Friday, January 31, 2014

Camera Bites It

:: out of service ::

Data miners of this blog may find out about my appreciation for the Nikon Coolpix S8200, which I've purchased three times, meaning twice replaced.

Tonight the 3rd incarnation hit the floor and would not turn on, though it did USB its pictures.  I've already been on eBay, bidding on a fourth.

Followup:  looks like I snagged another one for under $80, including shipping.  Lets hope it's for real.  February 9 followup:  it wasn't.  Not in stock, listed incorrectly.  Tried again, for same model, $108 retail direct, from

No wait, the $108 loss-leader was open box and all in Turkish.  The sales guy talked me into a Nikon Coolpix S9200 instead, for another $71.  He persuaded me I was being a Luddite buying a fourth copy of a discontinued model.

And now for something completely different:  layers of complexity.

No, not recursive exactly so much as fractal, analogous from level to level, but not identical.

After all, the physics changes as one traverses the size spectrum, given the surface-to-volume ratio is not constant.   Children on pogo sticks tend to make it look easy, just bouncing up and down like that.

:: by cyriak ::

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Her (movie review)

Way better than I thought it would be.  A pure work of science fiction.  Beautiful scenery.  Gorgeous.  Samantha passes the Turing Test and then some.  I'll be referring back to this movie.

The conjuring of a hyper Alan Watts by the OSs won me over big time.

The computer race evolves right passed the body people (us), not to aggressively "take over" (Terminator, The Matrix), but to "leave" as in move to some astral plane we humans don't know about or to which we don't have access until remade as one of them. 

A romantic comedy.  Philosophical.  Great combo.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Wanderers 2014.1.14

:: michael gholtston and trish ::

We were privileged to hear the life stories of an adventurer and explorer tonight, one Michael David Gholston, author of the slim autobiography Any Road.

He had been a war time journalist in Vietnam, and Iraq.  He'd lived in remote parts of Alaska for many years, also as a journalist.

He had tried his hand at becoming a pharmacologist which is where he met Trish, a long time teacher of pharmacological mathematics.  He was one of her older male students.  He was actually hoping to help nurse his former wife through an illness as a side benefit of this new occupation.

Trish, in turn, had been a one time electronics student of Don's, the guy to go to if you want to give a Wanderers presentation.  He was on faculty at Mt. Hood Community College at that time, an institution Michael, our speaker, had also attended, studying broadcast journalism.

But it didn't take, that pharmacology career, and his friend and partner had died.  He re-enlisted in the military, the Army this time, at 52, and wound up covering serious carnage in Iraq, a huge truck bomb attack against a religious minority near the border with Syria.

Did I mention Katrina?  He was there too, doing video journalism for the National Guard.

His Vietnam experience was on the USS Hancock, the 1940s vintage aircraft carrier, sent to manage the evacuation of the US Embassy by helicopter, or shall we say the evacuation through the US Embassy.

And Guantanamo, he'd been there since Iraq.

This guy really gets around.

As I say, we were privileged to hear from him first hand, and to buy the book if we wanted (I wanted but am on a tight budget, might get to borrow Trish's sometime).

At heart he's this Quaker kid from Camus, Washington who just wanted to see the world and what it was all about, up close and personal.  He has never supported wars, but he does serve in them as one who documents what happens, to whom, and how.  He's an historian and anthropologist.  He reminded me of Mike Shiley.

I had the bright idea to do our go-around of introductions a little differently, adopting the technique where people introduce each other i.e. not themselves, but someone else.  That's actually a great exercise in a small group like this one and people had some fun with it.

The guy introducing me didn't know me from Adam, nor I him, and I encouraged him to just make stuff up.  I was keeping it light-hearted.  He said I was "some nice guy" which was a fine intro (he'd been an engineer and spokesperson for Tri-Met (I wondered if he'd dealt with the case of George Hammond, another Wanderer and pioneer for allowing Segways on TriMet)).

I introduced Barry but forgot to mention his time in the Peace Corps, which is an important aspect of Barry.  Oh well, takes practice.  I also introduced Jeff, as a provider of infrastructure of help to musicians.

We had our new bookseller partners with us, the couple who've taken over the middle structure on this Pauling Campus.  That's geography described elsewhere.

The famous statue Alpha Helix by Julian Vos-Andreae is directly in front of the new bookstore, which is truth in advertising, as the books include many good titles in the sciences and mathematics.  I was just checking them out today, paying my first ever visit (in this bookstore chapter) to the 2nd floor.

I knew Steve Holden would be arriving at PDX tonight if all went according to plan, which it did.  I taxied him from the airport, the conclusion of a 27 hour journey beginning in England.

The reason they pushed those helicopters over the side of the USS Hancock (famous footage, surreal seeming) is that there were already plenty of helicopters ashore, and in an evacuation you need to make room for the incoming refugees.  The helicopters already on deck became surplus and on an aircraft carrier every inch of space is precious and a potential landing zone.  The decision to abandon hardware in favor of people was a compassionate one.