Good Design

why it is we read at all — what books do for the human spirit, how they furnish what Iris Murdoch would call “an occasion for unselfing,” and how they can perform the astonishing acrobatics of arising from one consciousness and reaching another — thousands, millions of others, across time and space — on such an intimate level, and in the process interleaving those myriad different consciousnesses into a shared wilderness of experience.


Why Read

Virginia Woolf on Why We Read and What Great Works of Art Have in Common

why it is we read at all — what books do for the human spirit, how they furnish what Iris Murdoch would call “an occasion for unselfing,” and how they can perform the astonishing acrobatics of arising from one consciousness and reaching another — thousands, millions of others, across time and space — on such an intimate level, and in the process interleaving those myriad different consciousnesses into a shared wilderness of experience.


Neck exercise

“Out of all the tension-busting methods out there, physical therapists love recommending controlled articular rotations for the neck.”


Computer basics: designing a learning activity

Art volunteers at Free Geek Twin Cities (fgtc). Their mission is to recycle or reuse unwanted computers and to help reduce the digital divide.

By volunteering at fgtc, participants can learn various digital literacies, and after 24 hours of service, they get a $40 credit toward computer components.

Art’s task is to design a learning activity that will not only provide participants their own computer for a minimal cost, but if their computer stops working, they may be able to fix it.


Learners have paid $50 in advance (some might might use their $40 credit) and are told they will take apart a desktop computer, learn what each part does, then put the computer back together again. They get to keep the computer system.


The earning activity is in the “Build Room” at Free Geek Twin Cities in MPLS, MN. USA on a Saturday morning at 10 am.


There will be at least one facilitator present who is a volunteer and might not have teaching experience. Learners have varied skills and handicaps (challenges). Challenges we’ve seen include the blind, quadriplegic, immature 10 yr old, autism spectrum/Asperger’s syndrome, drug addicted felons/thief, having allergic reaction to mold, language barriers/non-English speaking, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a Muslim female reluctant to interact with males.


This courses goal is that learners will understand their computer well enough to use it, even to fix it when it does not seem to work.


The learning environment, a computer, monitor, mouse, keyboard, screwdrivers, example parts (CPUs, RAM, etc.), a working computer with internet access, a facilitator, other learners, and a learning activity instruction booklet (also available via a website).


  • connect a mouse, keyboard, and monitor to a desktop computer
  • connect the computer to a power source and turn it on
  • disassemble the computer into its component parts and put it back together again
  • be able to name the parts of the computer and what they do
  • be able to install an operating system (OS: Linux Xubuntu) from an install CD
  • be able to update, personalize, customise, and add extras to their OS


The participant will have their own computer for a minimal cost. The learner will be more self confident in using their desktop computer and if it doesn’t work, may be able to fix it.

Challenge Scenarios already seen at FGTC


Female immigrant from East Africa is Muslim and is reluctant to socialize with male strangers. English is her second language and is a barrier to understanding.

Chemically dependant males sentenced to a half-way house come in to earn a free computer but cannot resist stealing laptops when given the opportunity.

Ten year olds come in after school and wants to earn a free computer but emotionally immaturity results in adult volunteers not wanting to babysit (discipline)


English is often a second language and is a barrier to understanding.


A dozen students with Autism Spectrum disorders come in to learn job skills

Individules with Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) wish to earn computers and learn job skills.


Individule is sentenced to serve and wishes to work 120 hrs as an alternative to 6 months in prison. She does not give the required hours but edits our tracking data base and prints out a copy for proof of compliance for her hearing.

Seven ex-prisoners are given early release to a half-way house. A grant proposal offers to pay them $8/hr for 50 hrs if we can provide supervised work for them.


Three of our volunteers have been in wheelchairs and one was a quadriplegic, only able to talk and to point with a baton held in his mouth.

One woman volunteer is legally blind


Learner has an allergic reaction to mold in room

Learners are too cold or too hot

Learner can’t stand the choice of music being played

Too much noise from environment is distracting

blogging Community Como Park Internet



Last time I wrote a blog post here was 09/09/09. Time to revive this blog.

I have had a thing for 11/11 ever since my dad died. The day he died was on 11/11 and at that time he had 11 children and 11 grandchildren. Whenever I notice a digital clock showing 11:11 I remember my dad and think maybe he is sending me a reminder.

Once, on Nov. 11th, when waiting on a customer, I asked what the date was. I then glanced at the computer and noticed the time was also 11:11:11. Chills.


Science Museum of Minnesota

I retired from volunteering at the Science Museum’s Collector’s Corner. After 11 years I am now entitled to life time benefits, or emeritus status.

HaHa even though I was not finished with this post I clicked publish at eleven minutes after 11 am this eleventh day of November and was told I had 111 words so far.

After more than five years, I also gave up my job as a current science blogger. (link takes you to 100s of my posts)

Sibley Bike Depot

I have also gone inactive at Sibley Bike Depot but before I left I helped write their 2011-2013 Strategic Plan.

Free Geek Twin Cities

Free Geek Twin Cities is where I now spend most of my volunteering time. Since I started with them we have gone from Saturdays only to Sat., Sun., and Wed. hours. I am responsible for opening up on Wed. from 12 to 5.

Our mission is to recycle technology and provide access to computers, the internet, education and job skills in exchange for community service.

My contribution has been to create a thrift store and marketing plan that will produce  $1000/month we need for rent, and to provide educational guidance to volunteers as they turn broken down computers into computers we can either sell for about $40 or grant for free to qualified individuals.

I also contribute to our Facebook Page and our Google +1 Page. I am currently working on converting and redesigning our website using WordPress’ content management system.

Web Design

Speaking of websites, I did a redesign and update for the Department of Pharmacology, University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine website. Kept me busy for most of the summer. I am still on a retainor to do weekly updates.

Social Security Checks

Last week was a real milestone. I got my first social security check!

Community Communications

As I mentioned in my 09/09/09 post, I want to facilitate communications within my community and between it and the governments it resides within. In addition to my community website, and the website, I agreed to be Forum Manager for a Como Park Neighborhood Forum that is part of We currently have more than half of the 100 members required to be open for discussions. Here is a link to my membership drive kickoff post.

Video Production

I continue to shoot videos and most recent ones are found on my ARTiFactor YouTube Channel. Two years ago the videos were 480p resolution. For 2010 I bought a camera that was 720p HD (high definition). Even my one year old iPod Touch 4 shoots 720HD. Soon, very soon I hope, I will have equipment to shoot 1080p resolution video. YouTube now allows video uploads longer than 10 minutes. I have one that is 48 minutes. A 12X zoom really helps, too, to “get in their face”. I am also upconverting VHS and Hi8 videos from as far back as 1988! Hopefully when I revamp this website I will have an easy way to navigate and access my archive of photos and videos.

blogging Community Como Park video



I usually like to note these notable dates with a blog post. I remember in 04/04/04 I wrote my first blog post with a Six Apart serice called TypePad. I had been a beta tester of that blogging tool before that. Too bad that when I stopped paying for their service all my posts disappeared. I have them saved somewhere. I just need to figure out how to make them appear on this hosting service.


This day was notable because it was the day my brother hit bottom, quit drinking, and entered a treatment program.


I wrote a post that this was the 40th birthday of “The summer of love” and my 40 year Appleton high school graduation in 1967.


Community Organizer

I feel I am entering a new phase of activities. Tonight I meet with my Saint Paul City Council representative, Russ Stark, as a community activist concerned about the future in Como Park, where I live. I have been involved with my Como Park Community Council (District 10) since last summer. One of my goals was to improve 2-way communication between my neighborhood and city government. A new District 10 Como Community Council website is something I helped with as a member of the D10 communications committee.

I also have created my own Community website call I played an active part in the Como Park swimming pool redevelopment and communicated the process of designing the new pool. It still needs financing and I will follow the process.

I also joined the Como Park Alliance and continue their mission –

To preserve the park’s rich history and natural environment to ensure the integrity of the park for the future through partnerships, proactive activities and education.

Video Production

Last night I went to training for the use of professional grade video cameras. Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) allows the use of their video production equipment, studios, and editing suites if the resulting production is aired on public access cable.

I plan to produce a video promoting the use of the Como Park Shuttle service which will reduce traffic and parking problems around the Como park Campus.

I also hope to volunteer helping teens produce videos.

Bike Rebuilding

I started going to the Sibley Bike Depot where volunteers rebuild bikes to donate and also help kids fix their bikes. (video)

I need to quit for now so I can publish this at 9 minutes after 9am on 09/09/09.

Science Museum

I forgot to mention that I still am going in every Wed to volunteer at Collector’s Corner at the Science Museum Of Minnesota. I also am paid to blog about Current Science on their Buzz Blog.

blogging Como Park Internet Travel

I am concerned about my ash trees

I posted all the information and links I could find about emerald ash borer beetles and ash trees over on my website. There are a lot of ash trees in Como Park and in Saint Paul (50,000 I think). Minnesota has more ash trees than all other states except for Maine.

Collections Selling Books

Codex Seraphinianus

Last weekend, at my nephew’s high school graduation, I looked on with growing puzzlement as a group of his friends paged through a book titled Codex Seraphinianus.

The script was alien and has of yet not been deciphered. The layout resembled a primer or mini-encyclopedia explaining basic concepts from an alternate reality.

The page numbers apparently use base 21 arithmetic.

If you are intrigued, there are several websites that discuss the book, Codex Seraphinianus.

Clicking on the images will make them larger.

Como Park

Final Como pool design approved by task force

Como Park swimming pool
Como Park swimming pool

The Como Pool design task force voted to approve for final report preparation the refined schematic design that was presented Monday, April 20.
Click this link to see the web page describing the final Como Pool design

Photos Travel

Dayton’s Bluff self guided auto tour

We went on a self-guided auto tour of Dayton’s Bluff yesterday (click link to download). Click on thumbnails to see full size.