Friday, September 30, 2005

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Pirate ordering a cheeseburger
at the Island Cafe, 19 Sept 2005

(by K. Urner, Olympus Stylus 500,
brightness/contrast adjusted)

Rethinking the CyberBookMobile Concept

Based a lot on Ulmer's reality check, I'm recognizing my state of the art bizmo fleet is going to need better infrastructure. I just don't have the skills necessary to operate a rig like Dave's -- would need a crew of grannies to keep it long haul operational.

Per my alternative model lifestyle, I'd be less inclined to hold tightly to one bizmo of my own, and more thinking to check one out from a garage closer to a point of interest. After mission control uplinks my mission, I'll swoop into Town A and do some of the requested curriculum stuff, leaving behind a local school faculty thinking more about sphere packings, hypertoons, Pythonic mathematics. Lone Ranger type stuff ("nicely done Kemosabe" -- like when Don deftly parks his Meliptus alongside the Island Cafe).

This is a healthy memepool for sure, but should be no one's exclusive diet, nor is it, even for me. However, my bizmo will run software uniquely customized for my brand of scholarship and teaching/outreach -- not because I'm all that tied to a specific bizmo, but because the basic design is highly configurable through downlinking OS level stuff and/or special purpose applications.

On the outside, different bizmos may have different decals (I'm hoping we'll be seeing some from Google, whether I'm a driver or not). Those with the same decals will likely be running a lot of software in common (reflective of whatever corporate cultures, e.g. Mentor Graphics).

The decals themselves may be swappable, in the same way a Tri-Met bus, though advertising its route with lit signage, is perfectly able to run a different route on another day. In my case, my decals (e.g. 4D Solutions logo) might follow me around, maybe in the form of a rear view mirror dongle or glove box credential. The same physical bizmo might return to the same electronic gate on consecutive evenings, and gain access the one night but not the other, because the decals, running code, crew and driver, could have all changed overnight, not a big deal.

Basically, a geek checks the thing out of the garage, and then sucks down her favorite kernel (one of several), possibly similar to what wuz running in her last bizmo, or maybe in one she's nostalgic about (like running Win98 in 2020) but now the target points are different, so a different garage was accessed (same deal with the rental cars: return at the airport, like to PDX or whatever).

On another note (and speaking of The Island Cafe): last September 19 was Talk Like a Pirate Day, and by nightfall, we had a full cast of free spirits in properly piratical attire, right down to the plastic parrot this one guy had. A boat sailed to and fro in the channel, setting off a miniature ceremonial cannon, reminding me of the curious opening to The Confusion, sequel to Quicksilver in the 3-part Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson (Jules, Don's grandson, Nirel's son, is another Stephenson fan).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dave's Bizmo

Dave, age 59, is presenting Dave's Life this Wednesday morning, about his on-the-road lifestyle. His slides break it down into Motivation, Equipment, Infrastructure, Monthly Costs and so on. The lifestyle depends on having good telecommunications and maintenance skills.

Given the complexity of these rigs "if you're not mechanically adept, you're dead meat" -- even RV-driving grannies have to learn basic troubleshooting, often by consulting Internet user groups (there'll be one for every component). Schematics aren't necessarily available, and dealerships may have long waiting lists.

Dave avoids RV parks like the plague, uses GIS/GPS to locate suitable public lands (BLM, state, national forest, military -- or maybe a Wal-Mart parking lot). This land is your land, this land is my land. He pulls a trailer containing a Yamaha Mountain Max snowmobile (used mostly in the spring) and Suzuki DRZ400 dual sport motorcycle. The bizmo itself is a 33' Beaver Diesel Pusher motorhome. He's self-sufficient in terms of fuel, food, water, power, for weeks at a time. His utilities (fuel, satellite, insurance etc.) run about $825 a month, plus maybe $200 for food with an emphasis on fresh vegetables (Safeway a good source).

Before 2000, when GPS was deliberately inaccurate, Dave smashed his snowmobile on the side of Mount St. Helens, thinking he was on a trail he wasn't. Driving heavy equipment, alone, in desolate, erratic terrain, is highly dangerous. Dave rarely takes these unnecessary risks. He stores his camp sites, drive routes, other points of interest in GIS software. Given over two years of living this way full time, he's got a gold mine of information in his database. His photo diary, shared with a small group of subscribers, is likewise a valuable record of his adventures.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Wanderers Retreat

I showed up at the Blanchard Education Service Center today to make some brief remarks on behalf of the Koreducators' charter school proposal. Adam & Co. certainly have their ducks in a row.


Day one (9/23):

We used software and projector to zoom in on the Pauling House, plus visit other points of interest (Gothenburg isn't highly resolved yet -- didn't find Chalmers). Jon Bunce grilled Dave Ulmer on his book (unpublished), having given it a close read. Nancy joined us enroute to another retreat at Mt. Angel with Father Driscoll. We looked at slides I took of Julian's unveiling of Heart of Steel in Lake Oswego, and slides of Dave's many bizmo adventures. The bizmo itself is parked out back, receiving satellite TV about hurricane Rita. Downloaded from iTunes and played: We Didn't Start the Fire (Billy Joel), played a bogus game of chess.

Day two (9/24):

Briefed by Dawn on Smallville developments (season 3), cartoons, Rita (weather news), breakfast on Hawthorne (Tabor Hill Cafe), helped Consoletti with inheritance fax, gave Ulmer my 9/14 letter (feedback on his book) while he projected the DVD 1984 from his laptop (I didn't watch too closely this time, believe I've seen it before -- like Brazil). Dave backed up the bizmo by 6', enough to see the HDTV satellite behind the tree. Jon & Don off to check out a dishwasher (mechanical problem). Allen's here -- he and I went out for Thai (Rick joined us for Thai take-out last night). I did some more messing about with "math through programming."

Big summit on future of Wanderers in the evening. Terry Bristol, David Feinstein, Steve Bergman, Audrey Lee, Pat Barton, Gus Frederick joined our group. Lots of discussion, lots of web sites projected. What did we decide? Terry is working on getting us a server with a fat pipe. Doug Strain's interest in peace work helps define us.

Day three (9/25):

Woke up with Sarah in the bed (sorry Dawn, I know the rules), another Smallville briefing from Tara (still season 3). Drove mom to Quaker meetinghouse (former ESI building) in Razz (our razzberry-colored Subaru wagon). Joined Dave & Don in the bizmo for long HDNet pans from a helicopter over New Orleans (some amazingly cool cemeteries). Even spookier would be HDNet over Chernobyl (saw that dare devil Russian chic's fast motorcyle diary -- likewise amazingly cool). Thanh Thao has been a source of most meals. Celestia + Stellarium = an answer to my prayers. I missed the impromptu presentation by Office Depot, printer madness. Guests from South Africa (the home scene). Julian came by with both children (I projected my slides from the unveiling). Jon solved the story problem (about a man and his dog).

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Retarded Design

At the other end of the spectrum: yes, the closed and systematic formal expression of Universe is incomplete, always tantalizingly improvable. But the balancing inexplicable complement, considered from an all too human point of view, is slow-like, not God-like. We're mortally, fatally stupid and (good news) the generalized principles are on our side -- was Fuller's view. The eternal works to save us from ourselves.

Human intelligence, even at its best, is a form of retardation (a lagging), an abberation, which plunges us into the consequences of limited knowledge, limited speed. But that's not synonymous with any condemnation to hell. If we accept our limitations, yet continue to faithfully participate, knowing we're not the veritable impersonation of omniscience, we'll likely still do OK. Integrity matters.

What doesn't so much matter is whether you posit, in the sense of imagine, idolize, that superior intelligence. Either way, you/I ain't it. So believers, cut those who don't some slack. Non-believers, reciprocate. Either way, we're retarded, yet exercising what powers of intelligence we might. We shine as brightly as we're able, dim though we may be. Integrity matters.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Dawn Wicca

We're so fortunate to have you in our lives. Here's to a kind and talented spouse, mother, daughter, friend, sibling -- also a fighter in more ways than one.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Batman Begins (movie review)

This movie is now playing at the Bagdad in 2nd run (cheaper admission, profits made in beer & pizza), but I've so far resisted the temptation to see it again. Dawn and I both enjoyed it quite a bit when we saw it in 1st run. Really the perfect batman film, plus the sequels have already been made, so the sequence feels complete. More could be done, sure, but this particular one admirably captures Metropolis in high gothic style, within a dark story against an east-meets-west backdrop. Pretty sophisticated stuff, for a comic book movie about a fictional superhero. Plus I heard Terry Gross interview Christian Bale on NPR. Very informative.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Wedding Anniversary

Photo by Brenna Nally
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Dawn and I were married c/o Multnomah Monthly Meeting on September 11, 1993. We stopped by the wedding venue this afternoon, after enjoying a potluck with Friends at Laurelhurst Park.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Gothenburg Incredible

"A boyfriend for Portlandia"
(photo by Kirby)

On the Columbia

Gary's gas dock
(photo by KTU, Olympus Stylus 500)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Willamette Meteorite

Geohistorian Dick Pugh tells the story,
musician Jon Bunce (background) listens
(Linus Pauling House, Hawthorne, photo by K. Urner)

Spy Guy

Slide from Larry Wall's keynote
OSCON 2005
(photo by K. Urner)


Heart of Steel (hemoglobin)
by Julian Voss-Andreae

Planting Seeds in the Silicon Forest

"Friends Meeting House"
from company archives
courtesy of Wanderer Doug Strain

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Summer Memories (picture series)

Ron Braithwaite w/ Illuminati jacket
"Off to Canada" Party
Creston Park, July 31, 2005
(photo by K. Urner)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

More BizMo Tech

A lot of bizmos will generate scrolling video blogs. There might be a live show now and then, perhaps at a convergence spot (festivals, e.g. Burning Man). However, a lot of the viewing will be asynchronous and achronological, even though the recordings get filed in the order they happen (per usual in blogdom).

Bizmos involved in emergency relief tend to be too busy to log much beyond procedural stats, giving control room overview: quick updates, better feedback. The slower-moving and sometimes more soap operatic operations (a blur of characters) will come when there's more time for reflection. The very same bizmo might be capable in both modes (as are everyday humans: capable of emergency response, but needing relief from too much stress).

Some bizmos assess damage or working conditions, scout locations, prepare the scene. Others may come by after an event and clean up, restore the environment. What happens in between might be anything from a circus to a refugee camp. You need some clowns in both, because children need cheering up. Get some cartoons going in one of the tents, serve popcorn. Let kids laugh if they're able, or cry if that's what's up.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Tillamook cheese factory
(photo by K. Urner, Olympus Stylus 500)

Pioneers from the east discovered their cows really grooved on the grasses here, and soon they were drowning in dairy. Given difficult topography, the smart folk of Tillamook built a boat, the Morning Star, and sailed it to Portland to trade butter for other necessities.

As in Switzerland, local farmers realized how their way of life might be sustained by minting a cheese of dependable quality. They organized accordingly, by hiring some of the best in the business, and the Tillamook County Creamery Association was formed.

The result: the factory is a tourist destination and the Tillamook brand is recognized around the world for excellence (the ice cream is good too).