Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Arcosanti Mention

It's weird how many references to Arcosanti seem to pop up in random places. I was reading an article in the current issue of Wired (15.12) about Adeo Ressi when this little tidbit caught my eye:
While other New York City kids went to summer camp, Ressi begged his parents to send him to Arcosanti, an experimental city being built in the Arizona desert. (He spent four summers as the commune's youngest working resident, which meant cleaning a lot of sewage pipes.)
The article doesn't seem to be on Wired's web site yet, but they do have this.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Of course......

This weekend we are moving the rest of our stuff from Arcosanti to the new apartment in Prescott and then Ric flys out Tuesday to Michigan to pick up the rest of our stored stuff to drive out here.

And of course, I am getting sick and it is snowing like crazy in Michigan near our cabin! Ric's parents were able to get what we wanted from the cabin piece by piece and take to their bunkhouse. (Thanks!) Hopefully when Ric picks up the Penske truck on Friday he will be able to get into his parents to get that stuff loaded.

Any of my family that hasn't read emails lately --- if you have B type blood -- we need you! If anybody else has B type blood in the Michigan area and would like to be tested for a possible donor match (kidney) -- let us know. I wish now I wasn't A+, so I could see if I could help out my cousin.

New Photos

I finally had a few minutes to get all the photos built up on the camera the last few weeks up on Flickr. We have Moonrise, our first Artsy purchase, Petrified Forest, Disneyland, and a blurry shot of an Arizona Snowman (I hope to get back and take a better shot).

Well, Mickey's big hand says it is way past bed time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Living in Two Places

The last few days have been... um... interesting. Whatever we need is always at the other place. If we are at the new apartment, there is always something we go looking for only to realize that it is at Arcosanti, and of course the reverse as well.

The good part is that it's only for the next 48 hours, then we will be permanently at the apartment. Not that I will have much time to enjoy it. I fly out for Michigan on Tuesday, December 4, pick up the moving truck on Friday morning, load whatever we can get out of the cabin through the snow that day, then head for Birch Run bright and early Saturday. If everything goes as planned and I have some help, the rest will be in the truck by Saturday afternoon. I may hit the road and see if I can get out of Michigan before stopping for the day, or may just stay in Birch Run Saturday night and head out Sunday very AM.

I should be back here with the truck in time to spend a day unloading it, then Debbie's mom will be here for a day, then we drive her up to Vegas to catch her flight home, and then I will get to sit in our new apartment for a day or two, then hit the bricks looking for a job. With any luck, the library will be hiring, which I can walk to in about 5 minutes. If not the library, then I'm sure I can find something that is walking or biking distance. It's not like I have to worry about not matching my current pay rate or anything.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Paging Gene Roddenberry

We seem to get closer every day:
For example, according to Summit, battleships and aircraft carriers now make extensive use of selective laser sintering (SLS) printers, which can "print out" materials like titanium, cobalt chromium and polyamide, to fabricate spare parts on the spot instead of carrying huge warehouses full of replacements.
How many years before they are building the entire ship?

Of course, easier manufacture creates problems as well as benefits.

Sometimes I Really Wonder....

It must be something in the water. I realize part of the impact is having several unrelated cases of utter stupidity lumped together. But still, if it's that easy to do that, how much else is going on that isn't hitting the national media? Ye flippin' gods.

Rockin' At 3Mb

I'm posting this from my own 3Mb Cable One connection instead of dufus "Sam". Of course, Cable One, being really customer friendly, sets up their WiFi cable modem wide open with no instructions on how to secure it. Ah well. At least it worked first try, and is looking really good so far.

Woo Hoo!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Posting from our New Place

I'm posting this over some dufus's WiFi connection that he is running unsecured. We will have our own connection tomorrow AM through Cable One. It's only a 3mb connection, but it's all ours. None of this "you have a 10mb, but oh yea; you will be sharing that with everyone on your block" like some other cable companies. It's also about half the price. In the meantime, "Sam" is sharing his bandwidth with me. Thanks "Sam"!!

Gotta love it....

We picked up a reclining love seat today at a second-hand shop, which makes it very easy to use our laptop as an actual laptop. We were going to drag our queen sleeper out here, but decided it was just too heavy. It's going to be bad enough trying to get our dining room table in here, so the queen sleeper stays in the cabin in Michigan.

Well, I should let "Sam" have his bandwidth back and get my butt to work unpacking and putting away.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Stupids Have Guns

It's that time of year again. I love the suggestion in one comment: "I know we can’t use literacy tests anymore for voter registration; but, would it be too much to ask for some form of intelligence test before issueing [sic] a hunting license?" Unfortunately, the answer is "No" for the same reason in both cases: literacy and IQ tests are viewed as racist by blacks. Nuff said.

Ubuntu Fix

I've fixed all my Ubuntu problems today in about an hour. I reinstalled Windows XP. There is probably a lesson in all this; one I'm sure I will forget completely the next time a hot new Linux variant comes out that is just as good as Windows, except when it isn't, which will be pretty much everything a normal person would want to do on a computer.

Now to reinstall everything. The fun never ends. Someday in the distant future, I may actually use my computer as a tool rather than having all my free time sucked up in care and feeding....

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Contempt of court is a crime in this country. But if the courts and judges act in a contemptible manner, isn't contempt the proper response? This is nothing less than an attack on one of the core principles of the republic. If people cannot be secure in their property, then we are subjects, not citizens.

I'm posting this at 4 am in the dark while Debbie is trying to sleep. I seem to have developed some sort of sinus infection. My sinus pump seems to be helping. I will have to remember to take the time today to use it every few hours. We are picking up the U-Haul at 7am so we can move all the bulky stuff today and I am getting sick. Of course.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ubuntu (sigh)

Well, we are still on Ubuntu mostly due to sloth. It's like figuring out which is the least pain in the neck; dealing with the endless list of shortcomings and bugs in Ubuntu, or dealing with the pain of a Windows installation followed by reinstalling all the software, all the Windows patches and security updates, re-setting everything up, etc. I'm not sure this is what computing is supposed to be. I guess I just expect too much.

I still have no information on why the audio track of any video plays through the nasty little built-in laptop speakers instead of using the device that is set up in preferences. I suppose the answer is "get better external speakers," which would certainly be simpler than the setup I have. When we move, I may even look into that so the stereo can be out in the living room instead of tied to the PC.

I'm also having a lot of performance issues like interruptions in audio playback every time data is coming from the internet. Given that I am running on a dual core with a gig of RAM, that makes no sense.

A lot of pictures have been piling up on the camera since the Great Crash of 2007 that killed off the Windows side of our PC, so tonight I may tackle that little beastie. It promises to be loads of fun....

Tomorrow and Friday, we have a U-Haul rented to move the big stuff. That includes the desk that the PC is on, so blogging may be interrupted until I can get everything set up and a new connection established at the apartment. I think we will go ahead with Cable One instead of Altel. I've tried wireless before and basically wasted a lot of time and money on something that just doesn't work that well. I'd rather have a physical connection any day.

Attention Holiday Shoppers!

The dollar is crashing. Again, exactly what anyone who has had Econ101 would expect as a result of the Feds reving up the printing presses. I guess that leaves out everyone on the Federal Reserve board who are making noises about printing more money to fix the problem.

For the first time in my life, a Canadian dollar is worth more than a US dollar. Unreal.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Slave Doctors?

Kip makes some astute observations about socialized health care:
One of the points I try to emphasize from time to time is that a purported "right to health care" requires, as a matter of basic metaphysics, a "right to enslave health care providers." This is not histrionics: How, exactly, are you to enjoy your "right to an emergency appendectomy" without a surgeon to perform it? If your "right" truly is a right, and if no willing surgeon is available, then an unwilling one will have to be conscripted.

Fred on Education

Twenty-odd years ago, a commission on America's public schools declared that if they had been imposed on us by a foreign government, we would rightly consider it an act of war. I can't help but wonder what they would think of our schools now?

Anyway, Fred has, as usual, a rather creative solution.

Just to Hammer the Point Home

Read this carefully. We all know the mantra by now, right? Small and fast....


The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has now spread into academia. It has been so funny watching this grow from an off-hand comment on The Panda's Thumb to a world-wide phenomena.

Honest Politician?

Well, sort of. I guarantee that Obama is a moral defective like the rest of the presidential field. But at least he isn't provably stupid by denying the obvious.

Didn't inhale. Pfffft. Right, Bill. Just like you don't have a thing for chunky interns.


Read this little blurb carefully. Note why oil prices are hitting record levels. This is what happens when a country decides to burn up the presses printing funny money. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions.

Hang on; this could be an interesting couple of years.

News That Will Shock You

Here it comes, so brace yourself: the lying moral defectives in the UN lied about the extent of AIDS infections and the rate of growth of new infections. The productive people of the world saw a 3,000% increase in the amount of their tax dollars given to the UN of the basis of these (to be charitable) flawed statistics. So when do we get our refund?

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife

This is so cool, but at 2 3/4 pounds, I'd need reinforced suspenders to keep my pants on.

Georgia Drought

This was on Jerry Pournelle's web site:
It's so dry in Georgia that the Baptists are starting to baptize by sprinkling; the Methodists are using wet-wipes, the Presbyterians are giving out rain-checks, and the Catholics are praying for the wine to turn back into water.
Now that's dry.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We're Outa Here!

Tomorrow we sign the papers to our new apartment in Prescott. I gave notice today that November 30 will be my last day in the foundry, and that we will have our room cleaned out by December 3. December 4, I will be flying back to Michigan to pack our stuff into a moving van, then driving 2,000+ miles back to Arizona. We may still have some sifting and sorting to make everything fit in the apartment, but there is a second-hand shop next door so we won't have to take anything very far to get rid of it.

The apartment is awesome. It is only five blocks from downtown Prescott, which means that a lot of places we normally go to on the weekend are now walking or biking distance. Debbie will be about five minute's drive from her work. I won't have a job when we move in, but as soon as I get all our stuff dumped into the apartment, I will be looking for something close by. I'd like to keep to one vehicle if we can pull it off.

Beginning of the End?

After driving around and collecting data for several dozen times longer than originally planned, Spirit and Opportunity are starting to sound like some of the cars I drove in high school. Even given the ingenuity of the rover teams, it looks as if both rovers have more sols behind them than in front. Still, what an amazing run.

On a related note, just a little reminder that there is no law of the universe that says English will be spoken in the first lunar colony.

Hang on to your Bippies!

Here we go!

Money Quote (in this case, literally):
The big jump in prices underlines the Federal Reserve’s concern that inflation could pick up pace and make it more risky to continue cutting interest rates to keep the threat of a recession at bay.
In other words, the Fed has been printing money as fast as the presses will go for months, trying to bail out the housing and automotive industries. Now they are finding out that the laws of economics cannot be repealed by closing your eyes and wishing really hard.


The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend?

We consider these people to be allies? I'd hate to meet who we consider to be our enemies.

Repeat after me: Islam is not the Religion of Peace (tm).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Temporary Loss of Signal

Another gap in posting. We are still at Arcosanti, but not for much longer if some leads we picked up this weekend pan out. I've been taking some crap for my views of life here at Arcosanti, but less than I expected.

Another reason for the delay in updates here is computer problems. Major computer problems. I decided that my Ubuntu problems were probably due to installing version 7.04, then upgrading to 7.10. So I tried to blow away 7.04 completely and install 7.10 from scratch. Well, I managed to blow away 7.04 along with everything else including Windows. So for now, all we have is Ubuntu 7.04. I can't install 7.10 from scratch due to massive bugs in the desktop environment. I'll try just Ubuntu for a while and see how it goes. So far, we still have the problem with video playback being very washed out. Daytime outdoor scenes are nothing but a bright white screen. I'll hit the forums and see what the solution is. I'll be testing audio today to see if I can get that working correctly this time around. The speakers on a laptop really suck.

Anyway, if you don't see anything here for a bit, I've probably totally blown our laptop.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Feel the Squeeze

Debbie will be looking at an apartment that is only a couple miles from where she works. Sounds like it will be none too soon.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Arcosanti One Year Later

[Debbie told me I needed to look at this post because there were words missing or something. So I made another pass through making corrections and clarifications. I missed more than a few words; whole paragraphs were missing. I hope this makes more sense. Never blog when you are too tired to keep your eyes open.]

Well, it's amazing how fast a year can go by. One year ago today, Debbie and I began our five-week workshop here at Arcosanti. It has been mostly a positive experience until the last few days. More on that in a moment, but the short version is that there won't be a two-year anniversary. There may not be a 13-month anniversary.

In any case, here is the deal with this place. (This is going to be very long, so you may want to pee first. Go ahead, I'll wait. Ready? OK, here we go.)

The Area:

We are in central Arizona. Almost dead center, in fact. We are at about 3,600 feet in elevation, which means the weather is almost perfect. There are four distinct seasons, but we don't get the oven-like temperatures that Phoenix does, nor do we get snow like the higher elevations (6,000 feet seems to be the magic number at this latitude). Well, we get something they call snow here, but in Michigan it would barely qualify as a heavy frost; it is melted and gone an hour after sunrise. So for the first time in my life, I don't have to start every day between Thanksgiving and tax day fighting with snow. There may come a point where I miss it, but I doubt that it will be this winter. Or the next. Or the twenty after that.

The scenery is simply awesome with a mix of mountains and basalt mesas. There isn't much in the way of real trees at the elevation we are at, but they are plentiful just a couple thousand feet higher (about an hour drive). We are an easy day trip from dozens of national parks that feature every type of geography/geology imaginable (and several that are unimaginable). Yesterday, for example, we spent the day running all over the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. It is incredible. We could do trips like that every weekend for most of our second year in Arizona without running out of places to see.

The Culture:

Culturally, this area is basically Mancelona, Michigan complete with the trailer trash, the drugs, the liquor store every ten feet (but the closest grocery store is a 70-mile round trip), the lack of a work ethic, the lack of anything resembling Western morals, etc. But the one feature than will make any Mancetukian right at home is the junk. But central Arizona does it even better. These guys don't just toss junk cars, refrigerators, quads and other small debris. The landscape everywhere you look is littered with abandoned buildings, mines (which claim several lives a year; the latest was an eight-year-old girl), even entire towns. Nothing is ever repaired or reused; just build it, use it until it breaks or you no longer need it, then walk away. And the best part is that, in the desert climate, junk never rots away, and the vegetation is too sparse to hide a significant part of it. So it just sits there, until the end of time, as a testament to human wastefulness and stupidity.

Arcosanti makes this big show of being somehow different, yet everywhere you look you see junk, abandoned construction equipment, and junk cars, many of which belong to people who no longer live at Arcosanti. I wouldn't be surprised if the non-functioning cars here outnumber those still capable of turning their wheels. And that isn't even considering the 100+ cars that caught on fire at a concert here back in 1978. Those were crushed then buried behind the buildings where they remain to this day. God only knows what has has leaked/is leaking into the soil and water. So much for "respecting the environment."

And speaking of leaks, many of the original structures leak when it rains because nothing here is maintained. Debbie and I are pretty lucky in that we are in the newest building on the site, and the roof is still holding. But the first thing visitors to the site see is our "gallery," located in one of the older buildings, which leaks in a dozen places; meaning that the concrete walls have water stains from ceiling to floor (they could be easily cleaned off, but why bother when it's just going to rain again next year...), and the carpet looks and smells like Arcosanti bought it used from a dog kennel. Many of the older resident spaces are even worse, with water pour down to walls when it rains. Welcome to the City of the Future!

Of course, the problems go much further than just leaks. The whole site looks and feels tired. Faded paint, overgrown vegetation, drains that don't, sagging doors, just plain dirt, all of this and more just makes the place feel like one of the those old, roadside motels (that don't exit anymore because the chains ran them out of business) where everything that hasn't stopped working seems on the verge of failure. No one thing is a big deal, but the cumulative effect gives the impression of a site that no one cares about.

The Community:

The short answer is that there isn't one. There is a small group that always seems to be trying, but the majority of the population is too transient for it to ever take hold, and the long-term residents are never seen outside of work hours. Most never attend any of the major events we host, never attend any site parties, never attend the special party thrown to welcome each new workshop. So as long as your idea of community is the 20-somethings getting high and/or drunk several times a week while everyone else hides in their rooms, then I guess there is a community here.

The site is governed on a fascist model, with everything owned by the foundation, and the control of everything, from housing to employment to how many times a week the cafe is allowed to serve meat, residing in a single individual. There is a community council elected at large from the residents, but they are Masters of Trivia, such as organizing highway cleanups and granting noise extensions to residents that wish to have parties that extend past the site-wide quiet time (yes, you read that right). Any attempts to make substantive changes are immediately over-ruled by the Site Nazi. Each new council learns quickly that the best policy is to do nothing.


I didn't expect much coming in largely because any organization with as low a pay scale as this place just isn't going to attract top-notch talent. I mean, I work here after all. But I guess I didn't set the bar low enough because I was still floored by how bad everyone in charge is at their job. But until three days ago, I was operating under Napoleon's maxim: never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. No more. Yes there is certainly incompetence here to spare, but there is also a dark undercurrent of malice.

Today one of my coworkers in the foundry was fired based on a complaint from another foundry worker (we'll just refer to her as "Twiggy" for short) that was mostly fiction. Several other foundry workers, including yours truly, were asked to confirm Twiggy's version of events. We didn't. Our crack management team that was only "concerned with the truth," not in any of us "taking sides," fired the guy anyway. So now the entire foundry staff is divided into pro- and anti-Twiggy camps, which is real good for productivity not to mention the constant tension layered on top of an already-dangerous job.

So we are out of here as soon as we find housing in Prescott. I don't mind working for stupid people, but I refuse to work for, or with, malicious stupid people. Fun while it lasted, I guess.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Repeating Myself

For about the twentieth time, why would any white parent pay tens of thousands of dollars to subject their children to this? If blacks want the university system, then they can have it. If you want an education, you would do better reading random Wikipedia entries.

[Unrelated side note: This was posted from Windows because Ubuntu is saving our forests by not allowing me to print things. I can set up a printer, I can print a test page. What I cannot do is actually print something from an application.]

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Oil prices are now flitting around at the same price levels as 1980 when adjusted for inflation. If I recall 1980, it wasn't a real prosperous time. But I'm sure it's different now, what with it being the end of history and all.

Except for this.

And then there's that.



It's like deja vu all over again.