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