Saturday, June 24, 2017

Smith Rock

One of the great joys in getting married is the merging of families that occurs.  In Dawn's case, I lucked out big time, with her brother Sam and partner Judy, musically minded creators of a new scene in Sisters, Camp Sherman more specifically, in the Metolius watershed.  I also met Elise and then Les, that wonderful family. 

Dawn's extended family went to Indiana, Pennsylvania (a town).  We spread her ashes there in 2009, following a Chicago Pycon.  Tara and Alexia were with me then too.

Compared to our city rat lifestyle, as non-profit hub managers (CUE and so on), Sam & Judy were the rustic true pioneers, living off the grid as year round caretakers of the lovely Dahl Ranch, in a time when the surrounding forest was lush.  They hewed their own firewood, kept the swimming pool operational.

Later, Sam, a skilled indoor finish carpenter, built a house for the two of them.  Judy's mother joined them later.  She died in the same Partners in Care facility Sam did, same room.  That was on Gold Coach road, in a gorgeous patch of country.

Just an hour ago I headed over to Smith Rock for some memories.  The two sisters (Tara and Alexia) are exploring somewhere in the area.

Radio is important here, and music.  I'm listening to Psychedelic Protest on KPOV FM, a show sometimes hosted by the Smith's friend Steven.  Mad Dog is hosting today.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Decorating a Circle

When I teach about Python decorators, I often use the extended metaphor of "being abducted by a UFO".

In science fiction, the abductee is subtly or not so subtly transformed by the abduction experience. What's important is they come back as still themselves, which parallels decorated callables retaining their original names.

In the video below I'm using the @property decorator to show how a Circle type might update its inter-related attributes through setter method calls behind the scenes.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Wonder Woman (movie review)

A Visitor

I wasn't planning on seeing this today. I'd RSVPed on the Flying Circus meetup downtown. Then came a knock at the door and there was Lindsey Walker, whom I'd not seen since last year.

We had tea on Division at our usual spot where she showed me pictures of her new place, austere and functional, in Kathmandu. Turned out she was curious about Wonder Woman also.

Probably the Bible families won't be too bent out of shape as the somewhat Bollywood style Greek mythology reiterates the Paradise Lost theme of Lucifer, jealous of God's love for his homely creature, Man.

Aries (lets call him Mars) is a died-in-the-wool misanthropist, and what is War (a favorite form of theater) if not misanthropic?

Wonder Woman is on the side of good as we slide back in time to the World War One era.

Mars is having a field day and the job of these Amazon women is to defend humans, innately good, from his manipulating.  Or so the children are told.

As Wonder Woman grows wiser she realizes Mars is a pretty good prosecuting attorney and humans somewhat deserve the fate they choose for themselves, and indeed they're somewhat loathsome.

Lindsey and I agreed it was all on the corny side, but then we're talking about a comic book after all.  Serious-minded theologians are not a primary audience.

We're more into learning about puberty and putting our childhood toy stories to bed.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

From Forum 206

I haven't posted much about factoring quadratics, but would for one take a group theory approach if following the forking-off Lambda Calc track after Algebra, more vocational than Delta Calc (Calculus), in the sense of straight-to-job, minus college, for more trainees.

You've got the JS + HTML + CSS, what more could you need? Of course plenty, and many will head back to college or code school or whatever, but the meaning of "vocational" still pertains. You get some paid work as a front and back end developer, applying your high school degree, and afford college later, where you go into Physics, say.

Where I'd go with quadratics is full bore into History as I think it's a travesty how we try to tease apart maths from any cultural context. Enough with the "universal language" already, if that means Greek metaphysics about infinite planes "existing". That's philosophy, so any PhD will be able to defend these theses of plane geometry (Euclidean), but lets not pretend that they're not cultural, and that mathematics is not as multi-cultural as Manhattan.

The fierce "game show" competitions on the Italian peninsula, to factor polynomials in contest, complete with pro wrestler style champions and death bed secrets (algorithms) is all too much to pass up. Then we roll forward to Galois, who scribbles some final words on Galois Theory before defending his honor in some dark ages duel to the death. Bleep over all that? Not unless you're into "history avoidance" which math geeks are often guilty of, but not in my course, no way.

I like showing a Polynomial class in Python, complete with some Newton's Method type convergence algorithm for finding roots even when factoring is nigh impossible. I've got this in my archive somewhere. [0]

At least lets tell them about the limits to factoring. And don't wait until some bitter end to share the quadratic equation, making it some punch line after slogging through months of seeking roots by other means.

I'm into spending a lot more time with primes versus composites, Euclid's Method, because I'm heading to RSA (public key crypto), like they do in Mathematics for the Digital Age (Bob and I both like it, although I do class-oriented coding much earlier in the deck, see my Fraction [1]). RSA is a capstone "thing to get" in the aforementioned text, used at Phillips / Andover. I teach crypto too, had for years before I saw that book. [2]

Why Euclid's Method to get the GCD over factoring into primes? Because factoring fizzles long before EM. Then there's the extended version (EEM). Check Knuth. These are the algorithms they're gonna need. As a mammal to other mammals: don't let them write that off as "just computer science" in their snobby mathy way.

Kirby

[0] http://4dsolutions.net/ocn/python/

[1] https://repl.it/H7VF/12

[2] http://4dsolutions.net/ocn/crypto0.html

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Radar Blips

In case you're a long time reader of this blog, or a relative newcomer with a Sherlock Holmes bent, wanting to piece it all together like a Russian novel of interweaving scenarios, let me look at some loose ends.

The pristine wood hull motor boat that featured often in blog posts and pictures, especially in warmer weather, is still with us, but under repair.  A boat seeing as much use as that one, way above average, incurs wear and tear. The only real question is whether anyone around is skilled enough and has the time. Don and Barry have been on it.

Also speaking of Barry, his big project to keep himself in shape and amused was to convert a legacy motorcycle, a big one, into something two-wheeled yet enclosed.  The prototype has been test driven, however the loose end is I've not been present to photo-document anything.  It's front-heavy on steering and a next iteration is planned.

Former housemates have been meeting among themselves, crossing paths at different times. Jen has moved to California with Yarrow, growing up.  Melody drove down there and visited.  Maybe Lindsey got there later?  I'm not in her loop.

Speaking of Lindsey, a looped through her music on Facebook again, spiraling through some of her showtime posters.  She was a keyboardist / singer with a big love for her drum machine.  With me as chauffeur, she could pull off real gigs.  Archive.org has her at the Egyptian Room in Portland (long gone).

My two daughters are both working hard in their respective roles.  We've been sharing developments on email with Carol (mom) and my sister Julie.

Today we had some tense times downtown thanks to various rallies and counter-rallies.  We seem to be forgetting the past and dooming ourselves to its repetition but then history doesn't repeat, not really.  OK somewhat it does.

Patrick bounced down there on foot, busing back.  We're both yammering about Python this week, in a code school setting.  I'm studying his textbook, to which I contributed, plus we both learned from Steve Holden, author of an earlier curriculum we both used, when mentoring for O'Reilly School (since closed).

Speaking of Steve Holden, you'll find where he bounced out to the West Coast for meetups and business, but he's a citizen of the UK and has lived there for some time.  We see each other on Facebook and like that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dress Rehearsal

Relax into Knowing

Speaking of a dropping Portland IQ, lets focus on mine.

What does it say that I was fully cognizant up to some point, that I would not be needed in Lake Oswego today (because the course ended last week) but that I nevertheless dutifully drove to Laurelhurst, as if today were tomorrow.

I got all dressed up, in my collar shirt, smarty pants, and badge.  Fought traffic (was traffic). Finally figured it out.  The booby prize goes to me.

Hey, we all make mistakes.  Today was the day.  Actually it's already tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dropping IQ in Portland?

They say the creatives are leaving, force out by higher rents, as the narrow thinkers take over to pursue ever narrower lives.

But is that true?

One sign of a dropping collective IQ is the water system.  Portland had a variance exempting it from having to treat for a specific parasite, one that hadn't been a problem, until now.

The city decided to take its working reservoir system and replace it with an underground one, following instructions from The District, the lowest IQ zone in the nation.

The parasite has since been detected, the variance lost.

The Lloyd Center gutted itself of movie theaters at the Food Court level.  Concessions have left blank holes.  I guess the whole food court thing isn't making sense to people?

How can they shop until they drop?

Let's hope I'm wrong.

Carol spent the day at Lloyd Center, getting new glasses at Lenscrafters.  The moment she got home, without dropping them, the lens fell out.  Then she noticed the frame was cracked, who knows for how long.

We're driving back there now.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pycon: Looking Back


Pycon was very sciency this time, and I'm plenty glad about that. We're up to developing 3.7 around now, with a lot of emphasis on asynchronous capabilities.  That's event loop programming, not unlike event-driven GUI programming, indeed it's the same (to some degree).

Most the examples seem to focus on network probes, and how those might take forever.  An await state keeps something trying, working to fulfill some promise, complete some task, even while other coroutines get on with their business.

The paradigm of multi-threading is germane, it's just Python takes responsibility for expressing how the players should share, leaving the operating system to think in terms of a single process.

One of the keynotes was an astronomer, another a nuclear physicist engineer, studying the complete fuel cycle, from cradle to grave.  We flashed on pictures of space telescopes, like the Hubble, the Hubble itself (still operational in 2017), and considered how Python is a boon to the scientific community.

I got to meet with the SciPy / Cuba guy, Olemis Lang.  He's facing some of the same logistics encountered by Steve Holden, former PSF chairman and conference organizer (starting with Pycon itself). I'd be his sidekick through some of these events, taking in the business in a more backseat driver role.

Ed Leaf and I reminisced about FoxPro quite a bit, another coding language community that went through phases.  "Every language has its story" I remind my "Python radio" audience (really more like TV).

Jeff Elkner of edu-sig came through as well.  This was during booth and poster time.  CS is now well-established throughout the states, lets assume, at the level of standards (what Jeff has been helping with, in Virginia especially), but on-the-ground implementation is another story.  Urban versus rural: it makes a difference.

Bridging to the agricultural sector(s) is a big part of what open source is all about these days, because agriculture, bar none, is a science, from population genetics to pathology (we also compared notes with Sheri Dover, also a scientist by training, and code school insider), to business management.

If interested in the Cuba stuff specifically, remember python-cuba is an open archive, as is edu-sig. Some years ago, Pythonistas came to the realization the Cuba could be another Python hub, given proper care and nurturing by the various users already there.

Python use is skyrocketing thanks to a vibrant ecosystem and ways of making science journal articles come alive with Jupyter Notebook versions. Share the data, share the process, with your peers.

Mostly I served as sidekick to Dr. Charles Crosse, a physicist by training, adventurous and risk-taking by temperament, with experiences as far off the beaten trail in Guyana as it's possible to get (a world of river rapids, crocodiles, anacondas...).  He'd served in the Peace Corps in Kenya before that.

His infrastructure for governing access to elective cyberspace, based on fulfilling requirements (buying time), was completely working as a prototype.  He'd ported some puzzles from SugarLabs. Reading assignments complete with fill in the blank follow-up / recalls could be generated on the fly. We did one on Isaac Newton, as a test.

The gist:  a server in France provided "bird feeder" credits towards keeping the router open for other purposes. Developers, supported by consciously allocated subscriptions or purchases, build these life-giving games (we're talking about cyber-lives, time on the Internet, not miracle cures, not snake oil), whereby students net metered credits, the currency of "staying on-line through this particular router".

Of course it's easy to bypass a router, a Raspberry Pi in this case, but that's all family politics. Once a given router is accepted as a valid player, according to whatever rules, one has incentive to rack up higher scores.  I see plenty of applications to Coffee Shops Network, which features charitable giving games, a casino to benefit the deserving recipients of winners' winnings.

The job fair booth people have to answer whether their place of work allows remoting in from places like San Antonio.  Do they have telecommuters?  I was tied to the poster, complete with working Pi and slaved tablets (representing metered clients), so took my job booth pictures mostly during setup, when I was free to roam.  I fetched Charles a couple turkey sandwiches before they all disappeared.

My transition to post conference mode involved taking the Max downtown with Charles for a hand off to Luciano outside the Apple Store, after which I Maxed it back to maxi taxi and headed for the FredMeyer rooftop parking slots.  David Koski was there on Hawthorne at Fresh Pot, embedded in Powells, across from Bagdad.  He was touring in the area.  We walked backed to the car through Freddies, purchasing coffee and shaving cream.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

As the World Turns


Coming back to a certain soap opera, yes, I remember when the president elect said he was completely in support of Flynn talking to Russians. As incoming National Security dude, that was his role, and he was ramping up in a conscientious fashion, as a key player on the transition team.

Pizzagate got in the way, and Flynn came across as less than fully candid to the Veep, and Trump needed Pence, even more than Flynn, to stay on board. However Trump was forthcoming with the media, which he loathes as we know, that he didn't think Flynn's sin arose from his interaction with Russian counterparts.  That part was just a future National Security advisor doing his job.

Now Trump is accused of being like Flynn, doing what Flynn himself was accused of.  The difference: Trump is president.  He gets to exercise his own judgement, and that's precisely where everyone wants to rein him in.  As president, he gets a national security team to defend the office. Flynn didn't have the home court advantage.

As the plot continues to thicken, everyone needs to second guess this rich uncle who has stumbled into the White House, to everyone's surprise, and now gets to pull the levers of power.

Democracy means you get a lot of back seat drivers.

However now that we're an oligarchy (according to many studies), mirroring Russia's (kleptocratic), those busybody back seaters may be safely ignored, at least for longer.

So now, in that light, with such history now remembered, we're hearing from the ex FBI Director that Trump really hoped this was not going to be a witch burning of his friend Flynn.

This was right after the sacking.  Flynn had already paid a high price, and forfeited a job to which he had been much looking forward.  Had he sounded reassuring, even conciliatory on the phone?  We wanted more saber rattling?  And who are the "we" in this picture?

Everything had turned to ashes for the guy already, so why make it worse?

A president is allowed to express (confess?) his loyalty and hopeful feelings, as if to a confidant. Maybe Comey would be that?  Too early to know, in those days.  He didn't want to pursue Hillary any further either, despite the large number of jackals in his own camp, happy to do just that.

And now, lo these many months later, everyone is looking back at those episodes and thinking, aha, more proof of sneaky connivance, colluding or whatever.

The media hates Trump for all the insults he's heaped upon them.  He's not at all polite, like Obama was, except we call that being "politically correct" i.e. "civil" which to many ears sounds too insincere to pass muster.

Hence Trump's win in the Electoral College (maybe with a little help from voter roll purges, the FBI is still looking into that right?).

CNN especially has been the lap dog of monster GRUNCH, according to these anonymous sources. However we can't blame that on Ted Turner, an American oligarch, as he's a founder, not a daily operations guy by 2017.

Nor does it make sense to blame Time-Warner, a literally soulless corporation, even if metaphorically "a person" in anthropological literature (aka "voodoo economics").

The soap opera is one of aggrieved parties seeking vengeance, each hoping to do the neighbor in.

There's a certain awkwardness about fighting dinosaurs.  The ground trembles and it's all very dramatic.  That sells product, especially soap (politics feels so unclean sometimes).

The economy cranks ahead, one day at a time, as the world turns.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Coffee Shop Networking

Arduino Environment

The clouds really let loose while I sat looking out the window of Common Grounds, here on Hawthorne Boulevard, Asylum District, Portland, Oregon.

Lightning flashed, and the power went out, twice. Thanks to some electrical issue in my Mac Air — not the battery — a power out entails a reboot.

I was productive anyway though: I plowed through several lectures on Arduino programming, continuing with the MOOC I'm taking through Coursera; submitted an invoice for recent work; edited Wikipedia, adding how Python implements partial application of arguments to functions, resulting in new functions.

Fellow Wanderer Dr. DiNucci is here. I invited him to dinner at Szechuan Chef, I'm hoping with Alex. We're always looking for excuses for Szechuan cuisine, and miss Lucky Strike being so close by.

Alex confirms that was Yangsi Rinpoche I got to meet at Dwaraka briefly, back in April.  He's like the headmaster at Maitripa College, which I visited a week ago tomorrow.

What I need to get clearer on is how the Arduino IDE uses something like Processing to end up with C.  We tend to call Arduino programs "sketches", the same word Shiffman uses when teaching about vectors, acceleration and forces in his Coding Train videos.

I've been sharing my enthusiasm for the Shiffman syllabus on math-teach, and also on The Physics Learning Research List. He's one of several Youtube math teachers I consider talented. Eugene Khutoryansky is another.