Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Xmas 2013

Christmas 2013
click through to album

As some friends and family already know, our family syncs winter celebrations with Hanukkah at Laurie's and, for the last nine or so years, the Wanderers solstice party.  The Hunukkah date is at the families' convenience, which this year meant December 21st, Saturday.

Christmas itself is a day to kick back and play with toys, me reminiscing with Dr. Kent (whom I met at the London Knowledge Lab) about ISETL (a didactic gizmo) on Math Future, before ascending Mt. Tabor (sounds impressive but it's just a bump).

Tara is catching up on Hitchcock films this season and I re-watched most of The Birds.  I thought I'd seen Vertigo but watching it today left me wondering:  is my memory really that bad?  Yes, probably.  Now that I've read the murder mystery around Mary Meyer (friend for Jack Kennedy, former wife of Cord Meyer), with its beckoned witness, its patsy, its assassin, I have more ways to remember.

Alexia, being service sector, like me in some ways, is working today.  We get our hours off other times sometimes.  I'm actually not doing anything except to enjoy the time off.  Most of Portland is doing the same, with most businesses closed, streets thinly trafficked.  Safeway was open though, meaning I could resupply with bay leaves, an onion, detergent and other sundries.  Some ciders.

We're looking after two additional non-humans these days, a poodle and an unseen cat.  The cat is somewhat theoretical, but I swing by its outdoor encampment and refill its bowl from time to time, with no visual proof that another animal isn't doing the munching.

The poodle belongs to Alexia, Dawn's daughter by her dad Tom.  I was not a custodial parent if that's what "step" means in the eyes of the law, though she did come and live with us from about age sixteen until college (starting at Willamette U., one of Oregon's best).  Then she married into the US Army and moved to Clarksville, TN.  She came back after a subsequent marriage.  She lived here (Blue House) this summer in fact, in Tara's room, before moving to current digs.

Lindsey has been picking up more Buddhist practices (not surprising in this zip code) and weaving a wreath for her girlfriend Melody.  Tara and I plan to drop by Melody's later. then hang out with Alexia.  I'm baking Teresina Lentils for the occasion, as I sip ciders, blog, and upload to Photostream.

Carol, my mom, is with my sister in Whittier, CA.  She's been discovering more relatives on her side of the family, meaning Goldens.  Goldens and Urners have likely overlapped before according to Grandma Margie Reilley's research.

I ate at Fujin on Tuesday, wanting to have a last cold sesame noodles and crispy eggplant (brought some home) before they close at the end of this year, lease not renewed by their speculating landlord.  Fujin has been an institution on Hawthorne since before my own scenario began here, in the early 1990s.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (movie review)

My daughter was the prime instigator in our seeing this one, at Living Room Theaters, not far from Powell's downtown.

Chomsky and I are contemporaries, though we've not met in person.  I've got him linked into my writings on the web in a suitable context, given where AFSC was politically.

There's lots I don't know about his philosophy or world view, and this animation, kind of like Khan Academy on steroids (not intended as a sleight to either), was quite informative, as well as fun.

I hadn't realized to what an extent he's an anti-representationalist, like Rorty, which makes him very on board with Wittgenstein.  The generative grammar phenomenon is true to life:  a small enough rule set snowballs into a seeming infinity of permitted possibilities, like the game of chess (so many games, a tree).

That the animator is also working in his second language, French being his first, provides some of the humor, and other pathos.  And it's relevant because communication is after all the topic.

This is one of those films to be quoted as we develop our ability to quote films more seamlessly within our writings and other films.  A resource.  In the sense that a book is a resource.  Because the man is right there and it's an interview, you get a lot of autobiography.  Michel Gondry did not waste Chomsky's time, given this little gift of a film.  I don't think Ali G. (Sacha Beron Cohen) wasted his time either -- that was only a short exercise.

Chomsky stresses the importance of the concept of "continuity" in "identity".  Subjectively, we're more like getting film clips and assembling them mentally.  The salt shaker is seen in many shots and is assumed to be a persistent object.  

Our systems break down in the face of too much unaccounted for swapping, i.e. if she's really her twin and this really isn't my laptop (I'm thinking of that time Patrick was flying to HQS and was already in his seat when we realized (with a little help from the police) that he had the wrong computer, due to a mix up at security...), then we realize we have lost the thread of the narrative and our current reality unravels.   

He stresses how tenuous it all is, and how words coexists with discontinuity, a swiss cheese of possible holes.  Another way of saying it maybe:  cogitation itself provides much of the continuity.  Language is a glue, not a mirror.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Desolation of Smaug (movie review)

I've gotten over my initial prejudice and narrative, poking fun at how this blew up into three, with a lot of foot dragging by the original Lord of the Rings director, who had planned originally not to make any of them.  In fact, I'm not against lots more tellings of this story in various styles and am intrigued by what I've read of where other directors might have taken it.

I was in a sparsely attended Monday night audience for a 3DH performance, meaning the double frame rate, like last time.  I had the curious sensation that I was watching really good quality television, and my rational lobe tells me that's because TV is higher frame rate than the movie industry's 24, i.e. 24 < 30 < 48.

Although that sounds sensible (some people call their smart phone a "third lobe" -- or was that their tablet?) I'm no expert, and maybe MPEG obsoletes the whole notion of frame rate to some degree?  It's not like there's a raster beam, or is there?  The details have gotten murky, post CRT.  Companies are not as interested in junior having a clue.  Bruce Adams has shared that worry, that we're too closed with what we know, to the jeopardy of civilization itself.  It doesn't pay to be smug about everything you know.

Back to the movie:  I'm glad they got to play with the dragon that long, really stretch it out in those caverns.  Having the luxury of more time is like TV also.  They get whole seasons for character development.

I agree with Tara that the she-elf reminds of the Lost woman -- you're right Tara, she is.

I'm glad this is all shot and in the can as they say.  Really smart, all you people.  You get my High IQ award, which I've never given before and may never again.  I thought I invented DENSA (for recovering Mensaholics, but then Wikipedia doesn't even mention me).  Really epic you guys.  And fun.  I think I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Ongoing Logistics

We got it to the point in the Buddha Room where it looks like mudding all the walls would be better than trying to just mud one of them.  "To mud" is to add texture, making the wall more orange peel like.

The movie director turned landlord I sometimes write about is flying off to Germany and I just got some training to help with her cat while she's gone.  I'm not the primary care guy, more the supervisor who relays how it's going.  This is a stray.  The Humane Society reports no extra cats.  People are giving them homes.  I blame effective PR.

I missed Keith's visit to Red & Black, part of a tour.  Food Not Bombs (FNB) is a global NGO with a large following, and I'm locally one of the lynch pins, though in a back office sense, given my bicycle was stolen.  I used to haul vegetables, two trailers at a time, even with grey hair in my fifties, a way to stay fit.

However I've been engaged in follow-up archived correspondence, with Keith in the CC, regarding a Seattle Weekly article vaguely alleging FNB was an unwitting vector for botulism.  Or rather the allegation was potatoes wrapped in tin foil may sometimes be a vector, and FNB has been known to distribute potatoes in tin foil, QED, or at least sort of.  "Sloppy journalism" I called it.  Let me dig out a quote (from RiseUp):
I agree there are detractors of FNB out there, and smear campaigns, but I can't prove Seattle Weekly is working off one of those "programs".  Sloppy journalism is endemic in this culture.  The standards once upheld were all changed once entertainment in the format of news (Comedy Central, Fox News) could exempt itself from the standards of news journalism.  This has had an eroding effect on news reporting more generally.
The local FNB chapter is doing a "how to make vegan tamales" workshop this coming Sunday.

At Quakers today (Multnomah Meeting) we looked at slides of events in Washington, D.C.  We're seeing more collaboration between FCNL and AFSC than usual, which most take as a good sign.  I don't mind being a minority voice in many of the internal debates we Friends enjoy.  That reminds me, I need to renew my subscription to Western Friend.

Friday, December 06, 2013


But what does that mean in terms of getting my Buddha Room mudded?

High Performance Homes phoned me last night with a sudden opening in their schedule.  I'd been dilly dallying on the last bit:  more sheet rock bashing (gypsum wall substance) and insulating with "the pink stuff" (R-21, but sliced because no batting comes that narrow, about 10" between beam insides).

So I said "let's go for it" and swung into action, already four pizzas into it, child labor laws skirted (Patrick was passing on useful skills to his son, with Steve directing the 2nd time, given knee surgery, me staying out of the way).

I used one of those retractable razor things to slice batting, careful with your hands, like sheering sheep (which I've never done).  Then stuff it, paper down, between the beams, which in my case hold up a slightly sloping fenced deck area, where people can stand outside and scan the neighborhood, drinks in hand perhaps.

Bashing with a crowbar:  that's for removing the old sheet rock, which had to be done to rebuild a good percentage of the back office.  Then there's prying out the nails and getting the last remnants of gypsum from the cracks where the new gypsum will fit.  By "gypsum" I mean "sheet rock" as it's called, a favored interior surface material for these old wooden homes.

I call it the Buddha Room because of the Bhutanese tankha that hangs there (a likeness of the Buddha), and because of the joke I make about my home being a registered non-profit temple with this giant inflatable Buddha in the back, so if the IRS comes for an audit, I can throw a switch and have "instant temple" (the Buddha Room in action).

What's closer to the truth is that has been my office (Dawn Wicca and Associates -- she and I worked as a partnership), and as a self-employed person was entitled to claim some floorspace on my taxes, and to account this rebuild due to water damage as an expense to that office.

Presumably, the HPH team will arrive promptly at 9 AM, regardless of snow, and make the interior paintable in short order.  The guy on the phone said his team was experienced with "hot mud" meaning they wouldn't be using a lot of hours.  The cost is already fixed anyway so it's to their advantage to not squander time.  The same company built my deck railing, a wooden fence, which I am also quite happy with.

HPH just phoned again to say the snow is causing delays but the plan to start work today is still in place.