Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Retreat (continued)

I joined the group late, missing the breakfast. Discussions of energy policies continued.

David's take, and he's in a position to know, is that energy companies these days are mostly trying to avoid the capital expense of actually building new generating plants, of any description. They're riding an increasingly decrepit energy grid into the ground, doing their best to prolong its viability by paying major customers, the industrial users, to lower their loads by increasing efficiency wherever possible.

Household consumers take a back seat. Our Sims-like grid management games would have ways to model this strategy. Students need access to such games through their school systems.

Long ago, as a part of the Portland district's talented and gifted program, an experiment was tried wherein kids were exempted from regular classes and bussed to a facility on Marine Drive, where private sector professionals might interact with these students, on the theory that some of their real world experience would rub off. This was maybe like once a week from the kids' point of view? I'm hazy on details.

A weakness of this program was the district administration was pretty strict with the curriculum, telling these not-full-time teachers what activities to provide, mostly computer games. Oregon Trail and Sim City, early versions of both (low resolution screens, not much RAM) were the among the most popular choices.

The games we're brainstorming (storyboarding, looking for realism from energy companies) are in this genre. Whether its grid management (macro-economic) or household management (micro-economic), we're wanting to find segments of the population willing to partner in considering these challenges.

Although my focus is the pre-college classroom in much of my curriculum writing, I'm as interested in giving adult populations access to these simulations, along with more access to realistic global data.

Steve (crystallographer, gemologist) came by and brought up Julian's work regarding double-slit experiments with buckyballs, showing they exhibit quantum effects, as do even larger particles, per a story on NPR yesterday (per Steve). I have Julian's paper in my gmail stash.

Glenn wiped some graffiti off Alpha Helix just this morning, one of Julian's early sculptures, a tribute to one of Linus Pauling's discoveries. People routinely stop to have their picture taken next to it, read the placard.

On a break for a walk around the block, I met up with Elizabeth and David Braithwaite, heading towards a book store. I'd just read Laurie's kind email, remembering Dawn.

Mom and I spoke twice by cell. She wanted to be sure her part time residency was reflected on our census form, still due to go back.

On another break, I checked back with the household. LW was immersed in Native American lore, a Laughing Horse video recording of an elder giving the history of groups in this region, such as the Multnomah.

These groups suffered the consequences of short sightedness and greed sometimes, do not portray themselves as saints, do not over-romanticize. Their Creator would take away core competencies sometimes, until the people repented and buried whatever hatchets.

TU is doing some spring cleaning today. NC, another guest, joined us at Pauling House today, but was not in evidence.

Rad Math Props