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)).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eye Exam

I'm sitting here with dilated pupils, having just undergone an eye exam, after a dog ate my glasses.

Having interviewed Lenscrafters staff, I now know that dogs eating eyeglasses is in no way an unusual occurrence, maybe six customers a week with that story in a busy mall outlet. Cats do it too.

While waiting for new glasses, I browsed books in Barnes & Noble, including one called The Failure Factory by Bill Gertz, about a lot of folks I don't know (amidst the usual suspects) being livid, angry, engaged in shouting matches etc., characteristically "B team" (self-indulgent) behaviors. The author seems especially pissed off by the 2007 NIE, which suggested that Iran's ayatollahs might not be hell bent on joining that losers' club of nuke heads.

Another book I've been browsing lately, likewise by a journalist interested in the intelligence community: Crazy by Pete Earley, a first person saga involving finding appropriate treatment for his mentally distressed son, while continuing to bump up against the criminal justice system.

These 50 year old eyes are pretty OK if somewhat misshapen. The optometrist discovered some unexplained vertical scarring in the back of my right one, heavily pigmented, perhaps congenital, and not interfering with vision (I passed the peripheral vision test with flying colors). One eye is still correctable to better than 20-20.

No colonoscopy yet; maybe I'll wait until 51 as a birthday present to myself.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Duck Typing

There's this idiomatic expression "walks like a duck" in turn a shortened form of saying "if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck..." the implication being, it must be a duck.

In strictly typed languages, like Java, an object with duck-like behaviors ("quack quack") that isn't really a duck, might get frisked, then stopped by security, before getting through a functional gateway. This is called compile time checking, and involves declaring what types are accepted, as a part of the logic. Animals masquerading as other animals are likely a result of confusion, goes the theory, so let the compiler help you, by pointing out the error of your ways.

A scripting language like Python, in contrast, is more about checking at runtime, vs. design time, and there's no compiler as such, more just a translator, which takes us from a VHLL (very high level language) down to bytecodes, e.g. CLR in .NET / Mono etc.

In this paradigm, it's fine for animals to mask as ducks, without really being ducks, because all the function cares about is duck behavior, so if you walk, talk and quack like a duck, you're welcome into the inner sanctum, even if under the hood you're a platypus or something like that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Play Preview

:: portland center stage ::

I played hooky vis-à-vis the televised presidential debate tonight (will catch up later), to attend a preview performance of R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe, this being some years since the last time I saw it, in Seattle.

I appreciated a lot of new aspects this time. For example, just when the monologue veers into bridging the humanities to the sciences, the actor breaks into an obvious dance, whereas hitherto his clock-like precision has been more machine world in tone, a cheerful "robot Bucky" looking back on a cruel world, recalling his urge to leave it and resolution to stay (a bodhisattva moment).

The choreography is tight, and a tribute to Allegra's influence, as she brought out this more exuberant dancer in her dad, new levels of performance.

Once past intermission, we get to the villains in our story, our Wall Street lawyers, somewhat Wolfram & Hart like, exporting jobs overseas while cannibalizing FDR's New Deal, Eisenhower their unwitting puppet.

Individuals have smarts, take initiative, while corporations are literally soulless, so maybe The Grunch will turn out to be less of a killer than we fear? The impossible does happen.

This script packs a lot in, stays quite true to source materials, giving audiences a fairly painless, quite enjoyable, comprehensive introduction to one of our great philanthropists, a doer and a thinker. The printed program comes with an interesting time line, worth a gander.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Remembering Dad

I'm having the kind of day I think my father would have been glad of my having.

We honored one another in life, were good scuba buddies, both took a lot of (not stupid) risks.

I didn't get to look over his shoulder a lot, not being an urban or regional planner by trade, but that didn't keep me from seeing the importance and relevance of the work that he did, for our family, community and world.

Someday maybe I'll regain access to a Hi-8 tape player (Sony camcorder broken) and get my video of Jack Urner transcribed and edited. Travels in South Africa and Lesotho were especially fun.

New iPod for Tara, new cell phone for Carol. Lots of candles.

Note to partners: I used a business Visa to buy this individual membership in GreenPeace Activist Network, accounting as owner draw, hope OK.

:: joined under bagdad marquee ::

Friday, October 10, 2008

Send in the Bears?

When I was a kid growing up, the stock market was under the mystical aegis of two astrological powers, the bulls and the bears.

The bulls, being bullish, were herd animal optimists, sure of their progress as an unstoppable force.

The bears, in contrast, enjoyed pulling the rug out from under, making pyramids tumble, especially the cheap Ponzi type ones, like you sometimes find among realtors, but really any business of sufficient complexity can be a haven for frauds.

This sounds like a naive question, but wouldn't there be less panic if we brought back the old imagery and made it all sound more intentional? It's like there're no bears anymore, only scared bulls, like lemmings on steroids.

Either that, or lets invent some new animals to help with the stock market. I get tired of bipolar arenas as economic models ("too Manichean" as Walter Kaufmann would put it), donkeys versus elephants included. They don't do justice to the underlying complexity -- which maybe explains why no one in power is using them much.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wanderers 2008.10.8

This was the night after the 2nd presidential debate, which I enjoyed at the Bagdad, Tara & Rose to my right, Trevor to my left, balcony situation. Of course we sat around doing some follow-up analysis, me talking up the backwards R (as in Toys R Us and/or DARPA), as a marketing gimmick, yes, but also as a sign of Respect (there's that R again).

[ source ]
If I'm "a buckaneer", then Buzz is maybe "an Apple devotee", as he likes those convergent "omni-devices", those grand unifications of phone, GPS/GIS device, camera, and web browser. I'm more of the utility belt school (if only they didn't look so dorky), have each device do one thing, and do it well (per GNU/UNIX).

On the other hand, it's fun to get lat/long burned in on a JPEG, maybe as XML, for world map placement.

That's another thing we talked about, this same Fuller Projection I hauled out to Mt. Hood Kiwanis this last weekend. Likewise Trevor's talk on 10-10 is about Bucky (Fuller).

We've been anticipating this season of buckaneer celebrations, having this new play to talk up.

Winter promises to be action packed this year, what with the election and all.

At lunch, I talked with Buzz about my work for the American Association of Physics Teachers, converting those ballerina moves into ray traced stick figures, taking data in Excel, outputting as AVIs on CD, with Python code in between (each teacher got one, that year in Sacramento, Dr. Urone steering).

Good seeing Nirel again. She's in the midst of a road trip, documenting it for her fans (me one of 'em, as are David and Shomar).

My friend Gordon has a new blog, Guido too.

OCN Branding

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Future of Friends

:: quarterly meeting ::

The Future of Friends was our theme this for this quarter's gathering of Friends from points along the Willamette Valley, the Oregon Coast, Columbia Gorge, Boise Valley in Idaho.

Although small in numbers, it's about quality more than quantity, and lots of magical switch boarding occurs. My first task, after locking my keys in the car at the campsite, was to phone AAA and get roadside assistance. The dispatcher sent a locksmith from Brightwood.

Our panelists and moderator Jane Snyder did a superb job I thought, of exploring our theme from various angles, with the younger voices talking up the Internet, older voices sharing more from their travels and encounters, with AFSC (Jeff Hunter) and Friends Peace Teams (Ann Dusseau).

Kathy Hyzy (a younger voice) certainly gets around though, in her capacity as Western Friend editor. Sarah Hoggat of George Fox College (the seminary), and blogger, told us of her spiritual voyage, winding up for now in the safe harbor of Peggy Parson's Freedom Friends Church in Salem, Oregon.

I spent much of my time chatting with Leonard, a former chef and abbot's assistant in some zen abbey in California, more recently a computer programmer, ardent student of Hellenic philosophers, of Spinoza, an admirer of Pierre Hadot and his Philosophy as a Way of Life. He's been getting to like Hume as a person, even if he disagrees with the philosophy. Of course I threw Bucky Fuller's Synergetics into the mix, and Wittgenstein's philo ("early or late?" he asked -- showing me he knew his stuff).

I also spent quite a bit of time with Children's Program, going on a nature walk, playing indoor games. It rained most of time, sometimes lightly, sometimes more torrentially.

Debbie, Pam, Jane, Diane and Gayle did a marvelous behind the scenes job I thought. We all did, judging from the informal feedback I'm getting.

Rocky Garrison did a great job of hosting community night, especially if you count his daughter Emily's considerable stage talents.

Sarah shared some tap dancing, her CD playing on my Ubuntu Dell through Derek's audio cables (on loan), through the Kiwanis Club's main hall's (quite adequate) sound system.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Claymation Station

Readers following my more esoteric threads through these blogs may recall Karl Menger, dimension theorist, and his proposed "geometry of lumps" in a famous anthology about Einstein's ideas.

In ToonTown we call that "claymation geometry" in that points, lines and planes are distinguished by ratios, not dimension number. Points are pointy, lines more like sticks, planes like rolled dough.

This is the naïve way we might think about it as children, until disabused of such "foolish notions" by dyed in the wool Euclideans, who want us to worship their "abstractions" (Euclidean points can't be seen by the naked eye, don't reflect photons or participate in the same world as photons).

But we're OK with saying cartoon worlds aren't "the real world" either (obviously). We just don't go out of our way to buy those same axioms, much as Bucky didn't in Synergetics, yet still managed to sound coherent to those of us taking the time to decipher his thinking.

In our "geometry of lumps" points, lines and planes (none of them infinite) are like computerized primitives, say in VPython or POV-Ray, and they're reminiscent of arrowheads in terms of the tetrahedron being the topologically simplest wireframe enclosure, setting off inside from outside, like clay does.

Followup to the veep debate: I thought both candidates really put their hearts into it and the questions were well aimed. I watched from a reclining position on the upper floor of Back Stage, scootched up against a pool table, looking almost vertically at the flatscreen TV. By the time Ron and I got to The Bagdad, the main theater was already packed, no newcomers allowed. Jody met us under the marquee.

Tara and Rose had front row seats, with pizza and everything.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Here's hope tonight's debate isn't such a disappointment to the world community.

The so-called "debate on foreign policy" was all about killing someone who may already be dead, with not a word of hope for Palestine or anyplace else. Just whiner wannabes on Wall Street, wallowing in self-pity over their popped real estate bubble, refusing to connect the dots and admit some connection between their zero credibility in the financial markets, and zero reputation for courage on the world stage these days.

These aren't investors or risk takers, by any stretch of the imagination. Just a lot of control freaks with ignorance their chief excuse (not!). Political pandering and farce is no substitute for real substance.