Friday, March 30, 2007

High Desert

:: chopping wood ::

:: crooked river ::

:: teepee + contrail ::

photos by K. Urner

Friday, March 23, 2007

Meeting Minutes

Thanks Ken, for chronicling my wife's passing on Synergeo (#33127). We have so many partially overlapping communities in life, and in death also. For those of you entirely unfamiliar with my wife's story, and also for her friends, I tried to give a sense of it in Grain of Sand.

Per a posting to Synergeo just prior to yours (#33125), I'm seeing mental arithmetic getting a new partner in arms: mental geometry. Our students need both kinds of training, and computers will help. I'm thinking lexical and graphical, times tables and hypertoons.

Dawn ran a tight ship around here, a business as much as a household. She and I were business partners for years before we got married, and our Dawn Wicca and Associates will persist as a business. She just paid Dick Hannah today, for extending the life of our Razz, per the post below. A factory new clutch was transplanted into the vehicle. These Subaru Legacy models are meant to last well into the hundreds of thousands, with proper care and feeding.

I had a good talk with DeeKay this evening about Steve Baer's dissection of the enneacontahedron, into A thru E modules, hexahedral zonohedra, one of 'em almost flat. He's got 'em all done in Zome these days and ratioed to the phi-scaled T modules, per his trademark "language game" (Wittgenstein). He especially likes how the Baer B module gets composed.

Koski has already registered but hasn't gotten around to hosting it yet. All in good time. It's not like he hasn't been sharing his information.

S. Baer's Zonohedra in Zome, by Koski
Top: B, E - Bottom: D, C, A

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dust to Dust

The girls and I went to this classic American funeral home in Tigard this morning, to choose some urns and pay for services and death certificates.

The girls enjoyed playing with this sweet little dog (as did I -- dachshunds were a big part of my boyhood).

I've included this picture of Razz in front of the funeral home because she's close to death herself, given how hard I've been driving her. She's scheduled for the car hospital tomorrow.

We call this our "time capsule," an art deco feature that came with the house (hides a chimney). Every household needs a place to display mementos. To the left on the wall is our Quaker marriage certificate.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Praying for Dawn

:: dawn wicca in thimphu
with anzir, one of mom's students
and the family vehicle ::

Dawn slipped away quietly, seeming to nudge me awake as she went, as I was slumbering nearby, with other family. I was the first to see that her breath was gone, then awakened Sam, then we awakened the girls.

Friends arrived and we carried out Dawn's final wishes, using a shroud in a somewhat Jewish design pattern, other icons and symbols. She wanted to die at home in our living room among us.

Here was my email to her healing circle:
Greetings Friends --

Dawn died quietly and peacefully in her sleep tonight, around 12:45 AM, surrounded by family. After a few friends arrived we surrounded her with mementos and symbols of her practice and faith (drum, double dorji, a bead necklace made by her dear friends), then wrapped her in a shroud contributed by Carolyn.

Elizabeth sprinkled some holy water on her body, from the holy wells they'd visited in Ireland.

I feel in a position to send you her deepest personal thank yous for all your love and support these last few days and weeks.

A memorial service is planned probably for early April. Please watch for another email with more details. We will all miss her very much, although she will still be with each one of us in our hearts.

We haven't set a memorial date yet, and until we do, I won't be submitting anything to The Oregonian.

I continue keeping a vigil, firing up several altars with one of the little icons (a little dead pirate guy) representing me, and moving from station to station.

from The Oregonian, pg. D6, 2007.3.24

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Quaker Community

Dawn's support team swung into high gear this afternoon, rearranging furniture to give her the best possible view, with the couch for more visitors, the reclining chair, from Golf Lakes Estates (belonging to my mom's parents in Bradenton, Florida (came here by truck)) now optional.

Movement is painful, her legs frail. Mostly, she'll be needing the bed.

My own sense is of grieving and gratitude, as I've seen brave individuals doing their professional and familial best to help Dawn extend her life in a good way. I've been her coach and sometimes hard taskmaster, wanting to really work in my role. But now I understand she's ready for me to back off and let nature take its course, while continuing along faithfully by her side, eternally her friend and partner.

Alexia has moved up her visit, originally scheduled for May, in response to swiftly changing events. Friends are pulling together, assisting us in every way.

I appreciated the call from Wanderer Glenn Stockton, about the event at Powell's Books today, even though I couldn't make it. And thank you to Kim for her expert assistance and meat loaf.

√Člise brought strong horse medicine, her forte. She'd hauled her two large animals for hundreds of miles on the freeway, with her young daughter, to an intensive retreat on equestrian massage near Silverton, with Ruth at a horse camp in Redland.

When Dawn and I first met, she was hooked up with √Člise in this horsey reality, doing bookkeeping for CUE, plus they were both doing Wy'East, a training very much in the Lakota medicine wheel tradition with sweat lodges and everything.

This was many moons ago. I joined Wy'East as well but dropped out around when it came time to make your own drum, with a dried skin from a taxidermist -- like I'd already gotten the girl by this point.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Philosophy Talk

Quinn phoned to alert me to FM 91.5's Philosophy Talk last night, a rebroadcast of the March 4 program on Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of my favorite philosophers.

I tuned in just as our stage lion Popper, his regal mane flickering in the firelight, was fending off a menacing Ludwig. So brave, so heroic, these Englishmen, so unflummoxed by Austrian faux aggression.

Had I phoned in, I'd have circled in on Philosophical Investigations Part II, which I think talks up the relevance of what we'd later call "gestalt switches" in psychology. The "meaning as use" bullet doesn't really fly minus this dropping of the other shoe: "seeing according to an interpretation."

Vis-a-vis philosophy's more diabolical conundrums like "the problem of other minds," the PI suggests a more right brained "waking up" experience versus some sort of left brained logico-lexical sorting out, though such work paves the way in many cases.

Of course "gestalt switches" are something of an anathema to logicians as they smack of divine revelations, visitations by angels, other varieties of religious experience, all of which tend to short circuit perfectly good arguments, plus tend to lead to a lot of private language jabber.

But this is where I think Wittgenstein would point to what's right about solipsism, namely that these dharmas, or awakenings, are only intended for you, like those gates to the law in that famous Kafka parable. Don't make the mistake of thinking your insights will necessarily be of relevance to the philosopher sitting right next to you -- like est taught us that.

I thought Boston U's Juliet Floyd held her own amidst all the clever banter and repartee, standing up for the Tractatus as an attack on totalitarian visions of some positivist triumph.

Someone, I forget who, made a snarky crack about Rorty (my thesis advisor) which no one bothered to decode. I think that's what we expect when philosophers hobnob: snide asides and insider jokes designed to get the true believers chuckling knowingly.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Human Subjects

My information on Body Worlds 3 @ OMSI is this is not the same exhibit I saw in both London and Seattle, which had a somewhat straight laced medical theme, but the more arty version, such as I glimpsed in Miami in the latest 007 movie, Casino Royale.

So is this exhibit symptomatic of an horrific, pathological culture that has no sensitivity regarding human dignity and/or the sanctity of human life? Some people think so, or are at least strongly suspicious in this regard.

On the other hand, per Da Vinci's notebooks, other art of the Italian Renaissance, admiration for nature, as opposed to disdain for creation as "fallen" and/or "sinful" might be what's going on.

Above is the human figure in an heroic pose, somewhat in the style of socialist realism, but in this case with with a touch of surrealism and/or symbolism too, as he's griping a large snake.

Such commemorative displays serve to acknowledge personality traits we feel deserve to be celebrated, such as bravery and loyalty.

We also display the human figure in department stores, usually with slender torsos and long necks.

Some would consider all of the above forms of idolotry, a practice associated with dolls, statues, relics, puppets and animations, imbuing them with a misplaced sacred significance.

One could argue that the practice of shunning dolls as idolotrous is in itself idolotrous, in that it attaches too much unholy significance to them.

Per usual, it takes one to know one where sinners are concerned.

Unchaining Rig

Monday, March 05, 2007

Synergetics Dictionary

The four volume Synergetics Dictionary: The Mind of Buckminster Fuller, created by E.J. Applewhite, is an inventory of Fuller's precise usage patterns around sometimes familiar words (but here with a new spin).

Fuller attached a lot of importance to clear communication, saying he'd rather be not understood than misunderstood.

Depicted above is the beginning of a multi-panel foldout at the beginning of the first volume (A-E).
Here Fuller is noting that the number of ways n random experiences completely interconnect is the triangular number (n+1)*n/2 or 0, 1, 3, 6, 10, 15..., which triangles may be stacked into a growing tetrahedron of experiences -- a primitive model of Universe in Synergetics.
"I am not a creator, I am a swimmer, a dismisser of irrelevances" J. Baldwin quotes from the dictionary, in his blurb for the Whole Earth Review (Summer, 1987).

Applewhite uses this motif, of six relationships among four experiences, as a graph (the "linear tetrahedron"), and explicitly as a tetrahedron, as a colophon to the dictionary (Garland Publishing, New York and London, 1986).

This fold-out illustration by Fuller (Sept 11, 1963) is double sided, so what's shown above is only the 2nd half of it.
My copy was a gift from Ed himself, retrieved from the attic of his Georgetown apartment that time Matt and I visited, enroute from Montclair, NJ to Whittier, CA, driving my sister's car (she'd moved across country). This treasure made it home safely and I've consulted it ever since.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Add, Multiply or...?

abstract algebra
(a "gnu math" approach)

I'm somewhat proud of this little storyboard I published to Math Forum this morning, which is mostly straight group theory, but then I mention a third operation, neither addition nor multi- plication, using the symbol for the artist formerly known as Prince.

I hope he's OK with that.

When two of these Zoombini-like cartoon characters collide, they do whatever's the currently displayed operation.

Like if the name of the game is "to multiply" and the partners just happen to be reciprocals, like 2 and 1/2, then you get that special one particle.

But if the op is "to add" and the characters are like -2 and +2, then their collision begets a zero, these being the multiplicative and additive identities respectively (1 and 0).

The prince op (shortened name) would have its own notion of inverse, and its own identity element. I haven't shown it in the above "logic gates" view of balls combining (members of Q, the rationals), thinking to leave this op to the students' imaginations.

Note that we don't really consider subtraction and/or division to be ops in their own right, as in abstract algebra we define these as "adding the additive inverse of" and "multiplying by the multiplicative inverse of" respectively.

All this fantasizing about colliding sprites in a Scratch-like playspace got me thinking about Luxor 2 I think, as that's where I ended up, further advancing my career as some Egyptian glass bead gamer.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Algebra Two with Python

I decided to redo the sound track for this one, first recorded in January, mostly because of the big drop off in volume half way through, which I was unable to fix.

Then I decided a fresh narrative would be an improvement for other reasons. However, given these are just archived pilots, I don't expect to be squandering much energy on polishing them.