Saturday, September 24, 2011



This has got to be the busiest day of the year at Lucky Lab. They're lined up at the beer and food counters, the place thick with dogs. Booths all around, a band. Somewhat heretically (in the manner of a heretic, ala Satanic Verses), I didn't bring my dog, Sarah Angel. We did have some quality time this morning though, complete with a belly rub and prolonged looking out the window together, watching the world.

Yesterday was officially the equinox. Neolithic Math teacher Glenn Stockton delivered one of the best talks yet, about the 26,000 year precessional cycle, about all manner of astral phenomenon, as mapped into cosmic stories. A cryptographer by training and predilection, Glenn is a master of putting 1 and 1 together and getting 4 (an allusion to Bucky there).

My day was action packed, as I chronicled on the FNB list (archive access requires subscription). We're enjoying a last blast of summer weather in Portland, and you can't beat the combination of exercise and community service. Even though hectic, this had all the marks of a good day. Praise Allah for Ali, who showed up out of the blue to make the food happen.

The line at Lucky Lab has gotten longer. I'm in route to a Python meetup where we'll be showing some of our Pycon talk proposals. Mine is about Pythonic Andragogy (an old meme with me), recast to include new developments. I'm at the top of my game on the Virtual Nations bit (see "micronations" in Wikipedia). Pythonia. Steve Holden's Mighty Python Empire. These come to mind as motifs, right next to the Programming Republic of Perl.

The talk has some Wittgenstein in it. The border zone between Philosophy and Ethnography provides plenty of grist for the mill.

Tara got through one of those rites of passage this week. We timed it to happen over lunch and free period: a visit to the DMV, to get in the database with a learner's permit. She succeeded, with literally not a minute to spare.

I've been wearing this Cuffka around, market testing. With my cutoffs and veg trailer, I must have looked quite the site. Mid-life crisis on steroids? Nah, Portland is just weird. I fit right in. I showed it to Melody who makes body wear out of bike tubing. Lindsey has sewed together her new Fall outfit, deliberately tattered yet fashionable. Many models would die for her scarecrow-ish figure. I'm surrounded by talented women (and a few good men).

Speaking of talented women, I'm feeling for Gin, down on her luck lately; another FNBer, waylaid by a bike accident in route to the church yesterday, after having her pack stolen.

Sarah Angel has been a real sweetheart of a dog, as mom and I were both remarking this morning. She bares her teeth and barks at strangers, but then she's billed as a "security dog" so those qualities are redeemed.

Oversight Meeting happened in there too. Something told me I couldn't just hang out with the guys and Lindsey at the local watering hole. Sure enough, we had scheduled a meeting on a Thursday night (most unusual), in hopes of attracting more of our committee. With no assistant clerk, I'd say we're in disarray.

We talked about "membership" quite a lot. For an attender, I'm mighty active these days, but then that's been a pattern, as many Friends have been led by the Spirit to opt out of older language games, and to co-invent some newer ones.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

DjangoCon 2011

:: a tribe gathers ... ::

I'm still sorting through impressions.

The conversation at dinner was reminiscent of a Pycon, almost a case of deja vu. So where are the universities in all this? These little companies are learning institutions, little space capsules, genius astronauts / cosmonauts.

Getting GeoDjango up and running: might you come to DjangoCon with the expectation of getting help with that? What if a school had a booth, performed install mitzvahs.

We talked about the advisability of outsourcing the core code pile versus eating one's own dogfood. Rather than change existing schools, I advocate designing new ones from scratch that are "written from within". Model by showing, not by being cantankerous.

The keynote this morning was all about negotiation skills. Geeks, or proto-geeks (nerds) tend to take an "I'm right" position thinking that's the extent of the skill set needed. The "dirty truth" is people get promoted based on people skills. Yes, excluding from a clique is essential to survival as an ethnic identity sometimes, it's the price one pays. Including is likewise the name of the game. Recruiting happens.

I lumbered to the microphone for a question, revealing I teach TDD (test driven development) among other things, which the speaker had dismissed as unreal (true, it's more a philosophy). Shouldn't library modules come with self diagnostics at least? She agreed, in the case of libraries. Her models were more one-off websites. Keep the testing code separable from the production code, for many reasons (and that's mostly what we teach).

I wore my black Princeton T-shirt some of the time (Going Back -- it's my 2005 25th reunion T-shirt), giving the alma mater some presence. Why don't schools differentiate around the internal social networking software they evolve (and open source some of) in-house?

Should universities be centers of innovation, with school spirit manifest in the core admin?

This would mean crossing faculty with IT a lot more.

Yes, students come and go: all the more reason to put lifers in a supervisory role (with paid time for patching code).

Perhaps new kinds of school will do this. I'm not saying the old guard will be able to change fast enough to keep pace.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Quaker Doings

:: clerk of the meeting ::

I'm exercising my privilege as a key holder today, arriving at the meetinghouse during clerk office hours and dragging Skyblue into the social hall, parking her unobtrusively in the corner.

After Rick wrapped up his duties he ambled over and opted in on a photo op. We're commemorating about one year of active collaboration with Food Not Bombs.

About a year ago, I took an outdoor picture with then clerk Betsey Kenworthy, just yesterday returned from Managua as a part of our meeting away team.

When I say "our meeting" I'm speaking loosely as technically I joined the Bridge City Worship Group and helped shepherd it to monthly meeting status. Then, having only attender status in both meetings (by choice of new Quaker nomenclature), I continued most of my activities with Multnomah, given it's within easy walking distance and I was practicing strict ascetics where peak oil was concerned.

I continue to drive way less than had been my habit, even though I work as a chauffeur in various capacities (per my Director of Open Source application to Reed College).

Since Rick's background is journalism, Columbia University and so on (reminds me of my friend the Keunsel editor in Thimphu), I thought he'd enjoy a brief human interest story from FnB and recounted about my losing David's expensive knife set overboard, off the back of my bicycle.

Rick expressed surprise the replacement price tag was under $200 (I have the boxes here today). There's something to be said for shopping eBay, and knowing exactly what you want (going mainly by price as an indication of quality: not necessarily a good idea). He took my picture as well.

Speaking of pricing, one of the sad stories from Managua involves this co-op for ladies who had bet the farm, their life savings, and gone into debt, to purchase cotton milling equipment. They'd already built the factory building to take delivery, but the equipment that showed up was definitely not the equipment they had selected, inspected and trained on. What they got was junk. Some swindler from Venezuela they say.

But that story pales next to what's happening in Honduras.

Business meeting approved my experiment post facto, after we had some data points to go by (we tested cooking a couple times). Our equipment is not as robust as what they've got in many churches. However, for the vegan style FnB uses, it's quite adequate. We're not deep fat fryers.

Those early Vegans Not Pigs episodes, with optional meat entres from Emily, including cat fish, were more of a Duke's Landing co-production.

I was to report back to business meeting within a year. I might be using a URI to this write-up in committee emails shortly, as well as on Facebook, where I manage some of my Quaker stuff.