.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

I’ve wasn’t a fan of the Jerry Seinfeld show. I saw a decent amount out of inertia (was watching the show on same channel prior) or it was a lead-in to something I wanted to watch. But, while there were some gems, most was listening to people whine, which lead to that same whining tone coming from myself the following day.

But, Seinfeld’s stand-up was something I had appreciation for and enjoyed. But, he has a web video series with the construct of him driving a historic car to pick-up another comedian to go get coffee. Most of the episodes are 15 to 20 minutes of he and his fellow comedian talking craft and sharing stories.

Much like Every Frame… Comedians in Cars… puts the focus on deconstruction of the craft, background of the artist, and breaking things down. There is often quite a bit of humor, which also helps.

In college and the years when I lived in San Francisco I loved going to stand-up shows. There were a lot of really good comedians working through their craft in SF in the mid–80s to mid–90s. The best times were often at open mic nights where comics would try out new material and often spill out into the parking lot or streets for an hour or few of riffing and stories.

Deconstruction is Essential for Understanding

A lot of undergrad for me seemed to be about not only learning (building a corpus of knowledge), but learning to deconstruct and understand the world and craft around me. Comedy and film (media in general got this treatment) were two of many of the disciplines I learned to breakdown to understand at more atomic levels, so to understand how to build more than capably as well as much better.

Learning the craft of deconstruction through something fun like film and comedy is a great place to start. Warning - this will change how you not only watch and consume things and may change the enjoyment and mindless nature that is desired, but it does give enjoyment on many other levels.

May 26, 2006

College is not about academics

The University of Washington has a new football recruit who seems to want to focus on the football field. When asked about the opportunity to go to Stanford on scholarship he stated, "The academic side of things there was kind of intriguing," Izbicki said. "But I decided it wasn't for me.".

Mind you, the University of Washington is a very good school, as is Stanford.

May 5, 2006

Ze Saves Me with Daily Humor

I have a new daily habit, The Show by Ze Frank. It is a great way to start my day with humor. Is it same for work? Well, that depends on where you work, doesn't it?

For those who have been familiar with the humor and geek renderings of Ze for years, this is a daily dose. I am not usually a fan of podcast or videocast as it is tough to focus on 15 to 45 minutes of chatting. This is the perfect length, 3 to 5 minutes, as is Rocketboom. This has become my television.

Now back to work, which is why I don't have time for 45 minutes of chatting at me from a podcast.

July 28, 2005

Brain Damaging Wind

Could have been a little too much sugar or summer heat, but this is the conversation:

Brian: Wow, the weather alert is, "Rain, damaging wind, and lightening."
Self: Huh? Brain damaging wind?
Brian: No! Rain, damaging wind, and lightening
Self: Brain damaging wind? What is that first word?
Brian: Rain!
Self: Brain?
Brian: No! Rrrrrain
Self: Oh, Rain comma damaging winds comma and lightening.

October 14, 2004

September 17, 2004


The quote of the month goes to Brian who said, "there is nothing like bad design to hide the fact that they have no content".

July 22, 2004

DC Metro Scene

The DC Metro Red Line was a mess as usual today, but it was hot and muggy to add to the usual fun. When we arrived at Metro Center the train was packed and many people we trying to get out and one older guy in a suit was pushing to get on. People started yelling at the guy in the suit to let people off before trying to get on (this is the proper Metro etiquette, as is moving to the center of the train).

Older guy: [yelling back] You can't stop me from getting on the train.
Passenger: Who do you think you are, the Vice President?
Older man: No, I suppose you think you are the President.
Passenger: I am not dumb enough to choose you.

April 19, 2004

I am Reading Comics Again

In the past week I have found two new comic strips to follow. I have not had a daily comic strip I liked since Calvin and Hobbes went away. Thanks to Anil and an excellent article in the New Yorker, I now am a fan of The Boondocks.

The second comic strip is Frazz, which has some frighteningly similar traits to Calvin. Eric Meyer has the Calvin and Frazz conspiracy theory posted on his site. There are some great links and theories. I am not so sure they Mallett and Waterson are two different people, but none-the-less I have a new comic strip to follow.

April 12, 2004

Be Kind to Kind Kids

I am in line to get my salad at lunch. A little girl about four is standing in front of me. I am intently reading news on my Treo. We start to chat:

Her: I accidentally got my fingers nails painted today.
Me: They do look nice.
Her: Are your nails painted?
Me: Excuse me? What did you say? (I really did not hear)
Her: Take your hand out of your pocket. Why is your hand in your pocket?
I take my hand out of my pocket.
Her: Your nails are also painted
Me: [abruptly] My nails are not painted!
Her: Let me see them. Sure they are painted. Mom, his nails are painted.
Salad chef: Your usual?
Me: I do not paint my nails
Her: But they look nice.
Me: [Thinking help her with manners and politeness] Why thank you. That is very kind. ... Yes, my regular salad.

Easter Bunny?

Lots going on, so a visit from the Easter Bunny is what I needed to get my laughs back.

April 1, 2004

Join the March for Web Standards

Get your umbrella and head to the Mall in Washington, DC today for the March for Web Standards (M4WeSt). It is a great cause and a couple hundred thousand are expected even in the rain.

March 13, 2004

Old phone number

This Cris Rock's cell phone bit really helped boost my spirits on an unhealthy week in our house.

On this end we had Joy in the hospital, Will projectile vomiting (like a fire hydrant), and me getting a light version of the virus that put Joy in the hospital. We are all getting better, but still need some rest.

December 27, 2003

Not Everybody in California Smokes Pot

Two men in Marin County started arguing after exchanging Christmas gifts. The spat turned ugly when they each grabbed a flower pot and hit the other on the head.

November 18, 2003

Comic Strip RSS

RSS feeds for comic strips, this just made my day. [hat tip Veen]

November 5, 2003

Free One Night Stand

My favorite Craigslist posting for Free one night stand. [hat tip Jish]

November 2, 2003

Apple's Network in Hell poster with Akbar and Jeff

In the fun category Apple's Matt Groenig's Network in Hell poster.. This poster features Akbar and Jeff's ability to network to IBM Big Iron with their Macs. This poster should be updated to highlight Panther's ability to network easily on Microsoft networks, including VPN.

September 9, 2003

Opus to return

Opus to return as the Washington Post will announce a new Berke Breathed cartoon this Sunday.

September 4, 2003

Heh geek humor

On a day in a two week stretch that needed humor, Tanya made me chuckle

July 18, 2003

A dog's first question

For your Friday reading pleasure, A dog's first question.

June 20, 2003

Mob Project provides levity

Through a NPR All Things Considered discussion, Gawker snippet, I have learned about the Mob Project, as explianed by Wired. I found this to be a wonderfully silly idea. The All Things Considered discussion of Mob Project (20 June 2003) had the NPR interviewer laughing.

April 1, 2003

Programming for Information Architects

Andrew Otwell provides a fantastic article at Boxes and Arrows Programming for Information Architects. This is a great overview for those IAs that are not familiar with programming. Heck it is a good resource for anybody not familiar with programming.

February 14, 2003

Rap Master Plushie

For your Valentine entertainment pleasure Hip Hop Plushies, in DJ Format's video. [hat tip Cory]

January 6, 2003

TicketMath for the masses

Matt coins my favorite new term TicketMath.

November 1, 2002

Shooting crickets in the dark

My favorite analogy used this week was "it is like shooting crickets in the dark". Used to describe a plethora of things that are not documented. A sudden change in direction that is accompanied with no certifiable requirements. These situations have cropped up in the past where a photo was used along with stories in a CMS and now the client wants to please a new boss by CIO has not arrived so there is no understaning taste or likes. Many quick options are put together each getting a no and with no more direction than that. This my friends is shooting crickets in the dark, which is akin to "I know it when I see it" school of design management. The cricket keeps chirping you keep shooting.

October 17, 2002


While checking out the updated Wired site I ran across iBrotha. This really had me chuckling and really wanting to see it.

July 1, 2002

June 3, 2002

PowerPoint War

A PowerPoint battle has been put forth between Michael Sippey and Leslie Harpold. The rules have been laid down and there is more info available. If you do not have a method of viewing PowerPoint you are missing out on the greatest tool of mediocrity. I love what I do because of my distance from PowerPoint on a daily basis. Anyhow, this should be great.

May 31, 2002

Sounds like know nothing

A word to the wise, if you want to seem like you know what you are talking about it is ASP (ay - ess - pee) not asp (like the reptile). If somebody is paying big bucks you should at least sound like you know what you are talking about. They did pronouce VB properly, but they were actually talking about VBA (we let that one pass). These were "guys in suits" so they must know what they are talking about. Do you think we should ask for a code review? Thought so.

May 30, 2002

May 3, 2002

French phrases you did not learn

Helpful (?) French phrases that had me laughing this morning. [hat tip punkprincess]

April 26, 2002

Banff copy editing needed

Dean points out copy editing is more than spell checking. Banff has worked on it image now on to...

April 4, 2002

Ever need a good solution to rid yourself of telemarketers? This may be a winner. [hat tip Dinah]

March 29, 2002

Peep Surgery

Peep surgery is a gorey insight into the surgical separation of quadruplet Peeps. This site also provides a lot of insightful Peep research. [hat tip Cory via Boingboing]

March 24, 2002

Bunny funny

Tax season on top of everything else this week made bunny a gem. [hat tip Jish]

February 5, 2002

December 12, 2001

The fine folks at Osil8 have provided an insight into the mysterious Danza, now Megway. This seems to be the future of spoofisms I imagine every body will have a Megway one day.

December 10, 2001

Those of you that have been following the KPMG Linking poor mindedness, would probably enjoy Chris Raettig and his Sunday Stroll (Chris it the chap KPMG was peeved with for linking to their site, particularly their company song).

December 1, 2001

December is the month to click to Lance Arthur's Glassdog as he is posting a new story everyday. Lance is one of the few people that can cause me to laugh so hard milk comes out my nose (I don't really even drink milk any more).

November 6, 2001

Brilliant satire at Ernie XQ. Must remember to add little yellow different to weblog link list.

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