Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Portland ASA notes

I'm currently sitting in the lobby at the Hilton, downtown Portland. I came to the Acoustical Society meeting here to give a presentation on the infrasonic mic that I built, and it seemed to go ok... about to head off to bed, but I thought that I'd write down some observations that I've made so far.

1) Portland is a pretty clean, perhaps even more so than Sendai.

2) I've never seen such healthy and intelligent looking bums. I can't figure out what it is about this city but perfectly healthy and capable looking people are shameless about holding up signs asking for money. And while they are doing it I see them gathering with their cronies laughing and talking. Come on guys... really? At least play the part. Most panhandlers in Seattle look like they haven't had a decent night sleep in the last five months (probably because they haven't), but these ladies and gents look like they stepped out of a hostel or something.

3) "China Town" = 3 Chinese restaurants, a block of abandoned buildings, seedy looking 18+ clubs, a hole in the wall selling a bunch of Buddhas, and no one of Asian descent on the sidewalks.

4) I attended a session on robotic models for the vocal tract. Rarely will you hear anything scarier sounding than a mechanical model of the human voice-box stuffed into a plastic skull. They thought it was cool, I thought it sounded like demon possessed plastic. Thought upon exiting the session: truly, we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." We haven't even come close to replicating something like the human vocal tract in any realistic way.

5) Apparently the ASA held a design competition among students for the design of a spiritual center. I browsed among 15 or so posters of very detailed and well illustrated 3D models for "interfaith chapels." (One person, from Korea I think, actually designed a Christian church. That was nice to see). It was very interesting. A lot of people harp on Christians for having such awful aesthetics when it comes to designing modern churches. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of modern American church architecture either, but it was good to see that the problem isn't limited to Christians. I seriously hope, however, that an architect somewhere will wake up and start questioning what it is about the classical architecture from so many cultures and countries that give them an appeal lasting longer than 30 years. But here's the funny thing - the aesthetic hasn't been lost, it's just shifted to different arenas. The people with the best architectural ideas are computer game developers. If I were designing plans for a church I wouldn't ask an architect, I'd hire an artist from Square-Enix.

6) I miss Hily.

7) Dad's a stud.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


I haven't been posting much recently, (well aware of that) in fact, I haven't been involved in much of anything digital (facebook, etc) because I've been spending a lot of time working and doing things with a wonderful lady named Hilary. At her prompting, I've decided to put up a few photos of things in the past couple months, though, admittedly most of them are from the last week. I've got a lot of snow pictures from the men's retreat that I never posted. Anyway, hope you enjoy

Getting snowed in at the men's retreat:


Super intense rainbow


Rook (Tonight - Hil was in Yakima)