best short clip on the subject ..definitely worth seeing ..!!!
A wave curls, topples and breaks overhead. I pop out the backside and lie on my back floating in its wake. It's like looking through a fishbowl, I see blue sky above with eucalyptus trees and ocean spray bobbing around the periphery. Two pelicans pass overhead leaving behind a trail of mental-chatter. “Predators of the sea ..I wonder if they can see their prey or do they sense them some other way ..and why can’t I do that ..and why do I always ask the same questions ..?” “Ungrounded” is how my father would answer. “Totally impractical and too childish to even consider.” His voice reminds me to return to the present ..he’s not here now. A swell passes, lifting me in the air as it goes. Now I’m upright and definitely tuned to the present. A wall of water is approaching. I burst into action and try to match its speed. It picks me up and drops me ..the momentum of the fall helping me stay ahead of the break.
The ocean is olive-green with a soft silvery glow where the sun is absorbed (not reflected) by the surface. There’s a strong northwest swell but mostly small mushy waves. So I’m swimming just outside them. I run into Barb on the beach where she’s preparing for her regular swim out to the shipping lanes. I sit with Joanne and her son Ryan and share a couple mouthfuls of sushi rolled in seaweed. Ryan is 6-years old and just finished surf-camp. He likes to tell people he’s part Cherokee. He already looks like a California surfer with thick blond hair, dusty tan and cool Oakley shades. He goes and grabs his boogie board and I take him out and launch him on the waves. He rides them into shore and quickly paddles back into position ..where I launch him again. Says he likes the feeling of bobbing up and down in the water. “So do I ..” I tell him.
I wipe off the lenses of my senses. Sure enough, there’s a multilevel interchange of butterflies zipping around the creek. Birds eat olives from the trees on the other side and spit them out on the deck ..and me. More ingenious ones drop hard breadcrumbs into a bird-feeder so they’ll be soft enough to eat. My neighbor Don is following orders from his wife and clearing the back-forty. I’m sitting here trying to make sense of the news. A feeling of frustration is gnawing at me ..not sure where it’s coming from. Possibly the remnants of yesterdays’ fiasco. The radio operators in the canyon are disrupting wireless connections and pissing off the notebook PC operators. I don’t see a ‘civil’ solution. Hoping there’s a technical solution that’s just not apparent to me. My brain feels as small as a pea this morning.
I’m walking over to the high-school athletic fields nearby when I run into my neighbor Ron. I say hello how are you and stuff, and he says “fine ..the same old thing as yesterday and the day before. ” I detect a hint of discontent. My first reaction is to try and counter this by suggesting it’s something we all have in common. “Well then, I’m catching you at a moment when I, too, am doing the same old thing as yesterday and the day before.” He shakes his head in agreement (?) ..which looks more like weariness. I figure there must be something else going on and tell myself not to counter whatever that might be. Neither of us really have time to talk right now, so I just go “You know Ron, it’s alright ..the world is a cycle.” He looks at me while taking a hit off his cigarette. I don’t know why, but I’ve got this urge to continue.
Julie tells me about a concert series playing Thursdays at Chase Palm Park. I feel confident I know where that is ..but she tells me I’m wrong. Now I’m standing where I thought it was ..and I know I’m wrong. This is Rainbow Park. A lifeguard explains that Chase Palm Park follows the shore and ends at the wharf. Somewhere in-between, it juts inland where there’s a small amphitheater. “You outta’ go see a show ..” he says “..they’re pretty cool.” “You gonna’ go..?” I ask. “Oh yeah!” Down by the water, I’m tracking a low flying pelican until I see it veer off just in time to avoid beaning a kid sitting in the surf. From that close, it looks like a small VW. The kid doesn’t seem to notice but his mother looks pretty shaken. Now I’m close enough to where I can tell her not to worry “..they’ve got sonar” I say.
Tribal leaders and government official say there’s fewer salmon swimming off the coast of Northern California these days. I love salmon. So, of course, I immediately suspect polluted waters ..brought about by wetland destruction ..big know-it-all that I am. I follow coastal developments like this but not nearly close enough to trust my own conclusions. I ask professor Scott at UCSB and get a completely different answer. “It’s more complicated” he says “ ..ocean currents and water temperatures change and relocate the food supply. The salmon, however ..aren’t raised in the ocean ..they’re spawned in hatcheries. As a result, they stay genetically unchanged and continue to look for food in the same location instead of extending their boundaries. Each generation gets smaller instead of adapting.” I tell him thanks ..I did not know that ..and say it definitely reassures me I’m still evolving.
Listening to The Stones singing Lady Jane ..one word after another ..bringing up memories one after another ..until I’m following them like stepping-stones. I’m back in college where I found sanctuary after the recklessness of high school. Taking refuge in a library ..finding solace in the words of William James and Alan Watts ..informing me I wasn’t as crazy as I thought. Days spend discussing the latest books by John Fowles and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ..finding out who got into grad school and how. Nobody I knew wanted this to end. Playing ‘go’ in the courtyard until classes looked like a grid of black and white stones. Crowding around professors like reporters chasing clues. Spending Sunday discussing philosophy with a faculty adviser until late at night. Continuing at Hamburger Henrys’ until Monday morning and the beginning of a new cycle. I felt like an explorer with pith helmet and miner’s lamp ..nerd that I am.
In 1975, Baruch Fischoff identified a major obstacle to forming new memories ..ourselves. He found that people frequently underestimate how surprised they are when events don’t turn out the way they expect. He polled a group of students before and after the Watergate hearings. Respondents who felt Nixon would be exonerated (with say 80% confidence) .. overwhelmingly came back and said they weren’t surprised by the verdict (and remember being just over 50% confident). When people learn the outcome of events, they unconsciously go back and adjust the estimate for what they thought would happen. This has the net-effect of revising memory so that it feels as if they “..knew it all along”, which diminishes the surprise-value of information [link].
“The meaning of a sentence is derived from the original words by an active, interpretive process. The original sentence that is perceived is rapidly forgotten and memory is for the information (meaning) contained in the sentence.” ~ Jacqueline Sachs [link]
For years psychologists have studied what remains after we hear somebody speak. What they’ve come up with is something that resembles a three-dimensional construct inside our head. The construct is made up of linked events, images and feelings. Although part of the construct may come from the original sentence ..most of it is supplied by the past experience of the listener. What we come away with is a feeling of resonance and familiarity, based largely on our own beliefs and experience ..and not necessarily the meaning intended by the speaker.
Writing has been shown to replace ruminating. Ruminating is generally thought of as the mental activity devoted to replaying past traumatic experience. It is a well-known contributor to clinical depression. That’s why writing workshops are often included in the treatment of depression. However, ruminating over future events, such as taking a high-stakes exam or something, can be equally disruptive. In this case, ruminating often leads to “choking” where students perform more poorly than expected given their skill level, especially when there are large incentives for optimal performance and negative consequences for poor performance. University of Chicago Psychologist Sian Beilock has found that the simple act of writing about anxiety can significantly reduce students’ chances of choking, especially if it’s done just prior to test-taking [link].
Continued from previous post [link]
In 1998, psychologist Arthur Graesser examined components of speech and reading comprehension in ‘real-time’. See [Einstein’s Dreams]. Components of comprehension include things like ‘unexpected event-handling’ and ‘outcome-resolution’. They are measured in milliseconds. Using an interactive computer-presentation, he recorded the time students spent at each step. Sort of like a reaction-time study. What he found was counter-intuitive. Comprehension scores were actually higher for students who took longer to process unexpected events in a narrative. Students who spent less time had lower scores. On closer examination, he found they were interpreting events way too quickly. Consequently, they were missing the bridge to ‘explanatory’ events presented elsewhere in the narrative.
From LATimes 3:13 PM June 29 ~~ Firefighters report progress protecting Buddhist retreat
As more than 1,000 fires continue to burn around California, flames advanced toward more homes near Big Sur today, but firefighters said they are making progress in protecting an isolated Buddhist retreat in the Los Padres National Forest.
From LATimes June, 28 As flames approach Big Sur monastery, monks prepare to fight TASSAJARA, CALIF. -- In this remote Zen enclave on Big Sur's forested backside, wildfires lurk on three sides. As flames edge closer and ash falls from a crimson sky, the Buddhist monks are readying for a final stand.
TASSAJARA, CALIF. -- In this remote Zen enclave on Big Sur's forested backside, wildfires lurk on three sides. As flames edge closer and ash falls from a crimson sky, the Buddhist monks are readying for a final stand.
I was raised to believe that America is the land of the free ~ and a sanctuary from religious persecution. So naturally I was alarmed to discover that it all depends on which church I go to. The Republican Administration has chosen to identify itself with the religious right ..primarily Evangelical Christians. The evangelical community has arrogantly staked the moral high-ground ~ and declared themselves the only legitimate believers entitled to hold power. They have adopted their own form of religious persecution by creating a test to discriminate against public office holders. It goes something like this: 1) do you follow divine guidance and 2) do your prayers get answered by the same God as ours.
Thursday December 6, 2007: Today I read about the humongous waves I experienced yesterday (see Offshore crush below). They actually started out as swells several days before ~ hundreds of miles out to sea. Somewhere between Hawaii and California; they got amp’d.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007: The forecast today calls for warm and sunny skies ~ offshore wind ~ and humongous waves. I pop some vitamin C ~ chase it with fruit juice and coffee ~ put the top down ~ toss my body board in ~ and careen through town ~ feeling warm but doubtful there‘ll be much surf ~ we just don’t get humongous waves here. I round the bend from Olive Mill Road to Channel Drive ~ that runs along the beach ~ where I enter a fog bank so thick ~ it blots out the sun. Burn-off, I suppose ~ no, wait ~ its ocean spray being thrown off the swells hitting the shore ~ creating a mist that hangs in the air. I pull over ~ run across the sand ~ and dive in ~ realizing, in horror, I’m over my head in break water ~ created by humongous waves crashing ~ one after the other ~ leaving me nothing to do except hang on and ride them in.
I’m sitting on the beach watching the waves break and thinking ~ there’s a current out there ~ and I’m gonna ride it ~ I’ll start at the beginning ~ body boarding in Tahiti ~ then I’ll get on a plane and follow it north to Hawaii ~ catch it breaking on a beach in Maui ~ from there I’ll fly to the mainland ~ catch it breaking on a beach in Southern California ~ go see my sister ~ pick up my Alfa ~ speed up the coast ~ catch it again on a beach somewhere in Northern California ~ if I still detect a pulse ~ I’ll board a plane so I can watch that swell pound the coast off a point in the Gulf of Alaska ~ because maybe then I’ll feel ~ and not just think ~ but really feel ~ the rhythm of the sea ~ and the rest of the planet.
I have a friend I call Crazy Charlie ~ he chats and sometimes argues with people who aren’t around ~ I have a theory about Charlie ~ his ‘band path filters’ are worn out ~ allowing fuzzy signals of thought to slip through and travel the same pathways as signals coming from his senses ~ making it hard for him to distinguish between the sound of his ‘inner voices’ and the sound of other people’s voices ~ often the voices of people he doesn’t get along with ~ which leads me to another theory ~ thoughts from his subconscious mind ~ opinions he’s not aware of ~ get amp’d and slip through there as well ~ arriving on the same channel as a co-worker saying hello in the morning ~ which may be another reason he has trouble holding a job ~ in fact, there’
Life finds a way ~ that is my favorite line from the movie Jurassic Park ~ turns out border fences don't present much of an obstacle either ~ the wall going up in Naco Arizona is a tightly woven honeycomb structure ~ designed to prevent ‘footholds’ ~ but within days it became an ideal pegboard for screwdrivers ~ which allows ‘handholds’ ~ life found a way ~ I remember the words of a zen master: ‘what’s softest in the world drives what’s hardest’ ~ and when I think about the way water wears down boulders ~ or the way thoughts knock down obstacles ~ the more I'm convinced ~ life finds a way.