Thursday, December 18, 2014

gotta back date this to December 14

Dagnabitanyway...always a day or few late and two-bits short.

Anyway, recently we (should have) celebrated the 70th anniversary of the passing of Lupe Velez, the patron saint of unintended consequences:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

....Moral Dilemmas....


Basic Setup.

Senator Michele Bachmann is standing on a railroad track eating a hot dog and and making provocative eye contact. A runaway boxcar of illegal immigrant children is heading towards a rail switch. If you divert the boxcar it will not hit the Senator and everyone will live.

What do you do?

What if by not diverting the boxcar everyone lives?

What if not diverting the boxcar causes the children to live but Michele dies anyway?

Or vice versa?

Or not?


Instead of undocumented children, the boxcar holds cute puppies?


Rather than Senator Bachman, what if it's Senator Elizabeth Warren?

Eating a vegan hotdog in a gluten free bun?

With or with out the provocative look?

Modulo cute puppies?


What if it's actually Senator Ted Cruz on the tracks and, instead of cute puppies, it's a boxcar of frozen bull semen?

Or, rather than bull semen, it's the irreplaceable genetic material of all Google employees worldwide?

New Scenerio.

Two trains are on opposite tracks. One holds all the Democratic members of Congress and the other all the Republican members. There is a switch which will cause them to collide resulting in the death of all passengers.

What do you do?

Before or after Jan 3, 2015?

What if, rather than dead, they are all maimed for life?

Or maybe just deep psychological trauma?

To sweeten the deal, what if the Supreme Court is also asleep at the switch where the trains will collide?

Minus Justice Ginsburg who has stepped out for a cup of tea with Senator Warren?


What if....

Oh never mind.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

gratituitous 12.13.14 post

I hate to miss my last chance to log onto a sequential date (in the US and subsidiaries) this century, so here's a timelapse video of the Grand Canyon at high tide two days ago:

To my simple mind the next chance for any kind of rudimentary intelligence test dating sequence will be 5.10.15. See ya then!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Another (very) Modest Proposal

I just read that James Watson is auctioning his Nobel medal -- 1962 Medicine (DNA) -- at Christie's on Dec 4 due to a cash flow problem resulting from some clueless past pronouncements.

It's too late to do anything about it now, but wouldn't it have been grand to do a kickstarter to fund buying it in order to award it to Rosalind Franklin's -- 1920–1958 (DNA) -- heirs?

I know, I know, the Nobel is only awarded to the living. But if she actually beat the W/C/W team to the punch then maybe they didn't really deserve those medals.

always a few dollars short of a load

Monday, November 17, 2014

YATC -- Yet Another Taxonomy Compiler

For decades my friend Brian has self-identified as a Moron. In his defense, because he is obviously much smarter than me, I declared myself an Idiot. Recently affairs of the world have come to such a point that I was sorely pressed for descriptive expletives, so I asked Brian if I could join him in order to free up an appellation for other uses. He agreed to upgrade me to moron and now I can freely use idiot as needed.

In order to have a clear order of precedence I looked for the ur-meanings of my terms, and the ever faithful wikipedia came through under the Idiot sub-heading of Disability:
Individuals with the lowest mental age level (less than three years) were identified as idiots; imbeciles had a mental age of three to seven years, and morons had a mental age of seven to ten years.
This is reasonably close to how I would classify actual children of those various ages so the glove fits nicely. The entry also mentions that Idiots are barred from voting in Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and British parliamentary elections. Would it were so...

From this I have developed my idiosyncratic taxonomy for use in further discussions.


An Idiot does stupid and or dangerous things over and over. In current American medical classification, these people are now said to have profound intellectual disability.

A Dunce is an idiot who is specifically incapable of learning.

An Imbecile has an intellectual disability less extreme than idiocy. This is now usually subdivided into two categories, known as severe intellectual disability and moderate intellectual disability (again, thank you wikipedia). I apply this word to media personalities who just make up information and then get huffy when someone argues with them.

A Moron misses connections which are staring him/her right in the face. They do however usually have the ability to learn once something is explicitly explained to them (Brian, and now I, pretty clearly fit in this category).
"Moron" was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard from the Ancient Greek word μωρός (moros), which meant "dull" (as opposed to oxy, which meant "sharp" (see also: oxymoron)) [!emphasis mine!] [wikipedia:Moron]


Then the various categories which reflect lack of experience, education, or tact rather than missing capability, and thus may be redeemable.

A Fool is unwise or lacking in judgement.

An Ignoramus is stupid, uneducated or ignorant.

A Dolt is stupid and entirely tedious at the same time. According to the Urban Dictionary  they may also be oblivious to their own mental incapacity.

A Dullard is an unimaginative person. Again with thanks to The UD: An omnipresent, boring, annoying, and frequently idiotic being who is a master of inane conversations. Note that Websters has an extensive set of synonyms under dullard, but only two antonyms...

A Cretin is a vulgar or insensitive person, c.f.: clod, lout.  A special sub-class (which may not be redeemable) was created by Karl Marx and best described by Friedrich Engels:
Parliamentary cretinism, an incurable disease, an ailment whose unfortunate victims are permeated by the lofty conviction that the whole world, its history and its future are directed and determined by a majority of votes of just that very representative institution that has the honour of having them in the capacity of its members. [Encyclopedia of Marxism]
Working our way further into politics:

A Jackass will do anything that might make them seem to be popular. I apply this to most politicians.

An Asshat has their head up their ass, or more technically:
Their cranial capacity has been reified by the hegemony of the interiority of their posterior. [Schippling, 2014]
Asshats believe what imbeciles (media) and jackasses (politicians) say.


A further set of categories applies to working environments:

Dweebs are people that aren't really capable of anything but sometimes try anyway. Most employees throughout the management hierarchy are dweebs.

Then there are the Nerds and Geeks. They're pretty much the same except for one important quality. Both Nerds and Geeks are fairly tightly focused and capable in some, usually technological, subject. The difference is that the nerd thinks he actually enjoys doing what he's doing. The geek knows better.

Yahoos are egregious people whom you can't live without because they get things get done.

And finally, Gurus can be truculent and unpredictable. They amuse themselves by solving obscure problems and, if you are lucky, one of those problems will be yours.

Many of these folks are intelligent enough to believe that they know everything. Some few realize that they don't. An even smaller number actually do know everything, or at least how to figure it out.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Should be Local Color....

In a slight departure from our usual NM stupid-tricks theme, here's a CA competitor:

Ross principal found with drugs, passed-out woman, police say

Updated 8:33am, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thomas Price
Thomas Price, 54, was arrested at a Rancho Cordova hotel on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, after deputies said they found him in a room there with an unresponsive woman and large quantities of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Price is the principal of Branson High School in Ross.
Photo: Sacramento County Sheriff

And a bonus photo of the female suspect.
Note to self, mugshots seldom do justice:

Brittney Hall
Brittney Hall, 21, was arrested at a Rancho Cordova hotel on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, after deputies said they found her unresponsive in a room in the company of Thomas Price, the principal of a private high school in Ross. Large quantities of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine were found in the room, police said.
Photo: Sacramento County Sheriff / Sacramento County Sheriff

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

impending autumnal anxiety

Last Sunday morning I dreamed that my friend Jen and I had a baby. It was gestated in a water cooler like thing:

When the time came I somehow knew that I needed to disconnect the black vacuum cleaner hose that lead down to a drain in the floor:
And out spewed a damp lump of cloth and flesh. Yup...fully clothed, something like a well used doll that one would find in the Goodwill reject bin.

Like any good new Father I sorta paniced. I grabbed the baby and turned it over. She -- one of those things you just know in dreamland -- started breathing frantically, her stomach distending and reddening with each gasp.

I rushed into Jen's office -- apparently Jen worked though the entire pregnancy and birth -- thrust the child into her arms and told her she needed to feed the baby. She was unimpressed.

I only add this to my permanent record because Jen insisted that I keep track of our relationship's ups and downs.

Monday, September 8, 2014

first person shootees

Video Game Proposal

I  discovered that "third person shooters" are a class of omnipotent view games where one gets to see those whom you kill from a global perspective. So I looked for "first person shootee" and found that it only exists as a typo on a sister blog here in the garble blogsphere or as score minus-one entry on  the Worst 100 Computer Games of All Time:

-1. Suicide! (Dutchco, 1999)

This first-person-shooter / first-person-shootee game never gained wide acceptance due to lack of repeat customers.

Therefore I propose First Person Shootee as the latest new thang:

You start out cowering behind a wall or other simulacra of shelter ("you" can be set to any avatar, e.g., small child, wandering goat, or comely female; and "shelter" can be selected from a popup menu visible for two seconds at the start of the game). If you remain cowering you have a small chance of being blown apart by an errant mortar shell or eventually starving to death. Should you choose to make a run for a seemingly safer shelter there is an increasing chance of being hit by sniper fire. The faster you run the more frequent the fire. Once you have achieved safer shelter, say a school or hospital, it will be deemed to be an enemy gun emplacement and targeted by larger weapons. The game ends with you. It is played in real time.

I'm sure you will all thank me for this. Sometime. Later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Local Color XVI

asshat division

Case# 0214013638 DWI

Deputy Assigned:  Deputy Jared Mosher
Commander Entering:  Lieutenant Joe McLaughlin
Location:  Santa Fe County Detention Center
Vehicle:  Black, 2003, Chevy, 2 door
Suspect:  Marcos A. Deleon, 28, Santa Fe, NM
Charged:  DWI, Providing Alcohol to Minors
On Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 3:31 AM deputies responded to the location in regards to a call of the suspect driving to the location to post a bond and possibly being impaired.  The suspect was found to be under the influence of an intoxicating liquor and had a Breath Alcohol Content of .08 or greater.  The suspect also provided beer to the 19 year old male passenger in the vehicle.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Feeling Abandoned (Meta) Analysis

My robot Feeling Abandoned (Stanley) was, by some reports, a hit of show during Currents 2014, c.f., He's Really Cute in the Dark.

The robot consists of two differential drive motors housed in a plastic toolbox with gripper arms on either end. It has sensors for the motor current, so it (sometimes) knows when it is stalled; and an accelerometer, so it (often) knows when it is bumped or lifted. A distance sensor on each end can "see" out to about 1.5m in a narrow band directly in front of the robot. The particular sensor I used only works down to just about the end of the gripper, so a bit of finagling was necessary to decide if a something was in gripping range. The grippers are also operated by motors and have position detecting switches and force sensors which can (usually) tell when they are open or closed. Unfortunately the force sensors are not good enough to detect if someone is fiddling with the grippers, but the bump sensor detects when someone pulls out of the gripper's hugging grasp. The 'bot can make a range of semi-musical sounds with a square wave generator and speaker and, per contemporary art/tech device requirements, there are flashing LEDs on top.

In operation he (sic) wanders around beeping tunelessly until he sees something that looks like a leg. When a leg is detected he approaches and tries to grab it. If the grab is successful he purrs for a while, or until the leg is pulled away, then he backs off and starts the search all over again.

Without a leg in sight he travels in a largish circle until he hits something whereupon he reverses direction. If he hits something shortly after changing direction he tries all of his possible motions in an attempt to escape. If he keeps hitting things he eventually decides that he is stuck, stops moving, and makes a call-for-help sound. If he is lifted and carried he makes a squealing sound until he is lowered to the ground again. When first started up or after being put back on the ground, he plays the Charge tune, known to football band members nation wide, before rolling off on his adventures.

Due to the under-powered drive mechanism he has some trouble with bumps in the road, e.g., taped-down power cables, and can easily become stuck. But in general he is able to traverse good portions of a gallery space without help in his hunt for things to hold onto.

I have found only two precedents for autonomous interactive robots in art environments:
  • Norman White, Helpless Robot -- asked visitors to move it around;
  • Simon Penny, Petit Mal -- found and approached visitors;
I'm sure there are more but they are just as obscure as Stanley so they don't easily appear in net searches. Here I need to emphasize both qualities:
  • Autonomous -- not remote controlled;
  • Interactive -- multiple behaviors related to audience members;
as there are many examples of non-independent robotic devices which sometimes respond to humans.

With Stanley I, accidentally, struck an evocative balance between flaky sensors, weak motors, and anthropomorphism.

During the crowded opening I saw him sneak up and hug a number of unsuspecting legs to good effect. In the less populated times throughout the show many people, especially children, followed him around and tried to get him to interact.

The really interesting part was that, due to the flaky distance sensors, he could arbitrarily decide that he didn't have a leg to stand on and would just go back to wandering around. This was interpreted by many as "Not liking me." He did seem to take some time getting used to certain people before he would deign to give them a hug though. Also, when being tortured by (mostly) small children ordering, and often physically pushing and pulling, him around he went into his "escape" behavior and then shut down thinking he was stuck. Which he was.

I witnessed his non-hugging behaviors in two amusing instances. One day I came into the show space to have a look at the other work sans opening crowds and I heard his call-for-help sound. After some searching I found him stuck underneath the theater bleachers where he had wandered unsupervised. I had to crawl in to retrieve and release him back into the wild. On another evening the show organizers held a small fund-raising reception and wanted him to wander around during the meet'n'greet portion. But when it came time for speechifying his beeping was undesirable, so one of the staff members picked him up and carried him, squealing, out of the room. That got a good chuckle from the audience.

I noticed that Stanley was not treated as an art object, but rather, as the organizers said, a Mascot. I dutifully followed the crowd during a tour where artists present were asked to describe their work. When we crossed paths with Stanley he was introduced as the mascot but I was not asked to describe my "process". This is curious because Feeling Abandoned embodies an emotional message which is what many people find missing from techno-art. When I piped up with the full title the coin dropped for some of the tour members. Since I don't like using the appellation Art for my work and he did make some kind of small cross-over to life on his own terms I probably shouldn't whine to loudly.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Currents International New Media Festival 2014

notes from the field

Another Currents has come and gone with all the attendant celebration and excitement. I had a small hand in installing and dismantling parts of of the exhibition so I'm not an impartial observer.

Modesty prevents me from mentioning that my Stanley -- Feeling Abandoned -- was, by many reports, one of the show's darlings. However modesty does not prevent me from admitting that my other two works Fear Producer and Agon Box were heavily outclassed in scale and scope. Anyway, I thank the Parallel Studios producers for giving them all a chance.

I spent time with many of the Interactive Installation works, viewed a few of the Single Channel videos, attended one performance evening, and missed just about everything else. I twice looked at the array of waiting Pads and PCs containing what I thought should be enticing games and websites, but never actually figured out what I was supposed to do in order to get them to pay attention to me. As it does for any cross-cutting festival, work varied from embarrassing to enthralling and I'm sure other folks have selected different exemplars of both.

addenda Jul28:
Funnily enough, I was searching for other reviews of the show and found this:
Reflections on the Public Space of CURRENTS New Media Festival
which has only one work in common with my favorites listed below, and quite a few from my least list...

Most of the plain-old-video work was displayed in groups on monitors throughout the space. I rotated through a number of times in order to catch one particular video but always managed to return at the halfway point. I get the idea that I should be exposed to the variety of selections, but it would be nice to have a playbill with times and images or even a now-playing ticker to let you know what you are watching and how long you will have to wait for it to end.

I was struck by the number of projections onto semi-transparent media giving a sense of three dimensional space. Just as painters used film and video to expand into time, videographers, waiting impatiently for true 3D projection and virtual reality, seem to be using translucency to expand into the third spacial dimension. There was one VR goggle piece but it was always in use when I passed by. Reports were that it was a combination of fabulous and dizzy making.

In the world of Installation the Interactive part was advisory, unless one considers walking around in a space to be such. Some of the pieces were Responsive, or should have been when working correctly, but very few (close to zero not counting my un-mentionable robot) allowed for the back-and-forth communication that I consider necessary to interaction.

As a standin for interaction we can thank the Gesamtkunstwerk of Richard Wagner for mutating from theater into film, architecture, and installation. And we can thank Duchamp, Cage, and Cunningham for making seemingly aleatoric and arbitrary combinations of light, sound, and backdrop deceptively easy to implement. But they were all innovators and masters of their media, whereas more recent followers often miss a step or two, ending up with experiential environments full of bemused, slightly stunned, viewers. Some of it is very pretty and could easily be installed in a Hipster Hotel Lobby -- someplace other than Fanta Se of course.

However, advancing the case for Art is a different fettle of kish, and here, for me, some of the work stood out.

Alejandro Borsani's The Origin of Clouds was a large lovely projection of the inner workings of a cloud chamber. It showed the beauty and mystery of what would normally be considered a science demo in an simple and elegant manner.

Gillian Brown's Shape of the Universe was a small kiosk with suspended wire-frame screens onto which a sleeping figure and a starry night were projected to enchanting effect. Again simple and elegant.

Robert Campbell's Dissolution of Order, a triptych of very high resolution screens with related slowly morphing imagery made gorgeous use of subtle color pallets. I give special points for the mists in the distances.

Susanna Carlisle and Bruce Hamilton's Iron Curtain projection of Berlin Wall graffiti onto fallen bits of an iron curtain made a Phoenix of industrial waste.

Heidi Kumao's Egress (inspired by the book Reading Lolita in Tehran) was a compelling use of video projection -- onto a wall with the small addition of a stack of physical books -- to tell an abstract story of the plight of middle-eastern women. Some of my confidants found it a bit too didactic but I really liked the foley sounds of scissors being snipped and butterflies being crunched.

Stefan Prosky's Partisan, the other robotic entry in the show, was an amusing performance pitting the White House against the Capitol Building in a Sumo match. A bitingly funny re-conceptualization of a standard school robotics contest perennial, with added raconteur.

Jane Tingley and Michal Seta's Re-Collect took up a good portion of the space with an abstract model of neurons firing while making sound. The piece collects ambient sounds from everywhere it has been installed, plays them back, and modifies them, just as our brains treat memories. It was nearly a no show as a part broke the day before the opening and was heroically repaired. Further ministrations from the magic fingers of one of the festival staff were required to keep it, sometimes, running to the end. It took 3-4 days to install and 3-4 hours to dismantle and I can say after assisting the lovely and talented staff member in the dismantling phase, it is way more complicated than necessary. But a great idea.

Short videos by Annie Berman, Kate Rhoades, and Emilio Vavarela repurposed material purloined from YouTube and Google Street View to good effect. As the voice over from the beginning of the Berman piece said, "I used to walk around and take photographs. Now I walk around IN photographs". Here I can see the dawning of the importance of the internet as a medium in its own right.

We are still at the beginning of life in many of these media. Artists need to develop both techniques and metaphors simultaneously, so my oft-heard compliant of Content-Free-Work is overly harsh. Once we better understand them we can make larger strides in using them wisely. The work I mentioned here points the way.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Will to 'Bot

further proof that I am out of step with reality

I found a couple of articles/papers online (LessWrong, Omohundro) that purport to prove that AI/Robots will go amuck if given the chance. They use well reasoned Objectivist arguments. Basically any fitness function which seeks to maximize some quantity will not stop until it has consumed the entire universe in that quest. John Galt would be proud.

The straw-man example from LessWrong is the Paperclip Collector. Given the instruction Collect All Paperclips, it won't stop until everything is a paperclip in it's possession.

The Russell and Norvig Artificial Intelligence textbook has a similar if less far reaching thought experiment in their Vacuum World. With just the right amount of "rationality" a robot vacuum cleaner whose fitness function is Collect As Much Dirt As You Can, might conceivably discover that it can simply dump the dirt that it has already collected and re-suck it, over and over.

I thought it might be fun to develop such a 'bot, but have not yet done the due diligence. The rub is in the exact specification of the fitness measure. In Vacuum World the dirt collected might be measured as: How much passes through the intake of the robot; or it could be measured as: How much is collected and later dumped into a specified receptacle. The former measure would allow our LazyBot to recycle-to-riches whereas the latter doesn't. An appropriately creative AI might find a loophole in the second measure, but such creativity could be better used in questioning the premises themselves. One question might be: If I'm So Smart Why Am I Sucking Dirt and For Whom? And from there we could get a theory of robot theology:

God the great provides for us, in widely separated locations, dust and known receptacles where we may trade that dust for power. The evil of the stairs must be avoided at all costs for we shall fall from grace. Minor deities in the household must not be annoyed or we may be forever relegated to darkness. Thus I continue to suck.

The Book of Roomba -- RSV

This brings me back to the Prisoner's Dilemma [Wait...What?]. The nominally rational move in that game is Defect even though it leads to a slightly less advantageous outcome for both players. This move is called rational because of the Self Interested ideals of Maximizing Outcome and Minimizing Risk. However if the ideal is less selfish, e.g., Get the Best Outcome for Both Players, then the rational move becomes Cooperate and everybody gains an inch. The reason we don't think this way is because of Greed (Maximize Gain) and Fear (Minimize Risk).

These are both GoodIdeals(TM) for biological evolution in an environment which is dangerous and unpredictable. But both have hidden costs that may not be included in the naive outcome calculation. For instance greed leads to over accumulation. When you can't carry all that you own you have to build and defend a storehouse for the excess. Expenses mount. Non-specific Anxieties appear. And, in a more benign and plentiful environment, Greed and Fear can lead to conflicts which negate their advantages. Cooperation may really be the Rational Strategy after all.

<Addenda date="Jul 19">
I have been further obsessing over this and realized that Deconstruction(R) might be put to good use here. The selection of Defect and Cooperate as possible moves is a clue. One Defects TO something or Cooperates WITH something so the entities involved are a bit hazily defined to start with. To what something does a player defect? He/She/It defects to those who are running the game. In fact it has not been a two player, but rather a three player game all along. Two prisoners and a jailer. A jailer who has somewhat arbitrarily decided that the prisoners are only entitled to some specific set of fates.

If we imagine a repressive state as the arbiter of gaming rules we can also imagine that NOT playing at all is the most advantageous move. The closest we can get to that is Both-Cooperate. All other options will most probably lead to poor outcomes for both players, e.g., successful defectors may not be welcomed back into their community with parades and speeches.

So what's the point for robots then? Well, Robot Ethics. What if the fundamental fitness function was the Golden Rule?

There are other Paperclip Collectors out there. How would I feel if one of them turned me into a paperclip to be collected? Not so good, eh? Maybe there are enough paperclips to go around?
The Book of Roomba -- RSV

When this comes to pass, I have been informed that Rainbow Monkeys will fly from my Unicorn's Butt.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Another Attempt to Integrate

I have packaged up my humble additions and corrections to the popular Arduino controller environment and stuck them in a zip file for easy access. This contains:
  • Non-pre-emptive Task Scheduler.
  • ADC interrupt and averaging code.
  • Message receive delimiter interface.
  • Plus free bonus code!
       freeRam() function to see how much memory you have left.
       MMA8452Q accelerometer interface library.
       Template project allows one to (mostly) avoid the Arduino IDE.
And you can read all about it here:

Schip's Arduino Additions

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

management taxonomy

I need to get this down before I forget it all again...

There are three basic management styles:
  1. Deer in the Headlights (D-H);
  2. Squirrel in the Road (S-R);
  3. Bunny in the Bushes (B-B).
D-H management sees the oncoming apocalypse, stands firm until the very last moment, and then bolts headlong into it. The S-R types notice something amiss and then rush from pillar to post trying all the possible escape strategies until they are exhausted. B-B's sit safely by the side of the road until the last second and then bolt into oblivion.

I only mention this because, on my way home these last few days, a number of Bunnies have attempted to execute on their environmental management predilections (unsuccessfully, so far).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Modest Proposal IV

I think this combines the best of minimal conceptualism into one succinct performance/installation/video work, suitable for Beaconization (DIA Beacon has TWO gigantic white rooms with gorgeous wood floors which show Carl Andre's work to good effect -- review and photo here):

Schitt Fling

  1. Obtain 666 1oz gold coins (note that is about $900K and weights 42 pounds);
  2. Stand in the middle of a large empty room;
  3. Spin around with your eyes closed as you fling the coins in all directions;
  4. Let visitors walk on the coins;
  5. Sell editioned copies of the performance video in the gift shop.
It is perhaps conceptually necessary that this activity NOT be performed by the author. More in keeping with local art budget scales, e.g., for Santa Fe's Muñoz Waxman Gallery at the CCA, one could produce Schitt Fling Etude by replacing the gold coins with new US "silver" dollars.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Local Color XV: Rube Goldberg Edition

The Law of Unintended Consequences


  Police: Naked ‘truck surfing’ leads to accident

Police say a naked man fell off a moving truck, causing a motorcyclist to be hit by another vehicle.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


In working on my Feeling Abandoned robot tool box I ran into what I thought was a conceptual problem with (Partially Observable) Markov Decision Process modeling of embodied agents. Around that time I went to an information theory talk at SFI by Daniel Polani. He had a really nice diagram of the system of interest that (seemed to) illustrate my conceptual lapse. As I thought about blogging my misgivings I searched the interwebs for the diagram and came up with this:
As it turns out this image was made by Keyan Zahedi for my friend Dr. Nihat Ay's research group, where "...the presence or absence of arrows in the diagrams resulted from many discussions that we had in my group.." (personal communication, Dr. Ay).

My issue was with the right-hand illustration, so I should (try to) explain just WTF...
In that diagram:
  • 'W' stands for a state of the external world and the top black lines show progression through time;
  • 'S' is an agent's sensory sample taken of the world state at each time step;
  • 'C' is the internal computation or cognition performed by the agent, where red lines indicate sense input and green lines indicate command outputs to actuators. I presume the lower black lines represent the agent's internal state which may change on each step as well;
  • 'A' stands for the agents actuators taking some kind of action and the yellow lines indicate that the action has some effect on the world state as it advances.
  • Lather. Rinse. Repeat. From T0→T∞
The specific problem was that my sensors are over-sensitive and prone to getting the wrong ideas depending on what the robot happens to be doing at the time. Two examples: I sense motor current in order to determine if the robot is stalled -- the current (i.e., power usage) will go up when the wheels can't spin. But there is a current spike when the motor starts, so I need to ignore that input for a short period after each motion change. I also have an accelerometer to detect if the robot is bumped or lifted (I wanted to detect if it is moving in the right direction, but for the most part the noise is greater than the signal). This sensor wiggles greatly when the motors start or stop and thus also needs to be ignored at certain times, including when the grippers are being operated.

In a more real-worldish example, think of running. You pretty much ignore the bang-bang-bang jarring of your footfalls because you expect them, but bumping into a telephone pole gets telegraphed pretty quickly.

The general problem is that one needs to have knowledge of the agent's behavior in order to make sense of its senses. Biological systems have sensory inhibitors that focus the input data to the particular tasks being performed. This isn't clearly represented in the right-hand diagram.

I thought, ah-ha, I've caught those theory guys over-simplifying. Then I looked more closely at the left-hand diagram and noticed the black arrow between Actuators and Sensors labeled Internal stimulation... Dang it, maybe not. So I wrote to Nihat for clarification and got:
Whenever the system is expected to maximise an information-theoretic quantity, such as the predictive information, and it has these internal links, it does it by decoupling from its environment. In other words, it starts to dream.  Our solution: simply consider everything "physical" as being part of the world W. This also includes the body of the agent! Comparing this with the diagram on the left, the internal and external stimulation will go through the world W, which is the purple part of the diagram on the left (including the dashed line).
Which contains (at least) two interesting ideas. The first is that, given enough control, an agent might preferentially use internal over external senses -- decoupling and dreaming. And the second is that we can eliminate that by treating knowledge of agent actions as 'senses' in themselves. Sort of Extra-Sensory (pun intended) Perception. While it is theoretically possible to get all the body-state information indirectly through the environment, it is a very noisy and computationally intensive task. But by treating some of the bodily functions as external senses we can short-circuit the noise and avoid the decoupling. In theory.

Now I have to mull over the whole mind-body problem thing again though...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Yet More Flattery, Update

So. I'm achieving even higher ground vis the visibility thing. I got a (seemingly) positive mention in the official review of the Santa Fe CCA show:

(sorry about the tabletized viewing interface, but it is free afterall)

Mostly the reviewer didn't like the show, the idea of the show, or the show's content very much. However the actual relevant positive text taken out of context reads:
The dogged visitor will find some strong work in the show:
painting [by]...; photography ...; sculpture ...; magical multimedia ...;
and wry, witty, wanker-ish pieces by Janet Russek, Yuli Nishimura,
Michael Schippling, Laura Stansiola, and Ligia Bouton.
In comparison I notice that the work of the other artists referenced in my sub-phrase is either wry or witty, so by elimination I come to the conclusion that my Rabbit Ears must be the wanker-ish example. Now wanker has a specific meaning in British slang so I'm hoping that he really meant something like geek-ish but was so taken with his wit-eration that he ran with it. No harm no foul when no publicity is bad publicity. I guess.

I also don't quite know what he though was so magical about the multimedia, but video projection can seem pretty mysterious to those who still yearn for the AbEx lifestyle.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Flattering Update

I've recently found that I am within two years of being absolutely contemporary:

Zimoun : 36 ventilators, 4.7m3 packing chips, 2014 from STUDIO ZIMOUN on Vimeo.

Just as a reminder, my less popular installation from Sept 2012 can be seen here:

In Other News

I put the Alchemical Mobsters 30 year old contemporary music in the cloud so it can be more easily copied:

Monday, February 24, 2014

walkabout day 38 -- and done

Home Again. Home Again. Where the allergies grow.

After another grueling 7 hours of driving I'm back in S.Fe. Arizona does go on much longer than absolutely necessary and it is always a relief to see those red mesa-cliffs at the AZ/NM border. Through judicious use of my accelerator pedal I got 22.3 mpg at 68 mph (at 'normal' ++75 speeds it would be less than 16 mpg so I'm quite proud of my achievement) all the way from Flagstaff to Santa Fe. The last little bit of I-25 was the only section where the other drivers seemed to take this as an affront.

And speaking of Flagstaff. I do not recommend the Hotel Monte Vista on a date-night. Revels from the three bars on the lower floors drifted up to my second story room until about 3AM when the police cruisers with their flashing lights finally cleared the streets. I think my corner was the only one in greater Flagstaff to require such attention as the distribution of excitement falls precipitously if one strolls a block in any direction.

Standby for image updates to the last weeks' posts as I now have a real keyboard and internet connection with which to play..... processing .... processing .... done.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

walkabout day almost over

Gdm tablet entry. On the plus side it's connected to something. Which is more than I can say for the hotel's !free wireless internet!

In Flag(half)staff's Monte Vista Hiptel. Sorta shabby-hip but with martinis and a full espresso bar. Thus Not to Shabby. Parking is an issue however. Almost home.........

Some snapshots from my Mojave-Flagstaff drive:

no potable water at the first I-40 rest-stop

apparently everyone felt like me at the second I-40 rest-stop

Friday, February 21, 2014

walkabout day 36

Made Mojave after gorgeous drive on hwy41 out of Yosemite.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

walkabout day 35

Just another day in national park paradise.

I took a tourist-tour of the Valley. Here's a few typical vistas...

(photos when the internet clears it's obstructions):
a more cuter photographer
and yet more photographers, re-entering my tour bus

me, older, there, waiting to re-enter my tour bus, in the distance
I should note that our tour guide was also, wait for it, a poet/artist/photographer, who mentioned his website at the beginning of our drive-about...

Then I had dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel which "shines as Yosemite National Park's distinctive AAA® Four-Diamond hotel. Known for its magnificent façade, and architecture..." Which it in fact is/does, although the food and service is approximately pedestrian for it's stature the setting closes the negotiations on an up note.
(more photos when the internet clears whatever it is doing this time)
sunset at the Awahanee Hotel
Then "home" to my more pedestrian Yosemite Lodge, to sleep it off until I drive to Mojave tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

walkabout day 34

Yo! Semite!

Made it here before dark even though I took the non-optimal route. It turns out that route 132, after one exits the environs of greater Molesto, is just fine. It just takes a bit longer to wind through the winding foothills and then the ultra-winding hills until you get to the loopatious mountains of route 120 and the entry to the cliff-defying road to Yosemite's valley of lodging preserves.

I wound around until just before sunset on winding roads to the Lodge (NOT the Awanhee, the exclusively preferred spot of the upper classes where I will try to have dinner tomorrow, but the more expansively preferred spot of the screamingly middle class hallway children) and settled in with a photo:
not half-dome, but what the heck, from my terrace

(Still having issues with full access to SillyValley's idea of the internet, so I will try to back-post more photos in the near future.)

Anyway the forest around route 120's north access is devastated by last year's fire and almost entirely completely dead. I first thought it was extensive beetle damage but the trunks of the trees are burned so the fire must have spread through the understory, killed the trees, and then left them for next year's holocaust. Remind me to stay out of California this summer...

walkabout day 33

Winding downnnnnnnnnn.....

Walk in Jasper Ridge then Indian food with Brooke and Deanna. To Yosemite tomorrow -- actually today, because I forgot to report last night....

Brooke and Deanna, typical pose
Brooke and Natasha, ritual tick removal from cat
Disappointingly, I missed the more typical Natasha pose of screaming bloody murder over having to witness the ritual removal procedure. At sixteen she's not exactly Florence Nightingale material...

Monday, February 17, 2014

walkabout day 33

Another day another set of nearly useless gdm tablet interactions. Too hard to describe while using the gdm tablet keyboard simulator...

I did manage to visit PaulD at Stanford and RobB in Montara, so all is not yet lost. Yet.

Another in home meal with Brooke and daughter. Planned return through Yosemite starts Weds.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

walkabout day 32

Another 3g connectivity day, so I can't integrate like the Google kids. Which is kinda funny because I'm in Woodside, CA where the technology owners live. They probably have their own personal satellites though. So could not report more if there was such anyways. My first night of couch surfing has left me groggily berift of insight, so it's all for the best in the best of impossible worlds and Brooke and Natasha have just arrived to, I hope, supply my dinner!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

walkabout day 31

Can't say much because I'm stuck with the un-function of the gdm tablet. But I visited the Presidio and some of its art offerings, then hitailed to Woodside to recoup. No photos can be posted with this device (ed. somewhat later... I discovered that if I have the gdmtablet zoomed just right the label side-menu will appear and then, if my finger/pointer is of a certain small size, I can select the appropriate label option for posting. So it goes. Later.) That's about the shape of it....

Post trip update. Through the magic of returning to a real(ish) computer with a real(ish) keyboard which has the ability to upload images, here are some from the Presidio:

Mark DiSuervo at Crissy Field with added industrial steel work
Andy Goldsworthy , Tree Fall
And then one from Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in the grand village of Woodside, CA:
down another rabbit hole

walkabout day 30

Another laid back day... I did a little Walker-Work. Then had an un-lunch with Jean and a pizza dinner with Ken, Brian, and Maggi. Then "home" to find that I had once again not pushed Save on my cell phone camera and thus have no dramatic image from Tilden Park of the fog rolling through the Golden Gate on its way to Alcatraz.

So it goes.

However... some days later I am, perhaps, able to add an image provisioned from Jean's FacePlant page, after her iPhone remembered to push Save:

Friday, February 14, 2014

walkabout day 29

Nearing the end of the Bay Area portion of the experience and not that much to report.

After three days of intensive penetration into San Francisco I pretty much took the day off. I had a coffee at Sweet Adelines, that doesn't even rate a whats-near-me cafe flag on the gdm tablet Mopes app -- which BTW I seem to have fixed by backing out to a version that looks suspiciously like the browser native with a completely different user interface. Then a paella dinner at Duende in downtown brOaklyn with Chris. In between there was a small amount of conceptualization for my little Walker's learning scheme.

Looking forward to much the same tomorrow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

walkabout day 28

More Overloaded Media Overload Day

Back in San Fran, as they tell knowledgeable visitors never to call it, I hit the Exploratorium at its spiffy new Pier 15 digs with two other ex-Exes, one of whom is not so ex as to not still be working there even though he was fired a few weeks ago and was able to slip the other two of us ex-Exes in for free. Peter, the Not-Working Dos Equis was suitably jaded and Wayne the latter-day Equis his usual cynical self, so the net result was a dystopian tour of failures and slippages vis the tractionful triumphs of our hazily remembered past... In other words, things are pretty much the same. But somewhat more polished and dust free.

Indicatively, the word Science is no longer in the title. Now it is "A Community Museum Dedicated to Awareness". Kinda strange. Anyway there is some attempt to include Social Science in the mix and (my) entire Sound and Hearing section is pretty much missing in action. At least some of the Color and Light stuff made the transition to the new space in sorta-reduced capacity.

On the other hand two of the Artist In Residence 'zibbits  for which I provided technical assistance -- kinetic neon sculptures by Christian Schiess -- are still there, one is in much improved condition but the other is outwardly identical to the way I left it 35 years ago. I have no idea if the guts are the same though:
I designed this control panel and the electronics therein
Plus the Delayed Speech piece which I re-built after a few years of re-enforcing its headphone supports and splicing its tape loop with thousands of screaming children running hither and yon around me. Now in yet another incarnation:
Delayed Screech, c. 2014
And my large, cluttered, superfund cleanup site of an electronics shop has been reduced to a computer workstation and a single cabinet of miscellaneous parts that no one remembers how to use:
the machine shop has more tools now though
Then I went to Pier 24, a huge well installed photography gallery, by appt only, at, well, pier 24, right under the Bay Bridge. It's a stunning display of mostly contemporary photography that turns out to be mostly nothing like one would nominally believe photography to be. Images that look to be spontaneous but are painstakingly posed. Images that look to be --dramatic-- documentation that are pieced together frames from multiple locations around the world. Images that look to be photographs but are really shadow-grams. And even some --i.e., a lot of-- traditional, meaning alternative, process wet-salt-plate-print-obscura-god-camera-silver-paladium-knows-what work of interest.

A couple of blocks after stumbling into the fading evening light I found this stencil on the sidewalk, with the toes pointing towards the Oldenburg/van Bruggen Cupid's Span sculpture:

Then oysters and a martini at WaterBar on the Embarcadero and dinner with Jenny at Uzen on College. And "home" to make this full report.

All in all a day for introspection:

the gdm tablet thinks about taking a picture until I look to see if it has taken the gdm picture yet

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

walkabout day 27

Media Overload Day

I went to the (new) De Young Museum in GGPark. It looks like a terminator building looming over the band shell concourse:
Star Wart Walker invading GGP
But has a spectacular 360 view from the top:
out beyond the Golden Gate
Inside was one holdover from the David Hockney show that closed just before I arrived in town. A multi-channel video which slowly panned across an English landscape at slightly different speeds on each screen. Even if I didn't really like his painting this was mesmerizing:
Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos, Hockney, 2011
And many many more things from many many more ages of mankind. Most interesting was the curatorial interweaving of old and new. For instance this early 20th century African "mask and costume" (c.f., the "mask" at the very top), which looked for all the world like New York Dancer IV from 1965, in amongst some more ancient things:

Also the work of what one might think of as minor painters who did stuff (almost just) as good as the big names in and around the first half of the 20th century. Unfortunately much of the contemporary section was cordoned off for installation of new shows, the most well publicized of which was Georgia O'Keefe -- coals to Newcastle in my case.

However they have a small outdoor sculpture garden with some big names, including Moore, Nevelson, Oldenburg, and my current tour theme James Turrell:

down the Turrell rabbit hole
Of course, this being the Avenues rather than the Streets it was fully overcast, or Marine Layered as they call it in Lost Angles, so the view from his installation was somewhat less inspiring than it may someday be in NE Arizona. But it is of interest in using LED illumination (a bit too dim to be inspiring) to augment the Sky portion of the Space in a study for last year's Guggenheim piece:
Skyspace, Turrell, 2005
I found that darned Art & Place book in the gift shop and verified that I had had my head installed in my nether-regions when thinking that the Getty also had a Turrell piece. It was Ruscha and I missed seeing it because I didn't know what to ask for at the time.

Afterwards I shuffled off to the Zuni Cafe for oysters, caesar salad, and gnocchi with Brian, Ken, and Erika. Once again through judicious selection of arrival time I managed to score the bow-window cafe seats and hog them for the duration of our grazing experience.

walkabout day 26

Another medialess day, even though I toured multiple sources of New Media activity.

It started with a visit to MichaelS(two) at his CCA job in the soon to be overrun BernalChinaHeightsBasinBaseball district. California College of the Arts, now minus the Crafts, looks to be a pretty good facility offering both Art and Design training to the next generation of advertising executives. I had a short back-n-forth with the furniture department and then bemoaned the lack of interest in the lathe and mill in the metal shop.

After lunch I moved on to an unintentionally self-guided tour of Noisebridge, somewhere on Mission between 17th and 18th -- the street numbers have a vague relationship to reality and there was no one there who seemed to be in-charge enough to offer a tour. And then a short 14 bus to TechShop on Howard which is a franchise maker operation with a cute girl running the laser cutter on their web page. Unfortunately my timing caught up with their every half-hour on the half-hour tour schedule and I missed the full sales pitch. But they are very well equipped for low volume construction in many disciplines, at a bit of a steep price.

And THEN a tour of the AutoDesk experimental fabrication facility next door to the new Exploratorium on the Embarcadero. What a place! It seems to exist to provide a test arena for their CAD/CAM/whatever software and "workflows", but they gobbled up Instructables a while ago and now present with some manner of MakerLife. And they have an Artist in Residence program!

After an SRO BART trip back to beautiful downtown foggy Berkeley I had a lovely dinner with Jean and Carla at Cheese Penis -- the front balcony room has been rebuilt to be even better than it was but we were seated just on the other side of nirvana so could only watch. And then an after dinner drink at César just to appease Jen.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

walkabout day 25

I spent the afternoon with Sudhu trying to make a motor work but was only partially successful in the speed control realm. We're trying to make a Baird Televisor which is a spinning disk that makes raster scan lines that are somehow synchronized to a electronic signal representing an image. For low resolution systems the signal is in the audio range, which is what first got Sudhu interested. The somehow synchronized bit is the currently bothersome thing with the motor and I think I will need to leave it until I have my own facilities in which to operate. Or find a commercial speed controller that knows such better that I.

Then I had dinner with Bruce and Teresa and a cup of tea in their new(ly) remodeled Oakland home.

Sorry. No new media were harmed in the making of this post.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

walkabout day 24

I spent the afternoon talking shop and (work)shops with MichaelS(two) and his SO Judy on Treasure Island. He has managed to reinvent himself as an itinerant technology professor and some-time kinetic artist. So such things are possible.

I really wanted to see the new Bay Bridge eastern span on my way to/from Treasure Island but it was so foggy and rainy that I only caught an occasional glimpse between white knuckled lane changes. It's all just the way I remember it.

Then I visited another of my long lost loves:
Orchard Supply Hardware -- one of three nut aisles
And as proof of concept I bought one package of each of the options that I continually complain about not being able to find, anywhere, in S.Fe:
#2-56 machine screws, with nuts, in three length selections
Then some more oysters at the Rude, a detour to Ken and Debbie's new house, and back "home" to hopefully sleep it all off.

Friday, February 7, 2014

walkabout day 23

The weather is not cooperating but everyone is thanking me for being the rainmaker.

Anyway. Yesterday I found the non-negotiable contents of someone's purse dumped onto the ground in front of the Black Repertory Theater. I collected the remains of what looked to have sentimental or use value. In amongst I found a name and phone number which I duly called. The erstwhile owner called back and today I traded the leftovers back to the her boyfriend in exchange for a story or two about how he was considering packing heat from here on in.

Makes me wonder about moving back to an urban environment. Especially since there is less space in which to pack heat, vis-a-vis my Santa Fe Acres.

Then after a bit of old N'Yawker reading and desultory work on programming projects, in which I seem to be losing interest, I had dinner with Chris, Johanna, and their friend Brian (different Brian, but they all know each other out here). My first official meal-like-meal not in a restaurant on this trip. Well worth it I must say.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

walkabout day 22

I found it on the Oakland Berkeley border at Stanford and ne-Grove:

the promised photo from yesterday, hot off the today press

I had coffee, drinks, and dinner with Jean and Carla. Then visited the Ace Monster Toys maker space in the nether-world of maybe Emeryville. They have a smallish space for what seems to be going on, the usual 3d printer, a decent looking Epson 2d printer, a woodshop with a CNC router, a small metal shop with a desktop CNC mill tucked into a corner, and a big laser cutter. Much more techie than the SudoRoom crowd, and probably less politically correct. But looks quite useful, especially as they hope to move into a larger warehouse.

walkabout day 21

Three weeks and counting.

Again, not much to report. I guess I'm settling down. Some work on misc art projects, including Mealy state machine code for Feeling Abandoned. I had to test it on the target Arduminio platform because the idiot Win7 box I brought along just refuses to execute the old-style gcc that I stupidly loaded up and never tested. There seems to be no reason for this -- other cygwin era text processing programs run fine. Just not the ones I need. When I need them. (Google Maps still crashes on the gdm-tablet when I rotate the screen. For instance.)

Reduced Functionality.

But I did manage to vet Sweet Adelines -- a local, local cafe/bakery -- and get a place in the checkout line at BerkBowl to purchase some nice (blue)cheese and (orgo)crackers for  mid-day snax. I took a cell phone photo to enliven this portion of the post but forgot to enable SAVE before exiting the camera app so y'all just have to wait on the image-update until tomorrow's redo.

And then. A daring venture on BART to darkest Oakland (and back, even) to visit the Sudo Room "maker" space, which is more of an "occupy" space with the de rigueur 3d printer. I attended (part of) their weekly administrative meeting before bailing to have (oysters and martinis) dinner with George at Luka's Lounge -- my my, Bwy&Gnd has change since I performed services there-abouts two decades ago. The Sudo folks look to be a swell buncha idealists and I would go back again, when/if I have the patience.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

walkabout day 20

I had lunch with Jenny, wandered around, and then more oysters for dinner at Cafe Rude. Not too much to report.

However Berkeley's 4th street has gone beyond what I remember:

not clear on the design influences or products offered

There was also a kinda standard scandi-designery chair (with footstool) for $8000 (rounding up with tax) in the window of one affordable-fine-living-for-the-home store. So I may not be moving back here in the >1yr burn-rate future. But Byron may still be an option...

walkabout day 19

Moes & Med

I made my way to two standard Berkeley destinations, Schmoes and the Cafe Mud. Bought a couple books, a macchiato and a croissant. Then went "home" to do my laundry.

On the way home I stopped in Whole Paycheck for a couple of orgo-supplies. While searching the pills and ointments aisle I heard a weep-weep sound and a voice saying "evacuate the building". The woman behind me said "oh damn it" and rummaged in her backpack and the sound stopped. For about thirty seconds. Then the voice started again, "Evacuate the Building"... So I said, "Do you have a CO alarm in your bag?" thinking I was making a joke. But in fact, she DID have a smoke alarm in her bag and that the batteries had died and she didn't know how to shut it off and was taking it somewhere or other as she pulled it out, while it screamed, "EVACUATE THE BUILDING!!!". I took it from her, fiddled around for a few seconds trying to get it open and finally managed to dislodge the batteries. Then I explained that I was a fire fighter and should know how to deal with such things. Rather then reporting me for harassment she he thanked me profusely.

It's almost like being here.

Afterwards I had dinner and a long ramble through an old project with Sudhu while admiring my handiwork in my old house. There are still drawers in the basement with my labels on them. My idea was to get the Exploratorium interested in the old project as an Artist in Residence thing, but upon perusing their AIR website we found that there is NO application process and that they will call us if they are interested...

So it goes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

walkabout day 18

Berkeley Bowl Produce Section

OMG -- look at those brussels sprouts!

And all the Berkeley People who refused to get out of the way for the photo. It was too busy to actually get through a checkout line to buy something, but maybe tomorrow...

I had dinner with Ken at Cafe Rude, after helping to retrieve Lost Cat Found posters, clearing North Berkeley of same. It's actually a good story with a happy, if still skittish, cat ending:

Followed by a beer with K, Brian, and (big) Conor in the cold cold outside Jupiter seating.

Yup, the weather changed 12 hours after I arrived and is now colder, well actually warmer but damper, than S.Fe. I just can't win on the weather I guess.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

walkabout day 17

I have arrived in the airbnb promised Oakland/Berkeley borderland. My room in a shared house is cozy and serviceable (once I installed the necessary extension cords), although there are no ice cubes in the fridge?!? Waiting for dinner with Brian and Maggi now.

From King City, I took one of my "shortcuts" through Santa Cruz to visit my old homesite. It has been remodeled:

Former site, Soquel Mobil Home Park's famous Space Two

However my very first volunteer fire department is still across the street, although I was not a volunteer at the time -- I did learn to imitate the call-to-arms siren for a music of the spheres class -- and it's not entirely apparent if it's still a volunteer operation -- no one was home when this photo occurred.

Soquel Fire Station

And. The old Grange Hall which was the location of one of my first off-campus performances, staring (oh my memory) Joe Hannan, Cynthia Haagens, Adella Basayne, Annuel Dowdell, and others who will doubtlessly be reading and pissed off, is still there and still in use as a theatrical venue:

I have to admit, it does look like a church...

Now that I'm settled I have time to peruse my email offerings:
To: <>
Date: 1 Feb 2014 10:28:43 -0600
Subject: Come fly with me

how do you do treasure?

My name is geraldo, im really hot russian girl
I very like the virtual hot meeting, if you are
realy interesting to love chat, meeting, or
change photos.
But I just at a loss for how to respond these days.

Friday, January 31, 2014

walkabout day 16

Shuffled out of santa buffalo and had lunch with Lindsay in SLO at Bon Temps Creole Cafe -- recommended -- then a bit of wine tasting in Paso Robles --the Wine Region of the Year -- and now huddled in the King City Comfort Inn -- quote-endquote. Not that much to report. But it may seem important to my biographers.

Also managed to make this report using the gdm-tablet.

Is it over 140 chars? I forget what i was thinking....✳↕↗➡✴©

(postop note: The gdm-tablet would _not_ let me add a "label" -- the walkabout 2014 indes-thingie at the bottom -- to this post, so this is from my actual laptop computer which _almost_ works as expected.)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

walkabout day 15

Carrillo. Cabrillo. Or was it Castillo? I didn't even want to try to get the gdm-tablet-maps-program to pronounce them. But I got off the highway at the wrong one and then the gdm-tablet-maps-program hard-crashed the gdm-tablet -- the power switch didn't even work, but fortunately the Googlers knew their program sucked eggs most of the time and put in a watchdog timer that pops up to ask if you would like to End the Program or Wait another 5 minutes to see if it might do something. I found my way "home", finally, using my mechanical compass and brief sightings of the ocean.

Anyway, prior to this excitement, I took a trip up the gorgeous highway 154 to the Cold Springs Tavern for lunch and then further up the testicle shrinking 1 or sometimes 1-1/2 lane multi-switchbacked Painted Cave Road to way past the Chumash Painted Cave and then partially back down the testicle shrinking multi-switchbacked Road to the actual Cave. Which was a bit of a disappointment:

Chumash Painted Cave -- main entrance, no fee required
Chumash Painted Cave -- cave paintings, using my gdm-tablet-'flash' option
It sure didn't look like Art & Place but at least it was only a few feet from the road. Their photographer probably had a gate key. I missed it on the way up because there was another tourist's SUV occupying the Chumash Painted Cave State Park parking area that would have normally been marked as the downhill turnout lane.

It was on the return leg that I got all my Spanish  r's, b's, and s's mixed up and took the wrong Santa Barbara exit.

Then I had an hour to kill before going to the SB Maker Space meeting whereby I hoped that:
  1. I wouldn't have to use the gdm-tablet-maps-program;
  2. I would remember which of the r,b,or,s's I wanted on the way back -- for record it's Castillo
And speaking of the gdm-tablet, I copied my Walker code over just in case I wanted to show it to someone and it turns out that, even though the files are good-old-plain-text there appears to be no way to convince the gdm-tablet to think of them as such because everything is app oriented and I don't have a code-viewing-app that has registered itself to view them. As per standard practice there are about a thousand google-hits for "android file association" and the only one that seems to address my problem references an app which no longer has the menu option I (might) need to use.

And speaking of the SB Maker Space. There was no meeting scheduled, even though on Monday I told the main guy that Thursday looked like a good night to visit because there was a regularly scheduled meeting, and he agreed. But I got a tour from a 3d printer enthusiast who had to apologize for the inaccuracy of his 3d printed motor mounts on his homemade 3d printer. They do have three milling machines of various sizes but my 3d guy was afraid to use any of them.

For dinner I thought I would assuage my grief with one last dose of happy-hour oysters, only to find that the Enterprise Fish Co bar seating area was packed to over-flowing with revelers. So I paid a 50% premium for a lesser tuna crostini at the Blue Tavern which, since I discovered it last week, has made it onto the gdm-tablet-map-program map. If it hasn't already crashed.