Monday, December 26, 2011

Hanukkah / Xmas / Saternalia / Solstice

:: december, 2011 ::

I'm serious about Saternalia, thinking of "that of God" (Quakerese) in Roman culture, from the vantage point of Mt. Tabor and the aqueducts leading into it.  The architecture looks old English, but echoes still older.

Some District of Columbia wants us to cover them over, like with domes. Like Alaskans and Californians, Oregonians don't always follow orders from this non-state calling itself a "district".  Cascadia has its own forms of nationalism / bioregionalism.

The Hanukkah party featured little hand crotcheted hats by Alexia's David.  We discussed various medical conditions and treatments, affecting old and young among us (each a different case).  Conversation roamed into comedy, that of Louis CK and others.  We exchanged gifts and ate latkas.

Xmas itself was a low key affair featuring immersion of the household, especially Tara and I, into living room movie watching:  Gattaca, Alice in Wonderland (Disney's newest), Primer (twice:  once with director commentary), The Great Debaters, Rocket Science.

Glenn came by Xmas morning and shared the rest of the cinnamon french toast.  He gave me a set of DIY books for home maintenance.  Nothing about building a TV studio per se, but an overlapping skill set for sure.

Jen and Melody departed south and north respectively, to rendezvous with their families.

At intermission, I downloaded Stellarium to the laptop and projected the night sky to the south.  Tara and I then stood on our south-facing porch and identified Rigel, Sirius, Betelgeuse, Procyon using short term memory.

For dinner, Tara and I adjourned to the very busy Fujin, one of the few restaurants serving, along with Mt. Tabor Cafe.  Earlier on Christmas Day we took Sarah Angel to the reservoirs and surveyed the city from about half way up.  We'd planned to hike to the top, like the Nallys had, but it started to rain.

Cousin Mary's visit before Xmas Eve was a highlight.  She regaled us with stories at the Bagdad.  She and I had Moroccan Coffees (alcoholic) while Tara got the crumble dessert (which all sampled).  We discussed our wide ranging family and friends, Tara's college process.

Tara couldn't make the Solstice Party (nor the boat ride with Barry).  Dawn used to host a big one, ever since our first taking up residence together on Rhine Street (not far from Aladdin Theater).  We'd invite lots of Quakers.  As I was mentioning around Burma Night, Dawn would have integrated well into our Food Not Bombs community.  The gathering at Satya's was epic, though I didn't stay long.

Through all of this, I'm putting in my hours along the Python track, making sure students stay busy.  They can work on ahead without me, but if I kick back for too long I just have that much more to catch up on.  Staying up all hours is a theme around here though.

The Blue House is a lot like a submarine, with someone always awake.  We don't "burn the midnight oil" so much though -- we only have the furnace on a few hours a week.

xmas tree 2009 (solid)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jitterbug Party

:: jitterbug party, 2011 ::

One can't but help feel one's cult or club member like status in a room full of people who speak the shop talk of Synergetics to some degree.  The lineage is still somewhat obscure and esoteric.

There's a crystallographic flavor, which brings in the more classically trained chemists such as Steve Mastin.

We had some bona fide Silicon Foresters in our midst (at least two folks from Intel).

Our guest of honor was James Nystrom, a computer geek and professor, with lots of overlapping interests in physics and so on.  John Driscoll picked up on a lot of the jargon from his Systems angle.

The event was orchestrated by Sam Lanahan, with Wardwell and myself assisting with the guest list.  Having Trevor Blake, Glenn Stockton and Nick Consoletti in the maxi taxi was a privilege.  Good seeing LaJean again, as well as meeting these new people.

Interesting to me was how the night before we'd been looking at a picture of a younger Alex, accepting the Nobel Prize on behalf of his mom, and now tonight John was boasting (in a self-humbling not too self-serious way) about delivering a talk on the physics of consciousness from that very same famous podium / stage.  A nice segue between consecutive dinner parties, both of the highest caliber.  The projected synergy is already kicking in it seems.

What I found gratifying is that a gent was applying differential and integral calculus to a cuboctahedron and coming up with some interesting properties, and was also playing cellular automaton games with the tetrahedron, random walking it, per a rule set, within the IVM.

He wants to tackle A & B modules maybe.  He gets some of his graphics from Bob Gray.

The back story here is Sam and his 10-frequency flextegrity tetrahedron made their debut at the Rhode Island School of Design for the annual SNEC-organized Synergetics shindig, where he met this fellow Nystrom (Pearce was there too).

The fact that Dr. Nystrom talked Jitterbug and IVM and knew differential calculus made him the ideal resource to pair up with Mark Martin, who has been sweating the details of a Flextegrity computer model based in differential equations for springs.

Nystrom is one of those who takes seriously Fuller's pulsating vector field concepts, as articulated by the Jitterbug sending ripple effects through the IVM.  There's a Negative Universe aspect.

Since he asked, whether we thought "IVM" or "octet-truss" would be best, I argued for IVM in the more theoretical context, as it makes a better dramatic foil for XYZ (also three letters).  "Octet truss" refers to the more times-size realized versions, the less abstract.  Bell's kites come to mind immediately, for many of us.

Saving the best for last in some ways:  Nystrom mentioned using quadrays in one of his academic papers.  I'd not heard of anyone doing that besides me in FoxPro Advisor, March 1999 (more an industry trade mag than an academic journal for sure).  Wow.  If there's a citation to track down here, I should do so.

Trevor and I played at the dinner table with BuckyBalls that he'd brought (the magnetic balls, so simple).  Even though they're polarized, they'll come together in a tetrahedron.

Holiday shopping... must do some.  But work has me pinned to the laptop.  Boat ride with Barry coming up.  Wish Tara could go but she'd probably be the only girl.  Nirel has the same consideration.  Sam suggested I invite Dondi to his event but I don't know her well enough, speaking of woman Wanderers I admire.  Maybe Trish and her son will join us on the boat.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lightning Talk

:: holiday message ::

Great rant Charlie. You sound like one o' of them "Occupiers".  Trying to reach out to the soldiers...  Pretty bold guy.  I bet Newt would tell ya to take a shower and get a job you little bum.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Eye Care

The "I Care" campaign departs from the usual attack on a disease and simply states that every human being has a right to correctional lenses if indicated, which humanity has a moral obligation to provide. Of course the NFL will debate both sides of that resolution, but in the mean time, the "aff camp" (contending in the affirmative), with considerable resources, needn't sit on its duff. Lets get more of those eye exam buses fielded already, backed by ophthalmologists without borders.

This goes back to OPDX 2012 and the planning we were doing for our Ministry of Education. Camping gear / XRL was expected to become yet more ephemeral (more with less). Rather than have such a clunky dome in the A Camp, we might cover all of B Camp, or call it D Camp. This didn't have to be downtown. You may remember the planning meetings. A way to occupy the indoors. I went to Ikea.

I've been suggesting XOM get involved, as a part of the new Asian focus. Having a Russian Peace Corps (MirCorps) in the wings was the planning around Troutdale. These jets could be in Hillsboro as well, and meant for domestic / local service. I haven't even checked where Gulfstreams are allowed to land, if we're looking to repaint more of those.

When you get the exam, lenses and frames, an effort will be made to connect you in to medical records, if there's no record already. You will likely get the usual messages about how integrating your identity across systems is a job you might help with. Do not take only a passive interest in how your records get kept. Activists welcome. Designers, we need your assistance.

Speaking of which, the Oregon initiatives around open source record keeping in general might be a good place for "I Care" to start. As an off shore NGO, we're not worried about trying to jump through hoops to become some certified HMO / PPO covered entity. This isn't business as usual.
However, with the Chinese peacekeeper concept (like peacecorps), or the Russian MirCorps (like a geek corps), we're able to advertise some alternatives to high cost "all American" health care (the kind that leaves people out in the cold to die). [1]
Like the cruise ships (some of them), the criterion for service is not "ability to pay". We expect that access to money accounts is negligible in these monopoly games, with way more losers than winners. Doesn't mean they shouldn't have eye glasses though. We're just not that selfish, even if that's not true about you.

Of course realistically we might need more self serve, ways to administer one's own eye test. Our delegation to Managua found people scrounging through boxes, trying pairs on, using trial and error against an inventory of hand-me-downs.

I'm thinking /dreaming of a better service on average, such that we might have more pride our our species of hominid (however bloodthirsty). Why deny a person prescription lenses in a frame (a pair of spectacles)? Other healthcare may be more difficult to provide on such an industrial scale. Lets make a difference where we can, when we can, while we can.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Erudite Oregonians

:: Go Cleveland Cannibals, and all you Oregonians ::

It was again my distinct privilege to chauffeur and judge at Clackamas High School not far off I-205, Sunnyside exit. Did I hear 46 schools were represented? That's mind-boggling if so. And that's what the event was, for its fearsome complexity and choreography.

Gonzo showed me right where he and Tara first met, in the hall in front of the Media Center, she the aspiring debater hoping to get a team going, and he the debate coach transferring to Cleveland High School, where she was. She made it to nationals, which Gonzo had always been curious about. He, she and his son Griffith went to Dallas this summer, joining other Oregonians and talent from all over the country. Tara is 36th in something or other (not to be dismissive, I'm obviously quite proud of her), in some national ranking system of the NFL (National Forensics League).

Anyway, back to yesterday: I'd judged here a year ago. This time I got to see lots of LD debates (Lincoln Douglas), the kind Tara specialized in during her high school years. I also judged poetry, impromptu speaking, prepared speeches. I came away proud of these young people. They're quite a diverse body and from all over the map (Tibet, India, Cambodia, Multnomah, Redmond... Guatemala). Such lovely people.

Yes, I took a lot of pictures in that one math classroom, B10, where we did some poetry. These were intense readings, lots of passion and thought. They needed a theme, readings from at least three sources to connect the dots, some remarks in between.

What also impressed me as we were gathering were the professional posters the sports teams were getting. Pretty impressive, to have posters like that. I snarfed up the girl teams especially, not knowing when my battery might die. I consider them more exotic, because it's not all that long ago that women didn't get the same privileges as men in sports. I was feeling proud their posters were so humbling, if that makes any sense.

Back to the events: Tara was quite appreciative and sportsmanlike (heh) regarding her various opponents. Those winning this time she may have won against before and vice versa. The best of the pack are like a club. This is definitely a variety of para- or pre-legal training, I'd say effective. Tara is not currently planning to make a study of law her focus (thinking more STEM), but that doesn't preclude her from getting a feel for the dynamics of Matt's world, for example (collegial, yet competitive, a willingness to fight hard for your client against people you know you'll likely have lunch with).

These meetups are excellent demonstrations of inter-generational collaboration. The adults really want to do their jobs well. They're all paying it forward, serving their world, putting their shoulder to the cause of civil process, working things out by the athletics of speech and expression, theater, not massacre and mayhem. Civilization was served, that seemed clear to everyone I thought.

The resolution for LDers this time: individuals are morally obligated to assist people in need. I could write a few reams on how that went down. Maybe I will. More of this on TV, with these same youth performing, oldsters too, would make sense to me. Too geeky? Hey, give us some channels to be as geeky as we wanna be.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (movie review)

Not to worry: just because I've seen one semi-hagiographic DVD made by some of her best friends, am I now suddenly some authority on Objectivism or what have you. This will not be a boring lecture decrying (or embracing) her metaphysics (if that's an appropriate word).

"Awww, what a sweetheart" was my more up front reaction, along with "so is this what the fuss was about?" I'd checked out The Fountainhead in like 8th grade, noticing its push-button value in adult faces. Like anyone that age (and younger) I wanted to be a part of the conversation, and this looked like a ticket. But then I lost the thread, and hey, who gets to live near a Movie Madness well stocked with well made documentaries? Certainly not me, until my middle years, when I had the good fortune to occupy a space in 97214 (actually, a few spaces).

What I guess people don't get, quite, is how the USSR of the day was a convenient backdrop against which to play out big labor disputes (many still ongoing). The reality of the Russian experience was going to take much longer to get through, given the Doppler Effect of human affairs and osmosis. Ayn was first wave messenger from a world deep in dire straits, a hell for so many. New York had its own Broadway version of Russia going, more romantic, more a projection. Rather than fault that, just accept it, and read Hugh Kenner in The Pound Era about the invention of China (while we're at it). So yeah, she was out of tempo with the drama so many were on about, but hey, she'd trained with the best, in Hollywood, and knew how to hold her own. Good for her. I admire her gumption, her complete commitment to her dreams.

But then I'm hopelessly lost in some other dimension, is the other shoe maybe. My meaning of "capitalism" for example: I play cities against cities, like we do in sports, talking about London and Hanoi as my "capitals". These days I'm severely dissing WDC and boosting Portland. That's me being a capitalist, using my head in a sensible way. Ayn Rand did the same, boosting New York, loving those skyscrapers. Hey, go for it girl.

We watched in my living room, Tara, Steve Holden and I all on our lap tops, doing our work. Tara found Phil Donahue amusing and I found myself explaining about the invention of the TV talk show and the pioneers of the genre, Oprah in the same lineage. Ninja David showed up on my porch during intermission asking to borrow my cell phone, sucking me back into my own Food Not Bombs soap opera (David "give me a hug..." fade out, cue laugh track, see ya next week).

The funniest part of the Ayn Rand story (at her expense, but she could laugh about it later): she's like totally gung ho to sail into New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty, seeing the skyline, has dreamed for this day all her life, and she sleeps through it or something (I was glancing at my laptop when they said what the problem was). Never mind. She had her tears of joy later. So many of her dreams came true.

Speaking of which, the other irony or poetic twist if you prefer, was that this ardent atheist would have so many miraculous experiences, such as finding herself a handsome / dashing Roman soldier right off the set of King of Kings, with Cecil B. DeMille himself taking her under his wing. "You can't make this stuff up." Which leaves open to question, "so who does?" Ayn (I'm guessing): "you don't need a who (no agency)." God: "look ma, no hands!"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Office Studio

Tara successfully burned an ISO of Ubuntu 8.04 and wiped her Gutsy Gibbon off the face of her hard drive. That gave her the confidence to try again with a more recent 32-bit LTS ISO from her workstation upstairs (overlooking the deck). She reported this morning that all was working, though the Flash plugin that started it all (not having one) still needed to go on.

Chairman Steve was over during the latter part of this. I called it an "install mitzvah" again, even though this wasn't specifically Python. We sat in the office but didn't use Wifi for much, as Tara was getting that 700 MB ISO. At Open Bastion, download times would be significantly shorter.

No update about Eve in awhile, I need to call Uncle Bill.

A lot of architects failed to anticipate that making video would be as critical as watching it, so that "media room" really should have been designed with cameras in mind. On the other hand, given how small the cameras, retro-fitting is hardly a problem if there's budget, and is what many have already done.

Given the gaping hole in my ceiling (beneath the deck) owing to previous architectural mistakes, upgrading the office would be my opportunity to show off home studio concepts.

People could interview here, or serve news. Granted: the basement is already sourcing some "guerrilla girl" pilots, but less primitivist aesthetics should also be within range, more blue screeny / weather forecasty (lots of global data streams to patch into, syndicated to home studios everywhere).

I'm taking a vacation from Synergeo until 2012, putting more thought into Koski's list instead. We're having some interesting threads, about tensegrity and so on.

Upcoming OPDX meetup (check Calagator for others):
Friday, December 2; 6:30 p.m.
Multnomah Friends Meeting House
4312 SE Stark Street

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Business Cards


Friday, November 25, 2011

TG 2011

:: tg 2011 ::

Our plan to join the family up north was canceled this year, as we pulled together in spirit around Evelyn, my grandmother's niece. Mary and Alice, her two daughters, are with her.

Good friends took us in, Tara and I.

Lindsey would have joined us but she's still recovering from Occupy Portland, which took a lot out of her. We brought her back food, vegan, from her FNB friends and well wishers.

I'm grateful for this time with Tara and enjoyed the five documentaries we got to watch together, over cheeses, including a few hours on the Korean War, as it's called.

Lots of dogs joined us, a few cats. I left the car door open overnight, mistakenly, and Lindsey's cat made a night of it, in the passenger seat (or so I surmise, based on that's where I found her curled up in a ball, like a hibernating squirrel).

My best to Dawn's side of the family. I've been following Aunt Bettie's progress.

"Americans spend the most money the day after they profess gratitude for what they already have" said one of my friends. Interesting observation.

We're not boycotting or anything, just staying away from crowds. As I mentioned to Tara, I'm happy to share December 25 with the Christians but in no way do I consider it theirs exclusively. We enjoy the atmosphere that's created, why not.

I was glad someone said a prayer for native Americans at the day's feast. That's customary in our family as well, and amounts to far more than just lip service I like to think.

So good to see Elise, Les and Ruth, even if only for a couple hours. A good chance to swap stories.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wanderers 2011.11.16

Shomar died awhile back.

The Wanderers were not ceremonious about it. We mostly just meet for coffee, form friendships, and then do our work with the dead and dying "off camera" so to speak, not as official business of Wanderers itself.

David Tver, Glenn and I are yammering about directionality and coordinate axes. I trucked out the thesis that the common pairing of "positive" with "right" in Anglo mathematics, a constant drumming, a harping, had essentially destroyed the English language as a "force for good" in the world. Too biased. Glad to use American instead, or Fowler's Amerish maybe (pronounced "a-MER-ish" in his book). Of course that's a minority view. I tend to champion hopelessly underdoggy positions.

Don keeps projecting his picture of the black swan. I have a few of those too. Same one I'm pretty sure.

Nine of us here this morning. Our new guest, Bill Harris, is a retired general ophthalmic surgeon. After listening to us banter for 45 minutes, and watching us watch Jetman and a mechanical bird on Youtube, he raised the topic of the Occupy movement / revolution. The notion of "corporate personhood" was raised at some point. I held my tongue, no ethnic slurs against "voodoo economists" and their superstitions issued from my lips. "When in Rome..."

Bill is a "go to" guy when it comes to convening town halls, ignites, whatever GOSCON-like follow-ups we stage in the wake of OPDX / October 6. Small neighborhood gatherings are expected in some zip codes (not unlike Wanderers). We shall see.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Twists

Visiting Non-Human

The "petting zoo" as I call it, has filled with more animals that people like to hunt, feel are fair game. In a puritanical society, hunting down one's fellow man for sport is OK, as the latter may be stereotyped as possessed by demons and therefore of Satan's army.

Portlanders have inherited some of those "holy crusade" memes that made the Teutonic Knights the terror of Varmia in Copernicus's day (I've been reading Dava's latest). He was always being vexed by this gang of retard-bullies (as he probably saw them).

Caught up in the hunt will be lots of cuties still in there (talking OPDX campus), like dolphins and whales caught in the trawler's net, even some best-in-show kitties. Why be cruel to such innocents? America eats its young, spits out its old.

So the outrage might build, generating yet another backlash, and maybe a Thirty Years War or something suitably religious.

Saints, statues, more souvenirs... ain't European culture grand?

FNB pulled out yesterday (I took down the sign myself) because these are not ethnic vegans and our food was going to waste -- precisely the thing we're about countering (food waste). There's only so much we might do for the bloodthirsty.

The Anglo-Euros (mostly English speaking) never mounted an impressive show of their ability to provide social services, even though they have the technology. I didn't see eye exams happening, nor drug counseling, with attractive brochures about cool farm-like schools around the state, where ranchers have realized the bonanza to be had in helping street youth get a grip.

I've been storyboarding such schools for a high turnover student body of wannabe and actual diplomats, mixing it up, making networks that'd dampen the outward war impulse. The usual USIS / USIA kind of thing, back when the USA still had a State Department (since dissolved as far as I know -- or did I miss something?).

To that end, OPDX has been useful. I've seen more up close how a real estate bubble works. You could barely get a tent spot after the launch of the new zip code area (a proposal), whereas now they're all underwater, more like Stockton, CA. Sleeping bags come in faster than people can use 'em, so they get trashed after one night in the rain. It's a culture built on throwing away, as kids around the #OccupyIraq camps will be happy to attest (not much of an exit plan there either, or "endgame" as we say, except in some rarefied circles like in Obama's Wars).

Portland's future property values depend a lot on how the plan to put the parks to some serious uses, for civilian trainees working on their camping / disaster relief skills etc., get implemented on the ground. We've billed ourselves as high IQ, so don't want to go bezerkezoid in too embarrassing a fashion. How would we "put a bird on it" then?

Schools are under the same pressure as the parks (many tempting athletic fields, some in mixed use parks, like at Grant), given all the new gear and their need to develop GIS / GPS skills.

Currently, USA kids are getting leap frogged right and left, given the ineptness of their adult supervisors. Effective andragogy is almost unknown here -- only a few early adopters by the looks of things. Democracy is in a shambles. The Idiocracy (a mob psychology) reigns supreme (much like Beef Supreme in Idiocracy).

Basically, if your school has no electric ATVs, you're going to be in some serious competition with those that do. Put the key in your kuffka ("stuffka for your kuffka" is a kristmas kampaign).

Monday, November 07, 2011

More Democracy

Oregon Live / Comments

Citizen Participation

Friday, November 04, 2011

Visiting BizMo

Emergency Vehicle
:: emergence by emergency ::

Converging Movements
:: converging movements ::

Decoding Symbols
:: spin doctor symbols ::

Thursday, November 03, 2011


They keep calling for an "end game" around OP / OPDX, which I like, because it connects us to chess, a game vested in symbolism and symbolic logic. Keep Portland Cerebral, is a synonym for Weird.

So here it is: a City that Works needs to focus on public restrooms, keeping them safe, operable and open, even if that means paying guards / janitors / interns 24/7. My friend Teresina did duty like that in Tokyo, as a part of her Buddhist training. We have lots of Buddhists in Portland. 1 + 1 = 4.

This commitment to public health and safety might not make sense to some in the Business Alliance. Like AOI, like OPDX, we're talking about a mixed bag of ideologies, a "can of worms" as it's known in the business. However Metro and enlightened urban planners know that public restrooms, their state (status), provide a measure of a city's friendliness, to globe trotters following their Lonely Planet guidebooks, not just to "unemployables" (the "untouchables" of today's USA's central casting system, a leftover from English in some dimensions -- cite "unscannables" in Idiocracy).

The other "concession" won from the City was a commitment to more of those Town Halls, like we were promised in 2004 in connection with the Bucky play and president Obama's victory. Hopes were high back then. But then enlightened civic dialog failed to occur in large degree, because "we the people" were frightened of those "death panels", a social services bureaucracy that seemed out of control, and quite willing to plunge us back into Dickensian scenarios. I understand the Tea Party's chagrin.

Nevertheless, the Wanderers format, also Lightning Talks, Ignite Portland, OMSI Science Pubs etc., prove we're able to self-govern in such formats. We're not complete idiots at the end of the day, or at least not all of us are. We have gorgeous theaters, churches, other facilities, where chit chat may take place, and in more of an integrated space, in the sense of more voices being heard, and also acted upon. Different chiefs, different chefs, different channels. More diversity in other words. What cerebral centers are good at, Cape Town too (we have some back and forth traffic).

And here's the kicker: OPDX might wanna do this again next year and put even more pressure on those poor civic heads. We have less than a year to prepare. The kinds of artifact on display will have morphed a lot by then (better gear!), given all the new investment in civilian sector tech. More toyz (including more sensors), better communications, even broader participation. More democracy.

We need to fix those public restrooms so we can have more democracy. In the meantime, we appreciate what the unions are doing to supply those portable units. Labor is backing this effort, as we're talking about meaningful work, necessary infrastructure, not just digging and filling ditches in some parody USA. The New Deal was the real deal, thank you FDR.

But this may require some serious bulldozing, I don't know. All over Portland, we're beefing up the civic infrastructure. That's already happening, but don't call it a "stimulus". This is normal healthy tissue building.

Look at the Moscow subway system. Look at cities that really pour their hearts into making their streets safe. I could wander Rome at 2 AM as a tween, a tempting target. The Romans know city life better than many. Maybe it's even safer today.

The commitment to cycling and cyclers is outstanding here. For all the talk of "road rage" on both sides, I've also seen a great deal of politeness and civility, and not only from Trimet drivers. Average civilians in large SUVs will sometimes gladly surrender the right of way in an effort to be accommodating.

PDX is just that good at citizen diplomacy.

That's why our Village is more like the petting zoo at The Grotto. Just a lot of cute people, needing to use the bathroom from time to time. We pray for them, and we love them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fun Center / OPDX

:: click for larger view ::

from the comments section of

Notes From the Occupation

48 hours inside Occupy Portland

· Articles · Cover Story · Notes From the Occupation
willamette week

Related comments:

A Poetic Comment
@ Ikea
@ Red Square
@ Fun Center

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween 2011 (1 of 3)

:: halloween 2011 ::

This isn't actually the day of Halloween, October 31, but for us it's a season, and a favorite holiday. Tara got some time off school to come home and bake (part of our Blue House curriculum).

We took our bikes down to Peoples Coop, where I had a gigantic bag of lentils on order, keeping the memory of Teresina and Joe Havens alive, some really Together Friends that we knew.

Teresina was deeply into Buddhism, had cleaned public toilets in Tokyo as one of her services.

Joe started our Quaker Economics Study Circle, which blossomed, and in my case led to closer ties with the Henry George School.

We also procured pumpkins suitable for baking into pies and Tara has spent a good part of her day on that project, following The Joy of Cooking. She also went to the gym (no, not 24-Hour Fitness anymore, which we'd joined when it was still a Gold's in this town).

Lindsey was through for a pit stop. She's mostly roaring her engines (metaphorically -- she's against wasting peak oil) around Occupy Portland. Her picture is in this week's issue of Willamette Week as a part of a photo montage.

I bought her beers at Angelo's last night and pumped her for information. Her analysis tends to be influential on mine, though where spin doctoring goes, we do it differently, have our respective weaknesses and powers. She headed back into the fray just a few minutes ago.

She liked Notes from the Occupation in Willamette Week as it seemed an allusion to Notes from Underground, and Dostoevsky has been her theme recently, especially The Idiot, a role she alludes to in her own character in Privileged Dignity Village (she loved this picture, as I reviewed what I'd stashed so far).

I need to return to Fred Meyer's, where we shop most frequently. The evaporated milk we were going to use in the pies is like a solid paste and a funny color. Kind of too old, too evaporated. No wait, it's condensed. I need to replenish our stocks.

I'm sharing storyboards of what an organized camp would look like, something the city might be proud of, in solidarity with camps elsewhere. We wouldn't go the steak and lobster tails route, like in Afghanistan, nor would we be so hazy on our mission, like in Iraq.

We could experiment with hexayurts, take and send "away teams" through Ft. Lewis. There's no law against civilians getting to use some of the same toys the military does, for humanitarian purposes. We could also showcase more bizmos and vegan food carts running on biodiesel provided by Asian restaurateurs and fellow travelers.

Yurt Exhibit

This is not about shutting down the OPDX campus so much as about providing a more planned and thought-out response to Portland's most desperately needy. Released prisoners, returning vets, other homeless, are flocking to OPDX seeking relief from the bully club and involuntary treatment wards.

There's an opportunity here to let a thousand dots of light show us a kinder, gentler America, what used to be the presidential rhetoric when I was between Lindsey's age (36) and Tara's (17).

We remember what happened with Rajneesh Puram, when they tried to address social ills in a more remote setting. Keeping OPDX from being spun in that direction by the press is not going to be easy, even though there's no Bhagwan.

The movement has a cultic flavor, thanks to various branding choices. Not saying that's bad. The pumpkin I carved was that Vendetta guy, as suits the season. I put that upside-down A, our Victory sign, on the back.

Tara found Lisa Randall on The Daily Show. We watched from her Holdenweb laptop in the kitchen. Patrick should be over soon, for nog 'n rum, yar! I was Facebooking Daily Show earlier tonight, sharing some links to that Bank of America story.

:: Ma Sheela, from The Oregonian ::

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Psychiatry Today

Joe Arnold is here, packed house again, giving us a talk on psychotropic medications. He's a practicing psychiatrist and a Wanderer. He has shared about this topic with us before, but thinking evolves, goes deeper, pulls in more and more of a world view. Philosophers know this from personal experience.

Cranks, Quarks and Dorks: that's not the title of the book he's sharing, more a paraphrase. He's wrestling with the authoritarian aspects of the Apollonian paradigm or archetype.

Heavy duty STEM theories are hard going sometimes, especially if you're not fluent in their cryptic equations (code languages for generalizations). It's a "back to basics" discussion, a kind of recap of physics. Nirel just walked in, with her girlfriend Max, and Barry. Wow, what a huge turnout.

I'm wondering about group psyches, mobs, currents that clearly transcend individuals. You might call them meme viruses, but that maybe reads too much into an analogy. "PR campaigns" won't cover it either. Some churches call it the zeitgeist (Holy Spirit). Television, the hottest and most volatile of the several media, is of critical importance in both spreading and quashing these movements.

Rationality is important to a psychiatrist, as it's critical to most diagnoses in that field that patients be suffering from a shortage of same.

That's an oversimplification of course. Some conditions, in need of treatment, result from a perhaps over-abundance of rationality. Thinking too clearly may be a recipe for existential alienation.

Octavia Butler novels come to mind. Her talented and gifted bore the brunt.

Paranoia was sweeping OPDX tonight and Lindsey was too busy trying to get fire lanes open, than do much more than telegraph her thinking. She was calling for help.

I went to my desk and sketched a draft of what I was getting, somewhat like a cartoonist. Like check out this one, shared again on Facebook recently, in honor of mom's visit to the Nevada Test Site.

Actually, Joe is far more suspicious and skeptical of science writers these days, so his investigation into the nature of rationality is more directed against his peers, other commentators on psychiatry.

The view I will share, when we go around the table, is that Psychiatry as a discipline should no way retain its monopoly, going forward, over the control of psychotropic substances.

I've taken some lessons from the "Voodoo House" on this (a silly term, invented by Willamette Week), but my thinking goes way back, and stems from interviewing many sources.

Mature cultures have other ways to manage psychotropics aside from as "cures" for "mental illnesses". Using the "illness" model so exclusively puts pathologies and their treatments in the drivers' seat, a situation we can ill afford.

The churches have a lot to do with this state of affairs, in not wanting to take on their deeper heritage. It'd take another Nietzsche to really get to the bottom of all this.

In the meantime, we continue to live under the yoke of Prohibition.

My other question for psychiatry is to what extent is there a literature of "social ills (pathologies)" and their cures. The standard model seems to isolate the "illness" to the single individual which may not be the appropriate unit of analysis in all cases.

We've all heard of "family therapy", but mob psychologies spread to far beyond a family. Does psychiatry allow itself to look at the spread of pathological ideologies (the "military-industrial complex" for example).

The focus on "the brain" may be somewhat unhealthy (too restrictive) if that causes these good doctors to avoid thinking about the importance of television, other media.

The spread of Freudianism (or Jungianism or whatever) should be studied as if it were the propagation of a mass delusion, a way of performing a kind of "group psychoanalysis" within that profession. The confinement of "mental illness" to a neuroscience discussion is blocking a lot of progress on other fronts. George Lakoff tries to bust out of that straitjacket, but he's a creature of his discipline, some might say a prisoner.

Monday, October 24, 2011


photo and sculpture by Dan Suttin

photo by Dan Suttin

photo by Dan Suttin

photo of Dan Suttin and models
by Tyler C. Cleveland/The Ranger

Related links:
NCTM web site

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Look

(click for larger view)

Zen koan: remember your face before Facebook was born.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Fighting Quaker Tells All
:: esoterica ::
(click for larger view)

These camp sites are not especially hospitable, despite extraordinary measures to keep them ship shape. #OccupyIraq is no better in many ways. Sleep is difficult.

Some claim #OccupyPortland (OPDX) is frequented by Nike executives, posing as homeless. That's not really it though. Some families there, with kids, are truly homeless and are just looking for mercy, have a hard time sleeping in freeway dividers, especially with children.

If you're in social services, you're thinking "intake" i.e. there's some triage going, a sorting out, and a long menu of next stops, including some camps, but better established and set up to impart skills, give campers a new angle on life. More like BarCamps. But where? Are they secret? In Russia? The gulag professoriate should have them planned by now (or is "the future" not their business or cup of tea?).

Speaking of BarCamps with their unconference format, I got a worried email from Eve, perhaps following me on Twitter. I was bringing up those Broadway Metroplex theaters again, thinking about the spontaneous film festival we could be having, geared to an audience primed to think and talk anyway (that's about all that goes on in PDV, with sleep hard to come by). Eve also has designs on those theaters.

I was thinking of that Town Hall we held at Portland Center Stage. Theater and Town Hall go together and here's a vacant multiplex theater. Of course we would need sponsors. That would be the interesting part. Who would sponsor and who might feel like not participating because of those sponsors? That's a question for campers more generally.

Also, part of my pattern is to check out abandoned theater halls, like The Stanley, and to propose to repurpose them for curriculum use. I'm really into having movies be on the syllabus, just like books, and sometimes it's worth having a bigger screen with a serious sound system, the shared experience of others in the same space. You have a different kind of consciousness in a movie hall or meetinghouse. That's why Quakers come together, because the sum of the parts is less than the whole.

:: movie night @ opdx ::

Maybe the theaters were closed to install high def digital projectors. Livingroom Theaters, down the street, is doing a thriving business. Laughing Horse has plenty of relevant videos, like Punishment Park, that we could be screening (or maybe something less disturbing). PSU could be giving lectures, about the History we should be learning. Bring your students. Have them interview and learn from real homeless for a change, maybe sign up for career training through a booth, for duty in a Reboot City.

We may end up inventing a host of new brands as a result of the Occupation. The troops seem to be rotating, but so slowly, into more interesting lines of work. At this point, a few more arm band colors might do the trick. Give me tiger stripes and send me in a loop, recruiting others. It's an animist badge. But anyway, we don't need these to stay effective.

I've long advocated fleets of bizmos geared for inter-encampment touring, a way of cross-fertilizing the various cultures. The various bases were in on some of these circuits. Depolarize in North America and the campus will become friendlier in other Occupation zones as well -- that's the theory anyway. Or re-polarize on different axes. Doesn't happen overnight of course.

Name Band Legend

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Checking In

I walked through our "Privileged Dignity Village" (PDV) tonight, newly aware of Ibrahim's camp, a few blocks a way, on a steeper climb (Portland Tribune gives that story a whirl).

That name (PDV) is from a sign I photographed. Better than "Hooverville", another name for an encampment, associated with this same park (at least now that these dots are connected).

I was on my way to see Ides of March at Fox Tower though I didn't know it at the time. I follow leadings sometimes, part of my training as a Quaker, with Ray Simon another influence. I helped take care of Ray's and Bonnie's baby girl in those early days in Jersey City, after I'd quit my job with the Dominicans, following leadings.

Ides of March
is set against the backdrop of US presidential politics, highly fictionalized. This culture lives in fiction, and finds that works pretty well, as long as the toilets keep flushing (a Morlock responsibility). The upcoming movie Anonymous looked interesting.

Occupant Village is spic and span with like a village square or circle, with booths and boutiques (not saying for money). The kitchen is well organized and bustling. It's like a Brouwer (Dutch painter) except minus the drunken revelry. These folks are staying sober, have some serious organizing to do. Their living standards appear to be improving, as people notice the rewards of collaboration.

Zooming back, we see vast Hoovervilles all around Planet Earth. Would that similar youthful enthusiasm gain some access to inventory. The student body could use some gear, some of it brand name. Stewart Brand conveyed some of the excitement of these swift development scenarios. Shouldn't university coursework involve learning logistics? These campers crave opportunities to learn and share skills.

The community downtown feels a little different in terms of footprint as there's a sense of a propertied owner class behind it. A lot of these campers have homes, though probably in places with less sense of a campus community. They're getting "sangha" to sound Buddhist about it. This is how they'd like those property taxes spent, to keep their festive encampment a showcase of future lifestyles, and not necessarily distopian ones (many high cultures have used tents).

I doubt North Face executives are unhappy seeing their products in use (tents mostly). I wore my Andy & Bax army surplus jacket. Officer Urner (no yellow-fendered bike this time), strolling through The Village, seeking an idiot perhaps.

I took TriMet both ways.

Oh, and lets not forget the rare appearance at Carl's Jr., thinking strongly of Idiocracy. Regarding that film, it's not a literal genetic theory, I hope you weren't stupidly believing that (grin).

Dream Catchers

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Life in the Material World (movie review)

Catching up on the life and times of George Harrison was an eye opener. The guy had a lot of eloquent, well spoken friends who came forward to testify about his life, as a dad, husband, brother, boyfriend and Beatle.

I had never realized the extent to which George was involved with the Monty Python troupe. I'd seen Ringo Starr in The Magic Christian, under the tutelege of Peter Sellers. Some of the Python gang make appearances in that film. But I'd forgotten how The Beatles were seeing so much of themselves in the irreverent, satirical Monty Python movies. George bankrolled Life of Brian to the tune of $4 million, after EMI dropped it like the hot potato it was (right up there with Jesus Christ Superstar in terms of inspiring righteous outrage).

This movie is cram packed with footage you'll likely see nowhere else, unless this becomes the new source for clips on YouTube. The movie takes us back to the very earliest years of The Beatles and rolls forward. George's friendship with Ravi Shankar is pivotal, in terms of its effects on his music and subsequent career. His friendship with Eric Clapton was likewise transformative. He loved his friends, clearly, women and men from many walks of life (race car driving included).

I found the stories captivating, as did the others in our audience. The film received a warm applause, both at intermission and at the end. Many of the on-camera remarks got a hearty laugh as well. George knew some funny people, was pretty funny himself when in the mood to be. He also channeled quite a bit of fury, one could sense.

Monday, October 03, 2011

On the Road

... with David Koski (as Charles Kuralt).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wanderers 2011.9.27

Attendance was really high last night; Duane Ray is a popular speaker and his topic, String Theory, was of generic interest to our demographic, a diverse group of the science minded.

Usually I've heard Duane expressing dismay about the beliefs he's presenting, but tonight he was sharing about the world view he respects. He was humble when it came to assessing his own level as an initiate. Those who maybe thought themselves of higher degree made some challenging criticisms of some of the slides. One or two of the errors were outright typos.

I had nothing much to say and sat on the back stairs, close to Dondi, who was taking in the whole talk with rapt attention. She also brought us wine and chocolate. Angels do exist. Anyway, I say hats off, interesting performance, share it more, by all means, keep getting feedback.

Neutralinos eh? Those sound good in pasta salad, plus I like dark meat better so dark matter might be tasty in small amounts. Just tossing word salad with ya.

This was very much ISEPP country (lots of techno-pomposity), so I was all the more surprised when Brian Sharp suddenly appeared from nowhere, looking hail and hardy. Don, likewise impressed, was quickly on his feet as our master of ceremonies, putting the spotlight on one of our tribal elders, a voice of conscience if not consilience, on the Wanderers discussion list.

Duane covered the Standard Model of gravity, electro-weak and gluonic realms, explaining the taxonomy of whatsons again, a dizzying zoology of permuting quanta. Thanks to having my own brains in the Synergetics blender for so long, it's a little hard for me to disentangle this talk from the A and B modules, a neighboring namespace using many of the same terms, but with semi-remote meanings (just how remote is a topic on Synergeo).

That was a lot to cover before sliding into strings themselves (the subjects of the theory).

What's intriguing about this uni- or multi-verse picture is it's no less miraculous than some of the more religiously inspired, just hangs together better, at least sometimes. There's enough consistency to give a sense of syntropy, of sense being added more than leaking away.

That being said, it was interesting how long we went on, during Q&A, really not seeming to know what we were really talking about. Everyone had some ideas. To me, this sounded like a room flooded with metaphysics, but that's just because of how my ear is trained. I have ears for philosophy and tend to filter other subjects with that bias in mind. Many complain this makes my blogs hard to read. Too many non sequiturs sometimes.

Brian Sharp

:: brian sharp ::

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Retreat News

We had an abundance of mathematicians amongst us this afternoon, at our Wanderers retreat. The topics overlapped in combinatorics, judging and scoring, also sizing. Nirel's Cuffkas need to come in optimum sizes for male and female wrists.

David has been working with men's pant sizes for some years now and has amassed a database of over 8000 measurements. True, this table contains more than its share of non-average sizes, and thereby hangs a tale.

Don was eligible for a special fishing license (free) given his age and over fifty years in Oregon. On almost the first day on his own with his new gear at Gary's dock, he managed to snag a twenty pound Chinook. Nirel is cooking up a big slab as I write this.

I woke up at 4:30 AM this morning remembering I'd left my bicycle, with the Food Not Bombs trailer, unlocked behind the Pauling House. I made myself roll out of bed and go retrieve the rig, which was fortunately still where I'd left it.

Carol and Tara both came to our potluck last night. I wrote something for the Wanderers list which I'll repost to Synergeo.

Philosophy of language:

Freshwater News, September 2011, Vol 29, No. 9, Oregon & SW Washington's boating news monthly, traces an interesting line in the water in: Old Boats, Homeless People: Poverty and Lawlessness on the Waterfront (pg. 18).

Some of these boat-dwellers, paying rent for moorage, living aboard yachts, don't consider themselves homeless. Their home is their boat. What gives the newspaper the right to judge who is homeless, might be a question in some letter to the editor. What would the Wittgensteinians say, about what it means to be homeless. Was Wittgenstein ever homeless?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My Character


My own role in this "Russian novel" (some science fiction) is somewhat interesting, at least to me. I'm in a large suite in a Hilton with Associate Producer on my nametag.

But then there's this Guys and Dolls aspect, especially before I lost the Quaker aka "Chicago crime boss" hat, where I'm on the phone to these street molls and soup kitchens, some kinda Soprano (finally caught me an episode or two at Patrick's).

Meanwhile, mom fights against weapons in space (more power to her, to us, the human beings).

My street busking Global U student (lots of skills) got some water dumped on her from a 2nd floor window (slam!). The crowd below had been semi-appreciative (evening party goers). She was deliberately practicing some of the time, pioneering "professional practice" as a form of street entertainment (it's hypnotic for some, crazy-making for others).

The computations are somewhat intensive. I have a set of equations ("Duke's Equations") I truck out in our followup "board meetings" (yes, I like to pace). She might carry an umbrella next time.

School is about to start. Tara is still decompressing. The meeting gets its first official briefing on 9-11.

Djangocon is off and running. I sat in on the end of a tutorial and was reminded of how security conscious Django is. You need to follow its model to have these features work.

I'm not so much the intended audience for these tutorials though, as I tend to focus on teaching more these days, with lots of thoughts about animation.

The videography around Djangocon is interesting to me. We have both a taping crew and a still photographer. The magician, Aaron Smith, was really good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wanderers 2011.8.18

We talked about Linus Pauling a lot, most appropriately.

Nate had seen the OPB documentary, so was up to speed on this being the boarding house towards the start of his biography.

After his dad died, his mom had to make ends meet, while the gifted son explored chemistry in the basement.

Nirel slipped in and out of the Portland Matrix in a flash, another world traveler.

Chairman Steve took the head of the table.

I've been chirping on a citizens' band (public listserv), letting my peers know about the disposition of the FnB trailers. Even if you're far away on a trip, it's fun to get these blips sometimes.

Barry and Glenn quizzed me on re-roofing plans. I'm nowhere close to having blueprints, that's for sure. But then I'm not the architect.

The looming trip has my attention.

We also chatted about Bram Pitoyo and Amber Case, as Nate had just come from listening to Sheldon talk about "netness" some more.

Good having Michael Hagmeier join us again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Today's STEM Lesson

Related filing: Topic: Computers in Schools... (Math Forum @ Drexel)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

PUG 97214 (Launch Event)

I showed up at Lyrik babbling about Brazil (Keiko is from there) and toting totems, the PSF snake and a borrowed Moose slipper, for working on another pro-Perl photo op. YAWTDI or something like that.

Pythonia (Python Nation) and the Programmers' Republic of Perl are friendly neighbors. When looking at the camel from the right angle, you can see Guido's house in the background.
Keiko told me about a more touching Brazilian movie than the one below, involving singing duos that roam the countryside, often brothers or sisters... reminding me that Lindsey was off busking somewhere, solo yet safe. One of our troupe. David had SkyBlue.

The occasion was a first meetup of the Hawthorne District Python Users Group. HD PUG might work, or perhaps we'll embrace the whole zip code: 97214 PUG. Steve had been talking about starting one, now that he has enough chairs. We haven't come up with a schedule yet.

Last week we attended the big Portland Python User Group at Urban Airship.

Our beginning was auspicious in that we had a successful install-mitzvah with Steve serving as rabbi. I munched on a sandwich and Skyped with our CSN CTO, also a good Wanderer buddy. Another attender joined us from London, also by Skype.

Flextegrity LLC was a sponsor for this event.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Elite Squad (movie review)

I lost my way in this melodrama more than a few times.

The overall plot was clear: Brazil was trying to live up to some ideal of itself, vis-a-vis the Pope in particular.

Perhaps it's only in English that BOPE and Pope sound so similar.

I'd say there's an element of parody here, in having all the rich and privileged sitting around talking about Foucault.

I'm more in the Nobby lineage in supposing ethnicities have a right to their medications, but when the heritage is so thin, much of their power is lost anyway. Some drugs just exaggerate predispositions. In war, you might want uppers and speed.

We live in a world without doctors, statistically speaking (translate "doctors" however you will).

The film is pointing out that the ethics and motivations are just too twisted to make much sense.

As an audience, we're invited to study the pain and suffering, dramatized for our benefit and education.

I got this from Movie Madness because our Brazilian friends at OSCON were saying this film seemed to capture a lot of the culture as they experienced it. I'd seen a couple others with Brazil their setting.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


:: hb2u lw ::

One of our staffers left her computer / bag aboard the Max from the airport (Red Line). Honest Oregonians disturbed it not, and it joined a gated community facility, a forlorn kind of Toy Story place where many lonely toys are not found. This bag was though: I retrieved it in the "escape pod" Lindsey used to eject from the State of Georgia (her birthday today, having a small dinner party, Melody our cook).

My route was from the marina adjacent PDX down Columbia Blvd to Lombard, into St. John's, over to Hwy. 30 past Sauvie Island to Cornelius Pass, up into Jenkins/158th area, near the Costco. Same way back. Quite a good drive. The Nissan Maxima, performed well. Lots of building going on. Intel expanding etc. Yet lots of rolling countryside, lots of farms.

We saw them all off at the Max again this morning, bound for divergent destinations. Staff is spread out. Sebastopol was like a northern border with Russia in the early days, with Hispanic mission based culture coming up from the south. The Bay Area was a center of contention. Fun history to know, if you think of that Russian Imperial Museum in Minneapolis, housed in a mission-style building. What does it all mean?

I shared some some history too, learned from Les (CIO) about those bad ass Haida, and the Hudson Bay Company's response: to import lots of Hawaiian muscle to keep pushing a lucrative fur trade.

Those Euros couldn't get enough furs, having already managed their property unsustainably. The Doctrine of Discovery allowed for title transfer into church holdings, of vast tracts of valuable land. Much of this was protected by a lay populace of faithful, willing to champion their ethnicity in a kind of zero sum game.

Anyway, Hawaiian names decorate the coastal areas, Camano Island for example.

Dignity Village was on the itinerary again, this time from the marina, not the airport. I refer to it as "Epcot West", America's best futuristic thinking on display.

Later, I played some Idiocracy again, while picking up the living room, dusting and so forth. I even changed where I hung some of the pictures. OSCON has clearly changed my mind in some ways. That's what circuses do sometimes: they expand one's idea of what's possible, by showing one freaks and geeks of various types, in a fun house of crazy-making mirrors.

click for author's photostream