Thursday, April 30, 2015

Back At Work

I had full queues during the conference and the week prior, yet it felt a lot like a vacation, in the sense of so many experiences per minute, a kind of time dilation.  We got a lot done.  Having MySQL move to INNODB as the default engine is not a bad move, but the ripple effects were boat rocking in our little world.  ENGINE = MYISAM solves the problem.  The DBA track uses INNODB anyway.

My vector today was through Salt Lake City back to PDX.  I dined at Beaches, choosing a Cesar Salad (small) and seafood chowder, both good.  And IPA for a beverage, my standard.

The TSA folks were really professional in St. Louis.  I had a badass knife in my satchel which I thought was maybe OK, given my ethnic craziness, black Stetson hat ("gun club"), Fettuccini Alfredo colored coat.  The TSA pros are thinking WTF and offer I can check the knife instead.  She escorts me out, but first I express regret at tossing the after shave (bought for $1) and they fish that out too.  So polite and well trained.  I checked the knife and came through again, a sweaty mess by this time, so I bought a T-shirt on sale at a concession and voila, good to go.

On board Delta, I finally discovered the WiFi had free stuff and started watching Maze Runner, but my battery ran out before we did much.  Some poor dude got driven off, then Samsung tablet said good night.  Great machine, no complaints.

Hilton was fantastic as well.  Good job St. Louis with that white elephant post Train Age station, Union Station.  Portland has a tiny one, still functional.  Yours was a goliath.  So why not turn it into a destination in its own right, with a DoubleTree by Hilton?  Not a bad idea.  Hard Rock Cafe and everything.  I salute the city planners on this one.  Bold.

Speaking of bold, City Museum is truly pioneering and I stand in awestruck silence, before diving back in.  I made it down the multi-story slide (from 10th floor the 4th?) only once, whereas my co-workers, young and slim, scampered around the circuit at least thrice.  I squeezed through one of the airplanes and went down a couple other slides, including that "Monster" one to the foyer.

Cities want to be proud and it hurts when the world sees one as off course.  Baltimore is hurting.  Her Mayor was on CBS this morning and spoke directly and with heart, in my view.  I respect these great cities and what they're trying to do.  Portland is one of them.

I used TriMet back from the airport, the corollary of Metrolink in St. Louis.  Both are highly professional operations.  That doesn't mean I don't have critical thoughts from time to time.  Being a fan of an institution doesn't mean being a mindless zombie.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rethinking Equity

I'm in a talk entitled Rethinking Educational Equity in the Digital Age, which will focus on Albion School District, I'll find out where that is.

Someone from DETC (now DEAC) is here, who Debra (our school principal) caught up with a little on Monday at the Awards ceremony (we eventually decided not to continue seeking DETC accreditation in order to free up more resources for our pioneering work, which does not fit any cookie cutter mold).

Another attendee works with tribal schools in the area, meaning the N8TVs, who also connect to overseas universities, being sovereignties in their own right.  We're a small, intimate group.

There's a tendency to dump technology into a school and leave it to the locals to figure out what to do with it.  Laptops and tablets are exciting, but when the mindscape is impoverished, taking advantage of the tools is far from an automatic process.  Intuition supplies the real upgrades, combined with practice, trial & error.  Error is expected and a part of the feedback cycle.

The introductory Youtube was uncited, I wonder if I can find it anyway.

Albion is in Michigan with 55% drawing down less than $33K.  We're talking about Flint and so on.  Much of the car industry died a flailing death around here.  Nearly 1 in 4 of Michigan children lives in an impoverished household.  A proud school district divvied up the schools, moving 9-12 out of Albion, leaving only K-8 to take advantage of the Title I grants as a feeder.  Marshall High is mostly privileged, with kids bussed in.  K-8 inherited the building (with a swimming pool) that used to be Albion High.

ESEA passed in 1965 by the Johnson   Dinner as well as lunch is offered, as many kids would prefer to stay at school versus return home in the evenings.  Families may prefer that too.  They have a Prometheon board, a music lab, underwater robotics, slate tables, drones, video editing and conferencing equipment.

STEM is a focus, with "STEM Geekends" a kind of Saturday Academy.  Parents get involved in this sometimes, joining the kids in playing with all these great toyz.  Many kids who wither in the classroom, thrive when allowed to develop skills.  One of the 8th grade girls, with "issues" being stuck in a chair, became the video conferencing avatar.

Any student who completes grades 6-8 at Albion also has a ticket to Albion College.  That works as an incentive.

"Education is the pathway to opportunity" according to a prevalent ideology, advertised as a gap closer.

Geeks are attracted to work in schools with lots of toys.  Getting some server racks in the school, and allowing multiple operating systems for those eager to dive into C language underpinnings, is what Earlham College offers.  That's prototypical of tomorrow's high school perhaps.  With distance education, it's easier to bootstrap the student body.

Distance Education allows over-achieving kids, frustrated with being held back, to move a lot faster if given the opportunity to do so.  A primary function of classroom based learning is to discourage both ends of the Bell Curve and pander to the middle.  The curricula they need are out there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Friday, April 24, 2015

Quaker Communications

The bold faced quotes come from:

FRIENDS AND EMAIL: Guidelines, Concerns and Reflections, offered by the Committee on Ministry and Counsel of Claremont Friends Meeting, revised and approved in CFM Meeting for Business on 27 January 2013.

My thoughts are interspersed.  An earlier version of this posting was share via the npym-it-discuss listserv.


Email is a poor medium for corporate discernment.  Lines on a computer screen or down-loaded page cannot convey the full range of communication —facial expression, tone of voice, body language, etc.  Thus emails can easily be misunderstood.

The thing about written communications, of which emails form a subset, as well as books, pamphlets, scrolls, documents of all kinds, is they allow us to interact with people who may have recorded their views long ago and now don't get to have facial expressions or body language.  John Woolman,  George Fox...

Telephone communications privilege the still-living.  Organizations with strong staying power do not dismiss the elders / ancestors so easily i.e. we still read and attend to past writings.

Face-to-face meetings are even rarer and even more of a privilege.  I really appreciated our getting together in Tacoma on April 11, but then that cost huge amounts of time and fuel.  Any lean / efficient organization with a dispersed crew cannot rely on such expensive events occurring often.

My day job is the same way:  our crew is all over the country and we're lucky to see each other but once a year.  I'm at Earlham College at the moment thanks to my company paying my way to-from St. Louis for a conference, which we use as an excuse to also meet as a company.  I came out a week early and rented a car on my own dime so I could drive to Richmond IN to visit my daughter.

My day job involves having Skype open so we can have a scrolling chat window, plus we have voice meetings, like conference calls, every week.  I meet with my super by voice once a week as well.  I can do my work wherever there's WiFi.  We use email a lot, including to / from groups (named CCs).

The telephone is a 1900s invention that revolutionized everything and Friends now take conference calls for granted.  They may be less experienced using written communications, but journaling used to be a primary way for Friends to communicate across time and distance.

I recommend that Friends seriously encourage blogging as what we used to call journaling or keeping a journal.  These were kept with the idea that others would read them.  Friends stay accountable through journaling, a form of written communication.

What I don't appreciate about the one-sided Guidelines is the disadvantages are primarily a result of unskilled use (we don't get better but with practice) with the conclusion that skillful / sensitive conference calls should take priority where corporate discernment is concerned.  This assumes high level phone skills.  The guidelines stack the deck:  experienced phone users trump inexperienced writers.

No individual takes responsibility for this view.  It gets encoded as some Meeting's guidelines and before you know it, those attitudes and biases will have spread to other Meetings, unchallenged and anonymously promulgated.

If more of this debate were done by journaling (in the blogosphere) we would see more clearly who was behind what viewpoint.  Quakerism is not about hiding behind masks of anonymity.

Whenever possible, corporate discernment should be conducted face-to-face, or when that is not possible, by means of sensitively-managed telephone conference calls.

I completely disagree with this conclusion and think the authors of this document spend way too little time discussing how the shortcomings of email, such as misunderstanding the writer's meaning, or not being able to open attachments (phone calls don't have attachments), may be addressed.

If the meaning of someone's communication is unclear, ask for clarification. Get into a dialog.  Others may jump in.  The process is asynchronous and allows for reflection and consideration.  It's also more accountable. 

So in my view listservs are more ethical than conference calls on many levels. 

Those dismissing emails and listservs in favor of conference calls should not be given free rein to dictate these views as somehow already a fait accompli in our Faith & Practice.

Backgound:  M&O clerks in the NPYM region are preparing to have a conference call on this issue which may lead to strictures ("guidelines") that put a damper on listserv use, whereas I think Quakerism is happier with the written word than with ephemeral telephonic vibrations in the ether, not anticipated when Quakerism was forged.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

North Circuit

:: north circuit ::

Quaker business took me to Tacoma Friends Meeting, originally constructed as a church more than a meetinghouse.  Friends shared the building at first, then purchased it, and still share.  I'd never been here before.

About 25 of us met that April 11 from all over the region as what's called the Coordinating Committee for North Pacific Yearly Meeting.  Clerks of Outreach and Visitation, Peace and Social Concerns, Finance, and Information Technology (a committee I co-clerk) were among those present.  I sat next to Linda, NPYM Secretary, comparing notes on laser printers given her office needs a new one.

One highlight from that meeting, which I didn't include in my notes (filed on npym-it-discuss) was our brief discussion of David Chandler's work during the PSCC section of the meeting.  Rose Lewis is quite aware that the Multnomah Friends, like Humanists of Greater Portland, have been grappling with a concern of many Mormons as well:  the lack of credibility in the NIST report on what really happened on September 11, 2001. 

The NPYM PSCC is looking at ongoing Racism as a number one issue.  Multnomah's PSCC hosted David's presentation on April 12.

I continued on north that day though, visiting my Uncle Bill (actually my grandmother's sister's child, both my parents having ended up only children; Carol had a brother who lived until his teenage years then was killed in an accident).  I was missing much of the rest of the meeting, however Clint Weimeister, our web wrangler, was also representing IT Committee so my continued presence was not strictly required.

Bill was turning 90 that Monday and I was eager to see his new digs, which feature a comfortable reading chair.  Bill is pretty interested in history and has written a maritime history himself, of the submarine business in the Pacific Northwest even prior to World War One.  He had a history of the US Navy with a long passage about Quakers I photographed, their relevance having to do with ship-design skills.  Getting pacifists to buy into building warships required some twisted logic but such is in plentiful supply.

I joined Bill for supper downstairs from his apartment and might a gentleman in his 90s of Chinese heritage who had learned English from Canadian missionaries.  Given his accent was understandable to American English speakers, he'd been assigned as a translator for the US military in Burma during World War Two.

I pressed onward with my journey to a destination oft associated with Thanksgiving in these blogs.  I was driving "maxi taxi", Lindsey's escape pod from Savannah, signed over to me as part of our deal.  This 1997 Nissan Maxima is still going strong at well over 200K though sometimes the fuel mix is too lean and she conks.  She took me over the mountains to Terrabonne and thence to Big Bear Camp on the last long drive.  Lindsey herself is in Kathmandu Valley.

Les showed me a genre of Youtube I'd not yet tuned in:  Korean eating shows.  A single individual anchors the meal, chatting with the viewers while consuming large amounts of food in a single sitting.  He also had transferred his love of flying, as a former ultra-light pilot, into an eye-in-the-sky DJI Phantom Vision+ 2, a sophisticated device with on-board camera.  The family is looking at colleges, Ruth being a few years younger than Tara.

A highlight of the trip and a satisfying segue from watching Koreans eating, was our visit to a Korean BBQ in Lynnwood.  We cooked the meats right at the table, served with many side dishes.

The next day, I briefly toured the much expanded Angle of the Winds casino and hotel, where Les works in IT, on my way south back to Portland.  All in all, a productive experience.  Happy Birthday Bill.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lifting a Boycott

:: esoteric campaign ::

Related reading on math-teach.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Horns (movie review)

This was in a living room setting in a home with Netflix.  Horns came up under Science Fiction / Fantasy as the category, but I'd say it should be at least cross-indexed under Horror.

Indeed, it's a classic Horror film in that psycho-sexual complexes get stirred up in the viewer with lightning rod characters in need of punishment (a computation), such that maybe the experience of watching the film is both enlightening and cathartic.

That's the theory, and this one had four stars, but we agreed at most two were merited.

But then how "good" a movie is, or how "good" the acting is, are just a couple axes, perhaps encouraged by the Academy behind those awards.  One might learn plenty from films that aren't really good at all.  Indeed, if needing some quick and dirty anthropology, new to a culture, sampling its lowlife, bottom feeding, may be your best bet.

The hero grows a pair of horns and become daemonic.  He becomes a kind of superman like Ken Kesey.  People tell him things.  There's a triangle.

If I wanted to intellectualize about this film I'd talk about all the allusions to other films, in terms of plot lines and stories, whether those were intentional or not wouldn't matter.

I didn't get the sense it was really helping or healing that much, in that it seemed to assist in the spread of homophobia memes more than counter 'em.  See if you think so, if you have any appetite for Horror.  Remember, four stars on Netflix.  A fantasy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


:: extrapolates to tetrahedron ::

:: guest speaker ::

Numerology: note the 24 is 42 written backwards! 24 is also the volume of the 2-F cube in the Synergetics concentric hierarchy.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

May Day Planning