Saturday, March 31, 2007

Memorial Service

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wanderers Retreat

I went into this event feeling stupid about Linus Pauling, like exactly when did he live. Fortunately, Terry showed up with some brief documentaries, which we projected on Friday night. 1901 to 1994, with a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1954, and for peace in 1962.

Allen Taylor and I talked about the power of some preachers to really stand and deliver. He's had more experience listening to preachers than I, given my background with unprogrammed Friends. Billy Graham came up as a man of integrity, and friend of Kim Il-Sung, Jong-Il's dad.

Allen has just finished another "for dummies" book on SQL. His son Rob just won a best actor award for his protrayal of Neil Stryker in Evil Cult.

I talked about Quakers finding resonance with this Islamic concept of Jihad, using truth to undermine tyranny -- a kind of psychological warfare (Quaker bumper sticker: Outward Weapons are for Losers).

Last night the girls and I drove over to Irvington to learn about Claire's sojourn in rural Mexico, staying with a host family for six weeks and planning lots of summer school activities with her friend Ashley.

This Amigos program also aims to broaden horizons intra Latin America as well i.e. not all the guests are necessarily based in North America.

Claire's excellent presentation reminded me that we hope Terry's daughter Caitlin will make a presentation to Wanderers one day, about her own world travels, including in rural India.

Larry finally got his new Vista box connected to the Internet (router problem). Good seeing Andy and Barb again, both fluent in Spanish and familiar with many parts of Central and South America. Chris stopped by the Pauling House straight from Meeting to share a memorials-related file.

I got Tinkerbell out for my first real ride of the season this morning: a 17 mile loop mostly on Springwater Corridor, including over the new bike bridge in Sellwood. Other Wanderers, including Barbara, a veteran outdoorsman, used the morning hours to hike up to Mt. Tabor, our little urban volcano.

Some young geeks showed up, down from Seattle on a pilgrimmage to Pauling-related sites they'd scrounged up via the Internet. They'd just come from his gravesite in Lake Oswego. We gave 'em a quick tour of the house, filled in some of the surrounding history.

Towards mid-afternoon, David Feinstein swung by and joined Bill Sheppard and myself for lunch at K2, an excellent nearby restaurant featuring Indian-Pakistani food. We discussed a broad range of topics, from flow accelerated corrosion to the invasion of Grenada.

I missed seeing Dick Pugh this retreat, though he came by, our respective scenarios being only partially overlapping as Bucky'd've put it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Garden

Elizabeth joined Alexia, Tara and I at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden this afternoon, followed by lunch at Red Wing near Goodwill and Free Geek, where I tried a beer called Proletariat Red (New Old Lompoc Brewers). The water fowl seemed well fed, not as obsequious as on other trips. This garden was also our wedding venue, 9-11, 1993.

Razz is getting her clutch completely replaced, factory new from a kit. It'd been slipping badly, plus she was way overdue for her 60K service, at 73K. The loaner, a Forester, is a nice car, but I'm not ready to invest in a newer motorvehicle, although I may upgrade the music system a notch.

I've continued with my polemics on the Math Forum, trying to upset the status quo debates around calculators, which all focus on why Johnny can't multiply in his head, instead of on why Johnny can't code, which latter missing skill, from Johnny's point of view, is probably the hole most worth filling.

However, the grownups are busy fighting other wars right now, so I hope Johnny is doing some homework on his own. Well-educated kids maybe aren't the priority they once were, on many power-seeking agendas.

Lovely dinner with Jane and Dave, with Gordon swinging by to borrow our projector for his daughter's program on her work in Central America. His son is currently in Chile. Gordon's wife Susan was Tara's piano teacher. All of these folks are Quakers with either Multnomah or Bridge City.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Labyrinth

Back going right: Elizabeth & Ron Braithwaite, Lynn Travis
Across middle: Lucy Travis, Laurie Todd, Kirby Urner
Front: Tara Urner, Chris Ferguson-Cradler
(photo by Alexia Davis)

Monday, March 19, 2007

About Dawn (a brief bio)

:: dawn ::
Dawn was born into a 1953 industrialized Ohio “where the river caught fire” and experienced America’s brand of grinding poverty before moving to a better life in Satellite Beach, Florida and enjoying a good high school.

Both her parents were former military. Don, her dad, was a hard edged soul, terrifying to the eldest two, Sam and Dawn, but mellowed with age while raising their youngest sibling, Carla. He died recently, in Nashville, having reconnected with his children. Her mom, Glenys, died unexpectedly early, like Dawn did, in her 50s, leaving behind a second husband, Bud, whom Dawn was able to visit shortly before she died.

:: dawn & carla ::
Dawn moved to Portland from Florida after the riotous 1960s, strongly anti-war, having attended Florida State and tending to vets in psych wards, while her then-husband Tom served in Vietnam. She had witnessed severe child abuse at a neighbor’s in Ohio, and was scarred for life by a distrust of men. She'd become an effective activist in the feminist, gay rights and right to choose movements. She later took the name Wicca as a reminder to stay wise. Before leaving Tallahassee, she became a mother.

:: don ::
While helping to parent Alexia after an uneasy divorce giving her ex custody, Dawn found a new spiritual path, including a Lakota-informed training she undertook with √Člise, her horse-raising partner. She also developed her skills as a bookkeeper, doing fund accounting for nonprofits. Auditors loved her for her clear books, while clients loved her economy and efficiency. She joined the Center for Urban Education, a 501(c)(3), where she met Kirby, her husband to be, and the Multnomah Meeting Quakers.

Her final chapters were focused on family, spirituality, and travel, plus getting some perspective on her journey thus far. Sacred sites were her passion. She made pilgrimages to holy wells in Ireland, sites around Glastonbury, and years earlier to a Tantric Buddhist temple to Tara in Bhutan, a family home at the time.

:: dawn, carla, sam ::
When Kirby’s parents, Carol and Jack, later moved to Lesotho in Southern Africa, she took along both daughters, Tara then only five weeks old. On a later visit with family, Dawn traveled to Durban for a workshop with the Dalai Lama, and then attended the 1999 Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town as a member of our Quaker delegation. The 1995 Buckminster Fuller Centennial in San Diego was another highlight.

Dawn’s breast cancer was of an especially vicious variety doctors fear, but know how to treat ever more successfully. Her health team at Providence, professional to the core, gave her three more years of this wonderful life, a great blessing to the family, which needed this time to both heal and prepare.

Even while struggling with her disease, Dawn set up a new bookkeeping collaborative with her friend Phyllis. She spoke often of how it felt to be the oldest person at some meetings, and with great enthusiasm for the up and coming talent, a next generation of conscientious, skilled activists.

Dawn’s final days in March of 2007 were according to plan. Her wish all along had been for enlightenment, for teachers, for community. She died at home in the presence of family and good friends. We will always love her and honor her memory, may her soul be at peace, ho mitakuye oyasin.

:: kirby, dawn ::

Friday, March 16, 2007

Grains of Sand

:: mother & child ::

:: prayers ::

drawings by Carolyn Wilhelm

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Prestige (movie review)

My initially negative impression was mollified through my own lecturing about it to Alexia this morning. I realized it treats of a deep existential problem that'll confront the first Tesla types to walk through a transporter, like on Star Trek. Is that really "me" on the other end of the line, or do I die, to be replaced with my replica? But then it's not like we haven't faced this question in other contexts. These stage magicians certainly get a close look at the problem.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another Gnu Math Circular

Not sure if you've been following the Python Reloaded thread on edu-sig, but there's some concern for our snake if it doesn't sprout the edit/continue hooks our competitors sport. Of course I've already made mention of Microsoft's Python, relying on community code, but I'm not close to that action. Maybe PyPy is where we need to look.

I've got two in the hole with the Synergetics storyboards,the first focusing on my career as a community activist, with lots of concessions to qyoob-heads. My second is going to bother certain factions, given we're capitalizing on school infrastructure originally built to impress future factory laborers. Not that we don't still have or want factories by the way -- and don't forget about "factory functions", a feature in our Algebra One.

I've gotten a lot of feedback over the Klingon business,and thank the other Conway (Republic of Perl's) for helping to keep that ball rolling, with that detailed lecture on its grammar at OSCON that time, mixed in with everything else under the sun (except some things). The next year it was Lara Croft (geeks love Lara).

By "Klingon business" I mean that it's quasi in Unicode, even if unofficially. As every gnu math teacher knows, we tie the powers-of-two proliferation of addessable cells with ASCII (Latin-1)and then Unicode, as mappings of human glyphs. Invented languages, such as Klingon, or Elven in Tolkien, have ways of piggy-backing on all this infrastructure, a feature meaningful to children's books writers among others.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Synergetics Storyboard 2

I affiliate myself with those schools of thought thinking school, the institution, should be in the business of disbursing some material wealth, as well as some metaphysical wealth, in exchange for student time and energy.

Then I walk through an outline of a curriculum sequence, with both "left brain" (lexical) and "right brain" (graphical) components. The video presumes some interest in Bucky Fuller's Synergetics, and/or may be seen as an attempt to recruit more students to focus their studies in this direction.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Today's Reflections

I've been thinking the evolution of Islam in the North American context may have beneficial effects "back east" as the old feuds and divides won't be reflected so strongly.

Someday, Islam on Mars may prove similarly calming, to those warring "back home" over this or that dividing line.

However, I think orbiting space hotels would be a precursor, plus a lot more undersea experience, before we might graduate to that level of being able to terraform another planet.

Let's not start counting those chickens just yet.

Back on Spaceship Earth, I'm continuing to nudge against horse and buggy K-12 mathematics, wishing it'd pick some new ruts more consistent with contemporary hopes and dreams.

Open source energy planning requires a strong concept of energy and its conservation, its caloric equivalents. Not just any energy is the right energy for a given application. Yet how many K-12ers get even the basics of AC versus DC? Yes, I know some do.

Picking up on the New Math of the 1960s, I'm seeing how a lot of it was on target, from my perspective of looking back over a long career.

But that's no reason to turn back the clock.

Onward and outward might be our Gnu Math motto, perhaps with a Quaker spin: go inward to go outward.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Man of the Year (movie review)

Banking on his popularity as a TV host comic, a thinly veiled Robin Williams seizes the presidency, only to surrender it in a kind of King Lear moment, when he remembers he's just the jester -- and really, it's better that way (especially since he gets the girl).

Although in the guise of realism, it's completely a mindscape, in the tradition of Team America (South Park Studios) but a tad less horrific. A bored, stupid public denies itself access to the wheels of real power fearing cameras on its past (and ongoing) misdeeds. Silicon Valley can't code worth a dime. There's no hard data about anything. Hollywood runs Universe.

Laura Linney's nervous breakdown in the company cafeteria was a high point for me. Who couldn't love this highly strung nervous nellie, losing it in high style? You could plot twist it right there and make that she is crazy. That scene with the apartment attacker was just in her dreams, and no, the election results were not based on her paranoid delusion regarding the doubled letters in each candidates name, duh. So Robin Williams is president after all.

If they ever do Ellen Ullman's The Bug as a movie, I hope they consider Laura for a part. She'd make a dynamite Roberta Walton I bet, or maybe Joanna? -- s'been awhile since I read it.