Sunday, December 7, 2014

Emotional Alchemy

    1. an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. 

    1. a form of chemistry and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and concerned principally with discovering methods for transmuting baser metals into gold and with finding a universal solvent and an elixir of life.
    2. any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.
Many Middle Age and Renaissance practitioners, and indeed Sir Isaac Newton a few centuries later, were focused on this quest, the transmutation of base metals to gold.  Why gold?  I venture that it is because of its beauty and malleability coupled with its incorruptability.

My gold wedding ring, seen in the picture above, is an example.  It was able to be shaped into the form desired and I wear it every day with no concern of tarnishing or rusting.  Twenty years from now, it will retain its pure beauty.

Would that I could experience an emotional state like that, eh?  It would be an emotional state that was beautiful and retained that beauty through the day regardless of the corrosive efforts of events and interactions with others.  It would be malleable and formed to fit my core, my individuality, my world experience.

So, this would be the quest of emotional alchemy, the transmutation of base emotions to emotional gold.  It would be a mood elixir, a universal solvent for experienced problems.  There are two fundamental aspects that would need to be answered to find this emotional gold:
  1. What emotional state is this gold?
  2. If we can define that, how do we get there, especially since we said the emotional was not volitional?
Well, I propose that these are two questions that individuals have been trying to answer for themselves since time immemorial.  Selling the answers in various ways has become quite a thriving cottage industry.  Some say the answers are to be found in religion and giving oneself to God.  Some say the answers are in meditation, some in philosophy, some in wealth and acquisition, some in competition, some in withdrawal ...

If you came here for an answer, I fear you'll be disappointed.  I don't think there is a universal answer that can be defined.  But ... every so often ... ah, there it is.  Oh, that golden moment!

How does it appear for you?  Do you have a path of return?

My good friend and fellow Loose Blogger, Ramana Rajgopaul  encouraged me to come back and write a piece, something I haven't found motivation to do for a while.  Good news!  I enjoyed it and that is part of the path to return, so we shall see ...  Go visit the members of our consortium to see what they came up with,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman, good eggs and dear friends all!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Peek a Boo

My granddaughter Danica, 10 months

Ashok brought us this topic and I immediately thought of my newest granddaughter and of the game of Peek a Boo.  That made me think of her development and started my research.

Piaget felt that Peek a Boo, and the fact that it delighted the child so much, was an indication that the child had no sense of object permanence yet, that when you covered your face, the infant felt that you were really gone!!!  But, science doesn't allow a theory to stand on the merit of its beauty of though alone and observation with clever experiments and better ability to observe have thrown this into question.

When a train is moved behind a screen after a small child can see a mouse is in the way of the train's progress, then the mouse is moved when the train and mouse are behind the screen and the train emerges on the other side with the mouse still in place after the screen is removed - uh, I couldn't think of a way to say that more awkwardly - the child should show no more interest than when the mouse is not there if they had no sense of object permanence.  Yet, as young as 3 1/2 months, they do show more excitement, indicating that they have some awareness of the objects impending collision behind the screen!  They must still be aware of the objects to show that excitement.  Or some such.

Does this change your world?  Perhaps not, but for me, I found it fascinating, just as I found it fascinating that a dog has much greater sense of object permanence than a cat and that a crow develops a sense of object permanence fairly much on the level of a human.

Now, who'd have ever thought that the word Peek a Boo would elicit such wonder??? 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Personal Debt

This topic was brought to us by the sage of the Loose Blogger Consortium, Ramana Rajgopaul of Ramana's Musing fame.  And, since he did so, of course synchronicity immediately came into  play ...

Ben Bernanke has a mortgage on his home in DC, a domicil valued at $815,000.  Bernanke gets $250,000 per speech and just signed a book deal for seven figures.  But, he just changed jobs and he was turned down when he tried to refinance!  What was the job he formerly had, you might ask.  He was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve for America.  Yes, it is that Ben Bernanke.

How stupid is this?  Is there no human intervention or common sense left at all?  Can you imagine anyone who is a better bet to successfully pay his mortgage off in time?

It used to be individuals who had the corner on insanity.  Now it is the system.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

All's Well That Ends Well on a Dead End Street

Two weeks ago, Maria brought us All's Well That Ends Well and this past week Maxi/Rummuser - which must be an interesting hybrid individual! - brought us Dead End Streets.  Since I am behind and since my life refuses to slow down, I thought I'd be clever and combine them just as Maxi and Ramana have somehow managed to do!

Life is fairly literally a dead-end street.  I mean, there is really no other exit than to die.  Makes things interesting.

Of course, unless you really get deep into physics and spirituality, life is also a one-way street.  You are born, you grow, learn and age, then you exit.  You don't get to change the order.  That means you really are commited and really need to figure out how to deal with it.  Otherwise, it really isn't going to end well, is it?

So, what does ending well mean?  Well, it means that all the journey to this point is redeemed with meaning and value.  At least that is what I get from it so far.  If we are lucky and persistent, it may also mean that we enrich those sharing the journey in some loving way or another.

But, there is also another way to deal with the end, a way which is also consistent with the first view I've given: change your perspective on the dead-end.  A living example from my own literal street is the description of it as not a dead-end street, but instead as a cul-de-sac.  A cul-de-sac, as nearly as I can tell, simply differs from the dead-end in that it is easier to turn around on and is designed to let you range back through the entry path by design.  The life equivalent of a cul-de-sac is the ability to revisit one's past at will as the end nears to heal relationships left hanging, to enjoy bucket-list items of things undone and to heal one's own regrets and wounds so they don't continue as burdens.  It allows viewing life in a more flexible manner allowing gentle correction.

It does something else, though.  It allows the view that not all is futile.  It means merely that it is personal and, as with all cul-de-sacs, there is a privacy so important to peace.  And it means that you have neighbors with which to share that quiet privacy without the hurry and the noise.

I like our cul-de-sac.

I like the cul-de-sac that is my life.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Are the Mystics Right? Is Time an Illusion?

I am late getting this piece to press, a rather ironic statement considering the topic.  And considering that I was the one to suggest it to the LBC.

We have been told by mystics since what we perceive as the beginning of time that time itself is an illusion.  Annoying isn't it, when they tell you things that are obvious balderdash.  Every one of us experiences time ... well ... all the time!

In the days of the earlier scientists, time and space were separate, set entities like we observe in our everyday experience.  Then along came Einstein  and he did a funny thought experiment.  He asked himself if he were sitting on a light beam, traveling with it at the speed of light and the light hitting his eyes were from a clock face, what would he see?  Well, he reasoned, if I am traveling at the same speed and in the same direction a the light coming to me from the clock face, then I would never see the hands move!  The image would always be the same image!  Does that mean that time would stop????

Excitable guy that he was, he started going off into mental journeys pursuing the implications.  Kind of like Lewis Carrol projecting his imagination into Wonderland to see where it took him, Einstein had found his own Wonderland.  Most people would have left it at that, a flight of frivolous but fun fantasy, but Einstein wasn't made that way.

Before he was done, he had worked out theories of Special and General Relativity that turned our understanding of what was constant and what was changing totally on its head.  The beauty of it was that he created predictions of experiments ALL of which had to come out as he predicted or the entire theory was invalidated!

Rather than go through the proofs, I will give you some of the proven results.  An astronaut that has been in orbit is slightly younger than he would have been had he stayed on the ground.  It is proven by sychronizing two atomic clocks, putting one in orbit for awhile, and then comparing the two after the landing.  And, just precisely as predicted at the turn of the 20th Century, the clock put in orbit would show a time slightly earlier than the one on kept on the ground.

But, just as the mystics have told us in their pronouncements about time, Einstein did not replace certainty with the random.  In fact, by Einstein's theories, we have greater accuracy in measurements of time and motion than with Newton's.  In fact, I have read that he originally wanted to call his theories the theories of IRRELATIVITY, because they showed what was irrelative to the motion of the observers.

So, this is not an effort to be loose in thinking or to lose ourselves in some fun fantasy, it is an effort to tie down physical truth as far as possible.  The underlying, proven truth is that time as we experience it is in fact an illusion.  There is instead an unobservable combination called spacetime - and no, space is no more constant than time - and the truth lies below the surface of our five senses.  In other words, spacetime is a proven reality, but time as a separate thing is an illusion.

That we can be fooled so completely about the nature of our reality should usher in a profound humility.

Be sure to check out what the other members of the Loose Bloggers Consortium have to say.  The active bloggers, give or take a topic or a day are: AshokgaelikaaMaxiRamana and Shackman.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Teaching Values

Disclaimer: this piece relies heavily on cultural stereotyping.  Sorry about that, but I need archetypes to illustrate my point.  My bad.

When I was in my early 30's, I went to a seminar for mental health professionals about child care.  It was led by one of the leading sociologists from Europe, a woman of fine academic / practical pedigree, and the presentation was very well done indeed.  Out of this, I learned something that has stuck with me ever since and it goes like this ...

There are many types of mothers in many cultures in our world.  Some of the most notorious are Jewish mothers when it comes to passing along values, conscience and ethics to their children.  How do they do this?  By suffering with every move their children make and every change in the world, they guarantee a little guilt to continuously monitor activity and ethical concern.  The world is no longer an abstraction, but encapsulated in the mother and there are consequences to actions.  And, sometimes, it isn't even possible to solve.

Question: How many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Answer: That's OK, I'll just sit in the dark.

Gee, Mom!  I try so hard to make you happy.  You are with me always, everywhere.  There is only one mother in the world more effective than you in creating guilt, a tremendous motivater of ethical restriction, the Japanese mother!  She ALWAYS suffers silently.  The only thing more potent than the tangible is the imagined!  My Japanese friend must carry the weight of his mother's imagined inner agony in all situations.

Well, our family is not like either extreme.  We don't generate all that much guilt, we just romp together.  But, heaven help us, look what we've fostered:

Now, enjoy the entries by the other active LBC members.  I think I have their links on the right, but will check that out as I slowly get my act back together, LOL!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Honest Effort to Restart

Blogging, short for Web Logging, has migrated into something a bit more than logging for most of us.  It has become a philosophical and life values platform for people often having little past public profile.  We all become authors, pundits and leaders, for doesn't social media offer us "friends" and "followers" from all over the globe.  It really has some dramatic pluses.

However, what really matters in terms of life responsibility is what we find right in front of us, our families, our jobs, our face-to-face contacts on a daily basis.  That must come first and it can be quite a challenging thing here on the mortal coil.  People around us age, natural disasters happen, illness can befall even the young - and all of these things can lay claim upon our most precious resource, time!

I have always treasured my friends of the LBC.  That is the real reason I make this effort to restart, sitting on a bench in a developing back yard with a silly golf driving setup which works and was used yesterday by my son and me.  Soon, where I am sitting will be covered by a pergola and more dry climate plants will find their place as befits the changing water needs of California.

I invite you to sit with me and share with me as you would a friend or acquaintance in your tangible world.  Let us treat one another with respect and support, even when challenging ideas we share.  Whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent, believe in God or not or, like me, have a more nuanced view of it All, I can treasure your right to your well-considered personal views.  Likewise, I ask that you have a tolerance and respect for mine and know that both of ours grow with time.  Otherwise, it is best that we wish one another well on our journeys and part in peace.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Is Negative More Honest?

This is my re-entry into the LBC after an abscence explained in my previous post.  The Universe decided to call itself Ramana and tug me back!  So be it! :)

With the journey we have taken with so many since December of last year, a bumpy rollercoaster ride, the Lady Fossil and I have had ample laboratory situation to try out our beliefs regarding this hypothesis.  Add in the comments that have come in on social media and the mix of approaches by so many, it is a fine Petri dish of assorted organic material.  To this point, these are the results:

When it comes to challenging the beliefs of others, the negative is definitely more annoying and often not productive.  It seems to be a failure of grace and imagination, for the same challenge can often be put forth in a way that pulls the other to your side with some enthusiasm generated in the process.  Verdict: the negative is less effective in expression, but allowing it may be more effective in skeptical analysis.

Example in point is the situation with two surgeries from two doctors over the past few months for Lafawnda.  The initial surgery was by a doctor who is not a specialist in endometriosis, while the second was performed by a surgeon who is not only a specialist, but is world-renowned in the field.  The first surgery was an abject failure.  The second was a great success.

Some feel positive thought requires that the first surgeon and his followup pronouncement that the problem was in Lafawnda's head since he could find no reason for her to be having that much pain be looked at in the positive light of his unawareness of the bigger issue.  The problem with this is that Lafawnda and her mother and I are left at the mercy of an inept authoritarian figure if we stop there and basically we acquiesce.  Instead, we viewed it with a proper perception of a negative reality with the surgeon and sought immediately to seek positive alternatives with Lafawnda's health.  Had we remained with "negative as more honest" as a bias, we would have hampered our search for the postive.

The followup, however, could be a hatefest that would yield no good result.  We have a daughter essentially healed, but we want the next patient to not be in the same helpless situation needlessly.  Therefore, a nurse who is a patient of the Lady F's will help Lafawnda write an uncompromising but thoroughly professional letter to the first surgeon to let him know the ultimate outcome and his negative effect on the patient's state of mind, to let him know that further training is available to him in this area to make him more effective in treatment, or, as an alternative, that there is another surgeon available who does specialize in this ailment and it very effective in its treatment.

Secondly, when it comes to the healing process, the positive is necessary, for it is a long process, filled with pain and discouragement, and often it is the positive encouragement that brings the patient through it.  The positive has to be authentic, though, and that is often where the believers in the negative mistake it for greater honesty is they see the positive as inauthentic.

My view after all of this?  The negative is on an even playing field with the positive when it comes to honest assessment and should not be hindered, but it should not masquerade as the end of analysis.  It may be equal in honesty as expression issuing forth from that assessment, yet still have less value in improvement of a situation.  

Belief in health of any kind is positive.  Assessment of illness can be honestly negative, but it needs to seek its positive partner ASAP to find health.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Writing From the Edge of the Continent

Being the clever fellow I am, the continent in the title is both literal and metaphorical.  The Lady Fossil and I are returning from the Central Valley with Lafawnda to the Bay Area - and anyone acquainted with California knows that is the equivalent of turning on the air conditioner - and I have good things to report!  But, first the background since I haven't written anything since forever ago ...

All continents have many locales and my metaphorical one is no exception.  It is a continent of events and a rather large land it is.  It formed long ago, back when my daughter's neice drowned in the swimming pool and was revived thankfully with no residual damage whatsoever.  On top of that, it uncovered an unrelated developmental deficit that is now being addressed to her considerable benefit.

We moved to another countryside very quickly (the next week) when our newest granddaughter was born.  This is what she looks like now:

Baby D is healthy, cute and doing just fine, thankyouverymuch!  She is kind of vacation country for us you might say.

So, the country was nowhere near explored yet and within two weeks of Baby D's birth I was unexpectedly gven a job offer that I never expected to take.  The job is quite challenging and if you want to see the products I am working on as a programmer on the most challenging work I've ever done, check out this link:

Between formal business accounting automation and vector mathematics, I put in a full day!  Four days, actually, because I didn't fully close down my business and I take care of other business ventures in the meantime.  Among them is a new educational tool that I hope to unfold to you soon that shows great promise.

Busy, busy, busy.

So, in February, Lafawnda developed severe and debilitating pelvic pain that was diagnosed after several visits to the emergency room and the OB/GYN as Endometriosis.  But, hold that in your mind, for you have to realize this was so severe she had to stop her Dietetic Internship.  And walk away from a job position just offered to her.  And postpone her Master's Program.  But, life keeps happening - did I tell you I was now working slightly more than fulltime? - and our next door neighbor girl needed to get married.  And she had asked me to officiate.  You get the picture.

The wedding went very nicely indeed and they are a well-suited and beautiful couple who have been together as a couple for years:


And, Lafawnda in the meantime has had a surgery.  An ineffective surgery.  She insisted upon attending the wedding of her "sister", but she was in severed pain.  And we were in a search for a doctor who wouldn't tell her that he saw nothing that should be causing this much pain and telling her that she could go back to school!  Pretty difficult when you can't walk, but, you know, doctors know more than the patient about what they are experiencing, right?

Well, we found the right doctor, a man practicing right in the Bay Area - not the last time we are happy to be living here - and he came to the situation with world-class expertise, but also a humility that was very refreshing.  He had patients coming to him from all over the world and has written an authoritative book on the subject.

Finally, the Master was able to do his work on April 22.  He found extensive endometrial tissue in her abdominal cavity and discovered that the scarring had even caused her colon to be adhered to her abdominal wall!  He found and removed tissue from the colon, the Fallopian tubes, the outside of the uterus, bladder, ureters and rectum.  It amazes us that the other doctor found none of this!

And that brings us to this trip at the edge of the continent.  She has now healed enough to be able to attend her fellow interns graduation and in another four weeks she will be back completely enough to work on the completion of her own program.

This is a dreadful disease experienced in greater and lesser degree by millions of women.  If it was a man's disease causing this much pain and debilitation, it would have become a subspecialty years ago and money would have been poured into its solution.  Doctors would be trained and certified rather than simply insisting they know what they are doing.  Unfortunately, though, my daughter was born a woman and they have a ways to go to achieve equal footing in this land.

But fortune has traveled with us and now we drive along the sunny edge of the continent looking forward to what the morrow will bring!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Little Explanation

I have not been posting or making the rounds lately in the blogosphere and I want to give a bit of an explanation as to why.  I promised everyone a ways back that I had a surprise announcement and then was promptly upstaged by the birth of my newest little granddaughter!  How rude!

Everyone assumed that was the new announcement, but that one was scheduled for the second week in January and just came a bit early.  The good news is that Newbie Fossil is doing just fine and I am going to rename her Peanut Fossil at this stage.  It just fits her better!  But, back to my surprise announcement ...

I took a job!  There is a company that I did initial contract work for beginning in September of 1995.  Eventually, they hired one of my employees in 2001 to handle their needs onsite - and this was done with my blessing - and now they have run into some programming needs over the past year that I was best suited to help them with.   They then, at the end of the year, put together a package they offered me to see if I would come to work for them as an employee and it was definitely worth my time.

I have been way busy!  And now I have to board a flight!  Later ...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Give us this day our daily ...

This painting hung on a wall in our dining room - or that of my grandparents, perhaps, before that - for as long as I can remember.  It is, of course, an old man in prayer, saying grace over that which he has received and that which he treasures, the items of true sustenance, food and the written word.  It is very Christian at its best, a beautiful visual portrayal of simplicity, humility and gratitude.

As children, we were taught The Lord's Prayer with its line, "Give us this day our daily bread." and I cannot count the number of times in my life I have repeated this prayer in private and in communion with others.  This, I assume, is the source of the topic brought to the LBC today (yesterday, really, but among friends ...) by Padmini.  It embodies a very interesting stance toward the world, saying that sustenance is not earned as capitalism portrays, but rather that it is a gift of the divine to be appreciated, a gift to be shared and multiplied in our caring one for another.

For those who cannot see their way past the fact that Christianity was incorporated here, it can be stated with some variation of meaning in a different context by Omar Khayyam in his Rubaiyat:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness--

Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

It is a good way to be.