Saturday, May 30, 2009


:: project earthala, work in progress ::

Recall the early days of CSN if you will (the time of this writing): a sick and twisted bunch was still bullying stoic Americans into no-win situations while the writings of a decorated cold warrior (Medal of Freedom), inventor and designer (architect, philosopher, cartographer), were kept away from most high schools by a jealous gulag professoriate, leaving us vulnerable to nightmare policymaking by these semi-secret cabals of uber-cowards. Not a pretty time.

As patriots, we fought back through self schooling, got ourselves an education despite all the censorship and refusenik anti-intelligence (idiocratic) biases. We formed our own networks, our own underground, complete with esoterica and lore, and CSN was proudly a part of that, helping rescue a great country from the clutches of the mendacious and unwise.

So yeah, it's OK to display the flag now and then, other patriotic symbols. That "Don't Tread on Me" snake is a favorite, ties in with our Cult of Athena theme (meme), given Athena's protector. Even if you're not an American, you're likely better off now that we're emerging from tyranny, have regained the freedom to teach our own heritage, make our own history.

USA Flag @ PDX

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Local Politics

:: campaign to save cubespace ::

I'm uploading this picture from The Oregonion courtesy of Rick Turoczy's sharing through Twitter, geeks raising $5K in 24 hrs to save their office, upper floor of a bank building, devoted to coworking.

This is apropos CSN as our initial announcement of the 2012 release date took place in this venue, during a PPUG meeting.

This doesn't mean our talent can't be recruited from around other water coolers, but in terms of our story, as getting going in the original home of the Silicon Forest (East Portland), it makes sense to include this piece of it.

I joined a small meeting at Acker & Associates this afternoon, near PSU, got to explain the CSN idea in some detail, though what I was signing was not related. Then we repaired to Bread and Ink, home of the original Hawthorne Fred Meyer's. I was treated to pan fried oysters and two pints of ESB.

I shared more of our plans for world domination, a perennial geek topic, and bragged about my friends, both XX and XY (female and male). That's what marketing is, a lot of the time, plus picking up on hints, little bits of advice.

And now for something completely different, from today's NASA lore on Phantom Torsos (used to compare computer models to reality regarding radiation dangers in space), the piece by Pat Rawlings/SAIC:

:: distant shores ::

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memo from Richmond

:: fine grind and environs, Hawthorne District, Portland ::

Running an art café in Portland takes G&G (guts and genius) of a certain kind, the hard work of sustaining working relationships, with vendors, artists, a staff, your customers, perhaps a back office. Not just anyone is cut out for such work. I'd probably last about a day?

Portland's business community prides itself on weirdness, especially here in 97214 around Hawthorne, the birth place of the Silicon Forest in some ways. We're home to some of the finest coffee shops in Portland: Common Ground, Chance of Rain, Fresh Pot, Pied Cow, a Starbucks and Peet's on opposite corners, plus a spanking new one just around the corner from Linus Pauling House, which I still need to check out (stay tuned).

When you're ready to jump in, I recommend Fine Grind as the perfect place to get the flavor of our homey yet cosmopolitan neck of the woods. I started going there when it was still called Wired, then watched Jody and her staff take it to new heights, then turn it over to this highly qualified (partially overlapping) team.

Keiko hails from São Paolo, loves life in a big city (Santa Barbara too small) and finds Portland fits that description (without the dreary uniformity of Miami say, with mostly chain stores). Yes, she knows about the whale.

Keiko works with Joe, a veteran of the Portland art scene, to bring some stellar, truly collectible pieces into our neighborhood. We are blessed.

Even if you're a professional gallery or sister café, don't feel shy about checking out this hub of activity. Compare notes, pick up some ideas. Help us keep Portland on the map as an art capital, not just a music capital.

From my perspective
, Fine Grind continues to feed the "CSN grid" with memes and dreams, weaving into the mix, adding to our collective joy. It's clearly a philanthropic endeavor, a source of good will, a cornucopia.

If you're wanting to sharpen your Japanese, consider joining their language circle. Richmond school's nearby Japanese immersion program might mean some parents need practice. Keiko writes, of their meeting on May 6:
In this second meeting, as suggested, we will prepare a short introduction about ourselves and home (“katte”) and/or tell a story about a trip (“ryoko”).
Her Portuguese is even stronger than her Japanese, so that's another circle to consider. We need these all over town, in many more languages. Portlanders take lots of trips, have coffee shops to share them in, potentially (Costello's has a travel theme).

Speaking of community, this just in from Kimaster George:
HOTLIPS Pizza has pledged to donate 100% of their revenue for June 21 to energy-saving improvements in their store (hopefully solar panels, if we get enough money).
I presume he means the one on Hawthorne. This is a CarrotMob Project, something coordinated through Facebook. More details to follow.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hypertoons from CSN

If you're not averse to having an LCD running some ambient geometry in the background as a way to jump start your brand, we have some FOSS for ya, but you'll need a geek or two to install it and boot it up, or maybe you're a geek yourself. I'll write as if you were...

Grab and install VPython
from Carnegie-Mellon or one of those, then grab my hypertoons generator, deposited at 4Dsolutions (we're like your memory bank of cool toyz).

If you want a podcast to preview, Synergetics on the Web has an example (narrated), or check YouTube for more.

Hypertoons are looping animation tracks with a network structure, such that you'll segue differently based on Python's pseudo-random number generator.

A hyper-audio track (matching or on its own) would be a logical next feature, feel free to start a project pointing back to its root. This isn't a visualizer, so don't worry about infringement (not a screen saver either -- wouldn't matter if it were).

You'll maybe be able to make your own hypertoons eventually, but for starters this starkly geometric one serves a didactic purpose (teaches philosophy), is family friendly -- is even interactive if your setup allows for controls.

You'll need some way to run Python. Maybe slave an XO to a ceiling mounted computer projector and shoot against some opposite wall?

I've not tried this particular option, am not sure if Vpython runs on an XO-1, plus why waste a perfectly good laptop for such a primitive purpose? Some junker with a gig of RAM oughta do the trick. Free Geek has those by the boat load (thx!).

Note: there's a stereo option but you'll need the special "glasses".

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More on T-Shirts

Remember you're free to sell beer shirts, especially these animal type ones, without having to market the beverage itself (think "gift shop"). Or you might have one brand in a can, packed in by grad students (grateful to be here).

Once you commit to beer, you'll attract a more ornery crowd that wants stuff "on tap" which means casks, refrigeration, a lot of infrastructure. Just point them to the beer joint down the street with a polite "this is a coffee shop sir and/or mam".

On the other hand, we love beer in PDX and if you feel equipped in that regard, don't mind lots of loud people, many of them politicians, then hey, go for it. Just be aware that Coffee Shops Network is not directly competing with sports taverns, as I've previously spelled out. We may also allow water pipes, although maybe not in the United States any time soon.

Yes, I know "more on" rhymes with "moron" -- get over it.

Thx to pirate TC for the images, from his personal collection. We had lunch under the Bagdad marquee, all seats sold out for Tom Robbins, author of Jitterbug Perfume and other favorites. "A smile flickered to her lips like a seagull flying out of a bowl of tomato soup" is one of his I remember.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lunar Coffee Shop

Wake up and smell the coffee -- on the Moon!
Science @ NASA, 2009.5.15

Given the high tech origins of our baked goods especially, it's not surprising we're thinking ahead. Depicted above, an artist's conception of a power source for coffee making (and other activities), designing for the NASA brand.

You'll note in the article that Stirling engines get used for power generation, a project my friend Andrew Frank has been working on right here on Planet Earth.

These are days of hard work for the NASA team by the way, Hubble's last makeover.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rogue Nation Party

Those of you not familiar with Oregon won't know about our Rogue Valley and Rogue Ales, of which we're proud. There's been some talk lately of Rogue Nation as another name for Oregon, playing off our pirate heritage (Portland a FOSS capital, home of the Pirate Festival in St. John's).

In terms of decor, lets go with esoterica, per usual. As an aspect of foreign policy, I'm focused on Washington, D.C.'s role as a money funnel (aren't we all)? The sitting Senate in that distant city (not really a part of the Union?) has just approved $30 million for better air traffic control equipment in one of the "stans" (Kyrgystan). What were they thinking?

Continuing to dump fuel and equipment into that region with no stated goal other than to violate Pakistan's territorial integrity (another invasion!) and suppress religious freedom, while looking for handouts on the international lending circuit seems unsustainable, but that's why this is fun: let's watch all the clowning around, now that the spotlight is on 'em.

What will the pundits say?

There's not even a Coalition of the Willing this time, just a few scattered think tanks with funny faux thinkers (this should be good). Remember all that hoopla about Georgia?

I've seen the "drone piñatas" and think those will work. I suggest superhero literature scattered around, some Iron Man comics especially. Popcorn. Rogue Ales.

Rogue Booth

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More About LCDs

:: swwmc fireside shop & exhibits ::

Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) already play a huge roll in our lives, with some science minded, such as Laurie Anderson (of Big Science fame) thinking we maybe have too many or too much of that already.

"I like paper, it's easier on my eyes" is what you will hear. "I like paper too, but with so much pressure on forests, I'm thankful we don't rely on wood pulp for the written word at every turn" might be a long winded answer. Plus when you get to animations, wood pulp falls apart.

Southwestern Washington Medical Center
, world renowned for top of the line cardiology, other longevity services, has its Fireside shop LCDs quite literally set in stone. As one would expect in a hospital setting, the loop advertises the expertise available, reassuring to both patients and prospective patients (which includes staff). One wouldn't expect a sudden dissolve into esoteric geometry cartoons, unless perhaps featuring some of the other art in the building, which tends to be somewhat Far Western.

In the scene below (from a different shop in Oregon), the LCD is on a post at the corner of the counter. The default display is "instrument panel" e.g. note the mounting cost of having troops in Iraq (you'd think they'd get it by now and get out, but that's not how they think). You could dissolve to travelogue teasers, previews of what's on the larger screens in back rooms, but that's more the Backspace model (gaming), or Living Room Theaters, where we show documentaries, algebra prep movies, stuff for biology majors. People will book these venues in advance, sometimes with a comm link to the home office, more like at Kinko's or one of those.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Self Promotion

An aspect of our "church bingo" model people sometimes object to is they think overtly taking credit for one's heroics is in itself rather self-indulgent and objectionable, is transparent self promotion (a bad thing, in their books).

My response is you're free to make your donations anonymously on occasion, but when building a semi-public track record, it's more about taking a stand, advertising the work of your target teams in the field more than just drawing unearned attention to yourself eating scones, geeking out in some way.

For example, a paradigm customer might be some 15 year old girl hell bent on making life difficult for salmon farmers off the coast of North America. She's seen some well made documentaries and is persuaded that these are "freak fish" that don't deserve our business. There's a special interest working this angle, some needle in a hay stack. No other customer is tracking this issue. In glancing over her record, the barista learns something about what kids today are into. Multiply this story many times, and you see how a useful buzz might develop, with philosophical debates and investigations at its core.

A behavior customers would be much more cynical about is posing as favoring this or that, but only to impress a potential date, while meanwhile, in some other shop, ten blocks away, there's a whole different track record on file, lots of mutually inconsistent heroics, all because in that venue it was someone else and so on. Nothing holds this character together, in terms of standing for principles, other than the "I need to impress someone" principle. This kind of behavior often rubs people the wrong way.

The CSN is more of a playground than a set of scripts. In providing the tools, setting some high standards, the games get to be engaging, worthwhile. But beyond that, how you manage your own identity is your business.

Speaking of which, I maybe made a mistake wearing the T-shirt below to the supermarket and bank yesterday. First, because this'd been my pajama top owing to a pre-dawn trip to the airport on chauffeur duty and second because it triggered lots of snarky comments, some overtly expressed, like that shopping cart couple I dodged on the sidewalk, said I didn't really listen at all.

Turning to popular culture and other stuff that I care about: a kind Friend phoned during commercial break to let me know Michael J. Fox was just about to visit Bhutan on channel 2. I dashed up three floors and with the help of an assistant, was able to catch that segment. Michael was in good form and yes, that's the Bhutan I remember, was happy in. Also: thanks to Facebook I'm able to be a Katie Couric fan from a distance. I don't know exactly where this helmet picture was taken, however I appreciate her as a constructive player and a pro (my friends are used to hearing me rave about various people I look up to -- that's just something I do). So what's up with Sri Lanka? Is India planning something? I've seen Windows7 in action, but haven't seen the new Star Trek yet (I'm planning on doing that though).

from Facebook

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cartoon Room

Some brewpubs in our area have discovered that having a "children at play" zone attracts the young family clientèle they seek. Of course not every shop serves the same demographic or zip code so read no further if under-age means not through the door.

Once in, you needn't imagine a passive viewing studio, kids glued to a big screen. In some toys, the LCD is no larger than a postage stamp, with MPEGs in firmware. Calling it a "cartoon room" isn't meant to inspire panic among the "kill your television" crowd. If you want your Lincoln Logs to actually be non-virtual, we have a special set in the back (just don't let her swallow any).

Again, it all depends on the shop, plus screens might be turned off during "quiet time" (e.g. Cubespace has "quiet cubes").

To change the subject slightly, we went to some "macaroni palace" downtown, very suave decor, but they had these huge wooden beams apparently supporting no weight, just suspended by metal cable from the ceiling, the walls supporting each end. What's up with that? If you need "big wood", at least make sure it stays busy, serves a real purpose. Or were they keeping the walls from falling inward?

If self schooling is the focus (is this an "edu-mall" of some kind?) then your toyz might be robots, the cartoons more like event driving GUIs i.e. instrumentation atop some device-level API. Add a Python instructor and you've got the beginnings of a kick ass school.

But then testing gets more controlled and in coffee shops we tend to shy away from severity. We define a safe hang out between visits to the dentist as it were.

That being said, you could still have a friendly coach, like at OMSI, and a gift shop, selling some of these same toyz, ka-ching (and a big bonus for some worthy cause, would you like a table sir?).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Art @ Fine Grind

Excellent all-woman show, lots of to die for art, I'll see if they let me stream any of it to ya, be right back... Yay, got lucky, here's a morning blend. Keiko did a more complete slide show (click here).