Thursday, August 31, 2006

To Whom It May Concern (or not):


I'm going to indulge in a bit of rambling today. It seems I'm feeling a little lost, no not lost, but disoriented. Sometimes the Earth seems to not be spinning just right on its axis so that I get a little topsy-turvy. In my reading about butterflies I learned that it's probably some kind of magnetic thing that guides Monarch butterflies in their sometimes thousands-of-miles-long migrations. Well, if a butterfly can have some kind of magnetic thing then why can't I? ;-) And though I don't really know much about any of that stuff I have read that the Earth's magnetic poles are shifting and that they have always done this. Anyway, whatever. Unfortunately, I'll probably never learn exactly why I feel this way sometimes.

I've had several posts started, but I can't seem to finish any of them yet. Primarily, I've been thinking about Cognitive Pyschology and Spirituality, Feminism (pros and cons, but mostly cons), the problems with Anthropic reasoning, Biological vs. Environmental Influences, Tricksters in History, and Magic Words and Alchemy. Is your head spinning yet? Mine is. LOL Maybe it's more than my poor little brain can handle.

Anyway, I just know there is some thread of something that will lead me back to my point. Whatever that is. You see, I'm so disoriented that I can't even decide if I need to go forewards, backwards, up, down, or what.

It's raining today. It's a nice steady rain, and while I was soaking in a hot bath (I hurt my back over the weekend) I opened the window over the tub so I could listen to the rainfall. I wish I could say it offered some relief or insight, but it didn't. It just sounded nice. Even Nature is ignoring me today.

And even writing this rambling piece of nothing I'm losing my way. David left very early this morning to go to Florida for a few days with his dad and brother. The disorientation isn't related to that because it was happening previous to that. I hope he has fun. He rarely gets to take any kind of break like that. And it's important now because his dad just had colon cancer surgery a few weeks ago. They got it all, but he's starting some chemo after he gets back as a precaution.

I've got some kind of spider or bug bite on my foot. It could be a brown recluse bite, but I didn't see what did it. I've had a couple of bites like this before. It's very painful and a little swollen. It will heal but leave a scar like the others. I wonder if I get bitten enough will I be like Spiderman? That would probably suck. Superheroes have hard lives. ;-) So does the Trickster. Both do tend to get beat up a lot, either from bad guys or people who don't like what you have for them. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, they say. I don't know if it's really possible not to. Be kind to your critics if you can shut them up that way, but if you can't, beat the shit out of them. LOL It doesn't pay to be moderate with some people because they'll just stab you in the back next chance they get. Et tu, Brute?

Well, it's time for me to go pick up the kids.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I have "issues" LOL

Freudian Inventory Results
Oral (60%) you appear to have a good balance of independence and interdependence knowing when to accept help and when to do things on your own.
Anal (40%) you appear to have a good balance of self control and spontaneity, order and chaos, variety and selectivity.
Phallic (70%) you appear to have issues with controlling your sexual desires.
Latency (50%) you appear to have a good balance of abstract knowledge seeking and practicality, dealing with real world responsibilities while still cultivating your abstract and creative faculties and interests.
Genital (43%) you appear to be somewhere between a progressive/openminded and regressive/closeminded outlook on life.
Take Free Freudian Inventory Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

Sunday, August 27, 2006

From the Chimerical Mailbag

(It's been a while since I've done one of these.)


Dear Rae Ann,

You are so corny. Your whole blog theme is dumb.

A Cynic



Dear Cynic,

True enough, I suppose, but the world would be much better off with more corniness and less cynicism. My advice to you is don't reproduce.

Sincerely,
Rae Ann


Hey Rae Ann,

What do you think about Pat Robertson's(oops! I just wasn't right in the head yesterday, lol) Buchanan's new book that says we're under an invasion from Mexico?

Curious



Hi Curious,

I think he's been reading my blog! ;-)

Thanks,
Rae Ann


Rae Ann,

Are you really a psychic? I think you're just delusional. There is no such thing as psychic ability.

A Skeptic



Hi Skeptic,

I hope to be able to better answer your question in the near future. Of course, I know that I'll never be able to convince you differently. ;-)

Madame Rae Ann


Dear Rae Ann,

I've noticed that you've been the victim of some plagiarism. What are you going to do?

Concerned Reader


Dear Concerned Reader,

Thanks for noticing. :-) I was kind of pissed at first, but then I realized that some people just can't think for themselves and have to steal other people's ideas. I'm very generous. Especially to the needy. I'm not as dumb as many people want to think. ;-)

Yours,
Rae Ann

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pluto's Wrath

Yesterday 'they' (the astronomical 'they') demoted Pluto from a real planet to a dwarf planet. Pluto is/was the God of the Underworld. Now, I'm not sure about astronomers, but I'm not too keen on picking on any gods of the underworld. That's just asking for trouble. ;-)

And trouble is what yesterday was all about as you might have noticed from my pictorial posts. The first was the skull-and-crossbones, albeit a pretty and sparkly version, which is the symbol for danger. The second was Munch's famous painting called The Scream.

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words so I'm keeping this short. I'll just say that Pluto chose my household to be the recipient of his wrath and dissatisfaction at being defenestrated.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Childhood Ambitions

What did you wish you could do when you were a child?

Have you found that no matter how fantastical it might have been then, that now you can in some way do that thing, even just in a small way?

This idea has been knocking around my mind for a while, but a recent comment I made at CIP's pretty well summed up one of my childhood ambitions. Here's part of the comment in case you don't want to click a link:

And my amateur psychoanalysis is an offshoot of my childhood ambition to be able to do the "Vulcan Mind Meld" like Spock. Of course, it might be more effective if I could actually put my fingers on someone's head to 'read' him. And in certain cases, I might even require to 'meld' in a more intense and exhaustive manner in order to really get the full picture. ;-)

Yeah, I'm a geek and I love the original Star Trek. I grew up watching it. I never got into the newer shows.



To me as a child the Vulcan Mind Meld was incredibly sexy. I so wanted to be able to do that, or have it done to me. And yes, I was somewhat precocious and sensed the intimacy of such an act even if I didn't think of it in explicitly sexual ways. Maybe I was a little bit in love with Spock because he could do that, and I thought that really experiencing another's thoughts and feelings was as close to them as you could get.





One of my favorite episodes was "Devil in the Dark" in which Spock manages to do the Mind Meld with the silicon-based Horta to learn that it was a she, a momma in fact, that was protecting her eggs. A man who could even communicate with a rock was alright by me. ;-)

It's unfortunate that Freud never mastered the Vulcan Mind Meld, but then it wasn't even invented when he was alive. ;-) I've been studying a bit about the history of feminism in preparation for a post about the New Feminine Mystique. In my reading I found that Freud longed to understand women but never succeeded. He once said:

The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is, what does a woman want?


Well, Dr. Freud, I have an answer for you, but this isn't quite the time for that yet. I'd just like to say that it doesn't require that a man knows know to do the Vulcan Mind Meld, but it does have to do with his willingness to let a woman do that to him.

Stay tuned for the next installment...

Update: Clicking the above sentence will take you to my answer to Freud.

Efficacy, Or Tommy's Been Hoed

Somehow I must have revived some long dormant neurons to have thought of the word "efficacy" after not thinking of it for so many years. Who says certain substances kill brain cells? ;-)


Paramount has given Tommy Cruise the boot. If you'll look at my sidebar at the listing of "Bad Seeds, Noxious Weeds, and Pitch Forks" you'll see that he is number two on the list. (Number one is some sociology professor who called me a bad mother just because I disagreed with him.) Tommy was put on that list because of his bad-mouthing Brooke Shields and psychiatry. (Coincidentally, I had my own psychiatric check-up this morning which went just fine thank you.) I have been boycotting Tom Cruise ever since his stupid outbursts. Apparently, Paramount noticed and acted appropriately. ;-)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Unedited

I am, I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair
I am, I cried
I am, said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why

"I Am, I Said" by Neil Diamond


The following is an unedited expression. Please, no one take any offense.

Subject: Through Perelman's Eyes
Time: 1:25:25 PM EDT
Author: ramskates
Mood: Sad
Music: "shot down in a blaze of glory"

I really wish I could run away this week. I wish I could go off alone into the 'wilderness' with some pot and not much else. Sometimes the life inside my head is so much more interesting than the life outside of it.

There's a mathematical genius named Perelman who is probably mentally ill and in need of medication and other treatment, but because he's a 'genius' people think it's cool or neat or admirable that he's isolating himself and that his illness is causing his judgment to be clouded. Apparently, he's solved some big thing, and that is cool and all that, but I have to wonder if he's fallen into some let-down over it. Sometimes chasing a big mystery will spur people's lives and when they finally solve it, it is so anti-climactic they crash. Perhaps he's sad that his life seems to have no purpose any more? Perhaps the answer he found has led him to conclude that Life isn't what he had hoped. I don't know jack-shit about that deep math. But I can imagine that solving a big riddle like that might seem like a disappointment. Not that I don't like solving riddles. I do. And I'm one of those people who gets very impatient if I can't figure one out in due time. But most of the riddles I experience involve people, and to be blunt, people are much less cooperative than numbers.

Yes, I want to repeat that. People riddles are much less cooperative than number riddles. I'm weary of trying to solve people riddles. If I could join Perelman in his isolation I would. I'm tired of trying to figure it all out too. And the things I have figured out do seem of little consequence because NO ONE LISTENS AND NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE.

But of course, the big difference here is that no one offers me any awards for my work. No recognition. No money. No nothing. Of course, I've not solved any big scientific mysteries (well, not that anyone can recognize). But if he doesn't like money or want to use it for better purposes, why doesn't someone offer it to someone who would appreciate it and use it for good? I'm rambling, but "fuck all y'all", as my friends in NC like to say.

Fuck all y'all.

I'm sure that's exactly what Perelman is thinking too.

So, who's a liar?

Saw this at Guy's Savage Farming:




In some interesting timing, a previous post "I Was Wrong" has experienced a burst of traffic in the last few days.

Another quiz

Found this one at the same place as the sportscar one. That site has an interesting explanation of the origins of the idea behind this one.

I'm a Talent!

You're a risk-taker, and you follow your passions. You're determined to take on the world and succeed on your own terms. Whether in the arts, science, engineering, business, or politics, you fearlessly express your own vision of the world. You're not afraid of a fight, and you're not afraid to bet your future on your own abilities. If you find a job boring or stifling, you're already preparing your resume. You believe in doing what you love, and you're not willing to settle for an ordinary life.

Talent: 64%
Lifer: 44%
Mandarin: 38%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

But of course!

(Saw this at Kat's.)

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!



You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.


Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday and Hormonal Nonsense

This would be better if it had a picture to go with it.


You scored as Sloppy and Weird. You are the sloppy and weird happy bunny. You aren't neat and you aren't normal and you don't mind

Sloppy and Weird

100%

Cute but Psycho

92%

Kiss My Ass

83%

You Suck and Thats Sad

67%

It's All About Me

58%

Love Sucks

50%

I Hate You so Bad

25%

You Smell Like Butt

17%

What's Your Happy Bunny?
created with QuizFarm.com



You Are 66% Evil

You are very evil. And you're too evil to care.
Those who love you probably also fear you. A lot.



You Are Iceman

You tried to live a normal life, but it just wasn't possible
A bit of a slacker, you'd rather tell jokes than cultivate your powers

Powers: turning self and others into ice, making ice weapons, becoming nearly invisible

Saturday, August 19, 2006

... And I feel fine...

There's nothing like being called a racist jerk to start off a lovely weekend.

The buzz this morning is that Korea is going to 'test' a nuclear bomb next week; I think probably on Israel with Iran's asistance, etc.

That disgusting piece of human waste by the name of John Karr deserves neither justice nor life. Let me at him. With a big sharp knife.

R.E.M. lyrics to ponder...

"It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)"

That's great, it starts with an earthquake,
birds and snakes, an aeroplane-
Lenny Bruce is not afraid.

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn-
world serves its own needs, don't misserve your own needs.
Feed it up a knotch, speed, grunt no, strength no.
Ladder structure clatter with fear fight, down height
Wire in a fire, representing seven games in a government for hire and a combat site. Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck.
Team by team reporters baffled, trump, tethered, crop.
Look at that low plane! Fine, then.
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group, but it'll do.
Save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs
Listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and
the revered and the right - right.
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign towers.
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn.
Lock him in uniform and book burning, blood letting.
Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a motive. step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crush. Uh-oh, this means no fear- cavalier.
Renegade steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies.
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.

(chorus)
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine
it's time I had some time alone)
I feel fine

It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine
(it's time I had some time alone)

The other night I tripped, a nice continental drift divide.
Mountains sit in a line.
Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs.
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam, but neck, right? Right

It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine
(it's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine
(it's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine
(it's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it
(it's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine
(it's time I had some time alone)
(fade)


Thanks to DHammett here are alternative lyrics. Honestly, I've listened several times and compared them and can't decide which are correct:

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and
snakes, an aeroplane and Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn - world
serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs. Feed
it off an aux speak, grunt, no, strength, Ladder
start to clatter with fear fight down height. Wire
in a fire, representing seven games, a government
for hire and a combat site. Left of west and coming in
a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck. Team
by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped.
Look at that low playing! Fine, then. Uh oh,
overflow, population, common food, but it'll do. Save
yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs,
listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and
the revered and the right, right. You vitriolic,
patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty
psyched.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign
towers. Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself
churn. Locking in, uniforming, book burning, blood
letting. Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crushed, uh-oh, this means no
fear cavalier. Renegade steer clear! A tournament,
tournament, a tournament of lies. Offer me solutions,
offer me alternatives and I decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

The other night I dreamt of knives, continental
drift divide. Mountains sit in a line, Leonard
Bernstein. Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester
Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! You
symbiotic, patriotic, slam book neck, right? Right.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel
fine...fine...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Psychophysics

This is NOT about crazy physicists. ;-)

I'm in a kind of frisky, giddy mood today. I'm not sure why exactly, but why question it if it feels good? LOL Well, actually, I ask myself 'why' so I can know how to reproduce this feeling later or maybe it's to know whether or not I have any control over it. Ack. I'm getting away from myself.

I was a psychophysicist and didn't even know it. (click for the wikipedia article about Psychophysics) For my senior thesis I did this terribly hokey experiment that was meant to measure autonomic (physical) responses related to specific emotions in response to four different colors. It was supposed to be about affective ('scientific' word for "emotional") perception of color and trying to match that to changes in galvanic skin response (one of the measurements also used in lie-detecting tests). Because of the confluence of many outside factors I was totally not into it and did the very minimum required to say that I did an experiment. Add to that the fact that my college was a tiny, four-year (some took the five year option) liberal arts college without the resources to do a lot of real research. I did not get any statistically significant results (except maybe one tiny thing, but I'd have to dig that thing out and read it since it's been so long ago) which I'm pretty sure had more to do with the badly designed experiment than with a bad idea. ;-)

If I had ever heard the word 'psychophysics' back then I surely did forget it, though one of my favorite classes studied perception more deeply and was probably responsible for my continued interest in it. I think we used the term 'psychometrics' for that stuff instead of 'psychophysics'. Maybe that is because we discussed the measuring more than the measurements. Or maybe I should say that differently. We didn't get very far into how to interpret the measurements.

One of the issues we covered in that class (and many others, actually, it was drilled into us) was how the use of humans in experiments is restricted to things that don't harm them permanently and all that. And these limits in what could be done therefore limited what kind of ideas we could actually test. And I always thought that kind of sucked. ;-) Back in my reckless youth I was much more inclined to say if someone wanted to donate his living brain to science then let him. (I was very naive. I didn't consider the 'dark' side of things so much.) I felt that putting such limits on what we could do would eventually lead to the demise of this line of theoretical psychology and that there would be questions we could never answer. But from a quick search it looks as if it is still an active area of research. (I'm not current enough to know immediately if it is good research or useless.) But maybe new technologies have greatly expanded the types of acceptable experiments that can be done which in turn has possibly even led to some previously unrecognized questions and ideas. It is an evolution of ideas.

That goofy color-emotion "study" wasn't what I really wanted to do. I had become very interested in psychobiology and had developed some ideas that I wanted to explore. Probably the main one was that I wanted to see if there was any kind of relationship between a woman's testosterone levels and certain traits, behaviors, etc. I hypothesized that women with higher testosterone levels had more male-like personalities, aptitudes, etc. Women do produce some testosterone, just as men produce some female hormones too. I guess similar studies could be done regarding their influence on men, if any, but I was more interested in understanding myself and other women in those days. One of the objections to my idea was that this small amount of hormone couldn't possibly have that much effect on development and behavior (from a Cognitive professor). Another question was about what use that information might be (from a First Generation Feminist and Behaviorist professor). At that time there were only two psychology professors at my school. A third (Psychophysiologist) was hired after my stupid thesis was already under way.

-
Well, shit. I had to leave this for several hours and now I've lost my point. And my good mood seemed to fade and escape any clear classification. Oh, well, just another frustration to have to cogitate away.

Inspiring Lyrics

I found this quite by 'accident' yesterday. It is a worthy companion to Desiderata:


EVERBODY'S FREE (TO WEAR SUNSCREEN) by Baz Luhrmann

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’97
Wear Sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
sunscreen would be it.
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists,
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience
I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh nevermind,
you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself
and recall in a way you can’t grasp now, how much possibility lay before you
and how fabulous you really looked,
you are not as fat as you imagine.
(my god, that is SO true!)

Don’t worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you

Sing

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts,
don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy, sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind,
the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults,
if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life,
the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22
what they wanted to do with their lives,
some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t,
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40,
Maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can, don’t be afraid of it,
or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Brother and sister together we'll make it through
Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you've been hurtin, but I've been waitin' to be there for you
And I'll be there just helping you out whenever I can

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings, they are the best link to your past
and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get,
the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard,
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander,
you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
Maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia,
dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off,
painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen

Brother and sister together we'll make it through
Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you've been hurtin, but I've been waitin' to be there for you
And I'll be there just helping you out whenever I can
Everybody's free oh yeah
Everybody's free oh yeah

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Location, Location, Location (A New Promised Land?)

I've been pondering the Middle East problem and I think I've thought of a solution if we could just get everyone to agree to it. It's pretty simple.

We should give Israel some or all of our southern border with Mexico. If they could just release their attachment to that piece of desert over there they could have a bigger, nicer piece of desert here. Maybe George Bush would be willing to set aside a chunk of Texas? Or we might could figure out how to make a long strip of territory for them all along the border. Israel is not very big. Here is how it compares to California which is smaller than Texas:

map from http://www.iris.org.il/sizemaps.htm

Wouldn't it be quite attractive for them to relocate to a larger, generally much more peaceful area where they would be more welcomed and appreciated? Of course, in exchange for our land we could have benefits too. Israel would do a fine, no really, an excellent job at providing security at this very vulnerable and disregarded border.

I know that the religious connection to Jerusalem is ultra-important to the Jewish people, but from a 'pure-bred' American point of view (referring to being descended from people who fled their home land for a better place) I must wonder if it is really worth all the fighting and death. Maybe the Jewish people will find their Messiah who will show them a New Promised Land? You know, something's got to give. I think it's time for all of us to rethink the way things are and the way they could be. If things stay on the course they are on now all of these men are going to insist on bringing their own religions' prophecies into being. It doesn't have to be that way. Could George Bush be the New Messiah? Maybe if he could convince Israel to move to a better place. And any Americans who gave up their land for the sake of Israel would surely be highly compensated with money as well as renown. It's just a thought.

Yeah, I know, dream on...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Got the Butterflies All Tied Up


This is a Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae incarnata) just after emerging from its chrysalis, expanding its wings, and preparing for its last stage of life. The photo really doesn't do justice to its exquisite beauty and opalescent coloring (I wonder if the coloring is why it's named 'vanilla incarnate'). This photo was the other on display at the Dogwood Arts Festival Photo Show in April along with 'Splendid Anomaly.'

This post has been a long time (several months) coming. One problem was that I just could not think of the right title to 'tie it all up'. Then a few weeks ago (yet more delays) I heard the Prince song "When Doves Cry" on the radio followed by Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight." It was the 'random' juxtaposition of these two songs that somehow connected for a solution. Hearing in the second song, "I can feel you breathe; I can feel your heart beat faster.....faster," caused a 'free association' (see, female verbal pattern thinking can be pretty cool) to the first song:

Touch if u will my stomach
Feel how it trembles inside
You've got the butterflies all tied up
Don't make me chase u
Even doves have pride


I've been somewhat obsessed with butterflies for the last several years. This obsession with butterflies was born in December 1999, when in Puerto Rico exploring Old San Juan we stumbled upon The Butterfly People. I was instantly caught in the "butterfly dimension" and butterflies (click for a brief description of some cute shamanic totem animals including butterflies) began to enter my life in various ways. Living in the country for the last 5 years has made it possible for me to have hands-on studies of them. In the summers my friends have teased me about my jars of caterpillars and chrysalides lined up on the kitchen bar. But they've never complained when they got to watch a butterfly fly for the first time. (However, this year the kitchen bar has been dominated by the black widow spider jar, and that has been the source of even more teasing about me really finally 'losing it.' lol But I think that the spider's presence, until her recent death, fit nicely with the symbolism of tied-up butterflies.)

I've recently finished reading the book, An Obsession With Butterflies, by Sharman Apt Russell. The first few sentences of the book immediately intrigued me:

In physics, string theory suggests that there are more than four dimensions, perhaps ten in all. [I thought it was 11.] These extra dimensions are curled up into a very small space, big enough only for subatomic particles, or tiny loops of vibrating "string." The theory does not rule out more dimensions, perhaps in the area of time. These dimensions, here but not here, exist outside our range of perception.

Adding butterflies to your life is like adding another dimension.


Russell goes on to describe examples of the richness and complexity of activities happening in the world all around us that we never even notice or perceive at all. Always surrounding us there are countless chemical messages being passed between flowers and insects (as well as other animals and plants) that exist in what can seem like dimensions other than our own. (I might could call it the "Olfactory Dimension".) She describes many examples of the hidden behavior that occurs in the butterfly world and how that behavior and other traits evolved in concert with the evolution of plants and other animals.

Let me indulge in a bit of quoting of out context. Czech string theorist Lubos Motl (who told me his name coincidentally is very similar to the Czech word for 'butterfly'- motyl[missing its proper accent thingy], which is much easier than the Aztec name of one type of butterfly, xiquipilchiuhpapalotl) says:

The punch line is that we absolutely need string theory to understand what's really going "inside" various physical systems that depend on nice mathematics. For an intelligent person, it is impossible to deny that string theory connects A,B) with C,D) and with E). It allows us to make seemingly obscure but true relations as clear as the sky. String theory allows us to answer questions in each category. It even tells us what are the right questions and what are the wrong questions. It also informs us which similarities, isomorphisms, and identities are deep and which of them are just random coincidences.

...

Our understanding of such dual systems is necessary if we want to predict what happens behind the borders between our current knowledge and our current ignorance. Sometimes the borders of the hostile empire of ignorance are only defined by our limited calculational skills. Sometimes the borders occur because without string theory, we would have no idea how to define the theory of the physical phenomena in the first place...


I know that he's not talking about butterflies and their seemingly extra-dimensional communications with flowers and other insects. But it's a fun thought to try to take complex theoretical physics and 'apply' it to events in the 'real' world. Russell does this with her opening paragraph, but that wasn't quite enough for me because I had hoped she would explicitly weave that idea into the rest of her book. I like to dig a little deeper and 'see' the connections in more detail. Or at least with my limited understanding of string theory it seems to fit together pretty well in that metaphorical sense. And I do want to emphasize the word "metaphorical" here because at this level that is all I can do to connect string theory and butterflies. I'm only describing an analogy or metaphor as I perceive it. I'm not capable of explaining why or how. (link to an explanation of various ways of looking at the Universe) However, I do think that when a theory begins to be used as a metaphor for real events that it means it is gaining acceptance in the minds of non-scientists. There is so much more going on in the world around us than the tiny bit that we do perceive. I like the use of String Theory as metaphor even if it might not be 'analytically correct'. It is philosophically pleasing.

I enjoyed the first half of Russell's book more than the rest because she discussed in detail some scientific observations of butterfly behavior and the complexity that has evolved (and continues to evolve) in relation to other animal and plant behaviors. Butterflies and ants in particular have established close symbiotic relationships:

Over 2000 species of butterflies around the world suffer from myrmecophily. They are ant-loving. (page 32)
And this dynamic symbiosis is present with flowers too, though these relationships rely on a balance of needs by each participant and seem to constantly change/adjust in small ways which is, of course, the point of evolution. But this interconnectedness isn't limited to animal-animal or animal-plant relationships. For example, in many species their developing coloring responds to temperature changes, but that ability is lost in butterflies bred in climate controlled labs in fewer than 20 generations. Apparently, climate change is necessary for adaptability and evolution. Whoda thunkit? ;-)

There is also a discussion of the unique characteristic of caterpillar blood that seems to 'count time', a true biological clock. This is only one of the discussions in the book that makes it so worthwhile and thought provoking. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates the complexity and 'connectedness' of Life even down to the smallest, most common of creatures. (And it's a small book and a quick read, provided you don't have kids constantly interrupting you.)

In her discussions of the history of butterfly study, lepidopterology, we learn that Vladimir Nabokov was an avid and well-known 20th Century lepidopterist. Many of us know him for his controversial novel, Lolita, about, as most of us know, a pedophile's pursuit and 'capture' of a young girl. (I haven't read it, and I will admit that it could have literary value despite the subject which I find disgusting.) Apparently, Nabokov was obsessed with butterflies too, especially their metamorphosis from a "bag of goo" (Russell's description) to a beautiful work of biological art. Russell sums it up by saying:

It is a gesture of beauty almost too casual. (page 48)
"A gesture of beauty almost too casual" seems to me to be expected from an "Elegant Universe."

When gulf fritillaries are mating they stay connected for most of a day.

The primary purpose of the adult butterfly is reproduction. And butterfly sex is almost as varied as human sex. Some species like the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) engage in 'rape' or what looks to us like forced, uninvited sex, and is probably the result of the male Monarch lacking enough pheromones to properly 'attract' a female. Other species like the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonia) engage in pupal sex, or what could be compared to pedophilia in humans, though in the butterflies it does often result in actual reproduction but also sometimes results in female death. This barbaric practice in butterflies has evolved probably as a result of intense male competition to perpetuate their own genes. They even sometimes engage in interspecies pupal mating (which kills the female) probably to reduce competition on host plants. (A disturbing thought is that perhaps human pedophilia is an evolutionary relic which has yet to completely disappear.) And some butterfly species have even developed a form of 'bondage' (or being "tied up") with a structure called a "sphragis" which Russell equates to a "chastity belt" that keeps other males from mating with a female. However one male butterfly sexual feature that I'm sure most human males would wish they had are rudimentary 'eyes' on their genitalia that detect light and probably assist the males in properly 'lining up' with the female genitalia.

Gulf fritillaries are probably my favorite butterflies for several reasons. They are plentiful here so I have gotten to watch them quite a bit. They have the coolest scientific name ("vanilla incarnate"), and they feed on the Passion Flower plant (Passiflora incarnata or roughly "widespread goddess of flowers incarnate") which grows wild around here and is quite beautiful and smells incredible:

Maybe their feeding on this Passion Flower is part of why their mating lasts so long? And it seems logical to me to think that they must surely be having little butterfly orgasms even though we've yet found a way to detect them. (Why would they stay connected so long if wasn't very pleasurable? Staying connected for long periods increases the risk of being eaten by a bird or other predator so you'd think there has to be some big benefit to offset that danger.) Maybe these butterfly orgasms are occurring in another dimension, a curled-up dimension predicted by string theory that we've also yet to detect? Maybe someone should try to study this further? Maybe this is the answer so many have been searching for? ;-)

I'd like to leave it here with that 'punchline', but no discussion of butterflies and the significance of their lives and life-cycle is complete without mentioning death. Butterflies, like most of us, live then reproduce and then die. It's the Way of Life. In Russell's book there is a brief discussion of the cross-cultural spiritual symbolism of butterflies' metamorphosis. Many cultures have independently associated this metamorphosis with the life/death/rebirth cycle of Life, and some have associated it with reincarnation. Some say that butterflies are the souls of dead humans. Here is an iconic representation of this idea:



Of course, there is much in the book that I haven't mentioned, but that's why you need to read it. Now that I've come to the end of this I'm wondering if it was worth the trouble, but I'm relieved to have it finally finished.

A quick disclaimer here: this is for entertainment purposes only. ;-)

Dream Weaver



Dream weaver I believe you can get me through the night
Dream weaver I believe we can reach the morning light

Fly me high through the starry skies
Maybe to an astral plane
Cross the highways of fantasy
Help me to forget today's pain

"Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright (a song that gave me nightmares when I was a kid because of the weird sounds in it)



This week I've been in a cycle of vivid dreams. These cycles come and go and I'm not really sure what drives them. I've had many of my recurring dream themes this week. They are

roller-coaster type of train rides on bridges across a very wide rivers and valley areas,

beaches and sand and shells,

a strange city that is unknown to me in my waking life but familiar in my dreams,

a college campus that is supposed to be my alma mater but doesn't look at all like it,

hotels and dorms in the strange city and college campus.


There are other recurring dreams that if I've had this week I don't remember. My most favorite dreams are the ones in which I can fly by 'swimming' through the air. Apparently not everyone has these flying dreams which is a shame. David says he's never dreamed of flying. My oldest and I have had the same dreams. One in particular that we've both had is of flying in space in planetary orbits but not in a spacecraft.

One question that I've pondered a bit is "How did sleep and dreams evolve?"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Googlism

Saw this at Kat's a while back. It's pretty funny. Click post title to go to googlism. I've made parenthetical comments for clarification:

Googlism for: rae ann

rae ann is onsite 100% of the time (pretty much)
rae ann is a free (free what??)
rae ann is clean and sober (at the moment, yes)
rae ann is skilled with languages and accents (not really)
rae ann is still quite active (I want to say something really dirty, lol)
rae ann is a ph (of what? acid or alkaline?)
rae ann is the graduate admissions officer for the college of liberal arts and sciences educational background (not me)
rae ann is the g (not sure what that means but it sounds alright)
rae ann is the assistant to the chair of the department of biological sciences at the university of denver (I had no idea there were so many of Rae Anns)
rae ann is responsible for the daily activity of all company databases (you could say that)
rae ann is on vacation (I wish!)
rae ann is the secretary at our church (not me)
rae ann is a busy mom doing home (absolutely!)
rae ann is a 1999 recipient of service 25 award for it service & support (nope)
rae ann is the sister of mike wingert (I didn't know I had a brother)
rae ann is currently funding her degree in library technology through distance learning from the university of maine by working in a computer bag factory (not me either)
rae ann is currently an occupational therapist with the western health system in cumberland (nope)
rae ann is in her 30s and hopes to enroll in the applied business technology program at ucfv (only particially true)
rae ann is thirty (eight)
rae ann is committed to (the looney bin?)
rae ann is up (to no good)
rae ann is perhaps better (than?)
rae ann is a physical edu (???)
rae ann is a senior majoring in marketing at bethel college (nope, not me)
rae ann is a great tease and models many different pairs of panty hose (only half correct and I don't have any panty hose)
rae ann is in a contest where pies are smashed all over her face leaving her a mess (that sounds kind of dirty, lol)

Letting the days go by...

And you may ask yourself, "Well, how did I get here?"

"Once in a Life" by the Talking Heads



I've recently been doing a lot more 'homemaking' than working at the computer. Maybe I've had some kind of epiphany about my life and what it is and how good I really have it. And maybe I've been trying to be more appreciative of it all by taking better care of it. Maybe I've been Stepfordized? ;-)

Seriously though, I've been having some good conversations with a friend about our lives as women and wives and mothers, and I think I realized that I've gotten to that point in my life when I have most of the things that I've always wanted. And by 'things' I'm not talking about material possessions, though we can't completely eliminate the material things from the equation. I've begun to allow a feeling of accomplishment to establish itself in my psyche. I've looked back at the last 15 years and I can see real results from all of the struggles and hard work. It's pretty cool.

Of course, I can't expect everything to stay as it is (nor would that really be desirable to have a static life), but I hope that I can firmly establish my feelings of appreciation and satisfaction so that they won't disappear with any changes in my environment. I think I've kind of grown up. Well, that implies that a process is complete, but I know that our living and learning doesn't really have a stopping point (except for death, but even that is debatable). We all go through stages and phases and whatnot.

And I definitely don't want to sound like I think I've reached some grand pinnacle of life because I know I still have much to learn and experience. But I do think that I've reached a point of being more secure in my own self and not so dependent on what others might think or feel about me or anything else. Maybe many other people have already reached that point and I'm just late to the party again? But the timing isn't all that important anyway. After all we all are stardust...


Once in a lifetime...

Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mae West quote for the week:

"It don't mean a thing if you don't pull a string."


update: I can't believe I misspelled her name!

The Four Agreements

Inspiration (the muses, answered prayers, intelligence, whatever you want to call it) is a funny thing.

Thoughts arrive like butterflies
But he don't know
So he chases them away

"Evenflow" by Pearl Jam



A little fun with numerology:

4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256

2 + 5 + 6 = 13

1 + 3 = 4

"The number 4 symbolizes the principle of putting ideas into form. It signifies work and productivity. The 4 is constructive, realistic, traditional and cautious. It is the number of system, order, and management." (direct quote from site linked above)


Four 1

The elements:

air - relates to the mind, thoughts, intellect
earth - relates to the force of place, environment, landscape
fire - relates to action, behavior, motion, movement, energy
water - relates to emotions, visceral feelings and perceptions


Four 2

The directions:

east - relates to spirituality, source, illumination, thought
south - relates to the material ("real") world, personal environment, physical perception
west - relates to 'life path', behavior, movement, action
north - relates to wisdom, integration, purpose, intention


Four 3

The intelligences:

intellectual (measured by typical IQ tests) Relates to the air element, east, thought, how one thinks
emotional (measured by 'maturity') Relates to the water element, north, wisdom, how one 'feels' about his world
perceptual/place (measured by 'common sense') Relates to the earth element, south, perception, how much one senses his world
behavioral (measured by 'success') Relates to the fire element, west, behavior, how one acts in the world


Four 4

A book I'd recommend to anyone who's interested in spiritual health is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz which discusses Toltec wisdom. These four 'rules' for living are complementary to other spiritual/religious teachings.

The Four Agreements are

1. Be impeccable with your word,

2. Don't take anything personally,

3. Don't make assumptions,

4. Always do your best.

I think these are good, but sometimes difficult, rules to live by. They seem to depend upon a reasonable level of intelligence, all four kinds, not just any one. But primarily these agreements require enhancing focus on emotional, perceptual, and behavioral intelligences. One might ask how these are really different from the 'standard' IQ and intellectual intelligence. Well, it seems pretty apparent by looking at people that just because someone has a high IQ it doesn't automatically mean that he/she is emotionally, perceptually, or behaviorally intelligent. Many 'smart' people have no 'common sense' (meaning they don't know their ass from a hole in the ground- sorry that's not too technical, lol) as evidenced by those geniuses who can't remember where they left their keys or whatever. (I'm flying by the seat of my pants today so forgive any blaring incongruities.) Likewise, many times very 'smart' people are very emotionally immature/underdeveloped. (I'm not sure how malleable these various intelligences are, but I'd say there is a similar threshold as with typical IQ.) They just don't know how to get along with others. And then there are those very smart people who just do dumb things. They make bad choices. This is evidence of lower behavioral intelligence.

'Don't take anything personally' means that what other people do or say is a reflection of their own reality and not yours. Even if someone kills you it isn't because of you. It is because of his/her own thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions. No one is responsible for anyone else's reality, only their own, so don't take it personally when someone conflicts with you. It's not all about you! This depends upon emotional intelligence (or the balance of the water element within one's spirit which translates to wisdom). Part of this worldview that might seem strange to Western thinkers is this relationship of emotion to wisdom. But the connection is in how one handles emotions that makes him/her wise. A person who isn't especially intellectually intelligent can be very wise, or emotionally intelligent.

'Don't make assumptions' means that you should pay attention to your surroundings and how they change or don't change. Don't think that because something is a particular way once that it will always be that way. You have to be perceptually engaged in and aware of your world to truly function in it. And this means actively questioning yourself and others in order to know what is real. Knowing what is real is a simple definition of 'common sense' or perceptual intelligence. (This is related to the earth element- where we are- and the southern direction and the power of place, or how we relate to our environment.)

'Always do your best' means making good choices in how to act/behave and is clearly dependent upon behavioral intelligence. It means making the choice to do your best under whatever circumstances. And if you've truly done your best (made good choices) then you can't harshly judge yourself. Behavioral intelligence means that you can reliably predict the outcomes of various actions and choose a path with the best possible outcome. (This is related to the element fire and how its energy is used for either constructive or destructive purposes.)

'Be impeccable with your word' means to always speak with integrity and requires the integration of emotional intelligence (wisdom), perceptual intelligence (common sense), behavioral intelligence (right action), and less so, intellectual intelligence (ability to think it all through). Personally, I find this Agreement the most difficult to consistently follow, but I think it is probably the one that depends on all the others. In order to be "impeccable with your word" you must first "not make assumptions" and "not take things personally" and "do your best." Being impeccable with your word is a reflection of the proper use of the air element. After all, we do speak by pushing air through our bodies, and in some world-views this is akin to sharing a part of your soul with the world.


Disclaimer: This is certainly not a comprehensive discussion of Toltec Wisdom or any other thing. It is basically an outline regurgitation (Did you know that honey is basically bee regurgitation? Honey and lemons go really well together. Oh, I just can't wait 'til those lemons are ripe!) of what I've absorbed from my own life's experience and studies. It is okay with me if someone thinks it is all Mumbo-Jumbo (their reality that I won't take personally). I'd like to close with some four dimensional lyrics that popped into my mind:

You put your whole self in
You put your whole self out
You put your whole self in
And you shake it all about
You do the Hokey-Pokey
And you turn yourself around
That's what it's all about!



(I just totally cracked myself up)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Updates

RIP Momma Black Widow Spider: She died on 7-31-06. I think most of the babies have died too because they aren't moving at all, but I have seen one moving this morning.

Lemon Tree: The lemons are still growing great and have tripled in size since the last update. They love this excessive heat and humidity. I can't wait for the lemonade! The weird combination of spider webs has been abandoned. Maybe Praying Mantis ate the spider? But while I was in NC the tree got blown over in a big storm. I haven't seen Praying Mantis since then.

School: The first day of school is Aug. 11. What is the logic of starting the school year with a half day on a Friday? It must be the same logic that made the last day of last school year a half day on a Monday.