Monday, August 31, 2009

Walking Tour

A Portland Institution
I dropped off the Chevy Malibu with Enterprise on 6th and Burnside. No surprises. On my way home, I stopped in at Laughing Horse Books, which used to be closer to my home, on Division.

Then I sauntered over to CityBikes, as I'm in the market for something to replace TinkerBell, my stolen steed.

Lastly I stopped in and interviewed a struggling small business doing its best to serve on a street of dreams, SE Belmont. I got to see what ASCAP letters look like, if you want to play covers in a public venue, plus we discussed the (stringent) rules around private partying.

My model for private parties is like Quakers renting space at like Mt. Hood Kiwanis. We hire local staff to cook for us on the premises, pay for floorspace. We bring in our own entertainment, our own trainers (e.g John Calvi). We're allowed to play covers (e.g. songs by Lisa Hubbell).

A private party may double as a teach in i.e. may serve a schooling function. If guests give donations, it may be in support of a worthy cause, such as mathematics reform in Portland Public Schools, long overdue, with the status quo really hurting our economy, destroying streets of dreams.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lindsey's Flyer

Hey Everyone,

Duke's Landing
I'm playing at Duke's Landing Saturday Night at 8:00 PM August 29th, which is today. Sorry for the late notice. Duke's is still BYOB beer and wine with receipt. I've got three hours booked, so if you want to come out and jam or play a few songs, just show up. I'll be setting up at 6:00 PM if you want to sound check, practice some chords or just hang out. I don't want this to be an open mic, but more like a loose jazz and blues jam session.

I'm officially turning this weekly email into a Newsletter. I'll be providing updates on shows and my political and community activities. I'm currently working on a free garden and bicycle project, and would like to blog about them and maybe do Free School classes on them. If you don't want to receive these email updates just respond back to this email and request to be removed from my list.

I've had a good time this week adding many of you as friends on Facebook. I've really enjoy reading everyone's comments and looking at their pictures. While Myspace is good for music, Facebook seems more like the right place to talk about other things like political and personal interests. It's really cool.

Take it easy and hope to see or hear from you all soon!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Even as Wanderers is mostly guys, my digs on Harrison Street are frequented by mostly gals these days. We had five females as guests in the course of the day, complementing the ones who live here. The occasional male visits too, like Trevor recently, so it's a good balance overall, gender-wise. The Python is male (Barry), the chameleon too we think (Melvin).

I've been meaning to get an URL back to Gregor's post, about Wittgenstein's architecture in Vienna, with my reply, posted on the Wittgenstein's Aftermath list. That'll likely happen soon, interspersed with the "brain talk".

There's lots going on with the digital math track, including around translation and propagation, but it's too unfinished to share much about yet.

I sent AFSC a bunch of stuff relating to a "starvation = torture" campaign we might anchor, in collaboration with local Friends. We have John Calvi joining us for a Friend in Residence program extending through Quarterly Meeting this time.

I proposed a list called in our fruitful discussions on This list would serve as a playground for pirate hackers, gypsies, witches, other brands of FOSS boss who prefer to be deliberately provocative as a part of being responsibly direct, even when engaging in diplomacy (this in contrast to bending over backwards to never offend or insult). We'll see where that goes, to /dev/null most likely -- I have limited clout on the diversity list, where Aahz makes the rules, not me.

I talked to Farmer's today about replacing the company car, having received a FedEx about the settlement. Razz was a great vehicle. My thanks to the Subaru company (Fuji Heavy Industries) for producing a robust and reliable product. Yes, it's OK to share the "taxi" among partners (like band members) provided they're all properly licensed to drive in Oregon. The policy covers the car and whatever driver, not just the title holder e.g. 4D. I should visit DMV soon, then talk to Bob again (my agent).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daily Bulletin

Milepost 5

We're gearing up to check out Milepost 5, not neglecting the local neighborhood block party, something to get back to.

On the edu-sig ministry list I'm pushing the analogy between teaching programming and teaching piano: each teacher has a style and usually the students come to the studio, although the idea of an itinerant piano teacher is also a well-known script (or program).

We also need to do more to link theater and computers, per this "agile" meme.

Is a musical instrument "event driven"?

Good Bye Party at Muddy Waters tonight...

Here I am using MW wifi, having a couple cans of Old German Premium Lager outta Pittsburgh. Laura was singing a moody birthday song when I got here, then turned the stage over to Lindsey Walker who is driving that Yamaha keyboard hard, delivering her unique and edgy sound.

Her Freedom Train is not to be missed. Everybody's Stupid expresses a darkly militant solipsism born of disillusionment, yet tinged with humor. Her Sex Doll, sung by the Laura, Lindsey on keyboard, Rick on guitar, all contributing vocals, is a true tour de force.

Dr. Tag and Beth have joined me, the blogger in the corner, geekazoid publisher of vintage brands of kookaholic gibberish (can't get enough eh?).

I'm thinking about our Wanderers at sea quite a bit, hoping that adventure is going OK.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Diversity Training

We've been working on TV show ideas, both the cooking show and the survival show, as components of what I think of as "digital math", though many aren't into seeing it that way (and I'm not into forcing 'em to, recognize the value of having diverse heuristics).

Glenn Stockton is my paradigm "neolithic" in that he has lots of survival skills. He was trained as a spy by the military and sent to Vietnam as a code cracker for NSA, but that's only the beginning of his story. He developed his crafts, including knife-making, in Arizona. I took lots of pictures of his homemade knife this morning, looks very professional.

This focus on knives led to the story of Sikhs coming to America, 14 year old boys and above simply expected to carry a dagger around. In lots of cultures (e.g. Bhutan's), you need those, not for committing atrocities nor even for self defense so much, but as an all purpose tool. You can open shell fish, cut steak, slice vegetables -- no cook would be without her knives, right? And yet of course the public schools had a problem with this, as one boy's all-purpose tool is another boy's weapon (some bully... unless there's real training in this picture, you can't trust 'em with such implements).

Lindsey has an all-purpose knife (Austrian) as a part of her costume, not concealed in any way. She's a kind and thoughtful person, in no way a bully. As a teacher, I'd be fine with her wearing that thing, Glenn wearing his. They're out in the wilderness after all, in the wilds of Arizona or New Mexico, or perhaps in Oregon high desert, teaching skills...

So you see where we fade over to "paramilitary" in this scenario, which sounds odd for a Quaker to be into, but then again, I'm not talking about knives as outward weapons, guns either really. Target practice is a fun sport. I enjoyed shooting that sawed-off that time...

Back to suburbia, I sketched my vision of this gymnasium with six simulators, like the one at OMSI, inheriting from pilot training. GM has a logo on 'em, as this is part of a government (public) program to teach driver's ed. In a simulator, one simulates inertia, acceleration, by tilting the entire platform. If you slam on the brakes, you literally pitch forward. The same simulators might run other programs as well, i.e. just because they help us be safer drivers doesn't mean they can't also make some of us more knowledgeable and aware in other knowledge domains.


Yes, this all sounds expensive, meaning we're creating jobs.

Some of this "diversity talk" is spilling into the diversity list within Python Nation. Our plans to have source code running right to left, would be considered "pilot project" at this stage. It's easy to interleave comments in Arabic or Hebrew, but how do the code editors handle the inherent left-to-right syntax of the Python language? We need field testing more than butt spinning.

The "user group in Baghdad" idea might work better as television at first. I've been networking locally to find sponsors. Having seen Mark Shiley's Untold Stories, I know there's a crying need for more and better hardware over there, more wifi. The Coffee Shops Network could franchise through Abu Dhabi maybe? I don't have a real game plan yet, as we still need more manga code around the whole idea.

Some banks have programmed their ATMs to permit donations to charity, presumably that goes on one's record as a "tax fact". Those of us who live nonprofit lifestyles, perform public service in the private sector, could use audit trails of this kind, but I prefer the social setting of a salon for comparing notes about what's a worthwhile cause (investment). The average bank ATM is unlikely to have anything close to the esoteric offerings a true coffee shop would have, thanks to Jack Daniels or whatever sponsor.

Speaking of sponsors, I'm continuing to push Unilever as a buyer for Pauling House, up for sale in a discreet setting i.e. hardly advertised. I only know cuz I'm board. Unilever is both Liptons and Ben and Jerry's down the street. As a kind of corporate HQS or back office, any company might benefit, in terms of PR. But not every company deserves to benefit so greatly. I've learned enough about the real estate game to know that turning buyers down is as much a part of it as accepting offers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Before Prohibition...

:: one of many brands ::

:: little druggies ::

:: coke for da pope ::
(this wine had cocaine in it, so what?)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PPUG 2009.8.11

:: bug detector (from Flickr) ::

We're on top of the world tonight, at Webtrends, top floor in a downtown Portland sky tower. This company obviously treats its people well. Michelle of Emma (her company) is treating us well as well, showing up with large numbers of gourmet Hot Lips pizzas and premium beers.

I'm glad I didn't eat supper, as this is definitely the real deal.

The FM radio stations are fussing about the cloud cover. Tonight, the Perseid meteor shower reaches a climax but no one near Portland is going to see that. We've had clear skies until today, when it's overcast and rainy.

You'd need to drive out the gorge anyway, to escape light pollution, but this weather means there's no viewpoint within a convenient driving radius (as a family, we tried Rooster Rock one year, somewhat disappointing).

We're like 40 people here tonight, including one child (she's part of the videotaping crew), at least as many as at the Ruby group the other night. I'd call this a party, although the chatter is unrelentingly technical, with some lore mixed in.

My meeting with Patrick Barton earlier today focused on simulation games as key to recruiting intelligent players into policy-making. If you want to build customer loyalty around your power company's development strategy, then have them appreciate the world you face, including their own role in that world.

Patrick, an accomplished psychometrician, is persuaded that simulations often more effectively communicate about complex, nuanced systems than any number of research papers, though it's not either/or. Kids probably learn more about urban studies from playing Sim City than from most textbooks, for better or worse.

We're not talking first person shooters here -- more like Civilization (Patrick had just been playing it, sampling the state of the art).

The military has budget for such games, aimed at recruiting, why not civilians too? Are we serious about nation-building, or just giving lip service?

If your rural high desert academy sells power to the grid from its wind farm or micro-hydel, then let's visualize that as a part of the game. If you're a water bureau encouraging conservation, share a relevant simulation with the schools.

Just before this meeting I was at Laurelhurst Rehabilitation Center visiting TC. This is one of those "as good as it gets" care centers, where most of the overworked staff don't themselves get any health coverage as a part of their low-wage jobs.

Meeting Tom's basic requirements, e.g. pain meds on time, has been an uphill slog. Most people are less effective self advocates (especially if sedated), don't like to be squeaky wheels -- and so fall through the cracks sometimes (the system encourages this).

Speaking of health care, North Americans were going berserk on TV about it, indulging in what passes for political debate around here. Intelligent discussion is not what the public airwaves are about -- more like cartoons, corporately sponsored lunacy (i.e. entertaining fluff). At least it's participatory. The town meetings have been well attended.

Mindfulness and consciousness
are separable concepts (per another filing today).

As AFSC rep and liaison, I've been getting some readings from various points within the organization, helping me grok what some of the issues are. I'll write more about that in some other post. Carol (my mom) is on the board, so between the two of us, we get some good overview.

Michelle did a short talk on the optparse module (I remember exploring that on Amtrak's Coast Starlight for amusement, some years ago). She has a nice loud voice and cheerful demeanor. It's no wonder she's our leader. Her example code spits out a "Python meeting date" given a -m month and -y year. If you don't want to go, use the -e option and the Python Oracle provides an excuse.

Adam Lowry is giving a full-fledged talk, originally a candidate for OS Bridge. This is about automated testing for Python projects, e.g. unit testing, functional testing, and web testing.

The Standard Module's unittest module is fairly minimal. It's a good place to start but gets difficult. A 3rd party module called nose is Adam's preferred solution. py.test is also worth considering. Nose sniffs out any callable (e.g functions or classes) that matches a simple pattern (has the string "test" in it etc.), allows for setup and tear down. Doctest is somewhat limited. Nose will work with it though.

Fakes, dummies, stubs and mocks provide simplified behaviors, basically simulate working components. For example, the decorator @mock.patch() will replace a callable with some other callable. We call this "monkey patching". mox replays / verifies against expectations. Suppose you want to simulate a database failing or other glitch, without actually forcing that behavior for real. Testing libraries put your code in a simulator, apropos of the above.

Could high schools have simulators, like OMSI has? Patrick and I were yakking about teaching driving skills, but you could use simulators for other purposes as well.

Now we're looking at Twill, a tiny language for primitive web testing. Windmill is probably better than Selenium according to Adam. This is if your project has Javascript and requires in-browser testing.

Hey, check out Igal's write-up, quite succinct and not "all over the place" like mine.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lightning Talk

[KU adds, in 2013:] This is like one of those rants in Uru, some guy in an animated book, leaving a message in a semi-crazed, even frantic state.  One comes across these recordings later.  They lead you deeper into the mysteries of the (language) game.
To just bleep over the concentric hierarchy of polyhedra, based around a unit volume tetrahedron, is to me a terrifyingly cowardly decision, is a threat to our shared future ... "How could humans do this to themselves?" I find myself asking....

So then, when I go off and vent by making a little video suggesting I'm just dealing with quacks, readers looking over my shoulder can at least see where I'm coming from. It drives them crazy too (some of them) as I'm not the only die-hard in my little camp.
[math-teach, March 14, 2010]

Forbidden Knowledge
Back on the Beat
Focal Points
Buried Treasure
Pointful Gossip

Sunday, August 09, 2009

PSF Posting

[fragment of a thread on the PSF members list, hyperlinks added, posting Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 2:13 PM ]

>> (how about sponsoring members at least get
>> a sticky decal on a Python Kingdom decal sheet,
>> like Yahoo! puts out? -- calling it a Kingdom
>> feeds the Monty Python conceit of having
>> knights, like Sir Laura (I was also suggesting
>> passports awhile back, for $9.95 from the PSF gift
>> shop, get a stamp for each Pycon and/or
>> EuroPython you attend)).
> Too cheesy... we have standards. ;-)

The Yahoo! decal sheets were pretty slick at OS Bridge, I'm uploading a picture:

With the passports, it'd be fun to imitate real nation state passports very closely, with similar watermarks and official-looking bling.

When this Python geek goes through passport control, it'd be fun to fumble and hand 'em the wrong one by mistake, then apologize, give 'em the "real" one (whatever that is). And don't forget to embed RFID! (see if Stallman gets mad, give him a free one).

I don't know if any of our sponsoring members are rich enough to have a fleet of Gulfstreams or LearJets, but if they wanted to take the PSF logo and apply it to the tail of one of those airplanes, I think we should seriously consider accepting that offer, unless we really think the company involved is too cheesy (but then it probably wouldn't have jets? -- not necessarily, Swiss have jets, and cheese both).

That's pie in the sky talk I realize.

Speaking of which, how about spending the money on a real flag, the kind you run up a flag pole and unfurl? Maybe at future Pycons, like at a Hyatt or whatever, we could ask 'em to fly it somewhere, maybe under the US or Georgia one, or the Italian one if this is Rome (Vatican?).

My role model is OLPC to some extent as I think G1G1 was pretty brilliant, despite the low turnout. The goal was worthy and we think spreading awareness of free tools is like offering free medicine in some situations, i.e. you don't have to take out a loan to manage your banking system, just write it in house, no "piracy" need apply.

I'm not sure I buy that the Python community is intrinsically averse to marketing. The "Python fits your brain" and "batteries included" tag lines were both worthy and effective. Congratulations to the people behind those.

The free spin Python gets from xkcd is to-die-for, all the more so because it's free. Pythons in general are good advertising (we have one, it's beautiful) and we hardly pay them a dime.

I think what turns people off is the idea of "aggressive push advertising" which stomps on sister languages i.e. we obviously love the Republic of Perl and have no interest in profiting at the expense of our close allies across the board. I'm all for a big tent approach and think my "just use it" tag line, homage to Nike's, is properly neutral in this regard ("just use something else" is equally valid).

I'd love to see Camels on some jet tails, not talking about the tobacco company's.

Hey, I realize my suggestions sound over-the-top and unrealistically expensive, but if you think of a TV show designed to teach real skills, like Sesame Street for geeks and geek wannabes, then these "world domination" memes could just become part of the woodwork, i.e. the backdrop for the show is "geeks making it happen" and guess what, it ain't so bad. Not too 'Mad Max', not too 'Blade Runner'.

Kids are really learning relevant stuff for a change in this parallel science fiction TV world (this "other tomorrow") that seems a lot less hellish -- so a good recruiting tool, for geekdom in general (the show would be more like "OSCON meets Make:" i.e. a mixture of software and hardware, device controlling by means of scripting, with lots of socially meaningful "helping people" type stuff that our women more enjoy (guys are more easily satisfied, by simple explosions, loud noises...)).

We'd want real geeks for talking heads, lots of skits like on Monty Python. Could be fun. Presumes a culture that really cares about its young people though, so maybe Japan or like Russia?


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Quakers 101

Note from a PNW Friend: my daughter worked hard as a babysitter, saved her money, and is right now buying a larger aquarium for her friend Barry, a python. I'm proud that she would share her good fortune with a fellow creature, a member of the reptile kingdom.

Quakers tend to be somewhat eclectic in their choice of Friends and fellow travelers, one of our liberal hallmarks as "among the unprogrammed" (deprogrammed?). Jesus is a role model here in that he liked hanging out with tax collectors (we have those too), Roman soldiers, other people the zealots would never rub shoulders with (cuz they're zealots, i.e. "left behinders").

Here's one of me eating sushi with friends in Seattle:

Monday, August 03, 2009

Yakking with Old Timers

I was over in Oregon high desert recently, checking in with some friends. Some of these boomers have lived here a long time by now, given boomers are turning 60 or thereabouts, plus the land was settled by immigrants rather recently, mostly post Lewis & Clark.

In my view there's some paranoia around this 2011 troop withdrawal. Why isn't that finished already? They went in there really quickly. Is there some problem with logistics?

That was the hope with this last election, plus the Iraqis had one too, same result: end the occupation now! (that was over a year ago). We were at least hoping to see some real work getting done, to get our economy re-pointed in a positive direction. Is someone holding out for a higher salary here?

2011 is a "debate year" in anticipation of 2012, meaning they'll want us to maybe return a different verdict this time, re-fight the same fight, maybe get a different outcome? They're hedging aren't they?

They made 'em vote seven times in Palau, before they "got it right" and said parking nuclear weapons in a tropical paradise was okey-dokey. State wouldn't accept defiance on this issue, wouldn't take no for an answer, especially from indigenous women (the most bravely opposed).

The name of this game is Operation Dilly Dally isn't it? There's a constipation problem at some level in the Ruling Party (that'd be Democrats yes?). Someone is being all foot draggy.

Washington DC is still trying to colonize isn't it, force its will down our throats? Not all Oregonians are equally appreciative.

Count me suspicious, and I'm not the only boomer who thinks NPR is too spineless. Let's debate this now in 2009, move over health care. Why aren't the troops flooding home, top story? Our BS detectors are set on high, so please be cogent and succinct. No lame excuses this time OK?

Before leaving Portland I had back to back meetings with Quakers: Oversight and Quarterly Meeting Planning. During the former, I ranted about "bland Protestants" who suck (how geeks talk sometimes). Our assistant clerk made some wry quips about that. He has a background in journalism I think.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ban Liposuction?

Some of us geeks have been thinking it'd make sense for Americans to tighten their belts and forgo any elective cosmetic surgeries in a time of war.

Our more ethical ancestors of WW2 vintage would not have disgraced themselves by spending money on vanity, when our brave men and women were being stop lossed overseas, warehoused in high heat, with sand storms, nothing to do except waste their young lives.

It's a national tragedy, these occupational forces, far from home and with no obvious mission. If 100K troops in Iraq is really necessary, then we really shouldn't be all frivolous and party minded while they're out there. That's just ugly. Geeks seem in agreement.

People who know how to do nose jobs should be volunteering their services, as many are coming home with broken faces, having been sent there by power mad neocons with no relevant training and no coherent plan (Wolfowitz for example: not really a "soldier" by any stretch of the imagination, nor really all that skilled as a civilian either).

Where I ended up on Facebook: "I'm thinking of a harmless videogame for soldiers where they watch liposuction candidates float in this lava lamp, get to pop 'em. High desert entertainment. They think maybe this is nixing cosmetic surgeries but there's actually no link."

Plus maybe call it a "larva lamp" instead of a "lava lamp"? Reminds me of Wall-e.

And from Synergeo: Troops will like this idea: you get a big fat-ass USAer rotating on your screen, an image of some slob wanting to be less fat, and you "pop" her or him, meaning the procedure won't get done, not as long as you're sitting in the desert under the thumb of has-beens with no brains or balls.