Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Random Walk in the IVM Forest

:: Mad Magazine, 01.2007 ::
I zoomed to this cover of MAD at the coffee shop, adjacent the fish 'n chips place in what used to be Casa del Rio on Hawthorne, both excellent restaurants: Veep Cheney and Lil Buddy, helping to fill out our All American Pantheon.

Wanderers this morning was about Phase Rule stuff: thin metal strip sensors, able to detect toxins in mere parts per illion (million, billion...), perhaps released in a pressure or temperature change.

I asked about mercury vapor as a hazard in mining, after making some cracks about Newton thereon (not the only alchemist so imbued, plus girls sipped arsenic to make their veins glow blue).

That set our geochemist (the gent to my left, a Thirster) into a very detailed discussion of the mercury vapor problem, well known to gold miners. Better if the vapor could bubble up in some acidic pool and just cake at the bottom. There's actually an aftermarket for that sort of thing.

Our guest XX this morning (the rest of us XYs), was a star athlete in her last chapter, is now shifting into computers, starting with knowing a lot about version control.

I launched into a somewhat long-winded tale of Free Geek trying to bond with local area nonprofits, under the auspices of a forward-thinking MMT (Fred Meyer's foundation).

This first tentative knotting proved a highly technical undertaking, involving a Mozilla, Perl, and Postgres stack. Naked Ape made the Perl OOish. I siphoned data from Access to Postgres, using a monster data transformer script mostly written by others (but I helped a little).

This was around the time of my wife's first diagnosis, and I needed to bow out of some of my roles.

Anyway, the nonprofits (NGOs, plus a lot of GOs, per GOSCON) still get kinda panicy around so much mumbo jumbo in computer world, which we geeks like to spew forth in firehose quantities, but get slapped down for doing.

A culture clash of some sort. We'll work it out. Somehow. Someway.

The future's gotta happen, i.e. "What, Me Worry?"™

I did manage to crank out a little talk on the group properties of the totatives of N, field propeties if N prime. Our athletic XX version controller had expressed some interest in the subject during intros, and although I'm no expert, I've been rooting for Gnu Math @ Math Forum, so have such material on tap when cued.

"Women rule in Computer Science" is my motto, related to my going gaga for Athena, an Ice Queen (IQ) of sorts: coolheaded, logical, serene, yet intuitive. A positive synergy, worth putting on a pedestal.

Trevor, newly armed with NYT access, was searching on you know who, and came up with this 1955 story about a mock liberation of Philadelphia in a simulated atomic war, with Russian brass invited to attend and attending. I forget what was Bucky's role in all this. In another story, he's serving on the board of a homeless shelter for single male vets, having recently purchased Shelter magazine.