Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wanderers 2008.12.31

New Year's Eve 2008
:: dave, don and barbara ::
We were blessed with some exotic visitors this morning, including two first timers: Dr. Nic Tideman of Virginia Tech, an economist, and (only briefly) Don's son David, an HR guy for Flextronics, a vast Singapore-based company that makes components for Dell, HP, Microsoft, Apple, even 90% of Lego bricks until recently (plastic injection molding). Barbara joined us as well, Dr. DiNucci, Bill, Don, Patrick.

Rudyard Kipling's birthday was yesterday.

Dr. Tideman works in Economic Justice, which has to do with ownership, whether people have rights to themselves, the land, and so on. His theories have applicability in the Pacific Northwest, where ownership patterns are somewhat in flux. Henry George is one of his influences. Portland-based Jeff Smith is another Henry George fan.

Treating corporations as partnerships makes the most sense to him though he's still thinking through the liability issues. He's admittedly radical -- professors get to be that -- especially his ideas around money (bricks (not gold necessarily)) and banking.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sketching Comics

Sometimes people don't realize the importance of drawings in scenario planning. Of course if it's a financial investment, there's a need to see numbers, and sometimes drawings and numbers go together, in which case we might be looking at graphs or diagrams.

In designing a new hospital, you want more than a floor plan, you want sims going through on their beds pushed by orderlies, giving you a point of view, an average time between locations. Where do the beds go when not in use? What might be the likely bottlenecks? How many orderlies do we need, or do the beds steer themselves (that sounds like science fiction I realize)?

However, with comics, enactments, simulations, cartoons, it's easier to flesh out the actual job descriptions, such as what do those three people in the cockpit do, in the old pilot, co-pilot, navigator design.

In this case, you'll see scripts, read and/or hear the things people might actually say to one another in this environment, such as "give me a vector" and "roger" and so forth. There's a shoptalk, a professional decorum, which varies with walk of life, changes with the times (like commercial television).

Likewise when one of our gym teaching gnu math teachers has students saddle up for this or that maneuver, there's maybe some apprehension, if students are unclear about the challenge and aren't sure of the teacher's qualifications. What will she expect us to do? A ropes course?

This is where web sites come in handy, as you see the white water rafting experience documented. Then you'd like word of mouth, someone else who's done it before you.

Some of the pilot studies we need to try might involve clarifying job descriptions in a somewhat ad hoc manner, but going over it enough times, with rotation, such that we get a pretty clear "comic book" as a result, or maybe short videos. The trainees have matured in their roles and now have the ability to pass the torch as it were.
The reason we're unclear and needing to proceed by trial and error is many of the technologies are very new and it's unclear what the optimum skills mix will be. HTML and CSS go together, but what about GPS skills, do they go with SQL? For some certainly.

What were the ramifications of geochaching, as a sport?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Swiss Christmas

Swiss Christmas
Mom scored some pretty cool booty in Geneva, giving our Portland white Christmas just the right flavor.

Greetings to family in Whittier, Clarksville (thanks for the T-shirt!), Rochester, Pennsylvania, high desert, I-5 corridor, to Victoria and family in Vancouver, BC. Signal flare to scattered friends in our Global U (e.g. GS Rao in India).

Rose Owen is still our guest, since the Solstice Party, owing to snow.

Christmas greetings to the Riggs family, courageous and brilliant.

Tara gave me Britney's newest album, which I immediately set to playing. Spaghetti Factory? Dunno, it's starting to come down again...

Hawthorne was mostly shut tight come nightfall, but Fujin was going gangbusters. Becky and her family are truly kind and hard working. Tara give our Chinese Christmas dinner very positive review.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Google Street Views

View Larger Map
:: Fine Grind, SE 39th & Lincoln ::

View Larger Map
:: Quaker Meetinghouse, 42nd & SE Stark, Portland ::

View Larger Map
:: Linus Pauling Campus, Portland ::

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Art

R&R = surfing for art sometimes, starting in Google images, tracing back to artist websites. "Snow goddess" and "Ice Queen" were two of my searches this evening. Some welcome relief from pictures like this (my Global U homework these days).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Booting Up

Integrating SQL into everyday algebra, renamed computer algebra in some contexts, involved implementing a schema of Polyhedra established by Faces of consecutive Edges in turn defined by tail-originating vector pairs.

sqlite> .schema Polyhedra
CREATE TABLE Polyhedra (
shortname CHAR NOT NULL,

sqlite> select * from polyhedra;
"Rhombic Dodecahedron",cell,14,24,12,6
At the top level, we have those V, F, E columns, good for self-joining to seek duals (where shape1.V = shape2.F and shape1.F = shape2.V and shape1.E = shape2.E). We also have volumes columns where, breaking with tradition, we also store tetravolume equivalents -- always whole numbers in the case of CCP-based Watermans for example, and in our "boot sequence".

The above covers XYZ, other spatial coordinate systems, and establishes vector geometry in the context of record-keeping (SQL engines), setting the stage for GIS/GPS topics in future curriculum segments. Ray tracing, x3d / VRML, graphics engines such as VPython (wrapping OpenGL) all fit in to this picture, establishing an integrating geometric bridge between art and science.

Having a web framework serving pages in the computer algebra classroom, with some students responsible for learning inner workings, is not a big detour away from career-relevant goals, as this form of record-keeping is pervasive in academia, government, private industry.

Traditional algebra topics, such as functions and relations and ordered pair mappings, permutations and combinations, trigonometry & statistics, get perpetuated forward, with an emphasis on modeling, controlling algorithms and summary visualizations (MVC).

Planting RSA public key cryptography at the high school level, a core feature of contemporary eCommerce, motivates forays into number and group theory at lower levels, with much of the curriculum writing still awaiting development.

4D Solutions, a sponsor of the Oregon Curriculum Network, boasts a serious track record in getting this flavor of Gnu Math off the ground.

That being said, this is very much a collaborative effort and I have a long list of people to thank, many of whom are continuing to provide our company with valuable feedback and guidance, even yummy gigs and contracts sometimes.

Looking forward to 2009 then!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Geometer Remembered

Remembering Russell Towle
:: some pythonic math ::
I just today learned from David Koski that Russell (Rusty) Towle was killed in a car accident in August of this year.

kindly helped me in my early work with POV-Ray, the free ray-tracing tool, pointing out that I had the wrong aspect ratio, making my polyhedra look squashed, like on this page. He showed me how to fix the problem. Russell was a master of the mathcasting genre.

I've also mentioned him in my Beyond Flatland essay (1998) for his early work on the Waterman Polyhedra. The guy got really around, touched the lives of a great many people with his exquisite craftsmanship.

His family and friends put together a blog in his memory, which I've been enjoying. Stephen Wolfram also had Rusty on his radar, given all those colorful zonohedra in Mathematica.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Family Album

:: dad & mom in makati, metro-manila ::

:: dad, not sure where ::

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Late Night Notes

Django derives from a fast paced newsroom, archiving to the web, with teaching examples Reporter and Article.

I just planted a Subversion trunk on my laptop, in the process of following a book on Safari: Sams Teach Yourself Django in 24 Hours (already somewhat dated), other documentation. I've posted some notes showing some of my progress.

Partners are really busy these days. Lots of wheels turning. Lots on our plates.

I shared with Gordon about the fun geometry debate I'm having, about a triangle.

It's time to focus more concertedly on skills-building -- skipping Wanderers today, just too far behind. Feels like college, all nighters expected.

New Tax Cut in the mail today.

The TV news was violent and grim tonight, about drug wars. Latter day Prohibition is taking its toll, with Mexico becoming a police state versus crime families, like gangland Chicago in the early 1900s.

I signaled an interest in bidding on an RFP this evening, just learned about it, a looming deadline, a former client with mostly new staff by now, different technologies.

Xmas shopping a must today as well, Solstice and Hanuka parties upcoming (including at our place).

Julian's art to be featured on OPB, on December 18 and 21.

Earth's magneto-sphere has bigger holes than expected, lets more particles in when north-polarized -- a surprising finding we're told.

Our thanks to friends and family for all the cards (most of you don't bother with my blogs, I realize, like who has the time?).

Hello to Sam and Judy, I need to send you some email too. Merry Christmas!

julian @ work

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Glenn stopped in, looking to transport a 50 lbs bag of contractor sand, for adding friction to ice-covered sidewalks, a service to pedestrians. We got the last two in stock from Ace Hardware (formerly Division Hardware), more on order.

I mentioned in the LPH parking lot having made headway with my CSN project, Glenn having noticed the For Sale sign on the 39th/Lincoln building, the birth place of Fine Grind Productions.

I've just posted something to PPUG, summarizing where I'm at: ready to plant a Subversion tree (svn) and showcase a demo ordering screen.

Pyrite Dodecahedron
Glenn came by earlier with the beautiful pyrite dodecahedron depicted above, "one of mom's" (mother nature's), i.e. not made by human hands. Pyrite also makes fossils sometimes (called pyritisation) -- versatile stuff, this "fool's gold" (good for fooling).

Having a lot of "geometry of nature" in the picture is part of our branding strategy, with a link to wholesome foods, such as Portland coffee shops are already known for (really they're bakeries, as much as coffee shops -- quite an evolved culture, a good place to begin (also LA, Seattle...)).

Monday, December 15, 2008


In explaining the tableau below, I wrote to one of my Quaker friends:
Esoterica from that Xmas montage: skull & crossed bones pirate flag (symbol of free enterprise) juxtaposes with small OLPC XO, which the cat (Moon Kitty) is sitting on. XO is a cross and skull also, if you look at it right:
( click for larger view )

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Deck the Halls
:: urner xmas, 2008 ::
Portlanders put exclamation points for snow days, especially when it sticks, flakes big and puffy, hard to think of them as dainty doily hexagons like under microscopes.

This is Tara's idea of what Christmas is really like (mine too), so she's fired up the seasonal CD and is unwrapping the toy tree we got on sale (50% off) at Fred Meyer's, with lights and everything.

I'm in the recliner from Bradenton (FL), supervising, imbibing coffee from my Princeton mug, using my Ubuntu laptop, and feeling Bob-like (lucky guy).

Merry Christmas all.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pondering Python

Some of those Intel guys, in a recent meeting, were saying where Python fits into their company: a workbench for chip testing, right down to the registers, comes in that flavor; IronPython looks tempting.

Speaking of IronPython, I wonder if Microsoft will give it more profile. Marketing wisdom has been to pander to the VB army above all, not rock that boat (a goldmine).

However, with .NET gaining in prominence and the newer VB morphing into a rather redundant flavor of C# in some ways, there's a lot of demand for these agiles, very high level languages like these Linux people have.

For those less familiar, .NET is a virtual machine API that doesn't specify the underlying operating system, so we really don't care in that sense.

The "Redmond look"
is already cross-platform, cross-fertilizing with Xerox-Parc's, SGI's... Sun's i.e. the whole idea of "windows" on a "desktop" is "standard GUI" in this day and age (the eye candy of our era). High level computer languages like Python are not bound to these metaphors (visualizations), yet handle them well (control them), as they will future GUIs of merit.

Of course libraries matter, to any language, and operating systems have their varying capabilities, so in that sense importing from OS (by whatever semantics) is going to result in diverging possibilities at higher levels.

Driving a motorcycle is different from driving an ATV.

The whole point of a VM, however, is to sustain the languages atop it, in part by shielding them from OS-related issues. Python, Scheme, Ruby, will compile to bytecodes in the CLR and therefore interoperate happily, whether their authors do or not. That's the joy of interoperability: we get the benefits of synergy without coercing coders to drop their favorite snake, gem, intriguing favorite language for puzzle solving.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Show Time!

This was my fourth time to take in R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe. The theater was packed, and Doug Tompos was in great form, really connecting with his audience, squeezing this expertly crafted script for every last drop of illumination. People grooved on getting such a meaty (substantial) transmission of experience. The standing ovation was well deserved.

Dr. Leslie Hickcox, clerk of Multnomah Meeting's Friendly Care Committee, bought a copy of Alex Gerber's Wholeness, then joined me for some post-play discussion at The Annex (McMenamins) on West Burnside. Having recently joined Multnomah's Oversight Committee, I actually have an official interest in how Quakers respond to the plight of the homeless in this town.

Personally, I think we're way too minuscule to provide much in the way of direct services, but might assist in steering a concerted response from the business community, in the form of better Internet access to relevant resources, including trainings and apprenticeships, coordinated transportation services.

We debated the pros and cons of various strategies, taking strong positions and defending them (Leslie is no pushover). I'm hoping to rope Desiree into these discussions as well, as she knows more of the history.

I'm glad Nancy (another Wanderer) is getting to see the play. Also Don got to go again.

This play has done a lot to alert Portland to the possibilities. The future needn't be dire, given the work already accomplished. I thank the team behind this stimulating and catalyzing theater production, for doing valuable community service at an opportune time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Gatherings

The shopping season, motivated by gift giving occasions in several traditions, is a time for overtime, extra shifts, being busier than ever, for some service industries, not just retailers. So these Hollywood images of families relaxing, apparently with nothing to do except drink eggnog and sing around the piano come across as perplexing. Where are these goldmine consumers with all that disposable dough?

Our family is quite on the busy side, being service sector, although I admit to assuming a sedentary posture as I frequent the coffee shops, chatting with owners sometimes, yakking about LCDs, wall art. Sometimes I snap pictures, the better to compare notes. The Internet makes collaboration easier. Company principals needn't all live in the same town.

Santa Sings
That being said, we're not averse to attending parties, including ones with pianos, although I'm no John Ashcroft when it comes to belting out a tune. My inward pattern is to reflect on the Manger Scene in two ways: I ponder the non-humans and their participation in the mystery of life, and I focus on the three oriental kings ("we three kings of Orient are").

I don't think it trivializes our humanity to honor our animal sisters and brothers (cousins and aunts), as co-sojourners aboard Spaceship Earth. On the contrary, I'd say our humanity is transhuman, if that makes any sense. We lose a part of ourselves when a species is lost to us, a part of our heritage. I'm not saying we're in a position to prevent every kind of extinction. I'm saying it makes sense to honor and value our heritage.

Jesus wouldn't have minded knowing about dinosaurs I don't think. Given his time and place, that wasn't an opportunity for him. He didn't pretend to omniscience in that know-it-all sense, nor need we in his name. Humility, not hubris, is the way to go, though let's admit to bravado -- as mammals, some flamboyance goes with the territory (it's not "vain" to spend some time on one's appearance -- or it can be, but why make oneself the judge in every case?).

Last year, we drove all the way to Whittier and back for Christmas and New Year's. Given Carol's late start on her winged migration, thanks to the Geneva trip this year, we're thinking to try a different mix for this transition to 2009, and staying in Oregon (with brief trips to Washington).

There's no sense of "closed for the holidays" over here then, much as some of my business competitors might wish that I'd shutter my shop and quit the field. Too many of my friends are on the street, getting squeezed by predators, or whatever. Not stuff I'm able or wanting to turn my back on.

Fortunately, some R&R is part of my job description (e.g. a gym membership), lest burnout be a problem. As the old saying goes "if you teach a work horse to pace himself, you won't have to lead him to water or make him drink" (OK something got lost in translation maybe, but you get my point).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Coffee Shops Network

Of course there's no legally incorporated corporate entity, no Inc. or LLC with this name, or if there is it's not mine.

CSN is more a philosophical commitment, and a meme, and/or a "marketing gimmick" if you want to sound cynical about it, plus an obvious tip of the hat to the Centers Network, which centered around centers, not coffee bars or salons.

There's some pedigree here, not just through me, as many Nirel fans well know.

Given Erhard's encounters with Fuller from the 1970s on, it's also appropriate that we're thinking in terms of "tetravolumes" in the YouTube below, featuring the work of Dave Koski & Co:

Here's another good one, on a similar theme, featuring the enneacontahedron again:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Food Bank

One of my clients for several years was the Oregon Food Bank. This was during that period after the first PC revolution, before open source, when a solo coder, slinging dBase, could tend electronic crops all over town, little gardens of source code. I worked for Methodist campers (United Methodists), homeless youth (Burnside Projects), the homeless in general (Sisters of the Road).

I've been doing this work for quite awhile, and then so was my partner Dawn Wicca (as a non-profit bookkeeper, not a coder), such that as of today I count like 92 clients in my DWA / 4D database, most of them long gone off my radar, though I archive old invoices.

When I was a youngster, economists spoke frequently and intelligently about an intangible asset called "good will", which they actually assigned a book value in some systems.

Food Banks serve a dual purpose in that they provide a small allowance of proteins and carbs, for families ineligible for further credit and unable to make ends meet. This forestalls social chaos, looting, urban degradation, rural cannibalism (joke).

But there's another focus as well: sponsors get their decals strewn about in ways that help them in the "good will" department, even though in many cases disposing of excess capacity is more a way to keep the stuff out of landfills (that looks really bad, any time the press runs with it -- happens every day, stuff spoils, stores drop their order numbers).

Good will is an asset in terms of building customer loyalty, and brand loyalty is the name of the game in any differentiated market offering lots of choices. When the choices narrow to just a few providers, you'll find complacency sets in and the top dogs start enjoying their power to lord it over.

When there's a tyrant in the house, you know it, because he (or she) laughs in your face if you ask for improvements. That's called earning "ill will" and is less directly talked about in Economics (seems too negative, who'd want that on the books?). If you've been a tyrant, then suddenly need help, the public many not be well disposed to honor your plight, given this elusive "ill will" line item.

So food banks, other charities, serve a truly bottom line related function. They're not just "overhead" for super-disposable extra extra income, but are more like a cost of doing business, same as politicians (easily modeled as additional charities in some business software, or as basket cases as is sometimes the case).

Respected sports figures also earn good will for their backers, including race car drivers. If you're a motor oil brand, but don't have a racing team, how do you plan to stay in the game? The public wants confirmation, through marketing and charitable giving, that you (a) still exist and (b) have a vision for the future (a plan).

Anyway, this is all pretty standard fare I'm guessing, not something you'd not know if studying at Harvard or one of those. But maybe you've not thought in these terms before, Economics being a somewhat unfamiliar subject, especially since Home Economics got stricken from the curriculum, probably the one most practical disciplines, key to wise budgeting, smart eating -- everything a "mindless consumer" is not supposed to know about ("the better to rip you off and leave you with nothing my dearies" -- monopolist talking).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Bear Booty

We test marketed selling one of these through Skype using the Paypal wire transfer feature, but I think someone in between ate the money, or maybe it went to dead letters?

This web form looks like the way to go. Great going Nirel.

Save the Bears

:: save the polar bears ::

Repeal Day!

Free Show
Today Portland celebrates an anniversary: the repeal of Prohibition. A tyrannical and puritanical subculture sought to impose its way of life on every free American, subverting the promises of our nation.

We're so glad their rule was brought to an end, may it never be repeated. Smart marketing by Dewar's.

I'll journal something in Facebook, where I keep company with my Quakers.

The Sooner the Better
Mom is getting ready for her southern migration. Tara is getting a new outfit for her debating team debut. Me: I definitely need a haircut. Bishops looked pretty full though, ended up at The Bagdad, chatting with Glenn.

Homeland Guantanamos : a fun game-like approach to a serious situation, thanks to Jim Morrissett for the link.

World Game 2.0
:: sharing on Facebook ::

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wanderers 2008.12.3

I made a special trip home to get my XO, as Buzz hadn't seen it. I gave a short lecture about G1G1, how these goofy Shrek-colored gizmos weren't for sale at Circuit City or like that, because MIT's goal was to come in from overseas, make this program of benefit to OLPC. Internally (domestic program), NCLB is more what we talk about. Bill and I went over the NCLB Polynomial in some detail on the whiteboard (battery dead, so no picture, anyway I've shared it before).

The discussion moved to GM, which does have some profit centers. We asked if those could be spun off to competent managements while letting the name GM itself enter the history books, as too retro and retarded to be worth trading under that particular brand name (would be my attitude, but that's just me, not a stockholder).

Patrick is talking about his psychometric research projects, in which I'm tangentially involved (one invoice so far). I'm rushing to learn JQuery, FLOT, Pyro, Django (already know SQL pretty well, though could use a refresher on the granting permissions piece, not used much in FoxPro), in an effort to break some old habits (like thinking this is the 1990s, scoff).

Some of this work might have spillover benefits for DemocracyLab, although at this point I think Scott Lewis is still well head of me, technically (my Google App Engine skills still suck at this point). In a friendly sandbox, people might score their own political writings with drag and drop icons, driving underyling changes in the DOM (browser front end). How OWL and DAML fit in I'm not sure, but the idea is to start graphing ontologies with more willing writers in a civilian setting.

We also talked about Quakers quite a bit, their ethics around treating people as peers, but without ignoring titles and roles (i.e. we're not blind to management's internal heuristics). I told my Dalai Lama story again (set in Cape Town).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Touring Facilities 2

Noting a Feature
The extension project has come a long way since our previous tour.

The new building is getting ready to open, and not a moment too soon.

The master plan includes more than just this particular building we toured.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Traffic Patterns

The day before Thanksgiving has a reputation for offering hellish traffic jams, including over airports, although my impression is airplanes stack less these days, than when I was a kid, have stronger controllers.

Anyway, our lot was I-5 going north out of Portland and it didn't look promising, already backed up on the Morrison Bridge on-ramp. So I avoided that lane and took a downtown route to the I-405 bridge to St. Helens, rejoining I-5 closer to Longview.

Then around Fort Lewis we got into a "parking lot" (quasi stationary traffic, just inching forward, stop and go). On the South Superhighway, so-called, behind Magallenes Village, such jam-ups would necessitate using the shoulders but North Americans accept strict policing and believe in sharing the road equally, although trucks rule (but pay for the privilege).

We got off to phone cousin Mary we might not make it for dinner -- turns out that particular voicemail got "routed" meaning the cell company servers took their sweet time brokering the message passing. This little town of DuPont (yes, as in dynamite) we got off at, near Fort Lewis, was doing a thriving fuel station business (along with a few surrounding business). I pulled into a parking spot to look at the map.

Woah, this computer just popped up with stretch exercise instructions, hold on a sec...

Anyway, praise Allah for maps (don't have a GPS in Razz, and besides, this might not've been the kind of mission it could handle so easily). Apparently I could rejoin in Tacoma via the town of Steilacoom, which turned out to be a sweet little town overlooking the water. Tara and I stopped for directions at a pleasant coffee shop and got instructions from the barista's mom, hanging out in the corner with her Apple.

The Steilacoom Tribal council also serves the Sastuck, Spanaway, Tlithlow and Segwallitchu groups, after an 1856 mix-up wherein the USA nation (illegal immigrants) forgot to supply the Steilacoom with a reserved area, forcing amalgamation with the Puyallup, Nisqually and Squaxin (some didn't go with that deal).

Once we'd rejoined the freeway, it was smooth sailing to Everett, skirting downtown Seattle by way of Bellvue (I-405 again). We arrived in time for a delightful Italian dinner at Luca's, the real deal. Cousin Mary and I split a bottle of red, a Sangiovese from Tuscany.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Catching Up Over Coffee

I'm at Fine Grind getting my morning buzz, today Derek telling me about Mythbuntu, which I didn't know about.

I spent the morning distancing myself from some of the things other Quakers are doing, living up to their reputation as "protestants" i.e. people who protest a lot.

Fortunately, Friends have a long history of networking more constructively, aren't just into tearing down. I'm pleased how it's going in Portland for example, lots of meetings about how to best assist the most needy, especially in the education sector.

My Saturday Academy work is starting to pay off, in terms of our public school teachers paying more attention, getting excited about their prospects in a world class high tech capital.

Derek and I talk home economics a lot, which is more about energy and metering than most people realize, given the subject got dropped for no good reason, from Portland Public Schools.

Call it something else if you like, but this intersection of food prep, energy budgeting, investing in durable goods, home edutainment, is what everyday living is all about. To cut that out of the schools was a terrible idea, wonder who thought of it.

Of course today, knowing about energy grids and programmable home entertainment devices, social networking software is part of what's to know. How're you gonna have that dinner party or planning meeting if you're not up on Facebook or Twitter or any of those?

Those are some of the skills Quakers might share, especially if generation Y, but others too if you're lucky enough to get into one of our schools.

My business model involves pumping it out there (useful curriculum stuff, lots of it open source), sometimes through coffee shops, directly to laptops.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Posting from my XO

I'm blogging from my OLPC XO this morning, starting early with staff. I can't believe Stallman was thinking of using this, as these keys are definitely not for big people -- but maybe with a USB keyboard?

Tara is doing well in school, per last night's parent teacher conferences, especially in chemistry, although we didn't get time to visit with each teacher. I mentioned to her geometry teacher something about adding V + F = E + 2 to state standards.

I have two meetings with Quakers on my plate for today, plus some chauffeuring. Razz may need a lube job in prep for points north, will run some diagnostics. I'm missing my Lanahan Dark Matter (a flextegrity prototype), last seen on the boat, which got me thinking of another possible Fine Grind Production, ran it by Jody this morning.

Sam, I'll be sending you some email.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Practicing with Friends

I joined Ron Marson, Mark Allyn and others for some shop talk this morning, John Wish clerking, regarding the new Faith & Practice, currently available in draft form from the Annual Session.

We adopted a worship-discussion format and plunged in to all manner of metaphysics, mainly centering around issues of inclusiveness versus exclusivity. "When are Quakers not Quaker enough?" those kinds of queries.

Speaking of Quakers, although Douglas C. Strain did a lot for our group, his middle name was Campbell and he was a Campbellite first and foremost, I think it's maybe safe to say, certainly it ran in the family to profess such allegiances.

The memorial service was very Scottish, ending with bag pipes.

Here's an excerpt from a longer recent posting to Quaker-P, me yakking up Doug's overlap with our local Friends:
Doug's Electroscientific Instruments, a Silicon Forest
original, later endowed the Multnomah Friends with
their meetinghouse in the late 1950s, which at that
time sheltered AFSC offices. ESI had inherited said
structure from the Jantzen Company, a swimwear
manufacturer you may have heard of ( ).

[ Fri Nov 21 19:43:26 PST 2008 ]
Regarding said memorial, although not as printed in the program, Don Wardwell delivered Impossible Dream, with no instrumental accompaniment, and did splendidly I thought.

I enjoyed getting to see many friends at the reception, including Joyce Cresswell, Julian Vos-Andreae, Patrick Barton, Terry Bristol and Jim Buxton.

Glenn Stockton had never been to Forest Grove before and was happy to repair to Grand Lodge, joined by Jim and myself, for an ongoing celebration of Doug's friendship and good times with us in the Pauling House.

Some history I hadn't known: after ESI burned to the ground on Macadam, Portland rallied to assist, with Tektronix donating its older workbenches, then warehoused, such that ESI could get its Stark Street property back in the game for awhile, as yet unspoken for (not sold yet), along with other small sites all over town.

So the Quakers must have gotten the building after ESI had a second crack at it, getting back up to speed after an event most small businesses would not have survived.

I really enjoy exploring my Portland neighborhood's heritage, the Hawthorne district having been the birth place of Tektronix itself.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Excellent Adventure

In a stroke of genius, Tara and I both realized it'd make sense to skip school today, in favor of an excursion to Oregon State to visit the Linus & Ava Helen Pauling special collection and Doug Strain reading room, where scholars sit reading these papers, including all manner of private correspondence, although much of it's stashed on the web.

This field trip came about as a result of Linda Richard's presentation to Wanderers at the boyhood home of Linus Pauling on Hawthorne, another facility that owes a lot to Doug Strain, a student of Linus Pauling's at Caltech, Terry having put his ISEPP muscle behind keeping that urban mini-campus going, with Doug's backing and blessings.

Tara, Jeff and I didn't stay for Linda's talk at 4 pm, connecting the dots in the anti-nuclearism movement through the lives of five women and entitled One Woman's Collage of Nuclear Science History: Dorothy Day, Ava Helen Pauling, Dr. Alice Stewart, Rachel Carson and Winona LaDuke.

We're hoping she gives this talk again, or one like it, at the Pauling House sometime, plus she shared some big pieces of it over lunch. I'm so glad Tara got to be a part of all this. Mom would have loved it too, but she's in Geneva on WILPF business.

The archives includes Dr. Oppenheimer's mineral collection, correspondence with Dr. Einstein, the buffalo chaps Linus wore as a small boy, academic regalia. Very impressive. Cliff Mead, chief of special collections, runs a tight ship I can tell you.

When Dr. Pauling finally gave OSU the green light to inherit his papers in the 1980s, after a bruising episode in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War hysteria, Cliff showed up with a huge Mayflower moving truck, which was stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey by the time it was full. That made it very heavy, to where an axle snapped right there in the Paulings' Big Sur driveway, blocking access and egress for like two weeks.

Such was the auspicious beginning of what became a long and productive relationship, many more truckloads to follow (in terms of sheer volume). Tara got to hold a Nobel Prize, one of the two being passed around in one of the exhibit chambers, and came home to watch A Beautiful Mind again, finds that Nash guy intriguing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wanderers 2008.11.19

Coffee Shops Network
We're yakking up my Coffee Shops Network idea, point of sale tied to fund raising, actually lifting the bottom line as people express their social responsibilities through eating, drinking, other procurements, takes a literate population, Portland a perfect test market.

The database phones home to vendors, other pollsters, opinion minders, not necessarily with customer aliases, anonymity protected. Patrick is here, adding reality checks.

However, if you have an ID for that shop (many do already: a cardboard box of business card like objects), you might code it for your favorite charities and causes, picking from a canned list perhaps -- lots of configurations, back offices letting you contract for setup, easy on ramp if you pass the right tests.

Given the ingredients are already culturally ingrained, it's not a patentable business model but who cares. Those working on implementation are already well ahead of those still storyboarding in their heads.

I announced the open source version as a potential project (aiming at 2012) at the Python 3 release party, as a Fine Grind Production. Bootstrapping development inside the various coffee shops is how we make dreams come true. Unilever a sponsor of LCD content? Thinking Liptons.

Note that it's up to the shop or bar to configure the eye candy, dedicate the fund raising thermometers or whatever, using their own control panel. Maybe a local synagogue is a beneficiary, and/or some neighborhood mosque, or even a Quaker meeting, i.e. we don't always need to target national charities or high profile causes. Coffee shops serve niche markets, needn't be cookie cutter clones of one another.

Coffee shops occur in the most amazing places, even on submarines. So what would those control panels look like?

Here in Portland, OMSI might offer canned video giving lots of information about Bull Run, Bonneville Power, the infrastructure Portland depends on. OMSI in turn needs its sponsors, perhaps BPA itself?

David DiNucci used the ISEPP projector and screen to show an older movie about Doug Strain, a philanthropist engineer who died this week. His memorial service will be held at Pacific University this Saturday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wendy and Lucy (movie review)

Michelle Williams delivers this hauntingly sad performance of a dear and weary girl amidst a desolate, bleak world. She becomes separated from her dog, her closest friend.

The camera is maybe not as interested as we are sometimes, adding to the loneliness of this vista.

The writer, present at the showing, along with a producer (director not present, but serving as a judge of NW Film Festival shorts) lives in the same area of North Portland in which much of this was filmed (as did my movie going companion), on a 19 day budget.

The Walgreens on Lombard, yep, that's the one. Other parts filmed in Astoria.

Trains belong in this film and are here aplenty, a real America, dangerous still, love her lots. My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all the talent behind this film, including the lead male (security guard), and Lucy (the dog) as herself.

The camera lingers past dog cages at the pound, Wendy's jail experience not dissimilar. We're aware of beautiful animals on both sides of these bars.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hot Off the Press

five variant rhombic triacontahedra...

...concentric around rhombic dodecahedron,
surrounded by enneacontrahedron...

...some facets removed

vZomes by Koski
screenshots by Urner

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sparking Investments

:: pointing man ::

Short of hard currency, which leaks away in exchange for all manner of goods and services, a volatile commodity, we have credits "good towards" various stations or jobs, sometimes designated by rank and/or title.

Resume credentials, or maybe on-the-job performance, count as the latter type of "currency" and come stamped with an identity, sometimes of a whole group or a team (think of some iconic brands that signify value).

A suburban family able to gain credits towards specific debts isn't earning hard currency exactly, yet might forestall foreclosure, with positive ripple effects, as many retirees count on some rate of return on their semi-antediluvian housing stock of diminishing appeal.

If Uncle Sam acquires the mortgage, then maybe it's by watching some of Uncle Sam's TV commercials that you get clued about that Internet-enabled computer, that training center downtown, other ways to punch one's ticket, as Uncle Sam gets us back on track with a jobs training program really worth all those taxes.

For example USA TV might start showing something more positively futuristic for North Americans to look forward to. Higher education is needed just to open those doors, really any ones worth opening. So let's get cracking. Infotainment is fun, with the media already a huge employer.

We humans won't allow ourselves to be herded or cowed, except against our wills, leading to standoffs and stagnation. Investors need to be eager about reaping tomorrow's harvest, seeding new businesses, not clutching at straws. Just "sitting pretty" may sometimes be the riskiest course, in the sense of least likely to succeed.

We're looking to advertise competing reality TV shows and to engage in recruiting, the same as the armed services have been doing. Uncle Sam wants you... to help with construction, rebuilding -- for college credit in many cases, even where there's some hard labor involved, heavy equipment. Building a railroad needn't be "menial" in the sense of "lower class" if done in the context of coursework.

Earn credits to stay home, or to study in coffee shops. Learn object oriented programming why not? Find a government program that'll subsidize your staying put, in exchange for climbing some virtual corporate ladder, advancing towards future dreams and goals, more opportunities to come.

Of course one imagines a thriving deregulated private sector providing these opportunities, independently of big government, but since when were private advertisers sponsoring positive futurism for civilians? OK, a few have been doing that.

When it comes to providing hope, Uncle Sam has a stronger mandate and charter, on balance, than many a privately operated "artificial person" (aka corporation).

This isn't to say Uncle Sam is entirely alone in offering a hopeful brand of realism, on the contrary, is another member of an elite minority, one of those with the courage to boldly go.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GeoSpatial Awareness

Thanks to the Internet and GIS/GPS, much of it open source, we now have the capability to boost the level of realism in our geospatial models (simulations).

Of course we're still hungry for more and better data, but at least we know the technology is not the bottleneck. Mostly, people just aren't in the habit of sharing, having been schooled in some anti liberal arts ethic I suppose, told to keep everything under wraps, by order of some long ago deceased great pirate (but his dutiful minions live on).

At least some universities are challenging the status quo, getting their materials out to the people who most need 'em in the field. Various UN agencies also provide some rich data streams.

Self Schooling

Children Self Schooling
"Self schooling" as opposed to "home schooling" involves putting oneself in learning mode in various contexts, be that in a classroom or out on an electric ATV someplace, trying to navigate.

A lot of self schooling goes on in coffee shops these days, with kids and adults alike staring into laptop screens, sometimes reading, sometimes meeting with peers.

Many customers for my curriculum brands partake of this civilian ambience, conducive to self study, a consequence of the Anti-Bucky Boycott and the "lost generation" of professors this entailed i.e. they won't teach you this stuff in your average university as it goes too much against their grain to admit its continuing relevance.

For example, to get information about our phi/sqrt(2) rhombic triacontahedron of tetravolume 7.5, you might need to have YouTube, which many high schools currently block, rather perversely, thanks to creepy administrators who project their own fantasies of what the Internet must be like -- wall-to-wall porn, the way they imagine it, babes in the woods that they be.

In terms of our Global University, it's easy to see these urban gathering points as the new student centers.

These watering holes are especially valuable to those between jobs, looking to access new training programs or absorb new skills right there on the laptop.

These oases also provide opportunities to get in on the latest buzz, full of chewy clues and cues as to what might be a good next step along whatever journey.

Having free Wifi
makes all the difference.

Ready to Roll

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Synergetics Promo

by cathlapootl
(volume one)

by cathlapootl
(volume two)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Re: K-Mods etc.

:: algebraic analysis ::
(click for larger view)

[ excerpt from Synergeo 44896, typo fixed ]

In review, starting with a Golden Cuboid of edges 1 x phi x 1/phi, we figure out what a module consisting of 1/6th that total volume would be, in tetravolumes, then scale appropriately to gain a rhombic triacontahedron of tetravolume 7.5. We confirm this scale or height is the same we'd get if going off Fuller's calcs for the T-mod height needed for a rhombic triacontahedron of volume 5.

Height = radius of rhombic triacontahedron i.e. from body center to any face center.

Koski proves by construction that his 7.5 rh triac and 6.0 rhombic dodeca have the intersecting meshes that they do, using his phi-scaled modules.

The interesting result here is the concentric hierarchy rhombic triacontahedron of volume 7.5 has a radius of phi/sqrt(2).

Another, related, discovery is the concentric hierarchy cube of volume 2, derived from the pentagonal dodecahedron inscribed as short face diagonals of the above 5.0 volumed rhombic triacontahedron.

In teaching this stuff we could go:

Tetra 1
Coupler 1
Cube 2
Duo Tet 3
Octa 4
Triaconta 5 (t-mods)
Triaconta 5+ (e-mods)
Rhdodeca 6
Triaconta 7.5 (k-mods)
Cubocta 20

t, e and k mods all have the same shape but different scales.

Followup: posting to math-teach @ Math Forum, Nov 29, 2008.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

IEEE Presentation

:: ieee presentation ::

My thanks to Jeffrey Drummond, our local IEEE vice president, for arranging this opportunity for me to present on Bucky Fuller's legacy, along with my own brand of futurism, on election night in the Armory, just before we all went down ("in") to the play.

Doug Tompos was in fine form and kindly came out to chat with us afterward.

Wanderers Glenn (happy birthday!) and Captain Wardwell performed perfectly as my "roadies" while Heather Burkhalter and company served up top notch logistical support around projecting and amplifying.

I was pleased Sam Lanahan could join us and participate in the Q&A, asking about "more with less" and so on. Keith Lofstrom, thank you for being there and sharing your geekish sense of humor.

We emerged into a jubilant Portland, definitely Obama country, and headed over to the Convention center to catch the tail end of some celebrations, indulge in some free cheese.

FYI here's some text from the invitation that went out to IEEE members:
R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe

Written and directed by D.W. Jacobs from the life, work and writings of R. Buckminster Fuller

Description of the Play:

"Everything you've learned in school as `obvious' becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe." - Buckminster Fuller

Does humanity have the chance to endure successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how? This is the question framed by Buckminster Fuller, the engineer, designer, poet, and philosopher who, among other things, was Mensa's second president and invented the geodesic dome. Join us for an unforgettable journey inside one of the most remarkable minds of the 20th century in a one-man show that blends videos, lectures, poetry and a healthy dash of humanist humor. A hero of the sustainability movement, Bucky framed many of the great ideas of his time and ours. This is your chance to get to know the man behind the world-saving mission.


IEEE Presentation:

How has the literature developed since the publication of Grunch of Giants in 1983 and what are likely outcomes and future directions of projects Fuller started over a lifetime of heavy lifting? With demonstrations and question & answer period.


Kirby Urner started exploring Fuller's work in earnest following his earning a BA in philosophy from Princeton University, while serving as a high school math teacher in Jersey City. He's served as a contributing editor for McGraw-Hill, Rockefeller Center, political activist for Project VOTE! in Washington DC, and computer programmer for myriad governmental and nonprofit organizations in Greater Portland. Working in cahoots with Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Fuller's lieutenant on a couple key books, he snagged the domain name and served as the Buckminster Fuller Institute's first web wrangler. His 'Synergetics on the Web' is one of the main stops for Bucky scholars to this day ( ). Kirby is an IEEE Member.
Dymaxion Clown
Dymaxion Clown

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Ed got some exotic snailmails from me over the years, some of which ended up back in my Portland archive, after he dispersed his Georgetown one, much of it going to Stanford University.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pacific Northwest Brands

Blogging from Flickr:

Our exports include imported coffee blends, various salmons, cheeses, and wines.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

More Adult Education

from Whitney exhibit, kinda hypertoony

trailer for play, Portland Center Stage

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

I started my day in a local geek hangout, chatting up the proposed Bridges conference with one of the neighbors, a good segue to Derek Bridges, also studying his screen, and talking about the Tillamook Air Museum, a former blimp garage, and in serious need of repairs.

David Koski kept sending me vZomes, consequent to the research he's doing around remainder tet, Q module, and unresolvable tet, three definite shapes with exquisite relationships. Scott Vorthmann's vZome runs on Ubuntu no problem, being a cross-platform Java application.

Somewhere in the middle of my day, Razz and I took Mr. Fabik on MLK to some cross street, thence along N Willamette Blvd almost to St. John's, listening first to Ridin' Dirty, then to White and Nerdy by Weird Al.

I ended my day helping with with closing at Jody's shop, then worked on reclaiming some meditation space in the back, making good progress, honoring family.

I've really enjoyed my October this year, feel a lot stronger than this same time last year, thank the people in my life for being such good support. I welcome these friendships.

Behind the Counter

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LCD Content

by D. Koski & Co.

If the yellows are defined as giving our old friend the rhombic dodecahedron of volume six, per the Synergetics design, then the reds define a rhombic triacontahedron of volume seven and one half, which makes sense, given it's closer to spherical (more encompassing).

MVP David Koski is the geometer behind these vZome constructions, which stem from his lengthy foray into Phi-based geometries, with a focus on the T-module in particular.

Fuller's T-module is 1/120th of a smaller rhombic triacontahedron of volume five, its long and short diagonals defining an icosahedron and pentagonal dodecahedron respectively.

A pentagram in each face of said dodecahedron defines the "five cubes" most geometers know about, these cubes all having a volume of two, relative to the unit-volume four ball tetrahedron used to anchor the synergetics concentric hierarchy.

Speaking of geometry and architecture, my thanks to Nirel for alerting me to the Carriage House operation by Opus & Company, now taking place in downtown Portland. She was lucky enough to get video of the actual move down the street on Holland brand dollies, to this new site on the corner of Broadway and Jefferson, sitting atop four underground stories, recently completed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wanderers 2008.10.28

:: angel of the west enroute to Florida ::
by Julian Voss Andreae
Dr. George Weissmann is giving his second presentation to Wanderers, approximately one year after his first. I'm on standby to chauffeur Carol, arriving in PDX from Boston this evening. We're not taping this event, per usual, so I'm reconciled to missing a big part of this, already going great. This guy is very experienced and I enjoy his company. Plus Julian is here, and I'm a true fan of his too.

What I'm thinking about is my communications with mathematicians regarding the word "emotion", which hard science gave up on, consigning to psychology as a witch doctor science (cool!). But think of some natural philosopher coining the word "e-motion" (kind of like "e-mail"), really intending to do some coherent theory around it, in her day a scientist, the word not having been coined. Is turning one's back at all helpful?

Synergetics doesn't turn its back on psychology, which explains Applewhite's engagement, relates in terms of a Phase Rule (Willard Gibbs a source). I won't go into the details here, but rest assured that we're talking about a work in the humanities here, which explains why physicists hit a brick wall in some ways (not that it's really that solid).

The topic tonight is paradigms, how they're felt, not just "believed" (in some purely intellectual sense). This would be consistent with tantric practice, which invites at that level, doesn't try to stay "aloof" in the western sense of "objective". Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript a relevant sutra in this connection.

Later: OK, so I got the call to high tail it out to PDX, only to be pulled over by one of Portland's finest (motorcycle cop). Nothing like red and blue in the mirror to shift one's paradigm, turned right on 39th without stopping, OK I deserved the citation ($242 base fine a shock).

Mom home safely. I'm back at Pauling House, remembered to bring the donuts this time. Folks still getting into it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Night Thoughts

to the Math Forum
(click for larger view)

Maybe check this related post from January, 2007 (also mentions Big Bird), and this one too, from March, 2006.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Meandering About Town

Per yesterday's Photostream, water under the bridge, mom went shopping for a new Congress Coaster (what I call 'em in her case, given her lifestyle) at Shamrock Medical, a four wheeled device for stabilizing perambulation, and for breaking on airplanes (the basket is especially problematic). She likes Nova brand especially, was coming off Enterprise.

Burgerville is strategically positioned directly across from Cleveland High, but with a burger and fries over six bucks a basket, there aren't the lunch time crowds you might think.

As a guy who works around cardiologists a lot, I have the counter-intuitive attitude that cheap burger is not a national treasure, just the opposite, so far be it from me to rail against that $200 deluxe Wendy's or whatever that was (some fundraiser in London, important enough to make it to CBS News that time).

Next stop: Lloyd Center, where mom and I both got new glasses from Lenscrafters yesterday, except she had a lens popping out, needed to get that dealt with.

In the meantime, Tara and I visited the orthodontist, coming up on Halloween again, but no costumes this time (it's still a little early). The guy at the counter in front of me had so many drive-me-crazy mannerisms that I had to keep taking walks down the hall, told Tara that if I were that guy's wife (he mentioned having one, many times), I'd shoot myself every morning.

More meandering occurred, both before and after the above episodes, and even in between. Life is like a river and so on, other cliches apply (a cliche was a phrase set in type by the printer and never disassociated back into the font buckets, as they got used so often it was cheaper to just permanently stock the phrases, as in "have a nice day" (today one might "define a macro" -- if people still use those any more)).