Saturday, May 26, 2007

Spiderman 3 (movie review)

Tara and I took this in, this starting sunny, but turning stormy Saturday, this Memorial Day weekend.

The Spiderman trilogy was blessed with an outstanding cast. MJ is the ideal girl next door, reminds me of 2D's dear Vicky, likewise a redhead. Peter plays his part to the hilt. Tara liked Harry's performance, plus we both admire his dad, the gas station attendant in eXistenZ.

These comics are ostensibly about outward events, but turn dreamlike very quickly. Like, the police chief and (Parker double) boyfriend photographer are so remarkably blasé about the fear and trembling going on in that skyscraper (wayward crane scene) just as Parker isn't tracking as MJ spirals.

The loneliness of life then comes crashing inward to the game-like solution of making it be about vengeance, and bringing out the cruel devil in us all. We become monsters, relishing the tortures we dish out to one another.

The Sandman was especially Ozymandias-like, perennial, eternal. All he has is his daughter. He reminds me of a spirit in Spirited Away. And yes, Marvel weaves in frankly Christian imagery, an integral theme in Industrial Gothic, likewise the backdrop for batman, another of the darker, more psychological profiles.

But Spidey is more shaded towards Superman, less dark. The vengefulness-producing creature, crash landing from outer space, reminds us of Smallville's newest denizen, while Peter's subsequent "putting on the Ritz" (becoming the debonair man about town, and going overboard doing so) likewise alludes to young Clark's "black kryptonite" induced erotic aggression, or blame "teen hormones" in some stories, in the background reality against which these comics were first drawn.

Peter abuses the police chief's daughter (once again the victim) just to get back at MJ, Harry having torqued up the love triangle exponentially, feeling taken advantage of in his paranoia (but the butler talks him out of it -- shades of Batman again).

Physics also plays an interesting role in this film, as a center of diagnosis and early warnings, with the zoom-ins to the physiological effects very bleep-like. But then physicist carelessness begets Sandman's genesis in the first place -- no wonder we're on such intimate terms with creation.

But let me zoom back and say again that I appreciate the whole cast in this series, including the small cameos. These are truly marvelous tellings, real Scheherazade numbers with plenty of mirrors.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wanderers 2007.5.23

The Toshiba is projecting Glenn's Cymatic Soundscapes (a DVD version) through Terry's projector. Cymatic Soundscapes, by Dr. Hans Jenny,©1992 MACROmedia, is a study of wave phenomena. No computer-generated images are used.

Bill, the electronics engineer behind the not-a-theramin, has been struggling with ncurses in Python, and brought me some broken code on a memory stick, along with the assembly language version that's already working.

He's trying to mock up a calculator directly on the "glass CRT" or terminal window, bypassing the OS-provided widgets libraries ("the canvas" and so on), which add so much overhead in the field, in terms of needed memory.

Bill calls himself a "bunny clubber" to signify his Neanderthal predelictions, which are valuable biases and skills to keep handy, given all the sophisticated graphical stuff that relies on bunny clubbing at a low level.

And even below that, are the Bruce Adams type skills, which allow metallurgic annealing of delicate tiny circuits, using but the shortest possible bursts of radiation.

Bill also showed off his RPN HP style terminal window calculator, written in C. The unit converter, however, was not quite compatible with WinXP's emulated DOS. Such is life in the big city.

I also projected this comic "battle of the sexes" video by Harry Enfield & friends, a spoof of past gender typing, plus we enjoyed this "ode to aging" (more fun stereotyping) by Tom Rush.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Live from Baghdad (movie review)

I caught this 2002 movie on HBO thanks to my newly installed DirecTV service.

There's something undermining about fictionalizing the lives of professional journalists who work so hard to write mostly nonfiction, or at least flag when there's a strong editorial spin.

Given how little was settled in the first Persian Gulf War, this film retroactively comes across as wartime propaganda, inexpertly done with CNN's behind the scenes blessing. As such, it's informative about the corporate mindset of the day, and therefore valuable to historians.

However, a talking head documentary, perhaps with cutaways to reenactments (labeled as such) would've been a more honest and less dumbed down format for communicating such bias.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rocket Science

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Quaker Informatics

:: future meeting house, pre electro-measurements ::
I've served as projectionist a couple times now for Bleeke & Abbott, sojourners to the Middle East recently, now on the Powerpoint circuit. My Optoma, with its bright light and small footprint, is a hot commodity among Friends, has done screen duty a few times, and not just for me. However, I'm protective of it, and claim in the fine print to be the 800 pound gorilla who needs to accompany it everywhere -- hence "the projectionist."

Part of my philosophy is I don't want Friends to grow up over-reliant on others for technology, a mistake made by a lot of religions, especially in Europe, where science and religion squared off in opposing corners for various reasons. This either/or mentality leads the religious to think engineering is some distant discipline and vice versa -- a debilitating condition, bordering on psycho-pathological (well over the line in some cases).

Fortunately, I see lots of signs that Quakers aren't forgetting their heritage and future technological competence is still very much in the cards, as probable even. So I can't say I'm really too worried about it.

:: a work in progress ::

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Basement Archeology

These scans are of 1996 documents, retrieved from my basement, and reflective of two different projects I was engaged in at the time.

CLAIR = "Cath Lab Angiograms and Interventions Registry" a Visual Foxpro application I wrote for inhouse clinical data collection, to facilitate outcomes research. My CORIS, or "CVOR Outcomes Research Information System" was in the same genre. The above page was from Andy Bennett's write-up for our Center for Outcomes Research (CORE). Both systems have long since been retired in favor less home grown systems written by larger teams.
Back in 1996, United Voices (UV) was Mary Ann Prado's project at the Portland AFSC, focusing mostly on youth sharing Asia-Pacific ethnicities plus attending local area public high schools.

Our LAAP program (LAAP = "Latin America Asia-Pacific Program") had its own subprogram and director, Marco Mejia from Ecuador, for Latino youth cultures, running convergently / divergently on a "parallel" track. We produced Voz Juvenile for local cable TV viewers.

Through LAAP, I ended up serving on the AFSC Corporation, which meant occasional paid flights to the Northeast, where I'd also visit old haunts in Jersey, plus hang out with Fuller collaborators Kiyoshi and Ed, Chris Fearnley of SNEC, artist Kenneth Snelson in New York City, other friends and relations.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I grabbed Jasper Johns, a view cube overlooking SE Grand, right across from Dr. Jekyll, Ishmael to his rear, Ingres to mine. That must be the "fictional characters" aisle across the way, "painters" my theme. They address cubes by theme/subject here @ CubeSpace.

But my first task of the day was to lug polyhedra, laptop, speakers, projector, Ethernet cable, paperwork, to PSU for the sa: class, unit 4 of 5, giving Nick a lift in the process. Today we covered the MVC design pattern, using our "cave painting" delegates: Vector, Edge and Polyhedron classes for a Model, VPython and POV-Ray for Views, naked Python for the Controller (M = Model; V = View; C = Controller).

Jennifer used the time alone to surf the net, took off about the time I got back, perhaps to rendezvous around dinner, maybe OMSI tomorrow? She's from Miami, thinking to relocate to either Portland, Seattle or the Bay Area.

Now at Barcamp, I'm awaiting the Python Meetup while taking photos of some prototype XOs. This is the first time I've been this up close and personal with these machines. They're smaller than I'd expected, but that doesn't detract from their attractiveness.

Knitting (the activity with needles and yarn) seems in, as a unisex activity. Bagels and tacos with fixin's, coffee and sodas for drinking. And Bubble Tea: pretty sweet, and I forgot to ask for tapioca balls with my first one (an error since rectified).

The geeks are cramming into rooms, earnest, polite, and serious, trying to make intelligent use of their limited time. Networking skills aren't among the easiest to develop. Stay relaxed and enjoy real time visits with your peers, is my advice.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Key Fob

I'm in a customer lounge in the maze of Dick Hannah the car dealership, in neighboring Washington State, having bounced to Jeep-Chrysler, where Razz was procured, thence to Subaru, where the new clutch was recently installed.

But key fobs get handled elsewhere, here to be exact.

Casey is on the job... done.

The old one was about to fall off. Didn't relish needing roadside service in some darkened byway, all because I'd lost a fob or whatnot.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Aqua Teen (movie review)

I likely wouldn't have penetrated this subculture at all minus encouragement from Kevin Altis, inventor of PythonCard, a wrapper around wxPython that makes GUI-based event-driven programming more accessible to invisible armies of used-to-be Visual Basic programmers. I appreciate Kevin's eclecticism.

So I went into this film at The Bagdad already semi-literate regarding this namespace, expecting certain characters, somewhat familiar with the surrealist landscape, shades of South Park, that this movie, developed from the esoteric cartoon series, now showcases to a wider public.

I suppose it helps to have seen The Incredibles, War of the Worlds (at least two of 'em), lots of B-grade scifi scenarios with a "spooky castle Dr. Evil" (maniacal laugh), and of course any number of cartoons.

Here we blend the idioms into a familiar patois, for connoisseurs of certain pop and/or teen and/or college subcultures. I saw this with a couple other older guy Wanderers (I'm 49 in a week), one of whom slept through much of it, the other of whom likes pickles with his peanut butter.

I invited Matt but he's swamped with work.

Monday, May 07, 2007

More Mementos

Thursday, May 03, 2007