Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Day

Oregon has been girding for today for some time.  I didn't have specific plans until my assignment came through to do computer camp in Lake Oswego, not quite in the path of totality (99.4%).

All the kids had eclipse glasses but I didn't.  One of them kindly shared.  The eerie low light (never completely dark, no stars) was likewise spectacular.

We had three classes going simultaneously today, though with only two instructors.  Jeremy was covering both Little Coders and Minecraft Modding, which I consider a feat.

My stint was longer, 9 - 4, but only one camp at a time.

An added stress factor came after camp was over:  my car decided to throw a fit when I tried to start it, sounding the alarm.  I couldn't think of anything to stop it.  Should I call AAA?  After a brief conversation with mom, the Nissan started with no problems.  Weird.

I headed to a nearby McMenamins (John Barleycorns) to unwind and finish paperwork.  That's where I am now, having a Hammerhead and a Dungeon Burger.  I parked in a far corner of the lot in case the car throws a fit again.

Followup: no Torture Taxi tantrum this time; I swung by PDX Code Guild on the way home to Asylum District, in case Flying Circus was happening, traffic light.

Business Accelerator building (2828 SW Corbett) was a ghost town, however.

I made it home in time for all but the first five minutes of the CBS Evening News with Anthony Mason anchoring from Carbondale, Illinois.


After a Tantrum
:: in the corner ::

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Atomic Blonde (movie review)

Wonder Woman remembers the mission, which is to save humanity from corruption by the devil (aka Mars). But in attempting to save us, she has to join the fray, a Joan of Arc figure, with knights ever eager to serve under her command.

Fast forward to Lorraine, two wars later (really one) and now at a signature apex, the convergence of the two Germanys as symbolized by a wall-divided Berlin overcoming its internal divisiveness.

As the opening narrative makes clear, this story explores a violent underbelly of this convergence chapter, through a favored lens when exploring this era:  that of the spy thriller comic book genre. Le Carré uses a similar backdrop sometimes.

Some will raise their eyebrows at my use of "comic book" and ask what's so funny about all that head bashing, more like Streets of New York.

I think because of the superpowers on display, an ability to play these violent games that shows some purpose and intent, not just people caught up willy-nilly in awkward conditioned-reflexing.

The martial arts make for some bloody ballet, with protagonists appearing somewhat in control of their own destinies, more as predators in the know than as helpless victims. They serve and protect the rest of us, if cast as heroes (heroines).

Both Wonder Woman and Atomic Blonde use similar wartime spy thriller motifs, with their focus on Amazons (female warriors).

Rome, Italy, where I was during early Cold War years, was another hotbed of intrigue and secrets, with all the high fashion and flashy cars to match.

I was too young to pose as an adult of any stature, but I soaked up some of that James Bond culture at the English language movie theaters, the Archimedes especially (near Piazza Euclide).

Berlin over ten years later was more into grunge and proto-punk from the looks of things here recreated.  Disaffected youth didn't want to grow up with some Iron Curtain through their psychology.

The Korean DMZ stands out as another Berlin Wall of today.

These spies did not have the Internet, nor much in the way of social media.  The film takes us back to when people used ordinary landline telephones and didn't have to deal with strong encryption.

I most recently saw John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane and couldn't quite shake the idea that this was a flashback to before his retirement to that bunker, just a passing thought.  American dads can be pretty crazy.

Lorriane smokes and drinks and lives a punishing lifestyle, which will catch up with her later.

I was interested to learn that Charlize Theron, who plays Lorriane, is natively Afrikaans with American English her second language (IMDB). I wonder if she knows Yolandi Visser.

I did make it to Berlin before the wall came down, took the tour.  Our train was actually East German, terminating on the east side in Berlin, starting with a ferry trip from Sweden I believe it was. We were unusual for American tourists, not the first time.  Dad liked to plan interesting trips.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Chain Reaction


At first I didn't like that the timer was running even if I'd not signaled my willingness to begin, by punching the green flag.  I'd have the option to turn that off, given the See Inside powers conferred in a copyleft economy.  I didn't write this game, merely remixed it and value added.

The point is to keep going to the next level, by setting off chain reactions that consume tiny sprites. The surface area of the target area is variable and rises as more sprites are consumed, before falling again. You anchor the target initially and then sit back to see if you've won the round, so it's basically a one click per round game, a feature, a kind of minimalism.

Note the timer resets on each explosion. The sprites are all clones of the main ball, which spawns multiple copies of itself, shrunk to 15% of original size.  The number spawned is three more than the level number.  Notice you have less time as the level number rises.  But then more explosions per time unit would be expected.

All in all, I consider this a handsome little game, elegantly implemented.  I'll plan to show and tell about in at summer camp today.  I actually found it in the official handbook, so it's not like I'm straying far from my ken.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Banning Nukes


Portland has joined a lot of cities, as cities stand to lose the most.

The uber-cowards plan to head for spacious luxury apartments in various gated mountain suburbs, there to send out hapless journalists at the point of a gun to see whether Planet of the Apes or 12 Monkeys has come true or not.  In the meantime, they'll eat nachos and swill Bud.

Portlanders don't savor that genre of science fiction as a their real future and so push back, joining a broad alliance of city mayors and others, signalling in the history books we were never on board with the selfish oligarchs.

The oligarchs have various pretenses or ploys they float as trial balloons, trying to gauge the public mood. Recent results have been disappointing from their point of view.  A nuclear conflagration is harder to get started even if the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty is just something on paper.  So are a lot of things "just paper" (like money for example, other entitlements?).

This year, our memorial event (remembrance ceremony) featured a Buddhist invocation, several speeches, and a second indoor event in nearby NW 70 Couch Street.  We were permitted to take pictures, and indeed spreading visualization memes was part of the intent.

I fought rush hour coming home from the day job, where mom was waiting.  My mistake to think the Hawthorne Bridge could be any better, now that Morrison is one way each way, but no way from the east side, short of joining I-5 somewhere north, which is crazy.  But then traffic-wise Portland has succumbed to North America's chief ailment:  addiction to one-driver commute lifestyles (leads to opium addiction, heart disease...).

Usually, with no evening events pending, I don't have to fight rush hour.  I know a friend with a swimming pool just off Boones Ferry, plus have Lake Oswego friends scattered around I can visit.  The game around rush hour is to avoid it completely.  Fortunately the day job starts around noon, and the drive is then typical, at posted speed limits.

Cross references:
2016: Hiroshima Day 
2015: Disarm Day 2015
2013: A-Bomb Day
2010: Hiroshima Day
2007: Remembering... 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Visiting Vancouver


Vancouver, Washington is an important port and way station, a gateway to Oregon. People complain the I-5 draw-bridge is a choke point, however Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick says the studies he's seen point to replacing the rail bridge instead, re-routing trucks to their own deck.

In some simulations, this redesign would do much more to alleviate the problem than replacing the I-5 bridge, especially if people enjoy reading and social media enough to prefer taking mass transit, even high speed rail in some possible futures.

Sam Lanahan has view property overlooking the Willamette-Columbia confluence, though from a safe distance away, which explains the telescope. Freight traffic is fun to watch.  Glenn and I got to see the hexagonal flextegrity table, which Glenn had helped build in my garage, amidst other marvels, on our car trip there today.

For those of you into intellectual history, when Alexander Graham Bell had the command of vast resources, post inventing the telephone, he plowed time and energy into what he called "kites", and which today we might call an "isotropic vector matrix" if into Fuller, or perhaps an "octet-truss" if aware of the patent literature.

Sam's matrix is no mere knock off of Bell's solution as the tension and compression forces get distributed by a different strategy.  However it helps to see it in the lineage of space frame solutions, in this particular family of lattice structures.

In the latest incarnation the basic "brick" is a soccer ball of hard plastic made of six base parts, hence the name C6XTY, all identical, with eight screw-in disks to secure each assembly.

Armature members with their own smaller screws then fix these spherical components in place, creating the Bell-like lattice with the ball centers in CCP or FCC positions, for those of you schooled in crystallography, or willing to watch a few Youtubes.

Standing in the courtyard at his house, Sam had a prime example of the kind of sculpture one might create from C6XTY, given the liberty to explore the IVM "in vitro" so to speak, as an organic pattern.

He's working on and/or commissioning several more examples for an upcoming photo shoot.  My backyard is one of the construction sites.  We returned with a portable gazeebo on the roof of my car. I excavated and removed the brick fire pit to make room for the new work area.

I need to study Quantum Mind again tonight, a book by Arnold Mindell.  You'll find Jungian psychology a recurring theme in these blogs.  I'm thinking Bell, Bucky, Lanahan and others were attuned to resonant frequencies in a collective unconsciousness that surfaces in their cases.  Something deep within us wants to get it out there.  The zeitgeist is making waves.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Leaving Terrebonne

Madras Airfield
:: airfield, Madras, Oregon ::

I'm preparing to jet out of here, with "jet" more a metaphor as I'm driving the Maxi Taxi. Yes, there's an air transport connection from PDX to Redmond, and car rental solutions, however I'm partial to taking my own wheels over the mountain on Hwy 26, then down Hwy 97, through Madras, which also hosts a substantial airport.  I'm thinking ahead, about Earthala, with roots in Terrebonne (Good Earth), science fiction at the moment, though others might call it investment memory banking.

I took down the campsite, and was never far from coffee nor WiFi, so I wouldn't exactly call what I did "roughing it". Rather I was joining over forty others in a memorial service for Sam (my brother-in-law) at Haystack Reservoir, a special place for Sam & Judy, as is the whole of this area, where they've lived since the 1970s, having met in Florida as college students.  I always feel a part of a tribe, an extended family, when coming over here, this time especially given so many reunited to pay tribute (heartfelt complements) to wise man Sam.

Sam's sister Dawn (Carla later) also sought wisdom, as she was much on the same path as her bro. They grew up together in Ohio, Nashville, and later in Satellite Beach, Florida after the marriage was dissolved (Carla stayed with Don). She took the name Wicca, as in Dawn Wicca, to give herself a high bar to live up to, a constant reminder to seek wisdom. She was not establishing herself as a Wiccan per se, a specific invented religion you may wish to read about in Triumph of the Moon, about Gardner and so on.

We're enjoying a global warming heat wave in 2017, with temperatures in Portland staying in triple digits for longer than we're used to.  I don't use air conditioning in the car and like to keep things cool and less trafficked, so chose an early departure time both coming (4:15 AM) and going (6:45 AM).  Carol (mom, 88) is back in Portland with Melody (passing-through house guest).  Last time we came over, Tara joined us.  Alexia came over with Elise, whom Dawn was living with on a horse farm when we first met.  You'll find her elsewhere in this Russian "novel" (in quotes because I'm doing non-fiction here).

Fires are a big fact of life around here.  Orchards burn, other cultivated lands, even homes.  Firefighters can't reverse the irreversible. Mother Nature is not intimidated by humans, even a little. They're her creation after all. Planet Earth has a long history of creatures coming and going.