Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Major Monday

click here for slides

I had two major meetings on my calendar for today, each quite different.

The AAPT is back in town, at the Hilton, enjoying one of its two conferences a year.  The last time AAPT met in Portland, in 2010, I was the invited guest of one of its past presidents, Dr. Bob Fuller emeritus, University of Nebraska / Lincoln.  This year, 2013, we gathered to remember Bob and to listen to some of his collaborators and former students recount their experiences.

I met with Margaret Fuller again, and other family.  Margaret and Bob had long ago planned to attend the first reunion since 1964 of the Methodist English High School (MEHS) in Burma (Myanmar) this January.  Bob did not live long enough to see it, but Margaret was there and able to immerse herself in another side of her life partner.  Among the 670 alumni was Aung San Suu Kyi, another one of Bob's students (he was there from 1958 to 1961).

Had I been one of the speakers my story would have been somewhat similar to theirs in emphasizing Bob's eagerness to leverage digital technologies for their physics-teaching potential, including but not limited to interactive simulations.  I had worked with his team turning simple Excel spreadsheets from motion sensors, pasted to a ballerina, into ray-traced animations, with a pipeline of Python + POVray.  Our work was a free CDROM at the AAPT conference one year.

I was not aware Bob had developed Playground Physics and Amusement Park Physics to quite that degree.  I came along much later with my First Person Physics, a somewhat umbrella term for a kind of physics you learn through visceral first person experience (subjectively, in your bones) not just "objectively".  I can see why Bob found his thinking so consistent with my own and considered me one of his team.

click here for slides

The second meeting concerned the brick and mortar structure we call "the Pavilion" in the Buckman neighborhood.  Several religious groups and lineages, as well as non-professing, have structured relationships through community meetings there.  We're like an EMO. I showed up in my Reverend Billy mode, prepared to sound churchy with my prepared remarks.

However, I did not feel a need to steal the show and merely introduced myself from the back of the room, donning an AFSC Corporation Member name tag (left over from the last Philadelphia meeting).  Lindsey (Officer Walker) was doing fine in her Betty Crocker outfit (in turn somewhat suggested by Sketch, who'd advised her to "dress normal, like Betty Crocker").

Since the meeting was scheduled as a potluck and was our regular meal time, we just folded the two events together.  FNB turned up in large numbers, Satya and Fallon included.

Given I was in a suit coat on a hot day, and that I weigh too much, I was finding the meeting room hot and stuffy.  I hoofed it over to the McMenamins, the Barley Mill, where I explained to the bartender what we were meeting about in that nearby stuffy room.  She uses the pavilion too and wished me luck keeping it open.

I snarfed down a Boneyard IPA, like I'd done with Patrick the day before, and then grabbed a free Yerba (non-alcoholic) in a can on my loop through the Buckman park back to the church.   A perimeter vehicle (human powered) was giving them out for free.

I'd missed the Art Hendricks presentation and only stayed up to where they were going to consider padlocking our meeting structure.  They've already padlocked the one at Powell Park, meanly excluding thousands of non-voting high school teens from congregating there, so I know they're cruel and heartless, or at least poorly managed.  Why any building calling itself a Christian church would allow such a meeting on its premises... don't get me started.

That was just too sacrilegious a discussion for me to want to sit through it, especially wearing a suit in a stuffy room, so I absented myself before my Trimet ticket had expired, sharing my prepared sermon with Miz Melody later (she's the Reverend Billy fan).

I hadn't realized the Hinson Church had a full indoor gym with a basketball court and everything.  I didn't get a look at the kitchen but I bet it's more than adequate.  These privileged churchgoers have a lot of assets.