Monday, February 27, 2006

Pikas and Wittgenstein

Sat. I woke up and this poem popped into my head:

Another lagomorph poem:

a pika peeked
above high mountain peaks
and piped a squeak

Pika’s are pretty cute, and yes, I had pika on the brain because I read a sad article of how global warming could drive the pika to extinction. Here’s an article.

and an image

I spent most of Sunday reading Norman Malcolm’s Memoir on Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein and Xenakis are two men I would have loved to have met, they fascinate me with their unique minds, however, I think they would have been very difficult and moody.

Here are some excerpts:

“When a dish that looked especially appetizing was brought to the table, I sometimes exclaimed “Hot Ziggety”- a slang phrase that I learned as boy in Kansas. Wittgenstein picked up this expression from me. It was inconceivably droll to hear him exclaim “Hot Ziggety” when my wife put the bread and cheese before him.”

“Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life! By ‘them’; he undoubtedly meant his close friends. When I think of his profound pessimism, the intensity of his mental and moral suffering, the relentless way in which he drove his intellect, his need for love together with the harshness that repelled love, I am inclined to believe that his life was fiercely unhappy. Yet at the end he himself exclaimed that it had been wonderful! To me this seems a mysterious and strangely moving utterance.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

places to go...things to see

This quote was in my word of the day email, another attempt to wrap our bony fingers around art’s neck:
"Much art today has abandoned the ambition to please the viewer
aesthetically. Instead, it seeks to shock, discommode, repulse,
proselytize, or startle."

Roger Kimball; Art Without Beauty; The Public Interest (Washington, DC);
Apr 15, 1997.

Last night (wed), I attended one of Shaping San Francisco’s Spring Talks: Nature in the City. For all purposes it promised to cover a topic which combines a couple of issues I’ve been thinking much about as of late: urban design and ecology. Unfortunately the speaker was inexperienced and verged on the extremely dull. He hammered on about the alienation of the urban with nature a little to often- plus that point of view is old hat- I expected something a little more scientific. I also thought he would go into more detail about places within the city to go and "experience" nature, which he did in a small way. I do applaud the speaker’s enthusiasm in bringing this issue to the public, and he did have the foundations in creating a compelling talk- perhaps after a few months with the Toastmasters, he will gain the needed public speaking skills. The woman who followed him, Ruth Gravanis, was a far superior speaker, however after nearly an hour of the first guy, and she wasn’t informing me of what I already did not know, so I left.

Anyway, I did learn some cools facts about Douglas-Fir beetles and Spotted owls in my readings- here’s it is below- and also about amazing forest here in CA that I would like to visit soon…and I have been reading a lot of Bruce Chatwin's essays- the one I found particularly interesting was about nomads- more at a later date.

Douglas Fir Beetle-
the Douglas-fir beetle employs a half-dozen distinct acoustic signals. The males employ distinct chirps, indicating: (a) approach to the egg gallery entrance containing a female, (b) imminent copulation during courtship, (c) rivalry with other males, and (d) situations of stress. The female generates a distinct chirp when constructing and guarding her egg gallery (Ryker 1984). Toward Synthesizing Artificial Neural Networks that Exhibit Cooperative Intelligent Behavior: Some Open Issues in Artificial Life by Michael G. Dyer

Northern Spotted Owl: “the right ear larger than the left to help triangulate sound”

Northern California Coast Range Preserve (NCCRP)

Located in the San Francisco Bay area, this biosphere reserve includes a highly diverse complex of evergreen sclerophyllous woodland, coastal, estuary and marine ecosystems. San Francisco is a focal point for coastal industry and trade. Tourism, some agriculture and fisheries, transportation, manufacturing, military installations, and research and educational institutions are also important to the regional economy. The primary aim of the biosphere reserve is to develop a commitment to ecosystem management among the various management agencies. Given the intense human pressure of the area, the conservation of biodiversity is very challenging. Of particular concern is to raise environmental awareness among the diverse urban communities.

Major ecosystem type :temperate rainforest

Major habitats & land cover types: At Angelo Reserve)Mixed forests (including mixed evergreen, California bay, tan oak, madrone, upland redwood, upland Douglas-fir, Pacific yew, and knobcone pine); woodlands (including Oregon oak, black oak, interior live oak, and mixed north-slope cismontane); mixed chaparral (including chamise, montane manzanita, whitethorn, tobacco brush, buck brush, interior live oak, and north-slope chaparral); bald hills prairie; grassland; freshwater seep; coastal winter steelhead trout stream; coastal salmon stream

(At Big Creek Reserve)Coastal strand; coastal bluff scrub; coastal scrub; ceanothus shrub; sage scrub; rocky scrubland; chamise chaparral; coast range and streambank woodland; stream-mouth woodland; sycamore-(draw woodland; coast live oak forest; mixed hardwood-coast live oak forest; mixed hardwood-canyon live oak forest; Ponderosa pine-Hoover's manzanita woodland; Ponderosa pine-mixed hardwood-coast live oak forest; Ponderosa pine-mixed hardwood-canyon live oak forest; Ponderosa pine-coast live oak forest; coulter pine forest;Santa Lucia-fir woodland; redwood streamside forest; redwood-mixed hardwood forest; pure redwood forest; aquatic (both freshwater and marine) habitats

UNESCO biosphere sites-

Bruce Chatwin

Friday, February 17, 2006

silly fixations- Furby's & Mt. beavers

Reading this week has been a bust, sad to say. Instead I can share some absurd little obsessions that I’ve had this week. One was on Furby's, I read earlier that the NSA banned them from their offices, so I searched a little to see what Furby’s were about. Here’s some very strange tidbits I discovered about Furby’s:

Equipped with a computer chip, sensors and a vocabulary of 200 words of a nonsense language called "Furbish," the slightly sinister-looking animatronic pet responds to touch, sound and movement. Furbys can communicate with each other through infrared signals and can be taught to speak English. Spooky. From November 24, 1998

Furby resembles an owl, with tufts of hair between its huge pink ears.

"We are prohibited from introducing these items [Furby] into NSA spaces. Those who have should contact their Staff Security Office for guidance," a memo said. CNN
January 13, 1999

Furby autospsy

They are still popular with many
hackers as they can be dissected and made to do interesting things, as well as teenage pyromaniacs, who would often burn the devices while listening to them continue to speak their normal language. From Wikipdeia

This site I go to every day, an result of my color obsession. You can create your own little color cell then try to give it more life by choosing it each day- you can also choose other color cells to help give them more life and move up in ranking. Your color cell can even combine with another color cell and have a child. – Color evolution…?

I read a little about Mountain Beavers (Aplodontia rufa) in one of my readings- they are not beavers, nor do they live in the mountain- but here’s some very interesting facts about this strange rodent.

The mountain beaver is not really a true beaver. It's a little-known but fascinating rodent which occupies a unique taxonomic and ecological niche. It lives underground in burrows and is seldom seen above ground. Most people don't even know it exists. Little is known of its ecology.

Biography Aplodontia rufa is the only species and genus in its family with no known living relatives. The species, "is considered the most primitive living rodent, with an ancestry that goes back into the first half of the Tertiary Period (approximately 66 to 3 million years ago), when modern mammals first evolved" (Wilson and Ruff 1999).


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

murmuring about art

I’m still at work, so I thought I would share my 2nd art murmur adventure which took place on Feb. 3. It’s Oakland’s newest hipster thing to do. I was re-reading it in my notebook last night, on BART, while all around me hopeful infautants were traveling to their destinations. Charmed…

Scene snapshot:

I’m early. I call A (who will be accompanying me) to see what she wants to drink. We meet at the Stork Club. Personally, I think it’s a kitsch-filled dive, but it has its fans, I’m not one of them. A’s a tequila drinker, and she’s apt to announce it, as she done each time we have gone drinking. I order, for myself, a vodka martini. The bartender has no touch this evening, and makes it too dirty and it tastes flat. A shows up with wild flaming red hair and red lipstick. It’s the kind of look that attracts men to a shiny object. We drink our drinks, we chat about possible connections we’ve had in the past. Then we hit the galleries.

The first gallery oozes the kind of art that I do not have an affinity. I look out of consideration, A talks. She mentions many names that I will forget. She has many men vying for her attention and many more coming down the pipeline. I see it as a potential bigtime operation. I listen well, but I don’t take notes, so I can’t really give any details.

Then another gallery. A flirts with men along the way, muttering under her breath to me after each encounter, how she hates men. I merely observe how easily they fall. I’m glad I don’t have their weak brains. I also feel above the need to interact in the romance hunt. Maybe I’m arrogant, but I feel relieved of ever having to participate in that again. Its more amusing and entertaining for me to watch everyone else do it. This gallery shows photos and paintings, mostly portrait work. The proprietress strikes a formidable presence, but I find that I like her. She gives me a large amount of vodka, more than what I should be allowed to drink- after some random chatting and looking, we are off to the next one.

This gallery shows the most interesting work, but its a hit and run. I have to catch BART to SF. A walks me to the station and leaves red lipstick on my check, then she heads back to her adventures. I go underground.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Lately, I have dreamt of colors, mostly purples.

Some amazing things I read in the last few weeks- captures my fluctuating state of emotions: there, I find you hidden among the things I read.

“Nietzsche’s solitude was as wide as the world; it spread over the whole of his life until the very end…He wandered like a wraith in the shadow of great towns, in dusty trains, in various sickrooms, while all around the vanity fair of the arts and sciences was in full swing.” Stefan Zweig Master Builders

“We need art in the arrangement of cities as well as other realms of life, to help explain life to us, to show us meanings, to illuminate the relationship between the life that each of us embodies and the life outside us. We need art most, perhaps, to reassure us of our own humanity. However, although art and life are interwoven, they are not the same thing.”
- Jane Jacobs Death and Life of Great American Cities

“I shall never see an episode like it again if I live to be a hundred, nor do I think that one man in a million has ever seen it, because man is an intruder into such silences. The light must be right, and the observer must remain unseen. No man sets up such an experiment. What he sees, he sees by chance.” Loren Eiseley “The Judgment of Birds”

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

shades of purple

Shades of Purple-

Due to increased work commitments- posts will be a little less for some time.

For the past week, though, I’ve been obsessed with shades of purple-
Maybe because Valentine’s Day is coming up, and although I’ve never had any associations with the holiday, since last year, it has become a very sad reminder.
And purple- not pink or red, but rather like the color of a bruised heart.
Apart from that, purples and violets are lovely colors. So here are the ones I found, presented here for you, from the top row, left to right: mauve, puce, lilac, and orchid.

And the bottom row, left to right: amethyst, heliotrope, wisteria, and violet.

For the last month, and hopefully continuing for the next several months, (even years?), I have formulated an intensive reading plan. Books to be read, on the following subjects-simultaneously.

Books to be read n the following subjects:
1. science, natural history or math
2. Biography, autobiography, or personal essays
3. Urban studies, urban design or landscape architecture
4. theory, philosophy, literary criticism, or poetics
5. history- (political, cultural, etc.)
6. a work of fiction every 6 weeks.

I guess this covers almost everything of worthy interest?


Something I wrote in my journal (the analogue one, which I keep up to date and filled with “thoughts”)
I realize that in this life, mine, two opposite actions tears it apart. A life of contemplation and reading, is set against the other, a life of diverse activity. I go to lectures, art openings, performances, shows and other events; I meet and converse with people. This flurry of activity, walking, talking- are all very transparent. I am unable to contain it to words. On the other side is my reading life, with so many books read, yet I need to take better notes. How to walk down this life pathway so incredibly external and internal and how does one overcome the difficulty in documenting both?

“Extremism is usually an empty attitude.”