Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wanderers 2011.06.29

Walking My Talk
:: Wanderers Talk, June 29, 2011 ::

Accelerating acceleration is evident, as usual, tip of the hat to Toffler. "The roller coaster is normal" seems a lot like Bucky's "rest speed is top speed". Bob McGown was there today, even gave me a check in appreciation. He appreciates the significance of the polyhedronists, of tensegrity, even of flextegrity (Sam joined us, and spoke at length after my talk).

Yes, this was my time in the sun, to focus on Minneapolis and environs. We had a 27 year veteran of that country, Connie Wynn, raised on the East Coast, who came to reflect on life in this great city, or Twin Cities as it's called, Minneapolis / St. Paul.

My presentation was non-linear, but pretty tight, as I'd hand-drawn two road maps on 8.5 x 11. I will photograph and upload these if they still exist. I wanted to weave a story and a fairly abstruse one, as befitting the topic: my visit to St. John's Abbey and University to visit with Father Magnus Wenninger and to contribute to the pool of shared video in appreciation of this marvelous man (not to mention an interesting busy campus). MVP David Koski was the producer and organizer of this event.

I brought along Barrel Tower, my Kenneth Snelson original. This got discussed and passed around quite a bit. Another name that get coming up: Popko. His book Geodesics had been a subject of discussion yesterday, in my meeting with Trevor and Tim. Tim actually came to this talk at Linus Pauling House, on really short notice. I was impressed, as we'd only just met.

Dondi, good friend of Trisha, also managed to make it, having sampled the retreat (the one I missed while in Minnesota). Don skipped the lunch a few of us attended, eager to move his boat from the usual moorings to the Blues Festival venue.

I pretended this was a road trip even though I was just blocks from my house. I lugged my own sound system and projector, as well as a big chunk of Flextegrity (without pre-arrangement). As a road show, I imagine myself as a part of an "away team" more than as some solo standup (I mostly sat, controlling the laptop).

The video and slides went over well I thought.

I played up the interesting features of campus architecture, including the Foucault Pendulum in the science building. Bob McGown said something about it taking 33 hours to go around at this latitude. David Tver chimed in about vibrational fields in the Sun, independent of its swift period of rotation. The Sun, unlike Jupiter, unlike Earth, is not oblate and there's a reason for that.

Anna of Thunderbird Charter, still influential as a drawing board construct (Alaska), is making her way from Seattle for another meetup, having just attended the Charter Schools Conference in Atlanta. She's another Internet collaborator (in the sense of fellow traveler) who found me through math-teach, a Forum I frequent. We tend to take a more open ended futuristic position vis-a-vis our more conservative posters, though I have to admit that's a gross oversimplification of all that goes on in those sometimes tempestuously snappy threads.

During lunch (Steve Mastin, David DiNucci, Glenn Stockton and myself), I was eyeballing the CNN screen, showing embedded camera action amidst the kinetic warfare in the human terrain systems, showing ongoing riots in Greece (thinking of Nirel's report), in Egypt. David shared the story of his brother, maker of famous DiNucci bike frames, and of his sister, one-time winner of top-level Jeopardy and a significant sum. A talented family.

Afterwards, I joined Glenn for some archaeological studies thanks again to our neighborhood Dollar Scholar. The Etruscan ink well, etched with the Phoenician alphabet, was an especially good find. Glenn regaled me with stories (as Dawn would say) of the relatively high status of Etruscan women, meaning they were allowed to carouse with the guys and weren't expected to only go outside wearing sacks (from whence derives Saks Fifth Avenue, just kidding of course).

Steve Holden was telling me that Ann Sang Su Kyi was giving the BBC Reith Lecture this year. I need to check into that next, after captioning more Photostream. I shot a few from the head of the table, where I was positioned as speaker.

I walked back to Pauling House after hauling my stuff home in the company car (just a few blocks). First though, I got involved in a car chase, nothing over the speed limit. Accelerating acceleration.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Solstice Wanderers

The balance of our evening was devoted to learning from Allen Taylor about The Mad Scientist, a work in progress by his talented sons, and still raising funds. This kickstart site is pretty interesting.

This is the prequel to their Evil Cult, which I saw in a movie theater in downtown Portland years ago.

Craigmore Creations has done a splendid job redecorating the interior of the Linus Pauling House. Any signs of ISEPP are now gone or more subtle. Julian's sculpture is still outside.

I'm glad I still have the Photostream set, preserving a bygone era.

I'm at OS Bridge at the moment, official nametag and everything, in my usual role of "geek about town" (no cane or top hat this time, trying to shed any lingering Mr. Toad imagery for more Pythonic fashions).

The talk I attended today was all about making maps, lots of influence from Tufte. Yes, back to the ESRI world, with a strong plug for GeoDjango, even though the speaker was more of the Rubyesque persuasion.

Cartographers use different standardized spherioids, with a datum to anchor them. Geodetics help align the data as well. This is all the omnitriangulating Fuller was talking about in Critical Path, still ongoing. I grabbed a DVD on my way out the door, after asking about open source licensing.

The math of geodesy could easily plow a digital math track right back through K-12. The "tentacles" would emanate from this geekdom of "world masters" (those who've done a lot of homework on themselves). Sounds romantic. Octopus's Garden.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Visiting a Geometer Priest

Visiting Magnus Wenninger
:: visiting Father Magnus Wenninger ::

David Koski had visited Magnus before, as St. John's Abbey is only about 1.5 hours from Minneapolis where he lives and, in our little world of polyhedrons, he's a super star. He wanted me to share this experience and graciously hosted my visit to Minneapolis so I might do so.

David was especially concerned that Father Wenninger's life was not well-documented enough and wanted us to explore making a documentary of some kind. As it turned out, at least one short biographical DVD has been produced. He's also one of the most cited authors in polyhedral geometry books.

Magnus received us in the Great Hall, formerly the main church on this campus, before an architect named Breuer changed everything.

Magnus has been connected to this place since his young adulthood and perhaps even his teen years, having trained here for the priesthood from a young age. His mother had suggested he become a priest, and he was ordained in the 1940s.

He later went to Canada for more training in mathematics (as it turned out) and then to Columbia University for a masters in mathematics teaching. He was assigned to the Bahamas by his abbot and spent many years in the monastery and high school there. He later returned to St. John's and has been there ever since. He is now 91 years old.

Magnus took us to his quarters. He navigates stairs rather easily. We got a campus tour, taking in the library, which is due to expand, and seeing the patch of grass where perhaps, if sufficient funds are raised, a bronze version of Order in Chaos, one of his sculptures, will be rendered in an 11 foot high version. It's made from multiple copies of three pieces. We visited the brass version (smaller) in the monastery recreation room, down the hall from the cafeteria (where we ate lunch together).

Another high point was touring the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, which is exhibiting a newly completed St. John's Bible, hand lettered and illustrated by a creative team headed by Donald Jackson.

St. Joseph University and Abbey is quite a headquarters, in a beautiful setting overlooking some lakes.

Father Magnus is cheerful and is relaxed about sharing about his spiritual leadings, thoughts on divinity, on life, on death, on life after death. We joined him for the mid day worship service, where a congregation of visitors and monks went through a programmed liturgy. I sat next to Father Wenninger who guided me in which hymnals and prayer books to pull out, and how to use them properly.

A high point for David was finding a certain pattern of triangles tiled into the floor of the science building that is used to generate the 59 stellations of the icosahedron. He had just been using that pattern the night before to show me how he quickly develops stellates in vZome. Finding it on the floor, with Magnus our guide, felt very "Da Vinci Code".

A highpoint for me was looking at the book called Divided Spheres, as yet unpublished, but ready to be. The bibliography is extensive and I was able to find my name in it. My friend Kenneth Snelson wrote a blurb on the back. The tome also talks quite a bit about Waterman polyhedrons, which I named for Steve Waterman, their conceiver.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Captain's Log...

I'm here at the meetinghouse with two of the striking women of Food Not Bombs, Lindsey still on the way.

The trick is to not get tricked into taking trash, yet it's a fine line and sometimes it's OK to err on the side of caution. The Village Building Convergence was a source this week. The board is always lighting up.

"Just in time" inventory means no, we don't want a truck load of Dave's Killer Bread (which we all like), but we'd love it if one of our cyclists (say Cedar) made it her mission to routinely share some excess already given to charity (not every NGO can use everything it gets and swapping around may sound like "socialism" but it's what Americans do at swap meets of all shapes and sizes). "Just bring it to the park" is what I posted to the archives.

I see FNB / Orlando is having trouble. I'd think all those NASA engineers working for the Mouse would be more like us here in Intel country. Optimization of excess food streams is a diabolically difficult problem, city-centric and endemic. To have the elemental solutions, with people willing to pony up and volunteer, is what any healthy city would encourage I'd think. We sure do in Portland. I'm glad Fallon is coming back to Portlandia (she did some of the videography regarding our ethnicity for a college project, before moving to Mexico).

What's somewhat amazing to me is PSU's systems science department doesn't do more with such ethnography. Maybe absorption into the Urban Studies department, School of Government, will bring more focus to the systems aspect of architecture. It's all about resource flows and optimization, time as well as energy.

Ozymandius was Here

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Techno-Invective Reloaded

EJA saddled me with inventor status versus this "art form" as he called it, which is similar to what Quakers call ranting, but about highly esoteric subjects in rather technical ways. You can call it polemics, but then the content tends to be rather dry. Imagine a shouting match between engineers over SQL schemas, or a steamy sex scene: either way, the "EQ" seems out of proportion to the "IQ" (or something like that).

Rather than practice literary criticism on my own art, frowned upon in some circles as "self indulgent", let me conclude by linking to another recent example. This stuff is highly polished, a result of working in a domain, hammering away. Role models might be underground comics writers, some of the shock jocks, and certain comedians when it comes to doing it live. Tends to be somewhat funny in other words. Sounding off about nothing, but in ways that may leave an impression. Others will be less charitable I'm sure.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fuller Schoolers

Two of our celebrities, as featured in our growing archive of free on-line courseware (Global U).

Victor (above) is one of the main videographers in our tribe.

Joe Clinton has been a stalwart and irrepressible explorer, collaborating with many individuals.

Amy isn't talking about Synergetics here, but gives a sense of what she's like.