Thursday, July 23, 2020


I think literature teachers are possibly a little shocked how I:

(a) go for film on top of other texts and 
(b) weave through specific films

The film here is Citizen Kane, already in the film school Vaults of Parnassus, so what's the fuss there? The scenario (hike) is through the two DVD set, meaning the movie, and then the American Masters series on Hearst versus Welles, WGBH, Sloane Foundation. 

Why?  Two reasons right off the top:

(a) Welles is already important in our Martian Math sequence, for his scary performance of the Mars Attacks story, meaning War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (easy mnemonic there: Wells and Welles) 

(b)  WGBH American Masters also did Thinking Out Loud about Buckminster Fuller, around the same time, another high quality documentary.  We'll be watching them both, perhaps back to back, with some discussion of the documentary style.

The reasons don't stop there.  Here in Silverton, Oregon we have a lot of excellent history, and fellow Wanderer and historian Gus Frederick has curated a lot of it.

He's our local expert, I'd say world expert, on Homer Davenport, the powerful political cartoonist and Arabian horse enthusiast whose career intertwined with Hearst's on many levels.

In other words, I'm trying to branch out to pick up more and more history, such as the Spanish American War, such as the Anti Imperialist League (Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie...), such as the American war in the Philippines, not that many decades before the American war in Viet Nam....

Once we've studied Hearst as a model, we'll jump to other oligarchs.  I'm not the only curriculum architect able to connect the dots around here.

I just want to be sure to underline this section of the pipeline:  Welles on CBS doing War of the Worlds, and the whole arc of Orson's career, vis-a-vis that of his contemporaries.  He knew Hemingway...

Another puzzle piece:

In this placed based curriculum we study the Columbia Gorge for at least these reasons:

(a) geology since Missoula Flood
(b) the invention of scenic photography with the Gorge a target
(c) submerging Celilo Falls, and the civilizations that converged there
(d) Sam Hill's commitment to state of the art road building along the Gorge
(e) hydropower dams, grids, ecology (along the Gorge and elsewhere)
(f) Hanford and the Manhattan Project and the chronology of nuclear testing (including with human subjects)

That's a lot of reasons to take in the Columbia Gorge, and we're just getting started.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Having traveled around in South Africa some (not a lot, didn't get to Joburg at all), I'm going to say this:

(a) the racism picture is more complex there
(b) the solution space is further evolved there

I go back to this story:  feedback I got when in RSA, regarding earlier relations with Quaker AFSC, was that Americans were too quick to elder others, drawing on their own civil rights history as definitive and all encompassing, a source of lessons for others to learn from.  In other words:  Americans suffer from ethnocentrism.  I wouldn't step in as their lawyer at this point.  "English too" I'd pile on.

But then English, in having been a real empire, did grow up worldly, and to this day NPR turns over to BBC the more serious world news telling.  For night owls.  Nerds.  And English are one of the ethnicities in the RSA mix.  Like I said, more complex, more nuanced.

Yes, I'm a Die Antwoord fan. I met a new relative (extended family member) from there who expressed embarrassment over their antics.  I was in drop jawed awe over the brilliance of Chappie for example.

Seriously, when my parents were co-clerking a Yearly Meeting, prior to the accident, I got to sit in on some reminiscing and post mortems.  We weren't far from Maseru, the family headquarters. Dawn taught a labyrinth workshop.

Apartheid was in the rear view mirror already.  Mandela.  Bishop Tutu. Truth Process... So much water already under the bridge.  I visited the Quaker Peace Centre and met the Routledges. We were later guests in their home in Cape Town, when Madlala was Deputy Minister of Defense (an unusual position for a Quaker, somewhat Mithraic). This was during the 1999 Parliament of World Religions. Dawn also took in a transmission, from the Dalai Lama, in Durban.

What I learned from Hendrik W. van der Merwe especially was about the delicate cybernetics of it all.  As a mediator, like a ref, he'd literally swing his chair around to side more with the police officer, if the power dynamic suggested he should throw his weight in that direction.  I think "precession".

Friday, July 17, 2020

CareWheels: Retrospective


From my Facebook profile, today:


Thinking back to CareWheels and spin-offs. This was to be a home monitoring service whereby elders, seniors, I'd add unsupervised teens and children, any age really, with caveats (not infants), would stay in their homes but send off lots of signals just by moving around and doing stuff. It's not about spycams which no one has time to look at or space to store.

It's about medical cabinet open close, bathtub use, shower on/off etc.

Ron Braithwaite could tell you how Machine Learning informs a human staffed set of dashboards (humans working from home also, they monitor each other), with dispatch teams at the ready for both scheduled and unscheduled home visits.

Like if the pill dispenser isn't activated within a time frame, or the bathtub gets turned on but not off... or a stove burner. IoT. Protocol might be to call first, contact a signed up neighbor if no response, only escalating as makes sense.

You don't dispatch a team at the drop of a hat. Patients at especially high risk for some medical condition will presumably have sensors for that, e.g. blood pressure or whatever. It's up to you and your doctor what level of monitoring is indicated. Some people opt out of some options.

Machine Learning has only gotten better since this infrastructure was first envisioned.

Ron Braithwaite:

Yeah, CareWheels was a fantastic idea. In fact, it was one of the driving reasons why we were going to move to Canada.

Honeywell owned (owns) a bunch of patents in this area, which they have never done anything with (TTBOMK), so we thought we would make it happen in Vancouver, BC with the help of a couple of non-profits.

The basic idea was to use machine learning ( to determine when things usually happened and how long they would take, using simple sensors all over the place, wiring up an elder’s home to allow them to age in place.

I worked out a deal with Canada’s largest non-profits working with elders and another working with those who were disabled to provide a computer and modem on each end, targeting those who were primarily house-bound both as clients and as care providers.

When our machine learning algorithms detected something unusual, they would contact the assigned care provider, who would attempt to contact the client and, failing that, then contact designated family members, and (worst case) emergency services. In addition, the care provider was tasked with making contact with each of their assigned clients every day.

Just as an aside, did you know that 90% of all calls to emergency services by elders are for socialization? People get lonely living at home, so having someone - anyone - calling them daily takes a huge load off emergency services.

At any rate, the way it worked is that each sensor for each person had a specific typical time value associated with when the sensor detected activity. If the elder typically uses the restroom for 45 minutes at 9am, but doesn’t exit the restroom after 90 minutes, somebody needs to check up on them, just to make sure they haven’t slipped in the tub and broken their hip. The Bayesian algorithm learned the pattern of each client, so we were looking for exception conditions for that specific person and avoiding the problems rule-based expert systems.

Perhaps the most heart-breaking tragedy of getting turned away by a Canadian Immigration agent (I have always assumed it was because I’m an obvious hippie, but I really don’t know) was having to call the first person I had hired as a caregiver. I had interviewed several and picked him to lead the caregiver cohort, for a variety of reasons. Not the least being that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury about 12 years previously and couldn’t get a job, even though he was not cognitively impaired. He sobbed into the phone as I told him that we were turned away and it wasn’t going to happen.

I still think it is a viable service and I would love to contribute to the project if someone else were to resurrect it.

Thanks for reminding me of this, Kirby. This was fun to dredge up old memories of tilting at windmills.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Oregon as a Campus Context

West Side Roof

The roofer guy, who came here to give me an estimate on the Owens Corning system solution, said I'd first need to get the west side walnut tree cut back.  My upbringing in the subtropics leaves me somewhat too comfortable with the advance of nature vis-a-vis these temporary human abodes.  I've been thinking about Logan's Run, the later scenes, when they're out of the bubble, in the former capital.

In the meantime, I'm still thinking Asylum City as a code term for Campus, which is just as well a Base.  Depending on how we want to shade things, or colorize them, we have these different lingos.  The Vortex and Woodstock festivals, Oregon's Country Faire, the failed Rajneesh Puram experiment, all feed into my alchemical cauldron when I cook up visions of schooling options in eastern Oregon.

Your actual campus might be somewhere remote.  You would learn to operate a windmill and solar panel powered campus, with various backup fuels, new kinds of batteries.  Attaining self sufficiency to some high degree is one of the challenges, but this isn't Biosphere 2.  

There's no attempt, in these experiments, to somehow dome over the entire community, even if domes do feature, as theaters and planetariums perhaps.  Or as greenhouses.  Gymnasiums.  How were these structures delivered?  Do we want to experiment with Bucky's vision, and use helicopters quite a bit?  How about dirigibles?  Is the campus served by blimp?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

All Classic FM

Thursdays at 3.  All Classic FM.

I'm doing a lot more on Facebook than I used to, whereas I've throttled back on making Youtubes a whole lot. That's a stash in inventory ready for service if and when.

I'm eager to keep that "3rd culture" meme going, not my invention, as there is some camaraderie among international school students that transcends "culture of origin".  

I tend to recreate such microcosms, or seek them out, when left to my own devices, hence all the AFSC work.  We "3rd culture" folks tend to feed, or feed on, a kind of loneliness that goes with Lonely Planet (the sense of tourist at large, like a National Geographic veteran).

Speaking of global awareness, I'm still enjoying the website app.  There've been chapters wherein it stopped working, but at the moment it's blaring away in my ear.  I'll get my OPB this way. Since I stopped driving as much during Covid, I'm not getting those hits off my radio.  

Or am I on KBOO at the moment?  Playing Blackbird by The Beatles, instrumental only.  

I'll note when I hear call letters (station self identification).  The app lets you point to dots on a globe, then snarfs the feed (assuming the station streams) via tcp/ip.

Domestic adventure:  Carol was in the car already when I realized I'd locked my keys inside.  The ladder helped, but don't try it, as probably not in the way you think.  

Also:  the snake got out again, but I found him.  

Oh wait, I think this might be Portland Classical.  Yeah, All Classical FM.  Listening through optical fiber, playing on the Asus Windows tablet, the current Blender machine.  I'm blown away by what people can do with Blender.  

Everyone is a Michelangelo.