Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Equinox 2009

Today's festivities started with breakfast at Hawthorne Cafe, with David Feinstein (Caltech alum, student of Feynman's) joining Glenn, Don and myself.

Glenn talked entertainingly about his fun in the sun with NSA. You could actually check out camping equipment, REI style, from WDC HQS; not that unusual for a big company interested in keeping recruits, high morale -- sauna and gym also welcome.

I joked about neighboring agencies where you could also rent the family (for cover) along with the tent, whereas actually I've not rented much beyond a car in DC, just used the standard PX outlets (like Costco's) renting -- or buying -- inexpensive scuba equipment (dad and I were NAUI certified, tried to find manatees in Manatee County that time, but they were understandably shy).

Towards the conclusion of our breakfast meeting, I promised to show Lionel's powers of ten slides, Jerusalem centric, once back at the Pauling House, which I did.

Lionel has gone further than just zooming out and in space-wise, he also has an exponential time-wise scale relating the flap of a bee's wing to the duration (so far) of hominids aboard Spaceship Earth, based on either side of "one second" in terms of the exponents being negative (i.e. "shorter than") versus positive (i.e. "longer than").

Tara also joined us, from a birthday celebration, to meet with Shomar especially (David's familiar).

I did some more live demo of the RSA concept, taking the phrase "North Dakota people are Nodaks" and running that through mknum, raising to the 7th power modulo N, and then onward to the dth power, where 7*d is effectively the original message m to the 1st power, i.e. the plaintext. Here's what that looks like:

(click for larger view)
source code

Our three day retreat, 17th in our run, was attended by 22 Wanderers, including Tara (child) and Shomar (nonhuman). Glenn Stockton's adult children both zipped through, starting the chilis relleno on the back BBQ, adjourning to his place for an afternoon repast.

Micheal Sunanda phoned from Eugene, interested in reforestation and the BFI Challenge. I recommended he help co-found a Eugene branch of Wanderers (Tacoma, Arcata... Bellingham, why not?), as there's no reason to bottleneck all these interesting debates through the one venue in Portland. Dr. DiNucci returned and got a brief briefing on some of the above.

They've dispersed now, those Wanderers. I'm alone with my coffee and a bowl of cashews, still needing to fold up the screen, put away Terry's projector. My thanks to all, Don especially, for making it happen.