Saturday, January 15, 2005

Freezing Rain

We have freezing rain in PDX today with traffic conditionings worsening. Saturday Academy is canceling across the board. In more normal conditions I'd be driving out to Oregon Graduate Institute this morning. I phoned all my students. is having email problems in multiple states per a recording on their support line.

Dawn has this tenderness in her armpit, and that's keeping me on edge. Probably nothing, but once you've had IBC, you're always sensitive to any signs. If it doesn't abate, we'll phone a doctor next week.

When Bucky lost his first daughter, his despair was at first self-directed and he strongly considered suicide. Then he realized that, despite not making a lot of money, he'd been a productive human being (he'd served admirably in the navy, had some civilian structures to his credit -- the domes were still in his future) and he came to another place: human society was backward and behind schedule, i.e. if only we'd advanced further along our destined path, medical sophistication would've been greater, and his daughter might have lived (and yes, in 2005 she likely would have).

So Bucky committed to becoming an engine designed to propel us forward -- as a whole species, not just as one specific family, tribe, or nation. He felt his effectiveness in the world actually derived from his commitment to the whole. And the objective record is testament to his effectiveness. Lots of Chinese read his books with interest, and not because they thought he was brainstorming about ways to kill them (refreshing).

I share Bucky's sense that we're dangerously slow, especially in light of the fact that, even after giving it his all, we tend to dismiss his life's work. Academia has moved on, in a way that mostly just bleeps over, never comes to grips with, his contribution. Like at least he bequeathed some good American literature, right up there with Edgar Allan Poe's (I'm thinking of Applewhite's speech at the Bucky symposium last March, a day or two before I learned of Dawn's cancer diagnosis).

So why don't we read his poetry at least -- for credit, in university? And the concentric hierarchy, his way of organizing simple shapes: I've taught it to 2nd and 3rd graders with no problems, and yet mostly I meet with blank stares when I mention it to adult educators, and we're talking thirty years after the publication of Synergetics.

Yes, there's a lot going on in our little network. We're not at all moribund. In my class today, I was going to show off Braley's VRML interpretation of the pillow dome skeletons, used in Cornwall for the Eden Project. We have a Win2000 lab, so the Cortona plug-in would be the way to go. Then I was going to show how I'm able to generate VRML files on the fly using a set of Python utilities written by Adrian. Because they're open source (BSD license), I'm able to modify them. Likewise, I've contributed a lot of code, a lot of curriculum materials, aimed at making the Bucky stuff more contemporary and accessible.

No one has paid me to do this. Getting this paying gig with Saturday Academy is new, and I think a good sign. But I can't shake this feeling that we're running behind schedule. No matter how effective I am, I can't completely compensate for all that waste in the Pentagon for example. It's just not an even fight. Like, they're losing big time, true, but why do they fight against their own USA? Don't they realize: resistance is futile, we are borg?

A message from the Fuller School: you won't beat us, so how about joining us? Make those geometry cartoons show up in the dot mil domain how 'bout? And what about those BizMos? I should already have one by now. I blame the United States Navy for not being on the ball. Like, aren't those admirals supposed to have great overview or something?

Followup: Dawn's new theory is the pain is actually joint pain owing to the Arimidex -- definitely a more positive spin. Tara and a friend are planning to stay indoors and watch Spiderman. Nick is a guest in our basement, but I think he's out on the coffee shop circuit, per usual. Mom phoned from DC in high spirits -- she's been working with Congress and making significant headway in her own estimation, and I have no reason to doubt her.