Monday, December 31, 2007

Beefs (Faith & Practice)

So Quakers typically have this Joys and Concerns segment at the close of M4B wherein the bolder chronicle their thinking out loud in the minutes. I'm proposing we add, if only as a subtype of Concern: Beefs.

A "beef" would be close to a complaint, but not conveyed in a whiny tone, as if powers that be were responsible, but rather with a subtext of "and I will fix this" (i.e. I'm one of the powers that be).

So for example, I have this beef with capitalist coffee shop flatscreens that show all green freeway conditions, what a relief, but then with the next slide you realize this was just a pretty still life advertisement for some tantalizingly off screen subscribers- only service.

In reality so-called "big money" is apparently too cheap to share this information with an anonymous coffee shop public, commuters depending on such information, whereas in some socialist paradise some nebulous Bureau of Public Roads would be better looking out for the welfare of people, giving us the real deal, and winning brand loyalty on the side.

Per our standard Faith & Practice, you needn't go through the M4B recording clerk to register your Joys and Concerns, as in M4W you're free to offer them silently. Here again, beefs might enter the picture, somewhat in the tradition of New Years resolutions, i.e. "I will be more part of the solution than part of the problem on this one."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hollywood USA

Friday, December 28, 2007

AVP 2 (movie review)

Like I'm working my way down the marquee here, and could've just as well skipped this ho hummer of a horror flick were I not so into walking my talk.

But having linked Alien Versus Predator, perversely some say, to the Quakers' Alternatives to Violence Program (same initials), I felt somewhat obliged to check it out.

To find a film like this cathartic, you need to accept the premise that humans are not in control, and so what becomes of them is not really your doing (the purpose of hell in some authorized fantasies).

Then build up a vengeful grudge against this or that character, and enjoy seeing him getting his just deserts, and then some. Sometimes the punishment is just for being too stupid (like for going into a darkened cave in a horror film context, I mean come on).

One might empathize with the "wrong people" sometimes, like in this case I was rooting more for Jesse than for pizza boy Ricky and his ex-conner bro. I found her "hire and fire" talk boldly feminine, plus she just wanted a little more honesty in her life (can't say I blame her).

But I've experienced enough of this culture to know she was being set up as a target, so no big surprise there. We all saw it coming.

To the Quakers I'd say: notice how these people resort so easily and unthinkingly to violence in their everyday lives, thereby unleashing these more powerful unconscious forces with strong independent momenta.

In AVP trainings, we recognize these unconscious powers, but learn to channel them more intelligently, to actually get some real work done for a change.

The Predator seems to be the only one actually enjoying himself in this flick or at least I presume he hunts for the sheer fun of it. Nothing else would seem to explain his apparent eagerness for more combat.

I found myself not caring much though, about motives, about winners and losers. The government seemed to have the right attitude: let's just wipe the slate clean.

The surviving cast members seemed overly confident at the end of the day, given the highly reproductive nature of these aliens. AVP 3 looks all but inevitable.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boxing Day 2007

The family hosting the Boxing Day party had a suitably English Manor type home, complete with vaulted ceiling, roaring fireplace, a Narnia-style wardrobe. I ate too many of those little cream puffs, meaning more time in the gym.

The English professor and his wife had absorbed a lot of style tips while on sabbatical along the British coast lo those many years back. The unicorns were an especially nice touch. To this day they attend our Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon every year.

I also chatted with an elder who knows roses, was a CO near Bend (later the mid-west) back in the day (WWII -- Doug Strain's generation). He spoke in worshipful tones of Crater Lake (he'd sought property near there), Mount Hood (gorgeous)... Sacajawea (he liked that the Ken Burns documentary had given her a lot of focus, didn't know about the coin).

For formal wear, I wore my Homer Simpson in a tux (holding a remote) T-shirt, a Christmas gift from Alexia and John.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Xmas 2007

:: she likes bananas ::
We celebrated Christmas Eve at First Friends of Whittier, Tara and I alone in the rearmost row, me gawking at the organ (very trendy in its day, still handsome). The service ended with candlelight (if we'd all flicked our lighters, it'd have been more Woodstocky, but hey, I'm post-boomer, not all that nostalgic for what I wasn't around to experience (I like seeing the DVDs though)).

Christmas morning: Alexia joined us vicariously, via primitive avatar technology courtesy of Google. Luna the dog dawned a ridiculous outfit (OK, we dawned it for her). Gifts were exchanged, including some I'd strategically given to mom, looking forward to perusing: Karen Armstrong's Bible bio, Plame Wilson's autobio, a popular Irshad Manji tome. Gifts to Tara included Lost season 3, to Julie, a philosophy for children book on the Hindu dieties.

In the background, I shared another anecdote from my young adulthood with Jon, a collector of heroic stories of one kind or another (really it's about mom and dad, mostly mom, but I sneak in as the storyteller here and there).

I plan to add an iguana's picture to this post, one our family is helping to take care of, while its owners are away. You might think a lizard is indecorous for a Christmas post, but I say the Animal Kingdom is welcome at the table of Christ, a primary teaching of that famous Manger Scene aesthetic, so "in your face" this time of year (I'm not complaining -- I think Christmas is lovely and certainly holy, Santa Claus and all the rest of it).

Good presents from VIP Koski: crisp, professional geometry posts. The Fuller School is in good shape.

:: luna ::

Monday, December 24, 2007

Router Traffic

So we made it. I-5 to Hwy 42 near Roseburg to Myrtle Point (sleep) to Hwy 101 at Bandon, Cape Blanco, Gold Beach, Arcata (sleep), Ukiah, Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco at sunset, sticking to 101 through Silicon Valley then Hwy 156 and Rt. 1 to Monterey (sleep), followed by ocean cliffs and ranch lands to Santa Barbara (beach walk and shopping), on into LA through the Santa Monicas as the full moon rose, then I-10, I-605, Whittier (sleep). Trip meter: 1256 (miles), but I was already south of Wilsonville when I remembered to set it.

A frustration associated with such trips is that sense of missed opportunities, roads not taken, vista points not viewed. One can't do it all, is the problem faced by the feaster, there's just too much. The trick is to realize this is a blessing, plus there's always the hope of going through again, or touching down by private jet or whatever.

Looking forward to 2008.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wanderers 2007.12.19

"Wow, we have exotic fauna today" was my remark coming in, later than usual, as Razz needed an oil change. Barbara Stross joined us, just back from two months in Panama and Cuba, along with Dick Pugh the meteor man, and Nick Consoletti. The conversation, about Vitamin C (very appropriate for the Pauling House) sounded highly informed -- mostly stuff I don't know much about.

My meditation this morning: losing one's temper, prompted in part by Katie's interviews of the presidential candidates on CBS News. Whereas they had to answer off the cuff, I've had a longer time to formulate an answer.

Ideally, I like to vent and fulminate with friends, usually by taking a strong point of view, not targeting anyone present, but putting a lot of emotion behind it. Then come sparring partners, open to heated debate. Finally, censors and handlers know to edit or block my remarks, given their vantage points in the field.

But "ideally" implies "controlled, intentional" whereas "losing one's temper" or simply "losing it" implies "out of control." What I most need to avoid is heating up among strangers, especially in mixed, multi-ethnic situations, as people will likely conclude I'm just another bossy white guy taking his privileges for granted.

I've done a lot of polemics on-line, but my mood isn't necessarily angry, when I write such stuff.

I remember going to Seoul, getting picked up at the airport by Kijoon and a friend. After awhile in the car, Kijoon's friend remarked I was very quiet, for an American. I probably get that from my dad.

I read the above aloud to the assembled Wanderers, prompting further banter and discussion, about The Quiet American, about Canadians.

Bill introduced us to Cliff Pickover's Reality Carnival which looks interesting. Another Wanderer pointed me to NASA's investments in open source avionics.

Lunch with the Boltons at The Bagdad.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Language Games

Related links: [1][2][3]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Parties

jon bunce with globe
Our Wanderers gathering was special tonight in that we convened at Doug Strain's place to celebrate his turning 88 recently.

As we went around the circle introducing ourselves, we each talked about our connection to Doug. In my case, I mentioned being a Quaker and knowing that our Stark Street Meetinghouse had come to us from Doug's company Electro-Measurements Inc., which had in turn purchased the building from the Jantzen swimsuit company.

Others of us had connections to Doug through the Strain Science Center at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

Doug's favorite teacher at Caltech was Linus Pauling and Doug later endowed a chair at OSU in Pauling's name.

He was the major sponsor of ISEPP's project to rescue Pauling's boyhood home from oblivion and make it a rentable property, Cascadia Wild being one of the tenants (I was glad Marion could join us).

Great seeing Joe Cronin again.

bob mcgown with paper cubes
My second party tonight was at Cubespace, where many luminaries from Portland's sprawling open source community gathered for board games, beer and pizza (the 'za was gone by the time I arrived -- which I'm glad about, as I'd already overspent on calories for the evening (oops, spoke too soon, Kim & Jimmy just brought me a milk shake, yum)).

fun and games at Cubespace

Firefox bling

Monday, December 10, 2007


Business-eze: a worldly talk, associated with some shop or business, often indecipherable to the casual listener.

Example: a 1065 nets 1099s from multiple clients, then processes the income to partners in the form of K-1s, which attach to the 1040 as proof of where that income came from.

Example: an ODBC pipe communicates SQL to an Oracle engine (or other brand) allowing front end clients, such as Microsoft Access, to request rows and columns (whether they get them or not is another story).

When people go to business school, they learn a lot of these jargons, or namespaces as computer scientists sometimes call them.

Once you learn a few, you start to see patterns.

Combined with the wisdom of hindsight, these patterns inform a next generation and so on, i.e. we're aware of learning curves, both within (intra) and between (inter) generations of businessese speaker.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Seasons Meetings

Olympus 720 SW + Adobe Elements "smudge stick" filter
Lunch with David is always a privilege and a pleasure.

Today I learned about how some inventive linear algebra abracadabra of his own devising enables delivering better fitting pants over the Internet, without asking for more measurements. Large matrices are involved, eigenvectors.

I spent the balance of my day working for clients, then I got to ride on Meliptus and take a few pictures.

Tara had a babysitting job.

The weekend looks packed. I'll likely go back to posting fewer times per week in my blogs for the rest of December.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Quaker literature emphasizes one's mental posture in Meeting for Worship (M4W) as one of "expectant waiting."

In theological terms, this corresponds to awaiting God's grace, meaning the subjective experience is of receiving a gift.

Our freedom and ability to receive gifts for which no human being, not even oneself, might take credit (in the sense of now owing a debt to said being), is a way new wealth often enters the world.

On the other hand, there's no shame in giving others credit, either, i.e. God's mysterious ways often involve our fellow beings. We're to enjoy one another's company aboard Spaceship Earth (more an enjoinder than a command, per our treasured freedom to fail).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Music Scene

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

KTU3 'n Stuff

KTU3 relieved KTU2 of onerous duty, giving the latter some much deserved basement R&R (still plugged in, Internet aware).

I messed up KTU2's innards by downloading some dastardly malicious software, over firewall objections, such that OS reinstalls were to no avail (and a down to the metal reformat was just not worth the hassle).

I kept myself in the penalty box for like a year, I guess punishing myself for my own stupidity? Anyway, KTU2 remained quasi- usable, if I babied her a lot, especially on boot-up (I had to manually start many services).

KTU3, I've come to realize, has its own downsides, but more about those later (plus some have been addressed).

I just got off the phone with an environmentalist calling from 11th & Hawthorne, explaining how she now competes with my electric car savings account for "save the environment" money. As a 25 year old mother of a 4 year old, expecting another, she's still not a car owner, but heading that way. She was quite pleasant towards my electric car fantasy, so I ended up donating $35 on the DWA business Visa, keeping the difference for my electric car savings account. I'm thinking I'll test drive it some before Tara is old enough to make it her own.

Given I'm pushing geezer status (at least in the Snyder namespace) I also claimed to be one of those rare birds who liked it better when OSPIRG and Environment Oregon were more clearly in the Nader camp. I explained how Nader was a fellow alum (Class of '55) and honored speaker at my 25th (Class of '80) and had she heard of Patti Smith? Like I said: geezer.

Razz stays in the picture, but the driver gets to try different cars.

Looking forward to Jimmy Lott's gig tonight.