Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Uplift - Bollywood Workout

In keeping with yesterday's Bollywood post, I thought I'd continue in that vein, but today I'm focused on fitness. First, a terrific song and dance scene from Monsoon Wedding:

And now those moves I promised yesterday:

Let's start with an easy one, then build on those. As tired as all this makes me, I feel wonderful and glowing after these moves, and I think you will, too.

Now get up offa that thang and MOVE!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dil Se (Inside Man), Revisted

Some of you know that I am a long-time Bollywood fan. Enough that I have TWO boxed cd sets I like to listen to! I fell hard for Shahrukh Khan a bunch of years ago as I watched Dil Se, and started thinking earlier to day about two scenes I have never forgotten due to their powerful imagery, great music, wonderful direction and production. And so I reached out to the wonder that is this marvelous Web and found both. So, for your pleasure and mine, here are two of my favourite scenes from Dil Se:

Tomorrow's uplift will be some moves you can learn so you can dance along with your next Bollywood fix! Stay tuned...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dreamy and Surreal Art for a Drowsy Summer Afternoon

Sandman by Dave McKean

Some of you will know Dave McKean's artwork from the animated film Mirrormask, others from his collaborative efforts with Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury in book form, or literally dozens of other places. Distinctive, surreal, strangely compelling, McKean's work is certainly worth the minute, twenty seconds it takes to watch his lovely interpretation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 138.

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue,
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed:
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love, loves not to have years told.
Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is It Just Me...

...or is the new James Cameron sci-fi flick, Avatar (due out in December of this year) very, very tantalizing? Okay, okay, I'll admit that I adore most anything sci-fi, but this really looks good...except for all the grungy military crap, which VERY seldom enhances anything for me. But take a, huh?

Rest In Peace, You've Earned It

Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009
Only Jean Kennedy Smith left now.

For those of us of a certain age, the Kennedys were always there, larger than life, leading us with their enduring hope for and political ideal of a better world. I remember the first time I heard someone spout something negative about the Kennedys; I was shocked, for I believed in their espoused values, and in their deeds toward making the world a better place for our having been here. Still do.

Kennedy's death brings up some very old and vivid memories. Of the bitterly cold Inauguration Day in 1961 with Eisenhower and Kennedy riding together in an open carriage in top hats and morning coats as I watched from a hotel lobby in NYC, of my sixth grade teacher crying on November 22, 1963, of that terribly long weekend with the funereal drums and clip clop of a riderless horse seemingly the only sounds in the world, and five years later, living in California, staying up to watch RFK win the primary there, only to be cut down like his brother by a zealot with a gun, turning my joy and hope into grief and hopelessness. My generation's innocence was diminished by these events, and destroyed by the duplicity shown by politicians who stepped in to fill the terrible vacuum left by the two brothers. When JFK was assasinated, even as an 11 year old, I understood that my world would never be the same; that if HE could be killed, no one was safe.

But Ted Kennedy endured his personal errors and family tragedies, and did indeed make the world a better place for having been here. His passing closes an era for me, and I suspect, for others, too. In our current world of instant access and opinion-driven government, politicians such as the Kennedys, fearless and steadfast in their opinions and positions, are unlikely to rise again. And that, my friend is our loss.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Obsession With Recursive Thinking

Once upon a time, Benoit Mandelbrot (he of fractal fame) wrote a paper that examined a simple question, "How Long Is the Coast of Britain? Statistical Self-Similarity and Fractional Dimension".

Of course, Mandelbrot had a budding theory behind his question. A delicious theory that would eventually lead to his glorious work on fractals.

You see, no matter what figure is given for the length of Britain's coastline, it is not a definitive measurement, for, as Mandelbrot examines in his paper, the measured length of a stretch of coastline depends on the scale of measurement.

Empirical evidence suggests that the smaller the increment of measurement, the longer the measured length becomes. If you were to measure a stretch of coastline with a yardstick, you would get a shorter result than if you were to measure the same stretch with a small ruler. This is because you would be laying the ruler along a more curvilinear route than that followed by the yardstick. The empirical evidence suggests a rule which, if extrapolated, shows that the measured length increases without limit as the measurement scale decreases towards zero. All of that last bit comes directly from the Wiki entry on Mandelbrot's paper, btw.
Step 4 (of 14) fractal

Assuming your head aches when faced with words/concepts such as "curvilinear" and "empirical evidence" or even "extrapolated," consider this simple exercise. Using a map of the island of Britain, draw the simplest two-dimensional shape possible, a triangle, which surrounds the shape of the island as closely as possible, thus approximating the coastline measurement.

Obviously, this crude triangular shape is highly inaccurate. If you were next to carefully draw all the ins and outs of the coastline on your map, you'd have a different measurement entirely than the first, but equally inaccurate, as it's possible to continue getting closer and closer with your scrutiny of the coastline, down to drawing individual pebbles and even grains of sand. And even that degree of granularity would be inaccurate, for more levels of zoom are possible. There is no point at which one can say that a shape resolutely defines the coastline of Britain. After all, exactly circumscribing the coast of Britain would entail encircling every rock, every tide pool, every pebble which happens to lie on the edge of Britain. And let's not start a discussion about how to define "edge."
Some insist that Mandelbrot said the coastline of Britain is infinite in his paper, but he didn't. What he DID say was that it exhibited self-similarity over a wide range of measurement scales. Infinite length woud require a self-similarity over all measurement scales, which is impossible because matter is quantized.

The coastline of Britain is really being used as a metaphor; genuine fractals can't exist in the real world, because the real world is not infinitely divisible (as far as we know). Eventually you get down to the point where you are measuring around individual atoms; if you go farther, you have to go around each proton, etc., and we can't postulate the precise surface of protons, etc., so the recursion becomes impossible for our purposes at that point. Mandelbrot is actually talking about a fractal in a Euclidean space, where actual points exist and we can have line segments as small as we like. Basically, mathematical shapes are just not limited by the quantum nature of reality.

Mandelbrot also discusses the Koch Snowflake in his coastline paper, but that's a discussion for another time. To start your creative juices flowing, though, here's an animation of it:
All this fascinates me, for keeping the seemingly infinite recursive nature of everything around me in mind, it's a very rapid and intuitive leap to realise I cannot possible understand the truth of ANYthing around me, and that the very idea of "truth" or "normal" are absolute rubbish. And that, dear readers, has given ME seemingly infinite patience and humour to draw on in times of trouble. I'm far less patient with myself, for my perception of same is so much more accurate than of anyone or thing else, but sometimes I can even step back and joyously perceive the beautiful chaos that is Me.

I'm rambling a bit, I know, but I find it very hard, when examining recursion or chaos theory, to focus on a single point long enough to find the simplicity therein. Which, of course, is why I so revere people such as Mandelbrot. Building on other peoples work, he was able to focus on a single point long enough to grab the thread and follow it into the Rabbit Hole. Very, very cool in my book.

BTW, if you're interested in a visual understanding of the Mandelbrot fractal sequence, the full set can viewed here.Step 14 (of 14) fractal

No matter what you believe or value, isn't Life an amazing wonderland? Now get out there and see all those recursive physical and behavioural patterns in your world!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Uplift - Embrace Your Oddity

When immersed in the most unusual circumstances, it's easy to believe no one else can possibly understand, and to withdraw from life. And then...well, just watch this to see what I'm talking about:

Red Rabbit from Egmont Mayer on Vimeo.

As a bonus, I offer this lovely piece of animation that's been around on the Net for awhile, but it's always worth watching if for no other reason than its sheer inventiveness:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Questioning Authority, or Fear Is The Mindkiller

The past couple years, I've managed to reconnect with some very dear friends from my distant past. After 30+ intervening years, we have all changed a bit, but essentially we're much the same, and it's been truly wonderful to talk with each of them again. Except for two of us, who are childless, everyone I knew in their teens is a grandparent now. I find myself watching crowds, and zeroing in on the people with paunches and grey hair. Although I know those folks are my age, my insides are confused by that idea. And indeed, I don't look as old as a lot of my own generation, but that's due to a lucky role of the genetic dice, for the truth is, I AM an aging Boomer. One thing I like about my generation, at least around these parts, is how we've not cratered to the societal expectation of a more conservative style with hair and wardrobe. Both men and women wear their greying hair long. Gimmee a head with hair - long, beautiful hair! Shinin', gleamin',streamin', flaxen', waxen. Give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer...

One gift my generation gave the world was "Question Authority." Of course, in keeping with my overall yin/yang view of life ("that which appears to be a cream puff frequently turns out to be a shit sandwich - and vice versa," or "that which is our strength is also our weakness"), I believe said gift is also a curse, for there is also much good to be had by not questioning authority. Had I questioned my father's insistence that I stay out of the street as a kid, for example, I might not be here to tell the tale. But don't misunderstand, I am Queen of Asking "Why?" In fact, some of the brutality visited on me as a kid came about as a direct result of asking my father "But WHY?" Poor parental units, they were SO not up to the task of a sharp little tyke like me...but that's a story for another day.

I have been watching all the hubbub over the proposed health care reform, and it occurred to me that what I'm seeing is my generation and the one before it at odds yet again. See, the generation before mine were the kids who went to high school under the Truman and Eisenhower Administration in the 50s...Bobby Soxers who towed the social line and seldom questioned authority. Obviously, a bunch of people from that generation ended up siding with my generation and questioning authority, but the majority didn't. And therein lies the real "Generation Gap," in my opinion.

When I see the people screaming and throwing tantrums over the proposed change in the status quo, I can't help but notice more often than not it's the Bobby Soxers vs the Boomers. Strikes me it's a way for people to voice their overall frustration with a life that simply never lived up to their expectations, but a discussion of the whats and whys of those expectations will have to saved for another day.

I have a lot of friends in their sixties, ten+ years older than me, and we are frequently at odds when discussing political and social mores (pronounced "MOHrays" it's a Latin term for societal norms, customs, virtues or values). More often than not, it all comes down to fear. In order to question authority, you either have to be terribly afraid (enough to overcome your socialized fear), or simply foolish or foolhardy enough to ask "why?" If the former, there's a natural aggressiveness that almost invariably cues a switch to fight (as in fight or flight) mode.

Now I could go on, talking about how my generation was so pampered and all powerful (due to our sheer numbers and the advent of our births immediately following a terrifying and fiercesome war), and thus never learned the value of fear, or about how the generations just before and after mine have a right to be angry, overshadowed as they are by the Boomers, but let's just stay focused on the matter at hand, shall we? And the matter at hand is health care for our citizenry.

I believe the majority of Americans can agree that the health care system in place simply doesn't work. A change of the status quo is required at this time. But what to do? If you look at Canada and Britain and Scandinavia for examples of socialized (stay with me, I know that word scares a lot of you) medicine, you will see ways in which those systems work very well and ways in which they don't. Still, the one thing that CAN be said is no one is without critical care in those countries, something that sadly cannot be said of this country's medical system.

Over the past two decades, due purely to financial woes, small towns across this nation have been forced to shut down their hospitals and clinics, doctors forced to leave those towns for a larger population base - aka more money. One of the things driving the increase in costs to the medical establishment is preventative measures. When was the last time you had anyone get near any of your body fluids (the mouth is DEFinitely included) without gloves? If you're old enough, you remember doctors and nurses washing their hands before and after treating you. Not any more. Now there's a separate trashcan emblazoned with a bio-hazard icon, and the omnipresent box of gloves. Every time a medical person enters a treatment room with the intent of touching you, a fresh pair of gloves is required. I used to worry about disposable diapers taking over the landfills of the world, now I worry about plastic bottles and latex gloves.

Let's say a doctor sees fifteen patients a day...and that's a conservative estimate in many modern practices. Let's further assume three separate trips into the room for treatment, with a pair of fresh gloves for both doctor and nurse each time. That's a total of 90 pairs of gloves a day! A box of 40 latex gloves runs about $30. So each day that's a cost of about $70, just in gloves, for each pair of doctor and nurse. Using the most common business estimate of 240 work days a year, you end up with a whopping $16,800 a year in GLOVES! For a single pairing of doctor and nurse in a quiet little practice.

But I fear I have rat holed a bit. The thing is, we Americans (others, too) have been carefully trained to believe our government and medical establishment is supremely competent, and will take care of us, absolutely. A very precise parent-child relationship between authority and the general populace has been crafted over the last 50-100 years, and it worked pretty well for most of that time. But neither our world nor our society can afford that relationship to continue.

We must now be encouraged in our pursuit of adulthood and the inevitable partnership it will bring. We must question Authority, not angrily, but for real answers and assistance in our pursuit of social adulthood. And that Authority must learn to calm its own fears, for we have no desire to do without them, we just want to be treated as partners rather than children. We can learn to take on some of the work that we rely too heavily on social systems to do for us, and in doing so take responsibility for ourselves again, rather than embracing our destructive sense of individual and sociological entitlement.

None of this is easy, but the potential rewards are great. If we can muster the wherewithal to step up and accept responsibility for ourselves, our descendants will have a far healthier society than the one in which we currently live. And isn't that what people insist their primary concern is for; "the kids"? So folks, let's stop throwing tantrums, take a few deep breaths, and start talking with one another in an effort to build a better world - for ourselves and for our children.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nrrd Grrl Alert!

I am PSYCHED, kids! You may remember my Oct. 26 '08 up the illicit footage of Tron 2 from last year's Comic-Con, so when I suddenly thought to look for what was released THIS year, you may have heard the shriek of total glee when I watched the following real-deal movie trailer. This is SO kewl...

Now go to YouTube and watch it full-screen in is a fun glimpse, with perennial hottie Jeff Bridges back in the same role he played in the 82' version.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Uplift - Blueberry Girl

"I have seen landscapes...which, under a particular light, made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.
Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants; and only giants will do."

- C.S. Lewis
Here is a lovely animated version of the beautiful poem "Blueberry Girl," written by the always wonderful Neil Gaiman, and illustrated by the masterful Charles Vess. The entire book can be seen and read at Harper-Collins Children's Books.

Mr. Vess has illustrated another wonderful Gaiman poem, Instructions (on how to survive a fairy tale), due out in March 2010. A fantabulous preview of the illustrations, with a marvelous glimpse of his process can be seen on Vess's Greenman Press site.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fair Trade

Every year, the Jefferson County Fair is held just across the street from my house. Possibly because it's as handy as it is, I find myself entering my art each year. Years past, I've been very pleased to get blue ribbons on everything I entered, and I expected this year's entries would receive the same accolades.

I was wrong.

I entered three ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and one of my art dolls. The ATCs won 1st Place Blue Ribbons and Honorable Mention, which was very exciting for me. But the real excitement was centered around the art doll.

His name is Yuri, and the piece is titled "Lunchtime." I see Yuri as the quiet son of immigrants, working steadfastly as an underling at his desk job, taking his lunch to the park every day and feeding the birds. He is so sweet and gentle that the birds have come to know and trust him.

In creating a doll, I start with the head, as the size and expression that emerges as I sculpt tells me who the character is, what size the rest of the body needs to be, etc. I usually know the character very well by the time I've finished sculpting a head, as they seem very pleased to have with whom someone to share their story, and I'm a good listener.

I start by selecting a set of dentures and eyeballs from my supply (I make dentures and eyes once a year or so), and around them I sculpt the head, arms and hands, legs and feet using my own unique polymer blend. Then I begin creating a body to fit the head and limbs. First I create a wire skeleton from wire, wrapping it to create the necessary "joints and bones." Next I sew batting in place over the wire, doing a crud musculature sculpting as I go. I follow that with a "skin" (nylon fabric), needle sculpting muscles and body features in place as I go. Finally, I attach the finished head and limbs. The clothes are entirely handsewn by from my own patterns (which differs from figure to figure, of course), his hair is Nutria fur (a tiny piece of an ancient coat), and the belt and shoes are made from old glove leather, with polymer soles.
But I know you're waiting to hear the judging results, right? Yuri got a 1st Place Blue Ribbon, but he ALSO got "Best of Class!" I am SUCH a proud artist today...and with the cash award, I just might have $20 to spend while at the Art & Soul Art Retreat in Portland late next month!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Curious Thoughts

Forelius Ant

I read a TON of material, primarily scientific books and magazines, but my personal adage has long been "if it has text and doesn't move away from me, I'll read it." Now I'm not saying I reTAIN all the data I take in, though I very likely do; I just haven't figured out how to access all the files. Today, I was reading American Naturalist, and encountered the following information:

Scientists in Brazil have observed an unusual act of selflessness. When Forelius ants retire for the night, one or more workers remain outside the colony, kicking sand to seal the entrance. If that protects those within from predators or rain, it dooms the outside ants to die overnight of exposure. It's the first known case of "pre-emptive self-sacrifice" among insects.

Forelius Ant Colony Entrance Being Closed

After I read that, I just sat by the window, looking out, thinking. How do they choose who stays outside? DO they chose, or is it a case of last one home's a rotten egg? And do the sacrificial ants stay outside the entrance and die, or do they move away to remove any trace of lure for predators? If they stay, what happens to their little exoskeletons the next day? Do the inside ants move them away? Eat their hapless brothers? Just ignore them and crawl over and around them as they go about their antish business? Surely not the last, as there would be quite a pile of little bodies after just a few nights, and that would surely attract those pesky predators. And if they're capable of self-sacrific for the greater good of the colony, is there some modicum of sentience within those ants we are simply too large and bumbling to have discerned? Do ants mourn their losses? Does the fact that SOMEONE is gonna hafta stay outside and die cause them pause on any level? And if so, does that mean their tiny ant brains are convoluted enough that they think, and if they think, is evolution inevitable? And evolution to what end? A better system that allows all the ants to live? Or some Faith grown around the inevitability of death and self-sacrifice? For that matter, does the evidenced self-sacrifice represent sentience all by itself?

Life offers us such ponderous wonders to examine. In an ant's self-sacrifice, I find the same question every human has asked, "Why?" And the answer is as complex as all those questions above, and as simple as "because it must be done."

I suppose Mr. Spock said it best for me, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

RIP Les Paul

I couldn't choose just one...Les Paul was one of my, listen, learn

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Death Is Weird

My mother and me, 1998 - Negative energy in abundance on display

Late last week, my housemate's mother died in the south of Spain, so there's an air of inevitable sadness around here. Peter's gearing up for a trek to Spain and then on to Denmark to sort out matters relevant to her estate, and that's good because it gives him a place to focus and thus not just fall into a sad place. Peter and Lynn only saw one another every couple of years, though they spoke on the phone weekly, so her death is being felt differently than my dad's was for me. With dad, I spent either every day or every other day with him the last five years of his life, and when he was suddenly gone, I had a huge hole in my world I'm just now (almost four years later) beginning to really fill. There, now I've made myself cry again. I still miss him so much.

*deep shaky sigh*

Back when Peter and I were something other than two people living very separately under the same roof, Lynn wanted me to be her daughter in law; daughter to her, but that was never going to happen. I've had two mother in laws, one of whom was the mom my own mother never managed to be, so I simply had no desire to rebuild another relationship in that mold. Still, we corresponded via the postal system, and I occasionally spoke with Lynn on the phone. I knew she was failing when our telephone conversations were thick with what I call "Danspanglish." Lynn (and her son, Peter) are Danes, with English as their second language, and Spanish as their third. As Lynn's mind started to slip, she frequently forgot I didn't speak Danish, or forgot the English word or term needed, so she lapsed into Danish or occasionally Spanish. Fortunately, I understand Danish well enough to give her the appropriate feedback during our conversations so she could keep talking. Most of the time, anyway. When her mind really started to go, I could answer her in English (or Spanish), and she'd motor on, still speaking Danish.

It seems every time someone dies, I feel as though I've let them down, no matter how hard I worked at being whatever it was I perceived them as needing. Even with dad, who lived with me, and when that became dangerous/impossible, lived in an terrific Assisted Living facility, I felt like a failure. In spite of spending 2-8 hours every other day, I felt as as though I had let him down when I didn't happen to drive across town to be with him the day he died because I was "tired." I beat myself over that, silently shrieking "How DARE you allow yourself to be too tired to visit your father! If you had visited, he wouldn't have died!" The logical side of my psyche repeatedly insists I need to get a GRIP; to remember that he was 96 and had repeatedly and intensely espoused a desire to die.

And then there was Margie, my dear, sweet, wonderful mother in law, to whom I was fortunate enough to fully impart the depth of my affection, but at the end I still felt as though I should have somehow been there for her more than I had.
Me. Today. 56 Years Old and an Orphan

Having read Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross, along with the Tibetan Book of the Dead and number of other psychological and spiritual texts and treatises on the subject of death and dying, and as a largely Buddhist-oriented person, I understand that death is part of the cycle of life. I have long done psychopomp work with both animals and humans, so it's not like I'm wary or afraid of death. Intellectually and even spiritually, I get the process and the cycle that both the living and the dead experience, but emotionally? I still ache, just like everyone else. I still experience those five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Knowing that everyone goes through the loss of their loved ones at some point, and thus I'm not alone in my pain, helps a little, but all in all, grief is a solitary experience.

So both our bats are gone, and both our belfreys, too. Peter and I are both orphans now, and marching forward to stand at the front of the line, next to go. Death (and life) is weird, isn't it?.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wish I'd Said That

From Southern Belle comes this spot-on rant about the current Health-Care hullabaloo. Agree or not, it's very well written, and it certainly speaks for me. And before you go off on me, just remember how great it is that we can openly disagree. I'd go into the difference between the Bush Regime and the Obama Administration, but, well, you probably have a pretty good idea of my point of view by the two descriptive words I just chose for each man's Presidential term.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life As An Observer

Stephen Hickman's Dragon's Hoard

I have found through experience that whatever my weakness is, it's almost always also my strength. As just one example, because my mind is constantly working and whirring, I often spout ideas/thoughts that people either don't understand or find offensive. Fortunately, because my mind is constantly thinking, thinking, thinking, I often discern patterns and solve problems that others haven't. See what I mean? My weakness and my strength. The yin and the yang of me.
And so it is with my propensity for observation. I'm an observer, an Enneagram Type Five (with a very healthy Four wing and a somewhat less healthy Six wing), and a Myers-Briggs INTP/INFP (I wobble). All that classification jargon simply means I like to watch (why, yes I DO love Jerzy Kosinski's Being There). Makes me an uncomfortable mingler at parties, but if I'm allowed to sit on the sidelines and just watch, I'm happy to attend. The up side of being an observer is that it makes me a far, far better artist. I don't just see, I observe and examine, forming a relationship in the process with the subject of my focus.

By forming that relationship, feelings grow within me, and those feelings get applied to my artistic expression of the observed object or person. To put it another way, when I paint a tree, I don't just paint a brown trunk and branches and some green leaves. Rather, I paint a living entity that moves with the air around it, changes with the seasons, sees things in ways I will never be able to. And with my heart so full of what I've "seen," I create a tree from the inside, out.

That's cool, right? Well here's the downside: having formed a relationship with an item, I am now attached to it. Thus, I have a ton of stuff in my life to which I am attached due to a perceived relationship. I can pick up almost any item in my home and weave an entire tale of its existence in my life. Not so much memories as a recounting of our time together. Makes it REALLY hard to let go of things.

So it's brilliant being an observer because it increases my soul's breath in the process, and it rots because I'm like some great dark dragon, always watching from atop her hoard of "treasure."

Just burn the house down around me, will ya?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Random Thoughts and Questions - Part Two

Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli

From my journal, 2004 - Part Two:

"If, as many close friend have said, I truly do vibrate at a different frequency than other people, how does that effect my life? Where are the others who vibrate at a similar rate to that of mine? Do I even see the people who vibrate at the extreme other end of the spectrum from me? Again, can this "vibrational spectrum" be quantified and thus measured and mapped?

Vibrational spectrum is not a direct indicator of higher or lower intelligence, except (possibly) as perceived by society, in that quicker pattern recognition (due to higher vibrational rates) results in faster reactions to a broad spectrum of stimuli: human-human, human-machine, human-animal, and human-situational interactions.

It seems I have chosen a path on which tests and measurements of the brain/psyche are important. To wit:

1a) The effect of walking labyrinths
1b) The effect of different patterns & placements
2a) Pattern recognition as a hallmark of evolved intelligence
2b) Pattern recognition across species
3a) Vibrational spectrums

Do I know what all that means? Actually, yes, but I suspect anyone else reading it may think I'm a whack job. And who knows, maybe I am. Or maybe I simply vibrate at a different frequency than you.

Which leads directly to my quote of choice for the day:

"We all agree that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough." - Niles Bohr to Wolfgang Pauli

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Random Thoughts and Questions

From my journal, 2004, Part One of some deep thoughts:

"Can everything be made to fit a given theorum? And if so, then can all philosophies/ideas/theories be distilled into/quantified as a single, pure formula?

Game theory would then apply directly, which means that all thought and action is fully predictable and therefore free will does not exist. Does game theory factor in "free will?" It must, or there can be no conclusive pattern recognition.

Is pattern recognition the key to higher (more evolved) intelligence?

How can testing be generated that will measure pattern recognition - within the human species, and across all life forms?"

Tomorrow, Part Two.

And here's the salient quote for the day: "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible." - Einstein

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gorr'am Great Show - You Can't Take the Sky From Me

If you've never seen Firefly, Joss Whedon's brilliant Space Western, I'm very sorry to inform you that your life is simply far less for the oversight. And oversight it must surely be, as no truly sentient being could possibly intentionally leave such a great experience out of their life! I keep expecting to grow tired of it, but after multiple viewings of both the show and the feature-length film that followed, I find I only hunger for more. The balance of humor and pathos with the delicious and oh-so-delightfully balanced assembly of characters is just perfect. Here's a video that offers but a small but lyrical glimpse of the heart of Firefly...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Random Thoughts and Questions - Mind the Gap

Almost from birth, I've kept a journal consisting of thoughts, questions, and ideas in written and graphic form. I've been creating what many in the art world now refer to as "art journaling." I fell out of the habit in my late twenties, but picked it back up when I landed at IBM, and have simply carried on ever after. There's some pretty cool stuff contained in my shelf of hard-bound 8x10 volumes, so I thought I'd occasionally share a tidbit randomly selected by opening one book or another and dumping the contents of the page here. That said, here's of my "what if" questions I ask the cosmos...

"Assuming the pundits are right and the world continues in its current education pattern, then if 2068 is statistically the last year a man will earn a BA, what will society be like my 2100? What is the socio-economic impact of a female-dominated world; a world in which women are the educated sect and men the physically adept? Would the division grow and the two sexes eventually divide into two different types (genus) of humans? Would the intellectual and economic power of women inevitably extend to genetic manipulation? Would this be a more peaceful world? Would physical labor suddenly become more valuable? Will childbearing change to a laboratory event and childrearing become largely a male endeavor, and if so, how will that shift the mindset of those children and eventually the balance of power in the world?

Just because females are more successful in their pursuit of the intellect, does it stand to reason that females will eventually control the world again?"

Mind the Gap

And because I collect quotes that move me, I'll close with one from Jean Houston; "People cannot stand the spiritual aridity and meaningless of living on the surface too long."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

...And A Bag of Frozen Spinach On My Head

For almost a full month now, Whatever is Wrong With me, or as I like to refer to it, "W3," has been in varying degrees of flare up, resulting in fairly constant iterations of second-guessing, internal sleuthing, and just plain old being tired and bored with myself (yeah, that WAS Bruce singing in the background). The usual suspects, painkillers that is, are doing what they do best, not touching the pain, but making me care less about being in pain. So I'm cycling through trying to figure out the source of W3, just sinking into miserable self-loathing, and occasionally deciding (aGAIN) that I'm doing my situation no good by giving in to the pain.

This morning I decided that since laying low hadn't made the pain go away or even abate in the least, it was time to tell the pain to fuck off and just get up, take a big dose of something strong, and DO something. I mean, come ON. I really like movies and computer games and reading, but it's summertime, the day outside is glorious, and I'm SICK of being down.

So I crabbed down the hall and into the kitchen to whip up the peach cobbler that I've been threatening to make since the peaches showed up in the bowl on the counter a week ago. I plugged Rod the Pod into my ears and queued up Cat Stevens. Hey babe, if you're looking for a hard-headed woman, here I am!

I peeled those peaches, slogged together the batter, melted butter in the baking dish and flung the assembly into the oven. In the process, the Demented One (the ancient weiner dog I inherited from my dad) had one of his increasingly and exhaustingly common "accidents" that required my immediate attention (what!? you need more details than THAT?! what're you, nuts?) in the next room.

As I pitched the paper towels into the bin, I noticed some trash on the floor instead of in the bag, so I kneeled down, grabbed it, and stood up. WHAM! went my head on the forgotten peninsula above me. I staggered backward from the blow, and almost managed to remain upright, but nope, down I went with a howl of pain.

Holding my head as I lay there, I felt just totally overwhelmed, so I let the tears flow. I just let it out as Peter, who'd heard the crash and thought I'd dropped something but came out to check ANYway, and uncharacteristicaly rubbed my shoulder in commiseration. After laying there, sobbing about how tired I was of being hurt, of being in pain; of how sick I am of every. single. day. being another challenge, I finally stopped. I got up, dizzy and with a massive headache building rapidly.

Peter opened the freezer and reached for an icepack for the rising goose egg on my skull. Of course all the icepacks never made it back in from the bus after the Fourth, so he grabbed a bag of frozen spinach and held it out to me. At the look on my face, in a completely guileless voice he asked "Would peas be better?" Rolling my eyes, I took the bag and flopped it onto the top of my head. After a few minutes, I realised that since I was going to thaw the spinach ANYway, I might as well make a casserole, so for dinner tonight we're having spinach and broccoli casserole to go with the short ribs leftover from last night, and a very nice peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream for desert.

Hey, when life gives you lemons; make lemonade, right?