Thursday, August 27, 2015

Meat Therapy

I'm calling it that because the butcher behind the counter at the local market called out to me, helpfully, asking if I'd found everything all right.  Personnel at this market are encouraged to ask that, and if the customer strikes up a conversation, they're allowed to follow it, at least a little ways.

My response was to say I knew the market like the back of my hand (which I've barely explored in any detail, but idiomatically it means "know quite well") but thanks to a gift from my moved-away neighbors, I was now developing more BBQ savvy.  "You'd think an old guy like me would know everything there is to know about BBQ" I intoned, using my louder Bartonius voice, "not true, I'm just a beginner."  The butcher perceptively remarked that we forget and grow rusty as well.

"Yes, and the technology is always changing" I agreed, "like I've got this chimney thing..., anyway, expect to see more of me."  I thanked him for his early morning "meat therapy".

As I wandered away from the meats section, I was thinking about my concerns about meat eating, a behavior I indulge in, which quickly led to thoughts on the role of morality.  To make a long story short, some of the best and most interesting work involves a delicate hand and a lot of empathy, and those habituated to bull in a china shop behavior e.g. lacking empathy, just won't have a prayer of landing such assignments.

However I do feel empathy for all of us who are meat, me one of them.  Being meat has amazing properties and many novel ways to suffer.  I'm watching my dog suffer loss of mobility day by day as I blog about it, as this form of degeneration has no cure but to start again with new meat, if one believes in "reincarnation" where "carne" is literally "meat" in Latin i.e. "to incarnate" is "to become meat".

There's a pun in English a lot of geeks use, rhyming "meet space" (the space of meetups) with "meat space".  Per the meaning @ Meetup.com, a meetup is indeed a meat space event, and I would argue even cyber events involve lots of meat, not just silicon and plastic, as the meeters still need to incarnate in order to pilot their avatars.  As long as one has a meat avatar, all events involving one have a meaty flavor. 

That's just a fancy way of calling attention to some of the substantive consequences of enjoying ones presence as a mammal, in turn a member of the Meat Kingdom (many of the meats for sale and good for BBQ are not mammal meats, the set of animals being a superset of the mammal set).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

BBQ on a T-Day


Right after witnessing Sky Writing and duly buying the advertised brand, to show my support for such stellar acrobatics (and to have ice cream), there appeared in my vista, in New Seasons, a slab of salmon on sale.  Ever since the neighbors sold their house and left, gifting me with two items, BBQ and lawn mower, I've wanted to try them both.

I've tried the mower, it works great, and today is T-day (try-day) for the BBQ, me having purchased a part of that slab at $8.99 a pound.  Carol and I sampled it last night using ordinary cookware, indoors.  Now I'm ready to fire up this Webber and find out what I'm able to do.

I've invited a guest for the occasion.  As I am not an accomplished BBQer in this chapter, or at least rusty from times gone by (our family used to live in Braai Country, Southern Africa), I'm leaving a wider margin of error and not subjecting too many guinea pigs to my culinary experiment.

The atmosphere has been much a topic these last few days, Metro Portland just getting a whiff of what truly is driving many crazy as these fires are so vast.  No relief in sight for the Bend area right now, where a lot of people have put a lot of nest eggs, in the form of expansive homes.

The Metolius Fire was another tragedy the locals still speak of.  That part of Oregon is a tinder box, relative to say Willamette Valley, a lowland under intensive cultivation.

So Portland is not getting huge sympathy and indeed its citizens are resigned to just toughing it out, as driving to clean air would mean going all the way to Nevada, and that's just not that practical.

Adding a plume from mesquite chips will not significantly impact PPM (parts per million).  We're doing our best to make efficient use of fresh fish, with skills-building exercise.  Like in scouting.  The dad is supposed to know how to grill in this culture.  I'm ready to give it a try, today is T-day.  I'll be the dad in this scene.

Of course I made some mistakes:  not enough charcoal and the fish slabs should have been in foil, though this way I at least got those stripes, like in the pictures, with the foil to follow.  Deke showed up and we did the chimney part again, using that special cylindrical device to get things going.

This time I turned the cylinder over on top of the lower grill instead of letting everything just sit on the bottom of the grill.  Live and learn.

The salmon turned out great.  Mom got some too, along with coleslaw and potato salad from Freddies.

We did a taste test comparing Dr. Pepper made with sugar, versus diet.

Summer fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wanderers 2015.8.19

Jeff on Guitar
:: jeff goddard, 2009 ::

Jeff Goddard found time to join us, and it turns out his career and mine have brought us closer together:  we're both into Clojure.  He's using the Reagent based approach to working with React, the Facebook-supported JavaScript library.  My needs are more primitive so far as I'm doing curriculum writing in early STEM, looking at the concept of Vectors.

The discussion wandered all over, as is our wont.  I wrote on the white board with a colored marker clearly labeled as "not suitable for white boards" and had to put some work into getting everything back to pristine, which I did.  Lesson learned I hope.

Those other pens are for butcher paper presentations, not white board presentations.  I had a new domain to share, sounding vaguely shadowy in a DC Comics kind of way (4Dsyndicate.net -- just a placeholder right now, complements Grunch.net and 4Dsolutions.net, used for curriculum writing and DHL shipments (just shipped an art book to Nepal)).

Having access to Safari Books On-line as a perk of my employment means I might find a lot more on React and Reagent if I go poking around.  I'll plan on doing that soon, also wearing my IT Committee hat with NPYM (NGO community service role).

My schedule opened up during Wanderers owing to a rescheduling by the party interested in visiting Costco with me, a sometime Wanderer herself.  We can do that another time.

We talked about Uber, with me reminiscing about our Clackamas County experiment, funded by cigarette tax money through TriMet, who's mandate was to get people from here to there regardless of by what means.

Transportation Reaching People (TRP) showed how a non-profit -- a GO in this case, not an NGO -- could participate in the same space as Uber, tapping mostly retired folks with their own cars and dispatching them to help various parties keep doctor appointments, go shopping etc.

I also mentioned Ron Braithwaite's presentation years ago, about "urberizing" eldercare with a system of passive sensors and human monitors, some of them clients of health care in other ways, perhaps wheelchair bound.

Doing this work in public-private space was Ron's vision for Canada at first, but whether that idea ever went anywhere I know not.  My impression is we're still in the dark ages, Canada too.

My rant this morning was humans were very much an unfinished work, and were aliens to visit they'd likely say:  "not fully matured yet, we'll check back in a couple millennia, good luck."

That attitude derives from my latent case of misanthropy I'm sure.  Likely there's a pill for that in some catalog or other.  Mostly I've got it under control and have a lot of empathy for people.

In fact later today I for some reason (no reason?) took time off from teaching Python to plunge into some Youtubes looking back on the Tsunami in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

I also studied the sinking and refloating of the Costa Concordia, before meeting Carol's flight from Boston (JetBlue).

Sunday, August 16, 2015

HSF 2015


(def HSF-2015 "Hawthorne Street Fair") in Clojure.  Symbols may have that hyphen, whereas in many computer languages the parser would see that as a subtraction operator.

Anyway, you'll see I focus on merchants and merchandize a lot, which is what a Fair is all about in some respects.  And showing off interesting canines.  I really enjoyed the dogs this year, missed the art cars, not saying they weren't there.

I did two passes through the festival.

The first time, with camera, starting at Fred Meyer's and working west all the way to the Cuban restaurant and the pink Voodoo Donuts food cart in the middle of the street.  Then I cut over to a quiet back street and ambled home, to upload my catch.  Great fun.

The second time I left the camera at home and joined Deke the Geek at StarBucks, already in good company.  I then headed west as before, but zigzagging almost to Belmont, winding up at said Cuban place, by way of the Growler Store, permitted to have beer in its parking lot.

I listened to folk music over a pint of IPA (just one), then ate Cuban food (rejoined by Deke at that point) then headed to the gym for my workout.  Pork mojo, tostones (fried plantaines) on the side, with brown rice and black beans.  Excellent.  My first time there.  Used to be a Taco Del Mar, which I also liked.  Deke took some pictures too (to be included in the above album when I get them).

At the gym I switched from Elliptical A (the model I'm used to) to Elliptical B (why not?), forgetting I'd already dumped my Andoid in a cylinder attached to A.  I was almost home again before realizing my mistake and hopped in the Nissan to get back as quickly as I could.  Still there.  Lucky me.

I saw several of my friends, including a Quaker or more, milling about, from my various vantage points.  I texted two of them, but did not interrupt their sojourns.  I also met up with a Hanukkah party regular and we talked about an upcoming photography exhibit at Newspace.

I'd planned yet a third circuit, with camera again, before closing time at 7 PM, and a re-opening to motor vehicles.  That was not to be, as I got involved in cyber-projects and let the time fly by.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Alphabet Soup

Alphabet Soup

I read the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) this morning (page C4), seeing spin applied:  Alpha has market meaning, similar to the one in Geekdom.

An "alpha geek" -- not to be confused with anything only male -- tends to be Bullish in the sense of upbeat (Bears tend to be more bullying), and Bet is like betting i.e. taking risks.  "Bet on us to stay Alpha" is therefore the "secret" message.  Fine, that's clever.

I think another spin would be along the lines of how people admit to a veritable "alphabet soup" in some namespaces, meaning the number of abbreviations is going to seem daunting to an outsider, may seem out of control to even an insider. 

Quakers play that game, with their FWCC, FGC, FCNL, AFSC, NPYM and so on and on, a veritable "alphabet soup" of Friendly entities.  When introducing Quakerism to newcomers, that bewildering array of abbreviations is referred to as "alphabet soup" (no, not Quaker oats).

The US.gov plays similar games and actually Indra's Net is infinite for all intents and purposes, but thankfully not all at once.  One tunes in as necessary, to get the work done.

The inevitable cartoon, if Google itself kept buying and owning, would be to call it Gobble, which only dilutes its Search Engine sharpness with the image of some creature with a big appetite.

"Alphabet soup" in contrast, contains the possibility of staying undiluted and dense with nutritious sense (or at least islands thereof).

So making the parent sound soupy, while keeping the successful flagship meaning what it means, is all good planning, at least at first glance.  Seems apropos.

Back to Wall Street, investors like to know what they're buying and don't like it when hidden losses get covered by what's really the driving core.  Using profits to cover losses, all internally, makes it hard for investors to see what's happening (that's sometimes intentional).

The call for transparency is not just from voters but shareholders as well and new activists are demanding nominating powers over the board of directors (also in the WSJ today).

Corporate bylaws are not some ultimate shield against democratization and many of the more successful companies are that way because of their decentralized "everyone responsible" sense of self-governance.

That's another reason it's good to split up.  I think Deke was telling me that, my neighbor, one of the top Tweeters in Portland, in terms of followers.  True, our City of Roses is no nation's capital, but it does have that cosmopolitan gateway status accorded cities of world class.  So hats off to Deke.

An "alphabet soup" is otherwise known as a namespace.  Whereas Google (a childhood word for huge number) connotes a kind of brute force infinitude, a search engine plowing through giant mounds to get at what's critical, Alphabet connotes permutations starting with only a small set, like DNA.

Infinitude stems from a few core rules, an alphabet, creating the chaos, the welter, the many words, which Google then explores.  Such is the Alpha and Omega of at least one company's business model, no doubt more than one.

Speaking of Omega, the Unicode tables are sensitive to differences in meaning (but maybe not to a great enough degree in some cases?).  The Ohms Omega and the Greek letter Omega have two separate code points.

In principle, the distinction provides a freedom for these two to get further apart, even in appearance, although I'm not saying that's a prediction, simply what "different code points" allows.

That dive into Unicode may seem a non sequitur but think again:  when it comes to permutations and abbreviations, nothing's to stop us from intermixing more alphabets than just one.

Plus Unicode extends to cover beyond what most people call "alphabets" i.e. this is ideogram country, but mathematical symbols as well.

So lets expect our alphabet soups to get more interesting and experimental.  That doesn't mean they'll all be tasty or catch on.  Some people prefer specialty soups, which may be just as wholesome if not more so.

Speaking of Wall Street Journal, here's another example of it's applying spin this past April in: 
A Test Drive of the Death-Trap Car Designed by Buckminster Fuller by Dan Neil.

Here's some counter-spin from an Archdaily some years earlier:   Video: Norman Foster Recreates Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Car by Kelly Minner.

For more on the topic of Fuller's weird car and its misadventures, see Trevor Blake's recent narrative account.  Also see Poor Slob Bucky for more analysis of LAWCAP's anti-Fuller PR.  To say these squares feel threatened by an advancing Grunch is somewhat a truism in this namespace.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Health Talk

body_house

I'll mix body and home, anatomy and domicile, in this one.  Indeed, for say... termites and ants, and also humans -- especially the city-dwellers -- distinguishing where "organism" leaves off and "not organism" begins is a tricky prospect, best avoided.

I like what Glenn reminded me to think:  habits and habitat go together.  They inform each other, two way street.  If possible, being humans, we'll typically attempt to transform an environment to match our habits as a first strategy.  If that doesn't work, there's always adapting, developing new habits.

But that's not always the first option you choose.  "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is a pattern you've sometimes followed with Nature, not just with your fellow humans.  In other words, you try to beat 'em first.  Maybe think about joining first?  You can always beat 'em later. :-D

On the home front, given the neighbors, here for thirty five years, have sold the place and moved away -- kindly gifting me with both BBQ and lawn mower (gas powered) -- I had a smallish timedelta (Python object) to tackle the east side of my garage, with ladder, gutter scoop, broom, hose, bucket, before the new neighbors moved in.

Wow, talk about ant farms!  That gutter, never cleaned in N years, was a super ant habitat and I came along and messed it all up for them.  I was covered with ants in no time, as was the ladder, which is where the hose came in handy, slung over the fence, so using only my water.

I also raked up afterward to make it all spic and span, buying a new Black & Decker rake at Fred Meyer's just this morning.

On the body front:  got a six month physical today, monitoring various parameters.  The Achilles tendon has become chronically tender (a previously blogged complaint).  Almost poetically, this condition has become the Achilles Heel of  my weight loss and maintenance program.  I'm up to 279 lbs, still holding the waistline at 40 inches.  I'm drawing the line.

I've discovered recently that using the Elliptical, at the gym, does not inflame the tendon further and that that has become my newest form of regular exercise.  I bench press about 70 lbs while I'm at it, as a way of cooling down (it's a smooth machine, no free weight aspect).

Aside from that and "swimmer's ear", other minor issues, I was good to go until next January.  I am not taking any medications beyond the usual non-prescription supplements.

In between home and body:  my Internet connection.  Once, when a truck yanked my DSL line from the house -- it was hung too low -- I felt I was witnessing an umbilical cord being severed.  Home or body?

I've been seeing the CenturyLink vans around the neighborhood leading me to think gigabyte optical fiber speeds are now attainable.  Deke thought they might be.  They are.  I've been waiting.

That's going to cost me a lot more in phone bills which means I need to cut the fat elsewhere, literally.

A good way to accomplish that is to take the Alaska Airlines Visa off line for awhile and go back to habits I picked up in Food Not Bombs days.

Expect FNB to feature more prominently, as I get back into that lifestyle, not necessarily a step down in any way.  More bicycle use predicted.  Blogs are good for declarations like that as one never knows when the Pope is reading it. :-D

I should mention the dog's health:  she lost most of her mobility but still has an appetite for life.  I'm keeping her company, the Chair of Computer Science (inherited from Steve Holden) being in the coolest room in the house, not counting the basement.

Knock on the door:  a realtor representing a possible buyer on the other side is scoping the sewer.  That's right, title is changing on both sides of me.  Hmmm, sewer talk:  that's for a future blog post as well. I did have my first colonoscopy last season.

Gravity's Effects

Monday, August 10, 2015

Concurrency Again

Scalable Planning
:: by Dr. David DiNucci ::

Hot languages such as Clojure and Python are building concurrency structures into their basic grammar.

Sure, you might want to talk to the operating system about threads, but maybe your language uses different concepts, such as "start this now and get back to me" or "do this later".

Let the translator talk to the OS, while you the coder stay blissfully in your native language sphere.

As I was planning with Glenn, we need to converge computer science with theater a lot more, if folks are to understand at a deeper level what operations research and general systems theory are all about.  Business executives need these concepts as much as coders, if wishing to avail of economies of scale.

It's not just that a website is like a backstage, with JavaScript puppets keeping a user amused, it's like when you direct films, or plays, with casts of thousands, the extras cannot all wait on each other for cues.

They have their instructions, some of which may involve waiting for other processes to finish.  Once you get the ball, run with it.  Many relay races, many Olympic events, are all going at the same time, perhaps with some kind of scheduler (the OS itself?) with a sense of priorities (changing?).

The mirror of a multi-process or multi-threaded back end is an event driven front end.

If a process dispatches a whole lot of worker bee processes to tackle some task, with a "report back when done" instruction, how will the program know when to check back?  Waiting for the teapot to boil just another form of blocking.

How is work accomplished in the meantime?

That question is often more intuitively answerable when we use a control panel indicator, on some dashboard or in a cockpit, to show "percent complete" and leave it to the human controller, the driver, the pilot, to initiate some next action.

The human controller is likewise a multi-tasker, as is that human's own anatomical infrastructure.  The human body is about as parallel (concurrent) as it gets.

"This work is now done, so you have the option to do this other thing".  Just an option.

Just because a gun is loaded, doesn't mean you have to fire it.

Yes, military planners confront these same concepts.  A lot of these concepts were initially hammered out in some war-fighting context.

Dr. David DiNucci has done extensive research into concurrency as a topic and has come up with what amounts to a graphical language even choreographers or theater directors might use, to organized dances or plays with lots of non-blocking calls, lots of not waiting amidst waiting.

Many patterns pertain in concurrency diagrams.  A cast of threaded workers, awaiting tasks, is a well-known pattern.  Workers pick tasks off a queue and go off on their own, reporting back when complete.  These workers are also known as "listeners" or "subscribers" or "agents" in the design pattern literature.

From the description of Dr. DiNucci's Scalable Planning @ Amazon:
A new graphical representation called ScalPL (Scalable Planning Language) is then introduced for building even complex concurrent activities of all kinds from those elemental activities, one mind-sized bite at a time. For programmers, structured and object-oriented programming are extended into the concurrent realm, and performance techniques are explored. For the more serious student, axiomatic semantics and proof techniques are covered.
In today's world of Containers and Micro-services in the Cloud, the emphasis is on freeing up components to get work done regardless of the various critical paths through the network.

A given job may get hung up somewhere, waiting for Y to finish, but X and Z have already moved on, free to take on other work.  A well designed ecosystem does not freeze up or get paralyzed when a particular process seizes.  Just make a frozen process back burner and move on.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Disarm Day 2015

:: Portland's Disarm Day Ceremonies ::

Disarm Day was fantastic this year.

I had a plan going in, which was to make forays into contemporary surrounding Portland, to celebrate its vibrant interpretation of the "city" concept, complete with Right to Dream Too, a north campus that's evolving quickly.

I was heartened to hear on the radio that some cities are close to "functional zero" where homeless vets are concerned, which doesn't mean vets won't fall out of housing and wind up on the streets from time to time.

New Orleans of all places was talking about this level of service.  This was on NPR.

The public NPR radio stations and the BBC have a close relationship, weaving in and out of some of the same stories, but hours apart on the same 91.5 frequency band in this neck of the woods (KOPB).

"Who'd be crazy enough to nuke a city?" is my implicit question, in compiling this Album.

Carol (mom) delivered a keynote.  She practice it in the living room and I gave her some feedback, but we both agreed she's the extemporaneous sort, a product of years of training to keep it spontaneous (Quakers are not supposed to rehearse their messages to the meeting).

Voodoo Donut got some air time in my shoot.  Mostly I focused on the entrance of Veterans for Peace, abetting by NPYM Quakers with their Peace Dove Puppets, across the Steel Bridge, with colorful large origami cranes hanging therefrom.

The drumming was spectacular and the turnout just as anticipated.  Thumbs up to Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) for a well-organized event.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Player Test


Not very player support the start and duration tags offered by the iframe format.  Here I'm testing those parameters by starting at start = 157 seconds (2 mins, 37 secs) and playing for 4.4 minutes (end = 419), a way of quoting or citing a part of a video.

My thanks to John Denker for calling these parameters to my attention.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Ecovillage Storyboard (continued)


Glenn and I have been brainstorming about the made-for-TV campus in rural Oregon, the EcoVillage, a long running theme in these blogs.

Picture lots of Climatrons, like in St. Louis, just to keep it Lost in Space futuristic, then add lots of retro touches, allusions to our own times.

I'm influenced by The Funny Company, an old TV series with lots of cutaways to black and white documentaries.  Animations were the hook, in an attempt to interest young kids in the documentary format.  I gradually became a fan of the genre and enjoy documentaries (including in color) to this day.

There's a kind of science fiction that's so present day, the viewer is left guessing if these are Hollywood movie props, the real deal, or what.

Some technologies we just know don't exist, but others do exist and we just don't know it yet.  That's partly what this campus is about:  showcasing some of the newer stuff, which is also product placement.  We might place product in lieu of advertising rather than in addition to it, but a combination of both is possible too.

My garage has long been the target of some vine-like parasite that, left unchecked, would likely pull down the whole structure.  In any case it was unsightly and finally I purchased a real ladder, one of those twenty position step and straight ladder Werners.

That got me up on the garage easy and with Glenn's help I was 70% done.  Just need to tackle those gutters again.  When the neighbors move out (leaving me mower and BBQ), I'll maybe have a window to tackle the east side.

Then we checked out a new recycling store where I bought some off beat T-shirts (long sleeve turtleneck like, not suitable for summer, but under a jacket maybe OK), and a couple kitchen things.  Large Mona Lisas adorned the wall.  I took some pictures.

The Ecovillage would be like a Breitenbush mix of long haulers hosting tourists, apprentices, friends in residence...  there'd be turnover at different rates.  What goes to Youtube or whatever is not necessarily something in real time.  Editing with segues to documentaries, animations, is more what I envision.

Then we had lunch in Hollywood (our Hollywood) and Columbia River Brewing, one of my favorites.  I promised the waitress, doing a schools supplies drive, that I'd bring around a whole lot of 3-ring binders (left over from Synchronfile's large archiving project).  I bought two bottles of War Elephant IPA.


DSCF9501