Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hole in my Bay, Day Tres

Hey all-

Yesterday was mostly walking about. 'Cruising', as Speed Levitch put it. I decided to take him up on his offer, and plotted a course for my salvation. A pilgrimage across a bay; across a chasm holding me back from myself. I started on a bus, and then a train, and then another train, and finally another bus. I still considered this part of the cruise, because as my mind wandered to the music I had set aside for myself (side-note the Decemberist's new 'Hazards of Love' is fucking wonderful) my body stayed on its course. This dichotomy was a midnight blue on a pink stucco. I saw some pick stucco; somebody's house and lawn flamingo had a terrible scientific accident and merged before me in the hilly southern expanse of san fran.

The bus stopped suddenly and there was a mass exodus to Golden Gate Park. I followed, that is to say, my nose followed, and I was enslaved. I found my way through a rose garden, and met a bush named Betty Boop. I thought of my friend Heather, who is making her way in NYC as a fashion goddess. There were too many couples and small families at this park for my liking, however. They had too much of the pre-programmed cruise; the cruise that really isn't a freeing tarry, but rather a pre-scripted jaunt down invisible tracks. The park was a glorified Walmart parking lot, the task of getting the best parking spot akin to an orgasm, the walk to the store an awkward pillow talk while putting your shoes back on. After getting a street hotdog, something of a hobby for me while in larger cities than my own, I headed back for the bus.

This time I took line 28 all the way to Golden Gate Bridge. This is something of a boyish fantasy for me, when I was young watching Full House I wondered why the Tanner family didn't spend every waking moment on this red metal dynamo, defying the blue water and blue sky. Sticking out like a sore thumb that had always belonged there. After acquiring a new wallpaper for my phone in the form of a contrasting graffitied caution sign against the backdrop of the pristene bridge, it was back to the cruise.

The shapes and curves amazed me. People all around me were snapping pictures of the view of the bay. Pictures that may as well be postcards, worth every penny of the fifty cent price tag. Pictures that were beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as the real experience of walking across this bridge on a breezy day. Your shirt rippling in the wind, the sun keeping you oddly warm. I only snapped one picture on the walk, a juxtaposing shape of a street light against the bridge. The red, yellow, and blue coming together in a perfect geometric moment.

Once across the bridge, I realized that the little observation pen on the other side was decidedly anti-cruise. It was self-contained; requiring that you either escape by car or stay among the stones and old wood forever. I ended up walking down a bike trail, serendipitously following a group of Brits. The only lady in the group had cork wedges on, and I felt viscerally sorry for her. After a ways down the obvously pedestrian un-friendly highway, they went to the side to examine a hole in a fence, and I lost track of them.

Continuing on my illicit cruise down the hill, among the bikers (of which there were a great many), I came to a small town. I could tell by the cars in the driveways that these were very affluent folks. I worried for a time that my usual fallback plan of 'don't worry I work for the government' would not draw much water here. Then I noticed the time. My cruise had taken almost all day, and now it was in question whether or not the ferry's were still running. Now, with the possibility of being a poor vagrant tourist in the Western Cape Cod, my cruise had a singular purpose, escape.

Finding a small downtown area with cafes and shops (and the obligitory tourists), I made my way towards the water's edge. Here in this bay, the water was a deep green, and men with over-complicated T-shirt prints with women in seemingly early 90's wraps meandered among the rocks. Huddling in masses, the day travelers had the exact opposite goal of the locals with baby strollers. The ensuing foot traffic jam led to some very non-cruise moments... for which I am ashamed. However, I trodded on in hopes of finding the ferry and my survival.

Finally, I made my way to the dock. To find a very long line of bicycles. Aparently the myriad of bikers on the hills between the bridge and the bay also had to escape. Luckily, the ferry accomidated the lot of us. After a twenty minute ferry ride I was safely back in fisherman's wharf, known territory at this point in my journey.

My cruise concluded as I found my way back to the subway, the train, the bus. Having walked over six mile in that day, I was finally in a state where Speed Levitch had never commented on. I was so tired that my mind stopped racing. Finally.


PS - Also, I managed to write a poem. It came upon me somewhere in the middle as I was trying to fall asleep. The Romans believed that there were daemons in the walls called 'geniuses' that would bestow work onto artists, who were conduits for such insights. The genius in the Comfort Inn did not follow my sleep schedule...


They've turned the harsh overhead lights on in the train car.
it looks like the aftermath of a rock show; forgotten red party cups,
friends pulling each other to their feet,
and harsh florescent lights pointing out
all the pores and exits in the room.

this is the time of night when i miss you most
how trite to have that line there
when it should be obvious and unsaid

i'm sitting in the seat alone while the foursome in front of me
hides their coors lights in brown paper bags
"beer condoms" they laugh.

I am struggling to see outside of the car, something more than
dark blue outlines of palm trees and occasional neon lights.

this is the time of night when
the screens on the train ticket machines
are noticeable against the dark.
i'm looking for the dot on
the diagram of the line that leads me home,
or at least away from here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Hole in my Bay, Day the Two

Hey all-

Today shouldn't count because I didn't go to San Francisco. I stayed in Palo Alto and followed my nose up El Camino Real. I had a theory that because the bus PA would announce 'now approaching El Camino and California' that there was something to be found on California Ave. And there was! A whole strip of shops and cafes, lots of hussle and bussle. Rogamaror. Razzle Dazzle. Etc. And so, I decided to check it out. My first destination was Know Knew Books, which Google Maps pointed me to as the closest bookstore (yes, I search for bookstores on vacation).

Know Knew was friggin' great. There were used CDs, VHS, and DVDs on top of all the used books. The best part was the myriad of unopened action figures for sale lining every shelf-end. I snapped a pic of Leon from Resident Evil 2. LEON! Anyway, I spent a good amount of time there, and got the following:
  • 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' on VHS
  • 'Escape From New York' on VHS
  • 'Dune' on VHS
  • A souvinier for a Utica peep
  • A pic of two books by Margerat Thatcher
  • A pic of a Leon action figure from Resident Evil 2
  • A pic of 'Mad About You' by Brandi Carlile on vinyl
  • A pic of a 'Full House' young adult novel (the very heart of San Francisco)
I walked further on the Real, hoping to get to Long's Drugs to pick up some clippers for my face (I'm getting scruffly). When I happened upon it, however, I discovered that Long's was nestled deep inside a consumer frenzy of a strip mall. Complete with multiple strips. And little maps. It was weird. Anyway, I wandered about some more, packing away some more shopping. I came upon yet another bookstore, which just about made my day. This makes four bookstore visits for the trip. So far. Haul part two:
  • A 'Stanford' emblazoned T-shirt and pair of shorts
  • 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' by Milan Kundera
  • 'Last Nights of Paris' by Phillipe Soupault
  • Clippers, for my face
  • Deodorant, not for my face
Then I took a bus back to the hotel and am resting my poor feet. Might read a bit and have some awesome Thai leftovers. Rock and roll, Palo Alto.


The Hole in my Bay, Day the First

Hey all-

Today's San Fran haul:
Enjoy the referential nature of information.

Any suggestions for things to do with my second and third days here, leave a comment!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama's Town Hall


I'm watching President Obama's Online Town Hall. That was all in title case, because it is a pretty cool thing. He opened up for questions from ordinary internet folks. There was also voting built in to identify popular questiosn. My trip to San Fran was delayed, gladly, to watch this historic event.

I really like how he handled the vastly over-popular marijuana legalization issue from the 'open for questions' website. I don't know what your specific position or opinions on this issue are, but get over it. It's illegal.

There was also a really insightful question on nurses... and the president's response was right on. Nurses pull so much of the wieght on our health system. They see you in the beginning, middle, and end of your treatment. The doctor comes in to wave his/her magic wand for two minutes, sure, but its the nurses who are really caring for you. Let's hope more education investments and wage increases bring more nurses into the fold.

The last question came from someone who was breathy and ethereal sounding. It was really wierd. Obama just talked about pre-existing conditions relating to health care. Good save.

Meanwhile, on other economic issues, check this out:


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Proud Boy with his Poster Bored.

Hi all-

The print shop at work turned out to be total failures, so I had to use sharpies to draw out my poster for the conference. The picture is above. It ended up getting more attention as a work of hand jammed psuedo-art. Pretty cool, really. All the time I spent carefully preparing the poster, adapting the format into power-point, pruning the text, filling in PA forms, etc. didn't make much of a difference, after all. The title 'Turning Philosophy into Science (via Magic!)' was the real winner.

Overall, good conference. However, the constant fumbling foibles with 'are we science?' 'where's the data?' 'Woe is me, nobody likes us!' was a little off-putting. This was supposed to be AAAI. No slouches. I did end up meeting some cool people, and having incidentally insightful conversations about coherence, experience, truth, etc. Mostly with the gov'ies.

Also the taker of the above picture and her friend were pretty cool folks.

More pictures here...

Rock and Roll,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ontologies are Scary


I heard a talk on yet another ontology effort. The domain was well chosen, and I wish other so-called 'ontologists' would show the same prudence. Too often I see the 'one giant ontology' idea rear its ugly head on one way or another. The recent framing attempt claims that 'communities of interest' are the answer, allowing small enclaves of users define the world away.

Ontology frightens me. It frightens me because I believe that language is alive. It arises out of the mutual consent of its speakers and the world they live in. It is immersed, hot, sticky, and should never be pinned down. Yes, I know it's a problem when people disagree or mis-communicate. Yes, I realize that Webster's dictionary disagrees with some of this claim. But there it is. My belief is that the freedom in interpreting language as we see fit goes straight to our basic freedom, condition, essance, soverignty, etc. The very fact that I can't find a word for this concept is exactly the point. We should all strive to be at a loss for words. It means we still have something to learn; a reason to be engaged.

So let your words fly, do not let the Semantic Web folks hold back your torrent of fluid, esoteric, post-hoc, and violently misunderstood words. Because they are your words.


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Referential Nature of Information.


I've been working on art lately, I don't neglect this poor blog only because of artistic drought. Although that's sometimes a good reason too. Honestly, I'll take any excuse to just ignore the little empty white space that is begging me for words. It's begging, I say.

A new series of paintings is in the works... I just have to solve one of those engineering problems that come with teh territory. It involves using metal frames to push canvas into shapes; stretched outside the traditional, Cartesian two dimensions. I'm striking a blow to the third dimension... it will never be the same. Or something.

Otherwise, I've been putting some music up on my myspace page. Normally, I would not be on the myspace-ness, because as a craze it's over... and I can't be on a social network for social reasons, only because of bleeding edge technology reasons. I'm a the most frenetic luddite in town, y'all. However, since myspace hosts music, there it is. More of that music stuff to come.

I've also been working on a writing peice on twitter. You can follow anything started with #letter, it will recap you. I haven't been keeping much track of it honestly; it's kind of wandering. Tarry with me, I say!

The photo above was taken from my picasa album. There are more of them, but I need to do a better job at organizing them. More on that to come... I have a trip next week and will be photo-ing profusely. Via some tarrying.