Monday, December 31, 2007

Onward to 2008!

tara & luci, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Musical Theater

I mostly just review movies in my blogs, not trying to be a jack of all genres or anything, but that doesn't mean we don't take in plays, musicals, other performance arts.

Among the musicals in recent memory: a light hearted A Christmas Carol at the Armory, courtesy of Rocky of Bridge City Friends; Jacob and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at Jesuit in Beaverton, as guests of Nancy of Wanderers (her daughter was truly stellar); and Wicked at The Pantages Theater in Hollywood yesterday, thanks to Carol Reilley Urner, my mom. Plus Tara was actually in the OATC troupe doing Schoolhouse Rock this summer, under the tutelage of Jo Lane.

I liked that Canadian show Slings and Arrows (not claiming to have caught every episode), which does a lot to remind us that movie acting and stage acting are a lot alike, yet quite different (somewhat ironic, given this was television).

Live performance is more like real life on the fly, is more demanding, as it's not so easy to do retakes or just piece together short scenes in the editing room. Movie directors tend to favor actors with live performance backgrounds, or so some will tell you, as less likely to need a lot of coaching (which not all directors are prepared to give).

I like that Buffy episode, Once More with Feeling, for it's gentle spoofing of the musical genre. I found it satirical, yet not mean spirited, given all those darling characters.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

National Treasure 2 (movie review)

So this Book of Secrets episode begins with the phony end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln, resulting in contemporary speculation about whether Thomas Gates was a co-conspirator with Booth. However, given our omniscient camera viewpoint, we already know Gates was killed by KGC operatives.

The funniest moment in this film is when Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) successfully pisses off the Buckingham Palace security guards (all a part of his clever plan). In cinematographic terms, the car chase through London is a groundbreakingly impressionistic blend of sights and sounds.

Perhaps his and Abigail's acting out will remind tourists to keep their family squabbling less public -- shouting on your cell phone may also be rude, plus have some respect when you dress to visit holy places and shrines OK? Let's all just try to behave a little less foolishly shall we?

On a more serious note, the film at least alludes to JFK's tenure and assassination.

So I eventually tired of all the pseudo-adult bickering (ex partners trapped in old arguments). Yes, relationships are like puzzles, and so why are these premier puzzle solvers and translators so bad at them then? And why was the City of Gold built to look like a tacky Hollywood movie set? Poor craftsmanship apparently (lotsa leaks).

We came home to the news of the cowardly, insane assassinations in Pakistan. Maturity is in short supply on Animal Planet, especially among humans.

I cooled my jets in the jacuzzi and was more upbeat when later posting to edu-sig.

I also joined a Polyhedron elist today and posted some appreciative remarks regarding the recent Koski filings. I see other names I recognize in the archives.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Zoo Disaster

The LA Times today is reporting on page one about an irresponsible zoo that doesn't know how to contain its tigers.

Visitors whom the tiger mauled to death, and the animal star killer, shot dead by police, paid a very high price indeed.

How about no more captive tigers in the San Francisco Zoo until 3008? That'd be my idea of justice well served.

Update: I watched the news conference from my treadmill @ 24 Hour Fitness. Casualties at that time: two killed (one human, one non), two injured (human).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Map Psychology

Having lived in Europe for so many years, I'm aware of the pomp and circumstance attendant upon crossing a so-called border (so-called because these people can't seem to make up their minds, like to gerrymander).

Europeans then look at a map of the USA and see more like one color, with the states thinly outlined, and anyway what do those states even matter given everyone eats at Burger King and gases up at Chevron?

But the truth of the matter is the territorial USA is even more ethnically diverse than Europe's, having inherited that mother lode plus we had a ton of cultures going before they really got here en masse. All those plastic franchise signs paint a thin veneer of shared culture over a vast expanse. We all need gas, we all go shopping (mas o meno).

In the history books, you'll find lots of Norte Americanos going psycho over all this diversity, thinking it's a bad thing and must be conquered. That's laughable if you think about it, because the messianic "save America for the Americans" fanatics are always ethnic sectarians of one brand or another, a tribe of some kind.

Back to the Euro folk: in seeing the advance of Golden Arches and such icons across their land, fantasies turn to occupation by the Borg, some single-minded mono-culture that knows what it's doing going into Iraq. These fantasies are just that: delusional paranoias.

Globalization is not a dictated, creepy cult phenomenon, staged by some chosen few, but a natural consequence of diverse cultures reaching some compromises in order enjoy commerce with one another. This is not a new challenge (learning to get along), but the pace has picked up, given the big crunch, not so much in terms of population (there's still room to spread out), but in terms of more happening closer to the speed of light (e.g. satellite telecommunications).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trip Prep

As the solstice draws nigh, I felt moved by the spirit to clean up Dawn's meditation space, aka our branch office of Portland Knowledge Lab (PKL -- somewhat patterned after London's). We've also got a portable altar ready, borrowing mostly from R.

Some of the coastal Friends I plan to visit got to know me through Camp Myrtlewood, a Church of the Brethren facility (see Urner geneology for more ties). We were young then, juggling torches, sharing memes (sometimes jeans). Obviously we came from many walkx of life (including this AI guy from Apple), although most were from Oregon and California, a few from Washington.

When my partner Dawn Wicca joined Quakers, she was clear with her clearness committee she wasn't Christian and would that be OK. In our neck of the woods, it most certainly was, at least in her case, as our brand of Quaker doesn't require buying in to the Protestants' authority structure, nor JudeoChristendom's for that matter, much as we might study the Bible (not the only holy book).

These latecomer colonists are welcome to their rituals, their shopping, but don't "own" this time of year in America and some Friends simply prefer to celebrate rebirth and reawakening with people who are very clear that they've never been subjugated by aliens (think of it as an Independence Day kind of thing).

That being said, Dawn was also very Catholic, both in upbringing and outlook, was awed by the priesthood's mastery over ritual, especially around Easter time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weight Loss

A down side of my no beer diet is some of my outfits gained a gunny sack appearance, unfortunate this time of year, when people are on the alert for people to assist. Or maybe I'm just too much the scrooge to buy clothes that fit?

I'm afraid a security webcam or two might've caught me trying to adjust my belt, tuck in my shirt, a strange routine for a hallway pedestrian at full stride (rewind, replay...).

Today though, I compensated with my Wild West leather jacket and beaver fur hat, which I mostly saved for my dramatic exit, and some remark about the horse in the parking garage (a joke of course -- though I did see real goats grazing from my level 5 vantage point).

It's not just the no beer (a vow over vodka in Vilnius); I'm getting to the fitness club somewhat more often as well. TinkerBell, my bicycle, hasn't been out much, since the weather got colder.

I was sorry to hear of the collision between a cyclist and a P.T. Cruiser in Gresham today. All around Greater Portland, you can find these little markers, where cyclists have died. Yet on the whole, I find our drivers to be more courteous and bicycle-aware than average.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Management by Rotation

Usually the CEO, CTO and CFO of a company have their faces published in various glossy annual reports, on coffee mugs or whatever, so their ability to "blend in" among the rank and file is compromised.

A 2nd tier manager enjoys more anonymity, plus may have been recruited from within the company to begin with, so won't be seen as "just clowning around" if she or he joins a baggage handling team or some IT project for a spell on the front lines.

The CBS News team is another real world example, of a managing editor still doing field work, while those more often on assignment, or hosts of other programs, jump in to anchor from time to time as well.

Such management by rotation helps keep a crew limber, cross-trained and resilient, plus sustains a two way street of reality checks flowing, such that "the field" and "the head office" don't become divorced worlds, each with an exclusive, insular culture.

Of course a given special case reality is way more complicated than sketched above. For instance, you can't just hop between jobs and bleep out the training part, unless maybe you're going back to something you were good at already (frequently the case, but why not challenge yourself, pick up some new skills?).

Even as a top manager in your firm, you may need to join a specific "away team" as a neophyte apprentice, a "lower down" in terms skill level, and be willing to take direction from these more adept professionals, even as they learn from your high level ways.

Many a Western (movie genre) featured this plot, of an urbanized big shot, say a banker, reduced to needful dependence on local fur trappers, ranchers or even Native Americans in some cases.

A stint in the field may be a humbling experience for a boss type although sometimes "humbling" really isn't the word for it so much as "eye opening." A stint in the field may also be refreshing and revitalizing i.e. is duty to look forward to, to welcome, to not shirk or pass off as mere "busy work" to an underling.

Physicians are especially aware of this revolving door experience, simply because we're all mortals ailing of this or that terminal condition (i.e. life as we know it). Healers more generally find themselves on both sides of a healing equation, as patients of other healers, and so no wonder then that so many symbols of reciprocity ornament the medical literature.

An inspiration in the background: John R. Coleman, a former president of Haverford College who used to take low paying service jobs to keep some perspective. Another inspiration: the Centers Network, which implemented quite a lot of rotation among its volunteers and staff.

Here we're talking about a consciously designed aspect of a company's infrastructure, set up not as punishment but as an intelligent design aimed at sustaining the vitality and longevity of any long haul business venture.

Of course an older archetype is from Chinese philosophy, in which the emperor is forever disguising himself in peasant clothing and going out among his people. Given published photographs were less prevalent in those days, this was actually a more imaginable practice, plus one could always resort to disguises, various cloaking devices and so on.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Quaker Infrastructure

from the Laffoley archives, early works

I was comparing notes with a former Presbyterian on the Vietnam Era this morning. Whereas the AFSC was openly providing medical services on both sides, its traditional humanitarian calling (for which a Nobel Prize had been granted), the church-goers were launched on a relatively slow moving, deliberative approach, more professorial.

Activism is an anathema to some temperaments as it bespeaks "acting without guidance" or, in Quaker parlance, without a sufficient leading.

Given we'll always have a bell curve of temperaments, smart religions, other bureaucracies, take at least a two-pronged approach: give activists immediately relevant operations to manage; give analysts the time they need to really think before acting.

One of Paul Laffoley's more difficult instruments is this gyroscope of embedded gyroscopes (Levogyre, 1974). This seems a most definite allusion to what Bucky Fuller termed "precession," a phenomenon associated with gyroscopes, but by which he meant something more like "attractive, yet other than gravitationally." To be precessionally related is more like twisting as a strand within the same rope, and is how many a business partnership operates, though you still need core bookkeeping services to keep partners on the same page, more or less.

I think of the concentric hierarchy of meetings (monthly, quarterly, out to yearly) as like Laffoley's gyroscope. Here is a space for contemplation, deliberation, however fast or slow. Let the minutes season at the monthly level, then percolate outward, tilting the outermost rung in this omnispherical ladder, even as other minutes impinge, coming from other angles.

At the center, in a monotheism, is one source of all good. Polytheisms more focus on the concerns of top management, where not everyone gets the luxury of one overview. Atheisms are tired of crediting dieties for everything (angels whatever), wish humans would have the guts to simply take responsibility once in a while.

Given the AFSC does not mandate a specific religion among its staff, awareness of these and many more mindsets becomes a focus of Quakers as well, given their job of oversight with respect to said activist agency.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wanderers 2007.12.5

I showed up late, per usual on Wednesday mornings, to catch the balance of an excellent, highly technical presentation by Wanderer Nancy Ankorn, CPA. She ran through the for-profit business models defined by the USA tax code: sole proprietor- ships, partnerships, C & S corporations, LLPs and LLCs.

From my viewpoint, the partnership information was the most interesting. And yes, the K-1 is a lot like a 1099.

On the back burner (via the Ubuntu Dell), I participated in an exchange on Quaker-P about religion and business. So when are Quakers going to run some key businesses again, like in the good old days? I don't think the oats guy is really a CEO, more of a figurehead, like Betty Crocker.

Nancy really knows her job well, and what with the rules always changing, that requires lots of study. The apparatus she monitors forms a basis for lots of flashy North American soaps, like my friends in Dhaka (Bangladesh) would watch. Turns out Nancy and I are both Warren Buffett fans.

Amazingly, Jim Buxton joined us this morning, despite major flooding in his neck of the woods.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mirroring Public Views

Accurate surveying is a gold standard in whatever discipline, and that includes politics, unless "the pulse of the public" really doesn't matter, in which case you're probably not as high up in office as you'd thought.

Philosophical question: but how do you determine accuracy if all you have are competing surveyors, isn't that a chicken-egg conundrum? Sometimes you just have to shoot the philosopher (just kidding -- they used to say that about engineers too). Actually there's a better answer: reputable companies tend to reach very similar, if not precisely the same results, i.e. lots of cross-checking and fine tuning goes on (competing surveyors is a good thing).

Social networking software is providing students of public opinion with new tools, little ships in a bottle able to model ships of state, other big enterprises, fairly well, or at least that's what's being advertised, as in: "punch in your data, customize the picture, and the generic power of our model will give you some most interesting predictions, and this ain't just hocus pocus neither."

A side benefit of all these new pools of polling data is it's increasingly hard for fly by night shops to simply make stats out of whole cloth. The bad apples in the bunch become more apparent, as social networking accelerates the reality checking. That's actually how democracy is supposed to work, so don't take this as a report on some crisis. Sit back, relax, and make sure you keep voting (your thinking does matter).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

EtchaSketch View

(click for larger view)
This was for a meeting in Hollywood, a NE Portland neighborhood with a great theater (same era as The Bagdad in Richmond).

The genre is "church retreat center" given how AFSC files taxes, plus we've got a bona fide Quaker Lodge overlooking the pounding surf (on foggy days, that's more just a sound effect).

A FED is a Fly's Eye Dome but that's just an unbranded generic name for it. Our sponsors aren't bound to call 'em that.

From my email outbox:
My Project Earthala model follows the Breitenbush model i.e. a core group or community runs the operation, with a large turnover population of tourists, who book facilities for retreats of various kinds, trainings.

We specialize in trainings featuring the new toyz or technologies associated with living this way. Extreme Remote Livingry or XRL I sometimes call it, following a pattern of having an X when doing eXperimental prototyping.
Earthala is more of a back office type place (one of several), helping Friends and their coworkers get up to speed for duty elsewhere in many cases.

Once you know the ropes, you'll expect redeployment in some civilian scenario focused on disaster relief, health care, truce monitoring, habitat studies, diplomacy and ethnography, other training.

My brand of Quaker isn't much into missionary work though. People who wish to join us will find a way open, but we're hardly into the art of the hard sell. We keep our Faith & Practice on-line in hypertext, for those wishing to familiarize themselves with our ways.

Project Earthala is currently near future science fiction, on the drawing boards. Making it real will require more ambient, televised awareness of design science, alternative curricula. I focus on Junior Friends as a potentially interested demographic, although a few older adults still have the capacity to absorb new information (most are much better at suppressing it, once vested in whatever mindset).

Note: I envision the ATV garage containing mostly electric editions, like for sale here on Sandy. Also, there'd be some times during M4W & M4B when a lot of whiny little engines wouldn't be a welcome noise (another reason we like electric more).

Rocky and I joked at the meeting how he'd inadvertently booked our Quaker group into that ATV camp, and we sat around doing M4W amidst motorized mayhem (hey, it's not like there wasn't fun stuff to look at, not sorry we tried it, a formative experience even).

Historical note: my CamelCase title alludes to a very popular toy in its day, although practically no one (extremely few) had the level of operational skill shown below:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good Shepherd (movie review)

This very stylish piece plays it straight with our man Agent Buttercup, a shy guy, both ostensibly and for real, who turns his back on every one of his angels in exchange for some vaguely lewd Castle of Whispers (plus a haunting piano).

I was reminded of both eXistenZ and A Beautiful Mind (imagine oscillating between the two in some random sequence).

Other spins in this literature make it so much less of a guy thing. I contribute to this genre in part because of inbreeding: my Princeton's 2D (Class of 1980) was more coven-like than anything bonesmen (more of a Yale thing). But hey, this movie isn't about me, so I should just save it for my blogs, right?

De Niro both directs the film and plays Wild Bill Donovan, titular founder of the OSS, which later transmogrified post Truman, as we all know, to become the beloved Cold Warrior agency, since then eclipsed by this weird constellation of like sixteen little agencies around some D'ni in Uru (or whatever (I don't pretend to follow too closely)):

The Americans don't make out very well in this film. Agent Buttercup & Co. basically botch every operation they get close to, like the Russians are simply better at it and so? All water under the bridge by now; cold warriors having their fun in the sun.

I kept thinking of the Matt Damon character as a Sim, like you don't want too many of these guys in your reality (idiocrats, "pompous and faggy" (allusion)). Damon gets points for doing him so effectively (another "quiet American" you just want to scream at, tell him to get off the phone and get a life (like, you're married to Angelina for crying out loud)).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chance of Rain

One of the most light hearted autobiographies I ever encountered was at a nearby coffee shop with this name. I don't know if it still has that bookish look any more (a passing phase), plus I know it no longer shows those Governor Schwarzenegger movies. Anyway, Salvador Dali's. Check it out sometime.

Wanderers: Barry is describing pre-WWII banking situations, leaving some guy to sleep it off in the vault.

I came in late, giving a heads up about another four-legged Wanderer candidate that might join us briefly. It's my practice to include non-humans in our gatherings.

We shall see. We also discussed fund accounting, vs. the more usual for-profit kind (DWA's specialty, and TBC's, is/was the former type of bookkeeping, used by many a 501(c)(3)).

We then broke out into some full blown kabbalah type conversation, lots of Hebrew letters (more unicode fun), thanks to Milt and his invited guest Ken. The Mayan and Wiccan calendars also received significant attention from the other end of the table. Portland is just like that.

I name dropped Stan Tenen but otherwise didn't have much to offer in this department. I've never read much Suarez, given all that time squandered on Synergetics (plus R&R).

The dog was beautiful. My sincere thanks to her handlers for sharing her with us.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Unicode

from the OLPC Wiki
I was out stumping for Unicode again today, welcoming its centrality in the newer Pythons (3.x generation).

The XOs come with various swap-in keyboards, such as the one depicted above.

Consider the hexadecimal U+0436 for example, the lowercase letter Zhe (ж), 8th letter in the Russian alphabet: Python source code is now able to include that.

Showcasing Python's new internationalization features might be a theme at Vilnius again next year.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Americana






Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wanderers 2007.11.21

The agenda for this meeting remained volatile right up through the opening, oscillating somewhere between "open" and "programmed."

The Tiller video (Stanford emeritus, one of the Bleep guys) was somewhat Wanderers like, but the audience was more polite and deferential than is our wont, so after about 45 minutes we paused the DVD and went ape for a few.

Then I had to bow out (taking my Dell laptop which had been playing the DVD -- fortunately we still had Bill's), owing to this being that Thanksgiving Season again, and I have a great deal to be thankful for, even amidst sorrow, plus a lot of logistics to handle.

Yesterday I thought Glenn was appropriately skeptical of this cymatic "face" as they call it, which might actually be one of those grays, and cousin to the one on Mars.

This political ad by Mike Huckabee and his friend Chuck Norris is hilarious.

Thank you Trevor, for turning me on to the Ulam Spiral.

As I was saying, I have much gratitude to express, many lucky stars to thank.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Home Appliance Story

Les & Elise tackled my dishwasher problem with gusto. The thing had become anemic, only the bottom rack usable, and the heating element was looking pretty fried.

The Yellow Pages guy had failed to find the real problem, had charged me $70 anyway, whereas Les quickly got to the heart of the matter: the chopper blade had come off the circular pump intake mesh, leaving it to clog with grime, which explained the low water pressure. The plastic mounting post was irreparable.

Elise, a mechanic in her own right (she fixes old Volvos etc.), managed to track down and secure this obscure assembly, along with a new heating element, just minutes before Saturday closing time at a nearby supply depot.

The heating element came with a replacement circuit board controller and a warning to only install both, suggesting to Les there'd been some shortcomings in the previous programming i.e. I probably wasn't the first to experience a heating element melt down.

My only role in all this was to dash to the hardware store for a Torx screwdriver kit, and to hold the flashlight.

During final reassembly, Les and I took a time out to express our patriotic fervor regarding our privileged position as civilians in a society with its act together enough to make such repair stories possible.

I attributed our success as a culture in part to our willingness to rant against ourselves, often in the context of hard core trainings, illustrating with a five second Full Metal Jacket impersonation crossed with some football coach.

Les agreed, then told the story of this top manager he knew, who lived across from a high school and finally got tired hearing coaches screaming at their male trainees about their being "women" in the sense of incompetent sissies. She went over there and really gave 'em a piece of her mind, again making a positive difference to our culture.

Later, while Ruth and Tara played upstairs, the three of us watched a show about the Galapagos on the National Geographic channel, which is where Les & Elise got married. The dishwasher is working great now.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Defending the USA

At least the Pope is doing his job, coming out swinging against nuclear weapons across the board.

Inferior brands of pseudo Christian take a more forked-tongue approach: put the screws on Iran while hypocritically reserving the right to stockpile, not just nukes, but WMDs of all kinds, to be used not just in self-defense, but in preemptive wars of choice that pander to mob hysteria fanned by self-interested corporate media invested in war profiteering.

These hollow-voiced pundits and newscasters are selling out their country by turning it into a ridiculous paper tiger, worthy only of mockery and disdain.

Fortunately, the USA still has a few patriotic defenders able to rise above being cynical, manipulative losers. One or two of them might even get to be president someday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Evening of Meetings

Our Python Meetup at PDX Cubespace was quite successful, owing in part to our sponsor, Kavi, who provided some first class salad and pizza. We took some of the excess za over to the PHP group, meeting elsewhere in the building, returning the favor from last time.

Our featured talks: ReportLab, simplifying development, Django, and myself on open source in medical research.

My main point was to distinguish an open source process, which inherits from the liberal arts ethic (tipping my hat to Robert Lefkowitz here), from its fruits, which might be shared tools or standards.

Engineers have a tendency to actually brand their stuff "open source" these days, whereas the medical community has other shoptalks.

To some extent, merging the expertise of our communities is an exercise in translation.

Jeff clued me about some recent announcements from Google about its intent to make on-line medical record keeping more of a reality, with Microsoft making similar plans. Thanks Jeff.

The beer part afterwards was fun though I didn't drink any, sticking to champagne with orange juice (not necessarily any less caloric I realize). I had some good basic conversations about SQL Alchemy, Postgres and so on.

It's not my style to try to sound all-knowing in when geeks talk turkey. On the contrary, I'm more like the guy who asks "what's a turkey?"

Immediately following, I buzzed over to Wanderers to catch the tail end of Greg's presentation, but it was over already. I enjoyed some informal banter with my cronies before turning in.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

TechNation

Calling it "TechNation" (with or without a space) connects in esoterica to TechNate, a term of art in the Technocracy movement, about which most North Americans are clueless (hey, there's just no time to learn history -- though maybe this Hollywood writers' strike will open a window, by giving viewers more time to catch up on their nonfiction?).

Anyway, going back to the dot com boom and bust, I sometimes tell the story of how I was approached by some guy, early in the boom phase, suggesting I move to New York City and become the CEO for his startup. I looked pretty good on paper, plus had a web site pretty early, even some good press. I'd be like his trophy executive. Then, went the plan, once venture capital was secured and it was time to "go live," I'd be replaced with someone more savvy, no doubt one of my would-be recruiter's cronies, already waiting in the wings.

There might've been some real bucks in it for me, no question, but the prospect of leaving Portland was not appealing, plus when I got the guy's business plan in the mail, I could see through the jargon and buzzwords to another plain vanilla ISP, another Internet Service Provider. I just didn't like the hollowness of the hype, so said thanks but no thanks.

A disconnect I sense in the storytelling is most North Americans aren't up to date on this whole Open Source thing. Didn't Linux take a hit when the dot com bubble burst? Or if it didn't, don't we at least know that those scruffy hacker types, "dot commies" with pipe dreams of world domination, were forced to eat their own dog food, roll over and die?

How many on Main Street know the story of SCO, which tried to eat Linux's lunch, yet ended up delisted? How many know that IBM is a major contributor to the Linux kernel, or that Microsoft now sports a lot of Open Source DNA? If you still think it's scruffy hackers vs. Microsoft, think again. Of course those pathetic loser patent trolls in Texas still plan to put up a fight. I can't say I'm much interested in their sorry fate.

The story I tell goes more like this: lawyers still held enough cards to make the first dot com boom a Wall Street phenomenon, all about making money the old fashioned way, with lots of smoke and mirrors. Round two still involves mirroring, focusing, but engineers now hold enough cards to keep the smoke levels way down. Transparency in business processes is now part of what Open Source means. Investors should like this, though it'll mean a shakeout process as those over-depending on smoke get a taste of the competition. The result: a more robust economy, and not just in North America, not by a long shot.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Science Friday

I thought Harold Salzman of the Urban Institute did some significant backpedaling today, conceding most points his rhetorical opponents were making.

Salzman's view: the education situation may be dire, concerning, but it's not apocalyptic. Kids today know a lot more about computers than did kids thirty years ago. Compared to where we were, we're not all that different, on average -- never mind where the rest of the world is going, that's not what this study was about. "If my son or daughter is as informed and aware as I was, when I was his or her age, then things can't really be that bad" seems to be the attitude here. A semi-static picture should be no cause for alarm.

Yes, the cream of the crop is still pretty creamy, and given the intellectual squalor in which we live, there's really not that much demand for even more engineers, not counting those in the destruction business, of which there's a severe shortage right now (hence Stop-Loss). Destructive engineering is still a bonanza source of family wage jobs, thanks to myopic policymakers. Cruise missiles R Us.

Those disillusioned would-be design scientists might be more in demand in some other, more futuristic civilization, some parallel universe, one in which World Game was actually mentioned out loud (gasp!). Indeed, lack of hope in the future was cited as a major reason for students getting turned off, abandoning their hopes and dreams i.e. all that homework to what end, given global warming and the impending economic downturn? Fear over longing, once again (an old story).

So what's this Urban Institute anyway? Mostly middle of the road liberal types, of the kind who lost the War on Poverty, got us mixed up in Vietnam?

I liked Intel's Craig R. Barrett's thinking better: if we don't shape up, USAers will get creamed in the global jobs market. I think that's correct, but in the backs of their minds, some so-called liberals still just knee-jerk assume we'll have to write off the less privileged as unsalvageable. They then sugar coat their thinly disguised Malthusianism in various bureaucratic policymaking voices, like FEMA does when talking about those post-Katrina toxic trailers: all blather, and no action, because the mindset between the ears is quite broken.

Let's talk about "mental poverty" for a change, and acknowledge it might come dressed up in a suit and carry a briefcase, with fancy degrees and all the rest of it. Losers come in all stripes, don't they?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More Commenting on News

From the CBS News website:

"The image that's been portrayed is, we sat around the campfire and said, 'Oh, boy, now we go get to torture people.' Well, we don't torture people. Let me say that again to you. We don't torture people. Okay?" Tenet says.

"Come on, George," Pelley says.

"We don't torture people," Tenet maintains.

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?" Pelley asks.

"We don't torture people," Tenet says.

"Water boarding?" Pelley asks.

"We do not – I don't talk about techniques," Tenet replies.

"It's torture," Pelley says.

"And we don't torture people. Now, listen to me. Now, listen to me. I want you to listen to me," Tenet says.

My comments on Quaker-P (Sun Nov 4 10:41:21 PST 2007):

So was that all a lot of hooey? Why should we believe as he believes, right?

Another gestalt: if you use torture, you're simply not part of the CIA in Tenet's view. Something of a tautology perhaps? Doesn't he have the right to a view though, as an exDCI and all?

At some level we're each a walking microcosm. How you tell history is really a window into your own personal psyche no? This was Kierkegaard's point in his Concluding Unscientific Postscript I think.

This idea of an Objective Voice that narrates history from some omniscient God's eye view is a literary conceit. One may pretend to such a voice, but is it ever authentic?

These "objective stories" are a manifestation of people herding together, seeking comfort in a shared telling -- more Will to Power at work, to take Nietzsche's slant.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Commenting on News

Blackwater's plan to hide behind the State Department, further soiling this nation's reputation, is not helpful to the USA's standing among nations. Is Condi really their protective mommy then? The FBI is being quite namby-pamby.

As far as the Iranian energy program goes, as a long time Fuller Schooler I'm always studying the grid maps. How will the new juice help alleviate power shortages in faraway Turkey? Lots to consider.

Monday, October 29, 2007

OLPC in Brazil


I'm sitting in a favorite coffee shop listening to the windows rattle, given the heavy base speakers in a vehicle just outside, waiting for the light to change. At home: science experiment in progress: is it the fuse box, the washing machine, or some other component that's failing?

The machine is pretty rusted, but I'm not one to replace unnecessarily, given the leanness and meanness I've needed to cultivate, to survive on my budget (not complaining -- it's ample). I've reactivated the circuit and mom will phone if the house shorts again (this AC 20 amper tends to take whole the house when she blows).

Much of my day is about passing the torch, helping a next generation get up to speed in various ways. The excellent thing about teaching is students come to class already spinning, sometimes at high speed, and that tends to rub off.

Academic cultures get good at creating positive synergies under optimum conditions, though many degenerate for lack of a sustainable balance among faculty (yes, a tautology). The "spin" metaphor traces to Fuller for me -- a word he kept for disciplined use within his self-invented philosophical language.

Anyway, it's great having so many good teachers, of all ages, keeping me up to speed on so many fronts. Just today, I got around to this video of XOs in Brazil, lighting up the lives of these talented students. OLPC is still in its infancy as of this writing, but the age of the low-to-no cost laptop is upon us, that much is clear.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Alternatives to Violence (AVP)

Our Quaker meeting is in the midst of this workshop right now, with participants taking a break for ordinary Meeting for Worship with the rest of us (I'm sitting this one out).

Part of me wants to call AVP "Quakers' answer to est" but that's a very esoteric thing to say, in part because no one remembers est anymore, which wasn't violent, but was edgy and austere (the way Quakers sometimes get, or "stern" as we say), with a lot of zen heritage.

Mostly I just make a joke connection between two dots: AVP the workshop and AVP the movie (Alien Versus Predator, a campy monster flick, very violent, with pretty good special effects).

But I am making a deeper point with such humor: that I think screen violence has its place, including in the lives of pacifists. "Theatrical violence" might be another term for it, "war movies" another.

We've always had such, and if it's not beautifully synthesized, like the ancient Greeks managed (along with many other delicate, studious civilizations) then it tends to get recklessly and inappropriately acted out by immature players who forget the alternatives part.

And those Buddhist depictions of hell aren't for sissies either, let's be honest.

We really need good screenwriters, storytellers, to help us stay sane, plus all kinds of other stuff (I'm not putting everything on the backs of the Screen Actors Guild, poor darlings). Props, sets.

Sometimes one hears me saying cutting things about AVP, like maybe it's too namby-pamby, e.g. maybe "not prison-based enough" (whatever that means). I cop to being polemical (ineffectively if hypocritical) but it's really in this spirit of wanting to foster competition among trainings, to keep the upgrades coming.

I think monoculture breeds good-for-nothingness after awhile. Monopolies tend to not work.

When Jesus said he came with a sword, yet preached non- violence, I think this is what he meant: we're supposed to "battle for God" (goddesses, gods, no God, whatever), as that keeps our diverse schools of thought intelligently engaged, flexible, adaptable, not frozen in dogmatic, calcified shapes, like ice sculptures.

A kind of inward/outward combat or competitive world game among schools hardly needs to be encouraged, as I'm simply describing the long term status quo. Only the names of the players keep changing, and yes, well, the rules too over time, the names of the games (links to Wittgenstein).

What we need to encourage is the practice of keeping the combat metaphysically high level, inward, non-violent, psychological, in the realm of the big screen, theater & television, with lots of good writers helping to steer.

More success along those lines would spell dramatically higher living standards for most people, including for many of those terrorists now actively working to kill our hopes for a better future.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Coffee Shop Schooling

Given the plummeting price of laptops and ubiquity of wifi, some of our Portland students have started formulating a position against wastefulness: why burn precious fuel, adding to global warming, just to get to math class, when math class could just come to us (me 'n my friends) via the corner coffee shop, which is also a kind of library (lots of print media, for those so inclined)?

Of course many of these students have no voting rights (yes, age discrimination -- but no, I'm not saying "discrimination" is something to "not do," quite the contrary, just not too stupidly, OK? (and developing one's sense of judgment is a life time process, somewhat defines your maturation into some kind of animal (and no, we don't all "end up the same" -- aren't supposed to (we have different tastes)))).

But their parents do, and are asking the same question.

Yes, of course some need brick and mortar public schools for their day care function, others for their organized sports. But it's not "either/or" is it? Join a team, build a schedule, exercise discipline (your peers are competitive), make good and efficient use of what all you've got. That's all we're saying (plus we practice what we preach -- don't wanna be hypocrites).

Don't forget how many families live in extremely isolated conditions in Oregon, oft times by choice, and oft times with bandwidth to spare.

And yes, I'm thinking specifically of Warm Springs and places like that, eager to cut loose from the ambient monoculture, yet willing to preserve ties with the feds, with the State of Oregon, in games of quid pro quo around taxes, tourism, gambling, fishing, health care or whatever.

Relevant reading: "Reinventing the wheel of education" (thread @ Math Forum)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tribal Sovereignty

Whereas neither "tribe" nor "sovereignty" are words of indigenous origin, it is historically the case that immigrants seized jurisdiction at gun point, then proceeded to make life difficult for North Americans wishing to continue lifestyles (including migration patterns) evolved over the past ten thousand years or more.

So-called "tribal sovereignty" has been rather difficult to re-establish. Immigrants and their privileged descendants still have the right to flaunt native laws, even on lands designated "tribal."

Oregon / Washington politicians have tended to align with Washington, DC and its Supreme Court on this issue, as imperialist "master race" types in training (snicker). The label "Indian lover" is like the kiss of death if you want to be president some day, or at least that used to be the common wisdom.

However, the tide may be turning, as more ties form between the Silicon Forest and tribes investing in tomorrow's high tech. Casinos are just the beginning.

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 19, 2007

More AutoBio

So while growing up as an expat helped me become worldly, I was left behind vis-a-vis King Crimson or whatever, didn't have the standard cultural savvy upon arriving at Princeton.

I showed up a week early, lived on spam from WaWa -- because I'd heard spam was a thing to experience.

My roommate from Long Island found that completely different, coming to Princeton to encounter a spam eating guy from Magallanes Village (ironically so named by the people who ate him).

To this day, I'm out of sequence on a lot of stuff.

I first encountered Katie when she started hitting CBS radar, then through Shark Tale. Seems everyone else already knew from Leno that her biceps were bigger than Evil Bert's.

I got into Sesame Street in high school, already wearing my future TV producer hat.

My first car, a Honda Civic, was a present from my grandmother at age 28. Up until then, I'd mostly used public transportation, plus hitch hiked a lot (more some other time perhaps).

Nor have I ever seen a Sopranos, nor any Desperate Housewives (that I can remember anyway (OK, some excerpts)). Kinda weird huh? Go figure.

Most of middle America I've not seen, though we had Nebraska plates overseas some of the time, military base access (inexpensive scuba). Western Pennsylvania is cool, Montana.

I was born in Chicago, May 17, 1958.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WILPF Meets Wanderers

Tonight was mom's turn at bat. I'm blogging in real time. Good turnout. Milt, Rick, Allen... Liz.

Mom is decrying luddite investment houses that still indulge in space-based pie in the sky weaponry projects, beltway fluff, a fad tracing to the neocon idiocrats behind all that New American Century crapola.

Now she's talking about the NSA's crazy-making radomes, buckyballs used as ruggedized weather proofing for Jodie Foster type dishes.

Kinetic kill weapons ("Rods from God") would be based in space, but maybe have no explosives. They just drop stuff on people. Microwave guns might not be space based at all, but if controlled by satellite, they qualify as such. Plutonium triggers...

Speaking of NSA, there's a guy here with that form of Buddhism that used to be known as NSA. Apparently Linus Pauling did a book with their leader.

Now she's showing Addicted to War, an hilarious underground comic book that weaponry teetotalers use, trying to wean those poor lost soul LAWCAP types from their nasty bad habits.

Now she's going over the Kwajelein - Vandenburg - Ft. Greely triangle. "Pretty tricky business" she says (re the decoys).

However, the Pentagon remains confidant, pending maybe Poland's acceptance, that this plan will pan out.

Liz wondered how mom keeps from burning out, always working with dolts in Congress. She's only 26, and has already about had it with those numbskulls. Mom shared about her many heroes, Dennis Kucinich and such, still sources of hope. Bill Moyers.

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), Carol Reilley Urner

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Random Photos

me, dad, mom, sis (philippines 1970s)

a portland knowledge lab annex
(wheel by dawn's friends)

steel bridge from a jet boat's vantage

Friday, October 12, 2007

Journaling WQM Business



Exhibit: scanned receipt from Costco, working off Diane's meal plans, assisted by Jane, paid for by DWA check, thence reimbursed by WQM Treasurer Charlie.

This was not the sum total of what we ate in two meals however, plus we sold back extra food at the end, to event attenders. Kiwanis catered three additional meals as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Portland Radio


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Quarterly Meeting (WQM Fall 2007)

I found this to be an unusually productive session.

MMM purchased a new computer projector, and shared it with Junior Friends, who were still high from their recent trip to Mexico, an eye opening growth experience for all concerned.

Jim Flory was approved to oversee the new web site.

Best of all was the discussion outside of Fanning, among some experienced nurses and attorneys, plus myself, regarding patient right of access to personal medical records i.e. to one's own about one's self.

I took the position of having automatic right of access, even if the medical language were quasi-indecipherable to a geek like me.

Even today, in some hospitals, employees just have to sign a form to gain unrestricted access to their own charts and files.

Others countered that patient exposure to unintelligible verbiage might encourage god playing (i.e. playing doctor), leading to bad decisions and a deteriorating medical condition, with the hospital made liable as a consequence.

The compromise seemed to be: feel free to access your own medical records, but don't think that entitles you to hold others accountable for what you do (or don't do) with that information (click here to accept and gain access).

On the winter camping front (I'd set up in a tent to practice my own spiritual discipline), I learned there's a reason they call it a mummy bag, and no, using it as a blanket is not guaranteed to produce a similar degree of cozy warmness. As it was, both nights were pretty cold, but with the second a lot warmer than the first.

Aimée said she has just the fire-starting system for winter campers, describing both the artifact and its manufacture (something about egg cartons and candle wax). She, Aimée of Multnomah, and Pan of Wolf Creek were then more formally introduced by me, Kirby of Bridge City, and a long time friend of both stellar women.

And speaking of stellar women, Bonnie Tinker and I spent quite a bit of time together, in spirited conversation and worship. Whereas we may not share strategies or see eye to eye on every issue, we have a lot of the same deeply held Quaker values.

The queries used to guide worship traced to FWCC's recent work to bring Quakers into sharper focus around the world. I was happy to see Doreen O'Dowd's name in the literature, our flying doctor friend in Lesotho and member of Ireland Yearly Meeting.

Tara, in Central Friends, enjoyed hiking again with Chris and Luci, plus doing the Adventure Course, an old favorite at this Mt. Hood area Kiwanis Camp.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Busy Friday

Right, not just Mondays get busy.

Today, after getting Tara to school, I rode shotgun with officer Bader on my hospital beat, an old playing field, but always new and different. I thought she was great, very X-Files, plus still high off her management workshop for 360compass, a 4dsolutions affiliate.

Then Diane swung by with mega-groceries, with a Freddies list for more. Turns out we frequent the same store but hardly ever run into each other (go figure). At Costco we physically collided, though with no ribs broken. All this food is for Willamette Quarterly Meeting, as my closer readers may already have guessed.

Then came the visit to the UPS Store up on Hawthorne, to send certified mail to the Governor of California's office. This is about my high school buddy, in the slammer since 1981 for murder one, and he's not the only criminal I've come to know over the years, deserving of another chance in this life.

OK, Luci's here now (both parents attorneys), and it's time that we finish packing and be gone, leaving house under guard (smile).

I'm tenting this time; no one needs to hear me snore in the forest (an old philosophers' joke).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Recalling Sputnik


I sort of expected more space program retrospectives, timed with this commemoration of Sputnik, a cultural icon and indelible what the bleep on the American psyche.

We're especially in need of some self reflection on recent intellectual history. What have we been teaching the kids ever since?

Right after Sputnik, school kids were told to dive head first into set theory, ala Bertie Russell and friends.

Parents suddenly had to endure future shock, given junior's unions and intersections of objects, subsets, empty set... which just wasn't fair!

It's the losers who have to change their ways, while we winners get our status quo "American way of life" preserved in every detail (unless we want to change, in which case everyone else should just move over pronto).

So comforting then, to have "won" the Cold War and not have to struggle with that infernal New Math any more!

Avast ye Venn Diagrams, begone ye SQL, it's a nostalgia trip to some chimerical neverland we're pursuing, with no time for anything Gnu, no time for anything "in the future" (like where's that again? -- never heard of it).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thoughts about Bookkeeping

What'll be fun is when some of the smart cookie NGO charities get their books projected in real time.

Make a donation, watch the money go to work. Track every penny if you like.

A "no secrets here" open books policy often makes for good fund raising, plus gives donors bragging rights they might not otherwise have.

However, these same practices might work for a mom & pop coffee shop just as well. Buy a bagel, watch the debits and credits ripple through the system on a wall-mounted flatscreen.

Is the profit margin scandalous? No.

Do loyal customers like seeing a special fund build, so that staff might get some much deserved R&R? Yes.

Per my limited Free Geek experience, I'd say top quality free and open source generic bookkeeping software is still in short supply.

For the NGOs at least, it'd make sense for Foundations to band together and to give them a boost. Pioneer some new designs that take advantage of hindsight, why not?

"Want our millions? Then document your expenses using X" might be a stipulation.

Of course that might get out of hand, if each funder tried to micro-manage which open source bookkeeping application got selected, as a condition for funding.

A more realistic goal is to design and implement systems capable of generating the kinds of feedback requested by each funder. That might include a growing archive of videos, with donors getting special access rights.

Don't be afraid to tell it like it is, only to see some backers drop away, even as others freshly join and/or step up their involvement.

Not every relationship is meant to last as long as every other. A given funder might relish the one night stand as it were. "Get in and get out, make a difference" is the preferred M.O. (the "pinch hitter" design pattern).

One hallmark of a friendly system is it's good about dumping its data, doesn't interfere with migration to competing systems.

Unfriendly systems count on using the captured data as leverage: "Want out? It'll cost ya."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dissing Quakes

I spent some of my day, between day job activities, mocking Quakers for being such dweebs around technology. Here we are in a futuristic Open Source Capital, with a new cable car and everything, and we don't even have a Mapparium yet (unless Google Earth counts).

So where's the Portland Geoscope gonna be? Or should we have more than one?

The details: our business Optoma is on loan for legitimate business purposes and I'm snarlingly protective, like Sarah on steroids, when so-called Friends come along begging, confiding they don't actually take care of their own young (by investing in said equipment), but instead rely on hand-outs and charity.

Query: how can a religion have claws if it outsources the care and feeding of its own young? Many will say Quakers shouldn't have claws, being all "Peaceable Kingdomy" and like that, to which I retort: don't lions have claws?

On another front, I'm unable to find a power supply for the Toshiba Satellite A60, my WinXP laptop. I've been taking Ubuntu to work a lot more. But if we've decided to go with Visual FoxPro again (my staple for some years now), then it'd behoove me to get that asset back in the game. I'll order a new power supply if I have to [update: I had to].

Enjoyed gabbing with Wanderers today, Bill and I side by side, with our Ubuntu Dells, except he's booting Win98 off a memory stick and home growing an assembly language piano, which worked flawlessly in the demo.

Liz popped up in a chat window, next-gen type that she is, with more cyber skills than even most boomers. Sometimes having Wanderers join in cyberspace is the best one might do, and really it's not half bad that way (though I prefer meeting for coffee at least sometimes).

Related blog post: Quaker Informatics (May 17, 2007)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

BarCamp Alpha

:: Charlamagne Tower room,
Olympic Club Hotel and Theater,
Centralia, Washington ::
"Alpha" has a couple of established meanings in geekdom. "Alpha geek" borrows from "alpha dog" or "alpha chimp" i.e. is a zoological term referring to some species of king or queen of the hill, a bossy mammal (can snakes be alpha?).

But the "alpha" in BarCamp Alpha traces to the other meaning, of "first draft" or "prototype" with lots of built in permission to get it wrong, to make mistakes.

After alpha, comes beta, still expected to contain bugs, not yet a production release ready for prime time.

In this case, our mistake might be the venue, which is somewhat spartan, what with bathrooms down the hall and train sounds at night.

On the other hand, for young professionals it's reminiscent of college, plus some BarCamps are actual camps, more like at Burning Man (an art event) or in the field, like in a tent city for refugees, ala One Laptop per Child, so by those standards these digs are relatively posh.

Portland's CubeSpace is closer to ideal, as an actual meeting space, but Centralia is closer to half way if attracting campers from both the Portland and Seattle areas (hence the name).

There's wifi, there's alcohol.

Personally, I think it's a fine venue, but then I'm already a McMenamins fan.

The theme of this particular BarCamp is: open source in the health care sector, especially when it comes to facilitating outcomes research.

The idea may at first seem oxymoronic, given the inherent confidentiality of patient records, but one of our goals is developing open source pools of accurate case histories, scrubbed clean of real patient identities, yet useful for research purposes.

Besides actual data, research and teaching hospitals might also share, and collaboratively develop, clinical table schemas (registries) plus interfaces for populating them (front ends) plus share techniques for reliably gathering data at the point of care, and in ways that don't interfere with a hospital's primary care giving responsibilities.

The funds raised for these projects should pay for design and implementation skills, not so much for basic development tools, as the latter (Linux, MySQL, Python... Mozilla) have already been paid for and contributed to the global ecosystem as shared assets, under the various open source license agreements.

Relevant presentation: What is Open Source? (PDF)


Friday, September 21, 2007

Another Cube

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Executive Toys

No cube or corner office is complete without an assortment of executive toys.

Some of these disassemble into a surprising number of parts, disconcerting for the job interviewee perhaps, if fiddling absently, but there's information to be gleaned from such events.

In the foreground, CubeIt! from Huntar disassociates into 24 magnetic Mites, though only a few insider cognoscenti have any idea what that means (so why not flaunt your knowledge, if you're a high powered exec?).

The five "flippy balls" are even more obscure. Spin them in thin air, and they flip to the other color, a kind of jitterbug action (more esoterica).

That sculpture in the background is no way a toy. That's Barrel Tower, a Kenneth Snelson original and gift from the artist.

I'm bullish about my cube.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More Curriculum Writing re MVC

(click pic for larger view)
The innovation here is putting an end user in the picture, both "for real" and as a figment in the model, i.e. as the "modelled end user" (or users as the case may well be).

Modeling its users is part of what a model should be doing, as a part of its job of persisting state. And no, I'm not just talking about delegate avatars per Second Life and Active Worlds. A user model might be quite primitive, as low level as "logged in" versus not.

By this way of thinking, a user-controlled change in view needn't involve the view subscribing to the controller directly, as the model itself is made aware of some end user's change in preference (through the controller), so that next time the viewer polls, or otherwise gets notified of state changes, the view is refreshed accordingly.

Adding the end user, in other words, turns this MVC picture into a classic feedback loop of cybernetics fame.

The end user steers and fine tunes the model in response to what the model is showing (or maybe how it smells? -- this user has a big nose and the viewer looks like a funnel).

Of course this diagram makes no judgment as to the suitability of the model for the task at hand, i.e. some closed loops like this become dead ends -- which is why it's important to get your head out of your model from time to time (which is your freedom, as a human being).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Catching Up

I'm running behind in my study of TurboGears on Safari, using the impending switch to Pylons for undergirding as an excuse to tred water.

CherryPy is certainly worth learning, along with the Kid templater. Per the Kusasa discipline, I'm not one to shy away from mastering these kinds of tools (some of the heavier metal sort, I do shy away from -- working on it, getting pro help).

Tracking those orbiting lunar probes (Japan's project), wondering what they'll discover.

Fine Grind has updated its lighting to sweet effect.

I sat next to "rodeo girl" Gayle today after Meeting, jawing with Ron about a topic Ron knows the most about: motorcycles. Gayle has this feminist angle, whereas I'm the proud rider of TinkerBell.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dough Stories

The goal of teaching fiscal responsibility, by giving my daughter the use of a debit card, proved expensive when the card hit bottom, but without overdraft support. Doh!

The bank reversed some of those penalties, plus extended more credit, in the form of a new DWA credit card in my name. It pays to know your small business banker.

I'll redesign the overdraft picture, probably by offering it in-house, like she needs to keep a $200 minimum (a cushion, like an air reserve on a scuba tank (they still have those right?)).

It's not like Tara did anything wrong, just that I didn't feel like sharing keys to the control panel (I'm kinda proprietary in that way), and so she had no easy/quick access to a transaction history (yes, there's keeping a check book, and yes, there's banking on-line).

A friend and I bought new prayer flags today, for the back yard. The older ones, blown down recently, are enqueued for ritual burning.

A paycheck came in today, which is good as we were running beneath the surface.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September PPUG

We had a far out convergence of Pythoneers this evening @ CubeSpace, Portland. Our four lightning talks, two of them mine, were most illuminating: tux droid; my EuroPython experience; PyFlakes; PIL.

Ruby folks are holding a dojo in the same space, with their own screen and projector facing the other way. About 16 of us, 4 of them, lots of friendly banter.

Jeff is moderating, inventing process as he goes (resourceful guy).

The Intel guy's PIL work is about a robot detecting orange traffic cones. He projected some source code for smoothing and separating the R, G & B channels, with some simple arithmetic to detect orange.

Earlier today: just a light gym workout, mostly on the elliptical. I had 10 flatscreens within view, 9 illuminated, running 7 distinct programs.